The Nicaraguan Inauguration and Beyond

February 28th 9pm ET, 8pm CT, 7pm MT. 6pm PT

Join us for this Zoom event to hear from U.S. citizens who attended the January 10 inauguration of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, and to discuss how we can build solidarity with left and socialist movements in Latin American. It will address the significance of the Nicaraguan election, participation of representatives of other Western Hemisphere countries and peace and solidarity movements, and the future of Nicaragua. All three participants are long time Central American solidarity activists.
Presenters include:
Luci Murphy, Claudia Jones School for Political Education.

Teri Mattson, Code Pink Latin America campaigner, host of CODEPINK's weekly YouTube program "WTF is Going on in Latin American and the Caribbean," and board member of Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas.

Karl Kramer, member of CCDS national coordinating committee.

Sponsored by the Socialist Education Project of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
For more information,
Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
“Patria Libre o Morir” (“a Free Homeland or Death” – slogan of the Nicaraguan resistance to the U.S.-sponsored Contra war)

by Karl Kramer, member of the National Coordinating Committee

Augusto Sandino, the revolutionary leader of the 1930s after whom the Frente Sandinista para Liberación Nacional (FSLN) was named, said "only the workers and peasants will fight to the finish."

CCDS was sent an invitation to the toma del president, or inauguration, of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo of the FSLN, which was held on January 10. I attended as the CCDS representative, and along with members of other organizations from the United States that had long fought against U.S. imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean, was warmly greeted in a manner that you would expect for foreign dignitaries and diplomats, although none of us had any formal role with the U.S. government.

In fact, the Biden administration had boycotted the inauguration declaring it illegitimate and just before it took place launched another round of sanctions to punish the country.

My main take-away was that President Ortega, Vice President Murillo and the FSLN have the widespread support of workers, campesinos (peasant farmers) and youth. Anyone who believes there is a loyal left opposition to the FSLN is on the wrong side of history.

A splinter group had split from the FSLN and formed the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS), or Sandinista Renovation Movement, which now calls itself Unamos. A number of intellectuals and artists left with the split. A couple of prominent members are Gioconda Belli, a renowned poet, and Gabriela Selsa, the daughter of Eduardo Selsa, an Argentinian who wrote a book about Sandino. They are both leaders of PEN Nicaragua. Many intellectuals in the United States have been swayed to support their cause.

Gioconda Belli wrote an editorial for the Los Angeles Times, which ran on November 5, during the Nicaraguan elections. A key line in the editorial is her answer to the charge that people being arrested in Nicaragua are traitors selling out the country to the imperialist United States. "They knew these lies would resonate with historical truths, even though the U.S. has changed its tune vis-a-vis Nicaragua in the last decade and even sent millions of dollars in aid to the Ortega government until the 2018 crackdown," she wrote. So, in the view of Belli, U.S. imperialism is a thing of the past.

I had arranged with a friend in San Francisco to meet with her sister who lived in Managua to get her views of the events of 2018. Over lunch in downtown Managua, she told me that her husband is a friend of the husband of Suyén Barahona, the president of MRS. They witnessed her paying maras, or gang members, from El Salvador at the UNAM, or national university, to appear as students as they launched violent attacks burning public buses, ambulances, health clinics and schools, the very things that symbolize the gains made by the Ortega administration since its election in 2006. It is well known that massive funding was coming from the United States through the National Endowment for Democracy.

This needs to be seen in the context of the new model of hybrid warfare that was developed during the 2014 U.S.-European Union-sponsored coup in Ukraine and used against Venezuela and Cuba. Some of the features are violent street demonstrations, hidden snipers, cyber warfare and mass disinformation, particularly on social media, to create economic sabotage, political instability and conditions for regime change.

An analogy to the narrative created in the U.S. media about the Nicaraguan elections would be that participants in the January 6 Capitol attack were arrested because they are opponents of Biden and presidential hopefuls for 2024. It was pointed out that those arrested had not filed candidacy papers or were even considered as possible candidates by any of the political parties that were on the ballot. There were plenty of choices of candidates on the ballot.

I met with Domingo Francisco Perez, the General Secretary of the UNE, the government employees’ union, which is a member of the FNT labor federation, which includes unions that represent health care workers, teachers, factory workers, construction workers, university professors and administrators, as well as small fishing cooperatives and street vendors in the informal economy. He said that the percentage of unionization in the country was 35 percent of those involved in productive activity. He said the labor movement is strongly supportive of President Ortega and a part of the FSLN. Gustavo Porras, the president of the national assembly, is the leader of the FNT labor federation. I talked to people on a U.S. delegation which met with the Asociacion de Trabajadores del Campo (ATC), the organization of campesinos, who said they were strongly supportive of the gains made by President Ortega. Thousands of energetic and enthusiastic members of the FSLN youth and students attended the inauguration, showing the administration’s popularity among youth which overwhelmingly voted for the Frente.

The inauguration highlighted the presence of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, President Miguel Dias Canela of Cuba, Vice President Cao Jianming of the National People’s Congress of China, and a delegation representing Iran. This represents a multipolar ecosystem of mutual support in which countries can sustain themselves in the face of an onslaught by the United States and the European Union seeking global hegemony. There also were representatives of Guatemala, El Salvador, the two previous FMLN presidents of El Salvador Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez Ceren, Russia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola, Mexico, Bolivia, Belize, Ecuador, and India.

President Ortega recognized on stage as representative of the United States, Brian Willson, who in 1987 lost his legs sitting on train tracks to block trains carrying munitions destined for Central America at the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California. The train conductors sped up the train when they saw the peaceful demonstrators on the tracks, severing the legs of Willson who was the last to jump. Also recognized on the stage were United Steel Workers attorney Dan Kavalik, Luci Murphy of the Claudia Jones School for Political Education, Margaret Kimberly of the Black Agenda Report and Jemima Pierre, both of the Black Alliance for Peace.

Kavalik told me later that because Willson represents such a moral authority in the solidarity movement that he was under tremendous pressure to support MRS. When Daniel Ellsberg’s daughter contacted him, he told her to "fuck off.""
In case you missed it

The Left, Progressives and Social Media-- October 2021

November Fourth Monday: Assessment of COP 26, US-China cooperation and future prospects:
Fourth Monday in September, watch here: IDEOLOGICAL HEGEMONY AND HIGHER EDUCATION
Honor Black History Month
The Black Belt thesis: An interview with Timothy V. Johnson
Daniel Deweese
Platypus Review 143 | February 2022

Daniel Deweese of the Platypus Affiliated Society conducted an interview on November 20, 2021 with Timothy V. Johnson, author of “‘Death for Negro Lynching!’: The Communist Party, USA's Position on the African American Question” (2008). What follows is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Daniel Deweese: Could you say a little about your political history? What motivated your interest in the history of American communism and its relation to the black struggle?

Timothy Johnson: I've been involved in the Left and particularly in the African American movement since I was a teenager in high school. I was involved in organizing around various community issues. Most people my age — I'm 69 — were first radicalized by Malcolm X. I remember reading, when I was beginning high school, Malcolm X's autobiography, and an article that appeared in the magazine Sepia, which was a low rent version of Ebony magazine. There was a line in Sepia that said something to the effect of, even though Malcolm X was a racist, he was not racist in his readings and two of his most liked authors were Karl Marx and Immanuel Kant, two people I had never heard of, so I went to the high school library and asked if they have anything by Immanuel Kant. The librarian brought me the Critique of Pure Reason, which I read, but it didn't have anything relevant to what I was interested in at the time. I went back later and said, “have you got anything by Karl Marx?”, and the only thing they had was a copy of Capital, which I read, and it made sense. If people approach it just as a regular book instead of some real involved theoretical piece, it's much more readily understandable. This was around the time the Black Panther Party was beginning. I read something by them, and they said that they were Marxist-Leninist, and I thought “this is an interesting organization”. I did some work with them around the Ohio area, went to college, and lived in several different cities involved in various kinds of work, but mostly smaller collectives in any given city, mostly based in the African American community and most self-identifying as a Marxist or Marxist-Leninist. In the early 1980s, I joined the Communist Party and worked for the newspaper in California, which is the People's World, which then merged into the People's Daily World on the East Coast. I was a reporter in Los Angeles for a year or so, and then moved to New York to edit the paper's magazine section.

DD: What was the Black Belt thesis?

TJ: The Black Belt thesis was essentially a result of a newly developed communist movement trying to come to terms with how to approach the question of racism and African American oppression theoretically. Of course, they unfortunately were burdened by the Socialist Party's approach, because most of the people in the newly founded Communist Party in 1919 came out of the socialist movement, and the socialist movement had a varied approach. On the one hand, some people thought that the struggle against racism was an important part of the class struggle. On the other hand, you had people that were essentially racist and saw no need to address this issue. A large group of people in the middle said, we need to talk about the question of racism, but we do not need a specific program because, primarily, we do not want to alienate white workers. That was pretty much the Socialist Party position in the South, where they said, if we say anything that speaks towards the equality of African Americans, we are automatically going to lose all the white socialists in the South and a large number of white socialists in the North.

