Thursday, June 22, 2017

Aurora Cedillo, a retired elementary school teacher from Salem, tells us how it is on the front lines of education

Aurora Cedillo absolutely nails it when she speaks from her perspective as a retired Salem educator. Read the entire article here. Too few people in Salem are prepared to acknowledge the truth of Ms. Cedillo's words, or perhaps it's just easier to turn away or, more troubling, to make the issues she raises abstract so that her points get lost. Our youth are suffering just at those points where race, class, gender and inequality intersect. Those conditions can be changed through organizing collective political action. It really is that simple. Those are our points, not Ms. Cedillo's, but she says:  

It is not uncommon for my students to come from homes where their parents were working two or three jobs to make an honest living. Older siblings might be their caretakers because their parents are often getting home very late at night — unintentionally compounding the stress on their young, bilingual children. The kids might come to school hungry and often without enough sleep. Sadly, my students might be the ones answering the phone when I called their home to check in. Teachers are already strained as it is, and there is no time built into their schedules for getting to know their students’ families. Understanding of their home life leads to a much better understanding of the child. We need to humanize our students and public education. They are not just a number and a name on a list. They are human beings.



Please call Congressman Greg Walden at (202)-225-6730 or (541)-389-4408

and say: You asked, we answered: Medicare for all!

I'm calling to urge Mr. Walden to rethink his devotion to party and to the money from his corporate sponsors in order to once again be useful to his constituents in District 2. I understand that from his point of view this is a lot to ask. Money and power are huge rewards, whereas the needs of ordinary people are more easily ignored.

When Mr. Walden asked at several recent town halls who approves of a single payer Medicare for all health system, there have been wild cheers and applause and approval. Why is this!?? Certainly he understands it's because all of us here in the district, in fact in the country, need healthcare. Healthcare without price gouging, healthcare without gender discrimination, healthcare without regard to pre-existing conditions, healthcare actually for all people.

A single-payer Medicare-for-all types of health system would not produce tax breaks for the wealthy, or generous corporate donations. But if Mr. Walden has the least bit of interest in doing what is needed and wanted in terms of healthcare by his constituents in district 2, he should make good on the messages he has gotten from his town halls - Give us a single payer Medicare-for-all type health system!

Mr. Walden is responsible for getting us into the AHCA mess that we have now. He does have an opportunity though to try to create something other than a tax-break-for-the-rich legacy by coming out in support of the healthcare-for-all movement and bills today.

--Taken from Gorge Resisters, a great group in the Gorge doing the kind of vital organizing work that is needed everywhere.

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cuba's Socialism Now


On 1 June 2017, an extraordinary session of Cuba’s National Assembly of Peoples’ Power approved important documents which define the character, objectives and strategy of Cuban socialism into the post-Castro era. Since 2011, a programme of ‘updating’ the Cuban economic and social system has been underway, and these documents aim to establish the parameters within which those developments will take place. 

Such measures are imperative given the greater space being opened up for market relations: private ownership and business, self-employment and foreign investment. Establishing social welfare and national development priorities will be essential to prevent market forces asserting a capitalist logic over Cuban development. Raul Castro will step down as President of the Council of State in February 2018,1 and the Cuban leadership is working to strengthen the institutional basis of socialism to help safeguard its future when Cuba is no longer led by the ‘historic generation’ who carried out the Revolution.

The National Assembly is the highest decision-making body in Cuba, with half of its 614 delegates voted up from Municipal and Provincial Assemblies, and the other half representing the mass, grassroots organisations. The documents approved are: Conceptualisation of the Economic and Social Model of Cuban Socialist Development (Conceptualisation) and the Guidelines of the Social and Economic Policy of the Party and the Revolution (the Guidelines). There was also discussion about a third key document, Basis for the Plan of Economic and Social Development up till 2030: Vision of the Nation, Axes and Strategic Sectors (Plan 2030).

All three documents have been through a collective process of writing, analysis, modification and approval: consensus building practices which strengthen unity and commitment to socialist development. President Raul Castro described them as ‘the most studied, discussed and rediscussed documents in the history of the Revolution’. That is indicative of their importance.


Read the entire post from Helen Jaffe here.

Some needed context for those of us in North America can be found in another post by Helen Jaffe on the broad topic of the market economy and Che Guevara:

‘I didn’t know Che had any economic ideas’ has been a frequent reply I’ve received when telling people about the topic of my research and my book. It reflects the caricature of Guevara as a romantic guerrilla fighter with idealist notions of how human beings are motivated and how social change is brought about. The consequence is to overlook his contribution to Cuba’s economic development and socialist political economy debates and hence to lose any lessons that can be drawn from his endeavours.

It censors the complexity of economic decisions and debates within the Cuban Revolution, as if the revolutionaries who seized power on 1 January 1959 were chaotic adventurers whose economic policies were based on a naïve ideological agenda and not reflecting concrete conditions and constraints in the process of development. For example, Cuba’s incorporation into the socialist bloc’s trade relations, its continued dependence on sugar as a principal export and the importation of ‘backward’ technology from the socialist countries, are viewed as political preferences – with little recognition made of the limits placed on Cuba’s development path by the imposition of the US blockade or the denial of credit from the Western countries. It also plays into the interpretation that sees Fidel Castro as synonymous with the Revolution, so that all policies were generated by this one omnipresent individual according to his whims, psychological traits and struggle for domination.

HB 3464 has passed Oregon's House 35 to 23. Now it moves to the Senate. This is a real peoples' victory!

Today HB 3464 passed Oregon's House, now on to the Senate! If passed, HB 3464 would protect the privacy of immigrant families by limiting the collection and sharing of information for the purpose of immigration enforcement. Thanks to Representatives Teresa Alonso and Diego Hernandez, the bill's chief sponsors, for leading the effort.

HB 3464 provides clarity on what information can be shared and increases privacy for Oregonians from federal anti-immigration actions.“In Oregon, over and over again, we have answered the call to uphold the values of our constitution and the values of inclusivity, equal protection and diversity,” Rep. Diego Hernandez said. “I believe this bill is good policy. It follows federal law, it creates clarity and consistency for all of our public bodies, it protects the privacy of Oregonians, it protects our limited resources and reaffirms our values as an inclusive state.”

“Over the last few months, leaders in the communities that I represent and statewide have come to me asking for help and asking for guidance,” State Representative Teresa Alonso Leon added. “I have heard from teachers, principals and educators who do not know what to do to protect their students if ICE comes asking for information, I have heard from city employees and local elected officials who want to know what they can do to make people feel safe, and I have heard from our immigrant communities and their allies asking what it is we are doing to protect their families, friends and
neighbors.”

Representative Alonso Leon has won a fully-deserved reputation for keeping her fingers on the pulse of our community, responding to the people, keeping an open door and an open mind, learning and managing the ropes of being in the legislature quickly, and taking on hard fights.

This is a serious blow to the far-right, racist, anti-immigrant forces in Oregon. It is possible that they will again attempt to put together a high-pressure racist campaign in the closing weeks of the legislative sessions. This victory in the House also challenges other liberal and progressive forces to fight the far-right, do a better job and to follow the lead of Representatives Hernandez and Alonso Leon. Can we count on legislative allies to do the right thing? Can we maintain unity in the face of a likely right-wing challenge? Can we win this victory and turn it into a successful pushback against the right-wing's Initiative Petition #22, which seeks to overturn Oregon's Sanctuary Statute?

Cuba- EEUU: Un discurso para Miami



Taken from ALAI:

El día 16 de Junio, según se había anunciado, Donald Trump visitó la ciudad de Miami y pronunció un discurso ante una audiencia formada por lo peor del exilio cubano, que se había congregado en el Teatro Manuel Artime, para conocer de las nuevas medidas que se implantarían contra Cuba.

Es interesante analizar el ambiente en que se desarrolló el acto y los resultados concretos del mismo.

Trump, siguiendo el patrón de todo discurso presidencial estadounidense, tuvo alguien que se lo escribiera y esa persona, se encargó de resaltar en el mismo algunos nombres y situaciones, que además de agregar torpeza, permiten definir la falta de conocimiento de Trump sobre Cuba.

Dentro de las cosas que leyó el presidente, estuvo el llamar “heroicos” a los mercenarios de la Brigada 2506, que se rindieron en menos de 72 horas.

El discurso tocó una amalgama de hechos que en vez de beneficiar a Estados Unidos, lo denigra, como la Operación Peter Pan, organizada por la CIA y repudiada por la mayoría de los que llegaron a Estados Unidos forzados por la misma.

Habló de desaparición de personas, de asesinatos por parte de la policía, lo cual nos hace recordar los tiempos de Batista, el dictador que gracias al apoyo de Estados Unidos estuvo mal gobernando Cuba hasta que triunfó la Revolución.

Hablo de las personas que son detenidas cuando se encaminan a rezar en templos e iglesias. De la no existencia de libertades ni respeto a los derechos humanos. Del peligro que Cuba tuviera armas atómicas, algo que se refiere a los años 60 del siglo pasado y de que Cuba ha enviado armas a Corea, lo cual nos siembra la duda, de que el señor Trump sepa dónde está Corea.

Es evidente que aquel no fue precisamente un discurso en Miami, sino un discurso para Miami, lleno de demagogia, mentiras y tergiversaciones, que resultara agradable a los oídos de los que fueron al teatro para ver correr la sangre.

No podía faltar en aquel desbarrar la referencia a Venezuela y como Cuba la ayudaba en sus planes contra el pueblo de dicho país.

Según Trump, Estados Unidos son los campeones de la libertad, la democracia, el país donde no se comenten violaciones a los derechos humanos, donde no existen presos políticos y donde sus fuerzas armadas ayudan a otros pueblos del mundo para que se mantengan libres.

Sus acciones sobre Cuba estarán encaminadas en ese sentido, para liberar al pueblo cubano y que los exilados puedan regresar a sus hogares, además de reclamar lo que fueron sus propiedades, ahora con nuevos propietarios, el pueblo cubano.

