From Local to Global: Politics and the Balance of Forces

Editor's note: The following is a slightly excerpted/edited version of a report delivered at the 12th international meeting of communist and workers parties in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 3-5, 2010.

The economic crisis has sparked a great struggle in the US. On one side is the anti-right-wing coalition that elected Barack Obama. On the other are the  most reactionary and racist ruling class forces that have governed the US for the last 25 years. Unable to accept the election of an African American as president and even modest reforms that affect their rate of profit, they have sworn revenge and regime change.
At stake in this struggle are all the issues that bring us to the table this weekend: the right to organize unions, health care and education,  equal pay for women; the right to live free of racist and homophobic  violence.
At stake as well are removing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, lifting the blockade against Cuba, a two–state solution in the Middle East, support and solidarity with the countries of the African continent.
The outcome of this struggle is uncertain.
Will the US continue to alter its course as promised in our presidential  election? Or will it return to the failed policies that governed it during the Bush years?
Two years ago, we had an opportunity, perhaps, to force US imperialism down a less bellicose more restrained path. We had a chance then to embark on a path to make meaningful changes for the better in the lives of our working class and people. This is what was promised in Obama’s campaign for hope and change.
Frightened by an unprecedented financial crisis, disgusted by corruption, stagnant wages and growing unemployment a mass movement was born and demanded real change.
It was a popular, multi-class, all people’s movement and the newly elected president was presented with popular, multi-class all-peoples tasks to move the country away from the extreme right. In the first place this meant  stabilizing the economy, setting a date for troop withdrawals, heath care and financial regulatory reform.
The struggle over these issues reached a new stage with the midterm elections.
It was a huge effort. The big Wall Street banks, the health care corporations, capital based in oil along with  military and industrial corporations, angered by even modest reforms proposed  by the president and Congress went all out to defeat the Democratic majority. They spent more money on this campaign than any mid-term election in US history.
Big business recognized that in confronting a new social movement like the Obama campaign for the presidency politics as usual would result in defeat. They therefore decided to launch their own social movement and created the Tea Party.
Labor and the broad democratic movement fought back with independent organization, personnel and finances.
It is important to stress the role played by the labor movement in this fight. From organizing marches on Wall Street during the banking crisis to holding sit-ins during union organizing drives, to building campaign structures independent of the Democratic Party machine, labor was the leading force in the campaign. For the first time ever during a election year they led a march on Washington demanding jobs and justice.
But as we all know, it was not enough, and the extreme right won a partial victory, winning the US House of Representatives.
Clearly both the Obama election and the Republican counter-revolt are two moments in the deepening systemic crisis of U.S. capitalism. This crisis, sparked by the speculative frenzy in sub-prime markets along with financialization as a means of generating profit has yet to work itself out. Millions of homes are at risk of foreclosure, unemployment while officially at 9.5 percent is in reality closer to 18 percent; there is only one new job for every five people looking. At the same time, productivity of US workers is at an all time high as are corporate profits.
Public anger at the role of the banks in this crisis recently forced a temporary but important halt in foreclosures by several banks.
These are the circumstances that are shaping the struggles of the next period. Because of the Republican victory, the struggle will be mainly defensive in nature as the labor and peoples movement tries to hold on to the legislative gains like health care and financial reform.
Continuing the pressure to set dates for troop removal in Afghanistan, immigration reform, and now the struggle over the deficit and raising the retirement age are high on the agenda.
The all peoples coalition is gearing up for this struggle.
The CPUSA believes that the emergence of a broad coalition to defeat the ultra-right has proved the value of this strategy. The electoral setback of last November has not changed this fact.
Anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-peace majorities exist in the US. A broad left current flows in the streams of public consciousness. Fueled by the Internet and the growth of social networks, political activism and engagement are at a new high. In these circumstances our Party believes that a new opening was created with the election of the USA’ s first Black president.
It is true that in some cases this new administration’s efforts have been hesitant and not gone far enough. It is also true that in other cases they have been dead wrong, sometimes as with the troop surge in Afghanistan painfully so. At the same time it has to be said that that this is the most favorable administration to labor and the people in recent years.
Yes, the 2008 election cracked open the door: it is up to the working class and their allies to push it wide open with greater struggle. The CPUSA believes that it is in these struggles, for peace jobs, against racism and homophobia, for ending the blockade, for non-intervention in Latin America that our movement can and will be built. That is where you will find us as we build the socialist tomorrow in the struggles of today.

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  • This is a solid report.
    The point is to change the balance of forces to correct the duplicitous Obama administration,a change that will not occur with only direct contact and pressure on this administration. In fact,as referred to in this article,and thousands of others from the right,right center,center,center left and left,the Obama administration is not the main enemy of this change.
    Of course,duplicitous means characterized by marked or even intentional deception,and many will not agree to assigning such strong description to an Obama administration which many on the left,with us,support. The present writer would not agree. When this administration executes I C E directives to deport workers and destroy unions,when it expands atrocious, insufferable war in Afghanistan,and as this article points out is,"...dead wrong"while it resists Citizens v Federal,various and sundry challenges to labor's power,and continued tax cuts for the wealthy,this may not be intentional,but it is at least,marked.
    Moreover,when this administration goes to Oslo and rejects the necessary peace preconditions for human survival,and with this the gifts of love,W.E.B. Du Bois,Ghandi(South African activist),James Lawson,MLK and Robeson-the "Soul Force"there is a basic problem.
    Conceding this,and with this that the main enemy is reactionary finance,military industrial,energy and communication capital,to come on as if the chief executive office of the United States and its policy execution is not of prime importance,especially as forces from below become major conflagrations for struggle and progress on both a local and global level,is sheer nonsense.
    When Lincoln was president it was of prime importance.
    When Franklin Roosevelt was president it was of prime importance.
    When Obama is president it is of prime importance.
    This is so because it is a main,if not THE main venue through which to defeat the fascistic right,a consolidation of a peoples' victory.
    We can win with Obama's electorate because the world balance of forces is with us. We can win this administration,because if unified and organized,the U.S. balance of people forces is with us.

    Posted by peaceapplause, 02/20/2011 4:13am (10 years ago)

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