The Socialist Party never came out with a concrete program and essentially considered the issue of African Americans just to be a racial question that will be resolved after the working class seizes power. And then after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the development of the Communist International (Comintern), the newly formed communist movement around the world began to develop positions on what they called the national question, which essentially came out of how to deal with the question of oppressed nationalities in Europe, specifically in Russia, given that is where the revolution took place. At one point, Lenin referred to Russia as a prison of nations, referring to all the various national groupings oppressed by the Russian czar. In some of his other writings, Lenin also referred to African Americans as an oppressed nation. However, he had not done a lot of detailed study of this. It was based on some of the things he had read, so members of the Communist International took the newly formed American Communist Party to task for not having a specific program. Again, because most of those new communist organizations were relying a lot on the theoretical heritage of the Socialist Party, it was considered a racial question. However, they were more advanced than the Socialist Party, in the sense that they took up the importance of struggling against racism and inequality. They just saw it as all subsumed within the general working-class movement.
In the various Communist Party meetings, conferences of the Communist International, particularly the third through the seventh meetings of the Comintern, they spent a lot of time trying to deal with the African American question, but that was also just a sub-part of the broader national question and colonial questions in Africa and Asia, etc. Within the Comintern were three non-American communists who had lived in the United States. One was Sen Katayama, a famous Japanese communist who spent several years living in the South and was knowledgeable about segregation and racism. Second was M. N. Roy, a Bengali communist, who had spent several years in the United States. Third, was Michael Nassanoff who early on had been elected to a top position in the Young Communist International and lived in the United States for at least a year, maybe longer. In addition to that, you had several African Americans who were there attending the [International] Lenin School. This included Harry Haywood and several other people. Those people got together and pressed the U.S. Communist Party to develop a more sophisticated position. They found that the best framework to address the issue is through the framework of the national question. This is also referred to in some of Lenin’s writings, although not in detail.

There had been a number of communists who looked at the area of the South, where African Americans were the majority of the population, yet had virtually no political, legal rights to anything. By and large, they were sharecroppers, with minimal land ownership. Essentially they said that the Communist Party should have a two-prong position. Within the Black Belt — they carved it out of a map looking at counties and their racial percentages, or nationality percentages, to look at the majority area — so then within the areas that were majority African American, those people have the right to either form a separate state within the United States, form some kind of affiliation with the United States, or independence. The slogan was never “independence for the Black Belt” or anything like that. It was always self-determination, meaning those people in that area had the right to determine their affiliation. For African Americans in other parts of the country, the party’s position was one of full political, economic, and social equality.

In that period, adopting that position led to the U.S. Communist Party's greatest organizing of any group on the Left in the African American community. Within that context, they took up the issue of the Scottsboro defendants and turned that into an international issue. They took up cases of lynching and turned those into international issues at the same time in the North. They fought for voting rights, for housing, non-discrimination, employment non-discrimination, for the unions being open to African American workers, and for unions taking positions against racism. An interesting side note is that even though this kind of Black Belt theory originated through the Communist International, U.S. communists, and communists from other parts of the world, it is also something that has always captured the imagination of the African American movement. Particularly the nationalists, because a little after the party announced the position of self-determination for the Black Belt, the Nation of Islam, led by Elijah Muhammad, started in Detroit where the party had a heavy presence. Their position was, essentially, this is the black nation, and if you ever look at Muhammad Speaks, which used to be the name of their paper, one of their demands was X number of states in the South, where black people are majority, and that was directly taken from the Communist Party and the Comintern position. Read more

Interview with Frank Chapman, of National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) as we start 2022

Interview by  staff |  January 11, 2022

Fight Back! interviews Frank Chapman, Executive Director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR).

Fight Back!: One month ago, you held the second national conference of the Alliance. What came out of that?

Frank Chapman: Quite a bit came out of it; but let me first address why it was important to have it. December 4th and 5th was just over two years since we held the re-founding conference in 2019. We held the re-founding conference six months before the outbreak of the George Floyd rebellion. At the time, we realized that the struggle for community control of the police was at the epicenter of the Black Liberation movement.

When the rebellion happened, we could see that the Black Liberation movement had grown considerably since 2012. We had 26 million people demonstrating in all 50 of the United States. This was a national rebellion led by Black people – the largest one in U.S. history.
Fortunately, we were prepared to give an organized response to it because we had a national organization we had re-founded in November 2019. When the rebellion came in Spring 2020, NAARPR called for a nationwide protest with the demands for Justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and for community control of the police. More than 22 different cities responded, with protests involving over 100,000 people.

This was clearly a new page in the history of our struggle. We put the demand for community control of the police on the front burner of the Black Liberation movement.

Fight Back!: What’s happening in the struggle against police crimes nationally?

Chapman: 22 cities came to our Second National Conference, all of which had participated in the rebellion. It was very revealing to look at the report backs organizers in these cities gave:
Toni Jones, New Orleans for Civilian Oversight of Police: The demand for community control of the police has made its way to New Orleans. We just started petitioning, but have been out there every week.

Adrian Romero, Utah Against Police Brutality, Salt Lake City: Police murdered Darien Hunt, permanently disabled Abdi Muhammad, both teenage boys. We fought for a police accountability council, the local legislature blocked it and made it illegal in retaliation, but we have continued to fight, bringing thousands of people onto the streets.

Sydney Loving, Dallas Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression: We led the largest protest in Dallas history during the 2020 uprising, with Black women and families leading the march. This led to the resignation of their police chief for her crimes against demonstrators.
David Jones, Tampa Bay Community Action Committee: Started their organization out of the uprising, raising money to get freedom fighters out of jail, bailed out 70+ people. Marched demanding justice for the 67 people arrested for demonstrating in a public park, got all 67 of those charges dropped.

Shut down a plan to move police headquarters into a Black neighborhood by marching to City Hall and demanding an end to increased police presence. City made a plan to evict over 1000 Black people to “decrease crime in the neighborhood,” we shut that program down, and continue to fight for those people to get housing.

Omar Flores, Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (MAARPR): The NAARPR conference in 2019 gave us direction and certainty of what needs to be done. Taleavia Cole, sister of Alvin Cole, came to the conference, and has been organizing with MAARPR since the uprising. Alvin Cole was a 17-year-old Black child who was shot by Wauwatosa PD. The family of Jonathan Tubby, an Indigenous youth killed in Green Bay, also travelled with us to this conference.

The first march we hosted in 2020 for Thee Three, the three people murdered by officer Joseph Mensa, we got support from the Milwaukee Area Labor Council.

There was a park named after the Nazi Charles Lindbergh, they got this park renamed after Lucille Berrien, Milwaukee freedom fighter and founder of the MAARPR chapter back in 1973. From canvassing in the most-incarcerated zip code, we found people did not want more money going to the police, which currently take up almost 50% of the Milwaukee budget. So, they fought against that budget, and found out this week they took $2.4 million out of MCSO’s budget.

Regina Joseph, Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC): NAARPR’s first call to action coincided with the week Tony McDade, a trans man, was murdered by TPD. The second call to action coincided with the George Floyd rebellion.

Then September 5, 2020, 14 of their members were arrested at a protest We got them out thanks to donations from our national movement. Three days after the action, one of their members was pulled out of his home and arrested, but we got him bailed out. He was facing 10 years in prison, $10,000 in fines, and they beat that case.

TCAC stopped TPD from building a $60 million police station on the South side. City commissioners told them it was a done deal, but we showed up in full force and shut it down, which caused the TPD Chief of police to step down. Three people have been murdered by TPD in 3 months since the new chief took over. We have protested every murder.

Angel Buechner, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J): TCC4J is boots on the ground for community control of the police, setting up CPAC tables in neighborhoods and parks. Angel introduced a new chant: Rain, sleet, or snow, we demand community control!
Jae Yates, TCC4J: We are embedded with the families, and that is the strength of their campaign in Minneapolis. We began fighting for community control in 2017, that’s when they started drafting their legislation. We started by talking with the families about what police accountability would look like to them. We held a lot of community meetings in North Minneapolis in particular, that’s where Jamar Clark was killed. In those forums, we went through the legislation line by line, making it clear why this is the way to get the things people want.

We’re currently collecting signatures for a petition to get our legislation on the ballot, with the goal of getting it on the ballot in 2022. We’ve collected 4000 signatures, on-third of the way to the needed number of signatures

Sol Marquez, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Centro CSO, Los Angeles, CA: We came to this conference with the family of David Ordaz, Jr., killed by East L.A. Sheriff Dept., his sister Hilda, his daughter Emily, and his widow Jazmine. We uplift Chicano victims of police brutality because police violence has to do with Black folks, and it also has to do with Chicanos, Latinos, and Indigenous people.

Justice for Leo Chavez, Paul Reya, 16-year-old Jose Mendez, 14-year old Jesse Romero!
Luis Sifuentes, Centro CSO: Our current focus is on the Sheriff’s Department because we found out there are gangs within that department that deputies are initiated to by executing civilians. We successfully ousted a District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, who refused to prosecute any of these cops. We are working with the replacement, sending a report with recommendations.

Carlos Montes, Centro CSO: In LA we had hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in the George Floyd rebellion. There was a rash of killings in the Black community in LA and also in the Boyle Heights community. The family of Anthony Vargas got involved not only in advocating on behalf of their son, but calling in to get rid of Sheriff Villanueva, and fighting for community control to give power to civilians.

Neal Jefferson, Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC): Led the largest protest for the Black freedom struggle in Jacksonville history in the summer of 2020, over 10,000 people hit the streets on a rainy day. We have worked with the families of Jamee Johnson, Vernell Bing, Kwame Jones, Leah Baker, Reginald Boston Jr., and others.

Monique Sampson, JCAC: We started a campaign called Walking While Black because they noticed a lot of people that were getting traffic tickets were Black people, who were getting tickets for walking off of the sidewalk in neighborhoods where there are no sidewalks. We won that campaign.

Then Ahmaud Arbery was executed an hour and a half away from Jacksonville in Brunswick, Georgia.

Then the George Floyd rebellion took off, and they had 3000 people at their first rally, not including the people in cars

Since then, we have been fighting for a People’s Budget. The JSO [Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office] gets 40% of the budget, and has a 70% unsolved homicide rate.

Jazmine Salas, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR): On May 30 alone, we had 10,000 people in the street and another 6000 in cars. The Uprising is what made it possible to pass our ordinance, Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS).

At the beginning of 2020 we had 100,000 CPAC supporters from every ward in Chicago. When we came to the table to build a coalition for ECPS, we had that backing us up. In City Council we got the support of the Socialist Caucus, the Black Caucus, the Latino Caucus, and the Progressive Reform Caucus, which together was 36 votes out of 50.

We also had this grassroots movement ready to take action, so when we identified 17 wards that were maybes, we hit the ground running in those wards, phone banking, flyering, engaging the community.

It was inspiring to watch that number drop from 17 to 15 to 10 until we had enough votes to pass the ordinance.

