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Socialism and the Emerging Progressive Majority

Socialism and the Emerging Progressive Majority

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Published by Kim Hedum
This explains how socialist organizations worked within the Obama organization to get him elected and how they then had a majority in congress, especially the Progressive Left. Progressive =Socialist!
This explains how socialist organizations worked within the Obama organization to get him elected and how they then had a majority in congress, especially the Progressive Left. Progressive =Socialist!

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Published by: Kim Hedum on Nov 25, 2010
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12/06/2010

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Socialism and the Emerging Progressive MajorityAre Key Topics at Symposium and 6th CCDS Convention
By Carl Davidson
 What are the best ways to unite the progressivemajority in our country around a depression-busting platform for peace, democracy, andjustice? How do we do it in ways that bothclarifies the vision and strengthens thecomponents of socialism for the 21st century?These were among the key questions 255activists wrestled with for four days at a publicSymposium followed by the 6th NationalConvention of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism(CCDS) at San Francisco's Whitcomb Hotel July23-26. Judging from the enthusiasm andsolidarity expressed during the many plenarysessions and workshops under the banner of "Building the Progressive Majority and a Socialist Future," participants found a few solidanswers and a fired-up fresh start on a new round of organizing in the period ahead.
Photo: Helmut Scholz of Die Linke, Germany; ChrisMatlhako of the Communist Party of South Africa, andAngela Davis of CCDS.
 
Symposium: 'Capitalism in Crisis: Socialism for the 21st Century'
A day long symposium around the theme "Capitalism in Crisis: Socialism for the 21stCentury," sponsored by the Committees of Correspondence Education Fund opened the 4days of programs on July 23rd.Gus Newport, former mayor of Berkeley, CA opened the panel on "Building the ProgressiveMajority in the Age of Obama" by introducing Jack O'Dell's Democracy Charter. TheDemocracy Charter was the result of a decade-long project spearheaded by O'Dell, anadvisor to both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition. It ismodeled on both the 1955 Declaration of the Bandung Conference against colonialism andthe Freedom Charter proclaimed by the anti-apartheid forces in South Africa the same year.It outlines thirteen points for a "Second Reconstruction" in the U.S. of far-reaching and all-sided democratic reform - politically, socially, economically, and culturally."At the very heart of the unfolding struggle for democracy today," says the DemocracyCharter, "are the issues of race, class, and gender in relation to power and decision-making.This has been a fundamental reality since the birth of this Republic." At its founding, theU.S. has "rested upon four pillars" - the genocide of Native Americans and the seizure of their lands, the enslavement of Africans and "affirmative action" for slave owners, themilitary seizure and annexation of one-third of Mexico, and "the exploitation of a wage-labor
 
