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United States

Obama raises hopes but pledges more war

By Barry Sheppard

September 14, 2008 -- Socialist Voice -- The nomination of Barack Obama as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party is historic. He is the first African American presidential candidate of one of the two major capitalist parties. He may win the election and become the first black president, something inconceivable only two years ago. That a black man might become head of government in a society still marked by ingrained racism puts race at the centre of the election campaign — more on this below.

Obama gave his acceptance speech at the end of the Democratic Party convention to some 84,000 people. Such a turnout for a presidential candidate is itself unprecedented. During the Democratic Party primary campaign Obama regularly spoke to audiences of thousands. He has raised hopes in a nation weary of war and which is in a worsening economic downturn hitting workers and the middle class hard.

Peter Camejo interviewed in 1976

Peter Camejo is heard here speaking in 1976 on the NBC network when he stood for the US Socialist Workers Party as its presidential candidate.

Source: Jon Flanders.

A brilliant piece of socialist advocacy and showcases Camejo's skill for making socialist ideas accessible to a wide audience.

Peter Camejo 1939-2008: How to make a revolution in the United States (1969)/Liberalism, ultraleftism or mass action (1970)

The tragic news on September 13, 2008, that Peter Camejo had lost his battle with cancer is a blow to all those on the revolutionary left who have been politically and personally influenced by him. As a tribute, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal republishes two of Peter's most influential and enduring lectures, talks that continue to educate young revolutionary socialists to this day.

Peter Camejo in 2005, photo by Charles Jenks.

Peter Camejo was a longtime leader of the United States Socialist Workers Party. As a leader of the Young Socialist Alliance, the youth group associated with the SWP, Camejo was a prominent activist in the student movement at the University of California in Berkeley and in the anti-Vietnam war movement. He was the presidential candidate of the SWP in 1976. (Listen to Peter Camejo interviewed on the NBC's Tomorrow Show in 1976.) He parted company with the SWP in 1980 as its politics increasingly became more sectarian (Camejo's analysis of the US SWP's political evolution is available HERE.).

Peter Camejo: How to make a revolution in the United States (1969)/Liberalism, ultraleftism or mass action (1970)

By Peter Camejo

Peter Camejo was a longtime leader of the United States Socialist Workers Party. As a leader of the Young Socialist Alliance, the youth group associated with the SWP, Camejo was a prominent activist in the student movement at the University of California in Berkeley and in the anti-Vietnam war movement. He was the presidential candidate of the SWP in 1976.

Camejo made a number of visits to Australia for the Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance in the 1980s and 1990s, giving public lectures on US politics and socialism.

“How to Make a Revolution in the United States” is the abridged text of a speech delivered by Peter Camejo at an educational conference of the SWP and the YSA in New York on May 3, 1969. It is taken from the May 30, 1969 issue of The Militant.

“Liberalism, Ultraleftism or Mass Action” is the abridged text of a talk given by Camejo at a meeting in New York on June 14, 1970. It is taken from the July 10, 1970 issue of The Militant.

Martin Luther King's last struggle -- a talk by Brian Jones

Teacher and actor Brian Jones educated and moved his audience with his talk, ``Martin Luther King's last struggle'' at the United States' International Socialist Organization's ``Socialism 2008'' conference in Chicago on June 20, 2008.

 

Since 1999, Jones has portrayed Karl Marx in Howard Zinn's play Marx in Soho in US tours. He lent his voice to the audio recording of Noam Chomsky's book Hegemony or Survival and to several staged readings from Zinn's latest book, Voices of a People's History of the United States. He is a teacher in New York and contributes frequently to the Socialist Worker newspaper and the International Socialist Review magazine.

Socialism conferences are sponsored annually by the Center for Economic Research and Social Change, publisher of International Socialist Review and Haymarket Books. Conferences are co-sponsored by the International Socialist Organization, publisher of Socialist Worker and Obrero Socialista.

The elephant in the room: Obama, the left and the race question

By Malik Miah

August 10, 2008 -- Much of the world is fascinated by the current US presidential election. The main reason is because the United States is ready to do something that most developed countries would never consider doing: electing a representative from an oppressed minority as head of state.

