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Towards a Program of Resistance: DEMANDS AGAINST U.S. IMPERIALISM

by Program Demand Group of the Strategy Center Saturday, Oct. 14, 2000 at 1:01 PM
laborctr@mindspring.com 213-387-2800 3780 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1200; Los Angeles 90010

The Clinton/Gore team, in its efforts to create a Center-Right program with a strategy to isolate the Left, the liberals, and the far right, has evolved a sophisticated program to orient U.S. imperialist policy. The Left needs a set of proposals to counter this policy around which mass movements can rally locally, nationally, internationally.

errorOn the occasion of the Democratic National Convention 2000 in Los Angeles
AhoraNow
Initiates a Working Paper by the Program Demand Group of the Labor/Community Strategy Center

DRAFT DOCUMENT
Towards a Program of Resistance
WE MAKE THESE DEMANDS AGAINST THE INSTITUTIONS OF U.S. IMPERIALISM


The Program Demand Group of the Labor/Community Strategy Center
Kirti Baranwal
Rita Burgos
Alex Caputo-Pearl
Woodrow Coleman
Martn Hernndez
Barbara Lott-Holland
Kate Kinkade
Eric Mann
Lian Hurst Mann
Kikanza Ramsey
Geoff Ray
Ted Robertson
Daniel Widener


DRAFT DOCUMENT Towards a Program of Resistance

WE MAKE THESE DEMANDS AGAINST THE INSTITUTIONS OF U.S. IMPERIALISM


The Clinton/Gore team, in its efforts to create a Center-Right program with an accompanying strategy to isolate the Left, the liberals, and the far right, has evolved a sophisticated program to orient U.S. imperialist policy. The Left needs a set of proposals that counter this policy around which mass movements can rally locally, nationally, and internationally.

At the Strategy Center we have chosen to spend the vast majority of our energies on the exceedingly difficult tasks involved in building multiracial, multi-class, independent social movements that confront corporate and governmental elites in the arenas of civil rights, mass transportation, reforms in labor union organizing, and environmental justice. In these arenas, we have never had a concrete organizing campaign in which the Clinton administration was even a passive ally; rather, in many cases the Clinton apparatus has been an adversary or even an enemy. Practice has shown us that the challenge to progressives, let alone leftists, is to oppose the reactionary trajectory of both the Bush and Gore campaigns and to realize that any alternative will involve a politics that is not a liberal extension of the Clinton strategy but rather its opposite. In order to advance such an opposition, we are attempting to go beyond a shopping list of the demands that currently are fostering militant social movements to present a coherent program that challenges the policies of the two-party capitalist system of the United States.

As social movements around the world seek solidarity in struggling for their demands, the Program Demand Group at the Strategy Center seeks to bring coherence, then focus, to a series of interrelated structural demands. The demands we present are winnable, at least in theory, within the structures of imperialism, but winning requires militant, multiracial, mass-based Left social movements tied tog ether in developed national and international coalitions of organizations, movements, and political forces. Many such movements and coalitions have been dismantled or are not yet in existence. As history has shown us, the forces we believe are required cannot be willed into being, but must and evolve out of existing forms of struggle. We believe that a key link in this evolution is the articulation of oppositional proposals, which can be exchanged, explored, debated, and tested in practice.

In this context, the Program Demand Group at the Strategy Center seeks to stir up debate on some of the burning questions fundamental to strategy at this historic juncture. We believe that the different ways progressive people respond to these questions, especially to the interconnections between them, establish commitment to one or another strategy, whether we are aware of it or not. Thus, we propose that all of us who are situated on the front lines of struggles of resistance will benefit greatly from theorizing our practice, sharing discussion of our aims and experiments, and debating about the lessons we think we learn from the different political lines of march we take.

We are aiming these demands at the institutions of imperialist power globally and domestically--the U.S. government, the political parties, U.S. corporations, international bodies such as the G8, WTO, IMF, which the U.S. dominates.

For the purpose of developing these demands, we assert our fundamental unifying premise that the mechanisms that establish class, race, and gender relationships are integral to the operation of the social totality of transnational imperialism led by the United States. Thus, U.S. imperialisms expansion depends upon the subjugation of whole peoples and races manifested in a global program of systematic economic exploitation, national oppression, the subjugation of women, the degradation of nature, increasing imposition of human suffering and destruction of human dignity. And successful world domination by the United States depends not only on its openly repressive practices but, increasingly, it depends on all the manipulative ideological practices involved in building world-wide consent to its empire. Psychological, ideological agreement is fundamental to the functioning of U.S. hegemony, that is, domination by means of consent. We aim to undermine the program of US imperialism, its policies and practices with a strategy of resistance. The demands are transitional; they do not constitute a program for a future in which the people of the world control their economic and political relationships, although our vision of the future is imbedded in our present demands. We aim to plant seeds of change in a counterhegemonic program that captures our imaginations and can motivate masses of people to envision the possible.

