[Hpn] Pseudo-Progressivism and Why We Need the Peace and Freedom Party In Santa Cruz

steve argue steveorchid@yahoo.com
Sun, 1 Dec 2002 19:26:13 -0800 (PST)


Pseudo-Progressivism and Why We Need the Peace and
Freedom Party In Santa Cruz

By STEVE ARGUE
   A City Council resolution stating opposition to the
coming war in Iraq.  Another opposing the so-called
“USA Patriot Act”.  A symbolic one day City Council
medical marijuana give-away opposing a recent DEA raid
outside of the city.  Another City Council resolution
supporting framed political journalist Mumia
Abu-Jamal.

   These are all acts by the Santa Cruz City Council
that the Peace and Freedom Party supports, but we do
not support the politicians who passed them.  Why?   

   All are symbolic resolutions and actions that do
not impact the daily workings of the federal
government, capitalist system, or local police state. 
Yet they do create the illusion that the progressive
movement has control of the city government in Santa
Cruz.  It is with the left cover of this illusion that
the city government carries out its pro-police state,
anti-renter, anti-working class, anti-free speech,
anti-medical marijuana, and anti-homeless agenda
locally. 

   To be elected in Santa Cruz, city council
candidates generally must flash some progressive
credentials to gain office.  Councilmember Cynthia
Matthews has a legitimate progressive credential as a
paid administrator for Planned Parenthood, yet she
opposes the right of an important feminist voice, Free
Radio Santa Cruz, to even be on the air. 
Councilmember Tim Fitzmaurice is a member of the Green
Party, although he didn’t get their endorsement in the
2002 election.  Mark Primack touts his past
involvement in saving the green belt, while presently
being heavily financed by large developers.  Scott
Kennedy is involved in running the Resource Center for
Non-Violence, yet he supports police violence by his
police in Santa Cruz.  Emily Reilly claims she “bakes
good things” and pays her workers a living wage, a
claim that has been refuted by her workers.  Ed Porter
got the endorsement of the Green Party by promising to
overturn the city’s anti-homeless sleeping ban, a
promise he has not kept.  Councilmember Mike Rotkin
touts the false claim that he is a socialist, while
calling those who actually advocate socialism
unrealistic idealists.

   While there are many activists who prefer to jump
on the band-wagon of the city government’s progressive
illusions to give their own cause the mantel of
governmental legitimacy, the Peace and Freedom Party
points out that this mode of operation is counter
productive.  Groups such as Peddlers Express, unions,
and SCAN alienate themselves from their true allies by
supporting status quo politicians who do not really
support their causes.  

   In addition to these groups a rogue “Central
Committee” of the Peace and Freedom Party in Santa
Cruz headed by Mike and Maurine Smith has a history of
endorsing just about every pseudo-progressive
politician that has been elected to the Santa Cruz
City Council.  This rogue “Central Committee” has no
relationship with the state office of the Peace and
Freedom Party and conducts its affairs without any
democratic control from the membership.  The
legitimate Santa Cruz Peace and Freedom Party will be
meeting at 1:30 PM on Saturday December 7th at the
Louden Nelson Center where all registered members of
the Peace and Freedom Party as well as those unable to
vote in government elections will have a vote. 

   The key to understanding the difference between
pseudo-progressive politics and the revolutionary
program of the Peace and Freedom Party is to
understand the difference between words and deeds. 
This principle holds true in examining the policies of
national and state Democrats and Republicans just as
it does in examining the local politics of the
Democrats and the Green who hold office.

   A good example would be the policies of Bill
Clinton.  Bill Clinton appeared to many who listened
to his words and looked at the endorsements he got
from many unions and gay rights groups to be pro-union
and pro-human rights for gays.  Yet in reality Clinton
gave gays the “don’t ask don’t tell policy” of the
military, which actually led to more discrimination of
gays in the military.  Clinton also stepped in against
workers who were out on strike, hurting workers in
favor of corporate profits.  In addition Clinton was
carrying out wars across globe from the bombing of
Yugoslavia to giving billions of dollars in military
aid to the death squad government of Colombia.  He
starved over a million Iraqi children through an
economic blockade, ended welfare as we knew it,
weakened the Endangered Species Act, let political
prisoners such as Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
rot in prison, proposed a health insurance bail out
while opposing real health care solutions such as
single payer or national health care, etc.  

