Political Landscape 2001, Opening to the Natl Board

October 9, 2001


I want to
welcome you to Unity Center and wish you and your families a belated Happy
New Year. I hope the coming year meets all of your personal and political
expectations. And to those of you who were daring enough to make New Year’s
resolutions, I wish each and every one of you, including myself, good
luck in fulfilling our resolutions whatever they may be.

we had planned a meeting of our National Board for the end of January
– Super Bowl Sunday, I believe. But later we had second thoughts and decided
to meet sooner and enlarge the number of participants. We were guided
by two time-tested maxims of the communist movement: "the early bird
gets the worm" and "two heads are better than one." More
seriously, we strongly felt that a more representative meeting of our
leadership was absolutely necessary at this moment.

Under normal
circumstances we might not have done this, but these times are anything
but normal. A right wing administration is moving into the White House.
An economic crisis is in its early stages. And, finally, the presidential
election was literally stolen right before the eyes of the American people
– something that shocked even some of us gathered in this room.

With reckless
abandon and contemptuous disdain of the people’s will, the extreme right
steam rolled over democratic and constitutional principles in order to
guarantee that all three branches of the federal government, including
the White House, were in their hands.

The suppression
of the vote before the elections and the undercounting of tens of thousands
of votes following the elections were pervasive, systematic, and coordinated.
It was a scorched earth, wins-at-all-costs policy of the Republican right
if there ever was one, complete with intimidation by state police, hired
thugs, purged voter registration rolls, old and inefficient voting machines,
and confusing ballots.

with a special vengeance were African American, Haitian, and Latino voters
in counties throughout Florida. And the reason is simple. Had minority
voters had the same access to the polls as had voters in the wealthy white
communities and had their vote been fully and fairly counted, Al Gore
would be the president-elect rather than Dubya.

Jeb and his
operatives understood this fact as well – and as we know now – planned
accordingly. It was an "American coup" as the headline of The
People’s Weekly World said.

Lending a
helping hand to the Bush family in their savage assault on democracy was
the monopoly-owned and -controlled mass media.

But more
disturbing to millions of American people was the presence of five far
right wing extremists hiding under judicial robes on the highest court
of our land.

They would
have been more appropriately dressed in brown rather than black robes
and on the payroll of the Bush campaign committee than paid by taxpayers
like us.

This majority
of five acted like a judicial lynch mob. Their reversal of the Florida
State Supreme Court slammed the door shut arbitrarily, undemocratically,
and unconstitutionally on a full and fair recount of tens of thousands
of votes in Florida.

This assault
on our democracy, as New York Congressman Gerald Nadler bravely said,
reeked with the whiff of fascism. Virulent racism against
African American, Haitian, Latino and other racially oppressed peoples,
anti-Semitism, and the complete contempt for democratic norms and institutions
were the footsteps on Bush’s march to the White House.

Some would
now like to turn this election theft of the 2000 elections by
Bush operatives into a fading historical memory. Let bygones be bygones,
they argue.

As an abstract
idea this sounds good on the surface. But closer to the ground it has
little merit. In fact, anything less than a full investigation of the
travesty of justice that occurred in Florida would be politically and
morally wrong. And such an investigation should be conducted by a National
People’s Commission of Inquiry – not by Dubya’s Justice Department and
Civil Rights Commission.

Too many
lives have been lost, too many tears shed, and too many dreams deferred
in the long march for the right to vote, especially in the South, to allow
this violation of democratic rights to be expunged from our nation’s collective
consciousness and for these crimes to go unpunished.


The next
four years are shaping up to be a defining moment for our country, simultaneously
pregnant with huge dangers and ripe with political possibilities.

In my speech
to our annual holiday party I mentioned that a historical parallel exists
between this period and the period just preceding the civil war.

Now some
of you may think that my case suggesting a historical parallel between
today and the decade preceding the Civil War is a bit thin on evidence.
And maybe on closer inspection of the historical record we will find that
you are right and I’m wrong.

After all,
God and Fred Gaboury know it won’t be the first time that I’m guilty of
an erroneous interpretation of history. But even if I am, one point that
I won’t concede is this: A fundamental struggle over democratic rights,
understood in the broadest sense, is moving to a new stage. It pits the
extreme right, who are determined to severely restrict those rights, against
a broad democratic movement that seeks to expand and deepen them. And
the outcome of these struggles will leave their mark on our country for
decades to come.

