Before turning to the current issue, we want to say a word about the new role that New Politics is playing on the left. New Politics has always been a source of analysis of national and world politics from the point of view of “socialism from below.” More recently, however, we’ve also become—as a print journal and as an online website—a locus for debate on the democratic left. Last issue we began and this issue we continue our series on “The Left We Need,” with articles by all together a dozen different left organizations.
Racism, Capitalism, and the Continuing Struggle for JusticeSummer 2015
Historically, the American justice system has refused to hold accountable police officers responsible for murder. This reality, and the fact of abuse and brutality as the modus operandi of policing in poor and working-class areas, was the catalyst of many of the “race rebellions” of the twentieth century. This century has been no different.
Police Violence, Domestic Warfare, and the Genesis of a National Movement Against State-Sanctioned Violence
Each generation has a moment when its members share an instance of collective experience that is forever etched into their memory. For the Civil Rights and Black Power generation, it was unquestionably the open-casket funeral of Emmett Till. The disfigured remains of this fourteen-year-old boy became a mirror in which black youth witnessed their most vulnerable selves. The sight was so excruciating that it helped catalyze direct action protest from rural Alabama to the streets of Oakland for nearly a decade and a half.
Raven Rakia is a journalist based in New York City. Her work is usually focused on cities, police, and prisons, and she has been published in the Nation magazine, VICE, Gothamist, Truth-Out, Medium.com’s MATTER, and The New Inquiry. You can follow her work at @aintacrow. She was interviewed by email by Amber A'Lee Frost and Saulo Colón.
Kali Akuno served as the coordinator of special projects and external funding for Jackson Mississippi’s late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. He is co-founder and director of Cooperation Jackson as well as an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. He was interviewed by email by Riad Azar and Saulo Colón, both members of the New Politics editorial board.
Raising the slogan of “Black Lives Matter,” protests have erupted across the United States. Behind this slogan is a proliferation of new organizations and networks composed of engaged millennial activists of color. On one level, it might appear that what is being constructed is an effort to address the lack of civil rights protections for African Americans.
Anyone who has participated in direct action can tell you that your first time is going to be scary, but it comes more naturally after that.
The “Justice” System and the Murders of the Civil Rights Era
Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot by an Alabama State Trooper in Marion, Ala., on Feb. 26, 1965, following a civil rights march. He died two days later. This killing sparked the Selma marches depicted in the now-famous film (the Jackson shooting is shown with a slight change in locale).
"Someone threw a rock, and like monkeys in a zoo, they all started throwing rocks.” This remark was not made in the wake of the Michael Brown grand jury verdict. It was the account of Chief William Parker, spoken decades before and 1,500 miles away, on the unrest of the 1965 Watts Riots.
I attended an event for the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination that was held in the same room where the visionary leader was murdered.
In his newest book, historian Greg Grandin provides background to Herman Melville’s classic Benito Cereno, an 1855 short novel about a slave rebellion. Reflecting on this story written almost two centuries ago, Grandin opens up space for further research by those investigating the Black Atlantic.
Special Section, continued from Winter 2015 issueSummer 2015
Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change by Barbara Winslow brings back to our attention one of the most notable and esteemed African-American women of the 1960s and 1970s. Winslow reports that “a 1974 Gallup Poll listed her as one of the top-ten most admired women in America.” She was the first black woman elected to Congress.
Earlier this year, four leaders of Young Democratic Socialists (YDS), the youth section of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), began to collaborate on a response to the New Politics prompt: What is the left we need today?
The Partido del Pueblo Trabajador—the Party of the Working People (PPT)—is a political project of the Puerto Rican left addressed to working people in the context of the island’s deep economic crisis.
If the ongoing standoff between the Syriza government and the Troika of the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) could be boiled down to its essentials, it would be this: The “institutions” will only equip the Greek economy with enough operating funds to manage a bare-bones o
Putin’s Russia is an imperialist state dominated by a capitalist oligarchy that controls the state and that has developed a bellicose attitude toward its neighbors, whom the oligarchy reproaches for having taken advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union in order to escape its century-long tutelage.
Portrait of a Continent in Crisis
Seventy years after the end of World War II and the defeat of fascism and Nazism, the extreme right is on the rise in almost every European country.
The foundations for the Arab uprisings that took place in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis were laid in the years before by the neoliberal restructuring of Middle Eastern and North African economies.
Critical Remarks on Taiwan’s Democracy and Its Aporia
Both inside and outside Taiwan, the research on Taiwan’s democratization has been overwhelmingly dominated by Western liberal discourses.
Ask anyone what neoliberalism means and they’ll tell you it’s an economic system that corresponds to a particular economic philosophy. But any real-world economic system has a corresponding political system to promote and sustain it.
The Hidden Story of Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman was not the first female superhero, but she is the best known of the modern-day costumed heroines. Armed with indestructible bracelets, her Amazonian heritage, and a “magic lasso,” the character’s inaugural debut came in the pages of All Star Comics #8 in December 1941; a month later she was showcased on the cover of Sensation Comics #1.
Reflections on an Updated Socialist-Feminist Classic
Originally published in 1979, Beyond the Fragments (BTF) was an intervention in the left by three British socialist-feminist activists who offered a thoroughgoing critique of democratic centralism and the vanguard party ideal as it was then practiced on the revolutionary left.
Murray Bookchin was one of the most prolific, original, and influential thinkers on the libertarian left. He was a major theoretician of anarchism and a passionate historian of cities and of popular uprisings and movements.
“On the banner of the International was not written ‘Proletarians of all
Jacobs’ The Frankfurt School is an outstanding piece of scholarship.
Blogs & On-Line Features
Even a somewhat cynical 71 year old socialist like me could be thrilled to see Bernie Sanders talking about the need for an American political revolution on MSNBC. To be honest, I’m not sure that I ever expected to see a leading presidential candidate say we need a revolution on prime time TV.
When Bernie Sanders says we need a political revolution, he’s mostly talking about turning many thousands of new people out to vote. That would obviously be a very good thing. It’s just not enough to win the meaningful social changes that would add up to a political revolution.
Militant Islamic State fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of Raqqa (Reuters)
In the wake of the murderous massacres in Paris, the demand for violent retaliation against Islamic State (IS) is gaining momentum. David Cameron now plans a renewed bid to secure parliamentary approval for UK air strikes against IS in Syria.
At one level, this is an understandable reaction to the fascist-like tyranny and brutality of IS. But understandable reactions and effective reactions are often two different things. The desire for retribution, no matter how seemingly justifiable in response to the slaughter of so many innocents, is not a sound basis on which to frame political and military policy.
The despicable ISIS attacks on Paris and elsewhere have unleashed intensified war and imperialist machinations over Syria and Iraq, as well as repression of immigrants and renewed Islamophobia. Can the left oppose the carnage on all sides without losing sight of its emancipatory aims?
November 20 marks the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution of 1910‐1920. The party created by that event, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is in power today. Yet, over the last nine years 60,000 people have been killed and 25,000 forcibly disappeared in the drug wars, while more than half the population lives in poverty. Foreign investment pours into Mexico to take advantage of wages lower than China’s, while the country is controlled by a handful of billionaires. One has to wonder: What happened to the Mexican Revolution?
They don't put the slogan “Live Free or Die” on New Hampshire license plates for nothing!
There has been an inspiring statewide local union response to SEIU's predictably short-sighted headquarters embrace of Hillary Clinton. This Sanders endorsement comes from public workers who know Bernie well because they live and work just across the Connecticut River from Vermont--or, in some cases, are Vermonters themselves.
The following statement of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) was published on the International Viewpoint website on November 18, 2015.
The horrific attacks that took place in Paris on Friday night left 129 dead and 352 wounded – including more than a hundred in critical condition. This indiscriminate and reactionary violence, sparked nationwide – but also worldwide – astonishment, indignation and revolt. This weekend spontaneous solidarity rallies took place.
Immanuel Ness. Southern Insurgency: The Coming of the Global Working Class. London: Pluto Press, 2016. 226 pages. Tables. Notes. Index. Paper $28.
Immanuel Ness, professor of Political Science at City University of New York and a prolific writer on labor, has written an important new book whose title, Southern Insurgency: The Coming of the Global Working Class, should, I think, have ended in a question mark. Manny, a friend and a colleague—who, when I have seen him lately, has been in a state of jetlag from his travels to centers of worker activism around the globe—argues that those interested in labor should direct their attention from the stagnant and declining labor movement of the Global North to the migrant and contract laborers in places like South Africa, India, and China who are building democratic, militant, rank-and-file movements from below—struggles that, Ness suggests, are laying the foundations of a new global labor movement.
The statement below was issued by solidaritiéS Suisse, a Swiss socialist organization on November 15.
In the last few weeks, numerous countries suffered lethal ISIS attacks: on November 13, over 130 dead in Paris; on November 12, 45 dead in Beirut; on October 10, close to 100 dead in Ankara; on August 13, close to 80 dead in Baghdad… In all cases the targeted victims were civilians. We condemn these despicable and barbaric attacks and address a message of support to all who have been and continue to be victimized by them throughout the world.
Almost a century ago, the socialist journalist John Reed wrote of the Industrial Workers of the World, popularly known as the Wobblies, “Remember, this is the only American working-class movement which sings. Tremble then at the IWW, for a singing movement is not to be beaten.” On the other hand, the sheriff of San Diego complained of his jails filled with Wobblies, “I do not know what to do. I cannot punish them. Listen to them singing all the time, and yelling and hollering, and telling the jailers to quit work and join the union.”
In celebration of the 98th anniversary of the Russian Revolution we are publishing this short extract from John Reed’s brilliant eyewitness account, Ten Days That Shook The World. Reed was a socialist journalist from the USA, who described the revolution as: “Adventure it was, and one of the most marvelous mankind ever embarked upon.”
This section is from the night before the insurrection of November 7th, 1917. The full text is available on Marxists.org.
A reading of police coercive strategies, emerging social movements and achievements
In response to the failure of the state to manage and dispose of accumulated trash, a series of protests erupted in Lebanon in August 2015 demanding the toppling of the Lebanese corrupt regime and the basic rights for water, electricity and a clean healthy environment. This article provides an overview of the strategies used by the state to dismantle the protest movements, a class reading of the social movements three months into the protests, and an analysis of the strengths and achievements of the demonstrations.
The Mexican and U.S. government first agreed to the creation of the maquiladora plants along the U.S.-Mexico border in 1965 and already by 1975 there were strikes for union recognition. Yet in the last 40 years, thanks to the cooperation of the multinational corporations and the U.S. and Mexican government virtually no group of workers has succeeded in organizing a genuinely independent labor union. Most plants have no unions. Some plants have unions run by lawyers and gangsters who are allied with the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the government. A combination of legal chicanery, intimidation, and violence have been used to keep workers from organizing. Now, once again, after many years there are labor protests in Ciudad Juarez one of the major maquiladora centers across the border from El Paso Texas as reported by Kent Paterson of Frontera NorteSur News where this article originally appeared.- Dan La Botz
In a virtually unprecedented development, labor protest is widening in the maquiladora industry of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. While worker dissatisfaction or protest is nothing new in the foreign-owned border factories that produce goods for export to the United States, previous manifestations of discontent in the generally union-free industry have usually been confined to one company at a time.