News, commentary and analysis by leaders of the Communist Party USA in New York State. We discuss State politics and issues in New York City, covering developments in labor, civil rights education, housing and more.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Unions to lobby for "energy democracy" at Paris climate talks

Unions to lobby for

 "energy democracy" 

at Paris climate talks

By Teresa Albano

Originally published @ (link)

Everybody likes to talk about the weather but nobody can do a damn thing about it. Or can they?

Severe weather events that have caused deaths and destruction are linked to climate change - like 2012's Hurricane Sandy that pummeled New York and New Jersey, or the drought in Syria that forced people off their lands and into the cities, helping to create, according toreports, conditions that caused the devastating civil war. 

Despite the billions that Big Oil companies like Exxon Mobil have poured into spreading all kinds of climate change denial narratives, the world's scientists agree overwhelmingly that the planet is warming and it's due to the unprecedented release of human-created greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. 

And this warming has a cascading effect that even scientists cannot forecast. For one thing, glaciers and gigantic ice floes are melting into the oceans causing sea levels to rise, which in turn, threatens island nations like Fiji or low-lying regions of the United States, like the Florida Everglades. It's changing ocean currents and atmospheric patterns, leading to extreme weather events of all kinds - yes, including more severe blizzards too. 

And who are the biggest victims of climate change? 

Working people around the world - the poor, the underpaid, the jobless, the exploited. 

Now, unions worldwide are preparing to make sure the voices and needs of working people are included in the final United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris, Nov. 30 - Dec. 11. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) plans to lobby negotiators and leaders of some 190 countries during the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference on three issues:

Raise the level of "ambition" in the emission targets and by doing so "realize" job creation potential in the greening of economies; 

Guarantee the most vulnerable people and nations get the maximum financial help; 

Commit to a "just transition" for workers and their communities involved in industries that rely on fossil fuels. 

Among the U.S. union delegates will be Sean Sweeney, PhD, who is the coordinator of a global network called Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. He is also the director of the International Program forLabor, Climate and Environment, which is part of the City University of New York's Murphy Institute. Sweeney told People's World that there will be official union participation that focuses on the formal talks in Paris, but unions will also collaborate with other social movements in hosting discussions, debates and networking events outside of the official UN summit. 

On Dec. 8, TUED and other union groups will host Naomi Klein, author of "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate," and British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in a conversation entitled, "Now Is Not the Time for Small Steps: Solutions to the Climate Crisis and the Role of Trade Unions." 

This session is shaping up to be the largest-ever union event at a climate meeting, Sweeney said in a Nov. 23 interview (to be featured in an upcoming People's World podcast). There is not yet widespread activism on climate change among the world's unions, nor is there unanimity on cutting carbon emissions, as jobs are often at stake. But there is a growing recognition among U.S. and other unions worldwide that action on climate change is an issue for working people and their communities. 

The Paris summit presents "a great organizing opportunity," Sweeney said. In addition to the Klein/Corbyn event, TUED will be "trying to get unions to support a trade union call for a global moratorium on fracking for shale gas and shale oil. And that has already gotten quite a lot of union support," he said. 

The other mission Sweeney will be focused on - reducing carbon emissions - is more complicated as it entails the science of climate change and the calculus of politics and social change in each country, but especially in the United States. Sweeney said the voluntary emission targets currently being proposed are "inadequate" to avoid climate catastrophe, according to the scientific data. In order to have an "adequate" agreement, he said, public control and democratization of energy, transportation, food and other systems would have to be "expanded dramatically." "The trade union movement needs a bolder narrative. We support the science and must take the solutions more seriously. And that means a bolder agenda," he said. Nobel-Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has said President Obama's policies on climate change and the environment are shaping up to be a "major legacy" for Obama. But Sweeney pointed to the negative impact of the vociferous right wing in the U.S. that denies the existence of climate change and acts in Congress on behalf of Big Oil and Big Coal. It has limited what the White House has been able to do on the issue. Because of this, he said, he gives the Obama administration only a "B" or "B minus."

"The answer to the deniers and the right wing is not Obama's climate policy. The answer is a truthful assessment of U.S. emission trends and what's really happening," Sweeney said. If methane emissions were accurately reported, emissions would not look good at all, he said. 

When the president says the United States is "reducing emissions more than any other country ... It's simply not true," Sweeney said. The United States emits more carbon per capita than any other country except Canada. 

Regardless of the frustrations, Sweeney sees a way forward in raising the stakes and pressing for systemic change. "The problem is not emissions, the problem is capitalism," he said. But he cautions, that doesn't mean the way forward is to declare, "It's capitalism, stupid, and we've got to get rid of capitalism first, and then we'll take care of the climate issue."

 On the contrary, Sweeney said, "The climate issue is like every other issue, it's very important to working people, poor people, people around the world. It threatens their food, their water, their lives. Extending the political and economic influence of workers is crucial to solving the climate crisis. If workers extend their control and power over politics and economic decision-making, I very much doubt, if it goes to the full process and conclusion, that what's left standing would be called capitalism."

"But I've been wrong on many things in the past," he said. "Maybe we can be surprised with what history comes up with." In any case, he concluded, we may see "an eco-cidal scenario unless we do something about it." 

People's World will be on the scene in Paris to cover the United Nations historic climate change summit, and we want to bring you with us. You can join our growing team of supporters with your donation and bring us to a new level of recognition and influence.

It’s in our Hands... (On the Direction of the CPUSA)

Basis for summarized Remarks before the 

National Committee Meeting of CPUSA

Chicago Illinois • November 14th 2015

It’s in our Hands….

By Jarvis TynerMember of the National Committee, CPUSA

I am deeply concerned.

I come before you today with a heart full of a love for our party and all comrades. Because I love our party I have  deep concerns about the current political and organizational direction we are headed in. 

We are at a critical moment in our history.  This is a time when an open socialist can run for the highest office in the land and win the support not of thousands but of millions.   There is also a good fighting chance that our nation may elect its first Liberal Democratic woman President.  At the same time, the extreme right is using this election to make a big push to restore its momentum, to win total political dominance put their disastrous program fully in place.  After the new level of mass rejection they have faced during the Obama era they are pushing for new decades of extreme right wing rule. 

Donald Trump the extreme right wing demagogue is running hard on the anti immigrant, racist, pro war, pro corporate, anti women policies.  As the GOP front-runner he poses a grave threat to democracy.  Ben Carson’s policies are just as destructive.     The fact that these two are leading the Republican wolf pack is not a sign of strength it is a sign of the political and moral bankruptcy of that party. 

Fortunately, there is a multi racial labor and people’s progressive electoral coalition that defeated them in 2008 and 2012.  If inspired, organized and united they can be defeated again.  Our party’s role is very important and in many areas we are recognized and welcomed as a active part of that winning coalition.  

My Concerns…

The idea being pushed in our ranks that our Party faces an “existential crisis”, does not inspire but demoralizes comrades and I believe is a wrong assessment.   It’s not accurate and it promotes the false view in my opinion that we are weak, ineffective even moribund.  That is not the experience in NY District and in other districts as well.  Many of our allies and coalition partners do not agree with that assessment either and wish the party well.    If that assessment is adopted as a starting point in our work it can become a self-fulfilling disaster for our Party. 

I have in my hands 30 recruitment cards from the NYC area which I believe are 30 good reasons to reject that assessment.  These are people who have joined since 2013 from our mass work.  It does not include our internet joiners and new members in the upstate areas. 

Just last week in our district, Estevan our party organizer and our rep on the planning Committee of the food workers action, on Tuesday introduced the political approach and basic ideas that helped forge the alliance of the low wage workers movement and the Black Lives Matter movement.  We also took many timely practical steps to realize that alliance.  Our prestige in both movements has gone way up.   Because of that kind of work, Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr agreed to be an honoree at our Better World Awards luncheon along with Amina Baraka, Ricky Eisenberg, Ava Farkus, new Director of Met Council on Housing and Jose Sanchez a leader of the NY Fast Food forward movement. 

Some of you may have seen the picture of Estevan in the NY Daily News.  He was right up front at the Fast Food Workers demo in NY.  And we had a full house at the “Better World Awards Luncheon.  It was a beautiful event. 

A Party of Action

To be effective we communists must not only talk the talk, we must also walk the walk.  
If it is our financial situation that threatens our existence,  let’s discuss it.  Lets develop a plan. It certainly does not call for a “panic move” like selling our NY building.  Our building is the largest source of income we have and the most solid foundation for our future financial stability.   If we sell the building, a potentially grave crisis will exist in our future. 

I understand that we have a problem of age and energy among our most committed and experienced members.  I am for positive advances in the work of the party but we should not dismantle the political and organizational essence of our party because some of our veterans  are demoralized or just tired.  I understand that but  like a lot of us I know this Party can attract more youth and can be built and we are doing it.  

I do not believe we are on our last leg as a Party...

In my view, that the estimate is not helping us move forward.  It is helping to rationalize major political and organizational retrenchments of our Party when this is a time when a revitalized and growing CPUSA is needed.

 But, let me say this, even if we were facing the projected collapse of our Party I believe we must not give up and not abandon longstanding Party norms, but mobilize our membership and supporters and fight our way out of it just as this Party has done numerous times for over 96 years.   

2. I am for a powerful on-line presence going back to Gus Hall’s information Super Highway concept back in the 1980’s.  But that has never meant that we didn’t need an active and well organized, functioning party organization as well.   

3. I am for the new initiative to build a communist students organization.  But why should it mean we have to liquidate the organization of the YCL among non-college youth.  If a district wants to build the YCL why can’t it?  By the way, in my opinion, that is a decision that should have been made at the 30th Convention but it was not.   The same with the dropping Leninism which was pushed as a tactical change (Americanize our basic language) but in life, as the youth proposal shows it was a rejection of the Leninist concept of the organizational independence of the youth league.  

Personally I quote all kinds of US historic and current heroic figures but I see no contradiction in also quoting Lenin and calling myself a Marxist-Leninist.

4.  I am for finding the forms to aggressively organize the over 2,000 at large Internet members but I am also for the restoration of Party organizational norms.  So we cannot just talk that talk but “Walk that Walk” a lot better.  We are a party of action and we need organized clubs, districts and commissions.  We need dues collection and well-organized fund drives.  We need recruiting drives and public meetings all across the country. 

To do what needs to be done, we need to work towards the restoration of functioning organizational collectives in the Party on all levels.   
If we cannot find a National Organizational Secretary today finding one and building a collective should nevertheless be on the Party’s “wish list” as something we work for.

And why can’t we have a regular modest organizational newsletter that would report on the good work of the party across the country? 

5. I am for the on-line People’s World that is considered a movement newspaper but at the same time why can’t it also be the newspaper of the Communist Party?  The current experience with the PW in the labor movement, and with the “Better world Awards Luncheons” shows that this can be done and our core constituencies will support us. We need a fighting Party with a mass paper, not a mass newspaper with a weak or worse no Party… That is if we are to remain a revolutionary working class Party….

When you couple these proposals with the push to change the name of the party (which must be a convention decision also)  I ask, have we concluded that we cannot build the Communist Party USA today? And again, is this the conclusion of a group of people who are tired? Certainly it is not a conclusion we have come to together.

A lot of comrades feel that we are backing into a phased liquidation of this great party of ours.  Are we giving up the leading role of the working class and industrial concentration and the centrality of fight against racism?  Our efforts at recruitment among people of color and workers might suggest perhaps we are.  I hope I am wrong on this but it looks to me like some leading comrades have given up on the party having a public face and feel that we have to hide the party. If that is true, it is the biggest problem we face. 

I think if we are going to have a presence at demos, county fairs, union events and peace and environment conferences, street fairs and door to door concentration, we need well written mass pamphlets and literature.  And why can’t we work to have a hard copy of the PW and PA once or twice a year to start.  

I believe we must not let what we can’t do stop us from doing what we can do.  There is a lot we can do.  We need honest discussions on all these matters.
 In conclusion, in 3 years our party will celebrate our 100th Birthday.  This is a big occasion and we must make it a big deal.  Every September up to then we should be a celebration ending with our Centennial in 2019. 

We had a celebration of our 96th in our district and over 60 people came and we recruited 5 members.  

Finally, on our legacy. 

We should not allow the basic character of our party to be defined by our mistakes shortcomings, rather then by our hard work, and tenacity and courage that over came the most vicious, coordinated unrelenting effort by the most powerful imperialist class in the world to destroy us.  Under those conditions we fought back and scored victories.  

Today we are the only political party in the US that thinks its necessary to do a public mea culpa to be credible.  It is US capitalist ruling class that owes the people here and around the world including our Party specifically an apology for its crimes.   

Our Party’s courage and sacrifices produced the greatest victories of our class and people.  Bill Foster, Gus, Winny, Elizabeth, Hy, Ben, Ethel, Julius, Betty, Irving, Claudia, William Burghardt, Robeson, Gene Dennis and Angela Davis; all of the great comrades and more went to jail, or where exiled and persecuted to legalize this party and advance the fight for democracy.  They sacrificed much so that the people’s movement and our party could survive and continue its great contribution.  They did it so that we US Communists today wouldn’t have to endure such attacks in the future.  

“Don’t give up the fight”

We are still here and still fighting.  This party has been and must continue to be a force for enormous good and progress.    

…It is in our hands.

Let me end by saying this.  I have no malice towards any comrade, whether they agree or disagree with me.  I am for Party unity.  I am motivated primarily by a concern for the long term survival, growth and well-being this party of ours.. as a revolutionary working class party.    

It’s in our hands…