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United States

United States: Minnesota’s communist mayor

By Pamela A. Brunfelt

At a pregnant moment in time, a young Swede-Finn from a small town in the heart of Minnesota’s Cuyuna Iron Range made history. When Karl Emil Nygard was elected mayor of Crosby on December 6, 1932, he became the first Communist mayor in the United States. His triumph was no accident. It was the culmination of years of radical activity on the iron range.

United States: Far right and Republicans attempt roll back of constitutional equal rights

Former enslaved African Americans vote in New Orleans, 1867, during the "Radical Reconstruction" period.

By Malik Miah

May 25, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The “Reconstruction amendments” — the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the United States constitution — are being targeted in many of the far-right “Tea Party” and Republican campaigns against the rights of immigrants and women, marriage equality and gay rights, and voting rights for African Americans and other minority ethnic groups.

The racist tinge of many of these attacks, whether openly stated or implied, is obvious – but this does not mean that racism is more prevalent now than in the past. Rather, the smear campaign against President Barack Obama’s mixed background and dark skin is calculated to appeal to the most extreme backward elements of the Republican Party.

Message from SYRIZA to Chicago anti-NATO protests + photos, videos: massive, conscious, determined

Demonstrators defy Chicago police during anti-NATO protest march in Chicago, May 19, 2012.

By Antonis Davanellos and Sotiris Martalis, members of the coordinating secretariat of SYRIZA

May 20, 2012

Dear comrades, dear brothers and sisters of the anti-war movement

We salute your mobilisations against the NATO Summit [in Chicago] and we send you our solidarity from Greece.

We don’t need to say much about the reasons to raise our voices against NATO. Millions of people are familiar with its record or crimes over the last years in the Balkans, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya to name just a few.

And if we look further back, NATO has provided nothing but wars, dictatorships and terror around the globe, from the day it was founded, and during all the years of its existence.

Who or what killed the US SWP?

Barry Sheppard (right, holding banner pole with Sylvia Weinstein) at an anti-war march in New York in 1966.
The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

Review by Peter Boyle

Peter Camejo: Against sectarianism -- the evolution of the Socialist Workers Party, 1978-1983

AGAINST SECTARIANISM

The Evolution of the Socialist Workers Party 1978-1983

by Pedro (Peter) Camejo

During the years 1978-1983, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of the United States has been making sharp shifts in its policies, political positions, methods of work and internal norms. These shifts reflect an effort by the leadership of the SWP to develop an orientation in the post anti-Vietnam war movement period. Some important steps forward have been taken by the SWP. Two important shifts, which reflect fundamentally positive steps, have been the decision to colonize industry and to recognize the revolutionary proletarian character of the Cuban Communist Party, the FSLN in Nicaragua, the FMLN in El Salvador and the New Jewel Movement in Grenada.

Along with these positive steps, however, there has been a hardening of increasingly sectarian positions which threaten to undermine the positive aspects of the two points mentioned above. This document is a review of the increasingly sectarian positions developed by the SWP in the last five years. Why this is happening is beyond the scope of this document, although it is clearly related to the years of isolation from the broader workers' movement. The development of hardened sectarian political views has occurred quite frequently in groups which have developed within the world Trotskyist current. While the causes of the sectarianism of the SWP are undoubtedly related to these broader questions, this document takes up each political question at its face value, independent of broader judgments.

USA: 'Capitalism or Common Sense?' An Occupy Wall Street Class War Camp pamphlet

At the request of the author, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is happy to make available a new pamphlet produced by radical Occupy activists in United States, in the interests of the advancing discussion in the movement. The pamphlet can be downloaded free HERE (in PDF) or you can read it on screen below.

* * *

For more on the #Occupy movement, click here.

By Pham Binh

April 18, 2012

Occupy!

Who would’ve imagined the word “occupy” would inspire millions to take direct action and stand up for the 99% here in America after brutal occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine?

Now there’s Occupy Pakistan and even Occupy Nigeria.

Occupy is more than a movement, less than a revolution, and long overdue. Occupy isn’t about ideology, it’s about the 99%, hence why pacifists and insurrectionists, anti-capitalist anarchists/socialists and pro-capitalist libertarians, liberal Democrats and Ron Paul Republicans, vegans and omnivores have come together despite our differences.

Paul Le Blanc: Revolutionary organisation and the ‘Occupy moment’

Occupy Pittsburgh, October 15, 2011.

[For more discussion on revolutionary organisation, click HERE. Articles on left unity can be found HERE. The Occupy movement is discussed HERE.]

By Paul Le Blanc

February 16, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Occupy movement has been having a profound impact on the socialist left in the United States. I want to share some information on this, focusing on my own experience, and relate it to broader issues of Marxism and organisation that I have been engaged with for some time.

United States: Another socialist left is possible -- a reply to Paul D’Amato

[Click HERE to follow the entire debate on Tony Cliff's Lenin. For more discussion on revolutionary organisation, click HERE. Articles on left unity can be found HERE.]

By Pham Binh

February 10, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The first response to my “Occupy and the tasks of socialists” piece to be written by a leading member of an US socialist organisation is emblematic of what is wrong with the US socialist left.

I am referring to “The mangling of Tony Cliff”, written by Paul D’Amato, International Socialist Organization (ISO) member and managing editor of the International Socialist Review. He responds to my Tasks piece in his reply to a book review I did, writing:

United States: Who speaks for the 99%?

"It was decisive action and mass defiance – ultimately forcing the use of federal troops -- that ended Jim Crow legal segregation... Fundamental and radical change, as history shows, comes by mass direct action and popular outrage. Martin Luther King marched and demanded equal rights under Republican and Democratic presidents."

By Malik Miah

February 8, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Against the Current-- The bitter truth about US politics is that neither of the ruling-class parties speaks for the working class or poor. The Democratic Party’s President Barack Obama likes to talk about the “middle class” and how he stands up for them, but he rarely mentions that poverty disproportionately hits African Americans and Latinos. While he personally supports social programs for the working poor, his proposed budgets would reduce funding for these programs.

Dan La Botz on Occupy: 'The biggest social movement in 40 years'

For more on Occupy Wall Street, click HERE.

Dan La Botz speaking about what theUS  Occupy movement has accomplished, the Democrats and the role of the left. He was addressing the Open University of the Left on January 28, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.

[Dan La Botz is a teacher, writer and activist involved in Occupy Cincinnati. In 2010, Dan La Botz stood as the Socialist Party (USA) candidate for the US Senate in Ohio.]

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Globalisation, capitalism and China

Workers at the Foxconn (the Taiwanese multinational corporation owned) factory located in China in which many Apple products are assembled.

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

January 24, 2012 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- A January 22, 2012 New York Times story, "The iEconomy: How US Lost Out on iPhone Work", has been getting a lot of coverage. The article makes clear that Apple and other major multinational corporations have moved production to China not only to take advantage of low wages but also to exploit a labour environment that gives maximum flexibility.

The following quote gives a flavour for what attracts Apple to China:

Mike Marqusee on Occupy in 2012: 'Mass action has returned'

Occupy the London Stock Exchange.

By Mike Marqusee

January 23, 2012 -- Red Pepper (February-March 2012) via Mikemarqusee.com -- 2011 has been hailed in the media as a year of “protest” in the abstract, but it’s been more challenging and concrete than that. In defiance of received political wisdom, mass action in the streets returned with undeniable impact. Contests over space and the public domain became vehicles for the assertion of radical alternatives, which thereby forced their way into a discussion long restricted to a narrow consensus.

In Europe and North America, this democratic insurgency sought to free democracy itself from the straitjacket imposed by neoliberalism, which has deepened the historic tendency of capitalism to confine “politics” to the non-economic realm. Raising the banner of the 99%, the Occupy movement (with associated developments) broke through 30 years of neoliberal ideological hegemony to make the system itself – and the interests that drive it – the subject of debate. As a result, perceptions of the possible have been redefined. Horizons broadened. We do not have to be slaves of the financial sector, sacrificial victims to appease angry fiscal gods. Whatever else, this systemic challenge means the struggles of the coming years will be fought out on different terrain.

Demands

Martin Luther King Day: The gulf between promise and fulfillment

[For more on Martin Luther King, click HERE.]

By Billy Wharton

January 16, 2012 -- Socialist Webzine, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- More than 40 years since the death of Martin Luther King Jr., his significance remains an uneasy battleground between those wishing to sanitise his legacy and those seeking to draw inspiration from his radical deeds and words.

United States: Labor Notes Conference, Chicago, May 4-6, 2012

Labor Notes Conference 2012

Labor Notes conferences are the biggest gatherings of grassroots union activists, worker center leaders,

Road maps, dead ends and the search for fresh ground -- How can we build the socialist movement in the 21st century?

[For more discussion on how socialists organise, click HERE.]

By Dan DiMaggio

December 2010 -- Cultural Logic, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Dan DiMaggio's permission -- For the past seven-plus years I have devoted much of my life to effort to build a socialist movement in the United States. As a member of one of the many tiny socialist groups on the US left, I have organised dozens of anti-war, labour solidarity, immigrant rights and other rallies and campaigns. I have toured the country to speak at college campuses about socialism. I have set up numerous study groups and conferences and written and edited hundreds of articles for socialist publications. Most people might say, “Dan, you’re crazy if you think that socialism can be achieved in a country like the United States!” But despite the challenges, I hope to continue doing this for the next 50 or so years.

Anniversary of the 1937 US sit-down strike wave: Remembering another Occupy movement

Sit-in strikers at General Motors' Fisher No. 1 plant.

By Don Fitz

[See also With Babies & Banners, the classic 1977 documentary about the 1936-37 Flint sit-down strike, and the role of women in it.]

January 3, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The year 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the great sit-down strike wave of 1937. It also begins the second year of the Occupy movement, which has more than a few similarities to the time when hundreds of thousands of Americans occupied their workplaces.

The first recorded sit-down strike in the US was actually in 1906 among General Electric workers of Schenectady, New York. When three organisers for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) were fired, 3000 of their fellow workers sat down and stopped production.

By the 1930s, the IWW was on the wane, but many of its organisers were active and workers across the US had seen its tactics first hand.

United States: 'With Babies & Banners' -- 75 years since the 44-day Flint sit-down strike

To view With Babies & Banners go to http://links.org.au/node/2681.

December 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Flint-based filmmaker Michael Moore has described the 1936 Flint sit-down strike as the "first Occupy" movement. Whether this is strictly accurate or not, the 1936-37 occupation/strike was a ground-breaking development in the US labour movement. To mark this anniversary, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  is making available the classic 1977 documentary on the strike and the role of women in it, With Babies & Banners (via the link at the top of this article, or click here).

As Moore recounts, "On this day, December 30th, in 1936 -- 75 years ago today -- hundreds of workers at the General Motors (GM) factories in Flint, Michigan, took over the facilities and occupied them for 44 days. My uncle was one of them. The workers couldn't take the abuse from the corporation any longer. Their working conditions, the slave wages, no vacation, no health care, no overtime -- it was do as you're told or get tossed onto the curb.

United States: Occupy wake-up call caps remarkable year

Trade unionists join Occupy Wall Street.

[For more on the #Occupy movement, click here.]

By Jane Slaughter

December 30, 2011 -- Labor Notes -- It’s been an exhilarating year. Crowds of people finally moved into resistance after decades of misrule.

The year began with Egypt, moved quickly to the snowy streets of Wisconsin, and re-erupted in August with Verizon workers out on strike and longshore unionists in Washington state dumping scab grain onto railroad tracks.

What no one could have predicted was that a relatively small number of young people at Occupy Wall Street would touch off a wave of imitators across the country, from Detroit to Abilene.

November’s electoral victory in Ohio, where Governor John Kasich’s anti-union bill went down to sound defeat, capped off a remarkable year for US workers.

United States: #Occupy activists and the Democratic Party -- a debate

For more on the #Occupy movement, click here.

By Dave Duhalde and Dan La Botz

December 4, 2011 -- Against the Current -- Below is a debate between David Duhalde of the Democratic Socialists of America and Dan La Botz of Solidarity that was first published on the website Talking Union.

Where is the beef? An open letter to Dan La Botz on DSA and the Democrats

Dear Dan,

Occupy and the tasks of socialists

"Out of clouds of pepper spray and phalanxes of riot cops a new generation of revolutionaries is being forged, and it would be a shame if the Peter Camejos, Max Elbaums, Angela Davises, Dave Clines and Huey Newtons of this generation end up in separate “competing” socialist groups ... Now is the time to begin seriously discussing the prospect of regroupment, of liquidating outdated boundaries we have inherited, of finding ways to work closely together for our common ends. "

For more on the #Occupy movement, click here.

By Pham Binh

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