December 30, 2011

Statement of UE National Officers on the Occupy Wall Street Movement

This Union supports Occupy:

UE - the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America - stands in solidarity with the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and the marches, protests, assemblies and occupations it has sparked across the country. In the past few weeks members of UE have joined in many of those actions, in cities including Pittsburgh, Washington, Chicago, Davenport and Iowa City, Iowa; Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina; Burlington, Vermont; Charleston, West Virginia; and Los Angeles, California.

Three years ago - as the very moment when the reckless, unrestrained greed of Wall Street bankers and speculators was dragging the economy into a deep crisis - a bold action by 240 UE members at a small factory in Chicago captured the country's attention and gave voice to the anger of millions. The members of UE Local 1110 occupied Republic Windows and Doors to protest its sudden closing, and refused to leave until the company and Bank of America agreed to pay them the wages and benefits they were owed. Addressing themselves to the bank, which was largely responsible for the plant closing, the Republic workers and their supporters shouted, "You got bailed out, we got sold out!"

That chant, and the six-day plant occupation from which it arose, are now echoed in the Occupy Wall Street movement. The protestors, predominantly young, have revived the tactic of occupation which, in the form of sit-down strikes, was central to the growth of a militant U.S. labor movement in the 1930s. The factory occupations of the '30s not only brought millions of workers into unions. They also helped enact some of the most important economic and social reforms of the 20th century, and placed much-needed restrictions on the unbridled Wall Street greed that had caused the great stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.

Read more here.

December 29, 2011

ABOUT FACE - Military Resisters Turn Against War

Date: 2012-02-02
Event Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Organization: Alliance for Democracy - Portland
More Info: http://www.afd-pdx.org

Description:
Courage to Resist director Jeff Paterson and special guests will speak on release of new book, "About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against war.". In addition, they will discuss the Bradley Manning Support Campaign, included a report from the December pretrial hearing.
This book documents the resistance of American heroes--resistance to illegal wars, to immoral wars, and to government secrecy, that threaten the very foundation of our democracy. A must-read for every American"
- Marjorie Cohn, co-author, Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent.

$5-15 Donation requested but no one turned away

More information: David e. Delk, 503.232.5495, davidafd@ymail.com

Occupy the Courts

Date: 2012-01-20
Event Time: 11:30 am - 2:00 pm
Organization: Alliance for Democracy - Portland
More Info: http://www.movtoamendpdx.org

Description:
Occupy the Courts will be a one-day occupation of Federal Courthouses across the country (75 as of Dec. 28) including the US Supreme Court in Wash DC. Together we will lead the charge on the judiciary that created, and continues to expand corporate personhood rights.

Corporations Are Not People! Money is Not Speech!

Start gathering at 11:30.
Rally starts at 12 Noon
Rally is followed by march around the Pioneer Courthouse. While this is not official Federal courthouse, it is where the District Court judges have their offices as well as where some federal hearings and cases are heard.

More info: David Delk 503.232.5495, davidafd@ymail.com

Corporations Are Not People, Why They Have More Rights Than You Do

Date: 2012-02-11
Event Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Organization: Alliance for Democracy - Portland
More Info: http://www.afd-pdx.org

Description:
Jeffrey Clements reveals the far-reaching effects of this strange and destructive idea of corporate personhood, which flies in the face of not only all common sense but most of American legal history as well. Most importantly, he offers solutions - including a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United - and tools to help readers join a grassroots drive to implement them. Ending corporate control of our Constitution and government is not about a triumph of one political ideology over another - it's about restoring the republican principles of American democracy.

Jeffrey Clements is a co-founder of Free Speech for People, a national, nonpartisan campaign to Citizens United and pass the People's Rights Amendment. He has represented and advocated for people, businesses, and the public interest since 1988.
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"A brilliant contribution to the literature on the crime of corporate personhood - and what we can do about it"
- Thom Hartmann, bestselling author of Unequal Protection and Rebooting the American Dream and host of the Thom Hartmann Program
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$5-15 Donation requested but no one turned away
More information: David e. Delk, 503.232.5495, davidafd@ymail.com

December 23, 2011

EVA ATTACKS HOLLYWOOD AND DEFENDS STEIG LARSSON'S "GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO"

If you have been under a rock (or otherwise engaged) during the last five years you might have missed the exploding popularity of Swedish activist Steig Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy". And in particular the anti hero Lisbeth Salander.

The back story is almost as compelling as the stories themselves. Steig Larsson was a lifelong socialist, feminist and crusader against the rise of the neo-nazi movement in Sweden. He wrote a series of three novels which focus on the issues that were important to him. They are semi-autobiographical. Before they were published he died of a heart attack. Because he was not married to his life partner Eva Gabrielsson and there was no will, his estranged father and brother have inherited his intellectual property rights.

About three years ago there were three films made in Sweden based on the trilogy. Much to Eva's surprise within a year of the Swedish films distribution in the U.S. there was an announcement that Hollywood had purchased the rights to "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." She was understandably concerned and has always maintained that she has no interest in the money but only the integrity of Steig's intellectual property.

When I heard that the Hollywood director David Fincher said he was "toning down" Lisbeth Salander's character I was not surprised. And I hoped we would hear from Eva soon. This week as the Hollywood film opens, she came forward and stated emphatically that Steig Larsson would never have approved of merchandise being linked to the film. She insisted that he would have used the buzz around his work to call attention to violence and discrimination against women. "We would never have sold any rights for merchandising. This has nothing to do with the books." The clothing label H and M has released a Dragon Tattoo Collection which they claim was inspired by the character Lisbeth Salander. Undoubtedly this would be the "toned down" Salander David Fincher was talking about.

Gabrielsson expressed concern that the political dimensions of Larsson's books, including the feminist hero will be overlooked. She states that Larsson wanted to show that gender imbalances exist, even in Sweden which has one of the world's most egalitarian societies. "The oppression of women is everywhere".

She was particularly enraged when the American actress Rooney Mara, who has the coveted role of Lisbeth Salander, spoke at a press conference last month. She stated that Salander is not a feminist and doesn't see herself as part of any group or subculture. I imagine the subculture comment is Hollywood code for "gee, she is a bisexual but not really". Eva is Swedish so maybe she is not used to Hollywood cleansing promotion of any possible controversy. Her outrage is clear. "Does she know what film she is in? Has she even read the books? Has she not had any coaching? Yes, Lisbeth is part of a movement. Her entire being represents resistance, an active resistance to whatever prevents women from advancing in this world and in worst case scenarios are abused like she was."

Gabrielsson also believes the feminist theme has been lost with the creation of the English title. "It sounds like a children's book". The Swedish title is "Man Som Hatar Kvinnor" - Men Who Hate Women. "That is the basic theme of these books".

