The Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) was founded in 1998 by members of the Nicaragua Network, an organization that had been created nineteen years earlier to support the Marxist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
Describing itself as an “anti-capitalist,” “anti-imperialist,” “people’s think tank” whose activities include “a whole lot of organizing,” AfGJ seeks to train young activists to build a “unified grassroots movement” capable of creating “a socially, ecologically and economically just world” that offers “alternatives” to the “domination of governments, global financial institutions, and multinational corporations which denigrate the world’s peoples and devastate ecosystems.” Central to AfGJ’s worldview is the belief that “group rights [are] equal to or superior to the rights of individuals articulated by 18th Century European men.”
AfGJ’s ongoing “struggle for liberation from Empire” focuses on four major areas:
A) Economic Justice: AfGJ denounces “neoliberal economics,” “corporate globalization,” and “privatization,” contending that “a just society is oriented toward meeting the needs … of its own people, not toward creating vast inequality and mega-profits for those at the top at the expense of the many.” To combat “the concentration of wealth and power [that] is the root cause of oppression,” says AfGJ, there must be a “fundamental change in international and national conditions that disempower people, create [economic and political] disparities, poison the earth, and plunder its resources.” By AfGJ’s reckoning, it is government’s duty to satisfy “the right of people to shelter, sufficient food, medical care, education, employment, [and] leisure,” and to dismantle societal “structures that distribute wealth in ways that deny anyone those basic rights.” A key component of AfGJ’s Economic Justice initiative is its Campaign for Labor Rights, which promotes the right of workers in the U.S. and abroad to “organize,” “earn a living wage,” and “bargain collectively with their bosses.”
B) U.S. Militarism: Asserting that “militarism and modern wars result from coercive force and violent oppression waged in favor of economic and political systems that seek to concentrate wealth, power and resources in the hands of a privileged few,” AfGJ charges that “the U.S. war machine” today exists mainly to “guard the interests of transnational corporations via U.S. military dominance around the world.” Supporting “a multi-polar political world and [rejecting] the myth of U.S. exceptionalism and its ambition toward unchallengeable military power,” the Alliance opposes “all U.S. wars and use of U.S. military force abroad”—on grounds that “history has shown that U.S. wars are unjust, exploitative, and profit-driven.” It is significant, however, that AfGJ does not categorically reject the use of violence in pursuit of “justice” for “the marginalized and oppressed”—noting proudly, for instance, that its own parent organization, the Nicaragua Network, “was founded to support an armed revolution.”
C) Real Democracy: AfGJ impugns “electoral processes that give enormous and undue influence to wealthy corporations,” and it opposes “all efforts by the U.S. government to subvert other sovereign States through manipulation of their elections, social movements, forced debt, unequal trade treaties and predatory business practices, or military threat.” For example, the Alliance’s Respect for Democracy Campaign seeks to shut down the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, which in 2004 aided both “the groups that overthrew Haiti’s elected government” and “the coup leaders who unsuccessfully tried to overthrow Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.” Similarly, AfGJ’s Venezuela Solidarity Campaign aims to “expose and oppose U.S. government and corporate intervention in Venezuela’s sovereign affairs,” and its Columbia Watch initiative demands “an end to U.S. support for war, repression and neoliberal economics in Colombia.”
D) Ecological Integrity: Condemning “the consumptive excesses” and “unrestrained Western consumerism” of “wealthy nations” and “multinational corporations” obsessed with a “constant search for new resources to exploit,” AfGJ holds that “global warming is a direct result of this … drive to put profits before the planet’s own health.” The Alliance’s Eco-Solidarity Project warns that America is “putting the rest of the planet in peril” by consuming “some 25% of the world’s energy resources” and producing more solid waste and carbon-dioxide emissions per person than any other country on Earth. “Our war machine and its allies are the biggest sources of ecological destruction on the planet,” laments AfGJ, encouraging U.S. leaders to “reverse the economics and politics of war and corporate greed” in order to raise the public’s “ecological consciousness.”
Fiercely opposed to the “militarization” of the U.S.-Mexico border, AfGJ has also been outspoken on the issue of illegal immigration. “The borderlands,” says the Alliance, “like most of this continent, is primarily a site of displacement and genocide of indigenous people” dating back to the 1840s, when “the U.S. nation state [took] half of México’s land by military force.” Illegal immigrants from Central America, AfGJ explains, are commonly “forced north” nowadays by their need to “escape” the poverty that is “a direct result” of U.S. economic and military policies that have: (a) “displaced millions of poor Mexicans from their land,” and (b) “sponsored regimes of terror and genocide … in order to protect the interests of trade and capitalism.” Proponents of the deportation of illegals, says AfGJ, typically seek to manufacture “a public perception that immigrants are freeloaders benefiting from welfare or that they are violent criminals involved in drug trade and gang activity.”
AfGJ has received funding from a number of left-wing philanthropies, including the Tides Foundation, George Soros‘s Open Society Foundations, the Arca Foundation, the Firedoll Foundation, the Brightwater Fund, the New World Foundation, the Foundation for Deep Ecology, the Hill Snowdon Foundation, the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund, the Aetna Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, the Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund, and the Schwab Charitable Fund.
