From the November-December 2020 issue of News & Letters
ELECTION BATTLES, REACHING FOR THE FUTURE, AND THE PULL OF THE PAST
The N&L web article “Trump re-election battles concentrate system’s myriad crises” is an important contribution to the immense flood of articles and opinion pieces surrounding this election. It’s a revolutionary analysis of what is at stake in the present moment that reaches far beyond Trump vs. Biden. One of the subheads catches what we are facing: “Divisions within Classes: Fascism vs. Return to Normal vs. Reach for the Future.” We cannot just return to capitalism with its classism, racism and sexism that has been present long before Trumpism. The article shows that against the so-called “normal,” a “reaching for the future” can be seen in the mass protests we have participated in against racism, the mobilization marches of women against sexism, and the labor protests taking place. What remains the great challenge is that such a freedom-filled future cannot concretely come into being without working out an emancipatory philosophic view as a unifying pole of attraction for the diverse social movements and individuals who do not want a mere return to the old.
On Nov. 7, we heard the news call the Pennsylvania race for Biden. Earlier that morning, I had woken to the news that the Supreme Court had given Pennsylvania an order to keep counting absentee ballots that arrived in the mail between Nov. 4-6 but to keep them under separate custody from all the other ballots. However, the dissenters had said the Court may revisit the matter after the election. Nobody knew if the late deciders who waited to mail in their ballot until right up to election day would swing heavily to Biden or to Trump. To me, the glaring reality is that the conservative justices of the Supreme Court were ready to hand the election to Trump either way—if they could. Only the massive outpouring of voters against Trump in enough other states would guarantee that they couldn’t.
Although I am glad that Trump was defeated in the election, I believe Biden won because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Trump’s inadequate, criminal response to it. With no COVID, the economy would have been humming along, and even with all his antics, I think Trump would have won.
Former postal worker
Battle Creek, Mich.
SABOTAGE OF THE POST OFFICE
I have not received mail sent to me over two weeks ago. It’s probably wandering around holding hands with my absentee ballot, which never arrived. I voted early before time ran out. Clearly, Trump’s Postmaster General saboteur, Louis DeJoy, is still targeting Wayne County, Michigan, where the very Democratic Black city of Detroit is. Such disgusting racism!
FOOD RECYCLING WORKERS STRIKE
Workers from food recycling plant ReConserve in Hodgkins, Ill., near Chicago, went on strike Nov. 2. In addition to dangerous conditions and disrespect from management, workers have not received a raise in three years. They have not stopped working during the pandemic—in fact their workload has increased. Amidst national fear-mongering and attempts to divide communities, the Latino, Black, and White workers from ReConserve have remained united. After learning their rights and organizing a workplace committee, workers voted for union representation with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881 in April 2019. Since then, they have been fighting for their first contract. Hector Lopez, ReConserve worker and Arise board member, said, “I’ve worked for ReConserve for 21 years, and they pay the lowest wages in this corridor. We are asking for higher wages, but the company isn’t taking us seriously. In order to win better wages and conditions, we are all united to say we are going on strike!”
ANTI-LABOR STATUE DOWNED
The statue of Pete Wilson, former mayor of San Diego and governor of California, was finally taken down in his political hometown. My father would have approved. For many years he worked as an electronic technician for the city of San Diego, including while Wilson was mayor. He often criticized Wilson for his terrible treatment of the city workers, always attacking wages and benefits. In addition, of course, he was strongly opposed to Wilson’s reactionary moves as governor, like pushing anti-immigrant Proposition 187.
OIL AND BIDEN
Oil industry lobbyists are quite happy about the election. They are sure they can “work with” (lobby) the Biden administration, and they are trying to make sure the Senate stays in Republican hands, which means, most importantly to them, no Green New Deal.
COVID-19: WHERE’S THE VISION?
One day I was working in downtown Camden, N.J., sitting at the lunch counter at Woolworth’s and I looked out the window at City Hall. The inscription, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” was chiseled into the top. Looking around at the run-down neighborhood, and the crowds of the “halt and the lame” and other destitute people, it was like I was looking at a photo, and the inscription was the caption. I apologize for a biblical reference. I am not trying to convert anybody, but with 250,000 Americans dead from COVID, it still applies today, 40 years later.
RACISM AND FASCISM
I was 18, in the army in Bavaria, Germany, in World War II. We found a propaganda office. There was a “cartoon” of a snake labelled “the Jews” raping a woman labelled “Germany.” Today, just substitute Black people for the Jews in far-Right propaganda. Trump’s acceptance speech made me think of Adolf Hitler. We owe so much to the Black athletes. They constitute an actual subject, insisting on asserting their culture and understanding of the world.
“Cops protect fascists” (Sept.-Oct. 2020 N&L) was a good article about the “Proud Boys” in Kalamazoo. One upshot of that is that the police chief resigned. Since Trump’s defeat, at least some of the “darkness” seems to have dissipated, and we celebrate this, although the idiot still refuses to concede. Even though the present crisis has passed, danger still lurks. Forewarned is forearmed. My irreverent humor reflects the deadly seriousness of the work you have undertaken. It helps to keep one’s sense of humor when you are beset by forces beyond your own control, to at least keep yourself on an even keel.
POLISH WOMEN’S REVOLUTIONARY MOMENT
I’ve been following the Polish women’s demonstrations (see “Polish women’s revolutionary moment,” Nov.-Dec. 2020 N&L) and I am irritated that in every story reporters keep using the phrase “fetal defect” when talking about what the new hideous law makes illegal. It’s like they think women are aborting because the fetus has two webbed toes or something else benign. A fetus isn’t a product that can be “defective” and “Karen” is going straight to the manager to get a refund. On the other hand, anti-abortion fanatics have turned women into monsters who “discriminate against” people with disabilities when they abort fetuses with Down Syndrome or other serious disabilities, including fatal ones. Obviously, a fetus isn’t a person and can’t be discriminated against. And, obviously it is pregnant women who are being discriminated against when they are denied abortion for any reason. And, obviously, it is Republicans—and the PiS in Poland—who do nothing to help actual, living people with disabilities or their families. Instead they abandon them and fight against anything that will help that living child and family—healthcare, caregiver support, including childcare, financial assistance, mental health aid, laws that protect against discrimination, or public schools that meet those students’ need.
On “Polish women’s revolutionary moment,” without the revolution of the working class of men and women, no social-human problem can be solved! Without violent revolution, the withering away of the state, the liberation of society is impossible, and ultimately the destruction and non-existence of society is inevitable. Women’s liberation is generally possible only when the proletarian communist revolution has won. The victory of the communist revolution is not possible without the participation of the mass of working-class women. Our world can be destroyed without a world revolution—a continuous Marxist revolution! The capitalist system has insurmountable contradictions, and with each passing day the intensity of its inherent contradictions increases, and also according to the law of revolutionary dialectic-materialist dialectic, everything that is born dies one day. And the constant changes mark its death!
The Left, since the beginning of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the mid-1960s, has been lecturing women that workers make the revolution and women have to wait for their liberation until after. And yet, revolution after revolution have failed women and men too, for that matter. Nowhere are women free, only in some places are they better off than other places.
Marxist-Humanists discern that Karl Marx had a multilinear approach to revolution, seeing that it could come from many directions and subjects of revolt—including women. That is what we are seeing today in Poland—a reach for a new human society. Just as it will take workers—women and men—to destroy capitalism, so it will take women to destroy sexism/misogyny. History has shown us that for revolution to succeed, it must be total from the start.
NEWS & LETTERS IS BACK IN PRINT!
I am writing regarding how the publishing is going on. Are you still printing any new newspapers? I do understand the COVID-19 mess forces people and businesses, even corporations, to work from home. Yet I just miss reading News & Letters.
Editor’s note: Thanks to our many readers who inquired about when N&L will be back in print. Because of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, we in News and Letters Committees decided that, for the safety of those who put out the paper edition of N&L, we would suspend the print edition. We sent a letter about this to all our subscribers but could not be sure that prisoncrats would deliver it. This is not a decision that we made lightly and we are painfully aware that it impacted our substantial number of prisoner subscribers the most, since few could access our website. This lasted from May to October and was complicated by a fire in the building where our office is located. But we have found a way to get back into print!
Never was there a greater need for a Marxist-Humanist newspaper. The very pandemic that caused us to publish three issues only online also reveals the need for a philosophy of liberation that shows the meaning of events and challenges at a time when capitalism is willing to sacrifice human beings for an economy that only makes the rich richer while impoverishing the great mass of humanity. From our beginning in 1955, we have never separated voices of revolt from the philosophy of revolution Raya Dunayevskaya created as Marxist-Humanism. The “voices from below”—from Black Lives Matter to women’s liberationists to rank-and-file working people and youth, and more—can be seen in the pages of N&L.
To our prisoner subscribers, we know how important N&L is to you as you tell us so often in the many letters you send us. You are also precious to us and inspire us to work to keep N&L in print so that it can breach the prison walls and be available to you. As always, any prisoner who is a current subscriber and who is released from prison can receive a free one-year subscription just by sending us their new address.
We will also extend all subscriptions by three issues.
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