COVID-19 and the Re-opening of Schools

The ORGANIZER WEEKLY — Issue No. 7 (Aug. 21)

IN THIS ISSUE:

• Editorial: COVID-19 and the Re-opening of Schools

• Voices for Independent Working-Class Politics:

  • E.J. Esperanza
  • Nnamdi Lumumba
  • Alan Benjamin
  • Black Alliance for Peace
  • Teacher from San Diego
  • Connie White

• Socialist Organizer’s Stance on the 2020 Presidential Election

• “Corruption” — Editorial of Workers Tribune (France), Aug. 12

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COVID-19 and the Re-opening of Schools

Editorial

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 170,00 lives in the United States and triggered a major economic crisis. Recovery requires getting the spread of the virus under control. To do this, the federal government would need to enforce consistent public health measures that limit exposure, implement massive testing, and quickly mobilize enough resources to develop vaccines or effective treatments for the virus as soon as possible.

Obviously, the U.S. has not taken such measures. Instead, the Trump administration has pushed the responsibility of dealing with COVID-19 onto economically strapped state and local governments. Fearful that poor economic statistics will cost Trump re-election, the administration is pressuring schools to re-open so that more parents can return to work. This is with complete disregard for the safety of teachers, staff, students, and their families.

Trump and Education Secretary Betsy Devos continue to threaten to withhold funds to states whose governors who have vowed not to re-open prematurely. They praise those, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who insist on exclusively in-person learning, though, to their credit, several major Florida school districts have refused. Trump and Devos often make false claims about school safety, arguing that children are not likely to get sick or to spread the virus (false) and that children make up less than 1% of cases (actually at least 8%, which is approximately 250,000 cases thus far).

COVID-19 cases have spiked wherever schools and colleges have re-opened. In one Georgia county, 1,200 staff and students have been quarantined and two high schools closed after less than two weeks of being open for in-person instruction. Many other school districts report having had to close and return to online instruction as COVID-19 cases increased. Many universities are closing down, citing COVID 19 spikes related to dense living conditions or students’ failure to follow mask, gathering, and social distance guidelines. 

Ideally, children, youth, and adult students would be receiving in-person instruction. Online learning is a major hardship for all. Here are just some examples: the stress of teaching and supervising children while trying to work from home, childcare nightmares for parents with outside essential jobs, children cut off from support services and experiencing social delays, and the steep learning curve required to teach online — all with a disproportionate impact on lower-income and people-of-color communities. However, returning to school at this point only would result in more COVID-19 cases, with older teachers and vulnerable family members especially at risk of serious illness or death.

Teachers’ unions have fought hard against schools re-opening, engaging in protests and informational picket lines and, in many cases, threatening to strike. These efforts are increasingly successful, resulting in full physical closure in Los Angeles, Chicago, and most of the rest of the nation’s largest urban school districts. As New York City prepares to re-open in-person schooling, under pressure from Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, teachers are preparing to strike. “If these demands are not met and if school buildings open on Sept. 10,” said New York UFT President Michael Mulgrew, “the union is prepared to go to court and/or go on strike if we need to.” (NPR, Aug. 20)

As de Blasio’s and Cuomo’s position illustrates, opposition to teachers’ concerns comes not only from Republican Trump supporters, but from Democratic politicians, as well. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer stated, “If we don’t open up the schools, you’re going to hurt the economy significantly,” as if the resulting COVID-19 spikes would not add to the economic crisis. Although 80% of Californians live in areas where the latest state guidelines for COVID-19 prevent re-opening, the closure of California schools was not a given, and the guidelines are the result of pressure and protest.

If teachers and other workers had our own political party and could elect our own representatives accountable to us and not to corporate lobbyists, we wouldn’t be in this position. We could have taken action to rein in the virus as soon as it was discovered, perhaps even early enough to avoid the need for prolonged measures to limit exposure. We would do what it takes to protect children and vulnerable adults. We would not have to fight the federal, state, and local governments to win the right to avoid incurring the risk of contracting a potentially fatal illness at school or work.

In this election season, the focus is on the presidential race; a choice between a sociopathic wannabe dictator and a “neoliberal” warmonger who won’t even support Medicare for All. This is not a choice anyone should have to make. We must start efforts to build a new party now, focusing at the local level and building upward, so that we have a choice to vote for what we want and need, rather than what little we can we get.

