Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trump Prepares Vicious Attacks - We Must Prepare Massive Resistance-The Cold Civil War Has Begun-Down With The Trump Government!

Trump Prepares Vicious Attacks - We Must Prepare Massive Resistance

by Tom Crean and Philip Locker

Trump’s victory in the presidential election two weeks ago was a profound shock to tens of millions of progressive workers, young people, immigrants, women, people of color, Muslims and LGBTQ people across the US. As Trump’s reactionary cabinet appointments have been announced and the list of targets of his administration has become clearer there is enormous fear and anger in many communities.
Many are waiting to see how events unfold or hoping against hope that Trump will see reason and moderate his positions. But the reported plans to deport three million people, establish a “registry” for Muslims, criminalize dissent, and nominate a Supreme Court justice who will vote to overturn Roe v Wade and shred union rights in the public sector are not idle threats.
Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets across the country and the mood to resist is growing. Socialist Alternative called many of the first protests which were dominated by young people. But now we are seeing wider forces preparing for what will be truly massive protests around Trump’s inauguration, particularly the Women’s March on Washington DC on January 21. We and Socialist Students are also focusing on building student walkouts across the country on the actual day of the inauguration, January 20, which could become the biggest coordinated student actions since the Vietnam War. Socialist Alternative, with Socialist Students and Movement for the 99%, aims to raise $25,000 by the end of December to fund the youth-led, national mass student walkouts. Please help us reach that by donating $25 today. 
No Mandate
The truth is that Trump’s racist, misogynist agenda does not have a popular mandate. Votes are still being counted but despite winning in the undemocratic throwback Electoral College, Trump only got 46.4% of the popular vote and Clinton now has a lead of over two million.
Some leading Democrats have continued with their pathetic attempt to blame the outcome of the election on FBI director Comey – who reopened the investigation into Clinton’s emails in the final days of the campaign – Bernie Sanders supporters, or even Jill Stein and the Greens. But even those sections of the corporate media which backed Clinton to the hilt have had to partially acknowledge that the outcome was more a defeat for the Democrats than a victory for Trump.
Exit polls showed that fully 20% of Trump voters (approximately 12 million voters) had an unfavorable view of him. As the Washington Post said, “There is no precedent for a candidate winning the Presidency with fewer voters viewing him favorably, or looking forward to his administration, than the loser.”
The underlying reality in the US remains, as we have said, huge political and social polarization. Big sections of society moved to the left in recent years. This was expressed in Occupy, the fight for $15, BLM, mass support for marriage equality and more recently for Native people at Standing Rock. But without doubt the most dramatic expression of this trend were the millions, especially young people, who supported Bernie Sanders’ call for a political revolution against the billionaire class. At the end of the day, Clinton’s status quo campaign had no appeal to those hostile to the ruling elite and simply failed to energize and mobilize progressive Americans in sufficient numbers despite the fear of Trump. As the roughly 54% election turnout showed, tens of millions of Americans simply saw no point in choosing between the two most unpopular presidential candidates in the country’s history.
This has led to the situation where the right now controls the White House as well as both Houses of Congress. In 23 states the Republicans have control of all three branches of government. This gives the right enormous institutional power. There is also the real danger of an energized hard right sinking roots. But there is huge potential power in the opposition to Trump especially if the social power of the working class can be brought to bear. Trump’s agenda is beatable but it will require the most profound social struggle since the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 60s and 70s.
Trump’s Appointments
In the past week, Trump’s transition team has announced a series of appointments to cabinet and adviser positions in the White House. This includes Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General; Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff; Steve Bannon as Trump’s main adviser and General Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, represents the Republican establishment which is reactionary enough. Bannon, however, who was the CEO of Trump’s campaign in the fall, was previously the chairman of Breitbart News which is one of the central platforms for the hard right, white supremacist “alt-right.” Sessions was rejected by a Republican-controlled Senate in the 80s for a position in the federal judiciary because he was simply too racist even for them, while Flynn rants about Islam being “like a cancer.” It is a bit difficult to know which of these disgusting reactionaries we should be most alarmed about.
Further appointments before Thanksgiving include Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education and Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development. DeVos is a billionaire advocate of charter schools and vouchers and a vicious opponent of public education.
But in appointing Nikki Haley, the Governor of South Carolina, as US representative to the UN, Trump may be seeking to put a bit of balance into this toxic mix. While Haley was elected as a Tea Party Republican she is also remembered for having pushed through the removal of the Confederate Flag as the state’s official symbol after the killing of nine black churchgoers by white supremacist Dylan Roof. This is a bit of a poke in the eye to Trump’s far right fans. Trump may try to go further in this “balancing act”. For example, he now says that he will not pursue further investigations of Hillary Clinton’s emails or the Clinton Foundation.
Trump’s Agenda Becomes Clearer
But while Trump may try to inject some “balance” in his appointments and talks of “healing the wounds” of the campaign, this should in no way blind people to the deeply reactionary plans for the beginning of this billionaire-led administration.
It is amply clear that Trump intends to deliver on the threat to deport three million immigrants. He intends to do in months what it took the Obama administration eight years to accomplish as it deported 2.7 million. There will also be a special focus on Muslim immigrants under the cover of “fighting ISIS,” with the threat of a national registry of all Muslims being raised.
This will be linked to a recasting of US policy in the Middle East as an existential struggle with “radical Islamic terrorists.” Both Bush and Obama sought to avoid lumping all the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims together as part of the “enemy” but Trump may be prepared to go in this direction. This is highly alarming to US allies who fear that it would lead to a massive expansion of conflict in the coming period even if ISIS suffers further defeat on the battleground.
Clearly Trump will nominate an outright reactionary to the Supreme Court who could go after Roe v Wade and it is very possible that he will be make a further appointment during the next four years. This comes after years of relentless attacks on women’s reproductive rights by Republican-dominated Southern state legislatures.
There is also clear intent to go after union rights. The public sector unions dodged a bullet last year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the Supreme Court’s 4-4 tie in the Friedrichs case. The effect of this case succeeding would have meant extending anti-union “right to work” rules which exist in Republican run states to the entire national public sector.
There will definitely be an attempt to revive Friedrichs. Trump’s team sees Scott Walker’s successful campaign to eviscerate public sector unions in Wisconsin as a model. But the administration’s more immediate target will be the unions representing federal employees and those workers’ rights and benefits. They undoubtedly see the federal workforce as a soft target which will not elicit much sympathy. If they succeed this will then allow them to ramp up the anti-union campaign more broadly.
Trump intends to gut environmental protection in the name of “bringing back jobs” as in the energy sector. But the main reason the coal industry has collapsed is due to market factors, especially the extremely low price of oil and natural gas.
Finally there is a clear desire to criminalize political dissent linked to Trump’s ominous talk about a “law and order” offensive. Key Trump ally and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has talked about bringing back the McCarthy era House Un-American Activities Committee which launched an anti-communist witchhunt in the 1950s. Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, another key Trump surrogate and possible appointee, has described the Black Lives Matter movement as “inherently racist” and “un-American”. Chris Christie claimed BLM called for killing police officers.
Taken as a whole this is the most reactionary agenda of any administration since at least Ronald Reagan. However, to be clear Trump will also push populist measures like infrastructure spending and paid parental leave. He will halt negotiation of further trade deals as part of a protectionist shift. At this point the Trans Pacific Partnership which represented a serious threat to workers rights and the environment is dead in the water. A section of the working class and middle class has real expectations based on Trump’s promises to bring back manufacturing and good jobs. They will be severely disappointed but perhaps not immediately.
The Lessons of the Past
The stakes now are extremely high. Trump will seek to inflict severe and demoralizing defeats by picking off one target at a time. All sections of society targeted by Trump must therefore unite their forces from the start.
The old slogan of the labor movement – “an injury to one is an injury to all” – was never more relevant. And the labor movement has a key role to play in this situation. Despite its long retreat the unions still represent 16 million workers and retain strength in some industrial sectors but especially the public sector and in key cities that will be central to the resistance against Trump.
The social power of working people uniting all parts of a mass movement must be counterposed to the institutional power of the right. The mass protests around the inauguration are a crucial first step. How events unfold after January 20 is very difficult to say but there are critical lessons which must be drawn out from previous battles against the right wing in this country.
After Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, the air traffic controllers’ union PATCO went on strike. Reagan decided to turn this into a showdown with labor as a whole by firing all the members of this union which had actually endorsed him in the election! There was an enormous willingness in the still-strong labor movement to fight back. Tens of thousands would have responded to a call from the AFL-CIO for mass pickets to shut down key airports.
Labor Day in 1981 saw 250,000 workers march in Washington DC with the PATCO workers at their head. But the union leadership criminally refused to extend the strike, PATCO was smashed and the labor movement was put decisively on the defensive. The defeat is what is remembered but what is equally important is that Reagan could have been beaten which would have changed the entire dynamic and encouraged the further development of a mass movement to defeat the rest of Reagan’s neo-liberal agenda.
In 2006, the Republican-dominated House passed the Sensenbrenner Bill which threatened mass deportations of all undocumented workers in the US and their families and made it a crime to help them. This sparked the biggest mass demonstrations in US history including the “day without an immigrant” on May 1 which had elements of a general strike of Latino immigrant workers. The movement beat back the bill and also pushed back anti-immigrant attitudes for a period. But although many were sympathetic with the stand of millions of immigrants demanding citizenship rights and “equal rights for all workers,” the native born working class largely stood on the sidelines. This allowed the Bush administration to eventually move to savagely repress the movement especially the section of immigrant workers that was actively moving to unionize.
