7/27: Study Series Part One -- State and Revolution

Join us this week for the first meeting in our Revolutionary Socialist Summer Study Series

Wed 7-9pm
UW Campus
Parrington Hall, Room 106

Part one: Marxism & the State 
The revolutionary waves sweeping the Middle East and North Africa raises anew the question of the power of the state: what kind of power does it wield, who should control it, and what is the best way to confront and change it? Join us for a two part discussion on the nature of the state and what must be done to create a truly democratic society.

WED July 27: State & Revolution

Marxism and the State - speech by Todd Chretien at Socialism 2011

Main reading:
State & Revolution by Lenin

Supplementary readings:
Socialism & Democracy by Paul LeBlanc (ISR)
The Origin of the Family, Private Property & the State by Engels
Marx & Engels on the Death of the State by Hal Draper

And next up in the series
We have
a Special presentation by the author Donny Gluckstein (visiting from London!) on the world’s first worker's democracy, The Paris Commune -- Check out the details here and pick up his book at any of our meetings


Palestine Blog #7: The Black Panther Party of Israel

Friday, July 22

After all I have learned from my teacher and friend Aaron Dixon, the founder of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party, I was especially intrigued and exited to learn about the Black Panther Party of Israel (I’ll refer to it as BPP-I). We were met by a young European Israeli who introduced us to the history of the BPP-I and showed us a short film about the founding of the party.  Later we got a walking tour from Reuben Abergel, an original founder of the Israeli Black Panthers.  The BPP-I was formed in the early 1970s by Mizrahi Jews—Jews of North African and Middle Eastern decent who faced sever racism in Israeli society—publicly spoken of by Israeli politicians as animals, denied access to proper education and housing, bared from jobs.  They thought about naming their organization the Roaring Lions, but they decided it would put more fear in the Israeli government to associate themselves with the militancy of the Black Panthers—and it worked.  Israel freaked out, and Mizrahi Jews began joining.  Critically, The BPP-I didn’t limit their political activity to defending Mizrahi Jews, but also joined in solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their rights in an important showing of solidarity across religions in the struggle for social justice. 


P.S. I got sick and had to leave the BPP-I tour early.  My illness kept me from writing for a couple of days and made me miss a day of the trip.  I have fully recovered now, and have had some amazing experiences staying in Palestinian homes in the West Bank over the last three days.  I hope to share them with you all soon.

Palestine Blog #6: African Palestinians: The Playbook of Liberation

Thursday, July 21st

Today African American Heritage delegation met with representatives of the African Palestinian community who have a small district in the Old City of Jerusalem.  African Muslims making their pilgrimage to Mecca from Senegal and north Africa would often add a trip to Palestine to visit the Al Aqusa Mosque. Over time, some of these Africans stayed and built up a community.  These African brothers and sisters welcomed us into their community and told us of their double burden of fighting against the Israeli occupation and against racism.  The were careful to distinguish between the prejudice they can sometimes receive from their Arab Palestinian bothers and sisters, and the institutional racism that is perpetrated against them from the Israeli state. 
This African Palestinian community lives very close to the Al Aqusa Mosque and have become some of the primary caretakers of it.  That is why when Arial Sharon and his Israeli security forces entered the grounds of the Mosque, these African Palestinians played an important role in the second intifada. 

The man we spoke to spent over a decade in an Israel prison for his involvement with the resistance.  He told us a moving story a successful hunger strike they underwent to get a basketball so they could have some recreation.  My thoughts immediately strayed back to the United States where Pelican Bay State prisoners have inspired inmates across California to conduct a hunger strike for their rights.

As Mark, a member of our African Heritage delegation, has repeated often on our trip, "Oppression uses the same playbook the world over, and so does liberation."


Palestine Blog #5: Zionism is Racism

Wednesday, July 20th 2011

We were all tense as we entered our bus this morning.

The night before, the African Heritage delegation to Palestine held a meeting to discuss how we would cope with our scheduled meeting in the morning with a group of Israeli settlers in Hebron that are led by the notorious right-wing extremist, David Wilder.  My dad Gerald had met with one of their representatives when he saw him three years ago and he had been upfront about the fact that Jewish people would take over Hebron, even if it meant killing all the Palestinians.

