The Latest From The Partisan Defense Committee-Free The Class-War Prisoners-Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Free Leonard Peltier, Free Lynne Stewart And Her Co-Workers-Free The Remaining Ohio 7 Prisoners!-SYC Speaker at NY Holiday Appeal-Only Workers Revolution Can End Capitalist Immiseration
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Reposted from the American Left History blog, dated December 1, 2010.
I like to think of myself as a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, an organization committed to social and political defense cases and causes in the interests of the working class and, at this time of the year, to raising funds to support the class-war prisoners’ stipend program. Normally I do not need any prompting in the matter. This year, however, in light of the addition of Attorney Lynne Stewart (yes, I know, she has been disbarred but that does not make her less of a people’s attorney in my eyes) to the stipend program, I read the 25th Anniversary Appeal article in Workers Vanguard No. 969 where I was startled to note how many of the names, organizations, and political philosophies mentioned there hark back to my own radical coming of age, and the need for class struggle defense in the late 1960s (although I may not have used that exact term at the time).
That recognition included names like black liberation fighter George Jackson, present class-war prisoner Hugo Pinell’s San Quentin Six comrade; the Black Panthers, as represented here by two of the Omaha Three (Poindexter and wa Langa), in their better days and in the days when we needed, desperately needed, to fight for their defense in places from Oakland to New Haven; the struggle, the fierce struggle, against the death penalty as represented in Mumia’s case today; the Ohio 7 and the Weather Underground who, rightly or wrongly, were committed to building a second front against American imperialism, and who most of the left, the respectable left, abandoned; and, of course, Leonard Peltier and the Native American struggles from Pine Ridge to the Southwest. It has been a long time and victories few. I could go on but you get the point.
That point also includes the hard fact that we have paid a high price, a very high price, for not winning back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when we last had this capitalist imperialist society on the ropes. Maybe it was political immaturity, maybe it was cranky theory, maybe it was elitism, hell, maybe it was just old-fashioned hubris but we let them off the hook. And have had to fight forty years of rear-guard “culture wars” since just to keep from falling further behind.
And the class-war prisoners, our class-war prisoners, have had to face their “justice” and their prisons. That lesson should be etched in the memory of every pro-working class militant today. And this, as well, as a quick glance at the news these days should make every liberation fighter realize; the difference between being on one side of that prison wall and the other is a very close thing when the bourgeois decides to pull the hammer down. The support of class-war prisoners is thus not charity, as International Labor Defense founder James P. Cannon noted back in the 1920s, but a duty of those fighters outside the walls. Today I do my duty, and gladly.
3 February 2012
SYC Speaker at NY Holiday Appeal-Only Workers Revolution Can End Capitalist Immiseration
We print below a speech, edited for publication, by Rosie Gonzalez of the New York Spartacus Youth Club. The speech was given on January 6 at the Partisan Defense Committee’s Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners in New York.
Welcome! My name is Rosie and this is my third Holiday Appeal. I joined the Spartacus Youth Club a little over a year ago, after I broke from radical-liberal activism. I came to understand the class nature of the capitalist state, the social power of the labor movement, and based on this I learned that it is simply not enough to just have good intentions and to put your body on the street. One must have a party based on a Marxist program, developed through the study of victories and defeats of the past. Now I can stand here and say: We Trotskyists of the Spartacus Youth Clubs demand the immediate freedom of all class-war prisoners and all fighters against capitalist oppression! We say they should not have spent one second in jail.
We do not rely on the capitalist injustice system to free these brave men and women. The SYCs fight against any illusions in the bourgeois state on the campuses, in demonstrations, and in the streets. We fight to win youth to the side of the working class—this is where the social power lies in the struggle for the liberation of blacks, women and all of the oppressed. We of the SYC understand that only through workers revolution will the racist horrors of American capitalism be tossed into the dustbin of history—all the fighters against oppression, the women and men that are behind bars today, tomorrow will be free.
The Spartacus Youth Clubs are the youth groups of the Trotskyist Spartacist League, the U.S. section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). We intervene into social struggles armed with a revolutionary-internationalist program. At Zuccotti Park we intervened into different demonstrations surrounding the “Occupy” movement. We did sales, gave a presentation about Marxism to a left-wing group called “Class War Camp” and we protested the police repression of the Occupiers.
We also took students and other youth with us to the Verizon strike pickets to show them some class struggle and why the defense of unions is so central. The working class has been on the defensive for years now, particularly since the capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union. At the same time, every strike is an opening for the Spartacist League to show the need to fight for class-struggle leadership.
The politics of the protesters whom we met at Occupy Wall Street ranged anywhere from open patriotism to anarchoid idealism. We found that the best way to show them the power of the revolutionary working class was to study the Russian Revolution. We encountered real interest at our class series on the Russian Revolution at City College (CCNY). We presented the lessons of this world-historic working-class victory as a counterposition to the stupefying, populist, anti-Marxist slogan of “We are the 99 percent,” which does not recognize the sharp class divisions in society and instead disguises the class nature of the capitalist state and all of its political parties. It lumps the working class together with the petty bourgeoisie and even parts of the capitalist class as well. The truth is that the problem is not the “greed” of the bankers (although there is plenty of that); the problem is the whole capitalist system itself. What is really necessary is the mobilization of the working class against the property-owning capitalist class. The working class has the social power and the historic interest to overthrow the whole capitalist profit system and lay the basis for a socialist society free from exploitation and oppression.
The Russian Revolution showed us how the Bolsheviks led the workers, organized in soviets, to power and threw off the chains of oppressive imperial Russia. The working class took state power and got rid of the capitalist profit system altogether. This is our model—for new October Revolutions worldwide!
This sets us apart from so-called socialists like Workers World Party and the International Socialist Organization (ISO) who are lapping up the liberal politics of the Occupy movement. Workers World called the Occupy protests a “fledgling revolution” and the ISO recently stated that they had “fundamentally shifted the political landscape in the U.S.” Tell that to workers like the militant ILWU pickets in Longview, Washington, who were attacked by the cops last year. That’s the political landscape! So the question is why would these self-proclaimed socialist organizations be uncritically hailing a movement that has no intention of dismantling capitalism? Because they have no interest in dismantling capitalism. In essence, these groups lend ardent support to bourgeois democracy. Just take, for example, the enthusiastic support the ISO gave to the Libyan “rebels” last year. These “rebel” forces were supported by U.S. imperialism and its Commander-in-Chief, Obama, who bombed Tripoli in the name of “democracy.” At home, the reformist left’s support to the Occupy movement is just another expression of its “fight the right” agenda, which amounts to nothing more than building illusions in and support for the Democrats.
The Occupy protesters constantly talk about “reclaiming our democracy.” This country was founded on the enslavement of blacks and the genocide of Native Americans. Its history is riddled with the bodies of working-class fighters killed at the hands of the police or the courts. The purpose of this government has always been to defend the property and profits of the ruling class.
We, as communist revolutionaries, always ask the question—democracy for which class? The facade of democracy serves to obscure the fact that the capitalist state is an instrument of organized violence—at its core the police, military, courts and prisons—for maintaining capitalist rule. From CCNY to Zuccotti Park, we are constantly arguing against illusions in the cops. Cops are not workers—they are strikebreakers who act in the interest of the fundamentally racist ruling class, the bourgeoisie. And that’s why we read and teach Lenin’s The State and Revolution.
In November, at a demonstration at City College, students protested a planned tuition hike and we led the chants, “Cops off campus! Free quality education! Abolish the administration!” We raised the call for worker/teacher/student control of the schools. The student protesters, many of whom were black and Latino, had picked up some of our slogans. These chants were counterposed to the politics of the liberal leadership of the demonstration, Students United for a Free CUNY, who accept the framework of capitalism by begging for a few crumbs.
Our starting point is to have a clear class opposition to capitalist politicians like Obama and the Democratic Party. The Democrats were once the party in defense of slavery and later the party of Jim Crow. They aim, as does the bourgeoisie as a whole, to “divide and conquer” so their profits will rise. Racism is all part and parcel of the maintenance of the capitalist order. The “war on terror,” the “war on drugs,” the war against abortion rights—these are wars on blacks, women and the working class as a whole! Just look at Obama’s outrageous ban on over-the-counter access to morning-after pills for teenagers. These are young women under 17 years old who will not have easy access to a simple pill, making it harder for them to avoid having children. This is criminal! It serves to tighten the grip of social control and enforce the sexual repression of young women. Again and again you can see that the Democrats are really just the other party of capitalism and war. This is why we have always and consistently raised the slogan “Break with the Democrats!” and why we call to build a multiracial workers party that fights for a workers government.
The only way out of this hell is through workers revolution. The victory of the socialist revolution in this country will be achieved only through the struggle of the multiracial working class, under the leadership of the revolutionary vanguard party. In the course of the struggle, unbreakable bonds will be forged between these different sections of the working class. Then, we will ensure at last the end of wage slavery, racism, and exploitation. Join this fight! Join the Spartacus Youth Club!
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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 995, 3 February 2012)
Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.