Todo esto lo dice como si fuera verdad, o al menos parece estar convencido de lo que expone, aunque pudiera estar engañado, lo que implica que es fácil engañar, como a un tonto, al presidente de Estados Unidos.

Lo principal no estuvo en la retórica, la demagogia y las frases que dijo para que algunos se sintieran felices. Muchos besos, abrazos, apretones de mano, aplausos, señalar supuestos “héroes” que estaban en la audiencia, regalo de plumita a algunos de ellos, todo eso formaba parte del espectáculo.

Lo principal estuvo en la orden ejecutiva que firmó y si la misma realmente implica un cambio en las relaciones que se llevan a cabo entre Cuba y Estados Unidos, según los “acuerdos” llegados durante la administración Obama.

Podemos decir que hay algunos cambios y novedades, pero que de algunas, cosas ni se habló. Según comunicación de fecha 16 de junio emitida por la Oficina de Prensa de la Casa Blanca sobre la orden ejecutiva tenemos lo siguiente:

Si no firma otra orden mañana, los viajes a Cuba de las personas de origen cubano siguen igual, lo mismo podemos decir de las remesas y los viajes a Estados Unidos para visitar familiares y otros motivos, todo de forma ordenada y mediante visa.

De las línea aéreas que viajan a Cuba procedente de Estados Unidos y los Trasatlánticos turísticos, nada nuevo.

En relación con el alojamiento de estadounidenses en Cuba, se plantea en la orden no realizarlo con establecimientos ni hoteles bajo la dirección del Grupo de Administración Empresarial, por considerarlo vinculado a las fuerzas armadas cubanas.

Se ratifica, lo ya establecido desde hace mucho tiempo, de no permitir que estadounidenses viajen a Cuba con fines turísticos. Los visitantes del sector académico, artístico y otros, deberán viajar en grupos, no individualmente como fue autorizado por Obama.

Cómo un cambio de política, dentro de la indicaciones emitidas por Trump, está el incremento del comercio con el Sector Privado. Aquí no dice a cuál sector privado se refiere, pero en la agricultura cubana tenemos un fuerte sector privado y el Secretario de Agricultura, nombrado por Trump, es partidario del comercio con el mismo.

También se ratifica la política del bloqueo a Cuba y se opone a las gestiones que se puedan realizar en las Naciones Unidas y otros Organismos Internacionales para la terminación del mismo. En septiembre veremos cómo votan la resolución contra el Bloqueo en Naciones Unidas.

Se dice que el mejoramiento de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos dependerá de la acción del gobierno cubano en función de incrementar el cumplimiento de las leyes, el modo de vida del pueblo, el respeto a los derechos humanos y el incremento de libertades políticas, económicas y religiosas. Todo lo cual será Estados Unidos el que lo determine.

En la orden se orienta a los Departamentos de Comercio y Tesoro para que establezcan las regulaciones correspondientes en un plazo de treinta días, para poner a funcionar la misma. Este proceso, según los expertos, pudiera demorar varios meses en los cuales seguirán vigentes las regulaciones actuales.

Hasta aquí lo mencionado en la orden ejecutiva, lo que no se mencionó, por el momento queda igual.

Cómo podrán ver, estas regulaciones a quienes afectan es a los estadounidenses, qué pueden, o no pueden hacer, según las mismas.

El cambio de política hacia Cuba, se ha reducido al cambio de lo que el “país de la libertad” permite que sus ciudadanos realicen en relación con Cuba.

Era evidente que esta actividad no estaba dirigida a Cuba ni a los cubanos, sino a los estadounidenses de origen cubano que participaban en la misma. Ni una sola vez se mencionó el nombre de Martí, Maceo o alguno de nuestros próceres. La muchedumbre gritaba U S A… U S A…. U S A… y para terminar, un émulo de Ferruccio Burgos, interpretó en solo de violín, el Himno de Estados Unidos.

Este era un discurso para Miami. No resiste ser pronunciado en otro lugar del mundo. Considero que Trump se burló de los asistentes.

Están perdidos.

Dr. Néstor García Iturbe
Grupo El Heraldo

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) takes a principled position against NAFTA and Trump


At its quarterly meeting the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) General Executive Board adopted the following statement on the Trump administration's plans to renegotiate NAFTA. Besides agreeing with the possition taken by the union's leadership, I think that UE is an outstanding union, and has been from its earliest days. If you're in an oppressive workplace environment and need a union, contact UE. UE organizes and represents all kinds of workers.

RENEGOTIATION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (NAFTA)

United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
June 2, 2017

Three years ago, on the 20th anniversary of NAFTA’s passage, North American labor, environmental groups, human rights organizations, and other citizen watchdogs—united to call out the terrible impact of this trade agreement on working people and our communities. As attention returns to NAFTA, now that President Trump has notified Congress officially of his intention to renegotiate, we caution against any belief that his administration will seek a deal benefitting people and the planet. NAFTA benefits corporations and those who have an interest in the free flow of capital, rather than improving the lives of workers, our communities, or the environment. Past attempts to appease concerns from labor and environmentalists have not been meaningful. .

We see the consequences of this failed treaty vividly: Across the continent, workers and families have been hit hard, as evidenced by persistent unemployment, wage stagnation, and record wealth and income inequality. There continues to be a decline in good-paying, union manufacturing jobs, as well as a loss of high-paying jobs in smaller businesses. In those pockets where manufacturing has expanded, the jobs created have been mostly low wage with little attention to worker health and safety. In Mexico, the jobs that have emerged have been at such low rates of pay that poverty rates have risen—not fallen—since 1994. Mexico has experienced a loss of jobs in agriculture, where heavily-subsidized US corn, sugar, and other commodities led to the collapse of the Mexican farm economy. Since the implementation of NAFTA, workers in the three countries have suffered, while wealthy investors and big corporations have seen their profits balloon.

Communities of North America continue to suffer under NAFTA as corporations continue to exploit our shared environment for profit and pollute our land, air, and water as governments are unable or unwilling to force corporations to clean up hazardous mistakes created by negligence. This is evident from the St. Lawrence River in Québec, which is threatened by fracking from Lone Pine Resources, to the Midwestern plains, where oil leaks from the TransCanada-owned Keystone Pipeline, to the hills of Guadalcázar, where residents pray they have seen the last child born with birth defects from the toxic waste MetalClad has refused to clean up. Corporate profits continue to grow while the health of our communities and environment suffers.

NAFTA enables the unrestricted flow of capital causing misery for working people, including: the forced migration of people looking for jobs; increased rates of homelessness; mental health problems associated with dislocation; higher rates of diabetes and other ailments linked to cheap high fructose corn syrup; and rising violence, particularly against women. NAFTA devastated the Mexican economy, particularly agriculture and family farms by allowing US corporations to dump cheap corn and other staples into Mexico. It is a key reason why millions upon millions of Mexican workers have been forced to migrate north to the US looking for better work.

President Trump says he wants to renegotiate this “bad deal,” but his vague plans are anchored in building a wall for workers and tearing down walls for capital. He makes a xenophobic argument for renegotiation, and we reject its racist and nationalistic orientation. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue have stated that the rejected and discredited Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be the starting point for a renegotiated NAFTA. Unionists and environmentalists rejected TPP for good reasons and to have that as the administration’s starting point is very troubling.

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism in NAFTA infringes on sovereignty and citizens’ rights to self-governance by allowing corporations to sue governments who restrain profit-making opportunities. This would have been made more powerful under TPP. TPP would have weakened US health and safety standards, including those that ensure safe pharmaceuticals and food. TPP attacked net neutrality and a free and open Internet. NAFTA was negotiated in the early 1990’s and the internet was not included in the original NAFTA. We expect this to be a major target of the administration’s renegotiation.

We reject the corporate-led vision for a renegotiation of NAFTA and call for a new set of trade policies that prioritize workers common interests and relies on international solidarity as its cornerstone. Any renegotiation of NAFTA must be oriented around the improvement of workers’ lives and protection of the environment focused on those regions of the continent where conditions are the most desperate.

We call for the end of the ISDS protections NAFTA offers to corporations to exploit working people and the environment. As we said three years ago, 20 years after the passage of NAFTA, any new treaty must “strengthen governments’ ability to protect social, environmental and labor rights, particularly for migrants.”

We demand, as required by the UN International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions 87 and 98, an end to laws that allow employers to prevent workers from choosing their own unions or from exercising their rights to assemble, organize, and represent workers without any employer interference. This includes an end to attacks in the U.S against unions seeking to negotiate union security clauses with employers.

We demand government investment to create good-paying jobs in our communities, to build affordable housing, accessible public transportation, and green energy production, with quality food, education, and healthcare for all, and with improved access to clean air and water, public parks, and green recreation spaces. All trade negotiations must be opened to civil society participation, which includes prior publication of the texts and the construction of mechanisms for information sharing, social participation and deliberation, while avoiding the imposition of any “fast track”. A renegotiated NAFTA treaty must include effective mechanisms to protect human, labor, and environmental rights with meaningful sanctions and enforcement provisions to assure the supremacy of human rights over corporate privilege.

We support the “Political Declaration of the Encounter of the Social Organizations of Canada, United States, and Mexico” which came out of meetings held in Mexico City on May 26 and 27, 2017. We unite in international solidarity with these goals in mind and are prepared to fight back against any and all attempts to divide or devalue our work, our communities, and our environment.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) denounces, urges action against collective punishment attacks on Jerusalem and Deir Abu Mashaal

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denounced the repeated Zionist attacks against the city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque and collective punishment that has escalated over the last few days and hours, and the besieging of the village of Deir Abu Mashaal. Zionist forces have launched a campaign of attacks and arrests against the people of the village. These raids against the village will not extinguish the flame of resistance and will only intensify the determination of the Palestinian people to defend their rights, principles and holy sites.

The Front condemned the heavily armed forces of the Israeli police that stormed the courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque, attacking worshippers and imposing closure on the Damascus Gate area. This military stranglehold is a retaliatory attack meant to divert attention from the clear failure of its military forces in preventing the heroic Jerusalem operation, which hit Zionist occupation forces in the holy city. These criminal practices reflect the essence of Zionist policy.

The Front denounced the prime minister of the Zionist enemy Netanyahu as a war criminal. His threats to take unprecedented action against the city of Jerusalem and the village of Deir Abu Mashaal and the orders to demolish the homes of the families of the strugglers who carried out the Jerusalem operation are empty baloons directed at the Zionist population after failing once more in Jerusalem and in an attempt to again cover up the corruption charges that have arisen once more. The demolition of homes and the policy of collective punishment by the occupation and its soldiers have never succeeded in smothering the spirit of resistance or breaking the popular support of the masses of our people. Instead, these attacks only fuel the flame of intifada and resistance.

The PFLP saluted the steadfastness of the Paletinian people in occupied Jerusalem and Deir Abu Mashaal village who continue to act to confront the crimes of the occupation. It called on the Palestinian masses to support their steadfastness by acting to break the siege on the city and the village, calling on all to turn any home demolitions into a battle with the enemy to prevent and stop this policy and expose it before the world. The aim of this policy is an attempt to break the will of the masses and weaken their embrace of resistance.

The Front also urged the Palestinian, Arab and international media to display the images of repression, abuse and closure on the steadfast village of Deir Abu Mashaal.

The Front warned the Zionist enemy that for every demolished home in Deir Abu Mashaal, Palestinian fighters will emerge from the rubble of these homes to respond to the crime as occurred in the courageous Promise of al-Buraq operation.

The PFLP emphasized its deepest greetings of pride for the families of the martyrs, their mothers in particular, for their steadfastness and national and human pride and strength.



The real meaning and importance of DACA

From a blog post by Juan Escalante:

Various sectors across the United States, including agriculture and tourism, are already feeling the strains of Donald Trump’s xenophobic agenda, while millions of immigrant families are currently living in fear of being torn apart by Trump’s “unshackled” immigration enforcement officers.

My parents, for example, could be taken from me if they were caught driving without a driver’s license, and, despite staying out of trouble with the law and paying their taxes, they could be sent back to a country that is currently experiencing extreme political and economic unrest.

Yes, I spent the first couple of months of the Trump Administration in fear that the DACA program could be terminated the next day, or the day after that, or the week after that. But today, on the fifth anniversary of the DACA program, I remain committed to fighting for my undocumented community more than ever before.

The challenges that immigrants will face under the Trump Administration will not be easy, but we cannot allow ourselves to sit down and give up. We didn’t win DACA or local pro-migrant policies at the state and local level by cowering in fear; we won them by standing up for what was right and just, for the hard work that immigrants, from all backgrounds, continue to do all across the country we call our home.

Let DACA’s fifth anniversary serve as a reminder of what the program has allowed DREAMers like me accomplish, and what it will do for thousands of young immigrants who are currently in school studying to become the next lawyer, doctor, or entrepreneur that our country needs to become stronger.



We need to criticize identity politics when it’s a tool to strengthen capitalism, but without ignoring how issues like racism, migration or gender play a role in how people are exploited. That’s what Yasmin Nair advocates for. Nair is a writer, academic and queer-activist living in Chicago. According to her the left needs to pay more attention to how several factors determine how economic inequality targets people.

From a review of the work of Yasmin Nair in MO*nieuwsbrieven:

"When they write about rural areas in the US, they do not seem to understand that today there are also many people of color and migrants who are also affected by the closure of large factories. In addition, you must see how racism is a part of how people are exploited by capitalism. If you do not look at all this, you get an analysis of identity politics that excludes people. To avoid this, a critique of identity politics must be about an analysis of power."

"If Syrians flee from a country in which they belong to the middle or higher class, we can not describe their position in Europe as ‘privileged’. We must develop a complicated analysis of how class and migration work within the current crisis. It is our job as the left to see things like class, race, gender and migration as matters that are related and not as separate issues."

"When my comrades and I criticized gay marriage, our work could hardly get published and we couldn’t organize anything at a university. But people are now seeing how gay marriage has made the demand for universal health care more difficult. Now everyone must marry for health care because everyone can get married. The left needs a better imagination to not repeat this kind of failure."


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Oregon Labor's Political Agenda: winning the good, fighting the bad, questioning the neglected.

The following is a somewhat edited and pessimistic take on things. We cribbed it from a very helpful article in Northwest Labor Press and added a few points of our own. Bill Post remains hopelessly reactionary and Brian Clem moves further backwards, as we have noted here previously.

Five good ideas from Labor that need to make it through Oregons legislature in the time remaining…

1. Bargain over class size: Parents and students hate large classes. So do teachers. HB 2651, sponsored by Tigard State Representative Margaret Doherty, would make school class size a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
2. Rent control: The most effective response to an affordable housing emergency HB 2001, sponsored by House Speaker Tina Kotek, would repeal the statewide ban on local rent control ordinances AND cap rent increases statewide at 5 percent through July 1, 2018.
3. Put lawless contractors on notice: Tired of seeing businesses that break the law continue to get public contracts? HB 2670, sponsored by Portland State Rep. Rob Nosse, bidders on public contracts of over $100,000 to disclose whether in the last three years they’ve been found to have violated labor laws like the National Labor Relations Act and laws on minimum wage, overtime, and the prevailing wage.
4. Pay prevailing wage on construction projects funded with tax breaks: Why are Oregon building trades workers paid the area prevailing wage when the state spends money on construction, but not when the state funds construction via tax subsidies? HB 2194 and SB 291would expand the prevailing rate requirement to include public works funded via tax credits or tax abatements.
5. Require non-profit hospitals to do something to deserve their tax-exempt status:  Hospital bills are a key reason health care is so expensive, yet most of the Oregon hospitals charging sky-high prices are “non-profit” institutions that pay no taxes, and the law is very vague about the charitable and educational service they must provide. HB 2115, sponsored by State Rep. Mitch Greenlick, would lay out stricter requirements for nonprofit hospitals health systems to be exempt from taxation.

Three bad ideas which need to be stopped right now...

1. Privatize liquor sales:  When the State of Washington privatized liquor sales, hundreds of union members lost their jobs, and liquor prices soared. Now a bill from Salem State Rep. Brian Clem would pave the way to privatization in Oregon. HB 2032 would set up a task force to develop proposals for privatizing the sale of distilled liquors and phasing out the role of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
2. Keep young workers poor: HB 2378, sponsored by Keizer State Rep. Bill Post, would allow employers to pay 85 percent of minimum wage to employees under 21 years of age for the first 90 days of employment.
3. Public subsidy for private payroll: HB 2375, sponsored by Grants Pass State Rep. Carl Wilson, would give employers an income tax credit — if they pay employees wages greater than the minimum wage.

Seven ideas which should have been on the forefront of labor's political agenda from the beginning...

1. Establishing paid family medical leave for all Oregon workers
2. Ending “no cause” evictions and the ban on rent control (see below)
3. Ending racial profiling by police
4. Ensuring health coverage for all Oregon kids
5. Extending reproductive health services to all Oregon residents, not just citizens
6. Taping grand jury hearings
7. Public entities should not be sharing details of a person's citizenship status with anyone unless clearly required to do so by federal law

The Fair Shot For All alliance has been working on most these, but a stronger push from all of Labor was needed.

Portland Tenants United has this to say about HB 2004:

What happens when the same democrats who amended tenant protection bill HB 2004 take money from the PAC created to kill the bill?

THE BILL MAKES REGULATIONS OPTIONAL FOR LANDLORDS!!
AND EITHER OPTION COSTS TENANTS MORE MONEY!

If this bill passes as-is then TENANTS SHOULD NOT SIGN LEASES! And if the landlord will only offer month-to-month for hundreds more a month? Well, the amendments took out the ability for us to do anything about that too.

Sign our petition to demand the Oregon Senate #Restore2004 and come to our rally at the state Capitol on Tuesday!

https://tinyurl.com/restore2004
https://tinyurl.com/RallyToRestore2004

#Restore2004
#TenantPower

The soul and the future of labor: leaders of the Portland Voz Workers' Education Project get some well-deserved respect and recognition at the Voz dinner last week.

Rebecca Solnit makes a valuable contribution, but much more needs to be said

Rebecca Solnit has an article in The Guardian reviewing the current political crises in the United States. It will be most helpful to people who need to catch up with the news and take, or regain, a long view of where we're at. Really, as Solnit says, we're not only not losing, but we're also moving forward. Many of us can't see the forward motion because we're so busy making it happen, and others can't see it because they give in to the despair and powerlessness propagated by society's leading institutions--the government, the media, religious institutions, political leadership, cultural figures. Our progress is fragile and unsteady, but it's real and it's reflected through and across the political spectrum.
Solnit is an engaging author and speaker. If you are not familiar with her work, you're missing something.
Solnit says the following in The Guardian:
All of this is to say that there is tremendous opposition from many kinds of groups, institutions, and individuals, here and abroad. This doesn’t mean there isn’t suffering and loss. I’ve heard from great organizers who are heartbroken and exhausted; I know Muslims who are fearful; an undocumented woman whose father has been imprisoned by Ice. I am horrified by the defunding of programs to prevent Aids internationally, which could result in a million deaths. And the brutality is real.

I’ve also talked to everyday citizens who have become activists and longtime organizers who are doing extraordinary things, and who are exhilarated by the solidarity and the possibility – of what we have become together, and of what they themselves have become.

Taking action is the best cure for despair. I’ve listed a little of what officials in the judiciary and legislative branch are doing, the shifts in the media, the response overseas. But it’s the residents of the United States whose response will matter most in the end.

Civil society awoken and arisen is a power adequate to counter the power of an increasingly isolated, confused, frightened and bumbling administration.

Many are organizing now to change the direction of the country in the midterm elections. In Utah, Mormon women have organized in solidarity with undocumented families. Philadelphians are training to disrupt deportation raids on undocumented immigrants.
In Southern California, a Latino-Muslim alliance started a project called Taco Trucks at Every Mosque, timed to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan. The group Common Defense unites veterans and military families for civil rights and against the Trump agenda. Queer, trans, and feminist groups have proliferated. Earlier this year, Muslims raised $100,000 to repair a Jewish cemetery in St Louis.

There are far more generous-hearted such project than I can list, strengthening ties far beyond tolerance, restating the case for environmental protection and social justice including feminism, trans rights, immigrant rights. And there is a level of engagement with electoral politics the likes of which I have never seen, pushing on legislation and pressuring politicians, supporting progressive candidates, including many people of color and women running for the first time.

First-time candidate Danica Roem, a transgender journalist, beat three other candidates to win a Democratic primary in Virginia and may beat a Republican homophobe for a seat in the state assembly. This activism needs to be sustained, and it needs to be strategic. It needs to address voting rights, and midterm elections, and it needs to remember all the powers and possibilities that lie in activism beyond electoral politics as well. So far so good.

Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard told me that they don’t have to try to recruit or inform people anymore, that they can’t “answer the phones fast enough”; that people are showing up ready to try to change the world. She said everything groups like hers have been doing for decades “was all practice for this moment”.

People like to predict the future, often a dismal future, but the future is not written. It is ours to write. In this moment of utter turmoil, civil society must be the counter to a rogue administration, one whose victory is a surprise equaled by its myriad defeats ever since.

A crisis, says one dictionary, is “the point in the progress of a disease when a change takes place which is decisive of recovery or death; also, any marked or sudden change of symptoms, etc.” This crisis could be the death or the recovery of a more democratic, more inclusive, more generous America. Where we go from here is up to us.



The problem is that after all of this hope, and after her great layout of objective facts which can't be contested and her justifiable warnings, Solnit really isn't telling us how to "deal the final blow." She is giving us places to start from---but then what? If the forces she mentions don't unite in some kind of common front, if that front isn't led by women and people of color and LGBTQIA+ people and people from the working class, if there isn't an inside/outside strategy which is moved from the streets and the communities and the workplaces, then we will likely win some compromises and then be hard put upon by the forces of reaction and experience a defeat. This isn't inevitable--nothing is. But if we're talking about dealing a "final blow" to the enemies of social progress then we need the maximum amount of unity, leadership from the aforementioned groups, and political instruments---a common front, a party, organizations which can manage power at the very base of society where it matters most---to see this through.   

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Greensboro Massacre of November 3, 1979. What are the stakes in the fight against racism?





Defending revolutionary Cuba and defending Assata Shakur are one task: But first you need to know who Assata Shakur is.

Trump's recent policy shift and his comments on Cuba reminds us again of the case of Assata Shakur and the persistent drive by imperialist and racist forces to force Cuba to surrender Shakur and the drive by these imperialists to stamp out any memory or thought of opposition and revolution. Many people---and particularly many young people---are not familiar with Assata Shakur's case or the context surrounding it. We present some important details here and we recommend that readers go to the Assata Shakur Speaks! website. Defending revolutionary Cuba and defending Assata Shakur are one task, and we can do this best by building a united front with national and international allies.


An Open Letter From Assata

Assata: Exile since 1979

On May 2 1973, Black Panther activist Assata Shakur (fsn) JoAnne Chesimard, was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police, shot twice and then charged with murder of a police officer. Assata spent six and a half years in prison under brutal circumstances before escaping out of the maximum security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979 and moving to Cuba.

Assata: In her own words

My name is Assata (she who struggles) Olugbala (for the people) Shakur (the thankful one), and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government's policy towards people of color. I am an ex political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO program. because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it "greatest threat to the internal security of the country" and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.

Political Prisoner to Exiled

On May 2, 1973 I, along with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for a "faulty tail light." Sundiata Acoli got out of the car to determine why we were stopped. Zaydand I remained in the car. State trooper Harper then came to the car, opened the door and began to question us. Because we were black, and riding in a car with Vermont license plates, he claimed he became "suspicious." He then drew his gun, pointed it at us, and told us to put our hands up in the air, in front of us, where he could see them. I complied and in a split second, there was a sound that came from outside the car, there was a sudden movement, and I was shot once with my arms held up in the air, and then once again from the back. Zayd Malik Shakur was later killed, trooper Werner Forester was killed, and even though trooper Harper admitted that he shot and killed Zayd Malik Shakur, under the New Jersey felony murder law, I was charged with killing both Zayd Malik Shakur, who was my closest friend and comrade, and charged in the death of trooper Forester. Never in my life have I felt such grief. Zayd had vowed to protect me, and to help me to get to a safe place, and it was clear that he had lost his life, trying to protect both me and Sundiata. Although he was also unarmed, and the gun that killed trooper Forester was found under Zayd’s leg, Sundiata Acoli, who was captured later, was also charged with both deaths. Neither Sundiata Acoli nor I ever received a fair trial. We were both convicted in the news media way before our trials. No news media was ever permitted to interview us, although the New Jersey police and the FBI fed stories to the press on a daily basis. In 1977, I was convicted by an all- white jury and sentenced to life plus 33 years in prison. In 1979, fearing that I would be murdered in prison, and knowing that I would never receive any justice, I was liberated from prison, aided by committed comrades who understood the depths of the injustices in my case, and who were also extremely fearful for my life.

New Jersey Police & the Pope

The U.S. Senate's 1976 Church Commission report on intelligence operations inside the USA, revealed that "The FBI has attempted covertly to influence the publics perception of persons and organizations by disseminating derogatory information to the press, either anonymously or through "friendly" news contacts." This same policy is evidently still very much in effect today. On December 24, 1997, The New Jersey State called a press conference to announce that New Jersey State Police had written a letter to Pope John Paul II asking him to intervene on their behalf and to aid in having me extradited back to New Jersey prisons. The New Jersey State Police refused to make their letter public. Knowing that they had probably totally distort the facts, and attempted to get the Pope to do the devils work in the name of religion, I decided to write the Pope to inform him about the reality of’ "justice" for black people in the State of New Jersey and in the United States.

NBC Television Network Distorts Facts

In January of 1998, during the pope's visit to Cuba, I agreed to do an interview with NBC journalist Ralph Penza around my letter to the Pope, about my experiences in New Jersey court system, and about the changes I saw in the United States and it's treatment of Black people in the last 25 years. I agreed to do this interview because I saw this secret letter to the Pope as a vicious, vulgar, publicity maneuver on the part of the New Jersey State Police, and as a cynical attempt to manipulate Pope John Paul II. I have lived in Cuba for many years, and was completely out of touch with the sensationalist, dishonest, nature of the establishment media today. It is worse today than it was 30 years ago. After years of being victimized by the "establishment" media it was naive of me to hope that I might finally get the opportunity to tell "my side of the story." Instead of an interview with me, what took place was a "staged media event" in three parts, full of distortions, inaccuracies and outright lies. NBC purposely misrepresented the facts. Not only did NBC spend thousands of dollars promoting this "exclusive interview series" on NBC, they also spent a great deal of money advertising this "exclusive interview" on black radio stations and also placed notices in local newspapers.

In an NBC interview Gov. Whitman was quoted as saying that "this has nothing to do with race, this had everything to do with crime." Either Gov. Whitman is completely unfamiliar with the facts in my case, or her sensitivity to racism and to the plight of black people and other people of color in the United States is at a sub-zero level. In 1973 the trial in Middlesex County had to be stopped because of the overwhelming racism expressed in the jury room. The court was finally forced to rule that the entire jury panel had been contaminated by racist comments like "If she's black, she's guilty." In an obvious effort to prevent us from being tried by "a jury of our peers the New Jersey courts ordered that a jury be selected from Morris County, New Jersey where only 2.2 percent of the population was black and 97.5 percent of potential jurors were white. In a study done in Morris County, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, 92 percent of the registered voters said that they were familiar with the case through the news media, and 72 percent believed we were guilty based on pretrial publicity. During the jury selection process in Morris County, white supremacists from the National Social[ist] White People's Party, wearing Swastikas, demonstrated carrying signs reading "SUPPORT WHITE POLICE." The trial was later moved back to Middlesex County where 70 percent thought I was guilty based on pretrial publicity I was tried by an all white jury, where the presumption of innocence was not the criteria for jury selection. Potential jurors were merely asked if they could "put their prejudices aside, and "render a fair verdict." The basic reality in the United States is that being black is a crime and black people are always "suspects" and an accusation is usually a conviction. Most white people still think that being a "black militant" or a "black revolutionary" is tantamount to being guilty of some kind of crime.

The current situation in New Jersey's prisons, underlines the racism that dominates the politics of the state of New Jersey, in particular and in the U.S. as a whole. Although the population of New Jersey is approximately 78 percent white, more than 75 percent of New Jersey's prison population is made up of blacks and Latinos. 80 percent of the women in Jersey prisons are people of color. That may not seem like racism to Gov. Whitman, but it reeks of racism to us.

The NBC story implied that Governor Christie Whitman raised the reward for my capture based on my interview with NBC. The fact of the matter is that she has been campaigning since she was elected into office to double the reward for my capture. In 1994, she appointed Col. Carl Williams who immediately vowed to make my capture a priority. In 1995, Gov. Whitman sought to "match a $25,000 departmental appropriation sponsored by an "unidentified legislator." I watched a tape of Gov. Whitman's "testimony" in her interview with NBC. She gave a very dramatic, exaggerated version of what happened, but there is no evidence whatsoever to support her claim that Trooper Forester had "four bullets in him at least, and then they got up and with his own gun, fired two bullets into his head." She claimed that she was writing Janet Reno for federal assistance in my capture, based on what she saw in the NBC interview. If this is the kind of "information" that is being passed on to Janet Reno and the Pope, it is clear that the facts have been totally distorted. Whitman also claimed that my return to prison should be a condition for "normalizing relations with Cuba". How did I get so important that my life can determine the foreign relations between two governments? Anybody who knows anything about New Jersey politics can be certain that her motives are purely political. She, like Torrecelli and several other opportunistic politicians in New Jersey came to power, as part time lobbyists for the Batista faction - soliciting votes from right wing Cubans. They want to use my case as a barrier for normalizing relations with Cuba, and as a pretext for maintaining the immoral blockade against the Cuban people.

In what can only be called deliberate deception and slander NBC aired a photograph of a woman with a gun in her hand implying that the woman in the photograph was me. I was not, in fact, the woman in the photograph. The photograph was taken from a highly publicized case where I was accused of bank robbery. Not only did I voluntarily insist on participating in a lineup, during which witnesses selected another woman, but during the trial, several witnesses, including the manager of the bank, testified that the woman in that photograph was not me. I was acquitted of that bank robbery. NBC aired that photograph on at least 5 different occasions, representing the woman in the photograph as me. How is it possible, that the New Jersey State Police, who claim to have a detective working full time on my case, Governor of New Jersey Christine Whitman, who claimed she reviewed all the "evidence," or NBC, which has an extensive research department, did not know that the photograph was false? It was a vile, fraudulent attempt to make me look guilty. NBC deliberately misrepresented the truth. Even after many people had called in, and there was massive fax, and e-mail campaign protesting NBC's mutilation of the facts, Ralph Penza and NBC continued to broadcast that photograph, representing it as me. Not once have the New Jersey State Police, Governor Christine Whitman, or NBC come forth and stated that I was not the woman in the photograph, or that I had been acquitted of that charge.


The Hands Off Assata Campaign

The Hands Off Assata Campaign is a coming together of organizations and individuals who are outraged by the heightened attempts by the federal government, congress of the united states and the state of new jersey to illegally force thru kidnapping a return of Assata Shakur from Cuba to the plantation United States.

We know that Assata Shakur is a bona fide political exile living in the island nation of Cuba. She was persecuted for her political beliefs and tortured while in prison. We support the international human rights and Geneva conventions, which enabled her to seek and secure political asylum in Cuba, and we support the right of the Cuban people to grant it to her. We are shocked by the actions of new jersey and the department of justice, who has issued a $1 million dollar bounty on head of Assata Shakur.

Doing such a thing is tantamount to a call to "soldiers of fortune" to kidnap and kill Ms. Shakur and for them to engage in international espionage against the sovereign nation of Cuba.

We are shocked by the activities of the United States House of Representatives, which in September 1998 passed House Resolution 254, calling on the Cuban Government to extradite Assata Shakur. Given that there is no binding extradition treaty between Cuba and the United States, such a request is outside the context of international law. In addition, we call on the Congress of the United States to hold public hearings on the past and current impact of FBI's Counter Intelligence Program known as COINTELPRO.

Given that Assata Shakur was not the only one politically persecuted for her political beliefs, we demand that a full airing take place on that program. And finally are calling on the United States end its hostility towards the tiny nation of Cuba by normalizing relations with the Island and ending the US economic blockade

Assata Shakur: Sister, Woman, Exile, Mother, Grand mother


ASSATA SHAKUR is an African woman. She is a social justice activist, a poet, a mother and a grandmother. She has lived in Cuba since the early 1980s. During the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s, she found herself a victim of both racial profiling and political targeting. After being spotted on the New Jersey turnpike on May 2, 1973, (DWB) driving while Black, it was discovered that she and her two companions were known members of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Leonard Peltier and many members of the Civil Rights and American Indian Movements, Assata and her companions had been watched, their phones tapped, their families monitored, their organizations infiltrated, and widespread disinformation campaigns waged against them. They were like many activists of the day targets of the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). In fact, Assata was wanted, not for anything she had actually done, but for a variety of crimes that government and state officials were trying to pin on her. This was common in the 1970s: discredit the voice of activists by painting them as criminals, trumping up indictments, tying them up in courts and if possible jailing them. In the mid 1970s, The Church Committee of the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations and the Domestic Intelligence Subcommittee, headed by Senator Walter Mondale, provided incontrovertible documentation of a government sponsored conspiracy against the civil and human rights of all sorts of political activists.

THUS ON THAT DAY IN MAY, Assata was a marked woman. And after police stopped them, a shoot out occurred. When the smoke cleared one police officer, and one of Assata's companions, Zayd Shakur lay dead. Assata, shot in the back and dragged from the car, lay wounded. Only belatedly taken to the hospital, Assata was then chained to her bed, tortured and questioned while injured. In fact, she never received adequate medical attention even though she had a broken clavicle and a paralyzed arm. Nonetheless, she was quickly jailed, prosecuted and incarcerated over the next few years for the series of trumped up cases. Interestingly, in five separate trials, and with majority white juries, charges were dismissed because of lack of evidence or she was acquitted of all charges ranging from bank robbery to murder. As the manager of one bank said at trial - she is just not the one who robbed my bank. Only in the final trial in 1977, where she was charged with the Turnpike killings, was she found guilty. This even though forensic evidence taken that day showed that she had not fired a weapon. She was sentenced to life + 33 years in prison. In 1979, and after nearly six years behind bars, she escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey and some time later emerged in Cuba where she applied for and received political asylum. Since being in Cuba, she has continued her college education, published an autobiography, and writes on global issues facing women, youth, and people of color.

DURING THE 1990S, rightist politicians and police bodies - this time in conjunction with conservative members of the Cuban-American community - reinvigorated their attempts to pursue Assata Shakur. They did this even though Assata has not tried to re-enter the United States and is, according to international law, a political exile who should be left alone. Linking "fear of crime" rhetoric with anti-Cuban sentiment, New Jersey governor Christine Todd-Whitman issued a bounty which was $100,000, on the head of Assata Shakur. She even went as far as to announce her bounty on Radio Marti, the US government radio station which beams anti-Castro propaganda into the Caribbean. To do such a thing put Assata in danger because it is tantamount to encouraging any opportunists to kidnap and/or kill her for pay. In addition, in 1998, Congressmen Franks and Menendez from New Jersey and Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart of Florida introduced and got passed - House Resolution 254 - which calls for the Cuban government to extradite Assata Shakur as a condition to normalizing US-Cuba relations. Interestingly, while Assata and Cuba are portrayed as "criminal", a terrorist bombing campaign - thought to be sponsored by ultra-rightist forces in the United States - has been launched against Cuba, killing and injuring Cuban citizens and foreign tourists alike.

What can you do?

Add your organization's name to our list of endorsers/Take petitions.
Contact your Congressperson. Demand that he/she rescind House Resolution #254 and ask them to support congressional hearings on COINTELPRO. You can use a Congressional email service to look up your rep's email: http://www.house.gov/writerep
Download and print the "Hands Off Assata Shakur" Flyer
Plan a showing of the film Eyes of the Rainbow (1997). This film portrays the life and current struggles of Assata Shakur. Download and View: Eyes Of The Rainbow
Keep visiting www.assatashakur.org for current HOA-Campaign Info.
Organize a The Hands Off Assata Shakur Campaign Rally and Teach In in your respective cities and towns
Send contributions: The Talking Drum Collective, P.O. Box 1921, Stone Mountain, Ga. 30086
Any questions, contact us at www.assatashakur.org using the contact us form.
Link to this site.
Get an Hands off Assata Action Alert RSS Feed
Also participate in the monthly Action Alert






Emergency Mobilization to defend Oregon's renters in Salem on Tuesday, Noon - 6:00 PM


  • Tuesday at 12 PM - 6 PM
    Oregon State Capitol
    900 Court St NE, Salem, Oregon 

    **PLEASE SHARE** 

    Oregon's renters are in grave DANGER of being betrayed by state Democrats, who are taking landlord lobby money in exchange for opposing real and desparately needed solutions to the housing crisis.

    The legislative session ends soon, and devestating cuts have already been made to HB 2004 which leave remove critical protections and create huge loopholes for others: the provision that would have made rent stabilization legal has been removed, while the provision that makes no-cause evictions illegal is loophole-ridden.

    This bill should protect ALL tenants, not offer generous loopholes to landlords! Without BOLD AND DECISIVE ACTION, Oregon's rent crisis will continue to push families into poverty and into homelesness.

    ✪ We DEMAND that Democrats take REAL action on the housing crisis, by either restoring HB 2004 to its originally-written version, and/or limiting rent increases be to 3% statewide!
    (House Speaker Tina Kotek proposed 5%).

    Join us in Salem to demand that lawmakers offer REAL solutions to renters: we will not settle for fake solutions to a devastating housing crisis. Tenants are voters too, and politicians must be accountable to the many, not the few.

On this day in 1932, 24-year-old Italian anarchist coalminer Angelo Pellegrino Sbardellotto was executed by a fascist firing squad


On this day in 1932, 24-year-old Italian anarchist coalminer Angelo Pellegrino Sbardellotto was executed by a fascist firing squad in Italy, having admitted his plan to assassinate Mussolini. His final words were "Viva anarchia!" ("Long live anarchy!").

What the heck is wrong at the Post Office???

When I go to my local Post Office there is usually a long line, one or two unhappy people working at the counter and lots of stress. The carrier who delivers my mail is walking at a super-fast pace and I often get mail for other households. The cost of stamps is increasing while services and service levels are dropping. It's too easy to blame all of this on the Internet and Amazon and leave it at that. For instance, Netflix shipments get preferential treatment because they're a large corporation, and private business get to raid and take over some postal services, and outfits like DHL and the chains of "private post offices" make money when postal services fail or are cut or outsourced. This is not the Post Office I grew up with: that Postal Service had limited banking services, Post Offices were fully staffed, the carriers knew the people on their routes, and the Postal Service hired people of women, color and veterans and provided secure employment. A mail carrier job was a job you wanted. Here is an union article providing some context for what's going on. 


"(Union) Locals are already getting into the fight on the streets. The Baltimore APWU Local held an informational picket at the Main Post Office in Baltimore on June 10 that was attended by postal workers and community members. Other Locals are also preparing for similar actions. Locals wishing to conduct informational pickets should contact the Clerk Craft Division to receive assistance."
American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Geared Up to Fight Back Against USPS Reductions in Service and Jobs

06/16/2017 - Throughout the country, the Postal Service has launched an all-out assault on our jobs and is blatantly violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in their staffing of post offices. The USPS is reducing service to the community and disrupting the lives of postal workers by reducing duty assignments (reversions and abolishments) and issuing excessing notices potentially affecting hundreds of post offices and thousands of employees.

Postal Service is Blatantly Violating the Contract

The APWU and the USPS agreed in Article 37.3.A.1 of the CBA that, “Every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours for career employees to bid.” This includes hours worked by PSEs. This provision was part of an overall agreement for more APWU jobs.

However, the Postal Service is now ignoring that part of the agreement and instead of utilizing “all available work hours” to create duty assignments, the USPS is now attempting to utilize what they call “earned hours” and “earned duty assignments” to determine the number of duty assignments. “Earned duty assignments” is what the USPS would prefer the number of duty assignments to be and has no basis in the contract.

“We are gearing up for a large fight,” said President Dimondstein. “I know that if we stick together and stay united, then – just like the Stop Staples and contract campaigns – we will be victorious.”

USPS Actions are an Attack on Service

The Postal Service is reducing duty assignments and issuing excessing notices despite the fact that Postal Service is already understaffed as evidenced by the following issues, taking place in many offices around the country:

Long lines for postal customers at the window
Delayed mail
Thousands of Postal Support Employees averaging over 30 hours a week
High amounts of overtime
One worker instead of the agreed upon two or three workers staffing DBCS machines

As postal workers and postal customers know from experience, in most offices, the Postal Service is seriously understaffed and causing poor service to the community. Some installation heads are acting with integrity and resisting the unreasonable reductions in duty assignments and service, but many are going along despite the harm to postal workers and the community.


APWU members and supporters protest service and job cuts in Baltimore, MD.

APWU is Fighting Back

The APWU has been implementing a plan to fight back that includes meetings with management at every level, informational pickets to inform the community, and utilization of the grievance procedure.

“I salute the National Clerk Craft Officers for taking the lead on this, with assistance from the Regional Coordinators and the National Business Agents,” said President Dimondstein

Meetings at the national level, including meetings with Postmaster General Megan Brennan, have emphasized the blatant reduction of duty assignments across the country when the duty assignments are clearly needed and also the unprecedented nature of the amount of excessing notices at one time.

Locals are already getting into the fight on the streets. The Baltimore APWU Local held an informational picket at the Main Post Office in Baltimore on June 10 that was attended by postal workers and community members. Other Locals are also preparing for similar actions. Locals wishing to conduct informational pickets should contact the Clerk Craft Division to receive assistance.

The APWU has been conducting Max Duty Assignment Tool (MDAT) training across the country on how to demonstrate new duty assignments whenever management tries to eliminate duty assignments or excess employees. We have designated National Business Agents (NBAs) in each area that are working under the direction of the National Clerk Craft Officers to work with Local and State organizations to develop strong grievances, coordinate our actions, and put our best foot forward in addressing these issues.

A Call to Action

As postal workers we must fight together against the Postal Services ongoing willingness to blatantly violate the contractual agreements they made with us. It is important that postal workers attend their local union meetings where we can learn from each other and work on strategies to slow or stop management’s plans to reduce service to the community and disrupt the workforce. If we come together in an organized manner, we can win a better Postal Service and a better workplace.

For More Information

If you would like to receive information directly from the APWU by text or email, please sign-up at http://www.apwu.org/stay-connected. Check back on apwu.org for more details about this ongoing fight.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Cuba once more denounced the continuation of the blockade at the UN

From Granma:


On June 13, Cuba denounced the continuation of the United States economic, commercial, financial blockade and its extraterritorial reach, an example of which was the fine recently levied against American Honda Finance Corporation’s (AHFC) Canadian subsidiary.

Prensa Latina, citing a press release by the island’s permanent mission to the United Nations, reported that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed a fine of 87,255 dollars on the company for violating blockade regulations regarding Cuba.

According to the diplomatic delegation, the sanction comes after the subsidiary approved and financed 13 agreements linked to car rentals by the Cuban Embassy in Canada from a Honda dealership in Ottawa, between February 2011 and March 2014.

This is the first such a fine has been imposed under the government of Donald Trump who arrived to the White House on January 20, where his predecessor, Barack Obama previously announced the start of a process of rapprochement between the two countries, in December of 2014.

Over the last two and half years, the U.S. government has imposed more than 2,842,000 dollars worth of fines against a total of 11 entities - six from the U.S. and four international - according to the Cuban mission.

The delegation also highlighted that the latest fine is another on the long list of unilateral measures applied under the blockade, which after more than 50 years remains in force.

Regarding the recent fine, the measure not only impacts the work of Cuban diplomats in third countries but also harms Canadian citizens and companies, noted the mission.

People React To The Yanez Verdict In The Killing of Philando Castile






"What happens when instead of becoming enraged and shocked every time a Black person is killed in the United States, we recognize Black death as a predictable and constitutive aspect of this democracy? What will happen then if instead of demanding justice we recognize (or at least consider) that the very notion of justice ... produces and requires Black exclusion and death as normative?"

– Joy James & Joāo Costa Vargas

Border Patrol Raids Humanitarian Aid Camp in Targeted Attack

Contact: media@nomoredeaths.org

A helicopter, 15 trucks and 30 armed agents descended on the medical aid station to apprehend 4 people receiving medical care in deadly summer heat

Thursday, June 15th, 6:00 pm, Arivaca, Arizona: In temperatures surging over 100℉, US Border Patrol raided the medical aid camp of humanitarian organization No More Deaths, and detained four individuals receiving medical care. Obstruction of humanitarian aid is an egregious abuse by the law enforcement agency, a clear violation of international humanitarian law and a violation of the organization’s written agreement with the Tucson Sector Border Patrol.

Agents from the Border Patrol began surveilling the No More Deaths’ camp on Tuesday, June 13th at around 4:30 PM. Agents in vehicles, on foot and ATV’s surrounded the aid facility and set up a temporary checkpoint at the property-line to search and interrogate those leaving about their citizenship status. The heavy presence of law enforcement has deterred people from accessing critical humanitarian assistance in this period of hot and deadly weather. These events also follow a pattern of increasing surveillance of humanitarian aid over the past few months under the Trump administration.

This afternoon, in an unprecedented show of force, approximately 30 armed agents raided the camp with at least 15 trucks, 2 quads and a helicopter to apprehend four patients receiving medical care.

For the past 13 years, No More Deaths has provided food, water, and medical care for people crossing the Sonoran desert on foot. The ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by border enforcement policy has claimed the lives of over 7000 people since 1998. Human remains are found on average once every three days in the desert of Southern Arizona.

Kate Morgan, Abuse Documentation & Advocacy Coordinator for the organization said, “No More Deaths has documented the deaths and disappearances of hundreds of migrants in the Arivaca corridor of the border. Today’s raid on the medical aid station is unacceptable and a break in our good faith agreements with Border Patrol to respect the critical work of No More Deaths”.

John Fife, one of the founders of No More Deaths, commented that, “Since 2013 the Tucson sector of the Border Patrol has had a written agreement with No More Deaths (NMD) that they will respect the NMD camp as a medical facility under the international Red Cross standards, which prohibit government interference with humanitarian aid centers. That agreement now has been violated by the Border Patrol under the most suspicious circumstances. The Border Patrol acknowledged that they tracked a group for 18 miles, but only after the migrants sought medical treatment did the Border Patrol seek to arrest them. The choice to interdict these people only after they entered the No More Deaths’ camp is direct evidence that this was a direct attack on humanitarian aid. At the same time, the weather forcast is for record setting deadly temperatures”.

People crossing the deadly and remote regions of the US Mexico border often avoid seeking urgent medical care for fear of deportation and incarceration. For this reason, a humanitarian focused aid station in the desert is an essential tool for preserving life. The targeting of this critical medical aid is a shameful reflection of the current administration’s disregard for the lives of migrants and refugees, making an already dangerous journey even more deadly.

In spite of this, No More Deaths remains committed to our mission to end death and suffering in the desert and will continue to provide humanitarian aid, as we have for the past 13 years.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Walter Rodney: March 23, 1942 - June 13, 1980


"Dr. Walter Rodney was a revolutionary intellectual, socialist, Pan-Africanist and organizer who made a significant contribution to the Caribbean Radical Tradition that seeks to create just, liberated and egalitarian societies in the Caribbean region."--"Dr. Walter Rodney: Revolutionary Intellectual, Socialist, Pan-Africanist and Historian" by Ajamu Nangwaya, writing for teleSUR

"Historically, the initiative came from Europe. It was the European commercial system which expanded to embrace the various levels of African barter economy, and to assign to them specific roles in global production. This meant the accumulation of capital from trading in Africa, and above all from the purchase of slaves and their employment in the New World. It is essential to stress that all changes on the coast occurred without prejudice to this overall conception. Indeed, the most significant social changes on the Upper Guinea Coast demonstrated how African society became geared to serve the capitalist system."--Walter Rodney


In 1968, while a UWI professor in Jamaica, he joined others to object to the socio-economic and political direction of the government. Unlike his counterparts, however, Rodney involved the working class, including the Rastafarians (one of Jamaica’s most marginalized groups) in this dialogue. His speeches and lectures to these groups were published as Grounding with My Brothers, and became central to the Caribbean Black Power Movement. Rodney’s activities attracted the Jamaican government’s attention and after attending the 1968 Black Writers’ Conference in Montreal, Canada he was banned from re-entering the country. This decision was to have profound repercussions, sparking widespread unrest in Kingston.

In 1974, Walter returned to Guyana to take up an appointment as Professor of History at the University of Guyana, but the government rescinded the appointment. But Rodney remained in Guyana, joined the newly formed political group, the Working People’s Alliance. Between 1974 and 1979, he emerged as the leading figure in the resistance movement against the increasingly authoritarian PNC government. He give public and private talks all over the country that served to engender a new political consciousness in the country. During this period he developed his ideas on the self emancipation of the working people, People’s Power, and multiracial democracy.

As the WPA gained popularity and momentum, the PNC began a campaign of harassment including police raids, house searches, and beatings. On July 11, 1979, Walter, together with seven others, was arrested following the burning down of two government offices. Rodney and four others (known as the “Referendum Five”) faced trumped-up charges of arson, but without proof and scrutiny from international supporters, the government was forced to drop these charges.

Rodney’s voice was not confined to Africa and the Caribbean but was also heard in the U.S. and Europe. In the early-mid 1970s, he participated in discussions and lectures with the African Heritage Studies Association at Howard University; the Institute of the Black World in Atlanta, GA; the African Studies and Research Center at Cornell University; and the State University of New York at Binghamton.

The persecution, however, continued: two party members were killed, and the government denied Rodney and others permission to travel. Despite this, Rodney continued his political work and attended Zimbabwe’s independence celebrations in May 1980.

On Friday, June 13, 1980, Walter Anthony Rodney was assassinated by a bomb in Georgetown, Guyana. He was 38 years old.


Walter Rodney wrote:

I would suggest two basic reasons why I believe that Marxist thought, Scientific Socialist thought, would exist at different levels, at different times, in different places and retain its potential as a tool, as a set of conceptions which people should grasp.

The first is to look at Marxism, as, a methodology, because a methodology would, virtually by definition, be independent of time and place. You will use the methodology at any given time, at any given place. You may get different results, of course, but the methodology itself would be independent of time and place.

And essentially, to engage in a rather truncated presentation of Marxism, inevitably oversimplifying, but nevertheless necessary in the context of limited time I would suggest that, one of the real bases of Marxist thought is that it starts from a. perspective of man's relationship to the material world; and that Marxism, when it arose historically, consciously dissociated itself from and pitted itself against all other modes of perception which started with ideas, with concepts and with words; and rooted itself in the material conditions and in the social relations in society.

This is the difference with which I will start. A methodology which begins its analysis of any society, of any situation, by seeking the relations which arise in production between men. There are a whole variety of things which flow from that: man's consciousness is formed in the intervention in nature; nature itself is humanised through its interaction with man's labour; and man's labour produces a constant stream of technology which in turn creates other social changes.

So this is the crux of the Scientific Socialist perception. A methodology that addresses itself to man's relationship in the process of production on the assumption, which I think is a valid assumption, that production is not merely the, basis of man's existence, but the basis for defining man as a special kind of being with a certain consciousness.

It is only through production that the human race differentiates itself from the rest of the primate's and the rest of life...

...But we are suggesting that the word is itself an emanation from people's activity as they attempt to communicate with each other, as they develop social relations out of production, and that we shouldn't be mystified with words. Oh, naturally enough we will have to deal with concepts and with the force of consciousness, which is a very powerful force and one that even some Marxists have been tempted to underestimate.

Now, Marx, taking that broad framework of methodology, tried to apply it to Western Europe. He applied it to a range of societies in different places and at different times; but he concentrated his attention on Western Europe. If you examine the body of literature produced by Marx and Engels, you will find that they speak about slavery, about communal society, about feudalism, but by and large, they concentrated on capitalism. They hardly even talk about socialism.

Marx's great contribution was his fantastic critique of an existing society, capitalist society. How did it come into being in a particular part of the world? The vast majority of their literature concerns this question.

But, as I said when I referred to pre-capitalist society, especially feudalism, they talked about some other parts of the world. Occasionally Marx mentions the Asiatic mode of production. Occasionally he came across to look at the data concerning the United States. So he had something of a geographical span and a long time 'span.

But it was so minimal in comparison with the bulk of his work that it is true that a lot of people have taken Marx's method and his conclusions and have seen them as one and the same thing - that Marxism is not merely a certain methodology applied to Western Europe, but is itself an ideology about Western Europe, about capitalism in the 19th century and cannot transcend those boundaries, when clearly Marx was doing the job he had to do. He was looking at his own society, he was doing it under some of the most adverse conditions, he was doing it by mastering bourgeois knowledge and putting it to the service of change and revolution.

I would suggest, then, that the method was independent of time and place. It is implicit in Marx and it becomes explicit in post-Marxian development, using Marxian in the literal sense of the life of Marx himself. After Marx's death you will get the evolution or the development of scientific socialist thought with other individuals recognising that the methodology can be applied, must be applied to different times to different places.

Again, presenting our history in a very abbreviated form, we can look at Lenin, at his application of Marxist theory to Russian society. That is one of his principal contributions. The first major thesis of the young Lenin was the Development of Capitalism in Russia. He had to deal with his own society. He had to take those formulations out of the specific cultural and historical context of Western Europe and look at Eastern Europe, at Russia which was evolving differently, and apply them to his own society. This he did.

He had at the same time to consider the time dimension that in the 19th century Marx was writing about what has now come to be called the classic period of capitalism, the entrepreneurial version of capitalism, and by the latter 19th century this had given way to monopoly capitalism. It has given way to imperialism. So Lenin had to deal with that method by applying it to a new dimension in time. So he wrote about capitalism in its imperialist stage.

So those are the two variants operating: the ideology; the methodology of it (we'll stick to the methodology for the time being) being applied to different societies at different. times. Having made the point for Lenin, I hope it becomes clear for a. number of people: Mao tse Tung applying it to Chinese society which was a different society from Russian society. Understanding the inner dynamics of Chinese society, relating to the question of the peasantry in a different and more profound way than any previous writer because that was the nature of Chinese society and he had addressed himself to that.

And finally for our purposes, the most important example, the example of Amilcar Cabral because he was dealing with Africa. Cabral, in one of his essays, the one titled The Weapon of Theory, if I recall correctly, one of his most important essays; began by making clear that the best he could do -was to return to the basic methodology of Marx and Engels. But it was not possible for Cabral to begin the analysis of the history of Guinea-Bissau by saying: "I am going to look for classes", for example. He said. "if I say this I will be denying that my people have any history because I do not perceive classes for a long period in the genesis of my own people."

Then he referred back to Marx's and Engels' classic statement that "the history of all existing, societies is the history of class struggle", to which Engels had appended a note saying that by "all history", we mean "all previously recorded history". It so happens that the history of the people of Guinea-Bissau hasn't been recorded and Cabral says, "I want to record that history. We will use the Marxian method. We will not be tied by the, concept which arose historically in Western Europe when Marx was studying that society".

Marx uses the method and he discerned the evolution of classes and of the phenomenon of classes itself as being a major determinant, the major determinant in Western European history at a particular point in time. Cabral says we will begin at the beginning. We will not even concern ourselves initially with classes. We will simply look at men in the process of production. We will look at modes of production in the history of Guinea, and we will see how our society evolved. So without much of a fanfare he was showing the relevance of that methodology to African society.

If, and when, in the history of Guinea-Bissau, the aspect of class appears to have historical importance, then Cabral dealt with it. Until such time, he simply stuck to the basis of Marxian methodology which was to look at Guinean people in the process of production, at the various modes of production, social formations, cultural formations which arose historically and the direction in which the society was tending.

In many respects, when we ask the question today about the relevance of Marxism to black people, we have already reached a minority position, as it were. Many of those engaged in the debate present the debate as though Marxism is a European phenomenon and black people responding to it must of necessity be alienated because the alienation of race must enter into the discussion.

They seem not to take into account that already that methodology and that ideology have been utilised, internalised, domesticated in large parts of the world that are not European.

That it is already the ideology of eight hundred million Chinese people; that it is already the ideology which guided the Vietnamese people to successful struggle and to the defeat of imperialism. That it is already the ideology which allows North Korea to transform itself from. a backward, quasi-feudal, quasi-colonial terrain into an independent, industrial power. That it is already the ideology which has been adopted on the Latin American, continent and that serves as the basis for development in the Republic of Cuba. That it is already the ideology which was used by Cabral, which was used by Samora Machel, which is in use on the African continent itself to underline and underscore struggle and the construction of a new society.

It cannot therefore be termed a European phenomenon; and the onus will certainly be on those who argue that this phenomenon, which was already universalised itself, is somehow inapplicable to some black people. The onus will be on those individuals, I suggest, to show some reason, perhaps genetic, why the genes of black people reject this ideological position.

When we investigate and try to centralise or keep central the concept of relevance, we must ask ourselves questions about the present. What kind of society, do we live in today? What kind of societies do black people live in today in different parts of the world? And while, of course, we as black people in this country, in the Caribbean and in different parts of Africa have our own independent historical experience, one of the central facts is that we are all in one way or another, located within the capitalist system of production.

The society about, which Marx wrote, through a process of outgrowth, dominated Africa and the Americas in the era of mercantilism which was the period that capitalism was growing to maturity. It dominated these parts of the world. It created slave society in the Americas.

Subsequent to the slave era, capitalism, even more powerful, was able to incorporate the whole world into a global network of production which derived from Western Europe and North America, a system which had a metropolitan centre or set of metropolitan centres, and a separate set of peripheries, colonies and semi-colonies.

So that we have all, historically, been incorporated within the capitalist system of production, and that is another dimension of the relevance of Marxism.

Even without the translation in terms of time and place, it seems to me that if we have become part of the capitalist-imperialist world, then we owe it to ourselves to relate to, to follow, to understand and, to hopefully adopt and adapt a critique of that capitalist system because that is essentially what Marx's writing is about. He was critiquing that capitalist system. He did [so] more effectively than any bourgeois writer, and if we want to understand the world in which we live, which is the world dominated by capitalism then we must understand the centre of that system, the motor within that system, the types of exploitation which are to be found within the capitalist mode of production. So that is yet another factor.

Marxism as Revolutionary Ideology

My second consideration after methodology, (and I had originally suggested that there were two basic things, and one was the methodology), is to look at Marxism as a revolutionary ideology and as a class ideology.

In class societies, all ideologies are class ideologies. All ideologies derive from and support some particular class. So for all practical purposes we have grown up in capitalist society, and bourgeois ideology is dominant in our society. These institutions in which we function were created to serve the creation of ideas as commodities, ideas which will buttress the capitalist system.

Now, I would suggest, historically, as Marx suggested himself, that the set of ideas we call Scientific Socialism arose within capitalist society to speak to the interest of the producers in that society, to speak to the interest of those who are exploited and expropriated, to speak to the interest of the oppressed, of the culturally alienated; and we must understand that of the two major sets of ideas before us, idealism and materialism, bourgeois philosophy and Marxist philosophy, that each of the two is representative of a particular class.

