Accounts of the great Chicago Teamster strike of 1905 tell us that when the employers attempted to move the wagons driven by non-union workers through the streets of the city, working class women went to their windows and threw garbage, boiling water, and whatever else was available on the heads of the scabs below.
Humanity today faces what may be its greatest crisis—the destruction of our environment threatening the continued existence of life on Earth. The Left began to address this issue over the last two decades, but only in the last few years has it been recognized that coming to grips with the environmental crisis must be a top priority not only of the Left but of all the peoples of the world.
And we have the power to make it happen
It’s very humbling to be in this room, not to mention on this stage, with all the vision and dedication that’s packed within these four walls. Thanks to the board and Seth Adler, the volunteers, and all of you here tonight for making this conference happen.
I am especially excited about the theme of this year’s conference because it represents what I think is a historic advance in left thinking. In all the years of the Left Forum, not to mention the Socialist Scholars Conference before it, plenary speakers have addressed a huge range of left topics from a variety of perspectives. Certainly the ongoing economic crisis has received a great deal of our attention and must continue to.
Shadow Socialism in the Age of Environmental Crisis
I am going to discuss the political implications of climate change as regards the role of the state. The punch line is this: climate change means that the state is coming back. The choice is whether the state’s return will be violent and repressive or whether its return can involve a renovation and transformation that enhances the state’s progressive and democratic features.
Today environmental politics in the U.S. appears hopelessly polarized. Liberals and progressives try to sustain and occasionally strengthen environmental legislation, while those on the right are inalterably opposed, even seeking to defund core institutions such as the EPA. This extreme polarization, where anti-environmentalism has become part of the cultural as well as the political apparatus of the right, is a recent, and hopefully short-lived, phenomenon.1
Ecosocialism is an attempt to provide a radical, civilizational alternative to capitalism, rooted in the basic arguments of the ecological movement, and in the Marxist critique of political economy. It opposes to capitalism’s destructive progress (Marx) an economic policy founded on non-monetary and extra-economic criteria: social needs and ecological equilibrium.
November 4, 2013
Dear fellow fighters in
I am a long-time advocate of both climate justice and fundamental system change. I am writing to you with whom I share these central political commitments because I believe you are making a serious strategic mistake by categorically rejecting international carbon trading.
The Global Context and Syriza’s Solution
Many misconceptions still exist in the mainstream about the ongoing economic crisis in Southern Europe. First, the crisis is often considered a direct result of the 2008 banking sector collapse in the United States, but it is becoming abundantly clear that it is a by-product, an expected outcome, of the current economic system, capitalism, which relies on continuing growth and competition, profit maximization, power and wealth accumulation by the oligarchy, commodification of public goods and resources, and the voracious exploitation of the environment.
Each August 6 in Hiroshima, speakers reiterate familiar statistics, such as how the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombs tragically slaughtered 140,000 people. Many evoke J.
During the last ten years, a new Turkey has been created. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has begun the establishment of an authoritarian regime built upon Sunni Islamic principles and neoliberal economics. We are in an era where the two have combined to create the worst of all worlds for women.
Since the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition came into power in Britain in 2010, there has been a vicious attack on both the public sector and the social welfare state that is being justified as a response to the “high deficit.” Austerity is being introduced for two related reasons. First, the low profitability and resulting stagnation following the economic crisis of 2008 led employers to squeeze wages in order to keep profits up.
Some Thoughts on Today’s Italy
In March 2010, a few months before his death, Mario Monicelli, the unforgettable director of the 1958 caper film Big Deal on Madonna Street (I soliti ignoti), was interviewed live on Michele Santoro’s program “Rai per una notte.”2 Disillusioned, Monicelli sketched the portrait of a subdued country, an Italy overcome with fear, which he then followed with expressing the hope of “a real blow [to the system], a revolution, something Italy has never experienced,” because, according to him, redemption only comes from sacrifice and
Classical Music, the High Arts, and Workers’ Culture
Last season’s announcement of the New York Philharmonic’s Henry Kravis Award, financed by a seven figure withdrawal from the ten figure bank account of one of America’s more notorious financers, is one of many indications that while its influence has waned, classical music still has friends in high places. These connections tend to accrue mainly to high profile conductors, opera stars, and virtuoso soloists.
