Views in brief

February 5, 2019

We can be critical of the U.S. and Maduro

IN A recent article, “Protesting the main enemy,” Elizabeth Dean and Seth Uzman criticize the response to the ongoing coup attempt in Venezuela on and on Socialist Worker’s Twitter account (@SocialistViews) as “mealymouthed.”

With respect to the latter, they claim that there was “only one tweet giving a straightforward condemnation of U.S. interference in Venezuela,” and they argue that in the current political context, we should downplay our criticisms of the Maduro government.

As the people responsible for posting most of the tweets on @SocialistViews, we reject this characterization of what we tweeted and, more importantly, the underlying politics of Elizabeth and Seth’s criticisms.

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By our count, in the days following the Trump’s administration’s declaration of support for Juan Guaidó’s claim to be president, there were more than 10 tweets that condemned U.S. imperialism and all forms of outside intervention and meddling in Venezuela.

But we reject the idea that anti-imperialists should not also raise criticisms of Maduro’s authoritarian regime. The crucial point is that anti-imperialism is not conditional: We don’t oppose intervention only in cases where we approve of the government under attack. We oppose it on principle.

The Maduro government’s economic mismanagement, its high level of corruption and its crackdowns on its political opponents, including those on the left, have played a substantial role in creating the current crisis.

Of course, U.S. intervention in Venezuela will make the situation much, much worse and so socialists are implacably opposed to it. But that doesn’t mean that we should hide our criticisms of the Maduro government, especially when some on the left are falsely portraying it as a beacon of socialist hope.
Phil Gasper, Madison, Wisconsin, and Tyler Zimmer, Chicago

What we need to win a Green New Deal?

I HAVE spent a considerable amount of time with people from the Sunrise Movement Hub in Philadelphia and can say with certainty that although their strategy of working with the Democratic Party to push the Green New Deal (GND) has great energy right now, most of the people, including leadership, are merely using the party because of power and the recent history of relative progressive practices. It seems that most are very skeptical about the actual effectiveness of a Democratic Party GND.

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

If the Democrats continue to fail this movement of young people, the young people will desperately look for new options, so we need to have the alternative of building a powerful workers’ party that ties together all the struggles of the GND in the platform of a party born with no fossil fuel money.

I was at the first of three Washington, D.C., sit-ins with the movement in December where 51 of 150 demonstrators were arrested, and there was an incredible revolutionary energy among the group.

As a college student at Temple University, where we see the effects of environmental injustice every day, it was encouraging to see that kind of revolutionary energy from people of all colors, ages and economic backgrounds to come together in the name of our future on Earth.

Movements like this are not slowing down any time soon as the climate drastically changes and our representatives pocket cash, while they sit on their hands, blaming each other for the lack of action. We must be an ally in this movement, helping to guide the anti-capitalist energy into a party with an effective Green New Deal in its core.
Gabriel Timburg, Philadelphia

A betrayal of trans rights

THANKS TO Isabelle B. for telling the real story of transgender exclusion from civil rights legislation in New York State a decade and a half ago (“The bitersweetness of winning LGBT reforms”). I share her bittersweet reaction.

I remember vividly the cold night a few months after the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) passed with trans protection stripped out. As mainstream LGBT organizations and Democratic and Republican big shots celebrated the passage of SONDA at a fancy hotel, half a dozen of us trans activists stood outside in the snow, handing out leaflets denouncing our exclusion.

The pattern of trans exclusion continued long afterward. GENDA was introduced in Albany again and again, but went nowhere, probably because liberal politicians thought that trans people didn’t have enough money or influence to warrant spending any political capital on.

In 2007, the newly elected Democratic majorities in Congress prepared to vote on ENDA, the federal version of SONDA, which had been expanded to cover trans people. But at the last minute Rep. Barney Frank pulled trans people out of the bill, insisting that an inclusive bill could not pass.

Trans people quickly mobilized with LGBT and straight allies into the United ENDA coalition, which demanded inclusion. Frank and Speaker Nancy Pelosi were adamant, and they forced the gay-only version through the House. But the pro-trans resistance was strong enough to make exclusion too expensive politically, and the House-passed bill was never introduced in the Senate. It died at the end of session.

Eleven years later, LGBT people still lack federal anti-discrimination protection. Hopefully, the lessons of the past will be learned, and the mistakes and betrayals of the past not repeated.
Donna Cartwright, Baltimore

Will unions stand up to Amazon?

IN RESPONSE to “We know where Bezos gets his billions”: This is a painfully sad but powerful article, and one of the reasons I don’t shop or buy anything via Amazon.

Nevertheless, don’t expect the unions to be of tremendous help either. I work in transportation and we’re represented by a union, but good luck getting them to stand up to the bosses or actually do anything for its members when most of them are busy sucking up to management.

I definitely believe Amazon and all workplaces need to be organized, but we have to think beyond business unionism, and more toward revolution and ownership of these companies.

True, unions might get us a bit higher wages and some benefits and perks, but this environment of part-time, precarious work situations and poverty remain largely the same until workers unite to radically change their plight.
Martin B. Jones, Chicago