   Locally members of that same Democrat Party, and
one Green, run the city government.  The level of
hypocrisy that comes from these people is very high,
but almost never reported in corporate newspapers such
as the Sentinel, Mercury News, Metro, or Good Times. 
For instance there were numerous articles on the
medical marijuana give-away at city hall, yet there
were no articles that pointed out that this symbolic
act was illegal according to the zoning ordinance
introduced by Mike Rotkin and Tim Fitzmaurice and
passed by the city council.  That zoning ordinance
outlawed medical marijuana dispensaries in almost all
of Santa Cruz and shut down the one dispensary in the
city on Seabright Avenue.  Yet these same politicians
used the DEA raid as an opportunity to create a
photo-op on an issue important to the majority of
Santa Cruz voters. 

   This is no small question.  Through this city law
the pseudo-progressive city council makes the
attainment of needed medicine for patients with
glaucoma, cancer, AIDS, and epilepsy much more
difficult and illegal. 

   The complicity of the corporate media in portraying
anti-medical marijuana politicians as pro-medical
marijuana is one example showing how the backing of
the corporate establishment keeps these
pseudo-progressives in power.  It also shows the need
for more people to be part of and rely more on
alternative media such as Free Radio Santa Cruz (96.3
FM), the Green Press in the Comic News, Liberation
News, the Organizer, Street Spirit, and the Partisan. 
In addition, Santa Cruz Indy Media is often a good
source for information although they could also use
some policies against the direct posting of articles
from the corporate papers.  It should also be a goal
of the local Peace & Freedom Party to print and
distribute an alternative to the lies of the corporate
media as well.

   A key issue in Santa Cruz is where the
councilmembers stand on homelessness and the homeless.
 Presently there is a sleeping ban in Santa Cruz that
makes the harmless act of sleeping illegal for the
homeless whether they are outside, in a tent, or in a
vehicle.  Covering up with a blanket is another crime.
 The Santa Cruz Peace and Freedom Party sees this as a
key issue, not just because the homeless shouldn’t be
doubly victimized for their situation of poverty, but
also because anyone in government who can not get this
issue right won’t get anything else right either.  

   The newly inaugurated city council is made up of
politicians that are either openly for the
anti-homeless sleeping law or who have lied about it. 
Ed Porter, a local Democrat Party chair, got the
endorsement of the Green Party in the 2000 elections
by putting in writing that he would work to end the
sleeping ban if he was elected.  Porter lied.  He has
not even attempted to do anything of the sort, but his
lie helped get him elected.  Tim Fitzmaurice, when
confronted during a candidate’s forum about his vote
for the sleeping ban openly lied about his vote and
told the UCSC students that he had not voted for it. 
Again the corporate media never reported this easily
proven lie regarding a matter of public record.

   Mike Rotkin, on the other hand, is openly
pro-sleeping ban.  He subscribes to the theory that if
Santa Cruz doesn’t abuse the homeless all of the
homeless in the country will want to come here.  This
is a doubtful theory.  Most of the homeless are
looking for a way to get back on their feet and are
unlikely to want to move to the most expensive city in
the country.  Obviously making sleep illegal does
nothing towards housing people.  Not allowing people
to sleep outside when they have nowhere else to go is
cruel, anti-working class, and anti-socialist.

   While those who defend the capitalist system simply
see the homeless as failures, we in the Peace &
Freedom Party see homelessness as a failure of
capitalism.  Studies have made it clear that it is the
shortage of affordable housing and the low wages paid
to much of the working class that are the two largest
causes of homelessness in America.  There can be
little doubt that mental illness, alienation, and drug
and alcohol addiction are also major contributors to
homelessness.  We also see poor people homeless
because of their desire to create art, travel, or who
have difficulty participating in a society that is
often so regimented and unjust.

   The Peace & Freedom Party does not see the homeless
as some kind of pest infestation to be jailed, driven
out of town, or driven off the earth.  We instead see
the homeless as human beings who should all have
housing, access to good paying meaningful jobs, as
well as needed social services.  Thus our political
program addresses both ways to cure homelessness and
opposes laws that punish people for having no home.

   In terms of calling for emergency relief for the
homeless we advocate an end to the sleeping ban as
well as calling for much better provisions for
emergency shelter and camping.  We demand needed
sanitation that will benefit both the homeless and the
housed alike.  This sanitation includes bringing back
all of the port-a-potties that the city government has
shut down as well as adding more to other locations. 
In addition, restaurants should be forced open
restrooms that they have illegally shut down. 
Dumpsters should be provided in emergency camping
areas, along with clean up crews, and enforcement of
legitimate littering laws both against the homeless
and the housed who have purposely sabotaged safe
sleeping zones by dumping their garbage at them.  

   A combination of hatred for the homeless on one
hand and ignorance or apathy on the other, combined
with a large dose of lies from the corporate media and
the status quo politicians keeps the Santa Cruz
anti-homeless politicians in power.  Yet instead of
playing into anti-homeless prejudices amongst the
electorate and the local power brokers the Peace &
Freedom Party seeks to educate the electorate about
some of the key issues involved in the Santa Cruz
anti-homeless laws and seeks to break the power of the
current king makers.

   These principles hold true of the Peace & Freedom
Party on every issue.  The Peace & Freedom Party does
not adjust our principles according to what could
obviously get us elected by getting us more backing in
the corporate media, more funding for our campaigns,
and fewer struggles with the prejudices of the
electorate.  

   In advocating solutions we do not gloss over and
ignore the basic economic divisions in society, nor do
we pretend we can make everyone happy.  In America
there are workers and there are bosses.  There are
also renters and there are landlords.  While there are
other classes in the middle, these are the most basic
economic divisions; they are, in short, the division
between the exploiters and the exploited.  Locally the
exploiters maintain control with their money, media,
pseudo-progressive politicians, police, judges, jails,
etc

  The relationship between renters and landlords is
much like the feudal relations where serfs were forced
to slave for their landlords.  In Santa Cruz
low-income workers are forced to turn the majority of
our income over to landlords who often use the money
to do things like buy more property or party hard off
of our labor.  The pseudo-progressive government’s
sleeping ban makes the very act of sleeping after not
paying our feudal landlords their monthly tribute,
illegal.  In addition the city government does not
address the issues of renters.

   An issue that is not popular with the landlords and
their lackeys in the city government is the need for
rent control.  In Santa Cruz a renter paying $800 a
month can have their rent raised by $200 dollars and
legally there is nothing the renter can do about it. 
Obviously this causes hardship for renters and can
even cause homelessness.  In places like Berkeley that
have rent control these types of landlord abuses are
not allowed.  

   In Santa Cruz the Peace and Freedom Party and the
left wing Green Party candidates, Steve Argue and
Thomas Leavitt, were the only candidates in the 2002
elections to address the need to lower the cost of
rent in a meaningful way.  Both advocated the easing
of ordinances that restrict the building of high
density housing for the building of low-income rental
units.  This would help to ease the housing shortage
and bring down the cost of rent.  Higher density
housing within the city also begins to answer problems
of urban sprawl and makes transportation alternatives
to cars such as bikes and public transportation more
efficient.  Yet there are many landlords and other
homeowners who don’t want high-density housing or poor
people in their neighborhoods.  These are the best
places to build.     

  While Peace and Freedom Party calls for rent
control, more low income housing, and an end to the
sleeping ban as ways to reduce the abuses meted out to
the poor we also say that the greedy landlords should
have their property expropriated in a worker's
revolution that redistributes the ownership of housing
and production while guaranteeing the political rights
of those who do not take up arms against the new
society.  Through such a revolution we can guarantee
that all will be housed, have medical care, free
education including higher education, and saner
environmental policies based on needs rather than
greed.  We see such a long-term program as realistic
because we know that the capitalist system goes
through massive convulsions of economic crisis and war
that can cause the kind of political turmoil where a
real change in society can take place. 

  While high rent is the biggest problem facing
low-income renters and the homeless it is also the
biggest problem facing downtown merchants.  Yet
instead of blaming the greedy landlords many of the
downtown merchants, coupled with the corporate media
and their errand boys in city government, are
scapegoating the poor for their problems.  

  Instead of passing rent control the current City
Council has passed a new series of laws for the
downtown area that severely limit where musicians,
other street performers, political tablers, and
panhandlers can do what they do.  These new laws,
introduced by Ed Porter and Emily Reilly, are strongly
opposed by the Peace and Freedom Party.  In addition
we oppose a new proposal by Emily Reilly to hold
strong police discretions over the heads of street
performers through licensing.  We instead call for the
complete repeal of all of the “downtown ordinances”
passed by the city council in 1994 and 2002.

   Obviously instead of these laws against the poor,
activists, and street performers we need rent control
and more low-income housing.  We also need higher
wages.  On this issue we once again run into the
hypocrisy of the local pseudo-progressive government. 

