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(en) US, Open City Anarchist #4 September 2012

Date Thu, 20 Sep 2012 16:36:59 +0300


The Elections and the Coming Catastrophes ---- Two things stand out in the current election season. One is the terrible dangers which threaten the U.S. and all humanity. The other is the way both parties ignore these terrible dangers. ---- Perhaps the greatest dangers are in the area of the world ecology, environment, and energy supplies. Global climate change threatens both massive droughts and floods in different regions, together with rising sea levels and the extinction of life forms. All this while pollution increases and limited resources like oil are used up. Both U.S. political parties are bought and paid-for by the big energy companies, among others. The Republicans simply deny that there is any problem with climate change and live in a fantasy-land of drilling rigs. The Democrats know better and talk a little about it, but do nothing.

A second set of dangers includes the continuing wars
all over the world. Should these wars get out of hand,
they will lead to nuclear wars. Nuclear armaments are
more widespread than ever before. A nuclear war
could wipe out humanity and other species. Mostly,
the Republicans are eager for more wars and threats
of wars. The Democrats currently wage wars and ex-
pand bases in the Asia and Africa and threaten war
with Iran. Neither party advocates a campaign for
world-wide nuclear disarmament.

Third, the economy is in terrible shape. After the worst
crisis since the Great Depression, no major changes
were made in the structure of the economy or in gov-
ernment regulation. The “recovery” is weak and wob-
bly. Sooner or later, there will be another crash, worse
than the last one. The Republicans push for even
more tax cuts for the very rich, less regulation for their
businesses, and cuts in social services for poor and
working people. The Democrats are for a few more
taxes on the rich, a few more regulations, but also ma-
neuver for further cuts in social services. Both Democ-
rats and Republicans aim to improve profits for the
corporations by increasing their exploitation of the
working class. After the next elections, the two sides
likely will get together and make a “grand bargain” for
more cuts in Medicare, Social Security and other ben-
efits.

Meanwhile, the far right has gotten crazier while
racism and authoritarianism have increased. There
are attacks on women's rights, voting rights, immigra-
tion rights, and Black and brown people, LGBT peo-
ple, Muslims and labor unions in general. Overall, the
Republicans are viciously racist, nativist, anti-worker,
and anti-women, while the Democrats talk a good
game but do little to improve things in practice. Or go
backwards--like increasing the deportation of undocu-
mented immigrants, starting witch hunts against whis-
tle-blowers, Occupiers and antiwar activists,
blaming teachers’ unions for the problems
of education, and walking away from supporting meas-
ures which would make it easier for workers to form
unions.

Vote for the “Lesser Evil”?

Looking at this record, many people conclude that it is
necessary to vote for and campaign for Obama and
the Democratic Party. They are the “lesser evil” (which
at least admits that they are “evil”). This is the line of
liberals, union officials, women's rights activists, envi-
ronmentalists, leaders of the African- American and
Latino communities, etc.

Now, suppose you had a disease. There are two doc-
tors nearby. One is a quack and a fraud. You don't
want that one. The other knows a little but is a bum-
bler, and in any case knows nothing about your illness.
In practice, the second is no better than the first.
Going to either one can kill you. You need honest and
competent medical care.

The question, then, is not whether the Democrats are
the “lesser evil” to the “greater evil” of the Republi-
cans. They are. The real question is: Can either one
solve the problems which working people face? Is ei-
ther party (both supporters of big business and the
war-waging national state) good enough to prevent
environmental collapse, nuclear war, and economic
disaster-as well as hold off racist terrorists? We say
that neither the Democrats (moderate centrists to lib-
erals) nor the Republicans (conservatives to raving
semi-fascists) can save us. They are both dependent
on the U.S. ruling class of big business people, a class
which is focused on keeping up their profits rather
than saving society.

A Non-Party Alternative

There is an alternative to once more relying on the
“lesser evil.” The unions, activists, organized environ-
mentalists, women, GLBT militants, organizations in
the African-American, Latino, Muslim, and Arab-Ameri-
can communities, could stop spending their money
and human resources on electing their class enemies,
the Democratic politicians.

Instead they should begin a massive campaign for the
rights of workers and all oppressed people. This would
include large-scale demonstrations and marches, civil
disobedience, local and general strikes, sit-ins and oc-
cupations at worksites and schools, and general hell-
raising. (Hot & Crusty bakery workers did just that late
last month when they occupied their store after their
bosses threatened to close it). It was by such methods
that the unions won organizing rights in the 1930s, as
well as the benefits of the New Deal, that African-
Americans defeated legal segregation in the 1960s
and won anti-discrimination and anti-poverty policies
in the 1970s, and that the movement against the Viet-
namese War interfered with the war in the '60s and
'70s. Elections were never central to the struggle for
justice.

Today's movements need a program which is more re-
alistic than the failed program of the liberal wing of the
Democrats. Businesses which fail and can’t stop pol-
luting should be expropriated (taken away from the
owners, without payment) and managed by the work
-ers and local working class communities.The govern-
ment should establish public enterprises to clean up
the environment, rebuild energy sources, provide uni-
versal housing, food, clothing, education and health-
of education, and walking away from supporting meas-
care, and replacing military spending with socially
useful production. These public enterprises should
also be managed by their employees and their com-
munities. The self-managed businesses and public
enterprises should coordinate with each other to begin to
plan the economy, democratically, from the bottom-up.

The Way Forward

Right now only a small minority is for such a libertar-
ian-socialist program (also called revolutionary anar-
chism). Many more are for liberalism (more
government stimulus and regulation of the capitalist
economy), or for state-“socialism” (the government
take over and run the economy-really “state capital-
ism”). The anarchist goal is an economy self-managed
by workers and their communities, with the bureau-
cratic military-machine replaced by an armed popula-
tion (so long as this is needed) and society being
coordinated by a federation of workplace councils and
neighborhood assemblies.

Many anarchists are reformists, believing that step-by-
step, peaceful, gradual, changes, can result in growing
alternate cooperatives and collectives, until they re-
place the state and capitalism. Many people in the
Occupy movement thought this way. But when the
establishment felt threatened, it used the police to
crush the Occupations. Similarly, at some point even-
tually there will be a direct confrontation between the
rebellious working people and the power of the state.
At that point will we as workers and oppressed people
be prepared politically and militarily to defend our-
selves and carry through a democratic revolution?
will we face the prospect of a fascist, and possibly nu-
clear, catastrophe? As revolutionary anarchists we
fight for the first choice, and this newsletter is part of
that struggle.

Stop & Frisk Contd.

First, there is plain old racism. A few more Black and
brown faces in government and business and the
election of Obama has not wiped out a culture on
which the country was founded. The surge of support
for Trayvon Martin’s killer and the pelting of the CNN
camerawoman with peanuts at the Republican con-
vention are only small examples.

But there is another reason buried in a set of figures
that is not widely publicized.That is the idle cash hold-
ings of U.S. corporations, which now total some $5 tril-
lion. This is money that is not being reinvested in
society, producing useful things and putting people to
work. Instead it just sits there in banks, funds and
other financial institutions.

The lesson is that the capitalists have no confidence
in their own economy. They don’t need the people to
feed, clothe, house and educate. It’s cheaper for them
simply to box them up and throw them away in prison.
And underneath it all, that’s what stop-and-frisk is all
about—the first step in the process. Today the pro-
gram targets Black and Latino young people in order
to keep their fair-skinned brothers and sisters blinded
by their own racist culture. That’s for now, though. As
capitalism sinks deeper into crisis, white folks will be
next.

Common Struggle-Libertarian Communist Federation
www.commonstruggle.org
Locally contact: opencityny@gmail.com

------------------------------------------


DOWN WITH STOP & FRISK!

The racist stop and frisk statistics are by now well-
known and overwhelming. They have been so com-
pelling as to cause a federal judge to certify for
class-action status a suit accusing the city of using
race as a basis for the practice. In particular, in 2002
the NYPD stopped and frisked 97000 people, of whom
82% were totally innocent. By 2011 that number had
jumped seven-fold, to 686,000, of whom 605,000, or
88%, were totally innocent. In 2011 87% of those
stopped were Black or Latino and over half were
young people between the ages of 14-24. The figures
for prior years are similar. Moreover, in some NYPD
precincts the cops used force in one-half to two-thirds
of their stops. Yet those stops resulted in fewer arrests
than the citywide average.

Bloomberg and the NYPD defend the practice as an
effective crime-fighting tool. They point to the 29%
drop in violent crime since 2001. But what they don’t
want to admit is that other large cities have had even
bigger reductions without the use of stop and frisk; like
Los Angeles, 59%; New Orleans, 56%; and Baltimore,
37%. Moreover, the sharp drop in New York’s murder
rate occurred before Bloomberg and stop and frisk.

Upon returning to New York in 2000, Commissioner
Kelly had harsh criticism of stop and frisk: “[A] large
reservoir of good will was under construction when I
left the Police Department in 1994. It was called com-
munity policing. But it was quickly abandoned for
tough-sounding rhetoric and dubious stop-and-frisk
tactics that sowed new seeds of community mistrust”.

So then why has such a dubious program been contin-
ued and expanded? Why have millions of people been
humiliated and terrorized on the street for no apparent
reason?

----------------------------------------------

KEEP JAZZ HAYDEN FREE!

DA Cyrus Vance and the NYPD continue to press
weapons charges against 71-year-old Jazz Hayden,
who was arrested last December after an
unconstitutional car search. The weapons? A penknife
and a miniature souvenir baseball bat. Jazz has been
a well-known activist at the Riverside Church
Prison Ministry and in the Campaign to End
the New Jim Crow. He has extensively made videos of NYPD
stops, which can be seen on allthingsharlem.com/cop-
watch.

The NYPD doesn’t like to be documented, much
less held accountable for its actions. That’s why it is
retaliating against Jazz for his work. It’s also sending a
message to anyone else who is interested in recording
police tactics.

Jazz must be defended. Sign his online petition at
www.freejazzhayden.wordpress.com.

AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL!

===================================================

About us

This Is Common Struggle! An Introduction To The Libertarian Communist Federation
Submitted by Common Struggle on Sat, 11/09/2002 - 03:40

An Introduction to the Libertarian Communist Federation

Common Struggle / Lucha Común is a bi-lingual (English and Spanish) organization of revolutionaries from the northeastern region of North America who identify with the communist tradition within anarchism. We oppose all forms of oppression and exploitation, and struggle for a classless, stateless, non-hierarchical society.

To achieve such a society, we must bring an end to patriarchy, white supremacy and class domination; smash State power; expropriate the wealth of the rich; abolish the wage system and market economy; and socialize the means of production and distribution for the benefit of society as a whole. This means nothing short of social revolution, which can only emerge from autonomous social movements and the revolutionary self-activity of the working class.

REVOLUTION REQUIRES ORGANIZATION

We believe that, if only to wage the 'battle of ideas', anarchist organizations are necessary. We reject the vision which reduces the idea of revolution to the authoritarian seizure of power by a centralized party which is believed to be acting in the name of the masses. We know that this vision has led to bloody dictatorships and has nothing to do with real socialism.

Common Struggle is not a party, or a self-proclaimed vanguard, and we do not see ourselves as an organization that will "lead" the anarchist movement, never mind "lead" the working class to social emancipation. We recognize that a successful revolution can only be carried out directly by the working class. However, we believe this must be preceded by organizations able to radicalize mass movements and popular struggles, combat authoritarian and reformist tendencies, act as a forum where ideas and experiences between militants can be discussed, and provide a vehicle for the maximum political impact of anarcho-communist ideas within the working class.

In Common Struggle we think that this activity can be roughly divided into three different areas: study and theoretical development, anarchist agitation and propaganda, and intervention in the class struggle.

WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO?

Common Struggle was originally named the "Northeastern Federation of Anarchists Communists (NEFAC)". NEFAC unofficially began over the summer of 1999 as a loose network between English-speaking anarcho-communists from New England and French-speaking anarcho-communists from Quebec who shared a mutual dissatisfaction with the state of the anarchist movement on both sides of the border. In April 2000, NEFAC was officially launched at a conference in Boston, MA. In September 2011, the name was changed to "Common Struggle - Libertarian Communist Federation".

The federation is organized around the principles of theoretical coherence, tactical unity, collective responsibility and federalism. Our membership is composed of local groups and individuals throughout the region. Our activity (either directly through the federation, or autonomously through our participation within larger grassroots coalitions) has included work in the anti-globalization movement, anti-war activism, international solidarity, prisoner support, workplace and community organizing, anti-fascist struggles, and anti-poverty work. The purpose of the federation is to connect this local activity to a larger strategy of social revolution, and, ultimately, a vision of a libertarian communist future.

Common Struggle is a directly democratic and federalist organization. We are also a membership organization, with dues and certain obligations to one and other. We have a straightforward constitution and members are expected to abide by it. Major decisions are made at annual conferences where every member has one vote and no one has any more say than anyone else. Smaller decisions in between conferences are made by a Delegate Council, a delegate council composed of representatives from each Common Struggle member group (supporter groups are entitled an indicative vote). All delegates are directly accountable to their respective group. Open debate is encouraged; we have no party line or party bosses. We are organized in this way because we believe that the structure of our federation should reflect the kind of society we want to live in: democratic, participatory, accountable, and anti-authoritarian.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Common Struggle has two types of involvement: members and supporters.

A member is any group or individual that agrees with the politics of the federation, fulfills the expectations of membership, and has had their candidature accepted by an annual conference. The federation recognizes two types of membership - group and individual. However, because the libertarian communist vision of society and revolutionary activity is fundamentally collective, individual membership is seen as a temporary measure.

A supporter is any group or individual who agrees with the positions and orientations of the federation, but cannot or does not want to fulfill the membership expectations; supporter status is also a preliminary stage for groups and individuals who expect to eventually apply for full membership.

Whether applying for individual or group membership, the process is essentially the same. First, the interested group or individual needs to contact either the local group which is geographically closest to them or the National Secretary, informing the federation of their interest in joining. Either the closest local group or the Delegate Council can then immediately approve them for supporter status. If supporter status is approved, the group will then be expected to engage in a working relationship with the rest of the federation. If the group so desires, they can then apply for full membership at any subsequent conference. The purpose of the supporter status and the requirement that a supporter group wait until the following conference to apply for membership is to ensure that the groups who join the federation are stable.

Common Struggle is not a large organization, and we have no pretensions about our importance. However, we are convinced enough of our ideas to want to spread them as widely as possible, both by propaganda and involvement in social movements and popular struggles. If you agree with our politics and support our activity, please get in touch!
_________________________________________
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