by Yolanda Crisis
The people are still reeling from the impact of possibly the biggest typhoon to strike the country. Death toll numbers are rising rapidly. There is massive devastation. Many are still trying to contact their relatives, friends and comrades, but communication systems are down, in the hardest hit areas. How should we, as activists and socialists, respond to the crisis?
Firstly, we have to support and take whatever measures are necessary to protect the people. This means all measures that bring the people immediate relief. In the hardest hit city of Tacloban, in south eastern Visayas, the people are already taking what food and relief supplies that they need from the malls. The media reports this as looting and the break-down of law and order.
But we say: let our people live. This is not "looting". People are taking food, where they can get it, in order to survive. If there is no timely and organized support system from government, people just have to do it themselves and they should organize themselves to do it more effectively. Even some grocery owners understand the need for this. According to one report of a man who broke into a grocery store, "The owner said we can take the food, but not the dried goods. Our situation is so dismal. We have deaths in our family. We need to save our lives. Even money has no use here now”. Where possible, PLM will assist them to organize to take over food supplies and necessary relief goods.
Then there’s the issue of the government response. Our experience has been that it has always been too slow and inadequate. Any efforts are undermined by corruption. The exposure of the organized plunder by the political elite and sections of government, of development funds or “pork barrel” funds meant for the people, is a testimony to this. This outraged the country and brought almost half-a-million people out in to the streets in a massive show of protest on August 26 this year. While one plunderer has been arrested, the President has not responded decisively to clean up the system.
The public funds plundered by the elite should have been used for preventative measures to support the people weather these disasters: for infrastructure, including better sea walls and communication infrastructure; for early warning systems; for well-constructed and therefore safe public housing, to replace huts and shacks built out of dried leaves and cardboard; for health and education; for equipment and personnel for rapid emergency response, and the list is endless. But no, this was not the case, it was eaten up by the greed of the elite classes. (Read entire statement)
PLM Statement on the Typhoon Haiyan:
Let Our People Live!
Save Lives, Redistribute Food, Stop the Economic and Environment Plunder!
Climate Justice Now!
by Yolanda Crisis
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.
Time of Day: The Opening Plenary on Concrete Conditions
“What time is it?” asked Mildred Williamson, a CCDS national committee member from Chicago, in her remarks opening the first plenary session, which was chaired by Randy Shannon of Western PA. “It's a time of economic, social, environmental, and racial injustice on steroids.” she continued, “a time of no respect for humanity.” She proceeded to spotlight the full range of current conditions with the lens showing the inter-connection of class, race and gender. “What time is it?” she repeated, “As long as Black and brown lives are thought of and treated as disposable, in a 21st century-three-fifths-of-a-person fashion, it will be impossible to achieve working class power in this country. Economic and social policies are literally destroying Black and brown lives, and simultaneously further weakening working class power…. we must fight with humility and purpose to strengthen and promote radicalized thought and action in the quest for social justice, human rights and working class power. This requires a fresh look at what it means to be ‘Left’ in this phase of capitalism.”
Williamson concluding by posing the most poignant questions to the delegates:
“What is the winning strategy to reduce the number of white working class people from voting against their own class interests, especially since fewer are unionized and fewer live in integrated communities? What will be the winning strategy to achieve left unity - and just what does that mean today? How can we build respect for youth in leadership of social justice movements while still showing simultaneous respect for elders? How do we fully move our thought and action from the multiracial unity ‘slogan’ to normalized, genuine demonstrations of respect for multiple cultures, gender expressions and sexual orientations? These questions--and more tough ones--need answers in order to chart the path forward in the quest for working class power. Let's work on them at this convention and thereafter.”...
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Click HERE to access convention documents and resolutions
NEWS AND VIEWS
By Carl Bloice,
Reprinted from "Black Commentator"
"Many of us here in the U.S. had entertained the notion that whatever disappointments await us after the election of the U.S. President Barak Obama, at least the reactionary U.S. policy toward Cuba might change."
It’s like it didn’t happen; not even a two-inch World Briefing. On October 29, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly, for the 22nd time, to condemn the 5-decade-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba. The New York Times did about as much as it could to ignore it. So, for those amongst us that rely on the newspaper of record for all the news that’s fit to print, here’s what had occurred.
The 193-nation UN General Assembly approved a resolution entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba." There were 188 votes in favor of the resolution. The only countries voting “no” were the United State and Israel.
Last year, Palau voted with the U.S. and Israel; this year the tiny Pacific island abstained, along with fellow island nations Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
On the afternoon of October 29, the day of the UN vote, the Reuters brief report on the resolution appeared on the Times website.
The Reuters report noted that “U.S. President Barack Obama, who said before taking office that he wanted to recast long-hostile U.S.-Cuba relations, has been a disappointment to the Cuban government, which hoped he would do more to dismantle the embargo.”
Actually the disappointment goes far beyond Havana. Many of us here in the U.S. had entertained the notion that whatever disappointments await us after the election of the U.S. President Barak Obama, at least the reactionary U.S. policy toward Cuba might change. But that was not to be.
Cuba represents absolutely no threat to our country. With Washington maintaining, and even shoring up, relations with some of the most reactionary regimes on the planet it would be hard to make a case that the blockade has anything to do with human rights. Ambassador Ronald D. Godard, U.S. senior area advisor for Western Hemisphere Affairs, would seem to have made the Obama Administration’s motivation for maintain the blockade quite clear. He drew attention to the “economic policies” Cuba “has pursued for the past half century,” adding that while the Administration welcomes “recent changes, such as those that allow greater self-employment and liberalization of the real estate market, Cuba still has one of the most restricted economic systems in the world.”
“Irrespective of U.S. policy, it is unrealistic to expect the Cuban economy to thrive until the Cuban government opens its state monopolies to private competition, fully empowers Cuban entrepreneurs, respects intellectual property rights, allows unfettered access to the Internet, and adopts the sound macro-economic policies that have contributed to the success of many of Cuba’s neighboring countries in Latin America,” Godard told the Assembly. (Read more....)
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.