Campaigning for Democracy And Socialism
Dumping Migrants in the North: We've Seen This Movie Before
The cartoon to the right is more than 100 years old. But it tells an important story, the racialized legacy of immigration policy throughout much of our history.

The truth is far different. First, from the Mayflower on, migration has been highly problematic regarding settler seizure and expanding occupation of the lands of Native Peoples.

Second, whether expanding or contracting, it has been used in two ways: to expand the economy while reinforcing white Supremacy in how many immigrants are portrayed and treated. It's time to expose the GOP's gimmicks as racist ploys. But it's also past time for progressive immigration reform. It has a firm basis. Migrants are nearly all workers seeking a better life. We do best to organize them to make common cause with US workers seeking the same goals.

Please send us your letters, comments, queries, complaints, new ideas. Just keep them short and civil. Longer commentaries and be submitted as articles.

Click Here to send a letter


We're going to try something new, and you are all invited.

Saturday Morning Coffee!

Starting Sat Aug 13, then weekly going forward.

It will be more of a hangout than a formal setting. We can review the news in the previous days' Leftlinks, or add new topic. We can invite guests, or just carry on with those who show up. We'll try to have a progressive stack keeper, should we need one. Morst of all, we will try to be interesting and a good sounding board. If you have at point you would like to make or a guest to invite, send an email to Carl Davidson,

Starting Aug 13 and continuing weekly, 10:30 to Noon, EDT. The Zoom link will also be available on our Facebook Page.

Meeting ID: 868 9706 5843

Let's see what happens!
Critique of the Gotha Program

By Karl Marx
Translated by Kevin B. Anderson
Translated by Karel Ludenhoff Introduction by Peter Hudis Foreword by Peter Linebaugh
Paperback: $15.95 $12.76
e-Book: $8.95 $7.16
Save 20% with coupon code SEPTEMBER until 10/01

Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program is a revelation. It offers the fullest elaboration of his vision for a communist future, free from the shackles of capital but also the state.

Neglected by the statist versions of socialism, whether social democratic or Stalinist that left a wreckage of coercion and disillusionment in their wake, this new annotated translation of Marx’s Critique makes clear for the first time the full emancipatory scope of his notion of life after capitalism.

An erudite new introduction by Peter Hudis plumbs the depth of Marx’s argument, elucidating how his vision of communism, and the transition to it, was thoroughly democratic. This definitive edition also includes an afterword by Peter Linebaugh and other supplementary materials. At a time when the rule of capital is being questioned and challenged, this volume presents Marx at his most liberatory, offering an essential contribution to a philosophically grounded alternative to capitalism, rather than piecemeal reforms.
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Photo: Two unidentified women, residents of Hyannis, Mass., help some of the nine children of Lela Mae Williams (not in photo) off the bus, June 8, 1962 at Hyannis on their arrival from Huttig, Arkansas. The residents are trying to make the newcomers feel at home. They consider the blacks as pawns in White Citizens Councils? efforts to embarrass President Kennedy and his family, who summer in Hyannis. (AP Photo/Frank C. Curtin)

Immigrant Dumping: Ron Desantis And Greg Abbott Are Taking
A Page Straight Out Of The White Citizens Council Playbook

By Laura Clawson
Daily Kos Staff

Sept 15, 2022 - When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lured migrants onto a plane in Texas with promises that they would find jobs and work papers in Boston, then dropped them in Martha’s Vineyard, he was echoing an earlier history that shows exactly who he is. Massachusetts state Sen. Julian Cyr immediately identified the similarities to the “reverse freedom rides” of the early 1960s, when segregationist politicians in Arkansas and other southern states bused Black families north to make a political point. That ugly history is very much at play as Republican politicians today bus and fly migrants to Illinois, New York, Washington, D.C., and now Martha’s Vineyard.

“For many years, certain politicians, educators, and certain religious leaders have used the white people of the South as a whipping boy, to put it mildly, to further their own ends and their political campaigns,” Amis Guthridge, one of the architects of the reverse freedom rides, is quoted in an in-depth 2019 piece by Gabrielle Emanuel at GBH News. “We’re going to find out if people like Ted Kennedy … and the Kennedys, all of them, really do have an interest in the Negro people, really do have a love for the Negro.”

Hundreds of Black people, mostly from Arkansas and Louisiana, were misled or, in some cases, coerced onto buses north, ending up in states from California to New Hampshire. But the largest number, nearly 100, were sent to Hyannis, Massachusetts. Because when Amis Guthridge said, “We’re going to find out if people like Ted Kennedy … and the Kennedys, all of them, really do have an interest in the Negro people, really do have a love for the Negro,” he was intending to send people literally to the Kennedys’ doorstep, or anyway to the bus stop closest to where the Kennedys spent their summers, telling them they would meet President John Kennedy when they arrived.
Photo: Migrants are supplied with water bottles and stand outside St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Edgartown. (Ray Ewing/The Vineyard Gazette)

Now, we’ve got Ron DeSantis lying to migrants and sending them to where former President Barack Obama vacations in the summer. It’s eerie how the racists of today are replaying a largely forgotten campaign of the racists of the past.

Compare that quote from Guthridge decades ago with this one from DeSantis on Thursday: “Every community in America should be sharing in the burdens. It shouldn’t all fall on a handful of red states,” he told reporters. Other states “don’t like it as much when you get just a small, small, small amount compared to what these folks have dealt with in Texas and in other states.”

The racists of the 1960s had reporters waiting to meet Black southerners at the bus stop in Hyannis. The racists of the 2020s are taking advantage of technology: DeSantis sent a videographer on the plane to Martha’s Vineyard.

The racists of the 1960s threatened to take people off welfare rolls and promised that housing and jobs would be waiting for them. DeSantis had people told they would get work papers and jobs, and had the charter plane pilot tell them mid-flight that they were not going to Boston as promised.

Watching Texas Gov. Greg Abbott turn this project into major far-right street cred, DeSantis was so desperate to get the headlines from treating vulnerable migrants as political pawns that he used Florida taxpayer money to get migrants out of Texas. After the Martha’s Vineyard flight on Wednesday, Abbott had buses drop migrants off in front of the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, who represents San Antonio, where the migrants started their day before being flown to Martha’s Vineyard, tweeted, “The Department of Justice needs to investigate Governor DeSantis for using fraud and deception to lure people out of state only to abandon them without fulfilling his false promises. Same for Greg Abbott. They’re engaging in human trafficking.”

DeSantis and Abbott are also probably grasping at a way to get attention that distracts from abortion, since it’s become clear that punitive abortion policies are not an electoral boost for Republicans overall right now—as much as it might help in a Republican primary. But, as is the case with virtually every Republican policy these days, the cruelty is the point. Lying to people with nothing and dropping them on an island with scarce and expensive housing and no access to the promised resources is simply cruel. It’s the kind of thing you do if you enjoy other people’s suffering. As DeSantis and Abbott clearly do. ...Read More
Photo: Biden speaking in Pittsburgh

Most Americans See Trump's MAGA As Threat To Democracy: Reuters Poll

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Days after Democratic President Joe Biden gave a fiery speech attacking former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies as an extremist threat, a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Wednesday found a majority of Americans believe Trump's movement is undermining democracy.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents in the two-day poll - including one in four Republicans - said Trump's "Make America Great Again" movement is threatening America's democratic foundations.

Biden's Sept. 1 speech marked a sharp turn for his efforts to boost Democrats in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when Republicans aim to win control of the U.S. Congress. read more

Speaking in Pennsylvania, a key electoral battleground, Biden urged voters to reject Trump and extremism. Republican leaders, including House of Representatives minority leader Kevin McCarthy, responded by calling Biden divisive.

The poll highlights the sharply polarized state of U.S. politics.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said Biden's speech will further divide the country, though just about half of respondents said they didn't watch or follow the speech at all.

While Trump remains popular among Republicans, his standing within the party has suffered since a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in a bid to stop lawmakers from certifying Biden's election victory.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 60% of Republicans don't think Trump's MAGA movement represents the majority of the party.

Biden's own approval ratings remain low, despite a string of recent legislative achievements. Just 39% percent of respondents said they approve of Biden's job performance as president, a level not far above the lowest levels Trump had during his presidency.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted online in English throughout the United States, gathered responses from 1,003 adults, including 411 Democrats and 397 Republicans. It has a credibility interval - a measure of precision - of four percentage points. ...Read More
Banning Nuclear Weapons: Ukrainian Student Yelyzaveta Khodorovska Delivers ICAN Statement To NPT Review Conference

ICAN statement to NPT Review Conference 2022
SEPT 01, 2022
On August 5th 2022, ICAN's statement to the 10th Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty was delivered by Yelyzaveta Khodorovska, a student and young nuclear weapons scholar from Ukraine. The full statement, co-authored by Yelyzaveta Khodorovska, Valeriia Hesse, and ICAN can be read in full below. 

I am Liza, I am 18 years old and I’m speaking on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). I am also speaking as a representative of Ukrainian youth. Russia’s war against Ukraine and the realities of nuclear threats bring me to New York. How do I feel about being here now? I feel grateful for the opportunity to be heard, to be a voice of youth. At the same time, I feel pain. I am Liza, I am 18 years old, I am a voice of Ukrainian youth.

Most Ukrainians like me did not believe that this war was possible. We never imagined that we will be suffering from a brutal aggression reminiscent of the colonial era, coupled with inhumane crimes and torture that break every law of war, all made possible by the terrorizing threats to use nuclear weapons.

But here we are. Do Ukrainians now believe that the Russian government's nuclear threats are real? Unfortunately, we do. Through the five months of this cruel war, we realize that there is no limit to how far toward the unimaginable they can go. An NPT nuclear-weapon state threatens to use its nuclear arsenal not only against a sovereign NPT non-nuclear-weapon state, but against anyone who dares to intervene in the conflict to help protect innocent lives. Nuclear weapons are killing people in Ukraine even when they are not used because Russia is utilizing nuclear deterrence as a shield to protect its atrocities.

This is unacceptable. As parties to the NPT, it is your job to condemn this and all nuclear threats, and to make sure it never happens again. Otherwise, what is the point of this conference?

Fifty-two years since the Treaty’s entry into force, we see that the international security system has failed to do what it is supposed to do, totally paralyzed by a nuclear-armed veto-holder. Nuclear-weapon states have failed to fulfill their disarmament obligations, yet nuclear deterrence has worked – to deter the enforcement of human rights, to deter justice, to deter help, to deter the hope my generation should feel.

I feel that the nuclear-weapon states have turned their back on the NPT, not living up to their commitments. China and Russia are increasing their arsenals, and the United Kingdom has raised the cap on the maximum number of warheads by 40%. All the nuclear-armed countries are fueling a new nuclear arms race by spending $82 billion on nuclear weapons in 2021 alone, including building new and more dangerous weapons.

