Tag Archives: internationalism

An Open Letter to Members of the SEIU 1021 who work at the Port of Oakland

Striking clerical workers carry pickets outside the APM Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.  (David McNew / Getty Images / November 30, 2012)

Striking clerical workers carry pickets outside the APM Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. (David McNew / Getty Images / November 30, 2012)

To our fellow workers,

We understand that this Wednesday, December 5, you will be voting on a contract for your labor at the Port of Oakland. We do not know the details of this contract, and only you can decide if what they offer is worth your labor at this point in time. However, as people who have and will continue to fight alongside you, we would like to respectfully ask that you consider some points before you cast your ballot.

The entirety of this letter is to argue that you are in a position of great power in this situation that is unparalleled in recent history.

The strike action taken at the Port of Oakland on Tuesday, November 20 was powerful. The Port Commission was undoubtedly shaken by your willingness to withhold your labor, the fierce support of your coworkers on the ports, and the larger  community. The fact that they wanted to revisit negotiations after nearly a year shows that they do not want this type of tactic to continue or to escalate. This is still the most powerful weapon that an organized workforce has. We were glad to help organize and carry through two shut downs at the Port of Oakland last year.  This collaboration and solidarity is quite obviously a threat to those who profit from the work that we do.

Continue reading

Desde Seattle hasta el Distrito Federal: Alto a la Represión Política!

mexico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miles de manifestantes marcharon contra el Presidente electo, a quien se le acusa de corrupcion para ganar su puesto. (departe te Sergio Carranza)

 

Saludos internacionales desde Oakland y San Francsco, California, EE.UU. a todos los compañeros y compañeras en Mexico luchando por la justicia social en contra del estado Mexicano.

Aquí en los EE.UU. también tenemos una historia violenta de ataques y represión contra la clase obrera y los revolucionarios de diversas tendencias.
En los años 1919 y 1920 las redadas Palmer se llevaron a cabo por el gobierno en contra de los inmigrantes, miembros de la IWW y otros radicales y revolucionarios. Fueron encarcelados por sus creencias y acciones políticas, y más de 500 personas fueron deportadas.

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Bay Area Event: Sin papeles pero con vos/ Undocumented with a voice

Come through! And click the image for a PDF version of the flyer!Flyer for event at La Pena

Debate on Palestinian Liberation and Israeli Class Struggle

A while back a comrade of ours posted a serious response to a controversial (or at least controversially-titled) piece we put out last year: Power to the Jews and Therefore to the Class.  We’re just catching on to it (trippin!) and appreciate the thoughtful engagement.  Here’s a sample of the more combative section:

There are genuine problems with the AS post and the following comments (presumably by AS members or supporters) which are largely contained in the lack of a historical perspective that prevents them from seeing the specificity of Zionism and the centrality of Palestine in its overthrow.  Insofar as this historicity is concerned, I tend to agree with the ISO save for their “one state solution” prescription which I would counter with not a state but a “single democratic polity.”  This is of secondary importance here.

Check out the rest of their blog post :slash: slogan, “MAKE THE GENERAL STRIKE IN ISRAEL AN INTIFADA!”  We’ll be engaging the post over there, so if you’re interested link on.

“Socialism means freedom”… “no strike is illegal!”: Mineworkers, the ANC and the class composition of South Africa

“Socialism means freedom”… “no strike is illegal!”

by A.S. Read

Proletarians around the world should be looking at the situation that has unfolded in South Africa over the last three months. Some 80,000 mineworkers have engaged in wildcat strikes spanning the myriad mining industries from platinum to gold to iron-ore to diamonds and coal. And although the South African ruling class, led by the ANC, is doing everything in their power to promote the illusion of this labor struggle coming to an end (more on this below), on Nov. 10, 2012 miners from the Anglo-American Platinum mine in Rustenberg held a mass rally to build support for their two month long strike. Not only is this wave of labor strikes far from over, its been challenging writing an update as fresh news from comrades directly involved in this struggle comes daily and sometimes hourly. Thus I will attempt to provide as much content as possible in the form of an update. Before highlighting all the latest from the workers and their inspiring actions, its important to identify some important statistics from “post-Apartheid” S.A.

