Author: Michael Hirsch

MICHAEL HIRSCH is a New York-based labor and political writer and a New Politics editorial board member.

Electoral Politics is a Socialist Priority, But It’s No Common Denominator


Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is singular on the left as being both a broad radical socialist organization, encompassing left social democrats, Marxists and even a smattering of anarcho-syndicalists, combined with a strong face toward electoral politics. But an electoral orientation per se is not and cannot be the common denominator of our work. It is true that without an electoral face, any political organization is hamstrung and those on the left who argue that support for any Democrat anywhere is treasonous paint themselves into a corner. Electoral politics on the level it can be rationally conducted is worth doing. That, for me, is not in dispute. Its place in our work is what is problematic. Thinking in terms of power is about more than electioneering.

May Day: Born in the USA


For generations, May Day, the International Workers Day celebrated by working people in more than 200 countries, was ignored in the United States, the country of its origin. In fact, the annual holiday is as American as cherry pie, commemorating as it does the 1886 nationwide general strike in which U.S. trade unionists — largely foreign-born — walked off the job in support of an eight-hour workday.

Trump Takes Office, Resistance Takes to the Streets


Donald Trump takes office  on January 20, setting up the most right-wing, racist government in modern American history, but he will not go unchallenged. That challenge is already in motion.

What labor should learn from Trump’s victory

Michael Hirsch, Saulo Colon, Murray Schneider, and Lois Weiner respond to an exchange between  Larry Cohen and Randi Weingarten and Leo Casey in New Labor Forum about what organized labor could and should have done differently so as to avoid Donald Trump’s victory.

A Diary of Protest for the Days to Come


Sarah Jaffe. Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt. New York: Nation Books, 2016. 352pp. $26.99

One might be tempted to read Sarah Jaffe’s book with a kind of archaeological nostalgia, to look upon it as a remnant of a bygone-era when the left had confidence in the gains it was making, before a meteor named Trump struck earth.

A Solid Trump Exposé That Gives Hillary a Pass


John K. Wilson. Trump Unveiled: Exposing the Bigoted Billionaire. New York: OR Books, 2016. 256 pp. 

November 8 is show time.  What will the time tell? The egregious Hillary Rodham Clinton will likely be elected president over the menacing tin pot Donald Trump. Clinton may be the shoddy Brand X, but corporate capital will sleep soundly in its bed with a Clinton presidency and even a Democratic Senate.  Working families will be screwed again, but with more finesse than under a solipsistic Trump diktat. Sure, Hillary’s evasions and saccharine pronouncements pale in comparison to Trump’s Orwellianisms, his fabrications and the unsubtle subtext of his real stance, to “Make America White again.” No wonder Hillary will win.  And by default. 

Isn’t political life at the top grand?

With Friends Like These…


Doug Henwood, My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency. O/R Books, 2016. 200 pages. Paperback, $15.

In introducing his 1959 novel Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs wrote that its title “means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”

True Confession: I’ve Lost that Bernie Feeling


I’m not feeling the Bern anymore. The Bern has gone away. The Bern has turned to heartburn, if not yet reflux.

Film Review: The Price We Pay


The figure of a gryphon, the legendary feral, clawed, winged creature that nests above the one-square mile City of London, Britain’s financial industry (akin to Wall Street, but with its own legal authority, too) is an apt symbol for an untrammeled center of global capital. A creature of prey, it is redolent as the guardian of ill-gotten, even murderous gain. What else is the financial center of the United Kingdom, which introduced the tax-free zone that modeled capital flight around the world?  The City predates the Cayman Islands or Switzerland as tranches for tax avoidance and is a main locus for starving the welfare state.

Bigotry 101: Why Haters Gonna Hate

ImageA review of The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists, by Stephen Eric Bronner, Yale University Press, 2014.

Bernie Sanders is a thoroughbred—why call him a stalking horse?


Voltaire wrote that “the best is the enemy of the good," but he cited it as a foible and not a redeeming practice.  Within hours of Bernie Sanders announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Party presidential nod on April 30th, in some warrens of the radical left, the long corrective knives were already out for the only socialist in Congress. Why? Because Bernie is just not good enough, they said. Criticism ranged from his being a faux socialist, a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton whose backing by the left would be a practical waste of a year that could be better spent building a movement. Politicking for a candidate who can’t win the nomination and who would be destroyed by corporate America and an avalanche of corporate funding if somehow he did was seen as a mug's game.  

They would be wrong.

Court-Sanctioned Corruption and Plutocracy in America

ImageReview of: Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, by Zephyr Teachout. Harvard University Press, 2014

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.

Model or Sui Generis? Comrade Kshama Sawant is Likely Both

ImageI’m still frozen in the moment. Has it really been 15 months since revolutionary socialist Kshama Sawant brought her unique brand of municipal socialism back to a major American city after winning an at-large seat in Seattle’s nonpartisan City Council race?

After the Fall: An Autopsy of the Midterms

Surveying the wreckage of his party’s 2014 election campaign, Howard Dean, on the November 9th Meet the Press, was candid, with such sound bytes as, ““Where the hell is the Democratic party …You got to stand for something if you want to win.” The Republicans’ message was, “We’re not Obama.” What was the Democrats’ message? “Oh well, we really aren’t either.”

Translation: “Get my message; we need a message.”

Sanders for President?

Image[This article is a reply to David Goodner's "Why Bernie Sanders Needs to Run for President—As an Independent."]

Dear David,

You want the excellent Bernie Sanders to run as an independent in the 2016 presidential. So do I!

Public Employees in New York

ImageReview of: Richard Steier, Enough Blame to Go Around: The Labor Pains of New York City’s Public Employees. Albany, New York: Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press, 2014. 304 pp. US$24.95  (paperback).

Two things I know to be true about Richard Steier. He is the best full-time reporter on the New York City labor beat. He is also the only full-time reporter on the New York City labor beat.

How Labor Can Save Itself

ImageReview of The Death and Life of American Labor: Toward a New Workers’ Movement,
By Stanley Aronowitz, Verso, 2014.

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


Sleeping Through the Pirate Raid

The mainstream media was never true to its pretension of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable—which was Gilded Age humorist Finley Peter Dunne’s point—but there were exceptions, and exceptional practices. “Accountability reporting,” or investigative reporting, is one of them.