Friday, November 21, 2014

Nikki Giovanni on Bill Cosby


by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Twenty or so years ago I was at a BBQ with some co-workers.  It was mostly black women and we were celebrating a huge success we'd had in organizing their department.  There are only two sources of power in the workplace, the bosses, or the organized workers. If the workers are not organized, divided along racial, gender or any other similar lines, the power of the boss increases over us, it leads us down the "every person for themselves" road as we all tend to look to the power as individuals; the boss, or often times, the incompetent bully supervisor, is in the driver's seat. "Divide and Conquer".  We all know where that leads; no one is liberated.

About that time Cosby had given one of his usual rants attacking the black working class. I can't remember all the details but I know he was attacking black women for not disciplining their kids, not keeping them in line. I recall him slamming them for the way they spoke to their children and not spending enough time with them etc. I made my feelings clear that day and I could see that some of the folks were reluctant to agree.  As Giovanni says there was a strong sense that this black man should not be criticized, especially by a white man, even one who they respected and I believe I had respect among my friends. People were a bit cautious.

I can't stand Bill Cosby.  There is always some truth in criticism but one always has to look at the source of it.  I was a single parent but both my wife and I had decent jobs, earned a good income as working class people.  We had joint responsibility for our child and both of us worked. But  I had to fight off sticking my kid in front of the TV to get myself a breather at the end of the day, or simply to make life easier. Working overtime was always a problem.  I know I dragged him to too many union meetings.

I lived in East Oakland. I knew many black families and single mothers who were raising their kids, doing the best they could as Nikki Giovanni says in the video.  I had friends who worked long hours looking after other people's kids and others who did home help work or other fairly low paid disrespected work. In some families, people were luckier where both parents worked, some were teachers or worked in the public sector like me. But East Oakland is overwhelmingly working class people of color and many parts of it is extremely impoverished. 

I savaged Cosby.  What does he know about raising children in these conditions?  He has maids, he's a billionaire no doubt. How dare he talk down and lecture to people who under the worst conditions raise their children to respect others, respect their elders and do they best they can under conditions not of their own making.  We all make mistakes.  When you work two jobs and are a single parent, or even if you're both working it might be that you talk to your kids too abruptly at times, or stick 'em in front of the TV using it as a baby sitter more often than you should.  But criticism of working class and poor people about inappropriate behavior, dress code, language and other personal choices, when it comes from movie stars, millionaires and others like Cosby should be seen for what it is, the whining of the privileged in society. 

I have never seen Nikki Giovanni's commentary above but I think it's right on. And Finally the victims of what appears to be a serial rapist are speaking out. One thing we know for certain when it comes to these types of assaults on women by men with money and power---he's not the only one.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

WalMart Sit Down's and Lessons from Auto and Labor History

 
by Mike Benca
San Leandro Worker's Club
Member OE Local 3 Highway Maintenance Worker

Nearly 80 years ago autoworkers at a General Motors auto plant in Flint Michigan stopped working and sat down. Unlike common strikes of the day they did not picket outside plant gates, but instead occupied their work-stations inside the company owned plant for over a month. They were safer inside from the batons of the police on the picket lines.  During the occupation, plant fire hoses were turned on the local police forces when they attempted to evict the rebellious workers.  The workers held out for 44 days even when threatened with the possibility of state militia being used against them.

This courageous stand by the Flint auto workers marked a turning point in the UAW in that in the following years tens of thousands of auto workers swelled the ranks of that union and the entire domestic auto industry was unionized.  Workers went on to win many gains in their standard of living in the following years after the sit down strike.

Over the last two years or so many fast food and retail workers in the United States have begun to organize with the backing of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and other labor affiliated groups.  Sporadically planned but very coordinated actions have occurred over the last two years and culminated recently with what has been called the first ever sit-down strike in company history at a Southern California Walmart.  OUR Walmart, the group supporting the workers has vowed to protest at hundreds of stores on the day after the US holiday Thanksgiving known as Black Friday.

While the brave workers who have spoken out for themselves and their coworkers and especially the ones who sat down and occupied stores last week should be commended it's important to ask just how effective these strategies are.  If one goes to Blackfriday.org they will be directed to a list of rules governing how protesters should behave on the planned day of action on Black Friday next week. Supporters are asked to not be too loud so that workers cannot communicate with customers and that protesters should not block aisles or prevent shoppers from getting to cash registers. So again we will be fenced in and hundreds of feet away from the store's entrance and asked to not block traffic and obstruct shoppers from walking in through the front doors.  A legal statement is easily visible on the website stating that the UFCW and OUR WalMart is not attempting to unionize the workers at this time.  

Well the writers of this blog ask what are the goals then of this movement?  I spoke recently by phone with a few organizers from OUR Walmart and was told that yes they are not totally pleased with the UFCW's steering of this effort, but none the less workers have seen some limited improvements in their working conditions since this latest movement began.  I was not convinced and explained that I would be supporting these workers on Black Friday, but was not committing to following the "rules" that the organizers are asking supporters to follow.  If we don't stop or at least deter shoppers from carrying out their purchases then what is the point of this entire movement?  

The owners of Walmart with their combined worth of over160 billion dollars will not really take this movement seriously until we begin drastically impacting service at their stores around the country.  The sit down strike in southern California last week was motivational, but also unfortunate in that customers and fellow workers are continuously seen in the footage walking right past the squatting strikers.

The union backed organizers will cite court rulings when defending their strategies and their refusal to block shoppers from entering stores or carrying out their purchases, but sometimes we have to break the laws.  In the thirties and throughout our history workers faced the most brutal opposition from the employers, rules were broken and laws violated through mass direct action and strikes. This is how the unions were built and the methods we have to return to today to save what we have and organize the unorganized. This is what the union leadership refuses to do, mobilize the potential power of the millions of members in organized labor along with the unorganized.  To do that, they have to fight for something substantial other than fewer concessions than the boss is asking for.

If enough of us stand up and carry out mass direct action, the forces attempting to hold us back will be put on the defensive and their court rulings and their power over these exploited workers will be broken.

THE TRUTH FROM PALESTINE


In Israel, only Jewish blood shocks anyone

Killings of Palestinians by soldiers and policemen will never shock Israel. The propaganda machine will whitewash everything, and the media will be its mouthpiece.

By  | Nov. 20, 2014 | 5:42 AM
IDF soldiers in the West Bank village of Awarta, June 26, 2014.
 IDF soldiers in the West Bank village of Awarta, June 26, 2014. Photo by AFP

There was a massacre in Jerusalem on Tuesday in which five Israelis were killed. There was a war in Gaza over the summer in which 2,200 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. A massacre shocks us; a war, less so. Massacres have culprits; wars don’t. Murder by ax is more appalling than murder by rifle, and far more horrendous than bombing helpless people trying to take shelter.
Terror is always Palestinian, even when hundreds of Palestinian civilians are killed. The name and face of Daniel Tragerman, the Israeli boy killed by mortar fire during Operation Protective Edge, were known throughout the world; even U.S. President Barack Obama knew his name. Can anyone name one child from Gaza among the hundreds killed?

A few hours after the attack in Jerusalem, journalist Emily Amrousi said at a conference in Eilat that the life of a single Jewish child was more important to her than the lives of thousands of Palestinian children. The audience’s response was clearly favorable; I think there was even some applause.
Afterward Amrousi tried to explain that she was referring to the way the Israeli media should cover events, which is only slightly less serious. This was during a discussion on the ridiculous question: “Is the Israeli media leftist?” Almost no one protested Amrousi’s remarks and the session continued as if nothing had happened. Amrousi’s words reflect Israel’s mood in 2014: Only Jewish blood elicits shock.

Israeli deaths touch Israeli hearts more than the deaths of others. That’s natural human solidarity. The bloody images from Jerusalem stunned every Israeli, probably every person.
But this is a society that sanctifies its dead to the point of death-worship, that wears thin the stories of the victims’ lives and deaths, whether it be in a synagogue attack or a Nepal avalanche. It’s a society preoccupied with endless commemorations in the land of monuments, services and anniversary ceremonies; a society that demands shock and condemnation after every attack, when it blames the entire world.

Precisely from such a society is one permitted to demand some attention to the Palestinian blood that is also spilled in vain; some understanding of the other side’s pain, or even a measure of empathy, which in Israel is considered treason.

But this doesn’t happen. Aside from exceptional murders and hate crimes by individuals, there is total apathy — and the obtuseness is frightening. Killings (we dare not say murders) by soldiers and policemen will never shock Israel. The propaganda machine will whitewash everything, and the media will be its mouthpiece. No one will demand condemnations. No one will express shock. Few will even consider that the pain is the same pain, that murder is murder.

How many Israelis are willing to give a thought to the parents of Yousef Shawamreh, the boy who went out to pick wild greens and was killed by an army sniper? Why is it exaggerating to be upset by, or at least give some attention to, the killing of Khalil Anati, a 10-year-old boy from the Al-Fawar refugee camp?

Why can’t we identify with the pain of bereaved father Abd al-Wahab Hammad, whose son was killed in Silwad, or with the Al-Qatari family from the Al-Amari refugee camp, two members of which were killed by soldiers within a month? Why do we reserve our horror for the synagogue and not consider these killings disturbing?

Yes, there is the test of intent. The typical Israeli argument is that soldiers, unlike terrorists, do not intend to kill. If so, then what exactly is the intent of the sniper who fires live bullets at the head or chest of a demonstrator a distance away who poses no threat? Or when he shoots a child in the back as he’s running for his life? Didn’t he intend to kill him?

The attack in Jerusalem was a horrendous crime; nothing can justify it. But the blood that flowed there is not the only blood being spilled here murderously. The degree to which it is forbidden to say that is incredible.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Synagogue Attack and the Custerization of Palestinian Resistance


A Palestinian man reacts as he sits atop rubble after his home was demolished in Jabel Mukaber, a village in the suburbs of East Jerusalem, in this February 5, 2014 file picture (Reuters) 
by Wasif al Hourani

The world’s media, particularly the US media, is giving maximum coverage to the attack on the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue that killed five people, four of them Jewish religious leaders. The general slant of the coverage talks of the horror and violence of the attack and that it should be condemned. The coverage devoted to this violence in the US media in particular, is fare greater than violence directed toward Palestinians or the conditions they have to endure under Israeli occupation and in the face of Zionist racist policies.   One might refer to this reporting as the Custerization of the conflict in Palestine. We shouldn’t be surprised.  The US media described the US mercenaries that were killed in Fallujah as “contractors.”

Here is another way of looking at it.

In response to the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land and daily violence directed at the Palestinian people, especially young children, two courageous Palestinian freedom fighters fought back despite limited means and attacked the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem on Tuesday. These heroic fighters knew that their resistance would mean their certain death.

Four colonial settlers, three Americans and one British were killed along with a member of the police force that protects them.  The four religious leaders are known to have extreme right wing and sexist views.  The western media is appalled.  “I felt like I was in a butchers shop.”, one of the colonists, a medic who was praying nearby told the media. Had he visited Gaza during the Israeli slaughter there it would have felt more like a slaughterhouse.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry was alarmed: “To have this kind of act which is a pure result of incitement…… is unacceptable.”, he said.  It was not “unacceptable” for Mr. Kerry to send the Israelis more weapons and bullets because they ran short of them after killing so many Palestinian women and children in Gaza last year.

Netanyahu has called for the demolition of the freedom fighter’s homes, a common practice aimed at deterring the Palestinian people from resisting the occupation of their land or retaliating against colonist/settler violence. Demolitions are carried out without any evidence of the families of resistance fighters being involved.

The Israeli’s have demolished thousands of Palestinian homes displacing huge sections of the population. Israel demolished the homes of Bedouins in the Naqab (Negev) region in September.  It was standing against this barbaric practice that cost the American activist, Rachel Corrie her life. Caterpillar, the US heavy machinery manufacturer sells the IDF the bulldozers knowing full well they are used to displace the Palestinian population.

The Bedouin live in what the Zionists call “unrecognized villages” so they are denied infrastructure assistance as well as basics like electricity and water.  There are an estimated 80,000 Palestinian Bedouin in this area. Earlier this year, “The International Red Cross announced…….it would stop delivering tents to Palestinians made homeless by demolitions in the Jordan border region of the occupied West Bank, citing Israeli obstruction and confiscation of aid.” (Reuters.) The Zionist regime justifies its ethnic cleansing of the area by citing a historical claim to biblical lands. An American Zionist born in Brooklyn has more rights there than a Palestinian Bedouin.

