News and Letters Committees Call for Plenum 2015

New from News and Letters Committees:



to Work Out Marxist-Humanist Perspectives for 2015-2016

March 2, 2015

To All Members of News and Letters Committees

Dear Friends:

The long-simmering outrage of Black masses that has broken out into a movement against this racist society, particularly its pattern of racist killings by the police, has transformed the subjective terrain of the U.S. Not only has that reverberated internationally, it has also made itself felt in the battle of ideas and the sphere of theory, from the messages of support issued by women’s liberation, labor, Gay rights and environmental groups, to essays such as “‘We all can’t breathe’: Reflections on Marx’s Humanism and Fanon” (Jan.-Feb. 2015 N&L).

The new revolt calls not only for ever greater participation in the movement against such brutality but for ideas rooted in the history of freedom struggles past and present. Thus the objectivity of 60 years of News and Letters Committees as Marxist-Humanist organization enters into today not so much by marking an anniversary as by giving voice to the self-determination of the idea of freedom as it speaks to this specific time.

Clearly, the subjective transformation has not overthrown the old order. The police have not stopped killing—as seen by the shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, Wash. There is no confidence that the killers will suddenly start being convicted, even if one or two examples are made. Quite the contrary. Patrick Lynch, head of New York City’s largest police union, is still yelling fascist rhetoric about blood on the hands of anyone who dares question any action by the police.

There is more than a whiff of fascism pervading local, state, national and international politics. One of the best examples is the fascist theocrat Roy Moore, Chief Justice of Alabama, who, in ordering a ban on same-sex marriage in that state, is defying, not the supposedly “Left” Barack Obama, but rather the most reactionary Supreme Court in decades. This is the Court that enabled plutocrats like the Koch brothers to pervert elections with unlimited money, that gave its blessing to employers denying women access to birth control, that invariably sides with businesses over workers, that gutted the Voting Rights Act. Moreover, Moore’s appeal to the law of God—as determined by him—as trumping the U.S. Constitution managed to rally not just the KKK but, initially, the majority of the state’s probate judges to his defiance, even knowing they would soon be ordered to grant wedding licenses to same-sex couples. Most have now bowed to the federal court’s orders, but several still refuse. That is an indication of fascism’s latent support.

The victory of the “radical Left” party Syriza in Greek elections did not take place in a different world. The economic crisis that struck world capitalism beginning in 2007 unleashed forces of revolt and forces of desperate counter-revolution. Revolt has ranged from the U.S. (prison strikes, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and new labor struggles from fast food and Wal-Mart to nurses to the present oil workers’ strike and dockworkers’ struggle) to the Arab Spring revolutions, to upheavals across Europe. There is no doubt that revolt against austerity fueled Syriza’s electoral showing, yet at the same time the openly fascist Golden Dawn party rose to third place in that same election. Just as worryingly, Syriza’s coalition with an anti-immigrant, theocratic, right-wing party has been met with a slew of apologias from leftists in other countries who want to emulate Syriza’s kind of populist broad Left unity as the path to power—as if history has no lessons for us on precisely this disastrous path! In the 1930s, the spontaneous actions of the masses, including occupations of workplaces, defeated fascism in France and dealt it a severe blow in Spain; however, Popular Front governments stifled those spontaneous actions and ended in the Right’s victory.

A related serious defect endemic to today’s Left is a tendency to side with any state or armed force that presents itself as an opponent of the U.S. Here too the first negation, the need to oppose the overwhelming power of U.S. capitalist imperialism, blocks thought’s urge to negate that negation. That second negation, needed to concretely raise a banner of a society on new human foundations, brooks no accommodation with counter-revolutionary forces, no matter how anti-U.S. Its necessity is clear from the way some on the Left take at face value the revolutionary claims of the “people’s republics” carved out of eastern Ukraine with Russia’s aid, while they disregard the severe repression there, including of independent trade unions, even to the point of murder—whose struggles are not separate from those of workers in western Ukraine against the oligarchs.

It is also clear from the way truly revolutionary voices in Syria are disregarded in favor of dogmatic repetition of “Hands off Syria,” even if that means tacit support for the genocidal Assad regime and/or the genocidal Islamic State (IS). In 2015 U.S. drones are still killing civilians as well as fighters in several countries; war continues to tear apart lives and disrupt society in Afghanistan with U.S. involvement; and the destruction wrought by this country’s war and occupation in Iraq not only has drawn U.S. troops back into the fray after the war’s ostensible end but has bred sectarian conflict and the rise of IS. At such a moment, opposition to imperialism must be based on a concrete understanding of the way the U.S. intervenes only to support capitalist “stability” and at the same time undermine any genuine freedom movements. To do so requires a realistic assessment of the counter-revolutionary forces that pose as anti-imperialist; even more, it requires singling out and listening to the people fighting for freedom. That includes the Kurdish and Syrian revolutionaries who—in spite of the U.S, which all along has hoped for the “stability” of an Assad victory—have fought both the regime and IS and in so doing created the space in which others can fight IS. As in Syria, the disintegration of Yemen and Libya in the wake of the revolts of Arab Spring reflects both the rulers’ desperation to stave off social revolution even at the risk of such disintegration and the lack of a unifying banner of total freedom encompassing new relations in production and women’s liberation.

