Purity Over Principle: The Left’s State Of Purgatory

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By Danny Haiphong for Black Agenda Report – The first 100 days of Donald Trump’s Presidency has revealed much about the state of political thought and action in the United States. Mainly, Trump’s ascendancy thus far has been a hard lesson on the still ambiguous and disorganized condition of the left. But what, or who, is the Left? This broad but critical question still warrants an answer. However, the question cannot be answered unless the left’s state of purgatory in the US is fully understood. Purgatory is often referenced in Christianity as the space between the divine light of heaven and the profound darkness of hell. Purgatory has another definition rooted in mental anguish. For the left, purgatory can be better described as ideological anguish. Little clarity exists among left organizations and groups on the most pertinent questions of the historical moment, leaving the left in an ineffectual “no man’s land.” One consequence of the left’s purgatory has been the complete entrapment of politics inside of a US-Eurocentric quest for purity at the expense of political principles. The Trump Administration verified the left’s entrapment with its recent war maneuvers against Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Preparing For The Next ‘Movement Moment’

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By George Lakey for Waging Nonviolence – As alumni of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street phenomenon might tell you, more preparation might have expanded Occupy’s impact. Such a “movement moment” is inevitably marked by improvisation, but bringing lessons learned from previous uprisings is bound to help. More such moments are on their way — particularly in countries like the United States, which are experiencing increasing polarization and longer-term decline of the legitimacy of both political and economic establishments. We can’t predict where and when the next movement moment will start. Fortunately, help has shown up to steer us away from predictable mistakes when the moment comes. Jonathan Matthew Smucker’s new book is right in time, revealing deep learning from the important role he played in the Occupy movement. He also draws on years of other organizing work and his research on social movements. The book starts with a deliberately provocative title: “Hegemony How-To: A Road Map for Radicals.” Hegemony, Smucker says, is acceptance by the mainstream of a particular worldview as common sense.

“Storm The Heavens”: Notes From The Weather Underground On Resistance

Weather Underground Organization founding members Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn speak in San Francisco, California, February 20, 2009. (Photo: Steve Rhodes)

By Dahr Jamail for Truthout – Those of us living within the borders of the United States currently find ourselves living inside the churning engine of a hyper-militarized corporate-fascist farce of a democracy that is spiraling into darkness. The blades of this death-machine are grinding what is left of our precious planet into dust. Now, think back nearly five decades ago to the late 1960s. The Vietnam War was escalating dramatically and imperialism was lurching forward rapidly enough to cause ongoing demonstrations and political activism to spread like wildfire across the seething country. Some were fueled by a hunger for justice great enough they engaged in armed struggle against the US government. It was they who comprised The Weather Underground Organization (WUO), a faction of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) that took up arms in solidarity with the Black Panthers and other militant groups with the aim to “Bring the War Home.” Going underground to escape the relentless pursuit of the FBI and other law enforcement, the group managed to carry out several high-profile bombings…

What Does It Take For Activists To Get Your Attention?

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By Brian Martin for Waging Nonviolence – For major protests today, it is standard to have a media strategy. For example, there can be individuals assigned to media liaison. The location and timing of an action can be chosen with an eye toward media schedules. Some actions are designed specifically to attract media attention. However, there are many factors that complicate activist efforts to reach the mass media. Major outlets choose what to report based on news values such as conflict, prominence and proximity. A politician will be quoted rather than an activist, and a scuffle at a rally will be reported rather than what the protest is actually about. Activists can try to sidestep the mass media by using social media. Another option is simply to not worry so much about media coverage and focus on making actions meaningful for participants. After all, protesters are part of the audience. There is lots of practical advice on how to send the protest message, and it is definitely worth understanding media dynamics and taking them into account. However, protesters will nearly always be at a disadvantage when trying to compete with dominant groups…

Beyond Voting: Skills You Need To Get Shit Done In A Democracy

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By Staff of The Leap Blog – In my hometown of Billings, Montana, I was leading a training on effective public commenting last month at the local library. We had just finished watching a five-minute video I put together with a few examples of compelling speakers. I didn’t know if anyone would come, because I hadn’t done any active recruitment—just made an event on Facebook and waited to see who showed up. There was no specific issue I was pushing, no ask of the attendees. And to my surprise, forty people showed up. Before Trump, I doubt there would have been more than five or ten. As one political party ceded the driver’s seat to the other, tens of millions of people had been dozing on the passenger side

Begging For Our Lives

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By Margaret Flowers for Health Over Profit – “Indiegogo, which launched in 2008 to help filmmakers raise money online, has seen such a marked uptick in personal fundraising to pay for medical costs that it recently started Indiegogo Life — for personal causes, including healthcare. There are a host of other medical crowd-funding sites such as GoFundMe and YouCaring — both of which also report huge increases in medical fundraising in the last two years.” “Here’s a way to give to an individual — it might be someone you know or someone you’ve never met. You know what their need is and that your donation will go to meeting their exact need,” says Leonard Lee, head of communications for YouCaring based in San Francisco.” “A lot of people who thought they had adequate insurance coverage find themselves in situations where insurance is not enough,” he says.

Love, Western Nihilism And Revolutionary Optimism

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By Andre Vltchek for Investigation Action – How dreadfully depressing life has become in almost all of the Western cities! How awful and sad. It is not that these cities are not rich; they are. Of course things are deteriorating there, the infrastructure is crumbling and there are signs of social inequality, even misery, at every corner. But if compared to almost all other parts of the world, the wealth of the Western cities still appears to be shocking, almost grotesque. The affluence does not guarantee contentment, happiness or optimism. Spend an entire day strolling through London or Paris, and pay close attention to people. You will repeatedly stumble over passive aggressive behavior, over frustration and desperate downcast glances, over omnipresent sadness.

Manifesto For A Naïve Activism

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By Rev. Billy Talen for Common Dreams – It is the darkest of times; it is the brightest of times. A mentally ill President slouches toward the nuclear suitcase to mistake a Twitter feed for the big one. But he can see in the windows of the Oval Office, out in streets, the 99% and the Black Lives and the Kayaktivists and the Pussy Power and the Dreamers and the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. This succession of startling movements are the seeds of our revolution. The pattern over the five plus years since Occupy Wall Street is one of peaks and valleys. Up in the visionary light of a life-saving rebellion and then down into the aftermath of months and months of organizing, meetings and marches and rallies…

Fight For $15 And Movement For Black Lives Join Forces On Anniversary Of MLK’s Assassination

According to a report by the National Employment Law Project, Black, Latino, and female workers are overrepresented in the segment of the population that makes less than $15 an hour, with more than half of Black Americans and almost 60 percent of Latinos making less than this amount. (Photo credit: Maha Ahmed)

By Maha Ahmed for In These Times – Protesters rallied at three locations in Chicago: Federal Plaza, a McDonald’s at the intersection of Adams Street and Wells Street, and the Illinois Policy Institute, a right-wing policy research organization, located in the heart of the financial district. At each place, members from Fair Economy Illinois, Black Lives Matter (BLM) Chicago, Fight for $15 and a community advocacy group called ONE Northside spoke about the history and legacy of King’s assassination in the context of current organizing. Among those who shared their stories were fast-food workers and faith leaders. In addition to targeting President Donald Trump, the Chicago action also specifically called out Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.

10 Ways Movements Can Encourage And Support Whistleblowers

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By Anthony Kelly for Waging Nonviolence – Whistleblowers from within institutions, corporations, government departments, police or military can be critical to movement success, and their testimony is often the key to exposing and resisting injustice and creating change. Institutions clamp down on and deter whistleblowing for good reason. Whistleblowers can shake major institutions. They can feed vital information to movements, can warn activists about impending threats, can expose corruption, public health dangers and reduce the power of governments and deep state agencies. Disclosing secrets and releasing information poses high risks and personal costs and always takes a fair degree of courage.

Grassroots Movements Bring Fresh Air To Democracies: Analyst

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By Staff of Tele Sur – According to Bianchi, from the Latin American Network for Political Innovation, the situation in Ecuador is critical, as a right-wing banker Guillermo Lasso faces a political battle against Lenin Moreno, the successor of left-wing President Rafael Correa and part of the so-called Pink Tide of progressive governments in the region. “We can go towards more conservative governments that are implying — and now we know that it’s happening — a reversion of rights,“ said Bianchi, likening the political scenario in Ecuador to the elections in Argentina that brought businessman Mauricio Macri to power, leading to a wave of neoliberal measures.

Lessons From The Youth Movement Of The 1960s

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By Staff of Okland Socialist – In 1964, UC Berkeley exploded around what became known as the “Free Speech Movement.” In a speech at that campus in December of that year, Mario Savio, the best know leader of that movement said, “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

We Need Popular Participation, Not Populism

The former mayor of Porto Alegre, Olivio Dutra, campaigning with the people of Bento Goncalves. Photo by Emilio Pedros.

By Hilary Wainwright for Red Pepper – The struggle for the vote for workers and for women was resisted at every stage, and when universal suffrage was finally won, every effort was made to blunt and control its impact through institutional devices. These included second chambers, disproportional electoral systems, executive powers and, most importantly, a rigid separation of politics from economics. Any historical study shows us that the elites, political and economic, fear the demands, desires and collective power of the people. Hence it must be mediated and dissipated before it touches on the centres of power. The end result is minimalist democracy: periodic votes choosing different leaders.

Reason And Justice Address Realities

People marching in Austin, Texas on Saturday were among the millions nationwide who mobilized to express their dismay at the reality of President Donald Trump. "There are millions of people in this country who currently feel lost and alone and would like to contribute to movements that envision a more just society," writes Lobel. But in addition to organizing this new wave of energy, he adds, there must also be "a coherent strategy and vision" if transformative change is to be achieved. (Photo: Steve Rainwater/flickr/cc)

By Ralph Nader for The Nader Page – Consider the immense public attention to health insurance and health care and the recent struggles over Obamacare and now Ryancare. Conspicuously absent from the dialogues that pundits, politicians and reporters carry on is that the third leading cause of death in the U.S. is “medical error.” According to a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine report last May, over 250,000 people lose their lives yearly in U.S. hospitals from “diagnostic errors, medical mistakes and the absence of safety nets” to stop hospital-induced infections, incompetent personnel, dangerous mixes of prescribed drugs and more. Yet in the debate surrounding the health care industry…

Why The Resistance Must Do More Than Resist

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By Ira Chernus for Common Dreams – The resistance is a huge movement—yuge! At least that’s how it feels when you are in it. And it’s true that the United States has not seen anything like this since the Vietnam war days. Still, Trump and the Republicans in Washington roll on, with some new horror every day. Maybe the resistance isn’t yuge enough yet. It has plenty of chance to grow, though. The potential is clearly there. Let’s look at the numbers. Over 4 million people showed up for a Women’s March somewhere in the U.S. And I know plenty of people who totally sympathized with the March but never got there. Let’s assume that for every Marcher there was one person who wasn’t there but is involved in some kind of resistance action now.