Peaceful competition

I recently listened to an Ezra Klein interview of a top advisor in the Biden administration – NYT podcast – discussing the American Rescue Plan. What struck me in his explanation for its size – for going big – was the example of China. The Covid crisis, a turnabout in economic thinking among policy makers, the expectations of millions, and a Democratic Party tacking in a progressive direction didn’t go unmentioned by Klein, but they didn’t preempt mention of China’s role in the administration calculus either. I was initially surprised, but upon thinking about it, it made perfect sense to me. China is the main rival of the U.S. today and its economic successes and growing presence in the global theater can’t be ignored by the Biden administration and Washington.

This competition at the economic and other levels isn’t necessarily a negative thing, as long it is peaceful and includes cooperation as well. What neither country should want is a New Cold War.

The Pro Act and Amazon

Reading some of post mortems on the  Amazon vote in Bessemer makes me wonder if any of the prescriptive advice offered would have made enough of a difference to turn a pronounced defeat into a breakthrough victory. What I don’t wonder about is the imperative of a full mobilization of labor and its allies in support of the Pro Act – the present day equivalent of the Wagner Act.

While it faces a wall of opposition from Congressional Republicans and some temporizing by a handful of Democrats, the urgency of its passage is undeniable. It would not only change the terrain on which organizing drives are fought out and likely expand the labor movement in size and strength, but it would also constitute at once a bulwark of multi-racial democracy and progressive reform, not to mention a powerful barrier to right wing authoritarian rule.

Sheds little light

What lies at the root of the present political divisions in the country, as suggested in this analysis, isn’t political sectarianism on both sides of the political divide, but the rise and further radicalization of right wing authoritarianism to the point where “fascistic” no longer seems like rhetorical hyperbole.

Animated by white supremacy and race panic in the first place, its evolution in recent years has turned it into a clear and present danger to everything that is democratic, decent, egalitarian, and progressive in our culture, political economy, and society. Blaming both sides obscures this reality and misdirects politically. It becomes, in effect, an obstacle to understanding the nature of and solutions to today’s crises and challenges.


I’m not sure if anybody else would have had the prestige and influence to go against the grain and usher in a period of reforms of Cuba’s economy and society. He challenged some of the outdated thinking and practices in the party as well. In doing so he breathed new life into the Cuban Revolution. It’s ironic that many of the economic reforms that Gorbachev introduced in the mid-1980s and met such derision within the communist movement were not that much different than what Cuba and other socialist countries have done since in their economic reformation process.

What made Gorbachev’s reforms different was his readiness to give up the party’s monopoly on political power and its control over civil society too, including the media and other means of communication.

At the core of any strategy

In the Communist Party I learned that the struggle against racism, is at the core of any strategy that envisions a just, democratic, equal, and socialist society. I also learned that in joining this struggle white people are not doing people of color any favors. To the contrary, it’s in their moral, economic, and political interests too, white privilege notwithstanding. And, finally, I gained an appreciation that people of color are not only racism’s immediate, hardest hit, and daily victims and its most enduring opponents and tested leaders on freedom road, but constitute as well the most powerful, eloquent, and consistent voice and material force for progressive and radical change generally.

I’m not suggesting that similar, in some cases, better anti-racist understandings can’t be gained in other organizations and in the course of one’s life experiences in a changing world. They can. My only claim is what I learned in the “party” gave me a new framework to look at racism, politics and the world and a vision to measure up to, even if my understandings and actions haven’t always kept abreast with the times and the requirements of the moment.

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