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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 year.

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 Wage Capitalism.”

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 Coalition organizer.

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 San Francisco.

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 Internationale.

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 workers.org.

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.