“This week, February 24, 2024 marks the beginning of the third year of the war in Ukraine. Hundreds, if not thousands, of assessments of the first two years of the war will be published, heard, or viewed. As the war now enters its third year, Russia recently announced victory in a major regional battle for the strategic city of Avdeyevka in the Donetsk region of east Ukraine. Avdeyevka was the lynchpin for Ukrainian defenses throughout the region which, by some indications, are beginning to fracture. After similar Russian strategic victories in the strategic cities of Bakhmut in 2023, and Mariupol in 2022, Russia lacked sufficient numerical forces to capitalize on those victories and launch new offensives to further expand its area of control.
In April 2015, the Pacific Standard (RIP to yet another quality outlet shuttered) published a defense of rent control—with an opening salvo declaring it dead. New York tenant organizers would go on to win small, highly technical improvements to their rent regulation system a little later that year, but in the broad strokes, the Standard’s appraisal at the time wasn’t wrong. Localized systems in New York, California, and New Jersey were riddled with pro-landlord loopholes, while 31 states had instituted outright rent control bans, most at the behest of a shadowy neo-con organization.
After decades of defeat, workers are on the move again. Many of those interested today in a revived labor movement know that unions once exercised real sway over the national economy and politics in the US. And the distant memory of how the labor movement was built holds great symbolic power: as thousands of union organizers have asked in meetings, how did they do it in the 1930s? The United Auto Workers named and conceptualized their recent, triumphant “Stand-Up Strike” in explicit homage to their union’s breakthrough sitdown strikes of 1936–1937.
Fourscore and seven years ago—1937, to be exact—our fathers on the Supreme Court (well, five of them, which was just enough) brought forth a new nation: New Deal America. In that year, the justices ruled that the most fundamental legislative works of Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency—Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—were constitutional. So said the Court; so said, in the NLRA case, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, the decision’s author, who had been the Republican candidate for president in 1916.
How transformative was the strike that the United Auto Workers concluded in November 2023, when it shut down factories at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, which now incorporates Chrysler? The UAW has been in existence for nearly 90 years, during which three contests with capital have defined the character of the union and–because of its vanguard role–the expectations and standards for millions of other workers. Should we add last Fall’s brilliantly led and highly successful “stand-up” strike to that list? The great sit-down strikes of 1937 founded the UAW and ensured that, for more than a decade, shop militancy and leftwing politics would define a union representing upwards of a million workers in America’s most important industry.
Growing up in the 1960s, the Rev. Roger Dixon heard the warnings every time the William Penn High School football team was set to play Cedar Cliff. “The older men used to say ‘don’t get caught up there after the game. You might get into trouble. They might try to arrest you,’” recalls Dixon, who is Black and graduated from William Penn in 1966. Rafiyqa Muhammad tells of a similar experience growing up in Harrisburg. “Our parents always told us about certain areas,” she said. “Our father would tell us don’t go here, don’t go there. Do not go over to the West Shore. I remember we would drive in and drive out. There was no going over and hanging out.”
I doubt it’s a coincidence that Malcolm — born 99 years ago this year and assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965 — was a model for the martyred Palestinian writer Refaat Alareer. Indeed, at a talk in 2012, Alareer would recall his introduction to Malcolm: “I was teaching a course, and there was an amazing passage about this man, of whom I had never heard before. The passage was so eloquent, so articulate, so amazing that it pulled me into this personality, this area of knowledge that I, again, never knew before. … Malcolm X has had, since then, an amazing influence on my life, to the extent that I now name him as my number one role model.’“
Forty years ago, Irma Sherman and the over 150 homecare workers employed by “McMaid” (Yes, McMaid really was the name of the company) decided they’d had enough of low wages and no benefits and began to organize their union with United Labor Unions (ULU) Local 880, a small, independent union founded by ACORN, the national community organization. While McMaid advertised itself as one of Chicago’s premier “maid services,” with a green and white logo depicting a scantily clad white “maid” happily dancing around with feather duster in hand, in reality, the workers at McMaid were mostly Black and Brown middle-aged women who were not happy about their conditions.
Traditional knowledge held by local and indigenous communities about managing forests and trees is disappearing globally due to various pressures. Policies promoting development often ignore traditional forest management practices that historically provided food security for these communities. The degradation of land, caused by deforestation, overgrazing, or urban development, alters precipitation patterns, impacting the availability of groundwater during the dry season and intensifying floods during the rainy season. However, amid this loss, a glimmer of hope emerges. Flashes of ancient wisdom guide towards reintegrating oasis agricultural techniques. Palm groves, treasures of a forgotten heritage, hold abandoned agricultural knowledge, much like the ruins of ksour settlements.
On an almost monthly basis the press, and scholars, focus on the death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, in a plane crash near the Rhodesian town of Ndola, not far from the Congo-Katanga border, on the night of 17 – 18 September 1961. Accident or assassination attempt? And if it was an assassination, who was guilty? These are questions to which the UN itself is seeking answers. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the plane was shot down. If this is indeed the case, we must look for the perpetrators in what was then Katanga, a Congolese province which, shortly after Congo’s independence, broke away from the central power with the powerful mining company Union Minière (Umicore) and local politicians in the entourage of Moïse Tshombe.
Fidel Castro, the world recognizes as a historic anti-imperialist figure, repeatedly warned that the main danger to humanity is US imperialism: “There is an enemy that can be called universal, an enemy whose attitude and whose actions…threaten the whole world, bully the whole world, that universal enemy is Yankee imperialism.” He fought to build a world united front against imperialism, of the world’s peoples and countries to oppose the barbarous actions of US imperialism. We see that anti-imperialist unity right now with United Nations votes and worldwide protests against the US-Israeli slaughters in Gaza, in what the New York Times in 2003 called “a second superpower.”
This year represents the 98th anniversary of the launching of “Negro History Week” in 1926, later named Black History Month in 1976, after the federal government issued a proclamation in recognition of the contributions of African American people under the administration of President Gerald R. Ford. The commemoration was founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a pioneering scholar and public intellectual who founded the Journal of Negro History in 1915 and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History the following year, 1916. Woodson’s origins within the African American working class is a demonstration of the determination to seek formal education in the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the South and other regions of the United States.
In 1978, Volkswagen became the first foreign-owned company to manufacture cars in the United States since Rolls-Royce in the 1930s, setting up shop in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania. “This is one of the most important organized victories in years for the UAW,” said United Auto Workers President Doug Fraser after VW workers voted 865 to 17 to join the union. “We believe that there will be other foreign automakers deciding to open plants in the U.S. and we intend to organize those workers as well.” Since then, some 35 shiny new engine and assembly plants have been installed along I-75 and I-55, forming an automotive corridor from the Midwest to the South that today employs about 150,000 workers
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the largest social movement in the Americas: Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement, or MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra in Portuguese). What began as a group of displaced farmers has evolved over decades into a mass movement — with as many as two million members and a presence in 24 of Brazil’s 26 states. Today, the movement is the largest producer of organic food in Brazil and the largest producer of organic rice in all Latin America. While Brazil remains one of the world’s most unequal nations, the MST has made incredible progress during their 40 years of existence