Next, we have this police accountability commission, and are working to ensure that nationally oppressed folks, Black, Puerto Rican and Chicano, people who have been impacted by police violence, are ready to run to sit on it.

Anthony Driver, CAARPR: As Political Coordinator for the City and County for SEIU HCII, last year with President Greg Kelley, the question was - how do we get HCII’s 90,000 members on board with ECPS?

HCII sent out 10,000 member surveys almost quarterly to figure out what the members support because we need rank and file support in order to move. Then we got to work educating their members at every meeting and event until it got to the point the surveys came back saying 83% of their members supported community control.

Then we came to the table with CAARPR, lent all our resources to it, and began reaching out to additional labor allies. We got a coalition made of 18 labor unions, over 150 community and faith-based organizations, and over 125,000 Chicagoans.

We were able to pass this ordinance in July, and we have a second round coming up with a ballot referendum that will give greater control to the people.

Fight Back!: The call to the NAARPR conference stated that riding on the crest of the George Floyd rebellion, NAARPR has emerged as a mass movement for community control of the police. Can you tell that story?

Chapman: Here are some more aspects of it: what we have demonstrated in the wake of the rebellion is that Black and brown communities throughout this country are ready to take up this fight. They’re sick and tired of the police tyranny going on in their communities, and able, willing and ready to engage in the struggle for community control of the police.

What our branches and allies have done is to reach out to these communities, particularly families that have been victimized by the police, and have begun to organize mass movements in these cities to bring about community control of the police. This is a very welcome development. It demonstrates that what has been going on in Chicago and Minneapolis is also going on in the nation.

Everywhere throughout this country, the police are actively engaged in a conspiracy to either stop the Black Liberation movement from happening at all, or to squash it where it has emerged. We must continue to organize and be prepared to wage the struggle for community control of the police. This is a very important democratic demand of our people. Read more
From the CCDS Socialist Education Project...
A China Reader

Edited by Duncan McFarland

A project of the CCDS Socialist Education Project and Online University of the Left

244 pages, $20 (discounts available for quantity), order at :

The book is a selection of essays offering keen insight into the nature of China and its social system, its internal debates, and its history. It includes several articles on the US and China and the growing efforts of friendship between the Chinese and American peoples.

Click here for the Table of Contents

Taking Down White Supremacy 

A Reader on Multiracial and Multinational Unity 

Edited by the CCDS
Socialist Education Project

166 pages, $12.50 (discounts available for quantity), order at :

This collection of 20 essays brings together a variety of articles-theoretical, historical, and experiential-that address multi-racial, multi-national unity. The book provides examples theoretically and historically, of efforts to build multi-racial unity in the twentieth century.

      Click here for the Table of contents

Sleepwalking to Disaster

by Jay D. Jurie

Later this year the midterm elections will determine whether the Democratic Party will lose control of the US Senate, the House, or both. A loss of either would significantly advance the Republican Party drive to create a one-party state along with a neo-fascist seizure of power. If such success was followed by a Trump victory in 2024, or the victory of an even more capable neo-fascist, such a takeover would virtually be guaranteed.

Already underway is a reconfiguration of a wide variety of public policies by state governments under the control of Republican governors and/or supermajority legislatures. Besides standard Republican goals denying worker and reproductive rights, more corporate welfare for the wealthy, and so on, the ante has been upped by the Republican conversion into a de facto neo-fascist party. More recently we've seen measures that directly assault democracy, the democratic process and institutions. These include voter suppression, the designation of false slates of electors, and the substitution of far right loyalists for conventional election officials, among others. 

Cementing such a transformation into place would produce drastically severe consequences for progressive organizations, campaigns, and ideals along with the restructuring and disruption of the daily lives of millions of US citizens and residents. For the neo-fascist project to succeed, more in the US would need to be persuaded to get on board and support changes brought about, as many doubtlessly would. Others who are not in accord, or who resist these changes, will find themselves subject to active repression, including quite possibly detention and violent reprisals.

Yet many, including progressives, continue to go about their normal routine oblivious to this looming threat. Much of what the progressive agenda seeks to advance will of necessity have to be put on sustained hold if such events were to come to pass. There will be little or no chance to pass, enact, or administer legislation or other measures that vitally affect the lives and well-being of millions and our environment.  It has not registered with the public at large what these changes would mean to their routines and aspirations, which for those not in accord with them, would prove extreme and highly undesirable.  

We have two urgent responsibilities at this moment. First, regardless of other issues we may be pursuing, we must add significant electoral involvement to our "must do" list. In some instances we can use the electoral dilemma to advance our causes de jour, so the two might dovetail. In other words, we don't have to drop what we're doing to rush over to do electoral work. But to the extent that work is not on our current agenda, it is incumbent upon us to make it so, or, to prioritize it if need be.

The important second task is to consider what we might do in the aftermath of a possible neo-fascist victory. What will we need to survive, carry on important elements of our work, even if underground, and to mount effective resistance? We do have models to draw upon, about which we should undertake a quick study, and learn more. We need to think through this contingency and be as prepared as possible, to incorporate what we need into our planning, and be ready to keep moving even under what would prove to be very adverse circumstances.  

As Palmiro Togliatti, who survived fascism under Mussolini, taught us in his Lectures on Fascism, "Totalitarianism does not close the path of struggle...but opens new paths (p. 27)."
A Transformative Green New Deal
Requires Inclusive Manufacturing

Without a new approach to manufacturing, we may protect the environment better but continue to reinforce racial and economic inequality.

JANUARY 28, 2022

Progressives who care about the climate, democracy, economic justice, and sustainability need to incorporate a new economic vision into their projects. The progressive movement needs a distinctive industrial policy: a manufacturing renaissance in addition to a Green New Deal (GND). We will not have a sustainable society without a strong manufacturing foundation. Manufacturing is the only economic sector that can generate new wealth for communities currently shut out of access. Advanced manufacturing can build a broad-based working class with much higher incomes and create social capital at work, provide a decent standard of living, and be an engine for job growth.

The new HR 5124 introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) speaks directly to this issue. The bill calls for massive investment throughout the US manufacturing ecosystem and addresses the inadequacy of many of our public schools (a result of decades of underfunding) along with the currently prohibitive costs of post-secondary education and advanced technical skills training. HR 5124 will foster a diverse workforce with the advanced skills and knowledge to design, manufacture, build, and maintain new energy systems and their components and the lighter eco-footprint production and transportation systems of the future. The bill creates the opportunity for dramatic increases in the number of companies owned by their employees and by Black and Latino entrepreneurs by funding programs and policies that lead to greater inclusion of workers, women, and people of color in all aspects of manufacturing, particularly in ownership. Cosponsors include Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Michael Doyle (D-Penn.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Marie Newman (D-Ill.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.).

A vital next step is getting 100 or more members of Congress to sign on to the bill and a parallel process in the Senate. The designers of the legislation—a core team of progressive electoral leaders; advanced manufacturing advocates; trade union veterans; community, faith, and education leaders; and solidarity economy thinkers—have launched the Manufacturing

Without fundamental rethinking of how such a transformational GND will work, however, the default potential outcome is a system that, while it may be less damaging to the environment, reinforces racial and economic inequality. Neoliberal assumptions and institutions would remain in control of our future. Only a Green New Deal that demands a different approach to power relations in the economy will create new wealth for the working class and people of color, shift control of production, and move toward a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable future.

Green New Deal advocates need to be thinking deeply about how the economy actually functions and whose interests it serves. Instead of complaining about neoliberalism and struggling to make it less onerous, we must work to replace speculative and low-road capital (real estate, finance, insurance) with productive and high-road investments in advanced manufacturing: enterprises committed to technical skill career paths, continuous skill development, wages and benefits that provide a secure future, and democratic relations between owners, managers, workers, and local communities. We must also aim to shift control of green production toward workers and entrepreneurs who share our commitment to a truly sustainable and inclusive society and away from a “greener” continuation of the status quo.

Such a radical shift in our thinking requires a deep look into our political economy. We live in the economic wreckage wrought by unproductive owners and speculative investors who accumulate profits but do not invest in the equitable and sustainable future we need. We must work together to form broad coalitions of labor, government, community, schools, and high-road entrepreneurs to gain local control of the means of production—both old and new enterprises. We can drive strategic direction through intervention in particular companies. Such a coalition can shape government policy that supports intervention and provides effective regulation and incentives.

Workers or minority entrepreneurs can take over hundreds of thousands of viable inner-city and rural manufacturing firms whose white owners are retiring. With adequate funding and support, worker-cooperative ownership can succeed by learning from the Union Coop model designed by the United Steelworkers and from the example of the longtime achievements of the Mondragon coops in the Basque region of Spain.

Inclusive capital strategies are critical for achieving the goals of both environmentalists and the labor movement (and others). Environmentalists and labor unionists talk about a “just transition” to new jobs and a new economy, but without a concrete plan of how to accomplish either. Public investment in advanced manufacturing that is democratic, inclusive, and well-funded can offer solutions for a just transition and the foundation for more significant transformations, building popular unity and momentum for change.

High-road, advanced manufacturing is fundamental to addressing progressive goals. While many environmentalists dismiss manufacturing as irrelevant or anti-green, the climate crisis still requires a Green New Deal to transform our energy sources into renewables, design and build new infrastructure, and manufacture hardware—including wind turbines; solar arrays; wave generators; systems of locks, dams, trains, and rails to transport components;a new Smart Grid; and EV charging stations. Currently, US industry and its workforce lack the capacity to produce many of these components—let alone install and maintain them (all potentially high-wage, long-term jobs). For a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable future, we need to manufacture new equipment and products with new supply chains, new skills, and new relations of production.

The labor movement primarily focuses on its own growth and bargaining for wages and benefits within the “management’s rights” framework. It routinely does not contend for power over how capital is invested or what technology, products, and processes are used. We need to bring management rights into bargaining. When workers are owners and stakeholders, neoliberal capitalists will no longer maintain unfettered command.

