Pro-War Diane Feinstein, What Are The Alternatives?
By Steven Argue
In California pro-war incumbent Democrat Diane Feinstein has a lead of around 20% over Republican challenger Richard Mountjoy. There are also three socialist candidates running in California for the Senatorial seat now held by Feinstein. Of these, the two that Liberation News is giving critical support are Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action and Marsha Feinland of the Peace and Freedom Party. In addition International Socialist Organization (ISO) member, Todd Chretien, is running as a Green Party candidate.
Feinstein has voted for every war the United States has carried out since she came into office in 1992. Diane Feinstein also voted to take away our civil liberties by supporting the “Patriot Act” and its renewal. She voted for the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act speeding up the government’s ability to carry out the racist death penalty and ignore evidence of innocence. And she has supported expanded wire tapping as well as a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.
Feinstein is a capitalist politician, representing a capitalist party. She also has a personal net worth of 50 million dollars, so she benefited directly when she voted to eliminate the estate tax. Ironically Feinstein has also stated, “Food stamps for the poor are cut ... so that millionaires can have a tax cut.'' Indeed, while this statement was directed at the Republicans, it also applies to her. (Feinstein Urges Regime Change, San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2006)
Diane Feinstein, like many Democrats, has pounded the war drum of the racist Zionist state of Israel even louder than the Republicans.
And just as she is no defender of human rights in the United States she has voted for continued military support to the right wing death squad government of Colombia.
Diane Feinstein: Supporter of Imperialist War
In a press conference on August 21, 2006 George Bush Jr. finally admitted what Liberation News has been pointing out since before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That Iraq had nothing to do with September 11th. Yet Bush had used a supposed connection as a pretext for the U.S.’s unprovoked aggression against Iraq. In addition, Bush Jr. also admitted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.
All of the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, Diane Feinstein included, supported going to war with Iraq. As anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan has pointed out, “She voted for the war. She continues to vote for the funding. She won't call for an immediate withdrawal of the troops." (Cindy Sheehan May Challenge California Senator AP, Jan. 26, 2006) Cindy Sheehan’s son was a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.
In trying to let herself of the hook Diane Feinstein claims that Bush “did not fairly represent intelligence”. Feeble cries by these politicians today that their votes for war weren’t their fault because they were lied to by Bush not only make Feinstein look stupid, they are an insult to the intelligence of the American people.
While the Democrats helped promote the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq had no right to defend itself, Liberation News pointed out that it is the United States that has the weapons of mass destruction. Instead we supported the right of Iraq to acquire the weapons necessary to defend themselves from U.S. aggression. There can be little doubt that if Iraq had acquired those weapons they may not be in the mess they are now.
Yet for Bush and Feinstein Iraqi weapons were never the real motive for mass murder in Iraq. The capitalist ruling class, and their Democrat and Republican representatives, thought that they could use their superior military power to quickly move into Iraq and establish by force a stable neo-colonial puppet regime, and then make massive profits from the privatization of the Iraqi economy, especially oil. It is the failures of this imperialist plan, in the face of Iraqi resistance and growing unpopularity at home, that has forced some Democrats and Republicans to try to rethink, or at least distance themselves from, the Bush policies they have supported.
Feinstein herself has directly profiteered from the U.S. imposed misery in Iraq. Her husband, Richard Blum, is a billionaire investor that together with CEO Ronald Tutor own investment companies that hold 75% of the voting stock in a company called Perini. On March 12, 2004 Perini was awarded a $500,000,000 contract for rebuilding the electrical infrastructure of southern Iraq. So Feinstein is profiting from the U.S. bombing of the Iraqi infrastructure as well as its inefficient rebuilding by private U.S. contractors. Perini also received the contract for the construction of facilities to support the First Brigade of the Afghan National Army. These include barracks, dining facilities, a power plant, a water treatment facility and a wastewater treatment plant. Diane Feinstein not only voted for the wars and occupations that made these contracts possible, she also sits on the Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence. (Perini Corporation, The Center For Public Integrity)
Just as Liberation News opposes the U.S. occupation and corporate looting of Iraq, we also denounced the starvation blockade that was carried out through the UN by the Clinton administration. That blockade, due to the capitalist nature of the Iraqi economy under Saddam Hussein, cost the lives of about a million people, many of them children. While a socialist economy like that of Cuba could have made sure that everyone in Iraq had food, blame for this mass murder should also be put on the Clinton administration. Likewise, it was this Clinton starvation blockade that also weakened Iraq for the Bush invasion.
Today, while the U.S. occupation of Iraq has murdered over 100,000 people and the U.S. starvation blockade of Iraq murdered a million or more, the U.S. government and its puppets in Iraq have the nerve to put Saddam Hussein on trial for propaganda purposes. Yet the worst crimes of the Saddam Hussein regime were also carried out when he was directly backed by the United States. In the 1980’s the U.S. was giving massive military assistance to Iraq to help Saddam Hussein commit genocide against Kurds and carry out a bloody war with Iran at a time when Saddam Hussein was used as an ally of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. Likewise the CIA helped Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party come to power supplying them with the names of 5,000 socialists and labor leaders that the Ba’athists subsequently rounded up and executed.
Yet to those who claimed that an invasion of Iraq would be a chance for the U.S. to finally set things straight and set up a democracy in Iraq, Liberation News responded before the U.S. invasion saying:
“In the 1970s Iraq nationalized its oil fields. This helped the Iraqi people by taking a chunk of the profits made off of oil out of the hands of the international oil monopolies and instead keeping them in Iraq. This money helped pay for free healthcare and education. As such this was a socialist measure carried out by Saddam Hussein’s capitalist government. It was also a measure that stood up to the interests of the rich and powerful nations. For both reasons socialists supported the nationalization of Iraqi oil while those measures infuriated the imperialists...
“While defending Iraq against imperialist attack and supporting their right to defend themselves socialists also recognize that Saddam Hussein is a capitalist leader and that the Iraqi people have their own scores to settle with him. Yet any government set up by a US occupation army will not be democratic and will only lead to the privatization of the resources that American oil monopolies intend to steal...”
“U.S. imperialism will never solve the question of women’s liberation in the Middle East. Unlike all of the US supported governments and forces in the Arab World, Iraqi women have many rights found nowhere else in the Arab World except in the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. Over 50% of Iraqi doctors are women. Iraqi women are allowed to walk unescorted in the streets. They are allowed to drive. Iraqi women can even freely criticize men. In addition Iraqi women have the right to work and control their own funds. This is in stark contrast to the treatment of women under the repressive U.S. backed governments of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia where women have no rights what-so-ever.
“The U.S. ruling class hates governments like Iraq, Libya, and Venezuela who use the profits of their oil resources partly to benefit the people with social programs. Likewise they love governments like that of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait that strip the people of all their rights and keep the oil profits in the hands of the international oil monopolies and their corrupt local servants. Today in the United States we face unemployment, homelessness, and a lack of health care. The billions of dollars the U.S. will squander on killing Iraqis to steal their resources should be spent to benefit the working class and poor of the United States instead.” -From Liberation News: What Is Socialism, and Why We Oppose The Invasion of Iraq
What was predicted is reality. Those predictions were accurate because they were based on the past behavior of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. has set up a puppet Islamic government with functioning death squads and torture chambers. Socialists have been excluded from participating in elections and unarmed demonstrators have been shot down and murdered in the streets by U.S. troops. The puppet Islamic government also opposes women’s rights and women’s rights have deteriorated dramatically since the U.S. invasion. The rebuilding of basic infrastructure, such as electricity, has lagged way behind what was rebuilt by Saddam Hussein after the massive U.S. bombardment of Iraq in 1992.
With the exception of the privatization of Iraqi oil, all of the predictions have shown themselves to be true and the only reason that Iraqi oil isn’t completely under the direct control of U.S. oil monopolies now is because of the union resistance of 23,000 organized oil workers as well as the general resistance by the Iraqi people to the idea of Iraq’s resources being looted by U.S. corporations.
For the working class in the United States there is ever growing frustration with a war that is costing many lives and billions in dollars while needed programs for healthcare, jobs, the environment, and disaster relief do not get the funding they need.
Yet for the ruling class their failure in Iraq is not in the undemocratic and anti-woman nature of the puppet regime they have set up and the money that has been squandered in doing it, but in the failure of that regime to deliver the stability needed to acquire the oil loot. They complain that oil production in Iraq is below prewar levels and the occupation by U.S. and British troops serve as targets for the insurgency.
As a result some Democrats that voted for the war like John Kerry and Russ Feingold have called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of this year. Yet Kerry’s plan actually calls for keeping troops in Iraq that are "critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces." Kerry’s plan also calls for "an over-the-horizon" troop presence in the region that could come to the aid of a failing puppet government in Iraq as well as intervene elsewhere in the so-called war on terror. (Lawmakers begin Bitter Debate on U.S. Troop Withdrawal Plan for Iraq, FOXNews, online report, June 2, 2006)
Senators Harry Reid and Carl Levin have put forward a similar proposal, rendered meaningless with similar loopholes to Kerry-Feingold’s, but their proposal calls for the [partial] withdrawal of troops by the end of 1997.
Diane Feinstein supported the Levin-Reid proposal. Defending the proposal Feinstein said, “Our amendment is not about cutting and running. Rather, our amendment acknowledges that staying the course is a strategy that shows no promise of success, and it is time to change that strategy.” (Video clip shown on CNN’s O’brien Show, online transcript, June 23, 2006)
Unlike Feinstein, Liberation News sees nothing good that can come from the Levin-Reid proposal of staying at full war with the Iraqi people for another year and then carrying out a possible partial Iraqification of the war the year after. We disagree with Feinstein when she says, "We all know we can't cut and run, what I'm talking about is changing the nature of this mission. We have to say to Iraq that it's time for your soldiers and police forces to take over.'' (Feinstein Urges Regime Change, San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2006)
The U.S. occupation of Iraq is doing nothing for anybody except the capitalists that are profiting from the war and the tax dollars of the American people. We demand: Iraq to the Iraqis! U.S. Out Now! On this issue we agree with the campaigns of Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action, Marsha Feinland of the Peace and Freedom Party, and Todd Chretien of the Green Party that are all calling for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq:
“More than 2,250 young American troops and over 100,000 Iraqis have died with no end in sight. If we want to stop the dying and respect the Iraqi people's right to run their own country, then we must immediately withdraw all American military forces from Iraq and the surrounding countries.” -Todd Chretien, California Senate candidate of the Green Party
“Immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the Middle East!”
Marsha Feinland, California Senate candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party
"Immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq! War is an inherent part of capitalism and the ultimate solution to the internal contradictions of the profit-driven and competition-driven system. The U.S. military-industrial complex is organized and designed to maximize profit rates for the corporate few and to serve the imperial economic and political interests of the war-making class—regardless of the capitalist party in power. Socialists acknowledge our fundamental obligation to challenge the U.S. war-makers and their twin parties and to defend the rights and struggles of all those who resist imperialist domination and oppression.” -Jeff Mackler, California Senate candidate of Socialist Action
Liberation news agrees with these calls for U.S. troops out now. In addition we call for the labor movement to break from the Democrat Party of war and exploitation and to end the war through building the mass movement in the streets; striking against arms producers; hot cargoing war materials on the docks, trains, and trucks; and building towards a general strike against the war. Likewise we support the right of military personal to refuse orders and resist this war. We support students, such as those at UC Santa Cruz that have repeatedly driven military recruiters off campus. And we call for building the socialist movement to end imperialism through socialist revolution.
The Role of Peace Action (Formerly Sane / Freeze)
Diane Feinstein has never seen a pending imperialist war she didn’t like. In her entire time in office she has voted for them all. Likewise Feinstein voted for the “Missile Defense System” and other “defense” boondoggles meant to line the pockets of the military industrial capitalists. Yet the group “Peace Action” gives Feinstein the passing grade of voting for peace 89% of the time.
“Peace Action” is deceiving the anti-war vote. Why? Because Peace Action is a pillar of the status quo that sees no alternative to delivering votes to what they see as the “lesser evil” Democrat Party, even when the Democrats are equally pro-war. This strategy has made “Peace Action” an obstacle to peace and a pillar of the status quo.
Every few years the ruling class of the United States parades its selected representatives in front of the American people to give us the chance to vote for their so-called “lesser” and “greater evil” representatives in the Democrat and Republican Parties. The corporate media and liberal pro-war groups like “Peace Action” ignore the anti-war candidates and back pro-war Democrats by misrepresenting their records to the people.
Liberation News urges all of the super-exploited workers that go door to door raising money for the Peace Action bureaucracy to quit your meaningless jobs and look for better work while looking for ways to hook up with the real anti-war/anti-imperialist movement that is marching in the streets. Likewise we urge all of the liberal and leftist minded people that give money to Peace Action to stop doing so and instead participate in the mass anti-war movement in the streets with your bodies, minds, and your money if you can afford it.
In response to the reformist call of, "Anybody But Bush," Socialist Action candidate Jeff Mackler aptly replied, "No to the twin parties of war and oppression!" and "Yes to the independent organization and mobilization of working people!"
Feinstein, Supporter of Racist Israel
Diane Feinstein, like many Democrats, has pounded the war drum for the racist Zionist state of Israel even louder than the Republicans. The U.S. gives Israel billions of dollars in military aid every year and Senator Feinstein’s vote backs that money for death. Israel is a racist settler state established in 1949 that has denied the original inhabitants, the Palestinians, all basic rights. Besides denying Palestinians the same rights to travel, jobs, housing, and education as allowed Jews, the racist Zionist State has used massacres and other forms of terror, wars, and torture to drive out the original Palestinian inhabitants.
Likewise Israel is always at war with its Arab neighbors. Israel’s recent attack against Lebanon where their aerial bombardment of the civilian population murdered 1,150 people and destroyed vital infrastructure is only the latest such terrorism by Israel. Yet when Senator Bill Frist introduced a bill backing Israeli / U.S. aggression in Lebanon Diane Feinstein voted for it along with Senate Democrat colleagues John Kerry (Mass.), Barack Obama (Ill.), Harry Reid (Nevada), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), and Edward Kennedy (Mass.).
Claims of Israel being the victim, bombing and invading Lebanon on the pretext of two Israeli soldiers taken prisoner do not hold water in light of the fact that Israel is holding 2,000 Lebanese prisoners in their torture chamber dungeons from their previous invasion of Lebanon. In addition numerous reports say those two Israeli soldiers were captured in Lebanon, not in Israel. Those reports are from such sources as AP, Hindustan Times, and AFP.
In contrast to Diane Feinstein and her pro-war Democrat colleagues, here is what the candidates to the left of her have to say:
“Israel is a racist state. It has separate laws for Arabs and Jews. The leader of the South African trade union COSATU recently stated that he thinks that the Palestinians face worse conditions than Blacks faced during South African Apartheid. There will never be peace in the Middle East as long as the Zionist state is given a blank check from the United States to treat the Palestinian people as less than human. Israel is part of the American empire and is key to US plans for permanent domination of the Middle East. If we ever want to see our troops come home from Iraq, then the anti-war movement must fight to cut off all American aid to Israel.” -Todd Chretien, California Senate candidate of the Green Party
“As a Jewish American, I chose to run for U.S. Senate partly as an act of conscience in support of the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories. The wall which impedes people from conducting a normal life must come down. Israel should abandon the settlements and retreat to its pre-1967 borders. I do not condone any violence against civilians, and favor full rights for all people in any state…End U.S. aid to Israel until it withdraws to its 1967 borders.” -Marsha Feinland, California Senate candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party
“For a democratic and secular Palestine! End all U.S. aid to apartheid Israel! Stop the bombing of Lebanon and Gaza! For a united socialist federation of the Middle East! Socialists reject the legitimacy of the Zionist colonial settler state of Israel, just as we do all colonial settler states. We see no difference between the imperialist colonization of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East of yesteryear and today’s U.S.-backed Zionist conquest and occupation of Palestine. Israel today serves as the chief U.S. instrument for the imperialist domination and exploitation of the Middle East”. -Jeff Mackler, California Senate candidate of Socialist Action
All three candidates of the left take the correct and most important position of ending U.S. aid to Israel, but there are important differences in building an international movement.
While Todd Chretien holds a good position on Israel, the Israeli Green Party is a Zionist capitalist party that holds the position of deputy mayor of Tel Aviv. In a recent letter to the Green Party of the United States by Green Party chairman and deputy mayor, Pe’er Visner, the closest he got to recognizing any crimes by the Israeli government was saying, “We are “sorry” that the Israeli army prevents Palestinian suicide bombers from “expressing” their “human rights” to bomb themselves among Israeli citizens.” This racist response to the suffering of the Palestinian people should serve as a warning to Green Party members in the United States of what happens to parties that fail to put forward a revolutionary program for the overthrow of capitalism as well as fail to be a tribune for all of the most oppressed and exploited in society.
Unlike Marsha Feinland of the Peace and Freedom Party, Liberation News does not call for a withdrawal of Israel to its conquered borders of 1967. We instead call for pushing Israel back to its 1948 borders for a democratic, secular, and socialist Palestine within the 1948 borders with a separation of religion and state and equal rights for Palestinians and Jews including the Palestinian right to return, a society to be formed by the multi-ethnic working class through socialist revolution.
This is our context of demanding an end to U.S. military aid to racist Israel as well as to the repressive capitalist governments of Egypt and Jordan. Such a cut off is not intended to pressure Israel into a better two state “solution” as Marsha Feinland asks the U.S. government to do, but to allow the people of the Near East self-determination and revolution without the interference of billions of dollars in U.S. military aid to murderous regimes.
Jeff Mackler, in seeing Socialist Action as part of an international socialist movement with an international revolutionary program, has proposed a similar revolutionary program to that of Liberation News, but missing a key ingredient:
“Zionism is an ideology of racism and apartheid segregation. It is a deathtrap for the Jewish people, a central source of almost 60 years of war and oppression of the Palestinians. Socialist Action supports the creation of a democratic and secular Palestine, where Jews and Arabs can live together as equals in a new society, a society predicated on the immediate right of return of all dispossessed Palestinians. In this society, revolutionaries will fight for the construction of an egalitarian socialist state.” -Jeff Mackler, California Senate candidate of Socialist Action
Missing from this formula is the understanding that only socialist revolution, led by (a) secular multi-ethnic socialist party or parties will be capable of solving the national and democratic questions of Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. The capitalists and their parties, be they Kadima, Likud, Labour, Shas, Hamas, Fatah, or the Hashemite King Hussein of Jordan base their rule on capitalist exploitation and are incapable of providing any real solutions. Liberation News disagrees with the idea that democratic secular revolution should occur now and provide the basis for a later struggle for socialism, pointing out that this is the essence of Stalin’s Two-Stage Theory of Revolution when we instead hold high the banner of Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution.
It was this Stalinist Two-Stage Theory that provided the political basis for the Communist Party of South Africa putting all of their resources into building the African National Congress (ANC) as the democratic alternative to the racist apartheid government of South Africa. Yet by building a political party and movement that supported the continuation of the capitalist system they created a new capitalist party that now rules South Africa for the rich white capitalists at the continued expense of the super-exploited and poor black majority workers, minus overt racist laws. Strikes for healthcare and other workers’ demands have been broken by the ANC for the capitalists, HIV-AIDS goes untreated, and the massive mineral wealth of South Africa continues to go into the pockets of the capitalists instead of their potential of benefiting the workers, environment, and world revolution.
So when is the Communist Party of South Africa going to set about fighting for the next stage of the revolution? The answer is never. They are now part of the capitalist apparatus and part of the problem. It will take the other socialist parties of South Africa, the Trotskyist parties, to lead the socialist revolution.
While Stalinism has done much to stifle workers’ democracy in the deformed workers states under Stalinist control, it has also greatly sabotaged the world socialist revolution through Stalin’s Two-Stage Theory. Socialist Action is not a Stalinist organization, but they appear to have adopted part of their program.
So what would be Socialist Action’s ANC for Palestine? Fatah? They’ve already discredited themselves. They’ve sold the Palestinian people out with the Oslo Accords placing the Palestinian people on tiny Bantustan’s without a real basis for an economy. Would their ANC be Hamas? The imposition of Islamic law could hardly be considered a democratic secular revolution. Would they then suggest that Palestinian and Israeli socialists build a party with a purely democratic secular program, abandoning the socialist program as the Communist Party of South Africa did? Let’s drop the nonsense, build for the socialist revolution! For a democratic, secular, and socialist Palestine!
Liberation News rejects Stalin’s Two-Stage Theory of Revolution. We instead hold up the banner of Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution. It was through this theory that Trotsky explained that the democratic and the socialist revolutions are inseparably linked.
Yet the differences between Liberation News and Socialist Action as well as our differences with the Peace and Freedom Party on these questions do not prevent us from giving critical support to both in this election.
The Role of the Green Party
While Todd Cretien of the Green Party has good immediate positions on the war, Liberation News does not support Green Party candidates because the Green Party is a capitalist party. In Santa Cruz, where the Green Party has elected their party member Tim Fitzemaurice to office, Tim Fitzemaurice has backed the fears of local shop owners by voting for anti-homeless laws such as the law that makes it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night. While criminalizing those who cannot pay the high rent Fitzemaurice refuses to take a stand for rent control. Likewise Tim Fitzemaurice has refused to take any stand against police violence used against anti-war protesters in 1999 and other repressive measures against activists including my arrest and beating for distributing literature and the police murder of homeless activist John Dine. Recently Fitzemaurice did take a stand against police infiltration of the organizers of a Santa Cruz anti-war parade, but his stated reason for doing so was an attempt to maintain the credibility of the Santa Cruz police.
Tim Fitzemaurice is not a leader for change in Santa Cruz. He is instead a pillar of the status quo. This is the future of all political parties and politicians that do not have a clear program for the overthrow of the capitalist system.
The Green Party is clear in their program. They state that they are for a system of small capitalism. Yet the small capitalists commonly have a smaller profit margin and often exploit workers worse than the big capitalists. In opposition to such a vision of small and inefficient capitalist exploiters, Liberation News looks to labor struggle and the nationalization of industry under workers’ control as the way to fight and neutralize the corporate exploiters and bring justice for the working class.
On a national level the Green Party generally is not even seeking power, but pressure and reform of the Democrat Party. Yet the policy of many Greens in promoting votes for Democrats when the vote between the Democrat and Republican is close only promotes further illusions in the Democrats. Likewise promising votes to Democrats when it looks close does nothing to pressure the Democrats and their super rich backers to move to the left.
It was a massive and fighting labor movement led to large extent by socialists that forced the American ruling class and Franklin Delano Roosevelt to carry out the New Deal reforms in the 1930’s. This was out of fear of further unrest and potential revolution. It is the position of Liberation News that the most meaningful reforms do not come from reformism, such as that of the Green Party, but from revolutionary and working class struggle.
While making these criticisms Liberation News does recognize that there are differences between the program of Todd Chretien and that of the Green Party. If Todd Chretien was also speaking out for the Green Party to adopt a socialist program we could possibly give him support, but he is not. By running as a candidate and being a spokesperson for a party with a capitalist program Todd Chretien is helping build that capitalist party and program, so we must respectfully withhold our support.
Critical Support To The Socialist Candidates
Liberation News is giving critical support to Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action and Marsha Feinland of the Peace and Freedom Party. These are two socialist parties that hold socialist programs (for the most part) and are also active in the anti-war, free Mumia, and labor movements. To a large degree they represent the kind of political alternative that Liberation News promotes in opposition to the Democrats and Republicans.
Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action
Jeff Mackler is a long time socialist that has done much in organizing protests against imperialist wars, for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal, for socialism, and other leftist causes.
Jeff Mackler and other expelled members of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) were part of establishing new groups that continued on in some of the better traditions of the SWP, a party that led the 1934 Teamster’s Strike (a turning point in U.S. labor history), a party that was a major leader in the anti-war movement of the 1970’s and 1960’s, and a party that helped establish the world Trotskyist movement and expose the crimes of Stalinism.
Yet Jeff Mackler’s group, Socialist Action, was also born with a few programmatical errors. One was their abandonment of Trotsky’s concept of Political Revolution. The call for political revolution in the deformed workers states, such as the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, was a call for overthrowing the repressive Stalinist bureaucracy and institutionalizing workers’ democracy without overthrowing the nationalized planned economy itself. While Trotskyists call for political revolution in the deformed workers’ states, we also defend those socialist economies from imperialist attack and internal counter-revolution. The failure of Socialist Action to understand the true nature of the counter revolutionary movements in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and Afghanistan led to important mistakes.
In supporting Solidarnosc in Poland Socialist Action backed a political movement that had a clear program for capitalist counter revolution and joined ranks with the CIA, the Pope, and Ronald Reagan in backing Solidarnosc’s rise to power. After taking power Solidarnosc’s program became even clearer with the outlawing of abortion (that used to be free on demand) and privatizations of the economy that led to 50% unemployment. Yet despite how clear it is today that Solidarnosc led a capitalist counter-revolution as opposed to a socialist political revolution (that would maintain the socialist economy, but oust the Stalinist bureaucracy and institute workers’ democracy) Socialist Action has not changed their position on Solidarnosc.
On Black liberation we at Liberation News advocate Richard Fraser’s Theory of Revolutionary Integrationism as opposed to the Black Nationalism promoted by Socialist Action. Socialist Action’s advocacy of Black Nationalism has brought them to the point of even promoting the religious and pro-capitalist Nation of Islam of Louis Farrakhan. Liberation News sees the promotion of Black Nationalism as a dead end. There is no geographical area that we can point to on a map and say by its demographics that it would make sense to set up Black nation there. Even if it were possible or desirable to set up a separate Black Nation in the United States the pain and suffering such an adventure would cause in terms of dislocations of the working class would not be worth the price. Liberation News, in contrast, calls for the overthrow of the racist capitalist system and the building of an egalitarian socialist society that guarantees racial equality, full employment, and access to health care for all.
Liberation News does, however, see Socialist Action’s campaign for Senate as a supportable campaign that, despite its mistakes, is promoting socialism as the alternative to the capitalist Democrats, Republicans, and Greens.
Here are some of the demands that Mackler is putting forward with his campaign:
1) Immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq! No U.S. aid to Israel! Israel out of Lebanon and Gaza! Shut down Guantanamo! U.S. hands off Cuba and Venezuela! End the Cuba blockade!
2) Tax the rich, not working people! Jobs at top union wages for all! Shorten the work-week with no cut in pay! For a revitalized and fighting labor movement! For a Labor Party!
3) Human needs before capitalist profits! Nationalize so-called bankrupt corporations under workers’ control.
4) Free quality health care and education for people of all ages! Build schools not jails! Quality affordable housing for all!
5) An emergency program to combat global warming! End our dependency on fossil fuels! No to nuclear power and weapons!
6) Stop the attacks on civil liberties! Repeal the Patriot Act! End police brutality! Support the right of marriage for same sex couples!
7) Defend a woman’s right to control her own body! Ready access to abortion is a fundamental right!
8) Immediate amnesty, legalization, and equal rights for all immigrants! No to La Migra! Demilitarize and open the border! Self-determination for oppressed nationalities! Affirmative action with quotas to remedy past discrimination! Support to Black and Latino independent political action!
9) For a government of, by, and for working people and the oppressed! For socialism!
While Liberation News agrees with many of these slogans we see a couple as too transitional. We do not see any good reason for limiting calls for nationalization to so-called “bankrupt corporations”. Perhaps this is in imitation of the economic crisis of Argentina and the many “bankrupt corporations” that have been taken over and run by workers as part of a miniature workers’ economy that employs about 10,000 Argentinean workers.
Liberation News sees no reason for limiting the nationalization of companies to those that the capitalists don’t want anymore, companies that the capitalists are no longer making super profits from. The exploitation of workers’ and the environment have produced all wealth, and the revolutionary movement of the working class wants it all back! We want the railroads, the banks, the health care industry, and of course oil! Only a society with a planned economy can meet the needs of the working class, can end war for capitalist profit, and can begin to save the environment. Revolution takes bold vision; we want it all; leave the conservatism to the Democrats and Republicans!
Imperialism has caused the poverty of Mexico, and an open border is the only right thing to do. Yet an open border would be coupled with a massive influx of immigrants and should be combined with the call for a socialist economy that guarantees jobs for all. Only socialism can solve the national question.
Jeff Mackler’s campaign for senate, despite its errors, does help show the way forward by pointing to socialist demands and solutions.
Due to the undemocratic laws of the state of California making it very difficult for third parties to gain ballot access Jeff Mackler will not be on the ballot so if you choose to vote for him you will have to write in his name.
Marsha Feinland of the Peace and Freedom Party
The Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) is the only socialist party in California that does have ballot status. Liberation News is also extending critical support to the PFP candidacy of Marsha Feinland. Here are key points of Marsha Feinland’s campaign:
1) Withdraw troops and advisors from Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and Colombia
2) End aid to Israel until it withdraws to its pre-1967 borders
3) Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour
4) Create universal health care with a "single payer" (Canadian type) system- no insurance company profits
5) Shorten the work week with no loss in pay and guarantee paid vacation time for all workers
6) Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act - restore the right to strike and end "right to work" laws
7) Abolish the death penalty
8) End the phony "war on drugs" - legalize marijuana and decriminalize drug use
9) Fully fund the U.S. government share of education costs, particularly special education
10) End the war on children - stop the government mandated testing craze in public schools
11) Protect the National Forests and other public and native lands from corporate exploitation
12) Abolish the Senate and the Electoral College - one person, one vote
In this platform Marsha Feinland raises a number of good points, including opposing the undemocratic nature of the Senate itself stating, "Abolish the Senate and the Electoral College - one person, one vote." This is in reference to the way that the senate has equal numbers of representatives from each state, regardless of that state’s population. On a similar issue Diane Feinstein has been criticized by activists in Washington D.C., a district where the people do not get representation in the Senate, for supporting Washington D.C. school vouchers that were undemocratically crammed down their throats.
In the United States more than 45 million Americans have no health coverage. These include 9 million children. Millions of others have inadequate coverage. It is a crime that the richest nation (rich due to imperialist exploitation of the world) leads in medical technology, but has the worst access to healthcare of any developed nation. Marsha Feinland’s call for single payer healthcare of the Canadian model, covering everyone and getting rid of the insurance industry middlemen would be a welcome change. And yes, despite the propaganda, government programs are always more efficient than private profiteering with its stockholders, overpaid CEOs, and advertising. But the Cuban model with nationalized healthcare and no private hospitals or pharmaceutical companies profiteering from illness works even better. It is this healthcare model that Liberation News advocates.
In fact Marsha Feinland’s platform is not just missing a full socialized medicine program, it is missing another key ingredient. Besides calling for eliminating the private insurance industry through single payer, nowhere in her platform or other materials does she call for the nationalization of the capitalist economy. She has no reference to the expropriation of big oil, industry, and finance capital or even any calls for the nationalization or municipalization of the generation, distribution and sales of electric power. Without such a socialist program it will be impossible to neutralize the power of the capitalist class and meet the needs of the working class.
Liberation News also strongly disagrees with the Peace and Freedom Party’s practice of endorsing Democrats in city elections. In Santa Cruz this has meant that the Peace and Freedom Party has helped elect some of the most anti-worker, anti-homeless, and pro-police oppression Democrats such as Mike Rotkin. Rotten Rotkin publicly opposed the bus drivers when they went on strike, is currently campaigning against a city initiative to raise the minimum wage, has voted for and supported every anti-homeless law in Santa Cruz, and has backed the police in every act of repression, violence, and spying that they have carried out against the left in the city. The local PFP may not support Rotkin anymore, but they did help get him elected, and they continue to help elect other Democrats and Greens in Santa Cruz that have virtually identical programs to that of Rotkin. Liberation News says: No to support for Democrats or Greens in local or national elections! Yes to the socialist candidates!
It will take a massive working class movement for good socialist candidates to actually win elections. An important element of this will be breaking the labor movement from the Democrat Party. By backing the candidates worth voting for today we at Liberation News feel that we are helping build the foundations of that movement today and into the future as people get more and more fed up with capitalist exploitation and wars. Ultimately the ruling class will use ever more violence to try to maintain their grip on power and a revolution will be necessary for the working class to actually seize power and transform society.
Liberation News: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news
Marsha Feinland, California Peace and Freedom Party Candidate for Senate: http://feinlandforsenate.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1
Jeff Mackler, Socialist Action Candidate for Senate: http://www.socialistaction.org/macklerforsenate/index.html
Todd Cretien, Green Party Candidate for Senate: http://www.todd4senate.org/