In 2010, Scott Walker was elected Governor of Wisconsin. He and the Republican-controlled legislature moved to impose savage cutbacks in education but also cripple public sector unions by stripping their right to collectively bargain over anything besides wages. Even then they were no longer allowed to negotiate wage increases above inflation. Part of the legislation also stipulated that all public sector unions had to hold recertification votes on a yearly basis. This was the most serious frontal attack on the labor movement since the PATCO strike. Tens of thousands marched on a weekly basis in the state capital Madison in early 2011 in the largest protests in Wisconsin history, and the capitol building itself was occupied for weeks on end.
Beating Walker required escalating the movement. Socialist Alternative argued for a one day public sector general strike as a first step in this direction. There was an enormously positive response from workers to this idea but the national leadership of the AFL-CIO, as in 1981, put on the brakes. Rather than escalate they de-escalated and advocated a campaign to recall Scott Walker, i.e. to get a Democrat elected. This strategy failed comprehensively and Walker is still in office today.
The Right Is Beatable
As in 1981, 2006, and 2011, the right can be beaten but only with an effective strategy and an utterly determined leadership. There are several factors that can help the movement. First of all, unlike in the 1980s when neo-liberalism had a real base of social support including within sections of the working and middle classes, right wing ideology has a weaker social grip today. The far right is emboldened by Trump’s victory but they are far from establishing a mass base in their own right.
Also the ruling class remains on the whole deeply unhappy about Trump’s accession to power. They see him as potentially highly damaging to their global and domestic interests. It is true that at the moment markets are factoring in the possibility of economic growth under Trump because of infrastructure spending and ending DC gridlock. Wall Street also supports his proposals to cut taxes further for the superrich and get rid of financial regulation. But there is real possibility of global and domestic recession in next period which would throw a Trump administration into deep crisis.
With or without a recession sections of the ruling class could begin to exert real pressure against Trump, especially if he overreaches and provokes effective mass resistance. They would do this in the wider interest of the system and precisely to cut across the movement. In this context, it is significant that a number of Democratic big city mayors are promising to resist attempts to ban “sanctuary cities” for immigrants despite threats to cut federal funding. Governor Cuomo of New York, a reliable ally of Wall Street, even declared that he, as the grandson of immigrants, should be deported first.
But where was Cuomo as the Obama administration ramped up deportations to record levels? We must place no reliance on corporate Democrats whose anti-working class policies have driven so many into the arms of the right. Instead, a mass movement against Trump must be centered on the social power of working people mobilized to fight for their own independent class interests.
Working Class Unity Against the Right
There has been a vast amount of ink spilled in the media about the “white working class” either vilifying it as one reactionary mass because it is supposedly in lock step behind Trump or trying to “understand” its concerns. We have consistently rejected the narrative that the support for Trump is simply motivated by racism and sexism although that is a real factor for a section of his supporters. We have repeatedly pointed out that Trump, through a right-wing populist and nationalist appeal, tapped into the anger at the effects of neo-liberalism and globalization especially the massive loss of good manufacturing jobs which was partly the result of trade deals like NAFTA. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 5 million manufacturing jobs were lost between 2000 and 2014.
But while some particularly obtuse liberal commentators seem to think that the question of jobs is about defending “white male privilege” the truth is that de-industrialization and the deep retreat of the unions in the private sector had an even more devastating effect on the black working class.
But neither are we blind to the fact that Trump’s open racism, xenophobia and misogyny resonated with a section of his supporters. This is not the first time in history that the accumulated failures of the left and the labor leadership has opened the door to dangerous right wing ideas. This situation can be reversed with a determined mass movement that speaks directly to the common interests of all sections of the working class and firmly opposes racism and sexism.
The truth is far more complicated and contradictory than most liberal commentators seem able to grasp. What is certain is that the Democratic Party establishment has lost the ability to even pretend to speak to working people’s interests, whether white, black or Latino. What was notable in this election was not just a limited (and frequently exaggerated) turn by white workers to the Republicans, but the lack of enthusiasm among young black workers for the Democrats and the incredible nearly 30% vote among Latinos for Trump. As Mike Davis recently pointed out on, “the lower Black turnout in Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia alone would explain most of Clinton’s defeat in the Midwest.” He adds though that the lower turnout was also due to voter suppression, ie traditional Republican election rigging.
