The International League of Peoples’ Struggle US Country Chapter (ILPS US) honors all the Palestinian martyrs, political prisoners and liberation fighters for their valiant efforts to resist Israel’s tyranny and fascism on this 75th anniversary of the Nakba. Despite the gruesome ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people to clear the way for the founding of and continued expansion of Israeli occupation, the Palestinian struggle lives on!
The increased violence we’ve witnessed is a result of the sharpening political crisis borne out of the internal contradictions of the Zionist state which is now on full display. Various factions are competing for political domination, each representing different camps in the ruling class but ultimately, these factions are fundamentally fighting to preserve Israeli colonialism and uphold imperialism. Where capitalism is in crisis, fascism tends to rear its ugly head as the last attempt of a desperate moribund society trying to establish order.
As one of the central collaborators of US Imperialism in the region, Israel has continued to do its part in heightening militarism, pushing destabilization, and asserting imperialist hegemony. Since its creation, Israel has pushed war not just against the Palestinian people but on surrounding countries deemed enemies of the imperial core, a condition made possible by a seemingly endless supply of resources and tools of war from the US and other Western imperialist powers. The US ruling class understands the significance of Israel as a tool to upkeep its role as the number one imperialist power, directing massive amounts of military and financial support to the “Israeli” terrorist regime in the form of weapons, direct financial support and massive investments, various loan guarantees and trade agreements among other means to prop up the racist settler state. It is clear that Zionism and imperialism are two sides of the same coin – the interests of Zionists are inherently antagonistic to the movements of oppressed peoples, in Palestine and the world abroad. As such, every blow to Zionism is a blow against imperialism. As a global phenomenon, Zionism is deeply intertwined with the global systems of exploitation and oppression. Israel is constantly innovating and exporting new means of surveillance, repression, and violence against our communities.
In the face of such violence, the only solution is to organize and build a mass movement of resistance. The unstable and flimsy unity of the various colonial factions is only rooted in the continued ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, but the unity of oppressed peoples is iron-clad and forged in genuine solidarity. We are fighting against a common enemy and the freedom of all people. Following the leadership of Palestinians on the frontlines of resistance, there is a necessity for a global movement in solidarity with this ongoing struggle. Further, as anti-imperialist organizations within the imperial core and prime supporter of the occupation, we must utilize our particular role in cutting the lifeline of the Zionist occupation. As Ghassan Kanafani said, “The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary, wherever he is, as a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.”
Stand with all Activists that Confront and Disrupt Imperialist and Neoliberal Schemes!
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle-US Chapter stands with our members who risked legal recourse and their personal safety to confront and oppose the visit of Philippine puppet president Ferdinand Marcos II to Washington DC and the “Consuls General Panel on APEC, ASEAN and US Partnerships” Panel in San Francisco.
ILPS member BAYAN USA led the actions against Marcos in DC outside the White House and disrupted a lavish state-funded dinner for Marcos and his state cronies while the Filipino people back home starve and homelessness and hunger are on the rise in the US. Marcos was given a red-carpet welcome to the White House, the Pentagon and big-business think tanks where he cut deals and made announcements that promote further land seizures, economic crisis, environmental disasters and militarization that benefit the ruling elite over the millions of Filipinos. Marcos’ visit is part of his global traveling spree to run from the popular discontent back home while selling out Philippine sovereignty abroad.
On the other side of the country, ILPS members and allies disrupted the panel of consular generals of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore to expose the imperialist and neoliberal nature of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ILPS-US is currently leading the national No to APEC Coalition to expose and oppose the APEC Heads of State meeting when it occurs in San Francisco this November.
Shortly after the anti-Marcos protests, media personality and Marcos supporter Dan Jimenez took to social media to condemn and infantilize the ILPS members as “a bunch of angry, clueless and most probably compensated protesters,” and ominously declared, “Those who think otherwise must be eliminated with extreme prejudice.” Infamous spokesperson for the US-inspired Philippine National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Loraine Badoy responded by falsely declaring ILPS to be a “terrorist front” organization.
Our country chapter decries any attempt to present ILPS organizations as violent, “terrorists” or anything less than the just fighters for freedom and democracy that they are. Terror tagging is a shameless and fascist tool used by oppressors when they fear the power of the people. It is a well-established and widely taught tactic by the US state, its allies and puppet regimes against those it deems a threat to its rule. This is a dangerous move that always intends to paint a target on the backs of activists and freedom fighters to justify legal attacks and violence on them by state forces, or to encourage non-state actors to take action themselves. Under the US “Countering Domestic Terrorism” (CDT) program and its counterpart Anti-Terror Law in the Philippines, this violence against activists will only get worse until these programs are challenged from the people power they attempt to snuff out.
ILPS stands by the brave actions of its members to expose and oppose the true nature of the US-backed Philippine ruling regime, the imperialist objectives of APEC and ASEAN and the effects these institutions have on the people of the Philippines and the Asia Pacific region in general, just as we stand with ILPS members of Students for a Democratic Society for fighting back against trumped-up charges for opposing repressive and discriminatory policies in Tampa, Florida. Fascism can only be met with anti-fascism, imperialism with anti-imperialism.
Let us continue to defend peoples’ struggle as we prepare to oppose the APEC meetings this year in Detroit, Seattle, San Francisco and every city it rears its monstrous face!
Click here to see the video of ILPS members disrupting the APEC panel at SFU.
On this International Workers Day, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – US honors all the workers past and present who have dared to challenge this dying and desperate system of US imperialism and the entire capitalist system. While Biden claims to be the most pro-union president, we must continue to expose this utter hypocrisy. The world is currently in an economic crisis and the financial meltdown is pounding the working class at a time when we are just coming out of an international pandemic.
Under Biden, wages haven’t been rising to meet the higher costs of living and inflation that’s hit all basic needs. Instead of helping workers get back on their feet, cuts to COVID-19 relief meant millions losing Medicaid coverage this April and bills that will sink them further into debt, the end of free school meals will drive up hunger and poverty in households already struggling to get by, school loans coupled with lack of well paying jobs are setting students and their families back. Workers fighting to form unions at Amazon, Starbucks and other workplaces have been hit hard with employer repression, while Biden invoked executive action to shut down the national rail workers strike, falsely claiming their fight for better pay and safety measures was “holding the nation hostage.” In truth, it is the US ruling class embodied in both the Biden administration and repressive state governments that are holding workers and all the masses within the US economically and politically hostage through increasingly authoritarian methods only to line their own pockets. All of this is going to get worse if we don’t build mass movements to stop this.
Since February, ministerial meetings of the the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) have been underway to negotiate highly effective ways for big businesses to turn investments overseas into megaprofits like the new “free” trade agreement called the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). How will they do this? By eliminating labor and environmental protections, eliminating tariffs to bring in foreign products & investments, and offering huge incentives like private ownership of public services – neoliberal schemes known as deregulation, liberalization, and privatization.
History shows us who loses under neoliberal frameworks – the huge loss of auto jobs that hit Detroit in the ‘70s when liberalization opened the market to foreign manufacturers, the massive influx of low wage sweatshops with deplorable working conditions popped up in Mexico with the introduction of North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) under Clinton in 1994, the flood of genetically modified seeds, fertilizers and pesticides in India which led to massive crop failure, huge debts and farmer suicides. The lack of national industrialization in historically colonized countries and the shifting of their natural resources for export have created huge gaps in wealth where people are forced to migrate despite dangerous conditions in search of higher paying jobs to support their families at home. In short, neoliberalism spells disaster for the majority of the world and the entire planet!
Who wins while the people and planet suffer? Multinational and transnational corporations – governments throw them huge tax incentives, open access to their natural resources, and opportunities to privatize their public services. In this light, it is no wonder that the Biden administration turned a blind eye to the violation of child labor laws with the influx of unaccompanied migrant children working in facilities producing for well-known corporations like Walmart, Fruit of the Loom and Frito-Lay. While people are fighting for their survival, the U.S. government has prioritized bank bailouts and wasting trillions to feed the massive military industrial complex and protect their economic interests with military interventions in the Middle East, Ukraine, military buildup along the Indo Pacific, and coup d’etats in Latin America – setting off conflicts and bringing the world to the brink of world war to redivide imperialist territories.
