Campaigning for Democracy And Socialism
Worker Insurgency and New Organizing vs the Fascist Bloc
The cartoon to the right is satire, often thisclose to the truth. Given Mike Pompeo's attack on Randi Weingarten and Teachers' unions this week, it gives us an insight into the kind of school instruction about history and other topics that our neoconfederate right has in mind. Show up at the local school-related meetings where the far right is spewing hatred, and defend teachers, while offering an opposing narrative that is rooted in truths and facts.

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

Click Here to send a letter


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

Saturday Morning Coffee!

Started Sat Aug 13, then weekly going forward.

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

Continuing weekly, 10:30 to Noon, EDT. The Zoom link will also be available on our Facebook Page.

Meeting ID: 868 9706 5843

Let's see what happens!
Monday, Nov 28, 2022
8:00 pm EST

CCDS Peace & Solidarity Move the Money Task Force will present a Zoom webinar to address the widening "guns v. butter" trade-off.

What's War Got
to Do With It? 
Fund Human Needs
Not Pentagon Greed

We will consider military and national security state expenditures and their affect on domestic social program funding and underserved human needs. As then-President Eisenhower famously expressed it in 1953:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies...a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed...".

Emphasis will be placed on the significance of these expenditures with regard to contemporary poverty, inequity, and deprivation in the United States.  

Presentation speakers will be Sandy Eaton of CCDS and the Massachusetts Care Single-Payer Network and Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director for the Coalition of Funding Human Needs. 

There will be an opportunity at the end of the presentations for questions and answers.

Co-sponsors include: CCDS Socialist Education Project, Massachusetts Peace Action, Wisconsin Peace Action,“the Fund Health Care Not Warfare working group of Massachusetts Peace Action.” and the Online University of the Left.
A Reply to Fletcher and Leary on Ukraine

By Charles Pierce

Your publication includes this: “Please send us your letters, comments, queries, complaints, new ideas. Just keep them short and civil.” I submit the following comment.

Your Nov 18 edition includes an article by Bill Fletcher Jr & Elly Leary titled Q&A: Navigating the Left’s Ukraine Debate. One need not be a fan of crony-capitalist Russia (and I am not) to find that said article is full of error: misrepresentations, faulty analysis, and whitewash of US imperialism. Where to begin! Some specifics.

1. They treat ethnically diverse Ukraine as a country where only Ukrainian nationalists have national rights and ethnic minorities have none. Forgetting that Marxist socialists support resistance and rebellion against unjust laws and unjust social orders; they spout legalisms about a sacrosanct Ukrainian sovereignty, objectively in opposition to the self-determination rights of its ethnic minorities. Why didn’t Crimea have a right to self-determination or Donbas to autonomy within Ukraine? They circumvent the issue, objectively siding with the US, NATO, and Kyiv in opposition to the self-determination rights of those peoples.

2. They: pretend that the longstanding US interventions in Ukraine on the side of anti-Russia parties are irrelevant; propound the absurd assertion that the violent US-backed 2014 ouster of the democratically elected government was not a coup; minimize the significance of Kyiv’s subsequent and ongoing massive repression of opposition parties; and evade the Kyiv regime’s lauding, as national heroes, the Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with Nazi Germany and participated in its mass-murder war crimes.

3. They evade the fact that independent (including UN-sponsored) opinion polls, in 2008 and 2009-11, found in every instance that at least 64% of Crimeans wanted Crimea to leave Ukraine and reunite with Russia (from which it had been transferred to Ukraine in 1954 without the consent of its people and against their wishes), dismissing the 2014 reunification as a Russian “invasion” and “seizure”.

4. They falsely quote Putin as describing Ukraine as a “national fiction”. In fact, there is no such phrase nor any assertion to that effect in either Putin’s February 21 pre-invasion speech nor in his February 24 TV address. Putin does express his disapproval of the USSR having given its constituent republics the right to secede; but what he actually said in February was: “Russia accepted the new geopolitical reality after the dissolution of the USSR. We have been treating all new post-Soviet states with respect and will continue to act this way. We respect and will respect their sovereignty”. 

[LeftLinks Editor's'sNote: Do read the text of Putin here. We think you'll find Fletcher and Leary on target, but judge for yourself.]

5. They assert that US & NATO promises, that NATO and its military bases (which now include nuclear-capable missiles in Poland and Romania) would never move into former Warsaw Pact countries, were nullified by the dissolution of the USSR. But they know full well that Russia was/is internationally recognized as having succeeded to all of the rights and obligations of the USSR: treaty rights and obligations, permanent member of the UN Security Council, etc. Thusly, they engage in absurd apologetics for US-NATO betrayal of commitments (as they dismiss Russia’s valid objections to the aforementioned missiles as well as threatening NATO military exercises in the Baltic republics).

6. They blame Russia for the lack of peace negotiations, evading the fact that it is Zelenskiy who refuses to even consider negotiations (until Kyiv has conquered all lost territory which it ruled prior to 2014).

7. They make some concessions which are lacking in Fletcher’s previous Ukraine-War articles. However, they provide no source references for most of their problematic narrative. So, their misrepresentations, assuming not willfully deceitful, must result from ignorance, failure to properly investigate, and pre-existing prejudices (which I suspect result, at least in part, from their allegiances to the capital-serving and thoroughly imperialist US Democratic Party). 

Fletcher co-authored 2 previous articles in the same vein. Factual refutations of most of his and allied misrepresentations (with sources provided) were published (September 17) by Covert Action Magazine [CAM] in my article titled Ukraine War, Divided Left: “Social Patriots” and the “Anti-Imperialism of Fools”! at .
Latest News
Photo: Randi Weingarten with students at William B. Patterson Elementary School in Washington, DC. Courtesy of American Federation of Teachers

Teachers' Union Leader Hits Back After Pompeo Calls Her the 'Most Dangerous Person in the World'

'Maybe spend a minute in one of the classrooms with my members and their students and you will get a real lesson in the promise and potential of America,' said AFT president Randi Weingarten.

By Kenny Stancil
Common Dreams

Nov 22, 2022 - Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, defended the egalitarian legacy and aspirations of public education on Monday after former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused her of being "the most dangerous person in the world."

In an interview with Semafor, Pompeo said: "I tell the story often—I get asked, 'Who's the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?' The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten."

"It's not a close call," Pompeo, who worked in the Trump administration and is considered a potential Republican presidential candidate, continued. "If you ask, 'Who's the most likely to take this republic down?' It would be the teachers' unions, and the filth that they're teaching our kids, and the fact that they don't know math and reading or writing."

While the news outlet failed to push back on Pompeo's absurd claims, Weingarten took to Twitter to defend her union and the institution of public education.

Admitting that she wasn't sure whether to characterize Pompeo's remarks "as ridiculous or dangerous," Weingarten noted that he defended tyrants in various parts of the world during his tenure with the State Department.

Pompeo "was more focused on pleasing Trump than fighting for freedom, national security, and democracy," said Weingarten.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), by contrast, fights "for freedom, democracy, and an economy that works for all," Weingarten continued. "We fight for what kids and communities need: Strong public schools that are safe and welcoming, where kids learn how to think and work with others."

"And we fight against this kind of rhetoric and hate," she added. "Maybe spend a minute in one of the classrooms with my members and their students and you will get a real lesson in the promise and potential of America."

Pompeo's attack on teachers' unions and inclusive curriculum comes amid an ongoing right-wing censorship campaign and broader assault on public school students and employees.

A recent analysis by PEN America detailed how 138 school districts across 32 states have prohibited more than 1,600 titles in classrooms and libraries since July 2021. The vast majority of banned books deal with LGBTQ+ themes, address racism, contain sexual content, or are related to activism.

In addition, according to PEN America, Republican lawmakers in 42 states have introduced more than 190 bills since January 2021 that seek to limit the ability of educators and students to discuss gender, racial inequality, and other topics—including a growing number of proposals to establish so-called "tip lines" that would empower parents to discipline teachers. Nearly two dozen educational gag orders have been enacted in more than a dozen states.

In an opinion piece published before far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the state's infamous "Don't Say Gay" bill, Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent argued that the GOP's tidal wave of repressive education legislation has "an obvious purpose: to make teachers feel perpetually on thin ice, so they shy away from difficult discussions about our national past rather than risk breaking laws in ways they cannot themselves anticipate."

"But there's another, more pernicious goal driving these bills that might well succeed politically precisely because it remains largely unstated," Sargent continued. "The darker underlying premise here is that these bills are needed in the first place, because subversive elements lurk around every corner in schools, looking to pervert, indoctrinate, or psychologically torture your kids."

The "combination of... vagueness and punitive mechanisms such as rights of action and tip lines" is intentionally designed to promote self-censorship, wrote Sargent. "Precisely because teachers might fear that they can't anticipate how they might run afoul of the law—while also fearing punishment for such transgressions—they might skirt difficult subjects altogether."

He added that "calls for maximal parental choice and control in schools have been used by the right for decades as a smoke screen to sow fears and doubts about public education at its ideological foundations."

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), a former middle school principal, called Pompeo's comments about Weingarten "outrageous, dangerous, and asinine."

"Radical republicans hate education," he said, "because it cripples their lies and fear-mongering. I stand with Randi Weingarten and all teachers in the fight for our kids, our democracy, and our planet."

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) president Lee Saunders, meanwhile, said in a statement that "if Mike Pompeo really thinks Randi Weingarten is 'the most dangerous person in the world,' then he is the most clueless person in the world."

"More likely, though, this is just a stunt by a politician desperate to get attention for a longshot presidential run," said Saunders. "Either way, what a relief that a man who calls an educator a greater security threat than global dictators is no longer in charge of our diplomatic relations around the world. While Pompeo continues to bluster, Randi will keep working for safe, vibrant schools that enrich our children and strengthen our communities."

This article has been updated to include a statement from AFSCME president Lee Saunders. ...Read More
Photo: Marjorie Taylor Greene used to be an outlier in Congress. Today, very few of her positions put her at odds with the Republican Party’s base. (Emily Elconin / Getty Images)

The Disturbing World of the

The 2022 midterms saw the Republican Party complete its devolution into a party that has fully abandoned its conscience.

By John Nichols
The Nation
Nov 25, 2022 - The Republican Party that will take narrow control of the House of Representatives in January 2023 has gone through a dramatic transformation in the two years since Donald Trump and his allies attempted a violent coup to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The party that was once torn over how to respond to Trump’s assault on democratic norms is no more. It was replaced in 2022 by one that did not merely tolerate Trump’s election denialism but embraced it by nominating January 6 insurrectionists and apologists for congressional and statewide posts—a strategy so noxious that it cost Republicans key US Senate contests and the “red wave” GOP strategists were counting on.

