We wish our readers a Happy New Year, though we know that you take little joy in it, politically speaking. If we take no joy, we do sometimes find humor in President Donald J. Trump’s proclamations by Twitter, such as his claim that he is a “stable genius.” The current debate revolves around which of those two words is more ridiculous.
The question of the socialist left’s relationship to the Democratic Party has been a controversial
issue for decades, in truth, for as long as we have had the modern two-party system. At various
times the issue has been whether or not to break with the Democratic Party and construct a
socialist party or a labor party instead.
Some New Politics readers will recognize the title of this article as a paraphrase of Hal Draper’s “Two Souls of Socialism,” which appeared in New Politics in 1966. The first version, however, appeared in the socialist student magazine Anvil in 1960, just as a new generation of youthful activists was emerging, inspired to a large extent by the civil rights movement.
A Response to Kim Moody
After a huge bump in membership thanks to Bernie Sanders, and an even bigger one thanks to Donald Trump, the DSA continues to grow. Since its national convention in August, membership has increased from 25,000 to 30,000. We have known since 2011 that millennials have a more positive association with the word “socialism” than the word “capitalism”;1 Sanders gave this demographic shift from the cold war era a political expression, and DSA has given it an organizational expression. Now thousands on the left are scrambling to answer the question, “What do we do with this newfound energy?”
I first met Kim Moody some 50 years ago. He was then organizing chapters of the California-based Peace and Freedom Party as an alternative to the Democratic war machine. If memory serves, he came to Park Slope, Brooklyn, then a predominantly Irish and Italian working-class neighborhood—not the gentrified picture from House Beautiful it has since morphed into—but also inhabited by a smattering of déclassé radicals. Moody wanted to interest a few of us in taking up the electoral mantle.
Reply to Dornbush, Elliott-Negri, and Lewis
Dornbush, Elliott-Negri, and Lewis are right that ideology is not enough and an analysis of “the actual, material terrain” is necessary. Simply repeating the well-known realities of the first-past-the-post U.S. electoral system that favors the two-party duality is not such an analysis. It’s old news. Not altogether wrong, but still yesterday’s political science.
A Look Beyond the Immediate Damage
We working people live in darkening times. When the Trump presidency ends in four years—if it does—we may no longer have an organized labor movement. As one of my colleagues, Ed Ott of the Murphy Institute, the City University of New York’s labor school, said to me, “We are at the beginning of the end of the U.S. labor movement based on a partnership with capital.” We are at the twilight of an era. Labor unions and collective bargaining stand to be swept away, and with them the institutions that have sheltered us in the workplace and provided us with a modicum of job security, living wages, health insurance, and pension benefits.
United Workers Take on the Multiple Crises of Capitalism
In an era when the federal government is increasingly dominated by fossil-fuel interests that limit regulation of oil rigs and pipelines, the environmental justice movement seems to have diminished significantly.
Its Present Panorama
A civil society emerges, mainly, due to citizens’ need to actively involve themselves in the public sphere in order to address processes that impact their daily lives and affect their interests. At the heart of civil society, various social actors, with sometimes remarkable differences, group themselves around common issues that affect or interest all of them. Therefore, civil society is plural, characterized by the spontaneous organization of citizens and based on logics of autonomy, solidarity, and representation of specific identities; it is aimed at addressing collective demands, exploring solutions to issues that affect a given community, and having an impact in the public sphere.
This is the last of three articles commemorating the Russian Revolution of 1917 and analyzing its fate under Stalin. The first part, “Glorious Harbinger of a New Society: The Bolshevik Revolution,” was published in New Politics, number 62, winter 2017, and the second part, “The Tragic Fate of Workers’ Russia,” in New Politics, number 63, summer 2017.
"The socialists consider it their principal, perhaps even their only, duty to promote the growth of this consciousness among the proletariat, which for short they call its class consciousness. The whole success of the socialist movement is measured for them in terms of the growth in class consciousness of the proletariat. Everything that helps this growth they see as useful to their cause; everything that slows it down as harmful."
In June 2017, the New Politics editorial board organized an event to honor Joanne Landy. She had been diagnosed almost a year before with stage 4 lung cancer. We all knew her prognosis was very grim and thought it would be a fine thing to show Joanne, while she was still with us, how much she was loved and admired by so many, many people.
The death of Joanne Landy last October is a profound loss to the socialist and internationalist movements.
Joanne died less than a day shy of her 76th birthday, and for her entire adult life, she retained a commitment to the fight for a more democratic and more humane world, and to the politics of socialism from below.
In her award-winning book Red Rosa (2015), Kate Evans combined feminist biography, intellectual history, and appealing visuals to tell the remarkable story of Rosa Luxemburg. While much of the narrative focused on friendships, relationships, and personal struggles, Evans also conveyed a sense of Luxemburg as a theorist of capitalism, imperialism, and war.
The closing of the era when comic art specialists, not people with PhDs, wrote the outstanding and recognized works on individual artists and genres may have arrived as recently as only a few years ago. Careful biographies of artistic giants, household names (in their own eras, at least) or famed only within the field, Al Capp or Will Elder, have continued to be written by people who could rightly be called “fans”—if the title did not seem insulting. Rather than university presses, Fantagraphics or the comics series at Abrams would be a typical outlet. With each year that passes and with each swelling enrollment in a college course, the scene shifts.
The mode-of-production concept that Marx develops in Capital (although the idea is present earlier) is the essential methodological tool for understanding history, different societies, and the possibilities for social change.
Social Inequality is not for the faint-hearted. It covers the major political-economic issues of our time, from the structural changes in the economics of capitalism, to class structure, the imperialist state, and the distortions of capitalist culture. The author, a veteran scholar-activist of the New Left generation who now lives in Costa Rica,1 ends with a plea for resistance to our oligarchic “hegemon” and suggests a series of tactics to help us on the road.
IN 1942 British economist John Maynard Keynes got an advance preview of Lord William Beveridge’s report, Social Insurance and Allied Services. In it, Beveridge proposed a comprehensive system of social security that ran the gamut from full employment to national health care so as to eliminate “Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness” from the United Kingdom.
Ecosocialism: A Radical Alternative to Capitalist Catastrophe, while excellent and valuable in its own right, isn’t quite the introduction to “green Marxism” that one might have expected. Michael Löwy is a veteran for decades of the democratic revolutionary left in France and a frequent contributor to New Politics.
Blogs & On-Line Features
For some, the decision to support workers who strike is a given. We defend the right to join a union and exercise the right to strike in every country, as a human right.
Why are voices on the left still justifying the Syrian regime's indiscriminate bombardment of Eastern Ghouta?
As the death toll in the Damascus' suburb of Eastern Ghouta reached nearly 700 in two weeks and continues to rise, many so-called progressive voices continue to justify the carnage.
Healthcare is the crossroads where the assault on workers meets the juggernaut of “crony capitalism.” That’s the term used by the mainstream neo-classical and Nobel prize-winning economist Angus Deaton to describe the coziness between the healthcare industry and its government “regulators.” In fact, Deaton argues, how healthcare is financed and delivered is a driver of inequality.
On the Southern Poverty Law Center website, this rather odd statement can be read:
Yesterday, Friday, March 9, we published an article entitled “The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment.” After receiving some concerns about the article from Max Blumenthal that evening, we took it down, pending further review.
The article was written by Alexander Reid Ross as a follow-up to earlier articles for SPLC titled “The Internet Research Agency: behind the shadowy network that meddled in the 2016 Elections” and “The far-right influence in pro-Kremlin media and political networks.” Subsequent to the removal of the latest, the other two have been removed as well.
Since the 2015 UN Paris Agreement, climate geoengineering – the intentional large-scale manipulation of the earth’s natural systems – has shifted from the margins to the mainstream of climate policy discussions. The idea counts among its supporters both liberal technocrats and neoconservatives like U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, a notorious climate denier who sees geoengineering as an alternative to “forcing unworkable and costly government mandates on the American people.”
The call to “arm the teachers” started as another stink bomb President Donald Trump lobbed into the crowd at a conservative rally. But somehow, the concept cycled through the 24-hour news loop and, within a few hours, became a ubiquitous meme. Now, the morally repugnant idea of gun-toting teachers in America’s schools has taken center stage in the nation’s macabre debate on gun safety.
A year ago at the World Economic Forum, China’s president, Xi Jinping, won plaudits from Davos elites for his commitment to open trade. Of course, because China’s economy is heavily dependent on exports, so-called “free trade” is in its interest, so President Xi’s stand was no surprise.
Getting the language right
National City, CA teachers, in a contract fight themselves, show solidarity
The rise and rule of Donald Trump embodies much that is disturbingly new from his almost daily narcissistic rants on Twitter to his overt racist, misogynist, and xenophobic public pronouncements. On the other hand, there are historic roots to many of the positions articulated by Trump during his presidential campaign and adopted during his presidency.
Often, it seems that the legacy of the Russian Revolution of November 1917 lays like a dead weight upon the living. Everywhere voices are raised – from anarchists to social democrats and from liberals to conservatives – telling us that we need to jettison its legacy of authoritarian socialism, of prison camps, and ultimately, of economic and social collapse. At the same time, the left of today stands for grassroots democracy, opposition to war and imperialism, opposition to racial and gender oppression, and once we move to the left of social democracy, abolition of capitalism and of the state.
Can a radical filmmaking tradition born of Perón’s Argentina reinvigorate activist cinema in Trump’s America?
While accepting an Honorary Oscar this past November, the great film director Charles Burnett spent some time reflecting on his formative years as a film student at UCLA. It was there that he and his colleagues not only learned their craft, but also laid the foundations for what would become known as the “L.A. Rebellion” — a radically independent, alternative Black Cinema movement that produced such remarkable filmmakers as Julie Dash, Haile Gerima, Billy Woodberry, Jamaa Fanaka, and Larry Clark. “We talked about ‘What is a black film?’ continuously,” Burnett explained. “‘What is our responsibility?’ ‘What do we have to do?’... We were interested in making a difference, and using film as a means for social change.”
Raoul Peck’s The Young Karl Marx is the best buddy movie since George Roy Hill’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969. It’s also among the most important films in decades, bringing to a mass audience not just the revolutionary ideas of Marx and his friend and collaborator Frederick Engels in the early days of modern capitalism, but an approach to politics and history that still has no peer. Charting the world as he saw it, Marx wrote: “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole.” Has anything changed?
As the AFL-CIO holds its day of action across the US, protesting what has been cast as a likely loss in the Janus case, which the Right intends to use to destroy labor and the Left, a movement of school employees in West Virginia is showing organized labor what it means to be a union without the right to strike and without collective bargaining.
The bizarre denialism of some on the left and right about Russiagate doesn't bode well for the future of American politics
When it comes to the Russiagate scandal, progressives usually take one of two positions.
They either dismiss the scandal as a lot of hooey, a “nothingburger,” just a way for warmongers and the “Deep State” to revive a cold war between Washington and Moscow. Or they treat the scandal as just a means to an end, a way to cast doubt on the 2016 presidential election, implicate the administration in a variety of crimes, and ultimately impeach the president.
The situation in Syria is incredibly complex, so it’s not surprising that there are conflicting interpretations of different pieces of information. But, sometimes, a claim is so clearly without merit, so obviously ludicrous, that those who promote it mark themselves, at best, as individuals wholly uninterested in examining evidence when a dubious claim conforms to their preconceived notions, or, at worst, as scoundrels.