Saturday, September 25, 2010

WE MUST NEVER FORGET: THE FBI IS AN AGENT OF STATE REPRESSION

Harry Targ

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided homes of activists and issued subpoenas to some of them in Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere on Friday, September 24. These FBI actions reminded me of a book I read by Regin Schmidt, a distinguished Danish historian, called Red Scare: FBI and the Origins of Anticommunism in the United States, University of Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2000. Schmidt carefully documents the role of state repression and FBI conduct in the 20th century. I wrote a review of the book which appeared in Socialism and Democracy, Summer-Fall, 2002, pp.212-214. The review, printed below, suggests that progressives need to understand the continued connections between social movements and state repression.

* * *

The young lack a sense of history-of the Cold War, of anti-communism, of the vibrancy of progressive movements in the United States. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, older activists discoursing on their history at first engaged in long needed self-criticism. The self-criticism then shifted, however, to blanket rejection of our progressive pasts—our victories as well as our defeats, our brave and honorable moments, and particularly a recollection of the hegemonic power of the U.S. state as a primary cause of our defeats. Plainly the horrific record of state repression in America is being forgotten by the older radicals and is unfamiliar to the younger ones.

Regin Schmidt’s book can help enormously in revisiting and reconstructing the role of state repression in manipulating, subverting, jailing, deporting, and killing leftists in the twentieth century. Schmidt has provided us with a data-rich account of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation took on its special role in crushing the left in America. His book is about the origins of the FBI in the old Bureau of Investigation in 1908 and its transformation into a state weapon in the struggle against perceived Bolshevism, anarchism, and communism in the aftermath of World War I. It is also about the continuity of state repression from the era of the Palmer Raids after the world war to Cold War America.

Schmidt argues that recently declassified information points to new explanations for the FBI’s rise to prominence. Some researchers view the agency’s rise as a response to mass hysteria, placing the root cause of anti-communism in the public at large. Schmidt, however, shows how popular attitudes about the Bolshevik/communist/anarchist threat emerge only after Attorney General Palmer and the FBI launched their campaigns of harassment, arrest, and deportation. In short, anti-communism as a public ideology was the creation of state institutions.

Another body of scholarly and journalist literature places primary, indeed sole, responsibility for FBI misdeeds on the shoulders of its long-time director, J. Edgar Hoover. While Schmidt sees Hoover as the major protagonist in the FBI drama, he grounds Hoover’s conduct in the context of state policy and bureaucratic interest.

Further, most studies of the FBI emphasize its role in shaping anti-communism after World War II. Schmidt, however, takes the reader back to the first Red Scare and the Palmer Raids for the origins of anti-communism. And, he claims, the campaign was constant from then through the Cold War period. The FBI and anti-communism are less visible from the mid-1920s until the depths of the Great Depression only because of the diminution of radical activities.

Schmidt clearly states his central thesis early in the book and demonstrates its accuracy through historical examination:

Just as the mushrooming federal agencies, bureaus, and commissions were employed to regulate the economy and ameliorate the most severe social consequences of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration, (so also) the state during the first decades of the century increasingly used its resources to control, contain, and, in times of crisis, to repress social unrest and political opposition. Thus, the institutionalization of the FBI’s political activities from 1919 was at bottom a part of the federalization of social control in the form of political surveillance.

This book provides an engaging, rich detailed history of how the FBI served the social control functions of the state: harassing the left, supporting federal, state, and local politicians in their anti-communist campaigns, and responding with sympathy to corporate requests for assistance. It covers the campaigns against the IWW, the 1919 strike wave, the Palmer Raids, the Seattle General Strike, and the deportation of radicals in the early twenties.

Red Scare is an important book. It should be read by older progressives to refresh their memories of real state repression in the United States. The book should be passed along to young activists, most of whom were not old enough to remember FBI harassment of Central American solidarity activists in the 1980s. And this book should be included as supplementary reading in university classes (and study groups) on U.S. history, American politics, and social movements.

