Report to the State Committee, 9/23/01

BY:Marc Brodine| May 21, 2002

Report to the State Committee
Communist Party of Washington State
September 23, 2001

The terrorist attacks on September 11th have already made tremendous changes in the political, physical, social, psychological, emotional, and economic landscapes of our country. Political life is now more difficult and more complicated, but also offers new opportunities for our class struggle approach.

The right-wing response and the temporary support it is receiving are the biggest challenges for us. As Sam Webb said at the National Board meeting yesterday, ‘the fight for peace trumps all other issues right now.’

Our job includes work to help build and rebuild the peace movement, to connect the struggle for peace with all other issues, struggles, organizations, and movements, and to present our class and people with alternative views, information and programs.

Our goal has to be to change the direction of our country, to change the rapidly developing war policy, to demand that reconstruction and recovery efforts benefit workers and the country, not be handouts to the wealthy, and to fight to protect democratic rights for all, including immigrants, including Muslims, including all those who oppose the war policy of the Bush administration.

Politics has gotten more difficult because the right-wing is compounding the tragedy by aggressively pushing a war policy, an anti-democratic policy, a benefit-the-corporations-at-the-expense-of-the-workers policy. The natural feelings and desires of tens of millions for unity, for a powerful reaction to the attacks, for being whole, have given a temporary boost to the conservative agenda.

Politics is more difficult because our country now faces a multi-sided crisis-a political, social, military, and economic crisis. Politics has gotten more complex because now, instead of developing politics further on the road we were on, instead of being able to build in a relatively straight-forward way on the progress that the working class movement was making, all issues must now be reframed, readjusted, reformulated; all issues now have a fundamental new dimension. A huge shift has taken place and no one knows where that shift will lead. We have to rapidly readjust our focus and our work. Politics has gotten more complex because the economic recession already visible before September 11th had now accelerated and deepened.

Politics in our country also has new opportunities as well.

First, the work done by our Party, our members, and many other progressive trade unionists, has created a different labor movement, a new labor movement, one much more ready to struggle, to unite with others, and to engage in direct struggles not only on immediate economic issues but also on broader social and political issues. Among many other positive signs, at the recent Jobs with Justice National Conference, was the statement by Barbara Shailor, AFL-CIO international affairs secretary, that JwJ represented the coming together of the labor and progressive movements, recreating the coalition between and inside labor with socialists and communists that ‘played such a crucial role in organizing the CIO.’ In the labor movement and elsewhere, the political improvements haven’t vanished. They will reassert themselves. And though these progressive developments were never universal, they are real and they still exist.

Secondly, the organization of the widespread peace and justice sentiment in our country is also an opportunity. Millions already feel problems with the direction that the Bush administration is attempting to push our country, and thousands have already taken to the streets to demonstrate their revulsion at the terrorist attacks and also at the war hysteria Bush is pushing. This is happening in vigils, marches, teach-ins. It is happening in the streets of Seattle, Tacoma, Roslyn, and elsewhere around our state, with a candlelight vigil last Wednesday with about 2,500, and a demonstration yesterday with about 800. Coalitions are in the process of formation.

Thirdly, in the economic sphere, the capitalist system, again in a free-fall crisis, is again proving itself inhumane, focused on profits not people. The system again stands exposed as not able to meet the needs of our people or our country. In the struggle against the effects of this economic crisis, more people will conclude that the system IS the problem. This crisis started before the terrorist attacks: in the month prior, there were announcements of well over 100,000 layoffs, and in the less than two weeks since, there have been announcements of additional layoffs totaling over 100,000.

To participate in these opportunities, we need to:

1. Identify and build on our democratic heritage, our democratic rights, the desires of our people for equality, justice, and fairness.
2. Identify with all that is positive and human about people’s responses to the tragedies of September 11th.
3. Build unity, not a hollow, sham unity, but real unity based on the fight for justice, for social, economic, political and racial justice, for immigrant rights, for workers and their families, for international peace and justice as the only basis for isolating and defeating terrorism.
4. Reject efforts to compound the tragedy by using it to implement the right-wing agenda, including arguing that this proves racial profiling is necessary, and for the militarization of space and the economy.

What is the right-wing/capitalist solution to the interlocking series of crises that we face? Their ‘solution’ is war, lay-offs, bailouts for corporate profits, eliminating civil and legal rights, making workers and working class families bear the brunt of all these crises with job loss, loss of democratic rights, and loss of life. Their ‘solution’ is for much more of the same policies that caused these crises, a solution which is no solution because it is worse than the problems.

We have to provide alternative policies and directions. We need to help, along with thousands and millions of others, to organize for an extension of democracy, a struggle for peace, justice and safety, a struggle against the right-wing atrocities of Bush and the right-wing atrocities of bin Laden.

We can do this by building on the human, humane, positive responses of our class and people to the terrorist attacks: donating blood, raising money for the families of victims, rushing to help with rescue efforts. Many are also helping to protect Muslims and mosques from hate crimes.

There are other responses we must reject and argue against: the hate crimes themselves, the calls for revenge and vengeance, for war, for being ‘prepared’ for killing more innocent civilians.

But to win millions, to help influence a change in the direction of our country, we also have to reject and ‘I told you so’ tone, a ‘chickens coming home to roost’ attitude which people will see as blaming the innocent victims instead of the guilty reactionary politicians. Of course we have to expose the ties between bin Laden and the CIA. Of course we have to reject primitive cries for revenge. Of course we have to express our care about the value of all human lives, here and everywhere in the world. But also of course, we have to identify with everything positive in the response of our people. This terror happened to all of us, including Communists. We share the emotions, fears, hopes and desires with millions of people in our country.

One continuing struggle is that to free the Charleston Five, which is still expecting to organize a shutdown in many ports around the world, including on all three coasts of our country, on the first day of the trial, possibly later this fall. This expression of and example of international solidarity will demonstrate the response of workers around the globe to terror, including the state-sponsored terror against workers in our country.

In the Northwest, we face our own particular set of challenges. The economic bombshell of 30,000 Boeing layoffs on top of the already well-developed crisis, on top of the energy crisis, will create huge economic difficulties, and suffering for hundreds of thousands in our region. We have to respond with a call for public works jobs, extended unemployment benefits and worker retraining, for rescuing workers not corporations, for public ownership and financial return on any public investment. Bail-out workers, not corporations!

In Seattle, the supporters of Mark Sidran for Mayor are already trying to use the terrorist attacks and another argument for his supposed ‘tough style.’ They never explain how the anti-homeless so-called ‘civility’ laws Sidran is infamous for would help make anyone safer.

The interlocked crises and attacks we face point out the need for the party more sharply.

Our class and people need a Communist Party to promote an alternative politics, alternative policies, and a humane internationalist viewpoint. We need the People’s Weekly World to report, analyze, and help organize the struggle for peace.

We need a bigger organization of revolutionaries, motivated by, as Che Guevara said, ‘deep feelings of love.’


    Marc Brodine is Chair of the Washington State CPUSA. A former AFSCME member and local officer, he is currently an artist and guitar player. Marc writes on environmental issues and answers many web site questions. Marc is the author of an extended essay on Marxist philosophy and the environment, titled Dialectics of Climate Change.

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