‘Capitalism is killing us’, U.S. Social Forum meets in Detroit June 22-26

By Bryan G. Pfeifer

Momentum is growing internationally for the United States Social Forum to be held June 22-26 in Detroit. Tens of thousands of progressive activists are expected to attend.

According to the USSF website, the days-long event is a movement-building process. “It is not a conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is [an] important step in our struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history.” (www.ussf2010.org)

Adele Nieves, communications coordinator for the USSF, stated that over 1,000 workshops are scheduled and numerous demonstrations are being planned. Cultural contributions will be a central focus, with artists such as Dead Prez scheduled to perform. There will also be a tent city, tables for literature, grassroots food vendors, people’s movement assemblies and much more, including various art venues where progressive and revolutionary artists such as Antonio Guerrero of the Cuban Five will have their work displayed. The opening march on June 22 will have organizational contingents from all over the world.

The USSF grew out of the World Social Forum; the first USSF was held in Atlanta in 2007. Detroit was chosen as the site for the 2010 USSF because it is considered ground zero of the current capitalist economic crisis with record levels of foreclosures, evictions, utility shutoffs, unemployment and police terror. Detroit also has a long history of progressive and revolutionary struggle, which the organizations participating in the USSF are intent on building on to bring a better world into birth.

A wide range of labor-focused groups, including unions, coalitions, federations and workers’ centers such as the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, the Restaurant Opportunities Center, AFSCME Council 25, UAW Region 1A and South Eastern Michigan Jobs With Justice, have been working for months to build labor’s presence at the USSF. Approximately 70 labor-themed workshops on a wide variety of topics will be held, and labor will have a large presence at the opening march on June 22.

Focus on struggle, solidarity

“It’s impressive how many unions have picked up on the activities at the USSF. Because of the economic and social crisis we’re in it’s important that labor step up and fight back. Being part of mass movements is a better strategy for labor than simply relying on politicians. Right now jobs and unemployment are critical to what’s going on and will be a major focus of labor at the USSF. Labor needs to push hard on elected officials to create more jobs,” said Reggie McGhee, USSF Detroit Labor Committee co-chair.

The Labor Committee will be joining the USSF’s Faith and Spirituality Committee and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs for a protest at Chase Bank on June 25 in downtown Detroit. Chase is being targeted for its funding of R.J. Reynolds through loans and other means. Reynolds is currently waging war on the Farm Labor Organizing Committee because of its attempt to unionize tobacco workers in North Carolina. Another focus of the Chase protest is to demand that the bank agree to a two-year moratorium on all mortgage foreclosures.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice and the Bail Out the People Movement are also sponsoring fightback workshops during the USSF.

Youth and students are a central component of the USSF and many of their organizations will be participating. One such group is the revolutionary, socialist-oriented Fight Imperialism, Stand Together or FIST. (See fistyouth.wordpress.com.)

“FIST will be co-hosting a workshop along with the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal on building a new youth organization in defense of Mumia. An entire decade of youth has grown up without mass consciousness about the implications of Mumia’s case, and we are organizing to counteract that and expose the roots of racism, the role of the police, police brutality and repression of groups fighting for national liberation,” Dante Strobino, a FIST leader from North Carolina, told Workers World.

FIST will also be working with many of the organizers who planned the successful March 4 National Day of Action to Defend Public Education to host a workshop for another national day of action to be held tentatively on Oct. 7 and to intensify student resistance to budget cuts and the capitalist crisis.

Raising the banner of socialism

Added Strobino: “We see the USSF as a crucial moment to meet young people in motion and introduce them to socialism and to raise fundamental questions that challenge the entire foundation of our current capitalist system that has wrecked so many people’s lives. Detroit is the perfect place to do that with the destructive nature of capitalism exposed before everyone’s eyes: abandoned factories and mass unemployment, empty lots and no grocery stores near many neighborhoods while people starve, vacant and foreclosed homes while people are living in the streets, schools being closed and underfunded as students struggle to get a quality education. All these contradictions provide a ripe situation and point to socialism as the real way forward.”

Workers World Party will also be conducting a workshop and joining in demonstrations at the USSF.

“Workers World Party will be sharing the expertise of our members from around the country in fighting foreclosures, budget cuts, racism and war, and urging others to join us in the fight for a socialist future, which is the only solution to all the deep problems we face. Everyone knows that capitalism is killing us. We need to unite the working class and oppressed to overthrow it and replace it with a system that’s about people’s needs, not profits for the rich,” said Kris Hamel of WWP’s Detroit branch.

Detroit FIST, MECAWI, Moratorium NOW! and Workers World Party will have an open office for activists June 21-26 at 5920 Second Avenue in Detroit from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. USSF participants are invited to drop by for an evening coffee house, political discussion, cultural events and more. Visit http://www.moratorium-mi.org or call 313-887-4344.

For more information on the USSF, go to http://www.ussf2010.org or call toll free: 1-877-515-8773.




    Capitalism was founded upon basic principles: production, supply and demand, and capital accumulation. It is a social theory whereby prices are determined by profit and loss, as well as market interest and fluctuations.