To its credit,
even the usually staid New York Times captured the essence of this political

work resumes tomorrow, in Washington and in all branches of the nation’s
vast economy," the editorial page editors wrote, "no one should
doubt that this particular new year could be the threshold of a new era
of contention over protecting the security of the nation, shaping the
daily lives of the citizens and guarding the very land upon which we live."

Thus the
stakes are high and the task falling on the shoulders of this enlarged
meeting of the National Board is to make the most rounded assessments
of this defining moment and, in turn, to develop appropriate tactics and

This meeting,
in contrast with the meeting of the National Committee in
November, will look more at where we are going and less at where we have
been. It will try to anticipate some things that aren’t entirely clear
yet and may not be for a while, like the exact tactical strategy of the
new administration, the scope and depth of the economic downturn, the
readiness of the people to give Bush a honeymoon period, the legislative
posture of the Democratic Party, the outlook of the labor movement, and
so forth.

To a degree,
the deliberations of our meeting will involve an element of speculation.
Some of our conclusions will be somewhat tentative. This is, after all,
a developing struggle and still in its early stages.

this should not deter us from boldly making assessments of and drawing
conclusions with regard to the main class and social forces that will
occupy center stage in the coming year, the broader context in which they
operate, in what direction we would like them to move, and what our role
is at this critical political and economic juncture.

In all probability,
we won’t get it all right and we may not agree on every detail. But that’s
understandable, given the newness of the situation.

The main
thing, however, is that we have a full and frank discussion in a comradely
atmosphere and then allow unfolding events and struggles to test our conclusions
and decisions. If they don’t hold up, we will make appropriate corrections.
Even if they do, we should constantly refine them as conditions change
on the ground.

to say, this is a big challenge, but it is not as daunting as it might
seem. After all, most of the players on both sides of this struggle are
not strangers to us. We are familiar with their positions on a range of
issues. We have broad connections and rich experience gained in the course
of the 2000 elections. Thus, we don’t have to construct an altogether
new strategy and set of tactics, in my opinion.

the political situation is different in many ways. But not so different
that the strategic and tactical concepts that we employed in the elections
of last year should be trashed.

Doesn’t the
extreme right remain the main enemy? Doesn’t the assembling of broad,
militant coalitions and struggles continue to be the main task of the
labor led people’s movements? And isn’t our role to join with others and
help to give leadership to these coalitions and struggles?

To be sure,
our strategic and tactical policies as well as our programmatic solutions
will have to be adjusted and applied differently. That goes without saying.
And the quicker and more creatively we make those adjustments the better.
Hopefully by the end of this weekend, we will have gone a long way in
this direction.


at first, and now at a much quicker speed, the developing economic downturn
is creeping into the news and public consciousness. It is no exaggeration
to say that how it plays out in the next several months will weigh heavily
on our nation’s economic and political life.

There seems
near universal agreement among economic observers of different political
persuasions that the economy is in a downturn after the longest expansion
of this century.

The main
question that seems unresolved is what the scope, depth, and duration
of the cyclical downturn will be. To put the matter more succinctly, the
issue is whether the landing will be soft or hard.

Before addressing
this crucial issue, let me mention some of the emerging evidence of a
weakening economy. Corporate profits in the last half of last year and
estimated profits for this year have taken a nose drive. According to
one forecast, aftertax profits in 2001 are expected to increase by less
than 1 per cent compared with a 15 per cent increase last year. And as
we know, it’s not just profits, but profits expectations that drive or
slow down the economic engine of US capitalism and capitalism anywhere
for that matter.

Overall output
is also beginning to sag with the sharpest drops in the manufacturing
sector, which remains a leading and dynamic sector of the economy. The
fall in output in the so-called new and old industries is substantial.
In the tech sector, technology spending for communications equipment,
information technology, and telephone services is tanking.

That’s bad
news and not just for the tech sector. A sustained slump in new technology
investment will ripple its way through the economy. Remember new spending
on technology has been one of the main engines of the economic expansion
in the 1990s.

In the older
industries like auto and steel, where the outlook is becoming gloomier
by the day, sales are taking a nose dive, too. LTV, which employs nearly
50,000 workers, just filed for bankruptcy. And in auto, GM and Chrysler
are in deep trouble. Last month GM eliminated the whole line of Oldsmobile
cars and Buick’s fate might be the same. And Ford is not far behind.

is inching up as sales and profits sag in some sectors, if not across
the full length of the economy. And everything suggests that it could
climb dramatically, particularly in some industries and communities.

While much
has been said about the recent gains in employment, income, and job occupational
status of African Americans, Mexican Americans and other racially oppressed
people, even a mild downturn could easily wipe out all or most of the
improvement while a steeper crisis, if it follows similar racist patterns
of the past – and there is no reason to think that it wouldn’t – could
bring back depression like conditions to these communities.

This enveloping
economic cloud gathering around the economy was acknowledged by Fed Chair
Alan Greenspan when he announced a cut of the federal funds rate, which
governs inter-bank borrowing. Greenspan’s announcement took place before
the Fed’s regular meeting scheduled for later this month thus suggesting
quite clearly that the economic situation is deteriorating more rapidly
than Greenspan had anticipated.

What makes
this emerging crisis potentially explosive is a number of specific factors
connected to the long expansion of the 1990s.

First of
all, the slowdown is global. According to an article in The Wall
Street Journal, "Just a month earlier, the International Monetary
Fund gave the global economy a relatively clean bill of health."
Then the article went on to say, "Great minds, it seems, also err
alike. With the suddenness that has surprised economists and corporate
chieftains, the world’s leading economies are all slowing down."

What is underlying
this slowdown is what establishment economists call "mature markets,"
and what we call a worldwide crisis of overproduction in one industry
after another, especially in manufacturing.

In 1998 when
the strength of the US economy and the timely intervention of the federal
reserve pulled the world economy from the edge of collapse, the current
slowdown is truly global. The US capitalist economy, this time around,
is sputtering and its reserves are stretched thin.

Its balance
of payments deficit, which measures imports against exports, has ballooned
to record, and in the end unsustainable, levels. The US economy simply
can’t continue to buy imports from other countries at anywhere near the
pace that it has in recent years, thus dimming their hopes that the US
economy will lift their economies out of their sluggishness.

the declining value of the dollar relative to other currencies is making
foreign investors who are heavily capitalized in US financial markets
skittish and willing to entertain the option of currency flight from the
dollar. While I don’t want to overstate this, the US financial markets
are no longer the safe haven they were two years ago when foreign investors
were fleeing here.

the unprecedented polarization of wealth and amassing of record levels
of debt that has sent financial markets soaring upward, thus making both
big and small investors seem wealthier and able to borrow more, consume
more, and invest more in the hyper-inflated stock market, is unsustainable

bubbles and economic booms don’t last forever. Capitalism is a self limiting
and contradictory system. The same forces that cause it to spiral upward
at some point cause it to spiral down. Marx made the point on many occasions
that capitalism in the course of its very advances and in its very successes
creates the conditions for its own undoing. How right this great genius

This is what
we are seeing now. The combination of overproduction in an increasingly
globalized economy is combining with the specific features of the economic
expansion of the 1990s, especially its mammoth financial bubble, to once
again reveal capitalism’s crisis tendencies and rain its havoc on working
and poor peoples worldwide.

Further fueling
the economic crisis and causing increasing hardship for tens of millions
is the rising cost of fuel prices across the country. In some places the
high cost of fuel – electricity, gas, and home heating oil – are causing
life threatening situations as we move into the most rugged part of what
is already a cold winter. Perhaps the most explosive situation is in California.

– and the corporate greed that inevitably accompanies it – has thrust
the country’s most populous state into a crisis from which there seems
to be no answer short of public control and regulation of the energy complex.
In the meantime, Californians, and especially the state’s multi-racial
working class and its racial minorities, are suffering the worst effects
of the crisis situation.

to say, if war breaks out in the Middle East a bad situation will get
much worse almost overnight as the spiraling upward cost of fuel wends
its way through the economy.

While we
don’t know what the extent of this crisis will be at the moment, we should
be suspect of establishment economists who say it will be mild and easily
tamed with appropriate monetary policy. The economic contradictions of
capitalism sometimes reach the point where no monetary or fiscal medicine
no matter how appropriate is able to overcome the contractionary pressures
in the economy.

a virtuous circle gives way to a vicious circle where economic processes
interact negatively on each other to worsen the capitalist economic crisis.
Japan, which has been in a protracted economic slump for nearly a decade,
is a good example of this phenomenon.

In any event,
even a mild downturn will bring economic hardship to the working class
and other sectors of the American people. We can expect a new wave of
layoffs, plant closings, and permanent job loss. In the month of December
alone, 133,713 workers were laid off, triple the number over November,
while the filing for new claims for unemployment benefits was the highest
in two and a half years, according to the Labor Department.

affected will be minority workers, welfare mothers, and immigrants. Found
in precarious jobs that pay little and provide no benefits, they will
be among the first to be laid off and many will not be eligible for relief
of any kind.

This is an
emergency situation calling for militant action and multiracial, multinational

the victims of the economic crisis can’t expect any help from the
Bush White House. Indeed, Bush will try to exploit the crisis to further
shift the weight of the fall in economic activity onto the shoulders of
working people, and especially its racially oppressed.

This emerging
crisis calls for some emergency steps by labor and the people’s movements.
From our past experience we know that the unemployed themselves in big
cities, suburban communities and rural towns have to be at the center
of such movements and struggles – allied of course with their friends
and allies, especially the labor movement and the organizations in the
ghettoes and barrios.

In addition
to organizing struggles, programmatic solutions to the economic crisis
are needed. How do we address, for example, the special problems in the
industrial sector where job opportunities are shrinking, in some cases
during every phase of the economic cycle?

Again we
shouldn’t expect help from the Bush administration or corporate owners.
And to make matters worse, the pressures will be immense on some of our
coalition partners in the labor movement to make concessions in wages,
benefits and conditions and to seize onto protectionism to save jobs.

Last time
we were a pound short and two days late or something like that, but we
shouldn’t let this occur again. We have to get out in front of the learning
curve in this developing crisis.

The crisis,
especially if it is deeper than expected, will force its way into the
debates on every major legislative and political issue. The projections
regarding the surplus could change overnight which would change everything.
And the political weathervane of friend and foe alike will be scrambled
and repositioned to take into account this storm as it settles on the


On January
20 the Bush administration enters the White House. Bush and his cabinet
appointees are of a conservative cast of mind.

and centrists they aren’t. To the contrary, they occupy the right wing
on the political spectrum. A quick glance at their political biography,
political connections and political record amply confirm this point. One
newspaper opined, "… those encouraged by Mr. Bush to expect a moderately
conservative cabinet are now confronted with a team that features several
key players chosen to reassure the ideological and corporate wings of
conservative Republicanism."

Then it went
on to mention the religious fundamentalist Ashcroft and Gale Norton, the
new Secretary of the Interior and former understudy to Reagan appointee
James Watt, as exemplars of the right wing makeup of the new administration.
But since then, Dubya, if there were any illusions about the
political coloration of his cabinet, erased them by adding extreme right
wing luminaries Linda Chavez and Donald Rumsfeld.

pundits have made much of the racial and gender diversity of the Bush
team. It’s as diverse as Clinton’s, they say. But what Wall Street really
likes, and what we should note, is the similar class outlook of the cabinet
appointees. There are no political wild cards, no alien class influences
in this bunch to rain on Bush’s parade. You won’t find anybody on this
team hanging out in a neighborhood tavern in Pittsburgh. This gang is
upper crust and proud of it.

No one should
expect any confusion on their part about where their class loyalties lie.

While they
are not all flame-throwers like Tom DeLay or Rush Limbaugh, make no mistake
about it, Bush’s team has solid right wing credentials. Its MO is a little
more stealth-like, however.

In the end,
Bush’s appointees are the chosen representatives of the most reactionary,
most anti-labor, most anti-women, most anti-people, racist and bellicose
sections of transnational capital. Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and
Donald Rumsfeld – not Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition – are
setting the political and legislative agenda for this administration.
Despite this, the cultural warriors and religious fundamentalists, like
Robertson, seem very happy with Bush’s choices.


What should
we anticipate coming from Bush’s White House?

Left to its
own devices, a Bush administration will aggressively pursue a reactionary
course of action at home and abroad.

On the domestic
front, it will turn Medicare and Social Security into vast new arenas
of profit making and taking. It will privatize our public education system
by using vouchers and giving a green light to for-profit schools. It will
eliminate affirmative action, women’s right to choose, gay rights, and
bilingual education. It will severely curtail immigrant rights. It will
squeeze labor out of the political-electoral arena as well as make union
organizing impossible and union busting even easier than it already is.
It will further tighten corporate control over the election process. It
would expand the use of the death penalty. It will impose harsher eligibility
requirements for all forms of government relief. It will further fill
our prisons, and wink at racial profiling and police brutality. It will
turn our land, air, water, forests, and other natural resources over to
commercial interests while forestalling any remedial action on global
warming. And it will turn a deaf ear to the critical needs of our cities
and rural communities, both of which are mired in crisis.

In short,
this administration’s domestic policies will greatly sharpen the struggle
on all fronts. It will greatly intensify class exploitation. It will aggravate
racial and gender oppression to the extreme. It will curtail democratic
rights all along the line.


On the international
front, the Bush administration’s foreign policy will be extremely aggressive,
mirroring in this sense its domestic policy. I’ve read in the press that
isolationist tendencies might dominate the foreign policy of the new administration.
But nothing could be further from the truth.

The main
direction of Bush’s foreign policy was outlined in a recent article of
Foreign Affairs magazine, written by Condoleeza Rice. I was going to read
some extensive excerpts from it, but because of time I’m going to set
them aside.

This article
contains, in distilled form, the main direction of the foreign policy
of the Bush administration. As much as we disagreed with most aspects
of Clinton’s foreign policy, it appears that Bush’s foreign policy will
be more militarist, more interventionist and more chauvinistic. It is
hard to imagine how it will do anything but heighten tensions and multiply
hotspots worldwide.

This administration
will show little hesitation about projecting American military power around
the world. We can expect a hardening of relations with Cuba and a hostile
attitude toward anti-imperialist movements and governments in Colombia,
Venezuela, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and other countries in South America and
elsewhere. It will weigh in against the cause of Palestinian statehood
and rights at this dangerous juncture of the crisis in the Middle East.

The Bush
administration is determined not to be constrained by multi-lateral agreements
and supra national bodies, including the UN. It is going to vigorously
defend with military, economic, and diplomatic power what it calls the
national interests – read transnational corporate interests.

And perhaps
most ominously, this administration, by introducing the arms race into
space, breathes new life into the nuclear weapons race that in the past
decade has eased somewhat. Space weapons are the administration’s trump
card to dominate the world. To claim that this is a reluctant but necessary
response to "rogue states" is nothing but a ruse to impose a
"made in the usA" new world order on humanity.

This aggressive
posture by the Bush administration corresponds with the new stage of globalization,
the new stage of imperialism, the new stage of inter-imperialist rivalry,
and the new stage of state monopoly capitalism. US imperialism has not
given up its hegemonic aims.

Indeed, the
Bush White House will seek to strengthen the dominance of US imperialism
on a global scale over its enemies and friends. Neither Powell nor Rumsfeld
nor Rice nor Cheney are ready for US imperialism to forgo its single super
power status and everything that comes with that.

To be sure,
inter-imperialist rivalry is growing in intensity, but this administration
has no intentions of overseeing the weakening of the dominant status of
US imperialism in world affairs. Just the opposite in fact. In the past,
such rivalry led to world conflagrations.

I’m not suggesting
that such a prospect is imminent now. It isn’t. In fact, much more likely
are growing tensions with Russia and China, resulting from the confrontational
attitude of the new administration to these two powerful states. Nevertheless,
over the longer term we should not rule out wars between competing capitalist

The role
of the Bush administration, and for that matter the Clinton administration,
calls into question the claim by some on the left that the state apparatus
is turning into a paper tiger in a globalizing world.

Maybe that
depends on what part of the world in which you sit. But from our vantage
point in the center of world imperialism, the role of the state as an
enforcer of the interests of the transnational corporations and as an
instrument to create the most favorable conditions for capital accumulation
has been enhanced in recent years. Given the growth of transnational capital
and growing inter-capitalist rivalry, any other outcome would seem illogical
and goes against historical experience.

At any rate,
we have to strengthen our international work. Evelina, Elena, and John
recently represented our Party at Party Congresses in Greece, Cyprus,
Portugal, and Russia. And each of them brings home the strongly held opinion
that we need to do much more in this arena of struggle. Later today we
will hear from Elena on Portugal and John on Russia and at our next National
Board meeting we will hear Evey’s report on Greece and Cyprus, where she
attended a conference on globalization as well.


If Bush and
his team had their way, they would take a page out of Reagan’s playbook
of 1981. Remember, Reagan came into office with no sweeping mandate that
year, but that didn’t deter his wrecking action on people’s rights at
home and abroad.

Bush and
his team would like to do the same this year. Moreover, we shouldn’t dismiss
this possibility out of hand, as another example of political overreach,
as another instance of the wish list of the extreme right going beyond
the boundaries of the politically possible.

Bush’s team
does have some advantages that they will try to use to decisively shift
the political balance of forces in their favor and impose their reactionary
program. First of all, the Republicans will control the House and with
Cheney having the tie breaking vote in the Senate as well. Not since the
Eisenhower days has a Republican president had such an advantage in the

Second, the
Supreme Court is in the pocket of extreme right wingers. Their decision
to give the election to Bush blew their carefully cultivated image of
impartially and immunity to partisan interests in their legal opinions.
Nevertheless, don’t expect this public outing of the Supreme Court to
tame their zeal to make legal decisions that benefit right wing reaction.

Another advantage
that Bush can count on is that most, though not all, of the mass media
will be inclined to treat the new administration with kid gloves. Some
of the media will act like Bush’s cheerleaders. Look how they have fawned
over his appointees to the cabinet. And I suspect that they will go soft
on his legislative initiatives.

And finally,
the extreme right has a mass constituency in our country that is organized,
active, and well funded. The size and scope of this constituency is narrower
than the Bush vote – substantially narrower I would argue, although this
is an issue that we need to study with much greater precision.

This is one
side of the political equation that will determine the direction of our
country in the coming months and years.

On the other
side, 2001 is not 1981. Bush is not Reagan. He enters the White House
tainted and illegitimate after having lost the national popular vote and
stolen the Florida vote. He brings with him no mandate to pursue, vigorously
or otherwise, the policies that he espoused in the course of the election
campaign. The Republican control of the House and Senate hangs on a thin
thread. The American people will probably be inclined to give Bush a short
honeymoon. And, most importantly, the labor and people’s movement opposing
Bush is far more powerful force today than it was twenty years ago.

The difference
in the movement today as compared when Reagan was ruling the roost is
qualitative, not quantitative; it’s a difference of kind and not degree;
it’s a world of difference and not a shade of difference. In other words
the labor and people’s movements are on higher ground now.

Just consider
for a moment the different level of consciousness among workers today
as compared to two decades ago. Or consider the new role of African Americans,
Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Asian Americans, Native American Indians,
and other oppressed peoples. Or consider the new level of activity by
the women’s movement and the immigrant communities. Or consider the new
level of unity among all sections of the people’s forces in the 2000 elections.
Or consider the new readiness of masses of people to engage in one or
another form of mass activity.

Thus, the
balance of class and social forces are such that Bush and his team are
in for tough sledding if they aggressively pursue a far reaching reactionary
offensive, which it appears they intend to do.

While at
this stage Bush will in all likelihood set the agenda of struggle, our
task and the task of the broader movement is to begin to project an alternative
legislative program, a program that will speak to the needs of millions.
But it has to done skillfully.

For example,
how should labor and the people’s organizations respond to Bush’s tax
plan? Oppose it? Of course, but should they be against tax cuts in any
form. I don’t think so. Taxes are too high, especially the taxes on working
people no matter what wage category they’re in, and too low for the wealthy
and rich.

I mention
this single example only to get us thinking about a people’s legislative
program. Already the economic commission is working on a draft economic
program and hopefully we can discuss it is soon.

