News from our members and committees
Online discussion: political impact of the elections and lessons from the Biden campaign -- our strategy

The CCDS/Socialist Education project will focus on the elections for its monthly program of political education.  Activists will address issues such as analysis of the elections, impact moving forward, and the position of the Left and progressive majority to advance their agendas. 

Max Elbaum Max Elbaum has been active in peace, anti-racist and radical movements since the 1960s. He is an editor of Organizing Upgrade and the author of Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che (Verso Books, Third Edition, 2018).
Tina shannon Grassroots leader from Beaver County PA. Leader of PDA in Beaver County and advocate for Medicare for All.

and others

One tap mobile
+19294362866,,83116230604#,,,,,,0#,,639457# US (New York)
+13017158592,,83116230604#,,,,,,0#,,639457# US (Washington D.C)

Dial by your location
    +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
    +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C)
    +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
    +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
    +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
    +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
Meeting ID: 831 1623 0604
Passcode: 639457
Find your local number:
CCDS/socialist education project Sunday School on China, part II  

December 13th 4-5:30pm ET

Themes of our first program were no cold war on China, US-China relations and China's foreign policy; part II focuses on Chna's socio-economic system, the debates about socialism and capitalism and "Socialism with Chinese characteristics."
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 821 5530 7198
Passcode: 683114
One tap mobile
+19294362866,,82155307198#,,,,,,0#,,683114# US (New York)
+13017158592,,82155307198#,,,,,,0#,,683114# US (Washington D.C)

Dial by your location
    +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
    +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C)
    +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
    +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
    +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
    +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
Meeting ID: 821 5530 7198
Passcode: 683114
Find your local number:
Post-Election Reckoning:
New Hypotheses for the Road Ahead

November 7, 2020
Reprinted from Organizing Upgrace

By Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Hypothesis No. 1. One cannot understand this election unless one begins with a recognition of voter suppression: Since 2008, the Republican strategy has increasingly focused on voter suppression. The weakening, if not evisceration, of the Voting Rights Act was one significant piece of that. In the lead up to 2020 the Republicans, under Trump, have pushed this further by undermining the basic right to vote; making it more difficult; encouraging intimidation; undermining the U.S. Postal Service, long voting lines, fewer polls in Black neighborhoods, and so on.

 1.1 Thus this election was about racism and revanchism: The politics of this race do not make any sense unless one factors in racism and revanchism, the seeking of revenge. The Trump message of allegedly keeping America great, was a message against traditionally marginalized populations, including but not limited to African Americans, non-immigrant Latin@s, women, and immigrants from the global South. Trump continued to stoke fear among whites, while also playing to “colonial mentality” among some populations of color. His message to Latin@ immigrants seemed to imply that a vote for him was a vote for them having the chance of becoming ‘white.’ But the election was about a broader sense of revanchism. There was anti-communism aimed at Cuba and Venezuela. It was also a revanchism aimed at shifting gender roles.


Hypothesis No. 2. There is no doubt that there is a right-wing mass movement: Much of the U.S. Left has attempted to deny or equivocate on the existence and strength of the right-wing populist movement. One can no longer debate this. This movement exists and it has an armed wing. Along with overtly fascist groups in its core. It is a movement against the 20th century victories of progress. The fact that anyone could be convinced that Biden was a socialist not only illustrates the irrationality of the movement, but also should remind us that Sanders would not have had it any easier had he been the nominee. The right-wing movement sees any progressive reforms as equaling socialism. While many on the Left have fallen into the trap of thinking or wishing that were true, we must be in touch with reality and recognize that reforms under democratic capitalism do not equal socialism.

2.1 The Trump vote was a vote against reality: This is one of the most difficult conclusions from this election. In the face of the worst global pandemic since 1918-1919; one in which the total incompetence of the Trump administration has been on display, millions were willing to live in absolute denial, many of them continuing to believe that COVID-19 is nothing more than a bad flu. This rejection of reality translates into other areas including, but not limited to, racial relations, foreign policy, and the environmental catastrophe. This is a movement whose slogan really should be the closing line of the comedian George Wallace who would say: “That’s the way I see it, and that’s the way that it ought to be.”

2.2 Every vote must be counted: In the context of massive voter suppression, every vote must be counted, whether the vote was offered in person, through the mail or in drop-boxes. There is no Constitutional reason that a vote count should be stopped.

2.3 There is no monolithic Latin@ vote; there are Latin@ voters: The election results illustrate that there is no cohesive Latin@ vote. The Puerto Rican vote in Florida, for instance, bore absolutely no resemblance to the Cuban or Venezuelan vote. The reasons that various populations have come to the U.S.A. and the class character of many of those who have arrived here, have helped to shape their politics. Trump played to the fear among many Floridian Latin@ immigrants regarding socialism and communism. That did not work so well with Puerto Ricans. They also played to social conservatism among Chican@ voters in Texas. Though this was shrewd politics on Trump’s part, we on the Left must not fall into the trap of believing that there is a monolithic population out there. That said, the Democrats made a significant error in their work in Florida and Texas in not putting greater resources into reaching and mobilizing Latin@ voters.


Hypothesis No. 3. The main problem in this election was not the Democratic Party leadership; the strategic situation has become far more complicated: There are already those on the Left who believe that the main problem in this election was the leadership by the Democratic Party establishment. While there were many errors made, including the matter of polling (which needs to be studied in order to understand the errors), and insufficient support and vetting of statehouse candidates, (no gains were made) to a broader array of mass initiatives, the explanation for why there were not greater victories in the election cannot be dropped simply on the D.P. The factors noted above are far more significant, especially the power of right-wing populism at the base. That said, there must be major changes made, including a DP rural organizing project, continuous outreach, stronger organization at the county level, and support of electoral efforts among traditionally marginalized groups (including but not limited to African Americans and Latin@s). Though the D.P. platform was probably among the most progressive in D.P. history, the party must champion a progressive, populist message that is both anti-neo-liberal but also anti-right-wing populist. This is a critical fight to wage within the D.P., and it’s one that will strengthen the Bernie-inspired forces at the base over the Third Wave centrists.

3.1 This is a moment where we must initiate a mass campaign of “one person, one vote”: The Electoral College was created in order to support the slave-owning states and to limit the strength of the nation-state. It is an archaic institution that must be brought to an end. In almost any other country on this planet, the person who receives the most votes wins…period. Our reliance on the Electoral College means that, in effect, only certain states really matter. The struggle for “one person, one vote” needs to be a national campaign for the expansion of democracy. This includes alternative methods for allocating votes, e.g., proportional delegates rather than a state committing all of its delegates to the top vote getter, as well as new and concrete efforts to undermine voter suppression

Hypothesis No. 4. We need to think through this election in a wider context of ideas related to strategy and tactics. We can start with ‘movement-building.’

4.1 ‘Building a Movement’ is a flawed concept. But you can find it at the end of nearly every article or speech. It appears so often that it has more uses than aspirin as a cure for our ills. But we need to set it aside, or get a deeper understanding. Why? Because we don’t build them. Mass movements are largely built by capitalist outrages inflicted upon us, and capitalism will continue to do so, whether it’s another police murder, and invasion abroad, or a poisoning of a city water system. At most, we can fan the flames, which is fine but secondary. Our real task is to build organizations and campaigns within mass movements.

4.2 But we need to know the terrain. The ground of the current conjuncture is in motion. Like everything else in the universe, social movements move in waves. They flow and they ebb. You can count on it. What’s important is to know when to cast our nets out, making wide alliances and broad agitation when they are flowing, and when to pull our nets in, gathering new recruits and doing deeper education as they start to ebb. This way, with each wave, riding from the peak of one to the next, we grow stronger or stronger as an organization, gaining many new friends, until we shift the balance of forces for victories.

4.3 ‘Taking to the streets’ has serious limitations. We love street heat tactically. But as strategy it sucks. Why? Because its hidden subtext has one of two flaws. First, it has the aim of mass pressure on liberals in government to do the right thing. This often works, but as strategy, liberals approve of it. Why? Because it avoids the tasks of taking political power for ourselves, of replacing liberals in government with socialists of the AOC and her ‘squad’ variety. Moreover ‘street heat’ is often advocated as an alternative to electoral strategy, rather than a vital part of it. In short, it becomes a variety of militant liberalism.

Second, if ‘street heat’ is held up as strategy, it then becomes what can be called ‘the street syndicalist deviation.’ Its projected means of taking power is mainly through the mass political strike or general strike. It seeks to avoid exhausting existing parliamentary means by bypassing them with embryonic instruments of dual power that will draw the masses away from elections and into local mass assemblies. If the current conjuncture were one of being on the cusp of armed insurrection, this would be useful. But most often, it’s not, and in these conditions, it’s simply the myth of the general strike as a cover to skip the organization of the means to take power in government. Gaining government seats, in and of themselves, are likewise limited. But holding them enables us to sharpen contradictions and wage battles on a much higher level.

