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Harvard’s Progress Is Not Our Progress
"any of us have come together tonight, some no doubt interested to see how this idea of “class warfare” suits Harvard. Since we announced this event, I have heard and seen people remarking with surprise and irony that Harvard should be the site of anything to do with a class war. But I assure you, Harvard has always played a key role in the class war.

Perhaps you have read an article from one of our panelists, Meagan Day. “Defend Your Class,” which ran in Jacobin last April, is named for the slogan that Harvard deployed to inspire its students to leave the classroom in 1912 and take up arms with the National Guard to break the Lawrence, Massachusetts “Bread and Roses” textile workers’ strike.

What was the threat from which Harvard elites needed defense? It was a movement of the working class, men, women, and children, of thirty countries of origin, speaking forty-five languages, demanding freedom from the daily threats to their lives posed by underpaid and dangerous jobs — and, even more radically, the freedom to exist beyond the value assigned to their labor by the capitalist bosses.

What was the value of those three words, “Defend your class,” to the Harvard undergraduate militiamen? Perhaps you know that hundreds of strikers were beaten and thrown in jail by the strikebreakers, and two were murdered. For demonstrating their allegiance to their class, the Harvard students received course credit.

The Harvard brand has expanded fabulously in its prestige and in its power since that strike. And above all, it has expanded its capacity to defend its class. About a mile from where we are gathered here, a new engineering school complex is being built, described by our President Lawrence Bacow as “a jewel of a building.” To Bacow, Allston has long been “just an idea, a vision of the future,” but with the construction of the engineering school, a billion-dollar project, “that future is rapidly coming into focus.” It’s a bleak “future” for one of the last affordable neighborhoods in Boston, while hundreds of our neighbors sleep on the streets every night and a minimum-wage worker must work 210 hours to make rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Cambridge.

President Bacow’s praise for the new Allston campus is just pretty talk for a class war. Harvard’s progress is not our progress.

Has anyone, watching our teaching fellows and course assistants strike for fair pay and decent health care, taken comfort in the fact that sixty-two of the world’s current billionaires are Harvard men and women? Who among us reads that the Harvard endowment has reached $40 billion in fiscal year 2019 and celebrates, knowing that those dollars rebound from investments in private prisons and the global destruction of fossil fuels?

We do not, because Harvard’s progress is not our progress. This institution stands shoulder to shoulder with the National Guard of 1912, the Henry Kissingers of 1969, and the war-mongering presidents of the 2000s, Republican and Democrat. In these 384 years, it has not missed a single step.

My task is not to build up a pile of evidence against Harvard out of hatred or spite. I want to illustrate that the war-making, strike-breaking impulses of this institution are not random; they are not unrelated. Harvard is a case study in the unified power of the elite in pursuit of the almighty profit motive, the power of the next dollar and the dollar after that.

That is what we all are worth to it. But every single one of you is worth the world to me. And I hope that you feel that way about one another, because our shared future depends upon it. We can comfort, rally, mourn, and transform the face of the earth with this knowledge.

At the heart of that approach to each other is the indispensable ethic of solidarity. In the words of St Augustine, “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” When our homeless brothers and sisters walk into an apartment and call it home, we will say: this is justice, and not charity. When working-class children enroll in free college instead of the army in order to build a better life, we will say: this is justice, not charity. When we realize and honor Fred Hampton’s vision for a rainbow coalition against a racist police and incarceration system, against the starvation of children, and against the commodification of health care, we will say: this is not charity, this is not generosity, this is justice.

Behind the idea of charity is the sense that we do not deserve the things we need for our own survival. In our time, in which class warfare is reaching a great crescendo, something tells me that the powerful institutions of this world will continue to become ever less charitable. Let us take the matter of our survival out of their hands and into our own. Let us have justice, a justice made possible by solidarity. There is no substitute on earth for that.

I am a literature student, so I am thinking of a verse written by W. B. Yeats in praise of a friend “bred to a harder thing than Triumph.” As a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, I have knocked hundreds of doors in Iowa and in New Hampshire. I will not forget the Iowans that I met shortly before the New Year. I spoke to a woman who was on leave from her low-wage job because a physical disability made the work too painful. But what decided her vote was the idea of a world in which she could afford mental health care.

She told me about the struggle she faces every day to get out of her bed, and then told me that on February 3, she would get out of bed, get into her car, and drive to a caucus site to caucus for Bernie Sanders. She planned to do all of these things in the name of a harder thing than triumph.

Here in Massachusetts, the great antiwar activist Al Johnson canvassed among us in Nashua every weekend. Al passed away on January 1, 2020. From his deathbed on December 31, 2019, Johnson made two hundred phone calls for Bernie Sanders. Born to a Kentucky coal miner, raised in Massachusetts public housing, he was imprisoned as a conscientious objector of the Vietnam War. He spent a year in that military prison for loving peace. So great was Johnson’s love for peace that it led him not only to work alongside the Black Panthers and the Poor People’s Movement, but ultimately to join Bernie Sanders’s movement for an end to war and poverty across the globe.

Al Johnson was bred to a harder thing than triumph. Al Johnson was bred to solidarity his entire life.

Let us be bred to a harder thing than triumph: the thing that makes triumph possible. Let it be solidarity. For then our work can never come to nothing.

In the last day of his life, Al Johnson placed two hundred calls in the name of a world he would not live to see. What great certainty he had in those final hours — not a certainty in victory, but a certainty in the value of your life and mine. Let us be so certain in our shared purpose and certain in our shared way forward.

With every undocumented family, with every climate refugee, with every community devastated by the “war on drugs,” with every unionized worker, we are more certain that the world must change, because we belong in it. The day will come when the working class lives in the housing it has built and benefits from the labor it has exerted. We must work for that day together in solidarity, and we must accept no substitute. We must vote for solidarity in 2020 — but this is only the beginning."
labor  work  class  elitism  harvard  piperwinkler  exploitation  workingclass  2020  endowment  progress  charity  philanthropy  staugustine  fredhampton  survival  wbyeats  justice  society  socialjustice  berniesanders  socialism  solidarity  organizing  aljohnson 
7 days ago by robertogreco
Community Defense Zone Guide « Mijente
"This document lays out a roadmap for setting up Community Defense Zone campaigns in local communities. We know that many people are doing different kinds of work right now, but we also have heard from many that templates are needed for where to start under the new reality of the Trump Era.

It is meant to be adaptable for small towns and big cities, relevant to red state and blue, meant to get us beyond our usual circles, and it’s best paired with other ‘know your rights’ materials (coming soon.)"
mijente  communitydefensezones  organizing  howto  instructions  tutorials  community  2017 
7 days ago by robertogreco
The Right to Listen | The New Yorker
“n 2016, during one of the first shoots for “What Is Democracy?,” I stood near Miami Beach, asking people to share their political opinions on camera. Three middle-aged men on vacation from New Jersey sat down on a park bench to chat. They sang the praises of a Republican candidate for President named Donald Trump, and offered their thoughts about immigration (bad), taxes (too high), and police violence against black people (not a problem). It was only a few minutes before one of them mentioned free speech. “Here, we have freedom to express,” he said, of the United States. “Like when Joe was just explaining about his racism, six large black men walked by. I thought there might be a problem. Not in this country! They heard it, it’s democracy. Joe can say whatever he wants.” What made America great, they suggested, was every individual’s right to say anything, without reserve and without inviting a response. This was a conception of democratic life that centered on self-expression, with listening left out. In its version of democracy, speech need only go one way.

The men on the bench were hardly unique in overlooking listening as an important component of democracy. As an activist on the left, I long assumed that my role consisted entirely of raising awareness, sounding alarms, and deploying arguments; it took me years to realize that I needed to help build and defend spaces in which listening could happen, too. As citizens, we understand that the right to speak has to be facilitated, bolstered by institutions and protected by laws. But we’ve been slow to see that, if democracy is to function well, listening must also be supported and defended—especially at a moment when technological developments are making meaningful listening harder.

By definition, democracy implies collectivity; it depends on an inclusive and vibrant public sphere in which we can all listen to one another. We ignore that listening at our peril. Watching “What Is Democracy?” today, I find that the answer lies not just in the voices of the people I interviewed. It’s also in the shots of people listening, receptively, as others speak.”
astrataylor  2020  listening  democracy  freedomofspeech  organizing  activism  power  speech  whatisdemocracy?  filmmaking  documentary  voices  gender  marginalization  politics  collectivism  collectivity  inclusivity  technology  facebook  forums  speaking  institutions  law  legal  constitution  us  facilitation  awareness 
21 days ago by robertogreco
Down-Ballot Fights with Jessica Cisneros, Stephen Smith, and Heidi Sloan - The Dig
"We need Bernie but a lot more too. Dan does three interviews with down-ballot left insurgent candidates: Jessica Cisneros, a Justice Democrat running against incumbent conservative Democrat Henry Cuellar in Texas’s 28th congressional district; Stephen Smith, who is running a populist campaign for West Virginia governor; and Heidi Sloan, a DSA candidate in the Democratic primary for Texas’s 25th Republican-held 25th congressional district."
justicedemocrats  organizing  notmeus  berniesanders  jessicacisneros  texas  westvirginia  2020  electronics  stephensmith  heidisloan  left  populism  dsa  socialism  democrats  politics  policy  campaigning  congress  us  henrycuellar  power  republicans  inequality  organizers  grassroots  listening 
23 days ago by robertogreco
The First Rainbow Coalition | Season 21 Episode 6 | Independent Lens | PBS
"In 1969, the Chicago Black Panther Party formed alliances across ethnic and racial lines with other community-based movements in the city, including Latino group the Young Lords and southern whites the Young Patriots. Banding together in one of postwar America's most segregated cities to confront issues like police brutality and substandard housing, they called themselves the Rainbow Coalition."
rainbowcoalition  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  1968  1969  chicago  patriotism  us  history  race  ethnicity  younglords  youngpatriots  segregation  policebrutality  housing  resistance  freedom  liberation  solidarity  education  inequality  urbanrenewal  urbanism  socialjustice  socialism  join  risingupangry  fredhampton  bobbylee  self-defense  revolution  organizing  cointelpro  oppression  fascism  exploitation 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Ep. 20: The Half Baked Politics of Half Measures (feat. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor) by RUMBLE with MICHAEL MOORE • A podcast on Anchor
[also here:
https://player.fm/series/rumble-with-michael-moore/ep-20-the-half-baked-politics-of-half-measures-feat-keeanga-yamahtta-taylor
https://open.spotify.com/episode/6YcwDWPeMrcZ9DfBN3cMFX ]

“The failures of liberal half measures, compromise and “third way” politics has opened the door for right-wing demagogues to take power. It has also re-awakened a militant and energized left to combat both the wackadoodle right and the tepid center. We’re seeing this play out in American politics and the 2020 Democratic primary. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is a scholar, author and activist. Her writing and speaking has incisively and ferociously exposed the failures of capitalism and the necessity of a fierce struggle to overcome it. She joins Michael to discuss how the hell we got here and how we liberate ourselves.

**********

“Five Years Later, Do Black Lives Matter?” https://jacobinmag.com/2019/09/black-lives-matter-laquan-mcdonald-mike-brown-eric-garner

“How Real Estate Segregated America” https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/how-real-estate-segregated-america-fair-housing-act-race

Read about and order Keeanga’s books here: http://www.keeangataylor.com/books.html

Follow Keeanga on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KeeangaYamahtta
keeanga-yamahttataylor  politics  us  berniesanders  2020  statusquo  power  organizing  barackobama  notmeus  hope  change  revolution  socialmovements  interdependence  interconnectedness  michaelmoore  elections  thirdway  blacklivesmatter  housing  healthcare  medicareforall  capitalism  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  socialism  flint  michigan  segregation  democrats  congress  corruption  centrism  moderates  moreofthesame  struggle  policy  inequality  joebiden  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  cynicism  troydavis  poverty  elitism  rulingclass 
29 days ago by robertogreco
#WeAreThePoliticalRevolution - YouTube
“In 2015,
@BernieSanders
asked us all for a political revolution.
So we went out, and we became political revolutionaries, young people demanding better. Will you join the political revolution with us?

https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-the-political-revolution-2

#WeAreThePoliticalRevolution #Sunrise4Bernie #NotMeUs

[video this bookmark is for

"We Are the Political Revolution
Last election, @BernieSanders asked us all for a political revolution. So we went out, and we became a political revolution of young people. Will you join the political revolution with us?"]

Many looked at the IPCC report on the climate crisis with despair.

We knew that despair was not an option. We knew that we had to bring ordinary people into the political process, to muster all of our energy and fight, not lie down and give up.

[video: Sen. Bernie Sanders - “Despair is not an option”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS57zcLcLRQ

One question asked of Senator Sanders how he was able to bounce back in the wake of Trump’s unexpected win.

“It is appropriate when you lose to take a day off,” Sanders said to laughter. “But in all seriousness, when you deal with bigotry and the incredible hurt that it does to people. And when you deal with climate change and understand if we don’t act aggressively that the planet that we leave those kids will be a much less happy planet, you don’t have the option of living in remorse or sadness.”

For the full story, visit: https://news.berkeley.edu/2016/12/02/berniesanders-our-revolution/ ]

We are those ordinary people. You are those ordinary people. You are more powerful than you know. We knew that if we could mobilize our generation, that we could fight to avert the climate crisis. To fight for a better today and a better tomorrow.

“Join the Political Revolution”
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-the-political-revolution-2/

What does it mean to have a political revolution? It means we all understand that we are so much more powerful when we fight for our collective liberation, when we join that fight.

Only then can we ensure that the world rests in the hands of humanity, not billionaires.

What does it mean to have a political revolution? It means we put our society in the hands of working class people, of people of color, of homeless and poor people, of the children of refugees and immigrants. It means none of us are free until all of us are free.

What does it mean to have a political revolution? It means we no longer stand by while millions are homeless, while tens of millions are uninsured, while children go hungry, while our generation’s future is sold to fossil fuel companies and student loan collectors.

We can create a better world
First, we must believe that we will win
We believe that we will win. That’s why Sunrise exists
We believe that we will win. That’s why we’ll be voting for @BernieSanders
We believe that we will win. That’s why we’ve committed to a decade of activism.

We all need to believe in ourselves and in each other. We need to believe in a fundamental truth: that this is not all that we are or that we can be. That we can be so much more. That the world can be so much better. And we need you as well.
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-the-political-revolution-2/

As these new leaders step up, the politicians of the era before us, who have failed us? They may need to step down. Some of them, bold leaders of courage and wisdom, will continue to fight for us. @BernieSanders is one of those bold leaders. That’s why…

In 2020, @SunriseMvmt is going to turn out the youth vote to elect @BernieSanders president, and to make the #GreenNewDeal a reality. But Bernie isn’t just looking to be a leader: he’s looking to create a movement of leaders. We are ready to be that movement.

They may say “oh that’s naive, that’s impossible”. Well we’re done hearing what’s impossible. We’re going to make the status quo impossible, make a better world inevitable. We’re going to be the leaders we want to see in our world. We are Sunrise. Join us.”
sunrisemovement  2020  video  activism  organizing  berniesanders  climatechange  politics  elections  socialjustice  climatejustice  revolution  change  equality  inequality  greennewdeal 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Technology did more good than harm this decade
"It's true that, as the scale and pace of technology increased, mistakes were made, lessons went unlearned, and now we have tech companies constantly making privacy violations, enforcing dubiously defended policies, and struggling to take responsibility for the change they have inflicted. But the idea that tech is only a tool is worth poking at, and so is the presumption that it only had negative consequences this decade. Quite to the contrary, it's worth remembering that technology helps many people, and it has especially helped the marginalized.

Just to start small: There was a time not very long ago when you had to yell through a landline to talk to someone overseas. Now, immigrants, refugees, and diasporas of all kinds can communicate simply and almost for free with people across the globe from their smartphones. This is about more than convenience — it's a way of fostering community and connection in what can often be the alienating experience of migration.

For refugees in particular, smartphones provided a lifeline. For the millions fleeing Syria, for example, smartphones were a way to connect with home, aid, and burgeoning communities in their new countries.

Tech thus enables people at the margins of society to find help and find each other in ways that would have been more difficult in prior eras.

But even in comparatively wealthy societies, that capacity of tech to gather people can still produce massive change. In North America, Black Lives Matter and the indigenous movement Idle No More arose in part because of how they were broadcast online, allowing the groups to recruit, get a message out against a hostile media, and coalesce around an idea.

Something similar could be said for the #metoo movement, which naturally found its home online. Beyond that, the general focus on social justice, whether trans rights, race relations, or a growing resurgence of socialism, all found a base and communities online. Would trans people have been able to highlight the enormous prejudice they face as quickly without the web? It seems unlikely.

I'm not trying to be contrarian while others are pointing out the many, very real downsides of the new digital era. Rather, it's important to remember that historical change is ambivalent. Technology's role in that change isn't to be a tool, but something that reforms and reconfigures reality.

The classic example of this comes from German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who suggested that something like a hydroelectric dam doesn't just generate electricity out of the movement of water, but actually makes us reconceive the Rhine river as a thing to be harvested, redirected. Tech isn't an addition to an already existing reality; it creates a new one.

That's an important distinction, because it reframes the conversation around whether tech is good or bad. It forces us to ask what we wish to do with a new reality.

Because for all the ways in which tech can genuinely help marginalized people, it is also the thing that will disproportionately harm them. If and when facial recognition technology is deployed by the police, it will be the poor and racialized who will be unfairly targeted. If social credit systems are used to judge people, as is starting to happen in China, it is hard to believe it won't be the underclass who will suffer. And there is more broadly the pre-existing digital divide, in which upper- and middle-income people have access to tech, which in turn can give them a leg up in school or the workplace.

For all that risk, it's worth pointing out that the groups in society usually trodden underfoot have also used tech to collect themselves, push back, and ameliorate their lives. That is worth remembering too: We are not simply pawns subject to power, but people who can also resist it. And as the decade draws to a close and a new one dawns, we need to consider more than whether or not technology is harming us. We need to ask what we can do with tech to empower the marginalized."
navneetalang  2019  technology  resistance  empowerment  socialmedia  communication  race  digital  reality  heidegger  rhineriver  #metoo  blacklivesmatter  organizing  socialjustice  idlenomore  smartphones  refugees  distance  syria  smarthphone  mobile  phones  migration 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Sunrise Movement 🌅 on Twitter: "Why Bernie? Here are just a few of the reasons our voter members cited in their support of @BernieSanders..." / Twitter
“Why Bernie?

Here are just a few of the reasons our voter members cited in their support of @BernieSanders

1⃣ His consistency.

Bernie has been calling the climate crisis “the most important issue facing civilization” since the 1980s, and he’s stood alongside movements fighting it since then, too.

2⃣ His responsiveness to social movements and new information.

Bernie has always prioritized climate. But in response to increased scientific warnings & pressure from social movements, Bernie leaned fully into the biggest, boldest Green New Deal platform that we’ve seen.

3⃣ His political courage.

More than any other candidate, the positions Bernie’s taken draw from deep moral convictions promoted over decades of his career. From his days as a civil rights activist to standing with the Standing Rock Sioux, Bernie shows up time and time again.

4⃣ His holistic vision of the future.

Through his stances on immigration, healthcare, racial justice, inequality, environmental justice, democracy, and more, Bernie has shown that he understands the interconnectedness of climate solutions with addressing other social issues.

5⃣ His commitment to building a cross-class, multi-racial movement.

The transformative change we seek requires taking on the world’s most powerful, moneyed interests. Bernie calls himself “organizer-in-chief” b/c he knows we need nothing short of a political revolution to win.”

[https://twitter.com/SJBSchu/status/1215283007629606912

I would add 6️⃣The international character of his Green New Deal.
Bernie understands we need to cooperate with the rest of the world, not treat them paternalistically or only as customers for US-made tech. He’ll reduce military & aid the Global South thru the Green Climate Fund.”]
sunrisemovement  berniesanders  2020  politics  policy  greennewdeal  interconnectedness  climatecrisis  climatejustice  elections  transformation  socialmovements  activism  organizing 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Can Bernie Sanders Alter the Course of the Democratic Party?
“At stake in the campaign is not just the fate of this year’s nomination, but the future of the Democratic Party’s coalition. The party is not the multiracial, working-class one Sanders and many of his backers want it to be. Sanders is famously not a member of it.”



“in order for a democratic socialist to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to the White House, Sanders believes he will have to do more than merely persuade a majority of the primary electorate to come out and vote for him. He’ll have to create a new electorate.”



“When Republicans represent the rich and Democrats represent the well-educated but not quite as rich, Piketty says, there’s no obvious party home for the working class, and no motivation for the government to do much of anything for that working class.

It’s a global trend, and it’s one that the Sanders campaign is trying to stop and reverse. Instead of crafting a platform to fit a coalition, the campaign is trying to create a coalition to fit his platform.”



“As Piketty observed, when both major parties are catering to the elites, the system can’t deliver material gains for the broad base of people, so the parties fight over the one thing a nation can control: its borders, and correspondingly the definition of citizenship. Without a party advocating for universal programs of uplift, for a collective effort to confront the seismic challenges facing the planet, the dialogue in the U.S. will dissolve, the way it has already begun to do in Europe, solely into battles over immigration and nationalism, battles that the right is well-positioned to win by exploiting fear, xenophobia, and anti-elite sentiment.”



“But, she knew, going state by state and company by company wouldn’t be enough, and believed something had to change at the top to enable grassroots groups to make progress at a scale that could match the extent of the crisis. She didn’t know anybody on the Sanders campaign, but she was in luck: Nobody who wanted a future career in Democratic politics was willing to work for Sanders, lest they wind up on the business end of the revenge-prone Clintons. Sandberg didn’t want a career in Washington, so that wasn’t an obstacle, and the campaign brought her, Zack Exley, and eventually Becky Bond on to run the digital organizing program.”



“On a car ride with staff earlier in 2019, Sanders opened up about one of his frustrations with Democratic Party leaders, bemoaning the way that they consider party activists and voters to be two utterly distinct entities, “who never the twain shall meet.” It’s OK for the activists to get riled up, but the voters never should. They have one job: Get into the booth, pull the lever, and go home.

“It’s a scarcity mindset that the party has,” Rast said. “It believes that voters don’t want to participate in democracy, which isn’t fundamentally true in this political moment. People want to participate — now! We have to give them the invitation to do it.”

That angling of the lens, that faith in people, is central to the organizing strategy. “We’re working collaboratively to actually build a movement for Bernie that’s legitimately integrated from Claire all the way down to FO’s” — field organizers — “in Iowa, which is pretty unprecedented for a presidential campaign,” Rast said.”



“Once a campaign sees its supporters through a broader lens than people to tap for small donations, more becomes possible. “It was important to us to not just engage voters as numbers in the voter file, but as people who exist in relationship to one another and also exist in communities that have specific concerns that are distinct,” she added.

The campaign began looking at the voter file in a different way. For this, they had the help of Emily Isaac, who ran one of the most unique field programs in the 2018 cycle, that of Sri Kulkarni in Texas. (Arguably, the four most innovative field campaigns that cycle were Kulkarni’s, Jess King’s in Pennsylvania, Ocasio-Cortez’s in New York, and Beto O’Rourke’s statewide race for Senate. Three of those four lost anyway, of course, but the Sanders campaign has absorbed organizers and tactics from all of them.)”



“Typically, a canvasser is given a list of names and addresses and told to knock on those doors, ask people how they’re voting, leave some literature, and perhaps attempt a little persuasion. The goal is to identify supporters so they can be turned out on Election Day. It’s grueling work: Most people aren’t home or aren’t interested in talking.

In the Kulkarni race, Isaac gave volunteers lists of people who lived in their local precinct and asked them to go through it and fill in information about their neighbors. It turned out that people knew an awful lot about their neighbors and their political preferences, and the campaign was able to amass intelligence at a scale impossible otherwise. The volunteers mapped roughly 14,000 of their neighbors with this method, and the campaign then leaned on friend-to-friend relationships to push those people out to vote. (According to the Sanders campaign, the Analyst Institute, which does private research for Democratic campaigns, has found that peers are twice as effective at persuading someone to vote than strangers on the phone or at the door.) In 2016, Democrats had lost the seat by 19 percentage points; Kulkarni fell just 5 short (and is running again, after the Republican incumbent Pete Olson, reading the writing on the Texas wall, retired).”



“There are currently more than 115,000 people who’ve created a Bern account, the campaign claims, and it has generated more than 300,000 IDs. The Elizabeth Warren campaign uses an app called Reach that was developed for the Ocasio-Cortez campaign, which itself was a game-changer. Under the old programs, a volunteer would get a list of voters and then go out and try to find them at their doors or over the phone. But it’s much easier to make contact with voters in the wild: at farmer’s markets, on street corners, at concerts, or just out at the bar with friends. Reach allows a volunteer to easily enter information they collect on the street, but it falls short of what Bern is capable of.

What the Bern app enables is called relational, or friend-to-friend organizing, which has become a buzzword among progressive organizers, something many groups say they do, but don’t actually do with any rigor or scale.

“It’s very new overall and I don’t think that it’s ever been tried at this scale,” Sandberg said. “It doesn’t work to just say, ‘Bring five friends and then we’ll get bigger and bigger and bigger and win.’ It only works if you can systematize it and have ways of following up with every single volunteer and also finding out who they’re talking about and matching them back to the voter file. You can’t turn them out unless you have their precinct location.”

“The only other campaign that is doing relational organizing on a scale close to what we are doing actually is the Trump campaign,” she added.

“It’s one of the most innovative parts of our program, but it only works when you build something big around it,” Rast added. “If you have a couple of volunteers and they do relational [organizing], fine, but the reason why relational is really powerful on our campaign is because of everything else that we’re doing, and because it’s slotted into a bigger strategy that’s all driving towards the same point.”

Inside the Sanders campaign, relational organizing is linked up with the constituency program. In most campaigns, that means assigning staffers to reach out to various constituencies — labor unions, Chinese Americans, veterans, etc. — and meeting them where they are. For a standard campaign, the goal is simply to win the endorsement of an association linked to the constituency, perhaps extract some campaign cash, hold an event, and move on, hoping that the endorsement will win votes in the community. Traditionally, constituent groups are lobbied for their endorsement by the political directors or their staff, but the Sanders campaign has significantly underfunded that department, aware that Sanders won’t win many endorsements with one-to-one meetings. Instead, the task is seen as one of organizing: build support among a group’s base, and force its leadership into line.”
ryangrim  berniesanders  2020  2019  2016  2015  organizing  elections  petebuttigieg  elizabethsanders  hillaryclinton  billclinton  democracy  democrats  politics  socialism  nationalism  thomaspiketty  clairesandberg  beccarast  scarcity  relationships  campaigning 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Twitter Made Us Better - The New York Times
"These days, everyone thinks it’s a cesspit. But it’s changed whose voices we hear. That’s a good thing.

It’s impossible to avoid news about how harmful social media can be. The Cambridge Analytica scandal. The ubiquitous Russian bots. The lackadaisical response of tech industry leaders to privacy violations, election meddling and harassment.

All the optimism about social media as a vehicle for social change that followed the Arab Spring in 2011 has largely dissipated. Twitter — which once prompted users with the innocuous question “What are you doing?” — is now better known as a home for unforgiving criticism, stripped of the politeness that can soften real-life interactions. Many have become social media cynics.

Despite it all, the way we use Twitter made this decade better.

Rightful critiques of social media, and Twitter in particular, shouldn’t obscure the significance of the conversations that have happened there over the past 10 years. As we enter 2020, powerful individuals and societal problems can no longer avoid public scrutiny. That’s thanks in part to those who have demanded attention through the website. The online activism and commentary that take place on Twitter are often dismissed as expressions of “cancel culture” or “woke culture.” But a closer look reveals what’s really happening: Many people who lacked public platforms 10 years ago — the young and members of marginalized groups in particular — are speaking up, insisting on being heard.

For our forthcoming book, “#HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice,” my colleagues and I studied how groups including African-Americans, survivors of gendered violence and transgender women have used Twitter to build vibrant communities and to influence news and politics. We found that movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, while they had pre-Twitter origins, were pushed into mainstream consciousness by networks of ordinary people sharing firsthand stories, making demands and developing shared political narratives on the site. Without Twitter, these campaigns for race and gender justice would still exist, but they wouldn’t have nearly the same momentum.

It’s well known that African-Americans’ influence on Twitter — where they are overrepresented both compared with their numbers in the United States population and compared with other demographic groups who use the internet — shapes meme culture, fashion trends, slang and humor. But it also fuels cultural criticism and political demands.


ILLUSTRATION BY THE NEW YORK TIMES. PHOTOGRAPH BY MAX WHITTAKER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
Just look at the record: With #OscarsSoWhite, users drew attention to the 2015 and 2016 nominations that featured no people of color in any of the lead or supporting actor categories. That hasn’t happened since, and in 2019 the hashtag’s creator, April Reign, was invited by the academy to attend the award ceremony. When a CNN headline about a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi inexplicably focused on his criminal record, #CNNBeLike inspired parodies of the network’s framing and the prevalence of racist media stereotypes. That was undoubtedly noticed by journalists responsible for deciding how to present reporting to their audiences. #CosbyMeme, a hashtag that originated with the actor’s own account and asked fans to create memes about him, was hijacked to redirect focus to his assaults on women. #IfSlaveryWasAChoice captured the absurdity of Kanye West’s bizarre analysis of American history, using stinging sarcasm to make clear that the rapper was not to be taken seriously.

Without Twitter, far fewer Americans would have heard the names Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Sandra Bland — black people whose deaths have become synonymous with #BlackLivesMatter activism. When users deployed the hashtag #TamirRice — the name of the 12-year-old black boy who was holding a toy gun when he was killed by a police officer — alongside #EmmettTill, the platform was being used to link current events to the long history of anti-black violence once documented by accounts like Ida B. Wells’s 1895 book “The Red Record.” These digital campaigns pushed many major news outlets to report more thoroughly on police shootings. The ways in which local and federal agencies collect and track use-of-force data have changed.

Long before #MeToo, hashtags like #YesAllWomen (used to note the pervasiveness of misogynistic violence), #GirlsLikeUs (used to discuss issues facing transgender women) and #YouOkSis (used to draw attention to black women’s experiences with street harassment) were deployed by diverse groups of women to illustrate how, to borrow the old feminist refrain, the personal is political.

Twitter users have disrupted a media landscape where gatekeepers — in an industry that has always fallen short when it comes to race and gender diversity — were for too long solely responsible for setting the agenda of what we talked about as a country. While most Americans do not have Twitter accounts, journalists and politicians often do, and they have turned heavily in the past decade to the activists, scholars and people of color on Twitter to inform their coverage and policies. When they haven’t done so, these communities have responded resoundingly online. And America has listened.

Twitter has fundamentally altered the ways many communities interact with the media, as users feel empowered to challenge harmful framing. “I think the presence of Asian-Americans on Twitter has actually really showed journalists, editors and people in general in the newsroom how it is important to cover Asian-American issues,” one user told my colleagues and me in an interview for a report published by the Knight Foundation. “With Twitter, you can call out a publication if they mess up, or if they don’t cover certain topics. Now there’s accountability.”

Film producers, television writers and advertisers have changed the way they create content to respond to fans who express their views online. Showrunners from USA Network and the CW have acknowledged the influence of Twitter fans on the content of their programs. Hashtags like #NotBuyingIt have called brands from Huggies to BMW to account for sexist ads. After a boycott promoted on Twitter, the Hallmark Channel reversed a decision to exclude advertisements featuring a lesbian couple. Gone are the days when a piece of art could promote stereotypes, demean women or ignore the existence of people of color without a backlash. Professional critics might identify these problems. Twitter users definitely will. They’ll demand better. And many times, they receive it.

It’s not surprising when powerful people resent Twitter, calling the critiques that come from it too negative, too intolerant, too sensitive. Twitter didn’t invent knee-jerk reactions, conflict or polarization, but it did expand the set of voices all of us have to hear.

Like all technological tools, Twitter can be exploited for evil and harnessed for good. Just as the printing press was used to publish content that argued fervently for slavery, it was also used by abolitionists to make the case for manumission. Just as radio and television were used to stir up the fervor of McCarthyism, they were also used to undermine it.

Twitter has fallen short in many ways. But this decade, it helped ordinary people change our world."
sarahjackson  activism  twitter  web  online  2010s  2019  hashtags  blacklivesmatter  metoo  consciousness  voice  politics  policy  organizing  oscarssowhite  communities  community  amplification  attention  socialmedia  race  gender  transgender 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
How Slavery Shaped American Capitalism
"The problem is that the causal channels identified by Desmond don’t really explain the low road on which American capitalism undoubtedly runs. What do the monetary flows between the antebellum North and South, or the technologies developed on slave plantations, have to do with America’s low levels of social protection today? In the end Desmond’s argument comes down to the diffusion and persistence of what he calls (quoting Joshua Rothman) a “culture of speculation unique in its abandon.”

Leaving aside the question of how unique that culture actually was (the 1929 and 2007 financial crises that Desmond attributes to it were after all global crises), it remains a mystery how this culture persisted so long after the abolition of the institution which supposedly gave rise to it. Desmond’s language reflects the murky, even ghostly, character of that persistence: he points to “eerie” analogies between past and present; slavery is described in religious terms as a “national sin” that is “visited upon” later generations; and of course we get that most modern, and most American, of all metaphors for mysterious lineage: “slavery is necessarily imprinted on the DNA of American capitalism.”

But in truth there need be no mystery. For there are straightforward ways that slavery clearly influenced the development of American capitalism — ways that don’t require us to pad the numbers or believe in ghosts. The first and most obvious one is the legacy of anti-black racism that is powerfully described in other contributors to the 1619 Project. That legacy undoubtedly divided the American labor movement, weakened progressive political alliances, and undermined the provision of public goods (see for instance the excellent pieces by Kevin Kruse and Jeneen Interlandi in the same issue of the New York Times Magazine).

There is also a lesser-known but equally clear and durable influence of slavery evidenced in the work of legal and institutional historians that Desmond neglects, such as David Waldstreicher and Robin Einhorn. These historians point out that a major effect of slavery on US economic development came through its foundational influence on America’s legal and political institutions.

One of the central problems faced by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was how to create a common legal and political framework that would unite the slave states of the South with Northern states that were then in the process of abolishing slavery. The slave states were concerned that a strong federal government dominated by Northerners might tax their slaves or even abolish slavery.

The solution the delegates found was two-fold. On the one hand they ensured that the South was disproportionately represented at the federal level through the three-fifths clause. On the other hand, they reserved the bulk of fiscal and economic policymaking to the states themselves. Thus the constitution effectively restricted federal taxing and regulatory power to international and interstate commerce.

But even here slavery shaped the way that power would be used. Slave states were concerned about federal power to tax slave imports and slave-produced exports, but they also wanted the federal government to enforce their property claims when it came to fugitive slaves who might flee to the free states. The result was a restriction on the federal government’s taxing power (banning export taxes and limiting taxes on slave imports) and a strengthening of its power (vis a vis the states) to enforce property claims in the “fugitive slave clause.”

This division of federal and state power over slave property is not just manifest in now-dormant articles of the constitution dealing with slavery. It imbues all parts of the constitution and arguably lent to the American state system its distinctive form, which combines strong property protections with weak regulatory and fiscal powers (the introduction of a federal income tax in 1913 required a constitutional amendment).

Apologists for this system call it “competitive federalism.” The fugitive slave act and the commerce clause restricted the domestic power of the federal government — the most powerful entity in the state system — to protecting large merchants and enforcing property claims across state lines, i.e., ensuring the mobility of capital. Its powers to tax, spend, and interfere with the interests of the wealthy (e.g., through regulating banks or providing debt relief) were explicitly curtailed. Even the legal scholar Richard Epstein, a libertarian champion of competitive federalism, acknowledges that “it’s quite clear that the cause of limited government was advanced by the institution of slavery.”

In principle the states were left to regulate and tax as they liked, but their practical ability to do so was constrained by federally mandated capital mobility. This created a fiscal and regulatory race to the bottom, as the wealthy could force relatively weak state legislatures to compete for their investments — just as city and state governments prostrate themselves before Amazon and Boeing today. The infamous Dred Scott case was itself a matter of the federal judiciary protecting capital mobility (in that case the right of slave-owners to move through the territories with their slaves) and Robin Einhorn points out that the same principle was at work in later judicial interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment that allowed federal courts to strike down state-level labor regulations.

Einhorn’s point is not that the framers were all proslavery (they were not) nor that they intended to produce a capitalist paradise of unfettered accumulation. Her point is that in making certain concessions to the slave-owners the framers unintentionally generated those conditions. Slave-owners were particularly afraid of allowing democratic control over property because they were literally afraid of their property. They were haunted by the threat of slave insurrections, as well as foreign armies turning their slaves into enemy soldiers through offers of freedom (as the British had recently done). Einhorn concludes that “if property rights have enjoyed unusual sanctity in the United States, it may be because this nation was founded in a political situation in which the owners of one very significant form of property thought their holdings were insecure.”

The resulting balance of strong property protections and weak regulatory and taxing power may or may not have been conducive to economic growth (that’s for economic historians to figure out). But there is no doubt that it helped shift American capitalism onto the low road. In addition to the profound effect of slavery on America’s enduring racial inequality, slavery’s legacy for American capitalism may thus be found more in the structural constraints on US politics than in its direct contributions to the nineteenth-century American economy."
capitalism  history  slavery  us  2019  1619project  johnclegg  nytimes  matthewdesmond  civilwar  constitution  law  economics  race  racism  labor  work  unions  organizing  division  kevinkruse  jeneeninterlandi  davidwaldstricher  robineinhorn  politics  policy  commerce  taxes  taxation  fugitiveslaveact  capitalmobility  fourteenthamendment  abolition  propertyrights  property 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Alec Resnick on Twitter: “OK, via prompt by @vgr, 1 like = 1 opinion about unschooling”
“1. Unschooling’s greatest mistake was situating itself in the negative space of school. It doesn’t have a coherent position on what learning is.

2. Because unschooling is reacting to school’s coercive structures, it has developed an overly naturalistic view of learning that’s about “getting out of the way” which idealizes youth, learning, and often glosses over the complexities of actually learning and working.

3. The future of unschooling is much more likely to be invented in the world of work than the world of school or unschooling. And it probably won’t even be named as education per se for much of its infancy.

4. Mostly we talk about “learning” only to make sense of either (a) doing something inauthentic, or (b) being a novice. At some point, you stop “learning” the guitar and start just getting better. The most radical perspectives abandon treating learning as a distinct activity.

5. The most meaningful part of “unschooling” is the phase people go through in learning to learn and get things done without school-like structures. Understanding why we go through that phase has much more to do with psychology than education and is woefully under-explored.

6. Education won’t see meaningful reform until the time and money associated with schooling is made available for invention and experimentation. Unschooling, as long as it remains an “exit” strategy (in the AO Hirschman) sense, will never be instrumental to this.

7. One’s opinion about the relative decomposition of the premia which formal education earns people into human, network, and social/cultural capital is a far more important term in the mid-term future of school, learning, and unschooling than anyone’s pedagogy.

8. Education is a prematurely professionalized sector. Basic standards of rigor, consistency, shared vocabulary, and similar which other professions take for granted don’t yet exist. Unschooling has inherited and amplified this hubris as a reactionary position and community.

9. Human development is slow. Experimentation requires longer time horizons than most investment vehicles permit. To a first approximation, you can probably ignore research or reform efforts which don’t have built into their structure deep acknowledgment of this.

10. By framing its superiority in terms of rights, humane-ness, and ethics (as opposed to, e.g., efficacy), unschooling opts for the losing side of the political economy in conversations about the future of learning. This is a harsh critique of both unschooling and education.

11. Unschooling hand-waves at the reasons school exists (e.g. “industrial revolution factory model”), but has failed to develop a coherent analysis of school’s robustness to change and staying power. “What’s adaptive about school for whom?” is an underappreciated question.

12. School [and un-schooling] have much more to learn from kindergarten and the world of work than either appreciate.

13. It is a deep and important question why, for the most part, graduates from graduate schools of education (having nominally studied how people learn and grow), are not some of the most highly paid and sought after designers/managers in fields where knowledge work dominates.

14. A basic incoherence in discussions of unschooling, learning, and education, is that [mostly] people treat learning as a domain-independent activity. Domain specificity of methods’ relevance/efficacy is ignored because of the political functions of discourse around learning.

15. The set of things people worry about learning is ~arbitrary, a minute sliver of what’s out there. The process of identifying, creating curricula for, and developing educators to support learning a topic is so slow so as to make content-first reformers largely irrelevant.

16. Most discussions of learning wildly overindex on “fit” of topic-defined interest. Learning and motivation are driven by the social and cultural contexts in which people find themselves.

17. When given the chance to focus on “cognitive” or “affective” factors in someone’s learning, returns are almost always higher emphasizing the affective. We don’t yet have fundamental explanations for this, but it is a fact largely ignored by unschoolers and schoolers alike.

18. At most conferences, you hear about new ideas and new work. Unschooling/alt-ed conferences are much more similar to a political caucus coming together around values. Whether this is cause or effect, the intellectual stagnation has yet to even be identified by the sector.

19. Unschooling [and school] has never really grappled with the reality that choice amongst “education options” is better understood as choice among “insurance products” than “investment products”. i.e. it is about raising the floor to which you can fall.

20. The timescale required to capture the long-term returns of human capital development mean that for all intents and purposes, only governments, churches, universities, and visionary billionaires will be in a position to meaningfully experiment with new K12 institutions.

21. Much of the work of unschooling has as little to do with school and learning as remediating an unhealthy relationship to body image has to do with the theory of nutrition.

22. One of the greatest unrecognized reform strategies is to leverage new, salient skills (e.g. programming) to create cover for new pedagogy. Doing this in K12 requires inventive, intellectual work connecting these skills to all the disciplines for which school is responsible.

23. Dewey, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, etc.—the extent to which these have succeeded or not has ~nothing to do with their pedagogical efficacy. It is a political/financial/cultural fact. Efforts which do not have a historical analysis and story about this are unserious.

24. One of the most important [false] things you learn in school is that you learn by being taught. In unschooling, many people never unlearn this, instead substituting other classes or courses for the classroom that’s now gone.

25. Many explain away counterfactuals about people who drop out/unschool/homeschool by pointing to privilege. This is a fascinating datum. If it were an honest point, then educators would be interested in the pedagogical and managerial insights of the upper-middle class family.

26. There are approximately as many people homeschooled as there are in charter schools. “Charter school” is a design and governance mechanism. As is “homeschooling”. Talking about them as though they are pedagogies—e.g. “Does homeschooling work?”—is pure confusion.

27. Just as corporations have offered us new [often dark] visions of what the next nation states look like, so too will the first entities to figure out how to leverage tools like income share agreements to securitize human capital offer us new [maybe dark] visions of cities.

28. The bias to emphasize the cognitive in education leads people to vastly overestimate the power of remote technologies and experiences to transform learning. If it is fundamentally social, much of it will be fundamentally local.

29. To the extent unschooling recognizes learning is a slow, social, high-touch, and therefore local process it has one up on every company tackling this space which aims to be the first in history to create a large-scale, high-touch organization anyone wants to join.

30. One of the most valuable skills those who unschool and support others who unschool develop is the ability to introduce people to a map of an intellectual territory without confusing exposure for attempted mastery. Formal education could learn a great deal from this.

31. The most important ratio in the future of learning is the relative balance of dollars and minutes which go into (a) investigating how school works and could be improved, (b) investigating how “non-traditional” learning works, & (c) inventing new tools/approaches.

32. Pick any organizational unit (company, lab group, whatever). The first 100h of activity on-boarding a junior colleague to that group likely represents 1000h (8–10m full-time) of rigorous activity for a young person. Unschooling should focus on organizing access to this.

33. One of the cleverest sleights of hand—whose provenance I’m still mystified by—is that we discuss learning’s future in terms of methods instead of entrants/products. Learning is one of the most “execution-dependent” and “recipe-resistant” activities I can imagine.

34. Once you assume the moniker of “alternative”, you’ve lost the whole ball game.

35. Unschooling is really a battle against legibility. Competing with school will mostly be about subverting or competing with its measures of legibility. School’s measures are far less meaningful than most will admit. In whose interest is it to improve them?

36. To the extent that unschooling (and school reform) must confront legibility, as work product becomes increasingly structured and digitized (e.g. Figma, GitHub, etc.) there is a growing opportunity to leverage passive process artifacts for analysis and evaluation.

37. Conversely, most attempts to leverage portfolios or similar dramatically underestimate the sensing bandwidth constraints they’re up against. Last I checked, MIT spends an average of eleven (11) minutes evaluating a candidate.

38. Unschooling rightly recognizes an opportunity to unbundle (often leveraging online and community resources). Its efficacy requires knowing youth well (which dramatically increases CAC). No one knows whether, including that, there’s any value to be unlocked by unbundling.

39. Many undertake alternative educational arrangements/endeavors prompted by their own children. Though an authentic motive, it is not durable: Starting and growing the organization will outlive your kid’s needs.

40. A core challenge in organizing for educational change (in unschooling and elsewhere) is that your constituency (youth and families) are definitionally … [more]
unschooling  alecresnick  education  learning  deschooling  legibility  credentials  charterschools  howwelearn  pedagogy  howweteach  schools  schooling  society  work  chezpaniesse  local  alicewatters  learningecologies  environment  rahcelcarson  resources  tools  organization  organizing  montessori  reggioemilia  portfolios  formal  informal  informallearning  mastery  labor  homeschool  waldorf  johndewey  history  psychology  humandevelopment  skills  coercion  alternative  altedu  greatbooks  networks  networking  class  canon  classism  inequality  universalbasicincome  ubi  constraints  economics  race  institutions  flexibility  disciplines  specialization  exposure  edg  srg  mitmedialab  ledialab  xeroxparc  access  identity  opportunity  edtech  branding  culture  culturalcapital  rent-seeking  bureaucracy  sudburyschools  sudburyvalleyschools  reality  social  technocrats  publicschools  publicgood  apprenticeships  mentoring 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Candidates: Bernie Sanders - The New York Times
“We spoke with the Vermont senator about his journey from the fringes of American politics to the forefront — and the ideas that shaped him along the way.”



“In Part 2 of our series on pivotal moments in the lives of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, we spoke with Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and democratic socialist. Mr. Sanders reflected on his education in politics and how he galvanized grass-roots support to evolve from outraged outsider to mainstream candidate with little shift in his message.

Four key moments from our interview with the senator

His arrival in Vermont and early involvement with the Liberty Union

Although Mr. Sanders is best-known for his association with Vermont, the schoolhouse for his early career in politics, he spent his childhood in a rent-controlled apartment in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. “Sensitivity to class was embedded in me then quite deeply,” Mr. Sanders has said of this time.

The factors that took him from Brooklyn to Vermont reflect an insistence on revolution that has colored his career.

Born to Polish immigrants and raised in precarious financial circumstances, Mr. Sanders had early inclinations toward socialism that were cemented with the death of his mother. Caring for her during his college years exposed him intimately to gaps in the American health care system.

Mr. Sanders went in search of a place that could nurture his nascent political ideology, visiting a socialist kibbutz in Israel and ultimately landing with the peaceniks of rural Vermont.

“I was doing some writing. I was banging nails, doing a little bit of carpentry work,” Mr. Sanders said of this time. He freelanced for an alternative newspaper, The Vermont Freeman, writing articles like “The Revolution Is Life Versus Death” while making film strips about a socialist he admired: Eugene Debs. Mr. Debs was the “Socialist Party candidate for president six times,” Mr. Sanders noted. “You know, somebody I admired a whole lot.”

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Debs have something in common: resilience in the face of political failure. In Vermont, Mr. Sanders became involved with a fringe political party, the Liberty Union, that sought to champion industrial nationalization and opposition to the Vietnam War. Mr. Sanders ran as a Liberty Union candidate in four state elections, receiving less than 5 percent of the vote each time.

His promise to address wealth inequality and his condemnation of billionaires began to resonate with working-class people upstate. Soon, he had his eyes fixed on the 1981 race for mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city.

Winning his first election — by 10 votes

“You would literally not believe if I told you how little we knew about politics,” Mr. Sanders said of his first race for mayor.

“I mean real politics,” he said. “It’s one thing to run for statewide office knowing you’re not going to win and get on a radio show and talk about issues, which I could do. But the nitty-gritty of politics, you know.”

Mr. Sanders’s strategy was to mobilize grass-roots support in the working-class districts of Burlington — specifically people in “low-income housing projects where people were getting a raw deal from the city,” he said.

In doing so, Mr. Sanders generated a higher turnout than most mayoral races commanded. After a recount, Mr. Sanders won by 10 votes, beating a 10-year incumbent and roiling establishment politicians in the city.

“Lessons of this moment is that winning politics is grass-roots politics.” Mr. Sanders said “that winning politics is developing coalitions of working people, of low-income people, of women, of environmentalists.”

A parallel city government

Mr. Sanders faced the limits of his political outrage during his first term as mayor, which became an education in coalition building. He was viewed by the Board of Aldermen, Burlington’s version of a city council, as “an accident that should never have happened,” he said.

“Bernie Sanders is a fluke,” he said. “That was the word they used.”

Mr. Sanders had to figure out how to accomplish his agenda despite opposition from Democrats and Republicans. After the board fired his secretary, Mr. Sanders got the message that his appointees would not be welcome in the city government. “It was a brutal year,” he said. “So what we had to do was literally form a parallel city government.”

He gathered volunteers to staff his informal team of unpaid appointees. They started “neighborhood planning associations,” allocating city funds to neighborhood councils to spend at their discretion. In doing so, they cultivated a widespread sense of antagonism toward the board.

By knocking doors in a freezing Burlington winter, Mr. Sanders nearly doubled voter turnout in the board election the coming year. Turnout “was just off the charts,” he said.

Unseating board members in working-class districts gave him the support his agenda needed, enabling his rise as a major political figure in the state.

Going national

Mr. Sanders began to connect his structural grievances with national politics to his constituency — working to convince local voters that the actions of far-off politicians in far-off places should matter to them.

In doing so, he managed to fix Burlington’s pot holes and plow the streets while also establishing relations with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. His rejection of American intervention in Latin America resulted in his controversial support for the Nicaraguan leftist leader Daniel Ortega.

Asked about this stance, Mr. Sanders said he believed at the time that the United States should not be involved with “overthrowing small governments.”

“We were aware that this was a very controversial moment,” he added. “We were also aware that the United States at that time was supporting many governments in Latin America who were much more brutal than Ortega was.”

Mr. Sanders says that his campaign against intervention was relevant to Burlington. “If we were spending a whole lot of money in Washington under Reagan — investing in military spending or we’re giving tax breaks to the rich — that impacted the city of Burlington,” he said.

Today, his insistence that the global affects the local still forms the bedrock of his presidential platform — one that is built on overhauling health care, tax policy and the national budget. He says that if Washington is “spending this money on the military or they’re busy invading another country or whatever they’re doing, we should be speaking up on those issues.”

“All of this,” he said, “has to do with empowering people to understand that in a democracy, they can determine the future.””
berniesanders  history  burlington  vermont  politics  grassroots  coalitions  2020  2019  us  organizing  sandinistas  danielortega  nicaragua  sovietunion  sistercities  integrity  local  national  economics  democracy 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
David Marcus on Twitter: "One could really tell almost the entire history of Midwestern capitalism— from enclosure and monopolization to farmer-labor mobilizations and mixed-economy social democracy to financialization and austerity—through the rise a
“One could really tell almost the entire history of Midwestern capitalism— from enclosure and monopolization to farmer-labor mobilizations and mixed-economy social democracy to financialization and austerity—through the rise and fall of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s public transit [image]

Founded in the 1890s by a real-estate baron seeking to develop his holdings, Twin City Rapid Transit built a massive network of 500 miles of trolley tracks that linked not only Minneapolis and St Paul but also many of the hamlets between the St Croix River and Lake Minnetonka. [image]

The fleet of trolleys included nearly 1000 streetcars as well as snow plows and “streetcar boats” and by early 20th century TCRT was a vast monopoly, making its own cars, laying its own tracks, purchasing rival companies, and becoming one of the city’s largest employers. [image]

As socialists gained influence in the Midwest (for a short time Minneapolis even had a socialist mayor), TCRT workers began organizing with IWW & Nonpartisan League. In 1917, they struck for the right to from a union. The city of St Paul and WWI home guard struck back—brutally [image]

In the years that followed, workers organized their own party—the Farmer-Labor Party—and after the Depression hit, they elected former IWW organizer Floyd Olson governor, Nonpartisan activist William Andersen Minneapolis mayor, and labor editor William Mahoney St. Paul mayor. [image]

With the state and city backing, TCTR workers voted to join the Amalgamated Transit Union and the transit system became a beacon of stability—employing thousands and servicing tens of thousands—in an era wracked by social and economic upheaval.

In the postwar years, as local and national politics moved from labor-centered strains of social democracy to a consumer ones, TCTR fell into the hands of a Wall Street banker who began to call in the company’s dividends, instead of redirecting profits to wages and infrastructure

With automobiles on the rise, and more and more pressure for profit maximization, TCRT sold off its 1000-strong trolley fleet and cemented over its track by the mid-1950s, helping amplify the Twin Cities’s racial and class divisions & eliminating one of the city’s major employers

This is the last active trolley line. It runs for a 1/3 of mile along Lake Harriet. [image]”
davidmarcus  minneapolis  minnesota  stpaul  publictransit  transportation  capitalism  labor  organizing  austerity  financialization  2019  history  socialism 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Solidarity Onboarding by Clarissa Redwine — Kickstarter
"Friends, coworkers, and organizers - together we’re creating an onboarding kit to unite employees in tech. This kit is passed between coworkers as an act of solidarity and a signal that there is room to organize at your company. Tech needs an employee-driven onboarding that strengthens bonds, makes support visible, and inoculates against the tired propaganda playbook companies use to stamp out collective efforts."
clarissaredwine  organizing  labor  tech  technology  solidarity  collectivism  unions  work 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Working Class History – History isn't made by kings and politicians, it is made by us.
“History is not made by the actions of a few rich and powerful individuals, like so much of the history we learn in school. History is made by the combined everyday actions of hundreds of millions of us: women, men, youth, people of colour, migrants, indigenous people, LGBT people, disabled people, workers, older people, the unemployed, housewives – the working class.

It is our struggles which have shaped our world, and any improvement in our conditions has been won by years of often violent conflict and sacrifice.

This project is dedicated to all those who have struggled in the past for a better world, and who continue to do so now. To help record and popularise our grassroots, people’s history, as opposed to the top-down accounts of most history books.

We post On This Day In History content to Facebook and Twitter, have a YouTube channel and are working on a podcast and a website with browsable timelines and maps of all our events. This is a full breakdown of our projects. [https://workingclasshistory.com/projects/ ]”

[See also:
https://www.instagram.com/workingclasshistory/
https://twitter.com/wrkclasshistory
https://soundcloud.com/workingclasshistory
https://www.youtube.com/c/workingclasshistory
https://workingclasshistory.tumblr.com/ ]
history  peopleshistory  labor  work  organizing  workingclass  workingclasshistory 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Revolutionary Left Radio: The Spanish Civil War
“John from Working Class History joins Brett to discuss the Spanish Civil War! This is a long-anticipated episode on a deeply important and relevant historical event. We spent a LOT of time editing and producing this episode, so we hope you find it informative as well as genuinely moving.”

[see also: https://workingclasshistory.com/2018/07/29/spanish-civil-war-podcast/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B5UZsfSj1gv/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B5P0uz1gJg4/ ]
spain  history  spanishcivilwar  tolisten  2018  anarchism  democracy  communism  fascism  marxism  franco  left  leftism  organizing  horizontality  civilwar  revolution  trotskyism  war 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Noel Ignatiev’s Long Fight Against Whiteness | The New Yorker
“In the eighties, the economy began to shift. Automation took root, and plants began laying off workers. Contemplating the large, industrial workforces of prior decades, Ignatiev had been able to imagine workers forming councils, seizing the means of production, and deposing their bosses. But, as factories emptied out, he no longer knew where to look. In his forties, he, too, was laid off. He decided to go back to school. A friend from S.T.O. who had been admitted to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education persuaded the administration to admit Ignatiev, despite the fact that he lacked a bachelor’s degree. Ignatiev enrolled, then transferred to the history department, where he worked toward his doctorate.

Ignatiev was now a student at the most prestigious university in the world. But he still believed in creating literary projects unencumbered by the traditional press and its credentialled demands. In 1993, he and his friend John Garvey, a former New York City cab driver whom he’d met on the radical labor circuit, started Race Traitor, a journal with the motto “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” John Brown, the white man who led a small militia of black men as they raided an arsenal, at Harpers Ferry, in hopes of sparking an armed slave rebellion, became their lodestar—an example of what it might look like to reject one’s whiteness. Ignatiev and Garvey, who is also an editor at Hard Crackers, called for an “abolition of the white race.” This prompted the expected outrage from right-wingers, who heard a call for extinction, but also upset liberals, who saw them as impractical troublemakers.

In 1995, Ignatiev finished the dissertation that would become “How the Irish Became White.” Not long ago, someone asked him why he had written the book. “The country is divided into masters and slaves,” Ignatiev wrote:
A big political problem is that many of the slaves think they are masters, or at least side with the masters at crucial moments—because they think they are white. I wanted to understand why the Irish, coming from conditions about as bad as could be imagined and thrown into low positions when they arrived, came to side with the oppressor rather than with the oppressed. Imagine how history might have been different had the Irish, the unskilled labor force of the north, and the slaves, the unskilled labor force of the South, been unified. I hoped that understanding why that didn’t happen in the past might open up new possibilities next time.

The book was a hit, by academic standards. Ignatiev now had a powerful platform. But he was also a decade removed from the steel mills, and he was unsure how much a book could really do. Privately, he questioned the value of his new life in the highest reaches of the academy. His on-campus provocations—which included a 1992 incident in which he called for the removal of a kosher toaster oven in a student dormitory—only caused bewilderment among students and administrators.

By 1998, it was time for him to move on. He accepted a post at Bowdoin College, a small school in Maine that mostly catered to white New England prep schoolers. The first class he taught there was a freshman seminar on the making of race; his most adoring student that semester was me, a naïve, vain eighteen-year-old Korean immigrant from North Carolina who desperately wanted to live outside the confines dictated by his race and his own privilege. Ignatiev, with his stories of working in the steel mills, his scorn for credentialled people, and his unwavering belief that a society free from white supremacy was possible, provided a model of a life worth living. I attended all of his office hours, learned to idolize John Brown, and read everything he put in front of me. In my dorm room and in the cafeteria, I talked excitedly to my confused friends about revolutionary politics and abolishing whiteness. At the end of that year, I dropped out and enrolled in Americorps, in hopes of becoming a radical.

I learned, ultimately, that I didn’t have the strength of his convictions. I could never see a new society in my co-workers or, perhaps more importantly, in myself. Even so, I kept looking for traces of what Ignatiev was talking about. There are moments—observing a seemingly small gesture of kindness between two protesters in St. Paul, or noticing the elegant design of the food halls at Standing Rock—when some great possibility seems to reveal itself. When that happens, I think immediately of Ignatiev and his belief in the revolutionary potential of ordinary Americans.

Acouple of months before he died, I drove up to see Ignatiev at his home, in Connecticut. His illness prevented him from swallowing, but he wanted to cook dinner for me in his back yard, where he had fitted a large wok over a rusty propane ring. “Even though I can’t eat anymore, I still find it relaxing to cook,” he told me. As we chopped up the vegetables in a light rain, we talked about all the things we had discussed in his office—John Brown, labor movements, the need to break away from credentialled society. Just as he would a few weeks later, at Freddy’s Bar, he expressed doubt about whether his work had amounted to anything.

I am not so vain as to believe that Noel’s influence on my life provides proof that his work, in fact, made a difference. If his ideas about whiteness and of “white privilege” became fashionable within the academy, they later took on forms he could barely recognize, and oftentimes, despised. He was bewildered by the rise of a style of identity politics that reified the fictions of race and, through its fixation on diversity in élite spaces, abandoned the working class. And as a lifelong radical he took little solace in the rise of a young, insurgent left drawn to the reformist revolution of Democratic Socialism. These movements, I imagine, must have felt like defeats to Ignatiev. We are very far from the abolition of the white race, and there are very few people who believe that changing the minds of five, much less five hundred thousand people, could potentially revolutionize the world.

And yet, from another perspective, there is no political or literary trend—or President—capable of derailing Ignatiev’s true lifelong project. In his writing, and in Race Traitor and Hard Crackers, Ignatiev demonstrated the transformative power of working-class stories. His radicalism was always tethered to specific people, who, in their own ways, inspired sympathy and a desire for connection. That specificity will always be relevant; it may be especially so at a moment of cynical alienation, when identities have become recitations rather than communities. There is enduring power in the narratives he collected and shared—the stories of people he met as a child, in Philadelphia, or in the plants and mills of Chicago, or in his classrooms. My favorite of these stories is included in the introduction to “How the Irish Became White”:
On one occasion, many years ago, I was sitting on my front step when my neighbor came out of the house next door carrying her small child, whom she placed in her automobile. She turned away from him for a moment, and as she started to close the car door, I saw that the child had put his hand where it would be crushed when the door was closed. I shouted to the woman to stop. She halted in mid-motion, and when she realized what she had almost done, an amazing thing happened: she began laughing, then broke into tears and began hitting the child. It was the most intense and dramatic display of conflicting emotions I have ever beheld. My attitude toward the subjects of this study accommodates stresses similar to those I witnessed in that mother.

Sometimes, while walking around gentrifying Brooklyn, I will see young, white progressives talking to the people whom they are displacing. There’s an officiousness—an almost disingenuous toadying—to these interactions that I, with my modern, fashionable prejudices, find a bit funny and gross. Do they believe that the contradictions between their stated politics and their actual lives can be cleansed through ritualistic bonhomie? Or are they just saying an extended goodbye to their temporary neighbors? Ignatiev might have looked at those same conversations and seen people who desperately wanted to be saved from their whiteness. He might have walked by, with a generosity of spirit that I do not possess, and dropped a few leaflets at their feet, filled with enthusiastic, optimistic provocations, and unreasonable demands.”
jaycaspiankang  2019  noelignatiev  irish  history  race  racism  whiteness  marxism  socialconstructions  society  class  radicalism  us  clrjames  work  labor  privilege  whiteprivilege  behavior  expectations  falsehoods  kingsleyclarke  affirmativeaction  sto  johnbrown  johngarvey  credentials  convictions  kindness  democraticsocialism  abolition  abolitionism  organizing  workingclass  cv  classwarfare  radicals  unschooling  deschooling  labormovements  connection  sympathy  alienation 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Left is the New Right, or Why Marx Matters - CounterPunch.org
“The American obsession with electoral politics is odd in that ‘the people’ have so little say in electoral outcomes and that the outcomes only dance around the edges of most people’s lives. It isn’t so much that the actions of elected leaders are inconsequential as that other factors— economic, historical, structural and institutional, do more to determine ‘politics.’ To use an agrarian metaphor, it’s as if the miller was put forward as determining the harvest.

The American left has had an outsider role in this politics from the inception of the nation as a capitalist oligarchy to the improbable cobbling together of the idea that popular democracy can exist alongside concentrated wealth. If the powers that be wanted popular democracy, they could stop impeding its creation. The ‘first mover’ advantage, that once gained, power is used to close the door behind it, has be understood for centuries in the realms of commerce and politics.

As was probably the intent, the 2016 presidential outcome was used by the more persistent powers to divide the American left. The neoliberal left moved to a reflexive nationalism tied through class interests to state-corporatism in defense of the realm. Carnival barker Trump, an American political archetype for at least two centuries, was portrayed as a traitor to capitalist democracy— from the left. Emptied of analytical content, left affiliation was made a ‘brand.’

In more constructive terms, Bernie Sanders reached into red state territory to facilitate a class-based left political response to the failures of capitalism by promoting social welfare programs with historical precedent in the New Deal. Tied to an analytically sophisticated effort to shift power down and across political and economic hierarchies, something akin to popular democracy is in the process of confronting its long-mythologized ghost.

[image]

Graph: It is hardly incidental that as wealth has been concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, its power to affect political outcomes has been codified through official determinations like Citizens United. While the domination of politics by concentrated wealth may seem new, it ties to the conception of the U.S. as a capitalist oligarchy where rich, white, slavers determined political outcomes. The Senate, the U.S. ‘House of Lords,’ wasn’t popularly elected until the twentieth century. Source: inequality.org.

Part of the challenge of addressing this politics comes through dubious parsing of ‘the political’ from its objects. If an agent of the government tells people when to wake, what to wear, what they can and can’t say and what to spend their time doing, that is authoritarian. When an employer determines these, it is considered ‘free choice.’ In the neoliberal frame, economics is only political to the extent that elected leaders promote specific economic policies.

Even with the realization of late that money determines political outcomes, the distribution of income and wealth is considered economics while the use that these are put to in the political arena is considered politics. The unvirtuous circle of capitalism, where concentrated income and wealth are used to affect political outcomes so as to increase concentrated income and wealth, ties economics to politics through the incompatibility of capitalism with democracy.

Modern electoral politics replaces this relationship of economics to politics with color-coded branding— red or blue, where ‘our guy’ is what is good and true about America. The other party exists to pin ‘our guy’ into a corner that prevents him / her from acting on this goodness. Barack Obama was prevented from enacting his ‘true’ progressive agenda by Republican obstructionists. Donald Trump is being persecuted by deep-state, snowflake, socialists.

Left unaddressed and largely unconsidered has been the persistence of class relations. The rich continue to get richer, the rest of us, not so much. For all of the claims of political dysfunction, when it comes to bailouts and tax cuts, wars and weaponry and policing and surveillance, these opposition parties can be counted on to come together to overcome their differences. Likewise, when it comes to the public interest, partisan differences are put forward to explain why nothing is possible.

[image]

Graph: as illustrated above, in recent decades the greatest gains in the relative wealth of the rich came during the terms of liberal Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Lest this seem— or be framed as, incidental, the liberal Democrat’s support for the mechanism of this enrichment, Wall Street, explains the relationship. In economic terms, Democrats have been the party of the radical right— financialized, neoliberal capitalism, since the inception of neoliberalism in the 1970s. Source: inequality.org.

The unitary direction of this government response in favor of the rich may seem accidental, a byproduct of ‘our system’ of governance. In fact, the defining political ideology of the last half-century has been neoliberalism, defined here as imperialist, state-corporatism, controlled by oligarchs. And contrary to assertions that neoliberalism is a figment of the imagination of the left, its basic tenets were codified in the late 1980s under the term ‘Washington Consensus.’

What the Washington Consensus lays out is the support role that government plays for capitalism. Its tenets are short and highly readable. They provide a blueprint that ties Democratic to Republican political programs since the 1980s. They also tie neoliberalism to the Marxist / Leninist conception of the capitalist state as existing to promote the interests of connected capitalists. Left out, no doubt by accident (not), was / is a theory of class struggle.

When Donald Trump passed tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the rich and corporations, this was the Washington Consensus. When Barack Obama put ‘market mechanisms’ into Obamacare and promoted the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), this was the Washington Consensus. When Bill Clinton tried to privatize Social Security, this was the Washington Consensus. The alleged ‘opposition parties’ have been working together from a single blueprint for governance for four decades.

The intended beneficiary of this unified effort is ‘capitalism,’ conceived as multinational corporations operating with state support to promote a narrowly conceived national interest. An ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) clause was included in NAFTA when Bill Clinton promoted and signed it. An even more intrusive ISDS clause was included in the TPP when Barack Obama promoted it. The intent of these ISDS clauses is to give the prerogative of governance (sovereign power) to corporations.

It is no secret in Washington and outside of it that multinational corporations pay few, if any, taxes. The logic of this is two sided. On the one side, the neoliberal / Washington Consensus premise is that corporations can put the money to better use than government. The other is that the role of government is to support capitalism, not to constrain it. Barack Obama’s consequence-free bailouts of Wall Street, often at the expense of ordinary citizens, possessed an internal logic when considered through this frame.

An historical analog can be found in the relationship of the East India Company to the British empire. The East India Company drew financial, tactical and military support from the British monarchy as its global reach made it a key institution of imperial expansion. Its economic ties gave it a depth and breadth of reach that military occupation alone couldn’t achieve. Centuries later, Mr. Obama made this point when he argued that the TPP was crucial to ‘countering China.’

The rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s was intended to address the alleged failures of the New Deal. By the late 1980s, this new-old ideology had been codified as the Washington Consensus. Its proponents amongst national Democrats morphed into the New Democrats / DLC just as the Soviet Union was coming unwound. The twin ‘failures’ of the New Deal and communism led to the revival of dogmatic capitalism that saw the state as an appendage of capitalist institutions. Bill Clinton was more likely than not sincere when he declared that ‘the era of big government is over.’

The conflation of Democrats with ‘the left’ that first emerged to counter the New Deal in the 1930s, persisted through the 1990s and the 2000s because it was useful to both political parties. Republicans were the party of business while Democrats claimed to be the party of the people. While the New Deal was in place and from a liberal perspective, the Democrats did support a limited conception of the public interest domestically. However, by the time that Bill Clinton entered office, the public interest had been redefined to mean corporate interests.

This tension can be seen more clearly in the fight over NAFTA, which Republicans had been unable to pass before Mr. Clinton entered office. Mr. Clinton was able to use his liberal bona fides— and the fact that he wasn’t a Republican, to bring over just enough Democrats in congress to get NAFTA passed. He went on to divide bourgeois Democrats from the broader Democratic constituency through the use of race and class dog whistles. In this sense, he presaged Donald Trump. The net effect was to successfully divide the Democrat’s constituency by class.

Before Bill Clinton, the anti-NAFTA fight had a clear class component. Organized labor had lined up against the free-trade agenda that was being promoted by Reaganite Republicans. Through his rhetoric of ‘fair’ capitalism and a ‘level playing field,’ Mr. Clinton gave a liberal patina to an utterly retrograde, pre-Great Depression, form of capitalism. With no apparent irony, the Washington Consensus applied a Marxist / Leninist conception of the capitalist state without any pretense of it mitigating capitalist excess.

The clutter of party politics creates … [more]
us  politics  democrats  republicans  marxism  karlmarx  class  capitalism  neoliberalism  2019  roburie  billclinton  barackobama  donaldtrump  oligarchy  ideology  ronaldreagan  canon  labor  organizing  left  nafta  freetrade  inequality  freedom  liberty  washingtonconsensus  1980  1970s  1908s  leninism  excess  recessions  markets  government  tpp 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Chile: arenas movedizas en los cimientos del alumno ejemplar
"La violencia evidencia el agrietamiento del modelo de crecimiento económico más exitoso de la región.

Las estimaciones de crecimiento de la economía de Chile para 2019 realizadas el Ministerio de Hacienda de aquel país prevén un aumento del 2,6 por ciento del Producto Interno Bruto. El dato, sin ser fulgurante (la economía mundial crecería algo más del 3% en el mismo período), contrasta con el crecimiento anémico de la economía brasileña, la contracción argentina, con crisis de deuda, o la crisis presupuestaria que motivó a Ecuador a recurrir al Fondo Monetario Internacional, desatando una rebelión en las calles. La pobreza sigue descendiendo, y la medición que, según su propia canasta, alcanzaba a casi el 40% de la población al regreso de la democracia, hoy es menor al 8%. El salario mínimo es uno de los más altos de Sudamérica y el salario real se mantiene en alza.

Si los números parecieran dar la razón al presidente Piñera en aquello de que "Chile es una isla de estabilidad en una región convulsionada", ¿qué pasó entonces en Chile? ¿cómo es que estos números correlacionan con las protestas masivas y las imágenes de violencia urbana que llegan desde Santiago?

Como dirigente político, Piñera recuerda a Zelig, aquel personaje de Woody Allen capaz de mimetizarse completamente con su entorno. No fue extraño que, rodeado de gobernantes progresistas en toda la región, con Obama al frente de los Estados Unidos, su primera presidencia casi pudiera asimilarse a un quinto gobierno de la Concertación. Quizá, el que hubiera sido si la Democracia Cristiana no se hubiera debilitado tanto en la correlación de fuerzas interna de la coalición de centroizquierda que hegemonizó la primera etapa democrática. Entonces, no parecía extraño verlo pasear sonriente durante los festejos del bicentenario argentino, entre retratos del Salvador Allende y Ernesto Guevara, al lado de Lula, Cristina Fernández y Rafael Correa. Para su segundo gobierno, las cosas habían cambiado.

Del Chile exitoso, que había crecido, en promedio, al 5% anual desde 1990, aparecía otro que pasaba dificultades. El segundo gobierno de Michelle Bachelet pasaba sin pena ni gloria, con la foto de un crecimiento magro y una gestión deslucida, y una agenda de reformas que había descendido en ambición al chocar con los límites de la clase dirigente, política y empresaria, chilena, incluyendo a parte de su propio espacio. Reformas que, aún tímidas, despertaron en el empresariado nacional una reacción feroz en los niveles de inversión, cuyo carácter eminentemente político resalta aún más en la comparación con las empresas multinacionales, acostumbradas a pagar muchos más impuestos que los que exige el Estado chileno. En un contexto de baja de los precios de las materias primas, la combinación resultó irreversible.

Para Zelig, rodeado ahora de gobiernos de derecha y enfrentado a una centro izquierda debilitada y plagada de disconformes en ambos flancos, la promesa era el regreso a "tiempos mejores", que no serían otra cosa que la reversión del "populismo" de la administración anterior, que habría quitado al país de la senda del crecimiento. El regreso de Piñera trajo una contrarreforma tributaria, regresiva, que benefició sobre todo al sector empresario más concentrado, con la esperanza de un boom inversor. En lo discursivo, de las sonrisas intercambiadas con Lula Da Silva, pasó a intentar apadrinar a Jair Bolsonaro, desde el día de su llegada al gobierno.

El modelo chileno contiene tensiones evidentes. La excesiva mercantilización heredada de la dictadura, y solo revertida muy parcialmente por la democracia, de sectores esenciales como la salud, la educación y el sistema previsional dio como resultado un sistema enormemente estratificado, donde la correlación entre clases sociales y calidad de las prestaciones es enormemente elevada, acentuando, en vez de mitigar, las diferencias sociales. El vigoroso crecimiento económico y las urgencias post dictadura ocultaron estas carencias que afloraron nuevamente cuando las carencias cedieron. Las demandas de la población ya no se vinculan con salir de la pobreza, sino con la calidad de vida, el progreso y las expectativas a la altura de los discursos sobre un Chile que prevé, en pocos años más, alcanzar el ingreso por habitante de los países desarrollados más rezagados, como Portugal o Hungría, pero que carece de un Estado Benefactor como el de cualquiera de esos países.

El contrato social del Chile de la recuperación democrática suponía una sociedad civil amansada y una dirigencia política endogámica y estable, percibida como eficiente y honesta, encargada de aportar crecimiento y bienestar. El modelo nunca fue del todo cierto, y las tradiciones de acción directa de la izquierda chilena mantuvieron una presencia relativamente marginal pero notoria, con escenas de enfrentamientos épicos los días de conmemoración del golpe militar del 73.

Durante el primer gobierno de Michelle Bachelet, el esquema comenzó a colapsar. El primer gran conflicto de transporte, con la caótica puesta en marcha del Transantiago (un sistema parecido al Metrobús), dio paso a otros movimientos sociales, contra las Administradoras de Fondos Previsionales privadas, y las magras jubilaciones que percibe la mayoría de los chilenos y, el más significativo, la "rebelión de los pingüinos", el movimiento de estudiantes por la gratuidad educativa, contra el enorme peso de la deuda estudiantil, percibida como una verdadera hipoteca sobre la vida post universitaria.

La red de transporte subterráneo de Santiago es un logro del Estado chileno. Con 140 kilómetros de extensión y 136 estaciones, y una expansión exponencial en las últimas décadas, conecta toda la ciudad de forma rápida y eficiente. Las tarifas, sin embargo, son elevadas. Con un salario mínimo de alrededor de cuatrocientos veinte dólares, el costo del pasaje se ubicaba alrededor de un dólar y, con el aumento de la tarifa técnica, la medida buscaba un aumento de poco más del quince por ciento, en un país donde la inflación interanual se ubica por debajo del 2,5%.

Las protestas sorprendieron a los funcionarios gubernamentales, que reaccionaron con desdén y soberbia. El ministro de transporte sugirió que, para evitar el aumento, las personas salieran a sus trabajos a las siete de la mañana, cuando el costo del pasaje es menor, el Ministro del Interior limitó el problema a una cuestión de seguridad, mientras el presidente calificó a los manifestantes que eludían el pago del boleto como "hordas de delincuentes". La aproximación, entonces, fue puramente policial. Sólo el pésimo manejo político de una crisis que fue escalando a diario durante más de una semana explica las escenas luctuosas del viernes, cuando ardieron edificios y estaciones en Santiago, ante la inexplicable ausencia de los Carabineros, omnipresentes antes para golpear y detener a estudiantes secundarios que se colaban masivamente entre molinetes.

El tardío reconocimiento de la gravedad de la situación y la legitimidad de los reclamos por parte del presidente, con su marcha atrás y llamado al diálogo, contrastaron con medidas que devolvieron la memoria de los tiempos más oscuros de la historia del país. La declaración del Estado de Emergencia, la primera vez que sucede por una causa no natural desde el retorno de la Democracia, y el Toque de Queda en la Región Metropolitana, trajeron a la memoria a un Chile que vivió, en forma ininterrumpida, noches de calles vacías y despliegues militares entre el golpe de 1973 y enero de 1987.

Si los pasos en falso del gobierno de Piñera explican la dimensión coyuntural de la crisis, sus fundamentos más profundos amenazan la solidez del alumno aventajado de la región. Las últimas elecciones mostraron un agrietamiento del sistema político, con expresiones electorales potentes a la izquierda y a la derecha de los representantes tradicionales. Las candidaturas de Beatriz Sánchez, por el Frente Amplio, y el pinochetista José Antonio Kast evidenciaron el cuestionamiento de los consensos post dictatoriales. En las instituciones, escándalos de corrupción inéditos en las cúpulas militares y de carabineros mancharon la confianza de la ciudadanía, y los casos de evasión y perdones impositivos para los más ricos afectaron la confianza en la igualdad ante la ley. Una realidad que la reforma impositiva de Piñera podría agravar, acentuando una desigualdad alta, que venía cayendo en forma lenta pero sostenida.

El "milagro económico chileno", que permitió que el PBI per cápita pase de ser 35% menor al de Argentina a 25% mayor en 25 años, consistió en abrir mercados mientras el Estado mejoraba la infraestructura para favorecer la actividad económica y las exportaciones. Sin embargo, la canasta exportadora de Chile no cambió demasiado en los últimos cincuenta años. La economía sigue bailando al ritmo del precio del cobre y su amplia dotación de recursos naturales.

La buena administración de esos recursos permitió a Chile crecer por encima de una región a la que percibe que dejó atrás, un discurso repetido hasta el hartazgo por su dirigencia. Si se tomaran en serio el espejo en el que dicen mirarse, Chile sigue siendo un país pobre y desigual, y su modelo de crecimiento empieza a mostrar signos de fatiga, justo en el momento en que sus ciudadanos demandan desarrollo."
chile  2019  politics  protest  protests  economics  inequality  organizing  activism  history  neoliberalism  policy  martínschapiro  precarity 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Eleanor Saitta on Twitter: "As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics." / Twitter
“As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics.

There are no large technology companies, only non-state actors currently only partially hostile to the goals of the population whose lives they have captured.

This is not a singular accident of the companies we have, but rather a necessary consequence of the programmability of infrastructure enabling scale to convert into social control and a doctrine of continual growth.

The scale of capital involved has bent the entire industry around it. Working at a small company may let you avoid contributing to the problem directly, but programmable infrastructure gains power and scale via interoperability.

As an engineer, a designer, a recruiter, a management coach, a consultant, the geopolitical goals of singular entities will define your work and its meaning.

When infrastructure metastisizes and becomes malignant toward the societies that host it, even maintenance work on functions critical for social continuity becomes in part capitulation and collaboration.

This problem will continue to accelerate until a new model for programmable infrastructure manages to constrain or fight off this current one, or society is unable to sustain programmability.

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned over the past decade is the degree to which the political intent imbued into infrastrucutral systems maintains its meaning and function over time, even if added layers change the meaning of the conjoined system.

As a worker within these systems, your efforts at work must pay the maintenance penalty for the infrastructural system you sit within; this is balanced by the natural force multiplication of infrastructures of control. Outside work, you don’t have the same tools.

However, even if you work to resist the structural damage of the system you sit inside of, you’re still very likely to see the world from inside the same mental frame — of growth, of control, of “technology” as an end rather than a means.

Even if you can shift your thinking from the mindset of “technology at scale as power over” to “technology as formless servant of a community” — or whatever model you choose — you’ll be stuck with tools that want to create parasitic empires.

I don’t know what the mental model we want is. Some properties seem obvious, though — conviviality, power-to instead of power-over, an inherent orientation toward community, governance blended throughout the stack, a bias toward balance not growth, maintenance-centricity.

The challenges of reimagining our world, our professions, and our systems will consume the rest of our lives on earth; we sit at the culmination of generations of power grabs, and this is only the newest.

On the bright side, there is no larger challenge available, no more interesting and rewarding problem one could work on. This is a future as rich, complex, varied, and broad as any other one you’ve been offered.

And if it fails, well, there will always be another billionaire happy to pay you to help him more efficiently dismantle the society you used to call home.

There are other things we can do even without a new model, though — making the current model of exponential growth and metastic control nonviable is also useful. We need a new vision and a new world, but we also need resistance now.

Refuse to work on dangerous products. Unionize and fight for more control over your own work. Work for regulation that makes user data financially poisonous, that enshrines rights to privacy, self-determination, adversarial interoperability, and repair.

Over the next few decades, we will either learn to collectively manage global systems for the common good, learn to weaponize them for the good of a very small elite, or cease to have a globally-organized civilization.

There is only one fully-connected struggle here, and if we succeed, we will do so in the way we always have — piecemeal, half-assed, squeaking by, more bricolage than grand planning, but profoundly human.

Learn your history, and practice hope. History will teach you how little is novel about our position now, and training the muscle of hope will keep you going through all the dark nights we have to come.“
eleanorsaitta  technology  infrastructure  systems  systemsthinking  systemschange  conviviality  2019  society  power  civilization  governance  unions  organizing  labor  capital  utopia  history  vision  canon  interoperability  time  generations  maintenance  community  control  layering  layers  scale  growth  socialcontrol  deschooling  unschooling  capitulation  geopolitics  politics  policy  local  programmability 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Why Ilhan Omar Is the Optimist in the Room | The Nation
“Instead of drawing the attention toward herself and her agenda, she expands the spotlight to those around her. At her core, she’s still a community organizer, building networks across the microcommunities that make up Minneapolis.”



“She likes to listen. She asks questions. She spends more time passing the microphone than speaking into it. She cares about the details of policy, especially the ways they might affect vulnerable communities. She is a product of inclusive Midwestern politics, not the result of a localized identity politics.”



“Her model of politics as an extension of community organizing helps make people feel empowered to seek transformative change themselves.”



“There was no hierarchy in my home, there was no one really smarter than the next person. We could just interject as kids, and whatever adult was in that space would pause and say, ‘You have something to say? Finish your sentence.’ I think it allowed us to grow and feel internal liberation. And it allowed whoever was the leader, the adult in that room, to feel more secure in whatever decision or thought process they were going through, because it wasn’t solely their own.”



““I have a complete disdain for gatekeepers, and I try to keep them at a distance,” she said, adding that she has developed “a complete disregard” for “talking to the subcommunities as a voting bloc.””



“While she acknowledged that different groups encounter distinct barriers and threats, she insisted that “our core needs as humans” are universal and that universality should govern our politics.”



“She said she’s handling the pressure easily enough. Being Somali, she explained, has given her a thick skin because of her community’s habit of good-natured mockery. “I also grew up in a Somali culture, where we are extremely direct and are trained to not take much offense. I mean, 90 percent of our nicknames are based on our abilities or defects that we might have as humans. Somalis call me ‘half-life’ because I’m so tiny. The natural thing for a Somali person when they see me [is] to say, ‘What is happening to you? Why are you dying?’”

What does worry her, though, is that people who identify with her will feel the blow. “I know that if they say something about Muslims or immigrants or refugees, that there is a refugee or an immigrant or a Muslim person who sees themselves in me and who will take it personally.”

Meanwhile, Omar and her team keep working to find new audiences to educate and experts to elevate. She’s always the “optimist in the room,” she said. “I am the kind of person that really isn’t challenged by any circumstances. I will see an opportunity.””
ilhanomar  politics  organizing  2019  listening  hierarchy  gatekeepers  community  subcommunities  identitypolitics  identity  optimism  change  empowerment  minnesota  midwest  microcommunities  universality  parenting  horizontality  feminism 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Mariame Kaba: Everything Worthwhile Is Done With Other People – Adi magazine
'Eve L. Ewing: Let’s talk more about organizing and activism because I think that that is a really important distinction. I do not identify as an activist. I am very frequently identified as an activist, which I find very puzzling. What do you see as the difference between those things?

Mariame Kaba: I think that people who are activists are folks who are taking action on particular issues that really move them in some specific way, but activism only demands that you personally take on the issue. That means signing petitions. Being on a board of a particular organization that’s doing good in the world.

That way, activist is super broad, and that’s why people call people activists. Your individual action, for example, of writing, can be a form of activism in the sense that it wants to educate people and get them to take action in their own way. You are in that way potentially being activist in your orientation, at least, if not in identity.

Organizers, however, can’t exist solo. Because who the hell are you organizing? You can’t just decide to wake up one morning and be like, “I’m just going to do this shit.” If you’re organizing, other people are counting on you, but more importantly, your actions are accountable to somebody else.

Organizing is both science and art. It is thinking through a vision, a strategy, and then figuring out who your targets are, always being concerned about power, always being concerned about how you’re going to actually build power in order to be able to push your issues, in order to be able to get the target to actually move in the way that you want to.

I have been an organizer for a big part of my life in the sense that I’ve been involved with other people in campaigns to move various things. But sometimes I’m just an activist.

But [in that case] I have no accountability to anybody, and that’s kind of dangerous. Because there are a lot of people doing a lot of shit that nobody can call them on.

Eve L. Ewing: Who is failed when that happens?

Mariame Kaba: I think that the people who are most directly impacted by the things people are doing are failed. Because they should have a say, and be part of the shaping of that thing that is about them. That’s critically important. But I also think that you yourself are failed if what you’re trying to do is do a hard large-scale thing and you don’t have any people.

Eve L. Ewing: Or you’re just trying to do it by yourself.

Mariame Kaba: It’s like, why?! You’re going to burn out. It’s not humanly possible for you to just be your Lone Ranger self out there in the world. Ella Baker’s question, “Who are your people?” when she would meet you is so important. Who are you accountable to in this world? Because that will tell me a lot about who you are.

And how much hubris must we have to think that us individual persons are going to have all the answers for generations worth of harm built by multi-millions of people? It’s like, I’m on a 500-year clock right now. I’m right here knowing that we’ve got a hell of a long time before we’re going to see the end. Right now, all we’re doing is building the conditions that will allow the thing to happen.

Eve L. Ewing: Furthermore, people who came before me have left me things that mean a lot to me that they will never live to see the fruition of. And so therefore it’s unreasonable for me to expect, “I’m going to fix this.” I think one of the biggest things we can do for ourselves is to recognize how, even as oppressed people, we have internalized the narrative of individualism.

Mariame Kaba: Capitalism is what helps us figure out the individualism part. It’s so married together. The itemization of everything into its own little sliver is capitalist. The other thing I learned from my friends, Mia Mingus and Leah Lakshmi and others who are disabled people in the world, is this notion of crip time. Folks who are disabled have to operate in the world in such a different register. That’s what Mia says all the time: the notion that we supposedly are not interdependent on each other can only exist in an ableist world. Because if you have any sort of disability, you desperately need a relationship with other people—you can’t be on your own or you will die. You have to recognize the interdependence, or build interdependence. You don’t have a choice. Crip time means, “We’re just going to get to it when we can.”

Disability justice gives us that real insight. I am not visibly disabled, but I’m chronically ill. Having lupus was a moment for me. The things I felt were super important were actually not that important—a re-frame of my whole entire existence—and I was like, oh, okay. “I can’t do this” meant something.

Eve L. Ewing: I want to circle back to visibility, and who is uplifted and not uplifted in movements. I sense you increasingly choosing visibility in different ways. I saw a picture of you in the New York Times and I was like, “Oh, my goodness.”

Mariame Kaba: I know.

Eve L. Ewing: So, I would love to hear your thoughts around why you generally choose to not be photographed, and some of your other choices around naming yourself, not centering yourself. And then ways in which that is changing, and why?

Mariame Kaba: That’s a really good question because it’s one of my struggle areas internally as a human being.

I grew up with mentors who taught me that the organizer is never up front. I would write things anonymously. I wrote a hell of a curricula, which I see still circulate today, with no attached name to it.

When I was in my 30s, I was doing a big curriculum project with a friend. She’s a white woman. We were finishing this project and I was like, “Oh, I don’t need to put my name on it.” I’m a believer in information access, free information access. I also don’t think my ideas are these original ideas. They belong to a lineage. So I always felt not proprietary.

She said, “It’s interesting to me. As someone who a lot of younger people look up to, younger women of color in particular, and your own interest in history, it’s so interesting to see you erasing yourself from history.”

Eve L. Ewing: She hit you with the “interesting”!

Mariame Kaba: Like daggers. She’s a very good friend of mine. But the fact that a white woman said that to me just messed with me. And did it from a place of real care, you know?

Eve L. Ewing: Yeah. “I just think it’s funny how…”

Mariame Kaba: “I just think it’s funny how you’re willing to erase yourself from history when you’re always recapturing histories of all these black women in your multiple projects, and you’re always talking about how you had to find them in the archives, right? And you’re literally erasing yourself at the moment. Also, it’s interesting that the younger people are seeing you do that.”

I was like, “Oh, wow.”

I took a breath, I thought about it really, really hard, and I was like, “You know what, actually? In part, she’s right.” In part, I still believe in just not centering myself. [But] she’s right in this sense: how are people going to be able to trace the lineage of ideas if I’m writing a whole bunch of things that no one knows I wrote, right?

That began the shift in my life around putting my name on my stuff. They email me from New Zealand and they’re like, “Thank you for putting out this thing. We’re using it.” I also know that the ideas are traveling, and that makes me feel good about that work, and I never got that before. So, that was a gut-check moment for me around being like, “At least put your name on your shit.”"

...

"Eve L. Ewing: When you say litigation focused, you mean specifically around litigating Jon Burge [the Chicago police commander notorious for torturing people into giving false confessions]?

Mariame Kaba: Yeah. Prosecution, jail, and all these cops going to jail. Then, Joey Mogul [a Chicago-based attorney at the People’s Law Office, known for representing victims of police torture] came to me in late 2010 or early 2011 and said, “I hear you. We had these conversations for years, and everybody’s left empty now that Burge [was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice]. The survivors who remain haven’t gotten anything, and the statute of limitations [for torture victims] has run out, and we have no court recourse. It’s got to be political, and also I have evolved on abolition myself.”

It wasn’t a mea culpa; it was just a recognition that we need something else, and what can we do? That’s when art was the offering. We said, let’s ask people for [ideas for] secular memorials, and that reparations ordinance was one of the secular memorials.

All the things people talk about are in the abstract, but it’s not. It is about listening to feelings from our imaginations, right? Art can be uniquely situated for that. That’s why cultural work is an organic part of organizing, even when organizers don’t know it.

Eve L. Ewing: Artists are always there.

Mariame Kaba: They’re there. They’re there as the people to help us think through it. Why does this have to be? It doesn’t have to be like this. You can think of something totally fucking different. Why are you all stuck in the presentist moment? You can dream a future. We need that so desperately in the world.

Eve L. Ewing: Who are your heroes?

Mariame Kaba: God, I have so many touchstones. I believe in touchstones, people who you go back to in particular moments where you need something.

I turn to Baldwin a lot. I read him when I’m feeling a sense of despair over the world that I’m in. I find a sentence that he wrote and it’s like, “Ooh, yes.”

I think about so many of the black communist and socialist women of the first part of the century. If they could go through what they went through, if Marvel Cooke could go through the Red Scare and through being fired by… [more]
mariamekaba  eveewing  prisonabolition  prisons  sociology  knowledge  relationships  organizing  stuggle  activism  restorativejustice  transformativejustive  angeladavis  history  education  community  accountability  ellabaker  capitalism  individualism  mutualaid  miamingus  leahlakshmi  disabilities  diability  visibility  anonymity  information  access  accessibility  erasure  self-erasure  reparations  jails  incarceration  touchstones  heroes  jamesbaldwin  marvelcooke  redscare  idabwells  ruthwilsongilmore  bethrichie  camaralaye  waltwhitman  poetry  colonialism  criminaljustive  police  policeviolence 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Why Greta Thunberg Makes Adults Uncomfortable - The Atlantic
"Though perhaps she is moderate in speech, she can be radical in action. Thunberg’s chosen form of protest—a school strike—is uncommon in the United States, though more popular in Europe. Americans think of school as something that chiefly benefits students, not society; comparing it to a job, where a labor stoppage is a recognized form of protest, is outside our ken. But if you come to see school as part of an intergenerational exchange of welfare—students go to school now, so that in 30 years they can get jobs and pay Social Security taxes—then it aligns well with Thunberg’s overall point, which is that older generations have betrayed young people today by failing to address climate change. This almost economic argument has the virtue of being accurate."

...

"Perhaps that is why adults find her so unnerving. “This child—and she is a child—has been scared and her parents are letting her be controlled by that fear,” writes the right-wing commentator Erick Erickson, who blames her parents for “depriving her of a sound education so she can lecture grownups.” Jonathan Tobin, at The Federalist, worries that the shoe is on the other foot: Thunberg has “forced her parents to adopt a vegan diet” and “bullied her mother to give up her career because it involved air travel.”

These may seem like exaggerated concerns, but Erickson and Tobin are really just engaging in a great American tradition: In this country, even before we greet you, we ask whether you’re being parented wrong.

Other arguments against Thunberg’s rhetoric can and should be made; if she wants to participate as an adult citizen, she should be criticized like one. But in The New York Times, the journalist Christopher Caldwell takes maybe the oddest line of all, claiming that Thunberg’s message is antidemocratic. “Democracy often calls for waiting and seeing. Patience may be democracy’s cardinal virtue,” he wrote. “Climate change is a serious issue. But to say, ‘We can’t wait,’ is to invite a problem just as grave.”

I want to thank Caldwell, because he reminded me of my own childhood. About 20 years ago, I was at a restaurant with my parents, reading a kid’s science magazine below the table. In a small box at the bottom of the page, it mentioned something called the greenhouse effect, caused by cars and factories. The effect could eventually screw up the entire planet’s environment.

My head jolted up. I interrupted my parents’ conversation, which was about something boring, like real-estate prices or which highway to take home.

“Is this real?” I asked, pointing at the magazine.

Oh yeah, definitely, one of them said.

“Is it getting fixed?” I said.

No, no, people don’t really know how to fix it.

And then I remember feeling something constrict in my chest. It was like the adult feeling of learning that a loved one is in danger, of seeing the comfortable world teeter on its axis. There was a problem with the entire planet, and everyone was just allowing it to go on?

In 1999, Caldwell was older than I am now, and the United States had virtually no national climate policy. Since then, I have gone to middle school and high school, graduated from college, moved across the country twice, spent years as a technology reporter, and covered climate change for four years. Since then, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has soared from 364 to 415 parts per million. But since then, the United States still has passed virtually no new national climate policy.

Caldwell is right that patience is a democratic virtue. But sloth is a cardinal sin. Perhaps only the young can tell the difference."
grertathunberg  2019  robinsonmeyer  parenting  school  labor  strikes  organizing  autism  christophercaldwell  democracy  protest  activism  youth  teens  adolescence  patience  sloth  climatechange  policy  us  time  age  ageism  erickerickson  jonathantobin 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Different by Design | Rachel Hawley
"Beyond the realm of electoral politics, design plays an important role in spreading leftist messages and catching the attention of the potentially persuadable. Leftist media, still emerging from the cocoon of the subcultural, is now faced with the challenge of synthesizing their messaging with visual interest—without reverting to the all style, no substance aesthetics of liberalism. Since 2011, Jacobin’s covers and spreads have worked to reclaim the minimalist, kinetic style that big tech has spent the better part of a decade laying claim to, while Current Affairs (as well as this magazine) meets Jacobin’s minimalist elegance with its own brassy opulence and lush illustration. Over on the cesspit that is YouTube, Natalie Wynn of the sometimes controversial ContraPoints channel delivers anti-right-wing diatribes while performing camp extravagance, with high production-value costume, set, and lighting design in the mix.

The challenge for leftist design is to chart a visual course distinct from both the garishness of the right and the empty sleekness of the center.

Some of the more grassroots-level innovations in leftist political design can be found in the orbit of the Democratic Socialists of America, whose membership has grown exponentially since 2015. The DSA embraces its socialist legacy with a black, white, and red color palette. Its iconography—the quintessential red rose, hands clasped in unity or raised in a fist, bread and/or grain (a reference to the iconic 1912 Bread and Roses Strike, during which textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, fought for better wages and overtime pay)—is presented across myriad DIY pamphlets, posters, and booklets, in just as many styles, freeing it from the fuss endemic to a design system like Pete Buttigieg’s.

“It turns branding on its head,” says Pressman. “Whereas usually branding is about a consistency of application and approach, this is about a consistency of intent and spirit.”

But the most revolutionary aspect of the DSA’s design is not so much what appears on the page or poster or screen, but how it came to be there. With the visual assets made widely available across the organization, the brand attributes limited in number and easy to build off of, and the pressure for perfection or strict consistency absent, the realm of design is open to a wider range of perspectives while remaining rooted in the goal of facilitating political action. “People talk about democratizing design tools, and usually they mean making it so that anybody can make a pamphlet or a poster, and that’s great,” says Pressman, “but I think the more interesting part of democratizing design is that participants in political action are themselves designing the stuff that’s being used by those actions and those people.”

Today, many of America’s young leftists are working to bring about a more radical continuation of the New Deal ethos. Should that history serve as any indication, the proliferation of art and design will play a crucial role in the years to come, as we find our footing and grow our ranks. For it is bread we fight for, as the song goes—but we fight for roses, too."
design  elections  dsa  control  graphicdesign  socialism  leftists  jacobin  liberalism  illustration  logos  2020  rachelhawley  elitism  centrism  grassroots  democraticsocialistsofamerica  alexandriaocasio-cortez  organizing  unions  labor  petebuttigieg  2026  hillaryclinton  berniesanders 
september 2019 by robertogreco
The Prospect of an Elizabeth Warren Nomination Should Be Very Worrying | Current Affairs
"“Means-testing” is a critical part of the difference between the two, because in it we see the serious differences between what Sanders and Warren each think the world ought to be like. Sanders believes in a “de-commodified” provision of public goods, where they’re free and you get to use them because you’re a person. Warren believes much more strongly in giving them only to people who satisfy a set of eligibility criteria. Now, defenders of means-testing will argue that it is “progressive”—this is why they say things like “you don’t want to give free college to Donald Trump’s kids.” But you should give free college to them, for the same reason that we give Donald Trump’s kids the same access to free public high schools and free roads and free fire services and free libraries and free parks. They are people, so they get given the basics the same as anyone else. Means-testing introduces a dark new quality to public benefits: You have to qualify, meaning that there will be paperwork, and there will be scrutiny of your finances, and you can’t just have the thing, you have to go through a bureaucratic process. We on the left are fighting for a world in which people do not have to prove that they are poor enough to get to go to the public high school or the public college. They just get to go.

These are going to seem like small things, but they are not. “I dream of a world where student debts are forgiven” and “I dream of a world with substantial debt cancellation dependent on income threshold with a multi-tiered phase-out system” are quite different political rallying cries. One of them is inspiring. One of them sounds like it will involve a nightmarish pile of paperwork. On Warren’s website, I see promises about things like: “Elizabeth’s plan to use market forces to speed the transition to clean energy—without spending a dime of taxpayer money.” My alarm bells go off here. Taxpayer money needs to be spent. Market forces are killing the planet. This is a classic example of using right-wing premises to make a left-wing case, and I do not want another president in love with the market. (Warren is absolutely in love with the market, and says she left the Republican party because it wasn’t committed enough to markets. Not because of, you know, all the racism.) Likewise, when Warren talks about “corruption” as the root of Washington’s problems, I see a huge red flag: Free market libertarians like talking about corruption, because “corruption” means “the wealthy powerful people have too much influence in the government.” Leftists think the problem is not just that the wealthy powerful people have too much influence, but that disproportionate wealth and power exists in the first place. Talk of “corruption” says to rich people: I’ll curb your influence in Washington, but you don’t really need to worry about your fortune or your status.

But one of my biggest fears about Elizabeth Warren is this: I do not know whether she can actually win. I have always thought that Bernie Sanders would be the perfect opponent for Donald Trump, because he neutralizes much of Trump’s appeal. It is difficult for Trump to engage in his usual sleazy attacks against someone who is as relentlessly on-message as Bernie is, and who draws people’s attention over and over back to a series of very simple plans: Medicare for all, Free College, Green New Deal. (Note that while Elizabeth Warren’s plans are abundant, they are often very unfocused. Her website overflows with plans, but she seems reluctant to push the phrase Green New Deal, and it’s not clear which of her endless plans she finds most important.)

I fear running Warren against Trump, because I think Trump will relish running against her. For one thing, she does have a scandal: She spent a very long time fabricating an important detail of her identity, falsely claiming to be Native American. In doing so, she allowed Harvard to pretend it had more faculty of color than it actually did. She tried to defend herself by saying that she was, in fact, Native American, citing a DNA test. This was not just offensive to Native people, but it makes Warren seem untrustworthy: Does she still think she’s Native American? What did she think the DNA test proved? Does she think it was wrong to suggest that both she and her husband were Cherokees and to contribute recipes to a Native cookbook? This may seem trivial, but character matters, and this does not speak well of Warren’s truthfulness. Trump will exploit it endlessly. She will be asked about it again and again, and I have never heard her deal with it well.

I also think Elizabeth Warren’s “wonkish Harvard professor” persona will be easy for Trump to run against. Harvard is a bad brand. People hate it, not unjustly. It will be very easy to make Warren seem like a snob, and Warren’s professorial demeanor will not help. Trump’s whole shtick is anti-elitism, and while Elizabeth Warren may be a strong critic of Wall Street, a Harvard professor is a perfect target for Trump’s pseudo-populism. I do not have confidence that she will counter this effectively. I would be worried about Warren in a race against Trump, and my instinct is that Sanders, Kamala Harris, or Cory Booker would actually do better at appearing “relatable.” How well will Elizabeth Warren do in Michigan and Florida, rather than New York City? This is the question, and I’ve generally been very encouraged by the effectiveness with which Bernie makes his pitches to right-wing audiences at Liberty University and FOX News.

So much prediction at this point is just gut feeling, but there is something that I think we should all find very troubling about a Warren nomination. I have the same feeling I had when Tom Perez was running against Keith Ellison for DNC chair, and we on the left were told that there was “no difference” between the two, because both were Progressives. (Turned out there was indeed a difference.) It was difficult to prove them wrong, but it felt like they were wrong. Now, I’m being told that there is no difference between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. This, too, feels wrong, and I think we will see just how wrong it is if Elizabeth Warren actually wins the nomination and then the presidency. Bernie Sanders poses a threat. (The journalists are rallying behind Warren. The New York Times celebrated Warren meeting the million-donation threshold as a “milestone” but didn’t run a story when Sanders met the same threshold months earlier. Expect endless profiles of Warren as the great Unifier.)

Of course, it isn’t just gut feeling: I think there are things Elizabeth Warren has done that are incredibly troubling, such as her strange comment that Israel is under threat from “demographic realities, births.” (If this isn’t just racist code for “too many Arab babies” then I’m not sure what it means.) In These Times examined Warren’s record on military issues and concluded that “once Warren’s foreign policy record is scrutinized, her status as a progressive champion starts to wither” and even “judged according to the spectrum of today’s Democratic Party, which is skewed so far to the right on war and militarism it does not take much to distinguish oneself, Warren gets an unsatisfactory grade.” Since foreign policy is so much of what a president does, and historically where presidents have had an almost unimpeded power to shape policy, this means: In one of the main realms of presidential power, there is absolutely no reason why a leftist should support Elizabeth Warren.

“Why vote for Sanders when you can have Elizabeth Warren instead?” is the question a Guardian columnist asked in February. I think the left had better have a very good answer to that prepared, and that often times we can sound like we’re splitting hairs when we do dig our heels in for Sanders. But we must dig our heels in. Will Elizabeth Warren try to overthrow Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and remake the Democratic Party entirely? I do not think she will. Will she fight until her very last breath for single-payer healthcare and a Green New Deal? I do not think she will. Will she travel the country as president helping organize labor unions? I do not think she will. Will she shun corporate money and tell the ruling class to go screw itself? Since half the ruling class have been in her law school classroom, and since she has already wavered on taking corporate money, I do not think she will. Will she learn the critical lesson from the Obama years: You don’t open a negotiation with your final offer, but with something ambitious? She has already showed us the answer, by declining to support national rent control. Does she have a lifelong track record of protest and activism? No. Can she be relied upon never to sell us out? I have no idea, but I don’t want to take the risk.

I love watching Elizabeth Warren grill people in the Senate. I love the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She’s quite clearly one of the best people in the government, and I am impressed with many of her plans and much of what she’s accomplished already. But there are many signs that she will prove to be disappointing in the same way Barack Obama was, and will not build the kind of powerful left movement that we so urgently need if we are to begin to actually transform the political and economic system."
nathanrobinson  2019  elizabethwarren  berniesanders  elections  2020  progressive  organizing  barackobama  centrism  neoliberalism  trust  elitism  labor  matthewyglesias  politics  us  socialism  capitalism  compromise  dnc  congress  law  policy  petebuttigieg  kamalaharis  medicareforall  studentdebt 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry’s Lifelong Dissent  | The Nation
“At a time when political conflict runs deep and erects high walls, the Kentucky essayist, novelist, and poet Wendell Berry maintains an arresting mix of admirers. Barack Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal in 2011. The following year, the socialist-feminist writer and editor Sarah Leonard published a friendly interview with him in Dissent. Yet he also gets respectful attention in the pages of The American Conservative and First Things, a right-leaning, traditionalist Christian journal.

More recently, The New Yorker ran an introduction to Berry’s thought distilled from a series of conversations, stretching over several years, with the critic Amanda Petrusich. In these conversations, Berry patiently explains why he doesn’t call himself a socialist or a conservative and recounts the mostly unchanged creed underlying his nearly six decades of writing and activism. Over the years, he has called himself an agrarian, a pacifist, and a Christian—albeit of an eccentric kind. He has written against all forms of violence and destruction—of land, communities, and human beings—and argued that the modern American way of life is a skein of violence. He is an anti-capitalist moralist and a writer of praise for what he admires: the quiet, mostly uncelebrated labor and affection that keep the world whole and might still redeem it. He is also an acerbic critic of what he dislikes, particularly modern individualism, and his emphasis on family and marriage and his ambivalence toward abortion mark him as an outsider to the left.

Berry’s writing is hard to imagine separated from his life as a farmer in a determinedly traditional style, who works the land where his family has lived for many generations using draft horses and hand labor instead of tractors and mechanical harvesters. But the life, like the ideas, crisscrosses worlds without belonging neatly to any of them. Born in 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky, Berry was but the son of a prominent local lawyer and farmer. He spent much of his childhood in the company of people from an older generation who worked the soil: his grandfather, a landowner, and the laborers who worked the family land. His early adulthood was relatively cosmopolitan. After graduating from the University of Kentucky with literary ambitions, he went to Stanford to study under the novelist Wallace Stegner at a time when Ken Kesey, Robert Stone, and Larry McMurtry were also students there. Berry went to Italy and France on a Guggenheim fellowship, then lived in New York, teaching at NYU’s Bronx campus. As he entered his 30s, he returned to Kentucky, setting up a farm in 1965 at Lane’s Landing on the Kentucky River. Although he was a member of the University of Kentucky’s faculty for nearly 20 years over two stints, ending in 1993, his identity has been indelibly that of a writer-farmer dug into his place, someone who has become nationally famous for being local, and developed the image of a timeless sage while joining, sometimes fiercely, in fights against the Vietnam War and the coal industry’s domination of his region.

Now the essays and polemics in which Berry has made his arguments clearest over the last five decades are gathered in two volumes from the Library of America, totaling 1,700 tightly set pages. Seeing his arc in one place highlights both his complexity and his consistency: The voice and preoccupations really do not change, even as the world around him does. But he is also the product of a specific historical moment, the triple disenchantment of liberal white Americans in the 1960s over the country’s racism, militarism, and ecological devastation. In the 50 years since, Berry has sifted and resifted his memory and attachment to the land, looking for resources to support an alternative America—”to affirm,” as he wrote in 1981, “my own life as a thing decent in possibility.” He has concluded that this self-affirmation is not possible in isolation or even on the scale of one’s lifetime, and he has therefore made his writing a vehicle for a reckoning with history and an ethics of social and ecological interdependence.”



“Throughout his work, Berry likes to iron out paradoxes in favor of building a unified vision, but he is himself a bundle of paradoxes, some more generative than others. A defender of community and tradition, he has been an idiosyncratic outsider his whole life, a sharp critic of both the mainstream of power and wealth and the self-styled traditionalists of the religious and cultural right. A stylist with an air of timelessness, he is in essential ways a product of the late 1960s and early ’70s, with their blend of political radicalism and ecological holism. An advocate of the commonplace against aesthetic and academic conceits, he has led his life as a richly memorialized and deeply literary adventure. Like Thoreau, Berry invites dismissive misreading as a sentimentalist, an egotist, or a scold. Like Thoreau, he is interested in the integrity of language, the quality of experience—what are the ways that one can know a place, encounter a terrain?—and above all, the question of how much scrutiny an American life can take.

”All of Berry’s essays serve as documents of the bewildering destruction in which our everyday lives involve us and as a testament to those qualities in people and traditions that resist the destruction. As the economic order becomes more harrying and abstract, a politics of place is emerging in response, much of it a genuine effort to understand the ecological and historical legacies of regions in the ways that Berry has recommended. This politics is present from Durham, North Carolina, where you can study the legacy of tobacco and slavery on the Piedmont soils and stand where locals took down a Confederate statue in a guerrilla action in 2017, to New York City, where activists have built up community land trusts for affordable housing and scientists have reconstructed the deep environmental history of the country’s most densely developed region. But few of the activists and scholars involved in this politics would think of themselves as turning away from the international or the global. They are more likely to see climate change, migration, and technology as stitching together the local and global in ways that must be part of the rebuilding and enriching of community.

The global hypercapitalism that Berry denounces has involved life—human and otherwise—in a world-historical gamble concerning the effects of indefinite growth, innovation, and competition. Most of us are not the gamblers; we are the stakes. He reminds us that this gamble repeats an old pattern of mistakes and crimes: hubris and conquest, the idea that the world is here for human convenience, and the willingness of the powerful to take as much as they can. For most of his life, Berry has written as a kind of elegist, detailing the tragic path that we have taken and recalling other paths now mostly fading. In various ways, young agrarians, socialists, and other radicals now sound his themes, denouncing extractive capitalism and calling for new and renewed ways of honoring work—our own and what the writer Alyssa Battistoni calls the “work of nature.” They also insist on the need to engage political power to shape a future, not just with local work but on national and global scales. They dare to demand what he has tended to relinquish. If these strands of resistance and reconstruction persist, even prevail, Wendell Berry’s lifelong dissent—stubborn, sometimes maddening, not quite like anything else of its era—will deserve a place in our memory.”
wendellberry  2019  jedediahbritton-purdy  dissent  climate  climatechange  agriculture  farming  kentucky  amandapetrusich  activism  writing  christianity  violence  land  communities  community  anticapitalism  individualism  left  humanism  morality  life  living  howwelive  environment  environmentalism  interconnectedness  us  ecology  economics  labor  ronaldreagan  inequality  growth  globalization  finance  financialization  politics  storytelling  mining  stripmining  pacifism  collectivism  collectiveaction  organizing  resistance  mobility  culture  popefrancis  wholeness  morethanhuman  multispecies  amish  localism  skepticism  radicalism  radicals  jedediahpurdy  innovation  competition  hypercapitalism 
september 2019 by robertogreco
The OA Is Really Canceled—Despite the Hard Work of Fans—And Brit Marling Has a Message | E! News
[original text here:
https://twitter.com/britmarling/status/1165013288532332544
https://www.instagram.com/p/B1hKgS9pUZG/ ]

“To the fans of The OA—

We’re humbled, to be honest floored, by the outpouring of support for The OA. We’ve seen beautiful artwork in eulogy from Japan, France, Brazil. We’ve read moving threads and essays. And we’ve watched dozens and dozens of videos of people all over the world performing the movements with what can only be called perfect feeling. One young person from a wheelchair, another young woman standing astride two horses, a mother in her backyard with her two children at her side and an infant strapped to her back. (link in bio to a site with many of these videos someone has thoughtfully compiled)

Your words and images move us deeply. Not because the show must continue, but because for some people its unexpected cancelation begs larger questions about the role of storytelling and its fate inside late capitalism’s push toward consolidation and economies of scale.

The work you’ve made and shared has also just been very heartening inside our increasingly complex and often bleak time. The more news I take in of the world, the more I often feel terrifyingly certain that we are on the brink of moral and ecological collapse. Sometimes I feel paralyzed by the forces we are up against—greed, fear, vanity. And I can’t help but long for someone to rescue us from ourselves—a politician, an outlaw, a tech baron, an angel. Someone who might take our hand, as if taking the hand of an errant toddler, and gently guide us away from the lunatic precipice that the “logic” of profit unguided by the compass of feeling has brought us to.

Of course, my desire to lie in wait for a hero is nothing new. Nor is the anesthetizing comfort that brings. These concepts were birthed and encouraged by centuries of narrative precedent. We’ve been conditioned to wait.

Almost every story we’ve ever watched, read, been told, held sacred is framed in a single structural form: the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is one man with one goal who goes up against increasing obstacles to win his objective and return to his people with the wisdom needed for all to move forward, to “progress.” This story has played out from Homer’s Odyssey in 8th century BC to every reiteration of the Star Wars franchise. It sallies forth lately with anti-heroes like the beloved Tony Soprano (who, even while doing what we all know to be wrong, is still a hero and the perfect one for late capitalism).

I have loved many of these stories and their heroes. I dressed up as She-Ra “princess of power,” He-Man’s bustier-clad, sword-wielding twin sister for more Halloweens then I care to admit. I have played roles in films where I have been the hero holding the gun and it certainly felt better than playing the female victim at the other end of the barrel. So it’s no surprise that as we face what seem to be increasingly insurmountable obstacles, we scan the horizon for the hero who will come for us. According to the stories we tell it will most likely be a hot man. And he will most likely be wearing brightly colored spandex and exceedingly rich.

But the more I think on this, the more it seems bat-shit crazy. No one is coming to the rescue. We have to save each other. Every day, in small and great ways.

So perhaps, at this late hour inside the dire circumstances of climate change and an ever-widening gap between the Haves and Have-Nots, we are hundreds of years overdue new mythologies that reflect this. Stories with modes of power outside violence and domination. Stories with goals for human agency outside conquest and colonization. Stories that illustrate the power of collective protagonism, or do away with protagonism entirely to illustrate how real, lasting change often occurs—ordinary people, often outsiders, often marginalized—anonymously organizing, working together, achieving small feats one day at a time that eventually form movement.

Steve, BBA, Buck, Jesse, French, Homer, Hap and OA are no longer authoring the story. Neither are Zal or I. You all are. You are standing on street corners in the hot sun in protest. You are meeting new people in strange recesses online and sharing stories about loss and renewal that you never thought you’d tell anyone. You are learning choreography and moving in ways you haven’t dared moved before. All of it is uncomfortable. All of it is agitation. All of it is worth something.

Many of you have expressed your gratitude for this story and for Zal and I and everyone who worked on The OA. But it is all of us who are grateful to you. You’ve broken the mold of storytelling. You’re building something far more beautiful than we did because it’s in real time in real life with real people. It’s rhizomatic—constantly redefining the collective aim as it grows. It’s elliptical—it has no beginning and no real end. And it certainly has no single hero. The show doesn’t need to continue for this feeling to.

The other day Zal and I pulled over to offer a bottle of water and food to a young woman who has been protesting the cancelation of the show on a street corning in Hollywood. As we were leaving she said “you know, what I’m really protesting is late capitalism.” And then she said something that I haven’t been able to forget since: “Algorithms aren’t as smart as we are. They cannot account for love.”

Her words. Not mine. And the story keeps going inside them.”

[See also: https://ew.com/tv/2019/08/24/brit-marling-the-oa-cancelation-fan-hunger-strike/ ]
theoa  britmarling  heroes  latecapitalism  capitalism  storytelling  herosjourney  collectivism  protest  love  solidarity  mutualaid  mythology  protagonism  protagonists  collaboration  humanagenct  conquest  colonization  violence  domination  movements  activism  organizing  wisdom  progress  greed  vanity  climatechange  2019  economics  consolidation  economiesofscale  small  decentralization  hierarchy  form  homer  theodyssey  tonysoprano  thesopranos  power  inequality  fear 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | I’m a Black Feminist. I Think Call-Out Culture Is Toxic. - The New York Times
"Today’s call-out culture is so seductive, I often have to resist the overwhelming temptation to clap back at people on social media who get on my nerves. Call-outs happen when people publicly shame each other online, at the office, in classrooms or anywhere humans have beef with one another. But I believe there are better ways of doing social justice work.

Recently, someone lied about me on social media and I decided not to reply. “Never wrestle with a pig,” as George Bernard Shaw said. “You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” And one of the best ways to make a point is to ignore someone begging for attention. Thanks, Michelle Obama, for this timely lesson; most people who read her book “Becoming” probably missed that she subtly threw shade this way.

Call-outs are often louder and more vicious on the internet, amplified by the “clicktivist” culture that provides anonymity for awful behavior. Even incidents that occur in real life, like Barbeque Becky or Permit Patty, can end up as an admonitory meme on social media. Social media offers new ways to be the same old humans by virally exposing what has always been in our hearts, good or bad.

My experiences with call-outs began in the 1970s as a young black feminist activist. I sharply criticized white women for not understanding women of color. I called them out while trying to explain intersectionality and white supremacy. I rarely questioned whether the way I addressed their white privilege was actually counterproductive. They barely understood what it meant to be white women in the system of white supremacy. Was it realistic to expect them to comprehend the experiences of black women?

Fifty years ago, black activists didn’t have the internet, but rather gossip, stubbornness and youthful hubris. We believed we could change the world and that the most powerful people were afraid of us. Efforts like the F.B.I.’s COINTELPRO projects created a lot of discord. Often, the most effective activists were killed or imprisoned, but it nearly always started with discrediting them through a call-out attack.

I, too, have been called out, usually for a prejudice I had against someone, or for using insensitive language that didn’t keep up with rapidly changing conventions. That’s part of everyone’s learning curve but I still felt hurt, embarrassed and defensive. Fortunately, patient elders helped me grow through my discomfort and appreciate that context, intentions and nuances matter. Colleagues helped me understand that I experienced things through my trauma. There was a difference between what I felt was true and what were facts. This ain’t easy and it ain’t over — even as an elder now myself.

But I wonder if contemporary social movements have absorbed the most useful lessons from the past about how to hold each other accountable while doing extremely difficult and risky social justice work. Can we avoid individualizing oppression and not use the movement as our personal therapy space? Thus, even as an incest and hate crime survivor, I have to recognize that not every flirtatious man is a potential rapist, nor every racially challenged white person is a Trump supporter.

We’re a polarized country, divided by white supremacy, patriarchy, racism against immigrants and increasingly vitriolic ways to disrespect one another. Are we evolving or devolving in our ability to handle conflicts? Frankly, I expect people of all political persuasions to call me out — productively and unproductively — for my critique of this culture. It’s not a partisan issue.

The heart of the matter is, there is a much more effective way to build social justice movements. They happen in person, in real life. Of course so many brilliant and effective social justice activists know this already. “People don’t understand that organizing isn’t going online and cussing people out or going to a protest and calling something out,” Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, wrote in “How We Fight White Supremacy,”

For example, when I worked to deprogram incarcerated rapists in the 1970s, I told the story of my own sexual assaults. It opened the floodgates for theirs. They were candid about having raped women, admitted having done it to men or revealed being raped themselves. As part of our work together, they formed Prisoners Against Rape, the country’s first anti-sexual assault program led by men.

I believe #MeToo survivors can more effectively address sexual abuse without resorting to the punishment and exile that mirror the prison industrial complex. Nor should we use social media to rush to judgment in a courtroom composed of clicks. If we do, we run into the paradox Audre Lorde warned us about when she said that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

We can build restorative justice processes to hold the stories of the accusers and the accused, and work together to ascertain harm and achieve justice without seeing anyone as disposable people and violating their human rights or right to due process. And if feminists were able to listen to convicted rapists in the 1970s, we can seek innovative and restorative methods for accused people today. That also applies to people fighting white supremacy.

On a mountaintop in rural Tennessee in 1992, a group of women whose partners were in the Ku Klux Klan asked me to provide anti-racist training to help keep their children out of the group. All day they called me a “well-spoken colored girl” and inappropriately asked that I sing Negro spirituals. I naïvely thought at the time that all white people were way beyond those types of insulting anachronisms.

Instead of reacting, I responded. I couldn’t let my hurt feelings sabotage my agenda. I listened to how they joined the white supremacist movement. I told them how I felt when I was 8 and my best friend called me “nigger,” the first time I had heard that word. The women and I made progress. I did not receive reports about further outbreaks of racist violence from that area for my remaining years monitoring hate groups.

These types of experiences cause me to wonder whether today’s call-out culture unifies or splinters social justice work, because it’s not advancing us, either with allies or opponents. Similarly problematic is the “cancel culture,” where people attempt to expunge anyone with whom they do not perfectly agree, rather than remain focused on those who profit from discrimination and injustice.

Call-outs are justified to challenge provocateurs who deliberately hurt others, or for powerful people beyond our reach. Effectively criticizing such people is an important tactic for achieving justice. But most public shaming is horizontal and done by those who believe they have greater integrity or more sophisticated analyses. They become the self-appointed guardians of political purity.

Call-outs make people fearful of being targeted. People avoid meaningful conversations when hypervigilant perfectionists point out apparent mistakes, feeding the cannibalistic maw of the cancel culture. Shaming people for when they “woke up” presupposes rigid political standards for acceptable discourse and enlists others to pile on. Sometimes it’s just ruthless hazing.

We can change this culture. Calling-in is simply a call-out done with love. Some corrections can be made privately. Others will necessarily be public, but done with respect. It is not tone policing, protecting white fragility or covering up abuse. It helps avoid the weaponization of suffering that prevents constructive healing.

Calling-in engages in debates with words and actions of healing and restoration, and without the self-indulgence of drama. And we can make productive choices about the terms of the debate: Conflicts about coalition-building, supporting candidates or policies are a routine and desirable feature of a pluralistic democracy.

You may never meet a member of the Klan or actively teach incarcerated people, but everyone can sit down with people they don’t agree with to work toward solutions to common problems.

In 2017, as a college professor in Massachusetts, I accidentally misgendered a student of mine during a lecture. I froze in shame, expecting to be blasted. Instead, my student said, “That’s all right; I misgender myself sometimes.” We need more of this kind of grace."
call-outculture  shame  lorettaross  politics  society  grace  healing  attention  socialmedia  online  conversation  michelleobama  georgebernardshaw  clicktivism  activism  race  gender  feminism  cointelpro  history  prejudice  kkk  accountability  oppression  whitesupremacy  patriarchy  dialogue  culture  socialjustice  violence  restorativejustice  transformativejustice  organizing  punishment  disposability  cancelculture  2019  discrimination  injustice  publicshaming  purity  hazing  policing  tonepolicing  whitefragility  democracy  pluralism 
august 2019 by robertogreco
The Answer To Burn Out At Work Isn’t "Self-Care"—It’s Unionizing | Common Dreams Views
"Being in a union means that you and your coworkers work together to fix the problems at your workplace, and then negotiate for solutions with management."
work  labor  organizing  economics  capitalism  self-care  kaylablado  2019  problemsolving  burnout  nonprofit  nonprofits 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Cybergothic Acid Communism Now • Commune
"To the barricades, through the looking glass.

Once upon a time, way back in 2010, having just read his brilliant book Capitalist Realism, I went to see Mark Fisher speak. I walked in late and he was in the midst of denouncing the one-day strike as a pantomime, a meaningless echo of uprising. (He was right, as he was about so many things.) He moved through the financial crisis, to the soulless thing that neoliberalism had made of the university, to a demand to repoliticize mental health. I sat enthralled, too nervous to go say hello afterward. I wish I had.

Fisher died in 2017, leaving anyone who had read him bereft. I find myself, while reading and rereading, wondering what he would have thought of The Favourite or the new Robyn album; longing for his caustic words on the meltdown of the Theresa May government; wishing he had been here to tear “hopepunk” to shreds; wondering too what he would have made of AOC.

The new k-punk collection, all 824 pages of it, is out now from Repeater Books, gathering a decade and a half of Fisher’s writings on pop culture, politics, and theory. It contains everything from blog comment policies to the unfinished introduction to what would have been his next book. Even a quick skim will remind you that Fisher was a much more audacious, nuanced, and flat-out weird writer and thinker than almost anyone the left can claim these days.

Trying to do justice to a now-gone writer who regularly blew your mind is an impossible task, and yet someone who so regularly took aim at sacred cows — starting a piece with “Orwell is wrong about everything, but especially 1984” — should not become one himself. It’s hard to imagine him having any patience with such treatment, anyway. The combination of humility and raw confidence with which he wrote would prevent, I hope, any enjoyment of sainthood.

The only way to treat him right is to read him with the same eye for ruthless critique that he always brought. The same vitality that makes it impossible to imagine him gone courses through this book, whether he’s writing about the calcification of Glastonbury, the bloodless corpse of New Labour, or the privatization of stress. His long posts often come to abrupt ends; there is no wind-down, everything is full-tilt and then crashes to a halt, winded and satisfied with itself (but never smug, no, Fisher always had the bone-deep understanding that smugness is counterrevolutionary).

Fisher is closest in style to Ellen Willis. Like her, he is a brilliant pop-culture critic as well as political observer and actor whose politics were mostly knife-sharp, but capable like all of us of an odd conservative turn. His insistence on popular media as a terrain of struggle is too rare within a new left struggling for direction; Fisher more than anyone understood that the material conditions that drained the vitality from pop music and art and even TV were the same ones that had sucked the life out of the working class. Instead of the innovation that neoliberalism promised us, we’ve just gotten recycled versions of things we’ve seen a million times before, and all of it under the pretense of anti-elitism, of “giving the people what they want.”

Fisher had no patience for this kind of faux-populist tailing. He had a faith in the creativity of the working class that demanded better for and from it. Change — revolution — would not come from pandering but from the masses understanding their own power in all senses. “[T]here’s nothing ‘elitist’ about assuming intelligence on the part of an audience,” he insisted, returning over and over to a defense of a kind of leftist paternalism. (Paternalism, he knew, was the wrong word, but he didn’t quite land on a better one). “It is about having a wager that there is maybe a desire for the strange in people,” he wrote. “People don’t already know what they want and . . . the things which they really end up most valuing may be things which surprise them.”

Whatever we might call such a position, it’s one Fisher performed well. His love for a song or a film that sparks a feeling is contagious. Within a few pages of beginning the music section in the collection I was pulling up bands I’d forgotten or never known to soundtrack my reading. His hatreds — for Alan Moore, say — are not based in some High Culture snobbery but in a frustration with the mistaking of grimness, perhaps, or some other half-evoked emotion, for depth.

In goth, Fisher saw a subculture that could “teach us that egalitarianism is not hostile to, but relies upon, a will-to-greatness, an unconditional demand for the excellent.” The weirdness of Siouxsie Sioux and other such “painted birds” became, in Fisher’s hands, a feminist desire for bursting the confines of biological reproduction, to speed the destruction of a banal, boring world. It was no accident, he pointed out, that Marx himself was drawn to gothic metaphors for capital: “the living flesh it converts into dead labour is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.”

Derrida’s “hauntology” threads through his work, a curious recapturing of a concept developed as part of an extended critique of Marx. In Fisher’s hands it bears the idea of a lost future, of a mourning for a thing that could have been. It’s fitting in a way for his readers now to be haunted by the things he’ll never write. His blog posts still have an immediacy to them, a tang that we’ve largely lost with the rise of the clickbait-fueled “thinkpiece.” Far be it from me of all people to argue that unpaid blogging led to better writing — this is the opposite of what Fisher himself said, insisting that having some security would allow us to produce better — but the shittiness of most of the hot-take era’s writing feels stark when reading a k-punk post on the page. It makes me long for a world where writing could be a form of play. Instead, the lazy bourgeois art that Fisher so despised has only spread; it deserves the tactical nuke he wanted to send down on Glastonbury.

Capitalist Realism exists as a tight little bomb of a book that no one really has any excuse not to read. But in case anyone hasn’t, the concept threads through the k-punk collection; the idea that we live under the shadow of “there is no alternative,” unable to imagine a better way to organize society, let alone to struggle for one. Such “realism,” Fisher explained, was deeply unreal, particularly as we all live in the shadow of climate catastrophe; the tsk-tsking of the centrist ruling class is death drive posing as maturity, and the power of capitalist realism an expression of class decomposition, the fading of class consciousness. Peering through this gloom, Fisher nonetheless glimpsed some endings. After 2008, he wrote, “Neoliberalism is finished as a project, even if it lurches on, thrashing around like a decorticated terminator.”

We might now be able to imagine the death of capitalism, yet one problem of capitalist realism remains: our inability to imagine what comes next. Instead, the left too often gropes for the past, a trend Fisher despised. He insisted that “we must have the courage not to be nostalgic for this lost Fordist world of boring factory work and a labour movement dominated by male industrial workers.” Even communist nostalgia was impossible: “our desire is for the future.” Following Stuart Hall, he pointed out that the left and the labor movement had been too slow to grasp workers’ desire for something better than forty years of forty-hour weeks on the assembly line. The Thatcherites and their ilk had seized the moment to paint their reorganization of the economy as liberation while too many leftists sung (and still sing) paeans to the factory floor. The urgent need now is for a working-class politics that doesn’t love work.

This is where, I suppose, the Vampire’s Castle comes in. Like everything Fisher wrote, his oft-cited “Exiting the Vampire’s Castle” goes hard, but unlike most of what he wrote, the slippage it makes between the nastiness of Twitter pile-ons and the problems of liberal identity politics does his criticism of either issue no favors. Everyone, as Fisher himself pointed out, “has chauvinistic potentials of one kind or another,” yet in the Vampire’s Castle — his name for the social media war of position often conducted via hyperbolic outrage and exhausting, disingenuous engagement — he assumes that only “identitarians” turn social media into traps constructed from the mutual fear of attack, an assumption immediately disproved with a few clicks on rose-emoji Twitter these days. There is just as much of a hipster’s desire to be part of the in-crowd among today’s new socialists, even if they throw the word “class” around more often.

But even when Fisher is infuriating, he is never dull, which is what makes attempts to claim him for normie social democracy so utterly repellent — said reactionary turn in socialist “thought” these days is above all else boring. Though Fisher wrote of the “the luxury of feeling bored” and its potential for sparking new ideas, he insisted upon respect for the intellectual capacities of the working class, insisted that “anti-intellectualism is a ruling-class reflex.” Yet those who see in the Vampire’s Castle a club to whack so-called “identitarians,” or simply anyone to their left, often wind up claiming precisely the opposite: that working-class people are too stupid to be challenged or to challenge our ideas of race, gender, and the fundamental orderings of the world.

We can find a more generous solution for the slash-and-burn tendencies of the would-be left in Fisher’s writings on mental health — particularly on depression, his own and everyone else’s — and his insistence that the left make political demands around it. The “realism” of depression, which “presents itself as necessary and interminable,” with its “glacial surfaces [that] extend… [more]
markfisher  2019  sarahjaffe  communism  marxism  neoliberalism  counterculture  labor  work  organizing  unions  mentalhealth  socialism  socialdemocracy  democracy  identitarians  socialmedia  politics  policy  culture  society  k-punk  liberation  economics  uk  us  fordism  class  realism  future  imagination  glastonbury  writing  howwewrite  subculture  alanmoore  music  criticism 
july 2019 by robertogreco
David F. Noble: A Wrench in the Gears - 1/8 - YouTube
davidnoble  power  education  progressive  corporatism  highered  highereducation  documentary  rules  schools  schooling  deschooling  unschooling  cv  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  activism  authority  abuse  academia  resistance  canada  us  lobbying  israel  criticalthinking  capitalism  experience  life  living  hierarchy  oppression  collegiality  unions  self-respect  organizing  humanrights  corporatization  luddism  automation  technology  luddites  distancelearning  correspondencecourses  history  creditcards  privacy  criticaltheory  criticalpedagogy  attendance  grades  grading  assessment  experientialeducation  training  knowledge  self  self-directed  self-directedlearning  pedagogy  radicalpedagogy  alienation  authoritarianism  anxiety  instrinsicmotivation  motivation  parenting  relationships  love  canon  defiance  freedom  purpose  compulsory  liberation 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Shit's Totally FUCKED! What Can We Do?: A Mutual Aid Explainer - YouTube
"Freaked out by police? Pissed about ICE? Outraged at gentrification? What should we do? People are overwhelmed, pissed, and scared right now. This video is about how mutual aid projects are a way to plug into helping people and mobilizing for change. Check out the mutual aid toolkit at BigDoorBrigade.com for more inspiration and information about starting mutual aid projects where you live!"
mutualaid  deanspade  activism  2019  explainer  prisonabolition  government  lawenforcement  policy  politics  police  participatory  organizing  organization  democracy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  philanthropy 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Spadework | Issue 34 | n+1
"By the time I started organizing so much that it felt like a full-time job, it was the spring of 2016, and I had plenty of company. Around the country there were high-profile efforts to organize magazines, fast-food places, and nursing homes. Erstwhile Occupiers became involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign and joined the exploding Democratic Socialists of America, whose members receive shabby business cards proclaiming them an “official socialist organizer.” Today’s organizers — not activists, thank you — make clear that they are not black bloc participants brawling with police or hippies plotting a love-in. They are inspired by a tradition of professional revolutionaries, by Lenin’s exhortation that “unless the masses are organized, the proletariat is nothing. Organized — it is everything.” Organizing, in other words, is unembarrassed about power. It recognizes that to wield it you need to persuade untold numbers of people to join a cause, and to begin organizing themselves. Organizing means being in it to win.

But how do you win? Historical materialism holds that crises of capitalism spark revolts, perhaps even revolutions, as witnessed in the eruption of Occupy and Black Lives Matter; uprisings in Spain, Greece, and Egypt; and the British student movement against tuition fees. But there’s no guide for what happens in the long aftermath, as the left has often learned the hard way.

In previous moments of upheaval and promise the left has often turned to Antonio Gramsci, who sought to understand why working-class revolts in Europe following the Russian Revolution had led to fascism. Gramsci concluded that on some level people consent to subservience, even take it for granted, when the order in which they live comes to seem like common sense. Hegemony was subtler than outright coercion, more pervasive, permeating the tempos of daily life.

It was hegemony, Stuart Hall argued in 1983, that was key to understanding the disappointment of his own generation — why Thatcher and the new right had triumphed in remaking common sense after a decade of labor union revolt. Hegemony shaped how people acted when they weren’t thinking about it, what they thought was right and wrong, what they imagined the good life to be. A hegemonic project had to “occupy each and every front” of life, “to insert itself into the pores of the practical consciousness of human beings.” Thatcherism had understood this better than the left. It had “entered the struggle on every single front on which it calculated it could advance itself,” put forth a “theory for every single arena of human life,” from economics to language, morality to culture. The domains the left dismissed as bourgeois were simply the ones where the ruling class was winning. Yet creating hegemony was “difficult work,” Hall reminded us. Never fully settled, “it always has to be won.”"



"The Thatcherite project was since then much advanced, and we had internalized its dictates. For our whole lives we had learned to do school very well; in graduate school we learned to exploit ourselves on weekends and vacations before putting ourselves “on the market.” Many of us still believed in meritocracy, despite learning every day how it was failing us. The worse the conditions of academic life became, the harder everyone worked, and the harder it became to contest them. Plus, we were so lucky to be there — at Yale! Compared to so many grad students, we had it good, and surely jobs were waiting on the other side for us, if for anyone. Who were we to complain? Organizing a union of graduate students at Yale seemed to many like an act of unbearable privilege — a bunch of Ivy League self-styled radicals doing worker cosplay."



"Realizing that it was not enough for people to like me was revelatory. I had to learn to be more comfortable with antagonism and disagreement, with putting a choice in front of people and letting them make it instead of smiling away tension and doing the work myself. I had to expect more from other people. With other organizers, I role-played the conversations I feared most before having them; afterward, I replayed them over and over in my head. I struggled to be different: the version of myself I wanted to be, someone who could move people and bend at least some tiny corner of the universe.

It’s not easy to be the site of a battle for hegemony. It’s not a beatific Whitmanesque “I contain multitudes”; it’s an often painful struggle among your competing selves for dominance. You have one body and twenty-four hours in a day. An organizer asks what you’ll do with them, concretely, now. You may not like your own answer. Your inner Thatcherite will raise its voice. You can’t kill it off entirely; you will almost certainly find that it’s a bigger part of you than you thought. But organizing burrows into the pores of your practical consciousness and asks you to choose the part of yourself that wants something other than common sense. It’s unsettling. It can be alienating. And yet I also often felt I was finally reconciling parts of myself I’d tried to keep separate — what I thought, what I said, what I did. To organize, and to be organized, you have to keep in mind Hall’s lesson: there is no true or false consciousness, no true self that organizing discovers or undoes. You too, Hall reminds us, were made by this world you hope to change. The more distant the world you want to live in is from the world that exists, the more deeply you yourself will feel this disjuncture. “I’m not cut out for this,” people often say when they struggle with organizing. No one is: one isn’t born an organizer, but becomes one."



"The relationality of organizing is maybe the hardest thing to understand before you’ve done it. But it is the most important. This is not because people are governed by emotions instead of reason, though they sometimes are. It’s because the entire problem of collective action is that it’s rational to act collectively where it’s not to act alone. And you build the collective piece by piece.

Organizing relationships can be utopian: at their best, they offer the feminist dream of intimacy outside of romance or family. In the union, I loved people I did not know very well. In meetings I was often overcome with awe and affection at the courage and wisdom of the people there with me. I came to count many of the people I organized with as my dearest friends. When I needed help, there were always people I could call, people who would always pick up the phone, people I could and did talk to about anything. These relationships often served as a source of care and support in a world with too little of those things. But they were not only friendships, and not only emotional ballast. The people I looked to for support would also push me when it was called for, as I would them; that, I knew, was the deal.

Our relationships forged the practical commitments to one another that held the union together. They made us accountable to each other. They were difficult and multifaceted, often frustrating, intensely vulnerable, and potentially transformative but no less prone than any other relationship to carelessness, hurt, and betrayal, and always a lot of work. We were constantly building them and testing their limits, pushing each other harder the closer we got. They had to bear a lot of weight. In more abject moments, I wondered whether they were anything more than instrumental. More often, though, I wondered what was so menacing about usefulness that it threatened to contaminate all else.

The word comrade, Jodi Dean argues, names a political relationship, not a personal one: you are someone’s comrade not because you like them but because you are on the same side of a struggle. Comrades are not neighbors, citizens, or friends; nor are they any kind of family, though you might call them brother or sister. The comrade has no race, gender, or nation. (As one meme goes: “My favorite gender-neutral pronoun is comrade.”) Comrades are not even unique individuals; they are “multiple, replaceable, fungible.” You can be comrades with millions of people you have never met and never will. Your relationship is ultimately with the political project you have in common. To many noncommunists, Dean readily admits, this instrumentalism is “horrifying”: a confirmation that communism means submitting to the Borg. But the sameness of the comrade is a kind of genuine equality.

Being an organizer is like being a comrade in some ways but different in others. The people you organize alongside may be comrades, but the people you are organizing often aren’t; the point of organizing, after all, is to reach beyond the people who are already on your side and win over as many others as you can. So you can’t assume the people you organize share your values; in fact, you should usually assume they don’t. This means that unlike comrades, organizers aren’t interchangeable. It matters who you are. McAlevey’s theory of the organic leader is that people have to be organized by people they know and trust, not by strangers who claim to have the right ideas. The SNCC looked for “strong people” — not necessarily traditional leaders, but people who were respected and trusted among their peers, on the logic that people would only take risky political action alongside people they trusted. When organizers reflect the people they organize, they win: when women of color organize other women of color, a 2007 paper by Kate Bronfenbrenner and Dorian Warren shows, they win almost 90 percent of elections. This cuts both ways: when women and people of color led the organizing in my department, we often struggled to get white men to take us seriously.

Yet the comradely element of organizing can also open up space for building relationships with people beyond those boundaries. It’s not that class and race and gender disappear, transcended by the cause — … [more]
alyssabattistoni  organizing  academia  academics  highereducation  highered  2019  labor  work  unions  thatcherism  reaganism  margartthatcher  communism  ronaldreagan  capitalism  meritocracy  hegemony  stuarthall  busyness  antoniogramsci  comrades  relationships  relationality  utopia  hierarchy  instrumentalism  equality  leadership  politics  class  race  gender  school  schooliness  schooling  transcontextualism  transcontextualization 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Zombie Neoliberalism | Dissent Magazine
"For someone who demands that Democrats return to the questions of class that once supposedly drove the party, Frank has a fraught relationship with the radical left. Perhaps it’s to be expected of someone who cut his political teeth in the decades when the idea of socialism was all but dead. His books are peppered with denigrations of communists past that feel particularly dated in a post–Cold War era where many of today’s Bernie Sanders supporters and new Democratic Socialists of America members scarcely remember the USSR. He often draws equivalencies between left and right, positioning himself, like any good New Dealer, as the compromise keeping the commies at bay—the only reasonable position between two wildly irrational poles. This leads, at times, to a curiously apolitical reading of politics, one that strikes an above-the-fray pose that ignores the realities of struggle.

Frank is sharper when he examines the Democratic establishment. Listen, Liberal is a biting diagnosis of the cult of smartness that has become liberalism’s fatal flaw. Given his own weakness for pretending to float above partisan conflict, the book is a self-critique as much as anything. In previous books he glanced at the failures of liberalism, only to return to pointing out how very bad the right is. When he notes today that “Nothing is more characteristic of the liberal class than its members’ sense of their own elevated goodness,” this is an unsubtle rebuke to his own earlier assumptions.

Criticizing the fetish for smartness within the liberal class (the term that he uses for what others have called the “professional-managerial class”) puts Frank in familiar territory. His skewering of tech-fetishists from the first dot-com era turns into a skillful reading of Obama’s turn toward Silicon Valley (and the fact that so many former Obama staffers have wound up there). The failure of the “knowledge economy” has been a subject of Frank’s since way back. There is, he notes, a difference of degree, not kind, between the Republican obsession with entrepreneurs and business and the “friendly and caring Democratic one, which promises to patch us up with job training and student loans.”

Since Trump’s win, Democratic strategists have doubled down on the idea that victory lies with Frank’s “well-graduated” professional class, the “Panera Breads” or the suburban voters of Chuck Schumer and Ed Rendell’s famed predictions that Democrats would make up any losses with blue-collar voters who defected to Trump by gaining ground in affluent suburbs. The most obvious problem with this strategy is that it does not approach a majority: only a third of the country has a bachelor’s degree, and only 12 percent an advanced degree beyond that. The other, and more significant, problem is that this assumption encourages a belief in meritocracy that is fundamentally anti-egalitarian, fostering contempt for those who haven’t pulled themselves up by their bootstraps—and Republicans already give us far too much of that.

Liberalism’s romance with meritocracy has also fostered an obsession with complexity for its own sake—a love of “wonky” solutions to problems that are somehow the only realistic way to do anything, even though they require a graduate degree in public policy just to comprehend. Politics by experts gives us a politics that only experts can understand. Complexity allows people to make things slightly better while mostly preserving the status quo and appearing to have Done Something Smart.

In Frank’s description of Hillary Clinton we see where all this leads: a feeling of goodness that replaces politics. This isn’t entirely fair, of course—for the millions of Clinton voters (and there were, we should remember, some 3 million more of them than Trump voters), one can assume that at least as many of them were motivated by her actual stated policy goals as Trump voters were by promises of jobs and a wall. Yet Clinton came up short in the key states that lost her the Electoral College as much because poor and working people stayed home than because of any sizable flip of the mythical “White Working Class,” those bitter non-degree-havers of the coastal media’s imagination, to Trump.

Feeling good about voting for Clinton because she was less crass than Trump—the campaign message that the Clinton campaign seemed to settle on—was not enough to inspire a winning majority at the polls. Feelings, Frank would agree, are no substitute for politics.


What is left of liberalism these days, then? Surveying the wreckage of the Democratic Party, one is tempted to answer: not much. On the other hand, the 2016 election (and the 2017 elections in the United Kingdom and France) show us the rise of a current presumed dead for decades. In the wake of the Bernie Sanders campaign, the United States has seen the awakening of socialist politics, breathing life into the kind of class talk that Frank has yearned for his entire career. It is important, then, that we take note of the limitations of longing for a vanished past, that we salvage the lessons from recent history that Frank offers in order to move forward.

Frank’s books presume that a return to the New Deal is the best we can hope for. His frequent invocations of FDR demonstrate the problems with Frank’s take on “culture.” Many New Deal programs, after all, excluded workers who were not white men, and while the best parts of the New Deal have resisted right-wing attempts to take them down, nostalgia for its peak is similar to that which motivates right-wing populism. It is the left’s version of “Make America Great Again.”

The echoes of Kansian arguments have returned to a left grappling with the best way to respond to Trump; some have forthrightly said that pandering to presumably cultural-reactionary Trump voters is necessary, that Democrats should discard “identity liberalism,” in Mark Lilla’s words. In Kansas, Frank wrote, “If basic economic issues are removed from the table . . . only the social issues remain to distinguish the parties.” But this is also true in reverse: when Trump ran to the left on trade, denouncing deals that Hillary Clinton had backed, few people were able to successfully explain why Trump’s racism and sexism made him, still, a bad deal for working people.

Frank demonstrates both liberalism’s promise and its limitations—which are also the limitations of Bernie Sanders and those who, in trying to defend the left against its more disingenuous critics, wind up casting the New Deal–state as the apotheosis of all possible politics rather than as one temporary phase in the class war.

For it is class war that we are in, whether we like it or not, and we will not win it with smartness or with better billionaires. It is a power struggle in which the right will aim to divide and conquer, to mobilize racism and sexism to maintain a hierarchy, and the center will attempt to smooth the roughest edges in order to hold onto its own power or, what’s worse, because it genuinely believes that there is still No Alternative.

“Liberalism,” Frank notes in The Wrecking Crew, “arose out of a long-ago compromise between left-wing social movements and business interests.” In most of his books there is a brief acknowledgment of this kind of struggle—nods to what Kansas refers to as “decades of movement building, of bloody fights between strikers and state militias, of agitating, advocating, and thankless organizing.” We need that kind of fight once again, if we are to hope for things to get better.

John Feltner of Rexnord knew; he joined his union comrades on the picket line even as he was preparing to lose his own factory job. Feltner told me about his time at “union school,” held on the grounds of the great labor leader and five-time Socialist presidential candidate’s home, and how compared to Debs’s day, neither political party spoke to him.

We need to ensure that our politics are not just a welfare-state version of Make America Great Again, a kinder fetishizing of the industrial working class that leaves so-called “social issues” out of the picture. For that hope, we need to turn to the social movements of recent years, to the growth of the Movement for Black Lives and the promise of the Women’s March and particularly the Women’s Strike, to the activists sitting in and disrupting town halls to save healthcare and even improve it, as well as the burgeoning membership of socialist organizations and the rise of Chokwe Antar Lumumba in Jackson, Mississippi. The groundwork is being laid, but as Frank notes, no benevolent leader is going to bring us the change we need.

That is going to be up to all of us."
2017  neoliberalism  sarahjaffe  donaldtrump  thomasfrank  hillaryclinton  meritocracy  smartness  elitism  politics  us  elections  newdeal  economics  workingclass  class  classism  berniesanders  socialism  capitalism  chokweantarlumumba  liberlaism  unions  labor  activism  organizing  chokwelumumba 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Traditions of the future, by Astra Taylor (Le Monde diplomatique - English edition, May 2019)
"If the dead do not exactly have power or rights, per se, they do still have a seat at the table—Thomas Jefferson among them. In ways obvious and subtle, constructive and destructive, the present is constrained and shaped by the decisions of past generations. A vivid example is the American Constitution, in which a small group of men ratified special kinds of promises intended to be perpetual. Sometimes I imagine the Electoral College, which was devised to increase the influence of the southern states in the new union, as the cold grip of plantation owners strangling the current day. Even Jefferson’s beloved Bill of Rights, intended as protections from government overreach, has had corrosive effects. The Second Amendment’s right to bear arms allows those who plundered native land and patrolled for runaway slaves, who saw themselves in the phrase “a well regulated Militia,” to haunt us. Yet plenty of our ancestors also bequeathed us remarkable gifts, the right to free speech, privacy, and public assembly among them.

Some theorists have framed the problematic sway of the deceased over the affairs of the living as an opposition between tradition and progress. The acerbic Christian critic G. K. Chesterton put it this way: “Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.” Social progress, in Chesterton’s account, can thus be seen as a form of disenfranchisement, the deceased being stripped of their suffrage. Over half a century before Chesterton, Karl Marx expressed sublime horror at the persistent presence of political zombies: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”

The most eloquent partisans in this trans-temporal power struggle said their piece at the end of the 18th century. Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine had a furious debate that articulated the dichotomy between past and future, dead and living, tradition and progress. A consummate conservative shaken by the post-revolutionary violence in France, Burke defended the inherited privilege and stability of aristocratic government that radical democrats sought to overthrow: “But one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society.” Any revolution, Burke warned, hazards leaving those who come after “a ruin instead of an habitation” in which men, disconnected from their forerunners, “would become little better than the flies of summer.”

The left-leaning Paine would have none of it. Better to be a buzzing fly than a feudal serf. “Whenever we are planning for posterity we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary,” he quipped. His critique, forcefully expressed in Common Sense and The Rights of Man, was not just an attack on monarchy. Rather, it was addressed to revolutionaries who might exercise undue influence over time by establishing new systems of government. “There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a Parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the ‘end of time,’” he protested.

In his pithy style, Paine popularized a commitment both to revolution and to novelty. “A nation, though continually existing, is continually in the state of renewal and succession. It is never stationary. Every day produces new births, carries minors forward to maturity, and old persons from the stage. In this ever-running flood of generations there is no part superior in authority to another.” Given the onslaught of change, a constitution “must be a novelty, and that which is not a novelty must be defective.” Never one for moderation, Paine advocated a decisive break with tradition, rejecting lessons from the past, castigating those who scoured records of ancient Greece and Rome for models or insights. What could the dead teach the living that could possibly be worth knowing?

Every person, whether or not they have children, exists as both a successor and an ancestor. We are all born into a world we did not make, subject to customs and conditions established by prior generations, and then we leave a legacy for others to inherit. Nothing illustrates this duality more profoundly than the problem of climate change, which calls into question the very future of a habitable planet.

Today, I’d guess that most of us are more able to imagine an environmental apocalypse than a green utopia. Nuclear holocaust, cyber warfare, mass extinction, superbugs, fascism’s return, and artificial intelligence turned against its makers—these conclusions we can see, but our minds struggle to conjure an image of a desirable, credible alternative to such bleak finales, to envision habitation rather than ruin.

This incapacity to see the future takes a variety of forms: young people no longer believe their lives will be better than those of their parents and financial forecasts give credence to their gloomy view; political scientists warn that we are becoming squatters in the wreckage of the not-so-distant liberal-democratic past, coining terms such as dedemocratization and postdemocracy to describe the erosion of democratic institutions and norms alongside an ongoing concentration of economic power. Meanwhile, conservative leaders cheer on democratic regression under the cover of nostalgia—“Make America Great Again,” “Take Our Country Back”—and seek to rewind the clock to an imaginary and exclusive past that never really existed."



"Questions of labor and leisure—of free time—have been central to debates about self-government since peasant citizens flooded the Athenian Pnyx. Plato and Aristotle, unapologetic elitists, were aghast that smiths and shoemakers were permitted to rub shoulders with the Assembly’s wellborn. This offense to hierarchical sensibilities was possible only because commoners were compensated for their attendance. Payments sustained the participation of the poor—that’s what held them up—so they could miss a day’s work over hot flames or at the cobbler’s bench to exercise power on equal footing with would-be oligarchs.

For all their disdain, Plato’s and Aristotle’s conviction that leisure facilitates political participation isn’t wrong. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, radical workers agreed. They organized and fought their bosses for more free time, making substantial inroads until a range of factors, including the cult of consumption and a corporate counterattack, overpowered their efforts. A more sustainable, substantive democracy means resuscitating their campaign. Free time is not just a reprieve from the grindstone; it’s an expansion of freedom and a prerequisite of self-rule.

A reduction of work hours would have salutary ecological effects as well, as environmentalists have noted. A fundamental reevaluation of labor would mean assessing which work is superfluous and which essential; which processes can be automated and which should be done by hand; what activities contribute to our alienation and subjugation and which integrate and nourish us. “The kind of work that we’ll need more of in a climate-stable future is work that’s oriented toward sustaining and improving human life as well as the lives of other species who share our world,” environmental journalist and political theorist Alyssa Battistoni has written. “That means teaching, gardening, cooking, and nursing: work that makes people’s lives better without consuming vast amounts of resources, generating significant carbon emissions, or producing huge amounts of stuff.” The time to experiment with more ecologically conscious, personally fulfilling, and democracy-enhancing modes of valuing labor and leisure is upon us, at precisely the moment that time is running out.

With climate calamity on the near horizon, liberal democracies are in a bind. The dominant economic system constrains our relationship to the future, sacrificing humanity’s well-being and the planet’s resources on the altar of endless growth while enriching and empowering the global 1 percent. Meanwhile, in America, the Constitution exacerbates this dynamic, preserving and even intensifying a system of minority rule and lashing the country’s citizens to an aristocratic past.

The fossil fuel and finance industries, alongside the officials they’ve bought off, will fight to the death to maintain the status quo, but our economic arrangements and political agreements don’t have to function the way they do. Should democratic movements manage to mount a successful challenge to the existing order, indigenous precolonial treaty-making processes provide an example of the sort of wisdom a new, sustainable consensus might contain. The Gdoonaaganinaa, or “Dish with One Spoon” treaty, outlines a relationship between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Nishnaabeg people. The dish symbolizes the shared land on which both groups depend and to which all are responsible; in keeping with the Haudenosaunee Great Law of peace, … [more]
astrataylor  ancesors  climatechange  history  2019  democracy  capitalism  patriarchy  whitesupremacy  borders  power  time  future  change  hannaharendt  ecology  sustainability  globalwarming  interconnected  interconnectedness  indigeneity  indigenous  leannebetasamosakesimpson  leisure  plato  aristotle  philosophy  participation  participatory  organizing  labor  work  marxism  karlmarx  socialism  freetime  longnow  bighere  longhere  bignow  annpettifor  economics  growth  degrowth  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  debt  tradition  gkchesterson  thomaspaine  thomasjefferson  us  governance  government  edmundburke  commonsense  postdemocracy  dedemocratization  institutions  artleisure  leisurearts  self-rule  collectivism  alyssanattistoni  legacy  emissions  carbonemissions  ethics  inheritance  technology  technosolutionism  canon  srg  peterthiel  elonmusk  liberalism  feminism  unions  democraticsocialism  pericles  speed  novelty  consumerism  consumption  obsolescence  capital  inequality 
may 2019 by robertogreco
‘People are finally talking about class’: Astra Taylor on US democracy, socialism and revolution | Film | The Guardian
"Astra Taylor hasn’t always been interested in democracy. “There was this vagueness about the word that just seemed to be not just corruptible but almost inherently corrupt,” says the writer, film-maker and activist. “I was attracted to words like liberation, emancipation, equality, revolution, socialism. Any other word would get my pulse going more than democracy.” For her, democracy was a word imperial America used to sell free markets and push its agenda.

Yet Taylor, a lifelong activist, says that she also always felt there was “a contradiction” inherent in democracy that puzzled her. For all the cynicism the word attracted, she could see there was power in an idea meant to strengthen the people, a power that she explores in her new documentary, What Is Democracy?, and her upcoming book, Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.

In the US, the election of Donald Trump in 2016 sundered the body politic, while that same year, the Brexit referendum split the UK. Trump has used his office to undermine the media, the legal system, the electoral process itself and anyone who questions his will – all while praising dictators and suggesting the US may one day have “a president for life”.

Russia has shown how foreign powers can use technology to hack democracy, the economic success of China’s one-party capitalism has demonstrated a different model, and the seemingly unstoppable rise of the 1% has laid bare how big money skews the system.

The D word really started to grip Taylor while she was writing her previous book, The People’s Platform, a critique of Silicon Valley’s self-interested “utopianism”, published in 2014. “I wanted to look at what a ‘democratic internet’ would look like,” she says. “Not an empty, Silicon Valley-type democracy, but a real one.”

Then there was her work with Occupy. In 2011, New York’s Zuccotti Park, a grim sunken square near Wall Street, became the focal point of a leaderless movement calling for change. Exactly what it wanted or how it would get it never really seemed clear, but the movement swept the US and the world. Occupy protests spread to 951 cities in 82 countries.

Critics were, and still are, cynical about Occupy. History may be kinder. “We are the 99%,” shouted the activists. The 1% had taken the reins of power. That idea has stuck and can be seen in most progressive political campaigns today, down to the eschewing of corporate cash for the small donations that are funding US politicians including Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren.

Taylor also co-founded the Debt Collective, which grew out of Occupy; this buys student and medical debt on the debt markets and forgives it. It has wiped out $1bn (£770m) of debts so far and helped put student debt on the political agenda.

Occupy was “a shitshow – that’s a technical term,” says Taylor. Zuccotti Park was as divided by its constantly percussive drum circle as it was by its politics. “I love democracy more than I hate the drum circle,” read one sign in the park. Many Occupy activists were reluctant to engage with the existing system or even agree to properly define what changes they wanted, she says. There was a failure to translate protest into action. Democracy can’t be a place where “everyone has a voice but no one has any responsibility,” she says.

Taylor’s experience did get her thinking more about democracy. “There was this call for ‘real democracy’. So when you say that then you obviously believe there is ‘fake democracy’.”

In her new film and book, Taylor traces democracy back to its origins in Athens (a patriarchal slave state – we should have seen trouble coming) and then quizzes a diverse group of people, from the academic Cornel West to Syrian refugees and Trump-supporting Florida teens, asking what they now think of the word. The result? It’s not clear what any of us think democracy is or should be, or even if true democracy has ever existed (Taylor thinks not, although she thinks of democracy as a dynamic evolving concept that has yet to be achieved, and is more interested in exploring what the idea means to others than giving her own tight definition). That is Taylor’s aim: to make us think, to ask new questions and hopefully come up with new answers.

She is excited by some of the recent political shifts in the US. “For the first time in my life people are talking about class,” she says. “It’s just ridiculous that this was an unspeakable concept for so long – that is why we are in the predicament we are in.”

She is heartened to see a new generation of politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, talking about “democratic socialism”. The S word was a no-no in US politics for generations, one that had “this sort of dated ring”, Taylor says. Now it is “something new, something that’s never been tried. Something in the future.”

While there has been plenty of bad news for democracy in recent years, there is no doubt that politics is changing. More women, more people of colour, teachers, LGBTQ candidates and people from low-income backgrounds are running for office, and winning. A new generation of activists are interested in union organising and strikes.

“People are thinking about power and how to take it, whereas the previous generation was more ambivalent about it, more anarchistic. Occupy was in that mould. There was a refusal to make demands – to do so was to legitimise the state,” she says.

And now? “You have millennials who are cheering on labour struggles. That’s amazing.”

While Taylor is hopeful change will come, she is wary of the powerful forces ranged against it and the left’s ability to mess it up. Nor does she think a “democratic socialist” future – if it’s even possible – would provide all the answers.

“We don’t live in an infinite world,” she says. Even a more equitable system would have to deal with inequality, not least in a world facing apocalyptic climate change. “To me, democratic socialism would just mean more interesting democratic dilemmas. We would no longer be arguing over whether billionaires should exist or be abolished – they should be abolished – but there are still so many questions,” she says.

Taylor is ready to ask those questions. Hip and lanky, she is the nice cool kid, the one in the band whose books and records you wanted to borrow, and who would let you. On top of her other work, Taylor is a musician who has played with her partner Jeff Mangum’s band, Neutral Milk Hotel. She’s a vegan who lives in Brooklyn (if this wasn’t obvious), and one of those interviewees who asks as many questions as she answers.

Her enquiring nature comes from her childhood. Born in Canada and raised in the other Athens, in the US state of Georgia, Taylor was “unschooled” – meaning she was allowed to learn, or not, when and how she liked and was never forced to go to school. The freedom inspired her. At 16, she enrolled at the University of Georgia, then quit for Brown, the elite Rhode Island university that counts John D Rockefeller Jr, the New York Times publisher AG Sulzberger and the actor Emma Watson among its alumni. She quit Brown too, deciding unschooling was a lifelong commitment.

The idea of unschooling is “built on a quite romantic notion of human nature”, she says. “That human beings are intrinsically good and curious and ambitious. Very Rousseau.”

She doesn’t think this is a good model for everyone. Some people need more structure, more guidance. “It’s almost rebellious of me that so much of my work as an adult activist is focused on public education, free public education,” she laughs.

But she believes in the ideas at the heart of unschooling – continual learning, encouraging curiosity, taking education outside the classroom and the school year and embracing trust. They are models we need now, she says, as we question a concept that many of us take for granted even as we worry about its future.

“For many, many students now education is anti-democratic,” she says. “It’s just a curriculum geared at essentially encouraging them to accept their lot in life.”

The decline in liberal arts and the rise of “practical” degrees in subjects such as pharmacology, nursing and construction management, she says, suggest a society that is tailoring people to the workplace rather than encouraging them to think about the big issues, while saddling them with major debts.

There is a structural reason for this, says Taylor. “I feel pretty pulled when young people ask me what to study, because I think they should study Plato and Rousseau. But not if it’s going to lead them to a lifetime of debt servitude. You can’t help but think of your education as something that needs a return on investment when it’s costing you $35,000 a year.”

Her book and film are an argument for the case that “of all academic disciplines, the one that demands to be democratised is political philosophy, which is basically the asking of the questions: how do we want to live? How should we live? What kind of people should we be? How should we govern ourselves? This is something that increasingly only the elites get to carve out time to think about. That is really a tragedy.”"
astrataylor  class  socialism  capitalism  democracy  2019  corruption  ows  occupywallstreet  activism  studentdebt  film  filmmaking  documentary  unschooling  publiceducation  education  curiosity  freedom  rousseau  plato  philosophy  debt  debtservitude  politics  policy  learning  howwelearn  donaldtrump  organizing  ancientgreece  athens  cornelwest 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Radical Housing Journal
"The first issue of the Radical Housing Journal focuses on practices and theories of organizing as connected to post-2008 housing struggles. As 2008 was the dawn of the subprime mortgage and financial crisis, and as the RHJ coalesced ten years later in its aftermath, we found this framing apropos. The 2008 crisis was, after all, a global event, constitutive of new routes and formations of global capital that in turn impacted cities, suburbs, and rural spaces alike in highly uneven, though often detrimental, ways. Attentive to this, we hoped to think through its globality and translocality by foregrounding “post-2008” as field of inquiry. What new modes of knowledge pertinent to the task of housing justice organizing could be gained by thinking 2008 through an array of geographies, producing new geographies of theory?"
housing  organization  organizing  2008  mortgages  greatrecession  finance  translocality  global  capitalism  cities  urban  urbanism 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Justice in America Episode 20: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition - The Appeal
"On the last episode of Season 2, Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like. Mariame’s way of thinking about this system, and the vision of possibilities she provides, is an excellent send-off to our second season."

[full transcript on page]

"I grew up in New York City and came of age in 1980s. So, um, when I was coming of age in the city, it was kind of the early eighties were a fraught moment for many different kinds of reasons. The tail end of deinstitutionalization. So the first time where we actually started seeing homeless people outside on the streets. Michael Stewart was killed by the police in 1983 which was a very big moment for me. I was 12 years old and that really impacted me. My, um, older siblings were very animated by that fact. Um, crack cocaine is coming into being, this is the time of ACT UP. Um, this is when Reagan comes to power. It was a very tumultuous period and moment of time. So coming of age in that time led me to start organizing for racial justice as a teenager. And I also came of age during the time when there was the Bensonhurst case where a young black man was pursued and then killed by a mob of white young people who were close to my age because he supposedly talked to a white girl in a way that people were not happy about. The Howard Beach incident comes up in 1986. There was a lot happening during my teenagers in the city and I did not have an analysis of the criminal punishment system at that time. I just saw a lot of my friends, I grew up on the Lower East Side, so a lot of my friends ending up in juvie and then in prison and I didn’t, and the cops were always in our neighborhood harassing people and I did not really put all these things together, but I had a frame that was a racial justice frame at a very young age, mainly because of my parents. My mom and my dad. Um, my father, who’d been a socialist in the anti-colonial struggles in Guinea. Like I had a politics at home, but all I understood was like they were coming after black people in multiple different kinds of ways. It wasn’t until I was older and I had come back from college, um, I went to school in Montreal, Canada, came back to the city right after, I was 20 years old when I graduated from college, came back to the city and got a job working in Harlem at the, um, Countee Cullen Library and then ended up teaching in Harlem. And it was there that I found out that all of my students were also getting enmeshed in the criminal punishment system. But I still didn’t have a really, like I didn’t have a politic about it. It wasn’t until a very tragic story that occurred with one of my students who ended up killing another one of my students that I became very clearly aware of the criminal punishment system cause they were going to try to, um, basically try him as an adult. The person who did the killing, he was only 16. And it was that incident that kind of propelled me into trying to learn about what the system was, what it was about. And it concurrently, it was also the time when I started to search for restorative justice because it occurred to me, in watching the family of my student who had been killed react to the situation, that they did not want punishment for the person who killed their daughter. They were, uh, they wanted some accountability and they were also talking about the fact that he did not want him charged as an adult."



"people who are practitioners of restorative justice see restorative justice as a philosophy and ideology, a framework that is much broader than the criminal punishment system. It is about values around how we treat each other in the world. And it’s about an acknowledgement that because we’re human beings, we hurt each other. We cause harm. And what restorative justice proposes is to ask a series of questions. Mostly the three that are kind of advanced by Howard Zehr, who is the person who about 40 years ago popularized the concept of restorative justice in the United States. He talks about since we want to address the violation in the relationships that were broken as a result of violence and harm, that you want to ask a question about who was hurt, that that is important to ask, that you want to ask then what are the obligations? What are the needs that emerge from that hurt? And then you want to ask the question of whose job is it to actually address the harm? And so because of that, those questions of what happened, which in the current adversarial system are incidental really, you know, it’s who did this thing, what rules were broken? How are we going to actually punish the people who broke the rules? And then whose role is it to do that? It’s the state’s. In restorative justice it’s: what happened? Talk about what happened, share what happened, discuss in a, you know, kind of relational sense what happened. And then it’s what are your needs? Would do you need as a result of this? Because harms engender needs that must be met, right? So it asks you to really think that through. And then it says, you know, how do we repair this harm and who needs to be at the table for that to happen. It invites community in. It invites other people who were also harmed because we recognize that the ripples of harm are beyond the two individuals that were involved, it’s also the broader community and the society at large. So that’s what restorative justice, at its base, is really the unit of concern is the broken relationship and the harm. Those are the focus of what we need to be addressing. And through that, that obviously involves the criminal punishment system. In many ways RJ has become co-opted by that system. So people were initially proponents of restorative justice have moved their critique away from using RJ and talking about instead transformative justice. That’s where you see these breakdowns occurring because the system has taken on RJ now as quote unquote “a model for restitution.”"



"Restorative justice and transformative justice, people say they’re interchangeable sometimes, they are not. Because transformative justice people say that you cannot actually use the current punishing institutions that exist. Whereas RJ now is being run in prisons, is being run in schools. Institutions that are themselves violently punishing institutions are now taking that on and running that there. And what people who are advocates of transformative justice say is RJ, because of its focus on the individual, the intervention is on individuals, not the system. And what transformative justice, you know, people, advocates and people who have kind of begun to be practitioners in that have said is we have to also transform the conditions that make this thing possible. And restoring is restoring to what? For many people, the situation that occurred prior to the harm had lots of harm in it. So what are we restoring people to? We have to transform those conditions and in order to do that we have to organize, to shift the structures and the systems and that will also be very important beyond the interpersonal relationships that need to be mended."



"I reject the premise of restorative and transformative justice being alternatives to incarceration. I don’t reject the premise that we should prefigure the world in which we want to live and therefore use multiple different kinds of ways to figure out how to address harm. So here’s what I mean, because people are now saying things like the current criminal punishment system is broken, which it is not. It is actually operating exactly as designed. And that’s what abolition has helped us to understand is that the system is actually relentlessly successful at targeting the people it wants and basically getting the outcomes that wants from that. So if you understand that to be the case, then you are in a position of very much understanding that every time we use the term “alternative to incarceration” what comes to your mind?"



"You’re centering the punishing system. When I say alternative to prison, all you hear is prison. And what that does is that it conditions your imagination to think about the prison as the center. And what we’re saying as transformative and restorative justice practitioners is that the prison is actually an outcome of a broader system of violence and harm that has its roots in slavery and before colonization. And here we are in this position where all you then think about is replacing what we currently use prisons for, for the new thing. So what I mean by that is when you think of an alternative in this moment and you’re thinking about prison, you just think of transposing all of the things we currently consider crimes into that new world."



"It has to fit that sphere. But here’s what I, I would like to say lots of crimes are not harmful to anybody."



"And it’s also that we’re in this position where not all crimes are harms and not all harms are actually crimes. And what we are concerned with as people who practice restorative and transformative justice is harm across the board no matter what. So I always tell people when they say like, ‘oh, we’re having an alternative to incarceration or alternative to prison.’ I’m like, okay, what are you decriminalizing first? Do we have a whole list of things? So possession of drugs is a criminal offense right now. I don’t want an alternative to that. I want you to leave people the hell alone."



"Transformative justice calls on us to shatter binaries of all different types. Most of the people who currently are locked up, for example, in our prisons and jails, are people who are victims of crime first. They’ve been harmed and have harmed other people. The “perpetrator,” quote unquote… [more]
mariamekaba  clintsmith  josieduffyrice  prisonindustrialcomplex  prisions  violence  restorativejustice  justice  prisonabolition  punishment  2019  angeladavis  howardzehr  incarceration  community  humans  transformativejustice  harm  racism  responsibility  repair  people  carceralstate  binaries  accountability  police  lawenforcement  jails  coercion  gender  criminalization  humanism  decency  humanity  transformation  survival  bodies  abolition  abolitionists  nilschristie  ruthiegilmore  fayeknopp  presence  absence  systemsthinking  systems  complexity  capitalism  climatechange  climate  globalwarming  livingwage  education  organization  organizing  activism  change  changemaking  exploitation  dehumanization  optimism 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Joy [Still Processing] - The New York Times
"Inspired by Netflix’s “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” we decide to KonMari Wesley’s Brooklyn apartment. We ask ourselves what sparks joy in our lives and examine whether Marie Kondo’s philosophy extends into the metaphysical realm.

Discussed this week:

“Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” (Netflix, 2019) https://www.netflix.com/title/80209379

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” (Marie Kondo, 2014) https://konmari.com/products/the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up

“The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter” (Margareta Magnusson, 2017) https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Gentle-Art-of-Swedish-Death-Cleaning/Margareta-Magnusson/9781501173240 "
jennawortham  wesleymorris  mariekondo  legacy  2019  impermanence  konmarimethod  death  possessions  materialism  decluttering  mindfulness  scandinavia  clutter  tidying  organizing  sweden  cleaning  meaningmaking  joy  gratitude  life  living  self-awareness 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Finding the Future in Radical Rural America | Boston Review
"It's time to rewrite the narrative of “Trump Country.” Rural places weren't always red, and many are turning increasingly blue."



"Rural spaces are often thought of as places absent of things, from people of color to modern amenities to radical politics. The truth, as usual, is more complicated."



"In West Virginia, what is old is new again: the revival of a labor movement, the fight against extractive capitalism, and the continuation of women’s grassroots leadership."



"Appalachia should not be seen as a liability to the left, a place that time and progress forgot. The past itself is not a negative asset."



"To create solidarity in the present, to make change for the future, West Virginians needed to remember their radical past."



"West Virginia’s workers, whether coal miners or teachers, have never benefitted from the state’s natural wealth due to greedy corporations and the politicians they buy."



"It matters that workers are rising up, and it matters that women are leading. It matters that the fight against extractive capitalism is fiercer than ever."



"The 2016 election still looms over us. But if all you know—or care to know—about Appalachia are election results, then you miss the potential for change. It might feel natural to assume, for example, that the region is doomed to elect conservative leadership. It might seem smart to point at the “D” beside Joe Manchin’s name and think, “It’s better than nothing.” There might be some fleeting concession to political diversity, but in a way that makes it the exception rather than the rule—a spot of blue in Trump Country.

If you believe this, then you might find these examples thin: worthy of individual commendation, but not indicative of the potential for radical change. But where you might look for change, I look for continuity, and it is there that I find the future of the left.

It matters that workers are rising up, and it matters that women are leading. It matters that the fight against extractive capitalism is fiercer than ever. And for all of these actions, it matters that the reasoning is not simply, “this is what is right,” but also, “this is what we do.” That reclamation of identity is powerful. Here, the greatest possible rebuke to the forces that gave us Trump will not be people outside of the region writing sneering columns, and it likely will not start with electoral politics. It will come from ordinary people who turn to their neighbors, relatives, and friends and ask, through their actions, “Which side are you on?”

“Listen to today’s socialists,” political scientist Corey Robin writes,

and you’ll hear less the language of poverty than of power. Mr. Sanders invokes the 1 percent. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez speaks to and for the ‘working class’—not ‘working people’ or ‘working families,’ homey phrases meant to soften and soothe. The 1 percent and the working class are not economic descriptors. They’re political accusations. They split society in two, declaring one side the illegitimate ruler of the other; one side the taker of the other’s freedom, power and promise.

This is a language the left knows well in Appalachia and many other rural communities. “The socialist argument against capitalism,” Robin says, “isn’t that it makes us poor. It’s that it makes us unfree.” Indeed, the state motto of West Virginia is montani semper liberi: mountaineers are always free. It was adopted in 1863 to mark West Virginia’s secession from Virginia, a victory that meant these new citizens would not fight a rich man’s war.

There are moments when that freedom feels, to me, unearned. How can one look at our economic conditions and who we have helped elect and claim freedom? But then I imagine the power of people who face their suffering head on and still say, “I am free.” There is no need to visit the future to see the truth in that. There is freedom in fighting old battles because it means that the other side has not won."
rural  westvirginia  politics  policy  us  economics  future  history  democrats  republicans  progressive  race  class  racism  classism  elizabethcatte  aaronbady  nuance  radicalism  socialism  unions  organizing  environment  labor  work  capitalism  inequality  appalachia  coalmining  coal  mining  coreyrobin  grassroots  alexandriaocasio-cortez  workingclass  classwars  poverty  identity  power  change  changemaking  josemanchin  2019 
february 2019 by robertogreco
A Way Out – Popula
"I’m telling you this story because I imagine there are others, like me, who want to see a better, kinder world, but they’re not sure how to go about achieving it. When I was 24 I thought it was through proper, respectable channels: NGOs and civil political gamesmanship and gradual pressure for reform. I now know that those proper and respectable channels are an illusion, anesthetizing you to the fact that the world is a vicious brawl for resources, with capitalists leading every major offensive.

And I’m telling you this now, of all times, because I’ve witnessed the future. It’s in Appalachia. It’s in a place called Martin County, Kentucky, where there is no running water, and what little water they do have is poison. It’s in a place called Letcher County, Kentucky, where—instead of rebuilding the public water infrastructure—they’re building another federal prison and calling it economic diversification. It’s in a place called McDowell County, West Virginia, with the highest per capita overdose rate in the nation. In each of these places there are pockets of resistance, begging for help and relief, but no one hears them. In fact, politicians actively ignore them, because the old kind of politics is dead. Look around and you’ll see catastrophe on the horizon of every major issue of our times. The nonprofit sector has failed to manage the contradictions of capitalism in Appalachia, and they will eventually fail you, too.

It is for this reason that we have to acknowledge that what we do in the nonprofit sphere is not actually progressive politics. It’s business.

To escape the logic of this system you have to give up the part of yourself that says you can change the world. You cannot change the world. Mass consumption, mass media, and individualism have rendered the world primitive again, a social vacuum in which there is, paradoxically, no individual. And because there is no individual there is no accountability, no rights, and certainly no social contract. The dream of liberal democracy is dead. All that exists is the global oppressors and the globally oppressed.

I submit that the only thing that offers you a way out of this contradictory mess is the analytic framework of Marxism, combined with the social application of class struggle.

This is a difficult statement to make. It sounds so lame and self-serious. It sounds out of touch. How can you sit there and tell me the working class isn’t interested in wonky economic policies, you might ask, and then shove a 150-year-old book in my face? But Marxism gives you the tools to pry the system apart and see how it works. There’s no wonky economic theory here, nothing like the Stream Protection Rule or stomach ulcers. The words are big but the message is simple, something you already knew: you are worthy, you are not surplus, you must overthrow the capitalist class to reach liberation, and you must band together with your fellow workers to do it. You do not have to sacrifice your intellect, integrity, or potential to the liberal cause of social tinkering. Take my word for it: that road will only lead you to self-doubt and self-abuse.

There is an entire stratum of society dedicated to the cause of social tinkering; it finds its most concrete forms in philanthropy, the liberal media, and the Democratic Party, and over the past two years it has reached a fever pitch of outrage that is at once powerless and powerful. This segment of society is comprised of the upper and middle classes, and as a result the discourse that it produces—and forces onto the rest of us—can only reflect the values of those classes. This is why every few months we are treated to a cataclysmic meltdown about the abolition of norms and procedure, and it’s why they invariably tell us there’s nothing we can do about it except vote them out.

But it’s also why this same segment of society keeps telling us that the left doesn’t have a vision for the future, despite the fact that it does. This vision is actually quite robust and imaginative; for example, there are plenty of working people who are disillusioned with political and electoral systems, and who are fed up with having to work to stay alive, but no one is telling them that human beings shouldn’t have to live like this.

The union traditionally served the purpose of activating these people’s imaginations and class-consciousness, but this is beyond the pale for the liberal theory of change, because there’s no corresponding system of merits or rewards or social-media-savior posturing attached to it. There’s no grant for organizing your workplace, no pat on the head or body of individuals who will thank you for all the great work you’ve done. So as a result, the liberal discourse tells us that history is frozen, and that we’re all just a little bit shell-shocked and uncertain about what to do about it. In fact, they maintain, we are helpless to history—at least until the next election. But this cannot be further from the truth.

Human beings can seize history, and we know this because it’s been done before. In fact, it’s the only thing that’s ever worked. It will take years to build up a movement that is strong enough to do this, and this will require sacrifice and hard work, but it can be done. In Appalachia that will look like organizing the people at the margins of society on the premise that, if they really want it, they can shut the system down, because they create the profit for those at the top. In my community, those people are the nurses, the teachers, and the service industry workers. You could rebut this and say that our country is simply too reactionary and backwards for this to actually work, and you may be correct. But have we even tried? We know that voting is becoming less and less effective as more and more people are purged from electoral rolls. So what other recourse do we have? For starters, we have our labor power—the fact that a fundamental aspect of this system is our collective fate.

If we are going to survive the coming years it is necessary that we demolish the liberal theory of change. This theory tells you that the individual can change everything, while simultaneously insisting that the individual is powerless to change anything, unless it’s in a voting booth. It insists that you, the individual, can be whatever or whoever you want to be, and by doing so, you can somehow compromise or bargain or reason with the forces of capital. I’m here to tell you that you can’t. Those forces only want you dead. You are surplus to them. You are disposable. Sooner or later they will come for you. Don’t let the Hal Rogers of the world lead them to you."
nonprofits  capitalism  2018  tarenceray  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  class  classstruggle  economics  struggle  activism  unions  labor  work  organizing  oppression  neoliberalism  consumption  consumerism  individualism  us  democracy  democrats  theshirkyprinciple  society  socialtinkering  philanthropy  charity  media  politics  policy  socialism  bullshitjobs 
november 2018 by robertogreco
David Adams on Twitter: "The more power the left gains, the more vociferously will entrenched interests fight back. We better have a lot more in our arsenal than sarcasm and call-outs. Twitter is exactly the wrong place to prepare."
"The more power the left gains, the more vociferously will entrenched interests fight back. We better have a lot more in our arsenal than sarcasm and call-outs. Twitter is exactly the wrong place to prepare.

A few accounts miraculously navigate this poisoned discursive terrain adroitly. @BlackSocialists comes immediately to mind. They do Twitter "wrong" and it's wonderful to see.

That sort of patient, clear, drama- and hyperbole-free presentation is something to learn from. Stick to the principles, stick to the material analysis, dodge around the feints and discursive traps of the opposition.

These are skills we have to put real effort into learning, but then, they don't call it a fight or a struggle because it comes automatically, right? These rhetorical skills are part of our basic training.

Going for the sick own, the oh-snap fireworks, is about your own personal brand, your lil ego, & that, folks, is commodification in action. Socialism isn't about you-as-atomized-individual. It's about us, building understanding, seeing above the spectacle, gaining power together."
davidadams  twitter  socialism  activism  education  ego  personalbranding  solidarity  collectivism  bsa  blacksocialistsofamerica  socialmedia  individualism  howto  organizing  resistance  struggle  sarcasm  callouts  training  opposition 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Resistance School – Practical Skills to Reclaim, Rebuild, and Reimagine America
[See also: https://www.resistanceschool.com/courses/ ]

"Turn your online outrage into offline action

The first free digital training platform for civic engagement and community organizing.

Learn
Access video lessons from leading academics and practitioners to gain the skills you need to organize and mobilize effectively.

Engage
Dive in with supporting resources — readings, quizzes, and tools — and join discussions with other learners in an online forum.

Act
Connect to local, state, and national organizations that are leading the charge for progressive change."
resistance  politics  organizing  howto  tutorials 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Social Inequality Will Not Be Solved By an App | WIRED
"Central to these “colorblind” ideologies is a focus on the inappropriateness of “seeing race.” In sociological terms, colorblindness precludes the use of racial information and does not allow any classifications or distinctions. Yet, despite the claims of colorblindness, research shows that those who report higher racial colorblind attitudes are more likely to be White and more likely to condone or not be bothered by derogatory racial images viewed in online social networking sites. Silicon Valley executives, as previously noted, revel in their embrace of colorblindness as if it is an asset and not a proven liability. In the midst of reenergizing the effort to connect every American and to stimulate new economic markets and innovations that the internet and global communications infrastructures will afford, the real lives of those who are on the margin are being reengineered with new terms and ideologies that make a discussion about such conditions problematic, if not impossible, and that place the onus of discriminatory actions on the individual rather than situating problems affecting racialized groups in social structures.

Formulations of postracialism presume that racial disparities no longer exist, a context within which the colorblind ideology finds momentum. George Lipsitz, a critical Whiteness scholar and professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, suggests that the challenge to recognizing racial disparities and the social (and technical) structures that instantiate them is a reflection of the possessive investment in Whiteness—which is the inability to recognize how White hegemonic ideas about race and privilege mask the ability to see real social problems. I often challenge audiences who come to my talks to consider that at the very historical moment when structural barriers to employment were being addressed legislatively in the 1960s, the rise of our reliance on modern technologies emerged, positing that computers could make better decisions than humans. I do not think it a coincidence that when women and people of color are finally given opportunity to participate in limited spheres of decision making in society, computers are simultaneously celebrated as a more optimal choice for making social decisions. The rise of big-data optimism is here, and if ever there were a time when politicians, industry leaders, and academics were enamored with artificial intelligence as a superior approach to sense-making, it is now. This should be a wake-up call for people living in the margins, and people aligned with them, to engage in thinking through the interventions we need."
safiyaumojanoble  technosolutionism  technologu  2018  inequality  society  socialinequality  siliconvalley  neoliberalism  capitalism  blacklivesmatter  organizing  politics  policy  oppression  algorithms  race  racism  us  postracialism  colorblindness  discrimination  georgelipsitz  safiyanoble 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Movement Pedagogy: Beyond the Class/Identity Impasse - Viewpoint Magazine
"Ellsworth had studied critical pedagogy carefully and incorporated it into her course, which she called Curriculum and Instruction 607: Media and Anti-racist Pedagogies. She describes the diverse group of students it drew, including “Asian American, Chicano/a, Jewish, Puerto Rican, and Anglo European men and women from the United States, and Asian, African, Icelandic, and Canadian international students.” This diverse context seemed ideal for engaging in critical pedagogy. And yet, problems arose as soon as the class began.

When invited to speak about injustices they had experienced and witnessed on campus, students struggled to communicate clearly about racism. They had a hard time speaking and listening to one another about the main subject of the course. Rather than dialogue providing grounds for solidarity, “the defiant speech of students and professor…constituted fundamental challenges to and rejections of the voices of some classmates and often the professor.” Ellsworth began to question the limitations of an approach to dialogue that assumes “all members have equal opportunity to speak, all members respect other members’ rights to speak and feel safe to speak, and all ideas are tolerated and subjected to rational critical assessment against fundamental judgments and moral principles.” These assumptions were not bearing out in her classroom due to the vastly different histories, experiences, and perspectives of those in the room.

There was difficulty, pain, and deadlock in communicating about the social structure of the university, a deadlock that fell along classed, racial, gendered and national lines. Like a broken window, fissures between the experiences and perspectives of Ellsworth and her students formed cracks, which then caused more cracks, until no one could see each other clearly.

Contrary to critical pedagogy’s promise of liberation through dialogue, Ellsworth’s classroom was filled with uncomfortable silences, confusions, and stalemates caused by the fragmentation. The students and professor could not achieve their stated goal of understanding institutional racism and stopping its business-as-usual at the university. She recalls that
[t]hings were not being said for a number of reasons. These included fear of being misunderstood and/or disclosing too much and becoming too vulnerable; memories of bad experiences in other contexts of speaking out; resentment that other oppressions (sexism, heterosexism, fat oppression, classism, anti-Semitism) were being marginalized in the name of addressing racism – and guilt for feeling such resentment; confusion about levels of trust and commitment about those who were allies to one another’s group struggles; resentment by some students of color for feeling that they were expected to disclose more and once again take the burden of doing pedagogic work of educating White students/professor about the consequences of White middle class privilege; resentment by White students for feeling that they had to prove they were not the enemy.

The class seemed to be reproducing the very oppressive conditions it sought to challenge. As they reflected on these obstacles, Ellsworth and her students decided to alter the terms of their engagement. They replaced the universalism of critical pedagogy, in which students were imagined to all enter dialogue from similar locations, with a situated pedagogy that foregrounded the challenge of working collectively from their vastly different positions. This shift completely altered the tactics in the course. Rather than performing the teacher role as an emancipatory expert presumed able to create a universal critical consciousness through dialogue, Ellsworth became a counselor, helping to organize field trips, potlucks, and collaborations between students and movement groups around campus. These activities helped to build relations of trust and mutual support without presuming that all students entered the classroom from the same position. Rather than holding class together in a traditional way, Ellsworth met with students one on one, discussing particular experiences, histories, and feelings with them, talking through these new activities.

As trust began to form out of the morass of division, students created affinity groups based on shared experiences and analyses. The groups met outside of class to prepare for in-class meetings, which “provided some participants with safer home bases from which they gained support…and a language for entering the larger classroom interactions each week.” The affinity groups were a paradigm shift. The class went from a collection of atomized individuals to a network of shared and unshared experiences working in unison. Ellsworth writes that, “once we acknowledged the existence, necessity, and value of these affinity groups we began to see our task as…building a coalition among multiple, shifting, intersecting, and sometimes contradictory groups carrying unequal weights of legitimacy within the culture of the classroom. Halfway through the semester, students renamed the class Coalition 607.” Ellsworth describes this move from fragmentation to coalition as coming together based on what the group did not share, rather than what they did share. Ultimately the class generated proposals for direct action to confront structural inequalities at the university.

Why doesn’t this feel empowering?

In 1989, Ellsworth published her now-famous article reflecting on the Coalition 607 experience. Provocatively entitled, “Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working through the Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy,” she used her experiences in this course to critique what she saw as a universalist model of voice, dialogue and liberation embedded within the assumptions of critical pedagogy. At the heart of this problem was a failure to recognize the fact that students do not all enter into dialogue on equal terrain. Instead, the social context of the classroom – like any other – is shaped by the very unequal histories and structures that critical pedagogy seeks to address. Thus, the idea that Ellsworth and her students might set aside their differences in order to tackle institutional racism on campus proved naive, and even harmful. Instead, it was through a pedagogical shift to coalition that they were ultimately able to build collective action. These actions were rooted not in claims of universality, but in a commitment to building solidarity across structural divisions.

Ellsworth’s story offers useful lessons for contemporary movement debates – debates that are often framed around an apparent dichotomy of class universalism versus identity politics. The question, “why doesn’t this feel empowering?” gestures toward the subtle (and not-so-subtle) processes of exclusion that occur within many movement spaces, where the seemingly neutral terms of debate obscure the specific perspectives that guide our agendas, strategies, and discussions. As Peter Frase notes, “appeals to class as the universal identity too often mask an attempt to universalize a particular identity, and exclude others.” Yet, Ellsworth and her students did not simply retreat into separate corners when these divisions flared; instead, they rethought the terms of their engagement in order to develop strategies for working together across difference. It was by thinking pedagogically about organizing that Ellsworth and her students arrived at a strategy of coalition."



"Ellsworth’s coalition – what we call thinking pedagogically about organizing – is an example of how to get to the imagined relation that dissolves the alleged impasse between class struggle and identity politics: thinking pedagogically creates an ideology of coalition rather than an ideology of impasse.

We can apply this insight from classrooms to activist spaces by examining a recent proposal adopted by the Democratic Socialists of America. At the national convention in August 2017, DSA members debated a controversial resolution calling for a rigorous program of organizer trainings. “Resolution #28: National Training Strategy” proposed to train “some 300 DSA members every month for 15 months” with the goal of ultimately producing “a core of 200 highly experienced trainers and 5,000 well trained leaders and organizers to carry forward DSA’s work in 2018 and beyond.” The proposal asked delegates to devote a significant amount of DSA’s national funds ($190,000) toward creating this nationwide activist training program, which includes modules on Socialist Organizing and Social Movements and Political Education.

The resolution emerged from a plank of the Praxis slate of candidates for the National Political Committee. On their website, the slate described this “National Training Strategy” in detail, emphasizing the importance of teaching and learning a “wide array of organizing skills and tactics so members develop the skills to pursue their own politics” (emphasis in original). Noting that “Poor and working people – particularly people of color – are often treated as external objects of organizing,” this educational strategy explicitly sought to use positionality as a strength. They elaborate: “If DSA is serious about building the power of working people of whatever race, gender, citizen status or region, we must re-build the spine of the Left to be both strong and flexible.” Aware that DSA members would be coming from a variety of positions, the slate made education a central plank of their platform. Members pursuing “their own politics” based on their precise structural location would create a flexible and strong spine for left politics. They write: “It’s not just the analysis, but also the methods of organizing that we pursue which create the trust, the self-knowledge, and the solidarity to make durable change in our world.”

While we can’t know for sure how the training strategy will work out, we highlight the resolution as an … [more]
criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  2017  davidbacker  katecairns  solidarity  collectiveaction  canon  affinitygroups  affinities  salarmohandesi  combaheerivercollective  coalition607  via:irl  elizabethellsworth  currymalott  isaacgottesman  henrygiroux  paulofreire  stanleyaronowitz  petermclaren  irashor  joekincheloe  trust  commitment  resentment  vulnerability  conversation  guilt  privilege  universalism  universality  dialogue  peterfrase  empowerment  repression  organizing  organization  identity  coalition  exclusion  inclusion  inclusivity  identitypolitics  azizchoudry  socialmovements  change  changemaking  praxis  dsa  socialism  education  learning  howwelearn  politics  activism  class  race  stuarthall  articulation  ernestolaclau  plato  johnclarke  fragmentation  generalities 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Oral History Summer School
"Oral History Summer School was established in Hudson, New York, in 2012, as a rigorous training program to help students from varied fields––writers, social workers, radio producers, artists, teachers, human rights workers––make use of oral history as an ethical interview practice in their lives and work (Read More: What is Oral History?).

Spanning the realms of scholarship, advocacy, media-making, and art, OHSS is a hands-on program, which means that students conduct interviews, design projects, produce radio documentary, and archive their recordings while learning the theoretical underpinnings of the field. We also offer advanced training in the form of focused workshops including those on memory loss, mixed ability interviewing, oral history-based documentary film, ethnomusicology, family history, and trauma. We're a cross-disciplinary program with a strong belief that the field is best defined and explored with the guidance of instructors from the field of oral history and from adjacent fields/pursuits: social work, disability studies, ethnomusicology, trauma studies, grassroots organizing, medicine, documentary film, and more.

Our students have come from Italy, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, China, Canada, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Panama, and all over the United States. OHSS alumni have gone on to apply their oral history training to exhibitions, policy work, branding, art projects, and research, as well as collaborations with community organizations, institutions, and schools. You can read more about our alumni network and their accomplishments, here, and in OHSS Alumni newsletters I (2014) and II (2016).

In summer 2016, we will will offer our first workshop in Chicago, with the Studs Terkel Radio Archive and Chicago Torture Justice Memorials. Our first online class will be offered in 2016 and Oral History Winter School will return to Hudson in January 2017. Read more about our workshops, here."
oralhistory  storytelling  training  sfsh  professionaldevelopment  classideas  writing  humanrights  ethnomusicology  traumastudies  grassroots  organizing  documentary  film  audio  radio  squarespace 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Understanding Trump « George Lakoff
"Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware of this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexit; Britons believed that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads to the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family’s national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proudly state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences."



"How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump … [more]
georgelakoff  donaldtrump  2016  conservatives  markets  systems  systemsthinking  hierarchy  morality  puritanism  election  hillaryclinton  cognition  psychology  evangelicals  freemarkets  capitalism  pragmatism  patriarchy  progressivism  directcausation  systemiccausation  thinking  politicalcorrectness  identitypolitics  politics  policy  us  biconceptuals  brain  howwethink  marketing  metaphor  elections  dallas  dallaspolice  policing  lawenforcement  unions  organizing  organization  billclinton  empathy  campaigning  repetition  democrats 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Project NIA Audio | Free Listening on SoundCloud
"Launched in 2009, Project NIA is an advocacy, organizing, popular education, research, and capacity-building center with the long-term goal of ending youth incarceration. We believe that several simultaneous approaches are necessary in order to develop and sustain community-based alternatives to the system of policing and incarceration. Our mission is to dramatically reduce the reliance on arrest, detention, and incarceration for addressing youth crime and to instead promote the use of restorative and transformative practices, a concept that relies on community-based alternatives."

[via: Johnny Cash, Prison Reformer
http://www.usprisonculture.com/blog/2016/03/29/podcast-johnny-cash-prison-reformer-part-1/
http://www.usprisonculture.com/blog/2016/03/30/podcast-johnny-cash-prison-reformer-part-2/ ]
incarceration  youthincarceration  youth  policing  advocacy  organizing 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Research Action Design | RAD: community-led research, transformative media organizing, and collaborative design to build the power of grassroots social movements.
"Research Action Design (RAD) uses community-led research, transformative media organizing, technology development, and collaborative design to build the power of grassroots social movements.

We are a worker-owned collective. Our projects are grounded in the needs and leadership of communities in the struggle for justice and liberation."



"RABBLE ROUSING RESEARCH
We’ll work with you to design and carry out the research you need for high-powered campaigns that get the goods. Communities are the experts, and research done right builds grassroots power.

TRANSFORMATIVE MEDIA ORGANIZING
Your media, your message, your community. We’ll help you plan and implement media organizing work that is transformative, participatory, cross-platform, accountable, and grounded in the vision and needs of your community.

COLLABORATIVE DESIGN
Design can be simple. Together, we’ll walk through each stage of the design process, including project ideation, prototyping, testing, and evaluation.

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
We’ll work with you to understand what technology makes the most sense for your community, then build it together. We’ve built websites, interactive voice hotlines, mobile tools, zines, and more.

COMMUNITY BUILDING
We believe in Voltron. Our work is better when we work together! We organize skill sharing and community building networks and events, both face to face and online."
chrisschweidler  bexhurwitz  sashacostanza-chock  grassroots  organizing  socialmovements  activism  leadership  justice  liberation  research  design  media  collaboration  collaborativedesign  technology  community  communitybuilding 
march 2015 by robertogreco
No Panaceas! Elinor Ostrom Talks with Fran Korten - Shareable
"Fran: Many people associate “the commons” with Garrett Hardin’s famous essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons.” He says that if, for example, you have a pasture that everyone in a village has access to, then each person will put as many cows on that land as he can to maximize his own benefit, and pretty soon the pasture will be overgrazed and become worthless. What’s the difference between your perspective and Hardin’s?

Elinor: Well, I don’t see the human as hopeless. There’s a general tendency to presume people just act for short-term profit. But anyone who knows about small-town businesses and how people in a community relate to one another realizes that many of those decisions are not just for profit and that humans do try to organize and solve problems.

If you are in a fishery or have a pasture and you know your family’s long-term benefit is that you don’t destroy it, and if you can talk with the other people who use that resource, then you may well figure out rules that fit that local setting and organize to enforce them. But if the community doesn’t have a good way of communicating with each other or the costs of self-organization are too high, then they won’t organize, and there will be failures.

Fran: So, are you saying that Hardin is sometimes right?

Elinor: Yes. People say I disproved him, and I come back and say “No, that’s not right. I’ve not disproved him. I’ve shown that his assertion that common property will always be degraded is wrong.” But he was addressing a problem of considerable significance that we need to take seriously. It’s just that he went too far. He said people could never manage the commons well.

At the Workshop we’ve done experiments where we create an artificial form of common property such as an imaginary fishery or pasture, and we bring people into a lab and have them make decisions about that property. When we don’t allow any communication among the players, then they overharvest [the commons]. But when people can communicate, particularly on a face-to-face basis, and say, “Well, gee, how about if we do this? How about we do that?” Then they can come to an agreement.

Fran: But what about the “free-rider” problem where some people abide by the rules and some people don’t? Won’t the whole thing fall apart?

Elinor: Well if the people don’t communicate and get some shared norms and rules, that’s right, you’ll have that problem. But if they get together and say, “Hey folks, this is a project that we’re all going to have to contribute to. Now, let’s figure it out,” they can make it work. For example, if it’s a community garden, they might say, “Do we agree every Saturday morning we’re all going to go down to the community garden, and we’re going to take roll and we’re going to put the roll up on a bulletin board?” A lot of communities have figured out subtle ways of making everyone contribute, because if they don’t, those people are noticeable.

Fran: So public shaming and public honoring are one key to managing the commons?

Elinor: Shaming and honoring are very important. We don’t have as much of an understanding of that. There are scholars who understand that, but that’s not been part of our accepted way of thinking about collective action."



"Fran: Do you have a message for the general public?

Elinor: We need to get people away from the notion that you have to have a fancy car and a huge house. Some of the homes that have been built in the last 10 years just appall me. Why do humans need huge homes? I was born poor and I didn’t know you bought clothes at anything but the Goodwill until I went to college. Some of our mentality about what it means to have a good life is, I think, not going to help us in the next 50 years. We have to think through how to choose a meaningful life where we’re helping one another in ways that really help the Earth."

[via: http://solarpunks.tumblr.com/post/112050255339/theres-a-general-tendency-to-presume-people-just ]
elinorostrom  2010  economics  behavior  longterm  slow  community  communities  communication  organizing  business  problemsolving  fisheries  environment  sustainability  cooperation  collaboration  garretthardin  frankorten  collectivism  commons  landmanagement  governance  resourcemanagement  robertnetting  freeriding  freeriders 
february 2015 by robertogreco
“We want democracy, but we don’t have the theory or skill to do it” | Grist
"A. People from older generations tried to step in and say, “Here’s what’s going to happen. A General Assembly can’t be that open because people are going to be walking in just off the streets. Here are some horizontal structures that you can use to limit the inevitable chaos.”

And then they were denounced. There was so much idealism. I actually just wrote this big prospectus for my next film, and the working title is, “What is Democracy?” I don’t know if it will talk about Occupy. But it will talk about how we want democracy, but we don’t have the political theory or skill to do it. People are so disappointed in the existing system that they want something more pure, something totally open and equal. And then of course it fails.

Like “consensus.” It actually has its origins in Quaker meetings. In that context it makes sense, because at a Quaker meeting you quiet yourself. And when you’re calm, then the spirit moves you. But if you’re a bunch of activists in a park, you don’t necessarily agree if there is a God up there, or if there’s a metaphysical spirit that you’re going to get in touch with. There’s something funny about how that technique has been adopted.

We take these tools and we don’t know where they come from. I want to say, “Where did we get these ideas? And are they helping us? Or are we going to just keep on having these beautiful moments that totally collapse under the weight of our structureless democracy?”"

Q. The tyranny of structurelessness.

A. Yeah. I want to make the movie that the kids in college can see and have better tools for their social movements. Other than “Let’s have a general assembly! The world is so corrupt that we can only be pure in opposition to it.” I think we need a more complicated understanding of political theory than that.



Q. When you think about democracy — are there certain groups you know that really have it? You mentioned the students in Montreal.

A. I did a piece for the Baffler about Chicago’s New Era Windows Cooperative. It’s the only worker-owned factory in the United States. In the piece I say that part of the problem of Occupy Wall Street was that it wanted to be a democracy but it didn’t have any resources. One of the tricks if you want a democracy is that something has to be at stake — you need an incentive to stick together.

You can’t just have a democracy of people debating abstract principles in a park. Because then you’re just going to fight. This group in Chicago — they wanted to have a job that gave them time to see their families. They put themselves in danger to get that. They built a factory when they could have been out there looking for other jobs. But do they give those rights that they fought for to a new hire who just comes walking in off the street? That’s what a democracy is about — it’s about who has rights. Who has responsibilities. How do we share resources?

This is the tricky thing about democracy: It’s both an ideal and an actuality. So when we say “democracy,” we also have to say what me mean by it. It’s an ideal, and it’s also the current corrupt system of elections and representations that we have.

In fact, the Founding Fathers went out of their way to make sure the president wasn’t directly elected and made sure to call it a republic and not a democracy. This tension between the ideal and the actual is always going to be there."
astrataylor  democracy  history  ows  occupywallstreet  2014  hierarchy  politics  us  horizontality  quakers  anarchism  anarchy  organizing  socialmovements  activism  protest  change  participatory  interviews  structurelessness 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements | INCITE! Blog
"Informants in our movements are usually sent by an agency (I say this based on my personal investigations and reading of historical accounts) and Agents Provacatuers are usually self-nominated and misguided individualists (Same source). Whether you blame the state for the appearance of the latter, you can only blame our movement’s incohesion and inability to deal openly with internal conflict for their continued existence in the roles which serve to divide us.

Unless and until men (especially white men) are held accountable and actually challenged by persons in the movement in an open manner, this problem will continue to fester. What happens instead is the soft approach; the telltale abuse survivor adaptation of slander, often anonymously posted or subversively communicated.

Oh, sure it is an effective way to get at the real bastards and undercut their authority. But it is also a great way to play on the fears, ideals, and guilt of the left in general, and isolate the not-so-bastards. Because we each want so earnestly to be good allies, we tend to adopt the “believe the victim” maxim. And that is a great thing to offer when it is time to listen in private to someone who needs to tell their story. But it is a toxic thing to turn around and repeat that story as if you “know” it to be true. It is especially toxic to turn that “knowledge” of only one side of the story into action in the community. Often that action is only symbolic, sometimes it is violence. Would any of us tolerate a state trial which muzzled the defense attorney? We sure would – if the accused were a white male who pisses us off in a meeting!

We hold governments to be acocuntable through an open medium, and expect debate and counter argument. But too often we throw this out when we hear rumors of bad behavior by the guy who pisses us off in a meeting. We expect the government or corporations to come clean with an account of what they are doing, and yet almost never actually do that hard work when it comes time to find out whether someone who was accused really is that bastard their former partner says they were.

Abuse is real, and it needs to be challenged wherever we find it. But too often, we really want validation and not a harder search for the truth – and we are too easily swayed by anyone who tells us we’re special, that our own bad behavior really isn’t as bad, or bad enough, to be addressed. Isn’t that what the mysogynists say? It sure is. The most disgusting thing I ever heard a mysogynist say was that she was not responsible for her abuse because of her gender.

I am a man, and I have made mistakes for which I will always mourn. But I am a man, and not a role or an ‘archy,’ and I will always demand of my community that it speak truth to power even if that power is me.

Nothing about me, without me."

[See also: http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/228916/on-sexism-sexual-assault-and-the-threat-of-the-non-bro/ ]
gender  misogyny  feminism  activism  politics  2014  informants  history  blackpanthers  brownberets  courtneydesireemorris  disruption  abuse  power  conflict  incohesion  organization  hierarchy  horizontality  organizing  anarchism  sexism  blackpantherparty 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Margaret J. Wheatley: The Irresistible Future of Organizing
"Why do so many people in organizations feel discouraged and fearful about the future? Why does despair only increase as the fads fly by, shorter in duration, more costly in each attempt to improve? Why have the best efforts to create significant and enduring organizational change resulted in so many failures? We, and our organizations, exist in a world of constant evolutionary activity. Why is change so unnatural in human organizations?

The accumulating failures at organizational change can be traced to a fundamental but mistaken assumption that organizations are machines. Organizations-as-machines is a 17th century notion, from a time when philosophers began to describe the universe as a great clock. Our modern belief in prediction and control originated in these clockwork images. Cause and effect were simple relationships.   Everything could be known.  Organizations and people could be engineered into efficient solutions. Three hundred years later, we still search for "tools and techniques" and "change levers"; we attempt to "drive" change through our organizations; we want to "build" solutions and "reengineer" for peak efficiencies.

But why would we want an organization to behave like a machine? Machines have no intelligence; they follow the instructions given to them. They only work in the specific conditions predicted by their engineers. Changes in their environment wreak havoc because they have no capacity to adapt.

These days, a different ideal for organizations is surfacing. We want organizations to be adaptive, flexible, self-renewing, resilient, learning, intelligent-attributes found only in living systems. The tension of our times is that we want our organizations to behave as living systems, but we only know how to treat them as machines.



This faith in the organization's ability and intelligence will be sorely tested. When there are failures, pressures from the outside, or employee problems, it is easy to retreat to more traditional structures and solutions. As one manager describes it: "When things aren't going well, we've had to resist the temptation to fall back to the perceived safety of our old, rigid structures. But we know that the growth, the creativity, the opening up, the energy improves only if we hold ourselves at the edge of chaos."

The path of self-organization offers ample tests for leaders to discover how much they really trust their employees. Can employees make wise decisions? Can they deal with sensitive information? Can they talk to the community or government regulators? Employees earn trust, but leaders create the circumstances in which such trust can be earned.

Because dependency runs so deep in most organizations these days, employees often have to be encouraged to exercise initiative and explore new areas of competence. Not only do leaders have to let go and watch as employees figure out their own solutions, they also have to shore up their self-confidence and encourage them to do more. And leaders need to refrain from taking credit for their employees' good work-not always an easy task.

While self-organization calls us to very different ideas and forms of organizing, how else can we create the resilient, intelligent, fast, and flexible organizations that we require? How else can we succeed in organizing in the accelerating pace of our times except by realizing that organizations are living systems? This is not an easy shift, changing one's model of the way the world organizes. It is work that will occupy most of us for the rest of our careers. But the future pulls us toward these new understandings with an insistent and compelling call."

[via: https://twitter.com/JosieHolford/status/394627503668461568 ]
systems  systemsthinking  margaretwheatley  myronkellner-rogers  1996  organzations  management  humans  humanism  machines  modernism  organizing  resistance  self-organization  administration  leadership  structure  dependency  initiative  competency  rigidity  livingsystems  life  rules 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Organizing as If Social Relations Matter « Outside the Circle
"What is noteworthy and compelling about the Cooper Union resistance beyond the already-extraordinary sense of a common good embedded in all its slogans it how, when you take freed-up art students and give them a cause they are personally and collectively passionate about, well: watch out! They will unleash their imaginations, in the same way that a plethora of upward spiraling imaginative interventions marked the Quebec spring and summer. Sure, there are the usual sloppily painted signs, sometimes with misspellings, that characterize any US demonstration. And there are protest moments after protest moments, as in today’s rally, designed to be a spectacle of sorts. Yet there also seem to be twists in the cultural production for this rebellious campaign to keep education free, such as transparent banners asking for transparency from administrators even as they reveal how transparent the student, alumni, allied teachers, and community supporters are being in this contestation. Or an oversize Cooper Union student ID for one of the now-deferred prospective early admissions, with a cutout indicating their potential absence come fall 2013 (happily filled in, for a photo-op moment, by a probable current Cooper Union student).

Such creativity, from what I’ve seen, extends to kitschy and silly cultural production for online and social media — not tired memes, but rather faked, funny photos or a humorously false Cooper Union Web site — to wearable artifacts like buttons and “Stay Free or Die Tryin’” patches — to crafty gadgets– such as during their late-fall occupation, to “fly” pizza up the outside of the building to the occupiers via pulleys, ropes, and balloons — to well-written newspaper, communiques, and press releases, to today’s moving testimonials from deferred early admissions students, read by some of those prospects themselves or read for some of the ones from places around the United States. There’s a way in which the spectacle and end-run maneuvers that the administration keeps trying to make just get out-spectacled and out-run by their dynamism of the art students conjuring up new visual, new visions, new strategies — again only underscoring the “value” of free and freeing education.

Perhaps most important, though, I was reminded today of what good organizing looks like. Or to be more precise, I was reminded of what organizing — versus activism — is all about. There’s aspirations, imagination, and also substance backing up these students’ resistance, and the substance is all about both winning and doing so by forging increasingly widening and deeper circles of social relations, and social relations that appear, from my outsider vantage point, to be far more comradely and nonhierarchical than many among social struggles. That’s not to say that this cold afternoon’s rally was large; it wasn’t, attracting maybe a couple hundred folks at most. But as now-deferred prospective student after student got up to read their varied, often-eloquent remarks, or have them read by a current Cooper Union student or an alumni, for upward of an hour, it became clearer and clearer how much work went into finding, educating, involving, and gaining the support and participation of these frequently far-afield potential students. In fact, one of the statements mentioned how current Cooper Union students, faculty, and alumni had reached out to the current higher schooler applying for early admission to explain the deferral (an administration tactic and, as several prospects noted, a “betrayal”) and draw them into this cause — a cause, as several of the prospective students mentioned, wasn’t about them necessarily getting into Cooper Union but about extending the idea that education should be free and available, sustaining people’s self and social exploration in a life of the mind and arts, and thus bettering our world.

Organizing, good organizing, is to my mind the slow, steady, one-on-one building of relations and interconnections that are at odds with how people are treated under capitalism. Instead of instrumentalizing people for what they can give us or do for us, we look to each other as having worth unto ourselves, and for how we can cement relations of sociability, collaboration, and solidarity — as some of the speakers observed today. Expedient activism falls apart under its own flimsy weight; there’s little there to sustain it, especially when the going inevitably gets rough or disappointing. Here, patient and what appears to be joyful organizing might just have a fighting chance of leaving something in its wake: a win for free education perhaps, or if not, a yardstick of how we can reignite our imaginations and rekindle qualitative social relations."
cooperunion  organizing  activism  freeeducation  education  protest  creativity  2013  resistance  caseygollan  cindymilstein  commongood  egalitarianism  culture  culturalproduction  slow  hierarchy  flatness  slowness  relationships  interconnectivity  interconnectedness  interdependence  capitalism  anarchism  socialrelations  socialjustice  mentorship  leadership  nonhierarchical  horizontality  horizontalidad  interconnected 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Treehouses: Online community for internet // Speaker Deck
Notes here by litherland:

“The ephemerality of speech [sic] in these tools better affords intimacy.” Revisit. /

“That speech is temporal also means someone can be absent, which makes presence meaningful.” Makes a lot of assumptions; needs to rethink (or think harder about) what speech is. Or what he means by it. /

Concept of “intransient group memory.” /

Interesting thoughts about playgrounds. /

“Conversation is an iterated game, so your pseudo can be a strong identity even if it isn’t your *public commercial web face*.” [my emph] /

“Hosts use soft power to influence. The group still governs itself.” /

“Recording is corrosive to candid sharing, so a private internet space must be transient.” /
2012  markpaschal  dannyo'brien  via:litherland  heatherchamp  self-organization  openspace  hackerspaces  autonomy  richardbartle  johanhui  johanhuizinga  play  groupmemory  availabot  ephemerality  muds  space  place  alancooper  sovereignposture  secondlife  personalization  tomarmitage  animalcrossing  ambient  presence  minimumviabletreehouses  minecraft  gaming  games  clubhouses  socialmedia  darkmatter  privacy  sharing  conversation  groups  onlinetreehouses  treehouses  organizing  activism  community  ephemeral 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Florian Schneider, (Extended) Footnotes On Education / Journal / e-flux
"Networked environments or what could be called “ekstitutions” are based on exactly the opposite principle: they promise to provide instant access to knowledge. Ek-stitutions exist: their main purpose is to come into being. They exist outside the institutional framework, & instead of infinite progress, they are based on a certain temporality."

"The challenge that ekstitutions permanently face is the question of organizing, while in institutional contexts the challenge is, on the contrary, the question of unorganizing. How can they become ever more flexible, lean, dynamic, efficient, & innovative? In contrast, ekstitutions struggle w/ task of bare survival. What rules may be necessary in order to render possible the mere existence of an ekstitution?"

"It is crucial to acknowledge that institutions and ekstitutions cannot mix—there is no option of hybridity or of simultaneously being both, although this may very often be demanded by rather naïve third parties."
education  universities  crisis  labor  critique  agitpropproject  florianschneider  ekstitutions  institutions  learning  unschooling  deschooling  situationist  gillesdeleuze  deleuze  collaboration  lcproject  autodidacts  autonomy  connectivism  connectedness  networkedlearning  networkculture  virtualstudio  highereducation  highered  organization  organizing  unorganizing  capitalism  latecapitalism  commercialism  commoditization  marxism  anarchism  money  management  the2837university 
february 2011 by robertogreco

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