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United States: Pro-Democratic Party 'left' targets Kshama Sawant

Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant and other socialist municipal election campaigns. 

By Ben Norton

March 17, 2015 -- Socialist Worker (USA), posted at Links International of Socialist Renewal -- The Urban League is going after the only leftist and the only woman of colour on the Seattle City Council. Rather than challenging the pro-corporate advocates of neoliberalism, whether Democrat or Republican, who increasingly dominate US politics, this well-known liberal organisation is expending its energy on defeating the left.

Pamela Banks, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, announced this month that she will run in the next municipal election against City Council member Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative candidate who won national attention for her successful 2013 campaign.

Barry Sheppard: Recovering the revolutionary legacy of Malcolm X

For more on Malcolm X, click HERE. More by Barry Sheppard.

By Barry Sheppard

March 5, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- February 21 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, one of the greatest leaders of the 1960s Black liberation movement in the United States.

Lenin once wrote:

During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander.

United States: Conference to explore left electoral possibilities

Left to right: Brian Jones (ISO), Kshama Sawant (Socialist Alternative) and Howie Hawkins (Greens). Hawkins, the ISO and Socialist Alternative have endorsed the conference.

By Robert C.

February 17, 2015 -- Against the Current, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Activists and candidates from around the United states will come together on May 2-3, 2015, in Chicago to share their experiences and to launch a network for future cooperation at the Future of Left/Independent Electoral Action Conference.

The past few years have seen a significant uptick in independent political initiatives on the left, from election campaigns to new local electoral and social movement formations, to referenda campaigns.

Kshama Sawant’s November 2014 election to the Seattle City Council captured the attention of leftists across the country, but a number of other exciting campaigns have also been path breaking, including the Jackson Plan of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Richmond Progressive Alliance’s David and Goliath fight against Chevron in the East Bay. Many recent political developments have brought organisers building alternatives to the two-party system together with those using direct action and referenda to help win gains against fracking, for a $15 minimum wage, and other important initiatives.

United States: Chicago unionists force Democrat mayor into runoff election

Chicago teacher Tara Stamps campaigns in the 37th Ward for a spot on the city council, and for mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. Both Stamps and Garcia earned enough votes to make the April 7, 2015, runoff. Photo: Tara Stamps.

Click for more on left electoral politics at the municipal level.

By Samantha Winslow

February 25, 2015 -- Labor Notes, posted at Links International journal of Socialist Renewal -- On election night, February 24, 2015, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and its new independent electoral organisation didn’t knock out Democratic Party mayor Rahm Emanuel—but they did take him down a notch, forcing him into a runoff with the union’s preferred candidate, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

It’s the first runoff in a Chicago mayoral election in 20 years.

Union-friendly city council candidates and ballot initiatives gave Garcia’s campaign a boost. Three rank-and-file CTU members running for city council seats—Tara Stamps, Susan Sadlowski Garza and Tim Meegan—made it into the April 7 runoff, too.

Socialists and World War I: Turn the imperialist war into a civil war

Industrial Workers of the World poster against WWI.

By Doug Enaa Greene

February 2, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It has been a hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. The centennial of the “war to end all wars” has seen countless commemorations of the millions of heroic soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for king and country.

Yet missing from all of the observances of the war are the deeper questions of its causes – to divide colonies among predatory ruling classes – and the heroism of those who opposed the mass slaughter. And for the left, that is how we should remember this 100th anniversary – but honoring those socialists and communists who fought against all the odds to end the slaughter.

Paul Le Blanc: Explorations in plain Marxism: revolutionary theory, practical action

"For many developing intellectually in the English-speaking world during the early 1960s, the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills (on his way to work above) was an incredibly important influence."

For more by Paul Le Blanc, click HERE. For more discussion of Marxist theory, click HERE.

By Paul Le Blanc

January 15, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The ideas of Karl Marx are often put forward as an invaluable resource for those wishing to understand the world in order to change it for the better. Yet various people who speak as Marxists often insist upon divergent ways of understanding even the most basic concepts associated with Marxism – such as capitalism and the working class.

James Connolly: National liberation and socialism

Tribute to James Connolly by MyLittleTripod.

By Doug Enaa Greene

[See the video of this talk below.]

December 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "My business is revolution."[1] These words of the Irish socialist James Connolly succinctly sum up the main focus of his life. James Connolly is one of the towering socialist figures of our time. Connolly’s commitment to socialism and internationalism saw him work as labour organiser in Scotland, the United States and Ireland.

Connolly was also a stalwart member of the left wing of the Second International along with Lenin, Eugene Debs, Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky. However, Connolly is most well known for his central role in the struggle of Irish independence, especially in leading the Easter Uprising of 1916. The revolt failed and cost Connolly his life, but it was the spark that led to the end of British rule in the 26 counties of southern Ireland.

United States: Lorain County labour defends political independence

Ohioans successfully defeated Right to Work last time -- but it may come around again. Meanwhile, unions around Lorain have had it with Democrats who attack labour. Photo: AFSCME.

Click for more on left electoral politics at the municipal level.

By Bruce Bostick

November 17, 2014 -- Labor Notes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Ohio’s most trade union-dense county, the dominant Democratic Party machine declared war on what has historically been its own base: labour. So last year, in opposition to the machine, the labour federation in Lorain County, the Central Labor Council (CLC), ran and elected several independent candidates.

This time around, as an anti-union “Right to Work” bill looms again in Ohio, the CLC is taking aim at the leader of the pack: City of Lorain mayor Case Ritenauer.

Climate: Are US-China announced emissions cuts enough to halt global warming?

By Maxime Combes

November 14, 2014 -- MediaPart, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An unheard of agreement. Seen by some as historic, taking the words of US President Barack Obama and not putting them into perspective. On November 12, the media and commentators welcomed almost unanimously the joint US-China announcement on greenhouse gas emissions. But what is it really?

On November 12,  Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping announced their targets for cuts to their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The US announced a 26-28% reduction by 2025 compared to 2005 levels. While China envisages a peak in its GHG emissions around 2030, or if possible before.

Are these announcements really unheard of?

United States: Impressive red-green electoral campaigns in New York, Maine

Brian Jones (left) and Howie Hawkins.

November 13, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- In a mostly dismal election year, Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones gave the US left something to cheer about with their Green Party campaign for the governor and lieutenant governor of New York. (Jones is also a member of the International Socialist Organization). By getting almost 5 per cent and 200,000 votes, Hawkins-Jones had the most successful independent left-wing campaign in New York state in more than 50 years.

The Hawkins-Jones campaign was able to bring attention to struggles to defend public education and ban hydrofracking -- and to show that it's possible for the left to begin building organisation outside the Democratic Party. Howie and Brian spoke to Danny Katch about their assessment of the campaign and their thoughts about next steps.

* * *

What were your hopes for the campaign and were they realised?

Howie: We wrote four goals into our original campaign plan last January. I'll run through them:

1. At least 50,000 votes to retain our line on all New York ballots for the next four years. We easily achieved this goal.

Two cheers for marriage equality

By Colin Wilson

October 10, 2014 -- rs21, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- This week has seen a striking victory for US campaigners for LGBT equality. On Monday, October 6, the Supreme Court decided not to hear appeals from five states that sought to uphold bans on same-sex marriage. This is the end of the road for opponents of marriage equality in states as conservative as Utah, where over half the population are Mormons, and where marriage licences were issued to jubilant same-sex couples from Monday.

Six further states are covered by the same courts that heard the now-defeated appeals. The implication is that same-sex marriage will become legal there too. Judges also ruled on October 7 in favour of same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada: the ordained Elvis impersonators of Las Vegas’s wedding chapels began practising their new lines.

World’s largest climate justice march amid New York’s corporate sharks

New York City, September 21, 2014.

By Patrick Bond, New York City

September 24, 2014 -- First published at TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The world’s largest ever march against climate change on Sunday, September 21, brought 400,000 people to the streets of New York, starting a lively parade at Central Park. On Tuesday, September 23, 120 of the world’s political leaders – notably not including China's and India's – gathered 25 blocks away at the United Nations. The message they got from society was symbolised by the march route: instead of heading towards the UN building, the activists headed the other way, west.

This directional choice reveals that hope for action on climate change comes not from the apparently paralysed heads of state and their corporate allies, who again consistently failed on the most powerful challenge society has ever faced: to make the greenhouse gas emissions cuts necessary to halt certain chaos.

Instead, momentum has arisen largely from grassroots activists, even those fighting under the worst conditions possible, amid denialism, apathy, corporate hegemony, widespread political corruption and pervasive consumer materialism.

United States

United States: Marxists and the lost Labor Party of 1923

1919 US Labor Party convention.

By Eric Blanc

September 10, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Discussions on how to break working people from the hold of the Democratic Party have acquired a new immediacy as a result of the recent electoral victories of independent working-class candidates in Seattle, Washington, and Lorraine, Ohio, as well as the campaign for Chicago union leader Karen Lewis to run as an independent for mayor. Those interested in promoting independent politics today may benefit from studying the rich experience of the labor party movement in the United States of the early 1920s.

Climate and collusion: 'The window to halt runaway climate change is closing fast'

Environmental activists attempt to gain access to the plenary session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 30, 2014 -- TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- – The movement from below to tackle climate change is gathering pace in South Africa and elsewhere in the world in advance of the September 21 mass march against the United Nations. 

Environmentalists lead, but this struggle invokes the world’s greatest class-race-gender-North-South conflicts, too. Ban Ki-Moon’s heads-of-state summit on September 23 may generate greater publicity for the cause, but if, as anticipated, world rulers simply slap each other on the back, activists will have to even more urgently intensify the pressure.

Caroline Lund: Reflections of a trade union militant and socialist

Caroline Lund at work.

By Barry Sheppard

August 25, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Caroline Lund was for many years a leader of the US Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and for some years of the Fourth International. She and I resigned from the SWP in 1988.

In 1992 she got a job at an automobile factory in Freemont, California, called New United Motors, Inc. (NUMMI). She became an activist in the plant and the United Auto Workers locally and nationally. In 1998, she began to publish a plant newsletter, The Barking Dog.

United States: ‘Right to farm’ scam -- third wave corporatocracy

By Don Fitz

August 21, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When Monsanto’s home state of Missouri passed the “Right to Farm” on August 5, 2014, the third noose of corporate control tightened around the neck of the United States. Unlike the first two steps of corporate domination of public life, this was a constitutional amendment that would block the state legislature or voters from passing future laws for environmental protection, animal welfare or labeling of contaminated food. This third wave corporatocracy could well spread across US and globally as it becomes a new form of mass disenfranchisement.

United States: Seattle socialist wins 22% in primary poll

Jess and WFSE activists (personal capacity)

Jess Spear (fifth from left) and supporters.

US Socialist Alternative candidate Jess Spear has won more than 20% of the vote in the August 5 primary election, against Frank Chopp, a 20-year Democrat incumbent in the Washington State parliament and speaker of the house. The actual general election for the seat will take place in November 2014. The campaign builds on the victory of Kshama Sawant, who won a position on the Seattle city council. This letter and report was sent to  supporters of Spear.

* * *

August 8, 2014 -- Vote Jess Spear, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Every one of you should be proud of what we accomplished in our primary election campaign. In the first count of votes on election night we had won 19% against the most powerful legislator in the state, and as the late votes are counted we will likely end up with over 20%. In fact so far Jess has received 22.16% of the late votes, with more to be counted.

Tariq Ali: The US global empire (video)

July 29, 2014 -- TeleSUR -- Tariq Ali examines the United States' drive to create and maintain its global empire.

United States: Working-class and left electoral politics back on the radar?

Click for more on left electoral politics and for more articles by Dan La Botz.

By Dan La Botz

July 2014 -- New Politics -- The US political system, so highly polarised between conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats, has experienced in the last year some interesting changes on the left-hand margin of the national political scene.

From Bill de Blasio’s victory in the mayoral election in New York City, to Kshama Sawant’s winning of a city council seat in Seattle, from the late Chokwe Lumumba’s popularly based campaign in Jackson, Mississippi, to self-described socialist Bernie Sanders’ talk of a run for the presidency, something new appears to be happening.

Independent politics and socialist party campaigns, so long marginal to US political life and from discussion in the media, seem to be back on the radar again. This is all the more remarkable given our terrible election laws that make it so difficult in so many states to get parties and candidates on the ballot.

South Africa: James Kilgore on 'returning to where the heart is'

James Kilgore.
[Editorial note: This essay was the winner of the Daniel Singer Prize for 2013. Kilgore lived in South Africa from 1991-2002. During that time he was a fugitive from US justice -- arising from activities as a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army -- living under the pseudonym “John Pape”. He worked as an educator and researcher for trade unions and social movements. In 2002 he was arrested in Cape Town, then extradited to the United States where he served six and a half years in prison. Following his release he has campaigned for prison reform and has written a number of novels. In July 2012 he returned to South Africa for the first time since his arrest. Here he presents his reflections on the journey.]

By James Kilgore

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