The question of Trump’s working class support is not simply a matter of “understanding others.” It is a very real practical question facing the movement. Simply put, to really defeat the right and begin to resume an offensive struggle for the needs of working people, the movement will need to win over sections of Trump’s base. Sanders’ poll numbers against Trump and the huge response he received among working people generally shows that this can be done.
Another section of Trump’s base will not be reached. But it is possible to isolate and defeat the organized far right forces which at this point remain small, though emboldened, and generally extremely unskilful.
The Democrats, the Unions, and the Role of Socialists
A huge debate is opening up among progressive workers and youth about how to defeat Trump. Packed meetings of hundreds, including many organized by Socialist Alternative, are being held around the country.
One argument which at this point has a lot of support is that we must combine building a movement against Trump with a determined effort to “take over” the Democratic Party and make it an instrument that represents the interests of ordinary people rather than Wall Street. This is the argument of Sanders and Our Revolution, as well as the dominant elements in the Democratic Socialists of America.
Given the crisis that has opened up in the Democratic Party due to their incredible failure to defeat the odious Trump, it is understandable why many would be attracted to this perspective. More than at any time in the past 40 years the “centrist” neo-liberal leadership of the party is on the defensive. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren have been strengthened. They are supporting Keith Ellison, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who is standing for chair of the DNC. While Ellison has also received the support of some figures in the establishment like Chuck Schumer, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, who are playing for time and want to avoid deeper division, Ellison’s campaign is now running into pushback from the Obama White House.
Undoubtedly, the Sanders position which stresses the need for movements “from below” is far superior to the craven response of Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO and key Democrats who said they wanted to “work with Trump” or have a “seat at the table.”
We believe in the unity of the widest possible forces in common action against Trump’s attacks. But we strongly disagree with the idea that the corporate Democrats can be turned into an instrument for working people. There is a mistaken idea promoted by some on the left that the Democrats once represented the interests of working people. This was never the case. It is true that the party shifted sharply to the right in the 80s and 90s but this reflected the needs of capitalism in a new period.
The question of the character of the Democrats was sharply posed by Sanders historic campaign earlier this year. This led to ferocious resistance by the party establishment. The lengths to which they were prepared to go to prevent Sanders pro-working class campaign winning has now been fully revealed by Wikileaks.
But even if Sanders had somehow managed to win the rigged primary he would have faced the choice of either capitulating to the demands of the neo-liberal party establishment or having to go to war against their sabotage. This would have meant essentially laying the basis for a new party. As Sanders correctly said to Clinton in the debates you can’t serve the interests of both Wall Street and working people.
A party which stands for working people must first of all advance a bold anti-corporate, working class agenda. But it must also require their elected representatives to refuse all corporate donations and accept only the average income of their constituents like Kshama Sawant, socialist councilmember in Seattle. Most Democratic elected officials would choose to leave the Democrats rather than accept this situation. This is why we will continue to argue for a new party of the 99%.
The movement to defeat Trump’s reactionary agenda will face many challenges. But there is no reason for despair. The enormous determination to fight back already being shown by hundreds of thousands of young people, women, people of color and LGBTQ people points to the potential for building the biggest mass movement in American history which can inflict a decisive blow to the right.
But we have to clearly understand the tasks posed and who our friends and who our enemies are. As we have argued here we need a clear strategy based on the social power of working people. Some might despair given the conservative leadership of the existing unions. But there have also been real signs of life like the Verizon strike earlier this year, the biggest strike in nearly 20 years which beat back the company’s attacks. There is also a developing alliance of progressive unions including National Nurses United, the Communication Workers of America and the Amalgamated Transit Union, all of whom supported Sanders and are now supporting the heroic fight of Native people at Standing Rock. The questions of shaking up, transforming and building unions into democratically run campaigning organizations that can organize and lead struggles will be more and more sharply posed.
At the end of the day, Trump’s ascendancy is a reflection of the deep and growing crisis of the capitalist system whose institutions have been deeply discredited during the last historical period and even more during this election cycle. The ruling class is divided, not sure how to respond. The economic collapse of 2008 and 2009 and the millions of jobs lost and homes foreclosed while the rich have got richer has led to a serious questioning of the system along with the looming climate catastrophe and the exposure of searing racial injustice.
Trump’s presidency will deepen the radicalization of sections of society. Poll after poll indicates growing support for socialism especially among young people. Socialist Alternative is working towards building a new socialist party, based on Marxist politics. The movement we are building will need a clear anti-capitalist, socialist force within it that argues for a working class centered struggle against Trump and the entire system which has totally outlived its usefulness. If you agree, join us!
Subscribe to Socialist Alternative the newspaper today!

Our paper goes beyond just telling the story of frontline struggles. We provide the socialist analysis, strategy, and tactics needed to win. Our pages build on the proven strategies that won two historic victories for Kshama Sawant, the first socialist elected to Seattle City Council in 100 years. Our editorial team brings the experience of leading the fight for $15 to its first major victory in the nation. And the ideas of Socialist Alternative are guiding our fast-growing movement all across the country.

1 Year (10 Issues, Paper) - $25
1 Year (10 Issues, Digital) - $25
Solidarity Rate, 1 Year (10 Issues, Paper) - $50
Solidarity Rate, 1 Year (10 Issues, Digital) - $50
Click here to subscribe

Aint Got No Time For Corner Boys, Part II-Mickey Rourke’s “Diner” ()-A Film Review

Aint Got No Time For Corner Boys, Part II-Mickey Rourke’s “Diner” (1982)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Sam Lowell

Diner, starring Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg, Ellen Barkin, 1982

Hey, around my way, around my growing up working class neighborhood out in Riverdale about forty miles west of Boston in the early 1960s they called them, we called ourselves, corner boys (which would be immortalized in Bruce Springsteen’s song, Jersey Girl, with the line. “aint got no time for corner boys down in the street making all that noise” and that was the truth-the “making all that noise” part). Corner boys: those without much dough, those without a weekend date and no money for a weekend date even if a guy got lucky enough to draw some female companionship, someone who didn’t care about a “boss” car to sit up front in and would accept the bus as a mode of transportation and thus seldom lucky, hung around blessed Tonio’s Pizza Parlor “up the Down” (the corner of Adams and Jefferson Streets) and, well, hung out. Hung out trying to do the best we could and if defeated then there was always a couple of slices of Tonio’s secret formula pizza sauce to die for delight and a small Coke. Hung around in late high school planning larcenies great and small (great the theft of some young woman’s virtue, small the midnight creeps through back doors but maybe no more should be mentioned since perhaps the statute of limitations has not run out.      

So when I saw the film under review, Diner, with a cast of up and coming actors who all went on to other films and saw that they were six guys, count ‘em six, who in 1959 in the great city of Baltimore hung around a diner talking the talk in between bites of French fries and gravy (our pizza slices) I knew that they were kindred spirits. Knew that despite the several years different in time since they were all twenty-something gathering together for a wedding of one of their members around Christmas time they were from the same species. And as the film unwound that proved to be the case.

Here’s the plot. Wait a minute while this the place where I usually give a few lines of summary about what was what in the film this one is not driven by a plot but by the slice of life scenes of a bunch of guys who still have some growing up to do. Scenes such as one guy fake smashing up his car complete with a ketchup injury just to fake his fellows out; the classic trying to “cope a feel” from the best looking “ice queen” in town at the movies (moves I have to confess are more seemly among the middle schoolers today and even my corner boys would sneer at a guy who was into that silliness at twenty-something); guys getting into dough trouble with the constant need to bet on any and all propositions (our most famous one which I lost and am still ticked off about that I even made the bet was how high Tonio could throw the pizza dough in making the crust); guys with girl trouble from the dreaded pregnancy problem in a pre-“Pill” world, marriage issues (which we were too young to worry about in high school the high tide of my particular corner boy existence); and the endless discussions about sports (here a guy quizzed his fiancée on football before he decide he could marry her-ouch!), girls, life on the edge, the future and double-down on girls.

Yes that all looked very, very familiar to these old eyes. The difference? These guys stuck together well into their twenties. By twenty most of my guys were in the military, married, in jail, or on the run. The fate of plenty of real life corner boys making all that noise. See this one.              

Former Class-War Prisoner Speaks-Albert Woodfox: Unbowed, Unbroken

Workers Vanguard No. 1102
16 December 2016
Albert Woodfox: Unbowed, Unbroken
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
We print below Albert Woodfox’s speech to the December 2 New York City Holiday Appeal benefit.
All power to the people! It is an honor for me to be here. I want to thank the Partisan Defense Committee and all the comrades who are here in attendance for asking me to come here and speak before you. Given all the wonderful things that have been said by wonderful comrades before me, I feel like a backup dancer right now.
I guess my message to you is that for those of you who are just entering social struggle, welcome. To those of you who have spent decades, look at me and see that the strength and determination of human spirit defies all evil.
I wish I could say that I can see the horizon. I have been struggling for the last 44 years in solitary confinement. But we just elected a maniac. For those of you who are involved in social struggle, I say: You must be more determined. You must be willing to make whatever sacrifice is necessary because this struggle is not about us.
A young man asked me—we were visiting Harlem—why was I still involved in social struggle? And I thought about it for a moment and I said, “Old men like me struggle so young men like you could know victory.”
For 44 years I defied the State of Louisiana and the Department of Corrections. Their main objective was to break my spirit. I saw other men who had been broken by the state—by the use of other inmates and by the brutality of prison guards. Once a man’s spirit has been broken he can never get it back. He will never be the same. And those are the kind of things that motivated me, my comrades Robert Hillary King and Herman Hooks Wallace, to continue to struggle at a time when all we had was one another.
So I will ask you here tonight to look at me: unbowed, unbroken. You played a part in that. Everyone here tonight who has ever written a letter to me or to another prisoner, it is that kind of strength that gives us the will to keep going, to keep making a sacrifice.
I have been asked many times would I change anything? Not one thing. Because what I went through allowed me to be the man I am today, the Black Panther I will always be. Thank you.

