Saturday, February 25, 2012

Poet's Corner- A Poem To While The Class Stuggle By- Claude Mckay's "If We Must Die" -In Honor Of The 92nd Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Communist International (March 1919)

Markin comment:

Sometimes a poem (or a song, play, or picture, but usually a poem) says more in a few lines than all the "high" communist propaganda we throw out about the stakes for our side in the class struggle. Claude McKay's If We Must Die is one of them.

If We Must Die by Claude McKay

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-Burying History of Chicanos and All Oppressed-Tucson School Book Ban

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League website.

Workers Vanguard No. 996
17 February 2012

Burying History of Chicanos and All Oppressed-Tucson School Book Ban

In another chapter out of Arizona’s Anglo-chauvinist, anti-immigrant handbook, last month Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) officials stormed into classrooms to confiscate books used in the Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, effectively banning them. The pretext was that books such as Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, Critical Race Theory and Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years violated a 2010 state law axing ethnic studies. Specifically, the law prohibits any courses that are “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” “advocate ethnic solidarity” or allegedly “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.” Presumably, the texts are to be replaced by the likes of Little House on the Prairie.

In signing the 2010 law, Republican governor Jan Brewer—notorious for the earlier apartheid-style anti-immigrant law SB1070—aimed her fire at the MAS program in Tucson, where 60 percent of the student body is Latino. Signaling the likelihood of broader censorship, the language in the law also goes after courses that supposedly “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.” Consequently, Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Brazilian radical intellectual Paulo Freire, which references the term “oppression” as used in the 1848 Communist Manifesto, was added to the list of forbidden works.

Although a state-ordered audit last year concluded that the Tucson MAS program broke no law and cultivated a climate “conducive to student achievement,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal was determined to bring the program down. Threatening to pull around $14 million of state funding from the school district, Huppenthal declared that MAS courses promote the “harmful, dispiriting message” that “Latino minorities have been and continue to be oppressed by a Caucasian majority.” This in Arizona, of all places, where for years “English fluency police” were sent in to monitor teachers, threatening them with dismissal for having heavy accents!

Last month, angry students marched to the TUSD headquarters in protest against the suspension of MAS. Assistant Superintendent Lupita Garcia railed at them that Mexico is where Mexican studies is taught, “this country is called America and we study U.S. history.” In fact, U.S. history includes the far from minor detail that the entire Southwest, including Arizona, and more was stolen from Mexico. Imitating Newt “let poor kids scrub toilets” Gingrich, administrators punished protesters by assigning them to Saturday janitorial duties—a glaring demonstration of the utter racist contempt the bourgeois authorities have for the Latino poor.

The banning of MAS and its instructional texts is part and parcel of an ongoing crackdown on immigrants across the country. In states like Arizona and Alabama, police have been given free rein to interrogate and detain anyone appearing to be a “foreigner.” There, and everywhere else, the cops continue their racial profiling of blacks, Latinos, Muslims and other minorities. As Republican presidential hopefuls bait each other on who can be the most virulently bigoted against immigrants, it is the federal government under Democrat Barack Obama that is the main enforcer of anti-immigrant repression. Last year, the government set a record of some 400,000 deportations, due largely to the expansion of the “Secure Communities” program initiated by George W. Bush.

The capitalist rulers’ crackdown has fueled nativist rants painting immigrants as criminals and bemoaning the 14th Amendment—a central gain of the Civil War granting citizenship to children born on American soil—in order to go after so-called “anchor babies.” Against both the Republican and Democratic parties of capital, we say that anyone who has made it to this country should have the same rights as those born here: Full citizenship rights for all immigrants! And after socialist revolution rips power from the U.S. capitalist rulers, a workers government would return to Mexico certain contiguous regions of the Southwest that were seized from Mexico.

Illustrating the ideological thrust of the campaign against “un-American” ethnic studies, Huppenthal singled out a MAS classroom that had a poster of Che Guevara, telling Democracy Now (18 January) that students were being “indoctrinated into a Paulo Freirean-Marxian kind of style of thinking about racial attitudes and creating hatred.” When it suits his purposes, Huppenthal, who ran for Superintendent on a campaign to “stop La Raza,” also compares the MAS texts to Hitler’s Mein Kampf—this from Arizona’s chief book-burner!

Programs like ethnic studies are the result of social struggle—especially the civil rights and Vietnam antiwar movements and other movements of the ’60s and ’70s—and not the “benevolence” of an enlightened ruling class. In fact, Tucson’s MAS program resulted from a 1974 federal desegregation order following a suit by black and Latino families. But with the rollback of school integration and the ratcheting up of anti-immigrant racism, the bourgeois authorities are increasingly burying any teaching of the long history of racial and ethnic oppression in this country. We defend ethnic studies courses as part of our defense of the oppressed and our fight for free, quality, integrated education for all, from preschool to postgraduate.

While ethnic studies programs cover the history of blacks, Native Americans and other minorities—a history not otherwise taught through whitewashed U.S. textbooks—they do not fundamentally challenge the dominant ideology of the racist capitalist system. In fact, such programs are typically packaged to promote the myth that one can escape oppression and become “empowered” by being represented in this so-called “democracy.” The education system as a whole reinforces bourgeois ideology, serving the interests of the ruling class.

The uncensored truth is that racial oppression and national chauvinism are endemic to capitalism, wielded by the ruling class to divide the proletariat—i.e., the working class—and weaken its struggles. As a Marxist newspaper offering a revolutionary perspective, we quote what Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels laid out in the Communist Manifesto:

“The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class.... In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

It will take workers revolution to usher in the dawn of socialist society. As we stated in a previous article on the ban of ethnic studies in Arizona (WV No. 963, 27 August 2010): “It will ultimately require the overthrow of the capitalist system to end oppression—and for the real history of the struggles against oppression and exploitation to be taught.”

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-Greece: Defend Electric Power Unionists!-For A Workers Government Now!

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League website.

Workers Vanguard No. 996
17 February 2012

Greece: Defend Electric Power Unionists!

The following February 4 protest letter was sent by the Komitee für soziale Verteidigung (Committee for Social Defense), which is associated with the Spartakist Workers Party of Germany, to Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos and to his Labor and Justice ministers.

The Komitee für soziale Verteidigung strongly protests the outrageous persecution of 15 trade unionists of the Greek public power company union, GENOP-DEH, including its president, Nikos Photopoulos. The unionists had occupied the offices of the state power company DEH, to stop the company printing letters cutting off the electricity supply to thousands of families who refuse to pay the new property tax and thousands more who can no longer pay their bills. Squads of riot police violently removed the unionists, who were then charged with trespass, “obstructing the functioning of a public institution” and “obstructing the forces of order.” For their courageous action in defense of working and poor families they now face possible jail terms of up to five years.

The Greek capitalist government’s agencies of repression are carrying out the dictates of the European Union, which is dominated by German imperialism. From its formation, the purpose of the European Union was to serve the interests of the imperialist powers and their junior partners in squeezing their own working classes and attacking their unions, and more effectively dominating the weakest countries like Greece. The multiethnic working class in Germany has also seen its wages, pensions and living standards driven down by the German capitalists’ drive to rule Europe.

Class-conscious workers in Germany applaud the actions of the victimized trade unionists. The KfsV will make this case known to workers here. In solidarity with our class brothers in Greece, we demand: Drop all charges against the Greek power worker unionists!

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-"No Illusions in Police “Reform”—For Workers Revolution!"-Poltical Lessons For Those In The Occupy Movement Who Are Looking For The Way Forward

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League website.

Workers Vanguard No. 996
17 February 2012

Spartacist Speaker at Occupy Oakland Forum

No Illusions in Police “Reform”—For Workers Revolution!

OAKLAND—The city administration and Oakland Police Department (OPD), backed by the local bourgeois media, have been on a campaign of arrests, smears and intimidation against Occupy Oakland protesters. Following the arrest of 409 people at a January 28 protest, a dozen activists have been charged with a combination of felonies and misdemeanors. “Stay away” orders bar them from being within 300 yards of City Hall and Frank Ogawa Plaza (renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by protesters in remembrance of the young black worker killed by a BART transit cop in 2009).

At least one activist, a black man known as Truth, has been in jail since his arrest the night of the November 2 mass protest at the Oakland port. Marcel Johnson, a black homeless man better known as Khali who was part of the Occupy Oakland encampment, has been incarcerated since his arrest on December 16 and could face a life sentence under California’s draconian “three strikes” law. Free Truth, Khali and all Occupy protesters! Drop all the charges!

At a February 1 Occupy Oakland press conference, many of those arrested recounted the horrors they experienced after being trapped and rounded up by police the week before. Dozens were crammed into cells designed to hold five people at most. Several were held for 50 hours or more without charges. Many, including people with HIV, were denied their medication. Meanwhile, the media has joined Democratic mayor Jean Quan and the City Council in accusing protesters of “violence,” particularly targeting anarchists. In a menacing move, the San Francisco Chronicle posted on its Web site the names and addresses of several of those arrested on January 28. What really drove the Oakland city administration and local media crazy was that some protesters had burned an American flag they found inside City Hall. Several Occupy Oakland activists have since taken to carrying American flags at demonstrations in an effort to show their patriotic credentials.

A February 7 City Council meeting was convened to vote on a resolution allowing the use of any “lawful” means to prevent future shutdowns at the port and strengthening police enforcement powers against protesters overall. Representatives of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union spoke against the resolution, pointing out that it would be aimed against the union. The resolution, which failed, had been introduced by Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who earlier denounced Occupy Oakland for engaging in “domestic terrorism.”

Addressing the City Council meeting, prominent Occupy Oakland activist Barucha Peller stated: “I know you guys used to be progressive. But right now you’re on the wrong side of history” (San Francisco Chronicle, 8 February). The idea that these capitalist politicians could ever represent anything but the interests of the bourgeoisie is a stark expression of how the populist notion of the “99 percent” promotes illusions in American bourgeois democracy and its representatives.

