by Bob Roman
The AFL-CIO brought its
"No More Business As Usual" campaign to Chicago on May
30. The Chicago Federation of Labor organized a town hall meeting
that brought together well over 300 labor activists, retirees
and friends at Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago. The after
work Thursday meeting was part of a national tour that uses the
Enron and Arthur Andersen scandal as an illustration for the need
for pension law reform and the need to protect Social Security.
It featured AFL-CIO President John Sweeney; Reverend Jesse Jackson,
Sr.; laid-off Enron workers Wanda Chalk, Debbie Perrotta and Dennis
Vegas; and laid-off Arthur Andersen worker Corretta Robinson.
The testimony of the laid-off workers shared a common theme
of betrayal, corruption and greed. Each of the workers, all lower
to mid-management, felt they were playing by the rules thus building
a future for themselves and their families. When the bottom line
broke, they all discovered that the rules were written for the
benefit of those at the very top. Those at the very top walked
away with the money. Everyone else was left with the debt.
This testimony had two purposes. One purpose was to illustrate
the need for legislation protecting 401(k) retirement savings
plans and to illustrate the fallacy of privatizing Social Security.
is supporting specific legislation, S1992
"Protecting America's Pensions Act", introduced
by Senator Ted Kennedy and cosponsored by 13 Senators including
Senator Durbin. S1992 addresses some of the abuses revealed in
the Enron experience. The bill also sets up an "Office of
Pension Participant Advocacy" which will have research, educational
and advocacy functions. It further mandates two studies. One investigates
the feasibility of an insurance system for retirement savings
plans and the other concerns an investigation of the fees charged
by 401(k) plans including whether or not the fees are adequately
The other purpose is something the entire labor movement can
be proud of: the fight to gain recompense for workers
laid-off by Enron and Arthur Andersen. The AFL-CIO and Jesse
have joined forces to lobby Congress and the courts in particular
to make sure that these former employees get something out of
the bankruptcy proceedings. This is not something the AFL-CIO
needed to do, in a strictly narrow business union sense. None
but a very few employees of some Enron subsidiaries were covered
by collective bargaining contracts. But
they took up the fight. While the employees will not get the
money they are justly entitled to (they remain victims of legal
robbery), they will get far more than they would have otherwise.
Labor does have some narrow self-interest involved in this
fight. It does, for example, serve as an opening wedge in a campaign
to elect a Congress more sympathetic to organized labor (that
is, not Republican) this coming November. Social Security and
the Republican identification with corporate interests could very
well be the issues that make the difference; for this, the battle
on behalf of laid-off Enron employees makes an excellent educational
tool. And very indirectly, a successful fight on behalf of non-union
Enron employees will add some credibility to and interest in the
old idea of union membership outside of shops covered by collective
In addition to Sweeney et. al., local union officials
also had a place on the podium. Illinois
State AFL-CIO President Margaret Blackshere was the Master
of Ceremonies for the meeting. The town hall meeting was also
one of the first public occasions for the Chicago
Federation of Labor's new President, Dennis Gannon, and Secretary
Treasurer, Tim Leahy. Don Turner, the previous President of the
Chicago Federation, has retired. Following the usual custom, Gannon
and Leahy moved up from their previous positions, Secretary Treasurer
and Assistant to the President respectively.
Tim Leahy is an interesting person. As Assistant to the President,
he served as the Chicago Federation of Labor's ambassador to a
wide range of planning meetings, forums and demonstrations, showing
up at mainstreamish lefty events frequently enough to be considered,
in an honorary way, one of the "usual suspects". He
has certainly learned the utility of organizations such as Jobs
with Justice. Leahy came to the Chicago Federation from the United
Food and Commerical Workers Union's Local 881.
Dennis Gannon came to the Chicago Federation from the International
Union of Operating Engineers Local 150.
Other changes are pending at the Chicago Federation. For years
the headquarters have been a rented suite of offices in the Prudential
Building. The Chicago Federation is looking at the prospect of
owning its own building within the next few years.
The atmosphere among the union officials on the podium was
cozy and self-congratulatory. This can be charming or alienating,
depending upon one's degree of identification with the officials.
When one speaker, slipping the tongue, referred to John Sweeney
as the President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, each
subsequent speaker took care to congratulate Sweeney on his "promotion".
And why not? The Chicago Federation proudly boasts of having the
affiliation of over 360 union locals, making it larger than some
state federations. Yet a considerable percentage of AFL-CIO union
locals in the Chicago area are not affiliated.
After the speeches and testimonies, the floor was opened for
questions. Thinking folks might have questions about investments,
the organizers had Jack Marco standing by to offer generic financial
advice, but they misjudged the audience. The questions were political.
Three of the questions were outstanding. If they were challenging,
they did not detract from the meeting.
One question was offered by a member of ISO. (Or I assume he
was a member of ISO as he was offering his Socialist Worker
fetish to any and all as might be interested after the meeting.)
He essentially asked the speakers to respond to the ULLICO
For those unfamiliar, ULLICO is the AFL-CIO's very own Enron
scandal. Established by the labor movement in the mid 1920s as
the Union Labor Life Insurance Company, ULLICO provides financial
services to both unions and their members, paid for by generally
"socially responsible" investments. The Board of Directors
is overwhelmingly retired or current national union officials,
drawn heavily but not exclusively from construction and service
unions that have memberships who might benefit from jobs created
by ULLICO investments. The ULLICO CEO is Robert A. Georgine, who
was the Director of the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades
Department until his retirement in January of 2000. Union pension
funds are major shareholders in the company.
Most financial scandals are shaggy dog stories with a punch
line of "the joke's on you". The ULLICO scandal is typical
except that the payoffs amount to lunch money by Wall Street standards.
While much of ULLICO's investments were "socially responsible",
ULLICO did benefit from the dot com bubble, in particular from
their investment in Global Crossing. This investment raised the
book value of ULLICO shares to $146. At that time, ULLICO Board
members were offered the opportunity to buy up to 4,000 shares
at about one third the book value. About the time the dot com
bubble began to deflate, ULLICO offered a $30,000,000 share buy
back at the $146 price even though that price was then twice the
book value of the shares. This offer was available to all shareholders,
except that "some restrictions" applied to everyone
but members of the Board.
It was Sweeney who assayed an answer to the question. He answered
in the manner of media players everywhere when confronting a difficult
and unwelcome question. He said many words while saying very little
except at the very end when he asserted, "There will be no
One obscure detail of the scandal is that ULLICO had been all
set to expand into banking by acquiring the Amalgamated
Bank of Chicago. Like ULLICO, Amalgamated Bank was established
as a labor owned institution back in the 1920s. While ownership
has diversified over the years, the bank still has close ties
to the labor movement in Chicago and still views the labor movement
as its prime constituency.
The proposed merger was announced two years ago in a letter
to Amalgamated Bank customers and a press release on the ULLICO
web site. Becoming a bank holding company, as ULLICO intended,
requires approval by the Federal Reserve. A request was duly put
in process. While there has been no public announcement that I
can find, the minutes of the Federal Reserve indicate the request
was withdrawn in October of 2001.
The ULLICO Board has hired former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson
to lead an investigation on their behalf. This has provoked muttering
among habitual outsiders. "Fox" and "hen house"
are words frequently overheard though the problem is not so much
Governor Thompson as that the report will be submitted to the
Board, the folks accused of wrong doing.
This sorry affair is also under investigation by a Grand Jury
in Washington, DC, which is mostly interested in the repurchase
aspect. Grand juries, of course, are very much creatures of the
prosecutor in charge, and ULLICO is almost as wonderful a political
target as Bill Clinton was. Eleven of the ULLICO directors are
also members of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council. The decision
to not prosecute Dubya for his insider trading was political;
the decision to prosecute the ULLICO board will be every bit as
political: no double standards.
In politics, timing counts for a lot though it need not be
precise. Look for any indictments to come in time to interfere
with either the labor movement's participation in the November
elections or in time to interfere with Sweeney's reelection. And
while there are a number of individuals who deserve a good swift
kick up the rectum over this affair (not Sweeney, apparently,
for while he owns ULLICO shares he did not participate in these
trades), I'd be surprised if the AFL-CIO applies any internal
sanctions as organizations are not in the habit of cutting their
Another question essentially challenged the effectiveness of
the labor bureaucracy. Margaret Blackshere was obviously taken
aback by the question, but the specifics of neither the question
nor her reply are pertinent. The question spoke to the speakers'
earlier boasts: with so many locals affiliated with the Chicago
Federation of Labor, why then is a meeting this important being
held in such a limited venue? Shouldn't there be thousands here
instead of hundreds?
The labor movement's failure at internal education and mobilization
is notorious and not new. Books have been written about this,
some of them quite good. While some of notoriety is conditioned
by marxist expectations (never mind what the working class thinks
about its historic role in liberating humanity, if they're not
up to it then it's obviously the fault of the leadership not the
theory), it's also true that the movement is not doing enough,
is sometimes not doing it well and is often failing in the most
If I might join Ms. Blackshere on the soap box for a moment,
though, let me point out that at times in the past, the Chicago
Federation of Labor has been a leader in innovative strategies
and tactics. Around the turn of the last century and well into
the 1920s, Chicago labor was a center for independent electoral
politics. Federation News, currently an organizational
newsletter with limited circulation, was established in the 1920s
as the New Majority, intended as a mass circulation, popular
publication. WCFL was established (see New
Ground 67, "Chicago's Voice of Labor") as a
clear channel, labor owned radio station during the same decade.
In the early years of radio, remember, radio was regarded in much
the same way we regard the internet and the world-wide web today:
as a revolutionary technology of democratic communication. The
Amalgamated Bank of Chicago was part of this florescence of innovation
as well. I would argue that these institutions mostly failed in
their intent not simply because they were potentially a
threat to various control freaks in the movement, but because
in the face of that opposition (and in the face of labor's ongoing
struggle for survival) they required an investment of leadership
and other organizational resources that was not sustainable unless
they were also very quickly a successful aid to organizing. This
leads to the final outstanding question.
An older member of HERE Local 1 observed that he had been organizing
for the past several decades. What could he have said to the Enron
and Arthur Andersen employees that could have changed their minds
about the labor movement? This was a slow pitch right down the
center of the strike zone. Everyone wanted a swing at it, but
only the Enron and Arthur Andersen workers' responses are relevant.
The answer was nothing. They all had work that was interesting
and amply rewarding. Only two of the four had had any connection
with unions at all. Dennis Vegas came from a union family, and
it was that fact that had made college affordable. He seemed gracefully
embarrassed at his rediscovery of the labor movement, but there
was nothing anyone could have said that would have made him join
a union. Corretta Robinson actually asked a number of colleagues
at Arthur Andersen if there were a union and was advised that
such talk was a quick way of ending a career at the company; there
was no union and organizing was not an option.
The new leadership that accompanied Sweeney into office upon
his election as President of the AFL-CIO is no longer new. If
his administration can only claim credit for halting the decline
of the labor movement, that only is ultimately failure. To succeed,
the labor movement must grow. The frustration of no progress is
not conducive to solidarity. Already the Carpenters Union and
the United Transportation Union have left the AFL-CIO. Conservative
pundits are attempting to create a buzz that Sweeney will be challenged
by Hoffa of the Teamsters Union, or that the Teamsters and others
will leave the federation. (In politics, creating a buzz often
leads to the predicted outcome; if it doesn't, it at least makes
life difficult for your opponents.) The left should not take Sweeney
or the labor movement for granted. The labor movement has gone
through other periods of innovation. When these did not succeed
in a significant way (for whatever reasons), the response has
been to retreat.
If the Enron town hall meeting demonstrated anything, it is
that innovative programs and strategies and tactics are not enough.
These will make the best (one hopes) of a bad situation. But there
is nothing a labor organizer could have told the Enron workers
that would have made a difference until circumstances and experience
made that message understandable. Likewise, even if the message
were understood, Corretta Robinson's experience demonstrates that
unions must be a real possibility, not just a nice idea. The same
is true of union members. For all of labor's deficiency in internal
education, a great many union members are just not ready to hear
labor's message. Improving the message and the messenger is not
going to be enough.
Except that Enron and the other associated economic atrocities
could be an opportunity. For some of the indifference to labor's
message was based on the experience and perception that capitalism
worked, to one degree or another, for the large majority of people.
With these new experiences, more people will be willing to listen
and, perhaps, act.
And here the left must also accept responsibility. For the
standard union rhetoric is to condemn "corporate greed".
In a society that makes greed a primary public virtue, this is
almost like condemning an animal for breathing. Employees, union
members or not, are complicit in this process for their livelihood
and even the union's ability to negotiate depends upon the success
of the company. If "corporate greed" resonates with
them at collective bargaining time, it's only a complaint that
the big boys won't properly share. For the general working population,
largely unrepresented by unions and largely unable to join one,
a strike can then be easily seen as a petulant defense of privilege
rather than a fight for justice. What ethical difference is there
between a "greedy" worker and a "greedy" boss?
In this time of opportunity, the left and the labor movement must
find new ways of presenting this struggle as part of a larger
campaign for a just society, and it must be a presentation that
makes sense to more than just some union activists and academics.
Need we say it again? Ideas matter.
by Lenore Palladino
Those of us who are post- Cold War babies, i.e. under
the age of 25 or so, have heard about the 'secret wars' of the
1980s in Latin America, and about the role of the U.S. in perpetuating
the violence in such small and violent countries as El Salvador,
Guatemala, and Nicaragua. But things have changed now: our enemies
lie far away and speak Arabic instead of Spanish, and Latin America
is a bastion of democracy and neoliberalism, safely under the
watch of the Goliath of the North. The wars are over, or so we
think- except for Colombia, where those pesky rebels, holdovers
from the 1960s, are still around. No matter, we think, Colombia
is a long-standing democracy, and places like Bogota and Medellin
are still safe for the tourist. No matter the cocaine cartels
weren't really busted, no matter the over two million people displaced
by the violence. We don't have to pay attention.
I traveled with Witness for Peace in March to the capital city
of Bogota and to the northeastern state of Arauca, home of the
Cano Limon oil pipeline, to try and understand what our beloved
corporate media isn't showing us about Colombia. My journey to
Colombia, in some senses, started at the concentration camps of
Hitler in Poland that I visited when I was fifteen. The path continued
through the landscapes of the countries that held their massacres,
for the most part, in the 1980s in Central America. I have spoken
with survivors and learned about the path these countries are
taking to try and pull themselves back together from the edge
of collapse. But in all those cases, I was too young while the
wars were occurring to even begin to understand them. I was drawn
to Colombia as the site of violence that you and I will be reading
about ten, twenty years down the road, as the site of violence
that the U.S. was complicit in and its ordinary citizens did not
know enough about to care. Colombia's wars are real, are now,
and are not going anywhere.
To try and explain the story of the violence in Colombia is
to try to tell an impossible tale. There are too many sides and
too many positions to lay out a clear path of war: this side versus
this side; these the good guys, these the bad. In Colombia, the
elites have always had a strong, strong hold on power, divided
between the Liberal and Conservative parties. Their division of
power has always been filled with tension, which has led to violence
and bloodshed at many different points since the country's independence.
