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…


Tuesday, July 14, 2015


ALBANY LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDSTime to Unite the People’s Forces

Statement by the New York District, Communist Party USA

The challenge now is to unite the various people’s forces into a vibrant working class-led coalition and to actively participate in the legislative and electoral process around a number of key issues, such as mass incarceration and police brutality, the DREAM Act, quality public education, the enactment of a $15 an hour minimum wage, affordable housing, and an expansion of labor rights. The strength of a united, militant, and well-organized movement shook Albany and forced a conservative retreat on a number of issues. That in itself must be seen as a people’s victory. 
The Communist Party of New York is in full accord with and active in these broad people’s movements.   

Raising the Minimum Wage - Governor Cuomo won reelection in part based upon a “good faith” commitment both to raise New York’s $8.75 an hour minimum wage and to allow high-cost cities to set wages that reflect local costs of living. However the governor’s eventual proposal of $10.50 an hour statewide and $11.50 an hour in New York City fell well short of a living wage. The governor backed down in the face of Wall Street and its Senate Republicans whose majority he helped ensure, and no action on the minimum wage was taken. While the broad public movement of fast-food workers, other low-wage workers and allies forced the governor to request a wage board for fast-food workers, his lack of leadership during the past term has left millions of working families in poverty.

Rent Regulations - The rent regulation laws, which expired on June 15, were extended for four years. The rent laws govern rents of some 1 million apartments in New York City and its suburbs. The renewal slightly increased the threshold rent, from $2,500 to $2,700 a month. The threshold is indexed to local Rent Guideline Board (RGB) increases. Vacated apartments reaching that limit can be deregulated. 
The tenants’ movement wanted vacancy deregulation and other tools used to gut the rent regulated stock eliminated altogether but the powerful real estate/Wall Street forces lobbied to further weaken regulations. While the law that finally passed represents a stalemate, a million residencies continue to be threatened. Without the militant organized tenants’ campaign, there is every indication that the rent regulation laws would have been gutted. 

Tax Abatements for Developers - The 421-a program, which grants large tax abatements for real estate developers, was renewed again. The tax abatement is designed to incentivize developers to build more affordable housing, but has not resulted in significant affordable unit construction and costs the city over a billion dollars in lost revenue each year. As amended the law raised the “affordability” requirement from 20% to 25-30% of units in new construction for developers to qualify.  In the end, the new law basically retains the provisions of the old law, with some major anti-tenant changes: the 25-year tax abatement was extended for another 10 years, making it a 35-year tax break; the definition of “affordable” was increased from those making 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) to include those making up to 130% of the AMI; and finally developers and representatives of state construction unions must, within six months, negotiate an agreement regarding wages on 421-a projects. If no agreement is reached, the entire program will be repealed.
The tenants’ movement had wanted to stop the million-dollar giveaways to developers and instead have the city invest its increased tax revenues to build affordable housing. Because the people’s progressive forces could not find common ground on some elements of their opposition to the tax abatements, we could not win more. 
Mayoral Control of New York City Board of Education - When a progressive-leaning slate assumed the reins of city government, control of education became a contentious issue between Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio. Instead of granting the mayor extended control of the Board of Education, as de Blasio had sought, the law passed in Albany only provides for one year of control. This limits the mayor’s power to enact the people’s agenda in public schools while expanding that of for-profit charter schools. The corporate attack on public education continues. 

Education Tax Credit - Governor Cuomo had initially proposed a $150 million tax credit to individuals and corporations who finance scholarships and tuition fees. Faced with mounting opposition to that giveaway while public education is shortchanged, Cuomo backed off. The legislature nevertheless provided $250 million in new public funding for private education to finance programs mandated by the state.     
Police Accountability - The struggle to hold law enforcement accountable to the communities it serves continues. Bills granting individuals the “right to know” by whom and why they are stopped during a police encounter and for a special prosecutor in police-involved shootings were supported by the NYS Assembly. Gov. Cuomo promised to support these initiatives but reneged during negotiations. In response to pressure from the movement for police accountability Gov. Cuomo has used executive power to appoint New York Attorney General as special prosecutor. This is a temporary measure and legislative action is necessary to make the reform permanent.
Criminal Justice - Some 30,000 adolescents are confined as adults in New York State prisons and are extremely vulnerable, as was dramatically shown by the death of Kahlif Browder who languished for three years on Rikers Island. The City Council and State Assembly passed bills to “raise the age” and leave North Carolina as the only state to incarcerate children with adults. Opposition from Senate Republicans together with inaction by Gov. Cuomo caused this bill to fall short of legislation.

In the session just ended, the legislature failed to enact a number of vital bills, including, in particular, the provision of any increase in statewide and local minimum wages, removal of children from adult prisons and the adoption of tuition assistance to undocumented students.

In evaluating the gains and losses for the people of New York State in the 2015 legislative session, we should take into account the strength of the opposing constituencies. 
The majority of people living in the state of New York are working class while racially and nationally oppressed people are the fastest growing sector. The people of New York are electing to office more candidates who reflect this. Seeing the writing on the wall, the real estate/Wall Street forces were desperate for the Legislature to gut rent regulations, as well as to keep tax breaks and subsidies for themselves and to continue to shortchange public education. The warnings posted on that wall:

The pushback against right-wing policies, especially from the financial and real estate industries, over the nation’s largest city by the 2013 election of a new progressive-leaning New York City government.
A serious challenge to the vacillating Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary from Zephyr Teachout, independent progressive and anti-monopoly candidate.
A strong showing by Working Families Party candidates in November 2014 including strong vote totals in upstate races and the recent election to the Assembly of Diana Richardson in Brooklyn. 
Sheldon Silver’s loss of the Assembly speakership following his indictment for corruption and the resulting increased importance of progressive forces in that chamber.
Removal of Republican Dean Skelos from his position as majority leader of the State Senate, weakening the control his party holds in that chamber. 
Dr. Martin Luther King said “the moral arc of history is long but bends towards justice”. The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) has a 95 year history of bending that arc.  The struggle continues and the New York District, CPUSA is committed to being an active and unifying force in it.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Presupuesto Estatal para Inmigrantes en NY

por Sara Ladino Cano

En la temporada en que el gobierno del estado de Nueva York toma decisivas resoluciones

sobre el presupuesto estatal, organizaciones como Se Hace Camino Nueva York (MRNY,

por sus siglas en inglés) cuestionan las decisiones llevadas a cabo en la capital. Tanto

jóvenes como adultos demandan mejores determinaciones a nivel gubernamental.

La organización Se Hace Camino Nueva York ha demandado al gobierno un presupuesto

para inmigrantes en Nueva York. Donde no menos del veintitrés por ciento de la población

que normalmente es olvidada tendría un espacio que ocupar en el presupuesto. Las

propuestas incluidas en el presupuesto figuran temas tan importantes como la educación,

trabajo, y salud. El área de educación contiene el Acta del Sueño (DREAM Act), un asunto

que fue debatido y llevado a voto el año pasado en la capital. Sin embargo, se ha

transmitido en noticias locales que esta cuestión ha sido excluida del presupuesto estatal.

Miembros del grupo de jóvenes de Se Hace Camino Nueva York han respondido

disgustados a estas aclamaciones “Esta noticia rompe mi corazón. Justo después de la

semana de Somos el Futuro, cuando todo Albany estuvo hablando sobre pasar el Acta del

Sueño (DREAM Act), el gobernador publicó un op-ed en New York Post comprometiéndose

a pasarlo. Ahora, el mismo día, entendemos que él está retirando el Acta del Sueño del

presupuesto. La noticia de hoy me hace pensar que el gobernador sólo nos hace promesas

vacías, y no está realmente defendiendo nuestros sueños. Pero no nos detendremos –

vamos a seguir presionando al gobernador y a sus senadores para asegurarnos de que el

Acta del Sueño en Nueva York se haga realidad este año.” Así como los sueños

destrozados de muchos jóvenes, las necesidades y derechos de muchos otros inmigrantes

están siendo igualmente olvidados, es por esto que SHCNY solicita al gobierno un

presupuesto que incluya toda la población de Nueva York. Los trabajadores han sido

incorporados al presupuesto para inmigrantes, en éste se cubren las necesidades en el

trabajo como el aumento del saldo mínimo a 15 dólares la hora. Esta propuesta no es sólo

demandada por SHCNY, ni es una necesidad exclusiva de los inmigrantes, esta propuesta

ha sido demandada por diferentes conjuntos de la población Neoyorquina y es una

necesidad de gran importancia. Si el gobernador decide derrumbar esta propuesta, no serán

los sueños de tantos inmigrantes que serán destrozados la única consecuencia sino también

el quebrantamiento de las esperanzas de millones de familias. En el área de salud, una

materia no de necesidad sino de derecho, el presupuesto de inmigrantes en Nueva York

determina la urgencia en asegurar un sistema de salud comprensible para todos los

inmigrantes. Es de suma importancia reconocer esta significativa instancia, el derecho a la

salud es imprescindible e inalienable, no puede pasar por alto la relevancia que significa

incorporar el tema de salud a inmigrantes en el presupuesto estatal.

“El acta de sueño (DREAM Act) es una legislación que le provee las herramientas a

jóvenes indocumentados para poder realizar sus sueños educativos e igualmente beneficiar

al estado de Nueva York con un grupo de jóvenes graduados talentosos que llevarán a NY

a un nivel más alto en tecnología, arte, ciencia, escritura, entre otras carreras. Al pasar

esta legislación el estado estaría invirtiendo en un futuro más progresivo que fomenta la

educación sin barreras y que al mismo tiempo obtendrá beneficios económicos por medios

de taxes en los cuales una persona graduada de la universal provee más dinero por taxes

que una persona graduada de la preparatoria. Pasar esta legislación va a motivar a

muchos más jóvenes indocumentados que están en la escuela a terminar su educación y a

las personas que han tenido que dejar de estudiar por condiciones y experiencias únicas, el

acta del sueño los podría motivar para retomar su educación y obtener un mejor futuro. Se

dice que 9 de cada 10 latinos prioriza educación pero solamente 42% continúan

estudiando porque barreras económicas, al pasar esta ley, se estaría balanceando esta

barrera.” La opinión de activistas como Mateo Tabares, líder y organizador en la SHCNY

del grupo de jóvenes, no es normalmente bien atendida por las cúpulas del gobierno

Estadounidense. Como es normal en países como Estados Unidos, donde prevalecen las

ganancias y el beneficio de pocos, la opinión pública es manipulada y controlada por

gobiernos como el que ahora gobierna en el estado de Nueva York. En ocasiones como las

que ahora viven los inmigrantes estadounidenses de todas las edades, y no solo ahora sino

desde hace varias décadas atrás, criticismo nace en las comunidades más vulneradas y de

allí mismo se construye conciencia social. Es entonces cuando las poblaciones más

desfavorecidas se encaminan hacia un cambio social demandando a su gobierno por una

vida digna con justicia social; lo cual tendría que ser demandado al Estado como una

responsabilidad social que este mismo debería de asumir.

Minimum Wage March: NYC FIGHT FOR $15 In Pictures

This is a section from Tyko's Wassup this Week blog posted April 29th 2015. Link to complete Minimum Wage March: NYC FIGHT FOR $15 In Pictures 

America always has had a troubled relationship to the Communist Party, particularly after the onset of the Cold War.  Nevertheless, the Communist Party USA, which was established in 1919, played a not insignificant role during its first twenty years in the expansion of the American middle class. The Communist Party was a major actor in the founding of the first industrial unions which succeeded in raising wages for all workers;  it was a major defender of the civil rights of black Americans;  it opposed racism and pushed for integration in the workplace and in the community; and it was among the first organizations to push for women's equality and what today would be called "comparable worth" in the workplace.

However, after the late 1940s, a form of virulent anti-Communism emerged in America, characterized by the paranoid, demagogic and reckless Joseph McCarthy. From this time forward, words like "communism" and "socialism" would become interchangeable and synonymous with something "anti-American."  Americans of a wide range of political persuasion found it difficult to simply use these terms in any neutral way.

Even today, we encounter the distortion of political discourse begun by Joseph McCarthy in regard to words like "communism" and "socialism."   Take Aaron Klein's 2010 book on Obama, The Manchurian President: Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists.  Take the several examples of anti-Communist political rhetoric from a 2013 article by Marc Brodine.   Take Elspeth Reeve's 2013 article in The Wire on Ted Cruz (who I think sounds like McCarthy reborn), "Ted Cruz Sees Communists." 

Today's Communist Party USA is based in New York City, and its presence can be seen at most every social and political demonstration. Yet, in past blog posts in which I have covered demonstrations, I was conscious of a reluctance to focus on them. Such was the effectiveness of seventy years of conservative political demagoguery and its abuse of words like "socialism" and "communism."  Even I, a liberal and progressive, felt cowed and chose to avoid "conflict."

So in this, my extended commentary below my photograph of the flag of the New York State Communist Party, I begin to make amends.  The Communists belong to us and with us as much as anybody else.  I invite you to open this link to the Party's Constitution and read its Preamble. With the exception of our most rigid Republicans and conservatives, few could argue with what it says.  I conclude with the opening sentence of its final paragraph: "Our organizational practices are based on democracy, equality, unity of action and transparency."