What about Unemployment Councils? – Proposal from Rosanna Cambron and Joe Sims, Co Chairpersons of CPUSA

May 13, 2010

We’re reaching out to comrades and friends all over the country to join in building a united campaign against unemployment. Until it’s safe to work we need income and when it’s safe we demand sustainable jobs with a Green New Deal!

The time has come to organize unemployment councils that would bring together labor and community groups to fight the economic crisis. 

If you want to help out, please pledge to do so!  Pledging means that you’ll help out in any way you can: circulating articles PW (peoplesword.org), sharing memes, joining a car caravan, making a phone call, helping a comrade or friend in need. It can also mean you are able help build a coalition to fight this crisis as it is affecting people at the local level. 

Can you sign and circulate this pledge? That’s one place to start! This issue, along with the November election, may be the most important struggle of our lives!!

The following is background information relating to the proposal offered here. The Unemployment Councils of the USA represent a nationwide initiative taken by the CPUSA in 1930 in response to widespread and growing suffering among working people everywhere. Unemployment that year exceeded 25 percent of the workforce.

Forbes Magazine – not one bit left-leaning – on May 10 said that, “the adjusted unemployment rate is really closer to 20 percent.” In other words, we are returning to 1930. 

How did unemployment councils work? We reproduce the introductory section of a 20-page document from 1932 that outlines purposes and methods. It was published as a mimeographed pamphlet.  

The title is:“Fighting Methods and Organization Forms of the Unemployed Councils: A Manual for Hunger Fighters.”  

Role and Program of the Unemployed Councils.

The Unemployed Councils base their program on a recognition of the fact that those who own and control the wealth and government are willing to allow millions to suffer hunger and want in order that their great wealth shall not be drawn upon for relief. We know that the living standards of employed and unemployed alike will be progressively reduced unless we organize and conduct united and militant resistance. We know that the amount and extent of relief which the ruling class can be compelled to provide depends upon the extent to which the unemployed and employed workers together organize and fight. The Unemployed Councils, therefore, are the organs for determined, uncompromising struggle against all who are responsible for and all who assist in imposing upon the workers the miseries that result from mass unemployment.

In the effort to safeguard the masses from the effects of unemployment, the Unemployed Councils organize and conduct the daily struggles for the following basic demands:

For Unemployment Insurance, Equal to Full Wages, For All Workers, Regardless of Race, Sex, Age, or Nationality Who Are Unemployed Through No Fault of Their Own. Unemployment insurance shall be entirely at the expense of the Federal and State governments and the employers. It shall be administered by the workers themselves.

For Immediate Adequate Cash Relief by the City, County, State and Federal Governments.

The struggle for immediate cash relief is also conducted against existing public and semi-public relief agencies and against individual and corporate large employers.

Free Rent, Gas, Light, Water, etc., to All Unemployed Workers. Reduced Rates and Rents for All Part Time Workers. 

No Evictions, Foreclosures, and Repossessions for Unemployed.

We refuse to regard the property rights of landlords, bankers, credit merchants, and public utility corporations as more sacred than the right of workers to a home and to belongings which they toiled for years to acquire

The rest of this revealing document may be read here: http://www.marxisthistory.org/history/usa/groups/ucouncils/1932/0000-ncuc-fightingmethods.pdf

We conclude this note on unemployment councils by urging readers to look at Bruce Bostick’s article “Is it time to think about Unemployed Councils?” It appeared in People’s World on April 24.  Bostick begins: 

“Unemployed Councils cropped up across the country in the 1930s during the Great Depression and again in the 1980s after the mass layoffs in the steel industry. I was a part of the effort to start up such a council in Lorain, Ohio.

“Our Lorain Communist Party club played the key role in establishing and running a storefront coalition grouping, the Unemployed Crisis Center, that won benefits for workers and positively affected how organized labor and public officials treated the unemployed. We were able to concretely help thousands of unemployed workers and, as a side benefit, we recruited new folks to the CPUSA. …” 

Surviving COVID-19 in Vietnam, the ‘safest place in the world’ – Amiad Horowitz- April 30th, 2020

https://peoplesworld.org/article/surviving-covid-19-in-vietnam-the-safest-place-in-the-world/Hanoi – Helicopters hovering over rice paddies, burning villages, and the sound of gunfire are the images many older Americans conjure when they hear the word Vietnam. Hollywood provides grist for our imagination about this country. For younger people, if they think of Vietnam at all, their images are those of a poor, developing country or elderly women wearing their nón lá (the traditional conical hat) and bicycling through the countryside.

As an American living in Vietnam, many friends and family in the United States have been worried about my safety during the current global pandemic. I’ve received calls and messages asking about the situation here. All are surprised when I tell them that I’m thankful to be in the safest place in the world. Their question is always, “How could that be?”

