Web Only Articles
|by Will Solomon October 1, 2015|
Economic oppression remains ubiquitous. In the West we are moving towards, or are already at, a condition of corporate governance enforced by the state apparatus. This is not capitalism as it is commonly understood— allowing for the ostensibly free pursuit of capital, an open market economy— nor is it democracy, or even sovereign nation states. It is a new corporatocracy, in which powerfully entrenched (international) corporations reign supreme, and define policy and economic planning in perpetuity.
|September 28, 2015|
Considering the harsh reality of austerity, New Politics is encouraged by the struggles against it. One place where this fight has taken place is Puerto Rico. There, colonial capitalism has forced a new massive migration from the island. More Puerto Ricans currently live in the Diaspora than in the country itself.
To understand this situation better we invite you to a talk with Rafael Bernabe, a socialist activist and member of the Working People's Party of Puerto Rico.
Greece still has alternatives. What mix of compromise and confrontation could yield something better than more austerity?
|by Nantina Vgontzas September 25, 2015|
|by Denny Walker Crum September 22, 2015|
The United Auto Workers union (UAW) has reached a tentative agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and is presenting the proposed contract to its members for a vote beginning this week. The contract affects some 40,000 unionized hourly workers.
At the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007 the UAW agreed to let Fiat Chrysler establish two tiers, that is, workers doing the same job would have different rates of pay, with newer workers sometimes working for $17 an hour while more senior workers might earn as much $28 an hour. Such a system had been introduced earlier in the auto parts plants.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Personal Quest for Survival
|by Sungur Savran September 19, 2016|
The Kurdish town of Cizre, a settlement with a population of approximately 150 thousand souls in Southeastern Turkey, is now under siege by the Turkish armed forces and the so-called “special operation force” of the police for a second time, after a previous one-week long siege was lifted for an interlude of two days. Around-the-clock curfew is accompanied by power cuts and the interruption of all means of communication including mobile telephones and the Internet. The evidence that came out when the first round of siege was lifted attests to a terrible human drama. Over 30 civilians are dead, ranging from a 35-day old infant to a 75-year old man.
|by Scott Szpisjak September 16, 2015|
Recently the local food movement seems to have sprung up from nowhere. Yuppies are flocking to farmer’s markets and community gardens across the nation to help the environment and local farmers. But this movement is not at all inclusive; urban agriculture has often been actively suppressed amongst low income populations. This is not always the case, however, especially in times of economic crisis. For example, in the seventies, urban agriculture was promoted in New York’s Lower East Side as a productive way to use land that served no other purpose. But when the gentrification of SoHo spread in the eighties as the economy improved, land prices shot up and gardens which had been tolerated previously were bulldozed with nary a thought to the people who relied on them for access to healthy food.
|by Matt Bruenig September 15, 2015|
Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership of the UK Labour Party. As usually happens when the left scores an electoral victory, the center-left and others has made sure to inform Corbyn and his supporters that it is bad that he won and that he never should have tried to win. I am more familiar with this in the American context where every left-wing electoral effort is similarly cast as irresponsible. Given these attitudes, I am left to wonder what exactly people think the left is supposed to do electorally?
|September 12, 2015|
[The following item comes from the Jill Stein campaign for the Green Party presidential nomination.]
Now is the time to support a serious, independent, left candidate for Presidential in 2016. Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for President, is already garnering media attention, building support in social justice movements and frontline struggles and taking on the undemocratic Presidential Debate Commission.
|Nikos Evangelos (Nicholas Levis) September 12, 2015|
The Greek Drama of 2015: What Next?
a talk by Nicholas Levis (Nikos Evangelos)
The preliminary report of the parliamentary Truth Committee on Public Debt declared the entire Greek debt to be odious, unethical, unsustainable and illegal. Do they have a case?
Sunday, September 13, 2015
2:00 - 3:00pm
International Affairs Building, Room 409
Columbia University, Manhattan
Entrance at 118th Street and Amsterdam
|by Arun Gupta September 11, 2015|
Interview with Arun Gupta, journalist and a founding editor of New York City’s Indypendent newspaper, conducted by Scott Harris:
It’s been almost three years since the movement for a living wage burst into protest, first in New York City and then in dozens of other cities and towns across the U.S.
|by Joseph Daher September 6, 2015|
Lebanon had experienced some major protests in early 2011 against the sectarian regime following the regional popular uprisings, but the movement unfortunately ended a few months later, especially after the sabotage of several religious and reactionary parties against the movement and with the complicity of leftist movements of Stalinist tradition.
|by Riad Azar August 31, 2015|
Review of Michael Gould-Wartofsky, The Occupiers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Occupy was the largest political mobilization of my lifetime. The explosion of energy it produced gave the feeling of perpetuity, with thousands of volunteers supporting each other through donations of food and standing together in solidarity against the police. But as the encampments became rooted, many had to check their excitement with a growing sense of disillusionment. It was clear that the Occupy strategy, and how it played out in practice, was rife with weaknesses that were ultimately exploited by those who sought to destroy Occupy and the discourse that it created.
|by E. Haberkern August 30, 2015|
Jean Batou’s article Putin, The War in the Ukraine, and the Far Right in Volume XV No. 3 of New Politics, despite briefly acknowledging in its final paragraphs the role of NATO in the Ukrainian crisis, basically echoes the party-line apologists for NATO and American imperialism.
|by Lawrence Ware August 30, 2015|
I was sitting in a one-bedroom apartment watching the telethon for Hurricane Katrina when it happened. After a commercial break, Kanye West stood nervously looking like he was about to do something that would end his career. He was fidgety and sweating when he said it: “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” It was a transcendent moment for Black America.
|by Paul Street August 30, 2015|
In a recent New Politics essay, Dan La Botz argues that “the debate between” Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and the Black Lives Matter (#BLM) movement is “one of the most important discussions of our time.” It is “a great debate about the priorities and the program of the American people” that “could lead to the construction of a new analysis and lay the basis for a new and broad social movement” that helps us “find a new way forward against both capitalism and racism” – “a new movement that combines the fight for greater economic equality with demand for racial justice, perhaps a movement for socialism.”
|Leo Panitch and Richard Fidler August 28, 2015|
This is a video of a recent debate between Leo Panitch and Richard Fidler who discuss their differing socialist analyses of the politics of SYRIZA.
The debate was moderated by Susan Spronk.
The video is from Links: Journal for International Socialist Renewal but the debate was organized by the Socialist Project (Canada).
|by Arturo J. Viscarra August 27, 2015|
One month from today marks the first anniversary of the horrific state crime perpetrated against the students of the Ayotzinapa teachers' college in Mexico.
On September 26 and 27, 2014, Mexican police attacked protesting students from Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero. The police killed six people, including three students and three bystanders. They forcibly disappeared 43 Ayotzinapa students, who remain missing.
|MayFirst/PeopleLink August 26, 2015|
May First/People Link is being attacked in a Denial of Service attack that is unprecedented in its length and viciousness. We have been fighting off this attack for over three weeks now.
We are convinced that the attack is political. We know how the attackers are targeting us, we know they are targeting the entire organization's systems and we know that they are carefully monitoring our responses because they are quickly adapting to every move our technologists make to return us to service.
|by David Finkel August 25, 2015|
(NOTE: For some background, see my previous article: www.solidarity-us.org/node/4058 in Against the Current, January-February 2014.)
AUGUST 19 -- Even while the rhetoric around the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran seems to be reaching reactor-grade “critical” level, signs are emerging that the fix just may be quietly in.
|by Alexander Kolokotronis August 22, 2015|
On July 20 at least thirty-two people were killed and at least 100 people were wounded by an ISIS suicide bomber. The attack took place in the Turkish town of Suruç, which stands only thirty miles away from the Syrian border. The victims, members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF), were part of a 300-person contingent en route to Kobanî to assist in reconstruction efforts. The group consisted of a number of Turkish and Kurdish anarchist and socialist youth. As such, the solidaristic venture represented a major effort to create further bridges between the broader Turkish left and the Kurdish left.
|by Mimi Soltysik August 17, 2015|
The following is an email interview with Mimi Soltysik, a member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Party USA. He is currently seeking the Socialist Party's nomination for the 2016 US Presidential election. This interview was originally published by The Hampton Institute.
Tell us about yourself and your politics.
Here’s the statement I made when I announced my intent to run for the Socialist Party USA's POTUS nomination. I think it fairly well captures who I am and where I stand politically:
|by Samuel R. Friedman August 13, 2015|
Ukraine went through mass mobilizations and a political revolution during November, 2014 – February, 2015. In this it resembles struggles in Tunisia and Egypt since 2010, and as in the Egyptian case, the outcomes of these struggles (to date) have sorely disappointed most of the left in the United States and, indeed, internationally. Unlike the Egyptian and Tunisian struggles, however, from its outset the struggles in Ukraine were seen in remarkably contrasting ways by different parts of the left. () Some have viewed the Maidan struggles as an illegitimate movement that supported US (or US/EU) imperialism and should thus be opposed. Others have viewed it more favorably.
|by Stephen R. Shalom August 12, 2015|
In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Nelson Denis describes the horrendous economic situation in Puerto Rico and compellingly shows the source of the problem to be the continuing colonial exploitation of the island by the U.S. government acting on behalf of key U.S.
|Marc Becker August 12, 2015|
Ecuador’s Indigenous movements have launched an uprising to challenge the government’s opposition to bilingual education and its support for an extractive-based economy.
On August 2, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) began a march from the southeastern Amazonian province of Zamora Chinchipe that will arrive in the capital city of Quito on August 13. Upon its arrival, the Indigenous march will join a general strike called by the Workers United Front (FUT) in opposition to the government’s labor policies.
|by Joanne Landy August 10, 2016|
I don't support Bernie in the Democratic Party because I believe the key question in U.S. politics is building a political party that can defend the needs of the vast majority of the American people. As more and more people on the left agree, the Democratic Party is not and cannot be such a party; to my mind this constraint makes paramount the political independence of candidates, no matter how progressive their program.
|by Mia Kim Sullivan August 10, 2015|
I wanted to write and let you know why I support the doctors and clinic workers of Planned Parenthood who help people obtain abortions, often at great personal cost.
The current call to defund Planned Parenthood has been coordinated with attack videos that are highly edited in order to demonize the doctors who were filmed. As David Cohen and Krysten Connon document in their book, “Living in the Crosshairs,” the personal nature of political attacks on abortion in this country have led to harassment, stalking, and violence against providers and their families.
|by Michael McPhearson August 9, 2015|
As those committed to social justice in St. Louis prepare to mark the August 9th killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown Jr. by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, we know that many in the region would like us to just go away. Enough already, they say. Why commemorate something so sad and wrong, anyway? Let’s just move on. But we’re at the beginning, not the end of this struggle. It’s not time to move on, and this day calls for reflection.
|by Sandy Boyer August 8, 2015|
Edward E. Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. Basic Books, 2014. 528 pages. Paperback, $19.
“Changes that reshaped the entire world began on the auction block where enslaved migrants stood, or in the frontier cotton fields where they toiled...Enslaved African Americans built the modern United States, and indeed the entire modern world, in ways both obvious and hidden.”
-- Edward Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told
This vital and enthralling book reveals how U.S. capitalism was built on the torture of enslaved people. Edward Baptist quotes a Mississippi overseer telling his friends that “the whip was as important to making cotton grow as sunshine and rain.” The whip “might open deep gashes in the skin of its victim, make them 'tremble' or 'dance'...but it did not disable them.”
|by Ricardo R. Fuentes Ramírez August 7, 2015|
Paul Krugman’s analysis of the Puerto Rican debt crisis has subtle problems, but with big policy implications. Overall, his piece hits key points that other economists continue to miss: 1) Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis is closely related to its economic depression, 2) the government patched up the problem with borrowing, instead of going to the root of it, 3) Puerto Rico’s low rate of labor force participation is not necessarily a result of welfare, 4) the situation is exacerbated by the Jones Act, 5) too much austerity can be self-defeating, and 6) it would be a terrible idea to give the hedge funds what they want (destroying the island’s education system in the name of fiscal responsibility). All of these points demonstrate Krugman understands the Puerto Rican case better than many Puerto Rican policy makers and economists. However, the subtle problems in his piece should be further discussed.
Anti-Abortion hackers attack progressive web organization
|by Editors August 6, 2015|
May First/People Link is the organization that hosts the New Politics website. But it is more than a hosting platform: it is a membership-based political community that tries to use the Internet to advance progressive causes. It has now come under attack by rightwing anti-abortion hackers because it hosts the National Network of Abortion Funds. We express our solidarity with May First/People Link and with the National Network of Abortion Funds. Below is the statement sent by May First/People Link to its members on August 4.
The Iran Nuclear Deal in Perspective
|by Stephen R. Shalom August 5, 2015|
Of course Congress should endorse the Iran deal. The renunciation of the agreement by Congress would have disastrous consequences for the Middle East, empowering warmongers everywhere, but especially in Washington, Tel Aviv, and Tehran.
There are three motives driving opponents of the deal.
|by Jill Stein August 5, 2015|
Jill Stein is campaigning as a Green Party candidate for the 2016 presidential race. She says we need real solutions for the economic, social and environmental crises we face. But the broken political system is only making things worse. It's time to build a people's movement to end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of every person.
|by Bryant Sculos August 4, 2015|
In the United States, even more so since the advent of twenty-four hour news channels, there is a consistent fetishization of political candidates. Who is viable? Who is trust-worthy? Whose ideas best fit with the prevailing public opinion polls on certain issues at a given time? Who has the most attractive haircut or family? Who has the right skin color, gender, or business experience to win over key demographics?
Though few of us are under any illusions that this country is or has ever been a genuine democracy, it seems that even those people who are not convinced by the patriotic rhetoric of the purity of American democracy too often acquiesce to the “all of our hopes rest in a single individual or political party” approach to politics. If socialism means anything beyond mass resistance to capitalism, it should be resistance to this mindset. When we fetishize the candidate we marginalize true democracy, the cornerstone of socialism.
|by United Auto Workers Local 2865 July 27, 2015|
United Auto Workers Local 2865 representing 13,000 teaching assistants and other student workers throughout the University of California system, called on the AFL-CIO to end its affiliation with the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) in a resolution passed by its governing body on July 25. This is the union’s resolution passed by the union:
We, UAW Local 2865, call on the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to end their affiliation with the International Union of Police Associations.
|by Gary Zabel July 26, 2015|
While in Athens, I have gotten into the habit of ending the day by enjoying an iced coffee with cream in an outdoor cafe in a park about one mile from my hotel. It is there that I have been writing these dispatches. As I remarked in my first report, the park the cafe is in is filled with children, teenagers, young couples, the middle-aged, and old people until quite late. The cafe does not start to empty until after midnight.
|by Carlos Rovira July 25, 2015|
For the many people who have engaged in the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence, July 25 has a special significance. On that date in 1898, U.S. troops invaded Puerto Rico, beginning a period of U.S. colonial domination on the island that continues to this day. The United States invaded Puerto Rico, along with the Philippines, Guam and Cuba, in the setting of the Spanish-American War. That war was the opening of what would be the menacing role and predatory nature of the U.S. capitalist class in the Caribbean, Latin America and the entire world.
|by Tim DeChristopher July 24, 2015|
As a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, my first reaction to hearing about the Black Lives Matter protest at Netroots Nation was disappointment. This looks bad, I thought. Bad for Bernie, who is the only presidential candidate with any chance of challenging structural injustice. And bad for Black Lives Matter, who could easily be interpreted as shutting down progressive discussions about immigration and economic inequality to make people focus on their priorities. I’ve had my share of mistakes during protests, as have all the activists I respect most, so I certainly had some sympathy. But I thought their protest was just that: a mistake.
|Saulo Colón and Daniel Vila July 23, 2015|
On Monday June 29, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro García Padilla, delivered a live message to the people of Puerto Rico stating that the government’s $73 billion debt is unpayable. The governor stated, “The public debt, considering the present level of economic activity, is unpayable”.
|by Heriberto Martínez-Otero and Ian J. Seda-Irizarry July 20, 2015|
In this brief essay we offer a general and immediate overview of the socioeconomic situation in Puerto Rico. We do it while recognizing that such an analysis is incomplete if the historical, institutional, and political dimensions within the uneven development of capitalism are left out. In this particular case we do not explicitly deal with the colonial relationship of the island with the United States or provide a structural analysis of the economy (these dimensions will be treated in a forthcoming comprehensive article).
|by Dan Swain July 17, 2015|
Dan Swain discusses the contested ambitions and leaderships within our movements. This article was originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of the rs21 magazine.
Throughout the history of socialist movements and ideas, the fundamental divide is between Socialism-from-Above and Socialism-from-Below
|by Peter Drucker July 13, 2015|
In the summer of 1994, my partner and I happened to be on vacation in Stockholm for the Pride celebration, so we joined in. I remember it as a rather modest, subdued affair compared to the ebullient marches I remembered from New York and San Francisco. But what struck me most was the lesbian/gay federation’s emphasis on legal recognition for same-sex partnerships, at a time when Sweden banned sex in gay bathhouses. I thought these were upside-down priorities. Swedish same-sex couples would win in fact the right to register for partnership benefits in 1995, while the ban on bathhouse sex stayed on the books until 2004. What a curious country this is, I remember thinking.
|by Lily Murphy July 11, 2015|
In the Ireland of 1922, a civil war tore through the land and in its path it ripped apart families and friendships. It also created a deeper wedge in an unstable society where the church grappled for top position in an emerging new state.
The Irish Republican Army had fought a War of Independence against British rule for over three years and, led by the young enigmatic Michael Collins, it managed to push the British government to the negotiating table.
|by Michael Hirsch July 11, 2015|
A review of The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists, by Stephen Eric Bronner, Yale University Press, 2014.
|by Saulo Colón July 9, 2015|
In this TeleSur interview with Rafael Bernabe, the spokesperson for the Puerto Rican Working Peoples Party advocates for a moratorium on the debt. Bernabe has written an extensive article in the current Summer 2015 issue of New Politics.
|by Bryant Sculos July 9, 2015|
“Rich people are the fucking worst.” This is the premise and title of Sean Illing’s recent Salon.com article (June 22, 2015). While I agree with his sentiment, the argument that follows this provocative title leaves a lot—too much—to be desired. Illing is a self-professed progressive, and the purpose of his article was to discuss the various “new” ways the rich are expressing disgust for the poor or anyone who isn’t rich, in the context of the on-going drought in California. While I completely agree that “rich people are the fucking worst,” Illing misses the proper target of critique. Rich people do indeed suck. However, progressivism itself sucks, and here’s why: it misses the systemic root problem. The rich suck, because capitalism encourages them to suck.
|by Aidan Harper July 9, 2015|
On Saturday, June 20, a quarter of a million people marched in London from the Bank of England to the Houses of Parliament in order to protest against the Conservative government’s planned spending cuts to public services. This was the largest single demonstration against austerity to date and reflected to a degree the revival of a radical political left in Britain after decades in the wilderness.
|July 7, 2015|
The following is a statement on the Greek Crisis issued by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Association (IUF) on July 1, 2105.
A specter is haunting Europe - the specter of a democratic alternative to austerity. The Syriza government of Greece incarnates that alternative, which is why the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) have allied with the IMF to exorcise the challenge it represents. With few exceptions, political parties of every persuasion have tacitly or actively supported the anti-Syriza coalition.
|by Joanne Landy July 6, 2015|
I find it odd that my friend and fellow New Politics board member Riad Azar should center his criticism of Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy on Sanders’ supposed “irresponsible” “isolationism.”
It seems to me that a critique of Bernie’s foreign policy should begin by criticizing him for voting for the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution that paved the way for U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, and for refusing to unequivocally condemn Israel’s shameful 2014 war on the people of Gaza. These positions might or might not be sufficient to preclude support for Bernie if he or someone like him ran as an independent -- to my mind that would depend on the overall dynamic and trajectory of the campaign -- but in any case they represent Bernie’s deep failure to consistently break with U.S. global imperialism and Israeli repression, and should form the central part of a critical assessment of his foreign policy stance.
|by Charles Post July 6, 2015|
Steve Fraser, The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015)
All of us on the left are all too familiar with the capitalist offensive of the past forty years. Under the banner of “neo-liberalism” capital has rolled back almost every gain working people across the world have made since the 1930s. All sorts of public industries, services and institutions have been privatized, social welfare programs that protected workers from the worst insecurities of the labor-market have been rolled back or simply abolished and unions and working class political parties that had traditionally organized and represented working people have been severely weakened.
|by Riad Azar July 3, 2015|
Regardless of one's views on whether or not the socialist left should support Bernie Sanders in his race for the White House, the momentum behind the self-described “democratic socialist” has been impressive. Beginning at 2% in April, his popularity grew to 14% in May and at last check was 32% in New Hampshire.
|by Stephen R. Shalom June 29, 2015|
How are we to assess the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign?
There are three reasons that one runs a candidate for president. One is the hope of winning, second is to influence other candidates to modify their views, and third is to use the campaign to build for the future, either educationally or organizationally.
|by Steve Early June 26, 2015|
Grassroots labor initiative urges Democratic primary support for Sanders by AFL-CIO and national unions.
Over 1,000 union activists from around the country today kicked off Labor for Bernie 2016.
|by Daniel Johnson June 25, 2015|
In the weeks leading up to the June 7 parliamentary election in Turkey communities across the country were gripped with a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and fear. Though President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan was supposed to be above the fray of party politics, the former two-term prime minister and co-founder of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) made no secret of his hopes for an AKP victory, as he rallied and spoke continuously in the weeks and months before the election. 367 seats in the 550-member parliament would make possible Erdoğan’s desire to change the Turkish government from a parliamentary to a presidential system, thereby enhancing executive, and Erdoğan’s, grip on political power.
|by Jason Schulman June 24, 2015|
Werner Bonefeld, Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy: On Subversion and Negative Reason, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014, 246 pp.
|by Todd Chretien and Claudio Katz June 24, 2015|
[Introduction by Todd Chretien: In the run-up to Argentina's national elections in October, a scramble for power has divided the incumbent Peronista party into warring factions. Founded by Juan Perón in 1946, the Partido Justicialista ruled through sometimes radical nationalism, state intervention in the economy, clientelist patronage and control over trade unions, and the loyalty of sections of the bourgeoisie and an elite political class of bureaucrats.
|by Dan La Botz June 14, 2015|
Despite widespread disillusionment with the political system, an organized attempt to prevent the election from taking place in a few states, and continuing economic doldrums, President Enrique Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) were the big winners in the Mexican election, followed by the conservative National Action Party (PAN).
|by Thomas Harrison June 14, 2015|
Despite his relatively low poll numbers at the moment, Bernie Sanders’ bid for the Democratic presidential nomination is catching fire and will undoubtedly attract a great many more supporters in the months to come. For radicals, and especially for socialists in the “third camp” tradition (so called from the time of the Cold War, when our tendency stood for revolutionary opposition to both camps) this poses a challenge.
|by Tienanmien Mothers June 7, 2015|
A quarter century has passed since the June Fourth Massacre that took place in Beijing, China’s capital, near the end of the last century. But the truth of this tragedy has to this day not been laid bare to the world, and the massacre victims, who have still not received justice, cannot rest in peace. This is a disgrace for the whole Chinese people, and a disgrace for all of civilized humanity!
|by David McReynolds June 4, 2015|
I haven’‘t had a chance yet to write up my own view of the Bernie Sanders campaign, but I want to give some background, going back to 1980, on what I know about the man.
In 1980 I was in Vermont trying to get on the ballot for the Presidential campaign - seeking the line of Liberty Union, a minor party which had hoped to become a ‘‘second party” in Vermont.
Liberty Union’s own history goes back to the late 1960’s when there was an effort in several states, at the height of the Vietnam War, to get alternative radical views on the ballot. The main base for this effort was in California, with the Peace and Freedom Party which, in 1968, nominated Eldridge Cleaver for President. (I ran for Congress in Lower Manhattan on that ticket that year, picking up the endorsement of the Village Voice and getting nearly 5% of the vote).
|by Alan Maass and Ashley Smith June 6, 2015|
The following introduction is by the editors of SocialistWorker.org where this FAQ was originally published.
Bernie Sanders kicked off his campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination with a large and enthusiastic rally in Burlington, Vermont, on May 26.
Sanders’ candidacy has prompted discussion and debate among a left shaped by recent struggles such as Occupy Wall Street, the Chicago teachers strike, Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter and the climate justice movement. Many radicals, publications and organizations either support Sanders’ Democratic Party run outright or believe his campaign can be used to build the infrastructure for a stronger left. By contrast, SocialistWorker.org has argued Sanders’ campaign will serve to corral and co-opt the emerging left into supporting the Democratic Party--and make it harder, not easier, to build an independent, left-wing alternative.
Here, Ashley Smith and Alan Maass respond to some of the questions and disagreements posed by SocialistWorker.org readers during the course of the discussion so far.
|by Nizar Visram May 28, 2015|
More than 800 migrants died on April 19 this year when their overcrowded boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast. The tragedy sent soaring this year's Mediterranean death toll which was by then around 1,500 – 10 times the deaths during the same period last year.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), between 23,000 and 24,000 migrants had tried to cross over to Italy since the beginning of the year, while just under 21,000 migrants made the same journey between January and April 2014. While the number of migrants rose to some extent, migrants perishing at sea have hit the roof.
|by Jason Schulman May 27, 2015|
I appreciate the nonsectarian tone of the piece on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign by my longtime fellow New Politics editorial board member and friend Barry Finger. I think he has a better, more sophisticated understanding of the peculiarities of the Democratic Party (DP) and the U.S. electoral system than do many on the radical left that refuse to support any DP candidate regardless of that candidate’s personal political platform. However, I think that Barry still suffers from certain misunderstandings regarding just how different the big two U.S. political parties are from political parties that exist anywhere else in the world, and this means there are defects in his suggestions as to how left-wing socialists should relate to the Sanders campaign.
|by Howie Hawkins May 27, 2015|
Bernie Sanders’ entry into the Democratic presidential primaries should be seen as his final decisive step away from the democratic socialism he professes to support. He will raise some progressive demands in the primaries and then endorse the corporate Democrat, Hillary Clinton. Nothing changes.
Sanders is violating the first principle of socialist politics: class independence. The socialist movement learned that principle long ago when the business classes sold out the workers in the democratic revolutions of 1848 that swept across Europe and parts of Latin America.
Campaigning With Bernie, Then and Now: Why Labor Should Give Sanders Strong Primary Election Support
|by Steve Early May 27, 2015|
When I first met Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders, he was a pretty marginal figure in his adopted state of Vermont. It was 1976 and he was running, unsuccessfully and for the fourth time, as a candidate of the Liberty Union Party (LUP).
Never heard of it? Well that’s understandable because only Vermonters are still afflicted with its enduring flakiness. Liberty Union (LUP) was a radical third party spearheaded by opponents of the Vietnam War who had, like Bernie, washed up in the Green Mountain State as “the Sixties” subsided.
|by Barry Finger May 26, 2015|
As proponents of independent political action, we believe that the Democratic Party is a deathtrap for progressives and that history has demonstrated time and again that progressive movements immersed in the DP are stripped of their potential political power. Nevertheless, we cannot judge the potential of the Sanders’ movement solely by our attitude towards the Democratic Party, any more than we can evaluate the Democratic Party by the enormous potential contribution an unshackled Sanders movement may yet contribute to fundamental political change.
|by Lily Murphy May 25, 2015|
On May 23, 2015 Ireland finally threw off the shackles of a conservative Catholic past and voted in favor of social equality.
The Irish electorate was asked to vote in a referendum to include gay marriage in our constitution and we agreed in great numbers to this proposal.
Many young people who had to leave Ireland in recent years due to austerity, managed to make the journey back home to vote yes. They sailed home and flew home under the hash tag “home to vote” which lit up Twitter and many had aspirations of returning for good once the land of their birth shakes off its recessionary hangover, but for the meantime they can proudly boast they took part in creating a Irish society everyone can live in.
|Isidro López, Emmanuel Rodríguez, &Pablo Carmona May 21, 2015|
Podemos can still change Spain for the better. But it won’t do so by chasing the political center.
The strategic debate inside Podemos has become a public issue. Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the Spanish party, even recently jumped into the discussionwith an article explicitly inspired by Antonio Gramsci. But beyond the direct leadership of the party, the strategy debate involves something that pertains to everyone — to the scores of people and social sectors who desire a profound transformation of the Spanish political reality.
|by Ethan Young May 17, 2015|
Dan La Botz’s description of the Future of the Left/Independent Politics Conference makes another introduction redundant. Instead, I’ll add my own observations. I come from the other side of this discussion: I hold with the `inside/outside’ approach to electoral politics, as pushed by the late Arthur Kinoy, a radical lawyer who led the National Committee for Independent Political Action in the 70s and 80s. Putting it simply, I supported left independent Barry Commoner for president in 1980, and Democrat Harold Washington for mayor of Chicago in 1983. This year, I support Kshama Sawant and Bernie Sanders. I see no contradiction – in fact I think it’s the only approach that makes sense.
|by John Halle May 16, 2015|
Any discussion of this subject needs to be based on the understanding that, at present, voting is carefully designed to, in Chomsky's words "reduce the population to apathy and obedience", putting us in a position where we are forced to demonstrate our fealty to the corporate state by actively endorsing one of its two anointed representatives.
|by Arun Gupta May 14, 2015|
This is the latest in a series of articles discusing the pros and cons of a Bernie Sanders campaign in the Democratic Party. Scroll down to find other articles. - Ed.
In the general election, the Democrats need the left to be silent about how bankrupt and corrupt the party is so it can gloss its rush to the right in a veneer of progressive rhetoric.
If you’re progressive or on the left, here’s your cheat sheet on how to participate in the 2016 presidential election, which is just 18 months away. If you live in one of the first states in the Democratic primary process, like Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, vote for Bernie Sanders. You can also sign an online petition for him, if you’re into that sort of thing. If you chance upon one of his campaign rallies and have nothing better to do, join the crowd.
But don’t do anything else. Don’t become a campaign volunteer, do phone banking, door knocking, get the vote, and certainly don’t send him a dime of your money.
Bernie Sanders Calls for Political Revolution Against Billionaires: Campaign Needs to Build Independent Political Power
|by Philip Locker|
This is the latest in a series of articles discusing the pros and cons of a Bernie Sanders campaign in the Democratic Party. Scroll down to find other articles. - Ed.
Boldly calling for a “political revolution” against the “billionaires and oligarchs” who have hijacked the political system, Bernie Sanders has launched an insurgent campaign for President. The only self-described socialist in Congress, Sanders explained his decision to run to ABC News, saying “We need a political revolution in this country involving millions of people who are prepared to stand up and say ‘Enough is enough,’ and I want to help lead that effort.”
|by Michael Hirsch May 12, 2015|
Voltaire wrote that “the best is the enemy of the good," but he cited it as a foible and not a redeeming practice. Within hours of Bernie Sanders announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Party presidential nod on April 30th, in some warrens of the radical left, the long corrective knives were already out for the only socialist in Congress. Why? Because Bernie is just not good enough, they said. Criticism ranged from his being a faux socialist, a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton whose backing by the left would be a practical waste of a year that could be better spent building a movement. Politicking for a candidate who can’t win the nomination and who would be destroyed by corporate America and an avalanche of corporate funding if somehow he did was seen as a mug's game.
They would be wrong.
|by Marieme Helie Lucas May 10, 2015|
The Women’s Court on war crimes against women during the war in the 1990ies formally started in Sarajevo, Bosnia on May 7.
Women came together from all the corners of the former-Yugoslavia to participate in the Women’s Court in Sarajevo, to demand justice for the crimes committed against them during the wars and the enduring inequalities and suffering that followed.
|by Lily Murphy May 9, 2015|
On May 22 this year, people in the Republic of Ireland will exercise their democratic right by going to the polls to vote on two proposals to change the constitution. The first proposal is to allow same sex couples the right to marry each other. It is a proposal that has created much debate across the nation but one in which many favour and looks set to pass comfortably. The second proposal is one which has sparked less of a debate and it is worrying.
|by Ted Glick May 9, 2015|
This is the latest in a series of articles discusing the pros and cons of a Bernie Sanders campaign in the Democratic Party. Scroll down to find other articles. - Ed.
“If you had a President who said: `Nobody in America is going to make less than $12 or $14 an hour,’ what do you think that would do? If you had a President who said: `You know what, everybody in this country is going to get free primary health care within a year,’ what do you think that would do? If you had a President say, `Every kid in this country is going to go to college regardless of their income,’ what do you think that would do? If you had a President say, `I stand here today and guarantee you that we are not going to cut a nickel in Social Security; in fact we’re going to improve the Social Security program,’ what do you think that would do? If you had a president who said, `Global warming is the great planetary crisis of our time, I’m going to create millions of jobs as we transform our energy system. I know the oil companies don’t like it. I know the coal companies don’t like it. But that is what this planet needs: we’re going to lead the world in that direction. We’re going to transform the energy system across this planet-and create millions of jobs while we do that.’ If you had a President say that, what kind of excitement would you generate from young people all over this world?”
-Bernie Sanders, from the November, 2013 issue of The Progressive
|by Peter Dreier May 8, 2015|
This article is republished here with the permission of the author, Peter Dreier, and of American Prospect.
Now that Bernie Sanders has entered the contest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Americans are going to hear a lot about socialism, because the 73-year-old U.S. senator from Vermont describes himself as a “democratic socialist.”
|by Bruce A. Dixon May 18, 2015|
“The sheepdog is a card the Democratic Party plays every presidential primary season when there's no White House Democrat running for re-election.”
Spoiler alert: we have seen the Bernie Sanders show before, and we know exactly how it ends. Bernie has zero likelihood of winning the Democratic nomination for president over Hillary Clinton. Bernie will lose, Hillary will win. When Bernie folds his tent in the summer of 2016, the money, the hopes and prayers, the year of activist zeal that folks put behind Bernie Sanders' either vanishes into thin air, or directly benefits the Hillary Clinton campaign.
|by Bhaskar Sunkara May 7, 2015|
We should welcome Bernie Sanders' run, while being aware of its limits.
"I am not a capitalist soldier. I am a proletarian revolutionist. . . . I am opposed to every war but one.” So said Senator Bernie Sanders in 1979, reciting a speech from five-time Socialist Party of America presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs for a Folkways Records collection.
|by Ashley Smith May 6, 2015|
The upcoming presidential contest was shaping up to be one of the most underwhelming in electoral history. An heir to the Bush dynasty, real estate magnate Jeb, looked like the safest bet to become the Republican presidential nominee, and challenge the anointed frontrunner from the Democrats' leading dynasty, corporate drone Hilary Clinton.
|by George Fish May 6, 2015|
It’s all over the news, mainstream and left/alternative alike, as well as social media, and is certainly one of the most important items of political news of recent vintage: after much consideration and testing of the political waters, Bernie Sanders (whom only the staid New York Times refers to as “Bernard”!), Independent Senator from Vermont and self-proclaimed “democratic socialist,” is running for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
|by Bill Drew May 5, 2015|
This is the fifth in a series of articles about the Chicago mayor and council elections. Scroll down to find others. - Eds.
Chicago hasn’t seen such electoral contention since the days of Dick and Jane – and Harold. Even in defeat, the Jesús “Chuy” Garcia challenge brought a familiar spirit back to the city by the lake. No one expected the immigrant from Durango to challenge the abrasive Rahm in a run off. Nor could we have have predicted the surprising synergy that would result from over a dozen insurgent ward campaigns and Chuy’s crusade. In the 12th ward on the Southwest side, we learned that politics is local.
|by Andrew Raposa April 26, 2015|
It is extraordinary how relevant Marxist thought is becoming at a time of lingering financial crisis in the US and abroad. The financial debacle of 2008, and its continuous scourge, has at least meant that the words socialism and Marx are no longer distained but fashionable. In fact, the conventional capitalist analysis of Marxism that sees it as nothing but totally irrelevant and not applicable to a modern free and liberal social order is now in question.
|by Steve Early April 24, 2015|
Liz Nikazmerad is a rarity in American labor: a local union president under the age of 30, displaying both youth and militancy. For the last two year years, she has led the 180-member Local 203 of the United Electrical Workers (UE), while working in the produce department of City Market in Burlington, Vermont. Thanks to their contract bargaining, full-time and part-time employees of this bustling community-owned food cooperative currently enjoy good medical benefits.
|by Michael Hirsch April 23, 2015|
Review of: Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, by Zephyr Teachout. Harvard University Press, 2014
|by Kim Scipes April 21, 2015|
Steve Ellner, editor. Latin America’s Radical Left: Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty-first Century. Rowman and Littlefield, 2014. Notes. Index. Paper: $29.95.
George Ciccariello-Maher, We Created Chavez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution. Duke University Press, 2013. 352 pages. Notes. 17 photos and 1 map. Index.
“There’s somethin’ happenin’ here, What it is ain’t exactly clear” - Stephen Stills
With the Middle East in flames, NATO trying to start World War III in Ukraine while the European Union’s economy stagnates, Africa torn by low-level wars, and China re-entering the world stage in an assertive manner, there’s one region of the world that is relatively quiet: South America. (Oops—Obama just blew that by declaring Venezuela a “national security threat” to the US. But, never mind.) Yet some of the most interesting and far-reaching changes in the world are taking place in this region. And these two books are excellent entries into understanding current developments in the region.
|by Bob Roman April 21, 2015|
The usual practice for lefties defeated in electoral politics is to claim victory, victory in the sense of having spread the word, victory in the sense of building an organization, victory in the sense of whatever plausible argument comes to hand. In the case of Jorge Mujica's campaign for 25th Ward Alderman, we can safely assert it was a successful proof of concept: The "socialist" label, in some neighborhoods, is not a handicap even if it is not an asset. Begging your pardon but I've been saying as much for years. Through our participation, Chicago DSA did earn a reputation as an organization that delivers on its commitments. But the campaign intended to establish a socialist presence in Chicago government and that requires victory.
|by Lily Murphy|
Liam O’Flaherty is regarded as one of Ireland’s finest writers of the twentieth century, but before he rose to literary prominence, O’Flaherty led a little known and short lived occupation of the Rotunda Concert Hall in Dublin city just days after the formation of the Irish Free state in 1922.
Born off the coast of Galway on the Aran Island of Inis Mor in 1896, O’Flaherty served with the Irish Guards during World War I. After experiencing severe shellshock in Flanders he was discharged with a disability pension and led a somewhat nomadic life for the next few years.
|by James Cunningham April 15, 2015|
The “See, we told you so!” reaction by socialists to Rahm Emmanuel's victory over Jesús "Chuy" García in the recent mayoral runoff was as predictable as it was hypocritical. Scott Jay's article in New Politics is but one example of this kind of reaction which combines self-vindication and bravado with an utter lack of awareness of Chicago's political terrain. This know-it-all know-nothingism becomes painfully obvious when Jay writes:
|by Bruce A. Dixon April 12, 2015|
NOTE: The original version of this article quoted a claim that no voter registration drive was conducted. Since we did not take the time to fact-check this claim before publication, the article has been altered to omit the claim. - Bruce A. Dixon
The results are in, and the truth hurts. Rahm Emanuel will sit in the mayor's office on the fifth floor of Chicago's City Hall four more years. Despite fudging police stats to make murders disappear, despite stonewalling on police torture and atrocities, despite deliberately shortening red light camera intervals to raise revenue for his buddies, despite closing and privatizing more than 50 public schools, almost exclusively in black and brown neighborhoods, than anywhere in the country, and despite his facing a solid progressive Democrat challenger, Rahm Emanuel carried every single ward in black Chicago, not by big margins, but by enough.
|by Samantha Winslow April 11, 2015|
Chicago teachers now have one of their own on the city council. Susan Sadlowski Garza, school counselor and Chicago Teachers Union executive board member, declared victory this week over incumbent John Pope. Absentee ballots are still being counted, but signs indicate she will squeeze past by less than 100 votes.
|by Scott Jay|
Once again, a major election in the US has brought out the specter of lesser-evilism--the call to vote for the least bad option--and once again this strategy has been a complete failure, regardless of which candidate actually wins. Usually it is a Republican against a Democrat, although in Chicago in 2015 it was a neoliberal Democrat, Rahm Emanuel, against a slightly less neoliberal Democrat, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
|by Mimi Soltysik April 10, 2015|
The protestors marched through the streets of Los Angeles on April 7 carrying 617 coffins representing the death of 617 individuals killed by Los Angeles law enforcement since 2000. Participants convened on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors from the north, south, east, and west, staging die-ins at strategic locations along the way. Family members of those murdered along with individuals who have suffered at the hands of the LAPD delivered powerful messages of anger, hope, and sadness, urging the need for continued and escalated community response to LAPD oppression and brutality.
A reading list on the future of austerity in Greece, Europe and beyond
|Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison April 3, 2015|
In the weeks following its historic victory in the Greek elections on January 25, 2015, Syriza has been engaged in a bitter struggle.
|by George Fish April 2, 2015|
Dedicated to Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Global Cities and Diasporic Networks in the aftermath of Syriza’s Victory
|by Despina Lalaki March 24, 2015|
Since the pressures of international financial capital and its subservient political elites will continue with the same if not greater intensity, it is also certain that a new cycle of social mobilization in Greece and the rest of Europe will begin again.
|by James K. Rowe March 24, 2015|
[This article was originally published by Waging Nonviolence.]
Angela Davis, revolutionary activist and philosopher, is a committed yogi. She began practicing in prison when a doctor working with the Black Panther Party passed along a book on yoga to help her deal with chronic headaches.
Campaign for Peace & Democracy's Feb. 6 NYC Forum
|by Stephen R. Shalom March 7, 2015|
New Politics has previously posted a video version of a Feb. 6 New York City panel discussion sponsored by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy (CPD) entitled “After the Greek Elections: The Future of Austerity in Greece, Europe and Beyond.”
CPD has now posted text versions of the talks, along with separate updates by each of the speakers.
|by Michael Hirsch March 6, 2015|
I’m still frozen in the moment. Has it really been 15 months since revolutionary socialist Kshama Sawant brought her unique brand of municipal socialism back to a major American city after winning an at-large seat in Seattle’s nonpartisan City Council race?
|by Robert Caldwell March 4, 2015|
Activists and candidates from around the country will come together on May 2-3 in Chicago to share their experiences and to launch a network for future cooperation at the Future of Left/Independent Electoral Action Conference.
The past few years have seen a significant uptick in independent political initiatives on the left, from election campaigns to new local electoral and social movement formations, to referenda campaigns.
|by Barry Finger March 3, 2015|
The agreement signed between Greece and the EU after three weeks of negotiations is widely lamented on the left as a setback, if not a defeat, for Syriza. The two sides emerged from the agreement, if that is an accurate description, with different interpretations of the memorandum, signifying perhaps that no real deal was made after all. Greece obtained brief reprieve. Its banks will remain liquid for the next few months. The next phase will not be about what can be extracted from the troika, as much as what Greece can do despite and in defiance of the troika. That is what will be discussed here.
|by Nancy Holmstrom February 26, 2015|
The lion’s share of indebtedness in this world is invalid and immoral. Forgiveness is not what is called for; it’s liberation.
Talk of a “debt jubilee” leaves open whether the debts are valid or not, but talking about debt forgiveness raises the question of whether a debt is valid from a moral point of view.
|by Amin Mansouri February 25, 2015|
Cafes bring memories of the unpleasantly bleak days of my undergraduate studies in which I sought my peace of mind in the rough and stormy sea of Jean-Paul Sartre’s world, his philosophy and his novels shining light on the notion of loneliness for me. And I lived inside his books and through the characters he created. However, the more I grew critical, the stranger I found Sartre’s intellectual legacy.
|February 25, 2015|
[Eds.: On Monday, March 2, 2015, in New York City a trial begins for eleven activists who are refusing to plead guilty to disorderly conduct and pay fines for taking part in a climate sit-in in Manhattan's Financial District last September. The Flood Wall Street Eleven plan instead to use their trial to illustrate that the bankers who finance climate change are the real harbingers of disorder. Below is a collective statement from the group. You can sign a petition in their support here.]
In order to solve a problem, you must first identify its’ source. . .
Speech in Acceptance of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
|by Ursula K. Le Guin February 21, 2015|
To the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks, from the heart. My family, my agents, my editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as my own, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine.
|by Bob Braun February 19, 2015|
A small group of Newark high school students Tuesday night seized the office of state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson in a protest timed to coincide with her imminent re-appointment to another year, her fifth, as head of the state’s largest school district. The action, which is continuing through the night, stands in stark contrast to the failure of Anderson’s older–and, theoretically, more powerful–critics to do anything to dislodge her from her post.
|by Amber A'Lee Frost February 16, 2015|
Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me. Chicago: Haymarket Press, 2014. 130pp.
The word “mansplaining” refers to the condescending tendency of men to lecture women, despite the man’s lack of knowledge—or even despite the woman’s own expertise—on the subject at hand. It entered into the popular feminist lexicon sometime around 2009, and although Rebecca Solnit didn’t coin it, her essay, “Men Explain Things to Me,” is largely cited as the inspiration.
|by Lily Murphy February 13, 2015|
Two years have passed since one of the great political and social thinkers of our time departed this world.
On 26 February 2013 Stephane Hessel died at the age of 95. Hessel enjoyed a long life, from his birth in Berlin to his final breath in Paris, where one of his last works Indignez-Vous! (Time For Outrage) was published.
|by Eric Toussaint February 13, 2015|
Eric Toussaint, analyses Syriza’s first days at the head of the Greek government for Le Courrier. He was interviewed by Benito Pérez (of the daily Le Courrier, Geneva. 1]
Eric Toussaint is visibly exhausted at the end of a difficult week. But his mind is clear and his enthusiasm is intact: Syriza’s victory in the Greek legislative election has opened one of those parentheses within which History accelerates and is written as we watch. A political scientist who is experienced in economic matters, founder and spokesman of the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM), Toussaint is a key observer of the battle now going on between Greece and its creditors—mainly the governments of Northern Europe. That is evident from the interest that was shown in his presentations Saturday, in Geneva, during a day of discussions on the economy organized by Le Courrier. A former adviser to the government of Ecuador and the president of Paraguay (Fernando Lugo), the Belgian native has also been approached by Syriza. Pending his possible involvement, Eric Toussaint is speaking out freely and observing the Greek experiment with a benevolent but critical eye.
|by Antonis Davanellos and Sotiris Martalis February 12, 2015|
Greece's left-wing government is on a collision course with the rulers of Europe over the commitment of the Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, to reverse drastic austerity measures imposed under the Memorandums negotiated with the European Union (EU).
SYRIZA won a tremendous victory in the January 25 elections because it promised an alternative to the catastrophic economic and social crisis that Greece has endured for more than five years. But with the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras only two weeks old, the political and financial elite of Europe, from Germany's Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schäuble to Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), have rejected all proposals to negotiate Greece's huge foreign debt or relax the austerity conditions imposed as a condition for the bailout of the country's economic system. With a showdown approaching, all eyes are on the struggle in Greece and the hope it hold for the future.
|by Michael Hirsch February 10, 2015|
Surveying the wreckage of his party’s 2014 election campaign, Howard Dean, on the November 9th Meet the Press, was candid, with such sound bytes as, ““Where the hell is the Democratic party …You got to stand for something if you want to win.” The Republicans’ message was, “We’re not Obama.” What was the Democrats’ message? “Oh well, we really aren’t either.”
Translation: “Get my message; we need a message.”
|by Alexander Kolokotronis February 8, 2015|
After approximately four and a half months of fighting, Kurdish forces have successfully pushed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as ISIS or ISIL) out of Kobanî. The coalition of ground forces most notably included the People’s Defense Units (YPG) , Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) , and the Peshmerga from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).At the same time, through the air, a U.S. led-coalition made 700 airstrikes against ISIS. On February 6 it was reported “fourteen more villages and some strategically important points have been liberated.” In an October 2014 article for Naked Capitalism Claude Salhani noted the strategic importance of the region. Salhani stated “victory for” ISIS in the region “would give the group prestige among the dozens of groups lined up in the fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad. It would also secure the terror organization’s flow of oil to a lucrative market.”
|by Thomas Harrison February 9, 2015|
The Campaign for Peace and Democracy sponsored a panel discussion Friday evening on "After the Greek Elections: The Future of Austerity in Greece, Europe, and Beyond." A standing-room-only audience heard speakers address the success of the Syriza coalition party in the recent Greek elections and how it is dealing with the austerity crisis.
|by Rasmea Defense Committee February 5, 2015|
[Ed. note: Readers of David Finkel's November article on "The Trials of Rasmea Odeh" will be interested in this alert from the Rasmea Defense Committee.]
|by Barry Finger February 4, 2015|
For Syriza to triumph, it is not enough for it to play tough with the European Union. not enough to bypass the structure of the European Central Bank to find individual national allies, not enough to refuse to cooperate with capitalist auditors. Greece has already lost 30% of its GDP since the peak before the crisis, with unemployment standing at 25%, a decline only comparable to that seen in the US during the Great Depression.
|February 4, 2015|
[Ed. note: The list of signatories to this declaration includes seven out of nine German trade union presidents, all members of the executive boards of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and IG Metall, plus some (primarily social-democratic) politicians at the Bundestag and European Parliament levels, including the vice-chairman of the SPD, as well as numerous academics.]
The political landslide in Greece is an opportunity, not only for that crisis-ridden country but also for a fundamental reassessment and revision of EU economic and social policy.
|by Gilbert Achcar February 2, 2015|
Gilbert Achcar is a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and the author of many books, including Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder, more
|by Manel Barriere and Andy Durgan and Sam Robson February 2, 2015|
The emergence of so-called populist parties as a response to increasingly discredited political elites is a European-wide phenomenon. In most cases these parties have emerged on the right, if not the far-right. Not so in the Spanish state where Podemos, after barely ten months in existence, appears to be undermining the whole political set up in place since the end of the Franco dictatorship in the late 1970s.
|by Stephen R. Shalom January 30, 2015|
|by Walden Bello January 30, 2015|
The real threat is the repression of migrant communities by national security states with the backing of a significant segment of the majority population mobilized by right wing forces.
|by David McNally January 30, 2015|
It was always going to be messy and it has gotten so remarkably quickly. The decision by the Syriza leadership to form a coalition government with the anti-immigrant Independent Greeks (ANEL) party has rightly shaken progressives who hoped that the Greek elections would rapidly transform politics to the left. Instead, we have been harshly reminded that the logic of electoral politics can be dangerously compromising for the left.
|by Iannis Delatolas January 29, 2015|
New Politics interviewed Iannis Delatolas, an art photographer, a founding member of the Greek Solidarity Movement (AKNY), and a supporter of Antarsya and of the International Socialist Tendency. He has been involved in the antifascist solidarity movement with Greece and in struggles for LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, in anti-war activities, and in other social justice causes.
|by Kevin Ovendon January 29, 2015|
Here are some immediate thoughts. They include how we on the international and internationalist Left might respond. As well as what in my opinion we should say:
|by Stathis Kouvelakis January 26, 2015|
Syriza’s electoral triumph has brought hope to the European radical Left and workers’ movement, offering it an immense opportunity. We can also put that the other way around – to fail this test could have incalculable consequences.
A few quick remarks on the first difficulties and problems we face:
|by Manash Bhattacharjee January 26, 2015|
There have been mostly two kinds of responses to the Charlie Hebdo killings. On one side are those who have simply seen it as a satire versus intolerance issue, with a subtext: Satire being seen as a western/universal (artistic) value and intolerance being a fundamental aspect of religion (more specifically: Political Islam).
Lebanese author Gilbert Achcar says the third revolutionary phase must be free of religious radicalism.
|Dina Kabil interviews Gilbert Achcar January 26, 2015|
Lebanese Marxist intellectual Gilbert Achcar, author of The People Want (2013), Eastern Cauldron (2004) and The Clash of Barbarisms (2002/2006), says Egypt is at an historical and highly important crossroads in the development of the long-term revolutionary process— stressing the urgency in building leadership and formulating strategies appropriate for change.
|by Michael Löwy January 21, 2015|
INFAMY. That is the only word that can sum up how we feel about the the murder of our buddies at Charlie Hebdo. A crime made even more hateful because these comrade artists were people on the left, anti-racists, anti-fascists, anti-colonialists, sympathizers with communism and anarchism. It was only recently that they participated in an homage to the memory of a group of Algerians assassinated by the French police in Paris on October 17, 1961.
|by Michael Hirsch January 21, 2015|
[This article is a reply to David Goodner's "Why Bernie Sanders Needs to Run for President—As an Independent."]
You want the excellent Bernie Sanders to run as an independent in the 2016 presidential. So do I!
|by David Goodner January 20, 2015|
|January 16, 2015|
Franklin Fried, who devoted more than 70 years to supporting and fighting for freedom, justice, equality, and liberation for working and oppressed people in the U.S. and around the world, died Tuesday, Jan. 13, at his home in Alameda, California. He was 87.
|by Daniel Johnson January 16, 2015|
On December 24 a sixteen-year-old student named Mehmet Emin Altunses was arrested in the Turkish city of Konya. His crime? Apparently the youth insulted President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan, saying in a speech that the new president (who served two terms as prime minister between 2003 and 2014) was “the leader of corruption, bribery and theft,” as well as the owner of an “illegal palace.”
|by Cinzia Arruzza January 11, 2015|
The time I saw Charb in Paris was January 24, 2010, the day of the crowded commemoration of the French philosopher and activist Daniel Bensaïd at La Mutualité. During the speeches, Charb kept drawing and projecting vignettes about his comrade Daniel, whose book, Marx: Mode d’Emploi, he had illustrated a year earlier.
|by Michael Hirsch January 10, 2015|
Review of: Richard Steier, Enough Blame to Go Around: The Labor Pains of New York City’s Public Employees. Albany, New York: Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press, 2014. 304 pp. US$24.95 (paperback).
Two things I know to be true about Richard Steier. He is the best full-time reporter on the New York City labor beat. He is also the only full-time reporter on the New York City labor beat.
|by David Finkel January 9, 2015|
The mass murder at Charlie Hebdo in Paris is the leading news story in the world, and is universally condemned – rightfully so. In the left’s condemnation of this brutal massacre of journalists and cartoonists for expressing opinions in satirical form, we need to express our dissent from some of what’s being preached under the foggy cover of “je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).
|January 9, 2015|
Following are the two statements issued by the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) of France after the January 7 killing of Charlie Hebdo joournalists in Paris. - Dan La Botz, Co-Editor
A Barbarous and Reactionary Act
|Kurt Hiller, translated and with an introduction by David Thorstad January 8, 2015|
[This article, titled “A Chapter of Russian Reaction,” translated into English here for the first time, was written in German by longtime homosexual activist Kurt Hiller (1885–1972) from London and published in the Swiss gay journal Der Kreis in 1946. Hiller had been active in Germany’s first homosexual-rights organization, the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäre Komitee (Scientific Humanitarian Committee), headed by Magnus Hirschfeld (1868–1935). Founded in 1897, the committee was Germany’s most prominent gay group.
|by Kent Paterson December 28, 2014|
Though little-noticed by the U.S. media, events north of the border bore striking similarities to developments in Mexico in 2014. Like in the mass protests that arose south of the Rio Bravo and then rapidly extended worldwide over the police killings and forced disappearances of the Ayotzinapa rural teachers’ college students in Guerrero, Mexico, the catalyzing issue in El Norte was police violence.
|by Samuel Farber December 28, 2014|
On December 17, 2014, Washington and Havana agreed to a path-breaking change in a relationship that, for more than fifty years, was characterized by the United States’ efforts to overthrow the Cuban government, including the sponsorship of invasions, naval blockades, economic sabotage, assassination attempts, and terrorist attacks.
|by Da'am Workers Party December 27, 2014|
[Editors’ note: The Da’am Workers Party is an Israeli revolutionary socialist organization formed by Palestinian and Jewish activists in 1995. The party initiated the formation of the WAC-MANN trade union movement that aims to organize sectors and populations traditionally neglected by Israel’s mainstream union federation, the Histadrut, and does so based on an explicitly anti-corporate, anti-austerity platform. It opposed the Oslo accords, but supports a two state solution based on the 1967 borders and the dismantling of all settlements. In the last Knesset election, Da’am ran with a Palestinian feminist, Asma Aghbaria-Zahalka, at the head of its list. This article was published on the Da’am website on Dec. 20, 2014.]
|by Vermont Workers Center December 27, 2014|
As human rights organizations, representing struggles ranging from disability rights to labor rights to criminal justice reform, from migrant justice to climate justice, we recognize the struggle for black liberation as central to securing all of our human rights in a country founded upon systemic racism.
|by Mike King December 25, 2014|
There’s blood on many hands tonight. Those that incited violence on this street under the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did everyday. We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated. That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor.
|by Ferguson Action December 24, 2014|
New York, NY — Activists issued a scathing statement this afternoon in response to recent attempts by the NYPD to silence the efforts of citizens seeking justice for victims of police violence.
|by Lily Murphy December 23, 2014|
This year marks 100 years since the birth of Ewan MacColl. Born James Henry Miller in Salford on January 25,1915, he adapted the stage name of Ewan MacColl to acknowledge his strong Scottish heritage.
|Fran Shor December 22, 2014|
As the shouts of “Black Lives Matter” reverberate from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri to the bridges of New York City, mass protest is once again raising the issue of the persistence of racism, both institutional and individual. Young people, especially from within the black community, have assumed leadership by mo
|by Richard Greeman December 21, 2014|
Last week, as yet another mega-typhoon laid waste to the Philippines, the leaders of 183 capitalist governments met in Lima, Peru to face the imminent threat of climate catastrophe at a U.N. Climate Conference called COP20. (Yawn.) In case you missed the headlines (they were small), the world leaders agreed to nothing.
|December 21, 2014|
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) celebrates the Obama administration’s move toward the normalization of diplomatic relationships between the United States and Cuba. This change in U.S. foreign policy will help bridge the divide between U.S. and Cuban residents.
|by Karl Johnson December 19, 2014|
In the United Kingdom, we are accustomed to progressives conducting their arguments in confident terms of complete inevitability. Progress is a one way street, and we are marching ceaselessly along it towards the end of history, almost without trying.
|by Steve Early December 19, 2014|
“Vermont…is the only state with universal single-payer health coverage for its residents.”
--James Fallows in The Atlantic, April, 2014
|by Lawrence S. Wittner December 16, 2014|
Review of The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, by Betty Medsger (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 596 pages. Notes, Index. Hardcover $29.95; paperback $16.95).
|by Alicia Garza December 15, 2014|
I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.
|by Michelle Renee Matisons December 15, 2014|
The white supremacist policing practices behind the murder-by-cop epidemic is really a capitalist, white supremacist, heteropatriarchal policing system that must be analyzed and fought as such.”
|by Nathan J. Robinson December 15, 2014|
For those continually exasperated by the spate of white denials of racism in the face of blatantly racist police murders, the #CrimingWhileWhite stories on Twitter were a gratifying rebuttal.
Hong Kong, Ferguson and New York City! Solidarity Statement with Black Communities in Ferguson, Missouri and NYC
|December 11, 2014|
The following statement from Left 21 in Hong Kong was written in early December as the pro-democracy activists there were being driven from the streets. - Dan La Botz, Co-Editor
From Hong Kong to Ferguson and NYC, we send you our warmest solidarity!
|by Steve Early December 3, 2014|
In the wake of a Missouri grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown on August 9, it can be difficult to imagine a city in the United States where a police department and a largely black and Latino population work together productively.
But it’s happening in Richmond, California, a gritty town in the San Francisco Bay Area best known for its massive Chevron refinery and, in past years, for its high crime rate.
|by Saulo Colón and Dan La Botz November 25, 2014|
Pain and anger at the police killing of Michael Brown became transformed into protests that swept across America just before Thanksgiving. Thousands of people in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, and tens of thousands in cities throughout the country reacted with indignation, anger and in Ferguson with violent protests after the grand jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
|by Campaign for Peace and Democracy November 20, 2014|
Dear Friend of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy,
|by David Finkel November 20, 2014|
Rasmea Odeh, a 67-year-old Palestinian-American, associate director of the Arab American Action Network and organizer of the acclaimed Arab Women’s Committee in Chicago, was convicted in Detroit on November 10 of “unlawful procurement of naturalization” at the time she became a U.S. citizen in 2004.
Her imprisonment immediately afterward has been the most shocking part of the case, as explained below.
|by Michael Hirsch November 19, 2014|
Review of The Death and Life of American Labor: Toward a New Workers’ Movement,
By Stanley Aronowitz, Verso, 2014.
|Joseph Daher interviewed by Riad Azar November 18, 2014|
An extended interview with Joseph Daher, a member of the Revolutionary Left Current in Syria, living in Switzerland, will be published in the forthcoming Winter 2015 issue of New Politics. Here we just post the questions dealing with Kobanê and Turkey.
|by JP Miller November 17, 2014|
If any group of United States citizens can claim a mandate in the midterm elections than it must be the millions of eligible voters who abstained from voting. It is a common excuse when discussing U.S. midterm elections to argue that voters do not participate in the numbers that accompany elections in a presidential election year. However, blaming the low 2014 election turn-out on a historical trend is incomplete and deceptive.
Global Capitalism and Pathogenic Environments: Is palm oil monoculture responsible for the ongoing Ebola outbreak?
|by Jean Batou November 13, 2014|
The Ebola pandemic, which has already caused the death of more than 5000 people in West Africa, could kill more than 90,000 people, just in the Liberian county of Montserrado, between now and 15 December, if measures taken in the affected regions are not massively increased over the next few days.[i]
|by Alexander Kolokotronis November 2, 2014|
In what many outside of the territory are referring to as the Rojava Revolution, a major shift in political philosophy and political programmatics has taken place in Kurdistan. Yet, this shift is not limited to the region of Rojava, or what many call Syrian or Western Kurdistan – a region where the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has taken an active part in this change. In “Turkish,” or rather Northern Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has been the foremost leader.
|by Charmain Levy October 28, 2014|
Once again the Workers’ Party (PT) found itself in the difficult position of having to defend its government’s sorry record on issues such as the economy, corruption and energy policies, all while fending off right-wing opposition candidates. Fortunately for the PT and its incumbent president and presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff, their adversaries at the national level never managed to assemble a political program that differentiated itself from the PT’s.
|by Charles Post October 27, 2014|
THE ISSUE OF growing inequalities of income and wealth in the advanced capitalist world over the past four decades has been the subject of both social scientific research and political struggle. On the one hand, there is an extensive literature that amply documents the growth of inequality globally since the mid-1970s.
|by Nicole Shippen October 27, 2014|
BOOKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY:
Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy
Edited by Jason Schulman
Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 214 pp.
The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg:
Volume I: Economic Writings 1
Edited by Peter Hudis
Verso, 2013, 596 pp.
|by Eric Chester October 26, 2014|
On September 18, 2014, the Scottish people had the opportunity to withdraw from the United Kingdom and become an independent country. The unity of Scotland and England has existed since 1707, so the vote could have broken with three hundred years of history. After a long and bitter campaign, the proposal to leave the UK was defeated by a margin of 55% to 45%.
|by Frontera NorteSur|
[October 24, 2014] Public outrage over the police murders of six people and forced disappearances of 43 students from the Atoytzinapa rural teachers’ college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero continued to snowball this week.
|by Adolph Reed|
The following article by Adolph Reed, Jr. responds to an article that appeared on the New Politics website a week ago. Sadly, since then we have learned that Karen Lewis has been afflicted with brain cancer. We offer our sympathy to her, her family, and her friends and wish for her rapid and full recovery.
|by Özlem İlyas Tolunay October 14, 2014|
The whole world is just watching the forthcoming massacre in Kobane. US-led air strikes seem to be made only for show. When ISIS approached the oil-rich Erbil, the Kurdish Regional Government’s capital, the U.S.-led coalition forces immediately took action against ISIS. However they didn’t do the same for Kobane.
|by George Fish October 12, 2014|
Moral Mondays has been established in Indiana. At a founding meeting in Indianapolis in mid-September, the organization adopted a “five-point agenda” similar to those of Moral Mondays movements in other states:
|by Jean Batou October 11, 2014|
According to the latest predictions of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if the Ebola pandemic continues to progress at the current rhythm, it could affect 1.4 million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone between now and January 2015, leading to the deaths of 700,000 in a year, and thus making Ebola the third leading cause of death from infectious diseases in Africa, after AIDS and respiratory diseases.
|by Ruixue Bai October 9, 2014|
After Sunday night, when many people feared that there might be a crackdown on the protests after following several pleas for protesters to leave the sites and the government’s warning that civil servants must be able to return to work the next day, this week the protests have nevertheless continued.
|by Scott Jay October 8, 2014|
The article by Scott Jay that follows was published on our website several days before the public learned that Karen Lewis was suffering from brain cancer. We are sorry to hear of her illness and offer our sympathy to her and to her family and friends. We leave the article on our website as a matter of public record and because the political issues that it raises remain important, even though she has now decided not to run for mayor. We wish Ms.Lewis a rapid and full recovery. – Editors
|by Sean Crawford|
Where have all the occupiers gone? We have scattered, enmeshed in an economic system we loathe, faced with the dismal realities of the prolonged "Great Recession" and a jobless recovery that only benefits the ruling class. With our future prospects bleak and our hopes for creating a more just economy diffused, we are left with only our collective will, experience, and values.
|by Frontera NorteSur October 5, 2014|
Largely downplayed in the U.S. media, ground-shaking events are rattling Mexico. On one key front, Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong announced October 3 the Pena Nieto administration’s acceptance of many of the demands issued by striking students of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). IPN Director Yoloxichitl Bustamante, whose ouster had been demanded by the students, handed in her resignation.
|by Bryan Marquard October 3, 2014|
Long after retiring as a professor of social work at Bridgewater State, Betty Reid Mandell kept putting her teachings into practice in her 80s by lending assistance to the homeless who were seeking help from the state Department of Transitional Assistance.
When she stopped by to volunteer, she recalled in an essay, the homeless section of Boston’s welfare offices reminded her of the front line in an endless conflict.
|October 4, 2014|
Today [October 3] Hong Kong’s rule of law and basic human rights were totally violated. In Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Tsim Tsa Tsui fascist thugs and gangs to different extents attacked the peaceful occupiers, resulting in hundreds of injuries. We condemn this most severely. A variety of circumstantial evidence points to the conclusion that Beijing is the biggest suspect behind these thugs and gangs.
|October 3, 2014|
The following is a report from an on-the-ground source in Hong Kong. - Editors
The government is mobilizing its mafia extensively. Since noon, the government has started mobilizing gangsters to provoke the public. It is hard to imagine that the government is lining up with the mafia but it now happens during the CY Leung’s administration. This is something expected and no need to be shocked about it.
Looking at the current situation, the government hopes to shift Occupy Central with Love and Peace into a massive riot and make the Hong Kong public angry with the protesters.
Occupy Central--What’s Next for the Hong-Kong Democracy Movement? A Brief Observation on the Current Movement
|by Au Loong Yu October 1, 2014|
(An earlier version was translated by Bai Ruixue, but since then the Chinese version had been revised and partially translated by the author.)
Monday 29th September 2014/Occupy Central Day 3 - Occupy central continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
Building a Democratic Left Party; A leftist feminist point of view
|Nina Potarskaya interviewed by Jean Batou September 29, 2014|
Nina Potarskaya is one of the leading Ukrainian leftist feminists, founder of the feminist squadron at Maidan, and member of the Left Opposition, which helped organize three successive conferences of left forces in Kiev, in November 2013, March 2014, and September 2014. The most recent conference decided to build a new democratic Left party, which is the first electoral effort of its kind in Ukraine. She was interviewed in Geneva by Jean Batou, with the help of Kirill Buketov, for solidaritéS.
Did Brown have to be a college-bound angel to have his death matter?
|by Mina Khanlarzadeh September 18, 2014|
Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, was shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9.
|by Brian Tokar September 18, 2014|
Zero Carbon Future Could Be a Jobs Bonanza
|by Steven Wishnia September 18, 2014|
From teachers to transit workers, civil servants to electricians, the People’s Climate March will have more organized-labor participation than any environmentalist effort in U.S. history.
|by John Tarleton September 16, 2014|
The fact that global warming is man-made and poses a grave threat to our future is widely accepted by progressives. Yet, the most commonly proposed solutions emphasize either personal responsibility for a global emergency (buy energy-efficient light bulbs, purchase a Prius), or rely on market-based schemes like cap-and-trade. These responses are not only inadequate, says best-selling author Naomi Klein, but represent a lost opportunity to confront climate change’s root cause: capitalism.
|by Stephen R. Shalom September 7, 2014|
Bennett Muraskin complains that a blog post of mine -- a report on a demonstration in Newark protesting the blank check given by NJ senators Menendez and Booker for Israel's crimes -- is missing "full recognition of Hamas' war crimes and vile ideology."
|by Bennett Muraskin September 7, 2014|
There is something missing from Stephen Shalom’s blog post on Israelis crimes in the recent Gaza conflict and it is full recognition of Hamas’ war crimes and vile ideology.
|by Jean Batou September 6, 2014|
Filoviridae Ebola is a virus made up of ten proteins that was first identified in 1976 in Zaire, today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). While today five types of the virus are recognized, they are all believed to be mutations of the first known strain, which one finds today in western Africa. (Gire et al., Science, August 28, 2014).
|by Lois Weiner August 31, 2014|
Sam Gindin, former Research Director of the Canadian Auto Workers union and co-author with Leo Panitch of “The making of global capitalism” graciously agreed to answer questions from NP board members about his book when he and I participated in a conference at the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Thirteen arrested as protesters tell Senators Menendez and Booker: ‘No more blank check for Israel’s crimes,’
|by Stephen R. Shalom August 31, 2014|
Outside the Gateway Center, where Menendez and Booker have offices. (Photo by Tom Bias.)
[This article was first published on Mondoweiss.]
|by Dan La Botz August 22, 2014|
Another young black man has been shot and killed by the police in an American city. Michael Brown’s killing forms part of a national pattern that is a horror for the African American community, an outrage against humanity, and a disgrace to our country.
Hawkins Calls for Federal Jurisdiction in Police Brutality Cases; Statement on Ferguson, Garner, Syracuse, Militarization of Police
|Howie Hawkins August 22, 2014|
[We re-post here a statement by Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for Governor of New York.—eds.]
Staten Island, Syracuse, Ohio, and Ferguson. Garner, Grant, Crawford, and Brown. Add these locations and names to the long list of young black unarmed men (and women) who are racially profiled and injured or killed at the hands of Police Departments around the country. From every corner of the US there are daily reports of police brutality and misbehavior.
|by Scott Jay August 18, 2014|
In the past few weeks, New Politics has published two valuable commentaries on the role of socialists and the Left in local electoral campaigns, first a broad overview by Dan La Botz and then a response by David Judd specifically on Dan Siegel’s campaign for Mayor of Oakland.
|by Mel Packer August 17, 2014|
Only large-scale civil disobedience will make our leaders address economic injustice.
In 1989, Bob Dylan recorded a song titled “Everything Is Broken”. That song seemed to go largely ignored, perhaps because it seemed to be only a pessimistic lament that offered no suggestions for how to go about fixing the “everything”.
But as with many of his songs, it was prophetic. Lately, many Americans are experiencing the feeling that everything is broken, but people in many other countries have had this feeling for a long time.
A Response to Bennett Muraskin
|by Barry Finger August 9, 2014|
|by Mel Packer August 8, 2014|
In 1968, the Mannington Mine in Farmington WV owned by Consol Coal, caught fire, blew up, and 78 miners were buried, many likely alive.
In 1972, a Consol mine in Blacksville, WV, caught fire and 9 miners were buried (again, likely alive) when Consol sealed the mine off to stop the fire and save the coal.
|by Kshama Sawant August 7, 2014|
[Because Kshama Sawant is at the moment the leading elected socialist official in the United States her opinions carry a weight far more important than those of many other socialist groups and activists. We print below Sawant's recent statement on Israel's attacks on Gaza made in the Seattle City Council and reprinted on the Socialist Alternative website. - Eds]
|by Jack Stuart August 6, 2014|
Review of Andrew J. Bacevich, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country. New York, Metropolitan Books, 2013. 238 pages. Endnotes. Hardcover $26. Paperback $16. Kindle $11.04
|by Bennett Muraskin August 6, 2014|
I wish to commend Barry Finger for his analysis of the Israel-Palestine conflict dating back to the establishment of 1947 UN Partition Plan. (Finger makes a minor error in calling it the “1948 partition.”)
|by Stephen R. Shalom August 4, 2014|
There is so much wrong with Michael Walzer’s brief essay on the New Republic website, supporting Israel in its latest onslaught, while criticizing “a little uneasily” some of the excessive civilian deaths, that it is hard to know where to begin.
|by Barry Finger July 29, 2014|
The discussion of a socialist strategy towards Palestine never recedes from global pertinence and urgency. The basic terms of the Palestinian tragedy established in 1948 remain a festering wound—unaddressed, malignant and oozing in blood and rot. With it the Israeli garrison state continues to descend, and rightfully so, into isolation and disrepute in the court of civilized opinion.
|by David Finkel July 26, 2014|
JULY 21, 2014 -- Since the writing of my effort to analyze the Obama foreign policy (“Droning On, Fracking the Planet,” New Politics Summer 2014), a confluence of events – in various ways, all blowback from ravages of U.S policies past and present – combined to transform much of world politics in nasty and dangerous directions, with huge tolls in destruction and human misery. To review very briefly:
|by David Judd July 24, 2014|
Dan La Botz' article on the return of Left to electoral politics is generally insightful, and its survey of campaigns around the U.S. is a valuable contribution. However, the article's analysis of the Dan Siegel campaign for mayor of Oakland is off.
|by Editors July 20, 2014|
Dear New Politics Subscribers and Friends,
The exciting new issue of New Politics is now available in print and online! This issue focuses on the American Scene as well as offering articles on the Ukraine and other international topics and theoretical discussions. Click any of the links below to access the online essays and book reviews.
|by Kristian Williams July 17, 2014|
Words have histories, and history affects meaning. And since the history of the English language is very much bound up with the history of the English Empire, many ordinary words have histories that are subtly, or even covertly, racist, imperialist, or otherwise troublesome. I recently received a letter from a colleague, taking me to task for using the word tribalism in an article. He wrote:
|July 14, 2014|
These are desperately bad times. The government of Israel, having provoked the firing of rockets by its rampage through the West Bank, is now using that response as the pretext for an aerial assault on Gaza which has already cost scores of lives. An atmosphere of hysteria is being deliberately provoked in Israel, and whole communities are being subject to collective punishment, a war crime. People are dying, and for what? To prevent a unity government of Fatah and Hamas?
|by Maynor G. González July 11, 2014|
The World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event around the world. Millions of viewers will tune in Sunday to watch the broadcast of the upcoming final match and cheer on their favorite teams as they battle for the golden trophy. In the United States, the event has become a much anticipated and celebrated source of entertainment – an opportunity for people to show support for their country and an excuse to grab a drink and watch the game with friends at a local bar.