Under the guise of debating “tactics” for “our movement,” the reformist International Socialist Organization (ISO) treacherously denounced the few dozen protesters who went to City Hall late at night on January 28 after braving hours of police tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets. Accusing them of “vandalism” and “stupid and inexcusable” actions, the ISO lectured that “this irresponsible and backward behavior handed city officials and the media a perfect weapon to smear the whole movement” (“The Backlash Against Occupy Oakland,”, 6 February). In fact, the ISO is handing the bourgeois media and politicians more ammunition by echoing the violence-baiting dished out against protesters.

The brutality of the OPD has become so infamous that a federal judge is threatening to put the department under receivership. This stems from a nearly decade-old settlement of the case of the Oakland “Riders”—a gang of cops unleashed on the West Oakland ghetto. The repeated cop attacks against Occupy Oakland activists have brought increased attention to the OPD, which has been ordered to comply with various “reforms.”

When a Citizens Police Review Board meeting originally scheduled for February 9 was “indefinitely postponed,” Occupy Oakland organized its own “forum on police actions,” which was attended by up to 500 people. A video presentation powerfully showed the brutality meted out to protesters since late October, and many individuals spoke at the end of the forum about the violence they regularly face at the hands of the cops, whether as demonstrators or as residents of Oakland’s ghettos. But the political focus of the event, exemplified by the official speakers, including members of the review board, was how best to “reform” the OPD and bring it under “community control.” Police Chief Howard Jordan was even invited to a “Q&A” session (of course, he did not show). We print below the remarks of a Spartacist League comrade during the “public speaking section” at the end of the forum.

*   *   *

I am speaking for the Spartacist League; some of you may have seen our paper, Workers Vanguard. We are here to say that we defend Occupy Oakland protesters against police repression and demand that everyone who’s been arrested be released and that all charges be dropped. Plain and simple, the cops are the enemy. They’re part of the capitalist state, which exists to defend the interests and rule of the bourgeoisie against the workers and the oppressed. And no amount of civilian review boards, community control or federal oversight or takeover is going to change that. All these things are a sham, designed to whitewash the cops while giving the illusion of accountability. They’re designed to clean up their image so the cops can carry out their repression all the more effectively.

The cops that killed Oscar Grant and terrorize the ghettos are part of the same capitalist system that imprisons over two million people, most of them black and Latino, in this country and wages war abroad. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat in the White House. When Quan was running, you were sold a bill of goods that she was “progressive.” The same bill of goods was sold about Obama. In fact, Obama’s message to black people is racial oppression. His message to immigrants is deportation. His message to working people is union-busting. His message to the population is to shred our rights. And his message to the world is imperialist war. There’s been a lot of hand-wringing about the flag that was burned outside of City Hall. Well, the truth is, from Haiti to the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, that flag is dripping with the blood of millions of American imperialism’s victims.

Their styles might be different, but the Democrats and the Republicans are capitalist parties and they serve the same capitalist class, and you better remember that when the elections come around and they try to sell you the poison pill of “lesser evilism.” But the “99 percent” populism of Occupy disguises the class nature of the capitalist state and its parties. It is counterposed to the understanding that the fundamental class divide in society is between the working class and the capitalist class. What we need is a workers party to fight for a socialist revolution. What we need is a new ruling class, the workers.

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-Black Liberation: A Key Task of Proletarian Revolution

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League website.

Workers Vanguard No. 996
17 February 2012

Black Liberation: A Key Task of Proletarian Revolution

(Quote of the Week)

To celebrate Black History Month, we print below an excerpt from a 1933 document by Max Shachtman, then a leader of the U.S. Trotskyist movement. Addressing the central importance of the fight against black oppression, the document was written a few years before the explosive class battles by black and white workers that built industrial unions in this country. What Shachtman stressed at a time of Jim Crow segregation in the South is just as true today: the liberation of black people in the U.S. can be achieved only through the overthrow of capitalism by the revolutionary proletariat.

The Civil War and the Reconstruction Period, so far as the bourgeoisie was concerned, completed the bourgeois democratic revolution commenced in 1776 with the declaration of independence from England. For the Negro masses, this second revolution—to destroy the stranglehold of slavocracy over the unfoldment of industrial capitalism—yielded all that the democratic revolution in this country will ever yield them. It gave them “legal” rights; it freed them from chattel slavery. It ended with their betrayal: the “legal” rights were confined to paper; the emancipation ended with the partial restitution in parts of the South of semi-serfdom instead of with converting the plantation slaves into free landed peasants, as the French bourgeois revolution did. More than this, the bourgeoisie could not give. Since that time, these outdated economic forms have been merged into the general capitalist economy of a decadent, parasitic imperialism.…

There is only one correct way of formulating the problem of the remnants of slavery and serfdom under which hundreds of thousands of southern Negroes live to this day, and it gives the key to the whole problem: the Negro was liberated from chattel slavery as a by-product of the military-political struggle of the progressive northern bourgeoisie to consolidate the nation on a modern capitalist basis, free from the fetters of a reactionary slavocracy. The Negro will not only be liberated from the wage slavery of today but the survivals of feudalism and slavery will be exterminated, as a “by-product” of the military-political struggle of the last progressive class in American society—the class of black and white proletarian—to establish a socialist nation by means of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The historical aims of the imperialist bourgeoisie are not incompatible with the preservation of social and caste inequality for oppressed peoples, or with the preservation of antiquated modes of production and exchange. The historical aims of the socialist proletariat are incompatible with the maintenance of any anti-democratic institutions, of any capitalist or pre-capitalist modes of production. In this fact lies the only guarantee that the victorious working class will truly and completely emancipate the Negro masses by emancipating itself.

—Max Shachtman, “Communism and the Negro” (1933), reprinted as Race and Revolution (Verso, 2003)

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-Protest Prison Vendetta Against Jalil Muntaqim

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League website.

Workers Vanguard No. 996
17 February 2012

Protest Prison Vendetta Against Jalil Muntaqim

On February 9, the Partisan Defense Committee sent the following protest letter on behalf of Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), a former member of the Black Panther Party and then the Black Liberation Army. Muntaqim was one of the New York 3 who were convicted in 1975 in a COINTELPRO frame-up on charges of killing two New York City cops in 1971. Muntaqim was also targeted in the recent campaign against former Panthers known as the San Francisco 8 (see “COINTELPRO Charges Dropped Against Four SF8 Defendants” in WV No. 941, 28 August 2009).

We are writing to protest the campaign of harassment being meted out to Anthony Bottom, also known as Jalil Muntaqim, since his transfer to Attica Correctional Facility. Mr. Bottom has now been sentenced to six months in Special Housing Unit (SHU) on the outrageous pretext that he possessed photographs taken at memorials for former Black Panthers. These were confiscated as supposedly “gang-related,” or representative of an “unauthorized organization.”

The false characterization of the Black Panther Party as a “gang” has long been used by prison authorities as a means to repress outspoken advocates of black rights incarcerated throughout the country. This continues even at a time when the Black Panther Party has ceased to be a social force for many decades now.

That Mr. Bottom’s photos were not in any way contraband is attested by the fact they were transferred to him by the prison’s Correspondence Department. Clearly this persecution is due to his political beliefs and past affiliations. We demand that Anthony Bottom be taken out of SHU, that all his photographs be returned to him and this campaign of harassment be stopped.

*   *   *

Protests should be sent to: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Office of the Attorney General, The Capitol, Albany, NY 12224-0341; and Commissioner Brian Fischer, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Building 2, 1220 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12226-2050. Letters should reference Anthony “Jalil” Bottom, Attica inmate, DIN number 77A4283.

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-"On Posse Comitatus Law"-Down With NDAA!

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League website.

Workers Vanguard No. 996
17 February 2012

On Posse Comitatus Law


January 14, 2012

Editor, Workers Vanguard:

In discussing the erasure of democratic rights under the rubric of the “war on terror”, the lead article in WV 993, “Obama Ramps Up ‘War on Terror’ at Home”, states: “This is not to mention the direct violation [by the NDAA—National Defense Authorization Act] of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits military forces from engaging in domestic law enforcement.” Two problems with this: 1. It’s technically incorrect. The Posse Comitatus Act (PCA) prohibits use of military forces domestically except when approved by Congress or explicitly allowed in the U.S. constitution. Since the NDAA was passed by Congress, its implementation would not be in violation of the PCA. 2. As for the NDAA violating the spirit of the PCA, the PCA was a post-Reconstruction law of racist and reactionary intent, designed to prevent local Reconstruction governments from appealing to the Federal government for protection against the terror that overthrew the democratic gains of the Reconstruction period. It is not exactly something one should refer to as an historical standard of bourgeois-democratic rights, such as habeas corpus, which WV properly cited in the previous sentence. So why is this being cited in WV?


WV replies:

It may indeed have been more precise for the article to state that President Obama’s signing of the NDAA further eroded—rather than “directly violated”—the Posse Comitatus Act. J.H.’s second objection, though, is historically inaccurate as there were no Reconstruction governments left to defend, which is not to deny that the Act served a reactionary purpose. J.H. misses the main point. Eliminating the formal restrictions on the military engaging in domestic law enforcement could only have dangerous consequences for the workers and oppressed. We want to defend such restrictions against any attempt to limit or repeal them.

The U.S. bourgeoisie has long upheld the formal separation of the military from domestic repressive duties as a benefit of bourgeois democracy as distinct from a military police-state dictatorship. The Posse Comitatus Act stands as a centerpiece of this distinction. We have no illusions that this or any other law will restrain the bourgeoisie from unleashing the military when it perceives a sufficient threat to its class rule. Over the years, the government has come up with many ways of restricting the Posse Comitatus Act or getting around it by militarizing police forces, providing them with armed personnel carriers, drones, etc. There have been quite a few amendments to the Act, including authorizing the president to call out the armed forces to restore order in cases of civil disturbance, to assist in the “war on drugs” and to aid enforcement of the racist immigration laws. We trust that J.H. agrees that these are not positive developments.

Posse Comitatus, meaning the “force of the county,” dates back to English common law. Carried over to North America, it authorized local sheriffs to compel members of the community to assist in making arrests and maintaining order. Federal posse comitatus originated with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which “commanded” all citizens to “aid and assist” U.S. marshals in the capture of escaped slaves. By the time the slavocracy was defeated in the Civil War, the state power was no longer in the business of catching slaves. For a brief and unique period in American history—Reconstruction—its job in the South was enforcing the newly won rights of black people. Since few white southerners could be pressed into defending these rights, this left federal troops to be the “posse.”

By 1877, the last of the Reconstruction governments had already been replaced by the white Southern “Redeemers,” in some cases following bloody massacres of recently freed blacks during which the second Grant administration refused to dispatch additional troops. By the time the remaining federal troops were withdrawn from the South in 1877, the Northern bourgeoisie had already aligned with the remnants of the slavocracy to force the freed slaves back onto the former plantations as brutally exploited tenants or sharecroppers. As KKK nightriders were terrorizing the South, the Posse Comitatus Act was enacted the following year to prevent the use of the military to protect black people and enforce their civil rights. The law codified what was already a ruling-class consensus. The Civil War and Reconstruction were the last progressive acts of the U.S. bourgeoisie, which would rapidly develop into an imperialist capitalist class, marking its emergence as such with the 1898 Spanish-American War.

The military could no longer play any progressive role. Continuing a military campaign against American Indians that followed the tail end of the Civil War, some of the troops withdrawn from the South following Reconstruction were dispatched to drive the Nez Percé from their home in Oregon. Others were sent to break the 1877 strike by thousands of rail workers—the first nationwide strike in this country. Federal troops have been repeatedly sent to put down strikes: from the 1894 Pullman strike by the newly formed American Railway Union to the 1899 miners strike in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to the seizure of railroads and coal mines ordered by Democratic president Truman in 1946 to break a strike by 400,000 coal miners. Just recently, the Coast Guard was deployed, along with other forces of the state, to escort a ship up the Columbia River to the Port of Longview, Washington, to prevent any interference from ILWU longshoremen in their battle against the EGT bosses (see article in this issue). In this, the military was true to its purpose as a core component of the capitalist state, which is to defend the class rule, interests and profits of the bourgeoisie, internationally and domestically.

When struggles for black rights emerged following World War II, they were met with brutal KKK and state terror. The liberal leaders of the civil rights movement, epitomized by Martin Luther King Jr. and tailed by reformist socialist organizations, called for federal troops to the South, sowing the deadly illusion that the imperialist army that was smashing workers and peasants in Vietnam would somehow defend fighters for black freedom at home. We are opposed to such calls on the armed forces of the capitalist state. In 1957, Eisenhower’s troops were sent to put down an upheaval of the Little Rock, Arkansas, black population, which was fighting to defend black students against racist mobs. The troops thus prevented the total rout of the retreating racists. From the 1943 racist riots in Detroit to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, federal troops were sent in only after blacks armed and mobilized to defend themselves. In 1967, the 82nd Airborne was brought in to suppress the Detroit ghetto explosion.

As Marxists, we assess laws such as the Posse Comitatus Act not by the motivations of their authors but by how they concretely impact class and social struggles. From the same vantage point, we judge what legal protections exist from how they serve the interests of the working class and the oppressed. Thus, while we recognize habeas corpus as an important democratic right in most periods, we support Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War as a necessary measure to put down forces acting in support of the secessionist South in a war over slavery. Similarly, many of the democratic protections embodied in the Bill of Rights emerged from the experience of winning independence from the British monarchy, subsequent social struggle and hostility to a centralized state power in a society divided between slave and free labor social systems.

These protections, including the right to bear arms and later formal restrictions on military police powers, are important gains for the working class, which must defend the rights won through struggle against the rulers’ inevitable attempts to restrict or reverse them.

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-"ILWU Holds the Line Against Union Busting-Lessons of the Battle of Longview"-Lessons In Labor Struggle For Those In The Occupy Movement Who Are Looking For The Way Forward

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League website.

Workers Vanguard No. 996
17 February 2012

"ILWU Holds the Line Against Union Busting-Lessons of the Battle of Longview"-Lessons In Labor Struggle For Those In The Occupy Movement Who Are Looking For The Way Forward

On February 7, members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 21 began loading wheat destined for South Korea on the first ship to pull into the new, high-tech EGT terminal in Longview, Washington. Two days later, a five-year contract settlement covering both maintenance and production at the terminal was approved by Local 21 members. The scabs of Operating Engineers Local 701 are out and the ILWU is in. This marks the end of a nearly two-year-long showdown pitting the ILWU against the giant EGT grain conglomerate and, behind it, finally, the full forces of the capitalist state.

We salute the militancy and determination of the ILWU members who fought so hard, centrally those of Local 21. Earlier in this battle, the union and its allies flexed their muscle in the kind of labor action not seen in this country for decades. Mass pickets were mobilized to block trains bringing grain into the terminal. The cops retaliated with a vendetta of harassment, intimidation and multiple arrests against ILWU members and their supporters. When police attacked the union’s lines on September 7, ILWU International president Robert McEllrath, who had been brutally manhandled by the cops, called to disperse the picket and wait for the backing of other longshoremen. Ports in the region were shut down the following day as ILWU members poured into Longview to give EGT, its hired security thugs and the strikebreaking cops a real taste of union power. With the labor-hating media screaming that thousands of tons of grain had been dumped on the tracks, EGT, backed by Obama’s National Labor Relations Board, went to the courts, which leveled over $300,000 in fines against the union.

The ILWU International leadership backed off, retreating to filing suits in the capitalist courts and pushing a referendum appealing for the recall of the local Cowlitz County sheriff. Trainloads of grain were driven unhindered into the terminal, where it was unloaded by scabs from Operating Engineers Local 701. By late last year, the company was moving to get the grain shipped out, with the backing of the Obama administration’s “Homeland Security” apparatus. The union was now looking down the barrels of a flotilla of armed Coast Guard ships and helicopters being mobilized to escort the first ship up the Columbia River to the EGT terminal. Citing the ILWU’s previous “violent” actions, the Coast Guard ordered a temporary “safety zone” around the terminal and any incoming ships, giving itself authority to take whatever action was necessary to enforce it. Any violation could bring fines of up to $250,000 and six years in prison.

The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Counties Central Labor Council issued a “Call to Action” urging workers and their allies to mobilize in Longview when the first ship came in. McEllrath wrote a letter to all ILWU locals calling on them to be prepared for protest action. The populist Occupy movement was organizing for caravans from the Pacific Northwest and down the West Coast. Individual unions and labor councils around the country passed motions and sent letters protesting the deployment of the U.S. military against the ILWU.

A showdown pitting military forces deployed by the Obama administration against unionists and Occupy protesters could have damaged the Democrat’s political fortunes in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential elections. With news spreading of the imminent arrival of the first ship, Washington State’s Democratic Party governor stepped in and brokered a tentative agreement between the ILWU and EGT.

The “Partnership” of Labor and Capital Is a Lie!

The ILWU’s International president is now saluting “the partnership between the ILWU and EGT” as the beginning of “many years of safe, productive operation at the facility, and stability in the Pacific Northwest grain export industry.” But the whole battle at Longview gives the lie to the bureaucracy’s promotion of a “partnership” between the longshoremen and the EGT owners, a lie that is at the heart of the virtually unchallenged offensive by the bosses and their state that has gutted the unions in this country.

The “stability” of the multibillion dollar U.S. grain industry, the biggest and most profitable in the world, means skyrocketing food prices and the starvation and death of millions around the globe. The world’s grain supply is controlled by a handful of agribusiness giants, including U.S.-based Cargill and Archer-Daniels-Midland. At home, their profits are created through the increasing exploitation of the working class, which is why EGT was out to bust the ILWU at its Longview terminal. They didn’t succeed. The West Coast-wide organization of the union, and the jobs at the Longview port the union has worked for 80 years, were preserved.

ILWU Local 21 president Dan Coffman told Workers Vanguard that the union prevailed in its demand that the company pay into the ILWU/Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) health and welfare package and pay into the pension plan as well. EGT will also pay the overtime rate for any work over eight hours per day. Nonetheless, the fact that EGT can mandate ILWU members to work 12-hour shifts is a real threat to the workers’ health and safety. (The ILWU’s contract with the PMA allows shifts of at most ten hours, and then only if the ship is scheduled to sail immediately.) Moreover, EGT will pay straight time for night shifts instead of the standard time-and-a-third shift differential.

The union also beat back EGT’s refusal to recognize maintenance/repair and other inside workers in the terminal as members of the ILWU. These workers were selected and separately hired by the company from the Local 21 hall as permanent “steady men.” They were then required to decide on whether they would be represented by the ILWU. Steady men, who are guaranteed work with individual shipping and stevedoring companies, have long been allowed under the ILWU contract with the PMA, subverting the union hiring hall and rotary dispatch system. Those gains of the historic 1934 strike that forged the union are designed to equalize work opportunities for ILWU members. Coffman also told us that the union lost its demand to man the control room in the EGT terminal, which means that the central operations will be run by the company.

With unions like those of public sector workers in Wisconsin being mowed down by the capitalist union-busters, it is a real achievement that the ILWU in Longview was able to hold the line against EGT. But the fight is hardly over. The ILWU is still saddled with more than $300,000 in fines, which it is appealing in the federal courts. While the courts acquitted some of those arrested, there are still ILWU members facing charges, including felony counts. The ILWU and its supporters must fight for all of these charges to be dropped! And the next battle will be with other grain exporting companies when the Grainhandlers’ Agreement with the ILWU comes up on October 1.

