All posts by Howie Hawkins

Reject Militarism on the Anniversary of 9/11

Nineteen years after more than 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, there remains a bipartisan commitment to fight an endless “war on terrorism,” instigate regime change coups, increase military spending, enhance US nuclear weapons, deport undocumented residents, curtail civil liberties, and militarize the police.

The September 11, 2001 attacks on the US have obscured “The Other 9/11,” the US attack on Chilean democracy in the US-backed coup on September 11, 1973. The two 9/11s are connected by what the CIA calls “blowback.” The CIA first used the term in describing the unintended negative consequences of the US and UK sponsored coup against the democratically-elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953. The September 11, 2001 attacks were blowback from decades of US intervention in the Middle East. That doesn’t justify the terrorism, but it does explain it. If we want peace and security for our nation, we should respect the peace and security of other nations.

Contrary to Trump’s lies about ending the endless wars, his administration has escalated the “Long War” in the Middle East and North Africa with increased troop deployments, drone strikes, and Special Operations.

Trump is also morphing the War on Terror abroad into a war against dissent at home. He encourages and uses law enforcement to attack nonviolent protesters, calling them “thugs” and “antifa terrorists.” He encourages white racist vigilante militias that show up armed to menace Black Lives Matter demonstrators and to intimidate local and state governments in armed protests against climate action (Oregon) and COVID-19 public health measures (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin).

Trump encourages these actions with statements that amplify paranoid far-right fantasies that call climate change and COVID-19 hoaxes perpetrated by secret elite conspiracies. Trump has instructed the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and Border Patrol to violate immigration laws and subject immigrants and asylum seekers to unspeakable brutality, including separating children from their parents and internment in concentration camps where COVID-19 is running rampant. He stokes racial fears and civil strife to justify authoritarian rule. He calls the news media “fake,” the elections “rigged,” and promotes conspiracy fantasies on Twitter. Trump is sowing confusion and demoralization so people will not be able to resist repression by sections of law enforcement and the racist militias should Trump decide to resist a peaceful transfer of power. The ultimate blowback against US coups and wars abroad against democracy threatens to be a coup against democracy at home.

End the Wars on Terrorism Abroad and Dissent at Home

One of my first steps as President would be to end the wars on “terrorism” abroad and at home. Neither major party calls for ending the endless wars against “terror” abroad even though the top priority in the official National Security Strategy of the United States has changed to “Great Power Competition” with the goal of preventing the emergence of strong regional powers in Eurasia, namely China, Iran, and Russia. This New Cold War, like the War on Terrorism, is about the profits of US-based global corporations abroad, not the security of the people of the United States at home.

The nuclear modernization program initiated under Obama and continued under Trump with bipartisan support has destabilized the nuclear balance of terror and kicked off a new nuclear arms race. The nuclear threat, coupled with inaction by the great powers on the climate emergency and the proliferation of disinformation propagated by state actors on all sides that makes it difficult for publics to come to agreement on what to demand of their governments, has prompted the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to move their Doomsday Clock the closest it has ever been to midnight.

I would end the saber rattling against Russia, China, and Iran in the Great Power Competition strategy and focus on diplomacy. We need to partner with other major powers to address our common problems, notably nuclear arms, climate, and cyberwar.

I would also end the bipartisan repression of dissent at home. With Trump’s encouragement, law enforcement is using militaristic tactics to suppress peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Both major parties are united in suppressing whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and publishers like Julian Assange, whose real crimes in the eyes of the National Security State is that they exposed its secret wrongdoings.

The US should speak out against violations of human rights and democracy wherever they occur, but that should not preclude also working with authoritarian governments to resolve life-or-death global issues like climate change and nuclear arms. War and threats of war are the most powerful destroyers of civil liberties, democracy, and human rights. Military threats, economic sanctions, and covert meddling in the politics of other countries only reinforces the nationalist rationalizations of authoritarian governments for repression at home in order to ward off threats from abroad.

The most powerful way to promote human rights is to set a good example. If the US wants its advocacy of human rights to be credible and effective, it must set the right example at home, where police killings of Black people are seen on social media around the world.  A country where there is mass incarceration in the largest prison system in the history of the world, and from where the US military is deployed in some 800 foreign military bases for its endless wars, making the US the nation that the world’s people consider the biggest threat to peace.

The Other 9/11: Chile

Thirty years before the United States’ 9/11, the CIA orchestrated the violent overthrow of the democratically-elected socialist government of Chile on September 11, 1973.

It is a tragic coincidence of the US bloody intervention history in Latin America that President Salvador Allende was overthrown and pushed to suicide on the same date that decades later would affect US soil by a terrorist attack. The same feelings that American felt of being violated by the first foreign attack since Pearl Harbor were felt in Chile that September 11 in 1973. The sin of Salvador Allende in the eyes of Nixon, Kissinger, and CIA Director Richard Helms was to advance deep socialist reforms that would create a more equal society, a just distribution of incomes, real freedom of expression, and a truly democratic framework that could allow, finally, the participation and voices of all sectors, specially the impoverished workers of Chile.

Sound familiar? These are exactly the challenges that the US faces today, problems that have riddled the US throughout its history and become worse in the Trump era – the authoritarian duopoly of Republicans and Democrats, voter suppression, third party suppression, deep inequality from coast to coast, and chronic poverty. It is the same kind of repression that Chile suffers today under the conservative millionaire Sebastián Piñera when people again advance the same reforms that Allende worked for and paid for with his life. It is the same social, economic, and political oppression that the two countries share on this anniversary of 9/11.

Aid, Not Arms – Make Friends, Not Enemies

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the Green Party of the United States warned against the danger that the two major parties and the corporate media would turn this horrific crime into a rationale for destructive wars abroad and political repression at home.

Instead of treating the 9/11 attackers as criminals to be brought to justice, the US used the attacks as a pretext for a long series of regime change wars in the Middle East and North Africa. The foreign policy leadership of the Bush administration had already written about the need for a “new Pearl Harbor” in order to provide the pretext for an invasion of Iraq to seize its oil fields. They wasted little time in getting started after 9/11.

The Authorization To Use Military Force (AUMF) against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks passed Congress on September 18 with only one dissenting vote. The US invasion of Afghanistan started on October 1. The AUMF legislation is still the legal basis for today’s endless wars.

The Patriot Act, which gave the federal government broad new intrusive surveillance and investigatory powers that weakened civil liberties, was overwhelmingly voted through Congress by October 25.

The Bush administration, joined by the Democratic amen corner led by Senator Joe Biden, lied about weapons of mass destruction and about Iraq’s alleged role in 9/11 to start a second war in Iraq by March 2003.

After 19 years, US combat troops are now engaged in 14 wars. At least 37 million people, and as many as 59 million people, have been displaced by these wars, creating the greatest refugee crisis since World War II.

The annual observation of 9/11 has been turned by politicians into a militaristic celebration of American power that is used to garner public support for US military spending and imperial aggression abroad. Right after 9/11, the world was united in its grief for our country. It was a moment that should have been used to build peace based on mutual cooperation and respect.

Let us remember 9/11 this year by demanding that the US withdraw from its endless wars, prioritize diplomacy to resolve conflicts, end arms sales to belligerents, and provide humanitarian aid for war refugees, including reopening immigration to the US from these countries.

Let’s turn the US into the world’s humanitarian superpower instead of its global military empire. Providing aid instead of arms is the best way to promote peace and security. It is time for the US to make friends instead of enemies.