We were originally scheduled to meet with Wilder himself, but he was going to be away, so we were planning on meeting with one of his spokespeople.  Our decision, as an African American delegation to meet with his spokesperson wasn’t made lightly.  Several members of our delegation had direct confrontations with the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, and in Birmingham, Alabama, among other places during the 1950s and 60s.  We felt that to meet with this Israeli settlement society that is openly racist and proud of terrorizing Palestinians, throwing them out of their homes at gun point, and spitting on their children, would be akin to sitting down with the KKK to hear why they hate Black folks.  Needless to say, we didn’t decide to go to this meeting without a lot of consideration.  We concluded that we would be stronger advocates for Palestinian rights if we had heard directly from these settlers and could explain their ideological connection to the KKK with greater vividness.

As it turns out, the spokesman we met with made a concerted attempt to hide the message that my dad had gotten before—most likely it due to the fact that we were an African American delegation and he knew from the jump that we wouldn't like anything he said. He even tried to impress us by telling us that he has an Arab friend! Even with the restraint he was showing, he couldn’t resist a few disgusting lies such as the settlers are justified in taking Palestinian land because Palestinians choose not to be citizens.  After saying his piece he quickly cut off questions before I could get anything out and told us we could go to their museum where we would be met by a guide that could answer any further questions.  I was hoping that we would get a chance to grill this guide about the settlements—but the guide never showed up.


Click for bigger version
We then left to see the Palestinian side of the so-called H2 designated part of the city of Hebron. Every part of the Palestinian territory has a different legal designation—Zone A, B, C, H-1, and H2. When we got out of the van at the checkpoint, we were approached by a Palestinian kid, maybe four years old, who was selling bracelets.  The IDF soldiers didn’t want the kid around us and ran up to our delegation with his M-16 and told the kid to get behind the barricade.  This kid put a smile on my face as he was obviously taunting the soldiers in Arabic and running in between our legs to avoid the clutches of the IDF.

Finally, the soldier got a hold of his collar and dragged him behind the barrier.    


Next we went through the checkpoint to the Ibrahim Mosque—the same mosque where in 1994, an Israeli settler came in and shot down scores of Palestinians. In fact, later in the day we met a 19-year-old kid whose father was killed in the massacre and his family was left destitute, so he was on the street selling bracelets to tourists. While inside the Mosque, dozens of M-16 toting IDF came inside on a tour to see the tomb where Abraham is buried, not bothering to remove their shoes like everyone else in an effort to humiliate the Palestinians.


Finally, we met up with our tour guide, a man named Issa.  Issa is the leader of Students Against Settlements.  His first words to us related the story of him getting there to see us that day by crossing the check point. The IDF asked for his papers, took them and without looking at them sat back down in their station. When he complained that they had left him standing there for no reason, they came and hit him in the stomach.  Issa then got the commanding officer and complained to him, but the commander said he was lying.  Finally, they let him pass when he recited the law and threatened to contact an Israeli lawyer he knows.
Click for bigger version

Issa began the tour by showing us how the Palestinians closed down shops in Hebron, H-2 (meaning that Israel maintains security control and control of the municipal government).  The Israeli government wants to transfer all the Palestinians in H-2 Hebron, to H-1 Where the Israelis control the security but the Palestinians maintain the municipality and the social services.

The most incredible part of the tour came when we entered a section of the shopping district in the alley-way that had metal grates over the top of the corridor.  Issa explained that the settlement we had gone to earlier that day was directly above us, and that the Palestinians work and live down below where we were standing.  It was immediately apparent why they had constructed a grate over the entire corridor: the settlers had thrown all kinds of garbage, rocks, and knifes.  We saw one section of the grating that had been destroyed by acid they had thrown down and we found out that now they urinate out of their windows down on the Palestinian shops.  

As we were leaving Hebron I saw a concrete block that someone spray painted that read, “Zionism, is Racism.”

-Jesse Hagopian


Palestine Blog #4: I leaned more today than I have any other day of my life

 Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I leaned more today than I have any other day of my life.

In the morning our amazing tour guide, took us to the Old City—the section of East Jerusalem enclosed by original wall built by the Romans—and we saw most of the holiest sites for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. After going through a couple of security stations and metal detectors we began our tour by going to the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque—considered the third holiest site to Muslims. On September 28, 2000 Ariel Sharon disrespected the Palestinians entering the grounds of the Mosque with some 1,500 riot police, which touched off the second intifada (uprising), or what’s know as the “Al Aqsa intifada.” While our guide was explaining the religious significance of the mosque and the political history of its link to the intifada, a group of Israeli settlers, escorted by the IDF, came to the grounds of the mosque to provoke the Palestinians. In a show of resistance, the Palestinians began chanting “Allah Akbar”—“God is great". As their chants grew louder and more IDF showed up, it became quite tense and the even the IDF realized that the settlers should move along.

We then proceeded to some of the most sacred places to the three major monotheistic religions—including walking the path that Jesus took while he carried his cross to his crucifixion and the tomb from which he was resurrected.

In the afternoon we met with Micha, a former IDF soldier and now a member of the Israeli Committee against House Demolition (ICAHD). Micha was also the founding member of Breaking the Silence, an organization of former IDF soldiers speaking out against the occupation. He gave us a great history of the Zionist movement and the founding of Israel and at each point in his talk he explained the lies he learned in school and the reality of life for the Palestinians.

Afterwards, our delegations traveled with him on a tour of Jerusalem where he showed us this reality—and how the Israeli system of Apartheid works to control and degrade Palestinians. Since the 1970s, all of city of Jerusalem is part of Israel--divided into East Jerusalem where Palestinians live, and West Jerusalem where Jewish Israelis live.

We drove down a road in west Jerusalem with nice sidewalks and tree-lined streets, only to see it all disappear into the East Jerusalem ghetto. The first thing Micha pointed out was the small water towers on top of all of the houses because Israel doesn’t supply the Palestinians proper water.

He showed us Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem housed in trailers—no gym, no playground, no science labs...I immediately thought of the school/trailers in Haiti that the Clinton Foundation provided in Léogâne that was recently exposed to be filled with formaldehyde and the kids had to end the school year early because they were getting sick…Ahhh, occupations… Micha explained that as the textbooks in these Palestinian schools wear out they are increasingly receiving Israeli textbooks, which describe the founding of Israel as great movement for independence instead of a genocide and disposition.

He showed us a home that had been bulldozed by the Israeli government and explained the policy that has led to hundreds of Palestinians losing their homes; Palestinians have to get permits to modify their homes or build new ones, but they can only get these permits if they have the original documents and blueprints for their buildings. Since only wealthy Palestinians can have someone draw up these documents, the vast majority of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem can be deemed illegal and subject to demolition. The Israelis will post a note giving warning and then they will show up unannounced, remove the furniture from a home while most of the family is gone, and bulldoze it to the ground. Micha told us of one student who brought his favorite toy to school every day because it wasn’t sure when the bulldozers were coming.

Next he took us to a section of the apartheid wall—so called “security barrier”—that broke up East Jerusalem. The wall is really overwhelming; thirty feet in the air and spans some 600 miles. Micha broke down why the wall has nothing to do with Israeli security. There are enough gaps in the wall that anyone motivated enough to conduct a suicide bombing would probably be up for driving the extra couple of hours out of the way to get around the barrier. Moreover, Hamas has renounced suicide bombings. The real reasons behind the wall became clear to us on the ground—cut off Palestinians from important resources, such as the aquifers, and to cut off Palestinians from their land to open up space for more Israeli settlers to take over Palestinian land.

But as someone spray-painted on the wall, “The hands that build, can also tear down.”

-Jesse Hagopian

7/20: Women's Liberation and Socialism & Organzing at UW

Please Note: We have shifted our summer meeting space to UW due to difficulty getting a room at SCCC.

Wed 7-9pm
UW Campus
Parrington Hall, Room 106

1) Women's Liberation and Socialism:
The most accurate way to judge a society, wrote Leon Trotsky, a leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, is to look at the position of women. The day-to-day realities for the majority of working women in the U.S. today--lower wages, dwindling reproductive freedom, and discrimination and harassment on the job--reveal a society that doesn't measure up at all to that standard. We'll discuss the idea that the discrimination and oppression suffered by women lies in capitalism--and that socialism offers the hope of a new world of freedom.

Some readings:
Women's liberation and socialism
A woman's place is in the revolution
Engels and the origins of women's oppression
Women, work and the family today
Whatever happened to feminism?

