Edited by Carl Davidson,
Pittsburgh PA, 2011
By Jerry Harris
Carl Davidson has done a tremendous service to anyone who studies the history of social movements or anyone interested in the 1960s rebellion. This "lost" collection of papers reveals the depth and richness of radical thinking coming out of the student movement as the war raged in Viet-Nam and militant protestors marched through the streets of America.
The most important document is the "Port Authority Statement," by SDS members David Gilbert, Robert Gottlieb and Gerry Tenney. Although at the time not widely circulated, it offers great insight into the thinking and analysis of SDS as it turned to revolutionary theory and debate. This is an impressive document. Detailed in statistical and economic analysis, grounded in revolutionary social theory, and innovative in its thinking and insights.
One of the most important sections of the paper was its class analysis with its focus on the new working class and the relationship of students to an economy shifting from manufacturing to services and technology. The documents notes that, "Modern American capitalism is characterized by rapid technological change with scientific knowledge growing at a logarithmic rate." This will result in the "elimination of unskilled labor (as) the blue-collar sector will decrease (and) jobs that require high degrees of education and training" will increase. (pages 88-89)
That analysis was made in 1966. Now read a recent article by Edward Luce from the Financial Times: "the middle-skilled jobs that once formed the ballast of the world’s wealthiest middle class are disappearing. They are being supplanted by relatively low-skilled (and low-paid) jobs that cannot be replaced either by new technology or by offshoring – such as home nursing and landscape gardening. Jobs are also being created for the highly skilled, notably in science, engineering and management. (12/11/11) Decades later the paper’s main thesis still holds up.
Continuing its class analysis the Port Authority document examined the capitalist class and the debate over ownership and control. The authors focused attention on the growing trend towards paying executives with large stock rewards, merging management and ownership. Again we can turn to a recent article published in the December 2011 Monthly Review that reads, "More recently, David Harvey has argued that ownership (share holders) and management (CEOs) of capitalist enterprises have fused together, as upper management is increasingly paid with stock options." (Richard Peet) This "recent" argument now being made by a leading Marxist trails Port Authority by some 45 years.
Although the authors grasped the sweeping impact that technology would have on American workers, what they could not see would be globalization and the advent of neo-liberalism as a governing ideology. As the paper notes at the time, "Corporate liberalism implies that the dominant economic institution is the corporation and that the prevailing political and social mode is liberalism." (page 68) Of course it’s understandable how such changes would be all but invisible in 1966; it’s also a good reminder why political tactics and strategy must remain flexible and activists should always be willing to reevaluate their analysis.
The above are but a few of the enticing insights that are contained in page after page of these documents. As new social movements gather force throughout the world, a look into the thinking of activists from the last great social movement can help give direction to coming future battles. I would highly recommend this book to all activists and academics interesting in building a better world.
Jerry Harris, National Secretary of the Global Studies Association and author of "The Dialectics of Globalization."
The Die Linke (The Left) Party Congress,
Oct 21 – 23, 2011, Erfurt, Germany
Photo: Die Linke founding co-chair Gregor Gysi addresses the Congress, October 21, under the banner of Freedom – Dignity – Solidarity
By Pat Fry
CCDS National Co-Chair
Erfurt, Germany, October 2011 – Culminating nearly two years of discussion and debate, the 519 delegates of the Die Linke Party of Germany united overwhelmingly around a new program at its Congress in Erfurt, Germany, October 21 – 23. The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism was one of 43 Communist, Socialist, left parties and organizations making up the international delegation, and was the sole representative from the United States.
The 44 page draft program, issued in March 2010, was discussed at meetings of local and regional bodies, resulting in 1,300 amendments presented for Congress deliberations. The program was adopted nearly unanimously following 3 days of debate. It will provide the political platform for Die Linke candidates in the 2013 federal elections.
The Congress was held against the backdrop of momentous events in Europe. The Eurozone debt negotiations to save bank profits led by Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the general strike in Greece in opposition to the outcome of those negotiations dramatically framed the weekend’s deliberations. A representative of the Synaspismos Party (Coalition of the Left of Greece), Alexis Tsipras, delivered an impassioned greeting of solidarity bringing the Congress to its feet.
“The war in Greece is between capital and labor, not between Greece and Germany,” said Tsipras. “Greece is the guinea pig of the Eurozone. We are committed to defending democracy in Greece before it is too late for you,” he said.
The adoption of the Die Linke party program marks a milestone in the process of forging of a new left all-German party of democratic socialism. Founded in 2007, the party is a merger of east and west political parties and traditions – the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism) founded in the ashes of the collapse of the GDR, and the west German WASG (Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice) founded by left wing social democrats in 2005 in a split from the Social Democratic Party (SPD) after its embrace of austerity policies under the Schröeder government.
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2010-2012: Deepening Contradictions of Capitalism,
New Challenges for the Progressive Majority
By Randy Shannon & Carl Davidson
Click here to download the pdf draft version with numbered lines
Speech by SACP General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimande at the Launch of the Red October Campaign, October 2 2011:
Together Let Us Build Working
Class Power in our Communities:
The 2011 Launch of the
SACP Red October Campaign
We are in that time of the year when the SACP launches its popular Red October Campaign. Our Red October Campaign is inspired and seeks to take forward the spirit and the victories of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 in Russia – ushering in the first workers’ government in the 20th century.
The Red October campaign has been an important platform in building and strengthening the SACP over the last 11 years. Through our Red October Campaign we have built an SACP that is closer to the workers and the poor of our country. Through this campaign we say to the workers and the poor of our country, take up struggles to change your lives for the better and be the masters of your own destinies. It is only the workers and the poor themselves, in struggle and in solidarity with all other progressive forces that will consolidate and deepen our national democratic revolution, and advance the struggle for socialism in our country.
Through these campaigns we have also exposed the failures of the capitalist system to address the needs of the overwhelming majority of our people, and particularly also the failures of the neo-liberal macro-economic policies pursued since 1996. Our Red October Campaign has also been an important organising tool to recruit more and more members to the SACP. The Red October Campaign has also been an important platform for the ideological development of SACP members, and generally to conscientise and mobilise the workers and the poor to be the makers of their own history.
Since its launch twelve years ago, the Red October Campaign has been an important campaigning platform led by the SACP, and has notched some important victories, including:
a. the roll out of banking services to the poor via Umzansi account
b. the transformation of the financial sector as a whole
c. The passage of the Co-operatives and Co-operative Banks legislation
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Soviet Poster from the NEP Period
By Keith Joseph
To Matt Helme:
I think we abandon science for religion whenever we assume that the answers to difficult questions (like the nature of the market) are known and no further investigation is necessary. The Soviet experience as well as other 20th century attempts to build socialism have provided us with a wealth of experience. We can defend the nobility of those efforts while learning from their mistakes. Newton remains an intellectual giant despite the theory of relativity.
A couple of points about markets:
Markets existed before capitalism. That is a historical fact. Three things follow. First, suppressing the market or using market mechanisms does not determine the essential nature of any given mode of production. In other words, markets can and have existed among hunter gatherers, in feudalism, in capitalism, and in "really existing socialism" (there were thriving private markets in the Soviet Union–some were legal and some weren’t). Second, if the existence of the market, one way or another, does not determine the mode of production than something else does. That something, thirdly, is exploitation. I’ll get to that in a minute.
A couple of things about the suppression of markets. The suppression of markets requires police. The more market suppression the more police. In the U.S. a number of markets are suppressed. The drug market is one of the most obvious and its suppression is socially destructive. The majority of people in prison are locked up for their participation in this illicit market. Another interesting example is the suppression of the raw milk market. Another example would be the FBI’s involvement in regulation of the airline industry in the 1970’s; for example, they investigated the meals served by airlines because since the airlines could n’t compete directly on price they attempted to compete in less obvious ways by offering better meals– sounds like a kind of stupid use of resources, no?
Adam Smith argued that the market emerges from human nature itself, from our "propensity to truck and barter." Interestingly, Marx did not criticize Smith’s position. What Smith argued is that since we need and want things, since we desire (Hegel put human desire at the center of the phenomenology of the spirit), we are going to trade with each other. The market is not something that can be suppressed visa vie police apparatuses (nor can it be suppressed with vague appeals to the New Soviet Woman and Man who only desire the virtuous). The market can only be transcended. How do we transcend the market? First, we have to know what it is that the market is doing. The market is a rationing mechanism, it organizes production, appropriation and distribution of the social product. The market IS NOT the site of exploitation. One of the mistakes of 20th century socialism was the belief that the market is the site of exploitation and that ownership over the means of production was the determining factor.
