Trump is No One’s Victim: Why We Need Writers in the Darkest of Times

By Ana Castillo (February 20, 2017)

In Which the Poet, Somewhat Recovered from an Unannounced Televised News Conference that Might Have been a Chapter Titled “WHITE HOUSE VS. THE MAJORITY OF THE MEDIA” in a Dystopian Novel Draft, Reveals Its Narrator’s Internal Monologue For the Random Reader’s Musing:

Republican McCain said it, or at least suggested it: Shutting down the media and installing or legitimizing only State approved media sources is Dictatorship Strategy 101.

From El Id’s alternative facts Spokeswoman’s “Bowling Green Massacre” major faux pas, to his alleged “all the unreported’ terrorist attacks”, to the tweet about a non-existent terrorist attack in Sweden that he misinterpreted from Fox News this past weekend, it would seem the only fake news ‘the people’ are receiving comes from the White House. 

Right of the Right Spin Doctor Limbaugh claims his King Tweet has no one but ‘the people’ on his side. Limbuaugh here was referring to what Bannon called the rival “Party,” (no, not the Democrats)– the Media. In fact, El Id has LIMBAUGH. The Talk Radio host has TWENTY MILLION listeners each week (versus the NYT that has approximately 4 million on Sunday.)

El Id has Breitbart, a self-proclaimed white supremacist site. Despite its ‘possibly’ inflated claims (let’s hope) of approx. 240 million worldwide viewers, Breitbart may have approximately as many as twenty million. Its founder, Bannon, as the world knows, is appointed WH Chief Strategist. (You don’t get more official than that. Side note, Bannon’s heroes or at least, whose power he admires are “Satan, Darth Vader, and Chaney.” This is according to Vanity Fair, not yet on the White House Blacklist of Fake News Sources.)

While El Id doesn’t have the popular vote (despite his emphatic alleging of rigged elections where he asserted that the undocumented and dead voted for Clinton in the millions) he is no underdog and nobody’s victim.

He doesn’t have the support of perhaps half “the People” but he does hold untold international power. He has a billionaire and multi-millionaire cabinet that he is building, all with dossiers of private interests and, except for military, next to none in service of ‘the people.’ (Unless, by the people we are now referring to the 1%.) He has his own wealth and, what we may assume, is the unprecedented and unimagined support of worldwide investments. He has their backing and commitment to exploit all human and natural resources for the sake of their personal profit and agenda for power.

And if, in the darkest of times–which this nation has heretofore not seen–the State did successfully shut down the freedom of the press, then, all of those who desired to be writers, whose college degrees did not facilitate their careers to fame, fortune, or even jobs or publications, will be on call to report as witnesses, as the ears and eyes of ‘The People.’ We will require your minds, pens, hearts, and conscience.

ana castilo


We Are Not Extras in a Grade B James Bond Movie

By Ana Castillo (February 14, 2017)

In which the poet intervenes on a day meant for love, if only because she hasn’t lost hope; and some remarks on the latest occurrence in a country suddenly run like a Third World sweatshop, recently appropriated by the spoiled heir of private wealth and ( forgive the cliché reference) cronies. 

So the President employed as his National Security Advisor the man who was FIRED as Defense Intelligence Agency DIRECTOR by his predecessor. A) Stupid move, not to mention, dangerous for national security; B) A move that could only be thought as worthwhile by a narcissist sociopath who is hateful and thinks he can manipulate everyone; C) A and B. Also, a move made by a President unconcerned about SECURITY for the country and the world.

Three weeks into the new administration Mike Flynn ‘resigns’ after being busted for putting the nation’s security at risk, disrespecting his superiors (again) and the country’s population, who were his charge, and putting our security at risk.*

(* Side note: Let’s not dismiss the President’s public comment on Fox last week defending Putin’s violation of human rights by stating that this country was also ‘not so innocent.’ It isn’t a far reach to assume that, according to the current head of state, Flynn’s mistake was stepping over his bounds, not delivering a message which had been relayed to him.)

