The U.S. ‘Six Party System’ 5.0: Revising the Hypothesis Again

Monday July 25th 9pm ET, 8pm CT, 7pm MT, 6pm PT

brought to you by CCDS Socialist Education Project and
the On Line University of the Left

Carl Davidson’s paper on strategic thinking, ‘The Six Party System Hypothesis, ’ has circulated widely on the left and among some liberals as well. The basic concept has been borrowed by Robert Reich and In These Times magazine, among others. Most embedded activists inside either party find it fairly accurate, even with a disagreement here and there.

Carl wrote the article to solve a problem. Cling to a two-party system frame of thought caused us more problems than it solved. First, every weeks political news brought us examples that made no sense with it. Second, to make a good strategy, a more revealing picture of the political terrain was needed. Third, since the terrain was always in motion. Regular updates were required. Hence the current version is 5.0.

Most important, the analysis revealed that the new progressive party the left has long for was right under their noses, one of the three parties under the Dem tent. Out task was to join and build it. But it also give a guide to strategy, build a broader alliance of three or even four of the parties to defeat the fascist dangers of the most reactionary of the two under the GOP tent. In our 4th Monday at the end of July, Carl will may a short presentation of these ideas, and encourage debate and discussion.

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This will also be live on
by Randy Shannon

Yes it’s very important to vote on Tues. Nov. 8th against the Republican thugs serving the
Billionaire Class. The only choice is any Democrat on the ballot.

But without massive demonstrations before and after Nov. 8th the election won't stop the
Billionaire Class from accelerating their drive toward dictatorship over impoverished and
subjugated US citizens.

What is required is hundreds of thousands rallying and marching in every city. Again and again.
What's required is a national student moratorium and marches.

Massive actions will intimidate the elite and their far-right militias. Actions must start locally
and continue until the election and then resume. The goal must be to build the mass marches
to around 11.5 million people. That will block the Billionaire Class and open paths to a better

The '3.5% rule': How a small minority can change the world.
Notes on our present conjuncture

by Jeffrey St. Clair: (forwarded to CCDS by Doug Morris)

There have been more than 200 “mass shootings” in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, almost all of them with “legal” guns.
+ The United States is the only country in the world where civilian guns outnumber people.
+ There’s Replacement “Theory” and there’s Replacement in Fact: European settlers killed more than 56 million indigenous people over about 100 years in South, Central and North America.

The Buffalo shooting will be used to increase funding for police–the same police who didn’t stop the racist shooter, who across the country have aligned themselves with white supremacist movements and who regularly shoot young blacks suspected of committing minor offenses like jaywalking or shoplifting.

+ Not shot by police: Dylann Roof (21), Kyle Rittenhouse (18), Payton S. Gendron (18).
Shot by police: Tamir Rice (12), Laquan McDonald (17), Michael Brown (18)
Number of people killed by Roof, Rittenhouse, Gendron: 21
Number of people killed by Rice, McDonald, Brown: 0

NATO was created not to protect Europe from a Soviet invasion, but to provide a never-ending flow of money to weapons contractors, regardless of the “threat level”…
More than 75% of the planet could face drought conditions by 2050, according to a new UN report titled Drought in Numbers. The report found that both drought frequency and duration has already increased by 29 percent since 2000. Historically, droughts have been the planet’s deadliest natural disaster, having killed 650,000 people between 1970 and 2019.
More than 20 million people in Kenya and Somali will likely experience extreme hunger this year as delayed rains exacerbate what was already the worst drought in four decades.
 Reducing air pollution from burning of fossil fuels could save as many as 50,000 lives a year in the US. People rebelled against wearing masks that could have saved 500,000 people a year…
(More bad news is found in recent research confirming early suspicions that humanity is heading into a “pandemicene” – an epoch of recurrent pandemics – because climate change and habitat loss are bringing virus-laden bats and other mammals including humans into ever closer proximity, fueling cross-species zoonotic disease transference. Given capitalist ownership of US media, the sparse reporting on this coming [if not already underway] pandemicene deletes the important facts that climate crisis and relentless human encroachment on natural habitat are fundamentally rooted in capitalism. It cannot be acknowledged that the reigning profits-based social order is systemically wedded to anarchic competition and relentless expansion and hopelessly addicted and irretrievably invested in fossil fuels.) - Paul Street

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of Counter Punch
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"With the recent mass killings of Blacks in Buffalo, NY and children in Uvalde, TX, I thought it would be useful to send out an article I wrote in 2018 about the second amendment since we will hear many lies on how it is a sacred document. This is a review of a book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and gives a quick and solid analysis. Please send to others if you find it useful." Larry Mosqueda to the CCDS members list serve.

Larry Mosqueda, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Political Economy
The Evergreen State College
Olympia, WA

A slightly different version of this article was published in the September, 2018 Olympia, WA Works in Progress. The recent mass killings in El Paso and Dayton have generated a great deal of commentary on the need for gun control in the US. The following is a short contribution on how the second amendment has been misinterpreted to hinder gun regulation in the US and the history of “gun culture” has been distorted.  
Opponents of gun regulation usually cite the second amendment to the US Constitution as a reason not to have any restrictions on gun ownership. These arguments are almost always wrong.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (D-O) has recently written Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment (2018, City Light Books, San Francisco) where she examines, in great detail, the creation of “gun culture” in America before the writing of the Constitution. She also explores the history at the time of the writing of the second amendment (1791) and its application in the modern era.
This article is primarily based on her analysis with other sources added. (Page numbers are from her book.) The second amendment itself is very precise and short and can be easily memorized by all who argue for or against its application to the present. It reads in full:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Drawing on some of her extensive research for her previous book An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (2014, Beacon Press, Boston), D-O shows, as one of her reviewers (Nick Estes) notes, “… gun culture has never been about hunting. From crushing slave rebellions to Indigenous resistance, arming individual white settler men has always been the strategy for maintaining racial and class rules and for taking indigenous land from the founding of the settler nation to the present.” In the 17th and 18th centuries one of the main purposes of “gun control” was to require European men to own guns. This was to conquer and “settle” and “defend” territory that was being occupied by British settlers over the Indigenous population, and to make sure that enslaved people could not run away or be re-captured if they tried to escape. These groups were often formed as “settler militias” that helped to conquer the “west” –which at the time were places like present day Ohio and Kentucky.   By the time of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the writing and ratification of the Constitution (1787-1789) and the Second Amendment (1791), the “gun culture” was becoming more formalized. 

