Progressive Calendar 12.11.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 05:04:22 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    12.11.07

1. MAP lunch/RNC        12.11 11:30pm
2. Women's rights       12.11 12noon
3. Labor/Rachleff/CTV   12.11 5pm
4. Women/labor/film     12.11 6:30pm
5. Ford Plant public?   12.11 6:30pm
6. Pray for peace       12.11 6:30pm
7. 3CD:Iraq/vote        12.11 7pm
8. Stadiums suck        12.11 7pm

9. Vets/witchhunt vote  12.12 11am
10. The baby biz        12.12 11:30am
11. Happy NOW           12.12 5:30pm
12. AWC volunteer       12.12 5:30pm
13. CAA/animals/eat     12.12 6:30pm
14. Green Party         12.12 6pm
15. Vets for peace      12.12 7pm Redwing MN
16. AI StP              12.12 7:30pm

17. Muslim feminist art 12.13 12noon
18. Peace demo          12.13 4:30pm Rochester MN
19. Women's rights film 12.13 7pm

20. Karen Redleaf  - Open letter to MAP annual meeting guests
21. Ron Jacobs     - The conspiracy continues: the Dems and war funding
22. Joann Wypijewski - Is there a left here left? What can it do?

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From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: MAP lunch/RNC 12.11 11:30pm
Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers' (MAP) Annual Meeting and Luncheon

Tuesday, December 11, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Hennepin Avenue United
Methodist Church, 511 Groveland at Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis St. Paul

Police Chief John Harrington, will speak on "Community Relations and the
Republican National Convention." Everyone is welcome. $15.00 will be
collected at the door for a "sit-down" luncheon. FFI and to Register:
Email <martrobe44 [at]>.

[See below 20.Karen Redleaf - Open letter to MAP annual meeting guests]

--------2 of 22--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Women's rights 12.11 12noon

December 11: Women's Programs, MN Advocates for Human Rights & Briggs &
Morgan present Women's Human Rights Speaker Series: Women, Truth &
Transition with Professor Fionnuala Ni Aolain. Noon-1 PM.

Briggs & Morgan, Minnesota Room, 2200 IDS Center, 80 S. 8th Street, Mpls.
Free & open to the public (registration required). RSVP to Tina at
612/977-8126 by December 7. Lunch will be provided for those who RSVP.

--------3 of 22--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Labor/Rachleff/CTV 12.11 5pm

Most excellent St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN 15) viewers:

"Our World In Depth" cablecasts in St. Paul on Tuesday evenings at 5pm and
midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am.  All households with basic cable
can watch!

12/11 5pm and midnight and 12/12 10am "Labor's Past, Labor's Present,
Labor's Future"  Interview of Peter Rachleff, labor historian and
professor at Macalester College.  Hosted by Karen Redleaf. (a repeat)

--------4 of 22--------

From: wsac [at]
Subject: Women/labor/film 12.11 6:30pm

Women and Labor Film Series: Made in Thailand & Made in India
Tuesday December 11th , 6.30 pm-8.00 pm in WSAC: Coffman Room 202

Made In Thailand. A film by Eve-Laure Moros and Linzy Emery In Thailand,
women make up 90 percent of the labor force responsible for garments and
toys for export by multinational corporations. This powerful, revealing
documentary about women factory workers and their struggle to organize
unions exposes the human cost behind the production of everyday items that
reach our shores. Today they are highly effective leaders in the
grass-roots movement mobilizing workers in their recently industrialized

Made in India. A film by Patricia Plattner This powerful documentary
is a portrait of SEWA, the now-famous women's organization in India that
holds to the simple yet radical belief that poor women need organizing, not
welfare. Following the lives of six women involved in the organization,
including Ela R. Bhat, its visionary founder, Plattner's documentary is an
important look at the power of grassroots global feminism.

Facilitated discussion will follow with Marion Traub-Werner, graduate
student in Geography with a focus on global work issues. This event is
free. Bring your friends!!! Free Food!!!

Contact wsac [at] or call 612 625 1611 for questions!
WSAC, Coffman Union, Suite 202 300 Washington Av SE, Minneapolis MN 55455

-- The mission of the Women's Student Activist Collective is to empower
women and transpeople to make positive changes in society through the
elimination of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, classism, and all
interrelated forms of inequality.

wsac [at],, 612.625.1611
300 Washington Ave. SE, Suite 202

--------5 of 22--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Ford Plant public? 12.11 6:30pm

HI, This coming Tuesday Michael Wood will discuss with us the
possibility of the Ford Plant being owned by us, the public.  What is
Public Ownership and How This Can Apply to the St Paul Ford Plant.
Should be a tantalizing discussion.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

--------6 of 22--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Pray for peace 12.11 6:30pm

December 11: Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet & Consociates Justice
Commission. 11th Day Prayer for Peace featuring Erika Swichtenberg,
Cellist, Composer & Pianist. 6:30-7:15 PM at Presentation of Our Lady
Chapel, St. Paul.

--------7 of 22--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: 3CD:Iraq/vote 12.11 7pm

Third Congressional District Candidate Forum on Iraq and Related Issues

Tuesday, December 11, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Hennepin County Ridgedale Library,
12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka. Robert H. Rohlf Room

Polls report that some 70% of the US population wants the U.S. out of Iraq
soon. Some of the first issues our new representative in Congress will
face are action on the war and related military concerns. All declared
candidates for the Third District U.S. House of Representatives seat have
been invited to participate in a conversation with the peace community in
a nonpartisan environment.

The format of the event will be conversation, the beginning of what is
hoped to become an on-going dialogue between the peace community and our
elected representative. The discussion will center on Iraq but will
include the broader issues of U.S. military aggression. Journalist Eric
Black moderates.Sponsored by: Third District Peace Campaign, Iraq Vets
Against the War, Vets for Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.

--------8 of 22--------

From: Ron Holch <rrholch [at]>
Subject: Stadiums suck 12.11 7pm

Taxpayers For an Anoka County Stadium Referendum
Tuesday December 11 at 7pm
The remaining months we will meet the Second Tuesday of every month.

Centennial High School
Red Building - Room 104
4704 North Road
Circle Pines, MN

The red building is on the east end of the high school complex, and is set
back furthest from North Road.  Enter on the East side of the building.
The largest parking lots are near this building.

The most recent news is that leading State legislators and the Governor
have said the stadium will not be a priority for the 2008 Session but:

In an Associated press article last week Wilf said "We look forward to
advancing the stadium issue during the 2008 legislative session."

Mr. Wilf has not given up on your money and neither should you!

The only question left is: when will our representatives stop entertaining
these giveaway welfare schemes to the richest men they can find at the
expense of our future.

Please join us for another episode in the series: "WHO WILL PAY FOR ZYGI'S
STADIUM?"  This could just as well mean a metro wide sales tax, including
the 30 year mortgage at a total of 1.5 billion dollars.  Can someone
calculate how many new bridges that could buy?

[Zygi - just another capitalist freeloader. -ed]


Agenda Items Include:
*       Website
*       Lawn Signs for sale!
*       What is happening in the 2008 Legislative Session?
*       How do we join our friends to the south metro to stop this, the
newest welfare scheme?
*       Also coming to a location not so near you: The Stadium Commission
has decided to hold meetings to engage some of the public.
        I say "some of the public" because conspicuous because by their
absence are any meetings anywhere in Anoka County.
        Who wants to go and ask why Anoka County is once again left out of
public input to the process.
        For more on the Stadium commission meetings and what has happened so
far, come to our meeting.

Now would be a good time to think about what you will write to your
representatives to tell them we do not need to waste more money on stadium
giveaways to Billionaires.  Please continue to tell them we want a vote as
required by state law for any tax increase to pay for a stadium.  Write
letters to your local paper too.  If you have done these things already
please do it again.

Any Questions, comments contact me at   rrholch [at]

--------9 of 22--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Vets/witchhunt vote 12.12 11am

Wednesday, DEC. 12 at 11AM
KFAI 90.3FM Minneapolis/106.7 St. Paul - Streaming [at]

COMING HOME: How Wars Destroy the Warriors
When the gear comes off and discipline and alertness wane, veterans have
to live with what their humanity had to stuff while killing. Record
suicides, marriage break-ups, homelessness and addiction are plaguing
returning warriors.

TTT's Andy Driscoll and Lynnell Mickelsen talk with local veterans and
officials assigned to their health and re-entry to discuss how ³supporting the
troops² doesnıt always extend to their lives after combat.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION. CALL 612-341-0980 during the show.

 MAJ. CYNTHIA RASMUSSEN, RN MSN CANP ­ Army Combat Stress Officer/Sexual
Assault Response Coordinator
 AUNDREY SANCHEZ ­ DVA-Legion Office for the State of Minnesota Dept. of
Veterans Affairs
 GUY GAMBILL ­ Veteran, Gulf War I, and Advocacy Coordinator Council on
Crime and Justice
 SSGT. CHERISHA SANDERS ­ Medic from Iraq and Afghanistan Wars


STEALTH FASCISM? House Members Vote to Criminalize Dissent! (HR 1955) The
US House has voted 400+ to few to create a new 50s-style witch-hunting
National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and
Homegrown Terrorism.

How did such a radical measure pass with the support of our DFL
representatives? Weıll ask them ­ if theyıll answer.

 PETER ERLINDER ­ Constitutional Law Expert/Law Professor, Wm. Mitchell

[When is either party going to vote for things most of us want, and
against things most of us don't want? Or is that asking too much in a
so-called democracy? And when are we going to get angry enough about it to
DO something decisive? -ed]

--------10 of 22--------

From: Consortium on Law & Values JDP Program <lawvalue [at]>
Subject: The baby biz 12.12 11:30am

The University of Minnesota's Consortium on Law and Values in Health,
Environment & the Life Sciences and the Joint Degree Program in Law,
Health & the Life Sciences are pleased to sponsor the 2007-08 Lecture
Series on Emerging Debates on Oversight and Policy in Biomedicine & the
Life Sciences.  Please join us December 12, 2007 for the second lecture in
this series.

"Building a Better Baby Business: What's Wrong with the Market for
Assisted Reproduction and How to Make it Better"

by Professor Debora Spar, PhD
(Harvard Business School)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
11:30am - 1:00pm
Theater, Coffman Memorial Union

Professor Michele Goodwin, JD, and
Professor Christopher DeJonge, PhD

Debora Spar Professor Spar will discuss how, in the United States alone,
assisted reproduction generates annual revenues of over $4 billion.
Would-be parents have a tremendous array of options, including advanced
techniques for in vitro fertilization (IVF), use of spermbanks, and access
to egg donors.  They can aim for one child or several, blond hair or
brown, a boy or a girl.  In the process, they can expect to pay
handsomely, anywhere from $13,000 (the average price for a single cycle of
IVF) to $250,000 (the cost of repeated, failed, cycles with high-end donor
eggs and advanced techniques).  She will describe the current status of
the assisted reproduction business and outline some of the major problems
it poses --of equity, of contracting, and of child and maternal welfare.
She will also discuss avenues for appropriate public policy.

This event is free and open to the public.  This lecture is intended for
students, faculty, researchers, scientists, policymakers, and community
members.  Application for 1.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
for attorneys has been submitted.  Reservations are strongly encouraged.

Registration is available online, by phone at 612-626-5624, or by email at
lawvalue [at] . To access a map for Coffman Memorial Union and nearby
parking, visit

[All the guys I know who engaged in assisted reproduction did it for free,
and many ended up married, paying child support, or in jail. -) -ed]

--------11 of 22--------

From: Trisha Hasbargen <thasbargen [at]>
Subject: Happy NOW 12.12 5:30pm

UPTOWN NOW Grrrl Power Happy Hour
Join the Uptown chapter of National Organization for Women for its monthly
happy hour- an opportunity to network and get to know other like-minded
people in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. Join us for some boisterous
conversation and a little trouble-making! We'll save you a spot! This
event is open to members and non-members alike- bring a friend!

5:30-7:00: Wednesday, December 12, Wednesday, January 9, Wednesday,
February 13
Aura in Calhoun Square in Uptown,

For more information: Go to or email
nowuptown [at]

--------12 of 22--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: AWC volunteer 12.12 5:30pm

Volunteer with the Anti-War Committee
WED, 12/12 @ 5:30 @ our office 1313 5th St. SE, Mpls, #213

Come help us fold and send our end of the season mailing to our supporters.
Many hands make light work!  Fold and stamp while having engaging political

--------13 of 22--------

From: mcdou040 [at]
Subject: CAA/animals/eat 12.12 6:30pm

Join Compassionate Action for Animals for a dine-out this Wednesday
(December 12th), at 6:30 p.m. at the Holy Land Deli.