But the assault on Gaza and other Israeli military activity in occupied lands is the greatest destroyer of homes and displacer of people.  At least 60,000 people lost their homes, due to the war on Gaza at a cost of about $4 billion.  The Zionist regime is an expensive ally for the world’s aid donors. 

No decent human being under normal circumstances gloats at the violence at the attack at the synagogue in Jerusalem on Tuesday but we do not live under normal circumstances, we are living under a brutal occupation.

In the occupied territories, Palestinians live under constant fear for their lives, especially the lives of the children.  All Palestinian males are suspect and routinely arrested and tortured. Threats against the family of those arrested are the norm, the choice is to become an agent or a “snitch” for the occupiers or your family will suffer. The Nazi’s used similar tactics.

The US media in particular is very biased in reporting on the conflict in Palestine and the history of it.  In wartime, one’s fighters are welcomed as heroes for killing the enemy they are not accused of murder or terrorism unless it is suitable one’s enemies to do so.

Menachim Begin and other prominent leaders of Israel were all “terrorists” from the British standpoint. So were the American revolutionists. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.

But in this era of mass communication, we have an obligation to look beyond the mainstream media and find out the truth. We owe it not only to the victims, we owe it to ourselves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Internal lives of Revolutionary Organizations

The question has been raised about the internal lives of revolutionary organizations. Specifically by a Comrade in relation to the Socialist Alternative group which is part of the Committee for a Workers International. I was a full time organizer for the CWI for twenty years. I was on its international leading bodies for most of that time. In the mid 1990's I was expelled, fired from my organizing job, slandered and lied about and written out of the history of that organization. I was the first full timer of that organization in North American but any search for my name and role in that organization in North America will be in vain. 

I am sharing below some some conclusions I have drawn about my work in the CWI, its US section is now the SA. I hope they will be helpful. I would also like to suggest that those who are interested in this issue read the piece by former CWI full timer, Stephen Morgan, Why I Was Sacked from the CWI. The reader can also “Like” the blog’s FB page at: http://www.facebook.com/FactsForWorkingPeople.

Tony Benn speaking at CWI Conference, mid 1980's
Democratic Centralism: 
Discredited as a term and in practice. The internal life, discussions and present needs of the Socialist Alternative/CWI. 

by John Throne

The debate and split in the CWI in the 1990's brought the method of internal organizing known as Democratic Centralism to the forefront. This was not the first time the method of internal life and organizing of the CWI had been tested. Partly because of my mistake and the mistake of the entire leadership and organization as a whole in not having this struggle debated openly among the entire membership at that time, this wrong method was still in existence and once again it was found wanting. This method, the method known as Democratic Centralism, in and of itself was and is incorrect, but things were made much worse because of the dishonest maneuvers and opportunist ambitions of the majority of leadership of the CWI which was organized in the corrupt secretive clique around Peter Taaffe and Lynn Walsh.      

The combined membership of the CWI before the split in the 1990's had been around 14,000,members. After the split and the departure of the International Marxist Tendency, as the Ted Grant/ Alan Woods group named itself, the total membership of both groups was reduced to the hundreds. The split was a catastrophe for all concerned. 

The reason for the original International splitting into two was first and foremost because it had developed a wrong view of the world. We were clinging on to 5 to 10 years to the revolution when such a prospect was long gone. Not only that, but it had been replaced with a new period of severe reaction with capitalism being re-established in the Stalinist world. This brought hundreds of millions of workers once again into the capitalist world market, providing both increased buying power and cheap labor. It also made available to capitalism huge amounts of raw materials, which had previously been nationalized in the Stalinist world. Capitalism got a new lease on life. As the Wall Street Journal boasted in an editorial at the time: "We Won."

And it was not only that the CWI was wrong on its worldview but it was also that it was so unconditional in general in how it saw things. It had been generally correct in its world view for the three to four decades after World War 2, it had become used to this and so it continued in this way. Reading the works of Trotsky and Lenin show how much more conditional they were in their worldview and perspectives. 

This period of reaction was of a historic scale. It would have caused problems for the original CWI no matter what. However what turned things into a catastrophe and caused the split and the collapse in membership of the original CWI were that world events and the International’s wrong analysis of world events came together with the incorrect internal life of the CWI. 

The internal life of revolutionary organizations from the time of the Bolsheviks was described as democratic centralism. This supposedly operated with full discussion, then after such a discussion a decision would be made and then the organization would act on the majority decision but with minority opinions having the right to continue to have their views heard. This sounded good, but life and the tasks of revolution were much more complicated than could be handled by such an oversimplified formula. 

And it was not only that, there can exist all the wonderful theories and guidelines that can be dreamt up, but if they are not implemented correctly then they will fail to achieve their ends. It is like being taught to be a bricklayer or a carpenter or a nurse. This knowledge can be taught. But this does not mean the person who is taught can necessarily implement this knowledge and do a good job. 

Then there is also the question of morale and confidence. Things can change. Other events in the life of a person or an organization can lead to a collapse or decline in morale and confidence. This can lead to a person who could have been able to implement their craft and skill for years losing their ability to do so at another stage.

Before the split, when the ideas of the CWI corresponded to the reality of the world, there was little stress on the internal workings of the International. However this did not mean the internal life was healthy. It was too top down, it had a leadership, which saw itself as teachers of the membership, and it did not encourage the full involvement of the entire membership in clarifying the ideas. However as long as the ideas were generally correct this did not express itself as a major problem. But by the 1980's and 1990's things had changed. The analysis was no longer generally correct. It no longer corresponded to reality. So in this new situation the false internal life erupted like a volcano and the crisis and split was on. 

As events unfolded I came to conclude that the method of democratic centralism as practiced was extremely damaging to the workers’ movement. It had been used to build the internal life of all sorts of organizations such as the murderous reactionary Stalinist organizations as well as the sectarian ultra left revolutionary grouplets. It was a method that led to organizations with degenerate undemocratic internal lives, ones such as the CWI had become. 

So I discarded this method and this term. But doing so did not solve the problem. The task of history remained to build a mass revolutionary organization internationally. That is, to organize tens and hundreds of millions of working class people and fuse them together into a collective conscious democratic fighting force, which could end capitalism and build a new democratic socialist world. This demanded a structure and a way of working and a culture. It could not be done on an individual basis. 