The world population, not only the country’s, is not a hiring pool to pick and choose from, to reward or punish, by the former reality show star, billionaire-businessman-turned leader of the ‘free world’ by mega billionaire interests (let’s not fool ourselves about the Electoral College decision.) Ours is the real world. We are not extras in a Grade B James Bond movie. The 99% may not have billions of dollars influence as do some members directly in the new administration. Nevertheless, we may remind ourselves that we are human beings with full, rich lives and consciences that contribute productively to this planet. We count. We will count.

Sooner than later, the purpose for which the man who has been placed to serve as president will have been served and he will be removed. In his place will be the one that was positioned according to the nefarious Friedmanite agenda. Thanks to the audaciousness of the braggadocio Lord Fautleroy, the intended cabinet will be positioned to move forward with their insatiable agenda of deregulation of everything including the nation’s kitchen sink.

It has been easy to throw darts at a buffoon, and to some degree, served as a relief. However, Pence is a well spoken politician and extreme Christian right wing white male who wields, without measure, a big stick. It will be more pertinent than ever to not relent on our vigilance.

ana castilo

Ana Castillo is the writer of over 18 books, including So Far From God, Massacre of the Dreamers, and Black Dove.

The Little Department That Could: An Inspiring Story from Fordham

By Mark Naison (February 10, 2017)

My department- the Department of African and African American Studies- was not supposed to last. it was created as an Institute in 1969 as a result of a student sit in at the Fordham administration building by a committee of Black graduate students and undergraduates who were given power to hire faculty and in some cases to become faculty themselves. A year after it was formed, i was hired as a full time faculty member, becoming the first white faculty member in a Black studies entity anywhere in the Northeast, if not the US. When I arrived, I surveyed the lay of the land and realized that most of the Fordham faculty shunned us and feared us. But many students, white and latino as well as black, were intrigued by what the Institute did and signed up for our courses. And the other people teaching in the Institute, all of whom were Black, none of whom had Phd’s, were all amazing teachers, dedicated activists, and in some cases excellent scholars. So i knew it was going to be a hell of a ride

The challenge was going to be to keep the faculty and administration from quarantining us and dissolving us. And that required strategies on numerous fronts. The first part of that strategy was creating and teaching courses which attracted large enrollments, which we did. The second was joining every activist organization on campus, from Black and Third world groups to SDS, to make sure that student activists knew us, trusted us, and were prepared to defend the Institute in a pinch. The third, a bit unconventional, was playing basketball with the small number of Jesuits that were favorably disposed to us so that we had some friends in the Administration And the final part of the strategy is to work hard on getting our Phd’s and publishing our work so that we could pass muster by the University’s standards for judging faculty and get some of our folks tenure.

These strategies proved successful, so much so that when the academic Vice President called for our dissolution, we demanded an investigation which resulted in the Institute being upgraded into a Department, and two of our faculty, me and Claude Mangum, getting tenure.

But our enemies didn’t give up. They kept squeezing us by denying our courses access to the Core Curriculum. For more than ten years, we hung on by a thread, surviving through sheer stubbornness. But then, in the late 80’s the tide started to turn, we regained access to the Core Curriculum, and we added a brilliant young faculty member, Rev. Dr Mark L. Chapmanwho was as charismatic as he was socially conscious. Soon, our enrollments started expanding again and by the mid 90’s we were once again a force on the Fordham campus. Consolidation with the Black Studies entity on the Lincoln Center campus only helped us as we added two amazing scholars and teachers, Irma Watkins-Owens and Fawzia Mustafa.

Fast forward to today when we are now a Department with 8 full time faculty, many of whom are world class scholars, host a nationally known community history project, and are even able to replace bright young faculty members with equally talented people when they leave for other schools.

The lesson of this story is, with ingenuity, courage, persistence and creativity, you can defend institutions that serve the need of disfranchised groups and even make them permanent.

The Department of African and African American Studies at Fordham is one great example of such an effort. Let’s create a lot more of these in the years to come.

The Issue is Democracy and Not So Much Property Destruction

By Chuck Morse (February 8, 2017)

– After months of planning, thousands of migrants tear down fences around an empty hill side and build a new neighborhood. We often see “land invasions” like this in places like Mexico City, Lima, Sao Paulo, etc.


– A random dude smashes a window during a demo. We often see this in Oakland.


Both examples involve property destruction, but the contexts are very different. One action is planned and embedded in a mass movement; the other is unplanned and vanguardist (because it changes the dynamic of the protest for everyone). 

For me, the issue is not property but democracy and building mass movements.

Forget Orwell: Fight Club is the Novel to Make Sense of Life Under Trump

By Joseph Orosco (February 7, 2017)


Sales of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four are booming across the country and websites are publishing lists of dystopian literature that might help to make sense of life under the Trump administration.

Eliana Johnson and Eli Stokols have provided us with what might be called the Bannon syllabus–a guide to the works that seem to underly the worldview of Trump’s white nationalist advisor Steve Bannon.  They suggest that the works that seem to motivate his political ideology are ones that harbor a dark apocalyptic vision of a world in need of deep shock therapy to shake off a delusion of superficial satisfaction created by out of touch beauracratic elites:

“Bannon’s readings tend to have one thing in common: the view that technocrats have put Western civilization on a downward trajectory and that only a shock to the system can reverse its decline. And they tend to have a dark, apocalyptic tone that at times echoes Bannon’s own public remarks over the years—a sense that humanity is at a hinge point in history.”

If this is the reactionary imagination that lies underneath Trumpism–a need to shock and dismantle layers of technocratic and elite ideology that prevent genuine and authentic progress and social evolution–then it seems to me that the best story to make sense of our political moment is not the one of Winston Smith’s resistance against The Party, but the one of the white, neurotic, middle class Narrator who changes his life by transforming in Tyler Durden:  Chuck Palahniuks’ Fight Club.

Fight Club, of course, is the story of a nameless Narrator who feels trapped by the American capitalist dream of forever working to achieve middle class success and prosperity. He yearns for living an life of authentic (heterosexual) manhood.  He finds this in the underground world of fight club: a space in which men gather to unleash punishing violence on one another, expressing the dominance they are denied in real life and in their relationships with women.  They soon decide to take their ideas and turn them from a mere lifestyle choice into an alternative political movement (defined by an anti-corporate and anti-materialist stance) which they call Project Mayhem.  The 1999 movie version of Fight Club ends with the group enacting a terrorist bombing of the global financial system, erasing the records of debt held by individuals, and potentially releasing all of us from the grips of the parasitic bankers to begin reconstructing our lives.

I’ve always found it interesting how popular this novel is with the many of the young white men I’ve taught over the years, particularly those attracted to right libertarian philosophies.  But reading a little bit of the ideas that fascinate Steve Bannon, its seems to be that Fight Club might be the work we want to look to understand how, all of a sudden, the rage and anger of the neo Nazi (alt right) movement crept up and captured the fascination of so many Americans enough to vote for Trump.  It may also explain the eagerness of the Trump administration to dismantle so many of the government programs that we have come to take for granted in modern life.




Radicals: Don’t Ignore the General Strike!

By Alex Riccio (February 6, 2017)


The rise of Trump and the alt-right has exposed fascism’s ability to creep into spaces of political and social power within the United States. “The ‘fascist creep,’” writes Alexander Reid Ross in his new book on the topic, “refers to the porous borders between fascism and the radical right, through which fascism is able to ‘creep’ into mainstream discourse.” Not only does it creep into discourse, but through techniques of infiltration fascism is capable of creeping all the way to the White House. But as I think about this process of right-wing slides into fascism, I can’t help but pose that since the election of Trump we have been witnessing the potential for creeping socialism (even of the anarchist variety) as well.

One can point to the flurry of polls which suggest that millennials are more favorable to socialism than to capitalism, the surprise success of Bernie Sanders primary run despite his willingness to embrace “democratic socialism,” the permanent discursive imprint left by OWS disparaging the 1%, and a host of other political developments which suggest that the socialist creep may be on the rise. In recent months we have also witnessed an explosion of social protest, making the times ripe with opportunities for socialism to creep in even more. I imagine that some of your liberal friends have suddenly become more receptive to direct action, punching neo-nazis in the face, and even disavowing the Democrat party in the face of their passive resistance (and here I’m being kind) to Trump’s onslaught of authoritarian maneuvers. Such changes in liberal sentiment reveal openings in the political imagination, and I point this out to encourage the Left to think of proposed events like the upcoming General Strike as possibilities for radicalizing liberals, and deepening the roots of a socialist creep.

Obviously, and here I harbor no illusions, the strike on Feb. 17 is going to be far from what we desire—an event where organized labor surges, workers shut down whole industries, and our objectives are much more appetizing than the strange jumble of demands this present strike is calling for (I mean, who really cares about Trump’s taxes? We know he’s a thief, all capitalists are crooks).

But this call has been made, and promoted, mostly by liberals who are inexperienced or unaware of the long history, and hard work, that has generated massive disruptions like the list of labor strikes outlined by Alex Gourevitch in his critical article on the matter. Before leaping to impugn proposals which have inspired swaths of the population we radicals have been struggling to energize, let’s see this upcoming protest as an opportunity to reach folks where they are at in the process of their political development and facilitate this process as best as we can.

Remarking on the deluge of derisions against the Women’s March after inauguration day, Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor writes that such actions are more “the beginning, not the end.” She continues, “movements do not come to us from heaven, fully formed and organized. They are built by actual people, with all their political questions, weaknesses and strengths.”

Therefore, she concludes, if you think these actions aren’t radical enough, then do something about it. I can think of no better advice for those experiencing discomfort with present calls for a General Strike.

The Cultural and Technological Impact of Star Trek

As part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the Anarres Project presented Dr. Randall Milstein (OSU Honors College and College of Science) discussing the cultural and technological impact the series has had on society and everday life. He discussed the ways in which Star Trek prefigured contemporary technology, as well as the way in which the series maintains a hopeful attitude toward the role of technology in building a future post scarcity utopia. (October 2016)


When There Really Was ‘Carnage in Our Inner Cities’, Trump Was Nowhere to Be Found

By Mark Naison (February 4, 2017)


One of the many reasons I am appalled by Donald Trump’s world view are his comments about subjects I know first hand. A prime example of this is his apocalyptic promise to end “carnage in our inner inner cities.” Not only do these pronouncement ignore gentrification and the suburbanization of poverty, they come 25 years too late! Where was Donald Trump when there really WAS carnage in our inner cities in the height of the crack epidemic? No where to be found. How do I know? I was there, on the ground, in the some of the most affected areas in New York City and Donald Trump was no where to be found, and had nothing to say.

Let’s go back. The year is 1992. The murder rate in New York City is more than 2000 a year ( it has been under 400 for the last few years). Bullets are flying in drug wars between rival crews in many of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. People are afraid to go to and from work, to go to the corner store, to send their kids to school. In one parish near Fordham, St Martin of Tours, 25 young me between the ages of 17-25 were killed in a single year. In Red Hook, a legendary principal ,Martin Daly was killed by stray bullets fired in a shoot out between drug gangs when he went into the projects to see why one of his students didn’t come to school

At that time, I became involved in two anti-violence initiatives. One of them, in the Crotona Neighborhood of the Bronx, was called “Save a Generation” The goal was to provide educational and employment opportunities for out of school out of work youth who were drawn into drug crews. In it, I worked with amazing religious leaders like Father John Flynn and Sister Barbara Leniger , the great leader of South Bronx churches, Lee Stuart, and Astin Jacobo, a dynamic tenant leader and organizer with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. We got some help from, the NY Achdiocese, Congressman Serrano and the Bronx Borough President. for the Americorps program we eventually created. Donald Trump was no where to be found.

The other program was called “Shield the Children” and it was organized by a group called “United Community Centers of East New York” after a drug dealer in the Cypress Hills Project used a three year old in a stroller as a shield in a gun battle. East New York was the closest thing we had to a war zone in NY during those years. Five students were shot to death in a single year in the local high school, Thomas Jefferson, drug dealers had once taken hostages in the local public library, and police only patrolled the neighborhood in cars. At one point, residents actually asked for the National Guard to be sent in to patrol their streets because they felt afraid to leave their houses. Where was Donald Trump when this was going on? No where to be found. The violence was far away from the precious Manhattan neighborhoods where his buildings were being erected

THIS was real carnage. And it took years of organizing by residents, and hard work by police, to get it under control. Once the violence passed, new immigrants moved into these communities, bringing their energy, their businesses and their hope. Today, East New York and Crotona are bustling though still poor communities with far lower crime rates than they had 20 years ago. They hardly need federal intervention, especially attacks on immigrant communities which threaten the very real progress already made..

From Social Movement to Revolutionary Movement: Why We Need Both

By Hyung Kyu Nam (February 3, 2017


We should see ourselves in a long arc of change globally as we face a crisis with imperialism, capitalism, ecocide and both political and social oppression that are all interconnected: Zapatista, Seattle WTO, Tunisia, Egypt, Wisconsin, Spain, Greece, Occupy, BLM, Idle No More, Umbrella Movement. Ultimately, these crises require radical change.


To frame my comments, here are some definitions from The Social Movements Reader (edited by Goodwin and Jasper).


“A social movement is a collective, organized, sustained, and non-institutional challenge to authorities, powerholders, or cultural beliefs and practices.

A revolutionary movement is a social movement that seeks, at minimum, to overthrow the government or state, and perhaps to change the economy and key institutions of the entire society.”


There have been many social movements throughout history and in the present day, in US and globally; however, only a few combined resistance and creating alternative institutions with winning power and taking over the big institutions, for revolutionary change.


There are two notable examples of an evolution from movement of the squares to winning power; in Greece with solidarity networks and majority seats in parliament and Barcelona.


SYRIZA, a coalition of radical left parties, capitulated under the threat of global capital, while the Barcelona en Comu (in common) movement won power in a city and is governing in radically democratic ways, even in a country that has been in a similar crisis as Greece.


In the US, we have the Malcom X Grassroots Movement/Cooperation Jackson and the Richmond Progressive Alliance. Both theorists like Murray Bookchin and the European municipal movements call for creating confederations of mutual support networks.


For these revolutionary changes, we will need direct action that target power holders in order to negotiate with them as well as alternative mutual aid organizations, but we cannot stop there. We will also need to win power, in the city where it’s most accessible, with a new vision for radically inclusive and participatory democracy, where we negotiate with each other, over our communities, institutions, and commons and directly and democratically control and transform systems in our city, from policing and local economic development to infrastructure, transportation and water management, as well as city budgets, planning, and procurement. The magnitude of our political, ecological, social and economic crises need systemic transformation, which cannot happen without taking this next step to build the ‪#NextSystem.


We should focus on our city, not because rural places, the state and nation don’t matter, but because we are best positioned to make real democratic changes here, that then must become models for transformation to be adapted and spread horizontally and vertically, in what Gar Alperovitz calls a checker board strategy. This way, we can go beyond single issue reforms to create coherent systemic and revolutionary changes, because our crises are systemic and interconnected.


We face these crises and after this election, more people are recognizing that they can’t just continue their daily lives and that we need to mobilize and organize. The danger is that this is where things can fall apart, where we struggle to envision our future beyond resistance and struggle to build coalitions and agreed upon strategies and tactics towards common visions and goals.


To win, we will need to study, analyze and build inclusive and powerful coalitions around shared strategies to not only address our crises but, to take next step with strategic actions to create a real democracy. Let’s use this moment as a shock to the system, and make our way out of the underlying crises we’ve been facing even before this election. Let’s work together and build our skills to be effective change makers.

The Time of “Never Again” is Now

By Chris Crass (February 2, 2017)

If what happened at UC Berkeley makes you uncomfortable, I invite you to be in that discomfort for a while.

If what happened at UC Berkeley gets you more riled up than the right wing Trump supporting Alt-Right Nazi terrorist in Quebec City who opened fire on a Mosque and killed six people, just a few days ago, I invite you to ask why that is.

We are living in a time when Steven Bannon, a white nationalist (read white supremacist), is one of the most powerful people on the planet, and is unleashing the full power of the Federal government to unleash a racist anti-working class agenda on the planet. And is doing so while he and Trump give a green light to vigilante right wing violence that hurts and kills people and terrorizes our communities.

It’s crucial to remember that no one looks back at Germany during the rise of the Nazis and says, “well at least they respected the Nazi’s freedom of speech”. They say, “Never Again”.

Again, is here.