The Freedom Socialist Party is a feminist, working-class organization made up of people of many races, nationalities, sexual orientations and ages. We are activists and educators fighting for an end to all capitalist exploitation and oppression. We work in labor unions, join in social-movement struggles, and take electoral positions and run candidates.
In a period where everything seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, we agree with the advice offered by Eduardo Galeano, the Uruguayan socialist who wrote Open Veins of Latin America: “Save your pessimism for better times.” Party members are optimistic because we know that change is the one constant, and we believe in the power of working people to make revolutionary change that benefits the world’s majority.
Find a branch near you to learn more, or get in touch with one of the party’s National Offices. Get involved in some of our activities, which include study groups, public forums, and on-the-ground campaigns. Read the party’s platform and learn its history. If you agree with what FSP stands for, then join the socialist feminist crew — we need you!
What we stand for
A socialist feminist answer to right-wing populism
The Freedom Socialist Party (FSP), like a vast swath of the U.S. population, opposes everything Donald Trump stands for. But it’s not enough to be “anti.” We want to win hearts and minds with a positive vision of what we are fighting for and with proposals for how to wage that fight. Here are some of our goals, values, and ideas about how to go forward to achieve them.
The FSP is internationalist. In contrast to Trump’s rabid, fear-mongering nationalism, our loyalty is not to the U.S. flag and U.S. corporations, but to the global working class. Understanding each other and building solidarity across borders is the only way workers, indigenous people and the oppressed can save ourselves and save the planet, our common home.
FSP’s internationalism is concrete. We have sections in the U.S. and Australia and members also in England, Germany, and New Zealand. We actively support causes around the world. And we have important political relationships with organizations in other countries, especially Latin America.
FSP is for working-class organization. Everything our class and oppressed people have achieved is thanks to serious collective effort taking a definite form: unions, parties, combat battalions. Think about the eight-hour day, women’s suffrage, the U.S. Civil War, the Russian Revolution. It’s a fantasy to think that lasting, meaningful change can be accomplished without organization. Besides, being part of a group effort is challenging, educational, and often fun and personally rewarding.
Capitalist culture promotes narcissism and “rugged individualism.” But how far does that really get a person? As judges and many of his Republican brethren turn on him, our Bigot-in-Chief may be finding the limits of that strategy.
FSP believes in united fronts and united actions. “Divide and conquer” has always been a favorite tactic of bosses and right-wingers. Enough of that! All of us who are exploited and abused need to have each other’s backs — and not see each other’s struggles as separate or unequal. Alliances need to be equal partnerships based on mutual respect.
One of the best ways to work together is in a democratic united front, in which each group can maintain its own identity but agreed-upon actions are “one for all and all for one.” This concept has proved its worth many times in practice. One example from FSP’s history is the United Front Against Fascism, which played a key role in the late 1980s and early 1990s in defeating the attempt to turn the Pacific Northwest into an Aryan homeland.
The party champions defense of the vulnerable. Trump’s agenda threatens nearly everyone who isn’t straight, white, male, and the CEO of a major company. But certain groups especially need the protection of solidarity in action, including immigrants, refugees, young people of color, trans folks and the poor. These groups have targets on their backs, literally or figuratively. When we stand up for them, we stand up for everyone!
FSP advocates for government to be humanistic and serve people’s needs. We are painfully aware that only so much can be achieved in this direction as the long as the profit system prevails. But this is what government should be, and it’s what a genuine socialist government would be. In the meanwhile, the party believes in combating the idea that government is either 1.) inherently bad or 2.) best used as a vehicle for transferring public wealth into private hands and making the rich richer.
Government should serve the majority, and it doesn’t now. But there are still low-paid public employees striving every day to provide much-needed services — offering up school lunches, repairing roads, attempting to protect the environment, and so much more. They show that the functions of government can be positive. And they too are under fire — they deserve our support as workers.
FSP is committed to continue fighting for these goals, come what may, including in collaboration with other left groups whenever and wherever possible.
If you like FSP’s alternative vision countering Trumpism, we invite you to consider joining. We need your talents, skill, ideas, and human-power! Read through our website for more info or contact one of our local branches or national organizers.
10-point program of the Freedom Socialist Party
An Answer to Economic Crisis
No more bailouts for bankers & speculators. Open the books. Nationalize banking and insurance under the management of workers’ committees. • Let workers audit allegedly failing companies; make the results public. • Send corporate crooks to jail.
Redirect war spending. Put the Pentagon’s $700 billion-plus budget into retraining soldiers and workers for peacetime production and providing social services. • Bring the troops home; close overseas military bases. • U.S. troops and drones out of the Middle East and Africa now. • End U.S. military aid to human rights violators like Israel and Colombia.
Tax the rich & corporations. Replace unfair, regressive taxes like sales taxes with a steeply graduated tax on income and profits, moving the heaviest burden to the rich. • Tax all corporate and investment income, including capital gains and dividends. • Close tax loopholes and eliminate taxpayer subsidies for big business.
Raise workers’ standard of living. Eliminate all restrictions on union organizing and the right to strike, regardless of a worker’s immigrant status or type of employer. • Raise the minimum wage to union scale, with automatic COLA hikes. • Ban contracting-out of public services to the private sector. • Cancel anti-labor, racist, and environment-raping free trade agreements. • Amnesty for undocumented immigrants • Open the borders for workers (as they are for corporations). • Organize for a labor party — an independent political vehicle to challenge the two parties of big business as well as the far right, and to fight for working-class solutions.
End racist & sexist discrimination & improve the lives of those hardest hit. Bring back affirmative action. Ensure equal pay for equal work. • Mandate employer-funded childcare. • Restore Aid to Families with Dependent Children and social services for the elderly, disabled, sick, and mentally ill.• Drastically reduce the prison population by ending racial profiling and the phony war on drugs. • Redirect funds into drug rehabilitation, job training, and after-school and summer youth programs. • Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Provide universal employment & retirement security. Fund a mass public works program to create public-sector jobs at union wages, prioritizing disaster-related infrastructure. • Provide training and apprenticeship programs for low-skilled workers, especially teens and young adults. • Reduce the standard workweek to 30 hours with no cut in pay to instantly create more jobs. • Guarantee an annual minimum income for people unable to work. • Raise Social Security benefits to cover actual living costs. • Create a federal, worker-controlled pension system to supplement Social Security.
Make quality housing & healthcare available for all. Put a moratorium on home foreclosures. Dramatically expand public housing and rent control. • Nationalize the entire medical industry, including Big Pharma, under healthcare workers’ control, in order to provide free, universal care, including abortion and reproductive services.
Save public education. Use taxes on corporate profits to fund free, universal, multicultural public education through college or trade school. • Cancel existing student debt.
Mandate an environmentally sustainable energy policy. Slash fossil fuel emissions. Nationalize all spheres of the energy industry under workers’ control. • Create jobs in the environmental sector. • Redirect agribusiness and biofuel subsidies into building an integrated mass public transit system with service to rural and underserved urban areas.• Reopen and retool closed auto factories to produce components of mass transit. • Increase the use of public transit: make it free.
Uphold civil liberties & basic rights. End ICE raids and Border Patrol checkpoints. • Enact elected civilian control boards over the police. • Outlaw covert police spying. • Repeal the Patriot Act. • Dismantle the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and for-profit detention centers and prisons. • Free all political prisoners.
We are a revolutionary, socialist feminist organization, dedicated to the replacement of capitalist rule by a genuine workers’ democracy that will guarantee full economic, social, political, and legal equality to women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, and all who are exploited, oppressed, and repelled by the profit system and its offshoot — imperialism.
FOR REVOLUTIONARY INTERNATIONALISM – The working class is international and bound together by abuse by the ruling class. It must liberate itself through socialism. We support revolution on all fronts and seek to transform it into world socialism, which alone can defeat capitalism. We stress that global democratic struggles — for national liberation, for race and gender liberation — are inseparably bound up with workers’ struggles in every country, and can ultimately achieve victory only in conjunction with international socialist revolution.
FOR UNION DEMOCRACY – The working class has the strategic power, numbers, need, and opportunity to effect a socialist transformation of society. But first the trade unions must be freed from the stranglehold of the class-collaborationist bureaucrats and from dependence on the twin political parties of big business. Internal union democracy, class struggle principles, independent political action in the form of an anti-capitalist Labor Party, and an end to internal racism, sexism, and heterosexism are on the order of the day.
