Fight Back! - News and Views from the People's Struggle This newspaper exists to build the people's struggle! We provide coverage and analysis of some of the key battles facing working and low-income people. es Celebrate International Women's Day! Defend reproductive rights! Fight for women's rights! <p>Across the world for more than 100 years, March 8th has been a day to honor the contributions of women to the people's struggle. International Women's Day is a day to build resistance to gender-based oppression. Freedom Road Socialist Organization will take this celebration into the streets with marches and protests to build this struggle. We call upon all progressive people to join us in celebrating International Women's Day.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Women's and reproductive rights are under attack</strong></p> <p>Last year saw a big attack on women's and reproductive rights when the Supreme Court of the United States overturned <em>Roe v. Wade</em>. Thousands across the country protested in response, and a new mass movement is growing to defend reproductive rights and fight for women's rights. This is in the best tradition of International Women's Day: organizing to fight our oppressors.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>A history of struggle for justice</strong></p> <p>International Women's Day started to honor the struggle of working women in New York City. In 1908, there was a determined battle by garment workers to improve their working and living conditions. Women were also fighting for the right to vote. Inspired by this, the outstanding German revolutionary Clara Zetkin proposed to the socialist movement a worldwide celebration of women's struggles against oppression.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Resist oppression and inequality</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>While reproductive rights are currently under fierce attack, the inequality women face is more than this. Women workers, on average, only earn 77% of male workers in the work force. Black women earn about 77% of the average income for all women, and Chicana and Latina women only earn about 70% of the average for all women. Sexual violence and intimate partner abuse is tolerated and taken lightly by the U.S. legal system. It's no accident that the vast majority of victims of these crimes are women.</p> <p>The overturning of Roe is part of a systematic right-wing, billionaire-funded campaign to erase the gains of the women's, LGBTQ, and civil rights movements. Their vision for the country is shaped by a backward, religious worldview. They want to ban abortion, marginalize trans people, and get rid of any teaching about racist inequality in schools.</p> <p>The question of reproductive rights is one of basic bodily autonomy. A person who does not have final say over what to do with their own body is not free. This also applied to the right of trans people to medically transition, which the right-wing also wants to restrict. Almost two-thirds of abortions are obtained by African-American, Chicana, and other oppressed nationality women. This attack on abortion rights has worsened national oppression in the U.S.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>We will fight back</strong></p> <p>However, with every attack, the ruling class recruits their own gravediggers. They expose how unfit they are to run the country, how morally bankrupt their leadership is. The fact that half the country cannot access a safe and legal abortion has provoked righteous anger across the country. We must channel this feeling into mass organizing. We will build a movement strong enough to smash their system and break the chains of oppression.&nbsp;</p> International Women’s Day reproductive rights Women's Movement Wed, 08 Feb 2023 15:32:45 +0000 Fight Back 10243 at Celebrate Ka Joma’s 84th birth anniversary amid bright prospects of advancing the revolution <p>We mark today the 84th birth anniversary of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, fully conscious of the continuing profound significance of Ka Joma’s work in the unremitting struggle of the Filipino people for national democracy and socialism, which form part of the international anti-imperialist resistance of all oppressed and exploited peoples.</p> <p>In celebrating his revolutionary life and work, let us reaffirm our adherence to the universal correctness of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and its application to the concrete conditions of the Philippines as practiced and taught by Ka Joma, and as embodied in the principles, policies and program of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Let us also look forward to the 130th birth anniversary of Chairman Mao Zedong later this year and Ka Joma’s 85th birth anniversary next year by studying with all energy the classic writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho as well as those of Ka Joma, and using them as guide as we carry forward with all vigor the national democratic revolution.</p> <p>As founding chair and guide of the CPP, Ka Joma incisively analyzed the semicolonial and semifeudal conditions in the country and pointed to the necessity of carrying out a people’s democratic revolution by waging protracted people’s war along the strategy of encircling the cities from the countryside.</p> <p>Wielding both the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front as sword and shield respectively, the Party has achieved myriad revolutionary successes over more than five decades. The victories accumulated in waging resistance and building revolutionary power are testament to the correctness and lasting validity of Ka Joma’s teachings and to the indefatigable determination of the Party’s cadres to carry forward the tasks of the Philippine revolution.</p> <p>Inspired by Ka Joma’s boundless revolutionary optimism, the Party and all patriotic and democratic forces are determined to bring the national democratic revolution to final victory, no matter the sacrifice and however long it takes. The liberation of the Filipino people from imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism hinges on winning the revolution.</p> <p>The passing away of Ka Joma on December 16, 2022 was a profound loss to the Party. Still, his revolutionary spirit and the treasure trove of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist writings which he bequeathed continue to unite the Party and imbue it with strength. His death has inspired a revolutionary education movement among Party cadres and activists to study his teachings in order to raise their knowledge of revolutionary theory and history, and to sum-up and guide their revolutionary practice in the field of revolutionary armed struggle and mass movement in the cities and countryside.