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This post topic is for a continuation of the ‘Rivers of Blood’ debates and related matters first taking place on the listserv. . It will be under ‘Stalinism and other crimes under socialism in its history’ For those interested, please continue the thread there. To make a post, just go to ‘Comments’ and scroll down
Eleven Talking Points
On 21st Century Socialism
By Carl Davidson
May 1, 2009
The current discussion around socialism in left and progressive circles in the U.S. needs to be placed in a more substantive arena. This is an effort to do so. I take note in advance of the criticism that the following eleven working hypotheses are rather dry and formal. But in light of the faux ‘socialisms’ bandied about in the headlines and sound bytes of the mass media in the wake of the financial crisis, especially the absurd claim in the media of rightwing populism that the Obama administration is Marxist and socialist, I felt something a little more rigorous might be helpful. Obviously, criticism and commentary is invited.
1. Socialism’s fundamental building blocks are already present in US society. The means of production, for the most part, are fully developed and in fact are stagnating under the political domination of finance capital. The US labor force, again for the most part, is highly skilled at all levels of production, management, marketing, and finance. The kernels of socialist organization are also scattered across the landscape in cooperatives, socially organized human services, and centralized and widespread mass means of many-to-many communication and supply/demand data management. Many earlier attempts at socialism did not have these advantages. Read more of this article »
[This was submitted by the Northern California CCDS for discussion, and then as a proposal for adoption.]
“The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change,
and the disease is the capitalist development model.”
Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, September 2007
Humanity today faces a stark choice: ecosocialism or barbarism.
We need no more proof of the barbarity of capitalism, the parasitical system that exploits humanity and nature alike. Its sole motor is the imperative toward profit and thus the need for constant growth. It wastefully creates unnecessary products, squandering the environment’s limited resources and returning to it only toxins and pollutants. Under capitalism, the only measure of success is how much more is sold every day, every week, every year — involving the creation of vast quantities of products that are directly harmful to both humans and nature, commodities that cannot be produced without spreading disease, destroying the forests that produce the oxygen we breathe, demolishing ecosystems, and treating our water, air and soil like sewers for the disposal of industrial waste.
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January 10-11, 2009
Plenary Panel Remarks
By Carl Bloice
People look at me and roll their eyes when I offer the opinion that potential for international peace and cooperation would be greatly enhanced were it discovered that a large object was hurtling toward Earth and threatening great destruction to the planet. Science fiction would become science and possibly we would pull together to find a way to divert the menace from its path. As I said, people look at me like I’m a brother from another planet so I won’t go any further into it here. But still I think the scenario works as an analogy. So does the Economist magazine. Imagine my surprise when in its latest edition, it began its story on global warming with these words:
“Imagine that some huge rocky projectile, big enough to destroy most forms of life, was hurtling towards the earth, and it seemed that deep international co-operation offered the only hope of deflecting the lethal object. Presumably, the nations of the world would set aside all jealousies and ideological hangups, knowing that failure to act together meant doom for all. Read more of this article »
Photo: Green jobs installing solar panels
[Note from CarlD: To spur some discussion on both climate change and socialism, I’m posting this article, widely circulated among environmentalists by Rachel’s List. Rachel’s Introduction: Growth of the human enterprise is wrecking the planet, so we must develop a steady-state economy — one in which the use of energy and materials remains constant (or declines) instead of always growing. Unfortunately, we have very few concrete proposals for such an economy. David Schweickart of Loyola University in Chicago has proposed an economy that could grow, but does not have to grow, based on competitive markets plus public ownership of productive facilities (factories, farms), renting them to producer co-ops, with investment capital raised by a flat tax on productive assets and distributed each year to all regions of the nation on a per-capita basis. It is time to give these ideas a proper hearing. Schweickart’s short book After Capitalism is must reading.–P.M.]
By David Schweickart
The subtitle of Joel Kovel’s The Enemy of Nature (Zed Books, 2007) states his thesis bluntly: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World? Kovel thinks we need a revolution — although he is fully cognizant as to how remote that prospect seems.
Growing numbers of people are beginning to realize that capitalism is the uncontrollable force driving our ecological crisis, only to become frozen in their tracks by the awesome implications of this insight. (p. xi)
Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins also think we need a revolution, but of a different sort than the one envisaged by Kovel. Natural Capitalism (Little, Brown, 1999) is subtitled Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. President Clinton is reported to have called it one of the five most important books in the world today.
Hawken and the Lovinses agree with Kovel that the current model of capitalism is problematic. “Capitalism, as practiced, is a financially profitable, non-sustainable aberration in human development” (p. 5). But they do not see the problem as residing in capitalism itself. They distinguish among four kinds of capital, all necessary for production: human capital, financial capital, manufactured capital and natural capital. The problem with the current form of capitalism, they argue, is its radical mispricing of these factors. Current market prices woefully undervalue — and often do not value at all — the fourth factor: the natural resources and ecological systems “that make life possible and worth living on this planet.”
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