We must also take on the equally crucial challenge of intolerable wealth accumulation and income inequality through more wealth creation as well as more equitable distribution. We must insist on inclusion as a priority in a renaissance of manufacturing and transformation of the economy. Beyond traditional set-asides for women and minority-owned businesses, inclusion is accomplished through public policy that identifies and prioritizes disadvantaged communities for investment in advanced manufacturing and provides training, financing, and strategic support to ensure success of individuals as well as high-road enterprises. Inclusion in a manufacturing renaissance creates opportunities for the working class and people of color to develop the technical skills, knowledge, and values to guide a revolutionary change in the social relations of production. A truly transformative Green New Deal requires a new paradigm of inclusive advanced manufacturing.

Carl Davidson--Carl Davidson, a New Left writer going back to the 1960s, is currently active in Reimagine Beaver County and Progressive Democrats of America and manages the website.

Bill Fletcher Jr--Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a longtime trade unionist and international activist, co-author of Solidarity Divided, and author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions.

Nina Gregg--Nina Gregg consults with social justice organizations, advocacy groups and educators and is on the Leadership Team of Blount County SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) and on the board of Three Rivers Market Cooperative in Knoxville, Tennessee
Report from the Front: Bristol County for Correctional Justice

By Rafael Pizarro

I was in New York one morning in May of last year, when flowers were blooming and things seemed (incorrectly, as it turned out) to be opening up for the first time since the pandemic, and was on line at the Met Museum with a friend. Then I got a text: the Biden administration was closing the ICE detention center in my county. A group I belong to in southeastern Massachusetts where I live, Bristol County for Correctional Justice, had been fighting the local white-supremacist sheriff over his treatment of people held by ICE since they opened the facility after Trump was elected and created the locally run detention programs. After a riot instigated by the sheriff that brutalized detainees and sent a couple to the hospital, we demanded an independent investigation. Our voices were joined by other community groups and by elected leaders, including our senators, Warren and Markey. This spurred the Attorney General to conduct an investigation that found that the sheriff and his officers had violated the detainees’ human rights. It was closed soon after that.

There would be no visit to the museum (so I missed my chance to see Alice Neel’s first big retrospective). I spent the rest of the day on the phone with reporters and allies. We felt, as I said to reporters and they quoted, “ecstatic” over the closure, especially since the majority of the inmates had already been freed altogether by a federal judge due to COVID (and that Republican judge’s opinion that immigrants shouldn’t be held in prison), or made to wait at home for hearings with a tracking device, rather than sitting in prison. This means that the vast majority weren’t just re-incarcerated, they were let out in one way or another. From an original 150, in the end, only seven remained in custody, at last check.

We celebrated the victory, but as only one stop in our struggle. While the sheriff reserved his worst treatment for immigrants, not surprisingly he’s just as brutal to other people held in jails here, most of whom are pre-trial, and the vast majority of these just couldn’t pay their bail. We have been working to expose conditions at the Ash Street Jail, the oldest continuously operating jail in the U.S. It’s so old that Lizzie Borden had been held there. One inmate told us that he’d been suffering from a hip injury for months and was still waiting to see a doctor. Note: after some inquiries from reporters, he has now been scheduled to see a doctor. Sewage seeps into cells and rats and vermin are common.

Nevertheless, we are very hopeful. Just as we were able to shine a spotlight on the abuses at the ICE detention center, we’ve been able to get very good coverage of our struggle on behalf of others held in our local jails. Much of this is focused on exposing the sheriff. Recently, a national coalition BCCJ belongs to, Communities for Sheriff Accountability, together with Common Cause, released a report on sheriffs who solicit donations from companies they then contract with. That story has gotten a lot of media, including much focused on our local sheriff, who is highlighted in the report.

Most importantly, though, there is an election this year. We believe we’ve found a candidate who agrees with our program and has a proven ability to win elections. We haven’t yet announced our endorsement, but most of us are working on their campaign.

I don’t know exactly where I’ll be stationed when we win that election, but I know I’ll be really tired! It’s been four years of constant struggle. There have been some victories, some progress, but we’re still reaching for the most important goal right now, the election of a new sheriff. After that, who knows? We also lobby for free phone calls, banning cash bail, and other systematic problems. While, as a group, we’re not abolitionist, we are growing and learning as we integrate more and more with the larger correctional justice movement. We hope our work here can also serve as an example to others.
Get an Update on the Medicare for All Movement
in a One Hour Zoom!

Activists with any level of involvement in the single payer/Medicare for All movement can get a quarterly update from the Medicare for All Update Group. Our next meeting will be March 16th , 8pm Eastern,7pm Central, 5 pm Pacific Time.  

Topics for the next meeting are: Fight Against Medicare Privatization, priorities of the national movement, reports on state single payer movements, and more!

Sign up to get the Zoom link in March. Go to to get on the list!
A special gala for healthcare
on metro NY

This letter written to Pat Fry from Mark Hannay, director, thanking her for all the work she did to make this a ​successful ​ event.

Thank you everyone for everything you did to make our online Annual Gala last evening such a success!

Nearly 100 people attended, we heard some inspiring and informative remarks, shared our appreciation of and love to honorees, and got ourselves ready for what lies ahead in 2022.

Special thanks to our honorees that were so inspiring:
*Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), for governmental leadership
*-Barbara Bowen (Professional Staff Congress CUNY) and Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez (New York State Nurses Association), for trade union leadership
*Mary Clark (Citizen Action of New York) and NY-4 Health Care Action, for community leadership
-*Thanks also to Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine for bringing us up to date on the state of the pandemic in our city and what work lies ahead in that regard. In a phrase: “Rebuild, fund, pay attention to public health!”

If you weren’t able to attend, we missed you! However, please keep in touch with us via our website and Facebook page.

If you haven’t yet made a personal financial contribution and would like to:

Individuals can donate here.
Organizations and unions can donate here.

We thank the following groups and unions who joined our Host Committee:

AARP New York State
Anthony DiMarco Health Care for US Fund
Chinese-American Planning Council
Citizen Action of New York
Coalition for Asian-American Children and Families
Commission on the Public’s Health System in New York City
Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU Healthcare
Communication Workers of America, District 1, Local 1102, and Local 1180
Community Health Care Association of New York State
Community Healthcare Network
Community Service Society of New York
District Council 37 AFSCME
Doctors Council, SEIU Healthcare
Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
Greater NYC for Change
1199SEIU-GNYHA Healthcare Education Project
Health Services Employees, Local 768, District Council 37 AFSCME
Housing Works
Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality
International Guild of Cinematographers, Local 600 IATSE
Make the Road New York
Medicare Rights Center
New York City Americans for Democratic Action
New York City Central Labor Council
New York Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
#NYDocs Coalition
New York Gray Panthers
New York State Nurses Association
New York Statewide Senior Action Council
Open Door Family Medical Centers
Physicians for a National Health Program, New York Metro Chapter
Primary Care Development Corporation
Professional Staff Congress CUNY, Local 2334 AFT
Raising Women’s Voices-New York
Theatrical Stage Employees, Local One IATSE
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
United Federation of Teachers, Local 2 AFT
United University Professions, Local 2190 AFT
Westside Federation of Senior and Supportive Housing
Workers Circle

We thank everyone for your financial support of our Gala, and look forward to working with you in our efforts during 2022. Thanks also for all you do to fight for health care for all New Yorkers and all across the US.

In solidarity,

Mark Hannay

Warren Warns 'Corporate Vultures' Are
Circling Medicare on Biden's Watch
Where We Stand Today
Jan 14, 2022 | PDA Blog
by Randy Shannon
Secretary, PDA Board of Directors
PDA Pennsylvania Coordinator

n 2011, Occupy Wall Street manifested the widespread revulsion and condemnation of the 2009 great financial crisis and linked it to neoliberalism. This popular emotional wave came from the organized progressive movement. Then in 2016 Progressive Democrats of America launching a petition campaign asking Sen. Bernie Sanders to run for President as a Democrat. By a 2018 massive wave of teachers’ strikes and the 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrations of 26 million people marked a high tide of popular rejection of neoliberalism. These efforts resulted in a wave of new progressive members of Congress.

Now the capitalist oligarchs are divided. The reactionary camp seeks a solution of intensified exploitation, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia enforced by a fascist-like militia and an authoritarian state. 

The liberal camp seeks to reduce egregious and unique exploitation, raise social assistance, and intensely rationalize the productive process. At the same time, they increase militarism to buttress their weakening domination of the global economy.

The liberal camp is using the internet to deepen control of the production of knowledge in order to gain popular assent to their control. They also want to expand social assistance and give workers a sense of agency to cultivate their assent to increasing consumption. 
The liberal camp is clearly more tolerant of the progressive majority of American voters. Progressives articulate deep aspirations of the people, which helps the liberal oligarchs cling to popular support. At the same time, they retard progressive motion, as they seek to control the reins of political power. 

The neoliberal* policy of capitalism begun in the Reagan Administration intensified exploitation of the people to enrich finance capital, which had become the dominant sector of capital, displacing productive capital. Lower wages, less social assistance, less housing, less manufacturing, union busting, and higher interest rates were part of the neoliberal policy.
Neoliberalism is the response of 21st Century capitalists to the falling rate of profit, the endemic flaw of capitalism as Marx explained. The neoliberal project begun by the Reagan Administration has failed to reverse this trend, only enriching banks and speculators. The Great Recession of 2009 subverted state control of speculation and wrecked the economic and social stability inherited from the New Deal era. 

In 2022 more progressives are running in Democratic primaries to fill vacant seats. This reflects Americans’ view that change is needed. For the near future these developments objectively demand an alliance between the liberal oligarchs and the broad progressive movement. This is not an alliance of mutual compromise but a combination of two enemy camps to defeat a third common enemy.

The ability of the liberal faction of oligarchs to defeat those building fascism depends on the extent of their concessions to the progressive movement. Organizing to legislate concessions that the liberals have made is a key first step to winning alienated workers back to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The progressive agenda is watered down in Biden’s Build Back Better, but its passage requires liberals to enforce discipline among conservatives in their own camp. 

