Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Support is building for the March 8 International Women's Strike and the May 1 Day Without Immigrants---Salem is planning a May 1 demonstration

From Democratic Socialists of America (DSA):

As Trump attacks our communities and distracts the public from his actions to empower the billionaire class, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has stepped up our self-defense and solidarity work.

DSA endorses and recommends our chapters and members-at-large support two upcoming strikes: the March 8 International Women's Strike and May 1 Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes organized by Cosecha.

Both strikes build relationships with organizations with an anti-capitalist political analysis but a potential mass constituency. Trump’s new immigration policies target 11 million undocumented people in the United States including millions of workers who make our economy run. The economic policies he and the GOP are pursuing will disproportionately harm women and children, and we expect him to restrict abortion and contraception access to satisfy his religious right base.

We encourage DSA groups to reach out to these groups locally to plan for the March 8 International Women's Strike and May 1 Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes organized by Cosecha. I’ll be adding more to our news page as they get closer.

And in the South, DSAers will gather to #OrganizeTheSouth as part of the March on Mississippi!
We're bringing our folks from DSA groups across the South together for a weekend of marching, training, and connecting on March 4th & 5th in Jackson, MS. Members will support workers alongside Bernie Sanders, Rev. William Barber and other movement leaders from the South, plus build democratic socialist community and learn more organizing skills in a regional DSA training. Click here to learn more about the March on Mississippi in solidarity with workers at Nissan.

SocFemVidBCunningham.jpg
And as we build up to the Women’s Strike, check out our new Profiles in Socialist Feminismseries. We’re looking for volunteers so we can add more. If you’re interested, you can fill out the form here.

I’m so excited to see DSA local groups stepping up their organizing work across the country. It gives me hope in hard times. And the press has noticed too. You can read about our recent organizing in Rolling Stone (Yes, really!)
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Meanwhile, DSA groups are building the multi-racial socialist resistance we need. You can hear more on The Takeaway’s coverage of our New York City chapter's Brooklyn branch. You can find more ongoing coverage of DSA’s national and local work here.

I wanted you to see these. Trump is attacking us on all fronts, and too often establishment Democrats seem incapable of strategic opposition. Our democratic socialist action is more important than ever, and with DSA, you’re part of it. Thank you for everything you do!

DSA also endorsed Keith Ellison earlier this year in his campaign to become the chair of the Democratic National Committee. We wish him luck this weekend.

In solidarity,
Maria Svart, DSA National Director

P.S. I’ll be in touch soon with more DSA organizing tools you can use. But remember that the number of organized local groups is growing every week, so check our Chapter map to see if there's one near you or to start one yourself. Thanks again!
http://www.dsausa.org/

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Fix Oregon's Housing Crisis---Rally, Lobby Day & Hearings On Thursday, March 2 In Salem


Tobias Read, Oregon State Treasurer: Do the right thing!


Have you heard the news that the State Land Board voted to sell all 90,000 acres of Oregon's oldest forest to loggers, the Elliott State Forest - public land held in trust that includes critical old growth habitat - to a logging company. This wasn't supposed to happen. There are two Democrats and one Republican on the Board. Governor Kate Brown fought the sale vehemently. Our new State Treasurer, Democrat Tobias Read, violated his campaign promises and voted to sell the ancient forest. What's more, the bid is nearly $140 million less than what the lands appraised value - if you can even place a dollar number on Oregon's most significant carbon sink.

BUT - there's a glimmer of hope. Governor Brown secured one final vote that is scheduled for April. If you care about our green Oregon, and leaving a healthy state for our children,

CALL Treasurer Read and DEMAND that he switch his vote: 503-378-4329.

Don't let him get away with this.
Copy and share - spread the word!
Make your voice heard and let's save The Elliott!


Monday, February 20, 2017

Regional "Know Your Rights" Workshops For Immigrant Communities

Proximos talleres de Conozca sus Derechos;
• Febrero 22 de 5:30 pm a 8:30 pm en PCUN en; 300 Young St Woodburn, Oregon
• Febrero 28 en; 6:00 pm a 8:30 pm en Lebanon High School, 1700 S 5th St Lebanon, OR 97355
• Marzo 4 en Walla Walla; lugar sera anunciado pronto.
Next Know your rights Workshop;
• February 22nd 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at; PCUN; 300 Young St Woodburn, Oregon
• February 28th; 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at; Lebanon High School 1700 S 5th St Lebanon, OR 97355
• March 4th in Walla Walla, Washington, location TBD.


Portland police attack protesters on This Is Not My President Day


The video above came from Willamette Week. The photo below came from The Oregonian and is quickly becoming the international symbol of Portland police brutality.


"Today, Portland Police Bureau policy led to violence against peaceful protesters including young kids and retired public employees," the ACLU of Oregon wrote in a statement on Facebook. "It was shameful."'---Willamette Week

Support The National Lawyers Guild---Please Donate Today


Rebel Diaz: I'm An Alien---Support the peoples' artists!


For all those who are indigenous to these lands but are still labeled "Alien". We reclaim what is rightfully ours! #DayWithoutImmigrants #imanalien #tbt#rebeldiaz #TheUnGovernables

Rally For Survivors Of Domestic Violence On Wednesday At Noon In Salem

Wednesday at noon
State Capitol
Salem

Lobby Days And A Rally Mark President's Day In Salem

Photo from Sara Rohrs on Facebook

Public employee unions, immigrant rights organizations, health care advocates and others lobbied and rallied today in  Salem. A noontime rally drew several hundred people and demonstrated a widespread and deep demand for worker justice and immigrant rights and social progress. It was good to see public employee union presidents share the stage with Latino healthcare advocates and people on the frontlines of the struggle against detentions and deportations.

Today's action was part of a national effort and followed a large demonstration for immigrant rights yesterday. Combining the Salem rally today with lobby days and an important healthcare hearing shows our ability to use an inside/outside strategy. The Oregon Education Association did a great job in mobilizing its members and in keeping them pumped up. The Latino organizations correctly put the spotlight on the immediate problem of the detentions and deportations and on long-range goals like healthcare for all.

Everyone to the PCUN office on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 5:00 PM to support the community as we fight back against detentions and deportations!


Support the victims of deportations and detention
Saturday, Feb. 25
5:00 PM
PCUN
300 Young St.
Woodburn

Acompáñanos a ser parte de la convivencia del fandango. Los jaraneros de Oregon y PCUN te invitan a pasar un momento familiar, donde podrás disfrutar de música, baile y comida.

ALWAYS PUNCH NAZIS | This Shouldn't Be News



International Publishers, pioneer radical press, gets online makeover---Important books from the left now more readily available


From The People's World:

“Books to help you understand – and change – the world.” That’s the slogan of International Publishers, and for over 90 years, the company has been producing and distributing titles aimed at fulfilling that lofty goal.
Founded in 1924 by Alexander Trachtenberg, a refugee who came to America after fleeing Czarist Russia’s anti-Jewish pogroms, the company made a name for itself in its early years as a pioneer in the publication of Marxist literature, critical takes on U.S. capitalism, and radical interpretations of American history.
International has recently undergone a digital makeover that positions the company to play a big role in the era of Trump. The company is fresh off the launch of its new website, a modern eCommerce hub that’s making its extensive catalog available to an audience eager for radical books. With socialism growing in popularity and resistance to the new president’s agenda exploding everywhere, the time may be just right for companies like International to make a splash.
“Sales have gone up dramatically since November,” says Gary Bono, who heads up operations at International.
Titles such as the 1935 classic Against Fascism and War are moving out the door at a brisk pace. Written just before World War II, the book outlined the strategy and tactics necessary for beating fascism during the Great Depression. Its author, Bulgarian communist Georgi Dimitrov, famously took down Hitler’s henchman Hermann Goering in a Nazi courtroom after being falsely accused of helping burn down the German parliament building.
With a number of Trump’s policy advisors hailing from the so-called “alt-right,” a conservative offshoot mixing racism, white nationalism, and neo-fascist populism, it appears many of today’s left-wing activists are turning to writers like Dimitrov and others.

