Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Connect with Portland Demoratic Socialists of America here.

Two Photos From Streets Roots Tell Our Story

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"I am everyone who ever died without a voice or a prayer or a hope or a chance." —Leonard Peltier

“These are the stakes in the reinvention of a communist politics. The encounter with migration, even in the 1990s, was for many of us a sort of new discovery of the world, or simply a discovery of how much it had changed...Migration showed me, from another point of view, when compared with feminism, the strategic importance of ‘difference’; strategic in organizing the relations of domination and exploitation; but also strategic as a construction of the politics of liberation as well (which for me is another way of naming ‘a communist politics’). No one said it better than Audre Lorde, not by chance a black lesbian feminist writer and poet. It is a passage that we quoted in Border as Method; I repeat it here, by way of conclusion, as a sort of an axiom for a communist politics to come: ‘It is within our differences that we are both most powerful and most vulnerable, and some of the most difficult tasks of our lives are the claiming of differences and learning to use those differences as bridges rather than as barriers between us.’”--- Sandro Mezzadra

Photo from Ann Moses

Watching "We The People 2.0" In Salem

I attended the showing of the film "We The People 2.0" in Salem last night. The Salem Progressive Film Series folks sponsored the showing and a panel discussion with q. and a. after the film. Dr. Ed Dover, Ann Kneeland and another speaker from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) spoke. The film is described in these words:

We the People 2.0 confronts its viewers with the ravages of mine tailings and leaky containment ponds, of sludge and ooze and grue, all of which, the film documents, are killing people, particularly in the cancer-blighted small towns of North America. The film’s brief is laudable: Alongside documenting grassroots activism, including the kayak flotillas that protested Shell Oil in Seattle, the film focuses on legal challenges presented to corporations by granting rights to ecosystems. Talking heads come from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit that helps small towns draft laws against fracking, factory farming, and water privatization. The voice of narrator Walton Goggins, formerly of TV’s rural meth-opera “Justified,” is a great boon to the film, perhaps making viewers wish he would just let it rip in the grandiloquent manner of his TV character Boyd Crowder. The “2.0” in the title refers to what the filmmakers have dubbed “The Second American Revolution”—a battle not against a foreign power, but against corporate power.

A film trailer can be found here.

The film focuses on five struggles for environmental justice---one in California, three in Pennsylvania and one in Ohio. It's full of talking heads and interesting footage, but only one of the activists profiled is a person of color. I'll return to why this is important in a moment. The film pivots at some point from talking about the environmental justice struggles to money in politics, the need for reform and local control and Constitutional questions. It felt to me as if the film ran almost twice as long as it had to in order to make its point and that what was lacking were arguments or footage from the other side and the kind of basic grounding in law which someone like me needs. I came away somewhat confused by where the local control legal cases stand now. It did not help that passing mention was made in the film of a need for another Constitutional convention.

On the other hand, many progressives in Salem will be familiar with the issues raised in the film. Groups like Move to Amend and are popular here among a subset of mostly older and mostly white middle-class people who feel a stake in the country and feel betrayed by corporate America and the government, and especially so after the last two crashes. In some sense they form a liberal answer to the right-wing Constitutionalists who are also popular in parts of Oregon.

The main argument taking place after the film showed concern over the idea of local control. Do we need a revolution, as the CELDF speaker said, to win local control or do we need to work on changing state and federal structures and take a nuanced view of federal power? Would local control guarantee environmental justice and build on civil rights or would local reactionary groups use it to undermine environmental regulations and civil rights? The film made the case that the movement for local control is advancing and Ann Kneeland, an Oregonian, and the CELDF speaker gave examples of how this is happening here in Oregon. I wondered what we were arguing about: is going on the offense for progressive local control even an option at this point? Is this an argument for secession in the face of Trump's win or an accommodation to the Constitutionalists?

It is a sad measure of how far progressives and the left have come that local control is seen in light of environmental crises and not framed in light of the historic fight for Black self-determination, say, or, fully appropriate to the film, a fight for self-determination in Appalachia and the historic Black Belt and those portions of the southwest and west which rightfully belong to Hispanic majorities and First Nations peoples. I intervened in order to make this point and got a kind of non-response from the CELDF speaker and a very helpful response from Dr. Ed Dover.

We should be suspicious of handing vast amounts of power over to a white majority in Oregon. Appalachia has a different history---it functions as a kind of internal colony and has produced great wealth that has been exported---and the Black Belt and the Hispanic- and Native American-majority regions have or had the characteristics of nations within a nation. Self-determination and local control in these areas is less problematic than removing federal protections from whiteopias. Even then, however, we must be aware of the roles played by the corrupt local and regional leaders who have exploited Appalachian poverty and alienation---Lou Barletta, Arch Moore and Joe Manchin come quickly to mind.

A nagging series of questions arises as we think this through. If we get past the questions of consciousness, mobilization, court battles, political battles, disarming the corporations, Constitutionalism, separating our ourselves and our intent from the kind of folks who occupied Malheur and somehow winning a struggle for local control on the basis of environmentalism----who pays for the clean-ups, has the resources to repair the damage which can be repaired and pay reparations? Who has the resources to provide jobs locally and build a working microeconomy?

Passing mention was made in the film of the rights of citizenship. No one took this up as a question. Do progressives mean to say that only people with papers have rights? Do they accept the Trump argument that borders make a nation?

I learned a great deal last night. The majority of those watching the film seemed familiar with the issues and, I would guess, favored local control and were not concerned about my issues. Ed Dover made a compelling case for a people's movement to reform and defend government and expressed an interesting skepticism of the Constitutionalist arguments. Ann Kneeland gave a helpful rundown of where things stand in Lane County and in some other areas in Oregon and made it clear that this is not an issue which is going away.

Some Important Upcoming Events For Salem, Independence And Corvallis---Many Great Things Are Happening!

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 3pm - 5pm: History of Race Relations at OSU---Valley Library, OSU, 5th Floor Special Collections, Rm. 5069

In the workshop, facilitated by spoken word artist, TOO BLACK, participants will learn about the history of race relations at OSU and its connections to contemporary issues. TOO BLACK will share experiences from his recent visit to South Africa and will connect it to an early 1980s protest and educational campaign led by the OSU African Students' Association in response to wrestling coach Dale Thomas' association with the South African wrestling community; the history is documented in the Ed Ferguson Oregon Anti-Apartheid Scrapbook.

RSVP: To register for the workshop or if you have any questions, please contact Natalia Fernández at 541-737-3653 natalia.fernandez[at]

FB event:

Friday, Jan. 20, 3pm - 6pm: Inaugurate Social & Eco Justice! - Rise*Love*Resist*Create* starting at OSU SEC Plaza, then to other locations (see below)

This community and family-oriented event will include a March, Rally, and end with a Community Gathering. We are pushing back against the politics of fear and instead wish to convey that:

1 - we are an inviting, inclusive and welcoming city,

2 - we intend to protect ourselves, our neighbors and our natural environment, and

3 - that we are building the community and the Oregon we want for all. This is an opportunity for us all to find new friends & allies in our community.

Kicking it off at 3pm, students & others march from SEC Plaza on OSU campus to Central Park, join with community members for Rally at 3:30pm, and then march together through downtown, ending at the Waterfront Park. From there, everyone is welcomed to the Odd Fellows Hall for a People's Gathering with hot drinks, snacks and goodies, conversation, networking and planning for the future.

Groups are invited to march with their banners & signs; artists, musicians, performers and activists are invited to bring their imagination and creativity to this collective action; and you are invited to bring your signs, messages, voices, drums, determination, energy, friends, families and allies! We intend our March to be bright, bold, noisy, joyful and powerful!

FB event for student walkout:

FB event for community events:


Saturday, January 21, 7:00 p.m., Salem: NEW CD RELEASE CONCERT BY JAN MICHAEL LOOKING WOLF, at First Congregational Church, 700 Marion St. NE. Tickets at the door ($10 adult, $5 Elder 55 & over, Children free). One-third of the proceeds will go to David Anitok of the Oregon Marshallese Society and the organization CANN, which supports legislation for justice for Pacific Islanders. More info from

Monday, Jan. 23, 7pm: Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory (Book)---Independence Civic Center, 555 S Main Street, Independence, Oregon. In Breaking Chains, R. Gregory Nokes tells the story of the only slavery case adjudicated in Oregon’s pre-Civil War courts—Holmes v. Ford. Through the lens of this landmark case, Nokes explores the historical context of racism in Oregon and the West, reminding readers that there actually were slaves in Oregon, though relatively few in number.

