T.O. Weekly 36: Afghanistan – Imperialism’s Criminal Responsibility /Trumka’s Legacy /Support S.O.’s Expansion Fund


• AFGHANISTAN: The Criminal Responsibility of Imperialism — Editorial

• Statement from Political Activists in Pakistan on the “End of the U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan”

• Letter from Labor and Democratic Rights Activists in Afghanistan

• OPEN FORUM: Labor and Antiwar Activists in the U.S. Speak Out on Afghanistan War and Its Outcome – presentation by The Editors

• Comments, in a personal capacity, by:


CLARENCE THOMAS – (Past President of ILWU Local 10)

DESIREE ROJAS – (President, Sacramento LCLAA, AFL-CIO)

JIM LAFFERTY – (Executive Director Emeritus, National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles)

KATHARINE HARER – (Co-VP & Organizer, AFT 1493.org)

HAITI LIBERTE – (weekly newspaper published in Brooklyn, N.Y.)

MICHAEL ZWEIG – (Former National Co-Convener, U.S. Labor Against the War)

SANDY EATON, RN – (Former Chair, Legislative Council, Nat’l Nurses United, AFL-CIO)

JULIAN KUNNIE – (First Nations Enforcement Agency; Free Mumia Movement; Black Alliance for Peace)

MICHAEL CARANO – (Teamster Local 348, retired)

CLIFF CONNER – (author of The Tragedy of American Science)

JOE LOMBARDO (and excerpts from UNAC statement)

JACK RASMUS – (Author, economist, labor activist)

RODGER SCOTT – (Past president of AFT 2121)

ALLAN FISHER – (Past Exec. Bd., AFT 2121)

HAL SUTTON – (retired member of the UAW)

• The Legacy of Richard Trumka (1949-2021): Two Critical Contributions to the Discussion – by The Editors

• Vermont AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen Speaks Out

• Why Did AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Diss Medicare for All Over the Labor Day Weekend? — by Sandy Eaton

• Support Our 30th Anniversary Expansion Drive and Join a Socialist Organizer Revolutionary Study Group! — by The Editors

• A Few of Socialist Organizer’s Accomplishments — by Millie Phillips

• Socialist Organizer: Our Revolutionary Continuity — by Mya Shone


Afghan villagers with children killed during a NATO airstrike in Kunar province on April 7, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

AFGHANISTAN: The Criminal Responsibility of Imperialism

In this issue of The Organizer Weekly Newsletter, we are making available to our readers two unpublished documents: (1) the point of view of working-class militants in Pakistan, and (2) a letter received from Kabul from working-class and democratic rights activists.

These testimonies confirm that it is U.S. imperialism which, 20 years after having driven the Taliban out of Kabul in 2001, has organized their return. This is because Joe Biden has other priorities, in particular the need to concentrate his military efforts around China.

For those who are surprised that after 20 years of its so-called “war on terror” the U.S. administration is sponsoring what were once called “terrorists,” it is worth refreshing their memory.

Recounting its active role in arming fundamentalist factions in Afghanistan, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, stated:

According to the official version of history, CIA assistance to the mujahideen began in 1980, that is, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the secret reality is quite different: it was on July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive on clandestine assistance to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And on that day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this assistance would lead to Soviet military intervention.” (Le Nouvel Observateur, January 15, 1998)

When he gave this interview in 1998, the Taliban were reigning terror in Kabul. Le Nouvel Observateur asked him: Does Mr. Brzezinski regret his actions?

The representative of U.S. imperialism answered:

Regret what? This secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap – and you want me to regret it? … What is more important in the history of the world? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire?”

Imperialism bears the main responsibility for the uninterrupted tragedy of the Afghan people for more than 40 years.

The workers of the world stand with the Afghan people. They have the right to demand from the imperialist governments, which bear this heavy responsibility, the unconditional open-door policy toward the refugees who are fleeing barbarism.  — The Editors


Taliban leaders following the seizure of Kabul

Statement from Political Activists in Pakistan on theEnd of the U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan”

[Note: We publish below excerpts from a contribution that we received from the Pakistani section of the Fourth International (OCRFI) on the situation in Afghanistan.]

Those in the West who think that the Taliban represent some form of anti-imperialist national liberation movement are completely mistaken. The Taliban is composed of the same tribal and reactionary counter-revolutionary elements that were set in motion against the Saur Revolution.[1]

Collectively called the Mujahideen they were in fact never a unified group. The Mujahideen was just a label given to seven different Jihadi organizations. These Mujahideen groups not only had certain religious and doctrinal differences but also were financially tied to different foreign and or neighboring powers. That is what accounts for the civil war after the fall of Dr. Najeeb’s government.

Hence, the conflict between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance does not reflect in any sense the conflict between national liberation and imperialism. Or between progressive and reactionary forces. They are both cut from the same cloth. In the Doha agreement [February 29, 2021], the Taliban and the U.S. came to the understanding that as long as the Taliban didn’t attack any vital U.S. interests in the region, the U.S. would withdraw from the country. In their first press conference since coming to power, the Taliban stated that they are open to foreign and U.S. investment in Afghanistan.

Another powerful factor behind the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan is the way in which the Pakistan military perceives its security challenges. The Pak military has always been of the view that the only major and serious existential threat to Pakistan comes from neighboring India. Since 1971, when East Pakistan became independent Bangladesh, that view has been strongly reinforced. Hence, since the very independence of Pakistan and especially since 1971, the Pakistan military has been positioning itself not only as the defender of Pakistan’s borders but even of its “ideological borders.” This overriding imperative has led to what progressives refer to as a “security state” in Pakistan.

The Pakistan military has always considered Afghanistan an area of strategic depth. Since the 1970s, they have been meddling in the internal affairs of Afghanistan to bring about a regime that would be “friendly to Pakistan” so that in the event of the “inevitable” war with India, the military would have an area of strategic retreat. This is why Islamic radicals began to receive support from the Pakistan government long before the Saur Revolution. The relationship between the Pakistan military and Islamic radicals in Afghanistan stretches back half a century.

