Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Future We Want

Socialism could have a future in America, argue Bhaskar Sunkara and Sarah Leonard, if we just think about it differently. Sunkara and Leonard, co-editors of of the essay collection The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century say that people aren’t scared of socialism taking their money, they’re scared of Wall Street taking their money. In fact, in a socialist future, money might actually go where it’s supposed to: back to the people. Taking on intersections of class and race, class and gender, they explain the logistics of moving towards a socialist future.

Sarah Leonard is a senior editor at The Nation, contributor to famous left-wing publication Dissent, and lecturer at NYU Gallatin. Bhaskar Sunkara is the editor and publisher of Jacobin magazine, a left-wing quarterly magazine recognized for offering socialist perspectives on contemporary issues.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Whole World Is Watching

"If it’s possible in this oversaturated age for a mass-protest movement to fly under the radar, the battle over the building of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline certainly qualifies. Just this past weekend in Morton County, North Dakota, 127 people were arrested during protests over renewed construction, which follows what protesters believed was relief from the federal government, in the form of a multi-agency letter to the pipeline builders, Energy Transfer Partners, asking them to halt building for tribal consultation and the preparation of environmental-impact statements... The protesters, 270 or so who have been arrested since the standoff began in August, are a coalition of native people supporting the local Standing Rock Sioux, and they claim that the pipeline, which will carry sweet crude oil fracked from North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois, will endanger the region’s water supply, and that its construction is destroying their sacred lands. If you’ve got even the barest knowledge of the 150-odd-year history of native protests against the desecration and development of their land, you could be forgiven for assuming that things are unlikely to unfold in their favor. But in sheer scale, this resistance is bigger and more organized than any protests native people have undertaken in decades — thousands of supporters from more than 200 tribes have set up camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Their protests have been frequently met with security forces armed with attack dogs and mace."

To donate to the official Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund, click here.

Photograph via the Standing Rock Rising Facebook page
 Quote excerpted from Why the North Dakota Pipeline Standoff Is Only Getting Worse, New York Magazine

Monday, October 24, 2016

Avoid The Unimaginable

Tom Hayden
December 11th, 1939 - October 23rd, 2016

"Our work is guided by the sense that we may be the last generation in the experiment with living. But we are a minority -- the vast majority of our people regard the temporary equilibriums of our society and world as eternally-functional parts. In this is perhaps the outstanding paradox: we ourselves are imbued with urgency, yet the message of our society is that there is no viable alternative to the present. Beneath the reassuring tones of the politicians, beneath the common opinion that America will "muddle through", beneath the stagnation of those who have closed their minds to the future, is the pervading feeling that there simply are no alternatives, that our times have witnessed the exhaustion not only of Utopias, but of any new departures as well. Feeling the press of complexity upon the emptiness of life, people are fearful of the thought that at any moment things might thrust out of control. They fear change itself, since change might smash whatever invisible framework seems to hold back chaos for them now. For most Americans, all crusades are suspect, threatening. The fact that each individual sees apathy in his fellows perpetuates the common reluctance to organize for change. The dominant institutions are complex enough to blunt the minds of their potential critics, and entrenched enough to swiftly dissipate or entirely repel the energies of protest and reform, thus limiting human expectancies. Then, too, we are a materially improved society, and by our own improvements we seem to have weakened the case for further change... Some would have us believe that Americans feel contentment amidst prosperity -- but might it not better be called a glaze above deeplyfelt anxieties about their role in the new world? And if these anxieties produce a developed indifference to human affairs, do they not as well produce a yearning to believe there is an alternative to the present, that something can be done to change circumstances in the school, the workplaces, the bureaucracies, the government? It is to this latter yearning, at once the spark and engine of change, that we direct our present appeal. The search for truly democratic alternatives to the present, and a commitment to social experimentation with them, is a worthy and fulfilling human enterprise, one which moves us and, we hope, others today."

Quote excerpted from The Port Huron Statement, 1962

Thursday, April 21, 2016

We Can Do Better!

Are you tired of business as usual? Want to help millions of Americans learn about the real alternatives that already exist and how to be a part of them?

We know the current system does exactly what it was designed to do: line corporate pockets at the expense of real people’s health and livelihoods, destroying the environment and fueling the war machine at the same time. But we also know that another world is possible. Many models for more economically and ecologically sustainable societies exist and as the ills of the current system become more apparent to the country at large, people are hungry to know what viable alternatives exist. The Next System Teach-Ins aim to help communities and campuses across the country engage in that debate and start exploring the alternatives that work best for them.

The teach-ins can be a powerful component to a growing national debate about what this country really needs and how we get there. In a time of political stalemate, we have to take responsibility for the important conversations and build the community needed to transform this country.

Host a teach-in at your school or attend one near you to find out more. We'll provide sample curricula, agendas and workshop ideas based on existing alternatives, burgeoning initiatives and cutting edge research in order to help you create an engaging and effective teach-in that brings your community's work to the next level.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

By And For The People

In April 2016, more than one hundred organizations representing a diverse array of movements and hundreds of thousands of people are coming together to demand a democracy that works for all of us – a nation where our votes are not denied and money doesn’t buy access and power. Join us as we converge upon Washington, D.C. for an array of actions, including demonstrations, teach-ins, direct action trainings, music, a Rally For Democracy, and pressing for a Congress Of Conscience through non-violent direct action and advocacy.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Always Fight With Love

"There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. Call it what you may, call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country."

Quote excepted from a speech to the Negro American Labor Council, May 1965.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Retreat From Class

Ellen Meiksins Wood
April 12th, 1942 – January 14th 2016

"The intention of Marxism is to provide a theoretical foundation for interpreting the world in order to change it. This is not an empty slogan. It has—or ought to have—a very precise meaning. It means that Marxism seeks a particular kind of knowledge, one which is uniquely capable of illuminating the principles of historical movement and, at least implicitly, the points at which political action can most effectively intervene. This is not to say that the object of Marxist theory is to discover a ‘scientific’ programme or technique of political action. Rather, the purpose is to provide a mode of analysis especially well equipped to explore the terrain on which political action must take place."

Text excerpted from The Separation Of the Economic And The Political in Capitalism (New Left Review, 1981).

Thursday, December 10, 2015

In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse

John Trudell
February 15, 1946 – December 8, 2015

"We have power... Our power isn’t in a political system, or a religious system, or in an economic system, or in a military system; these are authoritarian systems... they have power... but it’s not reality. The power of our intelligence, individually or collectively IS the power; this is the power that any industrial ruling class truly fears: clear coherent human beings."

Monday, November 9, 2015

We Must Bear Witness

Why do we remember this day? Why do we continue to teach about the Holocaust? How can we possibly expect people to understand what happened in this organized genocide, seeking to "purify" the world and wipe Jews off the face of the Earth?

We remember the anniversaries of the Holocaust and we teach about it because the Holocaust is the possible. How can we expect people to learn from history if we don't teach it? How can we ensure such evil never again rears its head if we don't know about it?

Text excerpted from Why We Must Remember Kristallnacht by Hannah Rosenthal

Saturday, November 7, 2015

It Can Be Done!

During the 20th century, all kinds of revolutionary processes took place. Some of these revolutions were triumphant while others were defeated. The most important of these revolutionary processes was the Russian Revolution on October 25 - November in the Gregorian calendar during the Tsarist Empire.  Among some of the main topics of discussion amongst fighters and revolutionaries around the world are the characteristics, lessons and further development of the Russian Revolution.

In 1917, Russia was ruled with an iron fist by the dictatorship of the Tsars. As a result of the feudal system under existence, millions of peasants lived in poverty, backwardness and ignorance. However, in some cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow, there was a young industrial working class. Meanwhile, the tsarist empire was fighting in the First World War on the side of England and France.

During the war years, an untenable hardship affected the whole population in Russia in particular the masses of peasants and workers in the army who suffered the brunt of food scarcity and misery. In St. Petersburg, a growing discontent led to a successful insurrection which overthrew the Tsar. Afterwards, a weak provisional government led by Kerensky in an alliance formed  by the party of the Russian bourgeoisie and the conciliatory parties that led the workers and peasants such as the Mensheviks (reformist social democrats) and the Party of Socialists-Revolutionaries. At the same time, democratic bodies of the masses, workers, soldiers and peasants in struggle (Soviets) which had first appeared in the 1905 Revolution, reemerged. By then, Bolshevik Party under the direction of Lenin and Trotsky was no longer in the minority and began to grow.

The Insurrection

The Provisional Government led by Kerensky did not address any of the serious problems that affected workers and peasants. In fact, Russia continued its involvement in the war, land was not being distributed to the peasantry, there was no bread in the cities and the government did not fulfill its election promises. Within the Soviets, popular discontent with the conciliatory parties was on the rise. Thus, the Bolshevik Party was becoming increasingly influential. By late September, the Bolshevik Party had among its ranks almost all of the Soviet delegates in St. Petersburg and Moscow and directed the main army regiments. In early October, the Bolshevik Party leadership came to the conclusion that the political conditions were ripe for the Soviets to overthrow Kerensky and take power. A section of the Social Revolutionary Party joined the insurrectionary plan. Lenin, living in an underground refuge in Finland, followed the events step by step while Trotsky led the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet.

On October 25, the Soviets took power. For the first time in history, a revolutionary government of workers and peasants which proclaimed the struggle for international socialism emerged out of the mobilization of the masses and workers’ democracy.

Early Years and Bureaucratization

Among some of the first actions taken by the Soviet government was the distribution of land, implementation of workers control in the factories and the creation of a long-delayed Constituent Assembly as well as Russia’s withdrawal from the imperialist war.

The Revolution was consolidating itself among those oppressed and exploited under the Tsarist regime. To crush the young Soviet republic, both the landed aristocracy and Russian bourgeoisie in alliance with imperialist powers started a bloody civil war. But the bourgeois counter-revolution was crushed thanks to the undaunted heroism of workers and peasants and the guidance of the Bolshevik Party by a principled leadership.

No other country produced a victory similar to the Russian Revolution in spite of a revolutionary wave that swept the rest of Europe. According to Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks, a Soviet Russia could only be maintained if it was part of a triumph of European and world socialist revolution.

However, the civil war weakened and isolated Russia, leading to a new political development when Stalin led a bureaucracy who had abandoned socialism and world revolution and destroyed workers’ democracy.

Lessons Of October

After Lenin’s death on January 1924, Trotsky continued to lead the resistance against Stalin while defending the program and the party of the world socialist revolution. In 1935, in 18th anniversary of the Revolution, Trotsky wrote that even though that first victory of socialism was completely swept and the Soviet Union (USSR) under Stalin was "almost unrecognizable" compared to the early years, the Revolution left invaluable experiences. "Loyalty to the revolutionary program, relentless hostility to the bourgeoisie, decisive break with the social patriots [the reformists of all kinds], and deep trust in the revolutionary force of the masses, these are the main lessons of October."

Are these lessons still valid today? Experience shows that they are indeed. The bourgeoisie sink the masses further into misery while conciliatory and reformist leaders betray workers and workers, peasants and all the oppressed are fighting and struggling all over the world. To end capitalism, and even to prevent it from returning in the hands of bureaucrats, it is necessary to defend the program and build the revolutionary party that allows for the definite triumph of socialism in every country and around the world, an internationalist and democratic socialism like the one that began to take its first steps in October 1917.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

It Isn't Working

"Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun."

Quote from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, 1965

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oxi Means Oxi!

"Solidarity from others oppressed by austerity policies everywhere is Greece's greatest need now. Real solidarity will also help to mobilize the forces everywhere that are coming to realize the deepening costs and injustices of accepting capitalism's continuation." -Richard D. Wolff

From Greece Needs Our Solidarity in Its Struggle Against Austerity (TurthOut, July 2015)