After protests and occupations temporarily shut down ICE offices, Donald Trump suffered a significant political defeat when he was forced to reverse himself on separating immigrant children from their parents after they were arrested at the border. By and large, people were horrified at the separation of kids from their families and at the creation of what were basically prison camps for children. Polls showed that only about a quarter of the U.S. population supported Trump on this child-hostage policy, though about half of Republicans did.
Like the Arab Spring, the U.S. “Education Spring” was an explosive wave of protests. Statewide teacher walkouts seemed to arise out of nowhere, organized through Facebook groups, with demands for increased school funding and political voice for teachers. Though the walkouts confounded national media outlets, which had little idea how to explain or report on the movements, for parent and teacher activists who have been organizing against reforms in public education over the past four decades, the protests were understandable, if unexpected. What was surprising was their breadth of support (statewide), their organizing strategy (Facebook), and their breathtakingly rapid spread.
Reasons for Cautious Optimism from the Landless Workers Movement
In May 2017, Left politics in Brazil were pretty bleak. It was almost a year after the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the Brazilian Workers Party (PT), whose ousting from power brought along with it an onslaught of austerity policies.2
It is the sixtieth anniversary of Raya Dunayevskaya’s Marxism and Freedom, a work both of its time and ahead of its time.
If one thing was clear coming out of the New York City Democratic Socialists of America’s May 5 convention, it was that most delegates uniformly consider themselves socialists and aspire to build an anti-corporate resistance movement nationwide. So far, so good.
An Interview with Lawrence Brown on Community Trauma and Healing
Lawrence Brown associate professor of public health in the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University. He is the grandson of sharecroppers who lived in the Mississippi Delta and a native of West Memphis, Arkansas. He is a historian, critical geographer, and political economist who sees public health from a critical, interdisciplinary perspective and advocates for holistic approaches to healing the Black communities of Baltimore. His book The Black Butterfly: Why We Must Make Black Neighborhoods Matter (Johns Hopkins Press) is forthcoming.
A Clash of Classes and a Brewing Perfect Storm
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration. - Abraham Lincoln
The Federal Reserve Board, the bankers’ bank, has put out figures and reports showing that even before the Trump regime, the rich were acquiring a larger share of the nation’s total income and wealth. The September 2017 Federal Reserve Bulletin reports that “the distribution of income and wealth has grown increasingly unequal in recent years.”1 Other government reports show that many continue to live in poverty and lack shelter and an adequate amount of food.
Sitting alone in my room watching videos on YouTube, hearing sounds from across the hall of my roommate watching Netflix, the obvious point occurs to me that a key element of the demonic genius of late capitalism is enforcing a crushing passiveness on the populace.
At time of writing, we are still in the dissipating wake of another mass shooting in the United States, this time in a Parkland, Florida, high school. The American people are once again reminded of the ubiquitous threat of violence that characterizes their everyday lives. We are once again confronted with the nauseating reality of a two-party system that defends this violence in word and deed—while providing rhetorical paeans to security, freedom, and safety.
A CNN report last November about slave auctions in present-day Libya shocked the world.1 The existence of these slave auctions was widely treated as a new development in the country and a result of the chaos that resulted from the NATO-supported overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In truth, however, what CNN discovered is but a surviving remnant of Gaddafi’s regime—the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya—a police state with systematic racism and abuse both of Libyans of sub-Saharan African descent and of sub-Saharan African migrants.
This season’s roundup of nonfiction comics includes self-published and small-press titles as well as noteworthy releases from major trade publishers. Topics covered range from consumer capitalism and imprisoned anarchists to Trinidadian social history and the war in Syria. Each of these titles deploys a distinctive approach to the challenge of folding political themes into visual narrative. In different ways, these books suggest that the forward march of political cartooning continues unabated.
This memoir of sorts by Fordham University sociology professor Heather Gautney, who became a policy fellow in Bernie Sanders’ Washington DC office and a volunteer researcher and organizer for his unexpectedly popular 2016 presidential campaign, has a very specific focus: to “offer insights from up-close work with Bernie, mixed in with historical and sociological analysis, to perform an autopsy of the 2016 election” (2). Given the sheer number of insightless (to put it mildly) autopsies that have been proffered across the political spectrum—perhaps none more useless than Hillary Clinton’s own What Happened (Simon & Schuster, 2017)—Gautney’s book is more than welcome and even slightly overdue.
Why the United States has not developed a permanent socialist movement has perplexed activists and theorists for more than a century. Paul Le Blanc takes up that query as an activist who wants to see an anti-capitalism mass movement take shape in twenty-first century America. To that end, he investigates some of the moments when the possibility of a significant left presence in the United States seemed at hand. He focuses on what made those movements viable and what thwarted their long-term success. The volume’s fourteen essays were written over a period of thirty years, from 1986 to 2015.
Steve Fraser is a weathered veteran of the New Left and many subsequent movements, author of shrewd books on the acquisitive ruling class and also of the outstanding biography of famed left-leaning labor giant Sidney Hillman, among other works. Here he once again ranges far, but also comes close to home, his own personal home space.
More than a hundred years ago, the muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair worked undercover for several weeks in the cattle slaughterhouses of Chicago. The result was his melodramatic but revelatory novel The Jungle, a work Jack London called the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery.” Sinclair’s narrative depicted the brutal working conditions endured by East European immigrants on the killing floor, engaging in back-breaking, dangerous, and tedious labor for subsistence wages.
— Reprinted from New Politics, vol. II, no. 2 (new series), #6, Winter 1989 —
By Martin Oppenheimer
“The Year of Dangerous Living” was written for the twentieth anniversary of 1968. The “’68ers” were still young in 1988, in the prime of their lives, and memories were fresh. There was an explosion of protests against campus racism, gay-bashing, and increasing corporatization of universities (including union-busting). These baby-boomers, then hitting the big 4-0, were nostalgic. There was a sense that despite a Republican president, the moment was ripe for new efforts that required a serious appraisal of past campaigns.
— Reprinted from New Politics, vol. VI, no. 3, #23, Summer 1967 (printed June 1968)
At 4 am on April 30 , my wife and I stood with tears streaming down our faces on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 117th Street, watching the last of the Fayerweather Hall sit-ins being tossed into waiting police vans. We were not the only ones crying, nor were the tears merely those of pity or self-pity. There was also anger, frustration, and actual joy. The incredible—and inevitable—had happened; the “Big Bust” had come. Seven hundred and twenty student and faculty protesters were under arrest; more than 130 had been beaten up, some quite badly. The last illusions about what was happening were shed.
Blogs & On-Line Features
Seymour Hersh. Reporter: A Memoir. Knopf, 2018. 368 pp.
Writing in 1940, George Orwell opined in a review of a Bertrand Russell book that “we have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” Much the same can be said about the more than fifty-year career of journalist Seymour Hersh, whose pioneering exposés of the lies of the Great Powers report and affirm facts that follow Orwell’s dictum.
Jamie Stern-Weiner, ed. Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine's Tought Questions. OR Books, 2018. 518 pp.
The fact that, after fifty years of Palestinian support efforts, the Israeli occupation is more entrenched than ever should inspire some intellectual humility among those hawking solutions to the conflict, notes Jamie Stern-Weiner in the introduction to his edited collection Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine’s Toughest Questions. It is humbling as well to read through the volume, with more than seventy essays and rejoinders by more than fifty different authors, from almost every one of which something new can be learned.
Seventy-two years after his initial Broadway success with All My Sons and 14 years after his death, Arthur Miller continues to cast a long shadow over theater in the United States. His plays are staples of high school drama clubs, college and university theater departments and regional theaters around the country, and his best-known works – Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, All My Sons, A View From the Bridge and After the Fall – have been revived many times on Broadway.
I write this largely for my comrades in the Democratic Socialists of America but also for all who are interested in building a more democratic, egalitarian, and just society. I argue here for voting for Howie Hawkins for governor, the only progressive candidate for that office on the ballot in New York State, and the only open socialist.
I am convinced that any future mass working class or socialist party in the United States will arise largely out of developments in the Democratic Party.
Nicaraguan Government Attacks and Arrests Opposition Leaders; Nicaraguans in U.S. Demand Their Release; Call for General Strike
The following statement was issued by Nicaraguans living in the United States.
On the morning of October 14, 2018, Nicaraguan citizens in use of their constitution rights gathered to march peacefully and protest the Ortega regime and to demand the release of all political prisoners. Protestors were met with violent repression and an assault by the police.
The essay below was originally delivered as an oral presentation on the panel “Solidarity in the 21st Century” as part of a conference on The Future of the Left in Latin America held on October 5-6 at the New School in New York City. The conference was sponsored by Dissent, The New School, NACLA, and the Open Society Foundation.
Stanley Heller, The Uprising We Need. Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2017. 332pp. $5.99 on Kindle.
Apart from the many valuable insights contained inside The Uprising We Need, Stanley Heller’s collection of articles published over the period between 2003 and 2017, the book is a fascinating look back through that fourteen-year span in which so much has happened. There is a tendency in our isolated, consumer-disciplined culture to focus on the shiniest thing out there right now with little reference for how that particular thing got there in the first place.
In South Africa ten members of a militant shack dwellers organisation have been assassinated in the past six years. Yet many progressive organisations have distanced themselves from these militants. Jared Sacks exposes the complicity of a mainstream NGO that could have played an important role defending the movement against these political assassinations. Sacks argues that when movements refuse co-optation, repression, including assassination, become necessary to maintain power.
A World to Win: The Life and Works of Karl Marx
AMID AN OUTPOURING of discussion and new works marking the bicentennial of Karl Marx, Sven-Eric Liedman’s imposing A World to Win: The Life and Works of Karl Marx is a mixed offering. The “life” part is a success; the “works” portion is not.
Following his new sanctions instituted against Iran, the dismissal by Donald Trump of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal is the continuation of the capitalist logic of militarization of the Middle East that was escalated by the last Bush administration and which has brought genocide and disastrous humanitarian crises to the region.
CANCEL KAVANAUGH. WALK OUT AGAINST PATRIARCHY.
I was born a Jew, had a bris and Bar Mitzvah and attended Hebrew school afternoons and Sundays from the age of 7 to 13. I went to schul with my grandfather on holidays and in 1967 I volunteered to defend Israel in the Six-Day War. But I never got to go to Israel then and since the early 1970s, I have refused to visit because of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels referred to the state as “the executive committee of the ruling class.” Reflecting the collective capitalist interest in maintaining its accumulation process, capable of forging compromises among competing sectors of its own and other classes, this committee was also meant to enforce legal norms, contracts, and other rules of the game.
East Bay DSA Blows The Whistle On Corporate Dem Donor Class
Wealthy Bay Area investor David Crane is a leading promoter of the neoliberal agenda within the California Democratic Party. A former advisor to Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Crane is a widely-published critic of state and local tax initiatives, publicly-funded health care, public education, public employees and their pensions. He raises lots of money for “courageous” candidates willing to put “citizen interests” ahead of such “special interest” causes.