CCDS Statement on Ukraine

Posted by admin on March 16, 2014 under CCDS Today, Non-Intervention, Rightwing, Solidarity, Ukraine, War | Be the First to Comment

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

March 15, 2014

A dangerous situation continues to develop in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. With no solution in sight, there is major tension with potential for long-term instability and war.  Many protesters in the Ukraine’s Maidan Square understandably are demanding democracy, clean government and economic justice. The repression and use of force by the Yanukovich government was reprehensible.  However, rightwing nationalists and fascistic groups gained leadership in the movement. With the backing of the European Union and U.S. neo-cons, attempts at compromise were thwarted and a coup was staged. Russia responded with military action to safeguard its perceived national security interests including its naval base in Crimea, and is thus supporting a Crimean referendum to secede from the Ukraine.

The Obama administration, confronted by U.S. involvement engineered by Bush appointed State Department officials, sided with the neo-cons to back the new Ukrainian regime. Thus the president greeted the coup-installed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on March 12 at the White House in a highly publicized meeting. The U.S. increased its military maneuvers on Russia’s borders and is threatening visa restrictions, economic sanctions and various other ways to isolate Russia.

The Obama administration immediately proposed a billion dollar aid package for the new government, even as U.S. cities and pensions are going bankrupt and food stamps cut. U.S. energy companies savor the thought of huge deals to supply Western Europe with newly fracked natural gas if Russian supplies are cut. The IMF is contemplating various sorts of structural adjustment in the Ukrainian economy to benefit the rich.  Meanwhile, there is no sign of Russia backing down or a resolution to the crisis.

Thus, the Obama-led centrist Democrats formed a block with right-wing Republicans and neo-cons. Anti-Russian propaganda is nearly universal in the mainstream media. Russia’s response has been universally condemned with no mention of the U.S.-European role in fomenting the illegal coup. Criticism of U.S. policy is confined to questioning whether the Obama response is too weak. These developments have increased the danger of war.The Progressive Democrats of America,  however, issued a statement condemning US collaboration with fascist forces and thus split with the dominant US narrative.

After the collapse of the SovietUnion, the West pledged to respect Russia’s national security concerns, advancing NATO’s “not one inch east” statement.  Breaking their promises, U.S./NATO incorporated one Eastern European country after the other into NATO and the EU.  An anti-ballistic missile system was installed in Eastern Europe, ostensibly to stop an Iranian attack, but obviously targeting Russian missile systems.  The Western attempt to bring Ukraine into its orbit transgressed Russia’s most important “red line,” according to Prof. Stephen Cohen, and the Russian reaction was entirely predictable.

The Ukrainian situation is a clear example of the U.S. “Deep State” (http://ouleft.sp-mesolite.tilted.net/?p=1682) determining foreign policy – a combination of financial, corporate and military-industrial interests, motivated by anti-communist and now neo-con ideology. Formed at the end of World War II, the Deep State is the actual power center of U.S. capitalism and imperialism.  The Deep State has the loyalty of many key government officials and has been able to push its policies with various successes over the last few decades, regardless of what party wins national elections. Thus the Obama administration is not fully in control of its own foreign policy. Influential neo-cons within the Deep State are currently putting forward a far-right agenda in not only Ukraine but also in Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Japan and other places, trying to substitute confrontation and military action for diplomacy. The neo-con objective is to persist in constructing the so-called “new American century” of regime change not only in the Middle East but eventually in Russia and China to facilitate their long-term goal of U.S. global hegemony.

The U.S. peace movement was strong in responding to the Syrian crisis last summer, surging to stop war.  However, the response to the Ukraine crisis has been slow.

This is due in part to the shifting strategy of U.S. imperialism from a strategy of invasion and occupation during the Bush years to covert and high tech operations today.  How does the antiwar movement oppose a covert program that is all but invisible?  Organizing a consensus response to the new imperial strategy of mainly covert operations is a major challenge to the peace and justice movement.

CCDS urges:

  • No U.S. intervention in the Ukraine situation and no economic or military support for a government with major fascist participation.
  • Support for negotiations, demilitarization and a peaceful resolution of a dangerous situation.
  • Balanced and objective education to counter the rightwing mainstream narrative.

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

www.cc-ds.org

What Time Is It?

Posted by admin on July 26, 2013 under CCDS Today, Climate Change, Political Economy, Racism, War, Women | Be the First to Comment

Opening Address to to the 7th CCDS Convention

By Mildred Williamson

What time is it?  It’s a time of economic, social, environmental, and racial Injustice on steroids – a time of no respect for humanity.

We face a 9.3% unemployment rate (double or higher for Black people in certain communities); yet bourgeois economists and political pundits still characterize today’s economy as in recovery.  Bailed-out megabanks are bigger and more profitable today than prior to the 2007-2008 meltdown.  Yet millions of people, including renters, remain devastated by foreclosures, with too little help, or no help from government, or from their lenders.  And while the foreclosure tragedy has affected people of very nationality, the impact of foreclosure on black communities has virtually served to wipe out what little “wealth” that had been acquired, basically pushing the income/wealth inequality gap into something not seen in this magnitude since slavery.

In fact, how far can we say we have we come from the “3/5 of a man” Constitutional definition of how Black people should be considered in US society?  I say – not far enough, and if there is no sustained, organized struggle–witness the Voter’s Rights Act Supreme Court decision–we will have a more accelerated march backwards, away from making social progress, rather than forward.

As some observers have noted in the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, served time in prison for organizing dog fights that resulted in death and injury to animals.  However, George Zimmerman and countless numbers of official law enforcement officers throughout the US have shot and killed numerous human beings, who happen to be people of color, including unarmed youth, like Trayvon Martin; yet they have not been convicted, served time, lost pay or prestige in their positions of power over our lives.

And lest we not forget: there are hundreds, even thousands of persons incarcerated for crimes they did not commit; and even those with evidence of committing criminal acts, having such a high percentage driven by unjust “war on drugs” laws. These translate into a war on black and brown life, into war on people of color, especially youth.  Please note further that many have died in prisons of preventable causes, due to less-than-standard care provided in many cases, by for-profit correctional health care providers.

Public education is crumbling and living wage jobs are scarce, even for many with college educations.  The role and proliferation of privatized pre-school, K-12 and proprietary higher education institutions is essentially assuring that working class people with aspirations of improving their lives, will have obstacles that may be insurmountable to overcome, due to profit-making at all costs, trumping everything – even human life.

In Chicago, were it not for the solid labor-community-student-parent coalition built with leadership from the Chicago Teachers Union, local residents and the rest of the nation would not have known about the vicious scheme of Mayor Rahm Emanuel to close more than 100 schools. Through a mass fightback, that number got reduced to less than 50 – still the most school closures in the history of this country.  Stay tuned for the outcome of the two lawsuits pending – one based on racial discrimination (80% African American and Latino children affected); and the second based on 30% of students with disabilities and special needs affected by the closings.

What time is it?  Ben Jealous (NAACP Executive Director) describes the concerns of many of his young Black friends who stated their uncertainty of living long enough to reach their 21st birthdays and then shares his Grandmother’s response, when asked:
“Our generation of Black Americans was supposed to be the first not to be judged by our race or the color of our skin. Instead, we had come of age to find ourselves the most incarcerated on the planet and most murdered in the country.

“‘Grandma,’ I would ask days later, still searching for understanding: “What happened? How did things turn out like this?”

Her response was the crux of his speech to the 104th NAACP convention this week. He said, she leaned in and spoke softly: “It’s sad but it’s simple: We got what we fought for, but we lost what we had.”

Did we really get all of what we fought for – or was it derailed?

–By the impact of the Smith Act, McCarran Act, Right to Work laws?
–By the blacklisting, imprisonment, deportation and murder of radicals and communists – particularly their purge from labor and other social justice organizations?
–By the assassination of Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton & many others?
–By COINTELPERO?
–By Deindustrialization and global outsourcing of unionized, living wage, manufacturing jobs?
–By the Nixon-led Southern Strategy, virtually unchecked, followed by the Reagan right wing surge?
–By the war on drugs and mass incarceration?
–By ‘No Child Left Behind’ and ‘Race to the Top?’
–By the Vietnam war, the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, and the Gulf wars I and II?

Each of these policies and events served a purpose for the ruling class – over time, to weaken or even squash radical thought and action to reach multiracial working class power and refuse to affirm value in Black and brown life and their right to fulfill their human potential.

