Reform, Revolution, and Abolition: Historical Reflections

The Paris Commune

By Rodney Green

This talk was given at the Abolitions Conference of the University of California Washington Center, May 6-8, 2023. Recorded sessions can be accessed at

The fight against state repressive institutions has a long history. Central to this history is strategic conflict between reform and revolution. Can change can come from reforming the system (working from within) or does it require a revolution that destroys the state and bring to political power the exploited and oppressed?

Today’s “abolition” initiatives share this conflict. Most participants in today’s abolitionist movements are deeply skeptical of racism, capitalism, and imperialism. All of us in these various movements have faced enormous frustrations in trying to bring about systemic change.

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Today’s Labor Movement Needs a Revolutionary Outlook

by Patricia Conner

This talk was given at the Abolitions Conference of the University of California Washington Center, May 6-8, 2023. Recorded sessions can be accessed at

As a Metro transit worker in DC and a member of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 representing over 10,000 bus operators, train operators, mechanics, custodians, landscapers of Metro, and hundreds of paratransit workers, I wanted to share thoughts about building a revolutionary movement in my workplace. I was a shop steward and executive board member at my bus garage for six years and am a member of the Progressive Labor Party, a revolutionary communist organization. I want to share the frustration that we workers have had in trying to abolish the various forms of racism, sexism, and exploitation in our industry. The system we face is rigged against us at every turn. That is why we communists try to build among our fellow workers an understanding of the need to go beyond trying to abolish the various travesties inflicted on us by the bosses, and try to build a revolutionary party that can both strengthen the labor movement in its day to day work while simultaneously creating the movement and institutions to overthrow the entire capitalist system. For me, abolishing capitalism means building a communist world of equality and collectivity.

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Ukraine’s Zelensky Sends Love Letter to US Corporations, Promising ‘Big Business’ for Wall Street

By Ben Norton

Reprinted from Scheerpost, January 27, 2023

Editor’s comments: This article clearly delineates Western-backed Ukraine’s dedication to repressive capitalism, on top of the wholesale corruption that has long characterized the country. A Western victory would also add on austerity and anti-worker policies dictated by the IMF. Ukrainian workers have nothing to gain from this war which only offers a choice between competing imperialist exploiters. Ukrainian, Russian, indeed all soldiers and workers need to fight for an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist society.

Ukraine’s Western-backed leader Volodymyr Zelensky sent a love letter to US companies, thanking “such giants of the international financial and investment world as BlackRock, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs” for buying up his country’s assets. “Everyone can become a big business by working with Ukraine”, he enticed, claiming that the reconstruction of his nation “will be the largest economic project of our time in Europe” ( Zelensky likewise praised the Starlink company of billionaire Elon Musk for its technological support, and he called for more Western weapons shipments, including Patriot missiles and Abram tanks.

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US Capitalists Supported Nazis to Stop Communism and Earn Millions

By an antiracist educator, 5-9-2023

(This article adds more examples of US collaboration with the Nazis to those cited in Fighting Fascism,

The book, Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler (2002) by Anthony C. Sutton, documents the collaboration of US industrialists and bankers who bankrolled Germany from the 1920’s through the post-WWI period and then proceeded to assist the Nazis re-arm themselves and prepare for WWII, despite the specific prohibition against re-armament in the Versailles Treaty ending WWI in 1919. The US government did not officially support Hitler and declared war on Germany in December 1941.  However, a large number of Wall Street bankers and industrialists did support Hitler in ways that were critical to Germany’s ability to prosecute the war:

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Fighting Fascism: from the Past to the Future

by Karyn Pomerantz, 4-24-2023

This blog article offers a definition and description of the signs of fascism, how it developed in several countries in the 1930s and 1940s, the ways people fought back, and the lessons they teach us. We will explore the Popular Front and anarchist responses compared to a revolutionary strategy.

What is Fascism?  Is the US a Fascist State?

Fascism is a stage of capitalism run by the same class of people as under “democratic” (liberal) capitalism.  It is not a new or different system. It develops when the ruling class cannot govern as “usual” and requires brute force to control workers to accomplish its goals  (

People often believe that fascism requires politicians like Trump or DeSantis who spread a vicious discourse on racism and inspire white nationalists. Fears that either may gain the presidency have pushed liberal voters into the Democratic Party camp or into total despair and inaction.

However, fascism serves the interests of the same political and economic ruling class as under liberal democrats. It is easier for this class to keep its power peacefully by convincing workers to accept oppression rather than resorting to a more violent, disruptive fascist agenda.

Liberal democrats like Biden and former Democratic Party administrations give lip service to democracy in many countries. When US corporations need to steal resources, markets, and cheap labor overseas, the government will install fascist regimes, such as in Chile, Argentina, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

While their practices have elements of fascism, such as breaking strikes and deporting people, they do not signify that we have a fascist form of capitalism. If a liberal government can rule and milk the working class without sparking massive disruption, there is no need to use extreme force and repression to govern.

