Western regional conference calls for revolutionary struggle, socialist unity
Published Sep 8, 2010 5:12 PM
Known in the region as “the people’s library,” the Southern
California Library of Los Angeles was the site of the first Western Regional
“Abolish Capitalism, Fight Injustice — Conference on
Socialism” of Workers World Party.
WW photos: Abayomi Azikiwe, Monica Moorehead, Bob McCubbin, Cheryl LaBash
With daylong attendance on Sept. 4 well surpassing 100, and standing-room-only
available for latecomers, the assemblage was notable for its diversity,
especially the presence of large numbers of people of color, youth, activists
and workers of many nationalities.
Along with many people from southern California, especially the Los Angeles
area, party representatives attended from the WWP chapters in San Francisco,
San Diego and Tucson, Ariz. Party members and supporters also came from San
Jose, Oakland and Orange County in California as well as from Seattle.
An open mike for questions and comments followed every plenary session.
Also notable was the participation in the conference of speakers representing
other organizations of struggle that agree with WWP’s recent call to the
movement for a regroupment for socialist unity. Kuusela Hilo of BAYAN USA
described the current plight and centuries-long struggle of Filipino workers
for national liberation; Ron Gochez of Unión del Barrio provided a
militant defense of the demand for the return of stolen Mexican lands; and Zahi
Damuni, co-founder of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, focused
on liberation for occupied Palestine.
Rosie Martinez, former vice president of Service Employees Local 660 (now Local
721), who is currently a leader of the union’s Latino Caucus, spoke of
the struggle to defend some of the most oppressed workers, especially women
workers in the health industries. She linked that struggle to the effort of
workers worldwide to defend themselves against attacks by some of the same
Celina Benitez from the Southern California Immigration Coalition called for a
day-in, day-out, full-time commitment to the struggle for full legalization of
all immigrant workers, in addition to focusing on important mobilization days
such as May 1.
Dave Welsh, a San Francisco Labor Council delegate representing the Letter
Carriers union, spoke on the need for a Works Progress Administration-type
federal jobs program for the 30 million presently unemployed and underemployed
people in this country. He urged that this demand be raised from the
rank-and-file at the projected Oct. 2 Washington, D.C., mobilization.
Carlos Mejiafrom the Honduran resistance gave a solidarity greeting.
Capitalist economic crisis, war at home
John Parker, a WWP National Committee member and Los Angeles branch organizer,
opened the conference with a tribute to the important work of all the
organizations present and a call for increased solidarity despite any political
differences. Such an effort is necessary, he suggested, as groundwork to the
building of unity in the struggle for socialism.
Parker went on to offer a brief analysis of how the historical pattern in which
workers in the imperialist countries have been more privileged than workers in
the superexploited countries is changing. There is a global
“leveling” underway. Going under the name of
“globalization,” the result is the growing impoverishment of
Parker raised the current condition of overproduction, the burgeoning
warehouses full of commodities for which there are no buyers. Under these
chronic conditions, the imperialists don’t want educated workers. There
is a serious effort underway to destroy the public education system. But a
positive condition is the changing character of the working class. It has
become more multinational with a larger percentage of women. These demographic
developments bring with them the certainty of more dynamic and class-conscious
Parker quoted from the book “High Tech, Low Pay” by Sam Marcy,
founding member of Workers World Party, on the changes in production that
underlie these developments: “The technological revolution is therefore a
quantum jump whose devastating effects require a revolutionary strategy to
WWP national leader Larry Holmes stated that even capitalism functioning
normally is a crisis for the working class. He described the present global and
national situation, however, as a capitalist crisis, but one of a new type,
where the various component parts of the capitalist system have ceased working
in harmony and are now, in fact, in conflict with each other. The ruling class
is now and will increasingly use racism as a solution to the deepening problem
of an economy stuck in neutral.
Holmes stressed the need to actively fight the ruling-class program of racism
and defend immigrant workers and Muslims and all who are under attack. He cited
as an example the Party’s role in initiating a Sept. 11 mobilization to
defend the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan.
