Author: Michael Hirsch

Taking Some Distance from Dan La Botz's Demurrer of the DSA Endorsement for Cynthia Nixon


Dan's sober and sobering comment on why he opposed an endorsement by DSA of the Cynthia Nixon campaign to dethrone Andrew Cuomo, New York's corporate deny-the-corporate-class-nothing's two-term governor [see "Why I voted Against Endorsing Cynthia Nixon"] is sharply and smartly posed. It deserves a similar if brief reply, one crafted in what I hope encapsulates the same spirit. 

Treyf Pesach


Hilton Obinzenger is a poet and a long-time informed critic of Zionism and Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. His new poem, Treyf Pesach (Dirty Passover), is a blunt speaking and not unhumorous effort to ask fellow Jews how they can celebrate the slave insurrrection in Egypt millennia ago and yet be struck dumb by the Israeli government's dissembling and bloody practices  toward "the stranger in our midst" today. You can read Obinzenger's smart, snappy work here, and visit his website here.

Authors dynamite neoliberalism's ed reform narrative

Review of

This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class and Education
By José Luis Vilson
Haymarket Books, 2014

Badass Teachers Unite: Reflections on Education, History and Youth Activism
By Mark Naison
Haymarket Books, 2014

The Koch Bros: Libertarians for Daddy

Review of Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty
By Daniel Schulman
Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group, 2014

Spot-On After All These Years: Robert Tressell's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

We don’t think of philanthropists as ragged: louche, maybe even a tad shabby, as with
trust-fund hipsters or Palo Alto billionaires, but never ragged. In writing his early-twentieth-century British classic, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell (the pen name of Robert Noonan) wanted to drive home his point. The biggest benefactors of the rich are workers. His is a portrait of hard-pressed working people and their counterintuitive respect and political and economic support for their rulers.

Jogging our Memory

Review of  Savage Portrayals: Race, Media and the Central Park Jogger Story
By Natalie Byfield
Temple University Press, 2014

Adolph Reed's premature burial of the U.S. Left

Back in the day, (a cliché, I know) Adolph Reed wrote a waspish piece in the Village Voice, “Liberals, I Do Despise,” which made something of a splash and was hard to refute — this when the Voice was widely read, not a freebie and well-worth paying for — as he attacked a coterie of Clintonistas for “a politics motivated by the desire for proximity to the ruling class and a belief in the basic legitimacy of its power and prerogative.” He called it “a politics which,

Sanitation Workers: You Gotta Love Them

Review of Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City By Robin Nagle (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2013).

Rationally, we know garbage isn’t picked up by the faeries, but to much of the public, it might as well be. We “take out” the garbage, but who removes it?

Wealth and Power in the U.S Out of Whack

Growing Income Disparities ‘Danger to System,’ says Former Clinton Labor Secretary
(A mixed review of Robert Reich’s documentary ‘Inequality for All’)

Capitalism Gone Wild

Review of The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013

This American life is a mess, argues George Packer in The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. It’s a nation fraying, with core institutions from government and finance to housing, jobs and education dysfunctional or “unwound.”

AFL-CIO Convention Days 3 and 4: Inspiring Resolutions & Internal Tensions

[I blogged daily for The Indypendent from this week’s quadrennial AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles. This is my third blog. For my coverage from Days 1 and 2 of the convention, click here and here.] 

Fighting the Landlords from Stuy-Town to Detroit

Books reviewed:

Charles V. Bagli, Other People’s Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made (Dutton, 2013).

Laura Gottesdiener, A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home (Zuccotti Park Press, 2013).

Working People for Peace: The Real Story of Popular Opposition to the U.S. Adventure in Vietnam

[The following review of mine appears as Hardhats for Peace in the July 18 issue of The Indypendent, which calls itself with considerable justification "A Free Paper for Free People." An expanded version surveying a number of recent (and quite good) critiques of U.S. misadventures in East Asia from the Philippines to today, will appear in the forthcoming New Politics.]


Remembering Margaret Thatcher, with Loathing

     The execrable Maggie Thatcher, erstwhile British prime minister, passed on April 8 with much rending of clothing by her nation’s Right but with something approaching joy by much of the nation’s rest. The following sendoff appears in the Summer 2013 Democratic Left, minus its last graf slapping the endlessly slappable Slavoj Zizek for writing that the Left could learn from her.

Logos symposium on Labor

Logos, the online, on point and highly readable journal of modern society & culture features in its most recent issue a symposium on the future of US unions. In addition to a piece by me [“So Why Don’t We Have Better Unions?“] are contributions from Melvin Dubofsky, Bill Fletcher Jr., and Steve Early and Rand Wilson. All worth reading. Enjoy.

The True Story of Pascale Mauclair

Here is an extraordinary piece about Digger Murdoch’s New York Post harassing a teacher who was rated poorly on the city’s bogus teacher evaluation. When the Los Angeles Times printed the same slanderous tripe a year ago, based on the same crap methodology, the Los Angeles United School District teacher involved committed suicide. It was a big story then. This one is no different, except that no one’s taken their own life, yet. Wish I’d written it.

Occupy Wall Street and Labor: The Closest of Strangers

     A sign on a lower Broadway storefront window just one block south of Wall Street reads “I can’t afford a lobbyist, so I organize.” The sign, one of many put up by Occupy Wall Street activists, sits inside a cavernous street floor space the United Federation of Teachers lent gratis to OWS for storage and coordination. The UFT, like other city unions, can afford lobbyists—subsidized by its own members through voluntary contributions.

The Republican primary: garbage in/garbage out

     In his appreciation of the late Lucio Magri, the Italian Marxist and founder of the exemplary Il Manifesto newspaper, Perry Anderson tells the story in the most recent New Left Review of the trashing a young Magri took from Italian Communist Party elder Enrico Berlinguer for a speech Magri wrote that bordered on the substantive.

     “Magri,” Berlinguer said, “you have yet to learn that in politics one needs the courage of banality.”

They hoped for FDR; all they got was the "F"

[The following appeared as a contribution to a symposium on electoral politics in the September 2011 issue of Yankee Radical, DSA’s Boston-area socialist monthly. While the piece makes reference in places to the perspectives of a particular organization, its analysis is meant to apply to a broad swath of the US left as well.]

The Existential Robert Fitch

An overflow crowd at New York’s Brecht Forum on Sept. 18 commemorated the life of the late journalist, author, scholar, educator, activist, union organizer and frequent New Politics contributor Bob Fitch, who died in March after complications from a fall. Among the speakers were Bertell Ollman, Steve Bronner, Doug Henwood, Christian Parenti, Jonathan Fitch and NP‘s Michael Hirsch. Below are Hirsch’s remarks.

The Working Families Party: Stumping for Jesus

     An isolated Assembly race in underserved North central Brooklyn in an election off- year wouldn’t normally attract much interest — witness grudging coverage in The New York Times on the Saturday of the Labor Day weekend.