In the video above, radio host Garland Nixon gives a masterclass in how we can talk to those around us in ways that leave them questioning imperialist lies rather than being roused to antagonistic defence of propaganda-instilled prejudice.
On the weekend of 25-26 March, the Centre for Political Innovation, a US-based socialist education initiative headed up by Caleb Maupin, held a conference to counter Joe Biden’s ‘Summit for democracy’ jamboree.
Highlighting the farce of inviting only the countries that could be depended on to parrot lines approved of by their US masters, while excluding every one of the countries in the world that practices real participatory people’s democracy (as opposed to the brutal dictatorship of capital), the counter-conference was titled: Summit Against Hypocrisy.
In point of fact, the only real function of this virtual meeting (the first of which was launched to great fanfare in December 2021) is to act as an anti-China propaganda event, China’s participatory democracy under the leadershp of the Communist Party being officially declared a ‘dictatorship’ by the self-appointed judges of US imperialism.
Without hiding its nature as an overtly scientific Marxist organisation, the CPI is notable for its willingness and ability to bring together and work with a broad array of anti-imperialist and anti-establishment figures.
This strength was on view at the recent Rage Against the War Machine demonstrations, which brought together antiwar voices from the libertarian right as well as from the socialist left, creating an event of great vibrancy that both the ruling class media and many self-identifying leftists went out of their way to impugn or ignore.
The audience that convened in the US capital on Saturday 25 March listened with energetic appreciation to an array of inspiring speakers, some of whose messages are briefly touched on below. We would highly recommend our readers take the time to visit the CPI’s YouTube channel to watch all these contributions in full.
Uniting all speakers, whether coming from a ‘left’ or ‘right’ perspective, was their refusal to cooperate with the US imperialist lie machine, their total opposition to the US-led proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, and their determination likewise to oppose the increasingly hysterical drive to war against China.
Scott Ritter was the first keynote speaker to address the meeting, which greeted this much-abused (by the US ruling class and its media) antiwar activist with huge acclaim. Opening his remarks, Scott told his audience: “Ronald Reagan must be rolling in his grave. I was brought up to hate communists.”
A little later in his speech, this former soldier declared: “Our country needs to be saved from the consequences of its naked imperial ambition. It is no longer worthy of the people who put on its uniform … But people are starting to wake up to the fact that the government lies.” (Scott Ritter at the Summit Against Hypocrisy, CPI YouTube, March 2023)
Garland Nixon of Sputnik Radio’s The Critical Hour delivered a masterclass in combating misinformation, explaining: “‘Misinformation’ in the current political climate means anything that disproves the official consensus.
“People are being programmed not to listen to those who question the official narrative. They are being given a set of concrete beliefs to adhere to as a matter of faith — a set of heroes and villains to believe in.
“So how do we fight the official narrative? Paul Robeson Jr used to say: you can’t teach people things, they have to think they learned it themselves. We have to help people find their own way over their barriers to perceiving reality.
“You can’t fight people, they’ll dig in their heels. I like to just point out contradictions and get out of the way.” (Garland Nixon at the Summit Against Hypocrisy, CPI YouTube, March 2023)
During a speech delivered on behalf of the People’s Party, Nick Brana pointed out: “We’re at a historic crossroads right now. So many problems are converging.
“Geopolitically there is a change that hasn’t been seen since World War 2. A different world is being born.
“As people in the USA, the country that is holding back that process, we have a role to play. Our people could participate in the change instead of trying to enforce US imperial hegemony.” (Nick Branna at the Summit Against Hypocrisy, CPI YouTube, March 2023)
Oronde Shakur of the black nationalist Uhuru Movement gave a stirring address, touching on many themes. His organisation’s office buildings and leadership are currently being targeted by FBI raids and threatened with government prosecution on the spurious grounds of “spreading pro-Russian propaganda”.
During his speech, he told the meeting: “The removal and assassination of so many of our community’s leaders, from the Black Panthers to Dr King, demoralised our people. My organsiation was created to reorganise resistance to colonial imperialism.
“We have been resisting for hundreds of years, ever since the beginning of slavery.
“Africa remains a major source of wealth for imperialism, despite the black faces in positions of power, so many of whom work for our enemies …
“As Fidel Castro said: we are in a fight to the death between the past and the future. Imperialism represents the past; socialism represents the future. As Fred Hampton Jr said: you can kill a revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution.”
