Socialists for Hawkins

Socialists for Hawkins

For immediate release: July 31, 2018

Socialists Endorse Hawkins

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for New York Governor, received the endorsement of three socialist organizations this week: Socialist Party USA (SPUSA), Solidarity, and the International Socialist Organization (ISO).

When he announced his campaign in April, Hawkins declared he would campaign as an eco-socialist. “We need the economic democracy of socialism for real solutions to the crises of the climate, growing inequality, and political domination by the billionaire class. Capitalism’s blind, relentless growth is destroying the environment. Capitalism's exploitation of labor makes the rich richer and leaves the rest of us struggling to pay our bills and stay in our homes. Capitalism’s concentrated wealth translates into concentrated political power for the rich and the giant banks and corporations. These radical problems require radical remedies,” Hawkins said.

“I am encouraged to see more and more candidates like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and now even Cynthia Nixon identify themselves as democratic socialists. Their policies, however, are really old-fashioned liberalism. They exclude a central tenet of the socialist tradition, which is to replace capitalism with a new and democratic economic system based on social ownership of the major means of production. But they have opened up a long-stifled discussion of socialism among progressives, and especially young people, for whom the status quo isn’t working,” Hawkins said.

“Socialism would employ the economic democracy of social ownership to distribute income more equitably according to labor contribution and to use economic planning to ensure a decent standard of living for all on an ecologically sustainable basis,” Hawkins said. "Socialism is not government programs as opposed to private enterprises. The key to socialism is democracy — democratic control of public enterprises and cooperatives in the private sector.”

"The Socialist Party is excited to endorse longtime party member, Howie Hawkins, for Governor of New York,” said Greg Pason, the party’s National Secretary. "We are committed to supporting vibrant socialist campaigns that run independent of and against the Democratic and Republican Parties. Especially in a state where committed Democrats have co-opted the socialist label and shamelessly misled people who are desperate for a radical alternative, we are proud to stand behind a candidate who has been crystal clear on the need to challenge the twin parties of capitalism and build a mass movement beyond them."

“The International Socialist Organization is proud to endorse the campaign of Howie Hawkins and Jia Lee,” said Jen Roesch, an ISO organizer in New York City. "Our member Brian Jones ran as Hawkins’ running mate in 2014 when they gathered the most votes for a third party campaign in decades. New Yorkers are fed up with 8 years of Cuomo’s neoliberal austerity and they deserve a truly independent socialist alternative that is prepared to fight Cuomo to the finish.”

"Howie Hawkins has spent his life fighting for working class power in the workplace and in the political arena. Jia Lee has been a leader in the fight against charter schools and high stakes testing – she has proven she can fight Cuomo and win. Their campaign is an important opportunity for socialists to put forward a bold vision for working class New York and we encourage anyone who shares their vision to join it,” Roesch said.

“Solidarity, a social-feminist organization, sends its greetings and endorsement of Howie Hawkins' campaign for New York governor on the Green Party ticket. We are proud to have been endorsers of your previous campaigns and to do so again. Howie Hawkins’ campaign is an important contribution to the hard struggle for genuinely independent politics, for a genuine progressive program, and above all for a sustainable environmental future for humanity, and our fellow species, on our planet,” said an endorsement statement from Solidarity.

Hawkins is a member of both the Socialist Party and Solidarity and has written for the publications and spoken at the conferences of the ISO. Jia Lee, Hawkins’ running mate for Lt. Governor, is a member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

Hawkins’ commitment to socialism goes back to his high school activism in the late 1960s when he learned about democratic socialism from the Independent Socialist Clubs in Berkeley. The Independent Socialists played an influential role in civil rights activism, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, Students for a Democratic Society, and founding the California Peace and Freedom Party. Their strategy emphasized independent politics at home and building a “third camp” of democratic socialism in international affairs that opposed both sides of the Cold War, the capitalist West and the Stalinist East. Members of the 1960s Independent Socialist Clubs were influential in forming both the ISO in 1977 and Solidarity in 1986.

Hawkins joined the Socialist Party USA in 1973 shortly after it formed in the wake of a three-way split in 1972 in the old Socialist Party of America (SPA), whose leaders had included Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas, and A. Philip Randolph. The SPA divided over the questions of Vietnam and independent politics. The SPUSA stood for independent politics and immediate withdrawal from Vietnam. Its early leaders included Frank Zeidler, the Socialist mayor of Milwaukee from 1948 to 1960, and anti-war activist David McReynolds, who would later be the Green candidate for U.S. Senator from New York in 2004.

The group that became today’s DSA, led by authors Michael Harrington and Irving Howe, was also for immediate withdrawal, but stood for entering the Democratic Party, a position now under debate in today’s DSA.  The third group, Social Democrats USA (SDUSA), also favored influencing the Democrats, but supported the war while negotiations continued. SDUSA became a small organizational home for cold warriors and social conservatives who supported progressive economic policies. In the last decade, SDUSA has moved away from militarism and social conservatism and opened up to independent politics and working with DSA, SPUSA, and other democratic socialist groups.

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