Sunday, November 27, 2011

Racism and Privilege Teach In

Occupy Memphis is still going strong! Caucuses meet periodically (often weekly) and are generally a place where marginalized groups of people can have their voices heard while eliciting direct action not only within Occupy, but throughout Memphis. The Diversity Caucus has organized a teach in on Privilege and Racism scheduled for Tuesday, November 29 7:00 P.M. at the AFCME Local 1733 building at 485 Beale St. Speakers will discuss white privilege, and racism in its structural, institutional, and interpersonal dimensions. They will also address the impact of the history of privilege and racism on our modern-day interactions and society. Following the speakers and a q-and-a, a panel will share their personal experiences of racism. Other Occupy Memphis caucuses include the African-American Caucus, Women's Caucus, Anti-Capitalist Caucus, Homelessness Caucus, and Atheist/Agnostic Caucus. For meeting times, please refer to occupymemphis.org

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy Memphis Anncounces Solidarity Rally

In solidarity with those violently evicted from the Occupy Wall Street encampment this morning, Occupy Memphis will hold a rally this evening (11/15) from 5pm-8pm at Civic Center Plaza. The following statement is taken from Occupy Memphis' website:

"In light of the overnight police raid on Occupy Wall Street, the 99% of Memphis is coming together today in solidarity to show support.

We, the Occupy Memphis General Assembly, are repulsed by the direct infringement on First Amendment rights granted to the American people by the Constitution. We are disgusted with the repressive tactics used by the New York City Police Department. Citizens were assaulted and arrested for practicing their rights. Journalists were blocked by police. Personal property valued at thousands of dollars has been destroyed.

Occupy Memphis will have a rally today at 5 p.m. in Civic Center Plaza to express our anger and disgust with these actions from law enforcement in an effort to stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. While the City of Memphis has stated publicly the right for protesters to assemble as long as they are peaceful, other cities are not as fortunate.

Following our rally at 6 p.m., we will march to the Civil Rights Museum as a tribute to preceding generations who have fought for our rights; the same rights which have been ignored. While we understand the need for peace and safety, it is unlawful to suppress the voice and assembly of citizens who strive for political and social change.

“We need to speak out for people who tried to be silenced,” said Becky Muehling, one of the protesters with Occupy Memphis. “We need to band together, so that we can show the people trying to suppress our free speech: we will fight.”

“We cannot sit idly by as the livelihood and culture of our country is being trashed,” said Tristan Tran, another occupier who watched the Occupy Wall Street raid live online.

If you believe that the First Amendment rights of freedom of assembly, press, and speech exist always and not just between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., stand with us.

If you feel that your voice as a citizen has been suppressed by the power of lobbyists and self-serving politicians, speak out with us.

We invite the communities and city of Memphis to occupy this public space; to voice the issues which affect us; and together create solutions for a better society.

We the people shall speak for ourselves."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

23 Days In, Occupy Memphis Holds Its Ground

On October 15th, Occupy Memphis setup camp in Civic Center Plaza. Occupiers quickly organized a library, a kitchen, supply tents, and sleeping quarters. Members of Occupy Memphis have since organized caucuses to make the local movement more inclusive of diversity as well as committees to handle logistics, sanitation, legal, and other issues facing the local occupation. Occupy Memphis holds General Assembly meetings three times a week. To get involved, visit Occupy Memphis' website: http://occupymemphis.org

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Support Striking Verizon Employees!

At midnight last night Verizon employees with the Communications Workers of America (CWA)and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)went on strike. The unions are in contract negotiations and at the 11th hour Verizon has refused to back off over 100 concessionary items. Find out more about the issues and how you can support the strike here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

AFSCME Local 1733 & Other Public Unions Sue the City

The Memphis SP stands in solidarity with the public workers facing pay cuts and layoffs months after their contracts had been negotiated with the city "in good faith" and agreed upon. Read more about the lawsuit and the privatization issue at Tennessee Labor Coverage.

Monday, June 6, 2011

NO to Privatization! Jobs and Justice NOW!

TOMORROW AT 9:00AM! Stand with the workers of AFSCME 1733 as they face the threat of privatization--this is about jobs, dignity, human rights and the local that Dr. King came to Memphis and died for in 1968. There will be a picket beginning at 9:00am at City Hall, 125 N. Main.

TOMORROW AT 3:00PM! Rally to stop our city council from privatizing sanitation, slashing jobs and hours, and repealing the living wage ordinance.

TOMORROW AT 3:30PM! Tell the city council what your priorities are, and that it is inexcusable to make workers and the poor pay for the crises of capitalism!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Memphis SP Statement on Obama's Commencement Address at BTW High

While Memphians celebrate the victory of Booker T. Washington High School in President Obama’s 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, a critical analysis of the President’s educational policies has been absent from public discussion, despite the fact that schools like BTW could eventually fall victim to the administration’s tacit goal of mass privatization through the President’s market-based “reform” agenda.

Although President Obama’s administration does not use the anti-public education rhetoric of the hard right, he is clear about his ideological alignment with Bush’s No Child Left Behind program. Moreover, Obama’s Race to the Top—a competitive program of corporate school reform that pits public schools and communities against one another for scarce federal funding—is a natural continuation of the neoliberal agenda, which seeks to create a favorable market for profit-driven charter schools by busting teachers’ unions and closing schools in communities reeling from the disastrous effects of global capitalism. Race to the Top ensures that the most vulnerable students will continue to be marginalized as their schools remain underfunded and understaffed, if they remain open at all.

Teachers, students, and parents understand that successful schools have small class sizes, support staff such as teachers’ assistants, nurses, and counselors, and an approach that values a variety of learning opportunities for individual students with different needs and talents. The Obama administration and its corporate partners, however, take a regressive approach that focuses on standardized testing as a measure of student achievement and teacher effectiveness while firing masses of school staff and replacing neighborhood schools with charters, which are unaccountable to communities and no more successful on average than their public counterparts.

However, barriers to providing a quality education for all people will remain in one form or another under any reformist agenda no matter how progressive or student-centered the approach. Education reform will not solve the major problems created or reinforced by global capitalism: poverty, segregation, institutional bigotry, mass unemployment, mass incarceration, labor exploitation and social alienation. The corporate think tanks and foundations responsible for creating and implementing Obama’s educational policies have no interest in educating all students; in order to maintain low wages, low expectations, and high profits, capitalists depend upon a large unemployed population and a much larger population of working poor.

The recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, organized largely by disaffected youth, have provided more concrete evidence for what the capitalists already know: if society provides an education without providing jobs, the people will revolt. The ruling class is much too sophisticated to risk losing power by providing effective education beyond what is necessary for them to continue to develop new consumer products and instruments of war. Until the masses of people on the losing end of this rigged system organize and commit ourselves to a revolutionary restructuring of our social and economic relations, those who write the rules of the game will continue to have access to quality education while the rest of us will continue to be denied that right.

The students of historic BTW will always remember the day that the first black president of the United States delivered their commencement address, but they deserve much more than empty platitudes about hope, change, the “American Dream” or “Equality of Opportunity”—they deserve a future where their children will not have to compete with their sisters and brothers to “win” an education; they deserve a future where their neighborhood is safe and clean, and where all people have a right to engage in meaningful work. This future will not be created for us.

As revolutionary socialists, we believe that workers and the poor have the ability to create a better world than the status quo maintained by the capitalist class—capitalists’ power lies not in god-given mandates or managerial prowess, but only through convincing the people that we are incapable of controlling our own lives. We reject this notion, just as we reject the notion that the solution to the harms inflicted by global capitalism lies in education reform alone. Instead, the situation today compels us to organize ourselves and our communities to create an actual and revolutionary change in socioeconomic relations. Together, there is a world to win and a world to defeat!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

AFSCME Local 1733 Looking For Veterans of the 1968 Sanitation Workers Strike

AFSCME Local 1733, famous for its role in the 1968 sanitation workers strike in Memphis, which Dr. King came to stand in solidarity with when he was gunned down, is looking for workers who participated in the strike. This strike played a pivotal role in the way public sector unions were handled in the South and opened the doors for unions across the region. Let us never forget their contribution, nor let their struggle have been in vain- Union now! Union forever!

You can read more here. Or if you have information on someone who was there call AFSCME Local 1733 at (901) 525-2458.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Day Greetings!

Despite the imminent threat of flooding, thunderstorms, and tornado warnings, Memphis SP folks and comrades held a May Day celebration in solidarity with the working people of the world.

This year was an especially difficult one for labor, but we can celebrate some steps towards victory, such as the working-class movements in Tunisia, Egypt, and throughout the region. We can celebrate the courage of those all over the world who have stood their ground and resisted ruling class efforts to crush solidarity. This year has shown that though the ruling class can beat us, imprison us, starve us, shoot us, and criminalize us, they cannot break the eternal bond that we share as one united working class.

We will learn from our experiences in recent struggles in Wisconsin, Ohio, here in Tennessee, and across the country, and next May Day, we'll celebrate victories wherever the ruling class naively assumes they've prevailed.

Working people from all over the world came together May 1st to celebrate our inspiring history of struggle and to build solidarity in the face of a tough road ahead.
Our future is a certainty.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

May Day Cookout!

Come enjoy the company of friends and fellow workers as we celebrate the achievements of the labor union movement.

Sunday, May 1, 1:30–5:30pm; at The Buccaneer on Monroe

Bring $5 for food!
All proceeds go to the Memphis SP and to legal defense for those arrested at the capitol on March 15! Food and jukebox or dj will start at 2.

We'll be there rain or shine unless there are tornadoes everywhere.

facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=182621788452890

Monday, April 25, 2011

SP Candidate for Charlottesville City Council

Brandon Collins, the Secretary of the Socialist Party of Central Virginia and a National Committee Alternate, has announced plans to run for a position on the Charlottesville City Council. Brandon is a dedicated activist, father, worker, cellist, and socialist, and the Memphis SP wishes Brandon good luck on his campaign. Solidarity!

For information on Brandon's campaign, including his press release, platform, and how to get involved, please visit his site.

Read more from Charlottesville News & Arts.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Introduction to Socialism

The People's Cause

By Elijah Henderson


"The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win." This was the last line from the increasingly famous and controversial Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. Marx and many other men dreamed of a world without exploitation, oppression, inequality, or class hatred. A world in which everyone could have a say in the economic, political, and social decisions that effected them directly and indirectly. A system that developed with hundreds of years that earned the title: Socialism.


This bring me to my next point: what exactly is Socialism? Throughout its years of existence, there have been many divisions within the Socialist movement. But Socialism is the community or state management over the economy. In such a system, the workers would exercise control over farms, factories, banks, stores, and other tools of production and distribution through public enterprise or workers' councils. Socialism will be a society where profit motive is dismantled and democratic control will accommodate it. Incentive will be offered for those who are willing to work for the good of society and the natural eco-systems which it relies on. It will cling to natural resources and live within our finite world with proper and motivated leadership. Socialism will be a society where needed assistance such as health care will be free of charge and accessible to all. Examples of Socialism are Cuba, Vietnam, and Venezuela.


On to my next point: Who are Socialists and what do they believe? Socialists and Communists are some of the most outspoken and misunderstood people in the world. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. Government has been extremely cautious of them. Many blame the cruel events that happened in the Josef Stalin era on Socialists, saying that USSR and China were Socialist countries. But this is not true. Socialism only exists when the people have full control. In reality, Socialists see a revolutionary change in world in the future. And although many of them do not, Socialists tend to have left-wing ideas about the world. Socialists hope to see a new era in which man finally controls the world he lives in. They are proud of their citizenship of the earth, their love for humanity, and their visions vision for a classless society.


Many of you probably have objections towards Socialism. I will give you some objections towards Socialism and then I will answer them. The first one is: Why would I want the government to run the economy? There is a reasonable answer to this. You will never have a say in any corporation. However, you will always have a say in democracy. And now to my next question: Isn't Socialism godless? The answer is very simple: no. Socialism has had a history of secularism. Being secular means not based on based on any religion. And in countries like Cuba, people are free to worship their God without religion belonging in the Government. Here's another question: Isn't Socialism a huge tax burden on everyone? No. Socialism will not require income tax because the government will get its revenues from industry. On to my final question. In Socialism, isn't everyone equal and no one allowed to make more money than anyone else? Socialism is reliant on the idea that "all men are created equal". The system will ensure everyone a decent wage and basic necessities as opposed to equal wages. Instead the workers will share the profits according to need based on democratic control. This will create more incentive for economic growth and success.


On to my next point. How might Socialism be established? Through democratic reform, grassroots activism, or simply the people's decision as a whole. The people must grow tired of belonging to a class-divided system. And ultimately, capitalism will culminate like Marx predicted, calling capitalists "their own grave diggers". This will start with protests for better working conditions, public services, higher wages, and the nationalization of the means of production. People must campaign for freedom from government oppression in the areas of everyday life. Police brutality, phone tapping, homosexual persecution, along with racism and sexism are what Socialists strongly stand against.


Society's evolution is simply not complete. We as humans must understand how and why society operates only for the select few. With this information at hand, we can understand the inequality and class oppression that divides us bitterly. This is a day where millions go without health care, the earth is being polluted, children are being forced to work long hours for little pay. This world is crumbling at the hands of profit-interests. We the people have the power to end these things all over the world. Socialism may very well be the cure to our society's problems. If I haven't made you see differently than I hope you will understand. Thank You.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

SP Comrade Elected to the Detroit Downtown Citizens District Council

Revolutionary Socialist Matt Erard of the Detroit SP has just been elected to a three-year term on Detroit’s Downtown District Citizens’ District Council. In his campaign, Matt committed to "fight for a radically democratic reorientation of our city leadership’s priorities toward an uncompromising dedication to serving and supporting the economic human needs and political struggles of the city’s working class and oppressed majority." The Memphis SP stands in solidarity with Matt and the people of Detroit as they build democracy in their downtown community. Congratulations from your Memphis comrades!

Read the press release from the Socialist Party of Michigan here...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 7, 8 & 9: The Cost of War at Home and Abroad


Please visit the Memphis International Solidarity Committee blog for more information about three days of anti-imperialist education and action!

The Memphis SP can't wait to see you there!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Memphis International Solidarity Committee: HOME SWEET HOMELESS


Memphis International Solidarity Committee: HOME SWEET HOMELESS: "Please join the Mid South Peace & Justice Center, Radical Arts Memphis, the Center for Transforming Communities and MISC on Saturday, ..."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Self-determination for Libya!

The Memphis SP joins the people of Memphis to protest the imperialist invasion of Libya.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shut Down Wisconsin!

by Andrea Pason and Billy Wharton, co-chairs Socialist Party USA

March 9, 2011 - It has just been reported that Wisconsin Republicans have approved the provision in Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill that strips public employees in Wisconsin of their collective bargaining rights. Collective Bargaining is necessary to the functioning of trade unions and is a right that should be held by every worker in both the public and private sectors. As socialists, we condemn Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans in Wisconsin.

We call on students, workers and all who are opposed to this decision to converge on Madison tomorrow to protest. We support the resolution passed by the South Central Federation of Labor (Wisconsin) that calls for a general strike of all workers in the region. We support the immediate formation of strike committees by all union and non-union workers in the state. We support all acts of civil disobedience and non-compliance to protest and reverse this Bill.

Workers and students shut down Wisconsin! As popular movements throughout the world claim their democratic rights, Walker and the Republicans have trampled on workers in Wisconsin. By building on the spirit of Tahrir Square, Madison can be the site where a new militant worker’s movement is built. Our democracy is not contained within the Assembly Houses and State Capitols; we build it in the streets!

For a General Strike of all Wisconsin Workers!
Kill the Bill!
Build Democracy in the Streets!

***
Get Organized! Contact the Socialist Party USA
http://socialistparty-usa.org/

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Womens Day 1910-2011

Women's Day
Alexandra Kollontai
full text available at marxists.org

There was a time when working men thought that they alone must bear on their shoulders the brunt of the struggle against capital, that they alone must deal with the 'old world' without the help of their womenfolk. However, as working-class women entered the ranks of those who sell their labour, forced onto the labour market by need, by the fact that husband or father is unemployed, working men became aware that to leave women behind in the ranks of the 'non-class-conscious' was to damage their cause and hold it back. The greater the number of conscious fighters, the greater the chances of success. What level of consciousness is possessed by a woman who sits by the stove, who has no rights in society, the state or the family? She has no 'ideas' of her own! Everything is done as ordered by the father or husband...

The backwardness and lack of rights suffered by women, their subjection and indifference, are of no benefit to the working class, and indeed are directly harmful to it. But how is the woman worker to be drawn into the movement, how is she to be awoken?

Social-Democracy abroad did not find the correct solution immediately. Workers' organisations were open to women workers, but only a few entered. Why? Because the working class at first did not realise that the woman worker is the most legally and socially deprived member of that class, that she has been browbeaten, intimidated, persecuted down the centuries, and that in order to stimulate her mind and heart, a special approach is needed, words understandable to her as a woman. The workers did not immediately appreciate that in this world of lack of rights and exploitation, the woman is oppressed not only as a seller of her labour, but also as a mother, as a woman... However. when the workers' socialist party understood this, it boldly took up the defence of women on both counts as a hired worker and as a woman, a mother.

Socialists in every country began to demand special protection for female labour, insurance for mother and child, political rights for women and the defence of womens interests.

The more clearly the workers party perceived this second objective vis-a-vis women workers, the more willingly women joined the party, the more they appreciated that the party is their true champion, that the working class is struggling also for their urgent and exclusively female needs. Working women themselves, organised and conscious, have done a great deal to elucidate this objective. Now the main burden of the work to attract more working women into the socialist movement lies with the women. The parties in every country have their own special women's committees, secretariats and bureaus. These women's committees conduct work among the still largely non-politically conscious female population, arouse the consciousness of working women and organise them. They also examine those questions and demands that affect women most closely: protection and provision for expectant and nursing mothers, the legislative regulation of female labour, the campaign against prostitution and infant mortality, the demand for political rights for women, the improvement of housing, the campaign against the rising cost of living, etc.

Thus, as members of the party, women workers are fighting for the common class cause, while at the same time outlining and putting forward those needs and demands that most nearly affect themselves as women, housewives and mothers. The party supports these demands and fights for them... The requirements of working women are part and parcel of the common workers' cause!

On 'Women's Day' the organised demonstrate against their lack of rights.

But, some will say, why this singling out of women workers? Why special 'Women's Days', special leaflets for working women, meetings and conferences of working-class women? Is this not, in the final analysis, a concession to the feminists and bourgeois suffragettes?

Only those who do not understand the radical difference between the movement of socialist women and bourgeois suffragettes can think this way.

What is the aim of the feminists? Their aim is to achieve the same advantages, the same power, the same rights within capitalist society as those possessed now by their husbands, fathers and brothers. What is the aim of the women workers? Their aim is to abolish all privileges deriving from birth or wealth. For the woman worker it is a matter of indifference who is the 'master' a man or a woman. Together with the whole of her class, she can ease her position as a worker.

Radical and Out!

In his new book A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds, Marty Duberman chronicles the lives of "two openly queer Americans who devoted their lives to the struggles for peace and social justice." This is an excerpt of Doug Ireland's review from Gay City News.

Lives of Courage and Commitment
by Doug Ireland
March 2, 2011

McReynolds, born in 1929 and still going strong today, was raised in Los Angeles as a devout Baptist by conservative Republican parents. But while in high school he read muckraker Lincoln Steffens’ autobiography and underwent a political conversion. McReynolds had his first homosexual experience in grammar school, and when he was 19 came out to his parents. Although he had some guilt about his “deviance,” that vanished when he was a student at UCLA after an encounter in a notorious “queer bathroom” on campus with a young Alvin Ailey, not yet famous as a dancer and choreographer.

“Alvin’s guilt-free attitude toward homosexuality became a model for David (‘I came home walking on a cloud’) and the two became good friends, though never lovers,” Duberman recounts.

By this time, 1951, McReynolds had become deeply involved with the Socialist Party. Founded in 1901 under the leadership of labor leader Eugene Victor Debs, the party reached its peak of influence in 1912, when, with Debs as its presidential candidate, it won 6 percent of the vote; had 100 elected public officials, including several members of Congress; and a press with a readership in the millions. But the party’s principled pacifism during World Wars I and II brought it government persecution and decimated its membership, and by the early ’50s the party, for decades led by Norman Thomas, was a shadow of its former self.

As a well-known, “outspoken and magnetic” campus radical “on the non-Communist side,” the handsome young McReynolds became a leader of the Socialists’ left wing, all while being open about his homosexuality with his party comrades in its somewhat Bohemian LA local, but “never taking any flack for it.”




McReynolds, already a committed pacifist, risked prison when he refused induction into the army for the Korean War, and it was then that he met Bayard Rustin, the field director of the principal pacifist organization, the War Resisters League, later famous as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington under Martin Luther King’s leadership. At the time of their meeting, Rustin had just been arrested on a “morals charge” for a homosexual encounter, and a long talk with Rustin about homosexuality helped further diminish any of McReynolds’ residual guilt feelings about his own same-sex orientation.

It is difficult to overstate the enormous courage and personal integrity required of Deming and McReynolds to be openly queer at a time in America when homosexuality was illegal, and homosexuals were condemned to barbaric tortures to “cure” them by medicine and loathed as degenerate outcasts by most of society. This was especially true in the 1950s at the height of the McCarthyite witch-hunts, when government was purging both left-wingers and homosexuals from its ranks and those of academia and the labor movement, and when homosexuality was frequently identified with Communism in the dominant rhetoric of the red-baiters.

read the entire review at Gay City News...

Monday, February 21, 2011

This Friday!

Come out this Friday for two unbelievably amazing events.

First, From Cairo to Egypt.

From the facebook event page:
The local community and guests from Egypt are gathering to better understand and engage with the ongoing revolutionary activity in the Middle East and North Africa. Memphis's historical struggle with discrimination and poverty allow us to look into the unfolding of these events with inspiration and hope. In this spirit, we will explore how we can enact freedom, justice, equality, and dignity (the slogan of the Egyptian revolution) within our community.


Panel discussion and Q&A to follow.


Free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome!



And after that, Red House Show at The Dairy, 2010 Court Ave. Thanks, Dairy House!!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Democracy in the Streets: Madison Mobilizes to Defeat the Anti-Labor Walker

by Omar Mohamad, Secretary, Socialist Party of South Central Wisconsin and Billy Wharton, co-chair Socialist Party USA

The mass protests led by public employees unions in Madison, Wisconsin have been presented by some mainstream commentators as a labor’s last stand. They are not. They are a spark, a spark with the potential to create a new protest movement capable of revitalizing our unions, radicalizing student organizing and creating a space for democratic socialist politics. As socialists, we stand steadfastly in solidarity with this protest movement. We pledge to support the immediate goal of blocking Governor Scott Walker’s reactionary and draconian anti-union legislation and the longer-term project of building a serious left-wing political movement in the US.

Walker’s proposal to strip workers of collective bargaining rights is an extreme example of the budget cutting strategies being prepared by state and local officials throughout the country. More than 31 states are in the process of implementing deep cuts to basic public services. The local budgetary situations have been made worse by the ending of Federal stimulus funds. Much like at the Federal level, most of these states have, for decades, refused to properly tax their richest residents and corporations. In the case of Wisconsin, corporate tax rates have not been increased since 1972 and a myriad of loopholes and tax credits allow these companies to further evade taxation.

But the budget cuts are not about the fiscal balancing of budgets. They are, instead, an ideological attack on the rights of working people, on the opportunities for public university students and on the public programs that millions of people rely on. Gov. Walker and the other politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, have refused to cover deficits by spending from reserve funds or increasing taxation on the rich and corporations. This is a political choice, driven by free market ideology, to defend the wealth of the elite at the expense of the vast majority of people in our society.

As socialists, we understand that public employees are not the problem. Their work helps to enhance the public good. The problem that is gripping all of American society is that 5% of the population controls 85% of the productive wealth and this 5% has no intention of returning this wealth to those who produced it. As a result, politicians will violate any democratic right – union rights, civil rights and economic rights – that threatens this wealth. Walker demonstrated just how far he would go by putting the National Guard on notice in the event of mass unrest.



No wonder then that the protesters in Madison compared the Governor to the deposed dictator of Egypt Hosni Mubarak. This comparison is not only because the protesters see a bit of Walker in Mubarak, but more importantly, they see themselves in the massive street protests that gripped Egypt and in the occupation of Tahrir Square. And what great lessons to learn from this brave movement that faced down the police and forced a dictator out. The fighting spirit of Tahrir Square represents a global wave of unrest in which people are exercising and demanding their democratic rights. Democracy, in Cairo or Madison, is about more than elections. It is about creating a society based on economic democracy – where working people who create the wealth can claim that wealth.

Democratic socialism offers the best hope to make the aspirations of these protests real. We believe that society can best be run through direct democracy – where people have a direct say in how the society runs. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature should not be the ones determining how the budget is crafted. A system of participatory budgeting in which those who will be affected by the budget are given a direct decision making voice in how the funds are spent would be the most democratic and efficient process possible. Here, the true will of all those people mobilizing to stop Walker would be heard.

Until we are able to build the political will to create such a democratic structure, the political focus must be placed on taxing the rich and corporations to cover the immediate budget deficit in Wisconsin. In the short term, this will mean employing all possible forms of civil disobedience and non-compliance on our worksites, our schools and in our communities. Simply put, if a small group of politicians attempts to strip us of our rights in the service of protecting the wealth of the elite, we are more than justified in using all of the social power we can muster to bring the society to a stand still.

The Socialist Party USA has initiated a national campaign to fight against budget cuts and the attack on public workers. We are calling on all of our members and our supporters to join local campaigns to defend jobs, education, and services. As socialists, we bring with us a firm conviction about taxing the rich and a vision of a democratically run society in which people regain control of their lives from the logic of the market, from the workings of capitalism and from the elite 5% who benefit from our labor, while offering little in return.


Solidarity with the Madison Protests!

Kill the Anti-Union Bill!

Defeat the Anti-Labor Walker!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

CommonDreams.org Reports on FBI/Sheriff's Dep't/MPD Harassment

To Protect and Serve? Despite Harassment, Peace Activists Vow to Continue Work
by Randall Amster
2/11/2011

On January 25, 2011, people gathered in cities across America to demonstrate against the ongoing harassment of peace organizations and individual activists by law enforcement agencies. In particular, these “solidarity actions” were focused on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who had served subpoenas and raided the homes of people involved in anti-war and international solidarity work in Minneapolis and Chicago in late September 2010. From Boston to Los Angeles, activists rallied at federal buildings, collected petition signatures, distributed pamphlets, and peacefully demonstrated on street corners as part of the “National Day of Action to Stop FBI Repression and Grand Jury Witch Hunts.”

In Chicago, over 350 people assembled in front of the Dirksen Federal Building to protest U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s decision to subpoena 23 antiwar activists and order them to appear in front of a grand jury. In Minneapolis, more than 100 people swarmed the sidewalk at the downtown Federal Building, waving signs that read "Opposing war is not a crime" and "Hands off free speech," denouncing the infiltration of their groups with undercover agents, and stating that they will not cooperate with the grand juries even if it means going to jail. Actions large and small were held in over 50 cities across the nation in a show of solidarity for peace activism and against official harassment.

Perhaps the most curious – and potentially revealing – episode among these many actions played out in Memphis, Tennessee. In a bizarre twist, the small group that had assembled there on January 25th was visited by the FBI and local law enforcement, ostensibly to warn them about their own event and stating that they were there for the activists’ own safety. A local media outlet reported on the episode:

“When a police SWAT team and an FBI anti-terrorism squad showed up Tuesday at a Memphis church where peace activists were staging an event, a scene reminiscent of the turbulent 1960s ensued. The activists, members of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center who oppose the war in Afghanistan, characterized the encounter as police intimidation and a case of illegal surveillance. FBI and Memphis Police Department representatives countered it was all a misunderstanding. They said they were there to protect the activists from potential harm by extremists who might oppose their views.”

Interestingly, the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center (MSPJC) had planned no public demonstration as part of its activities that day, but were merely holding a small meeting of about a dozen people to fill out forms under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to investigate the extent to which activists in their community may have been under surveillance, infiltration, or other forms of potential intimidation. The media release sent out by the MSPJC stated that the event was being held to “demand an end to FBI harassment of peace, anti-war and solidarity activists.” In response, according to the MSPJC’s Director, it appears that the agents and officers were in fact sent to the event to monitor and intimidate the group.

Read the full article at CommonDreams.org...


Memphis activists protest FBI repression on September 29 in response to the raids on September 24, 2010:


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Statements on Egypt

Socialism and the Spirit of Tahrir Square
by Andrea Pason and Billy Wharton, co-chairs Socialist Party USA
February 11, 2011

We send greetings to the working people of Egypt on the day of their victorious struggle to depose the dictator Hosni Mubarak. Their grassroots movement provides definitive proof to the world that radical political activity can change the course of history. The activities of the protesters in Tahrir Square transformed the idea of democracy from a stale ritual that occurs every few years to an open ended struggle for freedom. We are inspired by the example provided by this mass revolt of the Egyptian people.

It is particularly important to recognize the central contribution made by the working class to the defeat of the dictator. While the occupation of the square and the street demonstrations in several cities galvanized the resistance, it was the mass strikes carried out by the workers that broke the back of the regime. On February 9th thousands of workers demonstrated the ability to shutdown the entire society and economy until their demands were met. After these mass strikes, the regime understood that surrender was its only option.

The victory of Tahrir Square need not be an isolated one – limited only to the removal of one dictatorial regime. The revolt was as much about the conditions imposed on Egyptians by capitalism – the lack of food, the unemployment, the poor housing, the declining environment – as it was about Mubarak. We can all join in the spirit of struggle initiated in Cairo by demanding a democratic socialist society where the needs of human beings are placed ahead of those of corporations.

See Tahrir Square for what it is – an open-ended struggle for freedom. And what the dissident voices in Egypt and many other parts of world are demanding are things that capitalism cannot deliver. In Egypt, the reorganization of an independent trade union movement, the experiences of direct democracy in the protests and the revitalization of a socialist left in the country offer greatest hope for advancing the political agenda for economic freedom developed in Tahrir Square.

As socialists located in the US, we pledge to continue to do our part in the international struggle for socialism. We see our own political activity as a part of the larger international movement for jobs, peace and freedom. As a part of a Socialism for the 21st Century!


To the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt
An Open Letter from the Internationalist Socialist League (Israel/Occupied Palestine) and the League for the Revolutionary Party (U.S.)
February 8, 2011

The following is a response to the statement “Glory to the martyrs! Victory to the revolution!” issued by the Revolutionary Socialists group in Egypt, published on February 1. . .

Comrades,

With sincere respect for your place among the courageous fighters against Mubarak’s bloody dictatorship, we must share with you some serious criticisms of your statement of February 1. We know that your role in the Egyptian masses’ great struggles can only be properly appreciated by considering all that your group has said, as well as all that it has done in practice. However your February 1 statement is the first to be translated and circulated by your comrades in the International Socialist Tendency, so it deserves to be paid special attention.

You are right to say that Egypt’s revolution is being stolen from the working class and poor. The move by prominent opposition figures to enter into negotiations with the government shows their willingness to compromise the masses’ most basic aim of ending their oppression and winning democracy by driving Mubarak’s NDP from power. Your insistence that the economic demands of the workers and poor must not be sacrificed in the struggle for democracy is certainly correct, as are your arguments for the creation of elected councils of the struggle. You are also right to warn that the army cannot be trusted to protect the masses and that the rank-and-file soldiers will have to be rallied to split from their officers.

These points express the fact that the Egyptian revolution is at a dangerous turning point. The prominent figures claiming to represent the masses who are now negotiating with the dictatorship are acting according to their bourgeois class interests. As you know, bourgeois and middle class elements like the imams, businessmen and landowners who dominate the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, or professionals like the diplomat ElBaradei, can all be satisfied by being given a little more space at the top of Egyptian society. No wonder they are anxious for the workers and poor people to leave the streets and return to their old lives of quiet suffering as soon as possible.

A Stable Capitalist Democracy Is Impossible In Egypt

The treachery of these bourgeois opposition figures confirms Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution, a perspective that we know you subscribe to: only the working-class and poor masses can be relied on to continue the fight to overthrow the dictatorship and win democracy for all Egyptians, because only the working class and poor have no interest in maintaining the capitalist society that the dictatorship defends.

It is essential to recognize that the reality of class exploitation and imperialist oppression means that whatever course the struggle takes, there cannot be a stable democracy in Egypt for as long as imperialist capitalism rules the region. At this time of economic crisis, with the world sliding toward another Great Depression, capitalism cannot offer a better life to the masses. Aside from the most temporary concessions granted to quell mass struggles, capitalism offers only worsening poverty and exploitation. In dominated and exploited neo-colonies like Egypt, enforcing these conditions is ultimately only possible by means of dictatorship.

Indeed, the Egyptian state is essential to imperialism’s domination of the whole of the Middle East. It governs vital shipping routes including the Suez Canal. Egypt’s border with Gaza and Israel is another wall in the Zionist settler state’s prison-house for the Palestinians. The struggle for democracy in Egypt thus threatens the imperialists’ most vital interests and will face their most violent resistance. A stable and genuine democracy will be only possible in Egypt after imperialism’s client states in the region are overthrown, especially the racist colonial settler state of Israel. Working-class socialist revolutions throughout the Middle East are the only solution to the problems faced by the workers and poor of the region. The speed with which the uprising of Tunisia’s workers and poor people inspired similar rebellions across the Arab world shows the potential for this strategy to succeed.

Under these conditions the opposition leaders’ treacherous moves to negotiate with the dictatorship do not merely threaten to prevent the masses from winning their demands. By demobilizing the struggle, especially before the working class and poor can establish their own independent mass organizations, these bourgeois leaders are helping the dictatorship regroup its forces. While the mass struggle in Egypt today has proved too great for the state to crush, that balance of forces cannot last forever. The dictatorship, as well as the imperialists who rely on it to keep order, will inevitably turn to bloody repression when it thinks it can and must.

Put simply, the Egyptian masses’ struggle will either triumph as a socialist revolution of the working class that defeats imperialism by spreading the revolution throughout the Middle East, or it will suffer a bloody defeat. Workers’ revolution is the only hope of avoiding a nightmarish counterrevolution.

Working-Class Leadership Needed

That socialist revolution is the only solution to Egypt’s crisis is of course a conclusion that most Egyptian workers seem far from embracing today. Workers and poor people (semi-employed and unemployed workers as well as impoverished vendors and others from more middle-class occupations) account for the overwhelming majority of protesters on the streets, but at least at first they for the most part participated simply as members of “the people,” without emphasizing specifically working-class demands. Unlike in Tunisia where unions organized protests from the beginning of the uprising and general strikes were widely observed, workers in Egypt are mostly only just beginning to turn from street protests to engaging in strikes and workplace occupations demanding Mubarak’s ouster. However the announcement of the formation of a new federation of independent unions, and the example of militant struggles by tens of thousands of textile workers in Mahalla and of strikes and workplace occupations by factory and service workers in Suez and elsewhere are sure to spread.

But the experience of struggle against the Mubarak dictatorship has given the working class a sense of the tremendous power it has when united in collective action and the role played by the various opposition leaders is already providing powerful confirmation of the revolutionary socialist perspective. Those lessons will be lost, however, if the revolutionary strategy is not put forward clearly and openly. That is why we were disappointed to see that in your statement of February 1 you expressed yourself not in the clear language of Marxism, which speaks of specific classes having specific interests, but instead in the vague rhetoric of populism. Complaining about “elites” hijacking the “popular revolution,” you call for the working class to support the other forces making the revolution, but you do not call for the workers to lead the revolution. Thus instead of calling for workers’ power through socialist revolution, your statement raises the purely democratic populist slogan, “All power to the people!”

Comrades, this slogan of “power to the people” may not seem so bad – it sounds a lot better than Mubarak’s rule! But “the people” include not just the masses of workers and poor but the capitalists and petty bourgeoisie as well. For as long as the revolution is promoted as being in the interests of all, it will be limited to the demands for limited democratic change that seem acceptable to most people of all classes. If revolutionaries do not insist on working-class leadership of the struggle, power will by default fall into the hands of those with the greatest resources, the bourgeoisie.

Your February 1 statement says:

“The revolution is a popular revolution. This is not a revolution of the elite, political parties or religious groups. Egypt's youth, students, workers and the poor are the owners of this revolution. In recent days a lot of elites, parties and so-called symbols have begun trying to ride the wave of revolution and hijack it from their rightful owners.”

But while the masses of workers, poor people and youth are the great force behind the revolution, they have never “owned” it. How could they have, without a working-class political party leading the broader masses in an open struggle against not just the Mubarak dictatorship but against all the representatives of capitalism?

If it is to move forward, the limits of Egypt’s “popular revolution” must be transcended and the masses’ struggle transformed into a conscious struggle for the working class to seize power. That requires leadership by a revolutionary socialist political party of the most far-sighted and determined workers and youth that is prepared to win the support of the masses in seizing leadership of the struggle from the pro-capitalist and reformist figures that currently dominate it. Until that takes place, any talk of the masses’ owning the revolution is nothing more than wishful thinking, and populist sloganeering about a “popular revolution” giving “power to the people” can only obscure the class conflict and delay the working class from realizing its tasks.

Read the full letter here...


Mubarak Resigns, the Struggle Continues
Solidarity Webzine

by Jase
February 11, 2011

One thing is clear from the events of the last 18 days: the power of the people is now back on the world stage in a dramatic fashion.

What has transpired in Egypt is nothing less than the largest popular revolution in the last 30 years. Two weeks of demonstrations and mass actions put the authority of Hosni Mubarak on its last legs, and 2 days of strikes finished the job. Masses of working class people have participated in the protests, swelling the ranks in the streets, but once the working-class exercised its social power over the economy in an organized fashion, the regime could not sustain itself. As the Revolutionary Socialists, an Egyptian organization, said: "The regime can afford to wait out the sit-ins and demonstrations for days and weeks, but it cannot last beyond a few hours if workers use strikes as a weapon."

The ruling classes of the world are now on notice: the people are back, in a big way.

While it is good and necessary to celebrate this victory, we must also understand that this political revolution is not yet a social revolution--and the extent of the political revolution, a transfer of power to the armed forces, is still minor. Cultural change is sweeping Egypt in a way that it has not in a very long time, caused by the movement for democracy from below. The explosion of popular organization in the form of independent unions, neighborhood defense committees and new political organizations will forever change the face of Egypt, the Arab world, the entire Middle East and the world itself. However, the regime created by Mubarak remains in place.

Where did the Mubarak Regime come from?

The regime of Hosni Mubarak is a creation of local Egyptian elites who worked in tandem with US, Israeli and European interests to repudiate the Arab Nationalist regime of former Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser. Nasser's government came into existence in 1952 following a revolt by military officers against the British-installed monarch King Farouk. Nasser himself did not take power until 1954, but he was the major architect of the 1952 overthrow.

Nasser's regime opposed forms of popular self-organization but gained an enormous amount of respect from the people of Egypt and the entire world with his robust opposition to Israeli imperialism and indeed following the 1956 Suez Crisis, world imperialism itself. The regime operated via nationalizing major industries in order to develop the country's economy.

The Arab Nationalism of Egypt was supported by ruling elites to counter revolutionary internationalism, and its limitations (especially via the nation-state) were made clear during the 1970's. Below Nasser in the hierarchy of the regime was Anwar Sadat, who began the process of creating the regime that is in power today in Egypt. Sadat made peace with Israeli apartheid, giving de facto support for continued imperialist bludgeoning of the Arab world. Without fear from the Egyptian government--the only effective counterweight to Israeli aggression--the Israeli government was able to spend the following thirty years demolishing the region in the name of "security." Invasions and occupations of Lebanon coupled with airstrikes on Iraq and multiple vicious campaigns against the "internal" threat of occupied Palestine became the rule of the day.

A splinter group of the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Sadat, a kind of "chickens coming home to roost" moment for the Egyptian ruling class. To counter working-class self-organization and revolutionary internationalism (not to mention more consistent and independent secular Arab nationalism) the government in Cairo did what many other governments across the Muslim world did during the 1970's: bolster--both directly and indirectly--religious political groups to provide the only effective opposition (the most cynical version of this policy in the region was the Israeli intelligence services' support for Hamas in Gaza during the First Intifada in order to counter the Arab nationalism of the Palestine Liberation Organization).

Read the full article here...


Take a look at some beautiful photos from Mubarak's last day on stephentempe's blog.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Statement from Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt

A call from Egyptian socialists
from SocialistWorker.org
Revolutionary socialists in Egypt issued this statement about the Egyptian uprising and the tasks that the movement faces as the struggle continues in the coming weeks.

Glory to the martyrs! Victory to the revolution!

What is happening today is the largest popular revolution in the history of our country and of the entire Arab world. The sacrifice of our martyrs has built our revolution and we have broken through all the barriers of fear. We will not back down until the criminal "leaders" and their criminal system is destroyed.

Mubarak's departure is the first step, not the last step of the revolution

The handover of power to a dictatorship under Omar Suleiman, Ahmed Shafiq and other cronies of Mubarak is the continuation of the same system. Omar Suleiman is a friend of Israel and America, spends most of his time between Washington and Tel Aviv, and is a servant who is faithful to their interests. Ahmed Shafik is a close friend of Mubarak and his colleague in the tyranny, oppression and plunder imposed on the Egyptian people.

The country's wealth belongs to the people and must return to it

Over the past three decades, this tyrannical regime corrupted the country's largest estates to a small handful of business leaders and foreign companies. One hundred families own more than 90 percent of the country's wealth. They monopolize the wealth of the Egyptian people through policies of privatization, looting of power and the alliance with capital. They have turned the majority of the Egyptian people to the poor, landless and unemployed.

Factories wrecked and sold dirt cheap must go back to the people

We want the nationalization of companies, land and property looted by this bunch. As long as our resources remain in their hands we will not be able to completely get rid of this system. Economic slavery is the other face of political tyranny. We will not be able to cope with unemployment and achieve a fair minimum wage for a decent living without restoring the wealth of the people from this gang.

We will not be guard dogs of America and Israel

This system does not stand alone. As a dictator, Mubarak was a servant and client directly acting for the sake of the interests of America and Israel. Egypt acted as a colony of America, participated directly in the siege of the Palestinian people, made the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace free zones for warships and fighter jets that destroyed and killed the Iraqi people, and sold gas to Israel dirt cheap while stifling the Egyptian people by soaring prices. Revolution must restore Egypt's independence, dignity and leadership in the region.

The revolution is a popular revolution

This is not a revolution of the elite, political parties or religious groups. Egypt's youth, students, workers and the poor are the owners of this revolution. In recent days, a lot of elites, parties and so-called symbols have begun trying to ride the wave of revolution and hijack it from their rightful owners. The only symbols are the martyrs of our revolution and our young people who have been steadfast in the field. We will not allow them to take control of our revolution and claim that they represent us. We will choose to represent ourselves and represent the martyrs who were killed, their blood paying the price for the salvation of the system.

Read the full statement at SocialistWorker.org...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

SOLIDARITY WITH THE EGYPTIAN PEOPLE! يسقط مبارك!

The Memphis SP stood in solidarity today with activists across Memphis calling for an end to the Mubarak regime and democracy for the people of Egypt.









IMPORT THE REVOLUTION!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Revolution in Tunisia: Three Left Perspectives

Tunisia Breaks Free
Solidarity Webzine
by Jase
January 27, 2011

The events unfolding in Tunisia before our very eyes constitute a sharp break in world events, albeit a break that has emerged from years of grinding contradictions that have now come to a head. These events represent a break from US-backed “color revolutions,” feigned revolutionary upsurges by reactionary Islamists masquerading as harbingers of progress, and forms of reformist and guerilla-style revolutionary elitism. Popular self-organization from below has scored a victory that—although limited in nature—has had profound effects in transforming the consciousness of people around the Arab world and indeed globally.

The revolt in the streets of Tunis had their origins in the rural southern regions of the country, specifically in the town of Sidi Bouzidi. There, mostly rural workers took to the streets in December “with a rock in one hand and a cell-phone in the other” (according to Rochdi Horchani, a relative of Mohamed Bouazizi—the 26 year old street vendor whose self-immolation sparked the current round of resistance) to challenge the regime of Ben-Ali.

The challenge came after three decades of ruthless repression at the hands of Ben-Ali's Mukhabarat (secret police). The US and French support for the regime went very far as Tunisia was upheld as an exemplar of behavior considered acceptable to the interests of the American and French ruling classes. Tunisia was to be a place of robber-baron dictatorship (Wikileaks cables reveal that something like 50% of the economy was in one way or another under the control of Ben-Ali's family and 6 other clans). All of the repression occurred with the blessing of Washington and Paris, for as long as the people were docile and timid before their oppressors, no complaints about human rights abuses seemed to matter.

Unlike similar demonstrations against the regime that had broken out in the spring, the people of Sidi Bouzidi made a huge effort to get the news of their demonstrations out to a broader public. They succeeded dramatically. Images from the south were seen via the internet and pirated satellite television.

Then came more eruptions across the country—and the entry of thousands of urban working-class citizens into the battle. The explosion was more than the police could handle and so Ben-Ali called on the military to enter the mix with guns drawn: and the orders were refused.

We do not know exactly what transpired in the halls of power, but the ruling RCD party maneuvered for its own survival following the military refusal by pressing Ben-Ali to flee—and flee he did. First he tried to touch down in Paris, but the shrewd Sarkozy government refused him asylum, recognizing that inflaming anti-imperialist tensions was probably an unwise decision at this given juncture. Ben-Ali has taken refuge in Saudi Arabia now—though the new (second) interim government is trying to have him brought into custody.

Unlike recent “color” revolutions in Eastern Europe or Central Asia, millions of dollars of George Soros' “democracy promotion” aid did not contribute to the effort and no liberal opposition parties were significant participants. The dissension from the regime by the largest trade union confederation (which had previously been the handmaiden of the regime) turned the struggle from one isolated among youth and rural workers to a general uprising against the regime.

read the full article on the Solidarity Webzine...


Tunisia’s Revolution in Danger
A Bolshevik Policy is Needed to Guide the Workers and Poor People to Power!

A Joint Statement by the League for the Revolutionary Party (U.S.) and the Internationalist Socialist League (Israel/Occupied Palestine)
January 28, 2011

The sight of Tunisia’s long-time dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fleeing in the face of workers’ general strikes and mass demonstrations is inspiring an upsurge of struggle throughout the Middle East. The idea is spreading among the Arab world’s workers and youth that they could rise up and send the rest of the region’s imperialism-backed dictators packing as well.

But in Tunisia itself the struggle is far from over. The dictator is gone, but the political party that he led and which ran the dictatorship, the RCD, still dominates the government. The hated police have been driven away or underground in many places, but the state apparatus of courts, police and the army that was the dictatorship’s foundation remain in place in the country’s most important centers of power. Weeks of big demonstrations and mass strikes demanding that the RCD be ousted from the government have yielded little change, and Ben Ali’s crony Mohamed Ghannouchi continues to hold the position of Prime Minister.

Today, the forces of the old dictatorship are too weak to try to violently crush the masses’ struggles. But the workers and poor people do not see a leadership willing and able to lead them in finally driving the RCD from power. The current standoff between these forces cannot last forever.

The masses’ desire to rid themselves of the RCD is accompanied by a growing sense of the need for a strong government to get the economy moving again. Ghannouchi’s regime hopes that it can hold on to power while the masses grow tired from weeks of struggle without a breakthrough. But there are already signs that more violent means could be used to subjugate the masses: recent provocative demonstrations in Tunis expressing support for the government and condemning the unions and the left for spreading anarchy, combined with scattered violent attacks on union offices in different cities, warn of attempts to rally middle-class support for a more dictatorial crackdown.

The Role of the Army

The current balance of power between the Ghannouchi government and the masses is held by the army. Its ranks of soldiers, conscripted from the working class and poor, have been swept up in the masses’ revolutionary ferment. They broadly share the hope of seeing the RCD ousted from power and today guard government buildings and central streets with flowers in their gun barrels, symbols of their intention not to harm the masses.

The army’s top leader, General Rachid Ammar, was at least at first regarded as a hero for refusing Ben Ali’s orders to crush the masses’ protests. Indeed in the days after Ben Ali’s downfall, the army played an important role in apprehending bands of police engaged in wanton acts of murder.

But Ammar was hand-picked for his position by Ben Ali and has long been closely tied to U.S. imperialism and its military. Ammar may have prompted Ben Ali’s flight from power, but he did so with the aim of sacrificing the dictator in order to rescue the rest of the capitalist ruling class and save its state power to rule over the masses. When “Caravans of Liberation” arrived in Tunis from the country’s impoverished central region and threatened to lead demonstrators in toppling the government, Ammar stood before them with a megaphone and begged them to allow more time for reforms. “The army will protect the revolution,” he promised. What Ammar was literally doing, however, was saving the RCD from the revolution.

A Democratic, Not Socialist, Revolution?

Tunisia’s revolution did not begin with intellectuals in cosmopolitan Tunis protesting for free speech. Rather, it began with massive union-organized demonstrations in the impoverished center of the country. Rallying behind slogans like “Bread and Freedom – Not Ben Ali!” the masses of workers and poor people made clear from the outset that they were fighting to liberate themselves not just from political oppression but also from poverty and exploitation.

read the full statement here...

Statement on Tunisia
by the Socialist Party USA International Commission
January 31, 2011

Tunisia has become the latest hot spot in a global wave of popular rebellion against failed economic policies, corruption, and despotism. Ongoing protests throughout the country – called the Sidi Bouzid intifada by Tunisians in reference to the city where the protests began - were sparked by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a twenty-six year old street vendor. Like many, he suffered from underemployment and police violence. The rebellion went largely unnoticed by the international commercial media until the Tunisian dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14th, ending 23 years of autocracy.

The International Commission of the Socialist Party USA salutes the people of Tunisia in this important step toward liberation. The ousting of Ben Ali shows that tyrants cannot rule over a population that refuses consent. In particular, we recognize the central role played by working people. While students and the middle class also went into the streets, it was workers, organized by the General Union of Tunisian Workers that gave the demonstrations structure and tipped the balance of power toward the protests. Through concerted mass action, the working class of Tunisia proved to have the power to overthrow a seemingly invincible authoritarian regime and make history. The revolt has inspired popular struggles throughout the region and the world. Already protests have rocked Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen and other Arab states.

The Tunisian struggle continues over the nature of a new government. Mobilizations in the street are continuing in protest against a proposed “unity government” which maintains many officials from the old ruling party. Protesters are demanding a new democratic constitution before elections. Removing the dictator is not enough; the entire dictatorship must go.

Behind the scenes, economic power brokers are working to preserve neo-liberal relations with foreign interests, and insulate themselves from democratic forces. Recent revelations from Wikileaks have exposed how French and U.S. diplomats were well aware of the corruption and human rights violations of the Ben Ali regime, yet maintained uncritical friendly relations. A truly democratic alternative for the people of Tunisia that is independent of economic and diplomatic imperialism will be served best by connecting to the international socialist movement.

The International Commission of the Socialist Party USA pledges to share Tunisia's story, and to pressure our government to respect Tunisian sovereignty. We extend our solidarity and seek greater ties with the movements in Tunisia of unionists, women, youth, and socialists. The liberation of Tunisia from Ben Ali's personal dictatorship brings us one step closer to ending the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, warding off aggression against Iran, and ending the occupation of Palestine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

RED JANUARY III

Last Red January show of the month!

Sunday, January 30
9:00PM

The Buccaneer Lounge
1368 Monroe Avenue



featuring:

BAKE SALE
KRUXE
THE VIGNETTES
DJ JAGUARRIOR
DJ BENNETT

$3
There will of course be literature and free vegan treats!
Proceeds benefit the Memphis Socialist Party.
Thanks to everyone for showing your support at these events! It is apparent that the artist and art lover in all of us thirsts for meaningful and imaginative resistance to the self-interested homogeneous corporate aesthetic forced on us by our universities, the media and our bosses.
Together we are building a movement which cannot be ignored!

Media Coverage of FBI/MPD/Sheriff's Department Harassment of Memphis Activsts

Commercial Appeal blog...

ABC 24 News with Live Footage...

WREG/CBS 3 News with Live Footage...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Memphis Activists Harassed by FBI (While Protesting FBI Harassment)

Local activists, including members of the Memphis Socialist Party, gathered at the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center yesterday to file Freedom of Information Act requests as part of a nationwide day of action against recent FBI harassment of anti-war and international solidary activists. A few hours prior to the event, three FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents visited the Center to inform them that there was going to be a demonstration. They left after they were told that the Center was not only aware of the event but had planned it.

Approximately two hours later, the Memphis Police Department's TACT unit arrived with at least six unmarked black SUVs and one marked squad car. When questioned about the reason for their presence, they replied that they were there to keep the peace. The Center was eventually able to get into contact with the unit's chief, who made a vague statement about a call from a "concerned citizen."

On the same day, at least two activists (including the Chair of the Memphis Socialist Party) had their homes entered by the Shelby County Sheriff's Department on the pretext of warrants issued for failure to appear in court. In both cases residents were not given the opportunity to view the warrant, despite multiple requests. At the deCleyre Cooperative, police entered without permission through an unlocked door and moved through every room with their guns drawn, searching for someone who hadn't lived there in years.

Why were residents not allowed to see the warrants used to enter their homes? Why was the TACT unit, described by MPD's website as "not subject to regular calls," and "responsible for handling barricade situations, hostage rescues, counter terrorism, and high risk felony apprehensions," sent to respond to a single, unverified phone call? How is it a coincidence when the same group of activists is targeted by three separate law enforcement agencies on the same day?

The FBI has a long history of intimidation, harassment, and repression, but we refuse to be silenced by it. We will continue to stand in solidarity with our activist brothers and sisters.

Check out other local folks' first-hand reactions here and here.
Read the local paper's take on it here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

ART IN RESPONSE--CALL FOR ENTRIES

“Art in Response” is an exhibition at Caritas Village organized by Radical Arts Memphis, an alliance of artists dedicated to achieving a communal voice through art. We seek solidarity between the artistic and political communities of Memphis in an effort to combat inequality and exploitation in our city. We wish to create a forum which questions the prevailing structures of power and pursues... a radical re-imagination of our society.

“Art in Response” will feature works from the Memphis community. The works should critically question the systemic divisions (race, gender, class, etc) within our city. Works should explore the ways in which these forms of separation affect us as both individuals and as a community.

HOW TO SUBMIT
all mediums are welcome-visual art, video, sound, poetry, music, etc.
all entries should be emailed to artinresponse@gmail.com by JANUARY 28th. Please include your contact information (name, email address, phone number) in the email submission.

FOR VISUAL ART ENTRIES
Please send JPGs of your work and a title sheet listing the dimensions, medium and titles of the pieces.

FOR OTHER ENTRIES
Please send mp3, .mov, or .doc files of your work and a title sheet listing the length and title of the piece.
If you are unable to email your submissions, please contact Bennett Foster at (901)-210-3768 to set up a time to have your work photographed/reviewed for submission.

*It is free to submit work to this show, however, please consider making a donation to Caritas Village.

TIMELINE

JANUARY 28th- deadline to submit work
FEBUARY 2nd- accepted work must be delivered to Caritas Village
FEBUARY 4th - “Art in Response” opening night at Caritas Village
FEBUARY 5th- artists pick up work from Caritas Village

facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=131132140284719
contact:
artinresponse@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

RED JANUARY II

RED JANUARY CONTINUES!

Friday, January 21st
9pm

The Poplar Lounge
2586 Poplar Avenue

3D ACID GLASSES
GIRLS OF THE GRAVITRON
MODERN CONVENIENCE
DJ BUCK WILDERS
DJ BOSCO DELREY

$3 dollars
There will be literature and vegan treats!

Come out and support the Socialist Party!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

No to Political Assasinations! Let’s Make a Democratic Revolution!

by Andrea Pason & Billy Wharton - co-chairs Socialist Party USA

January 9, 2011 - On behalf of the Socialist Party USA, we send our
sincerest condolences to the families of the people killed in the recent
shooting in Tuscon, Arizona. This was an attempt at political
assassination as the shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, reportedly
shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ, D.) in the head before turning his gun
on the crowd. The dead include a 9 year child and five others, with
twelve people wounded. Rep. Giffords remains in critical condition.

As socialists, we say unequivocally that political assassination has no
role inside of a democratic society or our movement. Throughout American
history, assassination has been a tool primarily used by the right-wing.
The death by execution of strong leaders such as Medgar Evers, Malcolm X
and Martin Luther King Jr. stand as testimony to the damage done to our
cause. We are democratic socialists and we seek to make a democratic
revolution. A revolution that places people in control of their own
lives. Political assassination has no role in such a movement.

The same cannot be said of the far-right. Right wing activists have
consistently engaged in acts of assassination and in rhetoric that
reinforces and encourages such acts. We can note the murder of abortion
rights activists such as Dr. Barnett Slepian as well as the violent and
hyper-masculine language consistently promoted by the right-wing media.
Loughner was reported to be heavily influenced by these ideas, motivated
by the call to arms being issued by the far-right.

And he did not have to look hard for motivation to attack Giffords.
During the recent mid-term election, Sarah Palin’s Political Action
Committee produced a chart that targeted Democrats. The chart employed
crosshairs to identify the electoral opponents and utilized language like
“We'll aim for these races,” “This is just the first salvo” and “join me
in the fight.” While Sarah Palin did not pull the trigger, she certainly
holds a significant amount of guilt for creating the conditions in which
such as act was possible.

Now is the time to reject such politics both here in the US and globally.
A fitting tribute to the innocent victims from the Tuscon shooting would
be to end the US occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and to end the bombings
in Pakistan. The US military has, through targeted assassinations,
extraordinary renditions and drone attacks, made political violence an
everyday part of life in this region. As we learned in Tuscon today, such
violence creates real human tragedies. The lives of innocents lost in the
Middle East to political violence are of equal value to Loughner’s
victims.

As socialists, we aim to create a non-violent world. A world where the
great wealth of society is used to satisfy human needs. Ours will be a
democratic revolution where the great majority of working people are
finally able to express their desire for things like jobs, peace and
freedom. There is no place in this process, in the transition to a
democratic socialist society, for political assassination. This is the
political tool of the right and only serves to re-enforce the presence of
the repressive apparatus of the government. We want freedom and believe
that mass non-violent political protests are the means to acquire it. We
invite you to join us in this struggle for a better world.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Socialist WebZine: New Design!

The Socialist WebZine, the SP-USA's weekly online publication, has just undergone a massive redesign. This week's articles:


Recovery Noises and Political Taboos
by Prof. Richard D. Wolff
To avoid the instability of capitalism and its huge social costs requires changing the system. That remains the basic issue for a new year and a new generation.

Solidarity with the Georgia Prison Strike
by the Socialist Party USA National Action Committee
The Socialist Party USA stands in solidarity with these courageous inmates. They represent a neglected and oppressed group of our society.

Larry Summers, Goodbye & Good Riddance, Part I
by Mitchel Cohen
"I've always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted."
-Larry Summers


Wikileaks, War and Hard Truths
by Lydia Howell
How many hundreds of thousands of people can be murdered in the name of September 11th before the Americans say, “Enough!”?

Statement on Israel
by the SPUSA International Commission
The International Commission of the Socialist Party USA endorses the July 2005 call of 180 Palestinian organizations for a boycott of Israeli goods.

Socialists Support Freedom to Write
by Dianne
It requested that a ban on Dr. Richard Shapiro be lifted and charges dropped against Angana Chatterji and Zahir-ud-Din.

The Prodigal Book Reviewer
by Julie
If a little person isn’t ridiculed, it seems, he or she has to be imbued with mystical qualities.

Carl Sandburg Born January 6, 1878
He moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and joined the Social Democratic Party, the name by which the Socialist Party of America was known in the state.