25th Anniversary Political Party

Did you join us for our 25th Anniversary party? 

On June 21, 2014, we held our 25th Anniversary celebration at the iconic Wiltern Theater. Thank you to all who attended, celebrated, and supported with donations! Just click on the picture below to check out the photo album from the amazing event below. If you missed the party, and still want to donate to the Strategy Center, just click here. here.

LCSC 25th Anniversary Political Party Photos 

Thank you to all the allies, friends, and supporters who donated ads for our 25th anniversary program book.

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The Labor/Community Strategy Center Turns 25-With a Bright Future Ahead

 

Marques- copy.jpgWhen we founded the Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC) in 1989 it was a dark time in world history. The fall of the Soviet Union and the imminent fall of the entire Soviet bloc led to a period of grotesque capitalist triumphalism-as part of a larger world counter-revolution that had begun in reaction to the rise of the civil rights, Black Liberation, Vietnamese liberation victories of 1955-1975-the Two Decades of the Sixties.

Reagan had just finished 8 years of destroying the welfare state, declaring the Soviet Union "the evil empire," attacking Black families, and asserting that the capitalists needed "privatized" public resources while the working class needed "self-reliance." Many of the leaders of the social movements had been killed, imprisoned, tortured, and the system went on the warpath to re-write history and caricature, slander, and if possible, eradicate the profound victories of the movement: the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the expansion of women's rights, and the final withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Vietnam in 1975 as the product of an international anti-war movement.

In 1989 and 1990 as we tried to figure out exactly what "the Strategy Center" was, we knew it would have several key components.

• The concepts of labor, community, strategy, and center were carefully constructed. We came out of the Labor/Community Coalition to Keep GM Van Nuys Open whose strategy and victory were guided by the idea of a strategic alliance between the multi-racial, multi-national working class and oppressed nationality communities, in particular the Black and Latino communities. By Labor we meant all working people including, but not primarily, organized trade unions. We sought to build forms of working class organization that were independent of the employers and the two party system. We saw Black and Latino workers as the most advanced forces in the entire working class. By Community we meant primarily the Black, Latino, and other oppressed nationality communities and their fight for both self-determination and a larger multi-national vision of social change. We wanted to respect the specificity of different oppressed nationalities in a multi-racial organization. We wanted people to fight for "Black power" and "Chicano liberation" as part of a larger social justice strategy and feel comfortable in LCSC. By Strategy we meant to see all of our work focused to "change the system" so that each campaign, march, rally, tactic would serve a larger radical, structural strategic objective. By Center we were asserting that movements need centers where organizers can gain a planned and conscious character for their work and give moral, tactical, and material support to each other. We wanted to generate a "theory-driven practice" and "practice-driven theory." We wanted to help build the broader movement and saw the Labor/Community Strategy Center as one piece of that puzzle.

• When we organized our first "Annual Political Party" we were riffing off the ideas that political people could throw a good party and also that at some time in the U.S. the Left needed a "political alliance," "political network," even a "political party" if we wanted to have national and international influence.

• We rooted ourselves in the revolutionary traditions of the U.S. and world movements for national liberation and self-determination. Whatever criticisms we had of past experiments or ideas for new left innovations, we would never join the camp of recantation, anti-communism, or the destruction of the historical memory of the great revolutionary upsurges.

• We saw ourselves from the outset addressing the worldwide question, "What are we going to do about the United States?" People all over the world looked to progressives, radicals, and revolutionaries in the U.S. to fight for their right of sovereignty and self-determination and to challenge the destructive policies of our own government which Dr. King described, at great political risk, as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world."

• We believed that it was in the actual class, race, and women's liberation struggles that we would understand best who were our friends, our allies, our vacillating allies, antagonists, adversaries, and yes, our enemies. General statements of intention were of little use until we saw what specific action people took-for all over the world, organizers have all agreed, "Only practice will tell." Your ideology, your ethics, your worldview, your politics can only be understood in practice-the generality must be reflected in the particular.

• We searched for an ethical and spiritual frame to our work and believed that the highest form of spirituality must be reflected in the struggle. From the belief of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that it was building "a beloved community" to the Cuban revolution's search for the new socialist person, we believed that the spiritual, personal, psychological, and ethical struggle must be reflected in the struggle to make the world a better place and have the courage to work collectively, take risks, and challenge the system.

The Strategy Center's work over 25 years has involved hundreds of people in leadership, some of big projects, some of small, some for a few years, some for many, a few for all 25. We share a common commitment to fight to win real victories in the real world and build a new generation of organizers in the process of the class struggle. We believe there is no chance to win without great attention to strategy and tactics and the long campaign with counter-hegemonic demands. This has generated some rather amazing victories in the age of Reaction.

• We kept General Motors from closing its Van Nuys assembly plant and kept it open 10 years after the largest company in the world tried to close it.

• We took on Texaco from Wilmington to Ecuador and won the first community right-to-know regulation.

• We, along with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, forced the Los Angeles MTA to construct "the largest clean fuel bus system in the U.S." at a cost of $2.7 billion-driven by the Bus Riders Union as legal class representative.

• We won the first Bus Only Lanes project in L.A. on Wilshire Blvd where buses get priorities over cars.

• We led the opposition to and defeated Measure J, a "transit racism, climate disaster" sales tax the MTA tried to sell to the voters

• We overturned L.A.'s draconian "daytime curfew law," and radically reduced arrests, tickets, and citation for "tardiness"-a campaign led by Black and Latino Community Rights high school students along with our allies in Dignity in Schools Los Angeles.

• We worked in the Brothers Sons Selves Coalition to pass the first "School Climate" Bill of Rights.

• We just lead a 6 month city-wide fight against the latest MTA fare increase and its stop and frisk policies on the trains and buses.

• Through all these years, we have built many national and international alliances as part of a movement of movements that fights to win immediate victories while preparing for generations of struggle yet to come.

We have told no lies nor claimed easy victories. Our advances have been against long odds and powerful forces. As all organizers know, any victory involves climbing the mountains of self-doubt, political inconsistency, tactical errors, internal tensions, mass despair and passivity, and taking on the ideological dictatorship of the right and the consolidation of the multi-national corporations expanding at an exponential rate.

And yet, while we do not know fully what the future holds we see our existing society falling apart at the seams and popular support for the political and economic institutions of corporate capitalism at an all-time low. Not surprisingly, we see the forces of the police, surveillance, "national security" and warfare state at an all-time high-the system is unable to rule with even the pretenses of consent.

Our work today focuses even more on our international obligations-to build a strategic alliance of low-income Black and Latino communities along with all races and classes in the U.S, Third World nations still fighting for self-determination, and people from Europe to Antarctica who share an internationalist, anti-imperialist, ecological and climate justice perspective-reflected in what the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance calls grassroots internationalism. We are living at a time of white supremacy and class warfare by the ruling forces of society. We prioritize building the political influence of Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander working class leaders, many of whom are immigrants, with particular emphasis on women's leadership, building a larger cadre of fighters, organizers, intellectuals, artists, and communities in the broadest united front possible.

We are very excited about the next phase of our long term organizing campaign framed by The Fight for the Soul of the Cities. In our discussions with organizers all over the country we are all confronted by what we call "the privatizing, polluting, policing" corporate plan that is imposed on the people. We believe the Fight for the Soul of the Cities can help generate a movement in the interests of the vast majority in which corporate power is restricted by and subordinated to a mass movement building new institutions based on economic, social, and environmental justice. The following program is the earliest reflection of our vision:

• Stop the U.S. and L.A.'s War on the Planet-No cars in L.A, 5,000 zero emission buses, free 24/7 public transportation.
• Amnesty and Open Borders for Immigrants.
• Free the U.S. 2.5 Million Prisoners-Stop mass incarceration of Black and Brown communities.
• No U.S. Drone Attacks-Respect the sovereignty and human rights of other nations.
• Fight for the Right to Protest and Organize-as we fight for the social justice state not the police state.

The Fight for the Soul of the Cities has given a greater strategic focus to our work and has allowed us to truly see each piece of the work as part of a larger fight for systemic change. We hope it can offer a frame, a perspective, a point of view for organizers all over the country to engage, debate, and find helpful to their work as we challenge ourselves to make it happen in our own organizing. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of whether we, on a day-to-day basis, can uphold these politics on the buses, in the high schools, the universities, in our speaking and writing. Can we build popular support for a radical and comprehensive worldview that is reflected in a concrete political program? We believe this historical movement calls for boldness and experimentation. Only practice will tell.

We understand that "the Movement" we hope to see is still a work in progress, with many obstacles to achieving political, operational, and organizational cooperation and unity. But as we write this for our 25th anniversary we are truly optimistic. A lot of our optimism is based on the support of our many friends, comrades, allies, and family members who are doing very impressive work all over the United States and internationally. We are so proud to be part of this movement-building strategy in which the battle to slow down and reverse capitalist driven climate change and our own government's destructive "war on the planet" is the frontline of the world class struggle. We believe a broad international movement for ecological and social justice will be led by a united front in defense of humanity and the planet-and against the forces of capitalist production, consumption, and contempt for nature and humanity. Our work is cut out for us. Please join us for the next 25 years-and beyond! Let's enjoy our 25th anniversary Political Party.

Eric Mann, Tammy Bang Luu, Manuel Criollo, Barbara Lott Holland