The monsters the left creates
August 2, 2013

In addition to the light they shine on the burgeoning police state created by the Bush and Obama administrations, the Snowden disclosures have been useful in making visible the line separating partisan defenders of the administration and those who actually care about the damage it is inflicting on the planet and its inhabitants.

Among the worst of the former group has been MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry whose bizarre plea to Edward Snowden to come home and face the music — meaning, a likely life sentence and the possibility of pre-trial detention under conditions “tantamount to torture” — provoked much derision including two excellent pieces from Gary Leupp at Counterpunch.

Harris-Perry’s fervent denunciations of Snowden and Glenn Greenwald might be understood as routine apologetics required of party apparatchiks.  But while the substance of Harris-Perry’s line is identical to that of Democratic Party operatives such as Karen Finney, Joy Ann Reid, and Lawrence O’Donnell, Harris-Perry’s background is as an academic, having served as a Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton and currently at Tulane.

Her rise to media prominence began as a commentator primarily on racial politics at authentically “left” media outlets such as FAIRLaura Flanders GritTV, and Democracy NOW. These led to her having been granted a regular column in The Nation, by which point she had established herself as sufficiently “hot property” for consideration at MSNBC.

One might think that Harris-Perry’s rise has been accompanied by a softening or even a repudiation of what was once a genuine left perspective as was the case for legendary apostates such as Christopher Hitchens. But whatever can be said of Harris-Perry, the charge of opportunism doesn’t really hold water. For, as can be seen by reviewing the early appearances linked to above, Harris-Perry’s essential positions have changed very little.  That is to say she has from the beginning promoted a fundamentally neoliberal politics of equality of opportunity (as opposed to results) whose success is to be primarily evaluated by the achievement of diversity among ruling political and economic elites and within elite institutions.

While giving pro forma nods to this or that aspect of the left agenda on the welfare state, the environment, and foreign intervention, her main focus and professional interest has always been race within a neoliberal framework defined by the Democratic Party implemented with consummate cynicism  by the current administration. As such, matters such as, for example, the largest drop in African American wealth in history under an African-American president, grotesque rates of home foreclosures among African-American families are have elicited relatively little comment from her except as yet another policy failure to be laid at the feet of the Republicans.

A definitive indication of her commitment to neoliberal orthodoxy was provided by a column from last year in which she denounced the Chicago teachers strike for “harming children”.  In another, she scurrilously compares the deal-making and sell-outs of core constituencies of the Obama administration to that of Martin Luther King, Jr., portraying both as technocratic liberals “groping towards better and fairer solutions”.

The outrage which greeted her latest remarks will strike some as a bit odd: Why is the left only now taking notice of these deplorable positions when Harris-Perry has made no secret of her allegiances from the beginning?

In any case, there is by now little the left can do about it. Harris-Perry is firmly established within the mainstream, her voice taken as representative of the liberal — even radical — left, even when she promotes what are by any reasonable standard objectively reactionary policies.  In short, she has become a kind of monstrosity that the left itself played a significant role in creating.

Harris-Perry’s ascendancy to mainstream prominence making use of footholds provided by the left is not uncommon and for this reason, while Perry herself is of no particular interest, the particulars of her trajectory are worthy of discussion.

The same applies to another increasingly prominent advocate of neoliberal multiculturalism, “anti-racist educator” Tim Wise who I wrote about here.  Wise’s brand of high dudgeon activism is mainly conspicuous for its intellectual vacuity and juvenile pettiness.  What is worth noting is his rise to prominence which was achieved by accessing almost the same media infrastructure as Harris-Perry.  Beginning with an initial platform at ZMag, then moving onto the same three left organs used as stepping stones by Harris-Perry, Wise is now a frequent guest on MSNBC and has now broken through to the establishment center with recent appearances on CNN.  While Wise is more likely than Harris-Perry to at least give lip service to core aspects of the left agenda, his major focus from the beginning was on ferretting out all and any aspects of racialized bias and insensitivity, including on the left itself. In so doing, as I pointed out, he provided the right with a cudgel by which movements addressing systemic economic injustice could be attacked on the alleged grounds of “white privilege”.

Now, like Harris-Perry, Wise has evidently gone too far for some by his having accepted an invitation to appear under the auspices of the increasingly notorious Teach for America.

Finally, it is worth noting here that among perhaps the most prominent critics of my piece was Jim Naureckas who objected to my having made note of Wise’s frequent recourse to violent rhetoric — something which anyone with access to Wise’s essays, blog, and twitter feed can readily confirm.

Naureckas, for those who don’t know, has been since 1990 the editor of Extra!, FAIR’s bimonthly journal of media criticism.  He is thereby in part responsible for the platform that Harris-Perry and Wise now use for attacking the left.  Rather than attacking the messenger, Naureckas and others in the agenda-setting left media should recognize the role that they have played in creating media personalities who, in advancing themselves, have done significant damage to the left and its ability to communicate its message. And they should take steps to insure that it doesn’t happen again.

Source

I’m glad Melissa Harris Perry is on TV. I enjoy watching her weekly. But she’s a liberal, and her liberal ideology shows itself again & again to be extremely problematic. Liberalism is extremely problematic. Identifying as a liberal is extremely problematic.

It doesn’t go far enough. It isn’t attacking issues at their root. It doesn’t acknowledge problems with the security state. It does not begin to address the systemic nature of our problems. The intellectually vapid ideology of liberalism simply acknowledges some symptoms of systemic injustice, and when put side-by-side with fascist Republicans, looks very kind by comparison. That’s it. Liberalism still favors privatization, the military-industrial-complex, globalization, the capitalist status quo and the security state.  

A Facebook friend of mine who posted this article added this important analysis:

“Claiming that MHP is an opportunist makes it seem as if her wrongheaded political analysis the product of personal or moral failing and it keeps people from seeing the bankruptcy of liberalism in general.

The article claims that Tim Wise “provided the right with a cudgel by which movements addressing systemic economic injustice could be attacked on the alleged grounds of ‘white privilege.’” The bankruptcy of Tim Wise’s political analysis has been made clear with his liberal dismissal of NSA concerns and his dealings with TFA. There’s no doubt about that. However, the fact that conservatives can pick up terms and phrases and warp legitimate concerns about racism isn’t a good reason for folks to not talk about racism on the left because it is indeed there.”

The Dallas Commune is trying to raise money & awareness for their intentional community. A GoFundMe account has been created to support the community which serves as a politically-conscious, multi-racial, queer-friendly space in the Dallas area. 

For sustainable movement building, healing, nurturing, intentional, conscious spaces are necessary. Support the community here

Saturday, July 13th, the Wayside Center for Popular Education (1100 Mill Pond Road, Faber, Virginia 22938) is hosting the Wayside Commons, a yearly celebration and organizing opportunity for activists and organizers  for social justice throughout the region. 

There will be food, workshops, socializing, networking, and other activities. Childcare and interpretation will be offered. 

RSVP through the title link. 

If you are interested in carpooling from Richmond to Faber for this event, please contact Active-RVA either here, on our Facebook page, or at activerva@gmail.com. 

Submitted by: http://active-rva.tumblr.com/

Letter to ‘The Nation’ from a young radical
May 25, 2013 

When I was growing up, the dinner table in my household was full of extremes. My immigrant parents encouraged intemperate arguments. Depth of knowledge was no barrier to entry, and only one rule applied: don’t be boring. It was an easy environment in which to loudly proclaim oneself a socialist. 

Things were different at the dinner tables of my childhood friends. Maybe it was because the conversations were kept to reasonable volumes or more cutlery was used, but I found myself wishing for different convictions. The chatter would inevitably turn to politics in conventional terms: Kerry or Bush, liberal or conservative, pre-emptive bombing or targeted sanctions? There was no “none of the above” on the menu. When pressed, I would meekly call myself a socialist, all the while regretting that I couldn’t just utter the word “liberal” instead. 

“Like Sweden?” I would be asked. “No, like the Russian Revolution before its degeneration into Stalinism.” It’s a wonder I was ever invited back. But liberalism—including in the pages of The Nation, save for a few redeeming essays and columns—seemed, even at its best moments, well-intentioned but inadequate. It’s a feeling that I haven’t been able to shake. 

Maybe I wasn’t alone in looking for alternatives. A Pew Research poll from 2011 shows that more Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have a favorable opinion of socialism than of capitalism. We don’t know exactly what they mean by “socialism,” but it certainly reflects a discontent with what’s on offer in the political mainstream. 

And yet, the decay of liberal reform traditions has been nothing to celebrate. Real wages have stagnated, indebtedness is on the rise, and the deregulatory “free market” revolution has not only fostered massive new disparities in wealth and power but a historic recession. If liberalism once had teeth, that memory has faded. Many in my generation who found voice in the Occupy protests had no knowledge of the way that strong liberal administrations, backed up by vigorous social movements, forced concessions from capital throughout the last century. 

To radicals, the sad state of liberalism comes as no surprise. It represents merely the re-emergence of flaws embedded deeply in its roots, making so much of the social policy that The Nation supports difficult to revive. American liberalism is practically ineffective and analytically inadequate—and a jolt from its left is a prerequisite for its resurgence. 

Liberalism’s original sin lies in its lack of a dynamic theory of power. Much of its discourse is still fixated on an eighteenth-century Enlightenment fantasy of the “Republic of Letters,” which paints politics as a salon discussion between polite people with competing ideas. The best program, when well argued by the wise and well-intentioned, is assumed to prevail in the end. Political action is disconnected, in this worldview, from the bloody entanglement of interests and passions that mark our lived existence. 

Barack Obama’s inclination to sit the health insurance companies down at the table rather than confront them head-on is a useful example of this def iciency at work. You didn’t have to be a Marxist to realize this was a doomed strategy; plenty within the liberal ranks knew it at the time. Liberalism has evolved and incorporated views of politics that were traditionally associated with the socialist movement. But this development happened only under the influence of the left, and now the dominant currents in the liberal movement, especially in the Democratic Party, are forgetting lessons learned from radicals in the past. 

* * *

Some clarifying is in order. “Liberalism” has always been a slippery term, but to the extent that we can assign coherence to the ideology, two main camps of modern American liberalism are identifiable: welfare liberals and technocratic liberals. The former, without the radicals they so often attacked marching at their left, have not adequately moored their efforts to the working class, while the latter naïvely disconnect policy from politics, often with frightening results. 

Welfare liberals remain committed to the New Deal paradigm: equality of opportunity, collective-bargaining rights, an expanded social safety net. They call for higher marginal tax rates, want to restore union density, oppose austerity measures and support the struggles of public sector workers. More inclusive and progressive than their predecessors on social issues, they nevertheless form a continuum with the past. Elements in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, dominant tendencies within labor and much of The Nation’s output are true to this tradition.

For all their admirable qualities, welfare liberals not only fail to account for the welfare state’s crisis in the 1970s; they have struggled to imagine what political forces could return it to its previous dominance. Without strong trade unions and a visible center-left reform movement—linchpins of the New Deal coalition—austerity has been hard to resist as a solution to the current economic crisis. These measures, in turn, have further undermined the social basis for progressive politics in America. 

Unlike its center-left counterparts elsewhere in the developed world, the American reform tradition has battled to enact policy without the benefit of a labor party. Absent such a party and faced with intense corporate resistance, the bulk of the American left has been tied to the Democratic Party, a social liberal, not a social democratic, formation. Workers and trade unions were brought into the big tent, but they were never structurally connected to or put in the vanguard of reform efforts. This lack of agency and of a solid institutional foundation for combating the excesses of capitalism eventually undermined liberal programs to build a more expansive welfare state. 

The practical consequences of this failure are evident. In their 1987 study The American Perception of Class, Reeve Vanneman and Lynn Cannon showed that self-identified working-class voters in the United States, lacking a party like Britain’s Labour, often do not vote. The growth of highly organized, mass-membership political parties was a development of Europe’s late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century labor movements, starting in Germany. That the Democratic Party retains a looser political structure than its counterparts elsewhere finds reflection in its relatively inchoate, and at times contradictory, politics, and the lack of meaningful political action it inspires. 

It is, after all, only a party in the broadest sense of the word. Open to all, the Democratic Party has no ideological requirements for membership. Anyone can register, making it little more than a coalition of social forces in which various groups contest for influence under a common banner. The American left, without a natural base and condemned to support the Democratic “lesser evil,” has traditionally conceded legitimacy to forces governing in the center. 

* * *

It’s no surprise that publications like The Nation, no matter how earnest in their opposition to the worst excesses of the Clinton or Obama administrations, have been prone to paint too many segments of the diverse Democratic Party as good-faith partners with progressives. Case in point: during last year’s labor dispute, in her “Sister Citizen” column [October 8], Melissa Harris-Perry equivocated between the insurgent Chicago Teachers Union and Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Instead of closing ranks and protecting a vulnerable union during an important fight, she pitied the children stuck “between the leaders and teachers who are supposed to have their best interests at heart but who seem willing to allow this generation to be lost.” There was no deeper analysis of the stakes of the dispute or acknowledgment that the demands of the teachers—geared almost entirely toward student needs—enjoyed high levels of community support. Political conflict itself was painted as regrettable, and perhaps because Emanuel was a prominent Democratic leader, as a kind of fratricide.

But even The Nation’s bravest material has, like welfare liberalism as a whole, struggled to articulate a clear critique of the structures and social forces that have rolled back many of the social gains of the past century. Hence the room for some contributors to make battles over neoliberal education reform seem like the result of mutual intransigence and the clash of personalities rather than a broader class struggle. 

The other half of the liberal scene, technocratic liberals, best embodied by Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, seem at first glance to have responded to the global social democratic impasse in more sophisticated ways than their peers. In a January piece, “After ‘the end of big government liberalism,’ ” Klein claimed that “the progressive project of building a decent welfare state is giving way to the more technocratic work of financing and managing it. How government is run, more than what exactly it does, seems set to be the main battleground of American politics in coming years.” 

Unlike the welfare liberals with whom they share the same political party, technocratic liberals are less nostalgic for the postwar Fordist compromise between a strong labor movement and growing corporations. They are more apt to advocate reduced government spending and the introduction of markets into previously decommodified spaces—public schools, for instance. It’s a self-consciously “realist” approach to a new historical moment.  

For technocratic liberals, sound policy has become an end in itself. But big policy changes require mobilized political actors. By acquiescing in the conservative consensus on welfare entitlements (largely transformed into “workfare” by President Clinton in 1996) and attacks on teachers disguised as education “reform” (pushed by mainstream Democrats at the local level across the country), the technocrats launch broadsides at the very people who got them elected, eroding the base from which they can enact policy. Even sharply progressive calls, like a recent one from The New York Times in favor of strengthening collective-bargaining rights, are more often than not presented as a wonkish policy program for economic stimulus, to be turned on and off at will, rather than a vehicle for working-class power and long-term progressive advance. 

Socialists would not make this mistake. And neither would conservatives, for that matter. Though there are fierce battles in their party, House Republicans bind themselves to an ideological code, enforcing a set of standards that ironically resemble that of European socialist parties: dues are paid, commitments made explicit and members occasionally expelled. Declarations like Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” unite conservatives in Congress, while a network of think tanks, political action committees, grassroots activists and organizations at the state level keep them setting the national discourse, even as the demographics continue to skew in the Democratic Party’s favor. 

The basic liberal program—a responsive government and the preservation of key social protections—is far more popular than, say, weakening child labor laws or forcing pregnant women to get transvaginal ultrasounds. But the conservative program is not only “on the agenda,” it is often enacted, and for good reason: the right is generally more confident, more ideologically consistent and better organized than those who oppose it. 

* * *

Somewhat ironically, given the history of violence and repression inflicted on the left throughout its history, the solution to liberalism’s impasse lies in the re-emergence of American radicalism. The prospects are more promising than they may seem at first glance. The present context on the socialist left is one of institutional disarray but critical vibrancy, not unlike the moment that fueled leftist milieus in the early 1960s, when journals like Studies on the Left anticipated the upsurges that were soon to come, but groups like the Socialist Party of America were in terminal decline. Current literary journals like n+1 have taken a turn toward the political through engagement with Occupy Wall Street, while radical thinkers like Vivek Chibber, Doug Henwood and Kathi Weeks are finding broad new audiences for their work. A younger cohort is emerging as well. This generation of Marxist intellectuals is resurrecting debates about the reduction of working time, exploring the significance of new forms of labor, and arguing about the ways a democratic society would harness technological advance to universal material benefit, while avoiding ecological ruin. 

It’s a big mission, but in covering these themes, Jacobin, the magazine I founded in 2010, has garnered a measure of mainstream attention and success that would have been inconceivable even a few years ago. Still, the actual political situation in the country hasn’t caught up to the hype. Ideas don’t mean much without avenues for action. 

Which is to say that the left needs a plan—a plan that must incorporate more moderate allies. American radicalism has had a complex and at times contradictory association with liberalism. At the peak of the socialist movement, leftists fed off liberal victories. Radicals, in turn, have added coherence and punch to every key liberal struggle and advance of the past century. Such a mutually beneficial alliance could be in the works again. The first step is to smash the existing liberal coalition and rebuild it on a radically different basis.

Socialists must urgently show progressives how alien the technocratic liberal worldview is to the goals of welfare-state liberalism—goals held by the rank and file of the liberal movement. The ground can be softened at the intellectual and cultural levels, but a schism will have to be forced through actual struggle. Broad anti-austerity coalitions, particularly those centered at the state and municipal levels like last year’s Chicago Teachers Union strike, point the way toward new coalitions between leftists and liberals committed to defending social goods, especially if that means standing up against pro-corporate members of the Democratic Party like Rahm Emanuel. 

A last bastion of progressive strength, public sector labor unions, will be crucial in these battles, but they will have to adopt new tactics. The teachers union’s commitment to community-wide agitation and social-movement building—a commitment that kept it in the public’s favor—is a model to emulate. And groups like the AFL-CIO’s Working America, which is currently not serving an especially radical purpose, could potentially give labor a tool to circumvent restrictive labor laws and build alliances with unorganized sectors of the population. 

These national campaigns will have local roots. The recent neoliberal turn of Democratic mayoralties, for example, has much to do with their intense budget constraints. But these isolated struggles must be tied to broader campaigns to centralize our welfare system, shifting local and state burdens onto the federal government. Such a change would allow for a deeper development of social protections and allow progressives who are elected to office to govern without having to impose austerity on workers. 

This is just one example of the kind of class politics that has to be reconstituted in America today; surely there are many others. The Next Left’s anti-austerity struggles must be connected to the environmental movement, to the struggle of immigrants for labor and citizenship rights, and even, as unromantic as it sounds, to the needs of middle-class service recipients. Baby boomers are facing retirement without pensions or private savings; they have a stake in defending Social Security. Recent college graduates are saddled with student loans and fear they won’t be able to buy homes or start families. The left must organize around these aspirations and expand its coalition until left-liberalism becomes the dominant force in American politics.

And what then? Socialists aren’t just doctors with remedies for liberalism’s ailments. We’re members of a movement with aspirations distinct from it: a society free from class exploitation, a democracy extended from political spheres to social and economic ones, a world dramatically transformed. This means pushing struggles beyond the limits of liberalism, or even the boundaries of a single nation. It means a pitched battle for supremacy within the broader progressive movement and, at the very least, a golden age of dinner-table political banter.

Read John Nichols on “How Socialists Built America” (May 2, 2011), adapted from his book The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition… Socialism (Verso). 

Source

tywyllwch-tachwedd
tywyllwch-tachwedd:

dreadful-record-of-sin:

thepeoplesrecord:

Fast food strike wave spreads to Detroit, St. LouisMay 10, 2013
St. Louis, and last month’s in New York and Chicago, today’s work stoppage is backed by a local coalition including the Service Employees International Union, and the participants are demanding a raise to $15 an hour and the chance to form a union without intimidation.
Organizers say that over a hundred workers joined the St. Louis strike between Wednesday and Thursday. That included a group of Jimmy John’s workers who alleged that management humiliated them by requiring them to hold up signs in public with messages including “I made 3 wrong sandwiches today” and “I was more than 13 seconds in the drive thru.”
“Sometimes I walk for more than an hour just to save my train fare so I can spend it on Ramen noodles,” St. Louis Chipotle worker Patrick Leeper said in an e-mailed statement Thursday. “I can’t even think about groceries.”
A spokesperson for Jimmy John’s declined to comment on Thursday’s strike; McDonald’s and Wendy’s did not respond to inquiries last night.
As I’ve written elsewhere, the fate of the fast food strike wave carries far-reaching implications: Fast food jobs are a growing portion of our economy, and fast food-like conditions are proliferating in other sectors as well. Organizers say the fast food industry now employs twice as many Detroit-area workers as the city’s iconic auto industry. These strikes also come at a moment of existential crisis for the labor movement, a sobering reality that was brought into sharp relief in December when Michigan, arguably the birthplace of modern US private sector unionism, became the country’s latest “Right to Work” state.
Along with a shared significant supporter—SEIU—the campaigns in New York, Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit have apparent strategies in common. Rather than waiting until they’ve built support from a majority of a store’s or company’s workers, they stage actions by a minority of the workforce designed to inspire their co-workers. Rather than publicly identifying the campaign and its organizers with a single international union, these union-funded efforts turn to allied community groups to spearhead organizing. Rather than training all their resources on a single company, they organize against all of the industry’s players at once. And—faced with legal and economic assaults that have weakened the strike weapon—these campaigns mount one-day work stoppages that are carefully tailored to maximize attention and minimize, but not eliminate, the risk that workers will lose their jobs.
Whether these strategies can ever compel a fast food giant to negotiate with its employees remains to be seen.
“After what I would consider well over three decades of wage suppression, workers in this particular industry—and then I think it’ll go to others—are realizing that their only way up the wage ladder is through their own organizations,” CUNY labor studies lecturer Ed Ott said Wednesday. Ott, a board member of the community organizing group that spearheaded the New York fast food strike, added, “The only way these workers are going to be able to advance these jobs is through unionization. And I think that idea has finally gotten traction.”
Update (9:15 AM Friday): According to the campaign, a walkout by twenty workers at Detroit’s 10400 Gratiot Avenue McDonald’s prevented the store from operating. Some workers brought in as strikebreakers to replace those striking workers chose to join the strike instead.
Organizers say that by day’s end, today’s strike could be the largest fast food work stoppage yet, topping last month’s 400-strong strike in New York.
Source

Fuck yeah.

I have to say, considering Jimmy John’s is featured here, I’m disappointed the IWW hasn’t been remotely mentioned, but of course I’m also not surprised. (I’m furthermore hoping this doesn’t get picked up by the SEIU or any trade unions because not even SEIU has a concept of total militancy…) But still, this is a fantastic development. Solidarity with all the strikers!

Fill our inbox and/or email with information about the IWW. I’ve heard bits and pieces about the organization (things I’ve heard that may or may not be true: was syndaclist, now isn’t; was problematic, now isn’t). Anyway, ya’ll’ve got a strong enough internet presence to peak my curiosity. 

tywyllwch-tachwedd:

dreadful-record-of-sin:

thepeoplesrecord:

Fast food strike wave spreads to Detroit, St. Louis
May 10, 2013

St. Louis, and last month’s in New York and Chicago, today’s work stoppage is backed by a local coalition including the Service Employees International Union, and the participants are demanding a raise to $15 an hour and the chance to form a union without intimidation.

Organizers say that over a hundred workers joined the St. Louis strike between Wednesday and Thursday. That included a group of Jimmy John’s workers who alleged that management humiliated them by requiring them to hold up signs in public with messages including “I made 3 wrong sandwiches today” and “I was more than 13 seconds in the drive thru.”

“Sometimes I walk for more than an hour just to save my train fare so I can spend it on Ramen noodles,” St. Louis Chipotle worker Patrick Leeper said in an e-mailed statement Thursday. “I can’t even think about groceries.”

A spokesperson for Jimmy John’s declined to comment on Thursday’s strike; McDonald’s and Wendy’s did not respond to inquiries last night.

As I’ve written elsewhere, the fate of the fast food strike wave carries far-reaching implications: Fast food jobs are a growing portion of our economy, and fast food-like conditions are proliferating in other sectors as well. Organizers say the fast food industry now employs twice as many Detroit-area workers as the city’s iconic auto industry. These strikes also come at a moment of existential crisis for the labor movement, a sobering reality that was brought into sharp relief in December when Michigan, arguably the birthplace of modern US private sector unionism, became the country’s latest “Right to Work” state.

Along with a shared significant supporter—SEIU—the campaigns in New York, Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit have apparent strategies in common. Rather than waiting until they’ve built support from a majority of a store’s or company’s workers, they stage actions by a minority of the workforce designed to inspire their co-workers. Rather than publicly identifying the campaign and its organizers with a single international union, these union-funded efforts turn to allied community groups to spearhead organizing. Rather than training all their resources on a single company, they organize against all of the industry’s players at once. And—faced with legal and economic assaults that have weakened the strike weapon—these campaigns mount one-day work stoppages that are carefully tailored to maximize attention and minimize, but not eliminate, the risk that workers will lose their jobs.

Whether these strategies can ever compel a fast food giant to negotiate with its employees remains to be seen.

“After what I would consider well over three decades of wage suppression, workers in this particular industry—and then I think it’ll go to others—are realizing that their only way up the wage ladder is through their own organizations,” CUNY labor studies lecturer Ed Ott said Wednesday. Ott, a board member of the community organizing group that spearheaded the New York fast food strike, added, “The only way these workers are going to be able to advance these jobs is through unionization. And I think that idea has finally gotten traction.”

Update (9:15 AM Friday): According to the campaign, a walkout by twenty workers at Detroit’s 10400 Gratiot Avenue McDonald’s prevented the store from operating. Some workers brought in as strikebreakers to replace those striking workers chose to join the strike instead.

Organizers say that by day’s end, today’s strike could be the largest fast food work stoppage yet, topping last month’s 400-strong strike in New York.

Source

Fuck yeah.

I have to say, considering Jimmy John’s is featured here, I’m disappointed the IWW hasn’t been remotely mentioned, but of course I’m also not surprised. (I’m furthermore hoping this doesn’t get picked up by the SEIU or any trade unions because not even SEIU has a concept of total militancy…) But still, this is a fantastic development. Solidarity with all the strikers!

Fill our inbox and/or email with information about the IWW. I’ve heard bits and pieces about the organization (things I’ve heard that may or may not be true: was syndaclist, now isn’t; was problematic, now isn’t). Anyway, ya’ll’ve got a strong enough internet presence to peak my curiosity. 

Understanding doesn’t come free…The task is somewhere between awfully difficult and utterly hopeless for an isolated individual. But it’s feasible for anyone who is part of a cooperative community..Same holds for ‘intellectual self-defense.’ It takes a lot of self-confidence - perhaps more self-confidence than one ought to have - to take a position alone because it seems to you right, in opposition to everything you see & hear.
Noam Chomsky, On Staying Informed and Intellectual Self-Defense

Article segment: Why the left must support Syria’s revolution
April 9, 2013

BEYOND THOSE who support the Syrian regime as a progressive opponent of imperialism, there are those who are justly suspicious of the motives of the U.S. and other powerful governments—and who fear that Syrians are doomed to a civil war between a bloodthirsty dictator and groups of intolerant little tyrants sustained by the U.S. and other powers.

What these pictures of the situation miss—intentionally or not—is the fact that Syria is in the grips of more than a civil war. What is taking place is a popular revolution, with an armed component. There are a wide variety of groups involved and at least as many strategies and ideas about what the struggle is about—including those that are not left wing and that will make accommodations with imperialism.

But the uprising is also a very dynamic process that has involved millions of people becoming active in public life for the first time. There are political advances and retreats, and moments of triumph and disappointment, just as there are military victories and defeats. But it would be wrong to reduce the Syrian Revolution to the question of the armed struggle and the role of imperialist powers in trying to shape and co-opt that armed struggle.

Take the role of women in the uprising—something that is not widely appreciated anywhere, and especially not in the mainstream media. Women have been very active participants and leaders from the beginning. They have played a role not just as victims and mothers and sisters of the martyrs and detainees, but also in demonstrations, on the front in field hospitals, in citizen reporting, and in the distribution of medicine and humanitarian supplies.

As a group of women activists in Aleppo wrote, “We will not wait until the regime falls for women to become active.” At the same time, they write, the “militarization of the revolution” has overshadowed the role of women—so in early March, the revolutionary local council of Aleppo was elected and didn’t include a single woman, despite some well-known female activists being nominated.

So there is—like everywhere in the world—some distance to go before women have equality in Syria. But the role they have played in the struggle so far—and will in the future—underlines how the uprising has opened up many different fronts in the battle against the Assad regime. As Ghayath Naisse said in an interview published by SocialistWorker.org:

The popular masses have invented many forms of struggles, including massive popular demonstrations that we saw in July of last year in Hama and Deir Ezzour; fast demonstrations (like flash mobs) that only last for several minutes; and demonstrations in neighborhoods with narrow streets in order to prevent the security forces from finding and cornering them, thus allowing protesters to disperse in narrow alleys when faced with repression.

Other actions include night demonstrations, releasing balloons carrying revolutionary slogans, dyeing the fountains red in major city squares, raising the flags of the revolution in streets and balconies, renaming streets with names of the revolution’s martyrs and, of course, a series of general strikes. The most recent one, in December 2012, was called the Strike of Dignity and lasted two days.

Every Friday, the masses raise their slogans, most of them united, in response to specific situations or to express their opinion regarding any matter of concern to the revolution. These are also a means to form a common mass consciousness and to generalize revolutionary experiences.

I WANT to leave the last word to a brave revolutionary, leftist writer Nahed Badawiyya, speaking from inside Syria:

The Arab Revolutions have come to put an end to the traditional left, and especially the traditional Communist Parties, which have been ineffective for a long time. They have become conservative, reactionary structures, devoid of members. In Syria, these Communist Parties gravitated towards the murderous regime and become accomplices to its crimes.

Therefore, much of their base, especially the youth, abandoned them and took to the streets to join their generation in protest. You will notice this phenomenon in all the traditional political movements in Syria. The youths of the Palestinian, Arab and Kurdish political movements have all separated from their leadership and joined the revolution. In all these political movements, the party leaderships were an obstacle and a brake on the revolutionary Syrian youth. At the same time, however, new Leftist youth formations emerged from within the revolution giving voice to its essence. I hope they grow and proliferate.

Full article here in which Yusef Khalil answers the objections of those on the left who reject the Syrian uprising against dictatorship—and demands to know which side they’re on.

As Sherry Wolf put it on her Facebook: Don’t reduce the Syrian Revolution to the question of the armed struggle and the role of imperialist powers in trying to shape and co-opt that armed struggle. Read this thoughtful and nuanced piece by Yusef Khalil. If you want to comment, please read the article. For some reason the Syrian Revolution inspires radicals to talk out of their ass.”

Daphni Leef, the 28-year-old Tel Aviv woman of the social-justice-focused tent protests of the summer of 2011, could be Tel Aviv’s next mayor
March 27, 2013

“I can’t lie, I am thinking about this seriously. I still haven’t decided whether to run or not,” Leef wrote, in a post on her Facebook page on Monday.

Her statement came the day after unknown persons created a Facebook event called “E is for elections – the official campaign launch for Daphni Leef for mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa.”

The event page, which appeared to speak in her name, said that this Saturday at 8 p.m., there would be a launch party at the place where it all began: Habimah Square on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard.

However, Leef said on Monday that “the event pages that were opened in my name have created a buzz that has reached me from every direction and have made this option a real one.”

She then issued a Passover greeting, saying, “I hope that after the holidays, we will go back to struggling for a more just society – one free of arrogance or the enslavement of anyone. Okay, that’s totally optimistic. But its okay to dream, even preferred. Giant hug.”

By Tuesday night, 287 people had RSVP-ed for the event, out of almost 7,000 invitees.

If she does decide to run in the October 22 elections, she will face incumbent Ron Huldai, who has served as mayor for the past 15 years.

Other candidates could include Hadash MK Dov Henin, who ran in the 2008 elections against Huldai on the City for All ticket, placing second with some 38 percent of the vote. If he were to run, Henin would likely attract much of the same crowd that would potentially vote for Leef, as would the Meretz party list, for which MK Nitzan Horowitz has been mentioned as a potential candidate.

In the summer of 2011, Leef became one of the most famous people in the country after she started a Facebook page calling on Israelis to join her in pitching a tent on Rothschild Boulevard to protest high rent prices. The protest began slowly on July 14, but by the end of the weekend, it had become a media phenomenon – and Leef became the face of a movement that saw some of the biggest demonstrations in the country’s history.

While other protest leaders like Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli decided to run in the last national elections – and won seats in the Knesset with the Labor Party – Leef turned down numerous offers to join party lists, and has largely remained distant from the public eye.

Source

Cypriot “no” inspires Greeks to rail against austerity
March 20, 2013

Greeks and opposition parties inspired by the Cypriot rejection of an unpopular bailout deal urged Athens on Wednesday to stand up to foreign lenders whose demands have resulted in repeated rounds of austerity that have made Greek life a misery.

Cyprus’s parliament on Tuesday rejected a levy on bank deposits demanded in return for aid, raising the spectre of a default for the island nation that could mean enduring wave after wave of spending cuts and tax rises, just like Greece.

"See what Cyprus did? We are proud of them," said Fey Papadopoulou, 22, a university student. "They should be an example for our politicians, who have succumbed to every demand."

Cyprus pleaded with Russia on Wednesday for a five-year extension and lower interest on an existing 2.5 billion euro ($3.22 billion) loan and 5 billion euros in new loans after voting down euro zone plan for a 10 billion euro bailout.

"The Cypriots set an example to follow," left-leaning Eleftherotypia said in its leading editorial. "How can the Cypriots say ‘no’ and we can’t even reject a single property tax?", ran a headline on Greek television channel Antenna.

Greece which first sought aid from European Union and the International Monetary Fund in 2010, has yielded to demands for harsh austerity measures that have slashed household income by almost a third and sent unemployment up to a record 26 percent.

"Cyprus said ‘No’ on our behalf too," said Odysseas Panagiotou, a 45-year old clerk. "It’s about time that our traitors - politicians - say a big ‘No’ to the troika demands."

The “no” vote from Nicosia comes just days before Athens and its lenders resume delicate talks on the implementation of the country’s bailout, with creditors pushing Athens to respect past pledges to fire civil servants and stick to unpopular tax rises.

Merkel’s Strategy

Whether Athens - which in the past has ignored riots and mass protests to approve austerity packages and avert bankruptcy - will be swayed by the latest outcry depends on whether Cyprus ends up bankrupt or finds a solution elsewhere, analysts said.

"If Cyprus goes bankrupt, then the government’s argument that we must stay on the austerity path will be reinforced, but if it wins better bailout terms the main opposition’s arguments will be stronger," said Thomas Gerakis, head of Marc pollsters.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s government - which has been scrambling to assure Greeks that their bank deposits are not at risk due to the Cypriot crisis - said late on Tuesday it supported Cyprus’s choices.

But Greece’s anti-bailout opposition, including the radical leftist Syriza party, rushed to accuse him and Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras of bowing to the austerity demands of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"After the Cypriots’ proud ‘no’, Mr. Samaras and Mr. Stournaras are the most faithful adherents of Ms. Merkel’s strategy," said a statement from Syriza, Greece’s most popular party according to a MARC/Alpha survey published on Tuesday.

"The Cypriot parliament shows the way of real negotiation, which no pro-bailout government in Greece even considered."

Syriza also interpreted a statement late on Tuesday by the European Central Bank to continue funding Cypris banks within existing rules, as a sign of weakness on the part of creditors.

"And just like that, we found out that another way is possible," Syriza deputy Rena Dourou tweeted a few minutes after the ECB statement was release.

Source

I’m not exactly sure, but I’ll do my best to offer a starting place. 
I really don’t claim to be an expert so if I’m listing these areas and readers out there are like ‘WHAT?! I KNOW SOME GREAT BLOGS ABOUT THAT?!’ just reblog and list them and I will be really appreciative.
But in terms of news, I think domestic politics in pretty much all Western countries, and large segments of the Middle East are pretty well documented on Tumblr (and often on this blog). We (The People’s Record) don’t do a near complete enough job covering internal domestic politics in Central America, South America, East & South-East Asia, or Africa.
We also don’t do a good enough job covering indigenous issues, throughout the world and particularly in the above mentioned places.
In terms of analysis, I personally see a lack in/would like to see more blogs or even get some people writing columns for The People’s Record that:
Compare & discuss the differences between various tendencies in revolutionary politics: Trotskyists vs Maoists vs anarcho-syndicalists, etc. Something fair minded and critical of all the tendencies (since none has technically liberated us from capitalism or imperialism or ended colonialism yet). But I think a thoughtful blog or column about that would be really helpful, I’ve been thinking about writing one myself but I’m concerned I would start and then not finish, lol.
It would be cool to see a blog just dedicated to co-ops, cooperatively run economies, anarcho-syndicalism and democratic workplaces
International news blogs and/or a column representing/covering perspectives of international happenings from non-Western points-of-view. Like, what’s being said about India in the Chilean media, or how is the first female president of South Korea being received across the South-African blogosphere, for instance.
 I’d like to see a blog and/or column focused on ‘what capitalism does’ to various aspects of society: like medical care, law enforcement,
Lastly, something that dares to speculate/discuss/inspire-discussions about the particular forms a new world might take, how we might alternatively structure society, what could it look like – would we want to get rid of all the concrete as the anarchist chant goes: ‘Whose streets? No streets. Tear down the concrete.’ How would that work? Would we try and build large-scale rails for transportation? How might new technologies be utilized to make a new world more possible, (a tech focused/leftist/radical/revolutionary blog might be really cool) etc?
Add your own to the list, Tumblr. And if anyone wants to write about any of this (or anything along these lines) for The People’s Record in a regular column or even just post about this stuff regularly for us to reblog, send us an email: thepeoplesrec@gmail.com 
If we haven’t gotten back to you yet, that’s because we are terrible slackers and not because we don’t want to work with you. We will be catching up on those messages shortly. We’re trying to compile a list so that we can transition into a larger team in the most efficient way possible. 

I’m not exactly sure, but I’ll do my best to offer a starting place. 

I really don’t claim to be an expert so if I’m listing these areas and readers out there are like ‘WHAT?! I KNOW SOME GREAT BLOGS ABOUT THAT?!’ just reblog and list them and I will be really appreciative.

  1. But in terms of news, I think domestic politics in pretty much all Western countries, and large segments of the Middle East are pretty well documented on Tumblr (and often on this blog). We (The People’s Record) don’t do a near complete enough job covering internal domestic politics in Central America, South America, East & South-East Asia, or Africa.
  2. We also don’t do a good enough job covering indigenous issues, throughout the world and particularly in the above mentioned places.
  3. In terms of analysis, I personally see a lack in/would like to see more blogs or even get some people writing columns for The People’s Record that:
  4. Compare & discuss the differences between various tendencies in revolutionary politics: Trotskyists vs Maoists vs anarcho-syndicalists, etc. Something fair minded and critical of all the tendencies (since none has technically liberated us from capitalism or imperialism or ended colonialism yet). But I think a thoughtful blog or column about that would be really helpful, I’ve been thinking about writing one myself but I’m concerned I would start and then not finish, lol.
  5. It would be cool to see a blog just dedicated to co-ops, cooperatively run economies, anarcho-syndicalism and democratic workplaces
  6. International news blogs and/or a column representing/covering perspectives of international happenings from non-Western points-of-view. Like, what’s being said about India in the Chilean media, or how is the first female president of South Korea being received across the South-African blogosphere, for instance.
  7.  I’d like to see a blog and/or column focused on ‘what capitalism does’ to various aspects of society: like medical care, law enforcement,
  8. Lastly, something that dares to speculate/discuss/inspire-discussions about the particular forms a new world might take, how we might alternatively structure society, what could it look like – would we want to get rid of all the concrete as the anarchist chant goes: ‘Whose streets? No streets. Tear down the concrete.’ How would that work? Would we try and build large-scale rails for transportation? How might new technologies be utilized to make a new world more possible, (a tech focused/leftist/radical/revolutionary blog might be really cool) etc?

Add your own to the list, Tumblr. And if anyone wants to write about any of this (or anything along these lines) for The People’s Record in a regular column or even just post about this stuff regularly for us to reblog, send us an email: thepeoplesrec@gmail.com

If we haven’t gotten back to you yet, that’s because we are terrible slackers and not because we don’t want to work with you. We will be catching up on those messages shortly. We’re trying to compile a list so that we can transition into a larger team in the most efficient way possible. 

Possibility of empowered left amid populist upswing in Italian elections
February 25, 2013

Italians voted for a second and final day in a general election on Monday with a surge in protest votes increasing the risk of an unstable outcome that could undermine Europe’s efforts to end its three-year debt crisis.

Opinion polls give the centre-left coalition led by former Industry Minister Pier Luigi Bersani a narrow lead but the race has been thrown wide open by the prospect of protest votes against austerity and corporate and political scandals.

"I’m sick of the scandals and the stealing," said Paolo Gentile, a 49-year-old Rome lawyer who said he had voted for the 5-Star Movement, an anti-establishment protest group set to make a huge impact at its first general election.

"We need some young, new people in parliament, not the old parties that are totally discredited," he said.

Most of the voters interviewed outside polling stations by Reuters on Sunday and Monday expected the next government would quickly collapse, thwarting efforts to end an economic crisis.

"I’m very pessimistic, I don’t think that whoever wins will last long or be able to solve the problems of this country," said Cristiano Reale, a 43 year-old salesman in Palermo, Sicily. He said he would vote for the far left Civil Revolution group.

A bitter campaign, fought largely over economic issues, has been closely watched by financial markets, nervous about the return of the kind of debt crisis that took the whole euro zone close to disaster and brought technocrat prime minister Mario Monti to office in 2011.

ANTI-EURO FORCES

"There are similarities between the Italian elections and last year’s ones in Greece, in that pro-euro parties are losing ground in favor of populist forces,” said Mizuho chief economist Riccardo Barbieri.

"An angry and confused public opinion does not see the benefits of fiscal austerity and does not trust established political parties."

(TPR NOTE: That’s because the only people who benefit from austerity are the rich. It’s one more way the rich are able to siphen money from the poor, creating wide-spread poverty and chaos, while collecting marginally higher numbers for themselves, which will never have an effect on their quality of life because they are already so rich that it doesn’t matter.)

Projections based on the vote count will be issued through the afternoon and the final result should be known late on Monday or early Tuesday.

An extremely close Senate race is expected in several battleground regions and this could delay the final result..

The election result is likely to be the most fragmented in decades, with the old left-right division disrupted by the rise of 5-Star, led by fiery Genoese comic Beppe Grillo, and by Monti’s decision to run at the head of a centrist bloc.

"It will be a vote of protest, maybe of revolt," said Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper, on Monday.

It noted that for the first time the winning coalition is unlikely to get more than a third of the votes, making it harder to govern and likely opening weeks of complicated negotiations.

It is unclear how Grillo’s rise will influence the result, with some pollsters saying it increases the chances of a clear win for the centre-left, led by Bersani’s Democratic Party (PD), because 5-Star is taking votes mainly from Berlusconi.

After the first day of voting on Sunday, about 54 percent of voters had cast their ballots, a sharp fall on the level of 62.5 percent seen at the same stage in the last election in 2008.

If the trend continues on Monday it will confirm the disillusion of voters with a discredited political class.

CALL TO ARMS

The 5-Star Movement, backed by a frustrated younger generation increasingly shut out of full-time jobs, could challenge former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party as Italy’s second largest political force.

"Come on, it isn’t over yet," was Monday’s front page headline in Il Giornale daily, owned by Berlusconi’s brother, a call to arms to get out the vote.

The 76-year-old Berlusconi, has pledged sweeping tax cuts and echoed Grillo’s attacks on Monti, Germany and the euro in an extraordinary media blitz that has halved the lead of the centre-left since the start of the year.

Support for Monti’s centrist coalition meanwhile has faded after he led a lackluster campaign and he appears set to trail well behind the main parties.

After drawing hundreds of thousands of supporters to its final campaign rally on Friday, Grillo has said he fears voting fraud to try to block a massive breakthrough, telling his supporters to wet the lead in the pencils they use to vote to prevent the crosses being rubbed out.

Whatever government emerges will inherit an economy that has been stagnant for much of the past two decades and problems ranging from record youth unemployment to a dysfunctional justice system and a bloated public sector.

If Bersani wins, it is far from clear that he will be able to control both houses of parliament and form a stable government capable of lasting a full five-year term.

Source

I haven’t watched this yet (because it just posted a few minutes ago) so I can’t comment yet…although I think Richard Wolff is always pretty on-point and entertaining (for an economist) and I suspect he’ll be at his best knowing that he’s going to have a huge main-stream audience watching this.

This is the full episode; it’s 44 minutes.

Here’s a brief description: 

Richard Wolff joins Bill to discuss the disaster left behind in capitalism’s wake, and the fight for economic justice, including a fair minimum wage.

Source

Natural gas pipeline explodes near Alice, Texas
September 6, 2012
A natural gas gathering pipeline exploded on Thursday about 10 miles north of Alice, Texas, said a spokesman for pipeline owner Copano Energy LLC.
No injuries were reported from the afternoon blast in the 10-inch (25.4-centimeter) Bradshaw pipeline near a compressor station, said Copano’s Craig Brown.

The section of pipeline that ruptured in the explosion has been isolated and the remaining gas and condensate in the pipe is being allowed to burn off, Brown said. Copano expects the fire will be out and the area around the pipe cool enough for the company to begin seeking a cause for the blast Friday morning.

"While it’s premature to speculate on the cause, I can tell you there were no outward signs of vandalism," Brown said.

A gathering line collects natural gas from a field where the gas is being produced and sends it to a storage facility.
Alice is located 239 miles southwest of Houston.
Source

Natural gas pipeline explodes near Alice, Texas

September 6, 2012

A natural gas gathering pipeline exploded on Thursday about 10 miles north of Alice, Texas, said a spokesman for pipeline owner Copano Energy LLC.

No injuries were reported from the afternoon blast in the 10-inch (25.4-centimeter) Bradshaw pipeline near a compressor station, said Copano’s Craig Brown.

The section of pipeline that ruptured in the explosion has been isolated and the remaining gas and condensate in the pipe is being allowed to burn off, Brown said. Copano expects the fire will be out and the area around the pipe cool enough for the company to begin seeking a cause for the blast Friday morning.

"While it’s premature to speculate on the cause, I can tell you there were no outward signs of vandalism," Brown said.

A gathering line collects natural gas from a field where the gas is being produced and sends it to a storage facility.

Alice is located 239 miles southwest of Houston.

Source