The post Reject Militarism on the Anniversary of 9/11 first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Oppose the Israeli Annexation of West Bank Settlements

It is time for the United States to end its bipartisan blanket support for Israeli policies that violate the human rights of Palestinians. At this critical moment, where Israel has announced its intention to annex Israeli settlements on the West Bank with the support of the Trump administration, we must speak out and resist this blatant violation of international law and the right of Palestinians to self-government.

Friday, May 15 is the anniversary of the Nakba, which Palestinians commemorate as The Day of Catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their own lands, homes, and businesses preceding and following the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. Between 1947 and 1949, at least 750,000 Palestinians of a total Palestinian population of 1.9 million became refugees, 530 Palestinian villages and cities were destroyed and about 15,000 Palestinians were killed and 78 percent of Palestine was claimed by the State of Israel. Since 1967, Israel has militarily controlled the remaining 22% and expanded Jewish settlements into these occupied territories.

This year a new phase of land theft from the Palestinians is developing with the Israeli plan, backed by the Trump administration, to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank to the State of Israel. This annexation is illegal under international law and opposed by all the members of the UN Security Council, except the United States. It is opposed nearly unanimously in the UN General Assembly and unanimously across the Palestinian political spectrum.

Democratic Party leaders nominally oppose the annexation, but the Biden wing refuses to call for measures to pressure Israel to drop its ambitions. Bernie Sanders has called for a cut-off of US military aid to Israel if the annexation goes forward, but Joe Biden along with other Democratic Party leaders have called Sanders’ position “outrageous.”

The new coalition of government led by a partnership between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz says it could announce the annexation plan to the Knesset after July. It may be timed to come right before or after the Republican Convention.

The United States should stop giving Israel blanket support no matter how much it violates Palestinian rights and expands the illegal settlements on Palestinian land.

The growth of illegal settlements and the annexation of Palestinian land, as well as Jewish-only roads and hundreds of checkpoints already dominating in the occupied West Bank, is making the two-state solution, supported by international law, increasingly untenable. The two-state solution calls for an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, west of the Jordan River, based on the pre-1967 borders. As a result of the constant expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, Palestinians and pro-justice Israelis are increasingly turning to the one-democratic-state solution as the only just solution that is possible now.

The One Democratic State solution respects the multicultural character and the collective rights of the peoples living in the country, Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews among others. It calls for a constitutional democracy in which all citizens enjoy a common citizenship, a common government, and equal civil rights. Constitutional protection will prohibit laws that discriminate against any ethnic or religious community, which addresses the key concern Israeli Jews that their religious and cultural rights will be protected in a country in which they will be a minority.

Regarding the Gaza Strip, which has become a large open-air prison, the Israeli blockade of Gaza must be lifted so that food, construction equipment, and the essentials for healthcare and other humanitarian aid are allowed into the area. The repeated bombings by Israel of Gaza must come to an end. The 715,000 people of Gaza must be given democratic rights and their human rights protected.

The US should be putting pressure on Israel to change its policies by no longer providing Israel with political protection in the UN and no longer providing $3 billion in annual funding and military aid without any conditions that require Israel to respect Palestinian human rights and negotiate with the Palestinians for a just solution.

I support an escalating program of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to put pressure on Israel to respect human rights and negotiate a just settlement, starting with cuts to US military aid to Israel, as called for by the Palestinian BDS National Committee with broad support across Palestinian society. I oppose laws in the United States that criminalize individuals and businesses that take their own BDS actions. These laws violate our constitutional rights to organize, speak out, and take political action.

If the US is going to play a positive role diplomatically in promoting a just solution, it has to end its unconditional support for Israel in whatever it chooses to do and instead become a neutral broker helping both sides to negotiate their differences. The political solution is up to the Palestinians and Israelis to negotiate because self-determination means they decide their solution, not us.

Fight COVIF-19 Not Venezuela

The Keystone Cops have nothing on the rag-tag group of soldiers of fortune who failed earlier this week in their implausible plot to kidnap Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, trigger a military coup, and install the US puppet, Juan Guaidó, in the presidency.

We know all about the hair-brained scheme due to a falling out of the thieves. The man behind the plot, Jordan Goudreau, spilled the beans because Guaidó only paid Goudreau $50,000 of the $200 million promised in a contract both men signed. Goudreau has released the contract as well as audio of discussions about the contract in an apparent attempt to distance himself from responsibility for the badly botched coup attempt.

On Sunday and Monday, Venezuelan military forces killed eight and captured a dozen members of what is reported to be a 60-member assault force trying to carry out the coup attempt. They are a portion of a group of 300 who had been training for the mission in Colombia under the direction of Goudreau’s private military company without adequate food or equipment. Among the captured were two US special forces veterans and a man who says he is an agent of the U.S. government’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The rest are Venezuelan army deserters.

Former US special forces soldier Luke Denman who was captured said in a videotaped interview played on national television in Venezuela that he was part of a team that was to secure the airport and fly President Maduro to the United States. In the tape, he said that the person in charge of the coup attempt was President Trump. Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Defense Mike Esper have all denied the U.S. was involved.

While US government officials deny involvement in the plot, it strains credulity in the context of the support for regime change by Trump and most of the members of both parties in Congress to think that the CIA and US military intelligence were not aware of the plans of this mercenary force. As if he had foreknowledge, John Bolton, a long-time fixture in right-wing national security circles and Trump’s one-time national security advisor, tweeted on April 30 right before the assault was launched, “Morning is coming to Venezuela — again.” If US intelligence agencies were not directly involved in supporting the plot, they certainly did nothing to stop it.

One conclusion we can draw from this farce is that Juan Guaidó is no democrat. It just reaffirms that he and his Venezuelan and international allies are willing—hypocritically in the name of democracy—to employ violence and a military coup for regime change in Venezuela.

Trump first publicly called for US military action to remove Maduro from power in August 2017. In January 2019, the US recognized Juan Guaidó after he declared himself the Venezuelan president. Vice President Mike Pence called Guaidó the night before his declaration and told him the US would back him. The US assembled an international coalition of 65 allied nations to recognize Guaidó.

Putting in place a US-subservient Venezuelan government has been a long-term bipartisan national security goal of the United States. Trump’s regime change operations build on efforts by President George W. Bush’s administration, which was involved in a coup against President Hugo Chavez in 2002, and by President Obama who put in place unilateral coercive measures (known as economic sanctions) after declaring Venezuela to be a national security threat.

The current attempt at a putsch comes almost one year to the day after Guaidó’s failed call for a military uprising against the Venezuela government. The US kicked off a renewed regime change push in early February when President Trump planted Guaidó in the House chamber gallery for his State of the Union address. Trump called Guaidó the legitimate president of Venezuela, which brought the Democratic as well as Republican members of Congress to their feet in a standing applause.

In March, as the global pandemic hit the Americas with full force, the U.S. tightened sanctions against Venezuela and the U.S. Treasury Department pressured the International Monetary Fund to deny Venezuela access to emergency finances to address the health crisis.

As March turned to April, the US announced a spurious charge of narco-trafficking against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro when the evidence points to that criminal activity being perpetrated by US allies among Colombia’s political leaders. The US then deployed a naval detachment off the coast of Venezuela on an “anti-narcotics mission.” On May 2, the day before the failed mercenary incursion, the US activated 200 Army Reservists to join the Navy’s patrol.

Regime change operations against oil-rich Venezuela have nothing to do with promoting democracy or the security of the people of the United States. It’s another war for oil and other resources and against any country that charts an independent path of development and diplomacy outside of US tutelage. Venezuela not only has the largest oil reserves in the world but also the largest reserves of gold and silver, the fifth-largest reserves of natural gas, and vast quantities of minerals needed for electronics and weapons.

This US aggression comes at a time when Trump is inept and Biden is invisible in mounting an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic depression. When the US needs federal health care, income, job, housing, and small business protections, Trump is pitting the 50 states against each other and the nations of the world against each other in a mad scramble for medical supplies and virus testing. The US needs coordination to provide testing, contact tracing, and quarantining the infected so that people can safely resume economic activity. The world needs cooperation to develop better treatments and eventually a vaccine for the dangerous disease. But Trump is spreading misinformation and Biden is failing to use his platform to point us toward an effective response. Both support regime change in Venezuela that would install Juan Guaidó as president. We should be fighting COVID-19, not Venezuela.

With respect to Venezuela we must demand that the United States:

  • Withdraw diplomatic recognition of Guaidó.
  • Stop regime change operations against Venezuela.
  • Normalize relations with Venezuela.
  • Lift the economic sanctions against Venezuela.
  • Resume aid and trade with Venezuela, particularly to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump won’t do it and Biden won’t do it—unless we make them. We must make opposition to US aggression toward Venezuela an issue in the presidential and congressional elections. A big vote for anti-imperialist Green Party candidates will send whoever is elected a message.

Voting has to be accompanied by massive protests. That is what convinced Nixon in the fall of 1969 that he would lose re-election if he carried out his secret plan to end the Vietnam war, which was to nuke North Vietnam. That is what convinced Congress to override Reagan’s veto of sanctions against apartheid South Africa. We can make them do the right thing again if we rise up, speak out, and vote for what we want.

The 5th Coronavirus Relief Package We Need

The coronavirus depression is fast becoming as deep as the Great Depression. The federal government’s response has been too little, too late.

While sickness and death spread, while unemployment and small business failures soar, while health care and essential workers lack personal protective equipment (PPE), Congress is in recess until May 4.

The childlike dummy, Donald Trump, spouts bad advice daily in his televised briefings. Thursday he said we could beat the coronavirus by injecting disinfectants or somehow shining ultraviolet radiation inside our bodies.

Meanwhile, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, is MIA. Is he sitting on a park bench somewhere feeding bread crumbs to pigeons?

Since the lockdown started five weeks ago, 26 million people have applied for unemployment insurance. But many qualified people have yet to receive unemployment benefits, or even get their applications accepted through overwhelmed state unemployment insurance agencies.

Economists estimate that the real unemployment rate may have reached 23% in April, which is about as high as it ever got in the Great Depression. The economy had contracted nearly 50% four years into Great Depression, while economists predict a contraction of 25% to 50% over a few months now.

Many of these temporary layoffs are turning into permanent job losses as businesses fail, particularly the small business that provide half of the nation’s jobs. Half of small businesses went into the lockdown with less than a month of cash reserves to cover fixed expenses like rent or mortgage and utilities. When small businesses run out of cash, they are dead.

The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) was supposed to keep these small businesses going, but like the unemployment insurance program, the loans are not getting to most people and the money allocated is far from enough to meet the need. 60% of small businesses have applied, but only 5% small businesses have received PPP funding.

When the lockdown started, Obama’s Small Business Administration head, Karen Mills, predicted a small business failure rate of 20% in a “best case scenario” and 30% in a “good scenario.” With a nearly 100% failure rate by the federal government in responding to the coronavirus depression, the carnage among small businesses and their workers is looking like a worst case scenario.

Big businesses are getting bailed out. Much of the money designated for small businesses has been snatched up by big businesses before small business’s applications were even considered. The half a trillion allocated for big businesses is being doled out to Trump cronies without disclosure of the recipients and without restrictions against firing workers or bonuses for executives. The Federal Reserve has cut its overnight borrowing interest rate for banks to zero and is engaged in unlimited trillions of dollars of quantitative easing to backstop corporate debt.

Meanwhile, essential workers—in hospitals, grocery stores, public transit, sanitation, food processing, package handling, delivery—are working in most cases without adequate or any PPE. We have already lost 83 transit workers to COVID-19 in New York City. We must demand an OSHA Temporary Standard to provide enforceable PPE protection for workers.

Most of the elements of the 5th Relief Package we need have been introduced by various members of Congress, but they won’t be included if we don’t speak up and demand real emergency relief.

Here are measures the 5th Relief Package should include to protect our health and well-being during the crisis:

– Medicare to Pay for COVID-19 Testing and Treatment and All Emergency Health Care
– Defense Production Act to Rapidly Plan the Production and Distribution of Medical Supplies and a Universal Test, Contact Trace, and Quarantine – – Program to Safely Reopen the Economy
– An OSHA Temporary Standard to Provide Enforceable PPE Protection for Workers
– $2,000 a Month to All Over Age 16 and $500 per Child
– Loans to All Businesses and Hospitals for Payroll and Fixed Overhead To Be Forgiven If All Workers Are Kept on Payroll
– Moratorium on Evictions, Foreclosures, and Utility Shutoffs
– Cancel Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Payments; Federal Government Pays Those Bills; High-income People Pay Taxes on this Relief
– Suspend Student Loan Payments with 0% Interest Accumulation
– Federal Universal Rent Control
– Aid to State and Local Governments Sufficient to Keep Essential Services Running
– Universal Mail-in Ballots for the 2020 General Election

A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that over the last 600 years, the economic depression after pandemics persists for about 40 years, in contrast to much faster recoveries after wars. The difference is that capital is destroyed in wars that has to be rebuilt, but not in pandemics. Coming out of this pandemic, we should destroy the productive capital stock that has been heating up the planet and poisoning the environment and replace it with clean energy, zero waste production systems.

To rebuild our economy when it is safe to go back to work, we should invest public money on the scale needed to put everyone to back to doing what we should have been doing before the coronavirus crisis hit in order to protect our climate and our people. I have detailed a 10-Year, $42 Trillion budget for an Ecosocialist Green New Deal that would create 38 million new jobs rebuilding all of our production systems for zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions, zero-waste recycling, and 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 in order to reverse the climate crisis and other environmental problems.

This full-strength Green New Deal includes an Economic Bill of Rights to end poverty and economic despair. It provides for a job guarantee, a guaranteed income above poverty, affordable housing, Medicare for All, lifelong tuition-free public education, and a secure retirement by doubling Social Security benefits. We need the Green New Deal now for economic recovery as well as climate safety.

May Day is Red and Green

May Day, or International Workers Day, is celebrated with marches and rallies every May 1 to lift up the working people and their demands for freedom, equality, and justice. That is the Red tradition of May Day. But there is also an older Green tradition in which cultures the world over celebrate as Spring arrives in temperate and arctic climates or the wet season arrives in tropical climates. This Green tradition of May Day celebrates all that is free and life-giving on the green Earth that is our commonwealth and heritage. These Red and Green May Day traditions are complementary.

Historian Peter Linebaugh, in his The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day, provides an evocative description of the Green tradition of May Day:

Once upon a time, long before Weinberger bombed north Africans, before the Bank of Boston laundered money, or Reagan honored the Nazi war dead, the earth was blanketed by a broad mantle of forests. As late as Caesar’s time a person might travel through the woods for two months without gaining an unobstructed view of the sky. The immense forests of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America provided the atmosphere with oxygen and the earth with nutrients. Within the woodland ecology, our ancestors did not have to work the graveyard shift, or to deal with flextime, or work from Nine to Five. Indeed, the native Americans whom Captain John Smith encountered in 1606 only worked four hours a week. The origin of May Day is to be found in the Woodland Epoch of History….

Everywhere people “went a-Maying” by going into the woods and bringing back leaf, bough, and blossom to decorate their persons, homes, and loved ones with green garlands. Outside theater was performed with characters like “Jack-in-the-Green” and the “Queen of the May.” Trees were planted. Maypoles were erected. Dances were danced. Music was played. Drinks were drunk, and love was made. Winter was over, spring had sprung.

The Red tradition of May Day developed in response to the rise of capitalism, which undermined the Green tradition of May Day that people the world over had celebrated for millennia. Beginning in the 1500s in a process that continues to this day, landlords and capitalists have increasingly dispossessed working people from their land, their tools of production, and thus control over their means to life.

In the 1500s, rich landowners, with the support of the state, began to appropriate and take exclusive ownership of ancient public lands and forests, enclosing them for their own private profit-seeking purposes. Peasant communities lost their communal use of common fields and forests for grazing animals, hunting game, and gathering food and wood. This process continues today in many parts of the world.

The next stage of dispossession developed with the rise of the factories of industrial capitalism, which underpriced the handcrafted products of artisans, who then became dependent on capitalists for employment in the factories. In the U.S., the American ideal of republican liberty grounded in the economic independence of a free citizenry of small farmers and artisans gave way to a more inequitable class society of many workers and increasingly fewer capitalists, alongside a moderately-sized middle class of professionals and managers. The working people no longer had their freedom grounded in the economic independence provided by their own land and tools. They were now dependent on capitalists for their means of livelihood. When they crossed the threshold of the workplace, they entered a dictatorship where they had to work as directed and surrender their political rights to free speech, press, and assembly in the workplace. They received a fixed wage, while the owners took all the additional value that their labor created. They soon began to call their oppressive and exploited condition “wage slavery” in a conscious comparison to the conditions of African slaves on southern plantations.

The workers’ movement that arose in response began to organize labor unions and political parties around a program of cooperative production where workers would democratically manage their collective work and workers would receive the full fruits of their labor. They reasoned that economic democracy in cooperative production was the only way they could restore their freedom and achieve a decent standard of living under the conditions of large-scale production. The first political party in the world to raise this program – which soon became known as socialism – arose in Philadelphia and New York City in 1929 when labor unions organized the Workingmen’s Party. The “Workies” elected the president of the carpenters union to the state Assembly of New York.

The author of the Workies’ platform resolutions, Thomas Skidmore, soon penned a book called The Rights of Man to Property! He argued for common ownership of large-scale means of production, universal public education, a debt jubilee, and land redistribution. He called for the abolition of private inheritance with estates going into a public fund for distribution of a share to each person upon adulthood. He called not only for the abolition of slavery but for reparations, for land and a share of the nation’s wealth to the former slaves to help them get started on their farms. He called for citizenship for American Indians and suffrage and equal rights for women. With an eye to environmental protection, he decried the destruction of the planet’s resources that would eventually result from capitalism’s promotion of the unrestricted use of unlimited private property.

This Red tradition of socialism can be seen as a way to recover the ecological sustainability that the Green tradition of May Day rejoiced and sanctified. It will take the full political and economic democracy of socialism to give the people the power to choose ecological balance instead of being powerless subjects of capitalism’s competitive structural drive for the blind, relentless growth that devours the environment. Hence Green Party activists often describe their perspective as ecological socialism.

The Red tradition of May Day emerged in the 1880s in the United States. It arose out of the worker’s movement fighting for the same kinds of demands that the Workies had raised in 1829. The immediate impetus came from the Haymarket Massacre in 1886. On the night of May 4, 1886, 176 Chicago police attacked about 200 workers who remained after a day-long demonstration for the 8-hour day. The police fired live ammunition, killing four and wounding 70. Somebody threw a stick of dynamite. Eight of the labor organizers were charged and convicted. Four of them were hung to death. One of the Haymarket martyrs, Albert Parsons, a white former confederate soldier married to Lucy Parsons, a former slave of African, Indian, and Mexican descent, said at this trial, “What is Socialism or Anarchism? Briefly stated it is the right of the toilers to the free and equal use of the tools of production and the right of the producers to their product.”

Lucy Parsons campaigned across the United States and Europe to have the worker’s movement commemorate May 1 as International Workers Day. Many workers’ organizations supported her call, including the American Federation of Labor, which then urged its adoption by the Second International of socialist parties. The first international May Day celebration in 1890 was a big success. The demonstrations worried the establishments across the world. After Coxey’s Army descended on May 1, 1894, in the first mass march on Washington, D.C. to demand public works spending to employ the unemployed in the midst of severe depression, President Grover Cleveland got Congress to declare a federal Labor Day holiday in September in a move designed to divide the labor movement.

Green Party members will be joining with other working people’s organizations to commemorate International Workers Day this year online given the social distancing we must practice in this coronavirus pandemic. What Greens can do to bring to these events is an understanding of the connections between the Red and Green traditions of May Day.

Conservatives try to red-bait Greens as “watermelons – green on the outside but red on the inside.” But we don’t take that as an insult. We will be on the ballot line in November as the Green Party, but there is plenty of Red as well as Green in our platform.

Workers Need More Rights and Economic Democracy

As someone who has been a union member since I was a Marine with the American Servicemen’s Union until I retired last year as a Teamster as well as a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, I have lived the reality of mistreatment of workers in the United States.

It is good to see labor rising with teacher and other strikes increasing across the country and with the US public showing its highest support for unions in decades. The next president should harness the energy of working people and build political power for a transformation agenda for working people who have not gotten a real raise in decades, while executives and investors have been getting rich off of higher rates of exploitation with increased productivity and globalized markets and corporate-managed trade deals that enable global corporations to pit the working classes of different countries against each other in a race to the bottom.

Urgent Reforms Needed, Time to Transform the Workplace

The centerpiece of my campaign for president is an ecosocialist Green New Deal. Responding to the climate crisis is going to require changes to many sectors of the economy. We need to create a new democratic and ecological economy. We must define this economy with the rights of workers in mind, not only their right to collective bargaining but the need to make workers into owners to end the capitalist crisis highlighted by the reality that three people have wealth equal to 50 percent of the population.

We need social and cooperative ownership where workers receive the full value of their labor. Now we are exploited. We get a fixed wage and all the surplus value we create with our work is taken by capitalists as profits simply because they own the company, not because they did any work.

The Green New Deal requires the United States to reconstruct all economic sectors for ecological sustainability, from agriculture and manufacturing to housing and transportation. This means millions of new jobs in a democratized economy where some sectors are nationalized, others are controlled by state and municipal government and more are re-made into cooperatives that are worker-owned.

A Green New Deal must include a Just Transition, which means income to compensate all workers whose jobs are eliminated by steps taken to protect the environment. Displaced workers should be guaranteed up to five years of their previous income and benefits as they make the transition to alternative work.

As part of the Green New Deal, I am calling for an Economic Bill of Rights, which includes a job guarantee and a guaranteed minimum income above poverty for all. The housing crisis will be alleviated with the institution of universal rent control and expansion of public housing in walkable communities with access to regional mass transit. Air and water pollution will be relieved by putting in place a 100% electrified transportation system emphasizing freight rails, high-speed inter-city rails, and urban light-rail mass transit, with electric powered cars and trucks where they are still needed.

A crash program of federal government investment and public enterprises to rebuild our economy for zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030 will create full employment and shared prosperity. But not everyone is able to work. And some things should be human rights, not commodities you can only get if you have enough money. That’s why we need a social safety net of social services funded publicly, not privately out of pocket. That means a national health service for universal health care, lifelong free public education, student debt relief, and a secure retirement by doubling Social Security benefits. The ecosocialist Green New Deal is a plan to remake the economy so that it serves the people and protects the ecology and the climate. Those objectives require a socialist economic democracy so that we the people–not big business interests–have the power to choose economic justice and ecological sanity.

Immediate Reforms For Working People

In addition to changes coming as a result of putting in place an ecosocialist Green New Deal, we need are immediate labor law reforms.

Repeal Repressive Labor Laws: Repeal the sections of the Taft-Hartley Act, the Landrum-Griffin Act, the Hatch Act, and state “Right-To-Work” laws that have crippled labor’s ability to organize by outlawing or severely restricting labor’s basic organizing tools: strikes, boycotts, pickets, and political action. This should include putting in place Card Check which extends union bargaining status to majority sign-up or card-check recognition.

A Workers’ Bill of Rights: Enact a set of legally enforceable civil rights, independent of collective bargaining. This should include:

(1) Extending the Bill of Rights protections of free speech, association, and assembly into all workplaces.

(2) Establishes workers’ rights to living wages, portable pensions, information about chemicals used, report labor and environmental violations, refuse unsafe work, and participate in enterprise governance. OSHA must be funded adequately to protest workers and communities and workers empowered to enforce safety and health regulations. Retirement should include a mandatory system of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts that provide a return of at least 3 percent above inflation guaranteed by the federal government.

(3) Establishes workers’ rights to freedom from discharge at will, employer search and seizure in the workplace, sexual harassment, and unequal pay for work of comparable worth. These rights should ensure that workers can take legal action to stop wage theft. In addition to a living wage, workers should have subsidized, high quality child care and elder care. Workers should receive six weeks of paid vacation annually in addition to federal holidays. For every seven years worked, they should receive one year of paid educational leave and one year of parental leave for each child with no loss of seniority.

Employer Accountability: There must be strong and speedy penalties for employers who break labor laws. In addition, federal law needs to ban striker replacements, provide triple back pay for illegally locked-out workers, and there must be unemployment compensation for striking and locked-out workers.

Labor Law Protections for Farm workers: Extend to farm workers the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards.

Labor Law Protections for Prisoners: Enact legislation to end the super-exploitation of prison labor at pennies per hour, which undercuts the wages of workers outside the prison system. The prison labor system as it exists now is akin to slavery and the prison labor camps in other authoritarian countries. Work done by prisoners can be part of rehabilitation and enable prisoners to acquire job skills, support their families, and have savings upon release. Work done by prisoners for private contractors and for public works and services should be paid prevailing wages. Prison workers should have all the protections of labor law, including the right to organize unions.

Fair Trade: Trade deals should be rewritten to uplift labor and environmental standards across borders. Fair trade pacts should eliminate secretive trade tribunals to which only governments and corporations have access. Trade disputes should be adjudicated in public courts to which workers, unions, and public have access.

It is time to correct the decades of diminishing worker rights and shrinking unions as well as low-pay. The United States is about to begin a transformation to a clean, sustainable energy future. The new economy we create must prioritize the rights of workers to create an economy that works for the 99 percent, not just the 1 percent.

On Day One, the Next President Should Declare A Climate Emergency

The next president should declare a Climate Emergency, which will give the president powers to act rapidly and decisively to confront the climate crisis. The president should also create a cabinet-level Office of Climate Mobilization for the coordination of all federal agencies in mobilizing the nation’s resources to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.

On July 29, I signed the 350 Action’s Day One Pledge, which asks presidential candidates to take four steps their first day in office:

  1. Reject all new federally-approved coal, oil, gas, and other fossil fuel project permits.
  2. Phase out oil and gas drilling and fracking on public lands and off our coasts.
  3. Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.
  4. Ask Congress to investigate the fossil fuel industry’s role in misleading the public and stalling climate action, and to prepare to hold the industry accountable.

I am still the only presidential candidate to have signed the pledge to date.

350 Action’s Day One Pledge is certainly a good start on climate action. I think their call for presidential actions to immediately curtail fracking and new fossil fuel projects is particularly important. Those actions are the immediate cutting-edge demands of the climate movement now.

If we don’t stop these projects, we will be locked into at least three or four decades of greenhouse gas emissions because that is how long investors expect to profit from their investments. If we let these projects develop – new fracked-gas and fracked-oil wells, pipelines to transport fracked gas and oil, gas-fired power plants, and more – it will be too late to stop a climate holocaust.

I believe the president should take more actions on Day One. My campaign platform goes much farther and is centered around an Ecosocialist Green New Deal, which includes an Economic Bill of Rights for economic and environmental justice as well as a Green Economic Reconstruction Program for zero emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030 in all productive sectors – agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and buildings as well as electric power production.

Office of Climate Mobilization

On Day One, the president should ask Congress for the authority to set up a cabinet-level Office of Climate Mobilization to plan and coordinate among all federal agencies an emergency mobilization to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030.

The analogy here would be the Office of War Mobilization during World War II. The federal government nationalized or built a quarter of all US manufacturing capacity during the war in order to turn industry on a dime into the Arsenal of Democracy to defeat the fascist Axis powers. We need to do nothing less to defeat climate change.

Our ecosocialist Green New Deal would do one thing very differently. After World War II, the federal government handed back the war production facilities, many of them built at public expense, to the super-rich and their giant corporations. We will build and develop these Green New Deal factories as worker cooperatives so that everybody working in them receives their full, fair, and equitable share of the value they create with their labor.

Declare the Climate Crisis a National Emergency

On Day One, the next president should declare a Climate Emergency. The next president should seek the cooperation of Congress, but not be deterred from acting on the climate crisis if faced with another do-nothing Congress. By declaring the climate crisis a national emergency, the president is empowered by existing laws with many authorities to address the climate crisis without congressional approval.

Most of the emergency power legislation relates to threats to national security. Congressional, presidential, Pentagon, and intelligence reports and policy documents have identified climate change as a national security threat since 1990, with increasing urgency as the years have gone by.

The climate-change deniers in the Trump administration may have deleted climate change from the list of national security threats in their National Defense Strategy documents since 2017, but if the fact-challenged Trump administration can declare an emergency to divert military funds to an unneeded wall on the Mexican border, the next president will have far more grounds in government reports and policy documents for declaring a climate emergency.

What could the president do with emergency powers? Some lawyers have begun to look into this, and here are some of the powers they think the president would have:

  • Reorganize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), now captured by the fossil fuel industry, into the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC) with the new mission of enabling a rapid shift to clean renewable energy.
  • Divert military construction funds to building clean renewable energy.
  • Suspend oil leases because they add to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Use emergency powers to respond to industrial shortfalls to support clean renewable energy.
  • Extend loan guarantees to critical industries to support renewable energy.
  • Instruct the Department of Transportation to use its broad power to “coordinate transportation” during national emergencies to restrict gasoline-powered truck and vehicle transportation while expanding electrified rail transportation.
  • Use US votes in the IMF and World Bank to ban funding for fossil fuel projects.
  • Declare a ban on eminent domain for fossil fuel infrastructure.
  • Mandate that federal agencies weigh the climate impact of their decisions.
  • Reward proposals for government contracts based on their impact on climate change
  • Instruct the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require corporations to disclose their vulnerability to climate impacts.
  • Close the loophole in EPA regulations that exempts agribusiness from reporting the greenhouse gas emissions of cattle, unlike other agricultural products.
  • Require projects subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires analysis and mitigation of environmental impacts, to include measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental Justice and a Global Green New Deal

From Day One, the next president should also prioritize using the public money spent on climate action to uplift the economies of poor communities by spending the funds directly on projects in those areas under community direction instead of passing the funds through state governments that have neglected these communities.

From Day One, the next president should ask Congress to appropriate funds for a Just Transition for workers and communities who lose jobs and tax revenues due to economic conversion to demilitarized green production in the military, fossil fuel, and other economic sectors. The Just Transition should guarantee five years of wage, benefit, and local tax revenue maintenance as the country transitions to a clean energy and demilitarized economy. In the meantime, the president should use the powers and resources available under an emergency declaration to support a Just Transition for workers and communities.

From Day One, the next president should advocate for and contribute substantial resources to a Global Green New Deal, where the rich countries help the poor countries develop by jumping over the 19th century fossil age into the 21st century solar age. The solution to the climate crisis will be international, or there won’t be a solution.

Replacing the climate-denier-in-chief now occupying the White House is only the first step. Brazil’s aggressive deforestation of the Amazon is a carbon climate bomb. China is building 700 coal plants along its Belt and Road Initiative. The Gulf autocracies are mobilized politically across the world to stop any transition away from oil and gas. Russia just launched a barge with the first of at least seven planned floating nuclear power stations to power its massive expansion of offshore oil and gas extraction in the Arctic Ocean.

The next president will have to employ an aggressive and sophisticated mix of diplomatic and economic incentives to help the whole world commit to a rapid transition to clean energy and climate safety. The US will find many allies among most of the countries of the world who have pushed for much more aggressive climate action in the UN-sponsored climate summits. These nations include most of the poor countries that are bearing the most immediate and biggest burdens of climate change. The climate change already baked in by greenhouse gas in the atmosphere now means it is already too late for some of the island nations. Twenty-four of the world’s 33 largest river deltas are already being damaged by rising seas, adversely affecting 500 million people. The UN forecasts up to 1 billion climate refugees by 2050 who will be forced to move due to rising seas, excessive heat, or drought in their home communities.

Trade agreements and a carbon tax, which serves as a tariff on high-carbon imports, will be part of the policy mix. The massive public investments needed for the energy revolution will be a huge economic stimulus and a big incentive for countries to join in the economic boom of converting all productive systems to zero emissions and clean power, from regenerative agriculture and zero-waste manufacturing to electrified transportation and green buildings. We must also realize that this kind of global investment and coordination will require an international ecosocialist economic democracy where productive facilities are largely socially owned and democratically administered to meet the basic needs of all within ecological limits.

The ruling classes of many powerful countries with vested interests in fossil fuels will resist. But there are more of us than there are of them. We cannot leave our futures in their hands anymore if we want to survive.

That is a tall order compared to signing on to 350 Action’s Day One Pledge of minimal commonsense climate actions. But none of the major party candidates have signed yet. That is just another case in point for why we need Green Party candidates campaigning for real solutions – because the major parties do not.

Nuclear Disarmament Should Be a Top 2020 Campaign Issue But Is Being Ignored

Two years ago on July 7, 2017, 122 nations approved the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of NuclearWeapons (TPNW). The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for spearheading this achievement. Few Americans are aware of it and none of the major presidential candidates are informing us.

None of the nuclear powers (China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, UK, US) participated in the negotiations. The treaty is now being considered by the nations of the world. 23 nations have ratified it. The treaty goes into effect for signatories when 50 nations ratify it.

As the biggest military power by far in the world today, the US can play a pivotal role in initiating nuclear disarmament. US nuclear disarmament peace initiatives should start with taking US nukes off hair-trigger alert, declaring a No First Use policy, and unilaterally disarming to a minimum credible deterrent. Those initiatives would lay the foundation for following up with urgent negotiations with the nuclear powers for complete global nuclear disarmament and ratification of the TPNW.

None of the major presidential candidates are now calling for this set of nuclear disarmament peace initiatives.

The Growing Threat of Nuclear War

We are lucky to still be alive today because the US, Russia, and other nuclear powers have had their nukes on hair-trigger alert for launch on warning for over 60 years with enough nukes to kill us all from starvation in a nuclear winter if the blasts and radiation don’t kill us first.

We have come close many times to blowing ourselves off the face of the Earth during international crises and false alarms. The US has repeatedly used nuclear weapons as blackmail. As Daniel Ellsberg has repeatedly explained, these threats are like the mugger who puts a gun to your head and demands all your money. Every president from Truman to Trump has used this nuclear terrorism to demand concessions from other countries. “No option is off the table.” Such threats could easily blow up into the real thing.

The “nuclear football” that is carried around with the president is for all practical purposes a fiction to reassure the public about command and control of US nuclear weapons. In fact, the power to launch nukes has been delegated far down the chain of command since Eisenhower’s presidency. Once one nuke flies, they will all fly in automated “Doomsday Machines” on both the US and Russian sides. Daniel Ellsberg documents all this in his “second Pentagon Papers,” his 2016 book The Doomsday Machine:
Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

Now we are into a new nuclear arms race, with nuclear modernization programs underway in the US and Russia. They are now joined by China and Pakistan in deploying “miniaturized” tactical nukes into conventional battlefields with the idea that their use won’t trigger a strategic nuclear armageddon. This new Cold War and nuclear arms race, along with the climate crisis, convinced the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 2018 to move their Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, as close to Doomsday as it has ever been since the 1953 crisis when both the US and USSR began testing H- bombs amidst high tensions.

The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM), Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF), and Iran nuclear agreements have been unilaterally abandoned by the US. Russia responded to the 2001 ABM withdrawal by increasing its nuclear arsenal. After Trump withdrew the US from the INF treaty last November, Putin followed his lead in March. The Strategic Arms Treaty (START) expires in February 2021. Trump calls it a terrible treaty. Warhawk John Bolton, who was a key player in the US reneging on the ABM, INF, and Iran nuclear agreements, is in charge of START negotiations.

Democrats Silent

The Democratic presidential candidates are largely silent on these developments, except for the venerable Mike Gravel. On his presidential campaign website, Gravel calls for fully agreeing to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and pledging No First Use of nuclear weapons.

Gravel’s program is a good start. I have had great respect for Senator Gravel since June 1971 when he convened his Buildings and Grounds subcommittee and started reading into the Congressional Record the Pentagon Papers, which Daniel Ellsberg had conveyed to him while on the lam from the FBI. As Gravel was putting the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, the Supreme Court was deliberating on whether to sustain a federal court injunction against their publication.

I have one quibble with Gravel on fully agreeing to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This 1970 treaty has three parts: stop the spread of nuclear weapons to new countries, negotiate complete global nuclear disarmament and general disarmament, and promote the spread of the “peaceful atom.” It’s the third part I object to. Nuclear power risks catastrophic accidents that produces deadly radioactive waste that has to be isolated for over 250,000 years and facilitates nuclear weapons proliferation. Instead of
proliferating nuclear power, we need a Global Green New Deal that builds clean, renewable energy and economic human rights.

In all likelihood, Gravel won’t be on the November 2020 ballot. Tulsi Gabbard got notice in the first Democratic debate by calling nuclear war the biggest threat we face. But she’s a self-described hawk for the US “war on terror, who supports drone strikes, torture, the division of Iraq and Syria along ethnic/sectarian lines, and the intervention of US special forces in partnership with authoritarian regimes. Gabbard has joined three other candidates—Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren—as co-sponsors of the congressional No-First-Use bills. However, none of these or other Democratic candidates have No First Use in the issues section of their campaign websites or raise it in their campaign appearances. No First Use is not a high priority for them.

Nuclear Disarmament Peace Initiatives

The doctrines of no first use and a minimum deterrent have already been deployed by China and India, although both are now reconsidering their posture in the face of the new nuclear arms race that they fear makes their deterrent forces vulnerable to a first strike. Nuclear strategists’ proposals for a US minimum credible nuclear deterrent range from a handful to a few hundred nuclear weapons deployed on hard-to-detect nuclear submarines. The US currently has over 6,000 nuclear warheads. The point of a minimum deterrent is to deploy the minimum nuclear weapons sufficient to inflict enough damage in a strike back against a nuclear attacker to deter such an attack in the first place. Moving to a US minimum credible deterrent combined with a no-first-use policy will maintain nuclear deterrence; reduce the motivations for the nuclear arms race; ease tensions, particularly in a crisis; reduce the risks of miscalculations and accidental nuclear war; save money; reduce the risk of an omnicidal nuclear winter in the event of a nuclear war; and give the US political credibility in negotiations for mutual and complete global nuclear disarmament.

A program of US Nuclear Disarmament Peace Initiatives should include:

• Take nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert.
• Adopt a No-First-Use policy for nuclear weapons.
• Unilaterally Disarm to a Minimum Credible Nuclear Deterrent, including end the nuclear weapons modernization program.
• Dismantle the land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
• Dismantle the strategic nuclear bomber force.
• Dismantle the tactical nuclear weapons.
• Dismantle preemptive first-strike forces.
• Keep a minimum credible deterrent of nuclear weapons on submarines (SLBMs).
• Begin urgent negotiations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty toward complete global nuclear disarmament and general disarmament.
• Sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

With none of the major presidential candidates raising this kind of nuclear disarmament program, it is up to the US peace movement and Green Party candidates up and down the ticket to inject these demands into the 2020 elections.

The US Must Repair Historic and Current Racism


On this Juneteenth, we must confront the impacts of racism dating back to the founding of the United States with the slave trade of Black people brought from Africa, Jim Crow segregation, and policies that continue to this day that cause wealth inequality, disinvestment in Black communities, police violence, mass incarceration, and white nationalist violence.

A pre-eminent African historian, Basil Davidson, credits the initiation of the African slave trade to Columbus. The first license granted to send enslaved Africans to the Caribbean was issued in 1501, during Columbus’s rule in the Indies. Davidson labels Columbus the “father of the slave trade.” African slavery is as old as the European colonization of North America.

History of Juneteenth in the Context of the Legacy of US Racism

The nation typically celebrates Emancipation Day, January 1, as the end of slavery, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Then what is Juneteenth? Juneteenth, Freedom Day, commemorates the true end of legalized slavery in the United States. It dates back to June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers came to Galveston, Texas and announced that all slaves were free and the Civil War had come to an end. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. There were 250,000 slaves in Texas and 4 million throughout the United States when the war came to an end and slaves were freed.

Emancipation was followed by the period of Reconstruction, during the term of President Andrew Johnson. The Johnson administration prioritized the return of the southern states to the Union and looked away while new southern state legislatures passed restrictive “Black Codes” modeled after slave laws designed to force Black people into labor for minor violations of law and restrict the freedom of former slaves. There was a backlash against these racist laws and in 1868, the Civil Rights Act became the first major bill to become law overriding a presidential veto. In February 1869, Congress approved the 15th Amendment which guaranteed that a citizen’s right to vote would not be denied “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Black people began to run and win elected office putting in place a series of progressive policies including the first state-funded public school systems in the South, more equitable taxation, and laws against racial discrimination in public transport and accommodations, until Jim Crow segregation was consolidated toward the end of the 19th century. While 20 Black people served in the US House and two in the US Senate between 1870 and 1901, none were elected until one in 1929. A few more served in the House until after passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

The racist backlash to this progress led by the Ku Klux Klan used violence to stop Black voters and forcibly overthrow Reconstruction state governments. The slogan of these Democratic Party “Redeemers” was White Supremacy. The era of Jim Crow segregation began, lynching Black people became a tactic of terror, and vagrancy laws were enacted across the south to force Black people into unpaid labor. This continued until the Civil Rights era which culminated in desegregation court decisions and Civil Rights laws in the 1950s and 60s.

But, racist policies still continue. Black people in the United States are 6.4 times more likely than whites to be incarcerated, suffer an unemployment rate that is consistently twice as high as white unemployment and can expect to die 3.5 years sooner than a white person.

In 1968, the Kerner Commission Report concluded: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one Black, one white—separate and unequal.” It called for a sweeping set of reforms totaling some $80 billion. The federal government continued funding the Vietnam War instead and, beginning with the Nixon administration’s “war on drugs,” used arrests and mass incarceration to control Black communities.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, fifty years after the Kerner Commission, Black workers still make only 82.5 cents on every dollar earned by white workers, and African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites. A recent study found that the median White family now has 41 times more wealth than the median Black family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latinx family. Incarceration of African Americans tripled after 1980 and is currently more than six times the white incarceration rate.

From the first slave ship to the current racist economic, criminal justice and other policies, racism has created unequal opportunity and devastation in Black communities. The US needs a new approach to the economy that priorities racial equality as part of economic security for people of all races.

Race-conscious programs to remedy race-conscious injuries

Five hundred years of racial oppression requires the United States to face up to its history and correct historic and current injustices. The United States must enact HR 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, to develop remedies for the impact of slavery and subsequent racial discrimination on Black people.

Even before a reparations program is developed, we can begin immediately repairing the damage by strengthening the enforcement of civil rights and anti-discrimination laws. We must take affirmative action to reverse the growing race and resegregation of housing and schools and to dismantle how systems of oppression manifest in the school-to-jailhouse pipeline track and in the proliferation of test-driven charter schools.

We must take power from racists who discriminate and exclude Black and other people of color by empowering racially- oppressed communities to practice self-determination through collective community ownership and control of public housing, schools, police, and businesses. Empowerment means democratic community control so that the masses of racially-oppressed people benefit, not merely a more “representative” professional-managerial class that simply replaces the white professional-managerial class in soaking up most of the funding in salaries, grants, and contracts.

Dr. King said in his “I Have a Dream” speech:

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

King’s speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a call to implement the demands of the march, which amounted to an Economic Bill of Rights to jobs, income, housing, health care, and education. King and the other leaders of the march envisioned these the fulfillment of these economic rights as a down-payment on the promissory note that King referenced.

Special attention must be given to the criminal justice system. Communities must be empowered with ‘community control of police’ so the epidemic of racist police violence can be ended. The federal government must take action against police misconduct. Every step in the criminal justice process including arrest, prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration shows prejudice against people of color. We must end the war on drugs which disproportionately targets Black people by enacting legal adult use of marijuana, decriminalization of other drugs and harm reduction policies based on public health and treatment on request. Drug use is a health problem and should not be treated as a criminal problem. The drug war has been the engine of criminal justice racism and mass incarceration of Black people.

My campaign is calling for an Economic Bill of Rights as part of the Ecosocialist Green New Deal. This will provide universal programs for economic security for all but with a race-conscious emphasis on ending discrimination. This Bill of Rights would guarantee all people the rights of a living-wage job, an income above poverty, decent housing, comprehensive health care, a good education, and freedom from discrimination.

The Black freedom movement—including some of its leaders, Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin —urged us to move “from civil rights to human rights.” With the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 1966 Freedom Budget, and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, they demanded the implementation of FDR’s 1944 Economic Bill of Rights in a way that ended racial discrimination in education, employment, and housing. By linking racial justice to economic justice for all, we can build a majoritarian interracial movement of working people that can win these reforms. The Democrats have failed to do it for 75 years. The Greens will do it.

Finally, we must take federal action against white nationalist terrorism which President Trump has encouraged with his racist dog-whistling and incitements to violence. Actions must be taken to ensure that members of racist groups are prevented from making racist violent actions.

On this Juneteenth, we need more than anything else to demand an entirely new way of thinking about social, racial and economic issues. The US economy must prioritize economic security and racial equality. We must confront racism in the neglect of communities of color. Police enforcement and the criminal justice system, and many sectors of the US economy including healthcare, banking, housing, education, and employment must be re-made to put in place democratic control of these institutions, the fruit of which will be racial justice because self-determinant people will finally be in the driver’s seat. The United States needs to commit to undoing the damage of 500 years of racist policies and systems.

Earth Day, Planetary Boundaries, and the Green New Deal

As we celebrate Earth Day in 2019, we need to recognize that more than climate change threatens our environment and our very existence. We have passed or are approaching several Planetary Boundaries outside of which human society may not survive.

Environmental scientists have developed the concept of Planetary Boundaries to identify Earth system processes that human activity is disrupting. They have tried to identify boundaries beyond which that disruption will trigger radical planetary environmental changes that endanger the survival of human society.

Of the nine planetary boundaries these scientists have identified, they say that we have already passed four of them:

Climate Change: At 412 ppm atmospheric carbon last month, we have already passed the safe zone of below 350 ppm that would keep global temperature rise to under 1ºC and within the range of the current interglacial Holocene climate in which agriculture, the material foundation for human civilization, developed.

Biogeochemical Cycles: Earth’s biogeochemical nitrogen and phosphorus cycles have been disturbed even more than the carbon cycle. Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers pollute waterways and coastal zones overwhelm ecosystems’ capacity to absorb and recycle them, resulting in ecosystem collapse and low-oxygen dead zones.

Biodiversity: The 6th Mass Extinction in Earth’s history is underway and threatening to collapse ecosystems and hence agriculture and food production. For example, scientists recently reported that insects have declined at a 2.5% rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years, a reduction of 80% of insect biomass. Insects are at the base of every terrestrial ecosystem food web and energy pyramid. Agricultural pesticides, along with climate change and habitat destruction, are killing off the insects.

Land Use: Forests, wetlands, and biomes have been converted to industrialized agriculture and urban sprawl to the degree it is disrupting biogeochemical cycles and reducing biodiversity.

The other five boundaries these scientists identify are:

Ocean Acidification: Oceans are acidifying as atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves into the water as carbonic acid. Acidification is already killing off the corals, threatening the ability of shellfish to form their shells, and thus threatening the stability of ocean ecosystems. The greatest danger is posed by the threat of acidification to phytoplankton. Recent scientific reports warn that by 2100, ocean heating and acidification could so reduce phytoplankton, the source of two-thirds of atmospheric oxygen, that it may result in the suffocation of animal life on Earth. If we have not passed this planetary boundary, we are fast approaching it.

Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: We have good news here thanks to the Montreal Protocol adopted in 1987 by the world’s nations to ban the production of the chemicals that depleted stratospheric ozone. This ozone layer that protects life from excessive ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the Sun is recovering. The Montreal Protocol is a model for the kind of binding international agreements we must forge to address climate change and other environmental threats

Freshwater: Intense water use by industrialized agriculture and urban systems is depleting fresh water faster than it is naturally replenished. Pollution, aquifer depletion, and water-conserving habitat destruction are the causes. At present trends, half of the world’s people and agriculture will face water shortages by 2050.

Atmospheric Aerosols: Microscopic particles in the atmosphere affect the climate and living organisms. Some aerosols warm and others cool the planet, with a slight net cooling affect so far, though it is far from overriding the warming effect of greenhouse gases released by human activity. But aerosols have a negative affect on human respiratory organs, resulting in an estimated 4 million premature deaths annually.

Novel Chemicals and Materials: These include chemical pollutants, heavy metals, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, and micro-plastics. Barry Commoner, the late environmental scientist and Citizens Party presidential candidate in 1980 (which German Green Petra Kelly called America’s Green Party), warned us in his book Making Peace with the Planet (1990) that these novel entities disrupt the biosphere in which every new chemical created in the course of evolution co-evolved with enzymes to break them down to be recycled in the web of life. Without these enzymes for biodegradability, these novel entities bioaccumulate in the ecosystems and organisms, with potentially dangerous consequences to ecosystems and human health. While it is debatable how close we are to overshooting this planetary boundary, there is no debate that microplastics, for example, are now in our food and our organs.  Of the over 80,000 novel chemicals created for commercial use, only 200 have been tested for safety by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Expanded Green New Deal

What the Planetary Boundaries analysis means is that a Green New Deal must do more than build a clean energy system by 2030. It must be expanded into a full-scale Green Economy Reconstruction Program that not only transforms energy production to renewables, but transforms all our production systems to ecological sustainability. We can’t even get to 100% clean energy without reconstructing all of our production systems, from agriculture to transportation.

Industrial corporate agriculture must be converted to regenerative organic agriculture to eliminate pesticides and draw atmospheric carbon into living soils. Manufacturing must be converted to processes that rely on biodegradable or recyclable chemicals and materials. Transportation must be electrified, powered by clean renewables, with more emphasis on freight rails, high-speed rails, and urban light rails than trucking, personal vehicles, and air travel for intermediate distances. Urban systems must be reconfigured around walkable communities where homes, work, shopping, and mass transit are within a short walk of each other.

The vast majority of the military-industrial complex must be converted to ecological civilian production. The U.S. should be the world’s humanitarian superpower, not its sole military superpower. We should be helping poor countries meet basic needs and jump over the fossil fuel age into the solar age. We should be making friends with a Global Green New Deal instead of enemies with endless wars and a military empire of over 800 military bases placed in other countries to make the world safe for exploitation by global corporations instead of safe for the world’s peoples.

Ecosocialist Green New Deal

Conversion to an ecologically sustainable and just economy cannot happen under the capitalist system. Capitalism’s competitive structure drives blind, relentless growth that is consuming and destroying the biosphere. Its competitive international structure breeds wars for resources, markets, cheap labor, and geopolitical military advantages. With the nuclear weapons of the nuclear powers on hair-trigger alert and a new nuclear arms race now underway, the capitalist system will annihilate us if we don’t replace it with an ecosocialist system first.

We need an ecosocialist Green New Deal in order to coordinate the conversion of all production systems to sustainability. We need social ownership of key industries, like the energy sector. Exxon and the Koch Brothers are not going to reinvest their fossil fuel earnings in renewables. We must nationalize big oil. We need a bottom-up democratic process of economic planning so the public sector—public enterprises, infrastructure, and services—is responsive to the people in their communities.

We need a Just Transition to a green economy so no one is harmed in the process. The Green New Deal must include an Economic Bill of Rights that guarantees to all a living-wage job, an income above poverty, decent housing, comprehensive health care, and a good tuition-free public education from pre-K to college.

We need system change, not business as usual.