The inauguration of Donald Trump as the president of the United States opens what we fear will be one of the darkest and most dangerous periods in American history since the founding of this journal in 1961.
Donald Trump takes office on January 20, setting up the most right-wing, racist government in modern American history, but he will not go unchallenged. That challenge is already in motion.
This year’s elections are the culmination of the long-standing economic and cultural grievances of America’s industrial workers, a subclass largely composed of white men from the Rust Belt whose factories have been asset-stripped and sent abroad and whose unions or small businesses, pensions, and prospects have been decimated. They are not the poorest of the poor—not even the poorest of the white poor. They are not from places where the economic conditions are the worst, but they are from places where uncertainty about the future of industrial jobs is most acute.
The Bolshevik Revolution
One hundred years ago the most democratic revolution in history took place. Led by the Bolshevik Party, the Russian working class, allied with the peasantry and organized into mass democratic institutions—the soviets—took power.
Russia, Revolution, and Counter-revolution
During the tumultuous years that followed the horrors of World War I, especially in the period of 1917 to the early 1920s, the Russian working class became an inspiration to workers around the world.
One hundred years ago, in exile in Zurich during the spring of 1916, Lenin started writing one of his most important and influential works, his pamphlet on imperialism. What is the relevance of this work today?
What explains the enthusiasm in certain quarters of the left for Vladimir Putin and Russia?
The Black Protest for Abortion Rights in Poland
In Poland the law on abortion is one of the most restrictive in the European Union, sex education does not exist, and contraception is both expensive and hard to obtain because a medical prescription is often needed.
Night had fallen on the Atlanta Stadium in the city of Buenos Aires on November 19, and as “The Internationale” began to blare from the loudspeakers, more than twenty thousand people at the Trotskyist Left Front rally stood up, their fists held high, to sing the international workers’ anthem with a single voice.
On December 4, 2016, the Italian electorate was asked to vote on a government-proposed constitutional reform, and the vote dealt the government and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s plans a ringing blow. The referendum was a political gambit on which the PM bet everything, yet 59.1 percent of voters rejected the reform. Barely an hour after the polls closed, Renzi announced his resignation.
[Editors’ note: The struggle at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was one of the major political mobilizations of 2016, combining the demand for Native rights with the call for environmental justice. New Politics asked Nancy Romer to cover these events for us. She was at Standing Rock from November 10-15.
Marking an anniversary of a book’s publication is, appropriately, reserved for books that were widely read when they first appeared many years ago. Books we commemorate with an anniversary are ones that ushered in a new way of thinking and influenced the way society tries to make sense of the world. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community did neither of these things.1
The Occupy movement and the Bernie Sanders campaign spotlighted once again the fact that a fairly small number of very rich people dominate the major economic and political institutions of the country.
A (Mostly) Friendly Reply to Michael J. Thompson
Periodization of the various versions of capitalism is tough academic work, and what follows is not meant to diminish the importance of those kinds of projects.
The pages that follow are taken from Seth Tobocman’s new graphic biography of the radical lawyer Leonard Weinglass, Len: A Lawyer in History (AK Press). This particular section is based on a transcript of a talk that Len Weinglass gave at the 2002 Left Forum on the relationship between Nixon-era encroachments on civil liberties and the Patriot Act.
When the Stalin-Hitler pact triggered World War II in 1939, and Soviet troops occupied half of Poland and then invaded Finland, the Socialist Workers Party in the United States was plunged into crisis.
For some time now, many of us have wondered how it is that a number of left-wing writers and some political organizations could support Vladimir Putin and the Russian government’s role in international affairs.
Greece and the Syriza Experience
In very different ways, Helena Sheehan’s The Syriza Wave: Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left and Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges by Jack Rasmus look back over the period of the Greek debt crisis, and the parallel rise and fall of Syriza, and try to take stock.
At the heart of Jeff Halper’s War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification is the question “How does Israel get away with it?” In other words, how is Israel able to continually occupy Palestinian territory in contravention of international law?
Blogs & On-Line Features
Tens of thousands, many of them scientists, joined the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22, in cities across the United States and around the world. There were some 400 marches in the US with crowds estimated at 20,000 in New York and Los Angeles, some 15,000 gathered on the Washington Mall, and 1,000 in Portland, Oregon. Other marches took place in hundreds of other cities around the world from London to Tokyo.
Tens of thousands of Americans in some 200 cities and towns from New York to San Francisco participated in “Tax Day” marches on Saturday, April 15 to demand that President Donald Trump release information about his tax payments. Some protestors marched at the White House and others at the Trump mansion at Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
Largely organized through Democratic Party groups like Indivisible, the Tax Day demonstrations were peaceful but spirited affairs. Protestors around the country chanted slogans such as “No more secrets, no more lies.” Many carried signs and banners reading “What are you hiding?” and “Show your taxes!” One sign read “King George didn’t listen to us either,” a reference to the taxation issues of the 1760s that led to the American Revolution of 1776.
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) condemns in no uncertain terms the bombing of Sharyat airbase in Syria six days ago by Donald Trump’s administration. As veterans of the unending and expanding wars conducted over the last 16 years, we know intimately that U.S. military intervention exacerbates and further militarizes conflicts overseas and that the people who pay the greatest price are the everyday people of occupied nations. We also know that this is not the first time our military has been used in the Syrian conflict. U.S. bombs have been dropped on Syria under both the Trump and Obama administrations, resulting in more than a thousand civilian deaths.
And the Assad Regime's War Crimes
Within a few days in April, the Trump administration pivoted away from its nearly open support for the Assad regime to a military attack on it. This was followed by harsh language against Russia, the setting off of a huge bomb in Afghanistan, and the dispatch of an aircraft carrier armed with nuclear weapons toward North Korea.
During the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) spring break, Sarah Chambers, beloved to her special needs students, well-known (to staff and parents of her school), notorious (to CPS labor relations officials), received a letter saying she was suspended and had to stay away from the school. Though Sarah was an early member of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) that is now the CTU’s elected leadership, she remained a teacher of special needs kids who represents her school in the House of Delegates and serves on the union’s Executive Board.
Alex Kolokotronis is a 1st year PhD student in Political Science at Yale. He self-identifies as a libertarian socialist and is interested in studying anarchist movements, post-state forms of governance and public power, and associationist self-managed socialism. He is the co-founder of Student Organization for Democratic Alternatives (SODA), a group dedicated to implementing participatory budgeting and participatory democracy at the university level. Participatory budgeting is a directly democratic process by which ordinary people get to deliberate and decide how to allocate a designated budget. He previously worked in Worker Cooperative Development with Make the Road New York and the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives.
No to Assad’s Brutality, No to Isis, No to U.S. and Russian Bombing and Military Forces in Syria, For a Revival of the Arab Spring
We are horrified by the relentless, cruel attacks of the Assad regime, aided by Moscow and Tehran, on the Syrian people. For sheer brutality the butchers in Damascus have few equals in the world today. But we also wholeheartedly condemn U.S. bombing and military forces in Syria, which will kill innocent people and contribute nothing towards a just solution to the Syrian conflict, while at the same time serving to deepen the reactionary U.S. military presence in the Middle East and reinforce Assad’s rhetorical claim that he is defending the Syrian people against Western imperialism, hollow though that claim may be.
George Souvlis: By way of introduction, could you explain what personal experiences strongly influenced you, both politically and academically?
Johanna Brenner: I grew up in a staunchly liberal family and remained politically liberal until I joined the movement against the Vietnam war, where I was introduced to anti-imperialist politics and then Marxism and “third-camp” socialism. In the late 60’s I was part of the student left that turned toward organizing the working-class. I was a student at UCLA. We organized student support for a teamster wildcat strike and we had a group called the Student Worker Action Committee that published a newspaper, Picket Line, where we covered different worker and community struggles in Los Angeles. I was rather slow to embrace feminism, but in the 1970’s I got involved with a socialist-feminist group called CARASA (Coalition for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse) which began in New York City. Some friends and comrades formed a Los Angeles branch of CARASA and we were able to connect to radical women of color doing community organizing around sterilization abuse in LA. From that point on, I have been deeply immersed in Marxist-feminist theory and politics.
In his article calling on socialists to run in Democratic primaries, Daniel Moraff argues that some of the barriers to running candidates in Democratic primaries, such as money and incumbency, also apply to third parties. So they do. He points to the fact that socialist and community organizer Debbie Medina got 40.56% of the vote in the 2016 NY State Senate race in Brooklyn’s 18th District as opposed to 13% for a Green candidate for mayor in Baltimore. So, it’s easier to run as a Democrat.
Book Review - John Riddell (editor and translator), To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921 (Brill/Haymarket, 2016), £39.99.
To the Masses is the last volume of a hugely ambitious project to make the proceedings of the (four) congresses of the Communist International held during Lenin’s time available in English. It’s an extraordinary achievement for John Riddell, a Canadian revolutionary socialist historian and activist.
Recently, the economics editor of the Guardian newspaper in the UK, Larry Elliott, presented us with a comparison of the Great Depression of the 1930s and now. In effect, Elliott argued that the world economy was now in a similar depression as then. The 1930s depression started with a stock market crash in 1929, followed by a global banking crash and then a huge slump in output, employment and investment. In that order. The number of bank failures rose from an annual average of about 600 during the 1920s, to 1,350 in 1930 and then peaked in 1933 when 4,000 banks were suspended. Over the entire period 1930-33, one-third of all US banks failed. But it was the stock market crash that was first.
The situation at the University of Puerto Rico is framed within a context of a 10-year economic depression and unsustainable debt crisis, which was meant to be remedied by the 2016 Puerto Rico Oversight Management Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), signed by President Obama, and its federal Fiscal Control Board (Junta de Control Fiscal, the word Junta in Spanish is politically charged). Similar to what was presented at the conference this weekend regarding Greece, South Africa and Mexico, the public university became, throughout the second half of the twentieth century, a vehicle by which many people have escaped poverty.
Recently a group called the “Hands Off Syria Coalition” disrupted a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth in Grand Central Station that was done to honor the White Helmets group. The White Helmets, of course, are Syria rescue workers of whom 140 have lost their lives while digging out victims of Syrian government and Russian bombs.