Then I open my e-mail after being gone for a couple weeks and I click onto this link about the elections: http://www.cpusa.org/article/articleview/843/1/92/
Yeppers, just like Alan Maki says in his e-mail posted below.
My two favorite activists-
Cindy Sheehan < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cindy_Sheehan >
and Cynthia McKinney < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_McKinney >-
under attack by Joelle Fishman.
I don't know about this folks but things seem to be going from bad to worse. What happened to respect for good honest activism in our party?
I would like to hear Joelle's response to what Alan writes. As usual I find his comments dead on right.
From: Alan Maki [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2007 11:47 PM
Cc: 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'Scott Marshall'; 'Dean Gunderson'; 'email@example.com'; 'Walter Tillow'; 'Edwardadrummond@aol.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'
Subject: Some thoughts on political independence and the 2008 Elections
This, below, is from a report by Joelle Fishman, one of the primary proponents of revisionist thinking which now dominates the “leading” circles within our Party.
This is a shameful statement which serves to divide the working class movement and an attempt to further separate working people from a progressive electoral strategy; it demonstrates a complete lack of class consciousness, worse yet, it is a withdrawal from the class struggle initiatives which have been the hallmarks of the Communist Party USA.
This revisionist perspective has always been present in the Communist Party; but, only recently has it become a dominant position after the leadership of Sam Webb, Scott Marshall, and Joelle Fishman successfully destroyed active Communist Party Clubs across the Midwest like the Minneapolis Club of the Communist Party USA under the guise of designating these working class community leaders and Party activists “The Gus Hall Eight” and the “Minnesota Problem” because they took their Club very public in immensely popular campaigns to end this dirty war in Iraq, save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the combined electricity producing hydro dam, and participated in community campaigns against racist police brutality.
In fact, the present policy of the Democratic Party to focus solely on “framing issues correctly” in order to get votes and “intentionally evading any discussion of providing solutions to problems” as part of an election strategy brought forward by George Lakey, a high paid linguist who believes you win and lose elections by playing with language rather than making the electoral arena part of the struggle to create better living conditions for working people. In a very real sense, Lakey’s theories on winning elections panders to the well-heeled, well-meaning liberals like Paul Krugman; fits in well with the no-struggle, sell-out policies of labor “leaders” like the UAW’s Ron Gettelfinger and Bob King, and plays directly into the hands of the multi-national capitalist corporations as part of the neo-liberal agenda which enables state-monopoly capitalism to maintain a stranglehold on the working class as the most elemental aspects of democracy are being smothered.
Under these circumstances it is only a normal part of the move towards real political independence that working people either stop participating in the elections, or begin initiating real forms of political independence. It is shameful that Joelle Fishman would further confuse an already confusing issue by throwing the campaigns of Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan with movement wreckers like Fulani and then do all of this dirty work under the guise of supporting the revolutionary, anti-imperialist, working class thinking of the great Communist Party leader Henry Winston.
Fishman than goes on to make the completely contradictory statement that “In this period, independent campaigns are most effective at the local level.” Well, what is Sheehan’s campaign if not local; and, what is Cynthia McKinney’s campaign if not arising from a real, honest, grassroots constituency of local activists? Oh, Fishman defines “local” as being limited to “municipal.”
Like Sam Webb and the “distinguished” feeble-minded professor Erwin Marquit who most people simply view as a booby-head anointed by Webb to the position of “Party Theoretician,” Fishman does not provide one single example of a single Communist as she states: “There are several in the 2007 municipal election cycle. Some are Working Families Party or Progressive Party and some utilize the Democratic Party ballot line. There are a few Communists among them, but not nearly enough.” If specific examples were given our Party would have something of substance to discuss as to whether or not this approach to politics really works. But, like everything else from the mouths or the pens of this bunch of fractional, factional, revisionists bent on liquidating the Communist Party like what they have done with the publications of Gus Hall and Henry Winston, everything is vague, without any specifics and we are just supposed to take the word of these pathetic “leaders” who have withdrawn the Communist Party Clubs from the class struggle in the shops and in working class communities.
The real “negative impact” Fishman refers to comes from an acquiescing, do-nothing Democratic Party leadership which is attempting to thwart and stymie the popular movements for an end to this dirty imperialist war and for single-payer, universal health care.
Make no mistake, this bunch of revisionists views everything in the exact same way they view the struggle for public ownership to save the St. Paul Ford Twin City Assembly Plant… there position clearly stated by Dean Gunderson who takes the mangled, caricatured description of a communist to heart; that a communist meets with a few people in the confines of an R.V. or an apartment reading meaningless, anti-working class nonsense pretending this is the way to participate in the peoples movements. Here is what Gunderson has written:
The closure of the Ford plant in St Paul is a done deal.
There was an agreement reached regarding the affected
employees signed by the UAW and Ford Motor.
The campaigns we are involved with in St Paul do not
center around the closure issue. Both Mark Froemke and
Scott Marshall have advised our district that there is nothing
we can do regarding the closure.
Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands that the “plant closure” issue is far from a “done deal” as Gunderson states… only days ago, this plant was part of the UAW’s negotiations with Ford Motor Company and the plant will remain open for at least another year after Ford previously announced plans to close and demolish the plant this past summer. Scott Marshall and Mark Froemke provided this “advice” to Dean Gunderson, the Chair of the St. Paul Club of the Communist Party, over three years ago!
In the mean time the UAW local and community activists along with a few elected progressive, pro-labor, local and state politicians have been struggling to keep the plant open… obviously this struggle has born fruit for the time being… all the while the head of the CPUSA Labor Commission and Mark Froemke, the Party’s top man in the Minnesota AFL-CIO, did nothing but withdraw from this sharpening class struggle… just like Ron Gettelfinger and Trotskyite Bob King did on a national level.
Without any explanation, Fishman assigns political independence to non-partisan municipal elections. Using the issues surrounding the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, how do you confine the movements for working class political independence strictly to municipal elections?
In fact, Cynthia McKinney’s supporters in Minnesota have been among the staunchest supporters of saving the Ford Plant and the two-thousand jobs through public ownership and at least two United States Senate candidates--- one supporting the best Democratic candidate for President, Cynthia McKinney--- is an ardent supporter of the struggles unfolding to save the Ford plant; the other is more ambiguous, but brings the issue forward in a good way--- one a Green Party candidate, the other a major contender for the Democratic Party nomination with a better chance than the UFO experienced Kucinich.
Fishman does not even note the most despicable, manipulative, dishonest, and corrupt manner in which the monied interests in the Democratic Party undermined the popular, long-time serving Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney; in fact, Democratic Party leaders recruited and ran a candidate against McKinney because she took progressivism to mean you find real solutions to pressing problems.
Fishman fails to note that the United States is the only industrialized capitalist country without multi-party elections where the working class is as mired in the two-party trap as U.S. troops are in Iraq. Fishman uses classic revisionist thinking that somehow any attempt to break free of this two-party trap presents something dangerously negative without providing any proof… more revisionist “American exceptionalism.” There is no evidence that working people would be better off with any of the three top contenders for the Democratic Party nomination than with any of the present Republican Party candidates. In fact, class struggle, working class oriented policies can successfully challenge the most reactionary aims of any of these candidates; but, for Webb, Fishman, Marshall, Marquit, and Gunderson such struggle requires getting out and organizing among working people… it means Scott Marshall loading up his shiny new pick-up truck with leaflets, Peoples Weekly Worlds, Political Affairs and publications by real Communists like Gus Hall, Henry Winston, and William Z. Foster and getting this important material into the hands of working people; it means organizing person to person, neighborhood by neighborhood, and most importantly, plant by plant and mine by mine. Too much work for those whose idea of “struggle” is a weekend gathering at Mesaba Co-Op Park sitting around drinking wine and whiskey after asking workers to travel long distances under the guise of having a meeting to organize the fight for single-payer, universal health care and the struggle to save jobs on the Iron Range and in the Twin Cities.