    Although I understand the need for a free market enterprise, such a theory should not imply that we are willing to disregard our environment, or sacrifice the needs and comforts of our humanity in an attempt to realize higher profits (a.k.a., BP, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, etc).

    Capitalism may be wonderful, but like anything else, it is still a flawed system. It’s a work in progress. It needs to be tweaked here and there in order to perfect its balance and to soothe the inordinate swings that occur day-to-day in our financial markets. If left unchecked, however, such a system will prove to be our economic downfall.

    How so?

    Well, for one thing, there is only so much profit a business can make from a product before it is left to cut costs in both quality and workmanship. In order to continually sustain a profit, businesses have to create those same products with lower quality ingredients and cheaper labor: which means that they must pull up stakes and move to other countries like China, Taiwan, or Mexico in order to survive. What does this eventually mean for people like you and me? It means that the very financial theory that promoted our country to super power status has turned on us. It means that the American workforce is now expected to work harder, longer, cheaper, and faster if we are to compete with the global economy now breathing down our necks.

    Where do we go from here?

    George Orwell had it right, to some extent, when he wrote his book1984. Many years from now, money will become worthless and the global populace will be employed and subject to hundreds (if not thousands) of individualized corporations that managed to survive attrition through merger aquisitions. It will be a feudalistic society: every corporation out for blood and vying for global dominance and absolute power. Our children and grandchildren will be there too: housed, clothed and fed by these various corporate entities; all the while being sent out on occasion, like brainless automatons, to errands of war, in an effort to absorb the weakest corporations into the fold. After all the dust settles, and everything is said and done, the remaining corporations will finally merge into a one-world government.

    Science fiction, you say?

    (…I’m left wondering.)

    • I don’t think its the evolution of capitalism. It’s the gradual destruction of the real capitalism set up so brilliantly by our nation’s Founders. Things started going downhill with Woodrow Wilson, who was on a mission to greatly expand the size of government. Under him, the 17th Amendment was created because he knew taking the power of each states’ representatives to choose our National Senatores and Representatives would lead to states becoming less and less important. As states become less and less important, people rely more and more on the Federal Government for handouts and to be the one to solve problems. States have so much less say than they used to thanks to Wilson and the progressivism that has crept into nation since then. In Louisiana they couldn’t even implement their ideas to stop the oil from hitting their shore, because they were waiting on the Federal Government to give permission— there was no reply and now look at their beaches and wildlife.
      Things changed where America no longer had real capitalism, but had a mixture of socialism and big government and free market capitalism. And now everyone blames capitalism and has these demonstrations like they are having in Detroit. They under such a delusion. Open your eyes. It’s not capitalisms fault. Of course nothing is ever perfect, but if hadn’t been watered down things sure would be a lot better in this country. We wouldn’t spend our way into a bottomless pit of debt. People would be more self sufficient. We’d help one another with our own charity instead of relying on government charity like unemployment benefits, Social Security, the new catastrophic health care bill that barefly if at all includes any of the promises campaigned upon. And when government gives all the “charity” and we only contribute through our taxes, it synicizes us. “Oh, I don’t need to give to that charity” or spend my time helping people because that’s what government is for. Problem is, government is never as efficient as direct help and charity from one American to another. The way things our now, our morality and personal charity just slips away. We become lazy instead of entrepreneurial. Plus with all the regulations and taxes on starting your own business, it makes it impossible to start up businesses. And if you do start one you have to produce overseas or its too expensive. So regulation and socialism is helping the big companies and corporations.It’s also favors big farms so now we have all this crappy food with cancerous pesticides and GM foods that are shown to kill rats and give them stomach ulcers. And the government enables them. They take their politial contributions and let them go on killing us.

      THAT IS WHY OUR COUNTRY IS WHERE IT IS NOW. BIG GOVERNMENT. The New Deal was a catastrophe, no matter what any propogandist text book says.FDR’s best friend who helped him implement the New Deal recognized it was a catastrophe. Socialism leads to even bigger government and doesn’t historically end in sunshine and lollipops for all workers. It leads to power and money in the hands of elite government officials.
      Sure, under capitalism there does arise big corporations. And they have lots of power too. But did you notice they often support big government and get good deals anyway? You didn’t see healh insurance companies for pharmaceutical companies mad about the new Health Care Bill– oh no. They like Obamas “socialist mop.” They cut deals with their lobbyists and get preferential treatment with this bill anyway. Now it turns out that the health care plan is unsustainable and cost billions more than they thought it would. Guess we’ll print more monopoly money.

      And look at the socialist views of Hitler and the Nazis. Does that not scare you. Obviously Obama and our Admiinistration wouldn’t advocate what HItler and the Nazis did, but does Hitler’s association with Socialism not scare you and give a hint to how things could become in the future. Goebbels learned all of his propaganda techniques for the Nazis from Woodrow Wilson and all crazy propoganda for his Progressive changes.

      The political and corporate elite (like GE) as well as the powerful unions like SEIU are in it together and they use socialism as a guise that they are helping the poor while all the while they are amassing their own power to oppress. What do you think they were doing at the secretive Bilderberger conference. They do want global control. Things are getting scary.

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