The Audacity to Win: A Call for Strategy for the US Left

Posted by admin on June 11, 2015 under Socialism, Strategy | Be the First to Comment

By Left Strategy Collective Members

May 30, 2015 – There is something bubbling beneath the surface in the US. Everyone can feel it. Everywhere there are mass actions – on issues ranging from fast food workers’ rights, to deportations, from the latest police killing, to community displacement, from defending collective bargaining, to getting clean water, from getting the water turned back on, to ending the occupation of Gaza.

There is something bubbling, but the question remains whether it will evaporate into steam or explode like a volcano. Capitalism confronts people all over the world, including the US, and its crises implicate the very survival of humankind. Yes, there are sprinkled victories, hopeful uprisings, and electoral surprises, but we know in our hearts it is not enough.

We go to sleep with the question, "When and how?" When and how will the tables turn? When and how will we become a force in US politics and win power? When and how are we going to be able to change the nature of the field we are forced to play on? In order to address these questions, we need a strategy for the left. We will refer to "the left" here as those forces that oppose the capitalist, white supremacist, hetero-patriarchal system and seek to build an alternative society.

In this paper, we will make the case for the importance of strategy, we will lay out our definition of strategy and the components we believe are necessary for the building a game- changing strategy for the left. We would like to see the development and implementation of a strategy for power –where the oppressed are able to determine their own livelihood and how society functions. This strategy would necessarily be aimed at an emancipatory transition from capitalism.

This paper will not be the strategy. It is a contribution to the many left voices that are calling for the need for strategy, and to begin to build a shared language of what strategy is. We are a small core of leftists from different sectors of the movement. We do not believe that we alone can build this strategy. However we have some thoughts about what is to be done and we have a commitment to building the space to develop this strategy with like-minded leftists. Our hope is that the process of engaging in this level of strategy development will promote a new movement culture of more intentional, collective, and focused movement development that will bring us to game-changing victories and power that will transform this country.

WHAT IS STRATEGY?

The act of developing strategy should result in more than a political line, a political program, or a new organization. It will not be enough to have a clever slogan. It will not be enough to focus on a single task, tactic, or campaign. The type of strategy that is necessary to build among leftists would: 1) imagine and formulate a vision of an alternative to capitalism; 2) analyze the current conditions both on our side (the working class, organized forces, and the left overall) as well as the opposition (the ruling class and the capitalist state); and 3) work toward that vision through devising a continually evolving program that would strengthen the forces for liberation and weaken the capitalist forces on an economic, political, and ideological scale to the point of "putting it out of business" all together.

Tactics are different from strategy. Tactics are the specific types of actions we take to execute our strategy. The series of actions may make up a particular program, but they are not the entirety of our strategy. The strategy will determine plans, to be put into action, evaluated and summed-up. It will not be based on what worked in one city and then applied to a different city with completely different conditions. It will not be based on our personal moods, whims, or the flavor of the month. It will not be a mere goal with no way to achieve it. Goals are the aims that our strategy is built around. It will be a comprehensive approach that includes our analysis of conditions, our hypothesis of how we will build power and win. This strategy becomes a living course of action that is implemented, tested, summed-up, evaluated, and reworked. (Continued)

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Discussion: How Socialists Should Support the Sanders Campaign

Posted by admin on May 31, 2015 under Elections, Left Unity, Socialism, Strategy | Be the First to Comment

By Jim Skillman

CCDS Atlanta

Among the various socialist organizations and unaffiliated independent socialists, there are two distinct camps regarding Bernie Sanders’ candidacy: those who will try to support it, and those who won’t. As a socialist who sees the value of his campaign on many different levels, I intend to play an active role in raising money, turning out support and urging people to vote for him. At the same time, I realize there is nothing I could write or say that would change anyone’s mind in the other camp, so I will avoid the pointless arguments and discussions around this topic, and leave it to others who wish to pursue those engagements.