   One of the bragging points of the
pseudo-progressive incumbents in the last election was
their passing of the so-called living wage ordinance
in the year 2000.  This ordinance was one of the
weakest in the nation, effecting only about 10 workers
with a one-dollar raise.  About 600 part time workers
are not covered by this ordinance.  Nor are workers
who work for companies that do work that is contracted
out by the city or those who work for non-profits that
are funded by the city.  

   The Peace & Freedom Party calls for a stronger
living wage that actually has an impact on the
majority of low wage workers that work for the city. 
Cutting the six digit salaries of top administrators
such as the city manager, the chief of police, and the
head of the Re-Development agency as well as others
could pay this for.  

  In addition the Peace and Freedom Party also call
for a doubling of the minimum wage and indexing it
with inflation through legislation on the state and
national level.  All workers deserve a minimum living
wage much higher than the current minimum wage.  This
is another issue where we side with the exploited over
the exploiters, the workers over employers.

   While the capitalists insist that it is their God
given right to exploit workers, and claim that they
give workers jobs, the Peace & Freedom Party points
out that without the capitalist system there would be
no capitalists to expropriate a large portion of our
labor power in the form of profits.  Likewise we
support the labor movement and other movements in
every attempt to rest a larger share of the fruits of
our labor from the parasitic capitalist class. 

   The disagreements the Peace and Freedom Party has
with the labor movement stem from our desire to
strengthen the labor movement and its legitimate
causes.  To these ends we are strong advocates of
union democracy and see the rank and file of the
union, not its leadership, as the true union.  On this
point we support the strikes of the union membership,
whether officially sanctioned by the leadership or
not.  This includes the Santa Cruz bus driver’s
wildcat strike of 1998.  We also condemn the actions
of Mike Rotkin and Scott Kennedy in crossing that
picket line to fuel busses as scabs (this was
witnessed by Nora Hockman, a local leader of the
SEIU).  Likewise we condemn the decision by leaders in
the bus drivers union (UTU) to endorse scab Mike
Rotkin in the most recent election.

   The Peace and Freedom Party in fact calls for an
entirely different electoral strategy than is
currently pursued by almost every union.  It is our
position that workers gain nothing from their unions
endorsing Democrats and pseudo-progressives.  We also
think that the union dues that the leadership
squanders on these campaigns would be better spent on
putting together a much stronger strike fund to
directly strengthen the union’s ability to strike and
by spending money on legitimate progressive and
pro-union candidates from the Peace and Freedom Party,
the left-wing of the Green Party, and the Labor Party.
 Such support could make a huge difference in whether
or not truly progressive and truly pro-union
candidates get elected.  

   Naturally we encourage union members with our
perspectives to challenge union leaders with status
quo perspectives and to run for union offices
themselves or find other ways to change their unions
such as through setting up organizing committees or by
switching unions.  We oppose any attempt by those
trying to organize a democratic union at bringing in
the government to clean house for them.  This is like
the fox guarding the hen house and has had a
disastrous effect on the Teamsters Union where
President Ron Carey was removed from the leadership of
the union by the federal government for leading the
successful UPS strike in 1997.   

   Obviously America’s capitalist government is not on
the side of workers and unions.  This is true of both
the Democrats and Republicans and is true on many
different levels.  Both Clinton and Bush have
intervened against workers out on strike and thus
helped the corporations that the workers were fighting
against.  Likewise across the country local police
forces, and even the National Guard, are often used
against striking workers.  Which side they are on is
made clear by whom they club, pepper spray, and
arrest.  It is the workers they brutalize.  They never
carry out these kinds of actions against the bosses or
the scabs.

   The Peace & Freedom Party understands that the
police are an armed force whose main purpose in
capitalist America is to maintain an unjust system and
defend the wealthy that run it.  As such the police
carry out the enforcement of unjust laws against the
poor, activists, workers, renters, people of color,
and anyone else who is in some way in the crosshairs
of the exploiters.  In other cases these groups are
sometimes framed as well. 

   The police in Santa Cruz routinely violate the
rights of the poor and of political activists.  Any
progressive program for the city of Santa Cruz has to
directly challenge this status quo.  The Peace and
Freedom Party points out that it is not enough to just
repeal anti-poor laws here, although that would be a
good beginning.  We also point out that drastic
changes need to be made in the police department. 
These changes would start with firing the current
Chief of police, and could also include strengthening
the Citizen’s Police Review Board to give it the
strength to hire and fire officers.

   While the police are the local military force
defending the propertied and wealthy against the
common people, the US military serves the same cause
on a world scale.  The Peace and Freedom Party stands
in opposition to both the Democrats and Republicans as
parties of war. 