As Howard Zinn has noted, the country that was being established as the US along with its Constitution was to set up a society that was half free (from England for whites but yet not total freedom for white workers) and half slave (Africans). Native people in this scenario were basically being eliminated. The second amendment is one of the few places in the Constitution that has the exact reason for its existence written into it, i.e. “being necessary to the security of a free state.” Thom Hartman has stated in his article, “The Second Amendment was ratified to Preserve Slavery,” the precise purpose of the amendment. This was made quite clear by James Madison who helped to write the amendment. Well-armed white men were needed to be slave patrollers in the case of runaway slaves and the “free state” referred to in the amendment was actually a slave state that needed to protect its “freely” held “property” (i.e. African human beings). The “well regulated militia” that was referred to was actually the slave patrols. There were tensions in the writing of the amendment between Madison, George Mason and Patrick Henry, slave owners all. Madison wanted to use the words “free country” instead of “free state” but changed it to the latter to keep the “Militias” at the state level. Some of this may seem esoteric, but the point needs to be made that the purpose of the second amendment was not primarily for hunting, target practice, or protection against the government (the “founders” did not include the right to revolution in the Constitution). Those myths developed many years later. It is very clear that the concept of gun control (but not confiscation) and regulation are written right into the amendment, i.e. “A WELL REGULATED MILITIA…” (Emphasis added.) 
D-O traces the history of the purpose of guns and its impact on American culture over the past 400 years. She notes that by the late 1600s settler militias helped to set the “basis for US police culture after slaving people was illegalized,” i.e. after the Civil War. (p. 36) This was readily apparent in the post war period of 1865-1954 and the more modern era as explored in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation.

D-O also tells fascinating stories on how even some progressives, liberals and others buy into myths based on gun toting rebels such as Jesse James, Josey Wales (Bill Wilson) and others who become folk heroes in our modern culture which helps to reinforce gun culture, even if their rebels real lives are the exact opposite of the modern storyteller’s values. (See Chapter 4, Confederate Guerrillas to Outlaw Icons.)

The US gun culture is like no other in the world, especially for a country that is not in a civil war nor experiencing organized armed conflict within its borders. According to D-O, using a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, “Seventy-four percent of gun owners in the United States are male, and 82 percent of gun owners are white, which means that 61 percent of all adults who own guns are white men and this group accounts for 31 percent of the total US population” (p. 93). A 2018 report from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva found that Americans account for 40 percent of all guns owned in the world. (The US has less than 5 percent of the world’s population.) The Geneva study states that there are 393,000,000 (civilian) guns in the US or about 121 per 100 civilians. This includes all men, women, and children (Ashley Curtin, Nation of Change, News Report, June 28, 2018).

Yet, and this is important, while the gun culture does exist, it does not directly involve the majority of Americans. A Washington Post report on a Harvard-Northwestern study on September 19, 2016, notes that 78% of American adults do not own any guns, 22% do. Of the owners, 19% of American adults own 50% of the guns and 3% of American adults own the other 50%. The top 3% of gun owners own an average of 17 guns apiece.  World gun ownership is heavily concentrated in the US and it is heavily concentrated among a few Americans. 

The impact of guns in the US is well known. Mass shooting (usually defined as 4 or more persons shot, killed or injured, at one time) happen on almost a daily basis-literally. The Guardian reports (February 15, 2018) that in the previous three years there were 1,624 mass shootings in 1,870 days. (New- There have been 249 mass shootings in the US in the first 215 days of 2019.) Mass killings, especially those at schools, make the headlines on a regular basis, but the vast majority of those who die by guns are suicides and “regular” homicides. (See Chapter 7 on Mass Shootings.)

The original purpose of the second amendment may appear to be no longer valid, but as D-O demonstrates it has helped to create the gun culture and the police culture that has permeated our society, as indicated in the Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor book cited above on #Black Lives Matter.  

One of the primary groups that has twisted the current interpretation of the second amendment is the National Rifle Association (NRA). Originally the NRA was a post Civil War organization that provided education on how to shoot and handle a gun. It was NOT always against regulation of guns, but over the years and especially since the Reagan era has become an extreme right wing organization that has worked against almost any restrictions on any aspect of gun use and ownership. D-O, in many places in her book, gives a precise history of the evolution of this organization.  

The recent President of the NRA (from May 2018-April 2019) was Oliver North, President Reagan’s right-hand man during the Contra war against the people of Nicaragua in the 1980s. (D-O does an effective job of explaining the historical connection between the second amendment, US gun culture and US foreign policies and wars.)

For those who were not alive in the 1980’s or who may have forgotten, the following summation may be useful. In 1994, Oliver North ran for US senator from Virginia. His opponent, Senator Chuck Robb (D. Va.) concisely described North’s career up to that point: “My opponent is a document-shredding, Constitution-trashing, commander-in-chief-bashing, Ayatollah-loving, arms-dealing, criminal-protecting, resume-enhancing, Noriega-coddling, Swiss-banking, law-breaking, letter-faking, self-serving, snake-oil salesman who can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie.” North narrowly lost the election, became a FOX news host before his career at the NRA. 

