This is part of the 4th Monday night series sponsored by
CCDS and our Socialist Educational Project (SEP)
Honoring Anne and Carl Braden and their stand against white supremacy.

January 24th, 9pm ET, 8pm CT, 7pm MT, and 6pm PT

We are honoring Anne and Carl Braden, lifetime fighters for racial and social justice. In the 1950's, in the height if the cold war, Anne and Carl Braden bought a house for a Black family in a white neighborhood. This is just one example from two lifetimes of fighting for equality and against white supremacy.

We will take this time to remember and learn from people who new them personally. . This fittingly happens on week after the Martin Luther King holiday and just preceding Black History Month. Please join us. (Zoom below)

Panelists:
Anne Lewis:  Anne comes out of a movement to make media that helps create opportunity for social change. She has made documentary films since the 1970¹s and was associate director and assistant camerawoman for HARLAN COUNTY, USA. Other work includes: Fast Food Women, Morristown: in the air and sun, and A Strike and an Uprising in Texas. Anne partnered with Mimi Pickering and Appalshop to make Anne Braden: Southern Patriot. For more information about Anne go to www.annelewis.org

Catherine Fosl:  "I’m a historian and a professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Louisville, where I was also founding director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research. I’m the author of three books on social movement history, including an award winning biography of Anne Braden entitled Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South (Univ. of Ky Press, 2006)."

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Jim Williams: a native Louisvillian, met Carl and Anne Braden in 1962. He was soon writing for The Southern Patriot and working closely with Carl and Anne, who assisted the formation of the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC). He frequently accompanied Carl on his organizing trips. “Anne never forgave me for leaving Louisville,” he says

Ira Grupper:  Civil Rights worker in 1960’s: N.Y.C., Georgia and Mississippi (SNCC—Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; COFO—Council of Federated Orgs.; MFDP—Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party). His distinguished civil rights jail record in the 1960’s spans both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. Moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1969 to join the staff of SCEF, the Southern Conference Educational Fund (at the request of its Executive Directors, Carl and Anne Braden). 
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When the civil rights struggle engulfed the South, Anne Braden was one of the courageous few who crossed the color line to fight for racial justice. Her history is a proud and fascinating one…Anne Braden is indeed a ‘subversive southerner’—a label she can wear with pride because she spent her life fighting to build a New South, where all our people could live together in freedom and equality.”
~ Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
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2022
The year we face, we must believe,
Will not be one to wail and grieve,
But one that clears the poisoned air
And brings us hope and not despair.
We must expunge these viral days
And freely go our chosen ways.
No longer live in Covid’s thrall
Is my fervent wish for one and all.
Seymour Joseph 
CCDS Stands with the Cuban People
All Out to Defend the Cuban Revolution
November 13,2021
 
 
On November 15th – the day that Cuba opens up to tourism following the months-long pandemic – the U.S. government has planned actions to subvert the economy and overthrow the government. Cuba’s socialist system with its pro-people policies is enshrined in its constitution after being voted upon by the overwhelming majority of the Cuban people. Thus, Cuban authorities have denied requests by counter revolutionaries to protest on November 15th – actions that are designed to undermine the government’s efforts to rebuild the pandemic-wrecked economy and inhumane U.S. sanctions. This is democracy and sovereignty – the right of the people of Cuba to decide their system of governing and their right to defend it.
 
The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism stands with the Cuban people and demands that the U.S. government cease its plans for subversion that is mainly supported from outside the country – by right wing politicians of both the Republican and Democratic parties. The subversion is paid by U.S. tax money to the tune of $6.6 million that has funded NGO organizations and individuals on its payroll.
 
The goal is to inflict maximum suffering on the Cuban people on top of 6 decades of economic warfare. The aim is to force submission to U.S. corporate interests and their desire to regain the lost capitalist, mafia-run paradise they owned prior to 1959 when the US-supported dictator Batista was overthrown.
 
Even more, the scheme to subvert and destroy the Cuba revolution is supported and connected to far right and fascist organizations internationally – and has been in the works for many years. The plot is not spontaneous as the corporate media would have the U.S. people believe.
 
Contrast the Biden Administration’s “concern” for human rights with its support for murderous, anti-people regimes in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and elsewhere – supported by the same right-wing capitalist forces trying to overthrow the Cuban government.
 
If the Cuban revolution were overthrown, it would set back all of Latin America at a time when much of the hemisphere is moving to the left with anti-austerity, pro-people governments. It would be a blow against all progressive forces struggling to win programs for the people in health care, education, climate justice, indigenous rights over land and resources, labor rights, racial equality and national sovereignty.
 
Public opinion polls show that the U.S. people by a large majority support a return to diplomacy and a path towards normalization of relations with Cuba. President Biden was elected with a promise to repeal the onerous sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and a return to diplomacy which includes lifting the embargo. We are waiting for him to live up to his campaign promise.
 
President Biden, we demand you lift the sanctions on Cuba and tear down the travel ban that prevents people to people contact. CCDS urges its members and friends to:
1)    call Members of Congress, and ask them to sign on to a Dear Colleague letter letter to President Biden issued by Reps. McGovern (D-MA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Gregory Meeks (D-NY). It asks President Biden to change U.S. policy towards Cuba and return to diplomacy including the lifting of the embargo.
2)    Help mobilize and join protests of U.S. policy in solidarity with Cuba on November 15th.
3)    Continue to work to build support for several anti-embargo and travel ban measures that have been introduced in Congress. 
4)    Keep up the pressure to demand that the Biden administration live up to its campaign promise – lift the Trump sanctions on Cuba and comply with the rule of law of the UN Charter to end the illegal blockade of Cuba. End all financing of NGOs and individuals who are working to overthrow the Cuban government - no tax money for subversion and internationally connected fascist movements!

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COMMITTEES OF CORRESPONDENCE FOR
DEMOCRACY AND SOCIALISM

Statement of Appreciation for the Invitation to Attend the January 10, 2022 Inauguration of the New Leadership in Nicaragua.

Dear Comrades,
We are writing to express our appreciation for your kind invitation to attend the inauguration of the new government of Nicaragua on January 10,2022. We plan on sending a delegate, Karl Kramer, representing CCDS to this important event. The leadership of CCDS wishes to send our congratulations and warm regards to the people of Nicaragua which includes our wishes for a successful future of economic, political, and environmental development. As we state:
“The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) wishes to express our congratulations on the reelection of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo to serve as leaders of Nicaragua.
We understand that Nicaragua over the last decade has experienced significant economic development, most importantly reducing the numbers of Nicaraguans living in extreme poverty. Nicaraguan policies have also included greater access to health care and education.
We also understand that the recent Nicaraguan election included high levels of voter participation and little or no complaints about election irregularities.
Further, we understand that Nicaragua has reasserted its solidarity with peoples and governments in Latin America and the Caribbean who are committed to progressive social change.
And finally the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism wishes to reaffirm our political opposition to United States interference in the economic and political life of Nicaragua (and all countries in the Western Hemisphere). It is our profoundest desire that the people of Nicaragua have the right to decide their own future without covert interference, economic sanctions, and support for forces outside the country who wish to destabilize it.
We congratulate you on your recent elections and we pledge ourselves to continue the struggle within the United States to oppose any policies that seek to undermine the national sovereignty of the Nicaraguan people.”
In Solidarity,
CCDS Co-Chairs: Gary Hicks, Rafael Pizarro, Harry Targ, Janet Tucker
Presented by: Karl Kramer, member of the National Coordinating Committee, CCDS

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OpEdNews Op Eds 11/4/2021 at 8:39 PM EDT

URL: https://www.opednews.com/articles/The-COVID-19-Pandemic-Ant-by-Steven-Jonas-Anti-maskers_Anti-vaxxers_Covid-19_Health-211104-294.html
"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, Aug., 2018)

Qualifications
I am a traditionally trained public health physician. My M.D. (1962) is from The Harvard Medical School, my Master of Public Health degree (M.P.H.), is from the Department of Public Health of the Yale School of Medicine (1967), and I am Certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine (1971). Do these qualifications mean that I am always right? (Well, just most of the time - joke.) Do some anti-vaxxers, whom I regard as totally non-scientific, have some similar credentials? Yes. But that doesn't make them right.

What my credentials say about me was that, as I said above, I was traditionally trained in public health and preventive medicine, and, as it happens, the bulk of my career was spent as an academic in that field, as a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Book, NY. I present this information just for your information. What stands behind the positions that I take on the pandemic and the anti-vaxx movement are not my credentials, but my commitment to the science of public health and preventive medicine (the field in which, as noted, I have spent my whole career).

An Introductory Historical Note

Not too many people, other than students of Nazism, know that there was a "left-wing" of the Nazi Party. It was headed by the Strasser brothers, Otto and Gregor. As the beginning of the Wikipedia entry on them says:
"Strasserism (GermanStrasserismus or Straßerismus) is a strand of Nazism that calls for a more radical, mass-action and worker-based form of Nazism hostile to Jews not from a racialcultural or religious perspective, but from an anti-capitalist basis to achieve a national rebirth. It derives its name from Gregor and Otto Strasser, two brothers initially associated with this position." This is a subject to which I shall return at the end of the column.

Trump, the Republican Right, and the Pandemic.

I refer you to a series of columns that I have written on that subject, e.g., "Why anti-Pandemic Control from the Right," "No Mandates! Mandates! And the Republican Religious Right, (Click Here), and "The Republican Party of Death."

See also the evidence provided by the one public health physician who managed to stay inside the Trump White House as it engaged in its ongoing destructive behavior, Dr. Deborah Birx.
As for the conspiracy theories rampant on the both the Right ("the Chinese," George Soros [see International Jew], Dr. Fauci, and Bill Gates) and the Left ("the Chinese," Bill Gates, "Big Pharma," Dr. Fauci, and the "CDC" [generically]), variations on the "Plandemic" hypothesis (for population control or some such), I am not going to deal with them, except to say that anyone who thinks that Dr. Fauci has the power to "run the pandemic" should look up his job-description.