My own evolution to becoming a revolutionary involved taking the step from acting as an individual to where I was prepared to become part of a collective democratic organization and process which based itself on general political principles, such as international revolutionary socialism, on general organizational principles, such as honest and open discussion and exchange of views and decision making based on democratic majority opinion combined with minority rights. I came to regard the highest achievement of humanity as such a collective democratic decision making organism. 

In dumping the term democratic centralist I have increasingly come to use the term and method of democratic collectivism.  And not only that the revolutionary organization had to be democratic collectivist in its internal life but that any such organization had to have a democratic collectivist leadership. This means a leadership that consciously stands against the development of any one person dominating. A leadership and an organization that takes measures such as democratically deciding who should give introductions, who should write documents, and that should do so with the aim of consciously developing a collective leadership. 

The issue of openness is central to this. For an organization to be able to genuinely act collectively and democratically its membership has to have full access to the developments within the organization. That is, there has to be no secretive internal life. There might be a detail here or there that would have to be kept secret for security reasons. But the overall and overwhelming approach of the organization has to be open. And not only open within its membership, but also open in relationship to its inter-action with the working class. 

This means the revolutionary organization had to continuously interact with, have a dialogue with, share its opinions and its differences with the working class periphery in which it works within which the organization works and struggles. When discussion and debate develops this has to be shared with the working class and the views and opinions of the working class integrated in to the whole.

I have come to the conclusion that developing a collective organization and especially a collective leadership cannot be left to chance. It cannot be left to “natural selection.”     It has to be done consciously. Actions have to be taken to make this so. Steps that have to be taken to achieve this include consciously democratically electing different members to carry out tasks such as leading written, verbal and active roles, not leaving the role of leadership to chance or to the biggest male ego. Diversity in terms of gender, ethnic background, class position in society all, have to be taken into account. 
  
Along with this there has to be the willingness to admit mistakes, in fact the determination to admit mistakes. This is the only way the organization can learn. If it does not admit its mistakes it cannot learn from them. On a regular basis the written material of the organization such as its paper and documents should be read and discussed specifically from the point of view of seeing where they were wrong not as tends to be the case where they were right. Regular meetings at all levels to discuss where our material and documents and predictions and program had been wrong should be a permanent feature of the life of any revolutionary organization. 

Such an approach of course would on occasion bring some of the potentially most capable members into conflict with their own egos and the revolutionary organization. But I have to absorb the statement from Trotsky. While a revolutionary has to have a strong ego it is essential that such an ego be harnessed to the needs of the revolution and the revolutionary organization. This inevitably means the ability to be honestly and openly self-critical.  

In terms of the most capable and leading people who would tend to gravitate into leading positions there is the so-called slate system. This is where an outgoing leadership body when up for re-election proposes a slate of new members to take over. This almost inevitably means the old leadership with one or two add ons is re-elected, means that the old leadership on just about every occasion replaces itself with itself. I have come to to reject this method also and replace it with open elections where no proposed slate is put forward by the outgoing leadership.  

While these general principles have come to be the foundation on which I increasingly build I also understand that the internal life of revolutionary organizations is like all things, not fixed. At different times different balances are necessary. At times the balance of the organization’s resources had to be overwhelming directed towards discussion and clarification of the ideas, the program, strategy and tactics. At other times the balance has to be in the direction of moving the resources into concrete action to either take the organization forward in an offensive or to defend it and possibly retreat if it is under serious attack. It is, as all life is, a dialectical living process. The ability to identify what period the organization is in and what emphasis is necessary is essential to success. Again as Trotsky was to say, it was essential to understand the period through which we were passing. However while saying this, excepting a situation where a counterrevolutionary force has infiltrated an organization at no time should there be any justification for repressing discussion and debate and banning of factions.  

As the 1980’s proceeded into the 1990’s the worldview of the CWI became more and more incorrect. What was necessary at that time was an overwhelming balance towards opening up the organization and mobilizing the entire membership in discussion and debate in order to clarify the ideas and analysis. To this end the organization’s internal life needed to be opened up to the greatest possible degree. To set the right atmosphere there would have had to be full unconditional admission of the major mistakes we had all made, especially the mistakes of the leading bodies and members, the greatest possible encouragement to all of the membership to discuss these mistakes and the lessons of the past, to turn to the literature and experience of the movement, and develop a new world view. To this end also there should have been the conditional welcoming of and inevitability of the development of factions to clarify the ideas. 

In relation to factions: Engels said that it was a law that revolutionary organizations develop through struggle. Trotsky said that the healthiest period of the Bolsheviks was a time of factions and not only factions but factions within factions. In relation to this it is also necessary to see that when an organization goes through a period of change, either in the objective situation or internally that it has to readjust and reorient.

How does it do this? By internal discussion and by increased interaction and dialogue with the working class. So when an organization goes through change such as the SA and CWI are now experiencing there has to be recognition that increased internal discussion and debate are inevitable. But much more than that; not only inevitable, but necessary, and even more than that, internal discussion and debate must be welcomed and encouraged otherwise the resources of the revolutionary organization and its working class periphery will not be able to be mobilized to clarify its new situation and the tasks it will have to take up.

Unfortunately organizations such as the SA/CWI leadership when faced with changes and especially new members, takes the opposite approach. The leadership clamps down to keep control. Look at its British section, its large bases in Liverpool, Scotland, it’s leadership of the Poll Tax that helped to bring down Thatcher. What came out of these? Its leadership was terrified of losing control and would not allow the organization’s internal life develop. I was part of this process. By demanding that the organization discuss its major mistakes in relation to world events myself and the other members of the Minority faction had to be expelled and denied our right to appeal and suffer a torrent of lies and slanders. The corrupt clique around Peter Taaffe and Lynn Walsh could not countenance any significant voices drawing attention to the mistakes we had all made. 

Instead of the internal life of the CWI opening up in this new situation where the world was changing and where it itself had made major mistakes, the opposite occurred. Driven by their own ambition, by their reactionary determination to hold on to their positions, the Taaffe/Walsh leadership and their followers combined to insist they had never made any mistakes and from this went on to clamp down on internal debate and discussion. The internal life became even less democratic than before. They insisted they had never made mistakes. It was all the fault of the Ted Grant/Alan Woods faction and vice versa. This unprincipled factional and personally ambitious response and activity combined with the wrong worldview went on to shatter and demoralize the majority of the membership of the international. Instead of thousands of views flourishing and healthy democratic debate erupting and the organization being built anew on a much more healthy basis where the ideas would be clarified and the internal life of the International made better than ever before, thousands of members walked away in demoralization and disgust, and the International shattered into pieces. 