D-O notes that the NRA has written on its lobby wall in Fairfax, Virginia only this portion of the second amendment “The right of the people to keep and Bear arms shall not be infringed” (p. 125). 

In reality the original wording of the second amendment has not been amended or altered. A good place to begin our self-education about this amendment would be to read and examine Dunbar-Ortiz new book and educate others on how to have some semblance of a modern form of the concept of “well regulated” regarding the subject of gun control.
The NATO Summit Closes With New Commitments to
Increase the Militarization of Europe (and the World)

Harry Targ

Monday of the week of the long-advertised summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the organization’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that it would increase “high-readiness military forces from 40,000 to over 300,000.”

Subsequently, leaders of NATO countries met in Madrid from June 29-30 and made key decisions to advance the organization and militarism in Europe and around the world. According to a NATO document the 30-nation military alliance identified “Russia as the most significant and direct threat to Allied security” and referred to “China for the first time,”and included “other challenges like terrorism, cyber and hybrid.” Perhaps most troubling from a peace point of view was the document’s announcement that deterrence and defense would be enhanced by “more troops and more pre-positioned equipment an weapon stockpiles in the east of the Alliance, enhancing NATO’s eight multinational battlegroups…”

NATO plans included recommitments of each member country to provide 2 percent of their GDP to the organization’s budget and invitations to new members, Sweden and Finland. NATO documents refer to the Russian threat and “China’s growing influence and assertiveness.” For the first time other attendees included representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the Republic of Korea presumably in regard to the China “threat.” In addition, the NATO press release referred to a recommitment “to the fight against terrorism and addressed NATO’s response to threats and challenges from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Sahel.” And finally, the NATO partners made long term financial commitments to addressing the climate crisis.

At the closing press conference, the NATO Secretary General indicated that “we face the most serious security situation in decades.” Peace forces can agree with this conclusion but for different reasons. For example, the NATO summit made decisions to:
-Increase the militarization of Central Europe
-Once again increase the membership of the organization
-Define Russia as the number one enemy of international security
-Allude to China as an additional threat to world security
-Globalize the conflict in Europe
-Once again fuel the arms race
-Make permanent the war in Ukraine
-And despite promises to the contrary, to sweep the mortal threat of climate disaster under the rug.

(Just as an aside, NATO in the spring, 1955 decided to admit the then Federal Republic of Germany into membership. One week later the former Soviet Union created the Warsaw Pact, a ‘security” organization that mirrored NATO. Six years later, the United States and the Soviet Union almost went to nuclear war over the then divided Germany. In other words, NATO’s expansion over 60 years ago escalated tensions and the danger of nuclear war between the two great powers).
On NATO’s “strategic concept” see:
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by Harry Targ
 From an Internal Memorandum Circulated in the Eisenhower Administration Recommending Policies to Undermine the Popularity of the Cuban Revolution:
… every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba. If such a policy is adopted, it should be the result of a positive decision which would call forth a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.

Sixty-two years after this memorandum was distributed in the Eisenhower Administration the policy now referred to as a “hybrid war” strategy against Cuba continues. The concept of hybrid wars suggests that while traditional warfare between nations has declined, warfare within countries has increased. Internal wars, the hybrid wars theorists suggest, are encouraged and supported by covert interventions, employing private armies, spies, and other operatives financed by outside nations like the United States. Also, the hybrid wars concept refers to the use of economic warfare, embargoes, and blockades, to bring down adversarial states and movements. The economic blockades of Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran are examples as are the US economic sanctions in place against over 30 additional countries. In short, the hybrid war concept suggests the carrying out of wars by other, less visible, means.

Despite the unending United States policy that is committed to undermining and overthrowing Cuba’s socialist revolution (and defeating a Hemisphere-wide growing resistance to United States domination), Cuban solidarity activists continue to organize in opposition to United States foreign policy. One enduring movement, Pastors for Peace (organized by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization or IFCO), founded in 1967, has orchestrated campaigns of economic and political solidarity with peoples in the Global South. IFCO, led by people of color, connects religious and secular organizations that seek radical change in United States foreign policy.

Preeminent in IFCOs work has been the organization of caravans to bring material aid to Cuba from US communities and at the same time educating activists about the long, painful economic blockade enshrined in US policy since the Eisenhower Administration. “These caravans have delivered countless tons of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people” and have facilitated Cuba tours, construction brigades, speaking tours, and recruiting US citizens to study medicine at the Cuban international medical school, The Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).

IFCO during the month of July 2022 is engaged in a month-long Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba to raise humanitarian assistance and to increase awareness and activism about the US economic blockade which they argue is more painful and comprehensive now than at any time in its 62-year existence. The caravan has organized tours in the south, the midwest, the east coast and Florida during July 2022.
Forty people attended the Pastors for Peace Caravan in Milwaukee, July 6. Cheryl LaBash from the National Network on Cuba spoke about the blockade, its worsening impacts on the Cuban people, Cuba’s continued resistance including providing medical personnel to peoples in danger all around the world, and the comparative indicators of physical health among lower income US citizens with the entire Cuban population. LaBash underscored the fact that all Cubans have free health care and education and modest but livable jobs and income. Her reference to the 1960 memorandum above points out why the Cuban revolution is still popular and survives. And for that reason, United States foreign policy has been to starve the Cuban people into submission.