Dr Wilmer Leon, Critical Hour co-host, was an unexpected and very welcome addition to the day’s line-up. He spoke about the power of the narrative and how it controls our expectations, saying:
“I met Caleb at a human rights conference in Iran in 2014. My friends had all told me not to go there because they were convinced I would be kidnapped and have my head cut off.
“Meanwhile, I was worried about going to the conference because I didn’t know if the USA would let me back in …
“While I was in Iran, I had a two-hour conversation with the cultural advisor to the Ayatollah. I asked him why he cared enough to spend so much time talking to me about my people’s history and conditions, and he confounded all my expectations by telling me: you are oppressed by the same enemy as me; your struggle is my struggle.” (Dr Wilmer Leon at the Summit Against Hypocrisy, CPI YouTube, March 2023)
Daniel Villa, a veteran socialist activist from New York city, talked about his work representing illegal immigrants against swindling employers who take advantage of their lack of English, lack of legal redress and fear of deportation:
“Over $30bn are stolen from workers in the USA every year. In New York City alone, 2.1 million people are victims of wage theft.
“The victims are overwhelmingly undocumented immigrants. They are easy targets because they are scared to complain. My organisation works to help people recover some of what is owed to them through direct action and protest.
“Since 2020, when Covid was used as a cover for this practice, our caseload has gone up by 400 percent.
“This problem gives us something to organise around that could help us forge a meaningful connection with the working class, which our movement has lost in recent years.”
Daniel Burke of the Schiller Institute pointed out during his speech: “The imminent collapse of the banking system makes it clear that there is no solution within the system.
“The reckless printing of money since 2008 has only exacerbated the crisis since then. Neither austerity nor bailouts can save us.”
Other speakers on the first day of the conference included anti-imperialist Fox Green, Marxist author and film-maker Peter Coffin. Joti Brar of the CPGB-ML and Elizabeth Pekin of the Party of Communists, USA delivered solidarity greetings. A selection of rousing songs of work and protest were sung throughout the weekend by the CPI’s own String Band.
Rounding off the first day of the conference was CPI founder Caleb Maupin. He began his wide-ranging keynote address by explaining the root of all capitalist crisis: the disparity between what workers are paid and the cost of all the goods they have produced, which leads to overproduction crises.
He also outlined the way that mechanisation leads to a steady decline in the rate of profit. These are two concepts that are key to understanding why it should be that crisis under capitalism is unavoidable and why the imperialists are driven to war to try to destroy products and productive forces and bring back demand into the economy.
“Only the science of Marxism enables us to understand what’s going on at a time of capitalist crisis like this one,” he said.
“The important thing we need to understand is that the workers are never paid enough to buy back the products they have produced. This problem is called overproduction, and it never goes away in the capitalist system …
“In a rational society, self-driving cars would be a wonderful labour-saving device. In a capitalist society they will cause riots in the streets.
“Everything the capitalists do to try to solve their problems only makes the crisis deeper. The only way out for them is austerity, destruction and war.
“Only Marxism has a real solution. We have to raise the working class to the position of the ruling class, turn the means of production into public properly and organise the economy to raise the living standards of the people.”
Caleb emphasised the CPI’s positive vision for the future: that they are not merely oppositionists out to destroy, but that they believe in a future based in a rising standard of living for the working masses – a future of growth, as opposed to the degrowth that is being pursued by the crisis-ridden imperialist ruling class; a future in which technology serves to liberate rather than to enslave the masses of humanity.
The thesis he set out is examined in detail in his new book Where is America Going?: Marxism, MAGA and the Coming Revolution.
The second day of the summit featured a guest presentation from CPGB-ML vice-chair Joti Brar, whose wide-ranging speech will be reproduced on this site soon. Her particular focus was on the work of the World Anti-imperialist Platform, the importance of understanding the drive to war and taking the side of the anti-imperialist bloc, and the danger posed to the international communist movement by the spread of theoretical distortions and reinventions of the Leninist theory of imperialism.
The final session consisted of a series of short but incisive presentations on struggles in many corners of the world, from the Philippines to Venezuela, Korea to Angola and more. The CPI’s mission to bring a Marxist education to US workers was on display in this session, with the presentation given by a variety of members of different ages and backgrounds.
All in all, the event was an inspiring weekend that succeeded in its aim of highlighting the hypocritical and rabid nature of US imperialism, bringing together a broad range of voices in opposition to its hegemonic aims and in defence of the true interests of the US working class.
Much effort was put into professional filming, so that high-quality videos of all speeches are being edited and made available via the CPI’s YouTube channel. A documentary about the event is being produced by Peter Coffin.