In addition
to projecting a program, we and our coalition partners have to challenge
the underlying assumptions and ideas that win people to reactionary ideas
and policies. It is not enough to merely counter a demand from the right
with a demand from the left. That doesn’t necessarily win people to our
positions, especially given the new level of demagogy and deception that
we can expect from this administration and its ideologues.

We have to
challenge notions, such as: private is better than the public sector,
trust the people not the government, a merit based system of promotion
is preferable to affirmative action, workers themselves rather than their
unions should decide how their dues are spent, give people choice on issues
like education, social security, and health care, a producer society is
superior to a transfer society, and so on.

In other
words, the ideological struggle takes on a more critical character now.


Given what
appears to be the governing posture of Bush and the Republican leadership
in Congress, broad mass struggle and unity is the order of the day. Large
people’s majorities and unity are the only way to derail the reactionary
Republican policies and set the stage for an anti-ultra right, anti-corporate,
all people’s counteroffensive. The 2002 elections are crucial but should
not be a substitute for immediate and militant struggles on: tax cuts,
education, social security, labor rights, Medicare, affirmative action,
racial profiling, women’s right to choose, election reform, immigrant
and constitutional rights, the death penalty, the environment, military
spending and aggression, and other issues.

At the core
of this movement will be the main forces that brought tens of millions
of people to the polls on Election Day. But the scope of the movement
should be broader and deeper than the election 2000 coalition.

It should
include the tens of millions who either voted for Gore or sat out the
election for one reason or another. It should include the supporters of
Nader’s candidacy. It should include the young people in the anti-globalization
movement. It should include the new independent political formations,
like the New Party and the Greens.

It should
include a section of voters who cast their ballot for Bush, but agreed
with Gore on many of his main campaign issues. It should include a new
approach to win supporters in rural America and the South. Given the demographic
changes, the new industrial landscape, and the history of struggle in
the South, there is no reason why, as the ballot struggle in Florida aptly
attests to, the right wing should have a lock on this critical region
of the country.

And, finally,
it should include sections of the Democratic Party and even moderate and
liberal Republicans. Let’s face facts: to forestall Bush’s legislative
initiatives and pass people’s legislation between now and 2002 requires
that some congressional Republicans swing to the Democratic side in the
House and Senate.

Thus broad
and flexible tactics, enlarging our tactical and coalition sights, expanding
our vision of the politically possible, finding new forms to unite broad
sections of the American people, taking advantage of differences in the
ruling class, and above all, fighting for broad unity is imperative now.

Bush and
the extreme right are skillful at exploiting divisions along racial and
gender lines, to divide the people. This was evident in the election campaign
and its aftermath during which Baby Bush, imitating Daddy Bush, appealed
to racist sentiments among white people.

Granted such
appeals don’t resonate like they did in the past, but they still influence
and confuse millions. Thus we have to become more effective fighters against
racism and all forms of disunity. We have to say that no one is doing
anyone else a favor in this struggle for unity. We have to show that racism,
male supremacy, and other divisive, ideological currents and practices
are promoted by the ruling class and serves its interests only.


How quickly
and on what scale the labor and people’s coalitions move into action is
hard to say at this moment. But recent statements by labor and people’s
leaders and actions planned around the King Holiday and the inauguration
suggest that people’s engines are re-starting after a grueling election

No doubt
the appointments of Ashcroft and Chavez had a sobering effect on the broad
people’s movements and present an immediate opportunity to organize a
broad coalition to demand the withdrawal of both appointments by Bush.
We should join that effort.

We also should
join actions now being planned in cites around the country on the weekend
of the King holiday.

We should
join with civil rights organizations and others to protest the election
theft and the suppression of the vote, including participation in the
march in Tallahassee.

We should
participate in all the conferences scheduled for the week leading up to
Inauguration day. One is in Greensboro and another is in Washington.

We should
take part in the inauguration protests, sponsored by Democracy Now and
the Center for Constitutional Rights. We should not cede the ground of
inauguration protests to the International Action Center.

We should
organize broad delegations to meet with congressional representatives
either while they are on recess or after the Congressional session begins.

