Campaigning for Democracy And Socialism
Nov 17, 2023: The Week in Review
Bitter Lessons in Palestine/Israel:
When Dreams Are Deferred, They Explode
Our Weekly Editorial
Perhaps it's gallows humor, but our cartoon this week captures all the entanglements arising from bad decisions made long ago.

Israel/Palestine today is a country born of two tragedies. The first was the holocaust displacing the Jews who survived it with the refusal of 'the Allies' to allow any substantial immigration. The second was the 'Nakba,' the forcible expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, then also forcibly contained them in the open-air prisons of the 'occupied territories.'

No one can say they weren't warned that Israel was a ticking time bomb from day one. No one less than Albert Einstein, himself a 'labor Zionist,' delivered the message. He favored displaced Jews going there to make homes and a better life. He didn't see that they had better choices ar hand. But he sternly warned against establishing a 'Jewish state' over a bi-national secular state. He predicted the former would become fascist, and it would inflict upon Palestinians the same horrors the Nazis had inflicted on them. He didn't mince words. Unfortunately, he was ignored.

So we see all the endless arguments since then in our cartoon: 'It's our promised land,' 'it was my father's land,' and more related to oil and geopolitics, and so on.

What now? The phrase of the day, 'the two-state solution,' seems to have more uses than aspirin. But it's hard, if not impossible, to wind the clock back to Einstein's time. Prime Minister 'Bibi' Netanyahu and his Likud party bloc have worked persistently for the last decade to make two states all but impossible. He even built up Hamas to oppose the PLO to make sure. We see how that worked out. Now by declaring 'war' to meet the crisis he caused and cover his mistakes, he's reduced to waging genocide on Gaza. His West Bank 'settlers' are also picking up the pace, increasing their murders and evictions of unarmed Palestinians.

President Biden's rush to Israel to embrace Bibi may well mean this conflict's unfolding will take them both down. Bibi is all but certain to fall. The best that might be said for Biden is that his trip to Israel was delivering a message of covert restraint, not 'to make that same mistake we did' in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to resurrect the 'two-state solution.' If so, it's likely to be too little, too late. The only lesson Bibi might reach is that if he digs enough under bombed hospitals, he even might find Saddam's 'weapons of mass destruction' in the tunnels.

There are two key lessons in finding a way out of increasing bloodshed and catastrophe in this conflagration. First, take note of Einstein. History did not begin on Oct 7, 2023. If you think so, then you will end up, with Bibi, in a genocidal project destroying Gaza. The roots are much older and deeper. Second, pay attention to the UN. It helped Israel to come into being in the first place, but not as a theocratic Jewish state 'from the river to the sea.' The UN offered guidelines several times, especially those of the 1967 resolutions. Revisit them, and instead of vetoing UN resolutions today, make use of them to stop the killing and find an exit. Major time bombs have already exploded. But others remain. We don't want to go there.

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

Click Here to send a letter


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

Saturday Morning Coffee!

Started in August 2022, then going forward every week.

It will be more of a hangout than a formal setting. We can review the news in the previous days' LeftLinks or add a new topic. We can invite guests or carry on with those who show up. We'll try to have a progressive stack keeper should we need one.

Most of all, we will try to be interesting and a good sounding board. If you have a point you would like to make or a guest to invite, send an email to Carl Davidson,

Continuing weekly, 10:30 to Noon, EDT.

The Zoom link will also be available on our Facebook Page.

Meeting ID: 868 9706 5843

Let's see what happens!
Strategies to Build Progressive Political Power

Sat Dec 2, 2023
9:30 am - 5:00 pm EST

Massachusetts has the reputation of being one of the most progressive states in the country. Yet we lack legislative transparency, and we have a progressive Democratic Party platform that the leadership ignores and a state government that has tremendous difficulty passing progressive legislation.

In response, the Massachusetts Progressive Action Organizing Committee (MPAOC) invites you to an online Strategy Conference. We will focus on how progressive activists can gain the power to pass vigorous meaningful legislation and initiate changes to improve the lives of all of our citizens.

In panels and breakout groups, conference attendees will examine paths to increase progressive power, identify the obstacles to our success. and learn strategies to overcome them.
November 27
9pm ET, 8pm CT, 6pm PT

CCDS's Socialist Education Project '4th Monday' Webinar Series presents

How important is the United Nations today in curbing war and promoting peace?

Can the peace movement and other progressive forces make use of it?

At the time of its founding in 1945, The United Nations set out with lofty goals: “To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”

For our upcoming 4th Monday webinar, Carl Davidson will explore and summarize the growth and changes in the United Nations over the years.

His key point will be that the UN is more important than ever in its
ability to fight for its founding principles stated above. Both the
socialist left and the broader peace movement would do well to make more use of its founding charter and its recent declarations as a pivot point to press demands against war and hegemonism on our government.

The webinar will open with a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation, followed by 45 minutes of Q&A discussion.

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
DSA's National Political Education Committee Presents:

Past and Present

Nov 18, 2023
4:00 PM ET to 6:00 PM ET

“Alone among the societies that abolished slavery in the nineteenth century, the United States, for a moment, offered the freedmen a measure of political control over their own destinies. However brief its sway, Reconstruction allowed scope for a remarkable political and social mobilization of the black community.” - Eric Foner, 1983.

“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line — the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea." - W.E.B. Du Bois, 1903.

Panelists include Dr. Manisha Sinha and Dr. Gerald Horne.
Last Week's Saturday Morning Coffee
News of the Week, Plus More
Poll Shows American Support for Israel
Is Cratering Amid Its Violent Siege

Less than a third of Americans now say they back Israel in its current genocidal siege of Gaza.

By Sharon Zhang

Nov 15, 2023 - Support for Israel is cratering fast among the American public amid Israeli forces’ genocidal siege of Gaza, while a majority of Americans support the growing calls for a ceasefire, new polling reveals.

According to polling by Reuters/Ipsos released Wednesday, support for Israel among the U.S. public has dropped by nearly 10 percent in the past month. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken shortly after the current siege began last month, 41 percent said that the U.S. should back Israel in its attack. Now, in a two-day poll that ended Tuesday, less than a third of respondents, or just 32 percent, said the same. This drop was seen among both Democrats and Republicans.

Further, the poll found that 39 percent of Americans think that the U.S. “should be a neutral mediator,” a 12 percent increase in the number who think so since last month. The number who said that the U.S. should support Palestinians, however, remained the same as the last poll at just 4 percent, while 15 percent said the U.S. should not involve itself.

Meanwhile, support for a ceasefire is strong among the public, with 68 percent of respondents saying that they support the idea, including about 75 percent of Democrats and about half of Republicans. This is roughly the same finding as a poll by Data for Progress released last month, which found that 66 percent of likely U.S. voters support a ceasefire, with 80 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans in agreement.

At least 11,240 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 amid Israel’s current ruthless bombardment of Gaza, including at least 4,630 children, while 27,490 Palestinians have been injured. Thousands more are missing under the rubble as Israel has leveled entire neighborhoods with its bombings. Israeli forces are also carrying out increased incursions in the occupied West Bank, killing at least 183 Palestinians so far and arresting thousands.

Israel’s carnage in Gaza could be responsible for the turning of public opinion as hundreds of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in protest of Israel’s current ethnic cleansing campaign in what is likely the largest wave of pro-Palestinian solidarity protests ever seen in the U.S. and across the world. At the same time, however, government officials and private and public institutions have been increasingly trying to repress such speech in what observers are saying is a resurgence of McCarthyism.

U.S. officials have thus far failed to heed protesters’ calls for a ceasefire, and the U.S. is instead ramping up its weapons transfers to Israel — and is doing so in secrecy, reports have found.

The Reuters/Ipsos polling found that these weapons deals are unpopular among the public. A plurality of respondents, 43 percent, said that they oppose sending weapons to Israel, while only 31 percent supported the idea. The remaining respondents said they were unsure.

The poll suggests that top U.S. officials and lawmakers, who have stood nearly uniformly in support of Israel for decades now, are greatly out of step with the American public on the issue. Only a few dozen lawmakers in Congress have publicly supported a ceasefire, while Biden administration officials have actually doubled down on their support of Israel’s bloody conquest in recent weeks. ...Read More
Photo: Rep. Cori Bush urging passage of the Ceasefire Now resolution, with veteran advocates, on the steps of the Capitol Building on November 9th

Ceasefire Is a First Step Towards Justice at Home and Abroad

For those interested in maintaining the status quo – in the Middle East and in our own country – the demand for a cease fire is threatening, because it means negotiation, and negotiations might call the existing status quo into question.

By Kurt Stand 
Washington Socialist via Portside

Nov 15, 2023 - “I AM GRIEVING for every Palestinian, Israeli, and American life lost to this violence, and my heart breaks for all those who will be forever traumatized because of it. War and retaliatory violence doesn’t achieve accountability or justice; it only leads to more death and human suffering,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush.

“Today [October 25] I am introducing the Ceasefire Now Resolution, vital legislation that calls for de-escalation and an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Occupied Palestine, and for humanitarian assistance to urgently be delivered to the 2.2 million people under siege and trapped in Gaza. The United States bears a unique responsibility to exhaust every diplomatic tool at our disposal to prevent mass atrocities and save lives. We can’t bomb our way to peace, equality, and freedom. With thousands of lives lost and millions more at stake, we need a ceasefire now.”

“I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib wrote in a statement, as a co-sponsor of the Ceasefire Now Resolution, adding “The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer. We cannot ignore the humanity in each other. As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.”

In addition to Bush and Tlaib, the bill was co-sponsored by Representatives André Carson, Summer Lee, and Delia C. Ramirez and joined by eight other members of Congress: Jamaal Bowman, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Jesús “Chuy” García, Jonathan Jackson, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Nydia Velázquez (a list now grown larger).

If we wish to understand the sentiment that lies behind this resolution, we may want to listen to the lines of Palestinian poet Samih Al-Qasim who himself saw the inside of Israeli prisons on more than one occasion:

And destruction’s tide
rises higher still than the tide,
and the angel’s wing grows distant,
and the winds of devastation draw near,
and you sit atop the earth:
no moaning interferes,
no ark comes to save you,
no olive branch is here in the orbit,
and over death you wither
folding your shirt on the heart’s ordeal.

You fold and all,
Strange and sad –
sadder than water.

Like the struggle for peace and justice everywhere, the resolution seems fragile, a whisper against the rising tide of war. Yet a whisper can turn into a cry, a small step can be the path that leads out of the abyss. It is striking the fierce opposition this simple plea arouses. The line is drawn – war or peace, oppression or freedom, human empathy or destruction. It is up to us to choose.

Blaming the Victim

Despite law-and-order demagogues who proclaim violence as originating from “bad” individuals or cultures, violence does not spring from the void — it has root causes and those causes need to be understood if the violence is to be overcome and resolved.

We should not forget that there is a violence that has defined the conditions of life in Gaza; one which the phrase “open air prison” begins to suggest. There is violence in the conditions of life in the West Bank in which apartheid-like barriers keep apart Israelis and occupied Palestinians, freedom of movement for the former based on denial of freedom of movement for the latter. And there is violence in treating some groups of citizens in society as having fewer rights than other groups of citizens as happens to Palestinians within the borders of Israel itself. Until Palestinians are able to live as free men and women, violence in all its forms will persist.

Noting this does not take away from responsibility of any who act in wanton disregard for human life. When a child is killed, the reason behind it does not matter – there is a lifeless body, there is grief. To talk about causes and reasons at that point seems itself to be a crime.

But what does it mean when one child’s death matters and another child’s death doesn’t? For we need to recognize that Palestinian deaths – the killing of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers – in the past year barely made a dent in the news. The names, the hopes of a life cut short, the anger and hurt of grieving parents, they all barely entered into the consciousness of our media, of our society. Acknowledging that does not relativize the pain experienced by those who lost loved ones in the Hamas attack on Israel, rather the reverse is true; it is an argument to organize for equality for hope in life, rather than equality in grieving. 

By failing to confront the use of force by those with power to suppress those without, we make inevitable the seemingly endless cycles of violence and counter violence. Many who are unable to see that connection are blinded by the racism which we know all too well from our own society. 

After all, the rhetoric of “superpredators” used by politicians to justify enactment of the draconian laws that have led to the extraordinary rates of mass incarceration in the United States was designed to characterize some people as less than human, to deny social causes to individual behaviors. Militarized policing and tossing out the concept of “innocent before proven guilty” in turn normalized mass incarceration as the chosen means of addressing crime, rather than enaction of social policies to transform the equality promised in words into equality in life as experienced.

Unfortunately, and tellingly, it has led to the practice of arresting and charging children as adults, giving decades-long sentences even to children in their early teens. A racial blind spot allows that to happen; a field of vision that sees whole categories of people as irredeemable.

Moreover, that blind spot goes one step further – it enables the “neutral” observer from afar to blame the community for being responsible for its own oppression. Too many African Americans in prison, living in poverty, lacking education? – well it is “their” fault; we (one can insert whatever “we” one wants here) had to overcome challenges too. It is a logic that lies just below the surface of society – open racists and right-wingers make it explicit, yet far too many – who otherwise perceive themselves as liberal minded – fall into the same mindset. 

Were it not so, the continued structural discrimination afflicting African Americans (or of Native Americans, or those of Spanish-speaking immigrant heritage) would be viewed as intolerable – meaning it would not be tolerated and social policy and budgetary priorities would be so reordered to address those inequities. But, of course, it is tolerated, at an enormous cost to us as a society, at an enormous cost to all working people. Tolerated through a rationalization that blames the victims: i.e. blaming personal or familial or community dysfunction, blaming bad leadership or bad decisions as the reason for lack of progress by those who have been and still are being held back.

Familiar refrains all and returns us to Palestine-Israel—and our failure to hold those who have power responsible, a refusal to look at the structure of society that creates such conflicts, an unwillingness to look at the systemic basis for oppression, an unwillingness to look for systemic solutions. Instead, we have violence, counter-violence, and the continuation of the unacceptable – alongside the easy answer of seeing conflict as reflecting ancient hatreds, irrational peoples, divisions rooted in history and blood, and other stereotypes that deny the humanity of those involved. It is that denial which links Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism, seeing people as identities that deny humanity, as if solutions can be found apart from social justice, apart from peace.

Roots of War

Therein lies the determined opposition to the call for a cease fire. A cease fire, in and of itself, simply means stopping the killing, killing which those with the greater fire power are quite unready to stop. Yet without a cease fire, war continues, without a cease fire there is no basis for the release of the hostages Hamas is holding in Gaza (or the reciprocal release of Palestinian political prisoners, many detained for years without charges). 

But for those interested in maintaining the status quo – in the Middle East and in our own country – the demand for a cease fire is threatening, because it means negotiation, and negotiations might call the existing status quo into question. For Palestinians and Israelis solutions that end the reality of oppression experienced by millions and allow all to live a life of peace with justice, will require such negotiations, as happened in Ireland and South Africa. Ultimately, allowing equal political rights to all will enable divides over issues to be resolved through political means, through democratic struggle. How this will be achieved is for the people who live or are from the region to determine, as genuine democratic rights and equality is not what those in power in Israel want, however much it is needed. 

While those of us abroad can have our opinions about one solution or another, no solution imposed from abroad will be lasting. What those of us who stand in solidarity with the Palestinians can do, however, is to end the interference by our government which has long supported Israeli violations of international law and its denial of Palestinian human rights.

Far from being an honest broker, our government’s policy for years has been determined by the perceived need of our “power elite” – those corporate, military and political circles that conduct foreign policy — to maintain US primacy in world affairs. The same sects that call for “democracy,” after all, support Saudi Arabia, the same sects that denounce wars of aggression invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. And the same sects that talk of economic growth are those that have imposed structural adjustment policies around the world, devastating for local populations, while being quite a boon for global capital and profits. The military, far from being a vehicle for national defense, has become an instrument of domination, and a never ending cash cow for the parasitical arms industry. These same sets of policies have their domestic equivalent, in anti-unionism, in the outflow of jobs, in privatization, in mass incarceration, in police violence, and in the racism that is intensified by the insecurity of life these bring. For all those, today’s call for a ceasefire is a threat, for all others it ought to be a call to action. ...Read More
The March for Israel Was a Hate Rally
Photo: President of Israel Isaac Herzog speaks on video during the March For Israel at the National Mall on November 14, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Noam Galai / Getty)

What kind of gathering against anti-Semitism invites anti-Semites?

By Dave Zirin
The Nation

NOVEMBER 15, 2023 - When it comes to supporting the Israeli government, it’s not a shock to see Democratic Party leaders in lockstep with Trumpists like Friedman and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, whose hand they held on stage in honor of Israel.

It’s not just that the Democratic leaders said nothing about the evangelical Christian speakers with histories so anti-Semitic that they would give Donald Trump pause. (Make no mistake: People in the anti-Jewish Christian Zionist community made up a significant portion of the crowd.) Or that they failed to remark on the racist handmade signs attendees created for the occasion.

It’s that their presence was a slap in the face to the 80 percent of Democratic voters who want a cease-fire. It’s that they are openly hostile to the generation of youth whose support they need to stay in office—a generation that inconveniently believes that Palestinian lives matter. It’s that they are contemptuous of Jews like me who say to Israel that their genocidal attacks must not be pursued in our name. It’s that they are in the process of handing the next election to a fascist anti-Semite who, in the words of The Washington Post, is echoing Hitler by calling their opponents “vermin.”

Schumer and Jeffries would rather stand with a pro-war mob that shouted down an over-his-head Van Jones calling for peace. Speaker after speaker slammed the idea of a cease-fire and slandered the cease-fire protests as “pro Hamas.” C-list celebrities like Debra Messing and Michael Rapaport backed a message whose only logic is bigotry and bombings.

But the coup de grâce was when they cheered a video speech by Israeli President Isaac Herzog who has said that civilians in Gaza are legitimate targets, that “it is an entire nation out there that is responsible.” This was not just a rally supporting a war. This was a rally supporting a war crime.

The defenders of yesterday’s shanda will say that it was a mass gathering “against anti-Semitism.” But what kind of rally against “anti-Semitism” features John Hagee, the Christian Zionist evangelical leader who has said Hitler was brought by God on a divine mission to “create” the state of Israel? You bring Hagee out of his crypt only to send a message that this is not about making sure that Jews are safe. It’s about showing solidarity with Israel, no matter the allies.

What kind of rally against anti-Semitism includes racist signs calling for more war, more bombings, and the end of not just Hamas but Palestine itself? Or as one sign held by a masked protester read, “From the river to the sea, Israel is all you will see.”

This is not to say that every single person in attendance was there to celebrate war. The reports of increasing anti-Semitism have many people understandably concerned. But the messaging was far less about anti-Semitism than about “finishing the job” in Gaza.

The march was also not a call to “free the hostages.” Instead, it elevated bigots, trolls, and an Israeli president who has made an open call for genocide. At one point, on Herzog’s urging, the crowd stopped chanting against a cease-fire and instead shouted “never again.”

This was a vandalizing of those sacred words. “Never again”—as I was raised—is supposed to mean that never again would Jews remain quiet when anyone on this planet faced genocide. But for Herzog, it means that for the horrid crime of October 7, Israel must declare a total war against the people of Gaza. For Herzog, there are no innocents in Gaza. To chant “never again” in the comfort of sunny D.C. while a trapped ghetto is bombed half a world away in our name shames this rally. Friedman may be thrilled, but Democrats sacrificing their party’s presidential hopes on the altar of a war crime deserve nothing but contempt. If young people don’t turn out to vote, remember this rally, and remember how Schumer and Jeffries locked arms with Johnson, looked at 80 percent of their voters, and spit in their faces. ...Read More
Photo: Several members of the Squad, and other representatives, hold a banner demanding a cease-fire and condemning the Israeli attacks on Gaza, in front of the Capitol on Nov 8. CELAL GUNES/ANADOLU/GETTY IMAGES

You Won’t Believe How Much AIPAC
Is Spending to Target the Squad in 2024

A new report reveals how AIPAC has set its sight on challenging the Squad in the 2024 primaries, as they continue to criticize Israel’s war on Gaza.

By Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling
The New Republic

Nov 15, 2023 - One of the biggest political operations in Washington is gearing up to take down the Squad, the Democratic cohort that has heralded progressive policies from the Green New Deal to tuition-free college, throwing major dollars behind primary challengers they believe can unseat them in their 2024 reelection campaigns.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is expected to spend at least $100 million in the Democratic primaries in an effort to knock out the seven “Squad” members, reported Slate. They include Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, and Summer Lee—all Black and brown members of Congress who have been vocal critics of Israel’s war on Gaza.

The Israeli lobby’s counter effort will likely only be the beginning of a very tumultuous battle for the Squad to retain their seats. Affiliated super PACs, including the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC and the Mainstream Democrats PAC, are also expected to throw cash at the drive to unseat the seven, who have been outspoken in their opposition to Israel’s occupation and continued military bombardment of Palestine.

The United Democracy Project super PAC has already launched a six-figure ad campaign against Bowman, Lee, and Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie after the trio voted against a House resolution to stand with Israel against Hamas.

And Bush, Bowman, Lee, and Omar are already facing Democratic primary opponents in their districts, still a year out from the election, thanks in large part due to the aggressive recruiting efforts and expenditures from AIPAC. ...Read More
Photo: Lawmakers pray in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Speaker Mike Johnson:
‘Depraved’ America Deserves God’s Wrath

Citing the increase in queer youth, Johnson called American culture "dark and depraved" on a call with a Christian nationalist pastor

BY Tim Dickinson
Rolling Stone

NOV 15, 2023 - IN AN OCTOBER prayer call hosted by a Christian-nationalist MAGA pastor, Rep. Mike Johnson was troubled that America’s wickedness was inviting God’s wrath.

Talking to pastor Jim Garlow on a broadcast of the World Prayer Network, Johnson spoke ominously of America facing a “civilizational moment.” He said, “The only question is: Is God going to allow our nation to enter a time of judgment for our collective sins? … Or is he going to give us one more chance to restore the foundations and return to Him?”

The segment was filmed Oct. 3, just weeks before Johnson’s unexpected rise to become speaker of the House. Garlow pressed the clean-cut Louisiana congressman to say “more about this ‘time of judgment’ for America.”

Johnson replied: “The culture is so dark and depraved that it almost seems irredeemable.” He cited, as supposed evidence, the decline of national church attendance and the rise of LGBTQ youth — the fact, Johnson lamented, that “one-in-four high school students identifies as something other than straight.”

Discussing the risk of divine retribution, Johnson invoked Sodom, the Old Testament city destroyed by God for its wickedness with a rain of burning sulfur. Johnson is a polished orator, but in a closing prayer with Garlow he grew tearful. Johnson intoned, “We repent for our sins individually and collectively. And we ask that You not give us the judgment that we clearly deserve.”

Remarkably, this was not the first time Johnson brought up his fear of biblical retribution on a broadcast with Garlow. During a WPN appearance last December, Johnson likewise declared that he’d been “burdened” by the need for America to “recognize there’s so much to repent for.” The future speaker elaborated, “We’re violating His commands. We’re inventing new ways to do evil.” He added, “We have to ask ourselves: How long can His mercy and His grace be held back?”

The prayer calls underscore the new House speaker’s alarming alignment with Christian nationalism — the extremist movement that holds America is not a secular democracy but was founded as a Christian nation and should be governed to uphold a fundamentalist morality. They also provide fresh evidence of Johnson’s apocalyptic worldview, in which he sees America as existing in “disastrous, calamitous” times and “hanging by a thread.” It raises questions about whether the Republican, who’s now second in line for the presidency, is leveraging his power not just to avoid a government shutdown, but to appease an angry deity — and avoid a more permanent Heavenly Shutdown.

Pastor Jim Garlow is not a household name, but he’s a national figure. A Christian nationalist based out of the San Diego area, Garlow is viewed as an “apostle” within the New Apostolic Reformation, a strain of Charismatic Christianity that holds that gifts of the spirit — including prophecy — are not biblical bygones, but alive in our time. NAR differentiates itself from other strains of evangelical Christianity in its obsession with earthly power. NAR leaders embrace “dominionism,” the concept that Christians are supposed to rise and rule over “the nations,” in order to bring the globe into a biblical alignment, in preparation for the second coming of Jesus.

To Garlow, this transformation is to be achieved through the “Seven Mountains Mandate” — with Christians ascending to the tops of seven cultural mountains (also referred to as “spheres of influence”): religion, family, education, media, entertainment, business, and government. “We’re the ones called the disciple the nation,” Garlow has said, teaching on the concept, “and we disciple the nations through those seven spheres of influence.”

Johnson is a professed Baptist. But the 51-year-old has known Garlow for “two decades or more,” he revealed on a third WPN call from 2021. Johnson calls Garlow a “profound influence” on “my life and my walk with Christ.” Garlow, using similar language, calls Johnson “a special brother.” (Neither the speaker’s office nor Garlow have responded to questions from Rolling Stone.) ...Read More
Speaker Mike Johnson Calls Separation Of Church And State ‘A Misnomer’ --The Guardian

By Kareem Abdul Jabaar

SUMMARY: The speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, has delivered his verdict on the separation of church and state: it is a “misnomer”.

The second-in-line to the presidency informed Americans on Tuesday that their time-honored conception of one of the founding principles of the country was a “misunderstanding”. Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box, he tried to turn the conventional wisdom about the founders’ intentions on its head and claimed what they really wanted was to stop government interfering with religion, not the other way around.

“The separation of church and state is a misnomer,” the speaker said in an interview with the TV channel from the US Capitol. “People misunderstand it. Of course, it comes from a phrase that was in a letter that Jefferson wrote. It’s not in the constitution.”

…Johnson’s contentious remarks fall in line with years of effort on his part to bring Christianity into the center of American politics. The New York Times has dubbed him the first Christian nationalist to hold the powerful position of speaker.

MY TAKE: Sometimes I feel like I’m in a science-fiction movie in which the hero tries to warn the people of impending doom. Like Charlton Heston in Soylent Green: “Soylent Green is people!” Or Kevin McCarthy in 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers: “Look, you fools, you're in danger! Can't you see?! They're after you! They're after all of us! Our wives, our children, everyone! THEY'RE HERE, ALREADY! YOU'RE NEXT!”

Johnson—third in line for the presidency—doesn’t believe in this part of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This is not convoluted or ambiguous and it clearly reflects the intent of the Framers of the Constitution as shown in their writings, particularly Thomas Jefferson’s.

But Johnson, who needs his son’s help monitoring his porn viewing (“Mike Johnson Admits He and His Son Monitor Each Other’s Porn Intake in Resurfaced Video”), has chosen to ignore history in order to create, as he stated in a 2016 interview, a “biblical” republic.

I repeat: A BIBLICAL REPUBLIC! [Note from CarlD: This also includes, for the hardliners, a restoration of 'Biblical Slavery.' I kid you not.]

This seems like a desperate attempt to sandbag against eroding numbers in the Christian faith in the U.S. In the 1990s, about 90% of U.S. adults identified as Christian, but today it’s only about 64%. Religiously Unaffiliated rose from 5% in 1972 to 29% in 2020. Johnson intends to use the same shifty and unconstitutional tactics that the GOP uses to grab power. When the people choose something else, they impose their will upon those people. Since democracy is not a core value to them, we will become a Christian state whether we want to or not. Whatever it takes.

Johnson told Fox News that anyone who wanted to know what he thought about any issue should, “go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it – that’s my worldview.” Gosh, that’s so pious, so damn righteous. They say God is in the details and the details are what make his statement not only foolish but ultimately meaningless. The Bible is filled with contradictory teachings and admonishments. Jesus tells us he’s overriding the Old Testament’s “eye for an eye” in favor of turning the other cheek. Does that mean Johnson is negating all teachings in the Old Testament, too?

He might just as well have said, anyone who wanted to know what he thought about any issue should, “go to the library and read books – that’s my worldview.”

Johnson represents Louisiana. In U.S. News & World Report rankings of Best States, Louisiana ranks last. It also ranks last in Crime & Corrections and Economy. Natural Environment and Infrastructure (49th), Opportunity (48th), Education (46th), and so on. Given Johnson’s focus on leading a new Crusade through America rather than improving his own state, we can see what kind of leadership he offers. Yet, somehow, he’s in one of the most powerful positions in our country.

What is the goal of Johnson and his cohorts? For everyone to be Christian, conservative, Republican, follow patriarchy, read approved materials, and avoid porn. The time for being glib or bemused about this attempted takeover of our country and our culture is past. Diligence in removing these unAmerican politicians is our only option to reclaim the country our Founders had in mind.

I’m afraid Kevin McCarthy was right: “Look, you fools, you're in danger! Can't you see?! They're after you! They're after all of us! Our wives, our children, everyone! THEY'RE HERE, ALREADY! YOU'RE NEXT!” ...Read More

Trump’s Transition to Fascism is Complete

There is no longer any room for debate.

By Bill Blum

One of the few foreign correspondents to be granted personal access to Adolph Hitler and his inner circle in the dark winter of 1933 was Welsh journalist Garreth Jones. Assigned by his home paper, the Western Mail, to cover Hitler’s push to absolute power, Jones accompanied the newly appointed chancellor and his entourage to Frankfurt for a massive political rally that was held on March 2 of 1933.

Jones’ eyewitness account of the event is bone-chilling because it looks so much like what we are seeing today at Trump rallies. 

“For eight hours, the biggest hall in Germany has been packed with 25,000 people for whom Hitler is the savior of his nation,” Jones began his story. “They are waiting, tense with national fervor…I have never seen such a mass of people; such a display of flags up to the top of the high roof, such deafening roars. It is primitive, mass worship.”

