Good coverage on the website of WGME:
“People are suffering now, and we need some rapid action now to protect people from being out on the streets,” says Crystal Cron, chairman, Portland Tenants Union.
“We need protections so that ordinary working people can stay in the city they know and love and the city should be for everyone, not just for people who decide they want to come here and make Portland their playground,” says Cron.
If you attended the refugee rights protest in Portland last year, you may have seen A., my elder kid. This morning we got into a conversation occasioned by her looking at a magazine article about neonicotinoids:
“What is a neon-ick-ot-in-oid?”
“It’s a kind of pesticide that’s also poisonous to bees.”
“That’s horrible! We should just build a big wall around it.”
“Well, some people are trying to get them banned. It doesn’t make much sense, killing the bugs that eat your plants but also killing the ones that pollinate them.”
“We should tell the workers in the factories that make the neonicotinoids what they’re doing to the bees and then they’ll go on strike and tell the bosses of the factory that they don’t want to make something so poisonous any more.”
“That would be a very effective way of stopping it. Unfortunately, it’s not what’s happening.”
“What is happening?”
“When people try to ban them in a town or a city or a state, the company bosses spend a lot of money to lie and say, ‘Oh, we don’t really know it’s hurting the bees. It’s not fair to pick on us and ban our chemical.’ And the workers in the factory either don’t know, or they’re so desperate for jobs that they keep working there.”
“That’s horrible. There should be new jobs for those workers with good conditions that are clean and organic and don’t make things that destroy the earth.”
“I agree. It’s probably not safe working in a chemical factory. There are probably lots of poisonous chemicals that are bad for people as well as bees.”
“Which would be a better job, African Elephant biologist [her current career choice] or factory worker?”
“Yeah, factory worker is a very difficult job. Especially a long time ago when there was child labor.”
“There is still child labor in some countries.”
“There is? That’s horrible! We should get rid of it all over the world! I’m going to make a protest sign!”
“Sounds like a good idea.”
“What should I make it about, neonicotinoids or child labor?”
“They’re both pretty important issues.”
“Which is more widespread?”
“They’re both pretty widespread.”
“Well, maybe I can identify more with child labor since I’m a child.”
“You’re also a person who eats foods that bees pollinate.”
Ultimately, unable to decide, she went with a different issue entirely, homelessness. Putting the web address for the Socialist Caucus of Maine on the bottom of the sign was her idea, not mine.
Text reads: “Give homeless people a home! Some people do not share your good fortune! MAKE HOUSES FREE!”
Several Socialist Caucus of Maine members have been involved in the Portland Tenants Union. The Forecaster‘s coverage of the newly announced Portland Coalition for Housing Justice is much appreciated.
– Joseph T.
Declaration of Principles, Socialist Caucus of Maine
Final, as amended at 4/10/2016 membership meeting
- The working class and the employing class have nothing in common: This has been true for the last 200 years or more of capitalism. The threat of global ecological catastrophe through climate change has highlighted this truth, not diminished it. The global 1%, incapable of curbing their lust for accumulation, have sought instead to exempt themselves from the disaster to which they have consigned the rest of us by expanding inequality and deepening exploitation and oppression.
- In the United States, the rule of the capitalist class is maintained by a division of labor between the Republican and Democratic parties. While the latter is more likely to give lip service to the concerns of working-class people—deliberately misnamed the “middle class”—and members of oppressed groups, neither represents or defends working-class interests.
- Political independence from the two parties of the capitalist class is therefore a necessity in the fight for human survival, dignity, and equality. We will not give electoral or political support to the candidates of the two capitalist parties.
- As socialists who fight for the political independence of the working class, we declare these principles to be at the core of what we stand for:
- Socialism is of, by, and for the working class. Workers collectively create all the wealth, both necessities and luxuries, in the world. We also create, under the spur of capitalist workplace discipline and the fear of unemployment and starvation, the weapons, munitions, fossil fuels, and other destructive products that make our world into a living hell. The working class alone has the power to preserve what is worth preserving and end all that is wasteful and harmful. We have the right to determine democratically how to direct the full product of our labor.
- Socialism is international. Workers cannot secure a dignified living standard at the expense of workers in other countries. Our challenges are global, and so are the solutions. Border fences and attacks on immigrants and refugees serve only to divide and thus weaken our class in the face of the capitalists’ continuing erosion of past social gains.
- Socialism is anti-imperialist. War, occupation, and repressive, puppet governments cause great suffering to working-class people throughout the world. Working-class youth, driven by joblessness and desperation in their neighborhoods and hometowns, contribute disproportionate bodies and blood to the U.S. military. Workers in this country will never be free so long as our labor is abused to cast the bullets and forge the chains that kill and bind our fellow workers abroad.
- Socialism is feminist. Women are an especially oppressed part of the working class, and most often are called upon to perform double duty, unpaid—earning less for the same work as men, then also having to care for and sustain the next generation of workers in preparation for future exploitation. Every form of legal or extra-legal discrimination that diminishes women’s autonomy serves to undermine the working class as a whole. Women’s oppression hinders the fight of the working class.
- Socialism is anti-racist. Racism—the systematic targeting of non-whites for inferior treatment—arose with capitalism’s birth pangs, through the genocide of American native peoples, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the destruction of colonial conquest. It is doubtful that capitalism would have survived as long as it has without the division of the working class created by the illusory stake in the existing order our rulers’ have given to white workers. Socialists fight racism in every manifestation, whether it wears a Fascist’s boots, a cop’s badge, a judge’s robes, or a boss’s tie.
- Socialists defend the rights and dignity of disabled people. Under capitalism, the label of disability is applied to any person whose body, mind, or behavior is in some manner less than ideally suited to being exploited profitably by capital. Socialists defend the rights of disabled people to full political participation and equal human dignity, to rewarding work and to a full livelihood independent of one’s availability for work. These demands can only be fully met in a society that lives by the watchword, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”
- Socialists defend the rights and dignity of gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, and queer people. LGBTQ oppression is one of the ways capitalism maintains its rule. Denial of the human dignity of LGBTQ people creates divisions among working people and reinforces patriarchal family norms. Despite important gains in recent years LGBTQ people in the US, particularly youth and people of color, continue to face horrific oppression. LGBTQ youth homelessness, bullying, and suicide rates are high. Poverty, un- and under-employment among transgender people is appalling. Transgender people of color are especially at risk, facing murder and horrific police brutality. Socialists demand full equality for LGBTQ people.
- Socialism is democratic. Democracy means “rule of the people.” The U.S.’s system of government was cobbled together by slaveowners and propertied merchants to prevent democracy, not create it. Today, the capitalist class can and does buy elections flagrantly. With the aid of the corporate press and media, it has taken sole ownership of two major political parties, and tries alternately to co-opt or smash any threat of a third. To make democracy a reality, the working class has to create and strengthen its own institutions that can ultimately replace the power of the employers, not only in government, but in the press, media, education, and the workplace as well.
In line with our commitment to democracy, we will work with anyone on joint campaigns for demands in which we believe, whether those people agree with us about socialism or not. We will discuss and promote our ideas on a host of issues important to working-class people in Maine, the United States, and the world. If you do agree with the fundamental principles outlined here, please join us in the fight for a future worthy of our dreams.