CCDS/socialist education project Sunday School on China, part II  

December 13th 4-5:30pm ET

Themes of our first program were no cold war on China, US-China relations and China's foreign policy; part II focuses on Chna's socio-economic system, the debates about socialism and capitalism and "Socialism with Chinese characteristics."
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Coming January 25th (January's fourth Monday)

Confronting the current deep Environmental crisis
David Schwartzman will map out a path to a just green recovery, to a Global Green New Deal and an eco-socialist transition leaving fossil capitalism in prehistory where it richly deserves to be. 
David W. Schwartzman, Professor Emeritus, Howard University

(Washington DC, USA), holds a PhD in Geochemistry from Brown University, USA. In 1999 (updated paperback, 2002) he published, Life, Temperature and the Earth (Columbia University) and has several recent papers in Capitalism Nature Socialism (CNS). David serves on the Editorial Board of Science & Society and the Advisory Boards of  CNS Advisory Board and the Institute for Policy Research & Development. He is an active member of the DC Statehood Green Party/Green Party of the United States, CCDS, DSA as well as several other community organizations, especially since his retirement from Howard University in 2012. His book, co-authored with his son Peter, recently was published The Earth is Not for Sale: A Path Out of Fossil Capitalism to the Other World That is Still Possible. World Scientific: Singapore. 

Latest book is The Global Solar Commons, the Future That is Still Possible: A Guide for 21st Century (Free download at:; More readable for activists than our deeply documented more technical The Earth is Not for Sale; Donations of any amount welcome suggested to the Green Eco-Socialist Network,; Review:

Labor helped defeat Trump,
and guard against a coup

By Paul Krehbiel

Unions worked hard to defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, especially in battleground states, and were prepared to take decisive action to prevent Trump from stealing the election and staging a coup. While this is a solid victory, the reality is that organized labor, like the larger society, is divided. While 58% of union members voted for Biden-Harris – compared to 51.3% of the entire voting population, approximately 4 in 10 union members voted for Trump. There are 13 million union members in the US. Biden-Harris beat Trump-Pence by 7 million popular votes, 81 million to 74 million. What follows is only a small sample of the work done by labor.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said union members, turned out in high numbers to vote for Biden in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, the three battleground states that pollsters said would determine the election. Exit polls from NBC News showed that Biden won 61% of Michigan voters from union households, and 62% of Wisconsin union households. A significant number of these union members are people of color.

Labor-People of Color-Youth Coalition Wins

The overall the Black, Latino, Asian and youth vote went even higher for Biden-Harris, nationally and in battleground states, despite massive efforts by Trump and Republicans at voter suppression against voters of color. Significantly, Black voters in Philadelphia put Biden-Harris over the top in Pennsylvania. Black voters in Detroit put Biden-Harris over the top in Michigan. Black voters in Milwaukee put Biden-Harris over the top in Wisconsin. And Black voters in Atlanta put Biden-Harris over the top in Georgia. Latino voters in Arizona put Biden-Harris over the top in that swing state. Among voters aged 19-29, between 73% and 87% of Black, Latino, and Asian youth voted for Biden-Harris, along with 51% of white youth in that age bracket.

Individual unions did massive outreach to voters, especially in swing states. The 2 million member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) made 35 million phone calls, sent over 60 million text messages, and knocked on over 1 million doors to reach infrequent voters in battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, and all the other swing states.

Unite-Here, hotel workers, made 10 million phone calls to voters in swing states, knocked on 3 million doors, and two-thirds of their conversation with voters were with people of color.
State and County labor federations played a big role. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor made 1 million calls to union voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Arizona. I joined a group of union members from many unions at the LA County Federation of Labor parking lot which was turned into a socially distanced phone bank. Teamsters, SEIU, Teachers, Machinists, Labor for Bernie, and other unions were well represented. During the last four days of the election campaign we made phone calls to union voters in Pennsylvania working with the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, where we talked with a high percentage of Black trade unionists in Philadelphia.

Labor pledges to stop Trump coup
Labor in various parts of the country made plans to resist and stop any attempt by Trump to steal the election and stage a coup to hold onto power. Trump has threatened to do this by sabotaging the Postal Service and mail ballots, trying to disrupt the counting and certification of ballots, and using Republican legislators, the courts and vigilante supporters to stop the election. All such efforts have failed as we go to press.

Many in labor saw the danger weeks and months ago and made plans to protect our democracy. A large coalition of unions and community organizations formed, called Protect the Vote. Their plan was to hold mass demonstrations in cities and towns across the country in the event of a Trump coup attempt. A group of unions formed a labor anti-coup network, called Labor Action to Defend Democracy. They pledged to take to the streets and organize strikes and workplace actions if Trump tried to stage a coup. Several labor bodies, including the Rochester, New York AFL-CIO, the Martin Luther King Labor Council in Seattle, and labor groups in western Massachusetts, San Francisco and other locations passed resolutions calling on the national AFL-CIO to call a general strike if Trump tries to steal the election.

Leaders of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor said they will call a strike at the giant Los Angeles-Long Beach Port by Teamster truck drivers and other union port workers if Trump tries to stage a coup. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has conducted strikes at the port in past years to protest apartheid in South Africa under colonialism, the US war in Iraq, and in support for Black Lives Matter and Juneteenth in June of 2020. That port brings in 40% off all goods that come into the United States and does over 200 billion dollars in business.

Paul Krehbiel, a former Teamster and SEIU retiree, was making phone calls to voters in swing states almost daily since August 1. He was coordinator of Los Angeles Labor for Bernie, and is co-chair of the Labor Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, and its national co-chair.
Your copy should address 3 key questions: Who am I writing for? (Audience) Why should they care? (Benefit) What do I want them to do here? (Call-to-Action)

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Union members from many unions phonebanking voters in swing states at the Los Angeles County of Labor. The “No on Prop. 22” signs call for the defeat of a statewide ballot measure that would strengthen employers use of “independent contractors” to stop union organizing. The measure failed.
YUnion phonebankers support Biden-Harris at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, and demand: “Count Every Vote, No Trump Coup.”
CCDS National Coordinating Committee
met on November 15th.

The following are reports from this NCC meeting.

Opening remarks

Time of day, The 2020 Election sum up—
Mark Solomon

Mark pointed to the article by Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher (Organizing Upgrade: ) as very constructive and representing a broad configuration of where we are and where we should be going. By the time all the votes are counted, Mark said, it’s entirely possible that the “anti-Trump vote” will approach something like 80 million. That vote is in many ways the result of four years of hard work and mass movement building, starting the day after the inauguration with a massive Women’s March, showing the important role of women, and particularly to single out the essential role of African-American women, with Stacy Abrams in the vanguard, but also many others. Ideological issues aside, the election of Kamala Harris as Vice President-elect is extremely important.

We could add the importance of young people, particularly the teenagers in the youth March for Our Lives, and the emergence of a vast multi-racial, multi-generational movement against police brutality and white supremacy. We could also point to some important demographic shifts and in last four years, culminating in the victory of Democratic Party forces in Georgia, and to a lesser but still very significant extent, in Arizona, and coming very close to taking Texas. We could point to the growing Environmental movement as a major factor in building a mass progressive consciousness in the country. And finally to single out something of critical importance, the stirrings of labor militancy.

Mark said he hasn’t had a chance to look at all the demographic analyses, but he gets the impression that the rebuilding of the so-called “Blue wall” in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, that there is the sign of an emerging African-American/community of color/Labor Alliance.

All these played a role in the huge electoral victory, but we do have to take note of the 73 million people who voted for the despicable Trump. There was a certain defiance at the polls in the midst of that Democratic upsurge, where the Right showed power that had not been telegraphed in the pre-election polling. It’s important for us to recognize that the fascist threat has abated but certainly has not disappeared, particularly in light of the fact that Trump has knocked out the so-called “professionals” in the Pentagon and has put in a bunch of cronies who would be more likely to support his enactment of the “insurrection statute” should he choose to do so. We have some very serious political and social threats facing us at this moment.

In terms of why there was such a difference between the polling and the election, Mark would posit something that he thinks is worthy of discussion. At the core, the difference was the fact there was a latent expression of the twin evils that have pervaded American society from time immemorial. Namely, white supremacy/racism, and red-baiting/anti-communism. This was not reflected in the polls largely because the vast movement against white supremacy that grew up in the late spring and early summer drove overt racism somewhat into the shadows. That feeling drove many people to vote for Trump, wishing a return to a so-called “white man’s country”. And of course the anti-communism continues to lurk in the shadows, manifested in red-baiting attacks – even upon centrist Democrats.

And now a new administration will presumably take office, with Joseph Biden making soothing promises that he will “govern for all”. The problem with that of course is that the political reality confronting the country requires a broad and universally effective movement against fascism and against the right wing in this country, requires the new administration to take a strong stand against the right wing which is still a very potent force. If you talk about unity that unity has to have political content, has to be unity against the potent fascist threat that exists at this moment. The mass following for Trump is not going to go away. Trump himself might not even go away. The financiers of fascism, the billionaires of the military-industrial complex are not going away. The despicable militias are not going away. Thus “unity” has to be a concrete goal of all progressive and democratic forces to defeat authoritarianism and fascism.

The question is how to fight that. This is critically important. One is to build and consolidate interlocking movements so that as we go forward we don’t make the same mistakes we made after the 2008 election, so that progressive forces continue to be mobilized. Movements to confront the pandemic, link to fight for universal health care, racial justice, labor rights, for jobs, for a peaceful foreign policy and so on. We have to build movements of the left and center combined. We require a coherent and permanent progressive majority, that aims to build a hegemonic Left, a left that has deep roots in communities across the country. We have to develop programs that embraces both the centrist and the progressive forces in our society.

Then we come to some fundamental issues: the relationship between the left and centrist forces in the Democratic Party. To characterize Biden as a neo-liberal is of little help. It fails to take into account the impact of social struggles, of class struggle as it were that has already resulted in advanced programs within the Democratic Party, on jobs, the environment, health care, etc. We need a movement for a national strategy that not only unites forces fighting COVID-19, but fights for an augmented stimulus that is necessary for the survival of masses of people in this country.

Plus we need a deeper movement for Medicare for All, Green New Deal, peaceful foreign policy, ending police brutality But here’s something we really have to talk about: how do we build a coherent, sustainable and effective Left while at the same time having relationships with the Centrist forces?

Number one: building the progressive bloc within the Democratic Party. To the extent that we continue building that bloc, sinking deeper roots into communities across the country, that is a critical factor in influencing the Centrist forces. It takes a certain degree of skill and insight to affect a meaningful coalition that is crucial to defeating the right and moving society in a strongly progressive direction. For instance, the Democrats enacted a fairly progressive program at their convention, but it remained only that, a program not acted on. Biden’s proposal to lower the eligibility age for Medicare to age 60 is something that can be supported, while at the same time progressives must continue to push hard for Medicare for All. We can progress in building alliances with Centrist forces while at the same time continue to strengthen the Left. In the election itself there were propositions across the country calling for a $15 minimum wage, that even won in normally conservative Florida. So it’s possible to push very hard for a Green New Deal, free public education, while at the same time finding bases for alliance with Centrist forces that will in the long run strengthen the Left. It’s extremely important to recognize that the so-called “Squad” has been augmented by two additional voices.

So, that’s really the challenge at this moment. In Biden we have to recognize and it takes a significant degree of sophistication in relating to the Biden forces. We’d better hope that Timothy Geithner, and Robert Rubin and Larry Summers and that ilk are not walking through that door though we have no guarantee of that at this moment. But what we do have is the ability to point out that Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, that AOC, that Ayanna Pressley all won handily in the last election, that those candidates who won election in 2018, not only won re-election but actually increased their vote. And others were added, like Katie Porter in California, which adds up to a realignment that can strengthen the hand of the progressive forces within the Democratic Party, while at the same time consolidating alliances. It’s going to take significant political skill, flexibility and moxie.

A problem we have right now which Mark hopes we’ll discuss is the degree to which the immediate opposition to the centrist forces in the Democratic Party is already taking hold among some of the forces on the Left, around Jacobin Magazine for example, which takes the position that we immediately stake out a policy of opposition to Biden, even before a new administration takes office. He thinks that is a dogmatic and narrow approach which would undermine building a mass movement in this country which is essential to defeat fascism. When you have a conjunction of serious economic and social problems and a wavering centrist leadership, that centrist leadership can be forced into taking strong progressive positions. That was true historically, e.g., with Lincoln, who initially never really opposed to slavery, only its expansion; FDR who took office with the stated intention of reducing the national debt; Lyndon Johnson when he took office was not prepared to support the movement for Black voting rights. But it was the elements of realignment expressed in broad movements with progressive forces leading the way, that effected change in those areas. Biden represents a typical kind of Democratic politics that expresses unwavering allegiance to Big Business, particularly in Delaware with its credit card industry, but on the other hand a guy with a long record of relationships with the labor movement, Mark thinks we must recognize the possibility of moving Biden. If we don’t do that we run the risk of alienating those broad political forces not on who actually voted for Biden and against Trump.

Finally, it’s all hands on deck right now and something we have to give the highest priority to, is the effort to elect the two Democrats from Georgia to the US Senate. Staffing phone banks, raising funds, doing everything we can.

A very important aspect of the role of the left in the coming period is the degree to which we continue to take advantage of spaces offered by the Biden presidency that would allow for solid labor organizing. In the struggle against racism and white supremacy, it’s critically important to build a Black/Labor alliance, this can be a powerful factor in undermining racism.

There’s a lot to do; peace and justice will win, democracy will win, but it will require sophistication, commitment, political depth and skillful cultivation of broad political, anti-fascist progressive alliances throughout the country.
More on the NCC meeting by Ellen Schwartz and Janet Tucker

Discussion following Mark Solomon's presentation (see above)

Jay Jurie noted that looking across the country, looking at the states that went for Trump, some attention needs to be devoted to winning over hearts and minds in those areas that are called “Red”. In terms of narrative, there are competing narratives between the “Blue” areas and the “red” areas, and if we want to unite the “Blue” areas with the Left we have to find a way to bridge that gap. His questioned the “wedge concerns”, like guns, abortion – trying to find the things that unite us and stay away from the issues that divide us.
Mark replied that part of building a progressive majority is having a strong socialist movement, which requires that socialist organizations must unite in this effort. Socialist organizations can best make the connections between reproductive choice and gender equality.

Tom Grogan remarked that Mark had concentrated on Biden’s positions on social and economic issues but not international/foreign policy. Mark responded that it was in his notes, but got lost in the time constraints but that “we should understand that in the United States, Imperialism prevails and will continue to prevail.” This will be covered later in the agenda by Harry Targ.

Steve Willett urged us to work between elections on changing the electoral system – before the next election. And to focus more strongly on climate change, which is a worse threat to humanity than even the coronavirus.

Moving forward

Building the militant minority and
progressive majority- presented by

Paul Krehbiel and Carl Davidson

Carl pointed out that down ballot candidates who ran on a program of Medicare for All or something like it, largely won, and handily. Those who rejected Medicare for All did not. We need to run more such candidates, for Medicare for All and Green New Deal. The Lincoln Project into the Democratic “tent” has pulled the party further the right. We need to unite the progressive clusters in each city and state to promote a progressive platform and candidates.

Paul says the labor movement is a vital part of the militant minority and the progressive majority. The labor movement is open to allies. Even though labor union membership is down, union adoption and work for progressive social justice issues has increased.

International Solidarity – 
Pesented by Harry Targ

Harry Targ has argued that the overriding goal of US foreign policy has been to dominate other countries. However, over the years this has varied with tensions between two factions within US foreign policy establishment – Neo-cons vs pragmatists. Neo-cons are unilateralist, militarist, reject the UN, reject diplomacy, endorse a doctrine of preemption. Pragmatists are multilateralist, muted militarism, accept the UN, accept use of diplomacy to achieve goals, and policies of containment/deterrence.

Harry argues that since WWII U.S. foreign policy has located variously on a spectrum between these extremes. What can we look for in a Biden administration? A research report by the Council on Foreign Relations – “Innovation and National Security: Keeping Our Edge”, argued that the US was falling behind in Technology and Technological innovation. They argued that we had to renew our commitment to science and technology. They make the claim that China is stealing our intellectual property.

In the Democratic Party platform from last summer (aside from the fact that they don’t follow their platform), there are two important issues: 1) Renewing American leadership (American exceptionalism, that we are indispensable). 2) Re-establishing our relations with our allies, reconnecting to international organizations like WHO, re-joining the climate change treaty, maybe return to nuclear agreement with Iran. A return to what Harry calls the pragmatic approach to re-establishing US hegemony, though it is mixed, has elements of both poles. The US pursuit of empire continues! It includes ever-growing military budgets; the pursuit of hybrid wars, particularly the use of sanctions against defined enemies and also, reconstituting a cold war with China as the enemy.

1. A Peace Charter, containing the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence are: mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.
2.Economic Conversion and shifting from a permanent war economy to civilian needs.
3.Opposing the hybrid war strategies.
4.Support movements for international solidarity.

Rising up Angry: there has emerged worldwide opposition to the Trump foreign policy, and a modest return to the “pink tide”. Influence of China in world affairs is growing, and solidarity movements supporting Cuba, Venezuela, Palestinians, is growing. The global contradictions of capitalism make the world of 2020 not conducive to the advancement of US hegemony.

Opposing white supremacy, building a new narrative,
race, class and gender

Janet Tucker and Meta Van Sickle

Meta: the rightwing approach to achieving victory was to air ads that trigger the autonomic nervous system, fight/flight/freeze response. Get people to freeze, stop thinking. Using dog-whistle words, images, could say any kind of lies under cover of freedom of speech.
Janet: We live in a highly segregated society The main places white people learned about people of color have been in trade unions, events such as bowling leagues (Meta), and families that have become integrated. But mostly through the trade unions have the greatest strides come.
The trade unions declining membership and the vast expanding of the precariat, it is very important to pay much more attention to the precariat. This group of workers are disproportionately workers of color, women, and young. Guy Standing called them a “new dangerous class.” . But they are not a new class but part of the working class. This group is the core of the working class today. They need to be organized, placing workers of color at the center. This means organizing the unorganized, organized the unemployed, and community organizing.

But just by bringing workers together in common work while important, will not rid us of white supremacy and racism. We also need to do education that goes beyond common practice. From my experience in KY, one of the strongest anti-racist white women I knew was a low income woman from Eastern Kentucky.. What drew her in was in talking to a black woman she knew and they both had teenage sons. It was a breakthrough when she realized her friend had the same worries that she had when their sons went out at night but then realizing her friend had had extra burdens of worries beyond what she herself had.

It is at these 'ah-ha moments' that people have is where we can begin a deeper discussion race in our society. But we need to take people beyond this ah-ha moment and do deeper education, I have red where 57% of whites voted for trump. We need to have a plan go do education with white workers. As Ash-Lee Henderson said on a recent Frontline dispatch “We need to meet people where they are but not leave them there.” We also need some targeted education among white liberals.

One commentator said that no effort has been made in Appalachia by the Democratic Party which is true. This is particularly responsible for the large vote for trump but also the reelection of Mitch McConnell? The same commentator remembered the strong support Jesse Jackson had in Appalachia. Another difference between then and now is that they were heavily unionized then. Now they are heavily ununionized. Organization makes a difference.
Meta: where school systems have allowed neo-con ideology to take over there is “deficit ideology”. Characteristics include:
Victim blaming, fictional cognitive and motivational deficits.
Oppression (low expectations, limiting possibilities for success)
Temporal changes: archaic beliefs that attribute racial and cultural identity with “low-grade genes” etc
Educability – model that explains based in “educability perceptions” of students. Students “don’t want an education anyway” and then cut their funding. Betsy De Vos did that in Detroit, cut funding to public schools, funneled it to charter schools that closed after sucking up all the money that would have gone to public schools.
Paul Ktehbiel moved that we set up a half day webinar in February to deal with the issues raised here. Steve offered amendment to refer to the Socialist Education Project. Unanimously endorsed.

Membership and Finance Reports
Steve Willett reported that membership seems to have stabilized – at a low level.
Meta Van Sickle showed detailed data, $4739.25 net income for the year.
Committee reports

CCDS Peace and Solidarity Committee reports by Harry Targ
PS met its monthly meeting on November 9, 2020.
1.Duncan McFarland and Gary Hicks signed up our committee to support the effort of the  coalition, a British grouping to oppose a renewed US Cold War with China.
2.PS discussed whether our committee should (or whether CCDS should) endorse a mission statement from We also discussed joining this coalition. After extensive discussion, the idea was tabled until we could accumulate more information about the coalition—its membership, its goals etc. We will discuss this further at the next meeting
3.Tom Gogan gave a report on a very successful October Town Hall meeting of the ‘Move the Money Coalition” in New York. Tom’s report appears in this month’s Mobilizer. Also the Mobilizer has a link to a very impressive, succinct welcoming statement by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. It was agreed this video would be useful for peace work.
4.We heard reports from Courtney Childs on the recently assembled Mexico Solidarity Project, of which CCDS is a member. Courtney has been forwarding the MSP newsletter to members.
5.Betty Smith reported on numerous progressive political activities in the Bay Area including those that link peace and justice issues.

CCDS Socialist Education Project
by Harry Targ

SEP met November 4, 2020
1.There will be a fourth Monday webinar on November 23, Eastern Time, on “Political Impacts of the elections and lessons from the Biden campaign-our grassroots strategy.” Tina Shannon and Max Elbaum will be presenters.
2.A Socialist Sunday School will be held on December 13, 2020 4 pm on China. Duncan McFarland will discuss China’s economic and political development. (This is the second of the series on China).
3.The Committee discussed future programs including continuing the fight against white supremacy, the environmental crisis and eco-socialism, the political economy of gender, and US foreign policy.
4.SEP heard an update from Duncan McFarland on the SEP China Reader which will appear early in 2021. Many articles have already been accumulated and it promises to be a broad a varied array of materials to help progressive understand twenty-first century China.
Racial Justice Committee

reported by Janet Tucker.

This committee is newly formed and has had a couple of meeting. Another meeting will be scheduled soon. This is open to anyone who wants to participate. working on finding a meeting date. Anyone on this call who wants to be on the committee let Janet know. The proposed conference on The Fight Against White Supremacy will be on this committee's agenda as well as other activities.

Veteran Nurse Composes Songs Honoring Hospital Workers

by Tim Sheard

With 40+ years of hospital duty, retired nurse Timothy Sheard has a wealth of experience in the Intensive Care Unit and infectious diseases. When his friends in a New York hospital shared their pandemic stories with him during the darkest days of Spring, 2020, he wanted to honor their courage, sacrifice and loss.

While shut in with his wife in their Brooklyn apartment, Timothy answered a call from his musician son Chris to take online guitar lessons from a colleague in New Orleans. Musicians in that storied city were suffering financially since the pandemic had shut down music venues, without even tourists to tip the buskers in the French Quarter.
The guitar lessons opened up a world of melody, harmony, syncopation and modulation for Timothy. A prolific writer with eleven medical mystery novels in print, he found himself transitioning from fiction to song writing. He crafted songs that honored and recounted the experiences of his friends who were fighting the virus in a beleaguered New York hospital. To the pandemic songs he added ballads about the Black Lives Matter movement and the climate crisis.
Timothy gathered musicians from Brooklyn’s rich reservoir of talent and recorded thirteen songs. The musicians recorded their tracks individually in order to follow Covid-19 public health guidelines. Timothy took advantage of Garageband, the powerful software that enables musicians to produce music that approximates the traditional recording studio technology. The songs were then mixed and mastered by Rusty Mack, a veteran sound engineer in Los Angeles.
Now Timothy had put his songs online for essential workers to hear. He is also offering free performances to New York City hospitals that suffered the greatest trauma in the depths of the pandemic, giving back to the essential workers, and honoring the fallen heroes who succumbed to the virus.
The songs are available from Youtube, Amazon and many other streaming services, as well as from his own web site.
For more information or to interview Timothy, contact him at: or 917-428-1352.

Our Amazing Resource for Radical Education
There are hundreds of video courses here, along with study guides, downloadable books and links to hundreds of other resources for study groups or individuals.

Nearly 10,000 people have signed on to the OUL for daily update, and more than 150,000 have visited us at least once.

Karl Marx's ideas are a common touchstone for many people working for change. His historical materialism, his many contributions to political economy and class analysis, all continue to serve his core values--the self-emancipation of the working class and a vision of a classless society. There are naturally many trends in Marxism that have developed over the years, and new ones are on the rise today. All of them and others who want to see this project succeed are welcome here.

Remembering Chairman Fred 51 Years Later

by Ethan Young December 5th

I was a high school student when Fred Hampton forged alliances with revolutionaries of all shades in Chicago. Then the police and the FBI killed him.

It’s a struggle, 51 years on, to place Fred Hampton in historical context. I read that when Fred and Bobby Rush first teamed up to start a Chicago Black Panther Party branch, they held the view common to black nationalists in the mid-60s — the white man was the enemy. When they talked to the Panther leadership in Oakland they got an earful — we need a revolution, but it’s about class, not race. Of course the party was nationalist — in Huey Newton’s terminology, revolutionary nationalism, as opposed to cultural nationalism (Kwanzaa, dashikis, new value system etc).

Chairman Fred took it to heart. He forged alliances with revolutionaries of all shades in Chicago. He reached out to street gangs and started the Rainbow Coalition which included the Panthers, the Young Lords Organization and the White Patriots whose members had migrated from Appalachia to the big city. For a brief period, he was the paragon of class consciousness in the movement and in the streets, without giving an inch to racism, always accountable to Black Chicago, which is what gave the message its liberating quality. Then State’s Attorney Ed Hanrahan sent his cops in, with FBI assistance (guidance?), and the cowards shot the 21-year-old leader in his sleep on December 4, 1969, also killing his comrade Mark Clark.

The Panthers were a historic convergence of the legacies of the nonviolent civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and the human rights ‘by any means necessary’ left of the movement, Malcolm X, Robert F. Williams, Mae Mallory. While King was a pacifist and Malcolm advocated racial separation most of his time as a mass leader, they both came to the position that liberation was imperative, and it would take more than prayers or witness bearing. It required political action. That meant setting clear demands, like the Panther 10 Point Program. It means building coalitions, seeking co-thinkers and potential partners. It means looking beyond present day power relations, to King’s ‘promised land.’
I was finishing high school at the time. What I learned from those few brief months made me a Hamptonite. I also learned, don’t give the pigs an excuse to off you. Fight for respect by respecting the people! 


(Part one discusses the historic transformation of the Democratic Party. Part two is an updated discussion of the reasons for the Trump victory in 2016. It reviews some of the political activism of the period between 2016 and 2020)

Harry Targ

Part One
Our first task was to defeat Donald Trump. That task has been completed. Our second task is to continue to build a more progressive and humane society while pursuing a peace and solidarity agenda in the international system. A central element of moving from the first task to the second is mobilizing to educate and agitate for progressive reforms and to oppose, when necessary, the new administration if it stands in our way.

Discussions about the pursuit of the second task have begun. Many of these discussions revolve around assessments of the recent elections: contexts, organizing experiences, and outcomes. There has been some discussion of the economic circumstances which have shaped voting behavior--growing economic inequality, declining real wages, evictions, medical bills, and other basic economic vulnerabilities There has been discussion of tactics such as organizing grassroots groups, the internet, canvassing, and calling blitzes. There have been some useful testimonials of personal contacts about talking to voters with competing views, breaking through ideology, confronting fundamentally reactionary attitudes about race, religion, women’s issues, and guns. And there has been discussion of the critical nature of issues that need to be addressed: health care, climate change, racism and police violence, jobs, and, of course, how to respond to the pandemic.

All of these conversations are useful and important as we finally move beyond the elections. However, one set of issues has not been addressed. That is why 70 million plus voters who, after the pandemic, economic crisis, and spreading environmental calamity, still voted for President Trump. Concern is also raised about the losses Democrats incurred in the House of Representatives and the probability of the Senate continuing its deadlock. And despite some progressive candidate victories in state and local elections, red states and counties largely remained red as well.

Historic Changes in the Democratic Party
What seems missing from these discussions on the election outcomes is an analysis that links history and political economy to the changes that have occurred in the Democratic Party from Keynesianism and the capital/labor compromise of the late 1940s to neoliberalism, reflected in the sector of the Democratic Party that gained dominance in the 1980s, sometimes referred to as “The Third Way.”

Looking at the twentieth century, Franklin Roosevelt’s presidential victory in 1932 and three subsequent victories presaged both a transformation of the Democratic Party and public policy from laissez faire to state-directed policies designed to address social safety needs (creating jobs, supporting farmers, investing in public works, and funding the arts (theater, murals, music, historical writing for example). It was assumed that fiscal stimuli, putting money in workers’ hands would jump start the economy. Fiscal stimuli were paralleled by increased government regulations of banking, labor/management relations, and wages and hours. To be clear, the New Deal programs would not have occurred if millions of working-class men and women had not hit the streets to demand them. And also, to be clear, as much as the New Deal programs helped large sectors of the working class, workers of color were disgracefully excluded from many of them. But nevertheless, the thrust of public policy, mostly advocated by Democrats was for positive government. The Democratic Party institutionalized the New Deal, the Fair Deal in the Truman years, and, in the 1960s, the Great Society.

Most white workers, and increasingly Black workers, saw the Democratic Party as their home. From the 1930s until the 1980s, voter studies showed majorities of voters identified with the Democratic Party. And even mainstream Republicans, such as Dwight Eisenhower, embraced workers’ rights to form unions and Social Security.

However, the Democratic Party began its long decline in 1968, with candidate Richard Nixon’s appeal to “the silent majority” and his embrace of a “southern strategy.” Nixon played on growing frustration with Vietnam era protestors and the centrality of the civil rights campaigns in American life. George Wallace became a popular racist third-party candidate for president.
The last gasp of the New Deal/Fair Deal/Great Society tradition was reflected in the overwhelming defeat of populist presidential candidate George McGovern in 1972. Two years later, because of his criminality, President Nixon was forced out of office and his successor Gerald Ford lost the 1976 presidential election to Jimmy Carter.

These political eruptions occurred in a decade, the 1970s, when the United States was experiencing declining relative power in the world, both politically and economically. In addition, the contours of American politics were dramatically affected by the oil crises of the 1970s, the inability or refusal of government at all levels to continue to afford the supports that workers had come to expect, and the radical transformation of production, highlighted by millions of jobs lost through outsourcing and deindustrialization. The dramatic changes in the political economy of capitalism and the increased appeal of racism were reflected in a substantial change in the campaigns and policies of the Democratic Party

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Demanding a Nation That 'Cares for All' Not Just the Wealthy Few, Progressives Unveil People's Charter

A coalition of progressive lawmakers, union leaders, and social justice advocates on Thursday unveiled the "People's Charter," a political agenda intended to outline how, in the midst of overlapping public health, economic, policing, and climate crises that have devastated low-income communities of color most of all, working people can come together to transform the United States from a country that works for "the privileged and powerful few" to one that "cares for all of us."

Politico, which first reported on the proposal, characterized the People's Charter as part of a strategy to push Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to the left if he defeats President Donald Trump, calling it "the latest move from progressives as they prepare to wrangle with moderate Democrats over the scale of new government spending and programs if the party wins control of Washington."

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