I don't have the time to go into all the historical roots of the formation of socialism, but briefly, in the 19th century it was in the rise of capitalist society that conditions were created for the development of socialist ideas. Out of the diverse and unsystematised socialist ideas, Marx was able to formulate a clear and systematic theory - Scientific Socialism. -It had a particular class base and because it had this particular class base, it was revolutionary. It sought to transform and upend the relations in society.

Bourgeois ideology is of necessity status quo preserving. It seeks to conserve, it seeks to buttress the given system of production, the relations which flow, the relations which flow from a certain system of production.

A Scientific Socialist position is and remains revolutionary, because it aims, consciously aims, at undermining that system of production and the political relations which flow from it. This is what I mean by revolutionary.

From time to time there are Marxists who have arisen, who have attempted to deny or denude Marxism of its revolutionary content. That is true. There are Marxists who have become legal or armchair Marxists, who would like to see Marxism as merely another variant of philosophy and who treat it in a very eclectic fashion, as though one is free to draw from Marxism as one draws from Greek thought and its equivalent, without looking at the class base and without looking at whether an ideology is supportive of the status quo or not.

Nevertheless, by and large, we can see Marxism and Scientific Socialism as subversive of and antithetical to the maintenance of the system of production in which we live. Because ideas, let me repeat, do not float in, the sky, they do Not float in the atmosphere, they are related to concrete relations of production. Bourgeois ideas derive from bourgeois relations of production. They are intended to conserve and maintain those relations of production. Socialist ideas derive from the same production, but they derive from a different class interest and their aim is to overthrow that system of production.

Africa and Scientific Socialism


There again I will suggest that African people, like other Third World people, have virtually a vested interest in Scientific Socialism, because it offers itself to them as a weapon of theory. It offers itself to them as that tool, at the level of ideas, which will be utilised for dismantling the capitalist imperialist structure. This is its concern.

What I will attempt to deal with as best I can, are certain questions arising from individuals who might say yes to most of what I've said and then will ask the question, "Is there no other alternative? Is there no other ideological system which is neither capitalist nor socialist, but is anticapitalist, but addresses itself more humanely, if you like, to the interest of African people wherever they are?"

These questions are worth looking into because there are black people asking these questions and we have to try and resolve them. My own formulation will be to suggest that we look at concrete examples of African or black people who have attempted to devise systems which they-consider to be non-capitalist and non-socialist, systems they consider valid alternatives to. Scientific Socialism for the emancipation, of. African people.

In this regard, we have a number of pan-Africanists, a number of African nationalists in Africa, in the Caribbean and in this country, who have taken that road. George Padmore did this at the end of his life, and made a distinction .between Scientific Socialism and pan-Africanism. He said this is the road we will follow: pan-Africanism. We do not want to go that road which is capitalist, we do not want to go the socialist road, we will derive for ourselves something that is pan-African.

In a sense, Nkrumah followed up on this; and although at one, time he called himself a Marxist, he always was careful to qualify this by saying that he was also a Protestant. He believed in Protestantism, at the same time. So he was trying to straddle two worlds simultaneously - the world which says in the beginning was matter and the world which says in .the beginning there was the word.

And inevitably he fell between these two. It's impossible to straddle these two. But there he was, and we must grant his honesty and we must grant the honesty of many, people who have attempted to do this impossible task and follow them to find out why they failed.

They failed because their conception of what was a variant different from bourgeois thought and different from socialist thought inevitably turned out to be merely another branch of bourgeois thought.

And this was the problem, that bourgeois thought, and indeed socialist thought, when we get down to it, can have a variety of developments or roads and aspects or paths. With bourgeois thought, because of its whimsical nature, and because of the way in which it prompts eccentrics, you can have any road, because, after all, when you are not going any place you can choose any road!

So it was possible for these individuals to make what. I consider to be a genuine attempt to break with the dominance of bourgeois thought and yet find, in the final analysis, that they had merely embraced another manifestation of that which they themselves had suggested that they were confronting at the outset.

There are a number of examples, some more apt than others. Some of the examples actually, are Africans who I think were blatantly dishonest from the beginning. I do think that most of the ideologues of African socialism claiming to find a third path are actually just cheap tricksters, who are tricksters who are attempting to hoodwink the majority of the population. I don't think they're out to develop socialism. I don't think they're out to develop anything that addresses itself to the interest of the African people. But, nevertheless, it is part of the necessity of our times that our people no longer are willing to accept anything that is not put to them in the guise of socialism.

And therefore I shan't in fact go on to African socialism. What I'll do is take examples of those who were, in my opinion, being serious, being honest. And certainly Kwame Nkrumah was one of these. Nkrumah spent a number of years during the fifties and, right up to when he was overthrown - that would cover at least ten years - in which he was searching for an ideology. He started out with this mixture of Marxism and Protestantism, he talked about pan-Africanism; he went to Consciencism and then Nkrumahism, and, there was everything other than a straight understanding of socialism.

What were the actual consequences of this perception? That is what matters to us. Let us assume that he was searching for something African and that he was trying to avoid the trap of adopting something alien. What were the practical consequences of this attempt to dissociate himself from an international socialist tradition? We saw in Ghana that Nkrumah steadfastly refused to accept that there were classes, that there were class contradictions in Ghana, that these class contradictions were fundamental.

For years Nkrumah went along with this mish-mash of philosophy which took some socialist premises but which he refused to pursue to their logical conclusion - that one either had a capitalist system based upon the private ownership of the means of production and the alienation of the product of people's labour, or one had an, alternative system which was completely different and that there was no way of juxtaposing and mixing these two to create anything that was new and viable.

A most significant test of this position was when Nkrumah himself was overthrown! After he was overthrown, he lived in Guinea-Konakry and before, he died he wrote a small text, Class Struggle in Africa. it is not the greatest philosophical treatise but it is historically important, because it is there Nkrumah himself in effect admits the consequences, the misleading consequences of an ideology which espoused an African cause,. but which felt, for reasons which he did not understand,; an historical necessity to separate itself from Scientific Socialism. It indicated quite clearly the disastrous consequences of that position.

Because Nkrumah denied the existence of classes in Ghana until the petty bourgeoisie as a class overthrew him. And then, in Guinea, he said it was a terrible mistake. Yes, there are classes in Africa. Yes, the petty bourgeoisie is a class with interests fundamentally opposed to workers and peasants in Africa. Yes, the class interest of the petty bourgeoisie are the same or at least are tied in with the class interest of international monopoly capital; and therefore we have in Africa a class struggle within the African continent and a struggle against imperialism.

And if we are to aim at transcending these contradictions, at bringing victory and emancipation to the working peoples, the producers of Africa, we will have, to grapple with that ideology, which first of all recognises and challenges the existence of exploiting and oppressing classes.

It is a very important historical document. It is the closest that Nkrumah comes to a self-critique. It is the record of a genuine nationalist, an African nationalist who wandered for years with this assumption and feeling that somehow, he must dissociate himself in one way or another from Scientific Socialism because it originated outside of the boundaries of his own society and he was afraid of its cultural implications.

This is putting it in the most charitable way. But the fear is due, in fact, to aspects of bourgeois ideology. Due to the fact that he made a distinction between social theory and scientific theory, which is not a necessary distinction. That is the distinction which comes out of the history of bourgeois thought.

People seem to have no difficulty in deciding that they are going to use facets of the material culture that originated in the West, whether it originated in capitalist or socialist society. People have no difficulty relating to electricity but they say: "Marx and Engels, that's European!" Was Edison a racist? But they ask the question, "Was Marx a racist?" They genuinely believe, that they are making a fundamental distinction, whereas, in fact, they are obscuring the totality of social development.. And the natural sciences are not to be separated from the social sciences. Our interpretation of the social reality can similarly derive a certain, historical law and hence scientific law of society which can be applied irrespective of its origin or its originators.

Of course, it is true, and this is the most appropriate note on which to end, that any ideology, when applied, must be applied with sensitivity. It must be applied with a thorough grasp of the internal realities of a given society.

Marxism comes to the world as an historical fact, and it comes in a cultural nexus. If, for instance, Africans or, let us go back to Asians; when the Chinese first picked up the Marxist texts, they were European texts. They came loaded with conceptions of the historical development of Europe itself. So that method and factual data were obviously interwoven, and the conclusions were in fact in a specific historical and cultural setting.

It was the task, of the Chinese to deal with that and to adapt it and to scrutinise it and see how it was applicable to their society. First and foremost, to be scientific, it meant having due regard for the specifics of Chinese historical and social development.

I have already cited Cabral in another context and he reappears in this context. The way in which he is at all times looking at the particularities of class development in contemporary Guinea-Bissau. Looking at the potential of classes in Guinea-Bissau at this point in time. And therefore he is, of course, making sure that Marxism does not simply appear as the summation of other people's history, but appears as a living force within, one's history.

And this is a difficult transformation. This is the task of anybody who considers himself or herself a Marxist. However, because it is fraught with so many difficulties and obstacles, many people take the easy route, which is to take it as a finished product rather than ongoing social product which has to be adapted to their own society.

One finds that in looking at Marxist theory, at its relevance to race, looking at the relevance of Marxist theory to national emancipation, we come up with a very important paradox. And it is this: that the nationalist, in the strict sense of the word, that is the petty bourgeois nationalist, who aims merely at the recovery of national independence in our epoch, is incapable of giving the people of Africa or the peoples of the Caribbean any participation in liberal democracy.

The petty bourgeois cannot fulfil these historical tasks. For national liberation requires a socialist ideology. We cannot separate the two.

Even for national liberation in Africa, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique very clearly demonstrated the necessity for an ideological development, for consciencization, as they say in, Latin America; and the nationalist struggle was won because it came under the rubric of Scientific Socialist perspective.

As Cabral said, "There may be revolutions which have had a revolutionary theory and which have failed. But there has certainly been no revolution which has succeeded without a revolutionary theory".