Report from Workers World Party Conference

Greg Butterfield theredguard at SPAMhotmail.com
Sun Nov 14 08:54:29 MST 1999



-------------------------
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Nov. 18, 1999
issue of Workers World newspaper
-------------------------

REPORT FROM WORKERS WORLD PARTY CONFERENCE:
ACTIVISTS SHOW HOW MARXISM AIDS THE STRUGGLE

By Deirdre Griswold
New York

There's no question that Wall Street is the operational
center for the super-rich of the U.S. imperialist ruling
class. And that Washington is their political center.

But where is a truly independent center for the struggle
of the U.S. multinational working class? Can this class
break free of capitalism and elevate its role from those who
do all the work to those who also run society?

Can the workers transform the U.S. from a place where a
few billionaires monopolize economic and political power to
a society based on common ownership of the economy and
sharing by all?

A glimpse of what kind of revolutionary movement is
possible in this country was seen the weekend of Nov. 6-7 at
the National Conference of Workers World Party, held in New
York City. It brought together hundreds of workers who have
been raising hell against the status quo on a wide variety
of issues, and who see all their struggles as part of a
worldwide, historic battle to get rid of the capitalist
system and replace it with socialism.

The conference's theme was "Learning Marxism for today's
struggles." People deeply involved in many movements led the
discussion. They ranged from community activists trying to
stop police brutality and the death penalty to anti-war
organizers who have seen first-hand the devastation caused
by U.S. aggression in Yugoslavia and Iraq.

MOST IMPORTANT TASK: FREE MUMIA

Of great significance was the fact that everyone roared
their approval when asked to make one particular issue the
focus of their work in the next period: the struggle to save
the life of Black revolutionary and journalist Mumia Abu-
Jamal.

The decision to elevate work on Mumia's case reflects not
only the issues embodied in it--the death penalty, political
prisoners, racism, police frameups--but also the great
contributions that Abu-Jamal has made to the progressive
movement from his death-row cell.

His devotion to the struggle of all the oppressed--he has
used his eloquent voice to champion other political
prisoners, to defend gay rights, to condemn the U.S. war in
the Balkans, to name a few--has moved people outside the
walls into greater activity on many fronts.

Thus, the second plenary of the WWP conference heard talks
on how to enhance the struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Mahtowin, a Lakota woman who has fought for the freedom of
Native leader and political prisoner Leonard Peltier,
introduced a panel that included WWP leaders Monica
Moorehead from New York and John Parker from Los Angeles
and, as a guest speaker, Pam Africa of the International
Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

It was announced that the party was preparing to run
Moorehead and Gloria La Riva as candidates for president and
vice president, respectively, in 2000. WWP has run national
candidates before, and uses its campaigns to bring a
struggle-oriented Marxism to a broad audience. However, in
order to concentrate the party's efforts on the Mumia
struggle, the election campaign will not go into high gear
until later next year.

`PROSPECTS FOR COMMUNISM'

The orientation to put Mumia's case on the very front
burner came after a rich discussion on "Prospects for
communism in the 21st century."

This panel first reviewed the shocking statistics on
workers' lives in the formerly socialist areas of the USSR
and Eastern Europe recently released by UNICEF and other
world organizations. The return of capitalism since 1991 has
brought a disaster similar to a great war or depression. It
has also opened up ferocious struggles for control of
resource-rich territory that have pitted nationalities
against one another.

Capitalism has nothing to offer these workers. So what
does that mean in terms of future political developments?

The view of the speakers was that such intolerable
conditions must invariably lead to struggle, political
consciousness and the revival of a genuine communist
movement. The question is what route this will take, and how
a new leadership will arise.

The speakers on this panel--Judi Cheng, Larry Holmes,
Gloria La Riva, Nancy Mitchell, Shelley Ettinger, Fred
Goldstein, Monica Somocurcio and Leslie Feinberg--brought to
the subject a diversity of struggles and life experiences.
They presented the need for a socialist future from the
perspective of being Black, Latina, Asian or white, women
and men, gay and straight of all ages.

What they had to say was clearly not coming from just one
segment of society, but represented the thinking of workers
from different backgrounds whose ideas had been shaped in
the course of struggling against a variety of injustices and
oppressions.

The speakers showed a realistic appreciation of what it
means to be in the belly of the beast; but they also could
see the vulnerabilities of U.S. imperialism close up.

Building the class struggle in the U.S.--the theme of a
third panel--went from reports on the special oppression of
immigrants, prisoners, lesbian/gay/bi/trans people and women
to the need for a party to combat the many different forms
of capitalist oppression with one united fist.

This then led into more discussion on the struggle against
imperialism--and its most extreme form, colonialism--as an
extension of the fight at home. Talks by Berta Joubert-Ceci
and Rebeca Toledo went over the struggle in Puerto Rico,
which comes out of U.S. imperialism's 100 years of colonial
rule there, but is also spurred on by the renewed military
activity of Washington around the world. The U.S. Navy uses
the beautiful Puerto Rican island of Vieques for target
practice, leading to the death of a civilian worker there
this year.

The movement to get the Navy out of Vieques has become
massive. A message to the conference from Jorge Farinacci,
leader of the Socialist Front of Puerto Rico, expressed
solidarity with WWP based on the party's long history of
support for the Puerto Rican struggle.

Party members Pat Chin, Richard Becker, Sara Flounders,
John Catalinotto, and Sarah Sloan have traveled to Africa,
the Middle East and Europe in a campaign to end sanctions
and stop the wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia. They reported on
the political situation abroad and told how progressives in
the rest of the world are heartened by the existence of a
fighting anti-imperialist movement in the United States.

The conference broke up into workshops twice over the
weekend to give everyone a chance to participate in the
discussion. When it was over, everyone headed back to their
home cities loaded down with new literature, videos,
leaflets, t-shirts and plenty to think about as they get
ready for the struggles ahead.

                         - END -

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