The Milwaukee Caravan was sponsored by a variety of organizations, the Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba, Veterans for Peace, Zao MKE Church, Milwaukee DSA, Peace Action of Wisconsin, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and IFCO. Also, these groups are committed to sponsoring monthly car caravans to educate the citizens of their city about the inhumane United States policy toward Cuba and to demand that the Biden Administration and United States Congress end the economic blockade. This local campaign is part of a growing national movement to end the blockade.

For information about the Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba see:
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June 26, Cuba Caravan to end the Blockade: Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations With Cuba
New Journals and Books for Radical Education...
Taking Down
White Supremacy

Edited by the CCDS
Socialist Education Project

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.

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

  Click here for the Table of contents
Dialogue & Initiative 2022

Contested Terrains:
Elections, War
& Peace, Labor

Edited by CCDS D&I Editorial Group

A project of the CCDS Socialist Education Project

228 pages, $10 (discounts available for quantity orders from, or order at :

This annual journal is a selection of essays offering keen insight into electoral politics on the left, vital issues for the peace and justice movements, and labor campaigns.

Click here for the Table of Content
Social Justice Unionism
25 Years of Theory and Practice

By Liberation Road

This new 222-page book is a collection of articles and essays covering 25 years of organizing in factories and communities by Liberation Road members and allies.

It serves as a vital handbook for a new generation of union organizers on the left looking for practical approaches to connect their work with a wider socialist vision.

Copies are available for $10 plus shipping at Changemaker.

Our Amazing Resource for Radical Education

CURRENT FEATURE: In the 'Study Guides' Section
From the settlers to the present, and how its consciousness is conflicted. Prepared by Carl Davidson and Rebecca Tarlau,
with some help from the DSA Rust Belt group.

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

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

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

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Abortion and the Constitutional Right to Privacy

by Jay Jurie

In striking down Roe v. Wade the US Supreme Court cherry-picked its way around the issue of abortion as it pertains to individual rights to privacy and the US Constitution. However, a number of states have a right to privacy embedded in their constitutions.
By all reasonable standards such "states rights" protect a woman's right to choose, one of the most private of all matters, along with personal decisions regarding sexual preference, same sex marriage, gender identity, and so on.
However, the far right in this country has captured the Republican Party and in turn, a significant number of governmental institutions including courts. They have already shown they uphold constitutional rights and laws only when it suits their purposes but otherwise such rights and laws mean nothing, they will not hesitate to disregard and trample them.
Florida is one case example, where there is indeed a constitutional right to privacy that has been used for decades to uphold women's rights. However, the Republican-controlled legislature recently passed a law seriously restricting this right. Rather than joining women's rights plaintiffs seeking to strike down this unConstitutional measure, it comes as no surprise that the DeSantis regime, which signed the anti-abortion bill into law, has now filed a brief with the state supreme court to uphold it.
Indeed, they are expediting this brief directly to the Florida Supreme Court because it is among those captured and turned into a tool by the Republican Party -- see WUSF article in comment thread below.
The right-wing hypocrisy is breath-taking. The only solution is to turn them out of office and then to limit the ability of the courts to impose tyranny on society.
Fight back!

The link to the accompanying Yahoo article here

The link to the WUSF article mentioned in my post:  

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FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2022


Now it is Roe v. Wade
(From Sunday, February 20, 2011)
Harry Targ

Vivay Prashad, in his fascinating book, The Darker Nations, traced the rise and subsequent demise of the Third World Project from the 1950s to the 1980s. The Third World Project, mainly the mobilization of poor and marginalized peoples around the world, envisioned the construction of progressive governments that would provide for basic social and economic needs and institutionalize democratic participation in political life.

This project was derailed for several reasons. One of the most significant was the willful construction by threatened elites of fundamentalist religious institutions.

In the Middle East, the tottering dictatorships plowed financial resources into the creation of fundamentalist Islamic organizations. “Political Islam” was introduced into global political culture to divert and divide social movements for fundamental change. Political Islam called for a return to the past and a rejection of modern secular ideas about social and political institutions. Religious dogma worked to replace visions of egalitarian societies. Ironically, in order to maintain stability, United States foreign policy supported insurgent Islamic fundamentalist movements in various places such as Afghanistan.

In Latin America, religious fundamentalism took a variety of forms. The leadership of the Catholic Church launched a frontal assault on newly created radical regimes, such as in Nicaragua, that based their political principles on a theology of “liberation.” Also, Evangelical Christian organizations, with funding from worldwide economic elites, infiltrated Latin American countries experiencing revolutionary ferment, urging the poor to reject earthly solutions to their problems.

In North America, the religious right mobilized financial resources to appeal to an electorate frustrated by challenges to U.S. hegemony overseas and economic stagnation at home. In each political venue, whether dominated by Islam, Christianity, or Judaism in the case of Israel, religion was used to divide and conquer.

The sector of the population most impacted by fundamentalisms of every kind is women. Women are forced out of the political process as patriarchies reinstitute top-down control of their political, economic, and cultural lives and their bodies. Women’s institutions, particularly ones that encourage progressive public policies, are marginalized. Often politicians using religious dogma as their rhetorical tool, support public policies that punish poor women, women of color, and progressive women in general. In sum, the resurgence of religious fundamentalism has been used to divide majorities of people along various lines that defuse their solidarity and the targets of such assaults are most often women.

A current example of this strategy of attacking women by raising the specter of religious orthodoxy occurred Friday February18 when the House of Representatives approved an amendment to budgetary legislation which would end all funding of Planned Parenthood, a national organization that provides vital reproductive health services to low-income women. Congressman Mike Pence (IN), who introduced the proposal, declared that American taxpayers should not have to pay for abortions. He failed to mention that they don’t because the government currently forbids the use of federal dollars for most abortions. Consequently, that could not have been the motivation for this legislation.

Rather, most of the 240 House members who voted to cut all allocations to Planned Parenthood wished to raise the religious issue to justify their general goal of ending public health care and guarantees for basic public health services for all. Pence failed to make note of the fact that Planned Parenthood gives contraceptive assistance to poor women, does HIV tests, screens women for cancer, and provides reproductive health care for women. Planned Parenthood, like ACORN the community organization that was victimized last year, is under assault to achieve political goals. The attacks serve to divide the electorate to destroy another organization that serves the needs of the working class, in this case working class women.

Data from the Guttmacher Institute point out that in recent years almost half of women who need reproductive health care are not able to afford it. Four in ten women of reproductive age had no health insurance.

The health care reform legislation of 2010 opens the door for expanded insurance coverage for reproductive health and family planning. Among those without health care as of 2009 were 14 million women of reproductive age. According to the new health care law, if not defied by state governments, Medicaid programs will expand family planning services to lower income families in years ahead.

As the Pence amendment suggests, existing health services for women and prospective new ones are under threat by health care opponents. They want to destroy major providers of health care for women such as Planned Parenthood. And, in the end, they want to destroy any form of public health for people.

How to do it? Transform the discourse from providing health care for the people, a broadly accepted idea, to religious dogma, in this case anti-abortion dogma.

It is time for progressives to respond. Attacks on Planned Parenthood (and the end of the right to choose) are attacks on the working class, especially people of color, and women, and the very idea that governments are created to serve the needs of the people.
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Angela Davis, Charlene Mitchell, and the NAARPR

Reprinted from Black Perspectives
Angela Davis meeting with Communist Party leader Valentina Tereshkova, Moscow,
August 11, 1972 (Yuriy Ivanov – Wikimedia Commons)
In June 1972, an all-white jury acquitted Angela Davis of charges in her alleged role in an August 1970 Marin County, California Civic Center shootout that left one judge and three other men dead. Because guns used in the courtroom shootout were registered by Davis – a prominent member of the Communist Party, USA (CPUSA) – she was charged with kidnapping, conspiracy, and murder though she was not present during the assault.

Shortly afterward, fearing for her life Davis went into hiding and was placed on the FBI’s ten most wanted list. Two months later she was found in New York City and transported back to CA.

The Davis frame-up, trial, and acquittal is well known and does not warrant a detailed examination. However, what came after – the birth of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) in May 1973 – is less well known. In fact, it has been largely ignored by historians. 

For months after the acquittal Davis, Charlene Mitchell – a fellow Communist, and executive director of the National United Committee to Free Angela Davis – and other CPUSA members, discussed Davis’ frame-up, defense, trial, acquittal, and its impact.

In a December 1972 report to the CPUSA’s Central Committee, Mitchell outlined her experience as leader of the international campaign to free Davis. She told her comrades, “The major lesson we learned was that the legal and mass defense of political prisoners is an inseparable entity; that you cannot free a political prisoner in the courtroom alone, and you cannot, without a good, political legal defense in the courtroom, make a mass defense,” or create a mass movement. Importantly, she added, “we must discuss the role our Party can play” in forming a national defense organization, the genesis of which would come from the roughly 200 local Free Angela Davis Committees. Mitchell outlined a proposal for building a national defense organization, arguing “that it is very possible for us to be the leadership” of such an organization “and for that leadership to be completely accepted.”1

Communists had been in the leadership of the struggle for African American equality since at least the early- to mid-1930s with defense of the Scottsboro Nine and the emergence of the National Negro Congress, the Southern Negro Youth Congress, and later the Council on African Affairs, and the Civil Rights Congress. The NAARPR continued this tradition. 
The call for the founding conference of what became the NAARPR proclaimed: “[F]orces of racism and repression can be defeated. We know that victory can be won.” The campaign to free Davis was the evidence. “We can free political prisoners. We can free victims of racist and political repression. We can stop the increase of police aggression and the unbridled terrorism which pervades the prisons.”

The call continued, “we can only succeed in turning the tide of repression through a united, nationally coordinated effort…The repression of this period is calculated, organized and systematic.” Like racist attacks today, such as the Buffalo shooting, the call added: “In its center is the seed of fascism, which, if allowed to sprout, would strangle us all. To successfully confront and bring a halt to this systematic, nationally organized repression, we need a national apparatus to organize our resistance.”2

Of course, this was a sentiment the CPUSA – as well as the broad array of progressive forces then coalescing around Davis – agreed with. Over 800 civil rights leaders and organizers attended the NAARPR’s founding Conference in Chicago.

The birth and work of the NAARPR highlights a number of congruent themes. First, an analysis of the NAARPR highlights the interconnected, long history of the defense of political prisoners as an integral component of CPUSA organizing spanning from the 1930s to the 1980s. Second, it brings forward the role of Black women Communists in the defense of political prisoners, such as JoAnne Little and Frank Chapman, during the 1970s and 1980s. Third, it challenges the myth of the demise of Communist-led organizational initiatives during the same period, a myth that declares the CPUSA as marginalized post-1956. Fourth, an analysis of the NAARPR provides important parallels for the Black Lives Matter movement today. And finally, an analysis of the NAARPR links today’s attacks on Critical Race Theory – and other anti-racist curricula – to earlier campaigns denying radical Black agency, especially when linked to international socialism, what I call a Red-Black Alliance.

It wasn’t long before the NAARPR was leading the struggle against racist, political repression. For example, at a July 4, 1974, rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, the NAARPR led 10,000 protesters past the Central Prison to the State Capitol, where they railed against the “administration of justice.” Forty-five people were then on death row, more than in any other state, and 14,000 people were then incarcerated in that state’s prisons, which was “one of the highest prisoner ratios in the nation.”

