NEW YORK – “The dominant mood today is to continue to fight,” Sam Webb, Communist Party national chair, told National Committee (NC) members at its meeting here, Nov. 16-17. Analyzing the recent election battles, Webb continued, “The same determination to take on the ultra right that mobilized tens of thousands in the weeks leading up to the elections is evident now. Nearly every spokesperson of the people’s organizations has said in so many words, ‘Ain’t gonna let no Bush turn us ‘round.’”

Delegates at the meeting showed no signs of fatigue from the grueling 2002 election battles. Instead, the meeting, whose participants included steelworkers, farmers, youth activists, teachers, elected officials and religious activists, was full of energy and determination to challenge the Bush administration’s anti-people, war agenda.

Webb argued, “Broad popular majorities already exist or can be constructed in the course of struggle, on issues ranging from opposing the war in Iraq, to the stacking of the federal courts, to the privatization of Social Security, to the need for an economic stimulus package, to protecting democratic, union, civil, women, and gay rights.”

Webb called the struggle against the growing war danger “the dominant and defining political reality in our own country.”

The urgency of stopping the war permeated the meeting. Sarah Staggs, peace and solidarity commission chairwoman, called for broadening the participation in the peace movement by linking the domestic economic crisis with the war threat. She added, “While we focus our efforts on stopping a war with Iraq, we must not fail to see the new flashpoints that U.S. military strategy is prepared to engage in simultaneously.”

Empahsizing greater world communist united action Marilyn Bechtel, international secretary, stated, “Our party has a very special responsibility to work with the international communist and workers’ party movement in building the broadest possible international coalition to turn around the Bush administration’s drive for permanent sole superpower domination.”

Webb pointed out that Sept. 11 cast a long shadow over the elections and that furthermore, “the Republican Party’s deployment of racism along with false patriotism and militarism is an integral and long-standing feature of their strategy. … the struggle for democracy will stall and go into reverse if the struggle against racism is not much higher up on the agenda.”

Jarvis Tyner, executive vice chair, called for sharpening the response to racism. Tyner pointed out that the racist campaigns that brought about the primary election defeats of Black Congresspeople in the South were a prelude to the November right-wing offensive.

Lorenzo Torrez, chair of the Arizona Communist Party, warned of the rise in ultra-right paramilitary activities along the Mexican border, calling for an investigation of a recent sniper murder there, which border officials have refused to investigate.

“The largest section of voters is no longer Democrat or Republican, but unaffiliated,” stated Joelle Fishman, chair of the political and legislative action commission in a comprehensive election report. “These voters represent the full ideological spectrum of views. The Republican right is consciously appealing to these voters.” Although the electorate is split, she and Webb both argued, those voters, especially those in rural and suburban areas, should not be ceded to the far right.

Despite the setbacks, Fishman pointed to important progress made with labor, communist and independent candidates and ballot initiatives. Fishman called on the delegates “to immerse the Party in the grassroots fightback struggles of people on economic issues especially, and against the war.”

Tina Wheeler, Maryland organizer, reported working with a local coalition to produce and distribute a pamphlet exposing Republican Governor-elect Robert Ehrlich’s anti-labor record, widely distributed at shift changes at Baltimore-area union workplaces.

Webb charaterized the corporate Bush administration attack on labor as “of a different order of magnitude than anything since the passage of Taft-Hartley and the onset of the Cold War.”

In the discussion, steelworkers from Ohio and Illinois reported on the emerging movement to fight to maintain retiree pensions and medical insurance in the face of bankruptcies.

An East Coast longshoreman described his coworkers’ spirit of solidarity with West Coast ILWU members, as well as growing peace sentiments in reaction to the militarization of the ports.

“The battle on the West Coast waterfront has been a class war that has tested the power of workers in the face of a new millennium style union busting gang up by some of the world’s most vicious corporations with the total help of the Bush administration,” reported Evelina Alarcon, a national vice chair from Los Angeles.

Juan Lopez, Northern California organizer and PWW Editorial Board member, emphasized the work done by the union in reaching out to the other unions in contract battles and the community. Lopez said, “In Oakland, Longshore and the other unions and the labor council have effectively united with community and other social forces in a coalition that will have ongoing long-term impact.”Webb ended his report saying.” Meeting challenges is what we are all about. It’s a part of our tradition.”

The author can be reached at jleblanc@pww.org

PDF version of ‘Communists meet: Ain’t gonna let no Bush turn us round!’

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