Decisions, Decisions

This past week was not a good week.  The US Supreme Court rendered several decisions that will affect large segments of the American population, and one of the “Swing Justices” announced his impending retirement; thus clearing the way for Trump to nominate a justice who will be able to undo decades of progress and impede future progress.

I can’t help but wonder if the “Bernie or Bust” and “DemExit” folks thought of any of this.  I can also see why they couldn’t.  Most of them will not see the effects of the decisions that should have them asking “How would Garland have ruled?”

Very few Sanders supporters will be unable to have their families visit them, or visit their families for fear of being unable to return; they may know someone who is in this situation, but that doesn’t directly affect them.  Their daughter, or son’s girlfriend, will likely to still get an abortion or some way to provide for the baby can be found.  They, or their immediate descendants are unlikely to be serfs to the Koch’s or Amazon.  Many Sanders supporters, because they are from positions of privilege.

But that privilege can be useful as well.  They could contribute to various groups that are working with and for those who are affected.  The travel ban may mean one would have to find local groups working with, and for, the Muslim community.  The decision on abortion clinics might lead someone to donate to Planned Parenthood, NARAL or The National Network of Abortion Funds.

The Janus Decision leads to several possibilities.  AFSCME and SEIU will need funds to protect their members from what is likely to be an aggressive and well-funded campaign to get them to give up their memberships.  As public-sector unions were an key source of resources for the AFL-CIO, who will also likely need to build capacity, that group could use support. There is another option, though, perhaps it is time to look at changing the system as a whole.

Could the problem be capitalism itself.  Could the Democratic Socialists of America, of which I am a member, or the Industrial Workers of the World, which I am involved in the formation of, have the right idea?

Or maybe it’s too late.  Perhaps we should be ready for America to become either a corporate state like Bangladesh, or “The Republic of Gilead” portrayed in the novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale.  Perhaps folks should start building the networks of mutual aid now.

Of course, building that network might require actually going into the streets and working with affected communities.  That is something a lot of Sanders supporters seem reluctant to do.



Feeling The Sting?

Trump’s first few months in office have been likened to many things.  One that I have not heard is that he’s like a bear knocking various hives over.  His actions have gone after; women, refugees, especially Muslim refugees, people of color, urban areas, the media, entertainers, and other groups.

His decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreements, likely a way to please parts of his rural base of support, added environmentalists to the list.

With all these various groups in various states of anger and outrage, what impact could be had if they could all form one “swarm”; combining resources and activists and tools and tactics.

Alas, as someone who has members of several communities as allies both virtually and in real-time, I see the obstacles to creating such a hive.  Many of these groups do not agree with each other; a “Cult of Machismo” in parts of the African-American and Latino community may make building alliances with the LGBT community  difficult.  Organized labor and environmental groups have long had disagreements.

Rifts can also be tactical, groups that want to take a more direct action approach and those who seek solutions through the political process for example.  I continue to see The Nation reluctant to fully back groups like It’s Going Down or the One People’s Project.

We who are concerned about the planet and its people and creatures, who want to see a fair and just economy, and see all this as possible need to realize we are against a common enemy.  Wouldn’t it be great in November of 2018 to know that in January of 2019 that Congress would be buzzing with good, progressive, Democrats as majority in the US House and Senate.


Limits of Dissent

When you have been publishing for over 150 years like The Nation has, you could say you’ve seen it all.  This magazine has seen robber barons, segregationists, and now Donald Trump.  They have also seen various resistance movements rise up; labor, women, homosexuals and immigrants.

The March 27 issue featured a “Field Guide” to the new resistance.   To no surprise, there was one segment of the movement missing.  There was no mention of groups like One People’s Project or It’s Going Down.  The groups that are fighting the Trump agenda, especially its attacks on refugees, immigrants and people of color.

To me, it’s been a common theme of the long-time voice of the American Left.  Since the election the magazine has called for resistance, but been reluctant to support much of the organizations taking direct action.  An annual list of groups to support did not even include the National Lawyers Guild.

But why is there is reluctance?  Part of it may be with the nature of traditional media in this digital age, much of the readership of The Nation may simply be too old to take to the streets.  At 42, I may be at the younger end of the magazine’s readership, but I also realize that I am too old to “take to the streets” with the black block. But the readers could at least contribute money to aid efforts.

Another theory has to do with an idea that I noticed during the anti-war movement of the early 2000s.  There seems to be almost an East Coast and West Coast divide in terms of activist tactics.  The Nation, being based out of New York City, may be more along the Eastern lines of focusing on political action.  The activists in the streets are more along the Western model, with an emphasis on direct action.

Am I going to drop my subscription to The Nation?  No, but I may look to augment it with publications like Jacobian or In These Times, to go with my subscription to 2600.


Ready To Resist?

On Thursday, January 19th, I got an unexpected text from a fellow activist.  She needed a ride to the “DisruptJ20” event.  I had already planned to be a driver, but did not expect to actually have to drive folks to the meet site.   It was no big deal and I took a detour to pick them up before heading to the site.  Once we got there we met the another group of activists and headed to DC.

After about two hours on the road, we arrived at our quarters for the evening, a church that had given their space to the activists for the evening.  After a few hours of fitful sleep, my alarm went off at 4:30AM on January 20th.

After a quick breakfast, we reconvened with our group and a group of activists from North Carolina with a group called “Redneck Revolt”.  I’m not too familiar with this group, but it sounds like an effort to get rural voters to start voting and acting in their economic self-interest again.  It sounds like a good idea, but I see flaws that I will explore in a later post.

A few of us went to another activists car to grab water, and then we began what be a common theme of the day–walking. Our first destination was Logan Circle, where the anarchist “Black Bloc” were staging.

Now, you  may be asking how I got stuck with the “Black Bloc”, and I think it was confusion on my part and the part of our main local organizer.  I was supposed to be elsewhere, and could have made a good rally point at McPherson Square, the designated “safe space” for activists.

I was both energized and frightened by what I saw.  Energized by hearing chants of “No fascist U.S.A” and “Black Lives Matter”, but also frighted by the seemingly random destruction I saw; store windows being smashed, newspaper machines being thrown into the streets, etc.

When I saw the riot police, I had enough.  I told the activist I was paired off with that I was not proceeding any further.  We let the police herd the other protesters while we stood on the sidewalk.

So now we had another issue, we had also lost the rest of our group.  I suggested that we head back to where the event had started.  She agreed, and we headed back to Logan Circle.  A few minutes after sitting down, we were directed to McPherson Square.  We were essentially retracing steps; we even saw folks cleaning up from the march we had been on!

There we found a few of our ranks, and I had time to grab lunch.  Our lead organizer was OK, but we were still missing several members.  One of our missing members happened to be one of my passengers, so locating him was of critical importance! He was found, after much walking, at a co-working space.

That gave us an opportunity to rest and hydrate a bit.  And after a few hours we began the walk to the church, and then to my car.  Around 8:15PM, my two companions were dropped off at their house, and around 8:30 on the 20th, I arrived back at my apartment.

What I think we, and other activists did, especially the “Black Bloc” is announce to Trump that we are ready!  On Friday, store windows were smashed, soon it could be a Muslim processing center.  On Friday, seven of the twelve checkpoints for the Inauguration were blocked; soon it could be an immigrant neighborhood that Immigration and Customs is trying to conduct a sweep in.  On Friday, a limousine was set on fire; soon it could be a truck carrying the materials for Trump’s wall.  I’d be following these from afar, then closing in to photograph both the actions and the interactions with law enforcement.

But, this kind of direct action may not be necessary, if legislative actions are taken to resist the most extreme elements of Trump’s agenda.  Perhaps a warning has also been sent to the Democrats then, resist Trump’s extremism–or other people will!

Against Better Interests

I have observed the Right Wing for awhile and, through observations, have realized a few common themes.  I will say my perspective is a bit unique, as I see the former Confederate States of America as having many of the elements of fascism.

One of two common traits that seem to weave through many rightist movements is a desire to create a sort of “Corporate State”.  One need only look at Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy to see how tightly industry was joined to government.

The second common trait is a way to convince voters to vote against their economic interests and for this state.  Usually this involves an “outgroup” of some sort; for the Nazi’s it was Jews, etc, for the American Right of today it is Latinos, African-Americans, Muslims, etc.

Now to do both of these, one needs a sufficiently gullible group.  The less-educated, rural, voters that make up the “Trailer Park Caucus” that may be base of the GOP are perfect “tools” for the “%1”.

A news story from yesterday’s about a bill designed to target “Union Intimidation”, that may actually have the effect of  criminalizing organizing and picketing activities, brought out one example of how well the strategy employed by the Koch Brothers, ALEC, and their media mouthpieces, is working:

Responsible 27 minutes ago

You have to love the liberals when they say “plenty of laws already on the books for this”. Kind of like gun laws. We don’t need anymore, we just need to enforce the ones we have. Have to love the hypocrisy. If union workers want to strike others willing to work for the old wage and conditions should be allowed to do so. Unions once were needed in this country. Now they have simply become a drain on their memberships pay and a means for the complacent to secure higher wages than their skill set is worth. Instead of working with companies to remain economically viable in the market they drive up costs. This causes businesses to be less competitive and to shut their doors leaving all their members out of work. Then the union leaders pack up and go fleece others somewhere else. Too much corruption.