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Epidemics of cholera as well as other serious diseases, including neoliberalism, can take a toll on solidarity. "Trade" deals, and the conduct used in pushing them through to adoption, can be purposely choleric in order to accentuate a breakdown in solidarity. A carefully-orchestrated disinformation and intimidation campaign can provide a loud and pushy disincentive to obtaining and sharing knowledge and growing into a healthier society.

The Gipper is credited with the famous saying "trust, but verify." However, it is actually an old Russian proverb. The phrase came in handy when scrutinizing the actions of the potentially dastardly Russian Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

With matters of political economics, we have learned over the last hundred years that verification is not always easy because labels sometimes defy reality. Since the fall of the authoritarian state capitalist Soviet Union, which claimed to be real and scientific socialism, apathy has set in about true human choice on matters not having to do with consumer goods. The possibility of a heterodox deeply democratic vision for humanity is laughed at by commenters. They blithely point to North Korea and the supposedly happy riveters south of the border who produce things once made by Americans for the great now debt-driven and trade-imbalanced American marketplace.

Speaking of Russia, its dolls and other trinkets are now made in China too. Ironically, the British Green Quaker documentary filmmaker David Malone aptly says that modern "trade" agreements are like Russian dolls, with lots of other dolls inside that have nothing to do with trade. We are expected to place the doll up on a shelf and not worry what's inside, even if the shelf is getting repossessed.

Anyway, it's not really as simple as opening up to see the next doll inside, although it would be nice if we were allowed to at least do that before making the purchase. If the global "we" really wants to understand something that comes with risk, such as a disease, or a series of massive "trade" deals, we must first be able to put the pieces as well as the whole under a microscope, do DNA tests, and have plenty of time to learn what exactly it is we are seeing. Learning the ecological context is also critical.

Sounds like technical questions best left to experts! So, we can sit this one out. Maybe it is we who are dialectical dolls here, expected to live superficially without addressing our interior selves. Why concern one's pretty little self with such manly and adult details?

More broadly, absolutely do not ponder whether the globalization of hegemonic capitalism is the disease or the cure. That would necessitate openly and closely studying and discussing, without fear of repression, the system that is being imposed, the crises it inevitably causes, the insolvency it constantly courts, the reserve army of unemployed workers, the lack of fair distribution of the winnings that arise from the system, and calmly comparing the available alternatives, including everything from tweaks to overhauls to repeal and replace.

Democracy is this potentially great mass experimental method if the powers that be would allow it to work deeply and openly. If we were allowed to trust but verify we could be engaged citizens. Instead, we are forced to leave democracy to neoliberal politicians, experts, and talking heads, as if they will explain to us what little it is that we need to know after they have made their decisions, which have bound within them unprecedented curtailments to democracy.

This sounds more like oligarchical exploitation than rule by the people. But what can we do to defend ourselves in times like these?

At least from the time of Spartacus, solidarity has been the enemy of exploitation, always has been and always will be. But woe unto those who take the risks of speaking the truth to power, or even seeking the truth. The doubt-inspiring whispers are reaching a chorus of "shut-up and know your place." Self-doubt cannot help but set in:

In the end, did Spartacus really want to be free and in solidarity with other people in the struggle to be free? Wasn't it really pretty nice being a Thracian gladiator after all? And for his followers, as they were hanging from crosses every bit as real as Jesus's, might they not have had a little buyer's remorse?
4 T
Come to daddy. Put aside those passions. Don't question too much. It's for your own good that you are being led through the valley of the shadow of death in a blindfold.

If only we would listen to President Obama and our other elders we too may yet make a nice match:

A young and accomplished national hero, Dr. Juvenal Urbino, meets Fermina and begins to court her. Despite her initial dislike of Urbino, Fermina gives in to her father's persuasion and the security and wealth marrying Urbino offers, and they wed. Urbino is a medical doctor devoted to science, modernity, and "order and progress". He is committed to the eradication of cholera and to the promotion of public works. He is a rational man whose life is organized precisely and who greatly values his importance and reputation in society. He is a herald of progress and modernization.
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Like everyone else, I got it wrong. I was expecting a Tory minority government propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) if needed to get legislation passed.

It was also clear that the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) had been courting the Tories hoping for another small shot at power; their slogan that “they would give the Tories a heart and Labour a brain” really made me think that they had never understood the Wizard of Oz; if they had, they would have realised that the Wizard was a fraud who only granted what the Tin man (heart) and Straw man (a brain) already had; provision of a testimonial and a diploma do not change reality, only perceptions of reality. I wondered who wrote their script; revealing that you are frauds is never a good idea for a political party.

I was at a friend’s house planning to watch the beginning of the election results there and then I saw the exit polls. I gasped and my stomach screamed! I thought surely this was wrong. I grasped at straws: it didn’t include postal votes, people do not always tell the truth (in the US people deny that they wouldn’t vote for a person of colour as they do not openly want to admit their racism) … I went home to watch a national nightmare unfold (one does not put a fist through your friends’ only telly, it is certainly not good guest behaviour).  

The exit polls (316 Conservatives/Tories, 239 Labour, 58 SNP, 10 Liberal Democrats, 2 UKIP, 2 Greens, 4 Plaid Cymru) actually underestimated the extent of the damage. The Tories were predicted to be heading towards a minority government; I thought that was bad enough, but it was nothing compared to the final result.

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One hundred and twenty-nine years ago today, history was made at the Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois.

This piece of history was so critically important to the lives of working men and women ever since that time that almost every nation on Earth, the United States of America alone excepted, celebrates its laboring population on the first of May.

I feel that we here on the Anti-Capitalist Meetup and related Groups here on Daily Kos need to remember what happened on that fateful May evening in 1886, and the heroes who sacrificed their lives so that their fellow workers might have access to reasonable working and living conditions.

For more on this important story, please join me below the fold.