That said, I believe there is a right way and a wrong way for socialists to take on this work, and I’d like to warn against us falling into either of these traps. As I see it, there are two dangers we should avoid.

First danger: campaigning in a way that does not build an independent group or grassroots network that will survive the primaries or the election. We saw this happen here around the Obama campaign even as early as 2008. Many of us did canvassing, raised and contributed money along with all the other activities. After the election was over, no real organization survived, and even the local official Democratic Party organizations were left in a weakened state. Even the Obama for America groups, which were controlled from the top down, petered out after a few weeks, and we were left with nothing. Let’s not miss this opportunity in 2016!

This mistake can be avoided if we make creating a grassroots network and/or organization, one that is completely independent of the Democratic Party hierarchy, the driver of the “Sanders for President” work we undertake here. This is why in many places CCDS people will be supporting the Sanders campaign though our work in Progressive Democrats of America, a federal PAC that is not controlled by the Democratic Party establishment. We could do the same here, but even if we don’t work through PDA, we should endeavor to set up an independent group that will survive into the future.

Second danger: campaigning in a narrow way, one that equates Sanders’ platform with democratic socialism. Although Sanders has previously described himself as a democratic socialist, we must keep in mind that he is not running as a socialist in this campaign, and his platform, as great as it is, isn’t socialist, democratic or otherwise. Sanders is NOT running a socialist campaign, and to conflate his platform with socialism is wrong on two counts: 1) it distorts what socialism actually is, and 2) it will alienate many who otherwise would find much to support in his platform but have negative ideas about socialism. Nowhere on his website or in any of his material will you even find the word “socialism”.

Of course, as the campaign gathers steam, there will be plenty of opportunities to educate and recruit people to our various socialist organizations (DSA, CPUSA, CCDS). But this can’t be the only or even the main focus. If we truly leverage our resources to carry out this work and avoid the traps mentioned, we will end up with both a stronger united front and a growing socialist movement.

DRAFT OF AN EIGHT-POINT PLATFORM FOR MAKING A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH ON ‘LEFT UNITY’

Posted by admin on February 3, 2015 under CCDS Today, Left Unity, Socialism, Solidarity | 21 Comments to Read

By Carl Davidson, Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Pat Fry

Download as PDF HERE

Introduction: The following eight-point proposal is designed to initiate both a discussion and a process. The points can be further refined, and subtracted from or added to. Given the scope of the challenges ahead of us, there is a certain degree of urgency, but it is also wise to take to time to start off on a sound footing, uniting all who can be united. The main things it wants to bring into being at all levels—local, regional, national or in sectors—are common projects. Some of these already exist, such as the Left Labor Project in New York City, a good example of what we are advocating here. It brought together organizers from CCDS, CPUSA, DSA, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and other independent left trade unionists and activists. Over a few years work, it was able to build a far wider alliance bringing together the city’s labor organizations and allied social movements to bring out tens of thousands on May Day.

 

We know that many of us are already involved in a wide variety of projects. But is there any compelling reason we have to do this separately, behaving like a wheelbarrow full of frogs trying to win a common goal? A good case in point is Chuy Garcia’s mayoral campaign in Chicago. Wouldn’t this campaign be better served if we worked together in a planned way to draw in and skillfully deploy even more forces? Or take the labor-community alliance projects building solidarity for labor strikes or the campaign for an increase in the minimum wage? We can all make a long list here, but the core idea should be apparent, at least for starters, and we invite your responses and queries.

1. We need something new

    . The left is not likely to find critical mass through mergers of existing groups, although any such events would be positive. But a new formation to which all would be equally cooperative in a larger project—call it a Left Front or Left Alliance—would have a greater impact. Groups participating in it could retain whatever degree of autonomy they desire, such as keeping their own newspapers, national committees, local clubs meeting separately, and so on. Every group involved can exercise its own independence and initiative, to the degree it finds necessary. But all would be striving in common to help the overall project succeed. While the US situation is not strictly comparable, the Front de Gauche in France, Die Linke in Germany, PODEMOS in Spain and Syriza in Greece serve as examples.

2. We need a ‘project based’ common front.

    At the grassroots level, it would be comprised of joint projects—electoral, union organizing, campaigns against the far right, for a living wage or reducing student debt, for opposing war, racism, sexism and police violence, and many others. The existing left groups in a factory, a neighborhood, a city or a campus, would be encouraged to advance the joint projects.

3. We need a ‘critical mass’ at the core that is both young, working class and diverse.

    While people from all demographics are welcome, the initial core has to be largely drawn from the Millennials, those born after 1980 or so. And the core also has to be a rainbow of nationalities with gender equity, and well-connected to union and working class insurgencies. If the initial core at the beginning is too ‘white’ or too ‘1968ers’, it will not be a pole with the best attractive power for a growing new generation of socialist and radical minded activists.

4. We need a common aspiration for socialism.

    That’s what makes us a ‘Left Front or Left Alliance’ rather than a broader popular front or people’s coalition. We are strongly supportive of these wider coalitions and building the left is not done in isolation from them. But we also see the wisdom in the concept: the stronger the core, the broader the front. Moreover we do not require a unified definition on what socialism is; only that a larger socialist pole makes for an even wider, deeper and more sustainable common front of struggle.

5. We do not need full agreement on strategy.

    A few key concepts—the centrality of fighting white supremacy, the intersection of race, class and gender, the alliance and merger of the overall workers movement and the movements of the communities of the oppressed—will do. We can also agree on cross-class alliances focused on critical targets: new wars, the far right and the austerity schemes imposed by finance capital. Additional elements, perspectives, nuances and ‘shades of difference’ can be debated, discussed and adjusted in the context of ongoing struggle

6. We need a flexible but limited approach to elections.

    We can affirm that supporting our own or other candidates is a matter of tactics to be debated case-by-case, and not a matter of ‘principle’ that would exclude ever voting for any particular Democrat, Green or Socialist. We see the importance for social movements to have an electoral arm that presses and fights for their agenda within government bodies.

 

7. We need to be well embedded in grassroots organizations.

    Especially important are the organizations of the working class and in the communities of the oppressed—unions and worker centers, civil rights and women’s rights, youth and students, peace and justice, churches and communities of faith, cooperatives and other groups tied to the solidarity economy, and other community-based NGOs and nonprofits.

8. We need to be internationalists.

    But we do not have to require support for any particular countries or bloc of countries and national liberation movements, past or present. But we do oppose the wars of aggression, occupations and other illicit interventions of ‘our own’ ruling class, along with the hegemonism, ‘superpower mentality’ and Great Power chauvinism it promotes. That is the best way we can promote world peace and practice solidarity and assistance to forces beyond our borders.

 

[Carl Davidson and Pat Fry are national co-chairs of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. Bill Fletcher Jr. is a member of several socialist organizations and author of ‘They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions’ Comments can be sent to carld717@gmail.com ]

‘Moving Beyond Capitalism’ Conference In Mexico Works to Build More Humane World

Posted by admin on September 30, 2014 under CCDS Today, Socialism, Solidarity Economy | Be the First to Comment

Part of the CCDS team at the conference: Kathy Sykes, Janet Tucker, Harry Targ, Paul Krehbiel

By Paul Krehbiel
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

"The capitalist class is in a serious crisis without solution," said David Schweikart at the Moving Beyond Capitalism conference held in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico from July 30-August 5, 2014.  "But there is a solution," he said, "economic democracy, democratic socialism." Over 200 people from 15 countries discussed how to make this happen, organized by the Center for Global Justice.

Chronic high unemployment, depression of wages and benefits, cuts in social services, and growing inequality and repression, and social and political resistance are endemic to nearly all capitalist countries, said Schweikart, a Philosophy professor at Loyola University in Chicago, and author of After Capitalism. 