On the Non-Jewish Jew—An Analysis and Personal Reflection
Isaac Deutscher’s concept of the “The Non-Jewish Jew”1 has been adopted by many secular leftist Jewish intellectuals as a badge of identity. Defined by a universal and humanist outlook that is rooted in Jewish thought, his is a construct that draws inspiration from Jewish thinkers such as Baruch Spinoza, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx,2 Rosa Luxemburg, Sigmund Freud, and Leon Trotsky whom he sees as revolutionaries of modern thought who went beyond the boundaries of their Jewish background.
The inner-city parish of La Vega sits in the lush mountain terrain of Western Caracas. Roughly 130,000 poor residents are cordoned off sociologically from nearby El Paraíso, a wealthy neighborhood that supplies the clients for the upscale shopping center that separates the two communities. In La Vega, the bottom 20 percent of households live on US$125 per month, while the average family income is $US409.
A Personal View
I emigrated from the United States to Canada in 1974, in the aftermath of the period covered by Benjamin Isitt’s Militant Minority, becoming actively involved in British Columbia’s (BC) social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) as well as its labor movement. Isitt’s work deepened my understanding of both.
Traditional book publishing does not lend itself well to current events. However, the introduction of self and independent book publications, as well as the e-book, has vastly changed this landscape. Today, books can reach a wide audience almost immediately after they are written. A perfect example of this is Stephen Morgan’s recent book, Pussy Riot vs. Putin: Revolutionary Russia that chronicles the events relating to the arrest, trial, and sentencing of the Russian feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot in Moscow last year.
The Game’s Not Over Yet
Long-time revolutionary activist, historian, and analyst Gilbert Achcar has produced a provocative assessment of the Arab Spring. In The People Want, Achcar develops a Marxist analysis of the roots of the Arab revolutions, traces their trajectories since December 2010, and draws a tentative balance sheet of what progress has been made and what possibilities remain.
For most Jews in the United States, the legacy of the Soviet Union is linked to anti-Semitism. This is understandable, given not only the targeting of Jewish writers, doctors, and others by Stalin’s terror but also the quotas and petty persecution of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev years. Some people remember that the Russian Revolution freed Jews from the pogroms and segregation of czarism. But few have any conception of the extraordinary flourishing of Yiddish-language culture under the Bolsheviks in the 1920s.
The dramatic implosion of the Socialist Workers Party (U.K.) has provoked an outpouring of analysis, debate, and sectarian invective, most of which has appeared online rather than in print. Socialist Unity, Weekly Worker, Soviet Goon Boy, and Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal have all published exposés and polemics on the party’s shameful mishandling of accusations of rape and sexual predation on the part of a leading member, who is referred to as “Comrade Delta” in party documents.
For the last twenty-five years, it would be safe to say that Marx’s thought seemed very distant to all but a minority of scholars and leftists. Despite ever increasing economic inequality and the extreme concentration of wealth at levels not seen since before the Great Depression, the collapse of the Soviet Union and economic prosperity were said to have relegated Marx to the past. Marxists were at the bottom of a daunting uphill public relations battle.
I remember as a freshman in college making a boneheaded move. I didn’t feel like I had enough stuff. I was broke, and I had enough stuff to keep me alive and entertained, but I could never say no to acquiring more of it. I was fortunate enough that one day while exiting my dorm’s food court, some guy I never met—who looked like he was in his late 20s—offered me stuff and this of course piqued my interest.
This tale is not salacious. The “stuff” was not anything illegal or even unethical.
With this issue of New Politics, “Words & Pictures” marks its tenth anniversary. From the outset, NP’s editors hoped that this back-of-the-book feature could showcase the work of interesting political cartoonists, past and present, and add a touch of visual interest to the magazine. The feature was introduced just as the magazine itself was undergoing a comprehensive makeover, starting with cover art by Bob Gill and, more recently, Lisa Lyons.
Blogs & On-Line Features
The workers of Punto Leather Factory, located at Kazliceşme in the district of Zeytinburnu in Istanbul, have been organized in their union, Deriteks, for a decent livelihood and decent working conditions. They stand against harsh working conditions, health and safety problems, denial of their constitutional right to unionize, disadvantageous health insurance plans, prohibitions against using their annual leave entitlements; in summary they stand against working in conditions of slavery.
The following article is reprinted from LeftEast.
The socialist union “Left Opposition” offers its assessment of the Russian aggression in Crimea and the destructive role of Ukrainian nationalists. The intervention of Russian armies was made possible as a result of a split in Ukrainian society. Its unity is impossible with the oligarchs and chauvinists in power. Only solidarity will save Ukraine.
In the United States Social Struggle Declines, Plateaus: The Most Important Social Conflicts of 2013
While there was social struggle and conflict over a variety of issues in the United States in 2013, including an ascending movement in one region, the overall picture was one of diverse and diffuse social movements that had plateaued at a low level. The exceptions were the growing Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, which gained in numbers of participants throughout the year, and the movements of fast food and Walmart workers.
The question of what demands ecosocialists should put forward in response to the climate crisis is a pressing one. Robin Hahnel, in “An Open Letter to the Climate Justice Movement”, argues that the climate justice movement should demand a cap-and-trade policy, abandoning its traditional stance against carbon trading. To Hahnel, carbon trading is the most realistic way for society to make carbon emissions cuts in the necessary time frame, and, contrary to the arguments of activists, it ca
The following letter, to which I have added my name, is being circulated by education faculty. Dozens of education faculty have already signed and teachers at another Chicago school, with support of parents, have now decided to boycott the test. School administrators have threatened retaliation against the teachers, and support from outside the city is essential. The Chicago Teachers Union is supporting this teacher-led boycott.
(This blog was adapted from my remarks in a remarkable forum on Feb. 8 in NYC that critiqued current policies evaluating principals and teachers and examined possible solutions. The panel was videotaped and will be uploaded shortly. I’ll give readers the URL when that occurs.)
Review of Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City By Robin Nagle (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2013).
Rationally, we know garbage isn’t picked up by the faeries, but to much of the public, it might as well be. We “take out” the garbage, but who removes it?
The Ukraine is no longer ‘in flames.’ With the hurried flight of the detested Yanukovich, peace and order have descended on Kiev (except for some fistfights in the Parliament!) There is no looting. Self-organized popular militias protect the luxurious Presidential Palace (privatized by Yanukovich) as crowds of citizen file through to gape at his collections of antique and modern automobiles.
“Today the counter-revolutionary Right is reactivating itself,” according to long-time Venezuelan revolutionary Roland Denis, “taking advantage of the profound deterioration that this slow revolutionary process is suffering.
UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT Viktor Yanukovich appears to have been driven from power after the mass protest movement that has occupied Kiev’s Maidan (Independence Square) since November survived a deadly crackdown last week. In a matter of days, the country’s corrupt and autocratic regime was overwhelmed.
While this statement was published a week ago, on Februrary 19, we think it important to call it to the attention of our readers as a statement of the Ukrainian labor movement. - Dan La Botz
This article was written for Mexican Labor News and Analysis and therefore emphasizes NAFTA’s impact on Mexico.
The Three Amigos summit meeting of President Barack Obama of the United States, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, and President Stephen Harper of Canada just held in Mexico amounted to little more than a reaffirmation of the neoliberal agenda represented by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that took effect twenty years ago.
While we recognize that the following statement represents the point of view of a small minority both within the Ukrainian rebellion and in Ukraine at large, we reprint it here nonetheless, thinking that it is an important statement of the left. - Editors.
Euromaidan and a Program for the Left
Euromaidan’s popularity has nothing to do with Ukrainians finding the question of free trade with the European Union so significant that it emboldened them to survive sleepless nights on the square. The country’s socioeconomic problems, which are much more acute than those of its neighbors to the East and West, gave the protest its meaning.