Brazilian People Mobilize Against Michel Temer Reforms

The mobilizations were convened by the Brasil Popular and Pueblo Sin Miedo fronts. (Photo taken from PL)

By Staff of Escambray – Brazil staged today a National Day of Mobilization and Paralysis against the proposed labor and social security reforms by which popular movements and central trade unions describe as Michel Temer”s ”illegitimate government.” Throughout the country, demonstrations of protest are planned from the early hours of the morning, culminating in the event that will take place in the afternoon on the crowded Paulista Avenue and which former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will attend. The mobilizations, convened by the Brasil Popular and Pueblo Sin Miedo fronts and backed by the main Brazilian trade union centers, will coincide with the beginning of a general strike of public education workers.

What It Takes To Change Hearts And Minds

By Colin Beavan

By Colin Beavan for Yes! Magazine – Some years ago, the communications psychologist John Marshall Roberts said at a talk I attended that there are three ways of converting people to a cause: by threat of force, by intellectual argument, and by inspiration. The most effective of these methods, Roberts said, is aligning communication about your cause with the most deeply-held values and aspirations of your friends, relatives, neighbors, and fellow citizens. To get people’s total, lasting, and unwavering support, in other words, we should try neither to cajole them judgmentally nor convince them forcefully. We should inspire them toward a vision that they—not we—can really care about. Which points to the potential problem of blindly using facts and science—be it climate science or demographic science—to “prove” the righteousness of our causes. Research shows that people tend to embrace data that support their life views and reject data that refute them. Whether we like this or not, it is a truth about how humans evaluate and make decisions.

Right Now -- Resist, Rethink, Recreate

Now, this very week, it is possible to Resist much closer to home. Congress is in recess this week, and it is possible to show up at our elected officials’ events, town halls, and other public appearances to demand answers to questions like whether our own members of Congress will pledge to protect and improve our health care, to protect the religious freedom of Muslims and to meet the human needs of immigrants.

Resistance is not only about the “content” of political demands, but about the “style” of holding officials accountable. If CongressMembers refuse to hold town meetings, we can hold our own with the Congressional chair empty -- to highlight to the public and the media the lawmakers who won't even meet with their constituents. These events are being called “Resistance Recess.”

Click here to find your local Resistance Recess event and RSVP.

So far, the least bold resistance has been defense of the planet that keeps us alive. This is sad, but not surprising. Health care for the sick, religious freedom, the human needs of immigrants and refugees can all be portrayed in human-interest stories, videos, photos. Despite multiplying hyper-droughts and hyper-floods, the connection between planetary scorching and human disaster is harder to see and feel. Yet it remains the Big Story of survival.

So on April 29, we intend to bring together in Washington DC and in support cities around the country a People's Climate March and Movement. I urge you, The Shalom Center ‘s members and readers, to join in that effort.

For many Jews and Jewish organizations, the fact that April 29 is Shabbat makes participation difficult. Plans are under way for a multi-religious prayer service like the one that led the 400,000-person People’s Climate March in New York City in 2014. And in some Jewish communities, there are plans for local Shabbat gatherings in support of the Washington March.

You can get fuller information here as the plans unfold, and you can register to receive bulletins by clicking here www.peoplesclimate.org/?source=theshalomcenter

2)  RETHINK

We need to rethink the assumptions of what American democracy means. Rethinking is necessary because the Trump-Pence-Bannon coalition is right about one thing –-- right enough to win an election under the Constitutional rules even while vastly losing the popular vote.  They are right that for important parts of American society, the globalization model in economics and culture is not working.

Even if they had barely lost instead of barely winning the recent election, American society would have had to keep living with a painful ulcer of fear and rage. That ulcer would have kept us paralyzed. If as a nation we had ignored it, we would have continued to be unable to heal our society as a whole while the ulcer grew and worsened.

Unable, as Dr. King warned, to conquer the triplets of Racism, Militarism, and Materialism.

And this is not only a politically profound issue, it is a spiritually profound challenge. Are those who voted for Trump not still our neighbors, deserving of our open ears and hearts, our striving to understand their legitimate needs and to craft both human connections and policy responses? This too is a question that Dr. King faced in his own day and calls on us to face.

The Trumpist answer to this crisis is even more domination, more top-down control, more repression of those energies that are refusing to keep living passively in situations that are abusive and oppressive. That is an anti-democratic, anti-human, anti-web-of-life response; but the status quo is not viable. So we need to rethink what democracy must mean in our generation.

We need to rethink the relationship between the “old America” that now feels cast out economically, culturally, and spiritually –- and the New America which thinks it is the wave of the future but feels disempowered in the present. Is it inevitable that both kinds of the “left-outs” are hostile to each other, or can we reach beyond the present barricades? 

We need to rethink our top-down political parties, the power of Hyper-Wealth over our elections, the precariousness of our voting rights, including the built-in blockages against democratic decision-making.

We need to reexamine the nature of coalitions between groups of people and organizations that may share some agendas but disagree on others.

We need to rethink the roles of neighborhoods, urban and rural, in giving life to democracy.

We need to rethink the nature of jobs, work, and income in our increasingly computerized and robot-enabled society.

We need to rethink how we think –- the processes of education, culture, media old and new
We need to rethink even religion. Already, the proliferation of “interfaith” and “multireligious” prayer services challenges the very foundations of what the Abrahamic traditions thought Truth was for most of the last two thousand years. It has happened before in history –- under the tyranny of the Roman Empire and the tyranny of Pharaoh, for example --  that an overweening exercise of tyrannical power that shattered old forms of community has led through times of tumult to the birth of new forms of sacred community. Could that be happening now?

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow for The Shalom Center – We are facing a government that is beginning the process of shattering democracy and devastating the Earth, elevating what Martin Luther King defined as the deadly triplets of Racism, Militarism, and Materialism into the domineering reality of our lives. That government is trying to make it become the new normal that our lives will be fearful, consumed by fake news and “alternative facts,” struggling to deal with worsening economic pressures and worsening ecological disasters, even life-spans shorter in years. Three different sorts of energy have been stirred into a devil’s brew to fuel this anti-democratic political machine. They have three specific people as their embodiments: First, a Leader – a Bully — with a strong personal streak of narcissism, cruelty, and vindictiveness: Mr. Trump. What he brings to the amalgam is a “populism” that is not about policy but about an emotional connection with people who are angry enough to break the rules of decorum –- and welcome a leader who does break them.

The Struggle To Decolonize

From decolonizingsolidarity.blogspot.com

By Staff of Renaissance – The system we live in (or under) is founded on exploitation and practices it in nearly all of its endeavors. The system forms a binary, a dichotomy wherein one is either an exploiter or one is exploited. Put another way, one is either the oppressor or the oppressed. Much of our understanding, false though it is, begins with our education that is more correctly an indoctrination. Even the style of education within this system presupposes hierarchical structure of dominance in what Paulo Freire termed the “Banking System” of education in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, wherein communiques are merely deposited into students who are presupposed to be ignorant, and thus, inferior. The students in order to succeed must concede and adapt to this position of inferiority thereby solidify the exploiter-exploited relationship and contradiction.

The Elites Won’t Save Us

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By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – The four-decade-long assault on our democratic institutions by corporations has left them weak and largely dysfunctional. These institutions, which surrendered their efficacy and credibility to serve corporate interests, should have been our firewall. Instead, they are tottering under the onslaught. Labor unions are a spent force. The press is corporatized and distrusted. Universities have been purged of dissidents and independent scholars who criticize neoliberalism and decry the decay of democratic institutions and political parties. Public broadcasting and the arts have been defunded and left on life support. The courts have been stacked with judges whose legal careers were spent serving corporate power, a trend in appointments that continued under Barack Obama.

Because 2016 Was Surreal, So What’s Next?

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By Morna McDermott of Educational Alchemy – In honor of the announcement by Merriam Webster Dictionary that “surreal” was the word of 2016 I am re-posting a older piece I wrote for United Opt Out almost one year ago. Now… more relevant than ever. Annual standardized testing has given way to Competency Based online delivery systems, all…the…time. Race to the Top has been replaced with ESSA. And the socio-political climate against which we are fighting? Well…it speaks for itself. Merriam Webster site states: “Surreal is often looked up spontaneously in moments of both tragedy and surprise, whether or not it is used in speech or writing.

In 2017, Fusing Identity And Class Politics In "Trumpland"

Cover detail from new report, "The New Populism: A Movement and Agenda to Transform Our Economy and Politics," by the Campaign for America's Future.

By Zoltán Grossman for Common Dreams – Like millions of other Americans, I was shocked, but perhaps not entirely surprised, by Donald Trump’s victory on election night. His blatant racism and misogyny, cynical exploitation of economic populism, and ties to fascist ideology have generated enormous fears. Yet if we stop at the point of those fears, and let fatalism or blame games drive our response to the Trump regime, then we have already ceded our power to him. Yes, Trump carries the whiff of fascism, and many of his followers indeed hold racist and misogynist beliefs. But we cannot stop thinking at that point.

6 Lessons Learned Fighting Oppressive Regimes While Trying to Protect People and Planet

Earth, Global

By Terry Odendahl for Eco Watch – The U.S. may now find itself in a similar position as countries like the China, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Philippines, Russia, Venezuela and many others where authoritarians have been swept into power over the last decade. As a public citizen who wants to take action, should you join a national environmental organization or should you join a local group fighting a dam or fracking? As a donor, should you give to a big environmental group lobbying in DC or to a local minority-action group trying to force their city council to clean up their drinking water? We will definitely need mass national mobilizations and we’ll also need numerous local actions.

The Blind Spots Of Liberalism

A shuttered garage in Milton, IA. Pete Zarria / Flickr
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By Adam Fisher for Jacobin Magazine – I grew up in what could be called the California Appalachians. My town’s population was around a thousand, with a median household income of $37,000. The local public school consisted of a series of air-conditioned, double-wide trailers that served as classrooms for combined grades (first and second in one, third and fourth in another, and so on). The only permanent building was the administrative office. The town had multiple saloons and churches, and a movie theater that doubled as the performance space for Christmas plays. There was one doctor, with an office and an x-ray machine. Main Street was two blocks long, with false fronts on every building, a train platform with one Amtrak departure per day

France: A New Chapter In The Class Struggle

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By Jules Legendre for In Defense of Marxism – During the 2012 presidential election, the Socialist Party candidate Hollande made a lot of pledges (the right for non-French citizens to vote, defence of the public services, etc.) and even said that his “enemy” was “the world of finance”. To most voters this seemed preferable to a continuation of the Sarkozy years, even if they were not whole-heartedly enthusiastic about Hollande.

Brazil: Impeachment Of Dilma Opens Up New Period Of Class Struggle

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By Fred Weston for In Defense of Marxism – Such were the passions on both sides that the authorities had to build a temporary two metre-high, one kilometer-long metal fence to keep apart the thousands of pro- and anti-impeachment demonstrators outside the Congress building in Brasilia. Parliament voted by a big majority, 367 for impeachment and 137 against, more than the two-thirds required to start proceedings against Dilma. She is accused of manipulating government accounts.

Biggest Threat To 99% Not The 1% But The .1% We Are The 99.9%!

Suzanne Tucker/ Shutterstock.com

By Lynn Stuart Parramore for AlterNet – “We are the 99 percent” is a great slogan, but is it distracting our attention from a sinister reality? There’s strong evidence that it’s not the 1 percent you should worry about—it’s the 0.1 percent. That decimal point makes a big difference. Over the last decade, a gigantic share of America’s income and wealth gains has flowed to this group, the wealthiest one out of 1,000 households.

It’s Class War, And Their Class is Winning

Supporters of former Brazilian president Lula da Silva confront police officers in front of Lula's apartment in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, 4 March 2016.

By Alfredo Saad Filho for The Bullet, Every so often, the bourgeois political system runs into crisis. The machinery of the state jams; the veils of consent are torn asunder and the tools of power appear disturbingly naked. Brazil is living through one of those moments: it is dreamland for social scientists; a nightmare for everyone else. Dilma Rousseff was elected President in 2010, with a 56-44 per cent majority against the right-wing neoliberal PSDB (Brazilian Social Democratic Party) opposition candidate. She was reelected four years later with a diminished yet convincing majority of 52-48 per cent, or a majority of 3.5 million votes.

Do We Really Need A Billionaire Class?

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By Staff of Inequality – In the struggle against economic inequality, historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz tends to take the long view. That may be at least partly because Alperovitz has been at that struggle for quite a long time. Back in the 1960s, for instance, Alperovitz worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his aides to explore the potential of an alternate economic order built upon community-owned enterprise. Alperovitz has always had a foot in both the activist camp of what could be and the political reality of what we can accomplish right now.

Class Struggle And History Behind Haiti’s 2016 Electoral Crisis

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By Kim Ives for Haiti Liberte – Karl Marx once famously remarked that history repeats itself “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” This maxim comes to mind when examining the class dynamics surrounding the final days of President Michel Martelly’s regime in Haiti today. They are similar to those of 30 years ago, when the dictatorship of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was unraveling. To compare the Haiti of 1986 to that of 2016, one must understand the nation’s underlying class make-up.