Workers Vanguard No. 876
15 September 2006
The BT and the Fight to Free Mumia
6 September 2006
The article For Class-Struggle Defense to Free Mumia Now! in WV No. 875 (1 September) really nails the International Bolshevik Tendency (BT) for its attempts to smear the Partisan Defense Committee and its defense of Mumia, as well as the gross opportunism of the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (LAC), in which the BT has been a key player since its inception. Their latest lying missive is on display in the BT website posting, On Recent Spartacist League Polemics, complaining of the SLs apparent desire to avoid working with us in defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal. This was posted on 1 September—one week after the PDC advised LAC in writing of its endorsement of their September 15 rally in Oakland.
An earlier WV article, For a Class-Struggle Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! (WV No. 872, 9 June), noted that the May 2000 LAC-initiated Labor Conference for Mumia adopted a resolution to lobby delegates at the Democratic National Convention to pass a motion calling for a new trial for Mumia and called on the Justice Department to investigate Mumias case. In response, a 5 July letter to WV from Jason Wright of the BT takes umbrage at this.
It seems that we stung them in exposing the truth of the gross opportunism of the LAC. Wright pompously protests that BT supporters opposed calling for a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and voted against all such resolutions.
An extensive report on the May 2000 LAC conference, Labor Conference Calls for Action: Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal (labournet.net/mumia/0007/labcnf1.html), by Howard Keylor, a well-known BT supporter, describes in detail how the LAC sought to shamelessly lobby the racist, capitalist, pro-death-penalty Democratic Party on the eve of the 2000 DNC convention in Los Angeles. Under a bold subheading, For a Broad Labor Campaign, Keylor reports on the motion introduced by Bob Mandel (who for a long time was a BT supporter—not sure of his current proximity to the BT) and nary a breath of criticism from Keylor will darken the brows of these class-struggle heroes:
Bob Mandel then presented a resolution condemning the appointment of Ed Rendell as the General Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Rendell was the Philadelphia District Attorney when Mumia was railroaded, and has continued to play an active role in seeking his execution. Rendell also turned a blind eye to the systematic exclusion of African-Americans for Philadelphia juries, and helped plan and execute the aerial bombing of the MOVE house which resulted in the deaths of 11 people, and the destruction of an entire city block.
Rendells ascension to power in the Democratic Party (he also aims to be governor of Pennsylvania) is emblematic of the pro-death penalty racism entrenched at the top of both capitalist parties. Republican front-runner George W Bush may have murdered more people as Texas governor, including the recent execution of Shaka Sankofa (Gary Graham); but Bill Clinton interrupted his presidential campaign in 1992 to preside over the execution of a black inmate in Arkansas who was mentally retarded. Al Gore and governors such as Gray Davis in California are also staunch death-penalty supporters. Without in any way endorsing support for the Democratic Party, the resolution on Rendell was amended to ask unions to call on any of their members who are delegates to the Democratic Partys August convention in LA to raise motions calling for a new trial for Mumia as well as condemning Rendells appointment.
The motion was further amended with a final resolved, that all locals and union members be urged to join the protests that will be held outside the Democratic Party Convention. The resolution passed as amended.
Some labor campaign! The BT wants to distance itself from this, but it doesnt wash. Far from criticizing Mandels lobbying of the racist, pro-death-penalty Democratic Party and urging trade unions to push the Dems for a new trial, Keylor whitewashes the motion, saying, Without in any way endorsing support for the Democratic Party.... Pressuring the Democratic Party and lobbying for a new trial were the core of the political program that has demobilized the supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the urgent struggle for his freedom; this program continues to be an obstacle. At its heart is reliance on the capitalist state and the forces that are arrayed against Mumia and aim to execute him.
Wright slaps on his own layer of whitewash whining that the LAC did not put forward, or support, any such resolutions and the comrades of the IBT voted against all of them. As we pointed out in Workers Vanguard, in our exposure of this wretched conference (No. 740, 25 August 2000), the liquidationist conclusion of LACs resolution boiled down to begging delegates at the DNC to give their party—and the bourgeois state apparatus—a facelift by appointing a new DNC chairman. (This went a little too far for the IBT, which had supported an earlier motion just to condemn Rendells appointment—i.e., the IBT only wanted a facial.)
Oh—lest we forget! Keylor did (cynically) report a few paragraphs later that in another resolution for a day of labor action to free Mumia, a delegate wanted to substitute new trial instead of free Mumia, but, as was pointed out, there is no guarantee that a new trial will ever happen, or, if it does, that it wouldnt be a repetition of the same frame-up as happened the first time around. Meet the BT at play: new trial good, new trial bad. Who cares as long as questions of political principle dont disturb their cozy relationships with union bureaucrats and assorted very fake leftists of the Bob Mandel ilk.
This is the dishonest and cowardly modus operandi so typical of the dubious BT and its friends. From their website and at our public events, which they attend obsessively, they portray themselves as oh-so-orthodox Marxists, but they swim comfortably in the reformist swamp, bowing and scraping to their labour reformist pals. Their monomaniacal hatred of our revolutionary Trotskyist party is, quite simply, their admission ticket.