The vantage point of liberation is needed for all the many crises besetting the globe, from attacks on labor and the poor by reactionary U.S. state governments to the lingering economic crisis, especially in Europe and China; from the new stage of revolt in Mexico to labor unrest and revolt by the Black poor in South Africa; from Boko Haram’s push into four nations to the way imperialism and capitalist “development” set the stage for the ebola epidemic in West Africa; from militarism in Japan and the U.S. to capitalism’s inexorable momentum toward climate chaos.

This simultaneity of revolutionary ferment and many-faceted counter-revolution makes imperative the activity of the philosophy of revolution, which is not so feeble as merely to have a right or obligation to exist without actually existing, and proving its existence by influencing events. Therefore our observance of 60 years of News & Letters and News and Letters Committees is not simply a celebration looking back—a retrospective—but a new return to Archives as perspective, as action and as organization. It is a return to the category that Marxist-Humanism made of the post-World War II era as a new stage of production, a new stage of cognition, a new kind of organization whose objectivity is rooted in that new stage of cognition. That is, this newspaper and organization express the fact that this era is characterized by a movement from practice that is itself a form of theory and that that essential aspect of the new stage of cognition is complemented by the self-determination of the Idea of Marxist-Humanism. That is an objective need for today’s swirling revolt, revolution, and counter-revolution.

What is needed from an organization of the type of a small group like us is what Raya Dunayevskaya described as “leadership, not as ‘party to lead’ but as revolutionary philosophy to raise new banners of freedom that meet the challenge of the movement from practice.” In bringing together members and invited co-thinkers and co-activists, this year’s national gathering will aim to collectively work out our Marxist-Humanist perspectives in such a way that analysis of the meaning of events and activity in mass movements lead to organizational growth as well as the self-development of masses as Reason as well as Force.

The Plenum this year, which is the meeting of the National Editorial Board members of News and Letters Committees, opens in Executive Session Friday evening, May 22. Beginning on Saturday morning, May 23, and running through Sunday, May 24, all other sessions of the Plenum will be open to all members and to invited friends, who are given the same privileges to the floor for discussion.

We are asking the Chicago local to host the Plenum and to be responsible for a Saturday evening party to greet out-of-towners. All locals and members at large are asked to let the Center know at least two weeks in advancewho will be attending the Plenum, in order for the host local to plan meals and arrange for housing.

Pre-Plenum discussion begins with the issuing of this Call. A draft Perspectives Thesis will be published in the May-June issue of News & Letters so that it can be discussed by members and friends, correspondents and critics, before the Plenum. Articles for pre-Plenum Discussion Bulletins must be submitted to the Center by Monday, April 27. Any articles after that date must be copied and brought to the Plenum to be distributed there. Central to working out our perspectives are concrete discussions from all of us about how we will project the need for philosophy of revolution in permanence and how we will bring that philosophy to bear on the different movements and events. Discussion within our local committees and with all those we can reach becomes a measure of the inseparability for us between preparation for our Plenum and all our activities throughout the pre-Plenum period.

The Resident Editorial Board

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Los Zapatistas y los padres y estudiantes de Ayotzinapa: Una unión decisiva

Un nuevo momento en la dialéctica de la lucha


Eugene Gogol

Desde el asesinato de tres estudiantes y la desaparición de otros 43 de la Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos en Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, el 26 y 27 de septiembre pasados, México ha estado en protesta continua. Tal movimiento en ascenso —literalmente, un nuevo momento histórico— ha sido encabezado por los padres de los estudiantes de Ayotzinapa, quienes han recorrido todo el país, compartiendo su “dolor y su rabia”, en busca de sus hijos. Más aún: han desafiado al gobierno en todos sus niveles, incluyendo al ejército y a la policía, al cuestionarles hasta qué punto estuvieron involucrados en los eventos de Ayotzinapa; siempre y en todo lugar han gritado: vivos se los llevaron; vivos los queremos. Sin embargo, ha habido otros focos de protesta: el cuasi levantamiento armado que se está llevando a cabo en Guerrero; el crecimiento y desarrollo de un movimiento estudiantil, particularmente en la ciudad de México; la participación de sectores sociales masivos en las manifestaciones en la capital del país y otros estados, etc. Esta dialéctica de la lucha es fundamental para la transformación social-revolucionaria en México.