</p> <p>This study movement is characterized by a review of the basic principles of the Party as laid out by Ka Joma in the first and second great rectification movements. Party cadres are also carrying out further research and social investigation to enrich and deepen understanding of the semicolonial and semifeudal conditions of the people.</p> <p>Through this study movement, leading committees of the Party have taken initiative in self-criticism efforts to identify, root out, repudiate and rectify errors of subjectivism which have impeded the growth of the revolutionary movement and weakened it in some parts. The level of revolutionary energy and enthusiasm is steadily rising, and with it, the Filipino people’s determination to carry forward the revolution.</p> <p>In the field of armed struggle, Party cadres in the New People’s Army are exerting efforts to surmount the problem of self-constriction in order to consistently expand and deepen the mass base and take the initiative in mounting annihilative tactical offensives combined with widespread attritive tactical offensives. In the field of the mass movement in both the cities and countryside, revolutionary forces are overcoming problems of reformism, legalism and conservatism in order to expand the people’s organized strength, lead their democratic struggles, raise their struggles against imperialist neoliberal policies and military intervention, and link and extend support to the armed struggle.</p> <p>A vigorous study movement of Ka Joma’s teachings is bound to take root among the Filipino youth and students, ensuring the emergence of a new generation of revolutionaries and communists who will lead the Party and carry forward the revolution into the future. The campaign to promote Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and a culture of revolutionary collectivism and selfless service to the people, especially among young intellectuals, direct challenges the culture of social apathy, individualism, self-centeredness, hedonism and other rotten anti-social traits being promoted by imperialism and the ruling classes in media and social media.</p> <p>During Ka Joma’s lifetime, the reactionary ruling classes did all they can to suppress and silence him. With his death, the reactionaries are now forever haunted by his red specter. Mortally fearful of the national democratic revolution, the Philippine reactionary government, representing the interests of the imperialists, the big bourgeois compradors and big landlords, continues to employ to brutal state terrorism and fascist suppression in a futile effort to stop the forward march of the Filipino people and their revolution. They have resorted to placing entire villages under military rule, dropping half-ton bombs from the air, extrajudicial killings, torture, abducting pregnant women and children, fake surrenders, and endlessly spinning lies. Their repeated declaration of having defeated the revolutionary movement is set to explode in their face as the Party, the NPA and the NDF gain strength and carry the revolution to greater heights.</p> <p>The viciousness with which the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) wages its counter-revolution, however, succeeds only in further exposing the rottenness of the ruling system. Fascist violence is inciting the broad masses of the people to fight back. It shows them that there is no path to attain their aspiration for justice and freedom other than the revolutionary mass movement and armed struggle.</p> <p>Amid aggravation of the crisis of overproduction of the global capitalist system, the leading imperialists powers are resorting to wars and pushing the entire world towards the brink of widespread death and destruction. The conditions of great disorder and turbulence being generated by the global capitalist system is compelling the proletariat to rise up and lead the oppressed and exploited classes to wage revolution.</p> <p>Guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the teachings of Ka Joma, the Communist Party of the Philippines vows to persevere in leading the Filipino people along the path of the national democratic revolution. Together with rising anti-imperialist and antifascist struggles around the world, the Party is determined to contribute to the resurgence of socialist and new democratic revolutions worldwide and help forge a new period in the world history of the proletariat.</p> Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Filipinas Wed, 08 Feb 2023 15:10:00 +0000 Fight Back 10242 at Tampa panel celebrates Black History Month, vows continued fight for Black liberation <p>Tampa, FL - On February 6, Tampa community members packed the North Tampa branch library for a Black History Month panel hosted by the Tampa district of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). The panel discussed the demands of African Americans, in Tampa and across the country, in the struggle against racism, imperialism and national oppression, especially talking about the struggles against police brutality and for community control of the police.</p> <p>“The epidemic of police violence shows the need for Black liberation. If we’re going to be able to confront this thing head on, we need to develop better institutions for the people. Independent counsel for the Citizens Review Board is only the first step,” said Tampa Bay Community Action Committee member Jeremy Castano about the local struggle to expand the powers of the Citizens Review Board.</p> <p>Jaden Patel of Tampa Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) said “USF needs to increase its Black enrollment. Less than 10% of USF’s student population is Black, while almost 25% of Tampa is. This is essential to allowing the Black community to be able to develop and thrive.” Tampa SDS has been campaigning to hold the University of South Florida’s administration to account for the massive disparity in its enrollment of African American students.</p> <p>“Our community has always been the nest of everything wrong in this city. This import of dope, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the renting-while-Black program. All socially engineered by the city leaders from the beginning,” said Connie Burton of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and veteran Tampa activist of the oppression experienced by the local African American community</p> <p>Frank Chapman, chairman of the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression (NAARPR) and central committee member of the FRSO, who joined the panel over Zoom, discussed the ongoing struggle in Chicago around ECPS. “What’s going on in Chicago right now is the most important thing happening in the Black liberation movement today. Everyone here and across the country should be watching closely. The only way we will overcome police violence, the foot-soldiers of the ruling class, is through the people and allowing the people to have control over the police.”