Millions of American workers and students got their first taste of Marxism through International’s cheaply-priced “Little Lenin Library” in the 1930s.
Marxist publishing for the 21st century
“In today’s political climate,” Bono says, “it is particularly important that the new generation learn from past experiences – from the words of those who have experienced things like this before.”
He believes that more people are realizing that there is another way, that “they need not be constrained, intellectually, by today’s ‘accepted wisdom’.”
International Publishers has long been known as a source for alternative wisdom. Since its founding in 1924, it has been one of the primary publishers of the classics of Marxism and was among the first to print some of the works of historical figures like Vladimir Lenin and Antonio Gramsci in the English language.
The company helped bring socialism to a mass working class audience in the United States in the 1930s and 40s with the 25-cent paperbacks of its “Little Lenin Library.” Even today, affordable editions of books like Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto and Lenin’s Imperialism are among International’s best-sellers.
The onset of the Cold War and the anti-communist witch-hunts of the McCarthy period threatened to finish the company. Trachtenberg, still at the helm in the early 1950s, was a defendant in the Smith Act trials for the crime of thinking. Novelist Howard Fast said at the time, “Both the man and the books he has published are on trial… The books go beyond the man himself, a body of Marxist-Leninist literature surpassed in few countries indeed, made available to the American people because this man has known neither fear nor pessimism, and has again and again surmounted obstacles almost insurmountable.” Trachtenberg would serve four years in prison before the Supreme Court vacated many of the Smith Act convictions. Upon his release, he went back to work until his retirement in 1962.
Successors James S. Allen and Lou Diskin kept the company going through the 1960s and 70s with a steady flow of Marxist classics and books by CPUSA leaders. Betty Smith took over as president of International and guided it through the 1980s and ensured its survival after the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe. When Marxism was on the rocks, Smith kept International alive for the next generation of activists.
At a time when online shopping has become the norm, however, it has been getting harder for International to reach its audience without going through intermediaries like Amazon. It was under Smith’s tenure that a decision was made to update International for the digital age. Mike Votto, a partner with Envy Creative, a web design agency based in Milwaukee that oversaw the revamp of International’s online presence, says the biggest challenge was “taking what the IP [International Publishers] team has been doing for the past several decades and trying to replicate it digitally.”
Votto says it was humbling to work with a brand and an institution that has “spent nearly a century publishing some of the foremost literature on progressive thought,” but bringing its website into the 21st century was “unlike many of the projects that walk through our agency’s door.”
The goals with the redesign were pretty simple. “Create a user-friendly, convenient eCommerce system that gets these important volumes into the hands of eager readers as quickly and painlessly as possible.” Votto says that International’s new platform is flexible and can continue to grow as web standards, customer expectations, and product offerings change.
Books to change the world
With the new website, International hopes to reach those eager readers with books to help them become more informed activists. With an easy-to-use online store, the company is also hoping even more selections from its extensive catalog will gain a wide readership.
While it may have become known to millions for its cheap and accessible paperbacks, International is also renowned for products like its massive 50-volume Marx-Engels Collected Works. From 1975 to 2004, it collaborated with Lawrence & Wishart Publishers in Britain and Progress Publishers in Moscow in an ambitious project which gathered all the known writings and correspondence of the founding fathers of communism into a single collection. The set remains the gold standard of Marxist libraries to this day.

Stretching beyond the classics, meanwhile, contemporary titles such as Daniel Rubin’s Will Capitalism Last? bring Marxist analysis of U.S. politics up to the present day.
In addition to its many works of theory, International also boasts an impressive offering of titles covering American and world history, literature, and the full range of labor and democratic struggles.
From Frederick Douglass and John Brown to W.E.B. Du Bois and Angela Davis, many important texts of the African-American freedom struggle are available in exclusive editions. And for workers who find themselves in the crosshairs of the Trump administration, Philip S. Foner’s 10-volume History of the Labor Movement in the United States provides a background to early trade union struggles that can only be found at International.
Works by authors like Herbert Aptheker illuminate American history through the lens of historical materialism, bringing a socialist perspective to events such as the revolution of 1776 and the revolts of slaves in the pre-Civil War South. Complementing its historical titles, International markets a range of books crucial to understanding current events as well, whether it be the environmental crisisIran, or the crumbling of imperialism.
And the company’s offerings continue to grow. The latest is a collection of writings by Marx and Engels on the U.S. Civil War, featuring an introduction from noted historian Andrew Zimmerman. In the works for the coming months is a new edition of Palmiro Togliatti’s Lectures on Fascism, which consists of outlines from classes the Italian leader taught at the Comintern in the 1930s.
There are also plans for an updated edition of Philip S. Foner’s documentary study, The Bolshevik Revolution, to be issued just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Though many predicted that the appearance of tablets and e-readers would make books obsolete, International and other small radical publishers like it are showing that there is still an audience for the printed word. And with Donald Trump driving sales, the future of socialist publishing may not be as bleak as one might have expected.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

McKay Students Honor Black History, Black Lives & Rosa Parks

We are gifted in Salem to have so many young people who honor us with their talents and bravery and questions and their willingness to put the best of their skills to work for justice. Tonight I was impressed by the students at McKay who honored Black History Month with their considerable singing and acting abilities and I was happy to see the support that they got from the community.

Really, it is no small thing to work under the direction of an inspired teacher and put together a program in just three weeks. Part of the context for tonight's success forms around the barbarism of the Trump administration, to be sure, but part of the context also forms around the fact that McKay does not get the resources needed to carry out its mission and fully serve its diverse student body. Great work is done by the faculty who pulled tonight's program together, but they should not have to struggle so hard.