And an audio recording of a fabulous talk from the Socialism conference: Raunch Culture and the New Sexism 

2) Assessment of the UW branch (60 min)
This summer both our branches (UW students and city branch) are meeting together. In this section UW comrades will present an assessment of how things went at UW this spring. Come be part of the discussion to assess both the strengths and weaknesses of the organizing and help make plans for a strong fall kick-off!


Palestine Blog #3: “What is the purpose of your trip?” The African Heritage Delegation enters Israel/Palestine

July 18th, 2011

Today the historic African Heritage delegation of IFPB stepped on to Palestinian soil. We are joined by the “Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Leaders” young peoples’ delegation co-sponsored by IFPB and AFSC. We arrived in the Ben-Gurion airport in Tel-Aviv and in general we didn’t have an inordinate amount of obstacles to entering the country.

At the same time, a few of us were targeted for special questioning that made for a very tense atmosphere. Given that Palestinian solidarity activists had conducted a “Flytilla” civil disobedience delegation to Israel last week, we knew that the security would be heightened.

Avery, a member of our delegation, realized he was being observed on our flight from the UK to Tel-Aviv. A man sat next to him that asked him a lot of questions about our trip and our reasoning for coming to Israel. When Avery asked this man if he had any suggestions for where to go he replied, “Ask your trip leader,” making it clear that his questions weren’t friendly airplane chatter. Then as soon as I got off the plane, an airport security agent pulled me aside and grilled me: “What is the purpose of your trip?…Where are you going?...What is the purpose of your stay?…Which locations are you going to?...Why are you here?” If I had answered, “To help bring about peace and justice,” I would have surly been deported. So I just said, “To see the Holy Land,” over and over again. She eventually let me go join up with the rest of the delegation.

When I got to passport control, the first question the women asked me was, “What religion are you?” After a few questions she decided I need further interrogation. She pulled me out of line, took my passport, and proceeded to a back room. She emerged a few minuets later with a man who approached me speaking in Arabic. I told him I didn’t understand what he was saying, and replied, “Are you sure?” Once it was established that I didn’t speak Arabic, the women then began going through the questions again, “Why are you here, where are you going, how long are you going to be here, etc…” Fortunately, the Jewish leader of the Youth delegation was by my side during this round of questioning. She explained that the purpose of our trip was to see the Holy Land. Then when she explained that she had studied in Israel and knew my father that they ceased questioning me and allowed me to pass.

Getting on our tour bus was a relief, but I could feel the tension in the group grow again as our tour guide began to explain what we were seeing out of the window. He explained that Israeli license plates were all yellow and Palestinian license plates were green and white. He told us that we wouldn’t see any of the green and white plates on the road we were taking because Palestinians would be subject to relentless harassment by the IDF if they were to travel on this road. He then proceeded to point out roads nearby that disappeared into a hill and told us that Palestinians have to use a separate highway network in the region that is largely underground. This network of roads often greatly increases travel times. The apartheid apparatus began to come into focus as we passed through two check points on our way from the airport in Tel-Aviv, saw barbed wire fences lining the highways, and heard the explanation from our guide about the different legal statuses that Palestinians live under, depending on their location.

We made it to the Holy Land Hotel and I am going to crash soon…We have a tour of the Old City early tomorrow morning.


Palestine Blog #2: Where in the world is reconciliation peace and justice needed most?

“As a people who survived the middle passage and Jim Crow segregation—and organized successful struggles against those forms of oppression—we have a responsibility speak out about the occupation of Palestine and share with Palestinians the lessons of our struggles.” My dad and trip leader, Gerald, powerfully expressed the reasoning underpinning our African Heritage delegation to Palestine during our orientation today with the Interfaith Peace Builders.

And one after another, each of the Black activists who explained why they had chosen to participate in this delegation proceeded to electrify the room with their stories of how they had become politically active and dedicated to Palestinian liberation. Several of the delegates grew up in the Jim Crow South and participated in Black freedom struggle there. Gloria (pictured at right) grew up in Mississippi, led some of the sit-ins, and was one of the first Black teachers to integrate a formerly white school in the state. Mark, the final speaker told a moving story of a time when he was faced with a life threatening trip to the intensive care unit. After surviving that experience he was searching for what his purpose in life was. He concluded with a description of a conference he attended called, “The Jamestown Summit for Atoning for the Legacy of Slavery and Genocide,” where the question was asked at the end of the conference that has come to define his purpose: “Where in the world is reconciliation peace and justice needed most?” He is answering that question by joining our delegation.

Today we leave on this the first African heritage delegation to Palestine. I can’t express how fortunate I am to be traveling to this land of apartheid and resistance with people who helped win the Black freedom struggle that brought down the Jim Crow system.

This experience will surely change my life.


P.S. I hear that the some of the activists in the flotilla got their boat out of the harbor in Greece are pressing ahead with their voyage to deliver aid to Gaza. I hope they make it!


Jesse is Headed to Palestine -- and he'll be blogging!

On July 17th Jesse Hagopian will be traveling to the West Bank of the Palestinian occupied territories. He is joining a delegation of African Americans led by the Interfaith Peace Builders (for more information about his delegation visit: http://www.ifpb.org/africanheritage/default.html). During his two week trip, Jesse will be meeting with activists on all sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, doing several home stays with Palestinian families in the West Bank, taking a tour of the apartheid wall, and visiting schools.

Jesse  will be providing regular updates on his travels through this blog -- so check back often and please help spread the word to all those fighting for Palestinian liberation!

Jesse will be reporting back on his experience in Seattle in early August. For more information on potential events or to request Jesse to come speak with your organization, please call 206-309-7274 or email info@seattleiso.org.

Palestine Blog #1: To Speak Truth with Power

I was living in Washington D.C. in 2002 when the struggle for Palestinian liberation first entered into my political consciousness. I had been working with the Mobilization for Global Justice to help organize a protest at the site of the World Bank against their structural adjustment programs and neoliberal economic policies that were devastating developing countries’ economies. While we were organizing this demonstration I began to take more notice of news describing the second Palestinian “intifada” or uprising. Some of the organizers who knew much more about politics in the Middle East and the Palestinian struggle for liberation from Israel decided that our protest against the World Bank should also take up the issues facing Palestinians and their supporters. On the day of the protest I was surprised to see a contingent of some ten thousand Palestinians and their Muslim and Arab supporters marching towards our demonstration of half the size. But it wasn’t only the size of the pro-Palestine contingent that caught me off guard. Their bellowing cry of “Free, Free Palestine/Long Live Palestine/Long Live the Intifada/Intifada, Intifada” infused the rally with an urgency that I had never felt at a protest before. After that demonstration I knew I had to find out what had animated so many thousands of people around Palestinian rights.

Since I began studying the Israeli occupation of Palestine, I have seen Israel devastate the Palestinian population with weapons made in the USA; I have seen Israel launch a war on Lebanon with false pretense; I have seen them build an apartheid wall through the West Bank that has demolished homes and cut off Palestinians from their farm land; I have seen Israel turn the Gaza strip into a giant prison by sealing off the boarders and refusing to allow medical supplies and other basic necessities to enter. I have seen Israel murder aid workers on a flotilla that was sent to break the blockade of Gaza and deliver medical supplies.

I say I have seen all these things, but in reality I have only read about them—so when my dad invited me to join him on an African American delegation to Palestine that he was helping to lead, I knew I had to go.

At the same time I wasn’t sure if I should go.

A year and a half ago my one-year-old son, wife, and I survived the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. My wife was scheduled to lead a training on HIV and we had arrived in Haiti two days before the quake. In the aftermath of the quake we helped set up a make shift clinic in front of the hotel to assist hundreds of badly injured Haitians who were coming for first aid. This experience took a toll on me physiologically and has been difficult to cope with at times. This is why when I told a friend I was thinking of going to Palestine he said, “Can’t you just go to Hawaii this summer?” He had a point, I could use some R&R.

And yet my experience in Haiti also made me want to go to Palestine more than ever. In the aftermath of the quake I saw the way the world’s powerful nations allow aid to pile up on the tarmac of the airport and refuse to deliver desperately needed food and water. I saw the U.S. respond by sending over 20,000 troops to Haiti, a country that needed 20,000 doctors.

And then I also saw the corporate media coverage that trumpeted the amazing relief effort that was carried out under difficult conditions.

The Haitian people are still living under a UN occupation that is being funded and directed by the United States. The impact this occupation may be hard to learn about in the U.S., but for Haitians it is clear: there are still hundreds of thousands of Haitians who are still homeless, the UN has introduced cholera to the island that has already killed more than 5,000 people, and the U.S./UN oversaw a completely fraudulent election that brought to power an ally of the former dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier. While we in the U.S. occasionally hear about the difficult plight of the Haitian people, we are rarely told of the U.S.’s role in maintaining the misery.

I am now committed to going to the country that has been under the longest occupation; to see, unfiltered by fox news, the struggles of the Palestinian people. I hope to come back home and, as one of the Black women who helped organize our delegation put it, “Speak truth with power.”


P.S. Tomorrow night I leave for Washington, D.C. for a one-day orientation with the other delegates and then on Sunday we leave for Palestine. I hope to provide regular updates on my experiences in the West Bank.


No Cuts to Metro, No Regressive Taxes!

Chris Mobley testifies at the Metro Transit Hearing on 7/12/11. No Cuts to Metro Service, No Regressive Taxes, Make the Employers Pay!

Look out for a full article authored by Chris explaining the budget crisis and alternative solutions to the the $20-car-tab-fee, it will be posted soon!

7/13 Austerity and Struggle in Greece & Summer Study Series

Wed 7/13 7pm 
SCCC room 4115

Meeting Agenda

1) Europe's Hot Summer Pt 1: Greece (45)

As Greece once again nears the prospect of defaulting on its debt, the government is calling for even more austerity on workers who have already seen their livelihoods drastically reduced. The response has been over a month of mass strikes, occupations of the public squares and crackdown by the police. Discuss the ongoing revolt in Greece and what it means for the rest of the region and the world.

Latest coverage from SW:
What happens if Greece defaults?
From Austerity to Action
What's at Stake in Greece?
Showdown in Greece
The Struggle of the Squares

2) Meeting location change (15)
So it looks like we don't have club status at SCCC after all and will be looking to move meetings to UW for the summer. Details will be provided at the meeting and alternate proposals may be raised.

3) Marxist Summer Study Series Proposal (20)
After last week's discussion we have a tentative proposal for our summer study series. Details are below. It's ambitious but we think doable if we put the time into it. This will also be a great series for newer folks to read with us and really explore and discuss the foundations of our politics. Questions, changes, counterproposals are welcome and then we'll put it to a vote.

Note on the Lenin readings: the suggestion is that anyone who hasn't yet read Building the Party focus on that, otherwise read the LeBlanc. If you've read both then you can focus on the supplemental readings-- there is plenty there!

4) Jesse's going to Palestine! (30)
As most of you probably heard by now our own comrade Jesse will be leaving for Palestine at the end of the week! Hear about his plans and discuss what kind of report back events are being planned on his return.

Marxist Summer Study Series Proposal:

Part one: Marxism & the State

July 27: State & Revolution
Main reading:
State & Revolution by Lenin

Supplementary readings:
Socialism & Democracy by Paul LeBlanc (ISR)
The Origin of the Family, Private Property & the State by Engels
Marx & Engels on the Death of the State by Hal Draper

August 10: The Paris Commune

Main reading:
The Paris Commune: A Revolutionary Democracy by Donny Gluckstein

Supplementary readings:
The Civil War in France by Marx (plus ISR Review)
The Women Incendiaries by Edith Thomas

Part two: Lenin & the Party
August 24: Party & Class
Main Reading:
Party & Class (essays)

Supplementary Readings:
Lenin's Theory of the Party by Todd Chretien (ISR)
Lenin's Return by Helen Scott, Paul LeBlanc & Lars Lih (ISR)
Marxism & the Party by John Molynieux

September 7: The Birth of Bolshevism through 1905
Main Reading:
Building the Party by Tony Cliff, Ch. 1-12
Lenin and the Revolutionary Party by Paul LeBlanc, Ch. 1-6

September 21: Lenin & the Bolsheviks 1906-1914
Building the Party by Tony Cliff, Ch. 13-20
Lenin and the Revolutionary Party by Paul LeBlanc, Ch. 7-10

Supplementary Readings (for both sections):

The Myth of Lenin's Elitism by Paul D'Amato (ISR)
The Birth of Bolshevism by Paul D'Amato (ISR)
What is Economism? by Duncan Hallas (ISR)
Leninism Under Lenin by Marcel Liebman
Lenin's Political Thought by Neil Harding
Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be Done in Context by Lars Lih


TUES: Metro Transit Cuts Hearings!

The hearings on the Metro Transit cuts are tonight!

Every significant bus route is on the chopping block. Metro is facing a 17% service reduction. Nearly 80% of bus riders will have their route either reduced or eliminated. In a region where half of our greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation these cuts will not only be devastating to our community, but also to our environment.

Join us tonight at the public hearing on the cuts to begin a campaign to demand no cuts to our transit service. Working people didn't create the economic crisis, so why should we pay for Wall St.'s greed?

6-8pm (we'll be getting there at 5:30)
King County Council Chambers, 10th floor
516 Third Avenue (at James)
Seattle, WA 98104

Join us to testify against the cuts, and help sign people up to engage in a grassroots, direct action campaign against any cuts. The hearings are focused on whether or not to adopt a $20 car tab fee to fill the budget gap, but our main focus will be against any cuts. Ultimately, the businesses in King County that depend on their employees being able to get to and from work need to pay for quality, accessible public transit -- not working-class drivers.


7/6: Socialism Conference Report Back & Summer plans

Wed 7/6  7-9pm
Seattle Central Community College, Room 4115

Meeting Agenda:

 1) Socialism 2011 report back (50 min)
This year's Socialism conference was the best yet-- with 1300 people attending from all across the the US and several other countries as well. We heard from those on the front lines of the struggle from Egypt to Wisconsin, and discussed how we can rebuild a fighting revolutionary left in this country. Check out the report-back article in the post below and look for video and audio recordings of the workshops at wearemany.org - there are already a few up with many many more to come in the next few weeks.

We'll have a round robin report from those of us who attended the conference sharing our experience, what were our favorite workshops, what did we learn and how we can apply these lessons to our work here in Seattle in the year to come.

2) SAVE THE DATE: Donny Gluckstein in Seattle! (20 min)
Author of numerous books and longtime member of the British Socialist Workers Party Donny Gluckstein will be in Seattle on vacation this summer and has graciously offered to do a couple meetings with us while he's in town. This will just be a short section to discuss how we want to build for these two meetings:

8/3: The Revolt Against Austerity in Britain
Check out these SW articles on the recent public sector worker's strike there:

8/8: The Paris Commune: A Revolutionary Democracy
For this one be sure and pick up a copy of Gluckstein's book just republished by Haymarket! http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/The-Paris-Commune

3) Summer education plans (30 min)
Hopefully people have lots of ideas coming out of the conference! The center is suggesting full branch study groups on Leninism. We can potentially do a couple things as a whole branch as well as smaller groups meeting separately. Let's discuss and vote on what we want to do.

Where socialism was in the air

Nicole Colson reports from Chicago on the Socialism 2011 conference--a gathering of important left voices and activists from both the U.S. and around the globe.
Socialism 2011 participants join in a final rally to cheer the 
struggles unfolding around the world (Jeff Boyette | SW)
MORE THAN 1,300 socialists and activists from across the U.S. and around the globe turned out in Chicago June 1-4 for "Socialism 2011: Revolution in the Air," sponsored by the Center for Economic Research and Social Change and cosponsored by the International Socialist Organization.

The conference is the largest annual gathering of socialists in the U.S.--this year's was the largest single conference in the more than two decades that it has been held. Multiracial and multi-generational, participants expressed new optimism about fighting for a better world, especially after the inspiring revolutions and rebellions in the Middle East, and the mass workers' protests in Madison, Wis.

As he began his discussion of "Civil Liberties Under Obama," Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald told the crowd:
I speak at a lot of events these days, a lot of college campuses and conferences and the like, and this is definitely the most--what's the word?...energetic gathering that I've ever been at.
It's interesting, a lot of times, that if people gather for the purpose of engaging in systemic critiques of political systems and political power and the like, this sort of gloominess sets in--I'm sure you're familiar with it and have encountered it--that's grounded in this defeatism...
The exact opposite energy has been really palpable at this conference. Not just this commitment to talking about the need for change, but a real belief in the possibility for it. It's really encouraging and inspiring to be around a gathering of so many people from so many different age groups and backgrounds who really are committed to that vision.
Phil Smith, an ISO member in Denton, Texas, was at his first Socialism conference. "I thought it was excellent," he said, "I live in a very conservative state and, by necessity, [left-wing activists are] very close in Texas. It's really great to come up to Chicago and have people from all over the country. You don't even know these people, and you're instantly just as close-knit. I've never experienced anything like this."

Smith said one of the best meetings he attended was SocialistWorker.org columnist Sherry Wolf speaking on "The Myths of Zionism." "The energy in the room was really fantastic," he said. "Everyone in the room was for [Palestinian liberation], and it was interesting being in a room with 80 people totally down for Palestine. A room of atheists, Jews, Muslims."

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THERE WERE more than 120 talks throughout the weekend on topics ranging from the Marxist theory of the state, to the need for a new abortion rights movement, to the uprisings in the Middle East.
Talks by Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti, a founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, were packed with Palestinian rights activists talking about their attempts to promote the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Meanwhile, at a meeting on "Abortion Without Apology: The Case for a New Movement," a packed room of activists from across the U.S. spoke not just of the need for a new women's rights movement, but of what they are doing now to make it happen.

Lindie Ngobeni, a member of the ISO from Boston who also was attending the conference for the first time, said, "It was awesome to see just how many people there were attending. I've been at UMass-Boston organizing, and to actually see this on a bigger scale puts things in perspective--what you're building for when you're doing something on your campus, and what it's part of in the larger sense."
Mark Clements, an organizer with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and former prisoner who served 28 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit, said, "It was an exciting opportunity to allow people to grow." He spoke along with Leela Yellesetty on "Challenging the New Jim Crow."

Clements added: "That's what activism is all about, teaching people about what needs to be confronted. We're dealing with so many different issues--from housing, to discrimination of rights, down to juveniles being mistreated by our criminal justice system. I think that [the conference] was dynamite. I'm waiting on next year already."

Dr. John Carlos--the 1968 Olympic medalist who, along with Tommy Smith, raised the Black Power salute at the Mexico City Games--also spoke at Socialism. "To come back to the Socialism conference is fantastic--to see so many young, enthusiastic people trying to make it a better society for all people and have no fear for who the enemy may be," he said. "They are trying to make what's wrong right."
Carlos spoke alongside Nation sportswriter Dave Zirin, on "Sports and Resistance," and he also premiered his book The John Carlos Story, cowritten with Zirin. As Carlos said, "For me to come back and have an opportunity to convey some of my thoughts and feelings, and some of my history and my experiences, it's a wonderful feeling."

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SOME OF the most inspiring moments of the weekend came from activists from the Middle East who have witnessed firsthand the power of ordinary people to change the world.

"We are at a moment now where we see the utter bankruptcy of the political system in this country as a vehicle for progressive change on any issue," Ali Abunimah told a packed plenary session of more than 1,000 people. "If we want this change to happen, we're going to have to go out and do it ourselves, just like they're doing it in Egypt."

Mostafa Omar, an activist living in Cairo, spoke of the importance of bringing together activists from various struggles not only around the U.S., but across the globe:
The thing that I really got from the conference is that there are so many socialists and activists involved in a wide variety of struggles--many, many struggles all around this country. If you look at them from the inside, they might look small. But if you look at the bigger picture, these struggles are incredibly important, whether they win or lose. Every single struggle in the United States really is a stepping stone towards developing consciousness and organization.
The other thing that I noticed is the tremendous amount of commitment from those socialists and activists on a daily basis. A commitment, not only to fight those small struggles, but to prepare for a bigger battle to change the whole system. We've also had many, many small struggles in Egypt--and sometimes, people didn't know where these struggles would go. But ultimately, every single struggle they fought over the years made a difference in January and February 2011.
These are lessons that activists in the U.S. are learning as well. At the weekend's final plenary session, Sam Jordan, a long-time member of the ISO in Madison, Wis., spoke about the battle over workers' rights in Wisconsin:
We're at a point where we can see the day when...we can cast aside the parasites who exploit us every day. There's a real possibility to build a socialist movement in the United States, capable of ushering in a society that is organized to meet human need, not corporate greed.
Recordings from many of the conference talks will be available at WeAreMany.org.