Campaigning for Democracy And Socialism
Prepare for Dealing with Armed Fascists at the Polls
The cartoon to the right illustrates a deep contradiction in our politics: one side wants to run on the issues and concerns of the day, while the other wants to corral voters around matters of identity and ideology, however warped. Some might agree with the left platform but lack any trust in its advocates. So they will choose an alternative opposed to their interests if the proposed identity or ideology, such as white supremacy, is seen as elevating their status. Solution? The left needs more than a good platform. It needs a new counter-narrative, both popular and democratic.

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!

Started 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,

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!
Save the Date:
October 31st

Report on the results of the 20th Congress of the
Communist Party of China

Presentation by
Duncan McFarland,
cochair of the CCDS S
ocialist Education Project

Sponsored by
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

The Communist Party of China is holding its 20th Congress in Beijing starting on October 16, the first since 2017. The party leadership will be selected, including the Political Bureau and general secretary. Basic policy for the next five years will be determined, including China's long-term development plans and foreign policy, including US-China relations.

Studying the Congress' documents and results is invaluable to understanding the basic policies of the CCP especially at this sensitive time. 

9pm-10:30pm ET, 8pm-9:30opm CT, 7pm-8:30pm MT, 6pm-7:30pm PT

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Photo: Mike Davis recently in his San Diego home. Photograph by Adam Perez

Mike Davis, 1946-2022, Presente!

Mike Davis Could See the Future

Often misread as a “prophet of doom,” the Marxist historian was actually an optimist and a dreamer.

By Hua Hsu
The New Yorker

Oct 26, 2022 - Sometime in the mid-nineties, when I was an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley, a guest lecturer visited my U.S. history class. It was one of those massive survey lectures with about five hundred students, many of us there to check a requirement rather than follow an academic passion.

The guest’s name was Mike Davis, and his subject was Los Angeles. The hour began with a story about Aimee Semple McPherson, a charismatic evangelist and early-twentieth-century pioneer of media celebrity, who established a base of ardent believers in the city back when it was only sparsely populated.

I can still hear the way Davis said her name, as though repeating it enough times offered some key to understanding the huckster promises that drew some people to L.A. It ended with a look at the recently completed headquarters of the Beverly Hills Police Department—a gleaming fortress, a monument to state power.

Throughout the lecture, I remember being unable to move, transfixed by the torrent of ideas, all the dots being connected, this new way of seeing the world around me. After class, I skipped down to a bookstore near campus and bought “City of Quartz,” Davis’s 1990 book about Los Angeles as both “utopia and dystopia.” What he taught us that day was not history; it was a way of digging through the ruins of the past to see the future.

Davis passed away this week, from esophageal cancer, at the age of seventy-six. He was born in 1946 in Fontana, California, in San Bernardino County, to working-class parents who had hitchhiked to California from Ohio. He was raised in El Cajon, just outside of San Diego. He was a curious student but an itinerant one. His education was interrupted—or rather, augmented—by stints as a truck driver, a bookseller, and a tour-bus driver, experiences that drew him into the world of activism, organizing, and Marxist thinking. Upon finishing his undergraduate education, at U.C.L.A., in the mid-seventies, he pursued but never completed the requirements for his Ph.D. He took a path of teaching, editing, writing, and labor organizing. In the early eighties, he spent six years in the U.K. and served as an editor of the New Left Review, before returning to Southern California.

“City of Quartz” drew on his graduate work, but, as he joked in the book’s acknowledgments, there were “no research grants, sabbaticals, teaching assistants or other fancy ingredients” here. His style ran afoul of academic conventions. In retrospect, this was a failing of the system, not Davis. In the eighties, Los Angeles was an object of fascination to scholars and thinkers such as the geographer Edward Soja, the literary critic Fredric Jameson, and the sociologist Jean Baudrillard, for whom a downtown hotel or mazy highway interchange held great symbolic heft. What made “City of Quartz” so breathtaking was that Davis tried to write about Los Angeles as a totality—from the real-estate deals of the mega-rich to the waste-treatment plants, the power brokers to the unhoused and dispossessed, from the glamour of Hollywood to the cryptic graffiti of street gangs. Even those who decried his bombastic tone or his looseness with fact-checking could not deny the scale of his ambition.

Part of Davis’s achievement is that he understood Los Angeles from the periphery, not from a place of entitlement. “The world that experientially I was familiar with,” he explained, in 1993, “is that kind of blue-collar margin between the city and the desert. . . . I know a lot about the chaos of that, and I know what the city looks like from that kind of perspective. I know that the region consists of one hundred small towns or communities, that it’s a mosaic of those, and that, though L.A.’s the most visualized, endlessly represented place in the world, you generally keep seeing the same thing over and over and over again.” ...Read More

'Remembering Mike Davis' from the LA Review of Books includes a number of remembrances HERE.

Latest News
Masked Poll Watchers Are Showing Up At Voting Sites With Handguns And Kevlar Vests

By Ryan Teague Beckwith
and Margaret Newkirk
Boston Globe

Oct 27, 2022 - (Bloomberg) — Two people armed with handguns and wearing tactical military gear, balaclavas masking their faces, and the license plates on their cars covered, stood watch over a ballot drop box during early voting last week in Mesa, Arizona.

This scene, reported by the Maricopa County Elections Department on Friday, is one that some elections officials and law enforcement fear might spread as believers in Donald Trump’s false claims that a second term as president was stolen from him through voter fraud amp up activity ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Other agitator election deniers are filming voters dropping off ballots, photographing their license plates, and confronting them in parking lots outside early voting locations in Arizona and Michigan, according to Marcia Johnson-Blanco, who is overseeing election protection efforts for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

At least three groups that make baseless claims of widespread voter fraud are encouraging untrained volunteers to engage in the effort. One effort, funded by Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s first national security adviser and a former Army general in Iraq 20 years ago, is specifically recruiting military veterans and police officers to monitor voting.

For now, the agitators’ efforts are sporadic, and elections officials stress that most voters are unlikely to be affected in the hopes of tamping down any public fears about voting in person.

But they are preparing. Local police are being trained on state and federal voter intimidation laws. Voting rights groups are advising the public on how to report incidents, civil rights groups are filing lawsuits and US attorneys around the country are appointing staff prosecutors to keep an eye on threats and intimidation.

A coalition of left-leaning groups called Election Defenders has also been training volunteers in eight states on how to counter efforts to intimidate voters and elections officials from early voting through final certification.

Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed at a press briefing Monday that the Justice Department would fight voter intimidation.

“The Justice Department has an obligation to guarantee a free and fair vote by everyone who’s qualified to vote and will not permit voters to be intimidated,” he said.

The efforts are already leading to lawsuits. The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino sued in federal court, arguing that the election denial group Clean Elections USA encouraged voter intimidation at drop boxes in Maricopa County, while the League of Women Voters filed a separate lawsuit. Clean Elections USA founder Melody Jennings did not respond to a request for comment, but she has posted on the conservative Truth Social website that at least one of the people photographed in Mesa was not associated with her group. In the past, however, Jennings has said that poll watchers should gather in large groups to be a “deterrent.”

The incidents come as claims that electoral losses are naturally the result of fraud has become standard among Republican candidates, with 225 candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, or Congress on the ballot who have either baselessly said the 2020 election was stolen or cast doubt on its legitimacy.

They are being fueled by false conspiracy theories shared online about widespread voter fraud, especially at drop boxes, as well as a debunked film from right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza, whom Trump pardoned for making illegal campaign contributions. Elections officials have long allowed partisan observers at polling places, but they are typically required to undergo training and wear identifying badges and are barred from talking directly to voters. Local political parties usually name the poll watchers, and they can be removed for violating the rules.

But the freelance effort is different. The participants are not vetted by state or local officials, have no approved training on voter intimidation laws and are gathering around unstaffed drop boxes, a practice that election deniers call “tailgating.”

They are also being called to action by groups that have embraced false claims about voting, including Clean Elections USA, Audit the Vote and the Flynn-linked group One More Mission, as well as election-denier candidates like Arizona Secretary of State nominee Mark Finchem, who tweeted out a call for supporters to “watch all drop boxes” in order to “save the Republic.”

“Ballot drop boxes are open for much longer than polling places. They aren’t staffed and they are often placed in locations that make them vulnerable for people to act in a way that you would probably not see in a polling place,” said Suzanne Almeida, who is heading a voter intimidation hotline for the advocacy group Common Cause. ...Read More
Photo: A mail ballot drop box is displayed outside Philadelphia city hall on October 24, 2022. Philadelphia's 18 secure mail ballot drop boxes, positioned around the city, are monitored by security cameras and equipped with fire extinguishing systems to protect against tampering. ED JONES / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

43 Percent of Americans Are Worried About Threats of Violence at the Polls

BY Sharon Zhang

Oct 26, 2022 - Over two in five Americans polled over the past week say they are concerned about being subject to intimidation or violence when voting in the midterms, new polling finds, in an alarming show of the state of democracy in the U.S.

According to a poll from Reuters/Ipsos of over 4,400 U.S. adults, about 43 percent of Americans say they are worried about facing threats at polling locations. Democrats are more likely to be concerned about violence, at about 51 percent versus Republicans’ 38 percent.

Likely fueled at least in part by the far right’s attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Americans are also concerned that groups will carry out violence after the election if they’re unsatisfied with the outcome, the poll found, with over two in three Americans saying as such.

The poll comes as there have been reports of armed far right vigilantes intimidating voters in Arizona. Though there have not yet been reports of violence, the vigilantes have apparently been taking pictures of people using ballot drop boxes and threatening to post their information online.

The vigilantes appear to have been galvanized by debunked right-wing claims that so-called ballot mules are stuffing boxes with ballots for Democrats. While there is zero evidence of widespread voter fraud or anything resembling ballot stuffing, the belief appears to have become so entrenched that vigilantes are taking it upon themselves to supposedly “guard” ballot boxes.

Despite having no basis in reality, voter fraud has become a concern among the public as well. The Reuters/Ipsos poll found that nearly half of Americans think that voter fraud is a “widespread problem,” while only 40 percent disagree. Republicans are more likely to believe in this lie popularized by Donald Trump, with two-thirds of Republicans saying they believe that widespread voter fraud is an issue and about one-third of Democrats saying as such.

There have been other threats to voters from the right. In Florida, Gov. Ron Desantis’s fascist election police arrested 20 people earlier this month, claiming that they knowingly violated election guidelines — but like many others who have been prosecuted for election-related offenses, those arrested were simply unaware of their voter eligibility status.

In this case, some of the voters arrested were supposedly previously told that they were eligible to vote, but then were arrested for illegally registering. At least 13 of the people who were arrested were Black.

The fact that concerns of violence in relation to casting a vote are so widespread and that there are already reports of intimidation is an alarming show of the erosion of democracy in the U.S.

The far right has been ramping up voter suppression efforts in recent years; between the Republican Party’s gerrymandering, plans to mass-challenge election results and infiltrate Democratic-majority polling places, or bills to flat-out allow Republican officials to overturn election results, experts say the GOP is setting the stage to rig elections so that they never lose — or effectively lose, despite voters’ will — again. ...Read More
Bernie Sanders Is Once Again Asking His Party to Stop Screwing Up the Midterms

The octogenarian Democratic socialist embarks on a whistle-stop tour with a plan to save the party from itself

By Kara Voght
Rolling Stone

OCT 26, 2022 - ON THURSDAY, BERNIE Sanders will hit the campaign trail to make his closing midterm pitch. He’ll go to states like Wisconsin, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — “to places where we think we could have the most impact,” he says. He’ll go to congressional districts where his party has given up, like South Texas. He’ll campaign on behalf of Senate candidates who aren’t planning to appear alongside him.

He’s going because, in the eyes of the 81-year-old progressive senator, his party is blowing its chance at midterms success. Democrats are letting Republicans win the messaging war on the economy — even though, as far as Sanders can tell, the GOP’s only plan is to cut popular social programs. “The Democrats have not been strong enough in making that point — and we’ve got to make it,” he says.

So Sanders is taking it upon himself as he embarks on an eight-state tour on Thursday. He’ll make 17 stops in total, primarily in liberal strongholds, such as Madison, Wisconsin, and Austin, Texas, where his most loyal supporters live. He’ll also go where he outperformed President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential primary — particularly among working-class voters in cities such as Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. Sanders will hold an event on behalf of Michelle Vallejo, a progressive House candidate locked in a dead heat in a southern Texas district. National Democrats have abandoned Vallejo’s campaign in its final weeks as their financial resources dwindled, but Sanders, who won in the district in the 2020 primary, thinks that’s a mistake: “Why would you turn your back on a solidly working-class group of people, the Latino community in South Texas?”

“The theme that I am going to be bringing forth and making as strongly as I can, is that if you have concerns about creating an economy that works for all people, and not just billionaires, you cannot vote for Republicans,” Sanders tells me from his home in Burlington, Vermont, on Tuesday afternoon. “That it is insane.”

Sanders has long spoken of elections and their consequences in dire terms. During his two campaigns for the presidency, Sanders crisscrossed the country warning that corporate power and authoritarianism would erode human rights. Two weeks from the 2022 midterm elections, many of his fears are nearly realized. Roe v. Wade has been overturned. The Democratic Party’s control of the White House and Congress has yielded some progress, but not early enough, to reverse the coming climate catastrophe. Former President Donald Trump and his allies are waging a war “on the foundations of democracy,” Sanders notes. Under the banner of such bleakness, “a lot of people are discouraged,” he says. “That discouragement may result in them not coming out to vote.”

But “even above all those enormously important issues,” Sanders adds, “is the fact that we have more income and wealth inequality today in America than we’ve ever had.” Corporate greed is a root cause of inflation, he explains, “making huge profits and ripping off the American people.” The policy solutions Sanders suggests are wonky, but the overall point is this: “Republicans are going to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to pay for huge tax breaks to billionaires and the wealthiest people in this country. I don’t think that’s what the American people want.”

In the months leading up to November’s midterms, Democrats had eschewed Sanders’ economic prescriptions in favor of a message that emphasizes GOP attacks on abortion in the wake of Roe’s reversal. The final stretch has found the party scrambling to find a message that acknowledges voters’ financial hardships and proves Democrats, not Republicans, hold the solutions. But from Sanders’ vantage point, it’s still not enough. “Unfortunately, the Democrats sometimes do not do what they should and stand up to the drug companies or the insurance companies or the fossil-fuel industry,” Sanders says. “I want to do what I can to get them to do that.”

Who does Sanders want to be to his party in the year 2022? “My role will be simply to do everything I can to make sure that the Democratic Party listens to the vast majority of the people, who happen to be working-class people,” Sanders replies, “not just to establishment consultants and wealthy campaign donors.” This tour casts Sanders in a familiar role: as a critical but hopeful interlocutor who inspires Democratic voters, even when he’s not fully on board with the party — and the party isn’t fully on board with him. Sanders hopes that stumping this cycle could draw out the disillusioned corners of the electorate — especially younger voters, skeptical of the Democratic Party but not of the curmudgeonly octogenarian Democratic socialist.

He undertook a similar endeavor on Biden’s behalf during the 2020 general election with a rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a virtual event with Teen Vogue, and a get-out-the-vote video with pop star Halsey. He did it even as Biden distanced himself from Sanders in the campaign’s last days, reminding viewers during an NBC town hall in October of that year that he’s “the guy who ran against the socialist.”

Some candidates whose Sanders’ tour is meant to boost have taken a similar tack. “Senator Sanders and John will not be appearing together in Pennsylvania,” says Joe Cavallo, the communications director for Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman — even though Fetterman had supported Sanders during the senator’s 2016 presidential run. A spokesperson for Mandela Barnes, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, declined to comment when asked if he would appear with Sanders during his four-stop swing through the state. Sanders had proudly endorsed him and allowed Barnes to borrow the Vermont senator’s name for fundraising emails, The New York Times reported.

Some of that is due to a technicality: Much of Sanders’ tour is being sponsored by the independent expenditure wings of progressive groups NextGen and MoveOn, and campaign finance law prohibits candidates from showing up at those events. “There are some stops that we are making that we are paying for from our own camp, where we can invite candidates or other campaigns, or whatever it may be,” Sanders says. “I don’t have all of the details yet.”

Sanders disagrees that any candidate's hesitancy has anything to do with the potency of his movement. “I think that’s corporate media hype,” he says. He points to the “huge increase” in soon-to-be progressive House members expected to join the so-called Squad when Congress reconvenes in January. “If you look at underlined, strong — not somebody who vaguely calls himself or herself a ‘progressive’ — progressives, there will be more in the United States Congress than ever before in modern American history.” Of the planks of Biden’s economic agenda that were defeated in Congress last year, Sanders remains confident they reflect the will of the American public. “Everything that I have fought for, and virtually every provision in the Build Back Better plan that was defeated by Manchin and Sinema, every one of those positions is enormously popular,” he says. ...Read More
Digging Deeper into the Current Conjuncture:
Photo: Steve Bannon and Kash Patel

Steve Bannon Says Republicans Will Teach Democrats A Lesson 'by Bayonet'
By Brandon Gage 

Oct 27, 2022 - White nationalist and twice-convicted felon Steve Bannon told Kash Patel – who served as chief of staff to the acting secretary of defense under former President Donald Trump – that Republicans are going to go after Democrats "with a bayonet" if the GOP wins majorities in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate in the November midterm elections.

"What word of advice would you give to leadership in the House in the next two weeks and then after they take power?" Bannon asked Patel on Wednesday's edition of War Room: Pandemic. Patel proceeded to reference COVID-19 conspiracy theories and threaten Democratic Capitol Hill lawmakers.

"It's simple. I said, I have no problem going around the country campaigning for you because you care about America First values. And you better not forget the things that you campaigned on: accountability, destroying the two-tiered system of justice, and ending the politicization of law enforcement in our military. Gone are the days where you force individuals who are brave enough to serve this country to choose between faith and a fake China virus jab.

These things have to be front and center. Reinstating those law enforcement military personnel that were removed from their positions because they chose faith over a jab that wasn't fully tested," Patel replied, noting that Representatives Adam Schiff (D-California), Eric Swalwell (D-California), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) are among the lawmakers that the right-wing would like to get rid of.

"But what I'm going to remind these people of that we're sending to Washington -- the [Nevada GOP Senate candidates][Adam] Laxalts [Nevada], the Blakes [Masters of Arizona], the JDs [Vance of Ohio] and everybody else -- is that you guys, on these committees, with the majority, have to come in and subpoena everybody and every record and put them out for the American people, not keep them to yourselves.

Two: you got to kick all these people off the committees like they did to us," Patel continued. "Watermelon head Schiff, Swalwell and company, AOC, and the whole squad have no business touching the American Constitution because they have lit it on fire for the last five years. And they will not be permitted to have leadership positions of any kind."

Patel also said that Republicans "will conduct a full-scale overhaul of the intelligence and law enforcement communities, whether it's with – through a Church-like commission or otherwise. Every member of Congress and every senator needs it be known that when they're sworn in on January 1st, they were sent there for these reasons. This is why the American public sent you there. And if they forget, I'm going to come on your show and remind them, by name."

But Bannon thought that harsher measures are necessary. "No, we're going to do it by bayonet," he stated. "By the way, MSNBC, you want something to complain about, about Kash Patel? Just – we'll cut this segment. You just listen to what he just said 'cause that's gonna be reality."

Why Elon Musk’s Idea of 'Free Speech' Will Help Ruin America

Twitter without content moderation—and with Donald Trump and others reinvited—means that lies and disinformation will overwhelm the truth and the fascists will take over.

By Brynn Tannehill
The New Republic

Oct 26, 2022 - After months of legal wrangling, Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter appears to be finally going through. Musk and the right see this as a great thing because it will restore “free speech” to Twitter. Any suggestion that the sort of “free speech” they envision can have highly undesirable consequences is met with howls of “Libs hate free speech” or other accusations of fascism. Similarly, warnings that unfettered free speech results in dangerous misinformation spreading are derided with “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” and the libertarian belief that in the marketplace of ideas, the best will always win out.

These theories will be tested quickly. It is being reported that after the sale is finalized, Musk plans on laying off nearly three-quarters of Twitter’s staff and that one of the first things to go will be any corporate attempt at content moderation and user security. Musk also plans on restoring the accounts of high-profile sources of disinformation and violent messaging who were previously banned, most notably former President Trump.

The pro-Musk arguments are complete nonsense, and there are innumerable historical and modern examples of why social media platforms with nearly unlimited freedom of speech produce horrors. The Supreme Court decided free speech isn’t absolute long ago, when Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted that you can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, for obvious reasons.

First, freedom of speech has caused untold death and suffering when used to disseminate hate or spread disinformation. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a fabricated antisemitic text that purported to expose a global baby-murdering Jewish plot bent on world domination. Mein Kampf was Hitler’s autobiography, which blamed Germany’s post–World War I woes on a global Jewish conspiracy. Both were readily available in the Weimar Republic, which had no First Amendment per se but guaranteed freedom of speech. They were key contributors to the fall of German democracy, the rise of the Third Reich, and the Holocaust itself.

In modern times, lack of moderation on social media sites has repeatedly contributed to mass murder. The Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter killed 51 Muslims at two mosques after being radicalized on YouTube, 4Chan, and 8Chan. The shooter who killed 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh had been radicalized on the social media site Gab, which advertised itself as the “free speech” alternative to Twitter. Dylann Roof killed nine people at the historically Black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, after he self-radicalized online. Investigations revealed that Google searches steered him further and further into extremist propaganda and hate.

The carnage caused by misinformation spread by social media goes far beyond massacres by racists, antisemites, and Islamophobes. Over one million Americans have died of Covid-19, and at least 25 percent of those deaths were preventable if people had gotten vaccinated. Many others could have been prevented if people had worn masks, socially distanced, believed the disease was real, or otherwise behaved in a rational manner. ...Read More
Ahead of Halloween, Sysco Teamsters Give Corporate Ghouls the Heebie-Jeebies

By Luis Feliz Leonen
Labor Notes

Oct 25, 2022 - Teamsters in Plympton, Massachusetts, won their strike at America's largest wholesale food distributor with an old-fashioned militant tactic: the mass picket line.

The Sysco strike broke out on October 1. At first there were 100 workers, each with a picket sign, walking a little circle in the driveway leading to the warehouse.

But in the early morning of Monday, October 17, a throng of fellow Teamsters swelled the crowd to 400. A dozen positioned their tractor-trailers athwart exits to block scabs from leaving and entering. Thirteen workers got arrested.

And three days later, Teamster Local 653 members ratified a new contract, 215-2, with an $11 boost in pay over five years, improved retirement, and untouched health insurance benefits.

Sysco drivers and warehouse workers supply poultry and produce to restaurants, hospitals, and schools. Nationwide, more than 10,000 of them are Teamsters.

The Massachusetts strike was part of a round of coordinated bargaining. Sysco Teamsters also won new contracts in Arizona and in Syracuse, where they scored a $7 pay boost and defeated the company’s plan to break up the weekend for new hires.

The 250 Sysco Teamsters at Local 104 in Arizona had refused to work October 3 and 4 in support of their fellows in Massachusetts—even after securing their own contract with a month-long strike.

In response, the company sued the union, accusing it of violating the federal ban on secondary strikes. As part of the strike settlement, Sysco has now withdrawn all lawsuits.

Other Teamsters leafleted Sysco customers in Chicago, Minnesota, and Los Angeles.

“We're working together to make sure that employers know we are one union, and we fight,” said Local 653 Business Agent Bryan Voci.


Forty miles north in Boston, UPS driver Greg Kerwood got the call on Sunday for the mass picket.

“It was old school—unions shutting the thing down,” he said. “It’s a magical feeling, the solidarity and the power that comes with it; the connection that’s made by standing together shoulder to shoulder, holding the line.

“There’s no question that the victory for the Sysco workers was a direct result of Monday’s action. And that’s the kind of power workers have, if we can get to the point where we realize it and we use it."

Kerwood arrived at 1 a.m. Monday morning. But it wasn’t until 2 a.m. that the convoy of trucks rolled in—some from his own Local 25, and others from Rhode Island, Philadelphia, and as far away as Minnesota.

“We were up the driveway in front of where the trucks came rolling in, honking their horns,” he said. “Everybody could see them coming. We all ran down the hill to them.

“We had about 400 Teamsters and about 100 police officers and a whole line of Teamster trucks. The police were mixed in with us and surrounding us, and we were surrounding them, and it was like a dance for about two hours.

“At some point, the police decided that they were going to open up the road and let the Sysco trucks through, and they brought the wagons in. They huddled up like a football team. Then they turned around, locked arms, and said, ‘You guys got five seconds to move, or we’re gonna start arresting people.’

“That’s when they started to push forward. We didn’t move, and they grabbed some of the leadership, some of the rank and file, and threw them in the wagon.”

Kerwood was among those arrested. “It’s not anything heroic,” he said. “It just so happened that I was in the front.”

Voci confirmed that only 13 people were arrested, and they were charged with disorderly conduct; a police statement had inflated the number and misreported the charges as assault and battery.

Still, “it was unjust for the cops to even overstep the line and arrest them,” said Voci, who was also among those detained. “Picketers were walking in solidarity. They were continuously moving, expressing their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.”


The ratified contract in Plympton includes an immediate pay bump of $5. The current yearly salary of $80,080 will rise 39 percent to $111,540 by the end of the contract. With soaring inflation driving up the prices of gas and food, workers are demanding pay hikes that keep up with these spiraling costs of living.

Sysco can afford it. The company raked in $68 billion in sales last year, with net earnings of $1.4 billion, according to the company’s 2022 annual report. CEO Kevin Hourican hauled in $23 million.

The company had tried to force health care concessions, but the Plympton workers kept their current coverage and workers are still responsible for 20 percent of premiums. The contract also adds overtime language where sick days, personal days, and holidays count towards the overtime threshold for the week.

Workers didn’t get on the Sysco pension plan. But the 60 members who had made contributions to the pension plan before it was frozen years ago will get two of their best years credited to the plan. “So if an individual made a hundred grand on those two years, it equals out to about $250 a month for the rest of their life added into their existing pension,” said Voci.

The other members won an increase in the employer’s contribution to their 401k retirement plan.


Kerwood and 350,000 Teamsters at UPS are gearing up for a potential strike next year at the second-largest private sector employer in the country. The 15-day strike at UPS in 1997 cost the company roughly $620 million—the equivalent of more than $1 billion today.

The Sysco strike is meant to signal the union’s renewed fighting spirit. “Corporations will fear the Teamsters,” said General President Sean M. O'Brien in a press release. “Any company that bullies workers will be met with the full firepower of this union.

“Our momentum cannot be stopped. We still have open contracts around the country, and we will strike again and again to protect our members.”

Luis Feliz Leon is a staff writer and organizer with Labor Notes. ...Read More
‘Hit The Go Button’: The Six Years That Made Baseball’S Minor League Union

By Evan Drellich
The Athletic

Oct 27, 2022 - When the longtime activist Bill Fletcher Jr. told friends he wanted to help minor leaguers form a union, they reacted the same way they had when he said he wanted to write a novel.

“Sort of a combination of disbelief, and not taking it very seriously,” said Fletcher. “Treating it as, I guess, ‘Bill has a lot of time on his hands, this is a hobby,’ or something like that.”

In his day job, Fletcher helps different nonprofit, labor and community organizations grow. He was previously the president of the TransAfrica Forum, and well before that, a Mets fan. But by his own admission, he was worse than mediocre as a Little League player, and eventually he stopped paying baseball much attention.

An AFL-CIO meeting in Milwaukee in 2000 rekindled his interest. Once a senior staffer at that powerhouse collection of unions, Fletcher picked up an airline magazine, which carried a piece about Curt Flood. Fletcher had forgotten about Flood’s seminal fight against the reserve clause, the language that restricted players from signing with a different team.

“That’s when I fell back in love with baseball,” Fletcher said, “And it was basically for social reasons, social justice.”

Many years later, in 2016, Fletcher’s wife, Candice Cason, read a Washington Post story about the plight of minor league baseball players under the headline, “Baseball’s minor leaguers pursue their dreams below the poverty line.”
Among those featured in the piece was a player in the San Francisco Giants’ system, Matt Paré, who had put together a YouTube series on minor league life, called “Homeless Minor Leaguer.” Paré was sleeping in the dining room to cut costs for him and his teammates, and had accumulated a pile of credit card debt. Cason passed the story on to her husband.

“Bill,” she said, “these folks need a union.”

When he read the story himself, Fletcher felt the conditions minor leaguers faced were serious. That, in fact, players were living a life reminiscent of agricultural workers.

“The incredible poor level of pay, the precariousness of their existence, that there was no housing,” said Fletcher. “Not necessarily having enough money to pay for food.”

Another San Francisco Giants minor leaguer, Garrett Broshuis, was quoted in the story as well. Broshuis was done playing and had become a lawyer. A couple years earlier, he had filed a groundbreaking lawsuit on behalf of minor leaguers, alleging that MLB and its teams had violated state and federal wage laws.

Quickly, Fletcher, decided he would reach out to Broshuis. A response came back in one day.

The credit for the new minor league baseball players’ union lies with thousands of players. But leaders were needed too, and beyond Fletcher stood three ex-players.
The Major League Baseball Players Association and its executive director, Tony Clark, welcomed the minor leaguers into the big league union, providing guidance and funding beforehand. Harry Marino, a player turned lawyer who became executive director at the non-profit Advocates for Minor Leaguers, led a complex orchestration that melded player outreach with political and public pressure. And Broshuis, also a player turned lawyer, co-founded that non-profit, which led the organizing work no group had taken on before.

Broshuis considers himself “an unlikely advocate.”

From a small town in southern Missouri, he didn’t know many attorneys, much less labor attorneys. Neither of his parents went to college. His father, a mechanic and driver who worked on 18 wheelers and Caterpillar machinery, had been in different unions, but nothing about Broshuis’ upbringing suggested he would wind up spearheading a labor movement.

A standout in school and as a pitcher, Broshuis was drafted by the Giants in 2004, and began writing about his experience as a player for The Sporting News. At the time, it was rare for the media, never mind players or anyone else directly involved with the minors, to talk about salaries, or the difficulty players had finding housing. The minors were treated as a proving grounds, a sacrifice intrinsic to the sport.
What Broshuis did carry from a young age, instilled by his parents, was a sense of fairness, and a willingness to stick up for those who were treated poorly. Playing in the minors, he quickly realized “things weren’t being done the right way.”

Still, when he started to chronicle his experience publicly, he took a softer touch.
“Dissidents often use humor initially, because you can get by with humor more often,” he said. “I won’t say that I sugarcoated what I was writing about, but I definitely wasn’t as expressive as I could have been. That’s partly because the Giants made me email in every story before I sent it to the Sporting News for approval the first year. But over time, I became a little more outspoken.”
As an undergraduate, Broshuis studied psychology, and knew he wanted to pursue some sort of graduate program. He knew was unlikely to make the big leagues. But he realized he didn’t want to spend his time in a lab, and sought more of an immediate impact.

Broshuis can’t recall who passed on the late Don Wollett’s book to him, but Broshuis got his hands on it in 2009, his last year as a player. A longtime lawyer, Wollett published a relatively short work, “Getting on Base: Unionism in Baseball,” that made the case for minor league unionization.

The germ to go to law school grew. The idea of starting a union did, too.
“Before reading that book, it just always seemed like some fantasy to do something like that,” Broshuis said. “I started talking with teammates, talking with anybody who would listen, really. … It just didn’t go anywhere at all. I just don’t think players were quite ready then, and I wasn’t the right person then, either.”

Although Broshuis was a team leader as a player, he wasn’t yet the type yet to rock the boat.

“Agitation itself is not something that comes naturally to me,” he said. “People would act like I was wanting to talk about spreading the plague or something. There were definitely people who thought it was just absolutely crazy to be thinking about these ideas.”

In the clubhouse, on bus rides and during batting practice, Broshuis talked to teammates about wages, about how something needed to be done. He found sympathetic ears. But when the chats turned to action, no one wanted to be the first to step across the line.

When they connected in 2016, Broshuis and Fletcher immediately started brainstorming possibilities, and liked the idea of organizing a formal union. But the path would be steep.

“You’re talking about thousands of players spread out all over the country,” Broshuis said. “There is a tremendous fear players have of angering their employer. And there’s also a relatively high turnover rate in the industry. So all those things presented obstacles to organizing.”

Fletcher saw three options: The union representing big leaguers, the Major League Baseball Players Association, could organize the minor leaguers; a different union could do it; or the minor leaguers could create an independent union.

The third option was considered the least desirable, because it’s usually better to draw on the experience and resources of an established group. The MLBPA was considered the ideal choice, with not only deep pockets, but specific industry knowledge. But the duo knew convincing the Players Association would be tough. The powerful union had chosen not to represent minor leaguers for half a century, for many of the same reasons that Broshuis and Fletcher now would have to contend with.

“The notion that these very young, inexperienced people were going to defy the owners, when they had stars in their eyes about making it to the major leagues — it’s just not going to happen,” Marvin Miller, the famed founding executive director of the MLBPA, told Slate in 2012.

A friend of Fletcher’s had an idea: “Bill, remember the steelworkers?”

United Steelworkers, or the USW for short, was already woven into baseball’s labor history, for Miller had been one of the steelworker’s leading voices. But they were raised to Fletcher now because of more recent history. In 2014, with support from the USW, college football players at Northwestern made a bid to unionize.

“We felt that we had an obligation as organized labor to improve the lives of workers, and in that sense, we view these college athletes as workers,” said Fred Redmond, now secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, then a higher-up with the USW.
The effort ultimately did not come to fruition, but Fletcher, entrenched in the labor scene, had connections to Redmond and the USW, which already represented workers in industries other than steel.

“Most of the time, people read an article, and it might move them emotionally, but they don’t really do anything about it,” Broshuis said. “And there’s a small subset of people that might actually reach out to somebody asking how they can help. And there’s an even tinier subset of people that can reach out and actually have the ability to really do something about it. That’s what made Bill unique.”
By no later than 2017, talks with the steelworkers had begun. Fletcher sensed that the steelworkers’ union was genuinely excited about the possibility of working with minor leaguers, but momentum stalled. ...Read More
Photo: Giorgia Meloni

This Mussolini Reboot is Terrible: Italian Fascism Redux

By M. B. Dallocchio
Democratic Left at

OCT 5, 2022 - As an American who has recently relocated to Italy, my reaction after the election won by Giorgia Meloni’s far right-wing party Fratelli d’Italia was, “This Mussolini reboot is terrible.” However, I wasn’t surprised.

Living in Tuscany seemed like a dream-come-true at first, but the election results have removed what was left of the wine-colored lenses. 

As a combat veteran and a Chamorro woman–Indigenous to the Mariana Islands–I take this resurgence in Italian Fascism personally. Imperial Japan, an ally to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, occupied the Marianas in the Second World War and held my grandfather in a concentration camp while my grandmother and other relatives survived on coconut water and wild animals in the mountains to evade capture. 

Generational trauma added to my own PTSD has left me in a state of hypervigilance instead of being able to fully enjoy being here. 

It started before the September election. In my first week in Florence, after relocating from London this past July, an IKEA employee screamed at me for speaking English with my children. She bellowed, “Here, we speak Italian!” My immediate thought was, “Ma’am, this is an IKEA– and you literally have Swedish words printed in bright yellow on your uniform.” I replied in Italian as she began mocking me in Spanish until I pulled my phone out to record her. Was there a “blackshirt” under her uniform? 

On the bus ride back, an Italian woman in her sixties screamed at me for a bike placed near the door. I told her, in Italian, that it wasn’t mine. She continued to scream at me and stomp on the bike. My children were in shock, and I struggled not to let my PTSD influence a harsh response. 

With economic woes and failed governance, Italy is having an existential crisis, an ideal climate for far-right rhetoric and scapegoating. Enter Giorgia Meloni. 

Meloni is the leader of Italy’s far-right Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, or FDI), which has its roots in Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party. Note that she’ll never use the word out loud, because it is constitutionally illegal to define a party as fascist in Italy. 

After an election in which a third of Italian voters did not vote– which the New York Times called “a staggering result in a country where voter participation traditionally has been high”–Fratelli d’Italia crushed the election and, together with the Lega Nord and Forza Italia, while Il Partito Democratico (PD), the Democratic Party, emerged as the first party of the center-left. 

Some locals in traditionally leftist Tuscany try to reassure me that it’s not as scary as it seems. After all, even if Fratelli d’Italia reeks of cryptofascist, brain-dead zombies sporting the flag on a crucifix, they won’t be able to get any of those policies through. A new friend of ours shared their sentiments that this may be an opportunity for the Left to reorganize, as there are doubts that the far-right will make it past two years. After all, in the past 79 years there have been 73 governments. They also noted that many of these votes were the result of “protest votes” and the natural swing of the political pendulum. However, I’m skeptical.

The rise of far-right populism is a global phenomenon, and it is especially worrying in Italy because of Italian history.

Enter Steve Bannon

Meloni didn’t get to where she is without support, which includes from political operative Steve Bannon. Bannon had previously attempted to open a right-wing political academy, south of Rome in an effort to train European populist leaders in the art of political warfare, though Italy evicted his movement from its potential headquarters in 2021.

Bannon’s ties to Meloni since 2018 assisted her in bringing Fratelli d’Italia from only 1.7% of the vote in Italy to 45% with the coalition in this recent election. Although her being the first woman set to be prime minister in Italy since the birth of the republic would otherwise be call for celebration, Meloni is a dangerous woman with an agenda that will harm women and marginalized communities across the country. She is now in a position of power where she can turn those ideas–from anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQIA+, tax cuts for the wealthy, destroying social safety net programs, to other far-right policies–into reality. In the past, Meloni has echoed the anti-immigration stance of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, though right now she seems more focused on the typical “Christian Nationalist” agenda; her victory speech assailed “international financiers,” a not very subtle anti-Semitic dog whistle.

The future looks bleak– but only so long as everyone left of center stays fragmented, disorganized, and complacent. Although a right-wing coalition won this past election, if the Left and center-Left were able to work together, they could potentially surpass the right wing by several points. My hope is that Italians can find a way to come together and fight back against the rising tide of right-wing populism. Otherwise, I fear that the history of Italy will repeat itself. 

The reasons I love Italy are all what make it beautiful: the work of Artemisia Gentileschi and Leonardo Da Vinci; the architecture of the Romans that makes me want to shout Io Saturnalia!; and the food! Don’t even get me started on Nonna’s dishes or the culinary gems of each region that speak of a passion for leaving every taste bud mesmerized. From Dante to Gramsci to Ferrante, haunting words to which we should all pay attention. There is the beautiful and melodic language, with so many dialects and hilarious sayings that speak to my Chamorro soul. I discovered new creative realms in color-saturated films that led me to the treasure trove of Italian music. And last but not least, the love of my life is Italian and has been pro-Indigenous and supportive of us in fighting back against the infamous Doctrine of Discovery that propelled the exploitation of people around the world. Because in loving one another, neither of us had to lose our identity.

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières contains one of my all-time favorite quotes:

  • Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

Everything that makes Italy great has nothing to do with gazing back at the Second World War with longing. Silver-tongued Meloni’s ascent has made me see Italy less as the creative Goddess I was attracted to and more like patriarchal troglodyte Mussolini 2.0. If Italians love their country, they can’t give way to fear and superficial desire to blame everyone else but themselves. Because true love, including love for country, is about being honest. Being in love with fascist scapegoating is a romance that ends terribly, and as Louis de Bernières states, “Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away.”    ...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...
Photo: Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, Oct 23, 2022.

The Ukraine Conundrum

Democrats ask ‘what’s the endgame,’ then withdraw the question (which nonetheless persists).

By Harold Meyerson 
The American Prospect

Oct 25, 2022 - Now you see it; now you don’t. This afternoon, roughly 24 hours after 30 House Democrats sent a letter to President Biden urging him to try to negotiate a settlement of the Ukraine War with Vladimir Putin, the signatories withdrew the letter.

Turns out their signatures were gathered in early and midsummer, before Ukraine had begun some successful counteroffensives. At the time, Republicans had not yet been vowing to stop U.S. aid to Ukraine—a position the 30 Dems have made clear they oppose; they said they favored both negotiations and a continuation of aid.

Within the past week, however, Kevin McCarthy (who inspires no confidence he could identify Ukraine on a map) has promised that a Republican House majority would end aid to Ukraine, which made yesterday’s letter look like a piling on against Biden administration policy and Ukraine.

Apparently, most of the signatories didn’t know the letter would be sent yesterday; some appear to have believed it was effectively dead. Now, it is—though the questions it raised and the critique it posed remain unanswered.

That critique was posed most succinctly by George Beebe of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Beebe was quoted, in The Washington Post’s story that broke the news about the letter, as saying, “The risk of the [administration’s] strategy is it has no conception of an endgame.” That’s true enough, although the only parties that appear to have conceptions—albeit diametrically opposed ones—of an endgame are Russia and Ukraine.

Despite the ocean of uncertainty and contingency in which we all are bobbing around, there are, at least, a host of distinct, identifiable tendencies in how Americans and the West think about Putin’s war. To name just a few, there are, to begin, the simply wrong-headed, including:

The pro-Putin fascists. The faction’s founder was Pat Buchanan, who nearly two decades ago began writing that since Putin was clearly anti-gay, anti-feminist, something of a white nationalist, and an opponent of liberal democracy, the American right should embrace him. Subsequent adherents include Viktor Orban, Tucker Carlson, and some portion of the Trump undergrowth (Steve Bannon comes to mind), though most have thus far muted their support.

Wannabe tin-pots. Both Donald Trump and, last weekend, Silvio Berlusconi (whose party is one of the three now governing Italy) have expressed their admiration for Putin’s presumed toughness, autocratic verve, and (when they compare him to themselves) relative youth. This is not to say that these aging thugs aren’t also pro-fascist, but there’s a personal element here that shouldn’t be ignored.

Followers of the Republican base. Polling shows that the percentage of Republicans who want to cut off U.S. aid to Ukraine has now risen to one-third of party members and leaners—doubtless, the third most consumed by hatred of Satanic Democrats, and most susceptible to Trump’s and Tucker’s Putin-philia. This is a group that most Republican electeds, and Kevin McCarthy in particular, are mortally fearful of offending; hence the House GOP pledges to cut Ukraine off.

The small slice of the left that blames the U.S. for the war: For such as these, the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders is the casus belli that justifies Putin’s follies. To be sure, there were many on the left (including George Kennan and, well, me) who long ago wrote that NATO’s eastward march was a mistake, but most of us don’t think that exculpates Putin in the slightest for the murderous slaughter he’s chosen to wage. The anti-German stipulations in the Treaty of Versailles, after all, were not raised as a defense for the Nazi leaders at the Nuremberg trials.

Then there are those who support the U.S. support for Ukraine, in part or in whole. They include:

Foreign-policy traditionalists. This group appears to include such NATO advocates as Mitch McConnell, who may or may not go to the wall to defend democratic values (certainly not when it comes to voting rights for all Americans), but who oppose those who threaten American hegemony.

Foreign-policy traditionalists also committed to American hegemony but with a greater appreciation for democracy, and a desire to defend it and to fight fascism when possible, than Mitch McConnell has. I.e., the Biden administration, among others.
Liberals and progressives who are ever ambivalent about American hegemony but are die-hard democrats and anti-fascists. ...Read More
China View:
Move To Devastate China's Chip Industry Will Backfire On Washington
By Ding Gang
Global Times

In a recent New York Times article (published on October 21) analyzing the new US chip strangulation strategy against China, two words are used. The first appears in the headline, "Biden Just Clobbered China's Chip Industry." The English dictionary explains the word "clobber" as "defeat decisively or strike heavily."

Another word, "devastate," appears in the text, "Analysts I spoke to said the rules will devastate China's domestic chip industry, potentially setting it back decades." This word is often used to describe the tragic aftermath of war, "to lay waste; render desolate."

If we use the two words judging the reality and future of US-China relations, we will immediately think about "a war." It's a war without artillery fight. 

What we generally understand is that the Biden administration seeks to secure its dominance in this global high-tech frontier through a chip strategy. 

How this advantage is maintained and continued is probably the core. One of the most important strategic arrangements is to "devastate" China's chip and its related industries.

There is no cooperation, no win-win, only a blockade and "zero-sum" results. This is not containment, but strangulation. 

For high-end technology, one of the main drivers of China's future development, this is a real war.

Some American scholars have likened this to the oil embargo imposed on Japan by the US before the Pacific War. The metaphor here is that this could lead China, like Japan, to eventually go to war against the US. The logic of such an analysis is consistent with the US experience and historical view of empire and hegemony.

So far, China has not taken any strong countermeasures. What China has been emphasizing is to further strengthen its independent research and development, to break through the US' blockade with the spirit of self-reliance and hard work, and to concentrate its superior "forces" to move to the top of high technology.

China's policy is based on having a large-scale, all-round, multi-level manufacturing system, which also includes an industrial and scientific research base to advance to high-end chip technology.

Washington's introduction of a chip strategy has either intentionally or unintentionally ignored the laws that lead the development of the chip industry, as well as more high-tech fields. The US itself has also possessed a relatively large scientific research and industrial base to achieve high-end breakthroughs. This is mainly achieved on the basis of independent forces. Why is it possible for the US to succeed, but not for China?

Of course, the US control of chip exports and their equipment and technology to China will slow down China's breakthrough to the high-end. But that's a "slow down," not a collapse.

China is not without room to fight back. I'm afraid it's not just US companies that will lose a large market that allows them to reap huge profits. Given so many Americans use mid-range and high-end products containing "Made in China," if they are now to be without Chinese technology and manufacturing, can these products, including Apple phones, be produced properly? 

Remember, even American warplanes have parts that are made in China. This gives China enough space to design and operate a strong counterattack.

As for comparing China to World War II Japan, that would be a fundamental strategic mistake. The 20th National Congress of Communist Party of China clearly stated to the world China's basic foreign relations policy. China will never claim hegemony and never expand.

It is not that some people in the West are not aware of the logic of China's peaceful development. The reason why they will always use the old rhetoric to exaggerate China's aggressiveness out of nothing is fundamentally the creation of public opinion by capitalist forces in order to stifle China and hold on to its possession of the global market (including the seizure of the Chinese market).

The biggest thing the US forgets is that they are "fighting" against a country with a strong industrial base, and that the two countries are so deeply connected in the industrial and trade chains. If it wants to "destroy" China, even in just one or two industrial areas, first of all, get ready to be hit back.

The author is a senior editor with People's Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. Follow him on Twitter @dinggangchina ...Read More

Women’s Movement in Iran Has Already Secured a Major Victory

Oct 26, 2022 - As a feminist friend from Iran tweeted recently, the women’s movement in Iran has already secured a major victory. Women in Iran will never again be ignored or underestimated.

They have undeniably staked their claim to equal rights, inspiring many others to rise despite years of crushing repression and oppression. This is no small feat and an essential condition for any truly revolutionary movement. Through their struggle, they have also sparked a feminist transnational awareness that promises a new solidarity that crosses class, racial and religious boundaries.

Iranians around the world are sharing an unprecedented moment of national pride in solidarity with the uprising for freedom and justice in Iran. Entering its sixth week of sustained confrontation with the security forces of the Islamic Republic, the protests continue unabated while the death toll rises.

This spontaneous grassroots uprising was set in motion by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died after her arrest by the “morality police” for not observing a government-mandated Islamic dress code. Since late September, the uprising has grown from militant street protests led by young women to widespread national demonstrations.

Large student demon- strations in Tehran and many other cities have been met with arrests and bloody reprisals. University students have a long history of anti-dictatorship, anti-imperialist struggle in Iran going back to the months following the 1953 coup d’etat against the nationalist government of Mohammad Mossadegh. December 7 marks “Student Day” commemorating the killing of three Tehran University students during protests against then-Vice President Richard Nixon’s visit to Iran in that year.

Students have remained at the forefront of opposition to the Islamic Republic as witnessed during the militant and widespread 1999 student protests and again in 2009 during the Green movement. The current uprising includes elementary and high school students as well. The violent response by the authorities to their participation has alarmed the international community.

Workers enter the struggle

News of worker strikes in different industries including oil and petrochemicals has also brought the uprising to a new level, one that poses a deeper threat to the stability of the government. While reliance on oil has decreased in recent years, it remains a major source of government income. As in the 1979 revolution, the mobilization of workers in the oil industry is seen to be crucial to the success of the current uprising, both because of the economic impact it will have, and the influence it will have on workers in other sectors to strike as well.

Why are people risking their lives on the streets of Tehran and dozens of other cities across the country despite a relentless crackdown by Iran’s brutal security forces (police, plainclothes “Basiji” paramilitary, the army, and the powerful “Sepah” or Revolutionary Guards)?

“Woman, Life, Freedom” (Jin, Jiyan, Azadi), a slogan that originated in the Kurdish national movement and has been the movement’s rallying cry from day one, was first raised in protests in Saqqez, in Iranian Kurdistan (Mahsa Amini’s hometown).

It is attributed to Abdullah Ocalan, one of the leaders of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), who placed women at the center of the Kurdish liberation movement. During the recent uprising, it has united women and men, old and young, across class, religious and geographic boundaries around three major shared hardships: increasing violence against women, deteriorating living conditions, and an oppressive lack of personal and civil freedoms.

Other chants like “Death to the Dictator” and “Down with the Islamic Republic” focus on the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the regime itself, and clearly signify a call for a political revolution, reminiscent of the sentiment toward the shah in 1979.

The Iranian protest song “Baraye” (“For”) by Shervin Hajipour captures the country’s nascent revolutionary movement in its fullness. Hajipour, who was arrested soon after his song became the anthem for the movement (he has since been released), collected the hopes and sorrows of Iranians expressed on hundreds of different social media posts. From these he composed and set to music a simple but emotional inventory of the many motivations behind the freedom movement in Iran. It is not surprising that a campaign on TikTok urging users to submit the song for one of the Grammys’ new special merit awards resulted in the song receiving over 83 percent of the 115,000 nominations. ...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

China Today: What Happens When Women Are the Breadwinners?

Better educated and professionally successful, rising numbers of middle-class women are flipping the script on traditional gender and marital norms.

By Pei Yuxin
Sixth Tone

Oct 22, 2022 - For centuries, it was a truth universally acknowledged that a capable man must be in want of a weaker, more pliant wife. In China, the ideal spousal relationship has typically been described in terms of “a brilliant man and a beautiful woman” or “the man sings while the woman follows” — idioms that position women as supporting and sharing in the successes of dominant men. Women are encouraged to direct their efforts into the crown achievement of “marrying up” rather than pursue their own advancement. Their individual wins are, if anything, regarded as contra the interests of their marriage, family, and other intimate relationships.

More recently, however, women’s rising educational attainment, financial independence, and professional success has led many to feel increasingly comfortable flexing their strength at home. In some cases, this has led to greater equality, but in my research into female-dominated relationships in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, I also found a pattern of “reverse dependency,” in which financially dominant women flip the traditional matrimonial script and leave it to their husbands to make the sacrifices necessary to hold the relationship together.nts, I have given them all pseudonyms.)

My research participants are self-employed women between the ages of 30 and 50 who belong to China’s nouveau riche. Some are their families’ primary breadwinners; their salaries cover mortgages, car payments, afterschool tutoring for their kids, and everything else their families might need. Others split their financial responsibilities with their partners, paying for the bulk of their family’s expenses while their partners contribute a smaller share.

The majority felt comfortable making big family decisions on their own, including those related to investments, major purchases, and their children’s schooling. “I discuss major matters with my husband, but he never objects to anything I bring up,” said Miu Miu, a 38-year-old businesswoman who runs an e-commerce apparel store. “He takes charge on the things I don’t care about, but he always consults with me before making a decision.” (To protect the identities of my research participants, I have given them all pseudonyms.)

Yao Li, a 45-year-old owner of a consulting firm, was more forthright: “As long as I don’t ask my husband for money for anything, it’s all up to me.”

That’s not to say their husbands are always willing to adopt a subordinate role in the relationship. Miu Miu and her husband have had serious discussions about divorce, in part because he felt she wasn’t spending enough time at home caring for their kids. “Most men in China make the same demands of career women as they do of housewives,” she said. “When we’d argue years ago, he would say, ‘You’ve never made breakfast for me. Are you even still a woman?’”

One difference between these relationships and more traditional “strong husband-weak wife” pairings is the women’s refusal to bend, even when divorce is on the table. A few even use the threat of divorce themselves to bring their husbands in line. In Miu Miu’s case, she waited out her husband’s complaints, and he now willingly spends more time at home with their kids, leaving her free to spend her time as she wants.

Unsurprisingly, these high-earning women tend to have equally high expectations for their partners. All of my research participants expressed a desire for romance and passion, and they complained about the unromantic behavior of their past and current husbands. “Unromantic” here refers to a lack of sweet talk, flirting, or surprise gifts.

A few even use the threat of divorce themselves to bring their husbands in line.
- Pei Yuxin, sociologist

The women generally attributed this yearning for romance to the ideals of love and intimacy that have inundated them since adolescence. None of them considered romance essential to their relationships and families, however. Some respondents confessed to fantasizing about emotional affairs, but said they refused to act on the fantasies to avoid endangering their partnerships with their husbands. Others did have affairs but still saw themselves and their husbands as sharing the same fundamental interests. A third of my interviewees stated that no one else could replace their husband as the father of their children.

Based on my research, no matter how beautiful romance and passion can be, what these high-achieving, high-earning women value most is trust, security, and family. In other words, despite their occasional threats, they are willing to work to maintain their marriages and families, provided their husbands meet their needs.

Take Bella, for instance. A 45-year-old entrepreneur and mother of two, she runs a business with her husband. After discovering an emotional affair he had with an ex-girlfriend, she considered her options for a day before laying down an ultimatum. “If you still want to be with this family, then you have to promise me three things,” she recalled saying. “You’ll call her in front of me and tell her that you’ll never contact her again; you can’t ever buy speculative stocks; and you can’t have your own private funds.” He eventually agreed to her terms, albeit reluctantly.

Bella explained her decision to stay in her marriage in practical terms. “We co-own our company, and the money is on the company’s books, so how do you split that?” she said. “Wouldn’t our business just fail? Passion will always fade, but there are a lot of other considerations when you’re middle-aged.”

Of course, some marriages between “strong women and weak men” do fail, leaving the women to decide on their own what comes next. Qiao Qiao, the 43-year-old owner of a cultural and creative business, found out about her husband’s affair when she was pregnant and resolved to get a divorce. Afterward, she worked to make a name for herself as a writer and eventually rode the internet start-up wave to become an entrepreneur. With her newfound wealth, she has dated several boyfriends and currently lives with a man 19 years her junior.

Qiao Qiao understands clearly what her current boyfriend wants from her and is content with the arrangement. “I mean, he’s 19 years younger,” she said. “What do you think they want with me if not dependency, to struggle a little less for 20 years? … (And) what do I make money for anyway if not to make myself happy?”

“If he’s with me purely for the money, then there are so many others who are richer and more powerful than me, so why stay?” she added. “There are still feelings involved, but you also can’t say that money isn’t a factor. That’s just not possible, so don’t even think about it.”

Qiao Qiao’s attitude towards her boyfriend might be seen as transactional by many people, but it’s a price that she is willing and, just as crucially, able to pay. Women have different reasons for breaking off or continuing their intimate relationships, but at least in these cases, the decisions are invariably their own.

Ultimately, what my research participants want most in a life partner is respect, acceptance, and support — their own personal space, the right to negotiate and make individual decisions, and a safe space for intimacy. Their resources make this possible, but they’re also forging a path that other women can follow.

Translator: Katherine Tse; editors: Wu Haiyun and Kilian O’Donnell; portrait artist: Wang Zhenhao. ...Read More
Photo: Wilhelm Reich in the 1930s

‘The Fascism In Our Heads’

Reich, Fromm, Foucault, Deleuze And Guattari – The Social Pathology Of Fascism In The 21St Century

By Michael A. Peters
Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

  • The strategic adversary is fascism … the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us. It's too easy to be antifascist on the molar level, and not even see the fascist inside you, the fascist you yourself sustain and nourish and cherish with molecules both personal and collective. —Michael Foucault, Preface to the English edition, Anti-Oedipus : Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, 1983 [1972]. Translated from the French by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, p. xiil


The first two decades of the twenty-first century has been accompanied by the ‘return’ of fascist behavior and the cultivation of Fascist philosophy in the troubled liberal democracies of the West. We have also witnessed the consolidation of authoritarian one-party States in Russia, China, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, producing some non-traditional alliances across the East-West and North-South divides.1 Political theorists make various distinctions between totalitarianism, authoritarianism and fascism to advance both historical analysis and connections between civil society and authoritarianism.2 While they are all forms of government they differ in term of the power of the state, the cult and charisma of the leader, the limits of political freedom, the celebration of violence and in terms of the concept of desire. Fascistic sexuality based on domination and sex-authoritarianism in a ‘masculinist culture’ is fundamentally anti-women believing in general that women should be at home having and looking after babies. Increasingly, illiberal elements have appeared in democracies with the rise of anti-immigration, anti-environmentalist, racist and white supremacist parties and movements, as well as the rise and consolidation of various darknet terrorist networks across Europe, Latin American and the US.

In Europe the need to resurrect national identities that reflect the assertion of ‘pure’ ethnic and religious affiliations have accentuated strong nationalistic sentiments with an emphasis of concepts of sovereignty and territoriality as well as the appeal to racist ideas of ‘pure blood’ and ‘whiteness’. The rise of neofascist parties in Europe is often seen as a consequence of the mass ‘refugee problem’ of immigrants in Syria, Libya and North African states who are fleeing war or conflict, often instigated by the US and allies. Fascist parties in Germany, France, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Italy, Greece, Spain and other European countries have become extremely xenophobic insisting on limits to immigration and increased militarized borders (Peters & Besley, 2015).

The scholarly press is awash with reports of the ‘rise’ or ‘return’ of Fascism which is normally taken to be a specific historical period between the years 1919-1945, especially in Germany, Spain, and Italy. Many commentators emphasize the continuity with historical Fascism and focus on racism, eugenics, and white supremacy, based on the biopolitical paradigm of the ‘camp’ and policies for the extermination of Jewish and other groups including Roma people, communists, ‘homosexuals’ (LGBTQ), and the mentally ill, all of whom were classified as non-citizen and non-human in the eyes of the state (Agamben, 2000; Peters, 2018).

A study of the social pathology of neo-fascism in the twenty first century has given rise to a novel form of ‘radical right-wing populism’ characterized by ‘nativism (i.e., a combination of nationalism with xenophobia), authoritarianism (law and order issues), and populism (a populist critique of liberal democracy rather than outright anti-systemic opposition)’ (Copsey, 2013). The post-1980 ‘third wave’ was highly policized and dominated by emotional left-wing analysis. As Copsey (2013) explains:

  • Instead of viewing radical-right populism as a ‘normal pathology’ of liberal democracies - a pathology that is alien to democratic values and which, under normal conditions, is ever present but struggles to spread throughout the body politic - Cas Mudde contends that radical right-wing populism is best interpreted as pathologically normal, that is to say, both entirely unremarkable and whilst not necessarily part of the mainstream, is connected to it nonetheless.

Copsey (2018) wants to challenge the distinction between the ‘radical right’ and ‘fascism’ made by contemporary studies to suggest that ‘(neo)fascism’s past offers the best route to understanding the present-day radical right.’ In these terms education is best seen as challenging youth racism and the formation of far-right attitudes (Copsey, 2018; Copsey, Temple, & Carter, 2019).

Some scholars argue that this rise is a consequence of the failure of liberal citizenship to address historical oppression and to deliver on the promise of inclusion and the expansion of rights of citizenship as part of the emancipatory intent of the Enlightenment project (e.g., Tamás, 2000). Others see and the rise of White Nationalist and ‘Alt-right’ as a reaction to foreign policies pursued by the US and the West in a series of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syrian and the provocation of Iran that has caused the largest historical migration of displaced people into Europe (Bergman & Mazetti, 2019; Hinnebusch, 2007). For some Marxist theorists Fascism is a stage of capitalism precipitating an economic crisis that develops out of the decay of liberal institutions (Amin, 2014; Suvin, 2017). Each of these perspectives impinge on the question of citizenship and citizenship rights, although Suvin (2017) also depicts fascism as a mass social pathology under capitalism.

In this essay I want to follow a line of argument that puts the emphasis less on specific historical conditions and focuses instead on the psychology of fascism, in an argument first developed and explored by the much-maligned figure of Wilhelm Reich, whose work has been picked up in different ways by Eric Fromm, Michael Foucault and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Evans and Reid (2013) provide the general gloss on retheorising fascism and its relations with liberalism:

The problem of fascism today cannot simply be addressed as that of the potential or variable return and reconstitution of fascism, as if fascism had ever, or could ever, ‘disappear’, only to return and be made again, like some spectral figure from the past. The problem of fascism cannot, we believe, be represented or understood as that of an historically constituted regime, particular system of power relations, or incipient ideology. Fascism, we believe, is as diffuse as the phenomenon of power itself.

Neofascism defines the new age of politics after the decline of liberal internationalism. I do not hold to the thesis about the inevitable decay of liberal institutions under capitalism but do emphasise a culpability of liberalism in dealing with problems of citizenship that in part spring from its complicity with neoliberalism at the level of philosophical assumptions. This is clearly visible in the way in which the universities have been ‘corrupted’ and systematically closed down as institutions designed to protect liberal freedoms. By focusing on profit and grants at the expense of academic freedom by utilising public choice apparatus and policies universities have been turned into businesses with a corporate identity and voice, unable to intervene in social and political debates, especially when profits or reputation are at stake.

Reich and the psychology of fascism

Wilhelm Reich, the dissident Freudo-Marxist Viennese psychiatrist, colleague of Freud and erstwhile member of the Frankfurt School, published The Mass Psychology of Fascism in 1933 with the aim of explaining why Germany turned towards Fascism rather than Communism in the period 1928-1933. He reasoned that one of the main factors was that the working class chose Fascism principally because of increased sexual repression which was basis of repressed sexual energy turned toward authoritarianism. This was in marked contrast to the relative sexual liberation of revolutionary Russia. He was at pains to explain a central conundrum:

What was it that caused [the masses] to follow a party the aims of which were, objectively and subjectively, strictly at variance with their own interests? (Reich, 1946 [1933], p. 34).

Why do people seek their own repression under authoritarian regimes when it is clearly against their own self and class interests? Why do people crave an authoritarian figure, a transcendent authority behind which they can mask their repression of all-powerful biological impulses that percolate through to the rational mind often accompanied by violent outbursts? The ideology of Germany at the time was an ‘affective ideology’ anchored in emotions rather than argument.

Reich joined the communist Party in 1928 and visited Russia in 1929, studying nurseries and schools. In The Sexual Revolution he praised the undermining of the bourgeois patriarchal family through the process of collectivization and warned against the banning of homosexuality. He was one of the first to examine the social pathology of fascism as a psychological condition that adopted a Freudo-Marxist approach:

In 1932, on the eve of Hitler’s triumph in Germany, he worked with Erich Fromm, Karl Landauer, the director of the Frankfurt Psychoanalytic Institute and Heinrich Meng at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, the beginning of the merging of Marxism and Psychoanalysis. [corrected]

Reich saw sexual repression in society as the origin of psychological repression in the mind of an individual. Thus Reich urged a sexual revolution and greater sexual freedom in order to reduce the prevalence of neuroses, and facilitate the development of a more healthy political life.

In his approach to the psychology of Fascism he used an approach he call Sex Pol that related the economic to the psychological to argue that the nexus was the authoritarian family that embodied the structures and ideologies of the authoritarian state. As he put it:

Suppression of the natural sexuality of the child, particularly of its genital sexuality, makes the child apprehensive, shy, obedient, afraid of authority, “good” and “adjusted” in the authoritarian sense; it paralyzes the rebellious forces because any rebellion is laden with anxiety; it produces, by inhibiting sexual curiosity and sexual thinking in the child, a general inhibition of thinking and of critical faculties. In brief, the goal of sexual suppression is that of producing an individual who is adjusted to the authoritarian order and who will submit to it in spite of all misery and degradation. At first, the child has to adjust to the structure of the authoritarian miniature state, the family; this makes it capable of later subordination to the general authoritarian system. The formation of the authoritarian structure takes place through the anchoring of sexual inhibition and sexual anxiety (Reich, 1946 [1933], pp. 25–26).

Fascism is thus not simply an ideology in the sense of being part of a cognitive schema; it is anchored in the body, in desire and the emotions. Reich argued that suppression of natural genital child sexuality can produced malformed political subjects with a sense of powerlessness and aggression, who is always looking for a father figure on the analogy of the patriarchal family.

Reich biologizes sex and desire and ties fascism to the patriarchal structure of the family. His views not unsurprisingly were seen as suspect from the start. He was expelled from the German Communist Party and later the International Psychoanalytic Association. His books were burned by the Nazis and later after emigrating to the US his work came under attack and under a judge’s orders his books and other apparatus were destroyed. He was imprisoned in 1957 at Danbury Federal Prison and later Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary where his mental health was examined. He later died the same year in Lewisburg.

Fromm’s humanism, alienation and freedom

Eric Fromm, a German-escapee Jew who fled to New York when the Nazis came to power was a prominent social psychologist and philosopher associated with the Frankfurt. He published Escape from Freedom in 1941 that later became known in Britain as Fear of Freedom (1942). It was one of the foundation texts of political psychology. He was interested to explore the psychological conditions that gave rise to the Nazi regime. Fromm distinguished between negative freedom (freedom from) and position freedom (freedom to) where the former referred to freedom from state and social conventions and the former, a mark of authenticity, that laid the basis for an integrated personality through creative acts. The latter requires the overcoming of feelings of hopelessness and struggling to free oneself from authority but personal authenticity often is not achieved and gives way to the replacement of the old system by submitting to a new authoritarian system. He begins The Fear of Freedom (1942) with ‘Talmudic Saying Mishnah, Abot’: ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself only, what am I? If not now– when?’ In the Preface he goes on to lay out his argument:

It is the thesis of this book that modern man, freed from the bonds of preindividualistic society, which simultaneously gave him security and limited him, has not gained freedom in the positive sense of the realization of his individual self; that is, the expression of his intellectual, emotional and sensuous potentialities. Freedom, though it has brought him independence and rationality, has made him isolated and, thereby, anxious and powerless. This isolation is unbearable and the alternatives he is confronted with are either to escape from the burden of this freedom into new dependencies and submission, or to advance to the full realization of positive freedom which is based upon the uniqueness and individuality of man (p. ix)

The task he sets himself is to understand ‘the reasons for the totalitarian flight from freedom’. He sought to understand why millions in Nazi Germany sought ways of escaping freedom: ‘eager to surrender their freedom’, ‘instead of wanting freedom, they sought for ways of escape from it’ (p. 3). And he quotes Dewey (1940) to good effect:

The serious threat to our democracy … is not the existence of foreign totalitarian states. It is the existence within our own personal attitudes and within our own institutions of conditions which have given a victory to external authority, discipline, uniformity and dependence upon The Leader in foreign countries. The battlefield is also accordingly here– within ourselves and our institutions (p. 3) [Freedom and Culture).

It is worth referring to Fromm’s questions that he sets himself:

  • These are the outstanding questions that arise when we look at the human aspect of freedom, the longing for submission, and the lust for power: What is freedom as a human experience? Is the desire for freedom something inherent in human nature? Is it an identical experience regardless of what kind of culture a person lives in, or is it something different according to the degree of individualism reached in a particular society? Is freedom only the absence of external pressure or is it also the presence of something–and if so, of what? What are the social and economic factors in society that make for the striving for freedom? Can freedom become a burden, too heavy for man to bear, something he tries to escape from? Why then is it that freedom is for many a cherished goal and for others a threat? (p. 4)

Fromm (1947) further developed his humanist theory of alienation in Man for Himself by distinguishing ‘character orientations – one ‘productive’ and four ‘non-productive’: receptive, exploitative, hoarding, and marketing. These ideas became the basis for his The Sane Society (1955) and his highly successful The Art of Loving (1956) that completes his theory of human nature by arguing that love is a skill that can be taught and developed.

Foucault’ ‘introduction to a non-fascist life’: bio-power and neoliberalism

In the Preface to Anti-Oedipus (Deleuze & Guattari 1983), Foucault observes that fascism is already in ‘everyday behavior’; it is ‘the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us’ (Foucault, 1983, p. xiii). The Rosa Luxemberg Stiftung (RLS) (2017) express the essence of Foucault’s approach

Ever since the rise of Italian fascism and German Nazism in the first part of 20th Century and up till today the term fascism comprised the terminological core of left-wing (especially socialist) theoretical and political projects…

Michel Foucault’s discovery in the 1960s of “everyday life fascism” is a symptomatic example. Foucault’s reconceptualization of fascism strove to shift the analytical focus from big political personalities, parties, movements and regimes of the early 20th Century towards the “tyrannical bitterness” of our minds, and actions that endow us with the lust for power and domination.

Yet RLS also argue that Foucault’s reconceptualization also suffers from the abstract nature and level of generality of the concept that does not provide enough discrimination among mechanism of power relations.

Foucault investigated the resurgence of Fascism in terms of the political framework of bio-power demonstrating interesting and useful conceptual links

between the bio-politics of neoliberalism and the extreme bio-politics of Nazism/Fascism, where many disabled, and mentally ill people, or just those labelled as “antisocial” were described as economically bad investments and termed Unnütze Esser (useless eaters), or simply Lebensunwertes Lebens (life unworthy of life)….

In Foucault’s works Fascism had its origins in bio-politics and ideas from psychiatric history such as eugenics and degeneration theory, which justified state racism and extreme violence in order to maintain a certain “social body.” (York, 2018).

Deleuze and Guattari, and the social production of fascist desire

Holland (1987) provides a clear analysis of ‘Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life’ through Deleuze and Guattari’s (1983 [1972]) Anti-Oedipus emphasising that while the work was addressed to the way fascism manifests itself in our behaviour and how we can thus deal to it, the work was directed toward ‘both the radical nature of the new student and worker demands and the reactionary nature of the opposition voiced by the Communist Party and other supposedly “radical” institutions.’ He goes on to note that Anti-Oedipus for Foucault was not a ‘grand synthesis’ but that Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘materialist psychiatry’ does emerge as an intersection among the three great materialisms of Marx, Nietzsche and Freud.

Parts of the Freudian conceptual apparatus are retained, but are then grafted onto a historical perspective derived in part from the Marxian notion of modes of production; the basic value system of schizoanalysis, finally, is grounded in a Nietzschean critique of consciousness and celebration of unconscious will-to-power. The lines of interference among these materialisms meet in a notion of general semiosis that includes the investment of energy in all domains of human endeavor, from the production of value in a factory, for example, to the production of consensus in a political formation, to the production of meaning in a work of art.

The concept of desire enables Deleuze and Guattari to production as an investment of human energy that produces social reality, ‘both in the economic sense of labor-power shaping the material world and in the cognitive sense of psychic drives shaping the phenomenal world’… and ‘libidinal and social production are for schizoanalysis simply two domains of application of the same general semiosis.’ ...Read More

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History Lesson of the Week:
With the outbreak of war, the IWW’s strategy stayed the same: they would work to organize workers and win concessions. Wartime conditions brought about a shortage of labor, giving the IWW an advantage in bargaining and recruitment. The IWW longshoremen’s union in Philadelphia, Local 8, for instance, had gained virtual control over the docks vital for shipping war material across the Atlantic. 1 

Despite the lack of official anti-war activities, however, the IWW allowed its members to undertake anti-war activism on their own time, and left the choice of whether to cooperate with conscription up to individual members.

Harvey O’Connor, a young lumber worker and IWW member at the time of war, attended anti-war and anti-conscription rallies and marches, and worked for the anti-war Seattle Daily Call. He also describes the case of Louise Olivereau, who worked in the IWW office in Seattle. Olivereau advocated opposition to conscription and urged men not to register, all on her own time and money. When she was arrested, she admitted to distributing over 2,000 pamphlets.

Opposition to conscription proved to be an explosive issue. O’Connor characterized support for conscription in much of the country as begrudging at best, anti-war activism soon rallied around the question of conscription. The Seattle branch of the AUAM re-formed into the No-Conscription League, which declared that conscription would “Prussianize” America.3 These anti-conscription advocates opposed the draft for a variety of reasons, from pacifism to questions of constitutionality to anti-capitalist politics. Though only some advocated breaking the law, anti-conscription activism would soon form the main justification of governmental repression.

 Simmering opposition to conscription finally exploded in the Green Corn Rebellion in August 1917. Oklahoma tenant farmers and farmhands had organized into the Working Class Union (WCU) after questions of the class status of tenant farmers, who hired farmhands as workers, led to their rejection from the IWW. Following attacks on the Seminole county sheriff and acts of sabotage of local infrastructure, the WCU planned a mass march on Washington to force Wilson to repeal the draft. The group was surrounded and attacked before they could leave, however, and 450 were arrested for their part in the rebellion that had claimed 3 lives.4 

1. Howard Kimeldorf. 1999. Battling for American Labor: Wobblies, Craft Workers, and the Making of the Union Movement. University of California Press: Berkeley. 50-53
2. Harvey O’Connor. 1964. Revolution in Seattle: A Memoir. Monthly Review Press: New York. 80-105
3. O'Connor, 85
4. Nigel Anthony Sellars. 1998. Oil, Wheat, And Wobblies: The Industrial Workers of the World in Oklahoma, 1905-1930. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman. 77 ...Read More

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Firestorm in LA: Racism Redraws the Lines
from the Oct 26, 2022 Bulletin
California has been running extra hot and dry these days, and now a political firestorm has erupted in Los Angeles, destroying careers that took decades to build and rearranging the local political landscape.
That firestorm erupted after the leak of a private conversation between four high-ranking Mexican@ leaders that used extreme racist language to belittle Blacks, Indigenous Oaxacans who live in LA’s Koreatown, Jews, and Armenians. No one — except whites — escaped the vulgar vitriol. The subsequent explosion of outrage reached all the way to the White House. Joe Biden called on all four to resign.
Most all the attention has so far focused on the taped conversation’s racism. But we shouldn’t overlook what the conversation happened to be all about: a move to gerrymander existing electoral districts mainly at the expense of current Black districts. We usually associate gerrymandering with election-manipulating white Republicans. Here, by contrast, we had Latin@ Democrats plotting not just racist dirty deeds, but deeds deeply anti-democratic.
In the wake of this scandal, who’s now going to get the votes of the many folks of Mexican origin and descent who live in LA? Even without gerrymandering, veteran political activist Valentin Ramirez notes in our interview this week, this firestorm may have altered the lines that determine how people cast their ballots.
The most lasting lesson from this entire episode? You can’t count on your own “kind” to have your back. Just because candidates hail from where you do doesn’t mean they’ll adequately represent you. LA politicians can no longer automatically take for granted loyalty due to national or racial identification. Who really feels your pain? Who will alleviate it? Your answer will be the name where you should mark your x.
And if a new alliance of those on the margins should take hold, the marginalized will be able to do more than oust those who call for that loyalty and then betray their trust. They’ll be able to take down the white establishment figures who’ve been watching the firestorm, as usual, well outside a safe and sound distance. ...Read More

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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.

Video for Learning: Donald Trump voters are interviewed by MSNBC about the January 6 riots and it's an absolute nightmare of disinformation.   7.6min
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TV Review: ‘Alaska Daily’ Shows Us an Appealingly Dogged Side of Hilary Swank
Photo: Hilary Swank, left, Grace Dove in "Alaska Daily."
Courtesy of Darko Sikman/ABC

By Daniel D'Addario

Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight” is the single best film about journalism of our era. So while it comes as no surprise that the writer-director’s take on life at a daily paper for ABC is substantially better than the average 2020s network drama, it’s certainly good news.

On the McCarthy-created “Alaska Daily,” Hilary Swank plays Eileen Fitzgerald, a high-powered newspaper reporter whose reporting comes into question in the pilot’s early going; her losing her job is as much about the claims against her work as it is about the fact that her sudden vulnerability opens up a conversation about her habit of talking down to colleagues. Suddenly, she’s spinning her wheels, endlessly reporting a book that may never see daylight; the conditions are perfect for her to accept the offer of a former mentor (“Scandal’s” Jeff Perry, excellent) to take a job in Anchorage.

Swank, who has not consistently been served well by television, has a strong handle on her character here — it’s a type she has always played well, so hard-driving that she can be willfully blind to her flaws. Eileen’s competitive streak means that she lives very close to the edge, and what feels to her like passion looks for all the world like an unhealthy addiction to anger, culminating in panic attacks.

The question the show poses for Eileen is whether she can share the best of her professional experience without succumbing, once more, to the ways in which being in the fray destroys her. And the setting provides ample opportunities to explore this challenge. Not merely is there rich and thoughtful texture in, say, the ways in which Eileen and her new colleagues cover Alaska’s Native population —not a subject with which Eileen has deep familiarity, and one that her colleagues feel their paper has not historically done justice. Her colleagues’ relative greenness means that Eileen must find a way to school them without giving way to her worst impulses. (Her grudging, competitive but collaborative relationship with a younger reporter played by Grace Dove is a particularly sparkling element of the strong pilot.)

“Alaska Daily” is not entirely averse to cliché — Swank’s workaholic journalist is a type we’ve seen before, and a fish-out-of-water story has certain beats it will inevitably hit. But the strength of the show is in burrowing into character and situation to find something fresh behind the basics. The pilot shows promise for what may, with time and care, bloom into a strong entry on ABC’s schedule, and a welcome weekly dose of McCarthy’s sensitivity and skill ...Read More.
Book Review and Interview: Robin D.G. Kelly and 'Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Tradition'

The Nation

Even when African Americans have been actively denied time and space to dream, we have imagined other possibilities for the world around us. Jupiter Hammon, one of the first African Americans to publish poetry in the 18th century, envisaged a future in heaven that would make navigating the atrocities of being enslaved less absolutely crushing. Some 200 years later, the legendary poet and intergalactic recording artist Sun Ra would declare that outer space is the place for Black people to live and thrive outside of the strictures of white and Western dominance. All the while, Black radical movements have manifested visions of the new worlds, the improved material conditions and healthier social relations that would emerge if Black people were finally free to determine our own trajectories.

Robin D.G. Kelley has been at the forefront of chronicling the radical history of Black people. With wide-ranging work on the Alabama Communist Party, Thelonious Monk and modern jazz in the African diaspora, the Black working class, surrealism, and more, Kelley has tracked the revolutionary impulses of Black Americans across centuries, locales, and continents. In Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Tradition, Kelley mines the depths of Black political theory and praxis to show how Black people imagined new visions of what the world could be in their everyday lives, their activism, and their aesthetic practice. As the poet Aja Monet writes in a new forward for the 20th-anniversary edition of Freedom Dreams, “Kelley’s book offers us our history so we can create with a clearer vision for our future.” In the following interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, Kelley reflects on what this book’s reach has been since its original publication and how, perhaps, the idea of freedom has mutated under the various American regimes that have come into power since. —Omari Weekes

OMARI WEEKES: In the book’s new introduction, you write that it was “never meant to be a manifesto or a road map.… Instead, it humbly offered a different take on histories of social movements by centering their vision of the future.” When my students read excerpts from Freedom Dreams, they treat it much like a manifesto and an invitation to do radical thinking and imagining. I wonder if you wish you had thought about it more in those terms?

ROBIN KELLEY: Not at all. In fact, I’m even more convinced that it shouldn’t be a manifesto or a road map. The word you used just now, “invitation,” is perfect. It should be an invitation for us not just to study our history but also not to be locked in or bound by it either. And sometimes we’re looking for models when in fact that gets in the way of the work. The work is a struggle. That’s what movements do. Social engagement, participation, and struggle create the grounds for envisioning both the immediate and the future. When you’re engaged in social movements, you know when it’s time to throw away your manifesto, to revise it or rethink the way forward.. Because we’ve got to always be in a mode of improvisation, and I actually think there’s a relationship between improvisation and fugitivity. Improvisation is the most important tool you have to navigate both the catastrophe we’re facing and the counter-planning needed to move beyond that catastrophe.

OW: Could you talk a little bit more about what kind of impact you wanted this book to have?

RK: I wanted to create an alternative history of Black movements that are future-oriented and I chose struggles that may not be identified as successful and, in fact, reject the notion of success altogether. I wanted to write a history of movements that are demanding reparations, that are trying to get out of Dodge and are trying to find an alternative to the reality we have by leaving, whatever leaving may mean. I wanted to try to free a new generation of activists from the bonds of history and to show them that they have the right to make mistakes. We don’t give ourselves permission to make mistakes. Funders don’t give us permission to make mistakes. But we don’t always know; we figure it out together and make mistakes along the line. Part of my assessment of these movements was to recognize the mistakes, to recognize the limitations, and in fact, part of the new introduction and epilogue is also about the recognition of my own limitations in writing it.

One of the things that I learned over the last 20 years was even how that conception of what it means to create a transformative politics around the question of identity and identification was still limited because we’re only talking about, as Indigenous groups might say, the human nation. This whole planet and all of life are relations. And when you start to think that way, then you are way beyond it. We see in the flowering of movements new visions coming forward for what the future can look like, what emancipation can look like, what abolition can actually look like. None of those terms can ever be codified. You can’t come up with a definition of abolition and then stick with it for the rest of your life. That’s impossible. But that’s our job as intellectuals, we’re supposed to define our terms, and I’m like, Why can’t they be more elastic?

In that vein, I should add: Someone one day should go back and read all of the introductions and acknowledgements written by white left cultural studies people from 1990 until about 2000. Or even go beyond 2000 to right now. It’s amazing how even if they don’t name feminists of color or queer movements, they feel a sense of displacement, a sense of irrelevance. And that is exactly the problem. They have defined the center, and if they could just get out of themselves at the center then they’re going to recognize that their own subjectivity is part of what they have to grapple with.

OW: I’ve always been struck by the first chapter of Freedom Dreams, “‘When History Sleeps’: A Beginning,” and the way you use your childhood memories in Harlem and Washington Heights as a way of opening an aperture to this history of the Black radical tradition. Could you talk a bit about why you decided to begin your historical analysis here with the deeply personal?

RK: There was no other place to begin. To put it very simply, our mother was our first revolutionary teacher both in her practice and pedagogy. The whole framing of the book as a kind of third-eye view comes directly from her; there’s no other source. Political imagination requires praxis, the application of theory to, if not movements, then to everyday life. And my mother was engaged in praxis with us every single day in terms of what she made us look at, how she saw things, how she described things. Her spiritual practice was what drove her. A lot of people would have wanted me to talk about her growing up in Jamaica and how this shaped her politics. But, actually, it was strictly her discovery of Paramahansa Yogananda and her reading of the Bhagavad-Gita and the way in which she wanted to actually model a spiritual practice that all came from there.

Part of what she was trying to convey to us was a definition of freedom that does not depend on citizenship or the state to authorize it. It’s possible to seize freedom, to enjoy it, to create space for it, without necessarily overthrowing the government. We think of freedom as this elusive thing, but what she was saying is that there are ways to achieve it that we need to seize and embrace, even if they are momentary. And when we do that, it’s not the end of history. It’s the beginnings in many ways, because it provides that vision of what’s possible. It’s not the same as hope, but if you don’t believe that this other world is possible, then there’s no reason for you to get up in the morning and fight or love or actually try to see the beauty in the midst of the ghetto.
OW: I’m reminded of bell hooks and her essay “Theory as a Liberatory Practice,” and how critical theory, for her, was not unlike the way she was talking with her mother and the kinds of everyday conversations they were having about what it means to live in the world.

RK: That’s the beauty of the deeply radical politics envisioned in Black feminism. My colleague and friend Elsa Barkley Brown was one of the first historians to really draw on the lessons of her mother, the lessons of family, to use stories as a way of getting deep theoretical interventions in historical practice. She’s just one of many. bell hooks is also a great example; I mean, she walked the walk. ...Read More

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