After all, Vietnam shares a long land border with China—Ground Zero for the pandemic. They don’t understand how a “poor” nation like Vietnam can be effectively handling this global crisis while rich and powerful nations in the West are facing their most crippling disaster since World War II.

The answer is a simple one. The Vietnamese government and the Vietnamese people have made stopping the spread of the virus their number one priority from day one. Everything else comes second.

COVID-19 began to spread just as millions of Vietnamese were getting on planes to return home from celebrating Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Immediately, the government began to take visible action. Schools remained closed as families returned home. Signs appeared around the city, and announcements were made on the news asking that anyone who had been to Wuhan contact the Ministry of Health to be tested for infection. The government launched a website and mobile app for people to report their travel history and current health situation.

 A health worker in protective gear talks to a man as she gives him his COVID-19 test result at a testing facility in Hanoi, Vietnam on Mar.31. | Hau Dinh / AP 

Public health services also immediately ramped up. Anyone that checked into a hotel or went to a medical facility was handed a health declaration and had their temperature taken. At the entrance to supermarkets, people had their temperature taken and recorded before shopping. Whenever someone was found to be infected, regardless of their symptoms, they were immediately hospitalized, their neighborhood was quarantined, and the government contacted anyone that person had been in contact with and placed them under medical observation. Notably, the medical expenses of all Vietnamese citizens were covered by the government, and anyone in quarantine was given fresh food daily for free. Free masks and hand sanitizer were available throughout the country.

Citizens and businesses took their own steps to fight the spread of the virus. Corporations set up free supermarkets for the needy. A pseudo-ATM machine that freely distributes rice was invented, and units were installed around the country. As the virus progressed and the response grew, people volunteered to go to quarantine camps to help translate between medical officials and any foreigner that found themselves under medical observation. Other citizens made face masks at home and gave them away for free.

The government told the Vietnamese people that they all needed to be soldiers to win the war against COVID-19. It was clear from the beginning that citizens answered the call to mobilize as all Vietnamese, rich and poor, stepped up to help.

By all measures, three months into this war, Vietnam has been among the most successful countries in the world, if not the most successful, in the fight against COVID-19. Meanwhile, the United States, the richest and most powerful country in the world, struggles to provide even basic protective medical equipment to its medical professionals and has yet to institute an effective and comprehensive testing regimen for its citizens. As an American living in Vietnam, I cannot help but notice this juxtaposition and its lessons.

 A poster used in a campaign to promote social distancing. The main line reads: “Staying at home is loving the country.” | Image courtesy of the artist, Le Duc Hiep 

Every student in Vietnam studies what’s called “Ho Chi Minh Thought,” the country’s national ideology, which is named for the leader of the country’s decades-long struggle for national liberation. In 1958, in the midst of that fight for independence and re-unification, Ho expressed what has become a central aspect of the moral and ethical code in the country: “… one must rely…on the force of the collective, of society, in all undertakings. More than ever, the individual cannot stand apart but must join the collective, join society.” For the good of society, individuals must be willing to make some sacrifices. It is this lesson that has made Vietnam particularly well-suited to win the war against COVID-19.

It is also this lesson that stands in direct contrast to everything we are taught in the United States. In the United States, the “economy” (a word usually used as a synonym for “stock market”) comes before all else. The “individual” comes second. This is why cable news stations are full of interviews with the rich and powerful saying that average people should be sent back to work even if it endangers their lives. The economy comes first.

Powerful people like Dan Patrick, the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Texas, and celebrity Dr. Phil, go on television and tell people that their individual freedom is being assaulted. Even more, they should be willing to die for the economy. Unfortunately, many people hear this message, and it resonates. It reminds them of what they have always been told makes America great. America is great because it is rich and its citizens are free because they have the freedom to work to make money for their bosses. Now, the streets of many cities have seen a smattering of protesters risking illness and death, fighting against their own best interests, and demanding to serve the powerful.

This war is not yet over. Despite Vietnam’s great success so far in stopping the spread of the virus and keeping the number of fatalities at zero, the government and the people know that they need to remain vigilant. Everyone is prepared to do what needs to be done to win. Meanwhile, in the United States, the population has suffered more deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic than American combat deaths in the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, or even World War I. If Americans choose to look around the world to see what can be done to end this pandemic, Vietnam and its people have set the example.

Original article: https://peoplesworld.org/article/surviving-covid-19-in-vietnam-the-safest-place-in-the-world/

For Cuba and Venezuela, US Silence May Not Be Golden – W.T. Whitney – May 16th, 2020

The U. S. President and his Secretary of State frequently expound about the supposed failings of enemies abroad. Recently they’ve blasted China’s response to the pandemic, Venezuela’s dictatorship, Cuba’s “slave doctors” overseas, and even Iranian border guards beating up on Afghan migrants. But they’ve been mostly silent about two recent disruptions of the imperialist status quo.

Firing his AK-47 automatic rifle, an apparently mentally-ill Cuban émigré on April 30 caused serious damage to the Embassy building and the bronze stature of Cuban national hero Jose Marti. The only peep of official reaction came from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.  Charge daffaires Mara Tekach stated that, “the U.S. Embassy condemns the shooting” and “the United States takes its Vienna Convention responsibilities very seriously.”  

Her reference was to the multi-lateral United Nations agreement of 1961 that converted national customs into international norms for conducting diplomatic relations. The requirement emerged for host governments to protect the envoys of enemy countries and to respect “the inviolability of mission premises.” 

Assailant Alexander Alazo told investigators that if Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas had appeared at the door, he would have killed him. There were no injuries.  Washington authorities detained the shooter and charged him with assault with intent to kill and possession of an unregistered firearm. The incident was characterized as a hate crime. That it was: generations of U.S. politicians and Cuban – American political leaders have been railing against Cuba.  

Ambassador Cabañas declared that, “Neither State Department officials nor the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued even one formal public condemnation of the attack.” Instead, “the Secretary inveighed against the Cuban medical brigades that today are offering assistance in dozens of countries in the world.” 

At a press conference May 13, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez blamed the U.S. government for “complicit silence” in regard to “a grave terrorist attack” and for using “hate speech” that is a “permanent instigation to violence.”  

Rodríguez mentioned the accused shooter’s attendance at the Doral Jesus Worship Center in Florida. Frank López, the pastor there, is friendly toward “Senator Mark Rubio … and other known extremist figures.” Plus, the “U.S. Vice President … recently visited that church,” and in 2019 gave a speech there “openly hostile to Cuba.”  

Clearly, the U. S. blind eye toward Cuban-American paramilitary conspiracies, the U.S. turn to germ warfare, and a U.S. economic blockade directed at causing human misery are all manifestations of hatred. That’s so also with the impunity awarded arch-conspirators like Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch.

Cuba’s representatives serving abroad are no strangers to hatred manifesting as terrorism. A recent historical survey provided by Cuba’s security services cites: “83 attacks against Cuban embassies throughout the world and 29 attacks against Cuban diplomats with eight deaths as the result of terrorism encouraged, financed, or allowed by Washington.” 

Another mission of hate and terror emerged on May 3-4; a small invasion force of mainly Venezuelan Army deserters attempted to invade Venezuela from the sea. As with the Embassy affair, U.S. leaders said very little.

Venezuela’s Army and civilian militia quickly finished off the expedition, which had departed from northeastern Colombia. One of their number, a former U.S. Special Forces soldier, told his captors that the purpose of the force had been to seize President Nicolas Maduro and take him to the United States. Florida-based company Silvercorps USA had charge of the operation. 

The company’s owner is U.S. Special Forces veteran Jordan Goudreau.

Goudreau had recruited former Green Berets to supervise the training of the dissident Venezuelan troops. Two of them are now prisoners in Venezuela.  

Venezuelan opposition figures had contracted with Goudreau and Silvercorps USA to carry out the invasion. A contract worth $212.9 million was signed in an expensive condo in Miami. Venezuelan oil resources stolen by the U.S. government served as guarantee for the transaction.  

U.S. leaders said little about the assault. Secretary of State Pompeo indicated that, if necessary, “We will use every tool that we have” to retrieve the two captured U.S. mercenaries. President Trump remarked only that he “wouldn’t send a small, little group. No, no, no. It would be called an army. It would be called an invasion.”  

Trump might have remained totally silent in view of his personal connection with Silvercorps USA.  President Maduro on May 4 declared that two of the Silvercorps invaders were “members of the security team of the president of the United States.” Goudreau reportedly “worked as security at Trump rallies” – one in Charlotte, NC , for example – and “Silvercorp USA also apparently provided security for a Trump rally in Houston.” 

According to the company’s website, “We provide governments and corporations with realistic and timely solutions to irregular problems.” Jordan Goudreau has “planned and led international security teams for the president of the United States as well as the secretary of defense.” 

A mix of nefarious connections, hatred, and terrorism contributed to these irregular attacks on Cuba and Venezuela. Such material does not lend itself to official pronouncements. That nothing is said about the incentive for the two actions also makes sense.

Cuba and Venezuela put people and people’s basic needs first. They exemplify an alternative to U.S. purposes. Those in charge in Washington, imperialists to the core, seek to preserve the profiteering, market-based political and economic system that holds most of the world in its grip. Employing terrorism and military aggression, they stop at nothing.