Why is the Left Silent on the War Ripping Mexico Apart?

By Chuck Morse (August 31, 2017)

I am mostly optimistic when I think about the American left these days. While Trump’s election signals the right’s ascendancy, it also indicates a broader crisis in the system and the intensification of a fight that we have to have—an inescapable, unavoidable battle that we might lose, but might win! When he singled out anarchists during his rally last week, it said something about the protagonists in this battle and affirmed that we are a threat to the established order on some level. I heart that.

However, I am disturbed by our relative silence on the war ripping apart Mexico right now. The entire country seems to be turning into a mass grave as bodies pile up relentlessly along the border in Tijuana and elsewhere. The brutality and devastation and anguish is overwhelming.

I understand that it is a another country and that there is a language barrier for many. And it is also true that, to make sense of this conflict, we need to break out of the state-centric perspective that has shaped political thought for so long (because of the importance of non-state actors like the cartels, etc). I get all this, and I don’t have any particularly insightful solutions or strategies to offer, but it feels so urgent and terrifying. I hate the thought of passively watching this process unfold.


Antifa Can Nurture the Dreams for a Better World

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (August 31, 2017)

The antifascist movement has matured into a broad based popular movement, with 40,000 marching in Boston against 100 Nazis and, this past Sunday, a reported 8,000 turning out against a fascist organized anti-Marxist event in a park. In Boston, Black Lives Matter organizers played a leading role. The establishment and fascists both fear this movement, but for different reasons.

In Berkeley, there were thousands of people in the streets with several hundred blocked up. All the reports from comrades I’ve seen say everyone was working together through a diversity of tactics. The police in fact retreated and ceded the park to the antifascists because there was so many. All this comes after the widespread love expressed for antifa block tactics since Charlottesville, with clergy, pacifists, and others praising antifa and the role they played.

This type of popular, widespread movement that embraces a diversity of approaches to fighting fascism is exactly what we need. In Europe, it is very common for thousands of people to show up for a demonstration with a sizable percentage organized as a black bloc. That block can then defend against fascist or police attack, and drive Nazis away.

Establishment figures and institutions are trying to crush this new movement ideologically. They are telling lies and distorting reality. Listen to people that are actually in the streets standing up for all of us, not the people who want you to stay at home and let them continue to run the world.

Come out and see what’s actually happening for yourselves. Understand who shares your interests, and will nurture your dreams of a different, better world. We can resign ourselves to the inevitability of all the shit in the world. Or we can fight, and create something different.

Socialism in the US Must Contend with Racism and Militarism

By Mark Rudd (August 29, 2017)

I woke up at 2 am last night thinking: How can you talk about socialism in the US without taking into account two salient characteristics of this country’s history and present: racism and militarism?

Obviously John Judis has no problem with this question, since he never mentions either. I love Scandinavian socialism as a utopian model as much as anyone, but those countries are pretty different from this behemoth.

What would Black Lives Matter say about the Judis piece? How do we deal with the fact that the military and the corporations feeding off it have had complete free reign for almost 80 years and have now found a pot of gold in the Trump administration? Or that a separate military caste involving millions now exists apart from civil society?

At least Rev. Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign has four elements that address the realities of US society: racism, poverty and economic exploitation, destruction of the environment, and the effects of war and militarism. This seems like a much more realistic basis for creating a liberal and democratic socialism.

It will take some time to change the nature of what is “common sense.” Right now “government bad, free markets good” is dominant (that is, has achieved “ideological hegemony”). We have to keep in the forefront of all our work that WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER AND TIME IS SHORT.

That’s my socialism.


Can We Memorialize Without Monuments?

By Chris Lowe (August 28, 2017)

Can intercultural gardens be an alternative to Confederate monuments to the past?

A friend of mine observed that as the movement to remove or relocate Confederate monuments goes on, it will change spaces and create new spaces.

The implication is that even while we work on this, we should also be thinking about what if anything we want to fill that space with.

What *should* we memorialize? What do we want to be remembered for memorializing? Could it take forms other than monuments?

For decades, I have preferred the idea of interculturalism to multiculturalism, because I understand culture as living process, not a dead thing, in which we exercise agency in choices about how we make meaning. Even within traditions, the act of passing, which what the Latin root of ‘tradition’ means, always involves choices of what is passed, what is not, what people work to recover. Creativity is sparked by inspiration derived from cultural appreciation, exchange, and recontextualized elements, creation of hybrid forms, grafting.

