SEP 4th Monday September 27, 2021, 9 pm Eastern

Socialist Education Education Project 4th Monday series
Harry Targ, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Purdue University, Blogger at Diary of a Heartland Radical, co-chair of CCDS, and author of books and articles on international relations, Cuba, and the labor movement.
The attacks on “critical race theory” are part of an assault by some powerful political and economic elites who seek to shape who and what is taught in educational systems. This talk will address ideological conflicts and address the claim that the “ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class.” Particular attention will be given to the transformation of higher education. Targ will describe particularly the example of Purdue University, the land grant public university in Indiana.

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Building Bridges:
Remembering Richard Trumka,
groundbreaking labor leader

By Paul Krehbiel

Richard Trumka, president of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO, who died August 5, 2021, is being mourned by millions. The movement he built and led for decades helped transform our labor movement and society: from his militant leadership of the Pittston Strike as United Mineworkers president; to solidarity unionism with immigrant and international workers; to new alliances with women and young workers, climate justice fighters, and Black Lives Matter. The left should support Trumka’s efforts to build bridges in order to move labor and society in a progressive direction.

While Trumka had his critics from inside the labor movement on issues that must be addressed, overall he was a transformative leader at a critical time in our history. Trumka navigated treacherous waters for over 40 years fighting a relentless and ruthless class war waged by the capitalist class set to destroy the Mine Workers Union –a central base of militant class struggle unionism and social justice activism. Combined with right-wing forces in society and within the political class – led by an increasingly fascist GOP, and conservative union sisters and brothers whom Trumka worked with inside the AFL-CIO, Trumka’s path was fraught with obstacles and landmines.

A third generation coal miner, Trumka began working in a coal mine in 1968. Active in his union, he later earned a law degree, and was elected president of the United Mineworkers of America at age 33. As national union president, Trumka led an historic nine-month strike at Pittston Coal in 1989, defeating a company campaign to destroy the union’s pension and health care fund, and the union itself. The strike was won with mass picketing by thousands of miners, their families, community supporters, and other union members who came from across the country to Camp Solidarity. But the UMWA paid a steep price. It was fined $64 million, as one club of many used against the union. The capitalist class united their allies in the courts, press, and local political officials and law enforcement in an effort to destroy the union. The UMWA responded with direct action, civil disobedience, and the occupation of the mine.

Labor and social justice solidarity

Trumka, as president of the UMWA and later the AFL-CIO supported many other unions, locally and internationally, and social justice causes, including the struggle of miners in South Africa who were fighting for better wages, benefits, working conditions, dignity and justice and against apartheid. He was a leader of the international campaign to boycott Shell Oil to help bring down apartheid. Along with many other US and international trade unionists he helped lead a boycott of Shell distributors. Along with fellow unionists and comrades, I passed out boycott petitions to drivers and asked them to go to other gas stations, which they did.

In 1995 Trumka was elected AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer on the New Voices slate, committing to further change the direction of the AFL-CIO. He promised to increase organizing the unorganized (with mixed success), increase the fight against racism and all forms of discrimination, support immigrant rights, promote more progressive policies, and deepen international labor solidarity. In 2009, Trumka was elected AFL-CIO president.

After a policeman shot and killed with impunity an unarmed Black youth, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Trumka changed his planned speech for the Missouri AFL-CIO convention to focus on the flagrant police murders of Black people and other people of color, and called for a program to identify and combat racism in both society and in the labor movement. Trumka also urged white union members and all workers to reject racism and vote for Barack Obama, against racist GOP candidates, and to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Trumka worked to defeat Trump in 2020 by contacting and empowering state and county labor federations to organize massive phone calling to voters. I was one of those phone bankers calling Black Philadelphia union members from the Los Angeles Country Federation of Labor.

Richard Trumka led a long and principled life fighting for worker’s rights and social justice for all. He inspired millions of workers and our allies to action. He opened the door to the political left with a strong campaign to protect worker’s rights. Our task, the task of the entire left, is to build on and strengthen this trajectory, deepen relationships with our union friends and allies, and step up the exposure of the abuses of capitalism. Finally, in the spirit of Trumka, our goal is to reduce the power of capitalists and to make the voice of labor the majority power in society. For many of us this is socialism.

Paul Krehbiel is a life-long union and social justice activist. He was a past union auto worker and Teamster. He worked with the California Federation of Labor to defeat the 2012 anti-labor Proposition 32, and was coordinator of LA Labor for Bernie in 2016 and 2020. He is national co-chair of CCDS.
Miners and supporters blast mining corporations. Under socialism, the government, union and community planning would ensure good paying union jobs for coal miners in coal or an alternative industry.
Miners protesting peacefully are arrested by state police under mining company orders, while the union is fined millions of dollars for “driving too slowly” and other frivolous infractions
A century after the Battle of Blair Mountain, protecting workers’ right to organize has never been more important
by Dave Kamper  
reprinted from Economic Policy Institute

Thousands are expected this week in the forested hills of southern West Virginia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain—a key conflict in labor history.

In the late summer of 1921, at least 7,000 coal miners affiliated with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) fought for their rights and their livelihoods in a weeklong fight against a private army that was raised by the coal companies and supported by the National Guard and the U.S. Army Air Force. The battle was the climax of two decades of low-intensity warfare across the coalfields of Appalachia, and it remains the largest battle on U.S. soil since the end of the Civil War.

The battle is also a stark reminder of the importance of protecting workers’ right to organize. It’s not simply about balancing the economic scales; it’s about power. When workers do not have power—when they have no voice in their workplace and no voice in how the nation is governed—exploitation and violence by the state are the inevitable result.

Today, workers still face a lack of power. A great way to empower workers would be through passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which is currently being considered by Congress and was renamed after former UMWA President Richard Trumka following his passing earlier this month. The story of the Battle of Blair Mountain demonstrates how, a hundred years on, workers are at the mercy of the powerful unless they have unions and power of their own.

When workers don’t have power, companies too often govern themselves

The immediate origin of the battle was the conflict in Mingo County, West Virginia. Fighting during the previous year in Mingo County, including shootouts, ambushes, and bombings, was the basis for John Sayles’s 1987 film, Matewan. By the summer of 1921, the governor had imposed martial law when asked by the mine companies, as the historian James Green details in his 2015 book, The Devil Is Here in These Hills: West Virginia’s Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom. 

That isn’t an exaggerated description of the companies’ power. In many mining regions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mine companies for all practical purposes were the government. Seven years before the Battle of Blair Mountain, J.D. Rockefeller’s Colorado Fuel and Iron Company paid the salaries of the National Guardsmen who opened fire on a tent city of strikers and their families in Ludlow, Colorado. Sixty-six people were killed, including at least 11 children, as the tent city was set ablaze. No one was charged with or convicted of any crime in connection with the massacre.

In West Virginia in 1921, the mine companies raised a private army of some 2,000 men, many of them World War I veterans, and imprisoned union leaders in Mingo County. The Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, hired by the Stone Mountain Coal Company and other coal mine owners to facilitate union busting, helped organize the private army.

There is a clear line to be drawn from the violent tactics of Baldwin-Felts to the smoother, legalistic strategies of present-day law firms like Morgan Lewis, which advised Amazon in its efforts to defeat the unionization effort in Bessemer, Alabama, earlier this year. (A new election is likely to be ordered based on Unfair Labor Practices committed by the company.) Corporations have always shown a willingness to spend money like water to suppress worker organizing.

On August 1, 1921, agents of Baldwin-Felts gunned down Mingo County Sheriff Sid Hatfield and United Mine Workers of America organizer Ed Chambers on the steps of the McDowell County Courthouse. Hatfield had fought on the side of the workers at Matewan the year before, killing two brothers of Baldwin-Felts co-owner Thomas Felts. None of the gunmen were convicted for the murders. read more
Battle of Matewan
From Randy Shannon, Western PA:: My first visit to Matewan was this year on the 100th Anniversary of the shoot out between Chief of Police Sid Hatfield, Mayor Testerman, and UMWA leaders vs the Baldwin Felts gun thugs. Hatfield was a former miner..
My son Ben came down too to get inspiration for his songwriting. The middle pic is him pointing to bullet holes from the shootout. "
This pic is me with Kenzie New Walker, Exec. Dir. of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. She invited me to visit to join the memorialization of the day and to receive public recognition along with others who had donated funds to help the Museum. The main funding was by the UMWA and actively supported by Pres. Cecil Roberts. The UMWA purchased a closed bank building on the Main Street. The photo of me is in the new Hall of the local UMWA. 
It was a memorable trip. The WVMWM is organizing an elaborate and weeks long memorial for the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain in coming weeks, including a three day March in the footsteps of the 3,000 miners who fought BaldwinFelts and US troops to liberate miners in Mingo County. 
Harry Targ, Indiana: WHY REMEMBER BLAIR MOUNTAIN? Times have changed.Miners are still fighting for their rights. Other workers fighting for their rights are teachers, nurses, fast-food workers, baristas, gig workers, delivery workers, college adjuncts, and more. But their struggles are similar to those 100 years ago. And IMO, we socialists need to revisit, redefine, and reengage in the struggles of the 21st century working class, in the US and around the world.
The Protests in Cuba, Ending the U.S. Sanctions Regime on Cuba, Race and the Cuban Revolution:
A Report from the Peace & Solidarity Committee
By Pat Fry

On August 23, 2021, the Socialist Education Project of CCDS hosted a conversation about the current situation in Cuba and what activists can do to end the brutal sanctions begun under the Trump Administration and thus far under the Biden Administration. The program was led by Merri Ansara who has recently returned from Cuba where she lives part of the year and Pat Fry whose prepared remarks are presented here. The result of the discussion was a recommendation generally agreed upon to ask the Peace & Solidarity Committee of CCDS to undertake organizing a campaign to end the draconian sanctions on Cuba and organize a discussion on “Race and the Cuban Revolution.”

The regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the P&S Committee on September 13, 2021 discussed the proposals which were presented by Pat Fry for consideration. It was decided that the committee will make Cuba a focus of attention over the next 4 months, considering the critical importance of Cuba politically for the hemisphere, and the U.S. sustained targeting of Cuba in its efforts to overthrow the democratically elected socialist government.

Pat Fry announced that there is an effort underway to bring together a wide range of organizations and individuals who work on Cuba issues to plan strategy and tactics for the immediate future of work on Cuba. A meeting will be held at the end of September led by four working groups with emphasis on legislative policy in Congress and the Administration, humanitarian aid and countering disinformation.

The P&S committee agreed on the following projects in October:

October 11, 2021, the next monthly meeting of P&S: A discussion on “Race and the Cuban Revolution.” An invitation with flyer and registration will be circulated before 9/19/21. There will be links to 2 readings and 2 audio interviews in preparation for the discussion which will be led by long time Cuba activist Otis Cunningham. The discussion will begin at 8:00 PM ET – 9:30 PM. Lisa Brock, author and activist on Cuba will chair the program which will be co-sponsored by the CoC Education Fund.

October 25, 2021, the next monthly Socialist Education Project program will hear a report-back from the end of September broad based meeting on Cuba and discuss a plan for CCDS participation.

All CCDS members and friends are invited and urged to participate in the above discussion and action plans.

The Cuba protests, the U.S. role and the response,
Presentation by Pat Fry 8/23/21 SEP

There were two protests in Cuba recently that have garnered distorted and overblown coverage in U.S. corporate media: a small protest in the San Isidro neighborhood of Havana in April and the July 11th protests in a number of areas of the country which got a great deal of attention in the foreign press. Responding to the July 11th protests, I want to read from the press release of the Cuban government:
“The disturbances and incidents that took place in some localities in Cuba on July 11 are the result of a plan designed by the government of the United States to opportunistically exert the greatest possible pressure against our country, at a time when we are facing a complex situation derived from 16 months of confronting the pandemic and its current resurgence, in addition to the severe tightening of the blockade and the brutal restrictions imposed on the Cuban people.

“This has seriously affected the normal functioning of the Cuban economy by critically reducing income from exports of goods and services, access to fuel, medicines and medical supplies. These measures are intended to present a collapsed country in chaos, in order to provoke a social outburst and justify an external intervention.” End of quote.

We know that hundreds of millions of US taxpayer dollars are being used to fund organizations, individuals, and various media outlets for the purpose of fomenting subversion against the Cuban government. Cuban authorities are well aware of these efforts and they know who is organizing it. As the press release commented, “The Cuban State and Government and its institutions are in full control of the situation.”

Most people who took to the streets on July 11th, said Cuban President Diaz-Canel, are not against the revolution but have legitimate dissatisfactions, pointing to the difficulties caused by the U.S. blockade, such as electricity blackouts due to turning hotels into hospitals to deal with the covid pandemic.

Yet it must also be understood that some of the people who came out to protest are those that are suffering the most, writes Cuban artist Abelardo Mena. “They are that part of the people who have been most disadvantaged by the inevitable increase in social inequality with which the advance of market reforms has lacerated and segmented our society.”

Yes, there are marginalized neighborhoods in Cuba and they are mainly Afro Cuban and Mestizo owing to the legacy of slavery and discrimination. Not everyone was at the same starting line when the revolution succeeded in 1959, a revolution that improved the lives of all Cubans in health care, education, job security. “The most marginalized sector of the people,” writes Mena, “fall prey to anti-social activities and sometimes counter-revolutionary activities.” These are contradictions that the Cuban government and mass organizations have been working on resolving.

I saw this up close on a trip to Cuba in 2016 – we were a small group of comrades, learning of the history, culture and present situation of African-descendant Cubans. The trip was organized by activist and author Lisa Brock. Our trip took us to one of the marginalized neighborhoods on the outskirts of Havana, La Lisa, a community of 22,000 mainly Afro-Cuban and Mestizo people. We visited the Proyecto Comunitario de Mujeres – Community Project of Women. Founded in 2004 the center was a house abandoned when owners left Cuba following the revolution, and it was given to the community by the government. The center organizes social, educational, and cultural activities such as the Black Doll Project, handmade colorful paper mache dolls with traditional dress that are sold. It was explained by one of the center’s leaders that the Black Doll project represents “how we defend our identity.”

This is but one example of the kinds of work being done in marginalized communities – there is much more to say about all this and in a deeper way – it will be the subject of our next CCDS Peace & Solidarity committee meeting next month on September 13th. We invite all of you to attend. The session will be led by Otis Cunningham who was also on our 2016 trip and well versed on race in Cuba.

It is not surprising that the U.S. government is basing its subversive operations in largely Afro Cuban communities, working through hip hop and social media platforms. They are attempting to divide the pro-Cuba progressive movement in the U.S. and erode Cuba’s reputation earned by its historic military campaign against apartheid in Africa, and its concrete expressions of solidarity with the struggles of African Americans in the U.S.

In this country, attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement have come fast and furious following its statements of solidarity after the July 11th protests. In their statement, they condemn “the U.S. government’s inhumane treatment of the Cuban people,” recognizing that “Cuba has historically demonstrated solidarity with oppressed peoples of African descent, from protecting Black political prisoners, revolutionaries like Assata Shakur through granting her asylum, to supporting Black liberation struggles in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, and South Africa.”

Attempts to discredit Black Lives Matter have come in several corporate media outlets, and electeds from both the Democrat and Republican parties that are catering to the Miami anti-Cuba crowd. Newsweek published an article quoting a supposed Cuban American in Miami who said he regretted protesting racist police killings because BLM has betrayed Black people in Cuba. The Washington Post quoted a Cuban counter revolutionary associated with the San Isidro Movement (April protest in another Afro-Cuban poor neighborhood) who denounced Black Lives Matter for its statement of solidarity. Celebrity artists and writers in the U.S. and Europe wrote an open letter to President Diaz-Canel that appeared in the New York Review of Books, demanding the release from jail of the leader of the San Isidro Movement after he was convicted of crimes that he himself did not contest. The letter was signed by number of prominent Black and Afro Latin cultural figures, among them Henry Louis-Gates.

In an excellent investigative report on these developments, Max Blumenthal wrote in the Grayzone, “San Isidro had been propelled onto the international stage thanks to substantial support from the U.S. State Department, its regime change subsidiaries, and right-wing corporate lobbyists eager to see Cuba open up for business.”

At a congressional hearing on Cuba of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Florida Democrat, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, cited commentary by liberal academic Amalia Dache assailing Black Lives Matter for its statement of solidarity with the Cuban revolution. She then pointed to Afro-Cubans as an emerging base of anti-communist ferment on the island. (Blumenthal)

The same day on Capitol Hill, the right-wing Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation honored the San Isidro Movement during its Captive Nations Week Summit. Cuban hip-hop artist Maykel Osorbo accepted the award in front of the gathering of silver-haired right-wing Republicans.” (Blumenthal)

As Blumenthal notes, the “US government-sponsored operatives affiliated with the San Isidro Movement helped lay the groundwork for the July 11th protests in Cuba from U.S. soil. Working from Florida, they launched the #SOSCuba hashtag calling for U.S. intervention in Cuba months before it flooded social media networks.”

I want to mention a fine statement of the Communist Party USA’s African American Equality Commission in defense of the Black Lives Matter’s statement.

President Biden has thus far betrayed his campaign promise to roll back the Trump administration’s inhumane and genocidal sanctions. Commenting on the July 11th protests, Biden said Cubans are responding to “decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime.” The Mayor of Miami called for a military invasion. It has been noted by press reports that there were much larger crowds of anti-Cuba protesters in Miami than were in Cuba on July 11th. And both were dwarfed by the huge numbers of Cubans who came out in support of their government.

Shortly after his inauguration, 80 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Biden urging him to end restrictions to travel and remittances without delay. And the day after the July 11th protests, Reps. Barbara Lee and James McGovern wrote a letter to Biden asking for a meeting to discuss Cuba policy, urging Cuba’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and dismantling obstacles to sending medical supplies and family remittances. We do not know if the asked for meeting has taken place.

What can we do?

Demands at this moment: Roll back Trump sanctions on commerce and trade especially for humanitarian efforts, reinstate remittances and consular services, and remove Cuba from state sponsors of terrorism list:
  • Use letter to Congress and information packets developed by Mass Peace Action to contact your Congressperson, meet in person and/or send letter.
  • Support the Global Health Partners new campaign for medical equipment and medicines: (
  • Support the IFCO Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba this year:
  • Subscribe to Perspectives from Havana Bulletin:
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THE UNITED STATES IN AFGHANISTAN: THE THIRTY YEARS WAR: Or What the New York Times Leaves Out (a repost from, December 22, 2009) Harry Targ

Harry Targ

"The War in Afghanistan: How It Started and How It Is Ending”

“Weeks after Al Qaeda attacked the United States on Sept. 11, President George W. Bush announced that American  forces had launched attacks against the terrorist group and Taliban targets in Afghanistan.” David  Zucchino, New York Times, August 8, 2021.htps://,  ( 

Why did the United States invade Afghanistan? The New York Times Story Begins 20 Years too late

When the Soviet Union sent 85,000 of its troops to Afghanistan in late December, 1979, President Carter declared that the United States was forced to return to Cold War military preparedness. But, in fact, the Carter administration had been escalating military commitments and operations throughout 1979, months before the Soviet action.

In a brief televised address two weeks after the Soviet invasion, the President denounced it as “a deliberate effort by a powerful atheistic government to subjugate an independent Islamic people.” He said it threatened “both Iran and Pakistan” and was “a stepping-stone” for the Soviets possible control “over much of the world’s oil supplies.”

The President followed his brief condemnation with a lengthy State of the Union address to the American people on January 21, 1980. In it he announced some extraordinary changes in United States foreign policy that constituted a decisive return to Cold War with the Soviet Union.

The changes Carter initiated included the following: reduction of grain sales to the Soviet Union; curtailment of high technology trade with them; postponement of ratification of the SALT II arms control agreement; enlarging strategic forces; beefing up NATO forces; establishing a Caribbean Joint Task Force Headquarters; unleashing the CIA; installing a program of draft registration; and providing more military assistance to Pakistan, South Korea, and Thailand.

Perhaps the most important policy change was the establishment of a 100,000 person military “rapid deployment force” which could be instantly mobilized in crisis situations. And he proclaimed that the Persian Gulf was vital to U.S. security interests and would be protected; what became known as the Carter Doctrine.