</p> <p>The panel emcee was Gareth Dawkins of the FRSO. She closed the event saying “This event should reaffirm everyone's dedication to the struggle of African Americans and all others oppressed by the U.S. empire. Through our unity we will consolidate and grow this movement.”</p> African-American Black History Month Black Liberation Tue, 07 Feb 2023 21:49:39 +0000 Fight Back 10241 at Drag Race season 15: The exploitation of queer performers and drag queens <p>Tallahassee, FL - For the last couple of months, I have binge-watched hundreds of hours of YouTube content related to <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em>. I find myself emotional watching drag queens lip sync to Demi Lovato’s, <em>Sorry Not Sorry</em>. It is excellent television. Seeing talented queer people, especially those of color, grace the screen moves one. Even Shangela's epic read of Mimi Imfurst brings me to tears. That read is absolute poetry.</p> <p>Going down the rabbit hole of <em>Drag Race</em>-related content, I found a video about <em>Drag Race’s</em> contracts between the show and the contestants.&nbsp;</p> <p>I’ve also been following a Jacksonville drag performer, Izzy “The Izzmaculate” A’Mon, who has been outspoken about the follies of <em>Drag Race</em>. Their statuses have inspired this article. I asked her what she thought about <em>Drag Race</em>, and she replied, “[I] want to start by saying I feel that <em>Drag Race</em> has done amazing things when it comes to giving visibility to the queer and drag community; it would be foolish to say otherwise. However, things could be improved.”</p> <p>What I learned absolutely shocked me - even though it isn’t shocking. It’s a familiar tale in the 1% society - stealing the labor power of those who work and exploiting LGBT people.&nbsp;</p> <p>Behind the beautifully beaten faces, the shimmer and chiffon, death-defying death drops, there is a dark side to this television show. The show has been accused of low pay for participants and creating a monopolization of drag, meaning that viewers conflate drag performance as a whole with <em>Drag Race</em>. This further limits viewers' understanding of drag and implies that there is only one type of drag performance or one way to do drag. Additionally, those participating in drag shows outside <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em> are not given proper credit or recognition. This exploitation of queer performers needs to be addressed if drag will be adequately appreciated and respected within our society. It's terrible already that reactionaries are committing terrorist acts against drag shows; the last thing we need is further exploitation of our community by mega-corporations like Paramount (the newest season is on MTV) and RuPaul.</p> <p>As the 15th season of <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em> begins, it's time to take a closer look at the show's impact on the world of drag performers. Let's delve deeper.</p> <p><strong>What is drag?</strong></p> <p>First, let's start with a very brief, incomplete history of drag. Drag is an art form that has been around since the early 1800s. It is a form of performance art that often involves dressing up in exaggerated clothing and makeup to exaggerate physical features and gender identity. Drag is rooted in queer culture and has historically been used to express creativity and affirm community.&nbsp;</p> <p>Drag has been a powerful form of expression for the LGBTQ community and has been used to challenge gender norms, create community, and fight for social justice. It has also become more mainstream recently, with drag queens and kings performing in nightclubs, television shows, and more, including children book reading (known as Drag Queen Story Hour - which has been the target of hate crimes and terrible legislation - but that is a whole other article).</p> <p>Drag has also allowed LGBTQ people of color to celebrate and express their identities in a society where they are often not accepted. While drag is a source of pride and liberation for many LGBTQ people, it also carries its challenges, including discrimination and exploitation.</p> <p>When primarily white pageants were racist to African American queens, performers like Crystal LaBeija were instrumental in creating new spaces for African Americans and Latino people - see the 1968 film <em>The Queen</em>. Films such as <em>Paris is Burning</em>, released in 1990, brought the vibrant world of drag and queer culture to the mainstream, highlighting the lives and struggles of its performers.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Paris is Burning</em> was the first of its kind and is credited with inspiring many of today’s drag queens. Its influence is seen in popular shows such as <em>Drag Race</em>, which brings drag performance into the limelight and has made drag more accessible to a broader audience. Despite the success of drag on television, the entertainment industry's exploitation of queer performers and drag queens persists.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What is <em>Drag Race</em>?</strong></p> <p><em>RuPaul’s Drag Race</em> is a reality television show created by famous drag queen RuPaul Charles-mononymous, known as just RuPaul. The show follows RuPaul's search for “America’s next drag superstar.” The show features RuPaul and a panel of judges evaluating performances from drag queens who compete in various challenges that involve singing, dancing, makeup artistry and fashion design while also bringing on their drag style and charisma.</p> <p>The format of each season typically involves multiple elimination rounds and an overall winner being crowned at the end of the season. The show has become a major hit and is credited with increasing mainstream awareness of drag and queer culture. It has been praised for its inclusiveness, though there have been some criticisms of transphobia.&nbsp;</p> <p>For example, RuPaul himself said, “You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing.” This statement was criticized by fans and members of the LGBTQ community, who rightfully felt it was exclusionary.</p> <p>However, despite this controversy, many trans women competed on the show, including <em>All Stars</em> Season 6 winner Kylie Sonique Love - the first transgender person to come out on reality TV. The first openly trans man on the show, Gotmikk, appeared in season 13. I would argue that this is very positive and increases the awareness of drag and queer culture. However, this representation comes at the expense of queer performers and drag queens.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Financial exploitation</strong></p> <p>The contestants are not only judged on their performances, but they are also subject to the harsh contracts they must sign to be on the show. YouTuber BussyQueen provided a very detailed breakdown of the contract. The agreement includes language allowing the production to use what’s filmed on television and in advertising and that there is “no expectation of privacy.”</p> <p>Additionally, cast members are paid $400 per episode for their first season, and their pay can increase by 5% for future seasons. According to Reality Blurred, "if an eliminated queen is only shown in a flashback or the ‘previously on <em>RuPaul’s Drag Race</em>’ segment, they’re not paid for that episode."</p> <p>Contestants on <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em> are expected to come in looking their best, which often requires a lot of money. According to Vice, contestants can spend anywhere from $4000 to $20,000 of their own money to prepare for the show.</p> <p>Furthermore, these performers must also pay for their costuming, makeup, travel expenses, and more. This has led to an unfortunate situation where some drag performers have been taken advantage of and left with little to no compensation for their work on the show.</p> <p>I asked A’Mon what she thought about this: “As the show gains more popularity, focus is put more on people that look good on camera. Is this a bad thing? As a working queen who hasn't been on TV, it can be very difficult to be held to those standards because people see it on TV. <em>Drag Race</em> is motivated to encourage queens to essentially go into debt for this once-in-a-lifetime (unless you look at those contracts) opportunity causing performers to show up in bigger and bigger costumes every year. Every look needs to have its own wig, jewelry, nails, and shoe and the show has actually gone out of its way to call out performers for reusing elements on the show.”</p> <p>The financial strain of competing on <em>Drag Race</em> can be immense, especially for those who have yet to establish fan bases. While being on the show can open many doors, it can also put contestants into debt if they fail to win or secure post-show sponsorships.</p> <p>The show's first season started with a cash prize of $20,000, and over time the prize increased, with season 15’s award at $200,000.&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, this kind of financial investment into drag is a relatively modern concept. According to a 2021 Vice article, drag queens wore vintage clothing until the 80s and the 90s. Drag performers were socially and financially marginalized, making accessing quality materials or resources for their costumes difficult. As Fitzgerald and Marquez put it, "trans women and queer men couldn’t walk into a department store and buy dresses. It was easier and safer to look for a size 13 pump in a used store than to go into the ladies section. The underground aspect of drag defined the aesthetic for a very long time."</p> <p><strong>Adore Delano sues</strong></p> <p>The realities of financial exploitation don't end there. Adore Delano, a former contestant in <em>RuPaul’s Drag Race</em>, sued Producers Entertainment Group, his former management, for allegedly stealing millions of dollars.</p> <p>Delano claims that he was forced to sign an overly restrictive contract that prevented him from talking publicly about his experience on the show. He also claims that he was not given any privacy and was filmed at all times without his consent. Furthermore, Delano claims that WOW refused to pay him for his work despite having made millions of dollars in profits from its syndication, merchandise, tours and music.&nbsp;</p> <p>YouTuber BussyQueen has exposed the shadiness of the contract. The contract signed with World of Wonder and Viacom gives the company’s total control over them and the content they create, which is a significant disadvantage to the performers. It's a clear case of exploitation and a monopoly of drag that goes against the essence of what drag is supposed to be - a form of creative expression celebrated by the community and meant to lift queer people.</p> <p>This is the show using the image of queens for the benefit of RuPaul and the megacorporation Paramount. Low pay makes it difficult for queer performers to make a living off of drag without playing ball with RuPaul, World of Wonder, and its management. As a result, there is leveraging or bargaining power at the point at which they will negotiate. The contract states the split rate is to be negotiated in good faith between the producer and the contestant by industry standards.</p> <p><strong>RuPaul owns you</strong></p> <p>In addition to the contractual obligations, it has recently come to light that <em>RuPaul’s Drag Race</em> contestants are also bound by a provision that requires them to use their Instagram profiles to promote the show. The contract requires that the performers “grant the Producer a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, irrevocable, sub licensable license to reproduce, transmit, display and distribute your name, image, and likeness in and in connection with the Series.” This means that for as long as the show is on air or as long as the producers wish, they can use contestants' names, images and likenesses without providing compensation or royalty payments. This can even extend to using images posted on contestants’ Instagram profiles. Furthermore, contestants must ask producers for permission to appear in non-WOW media.</p> <p>On the one hand, <em>Drag Race</em> has created a platform for many talented performers who might not have had an opportunity otherwise. On the other hand, it has restricted how these performers can express themselves and has enabled an atmosphere of exploitation and control.</p> <p>This control over the public life of queer performers is exploitative and monopolizes further drag culture by giving the producer an additional platform to push their show. By controlling what the queens post on their Instagram profiles and using those posts to promote their brand, they are creating an atmosphere where drag becomes synonymous with <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em> and its associated merchandise. This restricts the potential for drag to grow and develop outside of the show's influence, preventing independent performers from finding success in their own right.