Keith Pavlik



  • Co-director of the Progress Unity Fund, which is affiliated with the World Workers Party
  • Writes for the Marxist-Leninist newspaper Workers World

Keith Pavlik is a co-director, along with Rosa Penate and Brenda Sandburg, of the Progress Unity Fund, a nonprofit organization closely affiliated with the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party (WWP). As of 2009, Pavlik’s San Francisco home doubled as PUF’s official headquarters. Pavlik has written extensively for WWP’s weekly newspaper, Workers World, an honor normally reserved for Party members. He is also a blogger on the Party for Socialism & Liberation website. Pavlik greatly admires, and frequently cites, the writings of WWP founder and longtime chairman Sam Marcy as well as the works of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

Having worked as a printing-press operator in the 1980s and ’90s, Pavlik maintains that “the capitalist system … makes advancing technology a burden on workers’ wages and living standards.” “When technology is used only to expand capitalist production and not for human benefit,” he says, “it becomes a tool for greater exploitation” by “business owners” whose “greed” leads them to lay off as many expendable employees as possible. The way to counter this, Pavlik explains, is for workers to organize labor unions “with the ultimate goal of overturning the system that causes us to lose our jobs in order to maximize profits.” “When we as workers own and control the means of production,” he continues, “humankind can fully realize the beneficial wonders of technological development.”

Pavlik believes that during a more pleasant, benevolent epoch of human history, “matriarchal societies, tracing the lineage of the family through the mother, existed under classless systems where scarcity dictated the necessity of sharing and cooperation.” But “as the productive level of society matured from conditions of generalized absolute scarcity to the creation of relative surplus,” he says, “the collective social norms gave way to the private appropriation of the surplus.” As a result, “social and family relations based on collective ownership and mother-right were replaced by father-right and class society” where “repressive patriarchal laws and customs to control wealth also emerged.” In short, Pavlik maintains that the traditional “family” in Western culture was created by “the ruling class” as a mechanism by which it could “maintain ownership of wealth through inheritance.” Moreover, this family system purportedly “ushered in the systematic oppression of women and homosexuals in society, which was previously unknown.”

Asserting that capitalism is inherently inimical to gay rights, Pavlik avers that LGBT couples will never “be able to live free from discrimination and violence” until society is “completely reorganized on the basis of human solidarity and cooperation.” He explains that “socialism—an economy based on human need instead of private profit—lays the foundation for a truly liberated family, whether heterosexual or same-sex.” Consequently, says Pavlik, “the struggle for same-sex marriages and partnerships provides an avenue for building working-class solidarity and challenging ruling-class anti-gay, anti-woman ideology.”

Socialism is likewise the key to reforming and improving society’s housing system, Pavlik explains, because capitalism “is organized to serve the bankers and landlords” rather than people of modest means. “Only by eliminating the profit motive from housing and real estate,” he says, “can the right to housing be truly guaranteed. Otherwise, this basic right will always be controlled by real estate speculators and slumlords.” According to Pavlik, “Countries that are much poorer than the United States have been able to provide this right by organizing society along socialist lines, for people’s needs instead of for private profit. Countries like Cuba and North Korea are able to guarantee home ownership or rentals for less than 10 percent of one’s salary.”

Pavlik has a particularly high regard for the men and women who belonged to the Black Panther Party during the 1960s and ’70s, describing them as heroes who “fought racism and injustice” even as they themselves were subjected to “judicial repression.”

Pavlik was a signatory to a full-page ad published in the Washington Post on April 30, 2012, 
 demanding freedom for the so-called Cuban Five—a Miami-based, KGB-trained, Castro spy ring whose activities were uncovered by the FBI in September 1998. Though all five had been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 years to life, the Post ad described them as men who had been “wrongly accused” and “unjustly concvicted.”

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