All these announced changes were billed by administration spokespersons as a response to the duplicitous Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Ultimately, they said, the Soviets wanted to invade Iran, secure Persian Gulf oil, secure warm water ports, and expand their Asian empire. The U.S., they argued, had to respond to this expansion of the Cold War.

But a careful examination of the events of 1979 prior to the Soviet invasion suggests a different timeline and interpretation. In January, 1979, the Shah of Iran, the closest of U.S. allies, was toppled in a revolution. Carter aides initially had urged him to send troops to Teheran to save our Persian Gulf cop from ouster but the revolution came too fast to save the Shah.

After Iran, in the Caribbean and Central America revolutions occurred in tiny Grenada (March, 1979) and historically anti-Communist Nicaragua (July, 1979). There was a coup by military reformers in El Salvador (October, 1979). In early November, 1979, Iranian students took approximately 70 U.S. government representatives hostage.

The administration perceived itself as being threatened by the spread of hostile regimes and movements and the collapse of the vital ally in Iran was deemed the most critical to U.S. interests. As a result of all these crises, Carter began military rearmament, secured new bases, tried to undermine the changes occurring in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and allowed the Shah of Iran to enter the United States in October, 1979 for medical treatment.

Inside the Carter administration, foreign policy decision makers feared the collapse of U.S. power around the world. However, they felt the United States could not respond because of the so-called “Vietnam Syndrome.” That is, decision makers believed that most Americans opposed a return to militarism and interventionism.

Then, fortunately for the Carter team, the Soviet Union, fearful of the collapse of an allied regime in Kabul and increasingly seeing itself as encircled by China in the East and a beefed up NATO in the West, sent troops into Afghanistan. The Soviet Union fell into a trap set by the Carter Administration.

What was the nature of this trap? Well, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in an interview given to the French newspaper, Le Nouvel Observateur in January, 1998, said that official CIA accounts which say the United States began to support rebels in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion were lies. In fact, he said, “…it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.” The National Security advisor said he wrote the President “…that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.”

Brzezinski told Carter that the Soviets would probably intervene in Afghanistan if we funded rebels and that they, the Soviets, would then be buried in their own Vietnam. In retrospect, he said, the Soviet incursion led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and its “empire.” He suggested that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism was of minor concern compared to the threat of international communism.

Reflecting back thirty years, the following conclusions seem justified. First the United States returned to an aggressive Cold War policy not after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan but before it.

Second, President Carter announced a broad array of aggressive policies toward the Soviet Union after the Soviet invasion but these were in place or in the process of development before the Soviet moves of December, 1979.

Third, the United States began funding the various fundamentalist groups to fight against the secular and modernizing regime in Kabul before the Soviets sent troops. And that led subsequently, as the Center for Defense Information estimated, to the United States funneling $2 billion to rebel forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Fourth, the war on the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul destroyed efforts to modernize the tradition-bound country. Women, who had become active participants in public life and the economy in the 1980s lost control of their lives after the pro-Soviet regime collapsed. In general, an estimated one million Afghans died in the 1980s from war and repression and some five million fled the country.

We know about what happened after the troubled 1980s in Afghanistan. The Soviet troops withdrew. After a time, the secular regime in Kabul was ousted from power. Competing fundamentalist militias vied for control of the state. The Taliban consolidated their power by 1996. Then the United States launched its public war on Afghanistan in October, 2001. But, the record suggests, the United States initiated its war on the country as far back as July, 1979.

The pain and suffering of the peoples of Afghanistan have a long history before and since the United States intervened in their political lives in 1979. Many outside powers share responsibility for their plight. But today’s situation directly relates to the covert war the United States encouraged and funded from the summer of 1979.
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9/11 at 20: Our Moral Obligation After Two Decades of War

First, Washington needs to stop killing people. Next, we have to challenge our nation's assumptions and priorities.

September 11, 2021

The day after President Biden’s speech defending the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new poll indicated a significant majority of people in the U.S. supported the move. More than two-thirds agreed the U.S. had failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan. That’s a far cry from the 88 percent who supported the war when it was launched in October 2001. 

Spending more on the U.S. military budget than the next 10 countries combined represents a huge part of the reason we have to struggle so hard to fund crucial social needs—from healthcare to climate to education and more.

In part, this is a movement victory. 
Movements against the war on terror emerged within days of the 9/11 attacks, even before the first U.S. bombers assaulted Kabul. This rising anti-war drumbeat played a major part in pulling public opinion away from support for Washington’s “forever wars.” It wasn’t a given that Biden would pull out of Afghanistan—other presidents have promised to do so and then failed. This time, there is no question that public opposition to the war was critical to Biden’s decision. 

That shift also shows that people across the U.S. have learned some harsh realities that anti-war activists mobilized around for years.

Americans now agree there is no military solution to terrorism. They recognize that governments and military forces that are created and imposed by occupying armies will never be, and never be seen as, fighting for the people or the country, but only as fighting for an unwelcome foreign government. They’ve come to accept that women’s rights and democracy can’t be won and that terrorism can’t be defeated, by acts of war. 

And most of all we’ve all learned that the costs of war—human, moral, and economic—are simply too high. 