It is high time for workers of the world to remember their history – that they are the true makers of this society as everything was built by their toiling hands, blood and sweat, and NOT by the capitalists who exploit their labor power. Workers are the ones who fought and won the 8 hour day, safer working conditions and job security, put an end to child slavery, and even fascist tyranny. We have seen the power of workers when they come together at the picket line and in a unified strike – they have the power to stop production, transportation, shipping, and services to bring the monopoly capitalists to their knees. On this International Workers day, we call on the rank and file workers to form truly genuine and militant trade unions and workers organizations of all types and join us in the anti-imperialist movement to say NO to neoliberal schemes like APEC and IPEF and to Defend People’s Struggles against State Repression here in the U.S. and around the world. Together will we win a new world!
Workers of the world unite to bring imperialism down!
ILPS-US stands with all movement leaders and activists facing trumped-up charges during this egregious moment of political repression against movements fighting for justice, truth and collective liberation across the US. As always, the full might of the US state comes down hard on all those challenging its policies of theft, lies and oppression.
From the statement of Students for a Democratic Society (an ILPS member): “On March 6, 2023, members of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society held a rally on the University of South Florida campus to defend diversity in higher education. At the rally, four women activists were suddenly and violently assaulted by USF police before being arrested. Later, on April 4, another student received a communication of the university’s intent to charge her with additional misdemeanors and a felony – just like the other 4 activists. Once again, the police are lying about what happened, despite video evidence clearly showing the police going on an unprovoked rampage. Several of the activists lost their jobs after these unjust arrests.”
Subsequently on April 18, 4 members of the African Peoples’ Socialist Party (APSP) and Uhuru Movement based in St. Petersburg, FL and St. Louis, MI were charged with “acting as agents of the Russian government within the United States without prior notification.” after expressing their views against the ongoing US-NATO proxy war with Russia in Ukraine and in support of a 2015 UN petition decrying “the genocide of African people in the US.” This comes after an illegal FBI raid on one of the members charged, Omali Yeshitela, APSP chairperson, under the same phony charges. US Prosecutors falsely claim that the APSP covertly received campaign money from Russian agents to run a candidate in a local election.
The cases against the Tampa 5 and APSP members are blatant acts of repression against political dissent to US ruling class policies and imperialist activities. These policies, such as Florida’s HB 999, are rewriting school curriculum to hide historical truth, curtailing gender and cultural studies, and silencing minority groups attempting to share their stories. The suppression of free speech and people’s movements defending it are reminders the US state, be it the Republicans in the Florida state house or Democrats in the White House, has never been the protector of democratic rights it touts itself as.
The United States government has a long and wretched history with political repression. Targeting activists from all movements throughout the decades, we have seen the imperialist machine crack down on the activities of revolutionaries fighting for a better world. We’ve seen it from the days of the McCarthy era and the civil rights movement where the FBI assassinated Black leaders, infiltrated organizations fighting for liberation, disrupted events bringing communities together, and pushed violent schemes to entrap well-meaning organizers. The police are the first to break up protests – from worker’s struggles to student events and even free meal programs – to ensure that righteous and dissenting voices are silenced.
ILPS-US calls for the dropping of all charges against the Tampa 5, the APSP members and all those labeled criminals for defending truth and human rights. Under the Biden administration’s “Countering Domestic Terrorism” program, the US government has more legalized recourse than ever to arbitrarily label any dissenting voice as criminal and come down with the full force of the law. Militant grassroots organizing is the only way for the people to build the power to break free from oppression and exploitation. It is our duty to defend the right to fight for that power!