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Palestinians Don’t Exist?

by Ellen Isaacs

March 22, 2023

“Palestinians don’t exist.” (  This was the recent statement by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich that made shocked headlines around the world. And, of course, he meant it as an affirmation of Jewish nationalism, the right of Israeli Jews to dispose of all Palestinians from the Jordan to the Sea. Sounds kind of like the Nazis, no?

But in a perverted way he was right (forgive me, read on). People exist, all people exist, but there are huge divisions between us. In this universally capitalist world, the divisions that truly describe our station in life and the power to control our lives depend not on our ethnicity but on our class, workers versus bosses and their henchmen. Workers exist in every nation, as do capitalist power holders, and in every nation workers are exploited for their labor and used as soldiers to fight the workers of other nations as capitalists compete for wealth and resources. The alternative is for workers of all nations to recognize our commonality, unite and build a new worldwide society, based on our own interests. In that world there will be no nations, no racism, no sexism, and no exploitation for profit. International workers exist!

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Disgrace at the New York Times

by Ellen Isaacs


The New York Times, that paper in which one can reliably find the agenda of the liberal wing of the US ruling class, is sounding increasingly absurd lately. There was the editorial page piece claiming the masks had been proven to useless in preventing the spread of viral infections (NYT 2/21/23). That generated so much pushback that they had to publish a much longer op-ed which thoroughly refuted it (NYT 3/10/23). Then, after Seymour Hersh wrote an extremely convincing article coming close to proving that the US had blown up the Nord Stream pipeline (, there was a front page Times article postulating that non-governmental Ukrainians were the perpetrators.

“New intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggests that a pro-Ukrainian group carried out the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last year…the operation might have been conducted off the books by a proxy force with connections to the Ukrainian government or its security services… with the help of experienced divers who did not appear to be working for military or intelligence services.”(NYT 3/7/23)

Sounds highly unlikely.

Well recently (3/19/23), two thirds of a page in the editorial section is devoted to an article called America Is in a Disgraced Class of Its Own, by Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond. It’s all about poverty – and it doesn’t even mention capitalism. That’s not really so far from the Times’ usual practice, but the sophisticated author tries to blame all those who are not poor for the problem. He is liberal enough not to blame the poor themselves, acknowledging that the poor have “faced more obstacles in life.” However, the next sentence says “many of us help to create and uphold those obstacles through the collective moral failing of enriching ourselves by impoverishing others.” Us includes all those who earn a decent living and can afford a home, food, and have health care, lumped right in with the captains of industry.

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From Turkey to NYC:

This Is What Capitalist Disasters Look Like – This Is What Fight Back Looks Like

By Karyn Pomerantz, 2-16-2023

Earthquake in Turkey

The world is aflame, from the blazing bombs in wars to the fiery heat of global warming. The drivers of empire use our bodies as cannon fodder in Ukraine and Russia and extract our minerals out of the ground in Congo and our bodies from earthquakes.

The huge earthquakes in Turkey and Syria killed over 40,000 by today’s count (2-16-2023). We may say, “well, that’s nature, there’s nothing we can do about that.” But that would be wrong.

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Let’s Not Choose Among Imperialists- Workers and Soldiers Must End Ukraine War

by Ellen Isaacs

February 3, 2023

Sympathy and help for Ukrainians is everywhere. Blue and yellow flags flying, refugees being welcomed, marches held, monies sent, applause for armaments. What if Russia had invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo, for control of cobalt, coltan and gold let’s say? Do you think Americans and Western Europeans would be sending aid and arms and welcoming African refugees? Have we seen

  • Mass support for Yemeni civilians suffering the “worst humanitarian crisis” on the planet, according to the UN, while the US armed Saudi aggressors?
  • Aid for Haitians lost in a morass of poverty and gang violence after years of US exploitation and manipulation of elections?
  • Mass aid for Gazans living without enough food or water as thousands are killed by US ally Israel?

And the list goes on – Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan – many countries that the US has invaded or supported one side in a proxy war causing death, injury and hardship to millions. Where were Ukraine’s supporters when safe passage to Poland was denied to African exchange students? Could racism possibly be at play?

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Israel: More Right and Too Little left

by Ellen Isaacs

January 19, 2023

There is much consternation about Israel’s move sharply rightward under Netanyahu’s new government, but it is really just a move to more overt fascism, by which is meant rule by force without any pretense of democracy or respect for human rights. The change is really minimal as Israel has created a society of inequality, racial and gender discrimination and has unleashed terror upon Palestinians since its founding in 1948. This article will discuss some of the ways in which these conditions are manifest and how any substantive change will demand unity between Arab and Jewish workers within all of historic Palestine and most likely with workers of the world. Unity not only to struggle together but to build a non-racist, non-exploitative society beyond capitalism.

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