Then Hitler took the stage to a “roar of applause and the thumping and the blare of a military band and the thud of marching feet.” Hitler, Jones observed, “is … a master in repeating [his] leitmotiv in many varied forms, and the leitmotiv is: ‘The republican regime in Germany has betrayed you. Our day of retribution has come.’”

As a form of political behavior, discourse and ideology, Trump and the MAGA movement are clearly fascist.

The rally closed with Hitler’s pledge to “complete the work which I began fourteen years ago as an unknown soldier, for which I have struggled as leader of the party and for which I stand today as Chancellor of Germany. We shall do our duty.”

“Again,” Jones wrote, “the hall resounds.”

Three weeks later, Hitler secured passage of the Enabling Act, bringing the Weimar Republic effectively to an end.

Flash forward some 90 years and you can hear echoes of Hitler’s Frankfurt address in the persistent messaging of Donald Trump. Speaking at the ultra-right Faith and Freedom Coalition’s 14th annual “Road to the Majority” conference in Washington, D.C. on June 24, the former president proclaimed:

  • In 2016, I declared: I am your voice. Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.

Trump delivered a similar message earlier in June, telling an audience of enraptured supporters in Columbus, Georgia, that he was being persecuted by federal and state prosecutors. He insisted that the “deep state” was also out to get those who followed him. “In the end,” Trump complained, “they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you — and I’m just standing in their way.”

This was the usual stuff of Trumpian spectacle. In a rambling tirade delivered on Veterans Day in New Hampshire, Trump vowed to “root out…the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

Trump’s fixation on Hitlerian imagery, memes and tropes is not an accident. The orange-haired demagogue has had a longstanding fascination with Hitler. According to a 1990 Vanity Fair article, Trump’s first wife Ivana, who died last year, told her divorce attorney that the former president kept a compilation of Hitler’s speeches in a cabinet by his bed. Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender remarked on Trump’s interest in Hitler in his book on the 2020 presidential campaign, “Finally We Did Win This Election.” Bender writes that Trump told his then-chief of staff Gen. John Kelly during a 2018 trip to Europe that “Hitler did a lot of good things,” particularly for the German economy. (Trump vehemently denied Bender’s account.)

The cult-like bond between the movement leader and his most ardent followers, a bond characterized by pledges of mutual aid, threats of revenge and shared delusions of victimization, is one of the bedrock features of fascism. This was graphically illustrated by the ascent to power of the two pillars of 20th-century fascism, Hitler and Benito Mussolini, whose personal style Trump is often said to emulate.

In a rambling tirade delivered on Veterans Day in New Hampshire, Trump vowed to “root out…the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

“Mussolini put his hands on his hips, thrust his chest, jutted his lower jaw,” Jonathan Blitzer wrote in a 2016 New Yorker article that profiled the work of New York University history professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, one of the foremost authorities on fascism.

“It’s all about showing that he cannot be contained,” Ben-Ghiat told Blitzer. “It was the same with Mussolini.”

“I’ve been studying cult leaders for a hundred years’ worth of them,” said Ben-Ghiat in an appearance on Democracy Now last June. Trump “has all the signs. He is not a conventional politician of either the Democratic or Republican [Party]… He is a cult leader. And the GOP has long been…submissive to him. He put them under an authoritarian discipline, and then he made them complicit. And this is what corrupt, violent authoritarians do. They make you part of their crimes.”

As I have written before in this column, fascism is an emotionally loaded and often misapplied term. But if understood correctly, it can never be dismissed as a vestige of the past. As a form of political behavior, discourse and ideology, Trump and the MAGA movement are clearly fascist. There is no longer room for debate.

Fascism has deep roots in the United States, from the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, to the rise of the German-American Bund in the 1930s, to the ascendance of Depression-era demagogues, and, fast-forward almost a century, the election of Trump in 2016.

There’s a long-running class factor in the current of American fascism. University of London professor Sarah Churchwell’s June 2020 essay in the New York Review of Books exactly nails it when she quotes rabbi Stephen Wise: “The America of power and wealth is an America which needs fascism.”

Churchwell’s essay, fittingly titled, “American Fascism: It Has Happened Here,” offers a working definition of fascism. She notes that while fascist movements differ from nation to nation, they are united by “conspicuous features [that] are recognizably shared.” These include:

  • [N]ostalgia for a purer, mythic, often rural past; cults of tradition and cultural regeneration; paramilitary groups; the delegitimizing of political opponents and demonization of critics; the universalizing of some groups as authentically national, while dehumanizing all other groups; hostility to intellectualism and attacks on a free press; anti-modernism; fetishized patriarchal masculinity; and a distressed sense of victimhood and collective grievance. Fascist mythologies often incorporate a notion of cleansing, an exclusionary defense against racial or cultural contamination, and related eugenicist preferences for certain ‘bloodlines’ over others.

If he is reelected next year, Trump could make the January 6 coup attempt look mild. The Washington Post and Politico have reported that Trump and his allies on the extreme right hope to transform the federal government into a virtual presidential dictatorship. Trump and his allies, states Politico, are “collecting the ingredients and refining the recipe for an authoritarian regime.”

The fear is that Trump will invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to deploy the military. This vision of horror includes Trump in the Oval Office using his immense power to quash civil unrest and dismantle civil service protections for government workers in order to secure their loyalty. And all this while weaponizing the Justice Department to do his bidding.

The New York Times warns that a second Trump term will be especially dire for undocumented immigrants, with mass arrests and the construction of detention camps on a scale not seen since the racist “Operation Wetback” of the Eisenhower era. The Times also reported that Trump plans to cancel the visas of foreign students who participated in anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Fascism thrives in moments of widespread social anxiety and moral panic, when large segments of the population are persuaded that liberal democracy no longer serves their interests. We are living in such a moment now. The urgency we face cannot be understated. ...Read More
American Postal Workers Union Becomes Largest US Union to Call for Gaza

'We join the calls for an immediate cease-fire, the release of hostages, and urgently needed massive humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. The cries of humanity demand nothing less.'

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

Nov 09, 2023 - The American Postal Workers Union on Wednesday became the largest U.S. union to call for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, joining a growing labor movement mobilization against Israel's assault on the Palestinian enclave.

Leaders of the APWU, which represents more than 200,000 U.S. Postal Service employees and close to 2,000 mail workers in the private sector, said in a statement that their union is "shocked and saddened by the tragic and ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine."

"As a union that stands for equality, social justice, human and labor rights, and international solidarity, we unite with unions and people of goodwill around the world in calls for justice and peace," the APWU said. "We unreservedly condemn the Hamas violence of October 7, which killed over 1,000 Israeli civilians and saw the kidnapping of more than 200 people."

"However, Israel's response has made the prospects for peace more remote," the union added. "Over 10,000 innocent civilians, including 4,000 children, have been killed by the relentless and indiscriminate bombing campaign on Gaza. Israel has shut off the flow of food, water, fuel, and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip, a war crime. A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding every day in Gaza. Thousands more innocent civilians stand to die wholly preventable deaths."

To put an end to the bloodshed and begin confronting Gaza's appalling humanitarian crisis, APWU called on the Biden administration to "use all its power" as Israel's "primary foreign benefactor" to "help bring about peace in the region, and not use our tax dollars for more war."

"We join the calls for an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages, and urgently needed massive humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. The cries of humanity demand nothing less," concludes the union's statement, which was signed by APWU president, Mark Dimondstein, executive vice president Debby Szeredy, and secretary-treasurer Elizabeth Powell.

The APWU is one of more than a dozen U.S. labor unions that have called for a cease-fire in Gaza as the leadership of the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest union federation, remains silent on the issue—and works to suppress member organizations that are speaking out.

Labor Notes reported last week that after the Thurston-Lewis-Mason Central Labor Council in Olympia, Washington unanimously approved a resolution urging its parent federation to "publicly support an immediate cease-fire and equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis," the national AFL-CIO told council officers that the measure "goes beyond the position that the AFL-CIO has taken" and asked if they intended to "retract the resolution."

"By the end of the week, the council president yielded to the push from the national office, and posts about the resolution were taken down," according to Labor Notes.

During a meeting of the AFL-CIO executive committee last month, Dimondstein—a self-described "anti-Zionist Jew"—called for the AFL-CIO to demand a cease-fire in Gaza, The New York Times reported.

"No other labor leader in the meeting offered vocal support for his position," the Times added.

According to labor historian Jeff Schuhrke, the APWU is the first national union affiliated with the AFL-CIO to publicly endorse a cease-fire in Gaza.

On October 20, the independent United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America issued what it described as a "labor call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Palestine" and urged "all union members" to sign on.

"We, members of the American labor movement, mourn the loss of life in Israel and Palestine," reads the petition, which has been signed by 14 unions so far. "We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine and Israel, and we call on President Joe Biden and Congress to push for an immediate cease-fire and end to the siege of Gaza. We cannot bomb our way to peace. We also condemn any hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, or anyone else."

Intensifying labor demands for a cease-fire come as the Biden administration continues to respond dismissively to the proposal, which has been backed by more than 20 members of Congress, the head of the United Nations, and major human rights groups.

Speaking to members of the press on Thursday, Biden said there is currently "no possibility" of a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government, led by far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has taken the same stance against a cease-fire. The Guardian reported Thursday that Netanyahu "rejected a deal for a five-day ceasefire with Palestinian militant groups in Gaza in return for the release of some of the hostages held in the territory."

The White House said Thursday that Israel has agreed to implement four-hour daily "humanitarian pauses" in parts of northern Gaza and open a new corridor for Gazans to flee the area. Israeli forces have been accused of bombing such "safe passage" routes and firing on Gazans attempting to move through them. ...Read More
Uber, Lyft To Pay $328 Million To Settle
Wage-Theft Allegations In New York State

By Lauren Feiner

NOV 2 2023 - Uber and Lyft agreed to pay a total of $328 million to settle allegations that they unlawfully withheld wages from drivers and failed to provide mandatory paid sick leave in New York state.

The companies also agreed to ongoing changes in how they pay drivers and offer benefits in the state.

The attorney general’s office said it’s the largest wage-theft settlement it’s won.

Uber will pay $290 million and Lyft will pay $38 million. The state AG’s office said it’s the largest wage-theft settlement it’s won.

The money will go to drivers affected by the companies’ alleged practices. More than 100,000 drivers in New York could be eligible to receive the funds and benefits secured under the agreements, James’ office said. Drivers will be notified by mail, email or text about how to file a claim.

“For years, Uber and Lyft systemically cheated their drivers out of hundreds of millions of dollars in pay and benefits while they worked long hours in challenging conditions,” James said in a statement. “This settlement will ensure they finally get what they have rightfully earned and are owed under the law. My office will continue to make sure that companies operating in the so-called ‘gig economy’ do not deprive workers of their rights or undermine the laws meant to protect them.”

The settlements, which resolve multiyear investigations, reflect the companies’ latest concessions in a standoff with regulators across the country about the level of oversight they should receive and what they owe their drivers. Uber and Lyft have previously fought efforts to reclassify their workers from contractors to employees, for example, a change they said most of their workers opposed.

Uber’s settlement represents more than 3% of the $9.23 billion in revenue it generated last quarter. And Lyft’s settlement comes to nearly 4% of the $1.02 billion in revenue it reported.

The companies also agreed to ongoing changes in how they pay drivers and offer benefits in the Empire State.

The AG’s office alleged the companies incorrectly deducted charges from drivers’ wages that should have instead been charged to passengers. For example, the office said that from 2014 to 2017 Uber deducted sales taxes and Black Car Fund fees from drivers’ paychecks and misrepresented that it would do so in its terms of service. And Lyft, the AG alleged, deducted an 11.4% administrative charge that equaled the amount of the sales tax and Black Car Fund fees between 2015 and 2017.

Both companies also failed to provide paid sick leave as required under state and New York City law, James alleged. ...Read More
China Launches World’S Fastest Internet With 1.2
Terabit Per Second Link, Years Ahead Of Forecasts

Network can send the equivalent of 150 films per second, three times faster than the nearest rival in the US and two years earlier than industry forecasts. 3,000km of optical fiber links Beijing-Wuhan-Guangzhou as decade-long infrastructure plan nears completion

By Zhang Tong
South China Morning Post

Nov 14, 2023 Beijing - China has beaten a global deadline, launching the world’s first next-generation internet service – more than 10 times faster than existing major routes – two years ahead of industry predictions.
The backbone network – so called because it forms a principal data route between cities – can transmit data at 1.2 terabits (1,200 gigabits) per second between Beijing in the north, central China’s Wuhan and Guangzhou in the southern province of Guangdong.

The line, which spans more than 3,000km (1,860 miles) of optical fibre cabling, was activated in July and officially launched on Monday, after performing reliably and passing all operational tests.

The achievement – a collaboration between Tsinghua University, China Mobile, Huawei Technologies, and Cernet Corporation – smashes expert forecasts that 1 terabit per second ultra-high-speed networks would not emerge until around 2025.

Most of the world’s internet backbone networks operate at just 100 gigabits per second. Even the United States only recently completed the transition to its fifth-generation Internet2 at 400 gigabits per second.

The Beijing-Wuhan-Guangzhou connection is part of China’s Future Internet Technology Infrastructure (FITI), a project 10 years in the making and the latest version of the national China Education and Research Network (Cernet).

FITI project leader Wu Jianping from the Chinese Academy of Engineering said the superfast line was “not only a successful operation”, but also gives China the “advanced technology to build an even faster internet”.

Huawei Technologies vice-president Wang Lei told the same press conference at Tsinghua University on Monday that the network was “capable of transferring the data equivalent of 150 high-definition films in just one second”.

Tsinghua University’s Xu Mingwei compared the new internet backbone to a superfast train track that had replaced the 10 regular tracks that used to carry the same amount of data. This made it much cheaper and easier to manage, he said.

Backbone networks are pivotal to national education and research, as well as the rapidly growing need for data transfer from applications such as connected electric vehicles and mines that use industrial 5G technology.

“The FITI project is unprecedented across the world,” Wu told a work meeting in May. “It is open to society and is capable of supporting experimental trials of innovative network structures.”

He told the same meeting that FITI – which started in 2013 and is supported by the government, managed by the Education Ministry, and built with the help of Tsinghua University and 40 other universities – would be ready by the end of this year.

The new backbone network marks another advance for China, which has been concerned about its reliance on the US and Japan for routers and other components of internet technology.

All of the system’s software and hardware has been domestically produced, with the technical research team making advancements in everything from routers and switches to optical fibre connections.

Wu and his team developed their own superfast router, capable of handling more data than ever before. The team also proposed technology to aggregate multiple optical paths to increase the upper limits of data transmission. ...Read More
Digging Deeper into the Current Conjuncture:
Photo: Dion Cini. The photo is chilling in light of what transpired 26 days after it was posted. It shows a member of the militant Proud Boys standing inside the White House and wearing a mask less than a month before members of that same group helped lead the crowds that broke into the U.S. Capitol as they sought to reverse Trump’s loss on January 6, 2021.

AOC Challenger Helped Lead Encrypted Chat Group Filled With Proud Boys And Racial Slurs

The extremist Telegram channel featured neo-Nazis, Roger Stone, and ties to the Trump Family.

By Hunter Walker
and Josh Kovensky

Nov 9, 2023 -It was previously known that former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio toured the White House on December 11, 2020. However, based on the picture, Dion Cini, a far-right activist who has described himself as a member of the far-right militant group, was also on the tour.

The fact that Tarrio wasn’t the only Proud Boy to make it inside the presidential residence during the final days of Trump’s administration isn’t the only notable aspect of the photo. It was posted on Facebook by Tina Forte, a Republican House candidate whose activism has brought her in touch with Cini, Tarrio, and other extremists.

“Dion in the White House this morning,” Forte wrote when she posted the picture on Facebook on December 11.

Forte followed that caption up with two American flag emojis and a social media handle: “@officialoperationflagdrop.”

The handle was one of several Cini ran as he made it his mission to wave massive Trump banners at sporting events and other public spaces during Trump’s administration, the 2020 election, and its contentious aftermath. Forte and Cini’s ties go beyond the Facebook post. Forte helped Cini lead and administer the “OperationFlagDrop” channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram— a chat filled with Proud Boys, people who posted neo-Nazi slogans and symbols, and racial slurs.

Her involvement in the group, which has not been previously reported, occurred at the same time she was running as the Republican candidate against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), one of the country’s most high-profile House Democrats. And, Forte was not the only aspiring Republican politician who participated in the extreme encrypted chat.

A handful of longshot GOP candidates at every level of government joined in the discussion even as members of the group shared neo-Nazi symbols and Proud Boys iconography. Right-wing influencers like Roger Stone and MAGA rapper Forgiato Blow made appearances along with multiple users who shared content promoting QAnon conspiracy theories.

The Proud Boys who participated in the channel included two of the group’s most prominent leaders; Enrique Tarrio and Ethan “Rufio” Nordean. Both Tarrio and Nordean were convicted this year of seditious conspiracy for their roles in organizing the breach of the Capitol. Tarrio received a sentence of 22 years in prison, while Nordean was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The group chat provides a vivid example of how the MAGA movement is encouraging people who are comfortable with the violent fringe, and who see it as part of their base, to run for office.

The “OperationFlagDrop” Telegram channel was nominally focused on Cini and his banner displays. Those “flag drops” gained some mainstream media coverage and led Cini to proudly declare that he had been banned from Major League Baseball stadiums, two Disney theme parks, Sea World, and Sesame Place. Cini’s demonstrations were cheered on by Trump and his sons, Don Jr. and Eric. Powerful Republicans were also associated with the group chat. Stone, who was a member of the channel, dubbed Cini his “protégé.” ...Read More
Over 1,000 Protesters Shut Down Chicago Train Station to Demand Ceasefire

Protesters came from Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois to voice their demands for a ceasefire.

By Chris Walker

Nov 13, 2023 - More than a thousand demonstrators from across the Midwest gathered at the Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago on Monday to demand that the U.S. government pressure Israel into agreeing to a ceasefire in its genocidal war on Palestinians in Gaza.

The action, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, Never Again Action and others, began around 9 a.m. Central Time. More than one thousand demonstrators from several states in the Chicagoland area and beyond took part in the action, interrupting transportation plans for commuters at the station and disrupting business at the nearby Israeli consulate offices, which are in the same building as the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Demonstrators began the protest without warning, reportedly milling about the station before heading to the escalators at the designated time. The protest went on for several hours.

Protesters came from Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and all corners of Illinois, according to a JVP press release. Organizers say the demonstration is “the largest Midwest gathering of Jews in solidarity with Palestinians in U.S. history.”

Organizers sought to demonstrate that demands for a ceasefire weren’t just being made in U.S. coastal states, as evidenced by other protests in recent weeks, but in the heartland of the U.S. as well.

“As long as the people of Gaza are screaming, we need to yell louder,” artist and activist Nan Goldin said at the event.

“No one expected that such actions could occur anywhere else. But in the Midwest, where progressive Jewish communities are far smaller and separated by distance, there has been such a surge in support for a ceasefire,” JVP said in its press release.

Demonstrators sang songs and chanted slogans, including “Free, Free, Palestine,” “ceasefire now!” and more. They also held signs in support of a ceasefire, including “Jews Say Ceasefire Now,” “End Israeli Apartheid,” and “NICU Dads against Attacking NICUs,” referencing the Israeli military’s recent attacks on hospitals in Gaza.

State Sen. Robert Peters, a Democrat in the Illinois legislature who recently converted to Judaism, spoke before the demonstrators.

“How is it that disproportionately bombing the crap out of kids is gonna make you safer?” Peters asked the crowd, which erupted into cheers. Peters added that there was a need for “global solidarity” to demand “a fucking ceasefire” right now.

At around 10 a.m., organizers alerted the crowd that they could face arrest if they remained around the escalators, and that if they wanted to leave they could continue protesting in front of the building. About three-quarters of protesters did so, with dozens remaining on and around the escalator after the warning was given. Police began arresting protesters around 10:30 a.m.

Participants in the protest spoke to Truthout about what compelled them to take part.

“I came here from Milwaukee in anger, rage, and determination to demand ceasefire now,” said Jodi Melamed, co-coordinator of Jewish Voice for Peace in Milwaukee. “I want people to see that Jews say ‘no’ to the inhuman cruelty we are seeing in Gaza. I want them to know that Jews see fighting antisemitism, fighting Islamophobia, and fighting for Palestinian lives are all part of the same fight.” ...Read More
In Laos, a New Railway Signals a Future in China’s Orbit.

A New $6 Billion Rail Line Is Driving Rapid Social And Economic Changes — And Bringing China Ever Closer.

By Cai Yiwen
Sixth Tone

Just a decade ago, the land to the east of downtown Vientiane was a patchwork of lush green fields. Now, a vast, gleaming rail station looms over the landscape — and a new city is rising around it.

The countryside is now dotted with newly built warehouses, business parks, and high-rise apartment complexes — a sign of the Chinese investment that is transforming this once-sleepy Southeast Asian capital.

Laos, a remote nation of 7 million people, used to be known in the region for its mountainous scenery, Buddhist temples, and laid-back lifestyle. But that is rapidly changing as the country becomes a key partner in China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

In April, cross-border passenger services began on the Laos-China Railway: a new 1,000-kilometer rail line running from Vientiane to the southwestern city of Kunming. It is Laos’ first semi-high-speed railway, as well as the first international line connecting to China’s high-speed rail network.

Both countries have a lot riding on the project. For China, the LCR is a high-profile test case for its global infrastructure-building program. It’s designed to be the first stage of a long-planned pan-Asian rail network that will run all the way from China to Singapore, via Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia.

For Laos, the stakes are even higher. The country has long championed the LCR, believing it will help the country break out of the economic constraints imposed by its rugged terrain and lack of a natural sea border.

If things go to plan, Laos will become a central cog in an emerging Southeast Asian transport network, transforming it from a landlocked to a “land-linked” economy. The boost to trade, investment, and tourism could raise income levels in the country by over 20%, according to the World Bank.

But the $6 billion project is also hugely expensive. Though China provided most of the funding, taking a 70% stake in the railway, the cost is still daunting for Laos — a country with a gross national product of just $15.7 billion. ...Read More
Photo: Terrarium Cheong-Dam will feature an open garden area around halfway up the building

High Design: Seoul Skyscraper Creates Open-Air "Terrarium" Around Halfway Up

By Adam Williams
New Atlas

Oct 31, 2023 - ODA Architecture has revealed plans for an unusual new skyscraper named the Terrarium Cheong-Dam. The tower will allow residents to enjoy some greenery and fresh air without needing to venture down to the ground thanks to an outdoor area around its middle.

Terrarium Cheong-Dam is slated for Seoul, South Korea, and will rise to a maximum height of 200 m (656 ft). The skyscraper will feature a two-story structure at its podium that's open to the public, with a park area including a water feature, sculpture gardens and an indoor gallery space.

The most interesting part of the project though is its so-called terrarium. Bringing to mind the Unique in Quito, it will be situated a bit over halfway up the building and will be partially open to the elements, containing seating areas, bushes and trees, while offering excellent views over the city.

Inside, the tower will measure 370,000 sq ft (roughly 3,430 sq m), spread over 45 floors. This will be taken up by a mixture of office space and high-end residences. Elsewhere, it will include a membership club in the basement and some retail space at podium level.

"Seoul is another global city that's realized the importance of expanding its public realm to create a more meaningful urban environment," said ODA's Eran Chen. "For the tower's podium, we want to bring the community a space that serves as both a respite from the streetscape and an accessible connection point to the city's most desirable commercial and residential districts. We're also bringing this porous design to the building's greenery-filled terrarium, giving future tenants and residents another valuable space to engage with one another and enjoy nature."

The project recently won an architecture competition. We've no word yet on when it's due to be completed but ODA's website lists it as "in progress." ...Read More
New Journals and Books for Radical Education...
From Upton
Sinclair's 'Goose Step' to the Neoliberal University

Essays on the Ongoing Transformation of Higher Education

Paperback USD 17.00
This is a unique collection of 15 essays by two Purdue University professors who use their institution as a case-in-point study of the changing nature of the American 'multiversity.' They take a book from an earlier time, Upton Sinclair's 'The Goose-Step A Study of American Education' from 1923, which exposed the capitalist corruption of the ivory tower back then and brought it up to date with more far-reaching changes today. time. They also include, as an appendix, a 1967 essay by SDS leader Carl Davidson, who broke some of the original ground on the subject.

The Man Who Changed Colors

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

When a dockworker falls to his death under strange circumstances, investigative journalist David Gomes is on the case. His dogged pursuit of the truth puts his life in danger and upends the scrappy Cape Cod newspaper he works for.

Spend a season on the Cape with this gripping, provocative tale that delves into the
complicated relationships between Cape Verdean Americans and African Americans, Portuguese fascist gangs, and abusive shipyard working conditions. From the author of The Man Who Fell From The Sky.

“Bill Fletcher is a truth seeker and a truth teller – even when he’s writing fiction. Not unlike Bill, his character David Gomes is willing to put his life and career in peril to expose the truth. A thrilling read!” − Tavis Smiley, Broadcaster & NY TIMES Bestselling Author 

VVAW: 50 Years
of Struggle

By Alynne Romo

While most books about VVAW focus on the 1960s and 1970s, this photo-with-text book provides a look at many of actions of VVAW over five decades. Some of VVAW’s events and its stands on issues are highlighted here in stories. Others show up in the running timelines which also include relevant events around the nation or the world. Examples of events are the riots in America’s urban centers, the murders of civil rights leaders or the largely failed missions in Vietnam.

Paul Tabone: This is a must read for anyone who was in the war, who had a loved one in the war, who is interested in history in general or probably more importantly for anyone who wants to see how we repeat history over and over again given the incredible idiot and his minions that currently occupy the White House. To my fellow Viet Nam veterans I say "Welcome Home Brothers". A must read for everyone who considers them self an American. Bravo.

A China Reader

Edited by Duncan McFarland

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

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

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Taking Down
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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.

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The Kurdish Movement’s
Relationship with the Palestinian Struggle

By Elif Genc
MERIP, Summer 2020

The Palestinian and Kurdish struggles for self-determination share several common features. Both are stateless movements fighting against colonial, apartheid regimes in the Middle East and both have tortured histories of oppression and resistance.

Despite the similarities, the relationship between Kurdish and Palestinian political circles is fragmented and tense since both are composed of multiple factions with divergent political leanings, loyalties and alliances. In recent years, opportunistic interventions by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have further divided them.

The multiple factors that prevent a strong alliance between Kurdish and Palestinian communities demonstrate how political dynamics within movements and within the region can disrupt the formation of broad international solidarity networks. The various ways that different factions of the Kurdish and Palestinian movements relate to one another reflects the internal make up of those movements and highlights the contradictory rifts in ideology and practice between the different territories and parties of both Kurdistan and Palestine. Geopolitical shifts in the international arena further fuel those rifts, which the Turkish and Israeli states take full advantage of as they pursue their respective projects in the Middle East.

A History of Oppression and Disparate Solidarities

Kurds, who are spread across modern Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, have persisted in their struggle for some form of autonomy since their claims to an independent nation were ignored in the carving up of the Ottoman Empire by Britain and France following World War I. The history of state formation in the region positioned the Kurdish people as minorities within two Arab nation-states, where they suffered the dire consequences of the Iraqi and Syrian Ba’ath regimes’ Arabization policies.[1]

The brutal tactics of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in its drive to conquer territory in Syria and Iraq since 2013 has been the most recent addition to the Kurdish people’s experience of violent oppression. Many of the Kurds fighting in Rojava (the Kurdish region of northern Syria) experienced the atrocities of ISIS directly when their friends and families were targeted. The Kurdish towns in the Syrian cantons of Kobane and Afrin were destroyed and occupied first by ISIS and then by Turkey and its Syrian Arab proxies during Turkish incursions in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

The political position of Arabs as the sovereign group in this geography results in the ethnicization of animosity and shapes Kurdish public opinion on Palestinian politics.

The political position of Arabs as the sovereign group in this geography results in the ethnicization of animosity and shapes Kurdish public opinion on Palestinian politics. For instance, although the majority of Kurds culturally self-identify as Muslim, the incursions into Rojava, and particularly the sexual enslavement of Yezidi women, provoked an aversion among the Kurdish public toward the more Islamic factions of the Palestinian movement. Hamas, in particular, was lumped together with ISIS and other Islamist groups, especially when Hamas’ former leader, Khaled Mashaal, allegedly praised Turkey for conquering Syrian Kurdish territory.

The left wing of both the Palestinian and Kurdish liberation movements in fact share a history of solidarity, especially during the 1970s and 1980s when they trained together in Lebanon. It was here that the guerilla fighters of the Kurdish Worker’s Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK) received training from the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), which enabled the PKK to launch a full-scale military attack against the Turkish army in 1984.[2] The PKK also fought against the occupation of Lebanon by Israel in 1982, a history that was recently cited by Mustafa Karasu, a founding member of the PKK, in the statement he released to condemn the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the United States.[3]

Contrary to the sentiment that conflates the Palestinian movement with oppressive Arab regimes, Mustafa Karasu’s statement draws parallels between “the genocide of the Kurds in Turkey with Israeli Zionism and the apartheid regime of South Africa.”[4] He asserts: “Our attitude towards Zionism has always been ideological. Until today, we stand on the side of the Palestinians and all those who are fighting for a democratic solution in the region.”[5] In the same statement, Karasu accuses Israel of being an enabler of Turkey’s capture and imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan, the revolutionary leader of the Kurdish movement and the PKK, in 1999.

The various factions of the Palestinian liberation movement also appear quite divided in their positions on the Kurdish movement. For instance, during a visit to Turkey in April 2018, former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was quoted as praising Erdoğan for taking the Syrian town of Afrin from the Kurdish forces in Rojava, stating that “Turkey’s success in Afrin serves as a solid example” hopefully to be followed by other “victories of the Islamic ummah in a lot of places in the world.”[6]

Two months before Mashaal’s visit, however, Leila Khaled, a leading member of the PFLP, attended the Third Congress of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Ankara and gave a speech condemning the occupation of Afrin by Turkey. Greeting the audience “on behalf of the fighting Palestinian people,” Khaled said: “We also raise our voice against the war in Afrin. Wars do not promote life but lead to death. The peoples build up life and the future.”[7] In another gesture of solidarity, Leila Khaled visited Leyla Güven—an HDP member of parliament who was arrested in January 2018 for opposing the Turkish incursions into Syria—during her 2019 hunger strike.

Turkish and Israeli Government Hypocrisy Amidst an Uncertain Future

The hypocritical political positions of Erdoğan and Netanyahu have further damaged the fragile international solidarity between the Palestinian and Kurdish movements. Both leaders publicly display sympathy with the oppressed populations in the other’s country, all the while continuing their violent policies at home. Erdoğan repeatedly calls Netanyahu a “terrorist” over his inhumane policies in Gaza and against the demonstrators at the border.[8] In response, Netanyahu points to the destruction of the Kurdish towns of Cizre, Nusaybin and Sur since 2015 and a long history of Kurdish oppression, quipping that he is “not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey.”[9] Strikingly, this theatrical display of animosity between Turkey and Israel seems to end when it comes to their economic relationship, which dates back to the Cold War and currently appears to be stronger than ever.[10]

Israel is the only country that recognized and supported the Kurdish referendum in Iraq in September 2017—photographs even show Israeli flags being flown in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.[11] Israel’s camaraderie toward Kurdistan, however, seems to extend specifically to Iraqi Kurdistan whose leadership is far from revolutionary.

In stark contrast to Israeli support for the northern Iraqi leadership, Netanyahu firmly opposes the PKK that is on the frontlines of resistance to the bombing of Kurdish villages in Turkey.
In stark contrast to Israeli support for the northern Iraqi leadership, Netanyahu firmly opposes the PKK that is on the frontlines of resistance to the bombing of Kurdish villages in Turkey.[12] In fact, the alliance with Iraqi Kurdistan in particular serves Israel’s geopolitical interests in the region. Currently, up to 77 percent of Israel’s oil supplies come from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).[13]

The spectacles of public sympathy performed by the leaders of these colonizing states mainly serves two purposes: Palestinians close to Hamas turn to Erdoğan and Turkey as a Muslim ally for their cause while a sizeable Kurdish public draw closer to the Israeli government in reaction to Erdoğan’s calculated solidarity with the Palestinian cause, which positions the Kurds as disingenuous competitors with the Palestinian people for recognition of their oppression.

Since the emergence of the Rojava revolution in northern Syria in 2012, there are signs that the revolutionary factions of the Kurdish movement will align more strongly with the revolutionary tradition of Palestine. In the aftermath of the revolution, the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan reportedly declared his desire to make Rojava into today’s “Bekaa Valley,” harkening back to the time in Lebanon when internationalists came together against colonial oppression in all forms.[14]

The Kurdish liberation struggle—in its fight for emancipation from its colonial state oppressors in the Middle East—exercises a practice of realpolitik toward international solidarity. It is careful not to take any particular stance toward any nation, group or political ideology unless they are in strict opposition to the Kurdish people. It may be argued that the Kurdish movement does not have the luxury to reject any potential political dialogue. Nevertheless, this stance ultimately leads to a number of contradictory and opposing ties with various groups and parties across the entire political spectrum, from far right to radical left. Kurdish political engagement with the geopolitics of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one example. It remains to be seen how this realpolitik approach will play out in navigating the complexities of international relations and what the Kurdish freedom movement will gain, or lose, in the process.

[Elif Genc is a PhD student in politics at the New School for Social Research and an adjunct professor of politics at St. John’s University and Marymount College in New York. She is also an activist in the Kurdish women’s freedom movement in Canada and the United States.]


[1] Kamran Matin, “Liminal Lineages of the ‘Kurdish Question,’” Middle East Report 295 (Summer 2020).

[2] Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya, “The ‘Palestinian Dream’ in the Kurdish Context,” Kurdish Studies 3/1 (2015).

[3] Internationalist Commune, “Jerusalem, the Capital of Humanity,” undated.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] AA, “Eski Hamas Siyasi Büro Başkanı Meşal: Filistin, Türkiye ile birlikte daha güçlü,” April 1, 2018.

[7] ANF News, “Leila Khaled: We Also Raise our Voices for Afrin,” February 12, 2018.

[8] Euronews, “Erdogan Calls Israel ‘Terrorist’, Netanyahu Hits Back,” December 10, 2017. The Times of Israel, “Erdogan Calls Netanyahu a ‘Terrorist,’ Israel a ‘Terrorist State’ Over Gaza,” April 1, 2018.

[9] Euronews, “Erdogan Calls Israel ‘Terrorist’, Netanyahu Hits Back,” December 10, 2017.

[10] Daniel Heinrich, “Turkey and Israel: Animosity Ends When it Comes to Money,” Deutsche Welle, December 12, 2017.

[11] Lamis Andoni, “Why is Israel Supporting Kurdish Secession from Iraq?” Al-Jazeera, October 7, 2017.

[12] The Times of Israel, “Rebuffing Former Top General, Netanyahu says Kurdish PKK a Terror Group,” September 13, 2017.

[13] Haaretz, “Report: Israel Imports Three-quarters of Its Oil From Iraq’s Kurds,” August 23, 2015.

[14] Marcel Cartier “The Link Between the Palestinian and Kurdish Revolutionary Struggles,” The Region, January 4, 2018.

How to cite this article:
Elif Genc "The Kurdish Movement’s Relationship with the Palestinian Struggle," Middle East Report 295 (Summer 2020). ...Read More
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Painting: ‘Before the masquerade ball, 1922’ by Max Beckmann, a Weimar era artist branded ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis. Bavarian State Painting Collections - Modern Art Collection in the Pinakothek der Moderne Munich

History Lesson of the Week: The Weimar Years: Rise and Fall 1918-1933

By Luke Daly-Groves
History Today

Nov 11, 2023 - Who – or what – killed Weimar democracy? It’s an important question, without as obvious an answer as we might think. In The Weimar Years – the third volume in his Hitler Years series – Frank McDonough tackles the question head-on, providing convincing answers. The book also fills an unexpected gap: despite the huge general interest in the subject, finding a detailed narrative history of Weimar Germany is not easy. The historiography is saturated with works focusing on specific (albeit important) aspects of the era such as culture, economics or foreign policy, while the rise of Adolf Hitler dominates the public sphere. By simply providing a what-exactly-happened-and-when style overview, The Weimar Years is a very welcome addition.

Like the previous books in this series, The Weimar Years proceeds chronologically, each chapter focusing on a specific year, from Germany’s defeat in the First World War in 1918 to Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in 1933. We encounter the events and features that informed readers would expect from a history of Germany’s doomed interwar democracy: the useless piles of banknotes (used as wallpaper), the Kapp and Munich putsches, the secret military agreements with Russia and the street battles between Nazis and Communists. It is the most lucid overview of the Weimar Republic that I have read.

One of the reasons for this is McDonough’s engagement with recent scholarship, such as Volker Ullrich’s masterful biography, Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 (2013). This enables McDonough to challenge various myths: the assumption that Hitler dictated Mein Kampf to his fellow prisoner Rudolf Hess (in fact he typed it himself), for example, or the overstated impact of unemployment on Nazi electoral prospects and, yes, the bizarrely enduring mystery of Hitler’s testicles. Despite being diagnosed with cryptorchidism (an undescended right testicle) by the Landsberg prison doctor, in 1944 Hitler’s own doctor Erwin Giesing reported that his genitals were normal, while the Soviet autopsy in 1945 stated that his left, not right, testicle was missing.

Beyond the Nazis, McDonough expresses scepticism concerning the prevalence of female equality in Weimar Germany. He reminds readers that the Weimar Republic lasted longer than Hitler’s Third Reich, an impressive achievement for which German democrats, despite their faults, deserve to be remembered. Focusing on high policy, each Weimar cabinet is discussed in detail, election statistics are scrutinised, and many words are devoted to economics. But McDonough also includes important cultural developments such as the Bauhaus movement, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and the comparatively progressive attitudes towards sexuality, particularly in Berlin’s cabaret clubs. Such cultural insights provide a welcome break from the ‘toxic’ atmosphere of Weimar politics.

For all that, there are debatable arguments here. Students will have to look elsewhere to discover that not all historians now consider the Treaty of Versailles to have been incredibly harsh, a notion which was strongly challenged by Sally Marks in 2013. Similarly, A.J.P. Taylor – who saw Hitler as an opportunist reacting to the opportunities provided to him – would surely have raised an eyebrow at assertions concerning Hitler’s ‘blueprint’ and ‘stage-by-stage plan’ for ‘global war’.

McDonough makes no acknowledgement of even the more moderate structuralist interpretations of Hitler’s foreign policy – Martin Broszat’s argument that, while Hitler did have some aims, he was unable to decide ‘on the whether, when and how of specific measures’, for example, or Hans Mommsen’s description of Hitler’s foreign policy as ‘expansion without object’. Perhaps this is understandable: a wider readership might have been lost had the book delved into the intricacies of structure versus intention, and students should know to search for contrasting arguments anyway. It is probably not a good idea for a book of this sort to follow the advice I was once given by a colleague in a university lecture: hit the audience with some Martin Broszat!

But another reason for these omissions is that The Weimar Years is not a history of Hitler’s rise to power. The future Führer makes his first appearance 80 pages in, and for much of the book he remains, as he was at the time, on the extreme fringe of German politics. Instead, two other figures take center stage.

The first is chancellor and foreign minister Gustav Stresemann, who McDonough considers to be perhaps the only politician who could have saved German democracy. Stresemann’s remarkable achievements support this argument. His diplomatic skills inspired political compromise within the Republic, while his peaceful foreign policy vision triumphed at Locarno, sparking a new spirit of friendship towards Germany and winning him the Nobel Peace Prize three years before his death in 1929.

Then there is President Paul von Hindenburg, widely seen in the 1920s as the ‘Hero of Tannenberg’. Initially ‘non-partisan’, the old monarchist and one-time de facto military dictator soon reverted to type. From 1930 he governed in accordance with his right-wing preferences and gave little thought to the views of the elected Reichstag. But as McDonough argues, the blame does not lie with individuals alone: there were structural issues with Weimar democracy baked into its constitution, Article 48 of which enabled Hindenburg to disregard the Reichstag, while proportional representation made coalition government difficult. Issues with the system, more so than economic misery, McDonough claims, inspired Germans to vote for the Nazis. ...Read More

Mexican Farmworkers: A Class Perspective
from the Nov 8, 2023 Bulletin
Carlos Marentes has been a farm labor organizer and advocate for many decades. Currently founder and director of the Border Agricultural Workers Project, he leads efforts to organize farm workers on both sides of the US-Mexico border, especially chile pickers. He is involved in issues of poverty, economic inequality, environment and climate, and coordinates the International Collective on Migrants and Rural Workers of La Vía Campesina.

Do you come from a family rooted in farming in México or in the US?

My parents moved from an indigenous peasant community in Central México to Ciudad Juarez in the 1940s because of economic hardship. The World Bank was just beginning its “green revolution,” which introduced large-scale chemically intensive farming methods to artificially speed up food production. This destroyed the peasant economy in México. My father crossed into El Paso every day to work on a farm, and my mother to her job as a restaurant cook.

When I myself crossed into Texas to live in 1977, I saw how farm workers were exploited. Yes, conditions in agribusiness are bad everywhere — but borderland workers are the most oppressed. Why? Because there’s a huge reserve labor force waiting right across the border! Workers from México have been imported as scabs to break up attempts to organize.

That dynamic must create conflicts among Mexican workers.

There are three different categories working on farms in the US. The first is the legal workers who are already citizens. Remember that many became legal due to the 1986 amnesty and path to citizenship granted to 2.7 million undocumented immigrants. Second is the contratados or temporary contract farm workers under the H2A program. Third is the undocumented workers who entered the US without papers.

All three categories are farmworkers, but the ruling class creates divisions. Existing undocumented farmworkers see H2A workers as competitors, because the expansion of H2A visas has been combined with a harsh crackdown on the undocumented.

It was a dark moment when Cesar Chavez denounced "wetbacks" and "illegal aliens."

Back in the day, the Texas Farmworkers Union recognized that undocumented and documented workers needed to be united under one organization based on working class identity — not on identity based on legal status. It’s obvious that we need a binational strategy.

Do people in México decide to become “migrant workers?” No, migration is simply a consequence of how the agricultural industry works.

What has been the role of radicals and socialists in the farmworker movement? Unions fight for more crumbs; do we need a broader anti-capitalist vision?

Agriculture workers have a radical history, just as industrial workers do. In John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, Wobblies, members of the Industrial Workers of the World, organized migrants from Oklahoma to California. Many radicals found their way to the US, due to the persecution of revolutionaries in Europe, and they organized in farm, factory, and field.

We need to educate workers that even with a union, we might gain five cents this year, but next year the company will speed up our work, cut back our benefits, threaten our organizers. For farmworkers, even after decades of organizing, conditions have worsened. During this year’s record-breaking heat, many farmworkers were denied water, and there were deaths from heat exhaustion. The struggle must not be for five cents, but against the cruel logic of capitalism. ...Read More
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Film Review: Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court

By Nell Minow

Sept 22, 2023 - The responsibilities of the United States Supreme Court come from the Constitution. The Founding Fathers who dreamed up the checks and balances between the executive (President and Cabinet agencies), the legislative (Congress and the Senate), and judicial (federal courts) set up an intricate formula for a rock-scissors-paper system of oversight.

But the highest court’s authority is only partially based on its Constitutional role. It is the only branch that is not elected by the voters, and it must wait for questions to come to it; its jurisdiction is purely responsive. Alexander Hamilton famously called the judiciary the weakest branch of government because it “has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither force nor will, but merely judgment.”

So, what happens when that judgment comes into question? The Supreme Court’s authority is dependent on its mystique. Its home is a “marble palace” behind the Capitol building. It operates in what it might call a cocoon of confidentiality but what the rest of the world might call a lack of transparency. The oral arguments are open to the public, meaning those lucky enough to get seats in the Court to watch in person; there are no C-SPAN cameras. The Court’s decisions have often been controversial, but it is only recently that questions have been raised about its legitimacy, due to the politicization of the appointments process and exposes about conflicts of interest and abandonment of the most fundamental principles of jurisprudence.

That is the subject of Dawn Porter’s four-part series called “Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court.” The pointed subtitle lets us know that this is not the story of how the Court shaped the country, as it might have been if it was made in the 1970s.

Porter is also the director of “Trapped,” the excellent documentary about the anti-abortion laws lined up in majority-Republican states to go into effect if Roe was overturned, and the outstanding “Lady Bird Diaries,” based on the audio journal kept by the First Lady.

This film is more like a follow-up to Susan Saladoff’s “Hot Coffee,” the documentary about the decades-long project to remake the courts at the state and federal level so they would make more rulings in favor of corporations and wealthy people and fewer in favor of consumers, middle class families, and those below the poverty line. What that film made clear was that there was a very focused, very well-financed effort to influence the courts, following a series of culture-shaking Supreme Court rulings desegregating schools, formalizing the rights of criminal defendants, and basing individual privacy rights in the “penumbras” (implications) of the Constitution that led to rulings in favor of birth control, inter-racial marriage, and abortion rights.

“Deadlocked” is a straightforward, moderate depiction of the Supreme Court from that period to the present. Today’s audiences may be surprised to hear that back in the Eisenhower era, the selection process was both more and less political. More because Eisenhower quietly promised former California governor Earl Warren the Supreme Court seat as thanks for his help in the election, less because of the idea of turning a nominee’s confirmation hearings into a must-watch political battle before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The series takes us through the arrival of each justice and some of the most high-profile decisions. Many of those, like the Miranda warnings for people under arrest and the right to marry someone of a different race, are so ingrained in our culture that it is impossible to imagine they were ever at risk of being decided differently. Others continue to rankle.

Until recently, progressives had a significant advantage. By definition, conservative justices were less likely to overturn precedent. As the series shows, conservatives were disappointed with justices like David Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor, whose decisions they saw as more liberal than they expected.

Determined not to let that happen again, the Federalist Society evolved from student-run groups on just two law school campuses to a powerful nationwide organization that has played a dominant role in supporting a new generation of lawyers who were not conservative in traditional terms (supporting a strict interpretation of the Constitution and limited government) but conservative in terms that can be considered radical with new theories and abandonment of principles of interpretation of legislation and precedent that had been in place for two centuries. If you had a drinking game for every time someone in this movie talks about “shattering norms” or “abandoning precedent” or the equivalent, you would be tipsy, which may be the best way to watch the fourth episode about the chaotic, scandal-prone recent years. ...Read More
Book Review: The Black and White Southerners Who Changed the North

As autoworkers strike across the country, “Hillbilly Highway” and “Black Folk” offer two views of the search for a better life by working-class migrants in the middle of the 20th century.

By Arlie Russell Hochschild
The New York Times

Sept. 27, 2023 - Between 1900 and 1970, millions of Americans left the South for the North, West and Midwest. Max Fraser’s “Hillbilly Highway” traces the movement of about eight million of them, poor whites from the “Upper South” — states such as Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky — to industrial parts of the Midwest, cities such as Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago. In “Black Folk,” Blair LM Kelley ties the exodus of another six million or so to a moving memoir of Black family migration, as well as to the wider sweep of time from slavery to the present. Together, these two migrations have helped shape two sides of our current perilous political moment.

Fraser, a scholar of labor history at the University of Miami, corrects several misconceptions. The usual view is that Southern Black people moved north during the first half of the 20th century, but Southern whites stayed put or went west when the Dust Bowl came in the 1930s. Yet many poor white migrants left debt-burdened farms, dead-end jobs and shuttered mills and mines, and ventured north on the “hillbilly highway” to settle in poor white ghettos such as Chicago’s Uptown, Muncie’s Shedtown and Dayton’s East End. There, like Black migrants, most found better lives than those they left behind.

Fraser also challenges writers who blame poor white Southerners for the rise of the anti-union right in the North. “Transappalachian migrants were early and eager supporters of Midwestern industrial unions,” Fraser notes, “in both radical hotbeds like Detroit and provincial outposts like Muncie.” They initiated work stoppages and slowdowns with and without union leadership.
The cover of “Hillbilly Highway” shows isolated black-and-white images of various objects, including a screw, a nail, a pick, a wrench, an acoustic guitar, a tire and a pitchfork, against an off-white background. All the objects are positioned in either a vertical or horizontal orientation and organized together to form the shape of a rectangle.

And the transplanted hillbilly did not always vote conservative. When the Alabama governor George Wallace, an arch-segregationist, ran for president in 1968, only 6 percent of Chicago’s hillbilly Uptown neighborhood voted for him — a much lower proportion than the citywide average of 12 percent or the second- and third-generation European immigrant turnout of 17 percent. White blue-collar workers have since moved farther to the right, Fraser says, but hillbillies were no more or less likely to do so than other groups of white voters.

Blair LM Kelley’s “Black Folk” also has a bone to pick. When we think of “the American working class,” we think of whites, she notes. But much of that class is Black, and, compared with white laborers, a higher proportion of all Black people are part of it. Kelley, a professor of Southern studies at the University of North Carolina and the author of “Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship,” tells the poignant story of her grandfather John Dee, the son of a Georgia sharecropper. ...Read More
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