Socialist Party USA: Info & News

Democracy In The Streets: Statement, Flyer, Rally Wed 2/23

Download as a flyer here:

As we can all imagine, the outcome of the Wisconsin protests will have a significant impact on the rights of every working person in this country, period. 
That is why we must all stand together now and draw a line in the sand. Do we lay down and let the corporate capitalists bulldoze us down, or do
we stand up for real democracy, including in the workplace?  There have been days when workers have let the capitalist class get away with murder,
but this is not that day. This is not that week, that month or that year. The SPCT says "union busting is disgusting!" and we invite you to join fellow workers
this Wednesday to rally in support of worker's rights at the state capital building.

Please Join us for a Solidarity Rally in Connecticut on Wednesday:
Date: Wednesday, Feb 23
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: State Capitol Building, West Steps
Address: 210 Capitol Avenue - Hartford, CT. 06106

National Solidarity Rallies in support of Wisconsin workers and ALL workers:

Please Circulate This Information Widely! This is what democracy looks like.

Democracy in the Streets: Madison Mobilizes to Defeat the Anti-Labor Walker
by Omar Mohamad, Socialist Party of South Central Wisconsin and Billy Wharton, co-chair Socialist Party USA

The mass protests led by public employees unions in Madison, Wisconsin have been presented by some mainstream commentators as a labor’s last stand.  They are not. They are a spark, a spark with the potential to create a new protest movement capable of revitalizing our unions, radicalizing student organizing and creating a space for democratic socialist politics.  As socialists, we stand steadfastly in solidarity with this protest movement.  We pledge to support the immediate goal of blocking Governor Scott Walker’s reactionary and draconian anti-union legislation and the longer-term project of building a serious left-wing political movement in the US.

Walker’s proposal to strip workers of collective bargaining rights is an extreme example of the budget cutting strategies being prepared by state and local officials throughout the country.  More than 31 states are in the process of implementing deep cuts to basic public services.  The local budgetary situations have been made worse by the ending of Federal stimulus funds.  Much like at the Federal level, most of these states have, for decades, refused to properly tax their richest residents and corporations.  In the case of Wisconsin, corporate tax rates have not been increased since 1972 and a myriad of loopholes and tax credits allow these companies to
further evade taxation.

But the budget cuts are not about the fiscal balancing of budgets.  They are, instead, an ideological attack on the rights of working people, on the opportunities for public university students and on the public programs that millions of people rely on.  Gov. Walker and the other politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, have refused to cover deficits by spending from reserve funds or increasing taxation on the rich and corporations.  This is a political choice, driven by free market ideology, to defend the wealth of the elite at the expense of the vast majority of people in our society.

As socialists, we understand that public employees are not the problem.  Their work helps to enhance the public good.  The problem that is gripping all of American society is that 5% of the population controls 85% of the productive wealth and this 5% has no intention of returning this wealth to those who produced it.  As a result, politicians will violate any democratic right – union rights, civil rights and economic rights – that threatens this wealth.  Walker demonstrated just how far he would go by putting the National Guard on notice in the event of mass unrest.

No wonder then that the protesters in Madison compared the Governor to the deposed dictator of Egypt Hosni Mubarak.  This comparison is not only because the protesters see a bit of Walker in Mubarak, but more importantly, they see themselves in the massive street protests that gripped Egypt and in the occupation of Tahrir Square. And what great lessons to learn from this brave movement that faced down the police and forced a dictator out.  The fighting spirit of Tahrir Square represents a global wave of unrest in which people are exercising and demanding their democratic rights. Democracy, in Cairo or Madison, is about more than elections.  It is about creating a society based on economic democracy – where working people who create the wealth can claim that wealth.

Democratic socialism offers the best hope to make the aspirations of these protests real.  We believe that society can best be run through direct democracy – where people have a direct say in how the society runs.  Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature should not be the ones determining how the budget is crafted.  A system of participatory budgeting in which those who will be affected by the budget are given a direct decision making voice in how the funds are spent would be the most democratic and efficient process possible.  Here, the true will of all those people mobilizing to stop Walker would be heard.