That is why the victory of the Taliban is seen in Islamabad as the victory of pro-Pakistan forces in Afghanistan: The “pro-Indian Northern Alliance” has been defeated and the “pro-Pakistan Taliban” are victorious. For that reason alone, we cannot regard, and the world should not regard, the victory of the Taliban as the victory of any progressive national liberation movement. Taliban can, and most likely will, slip into the familiar role of regimes that are internally theocratic and reactionary and externally allied to the U.S. (much like Saudi Arabia).

For the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, this change implies that our struggle for a progressive future has been dealt another major blow. The victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan has not only emboldened the religious parties of Pakistan, it has also given hope to the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan that has waged a decade long destructive conflict inside Pakistan that has cost approximately 80,000 lives and millions displaced in massive military operations in FATA and other northern areas.

In the long run, however, only the progressive forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan can defeat these reactionaries. No amount of foreign aid, assistance, or occupation can contribute anything of any real significance in this uphill struggle. Quite the converse. Moreover, calls for the reoccupation of Afghanistan to ostensibly “save” the women and minorities are not only naive and misplaced but are ridiculous in the extreme. Enough damage has been done by such narratives that can only be regarded as imperialism in the guise of humanitarianism.

In conclusion, the image of desperate Afghan’s clinging to airplanes in the hopes of escaping the Taliban will forever be etched in the memories of the people of the region as the ignoble end of this occupation. And the way in which they dropped from the skies symbolizes the false hope that capitalist imperialism always creates but betrays.

The future of Afghanistan and Pakistan can only be determined by the people of our respective countries. We hope for your solidarity in that struggle. But it is our struggle in which history is on our side and victory is inevitable.


{1} The Saur Revolution (named for the Afghan calendar month during which it occurred) brought two centuries of rule by the Muhammadzai dynasty to a definitive end. On April 27-28, 1978, after mass protests, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) swept Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan from power. Daoud, a cousin of the former feudal king Mohammed Zahir Shah, himself had risen to power in a 1973 coup d’état with assistance from the PDPA, but Daoud then forced the PDPA out of the government with many of the PDPA leaders either assassinated or arrested.


Letter from Labor and Democratic Rights Activists in Afghanistan

(August 23, 2021)

The criminal Taliban have returned to political power in Afghanistan with the support of the capitalist states.

The agreement between the United States and the Taliban [signed in Qatar on February 29, 2020], was aimed at putting into place the “Islamic Emirate.” It demonstrated the true aims of the world bourgeoisie and its imperialist intervention in the name of “democracy.”

The collapse in only a few days of the puppet government of Ashraf Ghani, in which the United States and its allies undoubtedly played a major role, followed by the return of the Taliban to power, has fulfilled the scenario of the establishment of the “Islamic Emirate.” In capitalist international relations, the replacement of one power by another (of the same nature, even if its forms are different), according to the needs and interests of capital, is not a novelty.

In order to set up as quickly as possible this “Islamic Emirate” to which world capitalism has paved the way, maneuvers are underway to unite the forces and personalities necessary for this project. The announcement of a “general amnesty” by the Taliban leadership, the presence of some leaders of Islamic and ethnic factions from Pakistan, and the negotiations with the Pakistani leadership are an attempt to unite the mujahideen leaders, technocrats, and elements of the former puppet government on the Taliban axis.

The immediate consequences of the establishment of the theocratic totalitarian regime of the Taliban, as well as the liquidation of democratic freedoms (already largely violated), mean for women the total deprivation of their rights in all areas of social life. It is, however, on the pretext of the defense of women that U.S. imperialism justified its military aggression 20 years ago!

The atrocious and inhumane fate imposed on Afghanistan shows once again the hideous nature of bourgeois domination, of its institutions, of its so-called “defense of human rights and civilization” — in reality of the barbarity of a system that has trampled on human life and dignity for the benefit of its selfish interests.

The tragic events of the last few days and the brutal domination of the Taliban, with the help of the big capitalist powers and their regional allies, have shattered the crude illusion spread by “civil society” and some “left-wing intellectuals” who thought that supporting imperialist intervention could save the people from the Taliban. The experience of the Afghan people, the barbarity imposed on them, expresses this bitter truth: world capitalism and the imperialist powers wage bloody wars, exploit, spread inequality and poverty, and do not care about the welfare and freedom of the workers and the poor masses.

Although the Taliban’s obscurantist rule is imposing an unprecedented setback on society in all fields and dealing a terrible blow to the anti-capitalist and equality movement of the working class and all freedom-loving people, we see that the people do not accept it.

The rebellion and courageous protests of the people, especially women and youth at the risk of their lives, shows that the Taliban will not be able to impose their authoritarian rule and medieval beliefs.

Sooner or later, the rule of these fascists and their international sponsors will come up against social protest, radical movements, including the movement of the working class, women, youth and all workers.

Sooner or later, the Taliban will be confronted with the people’s demands for bread, work and freedom.

While security is the main concern of the people today, there is no doubt that the Taliban will sooner or later have to face the people’s movement and demands for bread, work and democratic rights. The demand for “bread, work and freedom” will be the basis of the torrent that will destroy the bourgeois forces and their supporters.

The Taliban, like other Islamist political currents, are not only the product of ignorance, beliefs and backwardness. They are a fraction of the forces of the bourgeoisie in the capitalist relations that rule the world. It is on the basis of this analysis, and not on the basis of the appearance of these forces and their maneuvers, that the revolutionary forces fighting for equality will have to take a stand. The overthrow of the obscurantist rule of the Taliban and their “Islamic Emirate” is only possible through the collective organization of the working class and all working people in association with other progressive and egalitarian movements.

As freedoms are challenged and repression spreads, the resistance against the Taliban will grow stronger and more cohesive. We are confident of the ultimate victory of the workers and oppressed over the criminal Taliban and their international sponsors.


OPEN FORUM: Labor and Antiwar Activists Speak Out on Afghanistan War and Its Outcome


In October 2001, in the name of the so-called “war on terror,” the United States and an international coalition bombed Afghanistan, drove out the Taliban, and installed a puppet regime that survived only thanks to U.S./NATO occupation troops. At the height of the war, 120,000 U.S. troops were deployed in Afghanistan, with heavy reliance on mercenaries from Blackwater and other private contractor firms.

What was the result? The longest-ever foreign military intervention by the United States left more than 241,000 Afghan civilians dead, 2,442 U.S. troops dead (and 20,666 wounded), and more than 2 million internal and external Afghan refugees. The total cost of the war to the United States is estimated at $2.3 trillion. (source: Brown University, Watson Institute’s Cost of War Project)

Today, the very same Taliban who were driven from power in 2001 have been returned to power by the U.S. government following an agreement signed on February 29, 2020 in Qatar by the Trump administration — and subsequently endorsed and implemented by the Biden administration.

We are publishing below short statements by U.S. labor and antiwar activists with their assessment of this 20-year war and its outcome.

[All statements have been issued in a personal capacity; titles and organizations are listed for identification purposes only.]

* * *

Gene Bruskin (with megaphone) at antiwar rally in Washington, DC



US LABOR AGAINST THE WAR was formed in January 2003 to oppose the imminent war in Iraq and become labor’s voice in opposition to US foreign interventions, including Afghanistan. It was no accident that both the Iraq and Afghan wars were started by the viciously anti-worker administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney as labor opposition to their policies was growing. War and nationalism in the US always succeeded in distracting people from the injustices perpetrated on them by our government and their corporate cronies.

It is the height of irony and, in fact, very revealing, that the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan has again played a role of undermining the gains of working-class Americans. The successful massive, united front of social forces against the threatened Trump dictatorship forced onto the national political agenda a set of progressive policies and social investments not seen in recent decades. But once again a US foreign intervention has pulled the attention of the nation from its domestic needs toward protecting our troops and citizens in Afghanistan and those Afghans whose lives were in danger for their support of our aggression.

The calculus of 20 years of the US war in Afghanistan is tragic: massive suffering, death, impoverishment and displacement for millions of Afghans the US allegedly was fighting for; hundreds of billions of dollars shifted to the coffers of the war industry (with many weapons ending up in the Taliban hands in this final period); billions of dollars lost to corrupt US contractors and Afghan leaders; thousands of deaths and injuries of US soldiers, mostly working class, and an incalculable amount of damage to those suffering PTSD; and, lastly, an open field for ISIS in Afghanistan emerging in the mess left behind as the US exits, contradicting the excuse for invading Afghanistan to begin with.

It is impossible to separate US imperialist foreign policy from our domestic policy. There can be no justice at home unless there is justice for all. Justice, like health and climate sustainability, can only be achieved globally. — 8/27/21


Clarence Thomas


(Past President of ILWU Local 10)

The fall of the corrupt government in Afghanistan, propped up by the Western powers, was inevitable. Right now, we are witnessing the destruction of Afghanistan, with the mass displacement of terrorized Afghans.

More than $2 trillion has been expended in this imperialist war, a war that has lasted 20 years. One can only imagine what could have been done with those $2 trillion if it were spent here at home. We probably could have had nationalized healthcare, living wages, infrastructure, improved public education, and more.

My union, ILWU Local 10, has been at the forefront of the fight against the wars at home and abroad. We shut down the 24 ports on the West Coast to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – the first time that a U.S. trade union has taken such strike action, not for the purpose of wages and benefits, but to protest and resist a U.S. foreign policy. That was indeed historic.

We believe that this specific strike action – and there were many others going back to the 1930s – would not have taken place were it not for the Black rank-and-file members and leaders of ILWU Local 10. We have served as an example for other trade unions to follow.

I do believe, however, that because of the influence of the Democratic Party, our labor movement nationally has been handcuffed, prevented from taking the kind of actions needed to protect and advance the interests of the working class. Because of labor’s subordination to the Democratic Party, we have been demobilized from opposing U.S. wars and occupations in the interest of profits.

Our labor movement needs to act independently, beginning with the demand to slash the war budget. An Injury to One Is an Injury to All!


Desiree Rojas


(President, Sacramento chapter, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (AFL-CIO)

They called the war in Afghanistan an “open check book” war many years ago, and today we definitely can call it “The Open Check Book War, with No Ledger!”

It’s a telling truth to see the end of a war that has nearly bankrupted the U.S., and by design fueled the privatization drive that has attacked organized labor across the country – especially public-sector workers at the local, state, and federal levels, creating more and more billionaires.

These are the same billionaires – and trillionaires – who do not pay taxes, undermine our laws, punish workers and their families, and destroy our environment. This has compelled us to take on refugees and step up the struggle for immigration justice, free healthcare, lower rents, and JOBS!



(Executive Director Emeritus of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles, and a member of the Governing Board of the A.C.L.U. of Southern California)

Hours after the attacks of 9/11, at a meeting to discuss the appropriate U.S. response, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wrote, “judge whether good enough hit S.H. (Saddam Hussein) … go massive … sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

This was what the hard-liner U.S. imperialists had been looking for – a new Pearl Harbor that would justify, in the minds of the American people, the U.S. attacking Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. You know, “things related and not.”

 Since 9/11, that’s pretty much what the U.S. has done. And none of it, as in Iraq, has turned out as the U.S. imperialists had hoped. Afghanistan is but another example of that fact. And if today’s journalists and pundits were paying more attention to the fact that we had no right to wage war in Afghanistan in the first place, nor any chance of doing more in the war than bringing about vast amounts of death and destruction, the debacle of our exit could be viewed by the American people in the correct context. That is, the American people might realize that the tragedy now playing out in Afghanistan as we leave, is the fault of the U.S. government, not the people of Afghanistan, no matter how despicable those now in control of Afghanistan may be.



(Co-VP & Organizer, AFT 1493.org — San Mateo Community College Fed of Teachers)

I am saddened, and angered, by our country’s military intervention in Afghanistan. Continuing for more than twenty years, it is the longest military incursion by the United States, leaving hundreds of thousands dead or maimed, while forcing millions to seek refuge in foreign lands. The total cost of the war to the United States is more than $2 trillion.