Schweikart’s model of democratic socialism calls for a regulated competitive market economy, socialized means of production and democratic workplaces (he advocates worker-run cooperatives as an example), non-profit public banks to finance projects, full employment, and a guarantee that human needs will be meet for everyone. 

Cliff DuRand, a conference organizer, said people are creating alternatives to capitalism today all over the world.  "If we’ve built these alternative institutions, the next time the capitalist system collapses…we will be able to survive without it."

Gustavo Esteva, a former Mexican government official, founder of the University of the Land in Oxaca, and an advisor to the Zapatistas in Chiapas in southern Mexico, gave a good account of how the indigenous people of this region are creating a new democratic and socialist-oriented society that they control, within the borders of a capitalist Mexico.  The Zapatistas launched an armed uprising in the mid-1990’s to stop NAFTA and the Mexican government from allowing multi-national corporations to come into Chiapas to extract minerals to enrich the corporations and destroy their lives and their local economy. 

Ana Maldonado of the Venezuelan Ministry of Communal Economy could not attend, so University of Utah Professor Al Campbell filled in for her.  Campbell has worked in Venezuelan with the Community Councils, a new form of grassroots democracy and socialism.  Created in 2006 by the late socialist president Hugo Chavez, there are 20,000 Community Councils today, each holding meetings in neighborhoods where all residents can attend, discuss, and vote on decisions for their community. 

Private, for-profit banks came under sharp attack for causing the 2008 Great Recession, and for ripping off billions of dollars from people world-wide, primarily through charging high interest rates.  Ellen Brown, founder of the Public Banking Institute based in California, declared, "Without interest payments, there would be no national debt," which now stands at over $15 trillion.  Politicians use the debt as an excuse to cut funds for education, health care and other social programs.  An example of local bank rip-offs is a bank loan for the purchase of a house, where the homeowner pays the bank 2-3 times or more than the cost of the house due to interest payments. 

Brown said the solution is to set up not-for-profit public or state banks — like the Bank of North Dakota.  She describes how to do it in her book Democratizing Money: The Public Bank Solution.  Since the 2008 economic crash, 20 other states including California have introduced bills to study or establish publicly-owned state banks.

"The US controls third world countries," Brown explained, "by putting them in debt and then forcing repayment with high interest rates," which they can’t afford to pay.  Brown said the book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, by John Perkins, explains how devastating this is. 

Coops in Cuba

Camila Pineiro Harnecker, a leader of the cooperative movement in socialist Cuba, explained that her country is giving much more attention to the development of worker-run cooperatives as a way to help workers create jobs for themselves, and learn how to become masters of their work and work lives. The state socialist sector dominates the economy, but coops now comprise 12% of the workforce and are expected to increase in number.

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Hugo Chavez, Presente!

Posted by admin on March 7, 2013 under Hugo Chavez, Neoliberalism, Socialism, Venezuela | 2 Comments to Read

Statement of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism shares in the grief of the people of Venezuela, Latin America and freedom loving people throughout the world in the loss of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez. Below is a statement from CCDS.

HUGO CHAVEZ REKINDLED RESISTANCE TO NEOLIBERAL GLOBALIZATION

Neoliberal Globalization: The Latest Phase of Imperialism

After the rise in oil prices brought on by crises in the 1970s the industrial capitalist giants led by the United States pressured poor countries to shift from state-directed to so-called “market economies.” The G7 countries – the United States, Japan, Britain, France, Italy, West Germany, and Canada – launched a campaign to demand that countries of the Global South downsize their governments, deregulate and privatize their economies, and shift from producing goods and services for domestic consumers to exports. These policies, known as the “neo-liberal policy agenda” or the “Washington consensus” were promoted by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization., and international bankers and CEOs of the major multinational corporations.

