Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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

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.


OCCUPY 4 JOBS BLACK HISTORY FORUM! In Boston- Saturday-February 18th

OCCUPY 4 JOBS BLACK HISTORY FORUM! In Boston- Saturday-February 18th

February Is Black History Month

In his final days, Dr. King planned a mass OCCUPATION FOR JOBS


Demand jobs/ housing, education and people's rights!


Hear Larry Holmes, National Coordinator, OCCUPY 4 JOBS








Save the date - check for location

Occupy 4 Jobs Network c/o USW L. 875125 Colgate Rd, Roslindale, MA 02131

617-524-3507 Minister Don Muhammad, Temple 11, Nation of Islam

For info, call International Action Center 617-522-6626 or email

A Call To Action-1st Mass Occupy General Assembly-Occupy Groups in the Greater Boston Area-UNITE!

Click on the headline to link to the Mass Occupy Facebook page.

When: Saturday, February 18, 2012 Time: 12:00pm until 4:00pm

Where: Boston Teachers Union Hall, 180 Mount Vernon Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts

Child Care will be provided.

Fight MBTA Fare Hikes and Cuts!

Other proposals on the proposed agenda include:

• International Women's Day action

• March 1st Solidarity actions for public education

• May 1st General strike actions

• Time will be allotted for all proposals.

Facebook link: htrps://

From #Ur-Occupied Boston (#Ur-Tomemonos Boston)-General Assembly-The Embryo Of An Alternate Government-Learn The Lessons Of History- From The Pages Of The French Revolution- Ernest Belfort Bax-The Last Episode of the French Revolution Being a History of Gracchus Babeuf and the Conspiracy of the Equals (1911)-VI. The Projected Insurrection and its Plans

Click on the headline to link to updates from the Occupy Boston website. Occupy Boston started at 6:00 PM, September 30, 2011. I will post important updates as they appear on that site.
An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend All The Occupation Sites And All The Occupiers! Drop All Charges Against All Protesters Everywhere!

Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It, It’s Ours! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!
Below I am posting, occasionally, comments on the Occupy movement as I see or hear things of interest, or that cause alarm bells to ring in my head. The first comment directly below from October 1, which represented my first impressions of Occupy Boston, is the lead for all further postings.
Markin comment October 1, 2011:

There is a lot of naiveté expressed about the nature of capitalism, capitalists, and the way to win in the class struggle by various participants in this occupation. Many also have attempted to make a virtue out of that naiveté, particularly around the issues of effective democratic organization (the General Assembly, its unrepresentative nature and its undemocratic consensus process) and relationships with the police (they are not our friends, no way, when the deal goes down). However, their spirit is refreshing, they are acting out of good subjective anti-capitalist motives and, most importantly, even those of us who call ourselves "reds" (communists), including this writer, started out from liberal premises as naive, if not more so, than those encountered at the occupation site. We can all learn something but in the meantime we must defend the "occupation" and the occupiers. More later as the occupation continues.
As part of my comment here, dated October 20, 2011, I noted the following:

“… The idea of the General Assembly with each individual attendee acting as a “tribune of the people” is interesting and important. And, of course, it represents, for today anyway, the embryo of what the “new world” we need to create might look like at the governmental level.”

A couple of the people that I have talked to were not quite sure what to make of that idea. The idea that what is going on in Occupy Boston at the governmental level could, should, would be a possible form of governing this society in the “new world a-borning” with the rise of the Occupy movement. Part of the problem is that there was some confusion on the part of the listeners that one of the possible aims of this movement is to create an alternative government, or at least provide a model for such a government. I will argue here now, and in the future, that it should be one the goals. In short, we need to take power away from the Democrats and Republicans and their tired old congressional/executive/judicial doesn’t work checks and balances form of governing and place it at the grassroots level and work upward from there rather than, as now, have power devolve from the top. (And stop well short of the bottom.)

I will leave aside the question (the problem really) of what it would take to create such a possibility. Of course a revolutionary solution would, of necessity, have be on the table since there is no way that the current powerful interests, Democratic, Republican or those having no named politics, is going to give up power without a fight. What I want to pose now is the use of the General Assembly as a deliberative executive, legislative, and judicial body all rolled into one. In that sense previous historical models come to mind; the short-lived but heroic Paris Commune of 1871 that Karl Marx tirelessly defended against the reactionaries of Europe as the prototype of a workers government; the early heroic days of the Russian October Revolution of 1917 when the workers councils (soviets in Russian parlance) acted as a true workers' government; and the period in the Spanish Revolution of 1936-39 where the Central Committee of the Anti-Fascist Militias acted, de facto, as a workers government. All the just mentioned examples had their problems and flaws, no question. However, merely mentioning the General Assembly concept in the same paragraph as these great historic examples should signal that thoughtful leftists and other militants need to investigate and study these examples.

Recently (see October 22, 2011 comment above) I noted the following while arguing for the General Assembly concept as a form of alternate government using historic examples like the Paris Commune (1871), the early soviets in Russia (1905 and 1917), and the early days of the antifascist militias in the Spanish Civil War (1936-37):

“However, merely mentioning the General Assembly concept in the same paragraph as these great historic examples should signal that thoughtful leftists and other militants need to investigate and study these examples.”

In order to facilitate the investigation and study of those examples I will, occasionally, post works in this space that deal with these forbears from several leftist perspectives (rightist perspectives were clear- crush all the above examples ruthlessly, and with no mercy- so we need not look at them now). I started this Lesson Of History series with Karl Marx’s classic defense and critique of the Paris Commune, The Civil War In France and today’s presentation noted in the headline continues on in that same vein.
A Five-Point Program As Talking Points

*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay to spread the available work around. Organize the unorganized- Organize the South- Organize Wal-Mart- Defend the right for public and private workers to unionize.

* Defend the working classes! No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. Spent the dough on organizing the unorganized and other labor-specific causes (example, the November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio).

*End the endless wars!- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan! Hands Off Pakistan! Hands Off Iran! Hands Off The World!

*Fight for a social agenda for working people!. Quality Healthcare For All! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! Forgive student debt! Stop housing foreclosures!

*We created the wealth, let’s take it back. Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Build a workers party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed.

Emblazon on our red banner-Labor and the oppressed must rule!

Ernest Belfort Bax -Gracchus Babeuf-VI. The Projected Insurrection and its Plans

ONE of the most important of the immediate objects now to be attained was deemed to be the adhesion of a sufficient number of the military; and indeed there was some reason for the Babouvists to hope that they might gain over a considerable contingent of the armed forces at the disposal of the government. On the success of the projected coup d’etat, the people of Paris were to elect a national assembly, clothed with supreme authority, and composed of one democrat for each department, to be nominated by the committee or “Secret Directory”, which would not dissolve, but would continue to watch over the conduct of the National Assembly.

Notwithstanding the efforts made to gain over the army, the possibility of a collision with the armed force of the government was not left out of sight. To this end members of the old Jacobin party were summoned from all over France to come to Paris and hold themselves ready for the signal of the insurrection. Lyons was especially regarded by the conspirators as a field of recruitment, and they were in constant communication with the former mayor of the city, Bertrand, who was untiring in stimulating the interest o£ the Jacobins of the city in the new movement. Meanwhile, in Paris itself, secret stores of arms and ammunition were prepared, and the means of access to government stores were carefully noted.

The government party, on its side, was divided into two main centres, the nouveaux riches, the men who had enriched themselves by the Revolution, who had annexed to themselves vast portions o£ the wealth of the nobility and clergy, and who dreaded equally the return to the ancien régime and the ascendancy o£ those who might be disposed to sympathise with it, and the advent again to control o£ the State o£ the popular revolutionary forces. In either case their security of possession was threatened. Among the leaders of this party o£ the new wealthy middle-class, there may again be mentioned Barras, Tallien, Legendre, Fréron, Merlin de Thionville, and Rewbell – as will be seen, mainly renegades of the old revolutionary party of the Mountain. In opposition to this party, which at the moment was dominant, were the Conservatives, the sympathisers with the ancien régime, to whom had rallied many of the old moderates, and notably the former members of the Girondin party, who had been reinstated in the Convention after Thermidor, and who formed a centre of the Conservative block, together with old men of the plain, Boissy d'Anglas, Thibaudeau, Camille Jourdan, etc. On this section of the councils the hopes of the Royalists largely rested. They were prepared, however, as a party, to adopt violent methods i£ they saw any chance of success in such a course. On their side the dominant faction, the party of the nouveaux riches, as I have termed them, did not hesitate, by means of orators and journalists, to denounce all opposed to themselves as enemies of the Republic, confounding in the same category the old revolutionary party, now represented by the Babouvists, and the Royalists, who were openly plotting the restoration of the monarchy, and all it implied. Babeuf had already exposed this trick in one o£ the last numbers of the Tribun du People.

Just at this time, to complicate matters, the “Secret Directory” was confronted with a rival conspiracy on the part of certain members of the old party of the Mountain in the Convention, who had been driven out of the latter body, and been declared ineligible for election to the new councils, and who, it was said, were taking steps to obtain control of the insurrectionary movement. The “Secret Directory” was thus placed in a position of some difficulty. Its members were indisposed to hand over the control to a miscellaneous committee of men, of some of whom the views were doubtful, and others of whom were unreliable in a political crisis, owing to weakness of character. At the same time, the fact remained that these men, all of them, had suffered from being true to the democracy; that they were honest, and that their sympathies at least were in general sound. The Babouvist leaders therefore decided to steer a middle course. They instructed their agents to caution the populace against any movement which might emanate from these persons, and at the same time to circumvent, by warnings and otherwise, any attempts of the government to lay hands on them, attempts of which they were duly notified by their own spies in the ministry of the police.

Meanwhile, the new democratic movement had become so menacing that both of the reactionary parties alike found it prudent to bury their hatchet, and to join forces against the common enemy. No stone was left unturned in the matter of vilification. The leaders were venal, it was said; they aimed at throwing France into a state of anarchy, with the double object of enriching themselves by plunder in the general scramble, and of earning their wages with the Royalists by paving the way for the return of the monarchy. The calumnies were not only repeated at large by the agents of the government, but the executive Directory emphasised them in an official manifesto. Having in this way struck terror into the minds of the timid and well-to-do population generally, but above all into the members of the two councils, on the 27th and 28th of Germinal the Directory laid two bills before the councils, embodying clauses of the most stringent character against the right of public meeting and public discussion. These drastic laws were passed the same day without modification in the Council of Five hundred, with only a minority of twelve against them, and in the Council of the Ancients with unanimity. It now became practically impossible to carry on the work of propaganda and organisation. The final struggle had already begun.

Such was the state of affairs when the cry went out amongst the democrats that the day had come to live free or to die. But, however, our Babouvists’ committee, the Secret Directory, hesitated even now to give the signal for action, as it was anxious to make sure of having all the threads of the movement in its hands before striking. Sufficient discipline reigned in the popular movement itself, combined with a sufficient confidence in the heads of the conspiracy, to prevent a premature outbreak. It was evident now that the revolution would have to be accomplished by a coup de main. The design of the Secret Directory was to proceed at once to make an example of the heads of the usurping power of the executive Directory (of government), together with the whole machinery of the illegitimate constitution of the year III., the opening act of severity to be followed by an immediate amnesty. It was decided that on the day decreed for the rising to take place, banners should be distributed to the revolutionary agents, and that in the name of the Insurrectionary Committee of the “Secret Directory” a proclamation should be issued threatening the death of anyone carrying out an order of the usurpatory government. Babeuf and his friends would thus place themselves at the head of the movement. Finally, after a long and earnest discussion, the following manifesto was adopted, the publication of which throughout Paris was to be the signal for the general rising. It was headed, Act of Insurrection (Acte Insurrecteur) and was as follows:–

French Democrats! Considering that the oppression and misery of the people has reached its height; that the state of tyranny and misfortune is due to the actual government;

Considering that the numerous crimes of governments have always excited against them the daily and always useless complaints of the governed;

Considering that the Constitution sworn to by the people in 1793 was placed by it under the protection of all the virtues; that in consequence, when the entire people has lost all the means guaranteeing it against despotism, it is the most courageous, the most intrepid virtue to take the initiative of insurrection, and to direct the enfranchisement of the masses;

Considering that the ‘rights of man’, recognised at the same epoch of ’93, accord to the whole people, or to each of its sections, as the most sacred of rights, and the most indispensable of duties, to rise in insurrection against any government that violates its rights, and that they enjoin every free man to put to instant death those who usurp the sovereignty;

Considering that a faction has conspired to usurp the sovereignty, in substituting its private will for the public will, freely and legally expressed in the primary assemblies of 1793, in imposing on the French people, by means of the persecution and the assassination of all the friends of liberty, an execrable code called “the Constitution of Anno III” (1795), in place of the democratic pact of 1793, which had been accepted with so much enthusiasm;

Considering the tyrannical Code of 1795 violates the most precious rights, in that it establishes distinction between citizens, interdicts their right to sanction laws, to change the constitution, and to assemble themselves in public meeting, limits their liberty in the choice of public agents, and leaves them no guarantee against the usurpation of rulers;

Considering that the authors of this atrocious code have established themselves in a state of determined rebellion against the people, since they have arrogated to themselves, in contempt of the supreme will, that authority which the nation alone has the right to confer; that they have created either themselves or, with the aid of a handful of factious persons and the enemies of the people, on the one hand, kings under a disguised name, and on the other, independent legislators;

Considering that these oppressors, after having done everything to demoralise the people, after having outraged, abused, and destroyed the attributes and institutions of liberty and democracy, after having assassinated the best friends of the public, recalled and protected its most atrocious enemies, pillaged and exhausted the public treasury, drained all the national resources, totally discredited the public money, made the most infamous bankruptcy, handed over to the avidity of the rich the last remnants of the unfortunate, who have been for well-nigh two years past dying of hunger every day, not content with so many crimes, have come now, by a refinement of tyranny, to rob the people of their right of complaint;

Considering that they have instigated and favoured plots for continuing the civil war in the departments of the west, while deceiving the nation with a patched-up peace, of which the secret articles stipulated conditions contrary to the will, dignity, security, and interest, of the French people;

Considering that, quite recently, they have invited to themselves a crowd of foreigners, and that all the principal conspirators of Europe are at this moment in Paris in order to consummate the last act of the counter-revolution;

Considering that they have disbanded and treated with indignity those battalions that have had the virtue to refuse to second them in their atrocious designs against the people; that they have dared to indict those who are brave soldiers, who have displayed the most energy against oppression, and that they have joined to this infamy that of ascribing their generous resistance to the will of tyrants, to royalist inspiration;

Considering that it would be difficult and take too long to follow and to retrace completely the course of this criminal government, every thought and every act of which is a national offence, but that proofs of all these crimes are traced in letters of blood throughout the whole Republic, and that from all the departments unanimous cries demand its suppression, it pertains to that portion of the citizens who are nearest the oppressors to attack the oppression; that this portion bears in trust liberty for which it is responsible towards the whole State, and that too long silence would render it the accomplice of tyranny;

Considering, finally, that all the defenders of liberty are ready;

After having constituted themselves an Insurrectionary Committee of Public Safety, that has taken upon its head the responsibility and initiative of the insurrection, it is ordained as follows:–

1. The people’s insurrection is against tyranny.

2. The object of the insurrection is the re- establishment of the Constitution of 1793, the liberty, equality, and the well-being of all.

3. This day, this very hour, citizens and citizenesses will march from all points in their order, without waiting for the movement of neighbouring quarters, which they will cause to march with them. They will rally to the sound of the tocsin and trumpets, under the conduct of the patriots to whom the Insurrectionary Committee shall have confided banners bearing the inscription – “THE CONSTITUTION OF 1793: EQUALITY, LIBERTY, AND COMMON WELFARE.” Other banners will bear the words: ‘When the Government violates the rights of the People, insurrection is for the People, and for each portion of the People, the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.

Those who usurp sovereignty ought to be put to death by free men. Generals of the people will be distinguished by tricolor ribands floating conspicuously round their hats.

4. All citizens shall repair with their arms, or in default of arms, with other instruments of attack, under the sole direction of the above patriots, to the chief places of their respective arrondissements.

5. All kinds of arms shall be seized by the insurgents wherever they find them.

6. The barriers of the banks of the river will be carefully guarded; no one may leave Paris without a formal and special order of the Insurrectionary Committee; no one shall enter but couriers, conductors, porters, and carriers of foodstuff, to whom protection and security will be given.

7. The people shall seize the national treasury, post, the houses of ministers, and every public and private building containing provisions or ammunition of war.

8. The Insurrectionary Committee of Public Safety gives to the sacred legions of the camps surrounding Paris, who have sworn to die for Equality, the order to sustain everywhere the efforts of the people.

9. The patriots in the departments fled to Paris.. and the brave officers who have been dismissed, are called upon to distinguish themselves in this sacred struggle.

10. The two Councils and the Directory, usurpers of popular authority, shall be dissolved, and all the members composing them shall be immediately judged by the people.

11. All power ceasing before that of the people, no pretended deputy, member of the usurping authority, director, administrator, judge, officer, supporter of the national guard, or any public functionary whatsoever, may exercise any act of authority or give any order: those who act to the contrary shall be immediately put to death. Every member of the pretended legislative body or director found in the streets shall be arrested and conducted immediately to the police office in his quarter.

12. All opposition shall be suppressed immediately by force. Those opposing shall be exterminated; those equally shall be put to death who beat or cause to be beaten a générale; foreigners, of whatever nation, who shall be found in the streets; all the presidents, secretaries, and commanders of the royalist conspiracy of Vendémiaire who shall dare to show themselves.

13. All the envoys of foreign powers are ordered to remain in their houses during the insurrection: they are under the safeguard of the people.

14. Provisions of all kinds shall be brought to the people in the public places.

15. All bakers shall be requisitioned to continue to make bread, which shall be distributed gratis to the people: they shall be paid on their declaration.

16. The people shall not take rest until after the destruction of the tyrannical government.

17. All the possessions of emigrants, of conspirators, and of all the enemies of the people, shall be distributed without delay to the defenders of the country and the unfortunate. The unfortunate of the whole Republic shall be immediately lodged in the houses of the conspirators. The objects belonging to the people left in the Mont de Piety (public pawn office) shall be immediately returned gratuitously. The French people adopts the wives and children of the brave who shall have succumbed in this holy enterprise; it will nourish them and bring them up; it shall do the same as regards the fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, to whose existence they were necessary. The patriots proscribed and wandering throughout the whole Republic shall receive succour and suitable means to re-enter the bosoms of their families. They shall be indemnified for the losses they have suffered. War against eternal tyranny, being that which is most opposed to the general peace, those of the brave defenders of liberty who shall have helped to terminate it shall be free to return with arms and baggage to their own hearths, where they shall immediately enjoy in addition the rewards so long promised them; those among them who shall wish to continue to serve the Republic shall be also immediately rewarded in a manner worthy of the generosity of a great and free nation.