We know Hollywood can do the violence and suspense part of these novels. But reading the books and renting the Swedish films will probably get you closer to Steig Larsson's original intent.


December 21, 2011

World Federation of Trade Unions 16th World Trade Union Congress

Six reasons to oppose Keystone pipeline

by: Sam Webb

There are many reasons to oppose the building of an oil pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to the refineries off the shores of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico.

One: The employment impact of this Keystone XL pipeline will be far less than advertised. The GOP leadership says the pipeline "would create over 100,000 jobs," but this is a gross inflation. According to the State Department, it will provide about 6,000 temporary jobs for construction workers. But even this number may be a significant overestimation. As for permanent jobs, the number will be far fewer, somewhere in the hundreds, according to TransCanada Corp., the company that will build the pipeline if it is approved.

Two: Meanwhile the project will put at risk a quarter million ranches and farms that provide real jobs in the Great Plains states.

Three: The environmental impact of the pipeline is potentially huge. It will cross more than 2,000 waterways, including the Yellowstone River in Montana, threatening rivers, lakes and streams with the same kind of pipeline accidents that have occurred elsewhere.

Four: Alberta's tar sands produce bitumen, a low-grade crude oil, through a very dirty process that is destroying Canada's boreal forest. In doing so it is putting at risk woodlands, watersheds, animals, plants, and an entire way of life for native peoples living there. The current mining moonscape is the size of Chicago, but pales in comparison with the future size of the mining operation if the pipeline is built.

Five: Oil from the tar sands won't reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil as claimed. Most of the oil will be refined and then exported to other countries.

Six: The extraction of oil from the tar sands produces three to four times more pollution than is caused by the conventional production of North American crude oil. This is not to defend the latter (we need energy alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels), but only to give some sense of the scale of the emissions of carbon into the atmosphere from the mining of tar sands.

Read more here.

December 20, 2011

Schools in Crisis: An Our Oregon Mini-Documentary


Homelessness and Education from Our Oregon on Vimeo.

Portland City Council Hearing on Overnight Sleeping in Vehicles

Tomorrow, December 21 at 9:00am
Location: City Hall SW 4th and Madison

"Where the 99% Kicked Out the 1 Percent"

Written by Bill Preston

From the remarks of Bill Preston, President AFGE Local 17, at a November 18 panel sponsored by U.S. Labor for Friendship with Cuba and the Metro DC Coalition to Free the Cuban Five.

Cuba is a country where the 99% actually took over and kicked the 1% out of power.

While we in the imperialist countries learn about current developments in Cuba's socialist economy, we cannot forget the internationalist duties of those of us who reside in the land of U.S. imperialism:

We cannot "forget even for one moment," Lenin argued, that "our" imperialists stand for the exploitation, oppression, and annexation of the nations and peoples who form the greatest masses of humanity, in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

For someone who lives in the U.S. who thinks they support socialism to fail to do this—to forget U.S. imperialism's historical and ongoing rapacious desires to exploit, oppress, and, yes, to annex Cuba—makes that U.S. person, as Lenin would put it, "an abettor of imperialism in practice."

In Lenin's time the struggle for the right of self-determination within the ranks of the Second International centered mainly on the advocacy and fight for freedom of secession for oppressed countries. "Without this," wrote Lenin, "there can be no internationalism." ("The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up," 1916.)

Today the struggle for the right of self-determination includes the right of socialist countries, like Cuba, where the working class is the ruling class, to independent development free from imperialism.

Read more here.

IRAQ'S FEDERATION OF WORKER'S COUNCILS AND UNIONS SPEAK

Now That You Have Destroyed Our Country, Withdrawing Is Not Enough

To the American President Barak Obama

Nine years ago your military invaded Iraq claiming two justifications: the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the goal of spreading democracy. The first pretext was proved absolutely false, which even former-president George Bush has admitted. This was shameful. But in the name of spreading democracy, what Iraqis have witnessed instead it that the US spreads killing, looting, sectarian strife, militias, and terrorism. You imposed reactionary ideas, especially about women, so that sexual trafficking and prostitution are now increasing here. Our schools and universities have been destroyed and education has deteriorated. The US authorities you put in power over us, and later the government the US imposed upon us through the elections you administered have devastated our communities’ resources.

During the US occupation, Iraq experienced levels of crime and political chaos never before witnessed here, even during the conquest of Baghdad by the Mongol ruler, Hulagu Khan. Civilized life declined. The gains of decades of struggle to improve life in Iraq were wiped out. Evidence of centuries of historical development in Iraq, the achievements of the great Babylonians and the ruins of Sumer and Akkad were thoughtlessly destroyed as you turned them into army barracks. Your soldiers dug up the ground around the ruins, destroying even the clay tablets on which human beings first wrote letters thousands of years ago.

Not satisfied with merely destroying Iraq, the occupation forces created political structures that planted seeds of hate and enmity, and opposed all that was modern, advanced and striving for freedom. These new political structures created conflicts and renewed old disputes, throwing our society into a vortex of violence and corruption, destroying what had been a modern, urban culture.

Your withdrawal now – which we still do not trust to be total or final – will not solve the problems that our society faces. It will not end the crisis that the US created. We will need many long years to forget the painful memories and suffering of being victims of occupation. We will need decades to restore what you have destroyed and decades to save our future generations. You have left behind an environment polluted by radiation and soil poisoned with chemicals. Our children and our elders are dying from diseases caused by your weapons and destruction. They cry out for treatment, but there is no cure for their suffering. Many hope for death just to end their pain.

You have spent hundreds of billions of dollars that you collected in taxes from Americans who rejected war. Your country now suffers high unemployment. You forced your nation’s youth to kill innocent people under the pretext of fighting terrorism, while your own citizens opposed war and rejected your war policies. American workers declared their opposition to war with Iraq before the invasion. They joined anti-war groups and waged campaigns to stop the war. Your leaders may boast of victory but after withdrawal they will leave behind sorrows that don’t end. How can you withdraw without acknowledging the crimes that you have committed?

You owe the Iraqi people compensation. You must be responsible for the suffering of the innocent victims of your war. The people of Iraq retain the right to make these demands, even if your agreement with the Iraqi government does not mention our right.

Our voices are the voices of millions of Iraqi workers, the voices of the masses in our country. We are expressing our outrage over what is happening. At the same time our voices reflect the wishes of billions of people throughout the world – especially the American public who called for freedom from fighting wars and who asked to live in peace with other peoples. The thousands of people who are on Wall Street in the name of the “Occupy Movement” share this message of peace not war, a message that rejects humans abusing one another. Instead, we call for equality and an end to injustice – a call being heard throughout the world. We stand together with our colleagues in the Occupy Movement against the US war policies and the capitalist system that promotes them.

