Without democratizing unions and the creation of a unified actual leftwing movement, the recent relatively tiny gains of unionized workers (the majority of whom had to drag their unions into supporting them) are way too little, way too late. For instance, L.A. teachers made it clear a major part of this strike was to save public education from the privatizers/charter school advocates. If the new contract goes through, there is nothing I’ve seen that will stop the privatizers. Also, the majority of the class size agreement offers little to no change. Unfortunately, other recent “wins” from other unions follow this line. In West Virginia, the teachers strike was largely about healthcare costs. Their costs are still going through the roof. Radical (root change) is the only way out. Fundamental change of the world’s economic system. We are nowhere near taking even the first step of that journey. This takes nothing away from the blood, sweat, and tears people are putting into working for change. We have to unify outside these institutions and take over the ones that haven’t been privatized. Teachers can start by democratizing their unions – like they don’t have enough to do already…
Union density—the share of employed workers belonging to unions—fell to 10.5% in 2018, the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting the data in its modern form in 1964, down from 2017’s 10.7%. (See graph below.) After rising 0.1 point in 2017, private sector density fell back to match 2016’s 6.4%, the lowest since stats began in 1929. Republican governors’ war on public sector unions is having a visible effect: just 33.9% of government workers belonged to unions last year, the lowest since 1978, when membership was on an upswing—an effect that is only going to intensify as the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus case, which forbids mandatory payment of union dues, spreads.
There’s an old lie that unions are good for white men and no one else. That’s the opposite of the case. As the graph below shows, black women, for…
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At that ‘omega- point’ nothing would be left of man’s autonomous original nature, except organized intelligence: a universal and omnipotent layer of abstract mind, loveless and lifeless. Now, we cannot understand the role that technics has played in human development without a deeper insight into the historic nature of man.
—Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine
Lewis Mumford envisioned how our planetary civilization was evolving into an all encompassing machinic system of ‘megatechnics’ of hypercapitalism in which automation would be the guiding motif, shaping our desires to those of a machinic existence in a collective world ruled and governed by algorithmic necessity. The assault on philosophical individualism and passion by various trends in the neurosciences and neo-rationalism is pushing us into a collective enterprise in which humans are being re-engineered to serve a collective intelligence, hooked both spiritually and physically to a system of normative regulatory processes of domestication…
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By Paul Buchheit
A White House report recently proclaimed that the “War on Poverty is largely over and a success.” United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said it was “ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America.”
Well-positioned Americans must talk like this, of course, because admitting the debilitating state of poverty in America might provoke feelings of guilt for 35 years of oppressive economic policies. Wealthier people need to take an honest look at the facts. They need to face reality as it sadly exists in America today.
1 in 7 Americans is Part of the World’s Poorest 10%
According to the Credit Suisse 2018 Global Wealth Databook, 34 million American adults are among the world’s poorest 10%. How is that possible? In a word, debt. In more excruciating words: stifling, misery-inducing, deadly amounts of debt for the poorest Americans. And it goes beyond dollars to…
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Children can be oppositional and defiant when they feel forced to do something or when their wants and needs are ignored. This is especially the case with young children and children with disabilities who can have a great deal of trouble expressing themselves. Lack of agency, not feeling heard, and difficulty expressing wants and needs can even result in violent outbursts and tantrums.
One tactic used to circumvent or diffuse those situations is to offer the child a choice. One of the least effective choices in the long run is some variation of, “my way or the highway.” It tends to build-up contempt over time and can result in nasty blow-ups. But there are other kinds of choices that tend to work more often and don’t have as many negative outcomes. One is to offer the child two options: the first is what the adult wants them to do and the second is something the child definitely wouldn’t choose on her own but it seems much more reasonable to her than simply, “do it or be punished.” Another common approach is to give the child two choices that appear different when they are actually just slight variations of the same thing. These last two choices are essentially false choices and usually require the child to be young or have special needs, or both. When children begin to grow up, they have a much easier time seeing when they are being manipulated.
At this point, either you are trying to figure out what I’m talking about or why I’m talking about it, or an analogy is becoming crystal clear in your mind. Here it is:
We, the voters, the citizens (and I use that term loosely), are perceived by the power elite as potentially violent, disabled (no voice) children. A great deal of time, effort, and money has been spent to insure that we only have two parties to choose from (de facto, if not de jure). They are both business parties essentially controlled by corporations. So, when the “democratic process” deigns it, we “make a choice” like responsible big boys and girls and feel like we have some semblance of agency in the workings of “government” (and yes, I use the term loosely). Those who still even bother to vote that is. If you look-up the statistics you will find astonishingly low voter turnout numbers in the u.s.a for almost all elections.
Of course, at this late date in our “grand experiment” we are usually holding our proverbial nose while marking a ballot or checking a box and uttering the phrase, “lesser of two evils” or something a bit harsher if we have the energy for it. Our so-called representatives don’t represent the majority of us, and those who do have no real power. In other words, if you look at the majority of people who don’t vote and the minority of people who do vote but don’t like the choices offered to them, the false choice technique is on the wane. But, surprisingly, it still seems to be serving its intended purpose. In some ways, better than ever.
When you hear genuine applause from working people for candidates who are millionaires funded by billionaires, you know the potentially violent children with disabilities are going to stay compliant because they feel they are essentially in control of their lives and their choices – the choices they are given of course…
What happens when all of us realize we have been manipulated with the ruse of the false choice? Well, our corporate rulers and their government functionaries will revert to more direct methods to force us into compliance.
Ok, the analogies are over.
Good luck to us all.
K.A. Bryce over at A Mirror Obscura just started selling his collage art, which I have been enjoying for years now, in greeting card form. His message: “I’m now selling my collages as greeting cards on Etsy. Please stop by and let me know what you think. Smiles>KB” Definitely worth your time to check them out. Some samples above.
By Andre Damon
Media outlets removed by Facebook on Thursday, in a massive purge of 800 accounts and pages, had previously been targeted in a blacklist of oppositional sites promoted by the Washington Post in November 2016.
The organizations censored by Facebook included The Anti-Media, with 2.1 million followers, The Free Thought Project, with 3.1 million followers, and Counter Current News, with 500,000 followers. All three of these groups had been on the blacklist.
In November 2016, the Washington Post published a puff-piece on a shadowy, and up to then largely unknown, organization called PropOrNot, which had compiled a list of organizations it claimed were part of a “sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign.”
The Post said the report “identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans.”
The publication of the blacklist drew widespread…
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Set: Getting much better
Direction and camera work: Whole nutha level
Elephant in the room: Touched its toenail
What is the elephant in the room? The people, who will have to form a highly organized, radical mass movement to “educate” the politicians and fight the right at every level. Without this, no socialist program administered through the government will work in the long run. A left that relies solely on a government party as its only voice and expression will not survive, or thrive – at least not under capitalism. Labour will have to be pushed (and supported) by an organized left. So, even with a Corbyn win and a majority of MP’s who identify as socialists, the “what is to be done” question will be more insistent than ever. And, not to sound like and old lefty, but, internationalism is a huge necessary component of all of this and it rarely gets a mention.
I know, it was a short talk and there was an attempt at a focused discussion, but this idea of educating “the people” about socialism while governing is not only not easy, but I wonder what it means in theory and in practice (and just saying praxis, is not an answer).
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
This facade of democratic process eviscerates one of the primary social bonds in a democratic state and abolishes the vital shared belief that citizens have the power to govern themselves, that government exists to promote and protect their rights and interests.
The French sociologist Emile Durkheim in his classic book “On Suicide” examined the disintegration of social bonds that drive individuals and societies to personal and collective acts of self-destruction. He found that when social bonds are strong, individuals achieve a healthy balance between individual initiative and communal solidarity, which he called a “life-sustaining…
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By Alan Mcleod
Media giant Facebook recently announced (Reuters, 9/19/18) it would combat “fake news” by partnering with two propaganda organizations founded and funded by the US government: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The social media platform was already working closely with the NATO-sponsored Atlantic Council think tank (FAIR.org, 5/21/18).
In a previous FAIR article (8/22/18), I noted that the “fake news” issue was being used as a pretext to attack the left and progressive news sites. Changes to Facebook’s algorithm have reduced traffic significantly for progressive outlets like Common Dreams (5/3/18), while the pages of Venezuelan government–backed TeleSur English and the independent Venezuelanalysis were shut down without warning, and only reinstated after a public outcry.
The Washington, DC–based NDI and IRI are staffed with senior Democratic and Republican politicians; the…
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Disappearing World Forum Q&A Session with Arundhati Roy, held at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, 2013
One could write a never-ending book about all that is contained in and around this event so it will be difficult to write anything short here. I could say something romantic about ugliness and beauty, about the drama of our existence, of exploiter and the exploited, of greed and resistance to that greed. Or about the possibility that we humans are flawed in our very DNA and evolution and may never be capable of collective peace and goodwill to all. I could say history is never in the past. I could say ideology is profound, especially when it has almost unlimited power driving it into plastic labile minds. I could say capitalism is a fundamental threat to the survival of almost all living things – especially humans. I could say corporate neoliberal rule is designed to exacerbate the logic of capitalism which is ceaseless accumulation and the commodification of all things. Or I could focus on the institution and histories and ideologies and power relations that brought those specific questioners there at that particular time. Or I could focus on Arundhati and all she is representing and all the superlatives that would flow from there. All of the strength, intelligence, elegance, beauty, all of the eloquence, patience, and fortitude. Or I could point out her seeming prescience about our current state of affairs, which was actually a clear-eyed left analysis that has been on the right (correct) side of history for generations, along with common sense ideas like fairness, justice, right and wrong…and feelings, like passion and empathy. Well, the never-ending book won’t start now, so here ends this bit of thought and feeling, digitized, and published for those few who will come across it.
Are we in the beginning of a new fascist era?
This week on the Project Censored Show Mickey Huff welcomes new co-host Chase Palmieri as they welcome back world-renowned educator, author, and public intellectual, Professor Henry Giroux. They discuss Giroux’s latest book from City Lights Books Open Media Series, American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism.
“In this current era of corporate media misdirection and misinformation . . . Henry Giroux is one of the few great political voices of today, with powerful insight into the truth.
Henry A. Giroux City Lights Books
June 18, 2018
Are we in the beginning of a new fascist era?
As white supremacy, ultra-nationalism, rabid misogyny and anti-immigrant fervor coalesce, a new and uniquely American form of fascism looms. Could our current moment actually bring about the end of democracy in…
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By Barry Grey
The concentration of the planet’s wealth in the hands of a narrow financial elite is growing by leaps and bounds. A new report published Tuesday reveals that the wealth of the world’s 18.1 million “high net worth individuals”—those having investable assets of $1 million or more—shot up by 10.6 percent last year to top $70 trillion for the first time ever.
The “World Wealth Report 2018,” issued by the consulting firm Capgemini, revealed that the combined wealth of the world’s millionaires rose for the sixth consecutive year in 2017 to reach $70.2 trillion. It is on target to surpass $100 trillion by 2025.
Capgemini defines a high net wealth individual (HNWI) as someone with assets above $1 million, excluding his or her primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables. This defines a wealthy elite that owns more than $1 million in stocks, bonds, real estate…
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“In this war-torn world, what is desperately needed – but what Burns and Novick fail to convey – is an honest rendering of that war to help the American people avoid yet more catastrophic wars.”
By Common Dreams May 31, 2018
A national veterans’ organization is weighing in on this year’s Emmy awards with a full-page ad in Variety, saying Ken Burns and Lynne Novick’s “Vietnam War” series does not deserve a “Best Documentary” award.