18. Both public and private property shall be placed under the safeguard of the people.

19. The task of ending the Revolution, and of adding to the Republic, Liberty, Equality, and the Constitution of 1793, shall be confided to a National Assembly, composed of one democrat to each department, elected by the insurrectionary people, on the nomination of the insurrectionary committee.

20. The Insurrectionary Committee of Public Safety shall remain in permanence until the complete accomplishment of the insurrection.

The intention was, on the destruction of the existing government, that the people of Paris should be called together in general assembly in the Place de la Revolution, where the Secret Directory should give an account of its conduct, and should point out as the source of all its evils economical inequality, and, after explaining the advantages which might be expected from the realisation of the Constitution of 1793, should call upon the assembly to ratify the insurrection, after which the provisional government should be nominated by the insurrectionary committee for the approval of the assembly.

On the newly elected Assembly above spoken of being come together, it was proposed to lay before its members the following decree or proclamation

The people of Paris, after having destroyed tyranny, using the rights it had received from nature, recognises and declares to the French people that the unequal distribution of wealth and labour is the inexhaustible source of slavery and public ills; that the labour of all is the one essential condition of the social contract; that property in all the wealth of France resides essentially in the French people, who alone can determine or change its distribution; that it orders the National Assembly, which it has created in the interests and in the name of all Frenchmen, to improve the Constitution of 1793, to prepare its prompt execution, and to assume, by wise institutions, founded on the truths above cited, unalterable equality, liberty, and welfare for the French Republic. It enjoins the same assembly to render an account to the nation, in one year at latest, of the execution of the present decree; and finally it engages to cause the decrees of the said Assembly to be respected in so far as they are conformable to the above orders, and to punish with the penalty of traitors those of its members who shall depart from the duties that it has prescribed for them.

Such were the schemes which the Secret Directory was elaborating in preparation for the rising. Meanwhile, the propaganda with the military made rapid progress, especially amongst the body called the “legion of police”, which was supposed never to be called upon to leave Paris. This it was which specially alarmed the government, the army being the last rampart between them and the deluge. So threatening had two battalions of the “legion of police” become, that in violation of strict legality, the Directory made an order for them to be removed from Paris. This order, which was signed the 9th of Floreal (the 29th of April), was followed by immediate resistance, accompanied by the increase of agitation among the populace. At this moment everything seemed to favour the chances of the insurrection. The revolutionary agents suddenly became more numerous and active than ever amongst the troops. There seemed a fair chance, indeed, of gaining over the whole of the Army of the Interior, as the military forces within and around Paris were at this time called. A committee was even formed in the legion of police itself, in concert with the Secret Directory. Charles Germain was the intermediary between the two committees. A manifesto of the legion was drawn up, prepared for publication. Hundreds of democrats held themselves in readiness; when suddenly the government, annulling the previous order, issued a new one, disbanding the insubordinate battalions. Out of the members of these disbanded battalions, mostly composed of Hébertists, a revolutionary advanced guard was formed, under the auspices of the Secret Directory.

Matters now became pressing; popular effervescence and impatience had reached a point where it became evident to the Secret Directory that further delay would imperil the movement. Accordingly, on the 11th of Floreal (the 1st of May) our Secret Directory convoked some military advisers, to wit, Fion, Germain, Rossignol, Massart, and Grisel, to the last mentioned of whom much importance was attached, owing to the influence he was believed to have in the camp at Grenelle. This important meeting was attended by Babeuf, Buonarroti, Debon, Darthé, Maréchal, and Didier. To the five officers was entrusted the task of directing the military side of the insurrection. They formed a committee which held its first sitting the following day at Rey’s, in the Rue du Mont Blanc. Though the military committee maintained outward unity, it was known that the two conventionals, Fian and Rossignol, made no secret of regretting the absence of their old colleagues of the Mountain from the Secret Directory. From this time the meetings of the Secret Directory were transferred to a house in the Faubourg Montmartre. Again, Charles Germain was the intermediary between the latter and the military committee.

Long and earnest discussions took place at this committee as to the conduct of the insurrection. The views of tried revolutionaries from the “legion of police” were heard. One proposition was to enlist the Royalists in the task of overthrowing the executive Directory, but this was at once rejected. Another was by two officers of the legion to poignard that very night the members of the (governmental) Directory, and thus inaugurate the rising. But the want of money at this moment hampered the actions of the conspirators in various directions, while at the same time the question of the old deputies of the Mountain caused much embarrassment. As we have seen, Fion and Rossignol were very dissatisfied at the Mountainist committee being left out in the cold. Much discussion took place in the Secret Directory upon this question, Germain counselling concessions. An amalgamation of the two committees was out of the question.

On the 15th of Floreal, Germain brought to the Secret Directory a delegate from the Mountainist Committee, Ricord. The whole situation was explained to him, the “Act of Insurrection”, already given, was handed to the Mountainist deputy to read, and a discussion was entered into concerning the modifications to be made, especially in the article respecting the provisional authority. It was agreed that the old Mountainists of the Convention should form part of the supreme power, but only on condition of their giving irrefragable guarantees of the purity of their democratic aims.

The conditions as agreed to finally between Ricord and the Secret Directory were: – 1. The reinstatement of the sixty proscribed Mountainist members of the National Convention in the governing body, which was to consist, in addition, as provided for in the Act of Insurrection, of one democrat for every department, to be elected by the people, on the nomination of the Secret Directory. 2. The dispositions of article 18 of the Act of Insurrection to be carried out without reserve and immediately. 3. The decrees issued by the people of Paris on the day of insurrection to be submitted to. 4. The suspension of all laws and ordinances made since the 9th of Thermidor, year II. 5. The expulsion of all the returned emigrants. Ricord, who accepted these conditions, then left to submit them to his colleagues of the Mountainist committee. The next day he returned to announce their rejection of the terms offered. What they required was in effect the reinstallation, on the success of the insurrection, of the sixty proscribed deputies of the Mountain, without any guarantees or conditions whatever. The addition of a democrat for every department was rejected by the proscribed deputies as a violation of the national sovereignty, which they claimed, under the existing circumstances, resided in their own body alone. The rejoinder of the Secret Directory to this response was interesting: – “In agreeing to the provisional reestablishment of a part of the Convention, we only seek to serve the people. The only recompense to which we aspire is the complete triumph of Equality. We shall fight and expose our lives to give back to the people the fullness of its rights, but we cannot conceive that anyone has the right to claim to be generous towards the master of everything. If you really desire to work with us in the great enterprise we have in view, take care lest you put forward propositions and make offers which throw a bad light upon your intentions.” This referred to some phrases in the reply of the Mountainist committee, intimating its willingness to satisfy the social demands of the Babouvists, but rather as an act of grace than as the recognition of a right.

Many of your colleagues have betrayed the confidence of the people, and we should be infinitely more reprehensible than they if we consented to again deliver the people over to their passions and their weaknesses. In order to re – establish the sovereignty of the people, we ought not to employ the instruments which have caused its loss. It is to those in whom the nation expects the destruction of tyranny that it necessarily delegates the right to take the provisional and indispensable measures to this end. We will not destroy an oppressive government in order to substitute for it another equally so. It is well to pardon error, but it would be folly to confide once more the future of the country to those whose errors have lost it. Better to perish by the hands of the patriots who, indignant at our inaction, may accuse us of cowardice and treason, or by those of the government, who may conceivably obtain knowledge of our schemes, than to put the people again at the mercy of those who immolated its best friends on the 9th of Thermidor, and who since then have basely allowed republicans to be proscribed, and the democratic edifice to be demolished.

Ricord again retired to communicate this definitive resolution to his friends. It was on the 18th Floral (7th May) that Darthé reported to the Secret Directory concerning a meeting of the Mountainist committee at which he had been present, that, after a violent debate, the addition of one democrat for every department, as well as the clauses respecting social legislation, had been agreed to, after strong speeches in their favour from the old committeemen of the Convention, Amar, and especially Robert Lindet, both of whom strongly championed the position taken up by the Secret Directory. The news of the entente between the two organising bodies was immediately communicated to the agents of Babeuf and his colleagues, and renewed activity was shown in hastening on the crisis.

There were now three bodies concerned in organising the insurrection – the Mountainist Committee, the Secret Directory, and the Military Committee appointed by the latter. The arrangements proposed by the Military Committee, and accepted by the others, were, that the insurrection should take place in the daytime, that the generals under the orders of the Secret Directory should lead the people against the enemy, that the insurgents should be divided according to their arrondissement and subdivided by section; that each arrondissement should have its chief, and each section its sub-chief; and finally, that all subordination to the existing authorities should be broken off, and every act recognising their legitimacy punished with instant death. For the final ratification of these conditions and settling of details, a general meeting of the three committees was called together on the evening of the 19th of Floréal (8th of May), at the house of Drouet, in the Place des Piques.

