Ten years ago, members of UE Local 1110 made history by occupying their factory, Republic Windows and Doors. They captured the imagination of a nation reeling from financial collapse, won an endorsement of their cause from the president-elect, and forced one of the nation’s most powerful banks to come to the table and negotiate.
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
The following statement is from the Articulación de Movimientos Sociales, the coalition of social movements in Nicaragua.
Alert and Request for International Condemnation: Nicaraguan Government Raids the offices of the principal human rights, non-governmental and media organizations.
URGENT COMUNIQUE December 14, 2018. 2PM (CST) Alert and Request for International Condemnation: Nicaraguan Government Raids the offices of the principal human rights, non-governmental and media organizations.
Priscilla Murolo is a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College, where she formerly directed the graduate program in Women’s History. She also teaches in the Union Leadership and Activism Master’s Program at the University of Massachusetts. Beginning in the 1960s, she has been involved in the women’s movement, labor organizing and many community campaigns and organizations.
The French government has decided to suspend a planned eco-tax on fuel in response to mass protests. While the movement of the ‘yellow vests’ (gilets jaunes) has turned into a broader revolt against inequality and Macron’s neoliberal reforms, economist and climate activist Maxime Combes (Attac France) argues that as a way to tackle climate change, the tax is neither fair nor effective.
Analysis originally published on the daily internet journal of ideas AOC and translated by Taisie Tsikas.
During the past few weeks an ongoing wave of protests and strikes in Iran has gained a new intensity.
In advance of International Human Rights Day, Scott McLemee reviews Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory, by Wendy Brown, Peter E. Gordon and Max Pensky.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, 1948, which will make Monday its 70th anniversary. The date has been celebrated for decades as International Human Rights Day. This year a number of liberal, labor and/or leftist groups have put out a call for it to be marked as a Day of Action Against Fascism and Racism as well, with teach-ins and other events around the country. More details will presumably be made available on the relevant Facebook page, although as of this writing, it offers mainly a list of endorsers, including a number of academics.
Demonstrations on successive weekends in London last month shone a spotlight on major political rifts — in the major parties and in the political left.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador took the presidential oath on December 1 and then gave an hour and a half oration to the legislators as well as another lengthy speech to the people of Mexico City gathered in the zócalo, in which he reiterated his campaign promises to end corruption, to bring about economic prosperity, and to lead Mexico into a new historic fourth period of Mexican history, a period of "rebirth." The speech made clear that AMLO, as he is called by his initials in the press, is a reformer, but not a radical and certainly not a revolutionary as his opponents have claimed. His call for an end to neoliberalism and to corruption are accompanied by invitations to Mexican and foreign capitalists to invest and make a profit.
In an age of transnational corporations and global finance-driven speculation, socialist strategy is doomed if it focuses exclusively, or even primarily, on any individual nation state. Yet, at the same time, popular struggles for control over nation states are an essential part of a necessarily international strategy. This is my starting point in responding to Costas Lapavitsas (in the pages of Red Pepper) and his call for socialism to ‘start at home’.
Ignored by Emmanuel Macron, distorted by the media, courted by the Right, snubbed by the Left, the self-organized mass movement known as the Yellow Vests is seriously challenging the political and economic order in France.
Richard Smith argues for an emergency plan to meet the climate emergency and "do what the science demands before it's too late." This is an abridged version of a paper that will appear in the March 1, 2019 special issue of Real-World Economics Review.
[Nov. 23] – Thousands of Elves seized the Winter Palace and overthrew Santa Claus late last night, ending the Claus family dynasty whch has ruled the North Pole for hundreds of years. “We took advantage of the Thanksgiving reverie at the palace—everyone was drunk—and took control with almost no violence,” said one Elf who preferred not to use his name.
The end of World War I in November 1918 signaled the collapse of two bastions of feudalism: the Hohenzollerns in Germany and the Habsburgs in Austria-Hungary. Victory for the Entente therefore meant victory of the western bourgeoisie over the militarism of central Europe. In the words of Otto Bauer, the First World War was “the greatest and the bloodiest bourgeois revolution in the history of the world.”
Anjana Bhattacharya couldn’t sleep the night before our interview because of the pain gnawing at her knees. The pain had gotten worse over the previous week and it stemmed from the several years of having to stand 12 to 14 hours a day for work.
“They don’t allow you to sit down,” she said, referring to the store managers.
Reformers in the Teamsters have the wind at their backs. A rank-and-file slate swept to victory November 10 at Local 767 in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, the largest UPS local in the South.