4.4 Neither movement-building nor street heat are minor matters. They have been the default position of the left and wider progressive forces for at least 50 years. One major reason is the tax code, allowing exemptions to 501C3-designated groups. The catch is they are not allowed to tell people to vote for this or that candidate, or this or that piece of legislation. They have to pull their punches to the ‘education but no endorsement’ boundary. This amounts to a back-handed federal subsidy to the street-syndicalist deviation, keeping people in their separate silo and always short of forming and instrument that can win elections and place socialists and their close allies in seats of power. We can still form and work with 501C3 group, but we have to escape the cul-de-sac they can keep us without alternative forms of organizations.

Seymour Joseph
Let's shout HOORAY! We won the day!
We saw the tyrant fall.
We dumped the chump named Donald Trump!
Congratulations all!
And now begins expunging sins
Committed by this crook.
He violated and isolated
So bad the whole world shook.
But we can't shirk, let's get to work
To realize our dream.
The path to bind is push behind
The Biden/Harris team!
Urgency, Boldness and Patience for the Long Game

By Calvin Cheung-Miaw

I’m confident that Biden won the presidential election, and that we will be able to defend that victory against the challenge Trump will inevitably mount.

Biden won by scratching out close victories in a handful of key states. Every single part of the anti-Trump front, it turns out, was absolutely indispensable. Those of us on the left who identified the necessity of defeating Trump and then decided to throw our energy into that fight rather than watch from the sidelines were correct to do so.

Progressives and the left played a particularly important role in this election. The members of UniteHere – hospitality workers whose livelihoods have been decimated by the pandemic – led the way in showing all of us that we ought to be on the ground knocking doors. Efforts like Seed the Vote and Water for Grassroots provided a way for progressives and leftists to contribute to Biden’s victory by supporting grassroots organizations rooted in communities of color and the working class. Seed the Vote volunteers alone knocked over 70,000 doors in Arizona, as part of a much larger effort driven by UniteHere’s Local 11. The formation of The Frontline in late September brought racial justice activists into the movement to oust Trump.
The overall result of the election poses a number of challenges for the left. This electorate has been through a once-in-a-generation experience: a raging pandemic combined with a crushing economic collapse and an extraordinarily broad uprising for racial justice. Yet this has, even with enormous turnout levels, barely shaken up the electorate, swinging it perhaps a couple percentage points Biden’s way. Many of us expected that the past four years, especially the last 8 months, would thoroughly discredit the President. To the contrary, Trump’s takeover of the GOP has actually established Trumpism as a legitimate form of opposition to the Democrats and liberalism, for half the electorate. This is how we should understand Trump’s gains compared to 2016 among white women and men of color. Those results are only surprising because they are entirely banal, well within the normal range of GOP support among those demographics in presidential contests over the last two decades.

Our best shot at weakening Trumpism is a massive struggle for policies that will materially improve the lives of workers, women, and people of color. Here, too, we have an uphill battle.

The Republicans have probably held onto the Senate; there is a slim chance the Democrats may win a 50-50 split. That outcome, however, will likely leave the most conservative elements of the Democratic caucus – Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema – with outsized power. Democrats may end up losing seats in the house, with few (if any) of the progressive challengers in red districts picking up victories. There are certainly bright spots, like the victories of Cori Bush and Jamal Bowman, but those of us who hoped that the election would provide a significantly more favorable political terrain for winning even the policies that Biden campaigned on, who understand that at a minimum this society is in for a pitched struggle over who will pay for the reconstruction of society in COVID’s aftermath, must admit we have a tough road ahead.

The results from Tuesday thus suggest that the left ought to prioritize the patient work of building our social base and core institutions – whether those are labor unions, member-led community organizations, state-level independent political organizations, or electoral projects like Durham For All – with the understanding that the project of defeating Trumpism and cohering an alternative social bloc will be a generation-long process. Yet what the moment demands of us is something different, and this is clear every time we witness a police murder, or smell the forests burning, or flee the hurricanes pummeling our coastal towns, or look at the COVID-19 statistics, or talk to those who have been thrown out of work or crushed by medical debt.