FOR RACIAL/NATIONAL/ETHNIC FREEDOM – The struggles of oppressed minorities and immigrants against bigotry and intensified exploitation objectively challenge the basic core of the capitalist system. The resistance of people of color and immigrants, who suffer a dual oppression, spurs all other sectors of the working class to advanced political consciousness and militancy. We stand for immediate and unconditional economic, political, and social equality for Blacks, Latinas/os, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans, and endorse the demand for self-determination by oppressed and indigenous nations the world over. We stand against anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism.
We advocate the collaboration of organizations of people of color with the revolutionary movement as the most realistic and historically validated alternative to the dead ends of separatism or reformist integration. The revolution depends upon massive involvement and leadership by people of color.
FOR WOMEN’S LIBERATION – We organize for the total emancipation of women on every level of life. The multiple afflictions of women — as an oppressed sex, workers, people of color, immigrants, lesbians, queers and trans women — propel them into militancy within every social movement, thereby laying the basis for unifying all the mass movements. Thanks to the rise of the autonomous feminist movement, the vanguard role of women, particularly working-class women of color, is visible almost everywhere, including in women’s caucuses within unions and political parties.
FOR LESBIAN/GAY/BISEXUAL/TRANSGENDER/QUEER EQUALITY – The revolt of LGBTQ people and gender nonconformists against sexual repression and sex-role stereotyping is a key ingredient of the fight for women’s equality and is equally revolutionary. Socialism is the logical solution for sexual/gender minorities who stand apart from the bourgeois patriarchal family and wish to end the long, bloody centuries of persecution and terror. Because of the multiple oppressions they face, queer women of color are a particularly militant component of social movements.
FOR UNIVERSAL HUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS – Among the most vulnerable and afflicted victims of capitalism are children, elders, people with disabilities, and prisoners — anyone who is not a profitable worker, or seen as one. We demand a world where all people have the inalienable right to security, care, love, and unhampered opportunity for growth, creativity, and productivity.
No change can be made without the exercise of civil rights. We insist on free speech, the freedom to associate, privacy rights, the right to protest, and a stop to mass incarceration and the rollback of civil liberties. And we declare that whenever any form of government becomes hostile to human freedoms, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”
FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SANITY AND JUSTICE – The world’s natural riches must be used and safeguarded by working people and First Nations, not by the corporations that exhaust resources for profit, patent indigenous knowledge and collective wealth, heedlessly create climate change and eliminate species, and destroy worker safety and health. Both fossil fuel addiction and nuclear energy threaten current and future generations. Technology must be used wisely and humanely to preserve Earth and its creatures.
FOR A MASS, WORKING-CLASS REVOLUTIONARY PARTY – The Freedom Socialist Party is a product of the living tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky and revolutionary socialists like James P. Cannon and Clara Fraser who have followed them. As Lenin wrote, “No revolutionary movement can endure without a stable organization of leaders maintaining continuity.” Through independent growth, regroupment with other left organizations, and other forms of fusion, we aspire to become a mass organization capable of providing direction for the coming socialist revolution.
The Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) was founded in Seattle in 1966, during one of the most thrilling periods in U.S. history. Liberation struggles rocked the country and the world!
The civil rights movement that had defied the Southern police state in the 1950s sparked a national Black freedom movement that ignited every other oppressed group — women, Chicanos, Native and Asian Americans, gays — and the mobilization against the Vietnam War. Internationally, anti-colonial independence movements swept Africa. In 1959, Cuba brought socialist revolution to within 90 miles of the United States.
This dynamic time was a test for Marxists, who were accustomed to focus on the traditional labor movement. Most radical groups consciously or unconsciously identified the working class with the white males who dominated union leadership and heavy industry. How should socialists respond to the passionate new masses? The FSP was the first party to embrace these movements and grasp their potential.
Why? Because FSP founders identified with and were part of these social upsurges. They linked their own rich experiences to the Marxist understanding that only the working class has the power to take humanity to the next level. Their genius was to see that most of the new movements were movements of workers — and the most exploited and militant ones at that. Although this perspective was trailblazing, it flowed directly from the ideas of early socialist thinkers like Marx, Clara Zetkin, and the co-leaders of the Russian Revolution, V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky.
All these pioneers identified the most downtrodden as the engine of change, and Lenin and Trotsky both specifically discussed the huge gap in consciousness and readiness to move between the privileged and the most oppressed workers in imperialist countries like the U.S.
The FSP’s creators left the Socialist Workers Party over the SWP’s failure to recognize the inherently revolutionary character of the struggles for Black and female liberation. FSP founders also disagreed with the SWP majority of the time by believing that a genuine workers’ state was established in China after the 1949 revolution.
But our predecessors would not have left the SWP had they been able to continue fighting for their positions. They were forced to strike out on their own because of an anti-democratic clampdown on internal debate, and the FSP was born.
Black liberation and socialist feminism to the fore. The theory of revolutionary integration that FSP founders proposed to the SWP in 1963 put forward the belief that the African American freedom struggle would grow into a movement to transform the whole system. The progress of the indomitable civil rights movement and the forming of the Black Panther Party confirmed this conviction.
FSP also predicted the women’s liberation movement that exploded on the scene in 1969.
In a 1966 pamphlet called “Why We Left the SWP,” we explained that the leading role of women in the civil rights, anti-war and other movements was not accidental and pointed to their secondary place in the labor movement as “a significant factor in the history of union degeneration.” The document went on to say that “the oppression and special exploitation of women is a burning injustice that intersects with every other political question and social movement.”
Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution discusses how in this political era even the most basic democratic demands can only be satisfied by socialism. Today, the unmet needs and linked issues of women, African Americans, other people of color, immigrants, and queers — the super-oppressed working-class majority — are the fuel for the fight. The FSP calls its program based on these ideas socialist feminism.
Within its first year, FSP weathered a divide over how well our practice would stand up to our feminist principles — and the accepted norms for behavior in the Trotskyist movement. When Clara Fraser, one of the party’s founders, decided to divorce her husband Dick, also a founder, he acted in a hostile fashion first inside the party and then in court. He contested custody of their son by charging her with adultery and unfit motherhood because she worked outside the home!
The party split, with the majority supporting Clara Fraser. Shortly afterward, the FSP briefly became all women. But soon other, more conscious men joined the party. Party men today are engaged feminists.
In 1967, Fraser and her close colleague Gloria Martin joined with young women from Students for a Democratic Society to create Radical Women (RW) [radicalwomen.org]. Begun in order to build women’s leadership in the left and anti-war movements, RW broke new ground to become in turn the socialist wing of the feminist movement. In 1973, it formally affiliated with the FSP, and the party gained a sister organization.
Making an activist mark. FSP has always believed that our job was to build movements and raise demands that point to radical solutions. Here are a few of many examples.
We turned to Black women anti-poverty activists to jointly organize a campaign for abortion rights that led to legalization in Washington state three years before Roe v. Wade. We urged anti-war forces not just to demand “troops out now” but to come out for the just victory of the communist National Liberation Front in Vietnam over the U.S. aggressors.
FSP members spearheaded the post-McCarthyism reemergence of open radicals in the unions. The party was in the leadership of the first staff workers’ strike at the University of Washington and the formation of an independent union that did unprecedented work on the concept of comparable worth.
We were pioneers for gay liberation. We joined historic Native American struggles for fishing rights, against poverty and government persecution, and more.
Women FSP and RW members broke into nontraditional trades as bus and truck drivers, welders and sheet metal workers, painters, carpenters, railroad workers, firefighters and electricians. Fraser set up a landmark affirmative action program for women at Seattle City Light in 1974 — and was fired a year later for her unstinting defense of employees at the utility. It took eight years, but with broad support she beat city hall and won her lawsuit for political ideology discrimination!
In the midst of these battles, the party continued to plow new theoretical ground. We developed an analysis of LGBTQ oppression as a consequence of female oppression. We studied Lenin on the national question and related his work to the burgeoning Chicano movement. We concluded that while Chicanos don’t constitute their own nation in the U.S., their oppression on the basis of race and their ties to Mexico destine them for prominence in the emancipation of the whole working class.
In 1981, comrades of color in the party and RW took a big step forward for the two groups by organizing themselves into a joint national caucus. The caucus evaluates the people of color movements and looks for ways to intervene in them, develops its members as a leadership team, and helps to solve problems of race relations inside RW and FSP when they arise. Among Marxist parties, it is a unique body.