I was to come to understand the mistaken method of what was known as democratic centralism through a number of painful experiences and mistakes myself and others made. I did not always take issues for discussion to the full membership. I came to learn this was a mistake and when the faction fight developed in the 1990's I took the initiative to form the Minority faction and attempted to take the issues to the full membership. Unfortunately I did not know that the CWI/SA majority leadership had been working as a secret faction for some time before and been preparing its campaign of lies and slanders and expulsions. I came up against this when I did attempt to take my struggle it to the entire membership in open debate but was closed out of attending conferences and international and national meetings and denied my right t to appeal against my expulsion. .  

As I learned these lessons I discarded as totally useless, in fact worse than useless, in fact harmful, the term democratic centralism. I came to describe the internal life of the revolutionary organization I wanted to build as democratic collectivist. This did not mean this organization had no leadership, it did not mean its members were forced to assume positions of artificial equality in terms of ability and understanding, it meant that the weight of all members opinions had to be treated democratically and as equals. And that this had to be defended and promoted by all with ferocity. And along with this that loyalty to the organization included members putting forward their views openly and honestly at all times.

As my experiences unfolded I learnt that the Stalinist organizations and also the so-called revolutionary left sects while claiming adherence to Lenin were in fact taking his name in vain. All these groups, whatever they claimed, sought in one way or another to suppress alternative views within their ranks, Lenin would get enraged when members would have alternative views and not write these down and circulate them within the Party and fight for them. He saw failure to do this as members not doing their duty to educate the Party through debate. This is the approach I have come to adopt. I believe it is the correct one and while there are no guarantees for anything it is the best way to build a revolutionary International. 

There is a directly related and central factor in this crisis in the CWI and SA and its false method of internal life. And this is no small detail. In fact it was and is so strong that it has been able to stand against the democratic tendencies and instincts of the members. This is the corruption and ambition of the majority of the leadership of the organization, represented by and organized in the clique around Taaffe and Walsh.  This is a viciously corrupt clique. It stops at nothing short of violence to get its way. It came close to that on one occasion when Taaffe took a young woman Comrade into a room and smashed his fists on the desk and told her he would “crush”  (his word) her if she did not capitulate to his views. 

Lies, slanders, secret meetings and secret organizing, saying behind their backs that Comrades who had given their whole adult lives to the CWI were passed it, useless and on and on. They said that I had stolen money from the CWI. Something that had never been said about me by the forces such as social democracy, Stalinism, Republicanism, other left groups with whom I had struggles. No it was left to the CWI to stoop to this low.  The leadership of the CWI has developed into a corrupt degenerate clique. And it has done so while still practicing so-called democratic centralism.  

Also read: Socialist Alternative members: Questions and Answers

Monday, November 17, 2014

Alice Walker Opposes Police Censorship of Oakland Schools Curriculum


Alice Walker
November 17, 2014             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker is calling on the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) school board to restore a website of social justice lesson plans. OUSD took down the "Urban Dreams" website last May, caving in to pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police and Fox News.

Ms. Walker (awarded a Pulitzer in 1983 for her novel "The Color Purple") has written to OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson and OUSD school board President David Kakishiba saying:

"I am dismayed to learn that the Oakland school board has dismantled a website of social justice lesson plans because the police objected to it.  The board has a duty to defend students' right to learn against police interference. I am asking the Oakland school district to repost the Urban Dreams website.

"The police attack on Urban Dreams is part of a long campaign to injure and defame political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, a brilliant journalist and author who is innocent of all charges against him. In October the police obtained a state gag law in Pennsylvania specifically intended to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal. One lesson on the Urban Dreams website in Oakland asked students to compare media suppression of Mumia's writings with suppression of the radical thoughts of Martin Luther King, and the police call for censorship was meant to shut out the words of both of these defenders of freedom."

Mumia Abu-Jamal had been an award-winning radio reporter in Philadelphia when in 1982 he was falsely convicted of killing a policeman.  Another man, a career criminal, confessed to the murder, but was not allowed to testify by the police and the courts. From prison Mumia has published eight books on history, law, and religion and recorded scores of commentaries and editorials for public radio.

In her message to Superintendent Wilson and school board President Kakishiba, Alice Walker said, "I hope that the educators of the Oakland school board will defend free speech and academic freedom by restoring the Urban Dreams website."
Earlier, seven-time Emmy Award-winning actor Ed Asner had written to the board, saying "This email is to request that the Urban Dreams website be reinstated without deletions and to let academic freedom prevail!

Oakland Teachers for Mumia (retired OUSD teachers who organized the 1999 Oakland schools teach-in on Mumia and the death penalty) will be at the school board meeting this Wednesday (November 19) to deliver Alice Walker's call for the board to repost the Urban Dreams website -- fully intact. We urge the public to support this call for free speech and academic freedom, and to insist that the police not be allowed to dictate what is and isn't taught in our public schools, by writing to OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson (antwan.wilson@ousd.k12.ca.us) and OUSD school board President David Kakishiba (david.kakishiba@ousd.k12.ca.us).

Oakland Teachers for Mumia (communard2@juno.com)
    Bob Mandel (510.523.7892)
    Bob Wells (510.595-7811)
    Jack Gerson (510.658.5520)

Socialist Alternative members: Questions and Answers

From the 250 member YDC to Oakland youth, 1987
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

In the wake of the successful election of Kshama Sawant, an open socialist to the Seattle City Council, I looked up
Socialist Alternative on Wikipedia. I found that Wikipedia’s US history of Socialist Alternative and the CWI to which the US group is affiliated, appears to have skipped over years when the group had a considerable influence in the US labor movement given its relatively small size. The “official” history is not a history at all. This is not an accident. This is what the Socialist Alternative historians have written on Wikipedia:

“Socialist Alternative was originally formed as Labor Militant in 1986. In the mid-1990s, Labor Militant became part of a national campaign to form the US Labor Party where it became influential in the New York Metro Chapter. Labor Militant members argued that the Labor Party should vigorously run candidates against the Democrats, whereas the national leadership of the Labor Party wanted to take a more cautious approach. After accusations of electoral fraud in the New York Metro Chapter around the vote to run candidates against Democrats, the chapter was subsequently closed.”

The official history jumps from 1986 to the mid nineties, apparently a ten-year period where nothing much happened.  Then the historians write: “From 1998 to 2002 Socialist Alternative was active……..”.  I want to attempt here to introduce the many young people who have joined or are supporters of the tremendous work Socialist Alternative has done of late, to some important history that has been left out and think about why some of us have been written out of history so that with some effort and some luck, the new fresh layers joining Socialist Alternative can rescue the organization from the bureaucratic centralist clique that heads it.

What the Socialist Alternative historians have done here is provide the reader with a tailored description of nothing.  According to this “official” history, Socialist Alternative began as Labor Militant in 1986. However, before we founded our paper in 1986 a paper called Labor Militant, we already used the name Labor Militant, and before that, the Labor and Trade Union Group.  Comrades since left or expelled like Martin Legassick, Marcie Barnett, John Throne were among the earliest contributors to the founding of what is now Socialist Alternative.  When I joined in 1984, there were three of us in Oakland CA, all union activists, Margie Clouser, (CWA) John Reimann (Carpenters) and myself (AFSCME.)

The early US section of the CWI also built various campaigns among the youth, in particular in Seattle where the Youth Defense Campaign had about 250 members. There were YDC campaigns in Chicago, New York and perhaps in Boston but I am not sure. Here in the East SF Bay Area we had a very strong working class branch with members of Afscme, the Carpenters, CWA, Maritime unions, electricians, Teamsters and teachers at various times. This strong rank and file union base was a factor in helping these comrades stand against the negative influence of the union bureaucracy. We had active branches in Oakland CA, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and Seattle. We had three branches in Canada I believe, Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton at one time. Many of the older members, present leading comrades in SALT, are still active. They are collaborators in the whitewashing of history.

In Oakland, before we had a US paper we used to sell the British paper and I assume comrades did in other branches around the country.  We also sold the Panther paper that was produced out of London UK and that disappeared as quickly as it appeared with no explanation as to why. Most of my activity was in the workplace and the labor movement.

Thanks from Sri Lanka for 444 support
I was an active member of Afscme Local 444 that represented blue-collar workers at a water district here in the East Bay. I held various leadership positions over the years. I attended practically every Afscme International Convention from 1980 to 1996 and became a well-known activist within Afscme International especially after joining the CWI around 1984 and the launching of our opposition newsletter in that union in the nineties. The US section of the CWI had a long and close relationship with Afscme 444 and its active members.  The CWI does a disservice to the working class by consciously hiding from history and its present members, the huge role this local and its members played in helping the CWI achieve successes and raising its US profile.  This obliteration of history, the expulsion (the CWI bureaucracy and its sycophants, often refer to expulsions as the expelled, “Walking away from the organization”) and demonizing of past cadre who held dissenting views or who simply opted out for whatever reason, is common to all the left groups and if we look further, was the method of the Stalinists. 

Read letter from Rob Rooke here:

Throughout the 1980’s Labor Militant comrades, with the help of the members of Afscme Local 444, were involved in many campaigns of some significance, campaigns that we always took to the ranks of trade union movement.   There were huge struggles and campaigns throughout this period, particularly around union issues, strikes, racism and youth.  The Hormel strike was a strike Labor Militant comrades on the West Coast were heavily involved in.  When the Campaign Against Domestic Violence was initiated out of the British section I believe, the US section took that up vigorously. We were involved in a number of cases and in the Bay Area anyway, always raised these issues in our unions.  Members of Afscme local 444 supported this drive and as always helped with funds. I personally had an amendment to a resolution accepted at an international convention stating that “battered women’s syndrome” should be recognized as a legitimate form of legal and self defense if a woman was driven to kill her abuser; when he, slept for example.

Labor Militant and Afscme local 444 also played a role in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict and exoneration of the cops. I used to visit a former LA gang leader in prison, he had organized the gang truces after the King verdict and was framed by the cops and given a 10 year sentence.  LM organized a Free Dewayne Holmes campaign in the labor movement with local 444’s help.  LM was involved in numerous cases of youth shot by police, like Jerrold Hall, and also had a member who was on death row, another former gang member who was eventually executed by the state.

Local 444 to Israeli embassy on Mahmoud's behalf
LM was more directly involved in the strike Afscme Local 444 was forced to engage in in 1985. I was on the negotiating team at the time. At the request of the CWI, Labor Militant and local 444, were involved in a huge solidarity campaign to free the Palestinian labor activist Mahmoud Masawra.  Support for trade unionists like Moses Mayekiso in South Africa and the Nigerian Femi Aborisade were also taken up as well as trade union struggles in Sri Lanka the UK and throughout the world. We also have to thank my former co-workers and, members of Afscme local 444, for helping make the campaign to free Mahmoud Masawra a success. It was such a success that the Israeli labor federation, the Histadrut, wrote to then Afscme International president, Gerald McEntee noting what they called a “concerted” campaign to free the imprisoned Arab Israeli.  It was through Afscme Local 444, that the CWI was able to play the role we did in the historic Hormel strike of the mid eighties and the numerous strikes that took place in that decade.

ILWU local 6 endorses Mazzochi meeting
Through the CWI and my role in the union, Local 444 had become one of the leading locals in the country on the issue of a Labor Party based on the trade unions. I had introduced numerous resolutions calling on the union leadership to break from the Democrats at the local, state and federal bodies, including the bi-annual convention of the California Labor Federation. There was a period when no Democrat could get money or an endorsement from Local 444.  I was also for a whole period, the only delegate at the Alameda Labor Council that voted against the COPE Committee endorsements that were always Democrats.

Also in the eighties, myself and another co-worker were elected Local 444 delegates to a Labor Notes conference in Detroit.  At that conference Anthony Mazzochi of the since disbanded Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union was speaking on the need for a Labor Party.  OCAW merged with the United Paperworkers’ International Union in 1999 after existing for 82 years.  If you have seen the movie Silkwood, it was Mazzochi Karen Silkwood was going to meet when her car was driven off the road ending her life.

LM had discussed this labor official as he was traveling the country calling on the need for workers to have our own party.  We approached Mazzochi in Detroit and asked if he would come and speak at a public meeting in Oakland CA on the issue of a Labor Party based on the trade unions.  He said that he would if invited to do so by a union.  I raised the issue at my union meeting and Local 444 officially invited Mazzochi to speak and the meeting, was a great success. With the support of Afscme Local 444, the meeting was also endorsed by SEIU locals, ILWU local 6, and other Afscme Locals and I think the Teamsters. I still have the video of that meeting. Mazzochi told us afterwards that it was the success of that meeting that led him to form Labor Party Advocates in the mid nineties. There was also a meeting in NYC that he spoke at and comrades in NYC were very much involved in this effort.

LM also sent the West Coast full timer, John Reimann, a member of the carpenters union and since expelled from it for his role in the 1999 wildcat strike, to Chiapas where he spent time and discussed with the Zapatistas after that uprising in the late nineties.

I was perhaps the most widely known oppositionist in Afscme at one point, a union in the US that had about 1.3 million members in it at the time. It was I think the fastest growing union in the country back then. Before five of us were expelled from the CWI the Oakland branch was the most union oriented. We were practically all active in our locals and the higher bodies. The expulsions meant the collapse of the CWI branch with the strongest links to the rank and file of the union movement where our influence was significant given our relatively small numbers, due in many ways to the local to which I belonged.  I had already built somewhat of a rank and file base in this union before I met and joined the CWI.  The CWI more than any other force, helped me understand the period we were in and how we got there, which meant I has a much clearer understanding of the dynamics that existed in the movement and my workplace especially.  Why could I not get my co-workers active?  Why would the union leadership not fight? And how could I change that? In short, the CWI helped me develop perspectives based on the material conditions around me and helped me fight for reforms and raise the ideas of socialism in the workplace in a way that was not ultra left and disconnected from the consciousness.

In the early nineties I handed out a one-page article at one of the International conventions in San Diego to which I was a delegate. I was an elected delegate to most of the Afscme Conventions from 1980 to 1996. It was a piece called “lets be realistic” or something similar (I have it somewhere). The purpose was to test the waters, see what the mood was like for building some sort of United Front within that union. It was critical of the leadership’s politics and philosophy that was handed to us in a concise nutshell every time they refused to take on the bosses, “ We have to be realistic” we are always told as a justification for concessions.

AMSU flier for convention caucus meeting 1996
The reception was very good so we ended up publishing an opposition newsletter called The Afscme Activist. (I was brought up on charges at a later date for using the name). Afscme local 444 endorsed the newsletter that had a program of reforms including the call for a labor party based on the trade unions. The local also donated some start up money to get the newsletter off the ground.  I had made some connections over the years and sent copies to some of them. A solid activist, a dishwasher at the university in Madison WI got her local to take out a subscription and encouraged others in her state to do so.  Through these connections I’d made over the years at conventions, and being a leading campaigner for a break with the Democrats and for a Labor Party, the Afscme Activist and local 444 as a leading campaigner in the entire country for a labor party (as opposed to an individual or lefty in a union), became the most left wing union in Afscme I would say and some have said the entire US labor movement at the time

The Afscme Activist went on to be subscribed to by locals in 10 states (usually 50 copies each for their meetings) from Arizona to Wisconsin as well as having 250 individual subscribers.  We also sold it at meetings, union gatherings and events and at other conventions like the California State Labor Federation which I attended, and District Council meetings. The Labor Notes crowd for sectarian reasons and because it was too critical of the bureaucracy, avoided it like the plague.

I was on the LM National Committee and at our meetings we had decided this was to be a United Front effort.  We accepted that in such a formation it was possible we could lose the leadership of it and would take our place in the ranks if that happened, although at the stage we were in it was unlikely. Supporters would send me articles and suggestions and we got to a point where we decided we would try to get the workers involved in more than a secondary way as supporters etc. by electing an editorial board at the convention in Chicago in 1996. As the editor and a prominent rank and file member of Afscme with a very supportive local, it was natural it was me that had encouraged these Afscme members to support the newsletter and bring them in.  So in Chicago we took two steps. One was to elect the editorial board and the other was the holding of public meeting of rank and file activists, particularly those whose locals had supported the paper.

The public meeting was a great success with over 100 rank and file members attending and mostly absent the usual suspects, the left and the so-called revolutionaries. We had planned to run Afscme Activist candidates at the next convention two years down the road as a means of building a caucus. 

The election to the editorial board would have been a success as it would have been the beginning of a real opposition caucus around a newsletter with a growing audience in a major US union.  The two CWI comrades that came, one from the East Coast and another from Chicago, voted against the formation of an editorial board and tried to wreck it.  The position now apparently was that the Afscme Activist was not the publication of a United Front but a Labor Militant/CWI organ.  This was news to me not to mention all the rank and file unionists connected to it.  The comrade from New York (unbeknownst to the rest of us they were in secret discussions with the Walsh/Taffe faction behind our backs) along with other Afscme comrades in Philadelphia did very little to build this United Front using the Afscme Activist as a tool, despite having the two largest Afscme District Councils on their doorstep. The NYC council, DC 37, had 128,000 members at the time.

I was trusted by these (mostly women) that had helped build the AA. After the vote, when the two CWI comrades, Steve Edwards and Tom Trottier, opposed these rank and file union members being on an editorial board of a newsletter they were central in building, the workers were perplexed. I still remember the looks on their faces.  I never lied to them about my CWI membership or our US group but they couldn’t figure out why my comrades behaved the way they did. So I told them. I am still clean with these people today.

As the Afscme Activist had magically become a Labor Militant publication or “organ” as it was put to me. The CWI demanded that I handed over the names and addresses of the Activist subscribers to the group. I refused to do so. My position was this was not my decision; it was the decision of the United Front.  It was also becoming apparent to me that the position they were taking regarding the Afscme Activist was for purely factional reasons.  The CWI leadership in London was working behind the scenes to expel John Throne. There was also other stuff developing, the secret discussions with a degenerate named Carlos Petroni and his group who helped expel us then left the CWI after some crap I don’t know what. So my position re the CWI’s tactics was when the so-called vanguard does not represent the interests of the class, the vanguard has to go.

I have no regrets for my years with the CWI. The CWI taught me a great deal. I am a better man for my association with the CWI and a healthier one by being expelled. But for all the money I donated, we had ferocious fundraising drives; it was still worth it. But what gets me about CWI people I am still connected to via FB or other means, is they have claimed they didn’t know that I was expelled and that the CWI hasn’t expelled anyone. Where the hell did they all go I wonder?  There are literally thousands of socialists, dedicated revolutionaries and activists from all walks of life who are outside the left groups, not just the CWI. There are more revolutionaries outside of left groups than in them.

Surely, the question has to be asked why so many dedicated loyal revolutionaries end up this way.  They treated us worse than the bourgeois do. John Throne, who was the leading figure here in the US was becoming sicker by the day as he has an auto immune disease (the CWI spread the rumor he had Aids and accused him of extortion and stealing money, outrageous slanders that the accusers have never retracted. He was dumped and had no health insurance or job).  John Reimann our full timer had been out of work for 10 years. I was fortunate in that I had a public sector job. What is it that one closes one’s eyes to all this?  Is it the desperate desire to belong?

I don’t intend to go in to the details behind our expulsions in depth.  Differences became more apparent after we became involved in Mazzochi’s labor party efforts. We never had the position that a labor party would be built with Mazzochi’s method, going after the one’s and twos. We intervened in Mazzochi’s campaign because we knew that many genuine workers, fresh layers of activists, would be drawn to the campaign and we believed it was important to be there to help them maintain their political activity (hopefully with LM) after it became obvious Mazzochi’s efforts would come to nought. This was to come sooner than later as the left wing of the labor bureaucracy, many of them members of socialist organizations, became involved once a section of the labor leadership did so.

Proposal for public forum for Mazzochi, Sanders and Stump
The claim by the Socialist Alternative historians on Wikipedia that, “Labor Militant members argued that the Labor Party should vigorously run candidates against the Democrats, whereas the national leadership of the Labor Party wanted to take a more cautious approach.”, is simply not true.  This was our official position, But by the time of the Labor Party conference in 1996 and after a short flirtation with the left wing of the union bureaucracy through the LPA activity, the undeclared Taffe/Walsh faction abandoned this position and adopted the, recruit the one’s and twos approach, which was no different from the union bureaucracy’s left wing.  The LP was dead.

The last thing I want to say is that the most aggrieved here is the working class and particularly those that helped the CWI through me, play a significant role in the trade union movement and also in the formation of Mazzochi’s Labor Party Advocates. It was the Walsh/Taffe faction’s US comrades that got lost in that trade union milieu and how the original division first manifested itself. Changing the name of the paper to “Justice” was tell-tale enough; it would offend no one. Everyone believes in Justice. It was diverted to organizational details and John Throne was the target as the “top down” guru.  I agree he was top down, so was John Reimann, Alan Akrivos, Tony Willsden, Steve Edwards Rob Rooke and others still around today. And so was I.  All of the leadership was.  Brand new young ambitious student comrades like Philip Locker opportunistically jumped on this bandwagon although we hardly knew them and had no interaction with them at all for the most part.

We all agreed to and accepted a false method. The Taffe/Walsh faction used this to rid the CWI international of John Throne who was not on board with the program and was questioning the CWI’s methods and Reimann who raised issues that were not popular also. They were both on international bodies, I was not. It was thought I might come on board but I was not about to scapegoat two comrades who had played such an important role in making the CWI a small force within organized labor and in this country as a whole.  That the organization had serious flaws is correct, we all agreed to the methods. Some of us drew conclusions, saw the weaknesses and have admitted them. Others refuse to do so and still either participate in the slanders, either directly or by their silence.  All for a peaceful life.

Some rank and file members of my local played a huge role in helping the CWI grow and gain influence, they gave it credibility in a sense that we were not an organization of usual suspects.  We had genuine worker supporters. The CWI betrayed my local and its members, and the working class as a whole wanting to control and eventually destroy a United Front simply for factional reasons.

Like the Stalinists, the CWI has written Afscme local 444 out of history, strike and all. John Throne who played such an important role in building the CWI here and always did the work on the ground with all of us has been written out of history as has Lisa Hane, a worker who was our treasurer and one of the builders of the Seattle Youth Defense Campaign. Socialist Alternative history begins in 1996 and before that a vacuum?  There have been similar occurrences, splits and expulsions in many countries where the CWI has a base.  In Ireland, two women members of the Irish parliament, Clare Daly and Joan Collins are no longer in the CWI. Instead of slanders and demonizing former comrades, it is crucial the CWI membership discuss these issues from the ground up and in a political way.

In countries where there was an active opposition these are not mentioned. This is information the SA members have to have. An organization that does not discuss these issues from the ground up cannot survive. We were all part of the method that led to the leadership handing down the line and with the help of a loyal full time apparatus, the members being convinced of its greatness.  The slate system for electing the leadership for example is profoundly undemocratic, expecting a new person to challenge the outgoing leadership’s slate.  Some of us have admitted these mistakes and are trying to learn from them, not just mistakes in general, but openly admitting our role in perpetuating them.

We have also drawn the conclusion that the internal life of the CWI was always top down, always bureaucratic centralist.  It mattered less during the post war boom when the perspectives were generally correct but after the collapse of Stalinism in particular, the organization began to disintegrate.  New young members excited by the successes should be aware that the CWI has had great successes before. It had members in the British Parliament, controlled the City of Liverpool Council, had over 10,000 members and organized the Anti-Poll Tax federations that helped bring down Thatcher.

I want add that this is primarily a commentary based on the author’s experiences. There are many comrades that played important roles that I have not mentioned here, comrades on the East Coast, Canada, like Steve Pybus who has since passed away, and other comrades throughout the world from Ireland to South Africa. The CWI like all the left groups has an unhealthy internal life. Why does the leadership keep this history and the history of the numerous oppositions and dissenting opinions from their own members? 

For years, I told my co-workers the former Soviet Union could not go back to capitalism.  We were wrong. What happened to the Panther paper, the splits and decline?  These issues, like all issues as well as the history of an organization has to be discussed thoroughly throughout an organization from top to bottom, not the other way round.  Not brought to the membership after the leadership has decided the line on it.  The new young comrades joining the CWI in the wake of the recent successes must remember that they are not the first such successes, it is the duty of the membership to ensure that a democratic internal life becomes the norm.

There is one simple issue that should warn us of the degeneration of an organization, or its incorrect methodology. Any organization that has the same leader for 45 years (and almost always male) is not a healthy one.

Heavens forbid they gain state power.

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