ILPS US resolutely stands in solidarity with the people of Atlanta as they fight to prevent the construction of the so called Atlanta Public Safety Training Center (aka Cop City)–an ecocidal racist, and anti-people project spearheaded by corporate interests under the aegis of the Atlanta Police Foundation–meant to develop the counterinsurgency capabilities of police departments in Atlanta and beyond as they crackdown on popular movements worldwide. Our unwavering support lies with the black working class community of south Atlanta that will disproportionately be affected by the flooding, deforestation and pollution construction will cause. Moreover we specifically condemn the numerous acts of violence and terror the Atlanta Police Department has enacted against activists, community members, and land defenders, from the execution of Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, to the arrest of 40 protesters and concert goers on Sunday March 5th (23 of whom are facing domestic terrorism charges). The APD and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s actions are an affront to the dignity of all who wish to live free of police terror in homes fit for human habitation and in communities of love and care.
As of today, 22 of these arrestees (excluding the SPLC legal observer, Thomas Jurgens) are being held without bond and all 23, if convicted, will face prison sentences as long as 35 years. These charges are one part of a vast campaign of political repression taking place on the state and federal level that justifies itself through the specter of “terrorism”. Thanks to the Biden administration’s Countering Domestic Terrorism (CDT) initiative, domestic terrorism prosecutions are 500% higher than they were five years ago, while convictions have risen 300%. This initiative, developed in the aftermath of the white supremacist and pro-fascist January 6th riots to falsely appear progressive and anti-racist on the surface, specifically targets “anarchist violent extremists, who violently oppose all forms of capitalism, corporate globalization, and governing institutions.” In the wake of indigenous land struggles such as No Dakota Access Pipeline, the 2020 George Floyd Uprisings, militant anti-fascist organizing, and the reawakening of the labor movement, the US government has recognized the need to maintain a tradition of surveillance, harassment, false arrests, and assassination that dates back to the COINTELPRO program of 70s and perhaps farther.
Stop Cop City is a crucial moment in a broader struggle against the militarization of police, the surveillance state, racialized violence, and environmental degradation–and because of this, the APD, Atlanta’s ruling coalition, and corporate interests in Georgia and beyond will stop at nothing to destroy the movement. The Black community of South Atlanta’s heroic defense of their life, land, and dignity is not a local struggle. The architects of the project have made clear their intention to have Cop City serve as a place where security forces throughout the world may come and perfect anti-riot tactics and urban warfare for the purpose of political repression. Moreover, many of the project’s corporate donors are multinational corporations with offices, plants, and warehouses in all of our communities. This much is clear: we are all human rights and forest defenders and it is imperative that we not only fight to have the trumped up domestic terrorism charges against the 23 dropped, but uplift the work of the movement in our own cities in whatever way we can and identify targets in every city we can. CDT and every initiative and entity targeting activists under the pretense of anti-terrorism and public safety must be called out, opposed and defeated. It is our responsibility to assert and defend the rights of all oppressed people who struggle for liberation.
The US Country Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle decries President Biden’s “State of the Union” 2023 address as a hollow statement far removed from the everyday experiences of the common working person.
(Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
Biden’s address began by declaring, “We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it.” Not only is this statement a condescending mockery towards the crisis-driven countries the US ruling class plunders through its control of foreign investments or strangles through sanctions, it also ignores the fact that for the majority of people within the US itself, the crisis never went away. Biden declared, “Today, Covid no longer controls our lives,” and “gas prices are down $1.50 a gallon since their peak,” despite the fact that Covid is still one of the leading causes of US deaths (over one million in 2022) and gas prices hit workers’ pocketbooks hard rising over $1 a gallon more than when Biden took office in 2021.
Biden laid a series of pipe dreams for the US public regarding the economy, saying, “We’re making sure the supply chain for America begins in America.” This rhetoric of touting “Made in America” economic populism could have come straight from former President Trump. Biden celebrated the CHIPS Act that would supposedly bring semiconductor production to the US, but without a hold on critical mineral reserves from abroad, this act is a hollow promise. Biden said nothing of his Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) that would send even more manufacturing and agricultural jobs away to utilize a more highly exploitable overseas labor force, or of the US’s intention to host the elitist Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) 2023 meetings in order to push the agenda for further neoliberal globalization. Despite Biden’s promise to revitalize the US economy for the working and lower middle classes, IPEF and APEC will implement an economic framework to stabilize and expand capitalism through decreased public spending, characterized by monopoly privatization, deregulation of protections for workers and the environment, and free trade liberalization.
