We have had an extraordinary presidential primary in 2016: in addition to the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, we have an authoritarian demagogue, Donald Trump, who has unleashed a reactionary rage which harkens back to fascism, and another, Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist.
America and the World in 2016 and Beyond
The world today is faced with crises on virtually every front, and any assessment of the foreign policy positions of the two major parties’ 2016 presidential candidates must measure how well they respond to these crises.
Surveying the political scene in America, we are now witnessing the shattering of the last remnants of the American ideology that has maintained itself—despite strains—for almost 70 years. The ideas that justified the American economic and political system in the minds of most of our citizens throughout that long period came under stress during earlier storms—from the 1950s to the 1970s in particular—and a few beams and joists cracked but did not give way. Today the manifold crises of capitalism mean that the entire existing intellectual structure of American capitalism is breaking up. And because of the role that the U.S. capitalist class plays in the world, this represents a crisis of world capitalist leadership and legitimacy. The question then arises: What will the country’s rulers attempt to put in its place, and what alternative explanation will we on the left and in the labor movement be able to offer to the country’s workers?
Like a spectral apparition from a Shakespeare play or an M. Night Shyamalan film, the dreaded ghost of welfare reform is making a ghoulish comeback on Capitol Hill just in time for its twentieth anniversary.
The Politics and Poetics of Mose Allison’s Blues
In October 1969, pianist/ singer/composer Mose Allison recorded “Monsters of the Id.” At a time when recent history had witnessed a police riot at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention, the police crackdown on protesters at Berkeley’s People’s Park, and popular backlash against anti-war, New Left, counter-culture, and Black Power sentiment, Allison began by warning that the title characters no longer remain hidden, but have come out in full view. To the accompaniment of a slightly discordant horn section, Allison—singing in his characteristic style, with its idiosyncratic pauses and accents—spins a variety of often ghoulish metaphors that remain just as timely in today’s era of Tea Party, torture reports, Stand Your Ground, and Donald Trump: “They’re sprouting through the cracks ... They’re deputizing maniacs / Creatures from the swamp rewrite their own Mein Kampf.”
The colonization of Latin America never ended, it merely changed forms. Today this conquest continues, with transnational companies driving neo-colonization grounded in the continued exploitation of natural resources. This is nowhere more true than in Central America. The force of neo-colonization is strengthened by free-trade agreements and development plans that guarantee a company’s right to investment above the rights of the citizenry. Meanwhile, the indigenous populations face renewed dispossession and eviction to make way for global capital’s conquest.
The month of May witnessed the second round of massive general strikes to hit Greece in 2016. Mobilizations on May Day were followed by four days of strikes in the lead-up to the Syriza government passing its austerity pension bill.
Rosa Luxemburg’s Critique of Bourgeois Democracy
Rosa Luxemburg’s defense of socialist democracy and her critique of the Bolsheviks in her pamphlet The Russian Revolution (1918) are well known. Less well known and often forgotten is her critique of bourgeois democracy, its limits, its contradictions, and its narrow and partial character. We propose to examine this critical line of thought in some of her political writings without any pretentions to completeness.
This essay was originally a talk at the conference held at the New School for Social Research on April 21-22, 2016.
I don’t need to tell you we face an existential threat. Scientists tell us we face a “climate emergency.” Last year was the hottest year ever recorded, beating 2014, which beat 2012. We break new records every year. The fourteen hottest years ever recorded have been recorded since 2000. January and February temperatures were torrid.
Can the U.S. Food Justice Movement Join the Global Movement?
In the United States today, there is a fresh opening for progressive alliances. The various movements—Black Lives Matter, the Fight for $15, climate change, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, Bernie—have different roots, structures, and foci, but they share a recognition that we are being crushed by the newest form of capitalism—as they call it in Latin America, “capitalismo salvaje”1 (savage capitalism)—and that we must stand up to it with all our might, with all our people.
Perhaps ironically, shortly after writing the following memorial for Arthur Lipow, longtime New Politics sponsor Bogdan Denitch died on March 28 at the age of 86.
The democratic left is poorer today for the loss of a longtime active comrade. Arthur Lipow, a former member of the editorial board of New Politics, died this year on January 6, aged 81, his wife Gretchen by his side. Arthur grew up in Southern California and attended high school in Pasadena. He received his BA in sociology from UCLA in 1955.
English anarchism has produced a number of fine cartoonists, including Clifford Harper, John Olday, Paul Petard, and, arguably, the artist Hunt Emerson and the writer Alan Moore.
Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has rocketed across the political landscape in this most abnormal of election seasons—an independent, self-defined democratic socialist running in the Democratic primary contest.
Rather than start his book about climate change with a solitary man contemplating a streambed run dry or taking in the eternal wonders of an old-growth forest, Roy Scranton begins Learning to Die in the Anthropocene in occupied Iraq in 2003, where Scranton served as a private in the U.S. Army.
Designing Socialism is a complete reprint, as an e-book, of the special April 2012 issue of the American academic Marxist journal Science & Society. It continues that publication’s tradition of providing, as stated by its usual editor David Laibman, “a major worldwide pulse-taking of the state of play in theoretical socialism” every April of the years ending in “2” in every decade (Campbell, ed., 7).
Syria is the focus of the world’s attention. However, the closer the lens is focused, the more the picture seems obscured. Is what we are seeing a revolution? Is it a proxy war by international forces? Or, especially now with the emergence of the Islamic State, is this Islamic authoritarianism asserting itself? These questions are vital for anyone trying to piece together a picture of what is happening and especially for activists trying to understand what is at stake in Syria and what attitude to take toward events as they unfold.
The editors of these volumes have provided an invaluable service, bringing renewed attention to the highly original and enduringly contentious critique of Capital that arose from one of the most universally revered figures of the revolutionary movement.
This book is a fascinating incursion into the multiple oppositional uses of memory in world cinema. It shows, in a lively and insightful way, how movies bring the memory of past struggles forward into the present, to serve as an inspiration for the future.
Inez Hedges distinguishes eight types of cultural cinematographic memory, which correspond to the eight chapters of the book:
E.P. Thompson (1924–1993) wore several hats during his life. His magnum opus as a historian was The Making of the English Working Class, one of the greatest history books written in the twentieth century in any language. He fought tirelessly for nuclear disarmament in the 1980s, which almost surely took years off his life.
Temma Kaplan’s Democracy: A World History arrives at a timely moment. With presidential candidates and U.S. officials alike evoking the term “democracy” as a justification for political movements or a pretense for extraterritorial violence, Kaplan’s history of democracy offers a sorely needed study at an opportune time.
The American left is today confronted with a situation it has not dealt with in some time—something approaching broader political relevance. From the rise of Occupy to Black Lives Matter to the Bernie Sanders campaign, movements of the left are having a sustained impact on American politics that they have not had for decades.
China has the world’s largest population, about 1.4 billion people, with a working age population of about 950 million, hundreds of millions of them wage laborers. Most of us know little about the Chinese workers or the recent workers’ movement that has developed so rapidly, especially since the 1990s.
Blogs & On-Line Features
[Stockholm - August 21] The Nobel Prize in economics has been awarded posthumously to Karl Marx (1818-1883) for his book Das Kapital, a decision that has shocked and “dismayed” the economic establishment.
Lars Enquist, spokesperson for the committee, said that awarding Marx represented “an attempt to rectify shameful past errors on the part of the bank’s award committee.” He then read a remarkable statement to the media and the public explaining this year’s award:
When the politics of Sidney Hook, a public intellectual and philosopher, are remembered today, they are generally associated with a right-wing variant of social democracy which was compatible with both neoconservatism and McCarthyism.
According to a recent GenForward survey by political scientist Cathy Cohen’s Black Youth Project, based at the University of Chicago, young people across the board, dissatisfied with both the Democrats and the Republicans, are eager for a fundamental political change. That is the good news.
“But then came Syria, and my hypocrisy and the fragility of those ideals became exposed,” wrote Palestinian activist Budour Hassan in her latest brilliant piece entitled “how the Syrian Revolution has transformed me”.
Before embarking on my current career, I worked as a labor organizer, mostly in West Virginia and Ohio. In the course of doing that work, I probably did two thousand “housevisits” with people I was attempting to organize. The purpose of these meetings was to understand people’s motivations and interests in order to assess how they would vote in a union recognition election (as the union president once said to the organizers: “I don’t care if you lose, I care if you can’t count”) and assess their leadership potential for either the union’s organizing committee or for management’s anti-union efforts.
Activists in New York City seeking to defund the police have successfully occupied City Hall Park for a week and seen one of their demands met with the resignation of Commissioner Bill Bratton. While blocking roads and highways has been the tactic of choice for Black Lives Matter since it gained national attention two years ago, the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have sparked the resurgence of a tactic many thought had been left behind in Zuccotti Park.
On Indigenous Day, David Brooks Admires Native Americans’ Sense of Community—But Fails to Ask What Made It So
For a minute this morning, I asked myself if conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks might be about to follow Chris Hedges into the far left. Or perhaps wander off into the woods to find a commune.
Brooks has written an interesting column in which he suggests that maybe Americans, especially millennials, want more than material comforts in our highly individualistic society, that they want community.
On July 26, concurrent to the Democratic National Convention’s star-studded attempt to make everybody forget everything that transpired during the primary, New York Mag published a great piece on the Florida senatorial race. What they call “the second-strangest campaign of the season” is worth reading about for a few reasons; because the general election might be able to defeat Marco Rubio’s mercurial reentry into national politics and hand a rare Florida win to the Democrats; because Alan Grayson — the $16-million-tax-haven owner, who, policywise, lands on the left wing of the Democratic Party — is great entertainment; and because Grayson’s primary rival, Patrick Murphy, is a quiet, but powerful, signal of where the Dems are headed.
The enduring cliche of the 2016 election is a comment by Trump that provokes outrage, rebukes, and the declaration: “He’s gone too far.”
Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy. By Dave Zirin. Updated Olympics edition. Haymarket Books, 2016. 238pp. + notes and index. $17.95 paperback.
I celebrated with great relief back on October 2, 2009, when my hometown Chicago was the first city eliminated by the International Olympic Committee from consideration for hosting the 2016 games. The scale of the pillage, cronyism and social cleansing that “Mayor One Percent” Rahm Emanuel would have inflicted in the name of preparing for the party was horrible to contemplate. And I wasn’t wrong, as reporter David Haugh has shown in his piece of bidder‘s remorse, “In retrospect, losing 2016 Olympics to Rio a big victory for Chicago” (http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-haugh-olympics-spt-0803-20160802-column.html).
The uprising and fighting in Syria have gone on for over five years and your platform doesn’t say a word about it. Delegates to this weekend’s convention, how about adding these five sentences?
As the U.S. election season proceeds, there is controversy, confusion, consternation, and sometimes recrimination. Below, in a question and answer format, we present our views on these matters, hoping to contribute to the discussion.
The last few years of repeated strikes and demonstrations by the teachers of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Michoacán, and the government’s violent repression of these protests--including forced diseappearance of students, massacres of supporters, and assassinations of individual teachers--has led to interest in the background of the teachers’ movement. The following article is meant to provide a long historical overview of the Mexican teachers’ movement, together with a bibliography for further reading.
When I was writing the following lines two years ago, I was almost able to see the smirk on the face of some of my comrades who would subsequently read them: