Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gus Hall and public ownership

Honorable Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota--- Mayor Chris Coleman,

I had a chance to hear of your warm and glowing remarks you made about Gus Hall, the former head of the Communist Party USA, at a recent forum where you articulated your accomplishments and laid out your goals for the City of St. Paul. I am attaching below something that Gus Hall wrote that you might consider reproducing to be passed out at your future events. If you would like, I could send you a photo of Gus Hall to put on the handout.

As you are most likely aware, the Minneapolis Library has a chair designated in memoriam to Gus Hall, along with many other Minnesotans of distinction; this chair is located in the beautiful auditorium... perhaps you have had the opportunity to sit in this chair as you contemplate the many problems facing St. Paul as the economic bubble reaches its limit of expansion, and gets ready to burst like a bomb dropped on a neighborhood in Iraq.

I am so sorry to hear you have given up so quickly on your brief struggle to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the two-thousand jobs of working people employed at this Plant.

Actually, your “fight to save the Ford Plant,” as you describe your efforts, was so quiet I never even noticed a ruckus or brawl of any sort. I am saddened to hear that your brief battle with the Ford Motor Company has left you so disillusioned and beaten down that you are not up to fulfilling the expectations of the people of St. Paul, Ford workers and Minnesotans who are eager to see this plant--- and two-thousand jobs--- saved; especially after so much public subsidy of this operation over the years.

The people at the Ramsey County Historical Society like to remind me to mention, on occasion, the need to bring the Ford Dam under public ownership. Gus Hall would have appreciated the painstaking research and the collective effort of researching this Dam from its inception to the present.

Congressman James Oberstar already gave away the Big Bog to a Canadian peat mining company; it would be a disgrace to give away the Ford Dam to another Canadian corporation, eh?

I notice in your report you mention how many new jobs you and your colleagues are responsible for creating… I would like to point out a little omission in your report--- no big deal really; but, there is the little fact omitted of how many jobs have been lost over the same period of time.

By the way… there is a St. Paul Club of the Communist Party USA. The Chair of the Club is Dean Gunderson. Dean works for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Security as a “number cruncher” of some renown and could probably help you out with the net gain/net loss of jobs details.

Dean Gunderson is good friends with Professor Erwin Marquit.

Professor Marquit is teaching the Chinese about “market socialism.” I bet if you hooked up with Dean Gunderson and Professor Marquit you might find a way to keep the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant open under some kind of scheme of cooperative/public ownership/private venture with the Chinese government; if this kind of economics is merits the University of Minnesota sending one of its most distinguished professors over to China to teach the Chinese this new fangled economics as sure as heck should be of use in saving one auto plant in the Twin Cities... like they say, “What is good for the goose is good for the gander.” This would be more than an economic boost to the City of St. Paul. With the Chinese Olympics getting underway, such a joint venture could open up an entirely new industry of the kind you are looking to create around the new capitalist bubble being created around “green industries.”

It is largely because of the joint ventures with the Chinese that much of the taconite industry on the Iron Range is flourishing, and for the first time in over one-hundred years the Iron Range stands to get a steel mill. It would be a shame not to use much of this steel in St. Paul in a re-tooled, fully green and clean, St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant. Instead of two-thousand workers, there is no reason we can’t boost employment by another three or four thousand. Now, you talk about creating “jobs, jobs, jobs;” this is your opportunity to really shine when the Republican Party Convention comes to town. Let’s show these scoundrels what Minnesotans can accomplish when we cast aside all their “trickle down” theories. Let’s hang big, big posters of Minnesota’s two most popular ever politicians--- Floyd B. Olson and Elmer Benson--- on each side of gates to the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant… what the heck… Minnesota has raised more socialist and communist leaders of any other state and Minnesotans have elected more communists and socialists to public office than any other state… let’s hang all their portraits on the fence around the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant. We can give the Republicans a real Minnesota welcome like they really deserve!

Elmer Benson and Gus Hall were great friends. I talked with them both a number of times under the birch trees at Mesaba Co-op Park near Hibbing.

There are plenty of other areas in St. Paul where you could locate your new “green community” along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River rather than demolishing a perfectly good plant. What the heck, as this capitalist bubble gets ready to burst and make room for the next bubble to be created; before long there will be entire neighborhoods in St. Paul where people will have been foreclosed on and evicted from their homes. These homes will become dilapidated in no time as they remain vacant without needed repairs. Bring in the bulldozers and knock these neighborhoods down and put up many new “green communities.”

You don’t sound like you are aware of this; and I kind of feel funny breaking the news to you… but, while you were “fighting” to save the Ford Plant, Pat Harris was undermining your determined efforts. He was even testifying against S.F. 607 before House and Senate Committees. Don’t feel bad. Abe Lincoln observed that “Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow.” I am sure Lincoln had his sights set on Minnesota when making this statement a couple years later when Ramsey and his big business colleagues tried to undermine Lincoln’s efforts to win the Civil War and put an end to slavery without the help of General Custer who was off killing off the Indians in Minnesota and the Dakotas to make way for big agribusiness, mining companies and the rail roads and power generating industry instead of joining Sherman in his “march to the sea.” Don’t feel bad your colleague Pat Harris was undermining your fight with the Ford Motor Company… this kind of corruption is all just part of the capitalist system which Gus Hall explained in this essay below why we need to get rid of the entire rotten system.

Anyways, contact Dean Gunderson; I am sure he will be glad to hear from you and I think if you get together with Professor Marquit and maybe include George Lattimore and Mark Dayton in the discussions, I would bet you will find an interest from the Chinese in a joint venture that will accomplish what you set out to do: save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

Give public ownership I shot. It has worked well for the Green Bay Packers and workers at the bus plant in Winnipeg. The old “red” Finns of the Iron Range swore by co-operatives and these co-operatives did pretty darn well getting workers and farmers through the Great Depression. My grandpa was on the board of directors of the Gilbert Cooperative until the day he died.

I guess what I really want to say to you is just because your trusted colleague Pat Harris was working against you behind your back, and the Ford Motor Company gave you a couple black eyes… hang in there, try the cooperative/public ownership method of saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

I hope you will find Gus Hall’s essay uplifting for your spirits… the big bubble bursting can be a real downer even for the best of politicians.

You might want to pass on this little tid-bit of information--- Finn Fest 2008 will be held in Duluth this year and Gus Hall will be recognized as the most famous Finnish-American… so you have made a good choice in singling out Gus Hall to talk about at your community forums. Oh, you might want to enlighten younger people that Gus Hall popularized the slogan, “Put the needs of working people before corporate profits.” Let’s fight to save these two-thousand jobs at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

I am wondering if you would be able to provide me with a color photograph of you in front of the Ford Plant with a few kind words about Gus Hall that we could use for our display at Finn Fest 2008 in Duluth.

Warmest regards,

Alan Maki

A proud “red” Finn

By: Gus Hall

We Communists believe that socialism is the very best replacement for a capitalist system that has served its purpose, but no longer meets the needs and requirements of the great majority of our people.

We believe that socialism USA will be built according to the traditions, history, culture and conditions of the United States. Thus, it will be different from any other socialist society in the world. It will be uniquely American.

What will be the goals of our socialist society?

A life free of exploitation, insecurity, poverty; an end to unemployment, hunger and homelessness.
An end to racism, national oppression, anti-Semitism, all forms of discrimination, prejudice and bigotry. An end to the unequal status of women.
Renewal and extension of democracy; an end to the rule of corporate America and private ownership of the wealth of our nation. Creation of a truly humane and rationally planned society that will stimulate the fullest flowering of the human personality, creativity and talent.
The advocates and ideologues of capitalism hold that such goals are utopian; that human beings are inherently selfish and evil. Others argue that these goals can be fully realized under capitalism.

We are confident, however, that such goals can be realized, but only through a socialist society.

Why Socialism?

Since its inception capitalism has been fatally flawed. Its inherent laws - to maximize profit on the backs of the working class - give rise to the class struggle.

History is a continuous story of people rising up against those who exploit and oppress them, to demand what's theirs. Our own country's historic beginning was revolutionary. The ideals of justice and equality have inspired peoples for centuries.

Up until the time of Karl Marx, those that advocated socialism were "utopians", that is, motivated by ideals only. It was Marx and his longtime friend and collaborator, Frederick Engels, who uncovered the inner laws of capitalism, where profit comes from and how societies develop. They transformed wishful thinking for socialism into socialism with a scientific, materialist basis.

Communists say that capitalism won't be around forever. Just like previous societies weren't around forever either. Slavery gave rise to feudalism and feudalism to capitalism. So, too, capitalism gives rise to socialism.

The Foundations of Socialism

Political power would be in the hands of working people. Socialism starts with nationalization of the main means of production - the plants, factories, agri-business farms and everything necessary to produce what society needs. The large monopoly corporations and banks come under public ownership, that is, under the collective ownership of the entire working class and people, who have the leading role in building socialism.

Socialism also means public ownership of the energy industry and all the natural resources. It eliminates forever the power of the capitalist class to exploit and oppress the majority.

A socialist government draws up plans covering the entire economy. They are drawn up with maximum participation of the people, from the shop level on up. Such plans are achieved because they harmonize the interests of all, because there are no conflicts arising from exploitation of workers and no dog-eat-dog competition.

Production increases much faster than under capitalism, with a planned economy, advancement of science and technology, and the protection and preservation of our environment and natural resources.

A socialist government is based on all-around democracy, starting with economic democracy. The more people participate in running their own economy, the more firmly people's power is established, the more successful a socialist America will be.

Trade unions in a socialist USA will insure a fair balance between what workers produce and what they receive. They will have decisive power to enforce safety and health provisions, prevent speedup, and guarantee good transportation, working conditions and plant facilities.

Public services - schools, hospitals, utilities, transit, parks, roads - are crumbling under capitalism. And now corporations are "privatizing" government-run, publicly-owned institutions for private profit.

Under socialism public services and housing will be vastly improved and expanded. They will be broadened in their scope beyond anything dreamed of under capitalism.