Meanwhile, wholly unsuspected by his colleagues, a traitor had been working alongside of them, George Grisel, of the Grenelle camp, who, as member of the military committee, had taken part in the innermost counsels of the conspiracy. Grisel, it would appear, had for some days been in communication with the (governmental) Directory in the person of Carnot. A written denunciation of the proceedings of the Secret Directory by Grisel, the 15th Floréal (4th May), exists, in which precise details are given of the latest meetings, notably that of the 11th of Floral, at which he himself had been presented by Darthé to Babeuf and the others. The traitor, in professing to give an account of the “Act of Insurrection,” entirely perverts its sense, depicting Babeuf as a bloodthirsty tiger, enjoining the wholesale massacre of the rich. He emphasises the part played by Drouet in the conspiracy, and discloses the plan of attack against the Directory, the Councils, and the État major.

In consequence of these disclosures, Carnot, on the 17th of Floréal, submitted to the Directory a list of 245 persons against whom he wished to issue mandates of arrest, as the heads of the dangerous conspiracy. Amongst the names given were, of course, all those with whom the reader is by this time familiar. The proposition was agreed to by the Directory, and on the 19th Floréal the mandates of arrest were issued. Of those against whom the mandates were launched, thirty-five of them were singled out, amongst whom was Buonarroti, to be brought before the Minister of Police, in order to be interrogated concerning the facts of the conspiracy. Grisel, it should be said, made himself notable for the vehemence of his democratic sentiments, and for the boldness of the measures he proposed. He was never tired of affirming the devotion of the soldiers at Grenelle to the democratic principles animating the movement. The government at once took steps to execute the warrants. By a mistake, the residence of Ricord was descended upon on the 18th Floréal, but no one was found there. But Grisel’s information as regards the following day was unfortunately only too correct. As a member of the military committee, he was able to give the government precise information as to the place and time of the meeting of the 19th (Floreal), though, as events showed, owing to clumsily given instructions, the project of the government again miscarried.

The meeting at the house of Drouet took place, and lasted from eight in the evening until a quarter to eleven. Babeuf, Buonarroti, Darthé, Didier, Fion, Massart, Rossignol, Robert Lindet, Drouet, Ricord, Langelot, and Jauveux were present, and, in addition, the infamous Grisel. A member of the Secret Directory opened the proceedings with an eloquent adjuration to those present in the traditional style of eighteenth century revolutionary oratory. The ex-member of the Committee of Public Safety, Robert Lindet, also spoke, on behalf of the Mountainists, on the justice of the proposed insurrection, justifying the reinstatement of the remains of the old Mountain, as the Convention insisted on the necessity of impressing the stamp of the most strict equality upon the Revolution, and of giving it a thoroughly popular character. Grisel then rose. “As for me,” he said, “I speak for my brave comrades of the camp of Grenelle; and to show you how I take to heart the triumph of Equality, I will tell you that I have succeeded in extracting from my aristocrat uncle the sum of 10,000 livres (francs), which I intend to devote to procuring refreshments for the insurgent soldiers.” The Act of Insurrection, as amended, was formally approved by the Mountainists, who by their delegates promised on the day of insurrection to repair to the place that might be indicated by the Secret Directory, and sincerely to co – operate in the common work. Massart, in the name of the Military Committee, explained the basis of the plan of attack proposed. The twelve arrondissements of Paris, united in three divisions, should be marched by as many generals upon the legislative bodies, the executive Directory, and the État Major of the Army of the Interior. The advanced guard was to be formed of the most ardent democrats. He added that the committee required further information of the numbers of the insurgents and of the capacity of some of them; also as to the places where arms and ammunition were stored, which it would be necessary to seize at the first start – off The meeting decided that the Secret Directory should hasten the dénoûement of the conspiracy; that it should give its agents instructions conformably to the plan of the Military Committee; that it should meet again two days later and hear a final report on the state of affairs and fix a day for the movement.

The meeting had not long been dissolved before the Minister of Police, with a detachment of infantry and cavalry at his heels, in defiance of the law which forbade domiciliary visits during the night, broke into the house, but found only Drouet and Darthé there, whom he did not consider it prudent to arrest by themselves. He accordingly withdrew with his escort. The event, notwithstanding, as might be imagined, at once aroused suspicion of treachery, which for the moment fell unfairly enough, as Buonarroti informs us, on Charles Germain, owing to the fact of his absence from the meeting on the occasion in question, – an absence caused by a prosecution having already been begun against him. But the astute Grisel soon succeeded in explaining away the occurrence, and fatally allaying all suspicion. He used the blundering proceeding of the government in making their raid after the meeting was over, and the fact that they had not taken action at the meeting of the previous week, when they were all assembled at the house where Babeuf was lodging, and where all the documents relating to the movement were kept, as an argument to prove that the raid was not due to any internal treachery, but a piece of official bluff on the part of the Minister of Police to single out old Mountainists known to be disaffected to the existing government as the object of his domiciliary visit.

The insurrection, as represented by the Secret Directory, with the allied committees, had at this moment at its disposal, on a careful estimate made, as Babeuf and his friends show, about 17,000 men, upon whom absolute reliance could be placed. These were composed of the most military members of the old revolutionary sections, disbanded members of the Army of the Interior, revolutionaries of the departments come to Paris to join in the movement, almost the whole of the legion of police, the grenadiers of the legislative body, and the corps consigned at the Invalides; this formed the nucleus of the revolutionary army. But, in addition, the leaders of the movement, of course, reckoned upon the popular masses of St Marceau and St Antoine, and, in fact, large numbers of the lower – middle and working class throughout Paris, to join in the movement when once set on foot. The desperate economic situation of such, they assumed, must inevitably drive large numbers into a revolt, the first aim of which was an economic revolution that would make an end, not merely of the existing state itself, as the inevitable social condition of the majority of mankind.

Sometimes You Wind Up Uniting With The Devil And His (Or Her) Grandmother- A Short Note On The United Front Tactic- On Ron Paul And “Hands Off Iran”

Recently in Boston, as part of a nation-wide effort a demonstration was called for Saturday February 4, 2012 with a central slogan of “Hands Off Iran,” an appropriate action considering the incessant drum-beat coming from important imperialist sources about the need for someone, somehow to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons capacity (Guess who?). Of course the “ usual suspects” showed up for the demo- the assorted peace groups well-known to this writer, the socialists of various hues also known to this writer, and new, well, fairly new, the now familiar contingents from the Occupy movement.

What was unusual was the presence of a contingent of supporters of Ron Paul, the Republican Congressman and current presidential contender. Unusual in that when push comes to shove we of the left be on opposite sides of the barricades (and in that same position with other more “leftist” elements as well). But not that day. That day the central slogan of “Hands Off Iran” applied as a draw to hardened anti-imperialist leftists and quirky right-wing libertarians alike. So while no one needed to buy into the Ron Paul rationale (see leaflet from demonstration below) for being there and the Ron Paul supporter who spoke received some boos, some justly deserved boos, this was a principled united front. See, on some rare occasions you can unite with the devil and his (or her) grandmother. Let that be a leftist politics 101 lesson for young, and old.

What Should Antiwar Progressives do in 2012?

By now most everyone at this Day of Action knows that Obama is not the lesser evil. He is in fact the "more effective evil" as Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report labels him since he has carried on and expanded the wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa while largely silencing opposition from progressives.

What is to be done then? Let us begin with the proposition that the highest duty of those of us living in the heart of the U.S. Empire is to stop the sanctions and endless wars that kill so many people - over a million in Iraq alone and that after hundreds of thousands more died there, 500,000 children among them, in the Clinton era sanctions. A second obligation is to preserve our civil liberties so that we can fight against war and for whatever we think is decent at home.

Only one candidate for the presidential race stands for these two principles and has done so consistently for decades. That candidate is Ron Paul.

But, you may say, Ron Paul is not a progressive and I am.
Elections must be approached tactically not theologically. First of all Ron Paul is not for eliminating Medicare or Medicaid or Social Security. So those who rely now on the social safety net are safe. But Paul does want to allow young people to opt out of these programs should he wish to do so. As long as we have our freedoms - of speech and assembly -he will not succeed in that. We will win that argument. And the Dems as an opposition might even start to fight for those programs rather than undermine them as they are doing now - with Obama's cuts in the payroll tax which finances these programs. People hang on to these programs once they have them.

So we have a moral obligation to support Ron Paul in order to stop the slaughter of innocents worldwide by the US Empire,

What should we do? Here in MA one should vote for Paul in the primary. There is no real contest in the Dem primary and no sense in voting for someone there. It is far better for Ron Paul to get the nomination than Newt or Mitt, the latter being a near perfect clone of Obama. And every vote for Ron Paul moves the Republican Party closer to principles of civil liberties and anti-interventionism.

You can vote in the Republican primary if you are registered as "unenrolled" or Republican. We should all do so as soon as possible. And it would be better to register as Republican since in that case one can have a voice in determining the delegates to the Republican convention. The delegates are pledged to the winner of the primary ON THE FIRST BALLOT at the nominating convention. After that they are free to vote as they see fit. If there is a deadlocked convention, Ron Paul can win if enough delegates are in his camp. Do you want to influence the process? Then REGISTER REPUBLICAN BY FEBRUARY 15. That is the first step. To find out more, contact

Finally this is not just a candidacy, but a movement with a plan to grow and a dedicated following of young voters. Help build this movement. Register "R" and support Ron Paul. Deadline is Feb. 15.

Join us in the Boston Chapter of ComeHomeAmerica.

From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Communist Future-SYC Speaker at NY Holiday Appeal-Only Workers Revolution Can End Capitalist Immiseration- A Critique Of The Occupy Movement

Markin comment on this series:

One of the declared purposes of this space is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-communist wing. To that end I have made commentaries and provided archival works in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over. More importantly, for the long haul, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common communist future. That is no small task or easy task given the differences of generations; differences of political milieus worked in; differences of social structure to work around; and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses.

There is no question that back in my youth I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available today. When I developed political consciousness very early on, albeit liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American For Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view. As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I knew they were around but not in my area.

The archival material to be used in this series is weighted heavily toward the youth movements of the early American Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S). For more recent material I have relied on material from the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the youth group of the Spartacist League (U.S.), both because they are more readily available to me and because, and this should give cause for pause, there are not many other non-CP, non-SWP youth groups around. As I gather more material from other youth sources I will place them in this series.

Finally I would like to finish up with the preamble to the Spartacist Youth Club’s What We Fight For statement of purpose:

"The Spartacus Youth Clubs intervene into social struggles armed with the revolutionary internationalist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We work to mobilize youth in struggle as partisans of the working class, championing the liberation of black people, women and all the oppressed. The SYCs fight to win youth to the perspective of building the Leninist vanguard party that will lead the working class in socialist revolution, laying the basis for a world free of capitalist exploitation and imperialist slaughter."

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a Bolshevik youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become professional revolutionaries with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.
Workers Vanguard No. 995
3 February 2012

SYC Speaker at NY Holiday Appeal-Only Workers Revolution Can End Capitalist Immiseration

(Young Spartacus pages)

We print below a speech, edited for publication, by Rosie Gonzalez of the New York Spartacus Youth Club. The speech was given on January 6 at the Partisan Defense Committee’s Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners in New York.

Welcome! My name is Rosie and this is my third Holiday Appeal. I joined the Spartacus Youth Club a little over a year ago, after I broke from radical-liberal activism. I came to understand the class nature of the capitalist state, the social power of the labor movement, and based on this I learned that it is simply not enough to just have good intentions and to put your body on the street. One must have a party based on a Marxist program, developed through the study of victories and defeats of the past. Now I can stand here and say: We Trotskyists of the Spartacus Youth Clubs demand the immediate freedom of all class-war prisoners and all fighters against capitalist oppression! We say they should not have spent one second in jail.

We do not rely on the capitalist injustice system to free these brave men and women. The SYCs fight against any illusions in the bourgeois state on the campuses, in demonstrations, and in the streets. We fight to win youth to the side of the working class—this is where the social power lies in the struggle for the liberation of blacks, women and all of the oppressed. We of the SYC understand that only through workers revolution will the racist horrors of American capitalism be tossed into the dustbin of history—all the fighters against oppression, the women and men that are behind bars today, tomorrow will be free.

The Spartacus Youth Clubs are the youth groups of the Trotskyist Spartacist League, the U.S. section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). We intervene into social struggles armed with a revolutionary-internationalist program. At Zuccotti Park we intervened into different demonstrations surrounding the “Occupy” movement. We did sales, gave a presentation about Marxism to a left-wing group called “Class War Camp” and we protested the police repression of the Occupiers.

We also took students and other youth with us to the Verizon strike pickets to show them some class struggle and why the defense of unions is so central. The working class has been on the defensive for years now, particularly since the capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union. At the same time, every strike is an opening for the Spartacist League to show the need to fight for class-struggle leadership.

The politics of the protesters whom we met at Occupy Wall Street ranged anywhere from open patriotism to anarchoid idealism. We found that the best way to show them the power of the revolutionary working class was to study the Russian Revolution. We encountered real interest at our class series on the Russian Revolution at City College (CCNY). We presented the lessons of this world-historic working-class victory as a counterposition to the stupefying, populist, anti-Marxist slogan of “We are the 99 percent,” which does not recognize the sharp class divisions in society and instead disguises the class nature of the capitalist state and all of its political parties. It lumps the working class together with the petty bourgeoisie and even parts of the capitalist class as well. The truth is that the problem is not the “greed” of the bankers (although there is plenty of that); the problem is the whole capitalist system itself. What is really necessary is the mobilization of the working class against the property-owning capitalist class. The working class has the social power and the historic interest to overthrow the whole capitalist profit system and lay the basis for a socialist society free from exploitation and oppression.

The Russian Revolution showed us how the Bolsheviks led the workers, organized in soviets, to power and threw off the chains of oppressive imperial Russia. The working class took state power and got rid of the capitalist profit system altogether. This is our model—for new October Revolutions worldwide!

This sets us apart from so-called socialists like Workers World Party and the International Socialist Organization (ISO) who are lapping up the liberal politics of the Occupy movement. Workers World called the Occupy protests a “fledgling revolution” and the ISO recently stated that they had “fundamentally shifted the political landscape in the U.S.” Tell that to workers like the militant ILWU pickets in Longview, Washington, who were attacked by the cops last year. That’s the political landscape! So the question is why would these self-proclaimed socialist organizations be uncritically hailing a movement that has no intention of dismantling capitalism? Because they have no interest in dismantling capitalism. In essence, these groups lend ardent support to bourgeois democracy. Just take, for example, the enthusiastic support the ISO gave to the Libyan “rebels” last year. These “rebel” forces were supported by U.S. imperialism and its Commander-in-Chief, Obama, who bombed Tripoli in the name of “democracy.” At home, the reformist left’s support to the Occupy movement is just another expression of its “fight the right” agenda, which amounts to nothing more than building illusions in and support for the Democrats.

The Occupy protesters constantly talk about “reclaiming our democracy.” This country was founded on the enslavement of blacks and the genocide of Native Americans. Its history is riddled with the bodies of working-class fighters killed at the hands of the police or the courts. The purpose of this government has always been to defend the property and profits of the ruling class.

We, as communist revolutionaries, always ask the question—democracy for which class? The facade of democracy serves to obscure the fact that the capitalist state is an instrument of organized violence—at its core the police, military, courts and prisons—for maintaining capitalist rule. From CCNY to Zuccotti Park, we are constantly arguing against illusions in the cops. Cops are not workers—they are strikebreakers who act in the interest of the fundamentally racist ruling class, the bourgeoisie. And that’s why we read and teach Lenin’s The State and Revolution.

In November, at a demonstration at City College, students protested a planned tuition hike and we led the chants, “Cops off campus! Free quality education! Abolish the administration!” We raised the call for worker/teacher/student control of the schools. The student protesters, many of whom were black and Latino, had picked up some of our slogans. These chants were counterposed to the politics of the liberal leadership of the demonstration, Students United for a Free CUNY, who accept the framework of capitalism by begging for a few crumbs.

Our starting point is to have a clear class opposition to capitalist politicians like Obama and the Democratic Party. The Democrats were once the party in defense of slavery and later the party of Jim Crow. They aim, as does the bourgeoisie as a whole, to “divide and conquer” so their profits will rise. Racism is all part and parcel of the maintenance of the capitalist order. The “war on terror,” the “war on drugs,” the war against abortion rights—these are wars on blacks, women and the working class as a whole! Just look at Obama’s outrageous ban on over-the-counter access to morning-after pills for teenagers. These are young women under 17 years old who will not have easy access to a simple pill, making it harder for them to avoid having children. This is criminal! It serves to tighten the grip of social control and enforce the sexual repression of young women. Again and again you can see that the Democrats are really just the other party of capitalism and war. This is why we have always and consistently raised the slogan “Break with the Democrats!” and why we call to build a multiracial workers party that fights for a workers government.

The only way out of this hell is through workers revolution. The victory of the socialist revolution in this country will be achieved only through the struggle of the multiracial working class, under the leadership of the revolutionary vanguard party. In the course of the struggle, unbreakable bonds will be forged between these different sections of the working class. Then, we will ensure at last the end of wage slavery, racism, and exploitation. Join this fight! Join the Spartacus Youth Club!

On The 41st Anniversary Of The Death Of Black Panther George Jackson-From San Quentin To Attica To Pelican Bay- Never Forget!

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the black liberation fighter and Black Panther Party leader, George Jackson.

Bob Dylan- George Jackson Lyrics

I woke up this morning
There were tears in my bed
They killed a man I really loved
Shot him through the head

Lord, Lord, they cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord, they laid him in the ground

Sent him off to prison
For a seventy dollar robbery
Closed the door behind him
And they threw away the key

Lord, Lord, they cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord, they laid him in the ground
He wouldn't take shit from no one
He wouldn't bow down or kneel
Authorities, they hated him
Because he was just too real

Lord, Lord, they cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord, they laid him in the ground

Prison guards, they cursed him
As they watched him from above
But they were frightened of his power
They were scared of his love

Lord, Lord, so they cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord, they laid him in the ground

Sometimes I think this whole world
Is one big prison yard
Some of us are prisoners
The rest of us are guards

Lord, Lord, they cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord, they laid him in the ground

*Black Studies Pioneer Professor John Hope Franklin Passes On- A Belated Tribute

Click on the headline to link to a "The New York Times" obituary, dated March 25, 2009, for the pioneer black studies scholar, Professor John Hope Franklin.

February Is Black History Month

Markin comment:

Somehow I missed the passing of this great black studies academic pioneer last year, a vital source for my knowledge of black history in my youth when this kind of information was not readily available, or had not been "discovered". My missing his passing is strange as well since last February (2009) I reviewed his "Black Reconstruction" as part of Black History Month. I make belated amends here. Hats off to Professor Franklin.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To… Be-Bop-No Doo-Wop

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Capris performing There's A Moon Out Tonight.

