Party for Socialism and Liberation

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Party for Socialism and Liberation
LeaderCentral Committee[1]
FoundedJune 2004; 17 years ago (2004-06)[2]
Split fromWorkers World Party
Headquarters
NewspaperLiberation News
Ideology
Political positionFar-left
Colors  Red
Website
pslweb.org

The Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) is a communist party in the United States,[3] established in 2004. Its members are active in a wide range of movements including the labor, anti-war, immigrants' rights, women's rights, and anti-police brutality movements.[5][6][7][8] It has been closely tied to the ANSWER Coalition throughout its existence; PSL founder Brian Becker is ANSWER's National Coordinator.[9] Other prominent members include Gloria La Riva, Michael Prysner, and Eugene Puryear.

The PSL ran Gloria La Riva and Sunil Freeman in the 2020 United States presidential election.[10] Originally Leonard Peltier was the vice-presidential nominee, but he withdrew for health reasons.[11]

History[edit]

The PSL was formed when the San Francisco branch and several other members left the Workers World Party in June 2004, announcing that "the Workers World Party leadership is no longer capable of fulfilling [the] mission" of building socialism.[12]

Ideology[edit]

The party's goal is to lead a revolution paving the way towards socialism, under which a "new government of working people" would be formed. The PSL proposes many radical changes to be implemented by this government. In the political sphere, all elected representatives should be recallable, securing freedom of speech for the working class (except in the case of xenophobia or bigotry and to prevent re-establishment of the capitalist system) and the elimination of corporate influence through lobbying from politics. The party's program states: "Achieving fully developed socialism, a goal that has not yet been achieved anywhere, will open the way to communism and the end of class society."[13]

Anti-capitalism[edit]

The PSL describes its primary goal as the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the institution of socialism, stating:[14]

The Party for Socialism and Liberation believes that the only solution to the deepening crisis of capitalism is the socialist transformation of society. Driven by an insatiable appetite for ever greater profits regardless of social cost, capitalism is on a collision course with the people of the world and the planet itself. Imperialist war; deepening unemployment and poverty; deteriorating health care, housing and education; racism; discrimination and violence based on gender and sexual orientation; environmental destruction—all are inevitable products of the capitalist system itself. The idea that the capitalists’ grip on society and their increasingly repressive state can be abolished through any means other than a revolutionary overturn is an illusion...There are really only two choices for humanity today—an increasingly destructive capitalism, or socialism.

Economics[edit]

The PSL would, among other measures, prohibit the exploitation of labor for private profit, implement a working week of 30 hours, introduce of a basic income guarantee, ensure paid parental and family leave for up to two years, provide paid sick and disability leave, require a minimum of one month’s paid vacation, institute single payer health insurance, outlaw renting and selling land, provide free college, and eliminate fossil fuels and nuclear energy.[13]

Decolonization[edit]

The PSL would grant the right of self-determination to what it considers oppressed nations of the United States, including "African Americans, Native, Puerto Rican and other Latino national minorities, the Hawaiian nation, Asian, Pacific Islander, Arab, and other oppressed peoples who have experienced oppression as a whole people under capitalism".[13] It would grant independence to Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands and the Mariana Islands, which it considers colonies.

Foreign policy[edit]

In the Leninist tradition,[15] the PSL supports the right of nations to self-determination. It has been outspoken in condemning Israel and its role in the Middle East. The PSL led demonstrations against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in July 2006 and supports the right of return for Palestinians.[16] The PSL voiced solidarity with Nepal upon the overthrow of the monarchy and the election of Pushpa Kamal Dahal in 2008.[17]

The PSL generally views other self-described socialist countries favorably. It supports Cuba and mourned the death of its former President Fidel Castro;[18] additionally, it has endorsed activities that called for the release of the Cuban Five—deemed political prisoners by supporters—and called for the extradition of anti-Castro terrorist Luis Posada Carriles from the United States.[19] It supports the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. Historically, it has described the Soviet Union positively, saying that the October Revolution was "the single biggest event that shaped global politics in the 20th century".[20] However, it believes that the New Economic Policy of Vladimir Lenin "led to a re-polarization of social classes, especially in the countryside".[20] The PSL blames the reforms initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev for the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[20] The PSL supports Syria's Bashar al-Assad, who the PSL views as being against U.S. interest.[21]

While the PSL has at times been critical of the Chinese government, particularly for failing to uphold certain communist ideals like the abolition of private property,[22] it views the Chinese Revolution favorably,[23] argues that the Communist Party of China has made important contributions to socialism and anti-imperialism, and argues that, despite its flaws, a "militant political defense of the Chinese government" is necessary to stave off "counterrevolution, imperialist intervention and dismemberment".[22][24] The PSL has generally defended China's human rights records, denying, for instance, the premise that the Chinese military massacred student protestors in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests[25] and that China maintains a system of internment camps in Xinjiang.[26] The PSL supports China's policies towards Tibet[27] and opposed the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests, calling them "chauvinist", "separatist", and "anti-China".[28][26]

The stance of the PSL on North Korea is that the country is often unfairly targeted and that the goal of the United States is regime change. The PSL advocates a significant overhaul of US foreign policy towards North Korea, including the lifting of sanctions on North Korea, the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea, and the signing of a peace treaty.[29][30][31] The PSL is supportive of North Korea's nuclear weapons program;[32][33] in the PSL's official newspaper, for instance, Stephan Gowans argued that a North Korean nuclear arsenal is "to be welcomed by anyone who opposes imperialist military interventions; supports the right of a people to organize its affairs free from foreign domination; and has an interest in the survival of one of the few top-to-bottom, actually-existing, alternatives to the global capitalist system of oppression, exploitation and foreign domination".[34] PSL has also spoken favorably on North Korea's human rights record,[35][36] which many have considered to be one of the worst in the world,[37][38][39] arguing that "conditions in North Korea are vastly better than those in other developing countries" and stating that condemnations of North Korea's human rights records are "thinly veiled justification[s] for U.S. aggression toward North Korea".[36]

The PSL opposes the American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War, arguing that the United States' goal is "the projection of permanent imperial power and domination in a region that contains two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves".[40][41] It has generally been supportive of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian military efforts in Syria,[42][43][41] and denies the conclusion of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)[44] and other international organizations[45][46] that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, which are banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.[47][42]

The PSL has been critical of certain intergovernmental organizations, particularly international economic institutions like the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Its official newspaper published an article stating that the "WTO is one of many institutions, like the G8, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, that undermine the sovereignty of nations by forcing the implementation of disastrous neoliberal economic policies of privatization, liberalization and deregulation".[48] It has further argued that "the IMF works on behalf of multinational corporations, finding natural resources, sweatshop laborers, and consumers for Western capitalism’s surplus production" and has called the G20 an "instrument of capitalist plunder".[49][50] It has also called the International Criminal Court a "fake court that has been used as a tool by the imperialists against those resisting imperialist aggression".[30]

Anti-war[edit]

The PSL co-operates with other organizations across the United States in the anti-war movement[51] and is a member of the steering committee of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition (A.N.S.W.E.R.). As one of the most active members of the coalition, the PSL has gained notice for successfully forging ties with Arab and Muslim American groups such as the Muslim American Society, Al-Awda and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.[52] The PSL advocates for the end of the United States military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and the closure of all United States foreign military bases.[53]

Criminal justice[edit]

A PSL supporter protesting against the 2021 killing of Ma'Khia Bryant

The PSL advocates "the overthrow, dismantling and complete replacement" of the "police, prisons, military and courts" of the United States.[54] It supports replacing the current legal system of the United States with a "new justice system based on the democratic organization of the working class and its right to defend its class interests on the basis of solidarity and unity" and advocates reorganizing the prison system around "social education and rehabilitation".[13]

Arrest of Denver PSL organizers[edit]

Following a wake of protests in the summer of 2020 against the death of Elijah McClain, the Aurora Police Department arrested organizers involved with the Party for Socialism and Liberation and other local groups on charges ranging from inciting a riot to kidnapping.[55] This was in response to a protest on July 3 where the Aurora police precinct was surrounded by protesters calling for the officers responsible for McClain's death to be fired and charged. On September 17, three party members, Joel Northam, Lillian House, Eliza Lucero, and another community activist, Terrance Roberts, were arrested. Northam was arrested with the aid of a SWAT team and armored vehicle, while Roberts was apprehended while on a jog. Others were arrested at home or at work, and for eight days, were held in conditions what attorney Amelia Power termed to be "solitary confinement." They reported being locked in their cells with multiple other inmates at the same time that there was a COVID outbreak in the facility, and were only given one mask each for the duration of their confinement.[56] House, Lucero, and Northam faced up to 48 years in prison.[57] [58]

Both the party and media have designated their arrests as an act of "retribution."[59] In a livestream, party leadership condemned the arrests, saying

"As we sit here talking about activists who are standing up for justice, being jailed, having massive charges dropped on top of them criminalizing protest – these three officers who MURDERED Elijah McClain, still walk free...It’s easy to see why police directly involved and the police department would try to save themselves and save those cops from jail by keeping charges on those highly visible leaders in the movement. That is a common practice in police departments…It’s intended to intimidate not only our members who were arrested but the national movement which has risen up in the most sustained struggle ever seen in this country."[60]

After their appearance in court on March 26, 2021, an Adams county judge dropped the kidnapping charges, but the organizers were still being perused for numerous other felonies and misdemeanors for over five more months.[58] It wasn't until September 13th, 2021 that all charges were finally dropped. "[On September 1st] the Colorado Attorney General also announced a 32-count indictment against the police and paramedics who murdered Elijah McClain" - realizing the demands that they had been fighting for. [61]

Publications[edit]

The party's main publication is the website and monthly paper Liberation News,[62] which replaced a quarterly magazine, Socialism and Liberation.[63] The PSL also publishes Breaking the Chains: A Socialist Perspective on Women's Liberation, a quarterly socialist and feminist magazine,[64] and Reds In Ed, a monthly newsletter initiated by teachers who are members of the PSL.[65] Additionally, the PSL publishes Liberation School, which publishes longer-form analysis, Party documents, interviews, and educational resources including study guides, curricula, and video and audio courses.[66]

The PSL outlines its political perspective, including its assessment of the current international and domestic situation, in the pamphlet Who We Are, What We Stand For.[67] The party also owns its own printing company, PSL Publications, through which it has published multiple printed books such as Socialists and War: Two Opposing Trends by members Mazda Majidi and Brian Becker[68] and an e-book which was released through Amazon titled A Woman's Place Is in the Struggle by members Ana Maria Ramirez, Anne Gamboni, Gloria La Riva and Liz Lowengard.[69] The PSL's publication company, Liberation Media, is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Election results[edit]

Presidential elections[edit]

Year Candidate(s) Popular votes Percentage Electoral votes Ballot access
2008 6,818[70] 0.01% 0
137 / 538
2012
7,791[71] 0.01% 0
146 / 538
2016 74,027[72] 0.05% 0
112 / 538
2020
86,239[73] 0.05% 0
191 / 538

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Replacing Leonard Peltier, who remained on the ballot in Minnesota and Illinois.

References[edit]

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  10. ^ Winger, Richard (August 2, 2020). "Party for Socialism & Liberation Alters its Vice-Presidential Nominee". Ballot Access News. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  11. ^ Admin, About the author Psl. "Leonard Peltier regretfully withdraws as vice-presidential candidate". La Riva 2020.
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  38. ^ "VII. Conclusions and Recommendations". Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. February 17, 2014. p. 365. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
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  40. ^ "ANSWER statement against the U.S. bombing of Syria". Liberation News. 23 September 2014.
  41. ^ a b Majidi, Mazda (28 March 2016). "Will the U.S. abandon 'Assad must go'?". Liberation News.
  42. ^ a b "Confronting the impending war danger against Syria [PSL Statement]". Liberation News. 10 April 2018.
  43. ^ Syrian Communist Party (14 December 2016). "Syrian Communist Party (Unified): Syria facing "barbarous imperialist aggression"". Liberation News.
  44. ^ Hansler, Jennifer (8 April 2020). "Report finds Syrian government forces responsible for 2017 chemical attacks". CNN.
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  56. ^ Kaplan, Noah (10 November 2020). "The Election May Be Over, but Their Fight Has Just Begun". westword.com. Denver Westword. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
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  58. ^ a b Ricciardi, Tiney (25 March 2021). "Judge throws out attempted-kidnapping charges against Aurora protest leaders". denverpost.com. The Denver Post. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
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  68. ^ "Socialists and war: two opposing trends".
  69. ^ Ramirez, Ana Maria; Gamboni, Anne; Riva, Gloria La; Lowengard, Liz; Lindsay, Peta (March 4, 2013). "A Woman's Place Is in the Struggle". PSL Publications. Retrieved August 15, 2017 – via Amazon.
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External links[edit]