Although difficult 'how to do it' questions remain, attendees agreed with Leslie Cagan, United for Peace and Justice(UFPJ) coordinator, that the Left must make every effort to help build a broad Left/Center coalition that connects issues of peace and justice. Cagan underscored that this means mobilizing Left forces and taking Center voices seriously.

Carl Bloice, freelance journalist and member of the National Executive Committee of the Committees of
Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), agreed that Left/Center unity is a necessity to fight war, racism, and poverty.

He stressed that three pitfalls needed to be avoided. First, Left and progressive activists should not forget
that the system is in crisis because of the growing anger and activism of masses of people. (Frances Fox Piven, Professor, City University of New York, on the same panel documented the connection between mass protest and progressive public policy in the history of the United States).Second, activists must avoid factionalism on issues and ideology. And third, progressives must be prepared to challenge the "2006 betrayal of the Democrats," that is they must reject the Democratic Leadership Council Democrats who embrace the war in Iraq and cuts in social spending.

Fighting racism and white supremacy is central to the possibility of creating a progressive majority, added
Damu Smith, Black Voices for Peace. Addressing the racist corporate/government response to the devastation
of Hurricane Katrina 'is a litmus test for the progressive movement.' If there is to be a movement, it must incorporate the efforts of grassroots groups from the Gulf region who are trying to regain control of their lives and property from government. 'Katrina did not hit New Orleans', Smith said, 'FEMA hit New Orleans.' Reinforcing Smith, Chuck Turner, Boston City Councilman, issued a challenge to the peace movement to address the connections between the military-industrial complex and the lack of resources for the African American community.

Manning Marable, Professor, Columbia University, referred to the 'New Racial Domain,' a global political economy driven by transnational capitalism and state- enforced neo-liberal policies that rests 'on mass unemployment, mass incarceration, and mass disenfranchisement.' Each of these is related to the other two. Millions of dispossessed poor and people of color at home and abroad are increasingly marginalized at the same time that global capital seeks to privatize every institution and natural resource in the service of profit.

Elizabeth Rothschild, National Organizer, Young Democratic Socialists, also highlighted the relationship between struggling against racism and building a progressive majority. In addition, she related capitalism to racism, sexism, and the threat to democracy. 'Capitalism is an undemocratic global system of power distribution that reinforces and reproduces and exacerbates racism and sexism.' Democracy 'can only be attained when we challenge capitalist production- because democracy cannot be had in a system which requires massive poverty.' She outlined the ways in
which the system was tormenting youth:college costs are rising, student loans are declining, jobs are scarce for youth at all educational levels, and wages are low. For thousands of youth, military service, is the only remaining option.

The importance of rebuilding a trade union movement that comes from the grassroots was emphasized by Charles Ensley, President, Social Service Employees Union, Local 371, AFSCME and Bill Henning, Vice President, Communications Workers of America, Local 1180. Henning spoke of the influence of United States Labor Against the War (USLAW) on the recently endorsed AFL-CIO resolution opposing the Iraq war. Ensley made it clear that labor has resources, human and financial, to participate in a progressive coalition.

Michael Honey Professor and labor historian, connected the anti-racist movement of the 1960s to poor and working class movements of that day. He recalled that Dr. King was marching in solidarity with Memphis sanitation workers at the time when he was assassinated. The assassination occurred just days before the start of the Poor People's Campaign mobilization in Washington D.C. Honey suggested that a progressive majority today can build on the 1960s tradition, linking class, race, and gender.

In an inspiring keynote address, Amy Goodman, host and producer of Democracy Now, described the pain and
suffering of Iraqi's caused by the war and the fate of victims of the Gulf Coast hurricane. She compared the realities on the ground with the character of media coverage of these events. She credited some journalists with more accurate coverage of Hurricane Katrina compared with the pro-U.S. military coverage in Iraq.

The difference, she suggested, resulted from the fact that journalists were 'embedded' in Iraq and somewhat independent of government and military control in Louisiana and Mississippi. She insisted that progressives should work to build an independent media.

In the closing session, Charlene Mitchell, Co-Chair, CCDS, talked about the need for Left dialogue and action in this period of economic and political crisis. She said that people are angry and activists from the labor, anti-racist, peace, and socialist movements have an obligation to come together to help build a progressive movement based on an understanding of the connections between class, race, and gender.. The Symposium was important to begin the conversation, she suggested. Now it was time to move toward activism.

Envisioning some next steps, Joseph Wilson, Professor and Director, Center for Worker Education, CUNY, recommended that a national convention be called to launch the creation of a new national progressive coalition. He called for energies to be channeled toward the construction of radical think tanks to generate ideas for progressive social change. Finally, he endorsed the idea of recreating a progressive media, print and electronic, to better inform potential participants in a new progressive majority.

Symposium participants left energized by the presentations and dialogue, and expressed their support
for the building of a 'new progressive coalition."
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Harry Targ is a Professor in the Department of Political Science, Purdue
University

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