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No Minority, No Majority. There Shall Just Be People.

12 Sep

Biko!

You are not forgotten.

Struggle. Resist. Live and Work for Justice.

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Scouring the News for Signs of Intelligent Life

4 Apr

Lots of coverage of the republican primaries out there. Few signs of intelligent life in that pile of smoking offal. Going to move on. There must be more important stuff going on. Mr. Fish strikes again

Oh, here we go: Chris Hedges has a good piece in Truth Dig about the NDAA – National Defense Authorization Act – and what a dangerous piece of legislation the NDAA truly is. Like the presidential authority to use drone weaponry to assassinate US citizens or our “enemies” anywhere in the world, this NDAA piece of legislation may look less scary to some in the hands of President Obama (I don’t know why that is? He’s pretty aggressive.) than it might look in the hands of a President Palin, but once presidential authority is asserted, it is seldom relinquished, so you have to look ahead at how the NDAA would work with President Santorum or the like. I don’t like.

Indefinite military detention. Hmm…

On another front SCOTUS Inc. came out with another 5-4 decision that says if you are arrested for any offense, no matter how minor, the jail is entitled to strip search you for a close visual inspection. A big Thank You to the 4 who voted against, but you lost and so did we.

The plaintiff in the underlying case Florence v. County of Burlington was strip searched twice after he was arrested for failure to pay a fine. The fine had been paid, the arrest should not have occurred, but two strip searches later, Albert W. Florence (a black man) was released. He was a passenger in his BMW when his wife was pulled over for speeding and the records search produced the erroneous arrest warrant matter.

hmm… sometimes the authorities simply get it wrong, right? Those things happen. No harm, no foul, says Justice Anthony Kennedy. At least no harm that he can see.

I monitor a national police oversight listserv and caught this story regarding the Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman shooting death that continues to build public outrage: The Elusiveness of Police Accountability.

There is something particularly scary about a cop wannabe packing a 9 mm weapon and patrolling a neighborhood. Judgment, training, – there are a lot of things missing in this community security package. But, the Atlantic Cities story tells the story of 18 yo Ramarley Graham, who was chased into his house by NY police and shot dead in the bathroom. He is reported to have been unarmed and in possession of a small quantity of marijuana. The point of the Atlantic Cities piece is that if Trayvon had been shot by a police officer instead of a cop wannabe, there would be a lot less news coverage of the event. That’s probably true. There is something really disturbing about the fact that Zimmerman continued to follow Martin after dispatch advised to stop. With Ramarley Graham and Trayvon Martin we appear to have two deaths that just didn’t need to happen.

We don’t know if Ramarley was wearing a hoodie when he was shot. That seems to be scary attire. I am wearing my hoodie every day now.

Here are some facts that I think are inescapable:

Justice is elusive. Handguns are ubiquitous. Armed men who think they need to keep the peace are dangerous to young black men.

My solution? Reduce the number of weapons in the community. Gun control. Buy back programs. Interference in the realm of handgun commerce. A big government type solution to a big public problem.

Yep, a like a little big government from time to time, but I am not too crazy about the NDAA and Scotus Inc.

Diversity, Equality, Class

1 Mar

My email buddy Austin Kelly gathers and distributes some really amazing stuff. Here’s something that I got from him today under Gender and Liberation:

Critique of Liberal Anti-Racism: A Way Forward or Regression on Race?
2009 DECEMBER 7

The following essay by Walter Benn Michaels appeared in the London Review of Books.

Here are some excerpts:

“My point is not that anti-racism and anti-sexism are not good things. It is rather that they currently have nothing to do with left-wing politics, and that, insofar as they function as a substitute for it, can be a bad thing. American universities are exemplary here: they are less racist and sexist than they were 40 years ago and at the same time more elitist. The one serves as an alibi for the other: when you ask them for more equality, what they give you is more diversity. The neoliberal heart leaps up at the sound of glass ceilings shattering and at the sight of doctors, lawyers and professors of colour taking their place in the upper middle class. Whence the many corporations which pursue diversity almost as enthusiastically as they pursue profits, and proclaim over and over again not only that the two are compatible but that they have a causal connection – that diversity is good for business. But a diversified elite is not made any the less elite by its diversity and, as a response to the demand for equality, far from being left-wing politics, it is right-wing politics.”

and

“Thus the primacy of anti-discrimination not only performs the economic function of making markets more efficient, it also performs the therapeutic function of making those of us who have benefited from those markets sleep better at night. And, perhaps more important, it has, ‘for a long time’, as Wendy Bottero says in her contribution to the recent Runnymede Trust collection Who Cares about the White Working Class?, also performed the intellectual function of focusing social analysis on what she calls ‘questions of racial or sexual identity’ and on ‘cultural differences’ instead of on ‘the way in which capitalist economies create large numbers of low-wage, low-skill jobs with poor job security’. The message of Who Cares about the White Working Class?, however, is that class has re-emerged: ‘What we learn here’, according to the collection’s editor, Kjartan Páll Sveinsson, is that ‘life chances for today’s children are overwhelmingly linked to parental income, occupations and educational qualifications – in other words, class.’”

Read the essay over at the London Review of Books.

**

Sex, Race and Class – Selma James

 

 

 

The left itself is largely responsible for narrowly defining working class politics. Historically, some seriously problematic marxist forces have limited the definition of working class politics to issues concerning white, male, industrial workers.

 

 

 

 

On the contemporary left scene we find many forces (even, or especially, self-labeled marxists and communists) who seek to right the wrongs of previous generations. While these efforts may be honest and genuine, they often fall far short of actually re-aligning theoretical paradigms of “class” and “struggle” in a positive direction. Often times, race & gender become atomized and separated from class in efforts to develop an intersectional approach.

Selma James’ classic piece “Sex, Race and Class” represents a serious analysis of the organic intersections of the often-mentioned triad of oppression. One need only read the first paragraph to sense it contains important insights into the contemporary struggle to develop a mixed gender, multiracial working class revolutionary theory and struggle.

. . . if sex and race are pulled away from class, virtually all that remains is the truncated, provincial, sectarian politics of the white male metropolitan Left.

Capitalism and the Left have mystified the real relationships between these categories, and it’s an important task for revolutionaries, particularly in the US, to understand the poverty of our current theory in order to begin pulling ourselves out of the self-imposed silos our theories have us incarcerated in.

Continues at: http://advancethestruggle.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/sex-race-and-class-selma-james/

The Power of Clicktivists! Really? Is there any power there?

15 Sep

Signed a petition this morning online through PDA to ask the super committee to save a trillion dollars by fixing Medicare Part D. The change requested would allow the Feds to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma instead of the current model. I haven’t studied this hard, but you don’t have to study much to know that the ability to negotiate prices is a good idea. It’s kind of free market stuff, isn’t it? Doesn’t the right love the power of the free market? Let’s see how far this thing goes. Senator Kyl has jumped off talking about savings from attacking Medicare fraud, but the CBO guy told him point blank, this approach does not address the deficit and tax changes needed.

I also responded to a request from the FCNL – Friends (quakers) Committee on National Legislation and sent the following letter to my Senator, Patty Murray:

I live in Chehalis, Wa and have been pleased to have you as my Senator.

In my lifetime I have watched the tax table leveled and it has had disastrous effects on the US economy and US politics. The well-to-do, the middle class, and the poor continue to pay their fair share. The “haves” and “have mores” as George Bush called them have had their tax burden greatly relieved and now we face a budget deficit that is a pretext for cutting essential government services that are important to the majority of Americans, but mean little or nothing to the have mores.

In addition to the tax structure tilted to the rich, there is a question of war profiteering and the failure to raise taxes to pay when this country goes to war as it has done too quickly in this century.

The Pentagon budget has doubled in the last 10 years–without even counting what our country has spent on the two wars. It now amounts to more than half of the money Congress appropriates to federal programs each year.

But the main problem is falling revenues and that related directly to the tax hatred and demagogery. A steep tax structure promotes investment in infrastructure, jobs and factories instead of second, third, and fourth homes for the captains of industry.

You are in a very difficult position. It seems you are the only woman on the Super Committee and perhaps this country’s needs more matriotism and less patriotism to turn it around. I send my thoughts to you with the prayer that you will stand larger than a single person on this committee and that you may turn the country in a new direction from your position.

Be strong, be well. Do wonderful things.

Sincerely,

I don’t have much time for this email activism, but I took a minute this morning. I am generally more directly involved in political action. I spend more time making signs and materials and engaging in political action than I do sending signing online petitions pleading for change in public policy. But I took a couple of minutes for this stuff this morning, mainly because FCNL asked me to take a minute.

The Friends, the Quakers, were the folks who ran the underground railroad moving enslaved humans to freedom when slavery was legal in part of our country. They probably wrote letters and signed petitions as well, but some of the friends of that era believed action was required.

We stand on the shoulders of giants. Will we stand? Do we stand for anything?

Which side are you on, boys and girls?

Be strong, be well, DO wonderful things.

News from the Stealth War Front

27 Aug

Wensday Media was asked if it could cover a meeting of Act For America (http://actforamerica.org/) in Chehalis on August 27th. We tried, but it was a hard slog. Here are some notes from the meeting and what they are thinking about:

A group of perhaps 30 people met to discuss their concern with a stealth war that is being waged against the United States. The group was entirely white, predominately male, and the average age is estimated to be 50+. I did not spot a single person who looked like they could be under 35 to 40 years of age.

It’s an interesting group who appear to share a concern about the the appointment and election of “devout muslims” to important government positions. There is also concern about devout muslim infiltration of the military and police forces. The speaker started with a recitation about the danger of the Muslim invasion and statement that when the Muslim population of an area increases beyond 25% that the Muslim population takes over, gets pushy and begins to implement Sharia Law. The speaker was quite clear that Sharia Law is meant to replace all constitutional law and is a completely different kind of law.

Act for America was reported to number about 170,000 people now across the United States with significant political influence through funding of a lobbyist in Washington DC who is knocking on the doors of the elected officials.

There was encouragement to make connections between Act for America and the Minutemen, the National Rifle Association and other groups with closely-aligned goals. American is under attack from radical Islam, from Iran, from Hamas. Europe is even worse, it can’t recover without a “shooting war” and that seems unlikely. There was some discussion that GOP candidate Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it. He has made comments in the debates that led some in this group to believe he does not see the Muslims as a threat to Constitutional law.

There was brief discussion of the threat of illegal immigration to the US, that we are under attack from many fronts, but the focus returned quickly to the threat of Hamas, Palestine and muslim extremists.

The speaker, Bill, was friendly, persuasive and articulate and made many clear statements about the threats we face, but the statements were striking and consistent in their lack of specifics. Statements about the implementation of Sharia law in communities in the US were not backed up with a single locale named where this has happened or is happening.

The group watched a video “Wall of Lies” on the territorial conflict between Israel and teh Palestinian people. This video was very well done, it was persuasive propaganda mixing current day footage of campus demonstrations for justice for Palestine, for boycotts of Israeli goods, with 50 and 60 year old quotes from Middle Eastern political leaders, with footage of Iranian demonstrations against the US and Israel and the inevitable footage of Adolph Hitler, the translation of Mein Kampf into Arabic and an attempt to establish some kind of axis of evil connection between the European Holocaust against the Jewish people and the current territorial conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people.

The meeting was well-organized, as was the speaker and the political material. The video was top shelf propaganda, well organized, edited and produced.

I am not sure how a person would go about opening a dialogue with this group to broaden their understanding of US/Israeli militarism, the influence and sway of US power in the regions of the world where US political leaders identify national security interests (I think these interests are indistinguishable from control of oil and mineral resources and the geopolitics of controlling those resources) and how strategic US interests invade the lives of other human beings on the planet. I would love to see this group and others like it exposed to a more rational analysis of Middle East politics from persons like Steve Niva, Peter Bohmer or Larry Mosqueda (to drop just a few names), but that exposure seems pretty unlikely.

Will post up some photos sometime soon, but they are pretty unremarkable.

Feeding the Homeless is a Crime

11 Jul

I think this guy has it figured out.

Organizing Part II

5 Jun

I posted the first 4 points about organizing here. This is my condensed presentation of the 14 pages, the full presentation that is available here. This website title – The End of Capitalism – suggests that the folks behind this project are thinking like I am. I think that unfettered capitalism, free market globalism, is an abject failure. Read and think carefully. I think that free market energy, style, human waves of fashion and style, free enterprise are forces like weather. They do good things if they are harnessed and fettered. Free market globalism, the elevation of the free market as an end in itself, the commodification of the natural world, the exploitation of people and nature that is a natural byproduct of unfettered, unregulated free market economy is a bad thing. Environmental degradation, exploitation of individuals are economic activities that can be very profitable. Regulation of free markets, of globalism, runaway capitalism must happen or we face a bleak future. There are powerful, minority forces working against regulation and for profit as the primary goal. I hope the end of that form of capitalism is coming.

Ok, back to the Organizing Points. I did the first four points in Part I. I expect this will take 3 parts, so here we go: Part II.

5. What Does Solidarity Mean, Especially with the Immigrant Justice Movement?

A. Solidarity is not just financial or administrative support of other people’s struggles but fundamentally recognizing the ways in which we all would benefit by the successes of movements of oppressed people

B. Demonstrating an active notion of solidarity where people with privilege don’t sideline themselves but instead endeavor the difficult task of both providing and respecting other’s leadership in the movement

C. Managing the conflict between political analysis and understanding of successful movement building strategies and letting local immigrant communities set the terms of their movement

6. What Is the State of the Struggle Today, Particularly Internationally

A. National liberation struggles are not the primary mode of struggle today because capitalist globalization has weakened the state as a means of achieving self- determination

B. “Three-way fight” politics argue that the struggle today consists of the global capitalist/imperialist ruling class (of liberal, moderate, and conservative persuasions), the revolutionary left, and the revolutionary right (al-Qaeda, neo-Nazis, etc.) See www.threewayfight.blogspot.com for background
C. Recognizing ideas about direct and participatory forms of democracy that arise from local and indigenous traditions of self-governance and self-management and the under- theorized state of the the struggle

7. How Do We Organize Simultaneously on Local, Regional, National, and International Levels?

A. Many activists express the desire to organize as a national or international movement, but are not certain how to make the connections.

B. We need to continue to make connections between groups that are arising and working toward closely aligned goals.

C. We can look at various organizations that have made headway with local, regional and inter/national organizing. These include Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) that is largely active on college campuses, Northeast Federation of Anarcho-communists (NEFAC) that is active in union organization in Boston and Montreal, and Project South, a Black training and leadership development group based in Atlanta, that was key to the 2007 US Social Forum.

The underlying piece at the End of Capitalism is from November 2009 so it is a little dated. The Social Forums and events like the April 2011 Power Shift conference may reflect the current best practice for organizing simultaneously at local, regional, national and international levels.

The solutions and changes that we desire require that we work in cooperative manner. With an open attitude toward groups whose ideas and tactics may make us uncomfortable, but whose visions and goals are closely aligned with our own. Liberals, progressives, radicals, whatever we choose to call ourselves are not a group that likes to walk in lockstep. We must demonstrate solidarity and resist a puritanical call for any distinct set of ideas or tactics that are mandatory or absolutely prohibited. I would suggest in this regard that points 3. C. and 3. E. are very important to keep in mind.

We must

3. C. Maintain relationships with other activists and groups who may not have engaged in the same tactics but who remained committed and sympathetic

3. E. Build mass movements where militant tactics can be present without dividing the movement

I don’t need to stress 3. D. about helping increase militancy because I am pretty mainstream in my radicalism. I am in touch with enough folks who share my visions and goals and are more militant in their tactics, so 3. D. is not critical to me.

I do not feel that I can tell the more militant that their tactics are wrong. We face police in riot gear at peaceful demonstrations as a regular event. We can get roughed up and arrested for dancing at the Jefferson Memorial. We face an electoral system that is wildly degraded now by unlimited corporate money and that continues to resist the accountability of paper ballots that can be used to make sure that votes are counted accurately. In this environment, I am not certain about how we should proceed, but I think we liberals, progressives, and radicals need to proceed together, in solidarity.