Having originated in Seattle, the FSP celebrated our tenth anniversary in 1976 with expansion to New York and Los Angeles, and branches in Portland, Ore., and San Francisco soon followed. A vital part of reaching out nationally was the 1976 launch of the Freedom Socialist (FS) newspaper.
In 1977, we helped initiate the Committee for a Revolutionary Socialist Party, an important attempt to unify with other Trotskyists. It included leftists from around the U.S. as well as a representative from the Moreno current of Latin American Trotskyism. Unfortunately, CRSP foundered over the question of feminism. But one of its members, Murry Weiss, a former longtime leader of the SWP, joined FSP and enriched our feminist and international analysis.
Shoving back and claiming fresh ground in the Reagan-Bush years. Meanwhile, the recessions of the 1970s signaled an overall economic decline for world capitalism, with political reaction following inevitably. Starting in the late 1970s and accelerating under Ronald Reagan, U.S. working people and their organizations came under unremitting assault in a backlash against the social achievements of more than a century.
Funding for public programs was slashed. Union-busting became rampant. The racist “war on drugs” fueled a booming prison industry to house its many victims. Gains like affirmative action and abortion rights were barely won before they began to be eroded. Gay rights initiatives were ferociously opposed by a growing right wing. The income gap between rich and the not-rich widened apace. And just as the FSP was integrally involved in the exciting upsurges of the 1960s and early ’70s, in the period that followed we found ourselves in the thick of defiantly organizing against these attacks on the working class and its most beleaguered members.
Anti-communist Cold War fever peaked in the Reagan years. In the FSP, this was reflected in several legal battles in which the party and individual members defended the right to be opponents of capitalism. Although these cases were fought with the talented help of dedicated, principled lawyers often working for free, the party knew that success depended on public backing. We organized accordingly and scored important victories in a chilly climate.
In what was known as the Freeway Hall case, an eight-year saga kicked off in 1984 by a former member who attempted to force disclosure of confidential internal records, the party attracted support from labor, community, and civil rights groups and set a Washington state precedent protecting organizational privacy rights. Also in the 1980s, Asian American lecturer Merle Woo struck a historically resonant blow for free speech at the University of California at Berkeley by successfully challenging two discriminatory firings.
Meanwhile, modern-day fascists had decided to make the U.S. Northwest an Aryan homeland. The FSP took the lead in recognizing and responding to this threat.
We advocated a strategy of large, militant, face-to-face protests against public organizing by the Nazis, because this is the best way to discourage them — and they are not easily stopped once well on the way to becoming a mass movement. Seattle FSP spearheaded the 1988 formation of the United Front Against Fascism, which played a decisive role in denying the white supremacists the traction they sought. Each party branch stepped up to protest the far right.
FSP’s work against the right wing has consistently included defense of LGBTQ people, from pushing back against the homophobic campaign led by orange juice queen Anita Bryant in the 1970s to “Bigot Buster” campaigns against anti-queer ballot initiatives in the 1990s and beyond. During the era of Reagan and Bush the First, much of our LGBTQ activism centered on combating AIDS hysteria.
But the party was not just in a reactive posture during this period.
While new branches in the U.S. were putting down roots, pioneers in Australia made revolutionary feminism an international presence with the founding of FSP and RW branches there in 1983. The next year saw the debut of a new periodical, the Australian Freedom Socialist Bulletin. (Its successor is the Organiser.) FSP in Australia has gone on to be highly active in the Aboriginal justice and union movements, anti-Nazi organizing, reproductive rights work in concert with RW, and political exchanges with other feminists and radicals in Asia.
Comrades in both Australia and the U.S. have run for office. The FSP has no illusions about changing the system through the ballot box. But elections are one of the best arenas to reach wide numbers of people and popularize socialist ideas, and we’ve done just that through energetic campaigns in Australia’s state of Victoria and in New York, California, Oregon, and Washington, as part of left slates or alliances when we can.
Fall of the Soviet Union impacts world power dynamics and socialists internationally. As the FSP and other socialists in capitalist countries sought to hang on and make headway during the inhospitable ’80s, world events took a dramatic turn with the rise of pro-democracy revolts in the Soviet bloc. These raised the possibility of a political revolution against Stalinism that would toss out the hated bureaucracy while maintaining collective norms and structures.