President Biden was right to focus the country’s attention on the staggering economic cost of the war he was ending—more than $2 trillion, just for the war in Afghanistan, he reminded us. That translates to $300 million every day for two decades. 

And that’s just a small part of our government’s staggering spending on the militarization of our society during these 20 years of the war on terror. The National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies has calculated that cost at $21 trillion. Beyond the trillions spent on the military around the world, it includes spending on militarizing police and U.S. borders, as well as domestic surveillance and repression. 

For a fraction of that cost we could create millions of well-paying jobs, guarantee every child access to pre-school, transform our electrical grid to clean energy, and pay for vaccines for entire populations of low-income countries—all of which would have made us far safer than going to war.

And then there’s the human cost. According to the Costs of War Project at Brown University, the war in Afghanistan killed 170,000 Afghans. All told, 900,000 people have been killed in the post-9/11 wars overall, with the largest share in Iraq. And those are conservative estimates. Millions more have been injured and tens of millions more displaced, forced from their homes and too often from their country.

Finally, there is the moral and political cost. Neither the war of choice in Afghanistan nor the other wars that followed should have happened. Afghanistan was about vengeance, not justice, Iraq was fought for oil and power and bases, not for non-existent weapons of mass destruction... Yet our presidents waged these wars, and our Congress funded them, year after year. Countless lives have been lost or destroyed, and our democracy has been weakened in the process.

So what is our moral obligation now? 
First, Washington needs to stop killing people. Not only in Afghanistan but in Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and in all the places where U.S. troops, CIA operatives, and U.S. mercenaries work in the shadows and kill people. It needs to stop. We all also have a moral obligation to help the refugees and displaced peoples from these conflicts, and we owe debts of compensation and reparations to the people who remain in their war-torn countries.

For Afghans, the end of the U.S. war doesn’t mean an end of conflict and struggle. But it does mean the end of bombing of their hospitals, the end of missile strikes on wedding parties and funerals, the end of Special Forces operatives kicking down doors and killing people in their own homes. It means starting to reclaim their country.

Certainly, we must challenge the regressive and misogynist acts of the Taliban and hope that the transformations of the last 20 years—in the people of Afghanistan and their relationship with the rest of the world—will lead to major changes. But that does not diminish our own obligations, rooted in recognition of the harm that U.S. actions have brought to so many innocent Afghans.

Next, we have a moral obligation to challenge our nation’s assumptions and priorities.
We have to reverse the popular assumption that having the most powerful military and the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world somehow makes us a better, “exceptional” country. We have to challenge the notion that maintaining more than 800 environmentally and socially destructive military bases across the globe somehow wins us friends and allies among the world’s peoples. 

And finally, we have to broaden the understanding that spending more on the U.S. military budget than the next 10 countries combined represents a huge part of the reason we have to struggle so hard to fund crucial social needs—from healthcare to climate to education and more.

Many Afghans, though of course not all, agree with Mahbooba Seraj, founder of the Afghan Women’s Network, when she said the end of Washington’s long war in Afghanistan brought her “an absolute sense of relief.” For Afghans, the end of the U.S. war doesn’t mean an end of conflict and struggle. But it does mean the end of bombing of their hospitals, the end of missile strikes on wedding parties and funerals, the end of Special Forces operatives kicking down doors and killing people in their own homes. It means starting to reclaim their country.
And maybe, just maybe, this might mean the beginning of reclaiming our country, too—for people, for the planet, for jobs, for healthcare, for education, and more. For our democracy. 
Ending the war in Afghanistan is a start, but our movements still have a lot of work left to do.
"America's Native Prisoners of War"
Fallen Christopher Columbus statue outside the Minnesota State Capitol after a group led by American Indian Movement members tore it down in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 10, 2020., By Tony Webster - Flickr, CC BY 2.0
23 of 12,08

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
September 1, 2021
Monthly Review (reprinted from Portside)

The thrust of American struggles has been to deracialize but not to decolonize. A deracialized America still remains a settler society and a settler state.

On George Washington’s birthday, 2018, the Donald Trump administration’s director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, L. Francis Cissna, changed the agency’s official mission statement, dropping the language of “a nation of immigrants” to describe the United States. The previous mission statement had said the agency “secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system. The revised mission statement reads: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.

The Trump administration’s official negation of the United States as a nation of immigrants was unlikely to change the liberal rhetoric. During Joe Biden’s 2020 bid for the presidency, the campaign issued a statement on his immigration plan, titled “The Biden Plan for Securing Our Values as a Nation of Immigrants,” asserting that “unless your ancestors were native to these shores, or forcibly enslaved and brought here as part of our original sin as a nation, most Americans can trace their family history back to a choice—a choice to leave behind everything that was familiar in search of new opportunities and a new life.” Unlike the previous “nation of immigrants” statement, the Biden campaign did acknowledge prior and continuing Native presence, as well as specifying that enslaved Africans were not immigrants. However, the new rhetoric continues to mask the settler-colonial violence that established and maintained the United States and turns immigrants into settlers.

It appears ironic that Trump positioned himself as anti-immigrant, being the son of an immigrant mother (from Scotland) and the grandson of an immigrant paternal grandfather (from Germany), as well as being married to an immigrant (from Slovenia). But Trump was not against European immigrants. In a January 2018 staff meeting on temporary immigration status, Trump asked, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.… Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here? Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries.… We should have more people from Norway.”4 The month before, referring again to Haitians, Trump said that they “all have AIDS,” and about Nigerians, he said that once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.

In his quest for the presidency, Trump made immigration the center of his campaign, focusing on the exclusion of Mexicans, promising to build a border wall and militarize the southern border. He claimed that “the U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” and railed that, “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards.”

Democratic Party politicians and liberals in general insisted that Trump and his supporters were un-American in denying the nation-of-immigrants ideology that has been a consensus for more than a half century and remains a basic principle of the Democratic Party. Most people around the world viewed the United States as a nation of immigrants, while questioning if the country was backsliding on its promise in electing Trump.

With the Democratic Party back in power in 2021, the nation-of-immigrants rhetoric appears to be firmly back in place, although the exclusionary policies of the United States will continue as they did during the Barack Obama administration.

As Osha Gray Davidson, who has collected dozens of examples of how “nation of immigrants” is used, points out, the phrase is generally used to counter xenophobic fears. But the ideology behind it also works to erase the scourge of settler colonialism and the lives of Indigenous peoples. “We in America are immigrants, or the children of immigrants,” is the refrain. The theme of Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech as the Republican nominee for president in 2012 included “a nation of immigrants”: “Optimism is uniquely American. It is what brought us to America. We are a nation of immigrants.” Speaking at a Nevada high school to a large audience, President Obama said: “We are a nation of immigrants, and that means we are constantly being replenished with fighters who believed in the American dream, and it gives us a tremendous advantage over other nations.” Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in 2016, evoked a nation of immigrants, with “the Statue of Liberty reminding us of who we are and where we came from. We are a nation of immigrants, and I am proud of it.”

“A nation of immigrants” was a mid–twentieth-century revisionist origin story. The United States emerged from the Second World War undamaged by bombs and heavy population loss, which was the experience of most combatant nations. In fact, the United States became a beefed-up industrial powerhouse exhibiting military might, including the atomic bomb. It was poised to become the economic, military, and moral leader of the “free world.” The Soviet Union, the country that actually defeated the army of the Third Reich, was the new adversary. U.S. postwar administrations scrambled to conceal any trace of the U.S. colonialist roots, system of slavery, and continued segregation as they developed military and counterinsurgent strategies to quell national liberation movements in former European colonies. The Soviet Union and Communist China, which took power in 1949, denounced Western imperialism and colonialism in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific, and the Caribbean.

In 1958, then U.S. senator John F. Kennedy, surely informed by liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., published the influential and best-selling book A Nation of Immigrants, which advanced the notion that the United States should be understood or defined through the diversity of the immigrants it had welcomed since independence. This thesis was embraced by U.S. historians and found its way into textbooks and school curricula. It is neither coincidental nor surprising that Kennedy would introduce this idea, as, at the time, he was strategizing how to become the first president born of immigrants—albeit very wealthy ones—and the first Catholic president in a Protestant-dominated culture. Aspiring to the presidency, Kennedy introduced a clear context and narrative in which he could transform this negative into a positive. This founding text of “a nation of immigrants” was published during Kennedy’s 1953–59 first term as U.S. senator from Massachusetts, two years before he was elected president.
Given that, in the twenty-first century, immigration is practically synonymous with the México-U.S. border established in 1848, it is striking that Kennedy never mentioned México or Mexicans or the U.S.-México border in the text, nor did he use the terms Latino or Hispanic.
Yet, this was 1958, late in the period of the contract labor Bracero Program, which began during the Second World War. A total of two million Mexican citizens, with the participation of the Mexican government, migrated to the United States, particularly California, as de facto indentured agricultural workers under time-limited contracts. Meanwhile, the burgeoning agribusiness industry in California recruited even more Mexican workers outside the program, without documentation or civil rights, and subject to deportation. More egregious than Kennedy’s omission of any mention of México or the border is that the federal program known by its offensive official name “Operation Wetback” began during Kennedy’s first year as senator and continued beyond his senatorial career through his presidency. “Operation Wetback” began in 1954 to round up and deport more than a million Mexican migrant workers, mainly in California and Texas, in the process subjecting millions—many who were actually U.S. citizens—to illegal search, detention, and deportation, forcing them to forfeit their property. Workers were deported by air, trains, and ships far from the border, leaving those who were U.S. citizens stranded and without the documents enabling them to return to their homes in the United States. “Operation Wetback” was a repeat of the Herbert Hoover administration’s deportation of a million Mexicans in the 1930s, dubbed “Mexican Repatriation.”

Regarding the status of Indigenous peoples in Kennedy’s nation-of-immigrants scheme, the then senator wrote: “Another way of indicating the importance of immigration to America is to point out that every American who ever lived, with the exception of one group, was either an immigrant himself or a descendant of immigrants.” The exception, Kennedy went on, was “Will Rogers, part Cherokee Indian, [who] said that his ancestors were at the docks to meet the Mayflower.” But Kennedy disagreed, claiming that “some anthropologists believe that the Indians themselves were immigrants from another continent who displaced the original Settlers—the aborigines.” This is the bogus speculation of U.S. white nationalists who claim that those imagined original aborigines were in fact European, possibly Irish. A few pages on in the text, in the only other mention of Native Americans, Kennedy refers to them as “the first immigrants,” while dismissing their presence as “members of scattered tribes.”

Equally unsettling, Kennedy includes enslaved Africans as immigrants, although the book contains the infamous drawing of a slave ship, with humans chained down on their backs, scarcely an inch between each, packed like sardines. It is striking to read how profoundly Kennedy whitewashed history by noting that “the immigration experience was not always pleasant” or that “the Japanese and Chinese brought their gentle dreams to the West Coast.” He failed to mention the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 or its extension a few years later to all Asians.

This idea of the United States as a nation of immigrants was hatched in the late 1950s, and while Kennedy was its ambassador, it came to reflect the U.S. ruling-class response to the challenges of the post-Second World War anticolonial national liberation movements, as well as civil and human rights social movements domestically. In the United States, the National Congress of American Indians was founded in 1944 by D’Arcy McNickle, Helen Peterson, and other longtime Indigenous activists. At the same time, African-American attorneys and other professionals were developing a legal strategy for desegregating public schools, while in 1951, more radical African Americans, including Paul Robeson and members of the Civil Rights Congress, petitioned the recently established United Nations with the detailed document We Charge Genocide, based on the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. A mass movement against segregation was emerging. Around the same time, Native American activists were contextualizing the situation of Native nations within the decolonization/national liberation context, and Mexican farmworkers were organizing in the fields, defeating the Bracero Program and forming unions.

These cracks in the racial order of settler colonialism and capitalism constituted a radical departure in a society locked down in patriarchal white domination and obsessed with “real” Americanism. At the end of the Second World War, the U.S. social, economic, and political order was solidly and confidently a white patriarchal Protestant republic, dominated by corporations with worldwide investments and financial reserves, along with a massive military machine far greater than that of any other country in the world. Unionization movements, primarily made up of white workers, were seduced by home ownership and middle-class status, their unions becoming business oriented with their own profit-making privatized health care, while the United Kingdom and Western European states responded to militant union demands to institute universal, public health care. Black descendants of enslaved Africans lived under a totalitarian Jim Crow system in the former Confederate states and were ghettoized and discriminated against when they escaped the South in migrations for northern and coastal industrial urban areas that were stalked by police forces resembling slave patrols. Native Americans were abandoned on shrunken land bases that could not support life, forcing many to find work in nearby or faraway cities, while Congress began reversing New Deal reforms that had acknowledged the Native land base and governments. This culminated in the congressional termination of Native status and land bases in 1953, an erasure that took the Red Power movement two decades to reverse. Meanwhile, Irish and Central, Southern, and Eastern European immigrants, mainly Catholics and Jews, had made gains in being accepted as equal—that is, as white. But on the West Coast, U.S. citizens of Chinese and Mexican descent were discriminated against and subject to deportation, while U.S. citizens of Japanese descent had been incarcerated in wartime concentration camps, stripped of their property and citizenship rights. Ads for jobs segregated men and women as well as white and Black, with lower wages for women and Black workers. Ivy League universities were overwhelmingly white and for men only, with quotas to limit the number of Jewish men.

The explosion that cracked the white republic was the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court school desegregation decision under Chief Justice Earl Warren, who ironically, as the wartime attorney general of California, had facilitated rounding up Japanese Americans for federal incarceration. Based on decades of organizing for African-American desegregation, the order for school desegregation under Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a great achievement, but the backlash commenced immediately. White Citizens’ Councils organized all over the United States, linking racial integration with communism and labeling it un-American. Within three years of the Supreme Court desegregation decision, the white nationalist John Birch Society was launched by Robert Welch, the heir to the Welch candy fortune in Massachusetts, along with others such as Fred Koch, father of the Koch brothers, who, in the twenty-first century, have funded legislation and movements to end all government benefits and promote the privatization of public goods. The Supreme Court composition was the target of this white nationalist movement, using the Republican Party as the vehicle, and had largely achieved its goals with the Trump administration’s appointment of three justices, shifting the court’s ideological spectrum to five ultraconservative justices, one moderate conservative, and three liberal ones. Read more
Medicare for All Updates for Busy Activists

Do you want regular, fact-filled, and brief presentations about the Medicare for All/Single Payer Health Care movement?

Come to the “Improved Medicare for All Update Group” Zoom meetings. On a quarterly basis, a one hour meeting will include a review of important Federal and State developments, and will also include an educational presentation, with plenty of time for questions.

The agenda for the August 25th meeting will be:

·       Update on Federal Medicare for All developments, including the Bernie Sanders proposals to Expand Medicare now in the Congressional Reconciliation Bill. Update on California Single Payer movement and contributions from other states. Marilyn Albert will open.

·       Educational topic: “What do doctors think about Medicare for All/Single Payer?” Dr. Corinne Frugoni will open.

·       Questions and Answers, Discussion.

Send an email to and you will receive instructions to join the Zoom meeting on: Wednesday, August 25th 8pm Eastern Time, 7pm Central Time, and 5pm Pacific Time. 
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.

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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

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