After the most recent episode, "La Violencia", several
different guerilla groups formed around the country to challenge
the elite power structure. As drug money became more and the guerilla
groups grew stronger, paramilitary forces were formed both by
the military and by private landowners. The private landowners,
more often than not, were protecting the land they had bought
with laundered money from cocaine sales. Today the violence continues:
and to me what became most important was the untold story, the
story of the civilians, of the people who live every day not knowing
when they might be killed or forced to flee their homes, caught
in a seemingly-endless cycle of violence.
Today's violence has several different answers to the question
of why it still continues. Some are about greed: cocaine production
still has a ready market, almost entirely within our country.
People are not giving up this crop, especially since neoliberal
reforms have caused licit agricultural crops to produce almost
no revenue. Oil is another huge source of power struggle. In Arauca,
where I visited, things were relatively peaceful until the oil
production came in. And some are our responsibility: the U.S.'s
Plan Colombia and support for the growth of the military in Colombia
contributes on a daily basis to a war that seems without end.
There have been many, many peace processes along the way, and
the political parties that have been formed by guerilla groups
have suffered many assassinations. Too many such killings, the
guerillas say, for them to be a viable option. And so the fighting
The question that I went to Colombia with was, who is fighting
this war? I came away realizing that not only did it continue
because of the greed and power struggles of those at the top but
because of the absolute lack of options for those on the bottom.
People who are living in rural areas of Colombia, and more often
now the urban areas as well, have almost zero choice beyond joining
the coca trade through production or joining one of the armed
groups. Often the decision of which armed group to join, the guerillas
or the military-backed paramilitaries, is made by who will offer
the most benefits to the recruit, much as anyone else might choose
between jobs. There are virtually no schools, no type of development
going on that allows a way out for people who are intent on feeding
their families. And so it goes often that village members are
killing other village members on the orders of higher-ups. Killings
are often not in any sort of direct line of battle, either, but
are as revenge from one side for the seeming preference of a civilian
for the other side. Examples can be someone selling water selling
some to a paramilitary passing through, whether that person was
known to the seller as a paramilitary or not. For that the guerilla
may take your life.
I could tell you endless stories: one that affected me the
most was the two-hour long meeting we had with the human rights
official of a small town we visited in the rural areas. I don't
want to tell you his name or where I met him because I am sure
that this man still fears for his life. He spoke to us for about
an hour and a half about the dangers the townspeople face, caught
as they are in a place where the recently arrived paramilitaries
and the long-present guerillas together between them cause sometimes
multiple deaths per week. Never mind the fact that he gets almost
no support from the central government, and can't buy paper or
be paid his salary. Never mind the hundreds of other jobs he is
assigned as a government official besides being responsible for
the human rights of his town. At the end of our meeting he opened
up the small piece of white paper that he had been folding over
and over again in his hands, like a love letter. He asked one
of our group members to read the letter to us, roughly translated
into English. It was a message telling him that for the work he
is doing, his life is threatened by the guerillas. If he didn't
clear out in a few days, he should consider himself under death
threat. This is the reality that peace must be pulled from in
Today, the situation looks almost out of control. The peace
process that was going on between the main guerilla group, the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the government
broke down in February after a three-year set of negotiations,
which most of the time were hardly negotiations at all. Experts
say that the military force of the FARC and of the state are about
even, which means that neither is likely to overpower each other
militarily anytime soon.
The recent presidential election has brought to power Alvaro
Uribe, a man with clear connections to the forces behind the paramilitaries,
and a 'hawkish' president to say the least. His many visits to
Washington, even before his May 26th election have assured him
of continued U.S. support in the form of Plan Colombia, a $3.6
billion dollar plan already. This support will go entirely to
military operations, helicopters, weapons, even as the U.S. continues
to claim feebly that it's support only goes to the "Drug
War" which is not a war against the guerillas.
The language is subtly shifting to call the guerillas terrorists
and thus legitimize U.S. support for fighting an anti-terrorist
war. But September 11th changed nothing on the ground in Colombia:
the violence continues. If the war is to be fought for the strength
and health of the Colombian people and the Colombian society,
than more helicopters and U.S. backed paramilitary massacres of
civilians, such as happened in Santo Domingo, Arauca, in 1998,
are not the answer. If the goal is control over drugs and oil,
then the fight will continue until someone comes out on top. If
the goal is a healthy society and human rights, then the answer
is in the strength of those working for peace and justice in Colombia
on the ground, and risking their lives daily. I don't know how
these people continue to do the work that they do, faced with
immeasurable odds that felt overwhelming to me in my 10 day visit.
But I do know that we as the progressive community in the United
States need to support the work that they are doing as they fight
to stop the violence in their homes, and in their communities,
as the only path they know towards survival.
I am Jewish because all of my fathers and mothers before me
I am Jewish because I grew up on the south side of Chicago
where even my public school was Jewish.
I am Jewish because my grandfather was oh so Jewish and I felt
it then and feel it now.
I am Jewish because angry Irish boys felt my Jewish nose at
the end of their Catholic fist.
I am Jewish because we are commanded to remember when we were
slaves in the land of Egypt and I do.
I am Jewish because we are commanded to seek justice and because
I believed my teachers who said we must do so.
I am Jewish because I have never felt any other way.
I am Jewish because dissent is my faith.
I am Jewish because I learned Hebrew and then forgot nearly
every word of it.
I am Jewish because in my grandmother's kitchen nothing would
rise, but of everything there was plenty.
I am Jewish because the South Shore Country Club was founded
by people who would not let us in.
I am Jewish because my Dad once slugged a guy at Comiskey Park
who cussed a Jewish pitcher for the White Sox.
I am Jewish because the Jewish god is not diminished by my
I am Jewish because Rabbi Teller bar mitzvah'd my Dad and,
although retired by then, bar mitzvah'd me, too.
I am Jewish because I wouldn't have it any other way.
I am Jewish because Emma Goldman was Jewish, and so was Karl
Marx and so was Groucho Marx and Jesus, too, for that matter.
I am Jewish because of the Maccabees and Masada and crusader
violence and Spanish inquisitors and Cossack pogroms and the Warsaw
ghetto and the Shoah and because I also planted trees in Israel.
I am Jewish because Jews have paid for their disbelief in the
I am Jewish because Jews fought in labor struggles and because
Jews joined the Freedom Riders and because a preferential option
for the poor is a mandate, not a choice.
I am Jewish because being Jewish means never using violence
against another except when life, itself, is directly threatened,
and because being Jewish means that principle must never be compromised.
I am Jewish because what else would I be?
But how much longer can I remain Jewish when to be Jewish now
means no quarter for Palestinians, no justice for Palestinians?
How much longer can I remain Jewish when to be Jewish means
Jewish rage, means total military victory, means a final solution
to the Palestinian problem?
And thus I find, in this occupation, that being Jewish may
also mean agony and shame and others deciding what being Jewish
And so to be Jewish must finally mean, I cannot let that happen.
If next year, Pesach is to be in Jerusalem, I will share the
seder meal with my Palestinian brothers and sisters. If not, then
I choose exile.
I am Jewish because if you come for the Palestinians, you must
come for me, also.
--Jeff Epton, May 27, 2002
The Council of the Socialist International met in Casablanca
May 31 - June 1. Among many other items of business, the Council
adopted the resolution printed below. Prior to the Council meeting,
the Middle East Committee of the Socialist International had met
in Ramallah and Tel Aviv March 14 and 15. That meeting attempted
to maintain and expand dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian
political leaders. In Israel, the Labor Party and Meretz are full
member parties of the Socialist International. In Palestine, Fatah is a consultative
party. DSA is a full member of the Socialist International. Additional
details of the SI Council and Middle East Committee may be found
The Socialist International hereby announces
that its member parties - the Israeli Labour Party, Meretz and
Fatah - agree that the mutual recognition of the State of Israel
and the State of Palestine, as two states to live side by side,
should be the initial commitment before negotiations start between
the two peoples.