FB event:

Friday, January 26, 7:00 p.m., Salem: POWER, PRIVILEGE & RACIAL DIVERSITY IN OREGON, an Oregon Humanities conversation led by Emily Drew, at Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty St., SE. More info from Valorie Freeman at, 503.561.5279

Saturday, February 4: Stand With Standing Rock---Defund The Dakota Access Pipeline. Meet in front of the Wells Fargo Bank at 580 State Street in Salem and march to 4 banks in Salem involved in financing the Dakota Access Pipeline. See https://350salem,org for details.

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 9am - 4pm: 2017 Interfaith Advocacy Day (Salem)---St. Mark Lutheran Church in Salem. "Raising Diverse Voices of Faith to Strengthen Oregon Communities"

The 2017 Interfaith Advocacy Day will bring together hundreds of people from many religious traditions from throughout Oregon for a day of worship, dialogue and advocacy. Activities will include an interfaith panel, training in advocacy skills, issue briefings, meetings with our legislators, and a keynote address by Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum.

Register here:

Tuesday, February 7. 6:30 PM "The Brainwashing of My Dad" showing with Jen Senko, the filmmaker. Salem Public Library. More info at 503-881-5305.

Students at PCC who fear deportation ask our support in getting PCC to become a Sanctuary for all students and staff

Students at PCC who fear deportation ask our support in getting PCC to become a Sanctuary for all students (and staff).

Thursday January 19, 7-9pm, Rock Creek Campus, Bldg 9, Rm 122: PCC Board Meeting
#52 bus from Willow Creek/185th Max, #67 buses from Merlo/158th Max

The student leaders and other students are making this movement at PCC and are leading Hillsboro to become a Sanctuary City. 

Tuesday February 7, 5pm Shute Park (Parque del Indio), SE 9th & Maple. Rally & March to Civic Center for 7pm City Council Meeting

Now is the time to make Protection of each other in every way THE way in our community. We must join when the time is here.

Now is the time. We are the voters who elect the PCC Board. We ask Hillsboro and ALL our communities to protect ALL of us.

Please come Thursday 7pm and tell the Board what you expect of them in representing you. Please WEAR BLACK and RED.

Come Tuesday February 7, 7pm, to tell the City Council what you expect of them as protectors of our community.

SOLIDARITY! All of us!

Jack Herbert
Portland Central America Solidarity Committee

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

We aren't there yet, but we should study what's needed to get there: Would you join a General Strike?

A Helpful Response From A Comrade Regarding Our "Problems & Prospects" Post And A Response

We are always happy to hear from friends with analysis to share and with criticisms. In fact, we really do want to hear from more people and have more in-depth discussions. A comrade has sent in the following note regarding my post regarding the problems and prospects of building a radical movement in our Mid-Willamette Valley region:

I had some thoughts about your 'Problems and Prospects' post that I wanted to share.

1. The '$72,000 median income' figure comes from data collected during the primary election, not the general election. Furthermore, on closer scrutiny, it isn't entirely clear how Nate Silver, the statistician who did the original analysis, arrived at this particular value; Silver neglects to satisfactorily explain his analysis, vaguely alluding to somehow combining the imprecise income exit poll data with the more precise census data for the corresponding area. Silver's reticence as regards his methods is emblematic of the sloppy thinking and lack of rigor in virtually all political analysis in the US, left and right. There can be no correct analysis without correct data.

2. The contradiction between identity and class politics is a false one, however, the contradiction between bourgeois identity politics and proletarian identity politics is not. It is the latter contradiction that inflames some left commentators against 'liberal identity politics,' whether consciously or not. Bourgeois identity politics wants to see a 'multicultural' ruling class with CEOs of every color and creed. Proletarian identity politics analyzes how racism serves to justify and perpetuate the exploitative relationships in capitalist society and finds the path toward ending those relationships and transforming society. If some left writers are annoyed by the vacuous 'media criticism' that passes for feminist or anti-racist analysis, who can blame them? They are upset at a valid target, but for the wrong reasons. This is merely a symptom of the generally low level of theoretical understanding in the US.

3. Invoking the united front is not appropriate to the historical conditions in which we find ourselves. The united front strategy was developed in response to the specific conditions in Europe in the 1930s. These conditions included a strong left that was able to assert itself and mobilize mass numbers of people. The conditions we face are less like 1930s than they are the pre-WWI period of imperialist consolidation. We are weak to the point of irrelevancy; the average US voter thinks of the 'left' as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. We are in no position to present a credible united front with anybody, and to attempt to do so would constitute ‘rushing ahead’ of the sort that the ultra-leftists and Greens advocate with their talk of sweeping aside the Democratic Party in the space of a few months. Our task involves the much more difficult work of reconnecting with the masses, careful, critical analysis of current historical conditions and the way forward, and presentation of said analysis in an accessible way.

My response:

1. We do not say it enough, or clearly enough, but the analysis of class as some quantitative, as a noun, has real drawbacks and sometimes takes us away from understanding class in its full Marxist sense. "Class" is a historically-occurring relationship between people, it is a verb in the sense that classes have no meaning by themselves but find meaning in relationships with other classes. Between the working-class and the capitalists this relationship is one of struggle, sometimes open and sometimes quite hidden but always present. Data, whatever it seems to show, is fundamentally a measure of struggle.

2. We agree that "The contradiction between identity and class politics is a false one..." I am less inclined to agree that "liberal identity politics" is always a stumbling block. For instance, feminist and anti-racist analysis which makes us aware of privilege and intersectionality or takes up democratic demands or gives these demands life---I am thinking here especially of the demands for equal pay for equal work, the analysis of emotional labor, the hard look feminism has given the (re)creation of surplus value and The Movement For Black Lives Platform---have given, or are giving, a proletarian movement an added democratic and inclusive dimension without this analysis and these demands fastening yet on on a specific class identity. They drive our struggles even deeper and lead to more and better demands and actions which have the potential to win victories and involve more people. They become our school and give us the much-needed practice of democracy, indispensible to revolutionary working-class politics. We working-class leftists could in turn become the school for all of the other radicalized classes and groups in society once we fully grasp democratic struggle and can teach both its possibilities and limitations. The path to that runs parallel to or through "liberal identity politics" for many people.  

3. I am not sure that "Bourgeois identity politics wants to see a 'multicultural' ruling class with CEOs of every color and creed" or that a movement in that direction gets very far, or will get far under Trump. But, still, I am also not sure that a movement headed in that direction is entirely negative. After all, people come to taking direct action and building socialism out of a sense of necessity and after other avenues and possibilities have been tried and found lacking. And in areas where there is no capitalist class or middle-class fully present and where employment is low and social conditions are particularly dismal, a middle-class or capitalist class might for a time be driven by something like "identity politics" and fill for a time a progressive and necessary social role.

4. The fact "on the ground" is that we often find ourselves allied with middle-class and small-capitalist forces against particularly reactionary capitalists and their policies. These are learning opportunities for us and give us the means to advance if we organize correctly and on a principled basis.

5. The relationship of classes mentioned above has functioned in the U.S. in ways which have appeared to join the interests of workers to other classes. This has both false and real dimensions to it. We have to work out the politics of class formation and class struggle as we engage in a broader effort around all democratic demands, consciously pushing the system as far as it will go and understanding and distinguishing between temporary alliances and more permanent formations. And in both cases we will have to build from points of intersectionality.

6. It is exactly right that "The united front strategy was developed in response to the specific conditions in Europe in the 1930s. These conditions included a strong left that was able to assert itself and mobilize mass numbers of people" and I want to thank our friend for pointing this out as I have neglected to do so. That said, I do not think that the united front idea loses its importance or relevancy because the left appears weak or because some voters are confused about who and what the left is. Perhaps I should have said that the structure and purpose of the united front are different now than they were in the 1930s---our immediate goal should be to engage in principled "coalition politics" and infuse these coalitions with a more radical spirit, winning over workers and working-class people at the base to our politics. This is a fundamental point and I appreciate the push to clarify.  

Salem's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Event Got Off To A Great Start

Photo from Sara Rohrs

Salem Women's March---Saturday, 11:00 AM---Salem Capitol Mall---Salem

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Philly Socialists Do Some Serious Teaching---Please Watch This Video!

Nina Turner Spoke Today in Washington, D.C.

Salem Solidarity Network: This is a new group here in Salem. The meetings are well attended. If you are looking for ways to resist Trump in our community attending the next meeting will be well worth your time. Next meeting: 4th Thursday (Jan 26th) starting at 6:00 pm, SEIU Building 1730 Commercial St SE

Martin Luther King, Jr. March & Rally: Commemorates Selma to Montgomery March SK NAACP & Salem Coalition of Churches. Monday January 16th at 10 am. Wallace Marine Park to Capitol.

Our Revolution: Stand Up for Health Care: Sign and Wave in Salem: Join us on the corner of Silverton Rd and Lancaster Dr., Sunday, January 15th at 1:00 pm. Bring signs, wear warm clothing. Let Congress know No Repeal without Replacement, we want Health Care!

In The Streets For Immigrant Rights Today In Salem

All photos from One Oregon. It was a GREAT rally and march!

"We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered." -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

McDonalds Workers On Strike In France

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Erious Johnson, Jr. to speak in Salem on Slavery, Capitalism and Citizenship

January 22, 2017
Salem Friends Meeting House
490 - 19th St. NE (corner of Breyman)
 Slavery,  capitalism  and CITIZENSHIP
Presentation by Erious Johnson, Jr., Director of Civil Rights for the
Oregon Department of Justice
This involves outreach to diverse communities located throughout
the state, educating people about their rights and the resources the
Department of Justice has to offer. as well as working with the
Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) on  housing discrimination
 cases  and investigating complaints of fraudulent business practices
that target protected classes. Questions and discussion to follow.
Erious Johnson earned his J.D., cum laude, from Howard University School of Law,
and is admitted to practice in Oregon state and federal court.  He has experience in
 private practice, as well as the City of New York, and Portland's Black Male
Achievement Initiative, and Salem-Keizer NAACP.
Potluck follows the program.
Everyone welcome
Information:  503 371 6109

Rania Khalek Will Speak In Corvallis On January 17

A GLIMPSE THROUGH THE RUBBLE: A Report of Syria with Rania Khalek
Tuesday, January 17 * 5-8pm 
OSU Memorial Union Room 206

Join us for a presentation by journalist Rania Khalek as she details her recent trip from Syria via Google Hangouts. There will be a Q and A session following the presentation.

Khalek is the former editor of the Electronic Intifada and her work has appeared in The Intercept, Al Jazeera, Salon, The Nation, and many more publications. Khalek also co-hosts the podcast, Unauthorized Disclosure.

The event will be free and open to the public. Light snacks and refreshments will be avaliable.

Sponsors: Allied Students for Another Politics and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights.

The event will also be live streamed for those who can't attend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

United for Immigrant Rights March & Rally---Saturday at 11:30 AM - 3 PM---Oregon State Capitol

This is a must-join and a must-do for the entire anti-Trump coalition in Oregon. If you're serious about opposing Trump, standing up for racial justice, supporting workers and defending your neighbors and coworkers you will be in the streets with us this Saturday at the State Capitol.

Salem takes action

From a report provided by local activists:

A good crowd of folks participated in the Day Against Denial rally at Senator Wyden's office in Salem yesterday. The event was well-organized by the host group 350 Salem OR.

There was no one in Senator Wyden's office when we arrived, but we learned that his part-time staffperson would be in later in the day. We our rallied the rain until we were told to leave because the building and parking lot are private property. Some of the group went downtown to Senator Merkley's office. No one was there either, but the group slipped a message under his office door to thank him for his commitment to effective climate policy and let him know that we are counting on him to vote no on Trump's climate-change-denying, fossil-fuel-friendly Cabinet nominees Scott Pruitt (EPA), Rick Perry (Energy), Ryan Zinke (Interior) and Rex Tillerson (State).

Later in the day one of the 350 Salem OR Coordinators met with Fritz Graham, Senator Wyden’s Salem Field Representative and reported "Fritz knew we had been there, informed by the same guy who had asked us to leave. I delivered our 350 Salem OR statement and the letters written by others at the rally. Fritz was cordial, attentive, took some notes on our message, but in the end, would not say whether Senator Wyden will vote against these nominees. He told me that Senator Wyden is not a climate change denier, which I knew. But I also know he prides himself on bipartisanship and I told Fritz this is not the time for it; the other side is not playing fair. Win, lose or draw, some things are matters of morality and justice and this is one of those times."

We need to keep urging Senator Wyden to vote no and keep telling Senator Merkley we're counting on him to stand his ground. has a tally sheet for checking which senators have taken public positions on each nominee. The page includes a way to look up your Senators' phone numbers. So let's keep calling.

The Salem group has allies in Greenpeace, Food & Water Watch, Climate Truth, Oil Change International and orhers. If you want to learn more about 350 Salem OR, please contact us through the local website or email