Weaponized Whiteness
Socialist Education Project
4th Monday Series
FEB 22, 9pm Eastern

Fran Schor speaking on his new book, 'Weaponized Whiteness'

Fran Shor Participated In The Antiwar Movement While Earning His Ph.D. At The University Of Minnesota. He Taught For Forty Years At Wayne
State University In Detroit, Retiring As An Emeritus Professor Of History. He Is The Author Of Five Nonfiction Books And Hundreds Of Articles. He Has Been A Longtime Peace And Justice Activist. His New AnalyticalBook, Weaponized Whiteness: The Construction And Deconstructions OfWhite Identity Politics is by Haymarket Press, 2020.
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March 22--March 4th Monday Webinar
From the massive women’s march and rally after the inauguration of President Trump to the mass mobilization of Black Lives Matter, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and a variety of electoral, immigrant rights, and labor campaigns, women have played an extraordinary role in progressive politics.

This panel will discuss the centrality of women in contemporary politics, answering the questions of why women are so critical to the progressive campaigns of our own day and, paradoxically, why many women have gravitated to the right.

Our panelists have studied and worked in a variety of anti-racist, anti-misogynist, and pro-worker and pro-peace movements in the twenty-first century. They will discuss the centrality of women in their organizing and why some women have joined their adversaries.

Check out the March Mobilizer for more details.

Jim Campbell, Presente!

By Mark Solomon, Pat Fry, Anne Mitchell

Feb 3, 2021 - Jim Campbell – educator, mentor, socialist, activist, and intellectual – passed away January 30, 2021 at the age of 95.

Members of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, an organization to which Jim devoted much energy over three decades as a national co-chair and organizer, mourn his loss and celebrate his life.

A son of the South, Jim came from a prominent Charleston, South Carolina family whose ancestors were enslaved Africans. He became a Montford Point Marine during WWII after giving up on the Air Corps due to racial segregation. Jim moved to New York City in 1957 seeking a career in acting. He was active in community theatre and was the source of his distinctive voice and projection.

He later began work as a teacher and then administrator in the New York City public school system during the period of community control of schools. Later he became Vice-Principal of the Bank Street School. He retired in 1991 and moved back to his hometown of Charleston where he soon became a well-known social activist and mentor to young people in labor and civil rights struggles.

Jim’s teaching career included 9 years in Tanzania where he taught English and observed the residue of colonialism. He joined in the efforts of the Julius Nyerere government in transforming Tanzania to a socialist society.

As a teacher at the Carl Bloice Institute for Socialist Education over the past few years, Jim held sway over young activists who said they could not get enough of hearing and learning from him during the course of weekend-long seminars on social justice theory and practice.

Over a lifetime of activism, Jim worked alongside some of the most prominent political figures of the 20th century which displayed Jim’s broad approach to politics and collaboration. They included civil rights strategist Jack O’Dell with whom he shared an apartment in Harlem, Malcolm X with whom he had a close relationship, Bayard Rustin who was an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, Fannie Lou Hamer whom he housed during the time she testified before the Democratic National Convention’s Credentials Committee about the near-death beating she received in a Mississippi jail cell for registering Black people to vote, and Bob Moses whom he worked with on the Algebra Project that used math literacy as an organizing tool to guarantee quality public education.

He was a contributing editor of Freedomways, the leading political journal of the mid 20th century with writings by African American political and cultural giants such as W.E.B. and Shirley Graham DuBois who were early supporters and founding spirits.

The past 30 years in Charleston since retiring were filled with efforts to support organizing struggles of the longshoreman’s union, and as a leader of the local branch of the NAACP. He became deeply involved in bioethics, serving as an outside voice on medical ethics at the University of Virginia Medical School, and was a strong voice in ending discriminatory practices against Black women.

He spearheaded a study circle of CCDS activists and friends on the Democracy Charter, a project of civil rights strategist Jack O’Dell, using as a framework the book, Climbin’ Jacob’s Ladder: The Black Freedom Movement Writings of Jack O’Dell, edited by Nikhil Pal Singh. The study resulted in an educational booklet published by CCDS, The Struggle for a Substantive Democracy: An Organizing Framework and Study Guide for Activists. 

Jim’s papers are archived at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston. Last year, the Avery Center awarded the James Campbell Student Leadership Scholarship to several young people, a recognition of Jim’s strong force and influence with youth, his resolute and unwavering devotion to education and social justice.

The family will hold a memorial July 31, 2021.
CCDS Members Remember Jim

Carl Davidson: “What a powerful example he set for all of us. a life well lived. My solidarity in the sorrows of his family and his friends and comrades, of whom there were many.”

Ira Grouper: I was privileged to have spoken with Jim on numerous occasions, by phone and in person I have known many very intelligent Marxists; Jim stood out as brilliant. Two quotes from Brecht are appropriate, in relation to Jim, and forgive the male-only references:
A rich man and a poor man, there they stood,
And judged each other as best they could.    
The poor man said, his voice a low pitch,
If I were not poor you’d not be rich.    
"There are men who struggle for a day and they are good. There are men who struggle for a year and they are better. There are men who struggle many years, and they are better still. But there are those who struggle all their lives: These are the indispensable ones."
Meta VanSickle: I am only going to write about two aspects of my work, or maybe I should say, the work Jim did to help me on a journey to find my place in an education world where I did not fit.

He was a constant and consummate mentor. His constant expression of a high degree of skill and flair always gave me ideas to work with and think through to better solutions. When I started in my job as a professor, the actions of school personnel were a mystery to me. I could not understand how people within a schooling system could be so demeaning of others not like themselves. Students who were perfectly capable of learning were being left behind because they were described in terms of race/class/gender and other intersections of society in the most negative ways. Jim always talked about these negative intersections as the “state replicating the state.” To ensure a state replicates its social order then a caste system must be adhered to. In our country the lowest caste is based on physical appear or degree of “blackness”. The black an individual is the lower they fall in the caste system. The system is of course complex and requires compliance for it to work. The more privileged caste must play a certain role like an actor in a play. The subjugated have their role to play. Fortunately for me, I watched Jim break the mold and not play the part society had assigned to him. It gave me ideas for not playing the roles that were assigned to me.

Until the day he died, he reminded me that things take “revolutionary patience.” While I have become more adept at seeing and hearing the inequities and less than humane treatment of other, I am still learning to voice the identifying features or in other words learning to describe them in ways others can hear and accept. He taught me that that passion about an issue is crucial and that being able to identify and describe it equally important. The next step is to speak to the truth often and clearly. Over time others will come to understand if we persist, ask questions that cause others to think, and find ways to express our judgements to seek a better more equitable and humane world. A world where your character, intellect and social aspects hold positive/kind/hopeful expectations. A world where opportunity doors remain open and possible.

Jim, I will love you as a powerful mentor until the day I die. May your “ha” have joined the atoms of positive life in the universe.
Donna Dewitt: Early in my tenure as SC AFL-CIO President I found a true labor activist in Jim Campbell. We began a study group with progressive young students at College of Charleston. We met at Mr. Campbell's home and when you walked in there was always a big pot of beans and another of rice cooking on the stove. They were both deliciously seasoned with herbs. Everyone would grab a bowl and sit around as Mr. Campbell presented on issues facing the day and their historical relevance. We would anticipate the emphasis of his remarks when he would raise an eyebrow and rub his hands together. The students would sit for hours asking questions and discussing new activities to undertake. One of these was the Algebra Project which was implemented in schools near Charleston's coast. There was so much to learn from Mr. Campbell. After many of his friends encouraged him to document his life's work we were delighted to know he made those arrangements.
Mr. Campbell was always there to support actions of the students and working people. He endowed us with his great knowledge and we will hold his memory dear to us
Marilyn Albert: Jim lived a fascinating and very long life. There was a period when I thought he had stopped aging.

Jim once invited me to come to Charleston to speak to the CCDS-oriented group he had built. I stayed at his house for a couple days, in what he called "Charlene's room".

Being a long time activist in the hospital workers' union, Local 1199, I knew the history of the 1969 Charleston hospital workers' strike, led by a worker named Mary Moultrie - a Licensed Practical Nurse who was classified by the hospital as a Nursing Assistant.

I told Jim I would love to meet Mary Moultrie if she were still alive. He said, "I know Mary. I know where she hangs out." I said, "Ohh, I would LOVE to meet her!" So we took off in my car and drove all over Charleston looking for Mary - we went to a community center where she was active, but had missed her. We then went to the Medical College Hospital- the hospital where the strike took place. Surprisingly the Medical College had, hanging in its lobby, posters from Local 1199's Bread and Roses Program! That made my day, despite that I had not met Mary Moultrie.

Will miss Jim and his periodic email missives on all kinds of subjects. A life very well lived.

(Thanks to the College of Charleston and the South Carolina Progressive Network for photos)
A Manufacturinfg Renissance--Ther Path to a New Green Deal

By Alan Minsky, Executive Director – Progressive Democrats of America
From https://pdamerica.org/ (Carl Davidson, Randy and Tina Shanon also worked on this)
PDA, Progressive Democrats of America, is proposing an expansion of our core agenda to include a manufacturing revival.

We recognize that a central element of the neoliberal austerity attack on the American people is the destruction of our manufacturing base and our powerful industrial unions.

PDA is calling upon the progressive movement to recognize the critical importance of reviving the manufacturing sector as a cornerstone for the Green New Deal.

We envision a manufacturing revival fully in accord with our commitment to a “Keep it in the Ground” No Fossil Fuels policy. Indeed, a manufacturing revival is exactly what is needed to build our green energy capacity and cease our reliance on fossil fuels.

Of course, we also must provide a truly just transition for workers in the oil and gas industries; something that will be facilitated by this recommitment to domestic manufacturing.

We see all of this as necessary for establishing the economic and social basis for an expansion of democracy. PDA intends for this development to be economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable and restorative. It will not be a new project for maximizing the wealth of a few, but for building prosperity and security for the multi-racial working class.

In this effort we seek support, cooperation, and leadership from the labor movement. PDA seeks a partnership with trade unions due to their strategic position in production, their history of mobilizing community support, and their political influence.

A. Following the Great Depression, American workers enjoyed a social contract with a strong central government guided by Keynesian economic policy and an expanding industrial base with a global reach. By the 1950s, manufacturing was almost 30% of GDP. Industrial communities were stable and vibrant.

B. The private sector—with government support—oversaw the development of our industrial base, making the decisions on what sectors to develop and retain, the products to produce, the use of technologies, and the terms of engaging the labor market.

C. The labor movement and the government provided a more equitable distribution of wealth as well as good working conditions. The underlying assumption of that era was that the drive for profit and the private accumulation of wealth would be a tide that would lift enough boats to sustain political and economic stability as well as ensure global dominance.

The Low Road: Manufacturers and Investors Violate the Social Contract:

A. With the emergence of new information technologies, opportunities to generate high rates of profit in the short term dramatically expanded. Capital maximized profits by globalizing production. Dismissing the traditional strategies for wealth accumulation David Roderick, CEO of US Steel, famously claimed that “I’m in business to make money, not steel.” His decision to close US Steel South Works devastated the communities on the South Side of Chicago as well as diminshing our productive capacity.

B. Powerful sections of the financial community along with owners and managers of the manufacturing sector unilaterally violated the social contract. They abandoned their home communities and their stewardship of the productive sector that had been the bedrock of our society. This resulted in the closing of thousands of companies and the loss of millions of good manufacturing jobs.

C. The neoliberal strategy included blaming labor and demanding concessions in wages, benefits and working conditions. Government complicity in the destruction of our industrial base was framed by President Reagan as “government [needs] to get out of the way of the private sector.” Powerful sections of the mainstream private sector shifted to cannibalizing our productive capacity. Manufacturing dropped from 30% of GDP to 11% (on a par with Afghanistan). The decline continues. The few survivors of our manufacturing sector remain at risk. Our goal is to protect what we have and dramatically expand our productive capacity.

Labor’s Dilemma: This dramatic shift in the social contract by manufacturers and finance capital unleashed a widespread offensive against unions at every level. Union membership was slashed by 50% since 1983; unions’ political voice was restricted; unions’ social engagement was dramatically reduced. This required changes in the labor movement’s strategy. The labor movement continues to fight for a more equitable distribution of wealth, improved working conditions, an end to discrimination under ever more difficult circumstances.

If we are to build a sustainable, prosperous, and secure society we propose that labor and our allies strengthen our ability to take responsibility for the creation of wealth—all aspects of producing and distributing products including increasing productivity, embracing new technologies, and participating in management. This dramatic shift requires new responsibilities and new alliances.

1. In Policy: We must fully integrate a new industrial policy with the Green New Deal.

A. Our objective is to achieve zero emissions as we seek to restore our environment—a goal that requires new products and processes in manufacturing.

B. Achieving this goal requires the means for workers and communities that are affected by transitions to have comprehensive economic and social security – a true just transition.
C. As we embrace the use of new technologies, we must make the same level of investment in inclusion of workers, communities, people of color, and women in all aspects of the growth of our manufacturing sector. Manufacturing must be a tide that will lift all boats—not a sector to increase income inequality. Support for a socially conscious hiring and investment policy to correct a history of discrimination in all aspects of society including the labor movement is central.

2. Production: Labor leadership is crucial to the creation of wealth, the redistribution of wealth, and the improvement of working conditions. This requires new skills and new partnerships.

A. We need to embrace capital strategies—exhausting every means possible to control or influence production to ensure the retention and expansion of our Green New Deal manufacturing sector as well as to block the Low Road sector that weakens or destroys manufacturing for short term financial gains. This includes:

1) Actively blocking Low Road practices by management by aggressive negotiations, governmental intervention, community pressure, and direct action;

2) Seeking employee or public ownership of companies;

3) Participating in management to design and implement High Road practices to increase productivity and efficiency;

4) Developing independent business plans in companies whose employees are represented by unions and getting rid of management rights clauses; and

5) Developing and participating in proactive Early Warning Systems that identify potential problems and practices that identify threats to companies.

These are key components of a national industrial policy that envisions a dramatic expansion of manufacturing on a Green New Deal model. A policy can succeed with the coordination of government, civil society, organized labor and those sectors of private industry committed to high end practices.
Edgar Hemmingson –Fighter for Human Justice
Remembered, age 93.

by Knud S Larsen

It has been my privilege to know Edgar for 52 years as a close comrade and friend. When I came to Oregon I was searching for party contacts after my radicalization in Utah and heard Ed’s compelling voice on my phone a few days later. Thus began the closest friendship and comradeship I experienced in my lifetime. Ed became the undisputed leader of CPUSA as we tried to rebuild the party and always led from the front. For me the most attractive quality about Ed was his physical and moral courage. For example, the party held an information booth at the state fair for 10 years amidst harassments and threats. One day I was due to open the booth and it was the day after a US plane was shot down over Soviet airspace. Being prudent I opened only the front part, but when Ed arrived he would have none of it and opened all sides. We experienced smoke bombs and threats daily during the fair, not the most progressive crowd attending. As a result, the fair management moved us out in the field away from foot traffic and other booths ostensibly for “our safety”. We protested to no avail and Edgar filed a suit on our behalf that we won where the state had to pay significant monetary damages.

Edgar had his own airplane and was a master pilot. I experienced that when we flew one year to the party convention back east. One place at an obscure airport the winds were so strong that he was compelled to bring the airplane in with the wings nearly vertical, levelling up moments before landing. Shortly after the victory of the Cuban revolution we flew there with the Orrs, some older comrades. These were unforgettable days as we experienced Cuban enthusiasm and early achievements. JP Morray had given us an introduction to a member of the central committee and when we arrived we saw Fidel greeting the Angolan president who was then visiting Cuba. When we left after our meeting we wanted to cut across to see what was happening in Revolution Square, soon a whole battalion of soldiers came running after us and “suggested” we take an alternate route. I told Edgar he was the captain of the Oregon Red Air Force and I think he liked that title.

Eventually, the day came when we could see the party was mired in authoritarianism and we moved for change. At the following National Convention, the healthy democratic comrades that included about a third of the national membership, but the majority of members in Oregon, formed a new Organization: The Committees of Correspondence (and eventually) for Democracy and Socialism. He played a leading role and supported this organization for the rest of his life, hardly ever missing a meeting.

He also offered to take children up for their first plane ride, in the old days he would have been a barn storming pilot. Ed flew over 500 Young Eagles flights from the Hemmingson Flite Strip in North Albany and from Albany Airport. He took my grandchildren up to Mt. St Helen and dived into the crater. I felt we could almost touch the walls, but he knew what he was doing. Ed was a master of many trades. He was a crack shot and could hit any object at any distance. He knew about guns and could make his own bullets. One of the early years we went hunting here in western Oregon, but got skunked. Not to waste the day he cut a fallen tree into logs and put them in his pickup. I still have one large log left that I will burn next Christmas and think about him.

Over the years Ed and June went to Nevada and got into good trouble protesting against nuclear proliferation. Since Ed wanted to make a statement he violated the space that was off limits and got arrested several times. That was a pattern for his life as he also stood up for civil rights in Albany and at OSU. At OSU he contested his removal when he tried to leaflet during one of the public events. Likewise, in Albany he was removed from the post office for trying to leaflet. I believe he won both cases.

His life was not all about politics. One day 4 plus decades ago we met and he was glowing. “I met a lady last night” he said. The lady was June who became his loving partner and comrade across the rest of his life. We enjoyed their companionship over the years. I remember several trips to Ashland to participate in Shakespearean plays. Later we also enjoyed plays at the Albany civic theater. In later years we had many lunches and dinners together, especially after Ed and June moved to the Mennonite Village. Ed took his time eating because he always had a lot to discuss. You just had to be patient as he usually had interesting things to say. He and June experienced many happy winters in Mexico where they would haul a trailer and spend the winter fishing and visiting with the local people. Ed would bring his tuning equipment and tune pianos for various local clients.

Let me conclude by saying that Edgar’s death is hard for me to process, but I try to think of the many good times we shared. JP Morray summed up his character by saying “Ed had a mind of steel and a heart of gold”. I would add Edgar was a decent man of integrity and purpose who lived a life of great courage.

Our condolences go out to June who experienced the greater loss.
Knud S Larsen
Indiana: West Lafayette City Council
Votes To Support Medicare For All

The council also voted to support climate change action, COVID vaccine recommendation for all elected city officials and solar energy amendments.

By Anna Darling
Feb 1, 2021 - WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) The West Lafayette City Council voted on several hot topic resolutions when it met virtually on Monday. 

One of the resolutions the council voted on was an amendment to the city's unified zoning ordinance of Tippecanoe County pertaining to solar energy. The ordinance created more guidance for accessory solar energy structures, meaning individual property owners who would like to install solar panels to their homes or apartment complexes.

It also created more guidance for a decommission process for largescale solar energy systems. One of the distinctions added is that if a largescale system is abandoned, the city can request to rezone that land.

The Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission also passed new solar energy regulations on Monday.

The West Lafayette ordinance passed unanimously by the city council. Click here to read more about the ordinance.

The council then heard a resolution sponsored by President Peter Bunder committing again to the city's promise to work towards a cleaner environment as part of the Climate Emergency Mobilization program. President Bunder iterated to the council that climate change is not an issue that can't be postponed, and the city must make it clear to its citizens, to the state and to the nation that climate change is a matter of urgent public safety.

Next, the council addresses the COVID19 vaccine. The original resolution on the agenda is called "A Resolution To Mandate SARSCoV2 Vaccination For City Councilors" sponsored by Councilman David Sanders This original resolution made it so all city councilors had 30 days to get their vaccine once it becomes available to them or face a $100 fine.

However, Councilman Sanders proposed an amended version that says, "All elected officials of the City of West Lafayette are strongly urged to receive one of the approved vaccines against SARSCoV2 within thirty days of being eligible to be vaccinated, contingent upon the availability of the vaccine."

He said in his remarks that it's important for elected officials to lead by example by getting the vaccine, a sentiment Mayor John Dennis agrees with. This resolution passed unanimously.

Finally, the council addressed Resolution No. 0421. This resolution endorses and urges Congress to support the Healthcare Emergency Guarantee Act of 2020 and the Medicare for All Act of 2019. 

Mayor Dennis said he knows they can't do much to influence national politics, but it's about speaking up for something that could help people in our community.

"I understand that there are people who feel the socialization of our medical system is anti-American, but in all honesty, if we don't start somewhere, nothing will ever change," he said.

The resolution listed some local statistics to put the issue of inequity of health care into perspective. It says, "Before the pandemic, it is estimated that more than twenty thousand residents of Tippecanoe County did not have any health insurance," "it is estimated that close to 2000 Tippecanoe County residents have lost their jobs due to the COVID19 pandemic, increasing the number of residents without health insurance," and, "in West Lafayette, about 12% of children and about 21% of residents between the ages of 25 and 34 live below the federal poverty level, and people living in poverty must forgo needed healthcare because of inability to pay."

Mayor Dennis said many people often must give up needed health care because of inability to pay.

"You look at some of the folks that have been laid off work, folks who are barely living paycheck to paycheck, they are one catastrophic health event from complete financial collapse," he said.

The resolution was sponsored by six of the board's eight current members. Councilors Sanders and Gerald Thomas shared that they had received a lot of messages from community members supporting this resolution. Councilman Thomas shared a personal story of the shock of having to pay for his own heart medicine. 

Councilman James Blanco remembered the periodic times in his own life when he was without health insurance. He said there are times when if he experienced some sort of intense health issue, it would have bankrupt him. Councilwoman Kathy Parker shared the stress of trying to get her child coverage when the child was declared uninsurable because of a preexisting condition. Councilman Nick DeBoer said that real freedom means the freedom to be able to leave a job and not have health insurance tied to it. He finished his remarks by saying this was the easiest and most obvious vote he would make as a city councilor.

The resolution passed unanimously.

News 18 asked Mayor Dennis for an update regarding filling former Councilman Norris Wang's seat on the council. As we previously reported, Councilman Wang passed away on January 17th at the age of 65.

He said there have been several people who have expressed interest in the position, but the successor must come from Councilor Wang's district and must be a Republican. The Republican Precinct Committee will work to choose the right person to fill that seat. ...Read More
Stop the Revival of Sedition
photo: Harriet Ross Tubman

By Randy Shannon | PDA: PA 17th CD Chapter, Treasurer, PA Coordinator, National Board Secretary, and HealthCare4AllPA, Board of Directors

On May 21, 1856 several hundred local slave holders attacked and ransacked Lawrence, KS, a town established in 1854 by abolitionists from MA funded by the New England Emigrant Aid Society. Two anti-slavery newspaper offices were destroyed and the Free State Hotel was burned. The pro-slavery mob flew state flags of SC and AL and flags inscribed “Southern Rights” and “Supremacy of the White Race.”

Republican Sen. Charles Sumner of MA

On May 19th at the Capitol, Republican Sen. Charles Sumner of MA delivered his two-day “Crime against Kansas” speech. “…It is the rape of a virgin Territory, compelling it to the hateful embrace of slavery; and it may be clearly traced to a depraved desire for a new Slave State, hideous offspring of such a crime, in the hope of adding to the power of slavery in the National Government.”On May 22nd Rep. Preston Brooks of SC entered the Senate chamber with two fellow pro-slavery Representatives. Brooks then assaulted Senator Sumner beating him severely on the head as he sat in his desk. The initial blows blinded Sumner and he fell under his desk. Sumner ripped the desk from its bolts and staggered up the aisle blinded by his own blood as Brooks continued the beating. As Brooks beat Sumner across the head, face, and shoulders “to the full extent of my power” his cane snapped. As Sumner collapsed unconscious Brooks grabbed his lapel to hold him up and continue to beat him with the metal head of the broken cane. It took years for Sumner to recover but MA voters re-elected him.

Sumner’s speech had condemned the slave state Senators and Democrat Sen. Stephen Douglas of IL who had authored the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Act repealed the Missouri Compromise that outlawed slavery in the new territories acquired by the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. This Act was supported by the powerful railroad magnates in the North and the Slave Aristocracy in the South. It was signed into law by Pres. Pierce May 30, 1854. During the months long debate some Southern Congressmen brandished pistols and threatened “free soil” Congressmen. 

Frederick Douglass

Four years after Sumner’s brush with death, Rep. Preston Brooks’ SC began a military assault against the US Government at Fort Sumter. John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Sen. Sumner and many other heroic abolitionists had swung the majority of small farmers and workers against slavery to defeat Stephen Douglas and elect Abraham Lincoln President in 1860.

In January 2021, one hundred and sixty-five years after the brutal assault on Sumner, his historic heirs assaulted the US Congress and Senate as it counted the votes of the 2020 Presidential election. For the first time ever, the flag of the slaveocracy flew in the US Capitol. The assault was organized by the new far-right Republican Party and funded by reactionary oligarchs. They elected new Members of Congress that echo the irrational violent behavior of their slave-holding forebears and helped prepare the assault. As the 117th Congress opened, these racist extremist Members are singling out Representatives of color and progressive Democratic members for harassment and threats of violence. Their aggressions are encouraged by the flow of social media death threats and death threats made public by far-right Senators and Representatives, a reflection of the seditious slave-holding cabal. These violent extremist Members are not being disciplined. They have not been censured, or reprimanded, or expelled.

If we look at America for what it is, it’s clear that reactionary anti-democratic forces are continuing their drive to wreck the constitutional government with the January insurrection a prelude. They have selected the Democratic socialist and progressive representatives as their prime target. The goal is to silence progressive Democrats, make them ineffective through fear, and mobilize voters to defeat them next year. Beyond that, assassination is openly discussed and endorsed. Republican Members were recently stopped from carrying loaded weapons onto the House floor when the Speaker installed metal detectors at the entrance for Members.

Progressive Democrats must focus on the expulsion of Members who are threatening and harassing fellow Members of Congress. The priority is a majority vote in the House for H.Res.25: “Directing the Committee on Ethics to investigate…whether…actions taken by Members of the 117th Congress who sought to overturn the 2020 Presidential election violated their oath of office…and face removal from the House of Representatives. 

Beyond this immediate response we should support local efforts to recall these seditious right wingers as well as support any and all challengers. We must avoid focusing on a few individuals and on the moment; this is the resurgence of the dark evil inhuman forces suppressed by years of struggle, but not destroyed. These evil forces are being revived, like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, by massive injections of cash and the ravings of the wealthiest oligarchs in America. Their goal is to establish an authoritarian regime. 
 Rest in Power, Anne Feeney (1951-2021)

She sang for steelworkers, carwash workers, miners, strawberry workers, railroad workers, anti-sweatshop activists, homeowners fighting foreclosure, public transit supporters, auto workers opposing NAFTA, and many more.

February 6, 2021 Alexandra Bradbury  LABOR NOTES

This week the U.S. labor movement lost its best-known and best-loved troubadour: the great folksinger-songwriter Anne Feeney. She died of Covid on February 3, at age 69, with her children at her side. With her fantastic songs and feisty spirit, she made an incalculable contribution to the movement. She is irreplaceable, and gone too soon.

Feeney’s beloved original anthems like “Have You Been to Jail for Justice?” and “War on the Workers” and rocking renditions of classics like “Union Maid” and “Solidarity Forever” are staples of the picket-line playlist. Her frequent touring partners Evan Greer and Chris Chandler wrote:

Starting in 1987–when she was inspired by Faith Petric to quit her job as an attorney and dedicate her life to touring and making music in support of workers–Anne played more than 4,000 shows across North America and Europe. She performed for striking workers on countless picket lines, in union halls, and at some of the largest protests of the last century, including the protests that shut down the WTO in Seattle in 1999 and the March for Women’s Lives in 2004. Her performance at the WTO was featured in the documentary This is What Democracy Looks Like. She organized dozens of tours supporting various causes, including the Sing Out for Single Payer Healthcare tour in 2009, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for strike funds and progressive causes.

Feeney told the UE NEWS in 2017, “I love going to picket lines,” and she could often be found wherever workers were in struggle. She played at a 1982 UE Local 610 rally in Swissvale, PA during their historic 6 1/2 month anti-concession strike against Wabco (now Wabtec). She played at rallies in North East, PA supporting Local 684’s first-contract struggle, and in Erie, PA sponsored by Locals 506 and 618 during national GE contract negotiations. She served as “minister of culture” for several high-profile national strikes and lockouts, including the Staley strike in the “War Zone” of Decatur, IL and the Frontier Casino strike in Las Vegas, both of which went on for six years.

Feeney also contributed to UE organizing efforts at the GE facility in Parkersburg, West Virginia in the early 1990s, writing and recording a song about Parkersburg workers’ struggle for a VHS tape produced by UE that was mailed to every worker.

She sang for steelworkers, carwash workers, miners, strawberry workers, railroad workers, anti-sweatshop activists, homeowners fighting foreclosure, public transit supporters, auto workers opposing NAFTA, and many more. She sang on the steps of Berkeley’s main post office when activists built a tent camp to keep it open. She sang at the 2011 Wisconsin Uprising, and at the subsequent Solidarity Singalong, where activists braved arrests in a daily singing protest in the capitol rotunda.

She sang at many Labor Notes Conferences, and at every convention ever held by the rank-and-file group Railroad Workers United, and she was a regular at the annual Great Labor Arts Exchange. In 2005, she received the Joe Hill Award from the Labor Heritage Foundation for her lifetime achievements integrating arts and culture in the labor movement.

Feeney released 12 albums and performed with such artists as Pete Seeger, Loretta Lynn, John Prine, Toshi Reagon, the Indigo Girls, and Billy Bragg. She was a fierce advocate for more music and arts—and better treatment for musicians and artists—in the labor movement, telling UE News:

I can’t even imagine the civil rights movement without singing. I can’t imagine the early CIO days without singing. Music instills power and bravery. Those kids, sweating in those Alabama churches, singing We Shall Not Be Moved, then walking right out into a barrage of police dogs and fire hoses. It’s the music that allowed them to face all of that, and build the movement and change the world, in my opinion… It will be a more exciting movement when labor arts and culture gets the respect it deserves from labor unions.

After Pete Seeger persuaded her to get more active in the Musicians Union (AFM), she became president of the Pittsburgh Musicians Union—the first female president of any U.S. musicians local. Later she was one of the catalysts who helped form AFM Local 1000, the traveling musicians local, which allowed touring folk musicians to earn a real pension for the first time.

The granddaughter of an Irish immigrant mineworkers organizer, Feeney loved Ireland and its music, and led annual singing tours there. When she wasn’t on the road, she lived in Pittsburgh, where she also co-founded Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. She was a two-time survivor of cancer; to defray her health care costs, supporters organized benefit concerts and in 2016 a tribute album.

Musician, friend, and photographer Bev Grant has compiled a touching tribute video featuring Anne’s singing and photos from throughout her life, including many picket-line snapshots.

In lieu of flowers, her children ask supporters to make a donation in her honor to the Thomas Merton Center, a social justice activist hub in Pittsburgh.
Alexandra Bradbury is editor and co-director of Labor Notes.al@labornotes.org
Len Wallace on Facebook

I am so, so sorry to hear that a good friend and sister and comrade passed away today - ANNE FEENEY. She was such a committed labour activist, folksingers, songwriter, recording artist - a firebrand always ready to jump in, activate others, get working people to raise their own voices. She was there in union halls, church halls, on picket lines, marches and so much more.

I met Anne the first time that I attended the Labor Arts Exchange at the AFL-CIO centre where activist musicians gather yearly. We were sitting next to each other and entered into a long conversation about music and musicians we knew. It turned out that she was a cousin to Roger Redmond, the Irish musician I often performed with. Anne was proud of her own Irish ancestry, By the evening we were great friends and jammed together through the night time till dawn exchanging songs, stories. Over the years we shared the stage and I remember performing at events she organised in Pittsburgh, PA.

She was an incredibly strong woman, full of ideas and attitude to boot. This is a real, real loss to many of us.

 Harry Targ and Paul Krehbiel
(This article discusses the historic decades-long changes that took place in the United States that laid the groundwork for the election of Donald Trump in 2016, and his defeat in 2020. It also addresses the victory of two Democratic Party Senatorial candidates in a special election in Georgia: Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. One day after their victory Trumpism raised its ugly head with thousands of Trump supporters engaging in an attempted coup at the US Capitol building. The analysis below includes discussions of life-altering changes in our capitalist economy that have negatively impacted on millions of people and made changes in politics – including in both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Finally, this article discusses the critically important development and actions by progressive social justice organizations and movements.)   

Our major task in 2020 was to defeat Donald Trump. That task was completed by the mobilization and democratic will of the voters.  The victory was reaffirmed by the election of two Georgian Democrats, Reverend Raphael Warnock, an African-American, and Jon Ossoff, a Jew, to Senate seats in a January 5, 2021 special election.  Trump tried to hold onto power after his electoral defeat through unsubstantiated lies of voter fraud and subterfuge until the inauguration Joe Biden and Kamala Harris  (and beyond). 

Yet, Trump and his followers aren’t going away.  A growing concern is the Trump instigated rise of a violent extremist right-wing movement, that among other violent assaults, invaded the Capitol on January 6 in an act of insurrection that left five people dead. Out of the Oval Office, Trump continues to promote the lies and rally his fascist base, seeking to build an American-style fascist movement to overturn the will of the majority, and impose a dictatorship under his authority.

Progressive and democratic political forces must unify and intensify the fight against Trump and his followers, through impeachment, arrests and prosecutions to the fullest extent of the law, and other measures to isolate and defeat the right.  At the same time, we must step up the fight to build a more progressive and humane society at home, while pursuing a peace and solidarity agenda internationally. Advances on one front will help make advances on the others.  We must also be vigilant, and oppose all roadblocks to this agenda, even if they come from the new administration.  

Planning and action continue to revolve around assessments of the recent elections; an analyses of voters and voting blocs, victories and defeats; and organizing experiences. Conversations involve economic circumstances which have shaped voting behavior; such as massive and growing economic inequality, declining real wages, evictions, medical bills, and the traditions of white supremacy and racism..  There have been debates about tactics, particularly how to advance our grassroots organizing (grassroots groups in Georgia and other states have broken new ground here), new advances in internet organizing, conducting safe mass canvassing, doing deep canvassing, and organizing massive phone calling and texting blitzes. And debates abound about which policies need to be promoted: health care for all, stopping climate change, ending racism and police violence, creating jobs, ending the pandemic, and opposing military spending and imperial ventures.  As we move ahead a top priority must be how best to connect with and organize our base: young people, people of color, women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, the peace movement, union members and the broad working-class into a winning coalition.

Organizing our base must be at the center of our work.  But we must also give attention to our opposition.  We win in society and at the ballot box by educating and organizing our supporters, and by weakening and splitting our opposition.  And one question that needs more attention is why 74 million voters who, after the unaddressed pandemic, economic crisis, racism, sexism, xenophobia and spreading environmental calamity, still voted for Trump?  This was eleven million more than in 2016?  If we don’t expand our base, and connect with some reachable sectors of Trump voters and peel them away from the right, that failure will haunt us in the 2022 and 2024 elections.  And puzzling historical questions need to be answered. How did the country move from Democratic Party majorities in national and state elections to minority status in many states and some national elections since the 1930s?  And more fundamentally, how has the capitalist economic system affected these political changes? 

The 1970s: Transformations in American Politics

The 1970’s was a pivotal decade.  It began with much promise.  In May,1970 the student and anti-war movements reached new heights. Four million students went on strike at colleges and universities across the country. The spark that lit the explosion was the killing of students at Kent State and Jackson State, after President Nixon invaded Cambodia expanding the war in Southeast Asia.   This mass movement of young people was the result of 10-15 years of organizing the civil rights movement and civil rights laws, and a revolutionary Black liberation movement. Also, there was a decade’s long organizing of anti-war and student movements which helped build Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the broader new left. The mass mobilization of young people occurred despite the prior history of the decimation of the left of the 1930’s and early 1940’s by the post-World War Two anti-communist McCarthy period. The state repression of the Cold War era up to Vietnam destroyed the largest and most influential organization on the left, the Communist Party USA, and its influence in unions, among people of color communities, academia, Hollywood, public institutions even the Democratic Party, and political culture in general.
In the early 1970s, there also emerged a progressive grass-roots movement in labor. In 1970-71 the largest number of workers strikes occurred since the big strike wave after World War II in 1946. These strike waves led to winning improvements in wages and benefits for millions of workers, advancing social programs for the larger society, and strengthening the labor movement in society and politics, especially inside the Democratic Party. The women’s movement also exploded across the country in the 1970’s, and Marxist and socialist organizations grew.
Around the globe, many national liberation movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America had won independence from former colonial control. Numerous “new” independent nations had formed the Non-Aligned Movement to shift the global political economy to meet the needs of their countries in the Global South. And, the prestige of the Soviet Union and Communist Parties everywhere was growing, especially in France and Italy where Communists were elected to many local and regional public offices and contended for power nationally. In addition, the United States increasingly faced competition from other capitalist countries which had recovered from the ravages of world war. All of this resulted in a decline in the relative economic power of the United States in the global economy. 
The rise of competing sources of political and economic power around the world led US capitalists and their politicians to pursue multiple strategies to reverse their setbacks, and rebuff the economic and political threats to US hegemony. In addition, ruling elites saw the necessity of breaking the backs of militant workers and youth in the United States. With increasing economic competition from overseas and labor militancy at home, capitalists  moved production overseas to low wage havens. Manufacturing facilities were shut down and massive numbers of good paying union jobs in the US were lost. Working-class communities were devastated. The labor movement shrunk.  Simultaneously, the globalization of production further marginalized workers abroad who experienced lower wages, horrific working conditions, and efforts by state apparatuses to crush labor organizing.
Politically, these policies in the United States weakened the influence of labor and liberals in the Democratic Party, allowing the more conservative anti-labor corporate Democrats to increase their control and freeze out organized labor by embracing the “new” ideology of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism included the rolling back of regulations and taxes on capital and shifting the economic shortfall to the working-class in the form of cuts in social services.  Meanwhile, the Republican Party, historically dominated by the major capitalists, was becoming a more right-wing party under the leadership of Richard Nixon in the 1970’s, and Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s. And the assault on labor was coupled by a revitalization of the traditions of white supremacy which was deeply embedded in US history. 
With the liberals and labor greatly weakened in the Democratic Party little or nothing was done to help millions of formerly unionized industrial workers who had lost their jobs, income and identity. The working class was particularly impacted in what became “rust belt” cities and regions, especially in the former industrial states bordering the Great Lakes, including Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  Left leaderless, many former union industrial workers from these states fell prey to the simple but reactionary and hollow solutions of the right, laying the groundwork for charlatans like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.  All of this, including the increasing crisis of US capital domestically and globally, expanded the influence of the rightwing in the Republican Party. 
Paradoxically, despite a massive defeat of rightwing candidate for president Barry Goldwater in 1964, the descendants of Barry Goldwater, led by mass marketers Richard Viguerie and Paul Weyrich, rebounded and pushed so-called “wedge” issues. These issues played on backward ideas, tending to divide people over guns, god, and gays. The Republican Party moved further to the right. Politicians such as Ronald Ragan in the late 1970s and Donald Trump in 2016 simply came along at the right times to seize control of a huge block of hurting, confused, angry and frustrated working-class voters, and many economically insecure small business people and white collar employees. Many Trump voters included those who had voted for Democrat and African American Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.  The Trump phenomena was an outcome of decades of economic insecurity, the floating of simplistic interpretations of reality, and a resuscitation of the racist past. Examining 2016 voter data shows that Trump voters came more solidly from the middle class – small and mid-sized business owners and some professionals, and upper class corporate and financial interests, as well as a significant number of workers, a multi-class reactionary “historic bloc.”
That is not to discount the racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-working-class ideas that have existed from the earliest days of our country. They are a part of the fabric of our country, promoted daily by nearly every institution of society.  Marx wrote, “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.”  These ideas were ramped up by Trump and his GOP sycophants.   These ideas are very serious problems and must be addressed and ameliorated. They are the central impediments to progress.  Therefore, to build a progressive future, one goal must be to connect with and peel away sectors of Trump voters, especially working-class voters, from his reactionary and racist program and movement, and onto a better path. 

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Trouble in the Connecticut Suburbs:
Revolutionary Road
                  by Andy Piascik

Connecticut’s Fairfield County has for many years been a place of contrasts. It has cities that, even in their bustling heydays, were places where poverty and defeat lived amidst booming factories. It has also historically been a place where both the fairly well-to-do and the richest of the rich live in towns that, beginning in the 1940s, came to be known as suburbs. Both the industrial cities and the green suburbs of Fairfield County have been the subject of much literature, and Richard Yates’s 1961 Revolutionary Road is one of the best and best-known novels about the latter.

         The novel is set in 1955 and is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a couple with two children who live on Revolutionary Road in a moderately upscale Fairfield County town. Frank commutes by train five mornings a week to Manhattan, where he is employed as a salesman at Knox Business Machines. While he is paid well enough to afford a lovely home (April is a stay-at-home mom), Frank hates his job, feels diminished by it and never passes up an opportunity to make fun of it.

         At first, Frank and April are drawn to living in a nice house on a tree-lined street. Before very long, however, they fall into regularly making fun of their neighbors. They come to see there is something hollow at the core of the suburban dream. It becomes important to both of them to believe that they are better than their surroundings, and also to believe their coming to live on Revolutionary Road was a twist of fate they had no control over.

         Both Wheelers had previously lived for an extended period in Manhattan, Frank in Greenwich Village no less, in an apartment where the two of them enjoyed many good times in the early years of their relationship. That experience in the capitol of American bohemia informs the contempt they develop for their suburban town, and out of their unhappiness comes April’s idea that they move to Paris so Frank can “find himself.”

         Their neighbors and Frank’s colleagues at Knox greet the Paris idea with shock, skepticism and not a small bit of resentment. The resentment is not so much over the possible loss of friends and a co-worker but over the fact that the Wheelers, in proposing to chuck it all, make clear what they all seem to know: their well-constructed lives in the comfortable Connecticut suburbs have not produced happiness.

A Kindred Spirit Who’s Institutionalized
         There is, for example, Shep Campbell. Campbell and his wife Milly are the Wheelers’ best friends and they echo the jokes the Wheelers make about their other neighbors and their surroundings. The Campbells have made their peace with their lot, though, even as Shep lusts after April and is completely unable to connect with his four television-obsessed young sons. It is only from John Givings, the insane, institutionalized son of local busybody Helen Givings, that the Wheelers receive affirmation for their plan.

         Frank is never as enthusiastic about Paris as April. He seems aware in a way she is not, or at least is unwilling to accept, that he has “found himself” and what he is is a salesman at Knox Business Machines. Events soon cause the Paris plan to unravel, heated arguments and recriminations ensue followed, ultimately, by tragedy. 

No Escape From Unhappiness
         The Connecticut suburbs play a crucial role in Revolutionary Road. As they were then and in many ways remain today, any number of Fairfield County towns are held up as the ultimate badge of success for an upper level professional family. They are places where problems are supposed to be absent or at least easily solve-able. While it’s likely no one ever believed that to be the case, the toll unhappiness takes is greater because of the promise.

         At the same time, Revolutionary Road is not only about the empty promises of happiness in the Connecticut suburbs. It is easy to imagine similar dramas such as the Wheelers’ taking place in Greenwich Village; easy to imagine because they happen there all the time. Yates seems equally to be getting at something bigger about the emptiness of life in the United States at the moment it had attained, within its very real self-defined limits, the best for the most. Fairfield County represents all that the country as a whole aspired to be in the 1950s, and the people in Revolutionary Road who live there find it is seriously lacking. 

         Not so much as we might think has changed and that’s why Revolutionary Road is still powerful and relevant. Parts of Fairfield County are wealthier than ever, yet unhappiness, perhaps especially among the young, is an ongoing problem. While those problems are not on the scale of young people in Connecticut’s poorest cities, problems that are often questions of life and death, they remain a blight on the American Dream.

Other novels of the time set in Fairfield County cover similar ground, most notably Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and Laura Hobson’s Gentlemen’s Agreement. What distinguishes Revolutionary Road is that it ends in tragedy and defeat. There is no uplifting finale, not even a small whiff of overcoming all the trouble and turmoil, just defeat and death. It is perhaps for that reason that neither the novel or the 2008 film adaptation that starred Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, no less, were well-received.   
Bridgeport native Andy Piascik is a long-time activist and award-winning author whose most recent book is the novel In Motion. He can be reached at andypiascik@yahoo.com.com.

In April Tim Sheard of Hard Ball Press be releasing two sweet children's books, one about an actual 1930's incidence of racist police violence and the teens who fought back, Down on James Street, and For All/Para Todos, about a young girl and her father who leave their impoverished country to come to a land "for all." Look for more next month.
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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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