Finally, a year worth celebrating: 2011, the year the exploited, oppressed, and abandoned of the world achieved critical mass in fighting back. As we look forward to 2012, the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) extends hopeful New Year’s greetings to all the rebels who made history in 2011 and all the workers and dispossessed who cheered them on.
One desperate and angry man in Tunisia lit the flame of revolution with his own body. But the conditions that led him to make this ultimate protest were not, at bottom, local or even regional. They were global. His personal sacrifice helped the world come awake to capitalism’s constant and universal sacrifice of workers’ dignity, health, and lives.
Young people and workers rose up from the whole of North Africa to the Capitol building in Wisconsin, from the public squares of Greece to the streets of Russia, and from the high schools and colleges of Chile to the camps of los indignados – the outraged – in Spain. Women who had been silent found their own voices, and their own leadership. General strikes proliferated. One revolt inspired and strengthened the next, leading in the autumn to a radical mass movement in the heart of imperialism: Occupy Wall Street.
The socialist feminist FSP experienced a dynamic year in the thick of things.
We organized against nuclear power and corporate and government treachery in Japan and spearheaded a campaign for pay equality in Australia. In the U.S., we initiated campaigns to fight FBI repression of anti-war and Palestinian rights activists, were in the forefront of organizing against Border Patrol persecution of immigrants in the Pacific Northwest, and actively supported the defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Lynne Stewart, Troy Davis, Bradley Manning, and other victims of the “justice” system. We joined with our sister organization, Radical Women, in its participation in Slutwalks around the country protesting violence against women and in its pioneering Sisters Organize for Survival campaign against budget cuts in Washington state.
For three years, the party has been organizing against austerity budgets, pushing for bold union action and a united labor-community fightback. Now the militancy has exploded. FSP has been strongly involved in the Occupy movement, the defense of longshore workers in Longview, Wash., and the December port shutdown all along the West Coast.
FSP also participated in force in the Save Our Schools mobilization that brought thousands to Washington., D.C., for a July national conference and rally against efforts to destroy public education. Our international travels included trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic to discuss struggles and ideas with Latin American socialists.
Like other working people and working-class movement groups, we continued to feel the hard pinch of the Great Recession. The party was heartened and energized by the tremendous response to our fund drive for the Freedom Socialist newspaper, which raised over $84,000, and to our other national and local fundraising. We want to warmly thank again everyone who made such generous contributions. These will stand us in good stead as we face the new year.
2012 will be a year of steep challenges as well as great opportunities. For every action, there is a reaction. This is apparent across the globe. In Egypt, for example, the military is revealing itself to be a new dictatorship in the making rather than a facilitator of popular democracy. In the U.S., liberal movement leaders are attempting to turn the Occupy movement into a Democratic Party campaign vehicle and some union leaders are resisting the stirrings of rank-and-file militancy.
The uprisings of 2011 and the reactions against them offer lessons for those who want to win justice, equality, and an end to the suffering caused by poverty. The year’s events have exposed the role of reformists who compromise with a ruling class that thinks it holds all the cards and has no use for handing out even crumbs. 2011 has demonstrated the limits of capitalist democracy, which, when threatened, will resort to spying, intimidation, jailings, tear gas, rubber bullets, and then real bullets. And it has shown that throwing out dictators is not enough – only the overthrow of the capitalist system will do. These lessons are part of what Leon Trotsky called the permanent revolution.
It is probably safe to predict that 2012 will be a year like no other. The combination of a U.S. presidential election, the austerity economy, and rising mass action will make for a time of nonstop political debate and continuing clashes in the streets. All the while, voters will be bombarded with the message that putting a Republican in the White House would be the worst possible disaster for workers, women, people of color, immigrants, LGBT people, students and seniors. Feeble apologies will be attempted for the past years of terror against working people, the years of shattered hopes and negative change delivered under top imperialist Barack Obama and the Democratic administration.
Unfortunately, working people in the U.S. have no mass party of their own, thanks to restrictive ballot access laws and the corporate parties’ electoral stranglehold. So, this is the year the FSP is taking the plunge: we are putting forward write-in candidates for president and vice president. The national campaign will launch with the next issue of the Freedom Socialist, which will be published in the second half of January. In the meantime, if you wish to donate to FSP’s work in 2012, you can do so here.
The FSP wishes you a radical new year and fruitful results in all your struggles for justice and liberation. How far can working people move the revolution forward in 2012? Let’s join together and see.
FSP National Secretary, U.S.
Freedom Socialist Party
4710 University Way NE, #100
Seattle, WA 98105
PO Box 308
Brunswick, VIC 3056