Month: August, 2010
CPUSA Houston phone number
| August 30, 2010 | 10:21 pm | Announcements | No comments

You can contact CPUSA Houston by telephone now at (832)390-7661.

YCLUSA Houston e-mail address
| August 30, 2010 | 10:19 pm | Young Communist League | No comments

The e-mail address for the Young Communist League USA Houston is yclhouston@gmail.com

Home owners in some areas of the south owe more on their homes than they are worth
| August 30, 2010 | 10:10 pm | Economy | No comments

HOUSTON – Real estate data provider CoreLogic and the Houston Business Journal report that 12% of homes in the Houston area have mortgage values that exceed their actual value. It also indicates that another 5.9% are nearing the point at which they will be classified as “upside down.” The negative equity situation is due to foreclosures according to the report.
Mark Fleming, chief economist of CoreLogic stated, “Negative equity continues to both drive foreclosures and impede the housing market recovery. With nearly 5 million borrowers currently in severe negative equity, defaults will remain at a high level for an extended period of time.”
Similarly, the Dallas Business Journal reports that more than 14% of homes in the Dallas area are “underwater”, i.e. the mortgage value exceeds the actual value. Another 7.3% are nearing the point of being upside down.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that 28% of Georgia homeowners are upside down. Nationwide 23% of homeowners owe more than their home is worth. Nevada ranks highest in negative equity with 68%, followed by Arizona at 50%, Florida at 46%, Michigan at 38% and California at 33%.
I bought a home in Houston back in the 1980s during the Reagan deregulation frenzy and within a year of purchase I discovered that my home was worth 50% of the price I paid for it.
What does this mean for working people? For me, it represented a loss of mobility. Even though I got hired for jobs in other parts of the country, I was not free to accept those positions because I could not sell my house. I was literally stuck in a house and a job that I did not want.
People these days who find their incomes being lowered due to the current financial crisis may not be able to keep up with their mortgage payments. They do not have the option to sell their house, so that it goes into foreclosure if they cannot pay for it. As a result, the bank picks up a house for virtually nothing after receiving payments for several years. Of course, the hapless home owners who made their payments were not paying towards their equity, but were merely bilked by this get rich quick scheme for the banks.
Does swindling people out of their homes and hard earned wages meet the standards of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? It does for the banks, but not for working people. Working people need a government of the people, by the people and for the people that will step in and rectify these great injustices being perpetrated on them by financial institutions. As Woody Guthrie sang, “Some people will rob you with a handgun and some will rob you with a fountain pen.”

James Thompson

PHill1917@comcast.net

Constitution of the Young Communist League
| August 13, 2010 | 11:56 pm | Young Communist League | No comments

Preamble

The Young Communist League (YCL) is an independent mass public organization of young people in the United States. The YCL is devoted to the interests of all young people and is dedicated to the revolutionary cause of the working class of our country, the transformation of the United States through mass democratic struggle into a socialist society.

We try to develop communist, working-class political and moral convictions in our members and assist them in becoming militant fighters for the rights of the people and youth.

We teach our members to work and struggle together collectively, to reject the abuse of drugs and alcohol, to fight for the equality of all young people, against racism and discrimination.

Our task is to help our members become Communists. We learn to struggle through studying Marxism-Leninism and active participation in day to day struggles of the working people and youth for a better life.

Our League promotes social, recreational and cultural activities among young people. The promotion of working class culture and the development of recreational and social activities that advance youth unity and struggle are an essential feature of our activity.

We strive to promote youth\’s understanding that the working class is the only class capable of leading the people against big business to socialism. The YCL develops a feeling of loyalty to the working class among young people. The object of all activities of the League is to build the unity of the young generation with the working class in the struggle for peace, full employment, complete equality, trade union and democratic rights.

The Young Communist League recognizes the Communist Party, USA as the political party of the socialism in our country. We enjoy political and ideological guidance from the Communist Party. Our League works in unity and cooperation with the Communist Party for the immediate and ultimate interests of the working people and youth.

Young Communists promote the unity of young people of our country with the peoples and youth of all countries. Our League promotes working class internationalism. We are proud of our relationship with the international youth and student movement.

Young Communists want a secure and peaceful future. The Young Communist League stands with all young people in the struggle to realize their highest aspirations: to live in peace and freedom, to work and love, to create and celebrate.

Socialism will bring these aspirations to life. In a socialist US, where monopoly corporations no longer dominate the economic and political life, society\’s highest priority will be the well being of the people. Only by eliminating capitalism and the evils that grow out of it, racism, discrimination, sexism, class exploitation, poverty and war, will the rights of young people be fully guaranteed.

Socialism will guarantee every young person the right to a job, free public education, and the ability of all to reach their fullest potential. By eliminating private profit, socialism will end forever the exploitation of one human being by another.

For these reasons the Young Communist League, USA is constituted and establishes the basic rules of its organization in the following constitution.

Article I: Name

The name of this organization shall be the Young Communist League of the United States of America.

Article II: Principles of Organization

Section 1
The principle of organization of the YCL is based on what is called Democratic Centralism. Democratic-Centralism means that decisions are arrived at only after the widest possible discussion by the membership. After such discussion a decision is arrived at and all members strive to carry out the decision.

Section 2
Should any member, club, or committee of the YCL disagree with a decision, appeal may be made to the next highest body. The decision may be reopened and rediscussed. Appeal may be made to each higher body up to and including the National Convention. The decision of the Convention, which is the highest body of the YCL, is final.

Section 3
After discussion in any club, committee, or convention, decisions are to be reached by majority vote.

Section 4
Elections of leadership are by secret ballot.

Section 5
Each body of the YCL shall elect from among its members a leadership collective which shall be responsible to that body.

Section 6
Every person who wishes to be a delegate to the convention, elected to any position of leadership in the club, state committee or National Council, must be a member of the YCL in good standing.

Section 7
Each body is subordinate to the next higher body: the Club to the state committee; the National Council to the convention. Where there are conflicting decisions, the decision of the higher body shall prevail.

Section 8
The YCL shall establish a press to make its views known and it shall be the duty of the members, clubs, state and national organization to circulate and financially support the press.

Article III. Membership

Section 1
The YCL is a voluntary organization. Any young person in the United States who is at least 14 years old is welcome to become a member. Special exceptions for persons under 14 years may be made by the club or the next highest body.

Section 2
All members shall belong to a club or organizing committee or work with the next highest body where local level organizations do not exist. All members shall be encouraged to participate in activities. All members shall pay dues.

Section 3
All members should strive to carry out the aims and objectives of the YCL in the course of everyday activity. This includes both within the YCL organization and in personal life.

Article IV: Structure

Section 1
The basic unit of the YCL will be the club. There will be four kinds of clubs: neighborhood, school, workplace, and interest.

Section 2
Each club shall elect at least the following officers: coordinator, educational coordinator and treasurer. Additional positions may be added if necessary. One person may assume more than one position.