**Not Ready For Prime Time Class Struggle- “By The Time We Got To Woodstock We Were Half A Million Strong"- "Taking Woodstock"-A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the movie trailer for Taking Woodstock.

DVD Review

Taking Woodstock, starring Demetri Martin, Eugene Levy, directed by Ang Lee, 2009

Okay, I confess, and confess so publicly, that while I am a certified proud member of the generation of ’68, the political branch of that generation, I was not even remotely near Woodstock, New York on that fateful August weekend of 1969 when the myth of "youth nation" took on a certain substantive possibility that we might, after all, make a “newer world.” Others may have regrets that they did not attend but I unlike non-attendee Joni Mitchell, whose words from her song Woodstock form part of the headline for this entry, and the others am not. I, actually, was heading elsewhere, heading hard elsewhere on the highway hitchhike road in search of the blue-pink great American West night that was another branch of that same experience. That experience I am very happy that I undertook, and have written about elsewhere.

That said, we were, wherever we were, in those times, at least those of us who were fighting for some version of that “newer world” seeking, children of Woodstock. Maybe not that particular experience, after all half a million hardly exhausted the numbers who were “searching” in those days, but some experience be it another of the myriad musical festivals that took place in those years, or a communal living experience, or like me a highway hitchhike break-out in search of the great American West night, or just took a “hit” of dope or popped a pill that in earlier or later times would have been scorned. It is under that sign the renowned director Ang Lee has creatively taken a back story from those times, a back story centered on the locals rather than the rock stars or the “hippie” touristas associated with the name Woodstock, and meshed it with one of the locals' self-discovery in 2009, the 40th anniversary year of that event.

Whatever Woodstock, the place, and its environs were after the festival invasion before that event it was a dying Catskills resort area and farmland. That resort idea is central to the story line here. The Catskills, in the old days, before there was more widespread assimilation and Jews began to be accepted in other locales was always associated with the place where they went for vacation and as a “proving ground” for up and coming Jewish entertainers. By 1969 that idea, and those places, were passé. However, not everybody got the word, especially not an old Jewish couple who were hanging on to their mortgaged to the hilt motel for dear life, despite the best efforts of their assimilated son, the central character, of the film.

They did hold, or rather he held, an important asset: permits to allow the festival to go on. The story, the Woodstock and self-discovery story, take off from that point as we view the trials and tribulations of producing this spectacle, its actual occurrence, and the sometimes funny experiences that mother, father, and son experience, including the mandatory drug experimentation, sex (hetero and homosexual), and rock ‘n’ roll. Is this the definitive study on Woodstock, on the 1960s counterculture, and on the generation of ’68s jail break-out? No, hell no, but it is a very nicely done slice-of-life film around that seminal 1960s event. Nicely done.

Demand clemency for Leonard Peltier

Dear friends
We invite you to sign this petition in support of Leonard Peltier, wrongly jailed for 40 years. Please circulate to your networks.
Many thanks
"It should be remembered that Standing Rock was the site of the 1974 conference of the International Indigenous Movement that spread throughout the Americas and beyond, the starting point for the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [UNDRIP]... I call on all my supporters and allies to join the struggle at Standing Rock in the spirit of peaceful spiritual resistance and to work together to protect Unci Maka, Grandmother Earth. I also call upon my supporters and all people who share this Earth to join together to insist that the US  complies with and honors the provisions of international law, as expressed in the UNDRIP, International Human Rights Treaties and the long-neglected Treaties and trust agreements with the Sioux Nation." 
Leonard Peltier, from a 
solidarity statementwith the Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline.
For more info, contact the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee:

peltier 1.jpg
template image

Don�t let my father die in prison

peltier 4.jpg
peltier 5.jpgpeltier 6.jpg

My name is Kathy Peltier and I am the daughter of imprisoned Native American rights activist Leonard Peltier.
In 1975, during a confrontation with members of the American Indian Movement, two FBI agents were shot dead. My father was convicted of their murders, but has always denied killing the agents.

Judges and legal experts agree that his trial was unfair. He's been in prison over 40 years - my entire life.
Now his health is failing. My worst fear is that my father will die in prison and I won't have any real time with him.
Help bring my father home: Tell President Obama to grant Leonard Peltier clemency.

Even behind bars, my father is an inspiration. His name is synonymous with the struggle for Native rights, and he recently issued a statement in solidarity with everyone standing together at the Camp of the Sacred Stones at Standing Rock:

"It is an honor to have been alive to see this happen with you young people. You are nothing but awesome in my eyes." 