   Locally Congressman Sam Farr (D) is the bomber of
Belgrade and supporter of the death squad government
of Colombia, who most recently voted for the $355
billion military appropriations that will be used to
terrorize the people of the entire world, including
Iraq.  Dianne Feinstein, Dubya Bush, Mike Honda, and
Anna Eshoo should also be exposed for their even more
direct support for war with Iraq.  The Peace and
Freedom Party seeks action so that all of these
politicians should pay a political price for their
pro-war stand.   

   There are some in the anti-war movement who want to
pressure Farr to take a more active approach in
stopping the war with Iraq.  Yet a look at Farr's
statements regarding this war shows that he is not
really opposed to war with Iraq, but instead has
tactical differences regarding the U.S. going it alone
and other lame concerns that represent an actual
interest in a more effective US imperialist war policy
the world over.  His vote for the massive military
appropriations represents this common interest Farr
has with Bush, big oil, and the arms industry.  Farr's
differences with Bush stem from his knowledge that
this war may cause massive unrest, foreign and
domestic, that may make it more difficult for the US
to carry out its evil imperialist wars and
exploitation on the people of the world.  With such
motivations there is no reason to think Farr will
mobilize and educate people against this war.  

   What does Farr have to say to the people on this
issue anyway?  Sam Farr has not spoken out against the
constant bombing of Iraq that has occurred since the
first US attack on Iraq in the early 1990s.  He has
not spoken out against the US imposed economic
sanctions that have starved about 1.5 million Iraqi
children.  Nor has Farr opposed the deadly use of
radio-active waste in the production of US weapons of
mass destruction that were used both in Yugoslavia and
on Iraq poisoning the inhabitants of those countries
as well as 100,000 "Gulf War Syndrome" US soldiers. 

   Those who want an authentic anti-war movement
should expect to have to organize it and to lead it
yourselves.  Expecting Democrats to do it is like
expecting a mule to quack like a duck. 

   In my studies of history I've seen three effective
ways to end a war.  1. Is when the soldiers refuse to
fight.  This is the way that the long and persistent
anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s finally
educated the soldiers and ended the war in Vietnam. 
2. If the working class strikes and refuses to
participate in building or shipping the armaments.  A
very effective strike that shut down Seattle
Washington during the early days of the Russian
revolution physically stopped the sending of war
supplies and helped force the US to pull its troops
out of the young Soviet Union.  3. A third way will be
through a revolution of the people.  If we succeed in
doing any of the first two types of action we may not
be too far from carrying out the third.  All three
forms of direct action will take the building of
strong organizations independent of the Democrats and
Republicans. 

   The Peace And Freedom Party supports any and all
actions that will help build the kind of consciousness
among the people that could one day make the three
kinds of effective direct action by the people
possible.  Illusions in warmongers like Sam Farr's
potential to organize an anti-war movement are an
obstacle to effective action.  Instead of talking to
Sam Farr's staff we are better off holding rallies and
distributing literature to the people.  Reaching GIs
and young people of draft or recruitment age is
critical.  The Farrs and Bushes of the world will
never be reached by our moral arguments.  Like Nixon,
however, they will notice if soldiers refuse to fight.

   With all this said, I hope that Sam Farr does
organize a town hall meeting so that those of us in
the Peace and Freedom Party can be there to urge
people to break with illusions in the twin parties of
war that rule America and to register to vote with the
Peace and Freedom Party.  The Peace and Freedom Party
is a party that has opposed every US war since it was
founded in 1967 and actively calls for the vigorous
building of an effective anti-war movement.  We
encourage people who think that this kind of thinking
makes sense to:

1.	Register with the Peace and Freedom Party, we are
now only 4,000 registrants away from getting back on
the state ballot.
 
2.	You can also come to our next meeting at the Louden
Nelson Center on Saturday December 7th at 1:30 PM.

3.	In addition we encourage people to attend the Peace
Friday demonstrations held every Friday at Ocean and
Water Streets at 5:00 PM 

   4. Build and attend the national actions that have
been set for    January in San Francisco and
Washington DC. Tens of thousands will converge in San
Francisco & Washington DC January 18, 2003 for a MASS
DEMONSTRATION and in Washington on Jan. 19 for the
Convening of the GRASSROOTS PEACE CONGRESS

5.	Post your own ideas and actions.  All power to the
people!

  Join us!  Instead of war and injustice we need a
political party that represents the needs of working
class people.  

Liberation_News-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


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