Notes on the Peaceful Transition of Power: The Continuity of Violence in America's Imperial Democracy | Bryant William Sculos
Analysis | February 2nd, 2017
In the weeks leading up to and the hours after Donald J. Trump's inauguration as President of the United States, we've seen the media (and by media I mean the major network television and print media like CNN and Washington Post, just to name a couple) repeat and glorify the so-called "peaceful transition of power" that Inauguration Day represents. President Barack Obama has been applauded for working with and speaking so respectfully about Donald Trump's transition team. Former US Secretary of State and former Democratic Party 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also been complimented for her near-complete silence during this period since the election. The supposed peaceful transition of power is often treated as the pinnacle achievement and representation of the greatness of the American political process, and the 2016-2017 instantiation has been no different.
Donald Trump and the Future: Where Are We Going and What Can Be Done? | John Ripton
Analysis | February 2nd, 2017
The victory of Donald J. Trump marks a challenging moment in the transition from fossil-fuel driven economy to sustainable energy resources. The transition to cleaner power began to take shape at the end of the last century, coinciding with gathering international scientific consensus on climate change at the Earth Rio sustainable development conference in 1992. The neoliberal agenda of international "free trade" agreements propelled by the Clinton administration, while perhaps not intended, set in motion extensive global investment that has placed greater pressure on resources and increased carbon in the atmosphere, among other environmental concerns. At the same time as scientific research demonstrated that human activity since the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century was affecting global warming, the neoliberal "free trade" initiatives led by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have allowed some of the largest U.S. corporations to ignore critical environmental concerns.
The Working Class, the Election, and Trump: An Interview with Sean Posey | Brenan Daniels
Interview | January 12th, 2017
Trump honed in on what he called "forgotten Americans," largely working class people in "flyover country," as it's often derisively called. Somehow Trump understood the enormous malaise that exists in wide swaths of America where local economies-and cultures-have disintegrated. He tapped a vein of populist rage and channeled it back into his campaign. It seemingly took everyone by surprise, especially the media and the political elite. It's important to remember how concentrated the media is now-mostly on the coasts around Washington, New York City, Boston, places like that. So it comes as no surprise that many journalists are deeply puzzled by Trump's rise. It's far less surprising to those of us rooted in what you might call "Trump Country."
Delusions Shattered: How Democrats Lost Claims to a Moral High Ground by Ignoring Obama's Transformation Into Bush | Jon Reynolds
Commentary | December 20th, 2016
When President Obama was sworn into office back in January 2009, and just a few months later agreed to "look forward" and disregard gross human rights violations committed by Bush officials (such as waterboarding, insect pits, solitary confinement, and more), they were quiet. When President Obama oversaw the brutal force-feeding of untried prisoners at a detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, they said nothing. When President Obama's mass-deportations of undocumented immigrants in the US outpaced deportations under his predecessor, they stayed silent. As the Nation reported, "To pay for the ballooning enforcement-first approach, the budget for immigration enforcement grew 300 percent from the resources given at the time of its founding under Bush to $18 billion annually, more than all other federal law-enforcement agencies' budget combined."
President Rodrigo Duterte's Killing Fields and People's War in the Philippines: An Interview | Andy Piascik
Interview | December 20th, 2016
For 22 years, Duterte was mayor of Davao City, the largest urban complex in Mindanao island, Philippines. TIMEmagazine dubbed him "the Punisher" for allegedly organizing the death-squads that eliminated drug dealers and petty criminals via "extra-judicial killings" (EJK)-no arrests or search warrants were needed, the suspects were liquidated on the spot. That's the modus operandi today. If Davao City became the safest or most peaceful city in southeast Asia, it was also called "the murder capital" of the Philippines.
American Gracchi | Dr. Nicholas Partyka
Analysis | December 7th, 2016
The crisis of 133 B.C. certainly seemed highly significant to those involved in it and those observing it. However, it was to take on much larger significance as time went on. For this crisis signaled the rising momentum of social, political, and economic forces that would undermine the Roman republic within a century. For only thirty years after the crisis of 133 B.C. (and even fewer years after the crisis of 121 B.C.) would be born the man who rode highest on the tide of these forces, and who would ultimately kill the republic, Gaius Julius Caesar. Thus, the crisis of 133 B.C. has come to be seen as the opening salvo in the process that results in the fall of the Roman republic, and the rise of the Roman Empire.
Slavery, Democracy, and the Racialized Roots of the Electoral College | Christopher F. Petrella
History | November 23rd, 2016
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the provenance of the Electoral College, to paraphrase Ronald Takaki, is grounded in questions of racialized 'insiderism' and 'outsiderism.' To this end, the Electoral College is responsible for the fact that four of the first five U.S. presidents were white, slave-holding men from Virginia. The "Virginia" variable is key here, as Virginia held the largest population of enslaved black men, women, and children from the inception of the "peculiar institution" until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.
'Our Revolution' is Not a Revolutionary Movement | Dan Arel
Commentary | September 29th, 2016
On August 24, Bernie Sanders officially launched his post-presidential bid project, Our Revolution. Hoping to build on his primary success, Our Revolution looks to endorse and financially support down-ticket Democratic candidates around the country. This is part of the vision Sanders laid out about reforming, or in his words "revolutionizing" the Democratic Party. It offers an ambitious, and a somewhat respectable goal, to fight to push a center-right party further to the left. However, as many have noted Sanders himself while being much further left than his Democratic counterparts, is not the bastion of leftist politics the media, and many of his supporters think he is.
Epistemological Apathy and Egomania: The Not-so Mysterious Case of Donald J. Trump and the Implications for American Democracy | Bryant William Sculos
Analysis | September 29th, 2016
Over the past several months, there have been a number of articles written exploring how to typologize Donald Trump ideologically. Is he a fascist? Is he a conservative? A populist? A liberal? A sexist racist xenophobe? Some irrational combination of all of them? A cursory look at the comments sections of Internet new sites, the blogosphere, and social media shows that there are a variety of preferred terms used by people responding to the incalculably racist, bigoted, hateful, and often wildly outlandish or incoherent comments and policy proposals of firebrand Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. Most of these labels, while probably accurate, are vulgar and not worth repeating here, but two of them stand out as potentially having a great deal of accuracy and indeed political significance.
From Solidarity to Trump: White Working-Class Culture in the Rust Belt | Michael McQuarrie
Commentary | September 29th, 2016
Before embarking on my current career, I worked as a labor organizer, mostly in West Virginia and Ohio. In the course of doing that work, I probably did two thousand "housevisits" with people I was attempting to organize. The purpose of these meetings was to understand people's motivations and interests in order to assess how they would vote in a union recognition election (as the union president once said to the organizers: "I don't care if you lose, I care if you can't count") and assess their leadership potential for either the union's organizing committee or for management's anti-union efforts.
Ending the Unconstitutional Assault on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement: A Call To Action | Mona Alsoraimi-Espiritu
Commentary | July 26th, 2016
As an educator at an urban core institution I readily accept the responsibility of teaching social justice themes in my courses. As students begin to understand the injustices that shape their own worlds, they crave solutions. "So what can we actually do?" "Have our idealistic teachers been lying to us about being able to change the world?" As they learn tools to change their realities, they become empowered. But what happens when politicians take those tools away from activists? Recent legislation designed to "chill" activism undermines the work of social justice educators, parents and activists everywhere. It sets a precedent in which a small group of politicians decide what we can't boycott based on their own political or religious ideologies.
Democracy, Brexit Stage Left: A Socialist Critique of the Brexit Vote | Bryant William Sculos
Analysis | July 19th, 2016
How do we understand an instance when a demos votes for something that is largely motivated by anti-democratic sentiments and produces anti-democratic results? Now, imagine a similar scenario but the people doing the voting have little to no say in the process leading up to voting, and some of the people who will likely be most dramatically harmed by the outcome lack both a vote and any power in the process. This second scenario is the kind of "democracy" that we're witnessing in the Brexit referendum-a democracy hardly worth the name. In Marxist theory, this first scenario is typically categorized as an instance of false consciousness-when peoples' subjective perceptions of their interests are different than their objective class-based interests (of which they are ostensibly unaware). This is often where the role of communist party and leftist intellectuals comes up; their role being to cultivate a class consciousness among the oppressed workers so that their subjective and objective interests are identical.
Why There Will Be Another Trump: Focusing on the Cause, Not the Symptom | Sean Posey
Commentary | July 12th, 2016
June was not kind to Donald Trump. After a brief bump in the polls when he secured the status of presumptive nominee, The Donald's numbers began their march to the basement. He now finds himself in a deeply unenviable position. An increasing number of pundits (and, judging by the numbers of them avoiding the upcoming party convention in Cleveland, politicians) are suggesting Trump's candidacy could be a disaster on par with Republican Barry Goldwater's landslide defeat in 1964 or Democrat George McGovern's in 1972. Writing off Trump might be presumptuous at this point (since the media and other experts missed almost every salient facet of Trump's seemingly improbable rise). Yet even if his campaign encounters electoral bankruptcy in November, the specter of another Trumpian figure emerging in the future remains highly probable.
Was Super Tuesday Rigged? | Jerry Kroth
Commentary | June 22nd, 2016
Social scientists have long known that releasing poll information early, before polls have closed, has two effects: first it decreases voter turnout by about 12 percent, and it increases the bandwagon effect, where people hop on and vote for the winner, by about 8 percent. On the morning of Super Tuesday, before anyone had voted, the Associated Press released a story that Hillary Clinton had already won. She was the "presumptive presidential nominee" and the victor. AP had made that announcement because of a super delegate count and decided she already beat Sanders. Other media outlets then piggy-backed on this story, and virtually every American woke up that morning to headlines that Hillary had won-and remember, that is before anyone voted on Super Tuesday.
Irrelevantly Delegitimizing: What if the Transcripts Looked Like This? | Bryant William Sculos
Commentary | May 20th, 2016
I'm not suggesting that this is anything like what Hillary Clinton's speech(es) to Goldman Sachs actually sounded like. I'm not even suggesting that this satirical speech actually represents her positions. What I want to suggest is that Hillary's base of support, which is the center and right wing of the Democratic Party, would be minimally affected if the speeches looked anything like this. The people who support her are misguided pragmatists, free-traders, liberal imperialists, Third Wayers, and those who've otherwise given up on the prospect of any kind of significant progressive change happening in American politics.
Safe States, Inside-Outside, and Other Liberal Illusions | Howie Hawkins
Commentary | May 20th, 2016
Bernie Sanders is on his way to an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the candidate of War, Wall Street, and Wal-Mart. Sanders ran as a New Deal Democrat, but he will soon be campaigning for a plain old corporate New Democrat. To keep his troops engaged through this transition, Sanders will stage a few rules and platform fights at the convention. But rule changes are irrelevant to the real party power structure of candidate organizations and their corporate investors. Any platform planks won will be irrelevant as well. No corporate Democrat will feel bound by them. Faced with that demoralizing prospect, some Sanders supporters are recycling failed old strategies in an attempt to salvage Sanders' "political revolution" without opposing the Democratic Party.
The Turn-Around Guys: White Hetero-Patriarchy, Wealth, Paternalism, and the Willful Destruction of Public Education | Jim Burns
Analysis | March 16th, 2016
The Republican Presidential Primary, a bacchanal of cruel absurdity, hasn't failed to disappoint as an illustration of what Henry Giroux has called America's descent into madness. Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, certainly no liberal, in a 2013 article with Thomas Mann presaged the madness and characterized the Republican Party as "a radical insurgency-ideologically extreme, scornful of facts and compromise, and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition." In response to repeat train-wreck performances of middle-aged men behaving like pre-adolescents, which at on point actually descended into taunts about penis size, Mitt Romney, himself a two-time failed Republican presidential hopeful, has anointed himself the sage voice of Republican establishment reason. Romney took to the airwaves of the corporate media, itself complicit in the America's embarrassing anti-political theater of the grotesque, to, in the words of Rebecca Solnit, "mansplain" that Donald Trump is a "phony" who is "playing the American public for suckers."
A Nation at a Crossroads: How the United States Can Begin to Establish a Moral Compass Worthy of a Future | Jeff Monson
Commentary | February 15th, 2016
For a long time, most Americans have been quick to defend their country from outside criticism, whether it's come from adversaries or allies. That's because, despite the United States' shortcomings, most Americans believe it's still the best country in the world. But I have a strong sense that more Americans have become disillusioned with their country in the past few years than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The issue is whether the United States has lost its moral compass.
American Cartel: How America's Two Major Parties Helped Destroy Democracy | Frank Castro
Analysis | February 2nd, 2016
A little over two decades ago, on December 2, 1993, the principle engineer of Colombia's infamous cocaine empire, Pablo Escobar, was killed while fleeing police on the barrio rooftops of his hometown, Medellin. Before he died he had amassed an organization of state-like power, challenging, in fact, the government of Columbia itself over the question of its extradition policies-and winning. Dubbed the Medellin drug cartel, his international cocaine operation grew to prominence functioning similarly to the corporations which dominate today's global economy. Escobar knew, by controlling every possible link in the drug chain from production to retail, he could corral suppliers under a single umbrella, dictate the price of his product, and severely limit any would-be competitors from challenging his power.
Fascist Performance Art: Looking Further at Augustus Sol Invictus and Trends in the Far-Right | Shane Burley
Commentary | January 18th, 2016
Normally I would not be inspired to write something in response to someone else, which is why this is intended to stand on its own. On January 11th, an article was published by me called Imperium and the Sun, which outlined the fascist motifs in the Senate run of Florida Libertarian Party candidate, Augustus Sol Invictus. Scarcely a couple of days after its publishing Augustus sent us a letter and issued a statement about the article, mainly thanking us for doing a critical look at his campaign in a substantial way.
Organize or Die: Never in the History of the World has an Election Destroyed a System of Oppression | Jean Allen and Frank Castro
Analysis | January 18th, 2016
Vote or Die. That's the dichotomy rap mogul P. Diddy popularized back in 2006 in an effort to marshal the nation's youth to the ballot box on election day. Fast forward two presidential elections later, as the American political machine gears up once again, how does Diddy feel now? In a recent interview at Revolt's music conference the former star spoke plainly about his previous efforts and, in particular, on the issue of voting, saying: "We started Vote or Die, and the whole process was all full of shit. The whole shit is a scam." He went on to add, "At the end of the day, I'm not telling you not to vote… I'm saying be a realist and know that they're motherfucking kicking some bullshit up there."
Libertarian Fairy Tales: The Bundy Militia's Revisionist History in Oregon | Aaron Bady
Analysis | January 11th, 2016
Though actual historians would quibble with how the militia movement understands American history, the Bundy family has justified what they are doing by evoking a distinctly 18th-century style of American patriotism. Because the land and its resources belong to the people, and because a tyrannical government now conspires to take it from them-which they say is specifically and intentionally an effort to reduce free men to slaves-the free people of America have the right and even the moral obligation to take a stand against that government. "We're out here because the people have been abused long enough," as Ammon Bundy put it; "their lands and resources have been taken from them, to the point where it's putting them literally in poverty."
Imperium and the Sun: The Strange Case of Augustus Sol Invictus and the New Right | Shane Burley
Commentary | January 11th, 2016
In a world where Donald Trump has mobilized the fringes of the neo-fascist right-wing as a foundational base, then used this boost to dominate the GOP race, maybe it should not be a surprise that ripple effects are being felt inside of regional races often dominated by Beltway names. It may sound hyperbolic to say that a leading Florida political candidate comes from a backyard soaked in the blood of goats and is calling for "LSD and sorcery," but this time it is not a Vice piece of pan-irony.
The Black Working Class and the Early Civil Rights Movement | Devon Douglas-Bowers
History | December 7th, 2015
The Civil Rights Movement isn't just viewed as a struggle that was overall peaceful, with the emphasis being generally put on non-violent actions and figures such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., but also a movement that was organized mainly by middle-class individuals and focuses on the large struggles of the 1960s. In promoting this narrative, it ignores the working-class and how much of their struggles formed the beginning of what would become the Civil Rights Movement. Two examples can be found in labor and in teaching.
Challenging the Prisons: An Interview with the Free Alabama Movement | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Interview | December 7th, 2015
Free Alabama Movement is a prisoner's comrade's solidarity organization which advocates the self-addressing of our struggle of human rights dignity and respect while serving a debt to society in Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). Our motto is to "Educate, to Elevate, to Liberate". We pride ourselves in presenting our activism work in a peaceful & non-violent manner. Our organizing planning tactics and style of implementing strategies for effective protest, work stoppages, and shutdowns have been radical and successful thus far in our work.
Seattle Doubles Down on Socialism: On the Re-election of Kshama Sawant | Arun Gupta
Commentary | November 10th, 2015
The race between Seattle City Council Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative party and her challenger, Seattle Urban League President and CEO Pamela Banks that attracted national attention and set records for nearly $1 million in funding was over before it began. In August Sawant handily won a five-candidate primary, and Banks came in second after business interests had united behind her as their best hope to unseat the socialist who played the central role in Seattle's $15 minimum-wage bill and is now taking on skyrocketing housing costs in the Emerald City. As the first results trickled in on election night, November 3, showing Sawant leading 53 percent to 47 percent, Banks delivered the rote non-concession concession, "I am proud of the race that we ran," and thanked three City Council members by name who coached her through her first race. Banks' son, his eyes cast down, wrapped her in a full-body embrace as the enthusiasm of a few score supporters leaked out of a small coffee shop in the Capitol Hill neighborhood the two candidates were vying to represent.
One Bank to Rule Them All: The Bank for International Settlements | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Analysis | October 22nd, 2015
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is an organization that is shrouded in mystery, mainly due to the fact that the majority of people don't even know of its existence. According to the BIS itself, the main purpose of the Bank is to "to promote the cooperation of central banks and to provide additional facilities for international financial operations" and "act as trustee or agent in regard to international financial settlements entrusted to it under agreements of the parties concern." This means that the BIS is to have the central banks work with one another to facilitate international operations and to oversee any international financial settlements.
What Time Is It?: Black Lives Matter, The Gary Convention, and Electoral Politics | Sean Posey
Analysis | September 21st, 2015
The social media presence of Black Lives Matter (founded by three black women: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi) quickly spread to the streets during the community response to the murder of another black man, Michael Brown, in the distressed suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. At least five hundred activists, all drawn by the idea of manifesting the importance of Black Lives Matter in the real world, cut their teeth during the Ferguson actions. This new freedom ride brought together a wide variety of men and women who would carry the lessons of Ferguson on as the tide of police killings of African Americans continued to garner national attention.
Trumph of the Will: Taking Donald Trump's Fascism Seriously | Justin C. Mueller
Commentary | September 4th, 2015
The GOP presidential candidacy of Donald Trump has been seen by many as a hilarious farce. How could this former reality TV star, a multiply-bankrupt billionaire, an all of a sudden family-values champion with four failed marriages, whose official politics have shifted loudly with the political winds NOT be seen as a ridiculous indictment of the spectacle of American electoral politics? As some have noted, his very appeal to some people is in his willingness to say things that normal politicians just don't usually say… at least, out loud. As several commentators have observed, however, Trump is simply not funny any more. What has changed?
False Gods: The Truth About BRICS | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Interview | August 19th, 2015
No, these institutions do not view themselves as competitive. It is only various media pundits who have speculated that these new banks are in fact some sort of challenge to the so-called "Washington consensus." What none of these experts has bothered to report (for obvious reasons) is the remarkable fact that the Vice President of the NDB is also an Executive Board member of the IMF , who then went on to pledge cooperation and joint action between the NDB and IMF. Also missing from this narrative is the fact that the NDB's chief, Kundapur Vaman Kamath, is a former staffer of the supposed NDB "rival" Asia Development Bank. Or there's Jin Liqun, widely tipped to be the head of the AIIB, who also happens to be a former Vice President of the Asia Development Bank and alternative Executive Director of the World Bank.
Socialism and Electoral Politics in the US: An Interview with Mimi Soltysik | Devon Douglas-Bowers and Colin Jenkins
Interview | July 30th, 2015
The campaign I will be running will not be about votes, will not be about ballot status, and will not be about revenue raised. It will primarily focus on the unique media opportunities that are presented during a general election. Given the Bernie Sanders candidacy, it may be reasonable to expect that any candidate from a democratic socialist organization might see enhanced opportunities to discuss socialism from an explicitly anti-capitalist perspective. Failure to take advantage of those opportunities in this general election would be a crucial mistake, in my opinion. I am not a fan of respectability politics. It doesn't resonate with me or many of the others who I have spoken with throughout my time as an organizer.
Questioning the Left: An Interview with Gregory Smulewicz-Zucker and Michael J. Thompson | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Interview | July 30th, 2015
We agree that the problem is not solely with the academy. It is important to look at the academy because the kind of work that is done in the academy is, in part, often a reflection of what people think they can achieve on the ground. The main issue seems to be that moral revulsion has supplanted the critique of social mechanisms that produce the problems that outrage people. It is also important to stress that moral revulsion is not a substitute for, nor an equivalent of, political action and political strategy. The key, as we see it, is to understand that politics is about shaping not only the mentality of citizens and the norms of culture, but more crucially about organizing the legitimate power of the state to enforce laws that prevent social injustice and expand the horizon of social justice.
The Question of Benghazi: An Independent Investigation Into the Attack on the US Embassy | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Analysis | July 8th, 2015
Immediately after the attacks on the US embassy in Benghazi, the Obama administration began pushing a narrative based on a video. The official narrative was that "The violence began around 10 p.m. Tuesday amid a protest by the radical Islamist group Ansar Al-Sharia against a film mocking Islam's prophet. Four hours later, the consulate was destroyed, its walls blackened by shooting flames." The following week, on September 18th, Press Secretary Jay Carney stated that "Our belief based on the information we had was that it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo and the video that - and the unrest in Cairo that helped - that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere."
Damn the Debt: Lessons and Tactics from Debt Resistance Movements | Devon Douglas-Bowers
History | May 5th, 2015
An active debt resistance movement is seizing hold across the United States. Currently, the debt strikers number over 100 students who are refusing to pay back the student loans they borrowed to go to the now-defunct for-profit Corinthian Colleges. The move has attracted media attention and could potentially provide a platform for a larger student debt movement to expand from here. However, students of history take note: this isn't the first time there have been debt resistance movements in the United States. And the lessons we learn from prior movements can just as easily be applied to today's situation.
Ted Cruz and the Racist, Paranoid Id of the Right | Eoin Higgins
Commentary | April 10th, 2015
With his quixotic bid for the Presidency now official, Ted Cruz has attained semi-divinity within the extreme right wing of American politics. There's no way he'll get the nomination, of course. The gatekeepers of the Republican Party will see to that, much as they saw to it that Rick Santorum's come from behind surge fell limply aside in 2012. But Cruz's base will make the primary fight nasty. They see themselves as the real bearers of the right-wing standard. And they have God on their side. Cruz and his base see the rest of the Republican Party as sellouts and political cowards. The term RINO- Republican In Name Only- is used for anyone of the party in the Congress who even feints at a compromise with the President or the Democrats. The base has swallowed whole the racism and paranoia to the point that any compliance with what they perceive as the "one world, non-white government" is literally treason against their view of the United States.
The Internal Struggle: Battling Oppressive Tendencies in Radical Spaces | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Interview | March 24th, 2015
I think it is typically, generally, privilege (and white-male anarchists) clouding the analytical and emotional lens of those downplaying/ignoring sexism and racism. Many if not most white western anarchists seem to come to anarchism through a processes of de-conditioning themselves from the values and perceptions imbued in to them from the dominant culture often it's a process, an exponential shedding of negative, bigoted, privileged sensibilities and ideals, which is not to say downplaying racism, sexism or any other oppression is okay/excusable. I'm not suggesting it's incumbent for anyone to have patience with those express or retain bigoted and insensitive views.
Disproportionate Representation: A Look at Women Leadership in Congress | Cherise Charleswell
Analysis | March 5th, 2015
Political representation is defined as the election of officials, who then stand in for, and speak for a group of their constituents in the legislature, for a set period of time. Unfortunately moneyed interests, the threat of being "primaried" by the tea party lunatic fringe, and other factors have dismantled this process. Over the last few years, and certainly for most of the Obama Administration, Congress has had a low approval rating. So, much so that they have been nicknamed the "Do Nothing" Congress. These elected officials have been voting in lock-step with each other, and often opposite the opinions and desires of the American people.
On the Left/Right Paradigm, Capitalism's Grow-Or-Die Imperative, and Murray Bookchin | Ursula Le Guin
Commentary | February 20th, 2015
"The Left," a meaningful term ever since the French Revolution, took on wider significance with the rise of socialism, anarchism, and communism. The Russian revolution installed a government entirely leftist in conception; leftist and rightist movements tore Spain apart; democratic parties in Europe and North America arrayed themselves between the two poles; liberal cartoonists portrayed the opposition as a fat plutocrat with a cigar, while reactionaries in the United States demonized "commie leftists" from the 1930s through the Cold War. The left/right opposition, though often an oversimplification, for two centuries was broadly useful as a description and a reminder of dynamic balance.
Demonstrating Their Determination In Greece | Sarah Levy
Commentary | February 20th, 2015
The Sunday night (2/15/15) gathering in Athens felt more like a celebration than a demonstration. For hours, more than 15,000 people packed Syntagma Square, the plaza in front of parliament building, and the surrounding streets in support of the newly elected government as it continued with negotiations with Eurozone government officials over Greece's massive debt and against the policies of austerity. The February 15 rally followed a 20,000-person-strong turnout the previous Wednesday night--on both days, there were similar demonstrations in the Greek cities of Thessaloniki, Patras and Volos, as well as Crete and other islands.
Socialist Unity and the Zeitgeist | Curtis Hansoni
Commentary | February 12th, 2015
In the preface to the 1847 German edition of "The Communist Manifesto", Marx and Engels noted that in the 25 years since the Manifesto was written, "although in principle still correct", it was "antiquated, because the political situation has been entirely changed, and the progress of history has swept from off the earth the greater portion of the political parties there enumerated.". They further note that due to the historical nature of the Manifesto even by 1847 they had no right to alter it. Engels updated this preface again in 1888, five years after the death of Marx, and noted that if it were written today it would be worded quite differently, noting for example the "gigantic strides of modern industry" as well as lessons from the Paris Commune. He also credits Bakunin with the Russian edition of the Manifesto.
From Behind Closed Doors: The Insidious Nature of Traditional (Corporate) Think Tanks and Non-Profits | Ryan MacLeod
Analysis | February 6th, 2015
The Center for an Urban Future (CUF), a small independent and non-profit public policy think tank located on Wall Street that focuses on "…highlighting the critical opportunities and challenges facing New York and other cities, and providing fresh ideas and workable solutions to policymakers" (Center for an Urban Future), exhibits many of the unsavory characteristics associated with other self-interested organizations. I served as a research assistant with the organization between August and December of 2014. When offered the position of research assistant, I was very excited about the possibility of amassing research experience while simultaneously helping poor and disadvantaged New Yorkers. However, I quickly became somewhat disillusioned with the organization. While steadfastly against the nefarious actions of the financial institutions in the lead up to the financial crisis, working at a firm physically located on Wall Street imbues this or any organization with an added sense of prestige. I joked that I was working on the "good part of Wall Street," where people fought for the poor and working class.
Is SYRIZA Radical Enough? | Ed Rooksby
Analysis | January 27th, 2015
It would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but a party of the radical left is on the cusp of power in an EU country. The latest opinion polls indicate that Syriza will triumph in the Greek national elections to be held on Sunday and although it may not win an absolute majority in parliament it would (assuming it can find coalition partners) certainly be the dominant force in any coalition government that emerged. Unsurprisingly, the imminent prospect of a left government committed to breaking with the brutal reign of austerity has alarmed the powerful within and beyond Greece. In a thinly veiled attack on SYRIZA, for example, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, recently warned Greeks about electing 'extreme forces' into power and suggested, rather in the manner of a threat, that they ought to consider 'what a wrong election result would mean for Greece and the Eurozone.'
We Are the Insurgency: An Interview with Abolition | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Interview | January 27th, 2015
We stuck with our refusal to compromise, turned to the tradition of abolitionists before us, and encoded this principle in our manifesto's first line: "Abolitionist politics is not about what is possible, but about making the impossible a reality." Of course, in our own lives, we are always caught up in compromises-buying commodified goods made through exploited labor, legitimating the settler colonial state through obeying its laws, etc. But why should we let our personal compromises bleed into our radical projects? The title, Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics, also signals this 'no compromises' fanaticism of our approach.
From Dublin to Detroit: We say Water is a Right | Becca Bor
Commentary | January 15th, 2015
2014 WAS a year of struggle in Ireland against water charges. The Irish have been suffering under a draconian regime of austerity since the Euro crisis erupted in 2009. The much hated troika, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, forced Ireland to borrow 85 billion euros in a bailout deal. The levies and taxes brought in as part of the bailout have impoverished the Irish working class for the past five years. Yet, each year the Irish government has dutifully paid back the bond holders, while wages and pensions have been slashed, so much so that public-sector wages have been cut by a massive 20 percent in five years.
Anarchism and Political Non-engagement | Jordan Shanti
Commentary | December 19th, 2014
As an anarchist, being politically engaged looks very little like the way most people understand political engagement. Political engagement typically brings to mind all kinds of activism, handshakes with the rich and powerful, and emotional speeches about why some candidate or policy is the ultimate good, but anarchists don't like to play that game. It's a losing game for all parties and for every living being on this living planet. Anarchism precludes something wholly different from political engagement, and that is political non-engagement. Under a system which dominates and oppresses all aspects of our lives, all acts have been rendered political. Where you buy your food, who you bank with, what clothes you wear, what shoes you wear, where you work, how you worship, these basic aspects of life are all deeply political - perhaps even a great deal more political than the ballot you cast or the petitions you sign.
Waking Up America: An Interview with AmericaWakieWakie | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Interview | December 19th, 2014
I chose the name America Wakie Wakie because I just think the majority of the United States needs to wake the fuck up. Admittedly I was a bit more patriotic 4 years ago, so I might have named it something different if I had started the blog today. The "Wakie Wakie" part though comes from a scene I once saw on a television show called Titus. It wasn't a good show, but I was a teenager and I watched it for some reason. In the show the main character was this custom car shop owner who had a REALLY dysfunctional - aka, probably a white supremacist hetero-patriarchal capitalist - family. To highlight this dysfunction the show would feature the main character, Titus, in flashbacks as a teenager where he would look exactly the same as in the present but with a mullet wig. In one flashback he was lying in bed when his father tells him to get up, which he doesn't. The father then throws a big bowl of spaghetti on Titus' face and taunts him with the words "Waaakkie Wakkkie". I don't know why, that's just always stuck with me.
Ferguson Revolts and Beyond: Is Property Worth More than Black Life? | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Commentary | December 11th, 2014
On a deeper level, this is where capitalism and racism intersect. One of capitalism's main tenets is the dominance of private property and how it must be protected. We can see that this has been transcribed in law, such as with the Stand Your Ground laws. Yet, also within the larger society, there is a lack of caring for black life. In any situation, the media and general public regularly engage in victim blaming and look for anything - anything at all - to assassinate the character of those who died at the hand of the police. This can be seen even today, when the media brings up Akai Gurley's criminal record when discussing his death at the hands of a police officer. These two ideas have come together in Ferguson, creating a situation where people are more concerned about private property destruction than they are about the death of Michael Brown.