Friday, July 02, 2010

Historic Gathering in Detroit at USSF Advances Anti-Capitalist Outlook

2010 U.S. Social Forum in Detroit

Historic gathering advances anti-capitalist outlook

By Betsey Piette
Published Jun 30, 2010 5:59 PM

More than its predecessor in Atlanta in 2007, the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit June 22-26 reflected the growing awareness that although the struggles at home and internationally have many fronts, they share a common enemy — capitalism.

The growing need to unite in an anti-capitalist movement brought an estimated 20,000 people to Detroit from all over the U.S. and around the world. Overwhelmingly these forces were youth, people of color, women, workers and the oppressed.

USSF participants had over 1,000 workshops to choose from, which featured such issues as the crisis of capitalism; climate justice and sustainable resources; displacement and migration; political repression and the prison industry; organizing efforts for labor; international struggles; housing, education and health care; racism and gender equality; culture; and political movements on the left, as well as how to deal with the right wing.

Workshops also addressed solutions, ranging from the struggle for more democratic rights to the fight to build a socialist world, with examples of how this is being done in Latin America, notably in Cuba and Venezuela.

Many of these workshops were organized and led by students and youth, and the broad representation of people of color was evident throughout daily events.

Detroit: Devastated but gracious host

Several workshops offered the opportunity to learn about the struggles against foreclosures and plant closings in Detroit from organizations leading these movements like the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs.

Tours of Detroit’s abandoned and vandalized neighborhoods caused by epidemic foreclosures and evictions were organized, although just a drive down Woodward Avenue exposed many empty lots as well as vacant and boarded-up apartment buildings and churches. Several USSF-goers stayed at the St. Regis Hotel, which offered discounted rates, only to learn that this historic building is also facing foreclosure. Detroiters whom delegates met expressed their appreciation for the attention the Social Forum brought to their devastated city.

Special thanks should be extended to the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, whose members staffed the USSF office and handled many organizing tasks. Congratulations to Maureen Taylor and Marian Kramer, leaders of this organization, for their hard work in pulling off this dynamic event.

Words and deeds, solidarity

Those attending the social forum could, in addition to workshops, take part in People’s Movement Assemblies organized around geographic regions as well as broader struggles for economic and social justice. The theme-focused PMAs drew large numbers of participants and went into depth on issues, including strategizing around tactics for movement building. Some led to direct actions during the USSF.

Plenary sessions designed to bring together everyone attending the forum were held in the evenings in a cavernous space in Cobo Hall. The sessions started June 23 with a focus on movements in Detroit as the epicenter of the economic crisis. “From National to International” was the theme of the June 24 plenary, which covered the effects of neoliberal policies at home and abroad.

The final evening plenary on June 25 featured speakers addressing alternative solutions. A highlight of this panel was the address by Amenothep Zambrano, Executive Secretary of the ALBA Permanent Commission, who presented a comprehensive explanation of why capitalism only leads to more economic and social crises and why movements to build socialism such as the ones taking place today in Venezuela and throughout Latin America offer a viable alternative. (ALBA is the Spanish acronym for the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas.)

The Social Forum also included direct actions. In addition to the spirited opening day “We Have a Dream” workers’ march and rally on June 22, restaurant workers at the Andiamo Restaurant and their supporters organized an action in Dearborn on June 24 to demand $125,000 in stolen wages and just treatment on the job for the mostly immigrant workforce.

On June 25 a demonstration organized by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and the Spirituality and Religious PMA drew 1,000 protesters. They marched to a Chase bank to link the struggles against evictions and foreclosures in Detroit with the fight of migrant workers at R.J. Reynolds in North Carolina, where Chase is Reynolds’ bank.

On June 26 at a rally called by the Zero Waste Detroit Coalition and organized through the Environmental Justice PMA, several hundred people gathered at the Detroit Public Library for a march to the world’s largest incinerator. This polluting monstrosity, owned by Covanta, is located in a residential neighborhood across from a public school. Participants included residents, environmental activists, union members and youth, many carrying eight-foot sunflowers with slogans reading “Clean air,” “Good jobs” and “Justice for all.”

Throughout the five-day gathering, participants also attended cultural performances, movies and social gatherings, including massive impromptu dance parties, and they browsed at literature and book tables where lively discussions were held.

The 2010 U.S. Social Forum was an important step in uniting and defining the movement needed for the workers and oppressed to successfully fight against capitalism. It will stand as an historic event in building that movement.
Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Page printed from:

Workers World Party, FIST activists, friends mobilize for USSF

By Kris Hamel
Published Jun 30, 2010 5:52 PM

Members and friends of Workers World Party and the youth organization Fight Imperialism, Stand Together carried out a bold intervention in the name of revolutionary socialism during the United States Social Forum held in Detroit June 22-26.

Comrades and friends of WWP and FIST activists from Detroit and other Michigan cities were joined by dozens of WWP and/or FIST members from around the country, including California, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The goal was to make a major push for uniting around the need to overturn capitalism and fight for socialism and to join Workers World Party and FIST if you really want to change the system. Thousands of radical youth and activists of all ages from around the U.S. and the world heard and agreed with WWP’s message and eagerly took revolutionary literature and information.

The WWP contingent could be seen in yellow T-shirts emblazoned with the likeness of assassinated revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and the slogan “Fight for Socialism/Lucha por Socialismo/Workers World Party/Partido Mundo Obrero/” The shirts were also sold to help raise funds for the organizing effort.

More than 2,500 copies of Workers World newspaper were sold or distributed during the five-day event, and dozens of trial subscriptions were sold. A front-page article by Abayomi Azikiwe about the crisis in Detroit, with the main headline “Abolish Racism, Capitalism,” and a WWP statement “Fight for Socialism” made the issue especially attractive to USSF participants. Activists also distributed 1,600 copies and sold subscriptions to Left Hook, FIST’s quarterly newspaper.

The table was stocked with dozens of revolutionary and progressive titles and attracted a steady stream of visitors throughout the conference. It was organized and staffed primarily by Atlanta WWP and International Action Center organizer Dianne Mathiowetz.

WWP, along with its mass affiliates and related organizations, hosted and spoke at many workshops and discussions during the USSF. They included three well-attended workshops by the Detroit-based Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs; “Creating 30 Million Jobs” by the Bail Out the People Movement; “Youth and Students to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal” organized by FIST and International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; “Capitalism Is Killing Us — Fight For Socialism!” by WWP and FIST; “Stopping War, Fighting for Jobs” by the International Action Center; and “Fight for Education Rights” co-sponsored by FIST and Students for a Democratic Society.

WWP organizers and friends played a major role in the June 25 march and rally at Chase Bank, due in large part to the work and reputation of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, which has helped pull together religious and labor leaders in support of a moratorium on foreclosures. The coalition had speakers at both the opening and the closing rallies.

Staffers at the Workers World table in the main hall at Cobo Conference Center said they were struck by how activists are fighting back in every city to defend people’s rights. “Many clearly have an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist perspective,” said WWP leader Jerry Goldberg. “There was tremendous openness to Workers World newspaper and to discussing socialism. Hundreds signed up on the party’s mailing list, and many people were interested in party conferences in the fall.”

Hundreds of activists took palm cards about the Nov. 12-14 WWP national conference in New York. Regional conferences in Chicago and Los Angeles are also in the works.
Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Page printed from:

No comments: