"The revolution has always been in the hands of the young. The young always inherit the revolution." - Huey P. Newton

Response to Joe Sims’ Open Letter, “Patriotism, the national question and the Leninist tradition

image

Response to Joe Sims’ Open Letter, “Patriotism, the national question and the Leninist tradition”

By the Southern California Young Communist League

In reading the lengthy response authored by a member of the CPUSA national staff Joe Sims, newly appointed Party and Social Media Coordinator, to the article written and published by the Southern California Young Communist League (SoCal YCL) titled “No Room for Patriotism in Capitalism-Imperialism-Colonialism” published on July 4, 2014, we have agreed to address the key points made by comrade Sims.

Comrade Sims originally emailed selected members of the SoCal YCL and CC’d selected CPUSA members. Later on, he edited his response for publication on the CPUSA’s website on Aug.25, 2014.

We see the main points from comrade Sims’ original open letter as follows: 1.) U.S. working-class multi-ethnic patriotism is good and necessary, 2.) echoing W.E.B. DuBois’ argument, toward the end of his life, that people of African descent in the U.S. do not constitute a nation nor have a cohesive cultural unity, 3.) the continued use of “violent” symbolism and imagery by the SoCal YCL, and 4.) that we are promoting divergent views to the CPUSA platform/program and must stop.

Before going into the meat of these issues and our political disagreements, we have to say the following: We have nothing but love for our comrades in the CPUSA, from the rank-and-file due-paying members, new and old, to the staff in national and regional leadership, which includes comrade Sims. We have always understood ourselves as not only belonging to a family of activists actively engaging in fighting for just reforms and wide variety of social justice issues, but that we also belong to an historic and international communist movement.

But comrade Sims is correct. We do have a difference of opinions and political views. However, is this enough to resort to meeting with representatives of the national committee of the CPUSA (which they repeatedly call for), and publishing a public statement against our positions? We think not.

The SoCal YCL has not once ever drafted an open letter to any standing member of the CPUSA, from local or national positions. Where we have had difference of opinions, we have respected our elders. Nothing we have actively organized around has been hostile to the CPUSA. In spite of our difference between national and local officers, we have never resorted to publicly calling out our fraternal organization and comrades.

What comrade Sims did is the opposite of what we have consistently done: exercised professionalism, comradeship and a respect for different opinions.

Ironically, what comrade Sims accuses us of doing is what he himself is guilty of doing; of utilizing an organizational platform to pitch a divergent or personal view that seeks to divide or challenge a group’s political line (us, the youth from Southern California).

But why? If what we believe is wrong, why not just keep to personal correspondence? Certain members of the SoCal YCL did engage with comrade Sims on Facebook briefly. Why not continue in this fashion?

Comrade Sims accuses certain SoCal YCL members of taking advantage of the SoCal YCL website and authority in perpetuating ideological breaks from the CPUSA. We say no; we’ve only been acting as communists, as Marxists-Leninists who uphold the tradition of supporting oppressed nations right to self-determination and liberation, which Lenin as well as others, clearly wrote about. But national liberation has now become something that comrade Sims believes is not fitting with his “Marxism-Leninism.”

But let us address the core four main points we wish to address.

image

Patriotism within the U.S.: ‘What is it Good for? Absolutely Nothing!

Firstly, comrade Sims correctly lists several diverse class and democratic struggles in the U.S. that fought and won many reforms, from the women suffrage movement, from labor organizing, strikes, the Scottsboro defense, the International Brigades in Spain, and so on.

Yes, the U.S. has a great history of social justice. It has to. Wherever there is oppression and injustice, communists and other people of conscience have an obligation to organize and fight for justice, however they can, wherever they can.

None of that contradicts our initial premise in our July 4 article on the wrongness of upholding U.S. patriotism for oppressed people within the U.S. Furthermore, to hold up patriotism and U.S. flag as a symbol that can be won back, appropriated, by the multi-ethnic working class is far too simplistic and negates all the nuances of conflicts within the U.S. as a settler-colonialist imperialist power.

Comrade Sims goes on to assume and quote us out of context that we are of the mindset that white people are generally the ones to blame as “chief perpetrators” for most of the injustices in the U.S.

We have long held that racism and genocide was a disaster for all, including white people. We have contended further that the chief perpetrator is the ruling class - not   “white men and to a lesser extent white women” in general.  In addition, we have maintained that the struggle against these evils is in the self interest of all working people including white workers who have a particular responsibility in combating it.”

We agree with comrade Sims in this point. The enemy is not white people. It’s the ruling class. But nowhere in any of our articles, statements or position work have we made an analysis contrary to that.

However, what comes off as strange and insensitive is in saying that the genocide was also a disaster for white people. It’s as if to say that the indigenous genocide was not enough in and of itself to condone.

And what of the U.S. flag?

Let us speak clearly: the U.S. flag is a symbol of settler-colonialism, of imperialism, of slavery, of racism, of sexism, of global conquest; although great reformist battles have been won under that flag, it is beyond salvageable.  

For example, if we were living in Nazi Germany where scores of people are being oppressed and killed, even if we had comfortable jobs and lives, making a decent living, would we unite with the broad population of Nazi Germany for the sake of forming a “peoples’ coalition?” Of course not. It is uncalled for, untimely, incorrect.  We would aim to tear down those fascists in power, to aid those who suffer the most under the fascist boot of Nazi Germany to liberate themselves and free the country from the fascists, as did the Russians under Stalin, as did the resistance movements in France, Germany and other fascist occupied territories.

Additionally, would we recapture the Swastika (although its origins are found in Buddhist and native cultures) and make it our own, saying that it actually stands for all the good of Germany (and not the bad) and its broad working class? Absolutely not. Some symbols are so stained by blood that they deserve to only be buried.

Secondly, comrade Sims says that the American working class ought to utilize U.S. patriotism in their favor as a bastion of class and country solidarity. But what this essentially does is call for a hurried race to embrace assimilation and integration into a white supremacist capitalist system without the needed analysis and strategy of dismantling its structures.   