The U.S. will become a vast construction site. Homes, schools, hospitals, places of recreation will be built to end shortages, replace substandard infrastructures and public facilities.

Jobs and Education for All

Full employment will be quickly achieved as production is expanded to satisfy the needs of people. Automation at the service of the working people will lead to both reduced hours of work and higher living standards, with no layoffs. There will be no danger of over-production since production will be planned and people's incomes will increase in line with the rising output of consumer goods and services.

Poverty will be ended quickly with the recovery of the vast resources now wasted in war production, corporate profits and the extravagant lifestyles of the filthy rich.

All education will be tuition-free. Every person will have access to unlimited medical and health care without charge. These rights will be realized as rapidly as facilities can be built and the personnel trained.

With capitalism gone, crime will also begin to disappear, for it is the vicious profit system that corrupts people and breeds crime.

To Each According to Their Work

Some ask whether guaranteeing basic necessities, free education, low-cost housing and health care will encourage people to avoid working, or doing their best. The principle of socialism is: From each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her work.

Socialism provides incentives for working better, producing more and higher quality goods, acquiring advanced skills. It does NOT equalize wages. Wages vary according to occupation and efficiency, although everyone is guaranteed a liveable wage.

Under capitalism, improvements in skill, organization and technology are rightly feared by the worker, since they threaten jobs. Under socialism, they offer the chance to make the job more interesting and rewarding, as well as to improve living standards.

Socialism provides moral incentives because the fruits of labor benefit all. No person robs others of the profits from their labor; when social goals are adopted by the majority, people will want to work for these goals. Work will seem less a burden, more and more a creative activity, where everyone is his/her neighbor's helper instead of rival.

It is true socialism will nationalize or socialize all large-scale production, property and real estate. But socialism does not abolish ALL privately-owned business. It does not require nationalization of those small businesses owned by people who work for themselves and do not hire others to make a profit. Personal property - private homes, automobiles, etc., - will remain just that, personal property.

In highly mechanized U.S. agriculture there will still be a place for the family farmer. But the farm family will be relieved of the pressure of agribusiness monopolies.

There will be rapid abolition of racism and national oppression. Socialism will bring complete equality for all racially and nationally oppressed. There will be no compromise with racism, for there will no longer exist a capitalist class which profits from it. Racism, national oppression, anti-Semitism, sexism, anti-immigrant discrimination and all forms of prejudice and bigotry will be banned by law, with strict measures of enforcement. Affirmative action will be expanded immediately to undo and make up for hundreds of years of the ravages of racism. Full equality will be one of the main priorities of the new society.

War propaganda will be outlawed.

The only privileged sectors will be the children and seniors, who have earned the right to a healthy, happy, secure retirement.

The children will reap all the benefits of socialist child care, free nurseries and schools with the very best facilities and teachers. Children will have wonderful recreational and sports facilities. They will have the option to choose whatever career they wish, and the free education and training to achieve it.

Socialism provides the economic foundation for effective democracy for the masses of people. To carry through the socialist economic and social transformation requires political rule by the working class - a government of, by and for the working people.

Socialism USA

Socialism USA will benefit from the experiences, the mistakes and succesess of the countries who built and are building socialism. But mainly it will reflect the distinctive features of U.S. development and environment.

Unique historical advantages, like the unequalled natural resources, fertile soil and perfect weather, coupled with the contributions of generations of working people, enabled U.S. capitalism to achieve higher productive levels and living standards than capitalism in other countries. So, too, the development of socialism here will have some distinct advantages.

We have a highly developed industrial society with a highly trained and educated work force.
Free from foreign intervention, socialism will not have to divert human and economic resources to defend itself.
Socialism USA will avoid the terrible problems of extreme poverty, illiteracy, civil wars, wars of intervention and world wars.
Socialism USA will extend democracy to its fullest, taking as its starting point the democratic traditions and institutions of the American people.
Path to Socialism

We say that it may be possible in the U.S. to bring socialism through peaceful means. Perhaps through the ballot box. One thing is clear, there won't be socialism in the U.S. until the majority of the American people want it.

I like to say that when workers enter the corporate board rooms to take over and the ruling class says: O.K. you're right, we made a mess of things and now you should run it all. Well then there won't be any trouble. But if the ruling class says: Forget it! And call out the army and the police and the national guard, then that is how revolutions become violent. It starts with the ruling class. Workers and their allies have to defend themselves and to fight for what is rightfully theirs.

We believe and advocate that a socialist society in our country will guarantee all the liberties defined in the Bill of Rights but never fully realized. These include the right of people to express themselves fully and freely through organizations of their choice and competing candidates who respect and are guided by the concept of building socialism.

Indeed, the freedoms in the Bill of Rights will take on far greater meaning for the great majority, who will now own the meeting halls, press, radio and TV, and will be able to exercise that freedom effectively.

That's why we call ours Bill of Rights Socialism, USA.

Socialism is our vision for America's future. It is a vision we are winning more and more people to because it is logical - really a great - replacement for capitalism. And because it is the next inevitable step up the ladder of human civilization.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


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