Young Communist League Organizer Jordan Farrar and CPUSA Party leaders John Bachtell and Scott Marshall were in Hurst for a "Texas Marxist School for Young Activists," July 29-31. It included informal class sessions, innovative exercises, cultural input, and an outdoor barbecue. Participants drove up to 5 hours for the event.
The curriculum included:
During a break on Saturday, a spokesperson for the young Texans presented John Bachtell, at left in photo, with a special award for the work he had done in bringing the event together. Bachtell modestly credited the Texans with having done most of the work.
The analysis of the political moment used three general Marxist approaches to clarifying political situations:
From the point of view of the working class and its allies, from our point of view, this political moment is characterized by a severe worldwide crisis. The nature of the crisis stems from the nature of capitalism, which will be the subject of another session. What we begin our studies with is the nature of this particular slice of time, this political moment.
The ruling classes of the different nations are attempting to resolve their problems by an all-out assault against our side, the working class and our progressive allies. Their methods vary in type, but not in direction -- all of them would benefit the wealthy and penalize everybody else.
With the exceptions of India and China, most nations seem to be rocked with this crisis. In the United States, our special concern, we see austerity measures, privatization, shifting of the tax burden, decreasing of government services, cuts in employment, speedup for those who are still working, increased racism, and the entire gamut of utensils that are being used against us around the world.
Of particular concern to us is the assault against democracy. The far right is making it harder to participate in politics, and even harder to vote. Just getting basic information, which we usually take for granted, has now become a major problem. This points to the tremendous importance of building up our communications networks.
Some would say that the response from our side is relatively modest, but the crisis here has not hit as hard as it has in countries already running over 20% unemployment as in Spain or experiencing starvation as in Somalia. Nevertheless, the responses so far, including in this nation, are unprecedented since the last great depression.
Things can happen very quickly. One national mobilization is going on right now. MoveOn is calling action after action, and some of them are endorsed by other progressive organizations, even the AFL-CIO, on Rebuilding the American Dream. How far will it go?
In 2006, close to a half million people demonstrated in downtown Dallas for immigrant rights. The entire event was spontaneously ignited by high school students who walked out of classrooms and marched on City Hall a few days earlier.
A good measure of the breadth of the protest movement was the April 5th mobilizations around the country in solidarity with public workers facing cuts and union busting. Can anyone remember a nationwide set of events so successful? Can anyone remember when the AFL-CIO played such a leadership role in mobilizing workers?
Our Texas event was in Austin on April 6. We claimed 10,000 marchers, but even with an estimate of 6,000, it was probably the largest demonstration in Austin since the Vietnam War. It was the third of the larger demonstrations this Spring. The first two were clearly focused on teachers. On April 6th, virtually every affiliated union in Texas had representatives in the march.
Workers' efforts, led by the Texas AFL-CIO, had some effect in stopping some of the worst Texas legislation, but a good many bad bills passed anyway. Furthermore, Governor Perry still apparently thinks he has enough support to win the Republican nomination for President.
Another good measure was the MoveOn House Parties on July 17. They claimed 1,500 events around the country with 20,000 people participating. Yes, it's not on the scale of the Arab Spring, but it is much larger than what we have seen over the past few decades. Progressive Texans are rolling up their sleeves for the 2012 elections.
The fight is on!
The school's participants received copies of "Texas on the Brink," a compilation of how Texas ranks on important measures of quality of life.
— Tax expenditures per capita (47th)
— Percent of population 25 and older with a high school diploma (50th)
— Percent of poor people covered by Medicaid (49th)
— Percent of population with employer-based health insurance (48th)
— Per capita spending on mental health (50th)
— Per capita spending on Medicaid (49th)
— Percent of non-elderly women with health insurance (50th)
— Percent of women receiving prenatal care in first trimester (50th)
— Average credit score (49th)
— Workers' compensation coverage (50th)
— Number of executions (1st)
— Public school enrollment (2nd)
— Percent of uninsured children (1st)
— Percent of children living in poverty (4th)
— Percent of population uninsured (1st)
— Percent of population living below poverty (4th)
— Percent of population with food insecurity (2nd)
— Overall birth rate (2nd)
— Amount of carbon dioxide emissions (1st)
— Amount of toxic chemicals released into water (1st)
— Amount of hazardous waste generated (1st)
In the section on Texas labor and progressive history, participants investigated the reasons that so few people know about our historical accomplishments. Three main periods of deliberate, government-led repression were discussed:
Participants were surprised to learn that so many Texans had been persecuted for opposing slavery and the Confederacy, for standing up for society's victims, and for fighting for progress.
In the section on women's equality, participants learned the basic reasons for suppressing the rights of the female gender. They learned the penalties that all people, including men, suffer as a result of discrimination against women. Pay cuts and divisions that make organizing difficult, for example. The fight to overcome these disadvantages was emphasized.