Many people have called for him to be granted leniency and freedom, but he remains in prison. That's why Amnesty International USA has included his case in its Write for Rights letter-writing marathon.
Join Write for Rights and add your name to this urgent petition: Free Leonard Peltier.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons says it won't take care of my father until his condition - he has an abdominal aortic aneurysm - gets even worse. But I'm afraid it will be too late.

It would mean everything to me if my father could spend a little of his life with me.
Urge President Obama to grant clemency to my father, Leonard Peltier, so that he can live out the rest of his days with his family.

On behalf of my father and my brother, and for all the people you help through your kindness and your activism, thank you.

In solidarity,
Kathy Peltier
peltier 4.jpgpeltier 7.jpg
peltier 8.jpg

Friday, December 30, 2016

31st Annual Holiday Appeal Free the Class-War Prisoners! Featured NYC Speakers: Albert Woodfox and Robert King of the Angola 3

Workers Vanguard No. 1100
18 November 2016
31st Annual Holiday Appeal
Free the Class-War Prisoners!
Featured NYC Speakers: Albert Woodfox and Robert King of the Angola 3

“The path to freedom leads through a prison....
“In one sense of the word the whole of capitalist society is a prison. For the great mass of people who do the hard, useful work there is no such word as freedom. They come and go at the order of a few. Their lives are regulated according to the needs and wishes of a few. A censorship is put upon their words and deeds. The fruits of their labor are taken from them. And if, by chance, they have the instinct and spirit to rebel, if they take their place in the vanguard of the fight for justice, the prisons are waiting.”
— James P. Cannon, “The Cause that Passes Through a Prison,” Labor Defender, September 1926
As the Partisan Defense Committee mobilizes for its 31st annual Holiday Appeal to raise funds for monthly stipends and holiday gifts to class-war prisoners, the capitalists’ jails are being filled with hundreds of young activists who have protested the election of racist demagogue Donald Trump, adding to the many more who have been jailed for protesting racist cop terror over the past couple of years.
At this year’s New York City benefit, featured speakers will be Albert Woodfox and Robert King, who along with Herman Wallace were known as the Angola 3. These intransigent opponents of racial oppression spent decades in prison, victims of a state vendetta for forming a Black Panther Party chapter in Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. Woodfox and Wallace were falsely convicted of the 1972 killing of prison guard Brent Miller. King, who was framed up for the killing of a fellow inmate in 1973, was released in 2001, and dedicated himself to fighting to prove the innocence of his imprisoned comrades. Wallace was released in October 2013—just three days before dying of liver cancer! Despite seeing his conviction overturned twice, Woodfox spent nearly 44 years in solitary confinement—the longest stint of any prisoner in the U.S.—before being released this past February, on his 69th birthday.
The PDC stipend program is a revival of a tradition of the International Labor Defense (ILD) under its first secretary, James P. Cannon (1925-28), an early leader of the Communist Party who went on to become the founder of American Trotskyism. Like the ILD before us, we stand unconditionally on the side of the working people and the oppressed in struggle against their exploiters and oppressors. We defend, in Cannon’s words, “any member of the workers movement, regardless of his views, who suffered persecution by the capitalist courts because of his activities or his opinion” (First Ten Years of American Communism [1962]). In its early years, the ILD adopted 106 prisoners—socialists, anarchists, union leaders and militants victimized for their struggles to organize the working class and for opposition to imperialist war.
The PDC started our class-war prisoner stipend program in 1986, during the Reagan years, a period of rampant reaction. Those years were marked by vicious racist repression, brutal union-busting, anti-immigrant hysteria, malicious cutbacks in social services for the predominantly black and Latino poor as well as government efforts to equate leftist political activity with “terrorism.” Over the decades since, we have supported dozens of prisoners on three continents, among them militant workers railroaded for defending their unions during pitched class battles—including coal miners in Britain and Kentucky.
The 1980s were a time of waning class and social struggle, but the convulsive battles for black rights in the 1960s and ’70s still haunted America’s capitalist rulers, who thirsted for vengeance. Among the early recipients of PDC stipends were members and supporters of the Black Panther Party, the best of a generation of black radicals who sought a revolutionary solution to black oppression—a bedrock of American capitalism. Other early stipend recipients were members of the largely black Philadelphia MOVE commune. Among those prisoners to whom we continue to provide stipends are Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s foremost class-war prisoner, and Ed Poindexter, a leader of the Omaha, Nebraska, Committee to Combat Fascism, whose comrade and fellow stipend recipient Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa died in March after 45 years in prison.
