By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – In the conflicts I covered as a reporter in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, I encountered singular individuals of varying creeds, religions, races and nationalities who majestically rose up to defy the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed. Some of them are dead. Some of them are forgotten. Most of them are unknown. These individuals, despite their vast cultural differences, had common traits—a profound commitment to the truth, incorruptibility, courage, a distrust of power, a hatred of violence and a deep empathy that was extended to people who were different from them, even to people defined by the dominant culture as the enemy. They are the most remarkable men and women I met in my 20 years as a foreign correspondent. And to this day I set my life by the standards they set. You have heard of some, such as Vaclav Havel, whom I and other foreign reporters met most evenings, during the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, in the Magic Lantern Theatre in Prague. Others, no less great, you probably do not know, such as the Jesuit priest Ignacio Ellacuria, who was assassinated in El Salvador in 1989.
By Danny Haiphong for Black Agenda Report – Black Agenda Report (BAR) has been the only media outlet in the United States to criticize and condemn mainstream Black political leadership. BAR anointed such leadership a well-deserved new title: the Black misleadership class. The Black misleadership class occupies the halls of local, state, and federal office. Members of this class have been traditionally nurtured from the bowels of the Democratic Party, with few notable exceptions. The rise of this class has correlated with an increase in representation of Black entertainers, athletes, and media pundits to ensure the most progressive polity in the US, Black America, is kept in the ideological thrall of the ruling system. Baltimore’s Democratic Party mayor Catherine Pugh showed off her lock-step allegiance to the Black misleadership class with her veto of a bill that would have raised the local minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022.
By Jacob Steinblatt for Vocativ – A heavily armed left-wing group, the John Brown Gun Club, made a surprise appearance over the weekend at a pro-Trump rally being held in Phoenix, Arizona with a conciliatory message for supporters of the president. About two dozen men and women armed with a variety of rifles stood beside the march in downtown Phoenix, in order to both show their opposition to the Trump administration and its policies, and to appeal to supporters of President Trump as fellow members of the working class. The group describes itself as largely white and working class, with the ultimate goal of “total liberation of all working people, regardless of skin color, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, [or] nationality.”
By Aaron Morrison for Mic – Activist groups are uniting as a broader coalition they’ve dubbed “The Majority,” an idea inspired by the Movement for Black Lives — a collective of organizations in the Black Lives Matter movement — organizers first shared with Mic on Thursday. More than 50 partners representing black, Latino, the indigenous, LGBTQ, refugees, immigrants, laborers and the poor will collaborate from April 4 through May 1, International Worker’s Day, when they’ll launch massive protests across the country. The action will “go beyond moments of outrage, beyond narrow concepts of sanctuary, and beyond barriers between communities that have much at stake and so much in common,”…
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.