Olympics 1968: Black Power Salute

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games the enduring image was Tommie Smith and John Carlos, African-American athletes, raising their gloved clenched fists in support of the Black Power movement during the ``Star Spangled Banner''. They were subsequently banned from the games for life. Black Power Salute looks at what inspired them to make their protest, and what happened to them after the Games. Featuring Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Bob Beamon and Delroy Lindo. Click HERE for parts 2-6.

Also read about Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who gained third place, who supported Smith's and Carlos' protest. Norman is the subject of a new documentary, Salute, which can be previewed here.

Part 1

 

Photo essay: Mexican indigenous front agitates for rights of migrants in the US

Text and photos by David Bacon

SANTIAGO DE JUXTLAHUACA, OAXACA, MEXICO

MAY 31, 2008 -- The assembly of the Indigenous Front of Binational Organisations in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca, one of the poorest areas in Mexico. A large percentage of the indigenous population of Oaxaca and other states has left to work in northern Mexico and in the United States. The FIOB is a political organisation of indigenous communities and migrants, with chapters in Mexico and the US. It advocates for the rights of migrants, and for the right not to migrate -- for economic development which would enable people to stay home.

Why Barack Obama’s nomination for the US presidency is historic

By Malik Miah

``America, this is our moment’’, stated Barack Obama on June 3 after winning enough delegates to become the presumed presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. Obama becomes the first African American in the history of the country to be nominated by one of the ruling parties. It happened on the evening of June 3 as the final two primaries occurred in Montana and South Dakota, where he and his main opponent New York Senator Hillary Clinton won one state each.

Fidel on Obama: The empire's hypocritical politics

By Fidel Castro Ruz

May 25, 2008 -- It would be dishonest of me to remain silent after hearing the speech Barack Obama delivered on the afternoon of May 23, 2008, at the Cuban American National Foundation, created by Ronald Reagan. I listened to his speech, as I did [John] McCain's and Bush's. I feel no resentment towards Obama, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favour. I have therefore no reservations about criticising him and about expressing my points of view on his words frankly.

Photo essay: Silicon Valley janitors go on strike against Yahoo!, Cisco

Photos and text by David Bacon

Mountain View, California, May 20, 2008 -- Silicon Valley janitors, mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America, walked out of Cisco Systems and Yahoo buildings in the first day of a Bay Area-wide strike intended to force building service contractors to sign a new agreement with their union, Service Employees Local 1877.

A brief socialist history of the automobile

By Rob Rooke

No single commercial product in the history of capitalism has had a greater effect on the economy and politics than the automobile. No other product has been such a lever to increase consumption and increase markets in the developed world. It could be argued that the car, more than any other product, was at the very heart of the 20th century’s economic expansion. In US society, for over a century, the car has been raised on a cultural pedestal worshipping individuality and defining big business’ vision of freedom.

Barack Obama, Reverend Wright and Black liberation theology

By Malik Miah

The groundswell of broad support for Barack Obama (both among Blacks and whites) is a phenomenon that deserves a serious analysis and understanding. It cannot be downplayed by passing it through the lens of pure-and-simple lesser-evilism.

Some radicals dismiss the mass phenomenon, because Obama is a candidate of a ruling-class party. That simplistic rejection of Obama's campaign and its mass support is sectarian: The issue isn't whether to vote for a Democrat, but rather our response to a development that is having a wide-scale impact. How many times, in state after state, have we ever seen citizens of all races line up for hours to hear an African-American man talk about “hope'', on a platform that is fundamentally no different than his opponents?

John Bellamy Foster on the global financial crisis

‘Nobody knows where the toxic debt is buried and how much there is’

John Bellamy Foster is editor of the Monthly Review, a prominent political journal established by the Marxist economist Paul Sweezy in the 1940s.

Foster is a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, USA. He has written widely on political economy and has established a reputation as an environmental socialist.

He has proven that Karl Marx was a radical ecologist in his book, Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature.

Foster is interviewed by Peter Boyle for Links - International Journal of Socialist Renewal and Green Left Weekly. It was conducted during the Climate Change Social Change conference in Sydney, April 11-13, 2008.

The written version of the interview is available at Green Left Weekly.

Photo essay: The men who live in the canyon

Photographs and captions by David Bacon

San Diego, California -- March 31, 2008 -- Isaias, Alvino and Porfirio, three Mixtec men from Etla, a town in Oaxaca, Mexico, live in the Los Peñasquitos canyon on the north edge of San Diego. They work as day labourers and farm workers -- wherever they can find work.

Isaias stands next to the place where he sleeps.

Speech & video: Martin Luther King: Beyond Vietnam -- A time to break the silence

On April 4, 1967, African-American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King addressed a gathering of religious antiwar activists at Riverside Church in New York City. On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated.

``I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a `thing-oriented' society to a `person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.'' -- MLK.

***

 

1968 year of revolt

Joel Geier, associate editor of the International Socialist Review, spoke on ``1968: Year of Revolt'' at the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL on March 26, 2008. He was a leading member of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the 1960s and witnessed the 1968 protests in Paris. He discussed a vital yet hidden history of struggle and its relevance to today.

The International Socialist Review is sponsoring a national meeting tour to mark the 40th anniversary of the remarkable year 1968. It was a year of conflict, class struggle and revolutionary upheaval around the world. 1968 saw the Vietnam Tet Offensive; the May general strike in France; the Black Power salute at the Olympics; the student struggle in Mexico and the massacre in Tlatelolco Plaza; the Prague Spring and Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia; the police riot at the Democratic Party convention; the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and urban rebellions; the birth of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement in Detroit. 1968 offers lessons to a new generation of activists and radicals organising for a better world.

Photo essay: Black and brown together in Mississippi

By David Bacon

Laurel, Mississippi is a town where many Mexican immigrants have arrived to work in poultry plants over the last decade, developing relations with African Americans who also work in the plants. La Veracruzana market and restaurant is named after the home state of many immigrants. Nearby, the Michoacana market sells religious statues. At the Veracruzana, Frank Curiel, an organiser for the Laborers Union and the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, talks with owner Samuel Holguin. Down the street is.a motel where Mexican poultry workers live.

Caroline Lund (1944-2006)

By John Percy
Caroline Lund, a lifelong fighter for socialism, workers’ rights and women’s liberation, and a contributing editor of Links, died at her home in Oakland, California, on October 14, aged 62. She will be sorely missed by her friends and comrades in the us and around the world who knew her, especially her lifelong partner and comrade Barry Sheppard.

Caroline succumbed to the ravages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (als, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, physicist Stephen Hawking being a long-term sufferer.)

Caroline was won to revolutionary socialist ideas in 1962 when she attended Carlton College, a small liberal arts college just south of Minneapolis. Caroline quickly became a leader of the swp’s youth organisation, the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA). In 1965 she moved to New York where she met and married Barry Sheppard, a key younger swp leader. From 1967, she was often on full time for the swp in a range of assignments—leading different campaigns, organising, international work and writing for the socialist press.

US labour and the new movement against capitalist globalisation

By Barry Sheppard

In the demonstration in Seattle at the close of 1999, a new generation of radicalising youth emerged to take on the World Trade Organisation. Tens of thousands of trade unionists also participated, demonstrating that there is a potential for this movement to begin to mobilise working people.

The targets of this new movement are globalising corporations and the international financial and trade organisations dominated by the rich countries, above all the United States. Clearly, these young people have deep internationalist sentiments, and wish to fight for better conditions for the world's poorest people exploited by these corporations and institutions. This anti-corporate consciousness can rapidly deepen into anti-imperialism, and can begin to question capitalism itself.

The participation of trade unionists in Seattle reflects the fact that the radicalising youth have a natural ally among working people and the trade unions. But the participation of the major US trade union federation, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) was marred by the political line it sought to bring to the action. As the editors of the July-August 2000 issue of the independent socialist magazine Monthly Review put it:

 

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