But post-election pundits who imagine that the party will do an about-face and suddenly adopt a more politically rational course are sorely mistaken. The new Republican Party has a base—and many leaders—that does not merely fall for Trump’s lies. Republican partisans are increasingly looking beyond the scandal-plagued former president and taking inspiration from right-wing European nationalist leaders with politics rooted in a fascist sensibility that employs racism, xenophobia, and a win-at-any-cost approach to elections and governing. This transformed Republican Party will exploit its control of the House and state posts for a 2024 presidential election in which Trump and a rising generation of ruthless partisans will plot a return to unitary power—with a vision that is dramatically more authoritarian than anything seen in the 45th president’s first term.

From Semi-Fascist to the Full-on Variety

This is something Democrats need to recognize as they prepare for this next political moment. They won’t be governing with a political party that realistically compares with the very conservative yet still institutionally inclined caucuses that controlled the House on and off between 1995 and 2019. In 2022, the GOP moved past its “semi-fascist” stage and began “barreling toward full-on fascism,” says former US representative Joe Walsh, who was considered among the most right-wing members of the House after his election in the Tea Party wave of 2010.

“The country needs to understand that my former political party is fully anti-democracy. It is a fascist political party. It is a political party that embraces authoritarianism,” as evidenced by Republicans at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) celebrating European nationalists and domestic insurrectionists. “We’ve got to move on now and just defeat them.”

A lot of Republicans were defeated on November 8. But the party still won the power, via its new House majority, to derail much of President Biden’s agenda. Incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s Republicans did not gain as many seats as they might have achieved as a more conventional, institutionally inclined Grand Old Party running in a more traditional midterm election. But they succeeded in melding concerns about inflation and crime, racial backlash messaging, and a fiercely negative and immensely well-funded campaign to secure victories that should have been unimaginable. In part, this was because America’s rigid two-party system forces an either-or choice on most voters. Such a system creates a situation in which the right can exploit economic and social anxiety to attract voters who don’t necessarily agree with the whole GOP agenda but who want to—in the parlance of former Alabama governor George Wallace’s racist campaigns—“send them a message.”

The message this time is a daunting one, because the party that surfed a wave of resentment over high gas prices and post-pandemic instability is not the GOP of Ronald Reagan, the George Bushes, or Dick Cheney. None of those figures would have stood a chance in the Republican primaries of 2022. Indeed, Liz Cheney, the standard-bearer of the social and economic domestic conservatism and foreign policy neoconservatism that held sway until Trump came along, won just 28.9 percent of the vote in her Wyoming Republican primary reelection bid.

There is no question that the Republican Party began veering dangerously to the right long before the 2022 midterm election season. This is, after all, the party that welcomed Southern segregationist Strom Thurmond into its ranks during Barry Goldwater’s 1964 “extremism in the defense of liberty” presidential campaign. But as I watched the 2022 races play out in states across the country, it was clear to me, and to many other longtime observers of the GOP with whom I spoke, that it’s taken a far more dire turn. This Republican Party is proudly unapologetic about its excesses; there is an open acceptance that “we’re doing bad things and we don’t care because we think it will work politically.”

The determination that we saw in the none-too-distant past to maintain a veneer of respectability—with admittedly disingenuous efforts to push back against accusations that the party was running overtly racist, crudely xenophobic, and aggressively dishonest campaigns—has been abandoned. As has any willingness to acknowledge that particular candidates, such as the Georgia US Senate nominee Herschel Walker or the newly elected Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, are too toxic to be supported. Thus completes the GOP’s devolution into a party that has fully abandoned its conscience.

Whether the party is described as authoritarian, neofascist, or fascist, the trajectory is clear. “Trump had done everything he could to seize the laurel crown and declare himself an American Caesar,” says Sarah Churchwell, one of the great scholars of American fascism. “He hasn’t given up yet—and, what is more, neither have most of his supporters.” Even as the 2022 results pointed to dozens of races in which Trump’s interventions had saddled the GOP with weak candidates—who in many cases lost what should have been winnable seats—Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, such as House Republican Conference chair Elise Stefanik, rushed to endorse the 2024 presidential bid he announced in mid-November. And while the same pundits who imagined that Trump would be rejected by Republicans in 2015 and 2016 are now sure that Florida’s Ron DeSantis has the juice to snatch the nomination from Trump, polls still show Republicans favoring the former president by a wide margin over the governor he decries as “Ron DeSanctimonious.” The mistake the pundits are making is to imagine that most Republicans are eager to move beyond the crude hatemongering that has characterized that party since Trump banished talk of “the big tent” and started describing anti-Semitic white nationalists as “very fine people.”

Today’s Republican Party gleefully amplifies the language of its once shunned but now broadly accepted ideological mentor, Steve Bannon, the connoisseur of European fascist literature and movements. It embraces an ideology that promises not just retribution for political rivals—and for longtime targets of its vitriol, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and the liberal philanthropist George Soros—but a wholesale restructuring of federal power.

Even with a narrow majority, a Republican-controlled House will immediately stop exercising its oversight powers to get to the bottom of Trump’s coup attempt and will begin attacking the January 6 committee’s investigators and the very notion of accountability. That will be only the beginning of a campaign to make Joe Biden a lame-duck president by rejecting his policy proposals and weaponizing the budget process to deny funding to federal agencies. Outlined in a September “Dear Colleague” letter from Texas Representative Chip Roy, an emerging force within the House Republican Conference, the strategy would reject continuing resolutions in order to block “tyrannical government agencies, offices, programs, and policies that Congress regularly funds through annual appropriations bills.” The theory is that the ensuing chaos will convince voters that only a switch to full Republican power will make the wheels of government turn once more.

If and when Republicans gain control of all three branches of the federal government, they will execute their explicit mission to politicize the government along the lines Bannon has laid out. In his War Room radio show and podcast, the veteran Trump whisperer amplifies the messages of the former president’s congressional coconspirators, election deniers, and extremist rising stars, promising that his reelection in 2024 will put “4,000 shock troops” in charge of reconstructing the federal government as a battering ram for right-wing ambition.

Bannon is not alone in applying the language of fascism to the Republican Party. This is a party that now openly courts European right-wing extremists. Remember that, along with Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán, one of the stars of the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference was the Italian politician Giorgia Meloni, the leader of a party that traces its political lineage to the neofascist movement that emerged from the wreckage of Benito Mussolini’s World War II alliance with Nazi Germany. Meloni is now Italy’s prime minister, a political ascent Texas Senator Ted Cruz hailed as “spectacular.” Fox News gushes over her election as “the dawn of a new day.” ...Read More
Photo: Justice Lord gets comforted by a friend at a makeshift memorial near Club Q on November 20, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. HELEN H. RICHARDSON / MEDIANEWS GROUP / THE DENVER POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

Right-Wingers Who Stoke the War on Trans
People Have Club Q Blood on Their Hands

BY Mike Ludwig & Alana Yu-lan Price

Nov 22, 2022 - Even before police announced hate crime charges against Anderson Lee Aldrich, the 22-year-old man accused of orchestrating a massacre at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs over the weekend, it was obvious to queer and trans people that the nation’s latest mass shooting was yet another form of the anti-trans and homophobic violence that has been escalating in U.S. society, both structurally and interpersonally, as lies about our lives reach a fever pitch in the right-wing media.

The suspect, reportedly wearing tactical gear and wielding an AR-15-style semiautomatic assault rifle, chose a busy Saturday night to enter Club Q in Colorado Springs and quickly open fire, leaving at least five people dead and many more wounded. Officials said more lives would have been lost, but brave patrons managed to confront and subdue the suspect before police arrived, including a father and military veteran named Richard Fierro and another patron who turned high heels into a weapon. In a Facebook post, Club Q said the community is “devastated” by the “hate attack.”

The next day, November 20, was Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual day of mourning for those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia that is often observed as a celebration of trans life. Club Q was scheduled to celebrate trans lives and resilience with a drag brunch featuring a “variety of gender identities and performance styles,” according to a flyer posted to the club’s Facebook page. Drag brunches and Transgender Day of Remembrance are two unrelated LGBTQ traditions, but both drag shows and trans people recently have become objects of misinformation-fueled obsession among right-wing media figures. A wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation, harassment and terror has followed.

From Colorado Springs to the White House, Club Q is described as a safe space for everyone — gay, straight, trans, bi, queer, nonbinary and otherwise. The club is a beacon of freedom in a conservative part of Colorado where people can let loose and be themselves. More than a bar, Club Q is a “secondary home” for members of a tight-knit scene. Any queer who has lived in smaller cities or conservative areas knows how precious and central to the community such a place can be.

Immediately after the attack, New Mexico-based writer and artist Pascal Emmer reflected on social media about his own experience of the tight-knit queer community in Colorado Springs.

“I was a queer teenager in Colorado Springs in the late 90s,” wrote Emmer in a private post that he invited Truthout to publish quotes from. “Growing up there, the first queer community I had consisted of people much older than me. … Amidst a city that hated them, they loved and defended each other fiercely.”

Now, Club Q is the latest site of a horrific mass shooting by a young man who, like too many others before him, is widely suspected to be under the influence of conspiracy theories that bubble up from dark corners of the web before going mainstream on Fox News.

Emmer argued that the attack should be understood not as a mass shooting by a “lone wolf” with an individualized motive, but rather as a “murder carried out by an angry white man who has the backing of institutions made of thousands like him” and who is carrying out anti-trans and homophobic violence that “is structurally enacted at every level of government.” He added:

Colorado Springs is the perfect crucible for white supremacist militarism to flourish. It has four military bases, including one inside a hollowed-out mountain. It’s been headquarters to Christian fundamentalist groups since the 70s. Conversion therapy was widely practiced there until it was recently banned in CO.

The shooting came after the right-wing media obsessed about drag shows for months, with popular propagandists falsely portraying performers as a threat to children if not all of Western civilization, according to an analysis by Media Matters for America.

Club Q was hosting a drag performance the night of the attack. Aldrich would only have needed to check Club Q’s Facebook page to know that an “all ages drag brunch” was scheduled for Transgender Day of Remembrance, and it will be of no surprise if the date of the massacre were chosen in a deliberate attempt to silence and terrorize LGBTQ people who observe this day across the country.

Transgender Day of Remembrance traces its roots to November 1999, when trans women organized vigils online, in San Francisco, California, and in Boston, Massachusetts. Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman, had recently been stabbed to death in her Boston apartment. Over the next decade, grassroots celebrations of Transgender Day of Remembrance popped up in cities such as Cleveland, Ohio, and eventually spread across the world.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is now observed annually to commemorate the lives of people who died as a result of anti-trans discrimination and violence. This day of healing, vision and remembering is also called Transgender Day of Resilience, and people celebrate trans joy and the many ways queer people come together to care for each other in a world where zealots and reactionaries still want us to hide behind closed doors — or worse.

LGBTQ people are at disproportionate risk of experiencing violence and mental trauma, with homeless queer youth and Black and Brown transgender women historically facing extreme levels of violence and discrimination. At least 32 trans and gender-nonconforming people have been killed in the United States this year alone, according to human rights groups. That number may increase as we learn more about the lives lost at Club Q.

Violence will remain inseparable from queer life as long as pundits and politicians can claim with impunity that queer and trans people are somehow deceitful or simply do not exist.
Drag was an iconic and largely uncontroversial feature of LGBTQ culture just a few years ago, but nowadays videos of armed standoffs between anti-fascist activists and right-wing extremists outside of daytime, family-friendly drag shows regularly circulate online.

For this we can blame the coordinated right-wing attack on queer and trans lives — an attack waged collectively by right-wing political leaders, judges, school board members, militia members, and many others — who then disingenuously seek to deflect blame when the people who take their messaging seriously turn out to be violent gun fanatics with insecure masculinities. The politicians, pundits, social media personalities and publishers who have created the fever pitch of anti-trans rhetoric in the U.S. must be held accountable.

The attack did not occur in a vacuum. Across the U.S. and the world, mass shooters have targeted Black people, Jewish people, Muslims, immigrants and LGBTQ people after indulging in extremism and conspiracy theories online.

“America’s toxic mix of bigotry and absurdly easy access to firearms means that such events are all too common, and LGBTQ+ people, BIPOC communities, the Jewish community, and other vulnerable populations pay the price again and again for our political leadership’s failure to act,” said Kevin Jennings, CEO of Lambda Legal, in a statement after the Club Q mass shooting. ...Read More
Amazon Faces Black Friday Protests, Strikes in 40 Countries

Workers plan to stage walkouts over pay and conditions...Staff at 18 warehouses to strike in France and Germany

By Olivia Solon, Aggi Cantrill,
and Benoit Berthelot

Nov 24, 2022 - Thousands of Amazon warehouse workers across about 40 countries plan to take part in protests and walkouts to coincide with Black Friday sales, one of the busiest days of the year for online shopping.

Employees in the US, UK, India, Japan, Australia, South Africa and across Europe are demanding better wages and working conditions as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, in a campaign dubbed “Make Amazon Pay.” The campaign is being coordinated by an international coalition of trade unions, with the support of environmental and civil society groups.

“It’s time for the tech giant to cease their awful, unsafe practices immediately, respect the law and negotiate with the workers who want to make their jobs better,” said Christy Hoffman, general secretary for UNI Global Union, one of the campaign’s organizers.

Tension with workers has been a long-running issue at the e-commerce giant, which has faced complaints of unfair labor practices as well as employee activism and union drives at some facilities. In what was seen as a watershed moment, workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, voted earlier this year to join an upstart union.

“While we are not perfect in any area, if you objectively look at what Amazon is doing on these important matters you’ll see that we do take our role and our impact very seriously,” Amazon spokesman David Nieberg said. 

He cited the company’s target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and that it’s “continuing to offer competitive wages and great benefits, and inventing new ways to keep our employees safe and healthy.”

Unions in France and Germany -- CGT and Ver.di -- are spearheading the latest collective action, with coordinated strikes in 18 major warehouses, intended to disrupt shipments across key European markets.

Monika di Silvestre, head of Ver.di’s Amazon committee in Germany, said that workers were particularly concerned about the way their productivity was closely monitored by computers, with algorithms determining targets, for example for the number of packages they need to handle per hour.

“The workers are under a lot of pressure with these algorithms,” she said. “It doesn’t differentiate between workers, whether they are old or have limited mobility. Workers stay awake at night thinking only of their productivity stats.”

She called on European politicians to strengthen labor rights across the bloc. “We don’t have a right to strike around Europe -- on the European level,” she said.

In the UK, workers associated with GMB union have planned protests outside several warehouses, including Coventry.

“Amazon workers in Coventry are overworked, underpaid and they’ve had enough,” said Amanda Gearing, a senior GMB organizer, adding that “hundreds” will assemble to demand a wage increase from £10.50 an hour to £15.

Any workers who walk out during a shift could lose out on the second half of a £500 bonus that Amazon announced for UK warehouse workers last month. The final payment is contingent on staff taking “no unauthorized absence” between Nov. 22 and Dec. 24. The GMB has said linking payments to attendance could be interpreted as unlawful inducement not to strike.

In the US, protests and rallies will take place in more than 10 cities and outside an apartment block on 5th Avenue, New York, where Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a condo. Multiple rallies are also planned in India while in Japan, members of a recently created union will protest in front of the company’s national headquarters in Tokyo. In Bangladesh, garment workers in Amazon’s supply chain will march in Dhaka and Chittagong.

Some demonstrations will focus on Amazon’s environmental and social footprint, for example in Ireland where people will gather outside the company’s Dublin offices to push back against two new planned data centers in the city. In South Africa, protesters will gather near Amazon’s new offices in Cape Town, which is being developed on land that indigenous people consider to be sacred.

Some unions expressed concern about the current economic climate amid a warning from Amazon that its peak Christmas season might not be as busy as usual. The company’s decision to lay off 10,000 staff will also make wage negotiations more challenging.

Laurent Cretin, a delegate for the CFE-CGC union in France, said the company will have 880 workers in a warehouse in Chalon-sur-Saône this Christmas season, down from 1,000 before Covid, which he linked to tightening consumer spending and the transfer of activity to robotized warehouses.

“The projections are not great, we are not sure we will do as good as last year that saw a post-Covid surge,” he said. ...Read More
Digging Deeper into the Current Conjuncture:
The Toughness
of Nancy Pelosi

She helped save Obamacare and other transformative legislation, and made it clear when the nonsense had to stop.

By Amy Davidson Sorkin
The New Yorker

Nov 18, 2022 - Barack Obama probably has a lot of good stories about Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, who announced, in a speech on the floor of the chamber on Thursday, that she would not seek a leadership role in the next Congress. One of them, which Obama told in his memoir “A Promised Land,” involves a moment in early 2010 when the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—was in dire trouble on the Hill.

A version of the bill had passed the Senate with a filibuster-proof sixty votes, but House Democrats had their own version of Obamacare, and so the expectation was that the Senate would have to vote again once the differences were worked out. Then, in a surprise setback, a Republican, Scott Brown, won a special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy—so the filibuster was back. One option, which some key figures around Obama favored, was to scuttle the transformative legislation, and simply try to get sixty Senate votes for a handful of not-so-controversial improvements in health care.

The other was to attempt a feat of high-risk legislative acrobatics: get the House to pass a Senate bill that many representatives already thought was unacceptable, and then pass certain fixes through the arcane process of “reconciliation,” which allows a narrower set of measures but requires only a simple majority. Obama got on the phone with Pelosi.

“For the next fifteen minutes, I was subjected to one of Nancy’s patented stream-of-consiousness rants—on why the Senate bill was flawed, why her caucus members were so angry, and why the Senate Democrats were cowardly, shortsighted, and generally incompetent,” Obama wrote. (The rant sounds like something worth patenting, in terms of its enduring utility.) When Pelosi paused to take a breath, Obama asked, “So does that mean you’re with me?” The Speaker “impatiently” replied, “Well, that’s not even a question, Mr. President. We’ve come too far to give up now.” She added, “If we let this go, it would be rewarding the Republicans for acting so terribly, wouldn’t it? We’re not going to give them the satisfaction.” When Obama hung up, he turned to some aides who’d been waiting anxiously in the room and said, “I love that woman.”

Pelosi got Obamacare through the House by a vote of 219–212, a margin that seemed narrow at the time, given that the Democrats held more than two hundred and forty seats. It’s about the same margin that she’s had to work with in holding her caucus together for the past two years, and quite possibly more than Representative Kevin McCarthy, or whichever other Republican succeeds her, will have to deal with.

There had been an expectation, or dread, that the 2022 midterms might be something like the 2010 midterms, when the Democrats lost more than sixty seats, and after which Pelosi had to turn the Speakership over to John Boehner and embark on an eight-year sojourn as the Minority Leader, before winning it back in 2018. Instead, as the results were coming in last week, it briefly seemed plausible that the Democrats might actually hold the House, as they did the Senate. That led to speculation about whether Pelosi might decide to try to stay in the Speaker’s job after all. Pelosi, though, is known for her matchless ability to count votes. Obama’s observation about her “stream-of-consciousness” rhetoric is, in a way, deceptive, making her legendary mental catalog of what might motivate each member sound like merely untrained instinct. Politico, in summing up her career this week, spoke instead of Pelosi’s “precision.” And, as she demonstrated when she took the gavel in the early-morning hours of January 7, 2021, to keep a reconvened House from wandering off course, she can be focussed and tougher than anyone in the room when it counts, marking the place where the nonsense stops. This stream knows where it needs to flow.

Pelosi is also known for another sort of counting: she is very adept at raising money. Although Pelosi is leaving the leadership, she will stay in the House, representing San Francisco, and, presumably, continue to fund-raise. One of her aides admiringly calculated for the Washington Post that she might have raised a lifetime total of about $1.3 billion in political contributions. Perhaps that’s an accomplishment. But a fair criticism of Pelosi is that she has been a key and active player in the growth of an increasingly toxic culture of money and politics. Her reluctance to push through the House new, effective limits on stock trading by members of Congress and their families, including her own, is only one element of that culture.

As Pelosi recounted in her speech on Thursday, her political apprenticeship began with her father, Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., who was himself a House member and a mayor of Baltimore. (One of her brothers served as that city’s mayor, too.) Her speech was a collection of the sort of touchpoints that Pelosi often turns to—she quoted “The Star-Spangled Banner” and various founding documents, as well as Abraham Lincoln—and evocations of the nation’s progress. She pointed to Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, and to her own career. Pelosi also said that “the hour has come for a new generation” to lead the caucus. She is eighty-two years old. Although she did not name him, her presumed successor is Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, who is fifty-two. Jeffries is expected to be joined in the leadership by Katherine Clark, of Massachusetts, who is fifty-nine, and Pete Aguilar, of California, who is forty-three. In addition to Pelosi, they would displace Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, the House Majority Leader, who is eighty-three, and Jim Clyburn, of South Carolina, the Majority Whip, who is eighty-two. ...Read More
Gisele Fetterman, Wife of Pennsylvania Sen.-Elect John Fetterman, Blasts Right-Wing ‘Hate’ of Her And Other ‘Strong Women’

By Chelsea Cox
The Realco via CNBC.COM

The wife of U.S. Sen.-elect John Fetterman of Pennsylvania said right-wing misogyny is fueling personal attacks on her by conservative news outlets and on social media.

“The right-wing hates women,” Gisele Barreto Fetterman told The New Republic magazine in a new interview.

“They especially hate strong women, and I think that’s what you’re seeing,” said Gisele, whose Democratic husband currently is Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor.

“The fact that a spouse of a senator-elect has been attacked nonstop for the past 24 hours and everyone’s OK with it and everyone thinks it’s normal ... It’s not normal,” she said after her first day of spousal orientation on Capitol Hill.

“Since entering the Capitol for training, my inbox has been completely filled with threats and horrible things,” she told the magazine.

“And that’s because I’ve been [on a] loop on Fox News,” Gisele said.

“Hopefully it’s not like this forever ... and hopefully it’s not like this for the next young Latina or person of color or spouse who enters this space,” the Brazil-born Fetterman said.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., another woman of color who has been heavily criticized by Fox News, sympathized with Gisele Fetterman, telling The New Republic, “It’s very important that the [Democratic] party sticks up for people.”

“They haven’t done a good job in the past,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Gisele Fetterman has become her husband’s spokesperson since he suffered a stroke in May.

That medical emergency accelerated conservative attacks on John Fetterman, whose race against the Republican nominee, TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz, was among the most closely watched contests of the midterm elections.

The Senate seat at stake was becoming vacant due to the retirement of Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, at a time when the GOP was trying to regain a majority in the Senate. Oz also drew attention because of the backing he received from former President Donald Trump.

A survey by Media Matters for America, a liberal press watchdog, found that John Fetterman was mentioned on Fox News’ prime-time lineup more often than the Democratic nominees in six other competitive races combined.

Gisele Fetterman herself quickly became a target of criticism.

Fox News host Jesse Waters in an October segment of his show called her “quite calculating” and insinuated she wished to switch jobs with her husband.

Other pundits have also pushed that conspiracy theory.

The conservative media’s focus on Gisele Fetterman continued after her husband’s defeat of Oz helped Democrats maintain majority control of the Senate.

In particular, Fox News fixated on a photograph of Gisele and John Fetterman taken on their first day at the Capitol, in which the 6'9" senator-elect is standing to the far left of the frame and his right arm is largely cropped out.
While that image, posted by Gisele Fetterman on her Twitter account, was meant to be an inside joke about John Fetterman’s size, some accused her of trying to steal the limelight from him.

Fox News, in an online article about the photo, said social media “users mocked the photo for seemingly depicting Mrs. Fetterman as having achieved her fifteen minutes of fame.”

“Some insisted the photo was her leaning into the claim that she was the actual Senate candidate all along, thanks [to] her husband’s cognitive issues caused by his stroke last May,” the news outlet reported.

That article quoted several tweets from conservatives, including several from other media outlets.

John Fetterman’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC about his wife’s interview.

The U.S. Capitol Police last year investigated nearly 10,000 threats against Congress. Violent threats against lawmakers and their staff have more than doubled since 2017.

On Oct. 28, Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was brutally assaulted by an intruder in the couple’s San Francisco home. ...Read More

China: After Unrest, Foxconn Agrees to Pay Workers Willing to Leave

Workers at the Zhengzhou iPhone factory accuse the company of changing contract conditions and mixing infected individuals with non-infected ones.

By Yang Caini
Sixth Tone, China

Nov 24, 2022 - Tech giant Foxconn said it will give newly recruited employees at the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant in the central city of Zhengzhou an option to return home with severance pay after accusations over contract fraud and poor pandemic control measures led to worker unrest.

The Taiwan-headquartered company said Wednesday that those willing to leave will receive 10,000 yuan ($1,400), which workers said was proposed by them and nearly equivalent to the three-month bonus sum. The announcement, which was sent to an internal communication platform and later surfaced online, came after workers protested over pay discrepancies and the company’s COVID control measures starting at around 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Fourteen workers told Sixth Tone on Wednesday that Foxconn wasn’t paying them the salary or bonus package above the industry average that initially attracted them to the job. Foxconn had vowed to pay 30 yuan per hour along with 3,000 yuan in monthly bonuses, but workers allege that the company later changed some of the conditions and said they had to work until mid-March to receive the full bonus amount.

“I was tricked by the shady contract. They tricked me here,” said one worker in a WeChat group named “Foxconn, pay me” on Wednesday. The group, which a Sixth Tone reporter was added to, has since changed its name to “Sisters and brothers, let’s escape Foxconn.”

The Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, employs some 200,000 people and is crucial to Apple’s production of iPhones. However, the factory has been under COVID restrictions due to the recent outbreak inside the factory, affecting the usual output.

At the end of October, hundreds of workers fled the factory, some on foot, accusing the company of not properly quarantining COVID-positive workers or securing food and medicine. Foxconn then agreed to transport workers home and started a massive recruitment drive with an attractive pay package to plug the labor shortage, while local governments in the province asked cadres to help assemble iPhones.

Domestic media reported that the drive was successful in recruiting 100,000 employees, but Foxconn workers Sixth Tone spoke to said the conditions haven’t improved yet. The discrepancy in their contract, pay deduction for missing work after infection, and poor virus control measures, they said, forced them to protest starting Tuesday night, which turned violent by Wednesday afternoon.

A military veteran surnamed Liu, who didn’t participate in the protests, said that he joined the local government’s call to work for Foxconn but was disappointed soon after arriving on Nov. 13. His WeChat feed showed photos of instant food items, summer quilts being handed out despite the cold weather, and said there was also a shortage of water. 

“Here, COVID-positive patients work and live with negative ones,” Liu told Sixth Tone, referring to the chaotic virus control measures.

Another worker surnamed Sun, who joined the factory in early November, told Sixth Tone that Foxconn has stopped doing PCR tests on long-term workers to reduce the number of confirmed cases in the factory — another source of discontent that led to the protests.

In several WeChat groups, thousands of workers complained of the company’s COVID policies. One claimed that some workers had green health codes despite not doing PCR tests for a week, as the codes usually turn yellow in such cases to restrict the mobility of people.

Foxconn told domestic media outlet Yicai on Wednesday that all dormitories are sanitized according to government protocols and new employees weren’t mixed with others. However, the company didn’t say if infected individuals were in the same accommodation as non-infected ones, as claimed by the workers.

Local authorities have also not yet responded to the situation at Foxconn, though they previously intervened to reign in the chaos earlier this month.

“Don’t come unless you are really short on money. Save your life,” one worker surnamed Ma said on the video-sharing platform Kuaishou, where some workers also live-streamed Wednesday’s unrest.

Sun said he received Foxconn’s first installment of 8,000 yuan Thursday morning and is packing his things to leave Zhengzhou for the nearby city of Luoyang as soon as possible, ahead of a citywide lockdown.

“Nowhere is better than my hometown,” Sun said. “I’m happy that I’m heading home.”

But not everyone was ready to leave. Some workers Sixth Tone spoke with said that they joined Foxconn because of its lucrative salary, and they intended to stay — many didn’t have other work options.

“I only want to earn more before Lunar New Year,” said one worker who didn’t want to be named for fear of retribution. “Foxconn pays the best. If it were not for the pay, who would be willing to come here?”

Editor: Bibek Bhandari. ...Read More
Poor People's Campaign Mobilizing Low-Income
Voters in Georgia Ahead of Senate Runoff

'It ain't over yet, and every vote must be cast to count,'
said the grassroots group.

By Julia Conley
Common Dreams

Nov 24, 2022 - Economic justice advocates in Georgia are mobilizing ahead of next month's runoff U.S. Senate election in the state, working to convince low-income residents who lack access to healthcare and living wages to back Democratic Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock.

The Georgia Poor People's Campaign announced late Wednesday that it is launching a statewide canvassing, text-banking, and social media campaign to reach out to millions of Georgia voters who are low-income, calling the push their "If We Ever Needed To Vote, We Sure Do Need To Vote Now Tour."

"It ain't over yet, and every vote must be cast to count," said the group.

On Sunday, November 27, Poor People's Campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William Barber II will begin the campaign at a worship service at St. Mary's Road United Methodist Church in Columbus, Georgia, followed by a rally on Monday at Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

The campaign is launching more than a week before Georgia voters are scheduled to head to the polls on December 6 for a runoff election between Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, a former professional football player who has helped spread conspiracy theories and lies about the results of the 2020 election and supports a nationwide abortion ban—despite having allegedly pressured at least two women to get abortions in the past.

"Persons impacted by low wages, voter suppression, and denial of healthcare" will join Barber in making a "call to action" at the rally, appealing to people across the state who would be particularly harmed by Republican Party proposals like its plan to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Georgia has the fourth-highest number of people who are uninsured, with more than 1.2 million residents lacking health coverage. Nearly two million people—47% of the workforce—earn less than $15 per hour. A Georgia resident would have to work 93 hours per week on average to afford a two-bedroom apartment if they were working at the federal minimum wage.

'Carpetbagger' Charges Fly as Georgia GOP Senate
Candidate Walker's Texas Tax Break Exposed

On Wednesday, consumer advocate Ralph Nader wrote at Common Dreams that Warnock must reach out to his state's low-wealth residents in order to hold on to his Senate seat.

"Warnock has spent $20 million on TV ads charging that Walker has neither the competence nor the character to be a U.S. senator," wrote Nader. "Reaching saturation, spending more on what people have heard and seen ad infinitum generates diminishing returns and increases voter irritation. 'What else is new?' many must be wondering."

Instead, he wrote, Democrats in the state should advise voters of the economic stakes of the runoff:

  • 1. For the hundreds of thousands of low-income Georgia workers: "Go vote for a $15 federal minimum wage, it's long overdue and you've earned it."

  • 2. For many low-income workers: "Go vote for getting Medicaid from available federal funds blocked by Republican politicians."

  • 3. Vote to preserve and expand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Washington's Republicans, led by Walker backer, superrich former corporate crook Sen. Rick Scott, who wants to sunset these and other essential people-protection laws long on the books.

At the Georgia Poor People's Campaign events this coming week, "speakers will emphasize to all Georgians—especially poor and low-wealth voters—that their votes will make a difference."

The runoff follows the November 8 midterm election, in which neither Warnock nor Walker secured more than 50% of the vote.

Earlier this week, the national Poor People's Campaign also launched a text-banking push targeting Georgia voters. ...Read More
New Journals and Books for Radical Education...
Dialogue & Initiative 2022

Contested Terrains:
Elections, War
& Peace, Labor

Edited by CCDS D&I
Editorial Group

A project of the CCDS Socialist Education Project

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

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

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

By Liberation Road

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

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

Copies are available for $10 plus shipping at Changemaker.

Revolutionary Youth and the
New Working Class

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

Edited by Carl Davidson

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

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

$20 paper, $3 as an e-book at Changemaker
NOT TO BE MISSED: Short Links To Longer Reads...
Photo: Kari Lake, defeated, with Trump

MAGA Conspiracy Theorists to Demonstrate at Arizona Capitol, Demanding a 'Revote' in All State Races

By Alex Henderson 

Nov 24, 2022 - In Arizona’s 2022 midterms, statewide races did not go well for far-right MAGA election denialists, Donald Trump loyalists and promoters of the Big Lie. GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake lost to her Democratic rival Katie Hobbs; Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly was reelected, defeating Republican challenger Blake Masters.

Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem, an ally of QAnon and the Oath Keepers, lost to Democrat Adrian Fontes in a race for Arizona secretary of state. Lake, Masters and Finchem were all endorsed by Trump.

Critics of Lake and other election denialists warned that if she lost the election, she would be a sore loser and refuse to admit that she lost. And sure enough, Lake has — just as her critics predicted — refused to concede to Hobbs, making baseless election fraud claims and vowing to fight the election results in court. Meanwhile, fellow MAGA conspiracy theorist Liz Harris, who was elected to a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives on November 8, has vowed that she won’t vote on any bills unless officials agree to “hold a new election immediately.”

This Friday, November 25, a group of far-right MAGA election denialists and conspiracy theorists, including Harris, are expected to hold a demonstration at the Arizona Capitol Building in Phoenix to demand a revote for all of the midterm elections held in Arizona on November 8, according to Newsweek.

Newsweek’s Zoe Strozewski reports, “An announcement was posted on calling on attendees to meet at the Arizona Capitol on Friday morning so they can let their voices ‘be heard peacefully, prayerfully.’ The announcement also instructs Arizonians to bring signs and banners for an adjacent #AZRevote Overpass Campaign on Friday and Saturday, and provided overpass location suggestions in Maricopa County and the Tucson area.

In a video posted on Twitter on Monday, November 21, Lake claimed that Arizona residents who voted for her were “disenfranchised” and claimed, with no evidence, that the "2022 general election in Arizona was botched and broken beyond repair.”

But not all conservatives are joining Lake and Harris in their bogus election fraud claims. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and GOP activist Meghan McCain (the daughter of the late Republican Sen. John McCain and his widow Cindy McCain) are among Lake’s most scathing critics on the right and have been celebrating her defeat.

Outgoing Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a conservative Republican, is making it abundantly clear that he believes Hobbs defeated Lake fair and square. In an official statement released on November 23, Ducey said, “Today, I congratulated Governor-elect Katie Hobbs on her victory in a hard-fought race and offered my full cooperation as she prepares to assume the leadership of the State of Arizona. My administration will work to make this transition as smooth and seamless as possible. Our duty is to ensure that Arizona’s 24th Governor and her team can hit the ground running and continue our state’s incredible momentum…. The people of Arizona have spoken, their votes have been counted, and we respect their decision.”

Conservative Washington Post opinion columnist Henry Olsen, in a November 22 column, slammed the false claims of Lake, Harris and other election denialists as ludicrous and stressed that they are hurting the Republican Party and the conservative cause in their state. Olsen has been highly critical of the Biden Administration at times, but he has also been quick to call out the Big Lie as “fiction” and stress that Biden legitimately won the United States’ 2020 presidential election.

Arizona is a swing state that has seen its political landscape change considerably in recent years. Once a deep red state, Arizona was closely identified with the conservative politics of Sen. Barry Goldwater and his successor, John McCain, who had no problem being called a “Goldwater conservative” or “Goldwater Republican.” ...Read More

But in 2023, Arizona will have a Democratic governor (Hobbs), a Democratic secretary of state (Fontes) and two centrist Democratic U.S. senators: Kelly and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Kelly will remain in the Senate seat once occupied by Goldwater and later, John McCain. Arizona, in the past, went Republican in one presidential race after another; in 2020, President Joe Biden legitimately defeated Donald Trump in Arizona. ...Read More
Southern Service Workers Launch a New Union

By Stephanie Luceen
Labor Notes

Nov 22, 2022 - Hundreds of service workers from across the South gathered in Columbia, South Carolina, November 17-19 to launch the Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW), taking their fight to a new level.

The new organization grows out of the Raise Up, the Southern branch of the Fight for $15 and a Union, a movement backed by Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In addition to fast food, members work in hotels, gas stations, retail, home care, sit-down restaurants, and more.

Some of these workers have been organizing their industries for a decade with Raise Up—fighting for higher wages and better working conditions. Others have only recently joined the effort—including many who felt that the pandemic exposed how essential their work was, and how little corporations and politicians valued them.

Labor laws are ineffective for most workers, particularly Southern workers. The National Labor Relations Act excluded agricultural, domestic, and tipped workers, who have comprised a relatively large share of the Southern workforce. Southern states are more likely to have right-to-work laws and less likely to have authorized public sector bargaining rights.

For this reason, the USSW is forming itself as a union now—not waiting to be sanctioned by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Signs posted around the meeting described a union as any group of “workers coming together to use our strength in numbers to get things done together we can’t get done on our own.”

Participants at the summit voted to form the USSW; they signed membership cards. They affirmed their plan to win by any means necessary, using four strategies: uniting across employers and sectors, direct action, community unionism, and anti-racism.

A committee of workers from different chapters was involved in setting the vision and strategy for the new union, as well as planning the summit itself. This committee will help determine the leadership structure of the new union.


The new union brings together workers across employers and sectors. Yet they share similar conditions of work: low wages, irregular hours, unsafe working conditions, and a lack of respect from supervisors who treat them as disposable or subject them to racial and sexual harassment.

Worker after worker spoke on plenaries and in an open-mic speak-out about their experiences growing up in families of service workers—living in poverty and sometimes going hungry. Some left school early to help their families pay their bills.

They continue careers in low-wage service jobs, moving between employers and sectors but always facing similar poor pay and working conditions. Only by uniting can they make the structural changes necessary to break the cycle and change the work for all.


Worker-led direct action is the second key strategy. Workers have already been winning in the workplace through worker-led direct action, as part of Raise Up.

Jamila Allen works at Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers in Durham, North Carolina. She joined Raise Up in 2018, but didn’t decide to start organizing her co-workers until the pandemic, when she found out the general manager had come to work sick with Covid and hadn’t notified the staff.

Jamila and her co-workers contacted Raise Up organizers and began a petition, calling on management to implement a Covid policy. When that didn’t work, they called a one-day strike—followed by a week-long strike that finally got the attention of corporate headquarters in Kansas.

Corporate didn’t like the bad press, so Freddy’s agreed to create a Covid policy and provide a raise. When a manager failed to implement the policy, though, Jamila and Ieisha organized a third strike, getting every co-worker on board. The strike was a success, and management began to implement the new policy in 33 Freddy’s locations.


Community unionism is a third prong of the new union’s approach. Civil rights leaders Rev. Nelson Johnson and Joyce Johnson of Greensboro, North Carolina, spoke about the need to unite workplace and community struggles.

“It’s a mistake to see community and labor as separate,” Rev. Johnson said, since working conditions are intricately connected to housing, education, and health. ...Read More
Photo: Veteran Farmers Jason and Sky inside one of the high tunnels they procured with the help of USDA NRCS.BY REBECCA HADDIX/(USDA)

Black Farmers Are Rebuilding Agriculture in Coal Country

Jason Tartt saw opportunity in the terraced hillsides of his native West Virginia, both for restoring the land and for other Black farmers.

By Natalie Peart
Yes! Magazine

While most people associate West Virginia with coal mining, the hills and valleys are also suited for agriculture. And as coal production wanes, farmers are seeing growing opportunities to expand their sector.

Jason Tartt, a farmer in West Virginia, says the Mountain State is fertile territory for honey production and maple and fruit orchards in the flood plains. Tartt, who is Black, sees his role as both developing economic opportunity through farming and supporting other Black farmers in West Virginia.

Growing up in rural McDowell County (population 19,111 in 2020), Tartt remembers that it was commonplace for Black people in his community to be involved in small-scale agriculture, whether they were growing gardens or processing pork and poultry. Those practices tapered off over the years as Black people left seeking better economic prospects in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. The population overall in McDowell County has declined by more than 20% since 2010, and Black people make up just 8.5% of the local population.

As a farmer, Tartt’s goals are twofold: build a viable agricultural economy in the county and state, and attract other Black people to see West Virginia, and particularly McDowell County, as a viable place to build a life.

In the United States, Black farmers are an underrepresented group. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, 35,470 farms are Black-owned, out of more than 2 million total farms. The majority of farms in the U.S. are owned by White people. In West Virginia, only 31 of the 23,622 farms are Black-owned or -operated. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that farmers who identified as Black or Black in combination with another race accounted for just 1.4% of the United States’ approximately 3.4 million agricultural producers in an industry that generated $388.5 billion in 2017.

Coal continues to be West Virginia’s most visible industry. In 2020, West Virginia was the second largest producer of coal, after Wyoming, and accounted for 13% of total coal production in the United States. But employment in the coal industry fell 17% from 2016 to 2020, and in West Virginia, the number of industry jobs fell to 11,418 in 2020, down from a peak of more than 100,000 jobs in the 1950s.

Employment opportunities in coal mining were a draw for many Black southerners like Tartt’s family, who migrated from Alabama in the 1920s and put down roots in the Appalachian region that now stretch back four generations. As coal dwindles in West Virginia, Tartt says many people, regardless of their race, are left without much economic opportunity.

“There’s a lot of poverty, a lot of unemployment, those sorts of things,” Tartt says. “A lot of that is because the coal mining industry is gone. In addition to that, it’s almost like these people and this place have been left behind.”

This is where farming enters the picture. Tartt enlisted in the military in 1991 and worked as a U.S. Department of Defense contractor before returning to McDowell County in 2010. In his second career as a farmer, he is using his new role to help educate the local residents about what bounty lies in the flood plains and mountainous terrain. Tartt has piloted growing fruit orchards and making honey on hillsides and has plans to expand. He recently leased 335 acres to build out the hillside growing model.

Shortly after returning to West Virginia, Tartt joined the Veterans & Heroes to Agriculture program run through the state’s Department of Agriculture. The program was started with a mission to help veterans or people transitioning out of the military to enter the agricultural sector.

While in the program, he met Skye Edwards, who had learned to farm growing up on the Eastern Band of Cherokee reservation in North Carolina. Tartt and Edwards decided to start McDowell County Farms in 2013.

“[Edwards] was an older man. You know how the old-timers are, they don’t spare feelings,” Tartt says. “They just give it to you straight. He really taught me a lot: the business side of [farming], the science that goes into it. So, he gave me that kind of perspective and really helped me to appreciate what went into this creation, but also how to make the most of it.” ...Read More
From the CCDS Socialist Education Project...
A China Reader

Edited by Duncan McFarland

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

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

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

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

Edited by the CCDS
Socialist Education Project

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

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

  Click here for the Table of contents

Trump Is Trying to Intimidate Republicans Into Backing His 2024 Bid. It’s Not Working

The former president's campaign is off to a rocky start, with major donors and former allies eying the exits of Trumpworld

By Asawin Suebsaeng
and Nikki Mccann Ramirez
Rolling Stone

NOV 17, 2022 - DONALD TRUMP HAD a message for Republicans about his 2024 presidential announcement: Endorse me now, or pay later.

In the days running up to the election, Trump made a series of phone calls to GOP lawmakers and other elected officials, demanding that they endorse him before he announced he’s running — or at least right after, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversations. The president said he was tracking who endorsed him early, adding that “those who waited too long” were “not gonna like” what happens when he wins. (Trump, who lost the 2020 election, has long operated the assumption that he’ll win back the White House.) Trump also said he was keeping tabs on who jumped ship for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or other potential 2024 primary challengers, the sources say.

“He said it was ‘not a tough call’ to make and that there was one right move: endorsing him ASAP,” says one of the sources.

But Trump’s efforts to extort Republicans into supporting his third presidential campaign are not going well. He’s secured endorsements from diehard loyalists, but the party’s heavy hitters — even some who have previously been quick to stand behind him — have been hesitant to hop on board. When Trump announced his candidacy from Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday, Madison Cawthorn, the scandal-ridden outgoing representative from North Carolina, was the only member of Congress who bothered to attend.

Even some of Trump’s former official surrogates are, right now, noncommittal. Jack Kingston, a former U.S. congressman from Georgia who worked as a Trump surrogate before and during his presidency, once told Trump, “I’m with you and I’ll stick with you until the curtain comes down.” On Wednesday, asked if he is going to be Trump’s surrogate again or if he’s going to endorse Trump 2024, Kingston replied, “I am a free agent right now. Focusing on the Georgia runoff, among other things.” 

Stephen Moore, another former surrogate and adviser to Trump, was similarly noncommittal when asked about an endorsement: “Not sure yet.” He said, however, “I think if Trump will stay on message about his America First agenda and not obsess about the 2020 elections, then he can be a real force.”

And while Trump was shopping for endorsements, he was dealing with defections: Two of his major donors announced Wednesday they would no longer be backing him. Trump’s former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also appears to have cut bait, leveling a barely-veiled dig at the former president on Wednesday, tweeting that “we need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood.” 

For years, Trump’s blessing could make or break political careers within the MAGAfied Republican Party. And even through the 2022 GOP primary season, his endorsements vaulted several candidates from semi-obscurity to victory. But in the general election, many Trump-backed candidates did high-profile face plants, including gubernatorial candidates Kari Lake and Doug Mastriano, and Senate hopefuls Blake Masters and Mehmet “Dr.” Oz.

And so Trump’s “endorse-me-or-else” threats may not be landing with the same force. He’s been making them for years, repeatedly teasing that if he didn’t get his way, he would try to burn it all down on the way out the door. In recent weeks, the former president has attempted to gather salacious dirt and opposition research from several confidants, just so he can find novel ways to mess with fellow Republicans Glenn Youngkin, Virginia’s governor, and DeSantis, two potential 2024 rivals. Just before the 2022 midterm elections last week, Trump even publicly threatened to air some of that alleged dirty laundry, telling reporters he could “tell you things about [Ron] that won’t be very flattering.”

The party’s highest-profile leaders are, so far, holding off on endorsing, while signaling they welcome challengers to Trump in the primary. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Sens. Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dodged or declined to answer questions from Politico regarding their potential endorsements. Sen. John Cornyn told the publication that he’ll “support the nominee of the Republican Party, but I think there’s likely to be a competitive primary election.”

Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis, who voted against the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president in 2020 in a display of pro-Trump (and anti-democratic) sentiment, declined to say if she’d endorse him. “I don’t think that’s the right question,” she told Politico. “I think the question is ‘who is the current leader of the Republican Party.’ Oh, I know who it is: Ron DeSantis.”

Major conservative publications, including the Murdoch-owned New York Post, lauded DeSantis as the future of the party, and called for Trump to step aside as gracefully as possible. The Wall Street Journal went so far as to call Trump the GOP’s “biggest loser,” with the Post branding him “Trumpty Dumpty.” 

Many of the current legislators who rode Trump’s coattails into office or relevancy were quick to sound off their approval. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and Matt Gaetz were some of the first out of the gate. House Republican Conference Elise Stefanik wrote that she was “proud” to endorse Trump, who “has always put America First, and I look forward to supporting him so we can save America.” Following Trump’s announcement speech at Mar-a-Lago, Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted that “if President Trump continues this tone and delivers this message on a consistent basis, he will be hard to beat.”  

However, the bulk of Trump’s most enthusiastic 2024 support is coming from the sycophants who have made careers playing to the former president’s cult following. Cawthorn declared following the announcement that he will “follow [Trump] until the day I die. This man has bled for us, fought for us. I want a president who people are terrified of, who’s gonna push people out of the way.” Election denier and pillow mogul Mike Lindell, online personalities Diamond and Silk, conservative comedian Terrence K. Williams, and actor Jon Voight all pledged their continued support to the president, as well.  ...Read More
An Ecosocialist Strategy to Win the Future

To save the Earth and abolish capitalism, we need
to think seriously about how to transition — and when

By Sabrina Fernandes
Rosa Luxenburg Stiftung

[Sabrina Fernandes is an ecosocialist activist from Brazil and host of the popular Marxist YouTube channel, Tese Onze. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies.]

The world we live in today is racked by crises — economic, political, and ecological. Hundreds of millions have seen their standard of living decline and prospects for the future dim, while hundreds of millions more are dealing with droughts, floods, and other impacts of climate change, which only stand to get worse as time goes on.

As international climate negotiations stall and mainstream climate activism grows increasingly desperate, the need for a different kind of society and a political strategy to get there has never been more urgent. But what, concretely, could it look like?

Developing an effective strategy for radical political change demands a clear vision of antagonisms, alternatives, and pathways of execution. If we acknowledge that today’s many crises are common effects of the capitalist project (rather than deviations from it), to produce answers, we have to name the antagonist in a way that enables people to identify the source of the problem and stand in opposition to it. This is not easy, since capitalist hegemony is also tied to its ability to mask reality, foster consent, and generate fear among those who dare to question what is wrong.

Next, we have to figure out what comes after. It is not enough to oppose something without providing an alternative that is both attractive and possible. If capitalism is bad, what do we want in its place?

Many options have been proposed, including some that could potentially be worse than our current, terrestrial capitalism. If capitalism destroys the planet, how about a new age of colonial capitalism in space? Billionaires have used this vision to stoke imaginations and encourage faith in technological fixes as a way to advance their own business interests and attract more investors. Scientists and the environmental movement, on the other hand, respond by stating the obvious: there is no planet B!

Our job is to show that replacing capitalism is not enough, as replacements can be feeble and temporary. What comes next needs to address the current system’s flaws and be better in so many ways that the status quo simply will not make sense anymore. The alternative needs to make capitalism outdated, pointless, and obsolete.

Ultimately, however, we need to actually get there. The problem with the question of “how” is that it has often been perceived as a simple matter of mechanisms and tools that can be chosen from an existing arsenal. If we need to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara, we can choose between driving, taking the bus, flying, or even walking. A purely instrumental view of the “how” depoliticizes the conditions and consequences of the methods employed and prevents us from continuously evaluating the compatibility between a chosen tactic and the overall strategy.

Our tools are subject to political conditions, time and pace, supply-chain and resource availability, actor engagement, substance, as well as the possibility for detours and adjustment. This means that once we identify capitalism as the main problem and propose that the best alternative is indeed socialism, how we do it concerns not simply a choice between reform or revolution, but essentially the conditions that have to be built for a new kind of power to take over and stay there. We can’t just wish capitalism away and replace it with socialism.

Making History, Today and in the Future

When Karl Marx wrote that humans “make their own history, but … under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past”, his point was not that we must accept those circumstances or conditions as constraints, but that our job is to build different conditions for us to inherit in the future — conditions that will give us a better chance to implement elements of our strategy.

When we propose socialism as a system that will save us from capitalism, it is not enough to simply assert that socialist revolution is necessary because society will not survive without it. To those already familiar with the dire need to overthrow capitalism, these statements are nothing more than truisms used to assert our own radical positions. The reality, like it or not, is that we are nowhere close to revolutionary uprisings and the establishment of socialist alternatives on a global scale. To say so is not defeatist anticommunism, but simply acknowledging the concrete conditions we have inherited from our past.

Critically embracing our failures pushes us to deal with the temporal contradictions of socialist construction in a rapidly warming world. It makes us face time: time we have wasted, time we employ now, and time we simply do not have. If the revolution is the “emergency brake” on the Anthropocene’s fast-moving train, to use Walter Benjamin’s formulation, we also need an evacuation plan. Ecological transition is how we engage safety measures to brace for the impact of revolution and equip ourselves for disembarking onto unchartered terrain.

More than any other crisis affecting us today, the ecological crisis radically alters our sense of urgency, because it entails the collapse of the material conditions that make life possible. This crisis, like the others, is mostly produced by the capitalist system. Factors of the Great Acceleration, ranging from rising global temperatures to loss of biodiversity, are tied to the unsustainability of the current mode of production. These cannot be stopped through capitalist solutions, because capital demands more and more from nature to keep its cycle of accumulation going.

In that sense, green capitalism poses more of a threat than standard climate denialism, as it appears to acknowledge the scientific consensus around climate change, but conceals capitalism’s role in the crisis. Its misrepresentation of climate change as a problem that can be managed without drastic changes to the mode of production leads to false solutions and is thus itself a kind of denialism. Its solutions address some critical issues, but only to the extent that they are compatible with the ultimate objective of generating future profits.

  • Capitalism must end so that life can go on, yet under our current political conditions, no solution appears to be both radical as well as fast enough to confront the ecological crisis without contradiction.

Merely changing how we purchase goods will not fix the problem. Carbon offset schemes allow the big polluters to keep at it while other companies make a killing by reducing some of their emissions. Billionaire investment portfolios value geoengineering methods that are not proven on a mass scale and may have serious ethical and biological implications. We cannot simply replace how we power industry and the production of goods and services with a renewable alternative, because the resources we have on Earth are ultimately finite. We will have to adjust — both in terms of quality as well as quantity — and historically unequal distribution will have to be addressed.

Capitalism must end so that life can go on, yet under our current political conditions, no solution appears to be both radical as well as fast enough to confront the ecological crisis without contradiction. We face the immediate threats of the reorganization of far-right and fascist forces — including ecofascists – and the growing dominance of green capitalism. As we organize to fight such threats, our job is to also identify and engage with possible courses of action that can tackle many things at once.

A prevention program that can start under capitalism, as David Schwartzman argues, is of the essence. To escape the looming ecological disaster before we have the chance to establish a socialist society, we will have to implement ideas, policies, microsystems, reforms, and other socio-political arrangements that will slow the pace of the crisis while establishing the foundations for popular power that can overcome it and support a new system.

This is a question of radical sustainability. We need a strategy that operates in two different political “tides”, as I call it, so that one can account for the contradictions faced by the other. Strategy requires us to think short-, middle-, and long-term questions simultaneously, but with a flexibility that acknowledges that history is a locked-in linear sequence of events and that new contradictions arise as we make it. To lay a sustainable foundation for more radical action in the future is to build conditions that will lead to problems we are not yet ready to approach or even aware of today. They are, however, problems we desire, as they can only materialize once those that plague us today have been resolved. If our strategy is successful, our problems will not be simply about postponing the end of the world, but will engage with what we actually do on this planet for the centuries to come in the billions of years it has left.

Identifying Agency

Who can implement this strategy? Only those whose real interests lie in preserving the conditions for life on Earth while making said life worth living in a way that is inclusive and peaceful — people who need to reclaim time taken away from them by capitalist exploitation in order to extend the time of human society on Earth.

Even at the early stages, our strategy is not at risk of being enmeshed with green capitalism, because our agent of change is the majority of society exploited by this system — working-class people, migrants and refugees, indigenous groups, people with disabilities, racialized majorities, women, and marginalized LGBTQI+ people who cannot be absorbed into the very limited space capitalism offers in terms of class mobility. Our strategy requires building collective power in arrangements that demonstrate to the majority of the subaltern class that it is possible to reorganize society and that the outcomes of such restructuring are desirable.

Indeed, desirable outcomes are at the core of a successful strategy. Life needs to improve early on in the implementation of an ecosocialist programme to ensure long-term support for the socialist horizon and the possibility for rupture, especially when under external threats of repression, sanctions, and war. These threats should be expected, since our strategy will challenge pockets of capitalist hegemony from the beginning by altering how we deal with nature, and will create conditions for organized counter-hegemonic action — the closest we are to widespread socialist consciousness.

The threats will increase the more we, too, become a threat. Such threats should not, however, be used to justify more hardships than necessary nor divert too much energy from areas that improve lives right away. Being attacked limits courses of action and puts pressure on how we make decisions and what plans we develop, but attacks cannot be an excuse for taking the easy way out — namely, restricting the kinds of freedoms which are at the core of the socialist project. Our strategy will indeed prepare for war, but will seek to avoid it by laying the foundations for peace.

In sum, our strategy is for an ecological transition that will make the socialist transition possible. It transitions from a deeply unsustainable society to one where the risk of collapse will have been delayed by at least a few centuries.

Our strategy needs to set out clear priorities.

Since planetary collapse is an actual risk this century, as evaluated in the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2022, the ecological transition should occur within a short timeframe, ranging from now to 20 or 30 years in the future. Thus, assuming capitalism will be the dominant system in the next decades, the ecological transition happens mostly under it. This is not because we choose to enact the transition under capitalism, but because if it is not done immediately, there is no chance of reaching socialism due to the depletion of life-sustaining conditions. We are still on the train, after all.

The ecological transition constitutes our initial response and, if done properly, will allow us to implement the best long-term plans. Of course, once there is a rupture from capitalism to socialism, even more radical aspects of the ecological transition can be realized in what will be an ecosocialist transition with different pillars of property and power.

Since the reforms promoted by the many plans and deals of the ecological transition are not enough to actually overcome capitalism, our strategy requires strong movement building that will guarantee these reforms but also create conditions for rupture. Andre Gorz spoke of “non-reformist reforms” due to their potential to help cultivate “counter-powers”, the opposite of the reformism that alters the system by repairing it. Thus, an ecosocialist strategy requires a period of alignment between organizing and a strong ecological transition programme under capitalism so that the fruits of this organizing can ultimately break with the system and build an ecosocialist society.

Two political tides interact and build from each other to form our strategy.

One tide carries a faster transition from point A to point B, where we buy ourselves ecological time and offer glimpses into a better life while still under capitalism. The ecological transition involves a combination of transition plans and Green Deals that harness the limited power of reforms at first, with a focus on structural reforms that tackle immediate crisis, strengthen the public sector and management, encourage political participation at various levels, make informed use of campaigning and propaganda to build consciousness, empower socialist organizations to handle problems within their reach, nationalize resources, construct infrastructure that favours efficient use of such resources and more collective living, and reach across borders from a perspective of regional integration, reparations, and international solidarity.

The other tide consists of movement building, whereby we strengthen class consciousness and democratic socialist standards that build collective power for a more radical rupture targeting all the pillars of private property, profit, and accumulation, in what will be the transition from capitalism to socialism. Movement building provides agency to the ecological transition but surpasses its timing, since it builds conditions for socialist power. Once under ecosocialism, movement building is essential to consolidate popular power, as one tide envelops the other and our strategy continues to be re-evaluated and adjusted.

Going beyond the Green New Deal

The depth of the ecological crisis means that if certain conditions are not met, there is no possibility for building a socialist society — even if the working class is ready for socialism. Thus, an effective ecosocialist strategy is situated in the knowledge and materiality of the Anthropocene, but aims to shorten this era through ecological means.

This conclusion should guide conversations around the various demands for a Green New Deal (GND). Generally, a GND is a bundle of reforms, investments, and adjustments tied to mitigation and adaptation to climate change, but also to other aspects of the ecological crisis, which must be implemented within a short timeframe. GNDs must be part ofour strategy, but are not our strategy as such, as they aim at more direct public policy and are vulnerable to changes in government.

Beyond that, domestic programs of this sort also need to be coordinated through regional programs and follow a more general global orientation. The debates over a Global Green Deal set out by social movements and civil society organizations need to outline principles and offer outlets for international agreements and the strengthening of alliances. After all, the ecological transition requires strong coordinated action to achieve short- and medium-term goals, and such programs offer a great opportunity to realize projects that can be objectively evaluated.

Different versions of the Green New Deal have been introduced since the debate re-emerged in the US after 2018, some more capitalist and some more radical. Irrespective of the labels used, the advantage of integrating GND-like programs into an ecosocialist strategy is two-fold: they contain changes that can be implemented today, and they can be tools for mobilization.

The GND is sometimes framed by politicians and the media as an investment package, but in an ecosocialist strategy, it is much more than that. Investment packages are important, especially when we consider the enormous changes in infrastructure required by the climate part of the transition. Energy conversion to renewables alone will cost between 30 and 60 trillion additional US dollars between now and 2050, depending on the study. Making housing more efficient and building new comfortable and climate-friendly homes would require trillions more. Changing the transportation grid, promoting new technologies, and growing our food in an efficient, but healthy and sustainable manner will also require a lot of investment.

The Anthropocene may be characterized by human intervention, but in asymmetrical ways.

Currently, the financial sector claims it could allocate over 100 trillion dollars in assets to finance the race to net-zero emissions. But this is business-as-usual, since net zero frameworks still allow fossil capital to bank on the system and cannot work fast enough in the next three decades to prevent us from going over 2ºC, let alone 1.5ºC. The reason is simple: it looks at investment from within the capitalist paradigm, where there is a lot more diversification and conversion than actual transition into something else. ...Read More
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History Lesson of the Week:
The Failed Plot to Kill 6 Million
Germans in the Wake of WWII
Photo: Nuremburg in 1945

A new history of a group of Jewish ex-partisans who tried to even the score.

By Daniel Kraft

Nov 22, 2022 - In 1625 the British philosopher Francis Bacon defined vengeance as “a kind of wild justice.” “The more man’s nature runs to [vengeance],” he wrote, “the more ought law to weed it out.” But some types of vengeance were more acceptable than others, and Bacon clarified that “the most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy.”

Though World War II’s industrialized brutality would have been unimaginable to Bacon, and is still unimaginable to us nearly a century later, Nazi Germany’s genocidal march across Europe surely falls into the category of “those wrongs which there is no law to remedy.” The destruction of the thousand-year-old civilization of European Judaism, abetted by the support and indifference of an entire society, is a crime for which no legal system can offer adequate restitution. What forms of revenge, then—what forms of “wild justice”—are more or less “tolerable” responses?

This is no theoretical question. After the war concluded, some individuals harmed by Germans took matters into their own hands. One vengeful Polish militiaman who was barely out of his teens oversaw the murder of thousands of German civilians and prisoners of war, including as many as 800 children. As historian Dina Porat writes, “There were Greek, Ukrainian, Slovak, French, Italian, Hungarian, and other citizens who, after being freed from the camps, refused to return home until they enacted their revenge.”

But until the publication of Porat’s recent book, Nakam: The Holocaust Survivors Who Sought Full-Scale Revenge, translated from the Hebrew by Mark L. Levinson, relatively little has been written about the organized attempts of Jews to avenge the Holocaust. Nakam, whose title is the Hebrew word for vengeance, tells the story of a group of survivors and partisan fighters who remained in Europe after the war’s end, formed a clandestine group they called the Nokmim (Avengers), and, in response to the genocide of Europe’s Jews, attempted to kill 6 million German citizens—men, women, and children—by poisoning the water supplies of major German cities and by delivering arsenic-laced bread to German prisoners of war.

The story runs contrary to the still-too-prevalent notion that the Holocaust’s victims went passively to their deaths. The Avengers consisted of 50 Jews who had fought as partisans against their Nazi occupiers and who, after Germany lost the war, committed themselves to wreaking vengeance for the murders of their family and friends, and the destruction of their civilization.

The singer-songwriter Daniel Kahn has outlined this story in his song “Six Million Germans/Nakam,” and Rich Cohen’s 2000 book The Avengers: A Jewish War Story is a compelling, novelistic account of the group’s leaders and their relationships, focused on their armed resistance during the war. Porat’s Nakam, as the first book to comprehensively describe the Avengers’ postwar operations, and to analyze the voluminous, often contradictory materials portraying the group’s associations with the Zionist leaders who would soon run the state of Israel, will likely stand as the definitive book on this complex and disturbing chapter of modern Jewish history.

It is impossible to imagine entirely the trauma and despair that motivated these Avengers. After the horrors they had witnessed and endured under Germany’s genocidal occupation, they were united by a certainty that the world as a meaningful, coherent place had ended forever, as had the possibility of constructing a new life in the ashes of the old. They described themselves occasionally as zombielike creatures, no longer human, animated only by the drive for revenge. As the Avenger Poldek Wasserman, who later changed his name to Yehuda Maimon, put it: “Instead of suicide, after you arrived home and found that no one was left and the scope of the disaster was unbearable, came vengeance. Vengeance was a kind of suicide, because afterward there would certainly be no sense staying alive.”

Abba Kovner, the leader of the Avengers, a partisan commander from Lithuania who would become one of Israel’s most lauded poets, also framed the group’s plot as a suicidal response to a world that had become unlivable. He reflected, decades later: “I will not claim that our thinking was far from deranged in those days. … Maybe worse than deranged. A terrifying idea, made wholly from despair and carrying a sort of suicide within it.”

Deranged and terrifying though this idea was, the Avengers shared a total commitment to their goal of revenge. They were motivated not only by their suicidal rage, grief, and despair but also by the fear that, despite Germany’s defeat, the Holocaust was not over, and the idea that they had to act boldly in order to prevent the last vestiges of European Judaism from being wiped out forever. It is easy to assume that the Allied victory meant the end of antisemitic violence in Europe. But even after the war, as Porat writes, “gangs of former Nazis, together with criminal elements and wartime collaborators, continued killing Jews … and banded together as if their mandate had never ended.”

Many Jews returned to their hometowns only to be murdered by their erstwhile neighbors. In the Lithuanian city of Eišiškes, five survivors were killed by anonymous assailants; their bodies were placed with a handwritten note that read, “This will be the fate of all Jews left alive.” Rumors swirled throughout Europe of a clandestine German special forces organization known as the Werewolf Unit, whose mission was to continue fighting for Nazism after the war. The Avengers believed that only mass, retaliatory violence would make Europe’s violent antisemites think twice about spilling more Jewish blood.

While traveling across Europe in 1945 and 1946, often under forged documents or with the help of the Jewish Brigade of the British military, the Avengers settled on two ways to accomplish their goals. Plan A, the indiscriminate murder of 6 million Germans, involved infiltrating and poisoning the municipal water systems of major German cities. Plan B, the mass execution of SS and Gestapo veterans, took a similar shape, with a plot to deliver poisoned bread to Allied POW camps. But how to procure the necessary poison? In August 1945, Abba Kovner set sail for the Jewish community of Palestine, then under British colonial administration, to find the support the Avengers would need.

In her discussion of Kovner’s Palestine trip, Porat addresses and resolves one of the most controversial and uncertain aspects of the story: the involvement of Palestine’s Jewish political and military leaders in the Avengers’ operations. She shows that Kovner willfully misled the highest leaders of Palestine’s Jewish community, in insisting that the Avengers planned only to target war criminals. Convinced by his dishonest assurances, they supported the Avengers’ operations. With the understanding that the poison would be used to kill SS veterans, and not German civilians, the scientists Ephraim Katzir—who would later become Israel’s fourth president—and his brother Aharon provided Kovner with a quantity of arsenic sufficient to kill over 10 million people.

Despite his claims, however, Kovner intended to use this poison to fulfill the mission of killing German men, women, and children. As he reflected, years later, “I lied with a clear conscience. Not for a moment, even until now, have I had any doubt that Plan A was correct and was a necessity.” And while he was lying to the men who would soon run the state of Israel, an Avenger named Willek Shenar, a Polish Jew who was his family’s sole survivor, began working under a false identity at the water purification plant that served Nuremberg and formed a detailed plan to pump poison across the city. ...Read More

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At COP 27, Youth to Rich Nations: ‘Don’t Cop Out!’
from the Nov 23, 2022 Bulletin
My neighbor Shane moved to rural Hawaii from his home in Paradise, California, after devastating fires had burned down his home. Shane says climate change forced his relocation. Is he a “climate migrant”?
We typically reserve the term “climate migrant” for impoverished people fleeing climate horrors where climate change has left their way of life no longer tenable. But the word “migrant” itself carries distinctly negative connotations. In the United States, far too many see migrants as an invasion of army ants or some sort of pestilence.
From the days of the Chinese “yellow hordes” to Donald Trump’s fulminations against Mexican “rapists and murderers,” people in the US have been taught that migrants threaten our security. But we see Shane, a white, middle-class American citizen, as someone who simply made a sensible choice. The use of language really matters, as Gabriella Baldonado, our interviewee this week, so perceptively understands.
What can be done for potential climate migrants who see the “slow violence” of climate disaster looming? What can we do so they won’t feel forced to leave home? Two obvious steps can help: a drastic reduction in emissions from our world’s worst-polluting nations and meaningful aid that can help threatened nations withstand climate carnage.
At COP 27, the just-concluded global environmental summit, young people — the folks who’ll still be living when our planet’s crises become unbearable — demanded action on both these two fronts.
In California, the town of Paradise may have become Hell, but my neighbor had options, and no one despises him for moving to a new environment. All people around the world deserve the same consideration. Let’s listen to the common sense of our young. ...Read More

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TV Review: ‘The English’ Loses a Compelling Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer Two-Hander in Convoluted Web of Grievances

Amazon Prime Video's new Western drama, beautiful and pristine, has plenty going for it, but ultimately loses its most interesting plot in too many others.

By Caroline Framke

There’s a great show hiding inside the convoluted plots otherwise obscuring “The English.” From writer and director Hugo Blick (“Black Earth Rising”), Amazon Prime Video’s new limited series taps Emily Blunt (also an executive producer) and Chaske Spencer (“Banshee,” “Sneaky Pete”) to play Cornelia and Eli, an especially odd couple who forge an equally unlikely and unshakeable bond out in the dusty, unforgiving deserts of the American West. Together, these two characters and actors alike prove more than enough to drive the series forward — and yet, Blick continually throws more and more complications into the mix, packing the season’s six episodes with easily 10 hours worth of material.  

From her first blazing scene to her melancholy last, Blunt brings her singular combination of warmth, wry humor, and flinty determination to the role of Cornelia, an English noblewoman hellbent on seeking revenge for her dead son. As conflicted Native American Eli, Spencer ably balances her out with a monotone stoicism that belies the roiling emotions motivating him to succeed in his rapidly changing homeland, on his own terms or not at all. Every time the two of them are onscreen, I could happily sit back and let their chemistry and stories take the wheel. Every time they aren’t, though, the series inevitably loses narrative steam as it works overtime to justify the detours.  

On the one hand, if you can get the kind of supporting cast “The English” ends up with, I understand the instinct to give them all enough to do in order to show off more of their skills. As Cornelia and Eli make their way northwest, they encounter everyone from a villainous Ciaran Hinds and Toby Jones pairing, to Gary Farmer and Kimberly Clarke of “Reservation Dogs” as a nefarious couple, to Rafe Spall and Nichola McAuliffe in the kind of deliciously melodramatic roles that both clearly relished the chance to play. On the other hand, the many, many secondary characters crisscrossing Cornelia and Eli’s path simply don’t have enough time within the confines of this limited series to make huge impacts. More damning, though, is how much explanation is needed to contextualize them all, which keeps breaking up the show’s rhythm to frustrating ends.  

And so for as much promise as “The English” has, and the consistently beautiful — if strangely pristine, given the brutality constantly at hand — Western landscapes bookending every scene, “frustrating” ends up the word most fitting to describe the series at large. Typically, I’m not one to recommend that a show drag its narratives out any more than necessary, but in this case, the overlapping stories end up too ambitious for the time Blick has to tell them. Sometimes, all you really need to tell a good story are the basics. With only six episodes to unpack everything, “The English” would have been better off significantly narrowing its focus to its greatest strengths: Blunt, Spencer and the unusual ties binding their characters’ quests for justice together.  
“The English” premieres Friday, Nov. 11 on Amazon Prime Video. ...Read More

Book Review: The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order — An Instant Classic

Gary Gerstle’s economic history is essential reading for learning how we arrived at a reckoning with capitalism

By Rana Foroohar
Financial Times

It’s rare that one can use the term “instant classic” in a book review, but Gary Gerstle’s latest economic history, The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order, warrants the praise.

It puts neoliberalism, defined as a “creed that prizes free trade and the free movement of capital, goods and people,” as well as deregulation and cosmopolitanism, in a 100-year historical context, which is crucial for understanding the politics of the moment, not just in the US but globally. The book also knits together a century of very complicated economic, political, and social trends, which are often siloed but are in fact quite interrelated, creating a new and important narrative about where America has been, and where it may be going.

One of the most useful things Gerstle does for readers is to blow up the usual definitions of conservative and liberal, at least in terms of how US economic history is framed. Former Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and both Bushes were “conservative”, while their Democrat peers Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were “liberals”. And yet all of them could be described as neoliberals, in the sense that many of their economic policies were at core about unleashing (or at least not restraining) capitalism, with the underlying belief that markets would, indeed, know best.

  • Capital, as always, moved faster than goods or people

While decades of unchecked markets ultimately contributed to everything from the financial crisis, to the rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders (reflecting again the way in which neoliberalism and its discontents have blurred political categories), they were in the beginning a necessary and in many ways useful reaction to what came before. You can’t really understand the Reagan revolution, with its dismantling of unions, deregulation, and tax-slashing, without understanding FDR’s “New Deal,” and how it so dramatically expanded the power of the public sector. And so, the first section of the book tackles the 1930s to the 1970s, in which the pendulum of economic power swung towards state planning, welfare, the curbing of corporate monopolies, and stability over speculation.

The fact that a book on neoliberalism starts with Herbert Hoover, the president whose failure paved the way for Roosevelt’s success, rather than Friedrich Hayek, will throw some readers (like me). Other important works on the topic, such as Quinn Slobodian’s Globalists (2018), which Gerstle quite rightly name checks, begin with the European roots of neoliberalism in post-first world war Vienna, where economists such as Hayek and Ludwig von Mises struggled to find a way to knit a war-torn continent back together.

What they came up with as a philosophy was neoliberalism, the idea being that if capital, goods, and people could more freely move across borders, conflict would be less likely. Their ideas informed the creation of institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which have since stopped working as well as they once did, in part because the world was never quite as flat as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman would have had us believe. Capital, as always, moved faster than goods or people.

Gerstle does a particularly wonderful job of connecting the political and economic dots in that post 2000s era in the US, a complicated and fascinating time in which the sort of “techno-utopianism” exemplified by Friedman’s book The World Is Flat (2005) collided with two ill-advised wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as a Democratic party in thrall to both Wall Street and Silicon Valley, the election of the first black president, an economic crash, and a political narrative — we must save banks but not homeowners — that never quite added up to average voters.

While it’s impossible to include every scintillating detail of the time in 300 pages (I craved even more on the existential splits between the neoliberal economic policy camp exemplified by Alan Greenspan, Bob Rubin and Larry Summers, and others like former Clinton and Obama administration advisers including Robert Reich and Joe Stiglitz, who worried about where it was all leading), Gerstle gets the broad brush strokes right. Low interest rates, financialization, and Bush’s “ownership society” collided with increasing California wealth, identity politics, and creative accounting of stock options to brew up our very own version of 1929, which was quickly followed by the ugly race and class-dividing politics we have now.

Gerstle has a real genius for capturing political irony — how 1960s hippies turned into Bay Area libertarians, how increased access to credit hurt minorities most, how Democrat Jimmy Carter was a deregulator, how individual “freedom” to pursue prosperity might morph into terrible inequality and insecurity. But one such point he seems to have missed is the way in which Reagan, whom he sees as the “ideological architect” of the past half century of neoliberalism, supported industrial policy, something Gerstle either misses or doesn’t explore, and used state power in the form of things such as voluntary export agreements and anti-dumping duties to bolster American trade interests.

Of course, protectionism and neoliberalism can marry with particularly unfortunate results such as Trump, who slashed taxes even as he started a trade war with China. As Gerstle points out towards the end of the book, the former president may have been “pushing on an open door,” in the sense that globalization as we’ve known it since the 1980s started shifting after 2008, when both “producers and consumers” in various countries began “to question the pursuit of a borderless world”.

As The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order shows us, some of this reckoning is racist and xenophobic. Some of it is a necessary swinging of the economic pendulum back to a happy medium. As we wait to see where it lands, Gerstle’s history of where we’ve been is essential reading for a post-neoliberal era.

The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era by Gary Gerstle, OUP £21/$27.95, 272 pages

Rana Foroohar is the FT’s global business columnist ...Read More

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