Many progressives have introduced numerous bills in Congress that are much better than BBB. They address many real issues people now face. The prolonged battle and media attention on BBB pushes real progressive legislation further out of view. A broad front of progressive groups must coordinate to push these progressive bills to the top of Congress’ agenda. 

The supply chain issues, the mass resignation movement, the strike wave, the climate crisis, and the covid pandemic affect both the production process, the distribution process, and the service economy. This conjuncture reflects the failure of the current hollowed out government establishment populated by place-holders, unqualified appointees, and grifters. This ineptitude is a consequence of neoliberal policies to “shrink the Government.” The results are becoming obvious during the first two years of the Administration of liberal oligarchs, who seem detached from the urgency of the moment. Too much of the media is entertaining the right-wing charge that the results of neoliberal policy are the fault of the liberal Biden Administration.  

The progressive movement is continuing to grow. It is still segmented and organized among different social strata. At the same time there is a tendency toward cooperation and coordination at the top, especially to elect more progressives to Congress. However, the state of this development may not be advanced enough to prevent a right-wing victory in upcoming elections.

The US trade union movement is seeking to play a more active public role on the shop floor for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. The widespread strikes against the neoliberal two-tier wage system and for significant wage increases is a conscious rejection of former concessions to neoliberal demands made under former Democratic Administrations. This opens the door to a wider solidarity movement. Significant personalities in union leadership are starting to articulate this new militant stance, but are not yet leading the mass of their union members. The UMWA appears to be an exception as they mobilize to pressure Sen. Manchin to support Build Back Better.

This development in the trade unions deserves the all-out support of progressives. This stage of growing mutual support and cooperation among the trade unions with solidarity of progressive organizations opens the door to significant improvement in our democracy, economy, climate, and global citizenship.

Progressive Democrats of America is seeking to build a wider and deeper alliance against the growing reactionary threat to democracy. We are working to politically defeat the militia-backed cult that controls the Republican Party. Both nationally and locally we are turning toward this year’s primary elections of progressive candidates.

“Neoliberalism is a term used to describe the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with free-market capitalism. A significant factor in the rise of conservative and libertarian organizations, political parties, and think tanks, and predominately advocated by them, it is generally associated with policies of economic liberalization, including privatizationderegulationglobalizationfree tradeausterity and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society…”  Wikipedia

Massachusetts Peace Action
International Relations and Militarism Today
Mon February 14
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST

Harry Targ

Member of the Wisconsin Peace Action steering committee, Purdue Professor of Political Science, Emeritus will initiate discussion of these critical and complicated issues. Targ, a long time activist, is current a Co-Chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism CCDS, and blogs at

By any measure the pain and suffering caused by 21st century imperialism is staggering. Millions of people, mostly in the Middle East and South Asia, have died or been displaced by the war on terrorism initiated in 2001. These figures include the untold thousands who have died directly from war and violence in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and elsewhere in the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa and indirectly through “hybrid “wars against such countries as Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Concomitant to war and violence, the 2022 US military budget endorsed by both political parties will exceed $778 billion.

What is the history of US militarism, what Andrew Bacevich calls “the permanent war economy”?
What are connections between the military/industrial complex and the global needs of capitalism?

What are the current sources of international tensions and possible war today?
What is behind US policy towards countries including China, Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba?

How should the peace movement respond to militarism and imperialism today?


Harry Targ 

  We live in a World of Cognitive Warfare A recent Adocument prepared by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)  suggested that “in cognitive warfare, the human mind becomes the battlefieldThe aim is to change not only what people think, but how they think and act. Waged successfully, it shapes and influences individual and grown
up beliefs and behaviors to favor an aggressor's tactical or strategic objectives.”

This NATO document, of course, is addressing the world of international relations but the concept of “cognitive warfare” seems to parallel efforts “to change not only what people think, but how they think and act.” This project animates the efforts of media conglomerates-print, electronic, social media platforms. Changing how people think and act has its historic roots in campaigns to convince citizens to support wars, consume cigarettes, forget climate disasters, and to find flaws in populations because of class, race, gender, sexual preference, and/or religion. The processes of “branding” are similar in all realms of human experience.
Perhaps challenging the process of “branding” should be on the agenda for all those who seek a more humane society. Break up “branding machines.” Democratize the ability to describe and express experiences. And, in the educational sphere, teach students to analyze brands and to evaluate their relative accuracy.
In August 2, 1964, North Vietnamese armed motor boats attacked two U.S. naval vessels off the coast of North Vietnam. The administration of Lyndon Johnson defined the attacks as an unprovoked act of North Vietnamese aggression.
Two days later it was announced that another attack on U.S. ships in international waters had occurred and the U.S. responded with air attacks on North Vietnamese targets. President Johnson then took a resolution he had already prepared to the Congress of the United States. The so-called Gulf of Tonkin resolution declared that the Congress authorizes the president to do what he deemed necessary to defend U.S. national security in Southeast Asia. Only two Senators voted "no." Over the next three years the U.S. sent 500,000 troops to Vietnam to carry out a massive air and ground war in both the South and North of the country.

Within a year of the so-called Gulf of Tonkin incidents, evidence began to appear indicating that the August 2 attack was provoked. The two U.S. naval vessels were in North Vietnamese coastal waters orchestrating acts of sabotage in the Northern part of Vietnam. More serious, evidence pointed to the inescapable conclusion that the second attack on August 4 never occurred.

President Johnson's lies to the American people about the Gulf of Tonkin contributed to the devastating decisions to escalate a U.S. war in Vietnam that cost 57,000 U.S. troop deaths and upwards of three million Vietnamese deaths.

Forty years later, George W. Bush and his key aides put together a package of lies about Iraq- imports of uranium from Niger, purchases of aluminum rods which supposedly could be used for constructing nuclear weapons, development of biological and chemical weapons, and connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

As the Vietnamese and Iraqi cases show, foreign policies built on lies can lead to imperial wars, huge expenditures on the military, economic crises at home, and military casualties abroad.

The American people must insist that their leaders tell the truth about the U.S. role in the world.
Brooklynites say NO to WAR WITH RUSSIA!

Dozens of Brooklyn residents turned out today, despite bitter cold, in Grand Army Plaza. They were there to stand for peace and diplomacy and to reject the Administration's mad rush to war with Russia.

Demanding a return to negotiations and diplomacy, they decried the sending of another half-billion dollars of lethal weaponry to Ukraine which is being debated and fast-tracked in the House and Senate, an action they said would only inflame the situation and make war likely. A giant banner was on display so the hundreds of cars passing by and residents shopping at the Saturday Greenmarket, could see the demands for peace.

After occupying the space in front of the Memorial Arch for an hour, the people walked over to the residence of Senator Charles Schumer. It was noted that he has been energetically fighting for the President's social program of Build Back Better while, at the same time, advocating for more weapons and troops.

Congress has allowed urgently-needed social programs die for lack of votes and funding but rush to support yet another war, displaying "bi-partisanship" for a military approach to solving international conflicts. Today's protests demand a different approach: MOVE THE MONEY FROM WAR TO OUR COMMUNITIES. FEED THE PEOPLE NOT THE PENTAGON!

The Brooklyn Peace Vigil against war with Russia was called by Brooklyn For Peace.
Move the Money Task Force
Would you like to participate in this?
Contact Janet Tucker at
FEBRUARY 4, 2022
Reprinted from Counterpunch

2021 was another banner year for the military-industrial complex, as Congress signed off on a near-record $778 billion in spending for the Pentagon and related work on nuclear warheads at the Department of Energy. That was $25 billion more than the Pentagon had even asked for.

It can’t be emphasized enough just how many taxpayer dollars are now being showered on the Pentagon. That department’s astronomical budget adds up, for instance, to more than four times the cost of the most recent version of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which sparked such horrified opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and other alleged fiscal conservatives. Naturally, they didn’t blink when it came to lavishing ever more taxpayer dollars on the military-industrial complex.

Opposing Build Back Better while throwing so much more money at the Pentagon marks the ultimate in budgetary and national-security hypocrisy. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that, if current trends continue, the Pentagon could receive a monumental $7.3 trillion-plus over the next decade, more than was spent during the peak decade of the Afghan and Iraq wars, when there were up to 190,000 American troops in those two countries alone.

Sadly, but all too predictably, President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops and contractors from Afghanistan hasn’t generated even the slightest peace dividend. Instead, any savings from that war are already being plowed into programs to counter China, official Washington’s budget-justifying threat of choice (even if outshone for the moment by the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine). And all of this despite the fact that the United States already spends three times as much as China on its military.

The Pentagon budget is not only gargantuan, but replete with waste — from vast overcharges for spare parts to weapons that don’t work at unaffordable prices to forever wars with immense human and economic consequences. Simply put, the current level of Pentagon spending is both unnecessary and irrational.

Price Gouging on Spare Parts

Overcharging the Pentagon for spare parts has a long and inglorious history, reaching its previous peak of public visibility during the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Then, blanket media coverage of $640 toilet seats and $7,600 coffee makerssparked public outrage and a series of hearings on Capitol hill, strengthening the backbone of members of Congress. In those years, they did indeed curb at least the worst excesses of the Reagan military buildup.

Such pricing horror stories didn’t emerge from thin air. They came from the work of people like legendary Pentagon whistleblower Ernest Fitzgerald. He initially made his mark by exposing the Air Force’s efforts to hide billions in cost overruns on Lockheed’s massive C-5A transport plane. At the time, he was described by former Air Force Secretary Verne Orr as “the most hated man in the Air Force.” Fitzgerald and other Pentagon insiders became sources for Dina Rasor, a young journalist who began drawing the attention of the media and congressional representatives to spare-parts overcharges and other military horrors. In the end, she formed an organization, the Project on Military Procurement, to investigate and expose waste, fraud, and abuse. It would later evolve into the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the most effective current watchdog when it comes to Pentagon spending.
A recent POGO analysis, for instance, documented the malfeasance of TransDigm, a military parts supplier that the Department of Defense’s Inspector General caught overcharging the Pentagon by as much as 3,800% — yes, you read that figure right! — on routine items. The company was able to do so only because, bizarrely enough, Pentagon buying rules prevent contract officers from getting accurate information on what any given item should cost or might cost the supplying company to produce it.

In other words, thanks to Pentagon regulations, those oversight officials are quite literally flying blind when it comes to cost control. The companies supplying the military take full advantage of that. The Pentagon Inspector General’s office has, in fact, uncovered more than 100 overcharges by TransDigm alone, to the tune of $20.8 million. A comprehensive audit of all spare-parts suppliers would undoubtedly find billions of wasted dollars. And this, of course, spills over into ever more staggering costs for finished weapons systems. As Ernest Fitzgerald once said, a military aircraft is just a collection of “overpriced spare parts flying in formation.”

Weapons This Country Doesn’t Need at Prices We Can’t Afford

The next level of Pentagon waste involves weapons we don’t need at prices we can’t afford, systems that, for staggering sums, fail to deliver on promises to enhance our safety and security. The poster child for such costly, dysfunctional systems is the F-35 combat aircraft, a plane tasked with multiple missions, none of which it does well. The Pentagon is slated to buy more than 2,400 F-35s for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy. The estimated lifetime cost for procuring and operating those planes, a mere $1.7 trillion, would make it the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons project ever.

Once upon a time (as in some fairy tale), the idea behind the creation of the F-35 was to build a plane that, in several variations, would be able to carry out many different tasks relatively cheaply, with potential savings generated by economies of scale. Theoretically, that meant the bulk of the parts for the thousands of planes to be built would be the same for all of them. This approach has proven a dismal failure so far, so much so that the researchers at POGO are convinced the F-35 may never be fully ready for combat.

Its failures are too numerous to recount here, but a few examples should suffice to suggest why the program minimally needs to be scaled back in a major way, if not canceled completely. For a start, though meant to provide air support for troops on the ground, it’s proved anything but well-designed to do so. In fact, that job is already handled far better and more cheaply by the existing A-10 “Warthog” attack aircraft. A 2021 Pentagon assessment of the F-35 — and keep in mind that this is the Department of Defense, not some outside expert — found 800 unresolved defects in the plane. Typical of its never-ending problems: a wildly expensive and not particularly functional high-tech helmet which, at the cost of $400,000 each, is meant to give its pilot special awareness of what’s happening around and below the plane as well as to the horizon. And don’t forget that the F-35 will be staggeringly expensive to maintain and already costs an impressive $38,000 an hour to fly.

In December 2020, House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith finally claimed he was “tired of pouring money down the F-35 rathole.” Even former Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Brown acknowledged that it couldn’t meet its original goal — to be a low-cost fighter — and would have to be supplemented with a less costly plane. He compared it to a Ferrari, adding, “You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays.” It was a stunning admission, given the original claims that the F-35 would be the Air Force’s affordable, lightweight fighter and the ultimate workhorse for future air operations.

It’s no longer clear what the rationale even is for building more F-35s at a time when the Pentagon has grown obsessed with preparing for a potential war with China. After all, if that country is the concern (an exaggerated one, to be sure), it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which fighter planes would go into combat against Chinese aircraft, or be engaged in protecting American troops on the ground — not at a moment when the Pentagon is increasingly focused on long-range missiles, hypersonic weapons, and unpiloted vehicles as its China-focused weapons of choice.

When all else fails, the Pentagon’s fallback argument for the F-35 is the number ofjobs it will create in states or districts of key members of Congress. As it happens, virtually any other investment of public funds would build back better with more jobsthan F-35s would. Treating weapons systems as jobs programs, however, has long helped pump up Pentagon spending way beyond what’s needed to provide an adequate defense of the United States and its allies.
And that plane is hardly alone in the ongoing history of Pentagon overspending. There are many other systems that similarly deserve to be thrown on the scrap heap of history, chief among them the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), essentially an F-35 of the sea. Similarly designed for multiple roles, it, too, has fallen far short in every imaginable respect. The Navy is now trying to gin up a new mission for the LCS, with little success.

This comes on top of buying outmoded aircraft carriers for up to $13 billion a pop and planning to spend more than a quarter of a trillion dollars on a new nuclear-armed missile, known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD. Such land-based missiles are, according to former Secretary of Defense William Perry, “among the most dangerous weapons in the world,” because a president would have only minutes to decide whether to launch them on being warned of an enemy nuclear attack. In other words, a false alarm (of which there have been numerous examples during the nuclear age) could lead to a planetary nuclear conflagration.

The organization Global Zero has demonstrated convincingly that eliminating land-based missiles altogether, rather than building new ones, would make the United States and the rest of the world safer, with a small force of nuclear-armed submarines and bombers left to dissuade any nation from launching a nuclear war. Eliminating ICBMs would be a salutary and cost-saving first step towards nuclear sanity, as former Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg and other experts have made all too clear.

America’s Cover-the-Globe Defense Strategy

And yet, unbelievably enough, I haven’t even mentioned the greatest waste of all: this country’s “cover the globe” military strategy, including a planet-wide “footprint” of more than 750 military bases, more than 200,000 troops stationed overseas, huge and costly aircraft-carrier task forces eternally floating the seven seas, and a massive nuclear arsenal that could destroy life as we know it (with thousands of warheads to spare).
You only need to look at the human and economic costs of America’s post-9/11 wars to grasp the utter folly of such a strategy. According to Brown University’s Costs of War Project, the conflicts waged by the United States in this century have cost $8 trillion and counting, with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, thousands of U.S. troops killed, and hundreds of thousands more suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. And for what? In Iraq, the U.S. cleared the way for a sectarian regime that then helped create the conditions for ISIS to sweep in and conquer significant parts of the country, only to be repelled (but not thoroughly defeated) at great cost in lives and treasure. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, after a conflict doomed as soon as it morphed into an exercise in nation-building and large-scale counterinsurgency, the Taliban is now in power. It’s hard to imagine a more ringing indictment of the policy of endless war.

Despite the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, for which the Biden administration deserves considerable credit, spending on global counterterror operations remains at high levels, thanks to ongoing missions by Special Operations forces, repeated air strikes, ongoing military aid and training, and other kinds of involvement short of full-scale war. Given the opportunity to rethink strategy as part of a “global force posture” review released late last year, the Biden administration opted for a remarkably status quo approach, insisting on maintaining substantial bases in the Middle East, while modestly boosting the U.S. troop presence in East Asia.

As anyone who’s followed the news knows, despite the immediate headlines about sending troops and planes to Eastern Europe and weapons to Ukraine in response to Russia’s massing of its forces on that country’s borders, the dominant narrative for keeping the Pentagon budget at its current size remains China, China, China. It matters little that the greatest challenges posed by Beijing are political and economic, not military. “Threat inflation” with respect to that country continues to be the Pentagon’s surest route to acquiring yet more resources and has been endlessly hyped in recent years by, among others, analysts and organizations with close ties to the arms industry and the Department of Defense.
For example, the National Defense Strategy Commission, a congressionally mandated body charged with critiquing the Pentagon’s official strategy document, drew more than half its members from individuals on the boards of arms-making corporations, working as consultants for the arms industry, or from think tanks heavily funded by just such contractors. Not surprisingly, the commission called for a 3% to 5% annual increase in the Pentagon budget into the foreseeable future. Follow that blueprint and you’re talking $1 trillion annually by the middle of this decade, according to an analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense. Such an increase, in other words, would prove unsustainable in a country where so much else is needed, but that won’t stop Pentagon budget hawks from using it as their North Star.
In March of this year, the Pentagon is expected to release both its new national defense strategy and its budget for 2023. There are a few small glimmers of hope, like reports that the administration may abandon certain dangerous (and unnecessary) nuclear-weapons programs instituted by the Trump administration.

However, the true challenge, crafting a budget that addresses genuine security problems like public health and the climate crisis, would require fresh thinking and persistent public pressure to slash the Pentagon budget, while reducing the size of the military-industrial complex. Without a significant change of course, 2022 will once again be a banner year for Lockheed Martin and other top weapons makers at the expense of investing in programs necessary to combat urgent challenges from pandemics to climate change to global inequality.

This column is distributed by TomDispatch.
William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and a senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor and a columnist for the Americas Program.
CHANGEMAKER PUBLICATIONS: Recent works on new paths to socialism and the solidarity economy

Remember Us for Gift Giving and Study Groups

We are a small publisher of books with big ideas. We specialize in works that show us how a better world is possible and needed. Click Gramsci below for our list.

Standing Up: Tales of Struggle
by Ellen Bravo and Larry Miller
(Brooklyn, NY: Hard Ball Press, 2022) 

reprinted from The New York Labor History Association (NYLHA)

Art Imitates Life

Ellen Bravo has spent more than five decades as an activist. The founder of the Milwaukee Chapter of 9 to 5 in 1982 (part of the National Association of Working Women), Bravo moved on in 2004 to direct Family Values @ Work. She has participated in numerous campaigns for gender equality and economic self-sufficiency. As recently as January 4, 2022, Bravo’s letter to the editor appeared in The New York Times weighing in on a story asking: “What Do You Think You Should Be Paid?” No surprise, Bravo argued that standards should be “clear, fair and transparent and applied equally to all.” Now, with the publication of Standing Up: Tales of Struggle, she translates her experiences into fiction. This isn’t her first foray as a fiction and non-fiction author. Her previous books include the fictional Again and Again (2015) and the non-fiction Taking on the Big Boys, or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business and the Nation (2007), based on her grassroots organizing work. This time, she has partnered with her husband, Larry Miller, also an organizer with decades of experience.

The stories in Standing Up are linked thematically and appear in chronological order, beginning with 1970. For those of us who have similarly spent time as organizers, the book feels like an anthropological field trip into the past. It could feel like a trip to a distant planet for some, if not for the problems that appear repeatedly and still resonate, sadly, in 2022. Almost like an echo chamber – the same concerns and fraught situations confronted the characters in the 1970s: Racism; class inequities; incarceration; ex-convicts and the entry-level, low-wage jobs they are confined to; arrests for crimes that are a result of poverty; people of color being assigned to the more difficult jobs. “Jim Crow? Oh, you thought that was over?”

The stories pay attention to jobs we normally don’t think about; the call centers; the people who make pipe; or process checks; the hospital laundries. What they entail close up, the daily indignities, and the dangers inherent in routinized sloppy procedures that are just part of the day’s work. One example — the contaminants employees are exposed to while working in the hospital laundry. The hardships resulting from the lay-offs and shift work and the havoc they cause in a working person’s life. One character, questioning company policy, says: “Why do we have to wait five years to get sick?”

The stories describe the choices people have to make and their impact, a sick child, an abusive husband; the constant costs of having too little money; the sheer drudgery of doing these jobs and the utter lack of any control over their working lives; the small indignities and the larger practices that play havoc with those lives.

The main theme that runs like a thread throughout the stories is organizing. In the acknowledgments, Bravo describes a conversation with her father, as he dismissed her plan to become an organizer. Countering his litany of drawbacks, she presciently told him: “You’re forgetting the joy.” The stories describe what happens when the people who Imbolo Mbue calls “the deliberately unheard” (as opposed to “the voiceless”) stand up for themselves and others.

The book captures the process in different settings, when people consciously act to fathom and then dismantle the obstacles they encounter, piece by piece. The process of convincing one’s self and the challenge of then convincing others to take a risk and speak up, act up. What it’s like to challenge one’s immediate environment through taking collective action and the changes – the personal epiphanies – that can result. The small victories and then passing it on, finding the next cause, once empowered by the contagious spirit of organizing.

A few of the stories stand out for their fine-grained examination of this process. Two favorites are “We Won’t Let You Pollute Our Playground,” about an inspired bit of community environmental organizing and “Feminists and Firefighters” about the work of advocates during a training session on sexual harassment. This story is pitch-perfect and worth quoting for some of its insights. “She thought of those women whose stories filled her head at night when she couldn’t sleep. What those women wanted was so simple it hurt. Believe us; don’t blame us.” Trying to distinguish between being a passive observer and speaking up, one character says: “It would make all the difference in the world. You know who they are but did nothing to stop them.”

Bravo and Miller’s hopes for the book are that it will nourish those already engaged in struggles and spur on new generations of activists. Combined, the stories are like a cookbook for activists with details of inspired campaigns borrowed from the records of two senior organizers who are happy to share. Outside the focus traversed in the novel, there is another question organizers need to confront. And that is, assembly line by assembly line, workplace by workplace organizing will only get us so far. It leaves untouched the larger forces that have eradicated the American Dream – the dreams of hard work and fairness; of justice and a life worth living. The power dynamics and political equation that have robbed the working-class of so much over the decades since 1970.

Reviewed by Jane LaTour, a former Executive Board member at the New York Labor History Association, Jane worked on factory assembly lines for seven years and took part in many campaigns in the workplace. Her first job in the labor movement was as a union organizer for District 65. She twice served as the director of the Women’s Project for the Association for Union Democracy (AUD). Her book, Sisters in the Brotherhoods: Women in New York City Organizing for Equality was published in 2008.  

The New York Labor History Association (NYLHA) was founded in 1976 by trade unionists, academics, students, archivists, educators, labor editors, attorneys, and retirees, mostly from New York State. NYLHA encourages the study of workers and their organizations and serves as a bridge between past and present labor unionists and academics.
Powered by WordPress and Dynamic News.
James Campbell: A Life To Remember


A tribute to James E. Campbell, a well-known and widely influential leader of the civil rights and socialist movements for the last seven decades. He worked as an actor, writer, and organizer, working with Jack O'Dell, Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, Bayard Rustin, James Balwin, and many others. He served as an editor of Freedomways magazine and as national co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. He passed away earlier this year in Charleston, NC.

Order your copy today here.

Harry Targ

We are living in the midst of fiery debates about the manipulative effects various social media have over our lives. The media portray with justifiable outrage the ways in which Facebook and other electronic platforms project images of reality to serve political and commercial interests. While the methods are seemingly more powerful today, these same media outlets forget that print and old-fashioned television and radio have been manipulating the public mind for decades. And the Facebook monopoly looks a lot like the consolidation of print media (Gannett owns 250 newspapers for example) and a handful of global corporations dominating television and radio.

In addition, we learn that the foreign policy/military/covert intervention complex have been strategizing about new forms of war planning (reference to a recent NATO report below). Along with preparedness for nuclear war, conventional war, hybrid war, and cyber war, we now are engaged in building a capacity for “cognitive war.” The latter refers to ways in which information, symbols, and myths can be disseminated all across the face of the globe. The cognitive warriors draw upon psychology and biology to figure out ways to shape people’s consciousness. The imagery of the “fog machine” in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest describes well how inmates in an insane asylum are blinded from seeing reality clearly.
Insights from Social Science

Some time ago the eminent political scientist Murray Edelman wrote a book entitled The Symbolic Uses of Politics. In it he postulated that most people experience the political world not through concrete reality but through emotional symbols. For example, the classic way in which people relate to their political institutions is through the flag of their nation. Americans viewing the flag see images of men in combat fighting for freedom or men and women standing in line waiting to vote for their preferred political candidates. A colorful cloth with stars and stripes gets transformed in our consciousness into a rich, glamorized history even when the emotive images are in direct contradiction to people’s lives.

In addition, Edelman suggests the ways in which the emotional symbols get embedded and reinforced in the consciousness of peoples by borrowing from anthropological writings on myth and ritual. Myths are networks of emotional symbols that collectively tell stories that explain “reality.” Rituals reinforce in behavior the mythology of public life. We need only reflect on the pledge to the flag that opens elementary and secondary school class sessions in rich and poor communities alike and the singing of the national anthem at athletic events.

Edelman pointed out that emotional symbols (he called them “condensational”) provide the primary way people connect with the world beyond immediate experience. The extraordinary complexity of the modern world is reduced to a series of powerful symbols such as the threats of “international communism” or “terrorism.”

Media analyst Todd Gitlin wrote about “media frames,” that is the ways in which media construct the symbols and myths that shape information about the world. Print media shapes what we read, who are regarded as authoritative spokespersons, and what visual images shape our thinking about countries, issues such as war and peace, trade, investment, and the global climate. Television emphasizes visual images rather than words. Whatever the media form, points of view are embedded in the words and images communicated.

Writers such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, and Robert McChesney accept implicitly Edelman’s counsel that people experience the world indirectly and usually in emotional form. They also assume, as does Gitlin, that what we read, see, and hear about the world is framed for us. They go further to suggest that what Marx called the “false conceptions about ourselves” in symbols, myths, rituals, and frames are usually the product of ruling class interests.Branding Purdue University

On October 27, 2021 a story appeared in Purdue Today, “Purdue Only University in Fast Company Magazine’s Inaugural List of ‘Brands That Matter’.” The story indicated that Purdue University was honored as the only university among companies and organizations that were named by 'Brands That Matter' “that give people compelling reasons to care about them, offer inspiration for others to buy in, and authentically communicate their mission and ideals.” “…Purdue joins 95 internationally recognized brands, including Nike, Zoom and Yeti and other large multinational conglomerates….”

President Mitch Daniels, Purdue University, praised the “entire Purdue community” for Purdue’s branding being singled out. “You can’t have a great brand without a great product, and our marketing team has worked hard to sell the world what this university stands for and how our faculty, staff and students impact lives.”

Branding stories that made the “news” included those on data science, the creation of Purdue’s polytechnic high schools in Indiana cities separate from public school systems, frozen tuition,  successes in dealing with the pandemic, and admitting the largest incoming class in the university’s history despite a housing shortage.

The article also added that:
-Purdue was “propelling the world forward through continued discovery and innovation, inclusive collaboration and a culture of persistence that leaves nothing undone.”
-as quoted by the editor-in-chief of Fast Company the company “is excited to highlight companies and organizations that have built brands with deep meaning and connections to the customers they serve.”

-the Senior Vice-President for Marketing and Communications, Purdue University, said that “students and their families trust Purdue to provide an extraordinary educational experience as demonstrated by record-setting numbers of applications and our highest-ever enrollments….” Purdue provides “…a clear sense of rigor and collaboration, transformative educational opportunities and innovative approaches to accessing and affording a valuable Purdue degree.…”
The article ends with a paragraph about Purdue University “developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges;” becoming one of the most “innovative universities in the United States”; providing “world-changing research and out-of-this world discovery;” offering “hands-on and online real-world learning;” and finally providing a “transformative education to all” with frozen tuition and graduating students with a debt free education.

We live in a World of Cognitive Warfare

 A recent document prepared by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)  suggested that “in cognitive warfare, the human mind becomes the battlefield. The aim is to change not only what people think, but how they think and act. Waged successfully, it shapes and influences individual and group beliefs and behaviors to favor an aggressor's tactical or strategic objectives.”

This NATO document, of course, is addressing the world of international relations but the concept of “cognitive warfare” seems to parallel efforts “to change not only what people think, but how they think and act.” This project animates the efforts of media conglomerates-print, electronic, social media platforms. Changing how people think and act has its historic roots in campaigns to convince citizens to support wars, consume cigarettes, forget climate disasters, and to find flaws in populations because of class, race, gender, sexual preference, and/or religion. The processes of “branding” are similar in all realms of human experience.
Perhaps challenging the process of “branding” should be on the agenda for all those who seek a more humane society. Break up “branding machines.” Democratize the ability to describe and express experiences. And, in the educational sphere, teach students to analyze brands and to evaluate their relative accuracy.
CCDS National Coordinating Committee Meeting 
Sunday, January 23, 2022

Time of day:
Pink tide in Latin American: focus on Nicaragua and Cuba
Presented by Pat Fry and Karl Kramer

Karl Kramer went to Nicaragua for the presidential inauguration, as a representative of CCDS. The administration of Daniel Ortega has wide support among workers. There is no “loyal left opposition.” In 1990 Chamorro won the presidential election after relentless US harassment that it was clear would not let up until Ortega was out of office. Karl described split in the FSLN, amid false claims that the US has changed its tune and imperialism is a thing of the past. The people being arrested were painted as being potential candidates in opposition to Ortega, which Karl says is analogous to saying that the people involved in the January 6 insurrection in the US were arrested because they were planning to run against Biden supporters in 2022. The arrested Nicaraguans had not filed candidacy papers.