We should
encourage teach-ins on college campuses around the country.

We should
examine our relations with the whole range of organizations that were
active in the recent elections. Most of them are not the same as they
were. And yet our relations with them are not on the level that they should
be. It would be useful to discuss in our commissions and elsewhere in
the Party and YCL how to extend our relations with these mass organizations.
We have to be bolder and more outward oriented.

We should
explore new forms of broad unity that will give a greater programmatic
and organizational coherence to this broad developing coalition. At the
same time we have to appreciate that movements develop in their own way
and at their own pace. Sometimes they can’t be squeezed into our political
and organizational molds. Our own nation’s history, I would argue, suggests

we should examine the role of the broad left of which we are an integral
part. Given present circumstances, the emphasis of the left should be
on initiating struggles, injecting militancy, building unity, and projecting
a program of struggle around which broad forces can unify. The left will
be an effective force to the extent that it engages and works with the
center. Otherwise it might as well go in hibernation for four years. The
most advanced demands of the center are the grounds on which Left center
unity begins and the basis for mobilizing tens of millions against the
policies of the Bush administration and transnational capital. The left
can’t do it alone. If they could they would have done it long ago. Politics,
Lenin once said, begins where there are millions.

This is far
from an academic question. For among some sections of the left the absolute
necessity of joining with center forces in struggle is not fully appreciated.
Sometimes such a suggestion evokes a look of disdain. Not only is this
harmful in a political sense, but it also leads to disappointments and
eventually to cynicism. For this and other reasons we need to actively
dialogue with the broad left. In this regard we are much too timid although
I would add we should do it in a collective fashion.


Before discussing
the role of the Party, I want to briefly mention two ideological questions
that have some bearing on present struggles and deserve some attention
during the pre-convention discussion.

The Democratic
Party is a capitalist controlled party. It is not a people’s anti-corporate
party nor do we see it evolving into one either in the short or longer
term. To move the class and people’s struggles to a higher stage, a labor
led people’s party independent of the two parties of monopoly capital
is necessary.

Such a party
would be able to mount a more direct and fundamental challenge of corporate
power in every arena of struggle. Whether or not it sets into motion a
process leading to socialism depends on many factors that we can’t foresee
at this moment.

This has
been our position and there is no reason to depart from it. Indeed we
have to give more thought and attention as to how we can keep up with
the growing feeling and the new forms, especially at the local level and
in the labor movement, for political independence from the two parties
of capital.

At the same
time, we cannot completely turn our eyes away from the two party system.
Both parties, as I mentioned, are corporate controlled, but they are not
identical either in their composition or policies. It is wrong to suggest
that they are. Lenin remarked on many different occasions that the working
class and revolutionary movement has to take advantage of divisions within
the ranks of monopoly capital and its parties. He further stated that
practical matters of politics couldn’t be settled abstractly, but rather
by making a concrete assessment of the situation.

I mention
this because we would make a mistake if we simply thumbed our noses at
the Democratic Party, as some on the left do. While it is dominated by
big capital, it is mixed in its composition and contains different political
actors, some of who we hope will eventually join an anti-monopoly people’s
party and some of whom we must work with if we are to successfully meet
the challenge of the reactionary thrust of the Bush Administration and
extreme right.

speaking, we seem united on this point. It does, however, create certain
tensions. First, it causes tension between some on the left who have a
sneering attitude toward anyone in the Democratic Party and us. This section
of the left makes no political differentiation of various people and trends
among Democrats, in large part because it badly underestimates the danger
from the extreme right.

Second, it
causes certain tensions in our own ranks in so far as we have no simple
answers as to how to work with some of the forces within the Democratic
Party, while promoting political independence and combatting illusions
with regard to the Democratic Party in a situation where the extreme right
is the main danger.

The other
ideological issue that I wanted to raise is related, that is, what is
the connection between our anti-monopoly strategy and the all-people’s
front against the extreme right? Is our present tactical policy a detour,
a diversion from our anti-monopoly strategy? Does it postpone a direct
struggle against capital? Does it create illusions? Is it a retreat?

These are
fair questions and I would reply "NO" to all them. Strategic
and tactical policies are determined by objective and subjective factors,
by the balance of political forces a


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