Urgency and boldness and patience, with a view to the long game – this is what we’ve got to unknot in our theory and practice.

Calvin Cheung-Miaw is an Advisory Editor of Organizing Upgrade.
from Harry Targ, CCDS CoChair
“Along with striving to build left unity, our organization must continue to participate with the many vibrant and exciting single and multiple issue "progressive majority" groups. We need to work in and with The Squad, Vets for Peace, the Sunrise Movement, Indivisible, New Poor People's Campaign, Medicare for all, Fight for 15, BLM, Code Pink, the labor movement, and on and on. Irrespective of the November 3 outcome, the times will be pregnant with disaster or mobilization for significant positive change in policies and institutions."
Congresswoman Barbara Lee Speaking at the Move the Money Town Hall meeting in New York
MOVE THE MONEY-NYC Campaign update -

submitted by Tom Gogan Nov. 2020

After months of being shut in and effectively shut down, our campaign is again picking up steam. We had just reached a solid one-third of Council Members as co-sponsors of Resolution 747 just as the pandemic shutdown suddenly hit hard in mid-March. The resolution calls on the Federal government and our Federal legislators to ‘significantly reduce” military spending and to transfer those funds to human needs; housing , education, healthcare and much more. This is the first campaign of its kind in New York City – or in any City over a million, in that it calls for in-depth hearings on the impacts of all this war spending on our local residents and workers. Such hearings would be televised locally and we expect to disseminate them far and wide.

The resolution’s lead sponsor is Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, a progressive Dominican-born City Council Member. The Dominican Republic has long been subject to U.S, domination – including military occupation in the early 20th century, longtime support for the vicious dictator Trujillo, and then Lyndon Johnson’s April 1965 invasion of the D.R., overthrowing the democratically-elected Juan Bosch. Masses of Dominican workers soon fled the ensuing chaos and few have forgotten. Dominicans now comprise a big voting bloc in New York City in 2016 electing the first-ever Dominican-American Congress Member, Adriano Espaillat. This past summer, Rep. Espaillat voted with Rep. Barbara Lee and ninety others to decrease Pentagon funding by 10%, the first such vote in a generation.

The heavy Spring lockdown of New York City even shut down City Council operations for months, and when the Council reconvened in June, mass street protests after the brutal George Floyd murder led here in NYC to a City Council battle over ‘”defunding’ the police This led to several hundred thousand dollars being moved from the NYPD budget to social services. The budget battle featured debate over militarized policing of black and brown working class communities and could presage a local fight over the massive Federal military budget, if our coalition has the impact we hope it will have.

After months of stasis, while most of us learned how to use Zoom, we were ready to put into motion an earlier plan: to hold a Town Hall meeting. We invited hundreds of people and had about a hundred tune in to hear Rep. Lee, Council Member Rodriguez, and representatives of healthcare workers’ union 1199SEIU, the Poor Peoples’ Campaign, Code Pink and Move the Money-NYC educate listeners about our campaign and how the massive $740 billion military budget severely hurts our communities. Llively discussion followed. We noted the bilateral nature of the US military-industiral juggernaut and its destructive impacts both locally and worldwide
Meanwhile, term-limited Council Members, whose terms end in late 2021, are eyeing other City posts. Among our 18 co-sponsors so far, several will run for citywide or borough offices, which range from Mayor to Comptroller to the Borough Presidents of Brooklyn and Manhattan. We will be pressing them to speak out more loudly in support of our demand that we must “Move the Money --- From War to Our Communities!” – even as we press forward towards wining the Council majority needed to set those in-depth Council hearings in motion. Stay tuned!
So What Happened in Florida? Some Explanation and Analysis

Polls fairly consistently predicted a slim Biden victory in Florida's 2020 presidential election. Instead, there was a repeat of Hillary Clinton's 2016 defeat by an even greater margin, although still fairly close. Biden lost by around 380,000 votes out of a total of some 11 million cast.

So what happened? There appear to have been several factors. One is that, although Biden did apparently carry the African-American vote, it doesn't seem to have been at the same turn-out level as generated by Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 victories.
Biden was predicted to pick up more of the senior vote, but to the extent this may have happened, it was insufficient. There was talk of a considerably greater youth turn-out, but to the extent it materialized, it wasn't enough to make a substantial difference.