We need to start now. Join us September 19 and 20 for the online conference of Labor and Community for an Independent Party. For more information about the conference, go to: https://tinyurl.com/y37usbgh.

To register for the conference, go to:

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEvcu2gqD0uGN0rcvUdae8EvdLYpfZUnhIx

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VOICES FOR INDEPENDENT WORKING-CLASS POLITICS

E.J. Esperanza (Immigrant Rights Activist)

(presentation to the Immigrant Rights panel of the April 25 Expanded Organizing Committee meeting of Labor and Community for an Independent Party / LCIP)

It’s with great enthusiasm that I join you all here today.

I join you as a removal defense attorney, yes, but first and foremost, as an undocumented lawyer fighting tooth and nail for our community.

As has been said, the problems facing working-class people have seldom been more dire, and seldom has the need for a truly independent working-class political party been more necessary.

Nowhere is this question more pressing than in the immigrant community. There is no question more important for us to properly address at this time.

As you know, immigration was the Trojan horse that Trump rode to the White House — under the sham of putting American workers first. It has been central to his first term. It’s been key to fomenting the reactionary forces of White Supremacy in this country — forces that have become reinvigorated under this administration.

No two ways about it: This administration’s attacks on immigrants have been ruthless. Every day, I witness what amounts to ethnic cleansing of the clients and families that I represent.

– From the administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy, where 5,500 children were separated from their parents, and where hundreds remain unaccounted for, as if they had evaporated into thin air.

– To the January 2019 Migrant Protection Protocols – better known as the Remain in Mexico Policy – where 60,000 asylum seekers (parents and children) are forced to live in crowded and dangerous camps along the border, exposed to violence, rape, and kidnapping, not to mention the raging COVID-19 pandemic. This policy was upheld shamelessly by the Supreme Court on March 11, 2020.

Other examples mount:

– The administration’s Muslim Ban, which the Supreme Court upheld in June 2018;

– The administration’s executive order (9/5/2017) rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – a program of which I am a beneficiary. This has left 800,000 undocumented youth in limbo and exposed to deportation. A case currently pending before the Supreme Court with a decision is expected any day now. [Note: On June 18, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration’s cancellation of DACA because of the method Trump used, leaving open the possibility of its rescission in the future. — The Editors]

– The administration’s policy a few days ago (4/23) halting most legal migration to the United States from all countries for 60 days under the pretext of protecting American workers from the swelling unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no question in the immigrant community about the real threat presented by the Trump administration. We know – we’ve spent every waking hour fighting it.

But more important, there is a growing awareness in the leadership of the immigrant rights movement that the Democrats are no “lesser evil.” This is an assessment borne out by experience and 15 years of struggle against Democrats and Republicans alike. It’s a perspective that any true working-class party must foster. It would be a missed opportunity not to heed these lessons from the immigrant rights movement.

First, we must be clear that the Trump administration did not create the deportation regime under which we are living today. Trump has enacted no new laws. His administration has merely enforced existing laws drafted and signed into law by the Clinton administration, in the infamous Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. These laws gave unprecedented power to the federal government to militarize the border, criminalize immigrants, and detain and deport families on a mass and unprecedented scale. We in the immigrant rights movement know that we must abolish these laws enacted by the Democratic Party.

Second, the immigrant rights movement knows all too well that the laws created by the Clinton administration were turned into an effective and efficient deportation regime by another Democrat – the Obama and Biden administration – during the Great Recession, as a means to discipline and divide the working class at precisely the same time that the Obama administration and the Democrats – who had control of both houses of Congress – were bailing out the banks in the largest swindle in American history.

The sophisticated machinery that leveraged for-profit detention centers and state-of-the-art surveillance technology was the work of the Obama and Biden administration, and their administration alone. Its aim has been to militarize the border and establish a deportation militia in the interior under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that could effectively leverage and commandeer every local law enforcement agency in the country, every database, to identify, to track, to detain, and to deport immigrants on a mass scale.

Obama and Biden deported nearly 3 million immigrants in eight years, deporting on average nearly 400,000 immigrants a year. In comparison, Trump has deported far fewer, and has yet to deport more than 260,000 immigrants in any given year.

The infamous detention of children at the border is also a policy that began under Obama and Biden, back in 2014, which received much less attention than Trump’s policy.

Trump inherited this machine.

Now Trump hasn’t reached the record numbers of deportations seen under Obama not because the Democratic Party has resisted in any meaningful or substantial way – on the contrary, every appropriations bill increasing funding for ICE and CBP, for private detention centers, and for militarizing the border has been approved by the Democrats, including in the House of Representatives, which the Democrats now control.

In fact, and notably, in the fight against Trump, the immigrant rights movement has increasingly come up against the Democrats, as they have failed to espouse the movement’s demands and pose any real resistance to Trump. This is a significant development. Let us remember that the immigrant rights movement was largely under the thumb of the Democrats during the Obama administration, and mass mobilizations against deportations were rare in comparison to what the movement has achieved under Trump.

The crisis exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic has only sharpened this opposition between immigrant activists and Democrats. As COVID-19 spreads into detention centers, hundreds of immigrants have gone on hunger strike across the country. From Northern California, Central California, Southern California, to Colorado, to Louisiana, an unprecedented wave of hunger strikes has swept the country, largely ignored by the media.

We also have secured important court injunctions recognizing that detention is a death sentence for immigrants under this pandemic, something that was tragically confirmed with the passing of Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility, the first COVID-19 death in ICE custody. Over 10,000 immigrants have secured releases due to this growing movement in the last several weeks. Detentions are at a 10-year low, down to 29,000 at the present moment. In comparison, there were nearly 50,000 immigrants in ICE custody at the peak of the Obama and Biden administrations.

During COVID-19, the immigrant rights movement has secured victories precisely by opposing and mobilizing independently of the Democrats in California, Colorado, Louisiana, Texas, and beyond.

Specifically, local struggles to close private detention centers have gained unprecedented victories under the COVID-19 pandemic, pitting Democrats in the pockets of private detention centers against an increasingly independent immigrant rights movement.

Places where the immigrant community had previously been unorganized – like the Central Valley in California, rural regions in Louisiana, Vermont, and Texas – have seen important battles taking on private detention centers and the Democrats alike.

In these localities, local Democrats have time and again sided with the Private Detention Centers, posing the question for immigrants to run their own candidates locally in a way never seen before. In rural places like McFarland, Bakersfield, and Adelanto in California, and Williamson County in Texas, the question of an independent working-class party has been urgently presented by the limitations of the Democratic politicians that sit in power locally. Just in McFarland two days ago, Latino Democrats sided with CORE CIVIC, a detention corporation, to expand an immigration jail by 350 percent after CORE CIVIC paid off the Democratic politicians. It’s in places like these where the conditions to run independent labor candidates are ripening.

So as we fight to liberate our people from detention centers, the question of independent working-class politics is posed to the immigrant rights movement during a Presidential Election where Biden represents no “lesser evil” to immigrants anywhere.

This independence is unprecedented and unheard of in any other movement today. No other movement is more ripe for independent working-class politics than the immigrant rights movement is today. Overcoming the NGO structures will be an obstacle, but not an insurmountable one

No effort to build an independent working-class party will be successful without tapping into the fight for immigrant rights and making this fight central to its formation, both in deed and words. Just like no working-class party will be successful without the Black community. I am encouraged by the Baltimore brothers and sisters, by Brother Clarence Thomas, joining this effort. The immigrant rights movement looks to the Black community. I look forward to working together more intently and joining in this fight for an independent working-class party. Let’s seize this opportunity.

Thank you.

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Nnamdi Lumumba (Co-convener of the Ujima People’s Progress Party)

The Black liberation movement has been at the cutting edge of the most radical movements for peace, social justice, and economic justice for all. Unfortunately, the Black movement has seen repeated sell-outs and hijackings of political movements by sectors of the white community.

Whether it was the women’s movement of the 1920s, which refused to include the demands of Black women; or voters’ rights laws; or the demands of the LBGTQ+ struggle; or other working-class struggles, the Black community has been repeatedly victim to alliances falling apart when our former white allies get their demands met.

It is because of this dubious history in the overall workers’ movement that African people have continued to fight for their self-determination and national liberation. We will not be relegated to an auxiliary role in the workers’ struggle against the bosses.

That is why we in the Ujima People’s Progress Party refuse to run our Black revolutionary progressive candidates on the Democratic Party slate.

There is a saying from our elders: “The tools of the slave-master cannot free the slave.” Because all political parties are instruments of class organization, we know that there are real limits to participating as Democrat candidates in terms of being able to advance working-class and Black interests in the real world.

The Democratic Party operatives are experts at co-opting progressive movements. Progressive movements have failed time and time again to “take over” the Democratic Party. Look at Bernie Sanders: He is the Pied Piper, trying to preserve and save the Democratic Party.

Sanders could have broken free of the Democratic Party and created a really progressive left movement capable of raising up working-class people. His policies are indeed progressive in the American political spectrum. But he refused to take this step because of his unwavering allegiance to Capital and to the Democratic Party.

We refuse to join the slave-master’s party, the party of imperialism, capitalism, colonialism, and death to humanity.

We refuse to unite with those in the labor and Black liberation movements who are calling for a vote for “liberal” capitalist candidate Joe Biden. We who believe in Black working-class independent political action see no path to building a successful movement through our support for an imperialist party presidential candidate.

What is needed is to forge instruments that will enable us to break out of the two-party system. This effort cannot be pushed off for another year or another election. We must join together today to build an alternative movement and process that can give rise to working-class campaigns that will challenge the ruling class’s grip on electoral politics.

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Alan Benjamin (Member, National Organizing Committee of Socialist Organizer)

[excerpts from opening statement to the August 1 Socialist Organizer Educational Conference]

This summer’s Socialist Organizer Educational Conference takes place at a time of great danger, but also great opportunity.

There is danger on the international front: New wars are on the horizon. This past week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China “the greatest threat of this time.” What began as U.S. economic sanctions and a tariff war against China is escalating with a U.S. imperialist war buildup in the South China Sea. The slightest U.S. provocation could set off an armed conflict.

Not to be outdone, the Democrats have denounced Trump from the right, claiming that Trump has been too soft on the Nicolás Maduro government in Venezuela. Democratic Party operatives have been calling loudly and repeatedly for a military coup and a U.S.-backed OAS military intervention in Venezuela to shore up a new “democratic” government.

Let us not forget that the Democrats under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the ones who funded and organized the military coup in Honduras and the military invasion of Libya, to name only a few examples of U.S. imperialist intervention. About the only foreign policy discussion that has taken place this election year has been over which of the two capitalist parties is most supportive of the Zionist Apartheid State of Israel, and which of the two parties is best at increasing the U.S. war budget — currently at about $750 billion.

There is also danger on the domestic front: The bipartisan coronavirus stimulus packages forked over hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street and Big Business. While the bosses line their pockets, workers face increasing hardships. Already workers and oppressed communities are being hit by wholesale attacks on their jobs, wages, benefits, housing, and more — all in the name of “economic recovery.” Unions are being summoned to join with the bosses and the government in making the cuts and concessions needed to pay back the loans to the banks and to roll back the deficit resulting from the 2020 corporate bailouts.

Let’s be clear: Whichever of the two corporate parties wins the presidential election in November, the assault on working people will only intensify. Workers will be made to shoulder the burden of the crisis. This is inevitable. The crisis of global capitalism, exposed for all to see during the COVID-19 pandemic, is such that there is no wiggle room for any kind of progressive “reforms” by the parties beholden to the private ownership of the means of production.

This is just one side of the story: The present situation is also full of opportunity for revolutionary socialists. While barbarism continues to rear its ugly head the world over, resistance to the capitalist onslaught has deepened. Millions of people, especially young people, have taken to the streets across the United States to denounce police terror and institutional racism. They are demanding real transformative change— not the cosmetic changes dear to the masters of co-optation in the Democratic Party. They have said, Enough Is Enough!

More than ever, the alternative facing humanity, as Rosa Luxemburg proclaimed, is “transition to socialism or regression into barbarism!”

Next February (2021) marks the 30th anniversary of Socialist Organizer and our publication, The Organizer. We will be holding more S.O. educationals like this one over the coming months with the aim of strengthening Socialist Organizer. We also will be launching a 30th anniversary Fund Drive to help us upgrade all our computer equipment and to help us get our message out more widely.

We invite you to support our new The Organizer Weekly newsletter and to join us. If you are interested in joining Socialist Organizer, please contact us immediately. We will invite you to join our ongoing Revolutionary Study Groups so that you can learn more about our political positions but also so that we can address whatever questions and concerns that you may have. Thank you.

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Statement by the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP)

(August 17, 2020)

Congress decided to go on vacation while millions of U.S. workers are in economic limbo and while the United States continues to engage in criminal activity, such as when it seized four Iranian oil tankers that were on their way to Venezuela last week.

Yet the focus of the corporate press was on one story: Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Amid this clear contradiction, we are not going to waste any space on the merits of Biden’s decision except to raise one question: For the people of the global South suffering because of U.S. sanctions, subversions, war and threats of war, will it matter who is sitting in the White House in January?

For the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP), both parties represent the interests of rapacious capital that have decided that force, coercion, lawlessness and war are the tools that must be deployed in order to hold on to the advantages they enjoy in the international order. For us, it doesn’t matter who sits in the White House in January because the criminality of the U.S. state will continue.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — representing the neoliberal, transnational wing of Capital—already have their marching orders.

The Obama-Biden administration oversaw U.S.-supported and/or -initiated coups in Brazil, Egypt, Honduras and Ukraine; intensified regime-change efforts in Iraq, Iran and Syria; attempted coups in Venezuela; the destruction of Libya; expanded drone warfare across northern Africa and western Asia; and a 1,900 percent increase in military activities in Africa through the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). If history is a guide, nothing will be different if Biden and Harris are in the White House.

Regardless of who is in office, the wars, inhumane sanctions, death and destruction in what Frantz Fanon referred to as the “zones of non-being” — those spaces occupied by the non-European peoples of the world—will continue.

But what we also continue is the resistance. BAP will not collaborate with either of the parties. As an alliance, we maintain our independence. Individual members can do as they like. We say “No Compromise, No Retreat: Defeat the War on African/Black People in the U.S. and Abroad” and liberate all the laboring and oppressed of the world.

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Letter from a Teacher in San Diego

Fact: Kamala Harris is the second African-American woman and first South Asian American to be a senator.

Fact: Kamala Harris tried to jail the (mostly poor Black and Latinx) parents of truant elementary schoolers.

Fact: Kamala Harris challenged a bill that would have required her office to investigate police shootings.

Fact: Kamala Harris co-sponsored a resolution in objection to UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned illegal Israeli settlements.

Fact: Kamala Harris tried to stop two incarcerated trans women from getting gender confirmation treatments prescribed by their doctors.

Fact: Kamala Harris let Steve Mnuchin (one of her campaign donors) off the hook for breaking foreclosure laws and profiting off the victims of predatory home lending.

Fact: Kamala Harris wouldn’t take a position on a proposition to reduce some low-level felonies to misdemeanors.

Fact: Kamala Harris gave speeches two years in a row at AIPAC’s policy conference (the annual gathering orchestrated by America’s premier lobby organization which ensures that the U.S. government supports unconditionally the State of Israel and passes legislation favorable to Israeli interests).

Fact: Kamala Harris opposed statewide standards regulating the use of body-worn cameras by police.

Fact: Kamala Harris tried to block the release of nonviolent second-strike offenders from overcrowded prisons because they’re a valuable labor pool.

Fact: Kamala Harris fought ardently to uphold wrongful convictions that involved egregious misconduct by fellow prosecutors, like false testimonies, suppression, and evidence tampering.

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Statement by Connie White

One of the major problems that I saw with the Labor Party in the 1990s is that it did not break with the Democratic Party. The Labor Party that we seek to build today must position itself in opposition to the Democratic Party, and it must participate in the electoral process. This should be a minimum strategy.

One of the reasons that I joined Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP) is because I believe that the Labor Party should be built from the ground up, not from the top down. I don’t believe it should start out running a presidential candidate, but I definitely think that a strategy for power must include running candidates for the House of Representatives. This should be a goal as we help to promote and build the Labor Party in the United States.

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Socialist Organizer’s Stance on the 2020 Presidential Election

On August 1, Socialist Organizer held its Summer 2020 Educational Conference. During the first conference session, which was devoted to the fight for independent working class politics today, one of the participants asked about Socialist Organizer’s assessment of the Green Party. He went on to recommend that S.O. endorse Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins in the November election. Here’s our position on (a) the November 2020 election and (b) the Green Party.

(a) No Vote for Biden or Trump!

As we have done over the past 30 years, Socialist Organizer is calling on our readers and supporters NOT to vote for either candidate of the capitalist class. We say: No Vote for Biden or Trump! Both are candidates of Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, and institutionalized racism.

This is what we wrote in The Organizer Weekly no. 4:

“It has taken far more than Trump and the Republicans to create the disaster we face today. Increasing income inequality, housing instability, a failed health-care system, efforts to defund and privatize public schools, gutting workers’ right to organize and worker safety protections, the diversion of over half the budget to imperialist military spending, and the white supremacist policies driving environmental racism, mass incarceration and immigrant detention, police brutality, and the ‘war on drugs’ — all of these predate the Trump administration. These policies are the result of bipartisan government action over generations and of the co-optation of labor and social justice movements into the Democratic Party.

“We can’t expect a respite, whichever of the two capitalist candidates wins the November election. Millions will hold their noses and vote for Biden, hoping against hope that something will change. But the crisis will only deepen. We must start now to build a genuine alternative so that we are not placed in this situation yet again. Few would dispute that the lesser of two evils is still evil. Time is running out. …”

(b) Our Position on the Green Party

Given the political void created by the labor officialdom’s continued refusal to break with the Democrats and run its own independent labor candidates for office, millions of people will vote for Biden in November. At the same time, given Biden’s corporate record, millions will refuse to vote for either Trump or Biden by abstaining (in 2016 the rate of abstention was 42%) — or by casting a protest vote for the Green Party (GP) nominee or other third-party candidates.

If Hawkins were an independent candidate rooted in the labor movement and campaigning — as a central focus of his candidacy — for the labor movement to break with the Democrats and build its own political party, a Labor Party, in alliance with the communities of the oppressed, we would consider seriously calling for a vote for Hawkins for president. The labor movement’s subordination to the Democratic Party is the number one obstacle, in our view, to forging the kind of fightback movement needed to defeat the capitalists’ assault on the working class.

But that is not the focus of the Hawkins campaign, however much we may agree — and we do — with most of the socialist planks of his campaign. In fact, only one of 45 platform points adopted by the GP in July 2020 is devoted to “labor” — and there is no mention of the need for the labor movement to break with the Democrats and build its own Labor-based party.

Hawkins — a longtime socialist and retired Teamster — is running as a candidate of the Green Party, which is not a working-class party; it is not a party built by and for the working class and oppressed communities. The GP, in fact, is more a confederation of disparate state parties that determine their own policies, independent of, and often in contradiction with, the policies of the national Green Party leadership.

The Green Party, moreover, is a member of Global Greens, a coordinating body of international Green parties. In many countries, the Greens have formed political and electoral alliances with overtly reactionary capitalist parties.

In Mexico, for example, the Partido Verde Ecologista, a Global Greens affiliate, forged — and has maintained — an electoral alliance with the right-wing Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), the party that signed the original NAFTA agreement that drove millions of Mexican peasants from their lands; smashed independent trade unions and labor rights; devastated the environment; and enacted “reforms” aimed at privatizing all public services and enterprises, including PEMEX (oil and gas). In 2012, the Partido Verde Ecologista called on workers to vote for PRI presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto.

Having said all this, we must affirm that Hawkins has the right to be on the ballot without being hounded in advance as a “spoiler” by so-called “progressives” within the Democratic Party.

On February 18, 2020, People’s World, the online publication of the Communist Party USA, published an Open Letter to the Green Party urging it to maintain a “safe state” strategy. The GP’s failure to heed this warning, the Open Letter insisted, could only help get Trump re-elected in November. The letter was signed, among others, by Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Norman Solomon, Leslie Cagan, Ron Daniels, and Bill Fletcher.

In the past, GP affiliates in numerous states implemented a “safe state” strategy — meaning they held back from providing active support to the GP presidential candidate in “contested states”; that is, states where the Democrats risked losing the election to the Republicans by a small margin.

The Hawkins campaign rejected the appeal to revert to a “safe state” strategy, noting that “the Democrats should go out and mobilize their own base.” The campaign noted further that “the Green Party is advancing solutions to a very broad audience that otherwise would not get raised.” 

GP state bodies, however, might be more susceptible to the pro-Democratic Party pressures from these self-described “progressives.”

Which Way Forward?

What is needed is a clean break with the twin parties of capitalism.

That is why, along with the Ujima People’s Progress Party in Baltimore, the Labor Fightback Network, and many others, Socialist Organizer is supporting the Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP) (https://lcipcampaign.org/). The time is now, not some time down the road, to lay the foundations — the building blocks — of a new, independent Labor-based party rooted in the unions and communities of the oppressed.

LCIP is committed to this effort by (1) building local coalitions between unions and groups representing Black and other oppressed communities that will develop independent candidates accountable to the coalitions’ platforms, and (2) building in our unions a wing to gain support for such coalitions. 

All too many leaders of the trade unions and organizations representing oppressed nationalities remain to this day tied at the hip to the Democratic Party — a party that implements the permanent war agenda of global capitalism. This relationship is the main obstacle to building working-class power and advancing the interests of the working class and all oppressed people.

LCIP is also committed to the effort to build independent Black political parties. Nnamdi Lumumba, convener of the Ujima People’s Progress Party, expressed well the articulation of the struggle for independent Black working-class politics and for a Labor-based party, stating:

“We need to organize people around their own class interests and their own interests as nationally oppressed people. Helping to break the active or even passive support to the two capitalist, imperialist and white supremacist parties has been a fundamental goal of our efforts as the Ujima People’s Progress Party, as we seek to build a Black workers-led electoral party.

“While we support a national labor party that recognizes both the shared and independent struggles of oppressed and exploited workers on the job and in their communities, we affirm that nationally oppressed people have to center the discussion and self-organization around their own specific oppression. … Having said that, we need to create a mass-based working-class party that says capitalism does not serve you, imperialism does not serve you, and racism does not serve you.”

To summarize our stance, we agree fully with ILWU Local 10 retiree Clarence Thomas, when he noted that now is the time to point the way forward for independent working-class political action. “We have to strike while the iron is hot.”


(For more information about the conference, go to lcipcampaign.org or write to baltimorefightback@gmail.com.)

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La Tribune des Travailleurs (Workers Tribune) Issue no. 251 – August 12, 2020 – Editorial

Corruption

By Daniel Gluckstein

Around the world, the carnage in Beirut has triggered a wave of solidarity with the Lebanese people and outrage against those in authority.

For their part, virtuous teachers of morality hastily convened a video-conference to call on the Lebanese leaders to show more “transparency”(Trump) and to promise that international aid “won’t fall into the hands of corruption”(Macron).

Corruption? An incredible story of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored for seven years in Beirut, part of a tangled web involving Panamanian companies, ships registered under the Moldavian flag, Russian owners living in Cyprus … and an absence of protective measures in a country that has suffered complete economic, social and political devastation. The result: hundreds of people killed and missing, thousands of people injured, and hundreds of thousands of people left homeless.

But isn’t the story of France – the world’s sixth biggest industrial power – just as outrageous, with more than 30,000 COVID-19 deaths, with a government that regularly issues more lies and implements more U-turns, failing to supply enough masks and testing kits (even today), a government whose instructions have led to the deaths of people “guilty” of being older than 68 years of age? [1] Isn’t it incredible to see that same [French] government, faced with an economic crisis, decide to have the National Assembly – which is under its complete control – approve a 460 billion euro credit supposedly to “save businesses”… by funding plans to cut hundreds of thousands of jobs?

It is easy for Macron to adopt a self-righteously moralizing tone over Beirut. But it is the whole capitalist system that is rotten to the core. What else can we say of a social order in which a pandemic generates hundreds of billions of euros in extra profits for the multinationals, while billions of human beings are plunged into unemployment, insecure work, poverty, sickness, hunger and destitution?

The Trumps and the Macrons, like all the mafia-style regimes around the world, are the loyal representatives of that rotting social system. They are representatives of a doomed social system that the working class throughout the world will finally sweep away, starting by defending its rights.

In France, this starts with uniting for a ban on layoffs and job cuts, a major demand in a democracy. The first right which society should guarantee is for each of its members to make a dignified living from their work, not the right of a corrupt thin layer – in New York, Paris, and around the world – to accumulate ever-increasing mountains of profit by every available means.

The protestors in Beirut chanted: “Get out! All of them, get out once and for all!” Yes, “Get out! All of them, get out once and for all!”, the Trumps and the Macrons and all those who link their destiny to defending the corrupt capitalist system.

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[1] Translator’s note: In an interview with daily newspaper Le Monde (29 July), Eric Ciotti, former ministerial adviser under the Sarkozy government and now the Rapporteur for the parliamentary committee of inquiry into COVID-19, was asked if a selection process had been applied to hospital admissions. He said: “There has been … a form of regulation which, without saying so, has denied hospital access to elderly people, and especially to EHPAD residents [EHPAD: public-sector retirement homes for elderly people in need of daily care]. … The chances of elderly people were reduced. Many of them could probably have been saved. That is serious.” This was the Workers Tribune commentary: “Eric Ciotti was careful not to say why this selection was applied: the cutting of hospital beds, the job cuts and the closure of hospital units and entire hospitals had been decided by the Sarkozy, Hollande and Macron governments.

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