Lee más

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Özgecan Aslan: Sexual assault and murder in Turkey spark widespread outrage, demonstrations

Check out this preview of a portion of the lead article for the upcoming March-April 2015 issue of News & Letters.  Comment now so that your thoughts can be taken into account in the finished article, which, for International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month, will take up women’s oppression and freedom struggles worldwide.  

Just as in late 2012 when the brutal rape and murder of 23-year-old medical student Jyoti Singh Pandey galvanized women throughout India (see “Rape protests in India,” Jan.-Feb. 2013 News & Letters, p. 2), so now another savage sexual assault and murder—this time in Turkey—brought forth thousands of demonstrators, mostly women, throughout the country and beyond.

read more…

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On Greece and Syriza: Against the inhumanity of austerity, we pose the fullness of human liberation!

This was posted on the News & Letters website a couple of weeks ago, and is worth reading:

On Greece and Syriza: Against the inhumanity of austerity, we pose the fullness of human liberation!

Short description: The electoral victory of Greece’s Syriza represents resistance to brutal austerity. Alarms are raised by Syriza’s alliance with the racist, theocratic Independent Greeks party.

The electoral victory of Greece’s Syriza party represents an important step in resisting the brutal austerity that has been imposed on the Greek and European working class as the capitalist system’s response to its own intractable, seemingly never-ending crisis. Unemployment is conservatively estimated at 25.8% with youth unemployment at 49.6%; nominal wages have fallen 23.5%; and public health care spending has fallen by 40%. The capitalist crisis is the most vicious of zero-sum games, in which everything is taken from the life fabric of human society until nothing is left but wars and accounting ledgers. While we in News and Letters Committees celebrate the resistance represented by the Greek vote against this intolerable system, Syriza’s immediate follow-up to the election cannot be overlooked….

Read the whole piece at the original site.

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January-February 2015 N&L available on the web

The January-February 2015 issue of News & Letters, Vol. 60, #1, is available on the web.

View the issue online or as pdf.

Lead: Revolt surges against racist system destroying Black lives
Protests erupted following the decision by a St. Louis County grand jury not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the cold-blooded murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Thousands marched under the slogan “Black Lives Matter!” These demonstrations grew in the wake of the equally outrageous decision of a Staten Island grand jury not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the murder of Eric Garner.

Editorial: Never-ending U.S. wars
The formal end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan at the end of 2014 was just in time for post-war wars to begin in Afghanistan itself, as well as in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen.

From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya: Letters on Hegel’s Absolutes, Part 3
Raya Dunayevskaya’s May 20, 1953, letter is one of the historic-philosophic writings included in The Philosophic Moment of Marxist-Humanism. This letter explores Hegel’s “Philosophy of Mind” and is where she experienced her philosophic breakthrough that became the foundation of Marxist-Humanism.

European racism and economic decay
In today’s economic crisis, Europe is haunted by the specters that were supposed to be overcome by the European economic union and the single currency Eurozone: the 20th century tendency to degenerate into vile nationalism, genocidal racism and the barbarism of total war.

Workshop Talks: CNA nurses strike to save lives
2,600 mental health clinicians in California carried out a week-long strike over Kaiser Permanente’s “failure to provide timely, adequate care to patients.”

Essay: ‘We all can’t breathe’: Reflections on Marx’s Humanism and Fanon
As a Black man, I asked myself: Why—through the dialectical crises of the social relations of production and the subsequent implosion of multiple outlived modes of production—has racism persisted? Why, despite the relations of property literally bursting asunder, does racism survive? How and why does racism, sexism, homophobia survive revolution after revolution? Will we again be left behind after the next revolution?

Woman as Reason: 60 years of News & Letters’ feminist dimension
As we celebrate 60 years of publishing News & Letters, a look back at the Women’s Liberation Movement encountering Marxist-Humanism and how the women’s movement was anticipated as well as documented in its pages. It is an ongoing perspective.

Letter from Mexico: Mexican protests deepen
At the end of the Nov. 20 mass demonstration in Mexico City in support of Ayotzinapa’s missing students, acts of repression from state forces became more open and intense.

Rage against lawless police murders
Participant reports from several Black Lives Matter protests in different cities.

Lima climate talks betray future
The 20th “Conference of Parties” was held in Lima, Peru, and, rather than action, issued a “Call for Climate Action” without binding commitments or effective monitoring. The U.S. and other nations as good as admitted the bankruptcy of capitalism by arguing that binding commitments had no chance of being adopted.