EGT’s $200 million Longview facility is the first new grain terminal to be built in 25 years in the U.S. It is equipped to handle an average load rate of 3,000 metric tons per hour, far surpassing the 750 to 2,500 metric ton rate of other grain export elevators in the Pacific Northwest. Expected to load 150 to 200 ships a year at Longview, EGT—a multinational conglomerate of St. Louis-based Bunge North America, the Japanese Itochu Corporation and the South Korean STX Pan Ocean shipping company—is positioned to come out on top of the profit bonanza that will flow from the projected increase of U.S. corn, wheat and soybean exports to Asia. Faced with such competition, the other grain exporters will be looking to take their losses out of the hide of the ILWU.

Grain handling by the ILWU in the Pacific Northwest, overwhelmingly bulk cargo, is covered by agreements that are separate from the ILWU’s contract with the PMA, which is dominated by container shipping companies. That contract is up in 2014, and the PMA will be carefully watching the grain negotiations in order to press any advantage against the ILWU. With the newly enlarged Panama Canal scheduled to open the same year, the PMA will be playing to fears that the shipping companies will send their container ships directly to the East Coast instead of offloading containers in the West Coast ports and shipping them by rail across the continent. The APM Terminal at Hampton Roads, Virginia, which opened in 2007, is highly automated compared to West Coast ports and is the third-largest container terminal in the country. Shipping companies on both coasts seek to pit the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), which organizes East Coast and Gulf Coast ports and whose master contract expires September 30, against the relatively more powerful ILWU, in a race to the bottom over jobs.

The ILWU and ILA are both increasingly isolated union outposts amid a sea of low-wage, non-union workers in the ever-growing chain of world trade, from port truckers to warehouse and intermodal rail facility workers to sailors manning the mammoth cargo ships. The strength of the longshore unions has been further and increasingly eroded by the allegiance of their leaderships to the profitability and national interests of America’s capitalist rulers. The power of workers united on the basis of their own class interests in struggle against the employers was seen in the mass pickets and other actions in Longview. But this initial militancy ran straight up against the class collaborationism of the union misleaders.

Front Lines of an International Class Battle

The ILWU leadership portrayed the fight against EGT as that of a small community against a “foreign” multinational corporation. On the contrary, it was a class battle pitting the workers against the capitalist owners of EGT. In any such battle, the owners can depend on the forces of the capitalist state, which exists precisely to defend their interests—from “community” cops and sheriff’s departments all the way up to the forces of “Homeland Security” and the military. The workers’ power lies in their collective organization and ability to stop production and shut off the flow of profits. In marshaling this strength, solidarity actions between different unions and with workers internationally are crucial. This is all the more so with just-in-time delivery and increasingly interconnected global production. It is precisely because such actions as “hot-cargoing” and solidarity strikes are so effective that they have been outlawed.

As in any other conflict, the question of who wins or loses is decided by the relative strength of the opposing forces. The union’s power lay in its ability to stop grain coming in or going out of the EGT terminal. At the height of the grain harvest season in late summer and early fall, the company was particularly vulnerable. The ILWU urgently needed the backing of the strength and solidarity of other unions, most importantly those in the EGT grain cargo chain.

Early on, the union and its allies mobilized mass pickets that stopped trains carrying grain. These trains were driven by members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), which is affiliated with the Teamsters. When the ILWU backed down in the face of massive police repression, the trains started rolling in. Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa Jr. sent a letter pledging support to the ILWU in its fight with EGT. But the most elementary solidarity was for the BLE to stop the train shipments. That would have meant defying Taft-Hartley and the myriad other laws banning such actions. Defiance of anti-labor laws, with workers battling the cops and other strikebreaking forces, was how the unions were built in this country. And just as surely, they have been decimated by sacrificing labor’s weapons of struggle on the altar of capitalist legality.

Operating Engineers Local 701, which supplied the scab labor for EGT, was given cover by AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. Trumka declared that this was simply a “jurisdictional” dispute between two unions that needed to be resolved in the chambers of the national labor traitors! As we wrote in “ILWU Fights Deadly Threat” (WV No. 986, 16 September 2011): “The only ‘jurisdictional’ dispute in Longview is between capital and labor! And Trumka has taken the side of the bosses.” This treachery was in service to the Democratic Party, which is every bit as much a party of the bosses as the Republicans but one to which the labor officials pledge their allegiance, peddling the Democrats as the “friends of labor.” Trumka didn’t want a big class battle in Longview upsetting Obama’s electoral fortunes. When it came down to it, neither did the ILWU tops.

The union was in a tough spot. It is not easy to prevail in the face of the full force of the capitalist state. But the union’s capacity to fight was undermined by its leadership’s support for the very forces of “national security” the ILWU was up against. In 2002, the ILWU International leadership collaborated in the drafting of the Maritime Transportation Security Act, which is aimed at policing the docks as part of the government’s “war on terror.” Despicably pointing a finger at the largely immigrant, non-union port truckers as a potential “security” threat, the ILWU tops acquiesced to the implementation of the Transport Workers Identification Credential (TWIC), objecting only after it had been implemented. Forced to submit to criminal background and immigration status checks, tens of thousands of port workers were denied “security” clearance. Many immigrant truckers chose not to apply, fearing deportation.

Among the offenses that would permanently bar workers from the waterfront under TWIC is involvement in a “transportation security incident” including “transportation system disruption or economic disruption in a specific area.” Coast Guard officials showed up at the Longview ILWU Local 21 hall threatening to revoke union members’ TWIC cards if there were any union protests interfering with the loading of the grain ship.

In the face of the military might of its “own” government, the ILWU desperately needed to appeal for international working-class solidarity. Last fall, there had been small solidarity protests against EGT’s union-busting in Japan, Korea and Australia. These needed to translate into action by appealing to dock workers in Korea and throughout Asia to refuse to unload scab grain shipped from EGT’s Longview terminal. But the ILWU was not well positioned to do so when its leadership was braying that the union was defending the U.S. grain export industry against a “foreign” multinational. Grain and other food exports are wielded as weapons by U.S. imperialism against the workers and oppressed of the world and to keep less developed countries under the boot of the “world’s only superpower.”

The very nature of longshore work, which is dependent on world trade, underlines that labor’s fight is international. Longshore and other transport workers in the global cargo chain have immense potential social power. This was laid out in an article by JoAnn Wypijewski titled “On the Front Lines of the World Class Struggle—The Cargo Chain” (CounterPunch, 1 March 2010):

“As important as productivity is to the shipping industry’s fortunes, all the speed of automated ports is worthless if there are ruptures anywhere in the relay from factory to consumer…. In the U.S.A. that means smooth acquiescence not only from 60,000 longshore workers, but also from 28,000 tugboat operators and harbor pilots, 60,000 port truckers, 850,000 freight truckers, 165,000 railroad workers, 2 million warehouse and distribution workers, 370,000 express package delivery people, and 160,000 logistic planners—and from similarly interlocked clusters of workers all around the world. They are not all organized, but then they would not all have to say No: just enough of them, acting in concert at vital points in the chain.”

But thanks to the treachery of the trade-union misleaders, there were no such ruptures in the cargo chain bringing grain in and unloading it in the EGT terminal. The one notable and honorable exception when it came to getting the grain shipped out was the Inland Boatmen’s Union (part of the ILWU), which refused to man the tugs to take the ship in and out. With its back up against the wall in the face of U.S. military forces, the ILWU leadership’s “America first” patriotism cuts across their ability to appeal for international solidarity.

Let those union militants and their allies who fought so courageously draw the lessons to prepare for future battles. If the unions are to be instruments of struggle against the bosses, they must break the chains forged by the labor misleaders that have shackled the workers to the interests of the capitalist exploiters and their political parties. The continued existence of the ILWU as a powerful industrial union cries out for a class-struggle fight to unionize the masses of unorganized workers, such as the port truckers, which would require combating anti-immigrant chauvinism and organizing them at full union pay, benefits and working conditions. For two weeks, hundreds of truckers at the Port of Seattle have been on strike against their unbearable working conditions, demanding their right to unionize.

The red-white-and-blue bureaucrats must be ousted in a fight for a class-struggle leadership, one whose banner will be the red flag of working-class internationalism! Such a leadership will arm the workers for some hard-fought battles against the capitalist exploiters and lay the basis for forging a multiracial workers party, one that will fight for a socialist revolution to uproot the whole system of wage slavery, racial oppression, poverty and imperialist war.

Substituting the Populist Occupy Movement for Class Struggle

It is a measure of the betrayals by the labor misleaders that the populist Occupy movement has emerged as the central locus of any protest against the ravages of the economic catastrophe created by Wall Street financiers and corporate magnates. Occupy overwhelmingly believes in the myth of some “good old days” of American capitalist rule, with a government that represented the “will of the people.” Yet much of the “socialist” left in this country has opportunistically hailed Occupy as the key to revitalizing the labor movement. On the contrary, its “99 percent” populism—which extends to the racist, strikebreaking cops—dissolves any understanding of the fundamental class line between the workers and their capitalist exploiters.

In the Bay Area, left-talking labor fakers like retired ILWU bureaucrat Jack Heyman and former Local 10 executive board member Clarence Thomas promoted the “community pickets” by the Occupy movement that blockaded the Oakland port on November 2 and again on December 12. In the lead-up to the December 12 Occupy blockades, which also shut down the ports in Longview and Portland in proclaimed solidarity with the ILWU’s fight in Longview, Heyman argued: “If Occupy is successful now, then momentum for a coastwide shutdown by longshore workers is highly likely when the scab ship arrives.” But far from building any such “momentum,” the blockade reduced the workers to at best being passive observers, standing by awaiting a decision by an arbitrator as to whether crossing these picket lines was a threat to their health and safety.

As enthusiastically described by the International Socialist Organization’s Socialist Worker (13 December 2011), there was much cheering in Oakland on December 12 when it was announced that the arbitrator had ruled and “workers had headed home.” What a farce! The workers were little more than pawns in a game of media and legal theater. This is not a new game for Heyman and Thomas, who have built their “militant” reputations with the Bay Area rad-lib milieu through such community pickets.

As symbolic actions that pose the need for the workers to champion solidarity with the struggles of their class brothers and sisters, such pickets can episodically be an effective tactic. But they do little to raise workers’ consciousness of their social power and class interests. Although upheld as evidence of the militancy of the ILWU, these pickets of leftists, liberals and other forces are premised on the same acquiescence to anti-labor laws behind which the ILWU and other union tops hide their sellouts of militant labor action. This was expressed by an “Occupy the Ports” statement building for December 12 arguing that “labor unions are constrained under reactionary, anti-union federal legislation...from taking job actions on the basis of solidarity.”

Picket lines are not public relations shows on behalf of the workers. Nor are they actions of civil disobedience by masses of petty-bourgeois and other declassed elements in Occupy who have no relation to, or corresponding power at, the point of production. They are battle lines in the class struggle between the workers and the capitalists who derive their profits from the exploitation of labor. Their success is predicated on the consciousness and organization of the workers mobilized as a class against their class enemy.

There is no question that the ILWU Longview local appreciated the attention that Occupy protests drew to their fight against the EGT union-busters. And who can blame them? When the ILWU International retreated, the Longview workers were taking all the casualties while EGT was riding high in the saddle, its terminal being filled with grain and the forces of Obama’s federal government at its back to get it shipped out. Solidarity with labor on the part of Occupy activists is certainly welcome. But the Occupy blockades were no substitute for the mobilization of the class power of the workers in struggle. Whatever the intention of the protesters, their pickets could easily end up pitting the protesters against the workers and their union. That is precisely the program of the more “radical” wing of Occupy exemplified by the Black Orchid anarchist collective in Seattle, which openly counterposes the largely petty-bourgeois Occupy forces as a “new movement of the working class” to the unions.

Evidently this is no problem for Jack Heyman. A central speaker at a January 6 Seattle Occupy meeting to mobilize for a caravan to Longview when the first ship pulled into the EGT terminal, Heyman embraced Occupy “sister Barucha” who “thinks that trade unions are capitalist institutions.” This, Heyman went on to argue, is “the wonderful thing about this Occupy movement…. We have different tendencies in it and we can raise our differences and yet come together for one goal, which is to win victory for the Longview longshoremen.” It’s kind of hard to win such a victory for workers fighting to preserve their union with people who think that unions are capitalist institutions! But Heyman has been peddling his credentials as a union “militant” to liberal radicals for so long that he can’t even recognize the class line.

Like the U.S. labor bureaucracy as a whole, the ILWU International embraced Occupy’s “99 percent” populism, no doubt hoping that it would further Obama’s chances of re-election. But the longshore union tops were hostile to the December 12 port shutdown. In his January 3 letter to ILWU locals about protesting when the first ship arrived, McEllrath warned longshoremen to approach those organizing for Occupy caravans to Longview with “extreme caution.” Several ILWU local bureaucrats and members from the Pacific Northwest attended the January 6 Seattle Occupy meeting and demanded that this letter be read. After being made to wait for close to two hours, they got out of their seats to protest and a melee ensued. In putting off the request by regional officials of the union under fire, the event organizers had invited such a confrontation.

In fact, the Black Orchid Collective seems to have relished it. In a statement issued after the event titled “Unity vs. Union Goons,” they condemned the ILWU officials for “trying to prevent us from transcending their dying structures.” In the aftermath of the confrontation, the Seattle local of the ILWU passed a motion banning its members from “all support for ‘Occupy’ formally or informally,” laying the basis to witchhunt ILWU members who have worked with Occupy. Such a witchhunt could be in the offing, and it should be rejected by the ILWU.

The Internationalist Group (IG), which cheerleads for Heyman, subsequently wrote us asking “where the Spartacist League stands on this disruption”? As we had made perfectly clear in writing to the IG: “We stand on the side of the defense of the union against EGT’s union-busting offensive, backed by the military and other police forces of the federal government, not with those in the Occupy movement who share the belief that the unions should be eliminated.”

While describing the politics of Occupy as “bourgeois populism,” the IG simultaneously condemns it for trying to go around the union bureaucracy “when what is needed is a fight to defeat and drive out these ‘labor lieutenants of the capitalist class’.” But Occupy is not part of the labor movement, which is where such a fight has to be waged. Our struggle with the labor bureaucrats is a political one, in opposition to its subordination of the unions to the national interests and profits of America’s capitalist rulers. Those like Heyman, the IG and others who promote the Occupy movement—whose populist politics in fact mirror those of the labor misleaders—as a substitute for the union reaped the fruits of their own grotesque opportunism at the Seattle meeting.

Those Who Labor Must Rule!

Occupy is not, and cannot be, the vehicle for revitalizing the American labor movement. That is the task of the workers themselves. What is posed is not simply the preservation of the existing unions, many of which have already been reduced to a mere shadow of their former existence, but the struggle to transform them into workers’ battalions of class struggle. The majority black membership of Bay Area ILWU Local 10 bridges a key fault line in U.S. society, giving the union the ability to harness its social power to the anger of the masses of the inner cities whose lives have been written off as worthless to American capitalism. Likewise, the Latino members in the ILWU’s L.A./Long Beach local provide a key link to the huge number of Latino immigrants in Los Angeles. This would be a key to the fight to organize the non-union, majority immigrant port truckers who are vital to shutting down the ports.

To wage such battles, the union must inscribe on its banner the fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants and champion the cause of black freedom. But the union itself is rent by the same racial and ethnic fault lines that the shipping bosses play on to divide and weaken the ILWU, pitting the overwhelmingly white ILWU workers in the Pacific Northwest, the black members in the Bay Area and the Latino members in L.A. against each other. It was a coastwide strike in 1934 that laid the basis for the founding of the ILWU, uniting longshoremen, seamen and other maritime workers. In San Francisco, where the longshore struggle sparked a general strike, the union leadership consciously appealed to the oppressed black population and fought against the bosses’ attempts to use racial and ethnic divisions to break the workers’ struggle.

The San Francisco general strike was not the only major class battle of 1934. There was also a mass strike sparked by auto parts workers in Toledo and truck drivers’ strikes in Minneapolis, out of which the Teamsters was forged as a powerful industrial union. They were all led by reds. As James P. Cannon, the founder of American Trotskyism, whose supporters led the Minneapolis strikes, wrote in an article on the 1936 West Coast maritime strike (printed in Notebook of an Agitator, 1958), a contract settlement “is only a temporary truce and the nature of such a settlement is decided by power; ‘justice’ has nothing to do with it. The workers will not have justice until they take over the world…. The bosses are powerful in the first place, because they own the ships and the docks, and the workers have not yet challenged their fraudulent claim to such ownership. And because they own the ships the bosses own the government.”

The workers struggle against increasingly brutal exploitation will not end short of getting rid of a system based on production for profit and establishing a workers government that will take the means of production out of the hands of the rapacious capitalist owners and make it the collective property of society. Then, advances in automation and other technology, which are now wielded as clubs against workers’ jobs and livelihoods, will be used to reduce their workload and lead to vast improvements in the conditions of life for the population as a whole.

The road forward lies in the fight to forge a new class-struggle leadership of the unions that will wage the battles out of which a revolutionary workers party can be built. It is the purpose of the Spartacist League to forge the nucleus of such a party as the U.S. section of a revolutionary working-class international organization. As Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote over 150 years ago in the Communist Manifesto: “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries unite!”

In Boston-Say NO to MBTA Fare Hikes and Service Cuts!

Say NO to MBTA Fare Hikes and Service Cuts!

No MBTA Layoffs! Help Stop T Fare Hikes and Service Cuts Riders, Unions, Community Groups: Build a Mass Movement to

Stop Attacks on our Living Standards!

Tax the Corporations, Private Universities and the super-Rich for more revenue to Expand Service!

The MBTA board states that 30% of its yearly budget goes to debt servicing. This debt was created by Massachusetts during the Big Dig when the MBTA was legally mandated to upgrade stations and was given no Big Dig money to do it, instead being forced into massive debt.

Then in 2000, the State Legislature stopped funding the MBTA directly from the State budget, instead relying on fare increases and a portion of the sales tax - both are taxes on the working people who use public transit!

Now the MBTA board wants to eliminate bus routes, eliminate weekend service for the commuter rail, Mattapan line and E-line, eliminate The Ride (a service that many elderly and disabled people need to go about their daily routine), make the subway more dangerous by going to one conductor per train instead of two, and, in this terrible economy, eliminate over 500 good union jobs!

These cuts will hurt all working people. We should not be made to pay for the greed and short-sightedness of the corporate-dominated MBTA Board and State Legislature. Corporations and private universities could not exist without public transportation bringing their workforces to and from work on time every day, including weekends. Many corporations already pay nothing in taxes. The big universities, including Harvard, the richest university in the world, are "non-profits" and pay no taxes. The universities, who could not operate without T service, should drastically increase "in kind" payments in iieu of taxes ."TlTTs would create added revenue that could expand T service and lower fares.

In order to defeat the fare hikes and service cuts, we will need to build a movement that reaches out into all affected communities. We need to do "Mic Checks" on morning and evening commutes - on the subway commuter rail, and buses. We should engage with the MBTA unions and ask them to publicly support their jobs, wages, health care and pensions in solidarity with T riders and other unions. We need more good jobs for our communities. Union members who rely on the T to get to work should bring this movement to their union meetings and co-workers because T fare hike and service cuts mean a cut in disposable income, and hurt all union members. We should reach out to elderly communities who would have to pay the largest percentage fare increases.

Socialist Alternative calls for the building of an organized mass day of non-payment which would put massive pressure on the unelected MBTA board and Beacon Hill to consider other options such as use of the State's "Rainy Day Fund," taxing the corporations and private universities, bringing T funding back into the State budget and other alternatives that would not further erode the T and our living standards.

We Say:

•No Fare Hike, No Service Cuts, No
MBTA Layoffs!

•For an extension of MBTA hours and
services to create more union, living
wage jobs!

*Fund public transportation by taxing the
big corporations and rich private

*Fund the contracts of the union MBTA
workers, our communities need more
jobs, not less.'

*Organize mass demonstrations and
occupations of our public transit as part
of a movement that can stop the fare-

*Set elections for the MBTA board within
a month. All positions should be elected
and subject to recall.

*Repeal the "Forward Funding" law!
Bring back direct funding for the MBTA
by putting T spending back into the .
regular State budget as it was before

Contact: 774-454-9060 - "Boston Socialist Alternative on Facebook

Labor Donated

Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night- When Jimmy Jack’s Jukebox Jumped- Super Hits 1962-A CD Review

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Brenda Lee performing her classic teen longing song, All Alone Am I.

CD Review

Super Hits 1962, various artists, Time-Life Music, 1991

Scene brought to mind by the cover that graces this CD. Simple. A jukebox, a Wurlitzer jukebox gismo, bright lights inviting, all are welcome, standing alone in some off-hand corner ready to be played by the latest crowd of song-hungry nickel, dime and quarter carrying teens after they get out of a hard day of fighting boredom at school, in this case the hoary Olde Saco High School up in Maine (or down in Maine for the purists) or are getting ready to do the do on a Friday or Saturday night (in summer, any night) before heading to wilder visions out in the great snarl of the Atlantic Ocean wave machine that is the setting for more than one budding romance, teenage style, Maine ocean teenage style.

“No question, no question at all, Jimmy Jack’s,” answered Josh Breslin to the off-hand life and death question posed by Billy La Croix, king hell king or at least prince, given his age, a mere thirteen, of the be-bop-crazed young teen night around Olde Saco, and maybe farther.

And the question posed by young Billy? Who has the best jukebox with the best and most up to date tunes around town? Of course, the question was a no-brainer, a real no-brainer, for real, because Billy just had to know the answer before he said it. See Billy is none other than the son of the owner of Jimmy Jack’s Diner, the most popular hang-out for teens, young and old, in the whole southern coastal Maine area.

Perhaps an explanation is in order. First off, the Jimmy Jack’s Diner we are referring to is the one on Main Street (really U.S. Route One but everybody calls it Main Street just to be in tune with the seven million other Main Streets that are really part of some state or federal road system and are just as forgettable in the dreary pass through towns of wayward America) down by the old long closed MacAdams Textile Mills, the one with the primo jukebox I just mentioned. The other Jimmy Jack’s Diner, the one over on Atlantic Avenue heading to the beach, is strictly for the early supper, two dinners for the price of one before six, Monday through Thursday, discounts for seniors all day, every day, and tourista in summer, place. With no jukebox, and with no need for such an object to draw the oldsters in.

Second, don’t be fooled by the Jimmy Jack thing, like it was some wayward down home Alabama or Mississippi thing. That’s a vanilla American thing that Billy’s father, real name Jean Jacques LaCroix, picked out when everybody after World War II wanted to leave their heritage behind and drop hyphens. Billy, Jimmy Jack, hell, even Josh Breslin on his mother‘s side (nee Leblanc) are nothing but French-American from way back, not Parisian types though but from Canada, you know Quebec or Nova Scotia, places like that.

And don’t get any idea, any idea at all that Billy LaCroix, or Jimmy Jack’s Diner’s jukebox, is filled up with hokey Cajun ancient Arcadian twos-step jolie blon memory accordion stuff. No Billy is not the king hell king of, maybe prince, given his age, of that kingdom but the, like I said before, be-bop teen night. That means rock, rock and rock for the squares, maybe a doo-wop tune or a weeper for the girls just to keep things interesting. And that has been true for a while.

Here’s how it works. Mr. LaCroix (although everybody calls him Jimmy Jack, except Mrs. LaCroix who still calls him some romanticky, smoochy, lovey-dovey, Jean Jacques, for some reason) figured out that with two diners in one town he wanted to cater to two different clienteles. You already know about the nursing home diner over on Atlantic Avenue for cheapos trying to impress nobody since everybody is already married. But the real Jimmy Jack’s with jukebox in tow is now strictly for teen-agers, for those who want to be teenagers but can’t because they are too old (or too young, maybe), and at night, especially weekend nights a little older crowd, a motorcycle and hot road crowd really for action but in need of early evening or late night (Jimmy Jack’s is open 24/7) refreshments and a little hot music to get things going. And to check out, ya, check out the honeys who line up around the place to be checked out. But you figured that out already. I hope.

And this is where Billy comes in, although now that you know some stuff asking Josh that question about who had the best jukebox was nothing but pure vanity on his part. His part now that he is king, or prince or something. But what got Jimmy Jack pushing the teen scene business is from the time he met Stu Miller, the king hell king and not no prince either but a real king of the hot road night, the only serious night around Olde Saco. Stu came into Jimmy Jack’s one day, one afternoon, from what I heard, for some coffee and. Business was a little slow so they got to talking and during the conversation Stu mentioned that the joint could use a jukebox so that kids who wanted to hear the latest tunes about twelve times in a row could do so in comfort, maybe dance a little, and just hang out.

Jimmy Jack didn’t think much of the idea while Stu was talking until about a half hour later while they were still mulling it over, pro and con, at least fifteen girls began filling up the booths and ordering Cokes and. And, of course, if fifteen girls are, just casually after a hard day looking beautiful at school and all, sitting in any public space for more than two minutes then, like lemmings to the nearby sea, thirty guys are going to be hanging around the booths ordering their Pepsi and. Of course, the real draw was Stu and his custom-built ’57 fire red Chevy that every girl in town, and from what I heard a few women, a couple married, wanted a ride in. And enough had, girls and women both, so that hanging around old Jimmy Jack’s, or any place else was just plain good luck for any girl (or woman) looking to try her luck.

You know, naturally, that Stu still has a special parking spot out in front of Jimmy Jack’s and no one, not police or anybody, had better be seen in it, or else. What you don’t know is that once Stu made Jimmy Jack’s his headquarters the jukebox was a sure thing and the master mad man in charge of keeping the machine filled with the latest hits and throwing out last week’s faded flowers was none other than Billy LaCroix. And his vanity question. And although Josh, as is his wont, will probably be scratching his head for a while over why Billy asked that question one and all should know that what makes Jimmy Jack’s jukebox jump is one William La Croix.

See Billy, since about the age of eight, has had an ear for the rumble coming out of the hills of rock and roll, for the real deal stuff, and the fakos too. So you can be sure that there will be plenty of Brenda Lee and her All Alone Am I and Break It To Me Gently for the swooning girls, and guys who have just been dumped by their true loves and couldn’t express themselves better than listening to Brenda eighty-six times to get over it, and they do. Get over it, that is. And the Drifters up-beat Up On The Roof (and whatever dream image that roof brings to mind) will get play as will the soapy Everley Brothers’ Crying In Rain. And Billy says Shelley Fabares’ Johnny Angel is nothing but candy for those self-same swooning girls and, get this, guys too because she looks kind of innocent foxy the way a lot of guys like their frills.

Jesus, you know every last dance dee-jay is hoping and praying that nobody ever, ever gets tired of last dance of the night because ‘Til by The Angels is built for nothing but last dance time. And every guy is hoping he gets lucky, and girls too. By the way forget Neil Sedaka’s Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, The Lettermen’s When I Fall In Love and Brian Hyland’s Sealed With A Kiss. Strictly faded flowers. You see what I mean. Ya, Jimmy Jack’s was the best.

Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night- Josh Breslin’s Chucks-In Honor Of Chuck Taylor, Or Rather His Sneakers-A CD Review

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Ruby and the Romantics performing their classic teen angst song, Our Day Will Come.

CD Review

Super Hits 1963, various artists, Time-Life Music, 1991

Scene brought to mind by the cover that graces this CD. Simple, very simple. A pair, black, of course, of Chuck Taylor Hi-Top sneakers (minus the trademark logo here). For those who are clueless, Chuck Taylor was an ancient (and white, very white too) 1930s (or so) professional basketball player whose trademark were these hi-top sneakers that in the 1960s were sold with his famous Chuck Taylor logo on them. I had a bunch of pairs, black of course, in my Jack Kerouac /Allen Ginsberg Harvard Square Hayes-Bickford all night dive “beat” minute along with my black uncuffed chinos, flannel short, red bandana and midnight sunglasses before I turned, full-bore to generation of ’68 hip-hop concerns. Different ‘style,’ same concerns.

Since that time there have been periodic revivals, the early 1980 and mid-1990’s come to mind, (including what looks like a resurgence now) of these note-worthy items. I, naturally, tipped my hat to the trend and bought that mandatory bunch of pairs, black, of course. Now that I see resurgence, although about seven different knee, ankle and hip problems preclude any but a ritualistic symbolic purchase, I will buy a pair, black, of course. Today though, if one can even utter such sacrilege, they are in all colors of the rainbow. There are even low-tops (although how uncool is that) and, mercy, in an age of complete sneaker kill there are imitation Chucks (minus the Chuck logo, un-cool, don’t even say it).

What makes this all remarkable, remarkable to my old eyes, is that these are the very sneaker, although rather primitive by today’s techno-scientifically driven, aero-dynamically precise, lighter than air float, fleet-footed wedge of a sneaker, that Josh Breslin wore to win the Maine state championship in the mile for Olde Saco High School back in the day, the 1967 day. As he has reminded just recently, in case I might have forgotten a hard fact that he has repeated constantly since I first meet him wearing those same sneakers, or same style, black, of course up on a San Francisco Russian Hill park in the summer of love in the year of our lord, 1967. And if you do not know that particular summer of love reference and think it was, or is, just some reference to your average, ordinary, plain vanilla version of summer love like happens every summer when boy meets girl, or girl meets boy, or name your particular combination these days, well hell’s bells, go look it up in Wikipedia.

Oh, sorry, you don’t know Josh Breslin or have never heard of him. Well, I guess, probably not, but he like about twelve million other guys (and gals) had Olympic dreams, or at least Olympic –sized dream based on that silly little local schoolboy win. Moreover, Josh based that big time dream, more understandably, understandably to these ears, on the fiercest desire to get out from under his working poor roots. Ya, Josh’s is that kind of story, another in a long line of such stories, but a story nevertheless. And although he told me the story a long time ago it always kind of stuck with me since I too had some dreams, not Olympic dreams, or Olympic-sized dreams for that matter, but shared his great desire to get out from under my own low-rent working poor roots. That’s probably, although Josh is a few years younger than I am, why when we meet in the summer of love in 1967 out in day-glo, merry prankster, magical mystery tour, yellow brick road San Francisco we kind of hit it off right away. Even though he “stole” my girl, Butterfly Swirl (real name Kathleen Callahan from down in Carlsbad in that same California dream night, Ya, it was that kind of time, read up on it like I said), right from under my nose. But to his story.
Josh Breslin, church mouse proud, poor as a church mouse proud, maybe poorer, just like his father, Prescott, never liked to show how poor he was, especially after his father lost his job in the MacAdams Textile Mills after that firm fled south for cheaper labor and left many in Olde Saco, that’s up in coastal podunk Maine, with not much to scratch by on. With the years Prescott’s dreams faded to insect size, maybe ant size, but Josh, once he got to be about eleven or twelve just decided one day that way, that dreamless father dream way, was not for him. Let’s just leave it at that for his motivation, and that seems about right for the eight millions strains that a young boy is under, and puts himself under.

But like many twelve- year olds what the hell is he going to do about it. Too young to work, to young and clueless to take off on some bum freighter, or smoke dream freight train. In short, no prospects, no hit you in the head with prospects. Then one day, one late fall day Josh, walking down to Olde Saco Beach after school, purple paisley-print hand-me-down shirt from older brother, untucked, chinos, uncuffed, (signifying not cool, not cool in Olde Saco boy teen world, but cuffed were more expensive and that argument won the day, the Mother Breslin day), and wore buster brown shoes to guide him through early tween-hood just started to run once he hit the sand, and he kept running for long while, long enough to work up a serious sweat, and get rid of some serious angst, tween variety.

And that simply enough is how it started. Now at twelve or so he was no speed demon, and too ill-formed physically to have endurance yet but he was on a roll and for a couple of years he just ran, ran to get some sweat up, and take some of that angst crust off. By the time he reached Olde Saco High in the ninth grade he had something of a reputation as a guy who ran (and as a loner, except for the odd girl or seven who fell for his “from hunger” but “cute” routine but that, like the later, ah, Butterfly Swirl “theft” incident is not part of the story so we will move on) so, naturally, the cross country coach (who also tripled as indoor and out track coach), “recruited” him to the teams. Grade 9 Josh was something of a bust because he tried to keep pace with the older boys rather than run at his own pace, and part of grade 10 too, but anyone could see that he had plenty of determination to run, and seek his glory by running. This was the ticket out, the way out.

There is no need to go into detail about his training regimen (running the dunes, beach work, mainly) or that toward the end of tenth grade he started to beat the older boys not just at Olde Saco but around southern Maine too. You can look that stuff up. What you can’t look up, at least in any record book, is how Josh in his senior year won it all, won the Maine state one mile championship that was going to propel him to, well, Olympic heights. And the key? Josh, sometime in the eleventh grade got hold of a pair of Chuck Taylor’s. ( I won’t bore you with the black, of course tag) Why, well, in those pre-techno-wiz sneakers with bells and whistles crazed days because they were cheap, all Prescott could afford for his son. Now Chuck’s may have had (and have) a certain cache as basketball shoes, and maybe even by the time Josh started winning a lot a certain “cool” cache with the girls but to win races, even podunk state championship races, you needed real track shoes, Adidas, stuff like that. Not Josh though. The kid he beat from Auburn upstate had them but there was young Josh in the winner’s circle with his old clickety-clack Chuck’s.

More than one Olde Saco girl who had not previously fallen for his “from hunger” act started calling him up in the night. Late at night. Including one cheerleader-type who practically stalked him and who when she introduced herself stated “I didn’t know Olde Saco had a track team.” Oh, well. Now I wish that I could say that Josh then went on to fame and fortune as a runner. In those days, unlike now when there is real dough in the thing, runners as a species were “from hunger” and so that dream energy went into other stuff. But, hell, it still is a good story, right? Especially that "cool with the girls" part. I know Butterfly Swirl liked his “kicks” (code name for Chuck’s among the aficionados) out in that warm San Francisco summer of love night. Damn Josh and his damn silly sneakers.

A Call To Action-United National Antiwar Coalition Conference-March 23-25,2012 - Stamford Hilton Hotel, CT

Click on the headline to link to the United National Antiwar Coalition website for details on workshops, directions, registration and accommodations.

A Call To Action-United National Antiwar Coalition Conference-March 23-25,2012 - Stamford Hilton Hotel, CT


March 23-25,2012 - Stamford Hilton Hotel, CT

The US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the G-8 world economic powers will meet in Chicago, May 15-22,2012 to plan their economic and military strategies for the coming period. These military, financial, and political leaders, who serve the 1 % at home and abroad, impose austerity on the 99% to expand their profits, often by drones, armies, and police.

Just as there is a nationally-coordinated attempt to curb the organized dissent of the Occupy Wall St. movements, the federal and local authorities want to deny us our constitutional rights to peacefully and legally protest within sight and sound range of the NATO/G-8 Summits. We must challenge them and bring thousands to Chicago to stand in solidarity with all those fighting US-backed austerity and war around the globe.

To plan these actions and further actions against the program of endless war of the global elite, we will meet in a large national conference March 23-25 in Stamford CT. This conference will bring to¬gether activists from the occupy movements, and the antiwar, social justice and environmental move¬ments. We will demand that Washington Bring Our War Dollars Home Now! and use these trillions immediately for human needs.

The conference program will feature movement leaders, educators, grassroots activists, 40 workshops, and discussion/voting sessions on an action program. A partial list of presenters include: Ann Wright, Bill McKibben, Glen Ford, Vijay Prashad, Saadia Toor, Cynthia McKinney, Malik Mujahid, Ian Angus, Monami Maulik, Elliot Adams, Bruce Gagnon, David Swanson, Lucy Pagoada, and Clarence Thomas.

A conference highlight will be the relationship between the Wars Abroad and the racist War at Home on the Black Community, addressing unemployment, the New Jim Crow of mass incarceration, police brutality, the prison industry, and the racist death penalty.

Workshop Topics Include:

Occupy Wall St. & the Fight Against War x Global Economic Crisis Climate Crisis and War oo Women and War oo War at Home on Black Community oo War on the U.S.-Mexico Border oc Islamophobia as a Tool of War oo War and Labor's Fight Back oo Defense of Iran oo Afghanistan after Ten Years of Occupation oo Is the U.S. Really Withdrawing from Iraq? oo War on Pakistan oo Updates on Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Yemen oo What Next for the Arab Spring? oo Occupation of Haiti oo U.S. Intervention in Honduras, Colombia, and the rest of Latin America x> Drone Warfare and Weapons in Space oo Fight for Our Right to Protest oo Civil Liberties oo Guantanamo, Torture and Rendition oo U.S. Combat Troops Involved in New Scramble for Africa oo Somalia oc Control of Media oo Imperialism oc Nonviolence & Direct Action oo Palestine: UN Recognized Statehood or Civil Resistance oc Breaking the Siege of Gaza & Ending Occupation oo Veterans Rights oo Immigrant Rights and War °o No War, No Warming oo Bring Our War $$ Home Campaigns.


March 1st, 2012: National Day of Action For Education-All Out For The Boston Action-Assemble Dewey Square- 1:00 PM

Click on the title to link to the College Occupy Boston website for more details on the March 1st actions in Boston.

Markin comment:

Free, quality higher education for all- Create 100, 200, many publicly-funded Harvards!

March 1st, 2012: National Day of Action For Education

Posted on February 16, 2012 by romina

0 Comments and 1 Reaction

Statement from Occupy Education:

We refuse to pay for the crisis created by the 1%. We refuse to accept the dismantling of our schools and universities, while the banks and corporations make record profits. We refuse to accept educational re-segregation, massive tuition increases, outrageous student debt, and increasing privatization and corporatization.

They got bailed out and we got sold out. But through nationally coordinated mass action we can and will turn back the tide of austerity.

We call on all students, teachers, workers, and parents from all levels of education —pre-K-12 through higher education in public and private institutions— and all Occupy assemblies, labor unions, and organizations of oppressed communities, to mobilize on March 1st, 2012 across the country to tell those in power: The resources exist for high-quality education for all. If we make the rich and the corporations pay we can reverse the budget cuts, tuition hikes, and attacks on job security, and fully fund public education and social services.

This is a call to work together, but it is up to each school and organization to determine what local and regional actions—such as strikes, walkouts, occupations, marches, etc.—they will take to say no to business as usual.

We have the momentum, the numbers, and the determination to win. Education is not for sale. Let’s take back our schools. Let’s make history.

For more information:

Facebook page: March 1st National Day of Action for Education

Facebook event page: March 1st National Day of Action for Education

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Latest From The “Occupy May 1st” Website- March Separately, Strike Together –International General Strike- Down Tools! Down Computers! Down Books!- All Out On May Day 2012- Why You, Your Union, Or Your Community Organization Needs To Join The May Day 2012 General Strike In Boston-Stand Up!-Fight Back!

Click on the headline to link to updates from the Occupy May 1st website. Occupy May Day which has called for an international General Strike on May Day 2012. I will post important updates as they appear on that site.
An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend The Occupation Movement And All The Occupiers! Drop All Charges Against All Occupy Protesters Everywhere!

Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It, It’s Ours! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!
OB Endorses Call for General Strike

January 8th, 2012 • mhacker •

Passed Resolutions No comments The following proposal was passed by the General Assembly on Jan 7, 2012:

Occupy Boston supports the call for an international General Strike on May 1, 2012, for immigrant rights, environmental sustainability, a moratorium on foreclosures, an end to the wars, and jobs for all. We recognize housing, education, health care, LGBT rights and racial equality as human rights; and thus call for the building of a broad coalition that will ensure and promote a democratic standard of living for all peoples.

Why You, Your Union, Or Your Community Organization Needs To Join The May Day 2012 General Strike In Boston-Stand Up!-Fight Back!

Last fall there were waves of politically-motivated repressive police attacks on, and evictions of, various Occupy camp sites throughout the country including where the movement started in Zucotti (Liberty) Park. But even before the evictions and
repression escalated, questions were being asked: what is the way forward for the movement? And, from friend and foe alike, the ubiquitous what do we want. We have seen since then glimpses of organizing and action that are leading the way for the rest of us to follow: the Oakland General Strike on November 2nd, the West Coast Port Shutdown actions of December 12th, Occupy Foreclosures, including, most recently, renewed support for the struggles of the hard-pressed longshoremen in Longview, Washington. These actions show that, fundamentally, all of the strategic questions revolve around the question of power. The power, put simply, of the 99% vs. the power of the 1%.

Although the 99% holds enormous power -all wealth is generated, and the
current society is built and maintained through, the collective labor
(paid and unpaid) of the 99%-, we seldom exercise this vast collective power in our own interests. Too often, abetted and egged on by the 1%, we fruitlessly fight among ourselves driven by racism, patriarchy, xenophobia, occupational elitism, geographical prejudice, heterosexism, and other forms of division, oppression and prejudice.

This consciously debilitating strategy on its part is necessary, along with its control of politics, the courts, the prisons, the cops, and the military in order for the 1% to maintain control over us in order not to have to worry about their power and wealth. Their ill-gotten power is only assured by us, actively or passively, working against ours our best interests. Moreover many of us are not today fully aware of, nor organized to utilize, the vast collective power we have. The result is that many of us - people of color, women, GLBTQ, immigrants, those with less formal educational credentials, those in less socially respected occupations or unemployed, the homeless, and the just plain desperate- deal with double and triple forms of oppression and societal prejudice.

Currently the state of the economy has hit all of us hard, although as usual the less able to face the effects are hit the hardest like racial minorities, the elderly, the homeless and those down on their luck due to prolonged un and under- employment. In short, there are too many people out of work; wage rates have has barely kept up with rising costs or gone backwards to near historic post-World War II lows in real time terms; social services like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security have continued to be cut; our influence on their broken, broken for us, government has eroded; and our civil liberties have been seemingly daily attacked en masse. These trends have has been going on while the elites of this country, and of the world, have captured an increasing share of wealth; have had in essence a tax holiday for the past few decades; have viciously attacked our organizations of popular defense such as our public and private unions and community organizations; and have increase their power over us through manipulating their political system even more in their favor than previously.

The way forward, as we can demonstrate by building for the May Day actions, must involve showing our popular power against that of the entrenched elite. But the form of our power, reflecting our different concepts of governing, must be different from the elite’s. Where they have created powerful capitalist profit-driven top down organizations in order to dominate, control, exploit and oppress we must build and exercise bottom-up power in order to cooperate, liberate and collectively empower each other. We need to organize ourselves collectively and apart from these top down power relationships in our communities, schools and workplaces in order to to fight for our real interests. This must include a forthright rejection of the 1%’s attempts, honed after long use, to divide and conquer in order to rule us. A rejection of racism, patriarchy, xenophobia, elitism and other forms of oppression, and, importantly, a rejection of attempts by their electoral parties, mainly the Democrats and Republicans but others as well, powerful special interest groups, and others to co-opt and control our movement.

The Occupy freedom of assembly-driven encampments initially built the mass movement and brought a global spotlight to the bedrock economic and social concerns of the 99%. They inspired many of us, including those most oppressed, provided a sense of hope and solidarity with our fellow citizens and the international 99%, and brought the question of economic justice and the problems of inequality and political voiceless-ness grudgingly back into mainstream political conversation. Moreover they highlighted the need for the creation of cultures, societies, and institutions of direct democracy based on "power with"- not "power over"- each other; served as convivial spaces for sharing ideas and planning action; and in some camps, they even provided a temporary space for those who needed a home. Last fall the camp occupations served a fundamental role in the movement, but it is now time to move beyond the camp mentality and use our energies to struggle to start an offensive against the power of the 1%. On our terms.

Show Power

We demand:

*Hands Off Our Public Worker Unions! Hands Off All Our Unions!

* Put the unemployed to work! Billions for public works projects to fix America’s broken infrastructure (bridges, roads, sewer and water systems, etc.)!

Guest Commentary

From The Transitional Program Of The Leon Trotsky-Led Fourth International In 1938Sliding Scale of Wages and Sliding Scale of Hours

Under the conditions of disintegrating capitalism, the masses continue to live the meagerized life of the oppressed, threatened now more than at any other time with the danger of being cast into the pit of pauperism. They must defend their mouthful of bread, if they cannot increase or better it. There is neither the need nor the opportunity to enumerate here those separate, partial demands which time and again arise on the basis of concrete circumstances – national, local, trade union. But two basic economic afflictions, in which is summarized the increasing absurdity of the capitalist system, that is, unemployment and high prices, demand generalized slogans and methods of struggle.

The Fourth International declares uncompromising war on the politics of the capitalists which, to a considerable degree, like the politics of their agents, the reformists, aims to place the whole burden of militarism, the crisis, the disorganization of the monetary system and all other scourges stemming from capitalism’s death agony upon the backs of the toilers. The Fourth International demands employment and decent living conditions for all.

Neither monetary inflation nor stabilization can serve as slogans for the proletariat because these are but two ends of the same stick. Against a bounding rise in prices, which with the approach of war will assume an ever more unbridled character, one can fight only under the slogan of a sliding scale of wages. This means that collective agreements should assure an automatic rise in wages in relation to the increase in price of consumer goods.

Under the menace of its own disintegration, the proletariat cannot permit the transformation of an increasing section of the workers into chronically unemployed paupers, living off the slops of a crumbling society. The right to employment is the only serious right left to the worker in a society based upon exploitation. This right today is left to the worker in a society based upon exploitation. This right today is being shorn from him at every step. Against unemployment, “structural” as well as “conjunctural,” the time is ripe to advance along with the slogan of public works, the slogan of a sliding scale of working hours. Trade unions and other mass organizations should bind the workers and the unemployed together in the solidarity of mutual responsibility. On this basis all the work on hand would then be divided among all existing workers in accordance with how the extent of the working week is defined. The average wage of every worker remains the same as it was under the old working week. Wages, under a strictly guaranteed minimum, would follow the movement of prices. It is impossible to accept any other program for the present catastrophic period.

Property owners and their lawyers will prove the “unrealizability” of these demands. Smaller, especially ruined capitalists, in addition will refer to their account ledgers. The workers categorically denounce such conclusions and references. The question is not one of a “normal” collision between opposing material interests. The question is one of guarding the proletariat from decay, demoralization and ruin. The question is one of life or death of the only creative and progressive class, and by that token of the future of mankind. If capitalism is incapable of satisfying the demands inevitably arising from the calamities generated by itself, then let it perish. “Realizability” or “unrealizability” is in the given instance a question of the relationship of forces, which can be decided only by the struggle. By means of this struggle, no matter what immediate practical successes may be, the workers will best come to understand the necessity of liquidating capitalist slavery.

*End the endless wars!

* Full citizenship rights for all those who made it here no matter how they got here!

* A drastic increase in the minimum wage and big wage increases for all workers!

* A moratorium on home foreclosures! No evictions!

* A moratorium on student loan debt! Free, quality higher education for all! Create 100, 200, many publicly-supported Harvards!

*No increases in public transportation fares! No transportation worker lay-offs! Free public transportation!

To order to flex our collective bottom up power on May 1, 2012 we will be organizing a wide-ranging series of mass collective participatory actions:

*We will be organizing within our unions- or informal workplace organizations where there is no union - a one-day general strike.

*We will be organizing where a strike is not possible to call in sick, or take a personal day, as part of a coordinated “sick-out.”

*We will be organizing students to walk-out of their schools (or not show up in the first place), set up campus picket lines, or to rally at a central location, probably Boston Common.

*We will be calling in our communities for a mass consumer boycott, and with local business support where possible, refuse to make purchases on that day.

These actions, given the ravages of the capitalist economic system on individual lives, the continuing feelings of hopelessness felt by many, the newness of many of us to collective action, and the slender ties to past class and social struggles will, in many places, necessarily be a symbolic show of power. But let us take and use the day as a wake up call by a risen people.

And perhaps just as important as this year’s May Day itself , the massive organizing and outreach efforts in the months leading up to May 1st will allow us the opportunity to talk to our co-workers, families, neighbors, communities, and friends about the issues confronting us, the source of our power, the need for us to stand up to the attacks we are facing, the need to confront the various oppressions that keep most of us down in one way or another and keep all of us divided, and the need for us to stand in solidarity with each other in order to fight for our collective interests. In short, as one of the street slogans of movement says –“they say cut back, we say fight back.” We can build our collective consciousness, capacity, and confidence through this process; and come out stronger because of it.

Watch this website and other social media sites for further specific details of events and actions.

All out in Boston on May Day 2012.