We Are All Detroit

Posted by admin on July 27, 2013 under African American, Labor, Neoliberalism, Political Economy, Racism, Rightwing, Trade Unions, Wall St | Be the First to Comment

 

Statement by the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

We all have a stake in the outcome of the power grab and bankruptcy of Detroit. The move to rob pensions from some 30,000 active and retired city workers and the selling off of property owned by the people of Detroit – city parks, public services and works of art at one of the most celebrated museums in the country – is a threat to us all.

The contract between the city and its workers to fund a pension plan is no less valid as contracts between the city and its corporate partners. Bond speculators’ losses should not be covered by workers’ retirement income.

No pension fund in the country will be safe. Next will be Social Security. Using the same rationale – that we can no longer afford to sustain a “greedy” middle class – the basis is laid for the complete shredding of the social contract between capital and labor won in bloody struggles of the last century.  The right to income security in old age, health care, civil rights and voting rights, collective bargaining and the promise of a rising standard of living, good housing and education in return for productive labor that creates all wealth is being torn apart.

Democracy hangs in the balance. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled State Legislature refused to follow the will of the people of Michigan who overturned by a 58% margin the law used to take over cities with a so-called Emergency Financial Manager.  The patently illegal and unconstitutional measure gives power to EFMs – unelected Czars – to strip mayors and city councils of all authority, including their salaries, tear up union contracts and sell off public assets, services and property at bargain basement prices.  Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Allen Park, Detroit – six cities and three school boards in Michigan – are now under dictatorial EFM rule. All except Allen Park have majority African American populations. These cities are largely former auto manufacturing centers deserted by GM, Ford and Chrysler in pursuit of race-to-the bottom profits. More than half of the 1.5 million African American population of the state are now under rule of an unelected EFM czar.

The Governor and legislature thwarted the public’s will on the EFM referendum at the same time they enacted the anti-union Right-To-Work (for less) law in December, a measure to further weaken unions and drive down wages. This and other reactionary legislation passed over the last several months in Michigan, as in other Republican controlled state governments, has been orchestrated by the corporate funded right-wing ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The banks will be the big winners in bankruptcy. Detroit’s EFM, Kevyn Orr, will guarantee it.  His law firm represents the banks that hold Detroit’s debt.  The debt figures themselves are politically contrived and exaggerated.  The Governor has denied Detroit $220 million in tax revenue-sharing and other funds earmarked in President Obama’s first term stimulus package. Instead, the money was used to balance the state’s budget while blaming city leaders, mainly African American, for budget shortfalls and “mismanagement.” The UBS AG bank – which pled guilty to interest rate-rigging in a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit – lent the city $1.5 billion in 2004 in a predatory scheme, causing two defaults after the 2008 financial meltdown. The defaults triggered debt ratings to plunge and interest rates to rocket.

The city’s tax base has been decimated with the loss of over half of the city’s population due to the auto industry’s near total abandonment of the city. With an unemployment rate in double digits, 50% of young people have no jobs and no prospect of getting one because there is no public transportation out of the city where the jobs are located.

A power grab and theft of this magnitude assumes that the country will not care that a predominantly African American city – the largest black majority city outside of Africa – is plundered. This is a pilot project for finance capital, a test run for every other city and town in the country.

The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism stands with unions, community and religious organizations, and all the people of Detroit who are fighting back.

We stand with the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of labor unions, which issued a statement on July 25th calling on President Obama and the Congress to make an immediate financial transfusion to Detroit. Additionally, the AFL-CIO calls on the State of Michigan to give comparable financial support to Detroit, the largest of Michigan’s cities.

In solving the budget crisis, we the people must demand of our President and Congress enactment of legislation to revitalize our urban centers in the interest of the working class, not the banks. In the face of corporate irresponsibility, we must have a government-sponsored jobs program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and our urban centers, develop new manufacturing industries to transition to a green, sustainable environment for the future of our children and our planet. We urgently need it for Detroit and for us all.

July 27, 2013

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!

Draft Discussion Paper on the Coming Period – Comments Invited

Posted by admin on October 23, 2011 under CCDS Today, Neoliberalism, Organizing, Political Economy, Socialism | 3 Comments to Read

 

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

Solidarity Economy and South Africa’s ‘Red October’ Campaign

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011 under Labor, Neoliberalism, Organizing, Socialism, Solidarity Economy, Strategy | Be the First to Comment

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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An Exchange on Markets and Market Socialism

Posted by admin on August 26, 2011 under Neoliberalism, Socialism | 4 Comments to Read

 

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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Discussion Paper on the Current Situation and Our Tasks

Posted by admin on May 5, 2011 under Neoliberalism, Obama, Political Economy, Rightwing | 2 Comments to Read

The Crisis of Global Capitalism

and the Specter of 21st Century Fascism

By William I. Robinson

Solidarity Economy.net via Z-Net

(The following is a synopsis of several recent talks given by Robinson, a professor of sociology and global studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara, on the global crisis, the immigrant rights movement, and 21st century fascism)

The crisis of global capitalism is unprecedented, given its magnitude, its global reach, the extent of ecological degradation and social deterioration, and the scale of the means of violence. We truly face a crisis of humanity. The stakes have never been higher; our very survival is at risk. We have entered into a period of great upheavals and uncertainties, of momentous changes, fraught with dangers if also opportunities. I want to discuss here the crisis of global capitalism and the notion of distinct political responses to the crisis, with a focus on the far-right response and the danger of what I refer to as 21st century fascism, particularly in the United States.

Facing the crisis calls for an analysis of the capitalist system, which has underwent restructuring and transformation in recent decades. The current moment involves a qualitatively new transnational or global phase of world capitalism that can be traced back to the 1970s, and is characterized by the rise of truly transnational capital and a transnational capitalist class, or TCC. Transnational capital has been able to break free of nation-state constraints to accumulation of the previous epoch, and with it, to shift the correlation of class and social forces worldwide sharply in its favor and to undercut the strength of popular and working classes around the world in the wake of the global rebellions of the 1960s and the 1970s.

Emergent transnational capital underwent a major expansion in the 1980s and 1990s, involving hyper-accumulation through new technologies such as computers and informatics, through neo-liberal policies, and through new modalities of mobilizing and exploiting the global labor force – including a massive new round of primitive accumulation, uprooting, and displacing hundreds of millions of people, especially in the third world countryside, who have become internal and transnational migrants.

We face a system that is now much more integrated, and dominant groups that have accumulated an extraordinary amount of transnational power and control over global resources and institutions.

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Scorecards & Players: Political Economy for 2012

Posted by admin on April 15, 2011 under Neoliberalism, Political Economy, Rightwing | Be the First to Comment

Graphic: Milton Friedman of the ‘Chicago School’

What is Neoliberalism?

A Brief Definition for Activists

By Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.
"
Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.
"
Neo" means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an Scottish economist, published a book in 1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation’s economy to develop. Such ideas were "liberal" in the sense of no controls. This application of individualism encouraged "free" enterprise," "free" competition — which came to mean, free for the capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

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