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Esperanza Quintero: Whose neck shall I stand on to make me feel superior, and what will I have out of it? I don't want anything lower than I am. I am low enough already. I want to rise and to push everything up with me as I go.
JayRaye does so much of a better job chronicling Southwestern labor struggles in DK so here the emphasis is on thinking about a notion raised earlier, about cultural capital and cultural labor. More specifically how mediated an understanding of labor in the full-length feature Hollywood film was historically constrained but not totally politically neutralized by the McCarthy era of The Blacklist. A reexamination of those issues has occurred since then including the rehabilitation of many of the original members of the Hollywood Ten and cinematic biopics have been attempted ranging from Woody Allen's The Front among others mentioned below. What seems still vital to discuss is that the cinematic apparatus has a political economy that extends beyond the production process on both sides of the camera to the distribution, circulation and consumption of cultural capital commodities.
Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television was an anti-Communist tract published in the United States at the height of the Red Scare. Issued by the right-wing journal Counterattack on June 22, 1950, the pamphlet-style book names 151 actors, writers, musicians, broadcast journalists, and others in the context of purported Communist manipulation of the entertainment industry. Some of the 151 were already being denied employment because of their political beliefs, history, or mere association with suspected "subversives". Red Channels effectively placed the rest on the industry blacklist
Every profession and every cultural unit has a blacklist whether it's the informal gossip in the workplace or even in DK with its various versions of trolling. Similarly the Blacklist era continues however informally and dictated by capital as chonicled in"You'll never have lunch in this town again", and more recently in the hacking of Sony internal correspondence. Ideological motives abound not only with the former event but with the recent American Sniper movie manufacturing heroism. But labor heroism is more than the stories of Norma Rae, Silkwood, or Erin Brockovich. Like Harlan County USA, the documentary genre gives a closer examination of the historical circumstances from which struggle can derive and even in the examination of labor processes that transect classes can some activist lessons be derived even in fictional constructions much different that the citizen digital video records we are now getting from unjust police power. Imagine that you could watch the documenting of your beating or shooting on your mobile device as you get killed.

In the latter instance viral images of unarmed persons being shot in the back by pursuing police are visceral images that have a kind of "wage" however cognitive or affective and whose value becomes further mobilizing in an era of social media. Many of the same policy issues are being revisited currently, government secrecy and prosecution in the name of national security including the revisiting of the goals and even the offspring (Koch Brothers) of some of those same oppressors from the McCarthy era. That there are still institutional and industrial issues of corporate media versus independent production and that the relative scale of these enterprises signifies the asymmetry of capitalist power and control over the distribution system. How independent is the unedited/modified work of cinematic artists when one has an Independent Film Channel network (IFC) owned by AMC in the US that still shows commercial advertisements.

                     

Clinton Jencks, born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1918, was a labor organizer in New Mexico. In 1954, he was convicted of lying about being a member of the Communist Party of the United States. During his trial, the government refused to produce documents relied upon by prosecution witnesses who were FBI informants, a move that prompted the passage of the act.

Clinton Jencks starred in the 1954 movie Salt of the Earth which was a dramatized version of his struggles organizing labor.

Having had an opportunity to view this film in high school and college during a period when it was difficult to even get copies of the film, this was an important moment to understand, as a matter of cinematic historiography, that film making as cultural practice had an important role beyond propaganda and which is now being expanded in digital social media. And the creative labor of making stories about labor are the kinds of histories important to the current struggle given how much of the demystification discourse in DK is to debunk the role of working people as irrelevant to the professional managerial classes, and to suggest that the continuing alienation of creative labor as a class is no different than at any moment in history with the dependence on institutional patronage or capital to realize projects of a collaborative/collective scale significant to contribute to political and social change. In the European socialist context that has not been an issue whereas the US bears much of the blame for producing mind-numbing dreck that structurally depends on an economic system less interested in the transformation of consciousness than in the production of accumulated capital and surplus value.
A drama film, based on the making of the film, was chronicled in One of the Hollywood Ten (2000). It was produced and directed by Karl Francis, starred Jeff Goldblum and Greta Scacchi and was released on September 29, 2000 in Spain and European countries. It has not been released in the United States as of 2011.

The troubled career of blacklisted director Herbert Biberman, who endured a considerable struggle to make the 1954 pro-Labor film Salt of the Earth, provides the centerpiece for this historical drama. The film opens at the 1937 Academy Awards, where Biberman's wife, Gale Sondergaard (Greta Scacchi), wins the first ever "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar. Although the anti-Fascist sentiment in her acceptance speech gets her labeled a "commie" by some observers, she and Biberman (played here by Jeff Goldblum) are placed under contract at Warner Bros. Ten years later, with Cold War paranoia growing, a group of predominantly Jewish Hollywood directors -- Biberman, Sondergaard, Danny Kaye, and Dalton Trumbo among them -- are labeled Communists and questioned before Congress. Refusing to name names, Biberman is thrown in prison for six months; his wife's similar refusal to testify severely threatened her career as well. After his release from prison, Biberman, no longer able to work in Hollywood, strikes out on his own with other blacklistees, producer Paul Jarrico (John Sessions) and writer Michael Wilson (Geraint Wyn Davies), to make Salt of the Earth. Biberman's production is far from easy, however, as it comes under attack from both the FBI and redneck vigilantes. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi

Cineaste review The many 50th Anniversaries of Salt of the Earth

The Hollywood Ten

Herbert J. Biberman
Lester Cole
Edward Dmytryk
Ring Lardner Jr.
John Howard Lawson
Albert Maltz
Samuel Ornitz
Adrian Scott
Dalton Trumbo
Alvah Bessie
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/...
More fascinating has been the RW attack by such reactionaries as Ann Coulter on a forthcoming biopic on Dalton Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston.
Bryan Cranston’s mustache practically won its own Emmy at August’s award ceremony, but the Breaking Bad star was already hard at work on his next big project. Cranston was letting it grow to play Dalton Trumbo, the successful Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted by the studios after he failed to cooperate with Congress’ House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947.

Trumbo, directed by Jay Roach, tells the story of the writer’s stand against the communist witch-hunt at the height of the cold war, his professional exile, which included an 11-month stint in prison for contempt of Congress, and his battle with powerful red-hating gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren).

Trumbo—who had been a member of the communist party during World War II when the Soviets were a major American ally—was punished for his principled stand for free speech and the Constitution, and the ensuring uproar, in which others like Elia Kazan did name names, ripped Hollywood apart. Eventually, Trumbo found his way back into Hollywood, writing several scripts under pseudonyms during his exile. Two of them—Roman Holiday and The Brave One—won Academy Awards, and in 1960, Kirk Douglas weakened the blacklist when he publicized Trumbo’s work on Spartacus.

               
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In Memory of Eduardo Galeano, 1940-2015.

At the 2009 Summit of the Americas, Hugo Chavez gave Barack Obama a copy of Galeano's book Open Veins of Latin America which details the United State's military aggression, economic exploitation and political coups or "regime changes" in Latin America.

In the 2012 Summit of the Americas, Obama's reception by Latin American nations was noticeably cool - primarily because the United States refused to end its 50 year boycott of Cuba.

So at the 2015 Summit of the Americas, Obama walked in with a smile on his face and a proposal for a rapprochement with Cuba in one hand, and, in the other, his newly minted Executive Order 2015 which placed sanctions for human rights abuses on several  Venezuelan military leaders and  government officials. Under his emergency powers, Obama declared Venezuela a "threat to the United State's national security."

What was Obama thinking? Did he think people wouldn't notice the bait and switch as he tried to appease Cuba and the Latin American nations while at the same time he applied the same old cold war tactics to isolate Venezuela as the more recent example of a Latin American country standing up to US imperialism? (To make matters worse, these particular military officers and judicial officials are those that many Bolivarians see as the most active in preventing a highly publicized attempt to destabilize the Venezuela government in February 2014 to set it up for another coup.)

The unanimous demand from the Latin American nations to repeal the sanctions against Venezuela show how disconnected Obama and the United States government are from changes in the balance of power in the Americas in the last decade. This includes  the failure of the United States to maintain its neoliberal hegemony and the rise of a left liberal block of nations (i.e., Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil among others).

Admittedly, much of the loss of US hegemony in Latin America is due to the United States over-extending itself in brutal and unsuccessful oil wars in the Middle East and Asia, but much of the impetus of this new left leaning block is due to the influence of the Bolivarian "21st century socialist revolution" of Venezuela. Beginning with the election of Hugo Chavez in the late 1990s and the drafting of a "socialist" constitution, Venezuela has been instrumental in establishing several inter-regional support groups such as ALBA, UNISUR and CELAC which exclude the United States.  The new left liberal block of nations has also benefited by Venezuela's generous sharing of its oil wealth with its neighbors.

So even though most will scoff at the idea that Venezuela is a real military threat to the United States (given the size and nuclear capability and the fact that Venezuela recently reduced its military by an unheard of 34%), the spread of an ideology that challenges the United States' right to exploit and impoverish its southern neighbors could be sufficient reason to consider Venezuela a "threat" to United States' ideology of imperialism; thus causing the US to resort to its age old practice of "regime change."

Seems Like We've Heard This Tune Before

For the past 150 years, the United States has treated Latin American as its own personal backyard to exploit.  Most of the exploitation has been accomplished through economic dominance and the support of right-wing dictatorships.  However, if we look at those countries that experienced actual "regime changes" involving military coups,  we can count, just since World War II,  a minimum of 11 countries (and I'm sure I've missed some) where the United States was either directly or indirectly involved with military regime changes in the Americas-- either to protect specific multinational corporate interests or change regimes that promoted an ideology that was more generally in conflict with Capitalist interests (communism/socialism, nationalism, liberation theology): Guatemala -1954, Cuba-1959, The Dominican Republic - 1961, Brazil - 1964, Chile - 1970-73, Argentina - 1976, Nicaragua - 1981-90, Panama -1989, Venezuela -2002, Haiti - 2004, and Honduras - 2009.

To learn some more about a recently published secret report that documents the United States plans for achieving regime change in Venezuela follow the discussion below ...

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Marxist theory holds that there are no heroic individuals in the art world. Even the most solitary practitioner depends on the people who manufacture their supplies, the understanding of the people for whom the art is intended, and in the best cases, the critics who write about it. I suppose an artist could, in theory, draw on the beach with a sharp stick, let the tide erase it without anyone else seeing it, and be satisfied, but for the overwhelming majority of us, art is a form of collaboration. This piece is about the difficulty in negotiating that path in conceptual art, of trying to have a work carry a message that is understandable to its intended viewer without becoming either so simplistic that it becomes polemic, or so difficult that the audience refuses to engage with it. The works of this kind I find most interesting incorporate collaboration, either on purpose, or by fortunate accident. Recently a particular piece in Brooklyn, ironically starting out as a statement about a heroic individual, Edward Snowden, has ended up showing how collaboration provides layers of meaning, and so gives greater insight into both the original subject and to our own role as the viewer and ultimate collaborator.

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Freestyle dance with me if you will on what is for many the close of a sacred day. Let us let our hair down, if the shoe fits, so to speak, and embrace what Rosa Luxemburg called "a positive and creative spirit."


Wherein I Channel My Best (Socialist) Carl Sandburg For the Oddly Lincolnesque Weird Al

Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic was born in 1959 two days before yours truly (by my calculation, we were both spawned, albeit separately, the month the victorious Fidel cruised into Havana). Since many of us first heard his goofy music we have felt validated in our own awkward creativity sometimes called weirdness.

In truth, personal objective conditions are never completely the same, including or especially those of celebrities with whom we emotionally bond. In any event, according to the 1994 Al in the Box liner notes, the high school Weird Al was an accordion aficionado, class valedictorian, and had parents who apparently were stable and embraced his need to be happy and himself:

Al's father, Nick Yankovic, is from Kansas City, Kansas. He came to California after World War II, and worked in a steel factory, a pipe factory, a bedspring factory, and as a forklift operator, security guard and gas station attendant. He's been semi-retired since 1977. "My dad is responsible for a lot of my attitude toward life," says Al. "He always stressed when I was a kid that I should do whatever made me happy, because that's the key to success, doing for a living whatever makes you happy."

In 1949, Nick married Mary Vivalda, who had come to California from Kentucky. Mary had gone to business college, worked as a switchboard operator for a bank, and eventually became a secretary and stenographer for Firestone.

Ten years later along came Al, Nick and Mary's only child. Nothing terribly dramatic or traumatic occurred during Al's early childhood. In retrospect, though, one event does stand out. "A door-to-door salesman came through our neighborhood," says Al, "trying to solicit business for a local music school. Kids were offered a choice between guitar lessons and accordion lessons. Since Frankie Yankovic (no relation) was America's Polka King, my parents opted for accordion lessons, perhaps because they figured there should be at least one more accordion-playing Yankovic in the world."

His elderly parents died in a home accident in 2004, but Weird Al went on with the show in their honor, donning his poodle hat on the tour of the same name. Al seems to carry with him some of his parent's simplicity:
"Nick just loved being outdoors enjoying nature and his little fruit garden."

Mary Yankovic liked to garden and work with plants, but had not been able to do much in the last few months, he said. ...

"He would always tell me when and where his son was performing," Buehman said about Nick Yankovic. "Very proud of his son. He was always joking around. That's probably where Alfred got his sense of humor." ...

"I know he was very proud of his duty in World War II," Buehman said. "Their son was a caring son, too. He would have a limousine come pick them up for film shoots."

He said Nick Yankovic was "so tickled" when his son married in 2001 "and he was going to have grandchildren." Granddaughter Nina Yankovic was born in February 2003.

"Nick said he'd waited a long time (for grandchildren)," said Buehman. "Nick was someone that everybody in the neighborhood knew and liked. When you met him, you just fell in love with him."

"He'd say, 'What a beautiful day. It's so nice to be alive.' I'd say, 'Nick, you're going to live a long time.'"

From the very first, Weird Al's music exuded the equality necessary for a creative democracy through the implicit notion that anyone could do some version of what he was doing. Indeed, particularly his early music was so rough, unprofessional, and downright lousy in a magical way that for many of us it seemed that uh ... a monkey could have produced it by throwing darts at a ... help me here ... late 70's voice-synthesizer.

Even today, as perfectly stated by Sasha Frere-Jones in The New Yorker, "Do people enjoy 'Weird Al' Yankovic because he’s funny or because he’s not that funny?"  

Back in 1976, my life at best felt like a polyester parody of those who had come before me in U.S. society and my high school, who had accomplished great things like stopping the Vietnam War or at least having a winning football team or going on a cool chorus trip to Rome. On the other hand, "Al and I," and countless other post-everything interesting buddies, merely had acne, insider knowledge of the absurd, and eclectic musical legacies, the latter of which were under threat by disco, which involved moves we could never hope to make. The Saturday Night Live fake Ford-Carter debates captured the zeitgeist as good or better than the real ones.

Whenever we were around our friends we acted silly because that seemed like the best and truest thing we could be doing. Parody was our creative aim, and it was good.

Over the years, our objective conditions have changed. And in varying ways we have moved on from a quest for laughs, in and of itself potentially valuable if it encourages folks to enjoy life, to a quest to make a positive material contribution to humanity in some way.

For billions of humans, of course, their gyro wheels allow them bare survival or slightly less miserable poverty, with no opposing ends of parody and satire but only harshness and frightening uncertainty. Yet, together, could those who are more "fortunate" and others who are far less so not democratically remake the unnatural "world" of human institutions using both indirect means, such as electioneering, judicial appointment, and constitutional revision, and peaceful but nonetheless direct means?

For Weird Al, over the decades his music has cautiously extended to humane satire, while never straying too far from his base in simple parody. For me to enjoy Weird Al's music today is to get into his gyro wheel with him and for a little while pleasantly travel up and down the objective conditions of his decent and, for an international singing sensation, relatively humble life. And I think I know which side he's on.

And he does some really kind things with the gifts that he has, as in this sweet, fun, and empowering performance just last month with and for autistic persons.

But I am not satisfied--with him or with me. This is not a dress rehearsal, or an 80's MTV set, we are living in. The man is not threatened by either one of us.

The man is a self-serving veritable force of anti-nature. He makes profits and accumulates capital in ever-expanding circles of global influence through any means necessary, including divide-and-rule, and thereby directly or indirectly decides the rhythm and flow of most of the lives of the masses to the extent these are not governed by nature. He tolerates if not enjoys our movement back and forth on our gyro wheels with a semblance of freedom between our decent silliness and our varied idiosyncratic efforts to effect change.

For Yankovic the latter is principally humane satire:

One of the major differences that can be noted between a parody and satire is in regard to their goals. Though both parody and satire convey humour, they impart different roles in society. Satire is stands for a social or political change. It depicts an anger or frustration trying to make the subject palatable. Satire can be termed as humour and anger combined together. Parody is really meant for mocking and it may or may not incite the society. Parody is just pure entertainment and nothing else. It does not have a direct influence on the society. [http://www.differencebetween.net/...]
Humane satire is repeatedly evident on Weird Al's recent Grammy award-winning album, Mandatory Fun, which, while through the cover mocking the propaganda styling of the totalitarian Soviet Union and Maoist China, is to a significant extent musically aimed at the contemporary selfishness and vacuity of actually-existing capitalism. (I won't review the album, but you can read a good review here in this Salon article by Lynn Stuart Parramore.)

Humane satire is a form of creative democracy in action and can plant good seeds of agitation and hope. Similarly, idiosyncratic charity can be a small form of justice in action, and at a given stage of life, it may be all the kindness that a good human can do on her or his gyro wheel. But it is still on the gyro wheel. Charity on our gyro wheels may not help to bring about justice in the service of love. Hope in the gyro wheels the man allows for us is not transformational and is delusional. Love in the form of justice writ large is true charity and the greatest of the things that humanity can do for itself. But the man knows how to rig democracy to ensure only faux justice.

As Thomas Merton and now Pope Francis have recognized, we need disturbances of a peace that would deny justice. Maintenance of an unjust status quo is not loving.

Not only mass cooperative indirect action but also mass cooperative direct action is needed where our lives jump off the tracks imposed upon us by the man, enforce a social compact of liberty and justice for all, and regain the natural rhythms and flows of life on earth. We must become the active creative subjects of a destiny of loving kindness as fully-endowed and equal species-beings, rather than remain the playthings of the man.

But, as I said a year ago, for me, and I suspect you, direct action, at least in its confrontational forms, is an obligation purposely made difficult. The needed direct means to justice in the service of love include not only potentially simple and less confrontational measures like workers' gardens and cooperatives but also mass confrontational efforts. These mass confrontational efforts include the stuff that global solidarity is made of, "sordid" things like large scale labor organizing, peaceful transnational opposition to neoliberal globalization, race-to-the-bottom trade deals, land grabs, privatization, and denial of public control of the commons, and substitution of a global social compact.

And, if we are really serious, there ultimately may even need to be, gulp, civil disobedience and general strikes. The horror. Of course, then we could lose our jobs or go to jail--and long before then conservatives would have stopped buying our silly songs and coming to our parody rock concerts.

In 2012 Weird Al said:

I try to stay away from political humor only because it really divides my audience. I don’t want half my audience to suddenly feel like I don’t speak for them. As a satirist I’ve been taken to task by people who think I should go for the jugular, but it’s been a challenge for me to do that.
So, maybe he's not on our side after all. I know I have not really risen this Easter Sunday. Perhaps neither has my man Weird Al, although by 2014 much of his music was Socratic in its questioning of capitalism. He was suggesting there's a party in the CIA even before then, as well as supporting LGBT rights.

Because of objective limitations, you, Al, and I cannot be fully new persons this day or any other. Usually our personal growth will be incremental. Meanwhile, our personal creativity, while idiosyncratically beneficial, is also potentially farce and possibly even self-mocking and amusing to the man, who does not, as Jesus supposedly did, believe in the servant leadership of washing the feet of, breaking bread with, and giving justice to the outcast, the weak, and the poor.

One thing potentially revolutionary in its implications we can consciously try to do. We can reach out, both hands affectionately extended, to our loving comrades in ever-expanding circles of creative democratic solidarity in support of humanity's critical, meaningful, and sufficient love.

Please go below for a brief further discussion of objective and subjective conditions.

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It wasn't that hard when I was a grunt. As long as my job was constructive, something that made the world suck less, a regular job was OK. I was a working class guy, the Man was the Man, and never the twain would meet.

Now, I'm the boss. Sure, it's a non-profit, but I'm still in a position to hire, fire, and order people around. It's also important to note that "non-profit" doesn't mean nobody is taking home too much money. It doesn't mean the work really helps anyone. Non-profits are, if anything, more worried about their reputation than for-profit businesses, who don't need to appeal to the goodwill of the bourgeoisie for sustenance. I have confidence in the decency and mission of the outfit I work for, but as anyone who has spent time in the non-profit/NGO world understands, organizations change and non-profits can be quite ruthless. They are every bit as flawed as the human beings who run them.

For better or worse, I help run this one.

Now, instead of separating myself from the Man, I find I am the Man. I manage several dozen employees who depend on me to be competent and fair in my decisions, which critically effect not just their working life, but their homes and families, and even their long-term employability anywhere.

What's a good socialist to do?

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Reposted from eState4Column5©2013 by annieli


"Cultural Marxism," described as a conspiratorial attempt to wreck American culture and morality, is the newest intellectual bugaboo on the radical right. Surprisingly, there are signs that this bizarre theory is catching on in the mainstream.

The phrase refers to a kind of "political correctness" on steroids€” a covert assault on the American way of life that allegedly has been developed by the left over the course of the last 70 years. Those who are pushing the "cultural Marxism" scenario aren't merely poking fun at the PC excesses of the "People's Republic of Berkeley," or the couple of American cities whose leaders renamed manholes "person-holes" in a bid to root out sexist thought.

Right-wing ideologues, racists and other extremists have jazzed up political correctness and repackaged it in its most virulent form, as an anti-Semitic theory that identifies Jews in general and several Jewish intellectuals in particular as nefarious, communistic destroyers. These supposed originators of "cultural Marxism" are seen as conspiratorial plotters intent on making Americans feel guilty and thus subverting their Christian culture.

In a nutshell, the theory posits that a tiny group of Jewish philosophers who fled Germany in the 1930s and set up shop at Columbia University in New York City devised an unorthodox form of "Marxism" that took aim at American society's culture, rather than its economic system. (2012)

Darn that Kulturbolschewismus ("Cultural Bolshevism"). And no differently than during the interwar period, those who would use the term says more about their own ideology than those who become tarred with the label. That does not mean to say that there aren't folks predisposed to police arbitrary sign systems with equally random ethics in DK without any sense of 1970s irony.

Yet, it's never been a problem, this cultural marxism - it is heuristic and no postulation of epistemological breaks/brakes will stop a reduction of agency to the human over the natural or the cultural. And yet class analysis or social division has remained a problematic issue as though being Bougy or simply petit-Bougy was a bad thing for lumpenproletarians. Such labeling comes to its overlap in the term "cultural marxism" like it was a bad thing, the interest in Frankfurt School Critical Theory. It became incorporated into other historical developments such as the 1960s Birmingham School of Cultural Studies. It does not compromise commitments to class analysis or syndicalist commitments to the continuing class struggle; rather it provides methods to assess the inevitable problems of literacy and development and the fractures among class affiliations.

"The danger the corporate state faces does not come from the poor. The poor, those Karl Marx dismissed as the Lumpenproletariat, do not mount revolutions, although they join them and often become cannon fodder. The real danger to the elite comes from déclassé intellectuals, those educated middle-class men and women who are barred by a calcified system from advancement. Artists without studios or theaters, teachers without classrooms, lawyers without clients, doctors without patients and journalists without newspapers descend economically. They become, as they mingle with the underclass, a bridge between the worlds of the elite and the oppressed. And they are the dynamite that triggers revolt. http://en.wikipedia.org/...
It divides those six-figure income Marxists driving their Beemers represented by Renato Salvatori's character in Bertolucci's Luna from the rest of us and even provides some means for reflection upon OWS. Reflective disclosure is possible and it can be in the service of political economy rather than neoclassical economics warmed over, with strange neoliberal bedfellows everywhere and subsequent conspiracy theories - ZOMG - my late father may even have been a Freemason, Heidegger was a Godwin party member, Althusser murdered his wife, déclassé intellectuals are inorganic, male-identified women sleep with the enemy, and there are class traitors everywhere!
During the eighties, anti-authoritarian socialists in the United Kingdom and New Zealand criticised the rigid and determinist view of popular culture deployed within the Frankfurt School theories of capitalist culture, which seemed to preclude any prefigurative role for social critique within such work. They argued that EC Comics often did contain such cultural critiques. Recent criticism of the Frankfurt School by the libertarian CATO Institute focused on the claim that culture has grown more sophisticated and diverse as a consequence of free markets and the availability of niche cultural text for niche audiences

As another hypothetical example of cultural contrasts, there is the notion of Gross National Happiness GNH which in  many ways is the most radical version of economic critique, relying on the purely subjective that suppresses notions of class division in favor of speculation that opens itself to even more fanciful notions of agency and structure.

From an economic perspective, critics state that because GNH depends on a series of subjective judgments about well-being, governments may be able to define GNH in a way that suits their interests. Economics professor Deirdre McCloskey criticizes such measurements as unscientific, saying that "Recording the percentage of people who say they are happy will tell you... [just] how people use words," making the analogy that society could not "base physics on asking people whether today was 'hot, nice, or cold'". McCloskey also criticizes the anti-consumerism of the movement to base government policy on happiness, asserting that "High culture has in fact always flourished in eras of lively commerce, from fifth-century Greece through Song China and Renaissance Italy down to the Dutch Golden Age."


It's clear that "cultural marxism" can be associated with a wide range of anti-materialist analysis that dissolves any possible realism without disclosing the dialectical possibilities of political or social change, even to the wackiness of conspiracy theories.

In order to prevent that dissolution, Kompridis (2006) suggests that critical theory should "reinvent" itself as a "possibility-disclosing" enterprise, incorporating Heidegger's controversial insights into world disclosure and drawing from the sources of normativity that he feels were blocked from critical theory by its recent change of paradigm. Calling for what Charles Taylor (2012) has named a "new department" of reason, with a possibility-disclosing role that Kompridis calls "reflective disclosure", Kompridis  argues that critical theory must embrace its neglected German romantic inheritance and once again imagine alternatives to existing social and political conditions, "if it is to have a future worthy of its past."
For this passage, containing Engels'€™s theoretical solution to the problem of the basis for the determination €'in the last instance'€™ by the economy, is, in fact, independent of the Marxist theses that Engels was counter-posing to '˜economist€' dogmatism....

Of course, once again, there had certainly been the semblance of a problem for bourgeois ideology: to rediscover the world of history on the basis of principles (the homo-economicus and his political and philosophical avatars) which, far from being principles of scientific explanation, were, on the contrary, merely a projection of its own image of the world, its own aspirations, its own ideal programme (a world which would be reducible to its essence: the conscious will of individuals, their actions and their private undertakings . . .). But once this ideology without which this particular problem could not have been Dosed, had been swept aside by Marx, how could this problem still remain the problem posed by this ideology, that is, how could it still remain a problem?

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Today is Mother’s Day in Britain (aka "Mothering Sunday") and this topic is extremely appropriate. The idea of accessing 24 hour childcare is an old one … the questions that arise are why this is an important issue and why we should we be advocating for it? The next obvious question is how can we actually obtain it, in other words, what policies can ensure that this is viable and offers a positive transformation (that offers fulfilment to women and children where their needs and wants are covered) rather than a negative one?

How do we understand the oppression of women? Is it something that can be easily solved with reforms within the system (e.g., unequal pay, equality under the law, access to education and work)? Or does our oppression derive from the nature of class societies, property ownership, and our role in social reproduction? For me, it is the latter and that is why I do not think that reforms are sufficient, but they certainly can be done and must be done, if only to address inequality. These reforms may not affect our oppression much (which will require the overthrow of class societies based upon property), but they will make our lives easier and they will also get allies to understand the nature of our oppression. I do not know about you, but I simply refuse to wait until the revolution for women’s oppression to be understood and inequality to be addressed. We are raised in the context of our societies and if we do not address this before we transform society, then, I am certain that those raised in these societies will never understand the need for change (or it will always be put off as there are other more immediate things that need to be addressed, as usual).

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Tonight's piece is a co-production of NY Brit Expat and Geminijen. What we decided we wanted to do was to allow women to speak for themselves, so we reproduced some quotes from these women. We wanted to discuss not only women that were known as leaders or that were heralded during their times; we also want to remind people of the voices of those who fought on the shop-floors, those that became “leaders” due to circumstance. Their actions and speeches inspired and moved others and they are still relevant. However, since its inception in the early 1900s, it has inspired many other actions and women around the world from Africa to China to Latin America and Europe. In the United States it was repressed for much of the 20th century, except in small radical communities, due to the strong anti-socialist bias. It was revived under the second wave of feminism in the 1970s and continues among progressives today.

What we'd like to ask our readers to do is to use the comments section to suggest some of the other women in the world that we might include in an "updated" version of our history and why you wish to include them (with a little history or anecdote if you can). Then we'll include them in an updated version for next year!

International Women's Day (8 March) was originally a socialist holiday established in 1911 by the Socialist International and is celebrated by women's groups around the world. In many countries, it is a national holiday and has recently been officially recognized by the United Nations.

However, up until the 1970's, with the advent of a new women's movement, the radical working class roots of IWD had been practically forgotten. Due to its socialist leaning, it was excised from the United States memory, much as Labor Day replaced May Day, except in small immigrant enclaves or radical union groups.  In Europe and the rest of the world, it continued to be widely celebrated, but tended to honour women in name only, mostly with flowers or by simply putting a woman's face on a male agenda. IWD, in fact, was the culmination of a century of women working in the labour, feminist, socialist, and anti-slavery and segregation movements to bring together the common interests of the working class and women's rights advocates.

Four major trends led to the establishment of IWD.

The first was a revolutionary fervour in Europe and the United States toward socialism, democratization and the vote.  In Europe it was exemplified by a movement for working class men without property seeking the vote to further a socialist government, paralleled by a movement for middle class women to get the vote.  This situation was mirrored in the United States by the struggle to gain the vote for black men and white women. The contradictions between these two types of suffrage movements were evident (should we fight for the non-propertied or black men to get the vote, even if women were excluded?).  The solution, of course, was to get the vote for both groups. Clara Zetkin was among the early socialists to see working class women as the driving force towards universal suffrage (everyone gets the vote independent of property qualifications to which it had been historically tied) since they bridged the divide, yet retain the principle of a revolutionary socialist agenda.  

It was Clara Zetkin who advocated for the merging of the working class socialist movement and women's movement through the establishment of International Women's Day as a way to forward the goals of both labour and women. The first clear victories in which the leadership of working class women following the establishment of IWD were the organization of the textile workers and women's suffrage in the United States and the Russian Revolution in 1917 which began with a massive strike by women textile workers in Petrograde (St. Petersburg) on International Women's Day against both the orders of the Unions and left-wing political parties. The strikes lit the match of a country on the verge; they doubled in size to 200,000 workers and over the next few days, 66,000 men of the local army garrison joined forces with the strikers. The February Russian revolution began and the Tsar was forced to abdicate.

The second important factor was the increased numbers of women in the labour movement, particularly in the textile industry, as more and more women were pulled into factories and out of homes with the rise of industrial capitalism.  Their struggle to free themselves from the patriarchal home and obtain decent work conditions in the marketplace instead of being viewed as cheap labour is exemplified in the call for both "bread and roses." The textile strikes beginning in 1857 and the massive strikes between 1908 and 1915 were the activist expression of women's struggle for power. This was especially true after the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory strike where mostly women workers, but also children and a few men were killed in a horrific sweatshop fire soon after a strike of textile workers (The Uprising of the 20,000) in New York city demanding trade union recognition, better wages, working conditions and health and safety measures.

While initially the feminist movement focused on human rights issues for women such as suffrage,  many of the women felt allied to working class struggles for decent wages and rights and took up the call that freedom and equality for one group meant freedom and equality for all.

While the anti-slavery movement seems distinct, the end of slavery pushed all workers, black and white into the same labour struggle as wage labourers.  Once this occurred, it was up to anti-racist groups to fight for equality within the labour movement.  This, of course, always raised the question of equality for the other major group excluded from equality in the labour force -- women.

These movements, occurring in a short period between the end of the civil war and the end of WW1, provided the activist and theoretical base to try to unite diverse groups into the revolutionary struggle.  The formation of IWD was an explicit effort to unite the interests and theories of women and male labour (including workers of colour that was implied in the socialist agenda) under a Revolutionary Socialist agenda in support of universal suffrage and economic equality.

The following excerpts (which we hope you will read, view, sing-along- with, explore and enjoy) are just a sampling of some of the actions and words of some prominent working women and movements.

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Why do we do this? I can only speak for me, but I do it not only to foment revolution--a worldwide peaceful one of justice in the service of love brought about by direct and indirect action--but also for the camaraderie. NancyWH reminded me of that in a comment she made last Sunday night in a chain under annieli's latest diary for this group (an amazing educational piece, read by very few at the time, I am sad to say):

Every journey starts with one step (4+ / 0-)

I hear.  Now I have two!  I will end up having so many tabs open, I'll get confused.  So I have a word document where I stash links, so I can find them again later.  

And I am apt to come back early tomorrow, and find people came along and added other suggestions after I went to sleep.  It was that comradery that drew me here in the first place.

And that comment got me thinking about "camaraderie." I volunteered to do this diary a day later because we needed a writer for this week, thinking that I could come up with something, but as usual not knowing what it would be. I do love this unpredictable journey of socialist sharing with comrades, some of whom are now living across one big pond or another from the U.S., and none, to my knowledge, within hundreds of miles of me, a lonely watermelon in a highly un-"red" part of the Deep Red South. To me, it does not really matter what specific anti-capitalist theme I write about or one of my comrades writes about, but it does matter that we are together, sharing our bad ass love for humanity, including for each other.

Of course, Daily Kos writ large has an agenda which should bring some solidarity, and any group blog at Daily Kos has some camaraderie around a profile, and some profiles are more or less expressly aimed at camaraderie. Because of responsibilities, I don't often get to participate in Saturday night's WYFP?, but when I do, I am always uplifted by the fact that people bring their problems to each other there and receive encouragement from others. It is quite beautifully real and sometimes brings me to tears.

So camaraderie,

Stuck in my atrophying mental space, based on NancyWH's comment, was this subject of camaraderie. I have never spent much time thinking about socialist camaraderie per se, but I have known some camaraderie in my day, most of it decidedly un-socialist and un-progressive--a "wide gamut," everything from little league competition and bench-warming of the "worst" "teammates"; to high school locker room glory days, where one fits in by not only performing on the field or court but also by committing or ignoring bullying of the smallest "teammates"; to goldfish-swallowing beer-guzzling fraternity "good times," where one fits in by committing or receiving bullying given the more grandiose name of hazing; to beer-guzzling adult softball team after-game carousing and what not--then again, it dawns, maybe I don't know shit about camaraderie, sure haven't had much of it that wasn't involved with competition, cruelty, or both.

After all, as we all know down heuh, when it comes to "heaven and hell," it is everyone for "himself," standing condemned from the instant of birth by the sinful act of copulation, so loved by the great tortoise in the sky that he would send us into a burning eternal barbecue pit for daring to enter this perfect world. I was raised in, and in the acceptable capitalist ways rebelled from, the most conservative of fundie religious subcultures in the Cold War U.S., where "comrade" was used as a term of hostile disparagement of "the enemy." Come to think of it, the closest I received in camaraderie growing up was probably involved with sharing bong hits and playing hearts while ditching some class in minimester I can't remember now.

I do remember distinctly when I first read the word "comrade" in reference to real people that I know--the members of this group, which I'd just joined, a little over a year ago. Ironically, it was used by one of my now heroes, NY brit expat, in asking for writers! I am sorry to say that I at first assumed it was humorously used. "Comrade" died with the Soviet Union, right? I replied back somewhat tongue in cheek but even then felt scared to acknowledge the request because, as in joining this group to begin with, it means to voluntarily wear a badge that could invite repression, and where I live, repression can get ugly.

I have learned in this group that camaraderie involves honest and sometimes difficult exchanges, solidarity with not only each other but all of the workers and less fortunate of the world, gentle expressions of friendship, and tons of edjurecation, and even a little re-edjurecation.

which leads to reading,

While we have many scholars who write for this group, I am not one of them. Each week, when I read the diary and the comments, I add to my reading list. My special top secret personal revolutionary bookcase is full of pink, red, and green things to do that involve me learning, which is good, but time-consuming. Perhaps you too carry around on your smart phone links to works of Luxemburg, Gramsci, and Bookchin, things you need to read or re-read and can feel guilty over.

When I started thinking about "camaraderie," I decided to start with the French "liberty, equality, fraternity," which led to the limited spare time of three days being spent with some dead dude named Pierre Leroux, whom I have really come to like. I was going to riff this diary on him, when serendity happened ...  

which leads me back to a dear friend from long ago, "a queer socialist poet."

At 2:14 pm Central Time this past Thursday, when I was at work, my real-me personal in-box received a visit from my independent socialist comrades at Monthly Review. And, maybe my life will never be the same, I am serious. Into my life came a new book by some literary lefty at Penn State named John Marsh, In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself (Monthly Review Press, 2015).

By Friday night I had read the UTNE Reader excerpt from the book and was completely stoked. I took the full plunge, and it now mysteriously "sits" in my dinosaur first generation pawn shop iPad half-read but already well-loved. I would be reading the rest of it now, except that I have to write this darn diary and go chop down some wild stuff before Spring gets here.

I will, tortoise willing, come back to you one day with a full review of the book. It is friggin' terrific. Like my other new buddy Leroux, it implies that the liberal and the socialist have much to learn from each other. For instance, while the liberal conception of "justice" as defined by capitalist laws is woefully inadequate, the artistic and intellectual freedom of humanity should not be pinned down by what came to be known as "socialist realism" or convenient to a hierarchy, respectively.  

We will fight for a just world for all and not accept no for an answer. But our blades will primarily be leaves of grass. Our practice must account for time and place, and we all need true friends:

Nor did I always believe that Whitman would save America from what ailed it. More often than not I thought he was—or represented—exactly what it suffered from. His naive optimism, his boosterish patriotism, his fuzzy spiritualism, his celebration of the body and sex—though these may have once seemed, in the nineteenth century perhaps, like the solution to a problem, they now seemed like the problem itself. Americans did not need to be told to look on the bright side, to love America, to trust God, or, my Lord, to worship sex. They needed to be told not to.

But I know now that I was wrong. At some point, and for me it came in my early thirties, you realize that socialism will be a long time coming in the United States, especially when one of our two political parties fervently believes that the United States is already on the road to socialist serfdom. When you wake up to this reality, you care a lot less about whether a poet was socialist enough or not, and a lot more about how he can help you live in the world you have.

...

[W]hitman had nothing to do with building up the empire of illusions that currently enfold and enthrall Americans, not just because few people actually read him, then or now, and therefore you cannot lay much blame at his door. But also because—read carefully—he says no such things. Indeed, I am now convinced that reading Whitman would go far toward striking back against that empire of illusion.

When I read Leaves of Grass the first time, I was beginning a new life, becoming much closer to who I am today than who I was raised to be. Something told me to take Walt Whitman with me on that long back-packing trip. I sat and read him on rainy days in the tent and on a clear day by a roaring ice-filled river read him too. He, long dead as Leroux, planted wonderful seeds in me, like not only a love of compost but also the assumption that composting can be a political act.

He was fearless. What kind of bravery it would have taken in 1855 to self-publish such thoughts: “Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean. / Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest.”

Well I am off to chop those vines, which will go in This Compost, where I will hopefully one day join them:

Behold this compost! behold it well!  
Perhaps every mite has once form’d part of a sick person—Yet behold!  
The grass of spring covers the prairies,  
The bean bursts noislessly through the mould in the garden,  
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,  
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,  
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,  
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,  
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings, while the she-birds sit on their nests,    
The young of poultry break through the hatch’d eggs,  
The new-born of animals appear—the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,  
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato’s dark green leaves,  
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk—the lilacs bloom in the door-yards;  
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.    

What chemistry!  
That the winds are really not infectious,  
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea, which is so amorous after me,  
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,  
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,    
That all is clean forever and forever.  
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,  
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,  
That the fruits of the apple-orchard, and of the orange-orchard—that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will none of them poison me,  
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,    
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.  

Now I am terrified at the Earth! it is that calm and patient,  
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,  
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas’d corpses,  
It distils such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,    
It renews with such unwitting looks, its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,  
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

See you next week, same lefty batting channel. Meanwhile, let's go hit the books comrades--when, that is, we are not working, dancing, frolicking naked across the prairie, etc.
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