</p> <p>As A’Mon puts it, “<em>Drag Race</em> showcases a specific type of drag. With the exception of a recent runway done by Victoria Scone - <em>Drag Race's</em> first AFAB queen - there has never been a drag king on the show. Until the most recent season of <em>Drag Race UK</em> there had not been a bearded queen on an English-speaking iteration of the show. These are very common forms of drag that are not being highlighted; therefore, fans of the show don't know they exist and don't know how to respond to them when they encounter them in their local scene.”</p> <p>In addition, the producer could exercise their rights to require you to appear in a future show season up to four years after your final episode airs. And they are not obligated to pay you any additional compensation or royalties for this participation. This provision gives the producers an extreme amount of control over the lives of queer performers and drags queens. It restricts their ability to develop as independent artists, forcing them to rely on the show for success.</p> <p>According to BussyQueen, a clause in <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em> contract states that the show's producers may force a queen to appear in an episode no later than four years after the initial exhibition of the final episode in the immediately preceding cycle. This means a season 14 cast member may receive a call up to four years after that season's finale, requiring them to appear in a future season.</p> <p>Bussy explains that each subsequent participation in a future cycle resets the four-year clock.</p> <p>As Bussy pointed out, signing this non-disclosure agreement could mean they just signed away for the next 20 years of their life.</p> <p><em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em> is one of the most successful television shows in the world, and it’s clear to see why. The show is entertaining and showcases some of the most talented drag queens worldwide. However, its success has led to the creation of a franchise with an array of spin-off series and international editions.</p> <p>From its initial success, various international editions have sprung up in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Thailand, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, the Philippines, Belgium, Sweden, Mexico, Germany, and Brazil. In addition to these installments, international “vs. the World” competitions have been hosted in the UK and Canada.</p> <p>The creation of these spin-off series has allowed RuPaul and his production company, World of Wonder (WOW), to create a monopoly on drag culture. This includes other properties such as YouTube shows Fashion Photo Review, UNHhhh, and Pit Stop. Not to mention DragCon. As a result, RuPaul and WOW are now the sole proprietors of drag culture, dictating what is accepted as ‘drag’ or ‘good drag’ through their platforms. This monopolization of drag culture gives them control over the industry, allowing them to exploit queer performers and drag queens for their benefit.</p> <p>Because of the platform provided by <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em>, many performers have no choice but to try out for the show if they want to be successful. If someone can cut the show, immense pressure can lead to burnout or mental health issues.</p> <p>Finally, even after a queen leaves the show, they are still subject to the strict NDA, meaning they cannot talk about their experience on the show without risk of legal repercussions. The NDA also stipulates that contestants can face financial penalties or disqualification from the competition if contestants break it. This lack of freedom and accountability leads to further questions about the exploitation of queer performers and drag queens in <em>RuPaul’s Drag Race</em>.</p> <p>This exploitation needs to be addressed, so that drag queens and queer performers can express themselves without being taken advantage of. Companies prioritize profit over people in today's capitalist society, exploiting queer performers and drag queens.</p> <p>We need a better society where artists are not exploited. It doesn't just end with <em>Drag Race</em>. For example, HBO Max canceled dozens of cartoons with no notice. Overnight, cartoonists had no jobs and lost access to wages and benefits. Those creators do not even own the rights to their own images.&nbsp;</p> <p>There must be consequences for those companies who fail to abide by basic workers’ rights; otherwise, there will continue to be exploitative practices taking place within the industry. I won't argue for a <em>RuPaul’s Drag Race</em> contestants union, but the show would not be a multi-million success without the drag queens.</p> <p>Perhaps, through organized worker power, there can be steps taken toward economic justice for all involved with <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em>; financially compensating drag queens fairly for their work and ensuring proper contracts are in place to protect them.</p> <p><em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em> is a particular instance in the general scheme that is capitalism. These political systems affect our lives because that is how our society is currently organized. Everything we consume, every way we work, and every day we live are because of a profit-driven system, including even the things we watch eating Ben Jerry's in pajamas.</p> <p><strong>Another world is possible</strong></p> <p>In Cuba, there is a state-sponsored pageant for drag queens and transgender performers called Miss Transgender Star. Cuba has recently passed inclusive LGBT legalization that legalizes same-sex unions, gay adoption, and provisions against gender violence.</p> <p>It’s surprising to some that Cuba has such a progressive attitude toward the LGBT community. As one LGBT blog, Dallas Voice, stated, “When I think of enlightened and progressive countries regarding LGBT rights, Cuba has never ranked very high on the list. But it looks like I need to rethink my attitude.” The fact that LGBTQ people aren’t even aware of Cuba’s LGBT support is propaganda of the 1%</p> <p>There have been errors in the way that Cuba treated LGBTQ people. However, there has been a push by the government to rectify those errors. Since 2007, Cuba has commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia. It runs for two weeks. Feel free to look for more information about Mariela Castro Espín--the lesbian daughter of Fidel Castro and noted transgender theorist - who has been instrumental to this push for LGBTQ liberation.</p> <p>This contrasts with Florida, where gender-affirming care for transgender adults is no longer covered by Medicaid. In Texas, there is talk of legislation to ban drag shows. In North Carolina, vandals destroyed electrical substations in response to an 18+ drag show.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even in Tallahassee, where I reside, a Florida man has been arrested by the FBI in connection with a mass shooting threat against LGBTQ people at Florida State University. FSU has yet to make a statement.&nbsp;</p> <p>Under capitalism, the 1% will parade drag queens and celebrate themselves for the most basic LGBTQ representation while at the same time allowing legislative and physical attacks against LGBTQ people.</p> <p><strong>What's next?</strong></p> <p>I won't judge anyone for watching <em>Drag Race</em> (I will be watching pirated versions). However, as viewers of <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em>, it is our responsibility to be more informed about the exploitation of drag queens that has taken place. We need to look beyond the glamour and glitter of the show and become more aware of how drag performers are taken advantage of.</p> <p>We should look for inspiration from countries like Cuba. We need to be involved in political work that addresses the issues that LGBTQ people face.</p> <p>We should support local drag artists and performers, who are often overlooked and underpaid. It is also essential to learn more about the history of drag and how people of color have helped to push gender performance and drag to the forefront (e.g., voguing and vernacular).</p> <p>Additionally, we must call attention to specific issues surrounding <em>Drag Race</em>, such as lack of privacy, economic exploitation, and contractual obligations. We need to support labor and workers' rights as a whole.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ultimately, we must remember that <em>RuPaul's Drag Race</em> is a television show with real consequences for its contestants. We must demand better treatment for queer performers, from more transparent contracts to fair compensation for their work.</p> <p><em>Regina Joseph (she/her) is a Tallahassee activist with over ten years of political work under her belt. She also watches too much TV.</em></p> <p><em>Izzy A’Mon (she/they) is a Jacksonville drag performer. You can follow her on social media platforms @theizzyamon.</em></p> LGBTQ drag LGBTQ Pride Tue, 07 Feb 2023 21:42:46 +0000 Fight Back 10240 at Protesters turn out for Tyre Nichols and all victims of police murders in New Orleans <p>New Orleans, LA - On Monday, January 30, 100 demonstrators rallied at city hall to call for justice for Tyre Nichols and all victims of police crimes. They then marched to Jackson Square, a tourist hub in the French Quarter. Malikah Asante-Chioke spoke about her father who was killed by Louisiana state police.&nbsp;</p> <p>Toni Mar, representing New Orleans for Community Oversight of Police (NOCOP), denounced the killings.&nbsp;</p> <p>As the demonstrators marched through the French Quarter they chanted slogans such as “When killer cops are on patrol, what do you demand? Community control!”&nbsp;</p> <p>NOCOP members passed out literature calling for the New Orleans city council to adopt a measure for Citizen Police Accountability Council. They announced a follow-up demonstration for the next day. The next protest called for the firing and conviction of NOPD officer Gerry Paul, who has been charged with rape.</p> Brutalidad Policial Black Lives Matter New Orleans for Community Oversight of the Police (NOCOP) Tyre Nichols Tue, 07 Feb 2023 21:07:20 +0000 Fight Back 10239 at Jacksonville demands justice for Tyre Nichols <p>Jacksonville FL- On January 29, the Jacksonville Community Action Committee alongside 80 energized community members rallied to demand accountability and justice. Cities around the nation are organizing in response to not only the release of horrific bodycam footage capturing the slaying of Tyre Nichols, but local struggles as well.</p> <p>Across the country police brutality persists, but the masses continue to hit the streets to stand up against the violence. The bodycam footage depicting the brutal killing of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop raises important concerns regarding police accountability and institutional racism. Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith were all fired and later arrested on murder and other charges.</p> <p>However, police violence continues to escalate the further militarization of police departments as a pushback to demands of accountability. In Atlanta “Cop City,” a nickname given to a proposed law enforcement training center, will become a national hub for police to continue to learn repressive tactics.</p> <p>Jacksonville has already endured two deaths this year related to officer-involved shootings. The Jacksonville Community Action Committee and other community organizations such as the UNF Students for a Democratic Society, Northside Coalition, and Black Power Rising, spoke out on Sunday, calling for accountability, justice and public safety.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We should be able to investigate when one of our community members is killed,” Michael Sampson explains the Public Safety Oversight Committee, a planned ballot initiative to put power back in the peoples’ hands and serve as a launch point towards community control. There are already 18 cities in Florida with some form of civilian review.&nbsp;</p> <p>Shirley McDaniels, mother of Vernell “Lil Red” Bing Jr. who was killed by a JSO officer, said “We need this in our community. At some point in time we gotta gain justice,” in regards to forming the committee.</p> <p>Chants of “Enough is enough” echoed through the crowd.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We have to demand better from our city. We should not have to fear the people who protect and serve us,” said Brian Jefferson II, member of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee.</p> <p>Christina Kittle stated, “This is just the first step.” The Public Safety Oversight Committee is not the complete solution, but it is the first step to putting power back in the hands of the people.&nbsp;</p> <p>You can stay up-to-date on local actions in Jacksonville by following @Jaxtakesaction on social media or visiting</p> Brutalidad Policial jail killer cops Stop Police Crimes Tyre Nichols Tue, 07 Feb 2023 18:43:03 +0000 Fight Back 10237 at Colorado Springs protest demands justice for Tyre Nichols and all victims of police crimes <p>Colorado Springs, CO - On February 4, a crowd of protesters gathered at the Colorado Springs City Hall to demand justice for Tyre Nichols. The action was called by the Colorado Springs People’s Coalition (CSPC), an affiliate of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. The event was also attended by members of Students for a Democratic Society, along with local community members and their children.</p> <p>The protest started with a speech from Brandon Rincon, founder of CSPC. “We’re here to stand in solidarity with Memphis protesters and to bring more awareness to police crimes in Colorado Springs.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Rincon then read a prepared statement of solidarity from Dalvin Gadson, a homeless veteran who was beaten by the Colorado Springs Police Department in October of 2022. A call to action was made for those present to join organizations fighting against police crimes. After the speeches, the protesters marched to CSPD headquarters, chanting “Cops kill while on patrol, what do we need? Community Control!” and “Black lives matter!”</p> <p>After arriving at CSPD headquarters, the protesters held a moment of silence before marching back to City Hall. The calls for community control of the police echoed through the city.</p> Brutalidad Policial Black Lives Matter Stop Police Crimes Tyre Nichols Tue, 07 Feb 2023 18:31:24 +0000 Fight Back 10236 at Community rallies for hunger strikers at Tacoma Northwest Detention Center <p>Tacoma, WA - On Saturday, February 4, over 50 people came to support the ongoing hunger strikes occurring in the Northwest Detention Center. The detention center is operated by the GEO group, sanctioned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.</p> <p>This solidarity action was organized by La Resistencia NW to support the undocumented people detained inside. The crowd chanted, “Chinga la migra” and “Estan no solos - you are not alone!” Several detainees video-called the crowd to express their gratitude and to explain their predicament.</p> <p>In the NWDC, over 100 people went on hunger strike for the most basic of demands. These included real and healthy food, regular mealtimes, low commissary prices, clean spaces, genuine COVID-19 preventative measures, be paid for their work, haircuts, clean clothing, decent bedding, medical care, real attention from ICE, and no retaliation for the hunger strikes.</p> <p>“ICE should be held responsible for GEO's gassing of the undocumented people detained inside,” said Maru Mora from La Resistencia.&nbsp;</p> <p>In response to their hunger strike, GEO agents in riot gear barged into their cells and pepper sprayed detainees until the mirrors turned yellow. After that attack, they were not provided a change of clothes until the following morning. ICE made concessions by providing some cell blocks with adequate food, however, they did the exact same tactic in May. As punishment, certain prisoners were taken to medical in handcuffs while others were placed in solitary.</p> <p>“Regardless of the cold and the rain, getting all wet and freezing, it’s worth it knowing that we are fighting for our friends and family locked inside, that are being treated so poorly. The suffering that we are facing out here is nothing compared to what they have to face,” said Ma Leónides Perez. She is the mother of Santiago Perez, who has been detained by ICE for four years. She has been at the Northwest Detention Center almost every day since in solidarity with her son.</p> <p>La Resistencia is calling on the community to email <a href=""></a> and <a href=""></a> to demand that they stop providing a good breakfast with one unit, while denying it to others.</p> prison industrial complex Sistema de injusticia Tue, 07 Feb 2023 16:12:59 +0000 Fight Back 10235 at Twin Cites rally demands freedom for Leonard Peltier <p>Minneapolis MN - One hundred people rallied in front of the federal courthouse in Minneapolis on February 6 to demand freedom for Leonard Peltier. Peltier is the longest-held indigenous political prisoner in the U.S. Human rights activists worldwide have repeatedly called for his release.</p> <p>Nick Estes of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee said, "Today we are standing with a dozen or so rallies across the world at courthouses and embassies in solidarity with Leonard Peltier. This is the day he was arrested by the RCMP and so we count this day as the first day of his incarceration. He is entering his 48th year of imprisonment," adding, "We have all the ‘right’ people on our side, from a former federal prosecutor to the United Nations and still justice hasn't prevailed. Power resides with the people, and we must exercise that to see him free."&nbsp;</p> <p>Rally emcee Rachel Thunder talked about of the historic fight for justice that the American Indian Movement (AIM) waged on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota against both the tribal government goon squad and the U.S. government. After what is sometimes referred to as the incident at Oglala, the AIM member Peltier was convicted of murder in a grossly unfair trial.</p> <p>Mike Forcia of AIM said, "We are united to stand with Peltier. Let him go now. Our voices and drums and songs will be heard."</p> <p>Rachel Thunder echoed that sentiment, adding that, like fingers of a hand, separated we are weak but together we are strong and powerful.</p> <p>For further information on the case and what you can do <a href=" ">;</a></p> Leonard Peltier Leonard Peltier Political prisoners Tue, 07 Feb 2023 05:41:49 +0000 Fight Back 10234 at Against Trotskyism: The theory of permanent revolution <p>When Lenin gave his brief and scathing overview of Trotsky’s career in his 1914 article “Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity,” so that “the younger generation of workers should know exactly whom they are dealing with,” he made a point of referring to Trotsky’s “absurdly Left ‘permanent revolution’ theory.” What is the role of this “permanent revolution” theory within Trotskyism, and why is it “absurdly Left,” as Lenin says?</p> <p>Karl Marx himself said in his 1850 address to the Communist League,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">While the democratic petty bourgeois want to bring the revolution to an end as quickly as possible, achieving at most the aims already mentioned, it is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent until all the more or less propertied classes have been driven from their ruling positions, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far – not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world – that competition between the proletarians of these countries ceases and at least the decisive forces of production are concentrated in the hands of the workers.</p> <p>The Trotskyites will always bring out this quote as evidence of the “orthodoxy” on the question. Why then does Lenin characterize the Trotskyist interpretation as “absurdly Left” if this is the case?</p> <p>To understand this, we need to look concretely at the revolutionary movement in Russia. While everyone agreed that the first order of business was the bourgeois-democratic revolution against the tsar, after that things get more complex.</p> <p>The Mensheviks argued that the bourgeois-democratic revolution should be led by the liberal bourgeoisie with the support of the working class. It should lead, according to the Mensheviks, to the formation of a capitalist republic, which would develop the productive forces and set the conditions for a socialist revolution, to come much later.</p> <p>Trotsky explained his view in the essay “The Three Conceptions of the Russian Revolution.” According to Trotsky,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The perspective of the permanent revolution may be summed up in these words: The complete victory of the democratic revolution in Russia is inconceivable otherwise than in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat basing itself on the peasantry. The dictatorship of the proletariat, which will inescapably place on the order of the day not only democratic but also socialist tasks, will at the same time provide a mighty impulse to the international socialist revolution. Only, the victory of the proletariat in the West will shield Russia from bourgeois restoration and secure for her the possibility of bringing the socialist construction to its conclusion.</p> <p>Lenin opposed both the Menshevik and the Trotskyite formulation. Against the Mensheviks, Lenin insisted that the proletariat could, and must, lead the revolution against feudal autocracy and tsarism. Against Trotsky’s view, Lenin advocated for revolution in two stages by leading the peasantry against the feudal autocracy and then against the bourgeoisie. Lenin argued that the first stage would be followed immediately by the second, and indeed it was, with the February Revolution to overthrow the Tsar in 1917 followed by the socialist revolution against the bourgeoisie in October. For Lenin, this relied on the strategic alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry, the “revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.”</p> <p>Trotsky wrote in “The Permanent Revolution,” that “I accused Lenin of overestimating the independent role of the peasantry. Lenin accused me of underestimating the revolutionary role of the peasantry.” Trotsky argued that the revolution, in the socialist period, would inevitably form an antagonistic contradiction between the proletariat and the peasantry, leading the peasants to abandon and even to oppose the socialist revolution. The socialist revolution, according to Trotsky, would "have to make extremely deep inroads not only into feudal but also into bourgeois property relations," leading into inevitable conflict with the masses of peasants. Indeed, according to Trotsky, “The contradictions in the position of a workers' government in a backward country with an overwhelmingly peasant population could be solved only the arena of the world proletarian revolution.” In other words, as a result of this inevitable antagonism between the proletariat and the peasantry, the revolution in Russia was doomed to failure unless the revolution was spread immediately to Western Europe.</p> <p>For Lenin, the dictatorship of the proletariat in the world’s first socialist country has a special character. “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a special form of class alliance between the proletariat, the vanguard of the toilers, and the numerous nonproletarian strata of the toilers (the petty bourgeoisie, the small craftsman, the peasantry, the intelligentsia, etc.) or the majority of these.” Lenin believed that the revolution depended on the unity of the toiling masses, of the working class together with the poor peasants. Harry Haywood points out that “Trotsky portrayed the peasantry as an undifferentiated mass. He made no distinction between the masses of peasants who worked their own land (the muzhiks) and the exploiting strata who hired labor (the kulaks).” Haywood goes on to point out that this is in contradiction to the Leninist analysis and strategy of the worker-peasant alliance and is “at complete variance with any realistic economic or social analysis.”</p> <p>Because of this, Trotskyism holds that socialism couldn’t be built in a single country, but that it must sweep away the entire capitalist and imperialist system at once. This is what characterizes Trotsky’s theory as “absurdly Left.” It sounds very revolutionary, but at its core it doesn’t coincide with facts. Indeed, Marx argued that socialism must take hold “not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world.” There is nothing controversial about that. But Trotsky mistakes the final victory of socialism for the present task of the revolution. It is all or nothing.</p> <p>For the Trotskyists, “permanent revolution” is held up as a matter of principle, but in reality, it is an abstraction based on the underestimation of the peasantry and a fundamental failure to understand who the allies of the working class are. As Lenin’s wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, said in 1925, “Marxist analysis was never Comrade Trotsky’s strong point. This is the reason why he so under-estimates the role played by the peasantry.”</p> <p>Harry Haywood put this another way:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Behind Trotsky's revolutionary rhetoric was a simplistic social-democratic view which regarded the class struggle for socialism as solely labor against capital. This concept of class struggle did not regard the struggle of peasant against landlord, or peasant against the Czar, as a constituent part of the struggle for socialism. This was reflected as early as 1905, in Trotsky's slogan, "No Czar, but a Workers' Government," which, as Stalin had said, was "the slogan of revolution without the peasantry."</p> <p>This is a problem that arises again and again for the Trotskyists, as they lead with abstractions instead of concrete Marxist analysis, coming to erroneous positions on the socialist countries and the national-colonial question, both in the U.S. and in the anti-imperialist national liberation struggles abroad.</p> <p>In the following articles, we’ll look more closely at the Leninist theory of revolution in two stages and then at the possibility of building socialism in a single country, and how these differed from the Trotskyite view. In any case, Trotsky and his followers have been sidelined by the course of history, while Marxism-Leninism has been proved in practice again and again.</p> Against Trotskyism Marxism-Leninism ML Theory Mon, 06 Feb 2023 03:04:50 +0000 Fight Back 10233 at