Next was the Democrats’ much-celebrated Infrastructure Bill: “This law will help further unite all of America.” In reality, it only unites the fossil fuel industry in stripping all climate protections (a move from Biden’s own party) in the pursuit of superprofits while placing the entire planet further on the brink of disaster and doing nothing to address working class communities, especially Black, Brown, Indigenous and migrant communities facing a crisis of deindustrialization with crumbling roads, contaminated water, dilapidated housing and other structures.
Regarding climate change disaster relief, Biden shockingly claimed, “from Puerto Rico to Florida to Idaho, we are rebuilding for the long term.” Whatever hurricane rebuilding there was last year was through hyper financialization that put more public infrastructure in the hands of the richest private firms through corporate capture. Puerto Rico itself has been left devastated and deprived of its sovereignty with foreign bankers who control its self-determination via controlling its sovereign debt.
Biden also claimed that his Child Tax Credit helped cut child poverty in half, but didn’t mention that Congress failed to renew federal waivers for free and reduced lunch, skyrocketing the cost of food for elementary and secondary schools by 254.1% last year in a move that will affect over 10 million working class families and houseless youth. He also celebrated his reduction of student debt that nonetheless left in power the lending monopolies that exist as the only option for most youth to enter higher education today, chaining them to a lifetime of debt and rising interest rates looming ahead of them.
Similarly, the former Big Pharma lobbyist Biden stated “More Americans have health insurance now than ever in history,” though he failed to clarify that nearly all of it is privately provided and not actually guaranteed by the government, nor did he mention the ending of the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration which will impact healthcare access for tens of millions.
Throughout, Biden talked up the unions of workers involved in government projects and even touted the widely worker-supported PRO Act that would make it easier to unionize. This is absolutely hypocritical as his administration has shown itself to be incredibly anti-union when it preemptively shutdown the railroad workers strike for better workplace protections and painted the workers as “holding America hostage.” It comes as no surprise since he took sizable campaign contributions from infamous union buster and multi-billionaire Amazon-owner Jeff Bezos.
Biden had the gall to mention Tyre Nichols, the Black man murdered by Memphis police officers, while he himself championed bills skyrocketing police and prison spending as a Senator in the 1990s. In 2021 total US spending on police and prisons reached $277 billion – that’s $759 million per day. Despite name dropping the George Floyd Act as a supposed solution for racist police terror, Biden also produced his Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism two years ago that only further funds police agencies and supplies them with Federal resources for increased “counter-terrorism” operations of state repression which targets activists protesting police brutality and other injustices and puts them on the same plane as the white nationalists who stormed the US Capitol in 2020 blanketly calling all of them terrorists.
After serving as Vice President for so-called “Deporter in Chief” Obama and following the openly fascist border militarization and concentration camps of Trump, Biden is proudly walking in both of their footsteps as more and more migrants flee US-backed violence in their homes and risk losing their lives in the deserts of northern Mexico and Southern US, and at the hands of Border Patrol and ICE. Referring to Republicans’ efforts to thwart him on immigration policy reform, he pleaded in his address, “at least pass my plan to provide the equipment and officers to secure the border.”
Referencing the Supreme Court’s dismantling of Roe V. Wade legal protections, Biden feigned support for women’s rights saying “Make no mistake; if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it.” Biden’s economic policies, however, have done little to help working women who continue to suffer discrimination in the workplace and rising costs of family-rearing at home. The Democrats have been no champions for working women, but need to appear as if they are to save their voter base. This sentiment is therefore a political bargaining chip for Biden and the Democrats to win over voters dissatisfied with the Republicans led now by Speaker of the House and January 6th sympathizer Kevin McCarthy at a time when political tensions between both parties are at the highest boiling point since just before the Civil War.
Yet, where both parties agree is on the US’s continued military war drumming. Biden decried Russia’s actions in Ukraine as, “A murderous assault, evoking images of the death and destruction Europe suffered in World War II,” hoping that the world has forgotten the horrors of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Yemen and many other countries the US has devastated for global political dominance since 1945. Biden declared, “We will stand with you [Ukraine] as long as it takes,” but this means continuing to arm Ukraine, preventing the conditions for peace and lining the pockets of the richest arms manufacturers like Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, whose combined earnings totaled around $50 billion between July and September 2022 alone. He then made an ominous and provocative statement towards China: “Those who bet against America are learning just how wrong they are.” As the US continues to position its armed forces and military alliances within the Indo Pacific region, this comment should raise alarm to all those who aspire for peace against the US’s path towards full global domination .
Biden’s closing rang hollow when he claimed, “the State of the Union is strong.” He made his class stand clear saying , “I’m a capitalist,” while admitting the reality of corporate tax fraud in the US with a weak response, “But just pay your fair share.” Capitalists have never paid their fair share – everything about their “share” of wealth comes from the labor of those who have no say in the political direction of the country – the working class. The “union” of the US is nothing less than an antagonistic class struggle. The facts underlie the true reality – the majority of the people within the US, working and oppressed, are struggling more than ever to get by, and the ruling imperialist union is dying and desperate.
How should we, the working and oppressed people of the US and our mass organizations, respond accordingly to this union of the exploiters shoring up their failing strength from the sweat and blood of our backs? The ILPS-US carries the call from our recently held 2nd National Assembly to Fight for our Rights, Lives and Planet and Unite Against the Dying, Desperate US Empire!
To read our full National Assembly Declaration, our position on the true state of the people and our united opposition to the Biden regime’s false State of the Nation, read it here.
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle US country chapter offers its highest salute to Ka (comrade) Jose Maria Sison, former Chairperson and Chairperson Emeritus of the ILPS who passed on December 16, 2022 at 8:40 pm Philippines time at the age of 83.
A lifelong revolutionary who diligently served the people of the Philippines and the world, Ka Joma dedicated his life to advancing the National Democratic Revolution of the Philippines, and uplifting the struggles of all oppressed peoples & workers around the world in fighting back against imperialism.
In the midst of rising fascism in the Philippines under US-backed Ferdinand Marcos Sr., Joma organized youth and students to found Kabataang Makabayan in 1964 in order to fight alongside workers and peasants in advancing their common interests of genuine sovereignty and democracy. As a revolutionary thinker, he applied scientific socialism to the Philippines conditions to sharply identify the main enemies and methods of waging revolution towards the building of a socialist society. He also understood the importance of international solidarity and went on to serve as Chairperson of the International Initiative Committee, contributing greatly to the conceptualization of the ILPS, which culminated in its significant 2001 founding.
Since then, the League has served as a center for higher coordination, unity, and greater advances in the anti-imperialist struggles, waving high the banner of national and social liberation during which Professor Sison served as Chairperson of the International Coordinating Committee for 15 years providing keen critique against the neoliberal mechanisms of competing imperialist forces across the globe. He focused the League’s efforts on uniting the broadest forces of the oppressed and exploited to fight our common enemies.
Joma died in forced exile in the Netherlands from his home as a result of trumped up “terrorist” charges, a common tool of reactionaries to attempt to suppress and weaken revolutionary movements. This “terror tagging” is a practice that is all too familiar to organizers within the belly of the beast who resist the wide ranging forms of state repression against our movements and our communities daily. As a testament to Joma’s commitment and the strength of our liberation struggles, this “terrorist listing” was ultimately unable to slow down the growing momentum of the anti-imperialist movement or deter Ka Joma from continuing to organize until his death.
Joma was a writer, a poet, a theoretician who continually demonstrated the need to sharpen our analysis and our practice – but most importantly he was an unrelenting revolutionary. As we appreciate the great contributions of Ka Joma, we know that movements are not bound to individuals. To do true service to the legacy of Ka Joma is to take up the call to organize and continue fighting for a socialist future free from the shackles of imperialism and capitalism! We must boldly bring more people into the struggle, build greater unity across our movements, and let a thousand flowers bloom!
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle in the US congratulates the organizers of the years-long campaigns against constitutional slavery. We particularly want to highlight ILPS member Decarcerate Louisiana for their tireless organizing to make this a national mass movement issue.
This election cycle, five states voted on the slavery loophole in their state constitutions – language mirroring the 13th Amendment of the US constitution that permits slavery, or forced labor, as punishment for a crime. Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont voted to disallow slavery as punishment. Louisiana voted against making changes to their constitution, leaving penal slavery legally intact.
The victories are a testament to relentless, on-the-ground work and the will of the people to combat the brutal ongoing legacy of slavery in the United States. The movement-building undertaken in Louisiana demonstrates a powerful change in consciousness of the masses, regardless of the “No” vote. Let the defeats fuel the ceaseless struggle for justice and liberation.
Despite ballot initiative wins in most states, the results expose further evidence of the United States’ reactionary monopoly capitalist character and deeply ingrained white supremacist culture and social system. In Vermont alone, the state with the strongest anti-slavery ballot language, over 23,000 people voted against the measure prohibiting “slavery and indentured servitude in any form.” The Oregon Sheriffs’ Association, campaigning against their state’s anti-slavery measure, wrote in the Oregon voters’ pamphlet that prison labor programs “incentivize good behavior,” a backwards argument that the slave owning class used to justify keeping slaves in bondage for centuries. In California, The Newsom regime opposed adding an anti-slavery amendment to the ballot over concerns that paying prison laborers minimum wage would cost the state too much money. Under capitalism, human rights and racial justice are secondary to a corporate-skewed “balanced” budget.
Systems, not just phrases, are the enduring legacy of racial and class oppression in the US. The contemporary exception that legalizes slavery as punishment for a crime corresponds to the anti-Black foundation of the US. After the Civil War, which was won with the help of thousands of armed Black people fighting to emancipate themselves, the 13th Amendment was passed, which outlawed slavery except as punishment for a crime. So-called “Black Codes” were enacted to create the crimes that would racially target Black people, forcing them back into legal slavery. Today, monopoly corporations make use of this same system as racist policing overwhelmingly imprisons people of color in the US.
Though we view the passage of these amendments as a step toward racial justice and human rights, we recognize that the system that produces prison slavery and mass incarceration cannot simply be voted away. Nearly 2 million people are currently incarcerated in the US, the vast majority Black, Brown, Indigenous, and working class. This is the result of an exploitative economic system that creates massive inequality, particularly along racial lines, a brutal criminal system that punishes poverty and squashes dissent, and an absurd social system that naturalizes these injustices. Fundamental changes to this system were not on the ballot.
The new ballot initiatives may provide opportunities for legal challenges that could materially improve the conditions of incarcerated workers, as demonstrated by pending litigation in Colorado. However, we know the imperialist legal system is not built for the common people. Any legislative victory within a system based on the exploitation of the broad masses of people is only temporary. Real power is built from the ground up. A complete change in the social, political and economic system that governs the US and the world is what will bring an end to the conditions that lead to prison slavery. As we build the mass movement to make that change, these electoral results serve as a powerful indicator: the people demand the abolition of slavery.
Passing these constitutional amendments in 4 of 5 states is a peoples’ victory. It proves that a well-organized group of community organizations can unite with hundreds of thousands to build a national movement on a progressive issue. The ruling class would love for the fight to end at the ballot box, but we are not done. As we move toward a new year and US imperialism desperately tries to hold onto it systems of exploitation against the most vulnerable within its borders, ILPS-US calls on its members to link arms with all those fighting to end white supremacy and slavery and to build a better world; one of peace and international solidarity. Only a wide-ranging united front of all the oppressed and exploited with working people at its core, incarcerated and not incarcerated, will end the dying, desperate US empire once and for all.
Fight for our Rights, Lives and Planet! Unite Against the Dying, Desperate US Empire!
October 23, 2022 – Seattle, Washington
The US is an imperialist power in decline. In its dying years, and in its desperation to remain the world’s superpower and halt the rise of its competitors, it lashes out in provocative wars of aggression around the world and widespread attacks against marginalized peoples and those resisting its power at home. These desperate acts of destruction have devastating and lasting effects on the people and ecological balance of the world.
Working and daily living conditions are becoming more destitute as energy, food and other basic prices rise, and more and more workers, including in the US and internationally, are being pushed out of secure employment and many are forced into more precarious forms of work through contractualization, easily manipulated “flexible” work hours and worked deemed “criminal” by the state when no options are left. The corporate-driven climate and environmental crises lead to widespread pandemics like Covid-19, famine, devastating floods, power outages, land grabbing, and mass displacement. The renewed ambition for imperialist wars is aggressively propagated from the highest levels of the state bureaucracy, spread through news media, popular entertainment and the silencing of front-line resisters, truth tellers, and movements for justice. And in the midst of a ruling-class power struggle between the backers of the Biden and former Trump regimes, false promises of recovery and ultranationalist fervor are used to mask the intentions of either side as the 2024 Presidential election looms closer. The entire US ruling system is exposed for its inherent inability to serve people’s needs as an economic depression looms and previously held legal democratic rights are stripped.
But people are rising up and building new avenues of collective power. Workers in all sectors are initiating a new militant strike movement across the United States and around the world and condemning neoliberal schemes of privatization and deregulation. Landless and displaced people are uniting to advance national liberation movements and the struggle against colonialism and neo-colonialism. Women and people of oppressed genders and sexualities are resisting the physical and legal attacks on bodily autonomy being encouraged by fascist government policies. Socially marginalized communities and all people facing exploitation are finding unity against state crackdowns, fascist vigilantes, surveillance and censorship in defense of courageous resistance.
We are mass organizations in the belly of the beast. It is our duty and intent to uplift, defend and advance the struggles of all peoples being assaulted and suffocated within the imperialist core while extending our utmost solidarity to those being brutalized around the world by the attacks of the so-called “United States,” the number one enemy of the oppressed and exploited people of the world.
In the wake of this repression and this resistance, the US Country Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle marks its 10-year anniversary by calling on its members to unite with all peoples to:
Fight for Rights to economic, political, social, cultural and environmental justice against repressive state terror, unjust laws and court proceedings, dismantling of guaranteed livelihood and terror-tagging of activists!
Fight for our Lives and a society where safety and health is tied with community empowerment and national self-determination against the rise in extrajudicial state killings, sexist and white supremacist-inspired mass shootings and the privatization of food and health systems!
Fight for our Planet and a liveable future for humanity with the principles of ecological balance and international solidarity against corporate plunder and negligence, mass disinformation and the denial of science and the weaponization of the climate crisis as a “national security” issue and justification for corporate capture of green industries!
Unite against exploitation, imperialist plunder and all wars of aggression! Increase our fighting capacity as a country chapter and launch a national campaign against state repression! Defend freedom fighters, mass organizations and movements for peace and justice being targeted relentlessly by state forces through so-called “counter-terrorism” programs. Stand with organized and unorganized communities alike as they experience brutalization in the workplace, in racially policed neighborhoods, in prisons and at the militarized borders. Raise high the banner of the League and uphold the justness of all fights for national and social liberation!
The 2nd National Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) was a success! From October 21-23, 270 attendees from 122 organizations participated in a protest march, four plenaries, 8 workshops; passed 12 resolutions, new country chapter by-laws, and an assembly declaration; approved 3 new member organizations; and elected a new Steering Committee. For those who participated, there’s still time to share your thoughts and assessments so we can continue to improve our work!
We opened the first two days with international greetings from ILPS formations around the globe and a keynote speaker from Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kara Taggaoa. With fierce militancy we took to the streets of Seattle, showing the strength of our forces in exposing the exploitative and oppressive business activities of multinational corporations in the Seattle area such as Boeing, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Starbucks, calling out in a united voice their superprofits at the expense of their struggling workers and their complicity in arming the US war machine.