This would have been a profound advance for all the world’s workers, and the party threw itself into studying developments, writing about them, and intervening directly as we were able. Party representative Doug Barnes traveled to the USSR in 1988 to investigate perestroika and glasnost firsthand and give away writings by Trotsky in English and Russian.
Barnes found plenty of grass-roots approval for the socialized nature of the economy that provided jobs, housing, healthcare and education for all. However, the organized, socialist leadership was lacking that could have prevented opposition to the status quo from turning into the comeback of capitalism.
The fall of the Soviet bloc workers’ states, as corrupted as they were, was still a tragedy for workers worldwide. It again subjected the people of these countries to the untender mercies of the profit system and removed the Stalinist brake, even if an unreliable one, on imperialist aggression around the globe.
At the same time, it provided new openings for talking about Trotskyism. Unfortunately, amid all the capitalist chest-thumping about the “death of communism,” many Trotskyists internationally fell victim to demoralization right along with Communist Party members and sympathizers. This was true of the Fourth International (United Secretariat), which essentially closed shop as a Trotskyist and Leninist organization during this period, becoming a loose association of revolutionaries and reformists.
It was also true for a small number of FSPers who left the organization at this juncture. They included three leading members of the San Francisco Bay Area branch, who covered their retreat by picking a nasty, unprincipled fight with national party leadership and their own local members. But the comrades they deserted (in the middle of Merle Woo’s campaign for California governor), most of them of color, were more than happy to say good riddance, and ably took up the branch reins.
With the demise of the USSR, Cuba suddenly became much more isolated and vulnerable, and FSP intensified its work in the island’s defense. In our press and in personal dialog with representatives of the Cuban CP and the Federation of Cuban Women, both in the U.S. and during repeated visits to Cuba, we urged these leaders to reexamine the distorting influence of Stalinism on Cuba’s political development. We saw an opportunity for Cuba to revitalize the world socialist movement by heading up a regroupment of revolutionary forces internationally. This regeneration was desperately needed (and remains so), since the U.S., after becoming the world’s sole superpower, immediately escalated its use of military and economic might to shore up the still flagging global capitalist economy.
But Cuban CP leaders took an opposite path. Suffering economically from the U.S. embargo and the collapse of their main trading partner, and suffering politically from the influence of Stalinism, they took the island toward capitalist restoration instead of workers’ democracy and revolutionary internationalism. Sad to say, this was the same route taken by the Chinese CP leadership, beginning earlier but advancing more slowly.
The U.S. used the Balkan Wars of 1991-2001 to finish off the Yugoslavian workers’ state. And it quelled upsurges in Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador and Guatemala, devastated Iraq in the first Gulf War, and invaded Panama and Somalia.
Washington imposed neoliberal policies — deregulation, privatization, forcing open protected markets, destroying labor and environmental protections — to prop up the U.S.-led world capitalist economy. This onslaught sparked an international movement against corporate globalization famously identified with the 1999 “Battle in Seattle” against the World Trade Organization. FSP was very much a part of this set of huge protests. However, in analyzing events afterward, we believed we could have better recognized the significance of what was happening as it unfolded and participated more strongly.
Our critique of that involvement produced a lightning response to 9/11 two years later. We rushed out a special edition of the Freedom Socialist, immediately opposed the invasions of Afghanistan and later Iraq, and began organizing against the phony, anti-immigrant “war on terror” as it unspooled domestically in both the U.S. and Australia.
Meanwhile, in 1995 and 1998, respectively, veteran FSP leader Gloria Martin and founder Clara Fraser died, sad milestones for the party and for Radical Women. Sexists on the Left, for whom the joint leadership of male and female feminists is a thing that passeth all understanding and who were fond of the myth of the party as “Clara’s cult,” predicted FSP’s imminent demise. Two decades later and still going strong, we are happy to have proved them wrong.
We established Red Letter Press in 1990, launched our website in 1998, and increased publication of the FS to six times a year in 2004.
The “fine old conflict” in the new century. History was made when the U.S. housing bubble burst in 2007, the first tremor in a multi-year, globe-rattling economic crisis that became known as the Great Recession. History of another kind was made the next year with the election of
Barack Obama, the first African American president. FSP’s non-support of Democrat and warmaker-in-chief Obama, which was controversial among many grass-roots people of color in the first flush of his victory, was decidedly less so by the end of his second term.
The Arab Spring burst out in 2010 and Occupy Wall Street in 2011. A popular tide was turning against neoliberalism and phony explanations for economic malaise. FSP closely followed events in the Middle East and North Africa from the beginning of the uprisings and reported on them regularly with an analysis that supports the secular revolutionary movement and opposes the imperialists, the reactionary jihadists and the capitalist regimes of the Middle East — whether they have anti-imperialists pretensions or not.
When Obama ran for reelection, still with the full backing of “progressive,” pro-Democratic Party leaders in the movements, FSP decided to do something to challenge the suffocating Democrat/Republican chokehold on elections. That something was the Stephen Durham-Christina López 2012 write-in campaign for president and vice president. Shockingly, they didn’t win, but we did what we set out to do: spread socialist ideas, make new friends, and get out clear, hard-hitting position papers on the issues of the day.
In 2014, a wave of highly publicized killings by cops of unarmed Black men, women and teens sparked a protest movement that became known as Black Lives Matter. In all our branches, FSP members vigorously protested the out-of-control police violence; in New York City, comrades worked with other community members to push for an elected civil review board over the police. At the same time, we critiqued the cultural nationalism at the base of both identity politics and a certain conception of “allyship.”
After decades of support for environmental and indigenous causes, FSP merged the two with our support for the “Water Is Life” battle of the Sioux at Standing Rock, as did thousands of others. We sent two hearty comrades as winter began to set in to learn about the struggle directly and help for a week with outreach and building shelters.
Since the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump and then Trump’s upset election, we have been busy in the streets, in our unions, and in coalitions. We sent a strong delegation from around the U.S. to the inaugural protests and the amazing Women’s March in D.C.
Besides leading and supporting strikes and union drives, comrades work hard in unions — organizing locals where they don’t exist, doing our best to radicalize them where they do. Today’s struggles against right-to-work laws and discrimination against immigrants and workers of color top the party’s labor agenda.
These efforts dovetail with some of our most important work of the period, which is organizing against the far right, open fascists, and anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim bigots. We know that the fascist agenda targets every group of oppressed people, with the ultimate aim of smashing any and all organizing by workers. So far, we have had some success cooperating with people of different political persuasions, and our hope is to build these ad hoc coalitions into a true united front with a working-class program and leadership and a democratic process.
On the international front, collaboration in recent years has borne fruit in the Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR). Besides FSP, its early members included Trotskyists from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica, and interest from revolutionaries in other Latin American countries seems to be growing, as evidenced by a 2017 CRIR meeting in Mexico City which tackled questions like the nature of the Maduro government in Venezuela.
CRIR has led or participated in several successful multi-country campaigns to free political prisoners, including Nestora Salgado in Mexico and Lynne Stewart, but its significance goes far beyond that. It is a modest but promising attempt to bring together some of the scattered forces of world Trotskyism that still promote a principled revolutionary program in order to strengthen actual, concrete socialist internationalism.
FSP believes that what we have to offer working and oppressed people is, above all, our Trotskyist feminist ideas. We develop our theoretical and analytical skills and exchange perspectives with other activists in many ways, including our regular reading groups, public forums and class series, special intensive study programs, internal discussion bulletins, and political preparation for regular conventions.
We strive to integrate the lessons of Marxist history with an interventionist, creative approach to the present. Our staying power lies in feminist dedication to the most oppressed, optimism about the power of the working class in the United States and globally, and a dialectical approach that aids us in analyzing the contradictory real world. We have confidence that our next years will be ones of growth both for the party and for the prospects for international socialism. We invite you to join in making this happen.
Working class voters deserve candidates who will fight for their interests. By publicizing a provocative platform of much needed and achievable demands under any rational system, FSP candidates are on the cutting edge. Win or lose, they move the political debate into areas that would never be discussed otherwise and present a cogent, leftwing alternative to the Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Greens who all support capitalism.
In addition, FSP candidates go out and build support among unions, grassroots organizations, people of color, immigrant communities, feminists, and sexual minorities.Their campaigns are powered and paid for by working people.
In elections where FSP has no candidate, we support other anti-capitalist and socialist office seekers by helping them get on the ballot and sending out letters in which we evaluate socialist candidates and take positions on local and statewide ballot measures.