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Biden Memos Show Palestine Advocacy Is Working

For a very long time, Palestinians and those in solidarity with them in the United States have faced mounting frustration. The work is hard, victories are rare, and they often seem very small against the setbacks and the ongoing loss of life and general misery that Israel brings to the lives of every Palestinian under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. If that is a more or less permanent feeling for many, it is more acute than ever now and for the past five months. We mobilize, we agitate, we protest, we argue, we shout, and not only does Israel’s genocide in Gaza continue, but U.S. President Joe Biden does everything he can to maintain both material and political support for it.

Forget Elections; Build Your Union

It’s a presidential election year. Are you happy? Excited? Ha. Of course not. Election years in America are fueled far more by fear and loathing than by any sense of genuine inspiration. For many of us, political news inspires a vague sense of disgust and a desire to tune it all out. The more politically engaged you are, the more you understand the awful stakes if the other side wins, and the more you fill with dread. Most of the time, the majestic American democratic project is an exercise in manipulative rhetoric, fearmongering, and, at best, a choice of Lesser Evils. Much of this is hardwired into our inflexible two-party system. Left (and right) wingers are forced into power struggles against hostile party establishments.

Answering The Call

First, what is strategy, and why does anyone need it? Aren’t social movements all about taking action to create change? Deepak Bhargava and Stephanie Luce, who teach at CUNY’s School of Labor and Urban Studies, tackle this question head-on. “How do oppressed people, facing far stronger opponents, sometimes win?” The key to an underdog’s success, they argue, is strategy. While long-term planning comes naturally to the wealthy and powerful, strategy is even more important for the dispossessed to achieve their goals. Yet if the stories of the less powerful are rarely told, their strategies are even harder to trace.

How Do We Develop Strategies That Help Workers In Struggle Win?

How do we use organizing for collective power and solidarity, to win steps toward new power over our own lives? Labor Power and Strategy is a compelling take on this question, and the dialogue between organizers and educators is the kind of far reaching discussion we need to advance our workers movement.

Beyond Fatalism: Renewing Working-Class Politics

“We need to ask ourselves,” Leo Panitch and Donald Swartz stated in the third edition of From Consent to Coercion, “whether free pertains to those who do business or whether it pertains also to the majority of Canadians who do not do business.” Their book, now a classic, focused on a critical expression of the tension between liberal democratic principles and capitalist realities: the substantive right of workers to strike. Canadian workers were officially granted the basic democratic right to form unions, but the substance of that right – the withdrawal by workers of their labour power – was regularly suspended when workers successfully used it.

Justice 4 Jackson: Help Us Fix Jackson’s Water System

Jackson, Mississippi - Jackson, Mississippi Is Currently Suffering Through An Unprecedented Water Crisis. After Decades Of Systematic And Intentional Neglect Due To Environmental Racism, Capital Flight And Deindustrialization, The City's Water System Has Collapsed. This Collapse Didn’t Have To Happen. As A Result Of The City’s Declining Tax Base Over The Decade, It Cannot Pay For The Repairs By Itself. Nor Should It Have To. Jackson Is The Capitol Of The State Of Mississippi, Which Means It Is The Base Of State Government And Resources. In Addition, It Is Also Where The Federal Government’s Administrative Resources In The State Are Concentrated.

We Are The Economy

I recently moved back to the United States after over a decade abroad. It’s been an interesting re-acclimation which I believe some people call ‘reverse culture shock’. There is so much about this country, my home, that is comfortable and familiar. A shared language, sense of humor, and customs allow me to flow through this society with ease. However, the thing that has stood out more than anything is that nearly everyone I meet seems to be struggling with some form of anxiety or depression. What’s even more jarring is that they all seem to feel like it’s their fault — telling themselves they just need to work harder, meditate, or exercise more to emerge from this crushing darkness. But if everyone is feeling this way, then clearly there must be something bigger at play.

Should We Disrupt The Democratic Party Or Try To Take It Over?

When trying to figure out how they should interact with political parties, social movements face a common challenge: Should they push from without or seek to operate from within? Should they act as a destabilizing threat to all politicians, or should they work to build strength within a mainstream party? Frances Fox Piven and Daniel Schlozman are two theorists who stand at opposite poles of this debate. In Piven’s view, movements win by deploying disruptive power from the outside that can polarize the public and create discomfort among politicians. “[M]ovements of mass defiance fired the most important episodes of class and racial reform in the 20th century,” she contends. “This capacity to create political crises through disrupting institutions is … the chief resource for political influence possessed by the poorer classes.”

On Remembering Stanley Aronowitz

Brother Stanley Aronowitz was always ahead of the curve, with his criticism of the shortcomings of old labor and his envisioning of “a new workers movement” that might replace it. During the 1960s, campus radicals turned to him, as a former factory worker and staff member of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers, for advice about the student left’s much debated and then still pending “turn toward the working class.” Late in life, while well embedded in academia, he remained a teacher union activist and successful reform caucus member. In a series of incisive books like False Promises, Working-Class Hero, and From the Ashes of the Old, Stanley always took “slumbering mainstream unions” to task for their lack of militancy, diversity, internal democracy, and progressive politics.

It’s A Myth That Presidents Welcome Movement Pressure

In early 2009, as Barack Obama prepared to move into the White House, a particular historical anecdote rapidly gained in popularity, repeated in dozens of talks and articles as a parable for how supporters should respond to the new president taking office. The story related a New Deal-era encounter between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a group of activists, usually said to have been led by A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. In the meeting, the advocates laid out a vision of bold action for change that the president could advance with his bully pulpit and his executive power.

COVID-19 Exposes Need For Radical Policies To Tackle Inequality

In the run-up to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris taking office on January 20, a key debate raging now is about what kind of change they will usher in. Some say it is clear from those two leaders’ biographies that they herald the bold transformations needed to tackle the inequalities that scar society. Others say it is clear from their biographies that they will not. History suggests, however, that neither of those arguments gets it quite right. That key to what happens is what we do, together. For my new book, How to Fight Inequality, I looked at what we could learn from how inequality had been tackled in the past. What I found, across the world, was that progress in tackling inequality was never simply gifted by political leaders. It was won through people power.

Lessons Of The Rebellion: #BlackLivesMatter And Beyond

The experiences of the George Floyd Rebellion continue to provide invaluable lessons for the coming period. As November quickly approaches and the nation faces a possible constitutional crisis, now is a crucial time to remember the power of popular resistance.  We are still in the midst of an unprecedented national uprising against state violence and white supremacy. Tens of millions of people have flooded into the streets of America, demanding systemic change through sustained mass protest and bold disruptive action.

Time For Unions To Give The Democratic Party An Ultimatum

On Labor Day, Joe Biden did an online event with AFL-CIO pres­i­dent Richard Trum­ka to talk up unions. At this point in his polit­i­cal career, Biden can do these things in his sleep. His well rehearsed grab bag of pro-union lines (”My uncle in Scran­ton, Uncle Ed, used to say, ​‘Joe, you’re labor from belt buck­le to shoe sole’”) flow out eas­i­ly. The ques­tion for America’s union mem­bers is whether any­thing tan­gi­ble will flow back to us if Biden is elect­ed, or if we will — as has hap­pened in pre­vi­ous Demo­c­ra­t­ic admin­is­tra­tions — have to sat­is­fy our­selves with pats on the head and White House photo-ops. 

Expropriation Or Bust

Election seasons bring with them a renewed interest in politics. For most that couldn't care less about such concerns, election season becomes, for at least a moment, a time to reflect on deeper issues. For those of us who spend a large portion of our lives thinking, writing, acting, and engaging in these larger-than-life matters, election seasons bring other questions: can we affect change through the electoral system, how effective is voting, and how can we overcome the corporate stranglehold over politics, to name a few. However, beneath all of the political discussions lies an uncomfortable and overwhelming truth: Nearly all of our problems are rooted in the massively unequal ownership of land, wealth, and power that exists among the over-7 billion human beings on earth.
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