There is every reason to believe that the period we are entering will be no less reactionary than the one we faced 30 years ago. Class-struggle legal and social defense, including support for class-war prisoners—those today behind bars and any militants who join them—is of vital importance to labor activists, fighters for black rights and immigrant rights and defenders of civil liberties. In a small but real way, our prisoner stipend program expresses the commonality of interests between black people, immigrants and the working class. The struggle to free the class-war prisoners is critical to educating a new generation of fighters against exploitation and oppression—a schooling centered on the role of the capitalist state, comprising at its core the military, cops, courts and prisons. Join us in generously donating and building our annual Holiday Appeal. An injury to one is an injury to all!
The 12 class-war prisoners receiving stipends from the PDC are listed below.
*   *   *
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther Party spokesman, a well-known supporter of the MOVE organization and an award-winning journalist known as “the voice of the voiceless.” Framed up for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Mumia was sentenced to death explicitly for his political views. Federal and state courts have repeatedly refused to consider evidence proving Mumia’s innocence, including the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot and killed the policeman. In 2011 the Philadelphia district attorney’s office dropped its longstanding effort to legally lynch Mumia. In a significant development in the decades-long battle for his freedom, on August 7, attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a new petition under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). Mumia’s application seeks to overturn the denial of his three prior PCRA claims by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If successful, he would be granted a new hearing before that court to argue for reversal of his frame-up conviction. In the meantime he remains condemned to life in prison with no chance of parole. Mumia also faces a life-threatening health crisis related to active hepatitis C, which brought him close to death in March 2015. On August 31, eight months after oral argument in Mumia’s lawsuit to obtain crucial medication, a federal judge rejected his claim on the pretext that the lawsuit should have been directed against the members of the state’s hepatitis committee—a secretive body which Mumia’s attorneys had no way of knowing even existed at the time the suit was initiated! The Pennsylvania prison authorities have adamantly refused to treat his dangerous but curable condition.
Leonard Peltier is an internationally renowned class-war prisoner. Peltier’s incarceration for his activism in the American Indian Movement has come to symbolize this country’s racist repression of its Native peoples, the survivors of centuries of genocidal oppression. Peltier was framed up for the 1975 deaths of two FBI agents marauding in what had become a war zone on the South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation. Although the lead government attorney has admitted, “We can’t prove who shot those agents,” and the courts have acknowledged blatant prosecutorial misconduct, the 72-year-old Peltier is not scheduled to be reconsidered for parole for another eight years. Peltier suffers from multiple serious medical conditions and has received a confirmed diagnosis of an abdominal aortic aneurysm—a life-threatening condition which the federal officials have refused to treat. He is incarcerated far from his people and family and is currently seeking executive clemency from Barack Obama.
Seven MOVE members—Chuck AfricaMichael AfricaDebbie AfricaJanet AfricaJanine AfricaDelbert Africa and Eddie Africa—are in their 39th year of imprisonment. After the 8 August 1978 siege of their Philadelphia home by over 600 heavily armed cops, they were sentenced to 30-100 years, having been falsely convicted of killing a police officer who died in the cops’ own cross fire. In 1985, eleven of their MOVE family members, including five children, were massacred by Philly cops when a bomb was dropped on their living quarters. After nearly four decades of unjust incarceration, these innocent prisoners are routinely turned down at parole hearings. This year Eddie, Debbie, Janet and Janine were all denied parole.
Jaan Laaman and Thomas Manning are the two remaining anti-imperialist activists known as the Ohio 7 still in prison, convicted for their roles in a radical group that took credit for bank “expropriations” and bombings of symbols of U.S. imperialism, such as military and corporate offices, in the late 1970s and ’80s. Before their arrests in 1984 and 1985, the Ohio 7 were targets of massive manhunts. The Ohio 7’s politics were once shared by thousands of radicals but, like the Weathermen before them, the Ohio 7 were spurned by the “respectable” left. From a proletarian standpoint, the actions of these leftist activists against imperialism and racist injustice are not crimes. They should not have served a day in prison.
Ed Poindexter is a former Black Panther supporter and leader of the Omaha, Nebraska, National Committee to Combat Fascism. He and his former co-defendant, Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, were victims of the FBI’s deadly COINTELPRO operation, under which 38 Black Panther Party members were killed and hundreds more imprisoned on frame-up charges. Poindexter was railroaded to prison and sentenced to life for a 1970 explosion that killed a cop, and he has now spent more than 45 years behind bars. Nebraska courts have repeatedly denied Poindexter a new trial despite the fact that a crucial piece of evidence excluded from the original trial, a 911 audio tape long suppressed by the FBI, proved that testimony of the state’s key witness was perjury.
All proceeds from the Holiday Appeal events will go to the Class-War Prisoners Stipend Fund. This is not charity but an elementary act of solidarity with those imprisoned for their opposition to racist capitalism and imperialist depredation. Send your contributions to: PDC, P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013; (212) 406-4252. For more information about the class-war prisoners, including addresses for correspondence, see: