Workers of the World, Unite!
Vol. 2, No. 4 • July 2004
No. 50¢ ($1 Solidarity)
Water is a right!
Vol. 2, No. 4 • JULY 2004 1
Editor MARTIN SCHREADER Class struggle in the paint
SPMI Chairperson MATT ERARD OK, I ADMIT IT. I was one of those people
SPMI Secretary MIKE TREACY who thought the Detroit Pistons should
The Michigan Socialist is the voice of the Social-
have won, but did not think they could.
I fell for the propaganda.
ist Party of Michigan (SPMI), affiliate of the
Socialist Party USA. Party address: P.O. Box As much as I wanted the fellas to go to SCHREADER
3285, Kalamazoo, MI 49009-3285; e-mail: work and send the Lakers back to La-La
email@example.com; WWW: http://news.mi- Land on the redeye flight west, I didn’t think drama. It was the media-contrived “Ameri-
socialists.org. it was going to happen. can Dream” on hardwood.
All submissions to the Michigan Socialist can I was glad to be proven wrong. And then there was Detroit.
be sent by mail or e-mail. Articles sent in hard- But, having had moments during the The Pistons were everything the Lakers
copy format should have 1-inch margins all the NBA Finals to sit and think about what I were not. The Lakers were superstars in their
way around, and be printed in a basic, legible
was seeing — think about exactly how thor- own right; the Pistons were relative un-
typeface (e.g., Times New Roman or Helvetica).
Articles sent electronically, either by e-mail or oughly I was being proven wrong — I knowns.
on diskette, should be in plain text (.txt), Rich thought long and hard about that word I The Lakers played that kind of “super-
Text (.rtf) or MS Word (.doc) format, although used above: propaganda. star” basketball that Michael Jordan, Allen
any format will be accepted. Submissions sent The propaganda machine had been in Iverson and, yes, Shaquille O’Neal made the
by e-mail can be addressed to editor@mi- full force throughout most of the 2003-04 trend of the 1990s.
socialists.org. NBA season. The Pistons, on the other hand, played
Signed articles, columns and letters do not For most sports commentators, this year’s like a team — a close-knit, we-all-need-
necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Socialist finals amounted to “the Lakers and them” each-other kind of team.
Party of Michigan, which are expressed in edi-
— the “them” being whoever was to be un- This clash of styles reflected the outlooks
torial statements, or the Socialist Party USA.
The Editor of the Michigan Socialist reserves the lucky enough to face Los Angeles and get that each team had of themselves.
right to edit all articles for typography and spell- spanked in the series.
ing without consultation. On all other matters The Lakers were the darlings of the NBA THE LAKERS WERE “Showtime” — in-
of editing, the Editor will attempt to collaborate — the biggest superstar team since the days dividualist stars seeking fame and glory for
with authors as much as possible. when Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and themselves first (even though, at times, the
Dennis Rodman made teams fear coming fame was not exactly what they wanted, as
Socialist Party USA: into the Windy City. in the current rape trial of Bryant).
Outline of Principles The Los Angeles lineup looked like some
future NBA Hall of Fame induction cere-
The Pistons, on the other hand, saw
themselves in the shadow of industrial De-
THE SOCIALIST PARTY strives to establish a mony: Shaquille O’Neal; Kobe Bryant; Karl troit.
radical democracy that places people’s lives under
Malone; Luke Walton (son of NBA Hall of “Let’s go to work,” was the slogan; the
their own control: where working people own and
control the means of production and distribution,
Famer Bill Walton); Phil Jackson (former factory steam whistle was their call to arms.
through democratically-controlled committees and coach of the NBA champion Chicago The Lakers identified with their enter-
assemblies; where full employment is realized for Bulls); etc. tainment patrons and “middle class” fame-
everyone who wants to work; where workers have The Lakers had punished their oppo- seekers. The Pistons were united with their
the right to form unions freely, and to strike and nents throughout the regular season and working brothers and sisters.
engage in other forms of job actions; and where the playoffs, and were expected to do the same Could the differences have been any
production of society is used for the benefit of all to whomever they faced in the Finals. clearer?
humanity, not for the private profit of a few. We So, what happened? If not, the media certainly did its best to
believe socialism and democracy are one and
It may sound funny, but I think it ended point them out ... and show how the Lak-
The Socialist Party fights for progressive
up being a class question. ers’ individualism would wash over the Pis-
changes compatible with a socialist future. We You read that right. tons.
support union and electoral actions — independent What we saw during the NBA Finals was, The Pistons were “uppity” in the eyes of
of the capitalist-controlled two-party system — to in my opinion, the closest to class struggle the media.
present socialist alternatives. We strive for on a basketball court that many of us have They were “brash;” they played “ugly”
democratic revolutions — radical and fundamental ever seen. basketball; they were “out of their league.”
changes in the structure and nature of economic, Los Angeles was the embodiment of But after the Pistons beat the Lakers in
political and social relations — to abolish the “middle class” superstardom. Not only were Game One at L.A.’s Staples Center, you
power now exercised by the few who control the
the guys in the paint as famous off the court could already begin to see the media get
economy and the government.
The Socialist Party is a democratic, multi-
as they were on it, but so were many of those unnerved.
tendency organization, with structure and practices who regularly attended Lakers games. Game Two may have given them some
visible and accessible to all members. It was Hollywood — fame, fortune and continued on page 15
2 The MICHIGAN SOCIALIST
Fight capitalist privatization!
Water is a human right!
By MATT ERARD continuance of the Israeli occupation of the
West Bank, where Israel gets roughly one-
The Michigan Socialist
third of its water supply.
IN THE PAST few years we have witnessed As a result, Palestinians in the West Bank
an increase in the privatization and com- are forbidden from digging deep wells, pre-
modification of water at an exceptional venting Palestinian farmers from using more
pace. water per day for farming than Israeli city
For decades, water privatization has been dwellers are allotted for drinking.
a hallmark of structural adjustment pro- Likewise, privatization and control of the
grams (SAPs) imposed on poor countries by Tigris River will also likely be one of the
the International Monetary Fund and World final results of the U.S. invasion of Iraq as
Bank, as a condition for loans. the Mount Hermon watershed and Litani
It was this routine policy that forced the River was for the Israeli invasion of Leba-
citizens of Cochabamba, Bolivia, to shut- non.
down their city for a week in early 2000 and For the United States, the control of cit-
endure brutally violent retaliation from their izens’ access to water is not only an end for
government after IMF-imposed privatiza- invasions, but also a tactic for when they
tion policies cut off access to water for many begin.
and caused water rates to double across the From the U.S. invasion of North Korea
board. to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the systematic
In South Africa, the only country in the singling out of water treatment facilities,
world in which the citizens’ right to water sewage systems and dykes as “soft targets”
is in the constitution, over 10 million citi- for bombing has become a standard operat-
zens have had their water shut off since the ing procedure for the U.S. military.
Above: A Vietnamese farmer pours water over
imposition of the World Bank’s “cost recov- Clearly the commoditization of water
his head to cool off. Below: Women carry
ery program,” in which the availability of and the use of water depravation as a weap-
water in Kenya. Both sub-Saharan Africa and
water is contingent upon the water compa- on of war is nothing new for the United
Southeast Asia are becoming targets of wa-
ny’s ability to cover its cost plus profit. States ruling class or any of its internation-
ter privatization schemes orchestrated by the
One result has been over 100,000 peo- al fronts.
IMF and World Bank.
ple in South Africa’s province of Kwazulu- What has expanded in recent years is the
Natal becoming infected with cholera after centrality of water as a focus for these ends.
water sanitation services were shut-off be-
cause of non-payment. WITHIN THE BORDERS of the United
Last March, police opened fire on the States, this augmented focus has hit Michi-
Gauteng Anti-Privatization Forum (APF) gan the hardest.
in Johannesburg, South Africa. The number of homes in Detroit and
Fifty-two members of APF were arrest- Highland Park that have had their water
ed, including six children, for violating the shut off due to non-payment is now over
Gatherings Act, an apartheid-era law grant- 100,000, resulting from a crackdown by
ing police broad powers to obstruct and ban Detroit Water and Sewage Department
protest activity. chief, and former Thames Water and Unit-
Similar conditions have existed in the ed Water Companies executive, Victor
Middle East for decades, where water, for Mercado.
the most part, is far more valuable than oil Meanwhile, city corporations that ac-
as a commodity. count for three-fourths of the overdue mon-
As first revealed in detail in Mechiro shel ey face no threat of shut-offs.
Ihud, a comprehensive book of Israeli cabi- The Nestlé Corporation, through its sub-
net records between 1967 and 1977, water sidiary Ice Mountain, continues to pump
remains one of the pivotal reasons for the 200 million gallons of Michigan’s water per
Vol. 2, No. 4 • JULY 2004 3
trol of water both at home and abroad, there
are two vital questions to ask:
First, why is there an increased focus on
the commoditization of water? Second, why
is Michigan presently the primary target
within the United States?
There is no question that tightened SAPs
from the IMF and World Bank are a signif-
Even without the backbone of military
force, these programs allow the United
States and other great-power capitalist
countries that compose the Group of Eight
(G8) to mandate privatization policies of
all kinds throughout the world even within
countries whose governments attempt to
Among all of the public resources and
institutions affected by privatization poli-
cies, however, there are important reasons
Members of the Highland Park Human Rights Coalition protest outside of a stage-managed
that water exceeds the others as a current
“Day of Dialogue” organized by Governor Jennifer Granholm.
year to bottle and sell back to Michigan cit- firm, Rothchild-Wright Group LLC, an un- Along with increased population growth
izens and others around the Midwest for cannily secretive company that provides no and climate change, capitalism’s environ-
profit, without paying a cent for the water information on its history or background mental policies, lack of cooperative eco-
it takes. even to its potential clients. nomic planning, and continuous need for
Last November, Judge Lawrence Root The contract would allow the company short term gain has resulted in water becom-
ordered Nestlé to halt operations at its to keep the vast majority of the profits from ing an increasingly scarce resource at epi-
Mecosta County bottling plant after a suit the water system and require the city to pay demic heights.
was brought against them by Michigan Cit- back all of the company’s investment with- Currently over 1.1 billion of the world’s
izens for Water Conservation. in a specified period of time or be foreclosed people lack access to clean water and 2.4
Before the December deadline to end upon by the company. billion lack access to proper sanitation.
operations, however, Nestlé was granted an Citizens of Highland Park packed the According to the 2003 United Nations
emergency stay by the Michigan Court of City Council meeting on May 24, along World Water Development Report, the glo-
Appeals under pressure from Governor Jen- with members of the Highland Park Human bal water crisis will reach unprecedented
nifer Granholm. Rights Coalition and the Socialist Party of levels and a dramatically increased per cap-
While attorney general, Granholm re- Michigan, to demand that the council vote ita scarcity in the years ahead.
ferred to Nestlé’s theft as “export and diver- no on the proposed contract. As the scarcity of clean drinking water
sion” of Michigan Water, and campaigned Joseph M. Wright, representing the com- increases, so does its value as a commodity.
on removing Ice Mountain. pany, dodged every question that came from The profit system is following its very na-
Since her election as governor, howev- city councilors and citizens, urged the coun- ture by taking the necessary steps to reap
er, she has remained even cozier with the cil to ignore the “streetcorner revolutionar- the fruits of the epidemic it caused.
company than former Republican Gover- ies” from the Socialist Party and vote in fa- Another reason for the central focus on
nor John Engler. vor of the proposal. water is a human being’s dependency on it
After warnings that the economic crisis By a vote of 4-1, the City Council voted for survival.
in Highland Park, in which 38.3 percent of down the proposed contract resulting in Water privatization and commoditiza-
the population are below the poverty line, cheers and applause from the citizens both tion is a way that the ruling class can con-
could likely cause a second Benton Harbor inside and outside the courtroom where the stantly remind the working people that its
if something wasn’t done, Granholm again meeting was held. survival and the satisfaction of its most ba-
chose the option most beneficial the capi- Wright held a brief press conference out- sic physiological needs are dependent on its
talist class without any regard for the long- side the building after the decision was made productive output for capitalist profit-mak-
term interest of the city’s working people. where he declared that his company “will ing.
Granholm, through the city’s state-ap- not take ‘no’ for an answer,” and will con- For workers to deviate from doing so can
pointed Emergency Financial Manager Ra- tinue to explore other options to take con- cause any of them to interchangeably be-
mona Henderson-Pearson, proposed a plan trol of the city water department. come part of the unneeded “surplus popu-
to the Highland Park city council to priva- lation,” whose fundamental rights to life and
tize the Highland Park Water Department WITH THE EVENTS we have witnessed subsistence are only privileges.
under the control of private management in recent years pertaining to the private con- continued on page 13
4 The MICHIGAN SOCIALIST
Venezuela’s Bolivarian Republic at the crossroads
By MARTIN SCHREADER
Editor, the Michigan Socialist
THE MOST RECENT events in the South
American country of Venezuela have
brought its ongoing democratic revolution
to a critical stage.
This democratic movement, called the
“Bolivarian Revolution,” swept into power
in December 1998 with the election of Hugo
Chavez Frias as president.
The Bolivarians went right to work.
Within a year of being elected, the Bolivari-
an movement called a national referendum
to adopt a new, democratic constitution,
which passed overwhelmingly.
Chavez won re-election under the new
constitution in 2000.
A year later, in December 2001, he pro-
posed close to 50 new laws meant to codify
the aims of the democratic revolution, in-
cluding regulations on land reform, railroad
construction and the oil industry.
The combination of a new constitution
and the reforms proposed by Chavez out-
raged the Venezuelan capitalists and their
imperialist paymasters — particularly the
U.S. Even though the state apparatus was
still quite capitalist in character, the capi-
talists had lost control of its administration.
The capitalists vowed to regain control
... by any means necessary.
In April 2002, the capitalists conspired
with the military and police forces to pro-
voke a coup d’état.
In response, the Bolivarians called a mas-
Hundreds of thousands of supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian
sive march in the capital, Caracas, as well
Revolution rally in Caracas.
as organized loyal soldiers to retake the pres-
idential palace and return Chavez to office. in the official labor union federation, the This time, the workers of Venezuela took
Eight months later, the capitalists tried bosses organized a massive lockout of work- matters into their own hands.
again to force the ouster of Chavez. ers and sought to get the military to once Workers in the oil industry broke
Working this time with their lieutenants again depose Chavez. through the capitalists’ lines and occupied
Vol. 2, No. 4 • JULY 2004 5
The union movement split, with militant
pro-Bolivarian workers organizing their own
union federation and leaving the old pro-
capitalist union bureaucracy to their own
Millions of workers took to the streets to
stop the coup plotters from succeeding.
The second attempt to crush the Boli-
varian revolution collapsed and Chavez was
THROUGHOUT 2003, the capitalists
have attempted to reorganize and take an-
other crack at forcing Chavez out and re-
versing the Bolivarian Revolution.
Their current tactic has been taking ad-
vantage of a provision in the new constitu-
tion that allows for the recall of the presi-
The two main capitalist parties, AD
(“Democratic Action”) and Copei (“Chris-
Making the links: Bolivarian supporter uses the example of the war crimes committed by the
tian Socialists”), have poured millions of
U.S. at Abu Gh’raib prison in Iraq to demonstrate what will happen to Venezuelans if the pro-
dollars into funding a petitioning drive to
U.S. capitalist opposition succeeds.
gather the signatures necessary for a refer-
endum. capitalist candidates — George W. Bush and society.
As of this writing, the National Elector- John F. Kerry — have decidedly thrown their But the Bolivarian leadership, limited by
al Council (an independent body estab- support behind the Venezuelan capitalists, their left-populist political viewpoint, hesi-
lished by the new constitution) has declared and have even went so far as to threaten tated in both instances, allowing the capi-
that the capitalist opposition has just bare- “regime change” if Chavez does not give in. talists to regroup and reorganize.
ly achieved the necessary number of signa- Both Bush and Kerry have called Chavez At the same time, the rank and file of
tures. a “dictator” (or, wishing to be more equivo- the Bolivarian movement has been push-
This means that there will be a national cal, have said he was “becoming a dictator”). ing to move the revolution forward.
referendum in August to decide whether to This is rich coming from a pair of bil- However, it appears that Chavez and a
recall Chavez. lionaire capitalist plutocrats, one of whom significant section of the democratic move-
The petitioning drive has severely polar- was illegally installed in the White House ment are beginning to see that the only way
ized the Venezuelan people, mainly along by family friends sitting on the Supreme to deepen and extend the Bolivarian Revo-
class lines. Court of the United States. lution is to go beyond capitalism.
The workers and poor peasants of Vene- Both Bush and Kerry would hope to ever Recently, Chavez declared that the rev-
zuela are solidly supporting Chavez and the receive the proportionate level of mass sup- olution was now in its “anti-imperialist”
Bolivarians. port Chavez has — over 60 percent of the stage, and he and his Bolivarian movement
The capitalists and their “middle class” near 80 percent of the population who vot- have taken steps to that effect.
appendages, along with the labor aristocra- ed in the last election. Last month, Chavez called for a general
cy, are backing the old parties and the re- arming of the people and the organization
call. THIS COMING AUGUST, the people of of “workers’ and people’s militia” to defend
Even though the capitalists are in a mi- Venezuela will once again have to affirm the resources of the country from sabotage
nority in Venezuela, they have a powerful their support for the Bolivarian Revolution and plunder by the capitalists.
ally that could tip the scales in their favor: by going to the polls and voting against the As well, he has been purging large sec-
American capitalism. recall of Chavez. tions of the state apparatus, removing cer-
Ever since Chavez came to power, the Should this happen, then it should be tain “disloyal” military brass and police
U.S. government has done everything it can taken as a mandate by the Bolivarians to chiefs from their posts.
short of full-scale invasion to aid the over- take the decisive steps forward. This purging process has also included
throw of the Bolivarian Revolution. After the defeat of the coups of April and removing hesitating and ineffective ele-
Washington has provided money, equip- December 2002, the capitalists were severe- ments from his own movement’s leadership.
ment, logistical support and even the occa- ly weakened and discredited. However, he has not touched the main
sional mercenary unit to help crush the dem- In both cases, the situation was ripe for levers of power that the capitalists hold over
ocratic movement. taking the Revolution to the next level and the Bolivarians — the banking institutions
In this election year, both of the main advancing toward a democratic socialist continued on page 13
6 The MICHIGAN SOCIALIST
The life and crimes
of Ronald Reagan
By BEN BURGIS World Court for war crimes for mining the to the likes of Abraham Lincoln, and his
The Michigan Socialist
harbors of that nation. nominal “opposition candidate” John Ker-
All in all, he ordered or had a hand in ry suspended all campaigning for five days
ON JUNE 5, a very old man finally passed the killings of thousands of soldiers and ci- in mourning for, in his words, the “great
on, not violently and not in pain, but from vilians around the world. man.”
the inevitable onset of age and disease, af- A life-long, notorious and unrepentant In his official statement on the matter,
ter having spent his last years in the lap of bribe-taker who accepted all manner of ex- Kerry gushed that Americans from “sea to
luxury receiving the best medical care avail- pensive personal favors from those with a shining sea” should “bow their heads in grat-
able to any one. stake in his political decisions, he bankrupt- itude” that the “great man” left an “indeli-
The man in question was not the sort of ed his country buying worthless and redun- ble mark on the nation.”
good, kindly old man who had made no en- dant weapons systems and paid for it all by
emies who many might be expected to cutting social services to the most desper- TO BE SURE, he did leave an “indelible
grieve for even in circumstances so fortu- ately poor residents of his society. mark.”
nate. The man in question, of course, was One of Reagan’s many lasting contribu-
Quite the opposite. Ronald Reagan, and since he died a torrent tions was the first in a series of “free trade”
A former head of state, he had overseen of grief for him and tribute to his many great agreements of the sort that have weakened
a particularly violent turn in the policies of deeds has dominated the radio and televi- labor, health, safety and environmental
the most powerful empire in the history of sion airwaves and filled the pages of main- standards, and resulted in massive job loss.
the world. stream newspapers. Doubtless laid-off industrial workers
A pathological liar, he broke the law to The New York Times memorialized him working non-union, service industry jobs as
sell weapons to sworn enemies and conceal as the very personification of “old-time val- a result of the “Gipper’s” advances in this
the act from his public and from the high- ues.” area will echo Kerry’s sentiments, not to
est elected body in the land. Here in Michigan, Governor Jennifer mention the thousands of air traffic control-
He used the funds from those sales to Granholm heaped praise on Reagan’s “op- lers he fired (in what the New York Times
subsidize the actions of vicious terrorism timistic vision” and “ability to inspire the memorialized as a “bold move”) for daring
against a diplomatically non-aligned, dem- people to great things.” to go out on strike.
ocratically elected government that dis- President Bush praised him in terms that Mention must also be made of his ad-
pleased him, and was condemned by the might sound mildly exaggerated if applied ministration’s ruthless prosecution of his
Vol. 2, No. 4 • JULY 2004 7
“war on drugs,” a “war” that of course has that filled several whole pages of the New
yet to lead to any decrease in actual use of York Times failed to touch on that point, just
banned narcotics but that led to an explo- as most of the testimonials of grief and trib-
sion in the rates of imprisonment in the ute filling the corporate-owned mass media
1980s, mostly of the very poor and dispro- to overflowing have chosen to leave out or
portionately of Blacks and Chicanos, and brush past Reagan’s own most notorious act
mostly for non-violent crimes. of grieving for the martyred dead.
Many inmates of notoriously humane When President of the United States, on
and comfortable correctional facilities serv- an official visit to Germany, Reagan chose
ing life sentences for “conspiracy to deliver for reasons best known to himself (while
cocaine” may doubtless be bowing their declining to visit the sites of any death
heads in gratitude for the indelible mark camps) to lay a wreath of flowers at the cem-
even at this very moment. etery of 49 Waffen SS stormtroopers at Bit-
Similarly with refugees from Latin Amer- burg, taking the opportunity to point out
ican countries who came to the United that Hitler’s most ideologically zealous in-
States to escape the “anti-communist” death ner core of killers “were victims too.”
squads sponsored by the U.S. government Perhaps the man who ordered the deaths
when Reagan was at its head. of thousands in order to battle the perni-
Certainly, the family members of the 241 cious influence of “godless Communism” felt
Joined at the hip: In a rare photo, Reagan is
U.S. Marines who Reagan sent to their a sense of kinship with the men interred
seen here with a young George W. Bush.
deaths as part of his bloody colonialist ef- there, who had, after all, dedicated them-
forts to (as he put it in the 1980 election) selves to the same goal, inspired by similar- ruling-class figures are liable to be, with the
“make America stand tall again” will be ly rousing nationalistic appeals to make the empire’s “prestige,” Reagan would be an al-
bowing their heads as well. fatherland “stand tall again.” most uniquely embarrassing presidential fig-
Certainly, the widows and orphans of the Physically, he will be buried in the Unit- urehead.
terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001, ed States, but spiritually he rests at Bitburg. For one thing, he was an almost patho-
should be bowing their heads in gratitude logical liar, practiced in the skills of decep-
at the “indelible mark” left on their own THE QUESTION THAT begs asking is why tion from an early age.
lives by the policies of the man who over- the New York Times no less than Fox News, Before he was ever an actor, he was a
saw massive covert operations in Afghani- Granholm and Kerry no less than Michi- sportscaster known for his remarkably cap-
stan in the 1980s, arming and training Osa- gan GOP head Betsy DeVos and Bush, feel tivating blow-by-blow accounts of baseball
ma bin Laden and his cohorts for the pur- such a profound sense of kinship with “the games.
poses of waging “holy war” against the great man” who laid that wreath. The little redheaded boy who managed
USSR. Superficially, this seems odd. It would to catch the ball in the stands, the roar of
For some strange reason, the obituary seem that for any one concerned as such the crowd. Audiences loved it.
The thing about it was, of course, that
Reagan never attended the games he was
reporting on, but stayed far away in the ra-
dio station the whole time, having the de-
velopments telegraphed to him and mak-
ing up most of the details.
Once, when the wire went dead, he nar-
rated what would have been the longest se-
ries of foul balls in history until it came back
up. This is not a personal smear from his
detractors, but a favorite story of Reagan
himself, which he told and retold for its sen-
While these came in handy when he se-
cretly sold arms to Iran to subsidize terrorist
operations against the democratically elect-
Remembering the real Reagan: Protester in Los
ed government of Nicaragua, he was con-
Angeles (left) holds a cross inscribed with the
stantly lying when he had little to gain from
name of someone killed by rightwing death
it, more or less out of habit or desire to ap-
squads in El Salvador financed by the U.S. gov-
peal to whomever he was talking.
ernment. Michael Hasenfus (above) was a CIA
In a 1983 meeting with Israeli Prime
agent who ran drugs for the Nicaraguan contras
Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Reagan (who had
fighting the leftist Sandinista government.
8 The MICHIGAN SOCIALIST
spent the war in Hollywood doing training
movies for the Army) claimed to have been
present at the liberation of the death camps
at the end of WWII.
And, let’s not forget, this was the tower-
ing intellect that thought that ketchup
should be considered a “vegetable” for
school lunch purposes.
Reagan was, above all, the representa-
tive of a major turn in the policies of the
ruling class of corporate owners.
STARTING IN THE 1930s, they had felt
the need to make important concessions to
those at the bottom of society.
The great symbol of this policy was Fran-
klin D. Roosevelt, just as Reagan was the
great symbol of its reversal.
Roosevelt is often portrayed (both by lib-
eral Democrats who admire him and by
Reaganites who see him as naïve) as a man
motivated by humanitarian compassion for
the suffering of the poor and downtrodden.
In point of fact, Roosevelt himself was
always quite open and public about his real Knowing the score: British cartoonist
motivations. Art Bell, of the UK Guardian, pens his
When he first achieved the presidency own special sendoff to Reagan
in 1932, his backers were very, very worried (above). At a museum in Havana,
by the shift in consciousness from below Cuba, Reagan is enshrined in the
resulting from the massive poverty, misery “Cretins’ Corner,” alongside Fulgencio
and unemployment that accompanied the Batista, the Cuban dictator overthrown
economic crash. by Castro’s revolutionary guerrillas in
In an interview with the New York Graph- 1959 (right).
ic during that campaign, Roosevelt recited
a conversation with “an old friend who runs
a great western railroad. ‘Fred,’ I asked him,
‘what are the people talking about out there?
‘Frank,’ he replied, ‘I’m sorry to say the men
out here are talking revolution.’”
Driven by that understanding, the capi-
talist class as a whole, however much some
of its individual members may have grum-
bled about it and resented FDR, much the
same way that people resent the dentist even
as they schedule appointments, was willing
to make important concessions from above
to avoid having to have their fortunes ex- were stationed at the entrances to the tun- tive agenda of Roosevelt, as the latter es-
propriated entirely from below. nels leading up to the plants. tablished a social safety net against the worst
This was, after all, the same period that The fears that Fred confessed to Frank ravages of poverty and opened the purse
saw some of the fiercest episodes of class were hardly delusions. strings to public works programs to provide
struggle in American history, like the great In this context, “short-term demands” work and income to otherwise angry and
Flint sit-down strike of 1936, where facto- were quite literally lifted from the campaign restless unemployed workers.
ries were temporarily seized by those who platform of Socialist Party presidential can- Of course, for Thomas, these were steps
worked them, it took pitched battles to get didate Norman Thomas and incorporated in the direction of the qualitative transfor-
food to the strikers inside and armed guards (in a watered-down form) into the legisla- mation of American society, not sops to help
Vol. 2, No. 4 • JULY 2004 9
co-opt resistance to the status quo.
While later in life he capitulated to im-
portant parts of Roosevelt’s politics, at the
time he understood this.
When a friend remarked that at least
Roosevelt was carrying out his platform,
Thomas replied bitterly that it was being
“carried out on a stretcher.”
Even after the immediate danger Fred
and Frank had conferred about had largely
passed, the bipartisan consensus for decades
was that, to one extent or another, it would
be wise to keep everyone happy by main-
taining important aspects of the Roosevel-
tian “welfare state.”
Indeed, when conservative ideologue
Barry Goldwater managed to win the Re-
publican nomination in 1964 on a platform
of prematurely Reaganite opposition to all
of this, the Republican establishment largely
THE SOCIAL TURMOIL of the 1960s, as
the inner cities exploded in long-suppressed
rage against racism, poverty and oppression,
social change movements grew seemingly
out of thin air and resistance to the draft
and internal resistance by GIs played a crit-
... By the friends they keep: Reagan with former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos (top),
ical role in ending the U.S. intervention in
who starved the people of his country in order to feed his wife’s shoe fetish; Reagan with
Vietnam, all at least temporarily cemented
former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (middle), who did everything she could to
break the trade unions; Reagan’s Undersecretary of State, Donald Rumsfeld, with Reagan’s
By the time the Reagan presidency rolled
friend, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (bottom), who acquired all of his weapons of
around, however, all of this had long since
mass destruction from his American pals.
The militant unions of the 1930s and “sickly inhibitions against the use of mili- THE CAPITALIST MEDIA mourns
been turned into neutered, bureaucratized tary force” accrued in the Vietnam era. Ronald Reagan because he is the hero of
shadows of their former selves that could In this dramatically changed context, the segment of society that owns the me-
be counted on to mount no serious resis- Reagan was the man of the hour. dia.
tance to the reversal of earlier concessions With whatever charm and charisma he He made their empire “stand tall again,”
and the export of American jobs to areas of had developed in his career as a second-rate with mountains of corpses abroad and vast
the “Third World,” free from inconvenienc- actor, he was fit to be something like a reserves of poverty and misery at home to
es like elections, unions and the minimum spokesman for an ideology of renewed zeal show for it.
wage. in the Cold War “struggle of good against His administration’s economic and mili-
The radical movements of the 1960s and evil,” and a pseudo-individualistic “anti- tary policies setting the bipartisan agenda
early-1970s had largely been destroyed by a government” stance that justified redistri- the has been followed by the representatives
combination of cooptation into the Demo- bution of wealth from the bottom up. of both corporate-funded parties for the last
cratic Party, concessions such as the end of With his expertise at lying and his sooth- twenty four years.
the military draft, and outright government ing, grandfatherly persona, he was the ideal One can put it like this: Reagan is not so
repression such as the FBI’s notorious front man for attacks on the economic in- much dead as undead, like a vampire who walks
COINTELPRO program and the assassina- terests of most of the population and for at night after ceasing to draw breath.
tions of prominent Black Panthers. crimes against humanity abroad, such as his His body may be dead, but his policies
The left was mostly weakened, disorient- brutal “preemptive” invasion of the tiny and continue to terrorize the world.
ed and incapable of causing any problems defenseless nation of Grenada for the crime The greatest political imperative at this
that the establishment couldn’t handle. of (horror upon horrors) building an airport. point history is to build a democratic so-
There was little reason to maintain large After all, one can’t rule out the possibil- cialist alternative to the bipartisan Reagan-
scale concessions to those at the bottom, ity that the Soviet Union could have used ite consensus, capable of collectively orga-
and the Empire’s effectiveness was still ham- that airport to launch air strikes against the nizing his victims to drive a stake through
pered by what Norman Podhoretz calls the United States! the old bastard’s heart. 5
10 The MICHIGAN SOCIALIST
Federal court overturns
‘partial-birth abortion’ ban
By L. MEYERS
The Michigan Socialist
ON JUNE 1, a federal judge in San Fran-
cisco, Calif., ruled that the Partial-Birth
Abortion Ban Act of 2003 was unconstitu-
tional on the grounds that it violated a wom-
an’s right to choose.
In her mammoth 117-page ruling, U.S.
District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton stat-
ed that the Act had three central “flaws”
that mandated declaring it unconstitution-
The Act was signed into law amid great
fanfare after both houses of Congress over-
whelmingly approved it, since it was a key
part of the anti-woman agenda of the Bush
regime and its Christian-fundamentalist
The first “flaw” was that the Act placed
an undue burden on a woman’s right to
Hangin’ with the boys: Bush signs the “Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003” with all of its main
choose any time up to the point when a fe-
movers and supporters.
tus can survive outside of the womb with
the aid of technology (about 24 weeks; al- ble harm to the mother. 2003 was raw meat for the religious right.
most six months). The “dumbed down” definitions in the It was meant to help line up these forces
The second and third “flaws” relate to Act, according to Hamilton, could be used — many of whom have strong ties to the
the wording of the Act. to ban the more common “Dialation and Ku Klux Klan and neo-fascist organizations
The language of the Act was vague and Evacuation” and Induction procedures, thus — in anticipation of the upcoming presi-
could be interpreted to ban other similar making 95 percent of the second-trimester dential election.
means for terminating a pregnancy; as well, abortions illegal. It is not beyond the imagination to be-
there was no provision in the Act for ex- Without a doubt, this was precisely the lieve that this Act was passed only because
ceptions to the ban in cases where the life plan of the Act’s authors and sponsors in it would be challenged in court in 2004, thus
and health of the mother are at stake. Congress and the White House. making it a “wedge issue” in the upcoming
Judge Hamilton sharply criticized the fact Ever since the Roe v. Wade decision in contest between George W. Bush and John
that basic medical understanding, in terms 1973, anti-choice forces have sought to F. Kerry.
of the language and definitions provided in overturn a woman’s right to abortion ser- That is, it was a calculated move on the
the legislation, was obviously lacking from vices. part of the neoconservatives in Congress
the Act — which left a lot of it up to “inter- However, Roe’s importance was not in its and the White House to divert media and
pretation.” legalizing of access to abortion services per public attention away from the deteriorat-
This was no accident. se, but rather it was that it gave poor and ing situation in Iraq and the sinking econo-
For years, the far-right Christian funda- working-class women the same rights that my, and focus on the capitalists’ “culture
mentalists have sought to redefine the med- wealthy women of the capitalist could pur- war” against working people.
ical procedure known as “Dialation and Ex- chase by going to Europe. After hearing of Judge Hamilton’s ruling,
traction” (D&X) as “partial-birth abortion,” This fact more than anything else has the Bush regime issued a statement that
even though the vast majority of these pro- made Roe a target of the anti-choice and talked a lot about being “committed to
cedures are done in instances where carry- fundamentalist forces. building a culture of life in America.”
ing the fetus to term would cause irrepara- The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of Such words are hollow and hypocritical
Vol. 2, No. 4 • JULY 2004 11
coming from a government that has been At those times in history when Social- endoscopies or laser eye surgery.
killing innocent civilians from Iraq to Hai- ists opposed the abortion procedure, it was Thus, for the anti-choice forces, it is more
ti, and from an individual (Bush) who has a on purely medical grounds; that is, at those important than ever to confuse, confound
documented history of mocking those whom times our predecessors felt that the medical and convolute medical terminology in or-
he placed on death row in Texas and were procedure was too dangerous, and counter- der to fit their far-right agenda.
pleading for their lives. posed comprehensive access to birth con- For us Socialists, this fact makes it more
The right of women to obtain an abor- trol and other forms of contraception as a important than ever to pierce the bubble of
tion is central to the right of women to con- safer alternative. ignorance that the capitalists wish to im-
trol their own bodies and destinies — rights Today, with advances in medical tech- pose on society from above by fighting to
that Socialists have fought to protect and nology, the abortion procedure is no more expand democracy through education and
extend since the founding of our movement. dangerous than most minor surgeries like action. 5
A breakdown, by the numbers, about the new cigarette tax in Michigan
Amount in cents per pack that the cigarette tax will
rise on July 1, 2004, in Michigan : 75
Percentage of Michigan population that smoke : 43.4
Percentage of Michigan smokers that fall into the
general category of “working people” : 70.2
Members of the Michigan State Legislature who
can be categorized as “working people” : 0
Number of advisors to the Governor who can be
categorized as “working people” : 0
Amount, in dollars, given by the State of Michigan
every year to capitalists and their corporations : 14 billion
Amount, in dollars, of the budget shortfall for the
2003-04 State of Michigan budget : 970 million
This Fourth of July, let us remember that the battle cry of the First American Revolution was
NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!
This message brought to you by the staff of the Michigan Socialist.
Yes, yes, we know smoking is a filthy, disgusting habit, and not one member of the Socialist Party of Michigan who smokes
would EVER recommend someone take it up. Nevertheless, smokers are people too, and they have rights.
Statistics based on the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Study for 2003 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Significant at the .01 level.)
12 The MICHIGAN SOCIALIST
state for corporations to test how much they pumping permit, indicates that these com-
can get away with in water privatization panies are waiting until the door opens fur-
schemes and austerity measures. ther on different fronts within the state, such
continued from page 16 Corporations have thus realized that as the attempted proposal in Highland Park,
To increase such a state of desperation pooling their assets toward maneuvering the before taking action through these agree-
among working people is to cause workers’ policies of Michigan’s state government and ments.
demands to wane and the tolerability of local governments, particularly within Working people in Michigan need only
abuse to grow. Michigan’s poorest and most desperate ar- look to the conditions faced by other work-
It is this same reason that cutting off ci- eas, is the next major step toward the com- ers overseas to see the devastation created
vilian access to water is so often used as an modification of water in the developed by water privatization and control of water
imperialist weapon of war. In both cases, the world. from without.
end result for the ruling class is the stability Once a sufficient level of progress has Michigan workers in the cities of Detroit
and expansion of profit and oppression. been made in cracking open the door to and Highland Park have already experi-
public resources, a point which we have al- enced the results firsthand through the im-
ALTHOUGH THE ISSUES of water priva- ready reached, corporations can then rely posed policies of city governments working
tization and shutoffs in Michigan do not all on international agreements such as the in cooperation with multinational corpora-
necessarily relate to Great Lakes water di- World Trade Organization and NAFTA tions.
rectly, it is the presence of the Great Lakes which effectively mandate increases in the Michigan workers must fight in solidari-
that has caused Michigan to become the ini- privatization of public resources once ty with workers around the world against
tial prime focus of these policies within the they’ve begun. such regressive policies in order to keep the
developed world. The fact that water bottling companies advances achieved by workers of the past.
Michigan’s surrounding lakes compose have not yet attempted to unleash NAFTA The fight for free access to public water
the largest body of fresh water on the plan- and WTO complaints against the State of is a fight for workers’ rights, human rights
et, making Michigan the perfect premiere Michigan over Ice Mountain’s exclusive and the fundamental right to live. 5
116 of the constitution, and expropriate the these workers’ assemblies can also serve as
private property of those capitalists provok- the basis for a new municipal and state pow-
ing violence, placing it under public own- er — the democratic socialist republic in
continued from page 16 ership. birth.
and the petroleum industry — and has not As well, it would be justified to extend Finally, it will be necessary to codify this
taken on the bulk of the armed state appa- the decree on expropriation and place all revolutionary transformation from below.
ratus, including local police allied with the the banking institutions in Venezuela un- The most efficient means of doing this is
capitalist opposition. der public ownership, since the capitalists through the convening of the National
If the referendum fails, and Chavez re- have used their control of the banks as a Constituent Assembly to codify the power
mains in power, there is little doubt that the means to strangle the economy and people. of the revolutionary assemblies in the Boli-
capitalists will cry “fraud” and appeal to the But public ownership, as a means to de- varian constitution.
Great Power imperialists (most notably the prive the capitalists of a chief source of their If Chavez survives the recall, he should
U.S.) to back them in a “regime change.” power, is only a partial step. use the occasion of his victory speech as a
The capitalists will have to appeal to the In order for such nationalization to be a call for open revolutionary transformation
imperialists because they will be far too weak genuinely progressive act, control of these and call the National Constituent Assem-
at that stage to take any decisive action on newly seized means of production needs to bly into session immediately.
their own. be placed in the hands of the workers them- At this stage, there is no room for hesi-
Should such a situation begin to devel- selves. tation or compromise. The capitalists are
op, it is necessary for the Bolivarians to seize The embryonic workers’ control prac- looking to drown the Bolivarian democrat-
the initiative and take the first decisive steps ticed by the oil workers in December 2002 ic revolution in blood.
toward the overthrow of Venezuelan capi- provides a guide for implementing it across The only way out — the only way for-
talism. the entire economy. ward — is for the Bolivarians to recognize
The local Bolivarian circles in factories that it will take the overthrow of the capi-
THERE IS LITTLE doubt that the capital- and workplaces can be the launching point talist order to succeed.
ists will stage a series of provocations across for democratic assemblies of working peo- They have already begun that process.
Venezuela to provide an excuse for imperi- ple throughout the country. We can only encourage them and double
alist intervention. Aided by the workers’ and people’s mili- our efforts here in the U.S. to stop any im-
The Bolivarians, through the workers’ tias, these new workplace assemblies could perialist interference. 5
and people’s militias, could keep these in- begin reorganizing and reorienting the econ-
dividual provocations in check. omy of Venezuela to meet the needs of the An abridged version of this article will
However, this is not enough. people. appear in the upcoming inaugural issue
At this stage, it would be entirely justi- In those states and cities where capital- of the relaunched Appeal to Reason.
fied for Chavez to invoke Articles 115 and ist politicians and their state confront them, On the Internet: www.appealtoreason.org
Vol. 2, No. 4 • JULY 2004 13
Ballot access Can you say ‘double standard?’
continued from page 16 The State of Michigan can!
challenge their status quo, they are expect-
ed to do the impossible. To run for State House... To run for U.S. Congress...
As a Republican As an independent As a Republican As an independent
TO BEGIN WITH, the number of signa- or Democrat: or “Third Party”: or Democrat: or “Third Party”:
tures required to secure ballot access, ac-
cording to state election law, is equivalent Minimum: 200 Minimum: 600 Minimum: 1,000 Minimum: 3,000
to 1 percent of the number of people who Maximum: 400 Maximum: 1,200 Maximum: 2,000 Maximum: 6,000
voted for the winning gubernatorial candi- signatures required for ballot access signatures required for ballot access
date in the last election: 31,776.
This number, while seeming to be rela- Source: www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1633_8721_11839-64205--,00.html
tively small, is in fact the single greatest
impediment to winning ballot access. and obtain ballot access, and that agreeing to place a candidate on the ballot; Illinois,
In an election year, partisan tensions run with that right is not the same as voting for which has almost twice as many people as
high. us (or pledging to vote for us). Michigan, asks for 25,000.
This is especially true this year, with the What was most amazing to SPMI peti- Many states, like Colorado and Louisi-
Democratic Party’s propaganda machine tioners was that many people were not aware ana, only ask that you pay a filing fee to place
steadily chanting the mantra of “Anybody of the restrictive ballot-access laws. a candidate on the ballot.
But Bush.” “I thought all you had to do was tell them Vermont, Mississippi and Florida only
In this kind of environment, it is espe- you want to run,” was a statement common- ask that you have an organized state party.
cially difficult to gather petition signatures. ly heard. Michigan’s restrictive ballot-access laws
SPMI petitioners ran into situations But unfamiliarity and partisanship were place it near the bottom of the democratic
where activists from both the Democratic not the only factors. pile.
and Republican parties not only refused to According to ballot-access experts, in-
sign, which is their right, but also actively cluding Richard Winger’s Ballot Access AND THEN THERE are the double stan-
discouraged others from signing. News, Michigan has one of the most restric- dards written into Michigan’s electoral law.
This was especially true of members of tive election laws in the country. These “standards” favor Republican and
the Michigan Democrats, who saw us as For example, the State of New York, Democratic candidates, while actively dis-
some kind of challenge to their “ABB” phi- which has twice the population of Michi- couraging independents and “third party”
losophy. gan, only requires about 15,000 signatures nominees.
Some “Democrats” they are! to place an independent presidential can- For example, if you want to run for U.S.
Many times, Party petitioners had to didate, and has no special procedure for Congress in Michigan as a Republican or
spend long amounts of time explaining to placing a party on the ballot. Democrat (which may also mean winning a
people that all parties have the right to seek New Jersey only requires 800 signatures party primary, but that is not always as hard
as it seems), you need to collect a minimum
I, the undersigned, desiring to bring about by democratic of 1,000 signatures.
Join the means a new society based upon democratic socialism, On the other hand, if you are an inde-
pendent seeking to win a Congressional
Socialist hereby apply for membership in the Socialist Party USA,
and subscribe to its principles. seat, you have to collect at least 3,000 sig-
Party USA natures.
The same is true for a lower office, like
Annual Income Dues state representative; a Republican or Dem-
Address: ___________________________________________ ocrat only has to collect 200 signatures, but
❏ Striker/prisoner FREE an independent has to collect 600.
❏ Student $10 __________________________________________________ (But, if they don’t want to bother with
❏ Under $20,000 $25 that, they can simply pay the state $100 and
City: ______________________ State: ______ Zip: _________
❏ $20,000-35,000 $60 be placed on the ballot.)
❏ $35,001-50,000 $125 Phone (optional): (_______)____________________________ To put it simply, an independent candi-
date — without the aid of a massive state
❏ $50,001 and up $250 E-Mail (optional): ____________________________________ party, access to large amounts of money and
Waiver for poverty available little or no media presence — is expected
Interests (optional): ___________________________________
to collect three times the number of signa-
Send check or money order to P.O. Box 3285, Kalamazoo, Mich. 49009-3285. tures as a Republican or Democrat.
Or go online to http://www.mi-socialists.org/join.html and sign up. Adding insult to injury is the fact that,
CLIP HERE AND SEND
✁ in many areas of the state, Republican and
14 The MICHIGAN SOCIALIST
Democratic candidates run unopposed for and supporting Lisa Weltman’s bid for the
their desired office. All it may take is a sin- Green Party nomination for U.S. Congress
gle vote (sometimes only a write-in vote!) in the 14th District, and the municipal elec-
for them to secure their candidacy. continued from page 16 tions in 2005.
In other words, a Republican or Demo- party made it more important to seek a lo- The DSP intends to run a slate of candi-
crat only needs the passive support of 1,001 cal charter for the DSP. dates in Detroit for Mayor, City Council and
people to be placed on the November bal- At its June meeting, the DSP also elect- City Clerk next year.
lot as a Congressional candidate, while an ed a Local Executive, consisting of a Chair- Local elections in Detroit are non-parti-
independent has to have three times that person, Secretary, Treasurer and Organizer. san, and are often an arena for the various
level of support. “I think it’s great,” said Martin Schread- factions in the Michigan Democrats to win
Is there anyone out there willing to call er, who was elected Chairperson of the DSP. control of one of the party’s largest political
this a fair and impartial process? “Our Party definitely needs to reach out machines.
This double standard is an open affront more to working people in cities like De- The DSP meets at 2 p.m. on the first
to basic democratic standards. troit, and the chartering of our Local allows Saturday of every month, at Java In The
It sends the message that the two main us to show why that is so important.” Park, on Detroit’s northwest side. Meetings
parties — and their moneyed puppeteers — The chartering of the DSP marks the first are open to the public, and readers are in-
wished to send: the system is theirs, and time since the re-founding of the Socialist vited to attend.
theirs alone. Party in 1973 that there was a local for the For more information or directions to the
City. meeting, call the DSP at (313) 535-4234 or
THIS NOVEMBER, there will be Social- The new DSP also discussed areas of work visit their website at http://detroit.mi-
ists appearing on the ballot in Michigan, but over the next period, including endorsing socialists.org/. 5
as candidates of the Green Party.
The GPMI has been gracious enough to the South Oakland Chapter of the NAACP.
allow SPMI members to run on their ticket The areas in which Williams did best
as open Socialists, because they rightly un- were the most working class, areas the SPMI
derstand that it is especially difficult to get continued from page 16 needs to and will continue to focus on in
“third parties” on the ballot in this state. website and discussing the issues with the the future.
(The next issue of the Michigan Socialist workers and students of the school. The SPMI is continuing its work on the
will list the SPMI candidates running on the He had wide support from the Socialist fall campaign, running candidates in sever-
Green ticket.) Party of Michigan, who posted information al state-wide offices. 5
However, this is not the end of the story. on all their websites.
Many SPMI members have already The SPMI, along with Socialist vice- On the Internet...
pledged to work toward obtaining ballot presidential candidate, Mary-Alice Herbert, Election results for OCC Board:
access for the elections in 2006, and have had a presence at the debate sponsored by www.oaklandcc.edu/election
already begun the early preparations for this
effort on their own. [was] exposed by an assembly of workers.”
At the same time, the question of mount- I couldn’t have said it better myself.
ing a legal challenge to Michigan electoral What I can say, though, is that the Pis-
law has been raised, with some SPMI mem- continued from page 2 tons brought to Detroit a small taste of what
bers talking to constitutional lawyers about heart, but that was promptly cut out as the the working people of the City have want-
what it would take to make such a case. teams headed east. ed for years: victory.
While working people will not be al- By the fifth and final game of the series, In spite of the propaganda blitz, the Hol-
lowed to vote a full Socialist ticket this the media was already beginning to point lywood glitz and yuppie fits, the Pistons —
November, many will still have a chance to fingers. the team of “ugly ... outcast ... workers” —
vote for red Greens in many places. The L.A. Times sports writers blamed out-ran, out-shot and out-organized their
Next year, there will be municipal elec- “Shaq and Kobe” interchangeably, while the opponents to win what they sought.
tions across the state. L.A. Daily News just blamed Bryant. It was, to be blunt, class struggle on the
Members of the Detroit Socialist Party, The national media howled from one hardwood. It was class struggle in the paint,
for example, have already begun organizing coast to the other. They blamed the refer- and the collective action of the “assembly
to present a democratic socialist alternative ees, the fans and the weather. of workers” made mince meat out of the
to City voters in November 2005. When Pistons fans rallied outside the united front of the individualist “stars.”
Based on the relative success our com- hotel where the Lakers were staying during Kinda reminds me of something.... A
rade, Carl Williams, had in the elections for the Finals, they really blamed the fans. foreshadowing, perhaps, of what is to come.
Oakland Community College Board of But when the Lakers got stomped 100- Someday, the media will once again
Trustees (see article), we can expect that 87 in the final game, there was no one left splash the lead, “their facade [was] exposed
similar success in 2005 will provide an ex- to blame. by an assembly of workers.” But, this time,
cellent launching point for placing the The Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James it won’t be in the Sports section.
SPMI on the ballot in 2006. 5 probably said it best: “their facade of stars Let’s go to work. 5
Vol. 2, No. 4 • JULY 2004 15
socialist MICHIGAN NEWS
How democracy is denied in Michigan
By MARTIN SCHREADER the opportunity to spend a lot of time study-
ing the ballot-access laws of the state. How hard is it to get on the ballot in Michi-
Editor, the Michigan Socialist gan? Hard, but not quite as hard as in Okla-
What we found in the State of Michi-
WHEN WE IN the Socialist Party of Mich- gan’s electoral law was a structure that sys- homa, where you have to collect 150,000
igan decided to petition for ballot access, tematically excludes and discriminates signatures. What do 150,000 signatures
we knew it was going to be an uphill battle. against smaller “third parties,” especially look like? See for yourselves.
As a relatively small organization, with those that seek to offer a choice for work-
young members not very experienced in ing people.
doing the systematic work necessary for such Two important elements stand out in
a task, we understood that the odds against this: first, the unnecessarily large and com-
us actually obtaining the tens of thousands plicated statutes for gathering and compil-
of signatures were long. ing signatures; and, second, the obvious and
Thus, when the SPMI at its June meet- blatant double standard the state has writ-
ing voted to end the petition drive for 2004, ten into those statutes.
it was little more than the recognition that, It is clear from reading Michigan’s elec-
as a young organization, we need to build tion law that it was written by the two main
ourselves more in order to be successful in parties in the state — the Republicans and
the future. Democrats — for the two main parties, and
But this is not the end of the story. for no one else.
As part of our preparatory work for peti- As far the two main parties are con-
tioning, SPMI members — especially those cerned, only they have the right to hold of-
members most directly involved in the or- fice in Michigan. And if anyone wants to
ganizing of the petition campaign — had continued on page 14
Detroit Socialist Socialist receives over
Party chartered 11,000 votes for OCC Board
By L. MEYERS
By JOE DeNEEN percent.
The Michigan Socialist
By comparison, the top vote-getter re-
The Michigan Socialist
AT ITS MONTHLY meeting on June 5, the ceived 17 percent.
Detroit Socialist Party voted to constitute ON MONDAY, June 14, school board elec- This is a great showing for the first 2004
itself as a chartered local of the Socialist tions took place across the state of Michi- SP candidate in Michigan!
Party USA and Socialist Party of Michigan. gan and Carl L. Williams, Socialist Party Looking at the votes broken down by dis-
On June 27, the State Executive Com- member and Oakland Community College trict, Williams came in second place in Troy
mittee voted to approve the charter appli- student, was on the ballot for OCC Board (Warren Consolidated District), and third
cation. of Trustees. place in Northville, Oak Park, Oxford and
The DSP was initially established in July Williams received 11,675 votes, coming Southfield.
2003 as an organizing committee, a subor- in a strong sixth place (out of nine candi- In Southfield, Williams was a solid 344
dinate working group of the SPMI. dates). votes ahead of the fourth place finisher.
However, as the tasks of the DSP expand- This is a remarkable showing consider- He came in fourth in a handful of dis-
ed, the need for developing as a local com- ing that the top four vote-getters were the tricts as well.
mittee grew. three incumbents and two candidates with While this was a non-partisan election,
As well, the transformation of the SPMI both wide name-recognition and previous Williams made no secret of his affiliation
from a statewide local to a chartered state office experience. with the Socialist Party, posting links on his
continued on page 15 Williams’ 11,675 votes translate to 10.1 continued on page 15
16 The MICHIGAN SOCIALIST