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TBF

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Wisconsin
Current location: Tejas
Member since: Thu Jan 17, 2008, 01:44 PM
Number of posts: 31,808

About Me

The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman

Journal Archives

Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, socialists honor the victims of war and struggle for a world free of it.

“The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles." — Eugene Debs


In June 1918, Eugene Debs gave a speech that would land him in prison. Speaking in Canton, Ohio, the Socialist Party leader denounced President Woodrow Wilson and the Great War he had led the United States into.

For Debs, the mass slaughter that had raged across Europe for four bloody years was a conflict waged in the interests of capitalists, but fought by workers. In each country it was the rich who had declared war and stood to profit from it; but it was the poor who were sent to fight and die by the millions.

This, Debs told his audience, was how it had always been, as long as armies had been sent to battle one another in the name of king or country. “Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder,” he said. “The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose — especially their lives.”

Debs’s message to workers was a simple one: their enemy was not the people of Germany, the working-class soldiers they were being shipped off to murder; it was the rulers, on both sides, who ordered the troops into battle. It was the capitalists and their representatives in the American and German governments, whose wealth and power gave them control over the fates of millions ..

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/war-socialists-debs-vietnam-internationalism/

Still I Rise

Every now and then we need some inspiration -


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou

World's Greatest Democracy

This is a "democracy" in which the two likely presidential candidates, Trump and Hillary Clinton, are disliked by 60 percent of the people--and where a majority think we should have a major third party, but the Democrats and Republicans have a Super PAC-funded monopoly every bit as strong as whichever corporate giant provides horrible Internet service to your area.

Every election year, we're urged to exercise our sacred right to vote. But actions speak louder than words. The pathetically low priority given to making sure we have clean and fair elections sends a clear message that our votes don't actually count for much--which turns out to completely correct ... even when people are eligible to vote in this "democracy," it often turns out they can't--because they encounter hours-long lines at voting sites or find out they are among the hundreds of thousands who have been mysteriously purged from the voting rolls.


The world's greatest democracy? Really?
Danny Katch ~ May 26, 2016

DONALD TRUMP doesn't think much of democracy.

The man who the Republicans will nominate to be president of the United States publicly admires authoritarians like Russia's Vladimir Putin. He encourages mob violence against protesters and then offers to pay their legal fees. He and his allies have threatened critics in the media by vowing to cancel FCC licenses and changing libel law to make it easier to sue them if Trump becomes president.

Trump's message is that he's running not for the job of president as we understand it but for a new position of strongman who will disregard legal niceties to get his way. That's what makes him appealing to those who think he stands for them--and scary for those who know he doesn't.

But as frightening as he is, Trump isn't a new threat to a healthy political body, but the latest tumor--though an especially malignant one--on a corrupt, wheezing system that can only be called a "democracy" if we use ironic quotes ...

More here: https://socialistworker.org/2016/05/26/the-worlds-greatest-democracy

Against Crowdfunding

TBF note: like many of you I have donated to these "kickstarter" and "go fund me" requests, in hopes of pitching in with others to make someone's life just a little easier. But overall as a society is this the best way to handle inequality? And do we all suffer as a result of art being reduced to simply content?

Perhaps it’s fitting then that Patreon describes its affiliates as “creators” making “content,” rather than “artists” making “art.”

Art and content are not the same. Content is produced with a specific, marketable goal in mind. Patreon turns artists into content-makers whose creativity is moderated by their patrons. Patrons with more money have more clout, and the ability to withhold funding shapes what creators make.

In this sense, Patreon reproduces key elements of the old patronage model, in which the power to commission and influence artists rests in the hands of those who can pay.


Against the Crowdfunding Economy
by Keith A. Spencer 5/17/16

In the art world, as elsewhere, success is often tightly correlated with pedigree and acceptance into elite institutions. Simpsons writers are likely to be Harvard grads; musician and writer Leonard Cohen purchased his Greek artist’s retreat with his trust fund; Lena Dunham’s debt-free college education gave her the financial freedom to make her first film.

Of course most artists aren’t so lucky. And amid the increasing consumption of digital media, the conditions for success have become ever more fraught. Instant access to media — and the massive amount of free content online — makes many feel they should be able to watch, listen, or read whatever they want, whenever they want, at no cost to them.

Tech companies, in turn, rely on free content to get eyeballs on their advertisements, and make a tidy profit in the process. Hence, while Silicon Valley profits from our collective free labor, many once-remunerated artists are now paid in exposure.

<snip>

The concept of crowdfunding began with platforms like Kickstarter (the inaugural crowdsourced fundraising platform) and IndieGogo, both of which allow entrepreneurs, start-ups, and nonprofits to solicit fundraising through small online donations ...

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/crowdfunding-kickstarter-gofundme-charity-taxes/

Puerto Rico's Debt

Meanwhile, the island's 3.4 million residents face a crushing combination of economic meltdown and government dysfunction.


Puerto Rico's debt crisis: Made in the USA
Puerto Rico needs debt relief as it struggles to contain an unfolding economic and social crisis. But its creditors want to tighten the screws, explains Eric Ruder.
May 16, 2016

THIS WEEK will be a crucial one in the battle over the debt crisis strangling Puerto Rico. The U.S. Supreme Court and Congress are both wading into the political and legal clash over a multibillion-dollar debt that is, in the words of the New York Times, "not payable."

On one side stand the institutions that loaned the island nation billions of dollars because Puerto Rico's bonds paid better returns than other municipal issues and were tax-exempt for U.S. investors. These creditors, a collection of Wall Street hedge-fund managers and vulture capitalists, want to use U.S. laws and courts to force Puerto Rico to repay every last penny of its debt burden, no matter the economic and social consequences.

They are counting on the U.S. government not to grant any form of debt relief for Puerto Rico, since the commonwealth, as it is officially designated, is legally barred from filing for bankruptcy like U.S. cities. That's why some hedge funds took on even more of Puerto Rico's debt recently, figuring that they could buy it for pennies on the dollar and use their political connections and various legal levers to make a windfall.

On the other side are the people of Puerto Rico, who for the last decade have endured a steady deterioration of their economy and living conditions ...

Much more here: https://socialistworker.org/2016/05/16/puerto-ricos-debt-crisis-was-made-in-usa

The bombing of MOVE

TBF note: Anniversary article from last year -

Today marks the ... anniversary of a massive police operation in Philadelphia that culminated in the helicopter bombing of the headquarters of a radical group known as MOVE. The fire from the attack killed six adults and five children and destroyed sixty-five homes.


MOVE is a Philadelphia-based black liberation group. Founded in 1972 by a Korean War veteran named John Africa, its members hold anarchist views and also take strong stances on animal rights, the exploitative nature of American class society, and the oppression of minorities within the country and across the world. Members lived communally, sharing resources and living space.


MOVE Bombing at 30: "Barbaric" 1985 Philadelphia Police Attack Killed 11 & Burned a Neighborhood
May 13, 2015

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Today marks the 30th anniversary of a massive police operation in Philadelphia that culminated in the helicopter bombing of the headquarters of a radical group known as MOVE. The fire from the attack incinerated six adults and five children, and destroyed 65 homes. Despite two grand jury investigations and a commission finding that top officials were grossly negligent, no one from city government was criminally charged. Here is how the bombing was initially reported in Philadelphia on WCAU .

WCAU ANCHOR: I’ve just been advised that we have new videotape of the episode that apparently ended—we think ended—the MOVE situation tonight: the dropping of an incendiary device. And let’s take a careful look at this. 5:27 p.m., state police helicopter drops it. There is the explosion. As you can see, a very dramatic explosion that occurs 30 seconds and really rips into the MOVE compound. There you see the bunker, which soon will go up in flames. And that was the explosion close-up. Now, if there’s anybody there standing there, it’s obvious they couldn’t survive that explosion.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was WCAU TV, actually. We saw some video there. MOVE was a Philadelphia-based radical movement dedicated to black liberation and a back-to-nature lifestyle. It was founded by John Africa, and all its members took on the surname Africa. In 2010, Ramona Africa, the sole adult survivor of the attack, told Democracy Now! what happened as the bomb was dropped on her house ...

More here: http://www.democracynow.org/2015/5/13/move_bombing_at_30_barbaric_1985

Another article here: http://blackthen.com/the-move-bombing-a-philadelphia-based-black-liberation-group/


Free Trade

TBF note: This is a pretty good comic going into "free trade" - and be sure to go to the source to read all the frames (this is just the first one). For me it's not just fighting these agreements, though, it's thinking about how we can reallocate resources worldwide to serve people instead of profit. I pulled this off of the "Films of Action" website which is also on Facebook. If you haven't looked at this source before they have a plethora of material. Happy reading! http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/free-trade-explained-in-an-excellent-comic/

Repression in Egypt

Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, traveled to Cairo to meet with al-Sisi in April. According to press reports, Votel confirmed that the U.S. considers Egypt a "main partner" in the Middle East and praised the regime for confronting "terrorism"--even though "counterterrorism" is transparently the Egyptian government's justification for suppressing all forms of dissent.


Protesting U.S.-backed repression in Egypt
May 5, 2016

EGYPTIAN SECURITY forces are carrying out widespread raids and repression in response to growing social and political discontent, which led to the first widespread stirrings of popular protest since the military regime led by Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi came to power nearly two years ago.

As educators and members of the academic community in the United States, we feel a particular responsibility to speak out against a regime that has targeted academics and students, in addition to many others, with the financial support and political cover of our own government. This January's abduction, torture and murder of Giulio Regeni, an Italian graduate student at Cambridge University, provides a terrifying glimpse into the atmosphere of repression against all dissent that prevails under the U.S.-backed al-Sisi regime.

In the lead up to demonstrations planned for April 25, there was a wave of arrests and raids targeting well-known progressive activists, including prominent labor lawyer Haitham Mohamedain. More than 150 people were seized in the latest crackdown, joining tens of thousands of others who languish in jails, along with hundreds who have been "disappeared" by the Egyptian authorities in recent years ...

More here: https://socialistworker.org/2016/05/05/protesting-us-backed-repression-in-egypt

Against Fortress Liberalism

TBF note: We ostensibly have a rule in here about not getting into US Electoral politics, but since that rule was allowed to be broken with a piece on the virtues of incrementalism, I am providing the other side of the argument. Solidarity.

Bill Clinton’s eight-year term in the White House gave us an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and a small children’s health insurance program — but also NAFTA, the 1994 crime bill, welfare reform, the Defense of Marriage Act, financial deregulation, and a grand bargain to gut Social Security that was only thwarted by a timely sex scandal. The pragmatic, piecemeal, and irreproachably moderate achievements of Jimmy Carter are still more dispiriting. Even judged by the charitable standards of American liberalism, the forty-year balance sheet of “incremental progress” is decidedly negative.


For forty years, liberals have accepted defeat and called it “incremental progress.” Bernie Sanders offers a different way forward.
by Matt Karp 4/18/16

The primary campaign between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has produced the most direct ideological battle the Democratic Party has seen in a generation. It’s not just the policy differences that separate Sanders’s blunt social-democratic platform from Clinton’s neoliberal grab bag. The two candidates embody clashing theories of politics — alternative visions of how to achieve progressive goals within the American political system.

The Bernie Sanders model of change has all the subtlety of an index finger raised high above a debate podium. Lay out a bold, unapologetic vision of reform that speaks directly to people’s basic needs. Connect that vision to existing popular struggles, while mobilizing a broad and passionate coalition to support it (#NotMeUs). Ride this wave of democratic energy to overwhelm right-wing opposition and enact major structural reforms.

The Hillary Clinton model of change, on the other hand, begins not with policy or people but with a politician. Choose an experienced, practical leader who explicitly rejects unrealistic goals. Rally around that leader’s personal qualifications, while defending past achievements and stressing the value of party loyalty (#ImWithHer). Draw on the leader’s expertise to grind away at Congress and accumulate incremental victories that add up to significant reform.

For most of the Left, Clinton-style “incrementalism” is just a code word to disguise what is effectively a right-wing retrenchment. Nevertheless many self-identified progressives have backed Clinton’s “theory of politics” as the most realistic path to achieve Sanders’s objectives ...

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/04/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-dnc-primary-moderates/

Happy Birthday Brother Marx

May 5, 1818

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