We will fight for jobs, equality & peace

BY: People’s World| October 9, 2001

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. – Delegates to the Communist Party USA’s 27th Convention here July 6-8 called for a stepped-up campaign for jobs, equality and peace and a fightback against the ultra-right agenda.

The crowd, packed into a ballroom at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, greeted the speakers with standing ovations, cheers and applause. The mood among the 520 delegates and guests seemed as fresh as the breeze that blew in from sparkling Lake Michigan.

In a July 6 gala opening, delegates and guests celebrated the radical tradition of U.S. history – defending democracy – while calling for a renewed fight against the Bush agenda.

In the keynote address, Sam Webb, national chairman, referred to our country’s revolutionary democratic past.

‘In fact, the past 225 years have been filled with heroic struggles of our nation’s people trying, sometimes in the face of what seemed like insurmountable odds, to enlarge the boundaries of and give new meanings to freedom and liberty,’ Webb said.

‘It wasn’t polite society, but rather what polite society called the rabble, the mob, the undeserving poor, the vulgar, the working stiffs that have been the real authors of democracy and democratic rights.’

The delegates, coming from as far away as Alaska and Vermont, cheered the call for building on the country’s radical and democratic traditions and ‘not allow it to be demagogically appropriated by the extreme right nor permit it to be sanitized and stripped of its thunder by the ruling class.’

On the global economy Webb said that the contemporary global economy is not an arena of freedom and free exchange, but rather ‘of coercion and unequal power with a few nations and powerful transnational corporations, like General Electric, Microsoft and Citicorp, sitting on at the top and the vast majority of nations and people occupying a subordinate status.’

The keynote’s analysis was warmly received by the convention, which included 20 international delegations representing Communist and workers’ parties from every continent. Fraternal delegates brought solidarity messages in the struggle against globalized capitalism.

Webb put working-class internationalism, a hallmark of the Communist outlook since its inception, into today’s context.

‘Our imperialism is the lone superpower in the world. Therefore, a special responsibility falls on the American people to curb the war drive of the Bush administration,’ he said.

‘Isn’t it time that we as a people say that we’re going to turn our nation’s swords into plowshares and study war no more?’

The crowd cheered in agreement when Webb charged that the AIDS crisis in Africa ‘is not only a health problem, but also a problem of political economy – of capitalist globalization – of imperialism’s utter inhumanity. This convention should strongly condemn the Bush administration for the meager resources that it has pledged to the AIDS crisis.’

Webb noted the rising popular sentiment against the extreme right-wing policies of the Bush administration, embodied in the party switch of Vermont Senator James Jeffords.

‘Literally overnight the Bush-Cheney-Lott-Delay-Scalia orchestrated blitzkrieg against the people’s living standards and democratic rights went from a gallop to a crawl,’ he said.

Webb underlined the importance of organized resistance and multiracial unity as the only way to win democratic victories.

‘This is a moment when people’s majorities can be assembled and win political victories, while further isolating Baby Bush.’

He denounced racist policies including massive poverty, unemployment, police killing, racial profiling and the growth of a ‘prison industrial complex’ worsening the plight of African Americans, Latinos and others. Webb called for the drafting of a ‘freedom program’ that expresses the CPUSA’s views on the path to defeating racism and winnning full equality for racially and nationally oppressed peoples.

The women’s equality movement ‘as a social force, along with the working class and the racially and nationally oppressed are at the strategic core of class and democratic struggles in our country,’ Webb said.

Delegates were responsible for electing new leaders, along with deliberating on policies to guide the party’s work over the next period.

‘There should be nothing mysterious about our party and its positions. We have nothing to hide. We’re a legal political party.’

The convention elected a national committee (NC) of 120 and reelected Webb as its chair.

Other national officers and the outgoing national board will continue their positions until a fuller discussion on leadership is organized by the new NC.

The convention also featured a total of 43 workshops on various aspects of coalition building from ‘New features of African American Equality’ and ‘Independent Media’ to ‘Socialism USA: Getting There from Here’ and the ‘Fight for Working-Class Culture.’

Most workshops were organized coalition-style, led by Communists and other activists from many different labor and community organizations.

Cultural artists inspired delegates and guests with their political song, music and poetry.

In addition to a People’s Weekly World awards celebration that rocked the Theater Arts Building auditorium, there was also poetry reading, dramatic readings, blues and jazz nightly in the student union coffeehouse. Artists displayed paintings and crafts in the entrance to the ballroom.

The opening session ended with a salute to Party veterans, celebrating their role in saving the Scottsboro Nine, fighting to end racist Jim Crow, organizing steel, textile, auto and longshore, defeating Hitler fascism, marching against the war in Vietnam and racist apartheid. Young Communist League members walked among the delegations handing long-stem roses to the women and men who have dedicated their lives to building the CPUSA.

The plenary heard a number of special reports and discussion from the floor, many of which brought delegates to their feet. Delegates also discussed constitutional changes and debated resolutions.

The mayor of Milwaukee sent a letter and proclamation welcoming the Communist Party, read by aide Daisy Cubais (see sidebar).

Stan Yasaitis, the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 82, which represents most UWM employees, greeted the convention on Saturday.

He brought the house down when he referred to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel front-page headline, ‘Life of the Party: Observers see its death, Communists convening in Milwaukee say otherwise.’

Yasaitis said, ‘You guys look pretty alive to me.’

Yasaitis described his union as the ‘biggest thorn in the backside of the university’ and said they struggle to get the university to ‘respect the workers who produce the product of education.’

The convention also featured a presentation of a redrafted Declaration of Independence in honor of the document’s 225th anniversary.

Read by delegates Marc Brodine, Aisha Anderson-Oberman and Miguel Rodriguez, the document began, ‘When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for our people to dissolve the political bands that connect and subject us to an exploitative, repressive, unfair and unjust economic system and to assume the powers to which the laws of nature and humanity entitle us and require of us, a decent respect for the opinions of humankind requires that we declare the causes that impel us.’

In his convention summary, Webb hailed the convention.

‘What made it so great? It was bubbling over with energy and enthusiasm,’ he said. ‘There was no lack of revolutionary spirit here.’


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