Confused by the headline? Don’t be. All it does is refer to a previous seemingly endless series of Oldies But GoodiesCD reviews in this space a while back. (Cold war, red scare, jail break-out 1950s-1960s , there at the creation, there when Elvis, Jerry Lee, Chuck, Wanda and their brethren were young and hungry and we were too, oldies but goodies, just so you know.) That gargantuan task required sifting through ten, no, fifteen volumes of material that by the end left me limping, and crying uncle. Christ who am I kidding I was ready for the sweet safe confines of some convalescent home just to ‘dry out” a little and prepare myself for yet another twelve-step “recovery” program and I haven’t even gotten to 1960 before I went off the deep end. See, as I explained in the last few reviews of the series, just when I thought I was done at Volume Ten I found that it was a fifteen, fifteen count ‘em, volume series. In any case I whipped off those last five reviews in one shot and was done with it. Praise be and all of that.

The reason for such haste at that point seemed self-explanatory. After all how much could we rekindle, endlessly rekindle, memories, teen memories, teen high school memories mainly, from a relatively short, if important, part of our lives, even for those who lived and died by the songs (or some of the songs, others have died, mercifully died, and gone to YouTube heaven to be clicked “like” by about three people, including the up-loader, maybe) in the reviewed compilations. How many times could one read about guys with two social left feet (and I won’t even mention geeky clothes and shoes brought on by an onslaught of, well, family poverty in my case), the social conventions of dancing close (and not being hip to mouthwash and deodorant wisdom, although very hip to that fragrance a certain she was wearing, that maddening come hither fragrance), wallflowers (and their invisibleness) , the avoidance of wallflower-dom (at all costs, including cutting loose on long time friendships with geeky future lawyers, professors and doctors, jesus) , meaningful sighs (ho-hum), meaningless sighs (ah, gee), the longings, eternal longings from tween to twenty, for certain obviously unattainable shes (or hes for those of the opposite sex then, or maybe even same sex but that was a book sealed with seven seals, maybe more ), the trials and tribulations associated with high school gymnasium crepe paper-adorned dances, moonlight-driven dream thoughts of after dance doings, and hanging around to the bitter end for that last dance of the night to prove... what. And there and then I threw in the towel, I thought. Bastante.
Well now I have “recovered” enough to take a little different look at the music of this period-the doo wop sound that hovered in the background radio of every kid, every kid who had a radio, a transistor radio, to keep parental prying ears at arms length, and who was moonstruck enough to have been searching, high and low, for a sound that was not just the same old, same old that his or her parents listened to. Early rock and rock, especially that early Sun Record stuff, and plenty of rhythm and blues met that need but so did, for a time, old doo wop-the silky sounds of lead singer-driven, lyrics-driven, vocal-meshing harmony that was the stuff of teenage “petting” parties and staid old hokey school dances, mainly, in my case, elementary school dances.

As I mentioned in the oldies but goodies reviews not all of the material put forth was good, nor was all of it destined to, or meant to be, playable fifty or sixty years later on some “greatest hits” compilation but some of songs had enough chordal energy, lyrical sense, and sheer danceability, slow danceabilty, to make any Jack or Jill start snapping fingers then, or now. As I asked in that previous series and is appropriate to ask here as well what about the now seeming mandatory question of the best song of the times-doo-wop variation. The one that stands out as the inevitable end of the night high school dance (or maybe even middle school) song? The song that you, maybe, waited around all night for just to prove that you were not a wallflower, and more importantly, had the moxie to, mumbly-voiced, parched-throated, sweaty-handed, asked a girl to dance (women can relate their own experiences, probably similar).

Here The Capris’ There’s A Moon Out Tonight fills the bill. And, yes, I know, this is one of those slow ones that you had to dance close on. And just hope, hope to high heaven, that you didn’t destroy your partner’s shoes and feet. Well, as I have noted before, one learns a few social skills in this world if for no other reason that to “impress” that certain she (or like before he for shes, or nowadays, just mix and match your sexual preferences) mentioned above. I did, didn’t you?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Victory To The Greek Workers- Build Workers Councils Now-Fight For A Workers Government!

Click on the headline to link to an Socialist Alternative (CWI)website analysis of the pre-revolutionary situation in Greece.

Markin comment:

The situation in Greece today cries out to high heaven for a revolution and a revolutionary party to intervene and lead the damn thing. Enough of one day general strikes. General strikes only pose the question of power, of dual power. Who shall rule. We say labor must rule. Strike the final blow. Back to the communist road. The Greek workers are just this minute the vanguard, yes, terrible word to some, vanguard of the international working class struggle. Forward to victory.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010-Repost from American Left History blog

*Be Still My Heart- On Calling For The Greek Communist Parties And Trade Unions To Take Power

Markin comment:

On May 10, 2010 I posted an entry on the situation in Greece in response to a post from the International Marxist Tendency’s Greek section’s analysis of the tasks that confront revolutionaries today. I agreed with the comment in the post that general strikes were of limited value if they did not, at some point, pose the question of who shall rule- working people or the capitalists. I went further and proposed two propaganda points that revolutionaries in Greece, and their supporters internationally, should be fighting for. Right now.

The first point revolved around the fight to create workers councils, committees of action or factory committees in order to fight for a revolutionary perspective. That program, the specifics which are better to left to those on the ground, needs to include refusal to pay the capitalists debts, under whatever guise, defense of the hard fought social welfare gains of the past, the struggle against the current government’s austerity program, the fight against any taint of popular frontism (opposition to alliances, at this critical juncture, with non-working class forces where the working class is the donkey and the small capitalist parties are the riders), and prepare to pose the question of who shall rule. Thus there is plenty of work that needs to be started now while the working masses are mobilized and in a furor over the current situation.

The second point, which flows out of the first, is the call for the Communist parties and trade unions to take power in their own right and in the interest of the working class. Now, clearly, and this is where some confusion has entered the picture, this is TODAY a propaganda call but is a concrete way to pose the question of who shall rule. Of course, we revolutionaries should have no illusions in the Stalinists and ex-Stalinists who run those parties and who, in previous times, have lived very comfortably with their various popular front, anti-monopolist strategies that preserve capitalism. However, today those organizations call for anti-governmental action and are listened to by the masses in the streets.

The point is to call their political bluff, carefully, but insistently. In that sense we are talking over the heads of the leaders to their social bases. Now that tactic is always proper for revolutionaries to gain authority but today we have to have a more concrete way to do so. In short, call on the Greek labor militants to call on their parties and unions to take power. And if not, then follow us. This is not some exotic formula from nowhere but reflects the sometimes painful experience, at least since the European revolutions of 1848.

Note: I headed today’s headline with the expression “be still my heart” for a reason. It has been a very long time since we have been able to, even propagandistically, call for workers parties on the European continent to take power. Especially, after the demise of the Soviet Union, for Stalinist (reformed or otherwise) parties to do so. Frankly, I did not think, as a practical matter, that I would be making such a call in Europe again in my lifetime. All proportions guarded, this may be the first wave of a new revolutionary upsurge on that continent. But, hell, its nice just to be able to, rationally, make that political call. In any case, the old utopian dream of a serious capitalist United States of Europe is getting ready to go into the dustbin of history. Let’s replace it with a Socialist Federation of Europe- and Greece today is the “epicenter”. SYRIZA-KKE to power!

Victory To The Greek Workers- Build Workers Councils Now-Fight For A Workers Government!

Click on the headline to link to an International Marxist Tendency website analysis of the pre-revolutionary situation in Greece.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

*Avenge The Communist Defeat In The Greek Civil War Of 1946-49- The Lessons Of History

Markin comment:

Politics is sometimes a strange business. We all recognize that history does not exactly repeat itself. And it is also true that humankind makes its own history- although not always to its liking. Some things though, like the communist defeat in the Greek Civil War, despite our disagreements with its Stalinist leadership, were definitely not to our liking, but may be capable of reversal. Or at least of a modicum of historical justice. That is the backdrop of today's fight by the working class in the streets of Greece. May they win, and win big.

Avenge the lost in the 1946-49 civil war!

From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Communist Future-Black Oppression & Proletarian Revolution-Part 6: The American Communist Party And Black Struggles In The American Great Depression Of The 1930s ("Young Spartacus," September 1974)

One of the declared purposes of this space is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-communist wing. To that end I have made commentaries and provided archival works in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over. More importantly, for the long haul, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common communist future. That is no small task or easy task given the differences of generations; differences of political milieus worked in; differences of social structure to work around; and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses.

There is no question that back in my youth I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available today. When I developed political consciousness very early on, albeit liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American for Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view. As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I knew they were around but not in my area.

The archival material to be used in this series is weighted heavily toward the youth movements of the early American Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S). For more recent material I have relied on material from the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the youth group of the Spartacist League (U.S.), both because they are more readily available to me and because, and this should give cause for pause, there are not many other non-CP, non-SWP youth groups around. As I gather more material from other youth sources I will place them in this series.

Finally I would like to finish up with the preamble to the Spartacist Youth Club’s What We Fight For statement of purpose:

"The Spartacus Youth Clubs intervene into social struggles armed with the revolutionary internationalist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We work to mobilize youth in struggle as partisans of the working class, championing the liberation of black people, women and all the oppressed. The SYCs fight to win youth to the perspective of building the Leninist vanguard party that will lead the working class in socialist revolution, laying the basis for a world free of capitalist exploitation and imperialist slaughter."

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a Bolshevik youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become professional revolutionaries with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.
From Young Spartacus, September, 1974

Black Oppression & Proletarian Revolution-Part 6: The American Communist Party And Black Struggles In The American Great Depression Of The 1930s

[Markin: Title somewhat expanded for today's young audience who may not have been able to decipher the abbreviated original title]

Communist Party black work in the 1930's took place in the context of the so-called "Third Period." The Sixth World Congress of the by-then Stalin-ized Communist International (CI), held in 1928, heralded an impending "Third Period" of inevitable and final capitalist collapse in which the struggle for reforms was no longer possible. Thus, all reformist organizations, especially the "yellow" trade unions and social-democratic parties (which contained the majority of the organized labor movement), were now considered to be "social-fascist" organizations. Much of the CPUSA's work in this period was thus marked by sectarianism and ultraleftism.

While the CP of this period was deformed by dishonesty, political zigzags and egregious departures from Marxism, nonetheless in the area of black work the 1930's represents the CP's heroic period. Despite the erroneous "Black Belt" theory and the call for "Negro self-determination" in this territory (a call which was never raised agitationally but remained part of the CP's written propaganda), the CP's work in practice combined a proletarian orientation with an awareness of the strategic need to fight racial oppression throughout all layers of American society, especially to address the problems of poor and unemployed blacks.
Thus, the CP's black work took place in the labor movement, among the unemployed, in the South and in the area of legal defense. This work stands in stark contrast to the CP's subsequent plunge into abject opportunism (and even adaptation to Jim Crowism in WWII) and is rich in lessons on how to conduct and how not to conduct a genuine Leninist struggle against racial oppression.

The Depression, Blacks and the Communist Party

The catastrophic impact of the Great Depression on the U.S. working class was keenly felt by its most oppressed members, black workers. By March 1933 the Bureau of Labor Standards reported that 25 percent of the workforce, or 17 million workers, were unemployed. For those who could find work, wages on the average had fallen 45 percent. While separate statistics on the black population were not kept at this time, the National Urban League estimated that black unemployment exceeded white joblessness by 30 to 60 percent (a figure which has grown larger: since the Depression). Most black employment was in marginal "service" jobs: 25 percent of the black non-farm, wage-earning population were domestics. T. Arnold Hill of the Urban League pointed out:

"Heretofore [the black's] employment problem has been chiefly one of advancement to positions commensurate with his ability. Today he is endeavoring to hold the line against advancing armies of white workers intent upon gaining and content to accept occupations which were once thought too menial for white hands."

—quoted in Raymond Walters, Negroes and the Great Depression

The Depression was a period of massive social struggle on the part of workers and the unemployed in which blacks played a leading role. Much of this social struggle took place outside of the American Federation of Labor-dominated established labor movement. Only 10 percent of the non-farm workforce was organized and, of the 1.5 million non-farm black workers, only a little more than 3 percent or 50,000 workers were organized and one-half of the unionized black workers belonged to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

Much of this social struggle, especially on the part of blacks, was dominated by the Communist Party. At the very beginning of the Depression the CP launched National Unemployed Councils and by 6 March 1930 was able to organize demonstrations in major American cities with 1,250,000 participants.

CP defense work, conducted through its defense arm, the International Labor Defense (ILD), was in the forefront of the struggle against Southern lynch "justice," a struggle which found its most dramatic expression in the Scottsboro defense case. The CP was the first organization since the populist Southern Alliance and the Colored National Farmers Alliance of the 1890's to go into the South to fight lynch law and vigilante terror, and to organize southern sharecroppers and tenant farmers. The CP's launching of the weekly Southern Worker in Chattanooga reflected the commitment to work in the South. During 1930 the CP recruited its first substantial number of black members—1,000 blacks joined the party. The moribund CP black organization, the American Negro Labor Congress (ANLC) was transformed into the League of Struggle for Negro Rights (LSNR) at a convention held in November 1930 and the irregular publication of the ANLC, the Negro Champion, was transformed into a regular weekly,
The Liberator, edited by Cyril Briggs. The CP's struggle against Jim Crowism in the unions, though often conducted through the erroneous and sectarian "red unions" of the "Third Period," laid the foundation for the later success of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in organizing basic industry on a bi-racial basis.

The "Third Period" and CP Black Work

The Sixth World Congress of the CI, where the "Third Period" policies were laid out, also passed a "Resolution on the Negro Question in the U.S." which established the "Negro Self-Determination in the Black Belt" position. This was to haunt the CP until it was finally dropped in 1959 (see "Negro Self-Determination in the Black Belt," Young Spartacus, May-June 1974). But it was also this Congress and its special commission on the black question which spurred the CP into an aggressive orientation toward black work.

Prior to 1930 the CP had never had more than 50 black members. The "Resolution on the Negro Question" stated that the moribund ANLC "continues to exist only nominally" and called for the CP to "strengthen this organization as a medium through which we can extend the work of the party among the Negro masses and mobilize the Negro workers under our leadership."

The next national convention of the ANLC was not held until November 1930, where the ANLC was transformed into the LSNA. This convention capped a recruitment drive which had brought in 1,000 black members. Harry Haywood, the most faithful and consistent advocate of the "Black Belt" position, was made chairman of the LSNR.

In his report on the LSNR founding convention, Cyril Briggs, editor of the Liberator, defined the LSNR as follows:

"To begin with, it is a mistake to lay stress on the LSNR as a mass organization. The LSNR consists of groups of active supporters and followers of the Liberator. The aim is not to build a mass organization, but to build the Liberator into a mass organizer or the agitator and organizer of the Negro liberation movement. "The LSNR supports the Communist Party as the only political party carrying on a struggle against Negro oppression, but the LSNR is not a political party. Nor is it a substitute for any political party. The LSNR supports the revolutionary trade unions of the Trade Union Unity League in opposition to the treacherous, reformist and Jim Crow policies of the American Federation of Labor with its fascist leadership. But the LSNR is not a substitute for the TUUL or any of its unions." —Liberator, 11 November 1930

Part of the problem was that the CI under Stalin transformed the Leninist transitional organization from a vehicle for mass work into a substitute for mass work. Lenin saw the. need for special methods of work among the specially oppressed, e.g., blacks and women, and argued that the CPs should set up transitional organizations—led by party cadre and functioning as arms of the party— which would address the special needs of minorities and women and attempt to bring them into the communist movement. Depending upon the period, such organizations might or might not obtain a mass character. The CP under Stalin opted for the creation of front groups that only created the illusion (and probably only for CP members) of mass work but in fact represented an abandonment of genuine mass work. The problem of front-groupism was complicated by the tendency toward sectoralism or poly-vanguardism (a la the present-day Socialist Workers Party), as expressed in the 1928 "Resolution on the Negro Question":

"It is the duty of Negro workers to organize through the mobilization of the broad masses of the Negro population the struggle of the agricultural laborers and tenant farmers against all forms of semi-feudal oppression. On the other hand, it is the duty of the Communist Party of the U.S.A. to mobilize and rally the broad masses of the white workers for active participation in this struggle." This poly-vanguardism flowed from the attempt to fit the dynamic of the American revolution into Stalin's "two-stage revolution."

The first, “national-democratic" stage would be carried out by blacks in the "Black Belt" against "semi-feudal oppression." Hence, the principal axis of the black question was seen as agrarian, concentrated in the "Black Belt," and the principal enemy of blacks was not capitalism but "semi-feudal oppression"!!

It is easy to see from this schema how the ultraleft rhetoric of the "Third Period" in which Roosevelt, the NAACP and the AFL leadership were all considered "fascists," was easily converted in the post-1935 "People's Front" period where political blocs with the NAACP, Roosevelt and the AFL bureaucracy became "progressive."

To its credit the CP transcended in practice its poly-vanguardist theories and insisted on the bi-racial character of the LSNR. However, the CP could not decide whether to restrict the LSNR to a newspaper support club or to create a real black transitional organization, with its own organizational life and linked to the party through its leading and most conscious members.

CP Sectarianism on the United Front

The relationship between the LSNR and other black and non-CP labor organizations was shaped by the "Third Period" concept of the united front. Since, according to the CP, the acuteness of the capitalist crisis had converted the leaderships of all non-CP-led organizations into fascists, there could be no agreements with such leaderships, even for common action (the united front from above). Instead there could only be "united fronts from below," i.e., between the CP's Trade Union Unity League and the ranks of the AFL around the TUUL program, between the LSNR and the ranks of the NAACP or Pan-African Congress around the LSNR program.
Several years later when the CP had liquidated the LSNR into the pro-Rooseveltian National Negro Congress, James W. Ford, leader of CP black work during the "People's Front" period, stated:

"The original weaknesses of the LSNR were identical with those of the American Negro Labor Congress. Calling for affiliation on the basis of the complete program, the LSNR tended to make the ANLC. Its demands ran from a "boycott of newspapers and radios that portrayed the Negro in a derogatory manner" to "armed self-defense."

There was in fact enormous confusion in the CP on just what the LSNR was supposed to be aside from a weekly newspaper. While the Briggs report denied that the LSNR was supposed to be a mass organization, subsequent CP reports presented the LSNR in another guise. For example, the CP Party Organizer for May-June 1932 reports: "We have in the Party in Chicago alone approximately 500 members....We organized 13 groups of the LSNR with over 1,000 members, 80percent non-party, 20 percent Negroes."

In reality the weakness of the LSNR was that it was not transformed into a genuine Leninist transitional organization, seeking to recruit both individuals and groups to its complete program and at the same time pursuing agreements for common action even with the "social-fascist" leaders of the petty-bourgeois black organizations and the reformist trade unions. By attempting to address the ranks of these organizations without politically confronting 'their leaderships, the LSNR assisted the reformists in maintaining a hold on their memberships.

TUUL and CP Black Work

The LSNR was made additionally superfluous because many of the tasks which might have fallen to a transitional black organization were absorbed by the "Third Period" "revolutionary unions. “While the Sixth Congress still exhorted Communists to work in the "social-fascist"-led reformist unions, the CPs were expected to organize their own "revolutionary unions" even where reformist unions already existed.

In order to carry out this new turn the old industrial arm of the CP, the Trade Union Educational League, was converted into the Trade Union Unity League, at a convention in Cleveland in 1929. Departments of the TUEL, often no larger than the CP fraction in that particular industry were converted into "red unions." These unions were supposed to be more than just the most militant defenders of the economic interests of workers. They were to organize the unemployed, organize the unorganized, champion black rights and directly struggle for power. The program of the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers (which, like the TUEL and TUUL, was affiliated to the Red International of Trade Unions, the industrial arm of the CI) called for "Special Unions of Negro Workers" in the following cases:

"a. where white unions refuse Negro workers, b. in unions where Negroes are admitted but treated as second class members, without equal rights and privileges, special unions must be organized."

It combined the call for special black trade unions with the demand for "Negro Self-Determination in the Black Belt."

However, the CP" revolutionary dual unions" were the first serious effort to organize black workers and the first serious outside challenge to AFL Jim Crow unions since the demise of the IWW. The importance of this work was based on an objective reality which "was in direct contradiction to the CI's characterization of the black question as an agrarian question, namely, two-thirds of the blacks gainfully employed by 1930 were not in agriculture.

While many were in the marginal service sector, blacks were also concentrated in unskilled jobs in basic industry, previously considered too "menial" for whites but which were becoming increasingly important to modern industrial capitalism. In mining blacks composed 7.6 percent of the workforce, in transport 10.3 percent, in steel 16.2 percent, in the building trades 22.7 percent and in the unskilled jobs in meatpacking, 25 percent.

Communist Black Work in the South

One exhortation of the "Resolution on the Negro Question" was "the beginning of systematic work in the South." Such work required the greatest courage, tenacity and self-sacrifice. In the 1930's the South still contained a large majority of the black population, two-thirds of which lived in rural areas. A large portion of the black rural population was composed of the elderly, the young and the unemployed—capitalism’s "surplus population."

Those blacks who could find work on the land were subjected to peonage,
debt and convict slavery, vagrancy laws, disenfranchisements, segregation, lynching and mob violence. In the spring of 1931 the CP organized the Sharecroppers Union (SCU) in Tallapoosa and Lee Counties, Alabama. According to the Birmingham News of 20 July 1931, the unions were organizing blacks to demand "social equality with the white race, $2 a day for work, and not ask but 'demand what you want, and if you don't get it, take it'" (quoted in Jamieson, Labor Unions in American Agriculture).
The struggle to organize the SCU was conducted in a state of perpetual civil war with both "legal" and extra-legal armed vigilante groups. One of the most serious events in this war was the shoot-oat with vigilante gangs organized by the planters at Camp Hill, Tallapoosa County, in December 1932. Four blacks were murdered, twenty were wounded and five were given long prison sentences. The SCU was finally able to launch its first strike in the fall of 1934 when 500 cotton pickers struck for a wage rate of 75 cents per hundredweight, a demand won in a few areas. By 1935 the SCU claimed 10,000 members. In the spring of that year it led a strike of 1,500 cotton pickers for almost a month for a basic wage of $l/day.

The Scottsboro Case

The most famous CP black work during the Depression centered around a defense case: the Scottsboro nine. On 21 March 1931 nine black youth, all under the age of 21 (the youngest was 13) were charged with raping two white girls on a freight train and were jailed in Scottsboro, Alabama. Despite contradictory testimony at the trial, a local court found eight of them guilty and sentenced them to death. The CP, through its defense arm, the International Labor Defense, rapidly rallied to the defense of the Scottsboro youths and turned their case into an international symbol of the horrors of southern lynch law.

The ILD was begun by James Cannon, who later became the founder of American Trotskyism. At the time of his expulsion from the CP in 1928 for Trotskyism, Cannon was also removed from the ILD. The ILD rapidly followed the "Third Period" drift into ultraleft, phrasemongering and the sectarian "united front only from below" policies.

Thus, the ILD sent a telegram to the first trial judge threatening that he would be held "personally responsible unless the defendants were immediately released." Needless to say, such empty threats did nothing to win the release of the Scottsboro defendants. Just before he became the most groveling spokesman for the application of the "People's Front" to black work, James W. Ford wrote in an article inappropriately titled, "The United Front in the Field of Negro Work" (Communist, February 1935):

"... among liberal groups who still believe in democratic and civil rights, support will be gained when the fight for Scottsboro is bound up with the national liberation of the Negro people and with the struggle of the entire American working class for the dictatorship of the proletariat."

Nevertheless even the CP/ILD's most persistent and nagging critic at the time, the NAACP, gave the CP and ILD grudging support for the power and effectiveness of their defense efforts. For example, the NAACP publication Crisis (December 1935) stated: "The exploitation of Negroes by the South has been pitilessly exposed to the world. An important legal victory has been won against the lily-white jury system, As far as propaganda is concerned the whole Negro race is far ahead of where it would have been had not the Communists fought the case in the way they did."

The Scottsboro defendants were not executed, but were nevertheless given long prison terms; the last of the Scottsboro defendants was not released from prison until 1950.

CP Polemics in the Black Movement

There are important lessons for revolutionaries today in the CP's polemics with other tendencies in the black movement and in its ability to assimilate and transform a rapidly acquired black membership into a communist cadre. And in this area a most useful document is Harry Haywood's report on black work to the Eighth Convention of the CP in 1934, subsequently reprinted under a title which is in itself a polemic: The Road to Negro Liberation: The Tasks of the Communist Party in Winning Working Class Leadership of the Negro Liberation Struggles and tine Fight Against Reactionary Nationalist-Reformist Movements among the Negro People. Haywood's attack on black nationalism, especially the "self-help" schemes of cultural nationalists and community-control advocates, still rings true to-day:

"These movements for the most part advocate a voluntary acceptance of segregation and Jim Crowism as inevitable. The fight against it is a folly, make the best of it. The Negroes must draw in upon themselves, build
up their own life within the Jim Crow ghettoes. Hence they propose fantastic schemes for building self-sufficing economies among Negroes within the walls of segregation, in the Black Belt of the cities, under the leadership of businessmen and professionals, advancing all sorts of illusionary schemes for the establishment of cooperatives and industry along Jim Crow lines, holding forth the bourgeois Utopian perspective of eventually establishing industries which will be owned and operated by Negroes and furnish employment to Negro workers .... Here presumably... [black petty bourgeois] will have the opportunity of exploiting 'their own masses' free from competition and develop into a full-fledged bourgeoisie." Ironically, while no one denounced more vehemently than Haywood the "reactionary-Utopian schemes" of the black petty bourgeoisie to build up a black self-sufficient economy in the "Black Belt" of the urban ghettoes, there was also no stronger advocate of the reactionary-Utopian scheme of black "self-determination" in the rural ghetto of the southern "Black Belt." This highlights the contradiction between CP black work in practice and the erroneous theories developed to analyze the condition of southern blacks.

Party, Race and Cadre

CP black work during the Depression, work among tenants and sharecroppers, among the unemployed, the unorganized black proletariat, tenants' councils, and so on, attracted thousands of black members to its ranks. But the enduring test of the party which aspires to lead the proletariat to power is its ability to transform members into- cadre—into lifelong professional revolutionaries. And it is here that the CP in its "Third Period" may be judged and found wanting.

Many joined the CP but few stayed. Part of the problem was objective:
Social oppression which is the fuel or the spontaneous indignation and rebellion of the masses, the motor force of revolution, also cuts "across lie all-sided development of human capacities which are demanded of the professional revolutionary. A few individuals rise above their circumstances. But the evicted tenant, the
downtrodden sharecropper, a spinner working the 14-hour days of the Gas-
Tonai mills, found the yoke of social oppression so great that they could only follow the CP for the short-term struggle.

But part of the problem was with the CP itself. No matter how aggressively it might champion the black liberation struggle and call forth from its membership enormous dedication and sacrifice, the CP was bureaucratized arty which was led by men who had traded their revolutionary perspective and integrity for Stalin's good favor, and this loss of integrity and perspective permeated all sides of the organization.

Thus when the Seventh CI Congress heralded the new period of the " People's Front" where yesterday's "social fascists" became today's "friends" of democracy,” labor or blacks, surprisingly little commotion occurred within the CP—few left or expressed >position to this major turn. The "principle" of unprincipledness had already been established. The party members and leadership had become inured to the necessity (i.e., if one intended to stay in the party or, in some cases, stay alive) of going along with Stalin's previous turns and zigzags somewhat minor relative to the 1935 turn)—many of which contained the political kernel of the future "People's Front" policies.

The cynicized CPUSA went on to rather discredit itself by its adaption to Jim Crowism in WWII. The triumphant revolutionary proletariat will bring the CP leadership to account for its many crimes, not the least of which was squandering a whole generation of Black recruits.