The need for new beginnings in thought and in action

April 25, 2016

From the May-June 2016 issue of News & Letters

Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives, 2016-2017
The need for new beginnings in thought and in action

Why we print the Draft Perspectives in News & Letters

In 1975 News and Letters Committees printed its Draft Perspectives Thesis in News & Letters for the first time. The organization has continued the practice ever since. What follows is the 1975 explanation of why we decided to take such action and why we continue to do so:

With this special issue News and Letters Committees are breaking totally new ground for the Marxist movement. Publishing the Draft Perspectives Thesis for our coming national gathering directly in the pages of our paper is unprecedented, not only for all other organizations, but even for our own. We do it because our age is in such total crisis, facing a choice between absolute terror or absolute freedom, that a revolutionary organization can no longer allow any separation between theory and practice, philosophy and revolution, workers and intellectuals, “inside” and “outside.” We ask you to join in the discussion of these Perspectives with us. We are not presenting any “pat answers” to the question, “Where Do We Go From Here?” We are raising the questions that demand answers—and we ask you to help us in working them out.

*    *    *


I.    Discontent, revolt and reaction in the U.S.
II.   The worldwide war against women
III.  Chinese labor in revolt
IV.  Counter-revolution and revolution in the Middle East and North Africa
V.   Toward organizational new beginnings


The great need for new beginnings is clear from the disintegrative tendencies that world capitalism is displaying at this moment—ecologically, economically, politically. Massive revolts continue to reach for new beginnings but remain incomplete and face counter-revolutionary onslaught on many fronts.

What has happened in the five years since the Arab Spring opened a new worldwide page of freedom? It helped unleash more revolts from West Africa to Europe to the U.S., yet its plight weighs like a nightmare on the minds of humanity. Counter-revolution is exacting a deadly toll, from Syria’s nearly half a million slaughtered under the direction of Bashar al-Assad, to the massacres and mass imprisonments in Egypt over which Abdel Fattah el-Sisi presides, to the chaotic fighting by militias in Libya and Yemen. Rape and enslavement of women are rising as weapons of war from Iraq to South Sudan.

Hospital in Taiz, Yemen, Photo by Yemeni activist for News & Letters.

Hospital in Taiz, Yemen. Photo by Yemeni activist for News & Letters.

Counter-revolution is coming not only from within each country but from without, as in the U.S.-aided Saudi bombing in Yemen, in the Russian and Iranian bombing and ground assaults in Syria, and in U.S. betrayals of the revolts. The media too play a role when they paint the fighting as a contest essentially between Islamists like ISIS and Al Qaeda and the old repressive establishments, or as if the only important battle is U.S.-Russia vs. ISIS. They systematically hide the liberatory content of mass struggles and the ideas expressed in those struggles, undermining the solidarity that ordinary people feel for their counterparts suffering the brunt of repression. The indispensability of philosophy is shown negatively in this attempt to bury ideas of and struggles for freedom under the ruling ideology—just at the time when the contradictions of these revolutionary uprisings cry out the need for the philosophy of revolution in permanence.

…Continued in Part I. Discontent, revolt and reaction in the U.S.

One thought on “The need for new beginnings in thought and in action

  1. Detroit, Mich.—On July 1 a small group held a protest outside the Mexican Consulate in solidarity with the ongoing protests in Oaxaca, and in support of murdered teachers, their families, their students, and all workers in Mexico resisting repression. (See “Police kill defiant teachers in Oaxaca,” July-August 2016 News & Letters, p. 3 and Praxis en América Latina Suplemento #3: “La CNTE: un nuevo momento de la protesta en México” Junio 2016.) We held a large banner which read “Ayotzinapa: Mi barrio-su barrio” (my community –your community) and bore the place names of Oaxaca and Ferguson.
    Passersby, learning of the killings, quickly connected the destruction of public education in Detroit with the events in Oaxaca. Only one representative was allowed, escorted by building security, to speak to Consular staff on an upper floor. She reported that she felt empowered to speak by the presence of the group outside. But I was sorry to hear her say that she told the officials “we are not here to cause trouble,” but had not added that their bosses in Mexico were the real troublemakers.
    News and Letters Committees was the only Left group present. Along with News & Letters, thanks to the Internet we were able to share Praxis en América Latina Suplemento #3: “La CNTE: un nuevo momento de la protesta en México” Junio 2016, which was much appreciated by Spanish speaking participants.
    Former Teacher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *