Author: Dan La Botz
Book Review

A Tale Of Many Cities: Potholes in the Road To Municipal Reform


Juan Gonzalez. Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and The Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities.  New York: New Press, 2017.

There is no better role model for aspiring radical scribes than Juan Gonzalez. The country’s leading Latino journalist is cohost of Democracy Now!, a former columnist for the New York Daily News, and twice winner of the Polk Award for his investigative reporting. Not many veterans of campus and community struggles in the Sixties and workplace organizing in the 1970s later moved into mainstream journalism with such distinction, Gonzalez has managed to combine daily newspapering with continued dedication to the cause of labor and minority communities.

Why Socialists Shouldn’t Believe In Human Nature


Let’s set the scene.

You just had dinner with your family and argued about the viability of the creation of socialism in the United States while fighting off their tired and false rebuttals of human nature as your uncle Steve got broccoli stuck in his teeth. Exhausted from the argument in a way that only your family can cause, you head to your home and get ready for bed. A notification appears on your phone that a new article from Jacobin.

On the Conditions of Ignorance

ImageIn a recent article from Politico, a new poll was discussed that suggests that nearly half, 49 percent, of Trump supporters believe that he won the popular vote in the 2016 election. (He didn’t; he lost by nearly three million votes.) Spurred on by Trump’s claims that millions (!) of people voted illegally in the election, this portion of Trump’s base have been lied to and misled by a politician they think they can trust. What are we to make of this?

On the 98th Anniversary of His Birth

Theodore W. Allen’s Work on the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy


Theodore W. “Ted” Allen (1919-2005) was an anti-white supremacist, working class intellectual and activist. He developed his pioneering class struggle-based analysis of “white skin privilege” beginning in the mid-1960s; authored the seminal two-volume The Invention of the White Race in the 1990s; and consistently maintained that the struggle against white supremacy was central to efforts at radical social change in the United States.  Born on August 23, 1919, in Indianapolis, Indiana, he grew up in Paintsville, Kentucky and Huntington, West Virginia and, after moving to New York City, lived his last fifty-plus years in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

Racism — North and South


A well-researched article by John Eligan in the Aug. 18  N.Y. Times goes beyond denouncing the symbolic racism of Charlotteville’s Confederate statues to expose the more pernicious structural racism embedded in the separate-but-unequal physical segregation of the city. (See “In Charlottesville, Some Say Statue Debate Obscures a Deep Racial Split.”) [1]

Ironically, this segregation was imposed, not during the rise of the KKK in the 1920s, but during the 1960s under the progressive guise of ‘urban renewal.” It was then that the vibrant, relatively prosperous, historical black neighborhoods like Charlotteville’s Vinegar Hill were deliberately razed, left long vacant, and ultimately replaced by soulless public housing and institutional projects.

Book Review

The End of Islamic Liberalism?


Cihan Tuğal, The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism (Verso, 2016).

In the short time since the 2016 publication of Cihan Tuğal’s The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism, Turkey has endured an attempted coup, nearly a year of rule under a state of emergency, the widespread repression of dissent through imprisonment and mass firings of teachers and civil servants, and a (likely fraudulent) referendum that has institutionalized the autocratic rule of President Tayyip Recep Erdoǧan. Yet, unbelievable as it may seem, these developments are part of a continuum rather than a rupture, and Tuğal’s book is essential—if not unproblematic—reading for understanding contemporary politics in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

A Split at the Top: The Bourgeoisie Begins to Abandon Trump

President for a Year?


President Donald Trump’s failure for two days to condemn the violent Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and "alt-right" white supremacists, one of whom murdered a woman in Charlottesville, has led to a major development as sections of the capitalist class have begun to abandon him. While some top Republican leaders have taken a stronger stand against Trump in recent days, several major corporate leaders have deserted him. They have done in part because of his flirtation with fascism, but also because Trump and his administration—his embarrassing tweets, the constant circus, the Korea war scare, the Russian imbroglio—makes it impossible for the Republicans to advance their pro-business agenda. If the relationship between Trump and corporate leaders continues to unravel, this could lead to a more rapid collapse of the Trump presidency than had previously seemed possible.

Reports on the Resistance: Demonstrations Across the Country in Solidarity with Charlottesville


Thousands demonstrated in dozens of cities and universities across the United States to protest the “Unite the Right” racist march and rally in Charlottesville Virginia and the automobile terrorist attack on anti-fascists that took the life of Heather Heyer on Aug. 12.

The demonstrations took the form of vigils, rallies, and marches that took place on Aug. 13 and 14. In New York City, thousands demonstrated at Trump Tower as he returned from the golf links to New York. In Durham, North Carolina, anti-fascists pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier. In some cities there were multiple events called by a variety of progressive and leftist organizations.

We Will Replace You


ImageThe “Unite the Right” rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend attracted several hundred white men from the "alt-right," the neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan who marched with torches through the University of Virginia chanting, “You will not replace us.” Nothing better explains the fear at the root of their racist movement than that chant. They fear, as their political ancestors feared, that they will be replaced by blacks. They have now come to fear also that they will be replaced by Latinos and by Asians. They fear too that they will be replaced by women, by gay men or lesbians or bisexuals. Or by trans people or the disabled. Above all, they fear.

DSA Convention: Mapping a Strategy, Avoiding Dead-Ends


After reaching 25,000 members, DSA held its largest bi-annual National Convention with the hopes of creating the political clout necessary to shift the country toward a socialist vision that exceeds that of social-democratic capitalism. The four days reenergized old chapters and allowed new chapters to recognize the potential of a national organization. Overall, DSA has effectively begun resurrecting the socialist movement in the United States. All DSA members should be proud of this achievement. We should, however, be cautious in overestimating the outcomes of the convention. For behind the great rejuvenation that occurred in Chicago there were also ideological and structural currents that may limit DSA in the long run.

So, about this Googler’s manifesto


On August 5 a Google employee named James Damore published a 3,500 word manifesto entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” in which he agued the biological inferiority of women, making them incapable of being equally talented computer engineers. First circulated internally among Google’s thousands of employees, the manifesto was posted in its entirety on the web by Gizmodo on August 5. Google fired Damore, the manifesto’s author, on August 7.

On August 5, Yonatan Zunger, a former Google employee who had only recently left the company, wrote a response to Damore, published by Medium, which we republish here. – DL

The Founding Fathers: “Neoliberals” Avant le Mot


“Who is to blame for the election of Donald Trump?” It’s a question that was asked more than a few times after November. We’re all familiar with the answers that were given: James Comey, the electoral college, the DNC’s leaked—not hacked—emails, the characteristically shameful performance of the mainstream media in its focus on personalities rather than substance, the stupefying incompetence of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the elitist insularity and corruption of the Democratic Party, etc.

The 1997 Teamster Victory at UPS Twenty Years Later


Twenty years ago this month the reform leadership of the Teamsters union, led by President Ron Carey, with the assistance of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), a reform caucus within the union, led a successful strike against United Parcel Service (UPS) that paralyzed the company, inspired labor unionists, and seemed to open up new opportunities for the workers movement. The UPS strike remains a model of strike strategy, organization, and tactics.

Successful Convention Moves DSA to Left


The socialist movement in the United States took a big step forward this past weekend as almost 700 delegates representing over 25,000 members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) met at the organization’s biennial national convention in Chicago. This convention, the first since DSA more than tripled in size following last year’s election, brought together delegates from all of the country’s major cities and many towns large and small.

The Venezuelan Constituent Assembly Election–What's at Stake?


On Sunday 30 July, so-called elections took place to a so-called Constituent Assembly in Venezuela. It is important, for the future, the revolution, and democracy, not to fool ourselves about the meanings of the words being used here.

For all Venezuelans, there can be no doubt: what was elected today has nothing in common with a sovereign constituent assembly. By “a sovereign constituent assembly.” we mean one which exercises power.

DSA’s Convention – Back to the Democratic Party or an Independent Course?

A Reply to Joseph Schwartz and Bhaskar Sunkara


When the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) meets in convention in Chicago this weekend the central question will be this: Will DSA return to the Democratic Party or chart an independent course? DSA members Joseph M. Schwartz and Bhaskar Sunkara have written an article in which they argue that DSA should follow the example of the Communist Party USA in the Popular Front period of the 1930s when it supported Democratic Party president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Crisis of the Latin American Left: A Marxist Account

Book Review


Jeffery R. Webber. The Last Day of Oppression, and the First Day of the Same: The Politics and Economics of the New Latin American Left. Chicago: Haymarket, 2017. 327 pages. Index. Tables.

Beginning in the late 1990s the Pink Tide began to roll in across much of South America, bringing to power elected leftist governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela. While these administrations were not all the same—Argentina and Brazil appeared to be more social democratic and Bolivia and Venezuela more radical—they represented a new moment in the history of the Latin American Left.

Argentine Workers’ Fight to Keep Jobs at Pepsi Plant Becomes a National Cause


The story of the workers of a PepsiCo factory in Vicente Lopez, Buenos Aires, Argentina may be slightly confusing to those in America where it seems normal for a factory to close, as many did in the financial crash of 2008, without the workers organizing, despite losing valuable employment in a harsh economy. Yet the actions of the nearly 700 laid-off workers since PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage corporation in the world, decided to move their production to another city south of Buenos Aires, could teach American workers a thing or two.

Who Are These Anime Nazis, Anyway?


On the very off chance you haven’t heard, Angela Nagle has come out with her first book: Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. Best known for her essays, often on the alt-right, in outlets like Jacobin and The Baffler, the socialist left has been anxious to dive into what appears to be the first book on the alt-right written by one of us — myself included. Ms. Nagle first caught my attention last year with her incredibly insightful essay “The New Man of 4chan,” and I’ve been reading her regularly, and eagerly awaiting this book, ever since.

Venezuela: for sale to the highest bidder?


The Bolivarian revolution led by Hugo Chavez from 1999, opened a new chapter in the global struggle for social justice. For anti-capitalists across the world, his ‘21st century socialism’ pointed ahead to a new kind of power, defined in the Bolivarian Constitution as “participativa y protagonista” – a participatory democracy in which the people were the active subjects.

It is hard to reconcile that hope with the realities of Venezuela today. The spokespersons of the new State continue to proclaim their revolutionary credentials. Yet they oversee a society in profound and worsening crisis, where hunger has reappeared in a country which just four years ago was congratulated by the U.N. for its virtual elimination of extreme poverty. The right wing media – nationally and internationally – have taken great delight in publishing photographs of food queues marshalled and overseen by armed National Guards. The supporters of Chavismo instinctively refuse to believe the images. But the social crisis they symbolize is real.

Sanctuary: In a Great American and International Tradition


Author's note: "I was asked at a recent New York City Democratic Socialists of America meeting of the  Immigration Justice Working Group to say a few words to put our work in historical context and then asked to write up my brief talk so that it might be useful to others."

Our sanctuary work is in a great national and global tradition of humanitarianism and it is consistent with our international socialist principles. Our work, while fighting for the reform of the immigration system, has as its goal the abolition of the capitalist system that causes involuntary mass migration. And while using existing law to defend immigrants and fighting for better laws, we stand opposed to the concept of the national state, which will never respect and defend immigrants as equals in our society.