Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Extraordinary Black History Month

Reprinted from the People's Weekly World

African American History Month is celebrated every February. It is always an important time to not only look back at how a courageous people made great strides towards freedom but also think about how to advance that struggle to new heights.

The election of Barack Obama, our first African American president, marks this year’s celebration as a new milestone in the upward progress of a people long oppressed.

As in the fight against slavery and Jim Crow, this was a victory for all people, of all races and nationalities. It showed how the fight against racism in general and the fight for African American equality in particular can move democracy forward for all.

But as Obama has said, the election victory is not the change we seek but the opportunity to fight for real change. And that applies to the systemic inequities African Americans, Latinos and others face because of race. The change we seek is to end racist inequities whether in health, housing, education or jobs, and to guarantee peace and economic and social justice for all. As Tommy Dennis, a former business manager of this newspaper and autoworker from Detroit, used to say, “There isn’t anything Black people want that white people don’t need.”

The hard economic times call for bold government intervention to remake our cities and rural

areas devastated by three decades of a right-wing racist, corporate offensive. They call for public ownership of banks to guarantee that they are run to benefit the public and to help cheated homeowners who are losing their homes or being evicted en masse.

This crisis must be met by government action on the scale of the New Deal and the Marshall Plan, with strong affirmative action provisions. For the 3 million to 4 million new jobs created if Obama’s recovery package passes, there need to be guarantees that the hardest-hit communities will benefit. In some African American and Latino communities jobless rates have been as high as 50 percent for years.

The nearly 2 million people who weathered the frigid temperatures to witness the inauguration of the first Black president on Jan. 20 showed that the mass movement for positive change continues.

Let this African American History Month help celebrate the accomplishments and advance the tremendous possibilities for change.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A People's Inauguration by Joe Sims

Huge crowds, unprecedented in U.S. history, gathered in Washington on Tuesday, to celebrate and welcome President Barack Obama to the White House. Pre-inaugural estimates of up to 3 million participants seemed on mark, with newspapers like the Washington Post calculating 2 million people on the Mall.

With many participants both with and without tickets unable to gain entry, the overall numbers are likely higher. “I had tickets and couldn’t get in,” said a New York City teacher whose story was echoed by many others.” We got here early but it was just too big.” Her family managed to watch President Obama’s speech at Union Station.

“You have to conceptualize this as a populist inauguration,” said political analyst, University of Maryland professor and long-time activist Ron Walters to the Washington Afro-American. “You have people coming here from all over the world; people coming from across the country – many bunking in with relatives – just because they want to be a part of history.”

As the millions gathered to observe the festivities, Wall Street stocks tumbled in the worst Inaugural Day plunge in a century, accenting the cloudy economic horizon and giving emphasis to President Obama's people-oriented themes. The stock market plunged over 332 points or 4 percent, wiping out January gains amid growing fears of bank instability.

The president’s speech seemed to anticipate these problems and was a continuation of themes struck during the presidential campaign. Obama said, “Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

Moments later, tracing the sacrifice of previous generations, he continued, “For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.”

Even the poet Elizabeth Alexander, says The New York Times, speaking after the president, highlighted working class themes: “Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.”

Still the event and speeches, with these touches and emphasis, spoke broadly to the nation about the economic challenges ahead and marked a sharp break with policies of the Bush administration and even a direct rebuke, as President Obama made particular reference to not sacrificing ideals for expediency in foreign policy. "We reject as false the choice as between our safety and our ideals," he said.

After the swearing-in Obama attended a traditional luncheon hosted by Congress, followed by a legislative session where several Cabinet appointments were approved. The huge outpouring of citizens from all over the country for the inaugural ceremony is sure to help hasten the approval of the president’s legislative agenda. According to press reports the first act of the new administration was to order a halt, pending further review, of all of former President Bush’s pending presidential regulations.

The inaugural parade extended into the afternoon, featuring a trade union float, representing the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and the teachers union, the first in many years at an inaugural. Over 200 workers marched and called for passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

The multicultural event, among many others, featured Irish musicians, a mariachi band, and a contingent of local Washingtonian youth playing local “go-go” music, a musical form particular to D.C.

President Obama's is to begin his day Wednesday with a prayer service followed by meetings with economic advisers and military leaders on Iraq and Afghanistan.

The president and first lady, in a promise to make government more accessible, are also to host a White House open house Wednesday.

Obama is also expected to act quickly to order the closing of the Guantanamo Bay military camp holding terror suspects, rescind Bush's ban on funding programs that support abortion and stem cell research.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why a Philosophy of the Natural Sciences is Needed

By Erwin Marquit

My answer to the question “Why is a philosophy of the natural sciences needed?” will take the form of several distinct components. Before enumerating them, I should point out that no separate Marxist philosophy of the natural sciences exists distinct from dialectical and historical materialism. Marxist philosophy of the natural sciences is the methodological application of dialectical and historical materialism to investigations in the various natural sciences.

1. The logic of the Marxist analysis of social development is based on the philosophical system of dialectical and historical materialism. Dialectical and historical materialism together constitute a unitary philosophical system. Comprehensive philosophical systems, or worldviews, are always universal in character, embracing the spheres of nature, society, and thought. In asserting the validity of their philosophical system, Marx and Engels felt it necessary to demonstrate that dialectical and historical materialism provide the universal logical basis for understanding processes of change in the spheres of nature and society as well as in the thought processes by which this understanding comes about. Engels stressed this in his work on the dialectics of nature when he wrote: “The fact that our subjective thought and the objective world are subject to the same laws, and, hence, too, that in the final analysis they cannot contradict each other in their results, but must coincide, governs absolutely our whole theoretical thought. It is the unconscious and unconditional premise for theoretical thought” (Engels 1987, 544).

2. By the 1870s, Marx and Engels had essentially established the law-governed revolutionary transformative character of the process leading from capitalism to socialism. They had laid the theoretical basis for a revolutionary political movement that would be needed in this process and participated actively in its formation. Already in 1844, Marx put forth the view: “The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism by weapons, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses” (1975, 182). An ideologically strong revolutionary political movement is needed to bring this material force into being. The material character of this movement was further elaborated by Lenin in outlining the organizational character of the party of a new type in What is to be Done? The reformist undermining of the thesis that a revolutionary movement is necessary was based on the mechanistic projection that the operation of dialectics of nature would inevitably bring about the self-destruction of capitalism, making unnecessary a class struggle oriented toward socialism. Therefore, according to Bernstein, and later Kautsky and Hilferding, the task of socialists was to work for reforms within the capitalist system (Azad 2005, 504). By ignoring the necessity of ideological struggle for the cause of socialism, they effectively discarded historical and dialectical materialism and turned dialectics of nature into a mechanistic determinism. But the transition from capitalism to socialism differs from previous societal transformations in that the process can only be brought about with conscious understanding of its nature and necessity. Life under the material conditions of existence under capitalism serves as the source for acquisition of this consciousness among the masses, but this acquisition cannot occur spontaneously through economic struggles. The consciousness must be imparted to them by the party that is guided by historical and dialectical materialism.

3. The Hegelian Marxists, such as Lukács, Korsch, and Gramsci, argued that dialectics is not applicable to nature and that in fact its application to nature is the source of the mechanistic determinism that led to reformism (Azad 2005, 307, drawing on Callinicos 1976, 70). In making this argument, they also rejected the Leninist reflection theory of knowledge as the basis for the Marxist-Leninist concept of the relationship between the two fundamental philosophical categories, matter and ideas. The understanding of this relationship lies at the heart of the Marxist concept of the scientific method. The idealist character of this view led to giving overriding priority to the development of a socialist consciousness while paying inadequate attention to strengthening the material organizational basis of the class struggle. Despite the common idealist character of their philosophies, Lukács, Korsch, and Gramsci differed considerably in their political orientation. Although Gramsci’s philosophical inclinations leaned toward idealism, he was in fact a Leninist in politics (Gedő 1993, 15, citing Argeri 1976, 141).

In the latter half of the twentieth century, the effectively reformist attempt to deny the applicability of dialectics to nature took the additional form of separating Marx from both Engels and Lenin. Marx was characterized affectionately as a humanist, while Engels and Lenin were characterized as crass materialists. Supporters of this view (for example, the well-known Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri) assert unabashedly that Marx never accepted the applicability of dialectics to nature, and that we have only Engels’s word for his doing so. Such assertions are made in spite of the fact that Avineri and others of that school were well aware of Marx’s letter to Kugelman in which he wrote that “the dialectical method” is “the method of dealing with matter” (27 June 1870, 528). Actually it was not necessary, of course, for Marx to state explicitly (although clearly he did) that dialectics applies to the sphere of nature. Hegel had already spelled this out in his works, as did Marx himself in Capital and elsewhere. Underlying the attempt to deny the applicability of dialectics to nature is a strong anti-Communism that dissociates itself from any political, organizational forms of class struggle. Reassertion of the integrity of historical and dialectical materialism and its applicability to nature, society, and thought strengthens the theoretical basis for engaging in day-to-day organized political struggle essential for opening up space for the development of a socialist consciousness.
for the full article click here

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Cuba 5 on the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Revolution

On the 50th anniversary of Cuba's socialist revolution, the CPUSA recognizes the heroism and revolutionary example of five Cuban men unjustly imprisoned in U.S. federal prisons for over ten years.

Arriving in Florida in the 1990's, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González joined private paramilitary groups in order to monitor and report on preparations for attacks against Cuba. For decades, right wing terrorists based in Florida had carried out murderous assaults which have cost the lives of many innocent people.

From the time of their arrest, the Five were subjected to cruel persecution. At their trial, which rampant with bias, the prosecution had free rein to commit egregious abuses of due process. Outrageously long sentences were handed down. UN human rights authorities and international jurists are of one voice in castigating judicial proceedings in the case of the Five.

Violation of civil rights and repudiation of judicial norms are two reasons why we joined the world solidarity movement on their behalf. The CPUSA fights for the Cuban Five also because of dedication to the Cuban Revolution. The U.S. government has cast these five revolutionaries as proxies for a government and people that resist. Our Party defends Cuba's right to protect its national sovereignty against the depredations of empire, and to continue without interference on the socialist path it has chosen.

Wholesale perversion of justice in the case of the Five serves as cover-up for hypocrisy. The U.S. government wages a so-called war on terrorism, yet has long sanctioned violent assaults on Cuba. Safe harbor provided arch terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who lives undisturbed in Miami, is one example.

The CPUSA issues an appeal for all in solidarity with the Five to reach out to fair-minded, politically conscious people to commit themselves to the Five. Such solidarity is overwhelmingly necessary if the nefarious influence of the corporate dominated media that has suppressed news of the case is to be overcome.

The time is now for our party and other activists to intensify educational efforts on the Five directed at union locals, peace groups, and civil rights organizations as preparation for communications to the media, meetings with elected officials, and public statements.

British and other international labor unions have taken up the cause of the Five as their own; we urge US trade unionists to do so also..

We are mindful that mobilization of progressive forces to demand a presidential pardon could eventually be required to complement the appeals process.

The CPUSA is part of the campaign to force the U.S. State Department to permit Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva to visit their imprisoned husbands, whom they have not seen for ten and almost nine years, respectively. At issue are rights of families and prisoners.

Lastly we urge that all in solidarity with the Five to correspond with the prisoners as a step toward lessening their isolation and as token of the worldwide movement on their behalf [below are the addresses].

Gerardo Hernandez
U.S.P. Victorville
P.O. Box 5300
Adelanto, CA 92301

Antonio Guerrero
U.S.P. Florence
P.O. Box 7000
Florence CO 81226

Luís Medina
U.S.P. McCreary
P.O. Box 3000
Pine Knot, KY 42635

(NOTE: the envelope should be addressed to "Luis Medina," but address the letter inside to Ramon Labañino)

Rubén Campa
FCI Terre Haute
P.O. Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808

(NOTE: the envelope should be addressed to "Rubén Campa," but address the letter inside to Fernando González)

René González
FCI Marianna
P.O. Box 7007
Marianna, FL 32447-7007