Saturday, September 12, 2020

What is the political road forward for workers in 2020 – The Militant


Biden refuses to say ‘antifa’

In an Aug. 31 speech in Pittsburgh, Biden finally said something about wanton destruction in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere, saying, “Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting.”
But he blamed the violence on Trump, never mentioning antifa and similar middle-class radicals who have hijacked what started as mass political protests against police brutality and turned them into small forays of anti-political destruction.
The violence is spearheaded by mostly Caucasian, middle-class radicals and antifa. They are aided by meritocratic Black Lives Matter leaders, who think the violence will force the rulers to give them a seat at their table.
Black Lives Matter leaders organize predominantly Caucasian marchers to target Caucasian neighborhoods, shouting “Wake up motherf—-ers,” demanding that the “white privileged” renounce their privilege and fork over cash.
Trump wins a hearing when he says that the antifa-type violence is most rampant in cities run by the Democratic Party. He points to Portland, where the Democratic mayor — who had made excuses for the antifa violence — fled his own home, after so-called protesters set fire to the complex where he lived.
Biden’s supporters are nervous about how he’ll do in debates with Trump, with some calling for him to refuse to participate.
The liberal media runs articles claiming Trump will refuse to leave the White House, regardless of the outcome of the vote. David Brooks’ piece in the Sept. 4 New York Times was headlined, “What Will You Do If Trump Doesn’t Leave?” He says there’ll  have to be a uprising.
The article could have been titled, “What Will You Do If the Democrats Lose, but Refuse to Recognize the Results?”

What is the political road forward for workers in 2020 – The Militant

Violent course of antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class – The Militant

....As protests against cop brutality exploded earlier this year, Black Lives Matter became a widespread sentiment that millions of working people identified with this fight. But increasingly actions organized by Black Lives Matter leaders have targeted working people. This includes actions marked by silencing, shaming and intimidating passersby — one sure sign they have nothing in common with anyone building a the broadest possible working-class movement.
An Aug. 24 march in Washington, D.C., called to protest the police shooting of Blake degenerated as some participants surrounded diners at restaurants, accusing them of enjoying “white privilege.” A video shows dozens chanting, “White silence is violence” as they crowded around one diner, Lauren Victor, showering her with abuse when she declined to raise her fist as they demanded. In fact, Victor had previously joined protests against cop brutality.
During the same action, marchers chanted, “Fire, fire, gentrifier — Black people used to live here,” as they have done in New York and elsewhere. Such calls have nothing to do with solving the chronic housing crisis and everything to do with fueling violent and poisonous resentment.
From St. Louis to Chicago, Portland and Washington, D.C., the homes of mayors and other public officials have become the targets of the violence these forces carry out. In the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, more than 100 people gathered outside the home of Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb during an online village board meeting Aug. 25. They pounded on the windows, tore up the mayor’s yard and vandalized his house.
As they glorify violence, the embittered middle-class forces of antifa rail against “the elite,” elevate small group action above political struggle and remain deeply alienated from the working class. They have much in common with fascist groups they claim to oppose. Others have traveled this road previously, like Italian Socialist Party leader Benito Mussolini who went on to lead fascist forces to power in 1922....

Violent course of antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class – The Militant

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Was ‘Militant’ wrong on Israel-UAE pact? – The Militant

....Pacts between different ruling classes can start things in motion that will alter the terrain on which working people organize and fight.
This pact further opens the breach in what had been a common front of Arab regimes that held Israel up to be a pariah nation. It reflects developments in the region that do make it more likely other Arab governments will follow suit.
This was furthered Aug. 29 when UAE rulers scrapped their longstanding economic and trade boycott of Israel.
Days after the deal was signed, the Sudanese government refused to deny holding talks over normalizing its relations with Jerusalem. Talks between Israel and the governments of Bahrain and Oman are on the agenda, Israeli officials said.
As Galinsky explains, one of the pressures pushing these developments is that these governments and the rulers in Israel “share an interest in defending themselves against the expanding military and political influence” of the Iranian rulers in the region.
Bourgeois Arab regimes are among the main financial and political patrons of the Palestinian National Authority that rules in the West Bank and of Hamas in Gaza. These new developments can help draw both these organizations and the Israeli government into discussions over mutual recognition.
The continuing refusal of the PNA and Hamas to enter talks with the Israeli government sets back the dispossessed Palestinian people’s aspirations for a sovereign homeland. Such talks can lead to mutual recognition of Israel and a Palestinian state. This can bring an end to the deadly cycle of terror attacks and bloody reprisals. It will open the door to Palestinian efforts to fight for a contiguous country.
And, most importantly, it will open the door to struggles for “the class interests and solidarity of workers and toiling farmers across the Middle East — be they Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, Kurdish, Turkish, Persian or otherwise,” as Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes said in a 2017 statement quoted by Galinsky.
That statement says the SWP is “for whatever helps working people organize and act together to advance our demands and struggles against the capitalist governments and ruling classes that exploit and oppress us.”

Was ‘Militant’ wrong on Israel-UAE pact? – The Militant

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialist Alliance approached the 1984 elections from a completely different standpoint than the other groups on the U.S. left.



How left responded to '84 elections
Socialist Workers Party called for break with capitalist politics


A significant feature of the 1984 presidential elections was the fact that most organizations and publications that consider themselves socialist or communist backed capitalist candidate Walter Mondale. Some groups did so openly, while others did so under the slogan "Defeat Reagan." The Socialist Workers Party ran the only campaign calling for independent working-class political action in the elections, putting forward the socialist perspective of struggle to replace the capitalist U.S. government with a workers and farmers government.

A review of the positions put forward by some left groups on the elections is useful in highlighting a few key lessons of this campaign.

The Guardian, a radical newsweekly published in New York, departed from past practice and for the first time in a presidential campaign openly urged a vote for the Democrats. In endorsing Mondale, the August 8 Guardian argued that, "A defeat for the reactionaries in November can offer" an important breathing space to the left and progressive forces in the U.S. and, perhaps more importantly, to the liberation movements and anti-imperialist countries around the world."

When Mondale came out just a few weeks later endorsing the U.S. invasion of Grenada and threatening to "quarantine" Nicaragua, the Guardian squirmed a bit, but didn't back down one inch from urging a big vote for Mondale .

Workers World Party
The Workers World Party campaigned vigorously for capitalist candidate Jesse Jackson. When Jackson lost the Democratic Party nomination to Mondale, Workers World decided to step up its own campaign of Larry Holmes for president and Gloria La Riva for vice-president, rather than endorse Mondale.

This represented no break from capitalist politics, however. The September 6 issue of the party's paper Workers World, reporting on Jackson's endorsement of Mondale, insisted that it had been correct to support Jackson's Democratic Party campaign and that the task was now to "build an even stronger independent working class movement to carry on the legacy of the Rainbow Coalition." According to the paper, "The candidacy of Jesse Jackson, particularly during the Democratic primaries, was objectively an independent campaign that exposed and challenged the racist structure and rules of the anti-poor, anti-worker bourgeois Democratic Party."

Democratic Socialists
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has always supported Democratic candidates. This is in line with its outlook of accepting the framework of U.S. imperialism and seeking merely to reform it.

Declaring that ''We are Americans and democratic socialists and Democrats," the DSA endorsed the Mondale-Ferraro ticket saying, "They.... have the potential to create a liberal and humane administration infinitely superior to Ronald Reagan's on every count."

Advising the Democratic Party on how to win the election, Michael Harrington, a central leader of the DSA, pointed to the example of Harry Truman, who as Democratic president ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Writing in the May-June issue of Democratic Left, the DSA newsletter, Harrington said: "Think of Truman again. He is not my hero ... but we can sure learn from him. He talked tough facts in 1948. He talked to workers and blacks and farmers; he mobilized . . . . And he won. And we can win in 1984, but only if we are at least as much a bunch of hell raisers as he and his friends."

Communist Party
The Communist Party (CP) ran its own candidates, Gus Hall and Angela Davis, for president and vice-president. While not formally endorsing the Democratic ticket, the clear message of the Hall-Davis campaign was to defeat Reagan by electing Mondale. This is not a new position for the CP; it has backed liberal capitalist candidates for half a century.
"For the period of the 1984 elections," Gus Hall told a CP central committee meeting last June, "all our creative energies must be focused on defeating Reaganism." "The reality," Hall was quoted as saying in the June 21 Daily World, the CP paper, "is that the electable candidate against Reagan is the lesser evil." He explained that the CP should only criticize Mondale if it would help strengthen the Democratic campaign. "Our party will express its differences and criticisms of the Democratic candidate when we think that will add to the struggle against Reaganism."

As the polls began to more and more confirm that Reagan had a strong lead over Mondale, the CP campaign took on a shrill pitch. It argued that U.S. capitalism is rapidly moving toward fascism under Reagan and that unity of all "anti-Reagan" forces was desperately needed to prevent another Republican term in office.

An editorial titled "Fascist odor" in the October 6 issue of the People's World, the CP's West Coast weekly, conveyed this view: "We do not use the term 'fascism' lightly. It is not just the normal, oppressive, exploitative, and brutal rule of capital that has characterized this system since its advent 200 years ago. It is rule by a special sector of that capital, the very sector which put Ronald Reagan in the White House and in whose interests he presently serves. It can happen here. It is a clear and present danger, and good reason to make sure the Oval Office has a new resident after Nov. 6."

The U.S. capitalist class will certainly prove capable of attempting to impose fascist rule, but that is not what is happening today.

The CP portrays Reagan as representing a "fascist" wing in order to cover up the fact that there is bipartisan support for the employers' policies of war, racism, and attacks on democratic rights. Mondale would have driven this antilabor offensive forward had he been elected, just as Reagan has done. Both represent the same fundamental class interests - the opposite of the interests of workers and working farmers. The U.S. rulers will step up their assault on working people here and abroad. Big class battles are going to erupt. But the best way to prepare working people for these battles is to tell them the unvarnished truth about the Republican and Democratic parties. The CP candidates have done the opposite. Let's take a few examples.

Fight against imperialist war
Throughout the campaign, Hall and Davis argued that nuclear war could well be the result of another four years of Reagan, while the world would be safer with Mondale in office.

As part of prettifying the imperialist policies of the Democrats, the CP- endorsed their call for a bilateral freeze on nuclear weapons production in the United States and the Soviet Union. This stance blurs the real source of war - U.S. imperialism and its twin parties - and implies the Soviet Union shares some responsibility for the nuclear arms buildup, for which Washington alone is to blame.

The CP's support for Mondale led it to downplay the current war against Nicaragua and El Salvador being carried out with the support of Democrats and Republicans alike . It is precisely in such shooting wars that the danger of Washington using its nuclear arsenal is posed. But rather than expose the bipartisan character of the war drive, the CP told working people that voting Reagan out of office was the best way to guarantee peace. As Davis put it in an interview in the July 12 Daily World, "the most immediate priority of all in the peace movement, of all who are threatened by nuclear conflagration, is the defeat of Reagan and his pathologically anti-Communist Administration."

Adaptation to the Democrats on the war question has led the CP to bend also to the chauvinist propaganda campaigns of both capitalist parties. For example, the October 24 Daily World gave favorable coverage to AFL-CIO Pres. Lane Kirkland's recent tour to garner votes for Mondale. The paper quoted uncritically Kirkland's anti-imports patriotic line, reporting that the AFL-CIO bureaucrat attacked Reagan as "a man who appeals to patriotism for the benefit of those business and banking interests who would sell their own country out - people who don't care what flag flies over their plants or shops or ships." The CP has even gone so far as to print issues of the Daily World in red, white, and blue.

Abortion rights
Over the last few months, women's right to legal abortion has come under attack from right-wing groups, the Catholic Church hierarchy, and Democratic and Republican politicians; While claiming she will uphold legal abortion as long as it is the law of the land, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro has emphasized her personal and religious view that abortion is murder. Explaining why she has voted for some Medicaid funding for abortions, Ferraro said, "The cost of putting an unwanted child through the system far outweighs the cost of funding an abortion on demand." This is the line of the racist, population-control forces.

What has been the CP's response to Ferraro's reactionary views on abortion rights? A September 21 column in the Daily World rushed to defend her! "Ms. Ferraro's position on abortions is a principled, democratic position," it said.

SWP campaign
The Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialist Alliance approached the 1984 elections from a completely different standpoint than the other groups on the U.S. left.

The SWP ran 56 candidates for local office in 26 states. Its candidate for president was Mel Mason; for vice-president, Andrea Gonzalez.

The fight against imperialist war was at the center of the Mason-Gonzalez campaign as they visited plant gates, union halls, picket lines, farming areas, and working-class, Black, and Latino neighborhoods across the country. They talked to working people about the gains workers and peasants have won in Nicaragua and Cuba, and stressed the important role the labor movement must play in opposing U.S. intervention in Central· America and the Caribbean.

The socialists called for international working-class solidarity with others fighting for their rights, from the striking British coal miners, to Puerto Ricans demanding independence, to Blacks struggling against South Africa's apartheid, to the workers and farmers of Vietnam and Kampuchea .

Mason and Gonzalez opposed the reactionary anti-imports, protectionist schemes used to falsely label workers in other countries as the source of unemployment in the United States, rather than the U.S, employers ..

The SWP ticket was the only one that consistently defended abortion rights. Mason and Gonzalez demanded repeal of all laws restricting the right to safe, legal abortion. They called for restoring- and expanding - government funds for women who want abortions and cannot afford them.

The socialists explained that the problems of war, attacks on Black and women's rights, farm foreclosures, and union-busting cannot be solved at the ballot box. They explained the need for working people to reject the Democratic and Republican parties- the twin parties of war, exploitation, racism, and sexism. What ·is needed, they said, is independent working-class political action that can organize and mobilize the victims of class exploitation to overturn capitalist rule and establish a workers and farmers government.

Mason and Gonzalez called for a labor party based on a fighting, democratic trade union movement that will champion the interests of workers, farmers, Blacks, Latinos, women, and other ' victims of capitalism. They also called for the formation of an independent Black political party, which would not only be an advance for Blacks, but also help inspire and hasten the development of a labor party. The goal of the labor party, they explained, will be to lead the struggle for a workers and farmers government in the United States that will use the vast resources and technology of this country to aid in eliminating hunger, poverty and disease all over the globe. This government will abolish capitalism in the United States and join the worldwide struggle for socialism.

Peter Thierjung is national secretary of the Young Socialist Alliance and was a youth coordinator of the Mason/Gonzalez campaign .

November 16, 1984
The Militant



[2011] Then as farce: the 'second phase' of FSLN electoralism

Martha Grevatt's article "Sandinista revolution enters second phase" published online by Workers World Party gives an inaccurate and one-sided view of the FSLN, the 1979 Nicaraguan Revolution, and the 1990 Nicaraguan election. Whatever one's opinion of Grevatt's reporting from present-day Nicaragua, our movement's understanding of what happened in Nicaragua is central to the task of rebuilding communist leadership, and communist parties worthy of the name, today.

In her unfortunately "me-too" cheerleading paean to the current FSLN, Grevatt writes:
The FSLN is named for liberation fighter Augusto C├ęsar Sandino, who was murdered by U.S. Marines in 1933. In 1979, guerrilla fighters from the front overthrew the hated, U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. A five-member "junta" that included Ortega took over leadership. In 1984 Ortega was elected president.
Are these kinds of misremembered generalizations allowed life because the article's author remembers history this way, or because no one bothered to go back and re-read the contemporary accounts of the FSLN and the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution? For it was a Nicaraguan Revolution, not simply a guerillaist overthrow of a US-backed dictator, as Grevatt leads readers to believe. The 1979 Revolution [occurring in the same annus mirabilis as the Grenadian and Iranian revolutions] was prepared for over a decade by a communist leadership team around Carlos Fonseca, who fell in battle in 1976. In addition to a military civil war, the revolution conquered power through unprecedented rural and urban organization, preparing workers and peasants for power, and actually governing liberated areas well before 7/19/1979. A reading of the FSLN's Historic Program gives an excellent insight into the Marxist spirit of Fonseca's team, and their embrace of the "Cuban road."
Continuing, Grevatt writes:
From 1981 to 1990 the U.S. engaged in economic sabotage against Nicaragua and financed the "contras," counterrevolutionaries who waged a war of terror that cost 40,000 to 50,000 lives. In 1990, Ortega lost to opposition candidate Violeta Chamorro, whose campaign was heavily funded by the U.S.
From reading this, one would think Nicaragua's workers and farmers lost the contra war. In fact, by 1988 the contra war was finished as a strategic military operation by Washington and its regional allies to overthrow the results of the 1979 revolution. FSLN's own corrections of its errors among indigenous peoples, and progress on land reform, eroded any material basis the contras had to remain in the field.
One would also think, reading Grevatt, that the 1990 electoral defeat for Daniel Ortega was the result of an unprecedented wave of contra terror and Yankee dollars. But in fact, the 1990 Nicaraguan elections only registered a situation that had already come to exist in the Nicaraguan class struggle. To pose the question of the FSLN's political evolution in the sharpest and most accurate way: the most politically advanced cadre were left leaderless in an organization-wide retreat from the "Cuban road" of overthrowing capitalism and building a mass communist party. Daniel Ortega came to be the spokesman for these forces, which rationalized their course as a "third-way": part Olaf Palme, part perestroika. We who were there will not forget the 1990 FSLN election slogan: "With Daniel we'll get more."

Hardly a slogan to rival "Hasta la victoria simepre!"

And hardly grounds for saying that the reelection of Ortega today would represent, as Grevatt says in her headline, a "second phase" of the 1979 revolution. Rhetoric of phases and stages used to mask and obscure the organization of defeat and demobilization of workers and farmers by the FSLN for nearly a quarter century does not help rebuild a communist movement in Nicaragua or the United States. ["Second phase" sounds distinctly like the kind of double-dealing outcome imposed recently on Verizon workers, whose union leadership drove them back to work unconditionally. ]
Perilous retreats are necessary at all levels of working class struggle, but revolutionaries must present them and defend them as retreats, not as antechambers to greater victories when they clearly are not. Grevatt's unscientific and impressionistic view of Ortega's at-best middle class radicalism is nothing short of scandalous.
Grevatt should know that Ortega's politics do not advance the historic demands of Nicaragua's toilers. He has given ample proof if his course over the decades. On abortion and womens' rights, something all communists have a mortal stake in, we will merely note that today he is an anti-choice as he was twenty years ago :

Ortega sought to rationalize this position by pointing to the U.S.-sponsored counterrevolutionary war and its impact on Nicaragua's small population. "The ones fighting in the front lines against this aggression are young men," he said. "One way of depleting our youth is to promote the sterilization of women in Nicaragua—just imagine what would happen then—or to promote a policy of abortion."

"The problem is that the woman is the one who reproduces. The man can't play that role," Ortega continued. Some women, he said, "aspiring to be liberated," decide not to bear children. "A woman who does so negates her own continuity, the continuity of the human species."

This stance was one registration of the FSLN leadership's growing abandonment of the revolutionary government's proletarian course in the early years following the overthrow of Somoza. The workers and farmers government had begun to take far-reaching measures in the interests of the producing majority. By the mid-1980s, however, the FSLN leadership began retreating from mobilizing working people to fight for their interests. Instead, it relied more and more on alliances with sections of the capitalist class. The current FSLN leadership has sought to carve out for itself a place in capitalist ruling circles, and to use its political influence to expand lucrative business interests as well.

All the ALBA window-dressing in the world cannot rechristen a capitalist electoral party like the FSLN as a revolutionary organization. Marxists judge individuals, groups, and political parties by their actions, not their campaign slogans or Tammany Hall-style perspicacity.

In a communist newspaper today, we are given not our own line of march, but this by Grevatt:

The FSLN-led government favors redistribution of wealth. It gives assistance to small farmers and thousands of worker-owned and -run cooperatives, not to big agribusiness as in the U.S. Under the FSLN, the cost of living for an average family has gone down while minimum salaries have doubled.

Quoting the press releases and public statements of Ortega flunkies like Dr. Paul Oquist will not suffice.

One should not leave the impression that the FSLN alone has a monopoly on shamelessly "dining-out" with the working class solely on the basis of past victories now explicitly rejected. Nationalist movements in the semicolonial world that never posed or achieved the clarity or mass mobilization of the FSLN in its heroic [i.e. communist] period, are likewise acting today on the fact that they are unfit for anything but ballot-mongering:

....exhaustion of revolutionary content marks the political evolution of petty-bourgeois and aspiring bourgeois leaderships of national liberation movements today: from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and other Palestinian organizations such as Hamas, to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA).

These organizations arose (or re-arose) during the closing decades of the twentieth century on the basis of powerful opposition to national oppression among the Palestinian, Irish, and Basque peoples. Over the past four decades, however, the leaderships of these organizations have relied on spectacular armed actions, in combination (especially as such operations not only produced no gains but met intensified repression) with diplomatic and political maneuvers to reach a negotiated accommodation with the oppressors. Mobilizations organized by them were more and more used solely as pressure to better realize such an accommodation.

None of these leaderships ever proved capable of mobilizing and leading the workers and peasants as the backbone of a revolutionary democratic movement capable of fighting effectively for national liberation, freedom from imperialist domination, land to the tillers, the right to armed self-defense, and the organization of the working class to act in the interests of the producing classes. None developed a leadership of the revolutionary caliber and political capacity of the July 26 Movement and Rebel Army in Cuba, the National Liberation Front of Algeria, Sandinista National Liberation Front of Nicaragua, New Jewel Movement of Grenada, or the revolutionary movement in Burkina Faso. [*]

Petty bourgeois leaderships like the FSLN today are an impediment. Telling workers in any part of the Americas that their electoral victory is a breakthrough for our class simply prepares the next generation for demoralization. We need a new levy of Carlos Fonsecas, and that will not be accomplished by a new electoral mandate for the FSLN's policies.

I will close with one more quotation of the programmatic basis today of these squalid, anti-worker policies:

....A brief declaration issued by the FSLN delegation to the Nicaraguan National Assembly Aug. 16, 2006, echoed this position.

"We are a party in favor of life," it said. "Therefore we reaffirm our respect, promotion, development, and protection of the lives of Nicaraguan men and women… and consequently we stand against abortion."

According to Ipas, a U.S.-based reproductive rights groups, only 24 authorized abortions have been performed in Nicaragua in the last three years, while some 32,000 illegal abortions are performed in the country each year. Maternal and infant mortality rates in Nicaragua are among the highest in the region, with abortions contributing to 16 percent of all maternal deaths.

Jay Rothermel