Section 3
Clubs shall organize social, cultural, sports and recreational activities for its members and beyond.

Section 4
Clubs shall set up educational programs.

Section 5
Clubs shall collect dues and initiate fundraising activities to support the YCL

Section 6
Each club shall decide on an area of concentration in which to do its work. This may be a particular neighborhood, campus, high school, workplace, or area of interest.

Section 7
The National Council and state committees may set up organizing committees for the purpose of establishing state or club organizations.

Section 8
State organizations may be established by the National Council. State organizations shall consist of all clubs and members in a particular state.

Section 9
The highest body in the state will be the state convention, to be held once every two years before the National Convention.

Section 10
The state convention will elect a state committee to carry out work between conventions.

Section 11
The state committee will meet at least twice a year.

Section 12
The state committee shall elect officers and establish committees.

Article V: National Organization

Section 1
The highest authority of the YCL is the National Convention. The National Convention shall be held every two years, or as deemed necessary by the National Council. Delegates to the National Convention shall be determined on the basis of guidelines set by the National Council. Any member wishing to be elected as a delegate to the National Convention must be a YCL member for a minimum of 3 months and in good standing.

Section 2
Prior to the National Convention, a pre-convention discussion period will be held.

Section 3
Each National Convention shall determine the numbers of members on the National Council. When considerations are made for the National Council representation of working youth, racially and nationally oppressed youth, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer youth, and young women will be guaranteed.

Section 4
Election to the National Council shall be by secret ballot.

Section 5
Vacancies in the National Council shall be filled by a majority vote of its membership.

Section 6
The National Council shall be responsible for establishing state organizations and for implementing the decisions of the National Convention. Decisions of the National Council shall apply to all members and organizations of the YCL.

Section 7
The National Council shall elect from its membership an executive committee, officers, and any other bodies it deems necessary, all of which are responsible to it.

Section 8
The National Council shall meet at least twice a year.

Section 9
The National Council shall make reports of its meetings available to the membership.

Section 10
Between conventions, the National Council is responsible for enforcing the constitution and is the highest body in the YCL.

Section 11
Organization-wide referendums are provided for the membership to be polled on major policy questions. Referendums are to initiated by majority vote of the National Council. Once a referendum is presented to the membership, a six-week discussion period will ensue. Results of the referendum are to be tallied by a committee selected by the National Council.

Article VI: Initiation Fee and Dues

Section 1
The initiation fee shall be $1.00, which is to be sent to the office of the National Council.

Section 2
The yearly dues shall be $12.00 for high school age and unemployed youth and $24.00 for all others, which is to be sent to the national office.

Article VII: Evaluation and Appeal

Section 1
The status of any member or officer of the YCL may be subject to review for action contrary to the principles on which the YCL is founded. This applies to financial irregularities, to racism and religious discrimination, discrimination against women, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and strikebreaking.

Section 2
Review of a member or officer should be made by the club or the next highest body. An evaluation committee should be established by the club or body. The committee should review the situation and make recommendations to the club.

Section 3
Any member who is to be reviewed must be so informed.

Section 4
After hearing the recommendation of the evaluation committee the club or body can make a decision by two-thirds vote on disciplinary action. Disciplinary action can consist of reprimand, educational task, suspension, or expulsion.

Section 5
All decisions are subject to review automatically by the next highest body.

Article VIII: Affiliations

Groups organized around cultural, social, sports and educational interests that wish to associate themselves and their work with the YCL may become affiliate organizations. Affiliation will be decided by majority vote of a club or state organization. The yearly affiliation fee will be determined by a vote in the club, based on whether the groups wishing to affiliate are able to pay the suggested fee of $5.00

Article IX: Amendment

This constitution may be amended by a majority vote of any regular or special National Convention, or by two-thirds vote of the National Council. This vote must be preceded by a three-month discussion period.

Article X: Authority

The Young Communist League is not responsible for any political document, policy, book, article, or any other expression of political opinion except such as are issued by the authority of the National Conventions and the regularly constituted leadership of the League.

Excerpts from the Classics: The Communists and the Communist Party
| August 13, 2010 | 4:07 pm | Readings | No comments

5. The Communists and the Communist Party

This section deals with the necessity of a special role for Communists and a Communist Party, according to Marx and Engels in ‘The Communist Manifesto’ and Lenin in ‘What Is To Be Done.’ Lenin deals with the need for a Communist Party and its essential qualities – the so-called ‘theory of the Party of the new type.’ Democratic centralism and the principles of organization are discussed by Lenin, as well as factionalism and inner Party democracy.

Georgi Dimitrov’s Report to the 7th World Congress of the CI, 1935 is then quoted in dealing with cadre – existing or potential leadership people at all levels. The section concludes with a number of quotations from Marx, Engels, and Lenin on criticism and self-criticism by the Communists. Lenin’s last quotation deals with what the Communists need to learn from the capitalists who had been granted business concessions if the revolution was to prove itself in the economic field and finally win out.

“The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement…”

Marx & Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1848, Sec.IV, p.43 of IP Ed, MESW, IP 1977, P.62

“It [Marxism] made clear the real task of a revolutionary socialist party: not to draw up plans for refashioning society, not to preach to the capitalists and their hangers-on about improving the lot of the workers, not to hatch conspiracies, but to organize the class struggle of the proletariat and to guide this struggle, the ultimate aim of which is the conquest of political power by the proletariat and the organization of a socialist society…”

Lenin, Our Programme, Oct. 1899, CW, Vol.4, p.210-11 Lenin, What Is To Be Done? Feb. 1902 (Excerpts)

“There are no people – yet there is a mass of people. There is a mass of people because the working class and increasingly varied social strata, year after year, produce from their ranks an increasing number of discontented people who desire to protest, who are ready to render all the assistance they can in the struggle against absolutism, the intolerableness of which, though not yet recognized by all, is more and more acutely sensed by increasing masses of the people. At the same time, we have no people, because we have no leaders, no political leaders, no talented organizers capable of arranging extensive and at the same time uniform and harmonious work that would employ all forces, even the most inconsiderable.

IP, p.25; CW, Vol.5, p.468)

“‘We have said that there could not have been Social-Democratic consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade-union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labor legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals…In the very same way, in Russia, the theoretical doctrine of Social- Democracy arose altogether independently of the spontaneous growth of the working-class movement; it arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of thought among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia….Hence, we had both the spontaneous awakening of the working masses, their awakening to conscious life and conscious struggle, and a revolutionary youth, armed with Social-Democratic theory and straining towards the workers.

IP, p.31-32; CW, Vol.5, p.375)

“This does not mean, of course, that the workers have no part in creating such an ideology. They take part, however, not as workers, but as socialist theoreticians, as Proudhons and Weitlings; in other words, they take part only when they are able, and to the extent that they are able, more or less, to acquire the knowledge of their age and develop that knowledge. But in order that workingmen may succeed in this more often, every effort must be made to raise the level of the consciousness of the workers in general..

(IP, p.40; CW, Vol.5, p.384)

“It is often said that the working class spontaneously gravitates towards socialism. This is perfectly true in the sense that socialist theory reveals the causes of the misery of the working class more profoundly and more correctly than any other theory, and for that reason the workers are able to assimilate it so easily, provided, however, this theory does not itself yield to spontaneity, provided it subordinates spontaneity to itself…The working class spontaneously gravitates towards socialism; nevertheless, most widespread (and continuously and diversely revived) bourgeois ideology spontaneously imposes itself upon the working class to a still greater extent.

(IP, p.42; CW, Vol.5, p.386)

“Revolutionary Social-Democracy has always included the struggle for reforms as part of its activities. But it utilizes ‘economic’ agitation for the purpose of presenting to the government, not only demands for all sorts of measures, but also (and primarily)) the demand that it cease to be an autocratic government. Moreover,it considers it its duty to present this demand to the government on the basis, not of the economic struggle alone, but of all manifestations in general of public and political life. In a word, it subordinates the struggle for reforms, as the part to the whole, to the revolutionary struggle for freedom and for socialism. Martynov, however, resuscitates the theory of stages in a new form and strives to prescribe, as it were, an exclusively economic path of development for the political struggle.

IP, p.62; CW, Vol.5, p.405)

“Working-class consciousness cannot be genuine political consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence, and abuse, no matter what class is affected – unless they are trained, moreover, to respond from a Social-Democratic point of view and no other. The consciousness of the working masses cannot be genuine class- consciousness, unless the workers learn, from concrete, and above all from topical, political facts and events to observe every other social class in all the manifestations of its intellectual, ethical, and political life; unless they learn to apply in practice the materialist analysis and the materialist estimate of all aspects of the life and activity of all classes, strata, and groups of the population. Those who concentrate the attention, observation, and consciousness of the working class exclusively, or even mainly, upon itself alone are not Social-Democrats; for the self-knowledge of the working class is indissolubly bound up, not solely with a fully clear theoretical understanding or rather, not so much with the theoretical, as with the practical, understanding – of the relationships between all the various classes of modern society, acquired through the experience of political life. For this reason the conception of the economic struggle as the most widely applicable means of drawing the masses into the political movement, which our Economists preach, is so extremely harmful and reactionary in its practical significance. In order to become a Social-Democrat, the worker must have a clear picture in his mind of the economic nature and the social and political features of the landlord and the priest, the high state official and the peasant, the student and the vagabond…

IP, p.69-70; CW, Vol.5, p.412)

“In recent years, even the enlightened workers have been ‘engaged almost exclusively in the economic struggle.’ That is the first point. On the other hand, the masses will never learn to conduct the political struggle until we help to train leaders from this struggle, both from among the enlightened workers and from among the intellectuals. Such leaders can acquire training solely by systematically evaluating all the everyday aspects of our political life, all attempts at protest and struggle on the part of the various classes and on various grounds. Therefore, to talk of ‘rearing political organizations’ and at the same time to contrast the ‘paper work’ of a political newspaper to ‘live political work in the localities’ is plainly ridiculous.

IP, p.157; CW, Vol.5, p.500)

“And the revolution itself must not by any means be regarded as a single act…, but a series of more or less powerful outbreaks rapidly alternating with periods of more or less complete calm. For that reason, the principal content of the activity of our Party organization, the focus of this activity, should be work that is both possible and essential in the period of a most powerful outbreak as well as in the period of complete calm, namely, work, of political agitation, connected throughout Russia, illuminating all aspects of life, and conducted among the broadest possible strata of the masses. But this work is unthinkable in present-day Russia without an All-Russian newspaper, issued very frequently. The organization, which will form around this newspaper, the organization of its collaborators (in the broad sense of the word, i.e., all those working for it), will be ready for everything, from upholding the honor, the prestige, and the continuity of the Party in periods of acute revolutionary ‘depression’ to preparing for, appointing the time for, and carrying out the nation-wide armed uprising.”

IP, p.172; CW, Vol. 5, p.514) Lenin, What Is To Be Done? Feb. 1902, IP, pp.25-172, ,CW, Vol.5, pp.375-514

“In its struggle for power, the proletariat has no other weapon but organization… the proletariat can, and inevitably will, become an invincible force only when its ideological unification by the principles of Marxism is consolidated by the material unity of an organization welding millions of toilers into an army of the working class. Neither the decrepit role of Russian tsarism, nor the ageing rule of international capital will be able to withstand this army.”

Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, 1904, CW, Vol.7, p.383

“We see in the independent, uncompromisingly Marxist party of the revolutionary proletariat the sole pledge of socialism’s victory and the road to victory that is most free from vacillations.”

Lenin, A Militant Agreement for the Uprising, Feb. 21, 1905, CW, Vol.8, p.159

“The wider the new streams of the social movement become the greater becomes the importance of a strong Social Democratic organization capable of creating new channels for these streams. The more the democratic propaganda and agitation conducted independently of us works to our advantage, the greater becomes the importance of an organized Social-Democratic leadership to safeguard the independence of the working class from the bourgeois democrats.”

Lenin, New Tasks & New Forces, March 8, 1905, CW, Vol.8, p.216

“Parties belonging to the Communist International must be organized on the principle of democratic centralism. In this period of acute civil war, the Communist parties, can perform their duty only if they are organized in a most centralized manner, are marked by an iron discipline bordering on military discipline, and have strong and authoritative party centres invested with wide powers and enjoying the unanimous confidence of the membership.”

Lenin, Theses for the 2nd Congress of the Communist International, June 1920, CW, Vol..31, pp.209-10
Lenin, Preliminary Draft Resolution of the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P. on Party Unity, March 1921 (Excerpts)

“1. The Congress calls the attention of all members of the Party to the fact that the unity and cohesion of the ranks of the Party, the guarantee of complete mutual confidence among Party members and genuine team-work that really embodies the unanimity of will of the vanguard of the proletariat, are particularly essential at the present time, when a number of circumstances are increasing the vacillation among the petty-bourgeois population of the country.”

2. Notwithstanding this, even before the general Party discussion on the trade unions, certain signs of factionalism had been apparent in the Party – the formation of groups with separate platforms, striving to a certain degree to segregate and create their own group discipline… “All class-conscious workers must clearly realize that factionalism of any kind is harmful and impermissible, for no matter how members of individual groups may desire to safeguard Party unity, factionalism in practice inevitably leads to the weakening of team- work and to intensified and repeated attempts by the enemies of the governing Party, who have wormed their way into it, to widen the cleavage and to use it for counter-revolutionary purposes…

“3. In this question, propaganda should consist, on the one hand, in a comprehensive explanation of the harmfulness and danger of factionalism from the standpoint of Party unity and of achieving unanimity of will among the vanguard of the proletariat as the fundamental condition for the success of the dictatorship of the proletariat; and, on the other hand, in an explanation of the peculiar features of the latest tactical devices of the enemies of the Soviet power…

“6. In the practical struggle against factionalism, every organization of the Party must take strict measures to prevent all factional actions. Criticism of the Party’s shortcomings, which is absolutely necessary, must be conducted in such a way that every practical proposal shall be submitted immediately, without any delay, in the most precise form possible, for consideration and decision to the leading local and central bodies of the Party. Moreover, every critic must see to it that the form of his criticism takes account of the position of the Party, surrounded as it is by a ring of enemies, and that the content of his criticism is such that, by directly participating in Soviet and Party work, he can test the rectification of the errors of the Party or of individual Party members in practice. Analyses of the Party’s general line, estimates of its practical experience, check-ups of the fulfilment of its decisions, studies of methods of rectifying errors, etc. must under no circumstances be submitted for preliminary discussion to groups formed on the basis of ‘platforms’, etc., but must in all cases be submitted for discussion directly to all the members of the Party. For this purpose, the Congress orders a more regular publication of Diskussionny Listok and special symposiums to promote unceasing efforts to ensure that criticism shall be concentrated on essentials and shall not assume a form capable of assisting the class enemies of the proletariat.

“5. Rejecting in principle the deviation towards syndicalism and anarchism, which is examined in a special resolution, and instructing the Central Committee to secure the complete elimination of all factionalism, the Congress at the same time declares that every practical proposal concerning questions to which the so-called Workers’ Opposition group, for example, has devoted special attention, such as purging the Party of non- proletarian and unreliable elements, combating bureaucratic practices, developing democracy and workers’ initiative, etc., must be examined with the greatest care and tested in practice. The Party must know that we have not taken all the necessary measures in regard to these questions because of various obstacles, but that, while ruthlessly rejecting impractical and factional pseudo- criticism, the Party will unceasingly continue – trying out new methods – to fight with all the means at its disposal against the evils of bureaucracy, for the extension of democracy and initiative, for detecting, exposing and expelling from the Party elements that have wormed their way into its ranks, etc.

“7. In order to ensure strict discipline within the Party and in all Soviet work and to secure the maximum unanimity in eliminating all factionalism, the Congress authorizes the Central Committee, in cases of breach of discipline or of a revival or toleration of factionalism, to apply all Party penalties, including expulsion, and in regard to members of the Central Committee, reduction to the status of alternate members and, as an extreme measure, expulsion from the Party. A necessary condition for the application of such an extreme measure to members of the Central Committee, alternate members.. and members of the Control Commission is the convocation of a Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee, to which all alternate members… and all members of the Control Commission shall be invited. If such a general assembly of the most responsible leaders of the Party deems it necessary by a two-thirds majority to reduce a member of the Central Committee to the status of alternate member or to expel him from the Party, this measure shall be put into effect immediately.”

Lenin, Preliminary Draft Resolution of the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P. on Party Unity, March 1921, CW, Vol.32, p.241-244 Dimitrov, George, “United Front Against Fascism”, Speech in Reply to Discussion, 7th World Congress, Communist International, 1935 (Excerpts)

Cadres

“…The problem of what shall be the correct policy with regard to cadres is a very serious one for our Parties, as well as for the Young Communist Leagues and for all other mass organizations – for the entire revolutionary labor movement.

“What does a correct policy with regard to cadres imply? “First, knowing one’s people. As a rule there is no systematic study of cadres in our Parties… The experience of these Parties has shown that as soon as they began to study their people, Party workers were discovered who had remained unnoticed before. On the other hand, the Parties began to be purged of alien elements who were ideologically and politically harmful…

“Second, proper promotion of cadres. Promotion should not be something casual but one of the normal functions of the Party. It is bad when promotion is made exclusively on the basis of narrow Party considerations, without regard to whether the Communist promoted has contact with the masses or not. Promotion should take place on the basis of the ability of the various Party workers to discharge particular functions, and of their popularity among the masses…

“…in the majority of cases promotions are made in an unorganized and haphazard manner, and therefore are not always fortunate. Sometimes moralizers, phrasemongers and chatterboxes who actually harm the cause are promoted to leading positions.

Third, the ability to use people to the best advantage. We must be able to ascertain and utilize the valuable qualities of every single active member. There are no ideal people; we must take them as they are and correct their weaknesses and shortcomings. We know of glaring examples in our Parties of the wrong utilization of good, honest Communists who might have been very useful had they been given work that they were better fit to do.

“Fourth, proper distribution of cadres. First of all, we must see to it that the main links of the movement are in the charge of strong people who have contacts with the masses, have sprung from the very depths of the masses, who have initiative and are staunch. The more important districts should have an appropriate number of such activists. In capitalist countries it is not an easy matter to transfer cadres from one place to another. Such a task encounters a number of obstacles and difficulties, including lack of funds, family considerations, etc., difficulties which must be taken into account and properly overcome. But usually we neglect to do this altogether.

“Fifth, systematic assistance to cadres. This assistance should take the form of careful instruction, comradely control, rectification of shortcomings and mistakes and concrete, everyday guidance.

“Sixth, proper care for the preservation of cadres. We must learn promptly to withdraw Party workers to the rear whenever circumstances so require, and replace them by others. We must demand that the Party leadership, particularly in countries where the Parties are illegal, assume paramount responsibility for the preservation of cadres…

“Only a correct policy in regard to cadres will enable our Parties to develop and utilize all available forces to the utmost, and obtain from the enormous reservoir of the mass movement ever fresh reinforcements of new and better active workers.

“What should be our main criteria in selecting cadres? First, absolute devotion to the cause of the working class, loyalty to the Party, tested in face of the enemy – in battle, in prison, in court.

“Second, the closest possible contact with the masses. The comrades concerned must be wholly absorbed in the interests of the masses, feel the life pulse of the masses, know their sentiments and requirements. The prestige of the leaders of our Party organization should be based, first of all, on the fact that the masses regard them as their leaders, and are convinced through their own experience of their ability as leaders, and of their determination and self-sacrifice in struggle.

“Third, ability independently to find one’s bearings and not to be afraid of assuming responsibility in taking decisions…Cadres develop and grow best when they are placed in the position of having to solve concrete problems of the struggle independently, and are aware that they are fully responsible for their decisions. “Fourth, discipline and Bolshevik hardening in the struggle against the class enemy as well as in their irreconcilable opposition to all deviations from the Bolshevik line.

“We must place all the more emphasis on these conditions which determine the correct selection of cadres, because in practice preference is very often given to a comrade who, for example, may be able to write well and be a good speaker but is not a man or woman of action, is not as suited for the struggle as some other comrade who perhaps may not be able to write or speak so well, but is a staunch comrade, possessing initiative and contacts with the masses, and is capable of going into battle and leading others into battle. Have there not been ever so many cases of sectarians, doctrinaires or moralizers crowding out loyal mass workers, genuine working-class leaders?