But it is not just the nuclear-weapon states. None of the non-nuclear-weapon states that rely on extended nuclear deterrence (the “nuclear umbrella”) have taken any steps towards reducing their reliance on nuclear weapons. Instead, more states come under the “umbrella,” moving in the opposite direction. Moreover, Belarus is offering to host nuclear weapons on its territory.

What signal does this send to the world? That these countries think security is impossible without nuclear weapons? Is it not why we hear North Korea declare its readiness to use its nuclear potential? Must we actually see nuclear weapons used again before we finally make real efforts to end this nuclear tyranny? We cannot risk it: the next time could be the last time, ending the whole world too.

Dangerous thinking

Believing that a nuclear exchange can be limited is a dangerous thought, there are too many risks that it will not be. And even if it will, how can we let so many people endure so much pain for generations? Radiation knows no borders, and our globalized world knows no isolation from the socioeconomic catastrophe of even a limited nuclear conflict. We know the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons too well: nuclear use brought tremendous suffering in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the consequences of nuclear testing still haunt the people of Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands, and elsewhere.

I feel that people have forgotten the horrors that the use of nuclear weapons brings. Think about it: the world has erased the collective memories of 1938 and appeased the aggressor in 2014 again. Humanity did not learn from the past and let a big war happen in Europe in 2022. Do we really want to repeat the use of nuclear weapons as well, this time risking to be wiped out from our planet? We must stop this, and for the sake of future generations, we cannot afford to wait.

It can be done. It is not some dream. The NPT review conference was postponed due to the global pandemic and 2022, by an unlucky coincidence, highlighted that nuclear threats can be confronted, must be condemned, and must be stopped. There is a unique opportunity for brave decisions: many countries here have already shown the way, by creating the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Now nuclear weapons, like chemical and biological weapons, are comprehensively prohibited by international law. I want to thank the 66 TPNW member states that confronted and unequivocally condemned nuclear threats by adopting the Vienna Declaration and that made a plan for disarmament by adopting the 50 point Vienna Action Plan. They are making the NPT stronger, they are advancing the disarmament obligations in the treaty. I urge all NPT members to strengthen this synergy by signing and ratifying the TPNW.

Why am I here? I am Liza, I am 18 years old, I am Ukrainian, and I do hope for the safe future of my country and the world. The future with less fear. The future with no nuclear war. The future with no nuclear weapons. ...Read More More info from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
Digging Deeper into the Current Conjuncture:
Look Out: How the GOP’s Newest Anti-Voting Scam Works

Purging Democratic voters
from the rolls has now gone nationwide, at least in states where voting is controlled by Republicans

By Thom Hartmann  
The Hartmann Report

Sept 14, 2022 - Get ready. If you’re a Democratic voter, there’s a chance you’ll show up to vote this November and discover you can’t because you’re no longer registered. Millions will be blindsided this way, and it could turn elections toward Republicans across the nation.

America hates GOP policies of banning abortion, gifting the morbidly rich with trillions in tax cuts, denying climate change and blocking any remedies to it, and filling our cities with guns. So, Republicans know, the only way they can win in many places is to simply prevent people from voting.

As Heritage Foundation co-founder Paul Weyrich said back in 1980, “Quite frankly, our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down.“

Thus, Republicans are coming for your vote with a ferocity not seen since Southern efforts during Reconstruction. In addition to their hundreds of new laws and rules having to do with voter ID, moving or closing polling places, and gutting people’s ability to get absentee ballots, they’ve adopted poll-scrubbing tactics that have already shown they can cut Democratic votes and hand elections to Republicans.

They’re doing it with a new sophistication, going way beyond simply requiring voters to count jellybeans or recite the Constitution verbatim. Now, with a big boost from five Republicans on the Supreme Court, they’re using the scientific method to prevent Democratic-leaning citizens from voting.

Here’s how newest scam works, in a nutshell.

People who lose pay when they take time off work — largely working-class and working-poor people — are less likely to vote every cycle, particularly in elections that don’t seem crucial, like midterm elections. After all, it costs them money to take time off work to vote, and over a century of white people imposing poll taxes on Black people proved that making voting expensive reduces voter turnout among working-class people.

Forcing people to pay to vote is called a poll tax. It should be illegal, but Sam Alito and four other corrupt Republicans on the Supreme Court recently gave a new way of preventing working people from voting their seal of approval. It is, arguably, a new type of poll tax because it almost exclusively hits working-class and poor people.

Poll taxes became a big thing in the wake of the collapse of Reconstruction in the 1880s, with most states that used them offering an “exception” to the tax for anybody who “declared” that their ancestors had voted before the Civil War. Because prior to the Civil War, the voting populace was 100% white in the South, the effect of that exception was that the poll tax fell entirely on the newly-enfranchised Black voters.

If only we could bring back the poll tax, Republicans thought, things would be good! After all, it was only abolished with the passage of the 24th Amendment in 1964 and 5 southern states continued to use poll taxes against Black voters until the new amendment was tested before the Supreme Court in 1966.

If they could only figure out a way to use the “cost of voting” borne by working-class people to keep them from voting or — even better! — kick them off the voting rolls altogether, Republicans could more easily win elections.

One of their previous strategies to suppress the vote of poor and working-class people had been to put so few voting machines and polling places in Black and predominately-Democratic voting precincts that lines to vote could run two, three, or even ten hours long. It was successful for years in cutting back poor and working-class voting participation.

But over the last decade or two, there’s been a lot of push-back against this widespread practice as those long lines were getting publicity; there had to be a way to pull it off that was less visible, less likely to be called out, less likely to arouse outrage in the media.

But what would that be, and how to pull it off?

The answer, it turns out, was simple and elegant.

Ohio Republican Secretary of State John Husted figured out the magic formula and took it all the way to the Supreme Court in 2018, where 5 corrupt Republicans gave it their seal of approval (in defiance of federal law — the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 — and the 24th Amendment).

Husted knew that people paid by the hour were both more likely to be Democratic voters and, because voting cost them money, were less likely to vote in every election.

So, he reasoned, if he could simply use the failure to vote in previous elections as the trigger to purge those working-class citizens from the voting rolls, everything would work out better for Republicans because it would mostly trap working-class and poor people.

After all, people who are paid salaries — and, thus, don’t lose pay when they take time off to vote — tend to vote in every election; it’s a habit in part because it’s cost-free. And those salaried people are more likely to be upper-middle class white people, who make up the voting base of the Republican Party. ...Read More
Photo: Person in a stop the steal cowboy hat at the Protect Our Elections Rally at the Arizona Federal Theater in Phoenix, AZ. Getty Images

How The Big Lie Poison Continues To Spread — And Why It's Getting Worse

Reason and truth will never defeat the Big Lie — its supporters are waging a religious war against democracy

By Chauncey Devega

SEPT 16, 2022 - Donald Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election — which is now supported by most of the Republican Party — continues to spread across America. This infection of the mind, heart, brain, and spirit now inflicts tens of millions of Americans.

The Big Lie is animated by one absurd but intractable assumption: America is not a "real" democracy unless the Republicans win. All other electoral and political outcomes are fraudulent, illegal or otherwise illegitimate. When Republicans "win," even if through blatant illegality and fraud, democracy is "working." When they lose, it is critically damaged or broken.

As with other fascistic and authoritarian movements, democracy is not understood as an ideal and norm to be nurtured, maintained, and protected. It is just a means to an end, a convenient tool for amassing as much power as possible with as few restrictions as possible. Effectively, democracy is a pathway to the destruction of democracy from within.

The Big Lie and the assault on American democracy is also racialized. The votes of Black people and other nonwhite groups are a priori to be suspect, inferior and illegitimate compared to the votes of white people — more specifically, the votes of white "Christian" conservatives and other "real Americans."

However Joe Biden and other pro-democracy leaders seek to massage the situation, there is no distinction between "MAGA Republicans" and any other kind. In its embrace of the Big Lie and its general contempt for democracy, civil rights, truth, empirical reality, and any shared norms of human decency, the Republican Party has fully surrendered to racial authoritarianism.

In a recent series of posts on Twitter, David Atkins, a writer for Washington Monthly, offered the following observations on the Republican-fascists and their vision of America:

  • They see social and demographic changes as itself cheating them out of their birthright, such that any insurrection and fascism is a justified response. They have no birthright, none beyond the same citizenship as the rest of us, and the basic rights we all have as humans.

  • Nothing has been taken from them, because none of it ever belonged to them in the first place. Insofar as equity feels like oppression to them — too bad. Their prior advantages existed & exist not by right but by theft. The fact that they have lost the culture is their problem.

  • The fact that most people live in cities is their problem. The fact that almost everyone under 45 hates them is their problem. The fact that the pews are emptying is their problem. The fact that not even corporate America or pro sports likes them anymore? Their problem. 

  • What "Make America Great Again" means is "give us our hegemony back and hurt all the people we fear and see as a threat." Too bad. We all exist in this big country together. With equal rights, social protections and equity. They are owed nothing more than the rest of us.

  • They see their fascist insurrection as a necessary counterreformation to re-establish their genetic, chromosomal and God-given birthright. They have no genetic, chromosomal or God-given birthright to rule. They never have. The very notion deserves maximum scorn.

Where are we now with the spreading poison of the Big Lie? CNN reports that 19 of the 35 U.S. Senate seats being contested this year feature Republican nominees who "have challenged the legitimacy of the 2020 election — rejecting, raising doubts about or taking steps to overturn President Joe Biden's victory." That list "includes five incumbent senators and 11 other candidates who have at least a reasonable chance of winning in November":

  • The success of election deniers in Republican Senate primaries around the country — from the southern border to the northern border; in swing states, conservative states and liberal states; among established officeholders and first-time candidates — is yet more evidence of the broad support among party voters for former President Donald Trump's lie that the election was stolen.

  • The 19 Republican Senate nominees on this list of election deniers and doubters join at least 11 Republican nominees for state secretary of state and at least 22 Republican nominees for governor….

Last month, the Washington Post reported that the winners of this year's state-level Republican primaries "fit a pattern: Across the battleground states that decided the 2020 vote, candidates who deny the legitimacy of that election have claimed nearly two-thirds of GOP nominations for state and federal offices with authority over elections" ...Read More
Photo: The Savannah Bananas cheer on the field before their Minor League Baseball away game against the Kansas City Monarchs on May 6, 2022. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Victory! Minor League Baseball Players Are Finally Unionized

Thanks to grassroots organizing, which much of the media is ignoring, minor leaguers will now join the Major League Players Association.

By Dave Zirin
The Nation

Sept 15, 2022 - It is a historic day in the annals of both sports and labor history. Minor League Baseball players, some of the most precariously positioned workers in this country, have voted to join the Major League Baseball Players Association. For the first time in the 120-year history of Minor League Baseball, the players are part of a union.

This election is seismic for the lives of the players. Unions make working-class jobs better, and Minor League Baseball players could certainly use a dose of “better.” Their average salaries can run as low as $10,000 per year for the full season, and they are left with nothing if they are thrown on the scrap heap for a teenage prospect. These conditions in the minor leagues worsened as Major League Baseball secured record-breaking television contracts and profits galore.

This overwhelming union vote—which will not be challenged by the Major League Baseball owners nor brought to the NLRB—comes after several other victories in the past year that have increased the confidence of minor league players to push for representation. Only this year(!) did Major League Baseball agree to provide housing for these players, who had been left on their own trying to figure out how to live and find shelter. Also, the league was finally forced in August to settle an eight-year-old federal lawsuit brought by the minor leaguers that alleged widespread violations of minimum wage laws. The settlement of $185 million—after lawyer fees—will be dispersed among 23,000 players.

And now we have a union. To understand how this came to pass, one must first disregard the headline from the Associated Press, which reads, “Minor leaguers form union, 17 days after organizing began.” This fight has been going on a great deal longer than just 17 days, spurred by minor league players agitating and organizing against conditions that would be unacceptable in any other occupation. This has included posting pictures on social media of team meals that look like Oliver Twist meets the Fyre Festival.

Bill Fletcher Jr., a Nation editorial board member and the outgoing chairperson of the board of the Advocates for Minor Leaguers, told me, “This is the result of work going back years which changed the climate of the country when it came to its perceptions of Minor League baseball players.… Ultimately, the MLBPA stepped up to the plate—no pun intended—and undertook the organizing. But the prior work laid the foundations and systematically isolated [Major League Baseball], demonstrating time and again that owner greed undermines the sport of baseball. I am so very proud of those who have tirelessly worked on this project, people who join with others across the USA raising up the struggle around economic and social justice and, ultimately, unionization!”

Simon Rosenblum-Larson, a recently released minor leaguer and cofounder of More Than Baseball, agrees with Fletcher. He told me, for a piece in The Progressive, “When I was drafted in 2018, players rarely talked about the poor working conditions, much less a union. Since that time, players have organized. We have built on-the-ground networks of solidarity, and ballplayers have spoken out, saying enough is enough to the poverty-level wages, the exploitative contract structure, and the hundreds of hours of unpaid work they’re forced into.”

Even Tony Clark, executive director of the MLB Players Association, acknowledged that this was not a case of the MLBPA swooping down from on high to organize passive laborers but has been the result of grassroots organizing. Clark said, “This historic achievement required the right group of players at the right moment to succeed. Minor leaguers have courageously seized that moment, and we look forward to improving their terms and conditions of employment through the process of good faith collective bargaining.”

The unionization of minor leaguers hasn’t happened in a vacuum. Labor in this country is, to recall the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, sick and tired of being sick and tired. As economic and social inequality have worsened during the Biden administration, these players are a part of a broader restiveness.

I reached out to one of the great labor historians in the United States, Peter Rachleff, for some perspective about what we were seeing. He told me, “The seemingly sudden unionization of 5,000 minor league baseball players is best understood as part and parcel of the impressive upsurge of organizing by workers who are securing the pandemic’s place as a compelling chapter in American labor history. In the 1930s, African American migrants from the South joined with the children of southern and eastern European immigrants to create industrial unions across basic industry. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the civil rights and women’s movements led working women and men in the formerly non-union public sector to discover the power and pleasure of collective organization. And now, in the past two and a half years, movements for racial justice and the protection of workers’ safety have inspired a new generation of workers to undertake organization from Starbucks coffee shops, retail bookstores, and museums to Amazon warehouses, Silicon Valley, and congressional staffs. Minor league baseball players, long underpaid, abused, and disrespected, are making their path into the labor movement and into the history books—and into a more stable and secure livelihood.”

Rachleff nails it. We have seen Starbucks and Amazon, two of the most ubiquitous brands in this country, challenged by labor drives and the fight for union power. We just saw threats of a national rail workers strike, which led with bare-bones demands like “no disciplinary action for missing work because of medical emergencies.” Now we can add Minor League Baseball players to this revolt of mistreated, precarious laborers who have found success through solidarity and organizing. Being a minor league athlete is an exhausting existence of long bus rides and Styrofoam containers. It’s also a job where you can be dismissed at a moment’s notice and have to rebuild your life. Now, these unheard people will finally have a voice. ...Read More
Photo: Federal Party Congress of Die Linke in Hanover, Germany on 9 June 2017,(Photo: Flickr / DIE Linke)

A Strong Die Linke Is Possible and Needed!

Ten challenges to rebuilding the party as a force for democratic socialism and solidarity

The Working Group on the Future of Die Linke  
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation via Portside

Sept 12, 2022 - When it was founded 15 years ago, on 16 June 2007, the German socialist party Die Linke inspired socialists and progressives across Europe as a chance to reunite and rebuild the Left in the European Union’s most populous and most powerful country. Today, however, the party finds itself in a deep crisis, with its electoral fortunes and, increasingly, its future existence as a nationwide political force on the line.

In order to facilitate strategic discussion and political clarification within the party, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, as Die Linke’s affiliated political foundation, established a Working Group on the Future of Die Linke to take a closer, empirically guided look at the party’s problems and potentials. Below is a shortened version of one of its first findings. You can find the full-length paper in German here.

The situation in which Die Linke finds itself is characterized by glaring contradictions: it has considerable potential to reach nearly one-fifth of the electorate, and yet it receives fewer and fewer votes. Although Die Linke has gained 30,000 new, mostly young members over the last ten years, it has not kept up with other parties. While its social campaigns garner widespread support, the party itself does not.

The people who need social protection the most and who value social justice above all do not regard Die Linke as a relevant point of reference or as representing them politically. Searching for alternatives to capitalism is important to one-third of the population, but the socialist party Die Linke is not. Die Linke wants to be the left-wing party, but the positions it has adopted on all the major issues in recent years (migration, climate change, the coronavirus, the war in Ukraine) have been inconsistent and contradictory. These contradictions pose a challenge to the integrity and continued existence of the party. At the same time, as a force for solidarity in times of crisis and upheaval, Die Linke is urgently needed, but only if it can overcome the following ten challenges.

The first and most urgent challenge is, without a doubt, that of building a centralized strategic party leadership that unites the national party and its representatives in the German parliament, the Bundestag. The future of Die Linke depends on its completion of this task in 2022.

No new permanent entity was created after the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice (WASG) merged. The party is made up of three sub-projects: a left-wing social-democratic project (focused in the West), a left-wing movement that functions as a reference point for younger and more activism-oriented elements in the party, and the internally complex reformist camp (primarily in the East). These three sub-projects have thus far operated in an uncoordinated manner alongside and sometimes against one another. If the upcoming party congress does not prioritize establishing strategic unity, Die Linke will fail as a party.

Second, Die Linke needs to reflect on its core brand as a socialist justice party. The PDS, WASG, and Die Linke always excelled when they emphasized compelling positions on social justice issues. Some 96 percent of German citizens believe that wealth is not fairly distributed in Germany. Climate change is a social justice issue for the next generation, and 72 percent of the population wants to see radical change in this regard.

Social justice is a contemporary issue! But people lack confidence in Die Linke’s ability to take a practical approach to achieving social justice. Only three percent of the German population trusts Die Linke in matters of environmental and climate policy, only one percent with respect to economic policy, and two percent where digitalization is concerned. Die Linke is not perceived as the party of the future.

Third, under the current circumstances, Die Linke can only position itself as the party of socialist justice if it can distinguish itself as the party of systemic social-ecological change and the party invariably in favor of peace. We are living in the age of crisis capitalism and, increasingly, also of disaster and war capitalism. System change, not climate change, presents an appropriate solution to our predicament. Ecological and social demands must be linked together, and the concept of a “just transition” captures both sides of that demand. Economic democracy is inseparable from social-ecological transformation.

All of this points toward the need for a fundamental change in the ways that economies, social systems, power, and property relations are regulated. It also points toward a new mode of production and living, one which would entail a systemic change that takes both peace and security policy into account. Die Linke should be a driving force in the creation of a new international security architecture under UN leadership, one that outlaws atomic, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction. Scaling back war and military conflict is a basic precondition for social-ecological transformation.

Fourth, it is urgently necessary to counter the current crises of capitalism with a combination of social protections, a plan for social transformation, and the implementation of a necessary system change. Die Linke will only become a practical and useful component of Germany’s political system when it can convincingly represent a position that brings these aspects together.

The desire for social security and an orientation toward the future go hand in hand. The demand for a comprehensive transformation of the prevailing modes of production and living needs to be combined with a concrete, credible promise of security. Without a commitment to security and a guarantee that the job market will be reliable, there can be no justice amidst the transformation.

Fifth, the foundation for any such combination of protection, planning, and systemic change must be built on a coalition in which the middle and working classes stand in solidarity. Like all left-wing organizations, Die Linke must confront the fact that capitalist competition divides classes of wage laborers: at the regional, national, European, and global levels, and along the lines of gender, identity, age, citizenship status, and skin color.

Left-wing parties must foster links of solidarity between more privileged social groups with the vulnerable lower-middle class and those lower on the social ladder. That is the only way that popular initiatives and large left-wing parties can develop. It is precisely these groups, which should jointly form the basis of a left wing that is capable of taking meaningful action, that are, on the one hand, united by their class position (particularly with respect to demands for a just configuration of society) and, on the other hand, culturally divided. The more privileged sectors of society in particular should be responsible for establishing connections with those from the lower strata. ...Read More
Photo: A high school teacher talks to a senior student at a high school in Putian, Fujian province, Oct. 10, 2021. Xu Jinshan/VCG

In 2022, China’s Students Are Struggling to Cope. So Are Their Teachers

China is growing increasingly concerned about a spike in mental health problems among students. But “zero-COVID” is taking a shocking toll on teachers, too.

By Fan Yiying and Chen Jiangyi
Sixth Tone, China

Sept 09, 2022 - When Yu moved to the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou to start her first teaching job in 2021, she arrived full of hope and idealism. The fresh graduate was determined to educate the next generation and treat every teenager under her care as an individual.

That didn’t last long. Within weeks, Yu found herself struggling to cope. She had 80 students to teach, a rigid, exam-oriented curriculum to follow, and intense pressure to hit wildly ambitious grade targets. She began to suffer from anxiety.

“I felt like a machine and the students were molds,” says Yu, who spoke with Sixth Tone using a pseudonym for privacy reasons. “In my first year at work, I cried every day. There were a lot of things I couldn’t adapt to.”

China has grown increasingly concerned about its students’ mental health over recent years. In 2020, researchers affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences estimated that nearly 25% of the country’s teenagers were living with some form of depression — a finding that triggered a wave of reforms to improve psychological support services inside Chinese schools.

Yet less attention has been paid to the growing mental health crisis affecting teachers. Many Chinese educators were already struggling before 2020, as schools and pushy parents exerted relentless pressure to boost students’ scores in the country’s all-important national exams. But things have gotten far worse during the pandemic.

Like elsewhere, lockdowns and online teaching sent teachers’ stress levels soaring in China. But unlike most countries, the pandemic “new normal” never ended. This month saw China’s schools return for a third academic year under “zero-COVID” restrictions. Snap lockdowns and time-consuming virus-control protocols remain common.

Meanwhile, the “double reduction” campaign — which effectively eliminated the country’s massive private tutoring industry — has made teachers’ jobs even harder this year. Before, millions of parents paid tutors to help their children ace their exams. Now, the tutors are (mostly) gone, but parents and schools still expect students to achieve the same results. For teachers, this means more work, more pressure, and less time off.

Many can’t handle the stress. A study published last year found that over 75% of Chinese teachers experienced moderate to severe anxiety, while 34.4% of primary school teachers and 28.3% of middle school teachers are at high risk of suffering depression. The problem has become so prevalent, it was even mentioned during this year’s “Two Sessions” — China’s biggest annual political meeting — with policymakers acknowledging that teachers are “more tired” and “more anxious than before.”

Ahead of Teachers’ Day, which China observes each Sept. 10, Sixth Tone spoke with 10 educators from across the country. Most of them are working longer hours than before due to the pandemic or the “double reduction” campaign and suffering from stress and anxiety as a result. Yet many said their schools offered little support, with mental health services tending to focus on students.

Instead, many teachers bottle up their problems, as there is a strong cultural pressure in China for teachers to be endlessly self-sacrificing and devoted. Liu Shengnan, an associate professor at a Shanghai-based university who specializes in education, says it’s still common for Chinese teachers to have to deal with their mental health issues alone.

For Yu, the main source of stress is the exam that has been the bane of Chinese educators for decades: the national college entrance examination, or gaokao.

The year leading up to the test involves day after day of intense cramming — and it’s just as grueling for the teachers as the students. Yu works from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays, and also has classes on Saturdays. Her fate depends on her students’ scores, as schools in China are judged almost entirely on their gaokao results.

“The admission rate for the gaokao affects the number of students applying to our high school,” says Yu. “School leaders pay great attention to senior students’ scores and rankings.”

Teachers with students in senior year are watched closely, Yu says. School leaders often open the classroom door to listen to classes without warning, check Yu’s teaching plans randomly, and ask students how their homework is graded.

“If we don’t teach or perform well, we’ll be suspended from class or transferred to teach 10th grade,” she says. “This could actually cause great psychological damage to teachers.”

But the school does almost nothing to help teachers deal with the mental strain, Yu says. It offers no activities or guidance related to mental health. Yu often feels that she’s not treated like a person who deserves care.

“You just keep working,” she says. “You are like a tool.”

Xu Hanping, a psychology teacher at a primary school in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has spent years working on mental health in different schools, trying to convince principals to take the issue more seriously. He says this cold, results-oriented culture remains common — especially in rural parts of China.

“In these cases, both students and teachers have fallen victim to exam-oriented education,” says Xu.

In Xu’s experience, teachers in China often struggle with similar problems as their peers elsewhere: Their feeling that their work is undervalued; tense relationships with school principals, colleagues, students, and parents; or the strain of physical illness as they age. But some cultural factors can make things even more challenging for Chinese educators.

One is the entrenched belief that teaching is akin to being an “engineer of the human soul” and “the most glorious occupation under the sun.” Many teachers are “morally kidnapped” by these values, Xu says.

“It implies that teachers can only burn themselves, and illuminate others — they can only sacrifice without asking for anything in return,” he says. “Teachers need a life and emotional care, too.”

The pandemic has also hit China’s education system hard, according to Xu. Online teaching has brought massive disruption, with teachers finding it impossible to maintain the same quality of education. Yet parents have often refused to acknowledge these difficulties: Whenever their children’s grades slip, they blame the school — and the school blames the teachers, Xu says.

“It feels unjust to teachers,” he says. “They actually sacrifice more during online teaching, but still receive unfair criticism from their leaders.”

Most Chinese schools are now resuming in-classroom teaching — although many areas remain under lockdown — but COVID-19 controls continue to dominate school life.

Zhou, a 26-year-old middle school teacher in Shanghai, says at her school teachers have to check their students’ health codes almost every day. School staff are also responsible for giving students PCR tests, and there are frequent meetings to discuss virus-suppression measures.

“Pandemic control and prevention is placed above everything else,” says Zhou, who also spoke with Sixth Tone using a pseudonym for privacy reasons.

Some 2,000 kilometers away in the southwestern Yunnan province, high school English teacher Liu — who isn’t related to Liu Shengnan — tells Sixth Tone that she’s also exhausted by the pandemic policies.

Liu is starting her third year teaching at a boarding school. She already worked long hours: Each week, she takes 14 classes and supervises two evening “self-study” sessions, and she doesn’t finish work until the students return to their dormitories at 10:50 p.m. Now, it feels like the pandemic measures are swallowing up much of her remaining down time.

“Studying documents related to the pandemic has taken over teachers’ time to rest,” says Liu, who declined to give her full name. “Plus, the teachers and students have all been locked down inside the school even during the summer and winter vacations.”

Worse, Liu tells Sixth Tone that she also hasn’t been paid on time due to the economic slowdown caused by this year’s wave of lockdowns.

The emotional strain is affecting Liu’s teaching. When she’s struggling to cope, she finds it difficult not to let it show in class, she says. She tries to assign students tasks or get them to recite a text when she’s feeling particularly low.

“At best, I continue to pretend to smile,” says Liu. “But it’s impossible for me to give a passionate lesson.”

Teachers face a high risk of occupational burnout, as they tend to care passionately about their work, says Chen Zhiyan, professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Psychology.

“A teacher may hold lofty professional ideals and want to influence the next generation. However, if the reality of work and the results aren’t what they expected, they often find it difficult to adapt to this discrepancy,” says Chen. “Then, they will have some emotional problems and doubt the value of their work.”

For Chen, China needs to take a holistic approach to solve the mental health problems among teachers, treating both the “inward and outward” causes. On the one hand, schools and society as a whole need to reduce the unnecessary pressure placed on teachers, offer more support and protect their welfare. On the other, teachers should improve their mental health literacy and develop the professional skills that would help them to cope more easily. ...Read More
New Journals and Books for Radical Education...
Dialogue & Initiative 2022

Contested Terrains:
Elections, War
& Peace, Labor

Edited by CCDS D&I
Editorial Group

A project of the CCDS Socialist Education Project

228 pages, $10 (discounts available for quantity orders from, or order at :

This annual journal is a selection of essays offering keen insight into electoral politics on the left, vital issues for the peace and justice movements, and labor campaigns.

Click here for the Table of Contents
Social Justice Unionism
25 Years of Theory and Practice

By Liberation Road

This new 222-page book is a collection of articles and essays covering 25 years of organizing in factories and communities by Liberation Road members and allies.

It serves as a vital handbook for a new generation of union organizers on the left looking for practical approaches to connect their work with a wider socialist vision.

Copies are available for $10 plus shipping at Changemaker.

Revolutionary Youth and the
New Working Class

The Praxis Papers,
the Port authority Statement, the RYM Documents and Other Lost Writings of SDS

Edited by Carl Davidson

A Collection of 12 essays featuring some of the most creative and controversial work of
the U.S. New Left
of the late 1960s.

Most items are difficult to find, and in one important case, The Port Authority Statement, written in 1967 to replace the Port Huron Statement, appears here for the first time. Important for today's radical youth.

$20 paper, $3 as an e-book at Changemaker
NOT TO BE MISSED: Short Links To Longer Reads...
Idaho’s Far Right Suffers Election Loss To 18-Year-Old Climate Activist

By Robert Mackey
The Intercept 

Sep 15, 2022 - THE NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN to stifle discussions of race and gender in public schools through misinformation and bullying suffered a reversal in Idaho on Monday, when a high school senior vocally opposed to book bans and smears against LGBTQ+ youth took a seat on the Boise school board.

The student, Shiva Rajbhandari, was elected to the position by voters in Idaho’s capital last week, defeating an incumbent board member who had refused to reject an endorsement from a local extremist group that has harassed students and pushed to censor local libraries.

Rajbhandari, who turned 18 days before the election, was already well-known in the school district as a student organizer on climate, environmental, voting rights, and gun control issues.

But in the closing days of the campaign, his opponent, Steve Schmidt, was endorsed by the far-right Idaho Liberty Dogs, which in response helped Rajbhandari win the endorsement of Boise’s leading newspaper, the Idaho Statesman.

Rajbhandari, a third-generation Idahoan whose father is from Nepal, was elected to a two-year term with 56 percent of the vote.

In an interview, Rajbhandari told The Intercept that although he had hoped people would vote for him rather than against his opponent-– “My campaign was not against Steve Schmidt,” he said–he was nonetheless shocked that Schmidt did not immediately reject the far-right group’s endorsement. “I think that’s what the majority of voters took issue with,” Rajbhandari said.

The Idaho Liberty Dogs, which attacked Rajbhandari on Facebook for being “Pro Masks/Vaccines” and leading protests “which created traffic jams and costed [sic] tax payers money,” spent the summer agitating to have books removed from public libraries in Nampa and Meridian, two cities in the Boise metro area.

But, Rajbhandari said, "...that’s the least of what they’ve done. Last year, there was a kid who brought a gun to Boise High, which is my school, and he got suspended and they organized an armed protest outside our school."

Rajbhandari, who started leading Extinction Rebellion climate protests in Boise when he was 15, is familiar with the group’s tactics. “We used to have climate strikes, like back in ninth grade, and they would come with AR-15s,” he said, bringing rifles to intimidate “a bunch of kids protesting for a livable future.”

So when the Idaho Liberty Dogs called on Boise voters to support Schmidt–-and a slate of other candidates for the school board who, ultimately, all lost–-Rajbhandari told me he texted his rival to say,

"You need to immediately disavow this. This is a hate group,” Rajbhandari says he told Schmidt.

“They intimidate teachers, they are a stain on our schools, and their involvement in this election is a stain on your candidacy.”

Schmidt, however, refused to clearly reject the group, even after the Idaho Liberty Dogs lashed out at a local rabbi who criticized the endorsement by comparing the rabbi to Hitler and claiming that he harbored “an unrelenting hatred for white Christians.”

While the school board election was a hyperlocal one, Rajbhandari is aware that the forces he is battling operate at the state and national level. “Idaho is at the center of this out-of-state-funded far-right attack to try to undermine schools, with the end goal of actually abolishing public education,” Rajbhandari told me.

There’s a group, they’re called the Idaho Freedom Foundation, and they actually control a lot of the political discourse in our legislature. Their primary goal is to get rid of public education and disburse the money to charter schools or get rid of that funding entirely. ...Read More
Photo: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) asks a question at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on August 24, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Tom Brenner-Pool/Getty Images)

'Never Seen Anything Like That': AOC Blasts Male GOP Colleague for Treatment of Female Hearing Witness

'Frankly, men who treat women like that in public,' said the New York Democrat, 'I fear how they treat them in private.'

By Julia Conley
Common Dreams

Sept 15, 2022 - Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday paused before proceeding to her line of questioning at a House Oversight Committee hearing, expressing shock over the treatment Republican Rep. Clay Higgins subjected an expert witness, Raya Salter, to moments earlier.

"Frankly, men who treat women like that in public," said the New York Democrat, "I fear how they treat them in private."

"Small men resort to demeaning tactics when they don't have the wherewithal to act decently."

The committee held a hearing on the tens of billions of dollars oil companies rake in annually and their failure to mitigate the damage their extraction practices are doing to the planet, instead embarking on a "greenwashing campaign" while people in frontline communities across the U.S. and around the world face increasingly extreme weather events fueled by the heating of the planet.

The witnesses included Salter, the founder and executive director of the Energy Justice Law and Policy Center, who spoke about environmental injustice that has plagued communities like those represented by Higgins in southern Louisiana.

Salter noted in her testimony that "the extraction, processing, transportation, refining, and combustion of fossil fuels places disproportionate environmental burdens on Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities."

The industry has also been heavily invested in painting "the consumer, rather than Big Oil, as the primary climate crisis villain," she added.

Instead of addressing Salter's comments on the disproportionate impact oil and gas extraction has on communities of color and low-income people, Higgins illustrated her point by challenging the attorney to comment on the fact that the U.S. economy is heavily reliant on fossil fuel industries.

"Everything you have—your clothes, your glasses, your car you got here on, your phone, the table you're sitting at, the chair, the carpet under your feet—everything you've got is petrochemical products," Higgins said. "What would you do with that? Tell the world."

"What I would do is ask you, sir, from Louisiana, to search your heart and understand why the EPA knows that toxic petrochemical facilities are some of the most toxic polluting facilities in the world and are killing Black people throughout Louisiana," Salter replied.

Higgins later addressed the witness as "boo" and "young lady," telling her, "You got a lot of noise, but you got no answers."

When her turn to question the witnesses came, Ocasio-Cortez addressed Salter.

"In the four years that I have sat on this committee, I have never seen members of Congress, Republican or Democrat, disrespect a witness in the way that I have seen them disrespect you today," the congresswoman said.

"I've never seen anything like that," she added. "And for the gentleman of Louisiana, and the comfort that he felt in yelling at you like that—there's more than one way to get a point across."
Salter thanked the congresswoman for her "leadership and courage" and said Republicans who continue to defend the fossil fuel industry "can come for me all day long." ...Read More
Photo: Antifascist activists hold signs during a counter-demonstration to far-right rally on Aug. 22, 2021 in Portland, Oregon / Mathieu Lewis-Rolland / AFP via Getty Images

How Portland Stopped the
Proud Boys

Portland, Oregon, witnessed early versions of the Proud Boys events that culminated in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; years of anti-fascist organizing and the belated intervention of law enforcement halted their activities in the city

By Robert Evans
New Lines

Sept 5, 2022 - This was the first summer since 2019 that I have not needed to don armor, strap on a gun or load up a first aid kit to go and report in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Since 2017, the Rose City has hosted regular gatherings of far-right militant groups, like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, that degenerate into mass brawls with anti-fascist activists. Violence has been regular enough that some local left-wing activists refer to summer as the “fighting season.” But this year, there were no protests or rallies of note.

While the Pacific Northwest, true to its reputation, has an assortment of bespoke local fascist groups, the Proud Boys, a far-right gang that has been labeled a “terrorist entity” in Canada and New Zealand, have been present at nearly every event.

Their absence from Portland this summer is noteworthy. The opposite has been true for much of the rest of the country. There are more Proud Boys chapters now in the United States than there were on Jan. 6, 2021. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project has tracked more than 200 of their public events around the country since they stormed the U.S. Capitol.

And these events have only grown more violent. In 2020, only 18% of Proud Boy-involved events ended in violence. In 2021, 25% ended in blood and beatings. The range of acceptable targets has broadened as far-right political violence has become normalized.

The Proud Boys and other right-wing paramilitary groups have disrupted school board meetings in at least 12 states. They have crashed LGBTQ-oriented book readings at libraries and harassed pride rallies.

But in 2022, they didn’t show up in Portland. It’s worth looking into why. But if you want a quick answer, here it is: Portland fought back.

The Rose City has a long history as a hotbed of radical activism amid one of the most conservative parts of the country. Portland is the city where local police officers deputized for the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and that President George H.W. Bush nicknamed “Little Beirut” after intense protests against his visit following the Gulf War.

In the 1990s, it was a breeding ground for fascist violence following the murder in 1988 of Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian immigrant, by members of the White Aryan Resistance. Tom Metzger, the group’s founder and a famous Nazi organizer from California, recruited heavily from disaffected young men in Portland. Anti-racist skinheads started organizing in opposition, and over the course of several bloody years, far-right groups were prevented from rallying openly in the city.

This started to change in 2016 with the founding of Patriot Prayer by Washington State native Joey Gibson. Gibson lived in Vancouver, Washington, which is across the river from Portland and effectively a suburb of the city. Like most of non-urban Oregon, it is extremely conservative. At first, Gibson claimed that his organization’s purpose was to “liberate conservatives” from oppression in liberal-dominated cities by hosting prayer vigils, free speech marches and pro-Second Amendment rallies. ...Read More
From the CCDS Socialist Education Project...
A China Reader

Edited by Duncan McFarland

A project of the CCDS Socialist Education Project and Online University of the Left

244 pages, $20 (discounts available for quantity orders from, or order at :

The book is a selection of essays offering keen insight into the nature of China and its social system, its internal debates, and its history. It includes several articles on the US and China and the growing efforts of friendship between the Chinese and American peoples.

Reviewed HERE in MLToday, Click here for the Table of Contents
Taking Down
White Supremacy

Edited by the CCDS
Socialist Education Project

This collection of 20 essays brings together a variety of articles-theoretical, historical, and experiential-that address multi-racial, multi-national unity. The book provides examples theoretically and historically, of efforts to build multi-racial unity in the twentieth century.

166 pages, $12.50 (discounts available for quantity), order at :

  Click here for the Table of contents

Photo: Salton Sea 4, a dry steam geothermal power plant operated by CalEnergy, by the Salton Sea in Calipatria, CA. [Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

‘We Need To Not Have All Our Eggs In One Basket’: Why Geothermal Energy Could Be A Game Changer

Geothermal provides a stable, consistent energy source that’s not dependent on the weather. Experts see huge potential for it—especially in the West.

By Alex Brown
Fast Company

Sept 13, 2022 - Geothermal power currently provides only a tiny fraction of the nation’s electricity. But as states ramp up their transitions to renewable electricity, some leaders see a big role for geothermal as a stable, renewable power source.

Used in the United States since 1960, geothermal plants pipe steam or hot water from deep wells to power turbines that produce electricity. Harnessing underground heat is more expensive than developing wind or solar energy, but experts say the dependable output from sources like geothermal is critical to shore up the grid at times where the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

Many state leaders have focused on battery storage or preserving nuclear plants to complement their wind turbines and solar panels. Some are starting to view geothermal—which currently provides less than half of a percent of the country’s power—as an underutilized power source that can be accessed 24/7.

“[The capacity for geothermal power] is hugely greater than what we’re generating right now,” said Roland Horne, the Thomas Davies Barrow professor of earth sciences at Stanford University. “It’s not intermittent, it runs all the time, and that’s a very compelling advantage.”

Experts say that nearly every Western state could tap into more geothermal power, with potential to produce as much as 5% of the national electricity supply using existing technology. Some emerging systems, if successful, could raise that figure as high as 15%, backers say.
Earlier this summer, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat who chairs the 22-member Western Governors’ Association, announced the group would be launching an initiative to explore expansion of the “underdeveloped” resource. The association will study permitting challenges, workforce issues, markets, and mapping, among other factors.

“[Wind and solar] will likely continue to be the biggest workhorses of powering the grid, but we see a role for low-cost geothermal electric as part of that baseload solution as we phase out coal and natural gas,” Polis said in an interview. “There’s no doubt in my mind that it will play a significant role in the energy future of the West.”

Backers of geothermal energy acknowledge that scaling up the industry likely will require significant public support. That could include guaranteed loans for uncertain well-drilling operations, regulatory overhauls and staffing investments, or even mandates for more “baseload” power plants—whose output remains steady—from renewable sources. While early efforts to support geothermal have enjoyed broad bipartisan support, it’s unclear how far lawmakers are willing to go to tilt the scales in its favor.

As with most energy sources, some geothermal projects have faced pushback from locals who oppose development in certain areas. A tribe in Nevada has fought a proposed project that it fears will damage hot springs it considers sacred, while a plant in Hawaii has long faced community opposition due to noise and hydrogen sulfide leaks.

Meanwhile, states in every region could use geothermal technology to heat and cool buildings, even in areas where the resource is not sufficient to power an electrical plant. Experts say that geothermal heat pumps could reduce the emissions created by natural gas furnaces and other fossil fuel-based heating systems. Earlier this year, lawmakers in New York and Massachusetts passed measures to encourage the adoption of geothermal heating and cooling.


To access geothermal power, engineers must find permeable rock with fractures that contain hot fluid. Most sites that meet that threshold are in the West.

Nevada sources more than 9% of its power from geothermal energy, while California approaches 6%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Those two states produce about 95% of the nation’s geothermal power, with Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah contributing much smaller amounts.

Geothermal experts say Nevada leaders have made a strong commitment to the industry, creating an efficient regulatory system that has allowed production to grow. ...Read More
Photo: People attend a Black Voters Matter event outside First Baptist Church Capitol Hill on June 20, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee. JOSHUA LOTT / THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

How Can We Build Democracy in the South — in Electoral Politics and Beyond?

By Denzel Caldwell 

Sept 15, 2022 - The myth of U.S. democracy is on the verge of shattering.

In the region where cotton was king and prisons have succeeded the throne, this myth’s falseness is particularly evident in the U.S. South, the epicenter of the nation’s plantation and chattel slavery economy where the majority of Black/African-descended people still exist today. This region is also the land where Jim Crow law/segregation law once ruled and whose specter determines how resources are still allocated today. It’s also the region in which workers are least unionized and often hyper-exploited, with community members disproportionately subject to state violence such as incarceration or deportation.