Fishman concludes by stating:
The Peoples Weekly World / Nuestro Mundo, Political Affairs, and Dynamic have played a consistently important role, and that should be expanded even more. Our Party and press building campaign is very important to this effort. Increasing the readership of our paper will make an ideological contribution to the 2008 elections.
We should also develop our own program for 2008. How to end the war and occupation. A New Deal program for Gulf Coast and country. An emergency response to the economic crisis – Moratorium on foreclosures and payments on mortgages under various conditions. Extend benefits for the unemployed, and massive job creation which is already being developed by the Economics Commission.
Our work on the elections should build at the ground for the long term both coalition and our own constituency. There are new possibilities to develop left center relations between labor and the Party. We should think through how to strengthen those ties. In 2006 we reached new levels of participation in labor sponsored election activities. How can we deepen that in 2008 and consolidate labor’s growing independent trend?
Wow! Sounds terrific! However, when viewed in the context of what the Party has done, and has not done, and the most divisive manner in which it has been suggested that the Party abdicate its role in saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant along with the hydro dam and two-thousand jobs, Fishman’s statement is little more than empty rhetoric. It is only fair we use this concrete example of the pending closure of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant as our example to judge the honesty and intent of Fishman’s statement on our projected political and electoral work leading into the 2008 elections. There is not one shred of evidence Fishman’s words will be transformed into deeds. In fact, Fishman provides not one real example of that to which she alludes… so, I offer up the Ford Plant as the example.
Anyone can write these kinds of statements; only real Communists write these kinds of statements providing concrete examples. This report is a further example of the treacherous path to revisionist liquidation Sam Webb, Scott Marshall, Joelle Fishman and Party theoretician Professor Marquit are leading our Party down… instead of leading our Party into struggle… they are not only tailing the Democratic Party, they are “leading” us away from all struggle; after all, Fishman does not even provide any examples of Communist work inside of the Democratic Party, a very legitimate place for Communists to be working because so many workers still view the Democrats as the lesser-evil. However, it is not right that Fishman fails to acknowledge and support the healthy initiatives of other working class people breaking away from the Democratic Party. There is no question many of the so-called moves towards political independence are not only negative, but outright reactionary and even fascist; but, one role of the Communist Party is to help working people sort through this confusion and push forward the Communist line in a way that where ever Communists are involved we are pushing and prodding the peoples’ movements towards our stated goal of developing a broad based anti-monopoly coalition putting us on the road to socialism. Fishman views the numerous progressive tendencies approaching the 2008 elections with only one tendency--- the Democratic Party--- as being positive, everything else, as negative; this is wrong and highly divisive. The primary focus of working people will be on the race for president, congressional and Senate races as well as races for the state houses… why then would Fishman suggest the place for progressives to be active for independence from the two-party trap locally is only in the municipal elections; this doesn’t make any sense at all. What this demonstrates is the inability of these revisionists to think clearly.
If in fact the Party had the clout and “respect” in the Democratic Party and in the labor movement which Fishman and Webb continuously claims, it should be relatively easy to convince these elements to support a few good independent initiatives. Anyone can see that Cindy Sheehan would be a better choice for Congress than Nancy Pelosi.
This is a classic revisionist analysis being put forward by Fishman in her capacity of being in charge of the Party’s electoral work, it does fit in with the same kind of revisionist thinking concerning the issue of the Ford Plant, Webb’s willingness to “compromise” by giving up on the struggle for single-payer, universal health care just as this struggle is developing, the CPUSA National Board--- without consulting Districts and clubs--- issuing a very controversial and divisive statement in support of continued funding for the war in Iraq under the guise it was a step towards ending the war (no one saw this vote in this way), and liquidating and destroying books and pamphlets by Gus Hall and Henry Winston… make no mistake, the writings of these two Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries were a completely collaborative and complementary collective effort .
This is the heart and the meat of what Fishman has written:
Third Party issues
There are five third party presidential candidates, and two independent presidential candidates.
Bloomberg’s independent candidacy could have a negative impact on the election dynamics. Cynthia McKinney may be the candidate on the Green Party ticket, which could also have a negative spoiler impact in a close race. A new formation Unity 08 is projecting a ticket that would include one Democrat and one Republican for President and Vice President. We should also be aware of the new formation, Committee for a Unified Independent Party, of which Lenora Fulani is part. All of these efforts, from the left and the right, will be diversionary in one way or another, and do not recognize the main danger of the extreme right-wing and their corporate backers.
Of course the country needs a massive anti-corporate, pro-people third party. But how do we achieve that goal? It cannot be accomplished which the working class and people are forced into a defensive mode under ultra-right domination of the federal government. In the process of achieving that first task, the seeds of a new people’s party are being sown.
Sometimes we are criticized as “tailing the Democratic Party.” That is not the case. We have no illusions about the Democratic Party. We, along with labor and its allies recognize that at this moment the Democratic Party is the only vehicle that has the possibility to enable a big shift in politics in 2008..
Building the movement at the grass roots on the issues, bringing the troops home, universal health care, employee free choice act, and jobs, and connecting that program to the elections is the main expression of political independence in 2008, led by the Labor 2008 campaign. If the president and congress are elected with this mandate, and if the movement continues after election day, it will have to be taken into account.
As Henry Winston used to say in relation to tactical questions, take into account time, place, and circumstance.
Cindy Sheehan running against Nancy Pelosi is a negative. It takes the main fight away from the initiators and main supporters of the war – the Bush administration backed up by Republicans in Congress and some Democrats. That is where pressure can make a qualitative difference in the effort to achieve withdrawal.
In this period, independent campaigns are most effective at the local level. There are several in the 2007 municipal election cycle. Some are Working Families Party or Progressive Party and some utilize the Democratic Party ballot line. There are a few Communists among them, but not nearly enough.
I would encourage everyone to study Party documents very closely in relation to what is required of our movements and based upon real activity. Party policy and direction can only be discussed using real life examples. Let Webb, Marshall, Fishman and Marquit explain their positions based upon their involvement in real struggles; not empty, nice sounding words and rhetoric that they have learned to “frame” from the Democrat’s linguistic expert and guru, George Lakey, at the do-nothing “Campaign for America’s Future” conferences most working people can’t even afford to attend.
I will tell you, trying to get two-million casino workers who feel completely betrayed by the Democratic Party as they have been forced to work in over 400 smoke-filled casinos strung out across this country; working for poverty wages without any rights and protections under state or federal labor laws without any voice at work is going to be a hard sell… I invite Fishman and Webb to come into Michigan or Minnesota and make their case.
To expect that the present sell-out leadership of the UAW is competent or capable of leading any kind of progressive electoral activity is just as screwy thinking as believing Kucinich’s UFO encounter… yet Fishman and Webb hold up Kucinich as the real progressive candidate, knowing full well Kucinich will not be around when it counts; Kucinich is the chumming bait, a bait used to catch suckers, to keep people under the big top as the tent is collapsing.
We read in the PWW that Ron Gettelfinger and the UAW will be part of the struggle for single-payer, universal health care when the contract Gettelfinger let Ford dictate says something completely contrary:
The UAW and Ford have agreed to an unprecedented commitment to im-
prove the affordability, accessibility and accountability of the U.S. health care
system, including the pursuit of a lasting solution to our national health care
The parties have agreed to create the National Institute for Health Care
Reform that will serve as a premier research and educational health care reform
center dedicated to understanding, evaluating and developing thoughtful and
innovative reform to improve the medical delivery system in the United States
and expand access to high-quality, affordable and accountable health care
coverage for all Americans.
Ford has committed to five annual $1 million contributions to fund the
Really, does this sound like single-payer, universal health care will be a high priority on Ron Gettelfinger’s agenda? Not unless it is there five years from now.
Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
Check out my blog:
Thoughts From Podunk