National conference says
Down with capitalism, fight for world socialism
Published Nov 17, 2010 5:19 PM
Some 300 Party members, friends and allies representing many important
struggles at home and abroad attended the annual Workers World Party national
conference Nov. 13-14. They came from cities where Party branches are located
and other parts of the country. Some revolutionaries traveled to the conference
from as far away as Canada and India. The very multinational crowd included
many young people.
The conference boldly called to the broader movement with the theme of
“Abolish Capitalism, Fight for a Socialist Future.” Conference
plenary sessions, breakout groups and open mike sessions focused on the growing
epidemic of unemployment, cutbacks, war and racism in the current phase of this
unprecedented global capitalist economic crisis, which is approaching its third
Many of the talks exposed that this current crisis has proven that capitalism,
an economic system based on making profits, is incapable of meeting the needs
of the people and that socialism is the only solution to meeting human needs
and saving the planet.
WW photos: G. Dunkel
Participants joined three workshops: student and youth organizing; community
and labor outreach; and Workers World newspaper.
The opening plenary session examined the recent bourgeois midterm elections,
the capitalist crisis, a defense of Marxism and a call for socialist unity
among the left. The panel included three members of the WWP secretariat: Teresa
Gutierrez, Larry Holmes and Fred Goldstein. Gutierrez is a co-coordinator of
the May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights. Holmes is a leader of the
Bail Out the People Movement. Goldstein is the author of the book, “Low
Excerpts from the first plenary session talks appear in this, the Nov. 25 issue
of Workers World; other contributions will appear in future issues of WW.
Also speaking in this panel were two leaders of Fight Imperialism, Stand
Together (FIST): Larry Hales and Elena Everett. Hales is a leading member of
WWP and a contributing editor of WW newspaper. Everett is a founding member of
the newest branch of WWP in Durham, N.C.
Crisis and resistance amongst workers, women, youth
The second plenary session included two panels. The first panel spoke
specifically to the impact of the capitalist crisis on African Americans,
women, young and aging workers, immigrants, union organizing in the South, the
environment, mass organizing and a call for a government-sponsored jobs program
for the unemployed.
The WWP leading members who spoke were Sharon Black, a health care worker,
United Food and Commercial Workers Union organizer and founding member of the
Baltimore All-Peoples Congress; Phebe Eckfeldt, a leader of the Boston
Women’s Fightback Network and union representative of AFSCME Local 3650
Harvard Union of Technical and Clerical Workers; John Parker from Los Angeles
and West Coast coordinator of the International Action Center; Dante Strobino
from Durham, N.C., Raleigh FIST organizer and field organizer for UE Local 150,
North Carolina Public Service Workers Union; Betsey Piette, from Philadelphia,
WW contributing editor; and Martha Grevatt, auto worker for 23 years in Ohio,
now based in Detroit. From Baltimore, Andre Powell, an activist in the lesbian,
gay, bi, trans and queer movement, chaired the panel.
The second panel focused on the fightback of youth and students and included
some of the most dynamic young members of WWP. The issues raised in this panel
were struggles involving the resegregation of public schools, women’s
rights, the Free Palestine campus movement, Latin America, and exploring myths
about imperialism and socialism.
The speakers were Ben Carroll and Scott Williams, FIST organizers from Durham
and Raleigh; Myia Campbell, Boston Women’s Fightback Network leader;
Megan Spencer, East Lansing, Mich., co-founder of the Coalition Against Sexual
Violence at Michigan State University; Caleb Maupin, Cleveland FIST organizer;
Lila Goldstein, Boston FIST member; and Mike Martinez, a Miami FIST and May Day
Building solidarity at home, abroad
The third plenary session focused on the struggle against imperialism and the
need for international workers solidarity including the right to
self-determination. Party speakers were Abayomi Azikiwe, a WW contributing
editor, editor of Pan-African News Wire and member of the Detroit Committee to
Stop FBI/Grand Jury Repression; Sara Flounders, WWP secretariat member and IAC
coordinator in New York; John Catalinotto, WW managing editor and WWP
representative to international meetings; Berta Joubert-Ceci from Philadelphia
and staff member of Workers World/Mundo Obrero; Dianne Mathiowetz, an IAC
organizer in Atlanta; and Steven Kirschbaum, founder of United Steelworkers
Local 8751 Boston School Bus Union and an organizer with the Committee to
Support Chuck Turner.
Joubert-Ceci paid tribute to Lolita Lebrón and Juan Mari Bras, heroic
leaders of the Puerto Rican independence struggle who died recently. Cheryl
LaBash, co-chair of the U.S.-Cuba Labor Exchange, paid tribute to the late Rev.
Lucius Walker of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, a longtime Cuba solidarity activist.
Lucy Pagoada, member of Honduran Resistancia-USA and the IAC Latin
America-Caribbean Solidarity Committee,, spoke on the ongoing resistance to the
2009 U.S.-supported rightwing coup in Honduras.
Mick Kelly from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization publicly thanked WWP on
behalf of himself and 13 other anti-war and socialist activists who were
victims of FBI raids in Midwest cities this past Sept. 24. In early October,
these activists refused to testify before a repressive grand jury hearing in
Chicago. Aaron Mercredi gave solidarity greetings from the Canada-based Fire
This Time Movement for Social Justice.
The plenary sessions on Sunday were devoted to why workers need a revolutionary
party. Party speakers included Deirdre Griswold, WWP founding member and WW
editor; LeiLani Dowell, WW managing editor, FIST leader and
lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer activist; David Sole, Detroit branch founding
member; Gloria Verdieu, San Diego Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and IAC
leader; Peter Gilbert, Durham and Raleigh FIST founder; Gavrielle Gemma, New
York organizer with the Bail Out the People Movement; and Judy Greenspan from
Larry Holmes gave the conference summation in which he called for a renewed
urgency to prioritize the need to build anti-capitalist and pro-socialist
unity. The conference ended with the singing of the communist anthem, The
Cultural performances were provided by The Last Internationale, a revolutionary
anarchist group, who sang “Workers of the World Unite,” along with
spoken word by Myia Campbell and Mike Martinez. Podcasts of plenary talks will
be posted at workers.tv. Read more than 30 conference solidarity greetings at
The writer, Monica Moorehead, WWP secretariat member and editor of
“Marxism, Reparations and the Black Freedom Struggle,” spoke in the
first panel of the second plenary session.
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