Given these deathly conditions, the seats of power in our region are filled by those who benefit from these systems and uphold them, oppressing Southerners both historically and presently. In response, Southern freedom fighters have been fighting to build a grassroots democracy that is directly informed by the needs of our region, beginning at the local level.

In so many ways, the efforts of Southern freedom fighters are an extension of freedom fighters in the Global South who share experiences of exploitation in the workplace, state violence and increased rates of incarceration, and have led organizing fights that inform strategies in the U.S. South. Formations like the Southern Movement Assembly are uniting U.S. Southern grassroots organizations with comrades across the Global South, particularly Central and South America, to develop a people’s democracy across colonial borders.

The Highlander Research and Education Center, where I work, is a Southern movement school, building democratic participation in the U.S. South and Appalachia through grassroots organizing, leadership development, and movement building. Highlander, which was established 90 years ago, has helped fuel the Southern fight for liberation against white supremacist capitalism.

Highlander supported the integration of labor unions in the 1930s and 40s, was a meeting place for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1950s and held trainings for civil rights activists during the sit-ins of the 1960s, and Highlander’s Education Director Septima Clark initiated the Citizenship Schools that expanded access to voting rights for Black people.

Although Highlander may be best known as the place where Rosa Parks trained before the Montgomery Bus Boycotts and where Martin Luther King, Jr. attended workshops that contributed to being red-baited as part of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, we know that many of the same issues these freedom fighters battled continue to face our communities today.

My work as Highlander’s electoral justice researcher and educator seeks to build capacity for today’s Southern freedom fighters and their communities to govern themselves as we move toward building a truly democratic world beyond capitalism and white supremacy.

This work goes beyond maximizing participation in the U.S. electoral system. This work seeks to build Southern communities’ capacity to define their problems collectively, learn and understand current power structures as they exist, and develop collective solutions based on the experiences and abilities of each community member.

There is strategic value in engaging elections, but strategies for grassroots democracy must extend far beyond Election Day. While we understand that participating in this U.S. electoral system is presently inevitable, we also understand it is equally, if not more, vital to build parallel systems that are truly democratic and accountable to every community member.

Southern freedom fighters have been fighting to build a grassroots democracy that is directly informed by the needs of our region, beginning at the local level.

This work is reflected when we see People’s Movement Assemblies being utilized to build political power in cities such as Nashville, Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; Lexington, Kentucky; and so many more Southern cities.

People’s Movement Assemblies are grassroots, democratic gatherings inspired by the World Social Forum in 2003, where collective decision-making spaces facilitated action plans that sparked international protests, leading to the Global Day of Action that year with millions of people worldwide taking to the streets to speak out against the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq. These assemblies are used by communities to collectively assess their problems, determine their strategies, assess who has the power to change their conditions materially, and create grassroots solutions to bring their vision for a life-affirming world into reality.

The Southern Movement Assembly, a regional formation that has been seeking to build grassroots democratic power across the South for 10 years with Southern freedom fighters and their communities, is inviting Southern community organizations to utilize People’s Movement Assemblies in their work throughout Summer 2022 to build collective power, community governance and action plans for organizing throughout the Global South.

In the midst of the 2022 U.S. midterm elections for gubernatorial and legislative seats, Highlander has developed the People Practicing Power workshop intervention. During this workshop series, organizers and their community members are learning methods for self-protection during Election Day from racialized, fascist terrorism; the process for developing a policy demand into a law; and creating or joining efforts to build democratic institutions rooted in solidarity economy principles.

The Solidarity Economy

“Solidarity economy” is an umbrella term for institutions and practices that are grounded in mutualism, cooperation, democracy, pluralism and building a world beyond racial capitalism.

Examples of this include worker-owned cooperatives, time banks, participatory budgeting and community land trusts that place decision-making power and ownership directly in the hands of workers and communities that have been historically stripped of agency under white supremacist capitalism.

The U.S. South is often seen by those outside the region as a right-wing stronghold and a recipient of charity. Our practice of rooting our work in the creation of solidarity economies acknowledges Southerners’ long history of not only surviving under white supremacist capitalism, but leading the charge to develop people-centered democracies and economies within the U.S.

We invite anyone who is interested to plug into the workshops Highlander offers around solidarity economies, join us at our annual Homecoming event September 30-October 2, 2022, where we will celebrate 90 years of Southern movement building, and follow Highlander online for updates on upcoming workshops and learning spaces where Southern freedom fighters will build strong relationships and learn with each other to build a true democracy rooted in community governance throughout the U.S. South.

The U.S. empire is crumbling due to the destruction created by capitalism. As this empire takes its last breaths, it doubles down on its centuries-old fascist violence domestically and abroad. From the ashes of this empire’s burning, people are using tools of community governance and solidarity economies to build a world beyond colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism. There is a new world coming, we’re building it together, and the time is here to usher it in. ...Read More
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This Week's History Lesson:
The Supreme Court Case That Decided Indian Sovereignty
Graphic: The removal of the Cherokee Native Americans to the West in 1838. Oil on canvas, 1942, by Robert Lindneux.

Were Native Americans part of the U.S. or separate? This was the question SCOTUS tried desperately to avoid.

By Daniel B. Moskowitz

Sept 26, 2022 - During its first decades, the United States Supreme Court struggled mightily to define the legal status of Indian tribes and their land claims.

“Their story is that of courts caught in a collision between law and morality on the one hand, desire and force on the other,” retired Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a treatise on those cases. “That story forces us to examine the relation between law and politics.”

The litigation reached its apex in 1832 in Worcester v. Georgia; the justices made clear that dealing with the Indians was the sole province of the federal government. The ruling in Worcester not only marked a major legal victory for the Indians — although one giving tribes no immediate help — but also was a decision that brought the reputation of the Supreme Court to its nadir. Miraculously, the court quickly bounced back.


In the earlier series of related cases the Justices suggested — incorrectly — that the Indians did not cultivate or settle on their lands, rendering their title to the property more a permission to hunt than the notion of real-estate ownership as historically understood under Anglo-Saxon law.

Those cases all involved competing claims by American citizens who had purchased Indian land, not the tribes themselves. Finally in 1831 the Cherokee Nation got the high court to consider a case to which that tribe was a party — a challenge to a land grab by the state of Georgia.

After gold was discovered on Cherokee land in 1828, Georgia intensified an existing campaign to get the Indians to move west. Legislators passed a series of laws confiscating Indian land, nullifying Cherokee law within those parcels, and forbidding meetings of the Cherokee legislative council.


The Supreme Court took the tribe’s case contesting the Georgia laws as having no constitutional basis. The high court’s opinion, authored by Chief Justice John Marshall, acknowledged that the Cherokee had a strong case, but gave the Indians no solace. The holding: The Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to settle the dispute. The Cherokee had invoked the Court’s authority over suits involving foreign nations, but Marshall insisted Indians constituted not a foreign nation but a “domestic dependent nation,” akin to wards, with the federal government as their guardian.

The Cherokees’ lawyer was William Wirt, a former U.S. attorney general. Wirt wasn’t ready to give up and searched for a case the justices would have to give full consideration. He found one among the Georgia laws meant to so squeeze the Cherokees that they would leave the state; the legislation denied non-Indians the right to live on reservations unless they swore to support all the state’s laws.

Eleven missionaries who were working among the Cherokee refused to take the oath, and were prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to prison at hard labor. Nine accepted an offer from the governor of a pardon in return for taking the oath. The other two — Samuel Worcester and Elizer Butler — were encouraged to stand firm as a way to set up a legal challenge to the Georgia laws. The missionary group for which the pair worked assured them that “the most intelligent members of Congress are of the opinion that the Supreme Court will sustain the Indians and that the people of the U.S. will yield and a settlement will be made ….This is of immense importance to this country and to the civilized world.”

By going to prison, Worcester and Butler set the stage for Wirt to mount a case the justices could not sidestep.


Georgia insisted that the Supreme Court’s involvement amounted to “an unconstitutional and arbitrary interference” in state authority and refused to appear to defend the laws, but in February 1832 the justices heard three days of arguments. The case riveted Washington; so many members of Congress came to the courtroom to hear the oral arguments that the House had to postpone its session. Wirt noted that the Cherokee held their lands under treaties with the federal government — in effect a contract — and that prior cases had established that a state cannot ignore or amend a valid contract.

Six of the seven Justices accepted Wirt’s argument. Just 10 days after the arguments, Chief Justice John Marshall spent 75 minutes reading the opinion aloud in open court.

Marshall made three basic points: The statute under which Georgia imprisoned Worcester and Butler was invalid and “repugnant to the constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States”; the defendants were therefore cleared of all criminal charges and lower court decisions upholding those convictions were overturned; and the Cherokee Nation occupied its own territory “in which the laws of Georgia have no force.”

The justices well understood that they had taken a legal and moral stance but had no power to enforce what would be in some quarters a very unpopular decision.

“Thanks be to God, the Court can wash their hands clean of the inequity of oppressing the Indians and disregarding their rights,” Justice Joseph Story wrote his wife shortly after the decision was announced. “The Court has done its duty. Let the Nation now do theirs.” ...Read More
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Running on Empty or Gasoline for All?
from the Sept 14, 2022 Bulletin
The writer, playwright, and freelance journalist Kurt Hackbarth, a naturalized Mexican citizen living in Oaxaca, regularly offers insightful political commentary — in both English and Spanish ...Hackbarth earlier this year published a new book, a collection of stories entitled Viaje a Monprator now available from Matanga Taller-Editorial. Given recent attention to AMLO’s move to re-nationalize México’s oil sector, we thought updating our 2021 interview with him would supply some helpful background

Everyone in México needs to turn on their lights, drive their cars, and plug in their cellphones. What sort of energy resources can México currently tap? 
Kurt Hackbarth: México is blessed — or cursed — with an abundance of oil and gas. New oil fields have been discovered just in the past few years. México also has one of the world’s largest deposits of lithium, “the new oil,” an element essential to the production of everything from batteries and computers to cars and pacemakers. México has other strategic minerals as well.

Let’s focus on oil. Given its abundance in México, do the Mexican people have what they need at an affordable price? 
Foreign oil companies gained an early foothold in México. But President Cárdenas nationalized the oil sector in 1938 and created Pemex, a publicly owned and operated entity. This move enjoyed huge support from the Mexican people and still remains a point of national pride. But México’s neoliberal governments have since then deliberately sabotaged Pemex. The Pemex CEO from 2012 through 2018, Emilio Lozoya, has even been charged with organized criminal activity.  

Before heading Pemex, Lozoya served as former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s campaign manager. Prosecutors are charging him with accepting millions from the Brazilian construction and petrochemical giant Odebrecht. In return for payoffs, Odebrecht won lucrative contracts.  
The sabotage also included dilapidating Pemex’s finances and a refusal to do adequate refinery upkeep. This entire mess became the excuse for privatizing Pemex. In 2013, President Peña Nieto welcomed foreign companies and investors back into the full production and supply chain.
The resulting leeching of resources required the raising of gasoline taxes — colloquially called gasolinazos in the press — to plug the Pemex budget hole. Under Peña Nieto, the price of gas at the pump jumped up by more than a third. This triggered mass protests on a number of occasions.
AMLO wants to bring back national/public control. What’s the current situation?

AMLO has made valiant attempts to get Pemex in order. He has repaired six refineries and is building a new refinery, Dos Bocas, in Tabasco. Pemex has also discovered a series of new oil fields, putting the lie to Peña Nieto’s famous claim that “the chicken with the golden eggs has ended.”
On the electricity front, AMLO has passed legal reforms strengthening the Federal Electricity Commission, the CFE, and requiring it to give preference to public sources of energy over private.

US energy companies have howled in protest, backed up by the US trade representative who’s filed a complaint charging that AMLO is violating the USMCA. The US wants to maintain the Peña Nieto energy mandate that required the CFE to supply itself from private companies first at the cost of leaving its own production capacity idle.
But isn’t AMLO also going to increase fossil fuel production to the detriment of attempts to restrain global warming?

We’ve seen an international attempt to paint AMLO as a lover of dirty energy. His opponents are trying to build opposition from environmentalists to Mexico’s nationalization of its energy sector. But all this amounts to a public-relations scam. Don’t fall for claims that US and European energy interests represent “green energy” while México represents fossil fuels!
The decay of its refining capacity has left México with only a ten-day reserve supply of gasoline, which it has to import. AMLO is aiming to get México self-sufficient in energy as a way to underpin national sovereignty. That doesn’t mean México isn’t making an effort to go green. In the southeast, hydroelectric dams can provide enough energy for the whole region. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec has become one of the world’s most promising areas for wind power. And the government is now investing in solar, with a large wind farm project in Sonora and an urban solar installation in Mexico City.Onergia Cooperative, Puebla MX
In any case, for the global north to lecture the global south on being “green” really rates as quite ironic. The global north has generated the vast bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, and Biden is just now opening up millions of acres for new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. ...Read More
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From the settlers to the present, and how its consciousness is conflicted. Prepared by Carl Davidson and Rebecca Tarlau,
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Karl Marx's ideas are a common touchstone for many people working for change. His historical materialism, his many contributions to political economy and class analysis, all continue to serve his core values--the self-emancipation of the working class and a vision of a classless society. There are naturally many trends in Marxism that have developed over the years, and new ones are on the rise today. All of them and others who want to see this project succeed are welcome here.

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Tune of the Week: 'Down to the River to Pray' by Alison Kraus from 'O Brother Where Art Thou'  ... 4 minutes
TV Review: ‘Mo’ Reveals the Lighter and Darker Sides
of the Palestinian Experience in the U.S.
The Netflix series’ depictions of a broken immigration system and cross-cultural love affairs make it a very American show

By Anna Lekas Miller
New Lines

Sept 13, 2022 - “You have to come watch this video,” my husband, Salem, shouted to me from the other room. At first, I ignored him. As a typical millennial couple that has worked from home ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we often punctuate our days by sending each other videos, and I wasn’t about to drop what I was doing for another funny TikTok, even if it is our love language.

“They’re talking about chocolate hummus,” he continued. My ears immediately perked up. While I frequently troll my mother with pictures of mango hummus, white-chocolate raspberry hummus and whatever other food crimes Trader Joe’s comes up with, I never thought I would find these jokes in a Netflix series; the subject is just too niche. “I think they finally made something that we can relate to,” he smiled, as I perched next to him, suddenly intrigued.

So, on a Wednesday night late last month, Salem and I curled up along with thousands of other Arab and Arab-American households like ours to stream “Mo,” a semi-autobiographical, semi-fictionalized, eight-part Netflix series by Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer (who plays the title character Mo Najjar), wondering if we would binge the entire thing in one sitting or immediately turn it off.

It opens with Mo driving through Houston, Texas, rapping along to Houston rappers Paul Wall and Big Pokey’s “Sittin’ Sidewayz” before pulling up to his job at a mobile phone shop. “Hola, cabron,” he greets his coworker, in a moment that feels like a nod to any Arab American who grew up in a state like Texas or California and embraced learning how to get around in Spanish after constantly being mistaken for being Mexican. He greets clientele in “customer service English” while joking with his coworkers in Spanish. But when his boss, played by Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef (who is then mysteriously absent for the rest of the show), starts speaking to him in Arabic, delivering the bad news that he has to let Mo go because of a series of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on his stores, his story truly begins. It is immediately clear that this isn’t just a show about being Arab or Muslim American and caught between two worlds. It is also about a broken immigration system and the unnecessary hardship that it causes thousands of people who call the United States home, when the U.S. government tries to say otherwise.

Mo’s hustle — which, in relatable fashion, he keeps a secret from his mother — continues a few days later when he stops by a shisha cafe in a strip mall (another setting that feels Arab American) trying to drum up work, while playfully arguing about politics over a game of “tawla” (backgammon). “Selling merch is the only way to support my family without papers,” he says, while pouring a bit of his mother’s homemade olive oil over a plate of hummus. “Won’t you hook me up?”

After a spirited debate that covers everything from Mo’s limited job opportunities to Palestine’s borders (with a character they affectionately call “the Zionist”), Mo’s contact agrees to give him the merchandise that he needs. “You happy now?” he asks, as Mo gets up to leave. “You know what would make me happy?” Mo responds, playfully jousting with the Zionist. “If we went back to the 1967 borders. What about our right of return?” Here is a point where I have seen many Palestinians take issue — why didn’t Mo reference the 1948 borders or broaden this into a wider conversation on the Nakba or the right of return for all Palestinians? A platform like Netflix provides an opportunity to bring a conversation about a one-state solution into the mainstream. Why is Mo — both the character and creator, who often fuse into one in the fictionalized autobiographical account — settling for less?

But at the same time, it risks becoming a symptom of what James Baldwin once called the “burden of representation,” the expectation that, in the absence of accurate representations, a Black — or, in this case, a Palestinian — artist is responsible for representing their entire community, which is inevitably filled with a range of different experiences. Should Mo, who is already shouldering the burden of supporting his family while being kicked out of jobs because of ICE raids — making jokes out of microaggressions and selling bootleg goods while he waits 22 years and counting for U.S. citizenship — be forced to shoulder this burden too?

Even without getting into the politics of the homeland, Palestine — and Palestinian identity — is woven into the show artistically and, more important, authentically. Mo frequently shares that he is Palestinian, whether politely informing the grocery store clerk peddling chocolate hummus that she is insulting his grandmother or sharing with the olive farmer that his mother (flawlessly portrayed by Palestinian actor Farah Bseiso), sends him for fresh olives to make her signature homemade olive oil. “Where I come from, olive theft is a real problem too,” he says to the Texan farmer. When Mo drops that he is Palestinian and the farmer tries to correct him by interjecting with “Israel,” Mo shakes his head, half-joking, half-serious: “It’s a real branding issue.” After Mo finds himself working at the farm as a last resort, it becomes clear that he has superimposed his own version of Palestine onto it, his imagination transforming a place of menial labor into a re-creation of the homeland that he may never get to see. During one particularly touching scene, he brings his Mexican-American girlfriend, Maria (played by “Narcos” actor Teresa Ruiz) there, walking through the orchard, bathed in a golden glow.

“I’m Palestinian, you’re Mexican,” he tells her in another episode, imagining their future together — one that has been stunted by the fact that his mother is upset that she isn’t “an Ayesha or a Khadija.” For the first time, it seems as if he is ready to find a way to reconcile their differences. “It is biologically impossible for us not to have at least six kids,” he jokes. For a moment, it is possible to imagine a happily ever after.

During certain flashbacks, we see Mo and his family in Kuwait — where we later learn that his mother and father fled after leaving Palestine. As Palestinian-American writer and translator Randa Jarrar pointed out to me, these kinds of diaspora journeys, which were a part of many Palestinian refugees’ journeys to the United States or Europe, are rarely represented. “I found it very authentic,” she told me over WhatsApp, mentioning that her family’s experience inspired her to write a scene in her novel, “A Map Of Home,” where the father bribes the officers with whiskey or silk ties, depending on whether or not they seemed religious. “I loved the way that the mother used her wiles to trick the soldiers into thinking that their bags had already been searched.”

It is equally significant that Mo’s Palestinian identity does not exist in a vacuum. Instead, it is in constant conversation with the realities of living in a highly politicized moment in the United States, in a vibrant, diverse city like Houston. Rather than ruminating on the kind of identity crisis that is threaded throughout a show like “Ramy”(by “Mo” co-creator Ramy Youssef), “Mo” offers commentary on mass shootings and being hooked on “lean” (prescription cough syrup), mental health and the Catch-22 of being caught in the U.S. immigration system, where the only way out is an asylum claim that seems as if it may never materialize. Despite these dark themes and the constant reminder of the realities of living precariously as an undocumented immigrant, “Mo” is punctuated with dark, and sometimes absurd, but often relatable humor. At one point, Mo fires the Palestinian-American immigration lawyer whom his family hired for a negligence case, causing her to pout, “I’ll have to find another favorite Mohammed.”

As in any story of juggling two different cultures, there are contradictions — many of which are as hilarious as they are uncomfortable. After losing his job at the mobile phone shop in the first episode, Mo takes a gig as a DJ in a strip club — which goes surprisingly well, considering that Mo identifies (at least somewhat) as a practicing Muslim, until a customer refuses to put out a cigarette, triggering Mo’s memory of learning about his father’s torture after recently discovering photos in the asylum file of the cigarette burns to his body. Maria, noting that he is struggling with his mental health, suggests that Mo unburden himself by confessing to a priest, a nod to their cultural differences, which oscillate between bringing them together and threatening to tear them apart. Mo makes multiple wisecracks about Catholicism before finally opening up and trusting the priest with his story. Even as Mo digs into the trauma of learning about his father’s torture and the pressure of taking care of his family, he continues to use absurdist humor, giving the audience permission to laugh, which, given the gravity of the subject matter, can only be described as impeccably timed artistic and comedic genius.

Perhaps “Mo” does not offer much commentary on the realities of the Israeli occupation of Palestine beyond fantasizing about what a world might look like without it, but the complex intersections of his lived reality in the United States are rendered in sharp relief. During one scene, Mo is stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint and realizes that the police dog has a U.S. passport, pointing out the irony that an animal possesses what he has been waiting for his entire life. Mo never explicitly calls himself stateless, but he shows the realities of living without papers and having no country to go back to if he were deported — a reality that even the show “Stateless,” which centers on an immigration detention center in Australia, ironically doesn’t depict. “I’m a refugee, free agent,” Mo says, seizing the narrative away from the type of creator who might make this a character’s entire story, without examining the reality that comes with it. A Palestinian refugee in Lebanon or Syria might be squeezed out of the job market and living in a refugee camp, but a Palestinian refugee in the United States is part of a larger community of undocumented people, forced to hustle in the shadows of the supposed land of opportunity. While it is not the only show that has explored the impact of the U.S. immigration system on ordinary people — “Gentefied,” a Netflix series set in the Latinx community, is another example — it is one of few that shows its impact outside of the Latinx community, in a way that is, true to form, uniquely Palestinian. During his asylum hearing — a scene that will make the heart pound of anyone with experience of the immigration system — the prosecution casually drops that the U.S. immigration system does not recognize Palestine as a country.

Just as it seems as if the show is about to take a turn for the absurd when Mo and his best friend Nick, played by Nigerian-American rapper Tobe Nwigwe, decide to track down some stolen olive trees and find themselves trapped in the back of a truck that reeks of possible cartel violence, “Bienvenidos à Mexico” pops up in a text message — signaling that Mo has crossed the border, accidentally deporting himself in a turn of events that is as comedic as it is terrifying. He is more concerned about being killed by a cartel member than getting back into the United States until he realizes that one of the olive thieves is someone from the farm. “Manny, is that you?” he asks, squinting as a gun is pointed at his head. “Any chance you have a bathroom I could use?”

It seems like Mo might have a chance to get the trees back — but when Manny reveals that his great-grandfather was a member of the Karankawa, who were Indigenous to the land, and that his involvement in stealing the olive trees is his attempt at land-back justice, Mo responds, “I get it. I really do. We just suck as a human race. My family is from Haifa. We were forced out of there by the Israelis into the West Bank. For 80 years, it is bombs, bullets and tear gas. Hell, they built a wall, separating families. They can never see each other again. Can you imagine?” Mo might have proceeded to go on a tangent venting about Elon Musk “jizzing Teslas into space,” but it is still the only time that I have ever seen a comparison between the land theft and genocide of Native Americans and Palestinians so explicitly spelled out in popular culture, flawlessly integrated with a comparison of the Israeli separation barrier and the U.S.-Mexico border wall, as well.

It is easy to hold “Mo” to an impossibly high standard. For too long, most of us have consumed media where Arabs are portrayed as Orientalist caricatures at best and terrorists or traitors to the West at worst. Every time we think that might be changing, we are inevitably disappointed. I remember watching “Homeland,” accepting that a show that follows the story of a CIA agent might be slightly racist for the sake of Roya Hammad’s character, a Palestinian journalist who reminded me of myself in the passion she brought to her work and the topics that she cared about. Of course, it turned out that she was secretly a terrorist. I immediately stopped watching.

Unfortunately, these painful stereotypes carry into mainstream news coverage of the Middle East as well. Journalists who cover Palestine are constantly forced to toe the line that the Western media has drawn, a line that has cost people like former CNN journalist Octavia Nasr and Palestinian academic Steven Salaita their careers, while inevitably censoring thousands of others. Now, there is a show that is not only proudly and unapologetically Palestinian but also speaks to a wider Arab and Arab-American audience, playfully highlighting dessert hummus atrocities and poignantly speaking to the rarely acknowledged pain of learning that a loved one has been tortured or needing to relive traumas for the sake of an asylum claim.

Watching the political become personal in a way that feels so familiar makes us want a show like “Mo” to be everything and more, expecting it to fill a void that has been carved out by a dearth of accurate pop culture representation and a mainstream media that gaslights anyone who dares to suggest that Palestine — and Palestinians — exist. But at the end of the day, “Mo” is a single story — a slice of life that has somehow managed to cut through the noise with expertly crafted scenes and impeccably timed jokes that inspire empathy not only for Palestinians but also for immigrants and anyone else who has felt the pressure to do right by their loved ones in a country where the only way to survive a life that can be just as easily punctuated by mass shootings and an impossible healthcare system is to respond with equally absurd humor. All we can do is hope that it will pave the way for more stories like it to come. ...Read More
Book Review: Guy Debord's 'Marx-Hegel'

La Libraire de Guy Debord, Éditions L’échapée, Paris, 2021, 528 pp., 24 € pb

Reviewed by Kaveh Boveiri

The following sentence may ring familiar:

‘The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an “immense collection of commodities.”’

Let us read another passage:

‘In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles.’

If you are astonished with the similarity between these two passages, the first from the opening sentence of Marx’s Capital Vol. 1 and the second from Guy Debord’s The Society of Spectacle, by the end of the book under review, you will realize that there is nothing coincidental about their similarities.

For those interested to deeply delve into the genesis of the thought of a profound thinker, it is fruitful to see how those thoughts are generated in their laboratory before visibly taking shape in mature forms. For this, preparatory reading notes are invaluable. Guy Debord’s Marx-Hegel collects together in one volume his reading notes he originally filed under Hegel and Marxisme, along with several files. It is the third volume of his published notes – preceded by Stratégie and Poésie, etc. – and part of a long-term project headed by Laurence La Bras from the Département des manuscrits at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. An expected fourth volume – Histoire – is scheduled for October 2022.

As one might imagine, the editors have retained impressive attention to detail. The reader will not miss even the color of the pen used, and where on the page Debord added marginalia. But not only that. They corrected erroneous references, sentences and words, added passages to make the references – already clear in Debord’s thought – equally clear for the reader, adopted a vibrant strategy to ease the reader through the fragments, not intended for publication.
In addition to the sources of Marx and Engels, several thinkers are given attention by Debord who their thinking (for example, Hegel, Feuerbach, Bauer), and an incredible amount of those who were in turn influenced by them. In this way, the title of the collection falls short from what lies therein.

The two most noteworthy dimensions of the book are the choices of the readings and Debord’s comments. As for the first aspect, the engagement with the readings in general is highly impressive. In the Marx section, which comes first, the texts do not proceed in a linear fashion, and several points are repeated, more so than in the second part on Hegel. Additionally, it is very difficult to find a significant writer of the secondary literature that Debord did not read!

The scope is fascinating: along with well-known figures such as Rosa Luxemburg, Georg Lukács and Georgi Plekhanov, you will read passages from an incredibly large number of lesser-known figures including, but not limited to, Charles Andler, Anton Ciliga, Jean-Pierre Carrasso, Michel Collinet and Auguste Cornu. Although the notes in the Marx section are mostly without comments, on a few occasions they are insightful.

In his comment on a passage from The German Ideology, for example, Debord demonstrates the need for updating certain thoughts so that they correspond more adequately to new circumstances: in comparison with the time Marx and Engels wrote the book, ‘[t]he workers are no longer starving’ (97), or at least not in the same fashion as before, it might be added. Another equally insightful comment comes later, in which Debord writes: ‘where there is a shortage of commodities […] one does not have to consume the ideology of the commodity, but only its essence: the commodity of ideology.’ He equates the ideology of passive consumption with the ideology of the commodity, that is to say, the spectacle (148).

The reader interested in one of the likely origins of the concept of the spectacle by Debord will realize that he does not miss Lukács’ reference to Goethe’s Faust: ‘What a spectacle, but alas, just a spectacle!’ (217). In his comment on Karl Korsch’s Marxism and Philosophy, while Debord recognizes the vulgarisation of Marxism in the Second International, he emphasizes the importance of searching for roots beyond the individuals involved, and to try and find the more profound reasons (151) for Marxism’s vulgarisation.

Regarding Hegel, eight folders of reading notes are collected: not only well-known works like Phenomenology of Spirit, Elements of the Philosophy of Right and parts of The Science of Logic, but also less consulted works written in his youth, such as The Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s Systems of Philosophy and the theological writings. One of Hegel’s key concepts critically adopted by Debord is ‘representation.’ As Debord writes in the opening passage of The Society of Spectacle: ‘Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.’ We may say that Debord further socialises this Hegelian concept and recognises it as one of the characteristics of the capitalist mode of social life. He gives credit to Hegel in recognising the beginning of the nineteenth century as an epoch ‘characterised by the Spirits of people separated in space and time at the moment when the unity of the world affirms itself’ (413). Jean Hyppolite and Kostas Papaïoannu are the two Hegel scholars whose books compose the last part of Debord’s notes on Hegel.

If this collection were regarded as thorough evidence, it would still be a matter of pure speculation to ask how different Debord’s output might have been had he fully read the Grundrisse or Hegel’s The Science of Logic. But regarding the readings covered by him here, some remarks are nevertheless noteworthy. The first relates to Hegel’s well-known dictum in the introduction to his Elements of the Philosophy of Right: ‘what is rational is actual, and what is actual is rational.’ Debord, who considered himself ‘a Hegelian of the extreme left’ (374) and as part of the legacy of revolutionary theory and practice, along with Marx, Bakunin and others, seems to have fallen into the pitfall of erroneous interpretation given by some leftist thinkers. In this way, he, along with them, overlooks Hegel’s emphasis that the actual becomes rational, rather than a stagnant identity, or even that Hegel’s remark can be understood such that ‘everything that is rational, must be!’ Had Debord been privy to these subtleties, he might have recognized, even more deeply than he already had, the revolutionary kernel of Hegel’s thought, as did both Marx and Lenin.

Another point regards the concept of transformation. First, the reader might be surprised to find that notes or comments on Marx’s ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ are nowhere to be found. That said, in a comment on Maximilian Rubel, we read from Debord: under capitalism, ‘the réel is more knowable and transformable (because it is already in transformation).’ (250) It might here be added that if under capitalism the réel is more knowable, it is because under this mode of social life individuals find it possible to grasp the réel in its totality. But more importantly, Debord seems to confuse two concepts of transformation. Yes, the réel under capitalism is indeed in constant transformation, but that transformation is not the particular transformation of world revolution intended in Marx’s eleventh thesis on Feuerbach: ‘The philosophers have just interpreted the world in different ways, the point is to change it’. A comment from Debord on those theses might have helped clarify his perspective.

Studies on Hegel, Marx and Engels have exponentially increased since the time Debord took his notes. We now have anthologies on Luxemburg, Lukács and Henri Lefebvre, among others. Numerous conferences are held on the thinkers given focus in this collection, and sometimes on only a single aspect of their thought. Nonetheless, Marx-Hegel remains an extremely valuable resource for those interested in better understanding Debord’s works of social critique, what he picks from other authors and how he tries to actualize those themes in the recognition of a world undergoing rapid change. Those readers patient enough to reread The Society of Spectacle after looking through these notes will bear witness to how this genuine thinker chose his readings in order to synthesize his own thought.

16 September 2022 ...Read More
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