After protests and occupations temporarily shut down ICE offices, Donald Trump suffered a significant political defeat when he was forced to reverse himself on separating immigrant children from their parents after they were arrested at the border. By and large, people were horrified at the separation of kids from their families and at the creation of what were basically prison camps for children. Polls showed that only about a quarter of the U.S. population supported Trump on this child-hostage policy, though about half of Republicans did.
Like the Arab Spring, the U.S. “Education Spring” was an explosive wave of protests. Statewide teacher walkouts seemed to arise out of nowhere, organized through Facebook groups, with demands for increased school funding and political voice for teachers. Though the walkouts confounded national media outlets, which had little idea how to explain or report on the movements, for parent and teacher activists who have been organizing against reforms in public education over the past four decades, the protests were understandable, if unexpected. What was surprising was their breadth of support (statewide), their organizing strategy (Facebook), and their breathtakingly rapid spread.
Reasons for Cautious Optimism from the Landless Workers Movement
In May 2017, Left politics in Brazil were pretty bleak. It was almost a year after the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the Brazilian Workers Party (PT), whose ousting from power brought along with it an onslaught of austerity policies.2
It is the sixtieth anniversary of Raya Dunayevskaya’s Marxism and Freedom, a work both of its time and ahead of its time.
If one thing was clear coming out of the New York City Democratic Socialists of America’s May 5 convention, it was that most delegates uniformly consider themselves socialists and aspire to build an anti-corporate resistance movement nationwide. So far, so good.
An Interview with Lawrence Brown on Community Trauma and Healing
Lawrence Brown associate professor of public health in the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University. He is the grandson of sharecroppers who lived in the Mississippi Delta and a native of West Memphis, Arkansas. He is a historian, critical geographer, and political economist who sees public health from a critical, interdisciplinary perspective and advocates for holistic approaches to healing the Black communities of Baltimore. His book The Black Butterfly: Why We Must Make Black Neighborhoods Matter (Johns Hopkins Press) is forthcoming.
A Clash of Classes and a Brewing Perfect Storm
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration. - Abraham Lincoln
The Federal Reserve Board, the bankers’ bank, has put out figures and reports showing that even before the Trump regime, the rich were acquiring a larger share of the nation’s total income and wealth. The September 2017 Federal Reserve Bulletin reports that “the distribution of income and wealth has grown increasingly unequal in recent years.”1 Other government reports show that many continue to live in poverty and lack shelter and an adequate amount of food.
Sitting alone in my room watching videos on YouTube, hearing sounds from across the hall of my roommate watching Netflix, the obvious point occurs to me that a key element of the demonic genius of late capitalism is enforcing a crushing passiveness on the populace.
At time of writing, we are still in the dissipating wake of another mass shooting in the United States, this time in a Parkland, Florida, high school. The American people are once again reminded of the ubiquitous threat of violence that characterizes their everyday lives. We are once again confronted with the nauseating reality of a two-party system that defends this violence in word and deed—while providing rhetorical paeans to security, freedom, and safety.
A CNN report last November about slave auctions in present-day Libya shocked the world.1 The existence of these slave auctions was widely treated as a new development in the country and a result of the chaos that resulted from the NATO-supported overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In truth, however, what CNN discovered is but a surviving remnant of Gaddafi’s regime—the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya—a police state with systematic racism and abuse both of Libyans of sub-Saharan African descent and of sub-Saharan African migrants.
This season’s roundup of nonfiction comics includes self-published and small-press titles as well as noteworthy releases from major trade publishers. Topics covered range from consumer capitalism and imprisoned anarchists to Trinidadian social history and the war in Syria. Each of these titles deploys a distinctive approach to the challenge of folding political themes into visual narrative. In different ways, these books suggest that the forward march of political cartooning continues unabated.
This memoir of sorts by Fordham University sociology professor Heather Gautney, who became a policy fellow in Bernie Sanders’ Washington DC office and a volunteer researcher and organizer for his unexpectedly popular 2016 presidential campaign, has a very specific focus: to “offer insights from up-close work with Bernie, mixed in with historical and sociological analysis, to perform an autopsy of the 2016 election” (2). Given the sheer number of insightless (to put it mildly) autopsies that have been proffered across the political spectrum—perhaps none more useless than Hillary Clinton’s own What Happened (Simon & Schuster, 2017)—Gautney’s book is more than welcome and even slightly overdue.
Why the United States has not developed a permanent socialist movement has perplexed activists and theorists for more than a century. Paul Le Blanc takes up that query as an activist who wants to see an anti-capitalism mass movement take shape in twenty-first century America. To that end, he investigates some of the moments when the possibility of a significant left presence in the United States seemed at hand. He focuses on what made those movements viable and what thwarted their long-term success. The volume’s fourteen essays were written over a period of thirty years, from 1986 to 2015.
Steve Fraser is a weathered veteran of the New Left and many subsequent movements, author of shrewd books on the acquisitive ruling class and also of the outstanding biography of famed left-leaning labor giant Sidney Hillman, among other works. Here he once again ranges far, but also comes close to home, his own personal home space.
More than a hundred years ago, the muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair worked undercover for several weeks in the cattle slaughterhouses of Chicago. The result was his melodramatic but revelatory novel The Jungle, a work Jack London called the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery.” Sinclair’s narrative depicted the brutal working conditions endured by East European immigrants on the killing floor, engaging in back-breaking, dangerous, and tedious labor for subsistence wages.
