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New Ground 83

July - August, 2002

Contents

  • No More Business As Usual by Bob Roman
  • Secret Wars Continued: Colombia's Ceaseless Violence by Lenore Palladino
  • I Am Jewish by Jeff Epton
  • The Middle East and the Socialist International
  • DSA Statement on the Palestinian Israeli Conflict
  • Searching for Justice in Palestine and Israel
  • Some Middle East Peace Links
  • Prophesy Deliverance! by Gene Birmingham
  • Port Huron Revisited by Jim Bloch
  • A Year in the Life of UIC YDS by Paul Fitzgerald
  • A View from East Berlin After September 11th: Which Way for the Left? by Mark Weinberg
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
    Rolling Thunder
    YDS Convention & Summer Institute
    Reeling 2002
    Privatization in Cook County
    AGAN Neo-Nazis
    Turn It Down
    Plan Colombia, Plan sorrow
    Save the Date for Mother Jones
    New World Resource Center

  • No More Business As Usual

    by Bob Roman

    "Enron This"

    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. The AFL-CIO 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 disclosed.

    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 Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH 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 bargaining contracts.

    All Politics Are Local

    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.

    All Questions Are Global

    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.

    ULLICO This

    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 scandal.

    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 double standard."

    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 own throats.

    Innovation and Retreat

    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 self-serving ways.

    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.

    Is Anyone Listening?

    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.

    Stumbling Down the Bottom Line

    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.


    Secret Wars Continued: Colombia's Ceaseless Violence

    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.

    Dogs Eating Dogs

    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 continues.

    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.

    The Tragedy of Integrity

    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 Colombia.

    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

    I am Jewish because all of my fathers and mothers before me were Jewish.

    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 disbelief.

    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 Christian god.

    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 means.

    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 Middle East and the Socialist International

    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 at http://www.socialistinternational.org.

    Resolution on the Middle East

    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 issue.

    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 population.

    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 status negotiations.

    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 negotiations.

    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.


    DSA Statement on the Palestinian Israeli Conflict

    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.


    Searching for Justice in Palestine and Israel

    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 to:

  • Support work done locally for justice in Israel and Palestine. This means organizing forums about the issue, forming coalitions with Just Peace groups, and advancing the cause of the Palestinian struggle.
  • Support the work of those on the Israeli Left who labor to change their government's posture. The Refuseniks, Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories, are a wonderful example.
  • Tell our own policy makers in the United States to force the Bush administration to stay involved in the peace process. We cannot afford isolationism at this point.
  • Speak out against anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric. The need for an anti-racist politics is paramount to any sustainable, broad movement.

  • Some Middle East Peace Links

    This is not a comprehensive list of links concerning peace in the Middle East, but it is intended as a place to start.

  • Amnesty International: a good source of information about human rights violations in and by both Israel and Palastine, http://www.amnesty.org
  • American Friends Service Committee Midwest: http://www.grassrootsvoices.org
  • Americans for Peace Now: Peace Now is a well established Israeli peace organization, http://www.peacenow.org
  • Ariga Peace Links: a good place to start for sites in the Middle East, http://www.ariga.com/peace.htm
  • Fatah: http://www.fatehfrdep.com/englishnew/english2.htm
  • Histadrut: Israel's labor movement, http://www.laborisrael.org
  • Labor Zionist Alliance: the center-left of the Zionist movement, http://www.jewishfrontier.org
  • Meretz: http://www.meretz.org.il/English/homepage.htm also see http://www.meretzusa.org
  • Not In My Name: http://www.nimn.org

  • Prophesy Deliverance!

    by Gene Birmingham

    Prophesy Deliverance: An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity by Cornel West Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1982-2002. $19.95

    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" throughout.

    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 United States.

    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 Gramsci."

    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 liberal capitalism.

    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 also possible.


    Port Huron Revisited

    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 activist history.

    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, TX.

    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 one.

    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 and leadership."

    "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 anywhere.

    "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.

    My Lai peace garden.

    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."

    May 4 Memorial.

    "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."

    Continuing the process.

    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) will swell."

     

    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.


    A Year in the Life of UIC YDS

    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 city.

    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

    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 on campus.

    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 to see.

    The Left Takes Power

    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.


    A View from East Berlin After September 11th: Which Way for the Left?

    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 into exile.

    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 with us.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    Rolling Thunder

    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 to http://www.rollingthundertour.org/.

    YDS Convention & Summer Institute

    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

    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/.

    Privatization in Cook County

    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 ("Accountably Private", 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 ordinance.

    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/.

    AGAN NeoNazis

    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.

     

    Turn It Down

    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.

     

    Plan Colombia, Plan Sorrow

    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.

     

    Save the Date for Mother Jones

    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.

     

    New World Resource Center

    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 the costs.
    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 nwrc_2600@yahoo.com.


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