While on the one hand describing the Tea Party movement as a phenomenon that
must be taken seriously, he emphasized that it is not “the real
storm.” It is, he suggested, the storm before the real storm. The real
storm, he predicted, is coming: “The real storm is the working class
Holmes noted the historic tradition of working-class struggle and emphasized
that revolutionaries must take seriously and be involved in every struggle of
workers and oppressed people, no matter how minor, while always keeping in mind
the big picture, the need to build a mass movement for socialism. Socialism, he
emphasized, is the only reasonable path for the planet. He concluded his
remarks with the observation that the fight for socialism is not the property
of one party. It must be a movement, and we have to launch such a socialist
Judy Greenspan, a longtime party activist from San Francisco and a teacher,
offered an overview of the growing attacks on public education, stressing the
scapegoating of teachers, the use of divide-and-conquer tactics that pit
parents against teachers and teachers against teachers, and the racist
character of the present system. She urged everyone to support the Oct. 7
Defend Public Education mobilization.
Capitalist state terrorizing our communities
Jefferson Azevedo, a Brazilian revolutionary and Los Angeles WWP branch member,
reminded the audience that wars are also a cause of migration. The military, he
charged, is an important purveyor of racism.
Larry Hales, a leader of the revolutionary youth group Fight Imperialism, Stand
Together and WW contributing editor, spoke on the role of the state, a Marxist
concept defined as organized violence, such as the police and the military,
that stands between the haves and the have-nots and functions as protection for
the haves and a constant threat of terror against the workers and
Gloria Verdieu, a San Diego WWP branch organizer, spoke on the cases of
political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, the MOVE 9 and Jamil Abdullah
Al-Amin. Cheryl LaBash, a WWP national organizer and a co-coordinator of the
U.S.-Cuba Labor Exchange, paid tribute to the Cuban socialist revolution and
called for the freedom of the Cuban Five political prisoners.
Fighting U.S. imperialism, defending self-determination
Monica Moorehead, a WW managing editor and Women’s Fightback Network
organizer, spoke on the Party’s theoretical contributions in explaining
the class roots of women’s oppression and lesbian, gay, bi and trans
oppression. She also spoke on a recent conference she attended in Montreal that
brought together more than 350 women activists from around the world under the
banner of fighting imperialism.
Teresa Gutierrez, co-coordinator of the New York May 1 Coalition for Worker and
Immigrant Rights and a WWP national leader, stated that there will be no
compromising on full rights for all immigrant workers. “No to the Schumer
plan,” she emphasized, and no to “comprehensive immigration
reform,” a code phrase for continuing the persecution of immigrant
workers. She cited V.I. Lenin’s writings on the right of oppressed
nations to self-determination as an essential guide in formulating demands such
as the return of the lands stolen from Mexico and the right of African
Americans to reparations for centuries of unpaid slave labor. Within the
movement of immigrant workers, she observed, there exists an army while, in
fact, a world without borders is being created by the international working
Paul Teitelbaum, a WWP organizer in Tucson and a May 1 Coalition activist,
recounted the sordid history of the U.S. takeover of Mexican lands and the
disastrous effects the “free-trade” agreement NAFTA has had on
Mexico’s poor and working-class people.
Sharon Black, a national WWP organizer, spoke on how individualism is promoted
by bourgeois culture, and how it serves the interests of the ruling class. But
our class needs organization, she insisted, especially since the ruling class
keeps us exploited and oppressed in part because it is very organized and
centralized. Black urged conference attendees not affiliated to seriously
consider joining WWP or one of the other organizations in attendance.
Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire and an organizer of the
Detroit branch of WWP, traced the history of North American/African relations
from the beginning of the trade in enslaved African people to the current
efforts by the Pentagon to achieve decisive military control over the African
Los Angeles WWP organizer Maggie Vascassenno, California student activist
Daniella Rodriguez and San Diego WWP member Zola Muhammad were conference
co-chairs. The event concluded with a spirited singing of “The
International,” a revolutionary workers’ anthem.
When asked how she liked the conference, Fresno State college student Chisanga
Changa from Zambia told WW, “I am liberated, educated and inspired. The
conference was amazing. I was very touched.”
The success of this conference showed that as the economic crisis deepens, here
and worldwide, socialism is becoming more popular and capitalism more and more
The Los Angeles WWP branch will be holding Marxist classes on socialism
starting on Sept. 18. For more information, call (323) 515-5870 or visit
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