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Gender: Female
Hometown: Wisconsin
Current location: Tejas
Member since: Thu Jan 17, 2008, 01:44 PM
Number of posts: 31,861

About Me

The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman

Journal Archives

What's the Plan?

This is an often asked question and many of us on the left prefer to focus on the "organize and knock it down" side while leaving the question of "what would replace it?" until after the revolution. Seth Ackerman may have a point. After all, the Paris Commune barely lasted a few months before it was destroyed by outside forces. Perhaps having some sort of adaptable plan is a better way to approach revolutionary change. Food for thought:

The Red and the Black
by Seth Ackerman
Profit is the motor of capitalism. What would it be under socialism?

Radicals have a habit of speaking in the conditional. Underlying all their talk about the changes they’d like to see in the world is the uneasy knowledge that our social system places rigid limits on how much change can be accomplished now. “After the revolution…” is the wistful, ironic preface to many a fondly expressed wish on the Left.

Why, then, are radicals so hesitant to talk about what a different system might look like? One of the oldest and most influential objections to such talk comes from Marx, with his oft-quoted scorn toward utopian “recipes” for the “cookshops of the future.” The moral of the quote, supposedly, is that a future society must emerge from the spontaneous dynamics of history, not from the isolated imaginings of some scribbler. This isn’t without some irony, since two years later Marx the scribbler wrote his own little cookshop recipe in his Critique of the Gotha Program — it involved labor tokens, storehouses of goods, and an accounting system to determine how much workers would get paid.

As it happens, Marx’s comment was a riposte to a negative review he’d received in a Paris newspaper run by devotees of the philosopher Auguste Comte, criticizing Marx for offering no concrete alternative to the social system he condemned. (That’s why, in the original quote, he asks wryly if the recipes the reviewers had hoped to see happened to be “Comtist” ones.) To grasp the context, you have to understand that like many utopian writers of the era, Comte proffered scenarios for a future society that were marked by an almost deranged grandiosity, featuring precise and fantastically detailed instructions on practically every facet of daily life. It was this obsessive kind of future-painting that Marx was really taking aim at.

< snip>

In this essay, I start from the common socialist assumption that capitalism’s central defects arise from the conflict between the pursuit of private profit and the satisfaction of human needs. Then I sketch some of the considerations that would have to be taken into account in any attempt to remedy those defects ...

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2012/12/the-red-and-the-black/

What is class?

Danny Katch explains what Marxists mean when we talk about social class--and why our tradition looks to the working class majority to change society.
November 6, 2014

LAST YEAR, workers for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system went on strike, disrupting the daily commute for employees of some of San Francisco companies like Google and Twitter.

Tech executives who normally promote themselves as rebellious "disruptors" of old economic models were furious that they themselves had been disrupted by what they considered the most outdated economic model of them all--a labor union.


Like all job actions, but perhaps even more so coming in the heart of the "new economy," the BART strike punctured that fantasy by reminding our Captains of Digital Industry that the working class continues to exist--and worse still, it does so not as an unfortunate object of pity, but as a potentially dangerous force with its own unique form of power.

Until the Occupy Wall Street movement and its talk about the 1 Percent, class was practically a nonexistent topic of public conversation. Even today, almost every time the word is uttered on major media channels, it comes after "middle." Everyone in the United States is supposedly middle class, whether we make $25,000 a year or $250,000. It's unpatriotic to let ourselves be divided by one extra zero.


IN THE Marxist view, capitalism has three main classes: capitalists who own the means of production, workers who sell their labor power to those owners, and a middle class of managers, professionals, small business owners and others, whose function combines aspects of both bosses and workers, in differing proportions depending on the occupation ...

Much more here: http://socialistworker.org/2014/11/06/what-class-and-isnt

Republicans win control of Senate

Republicans win control of Senate in US congressional elections
By Patrick Martin
5 November 2014

The Republican Party won control of the US Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections, taking more than the six Democratic-held seats needed to obtain the 51 required for a majority. Republican candidates defeated incumbent Democratic senators in North Carolina, Arkansas and Iowa and won open Democratic seats in West Virginia, Iowa, South Dakota and Montana.

< snip >

The outcome of the vote is a debacle for the Democratic Party and the Obama administration, which threw in the towel in terms of the House of Representatives months ago and concentrated their efforts on holding onto a handful of Senate seats needed to maintain a narrow majority in the upper house. This effort produced dismal results, with only one of the threatened Democratic seats, in New Hampshire, successfully defended.

The Republican victory does not represent a shift by the American population to the right, but demonstrates the bankrupt and reactionary character of the Democratic Party and the mass disillusionment with the Obama administration. In the absence of any progressive alternative to the two right-wing, corporate-controlled parties, the majority of potential voters stayed home. Voter turnout hit another record low, with only 38 percent going to the polls.

The working class had no representation in the 2014 elections in either party. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are controlled by the financial aristocracy that rules America. Corporate bosses and billionaires dictate the policy and personnel of both parties, and they are now demanding a further shift to the right in official Washington ...

More here: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/05/lead-n05.html

Congressional Seats Sell for Record Four Billion Dollars

Borowitz Report
Today 11:43 am
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Congressional seats are on pace to fetch a whopping four billion dollars on Tuesday night, a record-smashing sales figure that has exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic insiders.

The seats, which include four hundred and thirty-five in the House of Representatives and thirty-six in the Senate, have attracted buyers from a broad spectrum of industries, including investment banking, energy, pharmaceutical, and gun.

“With all of the uncertainty in the world today, the United States Congress is considered a very safe place for the rich to invest their money,” said Charles Michollot, of the auction house Sotheby’s. “Congressional seats are like Manhattan real estate—they aren’t making any more of them.”

But Anton Pickardin, of the rival auction house Christie’s, sounds more skeptical. “I hate to be a wet blanket, but these sales figures lack rhyme and reason,” Pickardin said. “When someone is willing to pay millions of dollars for a pre-owned Mitch McConnell, you know that people have lost their minds.”

More here: http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/congressional-seats-sell-record-four-billion-dollars

(well, sort of ...)

Education, Inc.

by George Joseph - 11.4.14
George Joseph is a NYC labor and education reporter. He is currently an undergraduate, organizing around campus labor issues and studying to be a high school teacher.

Over the summer, FBI agents stormed nineteen charter schools as part of an ongoing investigation into Concept Charter Schools. They raided the buildings seeking information about companies the prominent Midwestern charter operator had contracted with under the federal E-Rate program.

The federal investigation points to possible corruption at the Gulen charter network, with which Concept is affiliated and which takes its name from the Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen. And a Jacobin investigation found that malfeasance in the Gulen network, the second largest in the country, is more widespread than previously thought. Federal contracting documents suggest that the conflict-of-interest transactions occurring at Concept are a routine practice at other Gulen-affiliated charter school operators.

The Jacobin probe into Gulen-affiliated operators in Texas, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California found that roughly $4 million in E-Rate contract disbursements and $1.7 million in Department of Education Race to the Top grantee awards were given to what appear to be “related parties.” Awarding contracts to firms headed by related parties would seem to violate the FCC’s requirement that the school’s bidding process be “competitive” as well as “open and fair.”

Unlike most charter schools networks, the Gulen charter network has received significant scrutiny in the US press, primarily because of the international profile of its Islamic cleric leader and xenophobic fears of “education jihad.” Such coverage distracts from what appears to be systemic corruption at the public’s expense, a predictable consequence of the US charter school model ...

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/11/education-inc/

Red flags are flying in Rio and Montevideo -

Why the Left Continues to Win in Latin America
Greg Grandin on October 27, 2014 - 10:52 AM ET

Red flags are flying in Rio and Montevideo. Not only did Dilma Rousseff win in Brazil on Sunday but next door in Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez, the presidential candidate for Frente Amplio—or Broad Front, the political heir to the insurgent Tupamaros of the 1970s—did better than expected in a first-round vote and is predicted to win a November runoff. Vázquez, a former president (Uruguay prohibits consecutive re-election) would follow the beat-up-beetle-driving, pot-, same-sex-marriage-, and abortion-legalizing, flower-growing, three-legged-dog owner, former political prisoner and renunciant incumbent, José Mujica.

In Brazil, Dilma beat back a neoliberal-technocrat challenge. In Uruguay, Vázquez, a medical doctor, will face a more traditional conservative in November, Lacalle Pou, the son of a former right-wing president. Pou’s campaign is notable since it is among the first in Latin America to bet the bank on Richard Nixon–style wedge issues, hoping to use abortion, drugs and crime to take power. Reuters reports this from a Pou supporter: “ ‘So we are killing babies now and the state will sell marijuana,’ said Adriana Herrera, a 68-year-old pensioner. ‘My frustration is not just with the handout policies but also with the laws that have been approved that are terrible for the country.’ ” The nice use of the word pensioner here transports us back to the salad days of the New Right, to Margaret Thatcher’s kitschy shopkeeper authoritarian conservatism. Pou also promises tax cuts. He lost, and early polls expect he will lose the runoff. But he did get a third of the vote.

Hugo Chávez was first elected in Venezuela in 1998, which means we are more than a decade and a half into Latin America’s “left turn.” With these votes in Brazil and Uruguay, along with the recent re-elections of Michelle Bachelet in Chile, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Evo Morales in Bolivia, the developmentalist social-welfare left—both its “moderate” and “populist” wings—is showing remarkable endurance, having moved on from its first generation of leaders, Chávez, Kirchner in Argentina and Lula in Brazil.

It’s not hard to understand why: economics. Few want to go back to the disastrous neoliberalism of the 1980s and 1990s ...

more here: http://www.thenation.com/blog/186049/why-left-continues-win-latin-america

The Protests in Mexico today -

Anyone familiar with this?


Uploaded on Oct 23, 2014

When tens of thousands of people poured into downtown Mexico City on Wednesday, they came not only to join the ongoing protests about the disappearance of 43 students in the southern state of Guerrero - allegedly at the hands of local police tied to a drug gang. They also demonstrated against the corruption and impunity that many believe allowed the crime to happen. Fusion was on the streets with the protesters and captured three voices - Michel Guadalupe Hernandez Cabrera, a college student, Barrera Mendoza Jimenez, a mother, and Alejandro Solalinde, a priest and leading Mexican human rights activist.

The best way to fight terrorism (meme) -

(Found on Tikkun's facebook page)

From Wendy Davis: Early Voting Starts Today (TX)

** cross posted in state forum **

Just got an email from the Wendy Davis team so I'm posting it right here in GD as well. Texans, take your photo ID and vote TODAY.

From Wendy:

Voting officially starts today.

You can find your early voting location here, or by giving us a call at 1-844-TXVOTES:


Now, get out there and vote as soon as you can -- and forward this email to your family and friends to remind them about early voting, too.

Here we go!

Team Wendy

P.S. If you encounter any issues casting your ballot, or just have a question, call our voter protection hotline at 1-844-TXVOTES

Remembering Casey Owens -

Found this story online today and just thought I should share. This former Marine never quite recovered from his experience with war and succumbed to suicide this week.

Local Iraq war veteran dies of suicide
by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
Friday, October 17, 2014

Aspen resident Casey Owens, a veteran of Iraq who lost his legs in the war, was found dead in his home Wednesday evening after he took his own life.

According to a statement from the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office, Owens died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Before a 2004 roadside bomb struck his Humvee when he was 22, Owens had had his heart set on being a career Marine, said his friend, Carole Gunther, on Thursday. Owens, who achieved the rank of corporal, was 32.

“He struggled with that for the last several years,” she said ...

More on Casey here: http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/164251

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