Interculturalism for me is also connected to the opposition of monoculture to historical and contemporary pre- or non-capitalist systems of intercropping by which agriculturalists managed their land and food systems to sustain the land and themselves. It is possible to romanticize that history, but I don’t think the problem of creating a sustainable economic ecology can be thought about sensibly without engaging it.

So one idea I have for memorialization would be intercultural gardens, situational gardens, allegorical gardens, relating to what we want to remember and the values we want to express or raise up. Gardens that would be living as culture is living, processes as culture is process, practices as culture is practices. Gardens that would be open and open ended, amenable to new additions, or to revisions and adjustments, as circumstances and understandings change.

Millennials Are Not Dictatorship Material

By Mark Naison (August 27, 2017)

If Fordham is Any Example, Millennials are Not Dictatorship Material

One of the reasons I am confident that Donald Trump will not take us on the path to dictatorship or authoritarian rule is the refusal of young people to be intimidated by authoritarian figures in their lives, be they parents, teachers, or school and university administrators

I have seen this first hand at my own university in the past year. In three separate instances, students have mobilized to protest what they consider unfair or inappropriate action by different wings of the university, risking suspension to get their point across.

The first example took place when Dean of Students Office refused to give club recognition to “Students for Justice in Palestine” after every student and faculty committee which evaluated the matter suggested it be given such recognition. Students not only organized rallies, vigils, and protest marches to challenge the decision, they brought the matter to the press and are now suing the University in court to challenge the decision.

The second example took place when the University refused to recognize or negotiate with an organization of contingent and adjunct faculty and even claimed a religious exemption from such negotiation. Students not only organized rallies and marches in support of contingent faculty, they tried to march on the President’s office and demand he begin negotiations, an action which led to a confrontation with Fordham security guards that led to some injuries and disciplinary action against the students. Following the incident, which caused widespread distress among faculty as well as students, the University changed its position and agreed to negotiate with the faculty group

Finally, and more recently, the Dean of Students made a presentation on Campus Sexual Assault to Resident Advisors that some found so offensive that they interrupted the presentation and walked out of the room. Following the protests, several students issues a public statement on the presentation demanding that remedial action be taken and last night, the University said it was launching a formal investigation

In all my years of Fordham, I have rarely seen students challenge actions by the administration so forthrightly and effectively.

I suspect this is part of a national, and generational pattern.



Charlottesville and Boston Were Significant Victories for Collective Liberation

By Chris Crass (August 22, 2017)

After the massive anti-racist/anti-fascist marches for racial justice, with Black Lives Matter in the lead, in Boston and Charlottesville, the racist anti-Muslim, pro-Trump organization Act for America have cancelled 67 rallies in 36 states and replaced their day of action into an online protest.

This is a significant victory and shows that mass public protest for racial justice and against white supremacy can and does have a profound impact.

And while some are saying, “see Boston did it right, it was peaceful” versus the people in Charlottesville who were protecting their communities and values from Nazis, the Klan, while the police largely stood aside, we have to be vigilant against any effort to divide our movement.

The white right wing was the source of violence in Charlottesville and any talk of whether or not they protested right, takes the blame off the right and shifts it to the left. With racist and anti-semitic acts and violence skyrocketing, with a white right wing administration pushing a violent racist agenda, we cannot allow blame for the violence of Charlottesville drift left with talk of “well see how they did it in Boston.”

If the mass refusal of hate and racism hadn’t taken place in Charlottesville, if a powerful multiracial alliance of people for justice and multiracial democracy hadn’t confronted the Klan and the Nazis, then:

1. The Unite the Right Rally’s agenda would have gotten out widely, uncontested, without a counter vision and counter values to fight for the soul of America.

2. It is highly likely that the Klan and Nazis would have perpetuated even more violence that day and night on the communities in Charlottesville who they were targeting for intimidation.

3. The Unite the Right Rally would have been understood as an enormous success by the right, energizing recruitment and membership, emboldening even more public actions and open racist organizing on campuses and in communities around the country. It would have encouraged even more people – members, sympathizers, and those who share their racist worldview – to express their racism in words and deeds.

4. When the Nazis marched in Boston, a much smaller counter-demonstration would likely have taken place, with racists having the momentum.

5. If the courageous communities for liberation had not shown up in Charlottesville, had not brought forward the best of who we are as people, then it would not have been the same kind of historic moment for our country – a moment where people everywhere have to decide, am I on the side of Nazis and the Klan or anti-racism and multiracial democracy. A moment that further revealed the truth of who Trump is, a moment that further eroded the Trump administrations political power and support, and united millions around the world against him.