— Reprinted from New Politics, vol. II, no. 2 (new series), #6, Winter 1989 —
By Martin Oppenheimer
“The Year of Dangerous Living” was written for the twentieth anniversary of 1968. The “’68ers” were still young in 1988, in the prime of their lives, and memories were fresh. There was an explosion of protests against campus racism, gay-bashing, and increasing corporatization of universities (including union-busting). These baby-boomers, then hitting the big 4-0, were nostalgic. There was a sense that despite a Republican president, the moment was ripe for new efforts that required a serious appraisal of past campaigns.
— Reprinted from New Politics, vol. VI, no. 3, #23, Summer 1967 (printed June 1968)
At 4 am on April 30 , my wife and I stood with tears streaming down our faces on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 117th Street, watching the last of the Fayerweather Hall sit-ins being tossed into waiting police vans. We were not the only ones crying, nor were the tears merely those of pity or self-pity. There was also anger, frustration, and actual joy. The incredible—and inevitable—had happened; the “Big Bust” had come. Seven hundred and twenty student and faculty protesters were under arrest; more than 130 had been beaten up, some quite badly. The last illusions about what was happening were shed.
Blogs & On-Line Features
In the days since Donald Trump’s announcement that the US was to rapidly withdraw its 2,000 troops from Syria, an enormous amount of speculation about what this means has taken place. In my initial piece, I expressed a number of views that are not widely shared.
I campaigned for governor with the slogan of “Demand More!” because Gov. Cuomo has governed as a social liberal but as an economic conservative. Although he touts the agenda he outlined in his January 15 State of the State and Budget presentation as “progressive,” New York progressives should not be satisfied. It is still a conservative economic program. Progressives must demand more.
The deaths of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht have haunted the imagination of the left for a century. Joe Sabatini reviews a recent publication exposing the events of their deaths, Klaus Gietinger’s The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg, as well as providing an introduction to some of the literary works inspired by the events of 15 January 1919.
The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the city’s teachers union, has now reentered negotiations with a school board chastened by a strike that has shown the movement’s political power in massive demonstrations with community members and parents.
Here is a timeline of how the mainstream U.S. capitalist media has covered the issue of Trump’s financial ties with the Russian mafia capitalist class. This timeline is significant, because it provides a clue to the thinking of the mainstream of the U.S. capitalist class as well as how that thinking is now changing.
With the revival of the socialist movement in the U.S., and the phrase “political revolution” having briefly entered the political mainstream as a result of Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign, it’s a good idea for contemporary socialists to look back upon the political strategies of our predecessors to examine what they thought “revolution” signified, and to draw appropriate conclusions.
The January 14 strike date announced by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) has heightened tensions in an already contentious dispute with Los Angeles Superintendent Austin Beutner, who represents the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in negotiations. However, far more is at stake in Los Angeles and for the rest of us than a traditional contract struggle.
Randy Shaw, Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America. University of California Press, 2018. 304 pp.
When millennials head home for the holidays this month, many who are city dwellers will be hosted by parents or grand-parents whose housing is far more spacious and financially secure than their own. Even guests with well-paid jobs in relatively stable rental markets will cast an envious eye at the benefits of baby boomer house buying decades ago.
Rob Walsh, originally from a small town just outside Utica, is a material handler at the Tesla plant just south of Buffalo, New York’s downtown—dubbed Gigafactory 2—and part of the joint United Steelworkers/International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers organizing committee. One of plant’s earliest hires, he works 12-hour shifts three to four days a week, making $16.50 an hour. He is one of roughly 400 employees that work around the clock at the plant producing Tesla’s solar roof tiles. During those shifts, Walsh delivers production from the warehouse to the floor and then takes the finished product out to be shipped.
We, the Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists, support the ongoing uprising which erupted across Sudan starting December 19th, 2018. The protests were set off by the lifting of subsidies on bread, wheat, and electricity as well as spiking inflation. The United Nations Development Program has estimated that nearly half of the population, i.e. 20 million, live below the poverty line. However, their demands go much deeper and call for the downfall of the regime of Omar al-Bashir because of its decades of economic, political, and social repression. The dictator al-Bashir was also on the verge of obtaining constitutional amendments allowing him to run in the presidential election in 2020.
The New York Health Act and the NYC Municipal Labor Movement
While a Single Payer healthcare system is on the table nationally (in the form of several bills, but perhaps more importantly, in the platforms of nearly all the top presumptive Democratic presidential nominees), the actual creation of such a system is perhaps more likely to be accomplished at the state level first, and it’s possible New York and California are tied for “most likely to succeed.” Even as some advocates caution that we should only fight for a national single payer plan, despite there being even less of a “pathway to victory” in the short-term, I see these campaigns as complimentary. Ambitious and aspiring New York State politicians are well-attuned to what constitutes “progressive” on the national scene, and it is to everyone’s advantage if supporting single payer is viewed as part of proving their credentials.
Perhaps the difficulty in capturing and defining the phenomenon of white supremacy lays in its ubiquity. Throughout American society (and more generally, across the Western world), ‘whiteness,’ symbolizes a status quo, a dominant set of norms and behaviors to which individuals are expected to adhere.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 7, 2019
Press contact: Katie Horvath, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-838-8051
Kim Moody’s “Rank and File Strategy” has influenced much of DSA’s approach to labor organizing. To draw out what he calls socialist “class consciousness,” Moody recommends fomenting member-led struggles in unions that advance self-empowerment. By joining “transitional organizations,” or rank-and-file reform caucuses such as Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), he believes, workers gain experience directly confronting management over working conditions. These organizations prepare workers for larger fights to come.