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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.