Some Comments on Vaccination, its Effectiveness, and Side-effects

Does vaccination work to prevent acquisition of this highly infectious disease, transmitted through the air? Yes, most of the time. And when it doesn't prevent infection of a specific individual, in most of those cases it diminishes the severity of the resulting illness.

Does vaccination have side-effects? Yes, it does. In most cases, beyond short-duration tenderness and redness at the injection site, are they primarily annoying rather incapacitating? Yes. As an example, I had the "tireds" for about two weeks after I received my second shot last spring. I had them again for a shorter period of time after I received my booster at the beginning of October. (Oh yes. I received the Pfizer vaccine.)

Have a significant number of people died after receiving the vaccine? The anti-vaxxers say "yes," but don't seem to be able to provide any data supporting their position (at least I haven't seen any, and I am on a couple of left-wing anti-vaxx listservs, so presumably if there were any, it would have been sent around). Again, some folks have said that the death-toll from the vaccine is "massive," but I haven't seen any numbers (and if they were, to be convincing they would have to from reproducible sources). Nevertheless, the claim has been made repeatedly, on both the Left and the Right. But one wonders, in this country why would the CDC not respond as vigorously to that situation as they have to the pandemic? Oh, I know. Because each and every employee at CDC is part of the "plandemic" plot and the really want to kill people beyond those who the virus has killed (at least according to cause-of-death reports, which are "obviously" false).

Might there be some very long-term side effect[s], resulting from this vaccine which is based on an entirely new and different mode of vaccine production? Yes, we are told by the anti-vaxxers, 15 years down the road there is going to be some significant damage, of some (unknown) kind, to the human population who took the vaccine. But of course, we do not they know that to be true. It is indeed speculation. And if that speculation (which has no scientific basis, it's only speculation) proved to be entirely incorrect, then possibly hundreds of millions of persons would have died unnecessarily. Hmm.

On the anti-Vaxxers

From the Left, there are folks like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Well, at least he's consistent. He is against all vaccination, of children anyway, because of the association of certain child-hood vaccines (required for school entrance, by the way) which cause autism. That that is an hypothesis which has been proven to be entirely wrong seems to make no difference to Mr. Kennedy and his allies
.
But at least he's consistent. Most other anti-vaxxers, whether form the Left or from the Right seem to be entirely happy with traditional, required, pre-school vaccination programs, and with certain required vaccinations for certain kinds of employment or travel to certain locales (e.g., for Yellow Fever or polio).

Both the anti-vaxx Left and the anti-vaxx Right talk about refusing vaccination as a matter of "personal freedom." Well first of all, it should be made clear that no one, at least on the Public Health side is taking the position that people can be forced to be vaccinated. (And I have seen folks on the Left accidentally or purposefully confuse the public health position that vaccination can be required for, say, certain kinds of employment or entry into certain kinds of public spaces.

But NO ONE on the public health is advocating forced vaccination in primus. That would violate the inviolable principle of informed consent for any medical/public-health procedure. The public health position is that vaccination can be required for certain kinds of employment, for entry into certain public spaces and facilities, and so forth, not that it simply can be required willy-nilly without consent.

To repeat, as is well-known we are dealing here with a highly communicable disease, which can be brought under control in significant part by mass vaccination. BUT, if vaccination-or-not were solely a matter of personal freedom, why should folks not have the freedom to defecate into public water supplies, if it makes them feel good and helps them to express their personal freedom? Or how about the prohibitions against drinking and driving or smoking in forbidden areas? "But it makes me feel good" even to "I can't live without it" don't seem to cut the mustard.

Anti-vaxxers appear to be calling for an immediate end for vaccination programs, in order to save people from being killed by the vaccine. I wonder what the health care delivery systems that were overwhelmed with the COVID sick-and-dying, before the vaccine, would respond to that? But what then would be done for people who want to be vaccinated?
The anti-Maskers

As for anti-maskers, for a disease transmitted entirely through the air, it is the most effective means for reducing transmission. Can masks be uncomfortable? They sure can (I wear mine every time I go outside, double-vaxxed and boostered or no. Comfortable? No. But I wear it.) Ah ha, you might say, so you don't trust the vaccine, eh? Well, no I don't not trust it, but there are exceptions to every rule, so why take a chance? As for right-wing anti-mask mandates/laws, I dealt with that subject at length here: Click Here. As for left-wingers who are against mask mandates because they interfere with their personal freedom, I haven't dealt with that open in any detail, although I do bring up the defecation-in-a-public-water-supply Comparo with them on occasion.

As for the Governor who claimed that masks inhibit God's love from getting into the person (sorry; misplaced that reference) how does he know that God is not a mask-wearer? Then apparently there are one or more anti-mask physicians who refuse, for example, to wear a mask when talking with, for example, an immune-compromised patient, because wearing a mask in any situation makes the doc uncomfortable. Must have forgotten the Hippocratic oath to which one has sworn: "First, do no harm."

As for "do no harm," on a Chris Hayes telecast, at a right-wing talker's "town hall" a questioner asked, in reference to school board mask-mandates, "when do we start using our guns?"

Various

On ivermectin, and other proposed treatments, as THE approach to the pandemic in general, in order to avoid some negative effects that MIGHT (or might not) occur 15 years from now, they all rely on waiting until a patient becomes sick (and infectious). Furthermore, there is the matter of proof, or more important, being able to prove. Randomly allocated double-blind studies which have to take place in persons already ill (where the alternative to ivermectin or other is hospital care which is known to be effective in most cases if caught early enough) cannot be carried out, for obvious ethical reasons. Even if it works, and no even semi- controlled studies to date have shown that it does, it does NOT, indeed cannot, prevent transmission. And further, on the subject, a controlled double-blind study would be very difficult to carry out. In what randomized group of sick patients will be found one-half who will be getting nothing to help them deal with the disease they already have (different from clinical trials of vaccines, where everyone is healthy to begin with)?

As for the effects of Lockdown, should steps have been taken to reduce economic hardship? Absolutely. The (capitalist) world powers moved much too late on this (and I don't think that that happened in China, where the lockdowns were massive and intense --- but I am not sure). But letting the disease run rampant, thus killing millions and overwhelming health care delivery systems and their personnel with the dying and the dead, is not the way to do that. Such an approach would have an even worse effect on the economy!

In summary, the Left anti-vaxxers think that they are it is supporting/benefiting the public's health according to some version of public health science. That version must come from another planet, and maybe the crew of the Good Ship Enterprise will find it someday. It is simply not the public health science to which virtually all public scientists subscribe. Are there a few exceptions here and there? Surely, tell me a human endeavour in which that sort of thing doesn't occur. As for the political Right, it cares not a whit about the public's health (see the cited columns above). It's all about politics, right-wing politics of course, and at this stage of the pandemic, with Joe Biden in the White House, doing anything they possibly can to make him look bad.

Be Careful who You Ally With

Finally, as for allies in the anti-vaxx struggle, of the two "Left-wing" Strasser bothers mentioned at the beginning of this column, Otto left the Party and Germany in 1930 (and somehow managed to survive the War). Gregor remained a Nazi through the early days of the Hitler Dictatorship, while still pronouncing his "left-wing" views. On the Night of the Long Knives, in which many of Hitler's enemies both within and outside if the Party, but still right-wingers, like Ernst Roehm, the Commander of Hitler's private army, the Sturmabteilung, which had fought street battles for him from the early 1920's, and a very close ally, were killed, as the price to be paid to a variety of Nazi supporters in return for the continued support of the Military and the German ruling class . E.g., the SA's dissolution (remember, it was a private army, directly loyal to Hitler) was demanded by the German armed forces as the price of their support for Hitler and his dictatorship. And so, the "leftie" Gregor Strasser, Hitler supporter from the early days in the 1920's, was murdered.

Post-script

A very recent item indicated that "The End is in Sight: Click Here." The most important corollary for declining disease is high vaccination rates. But that is just fact. Does anyone think that anti-vaxxers on the Left --- operating on conspiracy theories of various kinds and fear of some thoroughly unknown and unknowable possible negative outcome of vaccination way down the road (as well as devotion to ivermectin-etc.) --- and anti-vaxxers (anti-maskers as well) on the Right for whom anti-science is in their blood (although I must say that I do not have any scientific support for that statement) and proving to be a very useful political tool --- in responding to that fact (that is the end in sight, with vaccination playing a very important role is that eventually) --- are any of them going to change their position?

Well, since 1969 we know for sure (well most of us do anyway) that the Moon is NOT made of green cheese. So, the answer to the question, for the anti-vaxxers both Left and Right, "are facts going to change my position on the pandemic and how to control it," is the same as the answer to the question "Is the moon made of green cheese?" (Except, I know, I know. There are still some flat-earthers out there, somewhere.)
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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews.com as a “Trusted Author,” he is a regular contributor to BuzzFlash.com, and on occasion to Reader Supported News/Writing for Godot and From The G-Man. His own political website, stevenjonaspolitics.com, is an archive of the 1000 or so political columns he has published since 2004, with the current columns being added to it as they appear. He was also a career triathlete, 36 seasons, 256 multi-sport races, and writer on the sport (books and articles). He now is officially retired from racing.
Dr. Jonas’ most recent book is Ending the ‘Drug War’; Solving the Drug Problem: The Public Health Approach, Brewster, NY: Punto Press Publishing, (Brewster, NY, 2016, available on Kindle from Amazon, and also in hardcover from Amazon). In 1996 he published a “future history” of the United States entitled The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel (Third Version published by Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY, and available on Amazon).
That book was purportedly published in 2048, on the 25th Anniversary of the Restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the United States, which occurred following the conclusion of the Second Civil War, which had the ascension to power of the Republican-Christian Alliance/America Christian Nation Party and the apartheid state that eventually created: The New American Republics.
Dr. Jonas has a blind-copy distribution list for his columns. If you would like to be added to it, please send him an email at sjtpj@aol.com.
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Get an Update on the Medicare for All Movement
in a One Hour Zoom!

Activists with any level of involvement in the single payer/Medicare for All movement can get a quarterly update from the Medicare for All Update Group. Our next meeting will be March 16th , 8pm Eastern,7pm Central, 5 pm Pacific Time.  

Topics for the next meeting are: Fight Against Medicare Privatization, priorities of the national movement, reports on state single payer movements, and more!

Sign up to get the Zoom link in March. Go to m4aupdategroup@gmail.com to get on the list!
Chuck Kaufman: A Pillar of Solidarity

Reprinted from Kawsachun News, December 29, 2021Nicaragua

Chuck Kaufman, presente! A great comrade and friend to the peoples and just causes of Latin America and the Caribbean has passed on the torch. Chuck Kaufman died on Tuesday, December 28th, and is being remembered for the tremendous impact he made during his decades of anti-imperialist work, organizing to change US-Latin American foreign policy.
Chuck was known for his leadership among North American solidarity organizing with Latin American grassroots movements. It all began when he joined the staff of the Nicaragua Network in 1987, which in 1998 became the Alliance for Global Justice, for which he served as National Co-Coordinator until the time of his passing. 

From his bio on AFGJ: “He gave up his successful advertising business out of disgust at Congress’ cowardice during the Iran-Contra scandal. He went on his first coffee picking brigade to Nicaragua that same year. Chuck has been in the front ranks of the movements to support the right of people in Latin America and the Caribbean to dignity, sovereignty, and self-determination. He has led delegations to Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti and Honduras.
Chuck has written and spoken often about US democracy manipulation programs through the National Endowment for Democracy and US Agency for International Development as well as what he calls the need to look to the Abolition Movement as our inspiration to change the culture of US militarism. He is a board member of the Latin America Solidarity Coalition and a leader of the LASC’s effort to build a stronger movement to oppose US militarism and the militarization of relations with Latin America. He was a founder of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition and has spoken at most of the major Washington, DC anti-war demonstrations. He is a board member of the Honduras Solidarity Network and a founder of the Venezuela Solidarity Network. He has a B.A. in Government and Politics from George Mason University. His first political activism was as a high school student in 1969 when he organized student walk-out in four county high schools in his native Indiana.”

At Kawsachun News, we remember Chuck for his tremendous work in providing solidarity with the Nicaraguan people, defending the Sandinista Revolution, and the immeasurable impact of his organizing and truth-telling regarding Nicaragua. Chuck confronted media manipulation head on, including just this year, as Nicaragua held elections. He was also one of very few voices in the United States to vocally oppose what he called the media’s stenography of the State Department in 2018 while Nicaragua fought US-backed failed coup and the terrorism and violence that accompanied it. He immediately denouncedthe OAS-backed coup in Bolivia in 2019.

Alliance for Global Justice and Chuck provided crucial support for Kawsachun News in 2021 and made it possible for us to report on the ground in both Nicaragua and Venezuela. We are extremely thankful for everything Chuck did to help us do this work.
Chuck in Honduras outside of the U.S. Palmerola Air Base in 2011, where he and others were tear gassed on the two year anniversary of the coup.

Deputy Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Fred Mills, responded to the news on Tuesday evening, telling us; “Chuck was a pillar of North American solidarity with the peoples of the Americas and never failed to show moral courage when the odds were against us.”
Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation shared this tribute with Kawsachun News: “It is a shock because he was an invaluable activist, a true revolutionary, one of those lifelong fighters whom Bertolt Brecht named “the essential ones.” I knew him starting in the early ANSWER days after the “endless” war of Bush, 2001. In fact he was one of the first people to join the board of ANSWER Coalition at his office in Washington DC in 2001. He never stopped dreaming of justice and he put those dreams into action, whether organizing a campaign to deliver massive amounts of solidarity aid to Venezuela, or most recently, sending delegations to Nicaragua, to bring Nicaragua’s truth to the U.S. He was crystal clear on the need to stand strong with the revolutionary government. I appreciate having been on his organized delegation in July and his personal attention to see that I got to go to Nicaragua. My heartfelt condolences and solidarity to his colleagues in AFGJ and his family.”
An outpouring of tributes can also be seen on Chuck’s Facebook page, where he actively connected with friends and where he shared his photos and stories of a recent RV cross-country road trip. The trip took him from his home in Tuscon to his birth state of Indiana and beyond.

Director of ANSWER Coalition Brian Becker also took to Facebook to remember Chuck. “He was an important leader in the Steering Committee of the ANSWER Coalition when it was founded three days after Sept. 11, 2001. He was the Co-Director of the Alliance For Global Justice (AFGJ). A wonderful human being —- we will all miss him!”
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INCASE YOU MISSED IT

November Fourth Monday: Assessment of COP 26, US-China cooperation and future prospects: https://www.facebook.com/OULeft.org/videos/1249206465561348
In case you missed it:

The Left, Progressives and Social Media

Our 4th Monday in October
Fourth Monday in September, watch here: IDEOLOGICAL HEGEMONY AND HIGHER EDUCATION
James Campbell: A Life To Remember

By

A tribute to James E. Campbell, a well-known and widely influential leader of the civil rights and socialist movements for the last seven decades. He worked as an actor, writer, and organizer, working with Jack O'Dell, Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, Bayard Rustin, James Balwin, and many others. He served as an editor of Freedomways magazine and as national co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. He passed away earlier this year in Charleston, NC.

Order your copy today here.
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CHANGEMAKER PUBLICATIONS: Recent works on new paths to socialism and the solidarity economy

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We are a small publisher of books with big ideas. We specialize in works that show us how a better world is possible and needed. Click Gramsci below for our list.
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


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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.

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Taking Down White Supremacy 

A Reader on Multiracial and Multinational Unity 

Edited by the CCDS
Socialist Education Project

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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.

      Click here for the Table of contents
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2021


 
 by Harry Targ


The Peace Movement Today

 The history of the peace movement is complicated, with successes and failures. First, the history of peace movement solidarity has been intimately connected to anti-racist, pro-labor, women’s, and environmental struggles for decades. When Dr. King and Mohammed Ali connected the evils of Vietnam with racism and poverty at home proponents of peace and social and economic justice gained in strength.

 Second, the relative strength in number, message, and organization of the peace movement has varied significantly over time. Since the onset of the Cold War peace and solidarity activities have been most vibrant during the Vietnam War, the wars against Central America, Gulf War One, the bombing of Serbia, the Iraq War, Israeli bombing of targets in Gaza, and threats of bombing Syria in 2013.

 Today the movement is muted because of peace activist energies being targeted against threats to whatever remains of democracy after the Trump administration. Paradoxically, with the continuation of war and terrorism on the world stage, the systematic use of hybrid war techniques to starve populations in states defined as enemies, to the spread of new high technology instruments of slaughter, the danger of the return to big power conflict, and continuing increases in military spending, the voices of the peace movement have been dispersed and hence weakened. This is a dilemma not only for peace but for economic justice, saving the environment, and ending racism and sexism. 

During this disturbing period in world history the end of the Trump Administration and its replacement by the new President Biden foreign policy influentials long associated with prior Democratic and Republican administrations continue their roles. Therefore, it is useful to step back and analyze “the time of day” on a worldwide basis: as to global class forces and their ideologies; contemporary techniques of empire and their consequences for the lives of billions; individual global crises; and where President Biden stands on issues of war and peace and foreign policy in general. Much of the material below was first assembled in the summer, 2016 in anticipation of an electoral victory by Hillary Rodham Clinton.  While that prediction was incorrect, the issues involving the United States in the world remain remarkably (and sadly) the same today, as the new year, 2022 unfolds.

The Ruling Class Agenda for the United States Role in the World

From a Washington Post editorial, May 21, 2016:
HARDLY A day goes by without evidence that the liberal international order of the past seven decades is being erodedChina and Russia are attempting to fashion a world in their own illiberal image…This poses an enormous trial for the next U.S. president. We say trial because no matter who takes the Oval Office, it will demand courage and difficult decisions to save the liberal international order. As a new report from the Center for a New American Security points out, this order is worth saving, and it is worth reminding ourselves why: It generated unprecedented global prosperity, lifting billions of people out of poverty; democratic government, once rare, spread to more than 100 nations; and for seven decades there has been no cataclysmic war among the great powers. No wonder U.S. engagement with the world enjoyed a bipartisan consensus.

 The Washington Post editorial of 2016 quoted above still clearly articulates the dominant view envisioned by US foreign policy elites: about global political economy, militarism, and ideology. It in effect constitutes a synthesis of the "neocon" and the "liberal interventionist" wings of the ruling class.

First, it is inspired by the necessity of 21st century capitalism to defend neoliberal globalization: government for the rich, austerity for the many, and deregulation of trade, investment, and speculation.

Second, the Post vision of a New World Order is built upon a reconstituted United States military and economic hegemony that has been a central feature of policymaking at least since the end of World War II even though time after time it has suffered setbacks: from defeat in Vietnam, to radical decolonization across the Global South, and to the rise of competing poles of power in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe. In addition, despite recent setbacks, grassroots mass mobilizations against neoliberal globalization and austerity policies have risen everywhere, including in the United States. The Washington Post speaks to efforts to reassemble the same constellation of political forces, military resources, and concentrated wealth, that, if anything, is greater than at any time since the establishment of the US “permanent war economy” after the last World War.

Historian, Michael Stanley, in an essay entitled “‘We are Not Denmark’: Hillary Clinton and Liberal American Exceptionalism,” (Common Dreams, February 26, 2016) pointed to the ideological glue that has been used by foreign policy elites, liberal and conservative, to justify the pursuit of neoliberal globalization and militarism; that is the reintroduction of the old idea of American Exceptionalism, which in various forms has been proclaimed by elites since the foundation of the Republic. 

The modern version, borne in the context of continental and global expansion, serves to justify an imperial US role in the world. Along with posturing that the United States is somehow special and has much to offer the world, American Exceptionalism presumes the world has little to offer the United States. The only difference between Democrats and Republicans on foreign policy is whether the exceptionalism still exists and must be maintained or has dissipated requiring the need to “make America great again.” Leaders of both parties, however, support the national security state, high military expenditures, and a global presence—military, economic, political, and cultural. With the election of Joe Biden, the corporate media in the main has reiterated the idea that the United States remains the “indispensable nation” in the international system, despite temporary setbacks resulting from Trump foreign policies.

Techniques of Empire Today  

Although the imperial agenda, and the ideological precepts justifying it, has remained the same for two hundred years the techniques of empire have changed as growing resistance at home and abroad and new technologies dictate. Changes in warfare, other violence, and imperial expansion include the following:

-Wars are internal much more than international and casualties are overwhelmingly civilian rather than military.

The global presence of some form of the United States military is ubiquitous-between 700-and 1,000 military bases, in anywhere from 40 to 120 countries

- US military operations have been privatized. A 2010 Washington Post report found 1,911 intelligence contracting firms doing top secret work for 1,271 government organizations at over 10,000 sites. Ninety percent of such work is being done by 110 contractors.
-More “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” have been used to kill alleged enemies over the last eight years as the entire prior period of US military operations. Drones have come home as their use by the Dallas police recently showed.

-US agencies, such as the CIA, have been engaged in the increased use of assassinations and efforts to undermine governments. One report indicated that there are 13,000 assassination commandoes operating around the world.

-So-called “humanitarian assistance” is used to support United States policies in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. For example, a New York Times story reported that at least 40 American groups received $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade.

-The United States increasingly has used economic tools—economic blockades, trade sanctions, covert financing of pro-US politicians in other countries, and condemnations by some international organizations to undermine, starve, and ultimately, it is hoped, to entice people to overthrow their governments. These techniques, often labeled “hybrid war,” are being used against Venezuela, Cuba, and some thirty other countries.

Some generalizations we can draw from the new techniques of war are the following:

-Imperial rule has become global.
-The Military/industrial complex has expanded beyond President Eisenhower’s wildest nightmares. Large sectors of military operations—from cooking and cleaning to killing—have been privatized.

-Military operations continue and expand without “boots on the ground.” Empires can kill with impunity.


 Nick Turse and colleagues reported on data indicating that the United States has been engaged in secret military training of personnel in many countries, what they called ‘a shadowy network of U.S. programs that every year provides instruction and assistance to approximately 200,000 foreign soldiers, police, and other personnel.”  (Douglas Gillison, Nick Turse, Moiz Syed, “How the U.S. Trains Killers Worldwide,” Portside, July 13, 2016).
Their report is worth further quoting:

 “The data show training at no fewer than 471 locations in 120 countries…involving on the U.S. side, 150 defense agencies, civilian agencies, armed forces colleges, defense training centers, military units, private companies, and NGOs, as well as the National Guard forces of five states.” Perhaps most important for the peace movement is the following: Despite the fact that the Department of Defense alone has poured some $122 billion into such programs since 9/11, the breadth and content of this training network remain virtually unknown to most Americans.”

Impacts of 21st Century Imperialism

By any measure the pain and suffering brought by 21st century imperialism is staggering. US Labor Against the War reported that sources estimate 1.3 million people, mostly in the Middle East and South Asia, have died due to the war on terrorism initiated in 2001. They quote a research report that estimates that one million Iraqis have died since 2003 and an additional 220,000 citizens of Afghanistan and 80,000 from Pakistan. Other sources claim these figures are too conservative and remind us of the untold thousands upon thousands who have died directly from war and violence in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and elsewhere in the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa.

These figures, of course, address deaths directly attributed to war and terrorism but do not include economic sanctions, massive flight of peoples from war zones, persecution by authoritarian regimes, environmental devastation and drone strikes and assassinations. Large areas of the globe centered in the Middle East and North Africa are ungovernable with foreign intervention and anomic domestic violence on the rise. In a troubling essay by Patrick Cockburn the author asserts that:

 “We live in an age of disintegration. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Across the vast swath of territory between Pakistan and Nigeria, there are at least seven ongoing wars-in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and South Sudan. These conflicts are extraordinarily destructive. They are tearing apart the countries in which they are taking place in ways that make it doubtful they will ever recover.” (Patrick Cockburn, “The Age of Disintegration: Neoliberalism, Interventionism, the Resource Curse, and a Fragmenting World,” The Unz Review: Mobile, June 28, 2016).

 Cockburn suggested that this fragmentation had core features: no winners and losers, deconstruction of states, massive population upheavals and migrations, religious fundamentalism   replacing socialist and/or nationalist politics, and outside interventions. The Global South project Vijay Prashad described so well in The Darker Nations has been superseded by competing fundamentalist projects.

 Specific Cases

NATO/Ukraine/New Cold War

In 2016 leaders of the 28 NATO countries met in summit in Poland to reaffirm their commitment to the military alliance that was established in 1949 for the sole purpose of protecting the European continent from any possible Soviet military intervention. With the collapse of the former Soviet Union, rather than dissolving, NATO took on the task of policing the world for neoliberal globalization and the states ‘victorious” in the Cold War. NATO was the official operational arm of military operations in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the military force that would destroy the Gaddafi regime in Libya. 

After the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, NATO incorporated the states in Eastern Europe that had been affiliated with it. Now Poland, Hungary, and the Baltic States remain the frontline in the ongoing hostilities with Russia. They and western financiers from Ukraine, with substantial assistance from the United States, engineered the coup that ousted a corrupt but elected President in Ukraine. This set off an ongoing civil war between those in the population who wanted to continue ties to Russia and others who wanted Ukraine to join the European Union and NATO. The instability in Kiev was orchestrated by high US state department officials who advocated a New Cold War with Russia. Some US diplomats involved in the Ukraine story may return to the Biden diplomatic team,

 At the NATO summit of 2016 it was agreed to establish four battalion-sized “battle groups” in Poland and the Baltic states. To use the language of the Cold War, this small force could serve as a “trip wire” that could precipitate an “incident” and a major war with Russia. NATO agreed to bolster the Ukraine military. The alliance would commit to establishing a controversial missile defense system in Eastern Europe.  And NATO countries promised to spend two percent of their budgets on the military. The continued commitment of the United States was affirmed by President Obama. After the Trump period of reduced commitment to NATO, President Biden wishes to resuscitate the alliance.

The Asian Pivot

In 2011, US spokespersons announced that the country would shift resources and attention to Asia from the Middle East, an area with demanding security and economic interests. Although US/Chinese dialogue continues the United States has criticized China’s repositioning of what it regards as its possessions in the South China Sea. The United States has expanded military relations with Vietnam, reestablished military bases in the Philippines, and has generally avoided criticizing efforts by ruling Japanese politicians to revise their constitution to allow for a full-scale remilitarization. The United States has threatened North Korea over their military maneuvers and has bolstered the South Korean military. While Trump did reach out to North Korea, tension reduction on the peninsula was short-lived. On the economic front the United States was instrumental in building support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to challenge Chinese economic hegemony in the region. While Trump rescinded the TPP approach, he launched a trade war against China and engaged in attacks on Chinese corporations operating in the West. Both Trump and Biden spokespersons have made it clear that a New Cold War against China is ramping up. Corporations engaged in military production and research universities have used the China threat as a justification for increased military spending, research and development, cyber-security and a whole panoply of tools to fight twenty-first century wars.

The Middle East

Most American politicians express their belief that the US must maintain a special relationship with the state of Israel. One of the few active mobilizations for peace today is the worldwide campaign to demand governments, corporations, and other institutions boycott, and divest holdings in what is regarded as an apartheid state, Israel, which oppresses its Arab population and those living in the Occupied Territories. The campaign is so effective that along with national politicians, governors and state legislatures have taken stands against the BDS campaign. Israel continues to expand its occupation of Palestinian land, repress Palestinians within Israel, and is currently not distributing the covid-19 vaccine to Palestinian people, while other Israel citizens are inoculated.

Next to the historic US ties to Israel, most analysts see the deconstruction of the Middle East that Cockburn wrote about as a direct result of the Iraq war initiated in 2003. Over the next decade, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other countries have been torn apart by civil war fueled by western, primarily US, intervention, continuing US support of Saudi Arabian militarism, and the fractionalization of states in the region. The Trump administration increased the threat of  war  with Iran. President Biden might be open to returning to the Nuclear Treaty with Iran from which Trump withdrew.

This ten year war on the Middle East has created a growing terrorist response directed at western targets and an ideological campaign, including calls to violence, against all the traditional imperial powers who dominated the region for one hundred years. With this as a backdrop, the United States response to violence has been stepped up high-tech killing justified by a public campaign that demonizes Muslim people in the United States and everywhere in the world.

 AFRICOM

Nick Turse described the growing US military presence on the African continent. A special command structure, AFRICOM, was established in 2008 to oversee US security interests on the continent. Initially, Turse reported, the Pentagon claimed that it had one larger base, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. But enterprising researchers discovered that the US military had a dense network of “cooperative security outposts,” bases and other sites of military presence, at least 60 across the continent, in 34 countries. The US has defense attaches in 38 countries. 
 An Oxford researcher was quoted by Turse on the new oversite of the African continent.

“AFRICOM, as a new command, is basically a laboratory for a different kind of warfare and a different way of posturing forces…Apart from Djibouti, there’s no significant stockpiling of troops, equipment, or even aircraft. There are a myriad of ‘lily pads’ or small forward operating bases…so you can spread out even a small number of forces over a very large area and concentrate those forces quite quickly when necessary” (Nick Turse, “America’s Empire of African Bases,” TomDispatch.com, November 17, 2015).

 Latin America

United States foreign policy toward Latin America has taken a variety of forms since the onset of the 21st century. The United States, in the older mold, encouraged and assisted in the failed military coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002 and gave at least quiescent support to the military overthrow of Honduran President Zelaya in 2009. At the same time the United States has curried the favor of upper class opponents of the regimes transformed by the Bolivarian Revolution: Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Two larger countries Argentina and Brazil have experienced domestic political turmoil in recent years, to some extent driven by internecine politics and corruption. The United States, in all these cases has networked with opposition political forces, sometimes encouraging wealthy citizens of countries such as Brazil and Venezuela to launch votes of no confidence or impeachment proceedings against their governments that have stood against the US neoliberal economic agenda. Some have referred to the new US strategy in the region as one of creating “silent coups.”

The influence of the United States has weakened since the onset of the Bolivarian Revolution and the distain Latin Americans hold toward the United States because of its long-standing efforts to isolate Cuba. President Obama in collaboration with President Castro announced a new opening of relations between the two countries in December, 2014 and until 2017 US economic constraints on travel, trade, and investment were reduced (although the blockade remains) until Trump reinstated new draconian sanctions. Whether in the Obama Administration or during the Trump presidency, what remained similar to past US policy toward Cuba, however, was the stated aims of United States policy: the promotion of democracy and markets. It was no mere coincidence that President Obama visited Cuba in March, 2016 and then flew to Argentina to negotiate with the newly elected neoliberal President Macri of Argentina.  The Trump Administration reversed the Obama “soft power” approach to Cuba, returned to sanctions and tightened them further than they had been for years. In addition, Trump escalated “soft coup” attempts and economic sanctions against Venezuela, Bolivia, and Cuba. Biden spokespersons have spoken in favor of “more effective” sanctions against Venezuela. It is unclear whether Biden will pursue the “soft power” diplomacy with Cuba that Obama initiated. Meanwhile most of the countries of the world have called for an end to the US blockade of Cuba.

 The Idea of the National Security State

The contradiction that still needs an explanation is the fact that for the most part the American people oppose wars and intervention. This is particularly so in the twenty-first century when so much pain and suffering has been caused by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008 Americans elected Barack Obama, in part because he had opposed the war in Iraq and had called for a new American foreign policy based on respect for other nations and peoples. He promised to use diplomacy not war as the primary tool of international relations and in some instances has tried to do that. He probably wanted to end the two awful wars and show some respect for others, even while promoting a neoliberal global agenda in a world of diverse centers of power and wealth. But why have Obama’s cautious efforts to promote United States economic and political interests been contradicted by the patterns of interventionism and the rhetoric of military globalization so common over the last few years?

The answer can be found in a variety of explanations of United States imperialism including what Mike Lofgren has called the “deep state.” Lofgren defined the “deep state” as  “… a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.”  (Mike Lofgren, “Anatomy of the ‘Deep State’: Hiding in Plain Sight,” Online University of the Left, February 23, 2014).   Others have examined invisible power structures, including class, that rule America (from C. W. Mills’ classic The Power Elite, Oxford University Press, 2000 to Robert Perrucci, Earl Wysong, and David Wright, The New Class Society: Goodbye American Dream? Rowman and Littlefield, 2013).  

The roots of analyses like those above are that power to make critical decisions reside not in the superstructure of the political process; the place were competitive games are played for all to see, but in powerful institutions embedded in society that can make decisions without requiring popular approval. Over and over again, the “deep state” apparatus  of the national security state has led the American people into war or covert interventions that destroyed the rights of people in other countries to solve their own problems. In the end these nstitutions have involved the United States in death and destruction all across the globe. And ironically as majorities of Americans feared that President Trump might stage a domestic coup to stay in office or make war on Iran to regain his popularity they hoped that sectors of the national security state would reject presidential orders to carry out such egregious acts.

And Military Spending Continues (see the power point link above)

("The spending on contractors continues today at the same rapid clip, accounting for more than half of average Pentagon spending each year. And with Congress poised to approve a $778 billion one-year spending package (that would be around $7.8 trillion over ten years, even without further increases) for the military, the contractors stand to gain again. Democrats are slashing the Build Back Better bill from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion over ten years. Meanwhile, Pentagon contractors have received $3.4 trillion over the past decade." (Lindsay Koshgarian, "U.S. Military Contracts Totaled $3.4 Trillion Over 10 Years,” Institute for Policy Studies, October 28, 2021)

So Where Does the Peace Movement Go From Here?

Analyses of what is wrong are easier to develop than thinking through ways to respond. This essay opened with a dilemma; a broken peace movement locally and nationally. It then argued that the foreign policy elites have had a hegemonic vision of the role of the United States in the world yesterday,  today, and tomorrow. And these elites and institutions of the national security state have at their disposal 21st century military technologies to maintain their power in the world. The consequences of force and intervention have been horrific for billions of people. 

 Having outlined the scope of the problem, we have briefly described current US foreign policy “trouble-spots:” Russia and Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
Phyllis Bennis wrote in 2016 that: “An anti-war position, in the broadest sense of reducing military budgets, calling for diplomacy over war, condemning the ‘inevitable’ civilian casualties, calling out how military assaults create rather than destroy terrorism…these are enormously unifying principles among progressives….movements matter.” (Phyllis Bennis, “What the Democratic Party Platform Tells Us About Where We Are on War,” Portside, July 8, 2016).

Approaches the peace movement can take in the near term include the following:

 1.Develop a theory, a conceptual scheme about the multiplicity of connected issues that affect peoples lives linking economics, politics, militarism, and culture. Think about a diamond shaped figure. At the base is an economic system, at this point in time finance capitalism and the exploitation of workers. Above the base at the two side points are militarism on one side and racism and sexism on the other. At the top add destruction of nature. Conceptualizing the war problem in this way we begin to see the connections between the 21st century state of capitalism as a global system and war, racism, sexism, and environmental destruction.

 2.Use the theory or schema to develop an educational program that begins with efforts to understand the fundamentals of the war system (direct and structural violence as peace researchers put it). Use the schema as programs on specific issues are prepared. Always relate the specific issue at hand: Israel/Palestine, Ukraine, undermining regimes in Latin America for example, to the diamond.

 3.Participate in grassroots organizing in solidarity with others, always linking issues to the war/peace paradigm. One error participants in the various Moral Mondays campaigns have made is to accede to the idea that Moral Mondays should only be about state legislative issues, not national or international ones. And work to network with peace groups all across the nation to rebuild the national peace movement that so effectively fought against war and imperialism in the past.

 4.Engage in global solidarity. The analysis above has emphasized the forces of global hegemony, or imperialism. It is critical to be aware of and support the grassroots ferment that is occurring all across the globe; from Arab Spring; to the Bolivarian Revolution; to anti-austerity campaigns in Greece, Spain, Quebec, and elsewhere, and the broadening climate change movement that encompasses the globe.

The tasks of a 21st century peace movement are not different from those of the past. They involve education, organization, and agitation. With the growth of worldwide resistance to neoliberal globalization, austerity, racism, sexism, and destruction of nature, it seems natural to incorporate concerns for peace and the right to national and personal self-determination to the budding radical movements of our day.
 
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NEW NARRATIVE #16: Early New York’s Waterfront Dives, the Emerging Atlantic Proletariat, and the Defeat of a 1741 Working-Class, both Slave, Native and ‘Free,’ Attempting to Put ‘the Bottom Rail on Top’

In 1741, dozens of free and enslaved men of modest or no means, and a few women, all multiracial and multinational, had gathered many times at John Hughson’s New York City tavern. Among other things, they spent a good part of their time plotting an insurrection against the worst of the rich. They hoped to spread some of their wealth about, free some slaves and servants, and make for a better order. It didn’t turn out as expected, and many lost their lives. But that gets us ahead of the story.

As noted earlier, the island where the Hudson River opened to the Atlantic was the home of the Lenni Lenape people, who called it ‘Manhattan.’ The Dutch bought it and took possession of everything, reaching up to Albany. They called it ‘New Netherlands’ and the small but busily growing port at the tip of Manhattan was ‘New Amsterdam.’ Interested in all trade, but especially furs and slaves, with ships of all trading nations coming and going, its population was polyglot, with even the Dutch as simply a large minority.
As such, ‘New Amsterdam’ practiced some tolerance. Even the whipping of slaves required special permission, and slaves had the right to marry, and even to be set free. Some captured Native People were also enslaved, but generally, they were pushed away from the Hudson Valley in all directions. The Dutch put the slaves to work building a wall of upright logs from river to river on the upper end of the lower Manhattan settlement. The idea was to keep the slaves in and Indians and other unwanted intruders out. The boundary was called ‘Wall Street’, and remains to this day, even if its origins in slavery are dimmed memories.

In 1667. across the ocean in Europe, the Treaty of Breda ended the Second Anglo-Dutch war. The Dutch did well, retaining their most prized possessions in the East Indies, while trading off a colony seen as second rate, New Netherlands, to the British. After a few strokes of the pen, the British navy sailed into the Hudson, without resistance, and the whole area became New York, and the port was now New York City. Relative to the times, it was a large town of about 6000, a number which doubled by the turn of the century. At all times, the slaves counted as 20 percent of the residents, and over 40 percent of all households had enslaved servants.

But New York was unique in its dense slavery. There were no plantations, like those in the South, where slaves, in subdivided groups, toiled in rural isolation growing tobacco or rice, and later, cotton. New York’s slaves were a floating force of unskilled day laborers or skilled craftsmen. They loaded and unloaded ships, built the city’s infrastructure, or ran blacksmith or carpentry shops owned by their masters. They actually built the city, even if they had to turn their wages over to their owners. They lived in a back outhouse of their masters, or even in their shops. By the nature of their work, they had to pass freely on the streets among others going about their business. A small but good number of Africans, moreover, were not enslaved but had ‘free’ status, and were able to intermingle with slaves on the street or at work.

The new British overlords were wary and wanted a change, passing several new repressive measures. Beyond a short distance from their master’s home, a pass was required to walk in the streets. Meetings, however causal, of more the three Africans or Native Americans were forbidden. Masters no longer were required to get permission to whip their slaves, nor were slaves allowed to marry among themselves or elsewhere. Most important, in 1711, the city set up an official slave market for buying, selling, or otherwise making labor exchanges regarding slaves. The reason was they wanted a tariff for every transaction--often more than the cash value of the slave concerned--which was difficult to assess and collect if these sales were scattered and unregulated.

The slaves hated the new market and all the new repression. On April 6, 1712, about 20 of them set fire at night to a building on Maiden Lane near Broadway. They drew back in the darkness and waited for a crowd of whites to try putting out the fire. Then they struck, with guns, swords, knives, and whatever weapons they could find, and killed nine whites and injured six more before fleeing. The city’s armed militia quickly captured nearly all of them, and snatched up many more who had nothing to do with it, 70 in all. Six captives committed suicide, knowing the tortures awaiting them. Twenty-seven were put on trial, and 20 were convicted and burned to death alive at the stake. One was ‘broken’ to death on ‘the wheel.’ A pregnant woman was convicted, allowed for her child to be born, then hung. The authorities inflicted harsher repressions citywide following the executions, extending to all people of color, slave or free. Within four years, all free Blacks who owned land had it sold out from under them.

All this is the horrific and interesting backstory to all the plotting and planning going on a few decades later in John Hughson’s tavern. What’s even more intriguing is the immediate context of the tavern, its denizens, and others like it, not that this 1712 history wasn’t on everyone’s mind. Hughson’s lower-class joint was on the waterfront, as were two or three others like it. This meant it also served as a brothel, both for seamen and locals. It also served as a ‘fence,’ a place that trafficked in stolen goods, from the ships and elsewhere. The goods were traded either for cash, alcohol, or other items of value.

A key point needs to be made here about the seamen. Their story is told in depth in many of Marcus Rediker’s books, such as ‘The Many-Headed Hydra.’ His thesis is that the proletariat of the new far-ranging capitalism is born and takes shape on the seas, as well as on land. The ships of the day were both floating factories and prisons, and the ‘motley crews’ were very diverse. Rarely was an English ship operated by all-English seaman, all working voluntarily. Ship’s captains seized their crews from the poor in jail, from drunks in bars, from captured runaway slaves and natives, and from seaman of other countries captured in battles.

Disciplined violently onboard, the seamen formed bonds and overcame language barriers with a Pidgin English. They were paid little, and sometimes not at all, having to wait a year. But by that time, they had been impressed on another ship. In these conditions, the men (and a few women) set aside national differences, color distinctions, and whether you were an escaped slave or Indian. They were cast into a common lot with a strong solidarity. Sometimes they mutinied, seized their ‘factory’, turning it into a workers coop of sorts, a pirate ship. Stealing part of the cargo, to them, was hardly theft, but an indirect way of regaining a bit of their own stolen wages.

So these were the people hanging out in the waterfront taverns of the sort described above. Naturally, they were joined by locals. Women working as prostitutes, local slaves of all colors who had snuck out for the night of drinking and gambling with a piece of their master’s silverware to pay for it, and local ‘free’ laborers looking for a rowdy time apart from the more upscale taverns of their ‘betters.’

So here is one birthplace of a Turtle Island proletariat—multinational. multiracial and conspiring, poorly or wisely, to wreak havoc on some of the rich, free some slaves, and redistribute some wealth in a Robin Hood fashion. If you want to study the history of the USAmerican working class, this is one good place to begin.

Despite their plans and aims, the ‘revolt’ itself didn’t amount to much. In the Spring of 1741, a series of 10 or so fires were set in buildings of the military and the wealthy, usually spaced about three days to a week apart. There was no mass insurrection. Just the opposite took place, a massive roundup of slaves, workers, Indians, in one batch after another, over months. Hughson, his wife, children, and his prostitutes were imprisoned and tortured for information, which led to more arrests and tortures. Some 172 were tried.

“In the end,’ states Wikipedia, “thirty-four people were executed. They included seventeen black men, two white men, and two white women who were hanged as well as thirteen black men burnt at the stake. The bodies of two supposed ringleaders, Caesar, a slave, and John Hughson, a white cobbler and tavern keeper, were gibbeted. Their corpses were left to rot in public. Another eighty-four men and women faced transportation to the brutal conditions of Caribbean slavery while seven white men were pardoned on condition of entering permanent exile from New York."

As time passed, the events were cast in the history books as more of a conspiracy than a revolt, and even much of the conspiracy’s overreach was recast as a cousin of the Salem Witch Trials. Many were unjustly accused and punished. Still, the structures of race and class were herein welded together in New York, both at the top and below. More to Come.
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NEW NARRATIVE #17: The Susquehannocks, the Retreat of France and the Paxton Boys

The Susquehannocks were a native people occupying what is now central Pennsylvania, and the river flowing through there into the Chesapeake Bay shares their name. They had lived there for hundreds of years before the European arrivals. Captain John Smith of Jamestown, Virginia, encountered them in 1608 as he was exploring the northern end of the bay.

The Susquehannock were large-scale agriculturalists. They practiced ‘slash and burn’ farming. This involved clearing the forest by burning down trees and planting crops in their ashes, as nutrients in the soil were depleted. They moved every few decades to refresh the soil. In the late sixteenth century they also absorbed smaller pre-existing native peoples. They were really a confederacy of up to 20 smaller tribes. They were also known for fortifying their villages with log stockades. They grew powerful for a time, but all but disappeared by 1776. But let's not get ahead of the story.

They were Iroquoian-speaking, but no one knows what they called themselves. Their ancestors were likely from the Ohio Valley and migrated centuries earlier over the mountains into the headwaters of the Susquehanna River near where Pennsylvania borders New York. ‘Susquehannock’ in the tongues of their neighbors means ‘people of the flowing muddy water,’ but those near the bay at the south end were also called ‘oyster-eaters.’ and ‘Conestoga,’ after one of their last settlements.

With the arrival of Europeans, their influence both grew and became more precarious. Since they had metal tools when John Smith first met them in 1609, they had likely obtained them through fur trading with the French, both directly and through their Iroquois rivals to the north. Going eastward through the Lenape in New Netherland and New Sweden, they were able to obtain firearms and training from the Dutch, They even obtained a small cannon from the Swedes.

Their location on a major river and its tributaries put them at several trading crossroads. They traveled them on foot, but also used heavy dugout canoes on the many waterways. It also put them in a position to hijack goods meant for others, such as shipments headed westward to the Seneca on the other side of the Allegheny mountains.

Those along the Chesapeake got in early trouble with the Virginians during Bacon’s rebellion. After some Doeg Indians near Jamestown killed some Virginians, some surviving colonists crossed into the colony of Maryland and demanded a meeting with a Susquehannock village settled at a fort on Piscataway Creek, below present-day Washington, DC.

When five local sachems came to the meeting, they were all immediately slaughtered. The Susquehannock then fled the area, but not without taking some revenge on surrounding settlers.

By the turn of the century, into the 1700s, their confederacy and power changed. They were decimated by European diseases, but also violence against them by growing numbers of Scots-Irish settlers moving westward.

The wider context was rivalry between France and Britain for control of the ‘Ohio Country’—the French were being pushed out, but their native allies still persisted in fighting the British. Pontiac, an Ottawa chief, formed a broad confederation to push the British troops and squatting settlers eastward back across the mountains.

The fighting, or its aftermath, reached the town of Paxtang or ‘Paxton’ on the Susquehanna in what is now Dauphin County. It was occupied by Scots-Irish, including the first Presbyterian church in the colony.

A good number of young men, called ‘the Paxton boys’ organized to retaliate. What made them stand out, however, is they didn’t care whether the natives they were killing were involved in the hostilities or not, making no distinctions among tribes, or whether the natives concerned were Christians or not. They simply slaughtered everyone, including the last remnants of the Susquehannock living in the village of Conestoga.
“At about sixty or eighty yards from the gaol, we met from twenty-five to thirty men, well mounted on horses, and with rifles, tomahawks, and scalping knives, equipped for murder,” reads an account in Wikipedia by William Henry of Lancaster. “I ran into the prison yard, and there, O what a horrid sight presented itself to my view!- Near the back door of the prison, lay an old Indian and his women, particularly well known and esteemed by the people of the town, on account of his placid and friendly conduct. His name was Will Sock; across him and his Native women lay two children, of about the age of three years, whose heads were split with the tomahawk, and their scalps all taken off. Towards the middle of the gaol yard, along the west side of the wall, lay a stout Indian, whom I particularly noticed to have been shot in the breast, his legs were chopped with the tomahawk, his hands cut off, and finally a rifle ball discharged in his mouth; so that his head was blown to atoms, and the brains were splashed against, and yet hanging to the wall, for three or four feet around. This man's hands and feet had also been chopped off with a tomahawk. In this manner lay the whole of them, men, women and children, spread about the prison yard: shot-scalped-hacked-and cut to pieces.”
Some 140 surviving natives fled toward Philadelphia to escape the Paxton Boys, who chased them to the outskirts of the city. Benjamin Franklin organized the local militia to protect them, and stopped the Paxton Boys at Germantown. He convinced them to turn their issues into the colonial legislature. But even if delayed, the Paxton Boys had staked out and clarified a new position: the real aim of ‘Indian policy’ was to be reduced to ethnic cleansing, extermination, and genocide against any and all ‘Red Skins.’ More to come.
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Important Lessons from History
from Carl Davidsons Facebook page
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To see NEW NARRITIVE 1-8 go to the October Mobilizer
New Narrative #18: Where Are We So Far?

[Graphic Mound-builder village of Native people in Florida.]

This series has provoked a bit of interest, as well as a few questions. What are you trying to do? Where are you going with this?

These are good questions, and for some, I don't have good answers, at least not yet. I'm exploring, on a journey of sorts, to see what we can learn, about ourselves and all else concerned on 'Turtle Island', or North America. Here's what I think we can say so far:

1. North America was never a pure 'wilderness', a land without people, as least in the time frames we're using, since 12,000 BCE or so, but more pointedly since the 1400s CE

2. It was the home of many peoples at various levels of civilization, from hunter-gatherer, agricultural (some quite advanced), and feudal with great cities, libraries, and centers of art and science. It was never 'a land without people' in need of a new people to make it their land from 'virgin soil'.

3. The many peoples who lived here were never in full harmony. There were tribal rivalries, armed conflicts, and alliances of all sorts, and often fluid. In the larger empires, there was class struggle, and anti-empire popular resistance. With the arrival of the 'Great Canoe' peoples from Europe, they were brought into these rivalries and alliances--and the Europeans contended within themselves--Protestant vs Catholic, English vs Spanish vs French vs Dutch vs Swedes--all leaving their marks on how all the peoples of the continent changed and evolved.

4. The Europeans came here mainly to get rich, and also to gain land and power if it helped them get rich. If religion was a concern, it was secondary to that main purpose. There were three main ways to get rich.

5. First, outright theft and looting of existing treasures. Countless gold, silver, and other bejeweled artifacts were taken from palaces and places of worship, and sent back to the 'mother country.'

6. Second was extractivism via trade, especially in furs but also from mining for gold and silver. The latter required both enslavement and, in some cases, the creation of wage labor among the native peoples. It soon meant the expropriation of large numbers of African captives brought to work as slaves, and the development of cash crops of tobacco, sugar, rum, indigo, rice, and cotton. We can call this a period of 'war capitalism' since it was the expansion of mercantilism at the point of a gun, the edge of a sword, or a barrage of cannon, on land and on the sea.

7. Third was settler colonialism, where the aim was not simply to extract wealth with plunder and expropriated slave labor, native or African. Here the aim was to import land-hungry Europeans, largely as indentured servants or unwanted disruptive minorities. These included Puritan theocrats against the established Anglican church or the extreme 'leveler' and 'digger' wings (often Quakers) of the Cromwellian Revolution, or Irish and Scots Irish troublemakers when jails were overcrowded. If they managed to thrive in the New World, they could be taxed and become a market for goods, rather than filling a London poorhouse. Naturally, this meant class struggle within the settlements of European peoples, and well as rivalry among them.

8. There was conflict and encounter with Native Peoples. It took three main forms. One was to establish a moveable 'frontier,' at first only 100 miles or so inland from the Atlantic, and to push the Native People on the other side of it as 'spawn of the devil' in their 'wilderness.' The endpoint was violent expulsion and extermination, growing into ethnic removal and genocide. The second was to negotiate land sales and other types of trade, in a fluid 'peaceful coexistence.' (This was mainly the Quakers, the Moravians, and the French to a degree). Native peoples often found themselves severely weakened by disease and stealing of their people for enslavement, and succumbed to some of these 'treaties' involving their 'hunting ground' lands. And third was a small but still notable number of Europeans and Africans who decided to join the Native tribes and share their way of life, which they often found much better than the misery they faced otherwise.

The history we learn in our schools ignores much if not all of this. The anti-CRT people would like it to stay that way, or rewritten to move back to an even 'whiter' version.
What you can see most often depends on where you're standing. And our official history stands mainly in the shoes of successful settlers and enslavers (the latter called 'planters' in the textbooks), and land stealers (called 'surveyors' in the same books) and celebrates their constant 'manifest destiny' expansion from sea to shining sea.

So these contrarian narratives will continue for a while, and I'll do my best to put us in the shoes of the Native peoples, the enslaved, and the exploited of all hues of skin, both Native and European. We will try rescuing a greater number of stories from the well-designed obscurity some would like to maintain. We'll see where it goes. More to come.
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New Narrative #19: Jemmy, the Stono Rebellion, and Fort Mose in La Florida

[Graphic: Portrayal of the Stono Revolt]
Jemmy was an enslaved worker in 1739 colonial South Carolina. As best as we know, he was born in the Kingdom of Kongo, or what is now called Angola. Influenced by Portugal traders, Kongo’s royalty spread the Portuguese language among its peoples. In the 1400s, it also adopted Catholicism and had an independent relationship with the Vatican. Kongo was a developing feudal order, with many skilled workers and artisans, and a warrior caste. It also had a class of slaves and engaged in the slave trade. Plantation owners around Charleston had a preference for slaves from ‘Angola’, since they were adept at growing rice and had other skills as well.

Jemmy, then, was a Catholic, spoke Portuguese, and was reportedly literate and a skilled fighter. He worked on a plantation near the Stono River, some 150 miles from the colony’s southern border. Across that line was the new colony of Georgia, designed for British prisoners, where slavery was illegal at the time. Another 100 miles or so was the border of Spain’s ‘La Florida,’ considered a backwater without gold or silver, looked on as an extension of Cuba. Florida was where beef cattle were raised and exported to Havana. Saint Augustine was the major fortress town, not far from the Georgia border.
Of interest to Jemmy and a few other Portuguese-speaking slaves he knew near Stono, was the Spanish then held a different policy on slavery than the British. In Florida, if you converted to Catholicism and agreed to join the militia, you would be emancipated and no longer be a slave. The appeal was natural.

‘La Florida’ had been a haven for escaped slaves and retreating Native Peoples for several decades. The Spanish encouraged them, not only to fend off the British, but to strengthen their hold on the indigenous peoples it held in debt peonage on several ‘mission’ plantations. It even gave Africans their own settlement, called Fort Mose (pronounced Mo-SAY). It served as a small autonomous zone and end terminal for an early ‘underground railroad’ running to the south.

We don’t know if Jemmy and his comrades were specifically familiar with Mose, only the attraction of getting to Spanish territory. The fall of 1739, when their masters were still recovering from bouts of malaria, seemed a good time for a rupture. So on Sept 9, his initial team of 20 or so rebelled, killed their masters, set the plantations aflame, and headed south. Their size grew as they marched, growing to around 100. They carried a banner that proclaimed ‘Liberty!’ They burned six plantations and killed about 30 whites in all before they were stopped. According to Wikipedia:
“While on horseback, South Carolina's Lieutenant Governor William Bull and five of his friends came across the group; they quickly went off to warn other slaveholders. Rallying a militia of planters and minor slaveholders, the colonists traveled to confront Jemmy and his followers. The next day, the well-armed and mounted militia, numbering 19–99 men, caught up with the group of 76 slaves at the Edisto River. In the ensuing confrontation, 23 whites and 47 slaves were killed. While the slaves lost, they killed proportionately more whites than was the case in later rebellions. The colonists mounted the severed heads of the rebels on stakes along major roadways to serve as a warning for other slaves who might consider revolt.”

Jemmy was also named ‘Cato’ by his master, and thus the Stono Revolt was sometimes called ‘Cato’s Rebellion.’ There were many more before it, but it was the largest in this period. The enslaver’s immediately enacted harsher rules—the enslaved were forbidden to learn to read or write, or gather among themselves.
It also changed some other practices. Those buying slaves more often sought them from the Caribbean, where they were supposedly ‘seasoned’ first. Or better yet, they were homegrown slaves, who had never known other conditions in life, even those in the Kingdom of Kongo. In the end, Jemmy’s descendants would come to rule for six years or so in South Carolina, during Reconstruction. But that’s far ahead in our stories. More to come.
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NEW NARRATIVE #20: Christian Priber, the Western Cherokee and Early Utopian Communism

{Graphic: Painting of Cherokee 'Kingdom of Paradise' town.]
Christian Priber is not a name we’re likely to come across in the standard American histories of Turtle Island after the European entrance. Save for early histories of Georgia and the hinterlands of the Carolinas now known as Tennessee, where he was a minor if fascinating character, he would be far below the radar.

Yet he fits into an important part of these narratives which aim at telling larger stories sometimes counterfactual to the dominant ‘frontier settler colonialism’ we all learned. One point my accounts imply is that just because something happened, it wasn’t always inevitable—at least not in any strict sense. History, even of the historical materialism school, often has a contingent dimension. There are forks in the road where choices are made. And sometimes there are counter-events that are contradictory but prescient in certain ways. They can be brushed aside as ‘duds’ or 'dead ends’ or praised as ‘ahead of their times.’

Christian Priber (1697-1744) is a case in point. He was a utopian communist who decided the Cherokee people were best suited to his ideas, which, among other things, included forming a wide confederacy of native peoples to resist and defend against the contending forces of European colonialism. He was not alone, and I have earlier noted a few other cases--the Fort Christina commune in New Sweden, the African autonomous zone of Fort Mose, the Albemarle Settlement of intermingled Quakers, Levelers and Native Peoples in North Carolina, and the maroon colonies in the Great Dismal Swamp. Save for the latter, all these were short-lived, even if they made waves for a while. We will discuss more of them going forward.

But let’s return to comrade Priber. He was raised in a middle-class German family well-off enough to get him through Erfurt University where he had studied law and philosophy. He had come to embrace radical notions of natural law, not unlike the radical wing of the Cromwellian 'diggers' in England. He came to oppose not only private property in the means of creating wealth, but also all hierarchical class rule based on such property. His efforts to organize around his outlook found him in deep trouble, first in Germany, and then in England as well, where he had fled. He soon requested, and received, permission to migrate to the new colony of Georgia.

Priber arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1735. Oddly, or so it seemed, he quickly took out an ad to sell all his worldly goods, and did so, save for what he needed to make a journey far inland, to the homeland of the Western Cherokee. He had apparently made a study of these people, and decided they were best suited for his ideas on an ideal social order--but not in the ways that other settler-colonial missionaries had set out on projects of ‘Christianizing savages.’ In this period, the size of the Cherokee was also nearly cut in half by smallpox.

Despite troubles and some differences, Priber liked the Cherokee pretty much as they were. So he set about to transform himself, as best as he could, into one of them. Already a master of four or five languages, he quickly learned Cherokee and worked on learning all about their ways and culture, wearing their clothes, paint and ornaments. Visiting traders found it hard to tell him apart, except when he spoke with them in their own languages. Other young Europeans of the day, down on their luck, had sometimes decided on ‘living among the Indians’ and rarely returning. But few did it with the same approach as Priber.

Over several years, Priber tried to be helpful to the Cherokee. Seeing they were often cheated by traders because they lacked appropriate standards of weights and measures, he created a set and taught them how to use them in transactions. He also taught them how to make and shape iron and even steel for themselves, and projected making gunpowder as well. He encouraged them to welcome all escaping debtors, bondservants or slaves, of any color or nationality. The Cherokee, for their part, adopted him and gave him the title ‘beloved man’ and rejected all English attempts to return him.

The Cherokee already had a communal approach to property and the produce of their farming and hunting. Women already held a degree of power in a matrilineal society where the homes and tools were largely in their collective hands, even while the males were relegated to hunting and warfare. Priber was a bit more radical on ideas of marriage and divorce, arguing his version of ‘free love’, that either men or women should form or dissolve unions at will. It likely raised an eyebrow or two even among the Cherokee, whose children were bound to their mothers and their mother’s siblings. Priber simply argued they were simply the responsibility of all in a given village.

“Women would live with the same freedom as the men; they should be free to change husbands every day; the children who would be born would belong to the republic and be cared for and instructed in all things that their genius be capable of acquiring.” (from the journal of Antoine Bonnefoy, a French trader who met Priber at Tellico, [a large Cherokee town])”
But the wider politics of the ‘Kingdom of Paradise,’ as the Priber project was called, had more impact among its adversaries. First, it was open to all Indians and to be ruled by Indians, an anti-colonial project. Second, Priber argued that the Cherokee should stop any more ceding of land to the Europeans, explaining it was all part of a larger plot to take all of the Native lands. Third, he argued for a broad alliance or confederacy of all Southern native peoples against the Europeans, playing one or another against the other if need be.
When venturing out to win the Creeks to this project, Priber was captured by a small group of them, who sold him to the English, and he ended up in a Georgia jail. But even there, he was undeterred, turning his cell into an evening salon for intellectual discussions with any and all of his more literate captors. By all accounts, they were rather stunned and spellbound by both his ideas and his acting as free even while under lock and key. Eventually, he fell ill and died there. The exact circumstances remain unknown, but his ‘Paradise’, save for a few principles, such as Cherokee welcoming of outlaw rebels, was soon lost as well. More to come.

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NEW NARRATIVE #21: Impressment of Seamen, Class Insurgency and the Knowles Riot in Boston

[Graphic: Boston riot of 1747]
In November 1747, a large insurgency of Boston-based sailors, slaves, and other workers, of English, African and other backgrounds, arose together, seized the city, and held British naval officers hostage for three days. They were demanding the freedom of dozens of their comrades ‘press ganged’ into captivity as would-be sailors on a British warship.

‘No taxation without representation!’ was the major rallying cry we all learned about in school for the 1776 American War of Independence against Britain. I always thought it rather wimpy, something that belonged farther down among a list of outrages or other causes. First, you had to be wealthy enough to pay significant taxes, and second, any of the upper crust sent off to sit in parliament in London was not likely to have matters of the majority--the exploited, the enslaved, and the expropriated—foremost among their concerns.

But what did fire me up as a young student was the stories of the impressment of sailors and their resistance. Perhaps it was because my father was a sailor in WW2 and would tell us stories of his challenges a sea. ‘Impressment,’ moreover, was an odd word, so archaic you had to look it up, along with ‘press gang’ that went with it.

So I dug into it, and the more I learned, the more outrage I could feel. For starters, seamen of any sort in the Atlantic in these years had a hard and dangerous life. They were ‘motley crews’ made up of all nationalities and skin colors, free and escaped slaves. and Native peoples too. They were captured or ‘pressed’ into the ships in what amounted to kidnapping outside the law. Their rations were so poor as to leave them diseased before reaching a port. Captains were permitted to whip them, so long as they avoided the limit of mutiny. And they were paid little, and sometimes not at all. They had at times to wait a year for their pay, and were dead or long gone elsewhere. Once in port, they often tried to escape, and any new targets of ‘press gangs’ often resisted.
Charles Knowles was ‘Admiral’ of the British warship being repaired not far from Boston. His crew was hanging out in town or nearby, and a good number decided to seek other livelihoods as best as they could. The Admiral needed to fill out his crew, so if you were a young laborer of any sort anywhere near the docks, you were a target for kidnapping and made to be a sailor. even if you had never been to sea. The ‘press gangs,’ moreover, killed two laborers who resisted.

So this time, the young men had enough of it. They rebelled and seized several British officers as hostages of their own, demanding the release of those ‘impressed.’ The streets were in turmoil for three days, and the history books call it ‘Knowles Riot,’ after the Admiral. It would be better described as a ‘motley’ class revolt of sailors, laborers, and slaves against their British overlords and any local appeasers.

‘Town officials,’ states Wikipedia, ‘claimed that “the said Riotous Tumultuous Assembly consisted of Foreign Seamen, Servants, Negros & other Persons of mean & vile condition." Some historians believe this was an effort to deflect blame, while others treat it as fact. Hutchinson estimated the crowd's size at "several thousand," remarkable in a city with a population of just 16,000. In addition to sailors and other maritime workers, the crowd likely included most of Boston's militia, as well as some middle-class shopkeepers and merchants, women, and others whose lives were affected by impressment.’

In the end, a bargain was struck, and the hostages were freed and returned to their ship, while the ‘impressed’ Boston residents were also set free. Eleven men were arrested, three were fined and the rest were let go.

One young Bostonian, a budding journalist named Sam Adams, was quite impressed with the entire event. He wrote up an early pamphlet of his own on the matter, fearful of signing it with his own name, using ‘Amicus Patrie’ instead. Using the ideas of John Locke, he argued: "For when they are suddenly attack'd, without the least Warning, and by they know not whom; I think they are treated as in a State of Nature, and have a natural Right, to treat their Oppressors, as under such Circumstances."

What the slaves and free Blacks had to say, however, is unknown. There was no one recording it. Nor do we know the future of all these insurgents as to whether they became ‘settlers’ set against the Native people to their West. Several accounts state that a good number of them were ‘Scotch,’ which could have meant either immigrants from Scotland or the Ulster ‘Scots-Irish.’ In either case, they were likely, if they lived, to have become settlers and dispersers of Native peoples, a life with new contradictions. More to come.
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New Narratives #22: Aliquippa, Logstown, the Mingo and the Ohio Country.

Nearly all of us who grew up here in Aliquippa, Beaver County, Western PA are familiar with Logstown and Aliquippa, the Native American matriarch who is our town’s namesake. Most things we think we know about them, however, are either slightly mistaken or entirely wrong. But that doesn’t make them less important in our ongoing wider tale. [Painting: Cornplanter of the Seneca]

We can start with Logstown. Many of us knew it as part of the town of Aliquippa, on its northern edge. That’s true, but it's not the real and far more important Logstown, which was directly across the Ohio River on a flat between what is now the towns of Baden and Ambridge. By 1750 or so, it was a major Native settlement with a unique history with no single source of population. It was founded by mixed peoples fleeing westward to escape the diseases of the Europeans, and its peoples included the Shawnee, the Lenape and the Mingo, or Seneca, a subset of the Haudenosaunee, or ‘Six Nations.’ All saw the area as their 'hunting grounds.' Game was plentiful due to 'salt licks' in the region.

The French also had a hand in building the town, viewing it as a convenient trading center. Naturally, it wasn’t called Logstown, a later English name, but Chiningué, itself a corrupted French version of ‘Shenango,’ a nearby Native-named river to the north. For the times, it was large, with 50 to 100 structures, depending on the time of the counting, and perhaps 500 inhabitants at most. It had extensive nearby crops of corn, squash beans, and berries.

But Logstown was also a diplomatic post of sorts, where the French, English, and Americans, as well as six or so tribal groupings, negotiated and made deals. Detroit’s commander of ‘New France,’ Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville, visited there, as did George Croghan, an Irish fur trader, and Andrew Montour, a Metis interpreter, and George Washington. Washington also met with Aliquippa, the strong Mingo-Seneca matriarch, but her tribe lived a few miles further upriver near what is now McKee’s Rocks.

Washington, as is well known, had his eyes on grabbing ‘the Ohio country,’ the term of the time for all of the lands in Western PA and Ohio situated on the southern and western banks of the Ohio River. The ‘Six Nations’ had supposedly ‘ceded’ them to the British, much to the anger of both the Shawnee, the French and other Native people.
'Queen' Aliquippa was partial to the British but decided to avoid the conflict by moving eastward to central PA, where she died. Serving later under General Braddock, Washington was trounced by the French, the Shawnee, and the Mingo-Seneca under the war chief Guyasuta. The British had made an effort to build 'Fort King George' at the ‘Forks of the Ohio,’ but the French trashed it and built Fort Duquesne.

In a few years, Logstown would be abandoned, but Washington would be back and defeat the French at their new fort, and build Fort Pitt. Guyasuta had met Washington before, calling him ‘the tall hunter,’ and later worked with him against the French. According to Wikipedia, ‘Guyasuta was a major player in Pontiac's Rebellion—indeed, some historians once referred to that war as the Pontiac-Guyasuta War.' The main consistency was his skill at playing one group of Europeans against another.

In the end, Guyasuta saw the independence-seeking ‘Americans’ as more land-hungry and hence more dangerous. In his last years, he aimed at keeping ‘the Ohio Country’ as an independent native homeland, but that battle would have to be taken up by his young nephew, Cornplanter.

Cornplanter called the new American government the ‘Thirteen Fires’ and signed the Treaty of Fort Stanwix with it in Rome, NY, 1784, ostensibly for peaceful co-habitation of lands west of the Alleghenies. But it was soon clear the Americans had other ideas that did not include any sharing.

‘The Six Nations council at Buffalo Creek,’ states Wikipedia, ‘refused to ratify the treaty, denying that their delegates had the power to give away such large tracts of land and asked the Americans for return of the deeds and promised to indemnify them for any presents they had given. The general Indian confederacy also disavowed the treaty because most of the Six Nations did not live in the Ohio territory. ‘

The Ohio Country's native peoples, including the Shawnee, the Mingo, the Lenape, and several other tribes, also rejected the treaty. The stage was being set for much longer and wider battles.

So how did Aliquippa get its name? Until 1900, only a small and sleepy hamlet named ‘Woodlawn’ was there, but as the name suggests, it had a wide pleasant place on the riverfront, which local entrepreneurs turned into an amusement and picnic grounds they named ‘Aliquippa Park.’ When Mr. Jones and Mr. Laughlin decided to build the world’s largest steel mill and adjoining town there, ‘Aliquippa’ seemed more suited. More to come on the ‘Ohio Country’.
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