Those in the audience, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get these two political weapons into their hands and start using them, included communist workers and young socialists from around the United States and several other countries. Also present were a large number of supporters of the communist movement, who over the past months mobilized to assure the publication and delivery of the volumes in time for the meeting. The campaign to sell the two new issues of New International got off to a good start at the meeting itself, where more than 250 copies were sold.
A significant number of young people also took part in the meeting, many of them new to revolutionary politics. Most of them were active in building delegations to the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students, which takes place this August in Caracas, Venezuela. Among those present were a number of workers who had learned of the meeting through fellow workers on the job or by running into teams of socialists campaigning on the streets.
29 issues of New International
Socialist Workers Party national secretary Jack Barnes, who chaired the event, began by pointing to the 29 issues of New International published since 1983the majority of them in English and an increasing number in Spanish, French, Swedish, and Icelandic. Major articles from the magazine have also been printed in Greek and in Farsi, the official language in Iran.
The two new issuesnos. 12 and 13 of New International, and 6 and 7 of Nueva Internacional, which have the same contents in Spanishcame off the presses in time to be available at the New York gathering. New International no. 12 features Their Transformation and Ours, a draft resolution that the Socialist Workers Party will be discussing and voting on at its June national convention. It also contains Capitalisms Long Hot Winter Has Begun, a report by Barnes adopted by the 2002 SWP convention. New International no. 13 contains Our Politics Start with the World, a report by Barnes that was discussed and adopted by the delegates at the 2002 SWP convention.
At the March 26 meeting, Barnes noted that the two new issues are companion volumes. They focus on the accelerating economic, social, political, and military contradictions that have pushed the international imperialist system into the opening stages of a global financial crisis and depression, as well as a large-scale transformation of the U.S. military on a scale unprecedented since the eve of World War II.
Although militarily powerful, he said, the imperialist ruling classes are unable to understand the capacity of working people to resist the attacks on their conditions and dignity. He pointed to an interview in the March 25 Washington Post with Condoleezza Rice (see article in this issue). The U.S. secretary of state revealed some of the blindness of capitalist politicians to the impact of the Cuban Revolutions example on working people in Latin America and around the world. After noting that Cuba receives a substantial supply of oil from Venezuela, Rice said of the Cubans, Its true that they have better relations with Venezuela, but other than the personal relationship between Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, Im not sure what Cuba has to give to the Venezuelan people. She will find out, Barnes remarked.
Driven to rely increasingly on its military might by the need to expand its dominance of territories and markets, the U.S. ruling class has made gains through its war on terrorism in the Middle East. At the same time, Barnes noted, Washingtons actions have unintended repercussions: working people have been taking more political space to organize and act in their own interest, from Iraq to Lebanon. The most important thing for communists to look for is this political space, he said, citing two recent examples. One was a March 24 demonstration in Baghdad by hundreds of electricity workers against the repeated attacks by antigovernment bombers on power facilities that have killed many of their co-workers. The other was an interview in the March 20 Washington Post with booksellers in the Iraqi capital, which gave a glimpse of how sales of literature in Arabic, English, French, and Farsiespecially once-banned booksare exploding.
Co-Op miners struggle
Barnes introduced Bill Estrada, a leader of the struggle by coal miners at C.W. Minings Co-Op Mine in Huntington, Utah, to win representation by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). Estrada thanked the organizers of the meeting for the invitation to speak on behalf of the Co-Op miners, and said the workers are open to address meetings about their struggle. The workers are fighting to be reinstated and win recognition of the UMWA as their union, he said.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is investigating charges by the UMWA that the company fired more than 30 miners in early December on phony grounds of lacking valid work documents in order to thwart a UMWA victory in a representation election held a week later. The board has yet to rule on the validity of the ballots cast by the fired workers. He noted that the NLRB in Washington, D.C., recently upheld the regional NLRBs decision to not count the ballots cast in the election by more than 100 members of the Davis County Cooperative because they are related to the mine bosses or the company shareholders.
Estrada said he is going to Caracas for the world youth festival in August, where he will explain the experiences of the Co-Op miners in the union-organizing fight in Utah as part of the struggles of working people in the United States today.
Estrada said the miners, many of whom have not yet found other jobs, are not waiting for an NLRB ruling in the hope that it will determine the outcome of their fight. Instead, he said, the miners are organizing to get the fight solidly back onto their terrainthe streets, the picket lines, and solidarity actions. He cited as examples the March 12 rally of 100 in support of the Co-Op miners and an informational protest on March 22 across the road from the depot where coal from the Co-Op mine and other area mines is loaded onto rail cars after being trucked there from the mine.
Estrada also said the Co-Op miners are organizing to get other jobs. Conditions in nearby coal mines are such that other miners are also interested in the union, he added. Any advances toward organizing by union backers in the area will be the biggest help to the Co-Op struggle.
PRDF joins fight against boss lawsuit
SWP National Committee member Norton Sandler spoke on the campaign to defend the Militant and the SWP against a harassment lawsuit filed against the socialist weekly, other newspapers that have covered the Co-Op fight, miners and the UMWA, by the owners of the Co-Op mine and the International Association of United Workers Union. The suit charges the defendants with defaming the company and the company union at the mine. (See article in this issue).
Sandler announced that the Political Rights Defense Fund (PRDF) is supporting the Militant and the SWP in this case. PRDF has just produced a new brochure that explains the stakes in defeating the lawsuit, including an explanation of previous harassment suits aimed at disrupting the workers movement. The 50-Year Domestic Contra Operation, a feature of New International no. 6, is particularly useful in studying the continuity of the communist movement in the fight against the assault on political rights by the bosses and their government, Sandler said.
Sandler urged participants to distribute the new PRDF brochure and to purchase copies of the various legal briefs that had been filed by both the plaintiffs and the various defendants in this case and to help win support for the Militant and the SWP's defense. Sandler said many defenders of the Constitution will see that they too have a stake in defending freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which is under attack as part of the mine bosses lawsuit.
Joe Swanson, organizer of the Socialist Workers Party in Des Moines, Iowa, urged all those present to join in the campaign to sell the two new issues of New International and reported on the team of campaigners from around the Midwest who will be hitting the campaign trail on the April 9-10 weekend (see article in this issue).
Cuban communists: Were not afraid
Mary-Alice Waters, editor of New International, reported on the experiences of the international team of communist workers that took part in the recent Havana International Book Fair, as well as events in the cities of Matanzas and Cienfuegos sponsored by the Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution, to present Pathfinder books and the newly released no. 7 of Nueva Internacional. The thirst for this literature demonstrated by people who came to these events was a reflection of the ongoing strengthening of the revolution, she noted (see coverage in the February 28 and March 7 issues of the Militant).
A recent development in Cuba that registers this political strength is the popularity of recent government measures to limit the circulation of the U.S. dollar and strengthen the buying power of the Cuban peso. Use of the dollar was legalized in the early 1990s when Cuba was thrust more directly into the world capitalist market after the collapse of aid from and favorable trade relations with the Soviet Union, ushering in what Cubans call the Special Period. While a necessary move at the time, it led to greater social inequalities between those with and without access to dollars. As a result, the new moves have been welcomed by workers and farmers, especially those who do not have easy access to the U.S. currency.
Waters pointed to a recent speech by Cuban president Fidel Castro closing the congress of the Federation of Cuban Women on March 8, international womens day. According to the Cuban newsweekly Granma International, Castro said the Cuban people are leaving behind the Special Period. We are not afraid, Castro also noted, in reference to recent threats by Washington against Cuba. The number of casualties U.S. forces would endure in an invasion of Cuba would be so high that the U.S. rulers would not be able to sustain them politically.
Stalinist lies about World War II
Pointing to preparations for the world youth festival in Venezuela, Barnes said that leaders of Communist Party youth organizations in several countries, especially in Europe, have proposed that one day of the festival be dedicated to celebrating the 60th anniversary of VE Day, the victory of the Allied imperialist powers over German imperialism. This is an attempt by Stalinist organizations to blunt the anti-imperialist character of the festival. They are urging this celebration be held under the slogans Never again war! Never again fascism! We continue the anti-imperialist struggle!
But imperialist war is going on right now, Barnes pointed out, in Iraq today, and being prepared for other countries tomorrow. There has been no peace in the world since VE Day.
The most important questions to discuss at the Caracas youth festival cannot be reduced to the defense of Venezuela and the Cuban Revolution from U.S. imperialism, he said. What Cuban revolutionaries themselves are striving for is the broadest possible participation in the festival to advance the fight against imperialism worldwide.
The issues that need to be joined at this event are broad questions of the class struggle and the fight against imperialism in practice today. This comes up in the ongoing discussion around World War II, Barnes noted.
Organizations around the world that look to the former Stalinist regime in Moscow are hailing the 60th anniversary of the victory of the antifascist coalition, referring to the popular front course carried out by the Stalinist Communist Parties around the world. This counterrevolutionary course advocated the subordination of the interests of working people and oppressed nations to support for U.S. imperialism and its allies in their war with the Axis imperialist powers over the redivision of the world.
The popular frontsgovernmental alliances of workers parties with capitalist partiesimposed on the workers movement by Stalinism were responsible for the defeats of revolutionary upsurges by workers and farmers in France, Germany, Spain, and elsewheredefeats that made inevitable the second world imperialist slaughter, Barnes explained.
In the early 1940s, leaders of the SWP and Teamsters Local 544 in Minneapolis, as well as Puerto Rican independence fighters, were framed up and imprisoned by the U.S. government for their opposition to U.S. imperialisms course in World War II. The Communist Party USA not only cheered the Smith Gag Act convictions in Minneapolis as part of their support for U.S. imperialisms alliance with Moscow in World War II. To this day the Stalinists proudly recount the involvement of some of their cadres in key wartime posts planning the firestorms that incinerated hundreds of thousands of workers and their families in Japan and Germany, Barnes said. The Stalinists operated during the war as enforcers of the bosses and the government, cracking down on workers threatening strikes and other labor resistance. They urged Blacks to put aside the struggle against racist discrimination in the armed forces, war plants, and elsewhere.
The turning point in the conclusion of World War II that paved the way for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he continued, was Roosevelts decision to firebomb Tokyo and more than 60 other Japanese cities in the spring and summer of 1945 to break the spirit of working people and better prepare for the U.S. occupation of Japan. This success for U.S. imperialism followed the British and U.S. firebombings of Dresden and other cities that annihilated working-class neighborhoods.
The lesson of this and other historic events in the class struggle, Barnes explained, is the need to build revolutionary workers parties and carry out a strategy that leads workers and farmers to overturn capitalist rule and take power. These are the questions that many of those attending the world youth festival will be looking for answers to.
How proletarian party builds festival
Alice Baum, a coal miner in Price, Utah, currently laid off, described how socialists there are integrating their political work in the mines with building participation in the world youth festival. In the nonunion mine where she has worked, Baum said, discussions on the vital issue of safety often turn into discussions on the need for a union. Young miners looking to organize unions are among those Utah socialists are seeking to win to go to Venezuela this summer.
Work on campuses is part of, not separate from, this proletarian orientation. Baum said that Students United Against Violence and Injustice has organized an event, titled Getting to Know the World around You, at the College of Eastern Utah in Price, which a number of miners attend, to help build participation in the festival.
Barnes closed the meeting by appealing for donations to the $90,000 spring fund drive for the Militant, to cover the papers operating expenses. Those present that evening contributed or pledged nearly $33,000. On top of that, they contributed another $5,000 for the PRDF-organized Militant Fighting Fund.
Wide interest among youth
Following the meeting, many stayed to continue the discussion over refreshments and around the book displays. Among them were three workers who came from Atlanta and three fellow militants from New Jersey, all originally from Guatemala. One of them, Santos, said the remarks by Barnes made clear the objectives we all have: to take power from those governments that are oppressing us and discriminating against us. He said he had been reading with interest about the Co-Op miners struggle in Perspectiva Mundial magazine and they are an example of what can be done.
Other participants involved in the youth festival who were new to communist politics came from Tampa, New York, Albany, Chicago, Cleveland, Newark, Boston, Minneapolis, and Detroit, as well as Montreal and Toronto, Canada. One of the workers who came from Philadelphia said he had read the Spanish editions of Capitalisms World Disorder and Che Guevara, Cuba, and the Road to Socialism after buying it from a socialist co-worker in a meatpacking plant.
Jon Smith, a 23-year-old student at the University of Pittsburgh, said he hadnt read any issues of New International yet, but was eager to study the ideas they present. He explained that he intends to go to the youth festival in Venezuela because it is a prime opportunity to be with the working class in a country going through a major political struggle.
Supporters of Marxist magazine start sales campaign
Militant launches $90,000 fund
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