Rebuff ‘gotcha’ politics

Just a personal info piece on the whole thing the ultra-right started and Hillary Clinton is now joining into regarding Barack Obama and Bill Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn. This is an even more dishonest smear than the one about Jeremiah Wright. It is red-baiting by association with people who are not even “reds” any more.

Anybody who has played any kind of leadership role on social justice issues in the Chicago area has found themselves on panels, in meetings and conferences, on not-for-profit boards or in similar contexts with either Ayers or Dohrn. I certainly have with both.

Ayers has been involved in issues of education reform in Chicago and has been appointed to positions related to education by Mayor Daley Jr., hardly a flaming radical.

Ayers and Dohrn participated in tactically foolish actions during the movement against the Vietnam War. They came from rather privileged backgrounds and followed the pattern of those in the protest movement who come from privilege with such self-destructive folly. The phenomenon is older than Lenin’s “Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder.”

But that was a long time ago. Today, they are not seen as part of the radical left in Chicago, but more as liberals working to reform the system.

A big deal is being made of Obama being on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago (formerly Woods Charitible Fund) along with Ayers. But the Woods Fund, like every other charitible foundation, is wary of stuff that seems to them to be politically radical.

This sort of “guilt by association” or “gotcha” politics, whereby you try to find some association of a political candidate with someone who you can make out to be dangerous or controversial, and then you create a whole McCarthy-type, scare-and-smear campaign about the supposed association, has to be forcefully countered.

Emile Schepers

Northern Virginia

Teach your children well

Labor and community leaders will join together with 500 students from the Tilden Middle School at Elmwood Park in Philadelphia on May 1 to celebrate the long forgotten International Labor Day.

During the fight for the eight-hour day in the 1880s, four men were shot to death on the picket line in a strike for a shorter working day. Later four were hanged for organizing a rally in Haymarket Square in Chicago to protest the killing of the four picketers. Someone (who was never identifired) threw a bomb at the end of the rally and a policeman was killed. Police opened fire into the crowd, killing several people including members of their own force.

This rally, referred to as the Haymarket Riot, led to the conviction of eight men who organized the rally. Four were hanged, and all eight were later pardoned by the governor of Illinois. The eight men are referred to as the Haymarket Martyrs and on May 1 in countries all around the world — as diverse as South Africa, Australia, India, Scotland, Mexico and Sweden — organized labor recognizes, celebrates and honors the Chicago Martyrs.

But we are denied an important part of our heritage by not celebrating May Day. We can be grateful that another generation of immigrant workers, demanding their rights, should have reminded us of that fact. Now we can all move to reclaim what is collectively ours.

Jim Moran

Philadelphia PA

Jim Moran is a board member of the Penn. Labor History Society. For more info: www.MaydayUSA.org.

May 1 greetings

The world’s capitalist economy is in crisis. This is the end of an economic cycle where the capitalists have plundered working families. Now the capitalists are finding growing difficulties for going on with that plunder and increasing their profit rate. Some people are wondering: if almost everything has been stolen from us, is it possible that they can steal even more? The answer is yes, it is possible. That is because if any difficulty appears in the bank accounts of the rich, the international financial bodies come into action: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, etc. These are a true gang of international robbers who manage the world’s economy to guarantee that the rich can be richer.

In order to clear up any doubts about the dimension of the huge robbery and plunder of the working classes, we can take a look at last year’s profits from the main Spanish companies which are at historic records and in the billions of euros.

Those billions come directly from the work of the working classes and from the plunder of economies and raw materials of developing countries. On the other hand, the economies of the working families in advanced capitalist countries are getting worse month after month.

Our future is on our hands. The future depends on our capacity for struggling. And we know that when we struggle, we win.

Quim Box

Madrid, Spain
Quim Box is international secretary of the Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain.

Knowing Debs

Much enjoyed Tim Pelzer’s article reviewing “The Eugene V. Debs Reader: Socialism and the Class Struggle” (PWW 4/12-18). It is certainly time more people paid attention to those like Debs, and the debates that they were part of.

However, I must point out that there was no such organization as the “International Workers of the World.” I suspect that you refer to the IWW or Industrial Workers of the World. We may have made some mistakes but certainly verbal redundancy of this kind was not one of them. Nor were we ever “anarchist led.”

Certainly as an organization that recruited on the basis of class position rather than ideological affiliation we certainly had our share of anarchists as members, and still do. I think it also fair to say that there was a certain resonance between the IWW and various anarcho-syndicalist groupings in Europe with an exchange of ideas taking place. That is, however, about as far as it went.

Miek

Albany, Australia

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