These policies were a disaster for the vast majority of humankind. In Latin America, there was over 80 percent economic growth between 1960 and 1980, before the neo-liberal policies went into effect and only 9 percent growth from 1980 to 2000. For almost all countries of the Western Hemisphere economic inequality dramatically increased and the percentages of the people living in poverty rose.

By the dawn of the 21st century about 1/4 of Latin Americans lived in poverty (less than $2 a day). Statistics indicated a direct relationship between productivity growth and the percentage of the population living in poverty; productivity and poverty increased at the same time. In addition, the work that most Latin Americans did significantly changed. From 1950 to 1990 there was a 29 percent decline of those who worked in agriculture, a modest 5 percent increase in industrial work, and a 23 percent increase in service sector employment. In the 1990s, it was estimated that almost all job creation was in the so-called “informal sector.” That is, most new job seekers were engaged in street markets, drug dealing, prostitution, unregulated sweatshops in small facilities or people’s homes, or other low-paying, unregulated work.

Despite the dramatic decline in the quality of life experienced throughout Latin America, since the 1980s, the G7 countries, the international economic organizations, and the private banks and corporations continued to promote neo-liberalism through strident rules involving borrowing and inequitable trade agreements. However, over the last decade, resistance to neo-liberalism increased dramatically inspired by Hugo Chavez’s vision of a 21st century socialism.

Resistance to Neoliberalism Spreads: Venezuela Takes the Lead

The latest stage of protest against neo-liberalism was reflected in a massive transformation of politics in Latin America. In a series of elections throughout the region beginning in Venezuela, candidates and parties were elected to office opposing neo-liberalism and “the Washington Consensus.” These included anti-neo-liberal governments elected in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, as well as Venezuela. While these regimes varied in their opposition to neo-liberalism, they threatened economic “business as usual” U.S. interests.

The leadership in this movement for change in Latin America came from Venezuela.  The Venezuelan story began when its citizens elected a former army officer Hugo Chavez to the presidency in 1998. Chavez launched the “Bolivarian Revolution.” At home it included a new constitution recognizing the rights of all citizens to a job, education, health care, and basic nutrition. Since then literacy and medical campaigns have dramatically transformed the quality of life of the 80 per cent of the population that were poor. Poverty was cut in half in a decade. Local planning councils and Bolivarian Circles empowered the vast majority of Venezuelans to participate in political decision-making. The government encouraged worker managed and owned factories and redistributed 2.2 million hectares of state-owned land to 130,000 peasant families and cooperatives to revitalize agriculture.

Under the leadership of Chavez, Venezuela made agreements with her neighbors, to trade oil for products that they produce. Thousands of Cuban doctors have been working in Venezuela in exchange for valuable oil. In addition, Chavez worked to build a South American common market, and with others, began constructing a regional development bank. He initiated similar ties with countries in the Caribbean and Central America. Venezuela became one of the few countries in the world to have used profits from its scarce resources to redistribute wealth, income, and power to an underclass. Chavez began to refer to his policies at home and abroad as building 21st century socialism.

Since Chavez was elected president, the United States worked to undermine and overthrow his regime, including supporting an abortive military coup against him in 2002. The efforts of the United States administrations to isolate Venezuela in the Western Hemisphere and among the countries of the Global South have failed.

Venezuela, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez became a beacon of hope for the dispossessed in his country and among the poor and oppressed throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. While his bold challenges to global imperialism will be missed we remain confident that his legacy will continue throughout the region and the world. From Cuba, to Nicaragua, to Chile, to Chiapas, to Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil, the revolution continues. We in the United States stand with you.

Viva Hugo Chavez Siempre!