Though there have been extraordinary victories in the struggle for social justice, ending wars in Vietnam and Iraq, brilliant victories in numerous key elections, some union organizing successes, freedom of many political prisoners, starting with Angela Davis – we still remain challenged by the net to get the intertwining issues of class/race/gender right in our strategy and tactics of struggle on every issue, from jobs to healthcare, immigration, incarceration, the environment and climate change.  Our ability to make and sustain social progress critically depends on this.  Disciplined, organized, radical leadership is essential to move us forward.

I am encouraged by the recent demonstrations of numerous low-wage workers fighting for a living wage – McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, even Foot Locker workers.  Some of these have taken place in Chicago and consider the stories of the protesters:  One young Black man at one of the Chicago protests reported that he worked for $10.15/hour at a Nike store in 2008, and over 2 years he got up to $11.17 an hour.  Later, the store shut down for renovations; he and his co-workers were laid off.  He was called back to work for $10 an hour, which he was still making at the time of the protest which took place this spring – 2013.  This is a five-year period of his life.  He does not now, nor did he ever make enough money to live on his own – typical of most low wage, retail work.

McDonald’s, just this week developed what they called a financial planning guide for their workers which assumed the average cost for rent was $600 a month and healthcare was $20 a month, in addition to framing the entire context of having a second job in addition to their full time McDonald’s job ($24,000 yearly on average) – to make ends meet.  They also suggested that the worker simultaneously should be going to school to gain additional skills.  This is insulting to their workforce, at best. It’s a plan that was proposed for workers by a corporation that consistently makes super-profits, even during the recent massive recession, (which is not over for many of us).
What time is it?  As long as Black and brown lives are thought of and treated as disposable, in a 21st century-three-fifths-of-a-person fashion, it will be impossible to achieve working class power in this country.
Economic and social policies are literally destroying Black and brown lives, and simultaneously further weakening working class power. Case in point:  Former President George W Bush once called a meeting at the White House with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.  In an effort to persuade them to support his proposal to virtually privatize Social Security, he shared that the CBC should support this idea because:

Social Security was especially unfair to African Americans. Because their life expectancy was shorter, black workers received an average of $21,000 less in benefits than whites of comparable income levels. He said personal accounts (such as 401k), could be passed along to the next generation, and would go a long way toward reducing that disparity.  Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.298-299 , Nov 9, 2010

Instead of addressing the socioeconomic determinants of why Black life expectancy is shorter than other groups in the US, then President GW Bush cynically just said to his CBC guests that it is better to just save up on your own into a plan that is beholden to the ups and downs of the stock market.  How insulting it must have been for these Congressional leaders to sit there to hear that; just as it remains insulting for John Lewis and all other living participants of the civil rights movement to hear that Supreme Court decision to virtually butcher the Voters Rights Act.

To achieve comprehensive social change that shifts the balance of power toward the working class, rejecting white supremacy–embracing all disenfranchised elements of humanity–is essential. This requires radical, disciplined leadership that is organized in thought and purpose to build a movement anchored by the voice and action of organized and unorganized workers, and marginalized populations.  The labor movement has the right slogan – Jobs with Justice.  We need both – not either or.  Though the labor movement is at its smallest in size, that which remains, must continue and grow its coalition with others for a significant rise in the minimum wage; for massive reinvestment in public education for all; for LGBTQ rights; for the right of women to all aspects of reproductive health and freedom from abuse; for the rights of immigrants; for the right to quality public education, including higher education; for the abolishment of prisons and an overhaul of the criminal justice system – and for ending all modern vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow and genocide in institutions and in human interaction.

Finally, we must fight with humility and purpose to strengthen and promote radicalized thought and action in the quest for social justice, human rights and working class power.  This requires a fresh look at what it means to be “Left” in this phase of capitalism. What is the winning strategy to reduce the number of white working class people from voting against their own class interests, especially since fewer are unionized and fewer live in integrated communities?  What will be the winning strategy be to achieve left unity – and just what does that mean today?  How can we build respect for youth in leadership of social justice movements while still showing simultaneous respect for elders?  How do we fully move our thought and action from the multiracial unity “slogan” to normalized, genuine demonstration respect for multiple cultures, gender expressions and sexual orientation?  These questions and more tough ones – need answers in order to chart the path forward in the quest for working class power. Let’s work on them at this 7th CCDS Convention, and thereafter