Davis called North Carolina “the No. 1 disaster area in terms of racial justice,” a partial explanation for the NAARPR’s decision to rally there. Her goal was to lay “to rest the myth that the oppressed people of this land – Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and white, and people of varied political and religious beliefs – cannot work together.” She wanted to lay “to rest the myth that people will no longer take to the streets for freedom and justice.” Speaking alongside Davis was the Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He called North Carolina “the most repressive state in America.”

However, perhaps more damning to the right-wing there and in Washington – as well as to the FBI, who continued to keep tabs on Davis and her comrades – was Abernathy’s willingness to publicly work with Communists. “They must be trembling in Washington to see us holding hands today,” Davis said as she put her arm around Abernethy. “Because…here is a minister, and here is a Communist.” Abernathy addressed the crowd, saying in part, “my Communist brothers and sisters…it is with pride and honor that I march with Angela Davis.”

The Red-Black alliance Communists had spent decades building posed a formidable challenge, a challenge that brought the SCLC and the NAARPR together in NC to draw attention to death and prison sentences disproportionately handed out to people of color. “Now we must consolidate our unity, make it firm as a rock,” Davis concluded.3

The NAARPR didn’t just rally and protest, though. It also helped organize legal defense for victims of racist, political repression. JoAnne Little, a NC working class Black woman, is a case in point. Little, 20, was facing the death penalty in 1975 for killing a white male prison guard in self-defense; he attacked her with an ice pick with the intent of sexual assault. The NAARPR put Little’s assault into political context. She became “a symbol of the economic exploitation, sexual violation, political persecution, and denigration of Black womanhood,” as Erik S. McDuffie noted. She was a “representative case,” something Mitchell had earlier thought impossible. Ultimately, with the help of the NAARPR, Little became the first Black woman in U.S. history to be acquitted (of killing her white attacker) by arguing that she “used lethal force in self-defense against rape.”4

Davis, who developed a relationship with Little and helped her prepare for her trial, added: “JoAnne Little may not only have been the victim of a rape attempt by a white racist jailer, she has truly been raped and wronged many times over by the exploitation and discriminatory institutions of this society,” a society that often denigrates and exploits Black womanhood.
 In an August 1977 World Magazine article, Mitchell boasted of the NAARPR’s successes. She wrote, the NAARPR “has emerged as one of the most significant united front organizations in our country.” It has become a “unifying force whose integrity cannot be challenged.”5

The NAARPR continued to defend political prisoners throughout the 1980s, participating in a number of civil rights cases. Through the CPUSA’s international network linked to world socialism, it continued to bring international attention to racist, political repression domestically, a contribution worth noting as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Davis acquittal and the birth of the NAARPR.  
  1. Mitchell, For Freedom for Political Prisoners and Victims of Racism and Class Injustice, Party Affairs, Vol. VII, No. 1, January 1973, 32-40. 
  2. NYU, TAM 132, Box 110, Folder 17: A Call to a Founding Conference For A National Defense Organization Against Racist And Political Repression, May 11-13, 1973. 
  3. NYU, TAM 132, Box 110, Folder 13: 10,000 March On North Carolina – “Unity is Our Weapon,” National Alliance, 1974 and “Justice Assailed In North Carolina,” New York Times, July 5, 1974  
  4. Erik S. McDuffie, Sojourning For Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), 199-201. McDuffie and Davis spell Little’s first name differently; I use Davis’ throughout. 
  5. NYU, TAM PE.043, Box 70, Folder 2: Angela Davis, JoAnne Little: The Dialectics of Rape (NAARPR, no date); TAM 132, Box 110, Folder 13: Mitchell, “Tipping the scales – for justice,” World Magazine, August 20, 1977. 
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Book Review: There Is Not a Better Way To Become Acquainted with the Reality of China Today Than A China Reader.

Reviewed By Roger Keeran
June 11, 2022


A China Reader:
Socialist Education Project.
Edited by Duncan McFarland.
$20. 245 pp.

Everyone, particularly those on the left, should study China.  I say “study” and not just “read about,” because to learn about China by reading the mass media is not learning at all; it is consuming propaganda on behalf of the aggressive anti-China policies pursued by Presidents Obama, Trump, and now Biden.  The bulk of the stories portray China negatively, often on the basis of dubious anecdotes allegedly showing China’s failures, its problems, its authoritarianism, its genocides and so forth.  Therefore, it takes a little motivation and persistence to find sources that are factual and that explain the Chinese accomplishments, policies, and point of view. It is also difficult to find research that raises questions of interest to socialists and other progressives.

This is no small matter. After all, almost one in four people in the world lives in China.  China is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and if it is not now, it will soon be the world’s largest economy. It has lifted millions of people out of poverty, particularly extreme poverty. Plus, China is led by the Chinese Communist Party and its General Secretary Xi Jinping, who embrace Marxism-Leninism and whose stated goal is to move China to developed socialism by the year 2050.  The best one-volume political introduction to China is A China Reader.

The major strength of A China Reader is that it raises the major questions and concerns that Marxists and other progressives naturally have about China and does not propose any pat answers about the nature and future of Chinese socialism. Yet, from a sympathetic viewpoint, it provides a variety of perspectives and a wealth of solid information. The major weakness of the book is that some of the articles and thus some of the statistics are a bit dated.

The book is a collection of essays, documents, book reviews, excerpts, speeches, and poems that covers Chinese history, U.S.-Chinese relations, Chinese economy and political thought.  There are twenty-three contributors ranging from such historical figures as the Canadian doctor and Communist Norman Bethune, and the American journalist Agnes Smedley, and the poets Langston Hughes and Gary Hicks to such contemporary commentators as the Egyptian political economist Samir Amin and the Indian Marxist Vijay Prashad. There are also pieces by Chinese Communists including Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The preponderance of contributors, however, are American academics and political activists. Though the overall point of view is highly favorable toward China and the Chinese socialist project, the book also contains frank discussions of the setbacks and challenges faced by the socialist project.  It ends with a list of additional sources for information on China and Chinese perspectives. Not all of the book’s articles have equal interest or quality, nonetheless no other book gives such an accessible wealth of information on such a variety of topics of interest to the Left.

Some of the book’s contributions deserved singling out.  Several articles deal with the history of U.S.-Chinese relations. Particularly, striking were the persistent efforts of American policymakers to control Chinese affairs for the benefit of American capitalism.  The symbolic birth of these policies were the so–called “Notes” issued by Secretary of State John Hay in 1899 and 1900 demanding American access to Chinese markets. In the decades before the 1949 revolution, the United States consistently supported Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang to counter the growing power of the Communist revolutionary movement.

After the revolution, American policy tried to boycott and isolate China for decades until 1969, when President Richard Nixon and national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, fashioned a new policy designed to influence China through “soft power,” that is, to recognize China, play China against the Soviet Union, and open China to American markets and investment with the ultimate goal of undermining Chinese socialism.  By 2000, however, China’s growing economic strength and influence became a concern of U.S. elites particularly after China did much better at overcoming the 2008 financial crisis than the U.S. In 2011 under President Barack Obama, the U.S. pivoted away from collaboration with China and toward a more combative stance, a move signaled by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a policy paper entitled, “America’s Pacific Century.”

Since then, particularly under President Donald Trump, the ideological attacks on China, the military encirclement of China, and economic strictures against China have only increased. In 2020, Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the era of “blind engagement” with China must end. “We must not continue it, and we must not return to it.” President Joseph Biden continued, even intensified, this approach, keeping in place Trump’s tariffs and initiating a new CIA department dedicated to countering China.

Another worthy achievement of this book is to explain the major stages in the development of the Chinese Revolution, including the Great Leap Forward, the Sino-Soviet split and the Cultural Revolution, all of which occurred under Mao, and the post-Mao policies aimed at building a “socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics.” This was initiated by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, expanded after Deng’s so-called Southern Tour in 1992, and continued after 2002 by Hu Jintao’s emphasis on scientific development.  Since 2012, Xi Jinping has stressed combatting corruption and poverty, raising domestic consumption, increasing the production of high-quality goods and technology, reducing dependence on low-wage export manufacturing, and taking an active engagement in economic development abroad known in what is called the Belt and Road Initiative.

Especially useful is the way the book provides a platform for Chinese Communists, including General Secretary Xi Jinping to explain their policies and objectives. In discussing the current stage of Chinese development, Xi Jinping goes to great lengths to insist that the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics in no way represents a new ideology or a repudiation of Marxism-Leninism, or the past experiences of China under Mao Zedong or of the Soviet Union. Xi Jinping insists that China continues to adhere “to the basic principles of scientific socialism.” Among other things, this means “the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of China,” “gradually realizing the common prosperity of all the people,” and building “an economic system in which publicly owned enterprises are the principal part, which develop side by side with diverse forms of ownership.”

According to Xi, in spite of the “large mistakes as the Cultural Revolution,” the party has not discarded the “banner of Mao Zedong,” but is building on his accomplishments. Similarly, the party does not reject the experience of the Soviet Union but has tried to learn from its mistakes, particularly the Soviet Communists’ underestimation of the importance of ideology and its own history. “To completely repudiate the history of the CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union], to repudiate Lenin, to repudiate Stalin was to wreck chaos in Soviet ideology and engage in historical nihilism.” Xi Jinping says forcefully and clearly: “The party’s highest ideal and ultimate goal is to achieve communism.”  He adds, however, that the goal of communism can only by achieved by “a highly developed socialist society,” that is a society that has developed economically, technologically, and culturally, and “that the realization of communism is a very long historical process.”

A review of Xi Jinping’s three volumes titled The Governance of China, published in 2014, 2017 and 2020 explains the goals in the development of Chinese socialism under the general goals of building a “moderately prosperous nation” by the year 2021 and a “modern socialist country” by the year 2050. For those in the West who are fed a steady stream of anti-Chinese stories about the growing capitalism in China or the impending collapse of China, the opportunity to read what Chinese Communists actually say is extremely enlightening.  Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, some western Communist Parties (the Greeks, the Canadians, and the Portuguese being notable exceptions), have jettisoned Marxism-Leninism and become social democratic.  This move toward opportunism was usually heralded by tossing out Party symbols (such as the hammer and sickle, portraits of Lenin and Stalin) and key concepts (such as the working class, class struggle, democratic centralism, dictatorship of the proletariat, and the vanguard role of the working class and Communist Party).

Consequently, it is important to see in the writing of Chinese Communists that for the most part this has not occurred. Xi’s thought does not reflect classical opportunism.  Xi emphasizes the importance of studying Marxist theory, which he calls “the soul of the ideas and convictions of the Chinese Communists.” Xi himself has taught classes in Marxism-Leninism for leading bodies of the CPC. Xi refers to the working class as the “leading class,” and “our Party’s most steadfast and reliable class foundation.” He also stresses the “leading role” of the 90 million-strong CPC “organized according to the principles of democratic centralism.”

Still, one would be remiss not to remark on some ideological concerns revealed by the book. Xi does, for example, prefer referring to “the people” rather than “the working class.”  Also, as far as the pieces from Chinese Communists, the concepts of exploitation, class conflict, and class struggles seem to have disappeared. Understandably, Chinese Communists would find it difficult to carry on about exploitation and class struggle, while they are encouraging private enterprise and allowing the emergence of at least 152 billionaires (according to Forbes in 2024) and countless millionaires. These vast fortunes were amassed only by exploiting Chinese workers. It is difficult to ride two horses going in opposite directions.  It is difficult to encourage capitalist profit-making while attacking the exploitation upon which it rests. It is difficult to encourage capitalist enterprises while encouraging class struggle against these very enterprises.

Given such concerns, one might be forgiven for asking: Is all of this talk by the Chinese of building socialism and adhering to Marxist-Leninist principles just self-delusion or an elaborate Chinese shadow play designed to mislead the Party faithful and coverup an increasingly capitalist society of corruption, nepotism, and self-dealing? If that were true, it would be the first time in history that opportunism, revisionism or social democracy has so enthusiastically embraced Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy.  It would also mark an anomaly of leaders covering up for corruption while simultaneously campaigning against it. In 2012 General Secretary Hu Jintao identified corruption as a major problem, and his successor Xi Jinping intensified the campaign against theft, bribery and nepotism, a campaign that has resulted in over 2.7 million investigations, 1.5 million punishments, including seven national political leaders and two generals.

Xi acknowledges problems and challenges posed by the Chinese road to socialism. He says that “the principal challenge” is the “gap between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s growing expectation for a better life.”  He also proposes a change in China’s policy of relying on low-wage, export-oriented factories to an emphasis on high-quality products, innovation, cutting-edge technology, internal consumption, imports, and the service economy. Xi explains the Belt and Road initiative as part of an effort to increase China’s relations with countries of the global South while reducing its reliance on the West. Xi also proposes ambitious environmental goals to move China away from its heavy reliance on coal and toward green energy and a sustainable economy. China remains the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but under XI it has reduced carbon dependency, improved the air quality in Beijing, and become a world leader in the production of equipment for solar, hydroelectric and wind power.

Xi notes, “There has been no end to the different flavors of ‘China collapse’ theory. Yet China has not collapsed.”  As I write this review, the New York Times (May 2, 2022) headline ominously reports that “Lockdown Grips Shanghai” and reports that Covid-inspired shutdowns and testing “have ignited public frustration, exhausted local officials and medical workers, and sapped economic momentum.”  It reads like another China collapse story.  That is, unless you read the story carefully until the end.  Then you learn that China’s anti-Covid strategy has been “a signature achievement: an effective, if expensive, and generally popular [emphasis added] vow that China would avoid mass sickness and deaths.”  Indeed, only 5,000 Chinese have died from Covid while over a million Americans have. If this is an example of the failure of Chinese socialism, most of the world would be happy to fail so grandly.

The constant drumbeat of the failures of Chinese socialism that prevails in the West makes this book’s underscoring of its accomplishment refreshing and necessary. For example, just as the Soviet Union escaped the Great Depression, so the Chinese avoided the global consequences of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 and after. After 2008 the Chinese actually increased wages and consumption and created enough jobs to compensate for those lost by the crisis. Moreover, in spite of the increase in private enterprise during the period of reform and opening up, the state-owned enterprises continue to dominate the economy, particularly in such key sectors as telecommunications, shipbuilding, aviation, and high-speed railway, where the state’s revenue share is “around 83 percent,” and electronics and automotive where “it amounts to 45 percent.” Of the 500 largest enterprises in China, 90 percent of the assets and 82 percent of the profits belong to state-owned enterprises. Similarly, as Samir Amin points out, “China has remained outside of financial globalization. Its banking system is completely national.” The income of the Chinese working class has grown.

By 2004 working-class urban incomes were ten times higher in real terms than they were in 1978 and were growing by 7 percent a year. The Chinese government continues to plan and continues to execute major planning projects. In 2007, the Chinese planned to lay 8000 miles of high-speed railway by 2020 and later advanced the date to 2012. The World Bank called this “the biggest single planned program of passenger rail investment there was ever been in one country.” It is inconceivable that the state sector would remain so large and that working class wages would grow, if China was undergoing a capitalist counter-revolution.  Certainly, this did not occur in the Soviet Union after 1991.

Nonetheless, it would be Panglossian to ignore the challenges faced by the Chinese road to socialism. Amin, for example, notes that growing inequality “is a major political danger, the vehicle for the spread of rightest ideas, depoliticization, and naive illusions.” In his essay, Cheng Enfu of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences gives a startling account of the array of rightest ideas that flourish in some sectors of Chinese academia and in some sectors of the Communist Party itself.  According to Cheng Enfu, in 2012 (contrary to the figures given above) the state sector of the national economy had fallen to less than one-third, and that some academics like a former dean of the Guanghua School of Administration of Beijing University call for neo-liberalism and even more privatization than exists. Other professors associated with the journal China Digital Times openly advocate democratic socialist ideas. Even some members of the Central Party School reject Marxism-Leninism and argue for what Enfu calls “eclectic Marxism.” Even Qiushi, the magazine of the CPC Central Committee, has promoted a view of the market at variance from traditional Marxism-Leninism: “the market economy and capitalism are two different things, the former being a means to allocate resources, which can be combined either with the capitalist or socialist system.”

Clearly the struggle over China’s future is far from over, and its outcome will have momentous consequences for the whole world.  There is not a better way to become acquainted with this struggle and with the reality of China today than A China Reader. ...Read More

To purchase the book, click in the italics on Changemaker at the top. For discounted bulk orders, contact

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