Meanwhile, our country continues its downward spiral into extreme income inequality – families are hungry, more and more people are being forced out of their homes and into the streets, and medical care is costly and difficult to access. Education budgets continue to shrink, and teachers’ pay isn’t commensurate with the cost of living. Many of our community college students work two or more jobs just to survive. It’s time to refocus on the needs of the U.S. and our people and stop intervening militarily in other countries.

My heart goes out to our troops who are still stationed in Afghanistan and to all the refugees who seek entry into our country. 

No more imperialist wars, no more wasted lives.


Haïti Liberté Statement on the U.S. War in Afghanistan

(published in Brooklyn, N.Y.)

The U.S. military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from October 2001 until August 2021 is one of history’s greatest crimes. It was a violation of international law, human rights law, the UN Charter, Nuremberg Principles, and was a crime against peace, defined in part as the “planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression.”

This criminal war killed over 241,000 Afghani men, women, and children. It also left some 2,500 U.S. soldiers dead and almost 21,000 wounded. It produced over two million Afghan refugees, who are internally or externally displaced. The war cost about $2.3 trillion and was used as a stepping-stone for the follow-on war against Iraq.

We in Haiti were the victims of a similar two-decade U.S. war a century ago. From 1915 until 1934, U.S. Marines militarily occupied Haiti, killing thousands of Haitians, who also fiercely resisted their aggression. The invasion’s purpose was to take control of Haiti for geopolitical purposes. The U.S. wanted to control our agriculture, raw materials, and banks, as well as the Windward Passage between Haiti and Cuba, through which all shipping from the U.S. East Coast to the West Coast passed on the way to the Panama Canal, completed in 1914. The U.S. was asserting its control over the Caribbean in the face of rivalry from European powers.

Similarly, the U.S. wanted to control Afghanistan as a strategic region through which to build gas pipelines, militarily encircle China and Russia, control about $1 trillion of rare earth minerals, and facilitate the production of heroin, revenue from which is used to fund U.S. intelligence black budgets.

But the Afghani people, like the Haitian people, fought the U.S. occupation until the end. Washington has nothing to show for the two decades it spent in Afghanistan, just as it had nothing to show in Haiti a century ago. Both Afghanistan and Haiti show that popular resistance, in whatever form, can foil the plans of even the most powerful empires. Haitians proved that in 1804 and 1934, and the Afghans proved that in 2021.

Down with Washington’s endless wars around the globe!

Long live self-determination for Afghanistan and Haiti!


Antiwar demonstration in San Francisco


(Former National Co-Convener, U.S. Labor Against the War)

Thoughts on the U.S. Leaving Afghanistan

Turning an old adage upside down, all bad things must come to an end. And so the United States is pulling all military troops from Afghanistan.

President Biden and others in top U.S. government positions say they had no idea the Afghan government and military forces they created and paid for would just disappear in a matter of days from the start of the withdrawal. The sad fact is that the U.S. ruling class has never had the slightest idea that corresponded to real Afghan political and social dynamics. How ludicrous was it that the U.S. years ago claimed to be giving military assistance to Afghan forces so they could be properly equipped and learn how to fight! The Afghan people have known how to fight for a very long time. That’s what it means that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires.

But we – peace activists from the labor movement and all sections of U.S. civil society – we did know from the very start of the war in 2002 that it was wrong. We mobilized against it immediately because we knew it was wrong for one country to invade and dominate another. We knew the U.S. war was doomed to fail because we knew that empire never knows what the people know. We knew that U.S. domination of any country will lead to resistance and ultimate defeat.

And so it has been. But after how much death? How much suffering? How much catastrophic physical and social destruction in that country? After how much shame has accrued to the U.S. ruling class, in all its ignorant hubris?

Yet President Biden continues to promise that U.S. military and intelligence assets will continue to patrol Afghanistan from “over the horizon” and strike anywhere it suits him. Meanwhile, President Biden wants to “pivot” U.S. strategic military and diplomatic assets to confront the People’s Republic of China in an attempt to show the world that “The U.S. is back, at the head of the table.”

President Biden is no apostle of peace. Even in the face of daunting U.S. domestic challenges arising from gross inequality, the Covid pandemic, environmental catastrophes of unprecedented fire, flood, and drought, we must hold high the banner of peace and international labor solidarity. La Luta Continua! — August 27, 2021



 (Former Chair, Legislative Council, National Nurses United, AFL-CIO)

Afghanistan & the Working Class

Forty-two years ago, the US Carter Administration started recruiting, funding and arming religious fanatics to help overthrow the socialist government in Kabul and draw the Soviet Union into a quagmire. The Reagan Administration subsequently expanded that intrusion greatly and succeeded in bringing down the Soviet Union. Every US administration of whichever party has since contributed to the devastation of countries in Central and Southwest Asia, Africa and around the world.

To the crises of climate change and the global pandemic we now must add fear that the US, being routed from Afghanistan, will lash out viciously elsewhere to deflect attention from that humiliation and to assure arms manufacturers that their privileged position in the economy is secure.

Early in the first Reagan Administration, 241 US Marines were killed in an explosion in Beirut. Within a few days, US armed forces invaded Grenada to overthrow the New Jewel Movement government there. Later, the US invaded Panamá, striking the heaviest blows to working-class neighborhoods.

So now we stand poised in anticipation of the next outrage, be it against Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua or the emerging liberation movements across Latin America and the Caribbean. A wounded beast of prey, even one wounded mortally, still strikes out. We stand in solidarity with all the victims of imperialism, past and yet to come.



(First Nations Enforcement Agency; Free Mumia Movement; Black Alliance for Peace, in a personal capacity)

The US and NATO imperialist wars of invasion and occupation of Afghanistan since 2001, like all imperialist wars, have resulted in untold death, annihilation, and suffering of the Afghan people and people in the region.

These, along with US imperialist wars armed with weapons of mass destruction continue to destroy mostly Muslim nations like Libya, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen (aided by monarchical Saudi Arabia), and other countries, and are tantamount to cultural genocide considering that these are among the most impoverished peoples of the world.

All wars of invasion, aggression, destruction, and occupation for the looting of oil and other materials needed for the capitalist-killing profit-making machine must end now. There can be no humanity, no life, with senseless blood-letting wars that cause much harm to the Earth and all life. No justice, No Peace!


Papers For All; No More Deportations!


(Teamster Local 348, retired)

After 20 years of senseless deaths of hundreds of thousands, after over two trillion in wasteful spending with the only winners being military contractors and weapons manufacturers, after the unceasing lying to the public about “progress” in the futile effort to supposedly build democracy in a nation-building project, Pres. Joe Biden says the U.S. is leaving Afghanistan.

The right approach is to face all dispatches from Washington with the proper skepticism. This skepticism also suggests Washington’s reasons for withdrawal to be not wholly honorable, such as redirecting its focus for a new endeavor – the “war on terror “now having lost its luster – to a military response to a new cold war against the behemoth economic power of China and the threat of its alliance with Russia.

The U.S. must acknowledge over 40 years of a failed foreign policy that uses might to make nations bow to its imperial, economic designs. It is now time to clean up the mess this approach has made in much of the world. End all sanctions against Iran, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

Along with its incessant meddling in these countries, the U.S. must end its historical attempts to stifle self-determination in places like Haiti, the nations of the Horn of Africa, Central and South America.

It must cut the military budget (at least) in half and direct the monies to the material well-being of its citizens via education, healthcare, leading in the fight against climate change, and in short becoming a nation among nations, one working in conjunction with all nations to stave off nuclear destruction and a degraded world. It is time to put a knife in the heart of the congressional military-industrial complex.

Empire must end now. Organizing the world for the sole purpose of profit must end. It is a time for humanity to come together to face the threat that capitalism has bequeathed the planet we call home.



(author of The Tragedy of American Science)

When Joe Biden self-servingly declared, “Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires,” did he not realize he was acknowledging the imperialist character of the American mission?

The recent events there demonstrate the failure of their “Plan A”—the “regime change” strategy — to subjugate Afghanistan and convert it into a docile U.S. neo-colony. However, the fallback “Plan B” — the “failed state” strategy —relentlessly continues. As with Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and so many others, when the United States cannot conquer a country, it tries to militarily destroy its governing institutions, its economy, and its physical infrastructure, and if successful, the policymakers then shed crocodile tears over the “failed state” they created.

It is therefore not surprising to see them “defecating on the floor as they walk out the door.” The final chapter of the Afghanistan saga has yet to be written, but the evident failure of U.S. imperialism to crush Afghanistan after twenty years of all-out effort powerfully testifies to the ongoing decline and fall of the American empire.


COMMENT by JOE LOMBARDO (and excerpts from UNAC statement)

[Comrades: Please find below brief excerpts from a statement issued August 19 by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) on whose steering committee I serve. The statement is titled, “UNAC Statement on Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan.” — In solidarity, Joe Lombardo]

Events are happening very fast in the world today but perhaps none faster than the rapid advance of the Taliban and the fall of the US puppet regime in Afghanistan.

The US supposedly went into Afghanistan to capture Osama Bin Laden who they held responsible for the attacks on 9/11. The Taliban government said they would turn him over to an international court if shown proof of his involvement, but rather than do that, the US attacked and occupied the country and turned the government over to a group of war lords from the Northern Alliance. That was supposed to bring democracy to Afghanistan. Twenty years later the Taliban has returned stronger than ever.

The last 20 years have been hell for the Afghan people. Around 240,000 have been killed, there have been massive numbers of drone strikes and bombings, Black sites for torture such as Bagram Air Base were created. Opium production skyrocketed under the US occupation.

The US was never in Afghanistan to fight terrorism or to bring a better life for the Afghan people, they were there to install a pro-US government that would support their strategic political and military goals in the region, including their aggression against China and Iran. Additionally, they wanted to get their hands on the vast mineral resources in Afghanistan.

We must demand: No more bombing, remove all troops, mercenaries, and special forces from the country and the surrounding area, no sanctions, and pay reparations for the destruction caused by their war and occupation. The people of Afghanistan must find their own way free from US intervention.



(Author, economist, labor activist)

Afghanistan As Marker for the US Empire at Historical Juncture

The USA as global hegemon can no longer afford the financial cost of remaining in Afghanistan, so it is pulling out. New projected costs of maintaining US global empire in the decade ahead have risen dramatically since the Afghan war began in fall of 2001. The US is pulling out because, for the first time since 1945, it has decided to cut its costs in less strategic areas like Afghanistan in order to be able to finance the anticipated growing costs of empire elsewhere, which are projected to rise sharply during the 2020s decade and beyond.

The two new areas requiring trillions of dollars of new funding are:

+ the rapidly rising costs of investing in next generation technologies needed to compete with China, both militarily and economically;

+ the costs of cybersecurity investments needed to deal with Russia, China, and with select lesser cyber challengers;

US imperial interests increasingly realize they cannot continue to throw away trillions of dollars more in wars in Afghanistan, let alone the broader middle east—whether Iraq, Libya, Syria/Isis, Iran containment, or financing Arab states’ war in Yemen.

Collapsing imperial finance forces the US empire to retreat, consolidate and regroup for the new strategic threats to US imperial hegemony on the horizon.

The focus henceforth will be on the Great Technology War with China and cybersecurity conflicts with Russia. These are the key strategic interests of the American Empire in this decade and beyond—not Afghanistan. — August 27, 2021



(Past president, AFT 2121)

The undeclared, interventionist war in Afghanistan was one of the most shameful and destructive of the many failures of my country’s ignorant, racist and politically hysterical foreign policy. I am a patriotic person who served in the U.S. Army between the undeclared wars in Korea and Vietnam. I also served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia and 48 years as a teacher in four countries. We must learn from our crimes against humanity and stop intervening in other nations.



(Past President, AFT 2121)

The US must learn from the Afghanistan experience that it has no right to occupy other lands, peoples and nations. The US must provide reparations and apologies for the peoples that it has damaged. The US methods of conducting war has always meant the huge loss of innocent civilian lives. Revenge should never be a justification of using violence against adversaries since it increases the probability of retaliation and continuing violence hurting both sides.

The US armed forces and the wars and violence it pursues is a major source of greenhouse gases which are an existential threat to humanity. Who benefits? – the war profiteers. Nobody should be allowed to profit from war and national defense expenditures. We must struggle to end these unjust wars and greatly reduce our bloated and unnecessary “Defense” budget that does not make us any safer.



(retired member of the UAW)

Following two decades of direct US/NATO military intervention, the coalition of imperialist nations that is led by the United States is in the process of disengaging from that war-torn nation, leaving it in the hands of a regime that was originally supported by the United States, but deposed following September 11, 2001.

As the process of disengagement approaches its completion, the danger of a re-introduction of imperialist forces will remain for as long as capitalist imperialism continues to dominate the political economy of humanity. As with all other imperialist military operations, the toiling masses of the world, including in the U.S., will have absolutely no interest in such a military re-engagement in Afghanistan.

The labor movement in the U.S. must become vigilant and prepared to oppose all imperialist military operations, which are always conducted at the expense of the social needs of the working class.


The Legacy of Richard Trumka (1949-2021): Two Critical Contributions to the Discussion

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka passed away from a heart attack on August 5 at the age of 72. Before taking the helm of the AFL-CIO, Trumka was president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). He rose to prominence in the labor movement after he led a victorious and militant nine-month Pittston Coal strike during the Reagan era.

During his tenure as AFL-CIO president, the labor movement adopted a number of progressive issues regarding social justice, making a shift away from previous tradition.

Trumka had planned to step down as AFL-CIO president at the next federation convention. Trumka’s appointed successor, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (who is now interim president of the federation), is expected to be challenged for the top labor post by militant labor leader Sara Nelson, president of the Flight Attendants union.

We are publishing in this newsletter two contributions to the discussion regarding Trumka’s legacy. Much more needs to be said about this legacy – and will be said – in future issues of The Organizer Weekly Newsletter, including in relation to U.S. foreign policy. Both contributions below focus on two key questions: (1) the fight for trade union democracy, and (2) the need for labor to break with its subordination to the Democratic Party. We welcome comments from our readers, and further contributions to this discussion. — The Editors


Richard Wolff (left) with David Van Deusen

Vermont AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen Speaks Out

[Following are excerpts from an interview conducted July 19 by Richard Wolff on his “Economic Update” podcast with David Van Deusen, elected president of the 10,000-member Vermont AFL-CIO. Van Deusen was part of a slate called United. It is a progressive caucus within Vermont’s organized labor movement, committed to rank-and-file union democracy and to social justice unionism. In Vermont, during the state AFL-CIO’s internal elections in the years 2019 and 2020, the United Slate won every leadership position within the state AFL-CIO.]

Richard Wolff: There is an ongoing conflict between the Vermont state AFL-CIO and the national AFL-CIO based in Washington DC, led by Richard Trumka.[1] I would like you to describe that conflict for our audience.

David Van Deusen: In November 2020, as you will recall, our democracy was entering a crisis. The election resulted in Donald Trump losing to Joe Biden. We were entering a crisis phase of democracy, and there were serious concerns that a political coup was in the making by Donald Trump and his cronies.

The Vermont AFL-CIO takes bottom-up democracy very seriously. We saw these warnings written on the wall, and we brought the question up of what we would do if our democracy fell victim to an attempted coup, and what it would do to our members.

At our annual convention here in Vermont, after a long discussion and debate with our rank-and-file, 87 percent of our members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a call from our elected executive board for a general strike in the event of a coup.

Richard Trumka and the national AFL-CIO, however, did not see it the same way we did. They didn’t like that we allowed our members to vote democratically. They retaliated against us and opened an investigation against us for alleged misconduct, simply for allowing our members to pursue a democratic process, to discuss and decide on what to do if we had to defend democracy. That’s the situation we find ourselves in today.

I am proud of the brave action and commitment to our democratic process that our members showed in November 2020. That’s the kind of leadership we should have been seeing at the national level from Richard Trumka.

Wolff: Are there other labor bodies, other state AFL-CIOs, where there are similar sentiments and where they might be looking at the actions in Vermont as a possible inspiration?

Van Deusen: We had a number of significant Central Labor Councils and labor bodies around the country that were also preparing for a general strike should a coup come into being. This includes the Central Labor Council in Seattle, with well over 100,000 members. They passed a resolution in support of a general strike. Labor councils in Rochester, New York; Troy, New York; and the Western Massachusetts Central Labor Council, all of which are within AFL-CIO – they did likewise.

In Chicago, unions such a CTU, were preparing to defend democracy through direct action and member engagement. This was building at the grassroots level. We were the only state Federation to go against the conservative wishes of Richard Trumka and, as a state AFL-CIO body, to authorize a call for a general strike, if necessary.

We were not – and we are not – going to be intimidated by Richard Trumka’s tactics to try to silence us. Instead, we are currently reaching out to state federations, labor councils, and locals throughout this country to seek to build a progressive caucus within the national AFL-CIO to change the way we do things.

Wolff: What are the implications of what you have been telling us in terms of the relationship between organized labor and the Democratic Party?

Van Deusen: Well for decades now, and this is no mystery to you or your listeners, the national AFL-CIO has essentially put all of our eggs in the basket of the national Democratic Party. We have hitched our wagon to them, pumped tens of millions of dollars into their elections every two and four years, and what have we gotten in return?

At present we have Democratic majorities in all bodies of government. We are still three Democrats away from having a majority in the Senate for the PRO-Act. And even if they have that majority, we are well short of the 60 votes needed to override a filibuster. And yet Democratic Party officials refuse to engage in a real discussion about getting rid of the filibuster. So, what have we got for hitching our wagon to it?

I say the time has come not to put in tens of millions into the Democratic Party, but to put that into organizing. Our real power is not going to be through the suits and ties in Washington DC. Our real power for change is going to be through building those relationships with social justice groups, who are fighting for racial justice, who are fighting for real reform, in our communities.

That’s the direction we need to go. Not with the Democratic Party, which has failed us time and time again. It is time to look for alternatives. We cannot keep going down that failed road.


Why Did AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Diss Medicare for All Over the Labor Day Weekend?


[Sandy Eaton, RN, posted this article on the blog of Labor Fightback Network on September 12, 2019.]

According to Reuters, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stressed a preference for the so-called public option, a tax-subsidized plan in competition with all the current private health insurance plans in an enhanced marketplace.

He quotes former Vice-President Joe Biden, who asserts that this marketplace is necessary to maintain existing union-negotiated plans and that an improved Medicare for All would likely deliver poorer benefits to union members than those private plans.

Trouble is, the AFL-CIO membership, through their convention delegates, affirmed their preference for the social insurance model, Medicare for All, at the federation’s 2009 Pittsburgh convention, and even more clearly in 2017 in Saint Louis.

The fact of the matter is that the expanded and improved Medicare for All bills in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, and in many state legislatures, provide benefits that far exceed the best of the negotiated union plans (including long-term disability) with no co-pays, deductibles or out of pockets, with the right to choose your own healthcare providers, guaranteed lifetime coverage with no break in coverage, and no more trading off wages and benefits for basic healthcare at the bargaining table.

Furthermore, Labor’s taking the lead in winning a truly universal health plan, one that establishes a single high standard of care for all of us, constitutes a profound act of solidarity. We’ve seen the evil that’s generated in society by those who glory in their own successes and have nothing but disdain for those lacking those benefits.

The members have a clear preference for Medicare for All, as reflected in Resolution #34 of the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention and in Resolution #6 of 2017. The federation’s officers are mandated to follow the will of the members so expressed rather than the concerns of corporate Democrats and their allied medical-industrial complex.

We must continue to raise such a clamor for healthcare justice that such leaders will not be able to turn a deaf ear. Unite around a plan of action, not of retreat!


 Support Our 30th Anniversary Expansion Drive and Join a Socialist Organizer Revolutionary Study Group!

Dear readers and supporters,

In March 2021 we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Socialist Organizer and of our publication: The Organizer Newspaper (now a weekly newsletter because of COVID-19 restrictions).

Over the past five months, we have published all the presentations and greetings to our 30th anniversary webinar celebration. We also have published articles, interviews, and campaign reports — both domestic and international — from our archives. In this issue, we publish the two concluding presentations to our anniversary celebration: (1) “A Few of Socialist Organizer’s Accomplishments,” by Millie Phillips, and (2) “Socialist Organizer: Our Revolutionary Continuity,” by Mya Shone.

All of our articles, as you can see, place the deepening crisis in the United States in the context of the terminal crisis of decay of the capitalist system as a whole and explains why the fight for socialism is on the agenda today — more than ever. Such a global perspective, we believe, is necessary to understand the centrality of the fight for a break with “lesser-evil” politics — for a Labor Party and for a Black Workers Party linked to the fight for a Labor Party.

We urge you, our longtime readers, to continue your subscription to The Organizer. We need your support for our 30th Anniversary Expansion Fund.  We are still $1,200 short of our goal.

A one-year subscription to our newsletter is $20. A Solidarity subscription is $50 per year. An Active Supporter subscription is $100 per year. You can renew your sub at any of these three levels by going to the PayPal link on our website, or you can send a check or money order to The Organizer, P.O. Box 40315, San Francisco, CA 94140. [Note: Please note our new P.O. Box number.]

We urge you not only to continue supporting us, but to join our efforts to advance the revolutionary struggle.

As you know, we are not a large organization, but whether it’s working to build an effective alternative to the Democrats; encouraging practical unity among diverse sectors of the working class in the U.S. and internationally; defending and trying to expand immigrant and labor rights; fighting militarism, imperialism, racism and other forms of bigotry; or educating around all of the above – and more – via our currently online newsletter, study groups, and forums, Socialist Organizer, the political organization that publishes The Organizer remains active and dedicated to liberating humanity from the deadly chains of capitalism.

Our work is never easy, and the stakes have never been higher. We value your support and urge you to support our SO Expansion Drive and to join one of our Revolutionary Study Groups so that you can learn more about the Marxist analysis of the historic development of class struggle and about Socialist Organizer and the Fourth International — so that you can consider joining our organization.

Please contact us at socialistorganizer@earthlink.net and/or go to our various links on our website: www.socialistorganizer.org.

Thank-you in advance for your continued support,

In solidarity,

The Editorial Board of The Organizer Newspaper


The National Organizing Committee of Socialist Organizer


A Few of Socialist Organizer’s Accomplishments

(presentation by Millie Phillips to the SO 30th Anniversary celebration)

A lot has happened in 30 years. Through victories and defeats, ours is a proud history of revolutionary continuity. I would like to mention some of our accomplishments.

Helping keep City College of San Francisco open. Reducing tuition increases in the UC system. Defending ethnic studies programs at SF State. Ongoing solidarity with teachers’ labor activities.

Getting the AFL-CIO to adopt and revive pro-immigrant positions, mentoring radical leaders of the immigrant rights movement, and building innumerable conferences and protests in defense of immigrants.

Successfully defending activists against legal repression, from students facing occupation charges to union leaders like Eddie Rosario and Robert Irminger and the Charleston 5 dockworkers, and a tour for members of the Tucson group No More Deaths that they credited to dropping felony charges against them.

Building the labor party in the 1990s, and when it fizzled out, despite our best efforts, continuing to organize along with veteran Black and Latinx leaders under the banners of the Labor Fightback Network and the new Labor and Community for an Independent Party.

Internationally, helping to win union recognition for workers in the Korean-owned Han Young and for the new union of Driscoll workers in Mexico, to reinstate jobs for the Ruta 100 Mexico City bus drivers, to keep the Bangladeshi port of Chittagong unionized, to support Mexican mine workers in Cananea, to build Haitian solidarity, winning many Haitian comrades to our politics, and to coordinate a tribunal on imperialist oppression in Africa.

Domestically, serving as shop stewards, labor council delegates, and local presidents, leading LCLAA and CLUW chapters, and being central activists in the single-payer movement. Working with Black Workers for Justice, such as organizing a tour to protest one of the worst labor disasters in recent US history in the 1990s. Helping win the Mt. Olive pickle boycott, and struggling alongside the Staley workers of Decatur IL, in one of the bitterest strikes in recent memory, and currently building efforts to defend the right to vote.

Organizing an international tribunal to expose the genocidal injustice and environmental racism of Katrina, and with the ILWU, helping provide material aid to Katrina victims, and supporting so many of the ILWU’s port shutdowns and ILWU-led efforts like the Million Workers March and a current campaign against development threatening gentrification and disruption of the port of Oakland. Through the former ILC and the current IWC, organizing international conferences and tours of labor activists throughout the world.

Organizing against every war the US has engaged in the past 30 years. Supporting USLAW and its tour of Iraq in support of Iraqi unions. Until internal sectarianism destroyed it, being central leaders of the initially massive movement against the last Iraq war.

Staunchly defending Palestinians, from exposing atrocities, to blockading Israeli ships, to participating in current solidarity, up to supporting protests in the last week, all while advocating for ending U.S. aid to apartheid Israel and calling for a Democratic and Secular Palestine.

Helping to defeat the FTAA and the MAI trade agreements and fighting NAFTA and its latest iteration.

And throughout it all, publishing The Organizer. And that’s just some of what we do and have done. Here’s to the next 30 years!


Mya Shone addresses 30th anniversary celebration

Socialist Organizer: Our Revolutionary Continuity

(presentation by Mya Shone, co-chair of the Socialist Organizer 30th Anniversary Celebration)

The 30th anniversary of Socialist Organizer is an auspicious occasion. Rather than rest on our laurels we must consider what we have accomplished in relation to the tasks facing us today and during the years ahead.

Our formation 30 years ago was not a move that our 10 founding members took lightly. All of us — Alan Benjamin, Ralph Schoenman, Peter Atwood, Bradley Wiedmaier, Bill Wilner and me, Mya Shone, as well as five founding members of the Fourth International in 1938 — Edie Fox, Marianne Gabriel, Ted and Dot Selander, and Tiby Genecin — were members already of a Trotskyist party. We considered it imperative, however, that as part and parcel of our effort to build the revolutionary party within the United States we could not just talk the talk about the construction of a Labor Party, that is a mass working class party rooted in the unions, but that the activities and mobilizing necessary to form a labor party must be front and center in the daily work of the revolutionary party.

The 10 of us also realized that it was both critical and appropriate at that point in history – as it remains so today – for the Fourth International to work with workers’ and political organizations on a united front basis to construct a workers’ international. Six of us attended a conference in January 1991 in Barcelona, Spain, which brought together delegates from 53 countries, who formed the International Liaison Committee for a Workers’ International (ILC), now the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International (IWC).

We formed Socialist Organizer soon thereafter, excited about our dynamic name  and the potential for recruitment. We chose the name of our newspaper – The Organizer – because of the historic legacy of workers’ struggle that it represents. We decided to proclaim on our masthead “For a Labor Party, For a Workers International” and to make production of our newspaper a central feature of our work.

For, as Lenin described eloquently, the newspaper is a key instrument for revolutionary struggle because it is the avenue through which we present our analysis and mobilize. The Organizer itself had been the newspaper of the General Drivers Local 574 of the Teamsters Union in Minneapolis, Minnesota, published from July through October 1934 in the aftermath of the May 16, 1934 Minneapolis general strike. It served as the essential organizing instrument and chronicler during three subsequent major strikes with issues produced daily, weekly, and bi-weekly as the class struggle unfolded. The paper was edited by James P. Cannon, the editor of the Militant, the newspaper of the first American Trotskyist organization, the Communist League of America, who later became the National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) when it was formed January 1, 1938.

Speaking of James P. Cannon and the legacy of the American Trotskyist movement, brings to mind another significant event:

On June 27, 1941 — five days after Hitler invaded the U.S.S.R. — FBI agents raided the offices of the SWP in Minneapolis and its twin-city St. Paul, carting off large quantities of legal socialist literature. This led to the indictment of 28 socialist and union activists who were charged with sedition and plotting the violent overthrow of the United States government.

Let us be clear, these indictments were issued against the 28 socialist and union members of Teamsters Local 544 solely because of their opposition to the imperialist war. Most of those indicted were members of the U.S. Trotskyist organization, the Socialist Workers Party, including James P. Cannon, its national secretary, who as I mentioned previously had been the editor of The Organizer during the Minneapolis strikes.

Cannon used the trial as an opportunity to explain the principles of socialism and the guiding tenets of the Socialist Workers Party. “Socialism on Trial” is a historic document of our movement. [“Socialism on Trial, The verbatim courtroom testimony of James P. Cannon, June 18, 1941-Nov. 21, 1941”  https://www.marxists.org/archive/cannon/works/1941/socialism/]

Cannon responded to questions from both the government prosecutor as well as his own attorney Albert Goldman, himself a defendant. Goldman asked Cannon a defining question: “What is the purpose of the party?” to which Cannon responded: “I would say that the fundamental aim of the party then and now is to popularize the doctrines of Marxian socialism and to aid and lead in the work of transforming society from a capitalist to a communist basis.”

Asked what he meant by socialism, Cannon stated: “Socialism can have two meanings, and usually does among us. That is, socialism is a name applied to a projected new form of society, and it is a name also applied to the movement working in that direction. …

 “We visualize a social order that would be based on the common ownership of the means of production, the elimination of private profit in the means of production, the abolition of the wage system, the abolition of the division of society into classes.”

Then asked, “What are you proposing in place of a capitalist society based upon the private ownership of the means of production,” Cannon explained: “We propose in place of the capitalist government a workers’ and farmers’ government, which will frankly represent the economic and social interests of the workers and the producing farmers.”

Today, rather than refer to a workers’ and farmers’ government, we refer instead to a government of workers and oppressed communities. The meaning is essentially the same in that we propose in place of a capitalist government a democratic society controlled by the workers and oppressed communities themselves.

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