California's socialist and feminist political party urges you to:
The Peace and Freedom Party, born from the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s, is committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism, racial equality, and internationalism.
The opening sentence of the Party platform has provoked questions such as, “Why are you for socialism?” or “What is socialism?” The answer is not simple, because the Peace and Freedom Party is a ‘multi-tendency’ party.” People from different organizations, as well as those without other affiliation, can be members of the Peace and Freedom Party.
We asked members of the PFP to provide their definition of socialism, both to answer the question and to illustrate the range of opinions within the party and the Socialist movement in general. Below runs the third brief essay in our continuing series, “What is Socialism?”
For me, socialism is when the working class has control of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. It’s when we decide how to organize society to benefit the many, not to work for profits for the (very) few. It means we will determine what is made, grown, taught.
Reorganizing society under socialism is going to be a struggle. The capitalist class isn’t going to give up its ill-gotten gains without a fight. We need to be prepared for that fight. Socialism is not inevitable. If the working class fails to take up its historic imperative to overthrow capitalism and build socialism, human society will fall into barbarism or fascism. We must be willing to wage the class war against the capitalist class in order to save not only the human race, but all the other species of our planet. Capitalists won’t do this, because there’s no profit for them.
A socialist society is not a “free ride.” It’s going to be hard work! But it’s work we already do – we just don’t realize it yet.
On Saturday, January 19th, the third annual Women’s March and related events was held in cities across the United States. In Sacramento, some 10,000 participated, according to police estimates.
Many Peace and Freedom Party members were among the 10,000-strong Sacramento Women’s March, with some PFPers joining other contingents that they are affiliated with, including but not limited to Jewish Voice for Peace, the Palestine Support Coalition and union groups.
In a cynical move to avoid financial responsibility for causing the devastating Camp Fire, PG&E has declared itself bankrupt. This comes before any responsibility for the fire has actually been laid at their feet. Perhaps a guilty conscience is at work here. PG&E has been found criminally responsible for other destructive and fatal fires in the recent past.
What is really needed is true public ownership of all of our utility companies. Pacific Gas & Electric, like the other big utility companies in California, is really a quasi-public, but mostly private corporation. It is ultimately responsible to its stock holders not the public. The lapdog Public Utilities Commission (PUC) does exercise some regulatory oversight of these utilities, but clearly not enough. We, the people of California, need to take them over and run them in our interests, not the interests of private stock holders.
A good model for this is the well-run, long-functioning public utility company in the Sacramento area. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has a long history of providing people with lower cost reliable electricity. It is an acknowledged leader in the shift away from fossil fuels, and closed down its nuclear reactor when the public no longer supported it.
Let’s make public utilities in California truly public! Take over PG&E and run it in our best interests, not the financial interests of private stock holders!
On January 12, 2019, Peace and Freedom Party members from Alameda and San Francisco counties joined thousands of teachers and community members to rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland. Teachers’ unions from Alameda, Albany, Castro Valley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, New Haven, Newark, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo School districts came out to greet the throng of Oakland teachers who marched in together.
The crowd came to support Los Angeles teachers who were about to go on strike on Monday, January 14, and to build support for a possible strike by Oakland teachers in February. Among the issues are adequate pay for teachers and other school employees, smaller class size for students, full funding for programs such as special education, and an end to the rampant proliferation of charter schools, which drain money from public schools and are a step toward privatization.
Funding for schools should come from the wealthy corporations and individuals in California. One key source is a split roll property tax, which would tax business property at market value while continuing protection for homes. This change to Proposition 13 will be on the November 2020 ballot in California.
by Roger Harris
Bathed in the soothing waters of the Blue Wave, such that it was, a new US Congress will be baptized on January 3rd. But what portends when “Mad Dog” Mattis, arch racist Jeff Sessions, and deep state spooks are canonized by self-identified liberals and leftists as bulwarks against fascism? When all mainstream "opposition" politics can be reduced to a single issue: Trump. And when the midterm elections ignored deepening impoverishment at home, endless wars abroad, and climate calamity – let alone the tax cut for the super-rich – and instead focused on the "threat" posed by (take your pick) immigrants or the Russians.
For the first time ever, the Gallup poll reported that most Democrats favor socialism over capitalism. And for good reason: as the Occupy movement proclaimed, “the system isn’t broken, it’s fixed.” An observer from the UK quipped, “If the midterm elections would have changed anything, they would not have been allowed.”
The American body politic is in deep malaise with the current administration. But neoliberal rule is the disease, and Trump merely the symptom. The conditions that allowed the ascendancy of Trump were the result of the neoliberal policies of Obama/Bush and of their predecessors. Trump does not so much represent a break or reversal of Obama era policies. Rather, we are suffering a continuation and intensification of those policies as the body politic lurches to the right.
The Leadup to the New Congress
The good news for US democracy was the largest voter turnout in half a century for the congressional mid-term elections. For the 66% of the US population under 50 years, it was the highest in their lifetime. The more sobering news is that even with this record turnout, the majority of eligible voters didn’t vote, while the pool of eligible voters is diminished by felony disenfranchisement and other laws and practices depending on the state.
Beyond the microcosm of the corporate two-party system, there is a universe out there and even issues that transcend one’s affection or distaste for Trump. What if we had an electoral system in which the vast majority of eligible voters were motivated to participate?
An initiative to amend Proposition 13, a taxation measure passed by voters in 1978, has reportedly collected enough signatures to guarantee its inclusion on the November 2020 ballot.
The proposed amendment was put forth by proponents Anthony Thigpenn, Helen Hutchison and Benjamin McBride, has already garnered the required minimum of 585,407 signatures needed to get the initiative in front of California voters in 2020.
In the legislation’s official summary, the proposed amendment “Requires Certain Commercial and Industrial Real Property to be Taxed Based on Fair-Market Value. Dedicates Portion of Any Increased Revenue to Education and Local Services.”
the amendment promises a “Net increase in annual property tax revenues of $6.5 billion to $10.5 billion in most years, depending on the strength of real estate markets. After paying for county administrative costs and backfilling state income tax losses related to the measure, the remaining $6 billion to $10 billion would be allocated to schools (40 percent) and other local governments (60 percent).”
The Peace and Freedom Party has long endorsed the idea of a split-roll tax to address the inequities of Proposition 13. Below runs a piece from The Partisan #17, published in mid-2003, about Proposition 13 and its effects on California residents in its first 25 years of existence, effects which have only been magnified in the 21st century.
by Marsha Feinland
The erosion of public services since 1979 directly follows the passage of Proposition 13 in June 1978. The initiative cut local property taxes by nearly 60%, capped property tax rates at 1%, and prohibited all reassessment of California property except for an annual 2% inflation adjustment, although it allowed reassessment upon sale of the property. Any further taxes levied on the value of property were prohibited.
The proponents of the law cited an unfair burden on homeowners whose homes increased in value because of runaway housing inflation while their ability to pay the accompanying higher taxes was limited. The real winners, however, were corporations occupying or owning vast amounts of property. Their taxes stay low even as their stockholders change continuously.
This is why many proponents of fair taxation call for a "split-roll" tax, which would maintain the tax limitation on residential property while allowing taxes on corporate property to rise with its value.
The Peace and Freedom Party has taken positions for or against a number of bills in the 2017-2018 session of the California legislature. This article lists our current positions with links to relevant documents.
Spread the word about the Peace and Freedom Party. Encourage your friends to register Peace and Freedom, join the supporting membership program, and get involved.
Here are some introductory handouts you can download and print for distribution. For a more extensive archive of our literature, click here.