The main elements of a final settlement
have long been clear to most involved parties: implementation
of Security Council resolution 242; establishment of a Palestinian
state living side by side with Israel under irreversible security
guarantees for both sides; borders ensuring that the West Bank
and the Gaza Strip are part of the Palestinian state, but opening
the possibility of negotiated land swaps; both states to have
their capital in Jerusalem, and a just solution to the refugee
The Socialist International and its above-mentioned
member parties stress that negotiations have to be opened immediately
and handle all outstanding issues. A cease-fire cannot be a condition
to the start of negotiations. Extremists cannot be given the upper
hand. The above parties renounce violence and will refrain from
participating in any violent activity that harms civilian lives.
Firm measures must be taken against such acts. We ask the parties
to pay particular attention to the protection of the civilian
The Israeli Labour Party, Meretz and Fatah
will immediately engage in confidence-building activities together,
with the help and support of the Socialist International and member
parties. Joint groups will be established to discuss and prepare
specific issues that will come up within the framework of final
The Socialist International will work with
the aim of encouraging the United States, Russia and the European
Union to find a common stand on final status issues. This stand
must be consistent with international legality, and enjoy the
support of the UN Security Council. It must also allow concerned
Arab states to adhere to it. Particularly, it must take into consideration
the parameters included in the recent Saudi initiative.
This basic common position should be elaborated
before an international peace conference with the participation
of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, relevant Arab countries,
the US, EU, Russia and the UN.
The parties to the conflict should be invited
to the Conference on the basis of basic principles: land for peace,
242, and an agreement on the establishment of two states and security
for both. The Conference should set a timetable for final status
The Socialist International also encourages
our member parties who are parties in the conflict to prepare
their respective public opinions for a compromise. Israel may
not have peace and at the same time keep settlements, while Palestinians
may have to accept an internationally supported compromise on
the refugee issue.
The Socialist International supports the
idea of building an international Fund for the Palestinian refugees,
which the UN could administer once a permanent political settlement
has been achieved on this issue. The Fund should ensure compensation
for the losses and the suffering of the refugees, and provide
them with the opportunity to start a new life on the basis of
the conclusion of a final peace agreement. The better we can show
that solutions are within reach, the more likely people will start
working for a political settlement rather than a military one.
Urgent recovery and reconstruction programmes
for the Palestinian Authority are needed, including the recovery
of taxes, customs and other fees still withheld. Development and
security are dependent upon developing democratic institutions
and establishing a centralised security authority.
The Socialist International insists on the
need for international guarantees, international monitoring of
implementation of any agreements, international political follow
up of negotiations, and the presence on the ground of a multinational
peace-keeping force patrolling borders.
Passed by the DSA National Political Committee,
June 2, 2002.
DSA reaffirms its longstanding support for
the rights of selfdetermination of both the Israeli and Palestinian
peoples, and the right of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples
to live in peace, each within their own state, with secure and
recognized borders. Thus, DSA without equivocation condemns the
suicide bombings and calls on the Palestinian Authority to do
all within its power to stop them. DSA, with equal severity, condemns
the Sharon government's invasion of the Palestinian Authority,
an invasion which is destroying the viability of a civilian Palestinian
Authority and thereby the possibility of a Palestinian state.
Furthermore, DSA condemns the Bush Administration's granting of
a blank check to the Sharon government to carry out this invasion
and to prevent a UN investigation of the Israeli invasion of Jenin.
DSA calls upon the United States government
to cease framing the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the terrorist
suicide bombings solely in terms of the US's global "War
on Terrorism." The causes of the conflict are specific to
the region and not part of a "global terrorist conspiracy"
against the "West."
DSA stands in solidarity with the peace
forces in both the Israeli and Palestinian communities who call
for the removal of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and Gaza
Strip. We also support their consensus on the necessity of siting
the capital of the Palestinian state in the Palestinian, eastern
part of Jerusalem.
DSA also supports the Israeli and Palestinian
peace forces who believe that, while the just and legal claims
of Palestinian refugees must be addressed, it is unlikely that
a final settlement acceptable to both sides will involve the full
return of all Palestinian refugees to preI967 Israel. We also
support largescale economic compensation for the Palestinian refugees
of 1948 and their descendants who may not choose to or be able
to reside within pre1967 Israeli borders.
Finally, propeace forces in both Palestine
and Israel cannot succeed without the aid of the international
community. Therefore, DSA calls upon the United States immediately
to abide by its stated policy of ending all military aid to Israel
used directly for purposes of the occupation. Furthermore, the
United States should cut off all military aid if Israel refuses
to end all settlement activity and withdraw from the occupied
territories as an integral part of the peace process. DSA also
supports the UN, the European Union and the United States pressuring
the Palestinian Authority to do all in its power to stop terrorist
attacks on Israeli civilians.
YDS Statement Adopted by the Coordinating
Committee, May 26, 2002
On April 20, nearly 80,000 people marched
on Washington, DC to protest many things, from IMF/World Bank
policies to US military action in Colombia to an end to the current
war. But one issue stood out above all others: solidarity with
the people of Palestine against the aggression of Israel. As ideological
as well as practical activists, it is vital that we not let the
desire to unite the largest numbers possible obscure the need
to make some vital political demarcations within the emerging
movement for Palestinian sovereignty. As the violence in the Middle
East shows few signs of abating, the Young Democratic Socialists
(YDS) feel the need to organize our politics on this issue, for
it has real implications at home and abroad.
Since September 11, US foreign policy has
almost completely centered on the War on Terrorism. Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon seized on this new focus and immediately
painted the al-Aqsa Intifada as a part of this stated universal
war. Ironically, it was, in fact, Sharon himself who helped provoke
the Intifada by his cynical visit to al-Aqsa, a Mosque in Jerusalem.
After a horrific suicide attack in Netanya on the first night
of Passover this year, Sharon decided to send Israeli troops into
the West Bank and Gaza Strip to arrest all suspected terrorists
as well as to crush the terrorist network. These murky goals stand
unaccomplished, as there is a new suicide bomber it seems every
day. Since that step in the war, untold numbers of Palestinians
have been killed, with the most graphic loss of life occurring
at the Jenin refugee camp, where scenes of charred bodies and
destroyed buildings stand as testament to folly of Sharon's policies.
The military moves of his administration can be considered war
crimes under the Geneva Convention.
Members of Fateh Youth, the fraternal organization
of the YDS in Palestine, are imprisoned or missing. Untold numbers
of families are split up, water supplies are cut off, and the
fragile infrastructure built by Palestinians after fifty years
of living in camps stand destroyed in Ramallah, Nablus, and all
other cities in which Israel intervened.
Though Sharon and Palestinian Authority
Chairman Yassir Arafat recently agreed to end the siege on PA
headquarters, Israel still continues its attacks in Palestinian
territory and balks at allowing the United Nations fact-finding
mission to enter Jenin, breaching international law.
This injustice cannot persist. The YDS supports
the Palestinians' struggle for self-determination and liberty
as is affirmed in the resolution passed by the Coordinating Committee
in March 2001. Resistance to Israeli security forces occupying
Palestine is worthy of the support of all socialists. We call
for negotiations for two states one Israeli and one Palestinian
that share Jerusalem as their political and cultural capital,
with the partition of the two based on pre-1967 boundaries and
achieved through political compromise within the boundaries of
international law as determined by the appropriate UN resolutions.
The YDS calls on the Israeli government
to cease its military operations in Palestinian territory and
to take a proactive step and withdraw from the Occupied Territories.
Peace can only be realized when justice has been achieved.
The United States must stay involved in
the peace process. As the country that gives more military aid
to Israel than any other country in the world, we have a special
responsibility to work for peace and justice. With these principles
in mind, the YDS calls for an end to US aid to Israel until withdrawal
from the Occupied Territories is complete. The YDS also supports
the notion of a boycott of Israeli, not Jewish, goods as another
means of securing withdrawal. It should be clear that this is
not by any means an attempt of pushing the Israeli economy into
a deeper recession, but a method of bringing the Israelis back
to the negotiating table in earnest.
Though we support the principles of the
Intifada against Israeli Apartheid, we must be very clear in our
recognition of Israeli citizens' right to live and work in peace.
Just as we cannot expect peace and justice to be realized while
Israel attacks Palestinian targets and engages in political assassinations,
neither can it be realized while Israelis fear for their lives
each and every day. The YDS condemns anti-civilian violence from
any side, with any objective and at any time. The targeting of
Israeli civilians by Palestinian militants must stop now.
Furthermore, we stand opposed to the anti-Semitism
displayed by some within the Intifada as well as those US activists
who compare the Star of David to the Swastika and, therefore,
Jews to Nazis. Though Ariel Sharon may attempt to falsely claim
victimhood while his country receives more US aid than any other
country in the world and has the best military in the region,
this does not make the reality of anti-Semitism any less apparent.
The attacks on Synagogues and Jews in Western Europe and the United
States need to be called by their true name, base racism.
As long as the movement to free Palestine
caters to those who want to see Israel wiped off the face of the
map, it has no hope. Israel has a right to exist within safe and
stable borders with its own political and social institutions,
just as any other nation does. The movement must recognize this
and work from this basis. Only then can calls for a free Palestinian
state be realized.
Concretely, the YDS calls on its activists
This is not a comprehensive list of links
concerning peace in the Middle East, but it is intended as a place
by Gene Birmingham
Prophesy Deliverance: An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity
by Cornel West Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1982-2002.
While this book is a 20th anniversary edition, it seems worth
reviewing in light of West's opening statement in the new 2002
Preface: "After two decades of detours and digressions as
a part of painful development, this book remains my favorite work."
He uses the term "Afro-American" rather than "African-American"
The major sources of West's thought are what he terms "prophetic
Christianity" and "progressive Marxism", informed
partially by the Pragmatism of John Dewey. His focus is not Christian
and Marxist theory as the basis of revolution, but how it is lived
out, particularly in Afro-American experience. His purpose is
to point out the possibility that Afro-American Christianity could
become the vehicle for social revolution. The major obstacle to
that possibility is its belief in American liberalism as its best
hope, while identifying all Marxism with its worst expressions.
What I find quite helpful in West is his inclusion of cultural
issues, such as music and comic/tragic expressions in art, to
give fuller meaning to the subject. He points out the weakness
of individualism in liberal thought, the hope that each person
can lift oneself to a better life. Afro-American experience, rather,
is a mixture of individuality and democracy, personal development
encouraged and aided by communal experience. The term, "individuality",
describes human nature, while "individualism" describes
a cultural lifestyle.
Of special note is West's description of the rise of white
supremacy dating back to the beginning of the modern age, with
such 17th century thinkers as Descartes and Bacon. Modern thought
turned to ancient Greek images to define physical beauty and the
ideal life. Afro-American features were written off almost before
black people became part of European life. Even the full humanity
of Africans was questioned, as it was in the constituting of the
West describes experiential differences between Latin-American
liberation theologians, who freely dialogue with Marxists, and
black theologians in the United States. The former come from a
dominant cultural group in their countries, while the latter belong
to a degraded cultural group. Both can learn from one another.
Latin-Americans "must be more sensitive to the complexities
and ambiguities of popular cultural and religion;" while
black Americans "should relate more closely their view of
black culture and religion to a sophisticated notion of power
in liberal capitalist America. And both can learn from the most
penetrating Marxist theorist of culture in this century, Antonio
For Gramsci, "Class struggle is not simply the battle
between capitalists and the proletariat, owners and producers
in the work situation. It also takes the form of cultural and
religious conflict over which attitudes, values, and beliefs will
dominate the thought and behavior of peopleA state or society
requires not only military protection but also principled legitimation.
This legitimation takes place in the cultural and religious spheres,
in those arenas where the immediacy of everyday life is felt,
outlooks formed, and self-images adopted." Black American
theologians need to link the cultural and religious aspects of
life to a "progressive Marxism" rather than to individualistic
West identifies six streams of Marxist thought: Bernsteinian,
Leninist, Stalinist, Trotskyist, Councilist, and Gramscian. With
due appreciation for Gramsci, he finds the Councilist stream,
derived from Rosa Luxemburg and others, most progressive, because
it "is committed first and foremost to the norms of individuality
and democracy within the workers (and other progressive) movements
and within the future socialist society.Councilism is to Marxism
what liberation theology is to Christianity: a promotion and practice
of the moral core of the perspective against overwhelming odds
for success." (Italics his) It is the vision of the lived
experience of Afro-American Christianity, linked with Progressive
Marxism, that provides West hope for a socialist revolution.
Prophesy Deliverance is a tightly reasoned combination
of history and theory that provides more than enough food for
thought for all who live in hope that what our country needs is
by Jim Bloch
Political activists spanning seven decades gathered at Kent
State University on May 31-June 2 to mark the 40th anniversary
of the Port Huron Statement, perhaps the most famous manifesto
of the turbulent decade of the Sixties. It was written in mid-June
1962 by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in an idyllic
CIO labor camp on the banks of Lake Huron. The camp, located just
north of Port Huron, now is a day-use area of Lakeport State Park.
"Part of the reason for the meeting was to consider rewriting
or updating the Port Huron Statement," said Alan Haber,
the first president of the SDS. Haber himself is especially interested
in "convergences of the heart" among working and young
people internationally with an eye toward a truly just peace in
the Middle East.
The Port Huron Statement, which runs 36 single-spaced
pages, surveyed the political landscape of the early Sixties.
Its critiques of racism, poverty, imperialism, and the corporate
strangle-hold on democracy remain germane to progressive politics
today. The SDS emphasis on extending the principles of participatory
democracy to the central institutions of American society, and
its focus on values that recognize the individual "as infinitely
precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom,
and love," were perhaps its key contributions to American
A number of conferees volunteered to be part of an "e-committee"
to explore updating the Port Huron Statement. Scott Schuster,
a hotel and restaurant shop steward from Atlantic City who will
coordinate the online effort, suggested doing something visual
as a way to connect with immigrant and younger workers.
Other participants argued that more work would have to be done
to tease out points of political unity and disagreement among
the participants before an update could be written: "If we're
not an organization, how can we write a statement?" wondered
Josh Freeze, an Industrial Workers of the World member from Austin,
Sue Helper, an economics professor at Case Western University,
argued that it was important to develop a radical analysis of
the contemporary world that would be as compelling and easily
digestible as those of right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh.
A number of points of agreement became obvious as the weekend
progressed, including the importance of continuing to build a
horizontal movement unfettered by the ossified bureaucracies of
the mainstream union movement, one that would focus on deepening
the links between young anti-globalization activists who exploded
onto the scene at the WTO conference in Seattle in 1999 and other
activists in the peace, ecology, feminist, and labor movements.
"I'm 61," said Harold Taggart, co-chair of the Chicago
chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, arguing that
he wanted to see some action taken quickly. "We have the
ultimate suicide bomber sitting in the White House with his finger
on the button. So I'm getting a little desperate."
Low level desperation appeared to be a common motivational
factor in drawing people to the conference. "I'm feeling
a lot of fragmentation in my personal and movement life and I
came here to seek like-minded people," said Jeff Leys of
Milwaukee, who is a staffer in a local representing nursing home
workers, and who regularly does resistance work at Project ELF,
a military communications system in northern Wisconsin.
"I like to get out of the house, so I'll come to almost
anything," joked Jim Jordan, who works as a teacher's aide
for autistic children after a plant closing flushed him out of
steel barrel manufacturing in Youngstown.
Humor percolated throughout the weekend. "Old left, new
left, what's left?" asked Mike Stout of Pittsburgh, who helped
organize the conference.
But the bottom lines were serious. "The big issue facing
the world is the environment, especially water," said Bob
Weir, the only Port Huron resident to attend the conference. In
2000, Weir wrote the forward-looking master plan of landuse for
St. Clair County. Last year, he was hired to write the county's
new five-year master plan for the county's Parks and Recreation
Commission. "The environment provides the infrastructure
for life itself."
Weir, 54, who had no experience in the movements of the sixties,
attended the conference mainly out of curiosity. A number of participants
concurred with Weir's emphasis. "A lot of the crisis we're
facing is a crisis of the earth, air and water," said Charlie
McCollister, who teaches labor relations in Pittsburgh.
Shirley Pasholk, a retired steel worker from Cleveland, noted
that the peace and civil rights movements are more distant from
today's young people than World War II was to the children of
the Sixties. "That was 'History,'" said Pasholk, "even
though my dad fought in it."
"The Port Huron Statement is still serving its
purpose by bringing us together here," noted Peter Linebaugh,
a historian at the University of Toledo, whose innovative work
on the commons especially the struggles by laborers in pre-industrial
and early capitalist periods of Europe and America to preserve
the commons against the forces of private property enclosures,
was discussed in a 'global justice' forum on June 1 as a political
concept to link environmental issues to larger questions of economic
justice and grassroots democracy.
Many participants argued that any future movement for reform
would have to be woven together from the twin yarn of nonviolence
and participatory decision-making. "What we get in the end
is a function of how we get there," said Alice Lynd, famous
in movement circles for her passionate knitting. Lynd and her
husband Staughton, both of whom have been at the epicenter of
social change efforts for the past half century, were key organizers
of the conference. Over the weekend, Alice knitted the first glove
of a future pair; perhaps symbolically, it was the left-handed
Intergenerational links were stressed. The Port Huron Statement
opened with this line: "We are people of this generation,
bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking
uncomfortably to the world we inherit." With most of its
founding members now in their sixties, and the bulk of its membership
at the height of the Vietnam War perhaps 100,000 strong now in
their fifties, the radical students of the Vietnam generation
are about to hand over the world they inherited to a new generation.
"SDS, Seniors for a Democratic Society," joked Stout.
One of the goals of the weekend was to forge links with student
activists, and that was one of the most notable accomplishments
of the gathering.
"If there's a way to improve the quality of life of the
people of the world, I want to be part of it," said one Kent
State student who attended the conference.
"I'm here to represent my grand children, to see where
all you intellectuals are going to take this meeting," said
Ed Wells, a retired Teamster who remains active in the Teamster's
National Black Caucus, and one of the few African Americans to
attend the conference. "I'm here to take back our message
to my fellow workers, who I see out there looking for direction
"We are here for our grandchildren and future generations,"
said David Dwyer, on behalf of himself and his wife Anabel. He
teaches anthropology and she is an attorney working on building
legal defenses for anti-war resisters in East Lansing. "It
seems they're hungry for ways to solve problems other than resorting
to mass violence."
Dwyer said that the biggest problem now facing the world was
global militarization, led by the US, where warmongering remains
beyond even the weak reach of electoral politics. Eliminating
the triple evils of militarism, nuclear power and unfair labor
practices is a project akin in scope, significance and gravity
to ending slavery or dismantling Apartheid, Anabel said.
Staughton Lynd suggested the pairing of labor and student activists
to organize future projects. "The idea is to perpetuate the
concept of student and worker solidarity, or young person and
worker solidarity of two hands working together with equal participation,"
Lynd said. "It took us ten years to get to that point in
the Sixties, and then we blew it."
The young activists discussed plans to protest the gathering
President Bush, British P.M. Tony Blair and other leaders of the
so-called G-8 countries in Alberta, Canada June 26-27. In addition
to the meeting site in Bamf, anti-globalists are planning a big
demonstration in Ottawa, Canada's national capital.
The most dramatic proposal for action to emerge from the conference
was a commitment to stage a week-long memorial, teach-in, and
possible work-stoppage in recognition of tragedies of September
11. In an effort to link generations, Kent State student Casey
Green and the head of the Labor Caucus of the Green Party, Gabe
Gabrielsky, of Atlantic City, will work together on the project.
Charlie McCollister, who teaches labor relations in Pittsburgh,
suggested that the event focus on three broad categories of concern:
1) corporate and military globalization, and the resulting inequalities
and geopolitical stalemates that trigger terrorist activities
such as 9/11; 2) terrorism itself, including the aerial wars waged
by the US against countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq; and
3) the lengthening arm of US government repression and the noose
that's tightening around the neck of civil liberties here and
abroad in the wake of 9/11.
"It's distressing to me now that our nation has embarked
on a foreign policy similar to that of the 1960s, and there's
nowhere we can look for help," said Lynd. "Although
I couldn't prove it in a court of law, I am convinced that the
AFL-CIO has laundered money to support the coup in Venezuela.
The general attitude of main stream unions is to support US foreign
policy and to build movement around the cost of drugs for the
elderly, which is an obscene, unconscionable attitude... We learned
during the Vietnam days that people and institutions can change.
Circles like this one have the responsibility to encourage resistance
to what's going on." Lynd echoed Tom Paine: "My county
is the world, and my fellow citizens are the people of the world."
The memorial for 9/11 should be a memorial for victims of terrorism
all over the world, Lynd argued, and the message should be that
the tragic deaths of nearly 3,000 people in the attacks on the
World Trade Center and Pentagon are no more tragic than deaths
"36,000 children died of starvation and malnutrition worldwide
on 9/11 as well," Anabel Dwyer said.
"Let's leave the crater at ground zero in place and ponder
why the US is hated around the world," suggested Harold Taggart,
noting that the US is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons
against civilian populations, the ultimate terrorism. "The
US has overthrown 67 governments since World War II and been responsible
for six million deaths."
"We need to ask if there is another kind of patriotism
that is more universal," Al Haber suggested.
Another action suggested was an anti-Wal-Mart campaign. Mike
Stout, a movement vet and former steel worker from Pittsburgh,
and Monica Weinheimer, a young global justice activist from Ann
Arbor, will coordinate an effort to shine the brightening light
of the left upon Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart offers an ideal target to
elucidate the corporate problems facing working Americans, Stout
argued, with its status as the largest anti-union employer in
the country; with five of the top ten richest Americans coming
from the Walton family; with the Wal-Mart being the largest importer
from Third World sweatshops; and with the firm at the clear, cutting
edge of urban sprawl.
Jim Jordan suggested a number of irreverent, Yippie-like strategies
to draw attention to the firm's business practices. As the first
retailer to top the Fortune 500, Wal-Mart has about a million
employees at any one time. But with its huge employee turnover,
hundreds of thousands of additional Americans punch a Wal-Mart
time clock each year. Like Andy Warhol's notion of every American
having their 15 minutes of fame, Jordan said, every American will
get a chance to work for Wal-Mart. To underline that scary prospect,
he suggested passing out Wal-Mart job applications to all shoppers.
Wal-Mart protesters could circulate petitions to re-name the US
"Wal-Mart," Jordan said, or to place portraits of Walton
family members on US currency.
One of the most moving sessions of the weekend was presented
by Mike Boehm, a Vietnam vet, who has spent the last ten years
working with the Madison (WI) Quakers to establish loan programs
for Vietnamese women in nine villages and to plant peace gardens
in My Lai, scene of one of the most gruesome massacres by US ground
forces during the war, and another in a village north of Hanoi.
Welcomed by the Vietnamese people in wrenching scenes of communion
during the ongoing course of the project, Boehm finally was able
to come to some sort of inner-grip on his horrifying experiences
during the war, more than three decades after he returned home.
One of the messages he spreads now is that the barbarism expressed
by US soldiers in My Lai in 1968 could have been done by anyone
in their position, including him.
"I have no history with any movement," said Boehm,
who learned of the conference via an internet posting in Hanoi
in March, where he has gone for ten of the last 11 years to mark
the anniversary of the massacre. "The words 'horizontal organization'
stood out for me. Even though I have reservations about the left,
I've come to learn from the masters."
"We came to hallowed ground," said Scott Schuster,
of the site where four Kent State students were killed and nine
were wounded during an antiwar march on the campus on May 4, 1970,
in the wake of Nixon's announcement of the US invasion of Cambodia
and his call for 150,000 more draftees.
Eric O'Neil, of Peebles, Ohio, was especially moved by the
memorials. Squat light standards mark off parking spaces where
three of the four students fell. O'Neil knelt on the site where
William Schroeder was killed. "My best friend, Russ Owens,
of Providence, RI, went to high school in Lorain, OH, with Schroeder,"
O'Neil said. "We graduated in 1969, so he was a freshman.
He was apolitical, just a working class kid who went off to Kent."
Generally speaking, the "Port Huron to Kent State"
conference was organized by SDS veterans and other older activists
with roots in the movements of the Sixties, such as Haber, Stout,
the Lynds, Linebaugh, the Dwyer, Tony Budak, Pasholk, and others.
A second, tentative conference is being planned, perhaps in
Ann Arbor for October, 2002. This time around, the young global
justice activists will organize it, led by Jaedra Hennessey, a
student at Kent, and Amber Simco, a young activist at U of M.
"The thing that has been the most inspiring to me during
this weekend is having the young antiglobalist people here with
the 'old' new left," said Charlie McCollister. "This
is a good start. I like the idea of the two-headed committees,
and I like the idea of young people organizing the next conference
according to their principles. The crisis is deepening in this
country and the ranks of young people (interested in social change)
Editor's Note: The Port Huron Statement is widely
available on the web. For a straight up text version, try http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/huron.html.
by Paul Fitzgerald
In the 2001 - 2002 school year, the Young Democratic Socialist
chapter at University of Illinois at Chicago was re-organized,
developed and educated in how things work on campus and in the
The previous Spring semester had focused on the formation of
a slate in Student Government elections called Progress which
put several founding members in the Undergraduate assembly. This
year we started out by beginning to use the assembly as a bully
pulpit, meeting as a chapter with representatives from the SEIU
local who were in the middle of a pay equity struggle with the
University and discussing upcoming anti-globalization protests
in Washington, DC.
After September 11th, we found ourselves with a very different
agenda; we pushed for an immediate memorial service on campus
(which the administration feared would be a danger) on the grounds
that the sooner everyone got together and talked, the less risk
UIC's many Muslim students would face from frustrated racists.
The administration allowed one service within a day after the
decision and their own the Monday following; this was one of our
final clear cut victories of the year, unfortunately. In the following
weeks, members found themselves taking part in "Solidarity
Circles" in front of Mosques, attending early anti-war meetings,
trying to organize anti-racist poster initiatives and putting
together and working with the "UIC No War" organization
As we began to put ourselves back together for the second semester,
we received the news that the U of I Board of Trustees was raising
tuition for all students by 10%. In the previous year, the same
board had decided to increase tuition by $1000 for all incoming
students. Put together, the increase was about 44% for all new
and prospective UIC students. We began to rally around this and
then "Diversity for Demand" showed up. DID was an extremely
new organization who were committed to push UIC to hire and particularly
grant tenure to more Black and Latino professors (Black profs
account for about 2% of those with tenure). Our demands and goals
went hand and hand with theirs (and it didn't hurt that one of
their founding members, Sayward Wyatt, was involved with our organization
as well) and we staged several protests with them, some of which
gained quite a bit of media. Unfortunately, tuition went up anyways,
UIC hasn't fixed its race problem and it's still not living up
to the "Urban Mission" it advertises and we'd all like
On the bright side, however, the "Progress" slate
for student government became stronger this year with members
of every organization from YDS, DID and Young Communist League
to Muslim Students Association, Coalition for Asian American studies
and Student Outreach Services running for assembly. 16 of our
19 candidates won as well as our vice-president (current YDS VP
Erica Adams) and twenty students for student senate (an organization
only democratized this year with real decision making power).
This August 15-18, UIC-YDS is hosting the YDS summer conference,
and for the next year we hope to add some more educational programs
such as a Liberation Theology reading group of some sort and a
weekly film series.
by Mark Weinberg
On May 23rd, Mario Kessler, member of the Historical Commission
of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) spoke to a small group
at the New World Resource Center, co-sponsored by Chicago DSA,
the Chicago Socialist Party and Chicago Solidarity. A professor
at Potsdam University, he is the author of 12 books, all in German.
He is currently working on a biography of the late German historian
Arthur Rosenberg who was an émigré to the U.S.
He may write only in German but Kessler's English speech is
highly fluent and idiomatic, if accented. He prefaced his remarks
by reiterating the European Left's ambivalent view of the U.S.:
as haven for refugees like Rosenberg but also the home of low
culture and the heart of international Capitalism. He spoke of
the declining access of European Left intellectuals to their mass
media since the end of the Cold War.
Although the effects of September 11th don't appear to be much
clearer from his perspective than ours, he pinpointed four major
areas of concern:
1. "Terrorists" have clearly been labeled as the
new enemy by the power elite.
2. The consequences of the war on terrorism are unknown but
frightening such as the possibility of nuclear war being proposed
on a "limited" scale. The Middle East is an area of
special concern; the European Left's support of the Zionist state
after the holocaust was strong; since 1967 religious extremists
have driven Israel to an expansionism and human rights violations.
3. The theoretical and practical Left reaction must be on analyzing
and treating the causes of terrorism as there is no other defense
against suicide bombers.
4. We need to support democratic opposition in the third world.
In the Islamic world, the Democratic Left has largely been forced
The PDS has about 85,000 members and can get about five percent
of the vote in German national elections. In Berlin it is stronger
and governs in coalition. During the question and answer that
followed his remarks Kessler was repeatedly criticized by two
Spartacist League members who accused the PDS of selling out the
working class. Kessler took this in stride, pointing out the failure
of Marxist leadership that led to reunification.
Chicago DSA thanks Bill Pelz of the Chicago Socialist Party
for again inviting his fellow historian Mario Kessler to talk
compiled by Bob Roman
Jim Hightower's Rolling Thunder "chautauqua" came
to Union Park on Chicago's near west side on June 15. It was an
absolutely lovely day for a political fair, and several thousand
people attended although the number of people at any one time
probably did not exceed a thousand. The event, after all, lasted
more than twelve hours. Despite some fairly big name politicians
and political entertainers, the main stage was generally a rather
anemic affair. But the workshops, by all accounts, were very good.
And the midway, with games, food booths and about a hundred political
exhibitors, was most excellent. The Chicago DSA table was in a
great location under a shady tree and we distributed nearly all
the literature we brought along.
The organizers of the event are busy planning to follow up
on its success. There is some sentiment toward establishing an
organization that will bring together the diverse elements of
the left. If they seriously plan on chasing this holy grail, experience
suggests that not much will come of it. On the other hand, if
they look for ways of making this an annual event with maybe even
some interim events during the rest of the year, they'll have
found a way bring much of the progressive community together in
a useful way.
Additional Rolling Thunder chautauquas are being planned for
Tucson, Seattle, Atlanta and St. Paul. For more information, go
The Young Democratic Socialists will hold their annual national
convention and semi-annual national conference at the University
of Illinois in Chicago, Thursday August 15 through Sunday August
18. Thursday through Friday morning will be the YDS Summer Institute.
The Summer Institute is an outreach and educational event for
both YDS members, students, other youth and even geezers.
The YDS National Convention will begin Friday afternoon. It
will focus on specific campaigns, skills building and organizational
issues. The keynote will be a panel discussion of the War on Terrorism.
The panel will feature Svend Robinson, a New
Democratic Party Member of Parliament from Canada. The New
Democratic Party is the Socialist International affiliate in Canada.
At press time, details of the Institute and Convention were
still being worked out. Registration will cost $30 to $80 (sliding
scale). For more information, go to http://www.ydsusa.org/
or call 212.727.8610.
Reeling 2002, the 21st Chicago Lesbian and Gay International
Film Festival, will be held in Chicago from July 25 through August
8. Chicago DSA is proud to be among the co-presenters of Hope
Along the Wind: the Story of Harry Hays. Directed by Eric
Slade, this 57 minute video is a fascinating history of a remarkable
man. Harry Hay, a Marxist, was the founder of the Mattachine Society,
one of the first organized gay rights movements in America. This
is, indeed, his story, yet because of his radical activism and
involvement in gay politics for over 50 years, his story is also
that of the gay rights movement in the US. An active member of
the Communist Party he was called before the House UnAmerican
Activities Committee during the 50s. Something of a founding father
of direct action, Hay became disillusioned with many of the gay
movements he was once at the centre of; for him, socialism and
gay sexuality went hand in hand (even though he was at one time
married with children). From the Mattachine to the Gay Liberation
Front, Hay eventually found his spiritual, political and sexual
identity with the Radical Faeries.
Hope Along the Wind will be shown Sunday, August 4,
at 1 PM in the Landmark's Century Centre, 2828 N. Clark St. in
Chicago. Tickets to this show are $6.00, but prices for other
shows depend upon the time and venue. Discount cards and passes
are available. For more information, call the Festival Hotline
at 312.458.9117 or go to http://www.chicagofilmmakers.org/.
Citizen Action/Illinois, in conjunction with the Illinois
Campaign for Political Reform and Common Cause, is beginning
a campaign to have Cook County adopt an ordinance regulating the
privatization of governmental services. If government is considering
contracting out public services, it is critical that standards
should be established to ensure that taxpayer money is used wisely.
The County Public Accountability Campaign seeks to "shine
the light" on the process to protect against hidden cost
overruns, busted budgets, inferior services, poverty wages, and
just "plain old graft".
The intent of the proposed ordinance is very similar to the
Privatization Accountability Ordinance introduced into the Chicago
City Council in November of 1994 by 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore
New Ground January - February, 1995, page 1), but it is a
very different piece of legislation. This ordinance is based on
a model law that has been passed in a number of cities and the
State of Massachusetts. In Illinois, the villages of Brookfield
and Hillside, and the Bellwood and Proviso School Districts have
adopted ordinances or established policies incorporating accountability
standards. Alderman Joe Moore has endorsed the proposed county
While there was some discussion of whether it is wiser to simply
oppose privatization rather than to regulate it, the Chicago DSA
Executive Committee voted at the July meeting to endorse the proposed
ordinance and join the coalition supporting it. For more information,
contact Citizen Action's campaign organizer, Ms. Simul Jhaveri
at 312.427.2114 or go to http://www.citizenaction-il.org/.
The Center for New Community
has uncovered a violent neo-Nazi organization attempting to infiltrate
the anti-globalization movement. The "Anti-Globalism Action
Network (AGAN) emerged to protest the G8 meeting in Canada last
June but is merely a façade of the National Alliance. AGAN's
web site, http://www.g8activist.com, is even registered to the
Canadian branch of the National Alliance.
The National Alliance's headquarters is in Hillsboro, West
Virginia, and is said to be one of the larger and more dangerous
neo-Nazi organizations in North America. Recently, the National
Alliance has adopted numerous tactics aimed at both recruiting
from and disrupting progressive activists, including rogue postings
to local indymedia.com sites.
For more information, contact the Center for New Community
at 708.848.0319 or go to http://www.newcomm.org/bdi/Backgrounders/g8activist/index.htm.
The Center for New Community is announcing the September release
of the Turn It Down CD-ROM. The CD is a multimedia resource that
services as a guide to responding to white power music. It includes
the full text of Soundtracks to the White Revolution: White Supremacist
Assaults on Youth Music Subcultures, the Center's report on white
power music published in the winter of 1999, a list of white power
symbols, a list of white power bands, and the latest report form
the campaign: the Turn It Down Resource Kit. The Resource Kit
is a manual for parents, teachers, record industry personnel and
youth who are responding to white power music. Until August 30,
individual copies of the CD will be available at $12. Upon its
release, the price will be $19.99. For more information, call
708.848.0319; write to Center for New Community, PO Box 346066,
Chicago, IL 60634; or go to http://www.turnitdown.org.
On Sunday, June 2, Greater Oak Park DSA organized and cosponsored
a meeting featuring Lenore Palladino, recently returned from Colombia
as a member of a Witness for Peace delegation. The meeting was
held at the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Unity Temple in Oak Park.
Cosponsors included Greens of Oak Park, Oak Park Committee for
Truth and Justice, OPRF Students for Peace and Justice, Peace
and Justice Committee of Ascension Parish, Pilgrim Congregational
Church Mission and Social Awareness Committee, Shem Center for
Interfaith Spirituality, Unity Temple Social Mission, and Witness
for Peace Midwest. About two dozen people attended.
Ms. Palladino spoke on the situation there and the implications
of expanded U.S. involvement in the civil war. A video tape was
also shown about a bombing of a Colombian village. This particular
1998 atrocity was the subject of a Human Rights Tribunal held
here in Chicago in the Fall of 2000 by the Chicago Campaign for
Justice in Colombia (See New
Ground 72, "Chicago Campaign for Justice in Colombia").
The Campaign was endorsed by Chicago DSA and supported with publicity
and a $150 contribution. The tribunal found that the bombing had
been done by the Colombian Airforce. Ms. Palladino did not speak
long, but her presentation was followed by an extensive question
and answer session.
The 17th Annual Mother Jones Dinner will be held on Saturday,
October 12, at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Not
all the details are set, but "the golden voice of the southwest",
Utah Philips, will return for an engaging and entertaining evening.
The usual program is a social hour at 5:30 PM, dinner at 6:30
followed by the featured speaker and entertainment. For more information,
write the Mother Jones Foundation at PO Box 20412, Springfield,
IL 62708 or watch for the next
issue of New Ground.
For many years now the New World Resource Center has done a
monthly mailing of various and sundry lefty flyers advertising
forums, protests and fundraisers. The mailings were often social
events as each participating organization was asked to contribute
2 volunteers, enough flyers for the mailing and money to cover
Automation has been slowly eroding volunteer opportunities in
politics, and now the New World Resource Center is joining the
trend. The monthly mailings continue with a total circulation
expanded from 2,500 to 4,000 but the Center is no longer accepting
flyers. Rather, it is selling ads. For a fee schedule, sizes,
technical requirements and deadlines, email email@example.com.