Statement on Ukraine

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

March 15, 2014

A dangerous situation continues to develop in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. With no solution in sight, there is major tension with potential for long-term instability and war. Many protesters in the Ukraine’s Maidan Square understandably are demanding democracy, clean government and economic justice. The repression and use of force by the Yanukovich government was reprehensible. However, rightwing nationalists and fascistic groups gained leadership in the movement. With the backing of the European Union and U.S. neo-cons, attempts at compromise were thwarted and a coup was staged. Russia responded with military action to safeguard its perceived national security interests including its naval base in Crimea, and is thus supporting a Crimean referendum to secede from the Ukraine.

The Obama administration, confronted by U.S. involvement engineered by Bush appointed State Department officials, sided with the neo-cons to back the new Ukrainian regime. Thus the president greeted the coup-installed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on March 12 at the White House in a highly publicized meeting. The U.S. increased its military maneuvers on Russia’s borders and is threatening visa restrictions, economic sanctions and various other ways to isolate Russia.

The Obama administration immediately proposed a billion dollar aid package for the new government, even as U.S. cities and pensions are going bankrupt and food stamps cut. U.S. energy companies savor the thought of huge deals to supply Western Europe with newly fracked natural gas if Russian supplies are cut. The IMF is contemplating various sorts of structural adjustment in the Ukrainian economy to benefit the rich. Meanwhile, there is no sign of Russia backing down or a resolution to the crisis.

Thus, the Obama-led centrist Democrats formed a block with right-wing Republicans and neo-cons. Anti-Russian propaganda is nearly universal in the mainstream media. Russia’s response has been universally condemned with no mention of the U.S.-European role in fomenting the illegal coup. Criticism of U.S. policy is confined to questioning whether the Obama response is too weak. These developments have increased the danger of war.The Progressive Democrats of America, however, issued a statement condemning US collaboration with fascist forces and thus split with the dominant US narrative.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West pledged to respect Russian’s national security concerns, advancing NATO “not one inch East.” Breaking their promises, U.S./NATO incorporated one Eastern European country after the other into NATO and the EU. An anti-ballistic missile system was installed in Eastern Europe, ostensibly to stop an Iranian attack, but obviously targeting Russian missile systems. The Western attempt to bring Ukraine into its orbit transgressed Russia’s most important “red line,” according to Prof. Stephen Cohen, and the Russian reaction was entirely predictable.

The Ukrainian situation is a clear example of the U.S. “Deep State” ( determining foreign policy – a combination of financial, corporate and military-industrial interests, motivated by anti-communist and now neo-con ideology. Formed at the end of World War II, the Deep State is the actual power center of U.S. capitalism and imperialism. The Deep State has the loyalty of many key government officials and has been able to push its policies with various successes over the last few decades, regardless of what party wins national elections. Thus the Obama administration is not fully in control of its own foreign policy. Influential neo-cons within the Deep State are currently putting forward a far-right agenda in not only Ukraine but also in Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Japan and other places, trying to substitute confrontation and military action for diplomacy. The neo-con objective is to persist in constructing the so-called “new American century” of regime change not only in the Middle East but eventually in Russia and China to facilitate their long-term goal of U.S. global hegemony.

The U.S. peace movement was strong in responding to the Syrian crisis last summer, surging to stop war. However, the response to the Ukraine crisis has been slow.

This is due in part to the shifting strategy of U.S. imperialism from a strategy of invasion and occupation during the Bush years to covert and high tech operations today. How does the antiwar movement oppose a covert program that is all but invisible? Organizing a consensus response to the new imperial strategy of mainly covert operations is a major challenge to the peace and justice movement.

CCDS urges:
  • No U.S. intervention in the Ukraine situation and no economic or military support for a government with major fascist participation.
  • Support for negotiations, demilitarization and a peaceful resolution of a dangerous situation.
  • Balanced and objective education to counter the rightwing mainstream narrative.
CCDS - - - National Office: 212-868-3733

Stop U.S. Intervention in Venezuela

Statement of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

March 5, 2014

Sensational headlines in the U.S. of opposition protests in Venezuela amid escalating violence have dominated the coverage of the corporate mainstream media over the past three weeks. This is part of a multipronged strategy by the U.S. government and multinational corporations to destabilize Venezuela politically and economically and pave the way for another coup attempt as was the case in 2002 during the Bush administration. These same policies have continued with the Obama Administration despite denials that it is backing the opposition. Such denials lack credibility given the results of extensive investigative reporting on U. S. funding for and training of leaders of the Venezuelan opposition and recent leaks of extensive communication between U.S. officials and right wing opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez.