Until we are able to build the political will to create such a democratic structure, the political focus must be placed on taxing the rich and corporations to cover the immediate budget deficit in Wisconsin.  In the short term, this will mean employing all possible forms of civil disobedience and non-compliance on our worksites, our schools and in our communities.  Simply put, if a small group of politicians attempts to strip us of our rights in the service of protecting the wealth of the elite, we are more than justified in using all of the social power we can muster to bring the society to a stand still.

The Socialist Party USA has initiated a national campaign to fight against budget cuts and the attack on public workers.  We are calling on all of our members and our supporters to join local campaigns to defend jobs, education, and services.  As socialists, we bring with us a firm conviction about taxing the rich and a vision of a democratically run society in which people regain control of their lives from the logic of the market, from the workings of capitalism and from the elite 5% who benefit from our labor, while offering little in return.

Solidarity with the Madison Protests!
Kill the Anti-Union Bill!
Defeat the Anti-Labor Walker!

In Solidarity,

Todd Vachon-Chairperson
Dr. James Marra-Secretary

Socialist Party of Connecticut

Madison Protests May Spark a New Era of Protest Politics

Workers Occupy State House

by Billy Wharton

Protests are erupting across Wisconsin in response to Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to strip public employees of the right to collectively bargain in order to impose a severe austerity package.  The focal point of the rallies was the capitol building in Madison where protesters took a page from the Egyptian protest movement and occupied the inside rotunda.  These protests may be the first sign that the deepening of the economic crisis that ensued in 2008 may push many more Americans into protest politics not seen in this country since the 1930s.

The Source of the Budgetary Problems

Wisconsin is not the only state in the country proposing serious budget cuts.  The Center for Budgetary Priorities (CBP) reports that some 31 states throughout the country are proposing serious cuts to education, health care and other social service programs.  The CBP claimed that these cuts are often more severe than the fiscal situation warrants because elected officials have adamantly refused to use other strategies – such as raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations or using reserve funds – to cover deficits.

The State deficits have also been enlarged this year because of the ending of Federal funding from the American Recovery and reinvestment Act.  The Act included $140 billion in funds for states to cover their Medicaid expenses and to enhance fiscal stability at the state and local level.  Nearly $60 billion in these funds were paid out in fiscal year 2011, but the funding will shrink to $6 billion by 2012.  And with no sign that the Obama White House or the Republican controlled Congress is willing to create a new pool of funds, much less a serious public jobs program, states are left with stark decision to tax or cut.

What makes Wisconsin special is that right-wing Governor Scott Walker has heaped the burden of the deficit squarely on the shoulders of public employees.  Though other options are available to the Walker administration, he has made the ideological choice to squeeze the benefits plan of public employees by stripping them of collective bargaining rights.  This, despite the fact that a recent study produced by the Economic Policy Institute indicates that these public employees may in fact be under-compensated when compared to their private sector counterparts.


Egypt, Beyond the Pyramids

EdgeLeft: Egypt, Beyond the Pyramids

by David McReynolds, January 31, 2011

(EdgeLeft is an occasional column which may be reproduced or sent to others

without further persmission)

Rarely have I written something so certain to be outdated, perhaps even before you

get it. This is not really about Egypt but about revolution, something we have just

seen in Tunisia and are certainly seeing in Egypt. Revolutions are baffling things

because while we can “explain them” after the event, we can’t predict them before

they arrive.

They have uncertain beginnings, and uncertain endings. I remember, in High School,

reading Lincoln Steffens Autobiography, (which is probably still in print). In it he

discussed the Mexican Revolution and the Russian Revolution (Steffens is

remembered for his quote, after his return from the Soviet Union in the early days of

the revolution, when he said “I have seen the future and it works”). He was

concerned with the issue of “Thermidor”, a term that comes from the French

Revolution, when on July 27, 1794 ‐ “9 Thermidor” under the revolutionary

calendar, the deputies, weary of mass executions (1,300 in June of that year),

ordered the arrest of Robespierre and other members of the “Committee of Public

Safety”, and had them guillotined ‐ marking the end of the Revolution and the

consolidation of at least part of the old order.

The revolutions in the United States, Russia, and Cuba share one thing in common ‐

those against whom the revolt was carried out generally were driven out of the

country. In the US the loyalists (perfectly decent folks, for the most part) fled to

Canada, the British West Indies, or back to the home country. In Russia the Civil War

killed a great many of the White Russians, and those who did not die, fled into exile.

Cuba wisely permitted dissenters to leave ‐ the Mariel boatlift being an example of

how the regime nonviolently eliminated a chunk of opponents. In France, despite

the violence of the revolution, most of the opposition survived and in some ways

France has suffered from this division to the present day.

We shall see, certainly, a longing in Egypt for order. Revolutions are great fun during

their early days. (Despite the violence, there is an extraordinary exhilaration to

them ‐ those who have seen Before Night Falls, which is generally seen as an anti‐

Cuban film, as it tells the story of the poet, Reinaldo Arenas, will have to concede

that it captures the early excitement of the revolution very well). But food runs

short, there is disorder (as we see in Egypt), travel is disrupted, the economy grinds

to a halt, and there is a longing for a return to a sense of order. Even Lenin had to

reverse course early in the Soviet Revolution, introducing his New Economic Policy

(NEP) to save a foundering economy. But for now we are seeing one of the rarest of

things ‐ a moment when the people lose their fear of the state, when, as the Chinese

say, “the mandate of heaven has fallen” and it is only a matter of time before the old

regime must yield. We saw this for a few days in France in 1968, when it seemed as

if a true revolution was about the sweep the country. Those my age who were active

in the Vietnam anti‐war movement saw it for a brief moment after Kent State. I

remember being at a meeting of the anti‐war leadership at Cora Weiss’ house in

Manhattan when the news broke that the US had invaded Cambodia. We knew we

had to make an immediate response, there was no time for a mass demonstration,

and so we decided to go to Lafayette Park in front of the White House where, even

though we could only rally a few hundred people, we would be sure to be arrested

under the rules then in place, which limited the number of demonstrators. We sent

out the call to our networks. But between the time we met, which I think was on a

Friday, and May 4th, which was Monday, the students at Kent State were shot dead

by the National Guard.

This led to a general strike of students all across the nation. Campuses simply closed

down spontaneously. So, on that Saturday we didn’t have a few hundred people ‐

we had close to 100,000 in Washington D.C., rallied in a week’s time. We were

nervous, not knowing if Nixon would give the order to shoot. He was nervous too ‐

Lafayette Park was ringed with buses, nose to nose so that no one could get in. But

Nixon permitted the demonstrators to gather on the great lawn behind the White

House for a “legal rally”. The end of the war was still five years in the future, but in a

sense that day marked the end of the legitimacy of the war in the eyes of the

majority of Americans. In Vietnam there were open revolts within the armed forces.

It was an exciting time to live through . . . but of course it was not a revolution. Nixon

was allowed to resign and Henry Kissinger is still able to appear on TV news

channels as a foreign policy adviser, when he belongs in prison.

I wander, which is what happens when I try to write quickly under time pressure. A

far more important and genuine revolution was that in Iran, where a general strike

in October of 1978 led, first, to efforts to control the people by firing live

ammunition into crowds of youth surging the streets (those youth wore sheets of

white, symbolic of death, meaning they were prepared for burial), until the police

finally abandoned their posts, and in January the Shah had to flee for his life. The

violence of the Iranian Revolution was almost entirely on one side ‐ the Shah’s

military. Ironically, despite massive US military aid, the Shah had few of the

standard crowd control weapons, such as tear gas. So secure did the regime feel,

that the last place it expected a revolt was in the streets of Teheran.

The Russian Revolution is called the October Revolution, because the Bolsheviks

took power on October 25 of 1917, but it actually began in April of that year. We

may expect the Egyptian Revolution ‐ if, as I expect, it succeeds, to follow a similar

uncertain path. To sum up thus far: no one knew in advance that Tunisia, Yemen,

and Egypt would be swept by revolutionary fervor this winter. And no one can be

sure, at this writing, what is going to happen in North Africa and Egypt.

We can, however, note several things. One is that the US, while it doesn’t know

which way to turn at the moment, had been pressuring for change ‐ some of the US

aid funds had been going to pro‐democracy contacts in Egypt. This doesn’t mean the

US favors democracy in Egypt ‐ it doesn’t. It meant that at least some in the State

Department and the CIA knew that Mubarak’s situation was not stable. US policy,

not only in the Middle East but around the world, has been to favor “stable” regimes,

which has meant military dictatorships. Egypt has been notorious for its

authoritarian ways, its lavish use of torture (as was the Iran of the late Shah). But

the US has been happy to pour billions of dollars into Egypt to buy a secure alliance.

Israel also had a strong interest in discouraging democracy in Egypt ‐ since Mubarak

kept the Muslim Brotherhood under control, and had acted to establish peace with

Israel. Democracy has never been a favored choice by the US leaders. During the

Cold War we were happy to support Franco, the Fascist dictator in Spain. We

engineered the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iran in order

to install the Shah. We, and Israel, had urged democratic elections in the Gaza strip,

on the assumption the Palestinian Authority would win ‐ unhappily, Hamas won and

Gaza has been on the shit list of both the US and Israel governments ever since.

I remember the painful lesson I got in how “liberals” view free elections during the

struggle of the Vietnamese. Robert Pickus, who had had financial backing from the

War Resisters League to set up a group in Berkely called “Acts for Peace”, in 1958,

before Vietnam was on the agenda, opposed those of us who called for

unconditional withdrawal from Vietnam, on the grounds this wasn’t fair to the

Vietnamese, because it would leave them “at the mercy of the Communists”. We

pointed out that it was the US, which had blocked the free elections Vietnam had

been promised in 1956. Pickus argued that we had to insist on a peace settlement

which would guarantee not one, but two free elections. He knew that Ho Chi Minh

would win the first ‐ he hoped that with time and US funding of the opposition, the

Communists might lose the second.

The Establishment is never in favor of free elections if it thinks it might lose.

If one looks back at the US policy (and that of Israel) in the Middle East for the past

fifty years it has been a series of gambles that did not pay off. In Israel’s case, the

invasion of Lebanon in 1982 lead directly to the creation of Hezbollah, which is

currently taking control of the government of Lebanon, thus extending Syrian

influence further into Lebanon. The US managed to block Iranian control of Iran, but

in the end lost out to the radical Muslims, who now play a key role in Iraq (the

invasion of which was among the most remarkable blunders the US has ever made).

We do not know what will happen tomorrow or next month. But we do know that

the map of the Middle East is going to be very different by the end of the year. The

US is almost certainly to lose its long‐term alliance with Egypt. It is very uncertain

what will happen in Tunisia or Yemen, but in all cases US influence will be greatly

weakened. In Iraq the latest political developments insure that Iran will have more

influence there than the US. In Lebanon, Syrian influence has been strengthened.

Whether any of this will induce Israel to make peace is hard to say.

But to look at the range of events in the past six months strongly suggest that, once

more, the brightest and best can win many short‐term victories but achieve major

long‐term losses.

The most serious question is what we do here ‐ since neither you nor I have any

influence on the events in Egypt. And what we need to do is to give our strong public

support to the democratic forces in Egypt, even though we cannot know how long

they will be democratic. The one thing is quite certain, we cannot determine the

policies of those nations. We can wish them luck and reach out to them now.

(David McReynolds was a past Chair of War Resisters International, and the Socialist

Party candidate for President in 1980 and 2000. He is retired and lives on the lower

East Side of Manhattan with his two cats. He can be reached at:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Socialism, Democracy & Egypt

1. SPUSA, 2. SPBoston

Socialism and the Spirit of Tahrir Square

by Andrea Pason and Billy Wharton, co-chairs Socialist Party USA

February 11, 2011 - We send greetings to the working people of Egypt on the day of their victorious struggle to depose the dictator Hosni Mubarak.  Their grassroots movement provides definitive proof to the world that radical political activity can change the course of history.  The activities of the protesters in Tahrir Square transformed the idea of democracy from a stale ritual that occurs every few years to an open ended struggle for freedom.  We are inspired by the example provided by this mass revolt of the Egyptian people.

