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United States: ISO conference backs red-green alliances, rethinks feminism

 There were 1450 registered participants at the Socialism 2014 conference. Photo by Peter Boyle.

By Peter Boyle, Chicago

July 15, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier, shorter version of this article appeared in Green Left Weekly -- New red-green electoral alliances, a turn to ecosocialism and a deepening of the US International Socialist Organization's rethink on feminism were key features of its well-attended Socialism 2014 conference held June 26-29 in Chicago.

The gap between rich and poor in the US is large and growing. It has sparked a popular campaign for a minimum wage of US$15 an hour for low-paid workers, and in defence of jobs of teachers and other social service providers.

A growing number of trade union leaders are running as part of left and independent election tickets, just as many endorsed the successful Seattle's council campaign of socialist Kshama Sawant.

International assessments and rethinks

United States: Breaking out of the two-party (ballot) box

By Jen Roesch

June 24, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (US) -- Nearly six years into Barack Obama's neoliberal presidency, there are growing signs of discontent within the Democrats' traditional voting base. While both of Obama's electoral wins can be attributed to the turnout of young, female, Black, Latino/a and working-class voters, these are precisely the groups that have most suffered from the economic crisis and his administration's commitment to austerity. This is part of the reason why, for the first time since 2000, there is a space opening up in mainstream politics to the left of the Democratic Party.

In Seattle, socialist Kshama Sawant's campaign for the city council was able to gain support from constituencies, including some unions, that would normally support the Democratic Party. In Lorain County, Ohio, union activists angered by their local DemocraticParty mayor and city council broke ranks and ran their own independent slate of two dozen labour candidates--nearly all of whom won. This represents a flexing of labour muscle in the face of Democratic Party betrayal, rather than a firm break, but it points to the potential working-class audience for an independent political alternative.

United States: Chicago Socialist Movement to challenge big-business councillor

For more on socialists in municipal councils, click HERE.

By the Chicago Socialist Movement

May 2, 2014 -- Chicago Socialist Movement -- We're proud to announce the candidacy of one of Chicago’s most well-known and respected community activists, who is challenging one of Chicago’s most politically connected and unaccountable aldermen for a seat on the city council.

The race pits Jorge Mújica -- an award-winning journalist and long-standing activist for labour and immigrant rights -- against one of the city’s most powerful aldermen, the 25th Ward’s Danny Solis, who has drawn the ire of local residents for supporting school privatisation, corporate pinstripe patronage and developer deals that are driving up rents and displacement in the heavily immigrant and working-class ward.

Campaign volunteers include veterans of a host of independent anti-machine candidacies dating back to Harold Washington's historic race for mayor -- and in this race, volunteers are directly challenging the Democratic Party political machine by running Mújica as an openly socialist candidate, with the support of progressives who include Seattle's recently elected socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant.

Check out our press release below -- and join us!

United States: Kshama Sawant -- 'Not enough to boo Democrats, we have to pose a real challenge'

Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant's election campaign and those of other socialists around the world at the municipal level.

April 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --  Kshama Sawant spoke on labour and independent politics at the 2014 Labor Notes convention, April 4-6, in Chicago. Sawant was elected as a socialist to the Seattle City Council in November 2013. She is an adjunct professor of Seattle Community College and a member of American Federation of Teachers 1789.

Production by the Labor Video Project http://www.laborvideo.org.

Australia: 'Zoe's law' prepares ground for US-style attacks on women's right to choose

By Pat Brewer

April 8, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The New South Wales (NSW) parliament is due to debate the final passage of the anti-woman legislation known as “Zoe’s law” [Crimes Amendment (Zoe's Law) Bill 2013]. Originally introduced by the far-right Christian Democratic Party’s Fred Nile in the upper house (Legislative Council) and later taken up by Liberal Party MP Chris Spence in the lower house (Legislative Assembly), where it has already passed, it has yet to be voted on by the Legislative Council. As yet it has not been scheduled for a vote but it is likely to pass given the support it has among many members from both major parties, the Liberal Party and the Australian Labor Party.

The life of African-American socialist Hubert Harrison: a discussion with Jeffrey B. Perry

Doug Enaa Greene in discussion with historian Jeffrey B. Perry (above).

February 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Hubert Harrison (1883-1927) was an immensely skilled writer, orator, educator, critic and political activist who, more than any other political leader of his era, combined class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness into a coherent political radicalism.

The St. Croix, Virgin Islands-born and Harlem-based Harrison profoundly influenced "New Negro" militants, including A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and his synthesis of class and race issues is a key unifying link between the two great trends of the African American liberation movement: the labour and civil rights-based work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the race and nationalist work associated with Malcolm X.

Harrison played unique, signal roles in the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the New Negro/Garvey) movement of his era. He was the foremost Black organiser, agitator and theoretician of the Socialist Party of New York, the founder of the "New Negro" movement, the editor of the Negro World and the principal radical influence on the Garvey movement.

'We shall overcome': Democracy Now! remembers folk icon, activist Pete Seeger

January 28, 2014 -- Democracy Now! -- Legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died January 27, 2014, at the age of 94. For nearly seven decades, Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern North American folk music movement.

We air highlights of two appearances by Seeger on Democracy Now!, including one of his last television interviews recorded just four months ago. Interspersed in the interviews, Seeger sings some of his classic songs, "We Shall Overcome," "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone."

He also talks about what has been described as his “defiant optimism.” "Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That’s what [the album] 'Seeds' is all about," Seeger said. "And there’s a wonderful parable in the New Testament: The sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousandfold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of."

United States: Victory in Seattle inspires Chicago Socialist Campaign

Nearly 100 people met at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22 for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign. Photo by Isaac Silver.

By Andrew Mortazavi

January 24, 2014 -- In These Times -- If a socialist can win an election in Seattle, why not Chicago? That was the spirit at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22, where close to 100 Chicagoans gathered for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign.

Drawing on the example of Seattle’s Kshama Sawant—who in November became the first socialist in recent memory elected to a city council—the campaign seeks to run a socialist candidate for alderman in Chicago’s 2015 city council race. Activists also plan to use the electoral effort to amplify the demands of popular movements in Chicago, such as the call for a $15 minimum wage.

Martin Luther King Jr’s radicalism muted by MLK archives' corporate sponsors

Photo by Jim Hinton, Norma Rogers/Carnegie Hall Archives.

By Raj Patel

January 20, 2014 -- Rajpatel.org, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Raj Patel's permission -- This Martin Luther King day, why not celebrate by reading one of MLK’s last speeches, the one delivered at Carnegie Hall on February 23, 1968, to fête the 100th anniversary of the birth of W.E.B. Du Bois?

Well, you can’t.

Not, at least, if you go to the MLK archive (sponsors: JPMorgan Chase & Co.). I wrote to them earlier this week, pointing out that in their million document collection of speeches, letters and pamphlets, they had omitted Dr King’s encomium to the great W.E.B. DuBois. Carnegie Hall recorded the event, and posts a picture (above) celebrating the then-Nobel Laureate’s oratory.

The archives have yet to reply.

United States: Chicago Teachers Union votes for independent political and electoral activity

Chicago Teachers Union members during their strike against Democratic Party mayor Rahm Emanuel's assault on public schools.

By Marilena Marchetti

January 14, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- The Chicago Teachers Union wants to shake up the city and state political establishment. In a sweeping majority vote, representatives of the union's 23,000 members passed a resolution to launch an independent political organisation (IPO). The goal of the initiative is to unite progressive groups, non-profit organisations and trade unions around political campaigns that have the potential to sustain social movements and activism, rather than empowering Democratic Party candidates who have turned their back on teachers and public education.

The resolution concludes:

RESOLVED that the Chicago Teachers Union, along with key allies in the progressive labour movement and among progressive community organisations will launch an independent political organisation (IPO) that is capable of leading strong electoral and legislative campaigns to benefit working families, our active and retired members, and our communities, and be it further

Inequality will be the issue for 2014

greed

By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand)

January 14, 2014 -- The Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of the author -- Everyone from the Pope Francis to US President Barack Obama is bemoaning the effect that inequality is having on the world today. It is even being blamed for the depth of the economic recession and the weakness of the current recovery because it is claimed that poorer people spend a larger portion of their income than the rich who save more and thus more equal income would help revitalise the economy.

United States: Socialist councillor Kshama Sawant's inauguration speech

Democracy Now! interviewed Kshama Sawant on January 6, 2014, prior to her inauguration.

Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant's election campaign and those of other socialists at the municipal level.

By Kshama Sawant, Seattle

January 6, 2014 -- Vote Sawant

My brothers and sisters,

Thank you for your presence here today.

This city has made glittering fortunes for the super wealthy and for the major corporations that dominate Seattle’s landscape. At the same time, the lives of working people, the unemployed and the poor grow more difficult by the day. The cost of housing skyrockets, and education and healthcare become inaccessible.

This is not unique to Seattle. Shamefully, in this, the richest country in human history, 50 million of our people – one in six – live in poverty. Around the world, billions do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation and children die every day from malnutrition.

United States: How socialist Kshama Sawant defeated her capitalist opponent

Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant's election campaign and those of other socialists.

January 5, 2014 -- Black Sheep Radio -- Just a few weeks after Kshama Sawant was victorious running as a socialist for the Seattle City Council, and on the eve of her inauguration on January 6, 2014, we interviewed Anh Tran, Sawant’s assistant for the campaign. Tran also served as the volunteer coordinator for Sawant when she ran for the Washington State Legislature in 2012, so talking to Tran we were able to get a sense of the wider arc of the Seattle election.

United States: In 2013, workers tried new angles and alliances

North Carolinians mobilised against an anti-worker (and anti-woman, anti-civil rights) legislative assault by bringing thousands of protesters to the state capitol every week for “Moral Mondays”, with close to a thousand arrests. Photo by Ajamu Dillahunt.

By Jenny Brown

December 30, 2013 -- Labor Notes -- Lean meanness stalked workplaces. The political and economic outlook continued dismal. But the year was marked by workers trying new things and setting higher standards, for their employers, their unions, and—in the case of low-wage workers—their pay.

Unemployment ticked down slightly, but the jobs created paid worse than ever. Mainstream media reported with amazement that jobs that once paid the bills, from bank teller to university instructor, now require food stamps and Medicaid to supplement the wages of those who work every day.

California Walmart worker Anthony Goytia spoke for many when he said it’s no longer pay cheque to pay cheque for him and his co-workers, but payday loan to payday loan.

United States: The electoral opening for the left

Kshama Sawant.

By Jason Netek, Chicago

December 16, 2013 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- There is a lot of debate among socialists in the United States about just how to engage in this country's rigged electoral game, if at all.

In a time when the revolutionary left is numerically small, some socialist groupings have made a fetish out of participating in elections, local and national, in attempts to realise their ambitions of becoming the party of the US working class all by themselves. Others have made a fetish out of not engaging in any kind of electoral work for lack of a viable mass workers' party or else as a permanent boycott of the objectively pro-capitalist electoral system in the United States.

Barry Sheppard: US socialist wins Seattle race in political shake-up

By Barry Sheppard

November 21, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Kshama Sawant, an openly declared socialist, was elected to the city council in a major United States city, Seattle, in November’s ballot.

You need to go back to the first half of the 20th century to find anything similar in the US.

The Indian-born Sawant ran as an activist. She first drew attention as part of the Occupy Seattle protests that included taking over a downtown park and a junior collage campus in 2011.

Occupy has faded as an organised movement, but many of those inspired by it have organised on other fronts. These include opposition to foreclosures, support for strikes and demonstrations by fast food workers, and opposition to coal trains coming through the Seattle area for Asian export.

Activist councillor

Sawant has been in the midst of these actions. It was activists from such struggles who formed the backbone of her campaign.

A few days after her victory in the tight race was confirmed, the new city council member stood with Boeing workers rallying against the company. Boeing’s International Association of Machinists workers had voted down a concession’s contract by a large majority.

United States: Seattle socialist Kshama Sawant defeats Democrat incumbent

KEXP Interview with Kshama Sawant.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal congratulates Kshama Sawant and US Socialist Alternative on their important and inspiring success in the Seattle City Council election.

* * *

November 15, 2013, Seattle, Washington -- Vote Sawant -- Today’s King County elections ballot count saw the Socialist Alternative candidate for Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant, pulling further ahead of 16-year Democratic Party incumbent, Richard Conlin. The socialist candidate has now won 88,222 votes compared to Conlin’s 86,582. After today’s count was released, Richard Conlin announced he was conceding the race.

[Washington state votes by mail, and a majority of ballots typically come in after election day and will be counted until November 26 as long as they are postmarked November 5 or earlier.]

Global wealth inequality: top 1% own 41%; top 10% own 86%; bottom half own just 1%

By Michael Roberts

October 10, 2013 --  Michael Roberts' Blog -- Just 8.4% of all the 5 billion adults in the world own 83.4% of all household wealth (that’s property and financial assets, like stocks, shares and cash in the bank). About 393 million people have net worth (that’s wealth after all debt is accounted for) of over $100,000, that’s 10% own 86% of all household wealth!

But $100,000 may not seem that much, if you own a house in any G7 country without any mortgage. So many millions in the UK or the US are in the top 10% of global wealth holders. This shows just how little two-thirds of adults in the world have – under $10,000 of net wealth each and billions have nothing at all.

This is not annual income but just wealth – in other words, 3.2 billion adults own virtually nothing at all. At the other end of the spectrum, just 32 million people own $98 trillion in wealth or 41% of all household wealth or more than $1 million each. And just 98,700 people with "ultra-high net worth" have more than $50 million each and of these 33,900 are worth over $100 million each.  Half of these super-rich live in the US.

Five years after the economic meltdown: Riches for some, poverty for the rest

Last Man Standing and heavyweight champion of the world

Last man standing.

By Rupen Savoulian

October 5, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Antipodean Atheist -- Five years ago, in September 2008, the giant investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, filing for bankruptcy. This was the largest, but not the only, banking and investment firm to go under in that year, signalling the beginning of the ongoing capitalist economic crisis. Bear Sterns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, IndyMac and a host of financial institutions went bust, were taken over by the US federal government (yes, in the United States where private corporations are venerated, banks were nationalised) and returned to private ownership or continued in different forms.

Extreme weather, more extreme greenhouse gas emissions beckon urgent activism

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 28, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The northern hemisphere summer has just peaked and though the torrid heat is now ebbing, it is evident the climate crisis is far more severe than most scientists had anticipated. The latest report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a notoriously conservative research agency – will be debated in Stockholm next month, but no one can deny its projections: “widespread melting of land ice, extreme heat waves, difficulty growing food and massive changes in plant and animal life, probably including a wave of extinctions.”

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