Newsletter – Time To Ask Who We Are

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The United States has reached a turning point. Where we turn is dependent on what we do as people to determine our future.

Illusion of Democracy hides oligarchyCornel West writes that we are at the end of forty years of neo-liberal order with the rejection of the Democrats and the election of Trump. “This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees.” Unfortunately, the policies of a Trump presidency are unlikely to bring economic security for most people.

Danny Haiphong argues that the election was the reflection of a crisis of legitimacy for the two ruling parties and that “Whether one analyzes the economic, military, or political spheres of US imperialism, one thing is abundantly clear. The very fabric of the United States is in deep crisis.”

Neither of the major political parties are going to adequately solve the crises we face. This is a time to examine and discuss some fundamental issues: who we are and who we want to be. Out of crises come opportunities to put bold solutions in place. We are calling for a People’s Agenda.


An Opportunity to Change History

The current conflict at Standing Rock is an opportunity to reverse the 500-year history of American Genocide. At present, we understand that 10,000 people are at the Sacred Stone camp in North Dakota to oppose the completion of the Dakota Access oil pipeline that will run under the Missouri River. Hundreds of tribes have joined in solidarity to oppose the pipeline in a way that has never happened before.

"Environmental assessments failed to disclose the presence and proximity of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation," stated UN expert Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. (Photo: John Duffy/flickr/cc)

“Environmental assessments failed to disclose the presence and proximity of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation,” stated UN expert Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. (Photo: John Duffy/flickr/cc)

The pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners against the will of the Standing Rock Sioux and in violation of sacred lands and an ancestral burial ground. The tribe sued to stop the pipeline and lost, but the Army Corps of Engineers put a hold on it. Then the pipeline company sued to be able to complete the pipeline anyway. The pipeline is still not being built on the Army Corps of Engineers’ land, really land that is Indigenous land based on a treaty, and where the water protectors encampments are located.

Water protectors at Standing Rock have persisted in peaceful protest to stop construction of the pipeline, but they have been met with very aggressive attacks by militarized police coming from all across the country. Last Sunday night, police sprayed demonstrators with water cannons in freezing weather causing near-lethal hypothermia. Police shot concussion grenades, tear gas and pepper spray causing serious injuries, including to 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky who may lose her arm. This is reminiscent of past large-scale attacks on indigenous peoples; of course, the commercial media covered it poorly.

Twitter/Clayton Thomas Mueller Water protectors stand off against militarized police who doused them in water cannons in 20-degree temperatures. Read more at

Twitter/Clayton Thomas Mueller
Water protectors stand off against militarized police who doused them in water cannons in 20-degree temperatures.

Activists have responded in a powerful way with actions throughout the US and Canada on Friday to protest banks that are invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and at malls to raise awareness. In Baltimore, six people locked down in a branch of Wells Fargo. In Toronto, three women locked down at the head office of TD Bank. Some towns have passed resolutions in solidarity with Standing Rock. And Anonymous shut down the Safariland website, the company that supplies police with weapons.

Also on Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers sent an eviction notice to the people at Sacred Stone Camp, effective December 5, and offered to set up a free speech zone in a safe place. This shows how out of touch the government is with the people. The best way to keep people safe is not to build pipelines and not to attack nonviolent protesters, especially when they are on land given to them through a treaty. The Standing Rock Tribal Chairman, Dave Archambault II, replied that they will not leave and are filing a lawsuit and calling for an injunction against the police and Energy Transfers.

This is our moment to stand in solidarity with the people of Standing Rock and the hundreds of tribes who have joined them. This is the time to say “No more” to centuries of genocide against Native Americans. On Dec. 4, thousands of veterans are planning to go to Standing Rock to stand with the water protectors. We and others who we know are heading to Standing Rock to serve in any way that we can.  We must demand that the pipeline be stopped, that the violence be stopped and that we honor the treaties. Click here for more information about the camp.

A United Front Against Trumpism

Stop Trumpism Blockade of 395 near exit to US Congress, November 14, 2016 by John Zangas of DC Media Group

Stop Trumpism Blockade of 395 near exit to US Congress, November 14, 2016 by John Zangas of DC Media Group

Just as we take action in unity to protect indigenous rights and Mother Earth, we will need to unite against harmful policies of a Trump presidency (which would also have been true of a Clinton presidency). Deborah Rogers calls for Solidarity Politics, creating a broad movement across the political spectrum in our communities and offers concrete suggestions for doing that.

It is particularly important that we work together to protect each other from hate crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center has already documented over 700 acts of hate since election day. Several hundred Neo-Nazis of the National Policy Institute gathered in Washington, DC last week and were protested both at their conference and at their dinner.

There will be much to protest under a Trump administration. His selection of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education means even more attacks on our public schools and privatization masked as ‘choice’. His immigration plan will significantly roll back immigrant rights and continue the tide of deportations. The appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general is good news for the Monsanto-Bayer merger and other moves toward monopolies. Attacks on workers will come from multiple directions and will create a workers crisis that will force labor to reinvent itself or disappear. Trump’s tax plan will create massive tax cuts for the wealthy, which will force austerity measures on the rest of us. And it looks like all of the work we did in 2014 and 15 to protect net neutrality will be undone, unless we mobilize to stop them.

Demonstrators protest outside of the Verizon Center in Washington, March 21, 2016,

Demonstrators protest outside of the Verizon Center in Washington, March 21, 2016,

While we are pleased that Trump is willing to pursue a less aggressive stance with Russia,  there are signs that his administration will not exactly respect international law or human rights under the influence of Michael Flynn or under Mike Pompeo, who is a proponent of torture, as CIA Director. In addition, the weapons industry is well represented in the Trump transition team and he has promised increased budgets especially for space weapons.

Noam Chomsky states that two very important and life-altering events occurred on election day. One was a report by the World Meteorological Organization at the climate talks that global warming is accelerating and the other is the election of Republicans in the White House, Senate and House who largely deny the climate crisis and are determined to burn more carbon when we should be moving rapidly off it. At the climate talks, many countries made a commitment to act on climate regardless of what the United States does. The power of oil, gas and coal inside the Trump administration will require the climate movement, which has grown so rapidly during the “all of the above” Obama years, to escalate, expand and mobilize more aggressively.

Next Steps

Climate Our Future from People's Climate March by Reuters.

Climate Our Future from People’s Climate March by Reuters.

We have the power to make changes in this country that completely alter the course of our nation and the world. We can say no to genocide against Native Americans. We can end systemic racism. We can demand respect for the human rights of all people. We can promote peace and prosperity for all. We can solve the climate crisis. It is up to us and how we organize in our communities.

Erica Chenowith, author of “Why Civil Resistance Works,” writes that we are living in a time of dissent. She offers “10 established social science insights about unarmed dissent that everyone should know.” At the heart of the success of popular movements is what we have advocated – the building of a broad and diverse unified movement that is active and has built national consensus for the changes we wish to see. We offer the People’s agenda as one example of the vision for the future.


Here are some upcoming events that you can join:

Nov. 29 – Join the Fight for Fifteen nationwide day of action.

Dec. 1 and 2 – We will participate in the People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War.

Dec. 5 – Stand with Standing Rock in North Dakota or plan local actions at banks or the Army Corps of Engineers.

Jan. 20 and 21 – Join Occupy the Inauguration and the Women’s March. We hope to create a Popular Resistance contingent in the march that highlights the People’s Agenda.

March 3 to 5 – Attend the Left Elect conference in Chicago to move towards building a united left in the United States.

  • Aquifer

    ” …on land given to them through a treaty”

    The land wasn’t “given to them” – it was their’s, the treaty only agreed to recognize that ….

    ” …all of the work we did in 2014 and 15 to protect net neutrality will be undone, unless we mobilize to stop them.”

    I realized over 20 years ago that all the work that one does can be undone in an election – which is why i keep harping on the importance of elections … maybe this is what it will take for the left to finally figure that out …

  • DHFabian

    Sorry, no, I can’t sign on. Basic fact: People need food and shelter to survive. We are 20 years into a hell of a war on the poor. Not everyone can work, and there aren’t jobs for all. That’s pretty basic. The US shut down/shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s, tearing apart many, many families, destroying lives.

    It’s best to avoid discussion about human rights, as it shines a spotlight on many appalling aspects of this country, from what we do to our surplus population (those not currently of use to employers) to the widespread abuses within our “justice” and prison systems. One reason the US opposes international human rights standards, as outline in the UDHR, because it includes the right to basic food and shelter — even for those who can’t work, and for the jobless poor. Today’s Americans disagree. And I disagree with them.

  • DHFabian

    I think the few on the left have had it figured out for years, at least since Reagan. Middle class liberals have been busy with other issues.

  • Aquifer

    Very good piece – should be a posting here on PR … From the piece:

    “That presents a tremendous opportunity and danger, because when normal falls apart the ensuing vacuum draws in formerly unthinkable ideas from the margins. Unthinkable ideas range from rounding up the Muslims in concentration camps, to dismantling the military-industrial complex and closing down overseas military bases. They range from nationwide stop-and-frisk to replacing criminal punishment with restorative justice.”

    In this last election we had a choice between the first and second alternative in each of those “ranges” – the first, offered by Trump, got a lot of coverage, but the second, offered by another “Stein”, got very little … We got the first, we could have had the second … But we chose it not because “it couldn’t win”. Even though, as the fellow says, “Anything becomes possible with the collapse of dominant institutions.” It was in our hands but we let it slip our fingers through a fatal lack of imagination …

    “We are all in this together” – hmmm, now where have i heard that before …

    So when will we decide and act as though we believe that “All Lives Matter” ….

  • I agree with DHFabian below. I can’t sign on either. And for the exact same reasons: The jobless poor with NO incomes and NO healthcare are being thrown under the bus. Again. I left the Democrats because of this, and now the Greens are doing it to? Know what? Count me out. And those who are fortunate to have their health and have jobs sure as hell aren’t sharing their incomes with those who have nothing in this country – those who’ve been stripped of the most basic human rights to food, shelter, and medical care. Even if they’re not employable due to significant barriers to entry. Yet those in this country who are the worst off are being tossed aside in favor of those who are lucky to even have jobs who sure as hell don’t care about the jobless poor with no incomes and no healthcare. When you guys start pushing for the restoration of basic human rights to the poorest of America’s poor, then get back to me.

  • Jon

    What accusation are you making against us Greens? With the millions of jobs being offered vie Green New Deal, the desperately poor now can either find work, or if cannot for a variety of reasons, then be supported by reasonable taxation of those who do, and of the very rich who pay too little under a maze of dumbfounding tax laws.

  • kevinzeese

    How is providing healthcare to all in an equal way funded by tax payers and urging a Basic Income throwing the poor under the bus? They would benefit from these policies more than any other group. The same is true for tax payer funded post-high school education whether in the trades or for college. These policies would end homelessness and poverty, shrink the wealth divide and give people a chance to break out of the poverty class.

    What would you do to help the poor? We have put forward policies — what are yours, where do you disagree with the one’s we put forward?

  • I did not see anything about a Basic Income in there. My apologies.

  • Two Americas

    I didn’t either, initially.

    Now I see this, at the end of item 12:

    “… including creating a guaranteed national income.”

  • kevinzeese

    That is why we make healthcare available to everyone equally. Equality and equity are two basic principles of human rights which is what this agenda is built on. It is also why we say affordable housing for all and why we call for a guaranteed national income for all. This is an agenda that would do a great deal for the people you say you are concerned with. It would provide healthcare, housing, income and education to everyone. This would end poverty and homelessness. Again, I ask, what would you add?

  • Paul Hosse

    I agree, but understand that nothing would be difference with Hillary Clinton as president. She too represents the political establishment and the Oligarchy. The names would be different naturally. Her policies would have their own spin to sound like they benefit the People, but the results would should they benefit only the wealthy elite. Either way, with Trump or Hillary, we lose. The Oligarchs wins. Why? Because we play their game with their players using their rules. Yes, Trump is right—the it’s rigged and at least “The Donald” is honest enough to say it out loud instead of continue the illusion of “we-know-you-know-that-we-know” the system is hopelessly broken but we’ll pretend we don’t know. We, as a society, have to get off this titled “Merry-go-ride”. We need to change the game.

  • I would add the guaranteed right TO a job with dignity that one is able to physically and mentally do. That is also a human right per the UN’s UDHR, too.

  • kevinzeese

    Right. When it looked like Hillary was going to win we were calling for protests against her as well. We have a corrupt two party dictatorship that does not serve the people, but serves the oligarchs.

  • Two Americas

    Well said. Bravo. I agree 100%.

    There is no rational argument against an income cap, as far as I can see.

    I read a while back that if all of the wealth and all of the income were divided up equally in the US, that would mean $400,000 income and $1,500,000 in wealth for every household. Hell, THAT is more than anyone needs.

    People who hoard more money than they can ever spend on themselves and their families for at least three generations are the number one public health hazard, they are the cause of every other public health hazard.

  • I read a while back that if all of the wealth and all of the income were divided up equally in the US, that would mean $400,000 income and $1,500,000 in wealth for every household. Hell, THAT is more than anyone needs.

    Exactly. And with healthcare guaranteed as a right to all, no one would find themselves being totally wiped out, homeless and bankrupt in their 50’s, struggling just to NOT die from poverty in “tent cities” and on the streets after getting slapped with over a million dollars in medical bills (and that is for those lucky to have health insurance, mind you) for cancer treatment and medical care for other equally deadly and debilitating chronic diseases. So that would certainly make a cap of $400,000 income and $1,500,000 in wealth for every household plenty and more than enough to stabilize society for everyone’s benefit.

  • Two Americas

    Worth fighting for. That’s it. That is entire program. That is my “Marxism,” my “radicalism,” that is “Socialism” – the whole whole political philosophy.

    Everything else is just about getting there and getting there is a matter of organizing and fighting for it. Yet there are endless arguments every day here online, and there are no more than a dozen people who will agree with this simple program, out of the thousands I interact with here.

  • DHFabian

    Explain the logic of providing comprehensive health care to the poor, just to dump them back on the streets. Lack of adequate food and shelter take a very heavy toll on human health. This is why the overall life expectancy of the US poor has fallen to age 60-62.

  • DHFabian

    The income gap is a big problem, but US poverty is a crisis. Please understand the difference.

  • Two Americas

    “Cap” not “gap.”