Author: Dan La Botz

DAN LA BOTZ is a Brooklyn-based teacher, writer and activist. He is a co-editor of New Politics.

Nicaragua: Where Is The Rebellion Going?

ImageThe popular rebellion against the dictatorial government of Daniel Ortega, four-time president of Nicaragua, has been going on now for more than a month. And the Ortega government has continued its violent repression. In the last 47 days, it is reported that 104 people have been killed, while some have been arrested or tortured and others have gone missing. In one of the most atrocious events, government snipers fired on the May 30 “Mothers March” led by mothers mourning the murder of their children. Fifteen marchers were killed and scores wounded.

Nicaragua—Protest, Repression, Negotiations

What Happened to the Nicaraguan Revolution?

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The upheaval in Nicaragua that lasted from April 18 to April 21 and the repression that reportedly left 63 dead, 15 missing and 160 injured by gunfire, have both subsided for the moment. The protests halted after President Daniel Ortega announced the cancellation of his proposed changes in the social security pension law. Photographers were among those beaten. Other human rights centers and the Jesuit University of Central America in Managua as well as Nicaraguan newspaper accounts and discussions with people in Managua confirm many of these deaths and injuries.

Since April 22 Nicaraguans have participated in numerous marches, some raising the call for “Peace and Justice,” and many of the participants carrying placards calling upon President Ortega and his vice-president and wife Rosario Murillo to resign. On April 26 an enormous pilgrimage of tens of thousands called for peace and negotiation organized by the Catholic Church.

Are We on the Eve of Another Nicaraguan Revolution?

Nicaraguan Government Kills 24 – Students, Farmers Call for National Strikes

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The government of former revolutionary and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega has in the last few days killed at least 24 protestors who were demonstrating against sudden and drastic alterations in a new pension law, changes that would have adversely affected the incomes and lives of tens of thousands. Some 200 were arrested and 20 are missing, according to the National Human Rights Commission. Other protestors, many of them university students, were beaten by the police or by goons armed with pipes sent by President Ortega’s party, the Sandinista Front for the Liberation of Nicaragua (FSLN).

From the Editors

We wish our readers a Happy New Year, though we know that you take little joy in it, politically speaking. If we take no joy, we do sometimes find humor in President Donald J. Trump’s proclamations by Twitter, such as his claim that he is a “stable genius.” The current debate revolves around which of those two words is more ridiculous.

Trump and the Labor Movement

A Look Beyond the Immediate Damage

 

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We working people live in darkening times. When the Trump presidency ends in four years—if it does—we may no longer have an organized labor movement. As one of my colleagues, Ed Ott of the Murphy Institute, the City University of New York’s labor school, said to me, “We are at the beginning of the end of the U.S. labor movement based on a partnership with capital.” We are at the twilight of an era. Labor unions and collective bargaining stand to be swept away, and with them the institutions that have sheltered us in the workplace and provided us with a modicum of job security, living wages, health insurance, and pension benefits. 

Vivek Chibber’s "Road to Power" Is Not

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Vivek Chibber’s “Our Road to Power” published recently in Jacobin—oddly enough written as a commemoration of the Russian Revolution of October 1917—codifies a strategy for what is one of the dominant tendencies in the American left today: social democracy. The principal argument of “Our Road to Power” (a title chosen by Jacobin’s editors, perhaps alluding to German Social Democrat Karl Kautsky’s The Road to Power) is that a “ruptural strategy” is off the agenda. By “ruptural strategy” Chibber means one that is predicated upon a crisis of the economic and political system leading to the breakdown or to the overthrow of the state. Chibber believes that since the power of the state is so great today—because of its legitimacy, its coercive power, and its power of surveillance—a revolutionary strategy is ruled out. It would be, he says, “hallucinatory” to think otherwise.

On the One Hundredth Anniversary of Two Revolutions: Russia and Georgia, Bolshevism or Menshevism

Book Review

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Eric Lee. The Experiment: Georgia’s Forgotten Revolution, 1918-1921. London: Zed Books, 2017. 259 pages. Timeline. Notes. Index. (For further information see: http://www.ericlee.info/theexperiment/)

In his new book The Experiment: Georgia’s Forgtten Revolution, 1918-1921 the journalist and historian Eric Lee does two things. First, he tells the little known and complicated story of the Georgian Revolution and the short-lived independent state that it created.

Is Change Possible in Mexico?

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Mexicans, worse off than at any time in the last 100 years, are asking themselves as the July 2018 elections approach: Can Mexico change? Can an election change Mexico?

Mexico is a disaster. It has become increasingly violent, the economy grows too slowly to absorb the ever-expanding workforce, and wages are below those of China, though costs are more like those in the United States.

Herman Axelbank, Max Eastman, and the Documentary “Tsar to Lenin”

ImageThe Russian Revolution, the only—if only briefly—successful workers’ revolution took place in the era of photography and film, consequently thousands of hours of film footage from the revolutionary period existed. In the late 1920s, as the revolution’s red star was fading, a Russian-born man decided to collect as much as possible of the existing film—some of it shot by individuals, some by governments, some by new agencies, some by who-knows-who. Eventually, over 50 years this man collected some 271 motion picture film reels. He was a fanatic. Glad he was.

Leftist Candidate Jabari Brisport of DSA Makes Strong Showing in Brooklyn

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Jabari Brisport, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), made an extraordinarily strong showing in his first bid for the New York City Council. Running on both the Green Party and Socialist lines in Crown Heights, District 35 of Brooklyn where he grew up, Jabari won almost 30 percent of the vote, receiving 8,619 votes. He was defeated by Democrat Laurie Cumbo, who took 68 percent of the vote while the Republican Christine Parker got just 4 percent.

Jabari ran as a socialist in a diverse district with a mixed population of African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, orthodox and Hassidic Jews, upper middle class white newcomers, and young hipsters. The district has a population of 124,170, larger than many cities. The 2017 election saw one of the lowest turnouts in years. Only about 22 percent of the 5,053,842 registered voters in New York City as a whole cast ballots in the election.

Zapatistas Put Forward Indigenous Woman for President

ImageThe Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), which led an armed uprising in Mexico’s southern-most state of Chiapas in 1994, and which has since then spent its time organizing autonomous communities in that state, is now putting forward an indigenous woman candidate for president in the 2018 elections. The Zapatistas hold the Mexican government and the country’s political parties in utter disdain, both for their corruption and for their disregard for the people they supposedly represent. The Zapatistas also reject elections and voting on principle. So, while they are putting forward health worker María de Jesús Partricio for president, they are not actually trying to elect her. 

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

President for a Year?

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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

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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.

The 1997 Teamster Victory at UPS Twenty Years Later

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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

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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.

Sanctuary: In a Great American and International Tradition

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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.

The Fourth of July – Revolution and Counter-Revolution in America

ImageThe following is an excerpt from a book about Trump, The Establishment, and the Resistance, that will be published in French by Syllepse early next year. – Dan La Botz

The Fourth of July celebrates the launching of the American Revolution and the founding of the nation. Americans have long prided themselves on having the most democratic country on earth, a model for the world. Yet, while American politicians and the media today frequently praise the “founding fathers” of the United States for establishing the country’s democratic institutions, the truth is that nothing could have been further from their minds.

Marvin Mandell, Who Fought for Equality, for Life, and for Art

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In 1996, at the height of the culture wars, Marvin Mandell joined the battle, writing a long essay, “Canon on the Left,” in which he argued that the left should not allow conservatives to claim the literary canon. While he of course supported the expansion of the canon to include all of the writers of color, as well as the women and all of the others who had been neglected and excluded, he refused to allow the right to claim the great tradition of European literature. He concluded the essay with these words:

Trump: Political Crisis, Right-wing Policies, and the Resistance

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Donald Trump’s first six months as president of the United States has been bad in so many ways that it is hard to know where to begin.

From the Editors

Since Donald Trump has taken up residence in the White House, the country has faced a series of political controversies, a barrage of right-wing legislative and regulatory initiatives, a growing far-right movement, but also a broadening resistance from various sectors of society.

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