Author: Dan La Botz

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

James Baldwin, Stan Weir, and Socialism

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Raoul Peck’s powerful documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” which was nominated for an Academy Award, has brought the great writer James Baldwin (1924-1987) to a new generation of Americans who may have been unfamiliar with Baldwin’s life and writings. “I Am Not Your Negro” presented Baldwin as a powerful voice of the black liberation movement, but hardly mentioned his longtime commitment not only to full equality for black Americans, but also to socialism.

Baldwin wrote in No Name in the Street that he had been a "convinced fellow traveler" at 13 who had marched in the May Day parade and then became a "Trotskyite" by age nineteen. Too young to have been involved in Harlem’s Communist Party in the 1930s, he claimed to have been a member of the Young People’s Socialist League, but that has never been confirmed.

Reports on the Resistance: Tens of Thousands March for Science on Earth Day

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Tens of thousands, many of them scientists, joined the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22, in cities across the United States and around the world. There were some 400 marches in the US with crowds estimated at 20,000 in New York and Los Angeles, some 15,000 gathered on the Washington Mall, and 1,000 in Portland, Oregon. Other marches took place in hundreds of other cities around the world from London to Tokyo.

Reports on the Resistance: Tax Day Protests

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Tens of thousands of Americans in some 200 cities and towns from New York to San Francisco participated in “Tax Day” marches on Saturday, April 15 to demand that President Donald Trump release information about his tax payments. Some protestors marched at the White House and others at the Trump mansion at Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

Largely organized through Democratic Party groups like Indivisible, the Tax Day demonstrations were peaceful but spirited affairs. Protestors around the country chanted slogans such as “No more secrets, no more lies.” Many carried signs and banners reading “What are you hiding?” and “Show your taxes!” One sign read “King George didn’t listen to us either,” a reference to the taxation issues of the 1760s that led to the American Revolution of 1776.

Reports on the Resistance: A Day Without a Woman, For a Feminism of the 99%

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As millions of women around the world held meetings and conferences, rallied and marched to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, many also joined an International Women’s Strike, a Day Without a Woman, that in the United States had the character of an anti-Trump movement.

Reports on the Resistance: Rebellion in the Town Halls

ImageThousands of people showed up at town halls meetings across the United States in February to challenge Republican congressional representatives and senators on their plans for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as well as on issues from immigration, to the environment, to President Donald Trump’s relations with Russia. While this past week fewer protestors took to the streets where radicals have generally taken the initiative and established the tone of the Resistance, town halls swelled with more moderate but quite militant crowds who challenged Republicans and their politics.

Reports on the Resistance: Not-My-President Day, Day without Immigrants, and More Protests Planned

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Protests against Trump continue even as new ones are being planned for the future, from the recent Not-My-President Day and Day without an Immigrant protests, to the International Women's Strike planned for March 8.

Thousands of protestors in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and some two dozen other cities marched on Monday, Feb. 20 in opposition to President Donald Trump and his policies on what is usually called “President’s Day” but on this occasion was marked by many as Not-My-President Day. On what was in the Midwest and the East a beautiful spring-like day—thanks to climate change—protestors marched to protest Trump’s environmental and immigration policies and just about everything else that the new president stands for.

Reports on the Resistance: Hundreds Rally to Support Muslim Immigrants

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Hundreds of Brooklyn area residents crowded the Brooklyn Museum auditorium on the freezing cold night of the February 9 blizzard—a storm that had closed the City University system, the public schools, and disrupted public transportation—to hear leading figures, principally from the Muslim wing of the immigration rights movement, analyze Trump’s immigration policy and propose measures to resist.

From the Editors

The inauguration of Donald Trump as the president of the United States opens what we fear will be one of the darkest and most dangerous periods in American history since the founding of this journal in 1961.

Reports on the Resistance: Opposition, Protest, Resistance to Trump Muslim Ban – Day 2

ImageOpposition and resistance to Trump’s Muslim ban continued for a second day on Sunday, January 29 with more massive demonstrations in American cities, as some corporate CEOS as well as Republican and many Democratic politicians also spoke out against Trump’s Muslim ban. Democrats rushed to put themselves at the head of what have been many spontaneous demonstrations around the country. As Democrats race to make themselves the leaders and spokespersons for the movement, it is clear that the new movement will need to find its own voice.

Reports on the Resistance: Trump’s Muslim Ban Spurs Strong Resistance: Thousands at Airport Protests

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Thousands from New York City to Seattle went on January 28 to the nation’s major airports to protest President Donald’s Trump’s order banning for 120 days Muslim immigrants and refugees from seven nations, an order issued that same day. The protests, initiated by immigrant rights groups through social media, took place not only at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York—where it grew to several thousand—but also at Dulles in Washington, D.C., O’Hare in Chicago, and at the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports.

Cet article est également disponible en français.

This Changed Everything—Twice

Russia, Revolution, and Counter-revolution

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During the tumultuous years that followed the horrors of World War I, especially in the period of 1917 to the early 1920s, the Russian working class became an inspiration to workers around the world.

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Samir Amin’s Russian Campist Anti-Imperialism

ImageFor some time now, many of us have wondered how it is that a number of left-wing writers and some political organizations could support Vladimir Putin and the Russian government’s role in international affairs.

Trump Takes Office, Resistance Takes to the Streets

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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.

I See America Marching Again

[Spanish/French]

I see America marching again,
As we have marched so often.

Mass Protests Across Mexico against Gas, Electrical Price Increases

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Tens of thousands in every state in Mexico have for the last week joined protests against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government after it raised prices on gasoline by between 14 and 20 percent and electric rates by 4.5 percent.

The protests so far are not as well organized, as disciplined, or as large as the recent teachers’ strikes over the education reform law or the demonstrations in protest of the forced disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa Teachers College students, but the demonstrations against the gasolinazo are national in scope and involve broader sectors of society.

Who Would You Vote for in 1840? And Who Will You Vote for on Nov. 8?

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Imagine that it is 1840 and someone approaches you on the street and hands you a flyer for James G. Birney, the presidential candidate of the new Liberty Party. The flyer says that the Liberty Party opposes slavery. It is the only party that does.

The Democrats and the Whigs–the two parties of the two-party system of that time–supported slavery, not to the same degree perhaps, but neither party opposed slavery. The Liberty Party is new and small, tiny. It’s candidate Birney has absolutely no chance to win the election. But he stands opposed to slavery. Who will you vote for on voting day in 1840?

Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's Nov. 6 Election, and the Betrayal of a Revolution

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For many years now Nicaraguans on both the right and the left have referred to Daniel Ortega, a leader of the Sandinista Revolution of 1979, as a “dictator.” Now it appears that when country votes on November 6, he may succeed in becoming the country’s virtual monarch. Dan La Botz, author of the new book What Went Wrong? The Nicaraguan Revolution: A Marxist Analysis, asks here how the Nicaraguan revolution was betrayed and what ideas and decisions of the Sandinistas themselves were responsible for the betrayal.

Trump’s Sexual Assaults Spark Revival of Women’s Movement

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s bragging about his sexual assaults on women appears to be sparking a revival of the women’s movement.

Trump’s remark that he could “grab women by the pussy”—followed by more women coming forward to describe his sexual assault on them over many years—has led to social media protests and to demonstrations in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Trump’s outrageous remarks prompted women of all ages, races, and ethnicities who had been silent for years and even decades to speak out, sit-in, and protest. We seem to be at a “Women’s Lives Matter” moment and perhaps at the beginning of a new women’s movement.

Correction – Mexico’s Teachers Movement Facing Violence but Not Death Squads

Dear Readers,

On September 18, I wrote, and the New Politics website of which I am an editor, published an article titled “Mexico’s Teachers Movement; From Class War to Death Squads” that argued that three recent killing appeared to be the result of death squads targeting teachers. While the fact that the three killings took place is not in question, well informed readers in Mexico who have been involved in the teachers movement or in solidarity with it suggest these killings do not seem to be the result of death squads.

These readers argue that while the teacher who was killed may have been targeted for union activity, the other two killings may have had other motives having nothing to do with the union. These readers suggest that while some teachers have been murdered because of their involvement in the teachers movement, many killings that have taken place in Oaxaca, Chiapas, and in other states may have political motives, may be related to the drug cartel violence, or to other violence in the region. I have come to the conclusion that my readers are right and that this article should be corrected: death squads do not appear to be a trend at this time. 

I welcome and appreciate your comments and criticisms on the original article, on this correction and the issues raised.

In solidarity, Dan La Botz

In Putin’s Head: Book Review

ImageMichel Eltchaninoff. Dans la tête de Vladimir Poutine. Arles: Solin/Actes Sud, 2015. 171pp.

Michel Eltchaninoff’s prize-winning Dans la tête de Vladimir PoutineIn the Head of Vladimir Putin—is a fascinating examination of the development of the Russian president’s ultra-conservative and nationalist ideology from assuming the presidency in 2000 until today.[1] Eltchaninoff, the author of two books about Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky and many essays, might seem like an unlikely candidate to write an intellectual biography of the twenty-first century president Putin, but as it turns out, Eltchaninoff’s knowledge of nineteenth and twentieth century Russian philosophers makes him the ideal author, because that is where Putin’s ideas come from, Russia’s conservative, religious past.

Mexico’s Teachers Movement; From Class War to Death Squads

ImageMexico’s dissident teachers have been engaged in a strike against the Education Reform Law since May 16 of this year–four months! Their strikes of tens of thousands, led by the National Coordinating Committee (la CNTE), a caucus within the Mexican Teachers Union (el SNTE), have also engaged in protest marches, the blocking of highways and railroads, the commandeering of government vehicles, and the occupation of government buildings.

The government has responded by docking teachers’ pay, firing them, sending the police to beat them, and issuing warrants and arresting teacher leaders. One can only call what has gone on in Chiapas and Oaxaca and to a lesser extent in Guerrero and Michoacán class war.

Now there also appear to be death squads carrying out executions of teachers and their allies. So far at least three assassinations have taken place: a teacher, a parent, and a lawyer for the union. This is an ominous and very dangerous escalation of political violence.

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