Whither the Socialist Left? Thinking the ‘Unthinkable’

Posted by admin on under CCDS Today, Organizing, Socialism, Solidarity | 5 Comments to Read

Historian Mark Solomon looks at the prospects for a new socialist left

By Mark Solomon

Published by Portside March 6, 2013

On February 4, 2010 The Gallop Poll released its latest data on the public’s political attitudes. The headline read: “Socialism Viewed Positively by 36% of Americans.” While the poll did not attempt the daunting task of exploring what a diverse public understood socialism to mean, it nevertheless revealed an unmistakably sympathetic image of a system that had been pilloried for generations by all of capitalism’s dominant instruments of learning and information as well as by its power to suppress and slander socialist ideas and organization.

In sheer numbers, that means a population at the teen- age level and above of tens of millions with a favorable view of socialism.

Why then is the organized socialist movement in the United States so small and so clearly wanting in light of the potential for building its numbers and influence?

That is a crucial question. At every major juncture in the history of the country, radical individuals and organizations in advance of the mainstream have played essential roles in influencing, guiding and consolidating broad currents for social change. In the revolution that birthed this country, radical activists articulated demands from the grass roots for an uncompromising and transforming revolution to crush colonial oppression. Black and white abolitionists fought to make the erasure of slavery the core objective of the Civil War while also linking that struggle to women’s suffrage and trade unionism. A mass Socialist Party in the early 20th century fought for state intervention to combat the ravages of an increasingly exploitative economic system while advancing the vision of a socialist commonwealth. In the Great Depression, the Communist Party and its allies fought the devastations of the crisis – helping to build popular movements to expand democracy, grow industrial unions and defend protections for labor embodied in the historic New Deal.

Small left and socialist organizations in the sixties supported a range of progressive struggles from peace to civil rights to women’s liberation to gay rights and beyond. The limited resources of those groups were effective in galvanizing massive peace demonstrations and in campaigns against racist and sexist oppression. But the Cold War and McCarthyism had eviscerated any hope for a major influential socialist current. Consequently, no large and impacting force existed to extend to the peace movement a coherent anti-imperial analysis that might have contributed to its continuity and readiness to confront the wars of the nineties and the new century. Nor was there a strong socialist organization to contribute to the civil rights struggle by advocating for reform joined to a commitment to deeper social transformation. Had such a current existed, it might have contributed to building a broad protective barrier against the devastating FBI and local police violence against sectors of the movement like the Black Panthers.

There should be little debate today on the left over the need for a strong socialist voice and movement in light of festering economic stagnation, war on the working class, looming environmental catastrophe, a widening chasm between the super-rich and the rest of us, massive joblessness and incarceration savaging African Americans and other oppressed nationalities, crises in health care, housing and education. Such a strong socialist presence could offer a searching analysis of the present situation, help stimulate a broad public debate on short term solutions and formulate a vision of a socialist future that could begin to reach the minds and hearts of the 36 percent who claim to be sympathetic to that vision. Read more of this article »

China’s ‘New Left’ Grows Louder

Posted by admin on October 7, 2012 under China, Marxism, Socialism | Be the First to Comment

Followers of Bo Xilai Criticize Direction of Communist Party, Exposing Leaders to Sensitive Questions Over Mao’s Legacy

By BRIAN SPEGELE
SolidarityEconomy.net via Wall Street Journal

BEIJING Oct 6, 2012—Supporters of ousted political leader Bo Xilai are turning up the note of political discord in China with increasingly loud criticism that the policies of current Communist Party leaders are widening inequality and breeding social unrest.

The movement, known as the new left, remains relatively small and obscure, and is unlikely to have a major impact on the coming shuffle of party leadership positions. But criticism from Communist hard-liners in the era of online social media places China’s leaders in a tricky position as a debate over the direction of the party and China’s economic model is quickly spreading from universities and closed-door sessions into public view.

Calls from what’s known as China’s new left are growing in volume, laying bare divisions around Mao’s legacy and the role of the state in China’s economy, placing leaders in a tricky position. Anti-Japan protesters hold portraits of Mao outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing last month.

The new left—a loose collection of academics, lower-ranking government officials, writers and overseas activists—advocates a stronger hand for the state in economic planning as well as a return to the values put forth by the late Chairman Mao Zedong. The new left argues that China’s economic reforms over more than 30 years have led to wide income disparity, and the movement has criticized the takedown of Mr. Bo, once its most visible leader.

Dealing with the new left requires some balancing for the party. Unlike the political activists who often oppose the party on democratic or human-rights grounds, the new leftists act as defenders of the vision Mao once laid out for China: Rejecting them outright would risk exposing party leaders to sensitive questions around the very foundation the party is built on.

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Introducing the Online University of the Left

Posted by admin on May 24, 2012 under CCDS Today, Marxism, Socialism | Be the First to Comment

Univ of left poster copy Check Out This Project And Prepare To Be Amazed!

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin’ On

Many people know the internet is full of instructional treasures for educating activists new to the left–and for the ongoing education of elder comrades as well.

One problem, however, is that these little gems are scattered far and wide, often in obscure places. It’s a tedious task, even with Google and other research tools, to find and sort through them, making them handy and useful to key audiences.

Enter the `Online University of the Left,’ a new `Left Unity’ project initiated by the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It’s core orientation is Marxist, but it contains teaching resources reflecting the full range of views on the wider left. About 50 left academics are involved in the core group so far-Richard Wolff, David Schweickart, Rose Brewer, Tim Johnson, Gregory Morales, William Tabb, Ellen Schwartz, Jerry Harris, Linda Alcoff, Dana Cloud, Gar Alperovitz, to name a few.

One of the OUL’s key aims is to solve this problem of scattered resources, creating a web portal that will bring much of this valuable material together in one spot in cyberspace. The link is http://ouleft.org, and you can also search for its Facebook page by name-and be sure to `like’ it on Facebook, if you do. More `likes’ expand the features available to it.

oul-home

The core idea is that anyone with a smartphone, a laptop, a large computer screen or, best of all, a digital projector connected to any of these, can now run any mixture of hundreds of video lectures and documentary films on a wide range of topics. Whether for individuals, small groups or large classes, it offers a multimedia dimension to revolutionary education at no cost.

That’s only the beginning. One marvelous feature will be the ability to hold lectures, classes and discussion groups in real time. The participants will be able to hear and see each other via video-conferencing, permitting back-and-forth dialogue. These can also be recorded, edited for improvement and added detailed, then preserved as on-line `webinars’ for future repeated use. The OUL will likely charge a small fee, or require a low-cost subscription, however, for access to this particular feature.

This raises an important question: how will the OUL be sustained financially? For the moment, it’s being supported by a small grant that will launch it and keep it going for a year or so. After, that, it will have to find or create a number of revenue streams to keep it rolls. One example is the subscriptions and fees for real-time events mentioned above. Another is the `Bookstore’ tab, which connects the viewer to our `shelf’ at Powell’s, one of the country’s major unionized booksellers. If you go to Powell’s through this OUL link and purchase anything there, a small percentage in commission for the sale goes to the OUL.

The site is organized into academic departments-each with dozens of video lecture and documentaries, achieves with the entire range of theory and analysis of hundred of writers, and study guides and course outlines.

Make use of it! In the future, we will also pursue the usual package of fundraising efforts-donations, small and large, grant writing, public events, benefit dinners and so on. In the meantime, lend a hand by using the `Donate’ button at http://cc-ds.org.  Once again, check out the site itself at http://ouleft.org. If you want to link your own materials to it or make suggestions, contact Carl Davidson at carld717@gmail.com

21st Century Socialism and Cooperatives

Posted by admin on March 11, 2012 under Cuba, Marxism, Socialism | Be the First to Comment

Cuba’s Alternative to Privatization

By Marce Cameron
SolidarityEconomy.net via GreenLeft Weekly

March 11, 2012 – Cuban President Raul Castro has urged the Caribbean nation’s citizens to contribute to a free and frank debate on the future of Cuba’s socialist project.

For the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), the aim of this debate is twofold: to strive for consensus on a new Cuban model of socialist development and to empower Cuba’s working people to implement what has been decided.

In other words, to advance a socialist renewal process in the face of entrenched opposition from within the administrative apparatus.

It is first and foremost a debate about the economy. A draft policy document, the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines, was submitted to a national debate for three months before to its adoption by the Sixth PCC Congress in April last year.

The core principles and objectives of the draft were conserved, but the final version of the Guidelines was substantially modified on the basis of this public debate.

The PCC said total attendance at the 163,000 local debates held in workplaces, study centers and neighborhoods was about 8.9 million, with many people attending more than one.

More than three million interventions were noted and grouped into 781,000 opinions, about half of which were reflected in the final document. A summary detailing each modification and its motivation, and the number of interventions in favour, was published after the congress.

The Guidelines is not a theoretical document. The government commission responsible for overseeing its implementation has been charged with drafting, as Castro put it, “the integral theoretical conceptualization of the Cuban socialist economy”.

Rather, the Guidelines is a set of principles and objectives that point to a new Cuban socialist-oriented economic model.

Yet implicit in them is a reconception of the socialist-oriented society in Cuba’s conditions.

Transitional society

The ultimate objective of the socialist revolution is a global classless society in which technology enables minimal human labour to produce goods and services, allowing these to be freely distributed to satisfy people’s rational needs.

Socially owned, this system of production would free everyone from the compulsion to work for others. It would allow a flowering of the human personality that is stunted by capitalist exploitation and alienation, both of which are embodied in the capitalist market.

What blocks this transition is not a lack of technology, but private ownership of most productive wealth and the class rule of the corporate rich over society.

The transition from capitalism to socialism is marked by tension between planning and the market. Democratic planning to meet social needs first becomes increasingly dominant, then ultimately the sole determinant of economic activity.

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China says not changing from its path of socialism

Posted by admin on March 10, 2012 under China, Socialism | Be the First to Comment

The Associated Press

Saturday, March 10, 2012

China’s government vowed Friday that it will not deviate from its socialist path, defending anew its authoritarian system and saying Western capitalist political systems are not suitable for China.

China’s top legislator, Wu Bangguo, said in a report delivered to the annual National People’s Congress that China needs to keep to the socialist path and understand the differences between its political system and those of Western capitalist countries.

As China has grown more powerful and rich in recent years, it has strongly rejected any criticism of its policies and suggestions that the economic changes would bring about any lessening of power for the ruling Communist Party.

Wu, the second most powerful person in the party, said the socialist system with Chinese characteristics "is the fundamental institutional guarantee for the development and progress of contemporary China, and we must cherish it even more and adhere to it for a long time to come."

He said that China needs to understand the "essential differences" between its systems and "Western capitalist countries’ systems of political power."

"To manage China’s affairs well, we need to stay grounded in its realities, rely on the strength of the Chinese people, and follow a development path suited to China’s conditions," he said.

Wu also reiterated goals laid out by Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening of the 10-day congress on Monday _ that the government must rebalance the economy by increasing domestic demand, especially consumer demand, and boosting investment in science and technology while promoting energy conservation and the cutting of emissions.

Even though China’s economy has grown at a double-digit pace for years, the government is now grappling with a slowing economy and rising public demands for greater fairness. Officials have also been slow to tackle entrenched interests, particularly the powerful state enterprises that dominate the economy. The World Bank and outside economists said recently that such a restructuring is needed if China wants to rise from a middle-income to a rich country.

Wu said that legislative work this year would also focus on social and cultural areas. On the social front, legislative committees will discuss drafts of the mental health law, the law on insurance for military personnel and the draft amendment to the Civil Procedure Law, among others.

He said 2012 is an important year because of a once-every-five-year party congress in October that will oversee the change of most of the ruling party bosses.