Surely comrade Sims and others don’t claim to live in a post-racial society.

In order to properly combat racism, one must study colonialism and white supremacy. In doing so, the history of America lays bare the historical injustices that probably don’t bear repeating; genocide, conquest, colonization and imperialism.

The SoCal YCL still holds firmly onto the argument that the U.S. is comprised of oppressed nations, oppressed nationalities, as well as exploited workers and other marginalized people.

We must not forget what Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others have written and analyzed before our time on international proletarian solidarity, but also of colonialism.

Not only is it understandable for colonized people to burn the flag of their colonizer and denounce their oppressive existence, it’s correct.

If communists celebrated the national liberation movements of Nicaragua, El Salvador, South Africa, Ghana, Haiti and other formerly colonized nations, why then should our support stop for the people of African descent, a people removed from the African continent, and the indigenous people of this continent?

As Lenin described Czarist Russia as a “prison of peoples” in “The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination,” one cannot but help to see the similarities of Czarist Russia and the U.S.:

“Russia is a prison of peoples, not only because of the military-feudal character of tsarism and not only because the Great-Russian bourgeoisie support tsarism, but also because the Polish, etc., bourgeoisie have sacrificed the freedom of nations and democracy in general for the interests of capitalist expansion. The Russian proletariat cannot march at the head of the people towards a victorious democratic revolution (which is its immediate task), or fight alongside its brothers, the proletarians of Europe, for a socialist revolution, without immediately demanding, fully and [unreservedly], for all nations oppressed by tsarism, the freedom to secede from Russia. This we demand, not independently of our revolutionary struggle for socialism, but because this struggle will remain a hollow phrase if it is not linked up with a revolutionary approach to all questions of democracy, including the national question. We demand freedom of self-determination, i.e., independence, i.e., freedom of secession for the oppressed nations, not because we have dreamt of splitting up the country economically, or of the ideal of small states, but, on the contrary, because we want large states and the closer unity and even fusion of   nations, only on a truly democratic, truly internationalist basis, which is inconceivable without the freedom to secede. Just as Marx, in 1869, demanded the separation of Ireland, not for a split between Ireland and Britain, but for a subsequent free union between them, not so as to secure “justice for Ireland”, but in the interests of the revolutionary struggle of the British proletariat, we in the same way consider the refusal of Russian socialists to demand freedom of self-determination for nations, in the sense we have indicated above, to be a direct betrayal of democracy, internationalism and socialism.”

But specifically on the issue of U.S., as a nation made up of multiple nations, what of U.S. patriotism?

Again, we reaffirm our commitment to, as Lenin also calls for, for all oppressed and colonized peoples to fight for independence. Lenin would not have, and did not, call on oppressed people within Russia to raise the banner of Russia.

Patriotism in the U.S. has only a couple of uses. One use is to uncritically mask the history of the U.S. and mistakenly, with a broad stroke, seek to homogenize all working people in the U.S. This is not reality. This is wishful thinking. Class division indeed make up the U.S., and all countries of the developed and conquered world, but there exists colonization, still; and our task is to fight side-by-side in aiding these people to liberate themselves, even if it means within the U.S. The other use of U.S. patriotism is to build the ideological and broad-base support for imperialism.

The SoCal YCL has called for and continue to call for a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-nation, multi-gender and diverse coalition to aid one another’s movements, especially liberatory movements. Once again, we do not view this as contradictory to Marxism or Marxism-Leninism.

When comrade Sims mentioned that the SoCal YCL should know better because of all the YCL and Party schools we have attended, we answer that although we appreciate being part of all these learning experiences, we didn’t learn about U.S. colonization, national liberation, the self-determination of nations and of the complicated and historical legacy of racism in the U.S.

And so as communists and avid Marxist students, we took it upon ourselves to continue our learning, in theory and practice. It was in reading Lenin and the National Question that made it clear that places like Russia, Canada, the U.S. and in a lot of developed or developing countries there exists multiple nations. We see Chicanos/Natives as an example of an oppressed nation; we also see people of African descent, as people forced on to U.S. territory and developing a nation predominantly in the south (the Black Belt) as a means of survival and adaptability. The call made by early black nationalists such as Marcus Garvey of a return to Africa or at the very least of Black autonomy echoes with reason, even if ignited by desperation and survivability.

But comrade Sims says that the inevitable march of history within the U.S. is moving in a direction of people of color becoming the majority:

“Even the demographics shows this: by 2050 people of color will be in the majority. Will this majority cast off not only their right to citizenship but also to the untold wealth stolen from their labor not only by the racist wage differential but also sub-prime swindles and wage theft? Clearly movement is not in this direction.”

Unfortunately, history and the nature of white supremacy, show us that an oppressed people integrated, assimilated, will still be oppressed. The guardians of capital and the white supremacist structures and institutions of the U.S. will allow people of color representation, namely the election of Obama and other affluent people of color into positions of power. This does not mean that representation, or a majority alone, will automatically lead to a homogeneous movement for a consensus of social change.

Each of us, as colonized and oppressed people, have several major battles to overcome - one of which is fighting against internalized colonization. We are so thoroughly colonized that fellow oppressed people actually take part in the perpetual domination, oppression and exploitation, whether in government, law enforcement, the criminal justice system or the military industrial complex. But capitalism, and its pitting of people against each other with limited economic and social mobility opportunities, is the engine that drives this contradiction. Colonization is the fuel.

image

W.E.B. DuBois and the Black Nation Thesis (Again)

Comrade Sims uses a quote from W.E.B. DuBois’ 1953 article published in Paul Robeson’s magazine, Freedom, republished in Political Affairs in Feb. 13, 20017, in which DuBois refutes the black nation thesis by saying that due to primarily two factors, 1.) the Great Migration and 2.) a lack of cultural unity, that people of African descent in the U.S. do not constitute a nation.

Firstly, we have to point out that DuBois was not always of the opinion that people of African descent in the U.S. do not belong to a nation; this was only later adopted by DuBois toward the latter part of his life.

In 1934, W.E.B. DuBois delivered his resignation speech to the very group he help to found, the NAACP, titled, “A Negro Nation within a Nation,” in which he explains early on the survivalist reasoning for Black autonomy (for the Negro nation):

“It may be said that this matter of a nation within a nation has already been partially accomplished in the organization of the Negro church, the Negro school and the Negro retail business, and despite all the justly due criticism, the result has been astonishing.  The great majority of American Negroes are divided not only for religious but for a large number of social purposes into self-supporting economic units, self-governed, self-directed.  The greatest difficulty is that these organizations have no logical and reasonable standards and do not attract the fines, most vigorous and best educated Negroes.  When all these things are taken into consideration it becomes clearer to more and more American Negroes that, through voluntary and increased segregation, by careful autonomy and planned economic organization, they may build so strong and efficient a unit that twelve million men can no longer be refused fellowship and equality in the United States.”

On this question, that of the national question, it’s important to understand diasporas and mass migration. And, yes, the much of the black nation is dispersed within the U.S. We only take this position, this analysis, because we see hundreds of people of African descent being killed (Ezell Ford, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Dante Parker, and so on), discriminated against and systematically annihilated in this multi-ethnic country just as DuBois and countless other intellectuals and leaders also have. If the masses of African descent were to reclaim their own nation within the u.s. territory, it is in their right. And, frankly, it’s understandable. It appears as if since 1619, since the arrival of the stolen people of African to Jamestown, it’s been nothing but a prolonged and normalized genocide for people of African descent.

On the question of oppressor nation and oppressed nation, it should not be disregarded as outdated, outmoded or incorrect. Contemporary groups, scholars, activists and community members continue to uphold the analysis that people of African descent within the North American territory (Canada, U.S. and Mexico) constitute a colonized people, while certainly not bound to chattel slavery, nonetheless appearing to still struggle with a colonized reality. The African people were violently torn from their continent, displaced throughout the world, including the U.S. Although dispersed, no one can argue that they cease to be African. Rather, there was a concentrated, vicious and super-profit-motivated attempt in destroying the African nation.

To this day, several groups and organizations still lay claim to the black nation thesis. One such group is the African People’s Socialist Party and its Revolutionary National Democratic Program (RNDP), which states:

“The RNDP recognizes that the primary, most dynamic contradiction in the world today is the contradiction between oppressed and oppressor nations. It understands that the United States of North America and its citizens constitute an oppressor nation state that holds a substantial sector of the African population as part of a colonially oppressed nation. As a colonized people inside the U.S. since the time of enslavement, African people long for total liberation and the ability to join humanity as a free nation, equal among other free peoples of the world.”

Additionally, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement shares commonalities with this thesis and approach:

“The United States of America, as both a state and a criminal enterprise, has proven time and time again throughout its entire 238-year history that where Black people are concerned, genocide is the order of the day. The mass extrajudicial killings of Blacks aren’t just the result of rogue police officers and crazed racist vigilantes; it is a state sponsored program of containment designed to keep the Black nation in a position of subservience and subjugation to the White settler colonial nation.

The United States Government and the vast reactionary sector of the settler colonial nation who’s [sic] interests it was designed to represent, has been engaged in a war on Afrikan people from the time of its inception to the present day. The United States Government continues to lose legitimacy through its actions against our people. Through its refusal to address the ongoing human rights violations against the Black Nation the United States has shown itself to be the perpetual facilitator of the suffering of the Black Nation.”  

When the claim is made, as was done by comrade Sims, that one of the major criteria left out in constituting a nation by people of African descent in the U.S. is that of territory, we only have to look to the first European settler-colonialists in what was later called Provincetown, Massachusetts (but the Wampanoag Nation simply called it their home, their territory prior to 1616). No one can say that the European settler-colonialists did not form a nation, one which still exists today. We call it the United States of America. But this nation was built upon several nations, all of which are indigenous. 

Tragically, nations can be built upon already-established nations. 

Why, then, do people, in particular radical activists (even a wide variety of Marxists), claim that people of African descent don’t constitute a nation because a lack of common territory. White settlers spread everywhere, and in some areas they barely exist in population, but yet we still say they constitute a nation. The issue of territory tied to the definition of a nation is of course accurate, but it is one of the many damages leftover from colonization. Nations exist free from colonized borders. Therefore, people of common language, territory, economic life and common psychological make-up (as defined in Stalin’s “Marxism and the National Question”) can very well exist atop other nations - as is the case for the U.S.

Utilizing the logic of the European settler-colonialist nation existing, still, in the U.S., one can’t but help use the same logic to fulfill the criteria and defense of the existence of the Black nation.

image

Revolutionary Symbolism as “Violent” (Again)

One of the points made by comrade Sims has actually been made by other CPUSA members in local and national leadership against the usage of certain symbols, language, pictures and culture by the SoCal YCL.

We have been accused of romanticizing violence, of decontextualizing revolutionary movements, of glorifying armed struggle, of even placing it as the “highest form of struggle.”

As was mentioned in an earlier article, titled “White Chauvinism or Marxism-Leninism?” published on the SoCal YCL website, in which a member’s article for the 30th National Party Convention was denied due to a perceived violation of the guidelines (which we, in fact, did not violate):

“Need we remind comrades that the history of Latin America is a history of violence. With is long history of capitalist abuses and military dictatorships, our people cannot deny the working class men and women militants that died in the direct struggle for national liberation and working class emancipation from imperialism. To deny us our history and dismiss it as irrelevant to the present-day consciousness of American workers is not only racist, but smacks of American Exceptionalism. Especially when the fastest growing members of the working class are of Latin American descent (in Los Angeles Latin Americans are the majority).”

The history of revolutionary movements worldwide, but in particular in the indigenous territory of Latin America, by indigenous revolutionaries, was not violent; it was liberatory resistance.

But, let us suspend this reality and embark in the logic that upholding revolutionary symbolism of past struggles is damaging or violent, then what’s to stop that logic from defending the argument against taking down all the Che posters that comrades post up on their office or dorm walls? What of Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez? What of Farabundo Martí, Augusto Sandino, Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata, Harriet Tubman with her rifle, Nat Turner, Huey P. Newton, Malcolm X and countless other black and brown brothers and sisters who gave their lives for freedom and the liberation of their people?

Surely, the CPUSA would not have the arrogance to disregard this as ultraleftism.

And what of the forever-tarnished-and-feared hammer and sickle? Do we, then, open up a debate on burying its usage since people associate murder and repression with it? Of course not. Imperialist history is against us, against communist revolutionaries. We cannot, should not, organize from a political platform of accommodation. We are supposed to be marginalized. Our ideas are supposed to be nearly illegal. We want revolution. The status quo cannot allow that to go uncheck.

Naturally, to be a communist in the U.S. is to strike up almost all contradictions. It is to exist as a challenge to U.S. capitalism and cultural hegemony. And we accept that task.

image

On Divergent Views from the Party

Lastly, comrade Sims has made the point that we are not only YCL members but some of us in the SoCal YCL are also CPUSA members. This is true. He goes on to say that we are acting as representatives of the CPUSA, and in publishing articles contradictory to the CPUSA political line, we are acting hostile to Party unity.

To this we say that we have not once utilized Party platforms, online or offline, to spread information that would be harmful or hurtful to the Party. We have only utilized SoCal YCL platforms, intentionally so. We, once again, do not hold any hard feelings to the CPUSA organization or its organs of communication. We act, as is our right to do so, independently, from the CPUSA. We act with autonomy yet a comradely shared approach in building young revolutionaries within the U.S. This, historically, has been the purpose of the YCL; to build a revolutionary political line and develop Marxist cadre to inherit the revolutionary communist movement. We don’t work against this.

We are only acting as communists, as Marxists, as Marxists-Leninists, and respectfully without inciting attacks on fellow comrades. Several Party members, unfortunately, on the other hand, are guilty of making personal attacks or hostile and condescending attacks to members of the SoCal YCL or as a whole.

In spite of almost-constant attacks by CPUSA members, both locally and nationally, on our Young Communist League chapter in Southern California, we have acted with restraint and professionalism. We do not seek to fan the flames of sectarianism, as many before us are guilty of doing. No, we wish to build young communist leaders to inherit the revolution. We are urgent in this.

Lastly, we once again urge our comrades in the Party to please respect our autonomy and independence as a Young Communist League chapter who has not been guilty of anything other than exploring and defending our own autonomous political opinions. Allow us the right to exist as a cohesive youth group whose aim and purpose is not contradictory to the Party or the international communist movement.

The SoCal YCL will continue its task in building a youth cadre, both in theory and in practice, with a focus on national liberation, with an intentional effort in building with communities of color, with a strategy for proletarian revolution.

Comradely,

The Southern California Young Communist League

‘We Were Never Meant to Survive’: A Statement on Police Violence, Hate Violence, and Anti-Black Racism | Audre Lorde Project

audrelordeproject:

‘We Were Never Meant to Survive’:
A Statement on Police Violence, Hate Violence, and Anti-Black Racism
August 19, 2014

By TransJustice and the Safe OUTside the System Collective 
of The Audre Lorde Project 

“and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive”

- Audre Lorde 

In the past two months, we have been outraged and deeply saddened by the murders and brutalization of Trans women of color Tiffany Edwards, Zoraida Reyes, Mia Henderson, Kandy Hall, and Yaz’Min Shancez; the violence targeting cisgender (non-trans) women of color Renisha McBride, Ersula Ore, Stephanie Maldonado, Kathryn Johnston, and Marlene Pinnock;and the violent murders of cisgender Black men and men of color including Mike Brown and Eric Garner, and Trayvon Martin,to name only a few in a long list of hateful deaths that continues to grow.We are also deeply upset by the recent attack, and subsequent viral YouTube video, of a Black Trans Woman at the Franklin Avenue subway platform while countless people, including an MTA employee, refused to intervene and stop the violence.

What makes this even more infuriating is the fact that we know that we cannot even begin to name or know all of the people who have been victims to police, hate, racist and anti-black violence.

We send our love and support to all of the communities who are surviving and healing through these racist, transphobic and sexist attacks, and we are with you in spirit as we continue the struggle for justice. 

In light of all of these recent occurrences we especially want to acknowledge and commemorate the one year anniversary of the death of Islan Nettles, who was brutally beaten by community members across the street from a police precinct in Harlem, on August 17, 2013. We recognize that in the wake of all this violence it is a critical moment to move beyond political/racial/gender borders and consider how to build collective safety for all of our communities.  As the Audre Lorde Project, an organizing center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color (POC) we believe all bodies are valuable and that no one is expendable.  We believe that in order to build safety we must transform the root causes and conditions that contribute to and justify the senseless police violence, hate violence, racist, anti-immigrant and anti-black violence that persists against our communities. 

We are outraged that the accountability and justice that our communities deserve for these, and countless other instances of hate and police violence, have been consistently and without fail denied to our communities. We also want to name that the majority of the people who experience this hate and police violence are predominantly Black and Latin@ which is directly connected to heightened anti-Black and anti-Immigrant violence targeting our communities.  Hate violence and police violence are deeply rooted in a historical legacy of systemic racism, population control, homophobia, xenophobia (fear of all people of color and indigenous communities, particularly immigrants), and transphobia.  We believe police violence and hate violence are an extension of all systems of exploitation and slavery that have been used to criminalize our communities and police our right to gender/self determination, agency, and survival.   

As an organizing center for LGBTSTGNC POC in New York City, and in our greater movements for racial and economic freedom, we feel it is our responsibility and duty to make the connections between the murders of Black and Latin@ Trans women, the arrests and violations against LGBTQ youth of color, and the violent sexual and physical attacks against Trans men and women of color are an extension of the same conditions and systemic oppression.

These violent attacks lead to the brutalizing violence of (Non-Trans) men andwomen of color, and the detentions and deportations of immigrants of color. These systems were created and built under the false pretense of ‘protect and serve’ but instead are used to control and target our livelihood based on our race, physical ability, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, economic status and citizenship.    

The solutions to these acts of violence cannot be found within the very systems that are brutalizing and murdering our people. As Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans, and Gender Non Conforming People of color, we are very aware that these systems were built to tear us down.  We are committed to and continue to heal, lift up, and organize against all forms of hate, communal and police violence, and genocide.  We know that we have the power, the resilience, and the strength to transform this culture of violence which regards our communities expendable, invisible, and dangerous.   

In the words of Audre Lorde, ‘We were never meant to survive.’  Our survival, our continued resilience, our continued efforts for social justice are direct threats and challenges to systemic oppressions. We must, at all costs, do whatever we can to lift up and protect one another in our interconnected struggles for liberation.

Please Join us on Saturday, August 23rd from 11:00am until 3:00pm in the LGBTQ Contingent for the ‘We Will Not go Back March and Rally’,which is being organized by the National Action Network and Eric Garner’s family. For more information, please check out the facebook page and the website below or contact Lee at FIERCE Lee@fiercenyc.org.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1512923178942814/ 

http://nationalactionnetwork.net/wewillnotgoback/

Also, join us for the 4th Annual Bed-Stuy Pride!

https://www.facebook.com/events/666641756739391/

On September 7th, 2014 the Safe OUTside the System collective of the Audre Lorde Project will hold the 4th Annual Bed-Stuy Pride to honor the history and resilience of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) people of color communities in Central Brooklyn. We call on all LGBTSTGNC people of color and allies in Central Brooklyn to join us in visioning a safe Bed-Stuy rooted in community accountability 

(via semanticearth-community)

"Which Way Home" movie showing Saturday, Aug. 9 at 6 p.m.


The Southern California Young Communist League (SoCal YCL) and the Juventud Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (JFMLN) proudly present in its first in a series of film presentations:

"Which Way Home"

"Which Way Home," shows the side of the immigration narrative of young Central American children traveling dangerously through several countries, through Mexico, and eventually getting to the U.S. - a journey that, sadly, many don’t survive.

From the website, “As the United States continues to build a wall between itself and Mexico, Which Way Home shows the personal side of immigration through the eyes of children who face harrowing dangers with enormous courage and resourcefulness as they endeavor to make it to the United States.

The film follows several unaccompanied child migrants as they journey through Mexico en route to the U.S. on a freight train they call “The Beast.” Director Rebecca Cammisa (Sister Helen) tracks the stories of children like Olga and Freddy, nine-year-old Hondurans who are desperately trying to reach their families in Minnesota, and Jose, a ten-year-old El Salvadoran who has been abandoned by smugglers and ends up alone in a Mexican detention center, and focuses on Kevin, a canny, streetwise 14-year-old Honduran, whose mother hopes that he will reach New York City and send money back to his family. These are stories of hope and courage, disappointment and sorrow.

They are the ones you never hear about – the invisible ones.”

http://whichwayhome.net/about.html

We need to understand the economical, political and social underworkings of mass immigration. It’s not a simple matter of “just trying to find the American dream; no, many people - especially Central Americans - are pushed *and pulled* into coming to the U.S. because of the very meddling of this imperialist government via government-backed dictatorships, funding counter-revolutionaries and neoliberalism.

Join us Saturday, Aug. 9 at La Casa Roja at p.m. in watching this film and building from the dialogue afterward.

1251 S. Saint Andrews Pl,
Los Angeles, CA 90019

For Facebook event page, click here.

midnitesurprise:

a recent commission. Was only given the phrase “Soviet Anime Squad” to work with.
View high resolution

midnitesurprise:

a recent commission. Was only given the phrase “Soviet Anime Squad” to work with.

Statement against Israeli war on Gaza

Southern California Young Communist League Statement on the Israeli war on Gaza

After heavy Israeli bombing on Gaza argued as retaliation for the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers, the Israeli cabinet voted to accept a ceasefire after a deal was brokered between Israel and U.S.-allied Egypt—without consulting Hamas or any other Palestinian representation.

The Southern California Young Communist League (SoCal YCL) strongly condemns the ceasefire discussion between Egypt and Israel while deliberately ignoring Hamas or any other Palestinian voice. We also strongly condemn the bombing of Gaza in supposed retaliation for the killing of three Israeli teenagers, which there was no investigation or trial. This was used as merely another premise for Israel to act with aggression toward the Palestinians.

As of July 17, there have been more than 220 deaths in Gaza with more than 1,400 injured as a result of the bombing, according to news reports and the UN. Approximately 80 percent of these deaths and injuries are Palestinian civilians. There have been reports of only one Israeli fatality thus far.

Contrary to Zionist and Zionist-apologist media, Israel is not strategically attacking Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets. They are attacking areas in Gaza to result in as much death as possible with little remorse or concern, in spite of global outcry. As the infamous war criminal Israeli General Moshe Dayan has famously said in the past, “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” This is Israel’s very nature of supposed self-defense.

The apartheid state of Israel is one of the world’s leading purveyors of contemporary crimes against humanity and perpetuating genocide against indigenous people, the Palestinians.

This isn’t a war. This isn’t an issue of retaliation and equal peace on both sides. This is an Israeli blitzkrieg on the smaller, less prepared, less armed, densely populated, ill-equipped and oppressed and colonized people of Gaza.

Pictures, video and stories of slain Gazans have surfaced all over social media—arguably the only outlet where Pro-Israeli propaganda doesn’t drown out the suffering of the Palestinians. Family members are seen carrying the remains of their loved ones, crying out for peace and justice.

But perhaps the most disturbing image, one of the most disturbing scenes, was devoid of a single drop of blood, devoid of a single slain Palestinian body. It was a picture taken by Allan Sørensen, Middle Eastern correspondent for Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagbladof. The photo shows Israelis in Sderot, which sits less than a mile from Gaza, gathering at a hilltop celebrating, clapping and eating popcorn at bright lights in the sky and fiery explosions in the distance. Each flash of light, each blast, is a bomb killing Gazans.

This is the true nature of the conflict where Palestinians are dehumanized into acceptable collateral damage, acceptable statistics of the dead and injured in the name of protecting Israel.

The SoCal YCL stands with the people of Gaza and all Palestinians who struggle to fight for freedom, for peace and for liberation by any means necessary. We support the Gazans and all other Palestinians right to self-defense and self-determination. We support the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) ongoing armed struggle against Zionist aggression and settler-colonialism.

Victory against Zionism! 

No room for patriotism in capitalism-imperialism-colonialism

image


No room for patriotism in capitalism-imperialism-colonialism

By the Southern California Young Communist League

Every year people in the United States come together to celebrate the Fourth of July, this country’s independence from British rule, this country’s white men—and to a lesser extent white women—independence from British rule, this country’s occupying white patriarchal settler-colonialist independence from British rule. The indigenous people of this territory were not asked as to whether they considered their land under British control, but they found out quite immediately with the full weight of history what that would mean for their people later on.

Many authors of non-European descent have eloquently posed the critique and question of American independence: what about people of African descent, what of the immigrants from vast Asia and the islands of the Pacific and of course what of the indigenous people of the Americas?

Arguably perhaps one of the best responses from a person of color to American patriotism, in speaking specifically on the issue of this country’s independence, Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852, delivered the historical speech to the Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

And while scholars, critics and patriots are quick to say that Douglass’ speech, which highlighted the criminal hypocrisy of a nation supposedly founded on the values of justice and liberty which has committed genocide and chattel slavery (among other crimes which we shall address later on), he defends the potential idea of the U.S. Constitution as a “glorious liberty document.”

Notwithstanding, yes, the Constitution can be a source of great liberty and freedoms. But, like most things under Western power structures, they are monopolized by a special class of men, of traditionally white, property-owning, cisgender, heterosexual men.

In the speech Douglass writes:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants,       brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

For the complete speech, you can read it here.

As politically conscious and active people in the United States it might appear that we are in a difficult position, to say the least. But as communists, as Marxists-Leninists, as anti-imperialists, studying Lenin’s work on imperialism laid out in Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism, with a guiding analysis of world division and domination by competing powers, we find ground, we find our tasks, in our agreement with his thesis.

Nonetheless, the most powerful imperialist nation in the world is the U.S. So what does that mean for us, for our strategy and analyses, for the ones inside the belly of the beast?

Oppressor and oppressed nations

image

First and foremost it is important to start off with the distinction of oppressed and oppressor nations. Simply stated, as all Marxists should be in agreement with but are probably not (which we blame on strong tendencies of revisionism, reformism and American Exceptionalism), as all the great Marxist theoreticians from Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others have argued, the more developed nations, operating with an ever-searching quest for raw materials, natural resources and forms of increasing profit (the natural extension of which is the view of inhabitants/workers of oppressed nations as the very raw material from the standpoint of a capitalist either in the oppressor nation or as part of the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation).

Secondly, the world is divided further-still into several alliances of power with competing fellow oppressor nations. Several nation-states and alliances come into conflict with competing interests, and have always done so (See WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, etc.). Much of the world’s wars and military conflicts are born from this (See: Syria, the Middle East and Africa).

And while workers and exploited people inhabit all nations of the world, those belonging to oppressor nations are at an advantage in many facets to those in oppressed nations. If this sounds rudimentary or boringly basic, we apologize. But this all bears repeating when tackling the question of patriotism and nationalism—which the main purpose of this written piece is to examine this and we will come back to it shortly.

Now, the U.S. is distinct in its nation-statehood for its nature in being an oppressor nation with oppressed nations within it, such as African Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Mexicans/Chicana/os, Puerto Ricans, other people of Latin American descent (which really just means indigenous/native people of non-U.S. territory) and indigenous people to both the territory of the U.S. and also below its border.

While to a narrow-minded Marxist, probably of European descent engulfed with white chauvinism, this may seem daunting, annoying, distracting, divisive or flat-out wrong. But it is not. The tasks of communists, of Marxist-Leninists, is to understand national oppression, in other words the national question.

As pointed out in an article titled “Imperialism and the Integration of Oppressed Nations: Some Comments” published in anti-imperialism.com by Klaas V., the distinct and systemic oppression faced by oppressed people, people of color, is tantamount to new age genocide. And, so, the tasks of revolutionaries in the U.S. is to understand and stand against colonization as the preliminary step in the struggle for liberation. 

“The task of communists in regards to oppressed nations is assisting them in their liberation, forming an independent political force, exposing comprador bourgeois elements as agents of finance capital, and lead the united front against imperialism. Remembering Lenin’s advice, communists must actively support the right of nations to self-determination as a transit point to the overturning of imperialism globally.”

But what of self-determination “of an oppressor nation? Can, or should, communists and other revolutionaries in the U.S. support U.S. patriotism, “nationalism?”

Different circumstances for patriotism

image

Lenin himself, then later on echoed and further developed by Stalin, Mao and others, proclaimed the difference between nationalism of oppressed nations and oppressor nations. In this distinction, Lenin made it clear that there is a priority which has to be given of the proletariat of oppressed nations above the oppressor nations, that of which the proletariat of the oppressed nation must see that proletarian internationalism guides the right for oppressed nations to be able to forge their own path.

Here in Lenin’s 1922 essay, “The Question of Nationalities or “Autonomisation,” he explains the dichotomy and inherit privilege of oppressor nations over oppressed nations:

That is why internationalism on the part of oppressors or “great” nations, as they are called (though they are great only in their violence, only great as bullies), must consist not only in the observance of the formal equality of nations but even in an inequality of the oppressor nation, the great nation, that must make up for the inequality which obtains in actual practice. Anybody who does not understand this has not grasped the real proletarian attitude to the national question, he is still essentially petty bourgeois in his point of view and is, therefore, sure to descend to the bourgeois point of view.

Mao added to this cannon of communist philosophy on national liberation and patriotism by denouncing “narrow patriotism” and “narrow nationalism,” understanding that all countries and nations, oppressed and oppressor, have a tendency to embrace patriotism. But, Mao says in his writings on “Patriotism and Internationalism,” “In the fight for complete liberation the oppressed people rely first of all on their own struggle and then, and only then, on international assistance. The people who have triumphed in their own revolution should help those still struggling for liberation. This is our internationalist duty.”

And, so, we are not proud to be “American,” which is a white European title used to describe assimilated groups within the U.S. Furthermore, as we have argued, we are entitled to this resentment as some of the most oppressed, directly affected people of this oppressive nation-state have the right to be.

While all of us living in the U.S. benefit from Third World exploitation, although none so more than white U.S. citizens, most immediately as consumers, in our analysis we make the distinction between those in power in this country and those under its social-democratic boot.

Some of us in the Southern California Young Communist League met with comrades from the Cuban YCL once upon a time who said that they don’t hate the U.S. They stand and fight against the U.S. ruling forces and the government that protects these interest. They, being well-learned Marxist-Leninists, understand that our government and country is not a representative democracy but an imperialist oligarchy, as widely made known by a Princeton study.

Should U.S. communists be patriotic?

image

Now the question comes down to: can we as communists of oppressed nations within the U.S. hold up U.S. patriotism, while it’s the world’s “greatest” oppressor nation?

The answer is a resounding, unequivocal no.

We hold up the fight for national liberation of every single oppressed nation within the U.S. Communists of color, which is of belonging to oppressed nations, shouldn’t be patriotic for the U.S.

The argument of patriotism and nationalism in oppressed nations is a different argument in places like Cuba, Vietnam, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, India, countries in Africa and all places throughout the world where indigenous peoples fight against invasion, occupation and imperialism. This of course includes the U.S.

Patriotism for the U.S. as the world’s leading oppressor nation is irreconcilable with promoting proletarian internationalism.

We say to oppressed people within the U.S., to all people of color, to all communists of color, to communists belonging to and fighting for oppressed nations, refuse to participate in the celebration of U.S. Independence Day. Renounce all forms of U.S. patriotism! Denounce imperialist military! Fight against cultural hegemony, capitalism, white supremacy and the legacies of colonialism and neocolonialism! Power to all oppressed nations in the U.S! Power to all national liberation movements, in and outside of the U.S!

May each Fourth of July only remind us of the colonization of this continent and the genocide of the indigenous people and enslavement of the African people, and may that embolden us to act with the privilege, with the revolutionary and historic task, of living in the First World and rallying forces of the Third World to fight for their own, our own, liberation.

 image

White Chauvinism or Marxism-Leninism?

DISCLAIMER: With the upcoming 30th National Convention of the Communist Party, USA, (CPUSA) there was a call for articles to be written on issues pertaining to the Party in regard to politics, policy and practice. Several members from local chapters of the Party and Young Communist League submitted articles. Dozens were published. However, an article written by one of our members, Juan Pablo Guevara of the Southern California Young Communist League, was not. The Discussions and Resolutions Committee of the CPUSA refused to publish the article, citing that it “strayed from the guidelines” and the mentioning of fellow comrades acting out in harmful and chauvinistic ways was “casting aspersions.” We replied in saying that in not publishing the article, the Committee is acting as apologists for that very behavior. People of color have a hard time organizing in spaces, including radical ones. When issues of chauvinism come to surface they ought to be dealt with, examined and discussed. If this very basic premise is not respected, it is very troubling and unsafe. We therefore have decided, after a careful and sober analysis, to publish the article in its entirety. We welcome feedback and comments. We, as a democratic organization, strive to operate and be guided by principles of openness and transparency, even if it shows how certain members have negatively behaved. We call each other out because we love the Party, the communist movement and especially those ideals which we fight for. We publish the follow with respect to these ideals and for any people of color in the Party and other radical spaces that have unfortunately dealt with unsafe organizing spaces.


White Chauvinism or Marxism-Leninism?

By Juan Pablo Guevara, Southern California Young Communist League

A spectre is haunting the CPUSA, a spectre of white chauvinism.

It may be hard to fathom that many of our dearest comrades are guilty of perpetuating oppressive attitudes, but it has happened. And we must address it.

With the recent national and local discussions on changing the Party’s name and dropping “Leninism” as part of the CPUSA’s guiding ideology, much has been said. However, the recurring motif for these arguments has been for making our Party more appealing to the American working class.

There are many reasons to why this is problematic and rampant with white chauvinism. Firstly, who is this American working class that proponents of name-change and dropping Leninism are seeking to reach out to? When I see the U.S. working class I see an ever growing population of immigrant/migrant Latinos, people of African descent, and others who come from so-called third world countries. Many of these workers bring with them their national identity and culture. Specifically in Central and South America, where revolutionary movements have played and continue to play a dominant role in contemporary life and in the recent past. Ask a Salvadoran or a Nicaraguan immigrant if he or she acknowledges any of their national heroes, and they would with much certainty say yes and proceed to give you a miniature history lesson.

Additionally, I, like many of us, am in agreement with CPUSA Executive Vice-Chair Jarvis Tyner in his recent article in defense of the Party name and its guiding ideology here.

When we talk about the American working class, let us remember that it is comprised of more than 23 million Latino immigrants. Revolutionary ideology isn’t something that will alienate them. On the contrary, a push toward “Americanizing” the Party may actually dissuade immigrants from joining out of fear of belonging to a predominantly white-led political organization.

Another point that comrades talk about when reaching out to the American working class is that an ideology and culture linked to the Soviet Union and the Cold War is outdated and unnecessary. I would refute that by saying that the premise that we have to distance ourselves from the socialist bloc and Cold War, now 23 years dead, is absurd.

Additionally, regardless of Party name-change or ideological shift, we’re always going to be considered communists. A simple Google search will reveal everything. There’s no room to hide in the 21st Century.

But on the issue of how to better resonate with the American working class, I would suggest we focus more on the political shoulder-to-shoulder struggle of workers and their rights, with an emphasis on immigrant workers, and not so much on the aesthetic of our Party.

It is also important to understand that everything under a capitalist society is a reflection of its values. In other words, the superstructure (e.g. courts, religious institutions, media, schools, etc.) is a direct proponent in the ideological makeup of the masses. It has a powerful influence over culture, particularly its values and beliefs. This dominant culture (ruling class worldview) is then used to justify the political, social, and economic status quo as natural and inescapable. Therefore, what the advocates of “Americanizing” the Party also fail to realize is that Marxism, along with its historical symbolism (e.g. hammer and sickle) and theoretical developments, in its very essence, is the antithesis necessary to defeat capitalism (the base) in order to create a synthesis of proletarian hegemony. This is not obstructive dogmatism, this is dialectics.

But, many comrades will correctly argue that nothing is static; neither is our culture, nor our superstructure or its values. What good, then, is it to focus on preserving the historical symbolism of Marxism and Marxism-Leninism, such as the hotly debated hammer and sickle? Well, for one thing, our base has remained the same—capitalism. So if we are to efficiently combat the base, our economic system, we have to create our own counter-hegemony in order to fight capitalist cultural hegemony. We must create our own superstructure in order to proletarianize the ideological makeup of the masses and wither away any cultural remnants of a society that was built on indigenous genocide and the oppression of people of color.

Whenever anyone calls for the “Americanization” of an organization that claims to fight alongside the oppressed peoples in their nation and abroad, we should consider the following about him or her: 1) Motives 2) Justifications 3) Childhood 4) Family background 5) Ethnicity. We can pretend that these factors are extraneous and perhaps even unimportant, but on the contrary, these are the personal and background factors that influence our views about politics and the government; this is part of our political socialization. For example, it is easier for a person of European descent to advocate for and embrace American culture, values, traditions, and history. In fact, this is part of having “white privilege(s)” such as being born into a multi-generational naturalized American family, seeing people of your ethnicity widely represented in society, and learning about a national heritage or a “civilization” that was built by people of your color. So it is no coincidence that those who are the most vocal about Americanizing our Party are generally of European descent, and in various cases, it has come off as either white chauvinism, culturally insensitive, or racist.

In 2013, we (Southern California Young Communist League) had someone from the Party National visit our YCL commune located in Skid Row, Los Angeles. As revolutionary young people of color we naturally set the decor of our commune to appeal to our revolutionary ideologies and cultural backgrounds (family origins) which included posters, murals, and photographs of national liberation movements from El Salvador, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. Upon arrival, our visitor from National proceeded to tell us that he felt as if though we were stuck in a different era. Although we declined to refute his comment at the time out of indiscriminate feelings of respect for an elder who is supposed to have more experience and knowledge than us, we later concluded that his comments were unnecessary, disrespectful, and culturally insensitive.

Enough time has passed now that I can express how uncomfortable this comment made us feel. For those who think that the images of national liberation heroes of Latin America, such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Farabundo Marti, Emiliano Zapata, Augusto Sandino and others are outdated, you have to understand how incredibly offensive and chauvinistic that sounds. We do not display these images on our clothing, inside our homes, or on our murals out of romantic nostalgia for war, but rather as reverence for our fallen heroes who fought against colonialism for the right to self-determination.

In 2014, the Southern California Young Communist League has recently undergone aggressive attacks by a member of the Southern California Communist Party. These attacks were made by a white comrade who felt that the Southern California YCL use of images of Latin American national liberation fighters were “highly repulsive,” “not representing the day-to-day politics of the CPUSA,” “not corresponding to the present-day consciousness of American workers and probably no other organized sector of the working class anywhere in the world,” and “a cult of romantic revolutionary violence.”

Need we remind comrades that the history of Latin America is a history of violence. With is long history of capitalist abuses and military dictatorships, our people cannot deny the working class men and women militants that died in the direct struggle for national liberation and working class emancipation from imperialism. To deny us our history and dismiss it as irrelevant to the present-day consciousness of American workers is not only racist, but smacks of American Exceptionalism. Especially when the fastest growing members of the working class are of Latin American descent (in Los Angeles Latin Americans are the majority).

I therefore propose that comrades, including our white comrades, stop referring to Marxist-Leninists that uphold the self-determination of oppressed nations as being “radical nationalists” and instead take a mature and sober analysis of the role that Marxism-Leninism has played in national liberation movements of the so-called third world.

Additionally, I propose that we maintain the name Communist Party, USA, keep our international symbol of the hammer and sickle, and uphold Marxism-Leninism because as Salvadoran communist revolutionary Roque Dalton has said, “Marxism-Leninism is, besides being the theory of the proletarian revolution and other things like that, the science of the history of the proletariat.”

Lastly, I urge all of our white comrades to more critically examine their privileges and chauvinism in organizing with your fellow comrades of color.

SoCal YCL Stands with the Zapatistas

The Southern California Young Communist League stands in full support of the Zapatistas and are in solidarity with the important work they do.

Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Jose Luis Solís López, teacher killed in the recent attack and all those affected by it.

We encourage our followers to read the article and support Zapatista solidarity work.

More information regarding how to support the Zs coming soon.

http://www.schoolsforchiapas.org/2014/05/zapatista-teacher-dead/#.U3I3RSBcrAE.facebook

Join us Sunday, May 25 at 6 p.m. at La Casa Roja, The Red House (the Los Angeles Workers’ Center) for a film showing of Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, a film about the mothers and their allies that organized for the disappeared of Argentina during the dictatorship. View high resolution

Join us Sunday, May 25 at 6 p.m. at La Casa Roja, The Red House (the Los Angeles Workers’ Center) for a film showing of Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, a film about the mothers and their allies that organized for the disappeared of Argentina during the dictatorship.