Page 2
Men Explain Things to Me — a review
Women WorldWide

Page 3
Murderous King Coal on trial
Chicago teachers’ strike reviewed
Journey to Death’s door

Pages 6-7
Enough is enough: This movement is about humanity
Readers’ Views, Part 1
Readers’ Views, Part 2

Page 8
What solitary means

Page 9
ADAPT warns Rauner
Handicap This!

Page 10
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Queer Notes
Philosophic Dialogue on Dunayevskaya’s May 12, 1953, Letter on Hegel’s Absolutes and Gramsci’s “organic party”

Page 11
Youth in Action
Read and write for News & Letters
New York study group: 1965-2015 Fifty Years of Struggle and Revolution: The Legacy of Malcolm X

Page 12, World in View:
Zapatistas and the Ayotzinapa rebellion
Cuba-U.S. Relations
Sri Lanka election
Massacre in Nigeria

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November-December 2014 N&L available on the web

The November-December 2014 issue of News & Letters, Vol. 59, #6, is available on the web.

View the issue online or as pdf.

Lead: Racist election deepens reactionary direction of U.S.
The U.S. government took an ominous, reactionary political turn in the 2014 midterm elections, with Republicans taking control of the Senate. Multiple crises of impending war, ecological catastrophe, and a new global economic downturn mean time is running out for humanity under the disconnect between thought and reality endemic to capitalist politics.

Editorial: Rojava and Syria’s revolution
Today the heroic struggle of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, along with allies of the Free Syrian Army, to defend Kobane from the IS deserves all support. This means first the support of the people, the workers, women, and all who struggle for a better life.

From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya: 1953 letters on Hegel’s Absolutes, Part 2
Raya Dunayevskaya’s May 12, 1953, letter—presented in two parts, beginning in the previous issue—is one of the historic-philosophic writings included in The Philosophic Moment of Marxist-Humanism.

Mexico at a new moment of revolt
Massive protests have swept across Mexico in response to the brutal state-instigated attack against students from the Escuela Normal in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.October and November have been months of rage, led by hundreds of thousands of students.

New Spanish Translation of American Civilization on Trial:  Black Masses as Vanguard
Contradicciones históricas en la civilización de los Estados Unidos. Las masas afroamericanas como vanguardia: New Spanish Translation of American Civilization on Trial: Black Masses as Vanguard by Raya Dunayevskaya.

Hong Kong youth confront class rule
Hundreds of people in Hong Kong marched to People’s Republic of China government offices on Nov. 9 to demand direct negotiations with the government of China and to oppose sham democratic elections planned for 2017. Marchers began from encampments of thousands of protesters who had been maintaining blockades of major thoroughfares for more than six weeks.

Essay: The Syrian Revolution and its philosophy
The confrontation between differing classes and worldviews has been most intense in Syria, making it the test of world politics—and of philosophy and revolution. The Syrian Revolution has pushed thought about revolution to a new level.

Workshop Talks: Ebola fearmongers
In the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, only one person has died on U.S. soil from the virus. But millions have been led to panic. Irresponsible politicians created a climate of fear, calling for mandatory quarantines on healthy healthcare workers like Kaci Hickox returning from West Africa.

Michael Brown rally
A participant reports on demonstrations in St. Louis and Memphis over the killing of Michael Brown and others by police.

Hundreds of thousands throng People’s Climate March
Central Park in New York City was filled with hundreds of thousands at the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21.

Prison hunger strike commemorated
About 100 people commemorated one year since the suspension of the historic 60-day hunger strike by California prisoners opposing the torture of solitary confinement.


Page 2
Woman as Reason: Indians protest sexual assault
Stopping violence against women
Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights — a review
Women WorldWide

Page 3
Nurses strike for care
UAW shirks campaign at Mercedes-Benz
Workers can fix L.A.
Detroit: houses lost, pensions looted

Page 5
Philosophic dialogue on Dunayevskaya’s May 12, 1953, letter on Hegel’s Absolutes

Pages 6-7
Readers’ Views, Part 1
Readers’ Views, Part 2
Debate On Middle East, Revolution And Counter-Revolution

Page 8
Aramark excels in dishing up maggots
Being in the SHU
Stop blaming migrants
Handicap This!

Page 9
Britain’s recognition of Palestine
Detroit developers flee angry homeowners
Deadly nursing home protested by disabled
Queer Notes
Revolutionary Rojava

Page 11
Youth in Action
Mexico: Students win at IPN

Page 12, World in View
Rousseff wins Brazil’s runoff election
Yemen agreement
Burkinabe revolution

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Women WorldWide September-October 2014

From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Protect Aminetou Mint El-Moctar in Mauritania; female genital mutilation in the U.S.; Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win “Nobel Prize of mathematics.”

Read more:

Women WorldWide

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