of the working class among the new immigrant population. "The position of women is self-evident" within all these pillars, "especially since they were denied the formal democraticright to vote until 1919."The panel featured responses to the "Democracy Charter" by Bill Fletcher, Jr., editor of Black Commentator, Michael Eisenscher of US Labor Against the War, Jacqueline Cabassofrom Western States Legal Foundation, Frank del Campo from the Labor Council for LatinAmerican Advancement, and Steve Williams of People Organized to Win Employment Rights.Bill Fletcher, Jr. cast the Charter as a political and social guide for mass struggle."If we just look at these 13 points as a laundry list that needs additions or sharperdefinitions," he declared, "we're missing a key feature. What Jack O'Dell has done here isdeliver a polemic against postmodernism, the whole trendy effort to deny the importance of strategic aims, to consign our efforts to private and disconnected stories. He reaffirms therootedness of our unity and our common goals, here and internationally."One recurring theme throughout the four days was "left unity." This was evident in thelineup of speakers for the Symposium roundtable conversation on "Building the Left and theProgressive Majority." In addition to CCDS leader Mildred Williamson, the panel includedJudith LeBlanc of the Communist Party USA, Joe Schwartz of Democratic Socialists of America, Michael Rubin of Solidarity, Jamala Rogers of Freedom Road Socialist Organization,and Linda Burnham. The panelists discussed the importance of building the left within thecurrent upsurge, working for left unity in struggle against the right, and the tactical issuesthat arise in uniting the progressive majority. The enthusiastic response to CCDS' invitationto this panel was an indicator of the seriousness of the question of left unity among thesegroups.The Symposium ended with "Building Socialism in the 21st Century - An InternationalEvening." The session opened with South African freedom songs by the popular choir VukaniMawethu. Angela Davis moderated by stressing the importance of international solidarity inwinning her own freedom in the U.S. Eric Mar, recently elected to the San Francisco Boardof Supervisors, welcomed everyone and presented a resolution from the Board of Supervisorsin tribute to the work of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.The presentations from the international guests gave a picture of both the successes andproblems of their various struggles, placing the conference deliberations in a wider, globalcontext. Both Chris Matlhako from the South African Communist Party and Marcos Garciafrom the Venezuelan Embassy in DC gave a picture of protracted battles against neo-liberalism and their efforts to build and maintain unity on the left in their countries.Helmut Scholz, a leader of Die Linke (The Left Party) of Germany, described the unityefforts between groups in East and West Germany that brought together its forerunner, theParty of Democratic Socialism, made up of the former East German Communists, andgroupings of Left Social Democrats from the West. Their common task now, he explained,was making sure the burden of the capitalist crisis was not placed on the working class.Jackeline Rivera, an FMLN deputy to the legislature of El Salvador, was warmly received.She revealed how, in their recent electoral victory, the FMLN saw two left groups breakaway, and the national unity efforts that followed.
 
"This was really an amazing discussion," said one CCDSer. "I never expected them to go intothese internal matters so frankly. But it really is necessary for reaching both a clearerpicture and a higher level of unity." Appropriately, the evening included a reading of solidarity messages to CCDS from Cuba and Vietnam, and a rousing singing of "TheInternationale.""Wow, what a night!" declared East Bay activist Felicia Gustin. "An international forum onbuilding socialism in the 21st century - moderated by Angela, with all these internationalguests ... talk about food for thought!"
Convention: 'Building a Progressive Majority and a Socialist Future'
Three days of workshops, discussions, debates and decision-making by CCDS membersfollowed the Symposium. The convention was a critical step forward for the CCDS in anumber of ways. It needed to adopt a new basic statement of its "Goals and Principles" toreplace an original statement written when the group was founded in 1994. It especiallyneeded to take its bearings in the new political situation following the election of BarackObama - most of its members worked for Obama's election in one way or another, but asignificant minority also worked for third party candidates.It also needed to select a new leadership, since the four current co-chairs were retiring orstepping down. Finally, it needed to expand the participation in the organization of theyounger generation on the left. Similar to many left groups with roots going back to the1930s, CCDS has a wealth of experienced leaders reaching back 50 years, but lacks adequatemembership among radicals who came into politics in the last two decades.As the delegates and participants assembled in the well-maintained century-old grandeur of the Hotel Whitcomb, CCDS's strengths became evident. In addition to the Bay Area and LosAngeles, delegations arrived from the coal regions and river towns of Kentucky, from therustbelt mill towns of Western PA and Ohio, from the heartland of central Indiana, Chicagoand Detroit, from the Carolinas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Virginia in the Deep South, as wellas New York City, and New England. Many are leaders in the African American communityand most of the major trade unions. Women were on a par with men, and it was clear thatCCDS was an organization with deep roots in the working class and many of the key socialmovements of today. A few fresher, younger faces, attending a gathering like this for thefirst time, offered a toe-hold for future connections and growth.
The Goals and Principles Document
The overall theme and key topic of the 6th Convention was assessing the 2008 election andbuilding the progressive majority in the new Obama period. The importance of theinterconnection of race, class, and gender within the wider class and democratic struggleshas been a key feature of CCDS since it held its first gathering in 1992 in Berkeley, CA. CCDSwas the organizational expression of a growing democratic socialist trend that broke fromthe CPUSA and drew people from other left organizations into its ranks as well."Obama's election and the movement around it," states the new CCDS core document,"underscored the inseparable connection of issues and constituencies in the progressive

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