Finally, the book makes crystal clear an important reality of struggles for social change. Social movements do not fall apart solely because of ideological rigidity or factionalism or egotism. The errors that come from our ranks have to be understood in the context of a continuous pattern of state repression. The sorry record of the FBI in the United States must not be forgotten. Red Scare will help us remember.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FORESTALLING CHANGE: UNITED STATES FOREIGN POLICY IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE 2010-A PROGRESSIVE RESPONSE

Harry Targ

Hopes for Change in United States Relations with Latin America

Progressives were more hopeful about a change in United States foreign policy toward Latin American than any place else as Barack Obama assumed office in January, 2009. Even though the nation’s attention was appropriately fixated on two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, and a deepening threat of war in the Middle East, they thought that the new administration could most easily begin to reshape the image of the United States role in the world in the Western Hemisphere.

Many scholar/activists urged the new administration to reverse the history of U.S. imperial rule in the Western Hemisphere by recognizing spreading populist politics in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.

Also, most commentators on Latin America proclaimed that it was time to end the 50-year blockade of Cuba; advocating that the United States reestablish formal diplomatic relations with the Hemisphere’s first Socialist country; and endorsing the right of any nation to choose its own destiny. Particularly, this principle should be applied to United States relations with the new populist regimes and particularly Venezuela as it pursues what it calls “21st century socialism.”

In addition, many observers assumed that the United States would use its influence and resources to reduce the bloody violence in the fifty year civil war in Colombia and in the process reverse war-like hostilities between Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. “The war on drugs,” the latest rallying cry for continuing U.S. military intervention in the region, would be reversed.

Progressives expected that United States material and diplomatic resources in the Hemisphere would shift from military transfers to multilateral economic assistance to facilitate continued economic development in the region. The United States, from this perspective, would respect those nations who chose to reject the neo-liberal model of development based upon privatization of public institutions, reductions in government participation in local economies, and the promotion of exports at the expense of production for domestic needs.

In conjunction with declining advocacy of neo-liberal policies, it was hoped that the United States in the new administration would move toward an immigration reform policy that recognizes the connections between harsh and austere economic policies forced on Latin American countries and the migration of people, desperately seeking work, to other countries.

In a January, 2010 document the Council on Hemisphere Affairs (COHA) summarized the condition of United States/Latin American relations when President Obama came into office:

Productive cooperation on a variety of shared regional concerns had been all but ignored by a Bush administration completely distracted by the Iraqi War, and in favor of an approach characterized by confrontation, diplomatic bullying, and the continued pursuit of policies detrimental to the abiding interests of both Latin America and the United States. Apparently recognizing this, Obama brought with him a promise to begin a “new chapter in the story of the Americas,” in which the U.S. leader would follow an inclusive and relevant approach to regional diplomacy, coupled with a pledge to begin matching rhetoric with deeds.” (COHA, January, 2010)

Early Positive Policy Initiatives

Some administration initiatives in 2009 indicated that the Obama administration would begin the process of transforming the history of relations with the region. First, the administration loosened restrictions on Cuban American travel to the island, including giving them more rights to transfer funds to their families on the island. This reversed the Bush administration’s policies which reduced rights of travel and monetary transfer of funds from U.S. citizens of Cuban heritage to their relatives.

Second, the word inside the beltway was that this initial policy change on Cuba would be followed in short order by the end of the United States blockade of Cuba.

Third, at a meeting of Hemisphere leaders, President Obama was photographed shaking hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Neo-conservatives used the image to prove that Obama was capitulating to Venezuelan Socialism, which was part of the new Cuban/Venezuelan cabal. Moderate observers of U.S. policy, on the other hand, perceived the photo op as an example of the maturing United States policy

Fourth, when military officers and economic elites in Honduras carried out a coup, ejecting one of their own who had begun to improve ties to the Venezuelan-led reform currents in the Hemisphere, the Obama administration, as virtually every regime in the Hemisphere, condemned the military coup. The United States made it clear that military coups, while part of the old political ways in the region, were no longer acceptable. The Organization of American States ejected the illegal regime from the regional grouping.

United States Latin American Policy: The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same

Much of the Latin American foreign policy agenda progressives expected of the new administration has not been implemented. Despite growing pressure from the left and right, agricultural and tourist interests and spokespersons from major business groups, the blockade of Cuba has not been ended. The Cuban Five, Cuban citizens tried and convicted illegally for working to uncover terrorist plots targeted against their country, remain in prison. Despite rumors of change, policies prohibiting hundreds of university and high school educational exchanges with Cuba are still in place. Public statements from foreign policy spokespersons today directed against Cuba have the same Cold War character as those in the past. And the mainstream media continue to characterize the island nation as an archaic dictatorship surviving only because of Venezuelan oil money.

The United States, after the dramatic Obama/Chavez handshake, has continued to publicly condemn the influence of Venezuela in the region, and by beefing up the Colombian military, has increased tensions between the two neighboring nations.

After an initial credible statement condemning the coup in Honduras, the United States worked to circumvent the ousted Honduran leader from reassuming office and supported a flawed election that the coup plotters orchestrated in November, 2009. Meanwhile violence inside Honduras, targeting anti-government activists and journalists, has risen significantly. Beltway influentials close to the Honduran business class and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have worked to undermine the continued condemnation of the Honduran coup around the Hemisphere.

The United States has escalated its military presence in the region. First, the United States and the government of Colombia have initiated a deal to create seven new military bases in Colombia. This clear tilt toward the latter has increased tensions between Colombia and her neighbors to the east and west, Venezuela and Ecuador. The “war on drugs” continues. Second, with a curious shift in Costa Rican policy, that country has authorized a large U.S. naval presence in Central American coastal waters.

Finally, the pattern of United States economic and military assistance in the region reflects more continuity in U.S. policy than change. For example, COHA points out that between 2008 and 2010 there has been a substantial increase in military and police assistance to the region (from $1.13 billion in 2008 to $1.4 billion in 2010) and a modest decline in economic assistance (from $1.7 in 2008 to $1.64 billion in 2010). With the establishment of seven new bases in Colombia and the presence of a U.S. naval fleet in the Caribbean, COHA argues, Latin American countries, fearful of declining regional security may be enticed or frightened to purchase more arms, setting off an arms race in the region.

For many years national defense budgets remained virtually unchanged in South America, but reports are surfacing about significant new arms purchases by Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia, among others in South America. Whether or not you call it an arms race, the increase is substantial. Led by arms purchases, South America’s defense spending increased by 30 percent from 2007 to 2008, reaching $50 billion.

A Progressive Agenda for United States Foreign Policy in the Western Hemisphere

The vision of a progressive foreign policy agenda for Latin America is clear. The United States must move away from a five hundred year policy of colonialism and neo-colonialism; by the Spanish, the Portuguese, the British, and most recently the United States. The imperial program that emerged with the U.S. occupation of Cuba in the late 19th century to the support of the repressive Colombian regime and the successors to the military junta in Honduras today must be rejected. Latin American nations must be allowed to choose their own agenda. In fact, experiments with democracy, populism, and 21st century Socialism are experiments from which the United States could learn.

Specifically a progressive Latin American policy should include:

-an end to arms transfers

-the elimination of U.S. bases and naval maneuvers in the region

-withdrawal of support from the corrupt and violent government of Colombia

-opening up serious dialogue with Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and other regimes which have rejected the IMF neo-liberal policies

-establishing full diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba

-exonerating the Cuban Five

-working with Hemisphere nations to develop comprehensive immigration reform that provides work and humane living conditions for migrant workers
everywhere

-establishing dialogue with Hemisphere economic and political institutions that have been created to protect the rights of national self-determination of participating countries

With the changing global role of the United States in the international system and the growing international connections being established between countries of the Global South, including Latin America, progressives must demand that United States foreign policy no longer stand against historical demands for progressive social change.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PROGRESSIVES MEET TO DISCUSS THE 2010 ELECTIONS, THE ECONOMIC CRISIS, AND THE VISION OF A PEOPLE'S DEMOCRACY

Harry Targ

“Get on the Bus.”

That was the conclusion sixteen activists from Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky came to after a day-long meeting assessing the needs of progressive forces between now and the fall elections, and after. The occasion was the semi-annual meeting of the Midwest Region of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS).The small but spirited gathering of activists addressed the significance of the fall, 2010 elections, the economic crisis, and how to incorporate Jack O’Dell’s recently proposed Democracy Charter into the project of building a progressive majority.

Elections 2010

Ted Pearson, Chicago peace and justice activist, opened with a discussion of elections 2010 called “Saving the Progressive Majority.” He quoted from a recent article in The Nation by Jean Hardisty and Deepak Bharvava, “Eighteen months into the Obama era, the progressive movement is experiencing malaise, based on disappointment about what has been accomplished so far and confusion about the path forward.”

Pearson noted that while the Obama administration has achieved modest gains in public policy—health care reform, some financial regulation, expansion of poverty programs, student loan reform, and the selection of two moderate Supreme Court justices—people are angered and frustrated by the continuing economic crisis, particularly high unemployment and under employment, two wars, threats to civil liberties, and lack of progress on immigration reform, and climate change legislation.

Polling data about where people stand on issues and candidates, Pearson said, suggests much anger and confusion. Progressives must use the next six weeks to reverse the dangerous tilt toward reaction. Pearson quoted from a recent speech by Van Jones, environmental activist and green jobs advocate, targeted by the rightwing for dismissal from the Obama administration, who argued that after eight years of despair activists in 2008 felt a sudden surge of hope. Now there is the danger of returning to despair. Nothing, Jones suggested, can be more destructive of the prospects for a people’s agenda than to withdraw. It must be made clear that the 2008 election only got progressives “to the starting line;” that the projects initiated have not been completed; and that the struggle in the electoral arena and elsewhere must continue.

Drawing from these comments and history, Pearson concluded that achieving change requires the building of a mass movement. It was the mass movement that led to Obama’s victory and it will take a mass movement to force him and all the institutions of national, state, and local government to move in a progressive direction.

For right now, Pearson argued, progressive forces need to support the massive rally, “One Nation Working Together” to be held on October 2. This rally will be historic, bringing together the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and hundreds of peace, justice, and environmental groups. http://www.onenationworkingtogether.org/

The October 2 movement will not only bring hundreds of thousands to Washington D.C. to take back the public image from the rightwing, but it will galvanize local progressive groups to speak and work together, whether they are able to go to Washington D. C. or not. Most importantly, October 2 promises to bring a broad coalition to “the starting line” so that they can work together in the months and years ahead to achieve economic and social justice and peace.

Most attendees endorsed Pearson’s analysis and Jones’ call to fight despair. They endorsed a campaign to mobilize those who worked so hard to get to the starting line in 2008 to organize at the grassroots for October 2. The campaign for “One Nation Working Together” must build on analyses of the interconnections between class, race, and gender. White privilege, so much a part of the Tea Party agenda, has to be directly challenged.

The Jobs Crisis

Ira Grupper, labor activist and chair of the CCDS Labor Committee, opened the second panel with a discussion of the crisis of jobs described in the new CCDS booklet, “It’s Time to Fight for Full Employment.” http://www.solidarityeconomy.net/2010/06/09/randy-shannon-the-case-for-full-employment/

Rich with data and commentary, the document points to the long term structural character of unemployment in the United States. Recessions, periods of limited or no economic growth, have been followed by longer and longer periods of high unemployment. Over the last decade recoveries from economic stagnation have occurred without reductions in unemployment; so-called “jobless recoveries.” Grupper pointed out that in recent years corporate announcements of job layoffs have usually been followed by increases in stock market prices. Since the dawn of the new century, profit making by huge corporations and banks has been coupled with declining economic security for American working people.

Grupper referred to the booklet’s description of deindustrialization, financialization, and increasing marginalization of workers by race as well as class. Discussants added that the particular impact of the recession on women needs to be highlighted.

In addition, participants identified a web of interconnections between cuts in education, lack of training for youth, the rise in marginalization, the shift to the so-called “informal sector,” often criminal activity, and incarceration with no resources for programs of rehabilitation. As Grupper pointed out, the youngest cohort of workers, ages 16 to the mid- 20s experience the highest rates of unemployment, some never having experienced a job.

Grupper pointed out that the CCDS booklet summarizes a number of proposals for change, including the United States Steel Workers proposals for a green jobs agenda, support for workers cooperatives, and demands for a new industrial policy that emphasizes public sector employment including infrastructure construction.

The Democracy Charter

The final panel introduced by Janet Tucker, National Organizer, CCDS, and Mildred Williamson, member of the National Executive Committee, CCDS, described the 2009 Democracy Charter crafted by 87-year-old civil rights activist Jack O’Dell. (http://www.democracycharter.org/) O’Dell, once an aide to Dr. Martin Luther King and editor of the distinguished journal, Freedomways, has called on 21st century activists to work for a program called the Democracy Charter. The idea of the Democracy Charter was inspired by the Freedom Charter adopted by the African National Congress (ANC) in the 1950s as it organized to defeat racial apartheid in that country.

In addition, O’Dell was inspired by the so-called “Five Principles” of peace and justice embraced by the newly formed Non-Aligned movement of nations in Bandung, Indonesia, also in the 1950s. Both documents proclaimed that freedom and justice both within countries and between them were indivisible. By adopting a Democracy Charter now, O’Dell has argued, progressives in the United States and around the world can articulate a vision for a better world; one that connects class, race, and gender, peace, environmental justice, and the uplift of humankind.

Tucker and Williamson pointed out that the Charter, as currently written consists of thirteen main points:

-an end to homelessness
-full employment
-a commitment to human rights
-free education from early childhood through college
-a non-aggressive foreign policy
-universal healthcare
-a secure and solvent social security system
-a farm economy resting on family and cooperative enterprises
-a prison system committed to rehabilitation
-restoration and protection of the environment
-expanded public management of natural resources
-the right to have every vote counted
-airwaves maintained as public property.

During the day, attendees grappled with the difficulty of communicating progressive ideas in a politically charged and hostile environment. Several commentators agreed that the Democracy Charter, like the Freedom Charter of the 1950s, may have the appeal to move beyond premature rejection.

By seriously reflecting on the election just 50 days away and carefully assessing the structural crisis of the U.S. economy, the attendees at this regional meeting recognized the tasks that progressives must complete. And by reflecting on the Democracy Charter they saw a way to clarify the meaning of their work to organize with others to push beyond “the starting line.” Metaphorically, all agreed to “get on the bus.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

THE WORKING CLASS BUILT THIS COUNTRY: IN 2010 WE MUST MOBILIZE TO TRANSFORM IT

Harry Targ

From Labor Day to Election Day

I want to add my voice to the thousands of essayists and bloggers who have been contemplating the 2010 elections, the media “framing” of Tea Party influence, the role of progressives in the elections, and mobilizing for the last 54 days before the elections.

First, I think elections still matter. Since most people see politics and elections as equivalent and some of them actively participate in the electoral process, progressives need to be there as well. In addition, in states and communities decisions will be made about how federal government money for local school corporations is to be allocated, about workers compensation for victims of asbestos related workplace injuries, so-called Right to Work laws, and how congressional and state legislative districts will be redesigned. At the national level, policy decisions about such critical issues as jobs, climate change, education, military spending, and judicial appointments will be affected by election outcomes.

Second, most of these issues have not been the main narrative. The media have framed the fall elections around the big losses of Democrats, the rise of the Tea Party, and how the Obama administration has not fixed eight years of economic mismanagement and war (let alone thirty years of ill-conceived policies).

Third the “liberal” media, while more sophisticated and entertaining in its coverage of election year stories over-emphasize “making fun” of some of the outlandish Tea Party candidates for public office. And they, and their right wing media colleagues at Fox, have made the obscure former governor of Alaska a million dollar media star.

In response, Tea Party candidates, and their corporate sponsors, have decided to do two things: forget about trying to put together logical, coherent plans for an alternative set of policies and when challenged by enterprising reporters just walk away. Since the media they tell us is the enemy and most people are fearful of public speaking, incoherence and evasiveness will resonate well with a disillusioned public.

Fourth, part of the context for the unstable politics of the fall, 2010, is the continued economic crisis that grips working people. Unemployment, declining real wages, indebtedness, crumbling public services remains all too real for the majority of Americans. In addition, until his exciting Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, the Obama administration has failed to propose an economic stimulus program that could bring millions of un- and underemployed workers back to work and until yesterday, backed off his commitment to a massive program for creating green jobs. For reasons of political exigency, he has postponed advocacy for immigration reform, climate change legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, and an end to the blockade of Cuba. Perhaps most troubling for the long run, Obama appointed to positions of power, many of the neoliberal financiers who were responsible for the current phase of capitalist crisis.

Having said all this, the administration has forestalled return to depression with a modest economic recovery program, created some public sector jobs, “saved” the U.S. auto industry, and has secured the passage of an inadequate health care reform bill but one which may stimulate more movement toward a single payer system in the future.

A Little History

A high level of distrust of government, low regard for politicians, and periodic active anger at our public institutions is a characteristic feature of American history often reflected in voting against political incumbents and supporting candidates who are most vocal against government programs. For example, the American National Election Studies (ANES) prepared an index of Trust in Government made up of several questions reflecting the points just raised. Looking over time the level of trust in government was at a score of 49 in 1958, 52 in 1964, 27 in 1980, 29 in 1992, 36 in 2000, and declined to 26 by 2008. Only twice in the Johnson years, did the Trust Index reach a score over 60 and six times since 1958 the index score was below 30.

In addition, a constant feature of political life has been active and extremist politics. For example, the American party of the 1850s, or “Know Nothing Party,” got its name from members being instructed when asked about the party to say “I know nothing.” While short-lived they elected several national and state office holders before the civil war.

Throughout U.S. history so-called “nativist” groups formed and mobilized against waves of immigrants: Catholics, Germans, the Irish, Chinese, Jews, and Latinos. Armed Klan organizations terrorized the South and the Midwest in the 1880s and 1920s and 1930s and dominated the political life in many states in these eras.

Of course, extremist movements, often organized and funded by corporations and wealthy individuals, scared the American people during the dark days of anti-Communism in the 1940s and 1950s. Red Channels, a small but well-funded political organization, published lists of suspected Communists in the entertainment industry and pressured the new television corporations and advertisers to purge actors and actresses, with views supportive of labor, racial integration, and peace, from the airwaves. Their activism paralleled and reinforced Congressional reactionaries who used investigative committees to hound individuals and groups.

Alternatively, for all of Labor’s flaws, the history of the American labor movement has been central to social progress in the United States: from the demands for an eight hour day, skilled trades controls of the pace of work, health and safety at the work place, a fair wage, programs of health and retirement benefits, and, after much internal conflict, support for the struggles against racism and sexism. There is no question that organized labor, although weakened and embattled, represents the most powerful force in today’s society resisting the privatization of social security, deregulation of the economy and environment, and the total marginalization of working people everywhere.

A Progressive Campaign Program

So what to do now? History and context suggests that given the importance of elections, the enormous distrust of government, the existence of media and corporate capital support for the historic undercurrents of anti-government and anti-worker political traditions, often coupled with racism and fear of foreigners, progressives have only one choice for the next two months: work to elect political candidates from the city council to the Congress of the United States who support a “working people’s agenda.”

American political history tells us that movements like the Tea Party are not new. While the concern and anger reflected among those grassroots activists who participate in rallies and marches is usually sincere and motivated by fears of strange times and economic crises with no seeming resolution, its leaders offer no program, no vision, and no coherent agenda. If Tea Party spokespersons and candidates are queried about their goals, they evade or refuse to respond. Some of their television heroes draw lines and circles and arrows on blackboards to illustrate the connections between people living down the street, working in a union job, teaching at a college, running for office, and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

No, progressives cannot argue with the Tea Party movement. But, what we must do is to campaign, not just for individual candidates or just for a party but for a “working people’s agenda.” That constitutes the only future for the vast majority of Americans. This agenda must include a fight for full employment. As the AFL-CIO put it in 2009 action must be taken to extend unemployment benefits; rebuild America’s schools, roads, and energy systems; expand support for the maintenance of state and local public services; put all people who want to work on jobs that need to be done; and regulate banks more effectively so that they are required to support local projects that create businesses which will create jobs.

Laura Jackson, a member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) noted recently: “We definitely need to make sure that the people making the decisions make jobs their top priority. I’m going to do all I can to make sure that happens including getting the message out to my family, union members, and anyone who will listen.”

Therefore, progressives, both in the labor movement and supportive of it must welcome and support the new AFL-CIO campaign to mobilize voters in 26 states and 400 races to support candidates who endorse a working peoples’ agenda. This includes making sure that the “new Obama” proposals reflected in the President’s speech of September 6, 2010, carrying the message of green jobs and justice, become part of the agenda of every candidate we support this fall.

Also progressives must spread the word about the historic mobilization October 2 for “One Nation Working Together” organized by the AFL-CIO, the National Association of Colored People (NAACP), and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Already many peace and justice groups such as United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) have signed on as supporters.

Most importantly, progressives must work in their communities and in solidarity with workers, people of color, and youth to elect progressive candidates to public office and to monitor their conduct once they are elected. It must be made clear to all that the progressive majority is not engaged in politics to support candidates or parties but to transform America.