It is particularly important to recognize the central contribution made by the working class to the defeat of the dictator.  While the occupation of the square and the street demonstrations in several cities galvanized the resistance, it was the mass strikes carried out by the workers that broke the back of the regime.  On February 9th thousands of workers demonstrated the ability to shutdown the entire society and economy until their demands were met.  After these mass strikes, the regime understood that surrender was its only option.

The victory of Tahrir Square need not be an isolated one – limited only to the removal of one dictatorial regime.  The revolt was as much about the conditions imposed on Egyptians by capitalism – the lack of food, the unemployment, the poor housing, the declining environment – as it was about Mubarak.  We can all join in the spirit of struggle initiated in Cairo by demanding a democratic socialist society where the needs of human beings are placed ahead of those of corporations.

See Tahrir Square for what it is – an open-ended struggle for freedom.  And what the dissident voices in Egypt and many others parts of world are demanding are things that capitalism cannot deliver.  In Egypt, the reorganization of an independent trade union movement, the experiences of direct democracy in the protests and the revitalization of a socialist left in the country offer greatest hope for advancing the political agenda for economic freedom developed in Tahrir Square.

As socialists located in the US, we pledge to continue to do our part in the international struggle for socialism.  We see our own political activity as a part of the larger international movement for jobs, peace and freedom.  As a part of a Socialism for the 21st Century!


Get organized!  Contact the Socialist Party USA!


Glory to the Egyptian People!
by Matthew Andrews, Socialist Party of Boston

After eighteen days of protest that must have felt like much more, the
Egyptian people have succeeded in exerting final authority over their
government by forcing the thirty year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak out
of power.

By taking their destiny into their own hands, the Egyptian people have
proven that they understand democracy better than so many of us in the
west with our ceremonious elections that change nothing.  By voting with
their shoes, the Egyptian people have smashed the subtly racist notion
that popular culture in the Muslim world prefers religious
fundamentalism and dictatorship.

Renowned cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek explains, “when we are fighting
a tyrant we are all universalists ...What happened in Tunesia, what
happens now in Egypt, it's precisely this universal revolution for
dignity, human rights, [and] economic justice. This is universalism at

Another important lesson to draw from Egypt's revolution is that protest
works!  Every aristocracy, every dictatorial regime, depends on the hard
work and silent consent of the working class.  Their station in society
depends on our service.  Egyptians spoke with a unitary and unwaivering
voice that Mubarak must go.  Once they seized the streets and Tahrir
Square, it was just a waiting game to see how long it would take for
reality to penetrate Mubarak's mind.

Had Mubarak been replaced earlier on by a new face, the ruling class
might have been able to rebrand itself and stymie the revolt.  But after
thirty years of dictatorship, the regime was unable to separate itself
from Mubarak.  What seemed stable just one month ago, proved to be
brittle under pressure.  There will undoubtedly still be attempts by
former establishment figures to re-assert themselves under a new guise.
But the difficult struggle to dislodge Mubarak has put much better
possibilities on the table.

The Egyptian protests were qualitatively different from what we have in
the US, where we march through cattle chutes erected by the police, and
respectfully ask those in power to listen.  Let us learn from the
Egyptians' militancy.  It is not numbers alone that make mass action so
powerful.  A willingness to defy authority until basic demands are met
is also essential.

Accusations of foreign interference by Mubarak's government were
especially ironic given that they were taking $1.3 billion each year in
military aid from the United States, including the tear gas police fired
against protesters.  It was Mubarak's corrupt government that
represented capitulation to foreign interests, not the protesters.

Obama was almost as slow as Mubarak to understand the message coming
from Egypt's streets.  Multiple statements from the White House
essentially mirrored Mubarak's own stance of offering concessions short
of regime change.  Even as the corporate media voiced support for the
people of Egypt, criticism of Obama and the long history of US
government support for dictators in the middle east was conspicuously
absent.  In the US we have an essential role to play, to challenge US
government policy that undermine the political independence of people in
the middle east and around the world.

The brief final message from former vice-president Suleiman indicates
that the supreme council of the Egyptian military will take over the
country's affairs until a new civilian government can be elected.  The
experiences of the struggle to oust Mubarak have given the Egyptian
people a taste of grassroots democracy.  In the days ahead we must watch
to see if the military continues to play a passive role.  Now is the
opportunity for Egyptians to turn regime change into a social and
economic revolution, and also repudiate US-Israeli domination in the

Egypt has already joined Tunisia in the minds of millions of people
around the world as a victory against corruption, dictatorship, and
imperialism.  The uplifting psychological effects of these events cannot
be underestimated.  Similar protests have been inspired all over the
world, especially in Yemen and Jordan.  Tyrants beware!  We are all
Egyptian now!


No More US Support to the Mubarak Dictatorship!

The SPCT supports democracy in all of its forms. It does not begin, nor does it end at the poll. We join the UNAC in supporting the people of Egypt in their courageous stand against authoritarianism and imperialism.

No More US Support to the Mubarak Dictatorship!
Hands off Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen!
The Egyptian people, inspired by the victory in Tunisia and building on their own heroic rallies and strikes in recent years, have now taken the lead in the regional revolt against US-backed dictatorships. Today, Friday, January 28th, masses have poured into the streets for the third straight day of protest, and are once again fighting valiantly against cops and troops armed with US made and paid for weapons.
It is the US government which has created and STILL supports the Mubarak regime to the tune of $1.5 billion a year as part of its regional military apparatus, and it is US banks and corporations that have imposed the neoliberal austerity regime of unemployment, poverty and malnutrition against which Egyptian workers have been rebelling for decades.
The US Department of Defense is meeting this very week with Egyptian military officials to discuss how to maintain this oppression. A DoD press briefing reports: "With regards to Egypt:… we actually this week are hosting senior Egyptian military leaders at the Pentagon for our annual bilateral defense talks… So that's just an example of how engaged we are with the Egyptians, even as these developments have taken place on the streets in Cairo and elsewhere…”
And it is the US State Department which has already begun maneuvers throughout the region to ensure that any governments that fall are replaced with equally compliant regimes -- maneuvers such as the visit by the head of “Near East Affairs” in the State Department this week to Tunisia, and by their “National Democratic Institute” to Yemen, to “advise” on “clean elections” – i.e. to plot how to subvert the goals of the masses in the streets.
It is therefore OUR responsibility as US antiwar activists to mobilize all our supporters to demand: Hands Off Egypt! End US aid to murdering, exploitative and corrupt governments!
The other regimes against which the Arab masses are now in revolt -- Tunisia, Yemen and Jordan -- are all likewise subservient to Washington's dictates in matters of war and economics, including especially in their toadying to Washington's main watchdog, Israel.
Similarly inspired by the regional upsurge, Palestinian activists have stepped up action against the corrupt, US-financed and armed Palestine Authority. A sit-in at the Palestinian embassy in London by Palestinian students was launched this week, and a worldwide petition demanding the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas and the democratization of Palestinian governing and movement structures has been launched: see
Every revolt -- in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria -- has featured prominently demands for jobs for the huge numbers of unemployed youth who are at the core of the revolt. UNAC has made clear the link between the fight against war and for jobs, and by standing with the Arab masses at this time we are also saying we hope that workers in the US will fight with every bit as much determination for jobs for all, and for solidarity with workers fighting the same fight in every country.
We encourage all supporters organizing for the national antiwar marches on April 9th in New York City and San Francisco to work closely with Arab activists in the US to make sure our marches feature prominently their members and demands.
A victory for the Arab masses is a victory for the cause of peace throughout the world!
Details on demonstrations can be found here:
Call the White House and State Department and demand, No More Support to the Mubarak Dictatorship! Hands off Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen!
U.S. Department of State: Main Switchboard:  202-647-4000
Your Senators and congressperson:
The main Capitol switchboard 202-224-3121, and the Congressional switchboard 800-828-0498
For more information: www.unacpeace.orgThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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