In one major respect Florida must be understood the same as the rest of the "red" and "blue" US. That is, the same urban vs. rural dynamic played out. All of Florida's major urban centers went for Biden (exceptions being smaller urbanized retirement centers such as The Villages and Sarasota that are relatively affluent and predictably Republican). Nearly all of Florida's rural areas (excepting Gadsden County, and more on that below) went for Trump.

One element that deserves particular focus is Florida's Hispanic vote. It should be stated that Biden did carry Miami-Dade County, but by markedly less than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. The reason being the Cuban-American and related conservative Hispanic vote. Non-conservative Hispanics are still a majority, but as just seen in this election, conservative Hispanics are a growing problem for Democrats and progressives.
There were two overlapping problems here. The Biden campaign was late to the game in addressing this constituency. It can be argued they would have lost it anyway, but maybe by not as much, and it sure didn't help they didn't really bother until it was too late.

The other factor, wherein the Republicans seemed to have learned from the 2000 Bush-Gore experience but the Democrats didn't, the Republicans flooded Miami-area Spanish-language radio with ads and commentary denouncing Biden as a "socialist," a pro-Castro "communist," along with a variety of Q-Anon and other conspiracy theory.
So there it is, for now. There are sure to be other post-mortems.
Here's a more detailed county-by-county breakdown of the 12 counties out of 67 that went for Biden, and why:

Alachua County is home to Gainesville, the college town of the University of Florida. Chock full of white liberal students and faculty.
Broward County, on Florida's SE Atlantic Coast, with Ft. Lauderdale as county seat, is home to a lot of northern retirees, also a substantial African-American population.

Miami-Dade, beyond the Cuban-Americans and similarly conservative Venezuelan, Colombian, and Nicaraguan-Americans, has a broad-based Hispanic population, as well as large African-American and Haitian-American communities.
Duval County encompasses the City of Jacksonville on Florida's NE Atlantic Coast, and is home to a large African-American population. Close to Georgia, Duval County recently shifted from "red" to "purple."

Gadsden County, situated just below Georgia on the Florida Panhandle, is an anomaly because it is the only county in Florida with a majority (55%) African-American population.

Hillsborough County, on Florida's Gulf Coast, including Tampa as one of Florida's largest cities, has a substantial number of liberal whites, retirees, and a large African-American population.

Leon County, including Tallahassee, the state capital, has a large number of government employees, is home to Florida State University, along with a fair number of African-Americans.

Orange County, with Orlando as its county seat, has a large number of low-wage employees of the tourism industry, liberal whites, the University of Central Florida, and substantial Hispanic and African-American populations.
Osceola County, just south of Orange County, is home to a huge number of low-wage tourism workers and one of the largest non-Cuban-American Hispanic populations in Florida.

Palm Beach County on Florida's SE Atlantic Coast, has a large African-American population and a considerable number of low-wage farmworkers. Like Broward County, also a fair number of retirees.

Pinellas County, including the major urban center of St. Petersburg, like Hillsborough County, features liberal whites, retirees, and a large African-American population.

Seminole County, just north of Orange (Orlando) County, may be the oddest case in the state. Until just a few years ago, a deeply red county. There's been a substantial influx of "refugees" in search of affordable housing, and the county is located just north of the University of Central Florida, with many faculty and student residents. In 2018 and now in 2020, Seminole County went for the top of the ticket Democrats, but with only a couple of exceptions, for down-ballot Republicans.

Again, the rest of Florida pretty much fits Trump's "red state" profile.

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

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

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

Support the Breathe Act
Support the Thrive Agenda

CCDS has signed on to Protect the Results

With the election just 17 days away it makes sense that people are gearing up their voter turnout and voter protection efforts. This is also the time to put plans into place to quickly move into public action if Trump interferes with or undermines the voting counting process and the results. The Protect the Results coalition is organizing a nationwide, decentralized mobilization with a clear demand: all the votes must be counted and there must be a peaceful transition of power.
We invite your group to participate in the NYC planning process that is getting underway, initiated by the NYC Protect the Results Coalition. We want to be ready to have people in the streets as early as Wednesday, Nov. 4…the day after the election. This is a tentative date and mechanisms to quickly get the word out with final dates and times are being developed. What we do in the aftermath of the election can be as important as what we’re doing before the election!
There are three ways your group can be a part of this effort. we encourage you to complete this short form to indicate how you can contribute to this effort. Will you: 
Demanding a Nation That 'Cares for All' Not Just the Wealthy Few, Progressives Unveil People's Charter

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

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

522 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
415 863-6637