None of the mainstream media narrative accurately reflects the complex reality of Venezuela. U.S. news and analyses are routinely distorted, manipulated, and even manufactured to support the corporate media's narrative which is that student-led protests have been violently repressed amidst severe government repression of speech and press in Venezuela. Anti-government protests that appear to engulf the country are in reality mainly in the wealthiest neighborhoods of Caracas.

According to a report by Mark Weisbot of the Guardian, there have been eight confirmed deaths but no evidence that they were caused by a repressive government crack-down. Actually a number of security officers have been arrested for crimes. And there has been random protestor-on-protestor violence, a far cry from a government policy of brutal force to squash dissent.

The mainstream media's narrative also includes sensational distortions and misinformation regarding Venezuela's economic situation. The economy is portrayed as being on the verge of collapse, due to bad policies and mismanagement of the Venezuelan government. The fact is that the government of President Maduro has continued the humanitarian “Bolivarian” policies of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, whose untimely death one year ago, is commemorated today, March 5th. Their government policies have reduced poverty dramatically and channeled the country’s resources to improve employment, education, health care and housing for the majority of Venezuelans.

Maduro’s government has won two national elections within the last year including 75 percent of municipal government offices two months ago. It is a legitimate, democratically-elected constitutional government. The policy of the U.S. government is an attack on democracy and constitutional government in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government faces many political and economic challenges. The CCDS stands in solidarity with the heroic workers and poor of Venezuela as they tackle these challenges.

The CCDS joins with peace and justice organizations in demanding:

  • An end to all U.S. government support, overt and covert, for the Venezuelan opposition as it constitutes an unacceptable and immoral intervention in the politics and economy of a sovereign nation
  • An end to all covert efforts to sabotage Venezuela's economy and cause suffering among the Venezuelan people.


Pete Seeger, Presente!

Homage to a Comrade: The Passing of Pete Seeger

“As most of you will know by now, my beloved brother Pete died peacefully, surrounded by close family members, at the Presbyterian Hospital (Columbia), New York City, on January 27th at 9:17 pm. His daughter Tinya, who had been caring for him for some time, was lovingly holding his hand. I was still in mid-air making a frantic attempt to get there from New Zealand. I arrived four hours too late. I take solace from our last phone calls where much was said but unspoken. I know many of you will be saddened by Pete’s death but we must remember that he led a very full and productive life. He leaves a prodigious body of work for us to enjoy, a legacy the enormity of which will continue to grow. He touched so many people’s lives, from children to the golden oldies like myself. As for me, I have lost the last person who has known me from birth and who has always been there for me. I cannot express how heavy losing Pete lies with me. My thanks to all for your kind and thoughtful condolences.

CCDS leader Jay Schaffner composed this summary of Pete’s life for his 80th birthday, and Pete only added more in this tradition in his last years, Even as his voice weakened, his message and spirit were strong to the end. We all knew that at the age of 94, this day was coming. Still the news pierced all of our hearts with dismay. Let us stand at attention and raise a fist in salute. A great man has passed, one who touched all of our lives, and will continue to do so.

I Remember Pete Seeger – A Tribute on his 80th Birthday

Pete Seeger – People’s Troubadour, Folk Singer, Clarion for Civil Rights, Labor and Peace, Pioneering Environmentalist, Socialist..

Remarks of Jay Schaffner at Evening to Honor Pete Seeger on his 80th Birthday- Nov. 12, 1999

Brothers and Sisters

I am very happy to welcome you to tonight’s program on behalf of the New York Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It is a real treat to be here to be able to learn from and celebrate with Pete Seeger on his 80th birthday. I guess I should let people in on a little secret – growing up as a child of the 1960s, as a product of the 1950s, of that breed now known as “Red Diaper” babies, I was weaned on the music of Pete Seeger and the Weavers.

Obviously many of you here tonight have also been weaned, sung to and joined in song with one of our country’s unique national treasurers. That’s how Pete Seeger was described a few years ago when he was awarded the Kennedy Center honors. Years after being denied the opportunity to perform on national television, years after the only concert venue that would book Pete were union halls like that of 1199, now the nation was awarding one of its highest cultural salutations to Pete.

But we are honoring Pete for another reason tonight. We are honoring Pete as an individual who fought the good fight, who walked the picket lines, who sang at the rallies, who went south to finish the second American revolution, who early on was one of those we could count on in the fight to end the war in Vietnam, to win the freedom of Angela Davis, or in support of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers.

We are honoring Pete because he has continued to believe in that dirty word: that dangerous word, and I am not referring to the new national debate on are you now or have you ever been a liberal. Pete has hung in there; Pete is still, heaven forbid, a socialist. We in the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism are pleased to be able to count Pete and Toshi as our members, as activists who on the eve of the millennium still believe in the possibility of a better world. They still believe in a world free of exploitation, discrimination, racism, sexism, genocide, war and environmental destruction.

In honoring Pete, we are honoring a fine tradition. - A tradition of rebellion, radicalism and revolution. Over two hundred years ago, the revolutionaries of their day decided that things needed to change. These revolutionaries dumped the King’s tea in the Boston harbor, and the American Revolution was born. They built their own revolutionary organization, and they came up with a unique name, the Committees of Correspondence. Our country was built on such rebellion and radicalism.

(Read the Entire Tribute)

More about Nelson Mandela from Portside

Five Reflections on Mandela

CCDS Convention 2013

Digging In, Reaching Out...

Student and teachers from the Convention ‘School for Young People’

CCDS 7th Convention Debates Growth

of the Left and the Progressive Majority

in Combating Austerity, War and the Right

[This report was assembled by Carl Davidson, with considerable and valuable help from Cheryl Richards and Ellen Schwartz, our recorders. Others who added a lot were Janet Tucker, Harry Targ, Ted Reich, Pat Fry, Will Emmons, Randy Shannon, Anne Mitchell and Duncan McFarland. Photos by Ted Reich]

Nearly 100 delegates, observers and friends gathered in Pittsburgh, PA for the 7th Convention of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism over the July 18-21, 2013 weekend. The goals of the gathering were to take stock of the political battles since their last convention in 2009, to assess the organization’s strengths, weaknesses and ongoing challenges, and to chart a path of unity and struggle for the upcoming period.

The participants came from all sections of the country: from California to Florida, from Texas to Boston, and many points in between. Almost all were deeply embedded in mass struggles—trade unions and community organizations, women’s groups, civil rights organizations and peace and justice coalitions. Many had also taken part in a variety of independent electoral battles against the GOP and the right, and everyone had been in the streets during the battles against the wars, the Occupy upsurge and for justice in the Trayvon Martin case.

Kicking off the meeting was a “School for Young People.” That innovation started a day before the main sessions of the convention. The presence of 20 young activists—men and women, of several nationalities, fresh from many battles, especially in the South—added a dynamic quality to all the discussions for the entire weekend.

“We appreciated the steps CCDS has made to accept the need for youth leadership in the socialist left and progressive movements,” said Will Emmons of Kentucky. The students saw the school as a “good first start,” and looked forward to more and better efforts in overcoming the intergenerational divide in much of the socialist movement.

The convention itself was organized into five plenary sessions and 16 workshops, with a cultural event and dinner on Saturday evening. It opened for the youth school and other early arrivers Thursday evening with the showing of the new film, “Anne Braden: Southern Patriot,” an inspiring story of the battles of Anne Braden and her husband, Carl Braden of Kentucky, in decades of battles against white supremacy and other fronts in the class struggle across the South. Filmmaker Anne Lewis from Texas was on hand to lead a discussion that followed.

All the convention’s deliberations were organized around a “main resolution,” with the various plenaries and workshops dealing with its different sections. The five plenary topics were 1) assessing the concrete conditions, 2) the terrains of struggle against austerity, 3) the climate change crisis, 4) strategic formations and the progressive majority, and 5) the quest for left unity.

Click HERE to continue...

Click HERE to access convention documents and resolutions



Tensions over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea

Statement by Duncan McFarland, CCDS Peace & Solidarity Committee
"In the news recently have been the tensions over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Here is a bit of background based on my information: "

  • China is reasserting centuries-old claims to the islands
  • Japanese claims date from its 1895 victory in the Sino-Japanese War
  • The US is intervening to support Japan against China

China has been the dominant power in East Asia for most of the last 2000 years. Chinese claims to the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands are hundreds of years old, supported by old (Chinese) maps of the region. Japan's claims dated from 1895, when the Japanese defeated the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese War. Japan at that time annexed the islands along with Taiwan (renamed Formosa).

At the end of World War Two, the Allies decided to return the islands to China, at that time led by the pro-US Chiang Kai-shek. However, the US controlled the islands and eventually decided to turn them over to its subsequent ally Japan. When China and Japan normalized relations in 1972, they withheld a decision on the islands until a later time.

China's position is that the dispute over the islands should be resolved by bilateral negotiations between China and Japan. The current Japanese government maintains that there is no issue or anything to negotiate, as the islands are Japanese territory. The US as part of its mutual defense treaty with Japan and pivot to Asia/Pacific is siding with Japan on the islands issue.

In my opinion, China and Japan need to settle this issue with no interference from the United States. Unfortunately the US is supporting the resurgence of Japanese militarism to back the US "Pivot" strategy to concentrate its military in the Asia/Pacific region and contain Chinese influence. China is now viewed as a principle obstacle to the US maintaining a superpower position of global dominance.

Upcoming Elections

Flipping the House in 2014

by Carl Davidson, Reprinted from "In These Times"

We need to get much more organized on the democratic side of the divide in the Democratic Party. We may not be in a position for million-dollar media buys, but we can field tens of thousands of new organizers.

With Congressional elections in 2014, it’s time we get serious about electoral politics. Strategic decisions must be made, resources assembled, alliances forged and forces deployed in the most critical terrains.

No progressive measures will see the light of day until the right-wing cabal in Congress is crushed at the polls. This is not to say it will be easy or that all Democrats are sweetness and light. People are not energized by “neoliberalism lite.” But we have to start somewhere in getting the spanner out of the works and the boots of the super-rich off our necks. To defeat as many Republicans as we can in the next round is a fine place to begin.

The first difficulties to overcome will be internal. The Democratic Party is not a unified force. In Congress, they divide into major clusters, from the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on the left, then proceeding rightward through the Old New Dealers backed by the AFL-CIO and Campaign for America’s Future, to the Clintonite New Democrats, to the shrinking Blue Dogs.

But the fault line here is between the Democratic advocates of global and finance capital, and everyone else. This is nowhere clearer than in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is part of the problem, not the solution.

Victory at the polls will come from below, from communities of color, from unions and from a broad majority of women and youth. Given the GOP’s “War on Women,” its efforts to crush young people with student debt , and its opposition to jobs programs and a higher minimum wage , these constituencies are ripe for organization. Yes, these factors existed in 2012, but their anger has only been intensified by the Right’s escalation of its offensive.

Pulling disparate left, progressive and center forces together is hard. Elected officials pay attention to three things— organized money, organized voters and organized good ideas, in the form of a platform that can unite a majority. The Left may be lacking in the first, save for union coffers, but it can make that up with the other two. We need to get much more organized on the democratic side of the divide in the Democratic Party. We may not be in a position for million-dollar media buys, but we can field tens of thousands of new organizers.

We need to multiply and grow the PDA, the Wellstone Clubs or similar groups in every congressional district. We need to form working alliances with local labor councils, civil rights groups, women’s groups, student and youth organizations, and peace and justice groups. A well-trained “gathering of the tribes” can turn out the voters to take down candidates on the GOP Right and, where we can, elect candidates who will expand the CPC on the Left. In some cases, the regular Democrats will help this effort; in others, they will drag their feet. In any case, our motto needs to be, “Lead, follow or get out of the way."

The platform is on the table. The CPC’s Back to Work Budget and the Green Party’s Green New Deal. The Afghan war can be ended. Student debt can be swapped for public service. State banks can replace the “too big to fail” banksters, and the Robin Hood Tax can recover the wealth needed to fund it all. We know what needs to be done, and there is a popular base to support it. What we need now is political will, unity and commitment.