[act-ma] 10/16 - WWP Discussion: The Capitalist Economic Crisis & the Struggle for Socialism!

Boston WWP boston at workers.org
Wed Oct 14 16:08:09 PDT 2009


in this email:
1) 10/16 - The Capitalist Economic Crisis and the Struggle for Socialism!
2) Workers World Party National Conference
3) Workers' unity needed to counter ultra-right mobilizations*

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*1)

*

*/Workers World Party Discussion:/*

*The Capitalist Economic Crisis and the Struggle for Socialism!*

*Friday, Oct. 16 -- 6:30 pm*

*Action** Center*
*284 Amory St.** (The Brewery), Jamaica Plain*
(two blocks from the Stony Brook T stop on the Orange Line)

Refreshments & childcare

In September, 263,000 more jobs were lost. Official unemployment edged 
closer to 10 percent, going from 9.7 to 9.8. This was larger than 
predicted by capitalist economists and is the result of 21 consecutive 
months of economic downturn, the longest streak in 70 years.  The 
official unemployment rate would have been higher than 10 
percent---except that 571,000 workers dropped out of the work force and 
therefore were not counted among the unemployed.

*Join members of Workers World Party for an important discussion on the 
growing capitalist economic crisis and the significance that it has for 
the struggle for a socialist future.* 

*/Topics for discussion will include:/*

    * Workers -- unemployed and employed -- need a real JOBS program
    * How to organize and fightback against attempts by the ultra-right
      to use racism to divide workers
    * Why youth need education and jobs not war and prison

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  *2)*


  Nov. 14-15 - New York City


  *Workers World Party National Conference*

*/1959-2009 - 50 Years of Struggle

/Preparing & Organizing for the Future
for more information - www.workersworld.net <http://www.workersworld.net/>

*
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*3)

*Capitalist impasse and socialist future 
<http://www.workers.org/2009/us/htlp_0924/>


  Longest economic downturn in 70 years: JOBS PROGRAM NEEDED NOW
  <http://www.workers.org/2009/us/jobs_1015/>


  Workers' unity needed to counter ultra-right mobilizations

By Fred Goldstein
Published Sep 23, 2009 7:43 PM

The recent mass mobilization of racists and right-wingers of all stripes 
in Washington, D.C., and in cities around the country requires the 
attention of the working class, white workers especially. In the face of 
mounting racism and efforts to divide the workers during an economic 
crisis, the struggle for class unity is more pressing than ever.

While these right-wing demonstrations are numerically small, and may 
eventually die down, they are politically significant because they 
represent a de facto bloc between important sections of big business and 
the racist ultra-right, based upon an immediate common objective: to 
push back the program of the Obama administration.

Whether this is just a bloc convenient for a particular conjuncture that 
will dissolve depends upon the fate of President Barack Obama's program, 
the course of the economic crisis and the development of the class struggle.

The social and political soil for further inflaming racism is fertile. 
There are short-term, specific economic interests that the health care 
industry and Big Oil (ExxonMobil, Chevron, etc.) have in fomenting 
anti-Obama sentiment, and there are long-term strategic interests that 
the ruling class as a whole has in stirring up racism.

As far as the right and the ultra-right are concerned, as long as there 
is an African-American president in the White House and an increase in 
unemployment, bankruptcies and economic hardship, the basis for racist 
mobilization will continue to exist.

At the same time, the economic crisis, which is striking relentlessly at 
the entire multinational working class, provides a profound and powerful 
basis for a united working-class fightback. Preparations must begin now 
to mount a strong, anti-racist, pro-working-class counterattack against 
both the economic crisis and racist division.

Concerning ruling-class politics, it is important to trace the evolution 
of recent developments.

Throughout August the capitalist media depicted the right-wing and 
racist intervention at the town hall meetings on health care as an 
expression of grassroots anger against the prospect of government 
intervention, excessive government spending, and fear of losing health 
care, among other things.

It was clear to anyone paying attention that the outrageous attacks on 
Obama, the racist signs and slogans, including ugly pictures and 
drawings of all types, had nothing to do with health care or government 
spending. Actual mentions of health care were a thin veneer covering 
racist attacks on the first African-American president. They actually 
popped up in a forest of other slogans about Obama being like Hitler and 
attacks on socialism, abortion and undocumented workers.

The so-called "tea party" in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12 has also been 
depicted as a manifestation of grassroots protest against upcoming 
legislation on health care reform and environmental protection, 
including limits on industrial pollution. Tens of thousands attended 
this event, many with right-wing and racist slogans directed at Obama.

These orchestrated events have been on the increase since the right wing 
first initiated them in February against the Troubled Asset Relief 
Program bailout of the banks. When directed against the banks, they were 
quite small and not very widespread. Fox News did its best to make these 
pathetic showings of a handful of ultra-right stragglers look like a 
grassroots groundswell.

The Republican Party at first made a gesture toward the ultra-right and 
tried to strike a blow against Obama by voting against TARP. But Wall 
Street cracked the whip and forced a re-vote, and the TARP $750 billion 
bank bailout passed. One by one a majority of the right-wing legislators 
took the floor to explain why they were changing their votes. None gave 
the real explanation. Their Wall Street masters gave them unequivocal 
orders.

Because the demonstrations were against the banks, they were small and 
scattered. They continued to be small on tax day, April 15, when the 
issue used to attack Obama was still the bailout of the banks and the 
stimulus package, both programs that the ruling class as a whole favored.

*Health insurance companies and Big Oil move in*

But once the health care legislation came on the political agenda, the 
ultra-right, with their racist poison, took a step forward--especially 
in the so-called "town hall" meetings. In these meetings the ultra-right 
were joined by the health care industry.

UnitedHealthcare and WellPoint, two of the largest health insurance 
companies in the country, sent memos to their employees to take part in 
the town hall meetings and do lobbying. They also sent talking points 
along with the memos. They are both under government investigation in 
California for these activities. (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 3)

UnitedHealthcare and WellPoint were caught because their e-mails were 
leaked to the media. But other such companies undoubtedly participated 
in the so-called "grassroots" upsurge.

Around the time of the right-wing town hall offensive, Big Oil, which 
had been lobbying behind the scenes to kill Obama's environmental 
legislation, decided to follow in the footsteps of the health care 
monopolies.

The cap-and-trade program to put limits on allowable pollution by 
corporations and require them to purchase pollution permits was regarded 
as an unwarranted restriction on profits. Furthermore, in the fall, 
environmental legislation is coming before Congress. After that, the 
international follow-up to the Kyoto Accords is scheduled for 
negotiation in Copenhagen. The polluters want to tie Obama's hands in 
Congress so that he cannot even negotiate on significant reductions of 
carbon gas emissions.

A memo leaked from the American Petroleum Institute, the central 
organization of Big Oil, and published by Greenpeace revealed the API 
plan to establish "Energy Citizens" rallies across the country. The memo 
called upon member oil companies to recruit employees, retirees and 
contractors to participate in anti-climate control rallies in 22 cities.

The coal industry, railroads, utilities, the National Association of 
Manufacturers, and other big-business polluters have joined Big Oil in 
its campaign to create an anti-environmental "grassroots" campaign. The 
oil companies planned to field over 200,000 so-called volunteers and 
provide buses, rally financing and other support.

*Big firms work with ultra-right*

Who did the health care industry and the polluters work with? The two 
principal organizations operating both campaigns are called Freedomworks 
and Americans for Prosperity.

Freedomworks is headed by right-wing politician/ideologue/organizer Dick 
Armey, the former House majority leader from Texas. Other right-wing 
racists helped form its leadership, including billionaire Steve Forbes, 
the late Jack Kemp, and C. Boyden Grey. Freedomworks collaborates with 
Newt Gingrich, among others.

Because of all the recent publicity, Armey recently resigned from his 
position with DLA Piper, a high-powered global lobbying firm. DLA 
Piper's clients include the DuPont Corp., BP America, Edison Electric 
and Alliant Energy, among other energy-related polluters.

The firm also represents military contractor Raytheon, pharmaceuticals 
Sanovi-Aventis and Medicines Co., Qualcomm, the Royal Bank of Scotland, 
and various other giant companies.

Armey and Freedomworks constitute a convenient nexus between big 
business and the ultra-right. Up until the Obama administration took 
office, Freedomworks was mainly a networking organization that carried 
out occasional, limited campaigns. These included a campaign to 
privatize Social Security in 2006, a campaign against Obama's program of 
aid to people facing foreclosure, and several right-wing electoral 
campaigns.

Another nexus is Americans for Prosperity. According to Kert Davies, 
research director for Greenpeace, this group "is doing both attacks on 
cap-and-trade and attacks on health care, funded by Koch Industries ... 
a big oil company. So this is a coordinated attack. And as you know, 
it's ... bigger than these issues. It is an attack on Obama's power 
base." (Democracy Now, Aug. 21)

Since the health care industry, Big Oil and other big-business 
industries began artificially manufacturing "grassroots" political 
opposition to the Obama program, Freedomworks and Americans for 
Prosperity have been catapulted into the national spotlight. They have 
gone from behind-the-scenes networking and sporadic public activities to 
mobilizing demonstrations on a national scale.

Such organizations can easily be dissolved or supplanted by others, and 
are not a threat in and of themselves. But they are a transmission belt 
of funds and resources, both from the big bourgeoisie and the petty 
bourgeoisie, that are used to create an arena for organizing by 
right-wing groups.

*Right-wing strength exaggerated*

The right wing appears much stronger than its actual representation in 
the population. Millions of white workers voted for Obama. It is 
doubtful at this point that they are being swept into a racist backlash.

The strength of the right is exaggerated both because the ruling class, 
including their media, want it that way and because the working class 
has not yet moved onto the arena of struggle to challenge the economic 
crisis.

Obama's candidacy was predicated on getting the troops out of Iraq and 
achieving a domestic program of reforming the health care system, 
reversing the destruction of the environment, and reviving the 
educational system, among other things. The reforms proposed were mild 
at best.

But big business has been on the gravy train since the end of the Jimmy 
Carter administration in the late 1970s, when deregulation began in many 
areas of capitalism. Then, under Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes, the 
corporations have had a veritable free hand to expand their profits and 
exploitation--facilitated by the destruction of anti-trust laws, NAFTA 
and the repeal of depression-era banking restrictions.

The bosses want nothing to interfere with this system. They are 
determined to push back any reforms that diminish their 
profits--including even the mildest health care reform or restrictions 
on pollution. Hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate wealth are 
ultimately at stake. There is nothing that the oil and coal companies, 
the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and all the rest of 
the profiteers won't do to get their way.

That is their immediate cause for fanning the flames of racism and 
getting behind right-wing propaganda about "big government" and 
"socialism." The right-wing ideologues and the corporations have a 
common interest in promoting such poison.

But all this seems far weightier than it actually is regarding the 
general population. And that is because the working class has not yet 
entered the arena of struggle.

The situation is still at the point where it takes former President 
Carter to acknowledge the hostility to Obama is racism. As New York 
Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote: "Did we really need Jimmy Carter to 
tell us that racism is one of the driving forces behind the relentless 
and often scurrilous attacks on President Obama? We didn't know that? As 
John McEnroe might say, 'You can't be serious.'" (Sept. 19)

While it was progressive for Carter to call out the racism behind the 
anti-Obama campaign of the Republicans and the ultra-right, the 
African-American population and the working class should not have to 
rely on a representative of U.S. imperialism to fight their battles.

After all, as Herbert pointed out, Carter once defended neighborhood 
"ethnic purity" during his presidential campaign. In addition, Carter 
turned his back on millions of poor women, disproportionately Black and 
Latina, when he refused to override legislation banning the use of 
federal funds for abortion. At the time Carter was asked at a press 
conference if this was fair. His infamous and callous response was: 
"Life is not fair." (National Black Network, July 18, 1977)

*Obama and Carter*

The media have pitted Carter against Obama on the question of race. 
Obama has denied that race has motivated the hostility to him and 
attributed it to fear of government. It is easy for Carter to come off 
smelling like a rose because now that he has no authority, he can say 
what he likes. When he was president and had the authority to act on 
behalf of the poor and the oppressed, he declined to do so.

Obama, on the other hand, is caught in a vise-like dilemma. As 
president, he is supposed to represent the overall interests of the 
ruling class. Were he to open up a struggle against racism, he would be 
abandoning his role as representative of the collective interests of the 
ruling class and would become an advocate for the oppressed.

Precisely because he is African American and is president, even the 
slightest tilt in an openly anti-racist direction could be a great 
stimulus to the anti-racist struggle and lead to destabilizing the 
racist status quo. The ruling class, however, would regard such a 
development as a gross violation of his office. Jimmy Carter, on the 
other hand, is not endangering the status quo.

This became evident during the Professor Henry Louis Gates affair when 
Obama said the Cambridge cops "acted stupidly" and was then forced to 
take it back. The fact that the establishment allowed a local cop and a 
local police department to defy the president of the U.S. and to refuse 
to apologize for an egregious case of racial profiling shows how 
sensitive the ruling class is to Obama's tilting even slightly toward 
criticizing racism or the racist police.

In the Gates case, Obama could not even defend one of the most 
prestigious members of academia against the police thug who illegally 
arrested him. Now, in the case of the so-called anti-health care reform 
demonstrations, Obama cannot even defend himself against racism. He is 
in the utterly contradictory position of being the first African 
American to head the capitalist state---which is, among other things, a 
racist state, the same racist state that Carter loyally served when he 
was president.

In any case, the arguments put forward by both Obama and Carter obscure 
the class truth of the present situation. It is the racist ruling class 
that is ultimately behind the town halls, the "tea parties," and the 
arch-racists like Rep. Joe Wilson.

It is the working class that must lead the real struggle on the ground 
to beat back the racist attack. The unions and the community 
organizations should take over the town hall meetings and the streets 
with demands for jobs, health care, housing and an end to racism.

Out of the population of 300 million people in the United States, 100 
million are now people of color. That proportion is rising. The working 
class is becoming more and more multinational, and the long-term 
strategy of the ruling class is to keep the workers from uniting.

Racism has been a prop for U.S. capitalism since the days of slavery. It 
has been used economically to extract super-profits from the 
African-American, Latino/a, Indigenous and Asian populations. And it has 
been used to politically poison white workers and keep them from uniting 
against the class enemy.

But the needs of the class struggle can turn this around. It should be 
remembered that the Ku Klux Klan reached its height during the 1920s. In 
1924 tens of thousands of KKK members held a march in Washington, D.C. 
The Klan spread its influence far beyond the South. It included 
governors, mayors, state legislators and judges.

But then came the upsurge of the working class in the 1930s. The Klan 
showed its anti-union colors as workers all over gravitated toward the 
Congress of Industrial Organizations and industrial unionism. Union 
organizers promoted Black-white unity, a necessity in the struggle to 
organize. The Klan, always an instrument of capital and the big 
plantation owners in the South, turned its fire against the unions.

The KKK opposed the Unemployed Councils; it opposed the Textile Workers 
Organizing Committee, the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, the 
sit-down strike movement, and the class struggle in general. It carried 
out floggings and murders of labor organizers. But in the long run, it 
lost out to the industrial union movement. While it retained strength in 
the South, it was pushed back for decades by the rise of the class struggle.

The road to beating back the racists today is the same as the road to 
beating back the effects of the capitalist crisis--the united class 
struggle and mass mobilization of a labor-community alliance.

White workers must recognize that racism is the tool of the class enemy. 
As Karl Marx wrote 150 years ago in the first volume of "Capital": "In 
the United States of North America, every independent movement of the 
workers was paralyzed so long as slavery disfigured a part of the 
Republic. Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the 
Black it is branded."

An injury to one is an injury to all.

/Fred Goldstein is the author of the recently published book "Low-Wage 
Capitalism."/

-- 
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*Workers World Party
Boston*
617-983-3835
boston at workers.org <mailto:boston at workers.org>
http://www.workersworld.net/boston

*National Office*
212-627-2994
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