This popular veg-friendly restaurant offers a wide variety of traditional
Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare such as falafel, grape leaves,
hummus and baba ganouj, and much more! Come take a mid-week break, meet
new CAA supporters, and enjoy great food. Don't miss this opportunity!
Holy Land Deli is located at 2513 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis

Please RSVP with Becca at mcdou040 [at] or 763-221-0770.

--------14 of 22--------

From: PRO826 [at]
Subject: Green Party 12.12 6pm

Deep Organizing with the Green Party of MN
Dec 12 - 6-7pm
Become a stronger more confident Green Party organizer
This is an ongoing-every second Wednesday of the Month

Thinking of running as a Green Party Candidate in 2008?
Dec 12 7-8pm

Let's talk about what steps are needed and how to prepare for the upcoming
elections. Ongoing-every second Wednesday of the Month

Location : Green Party of MN office, 2395 University Ave W. #224, St. Paul
55114 (University and Raymond. Enter on the Raymond side, next to the
Womens Press.) and our communities. Call to confirm : Ken Pentel (612)
387-0601 kenpentel [at]

--------15 of 22--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Vets for peace 12.12 7pm Redwing MN

Wednesday, 12/12, 7 to 8:30 pm, Red Wing Vets for Peace meeting at home of
Charles Nicolosi, Red Wing.  tuvecino [at]

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From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: AI StP 12.12 7:30pm

AIUSA Group 640 (Saint Paul) meets Wednesday, December 12th, at 7:30 p.m.
Mad Hatter Teahouse, 943 West 7th Street, Saint Paul.

--------17 of 22--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Muslim feminist art 12.13 12noon

Thursday, December 13, 2007
12:00 noon - 1:30 pm
Luann Dummer Center for Women
O'Shaughnessy Educational Center 103

Hend Al-Mansour, Muslim feminist artist will give a presentation on her
art and her latest work-in-progress.
Please join us for this monthly inter-faith dialogue.  The event is free
and everyone is welcome.  Bring your lunch, we will provide coffee and
Any questions, call Pat at the Women's Center 962-6119 between 9 am and
1:00 pm, Monday-Friday.

--------18 of 22--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peace demo 12.13 4:30pm Rochester MN

Thursday, 12/13, 4:30 pm, Southeastern MN Area Peacemakers sponsors peace
demonstration, Broadway & 2nd St SW, Rochester, followed by 7 pm meeting
at Govt Center, room AB.

--------19 of 22--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Women's rights film 12.13 7pm

December 13: Women's Human Rights Programs, Minnesota Advocates for Human
Rights Women's Human Rights Film Series. Features "Killer's Paradise " 7
PM. Riverview Branch Library, 1 East George Street, St. Paul. Free & open
to the public.

--------20 of 22--------

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 08:57:10 -0800 (PST)
From: karen redleaf <vegan14ever [at]>
Subject: Open letter to MAP annual meeting guests

Dear Guests of the MAP Annual Meeting,

Some of us writing today are long time activists for social justice.  We
have struggled side by side with many of you to end war and oppressive
violence.  This is why we are so concerned about the choice of St. Paul
Police Chief John Harrington as keynote speaker for this meeting.  We
recognize that as guests you did not chose the speaker, and we do not wish
to judge you.  We want only to encourage you to think about the Republican
National Convention, the role the police will play and where you stand.
You will be pushed to "take sides" and we want you to make an informed

As protectors of state power, even the best intentioned police will be on
the wrong side of the barricades at the Republican National Convention.
Ask yourself why.  Are the police "upholding the law" by arresting
"lawbreakers", or are they defending those guilty of mass murder and
crimes against humanity and nature from being called to account by the
people?  Why aren't the police meeting with the people right now to figure
out how we will defend our cities from this invasion of dangerous
criminals in suits?

The criminal behavior and complicity of RNC attendees will be off the
police radar.  Instead they will focus on "good" protesters and "bad"
protesters.  Even if we share all the same goals, the police put wedges
between us by focusing entirely on the tactics we utilize to advance our
common goals.  If we accept the premise that there is such a thing as a
"bad" protester, we have already lost.  The myth of the so-called "bad"
protester will serve as the justification for all the violence perpetrated
by the police during the RNC.  And make no mistake; the police will be
perpetrating violence during the RNC.

Believing in "bad" protesters normalizes police violence.  It allows
people to believe that protesters get the treatment they deserve, and this
belief allows the police to use violence even more indiscriminately.
Believing in "bad" protesters creates an environment in which police
violence does not have to be justified. Police violence - like all state
sponsored violence, including war - is presumed to be legitimate.

It is disturbing that "nonviolent" activists are so ready to accept police
violence.  Holding such beliefs about the "legitimate" use of violence by
agents of state power is a mark of privilege.  Those on the receiving end
of U.S. violence around the world recognize the indiscriminate nature of
that violence.  As it is around the world, so it is here.  But the "war at
home" affects different communities differently.  The wealthy and white
can pretend there is no war if they choose to.  That's privilege.  Ask the
poor and people of color about the police.  Ask how they feel about police
violence.  Of course you would have to leave the talk to ask them, because
you won't find them in the audience with you.  Ask yourself why.

Ask yourself if inviting a police chief to speak at a major peace event
reveals something about why people from poor communities and communities
of color are not more involved in the anti-war movement - even though
these communities are deeply impacted by war.  Ask yourself who you are
lining up against when you line up behind the police.  Is it possible you
are alienating those you would seek as allies?  The barricades are up.
Whose side are you on?

(Karen Redleaf is a former MAP delegate and current member of the RNC
Welcoming Committee.  She writes this on behalf of Communities United
Against Police Brutality, the RNC Welcoming Committee and concerned
residents of the Twin Cities.)  (comments appreciated at:

--------21 of 22--------

The Conspiracy Continues: The Democrats and War Funding
by Ron Jacobs
December 10th, 2007

Okay. I'm going to state the obvious here. After all, somebody needs to
say it. In fact, everybody who sees it needs to say it. Are you ready?
Then here goes. The men and women calling themselves Democrats and sitting
in Congress are the biggest bunch of liars this country has ever seen.
Given today's political situation, what with Bush and Cheney running the
White House, that's a pretty big claim to make. Unfortunately for those
who believed those men and women might actually stop the war in Iraq and
begin getting the US military out of there, this is the only conclusion
one can make.

I mean, take a look. There are more troops in Iraq now than there were
when the Democrats won (yeh, won) both houses of Congress a little over a
year ago. If my calculations are correct, more than $100 billion have been
spent to keep those troops there, keep them in supplies both lethal and
otherwise, and to top it off, more troops have died since those elected
"representatives" took their places than in any other year of this
loathsome war and occupation. Add to this list of calamities the untold
numbers of Iraqis killed, wounded and uprooted from their homes. No matter
how you look at it, there is no way this can be called ending the war. In
fact, not only could it be called enabling this debacle to continue, the
more truthful description would be to call what the Democrats have done is
conspire to commit murder.

Their partners in the conspiracy - the White House, the Pentagon and their
GOP supporters - have been true to their word. They promised that they
would stay in Iraq until their goals were reached, no matter how many
lives it took. Even without an elected majority in Congress, this element
of the conspiracy has received every bit of money, every single GI and
marine, and almost every bit of positive media spin they have asked for.
This could not have occurred without the collusion of the Democrats.

As I write this, another alleged attempt by Congressional Democrats to
begin bringing home a sizable minority of troops from Iraq seems to be
going the way of every other previous attempt. That is, to the dustbin of
history. The reasons given this time by the Democrats are as pathetic as
those provided previously. You know the litany: they don't have the votes,
the GOP is threatening a filibuster if the troop withdrawal limits are
attached to the bill, they don't want to harm the troops in the field, and
so on. Now I don't know about you, but isn't leaving the troops in the war
zone more dangerous than bringing them home? Furthermore, if the
Republicans can filibuster a spending bill to prevent the inclusion of
elements in the bill that they don't like, can't the majority Democrats
also filibuster that same bill to make sure those same elements are

I mean, we're not talking about halting funding for the war and occupation
and bringing the troops home starting tomorrow here, even though that is
what we should be talking about. No, we're talking about a bill that
essentially suggests to Mr. Bush that he take $50 billion more for the war
and start thinking about bringing some of the troops home as soon as
possible with the idea that a good number of them are no longer in Iraq by
December 2008. That's not a hell of a lot to ask for. Yet, the Democrats
are backing off from this lily-livered legislation and planning on giving
the White House another $50 billion with no strings attached, not even the
silly string of the aforementioned withdrawal suggestion. To top it off,
the Democrats are telling the press that it's the Republican's fault that
they refuse to stand their ground.

"We've tried maybe a dozen times" to bring troops home, said Sen. Carl
Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "And when
we do try and we don't succeed, we still provide funding for the troops".
In other words, they still provide monies for the war. If the Boston Red
Sox had this attitude, they would never have made it to the World Series
in 2004 and 2007. But then again, baseball teams don't conspire with their
competition to get to the championship, they play them harder than they
are being played because they truly want to win. If the Democrats truly
wanted to end the war, they would stand up to the challenges of the war
supporters across the aisle and in the White House. Instead, they hedge
their bets, blame their opponents for their failures, and vote for more
war. All of which makes it harder for those of us who truly oppose the war
and occupation to vote for any of them.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew:A History of the Weather
Underground. His most recent novel Short Order Frame Up is published by
Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625 [at] Read other
articles by Ron.

This article was posted on Monday, December 10th, 2007 at 5:00 am and is
filed under Activism, Anti-War, Democrats, Imperialism, Iraq,
Military/Militarism. Send to a friend.

--------22 of 22--------

What Can It Do?
Is There a Left Here Left?
December 10, 2007

"Given the growing opposition to the Iraq war and rising inequality, why
hasn't the Left done better at organizing around these key issues, and
what needs to be improved in order to do so? Making people aware of how
bad things are is clearly necessary, but it is not sufficient for building
something new. The real question of course is: Now what? And in
particular: How to strategically build power for the long-term."

The preceding paragraph was from a somewhat irritable note from a member
of the audience at a meeting on October 15, hosted by the Political
Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts
Amherst. The meeting featured myself and Alexander Cockburn, addressing
the theme, "Is there a Left left?"

'Why hasn't the Left done better at organizing around these key issues?'
The question presupposes there is a coherent force in the country that can
be called by that name, "the Left". I don't think there is, in the sense
of any potent organized force, let alone mass movement or even
mini-movement that is challenging the fundamental terms of the system and
is equal to the moment. And this - the disequilibrium of movement to
moment - I think, is the cause for so much despondency (secret and
not-so-secret) among American leftists, who certainly are alive even if
some identifiable political and ideological home with a clear project,
"The Left", is not.

There are many reasons for this, many of them obvious ones, like the
long-term effect of the imploding of the Soviet Union; the long-term
effect of a reigning ideology in the West that 'there is no alternative';
the demobilizing effect of Clintonism on vast sectors of progressive
America, disorganization; disarray of the black community as a result of
repression / criminalization, deindustrialization and split-level economic
conditions (economic catastrophe for part of the community, McMansions for
another part); the continuing long slide of organized labor; a generalized
sense of insecurity (economic and personal) that lends itself more to
caution than to daring, and so on.

I don't think there is any magic formula, any set of approaches, to 'fix'
this, and it would have been presumptuous or dishonest or both to say
there was. Why, for instance, is the antiwar movement basically nowhere on
campuses? I don't know, and the people on campuses I've spoken to don't
have good answers either, but it's up to them to answer that. They were
disappointed when the war wasn't stopped before it started after the Feb.
15, 2003, worldwide demonstrations. They were disappointed when it wasn't
stopped after that, and after a few more marches. They were disappointed
and demoralized when Bush was re-elected. They can never get more than 15
people for a meeting and 5 are pushing a sectarian agenda, 5 want to talk
only about Palestine and 5 can't get past identity politics.

This last, admittedly, I've only heard from Columbia students, but the
point is the institutionalized leadership of UFPJ and ANSWER isn't being
challenged by a younger generation pushing itself to the lead. And that
institutionalized leadership is exhausted. Friends who work for UFPJ every
day as volunteers say privately, "It's hopeless." Work goes on, the demos
get planned, people do their vigils. The only force with any juice, it
seems to me, are the military families, the counter-recruiters, the
antiwar vets. I don't believe some tactical adjustment will change this -
ditching "Support the Troops", ditching big demonstrations, embracing the
Moratorium idea of doing one small thing every day on the same month in
the same place, ditching UFPJ, ditching any engagement at all with
electoral politics, throwing all effort into electoral politics, waving
the flag of the Mahdi Army or whatever faction one wants to choose of the
Iraqi resistance. All of those tactics have been proposed by various
people. We can discuss till we're blue in the face the various merits or
demerits of such ideas, but I think it's foolhardy to think any one or
combination of them is going to invigorate the antiwar movement into an
edgy potent force.

The antiwar movement is in a weird position: it's job is not to sway
public opinion, since a majority of Americans agree with it; but nothing
changes, so people are demoralized. They're not illogical in their
demoralization. And there is neither the wild courage nor the organization
to throw a spanner in the works, to disrupt the war machine - not from
labor (though some unionists on the West Coast and internationally are
trying to see what they might put together toward this end), not from the
campuses, and only so far among the soldiers. The latter are the most
promising, but are nowhere close to the situation of mass mutiny of
drafted armies past. At this point it looks as if the war will end when
the Iraqis punish the US beyond endurance or the generals mutiny or both,
but I don't think we should have illusions that that will be a glorious
day for the Left.

I don't think either mere cheerleading - we need the will! we need the
courage! another world IS possible! - is much of a solution to anything.
There are world historical forces afoot here, and one of the jobs of
anyone who considers herself on the left is to try to understand them. I
don't think the Left in the heady days of empire really thought too much
about the privileges and distortions being children of the empire
conferred on it, except to say, in some quarters, We don't want any part
of it! But opting out only goes so far, and is delusional even if

Now that the empire is exhausted at the top - and we could disagree about
that, but I think the signs are more indicative of fundamental weakness
than of strength even if the US can still kill everyone in the world many
times over and still 'afford' billions of dollars a day doing that in one
way or another - radicals are feeling what it means to be part of the
general decline. How do we deal with it? That's not an idle question, or
one that has an obvious answer. There was a certain amount of chauvinism
attached to the American Left in the sixties, a sense of being at the
center of the political universe even if people did make their trips to
Hanoi or Ghana or Paris.

And part of that was even justified, because America at the time could be
said to be "swinging", to quote Andy Kopkind from 1967. It's not swinging
now, but at the same time it's awfully narrow to have to think of 'the
Left' as something that's bounded by national borders. And if we look
beyond our borders, there is clearly a Left, in the sense of powerful
movements or currents challenging the fundamental terms of the world
economic system.

So if one asks, Is there a Left left? the answer is clearly yes, but not
necessarily within our borders. So then how do we engage with that? What
does solidarity and internationalism, as opposed to rad-tourism, demand
today? What can we learn from those who have set out a task of developing
"socialism for the 21st century" or autonomy and freedom from the
neoliberal chokehold? And how can we support those efforts, while not
abandoning organizing at home that might not rattle the world, at least
not this minute, but is still necessary if one has any sense of politics
as being a long march?

In Bolivia you have massed organizations of peasants, workers, farmers,
indigenous people in Bolivia toppling two governments, facing bullets and
suffering casualties to do so, asserting in the most powerful way claims
against the force of privatization, deregulation, immiseration, etc. In
Mexico You have the Zapatistas arising from seemingly nowhere on the eve
of NAFTA's implementation saying No, everything is not finished; it is
still possible to put up a fundamental fight - and changing Mexican
politics. These are not movements that can just be 'imitated'. Nor are
they - either in Bolivia or Mexico or Ecuador or Venezuela or Argentina
or Cuba or Brazil - movements that are perfectly realized, without
contradictions, without setbacks, weaknesses, disappointments ahead. Most
of all they are not to be romanticized.

But Latin America is, I believe, where the center of political energy has
shifted. It is where what Eqbal Ahmad called "the logic of daring" is at
work. And it is the original homeland of millions of people now in this
country whose movements and organizing here may be uneven, may not conform
strictly to some notion of the Left but do bear attention and support from
the rest of us. Certainly in the realm of labor, organizing by immigrants
is where most of the action is. I think one can with justice say that the
immigrant rights marches of May 1, 2006, were the closest thing to a
general strike that the US has seen in a long time, to take the most
obvious example. Now that movement is fractured too, and has its
contradictions, and has come under severe repression.

That there has been no wider Left in the US to defend immigrants, to
articulate the rights of people not only to move across borders (mobility
of labor) but also to stay in their homelands and survive - and to link
the international experience with the domestic experience of dispossession
on any number of fronts (the most glaring being Katrina) - indicates that
there is a task at hand considerably more robust than blogging in the
fight for a world fit to live in.

There are people and groups chipping away at a piece of this here and
there, but I'm certain they don't think it will be realized off a breezy
checklist of 'things to do'.There's a pretty major hurdle, and that, as I
see it, is how to counter the dominant reality of our lives, which is that
capitalism is increasingly organizing society for alienation.

When you talk to old labor strategists they often make the point that
labor organizing follows corporate organizing, and the way a job organizes
crews or teams or distribution systems or whatever helps point a direction
for how labor can most effectively organize. (Because those crews or
whatever already work together, trust each other, rely on each other, are
sometimes intimate socially.) So on one level we could say capitalism
organizes production globally, so labor needs to organize globally, though
that presents a tougher set of problems from the organization of one
workplace; plus not all work is globalized. But if you think about
capitalism as a system that implicates us beyond a particular job, then
its global organization is something that affects us all, because it is a
worldwide system of lowered living standards, increasing insecurity,
deregulation, evisceration of the social contract/social safety net,
privatization and dispossession.

So one question that arises is, How do societies, at a minimum, put
capitalism back on a leash? Because it's unleashed now and that fact makes
almost every action for a more just or equitable society impossible. So
that's a major question. What the strategy is for doing that, in real
terms, with real people on the ground, I don't know. But that curls back
to the other problem mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. If you
think about how disconnected people are - from their co-workers (the rise
of consultancies, independent contract work, telecommuting, call centers,
temp work, personal service work), from their neighbors, this is a pretty
profound problem.

And you can extend that out, to alienation within a workplace via two-tier
union contracts, temporary vs permanent employees, domestic vs native-born
employees; within a community, witness the crazy obsession with
homosexuals in the black community, the crazy persistent racism in the
white community, the crazy bugaboo of undocumented immigrants across many
communities, including those of documented immigrants.

A lot of this is not new, obviously, but the disorganization of so much of
society feels new (and I'm talking over the past maybe 15 years).
Sometimes I think that at a minimum we ought to be encouraging people to
join - anything. The PTA, the Kiwanis Club, the local pathetic chapter of
the NAACP, the local tenants group, the freelancers union, the local
Democratic club or libertarian club, whatever, just to start remembering
how to think together. And even if it prompted people to see what they
don't want to be part of, maybe it would encourage them to create
something that they do.  This sounds pretty lame, I know. But the
situation is pretty lame, or so it seems. The whole reason the church has
been so effective in politics, I think, is because it's one of the last
stands in society where people aren't alienated: they meet every week,
share a set of ideas and values, engage in something that is practical and
enchanted at the same time.

And what does the left have? Virtual communities, virtual organizing,
virtual communication. I don't think it's all that helpful. You can get a
hundred thousand people to a demo, or to sign a letter or call their
Congress people or donate to some candidate or cause (send money for an ad
in the NYTimes!), but they're pretty much alone.

So, it seems to me the first step has to involve a reorganization of
society, people getting together. I work with a housing group in New York.
We do a lot of great work, organizing in private and public housing. But
it's a lot harder than it was in the 70s. The neighborhood has changed,
people are less solidaristic, the economic structure of buildings makes
them less solidaristic, since obviously the last rent controlled tenant
and next to last rent stabilized tenant have nothing in common with the
high-flying market-rate tenants, and in public housing there's so much
pressure and so much bad blood and people are so tired just trying to
live. And our organization gets so tired just trying to survive, get the
grants, etc. So it's like rolling the rock up the hill. I have a little
hope that the public housing work could gather more steam.

There's a summit of groups doing this kind of work around the country
coming up in January, hoping to figure out how everyone's disjointed work
could be strengthened and combined, and trying, maybe, to think about it
all in larger terms re public resources, public good, some reinvigorated
social contract. Baby steps.   --end--

[Couch Potatoes on the Titanic

I think a big part of the problem is the millions increasingly unhappy
with the Dem Party, but afraid to leave it. The rulers know this and count
on it; they can do anything they want (war, torture, theft etc) as long as
millions will follow the Dems to war and torture, etc. And so long as they
do, we will continue the slide toward a third world fascist police state.
Government will always get as bad as whatever people will put up with;
right now anything goes and we put up with all of it. It won't take long
for those at the top to make use of this. Maybe the dollar and the empire
will fall before then; we can hope. It would be heartening to see us take
our future into our own hands. -ed]


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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