The Red Summer of 1919 put paid to the lie of a monochromatic class struggle as thousands of hysterical white workers took to the streets around the country over the course of the year to lynch, beat, shoot and burn to death more than 250 of their African American coworkers who they feared were replacing them in the workplace. One-hundred and ten years after O’Hare published her racist polemic, another white woman with ties to the political Left in the U.S., Krystal Ball, appeared on the Marxist economist Richard Wolff’s podcast to once again downplay the role that racism plays in the struggle between capital and labor.
I saw with my own eyes the celebration of worker solidarity and the indefatigable defense of the Cuban Revolution as waves of workers walked with signs and costumes and Cuban flags past the iconic images of Ernesto “Che” Guevara on the Ministry of the Interior building with the words he may be most famous for accompanying his image, “Hasta La Victoria Siempre,” or “Always onwards onto victory,” and another of Camilo Cienfuegos on the adjacent Telecommunications Building with the words “Vas Bien, Fidel,” or “You are doing well, Fidel,” underneath the image. Any picture or video captured of the May Day 2022 parade would reflect an unabated stream of masses of people holding banners, waving flags or scarves, and dancing to a vibrant live band between the billboards on one building at the entrance to the Plaza that read “Cuba vive y trabaja (Cuba lives and works)” and the imposing 109-meter tall José Marti memorial that overlooks the plaza.
The ruling class across Europe and in the US would rather see people divided than united against oligarchy, that’s why Left populism coupled with the working-class outlook represents a greater threat to the establishment. In the aftermath of the recent German Federal election many people were wondering how Die Linke (The Left) had become so relegated to the sidelines as to lose 30 seats and become the smallest party in Germany’s parliament. Many liberal publications were quick to place blame on Sahra Wagenknecht, one of Die Linke’s most prolific politicians, for the release of her book “The Self Righteous.” In the book, Wagenknecht attacks “lifestyle leftists” for whom being on the Left has become more about labels, identity, and lifestyles rather than the working-class roots that made leftist politics such a threat to the political establishment in the first place.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the contradictions of U.S. imperialism, including those that continue to render the American left politically isolated and ineffectual. China has found itself at the center of this process. U.S. imperialism has successfully convinced many of its so-called “citizens” to believe that the U.S. government is the principle arbiter of bourgeois freedoms such as the right to individual liberty and free speech. China, on the other hand, has long been depicted by the U.S. ruling class as an “authoritarian regime” where the rights of individuals are crushed under the weight of a centralized state. This Cold War era dichotomy persists into the present day. A strong yet often unspoken belief in the ideology of American exceptionalism within the American Left has created a massive double standard when it comes to China.
By Rod Such for The Electronic Antifada - One of the earliest boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, victories in the United States came in 1973 when United Auto Workers Local 600 in Dearborn, Michigan, voted to divest its Israeli bonds after a campaign waged by the Arab Workers Caucus and the American Arab Coordinating Committee. The campaign drew comparisons with apartheid South Africa and won the support of many Black autoworkers in Michigan. Was it just an oddity that decades before Palestinian civil society called for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in 2005, industrial workers in the US heartland were already waging a BDS struggle? Or, far from being a rogue wave, was it an integral part of the oceanic upheavals among workers, students, immigrants and people of color during the heady maelstroms of the 1960s and ’70s? The Rise of the Arab American Left makes it clear this was no oddity, although it did have certain characteristics unique to the Arab American experience. Given the relative paucity of scholarship on the history of the Arab American left, this book is a must-read for those who wish to learn more about that community’s activism during this period of radical upheaval.
By Emile Schepers for People's World - On Friday, August 25, President Trump announced the imposition of tough new sanctions on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as punishment for the establishment of a new National Constituent Assembly in that country. But the Constituent Assembly is not taking Trump’s latest attacks lying down, but rather is forging ahead with a full program of reforms on the heels of military threats against the South American country. Threats against Venezuela by the United States are not new. President Obama had already declared Venezuela to be an unusual threat to U.S. security and interests, using language required to make the imposition of sanctions legal. However, the composition and politics of the Trump administration have greatly increased the anti-Venezuela mood in our executive branch. The high concentration in the U.S. political establishment, in the Trump cabinet and among Trump’s closest advisors and personal cronies — of people with axes to grind against Venezuela — has increased the danger. For example, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used to be the CEO of Exxon-Mobil, a transnational oil giant which has had sharp disputes with the Venezuelan government over the nationalization of some of their properties in that country.
By Alfredo Saad-Filho for Open Democracy - The Brazilian Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) won the country’s presidential elections four times in a row; first with Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-06, 2007-10), then with his hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff (2011-14, 2015-16). During its 13 years in office, the PT changed Brazil in many ways; four are principally worth mentioning, as they would come to play key roles in the elite conspiracy to impeach Dilma Rousseff and destroy her party. First, the PT democratised the state. It implemented the social and civic rights included in the 1988 ‘Citizen’s Constitution’, and advanced Brazil’s emerging welfare state across several fields of social provision. Second, the PT changed the social composition of the state through the appointment of thousands of leaders of mass organisations to positions of power. For the first time in Brazilian history, millions of poor citizens could recognise themselves in the bureaucracy and relate to close friends and comrades who had become ‘important’ in Brasília. For the first time in Brazilian history, millions of poor citizens could recognise themselves in the bureaucracy.
By Naomi Wolf, Alicia Garza, Linda Tirado and May Boeve for The Guardian - The first 100 days of President Donald Trump: how has my life changed? First of all, there was the mourning period. Not for me, but for my fellow citizens. I was just mad. And I wasn’t even maddest at the Trump voters. I understood that the critical battle lines now are not left versus right, but the 1% neoliberal globalisers making off with all of the loot and disembowelling the middle class. So when I saw the campaign, I knew that in the US, just as in the UK, a candidate who said anything at all about people forgotten in the neoliberal race would have a solid chance. No – I was mad at my own leftwing tribe. All of January, people on the left would confront me with dazed, grief-stricken expressions, as if they had just emerged from a multi-car pileup on a foggy highway. “How could this have happened? What will we do?” I couldn’t even bear to participate in those conversations. Finally I started explaining my rage to my closest friends. I had been screaming about the possibility of this very moment for eight years, since I published a piece in the Guardian titled “Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps” and wrote a book based on it, called The End of America (2007).
By Danny Haiphong for Black Agenda Report - The Trump Administration's decision to conduct tomahawk missile strikes on a Syrian Arab Army airfield prompted activists in the US to hit the streets in protest. Protesters marched and spoke out against the airstrikes, which killed over a dozen Syrian soldiers on April 6th. The strikes come amidst intense pressure on the Trump Administration to abandon his campaign promises to ease relations with Russia and end regime change policy in the Middle East. In the days prior to the strike, Trump removed Steve Bannon as a formal leader in the National Security Council. Then, an alleged chemical weapons attack hit Idlib province, prompting President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to reverse their position that the future of the Syrian government rested in the hands of the Syrian people. Once again, the anti-war movement was put to the test. The Western left struggles with the question of war because its ideology is rooted in the social relations of imperialism.
By Arielle Levites for Religion Dispatches - Over the last twenty-five years, as more and more Americans cease affiliating with any particular religion or church, they increasingly identify with an alternative religious sensibility: “spirituality.” Approximately one in five Americans consider themselves “spiritual-but-not-religious.” While the practice of American spirituality is diverse and decentralized, my research shows that there are many common features in its expression, from yoga studios to mindfulness seminars. It may not surprise you to learn that the spiritual-but-not-religious heavily favor the Democratic Party. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012 found that Americans who identify as spiritual-but-not-religious are twice as likely to lean Democratic as they are to lean Republican (62% to 31%). But what kind of political activism does spirituality promote? The culture of American spirituality tends to emphasize civic action through emotional self-development. Spiritual practitioners argue that we can best change the world through changing ourselves. If we properly govern our own emotional responses, lowering negative emotion while cultivating positive emotion we make our country a better place...
By David Morgan for Counter Punch - The success of Donald J Trump in the US presidential elections is a reflection of a deep crisis in the two-party political system as well as divisions in the American ruling class. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats were able to muster a credible candidate from among mainstream politics who could command the loyalties of the party membership let along convince the great mass of the American public that they had what it takes to be president. The rise of the “Democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders neatly paralleled the rise of the populist “anti-politician” Donald Trump. But while Sanders arguably destroyed his entire credibility by endorsing Hillary Clinton so fulsomely Trump has continued to be an insurgent inside the White House to the dismay and anger of large swathes of the left and the media, many of whose star pundits have been exposed by WikiLeaks as being close allies of the Clinton campaign. CNN and others have infamously been taunted by Trump as “fake news” and “very fake news”.
By Nelson Lichtenstein for Dissent - Last Thursday’s “Day Without Immigrants” work stoppages, which closed hundreds of restaurants, grocery stores, garages, retail shops, and other businesses, offered a taste of the capacity for militant action wielded by immigrant America. Led in many cities by Latino activists calling for a “huelga general,” the February 16 coast-to-coast walkouts augur well for an even larger set of strikes and demonstrations, including a March 8 “Day Without a Woman” and quite possibly a May Day general strike, already endorsed by one of the Service Employees International Union’s biggest and most active California locals. This year’s May Day mobilization looks to replicate or even exceed the stupendous success of the original May 1, 2006 “Day without Immigrants,” which shut down agribusiness fields, poultry processing plants, warehouses, and the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Newark.
By Erik Loomis for New Republic - Days after the inauguration, the leaders of several building trade unions met with President Donald Trump at the White House, outraging those on the left who want organized labor to lead the resistance to the president’s anti-worker policies. The building trades cited Trump’s call for infrastructure investment and their warm personal relationship with him as reasons to be optimistic about his presidency. As reported in The New York Times, Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trade Unions, stated, “We have a common bond with the president. We come from the same industry. He understands the value of driving development, moving people to the middle class.”