Ben Fogel, a militant in the Eastern Cape of S.A. recently wrote a piece on the autonomous organizing being done from a strategic perspective. The following is taken directly from that article and provides some important statistics: 

South Africa, despite 18 years of majority rule, continues to be one of the most unequal societies on an increasingly unequal planet and is in crisis. Around half the population, mostly black Africans, live below the poverty line.[2] Almost half of all black African households earned below R1670 a month in 2005–06, while only 2 percent of white households fell in that income bracket.[3] South Africa, as of 2011, ranked as the second most unequal country in the world after Namibia—according to the Gini measure.[4] Unemployment consistently hovers unofficially at around 40 percent, and among 18–25 year olds, it is now over 60 percent.[5] Millions of households, despite some improvements still lack access to basic services; the education system still equips most blacks for little other than a future as unskilled labor. This is despite the existence of the much lauded “progressive constitution” with a bill of rights which supposedly insures access to basic socio-economic rights.[6] Essentially South Africa is fucking unequal and black African working class and unemployed Africans continue to be the worst off.” 

Read the entire article here: http://insurgentnotes.com/2012/10/marikana-a-point-of-rupture/

This quote contextualizes a bit of the current class composition of S.A. and reveals a working class powder keg set to explode on the facade of “progressive” South Africa. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the ANC-led “black bourgeoisie” and all its governing structures: Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South African Communist Party (SACP), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and of course the media are all putting out unimaginable propaganda in the attempt to label this unrest as anything BUT class struggle. Continue reading

Two Talks by South African organizer: Mineworker Strikes, Class Struggle after Marikana

 

You’ve probably heard about the class struggle unfolding over the past few months in South Africa. An unprecedented wave of wildcat strikes has all but shut down much of the mining sector since August, with workers resisting wage cuts, layoffs, and hyperexploitative working conditions. When the South African Police Service massacred 34 strikers in broad daylight, the workers were not deterred; instead of backing off, the strikes spread across the entire mining sector, with iron ore and gold miners joining their platinum mining comrades in struggle against the multinationals that own and profit from these oppressive conditions. Now the struggle has spread into Namibia, Botswana, the Western Cape, and elsewhere, and strikers have self-organized workers’ committees across the platinum belt.

So what does all of this mean for class struggle in South Africa? How are these workers’ committees being organized, and why is this (as the Financial Times recently claimed) potentially the most effective strike wave to hit South Africa since the demise of apartheid?

Mazibuko Jara, a long-time organizer from South Africa’s Eastern Cape and one of the founders of the Democratic Left Front, will be giving two presentations on this new wave of class struggle:

On Thursday, Nov. 15, he will be speaking at a forum organized by UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies at 4 pm (575 McCone Hall). While admission is free, we highly encourage people to make donations to the strike fund for these unprotected workers’ committees. Please give generously; every last dollar will help prolong this struggle.

On Friday, Nov. 15, Mazibuko will be speaking at La Peña in Berkeley (3105 Shattuck Ave) at 7 pm. Admission is on a sliding scale of $5-20, but please give as much as you can: every dollar raised will go to the workers’ committees. Additional donations are highly encouraged.

We hope to see you at one or both events. A luta continua! Forward to a living wage for all workers!

Notes Towards a Critique of Maoism by Loren Goldner

The below piece was originally posted in the hot-off-the-presses latest edition of Insurgent Notes, an excellent Communist journal published by some of our comrades.

In this moment the US revolutionary left is attempting to rebuild from being murdered, exiled and corrupted into practical nonexistence.  As part of this process, we have to take a hard and utterly nondogmatic look at the history of various revolutionary traditions…..unfortunately this is not very common.  What is more common, and infinitely more boring and useless, is a gutter-level political culture that includes one-sentence name-calling summaries of traditions and idealized versions of ones’ own, leading to brain-dead strategic thought often based in knee-jerk rejection.

BUT

We are also not going to win by implementing broad left unity, or by rejecting theory and strategic thought as “academic” or “overintellectualized“.  This could only work if our ideas for approaching the world, and the strategies we make with them, don’t matter for whether our struggles win (if only for a few years) or are drowned in blood.  I’ve yet to hear someone directly defend this thesis, but by all means the comment thread is open for you if you’re interested!

What nondogmatic means in this case is MORE intellectual, in the sense of a deeper look into the reality of complex historical events, figures, strategies and tactics.  It also means “No Cheap Shots“, i.e. we’re trying to learn about the applicability of certain ideas to reality, and the consequences of their use, rather than GET someone in some kind of boxing-like debate.