Veterans For Peace (VFP), headquartered in St. Louis, with 175 chapters in the U.S. and six overseas, will run the Variety ad prior to the awards on September 17, to generate discussion about the series and the lasting impact it will have if “crowned with an Emmy.”
The ad says that because “The Emmy…
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At this point the choice for liberals is clear, but it’s clear the liberals asking the questions still don’t get it – or they do get it, but are so steeped in the venality of capitalism and neoliberalism they are confused. Yanis is frequently called a radical and liberals have consistently dismissed him as unrealistic, though it’s clear they are willing to listen more now than they have been in the past. If liberals still think Yanis is a radical they are sadly mistaken. He is offering the moderate way forward. I don’t know how big his organization is at the moment and it’s yet to be seen if it will gain enough traction to become viable in Europe, but if self-proclaimed liberals can’t get behind someone like him…well, I’ll leave it to you to complete the thought.
The minuscule level of left gains since 2008 have not moved the needle much – and “The Resistance” is a sad joke. The next manufactured crisis the financial “industry” will bring down on us will make people more extreme in every direction. The currently comfortable might then wonder why they didn’t try to do more when they had a chance – or more likely, they will do what they have been doing: the ol’ see no evil routine and/or keep head in sand/up ass and/or continue to support the right wing (and yes, that means most Dems, or whatever party you want to substitute in your country). Simply pressing a button or filling out a form every two or so years has never been and will never be enough.
When confronted with any of this, the first thing I always hear from liberals is, “well what can I do?” You know what I never hear them say? “Instead of binge-watching tv and letting corporate news wash over me every night, I took a day to research who was already organizing and doing something and then I went out and met people and actually tried to do something.” Never hear that. I’m not saying that will change our current trajectory, because a lot of those people thought they were doing something by knitting pussy hats, but I am saying being a liberal was never a good thing and in the last forty years those liberals who thought voting was the be all and end all of politics, voted for right-wing neoliberals over and over. They voted for the lesser of two evils and eventually got the current u.s. president, or macron, or may or erdogan, or take your pick…
It’s too late to say time to wake up. That time has passed. Organize locally, find left organizations that are national and international, and if they aren’t, make them international. And don’t stop until it’s world-wide. A perfect test case would be teachers. You may have noticed teachers organized to strike in some of the poorest states in the u.s. They realized they could do something and then they realized they could talk to other teachers in other states. They called for a reduction in their health insurance costs, they called for raises for all state employees and for the major corporations sucking the wealth from their states to actually pay taxes. The next step, though literally no one is saying this, is to talk to teachers in other countries. Form organizations and then join up with other organizations to form something massive and worldwide. Think about how many teachers there are in the world, think about how many nurses there are… If unions were democratic and had the ideals of the I.W.W., they’d be doing the same, or better yet, they’d be welcoming groups with open arms of solidarity and sharing resources. (To be fair, some are more democratic than others and some are doing better work than others, but no big union is working for real internationalism). If you’re in a union, democratize it, and then make it international.
Well, I could go on, but I don’t have the time or energy. About three to ten people will read this. It’s more venting than anything else, though it is not satisfying in any way, shape, or form. I’m writing this as a poor person in the richest country that ever existed in the history of the world. You know, the country where about half the people are poor and a paycheck away from the street – if they even have a paycheck. The one where millions have no health care, and the ones who do find out it’s inadequate when they actually need it because there is a massive corporation between them and well, living. The one where mass shootings happen every week. The one with a record number of people in prison. The country who went from a deporter-in-chief sending people to die in countries the u.s. helped turn into corrupt regimes with gangs and putting women and children into for-profit detention camps, to an avowed racist deporting people and putting them into for-profit detention camps – or let’s just be honest and call them what they are: prisons. Of course this is the land of for-profit prisons. What do you need for more profits? You guessed it, more prisoners… The land of poisoned earth, air, and water. The land of mass surveillance, mass homelessness, mass killings. The one bombing the world into oblivion, selling the most weapons of any country. Selling them to the dictators it props up and attempting to overthrow democratically elected politicians it calls dictators. The one at endless war in multiple countries. The one with the homeless drug addicted veterans with PTSD it denies services to. The one where people who literally want to kill regulatory agencies are in charge of them. The one with the militarized police who harass and kill with impunity and think they are an occupying force in their own country. The one whose federal courts are packed with hanging judges and where the supreme court rules corporations are people and reverses voting rights for people of color. The one with hungry kids, the one with all the wannabe fascists (sometimes on the street and often in churches and government). The one whose corporations don’t pay taxes while grinding austerity and privatization is loosed on everyday people by the politicians the corporations purchase. The one with the most effective propaganda since the third reich. The one with current and former students carrying almost 1.5 trillion dollars in student loans – that the government is making money on. The country where people who should be building a future are forced to spend 50-80% of their income on rent – if they have a place to rent, Again, if they even have income… Ok, time to stop, because this list could fill many volumes.
The u.s. didn’t invent death and destruction and making war on it’s own people, but it has exported its capitalist, neoliberal version of these things all over the world. That alone gives the people of the world a shared struggle, if they choose to come together and fight this insanity. Yanis is proposing and trying to work for a way forward. Is it “the” way? Impossible to say, but I can say that it is moderate. Increasingly, our collective options for change are being narrowed and will, more and more, be determined by extreme situations created by extreme people with extreme ideas. The only way forward is collective action on a worldwide scale. Liberals are afraid of radical change, so they turn away from the left, but guess what we’ve been living through instead? What liberals have, let’s be generous and say unwittingly, helped to bring about? Right wing extremism. Ironically, for liberals to get the peace and equality they say they want and believe in, they will have to become radicals. Radical change, just means change at the root. Fundamental, systemic change, not tweaking a totally corrupt system around the edges while more and more people suffer every day. Yanis is proposing to start with moderate change that will stabilize global capitalism so we can then calmly implement some kind of collective ownership. Again, I won’t go into the arguments for and against, I am simply saying this seems like radicalism to liberals, but the political spectrum has been dragged to the right by right-wing extremists for forty years, which means liberals are on the right, fascists are to their right, and Yanis is simply proposing moderate old school social democratic changes. If you aren’t choosing to support that and you’re not doing anything that could be called organizing the left, you are choosing the right-wing extremism that is the status quo.
I’m close to being done with most pop culture, but the reality is that it makes up a large part of culture these days, all over the world. So, anyone expecting to be heard in any way shape or form has a much better chance doing it using pop culture than almost any other subject. I’m also loathe to talk about DT for too many reasons to list. All of that being said, I remembered writing this comment about four years ago in response to this piece
and thought it could add to the discussion – or more likely, be just another cry in the wilderness…Anyway, for the one person who may be interested, here is the comment:
Good piece Ismail. It sparks a lot of questions and associations. Makes me think of Kanye. He has been a great case study in the representation of the subject game. One could easily write a book on the contradictions, confusions, and historical events that led to “Yeezus,” as well as his recent series of appearances in the media making a case for why he should be a mogul, i.e., a capitalist. Aside from his admirable passion and talent, some of his ideas can be attributed to his lack of a deep analysis (which I think could be said of most americans) and his fundamental acceptance of the capitalist system. It’s more troubling if he is simply cynical and calculating, but that automatically brings up questions of what success means under capitalism and what is required to achieve it, to say nothing of his personal struggle. I don’t want to get locked down in a binary construction here or even a judgment, but “New Slaves” certainly points up many a contradiction and confusion, and though it may just be Hip Hop swagger, he makes himself pretty clear here:
You see there’s leaders and there’s followers
But I’d rather be a dick than a swallower
That may be the shortest distillation of the capitalist ethos there is – other than the golden rule: “he who has the gold, rules.” In any case, Kanye made clear in his I-wanna-be-a-mogul media barrage that his major frustration was with the gatekeepers of capital blocking his access to it; thereby, keeping him from being another steve jobs. He constantly couches his desire in terms that distract from the ugliness of capitalism roiling just below the surface. He speaks in corporate phrases about product and being a “creator,” and constantly of his love of design. Not coincidentally, in the past decade or so, design has been elevated and commodified in popular culture like never before. He presents his desire in his own particular bombastic, self-promoting brand of Hip Hop, boasting that usually ends in platitudes, but it cannot disguise the fact that he wants something more than simply to create and design, because he has more than enough money to start a little boutique any time he wants. And though he may just want to bring good affordable fashion to the masses, it cannot disguise the fact that the fashion world he wants to be a part of is a nexus of capitalism. It is based on the exploitation of “cheap” labor out of the consumer’s sight and the creation of both desire and self-hate in “the consumer,” otherwise known as “a person.” Capitalists he sees as role models like steven jobs also made their fortunes from little brown hands working in prison-like conditions, and that is more than germane here.
Along with saying we are all new slaves to consumerism and materialism, and rightly pointing out the New Jim Crow of the prison industrial complex, Kanye says he is just a rich slave now (I know…) because they (the big fashion houses) “let” him produce for them, but he is continually blocked by the big players in fashion (capitalists) from becoming one of them. The hegemony of the fashion industry (and tech, and spirits, and perfume, etc…) in popular culture is now intricately intertwined in Hip Hop (there were early associations as well, like “My adidas” but that looks quaint now). Not only does it present the problems sketched above, but it directly involves creating a need in black and brown kids that makes them feel like shopping (and owning) will accomplish something. Of course, billions of people of all colors are enmeshed and in the thrall of the fashion industry and consumerism, but the irony is especially strong when black and brown kids are constantly extolling the virtues and buying the products of modern day slave masters. And it is compounded many times over when someone like Kanye starts talking about new slaves and then starts a media campaign to be “let in” by vicious capitalists, so he can become an actual modern day slaver himself. In all of his appearances, he has never come close to acknowledging the logical end of winning his campaign to be “let in,” or the evils of the fashion industry, or the capitalists who fund and, needless to say, profit from it.
To broaden the critique, liberals and self-identified progressives who claim to champion equal rights and justice buy (literally and figuratively) into this system as well. Seemingly, without a second thought. No one ever calls martha stewart and ralph lauren and steve jobs and phil knight modern day slave masters, but I think it needs to be done and I think we all need to be involved in stopping it. Most americans now accept that most of what they buy is made by slave labor. In fact, it has been joked about by stewart, colbert, and every late night talk show host and comedian I can think of. It is a disgusting failure on every level that we can’t even respond with a boycott when de facto slaves are throwing themselves out of foxcon’s windows and buildings are collapsing on Bangladeshis. We are all implicated in capitalism and its crimes, and there is certainly no dyad – especially when there is no “outside” commodification.
Well, just a few quick thoughts. Thanks for the piece.
nb: capitalizations and lack thereof are intentional.
This week we have witnessed a phenomenal act of social movement-making in an era when many, myself included, have wondered if meaningful change in the U.S. still possible.
Some of that worry is about aging, I’m sure. As you get older and the people around you get older you are inclined to wonder if the kids can ever be as alright as the kids you were.
We overstate our youthful courageousness. Then, because we are wily from age, we defend that overstatement by understating the courage of the youth who displace us. That may be natural. But when a cross-campus coalition of student-athletes and student-citizens at the University of Missouri organized to force the retirement of the college president (and future “transition” of the university system chancellor) they did something remarkable.
These young people took on the growing, well-paid, powerful administrative class in corporate higher education and actually won a…
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He was a thinker. I could quibble with some of his thoughts (like getting caught in the focus on the individual trap and not realizing he was surrounded by women artists), but that is not the point. Much of this conversation is sadly relevant, partly because they touch on some perennial questions and partly because there is some prescience in Jim’s thoughts. And remember he was 26. I could post actual philosophers and write 5,000 words on this, but no one would click on it…