Friday, June 14, 2019

The Erasure of the History of Collective Activism and Non-Violence in the USA

Americans have been heavily propagandized against collective action exactly because it is effective and is the particular tool of movements to leash the power of wealth. The entire history of US socialism has been erased for many people. Equally, distorted versions of the histories of the Indian independence movement and the US civil rights movement has been promulgated, ones that erase the sternness of their leadership and the sacrifices of their followers.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Tweetety tweety tweet!

“At this time, there are three main political factions in the USA: fascists, who dominate the Republican Party, conservatives, who make up the right wing of the Democratic Party, and liberals, who make up the left wing of the Democratic Party.” – https://twitter.com/RavenOnthill/status/1134080445501493248

“Let's start a Twitter campaign to get this app killed.” “@AppleSupport @Android Take this fraudulent thing down.” “Revealed: women's fertility app is funded by anti-abortion campaigners” – https://twitter.com/RavenOnthill/status/1134073682505060353

“While the Democratic leadership is waiting its moment, Trump and the Republicans are stealing everything that isn’t nailed down. Was this what we voted for in 2018?” – https://twitter.com/RavenOnthill/status/1134079247499157504

“Judge Moore blocked me. I feel a sense of accomplishment.” – https://twitter.com/RavenOnthill/status/1133606371947974656

Friday, May 17, 2019

Political Courage, the House, W. Bush, and the Mueller Report

This article includes a 1963 picture of Bernard Sanders being arrested at a protest of racial segregation in Chicago by the brutal Chicago police force, still notorious for racism. In 1963 that force was Mayor Richard J. Daley’s iron hand. Five years later, that force was to brutally assault demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. In 1963, protesting racism in Chicago took physical courage. Sanders would more likely have been treated as a race traitor than a privileged white man, possibly a Jewish race traitor.
From that day to this, Sanders has taken uncompromising political stands. After being arrested by Mayor Daley’s brutal force, I suspect that any purely political threat seemed small in comparison. He was not alone. Many activists of his generation faced brutal consequences and political ignominy for opposing racism, sexism, ableism – and they won.
Over 50 years later, the House Democrats face the question of how to respond to Donald Trump and the Mueller Report. In 1980, following the election of Reagan in an outburst of reactionary politics, the Democratic leadership decided to move to the right in the hope of attracting some of the reactionaries. The strategy worked, for a while. But the reactionaries, seeing success, continued to move to the right, impeaching President Clinton, one of the leading conservative Democrats. On the advice of William Barr, now Attorney General of the United States, President G. H. W. Bush (the first) pardoned the traitors of Iran-Contra, and the House Democrats did little in response. When W. Bush (the second) came to the Presidency, he pursued an ill-advised war in Iraq, using numerous illegal tactics and, again, the Democrats failed to act, ceding more and more to the Republicans, including, disastrously, the Supreme Court majority.
All through that time, there were explanations that this was strategy, that the Democrats would eventually fight.
Which brings us to the present day, when special counsel Robert Mueller III wrote a damning prosecutorial report on President Trump and his administration. Even what remains of the report, after redactions by Barr, is damning. Administration officials openly defy Congressional subpoenas and orders under the law. And the House Democrats, newly empowered by the 2018 election have done … what, exactly? So far, make public statements.
It is hard to see this as anything but cowardice. If the House leadership had 1/10 of the courage shown by the 1960s activists, they would be acting.
I have come to believe that one reason Sanders has such devoted supporters is courage. Equally, it seems to me one reason the Democratic Party has so little respect among the public is its seeming lack of courage. I am left wondering how much of the slow erosion of democracy in the USA is down to cowardice.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Meanwhile, in the Marketplace

Amazon’s Warehouses Are Crappy Places to Work (My sister blog, with the occasional story of life in the marketplace.)

Also, a pro-tax tweet:
The USA has been on austerity budget since the 1990s. It hasn't made us richer, or even helped us get by.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Bernie and the Racists


It seems to me that one reason so many Democrats resent Sanders is because he reminds them of what the party was, and abandoned in the 1990s, to gain votes in conservative states, especially in the South.
From the early 1990s to 2016, the Democratic Party was dominated by its conservative wing. They supported and passed a series of tight-fisted laws: the Clinton tax increase, which cost the party the House; welfare and Medicaid reform; the Clinton health plan, followed by the PPACA. At the same time, we heard racist rhetoric from the party leaders: “Sister Soljah,” “superpredators,” and so on. These reassured white racists that African-Americans would be kept from rising against their oppressors.
I wonder how much of the tight-fisted conservative policies were also covert appeals to racists. How much of the conservative faction of the Democratic Party is racist? Some, surely. Most?
Scratch economic conservatism, find racism (and sexism, but I’m writing about racism.) Policies which keep property relations as they stand, dominated by a wealthy white minority, those policies are racist, even if they do not incorporate explicit bigotry. The bigotry may be there, but it only becomes visible when attacked or when some demagogue like Donald Trump makes a direct appeal to it.
I don’t believe we can address racism without addressing disparities of wealth. Do we grant people of color full civil rights and still keep them dirt poor?
Which brings us back to Sanders. Sanders critique of class divisions is profoundly anti-racist – addressing class will, necessarily, raise up African-Americans. The objection from some African-Americans is that that is not enough, that one must first have basic rights. But Sanders stands for those as well: the young man who marched against housing discrimination in Mayor Daley’s Chicago (a very brave thing indeed), the only light-skinned man who stood with the Congressional Black Caucus when the Democratic leadership turned conservative in the 1990s, the first 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate to say “black lives matter” supports civil rights for African-Americans.
I think Sanders is so hated because, just by being who he is, he shames them. Sure, there’s other reasons. There’s people who say he cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency. I don’t agree, but I can understand that. But in the end, Sanders has stood against poverty and racism for his entire career and stands in reproach to people who have not. That is why there are so many attempts to make him out to be a racist, because if he is one, there is no need to listen to him, and his conservative opponents need not be ashamed. I regard such attacks as as valid as the attacks on Hillary Clinton as a cruel entitled masculine woman: these attacks relieve the attackers of the need to consider Clinton as a strong, competent leader, and reassure them that they need not be ashamed for their own weakness.
So let us treat Sanders with respect and listen to him. I doubt he could be elected to the Presidency and he is an old man who may lack the stamina to cope with the stresses of the office, but we should at least treat him decently. He’s been fighting the good fight for most of his life and he deserves respect for that.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Representation and Ideology

Many people decide what political ideas to believe on the basis of candidates they think represents them, but how do they know if a candidate represents them without first understanding that candidate's ideas?

It ought to be the other way around: first decide if a candidate's ideas are good for you, then decide if the candidate represents you.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Bernie Sanders: Right About Everything and Unelectable

Sanders was right about everything before every other Presidential candidate, and he can’t win
  In 1962, the college-age Bernie Sanders was arrested by the Chicago police, protesting racism. He continued his activism throughout the 1960s. He was also an antiwar activist.
• In 1981, he was demonstrating with Vermont NOW pro-choicers.
  In 1987, when he was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders was explaining the dangers of climate change and environmental degradation to schoolchildren.
  Throughout the 1990s, Bernie Sanders, as a member of the US House of Representatives, was a reliable ally of the Congressional Black Caucus, sometimes the only light-skinned. Representative who stood with them.
  In 1995 he defended gay and lesbian service members on the House floor.
Yet Bernie could not be a national political leader for many years; there was no faction in either major party he could lead. There has been no Democratic left since the loss of the Presidency to Reagan in 1980. Since that time, elections have been increasingly dominated by wealthy donors and candidates who cater to them. The abandonment of anti-fascist media law and regulation under Reagan, the general commercialization of news, and the emergence of the major right-wing propaganda network Fox News made it impossible to be a major leftist leader within either major party. It took the crash of 2008 and the failed response to it to create the conditions that put Sanders in a position to lead a major Democratic faction.
But Sanders ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016, and many women are convinced he cost her the election. On top of which he is a light-skinned secular Jewish man and is therefore held to a far higher standard than a white Anglo-Saxon protestant. I remember with loathing how Sanders was painted as racist and sexist despite his long history as anything but, while Hillary Clinton, with a history of racist language and support for racist policies in the 1990s and a wobbly position on abortion, was given a pass, apparently because she was a good Methodist woman.
It remains true that the largest plurality of voters vote on representation. This is not a simple matter of voting for someone like themselves. A majority of white women, for instance, find Donald Trump representative of them. (I can only wonder why he doesn’t remind them of every harasser and rapist.) This is an impediment to the choice of good leaders. Instead, we get people who can persuade the public that they represent the public – affinity scams on the broadest scale. William Clinton “felt their pain” until he was in office, then delivered more pain.
And sometimes, usually desperate times, a great leader slips through the haze of self-regard. We get a Washington, a Lincoln, an FDR. But there are no guarantees. Sanders’ time, I think, has passed. He would, I think, have made a great Senate majority leader, if the Democratic Party had not been so conservative in his time. If elected to the Presidency, Sanders would turn 80 in office and I doubt he could survive the stresses of the office. But there seems no-one of comparable stature among the Democratic hopefuls, though I think well of Elizabeth Warren. Would that we could learn to embrace our best in their times!