The following piece is an example of the kind of sharp debate that we need, and the readable historical summations of different tendencies we’ll need to develop and debate in order to understand our history and its impact on today.

The Fish

Introduction by an Advance the Struggle Comrade:

A Marxist critique of Maoism

Were living in a historical moment where anarchism, Trotskyism and Maoism have not proved to be powerful revolutionary systems nor totally obsolete. They hang on to the left. Become reproduced in a variety of ways. Maoism in particularly is an important movement. It claims to be the most serious Marxist movement that is grounded in a non European setting. Such a dynamic makes Maoism an attractive force for young militants of color who align themselves with third world struggles. The Black Panthers were highly influenced by Maoism and Fanon. Movies often depict Panthers selling the Mao’s little red book. The key inspiration for the Panthers, Malcolm X, also was influenced by Maoism. In his Message to the Grassroots, 10th Nov, 1963: Malcolm states: 
“…The Chinese Revolution — they wanted land. They threw
the British out, along with the Uncle Tom Chinese. Yeah,
they did. They set a good example. When I was in prison, I
read an article — don’t be shocked when I say I was in
prison. You’re still in prison. That’s what America means:
prison. When I was in prison, I read an article in Life
magazine showing a little Chinese girl, nine years old; her
father was on his hands and knees and she was pulling the
trigger ’cause he was an Uncle Tom Chinaman, When they had
the revolution over there, they took a whole generation of
Uncle Toms — just wiped them out. And within ten years
that little girl become [sic] a full-grown woman. No more
Toms in China. And today it’s one of the toughest,
roughest, most feared countries on this earth — by the
white man. ‘Cause there are no Uncle Toms over there.”…

As 1500 strikes take place in China everyday, and China being a center of global capitalist accumulation within the world system, many in the Chinese left will try to redevelop Maoism. We need a clear analysis of the political character of Maoism from a marxist perspective. One that can trace its historical development from 1911 to the present. With that said, we welcome Loren Goldner’s essay, a Marxist critique of Maoism.

***

Note to the Reader: The following was written at the request of a west coast comrade after he attended the August 2012 “Everything for Everyone” conference in Seattle, at which many members of the “soft Maoist” Kasama current were present. It is a bare-bones history of Maoism which does not bring to bear a full “left communist” viewpoint, leaving out for the example the sharp debates on possible alliances with the “nationalist bourgeoisie” in the colonial and semi-colonial world at the first three congresses of the Communist International. It was written primarily to provide a critical-historical background on Maoism for a young generation of militants who might be just discovering it. —LG.

Maoism was part of a broader movement in the twentieth century of what might be called “bourgeois revolutions with red flags,” as in Vietnam or North Korea.

To understand this, it is important to see that Maoism was one important result of the defeat of the world revolutionary wave in 30 countries (including China itself) which occurred in the years after World War I. The major defeat was in Germany (1918–1921), followed by the defeat of the Russian Revolution (1921 and thereafter), culminating in Stalinism.

Maoism is a variant of Stalinism.[1] Continue reading

Health Care Workers on Strike for the Whole Class

A striking public health worker at a demonstration outside the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kenya’s capital Nairobi (REUTERS)

On September 12th of this year, 3,000 Kenyan public doctors and health workers voted to strike in solidarity with medical students demanding to be paid for their volunteer hospital work.  This is the second time in one year health workers have staged a strike.  On Friday the health workers called off the strike, with some initial indications that it’s a serious victory for the Kenyan working class, health workers and consumers both.  (We’re also hesitant to crow victory too quickly in these complex situations.)

From allAfrica.com:

After talks with the union officials, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o announced that he had revoked all disciplinary measures that the government had taken on the medics for taking part in the strike.

At a joint press conference with union officials at Afya House on Thursday evening, Nyong’o said the government would also release the salaries that had been withheld from the striking doctors.

The meeting agreed to set up a committee that would address the doctors’ grievances, which included demands for fastracking of a return-to-work formula that had been signed to end a similar strike late last year.

Kenya is a country in which politicians make about $130,000 a year, while doctors receive a $36,000 a year salary that doesn’t even let them visit private clinics. Health workers in Kenya struggle to meet the needs of their poor and working-class patients with a dire lack of basic resources like drugs and surgery tools. In the meantime, Kenyan legislators hop on flights to America or Europe to kick it with their imperialist puppet masters and get their surgeries and check ups.

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The bourgeois media says Egypt is ‘back in business’, but the people say strike!

While the world had its eyes on an inflammatory film made to mock the Prophet Muhammad, The US Chamber of Commerce was brokering a midday Cairo brunch in the Four Seasons between American and Egyptian businessmen.

The US Consulate in Cairo has been the target for many actions before this moment – in response to the Iraq War, in protest of the Mubarak regime’s relationship to the US, etc. This time the trigger might have been the film, but concurrent actions happening across the country prove that Egyptians have a much broader agenda.
Continue reading

“That’s Why I’m a Communist” – Trade Unions, Social Struggle and the State in South Africa


My mother was a kitchen girl//My father was a garden boy//That’s why I’m a communist//I’m a communist//I’m a communist! – Popular apartheid-era song still sung today

The recent armed conflicts between miners and police in South Africa are part of a long legacy of class struggle against the capitalist state.  Recently we in AS along with our comrades in La Pena 2nd Gen organized a forum to tap some of our comrades’ knowledge on the incredible history of South African working-class resistance, both against apartheid and against the neoliberal African National Congress.

The first presentation “The Birth of the Modern Trade Union Movement in South Africa”, by former Black Panther Gerald Smith, is a very useful initial overview of South African history from a class struggle perspective; it’s also a more specific history and analysis of Black labor militancy in the 1980s under apartheid.  Learn something from his dynamic speaking style!

The second presentation, “Social Struggles and the Capitalist State in South Africa since 1994”, by UC Berkeley PHD student Zachary Levenson, focuses on post-apartheid history.  Levenson recently returned from 6 months in South Africa and describes the terrain of struggle and nature of the capitalist state after apartheid.

Check it out and tell us what you think!

Blood Shed of the Innocent – Sounds of the South

Artists from political hip-hop collective Sounds of the South

With the chorus of ‘eighteen years and we’re still the victim’ this song from political hip-hop collective Sounds of the South represents in English and native tongues the hypocrisy of the post-Apartheid regime in South Africa. The African National Congress was a political party central to ending apartheid, making use of political strikes as one of its most powerful tactics. This tactic must be used here in the USA. But without a communist goal, all the best tactics in the world will loop back to capitalism and all its horrors.

Nelson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa under the ANC but its plain to see the dictatorship of capital still reigns supreme. The National Union of Miners has always been a pillar of the ANC, but today they work hand in hand with capitalists to put down workers’ righteous struggle. With our own black president, with our own popular “Democratic” party, and with our own sell-out unions, we in the US feel South African proletarian pain.

Power to the Jews and Therefore the Class!

SteveO writes:

One important component in the radical Left’s impulse for solidarity with oppressed people across the whole world is a condemnation of Israel’s relationship with Palestine, which is considered racist, colonial, fascist – a settler state par excellence. In our critique of Israel, we forget that nations are composed of antagonistic classes, and that the dialectic of class struggle in Israel-Palestine is not exclusively an anti-colonial one. The duty of a conscious Israeli to the world proletarian struggle for liberation does not lie in a self-sacrificing or suicidal “traitor-ism” wherein good Jews give themselves over to the Palestinian cause as a servant to it.

Israeli Jews have battles to fight of their own, bones to pick with other Israeli Jews, those who are their class enemies. Leftists in general, and Marxists especially, could consider the Jewish working class their sibling for once, rather than limiting our orientation to the contemporary Jewish question to the colonial aspect of the Jewish state. None of this is to say that we should stop criticizing and organizing against Israel’s apartheid regime. But we could and should consider a strategic re-orientation toward support for the working class Israeli, urging its alignment with its Arab counterpart, and forging a common interest between the two against racism, apartheid, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism.
This 7 part series serves as an accessible tutorial on the economics of Israeli Occupation:
These stories highlight some of the class contradictions between Israeli workers and capital, and the  action that Israelis are taking against “their own” government.

In May train workers wildcatted against the political arrest of union members for protesting privatization of the trains

On Tuesday hundreds of doctors in training (medical residents) walked out in response to a draft agreement with the Israeli Finance Ministry.  The strike has been happening since April, and a hunger strike is growing.

Forgotten Classic: Workers’ Movements in the United States Confront Imperialism

The Progressive Era Experience

by David Montgomery.

 

This was the subject of one of Advance the Struggle’s first posts, which was reported to be viewed by only one person. How is that possible? It demands a re-release! As a new working class struggle simmers under the surface, we should educate ourselves by learning our labor history and seeking out the best traditions and authors in that discipline. David Montgomery was a machinist before he was a professor. He wrote Workers Control in America about how the Taylorized method of production was more than just a method for economic efficiency; it was a mode of control and domination over the labor process which undercut workers’ power and autonomy at the point of production.

US Special Forces with Iraqi Prisoners

US Occupation forces in Iraq: Does organized US labor benefit from imperialism?

Most view the organized labor movement as being a static, conservative body that was often hierarchical and racist. Much of it was. David Montgomery investigates the opposition and internationalism that nonetheless persisted in the bodies of organized labor at the turn of the century, illuminating a powerful counter movement with internationalist principals. The American Federation of Labor from 1886 to 1955 and the AFL-CIO from 1955 to the present have worked and do work with the CIA and US foreign policy, from the pragmatic view that helping maintain the US’s share in the world will produce jobs for US workers. This essay shows on the one hand that the Pan-American Federation of Labor was more a product of diplomatic imperialist maneuvering than of class solidarity, and on the other, that there was still a militant internationalist movement that cross-fertilized in US, Mexico, Cuba , Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Specifically in Mexico, where major US investments shaped the economy, Montgomery states, “anarcho-syndicalists enjoyed strong support on both sides of the border, and the path to union growth was opened by revolution.” Continue reading

M1 (Dead Prez) on Internationalism – From the Ghetto to Gaza west coast speaking tour

M1 from Dead Prez got interviewed by Davey D about his experience in 1930423.47Gaza (which he wrote about for the SF BayView) and about the importance of international solidarity between the struggle here in the US and struggles abroad.  He’ll be on a speaking tour that’s making stops in Oakland and other Bay Area and Northern California cities. (Click here for the flyer)

For those of us in the belly of the beast, we have a very specific responsibility to be internationalist.  But, one question that comes to mind is: how do we exercise this responsibility?  No doubt symbolic protests and demonstrations against the war, or against the invasion of Gaza by Israel, are important.  But is this deep enough?  Have we struck a nerve in the imperial centre through these processes?

Anti-war organizations are planning a fall campaign, but the question remains: is this enough?  Symbolic protests play a role in shifting public opinion against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but is there something missing?

Hopefully M1 will get into some of these questions during the tour, and folks can take a stab at it in the comments.

Worker Unity from China and Mexico to the U.S.

As economies crumble, we can expect political structures to as well. Both Mexico and China have received a fair amount of US outsourcing, and get blamed by protectionists for taking American jobs. It behooves the US working class to pay attention to what’s going on in those countries, because in some ways, the US, Mexico, and China are one extended economy, with one extended (though fractured) proletariat.

Imagine a general strike starting in a plant in Guangdou that makes micro chip parts, spreading to workers in a plant in Mexico, where workers set the China-made parts into processing units to be shipped to LA for final assembly and stamped with a Made in the USA label. Could such a tri-country workers’ movement ever take shape?

In Mexico, the peso crisis of the early nineties and the passage of NAFTA have left the economy in a shambles. Massive emigration, social upheaval (Zapatistas, Oaxaca uprising, 2006 elections, etc) and increasing privatization drives (especially against the state-owned oil company PEMEX) all indicate political instability to match the economic. The latest tragedy to hit the country is the opening of a ruthless drug war that exposes the Mexican state’s vulnerabilities and shows that there is no total monopoly on the means of violence. The Mexican state is under attack and could be said to be slowly breaking down.In China, the political system had been very stable since the Tiannamen Square protest of 1989, thanks in large part to a booming economy. With the onset of the global economic crisis, China’s manufacturing based economy has contracted, leaving 10s of millions of chinese workers unemployed. The boom itself opened up a rift between haves and have-nots that was much less acute prior to China’s meteoric economic rise, but the bust holds the potential to revive China’s Marxist legacy. It remains to be seen what the destiny of China’s rising left is, but conditions are ripe for its growth.

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