Pat Fry added that at the day of the inauguration the US slapped additional sanctions on several Ortega supporters. The FSLN welcomed Karl as our delegate and provided hotel accommodations for him. She and Karl have been invited by the CCDS Socialist Education Project to publicly report on Cuba and Nicaragua, at the February Fourth Monday webinar.
The US is still working to destabilize the Sandinista government, both through propaganda lies and acts of terrorism and violence.

Harry Targ pointed out similarities between the hybrid war Karl described and what’s going on in Ukraine.

Jay recalled the assassination of Benjamin Linder, whose memory Karl said is honored in Nicaragua.

Pat will send out the registration for the webinar hosted by the Alliance for Global Justice. She noted that while this segment in our agenda is titled “Pink tide in Latin American: focus on Nicaragua and Cuba”, there are hopeful things going on in many other Latin American countries as well. Karl is going to the inauguration in Honduras. Colombia may break to the left. In Brazil, Lula is way ahead in the polls. US Imperialism appears more and more on the ropes, boding well for the end of neo-liberalism in Latin America.

Tom asked if the Sister Cities program is still in existence. Pat says existing sister cities still have relationships, not sure about the program as a whole.

Carl Davidson said in all the cases where countries are breaking away from US domination it’s because they have formed new relationships with China. While neo-liberalism is still highly dangerous against other countries, it has been circumscribed by relationships with China. And it’s called the “pink tide” because it’s not always what we would call “red,” but represents the progressive majority.

Pat noted that she previously sent a proposal for CCDS participation in the May Day celebration in Cuba and that we should try to send 4-5 (young) people as the CCDS portion of the US delegation.

"Fast Talking About Fast Thinking."
Presented by Meta VanSickle and Jay Jurie

Jay sent an email earlier with an analysis by the Washington Post of electoral demographics in Florida. He reported on how campaign financing is hidden and cloaked, to spread misinformation. Including Republican fake advocacy in primaries to try to ensure the Democratic candidate would be easier for the Republican to beat. Jay says we should be thoughtful about just getting progressive candidates out there, it doesn’t mean that they will win even if their positions are more attractive to us.

He and Meta have written an article for the next Dialog & Initiative, examining the ideas of Daniel Kahneman on “two forms of thinking”, Abraham Maslow and others. Jay says we can look at the social unit of analysis as Maslow looked at the individual hierarchy of needs. Kahneman, D. Thinking, Fast and Slow. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.

Jay is deeply concerned on a personal level with the two upcoming elections (2022 and 2024). If De Santis continues to rule Tallahassee, and Trump comes back to power, Medicare for All is a moot point; we won’t have anything, not health care, response to climate change, or anything we need, if the elections revert to the ultra right.

Meta: progressive agenda bodes ill if SC electeds are returned to office. As people enter the voting booths, their decisions are influenced by whether their low-on-the-hierarchy needs aren’t met (food, shelter). Automatic responses come not just from society but also our own value structure. White supremacy leads to fear by African Americans and prejudice by whites. Right wing establishment runs fear tactic ads, which people react to automatically. Faced with threats, people will respond with flight, fight or freeze. Ads showing black candidate as darker than he actually is caused large numbers of people to flip from supporting the progressive Black candidate to voting for Lindsay Graham even though they didn’t even like him.

Carl Redwood posted in the chat: It may be important for us to learn more about racial capitalism that doesn't see racism as an invention of capitalism. From Boston Review.

Meta also recommended when reacting to scare tactics and misinformation on social media, don’t preserve the thread with the other information in it but rather start your own thread. Otherwise people will be seeing the misinformation one more time. We can describe what we want and NOT reply to the anti types of messaging. No taxes means nothing in the commons and yet this very group really wants TriCare—even beyond Medicare for All—at least in SC. Activate our own fast thinking in our own ads. Instead of calling out… we need to call in people to our side. E.g., We want good workers and good workers are healthy. We get healthy people by ensuring Medicare for All. Or Healthy happy workers make enough to live.

Report on what is happening in the US Senate
Presented by Harry Targ

Harry reported on effects of voter suppression. He sent an article from Ballotpedia prior to this meeting, looking at states lacking competitive elections. Pat said the doom and gloom about the mid-terms is palpable but she points out that the networks (Indivisible, MoveOn) that can achieve the necessary voter turnout haven’t been activated.

Harry wants us to issue a statement. Erica thinks a statement aimed at the corporate media would be appropriate to help refocus their agenda. Pat thinks we need a call to action rather than statement. Carl recommends people get involved in the Inside/Outside project led by Organizing Upgrade. Also, Carl is working on Version 5 of his “6 Party” presentation. Randy noted that we can have a real effect on building a left influence in Congress.

Membership Report- Steve Willett
Tom said he hasn’t noticed any kind of membership drive. Has there been any concerted effort to pull in new members? Steve responded that there is an organizing committee that met a couple of months ago, but attempts at organizing or membership committees have not been sustainable. We don’t have generational information in our database. Tom asked if there is a generic piece of CCDS recruiting literature. Carl has a basic brochure which he believes he can upload to the website. The Goals and Principles are already listed on the website.

Finance Report Meta Van Sickle -- $8,165.94 in assets.

Our net income this year was almost $2k partly as a result of fundraising around Karl’s Nicaragua trip. She asked Karl to send an invoice for his expenses. The fundraising raised $250 and Meta suggested we match that with another $250. Karl said his only expense was $150 for a Covid test. But his plane fare was over $1200 and that was paid by Pat.

Labor Committee Ira Grupper

His report was partly objective info and partly opinion. Ira is still an active member of the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, although he is retired. The US Labor Movement is really becoming a “movement.” Struggles over wages, hours and working conditions are increasing and becoming increasingly militant. But how do we understand the difference between militant and understanding that capitalism is still alive and well? There has been defiance in the private sector workforce, increased labor militancy – e.g., Amazonians United. He reported on the ARA – Association of Retired Americans. He has become involved in it. Originally founded by the AFL-CIO. He didn’t think much of it but has become involved and in Louisville he thinks there is a good group.

Ellen agrees about local groups but described the ARA as worthless, all they want is money. Karl reported that from the Mexico Solidarity Committee he learned that there is organizing among workers in Guanajuato and elsewhere. Randy reported on a Steelworkers strike in west-central PA; he helped raise money for them on the basis that part of their demand was for increase medical benefits. He pointed out to them that this is part of the struggle for health care.

Ira asserted that workers today don’t know anything about organized labor, history but are interested organizing. He also thinks it would be useful for retirees to get involved with the ARA.

HR 5124, bill to integrate advanced manufacturing and GND principles 
Carl Davidson

HR 5124 – the Manufacturing Renaissance Campaign. Was introduced to congress in August 2021. To bridge the gap between labor and environmental groups. HR 5124 main sponsor is Jan Schakowski. The Green New Deal is not brought to you by lawyers and legislators, but by people who “make stuff”, the bill would bring money to regions to support advanced manufacturing. Has some good co-sponsors but needs many more. Parts of it can be implemented through presidential executive orders.

Asks: People can ask their Congresspeople to support the bill
Set up local support. Carl can do powerpoint presentations for local groups. If you are interested in a presentation contact

This is an implementation of the “just transition” that Green New Deal advocates are demanding. Has implications for public education as well. Vocational training currently is completely outmoded.

Peace and Solidarity-Move the Money campaign
Presented by Harry Targ &Tom Gogan

Harry displayed the formal proposal for a Move the Money Task Force. Inspired by Tom Gogan’s work in New York. Modeled on the Health Care Task Force started by Marilyn and Sandy. So this new task force would organize periodic webinar reports on military spending and move the money campaigns. As recommended by Betty Brown, the new Poor People’s Campaign is advocating for reducing the military budget; we might want to endorse and participate in the PPC mobilization in June.
Tom reports that they got exactly half of the NYC Council to endorse the MTM program – blocked by the speaker of the council. Now a new council with new speaker and they are hopeful as they restart the work. The NYC campaign involves several CCDS members and many organizations.
Socialist Education Project (SEP)
Harry Targ
Monday 4th Monday will be an exciting Webinar – Remembering Carl and Anne Braden. In February Karl and Pat will report on Nicaragua and the Pink Tide. Subsequent webinars will focus on the elections.
Medicare for All Update Group
Marilyn Albert
Reported on developments – nationally some health care aspects of the Build Back Better bill are still in play. Particularly, addressing the drug price negotiation limitations. Opponents object that the bill has a price tag of $1.7Trillion over 10 years – but the cost of American health care over the same next 10 years will be $51Trillion!!

She warned about the Direct Contracting efforts to privatize Medicare.

On April 2-3 there will be a virtual conference of single payer activists. Register for it at

In California the CalCare act was crafted by the California Nurses Association with little consultation with other advocacy groups. A few key changes have given the bill more life, the Speaker now supports it, so it has passed the Health Care Committee and Appropriations Committee. It needs to pass a floor vote of the full Assembly in the next couple of weeks, and well may pass, but then must pass the Senate and THEN must be signed by the governor, about which supporters are less optimistic.
March 16 there will be another meeting of the Medicare For All update group. To get Zoom link , email –

Ira: SNCC has had their last national meeting; at age 78 Ira is the youngest SNCC member around. There is a SNCC Legacy project, similar to ALBA, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.
522 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
415 863-6637