Marge Piercy’s Silly War / by Chris McKinnon

Marge Piercy | Source:

Marge Piercy is an award-winning author of twenty books of poetry, eighteen novels, and works of non-fiction, including memoir and autobiography. Economic democracy and social justice are central themes in her work. Race, class, and environmentalism are woven into that framework. Her literary creativity, informed by her own sustained engagement with feminism, leans intelligently into the lives of working-class women.

Marge Piercy | Source:

Born in Detroit in 1936, Piercy’s world view is shaped by her Jewish heritage, working-class context, and the impact of the Great Depression on her family and community. Her maternal grandfather, Morris, was a labor organizer. Her maternal grandmother, Hannah, an adored storyteller, was born in a small Lithuanian village.

Much of Piercy’s poetry is written in quick free verse. But it betrays the serious, life-long commitment, of a champion of the people and the planet, over profit and power.

She was the first in her family to attend college, winning a scholarship to the University of Michigan, before earning an MA from Northwestern University.

Marge Piercy lives in a house of her own design, in Wellfleet, Massachusetts with her husband, Ira Wood.

The Silly War

Government officials, police,
media rant against legalizing
pot. Opiates were handed out
by doctors like Halloween candy.
Now we live with those deaths.

Police say pot’ll cause accidents.
Yet alcohol is legal most places.
Hasn’t anyone noticed that making
guns accessible to angry crazies
selling assault rifles to teenagers

and fanatics kills folks every day—
just shopping, going to the movies,
concerts, church, synagogue can
earn you bullets from strangers.
Those same legislators love

guns of any size and shape.
They’re as ignorant about pot
as about critical race theory.
Do they even get the difference
between THC and CBD?

I wonder, do they have any idea
what their children are vaping?

[Published in Monthly Review on April 1, 2023]

Chris McKinnon has been a day-laborer, librarian, and addictions counselor. He is retired and currently lives in central Maine with his wife, Maryanne and their beloved Aussie-Samoyed, Sally.

Women hold up 76.2% of the sky / by Vijay Prashad

Billie Zangewa (Malawi), Ma Vie En Rose, 2015.

Originally published: Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research on April 6, 2023

There is no need to delve too deeply into statistical data when the findings are obvious. For instance, when women and men work at the same job, women are paid—on average—20 percent less than men. To raise awareness about this persistent disparity, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Nations Women host the International Equal Pay Day every year on 18 September and, through their Equal Pay International Coalition, lobby corporations and governments to close the yawning gender pay gap. The idea of ‘equal pay for equal work’ was established in the ILO’s Equal Remuneration Convention (1951) in recognition of the fact that women had always worked in industrial factories, increasingly so during the Second World War. The convention adopted ‘the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value’, yet governments and the private sector have refused to follow suit.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an intensified focus on the health care sector, including health care workers, who were applauded universally as ‘essential workers’. In March 2021, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research published a dossierUncovering the Crisis: Care Work in the Time of Coronavirus, which reflected the views of women workers in the health care industry. Janet Mendieta of the Argentine Workers’ Central Union reflected on this idea of ‘essential work’:

First, they should recognise that we are essential workers, and then we should be recognised with wages for our work because we work much more than we should have to. We do a lot of work promoting gender equality and health, we work as cooks in canteens and in eateries, and none of this is recognised or made visible. If it isn’t made visible, it certainly won’t be recognised or remunerated.

| ALBA Movimientos is called Chrysalises Feminist Memories from Latin America and the Caribbean | MR Online

None of this is recognised, she said, neither during the height of the pandemic nor as we begin to drift out of it. In 2018, the ILO published an important reportCare Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work, that estimated that the value of unpaid care and domestic work amounts to 9 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or $11 trillion. In some countries the value is far higher, such as in Australia, where unpaid care and domestic work amounts to 41.3 percent of the GDP. Based on time-use survey data collected in 64 countries, the report found that 16.4 billion hours are spent on unpaid care work every day, with 76.2 percent of the total hours of unpaid care work carried out by women. In other words, the daily unpaid care work of women around the world is equivalent to having over 1.5 billion women working eight hours a day for no pay.

In July 2022, the ILO and World Health Organisation published another report on the pay gap, this time with an emphasis on the health care sector. Their reportThe Gender Pay Gap in the Health and Care Sector: A Global Analysis in the Time of COVID-19, established that, in the health and care sector, women earn on average up to 24 percent less than men. Despite women accounting for 67 percent of the jobs in this sector, only a small number of them work in upper management, and the gap between the wages of hospital administrators and nurses, for instance, only grows wider each year.

The report offers a number of explanations for this pay gap. Among them, it argues that women are paid less due to the ‘lower pay associated with highly feminised sectors and occupations’. Health care fields such as nursing are paid less than others not because of objectively lower skill levels, but due to their association with ‘women’s work’, which is routinely less valued across the world. Furthermore, the report points out that there is a ‘motherhood gap’ in pay, not often talked about but visible in statistical data and in the demands made by health care workers’ unions. There are low levels of part-time work in the health care industry, except for women in their late twenties and into their thirties, when, the report notes, ‘women have to either leave the labour market or reduce their working hours in order to balance work with unpaid caregiving for offspring’. When women leave the industry and return later or opt for part-time work, they do not get the promotions and wage raises that their male counterparts receive and therefore spend the rest of their work lives with lower wages than men who do the same work.

Bu Hua (China), Brave Diligent, 2014.

Women have fought against these social conditions for hundreds of years, and it was struggles led by women that established many of the international conventions on labour and on human rights. At Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, we have been lifting up the stories of such struggles and the women who have led them. One of our latest publications, produced in collaboration with ALBA Movimientos, is called Chrysalises: Feminist Memories from Latin America and the Caribbean. Here, we shine a light on Nicaragua’s Arlen Siu (1955—1975), Brazil’s Dona Nina (b. 1949), and the Bartolina Sisa National Confederation of Peasant Women of Bolivia (whose members are known as Las Bartolinas), founded in 1980. Each of these women and their organisations have been part of the global fight against the wretched social conditions of inequality.

It is women like Arlen, Dona Nina, and Las Bartolinas who drafted the World March of Women’s demands for economic autonomy. This week’s newsletter ends with their words, as they call for:

  • The rights of all workers (including vulnerable workers, such as domestic and migrant workers) to employment with safe and healthy working conditions, without harassment and in which their dignity is respected, throughout the world and without discriminations (nationality, sex, disability, etc.) of any kind.
  • The right to social security, involving income transfers in the case of sickness, disability, maternity and paternity leave, and retirement that permit women and men to have a decent quality of life.
  • Equal salaries for equal work for women and men, also taking into account the remuneration of work in rural areas.
  • A fair minimum wage (one that reduces the difference between the highest and lowest salaries and permits workers to support themselves and their families) instituted by law that serves as a reference for all paid work (public and private) and public social payments. The creation or strengthening of a policy of permanent valorisation of the minimum wage and common values for sub-regions or regions.
  • The strengthening of the solidarity economy with low interest credit, support for distribution and commercialisation, and exchange of local knowledge and practices.
  • Women’s access to land, seeds, water, primary materials, and all necessary support for production and commercialisation in agriculture, fishing, livestock rearing, and handicraft.
  • The reorganisation of domestic and care work so that the responsibility for this work is shared equally between men and women within a family or community. For this to become a reality, we demand the adoption of public policies for the support of social reproduction (such as crèches, collective laundries and restaurants, care for the elderly, etc), as well as a reduction in working hours without cuts in salaries.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and (with Noam Chomsky) The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.

FBI wants to put me on trial for fighting for Black freedom: Instead put the colonizer State on trial! / by Omali Yeshitela


Originally published: CovertAction Magazine  on January 21, 2023

There are strong indications that in early 2023, I, Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, founder of the Uhuru (“Freedom”) Movement, will be indicted, along with other Uhuru leaders and members, by the federal government of the United States.

Omali Yeshitela speaking before crowd in late 1960s. [Source:]

Using the bogus and slanderous charge that we are “Russian agents,” the U.S. government and its “Department of Justice” will attempt to put us on trial and imprison us for fighting for the liberation of African people in the U.S. and around the world.

But they will fail. We will win.

I am 81 years old. My political work for the last 60 years or so is influenced by the fact that in my entire life I have not known a single day when my people were not experiencing oppression, exploitation and humiliation. For most of my life, I have worked to build the movement for freedom for black people in the U.S. and around the world, most significantly beginning with my work as an organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s.

Since 1972 I have organized and led the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement, a worldwide organization fighting for the self-determination of African people everywhere. Our organizational presence extends to nearly every continent. We exist throughout the U.S., Europe, the U.K., Africa, and the Caribbean.

Scene from military-style raid outside Omali Yeshitela’s home on July 29, 2022. [Photo: Burning Spear Media]

Our Party presides over more than fifty institutions of economic development and self-reliance for the African community including numerous projects in north St. Louis, Missouri known as the Black Power Blueprint.

On July 29th of 2022, the FBI violently and militarily raided my home in north St. Louis, Missouri where I live with my wife, the Deputy Chair of the African People’s Socialist Party, Ona Zené Yeshitela, along with six other homes and offices of Uhuru Movement leaders. See CAM’s coverage of the raid here.

Now the U.S. government is attempting to discredit our righteous struggle to free our people from the perpetual immiseration we face in this country stemming from America’s unresolved “original sin” of slavery and colonialism, a sin whose existence was given testimony by U.S. president Joseph Biden on December 15, 2022.

Their “case” against us is baseless and ridiculous. Our case against them is backed by an undeniable history of centuries of ongoing atrocities against our people and our movement by the U.S. government, who have often used the FBI and Department of Justice as their political weapons against us.


When they put us on trial, we will put them on trial.

The U.S. government must be made to explain this attack on us in light of the well-known history of COINTELPRO and other covert and overt acts of surveillance, harassment, imprisonment and/or assassination of leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, Fred Hampton and many others.

The U.S. is attempting to hide this blatant attack on black people by saying that it is an attack on Russia, not the African Liberation Movement.

How will they defend this absurd notion against the overwhelming evidence of the criminal colonial assaults by the FBI and Justice Department against African people historically, often using the specter of “the Russians” or “the Communists” as their legal cover?

This case is not about whether or not I went to Russia, or whether or not I have a position around the war in Ukraine that was the same as what the Russians had. This attack was perpetrated against us because we have always fought for the liberation of Africa and African people everywhere.

The legal statutes the U.S. will use to execute this political attack will include the so-called “Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),” which they also used in 1951 to construct their indictment of W.E.B. DuBois on nearly identical charges of working for “the Russians.”

This is selective prosecution. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other Israeli lobbying organizations are seemingly immune from prosecution under the FARA law despite their obvious public function as agents of the Israeli government. The “Foreign Agents Registration Act” is almost never enforced unless it is used as a tool against Africans and other colonized peoples.

We will raise up our supposed legal rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly, but more importantly, the government must be made to answer for their oppression and terror against black people historically.

Beginning in the 1970s, our Party laid out a strategic approach to winning the freedom for black people that included building relationships with people all around the world to support the struggle for African self-determination in the U.S.

At our First Party Congress held in Oakland, California in 1981, we received solidarity statements from organizations and governments from around the world, including FECOPES in Colombia, Casa El Salvador, the Pan African Congress of Azania (South Africa), the FSLN government from Nicaragua, the New Jewel Movement-led government of Grenada, Casa Chile, the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Argentina, the Association of Vietnamese Patriots in the U.S., and the National United Movement of Barbados.

This helps to give lie to the notion that our connection to a Russian NGO is evidence of an illicit relationship that we would have with a “foreign” power.

I traveled to Ireland more than 40 years ago to meet with the Irish Republican Socialist Party at a time when the Irish people were engaged in a struggle for their independence from British colonialism.

In 1983 The Burning Spear newspaper published an article covering how we won the Irish Republican Socialist Party to support our demand for reparations. They held a press conference with us in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The IRSP came out and said that they didn’t want any monetary donations from any Irish people in America who were not supporting the liberation struggle of black people in the U.S.

Our Party has a half-century long historical trajectory that precedes anything that the U.S. government is talking about now in terms of Russia. I was in Nicaragua representing black people after the Nicaraguan Revolution, based on our relationship with the Sandinista National Liberation Front with whom we worked closely in San Francisco leading up to their victory in 1979.

In 1982 we held the first World Tribunal for Reparations for Black People in history. We indicted the U.S. government based on international law and the right of an oppressed people to wield our own state power.

One aspect of the international law used for the Reparations Tribunal was the question of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

An international panel of judges ruled at the end of two days of testimony that the United States is guilty of genocide against African people. It took another 40 years for the United States to ratify this genocide convention, and only in a fashion that freed itself from any possible trial or repercussions.

The reason the U.S. wouldn’t ratify the Genocide Convention was because they wanted to evade responsibility for their treatment of the colonized African and Indigenous peoples in this country.

The U.S. government and the FBI’s attacks on the Uhuru Movement did not begin in 2022. It goes back decades.

In 1996 more than 300 militarily armed police attacked the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, FL, with airplanes and helicopters. They pumped the entire reserve of tear gas in the city into the Uhuru House where a mass meeting was going on following the police murder of an 18-year-old African teen. This was the same Uhuru House they just invaded and raided again on July 29.


Omali Yeshitela stands before his home and speaks to supporters after FBI raid on July 29, 2022. As I mentioned earlier, Biden himself, when he was trying to win the loyalty of our people in Africa, had to confess the “original sin” of this country: the stolen labor of African people on the stolen land of the Indigenous people, the foundation on which the United States rests.

Let’s call Biden as a witness to testify about this original sin. Let’s cross-examine him with these questions: Did the original sin ever go away? Can we explain the police murder of George Floyd by the original sin? Can we explain the attacks on the Uhuru Movement by this original sin?

After the FBI raids on seven offices and homes of the Uhuru Movement in two cities in the pre-dawn hours of July 29, 2022, there was a tremendous amount of interest, support and outrage coming from literally millions of people and organizations throughout the U.S. and the world.

Numerous organizations and individuals including St. Louis Alderman from Ward 18, Jesse Todd, Zaki Baruti, President-General of the Universal Afrikan People’s Organization, New York councilpersons Charles and Inez Barron, Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Nellie Bailey and others sent messages of support, all of which are cited on our website

But as indictments loom, now is the time to escalate the campaign to mobilize massive public support for the Uhuru Movement, the African People’s Socialist Party, its leaders and members and the right of African people everywhere to organize and advocate for our liberation.

Zaki Baruti [Source:]

Resources are urgently needed for our legal defense and campaign work. We are recruiting into our legal support team. We urge all supporters to sign the emergency response pledge form in preparation for political actions once the indictments come down: see

Our victory will be won in the streets. Join the movement. Put the colonial state on trial. Turn the tables. Win broad mass support from African people and other forces inside this country and around the world.

Join the Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Defense Campaign and get involved wherever you’re located. Build a committee. Donate. Hold a fundraiser. Be a part of making history and winning a landmark victory for the African Liberation Movement that will forever change the world.

Omali Yeshitela (born Joseph Waller) is the founder and chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, which leads the Uhuru Movement.

Yeshitela is credited with popularizing the demand for reparations to African people in the U.S. and worldwide, having served as the People’s Advocate at the First International Tribunal on Reparations to Black People in the U.S., held in Brooklyn, New York in 1982.

He is the author of numerous books and pamphlets including Vanguard: Advanced Detachment of the African Revolution and An Uneasy Equilibrium: The African Revolution versus Parasitic Capitalism.

Jose Maria Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines / by Struggle-La Lucha

Originally published: Struggle-La Lucha on December 16, 2022

From the Philippine Revolution Web Central:

The greatest Filipino of the past century bereaved us peacefully last night.

Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, passed away at around 8:40 p.m. (Philippine time) after two weeks confinement in a hospital in Utrech, The Netherlands. He was 83.

The Filipino proletariat and toiling people grieve the death of their teacher and guiding light.

The entire Communist Party of the Philippines gives the highest possible tribute to its founding chairman, great Marxist-Leninist-Maoist thinker, patriot, internationalist and revolutionary leader.

Even as we mourn, we vow continue to give all our strength and determination to carry the revolution forward guided by the memory and teachings of the people’s beloved Ka Joma.

Let the immortal revolutionary spirit of Ka Joma live on!

December 17, 2022

Tribute of the 2nd Congress to Comrade Jose Ma. Sison

Resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist Party of the Philippines – November 7, 2016

The Second Congress of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) extends its profound appreciation and expresses deepest gratitude to Comrade Jose Ma. Sison for his immense contribution to the Philippine revolution as founding chair of the Party, founder of the New People’s Army and pioneer of the People’s Democratic Government in the Philippines.

Ka Joma is a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist extraordinaire and indefatigable revolutionary fighter. He applied dialectical and historical materialism to expose the fundamental nature of the semicolonial and semifeudal social system in the Philippines. He put forward an incisive class analysis that laid bare the moribund, exploitative and oppressive rule of the big bourgeois compradors and big landlords in collusion with the U.S. imperialists.

He set forth the program for a people’s democratic revolution as immediate preparation for the socialist revolution. He always sets sights on the ultimate goal of communism.

Ka Joma was a revolutionary trailblazer. In his youth, he joined workers federations and helped organize unions. Ka Joma formed the SCAUP (Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines) in 1959 to promote national democracy and Marxism-Leninism and wage ideological and cultural struggle against the religio-sectarians and anti-communist forces among the student intellectuals. Together with fellow proletarian revolutionaries, he initiated study meetings to read and discuss Marxist-Leninist classic writings.

Under Ka Joma’s leadership, the SCAUP organized a protest action in March 1961 against the congressional witchhunt of the Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities which targeted UP faculty members accused of writing and publishing Marxist materials in violation of the Anti-Subversion Law. Around 5,000 students joined the first demonstration with an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal character since more than ten years prior. As a consequence, Ka Joma became a target of reactionary violence and survived attempts on his life. Unfazed, he and the SCAUP continued to launch protests against the Laurel-Langley Agreement and the Military Bases Agreement and other issues as land reform and national industrialization, workers rights, civil and political liberties and solidarity with other peoples against U.S. acts of agression up to 1964.

He and other proletarian revolutionaries eventually joined the old merger Socialist and Communist Party in 1961. In recognition of his communist and youthful fervor, he was assigned to head the youth bureau of the old Party and appointed as member of the executive committee. He initiated meetings to study the classic works of Marx, Lenin, Mao and other great communist thinkers which challenged the stale conditions of the old Party.

He founded the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) in November 1964 and led its development as one of the most important youth organizations in Philippine history. As KM chair, and as a young professor and militant, he went on campus tours and spoke before students as well as young professionals to espouse the necessity of waging a national democratic revolution. His speeches compiled in the volume Struggle for National Democracy (SND) served as one of the cornerstones of the national democratic propaganda movement. The KM would eventually be at the head and core of large mass demonstrations during the late 1960s up to the declaration of martial law in 1972.

As one of the leaders of the old party, Ka Joma prepared a political report exposing and repudiating the revisionism and opportunism of the successive Lava leadership as well as the errors of military adventurism and capitulation of the Taruc-Sumulong gang of the old people’s liberation army. The old party had deteriorated as an out-and-out revisionist party.

Despite Ka Joma’s effort, the old party proved to be beyond resuscitation from its revisionist death. Gangsters in the old party would carry out attempts on his life to snuff the revolutionary revival of the Filipino proletariat.

As Amado Guerrero, Ka Joma led the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines on the theoretical foundations of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. He prepared the Party constitution, the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution and the document Rectify Errors and Rebuild the Party and presided over the Congress of Reestablishment held in Alaminos, Pangasinan on December 26, 1968. In 1969, he authored Philippine Society and Revolution which presents the history of the Filipino people, analyzes the semicolonial and semifeudal character of Philippine society and defines the people’s democratic revolution. He prepared the Basic Rules of the New People’s Army and the Declaration of the New People’s Army and directed the Meeting of Red commanders and fighters to found the New People’s Army (NPA) on March 29, 1969.

He led the Party in its early period of growth. He wrote the Organizational Guide and Outline of Reports in April 1971 and the Revolutionary Guide to Land Reform in September 1972 which both served to direct the work of building the mass organizations, organs of political power, units of the people’s army and the Party, as well as in mobilizing the peasants in waging agrarian revolution. He authored the Preliminary Report on Northern Luzon in August 1970 which served as a template in the work of other regional committees.

While directing the development and training of the New People’s Army from its initial base in Central Luzon to the forests of Isabela in Cagayan Valley, he also guided the youth activists in waging mass struggles in Metro Manila against the U.S.-Marcos dictatorship.

Ka Joma was ever on top of the revolutionary upsurge of the students and workers movement in 1970 and 1971. Chants of Amado Guerrero’s name reverberates in Manila and other cities in harmony with calls to join the people’s war in the countryside.

The CPP grew rapidly in its first few years under Ka Joma’s leadership. The Party established itself across the country and led the nationwide advance of the revolutionary armed struggle. He personally supervised the political and military training of Party cadres and NPA commanders in the forested region of Isabela from where they were deployed to other regions.

In 1971, he presided over the Central Committee and presented the Summing-Up Our Experiences After Three Years (1968-1971). He prepared in 1974 the Specific Characteristics of Our People’s War which authoritatively laid out the strategy and tactics for waging people’s war in the Philippines. In 1975, he authored Our Urgent Tasks, containing the Central Committee’s report and program of action. He served as editor-in-chief of Ang Bayan in its first years of publication.

In the underground movement, Ka Joma continued to guide the Party and the NPA in its growth under the brutal fascist martial law regime of dictator Marcos. He issued advisories to underground Party cadres and mass activists. Inspired by the raging people’s war in the countryside, they dared the fascist machinery and carried-out organizing efforts among students and workers.

The first workers’ strike broke out in 1975 preceding the growth of the workers movement. Large student demonstrations against rising school fees and the deterioration of the educational system were carried out from 1977 onwards completely shattering the terror of martial law.

Ka Joma continued to lead the Party in nationwide growth until 1977 when he and his wife Julie were arrested by the wild dogs of the Marcos dictatorship while in transit from one guerrilla zone to another. He was presented by the AFP to Marcos as a trophy. He was detained, subjected to severe torture, put under solitary confinement for more than five years interrupted only by joint confinement with Julie in 1980-1981, and later partial solitary confinement with one or two other political prisoners from 1982-1985.

While in prison, Ka Joma was able to maintain contact with the Party leadership and revolutionary forces outside through clandestine methods of communication. With the collaboration of Ka Julie, lifelong partner and comrade of Ka Joma, they produced important letters and advisories. In 1983, Ka Julie released the article JMS On the Mode of Production which served as a theoretical elucidation and clarification of the nature of the semicolonial and semifeudal social system in order to cast away confusion brought about by claims of industrialization by the U.S.-Marcos dictatorship. It counterattacked claims made by pretenders to socialism who insist that the Philippines had become a developing capitalist country under the fascist dictatorship.

A powerful upsurge of the anti-fascist mass movement followed the assassination of Marcos archrival Benigno Aquino in 1983. This was principally propelled by the workers and student movement which could mount demonstrations of 50,000 or greater from the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1984, Ka Joma released the paper On the Losing Course of the AFP under the pseudonym Patnubay Liwanag to assess the balance of forces and to signal to or sway the Pentagon to better drop Marcos, which would entail causing a split in the AFP. In September 1984, the Pentagon acceded to the Armacost formula and decided to join the U.S. State Department and other U.S. agencies to drop him. By early 1985 Reagan signed the National Security Directive with definite plan to ease out Marcos.

Ka Joma also asserted the need to weaken the reactionary armed strength in the countryside and expand the people’s army to a critical mass 25,000 rifles and one guerrilla platoon per municipality as constructive criticism of the plan to carry out a “strategic counter-offensive.”

The anti-fascist upsurge culminated in a people’s uprising supported by a military rebellion of elements in the reactionary AFP. The Party’s persevering and solid leadership of the anti-fascist movement and revolutionary armed struggle created favorable conditions that led to the overthrow the U.S.-Marcos dictatorship in 1986. Despite strong opposition by the U.S. and reactionary defense establishment, the Aquino regime was compelled to open the detested gates of the Marcos dungeons allowing Ka Joma to be released.

He wasted no time resuming revolutionary work. In a few months time, he mounted a major lecture series to propound a critical class analysis of the Corazon Aquino regime and expose it as representative of big bourgeois comprador and landlord rule. The series of lectures which later comprised the volume Philippine Crisis and Revolution countered the “political spectrum” analysis of populists which pictured the Aquino regime as a bourgeois liberal regime to goad the revolutionary forces along the path of class collaboration and capitulation.

These populists as well as other charlatans carried out a campaign to undermine the basic analysis of classes and production system in the Philippines to justify the convoluted concept of a strategic counter-offensive wishfully thinking that the people’s war can leapfrog to strategic victory bypassing the probable historical course. A number of key leaders of the Party and revolutionary forces were drawn to the self-destructive path of insurrectionism and premature regularization and military adventurism. This would later bring about grave and almost fatal losses to the Party and the NPA, as well as to the urban mass movement.

Forced to exile in 1987 by the Aquino regime which canceled his passport and travel papers, Ka Joma sought political asylum in The Netherlands while on a lecture tour. He eventually resided in Utrecht and work with other comrades in the international office of the National Democratic Front. Although thousand of miles away from the Philippines, he continued to maintain close contact with the Party leaders in the country and provide advise and guidance to help them in their work.

Ka Joma served as one of the steadfast exponent of the Second Great Rectification Movement launched by the 10th Plenum of the CPP Central Committee in 1992. The Party leadership actively sought Ka Joma’s theoretical insights and analysis. In preparing the key document Reaffirm Our Basic Principles and Rectify Errors, the Party leadership referred to Ka Joma and the Party’s founding documents which he authored. With Ka Joma’s full support, the rectification campaign of 1992-1998 united and strengthened the Party to ever greater heights.

Ka Joma also played a key role in authoring the paper Stand for Socialism Against Modern Revisionism which illuminated the path of socialist revolution during the dark hours of the complete restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union in 1990 touted in the monopoly bourgeois mass media as the fall of socialism, a refutation of communism, and the “end of history” and final victory of the capitalist system.

Reflecting Ka Joma’s sharp Maoist critique of modern revisionism, the paper presented a clear historical understanding of the process of capitalist restoration in the USSR from 1956 onwards. This served as key to understanding the continuing viability of socialism and to inspiring the Filipino proletariat to persevere in the two-stage revolution and the international proletariat to carry forward the socialist cause.

Ka Joma’s Utrecht base eventually became a political center of the international communist and anti-imperialist resistance movements. He played an important role in the centennial celebration of Mao Zedong in 1993 which served as a vigorous ideological campaign to reaffirm Marxist-Leninist views and to proclaim Maoism as the third epochal development of Marxism-Leninism.

Up to the early 2000s, he also played a lead role in the formation of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO) which serves as a center for ideological and practical exchange among communist and workers parties which stood for socialism and opposed modern revisionism. He provided valuable insights and practical assistance to numerous communist parties from Asia to Europe and the Americas.

Over the past decade, he has led the International League of People’s Struggles or the ILPS which has served as coordinating center for anti-imperialist movements around the globe. He authored the paper “On imperialist globalization” in 1997 which clarified that the proletariat remains in the era of imperialism and socialist revolution.

Because of his role in guiding the advance of the international anti-imperialist struggle, Ka Joma was put in the crosshairs of U.S. imperialism. He was included in the U.S. list of “foreign terrorists”, together with the CPP and NPA. At 68 years old, he was arrested in 2007 by the Dutch police and detained for more than 15 days.

Since 1992, together with the NDFP Negotiating Panel, Ka Joma has also ably represented the interests of the Filipino people and revolutionary movement in peace negotiations with successive representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). He has been appointed as Chief Political Consultant of the NDFP Negotiating Panel and has deftly guided it in negotiations with the GRP over the past 25 years.

Over the past several years, Ka Joma continued to provide invaluable insights into the domestic crisis and the situation of the revolutionary forces. He continues to provide advise to the Party and the revolutionary forces in the Philippines on resolving the problems of advancing the revolution to a new and higher stage.

He has set forth critical analysis of the objective international conditions. He has put forward a Marxist-Leninist critique of the capitalist crisis of overproduction which is at the base of the international financial crisis and the prolonged depression that has wracked the global capitalist system. He has reaffirmed that we are still at the historical epoch of imperialism, the last crisis stage of capitalism.

Ka Joma is the torch bearer of the international communist movement. Through the dark period of capitalist restoration, he has kept the flames of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism burning and inspired the proletariat to take advantage of the crisis of global capitalism, persevere along the path of socialism and communism and bring the international communist revolution to a new chapter of revival and reinvigoration.


The Second Congress of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) resolves to give the highest honors to Comrade Jose Ma. Sison, great communist thinker, leader, teacher and guide of the Filipino proletariat and torch bearer of the international communist movement.

In recognition of Ka Joma’s immense contribution to the Philippine revolution and the international workers movement, the Second Congress further resolves:
1. to instruct the Central Committee to continue to seek Ka Joma’s insights and advise on various aspects of the Party’s work in the ideological, political and organizational fields.

2. to endorse the five volume writings of Jose Ma. Sison as basic reference and study material of the CPP and to urge the entire Party membership and revolutionary forces to read and study Ka Joma’s writings.

The Second Congress of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is certain that with the treasure of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist work that Ka Joma has produced over the past five decades of revolutionary practice, the Party is well-equipped in leading the national democratic revolution to greater heights and complete victory in the coming years.

MR Online, December 19, 2022,

Commune or nothing! Venezuela’s transition to socialism / by

Originally published in on November 9, 2022

Amidst Washington’s economic siege, Venezuela’s communes have continued advancing to offer long-standing solutions to the economic crisis in order to build a socialist future where life trumps capital. Communes are, by definition, deeply anti-imperialist and anticapitalist.

Currently, Venezuela has dozens of communes, between rural and urban, some new and others with a baggage of revolutionary struggle. They are made up of people that occupy a shared territory and have historical, cultural, social, ethnic, and economic ties that bind them together. Some rural communes were set up after campesino families took back lands that had historically belonged to them but were seized by landowners for private profit.

Today, communes are a wonderful demonstration of socialism as a viable way to practice substantial democracy and build sovereign production while taking care of the planet.

In his last political address, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez stated that communes were the cornerstone of the Bolivarian Revolution, with the power to truly emancipate the people. He urged cadres and organizations to prioritize the communes with his battle cry: “Commune or Nothing!”

| The Bolivarian Process | MR Online' political horizon got clearer with time, as Chávez set his sights on the construction of socialism and with communes being the "unit cells." Find out more in our latest infographic. (Venezuelanalysis)

The Bolivarian Process’ political horizon got clearer with time, as Chávez set his sights on the construction of socialism and with communes being the “unit cells.” Find out more in our latest infographic. (Venezuelanalysis)

How Cuba is dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Ian / by Vijay Prashad, Manolo De Los Santos

Relief work in Cuba in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. (Photo: José Manuel Correa/Granma)

Originally published in People’s Dispatch on October 5, 2022

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

On September 27, 2022, a tropical cyclone—Hurricane Ian—struck Cuba’s western province of Pinar del Río. Sustained winds of around 125 miles per hour lingered over Cuba for more than eight hours, bringing down trees and power lines, and causing damage not seen during previous tropical cyclones. The hurricane then lingered over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, picking up energy before striking the U.S. island of Cayo Costa, Florida, with approximately 155 mph winds. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) called it “one of the worst hurricanes to hit the area in a century.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center said that this year will be the “seventh consecutive above-average hurricane season.” Both Cuba and Florida have faced the wrath of the waters and winds, but beneath this lies the ferocity of the climate catastrophe. “Climate science is increasingly able to show that many of the extreme weather events that we are experiencing have become more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Prepare and relieve

Cuba, said the WMO, is one of the “world leaders in terms of hurricane preparedness and disaster management.” This was not always the case. Hurricane Flora hit the eastern coast of the island on October 4, 1963. When news of the approaching hurricane reached Fidel Castro, he immediately ordered the evacuation of the homes of people who lived in the projected path of the storm (in Haiti, former dictator François Duvalier did not call for an evacuation, which led to the death of more than 5,000 people). Castro rushed to Camagüey, almost dying in the Cauto River as his amphibious vehicle was struck by a drifting log. Two years later, in his Socialism and Man in Cuba, Che Guevara wrote the Cuban people showed “exceptional deeds of valor and sacrifice” as they rebuilt the country after the devastation caused by Flora.

In 1966, the Cuban government created the Civil Defense System to prepare for not only extreme weather events such as hurricanes but also the outbreak of epidemics. Using science as the foundation for its hurricane preparedness, the Cuban government was able to evacuate 2 million people as Hurricane Ivan moved toward the island in 2004. As part of disaster management, the entire Cuban population participates in drills, and the Cuban mass organizations (the Federation of Cuban Women and the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) work in an integrated manner to mobilize the population to respond to disasters.

The day before Hurricane Ian hit Cuba, 50,000 people were evacuated and taken to 55 shelters. No private vehicles or public transportation was visible on the streets. Work brigades were mobilized to work on the resumption of electricity supply after the storm had passed. In Artemisa, for instance, the Provincial Defense Council met to discuss how to react to the inevitable flooding. Despite the best efforts made by Cubans, three people died because of the hurricane, and the electrical grid suffered significant damage.


The entire island—including Havana—had no power for more than three days. The electrical grid, which was already suffering from a lack of major repairs, collapsed. Without power, Cubans had to throw away food that needed to be refrigerated and faced difficulty in preparing meals, among other hardships. By October 1, less than five days after landfall, 82% of the residents of Havana had their power restored with work ongoing for the western part of the island (the amount of time without power in Puerto Rico, which was hit by Hurricane Fiona on September 18, is longer—a quarter of a million people remain without power more than two weeks later).

The long-term impact of Hurricane Ian is yet to be assessed, although some believe the cost of damages will surpass $1 billion. More than 8,500 hectares of cropland have been hit by the flooding, with the banana crop most impacted. The most dramatic problem will be faced by Cuba’s tobacco industry since Pinar del Río—where 5,000 farms were destroyed—is its heartland (with 65% of the country’s tobacco production). Hirochi Robaina, a tobacco farmer in Pinar del Río, wrote,

It was apocalyptic. A real disaster.


Mexico and Venezuela immediately pledged to send materials to assist in the reconstruction of the electrical grid on the island.

All eyes turned to Washington—not only to see whether it would send aid, which would be welcome, but also if it would remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list and end sanctions imposed by the United States. These measures cause banks in both the United States and elsewhere to be reluctant to process any financial transactions, including humanitarian donations. The U.S. has a mixed record regarding humanitarian aid to Cuba. After Hurricane Michelle (2001), Hurricane Charley (2004), and Hurricane Wilma (2005), the U.S. did offer assistance, but would not even temporarily lift the blockade. After the fire at a Matanzas oil storage facility in August 2022, the U.S. did offer to join Mexico and Venezuela to help the Cubans put out the fire. Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossio offered “profound gratitude” for the gesture, but the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden did not follow through.

Rather than lift the sanctions even for a limited period, the U.S. government sat back and watched as mysterious forces from Miami unleashed a torrent of Facebook and WhatsApp messages to drive desperate Cubans onto the street. Not a moment is wasted by Washington to use even a natural disaster to try to destabilize the situation in Cuba (a history that goes back to 1963, when the Central Intelligence Agency reflected on how to leverage natural disasters for political gains). “Most people don’t shout out freedom,” a person who observed one of these protests told us.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet and BirGün.

Manolo De Los Santos is a researcher and a political activist. For 10 years, he worked in the organization of solidarity and education programs to challenge the United States’ regime of illegal sanctions and blockades. Based out of Cuba for many years, Manolo has worked toward building international networks of people’s movements and organizations. In 2018, he became the founding director of the People’s Forum in New York City, a movement incubator for working-class communities to build unity across historic lines of division at home and abroad. He also collaborates as a researcher with Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and is a Globetrotter/Peoples Dispatch fellow.

MR Online, October 6, 2022,

Understanding the “Middle Class” / by Anita Waters

Middle Class USA

Who, or what, is the “middle class”? Most people identify themselves as middle class, but what does that mean, and what difference does it make?

This article’s first focus is on the concept of middle class, especially the way people understand it and use it, from the perspectives of those who answer survey questions to the analysts who study social inequality. The way “class” is defined and used has the effect of rendering some social processes invisible.

Second, Marxist analysis offers a much different conception of class, one that brings to light social dynamics hidden in the bourgeois perspective. Third, what are the material conditions and consciousness of the U.S. “middle class” today, and what are the political pressures that are bearing down on different segments of the economy?

Economists, pollsters, and many policy researchers define class with reference simply to individuals’ or households’ annual income. For example, the Pew Research Center arrays all income data points in a line, from lowest to highest. The very middle point is the median. Then, people with incomes of less than two-thirds of the median are labeled “lower income.” “Upper income” are those with incomes twice the median or more. All those in-between are “middle income” or “middle class.”

The advantage of this technique is that it offers a specific measure that can be used to compare inequality across time and place, data which the Pew Research Center regularly reports. The disadvantage is that it hides the impact of a host of other factors determining one’s relative position in the economy, like wealth and social status. And, unlike a Marxist analysis, this view of class, with its more or less arbitrary boundaries, doesn’t recognize that classes are collectivities that have a social reality over and above their individual members, and that act more effectively for social change than any individual member could possibly act.

Some use the term “middle class” simply to distinguish it from those with the least income, who become known collectively as “the poor.” Reverend William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign, for example, criticized the Democratic Party’s sole focus on the middle class, which he contrasted with the interests of the poor, as he said about poverty at a recent online meeting:

Neoliberalism isn’t going to fix this. The middle class isn’t going to fix this. And as Pope Francis has said, trickle-down has failed us.

Sociologist Mary Pattillo, in her 2005 study of “Black Middle-Class Neighborhoods” in the Annual Review of Sociology, writes that defining the middle class is difficult and that her article might better be entitled “Black Non-Poor Neighborhoods.” Trade union discourse tends to rely on the term to describe the benefits of good union jobs. Columbus Ohio building trade union activist Dorsey Hagar, for example, says that union jobs get workers “on that direct path to the middle class where they’re providing for themselves and their family.”

Besides income, some people understand “middle class standing” as a social status, like occupational prestige and years of education. Sociologists today define the middle class as an ever-changing assortment of different occupational groups in “a heterogeneous and historically shifting middle class rather than distinct entities.”1 Others define middle class by levels of consumption, such as aspirations for home ownership, children’s education, health insurance and economic security, as in a 2010 Commerce Department document prepared for then Vice-President Joe Biden.

If being middle class were just a matter of self-perception, almost all Americans would be in the middle class, according to one 2015 survey, which found that well over 85% call themselves middle class. Racial identification matters too; whites are far more likely to define themselves as middle class than are African Americans with similar incomes.

In Marxist analysis, the understanding of “class” is very different. It starts by looking at large-scale social processes, and finds the basis of social classes in the relations of production in the economy. Those who own and control the means of production, and who are able to take ownership of all that is produced, form the ruling class; in capitalist society the ruling class is the bourgeoisie, while in feudal society, it was the landed aristocracy.

Those who sell their labor power to the owners of the means of production are the proletariat or working class. Instead of class as a characteristic of individuals, Marxist analysis studies the way classes act in society as collective actors. Struggle between classes is the “motor of history,” driving all social change.

Classes are rooted in the common material interests that derive from a similar relationship to the means of production. But that is not enough to unite or empower a class. To be a class “for itself” as well as “in itself,” a class needs a “community, … national bond, and … political organization,” as Marx said in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The small-holding French peasants he studied had common material interests, but they lived apart from one another and were unaware of those commonalities. They were just, in Marx’s words, “the simple addition of homologous magnitudes, much as potatoes in a sack form a sack of potatoes.” As a class, the peasantry was only as powerful as the sum of its parts.

A class’s real power, over and above the sum of its members, is derived not just from common material interests, but from the class’s awareness of itself as a class engaged in struggle with other classes. That class consciousness was what empowered the industrialists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to defeat the landed aristocracy, and it will be what empowers the proletariat to defeat the capitalist ruling class.

Historical materialism predicts that society will become more and more polarized into two great classes, in conflict with each other. But other classes exist simultaneously. Some are vestiges of earlier stages of class relations, like the remnants of the landed aristocracy. Marx recognized that throughout history there are strata in society that are between the two great classes.

New technologies may bring changes in class relations that hasten the demise of the old system. One of these “middle” classes for Marx was the occupational group of merchants who emerged from the separation of production and commerce at the dawn of the industrial age.

When the Pew Research Center or the New York Times refers to the “middle class,” they are referring to a sector of the working class. Roberta Wood in her pamphlet “Marxism in the Age of Uber” has an expansive vision of the working class as 90 percent of the U.S. population:

The working class of the 21st century includes rideshare drivers, nursing home aides, baristas, warehouse workers, UPS package handlers, teachers, engineers, research scientists, and I.T. folks—alongside factory, construction and farmworkers and incarcerated labor.

Even before the pandemic, the non-poor working class was being squeezed financially. “The costs of housing, health care and education are consuming ever larger shares of household budgets, and have risen faster than incomes,” according to a 2019 article in the New York Times.

Today’s middle-class families are working longer, managing new kinds of stress and shouldering greater financial risks than previous generations did.

Then, the pandemic economy hit. The effects of loss of jobs and income have been severe and will reverberate for years to come. Working families face food insecurity, utility shut-offs, loss of health insurance, and eviction. According to a Pew Research Survey, about a quarter of all adults in the U.S., and one in every three low-wage workers, lost their jobs.

More women than men, and especially Black and Latinx women, report having trouble paying their bills, and are more likely than men to have borrowed money, used savings that had been set aside for retirement, and gotten food from a food bank.

Small business owners, the petty bourgeoisie in Marxist terms, is seen as a “middle” class, torn in their loyalty to the working class, which is closest to it in material conditions, or to the ruling class, to which it improbably aspires. Owners of small businesses and independent professionals may employ a handful of individual workers, whom they exploit by appropriating the surplus value of their labor in the same way that big corporations exploit workers.

In the U.S., this sector is very engaged politically; one study found that 98% of small business owners were registered to vote and 62% have contributed to campaigns. A survey from before the pandemic showed that a majority of small business owners benefited from the 2017 tax cuts and believed that their businesses would be better off if Trump were re-elected.

Some members of this group endorse the extreme right. As C. J. Atkins pointed out, the Atlantic documented that the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6 were “a cavalry made up of ‘business ownersCEOsstate legislatorspolice officersactive and retired members of the military, real-estate brokers,’ and others.”

An article in the Washington Post revealed that almost 60% of those charged in the Capitol insurrection “showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades.” Downward mobility no doubt fueled their anger.

But this sector is still powerless compared to big business. Like the working class, it is vulnerable to the vagaries of the capitalist economy of boom and bust. Small business owners were hit hard in the current recession. In September 2020 it was estimated that 100,000 small businesses that had shut down due to the pandemic had closed permanently. Black-owned businesses closed at twice the rate of white-owned businesses. That was even before the autumn surge in cases and further lockdowns.

These times remind me of the saying, “Every woman is six weeks away from welfare.” It recognized the vulnerability of working women in particular, who often had sole responsibility for their children as well as themselves. Even if comfortably situated today, lulled by the idea that they had joined the middle class, job losses or medical emergencies could quickly drive people into poverty. Only the ruling class is protected.

Originally published on under a Creative Commons license.


Melanie Archer and Judith Blau, “Class Formation in Nineteenth-Century America: The Case of the Middle Class,” Annual Review of Sociology, 1993, vol. 19, no. 1.

Anita Waters is Professor Emerita of sociology at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and an organizer for the CPUSA in Ohio.

MR Online, July 14, 2022,

Commentary: “We are not done”: Policy, protections, and the people’s struggle for Pride / by Aimee Rickman

The rainbow flag waving in the wind at San Francisco’s Castro District | Photo: Benson Kua, Wikimedia Commons

June is Pride Month. It is a time to celebrate. It’s also a time to remember the struggle for equal rights, a history we are continually encouraged to forsake, fragment, and forget.

Far-reaching state laws criminalize teachers who dare break hegemonic silences to “say gay” to students and otherwise acknowledge facts and U.S. history. Legislators capitalize on poverty to enlist constituents in incriminating neighbors, including those providing youth rare support in familyschoolsand community.

We must remember: We have been here before.

Many times.

“Do Not Flaunt”

Florida repealed antidiscrimination ordinances ensuring gay and lesbian citizens rights, sparking cookie-cutter activism nationwide. Championing the repeal was Save Our Children (SOC), a national coalition claiming that mention of non-heterosexual relationships corrupts youth.

According to SOC, lesbian and gay people are “deviant” threats to families and to religious freedom who “recruit and molest children” and are demanding special rights. In her autobiography, SOC’s figurehead leader explained:

They can hold any job, transact any business… so long as they do not flaunt their homosexuality and try to establish role models for the impressionable young people” (p. 62).

This leader was Anita Bryant, evangelical celebrity spokesperson for multinationals including Florida orange juice, Kraft, and Coca Cola.

The year: 1977. The country reeled from a recently-ended corrupt presidency, corrupt war, and oil crisis-based recession that came on the heels of a nation-wide push for civil rights. Seeking power amid destabilization, right-wing forces doubled-down on a historically successful unifying tactic: dehumanizing minorities.

Origin Story

Years earlier, New Yorkers in Greenwich Village stood up against state-sanctioned terrorism focused on the local LGBTQ+ community.

Building upon the activism of anti-racist and LGBTQrights organizations, outcast patrons of New York’s Stonewall Inn gay tavern banded together to oppose what was expected to be yet another routine police raid aimed to publicly humiliate and persecute those claiming community around queerness.

Indeed, at the time, New York City denied liquor licenses to establishments serving queer clientele. This helped the powerful profit financially from corrupt kickbacks, and politically from justified arrests of marginalized nonconformists.

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, rather than allow the inevitable, some in the Stonewall Inn resisted, collectively refusing to be labeled unlawful deviants.

Instead of accepting continued brutal oppression, some said no. Led by Black and Latinx self-identified drag queens, they occupied the Inn, calling for help to onlookers while being arrested. Why don’t you guys do something!” Others joined them outside, filling Christopher Street with demonstrations, riotsuprisings. For six days, people protested normalized harassment, criminalization, and police violence the LGBTQ+ community was forced to endure under mainstreamed right-wing heteroprejudice, transphobia, and bigoted hatred.

Today, we commemorate June as Pride Month in honor of our Stonewall ancestors who fought systemic oppression to demand basic civil rights for LGBTQ+ people.

We celebrate their brave solidarity and struggle against dehumanizing injustice as they pushed the nation to fulfill fundamental promises. We honor the legacy of this ongoing chapter in U.S. history as it is buried by the same repressive forces fought in 1969 that codified state discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the 1977 backlash.

“Equal Protection of the Laws”

Within a democratic framework, the Stonewall patrons’ protests make perfect sense. Since 1868, the U.S. has promised equality to all. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Constitution ensures citizens “equal protection of the laws.” Nevertheless, in 1969, it remained legal to refuse jobs, housing, healthcare, goods and services, and other core privileges and immunities to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It was typical to face months of arrest or institutionalization and vote-disqualifying felony charges from gathering while gay.

Like those marginalized for their ethnicity, sex, race, or religion, LGBTQ+ citizens received abridged political, economic, and material protections in 1969 that belie even what strict originalists admit should occur under the Constitution.

Despite improvements, this lack of equal protection continues today. Adding to the Constitution, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights ActSection 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, and the Fair Housing Act provide national standards for inclusivity. They also offer loopholes for states to get around federal regulations requiring equal protections.

Right-Wing States’ Rights

The Transgender Law Center’s National Equality Map reports more than half of U.S. states rank “low” or “harmful” in consideration of legislative policy advancing LGBTQ+ equality. And hard-won civil rights legislation is being eroded by those seeking to maintain austere inequities required for optimal capitalist profiteering.

According to Human Rights Campaign, 2021 set the record for the most anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation passed in U.S. history. That record may break again; the ACLU documented more than 150 bills seeking to undermine basic protections for LGBTQ+ people considered this year by U.S. lawmakers. These include allowing citizens to use personal beliefs to exclude others from rights they freely enjoy.

While Illinois offers important antidiscrimination protections, proposed legislation from surrounding states cast a sweepingly regressive net restricting rights. Iowa’s Republican-backed religious exemption bill HF 170 would exempt those who oppose birth control, abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgender people from federal antidiscrimination requirements in employment, healthcare, adoption, restroom access, hate speech, and other areas.

Couched as “protection of the free exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions” the bill’s narrow list of eligible beliefs and convictions clarifies its real intention: legalizing special rights to far-right authoritarian bigots.

Local Pride

Legislation bounds rights. But discriminatory bills need not pass to discriminate. Inequity is affirmed through even unsuccessful state-sanctioned threats. A tsunami of proposed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in a society trumpeting equality for all proclaims:

We are superior. You are lesser, and unsupported.

This, of course, stigmatizes and damages people. Driven by disinvestment and despair, youth suicide rates in the U.S. were astronomical even prior to Covid-19, and the Trevor Project finds LGBTQ youth four times more likely than heterosexual peers to attempt suicide. Transgender youth are twice as likely as cis LGBQ youth to have attempted suicide in the past year.

Threatened discrimination also engenders shame, alienation, and fear right-wing extremists have long used to consolidate power. Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat identifies it as a core tyrannical tactic of demagogues.

“There are folks getting elected and making their whole careers based off of anti-LGBTQ stances” explains Nicole Frydman, Director of Operations of Uniting Pride (UP) Center of Champaign County, the only LGBTQ+ resource center of its kind in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. These anti-inclusive stances were crafted to spread nationwide, as in 1977. Now, however, social media help obscure profiteers’ backing of hateful, inequity-stoking rhetoric.

As they reach out to promote free support groups for youth and adults, educational trainings, and programs such as the Pride Fest and Queer Prom to the community, UP Center staff confront disparaging anti-LGBTQ+ comments on their social media platforms. Recently, this has shifted form. “We’ve seen the word ‘groomer’ coming up more and more,” Frydman said.

“Groomer” is a shaming slur used to criminally malign teachers by those pushing Texas’s and Florida’s recent anti-LGBTQ+, anti-history, school privatizing legislation. It is Anita Bryant’s “role models for the impressionable young people” 2.0., embodying SOC’s defaming lie that queer people “recruit and molest children.”

“Groomer” is the charge of youth moral corruption issued to condemn and kill Socrates tied to those of the witch-hunt, documented by Silvia Federici as a brutal social dagger of patriarchy and privatization. It carries from the South and the past dehumanizing whisper-campaign propaganda undermining caring professionals’ ability to be deemed worthy of respect, employment, and rights regardless of legislation.

“This is not the kind of thing we have seen before,” Frydman said.

That we’re seeing this locally… really highlights how conversations happening in other places have a direct impact here.

Illinois is recognized for institutionally advancing LGBTQ+ equality. But, as history shows, sanctioned right-wing anti-democratic authoritarianism knows no bounds. Much work remains. “We’re not done,” Frydman states of the UP Center’s efforts, channeling the spirit of Stonewall.

We are far from done.

CU Pride Fest will be October 1. Contact the UP Center for support, or to support their work:

Aimee Rickman is an educator, activist, organizer, ethnographer of youth and social technologies, director of the Youth & Social Media Research Lab, and author of Adolescence, Girlhood, and Media Migration: U.S. Teens’ Use of Social Media to Negotiate Offline Struggles (Lexington, 2018). She has a related piece out now in Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society

MR Online, June 10m 2022,