“Our leading cadres should combine the knowledge of what they must do – with Bolshevik stamina, revolutionary strength of character and the will power to carry it through.”

Dimitrov, George, “United Front Against Fascism”, New Century 1950, pp.119-123, Speech in Reply to Discussion, 7th World Congress, Communist International, 1935

“Working class revolutions … criticize themselves, constantly, interrupt themselves continually in their course, come back to the apparently accomplished in order to begin afresh, deride with merciless thoroughness the inadequacies, weaknesses, and meagerness of their first attempts.”

Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 1852, p.17, IP Ed, MESW, P.100; MECW, Vol.11, p.106-07

“If, then, we have been beaten, we have nothing else to do but to begin again from the beginning. And, fortunately, the probably very short interval of rest which is allowed us between the close of the first and the beginning of the second act of the movement, gives us time for a very necessary piece of work: the study of the causes that necessitated both the late outbreak, and its defeat; causes that are not to be sought for in the accidental efforts, talents, faults, errors or treacheries of some of the leaders, but in the general social state and conditions of existence of each of the convulsed nations.. That the sudden movements of February and March, 1848, were not the work of single individuals, but spontaneous, irresistible manifestations of national wants and necessities, more or less clearly understood, but very distinctly felt by numerous classes in every country, is a fact recognized everywhere; but when you inquire into the causes of the counter- revolutionary successes, there you are met on every hand with the ready reply that it was Mr. This or Citizen That, who ‘betrayed’ the people. Which reply may be very true, or not, according to circumstances, but under no circumstances does it explain anything – not even show how it came to pass that the ‘people’ allowed themselves to be thus betrayed. And what a poor chance stands a political party whose entire stock-in-trade consists in a knowledge of the solitary fact, that Citizen So-and-so is not to be trusted…All these petty personal quarrels and recriminations – all these contradictory assertions, that it was Marrast, or Ledru- Rollin, or Louis Blanc, or any other member of the Provisional Government, or the whole of them, that steered the revolution amidst the rocks upon which it foundered…No man in his senses will ever believe that eleven men, mostly of very indifferent capacity, either for good or evil, were able in three months to ruin a nation of thirty-six millions, unless those thirty-six millions saw as little of their way before them as the eleven did.”

Engels, Revolution & Counter-Revolution in Germany,1852, MECW, Vol.11, p.6

“The attitude of a political party towards its own mistakes, is one of the surest tests of its seriousness, and of its ability to fulfill its duties towards its class and towards the laboring masses. Frank admission of an error, discovery of its causes, analysis of the situation in which it occurred, careful study of the ways by which the mistake can be remedied – these are the signs whereby a serious party can be recognized. That is fulfillment of duty. That is the education of the class and of the masses.”

Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism – An Infantile Disorder, 1920, CW, Vol. 31, p.57

“The proletariat is not afraid to admit this or that thing has succeeded splendidly in its revolution, and this or that has not succeeded. All revolutionary parties which have hitherto perished, did so because they grew conceited, failed to see where their strength lay, and feared to speak of their weaknesses. But we shall not perish, for we do not fear to speak of our weaknesses and shall learn to overcome them.”

Lenin, Reply to Discussion of Political Report to 11th Party Congress, March 28, 1922, CW, Vol.33, p.311

“We must realize that the fight against bureaucracy is an absolutely essential one, and that it is just as complicated as the fight against the petty bourgeois element. Bureaucracy in our state system has become a malady of such gravity that it is spoken of in our Party programme, and that is because it is connected with this petty bourgeois element and their wide dispersion.”

Lenin Report on Political Activity of the CC, RCP (B) at the 10th Congress, March 8, 1921, CW, Vol.32, p.191

“Communists are in duty bound, not to gloss over short-comings in their movement, but to criticize them openly so as to remedy them the more speedily and radically. For this purpose it is necessary: first, to define as concretely as possible, particularly on the basis of the practical experience already acquired, the content of the concepts “dictatorship of the proletariat” and “Soviet power”; second, to specify the precise content of the immediate and systematic preparatory work to be carried on in all countries so as to give effect to these slogans; and third, to specify the methods and means of rectifying the faults in our movement.”

Lenin, Theses on the Fundamental Tasks of the Second Congress of the Communist International, July 4, 1920, CW, Vol.31, p.185

“When you hear such criticism, criticism without any content, criticism for the sake of criticism, be on your guard; make inquiry to find out whether the criticizing comrade’s vanity has not been injured in some way; perhaps he has been offended or is irritated, which drives him towards groundless opposition, opposition for its own sake.”

Lenin, Concluding Remarks to General Meeting of Communists of Zamoskvorechye District, Moscow, Nov.29, 1920, CW, Vol.31, 436

“…But now that ordinary Russian and foreign capitalists are joining the Communists in forming mixed companies, we say ‘We can do things after all; bad as it is, meager as it is, we have got something for a start.’…Of course, they will cheat us in these companies, cheat us so that it will take several years before matters are straightened out. But that does not matter. I do not say that that is victory; it is a reconnaissance, which shows that we have an arena, we have a terrain, and can now stop the retreat….The retreat has come to an end; it is now a matter of regrouping our forces….The principal methods of operation, of how we are to work with the capitalists, are outlined. We have examples, even if an insignificant number. Stop philosophizing and arguing about NEP [the New Economic Policy – DR]… Show by your practical efforts that you can work no less efficiently than the capitalists. The capitalists create an economic link with the peasants in order to amass wealth; you must create a link with peasant economy in order to strengthen the economic power of the proletarian state….Cast off the tinsel, the festive communist garments, learn a simple thing simply, and we shall beat the private capitalist. We possess political power; we possess a host of economic weapons. If we beat capitalism and create a link with peasant farming we shall become an absolutely invincible power. Then the building of socialism will not be the task of that drop in the ocean, called the Communist Party, but the task of the entire mass of the working people. Then the rank-and-file peasants will see that we are helping them and they will follow our lead. Consequently, even if the pace is a hundred times slower,it will be a million times more certain and more sure.”

Lenin, Political Report of the Central Committee of the RCP (B) to 11th Congress, March 27, 1922, CW, Vol.33, pp.284-285

* * *

Reproduction of this booklet has been paid for by the Committees of Correspondence Education Fund, Rm. 506, 11 John St., New York, NY, 10038.

Top US Intellectuals and Progressive Organizations Call on New Colombian President to Foster Peace
| August 10, 2010 | 1:02 pm | Latin America | No comments

Over 120 US intellectuals, progressive organizations and activists urged incoming President Juan Manuel Santos to establish “a constructive regional dialogue around the internal conflict in Colombia and its impact on neighboring countries” in a letter which will be delivered to him on August 7, 2010, the day of his inauguration.

Copies of the letter are being delivered to former Argentina President Nestor Kirchner, Kirchner heads the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which is assisting in mediating the crisis in relations between Colombia and Venezuela caused by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in his last weeks in office. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will receive the letter on the same day.

Chuck Kaufman, one of the authors of the letter said, “The crisis between Colombia and Venezuela is a manufactured crisis by out-going President Alvaro Uribe aimed at tying the hands of his successor. President Santos has the opportunity to foster peace with Colombia’s neighbors and also to negotiate an end to his country’s 60 year old civil war, if he has the will to do so.” Kaufman is national co-coordinator of the Alliance for Global Justice, a US Latin America solidarity organization.

The letter, signed by well-known intellectuals such as MIT’s Noam Chomsky and Princeton’s Cornel West urges Santos “to open a new chapter in Colombian history, its relationship with its citizens, and with its neighbors.”

The letter goes on to decry the human rights and foreign policy record of Santos’ predecessor, Uribe. Colombia has the second highest number of internally displaced refugees in the world, and leads the world in the murder of union organizers. The letter notes that Uribe’s “decision in 2009 to sign an agreement with the United States that greatly enhances the US military presence in Colombia, has led to further tensions with countries throughout South America that are historically wary of any form of US military buildup in the region.”

The letter was critical of Uribe’s policy of “increased militarization that has claimed an enormous human and material toll, especially for Colombia’s Afro descendant and indigenous communities.” It also criticized Colombia’s presentation in July to the OAS of unsubstantiated “evidence” that Venezuela is supporting Colombian guerrillas.

The letter ended by urging Santos that, “Hope for real change in Colombia lies on the horizon. We strongly urge the new Colombian administration to foster improved dialogue, and a negotiated peace, within Colombia as well as with neighboring countries as Colombians move forward in constructing a more peaceful and democratic nation. Nothing less is owed to the thousands of Colombians who have been victims of this bloody conflict or who have been displaced or exiled in foreign lands for more than half a century.”

-30-

President Juan Manuel Santos

Casa Nariño

Carrera 8 No.6-26;

Edificio Administrativo: Calle 7 No.6-54

Bogota, Colombia

August 7, 2010

Dear President Santos,

We, the undersigned, wish to express our strong support for progress in the establishment of a constructive regional dialogue around the internal conflict in Colombia and its impact on neighboring countries. We consider this dialogue – based on mutual trust and respect – to be essential to the construction of a lasting peace in Colombia and to regional stability.

Civil society organizations in the United States and in Latin America, as well as regional bodies including the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), have worked tirelessly to open doors for dialogue and seek a more comprehensive approach to Colombia’s bloody 60 year old civil war. Unfortunately, Colombia, under the Uribe government, focused instead on a policy of increased militarization that has claimed an enormous human and material toll, especially for Colombia’s Afro descendant and indigenous communities. We urge you, as president, to open a new chapter in Colombian history, its relationship with its citizens, and with its neighbors.

The Uribe administration left behind it a dismal human rights record that is the direct product of the so-called democratic security policy first implemented in 2003. Along with over 20,000 deaths of combatants, thousands of civilian non-combatants have been killed according to human rights groups. Over 2,000 extrajudicial killings allegedly perpetrated by Colombia’s armed forces are currently under investigation by the country’s Prosecutor-General. Meanwhile, the number of internally displaced in Colombia has reached the millions and hundreds of thousands of Colombians have sought exile in neighboring countries.

Former President Uribe also has left a sad record in the foreign policy realm given the troubling actions his government has taken in the regional arena and his refusal to consult affected countries before taking these actions. His government’s decision in 2008 to invade and bomb Ecuadoran territory without any regard for that country’s sovereignty led to a regional crisis that continues to have repercussions to this day. His decision in 2009 to sign an agreement with the United States that greatly enhances the US military presence in Colombia, has led to further tensions with countries throughout South America that are historically wary of any form of US military buildup in the region.

In the final days of his government, President Uribe once again chose to provoke a neighbor – in this case Venezuela – rather than engage in much needed dialogue. With his government’s decision to make unsubstantiated accusations before the OAS against the Chavez government at a crucial moment of transition that should offer a unique opportunity for putting relations with Venezuela on a new path, Uribe once again demonstrated his preference for conflict over dialogue.

Yet we wish nonetheless to express our hope that Colombia’s internal situation and external relations can and will improve. President Santos, you undoubtedly bear a share of the responsibility for the security policies implemented by Uribe, given that you were Colombia’s defense minister from 2006 to 2009. However, your pre-inaugural statements suggest that you may be willing to turn a new page, to begin writing a new chapter. It is our hope, both for Colombia and for the future stability of the region, that now that you are in office you will seek to significantly revise the harmful security policies put in place by former President Uribe and to work in earnest to rebuild relations with the rest of the region.

Hope for real change in Colombia lies on the horizon. We strongly urge the new Colombian administration to foster improved dialogue, and a negotiated peace, within Colombia as well as with neighboring countries as Colombians move forward in constructing a more peaceful and democratic nation. Nothing less is owed to the thousands of Colombians who have been victims of this bloody conflict or who have been displaced or exiled in foreign lands for more than half a century.

Sincerely,

Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Founder, SOA Watch

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor emeritus, MIT

Cornel West, Princeton University

Marjorie Cohn, Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and Deputy Secretary

General of International Association of Democratic Lawyers

Daniel Kovalik, Senior Associate General Counsel, United Steelworkers, AFL-CIO

Tom Hayden, Peace and Justice Resource Center, Culver City, CA

Bill Fletcher, Jr., BlackCommentator.com*

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic Policy Research

Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice

Antonio Gonzalez, President, William C. Velasquez Institute

Katherine Hoyt, Ph.D., National Co-Coordinator, Nicaragua Network

James Jordan, National Coordinator, Campaign for Labor Rights

Alfred L. Marder President, US Peace Council

Yifat Susskind, Policy & Communications Director, MADRE

Tom Burke, Colombia Action Network

John I. Laun, President Colombia Support Network

Cecilia Zarate- Laun , Co-founder Colombia Support Network

Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director, OFFICE OF THE AMERICAS

Dale Sorensen Director, Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas

Urszula Masny-Latos, National Lawyers Guild, Massachusetts Chapter

Judy Somberg, Attorney, Cambridge, MA, National Lawyers Guild*

Gregory Wilpert, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation*, New York, NY

Tim Jeffries, Bend-Condega Friendship Project*

Erin Cox, 8th Day Center for Justice, Chicago, IL

Barbara Larcom, Casa Baltimore/Limay

Dave Schott, Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans for Peace

Diana Bohn, Co-Coordinator, Nicaragua Center for Community Action (NICCA),

Berkeley, CA

Gunnar and Xiomara Gundersen, Oregon Bolivarian Circle

Lee Siu Hin, National Coordinator, National Immigrant Solidarity Network

Joan W. Drake, Womens Int’l League for Peace and Freedom-Washington, DC

Francis J Skeith, Pax Christi Texas

Edward L. Osowski, St. Francis Xavier church, La Grange, IL, Peace Justice Committee*

Lucia Solano, PetroBronx, Bronx, NY

Stephen V. Kobasa, Colombia Action/CT

Viviana Arrieta, Students for a Democratic Society, Wilbur Wright College, Chicago, IL

Deborah McCullough, The Tucson Samaritans, Tucson, AZ

Polly Mann, Board Member, Women Against Military Madness, Minneapolis, MN

Ana Zambrano, Director, Colombia Vive

Babette Grunow, Latin America Solidarity Committee Milwaukee, WI

Megan Hise- Global Justice Coordinator, Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, OR

Andy Klatt, Colombia Vive, Boston, MA

Roberta Frye, Librarians Guild, AFSCME 2626*

Immanuel Ness, Brooklyn College, City University of New York

Adrienne Pine, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, American University

Héctor Perla Jr., Assistant Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies, University of

California, Santa Cruz

Dr. T.M. Scruggs, Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa

James J. Brittain, Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Acadia Univ., Nova Scotia, Canada

Marcos Mendoza, Solidarity and International Socialist Organisation, Cincinnati, OH

Colectivo Compañeros y amigos de Manuel Colom, Guatemala

Arnold Matlin, M.D., Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA)*

Michael Cipoletti, Int’l Programs Director Friends of Students for 60,000 Boston, MA

Peter Bohmer, faculty, The Evergreen State College

John E. Coleman, Professor Emeritus of Classics, Cornell University

Katherine Borland, Associate Professor, Comparative Studies in the Humanities,

The Ohio State University Newark

Roger D. Harris, Task Force on the Americas*

William S. Stewart, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, California State Univ., Chico

David A. Smith, Professor of Sociology, UC-Irvine

Julie Levine, Topanga Peace Alliance (TPA)

Maureen Shea, Associate Professor of Spanish, Tulane University

Jaymie Lujan-Exley Peat, Witness For Peace Northwest Board Member

Rev. Ann Marie Coleman, Chicago, IL

Chris Benson, Loves Park, IL

Colleen Rose, Novato, CA

Debra Evenson, Attorney

Ann Legg, Woodstock, Illinois

Robert Roth, Eugene, Oregon

George Pauk MD, Washington DC

Kenneth Trauger, United Church of Christ retired clergy, Lancaster, PA

Bruce A. Millies, Bainbridge Island, WA

Arnold August, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Ellen E Barfield, Baltimore, MD

Michael Adler, Gainesville, FL

Cindy Forster, Scripps College

Michael Brennan, San Antonio, TX

Gloria E. Quiñones, El Barrio, NY

Chris Ford, Esq., Los Angeles, CA

Katie Sue Campbell, Asheville, NC

L. Kent Bendall, Meriden, CT

Frederick Royce, Gainesville, FL

Rev. Anne Sayre, Decatur, GA

David Atwood, Houston, TX

Catherine Madden, Detroit, MI

Adam Bristow, Alexandria, VA

Hannah Frisch, Chicago, IL

Laura Valdes, New Paltz, NY

Ed Chiera, Oakland, CA

Karen Leu, Little Rock, AR

Orlando Acevedo, Laredo, TX

Lina Rodriguez, Brentwood, NY

Glenn Gill, Tor C, NM

Charles Van Wey, Seattle, WA

Rachel Deierling, Tucson, AZ

Walter Tillow, Louisville, KY

Victoria J. Furio, Yonkers, NY

Rev. Maurice Restivo, CSB, Angleton, TX

David A. Davis, Overland Park. KS

Luis Cardona Betancourt, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Islas Canarias, España

Terry Adcock, Austin, Texas- Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Colombia, 1961-63)

Yehuda Maayan, Los Angeles, CA

Scott M. Woods Ph.D., Chandler, AZ

Greg Merrick, San Diego, CA

Victor Coronado, Perth Amboy, NJ

Mauna W. Richardson, La Madera, NM

Jorge Arauz, Philadelphia PA

Paula Ewers, Dayton, Ohio

Buddy Bell, Chicago, IL

Mark M Giese, Racine, WI

Patrick Bonner, South Gate, CA

PM, Quito, Ecuador

Jerry J. Wharton, Tucson, AZ

Lois T. Putzier, Tucson, AZ

Dr. Anabella Bustillos de Hoppe, Seminole, FL

Luis Hernandez, Los Angeles, CA

Rev. Jerry Folk, Madison, WI

Roberta Thurstin, Park Falls, WI

Richard Henighan, Seymour, TN

Joyce Smith, Tucson, AZ

Steven K. Smith, Attorney, Winchester, VA

Douglas C. Smyth, Staatsburg, NY

Richa, Grand Rapids, MI

Luanne Miller, Friendswood, TX

Enzo Bard, Baldwin, NY

Norma J F Harrison, Berkeley, CA

Luci Murphy, Washington, DC

Barbara Zilles, Iowa City, IA

James T. Dette, Weehawken, NJ

Evelyn M. Dette, Weehawken, NJ

Vanessa Pastrana, Bronx, NY

Bradley Boyles SGT US Army (Ret.), Laramie, WY

* For identification only

cc: UNASUR President Nestor Kirchner

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

All Out For October 2 to Demand Jobs For All!
| August 10, 2010 | 1:00 pm | Economy | No comments

ALL OUT FOR OCTOBER 2 TO DEMAND JOBS FOR ALL!

Organized labor is on the move, and here is its rallying cry:

“Working people can make a difference when we rely on ourselves and act collectively. We are America. And together we can make our voices heard.”

With this summons to the workers of America, the AFL-CIO just announced that it is joining and building the October 2, 2010 Washington, D.C. demonstration, initiated by SEIU 1199 and the NAACP, to demand — above all — jobs. Thus far, 170 progressive organizations have come together to form a coalition, called One Nation, to promote this event.

Introducing this One Nation coalition, the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO offered this description:

“ONE NATION is a multi-racial, civil and human rights movement whose mission is to reorder our nation’s priorities to invest in our nation’s most valuable resource — our people. The organizations that have come together to form ONE NATION believe that our goal should be a future of shared prosperity, not stubborn unemployment and a lost generation. Workers should be able to share in the wealth they create, and everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve the American Dream — a secure job; the chance for our children to get a great public education and the opportunity to make their own way in the world; and laws that protect us, not oppress us.

“ONE NATION is a long-term effort to reverse the dangerous economic course of our country over the past four decades. It brings together organizations from across the progressive spectrum — labor, civil rights, environmental, faith and many others — recognizing that none of us alone have been able to achieve our priorities, whether they are large-scale job creation, labor law reform, immigration reform, investing in public education or other concerns, and that we will not realize change until these priorities belong to all of us.”

The significance of the AFL-CIO adopting the strategic approach underlying its rallying cry, “Working people can make a difference when we rely on ourselves and act collectively,” cannot be emphasized enough. This approach points in the direction of organizing massive demonstrations in the streets, not simply sending working people to voting booths once every several years to vote for politicians who fail to keep most of their campaign promises.

While some in the labor movement routinely turn to electing Democrats to office as the purported panacea for the plight of working people, this approach is fundamentally flawed. The corporations and Wall Street have funneled billions of dollars into the campaign coffers of the Democratic Party. The oil giant, BP, gave more money to Obama than to any other politician. But these businesses have a keen eye on what they call “the bottom line.” They do not make investments unless they believe their efforts will be handsomely rewarded.

And while every politician has sworn that these campaign contributions have no bearing on their votes and that it is merely coincidental that their policy decisions concur with corporate interests, it is inconceivable that corporations would continue their campaign contributions if these investments did not yield a substantial “return.” Corporate interests are behind the stalling and diluting of the Employee Free Choice Act, the maintenance of a low minimum wage, second-class rights for undocumented workers, the reduction of Social Security benefits, lax environmental regulations, reckless gambling on Wall Street, predatory loan rates, no mercy for workers threatened with home foreclosures, and the list goes on. All these policies have prevailed in Congress, despite the Democratic Party majority.

In California, the Democratic Party recently unveiled its tax reform program. It proposed increasing personal income taxes on everyone except “the wealthiest Californians” (San Francisco Chronicle, August 4, 2010) and instead of repealing corporate tax breaks it merely opted to slightly delay them. The Democratic Party consistently gives Wall Street, the corporations, and the rich what they want. Then it throws the few remaining crumbs to working people.

If the October 2 demonstration is used as an opportunity simply to elect Democrats, workers will stay home. And if the demands of the October 2 demonstration are restricted to what is acceptable to the Democratic Party, they will inspire no one. There was much fanfare over the recent U.S. Senate approval of a state aid package. But when one reads the fine print and discovers that the total package amounts to $26 billion for the entire country, it becomes apparent that this amounts to a drop in the bucket for cash-starved states. California alone is currently faced with a $19 billion deficit.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, trumpeted that the bill “keeps hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters, policemen and other civil employees from being fired or laid off” (The New York Times, August 4, 2010), but he failed to mention the bill leaves over a million working people across the country stranded with no hope while they are being threatened with layoffs because of massive state budget deficits.

We urge our readers to help build the October 2 demonstration in Washington, D.C., but we also want to present compelling arguments to the labor movement organizing this demonstration to embrace a set of demands that truly respond to the needs of working people, not to the needs of the corporations or what the Democratic Party decides is acceptable.

These demands should include:

A MASSIVE JOB-CREATION PROGRAM
NO CUTS TO SOCIAL SECURITY

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently argued (February 19, 2010): “The best way to reduce the growing federal deficit is to create 10 million jobs now – the number of jobs needed to close our jobs deficit – not to cut vital programs such as Social Security and Medicare” (). This number should be increased to at least 14.5 million to accommodate all unemployed workers.

TAX THE RICH

As Trumka noted in his address to Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission (), making Wall Street and the rich pay for a jobs program reflects a basic sense of fairness: “We believe it is only fitting to ask Wall Street to pay to rebuild the economy it helped destroy.” As for the rich, he observed: “It would also be fitting to ask the wealthiest Americans who benefited most from the failed economic policies of the past 30 years to pay their fair share for rebuilding the 21st century economy and stabilizing the national debt.” He called for a raise in their tax rate, pointing out that “effective tax rates applicable to high-income taxpayers (earning over $250,000 in 2009 dollars) reached their lowest level in at least half a century in 2008.” He argued that these measures are especially urgent, given the growing inequality in wealth that was in part responsible for the current economic crisis.

A NATIONWIDE MORATORIUM ON HOME FORECLOSURES AND EVICTIONS

Losing a job is often followed by a second disaster: home foreclosure and eviction. Given that working people had no part in creating the Great Recession with its massive destruction of jobs, we should not be required to suffer its disastrous consequences while those who caused it are awarded generous bailouts at our expense. The federal government should institute a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions.

LEGALIZATION FOR UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS NOW

As President Richard Trumka has argued (June 18, 2010; (): “The failures of our relationship with Mexico represent a failed economic strategy. They cannot be solved with guns and soldiers and fences. They must be addressed through an economic strategy for shared prosperity based on rising wages in both countries.” This means that the solution to the immigration problem is not to militarize the borders or to criminalize undocumented immigrants.

And he added as a part of his analysis of the problem: “Instead, at the heart of the failure of our immigration policy is an unpleasant fact, one that you almost never hear talked about openly: Too many U.S. employers actually like the current state of the immigration system–a system where immigrants are both plentiful and undocumented–afraid and available.” In other words, employers prefer undocumented workers because they can pay them sub-wages or not pay them at all, which happens routinely, since undocumented workers have no legal recourse to redress injustices.

Trumka proceeded to reject “the return of the outdated guest worker programs that give immigrants no security, no future here in the United States, no rights and no hope of being part of the American Dream.”

Finally, correctly noting that undocumented workers are “the people doing the hardest work for the least money” and that “we are for ending our two-tiered workforce and our two-tiered society … because an underclass of disenfranchised workers ends up hurting all workers,” Trumka concluded that “we stand for the American Dream for all who work in our country,” meaning that undocumented workers should be granted “a fair path towards legalization.”

We should make this demand stronger. Undocumented workers should be granted immediate legalization, since a “path” can take years to traverse, which would mean that none of our problems would be solved except in an unspecified, far distant future.

At its recent convention, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), the Latino wing of the AFL-CIO, passed a resolution on August 6 that included the following provision: “Our labor movement has called for basic reform of our immigration laws, and adopted a position at the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles in 1999 that demands the repeal of employer sanctions, immediate amnesty for all undocumented workers, protection of the right to organize for all workers, the strengthening of family reunification as the basis of immigration policy, and opposition to guest worker programs.”

Now is not the time to back-peddle on these important principles.

PEACE

MONEY FOR JOBS, NOT PRISONS AND WARS

The United Auto Workers and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition have joined forces and are organizing a demonstration on August 28 in Detroit on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. At the top of the list of their demands are jobs.

But they have also included enforcement of workers’ rights and civil rights in addition to “ending the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, saving lives and redirecting the war budget to rebuilding America.” And the NAACP has emphasized the importance of creating jobs, not prisons. These points should be included in the list of demands.

With a set of demands that responds directly and fully to the needs of most workers and with the conviction that “working people can make a difference when we rely on ourselves and act collectively,” the call for October 2 has the potential to strike a deep chord and inspire hundreds of thousands of working people to join the demonstration. SEIU Local 1199 President George Gresham has predicted that this demonstration will be a “massive — and we believe historic — march.”

If the demonstration has the right demands, the right orientation, and is preceded by plenty of organizing, his prediction should prove true.

In solidarity,
Bill Leumer and Alan Benjamin,
Co-Conveners,
Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign