Since we're back from our summer break, here's some reads you shouldn't miss...
WHERE WE STEAL – the observer will notice that many of the articles tipped in Good Reads originate in Jacobin, Labor Notes, In These Times and CommonDreams and many of those are aggregated in Portside. All deserve your support, comrades. Emancipation doesn’t come at the discount aisle.
First things first: National DSA has aggregated recent media coverage of DSA, including stuff about the Socialist Caucus at the DNC in Philadelphia. http://www.dsausa.org/press
Aug 2, Black Lives Matter released a detailed program for economic justice (part of a larger plan) that is a lineup both fine and familiar.
Dani McClain’s analysis of the BLM program from The Nation,
Scholar and historian Peniel Joseph of UT Austin responds to the “sweeping agenda” of the BLM program in a CNN (!) report. http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/03/opinions/black-lives-matter-movement-report-joseph/
Aislinn Pulley, an early BLM organizer, provides a stirring followup in Truthout to the formal document with concrete next steps: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/37189-we-will-create-our-freedom-the-importance-of-the-movement-for-black-lives-platform
Sam Gindin in Jacobin explores the prospects and limitations of “social movement unionism,” the expansion of workers’ concerns and activism beyond wages and benefits to the wider community’s commonality of needs. This concept is probably as important, more important, to DSA than to most other organizations. As usual, aggregated in Portside as well. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/08/beyond-social-movement-unionism/
The debate over movement vs. electoral campaign and can they coexist is raised anew by Norm Solomon in one of the earliest responses to the launch of Our Revolution the evening of August 24. http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/08/25/debut-our-revolution-great-potential
Many DSAers and others on the left described the launch of Our Revolution as “underwhelming,” and questions about its characteristics continue, as outlined in an Alternet article that has been making the rounds on the DSA-Activist listserve. http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/why-new-sanders-group-our-revolution-leaving-many-bernie-backers-scratching-their
John Atcheson in CommonDreams outlined a quite recent response to the Our Revolution launch from the Bernie Delegates Network, re-posted in Portside: http://portside.org/2016-09-03/making-our-revolution-ours
The work product of the “Fight for Fifteen” conclave in Richmond: taking on the Old Confederacy’s ruinous oppression of low-income workers. https://www.buzzfeed.com/coralewis/minimum-wage-activists-turn-their-focus-to-the-south?utm_term=.koJP3dk9b3#.qneZGjyWXG
“But all movements for revolutionary change inevitably confront the challenge of navigating (or disrupting) the institutions in which day-to-day politics is housed.” This is the challenge of a new book reviewed in Dissent on topics the book’s author himself admits are “fuddy-duddy” – the nuts and bolts of modern constitutional governments. “The problem with revolutionary politics, in short, is that it tends to be naïve about political institutions,” writes reviewer David V. Johnson, and “I can recommend no better corrective than liberal political philosopher Jeremy Waldron, and no better introduction to his thinking than his recently published collection of essays, Political Political Theory.” It’s the lead article in the latest (mid-August) issue. https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/institutions-political-theory-jeremy-waldron-review
An IPS associate makes the link between climate change and inequality, with the corollary: to fix either, fix both. http://fpif.org/stop-climate-change-dont-just-cut-carbon-redistribute-wealth/
LABOR NOTES has been galvanizing the labor (and now alt-labor) movement for years, not only as traditional legacy-print info for activist and organizers but as a critical training vehicle (the “Troublemakers School,” which has come to DC as well as other areas). Jacobin’s Kim Moody profiles the operation over the years in a cross-post that we lifted from Portside… http://portside.org/2016-08-13/rank-and-files-paper-record
Recommended by our CCDS comrade and Statehood Green activist David Schwartzman, “Well worth reading from the Editor of Science & Society, on the struggle for reforms and revolution, why the value of labor power is an outcome of class struggle.” This, something of an evergreen from 2012, is posted as “Whither the Occupy Movement: Models and Proposals.” on the Online University of the Left site, another worthy of frequent visits … http://ouleft.sp-mesolite.tilted.net/?p=1011
“… enthusiasm for seeing the phrase [democratic socialism] appear in public discourse, I fear, is a testament to the Left’s marginality and capacities for wish-fulfillment and the dominance, even within the nominal left, of the conceptually thin, soundbite-driven premises of mainstream political discourse. I suppose this is what happens when even the Left embraces ‘branding’.” Adolph Reed’s trenchant, slightly oblique take on the state of left politics post-Bernie, from Jacobin; it first appeared in the Belgian publication Etudes Marxiste https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/08/bernie-sanders-black-voters-adolph-reed-trump-hillary/
It’s a little bit inside baseball, even for the wonkish readers of this newsletter, but Sam Pizzigati (of the Too Much blog at IPS) says that a new staff hire by a US Senator who’s not even a sure-thing committee chair in the next Congress could raise to critical the endangered status of the infamous “carried interest” hedge-fund loophole. It’s by way of Portside. http://portside.org/2016-08-08/wealthy-taxing-new-worry
Eduardo Porter, the not particularly undercover social-democratic economics writer for the New York Times, recaps a recent book calling for a way expanded US welfare state, constructed in comprehensive terms. This was first collected, as many terrific reads often are, in Portside. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/business/economy/rethinking-the-role-of-government-in-society.html?_r=0
For those of us who want chapter and verse (and verse, and verse, and verse) on the conundrum of how to vote for President in November, Michael Albert and Stephen Shalom’s quite long article in CommonDreams is the answer. They walk us through the platforms, the candidates’ histories, the alternatives, strategic voting and third-party efforts on the “safe-states” principle, parallel movement-building actions flanking the campaign, and much, much more. As with many other such pieces, the long and winding road eventually leads to her door. http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/08/09/progressives-thinking-about-election
Sam Pizzigati’s blog, “Too Much,” from the Institute for Policy Studies (now encompassed in IPS’s “Inequality.org” weekly roundup), considers the lovely possibility that one grrreat big one-time tax on super-wealth could reset the economy in a better direction for justice, Jubilee-style. http://inequality.org/doover-unequal-economy/
From The Medium, recommended by Maria Svart: “an article that actually grapples with the question of how to build an independent radical and strategic base, unlike the articles out there that simply bash the Greens or bash the Dems.” The writer is Missouri activist Mark Haim. https://medium.com/@mhaim/why-im-not-voting-for-jill-stein-no-this-isn-t-about-clinton-or-trump-e08b59e5e07d#.wsrb341qr
Altogether French and about French perspectives, often philosophical cant-ridden past bearing, and about a time and elections (Sarkozy v. Royal) a decade ago, this piece (posted on Facebook by Doug Henwood) nevertheless speaks of the interplay of fear and “fear of fear” in the voting psyche in a way eerily appropriate to the US in 2016… “The subjective index of this omnipresent affective negativity is the cleavage of the electoral subject… The vote thus operates almost like a form of superego. The polls, however, indicate massive indecision right up to the last minute. In other words, this probably massive vote, which people even experience as compulsory [more so in France than the US], carries no conviction beyond the affects involved. One may well believe that to decide between fear, and fear of fear, is a delicate undertaking…” http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/994-alain-badiou-before-the-election
Linguist George Lakoff, blogging as himself, applies some of his well-known (especially to HuffPostreaders) cognitive/framing theory to the phenomenon of Trump and his appeal: https://georgelakoff.com/2016/07/22/understanding-trump/
The headline says it all: “Bernie’s Big Lesson: Socialists Should Occupy the Democratic Party, Not Abandon It” … a plea from a writer for Salon. “If Hillary Clinton’s victory represents the best that Democratic Party counterrevolutionaries have to offer, then that’s really great news…. The left now has a historic opportunity, and how it approaches the Democratic Party will help determine whether it can exploit it.” http://www.salon.com/2016/08/01/bernies_big_lesson_socialists_should_occupy_the_democratic_party_not_abandon_it/
A review of another new book about the Frankfurt School, which opines (not for the first time, we are sure) that the stellar lineup of scholars (Horkheimer and Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Marcuse, Habermas et al.) “for the most part… seem to have abandoned a central principle of Marxism: we shouldn’t just try to understand the world but to change it,” says reviewer Robert Minto. Stuart Jeffries’ Grand Hotel Abyss: the Lives of the Frankfurt School, which Minto praises for its effort to make these often difficult writers accessible, is reviewed in Open Letters Monthly and aggregated in Portside.
Joe Schwartz recently recycled Harold Meyerson’s 16-year-old piece on Michael Harrington from the Atlantic. Reading it is a reminder of what it meant to hear socialism and its context declaimed from a podium in such a full-hearted and unabashed way. A not entirely lapsed Catholic, Harrington often began his talks with “sursum corda” (open up your hearts), and made it work:http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2000/08/the-still-relevant-socialist/378331/
In a “narrative power analysis” of the media response to the Obama carbon-constraining Clean Power Plan, researchers for National People’s Action found that though the media coverage, straight news and opinion, were all substantially positive toward carbon reduction and the fight against climate change, a strong “opposition narrative” within that coverage was gaining traction that set up a (mostly contrived) conflict between the environment and the economy, between government and consumers and workers. It’s from February of this year but still valid.
Tom Frank, writing in The Guardian, says the chances for progressive advances after the November election are slipping away with Trump’s diminishing chances. “But what seems most plausible from the current standpoint is a landslide for Clinton, and with it the triumph of complacent neoliberal orthodoxy.” He suggests that Clinton will be therefore impervious to pressure from the left – but it’s worth asking how much evidence he adduces to that point. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/13/trump-clinton-election-chances-moderate-policies-economy?CMP=fb_gu
Slavoj Zizek in In These Times succinctly (!) cautions the Left not to feel comfortable at all, at all, about the choices in the presidential contest. Sent our way by Dave Richardson.. http://inthesetimes.com/article/19410/clinton-trump-and-the-triumph-of-ideology
Stealth Trade Deal: Activists Say a Lame-Duck Congress Might Still Pass the TPP
The proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which progressive activists from a host of different movements have opposed as a threat to democratic governance and a giveaway to large corporate interests, still might pass in the coming lame-duck session of Congress, according to Public Citizen’s “Eyes on Trade” blog. The mainstream media and some GOP leaders are talking as if the TPP “in its current form” is dead, but Eyes on Trade bloggers argue that this is mostly a negotiating ploy by Republicans seeking a better deal.
According to the Sept. 2 blog, “the massive corporate coalition pushing for the TPP is aggressively lobbying to pass the pact in the lame duck session … These interests are rolling out big-money AstroTurf ‘field’ operations to generate paid telephone calls for the TPP, wrangle corporate retirees to write their Representatives and carpet cyberspace with paid social media.”
Public Citizen adds: “It is also worth noting that the administration is working relentlessly to line up the votes to pass the TPP in the lame duck. So far there have been 30 events featuring cabinet secretaries and other Obama officials in key districts during the congressional recess.”
However, TPP opponents can still defeat the measure by organizing pressure on individual members of Congress and “locking down the votes district by district. That is entirely doable,” the blog entry states. For more information, click here: http://citizen.typepad.com/eyesontrade/
— Andy Feeney
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