We are building a powerful multiracial movement for collective liberation, and the ruling class and the forces that support the ruling class agenda of structural inequality, will do all they can to undermine us, pit us against each other, and confuse us about how political power and political movements grow and impact the world around us.

Just as they want to malign Black Lives Matter as terrorists, as violent, when Black Lives Matter has been bringing tremendous leadership to the mass anti-racist/anti-facists counter-demonstrations, against the actual terrorists of the white right wing – they want us endlessly debating “good protester” versus “bad protester”.

The mass actions for racial justice, for multiracial democracy of Charlottesville and Boston have led to the cancellation of 67 racist public actions in 36 states, a historic moment of “what side are you on”, and far more.

Let’s keep building, let’s keep uniting for racial justice, for Black Lives Matter, for an end to white supremacy on every level in our society. Let’s keep inviting people in our lives, who aren’t already involved for racial justice, to be involved, to be on the right side of history and say no to nazis in the streets and racists in the White House.


Multiple Strategies Needed to Defeat the Racist Right

By Chris Lowe (August 22, 2017)

Which would do more to impede the growth of the racist right, and the attacks on people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and other targets: 1) Mobilizing against “Trump free speech” rallies that the white nationalist right is using to insert themselves into the Tea Party base and spread their rhetoric there, or 2) mobilizing against the policies of Jeff Sessions at DOJ?

This is a false opposition, of course. Both are possible simultaneously, of course, and might indeed be able to support one another.

But the rallies are the easier target, and that’s where the focus is. Yet, the threats from the DOJ are larger and more systematic.

In Portland, there is organizing against the City’s efforts to revise its agreement with the DOJ that requires some elements of police reform, though not nearly enough. We need to connect that organizing to Jeff Sessions, need to put pressure on the City Council not to collaborate in Sessions’ roll-back of the DOJ’s historical role as sometimes a force against local abuses of power, even if that role has never been consistent and has included its own abuses when the FBI takes on the role of national political police. IMO.

The City says it does not want to collaborate with racist and abusive federal immigration policies that break up families, says we are a Sanctuary City. We should hold ourselves as a community to the same standard in not collaborating with Jeff Sessions’ and Donald Trump’s policies of rewidening the scope for police impunity for acts of racialized violence and discriminatory policing.


Antifa are a Critical Component of the Struggle Against White Supremacy

By Chris Crass (August 16, 2017)

Any minute you spend debating that the antifa, that the right wing created term,”alt-left”, is violent too, is a minute spent supporting Trump and the ultra-right. The world is uniting against Trump and the ultra-right’s racism. Do not give Trump life support by giving any space, any room to “well the antifa…” unless it is “well the antifa are a critical component of an overall uniting of humanity against white supremacy, against the white supremacy of Trump and the neo-nazis, of the entire Trump agenda.”

Now is the time to focus all of our energies on uniting our people, our families, our communities to a rejection of white supremacy from the nazi-in-chief to the nazis in the streets, and to unite for racial justice, multiracial democracy, and the Black Lives Matter movement as the leading force for human rights and human dignity of our times.

We can debate tactics and strategy along the way, but let’s not miss the historic responsibility and opportunity of these times, which is winning over as many people as we can, especially for those of us who are white, to win over as many white people as we can to an overall racial justice agenda and to reject white supremacy in all of its forms.

What Did Dr. King Mean by Love?

By Joseph Orosco (August 15, 2017)

As someone who regularly teaches about the political philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I often spend time discussing with students the ways in which King’s ideas are taken out of context and turned into sound bites in order to support positions he would not himself have taken. The most obvious example is how his most memorable line from the “I Have a Dream” speech about not judging people based on the color of their skin but the content of their character is used to justify attacks on affirmative action—a policy he definitely endorsed—or cited in a way to claim that the best path forward for racial justice is to somehow ignore race and become colorblind. The white supremacist violence in Charlottesville is proof that we cannot simply try to ignore the problems of racism now.

All across the country, marches and vigils are scheduled to honor the victims of racist violence and to stand against the surge of white nationalist groups in the United States. People are seeking guidance about how to think about the public and proud resurgence of this form of bigotry. Inevitably, the words and ideas of Dr. King are being invoked, especially his thoughts on the power of love in times of hate. One of his quotes, often bandied about, is this: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

But the hard question is what does it mean to love and not hate in the aftermath of Charlottesville? Does it mean it’s somehow wrong to feel angry or violated about people proudly brandishing neo-Nazi symbols on their weapons and shields? Does it mean the best response is to forgive the purveyors of violence like the young man who ran down protestors, killing Heather Heyer, in Charlottesville?

In the speeches in which King talked about love, he often spent time explaining what he meant; love has several meanings. In saying that supporters of racial justice had to have love in their hearts, he didn’t mean that they had to be continually positive and upbeat, or that they had to approach racists in friendship. That’s the kind of love we share with intimates or friends. King said the love that we ought to have in the struggle for justice is the kind that acknowledges all people, even the white supremacists, as human beings. And human beings are capable of making their own moral choices and being held responsible for their actions. We aren’t called upon to like or be friendly to those who are racist. It means we ought not to dehumanize or kill them as part of our fight for justice.

Someone asked me recently if, out of love, King wouldn’t have asked to sit down with a white supremacist and try to listen to their concerns and understand where they were coming from, in hopes of some kind of reconciliation and dialogue. I thought about this and realized that the answer was probably no. King never asked, for instance, to meet with Bull Connor, the rabidly racist police chief in Birmingham, Alabama who sent police dogs to attack protestors.


He never called for public meetings with ordinary Black and white citizens to dialogue. Instead, he called for marches, boycotts, and urged legislation that would halt business as usual in that city, deplete the pocketbooks of segregationist business owners, and criminalize racist attacks and intimidation. King wrote in 1963: “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is important also.”

This is not to say that fellowship and dialogue are not important, especially when friends approach one another to talk about their fears, hopes, and biases. But in thinking about responses to white supremacy in the country today, we ought to be clear that King’s emphasis on love did not mean only sticking to individual efforts and trying to change the implicit racism of our friends and relatives.

Toward the end of his life, he called for a revolution of values that would utterly transform the United States and its commitment to materialism, racism, and militarism at institutional levels. The fight against white supremacy must be tied to issues of poverty, jobs, reducing our military and nuclear weapons, curbing police brutality, and providing decent health care and education for everyone. These were all issues of concern for King; this is what he meant by love.





Don’t Let Them Dull Our Political Sensibilities Against Fascism in the US

By Joe Lowndes (August 12, 2017)

People are rightly outraged by Trump’s equivocation in condemning “the violence on many sides.” But his comments in no way differ from those of many prominent liberals, like Peter Beinart in The Atlantic last week, who have continually depicted antifascists as thugs and criminals.

Be ready: when the shock of the grisly image of a white supremacist plowing into a crowd of protesters wears off, we will be hearing more and more stories in the media about the antiracist violence and provocation that contributed to the death of one demonstrator and the serious injury of others.

This collective dulling of our moral and, perhaps more important, our political sensibilities weakens our ability to confront a rapidly expanding fascist movement in this country.

Trump has plainly stated where he stands. Sessions has long since directed federal agencies to leave klan, nazi, and militia groups alone. And we saw today as in many other recent instances that local law enforcement only intervenes to protect them.

If we don’t stand with the courageous activists who are daily risking their lives, like the IWW member who was killed today, who will we stand with?



The Fascists Were Run Out of Charlottesville by Direct Action

By Alexander Reid Ross (August 12, 2017)

Make no mistake, The fascists were run out of Charlottesville today. They planned a violent and hateful rally and brought people from all over the US to this one corner of the South. The community rose up and defended itself, sending them packing. These fascists had no intention of a “peaceful assembly,” calling for war and violence and attacking peaceful counter-demonstrators. On their way out, one of them decided to smash into a contingent of IWW demonstrators, killing at least one (I’m hearing reports of three dead now).

Despite the facts in evidence—a grey sports car plunging into the crowd, smashing into two other cars, then reversing at full speed—the Washington Post reports that the driver’s intentionality is unclear. At the same time, an elected Democratic official says the violence is the result of the alt-right and “outside agitators.” Here, the presumption that the alt-right are the locals is thick with falsity, particularly given the fact that last month’s Klan rally brought out all of 40 people—and not all of them locals.

The narrative that passes as liberal has failed us and continues to fail us. The ACLU, asserting that fascists had the right to assemble in any old park they wanted to, fought tooth and nail in the courts to place counter-demonstrators in great danger. The resulting fights started by fascists throwing smoke bombs and tear gas led to the evacuation of the park and police pushing the protesters into the streets. When at least 10 antifascists were injured by a maniac, the press said, “not sure if it was intentional or if the dude’s foot fell asleep.” After the fact, Democratic politicians scrambled to blame local antifascists as “outsiders,” because force of habit?

No. Fascist assembly is the violent organization of genocidal forces deployed for the specific purposes of attacking scapegoats and worship leaders. They are crystal clear about this. When Kyle Chapman says “open season on antifa,” this is precisely what he means. Enough is enough!