New York City, New York - In 1954 I attended Queens College during the years before Senator Joseph McCarthy finally met his comeuppance at the Army-McCarthy hearings after terrorizing Americans for years with accusations of disloyal communists, waving lists of blacklisted citizens, threatening their lives, their employment, their ability to function in society because of their political affiliations. In the college cafeteria, we were discussing politics when one student thrust a yellow pamphlet into my hands. “Here you should read this.” I glanced at the title. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the words “Communist Party of America.” I hastily stuffed it unopened into my bookbag, took the bus home, rode the elevator to the 8th floor, walked directly to the incinerator, and tossed the pamphlet down the chute, unread, before I entered my apartment.
It has now been over a month since Vladimir Putin ordered Russian military forces to invade Ukraine. In this short amount of time, a tidal wave of sentimental gush has emerged from Western countries that has glossed over even the most modest criticism of the Ukrainian government while vilifying Putin and his country to an extent that is increasingly trespassing into the realm of the absurd. This narrative, disseminated by Washington, its allies, and its minions in the corporate-owned media, has been so predictable as to be bordering on self-parody, with some going so far as to draw parallels between Putin and Adolf Hitler. In the wake of this flagrantly one-sided presentation of the conflict, Russia has been subjected to sanctions from the US and its allies, the withdrawal of multiple major corporations from Russian soil, and a series of boycotts by a cornucopia of universities, NGOS and social media companies.
On Sunday, March 6, the Ukrainian security services arrested Mikhail Kononovich and his brother Aleksandr Kononovich. Both are from the leadership of the Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine (LKSMU). The press service of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) stated on Sunday that the Kononovich brothers were arrested from capital Kiev and put in jail. The SBU has accused them of being propagandists with pro-Russian and pro-Belarusian views with the goal of destabilizing the internal situation in Ukraine and create the “necessary information picture” for Russian and Belarusian channels. The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) denounced the arrest of the LKSMU leaders in Ukraine and urged progressive youth groups across the world to mobilize to demand for their freedom as their lives are in serious danger in the custody of the security forces.
Bittersweet is the passage of this year. There have been some immense victories and some catastrophic defeats, the most terrible being the failure of the Global North countries to adopt a democratic attitude towards confronting the COVID-19 pandemic and creating equitable access to key resources, from life-saving medical equipment to vaccines. Tragically, by the end of this pandemic, we will have learnt the Greek alphabet from the variants named after its letters (Delta, Omicron), which continue to emerge. Cuba leads the world with the highest vaccination rates, using its indigenous vaccines to protect its population as well as those of countries from Venezuela to Vietnam, following a long history of medical solidarity.
Javiera Reyes, who is 31 years old, is the new mayor of the Santiago municipality of Lo Espejo in Chile. “I grew up in a home where [former President of Chile] Salvador Allende was always the good guy,” she told us, “and [military dictator] Augusto Pinochet was a tyrant. That marked my life.” Reyes’ comment reflects the old divides that have convulsed Chile’s politics since General Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’état against former President Salvador Allende of the Popular Unity coalition on September 11, 1973. Almost 50 years have gone by and yet Chile is still influenced by the legacy of that coup and of the Pinochet dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 to 1990. The May 2021 election that propelled Reyes to the mayor’s office in Lo Espejo also voted in a new Constitutional Convention to rewrite the Pinochet-era Constitution of 1980.
As we think, again, about the role of organized labor in the long Black freedom struggle, it is worth noting that in India at this very moment 250 million farmers, workers, students and allies have joined in what had been a three-month long protest against the Modi government’s neoliberal agricultural policies. The new parliamentary bills essentially eliminate state-run regulated agricultural markets, and allow direct transactions between farmers and private corporate interests — namely international commodity traders and conglomerates such as Walmart and Cargill. The new arrangements will destroy small farmers and force those who survive to enter into contracts with corporate global seed and agrochemical suppliers, traders, distributors and retail concerns.
Greensborough, NC - Public accountability for their actions often awaits evildoers who hurt people. For many who spilled onto the streets in a mood of relief, jubilation and celebration at the election news of a soon-to-be outgoing president, a day of reckoning for the nation had come. Only weeks earlier, a Southern city cautiously enacted its overdue moral reckoning with an apology for a massacre. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous proclamation, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” is an applicable lens for these events. On November 3, 1979, in Greensboro, North Carolina, at approximately 11:20 on a bright Saturday morning, nine carloads of Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis drove into the...
‘It was the worst when I was released. That’s the biggest prison I had to face’. Martin Aleida recalls the moment he was released from prison at the end of 1966. The then twenty-two-year-old writer emerged from nearly a year behind bars to Jakarta unable to find his friends and comrades. His workplace, Harian Rakjat (‘The People’s Daily’), the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), was no longer.
I am a combat veteran with the First Ranger Battalion, a recent graduate of West Point and a former second lieutenant who was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y. Since identifying myself as a socialist, there has been much controversy generated by a number of my public statements. It began with my post on social media, in which I expressed my full and enthusiastic support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his fight against racial injustice, white supremacy and police brutality. After revealing a picture of myself in uniform with the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick, I was met by solidarity from my fellow soldiers, as well as harsh blowback from my chain of command. To this day, I stand by my convictions, despite the efforts of ranking officers to pressure me into silence. I believe that standing up for the exploited and the oppressed is the most honorable thing we can do as people.
By any measure, black tobacco workers in 1940s Winston-Salem, North Carolina were down at the bottom of the social hierarchy. They endured severe voting restrictions and segregated accommodations in public, all-powerful bosses and racist job assignments at work, and deplorable living conditions at home. America could trumpet its democratic commitments all it wanted — these workers’ lives were shot through with despotism. In Civil Rights Unionism — originally released in 2003 and excerpted below — historian Robert Korstad tells the story of how these workers were able to change their conditions. After an explosion of shop-floor activism, the predominately black workforce successfully unionized the most powerful corporation in the city, R. J. Reynolds.
As Cuban President Raúl Castro stepped down from office today, Cuba is expected to enter a period of dramatic change. Eager to witness the final days of the nearly six decades of Castro rule in Cuba, my son and I recently visited the island nation. We were provided a view of a communist country marked by profound continuities and changes in Cuban culture, the arts, and technology. We arrived on February 20, while a Congressional delegation headed by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont was there meeting with Castro, Cuban ministers, entrepreneurs, and ambassadors from several foreign countries.
I objected that I had no background in academic research and publishing. Waters and Sheppard countered that given my grasp of history in that period, my knowledge of the three main translation languages, and my experience as a socialist activist attempting to implement the Comintern’s ideas, I was the obvious choice. I accepted the challenge and took charge of the project. It has taken a good deal more than a decade. Along the way, Pathfinder has been replaced as publisher by Historical Materialism Book Series and Haymarket Books. Nine documentary books have now gone to press, totaling 6,500 pages, and another is in preparation. (See list of volumes below.) More than 100 collaborators have helped in various ways to produce them.