“AfGJ provides fiscal sponsorship services that fund groups that do not have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service. This means AfGJ is a ‘pass through’ entity that allows donors who want to give to a group that lacks tax-exempt status to donate instead to the AfGJ. This mechanism helps individual donors, who may now deduct the donation from their income taxes, and also helps foundation donors, who are generally forbidden to give to groups that lack nonprofit status. It also helps the groups that finally receive the monies, because they don’t have to report on their activities to the public and, if convenient, they can pop up, perform legally dubious actions, and then disappear with no accountability. AfGJ takes a 7 to 8 percent administrative fee from the money that it passes on to other groups. The purpose of AfGJ’s fiscal sponsorship service, according to its IRS filing, is ‘to help the progressive movement grow and gain more influence on regional, national, and international levels.’”
Among the organizations that have used AfGJ as their fiscal sponsor are: Action LA, Assata’s Daughters, “Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox,” the Coalition of Women for Peace, the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, the National Immigrant Solidarity Network, Occupy Wall Street, Refuse Fascism, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Ta’ayush, World Can’t Wait, Refuse Fascism and other Antifa-related groups, and several dozen of other regional, national, and international entities.
“The other groups that are part of AfGJ’s fiscal sponsorship,” says policy analyst David Hogberg, “run the gamut of left-wing causes: pro-Palestine, remnants of Occupy Wall Street, LGBT, pro-illegal immigration, anti-prison, and anti-police (a.k.a. Black Lives Matter), and environmentalism. Of particular note are groups like The FANG Collective and We Are Cove Point. FANG, which is short for Fighting Against Natural Gas, and We Are Cove Point are anti-fracking organizations.”
In addition to its activities as a fiscal sponsor, AfGJ has also awarded grants to numerous organizations. From 2000 through 2017, for example, it raised more than $2.2 million for a Mexico-based entity called the Chiapas Media Project, which supports the anti-capitalist Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Moreover, AfGJ has given at least $50,000 to Refuse Fascism, an “anti-fascist” group founded by members of the Revolutionary Communist Party. In February 2017, Refuse Fascism played a major role in staging a loud, violent riot that forced the popular gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos to cancel a speech which he was scheduled to deliver at UC Berkeley.
To justify its decision to back a violent organization like Refuse Fascism, AfGJ says it does “not support imposing” its “personal belief” in the virtues of “pacifism” on anyone, “especially the marginalized and oppressed.” “We do not criticize the strategies and tactics of authentic organizations of the oppressed,” adds the Alliance. “Our parent organization, the Nicaragua Network, was founded to support an armed revolution.”
Chuck Kaufman, a veteran Nicaragua Network operative who helped establish the ANSWER Coalition and condemns “the culture of U.S. militarism,” has been one of of AfGJ’s two national co-coordinators since 2003. He also has been active for many years in anti-war protests and Latin American “Solidarity” networks.
Kaufman’s fellow national co-coordinator at AfGJ from 2003-17 was Katherine Hoyt, a longtime activist with the Sandinista National Liberation Front, a Nicaraguan revolutionary Marxist group. When the Sandinistas mobilized against the Somoza government in 1979, Hoyt and her husband permitted the Sandinista guerrillas to stockpile Molotov cocktails in the couple’s home in Nicaragua. “After the coup” in that country, says the Capital Research Center, “Hoyt went to work for the Sandinista government, ultimately working as a translator for the national legislature.” Hoyt eventually stepped down from her post as an AfGJ co-coordinator in 2017, but stayed on as an adviser.
By no means are Hoyt and Kaufman the only leftist radicals to hold key positions with the Alliance for Global Justice. Consider, for example, AfGJ employee James Jordan. After he visited Communist Cuba twice in 2015, Jordan sought to dispel what he characterized as the persistent “myths” that “have been the driving force shaping U.S. policy towards Cuba” – namely, the notion that Cuba does not permit its people to have any freedom of religion or freedom of speech. “I can say categorically in both of my visits that I saw absolutely no evidence of any kind of suppression of the right to worship, or not to worship, as one pleased,” said Jordan. With regard to freedom of speech, Jordan stated: “I did hear dissent openly expressed [in Cuba]. More often I heard nuanced criticisms of the government made by persons who were nonetheless supportive, but they recognized some problems and had ideas on how to make things better.” Added Jordan:
“My general impression was that the Cuban people I spoke with, whether dissidents, critical supporters or 100% gung-ho fans of the socialist government seemed significantly less paranoid and worried about surveillance and government repression than my fellow Leftist activists living here in the United States, especially since passage of the Patriot Act and its spawn. It amazes me that pundits in the United States will still drone on about the lack of freedom in Cuba, and that many find these over-the-top pronouncements to be valid. They seem to forget or ignore that we are living in the nation with the world’s largest rate of incarceration of its population (even though crime rates have been going down since the 1970s), in a land where people just assume the NSA, FBI and a variety of other initials are keeping tabs on us, in a nation that in fact has hundreds of political prisoners.”
Stansfield Smith, a committed Marxist who frequently contributes material to AfGJ’s website, visited yet another Communist country – North Korea – in 2013. Following that trip, Smith claimed that the blame for international tensions regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program could ultimately be traced to the hostility and duplicity of the United States, South Korea, and Japan. He also denounced U.S. economic sanctions against North Korea, saying: “The sanctions affect every household, every individual in [North Korea]. There are power cuts, a heating and energy shortage, a food problem. Even you visiting tourists are affected by the sanctions, as you see with your hotels. There is a lack of oil and spare parts for machinery.”