Tonight's program honored many Black celebrities, including Muhammad Ali, and Rosa Parks and the Obamas. Whatever we think of President Obama's record and legacy, we have to acknowledge that what were specially honored tonight were Black success and healthy Black relationships. The young people gave this honor through songs and acting, and their passion and commitment were obvious. Benny Williams, President of the local NAACP unit, provided some closing remarks which put the program in its proper perspective. A talented young artist had done a painting of Rosa Parks which was auctioned off for the school. That young man, and his fellow students, showed real heart and soul.

It is difficult for me to watch any reenactment of the Bloody Sunday events (March 7, 1965), no matter how it is portrayed, and I hoped as I watched the young people reenact those events that they understand, or will come to understand, what this event meant. Likewise, I thought that the young woman who took the part of Rosa Parks did a fantastic job in getting down the body language and the look of the brave Black women I remember from my childhood. She has a special talent which I hope will be used to uplift and serve the people in the future.

These young people live in a different world than I do. Tonight I saw Black, Brown and white youth wearing club tee shirts with the Black Lives Matter message and they seemed so unself-conscious and confident. In this sense, perhaps, they do embody something of the spirit of Rosa Parks. They no doubt pull their self-confidence and determination from deep within themselves, but it takes people like Benny Williams and Marilyn Williams and the teacher who worked with the students to bring it out.

My hope  is that in the future we will see James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni and bel hooks honored as we saw Prince and Michael Jackson honored tonight. My hope is that these events will come to include every voice in the Black community and that parents and faculty and the community will embrace this. The youth showed tonight that they have the skills and treasurers to move forward.

We could fully honor Rosa Parks by providing the young people with the kind of political education which she and W.E.B. Du Bois and Benjamin Davis and Angela Davis got, an education which moved them not only to think differently but to organize others and take action. These people were among the heroes of my youth, and I can hear them saying that I'm being too critical. I answer that I'm not, but that I am hoping that our movement can again birth freedom schools which build progressive leadership.

Is anyone in the Salem area interested in learning from the Jackson model and building something like it here? Can we take education to that level?  


"Movements cannot be left just to the streets. I am very critical of the idea of politics as fomenting a moment of total rupture with the existing status quo. This is not how revolutions work. At some point, mobilizations will lose steam. You cannot change things only on the horizontal level of social movements. You have to develop what Podemos calls 'an electoral war machine.' You need to try to come to real power in the institutions and government. That is the line of Syriza as well....Left-wing populism should see a relationship between the horizontal in the streets and vertical in the institutions. Some people say that the state and parties are corrupt so we only need social movements. Other people think that we only need to win elections and take seats in parliament. Both modes of thinking are wrong. We need an articulation of a 'movement party' with a critical electoral dimension that is linked with the movements but also distinct and independent. But there is always tension between movements and parties."---Chantal Mouffe

Today's Immigrant Rights Rally In Salem


Hundreds of people turned out in Salem today to support immigrants and refugees and to protest Trump's anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies. By extension, this rally and others like it are especially important as a measuring stick for resistance to Trump's policies and as a means of measuring the depth and commitment of that resistance. This event was organized largely through social media and wasn't "owned" by anyone. It took place as local resistance to Trump's anti-immigrant policies is reaching a new stage. The rally organizers are to be commended and supported for their good work.

There will be another important rally tomorrow (Monday, President's Day) at the State Capitol at noon.

We heard from many people at the rally that they wished that there was one event rather than two. I hope that this was a matter of people not getting the word out early enough and well enough rather than a matter of political differences. I think that at this point that if a rally is not endorsed by Causa, PCUN and the stand-up Latino organizations around it and the broad coalition supporting Causa, labor and LGBTQIA+ rights then we need to work on unity and direction. Tomorrow's rally has that broad support.

There is certainly much work to be done, as today's rally and many of the speakers today pointed out. It was again great to hear Cara Kaser, DREAMers and others send hopeful messages about building at the base and taking political action. People in Salem who take this seriously need to turn out at the next City Council meeting (Monday, Feb. 27 at 6:00 PM) to support an immigrant rights agenda. Folks can join Salem's Racial Justice Organizing Committee (next meeting is March 8 at 6:00 PM at the First Congregational Church at 700 Marion St. NE), Causa, the NAACP or, if your drive and goals are socialist and leftist, our Oregon Socialist Renewal. What's important is that we organize, as Cara Kaser pointed out. Everyone should belong to something and be active. It was great to hear this message at the rally today.

Speaker after speaker took a positive line. There was much emphasis on what is good and right here in Salem and in the U.S. This is a good place to build from. The speakers were multigenerational, multiethnic and, for the most part, inspiring and good teachers. It was also great to see so many children present.

Where our movement stumbles and falls here are on our approach to slavery, our approach to Native Americans and what sometimes sounds like misplaced patriotism, or even nationalism. We were pretty far into the rally today before anyone mentioned African Americans and First Nations peoples. In all of the talk about immigrants and immigration from white people there was little or no acknowledgement of this land belonging rightfully to First Nations peoples and little or no acknowledgement of slavery. Indeed, the "we are all immigrants" line taken up by whites masks racism and settler-colonialism at some point.

It's hard hearing the narrative that the U.S. is exceptional and great and not hearing a narrative that is explicitly anti-racist and anti-imperialist and a narrative which connects anti-racism at home and anti-imperialism around the world. It's hard hearing Obama get a pass today, as if deportations have not been a problem over the past 8 years. It's hard hearing an attack on the Syrian regime and what was essentially a conservative analysis of the situation there. And it's hard not hearing more emphasis on immigrant women and women of color and working-class issues after the womens' march and at a moment when immigrant women, people of color and class struggle intersect. Teresa Alonso Leon's election was an all-peoples' victory; let's celebrate that and understand its context and mention her and the other brave immigrant women standing with her.

New people coming into the movement may not yet get the nuanced political approaches needed, the need to do short rallies when its pouring rain and cold, and the need to push people to take specific actions. They don't understand that the political left was the glue holding social movements together before a liberal establishment, union leaderships included, "NGOized" social movements. Still, people show up with signs, demands, passion and a desire to take meaningful action which often transcends what rally organizers call for and expect. Our vision of the left is one in which people---women, people of color, workers, youth, LGBTQIA+, immigrants and others--- come together to learn and to fight back with their passions and their own multiracial and feminist leadership in place.


 Photos from Facebook posters.

   

Fourth Sundays, 10am - Noon: Oregon Socialist Renewal “Coffee With the Commies” in Salem's Ike Box Cafe, in the Red Room. We will continue talking about projects and strategies for building a strong and united anti-capitalist, anti-racist left.


TOMORROW (MONDAY): We the People Marching United in Resistance in Salem---Resistance to attacks on members of our community requires a strong, steady and collective voice! March for immigrant rights AND against Trump's agenda!

Monday, Feb. 20, Noon:  We the People Marching United in Resistance (Salem)
State Capitol Bldg, 900 Court St NE, Salem
We are all stronger when we stand together in unity. Resistance to attacks on members of our community requires a strong, steady and collective voice.
Join many social justice groups and be part of that collective voice, take action and march on Presidents’ Day in Oregon to show our unified resistance to injustice.
There are also marches planned for Eugene (Wayne Morse Plaza), Portland, and Medford on 2/20.

Sponsored by: Basic Rights Oregon, Causa, several labor unions and groups.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

TOMORROW (SUNDAY): Rosa Parks Youth Presentation At McKay High School At 6:00 PM. We need a strong presence from the community!


A united front effort to pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act in Oregon---Turn out on Tuesday, Feb. 28 to help!


We will all be at the Reproductive Health Rights Rally on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at noon at the State Capitol in Salem.

This is part of a lobby day for reproductive health rights in Oregon, so if you have the time or can get the time, please be at the State Capitol at noon. The lobby effort concerns winning passage of the Reproductive Health Equity Act.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Urban League Lobby Day Is Friday, February 24.


A Lobby Day On Houselessness Sponsored By Tenants, APANO And Labor On Thursday, March 2


Ron Jones And The Movement At Chemeketa Community College

I was fortunate to catch Ron Jones' performance of The Movement:50 Years of Love and Struggle  yesterday at Chemeketa Community College. Jones put together a powerful acting and and visual presentation on civil rights movement history, simply but movingly told through the eyes of a Black man working his way up, preachers, an activist, a prisoner, the son of the Black man working his way up, and even a Klansman. If you lived through any of the events described in Jones' fifty-year history of the civil rights movement it might have been difficult to keep your eyes dry or stifle that catch in your throat as you watched his performance; at least it was difficult for me to do this. And if you're young or not from the U.S., the presentation pointed you towards what you need to check out and learn in the most helpful of ways.

Ron Jones is a more-than-talented actor. It takes special skills to put together a video presentation of fifty years of political and cultural struggle and to break that down to its most human and necessary components. It also takes special skills to make history human and accessible. Jones is warm, human and engaging and his work and his methods of work are exactly what is needed to give us a starting point for teaching movement history in places like Salem.

I don't know if Jones has studied Dario Fo or Paulo Freire, Howard Zinn or the Living Theatre, but his project takes something from what they did and applies it to civil rights movement history. There is something of Gramsci there as well since The Movement really sees history from the point of view of the organic intellectual. Jones is telling us something about ourselves which we may already sense but not know or understand in its full details. And after we engage with The Movement it becomes our responsibility to transcend fifty years of history by owning it and building on it.

