Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Duluth Forum next Saturday... January 11

A quick reminder that the Forum on "Building Progressive Political Power . . . " will be next Saturday,
January 11, 2014 at the Copper Top Church in Duluth, Minnesota.

Focus:  The basic question — the basic challenge — for us is to determine
             if we, from various persuasions on the progressive Left, can come together
             to organize around "issues" rather than "ideology" or "party" — as a way of building
             political power, influence, and credibility in the minds of the broader public.

Issues:  For starters, we're proposing to explore organizing around the following issues:
             1) a livable ("minimum") wage; 2) single payer health care; and 3) the indigenous
             and environmental communities' concerns about environmental protection, including
             sulfide mining, species extinction, and climate change.

Goals:     To collectively figure out . . .

             1.  how we, as progressives, can increase  our political power and influence
                 in Minnesota — by working within and/or outside the DFL.    All creative options
                 must be on the table.

             2.  how we can use "kitchen table," "lunch bucket," and "environmental sanity" issues
                  to recruit, organize, lobby, and achieve the legislation and policy decisions we need
                  for meeting the needs of Minnesotans and its environment.

             3.  how we can maintain momentum for pushing forth — for the long term.
Basics:  Saturday, January 11th, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00-ish.
             Please arrive early (10:30 - 10:50).  We hope to start on time.

             It'll be long day; jam-packed with short presentations.
             Coffee/tea/water and snacks will be available.
             Bring a bag lunch if you like.  The setting will be informal.
             Whole group deliberations also. 
             See latest revised schedule below.

Rules:    The agenda provides for the presentation of a wide array of ideas and opinion.

              Speakers are asked to respect their time limits (15 minutes).  Audience members need to
              be brief in their comments (2-3 minutes) so that we can accommodate the input of as many
              participants as possible..

              Presentations and discussion promise to be passionate and provocative. 
              Critical analysis and critique of ideas, policies, and programs are welcomed.
              Personal put-downs, insinuations, or innuendoes will be declared out of bounds.
              All discussion needs to be civil.

              Rev. Cathy Schuyler and Vern Simula will serve as co-facilitators. 

              Collectively, let's make this an enjoyable, profitable, and memorable day!

This is still a tentative agenda, open to some slight modifications to accommodate last minute scheduling changes.

11:00      Welcome/Opening/Overview   
11:15      Overview
11:30      Livable (minimum) Wage
12::00     Whole Forum Discussion

12:30      ====  BREAK  - 15 minutes    =====

12:45     Universal Single Payer Health Care for Minnesota       
1:15      Indigenous and Environmental Issues

2:45     ===== BREAK ================

3:00      How Do We Organize in Minnesota??            
4:30+    Closing

A book recommendation...

I would encourage workers to read the book: "Rebellion in the Unions, A Handbook for Rank and File Action" by George Morris... written back in the 1970's but still one of the best books on the topic around.
You can find this book very cheap on the internet.

Should Socialists and Communists engage in electoral struggles?

The election of a socialist to public office in this country is treated as some kind of novelty by both the mainstream media and most of the alternative and even left media; why?

This was my response to an article on a left wing web page and note I attached to it in an e-mail I sent out. A lot of people are being subjected to the lie that Socialists and Communists do not remain true once elected to public office in capitalist governments:

Socialists and Communists can, and more often than not, often do, "keep true" once elected to public office.

This has been proven time, and time, again. Examples are the socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, the most successful third party ever here in the United States. Even as Socialists and Communists were fighting tooth and nail at the national level, here in Minnesota they had the good common sense to figure out that if they worked together they could accomplish a great deal.

In more recent years there was the tremendous success of the Howard Pawley led socialist New Democratic Party majority government in Manitoba, Canada.

Fortunately, former New Democratic Party Premier Howard Pawley has written an excellent, honest, thought-provoking and informative book about his life in politics, "Keep True," which should be required reading for anyone involved in electoral politics. We have a great deal to learn about politics and the class struggle from our northern neighbors. We also have a great deal to learn from our own history which includes the incredible history of the socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party.

If for no other reason, both the Pawley led NDP and the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party should be studied for the honest government that was delivered to the people of Manitoba and Minnesota. In addition to delivering honest and ethical governance with maximum citizen participation in the decision-making, both of these governments delivered huge reforms improving the lives of working people--- not to mention striking major blows against racist discrimination.

Many, many working class and progressive/left activists who become engaged in electoral struggles do remain true.

That there are also some who betray our struggles is just life--- no reason for us not to engage in electoral struggles as we fight in the streets, in our schools, our communities and places of employment for peace, social and economic justice.

We have seen and experienced first hand the betrayal of those on the left supporting Wall Street's imperialist warmonger--- Barack Obama. This has sown deep divisions in the progressive, left and working class movements which is proving to be a real challenge to overcome; but, this is the problem of our times, not whether or not we should be engaged in electoral struggles.


Note: I could have cited an untold number of Socialists and Communists who have run for public office--- and many who have won--- in both the United States and Canada to prove that most Socialists and Communists "keep true" once elected. I find, more often than not, that those who raise these questions about "if" we should be engaged in electoral activity, at least in some way, are just a tad dishonest since they are not providing a true picture of the electoral struggles in Canada and the United States. I could have provided the examples of Joe Zuken and Jacob Penner in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada or the long history of Coleman Young's election to public office. I think Jacob Penner may still be the holder of the record for the longest serving elected public official of any political party in North America--- Penner was continually elected and re-elected as the Communist Party of Manitoba-Canada's candidate. It is no secret to anyone that Coleman Young rose, not from the ranks of working class struggle--- but with the ranks of working class activists to become a state legislator and then Mayor of Detroit all the while carrying a Communist Party membership card.

There is nothing strange, nor unique, about Socialists and Communists being elected to public office here in the United States or Canada.

In fact,  had it not been for the decades of never-ending severe governmental repression brought on by Republican Joe McCarthy and Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey (the primary author of the vicious, undemocratic and fascist-like Communist Control Act), it can very reasonably be assumed we would have Socialists and Communists occupying many seats of political power in this country today. It is not our electoral system, as corrupt as it is, which prevents Socialists and Communists from being elected in large numbers today--- it is the failure of the left to defy government repression and intimidation which includes lies, smears and slanders from the corporate mass media.

Just a few months ago I met with a group of people in the Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to discuss creating a campaign for a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity. Zeidler and his Socialist Party have played a dominant role in Milwaukee politics for the better part of the 20th Century. No one wants to talk about this; why not?

Why is it that one can go into almost any school on Minnesota's Mesabi Iron Range and no one, including the history teachers, knows who John Bernard was? A Communist Congressman from the small mining community of Eveleth elected by the workers from the Iron Range on the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party ticket.

It is one thing to disagree with Socialists and Communists--- this is everyone's right in a democracy; however, it is quite another thing for these cowards who don't even dare to debate Socialists and Communists in the public square, to use the apparatus of government and the media to restrict the participation of Socialists and Communists in the political process and then go on to boast to the rest of the world that the United States is the world's greatest bastion of democracy.

I would also point out one very simple, basic and fundamental fact:

Unless Socialists and Communists lead the way in challenging Wall Street for political and economic power--- no such challenge will ever be made... think about that. 

To think that issues like peace, full employment, a living wage Minimum Wage, anti-scab and anti-lockout or the repeal of "At-Will Employment" legislation will even be discussed without bringing forward Socialist and Communist candidates for public office is very naive thinking.