The component groups and projects of the think-tank/act-tank Labor/Community Strategy Center base our work on the presumption that social practice is the caldron in which the social totality can be seen, the current conditions analyzed, the burning questions of our time can be theorized, and alchemy of strategy and tactics conjured. Our history rests on a practice of developing demands that link specific mass struggles to the need for broad structural changes. This approach has generated some of the most powerful social movements in Los Angeles for two decades. In the Reagan/Bush, Clinton/Gore era of lowered expectations, the UAW Keep GM Van Nuys Open campaign and the Labor/Community Coalition stopped General Motors from closing down the last and largest auto plant in California for a period of ten years; the Labor/Community WATCHDOG environmental justice campaign exposed Texaco and the oil giants who are poisoning the low-income, predominantly Latino community known as Wilmington; and the Billions for Buses: Fight Transit Racism campaign of the Bus Riders Union/Sindicato de Pasajeros is aggressively obstructing the Los Angeles MTAs racist destruction of the regional bus system.

On the occasion of the 2000 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Los Angeles, the Program Demand Group presents a draft set of demands that we believe can further advance our work and aid the struggle of many people for clarity over strategy and tactics.


COMPONENTS OF THE STRATEGY CENTERS APPROACH TO DEMAND DEVELOPMENT

The Labor/Community Strategy Center has long focused tremendous attention on demand development. There are many contradictions, crises, atrocities that concern us as a multinational, multi-issue organization, but the strategic approach that we use helps us craft demands so that many dilemmas are addressed and the targets are clear. The Strategy Center, by focusing on the ideological and structural challenges to the foundations of empire, takes a radical approach to reforms, reflected in campaigns, demands, mass movements of oppressed nationalities and the multinational working class, and an ideology of resistance. As we present the following strategic demands, we want to explain the political framework we use in demand development.

A. We select demands that are explicitly anti-racist and that place a specific campaign within an international framework of anti-imperialism.

B. We select demands with counter-hegemonic content that can challenge the domination of capitalist ideology.

C. We select demands that create new forms of struggle that break with the culture of accommodation to expand space for antagonistic, adversarial negotiation with corporations and the government.

D. We select demands that create new forms of organization as platforms for expanding power from which to demand greater rights, power and influence.

E. We select demands that, if won, radically redistribute power and resources to the oppressed.

F. We select demands that create experiences which teach the interrelationship of multiple issues in the complex political system we are challenging.

This document is a DRAFT, a work-in-progress that we hope will provide a basis of discussion. We proceed with the understanding that the demands are incomplete, their scopes are different, and the distinction of categories, while useful, is fluid and ultimately artificial. There are many important single-issue demands being presented by people around the world in struggle against U.S. imperialism. Where possible, we are trying to incorporate the demands of existing social movements, while struggling to sharpen the politics that has become our basis of unity. In every category there are political differences among progressives, and at times the demands that we initially thought we embraced actually contradicted each other; by looking at them together we have made some sharp political choices that are reflected not only in our strategic demands but in the demands we have crafted for the focus campaigns we prioritize. Thus, while at the present time we present the demands in outline form without extensive explanation, our objective is to cohere a political unity that will be distinct and establish a basis for debate and for the development of more elaborated writings.

The specific approach we have undertaken in building our unity in this document-in-progress involved the following steps.
 We have attempted to analyze the current conditions we face with regard to the central attacks of U.S. imperialism that are embedded in the Clinton/Bush/Gore consensus.
 We have grappled with some of the central dilemmas for the Left that cause confusion, struggle, and ultimately become decisive in shaping different political trends.
 We have categorized demands into strategic challenges, that is, structural demands that strike at the heart of U.S. imperialism so that, if won, they would advance radical, systemic change.
 We have selected and emphasized the radical demands of campaigns we prioritize. These demands are, at least in theory, winnable under capitalism, yet taken together, they create a picture of what we would propose for an alternate form of governance.
I. U.S. Intervention around the globegovernment and corporations
What can the organized Left and the social movements demand of the institutions of U.S. imperialism to counter its world domination of global military, economic, and political affairs?

CURRENT CONDITIONS

We analyze the principal contradiction in the world today to be between U.S. imperialism and its international policies and apparatuses on the one hand and the exploited and oppressed nations and peoples of the world on the other hand. The Group of 8, led by the U.S., dominates the globe. By focusing on this character of imperialist aggression, it becomes possible to see just how much conquest, empire, and the development of sado-capitalism--the ideology of white and European supremacy, racism, military domination, torture, murder, and barbarism--is central to the development of the west and Western culture.



Therefore, as the internationalist perspective of our work has grown through ten years of practice, we find ourselves placing a frontal challenge to U.S. imperialism in its many manifestations, from its determination to be the policing power of a new world order to its intensification of structural racism and aggression against the many nationalities now being exploited and oppressed within the borders of the United States. The fact that we agree on a primary contradiction does not mean that we are not aware of many, many other critically important contradictions. Indeed, temporarily, for tactical or temporal reasons, another contradiction can become primary in terms of tactics, but we believe that over a long period, the resolution of the principal contradiction will determine strategy and will shape the resolution of all other contradictions.

There is no organized anti-imperialist or socialist center to challenge U.S. hegemony. The U.S. ruling class has organized the AFL-CIO labor bureaucracy and the U.S. bourgeoisie of color to its pro-imperialist coalition, and there is virtually no organized movement within the U.S. against imperialism, either based on the class struggle for national self-determination and liberation inside the U.S. or in support of anti-imperialist struggles outside U.S. borders. Yet, the world over peoples are struggling to resist the ravages of U.S. imperialist interventions. Thus, we give priority to all such struggles outside the U.S. and to any form of organized resistance within the U.S., no matter how partial. Weakening U.S. imperialism and the totalitarianism of the American plan is our primary objective. The creation of an anti-imperialist united front as a center of resistance is our organizational and ideological focus.

DILEMMAS

For the most part, demands against U.S. aggression are straightforward. But it is not uncommon to see demands for the U.S. to stop imperialist policies that take the form of asking the U.S. military to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations, usually nations that the U.S. has already been dominating or influencing. For example, when the elected Aristede government in Haiti was overthrown by a military coup (with strong U.S. support), the Congressional Black Caucus and other black progressives demanded U.S. intervention to re-install Aristede and get the military junta to step down. Clinton sent Jimmy Carter to negotiate a withdrawal of the very military government the U.S. had helped come to power while pressuring Aristede to institute policies affirming ties to the U.S. and to reject running for re-election. This created a new form of U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of Haiti.

Another example concerns China. We are all motivated to act in defense of the students struggling for democracy, the old revolutionary cadre who are now being imprisoned for their activism, the right of Tibetans to exercise self-determination. Yet, when western human rights groups ask the U.S. government to sanction China, when the reactionary nationalist Chinese in the west ask the U.S. government to prepare to use force in order to obstruct the negotiated reunification of Taiwan with the mainland, or when the AFL-CIO trade unions use the guise of concern for the rights of Chinese workers to, in fact, demand that the U.S. government protect jobs for U.S. workers by denying China normal international trade relationships, in reality complete authority is given to U.S. imperialism to act with aggression against a sovereign nation. When U.S. corporations are already intervening in the development of Chinas economy, using every means available, we have a serious problem if the U.S. Left asks our imperialist government to exercise its power of domination in order to deny China normal diplomatic and trade status. In the case of China, this sovereign nation is the greatest potential counter-weight to U.S. world domination, which makes the demand for U.S. sanctions even more problematic for the Left.

There are many examples of countries in which there are even more serious violations of international human rights conventions, yet there is no country more brutal than the Unites States. Whatever other approaches we might develop, we cannot allow the U.S. to be the worlds police force and moral judge. Thus, the Program Demand Group at the Strategy Center focuses more on the long term and structural danger of continued U.S. intervention than on the possible, although questionable, short term gains of inviting U.S. intervention. We focus here on stopping U.S. intervention and prioritize campaigns that demand U.S. military, economic, and political withdrawal of forces.

STRATEGIC DEMANDS AROUND WHICH THE STRATEGY CENTERS PROGRAM GROUP IS UNIFIED

We call upon the U.S. government and all U.S. corporations to stop policies of aggression against sovereign nations, whether through political diplomacy, the economic speculation of private corporations, the restructuring policies of the U.S.-dominated international apparatuses of the Group of 8 nations, the IMF and World Bank, or covert/overt military operations. We call on the U.S. government to withdraw from all colonies and grant them sovereignty and independence.

FOCAL CAMPAIGNS WE PRIORITIZE

 U.S. government, cease war with Cuba and normalize relations.
 U.S. government, normalize all relations with the Peoples Republic of China.
 U.S., the Group of 8 countries and their various U.S.-dominated international apparatuses, cancel all third world and apartheid debt without conditions.
 U.S. corporations, cease exploitation of indigenous peoples and destruction of their lands, for example, Occidental Petroleum Corporation cease attacks on the rights of the U'wa people. U.S. government, end all economic and military assistance to other countries for suppression of indigenous peoples, such as the massive U.S. intervention to aid the Mexican government in attacks on the peoples of Chiapas.
II. U.S. Responsibility for National Oppression within the United States/Racism
What can the organized Left and the social movements demand of the institutions of U.S. imperialism to counter national oppression and racism within the United States?

CURRENT CONDITIONS

Within the U.S., we analyze the principal contradiction to be between the ruling class of US imperialism and its policies and apparatuses, on the one hand, and the exploited and oppressed multinational working class and oppressed nationality movements on the other. The Strategy Centers unity, built through practice, resides in our focus on the particular nature of imperialism that places the oppression of nations, both external and internal to U.S. borders, at the center of our understanding of class, race, and gender. We characterize the U.S. as a settler state built upon the basest violence against indigenous and African peoples. We live with the inheritance of genocide, theft of lands, enslavement of African Americans and corporate profits from speculation in slave trade as a foundation to the U.S. economy. There is no wonder that the widening divide of classes in the United States locates people of color in the lowest strata. Many of the most egregious class issues are specifically directed against the working class of color, with negative impacts on white workers as well, and against women of color, with negative impacts on all women as well. Thus, we believe that the class question in the United States is defined by the subjugation of nations.

Liberals often quote, correctly, that the U.S. is one of the few "advanced" industrial nations that still has the death penalty. But that hides the fact that the U.S. is the most racist advanced capitalist country with the largest minority populations of blacks, Latinos, and Asian/Pacific Islanders. The massive explosion in public executions is part of the counterrevolution against the vistories of the anti-racist New Left in the United States--at one time many states and the Supreme Court had temporarily revoked the death penalty. Of course there are also white people murdered by the state, but the driving force behind the frenzy is power of consent to the U.S. history of genocide that takes the form of hatred of black people and all people of color by the white majority.

The U.S. operates its criminal justice system as the primary method of state repression of people of color, particularly the repression of any who refuse to consent to the U.S. system of super-exploitation. The U.S. ranks the highest among countries in percentage of its population in prison; however, every effort to overturn mass convictions on the grounds that blacks and Latinos are so overwhelmingly overrepresented in the prisons has been rejected by the courts. Yet, resistance continues on a daily basis in communities across the country. We believe that challenges to this racist and genocidal criminal justice system are fundamental to any strategy.

DILEMMAS

Progressive people are not unified around a shared understanding of the interrelationship between class exploitation and the oppression of nations internal to the United States. This divide is surely the greatest obstacle to the advancement of struggles of resistance in the United States. Many progressives believe that the principal contradiction is simplebetween the working class and capitalism. They believe that the sharp focus of antiracism divides the working class, and, conversely, that campaigns for affirmative action on the grounds of race lead to charges of reverse discrimination which they believe has helped consolidate the white electorate to vote to eliminate any such policies. Also, there are many revolutionary nationalists who are so righteously furious with the longstanding chauvinism of the U.S. Left that they reject working with white progressives or even in multiracial campaigns with other people of other oppressed races and nationalities. We believe that any potential left unity will be achieved by sharing the understanding that racial discrimination is rooted in the oppression of nations which is fundamental to the strength of the U.S. economy. Thus, we focus on demands like redress and reparations; which teach the impossibility of reverse national oppression and challenge U.S. hegemony at its core.

Another dilemma we face is that demands on the bourgeois state to intervene against corporations and other sectors of the state involve tactical alliances with sectors of the same capitalist state we want to challenge, e.g. asking federal courts to uphold the Civil Rights Act to restrain and compel the MTA, asking the MTA board to curtail rail contractors, asking the AQMD to regulate the MTA and diesel bus industry. This produces tremendous confusion; on the one hand its easy to fall into the ideology that the state will rescue us or truth will win; on the other hand, it is easy to think that opposition to state repression means that we cant fight to advance democratic rights or make demands that expand the social welfare state without succumbing to capitalist domination. At the Strategy Center, we spend a great deal of time experimenting so as to avoid both of these dead-ended positions. This involves a complex dialectic of confrontation and compromise, winning immediate reforms while developing new structures of resistance from which to carry out greater levels of demand on the system.

STRATEGIC DEMANDS AROUND WHICH THE STRATEGY CENTERS PROGRAM GROUP IS UNIFIED

We call upon the U.S. government to reveal and repeal all policies that structurally reinforce national oppression and racism. We call upon the U.S. government to recognize the right of self-determination for all nations of indigenous peoples, for African-Americans enslaved in the United States, and for the Chicanos of the southwest whose land was stolen by the U.S., and take responsibility for redress and reparations in a wide variety of forms of the most structural affirmative action. We call upon the U.S. government to establish full and effective equality for all oppressed nationality peoples inside the United States.

FOCAL CAMPAIGNS

 U.S. government, open the borders, and abolish the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
 U.S. government, act to free political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal.
 U.S. federal and state governments, free the U.S. Two Million--immediately release from prison all indigenous, African American and Latino colonial subjects and fund community controlled education, detoxification and job placement programs.
 U.S. governmental bodies, recognize specifically the sovereignty and control of all lands claimed by the nations of indigenous peoples.
III. U.S. Responsibility for the Subjugation of Women around the globe and in the U.S.
What can the organized Left and the social movements demand of the institutions of U.S. imperialism to counter the subjugation of women?

CURRENT CONDITIONS

The exploitation and abuse of women across the globe is escalating. We recognize imperialist patriarchy as a foundation for extraction of surplus value and understand violence against women as fundamental to colonial conquest and super-exploitation achieved through low-paid and unpaid labor. Gender structures the international economy and all political and social institutions. Male supremacy, men's groups organizing to protect their dominance, and individual male brutality seem to be on the rise; and the international abuse of child labor and of sex workers is widespread.

But there is little organized working class and people of color feminism or women's liberation movement trying to integrate the struggle of women with the national liberation and international class struggle.

At the same time, women everywhere are resisting, and the movements of women in the third world are leading a movement to place demands on the U.S. military, in particular, and on international bodies such as the United Nations to stop the mass murder of women and children and to establish global standards for womens rights. There is tremendous motion, yet the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1979 is still not ratified by the United States. Around the world and right in their own home, U.S. corporations, the U.S. military, and all U.S. institutions of governance insist upon the structural subjugation of women, in fact, play a leading role in violating presumed inalienable rights. This condition pervades every area of our political work; every campaign is a campaign for the liberation of women and needs to be understood in those terms.

DILEMMAS

There seems to be a need for state intervention against male brutality; spousal and womens and child abuse are rampant. On the other hand, 2 million black and Latino men are in prisons, and there is no way, in the present period, to stop the racialization of enforcement and sentencing. We have learned that the call for a peoples enforcement to circumvent the police is historically impossible. We want to acknowledge misogynythe hatred of women--yet craft demands that dont support the criminal justice system or U.S. intervention in third world countries. Our focus then is on U.S. governmental compliance with all standards of equality for women and children and on U.S. government funding of all resources needed to aid women in the present and to make remedies and reparations for past acts.

Another big dilemma is that being female is not necessarily unifying to women of different nationalities, races and classes; in fact, often these differences are not only disunifying but antagonistic. The white and middle class Western women's movement is on the defensive, benefiting from but often rejecting feminism and focusing more often on its difference from the working class women of color they rely on to replace them in the home in order to achieve their own gains. At the same time, superexploited and oppressed women of color the world over experience class, nationality, race, gender as one human being; they must not be made to choose identity, and because they are often, in fact, faced with that choice, they rarely ally with the Western movement for womens equality; rather, they have given birth to many campaigns of women organized to resist U.S. imperialism that make the struggle for womens liberation as part of a national liberation strategy. In this context, we choose to look to the organized third world womens movements for our strategic focus.

STRATEGIC DEMANDS AROUND WHICH THE STRATEGY CENTERS PROGRAM GROUP IS UNIFIED

We call upon the U.S. government and all U.S. corporations to take action to advance economic, cultural, and political independence for women. We call upon the U.S. government to act affirmatively against all forms of msyogyny, discrimination, subjugation, brutality, and male supremacy against women.

FOCAL CAMPAIGNS WE PRIORITIZE

 U.S. government and U.S. corporations, reverse all policies that foster, explicitly and tacitly, the super-exploitation of women, trafficking in women, particularly at U.S. military bases, and acts of hatred and violence against women.
 U.S. government, ratify the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and fulfill the commitments of the Beijing World Conference on Womens Rights; act now to enforce its provisions.
 Reinstate AFDCU.S. government, guarantee jobs or income, free childcare, transportation and health care.
 All U.S. governmental institutions and U.S. corporations, act now to ensure the right of women to control their own bodies. Guarantee free and accessible abortions and free birth control in the United States. End all practices of population control and social control that result in forced surgical and chemical sterilization, dumping of dangerous birth control methods into third world countries, genocide of future generations of oppressed peoples.
IV. U.S. Responsibility for Degradation of the Environment and Destruction of Public Health
What can the organized Left and the social movements demand of the institutions of U.S. imperialism to counter degradation of the environment and destruction of the human species?

CURRENT CONDITIONS

Earth Day 1970 took place during the "two decades of the sixties" while the civil rights, black liberation, and anti-Vietnam war movements were at their height. It proposed a radical environmentalism that was in some ways part of the New Left, and had a strong anti-war, anti-nuclear component. Over the years, it was supplanted by an environmental establishment--Sierra Club, NRDC--that pushed for tepid, but still significant limitations on corporate behavior. Barry Commoner, in the late 1980s, wrote a stinging condemnation of the environmental establishment, arguing that the core of environmental policy had to be the banning of all polluting chemicals, "regulation" would not work. He also observed that the most radical movement to control production would be necessary--calling for a red/green alliance.

During the early 1990s, an environmental justice movement developed to accelerate the militancy of the movement, focusing on air toxics and public health. But despite Gore's "Earth in the Balance" rhetoric before the election, he and Clinton have focused on the expansion of stock market wealth, not at all the regulation of corporate behavior let alone radical state incursions into corporate industrial and chemical processes. Environmental science has been defeated by corporate science, and both the environmental movement and the environmental justice movement have lost momentum, power, and public support--as even communities of color and "labor" have been seduced and threatened with the mantra of "jobs."

Yet around the world and within the United States, the ecological crisis continues to expand; the globe is warming, the food is contaminated, the air is lethal, and people who feel most acutely the impacts of this crisis continue to make demands.

DILEMMAS

The united front between the liberals and the Left on the environment begins with an agreement that profit-driven corporate behavior must be regulated by the capitalist state in order to prevent catastrophic and irrevocable ecological damage. The problem, however, is that since the capitalist class controls both political parties and society at large, it has moved, after initial setbacks, to have political control--through appointments, funds, restrictive legislation--of the regulatory agencies and the legislatures. Thus, after decades of opposing environmental regulation. Transnational giants have shifted tactics, now they work to pass reactionary environmental legislation and regulations that have such weak standards that they can now be in compliance with the very reactionary laws and standards they pass. For example, the Strategy Center worked to pass a strong air toxics law, Rule 1401, at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, demanding a 1 part per million cancer standard, which would have required companies to radically change their industrial processes and phase out many carcinogenic chemicals. In response, the polluters took over the AQMD board and passed an air toxics standard that was twice as carcinogenic than their existing, unregulated level of emissions. Most companies can now boast they are in compliance with federal EPA standards as the Clinton/Gore administration has done virtually nothing to raise standards and in many cases has granted additional delays and exemptions to even the existing weak ones. Thus, the first dilemma is using the state to try to set standards is the risk that companies will be legally in compliance and use that against the environmental movement.

A second dilemma is posed by the demand to ban the export of toxics to the Third World. There have been instances, such as the banning of DDT in the U.S., when the manufacturers did not destroy their supplies but instead sold them to Third World nations. We have assumed this took the form of straightforward imperialist coercion. But in practice, Third World nations, trying to compete with the advanced capitalist nations in a global context, utilize discarded toxic chemicals voluntarily because they are so much cheaper and create a competitive advantage in an extremely unfair world market. The need for international standards to ban toxic chemicals, and to prohibit the export of chemicals banned in the U.S., is sometimes in contradiction to the right of self-determination for Third World nations.

A third dilemma is that if individual nations try to have higher environmental standards than the U.S., under the growing "fair trade" movement they are liable to retaliation for undermining free competition--as the U.S. has retaliated against France for its efforts to ban U.S. hormone injected beef.

STRATEGIC DEMANDS AROUND WHICH THE STRATEGY CENTERS PROGRAM GROUP IS UNIFIED

We call on the U.S. government and U.S. transnational corporations to ban known carcinogens, toxic chemicals, and smog producing pollutants from manufacture, thereby using government regulation to force a public health and environmental revolution in industrial products and processes. We call on the U.S. government to stop and prohibit the export of banned chemicals and to provide reparations for its environmental and public health imperialism in communities of color in the U.S. and in the Third World.

FOCAL CAMPAIGNS WE PRIORITIZE

 U.S. government, implement a zero tolerance for carcinogens policy, prohibiting the manufacture, use, and distribution of a specific list of known carcinogenic and toxic chemicals by U.S. corporations and the Pentagon. U.S. government, mandate a clean fuel policy, reflected in radical fuel economy measures, the phasing out of fossil fuels for autos, and the required use of natural gas, hydrogen fuel cells and electric vehicles, beginning with all government agencies and companies receiving government contracts.
 U.S. government, combat environmental racism by prioritizing the removal of all toxic chemicals and the radical reduction in industrial and auto emissions from Latino and black communities throughout the U.S. U.S. remove all toxic chemicals from Native American lands and communities in the U.S., and provide billions for reparations and the creation of economically viable sustainable production under the self-determination of residents.
 U.S. government, establish a global superfund to clean up toxic chemicals previously exported and dumped in Third World nations and to provide massive programs of treatment of environmental diseases. U.S. stop debt for nature swaps that violate sovereignty of dependent nations.
 U.S. government, make environmental racism and degradation by U.S. corporations a criminal offense; impose severe civil and criminal penalties on corporate executives who violate environmental laws. Pass laws making it criminal to violate the civil rights of communities of color by destroying public health; make it criminal to dump known toxic chemicals, to subject workers to environmental toxins, and to violate the environmental rights of indigenous peoples.
V. U.S. Attack on Social Welfare Within the United States
What can the organized Left and the social movements demand of the institutions of U.S. imperialism to counter the attacks on social welfare?

CURRENT CONDITIONS

The war on poverty is over, and the war on the poor is in full swing--initiated by Reagan but surprisingly, accelerated by Clinton/Gore. There is a widening divide between rich and poor, and now, a growing backlash in the electoral arena that is, of course, racially coded. The social safety net has been torn to shreds and being homeless is now declared a crime.

A new conservative force in U.S. politics, besides the white racist majority, is an especially voracious middle class (unfortunately including significant sectors of the black and Latino and Asian middle class as well) that now sides with the wealthy on all questions, and through stock market wealth, looks for legislation by which to get even wealthier--e.g. tax breaks, school vouchers, end of inheritance tax. They are completely tied to the superprofits of U.S. imperialist domination of the globe.

After brief gains in which income gaps between the black and Latino working class and the white majority were partially closed during the 1960s and early 1970s, there continues to be a growing disproportionate representation of oppressed nationalities in the lower strata of working class, combined with the dismantling of the New Deal and Great Society safety net programs--shut down with an vengeance with explicit ideological attacks on women and people of colorwelfare queens, culture of dependency, political correctness. The right and center-right are leading an ideological counterattack on prior liberal arguments that society has some responsibility for racism and poverty--as black leaders now talk about the poor taking responsibility for their poverty and white liberals, confronted with the facts that there are an overwhelmingly disproportionate number of people of color in jail, give their consent to the imperialist ideological construct that this proves the existence of a disproportionate tendency towards criminal and violent anti-social activity among people of color.

DILEMMAS

The demeaning and debilitating impacts of the discourse about the so-called culture of poverty and the permanent underclass manipulates partial truths. We are painfully aware that depending on welfare and hustling in the illegal job market is depressing. No one debates that despondency and despair is widespread; the growth of children-bearing-children and black-on-black crime will eat away at the self-esteem of any community. But once upon a time, Franz Fanon and other revolutionary anti-imperialists explained this despair as one of the brutal impacts of colonization and racism, and called for a militant, revolutionary counterattack on colonialism in order to raise the mental health and collective consciousness of the oppressed.

Now, simple demands for welfare are used to stigmatize black and Latina women and children, and many white people, as well as many black and Latino males, consent to this demonizing and degrading ideology. The reconstruction of an ideological defense of guaranteed incomes, and social welfare programs requires hard thinking, creative demand development and an innovative ideological counterattack by the antiracist, anti-imperialist Left.

STRATEGIC DEMANDS AROUND WHICH THE STRATEGY CENTERS PROGRAM GROUP IS UNIFIED

We call upon the U.S. government to commit to its responsibility to ensure public funding of all fundamental human needs. We call on the U.S. government to acknowledge its role of compensating for the cruel and inhumane effects of market forces; acknowledge the systematic institutionalization of racism in social welfare policy and, therefore, prioritize social welfare programs that focus on the low-wage and unemployed working class in which oppressed nationality peoples, and specifically women, are concentrated. We call upon all components of government to stop corporate welfare and privatization of public servicesend public subsidy for private speculation as well as outsourcing of jobs previously performed by the public sector. We call on all sectors of government to establish themselves as high wage employers and to require high-wage policies of all businesses receiving government contracts and all corporations operating internationally under the banner of U.S. investment.

FOCAL CAMPAIGNS WE PRIORITIZE

 Jobs or Income Now. U.S. federal government, end poverty and homelessness. Fund a massive program of free public education, head start programs, health clinics, job training, job placement, subsidized housing and guaranteed family and individual basic income level.
 U.S. federal government, enforce the Bus Riders Union civil rights Consent Decree with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which remedies past discrimination and ensures equality in access to public transportation consistent with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by prioritizing funds for the bus system. Enact an immediate moratorium on all rail construction in Los Angeles until the bus priority is implemented.
 U.S. Congress, increase and expand, rather than reduce or eliminate, gift and inheritance tax, earmarked to fund social welfare programs.
 U.S. government, nationalize and fund all medical care. Establish a public health plan in which doctors and hospitals are administered by the government and all residents in the U.S., regardless of income or immigration status, receive equal and free medical care, including all medications.
VI. U.S. Responsibility for Denial of Rights Internationally and Domestically
What can the organized Left and the social movements demand of the institutions of U.S. imperialism to counter the U.S. governments denial of fundamental rights?

CURRENT CONDITIONS

Governments in the New World Order are committing massive violations of fundamental rights, and the United States is the greatest perpetrator. In the West a white racist majority is so xenophobic and voraciously materialistic that it welcomes the police state and gives consent to the ideology that fascism is in its interests. Thus, it supports all repressive measures against people of color and against the Left; it does not believe in civil rights or civil liberties; it does not believe that it is in any danger from unchecked police and military force. It focuses on one international issue, human rights, for which it seeks U.S. intervention. It has focused on only one domestic "liberty" issue, the right for unlimited gun control as racially coded "right" but it would not oppose blacks and Latinos being busted on gun charges. Wars on drugs, wars on crime--from South Central and Columbia, there is no mass support for rights. The right to demonstrate and the right to protection from police brutality, are being denied as a matter of U.S. government policy.

Meanwhile, the discourse surrounding universal rights has become a key component of U.S. imperialism and cultural colonialism, building consent for U.S. hegemony. The United States remains one of the worst and most consistent violators of basic human rights and it demands exemption from international human rights agreements. For example, the United States has not signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, drafted in 1998--with already 98 signatories and 14 ratifications--to establish a permanent court for trying individuals accused of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The United States wants to institutionalize the court but it claims the right to complete exemption from the courts jurisdiction.

Our basic approach remains; we oppose U.S. domination, any notion of exception for the United States, and all forms of ideological hegemony. We support the struggle for inalienable human rights throughout the world, and we insist that the United States be held accountable for all its human rights violations.

DILEMMAS

We want to stop all U.S. human rights violations at home and abroad, all U.S. aggression, intervention, overt and covert strategies of hegemony, yet we are gravely concerned about atrocious violations of international human rights conventions by other nations as well and naturally seek approaches to action to stop them. The growing atrocities in the world--saturation bombing of civilian populations, torture, land mines, wholesale massacres of ethnic populations--present a strategic dilemma. The U.S., as the only military power that can impose its will on other nations, uses human rights violations--real and imagined--of third world and other nations as pretenses for U.S. intervention. The U.S. simultaneously has refused to sign international accords that prohibit land mines, torture, any form of war crimes, because it fears that any form of third world or future socialist bloc would be able to hold the U.S. to the standards it tries to impose on others. Many crimes in the Third World are instigated by U.S. foreign policy and at least are partially caused or exacerbated by U.S. presence. (Jimmy Carter was the only U.S. president who tried to eliminate torture in Latin America by U.S. advisors and client states). Thus, any time a movement for human rights turns to the U.S. world police force, it must accept that the arbiter of human rights is the greatest force of world domination. We do, however, place demands upon the U.S. government to outlaw the human rights violations of U.S. corporations.

The dilemma with regard to the U.S. nation state is different internal to the U.S. where we do demand of the very government that has built the state by means of genocide, enslavement, and the subjugation of internal nations that it enact restrictive laws to curtail national oppression, white supremacy, and racism. In this context, we want to demand the defense and expansion of rights under capitalist democracy.

Since civil rights as well as the right to militant protest are essential to the movements of oppressed nationalities against growing racism and xenophobia, the struggle to defend and expand democratic rights remains critical. Yet the struggle for democratic rights is framed by the particular history of the United States. The U.S. constitution evolved certain theories of inalienable rights and a bill of rights to protect members of society from the invasive use of police and military force--initially in revolutionary war against the British monarchy. One particular contribution of the bill of rights was to theorize the protection of political or philosophical minority voices against the tyranny of the majority. These lofty and in fact progressive theories of protecting the individual and groups from state repression--freedom of speech and assembly in particular--were from the outset based on the rights of a white, male, landowning bourgeois class that was in antagonism to the crown--thus the term bourgeois democracy means the rights of the capitalists against the king, not working class democracy for all.

The dilemma historically turns on the theory of bourgeois or capitalist democracy. Capitalist democracy requires those with rights to decide if those without rights can have rights. Thus, white suffrage was needed to decide if the slaves could be freed let alone vote, since they were in bondage and not protected from the tyranny of the majority. The suffragette movement demanding the right of women to vote could not pass until the 1920s, 150 years after the passage of the declaration of independence because under bourgeois democracy only men could vote as to whether women could vote. And the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) remains unratified.

U.S. capitalist democracy institutionalizes the frenzied racism and xenophobia of the white majority which never believed in minority protected rights for indigenous peoples, blacks, Latinos, Asians, or women and still doesnt. Even when blacks were given the right to vote, brute force has been used to deny them effective franchise; and even after greater formal voting "rights," white majorities simply outvoted any efforts to institutionalize black and Latino rights. The concept of minority rights must be refocused to talk about inalienable rights of oppressed nationalities and ethnic and racial minorities--in particular the rights of black, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander and indigenous peoples.

STRATEGIC DEMAND AROUND WHICH THE STRATEGY CENTERS PROGRAM GROUP IS UNIFIED

We call on the U.S. government to uphold the terms of international treaties protecting the rights of all peoples during war and peace. We call upon the U.S. government to enforce the terms of these treaties in relation to all U.S. corporations. We call upon the U.S. government to uphold the inalienable rights of indigenous peoples, oppressed minority ethnic and racial groups, and women.


FOCAL CAMPAIGNS

 U.S. government, and all government and corporate entities, uphold the inalienable cultural and language rights of ethnic minorities. U.S. Congress legislate protection of language rights. California State Legislature, repeal Proposition 227, which outlaws bilingual education in California.
 All U.S. governmental bodies and U.S. corporations, reverse and repeal any racially coded propositions or policies that lead to a denial of equal rights or to a disproportionately discriminatory impact on oppressed nationalities, racial, ethnic, or gender groups (such as California propositions 187, 209, 227, 21, etc.). Specific attention must be given to ensure equal rights without regard to sexual orientationthat is, full protection of all rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered peoples, including the right to legal marriage.
 U.S. government, support and facilitate the basic rights of self-determination for Black, Latino, and Asian populations, and indigenous peoples, specifically the right to devise electoral proposals for political representation.
 U.S. government, in keeping with international conventions on human rights, abolish the death penalty!
AhoraNow
A bilingual political periodical of the Labor/Community Strategy Center

At a time when Right-wing ideology claims dominion, AhoraNow advances Left theory and practice. This publication gives primacy to voices from the front lines, to strategy and tactics. Are you interested in who is actually doing something and what their analysis is?

AhoraNow is born out of a multiracial Left culture that asserts a consistent and explicit anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism, promotes internationalism, and engages bilingualism as a politics of language. AhoraNow is a product of oppositional culture, an ongoing experiment in editorial design.

Think there's life far to the Left of the anemic debate in most progressive publications? Tired of 25 years of defensive liberalism? Sick of unapologetic and effective Right-wing organizing? Read AhoraNow.

AhoraNow is brought to you by an unapologetic and effective center for Left public education and grassroots organizing, the Labor/Community Strategy Center.


El Centro de Estrategia est comprometido a la organizacin multilinge, incluyendo el desarrollo de publicaciones, producciones, y artes visuales multilinges. Este artculo va a aparecer en espaol muy pronto.

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On the occasion of the Democratic National Convention 2000 in Los Angeles
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