An Interview with David McNally
|Andrew Sernatinger and Tessa Echeverria July 4, 2014|
[This is part two of an interview with scholar-activist David McNally on the current economic crisis. The first part focused on the crisis itself, its causes, the way in which working life has been reorganized, the perspective of ruling elites in managing the crisis and pursuing austerity policies, and how this should help inform our stance as movement activists.
An Interview with David McNally
|Andrew Sernatinger and Tessa Echeverria June 29, 2014|
[It’s been nearly seven years since the onset of the global economic crisis that began in 2007. In order to get an understanding of the crisis—of its origins, depth, and trajectory, we spoke with David McNally, activist, political economist, and author of Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance (2010) and more recently Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism (2012). For readability’s sake, we have broken this interview into two parts. This first part focuses on the crisis itself, its causes, the way in which working life has been reorganized, the perspective of ruling elites in managing the crisis and pursuing austerity policies, and how this should help inform our stance as movement activists.
|June 29, 2014|
Adopted by U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) Steering Committee, June 25, 2014
A majority of working people opposed the Iraq War and participated in the eight year struggle to end it. We felt great relief when the last troops departed Iraq in 2011.
|by Bob Turansky June 23, 2014|
Göran Therborn. The Killing Fields of Inequality. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2013. Hardback: $40.00 Paperback: $19.95 Kindle: $9.99
|by Bennett Muraskin June 22, 2014|
Like many of my generation, I was active in the left. From the mid to late 1960s to the late 1970s, I was affiliated with Trotskyist organizations. We considered ourselves revolutionaries and foresaw the day when the working class would rise up against capitalist oppression, overthrow the government, and establish a proletarian dictatorship. There was no doubt in our minds that this could not be accomplished without violence. When the revolutionary situation was ripe, we would need weapons.
|June 18, 2014|
Angela Walker, an independent socialist, is running for the office of Sheriff in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this coming November. Her campaign is part of a small trend of independent labor, Green Party, and socialist campaigns around the country that are discussed in a survey article by Dan La Botz in the forthcoming Summer issue of New Politics. Here La Botz interviews Walker to learn why she is running and what she hopes to accomplish.
|by Scott Jay June 16, 2014|
|by Jean Batou|
The European Parliamentary Election of last May 25 was marked by a strong push from the Europhobic and racist right, which was rife with currents of the extreme right. Its best showings were achieved by the United Kingdom Independence Party -UKIP (which received 27.5% of the British vote), by the Party of the People of Denmark (26.7%), by the National Front of France (24.9%), and by the Freedom Party of Austria (19.7), and one shouldn’t forget the recent advances of the Swedish Democrats (9.7%) and of Alternative for Germany (7%).
|by Stefanie Prezioso June 7, 2014|
“Disaster,” “an earthquake,” “electroshock,” “a historic shock,” “a thunderclap,” “a stroke”: the results of the most recent European elections have caused a veritable media storm throughout Europe, beginning with France where the historic victory of the National Front of Marine Le Pen has left commentators with a real hangover.
|by Martin Oppenheimer May 30, 2014|
What is the “Middle Class”?
A distinctive strain within the New Left, both passionate and reasoned
|by Jesse Lemisch May 17, 2014|
Steve Kindred, my friend, brilliant Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) leader, organizer with Teamsters for a Democratic Union, activist in the struggle to keep the Stella d’Oro plant in the Bronx open, campaigner against a lockout of workers by Sotheby’s auction house—all this, and a thousand other causes. Steve is, for lack of a better word, “gone,” in a New York hospital, suffering from abdominal cancer, which has spread. Having been close to Steve and having admired and loved him now for 50 years, I am very sad.
|by Brian Denepitiya|
Ghana, known for its stability and economic prosperity in the last 50 years, is praised as a model African state. Despite their rise to a middle income country, Ghana is struggling to deal with the rise of Kayayo’s, a destitute working class who go unacknowledged by policy makers. This is the story of an American living in a Kayayo town.
|by Daniel Larkins|
Arundhati Roy, Capitalism: A Ghost Story. Haymarket, April 2014, $15 paperback.
When you think of ghost stories, you may recall Henry James, Hamlet, or Banquo. Maybe you smell a camp fire, the story going around, the threat of the flame as you extend your arm and that impaled marshmallow over the heat. Or maybe you sense those dying embers, the cool of night taking its grip.
|by Eric Schuster|
The salad days. Too cold or hot or wet for much of anything this time of year, and rereading E. P.
|by Ingo Schmidt April 29, 2014|
Review of Jason Schulman (ed.), Rosa Luxemburg — Her Life and Legacy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 214 pp.
Eminent doctor takes a small and belated peek at how his own privilege saved his life as a patient at Mass General
|by Jesse Lemisch April 19, 2014|
The February 6 issue of The New York Review of Books carried Dr. Arnold Relman’s account of his own hospitalization at Massachusetts General Hospital (and elsewhere) under the title “On Breaking One’s Neck.” In a subsequent article, I said that the appearance of Dr. Arnold Relman as a patient at Massachusetts General Hospital, accompanied by his wife, Dr.
|by Hadas Thier|
Save the earth by buying a Prius? That seems to be the takeaway message from this year’s Earth Day New York taking place on April 22. Earth Day events in the city will be sponsored by – Who would have guessed? – Toyota.
|by Stephen R. Shalom April 13, 2014|
Anthony Greco, in his book Chomsky’s Challenge to American Power, charged Noam Chomsky with too often failing to meet “minimal standards of intellectual honesty” (p. 229). To prove his point he provided instances of things Chomsky wrote over the course of some fifty years that were inaccurate.
|by Anthony Greco April 13, 2014|
I conclude my book, Chomsky’s Challenge to American Power (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014), by describing Noam Chomsky as a contradictory figure.
|by Kurt Stand April 12, 2014|
Steve Early. Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement In Distress. Monthly Review Press, November 2013. 304 pages. Notes. Index.
|by Bob Turansky|
This is in response to an earlier comment on Dan La Botz’s review of Jean Marot’s The October Revolution in Prospect and Retrospect. I agree that the review is excellent, though I’d say in response to Gasper that the book is more than merely “interesting”.
A Slapstick Demolition of Male Supremacy
|by Naomi Weisstein April 8, 2014|
[Introduction by Naomi Weisstein: My paper, “The Chicago Women’s Liberation Rock Band 1970-1973: A Slapstick Demolition of Male Supremacy” was presented at the end of March at the Boston University Conference “A Revolutionary Moment: Women’s Liberation in the Late 1960s and early 1970s.” This landmark conference drew a multiplicity of papers, rigorously retrieving a suppressed history, and countering such contemporary notions as that “leaning in” is what the radical women’s liber
Women’s Liberation Rock Band 1970-1973: A Slapstick Demolition of Male Supremacy” was presented at the end of March at the Boston University Conference “A Revolutionary Moment: Women’s Liberation in the Late 1960s and early 1970s.” This landmark conference drew a multiplicity of papers, rigorously retrieving a suppressed history, and countering such contemporary notions as that “leaning in” is what the radical women’s liber
|by Franck Gaudichaud and Valeria Ianni|
Venezuela is torn between the destabilising attempts of the right-wing, the limits of the Bolivarian process and the possibility the working class and the popular movements will advance the [revolutionary] project, [but] not without tensions and contradictions.
|by Robin Hahnel March 29, 2014|
In a posting on March 4, 2014 Nicholas Davenport criticizes me for “a misunderstanding of activists’ arguments against carbon trading and, more fundamentally, a lack of attention to the dynamic of reform and revolution.”
|by Michael Hirsch March 27, 2014|
Back in the day, (a cliché, I know) Adolph Reed wrote a waspish piece in the Village Voice, “Liberals, I Do Despise,” which made something of a splash and was hard to refute — this when the Voice was widely read, not a freebie and well-worth paying for — as he attacked a coterie of Clintonistas for “a politics motivated by the desire for proximity to the ruling class and a belief in the basic legitimacy of its power and prerogative.” He called it “a politics which,
Online Free Availability of Lemisch's, On Active Service In War and Peace: Politics and Ideology in the American Historical Profession (1969, 1975)
|by Jesse Lemisch March 26, 2014|
Starring: Samuel Eliot Morison, Oscar Handlin, Richard Hofstadter, McGeorge Bundy, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, Daniel Boorstin (including HUAC testimony), Allen Nevins, William Hardy McNeill, Eric Hoffer, John Blum, Stanley Elkins, and others. With 305 fact-filled footnotes!
|Derek Seidman March 24, 2014|
In the 1990s, hundreds of U.S. labor activists came together to form the Labor Party. The initiative was the brainchild of Tony Mazzocchi, the passionate leader of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union (which, after two mergers, is today part of the United Steelworkers). Mazzocchi held true to the dream of an independent political party rooted in the labor movement over which working people would have ownership. He was fond of pointing out: “The bosses have two parties. We need one of our own.”
|by Stephen R. Shalom March 20, 2014|
Anthony F. Greco. Chomsky’s Challenge to American Power. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2013. Hardcover $69.95, paper $29.95, e-book $14.99.
|by Jared Anderson March 14, 2014|
I will never forget when I first met Ali Mustafa. It was September 2012, during my first year at York and just before I joined Students Against Israeli Apartheid (Ali was a former member), where he did a talk on his visit to Egypt. After he was done, he asked the audience for comments. Seeing no takers, I chimed in. Not knowing who I was, he was very impressed with my comments, and that was the beginning of our friendship.
|March 4, 2014|
The author's view of the strength of the right is not universally shared among UK progressives. - DL
I am Zakhar Popovych a member of the Left Opposition initiative, and I have been on the Maidan under my red flag from the very first day of its emergence. I don’t sleep there in tents but I have been visiting the square virtually every day during these months.
Euro-Maidan is mass popular and grassroots movement, not a manufactured one
|by I. O. Kuzyk March 11, 2014|
I view the recent events in the Ukraine rather simply – everything hangs on the answer to a central question: Were the events in Ukraine a revolution? If one agrees, as I do, that the overthrow of Yanukovych was the product of a genuine, popular uprising against a corrupt and thuggish regime, then progressive people of all stripes should be supportive of the events in Ukraine - even with reservations.
|by Nevin Kaplan March 8, 2014|
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.
|March 8, 2014|
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.
|by Nicholas Davenport March 4, 2014|
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
|by Michael Hirsch February 26, 2014|
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?
|by Richard Greeman February 25, 2014|
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.
|by Jeffrey R. Webber and Susan Spronk February 25, 2014|
“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.
|by Alan Maass and Sean Larson February 24, 2014|
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.
|February 23, 2014|
|by E. Haberkern|
My problem with Julia's analysis is that it repeats the standard line that is being repeated throughout the press regardless of political point of view. I think there are two main problems with this party line.
|February 21, 2014|
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.
|by Richard Greeman February 19, 2014|
As the uprising in Ukraine seems to be coming to a crisis after weeks of mass demonstrations and occupations, I would like to translate for you the following letter received last week from Julia Gusseva, the Russian translator of Victor Serge and co-organizer of the International Conference of Independent Labor Unions in Kiev last November. Julia, an activist since the ‘80s, is one of the founders of the Praxis Center in Moscow, and writes from an anarcho-syndicalist viewpoint.
|by Richard Greeman February 19, 2014|
As the uprising in Ukraine seems to be coming to a crisis after weeks of mass demonstrations and occupations, I would like to translate for you the following letter received last week from Julia Gusseva, the Russian translator of Victor Serge and co-organizer of the International Conference of Independent Labor Unions in Kiev last November. Julia, an activist since the ‘80s, is one of the founders of the Praxis Center in Moscow, and writes from an anarcho-syndicalist viewpoint.
|by Jesse Lemisch January 22, 2014|
Enclosed in and insulated by their own structures of thought, many doctors are quite blind to the role of privilege, including their own, in getting or not getting medical care and in determining the quality of that care. If they acknowledge some flaw (or even ignorance or barbarity) in individual health care, they see it as non-systemic, simply a matter of a bad apple in an otherwise benign barrel. They may maintain this obtuseness even when they themselves become patients.
|by Dan La Botz January 13, 2014|
The Chiapas Rebellion led by the Zapatistas took place twenty years ago this month. What was the importance of the rebellion and of the Zapatistas? What was the impact at the time? And what has been its political legacy? What is the role of the Zapatistas in Mexico today?
|by Stephen R. Shalom January 10, 2014|
It remains to be seen whether NJ Governor Chris Christie will be able to avoid having his political career crash and burn.
The U.S. in Central Asia After Afghanistan
|Alan Ruff December 31, 2013|
"As we reassure our partners that our relationships and engagement in Afghanistan will continue after the military transition in 2014, we should underscore that we have long-term strategic interests in the broader region... As the United States enters a new phase of engagement in Afghanistan, we must lay the foundation for a long-term strategy that sustains our security gains and protects U.S. interests..." —US Senator John Kerry, Chair of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, December, 2011.
|December 25, 2013|
|by Michael Hirsch December 23, 2013|
Kari Lyderson, Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago’s 99%, Haymarket Books, 2013
New Yorkers rejoicing in Michael Bloomberg’s departure from office can be grateful for another small favor: they don’t live in Chicago, where residents are stuck for at least two more years with an austerity-mad, street-brawling mayor who wields near absolute power over a City Council far more supine than the one we have here.
|by Dianne Feeley December 15, 2013|
During the early days of second-wave feminism, I remember reading Judy Brady’s essay “I Want a Wife” about how everyone needed “a wife,” that is someone to take care of the tasks of everyday life, as women were raised to do.
|by Kate Doyle Griffiths-Dingani December 9, 2013|
The question of where Mandela would be laid to rest was finally resolved in June, months before he passed away on December 5, 2013.
|by Bruce Bostick|
Union-dense Lorain County, Ohio, is now home to an independent labor slate of two dozen newly elected city councilors—recruited and run by the central labor council there. All labor’s candidates had strong showings last month, and all but two were elected.
“This was a step we took reluctantly,” said Lorain County AFL-CIO President Harry Williamson. “When the leaders of the [Democratic] Party just took us for granted and tried to roll over the rights of working people here, we had to stand up.”
|December 6, 2013|
On June 10, 2013 the U.S. Senate, with its Democratic majority, approved a farm bill that included a $4.1 billion cut in food stamp funding over a 10-year period. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), under this proposal 500,000 households would lose $90 in food stamp benefits each month. Despite that, the Senate passed the measure by a 66-27 margin, making clear that it had bipartisan support.
Only one Senate Democrat voted against the farm bill.
|by John Halle December 5, 2013|
One of the many great things about having a card-carrying socialist elected to a major municipal office [in Seattle] is that we can start to have good arguments. Peter Lavenia started one with me a couple of weeks ago and I’m going to argue back.
|by Warren Davis November 27, 2013|
This essay is inspired by the recent article by Denis Godard titled: “The NPA in crisis: We have to explain because we have to start again.” His article is a review of the strategic orientation of the historically Trotskyist-origined tendencies that prioritize building independent class formations and which see electoral vehicles as expressions of anti-capitalist cum revolutionary socialist movements “from below” (that is, based in and directly responsive to grassroots and rank-and-file formations).
|by John Halle November 7, 2013|
The 2013 municipal election contained mixed results for left third party advocates.
|Andrew Sernatinger & Tessa Echeverria November 6, 2013|
We’re at an interesting (and terrible) moment where we’re witnessing attacks on most every gain working people have made for at least the last half century. The curious exception to that has been the advance of marriage and civil rights for gay and lesbian couples in many U.S. states and core imperialist countries.
|by Thomas Harrison November 4, 2013|
Doug Ireland, radical journalist, blogger, passionate human rights and queer activist, and relentless scourge of the LGBT establishment, died in his East Village home on Oct. 26. Doug had lived with chronic pain for many years, suffering from diabetes, kidney disease, sciatica and the debilitating effects of childhood polio. In recent years he was so ill that he was virtually confined to his apartment. Towards the end, even writing, his calling, had become extremely difficult.
|by Robin Hahnel November 4, 2013|
[The following open letter to more than 60 environmental justice organizations is a revised version of a talk given at a conference on "The Political Economy of the Environment" held in Brooklyn, New York, on October 5, 2013, co-sponsored by the Union of Radical Political Economy and New Politics. It will appear in the Winter 2014 issue of New Politics as part of a special section on the environment, featuring articles from several different points of view.
|Lee Levin October 25, 2013|
The two great loves of my father’s life were the Green Bay Packers and golf. Every fall Sunday we worshipped at the altar of the Green and Gold. My brother and I learned, at an early age, that we could only talk during commercials and half time. Our Sunday routines created my love of armchair sports. Today, in addition to following pro football, I watch college basketball and football, pro basketball, baseball and tennis. Too often feminists and leftists dismiss the importance of sports in society and only focus on the machismo culture encouraged by profe
|by Dan Gallin October 9, 2013|
[New Politics readers will be interested in the following article by Dan Gallin, who advocates social justice unionism, international solidarity and the need for workers' movements that actually move.
|by Bhaskar Sunkara October 6, 2013|
Passionately watching last week’s election returns* at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung’s office in New York, without ever having been to Germany or learned more than a half-dozen German words, was an unusual experience. It was easy enough to orient my sympathies — as an American socialist they stood with the Left Party.
|by Brian King October 3, 2013|
Is there a fundamental conflict between a healthy environment and a healthy economy?
|by Michael Hirsch October 3, 2013|
Review of Life During Wartime: Resisting Counterinsurgency, ed. by Kristian Williams, William Munger and Lara Messersmith-Glavin (AK Press, 2013); and Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America, by Matt Apuzzo & Adam Goldman (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2013).
|by Greg King October 2, 2013|
Fewer than two weeks before the US House of Representatives brought on the government shutdown, it voted (9/19/13) by a slim margin to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, over the next 10 years. Now, $4 billion a year may not seem like much, given the enormous figures our "leaders" play with, but it will mean that a great many families as well as individuals will not have enough to eat.
|by Michael Hirsch October 1, 2013|
[Originally posted on the Indypendent, Sept. 27, 2013]
|by Martin Comack September 12, 2013|
I would like to comment on the Leninist critique of my book Wild Socialism: Workers Councils in Revolutionary Berlin, 1918-21 by Dan La Botz on your website. His review contains several errors and misinterpretations.
|by Rodrigo Santaella September 10, 2013|
Brazil went to the streets in June this year with crowds never before seen in the history of the country. There were young workers and students who were demonstrating for the first time, but also sectors of the middle class and union members as well as social movement and left party activists who protested about a wide diversity of issues.
We Support a Democratic Syrian Revolution!
|Statement of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy September 7, 2013|
Pressured by the British Parliament's historic rejection of military action against Syria and by the great opposition of most of the American people to getting involved in yet another bloody war in the Middle East, President Obama has been forced to take his plan to attack Syria to Congress. At the moment, Congress appears to be sharply divided over whether or not to support the President, with many still undecided, and it is therefore imperative to take advantage of widespread antiwar opinion to make the case now against U.S. military intervention in Syria.
|by Stephen R. Shalom August 31, 2013|
The Campaign for Peace and Democracy has posted an interesting symposium on Syria. It was mostly written before the August 21 chemical weapons attack and the resulting war threat from Washington. None of the symposium participants favors U.S. military action, but the symposium provides useful background on the Syrian uprising that helps us make sense of the current situation.
|by Dan La Botz August 29, 2013|
Review: Thomas Sakmyster. A Communist Odyssey: The Life of József Pogány / John Pepper. Budapest-New York: Central European University Press. 2012. Photos. Bibliography. Index. 249 pp.
A Black, Working Class March on Washington: But We're Still Waiting for the Beginning of a New Movement
|by Dan La Botz August 26, 2013|
The Fiftieth Anniversary March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 24 was a mostly African American working class event of tens of thousands. They came to celebrate the struggles and victories of a half century ago and to put on the agenda for today the issues of racial profiling and stand-your-ground laws, the country’s unemployment rate and growing economic inequality, and new restrictions on voting rights.
|by Thomas Harrison August 22, 2013|
As I write, a horrible tragedy is unfolding in Egypt. The old order has reasserted itself with a vengeance. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine that Egypt will ever again be what it was before 2011.
August 15, 2013
|by Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists|
The following statement from the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists makes a powerful case for socialism from below in the context of the Egyptian coup, the massacres carried out by the military and their horrific impact on the nation's democratic upsurge. Like others, the Revolutionary Socialists is evolving its point of view, challenged as it is with understanding first the election of a repressive right-wing Muslim government on the heels of a healthy mass movement, and then the shocks from a bloody military coup. We think it important to share their statement on the situation and, along with the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and others, we are republishing it as a contribution to the general discussion.
|by Christopher Phelps August 22, 2013|
It is the age of Barack, the age of Trayvon; a time for imagining post-racial transcendence, a time for recognizing obdurate injustice. As we mark the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington this month, as new generations surround the reflecting pool, we will ask whether we yet judge each other by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin.
|by Dick Dunbar August 22, 2013|
Review of Henry A. Giroux, America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth, Monthly Review Press, 2013.
|by Michael Hirsch August 18, 2013|
Charles V. Bagli, Other People’s Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made (Dutton, 2013).
Laura Gottesdiener, A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home (Zuccotti Park Press, 2013).
Response to “Creating a Transcontinental North American Working Class Movement” by Dan La Botz
|by Edur Velasco Arregui and Richard Roman August 16, 2013|
We hoped that our book, Continental Crucible, would open up a discussion of the future of the North American Left and labor movement, a discussion that is urgent in the face of the relentless capitalist offensive of the last forty years.
|by Dan La Botz August 8, 2013|
Book Review of Martin Comack. Wild Socialism: Workers Councils in Revolutionary Berlin, 1918-1921. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012. Chronology. Bibliography. Index. 97pp. Paperback or e-book: $24.99
50 Years After the March on Washington
|by Paul Street August 3, 2013|
“There is not a Black America and a White America….there’s a United States of America.” So proclaimed Barack Obama, to wild applause, at the launching of his national and global celebrity in his instantly lauded 2004 Democratic Convention Keynote Address.
|by Gregory N. Heires August 1, 2013|
Perhaps you shouldn’t be surprised that the chief economist during George W. Bush’s presidency seems happy that economic inequality in our country is at its most extreme since the Great Depression.
After all, the Bush administration delivered huge tax breaks to the wealthy, the very people described by the former president as his political base.
|by Ben Luongo July 25, 2013|
The International Monetary Fund acknowledged making an egregious error in its evaluation of the Greek bailout it helped create after its ambitious push for harsh austerity last month. Their failed analysis highlights the dangers of austerity measures imposed on Greek citizens. According to the IMF report:
|by Jon Hochschartner July 16, 2013|
On Sept. 17, Grand Theft Auto V, the latest installment in the wildly popular video game franchise, will be released for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, perhaps as one of the final major games for the current console generation.
A reply to Dan La Botz
|by Herman Benson July 11, 2013|
This discussion has shifted ground. It started with what I proposed, but now we're discussing Dan La Botz's views on the AFL-CIO. I wrote about the need to democratize unions. Dan wants to turn existing unions into "real unions."
Continued economic decline sealed the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood, writes Yassamine Mather. But martial law also represents a defeat for the working class and democracy
|by Yassamine Mather July 10, 2013|
[from Weekly Worker 969, July 4 2013]
|by Costas Panayotakis July 10, 2013|
In his review of Remaking Scarcity Peter Bratsis raises a number of important issues regarding the relationship between scarcity and economic democracy but does not always offer an accurate account of how the book specifies that relationship.
Call for Workshop Presentations
|July 7, 2013|
A Conference of the Union for Radical Political Economics
Co-sponsored by New Politics
|by Dan La Botz July 4, 2013|
I have been following the story of Edward J. Snowden, so far the most famous man of the twenty-first century without a country, who at the moment bides his time in an international way station in Moscow waiting for some country to offer him a visa and asylum. A whistle blower who revealed that the U.S.
|Dan La Botz July 2, 2013|
When Herman Benson writes about the labor movement, I read with interest what he has to say, knowing that his last 50 years as head of the Association for Union Democracy (AUD) represent only the most recent part of an even longer career in the labor movement that began when he was a machinist in the auto industry and a member of the United Auto Workers after World War II.
|Elizabeth Koechlin July 2, 2013|
The killing of Clément Méric, an 18-year-old anti-fascist activist and member of a student union, by a young fascist skinhead in Paris on May 6th has shocked French public opinion.
Replying to an invitation from Rich Trumka
|Herman Benson July 1, 2013|
If you're a friend of labor, liberal or radical, Rich Trumka's invitation applies to you. He's asking for your thoughts on how the AFL-CIO can get ready for the future. (As you know, unions have not been doing so well these days, and maybe someone can come up with some good ideas.) Toward that end, he posted questions on the internet submitted by seven presumed notables, including former labor secretary Robert Reich and In These Times labor editor David Moberg. Within a few electronic moments, over a thousand comments poured in.
|Rodrigo Santaella June 26, 2013|
[Mass protests have been taking place in all the major cities of Brazil for the past week, beginning with a demand to reduce bus fares and expanding into a mass movement that demands improvements in all public services, health, education, and working peoples’ rights.
A Personal Statement by CPD Co-Directors
|Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy June 26, 2013|
During the past two years, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy has released official statements in broad support of the Syrian revolution: CPD Salutes Syria’s Courageous Democratic Movement and Message of Condolence and Solidarity from U.S. Peace Activists to the Syrian People. What follows, however, is not an official position but rather a personal statement by CPD’s co-directors about the current situation.
|Dan La Botz June 26, 2013|
Book Review: David Black and Chris Ford. 1839: The Chartist Insurrection. Foreword by John McDonnell, M.P. London: Unkant Publishers, 2011. 233 pages. Chronology. Illustrations. Appendices. Index. £10.99.
|Richard Antunes June 22, 2013|
Our country was at the forefront of social and political struggles in the 1980s, and succeeded in preventing the introduction of neoliberalism in Brazil, so that Latin America’s “lost decade” was, for social movements and popular politicians in our country, exactly the opposite.
|Özlem İlyas Tolunay June 20, 2013|
Maybe we are not organized, but we are neither apolitical nor without ideology. We were only afraid, because we are the daughters and sons of a generation, killed and tortured to death just before and after the military coup of September 12, 1980 in Turkey. But, we have now learned that cowards die many times before their deaths. We went beyond the fear threshold and achieved the collective confidence that one smells in the air.
|Sean McElwee June 19, 2013|
Human trafficking is an issue so entirely abhorrent, it seems that it would be impossible to inappropriately address it. And yet a forthcoming paper (to be published in by Dr. Hebah Farrag, Richard Flory and Brie Loskota) argues that often religious organizations fail to get the job done right.
|Dan La Botz June 15, 2013|
Richard Roman and Edur Velasco Arregui. Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America. Halifax & Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2013. 148 pages. References. Index. Paperback. Price: $19.95 CAN.
|Dan La Botz June 13, 2013|
Napoleon Gómez. The Collapse of Dignity: The Story of a Mining Tragedy and the Fight Against Greed and Corruption in Mexico. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, Inc., 2013. 344 pages. Photos. Index. $26.95 U.S. / $36.00 CAN / Kindle $11.99.
|Özlem İlyas Tolunay June 1, 2013|
The on-going resistance to the remodeling of Taksim Square in Central Istanbul, Turkey took on a new more militant form on Monday evening when bulldozers arrived at the park and began demolishing some parts of the Gezi Park's wall and removed nearby trees. Taksim Solidarity, the resistance movement whose members were at a regular meeting at the park during the demolition, succeeded in stopping the demolition when they moved into the area where the bulldozers were removing the trees. A group of 20 to 30 people stayed on guard duty throughout the night.
|Taksim Resistance June 5, 2013|
To the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Public
Citizens have been expressing their democratic outrage in Taksim Istanbul and all around the country against the insensitivity of the government for the public concern about the de-facto destruction of the Taksim Gezi Park that took place around 10 PM on May 27th.
We share the pain of Abdullah Comert’s and Mehmet Ayvalitas’s families and wish to extend our get-well wishes to thousands of wounded citizens.
An interview with Michael Albert, one of the authors of "Occupy Strategy"
|Stephen R. Shalom May 25, 2013|
Michael Albert, Jessica Azulay, and David Marty
Mexican teachers, particularly in the south of the country, have joined a regional rebellion of rank-and-file teachers that erupted in violence in late April. In the state of Guerrero the offices of all three major political parties were vandalized and set afire to protest their support for the educational reform passed by congress and the states over the last five months. At the same time there have been marches and demonstrations in several other states, and there are plans afoot to strike indefinitely beginning on May 1.
One of the most inspiring examples of people fighting back against the predations of international capital is taking place in the Jagatsinghpur district of the Indian state of Orissa (also spelled Odisha).
The Indiana University (IU) student strike of April 11-12, 2013, was an important milestone in new student activism.
In Managua one finds uniformed guards in front of the banks, in the shopping malls like Metro Centro, in the grocery stores, and anywhere else there is likely to substantial amounts of money. These men have the status bestowed by a uniform and the authority commanded by carrying a pistol. One could say that they are the elite of their profession, but they are far outnumbered by the lumpenguardia found on every middle class street of the capital city.
An Interview with Mazibuko Jara of the South African Democratic Left Front
[This article will be appearing in the summer 2013 issue of New Politics.]
The March 25 issue of The New Republic offers a lengthy piece by Rutgers professor David Greenberg, “Agit-Prof: Howard Zinn’s Influential Mutilations of American History.” The essay presented as a review of Martin Duberman’s Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left (2012) [read the review by Ron Briley, the book editor of History News Network (HNN), heremore
The ghost of Reagan's welfare queen still hovers over conservatives. She is black. She is a large part of Mitt Romney's 47 percent of moochers, and the "takers" that conservatives talk so much about.
Most people don't talk about welfare or know much about it, but conservatives, who also don't know much about it, use it as a threat when they seek reelection or talk about policy. Republicans, and some Democrats, declare that welfare reform was a success because it brought the rolls down and put "free loaders" back to work.
LAPD killer Dorner's insane rampage was fired by a naïve faith in the country's political myth
Christopher Dorner's brutal killings of multiple people vaguely associated with the Los Angeles police have caused debates over both the department's deployment of manhunt drones and the disastrous trigger-happiness that had them showering bullets on any hapless civilian with the misfortune to d
School began this week for children all over Nicaragua, but even before children entered the classroom the Nicaraguan government had begun supplying its School Feeding Program as the Ministry of Education transferred food from warehouses to 10,000 schools in 153 municipalities. For many Nicaraguan children, the School Feeding Program is essential to preventing hunger and malnutrition.
Nicaragua is in the midst of a contentious debate that could become a serious social struggle over the reform of the nation’s Social Security system. President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government has proposed to increase the retirement age, the number of years one has to work, and the number of required contributions.
When the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) led the Nicaraguan people to victory over the dictatorship of Anastasio Samoza in 1979, Wilmer (not his real name) was only 14 years old. Having come from a family of modest means, he identified with the revolution that ended the long repressive rule of the Samoza family that with U.S. backing had for 43 years run, ransacked and ultimately ruined Nicaragua.
In December 2009, the Israeli Knesset passed a law allowing for the creation of a biometric database of the inhabitants of Israel. As of January 2013, the program is in its initial testing stage.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista government have failed the country's women. That was the message delivered by Azahalea Solís, an attorney and a member of Nicaragua's Autonomous Women's Movement, speaking at the Ben Lindner Center in Managua on January 17 to an audience of Nicaraguans and American students from various universities.
We the undersigned call for the liberation of the Russian political prisoners, both those already condemned, and sent to the new Gulag, like the two feminist activists of the Pussy Riot group, and those in jail awaiting trial – some 20 activists, socialists and anti-fascists, in connection with the demonstrations against Putin on May 6th.
The reaction to Aaron Swartz's suicide has quickly reached a level of intensity which may have surprised those who will eventually need to respond to it.
Robin Hahnel's Of the People, By the People: The case for a participatory economy (Soapbox Press, 2012, distributed by AK press, www.akpress.org) is the latest and most accessible presentation of his argument that a new economy—based on equality, participation, solidarity, and self-management—is both desirable and possible. Originally formulated by Hahnel and Michael Albert more than two decades ago, the model has been continually refined and improved, addressing problems raised by critics.
[This article was written for a foreign audience, so I have spelled out some things that might otherwise be taken for granted when writing for an American reading public.]
Brussels, Chrismas Eve, 2012. (From our Special Correspondent). Reactions were sharply divided here in Euroland to Stockholm's award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union (EU) in recognition of its efforts to promote the moral values of fiscal discipline and responsibility through the Euro.
Forty-three years ago, I belonged to The Hawaii Resistance. It was an anti-draft group, believing in non-violent revolution. Then I saw a whole row of benches slammed into the ribcage of one of my friends, with whom I was blocking the path for the 29th Brigade of the Hawaii National Guard to get on the airplane for Vietnam. I was horrified to see that happen, to hear him cry out in pain. I got to thinking, suppose hundreds of thousands of us sat down on Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, attempting to bring an end to "business as usual"?
An Open Letter to African American Thinkers and Leaders
As an African American currently residing in one of the poorest counties in South Carolina, I have become increasingly troubled by the absence of our voice in an increasing number of conversations involving public policies which directly impact the health and future development of African American political, social and economic interests.
The Mexican Congress has in near record time approved a new law on education called for by the new president Enrique Peña Nieto intended to reassert government control over the country's education system, break the power of the Mexican Teachers Union bureaucracy, and improve the quality of education. At the heart of the new law is a regular teacher evaluation with increased emphasis on merit.
While in Istanbul last week I participated in a march and demonstration by the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) on Dec. 9 to launch a campaign to link grassroots community organizations to a broader program for social and political change in Turkey. The march of hundreds of ODP members of all ages, some of them families with children, was a peaceful event though the chants were militant. "Let us live like human beings. Take the government's hands off the people," was one. And periodically the marchers shouted, "Revolt!"
We on the socialist left really do need to build a broad-as-possible socialist/left/progressive electoral movement. I know this will be anathema to many of the self-styled "revolutionary left," or, if advanced and advocated, only paid lip service. It is, however, the only way to establish a positive socialist and honestly progressive political presence in the United States today.
Mexico's Opposition Parties Sign "Pact for Mexico," Left in Disarray, Radical Youth in Violent Rebellion
Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Mexico's new president who took office on December 1, carried out a shrewd political maneuver the very next day, convincing the opposition parties to join him in signing a "Pact for Mexico," calling for the completion of the neoliberal transformation begun in the 1980s.
When, shortly after the occupation of Zuccotti Park (Sep. 17, 2011), I started organizing disabled people to join in the new Occupy Wall Street movement, which seemed to be growing at the speed of light, I was criticized by leaders in the disability rights movement, including my good friend Bob Kafka, a national leader of ADAPT.
Hi. I'm Paula Wolff.
In the United States and in other OECD countries, the majority of disabled people live in poverty.
The Unpaid Labor of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in Institutional and Community-based Disability Services
Drawing on the work of scholars, advocates, and historians, I wrote this article (based on my October 4 talk at the disability rights forum) to examine the unpaid labor of persons with intellectual disabilities in institutional and community settings. In general, my PhD research, and this piece, are aimed at contributing to the literature that examine intellectual disability and work.
An uneasy cease-fire has been declared ending Israel's attack on Gaza, Operation Pillar of Defense. Take this quiz to see how much you know about the situation.
The election last week of Xi Jinping to the chairmanship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), together with six others who with Xi constitute the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the party, represents entrenchment of what the Chinese Marxist intellectual Au Loong Yu has called “bureaucratic capitalism.” The bureaucratic capitalists, many of them princelings, that is, sons of the founders of China’s Communist government, have through their control of the state and crony state-corporation relationships come to dominate the heart
An appeal from the Russian leftists to their comrades in the struggle:
Michael A. Lebowitz. The Contradictions of "Real Socialism": The Conductor and the Conducted. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012. 222 pp., $15.95
Andrew Sernatinger: I’m speaking today with Kshama Sawant, a socialist running for a seat in the Washington State House of Representatives against Democrat Frank Chopp, presently the House Speaker. Kshama is a lecturer in economics at Seattle University and Seattle Central Community College, and is a member of Socialist Alternative. Kshama, thanks for speaking with me today.
Kshama Sawant: Thank you for having me.
Even in the age of extreme reality television, nationally broadcasted suicides remain a blessedly rare occurrence. And so the suicide which occurred during a Huffington Post sponsored debate on third party voting probably should have received more attention that it did.
Book review of: Michael Staudenmaier. Truth and Revolution: A History of the Sojourner Truth Organization, 1969-1986. Oakland: AK Press, 2012. Bibliography, index. 387 pages. Paperback, $19.95.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film “The Master,” starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Laura Dern, might alternatively have been titled “Masters and Followers,” for the movie is as much about his followers as it is about the character of the master, Lancaster Dodd (played by Hoffman).
To call this feature-length film xenophobic, fear-mongering and hysterical almost understates the case. The whole thing is so over-the-top that, like a bad horror movie where you can see the strings moving the monster, it leaves us numbed and bored or perhaps laughing. Yet it’s not funny.
The PRI is back—and the left is in disarray.
"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men." - Abraham Lincoln
[This article first appeared in the September issue of Jacobin.]
A Public Forum
The Neoliberal Assault on Disability Rights
Thursday, October 4, 2012 7:00pm
Harrison and Landy recently returned from a trip to Greece, where they met with activists and others to gain a better understanding of the popular upsurge against the Greek government’s austerity program.
[Reply to Bill Balderston's article, "Occupy Oakland and the Labor Movement."]
I am going to focus my remarks on section 2 of Bill Balderston's article, which he subtitled "The Battle of Longview". Bill and I have very different views of the outcome of this battle, and what that outcome is likely to mean.
[Introduction by Dan La Botz: As tens of thousands throughout the country protest the results of Mexico’s presidential elections, a group in the State of Veracruz has issued a statement calling upon Mexicans to both refuse to recognize the results of the election and to engage in a campaign of civil disobedience to make it impossible for the new government to rule.
On January 31, 2012, the Republican majorities in both the Indiana Senate and House passed "right-to-work" legislation, riding roughshod over both the Democratic minority and tens of thousands mobilized workers and their allies. Indiana thus became the first new "right-to-work" state since Oklahoma, which became one in 2002—and a possible harbinger of more defeats for organized labor to come.
What is democracy? Well, as most of us know, it comes from the Greek demos kratos—the people rule. But what form has that rule taken? Well, in the days of the ancient Athenians, free Greek men used to gather in the agora—the marketplace, to debate public policy and vote on it. Fast forward to the Magna Carta signed by King John of England at Runnymede, and it meant limiting the power the king had over his nobles. The serfs and townspeople were left out of the mix.
In January 2011, members of the Participatory and Democratic Socialism Movement proposed that the Cuban Communist Party adopt its "Proposals for the Advance of Socialism in Cuba." ("Socialism and the 'Citizens' Demand for Another Cuba," Pedro Campos, Havana Times, June 24, 2012)* These socialist critics of the Cuban regime offered a program of radical democratic proposals including full freedom of speech and press, freedom of association (including partie
[This article will appear in the forthcoming summer 2012 print issue of New Politics.]
(Written the Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend 2011,when I was my usual long-term unemployed due to only temporary service work available at that time.—GF, May 18, 2012)
Occupy America: A Call for Articles
Occupy Wall Street and its hundreds of offshoots in cities and towns across the country is the most exciting and important development on the American left in years. The occupiers accuse Wall Street and the government and political parties of abusing and neglecting the American people and call for a more democratic and just society.
It is half a year from the national elections in the United States. The campaigns are well under way, and the debate on the left as to how to relate to the elections is under way as well. New Politics has invited leftists with a range of different views to comment on what position they think the left ought to take.
To run or not to run? This is a question that every left-wing organization faces every four years. We in the Socialist Party USA spend a good chunk of our National Conventions debating this very question. Yet, for us and for others in the Socialist movement, it is the capitalist system itself that has made running for President on a Socialist line a necessity.
As spring comes to life and the Occupy movement stirs from hibernation, it finds the American electoral machine in full swing for the 2012 race. National elections are anathema to many on the radical left, but to most Americans they represent the only avenue of participation in the political process. That voting via the Electoral College for one of two pre-selected politicians every four years is the extent of citizens' interaction with our democracy is reason enough to scoff at it intellectually, but its material importance can't be overlooked.
We can’t devise a successful electoral strategy for “The Left”—meaning the forces of peace, social/economic justice and sustainability—unless we face a simple fact: We’re getting our asses kicked.
Obama's 2008 promise of "change" has been so outrageously contradicted by three and a half years in office that it almost looks like deceit. The domination of financial elites is now more absolute than ever.
Another election season dawns, and yet again students like myself are urged to "make our voices heard" by selecting our preferred candidate. Many of us will undoubtedly be caught up in the fervor of rhetoric and promises, some perhaps even believing that this time things will be different. As a radical student activist it's often difficult to view this bi-yearly charade as anything other than a perverse blend of distraction and manipulation.
It is time for the Left to be realistic about how it is going to build the power we need to make the changes we want.
The quadrennial presidential election extravaganza is here and along with it comes the quadrennial intra-U.S. leftist bloodletting on the unpleasant question of how to best respond to the narrow "choices" handed down by the nation's corporate-managed one-and-a-half party system.
I have considered myself a Marxist for forty years, yet my main concern for quite a lot of that time is that working people have more control over their own lives. That's not necessarily going to be the case if a communist party comes to power. Then political cadres transform themselves into bureaucrats and "lord it over" working people. We can see that in China, Vietnam and Cuba.
Most leftists know economist Alfred Marshall (1842-1924), if they know him at all, only through the superficial account of him given in Robert Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers, as only a fusty Victorian preoccupied with abstract mathematical models of economic equilibrium.
The “Jobs For All” Issue: It’s Still the Economy and Unemployment Front and Center, Not the Occupy Movement
Noted socialist writer Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” That doesn’t just apply to the business and managerial classes alone—I submit, it can also apply to those who are economically comfortable either as workers or as retirees—and thus have no inkling of what it’s like to be one of the working poor, what it’s like to be chronically unemployed and “living” on a mere $600/month in unemployment compensation, to live
“Yesterday (Feb. 4, 2012) more than 100 000 people marched on the streets in the centre of Moscow despite severe cold (-20C) demanding free and fair elections and the end of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule. Following on the mass demonstrations of December 10th and 24th in Moscow, in which tens of thousands of people took part, this shows clearly that the period of social passivity in Russia is over; the Putin era is nearing its end.
David Cronenberg’s new film “A Dangerous Method” begins in the opening years of the twentieth century with the delivery to the Burghölzli Clinic of the Zurich Hospital of a young woman named Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly) who, suffering from hysteria, becomes one of the early patients to undergo psychoanalysis. Spielrein, a wealthy, well-educated, and lovely young Russian Jewish woman—whose hysterical outbreaks express themselves in fits, tortuous postures, tormented speech, and bizarre behavior—comes under the care of Dr.
Review of Jason Berry, Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, New York: Crown Publishers, 2011
New Politics interviews an MJEM activist in the United States
[Partly in response to my calls to the American Historical Association to deal with the jobs crisis in the field, AHA President Tony Grafton organized on short notice a special session at the 126th Annual Meeting of the organization in Chicago on January 6, 2012. The session, entitled "Jobs for Historians: Approaching the Crisis from the Demand Side," was well-attended, with about 250 people in the Sheraton Chicago’s Ballroom VI. Grafton chaired, and I was one of four speakers.
Adapted from an article originally published in the May 2011 Indianapolis Peace & Justice Journal—GF
Add another Frustration to Being Unemployed: A Case in Point from Indiana’s WorkOne State Employment Agency
(I’m sure unemployed workers outside of Indiana have encountered very similar problems, and can relate well to this particular situation; just one more frustration added to the already-present myriad frustrations of being unemployed and not able to find a job. Originally published in the July 2011 Movement, monthly newspaper of the Indianapolis Peace & Justice Center—GF)
Trying to reform Capitalism is a futile as preaching Vegetarianism to a Shark. And nearly as dangerous. Stay away from those gaping greedy Jaws if you don’t want to get eaten alive—the sorry Fate of many idealistic Liberals and Social Democrats! (See fig. 1)
The immediate European economic crisis demonstrates, if there were any lingering doubts, that the architecture of the European Monetary Union is incompatible with countercyclical intervention. It was designed solely to contain inflation at 2%. There is no central fiscal authority and no mandate to either maintain acceptable levels of employment or to sustain working class living standards against the ravages of the business cycle.
As part of his program to deal with America's economic catastrophe, economist Robert Reich has proposed a revival of the New Deal's Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps.
In the seventh century, Musa bin Nusair, born in Syria, traveled and fought his way through the Middle East and across North Africa, expanding the Muslim empire headquartered in Damascus, Syria. With his general Tariq bin Ziyad in the lead, he crossed the Mediterranean from Morocco with an army of several thousand, taking control of most of Spain. From 711 until 1031, the Umayyad Empire stretched from Córdoba to Damascus.
The evolving Occupy Wall Street movement continues to confound and surprise even its ardent supporters. Two days after Mayor Bloomberg’s brutal nighttime eviction of sleeping Occupiers from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, a massive candlelight march in support of Occupy Wall St. wound its way from Foley Square (opposite the federal courthouse), around City Hall and across the Brooklyn Bridge (police estimated 32,500 participants).
At a moment when Occupy faces severe police repression and cold weather, and as we are both extending our movement to the streets and rethinking our future, various pressures are beginning to build with the objective of taking our movement into the Democratic Party.
(A presentation at a conference at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on November 18, 2011, held in honor of Gertrude Ezorsky and sponsored by the New York Society For Women in Philosophy)
There is a famous quip by Georges Clemenceau: "Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head."
German industrial and financial power is the key to understanding the complex and often confusing international maneuvers around the Crisis of the Euro. Germany is Europe’s industrial powerhouse, the only country that has survived the Great Recession with a healthy economy, low unemployment, rising GDP, social stability and a favorable balance of trade. Yet, only within the solid framework of a strong European Union can Germany, Europe’s principal creditor nation, ever hope to collect on her Southern European loans and investments.
The emergence of a mass movement, the beginning of a new radicalization
To the superficial eye Liberty Park (Zucotti Park) in lower Manhattan is a circus—a mass of people all packed together in one rather small city square, towered over by the gleaming multistory offices of the 1%, ringed by metal police barricades and overseen by a tall police tower at one end and a solid row of police vans along one side. Boxes, plastic bins and tarps covering all manner of equipment surround the perimeters, tents sprout like mushrooms down the middle. The park is a cacophony of sound.
Reviving Progressive Activism: How a Human Rights Movement Won the Country’s First Universal Health Care Law
On May 26, 2011, Vermont became the first U.S. state to enact a law for a universal, publicly financed health care system. As Governor Shumlin signed Act 48, he set Vermont on course toward implementing a single payer system by 2017.
Review of Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton
[Reprinted from the History News Network.]
Actions sometimes have unintended consequences.
The main flaw of the Occupy Wall Street movement, according to the establishment media, has been that the protesters themselves have only been able to articulate a "vague" sense of grievance. This, it is argued, is evidenced in the protesters' disorganized and rather scattered complaints. What is it, the media bemoans, that all those demonstrators occupying city parks across the nation in an apparent protest of everything from the death penalty to corporate greed really want?
A statement, called an Action Plan by one of the people circulating it, seems to have emerged from the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, or from a working group set up by the people there. It's impossible to know how many people in and around OWS would agree with the thrust of this plan, but the two main points—if adopted and carried out—are extremely important. Even to get these points widely discussed would be a huge step forward. The details are less important than the main ideas.
[This is a revised version of a talk given at a conference sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine held at Columbia University, October 14-16, 2011.]
#OccupyWallStreet has caused quite the media frenzy during the past three weeks. The protestors (this author included) who have been camping out in Liberty Plaza, formerly Zuccotti Park, are dedicated to staying and demonstrating for economic and social justice.
The mainstream media and many liberal commentators such as Nicholas Kristof have criticized #OccupyWallStreet for its lack of structure and demands. “What exactly are they protesting?” they ask coyly, “I just don’t get it.”
Carl Oglesby, the eloquent, bespectacled former president of the original Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) of the 1960s, died Tuesday, September 13, 2011, at his home in New Jersey. He was 76, and had been suffering from lung cancer. Oglesby was one of the New Left’s most articulate spokespersons, a fierce, scholarly critic of the Vietnam War and an insightful student of how the U.S. ruling class functioned.
On December 17th, 2010 Tunisian street vendor Mohammad Bouazizi lit himself on fire.
Mohammad Bouazizi was twenty-six years old. He held a university degree, but was unable to find work for himself besides selling fruits and vegetables on the streets of Sidi Bouzid. On Wednesday, December 17th, the Tunisian police confiscated his merchandise and threatened to put him in jail for selling without a license—instead of pleading for his goods and livelihood as he had in the past, Mohammad Bouazizi doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire.
[In the current budget debates, it is taken for granted that the welfare program for families has been a failure and its end has been a blessing. To remind people what the actual record has been, I offer here the section on welfare from a book that I co-wrote. I have added up-dated information.]
"HEALTH INSURERS PUSH PREMIUMS Sharply Higher" headlines today's NY Times, with double-digit increases of up to 80 percent at a time when premiums are averaging over $15,000 a year (up 9 percent from the previous year!)
The following is a report from the Occupy Wall Street protest march from which I am now on the train returning home.
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM, Greece, a weak, peripheral nation in the European economy, was still licking its wounds from the greatest politico-financial scandal in its post-war history -- the collapse of the Athens stock exchange. The wild stock market speculation had been fueled by often-repeated statements from various government officials (with Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou leading the chorus) that the upward trend was an accurate reflection of the robust state of the real economy.
With all the advocacy efforts expended over the last 20 years, it might be reasonable to expect some results by now for the Single Payer (SP) movement. Of course, SP would be a great way to provide health insurance in America. Instead of thousands of private insurance companies (payers for health care services) competing with each other to see who can fool the most people, there would be one source of payment, the federal government, for doctors, clinics and hospitals.
[Originally published as an Op-Ed, Indianapolis Peace and Justice Journal, October 2008. Updated, corrected and partially rewritten, January, May and September 2011. ]
A Victory After Decades of Struggle for Racial Justice
Cincinnati's recent selection of someone who is not white and is not from the West Side of Cincinnati as the city's new police chief is a victory for justice and civil rights, and a vindication of the efforts of those activists who for decades have struggled against the racism, violence and abuse that have characterized the Cincinnati Police Department.
“Black and white together, against the lower classes”—Nichols and May routine about Hyde Park (Chicago), late 1950s
Blues on the Border: Legendary Rock Guitarist Javier Batiz Plays and Sings for 'My Beloved and Beautiful Tijuana'
Javier Batiz, the great Mexican rock-and-roll guitarist, played and sang last week in a concert that embodied and gave voice to everything that is most wonderful about Tijuana and the U.S.-Mexico border region.
But you, when at last it comes to pass
-- Bertolt Brecht, “To Posterity”
The Republicans have successfully changed the economic debate from jobs to deficit control. Why the urgency? After all, this anemic “recovery” has been marked above all by the lack of job growth. Growth needs to considerable exceed 3% per annum if the private sector is to make any significant headway in reducing unemployment. Instead growth is actually trending downward from its post Great Recession peak. The intractability of long term unemployment now exceeds the duration experienced in the 1930s.
[Comments by Marvin and Betty Mandell and others are posted below the article.]
As the Gulf oil spill of April 2010 came and went -- public outcry now quieted and offshore drilling now resumed -- so too seems the case with the nuclear fallout of Japan. Currently, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are determining the future of more than a dozen aging nuclear reactors in the United States, some of which are of the same design as the Fukushima Daiichi reactors that exploded and melted down last month. The bureaucrats at NRC however, have never denied a nuclear plant application for renewal.
[Editor's note: This article continues Richard Greeman's series about Islamism.] Over the years, the British-backed Moslem Brotherhood’s activities spread far beyond Egypt. Not by coincidence did the first Arabic translation of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” still in circulation today, appear in Egypt the 1920"s. This anti-Semitic forgery was created by the Imperial Russian secret services around 1905 in order to designate a scapegoat and divert the growing Russian revolutionary movement into reactionary channels (pogroms, Black Hundreds).
-- Keith Preston, "The Thoughts That Guide Me: A Personal Reflection" (2005)
Recently, George Fish had a piece on the New Politics website entitled Open Programmatic Proposal to the Broad U.S. Left for Directly Dealing with the Present Unemployment Crisis. I urge New Politics readers to read and consider Fish's proposal.
In what concrete ways can it be said that the West “invents” what it calls Islamism ? Contemporary imperialism inadvertently spreads Islamic militantism by stirring up the ME/A hornets’ nest through torture-camps and attacks on civilians. But Western agents have long supported Islamic movements in the region as a way to divert nationalism and democracy. Historically, the British Intelligence Service nurtured the Islamicist movement at its very origin.
[The following appeal has been endorsed by New Politics as well as The Nation, The Progressive, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, among others.]
Six people in Zimbabwe are now imprisoned on charges of treason for organizing a meeting to discuss the mass movements in Tunisia and Egypt. For this “crime” they face a possible death sentence. They have been tortured and are now in solitary confinement.
The new American workers movement, which has developed so rapidly in the last couple of months in the struggle against rightwing legislative proposals to abolish public employee unions, suddenly finds itself at a crossroads. Madison, Wisconsin, where rank-and-file workers, community members, and social movement activists converged to create the new movement, remains the center of the struggle. In Ohio, which faces similar legislation, unions have also gone into motion, while working people around the country have been drawn into the fight.
The Bureaucrat and the Poor: Encounters in French Welfare Offices
[This is a modified version of an article first posted on the Workers' Liberty website.]
The Great Recession and its aftermath have generated a wholesale and unprecedented assault on the living conditions and future prospects for the American working class. This is the backdrop for the dramatic conflict now unfolding in Wisconsin.
A small and curious bulletin begins this note from the front lines: as of several hours ago, the head of the Wisconsin professional police association announced that its members would not eject demonstrators from the Capitol building, and suggested some would be spending the night with the demonstrators in order to protect them.
The new American workers movement—born in the last few weeks in the giant protests in Wisconsin and Ohio—faces a fateful confrontation this coming week. In Madison and Columbus, Republican legislators are pushing to abolish public employee labor unions and tens of thousands of workers are protesting and resisting. We have seen nothing like this face off between workers and bosses in the United States since the labor upheaval of the early 1970s, though the issues in the balance are more like those of the 1930s.
(Editor's note: Ali Kadri, presently a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE), has written this letter, received by a member of the New Politics Editorial Board.)
Thousands of workers demonstrated at the state capital in Madison, Wisconsin on Feb. 15 and 16 to protest plans by that state’s Republican Governor Scott Walker to take away the state workers’ union rights. Walker, cleverly attempted to divide the public workers by excluding police and firefighters from his anti-union law, and the media have worked to divide public employees against private sector workers.
For a movement to be a serious threat to the imperialist West, it must be coherent and united, which is simply not the case of what is termed "Radical Islam." A united, militant Islamic world would indeed be a serious threat to the West, but nothing like that is in the offing, with the result that “Political Islam,” divided, remains weak and ineffectual. So much for the Clash of Civilizations theories, based on ideology rather than concrete history.
Open Programmatic Proposal to the Broad U.S. Left for Directly Dealing with the Present Unemployment Crisis
Carl Davidson, organizer for CCDS [Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism] and one of its four National Co-chairs, recently e-mailed me on what it was doing in terms of addressing the unemployment crisis in the U.S. today, that direct and nasty continuing fallout from the still-current recession. He wrote:
The international climate change summit in Cancún in December 2010 produced an agreement that host president Felipe Calderon of Mexico declared a “success for humanity and reason”. All the major economies pledged to reduce carbon emissions and agreed to establish a ‘Green fund’ to financially help developing countries adapt to climate change. One country however, remained deeply critical of the document and refused to ratify the agreement.
James D. Cockroft’s "Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now," written for the centennial of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, is a radical scholar’s guide to radical Mexico and well worth the read. Both a scholar and a political activist, Cockcroft writes as a partisan of oppressed and exploited and an opponent of capitalism.
Editor's note: This is the seventh article in a series by Richard Greeman about Islamism. U.S. imperialism, deluded by its own ideology, has joined the March of Folly in Afghanistan/West Pakistan -- following in the illustrious footsteps of other would-be conquerors including the Persian Emperor Darius I, Alexander the Great, the British Empire under Queen Victoria and Brezhnev's Soviet Russian empire. All these great powers lost whole armies in the region before being driven out by the fiercely independent natives, as we have seen in previous articles. The U.S.
New York City plans to have even more inaccessible taxis
Does desperation alone account for reckless escalation of U.S. military aggression in the Middle East for which the “threat” of an aggressive Islamism provides the rationalization? To be sure, the worsening world economic crisis directly conditions the international context, aggravating U.S. capital’s frantic rush to control the world’s remaining oil reserves. America's willingness to use excessive force and to go it alone also serves to intimidate would-be imperialist rivals like China, Russia and France, so as to retain its lion’s share.
Obama’s decision to radically escalate the wars he was ostensibly elected to terminate is a measure of U.S. imperialism's desperation. It’s not just that our erstwhile peace candidate and future Nobel peace laureate is withdrawing exhausted U.S. troops from the frying pan of Iraq only to transfer them into the fire of Afghanistan, although that itself was an act of desperation. Many of these “volunteer” soldiers and reservists, shattered after several devastating tours of duty in Iraq, are being forced to remain in the service years beyond their contracts.
In our previous articles, we emphasized the ideological nature of today’s problematic Islamic “threat.” Historically this “threat” fits into an established tradition of hysterical propaganda campaigns – whether against “Indians,” “Negroes” or “Reds” -- which distort and exaggerate real and potential challenges to U.S. capitalism /imperialism so as to justify violence, state terror and wars of plunder. If the truth is “the first casualty” in war, then democracy is the second. Although framed by the U.S.
[Editor’s note: This is the second in a series by Richard Greeman.] To understand the lunacy of the problematic Islamic “threat” currently being hyped in mainstream U.S. political discourse, we need to place the concept in the historical context of Western, particularly U.S. imperialism’s collective self-image. White American identity has from the beginning defined itself in opposition a dangerous, threatening, darker “other” who had to be conquered, subdued, and/or exterminated : in the first instance the “savages” native to the Americas.
Note: This article begins a series by Richard Greeman. Longtime socialist and international activist Richard Greeman is best know for his studies and translations of Victor Serge, the Franco-Russian novelist and revolutionary.
Jason Schulman replies
To the Editors of New Politics:
I read with keen interest 2 recent articles on the New Politics website: “Card Check: Labor’s Charlie Brown Moment?” by Robert Fitch, and “Does ‘Union Democracy’ Undermine ‘Solidarity?” by Herman Benson.
A note on "Mean Bastards": This short piece, posted after the death of George Steinbrenner, has received a kind of confirmation in Ellen DeGeneres walking out on her five year contract worth tens of millions with "American Idol." I had criticized Simon Cowell (a former AI judge) along with Steinbrenner, Trump, etc.
I admire Claudia Dreifus’s interviews with scientists in the New York Times Tuesday Science section, and particularly her attention to women in science, and I know of her honorable history in the left and feminism. So I befriended her on Facebook. There she publicized her book, with Andrew Hacker, Higher Education? How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and Failing our Kids – and What we Can Do About It, to be published by Times Books/Henry Holt on August 3.
All day long, and on into a second day, here in New York, the media have been full of George Steinbrenner. He’s always been a Mean Bastard -- even in the Seinfeld version -- and that’s how he is memorialized: a Mean Bastard and a Winner. Sometimes he’s represented as a Mean-Bastard-with-a Heart-of-Gold-who-Gave-Money-to-Good-Causes. It would seem paradoxical to be deep in grief over a man universally acknowledged to be a Mean Bastard.
The trial of the Decommissioners lasted three weeks, in which time the jury heard not only from the Decommissioners but also detailed evidence of war crimes committed in Palestine and testimony from EDO managing director Paul Hills, who faced questions about his company’s dealings with Israel. All the defendants were acquitted by unanimous jury decisions. One of the defendants, Chris Osmond, said: "It was the right verdict. Our action was because nobody else was willing to take action.
Diana Denham and the C.A.S.A. Collective, Teaching Rebellion: Stories from the Grassroots Mobilization in Oaxaca (Oakland: PM Press, 2008) and Peter Kuper, A Sketchbook Journal of Two Years in Oaxaca (Oakland: PM Press, 2009).
On the 17th of January 2009, Israeli warplanes pounded the terrified inhabitants of the densely populated Gaza strip in over 50 air-strikes. It was the 22nd day of Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military assault on Gaza that left an estimated 1400 dead, including over 300 children.
Unions Representing Workers in Canada, Mexico qnd U.S. Explore Merger:
The United Steelworkers (USW), which represents 850,000 workers in Canada, the Caribbean and the United States, and the National Union of Miners and Metal Workers (SNTMMRM), known as the Mineros, which represents 180,000 workers in Mexico, have announced plans to explore uniting into one international union. The agreement to begin exploration of a merger was signed on June 21.
Max Lane. Unfinished Revolution: Indonesia Before and After Suharto. New York: Verso, 2008. 312 pages. Notes, index. $29.95
[This review appeared in New Politics, vol. I, no. 4, summer 1962 (old series).]
As a novelist, a middle class man of the mid-century, a Jew and a socialist, Harvey Swados is that wonderful rarity in the United States today, a committed human being. His recently published collection of essays written over the last ten years, A Radical’s America,* reveals his deep sense of disturbance about the quality of contemporary American life, its cant and corruption.
[We have asked labor activists to respond to "Card Check: Labor's Charlie Brown Moment?" by Robert Fitch, to encourage discussion on the important issues raised in the article. What follows is the response of Herman Benson.]
It's not unprecedented for athletes here to object to racist policies, military invasions, and various other crimes and stupidities.
The raised, gloved fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium at the 1968 Olympics provide the most dramatic and public example of athletes taking a public stand against oppression. For their courage, Smith and Carlos were demonized and hustled out of town by the U.S. Olympic Committee, though today they are celebrated, at least in some circles.
The editorial board of New Politics is very sad to report the death of Phyllis Jacobson, co-founder and long-time co-editor of the journal. Phyllis died on March 2, 2010, after suffering a devastating stroke close to ten years ago. We are deeply indebted to Phyllis and her late husband Julie for tirelessly holding high the banner of radical, democratic socialism and independent politics.
Julie and Phyllis Jacobson launched New Politics in the early 1960s, when they saw the absence of a voice for authentic left-socialist thought following the demise of the Independent Socialist current of the previous period. Ironically, although it was a time of reborn activism for civil rights, peace and what we now call “global justice,” the movement for a socialist politics fiercely independent of Washington, Moscow and Beijing had not organizationally survived to see it.
Phyllis Jacobson, who died after a protracted illness on March 2 -- just shy of her 88th birthday -- was the dynamic force behind a remarkable political and intellectual partnership of shared passion that left an indelible imprint on three generations of twentieth century American radicalism.
Those of us who knew Phyllis Jacobson and her husband Julie will realize that her death brings to a close a long and rich chapter in the history of the revolutionary and democratic socialist left in the US. She was the last of a small but heroic generation. Starting with the YPSL Fourth International, the youth section of the Socialist Party that split under Trotskyist leadership to set up the Socialist Workers Party in 1938 she and Julie ended up in the Workers Party (later the Independent Socialist League) when it was formed in 1940.
We would like to send our condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Phyllis Jacobson. As a founding editor of New Politics, Phyllis played a crucial role in advocating the core principles of "socialism from below," including opposition to Stalinism and support for independent working-class political action. Her commitment to internationalism and solidarity was genuine and heartfelt. Without any hesitation, she opened the pages of New Politics to us when we organized campaigns to defend socialists in Greece and South Korea who faced government persecution.
I met Phyllis and Julie in September of 1961. I had just graduated from the University of Chicago where I had joined the YPSL, and was passing through New York on my way to London. I met them at Julie’s machine shop in Great Jones Street in the East Village and they took me out for lunch at the corner diner on Lafayette and Great Jones. There they told me that the first issue of New Politics had just come out, and as the good and experienced organizers they were, they immediately enrolled me as their London distributor.
The image of Phyllis that remains most salient, and the one I most miss, would begin with a phone call. I would answer with a lugubrious “hello.” And from the other end, I would hear a buoyant “HIYA, STEVE, this is PHYLLIS.” A robust voice for such a diminutive person. And a twang that seemed more Texan than Bronx.
IT’S A STAPLE of American comedians to make fun of in-laws in general and mothers-in-law in particular. But, in my case and with no offense to Michael, I could have married my husband simply for his parents.
From the Tea Party to the Coffee Party, How Political Parties Grow the Grass and Mow the Lawn
[This article appeared in the old series of New Politics, Fall 1970.]
Sexual Politics by Kate Millet
Kate Millet's Sexual Politics has elicited awe, praise and sober criticism, but proof of its effectiveness is the appearance of a variety of articles and reviews marked by utterly unselfconscious vulgarity, philistinism and venomous hostility.
In 1960, as a graduate student in history, I decided to pick up some work as a census-taker on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. At the training session (at the Henry George School), the instructor said, "you're paid by the head, and [smirk], nobody's going to make any trouble if you find a couple of two-headed people." (At that time I was still a Good Boy, and didn't find any such.)
The Nation joins a great tradition (Alien and Sedition Acts, Palmer Raids, Smith Act) by invoking "sedition" against Teabaggers.
[This article appeared in New Politics no. 13, Summer 1992.]
The fire burning in South-Central Los Angeles illuminated the rage, anguish and despair of African-Americans consigned to bleak lives of poverty and hopelessness by the most "advanced" country in the world. But as history attests, once the rage subsides, the images, which should be unforgettable, are all too soon forgotten. The ghetto and those trapped inside it are once more invisible.
If you believe Glenn Beck, the Tea Party lunatics, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk, Frances Fox Piven is the Marxist Machiavelli whose 1966 article in The Nation (written with Richard Cloward) still serves as the blueprint for a radical takeover of American society, including Barack Obama's "socialist" administration.
[This article was published in New Politics No. 23, Summer 1997]
Review of HELLMAN AND HAMMETT, by Joan Mellen (HarperCollins, New York, 1996. 572pp. $30.00 HB, $13.00 PB)
[Editors' note: Howard Zinn, among his multitude of other contributions to the left, was a long-time sponsor of New Politics. We express our deepest sympathies to his family and post here an article by NP board member Steve Shalom that will be appearing in the spring issue of Democratic Left.]
The merger of the online journal Democratiya, with Dissent, provides an obvious point to begin assessing the role of Alan Johnson's creation. The following is not intended as the last word on this subject, but as a contribution to a process of analysis. The approach here will be to focus on the argumentation used in Democratiya, specifically in the one article written for the journal by Johnson.
I totally agree with Jesse Lemisch's astute comments about George Clooney's extravaganza and its conspicuous avoidance of anything that might be construed as "political." Of course, in the midst of a colossal disaster, this feel-good spectacle of entertainment icons is inherently political, rife with intended and unintended consequences. First of all, it is hard to separate celebrity magnanimity from self-promotion.
George Clooney (currently in "Up in the Air") organized on short notice a technically and musically fine two hour fund-raising telethon, "Hope for Haiti," which was broadcast on January 22 on most networks, many cable channels, on the Web, and both in and beyond the US. Here are two samplers of the music: one and two.
Robert Service. Trotsky: A Biography. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009. 600 pages, including end notes, bibliography, index. $35.00. Robert Service’s study is quite readable. The prose is clear, and the story interesting. It follows the basic outline sketched by Trotsky himself in his literary masterpiece My Life, supplemented by Isaac Deutscher’s brilliant trilogy – The Prophet Armed, The Prophet Unarmed, and The Prophet Outcast.
Dennis Brutus – celebrated poet, anti-apartheid fighter and lifelong socialist – died last week. As a student activist at the University of Pittsburgh in the mid-2000s, I was privileged to know Dennis in the short time before he departed for the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he spent his last years. Throughout the world and for a long time to come, Dennis’ outstanding contributions to peace and justice struggles will be recounted.
If you missed “The Old Man,” Christopher Hitchens’ review of Verso’s reissue of Isaac Deutscher’s trilogy about Leon Trotsky, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200407/hitchens do read it. The review describes Trotsky's accomplishments not generally known, for example, his activities as a brilliant war correspondent in the Balkans. But most important of all is the discussion of Trotsky’s polemics against the communist policy in pre-Hitler Germany. Trotsky warned that in communist policy the real enemy was not the Nazis but social democracy.
The Mexican Secretary of the Interior will meet with the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) and a group of mediators tonight (December 16) some months since President Felipe Calderón liquidated the state-owned Light and Power Company, seized the facilities, and fired of the 44,000 workers. The union, which has sought in the courts the return of all workers to their jobs, has more modest goals for these negotiations, according to general secretary Martín Esparza.
There’s a glimmer – a very faint glimmer – of hope arising from recent developments in Palestine. I’m referring to the statement by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) that he will not seek re-election as “president” of the Palestinian Authority (PA), in essence a statement of resignation. If Abu Mazen stands by his resignation, it will deliver a much-needed kick in the teeth to the Obama administration.
Planning a Columbus Day radio broadcast this year with Native American friends from across the hemisphere brought back a childhood memory. We were talking about that unfortunate human capacity to regard groups of strangers as "others," as qualitatively different, strange, threatening and of lesser worth, and about the town that succeeded in getting rid of its “illegal aliens” only to discover that its workforce, consumers and everything that sustained its economy had been eliminated.
The Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), made up of approximately 43,000 active and 22,000 retired workers in Mexico City and surrounding states, is fighting for its life. The union's struggle has rallied allies in the labor movement and on the left in Mexico and solidarity from throughout the country and around the world, but, if it is to survive, the union and its supporters have to take stronger actions than they have so far, and time is not on their side.
It seems doubly ironic that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has given its 2009 award to Barack Obama -- just a few months after Arizona State University declined to award him the customary, symbolic honorary degree as its commencement speaker. The ASU decision, on the grounds that president Obama “had not yet accomplished enough,” was fully understandable in view of the reputation which that esteemed University is committed to uphold. You don’t command a degree from ASU on academic credentials alone, or just from a decade of teaching at elite law schools.
It seems doubly ironic that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has given its 2009 award to Barack Obama -- just a few months after Arizona State University declined to award him the customary, symbolic honorary degree as its commencement speaker. The ASU decision, on the grounds that president Obama “had not yet accomplished enough,” was fully understandable in view of the reputation which that esteemed University is committed to uphold. You don’t command a degree from ASU on academic credentials alone, or just from a decade of teaching at elite law schools.
October 11, 2009 -- Mexican Federal Police last night and early this morning seized the plants of the Central Light and Power Company of Mexico (LyF) which provides electricity to Mexico City and several states in central Mexico. The government of President Felipe Calderón also announced the liquidation of the company, the termination of the workers, and thereby the elimination of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) which has opposed the government's policies.
The President and Congress are reviewing U.S. policy on the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is a critical moment. This may be a turning point for the expanding U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a time when speaking out clearly and unambiguously against war can make a crucial difference. We urge you to sign the Campaign for Peace and Democracy emergency statement calling for an end to military intervention in both countries. The statement declares us firmly against military escalation in the region and for the withdrawal of all U.S.
Mexican Government Prepares to Seize Mexico City Power Plants to Break Power of Electrical Workers Union
The Mexican Preventive Police (PFP) are preparing to occupy the facilities of the Central Light and Power Company in Mexico City in an attempt to break the militant Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), according to a union press release. The union warns that the quasi-military occupation of the plants could come within a week. The PFP have been used in the last three years to attempt to break strikes of miners and steelworkers as well as to try to crush popular social movements.
Law professor John Spencer, of Cambridge University, has created a huge controversy in the UK by suggesting a reduction in the current age of sexual consent of 16. His proposals, broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Iconoclasts programme, with my support as a co-advocate, have been savaged by The Sun and the Daily Mail.
Law professor John Spencer, of Cambridge University, has created a huge controversy in the UK by suggesting a reduction in the current age of sexual consent of 16. His proposals, broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Iconoclasts programme, with my support as a co-advocate, have been savaged by The Sun and the Daily Mail.
The extent to which a film, book, essay, meeting, or web posting will evoke the emotional immediacy of some contemporary disaster or the analysis of why and how it happened is an aesthetic issue and a political one as well. My analysis of the film tilts toward the latter, and not merely a result of my Victorian Marxist inclinations. Just recently, the University of California system has been visited by a round of disastrous cut backs and furloughs.
On the evening of September 7 (Labor Day) HBO broadcast "The Last Truck:Closing of a GM Plant [in Ohio]", a documentary by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar. The film interviews workers about their years at the plant, and counts down to the last day and the last truck, I found it powerful, both emotionally and aesthetically. Immediately afterwards. I wrote to H-Labor, the labor historians discussion list: “Shown this evening … on HBO. Let's hope it stays around in one form or another. Powerful, poignant, sad beyond belief, brilliantly done.
Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29 (2008), directed by Kevin Rafferty, a thrilling football movie showing Harvard’s astonishing come-from-behind “victory” – the title is the Harvard Crimson’s -- in the last 42 seconds of the 1968 Yale-Harvard game. Rafferty is a brilliant documentarian, known for his earlier Atomic Café. In some ways, Harvard Beats Yale is continuous with the themes of the earlier film. Harvard’s largely working-class (and mostly anti-Vietnam War) team is up against the aristocracy and arrogance of Yale and its fans..
Multiculturalism vs. human rights?
Defending multiculturalism but warning against its excesses
Multiculturalism has many positive benefits. It defends the right to the different, which is a very important and precious human right, especially for those people whose difference has historically resulted in social marginalization and exclusion: including women, black, disabled and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
Underneath any specific conclusions we come to on any subject, is a more fundamental framework consisting of our premises. Because premises are usually implicit in contrast to explicit conclusions, and because they often are shared by much of our surrounding culture, we tend to take them for granted. We may argue or discuss some specific government action, for instance, without even being aware that our agreement or disagreement is itself shaped by our underlying sense of human nature or what kind of society is possible or what difference we are able to make in the world.
While researching a book on The Great Recession (or whatever we wind up calling this economic downturn) I noticed that I couldn’t find any unemployed bankers who had actually handled the “toxic assets” that supposedly caused the crisis. I started to look for them systematically and eventually discovered that they were still employed. Furthermore, their activity of creating and trading collateralized debt obligations and the SWAPS that insured them was, in fact, booming.
Campaign for Peace and Democracy July 7, 2009 Right after the June 12 elections in Iran, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy issued a statement expressing our strong support for the masses of Iranians protesting electoral fraud and our horror at the ferocious response of the government.
For immediate release
NEW YORK, March 18, 2009