Fallah Alwan

President of the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq

__________________________________________

December 19, 2011

"Making Decisions the Ojibwe Way"




The Occupy Salem Education Committee presents a video screening and discussion

What can Native American culture teach us about making crucial decisions? How can we know if our decisions are correct?

Calvin Hecocta, a wisdom keeper of the Klamath tribe, will share some reflections. Barbara Ray will screen the video "Making Decisions the Ojibwe Way" and Chuck Wynns will facilitate the discussion.

Wednesday, January 4, 7 p.m. at the Oregon PeaceWorks office, 104 Commercial St. NE, Salem, OR.

South Sudan: Africa's newest communist party

By Kerryn Williams





December 16, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Africa’s newest communist party has been born with the formation of the South Sudan Communist Party. On June 28, the SSCP was formally launched at a press conference in Khartoum. On July 9, the Republic of South Sudan officially came into being after seceding from Sudan.

The new party was established by the former section of the Sudanese Communist Party in the south, and also involves returning southern SCP members who fled to the north of Sudan during the civil war.

The party includes former SCP members who joined and were active at all levels in the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), now the ruling party of South Sudan.

Preparation for the new party began after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed, which ended the three-decade-long north-south civil war and paved the way for the January 2011 referendum on independence.

Long road to independence

The new South Sudan state faces enormous challenges after a long and difficult road to winning independence.

While the most recent phase of the war in the south, from 1983-2005, caused the death of some 2 million people, the conflict and the suffering of the people of South Sudan long predates this.

Under British colonial rule, divisions were perpetuated between the mostly Muslim, Arabic-speaking north Sudanese and the southerners, who spoke local languages and practised traditional indigenous religions.

Development, education and administration were all focused on the north, while the south was kept underdeveloped and isolated from its northern neighbours. Education in the south was left to the Christian missionaries.

In the late 1940s, prior to granting Sudan’s independence in 1956, the British colonial rulers began to impose Islam and the Arabic language on the south. After independence, power was handed to a narrow elite in Khartoum, which furthered the policy of “Arabisation” of the south. This was the basis for a two-decade-long civil war that killed half a million people.

In 1972 the war ended when the Jafaar Nimeiri regime granted limited autonomy to the south. However the government continued to deny southerners resources, development and political power.

In the early 1980s autonomy was revoked and Nimeiri subjected the south to a harsh form of Islamic sharia law. A rebellion of southern soldiers -- led by John Garang, who went on to form the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army -- sparked the renewal of the civil war. This second phase lasted until the CPA was signed in 2005.

The 2 million deaths caused by this war included hundreds of thousands of victims of war-induced famine. The coalition government led by Sadiq Al Mahdi -- which came to power in 1985 after a mass popular uprising overthrew the Nimeiri dictatorship -- consciously blocked food aid to the south, as the army conducted a brutal campaign that displaced the overwhelming majority of the population.

After Al Mahdi was forced to open negotiations with the SPLM/A in 1989, the right-wing Islamic forces, who opposed any peaceful settlement of the conflict, launched a coup. In June of that year the National Islamic Front seized power and installed current Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir.

Visions for the south

From its formation, the SPLM/A campaigned for southern autonomy within a united, democratic and secular Sudan, which was the vision of the party’s founder John Garang.

However the SPLM/A leadership later shifted to support the secession of South Sudan.

There was a major setback to the struggle in the period following the CPA when John Garang, who became Sudan’s First Vice President after the CPA was signed, was killed in a helicopter crash in July 2005. Street battles erupted in Khartoum as southern youths accused the government of murdering Garang, and right-wing Islamic thugs conducted violent retribution.

After Khartoum failed to implement most of what it agreed to in the CPA, few people in southern Sudan retained any hope of achieving liberation while remaining within greater Sudan.

The referendum result was a near-unanimous endorsement of independence and from the towns to the villages across the south, there were euphoric celebrations in the streets.

Sudanese Communist Party

The Sudanese Communist Party, which was formed in 1946, has had extensive involvement in the struggle for justice and democratic rights in the south. One of the founders of the southern democratic movement, Joseph Garang, was a leader of the SCP. He was executed by the Nimeiri regime in the 1970s.

The SCP was a key force in the National Democratic Alliance, a coalition of northern opposition parties that worked in collaboration with the SPLM/A.

Up until the separation of South Sudan, the SCP continued to campaign for a united, secular, democratic Sudan, where the rights of all peoples were respected and resources and development were accorded equally across the vast territory.

However once it became clear that the people of South Sudan desired independence as the only viable means to escape Khartoum’s repressive rule, the SCP began preparing to launch a new, independent party in the south.

The SCP leadership in Khartoum put forward the perspective that the best way for members from the south who were living in the north to further the struggle was to return to South Sudan after independence and join the new SSCP.

Establishing a democratic state

The Republic of South Sudan’s first government faces the onerous task of rebuilding a devastated, war-ravaged country with low levels of literacy and education and very poor health indicators.

Attempts to establish basic infrastructure and services have been undermined by Khartoum’s efforts to extract maximum revenue from the south’s oil exports. While most of the north and south’s combined oil reserves lie in the south, the south’s oil must be exported via the infrastructure in the north and Khartoum has demanded substantial transit fees.

Violence from Khartoum and the continued threat of renewed war with the north remain. The Sudanese Armed Forces have for several months been conducting a sustained bombing campaign in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State, just north of the border with South Sudan. It has also aggressively pursued its claim over the disputed territory of Abyei, whose status was not resolved through the CPA.

The northern regime has also extended its bombing across the border into South Sudan’s northern states.

The SPLM government itself has faced much internal dissent, with widespread allegations of serious corruption and accusations that the ruling party favours the Dinka people over other groups within the diverse South Sudanese population. Since independence there have been numerous conflicts with armed groups opposed to the SPLM’s rule.

The government has also been criticised for curtailing democratic rights, including the arrests of journalists and other critics.

At a press conference in South Sudan's capital, Juba, on November 19, SSCP secretary general Joseph Wol Modesto called for a democratic, secular state to be established in South Sudan, The Citizen reported on November 21. He called on the new government to reduce its “huge administration” to enable better service delivery to the people, and for development to be balanced equally across the country’s ten states.

Modesto also denounced Khartoum’s bombing of several South Sudanese states near the border with Sudan.

According to the November 22 edition of the SCP newspaper Al Midan, Modesto welcomed the release of Al Masir (The Destiny) editor Ngor Aguot Garang, who had been arrested several weeks earlier. The press conference was held in the offices of Al Masir, a new Arabic-language newspaper.

Modesto also noted the problems of famine and deaths caused by disease epidemics due to the lack of a decent health care system. Modesto criticised government corruption and called for the establishment of an independent judiciary, democratic rights and a multi-party parliamentary system.

The SPLM government has introduced a new law prohibiting civil servants from being members of political parties, which the SSCP strongly opposes.

AllAfrica.com reported on December 6 that the SSCP issued a statement pointing out that civil servants played a decisive role in the long struggle for independence, so it was hypocritical to now deny civil servants the “right to participate in the political work through the parties of their own choice”.

The statement asked whether the thousands of SPLM members in the civil service will also be denied this right and banned from working in the party, or is the new law “designed to restrict and silence the opposition forces only?”

The SSCP said the outcome of the act would be to transform South Sudan into a one-party state. The Political Party Act also imposes harsh conditions for the registration of political parties, including the requirement that a congress of at least 500 members be held and the founding minutes be given to the Ministry of Justice. The SSCP likened these efforts of the government to regulate and control the activities of political parties to “an innovation of some totalitarian governments to restrict the activities of the parties”.

The SSCP said it was important in such a poor country with high illiteracy to allow the democratic space for political parties, student organisations, trade unions and the press to develop.

December 18, 2011

Conference Call On The Historic Wisconsin Recall Campaign

Join the Communist Party USA on Tuesday, December 20 for a live interview on the historic Wisconsin recall campaign of Gov. Scott Walker and its implications for turning back the rightwing anti-labor assault and winning in the 2012 elections.

The recall movement sweeping the state has already gathered the minimum signatures needed for a special election and a month remains to withstand any challenge.

In a special live video interview, December 20, Ed Sadlowski, Jr., of AFSCME Council 40 Wisconsin, will discuss the the historic recall campaign against Gov. Scott Walker and the struggle going forward.
 
Tuesday, December 20
8:00 pm Eastern, 7:00 pm Central, 5:00 pm Pacific
 


Watch live video on Ustream or at  CPUSA.org or listen in by phone. Call (605) 475-4850 and dial 1053538# after the prompt.

(Check Ustream to make sure your computer is compatible)

Check out coverage of the recall at the PeoplesWorld.org:
Wisconsin recall campaign off to blazing start: here
84 year old woman forced to pay $200 poll tax: here

Best wishes for the holiday season,

John Wojcik
PeoplesWorld.org Labor Editor

Egypt: Urgent Call for Global Solidarity

NYC Labor Against the War
12.18.11 Occupy Wall Street Report:

Egypt: Urgent Call for Global Solidarity

mahmud_hassan_tahrir.jpg

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'Please mobilise urgently to demand that Egypt's military rulers immediately stop attacking protesters. Call on governments worldwide, and especially the Mubarak regime's main backers, the USA, UK and other western states, halt arms sales to Egypt and end their financial and material support for the repressive apparatus of the Egyptian regime.'
- - - - - - - -


Egypt: Call for global solidarity after 16 Dec army attack on protesters
Posted on December 18, 2011

Protesters against military rule in Egypt have appealed for global demonstrations against the latest brutal assault led by the Egyptian army on the sit-ins at the Cabinet Offices and Tahrir Square in Cairo on 16 December 2011.

By 18 December 10 people had been killed and hundreds injured in the attack. Solidarity protests were beginning to spread across Egypt and worldwide in response.

Please mobilise urgently to demand that Egypt's military rulers immediately stop attacking protesters. Call on governments worldwide, and especially the Mubarak regime's main backers, the USA, UK and other western states, halt arms sales to Egypt and end their financial and material support for the repressive apparatus of the Egyptian regime.

What you can do:

1. Organise or join protests outside Egyptian embassies worldwide. Send reports and pictures of protests to menasolidarity@gmail.com or post on facebook here: www.facebook.com/mena.solidarity

2. Organise a solidarity statement and collect signatures. Send or deliver to the Egyptian embassy in your country and send copies to menasolidarity@gmail.com or post on facebook here: www.facebook.com/mena.solidarity

3. Share and translate reports of the military attack on the protesters to help counter the lies being put out by Egyptian state media. Follow @3arabawy on Twitter and see Ahram Online's website for detailed coverage.

Salem Post Office Action TOMORROW

People are planning to be at the Salem post office on 25th St tomorrow from 11 – 1 with clipboard and petitions, informational flyers and signs to get signatures of support for keeping rural post offices open – it’s the biggest post office day of the year.  40 post offices in rural Oregon – and 4 distribution centers including our's in Salem have been threatened with closure.  Because of public outcry some have been taken off the list and the closures have been delayed until May.  We need to keep up the pressure to make sure rural areas don’t lose one of their few resources.

This is really not just about rural post offices – it’s about the continuing effort to downsize and privatize postal services – and doing this by forcing the post office to fund itself differently than any corporation or government agency has to. If you have some time to spend tomorrow we can use more people-  even for ½ hour would be great. 

U.S. Trade Union Research Delegation to Cuba: April 25-May 2, 2012

With U.S. Labor for Friendship with Cuba as a program consultant, Marazul Charters, Inc. is organizing a research delegation to Cuba for full-time trade unionists:  April 25-May 2, 2012.
The research goals of the delegation are to (1) learn how the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC), Workers' Central Union of Cuba, the country's national trade union federation, is working with the new economic policies within the context of socialism; (2) learn first-hand from Cuban workers about the accomplishments and new challenges of a different economic system than our own; (3) be apprised by the CTC about the effects of the 50-year old U.S. economic blockade against the Cuban people, and; (4) learn how full economic and trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba could help workers from both countries by providing economic opportunities.
The U.S. government continues to impose restrictions on travel to Cuba.  But under a General License already issued by the U.S. Treasury Department, full-time professionals are permitted to travel to Cuba to conduct research in their fields.  To qualify under the General License for professional research for this particular delegation, you must work full time as an appointed or elected official of a labor union or be an academic in this field.
The cost of the program is approximately $1,600 for double occupancy and $1,700 for single occupancy, which includes round trip air fare from Miami to Havana, a Cuban visa, hotel accommodations, breakfast daily, several additional meals, a bi-lingual guide, and a full research program.  Delegates are responsible for their own air fare to and from Miami.  The research program will include exchanges with CTC leaders and rank and file Cuban union members, visits to hospitals, labor unions, the Lazaro Pena School of the Cuban Workers, work sites, and the observance of Cuba’s May Day celebration on May 1st.
The deadline for all applications will be Friday, April 13, 2012.
If you are interested, or know someone who is interested, that meets the above qualifications - Interested persons should contact Marazul Charters at info@marazul.com.  Marazul Charters will send you details on the arrangements, the qualifications, as well as the application form.
If you have specific questions about the program itself - Please contact Carl Gentile, Chairperson of U.S. Labor for Friendship with Cuba, at 1187@comcast.net and/or call 240-285-6519.  U.S. Labor for Friendship with Cuba seeks to educate working people about Cuba’s accomplishments in eliminating hunger, joblessness, illiteracy, and making free quality health care and education available to its entire population; creating a society where the 99 percent are in control of their own destiny.  We are also supportive of efforts to free the Cuban Five, who are unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for fighting right-wing terrorism and for preventing attacks from Miami against Cuba by right-wing Cuban-Americans.

December 17, 2011

DES MOINES OCCUPY AND CATHOLIC WORKERS CLAIM THEY WILL SHUT DOWN OBAMA CAMPAIGN HQ

DES MOINES, Iowa — Occupy Des Moines activists on Saturday vowed to shut down President Barack Obama's campaign offices and set up a camp outside they plan to maintain around the clock.

"We have every intention to keep this place closed down until we are satisfied," said Frank Cordaro, an activist and founder of the Catholic Worker group in Des Moines.

A handful of activists went to Obama's nondescript office in a downtown strip mall after larger rallies to mark the three-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. They had hoped to read a statement demanding Obama cut military spending by half and "dismantle our U.S. military empire ... so we can create jobs, balance the budget, meet our peoples' needs here and help the human community to heal our dying planet."

When they arrived, they found the doors locked.

"You wouldn't even have known this was a campaign office," said Julie Brown, an activist who recently moved to Des Moines.

To highlight its tenets, the protesters put up a hand-written sign on cardboard: "Obama's Former Headquarters."

Brown backed Obama four years ago – "he was the lesser of two evils," she said – but has since soured on the whole political system.

"We need a real leader who will put this country back to work," she said.

That anti-establishment flavor runs through the growing Occupy movement that has sprouted up across the country.

"This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. This is about the whole system being against us. The corporate elites own all of the politicians and they set the agenda," Cordaro said. "What we are doing here is trying to win back our bought-and-sold political empire. We need to dismantle it because there is no difference between George Bush and Obama."

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined to comment.

December 16, 2011

Nabi Saleh, Palestine: theft of land and life by Israelis

a small village of approximately 550 people, northwest of Ramallah in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The Israeli colony of Halamish (also known as Neveh Tzuf ) was established on lands belonging to the villages of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham in 1976.   In response to the illegal colony being established on their land, the residents of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham began holding demonstrations in opposition to the stealing of their land and the establishment of the colony (whose establishment violates international law).





Israeli soldiers have broken up a demonstration by hundreds of villagers and peace protesters outside the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, a week after a protester died at a similar event.

Every week for the past three years a protest has taken place at the site against what the villagers say is the theft of their land by Jewish settlers, and almost every week the demonstrations end in violence.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from the West Bank.

Marion County Mobilizes To Save The Post Office

From Rural Organizing Project:

The Idanha Post Office is on the list of 20 Post Offices across rural and small town Oregon that are scheduled to be closed next year.

This all stems from legislation passed in 2006 that requires the Postal Service to prefund worker and retiree benefits for the next 75 years. This requirement for funding benefits for workers who have not even been born yet is crippling the Postal Service. Without this requirement, the Postal Service would be financially stable and entirely self-sufficient without receiving any tax dollars.

On Monday, December 19th, communities across Oregon will be taking action to save their Post Offices. In Marion County, a group will be gathering at the Salem Post Office to show their support (to save their Post Office/by standing in solidarity with those taking action to save their Post Offices).

Can you join them? For an hour or a quick pit stop, take some time out of your busy day to stop by your local Post Office and show your appreciation for the services it provides, sign the petition to save Post Offices in Oregon, and be a part of this peaceful statewide occupation to fix what Congress has broken. To hear more about the details of the action at the Salem Post Office or to learn more about this statewide action contact Jessica at 503-543-8417 or jessica@rop.org.

December 14, 2011

THE WHITE HOUSE WILL NOT VETO THE DEFENSE BILL AUTHORIZING INDEFINITE DETENTION OF U.S. CITIZENS

This should surprise no one, as President Obama had requested it in the first place. Senator Levin, Chair of the Armed Services Committee said so on the Senate floor. See You Tube.

The Defense Bill gives the President the authority to deny citizens the right to a trial and indefinite detention based solely on suspicion.

Bringing out the typical smoke and mirrors the President had threatened to veto the bill when there was increased opposition around the country. Today the White House dropped that threat citing that the bill "does not challenge the President's ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the American people".
There You Are....

The Chinese Puzzle

Whither China? was the name of a widely circulated pamphlet authored by the respected Anglo-Indian Marxist author, R. Palme Dutt. Writing in 1966, with The People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the throes of the “Cultural Revolution”, the pamphlet sought to shed light on the PRC’s tortured road from liberation in 1949 to a vast upheaval disrupting all aspects of Chinese society as well as foreign relations. To most people – across the entire political spectrum—developments within this Asian giant were a challenge to understand. To be sure, there were zealots outside of the PRC who hung on every word uttered by The Great Helmsman, Chairman Mao, and stood by every release explaining Chinese events in the People’s Daily, Red Flag and Peking Review. A few Communist Parties and many middle-class intellectuals embraced the Cultural Revolution as a rite of purification. Yet for most, as with Palme Dutt, the paramount question remained: Where is the PRC going?

Today, forty-five years later, the question remains open.

Read more here.

December 12, 2011

PADURA'S HAUNTING PIECE ON THE MOTHER/ACCOMPLICE OF AN ASSASIN

ESPACIO LAICAL
03/2008

In response to a request for cooperation our journal made to the outstanding storyteller Leonardo Padura, he was kind enough to send us the following chronicle, namely a new version of the original text published last year by the news agency IPS. To a large extent, this piece can also be considered as a partial result of Padura’s historic research with a view to writing a novel, which it’s almost finished, about Ramón Mercader del Río, who murdered the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.

Caridad Mercader’s final hour
By Leonardo Padura
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Unlike the Père-Lachaise, Montmartre and Montparnasse cemeteries, the Pantin in Paris cannot boast a long list of notable interments. Located in Paris’s northwestern suburbs, its lack of well-crafted mausoleums and famous graves by comparison with the other three famous graveyards of the French capital city becomes obvious as soon as you cross the main gate: those who lie there in Pantin are visited exclusively by their beloved ones, not by sightseers, most of whom don’t even know about this place.

Lavishly populated with horse chestnuts and Japanese plum trees, the most impressive feature of the Pantin Cemetery is perhaps the huge quadrants where soldiers and civilian casualties of the two world wars found their final resting place. In contrast with the French flag fluttering above them, the small, humble and moss-covered tombstones on the earth remind you of a scene in Steven Spielberg’s film Saving Private Ryan. I paid a recent visit to this cemetery because in a remote spot of its territory lies one of the 20th century’s gloomiest, mysterious and peculiar characters. Much as her name probably means nothing to most people nowadays, the mere mention of Caridad del Río Hernández –thanks to the benefits of computer science and the efficient employee in charge of the placements and destinations of the Pantin’s dead– becomes a parcel, a row, a tomb and, especially, a worrying question that the said employee, unable to disguise a flicker of hope in his eyes, asks the tomb-seeker: “Are you a relative?”. Ever since he started asking the same question years ago to strangers and a few other people interested in that particular name, no one has given him an affirmative answer, among other reasons because it seems no one is eager to be related to this Caridad del Río Hernández, who was also known once as Caridad Mercader.

According to the inscription on the granite tombstone she shares with her son-in-law Jacques Dudouyt, Caridad del Río was born in Cuba in 1892 and died in Paris in 1975. But all along these years, the woman who now lies in Pantin arm-twisted fate long enough to carve herself one of the strangest and most sordid niches in last century’s history. Her crowning moment came precisely on August 20, 1940, in the far-off Mexican neighborhood of Coyoacán, when one of her children, named Ramón Mercader del Río, murdered Leon Trotsky by order of the communist leader Joseph Stalin. Not only had Caridad del Río instilled hatred in her son and put him in contact with the USSR’s dreadful NKVD officers who planned the kill, she also encouraged and helped him in his mission all along, until the afternoon of August 20, when, from a nearby car, she and the officer who had masterminded the whole operation watched as Ramón Mercader entered Trotsky’s house and, in passing, history’s garbage dump. Spanish by birth –she was born in colonial Cuba– Catalan by formation, French by preference and Soviet by nationality, the service Caridad del Río fulfilled that day earned her both the Order of Lenin, which she received from the Soviet Head of State Kalinin, and the lifetime gratitude of the country for which she had led her son to become one of history’s least known but most notorious criminals. In the 1940s she moved to Paris, where she is said to have been recruited by Soviet intelligence agents and managed to keep her status and a life salary to live comfortably despite Stalin’s death, Beria’s demise and Khruschchev’s mellowing. Unlike many other agents who ended up purged or in prison, Caridad del Río had the privilege of living, silent but unwavering, to enjoy, as hero of the Soviet Union, the gratitude of her employers beyond rectifications and rehabilitations, until the day when she breathed her last under the picture of Stalin hung on the wall of her bedroom. The Soviet Embassy in Paris took care of the funeral and her burial in the Pantin Cemetery.

Even after death, Caridad was luckier than her son. Ramón Mercader passed away three years later and was quietly buried in Moscow’s Kuntsevo Cemetery (very close to the famous dacha where Stalin cooked up and ordered the assassination of Trotsky and many, many others) under another name, kept on the tombstone until very recently: Ramon Ivanovich Lopez, an anonymous hero of the USSR, whereas Caridad del Río was buried as such after a funeral which was attended by a few relatives and several Soviet diplomats. Things eventually changed, however: now Ramon’s grave is crowned by a marble monolith bearing his real name and even his photograph where secret and nostalgic admirers of his pointless homicidal action still lay wreaths. On the other hand, Caridad’s grave conveys a pitiful sense of death and the even sadder desolation of oblivion. Worse yet: according to the disgruntled employee of Pantin Cemetery, an uncertain fate hangs over Caridad’s grave. As I was about to leave the cemetery, I remembered the man’s puzzling question, so I decided to go back to his office to try and find out why he wanted to know whether those looking for Caridad’s resting place were next of kin. The man told me, not without some reluctance, that the 30-year-long contract on the piece of land for her grave had run out on October 28, 2005 and had to be renewed within two years or else Caridad’s and her son-in-law’s remains would be exhumed and placed in an ossuary. When I inquired about who had paid for the first contract, the employee said he was sorry but he couldn’t give me that information. Nevertheless, I saw in his eyes that he knew the answer as I did: the embassy of a country now vanished, the same one for which Caridad del Río had worked and her son had kill. And much like that country, Caridad’s grave seemed doomed to disappear –perhaps it already has– because there are stories and corpses no one is willing to keep.

Free Speech Under Attack At UC Riverside

UC Riverside administration just released a set of student protest guidelines to put extreme limit on protest and curtail the freedom of speech and assembly. The repressive rules include a requirement that protest plans be reported a month ahead and approved two weeks in advance, censorship of protest flyers and posters by the administration, the presence of a UCR staff person, and restrictions on movement around the campus.

See it here: http://deanofstudents.ucr.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Policies_Procedures/protestguidelines.pdf

I hope you could help us distribute this petition. We need your support and would like to hear your voice!

The petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/say-no-to-ucr-protest-guidelines/
deanofstudents.ucr.edu

Grover Furr Responds To A Critical Review

We have run a few articles on Grover Furr's book "Khruschev Lied." Below is an article from Furr responding to a critical review of his book.

Keeran has fundamentally misunderstood my book Khrushchev Lied. This is clear from the title of his review: “Khrushchev Lied But What Is the Truth?”  Moreover, in many places he utterly distorts what I have written.


Keeran expects me not only to prove that Khrushchev lied – he concedes that I do this successfully – but, somehow, to reveal “what really happened.” He writes:


The point of studying history is to understand what happened. Disputing Khrushchev's views does not provide an alternative account of what happened. Furr admits this and says his study cannot satisfy the curiosity about "what really happened."


Keeran has misconceived the subject of my book, which is the 61 “revelations” about Stalin (and Beria) Khrushchev“revealed” in his infamous “Secret Speech” to the 20th Party Congress in 1956.

In Chapter 10 of my book in a section titled “Exposing a Lie is Not the Same as Establishing the Truth” (143-145) I state:


Analysis of Khrushchev’s prevarications suggests two related but distinct tasks. By far the easier and shorter job is to show that Khrushchev was not telling the truth. This is the subject of the present book.


I then anticipate Keeran’s objection:


The interested student will naturally want to know more than the mere fact that Khrushchev lied. Once convinced that Khrushchev’s version of reality is false, she or he will want to know the truth – what really happened.

But the present study cannot satisfy that curiosity. (143)


ALL of Keeran’s criticisms stem from his inability to understand this essential distinction.

Read more here.

Some Aspects Of The International Communist Movement---One

The 13th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties was held in Athens on 9-11 December 2011 with the theme: Socialism is the Future!

The international situation and the experience of the communists 20 years after the counterrevolution in the USSR. The tasks for the development of the class struggle in conditions of capitalist crisis, imperialist wars, of the current popular struggles and uprisings, for working class-popular rights, the strengthening of proletarian internationalism and the anti-imperialist front, for the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of socialism”


From the international declaration:

There are two paths of development:
-        the capitalist path, the path of the exploitation of the peoples which creates great dangers for imperialist wars, for workers’, people’s democratic rights
-       and the path of liberation with immense possibilities for the promotion of the interests of the workers and the peoples, for the achievement  of social justice, people’s sovereignty, peace and progress. The path of the workers’ and people’s struggles, the path of socialism and communism, which is historically necessary...

Today the conditions are ripe for the construction of wide social anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist alliances, capable of defeating the multifaceted imperialist offensive and aggression and of fighting for power and promoting deep, radical, revolutionary changes.


Working class unity, the organisation and the class orientation of the labour movement are fundamental factors in ensuring the construction of effective social alliances with the peasantry, the urban middle class strata, the women’s movement and youth movement.


In this struggle the role of the communist and workers’ parties at national, regional and international level and the strengthening of their cooperation are indispensable.  The joint coordinated activity of the Communist and Workers’ Parties, of the communist youth organizations and the anti-imperialist organizations in which the communists have an important contribution constitutes one of the most reliable elements for the expansion of the anti-imperialist struggle and the strengthening of the anti-imperialist front...
Only socialism can create the conditions for the eradication of wars, unemployment, hunger, misery, illiteracy, the uncertainty of hundreds of millions of people, the destruction of the environment. Only socialism creates the conditions for development according to the contemporary needs of the workers.

Read more here.

December 10, 2011

"How Vermont Won Health Care For All" - Salem, 12/16/11, 4-6 PM

Last June, the Vermont legislature voted to create a universal health care program, following a three-year campaign by the Vermont Workers Center (VWC).

How did they do it? At first, people told them winning health care for all wasn't politically possible. By organizing thousands of people around the idea that health care is a human right, they were able to redefine the debate and convince their legislature to take action. You can learn about their campaign by reading “Lessons From The Single-Payer State,” by VWC’s director, James Haslam.

Even better, you can learn about Vermont’s victory from the source! December 12-17, Mary Gerisch, Kate Kanelstein and Sarah Weintraub, of the Vermont Workers Center, will tour Oregon to talk about their campaign, and local folks will discuss what we can learn and apply from their experience.

People from the Salem area that are interested in establishing a Single Payer Health Care System will want to attend the following event:

Friday, Dec. 16, 4:00-6:00 pm
Salem
(Kate Kanelstein and Sarah Weintraub)
Loucks Auditorium, 585 Liberty St. SE

For more information: Orlando Lopez, Mid-Willamette JwJ, olpz89@hotmail.com

The Vermont Workers Center tour will stop in 11 Oregon cities. (Corvallis, Bend, Florance, Baker City, Ashland, LaGrande, Pendleton, Eugene, Salem, Hood River and Portland)  If you know anyone who lives near any of these cities, you may wish to pass the information about the meeting in their area on to them.

Click here for the full schedule of the Vermont Workers Center's Oregon speaking tour, Dec. 12-17, 2011


This is a great opportunity to get the ball rolling on establishing a Single Payer Health Care system in the State of Oregon.  Let's show up and learn from the people that made it happen in Vermont.

December 9, 2011

Occupy Production---Occupy And Workers' Control

From Monthly Review:

As the Occupy movement keeps developing, it seeks solutions for the economic and political dysfunctions it exposes and opposes. For many, the capitalist economic system itself is the basic problem. They want change to another system, but not to the traditional socialist alternative (e.g., USSR or China). That system too seems to require basic change.

The common solution these activists propose is to change both systems' production arrangements from the ground up. Every enterprise should be democratized. Workers should occupy their enterprise by collectively functioning as its board of directors. That would abolish the capitalist exploitative system (employer versus employee) much as our historical predecessors abolished the parallel exploitative systems of slavery (master versus slave) and feudalism (lord versus serf).

In workers' self-directed enterprises, those who do the work also design and direct it and dispose of its profits: no exploitation of workers by others. Workers participate equally in making all enterprise decisions. The old capitalist elite -- the major corporate shareholders and the boards of directors they choose -- would no longer decide what, how, and where to produce and how to use enterprise profits. Instead, workers -- in partnership with residential communities interdependent with their enterprises -- would make all those decisions democratically.

Only then could we avoid repeating yet again the capitalist cycle: (1) economic boom bursting into crisis, followed by (2) mass movements for social welfare reforms and economic regulations, followed by (3) capitalists using their profits to undo achieved reforms and regulations, followed by (1) again, the next capitalist boom, bust, and crisis. US capitalism since the crash of 1929 displays this 3-step cycle.

Read more here.

December 7, 2011

WEST COAST PORT BLOCKADES- PORTLAND- Monday, December 12, 2011

5:00am until 7:00pm
Where TBA- Portland

Description Blockade the Ports
Blockade the Wealth of the 1%

What will happen on Dec 12:
We will stage mass mobilizations to march on the ports, create community pickets, and effectively shutdown the hubs of commerce during this peak holiday profitmaking season.
...
Why the ports:
The ports represent commerce and capital. This is how the 1% create their immense wealth. It is critical to stop business as usual
for the 1%, and to disrupt their ability to make money at the expense of working people. The holiday season has been exploited by the 1% to make money off working people.This is a peak business time for the ports and the wealthiest corporations. Holidays are about family & community not wealth and exploitation. The truck driver union in Los Angeles has called for solidarity as they struggle with the LA ports.We stand in solidarity with them, and all workers fighting for democratic workplaces.

Are the unions calling a strike?
No. In this instance the unions are not able to publicly support this
blockade for fear of legal action from the 1%. However, rank and file union members, workers, and the unemployed are all part of the 99% and have consistently shown support for the Occupy Movement. Union members have the right to free speech & assembly and are leading the way for this blockade.

Get involved:

Planning meetings where you can join a working group are at SEIU Local 49: 3536 SE 26th Ave--7PM Thursday (Dec 8), and Sunday (Dec 11)
Orientation at 6:30 pm

Contact us at info@shutdowntheport.com or 5035678213
visit: shutdowntheport.com
To get text message updates, text @december12 to 23559

Occupations mobilizing on December 12th include PORTLAND, OAKLAND, SEATTLE, TACOMA, LOS ANGELES, SAN DIEGO, VANCOUVER, ANCHORAGE

The Future of the Occupy Movement by Jules Lobel

From Counterpunch:

The 1960s Civil Rights and 30s CIO trade union movements initially had much of the militancy, creativity and direct democracy now exhibited by OWS. They utilized street protests, sit-ins, factory occupations, and boycotts. SNCC and some of the radical CIO unions practiced direct, participatory democracy. Their movements changed American society and resulted in lasting, meaningful reforms – which if OWS succeeds in emulating would be a remarkable achievement.

But those movements failed to achieve many activists’ goal of an egalitarian society. Perhaps more importantly, they were unsuccessful in sustaining their creativity, dynamism, militancy and vision in some non-bureaucratic forms or institutions that could continue the long-term fight to transform an unjust society into a just one. They seized the radical moment and achieved important reforms, but failed to sustain their transformative vision. Can OWS avoid that fate over the long haul?

There is no road map or magic formula for success in that project. Indeed, OWS’s spirit of creative experimentation and of an openness to new ideas must be at the heart of any effort to move beyond what has been accomplished in the past. As Naomi Klein put it in her speech to OWS, being horizontal and deeply democratic “are compatible with the hard work of building structures and institutions that are sturdy enough to weather the storms ahead.” But what lessons have we learned to help us in the long term task?

Read more here.

Report From Venezuela

Hi all: I am finishing up a 10 day trip to Venezuela, participating in the 6th International Forum on Philosophy called State, Hegemony and Revolution. The workgroups have been working on these three topics: I Constitutive Processes and the State in America Latina: Reform, Transformation or Revolution? II Democracy, Transition to Socialism and Construction of Hegemony and III The Principle of Autonomy and Selfdetermination of Peoples against the New Imperial Order (straight translation from Spanish: probably refers to the Bush et al New World Order). I am in workshop II and it has been fascinating having discussions with Marxist-oriented philosophers from all over the world, but especially from Venezuela, about how to incorporate democracy, i.e. participatory democracy, into a revolutionary socialist process which also includes the Chavez socialist party engaged in a representative democracy electoral politics. They have created a dual power sysem called Popular Power, which allows towns and barrios to form their own social councils which can then form "communas" or economic projects which involve workers' cooperatives doing things like creating public housing, producing and distributing milk projects, and cooking gas company and construction companies (the ones I visited). All of these projects are 5 years old or less, and they all were voted money from their local social councils which gets money from the Popular Power administration at the central state level, but the social councils get to choose how to use it, with the stipulation that each new cooperative gets tokeep 70% of their income, give back 24% to the social councils for other community projects and 6% goes back the national Popular Power budget. Although this whole process is contested, because the Chavez PSUV party doesn't really have hegemony in more than 5% of the towns yet (because the mayors elected through the corrupt electoral process, usually from other liberal and right parties are usually corrupt and try to undermine the social council process), they seem to be really working and spreading. Their theory of radical change is heavily influenced by Gramsci's ideas of (counter) hegemony and the idea that they are now part of a Historical Bloc of socialist LA states (the ALBA group, including Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba,and Paraguay and Nicaragua etc) plus the more social democratic states of Argentina and Brazil. So they are creating emancipatory schools for workers and campesinos to try to create a new common sense in the Gramsci sense of the term, to give the popular sectors the critical theory to understand the various conflicts and contradictions of the political process in a partly capitalist partly socialist country in a world where the US historical bloc of imperialist countries, now including Europe uses its military force to force wars in the middle East to maintain access to oil, supports a coup in Honduras, puts sanctions on Venezuela, bombs Libya and threatens to bomb Syria.

Anyway it is fascinating how the Occupy movements (called the indignados in the Spanish speaking world, having started first in Madrid and Barcelona even before the Egyptian spring) are dovetailing with the participatory democracy experiments in Venezuela. It does suggest that even though the anarchists in the US will be suspicious (rightly so, perhaps in our context of the populism of Hugo Chavez and that kind of leadeship (which may nonetheless be necessary in the Venezuelan context given the ongoing possibility of a right wing coup supported by the US), nonetheless there is something the Northern left can learn from the experiments in the South about processes of radical democracy that hasnt forgotten to link it with socialism! Also when we try to generalize about what kind of democracy is possible we forget to be historically specific. In the US where most people are not illiterate, even though they are brainwashed, it is easy to underestimate the importance of basic education. So the workers and peasants' schools need to teach not only reading, writing and math but technical skills as well as critical thinking. A tall order, but maybe just a different order of difficulty in trying to teach critical thinking in the US where class has been so mystified and confusing. More on that later. .

Ann
--
Ann Ferguson
Professor emerita of Philosophy and Women's Studies UMass Amherst and
feminist activist

December 4, 2011

OCCUPY UC DAVIS GA RESOLUTION CALLS FOR BREAK WITH THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY


The pepper spray has cleared from the air on campus but the memory is still strong. In addition their minds have also cleared and they now focus like a laser on what is happening around the country and who is responsible for the coordinated police raids against peaceful protesters. Last week the GA resolution passed at UC Davis not only denounced the attack on Davis students but was the first of its kind and lays out a clear political perspective to counter continued attacks on protests across the country. The attack at UC Davis is part of a nation wide crackdown organized by both Democrats and Republicans and overseen by the Obama Administration. Last Wednesday police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia both controlled by Democratic Mayors, cleared out encampments.

The resolution reads in full:

We, the students of UC Davis, condemn the brutal police assault and pepper spraying of fellow students, who were peacefully protesting on November 18.

This attack is part of a nationwide—in fact global—crackdown on demonstrations against social inequality and the domination of politics by the rich. While the American government invokes “democratic rights” to justify wars abroad, it responds to social protests at home with riot police, tear gas and rubber bullets.

While Chancellor Linda Katehi is directly responsible for the police raid, she was enforcing a nationwide campaign orchestrated by the entire political establishment. Throughout the country, Democratic and Republican politicians—including the Brown and Obama administrations—are dismantling public education, cutting social services, and undermining all our basic social and democratic rights. Some of the most brutal attacks on Occupy demonstrations have been carried out by Democratic Party mayors.

The way forward is clear: No support should be given to either of the two parties! The dictates of the banks and corporations can be countered only through the independent social and political struggle of the entire working class.

We call upon students and working people all over the world to support our struggle against budget cuts. Our fight is your fight! Right now, students and workers in Greece, England and Egypt are engaged in a common struggle.

The global protests that began in 2011 must be expanded to a mass movement of students and workers to defend our rights and finally put an end to the domination by the corporations and super-rich over political and economic life.