This is a presentation which should have special value to the young people stepping into politics and protest for the first time. We need to answer every one of their questions and be accountable and helpful to them. Jones' work will raise plenty of questions.

If I have any doubts here they form around a legitimate disagreement I have with Jones about how much of a pass whites get. He's more generous in his views than I am, more of a humanist and more forgiving. This leads him to an emphasis on class which I am not as quick to embrace as he is. My Marxism builds on intersectionality within the working-class and the class struggle. His Christianity and humanism are more grounded in a sense of democratic norms, fairness and evolution. He needs to put "firsts" in his presentation (as in the first Black astronaut) and show interracial cooperation because he needs to show progress in this society. I come to this more interested in the vanguard role of the Black working-class. Whatever our differences, I know that I still have much to learn from Ron Jones and I want to see more of his work. I want to live in that moment of collectively discovered history and movement which he helps to make real, and I want others to live there as well.

Linda M. Ringo-Reyna and others at Cheemeketa Community College who worked to make this event happen gave our community a great gift. We need to thank them and support them.

Ron Jones is on the road with his presentation. Make a point of finding him and attending one of his events.

 

"Today there is no shortcut. If social conflict is not reignited around material interests and rights, we will go nowhere."---Rossana Rosssanda, one of the leading figures of the postwar Italian Left and a co-founder of Il Manifesto.


Support CWA Members Fighting Back At AT&T Mobility!


Do the right thing: hit http://goodjobsatt.org/ and support the workers!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Music To March, Boycott And Strike With!


A teacher in Woodburn says, "Immigrants across the nation are boycotting schools, not buying gas, shopping, or going to work. Businesses are closed across the nation all in an effort to show our new administration the power of the immigrant presence. Whether legal or illegal, they matter AND they contribute to our country. They are not just a drain on society 'taking all the jobs.' They are makers, workers, business owners, school children, farm and factory and burger and other place employees. Go to your child's school and see how many empty seats there are. Without all the immigrants there would be no free lunch."


Carl Paladino's racism is challenged by the people---Another prominent Trump supporter needs to go!

I have blogged previously about the racist Carl Paladino and how he is doing so much harm. It is gratifying to read the following from The Public website yesterday:

At tonight’s meeting of the Buffalo Board of Education, dozens of demonstrators shut down the proceedings with singing and chanting, demanding the removal of Park District member Carl Paladino, whose most recent racist rant published in Artvoice in December galvanized his long-simmering opposition.

Please go here to see inspiring video clips of the anti-racist demonstrations.

Poor Carl! Quando s'e disgraziadi, piove sul cul anca a star sentadi. When you're unlucky, it rains on your ass even when you're seated.

Can socialists, liberals and libertarians have meaningful discussions and debates?---Part 2

Some Troubling Conversations

A union representative I know recently posted a “pray for our president” message on Facebook. I questioned this, disturbed that a young union rep with a liberal reputation would take this line. He held to the argument that this is our country, Trump was elected and is therefore our president, that Trump needs our prayers and that I shouldn’t disrespect the Presidency or the flag and country. Others jumped to support him, including a few other union staff.

Looking back, I think that I should have left it alone and learned from it. My engagement provoked a few people to make outrageous comments, and at one point I felt threatened by a guy who said that people like me and our protests are why people voted for Trump in the first place and that I should be removed from the country. Some of the people in my face were “hard right” folks, but a few were liberals. This wasn’t a productive debate.

What came out of it for me were insights into how some liberals and right-wingers sometimes coalesce when pushed on matters of privilege and identity and what a dismal state our labor movement is in when union staff and members ride the patriotic and evangelical bandwagons. This is not “my country,” in fact. Most of us don’t own our homes or land, and if we do we have to recognize that we live on stolen land and that this is in many respects a settler-colonialist system. Understanding the full import of this requires people to struggle with myths of privilege and entitlement and ignore American history and its lessons. And if we leave it at the point of myth and ideology, accepting the myth of one America and the peculiar ideology of what passes for democracy here, we’re stuck with mysticism: is there something so mystical about a president that s/he must have my automatic respect and prayers, and is there something so unique about this country and the people who live here that puts us above and beyond others? It’s fair to push liberals on this point, but a likely outcome is that people will go into some kind of funk or depression as they come to terms with acknowledging privilege and admitting that they have bought into a myth. Be prepared to work with that. The first step is angry denial and, often, a racist tantrum. I offered to buy subscriptions to In These Times or Sojourners to the first person on the thread who took me up on my offer but got no takers.

Another case is Timothy Perkins, the young man running for Salem’s Ward 6 Council position. Perkins claims to be a libertarian but struggles to define what that means. I asked him the fair question of which libertarian tradition he fits into: is he a follower of Ayn Rand, Evola, Rockefeller, the English liberals or just a Bundy wannabe? I threw in Evola because I believe that he has had an effect on libertarian thought in the U.S. by his having argued that superiority is won through chaos and confrontation. Much libertarian thought here derives from a bad read of the Cliff Notes summary of Darwin. I get it that Evola is not a libertarian. I threw in Rockefeller because he comes to mind first when I think of American laissez-faire capitalism and because the Ludlow Massacre is so instructive. Perkins couldn’t hold his own in the conversation, which took place on Facebook, but the exchange quickly went to the point of Perkins and his friends claiming that Hitler was a socialist and pointing out the alleged shortcomings of socialism.

It’s a bad idea to back down and be defensive when we’re redbaited. It doesn’t solve anything or protect us. But in this case I argued that the alleged deficiencies of socialism don’t make Perkins a better candidate for City Council. The issue is not me and my ideas; I’m not the candidate getting the press attention. It’s on him to show that he’s not a provocateur pouring the gasoline and lighting the match in order to see what happens next. Again, Perkins could not make his case. I offered to debate socialism and socialist history with him or his followers once they know something of what they’re talking about.

Liberals and libertarians may connect with one another locally over issues like the third bridge, pot, and abortion rights. This is a state which voted for pot and against driver’s licenses for immigrants in the same election, after all. They will connect more generally in viewing society in terms of contracts: liberals believe deeply in a social contract and feel betrayed by the capitalists and politicians who don’t honor their side of the deal, while libertarians elevate individual contracts to something of a fetish. There is just a bit of glue here which attaches liberals to libertarians.

But be wary here. The libertarian contract is between individuals in a mythical free-market setting, meaning that people can surrender their liberty through contract, have access to nuclear weapons through contract, abolish public education and pollute the environment through contract and (mis)use their property because ownership and contracts are ends in themselves and social responsibility is abstract under these conditions. Anyone reading Ayn Rand or her later followers can see this. Liberals still often emphasize responsibilities to society and prize education and social programs. They instinctively rebel against the libertarian idea that people are themselves brands, products or commodities. The liberal ideal at once clashes with libertarian individualism and the conformity required by today’s capitalist marketplace.

Another young local union staffer posted a complaint about alleged “anarchists” interfering with Milo Yiannopoulos’ supposed First Amendment rights. When I objected to this he held fast to First Amendment legalities and was quickly joined by a local musician who self-described as a libertarian. The intersection of their thinking may be a shared concern with human and democratic rights, but I doubt it. I suspect that the coincidence of opinions instead reflects something of the narcissism of the times in the U.S., relative white male privilege and unexamined assumptions. How do we struggle with these?

I’m not a fan of the Black Bloc and those like them who are taking militant action at such a politically tense moment without accountability. Still, I’m not going to shame them publicly. I know that I need to be aware that I have no place or right in criticizing, say, people of color or women or LGBTQIA+ folks who engage in militant anti-fascist action; these are our allies in many cases.

I do not believe that the First Amendment need protect hate speech and actions, either for the sake of Constitutional liberties or to protect me from repression. Fascism should not be up for debate, but it should be up for defeat. And, yes, I do include Yiannopoulos in the broad sweep of people who are fascists or sympathetic to or enablers of fascism. Yiannopoulos is at the very least a provocateur deeply invested in the business of pinkwashing the hard right.

The standard argument has been that there is no right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, but we can borrow from Abbie Hoffman and insist on the right to yell “Theatre!” in the crowded fire which is becoming this country’s dominant political space. By this I mean that Yiannopoulos and people like him come to campuses and other institutions seeking confrontation, and they should not be surprised or resentful when they get it.

Something important is at stake here. First, the people who are defending the right to engage in hate speech---that intersection of liberals, libertarians and right-wingers---are creating real problems for the rest of us. They target women, LGBTQIA+ folks, people of color, immigrants, Muslims and radicals, use dog-whistle politics and then step back and deny responsibility for the level of discourse and violence which follows. It seems to me that that obligates our liberal friends to at least do something to remedy the problem they have helped create. It’s fair to demand that they join in protecting us from our attackers, blocking deportations, stopping conversion therapy, guarding mosques and Planned Parenthood sites and living up to their infamous slogan that they will give their lives to protect free speech, ours as well as that of our adversaries. It’s up to us to ask for the solidarity.

Second, we have a right to demand of liberals and libertarians that they take some kind action to stop Yiannopoulos and people like him. When do they plan to join the fight against fascism? Again, if they refuse or don’t act then we have a right to question their values.

Third, a dogmatic liberal insistence on First Amendment rights for fascists forces us to find other tactics to oppose the far-right. If we can’t actually block these people from speaking or ban them from public space without incurring liberal and libertarian censure then we have to find other creative methods of fighting back. Silence does equal complicity. Should we use Second Amendment rights? Non-violent direct action? Challenging speakers from the floor? This last alternative carries some real dangers, but I hope that the willfully naïve people insisting on First Amendment rights try it. Yiannopoulos and the crowds he draws and Trump’s goons know very well how to deal with this. Several years ago a Muslim brother and I challenged Ann Coulter from the floor at OSU and learned this lesson. Liberal and libertarian dogmatism creates disorder and leads to the very opposite of what it opposes.

The frequently-heard libertarian argument that Yiannopoulos is just joking and that we should have a sense of humor comes along with a similar line from Trump supporters. The problem, they say, is us: we just don’t get the joke that everyone else is in on. It’s really a stupid point, isn’t it? Answering it is one the rare opportunities we get to use sarcasm effectively. Yeah, you’re right, we can say. That family feud you call World War One—hey, you know how the in-laws are when they get together for Thanksgiving! No harm done! That Beer Hall Putsch back in ’22 was just a bunch of frat boys who had a few too many. You know how guys are when they get drunk. That outrage over that PewDiePie guy with his “Death to all Jews” joke just goes to show you how political correctness has run amok. No one would really hurt Jews, after all.

The other arguments we hear frequently hold that liberals are just about human rights and libertarians are just about smaller government. Don’t let that “just” pass by without questioning. Assume that there are political agendas or ideas at work when you talk to engaged people. Get down to what those agendas are.

Liberals and libertarians will often put forward a number of false equivalencies in order to make their cases. The libertarians say that someone in Trump’s administration wearing nazi regalia is equivalent to Soros backing Clinton. Stalin and Hitler were both the same say both liberals and libertarians. Support for Sanders cost Clinton the election some liberals insist. Some of this can be worked through with logic and some of it can’t be. It seems important to me that we point out the poor logic of drawing equivalencies where they do not exist, and particularly so when they reflect white or male or heterosexual privilege.

In this regard, many of us too quickly jump on comparing Trump, Yiannopoulos and others like them to Hitler. The comparison doesn’t work and harms our arguments. It is fair to scratch the liberal and libertarian veneers, though, and see if you’re debating a Genocide denier or not. After all, if Genocide deniers are entitled to free speech in public places, there must be some logic or truth to their arguments and at least a debatable point to their presentations. It’s fair to ask which Genocides are debatable for them, but you must take a principled position and remember the Genocides in the United States, the Congo, Armenia and Kurdistan and all that came after as well.

Fascism is more than the bad manners of interrupting speech. Fascism is a violent system of class rule in a period of imperialism, a way out of confronting social revolution and capitalist crisis, as Dimitrov told us. It is bourgeois rule in crisis and fueled by reactionary nationalism, myths of racial and national superiority and male supremacy set loose in a moment when capitalist hegemony is threatened. It has a system, an ideology and a practice with authoritarian forms of social organization specific to different places and times. It has enablers who usually plead innocence. Measure Yiannopoulos, Trump and their friends against this definition. If they don’t fit in after investigation, then find another way to describe them. It’s fair to ask our liberal friends and the libertarians how they describe or understand Yiannopoulos, Trump and their friends and to probe their responses carefully without splitting hairs.

Socialism, on the other hand, is not state ownership. The liberals miss the mark when they describe the military, public schools and Social Security as socialistic institutions. We are the people who believe in direct and popular control of production and distribution, planned production for use, peaceful and just social relations, education and security for all, the abolition of class relations and all of the racist, sexist and homophobic, transphobic and ableist exploitation and oppression which has been built into class society. We are, or should be, the people who view the state as situated in society and responsible for carrying out those policies which ensure peace, justice and equality under the direct control of the working-class and abolishes itself as class relations are transformed. Our socialism takes as much from Africa, Asia and Latin America as it does from the U.S. and Europe. Our ideas challenge both liberals and libertarians in fundamental ways. We situate ourselves in specific traditions and we have a right to ask the same of others. We can’t dodge accountability for our errors and build credibility at the same time.

It may be that logical arguments, debates and history lessons only go so far. Our first responsibility is to organize and mobilize a sustainable resistance which brings coalition politics along with it. That is work which requires much patience, openness and criticism/self-criticism. But some part of that work also necessarily involves action, and good actions both polarize and unite people. We need to approach polarization carefully, but we can’t be afraid of it. Unity at any cost is not unity, but our approach can’t be dogmatic or sectarian either.

Portland Democratic Socialists of America Feminist Branch Meeting To Be Held On Saturday, Feb. 18