|Progressive Calendar 09.07.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2010 15:16:43 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 09.07.10 1. Healthy W7th 9.07 6:30pm 2. Amnesty Intl 9.07 7pm 3. Alliant vigil 9.08 7am 4. Clean energy jobs 9.08 5:30pm 5. Eagan peace vigil 9.09 4:30pm 6. Northtown vigil 9.09 5pm 7. Arizona/immigrants 9.09 5pm 8. Mass PartyOf Labor 9.09 7pm 9. Sherwood Ross - Losing the base/ Why November could be a GOP rout 10. Rich Gibson - Why have school? Education, school and the resistance 11. Alex Doherty - A world in collapse? Interview of Robert Jensen 12. ed - Bumpersticker --------1 of 12-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Healthy W7th 9.07 6:30pm We will host "A Healthy W 7th". United Family Clinic is trying to learn more about the health (and this is in the broadest terms) of people. It doesn't have to be just people from the W7th neighborhoods, but anyone who comes to the salon can help w/this project. It will be a conversation about health, and the project can be guided by our participation. The following tells us a little of what will be discussed. I think it sounds like a very important and fun project, and one each of us can give input. We may even be given coupons for free food at Coopers for our help in this. Who are you & who are those close to you? (in general, anonymous terms) -- What does health mean to you and those close to you? -- How do you & those close to you stay healthy? -- What do you & those close to you need to be healthier? -- Where do you go when you need help? Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) 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. --------2 of 12-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 9.07 7pm Saint Cloud Area Amnesty International meets on Tuesday, September 7th, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W. St. Germain, Saint Cloud. For more information contact Jerry Dirks, 320-251-6491 or jerry.dirks [at] gmail.com. --------3 of 12-------- From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org> Subject: Alliant vigil 9.08 7am Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems, 7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie. We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies? directions and lots of info: alliantACTION.org --------4 of 12-------- From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com> Subject: Clean energy jobs 9.08 5:30pm Participating in a public forum is a great way to be involved in your community. Join Green For All CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and U.S. Representative Keith Ellison at a Clean Energy Jobs Forum to discuss ideas and policies that will make more clean energy jobs available to all Minnesotans. The event will also feature a Resource Fair where attendees can get apprenticeship and training resources as well as connect with employers. <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5379/images/GREEN%20ENERGY%20JOBS%20FOR UM%2009.08.10.jpg> Wednesday, September 8th 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. South Education Center 7450 Penn Avenue South Richfield, MN 55423 Other speakers include: J. Drake Hamilton - Fresh Energy John Dybvig - Blue-Green Alliance Gerardo Ruiz - Solarflow RSVP <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=cp5%2BIxhVFFgdhUoUjnq The event is free to the public. --------5 of 12-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 9.09 4:30pm PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------6 of 12-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 9.09 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------7 of 12-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Arizona/immigrants 9.09 5pm Discussion: "What are the Legal and Ethical Boundaries for Dealing with Immigration: Is the New Arizona Law an Appropriate Response?" Thursday, September 9, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m University of St. Thomas, School of Law, Schulze Grand Atrium 1000 LaSalle Avenue, Minneapolis. In a preview of the monumental debate ultimately destined for Congress and the U. S. Supreme Court, the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions presents: "What are the Legal and Ethical Boundaries for Dealing with Immigration: Is the New Arizona Law an Appropriate Response?" This event brings together scholars and two nationally known advocates for and against Arizona's new legislation to share their views on the Arizona law and the issue of immigration in general. Endorsed by: the WAMM Immigration Committee. FFI and RSVP: Visit www.stthomas.edu/ethicalleadership/default.html. --------8 of 12-------- From: CMPL <info [at] masspartyoflabor.org> Subject: Mass Party of Labor 9.09 7pm Twin Cities Launch of the Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor Mayday Books (301 Cedar Avenue on the West Bank in Minneapolis) September 9th, 2010 at 7:00 pm. For far too long, working people have been offered only "evil" at the voting booth - "greater" and "lesser". But as Michael Moore once put it, the "lesser" evil is still evil! As the economic crisis drags on and we head into the midterm elections after two years of Obama, the question of who decides on policy and legislation is again on everyone's minds. For these reasons, the Workers International League has decided to launch a Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor (CMPL). Our purpose in launching this campaign is the following: 1. Explain the need for the labor movement to break with the Democrats and Republicans and build a mass labor party based on the unions. 2. Connect this idea with the struggles of workers and youth. 3. Show how a mass labor party could change society for the benefit of the working class, which makes up the vast majority of the population. We therefore cordially invite you to the Twin Cities launch meeting of the Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor. We have organized a terrific panel discussion to launch the campaign locally: * Dave Riehle (United Transportation Union) - Long-time labor activist and historian. Dave will discuss the interesting and instructive history of Minnesota's Farmer-Labor Party, the only labor party in the country that had a prolonged existence and influence on state politics. * Greg Gibbs (Former member of various unions including the Teamsters and UE) - Labor Party activist in the Twin Cities in the 1990s. Greg will discuss the lessons we can draw from the experience of the Labor Party. * John Peterson (CWA Local 37002) - Local activist and editor of Socialist Appeal. John will give an overview of the current political situation as we head into the midterm elections and explain more about the Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor. We hope you'll join us to discuss this important question! For more information, please contact us at info [at] masspartyoflabor.org or call 612-568-2675 and leave a message. In solidarity, Twin Cities CMPL --------9 of 12-------- Why November Could be a Republican Rout Losing the Base By SHERWOOD ROSS September 7, 2010 CounterPunch President Obama is not only losing support among the general public but also of the liberals and college students who did so much to energize his presidential campaign. Now, even some Democratic incumbents whose seats had been considered safe are in trouble. According to Rasmussen pollsters, Obama's general approval rating plunged from 65 per cent upon taking office to 45 per cent today. Larry Sabato, director of the Center For Politics at the University of Virginia, says the Republicans are poised to have a net gain of 47 House seats and likely eight Senate seats. "If anything, "says Sabato, "we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains..." [Here's where lesser evil and spinelessness gets us - we're supposed to rescue our betrayers over and over, so they can betray us over and over. We have demonstrated how cowardly and stupid we can be, over and over. Gutless "niceness" will kill us. Time for a radical third party/movement to start and build. -ed] What's turning off liberals is that on issue after issue, Obama appears to be little more than a slicker copy of his stumbling predecessor. When the Republicans under George Bush elected to bail out Wall Street, Obama helped them finish the job even though congressional mail ran overwhelmingly against it. Instead, he might have created a massive jobs program to restart the economy with paycheck power as FDR did with his New Deal. But Obama's half-hearted make-work blueprint appears to be too little and too late. "For Vulnerable Democrats, Economy Fuels Election Fears," The New York Times reported September 4th. "Seeking to keep the focus away from Mr. Obama and the national economy, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona emphasizes her work for rougher border controls and support for the stimulus money that saved the jobs of local teachers and public safety workers," the paper said. Her campaign manager, Rodde McLeod, says, "We're running our own race". Translation: the man in the White House is now a liability, not an asset. A related article in the same issue is titled, "In a Shift, Fewer Young Voters See Themselves as Democrats". Reporter Kirk Johnson writes, "The college vote is up for grabs this year - to an extent that would have seemed unlikely two years ago, when a generation of young people seemed to swoon over Barack Obama". He quotes Mandi Asay, 22, spokeswoman for the University of Colorado's College Democrats, as saying: "People are angry - about the budget deficit, health care plan, angry about this and that. I feel like Republicans definitely, definitely have a chance of getting back on their feet". The percentage of collegians who identify themselves as Democrats has dropped about five points to 57 percent in roughly two years, according to Pew Research Center. On health care, perhaps the No. 1 concern of liberals after the wars of aggression in the Middle East, Obama surrendered on the public option issue when he might have campaigned for it dramatically in person on hospital doorsteps around the country. Instead, the public got the idea that he regarded it as, well, optional. And liberals who saw the president as a champion for ecological sanity, are also disillusioned. Writing in the July issue of "Sojourners" magazine, which defines itself as "Faith in Action for Social Justice," author Bill McKibben writes Obama's honeymoon with progressive Americans "took what looks like a lethal blow" when oil began washing ashore in the marshes of Louisiana last Spring. True, Bush had relaxed the relevant environmental regulations "But it was Obama himself who had stood up three weeks before the spill and announced that he was lifting a long-standing moratorium on offshore drilling...". McKibben points out. Obama promised "We'll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence," when, "In fact, the president has basically ignored scientific evidence when it's come to energy policy," McKibben wrote. And Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Treasury Secretary under President Reagan, writes, "Obama... is committed to covering up the Bush regime's crimes and to ensuring that his own regime can continue to operate in the same illegal and unconstitutional ways". He points out, "To the consternation of his supporters, Obama is leaving 50,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The others are being sent to Afghanistan and to Pakistan, where on Obama's watch war has broken out big time with already one million refugees from the indiscriminate bombing of civilians". Says Roberts: "The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney". Obama has even multiplied the illegal CIA drone attacks in Pakistan that have claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians, possibly because he himself has been a long-time clandestine asset of that intelligence agency. Where President Eisenhower once got a landslide voter response for his campaign slogan of "Peace and Prosperity," it should surprise no one that President Obama's failure to deliver either one of those ideals has turned off a nation - starting with disillusioned liberals and college students whose energies played a major role in his election. As Tom Paine is said to have once remarked of a British politician, "As he rose like the rocket, he fell like the stick". Sherwood Ross is a former newspaper and wire service columnist who currently writes a regular column on political and military affairs. Reach him at sherwoodross10 [at] gmail.com --------10 of 12-------- Education, School and the Resistance Why Have School? By RICH GIBSON September 7, 2010 CounterPunch As schools open throughout the US, one typically ignored question needs to be asked in every classroom: Why have school? Why are we here? Let's step back a moment in order to put school in its proper, social, perspective. Schools are the centripetal organizing point of de-industrialized North American life, and much of life elsewhere. Evidence: School workers, not industrialized workers, are by far the most unionized people in the USA, more than 3.5 million union members. School unions are growing, if slowly, while industrial unions collapse, evaporate, because, in part, industry evaporates, and because industrial union leaders abandoned the heart of unionism - the contradictory interests of workers and employers. Nearly one-half of the youth in high school today will be draft-eligible in the next seven years. What is going on in schools? The demagogue, Obama, invaded US schools with his Race to the Top (RaTT) project personified by Chicago's education huckster Arne Duncan. The RaTT speeds what was already happening in capital's schools and adds a few factors for spice. The RaTT's predecessor, a bi-partisan project touted by Democrats and Republicans alike called the No Child Left Behind Act had at least these key factors: (1) The development of a regimented national curriculum to promote nationalism; (2) High stakes standardized tests to promote segregation and ignorance through with a pretense of scientific backing; and (3) the militarization of schools in poor and working class areas. The RaTT makes logical extensions: . Sharpened demands for a national curriculum in more subjects (beyond literacy and math), . merit pay based on student test scores, . attacks on all forms of tenure (made palatable to the public because they know through experience that there is no shortage of incompetents in schools), . Layoffs, hits on pay and benefits, increases in class size, . Tuition hikes driving youth out of college with razor-like precision, typically rooted in inherited wealth. . Some privatization, but hardly only privatization (the corporate state reflects both the unity and contradictions internal to the ruling classes who have different short term views of profitability). . Calls for national service setting up a syphon for middle class opposition to a draft. . Intensified moves into cities and schools in crisis, like Detroit, demonstrating the contradictory goals of social control and profiteering. . Ruthless competition between school districts and states for limited RaTT reward dollars. . A harsh rule of fear and intimidation sweeping across all of capitalist schooling. Fear seems to be the core emotional value in schools today. What is the social context of school? The education agenda is a class war agenda, and an imperialist war agenda. One begets the other. Let us tick off the emerging realities of our times; the results of the many crises of capital contradicted by the promises of democracy. The coming and recent elections should not only be studied as how voters chose who would most charmingly oppress the majority of the people from the executive committee of the rich, the government. It should be studied, more importantly, as how an element of capitalist democracy, the spectacle of elections, speeded the emergence of fascism as a mass popular force; that is: . the corporate state, the rule of the rich, near complete merger of corporations and government; . the continuation of the suspension of civil liberties (as with renditions); . the attacks on whatever free press there is; . the rise of racism and segregation (in every way, but especially the immigration policies); . the promotion of the fear of sexuality as a question of pleasure (key to creating the inner slave), and the sharpened commodification of women (Sarah Palin to pole dancers); . the governmental/corporate attacks on working peoples' wages and benefits (bailouts to merit pay to wage and benefit concessions); . intensification of imperialist war (sharpening the war in Afghanistan sharpens war on Pakistan which provokes war on Russia, etc, and the US is NOT going to leave Iraq's oil); . the promotion of nationalism (all class unity) by, among others, the union bosses, . teaching people the lie that someone else should interpret reality and act for us, when no one is going to save us but us; . trivializing what is supposed to be the popular will to vile gossip, thus building cynicism - especially the idea that we cannot grasp and change the world, but also debasing whatever may have been left of a national moral sense; . increased mysticism (is it better to vote for a real religious fanatic or people who fake being religious fanatics?); and . incessant attacks on radicals, isolating, discouraging, surveilling, and in some cases jailing those who not only practice radicalism, but who theorize to the root analysis. Capitalist schooling exists within these social rising circumstances Whose schools are these? These are capital's schools. This is, again, a capitalist democracy in which capital dominates democracy at every turn ( bankster bailout, the auto-takeover on behalf of stockholders while auto workers. lives were gutted, empire's wars, etc). Schooling is not education, the latter a "leading out," the former, schooling, a fethishized form of mis-education. The capitalist market necessarily creates pyramid-like inequality, not only in the pocket, but in the mind. Is there a single public school system in the US? Actually, there is not. There are five or six carefully segregated school systems, based mostly on class and race. The image of education in the minds of philanthropic economists is this: "Every worker should learn as many branches of labor as possible so that if...he is thrown out of one branch, he can easily be accommodated in another". (Marx) There is a pre-prison school system in much of Detroit, Michigan or Compton, California; a pre-Walmart system in National City, California; a pre-craft worker system in City Heights, California; a pre-teacher or social worker system in Del Cero, California; a pre-med or pre-law system in Lajolla, California and Birmingham, Michigan; and a completely private school system where rich people send their kids, like George W. Bush or Mitt Romney - or the Obama kids. Rich schools teach different realities using different methods from poor schools. In rich schools the outlook is: "This globe is ours; let us see how we can make it act". In the poorest schools, the outlook is, "Tell me what to do and I will do it". What are schools designed to do? Schools are huge multi-billion dollar markets where profit and loss influences almost everything. Consider the buses, the architects, textbook sales, consultants, the developers for the buildings, the upkeep, the grounds, the sports teams, salaries, etc. Cost is always an issue in school. This is, after all, capitalism (a maneuver drawn from dialectical materialism, abstracting, looking to history - the Church - and locating school in its historical place: capitalist schooling). The average salary for public school teachers in 2006.07 was $50,816, about 3 percent higher than in 1996.97, after adjustment for inflation . Salaries of public school teachers have generally maintained pace with inflation since 1990-91. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2009) Multiply $50,816 by the total number of school workers, above. That's a tidy sum. These relatively good salaries, in comparison to the crash of industrial wages and jobs, served as a bribe to educators, winning them to conducting the child abuse that is high-stakes exams and regimented curricula, for example. But, as economic break-downs caused by overproduction and war evaporated at least some of the ability to make the pay-off - and as school workers became more and more alienated from each other, their communities and students, through those same processes - the bribes and jobs began to vanish - as we witness today. There is, in schools unlike most factories, a tension between elites' desire for social control and profitability. This can be seen in the contradictions within elite groups about the privatization of schools. It can also be seen in the liberal and unionite response to the current school milieu: "Defend Public Education!" This is to defend a myth, on the one hand, to wish to harken back to non-existent halcyon days of schooling when it was not teaching lies, not segregated, and truly public. On the other hand, the false demand is designed to treat schools like middle class job banks, to lure school workers into attempting to tax the rest of the working class to "win," the further mis-education of their children - as did the California Teachers Association in 2009 with a ballot measure that failed, deservedly, by 2/3rds. Better to "Transform Schooling!" or "Rescue Education from the Ruling Classes!" More answers to why have school: Skill and ideological training. Under skill training we might list, of course, "the three r's," along with music, art, athletics, theater, science, etc. That list comes fast and easy. But ideological training is another thing. Ideological grooming would include nationalism (the daily salute to the flag, school spirit, etc.) as well as the training in viewpoints established by teaching distinct curricular substance in the segregated schools, using different methods. Beyond nationalism, one clear purpose of most schooling is to make the system of capital natural, almost invisible, and to present it as the highest, last, stage of human development. Further, students must become so stupefied that they see no real contradiction between nationalism and the other central tenet of capitalist thought: individualism. Me! Education, necessarily a social effort, becomes an individual commodity, often in the form of test scores, used as a weapon for merit pay and, by realtors, to fix home values. The upshot of capitalist schooling is that many students, surrounded by the unsystematic, incoherent, mystical world-views of both the curricula and most teachers, come away learning not to like to learn. Curiosity, a birthright of all children, gets crushed. Parallel to that dubious success, children in exploited areas learn they cannot understand or alter the world. So, people in pacified areas become instruments of their own oppression. Baby-sitting and warehousing kids. Babysitting is a key role played by capitalist schools. One way to find out, .Why have school?. is to experiment; close them. In our case, teacher strikes serve as a good test subject. In school strikes (no sane union shuts down a football program), the first people to begin to complain are usually merchants around middle schools.who get looted. The second group is the parents of elementary students, quickly followed by their employers. (These realities can help demonstrate to elementary educators their potential power along with setting up kids. entire world views). The baby-sitting role is, again, funded by an unjust tax system and serves as a giant boon to companies that refuse to provide day care for their employees.but are able to duck taxes as well. Schools fashion hope: Real and false. On one hand it is clear that societies where hope is foreclosed foster the potential of mass uprisings: France in the summer of 1968 is a good example of what can happen; uprisings starting in school and quickly involving the working classes nearly overthrew the government. Real hope might be found in showing kids we can comprehend and change the world, collectively, and teaching them how. Ask, "Why are things as they are?" every day. Or, in demonstrating that we are responsible for our own histories, but not our birthrights. Must we be lambs among wolves? Does what we do matter? False hope might be the typical school hype: Anyone can make it, all you must do is work hard. Trumpery. Inheritance is, more than ever, the key to understanding social mobility, or immobility. To the contrarians: there is nothing unusual about elites picking off children of the poor, educating them, and turning them back on their birth-communities as a form of more gentle rule. Obama would be one example of such a success. Skanderberg, the Albanian rebel trained by the Turks, would be a failure. Schools create the next generation of workers, warriors, or war supporters. Automatons or rebels, or something in between, a process with some witting direction. Those workers need to be taught to accept hierarchy, to submit, to misread realities like class war and endorse nationalism (school spirit) or racism (segregated schooling products). They need to accept their lot, to be unable to notice why things are as they are; why some live in abundance while others have no work - when there is plenty of work to do - why drudgery is so much part of most jobs. The core project here: obliterate the possibility of class consciousness. What of the resistance. People will fight back because they must. But the traditional organizations of resistance failed both the pedagogical project at hand, that is, teaching people why things are as they are, how to develop strategy and tactics on their own, and the practical project of direct action, control of work places and communities. While people must resist, it is vital they grasp: Why? Let us make another tick-list, this time about the school unions: *No leader of any major union in the US believes that working people and employers have, in the main, contradictory interests, thus wiping out the main reason most people believe they join unions. The bosses (for that is what they are) of the two education unions (the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-AFL-CIO--by far now the largest unions in the USA) openly believe in what former NEA president Bob Chase called "New Unionism," the unity of labor bosses, government, and corporations, "in the national interest". There is nothing new about company unionism, however, nor the corporate state. Company unionism produces spectacles like the AFT, the smaller of the school unions, to invite Bill Gates, dead-set on capitalist schooling, to be the key-note speaker to the 2010 AFT convention. *Union bosses recognize their own opposing interests to the rank and file. The union tops, after all, earn a lot more than school workers. Past NEA president, Reg Weaver, took in $686,949, in his last year of office. Current president, Dennis Van Roekel, will make at least $450,000. Power in the unions is vertical, top-down, perfectly clear in the structure of the AFT, somewhat disguised, but every bit as real in NEA. These mis-leaders who move up fairly slowly through a hierarchy learn a variety of strategies to manipulate people and, "protect the contract". These maneuvers, like grievance procedures, move workers away from the locus of their power, the work place, to geographically distant spaces where "neutral" arbitrators decide on vital issues. But the unions rarely file cases to arbitration and, nevertheless, lose about 2/3 of the cases they file. Union bosses also divert member action to the ballot box - any place away from the job site - where, in the words of one top NEA organizer, "if voting mattered, they wouldn't let us do it". But electoral work keeps member volunteers busy and it reinforces the false notions school workers have about professionalism (professionals set their own hours and wages, they determine the processes of work - teachers typically are called professionals by people asking the workers to buy textbooks for their kids), allowing educators to win hollow "respect," the chance to dress up and rub elbows with Important People, away from school. *Corruption is endemic in the AFT where a steady stream of leaders have been jailed, not only for looting the treasury (Miami, D.C.) but also for child-rape (Broward, Florida). NEA hasn't suffered the kind of dramatic jailings AFT suffers, but, for example, my own boss in Florida, where I worked as an NEA organizer, was convicted of embezzling about $1/4 million from the union. *The school unions draw on a member base that is about 90% white and reflect the racism that such a base inherently creates. Rather than fight to integrate the teaching force, the unions urge more and more "education" classes, adding on expenses for students, meaning those with the least get shaved out with razor sharp precision - by class and race. *The unions, like all US unions, do not unite people, but divide them along lines of job, race, years of tenure, staff and leaders from rank and file, that is, down to the narrowest interest - capital's favorite question: What about me? *Since the mid-1970's, union bosses have supported every measure that elites used to regain control of schools which were, in many cases out of control. The NEA and AFT bosses today support curricular regimentation, high stakes racist exams, the militarization of schooling, merit pay, and charter schools (a key new source of dues income). *The AFT organized the decay and ruin of urban education in the US, while the mostly suburban NEA let urban schooling be devastated, failing to recognize the truth of the old union saw, "an injury to one only goes before an injury to all". That both unions steeped themselves in volumes of forms of racism (racist exams, racist expulsions, racist segregation, etc) should not go unnoticed or excused. *The education unions serve to peddle the wage labor of education workers as a commodity to employers and to guarantee labor peace. In this context, there is a direct trade off: no strikes or job actions in exchange for guaranteed dues income, the check-off. That is precisely the historical origin of the agency shop. It is also a big reason why union bosses obey court injunctions against job actions; threats to the union's bank account, that is, the union staff salaries. *School unions attack the working class as a whole. The most recent example (May 2009) of this was the support the California Teachers Association and the NEA gave to a series of ballot propositions that would have dramatically raised the taxes of poor and working people while leaving corporations and the rich off the hook, again. NEA and CTA combined spent more than $12.2 million dollars on the campaigns, and lost overwhelmingly. CTA-NEA demonstrated to poor and working families that organized teachers are enemies - yet those same people are educators' most important allies. *These are the empire's unions. Top leaders are fully aware that a significant portion of their sky-high pay is made possible by the empires adventures. NEA and AFT bosses work with a variety of international organizations on behalf of US imperialism. These adventures are frequently deadly as with the AFT's unwavering support for Israeli Zionism, support for the recent oil wars, and, precisely to the point, work throughout the world with the National Endowment for Democracy, a Central Intelligence Agency front, in wrecking indigenous leftist worker movements. While the AFT has been the spearhead of US imperialism inside the wholly corrupt "labor movement," NEA has also been deeply involved. There is a long history to this, back to World War I and the AFL's support for that horrific war. The theory behind it: US workers will do better if foreign workers do worse. Unlike the private sector where less than 10% of the people belong to unions, school workers are the most unionized people in the country. It follows that it is important for change agents to be where the people are. But one must keep one toe in and nine toes out of the unions. There are some indications that resistance inside the unions, and out, is rising. In Chicago, a recent election threw out the past, sold-out, union leadership. The CORE caucus organized for months, inside schools but, importantly, in communities among students and parents. New president Karen Lewis may serve as a beacon for future union reformers, should she overcome the temptations of office, the hierarchical union structure, the patch-work nature of the CORE foundations, and the full-scale attack that will be surely launched on CORE over time. The ongoing public workers's strike in South Africa, a true class battle that includes the entire public work force (educators too) versus the Quisling African National Congress government might serves as an inspiration, if any US media covered it. They do not. Word, however, does slip out. On March 4th, 2010, masses of students, school workers, and community people organized under banners that said, "Educate! Agitate! Organize! Strike! Occupy! Teach-in!" Their actions, which included building seizures, express-way sit-downs, walk-outs, rallies, marches, and freedom schooling, varied from area to area but the connection of capitalism/war/racism/class war was made in every case I saw. The organizers then called for similar actions on October 7th and a national conference in San Francisco in late October. In the interim, the expert dis-organizers from the unions, the Democratic Party, and the usual sects showed up. As I write, with radical students only now returning to campuses, the movement veered from its radical beginnings to the reactionary call, "Defend Public Education," and mobilizing to get out the vote - rather like urging people into church where they know their children will be raped, where they are expected to tithe, but it's all for the common good - some day. What can be done now? People can be told that this is capitalism, . that there is a connection between capitalism and imperialism, . that the key reasons for the attacks on working people and schools are rooted in those two, . the education agenda is a class war agenda and an imperialist war agenda, . that the government is an executive committee and armed weapon of the ruling class and there they work out their differences, allowing us to choose which one of them will oppress us best, . that the overwhelming majority of union bosses have chosen the other side in what is surely a class struggle and the union hacks gain from the wars and capital by supporting those wars, winning high pay and benefits, and betraying workers, they're a quisling force, . that we can build a social movement that rejects the barriers US unionism creates, from job category to industry to race and sex and beyond. The core issue of our time is the reality of endless war and rising inequality met by the potential of mass, active class conscious resistance. We can fight to rescue education from the ruling classes Everything negative is in place for a revolutionary transformation of society (distrust of leaders, collapse of moral suasion from the top down, financial crises, lost wars, massive unemployment, booming inequality, imprisonment of only the poor, growing reliance on force to rule, eradication of civil liberties, corruption and gridlock of government at every level, etc.) What is missing is the passion, generalization, organization, and guiding ethic to make that change. Time is short. Rich Gibson, Emeritus Professor of Education at San Diego State University and a co-founder of the education-based Rouge Forum, can be reached at: Rgibson [at] pipeline.com --------11 of 12-------- A World in Collapse? by Alex Doherty September 4th, 2010 Dissident Voice Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas. He is the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity; The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege; and Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity, among other works. He spoke to New Left Project's Alex Doherty about the threat of environmental catastrophe. Alex Doherty: You have written that: "To be fully alive today is to live with anguish, not for one's own condition in the world but for the condition of the world, for a world that is in collapse". Even amongst environmentalists it is rare to describe our situation in such apocalyptic terms. Why do you think it is justified to describe the world as collapsing? Robert Jensen: Take a look at any measure of the fundamental health of the planetary ecosystem on which we are dependent: topsoil loss, chemical contamination of soil and water, species extinction and reduction in biodiversity, the state of the world's oceans, unmanageable toxic waste problems, and climate change. Take a look at the data, and the news is bad on every front. And all of this is in the context of the dramatic decline coming in the highly concentrated energy available from oil and natural gas, and the increased climate disruption that will come if we keep burning the still-abundant coal reserves. There are no replacement fuels on the horizon that will allow a smooth transition. These ecological realities will play out in a world structured by a system of nation-states rooted in the grotesque inequality resulting from imperialism and capitalism, all of which is eroding what is left of our collective humanity. "Collapsing" seems like a reasonable description of the world. That doesn't mean there's a cataclysmic end point coming soon, but this is an apocalyptic moment. The word "apocalypse" does not mean "end". It comes from a Greek word that means "uncovering" or "lifting the veil". This is an apocalyptic moment because we need to lift the veil and have the courage to look at the world honestly. AD: Why do you think many leftists shy away from such language when discussing the environment? RJ: I think not only leftists, but people in general, avoid these realities because reality is so grim. It seems overwhelming to most people, for good reason. So, rather than confront it, people find modes of evasion. One is to deny there's a reason to worry, which is common throughout the culture. The most common evasive strategy I hear from people on the left is "technological fundamentalism" - the idea that because we want high-energy/high-tech solutions that will allow us to live in the style to which so many of us have become accustomed, those solutions will be found. That kind of magical thinking is appealing but unrealistic, for two reasons. First, while the human discoveries of the past few centuries are impressive, they have not been on the scale required to correct the course we're on; we've created problems that have grown beyond our capacity to understand and manage. Second, those discoveries were subsidized by fossil-fuel energy that won't be around much longer, which dramatically limits what we will be able to accomplish through energy-intensive advanced technology. As many people have pointed out, technology is not energy; you don't replace energy with technology. Technology can make some processes more energy-efficient, but it can't create energy out of thin air. I've had many left colleagues tell me that they agree with some or all of my analysis, but that "people aren't ready to hear that yet". I translate that to mean, "I'm not ready to hear that yet". I think a lot of leftists displace their own fear of confronting these difficult realities onto "the masses," when in fact they can't face it. The other factor is that truly crazy end-times talk, which comes primarily from reactionary religious sources, leads many people to reflexively dismiss any talk of collapse. So, it's important to be clear: I'm not predicting the end of world on a specific date. I'm not predicting anything. I'm simply describing what some of us believe to be the most likely trajectory of the high-energy/high-tech society in which we live. And I'm suggesting that we keep this trajectory in mind as we pursue left/feminist critiques of hierarchy and domination, in the hope that more egalitarian and humane models for human organization can help us deal with collapse. AD: Given the severity of the situation you are describing what are the implications for left activism? Should other forms of activism be abandoned in order to focus on the threat of climate change? How realistic are proposals for alternative economic systems such as green bio-regionalism or participatory economics in the context of climate catastrophe? RJ: First, I think every political project - whether it is focused on labor organizing, resistance to white supremacy, women's rights, anti-war activity - has to include an ecological component. That doesn't mean everyone has to shift focus, but I think there is no meaningful politics that doesn't recognize the fragility of our situation and the likelihood that the most vulnerable people (both in the United States and around the world) are going to bear the brunt of the ecological decline. A responsible left/feminist politics should connect the dots whenever and wherever possible. Here's one obvious example: U.S. imperial wars, born of a patriarchal system, are waged to support corporate interests in the most crucial energy-producing regions of the world, which are predominantly non-white. Resistance to those wars requires a critique of male dominance, white supremacy, capitalism, and the affluent First-World lifestyles that numb people to the reality that they are morally implicated in these wars. Those wars are dramatically escalating the intensity and potential destructiveness of the coming collapse. Concern for justice and ecological sustainability demands an anti-war and anti-empire politics. There is no way to focus on one aspect of an injustice without understanding these intersections. Second, more than ever, "let a hundred flowers blossom". When we know so little about what's coming, it's best if people pursue a variety of strategies that they feel drawn to. In Austin, I'm working primarily with one group that advocates for immigrant workers (Workers Defense Project) and another that helps people start worker-owned cooperative businesses (Third Coast Workers for Cooperation). Neither group is focused specifically on the ecological crises, but there's incredible energy and ideas in these groups, and they create spaces for advancing a coordinated critique of capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy, all with an understanding of the ecological stakes. Maybe it's natural for people to want to believe that they have hit on the solution to a problem, but I believe that the problems are complex beyond our understanding, and it's not only unlikely that there's a single solution but there may be no solutions at all - if by "solution" we mean a way to continue human existence on the planet at its current level. We need experiments on every front that help us imagine new ways of being. AD: Lately you have been writing about the way people react emotionally to the reality of climate change. Why do you believe that is an important topic? What is your emotional response to humanities current predicament? What reactions have you seen in others? RJ: It's not just climate change, of course, but the multiple ecological crises. Anyone who is paying attention is bound to have some kind of emotional response. I think emotions are important because we are emotional animals. It really is that simple. How can we confront the end of the systems that have structured our lives and not have powerful emotional reactions? Yes, we have well-developed rational capacities, but in the end we are animals who feel as much, or more, than we think. And if thinking and feeling are not wholly separate processes but are part of the way people understand the world, it is folly not to pay attention to our emotional reactions. None of this should be confused with the apolitical therapy culture that dominates in the United States. I'm not talking about emotions separate from politics, but the emotions that flow from political engagement. To borrow a phrase from a friend, I wake up every morning in a state of profound grief. We humans have been given a privileged place in a world that is beautiful beyond description, and we are destroying it and destroying each other. I cope with that by building temporary psychological damns and dikes to hold back that grief. But the emotion comes so powerfully from so many different directions that life feels like a process of constantly patching and moving and rebuilding those damns and dikes. Some of this is intensely personal, but for me the political work is a crucial part of that coping process. If I weren't politically active, I would lose my mind. The only way I know how to cope is to use some of my energy in collective efforts to try to build something positive. There is a lot of individual variation in the human species, which means there will be lots of different reactions as the reality of our predicament sets in. I worry that in a society like the United States, where so many have lived for so long with abundance and a sense of entitlement, people won't be able to face up to the dramatic changes that are inevitable. That could lead people to accept greater levels of hierarchy and authority if political leaders promise to protect that affluence. In that case, people's inability to deal with the emotions that arise out of awareness of collapse could usher in an era of even more unjust distribution of wealth and resources in an even more violent world. The only way to combat that is to talk openly about what we see coming and work to create conditions that allow us to rely on the best of our nature, not the worst. AD: You dismiss the possibility of technological solutions to climate change but given the severity of the crises we are facing do we not have a duty to try everything we can to avert disaster? Shouldn't we be ramping up research into alternate fuels and renewable energy resources? What about geo-engineering as way to avert the worst effects of climate change? RJ: I don't dismiss the relevance of advanced technology to sensible policy proposals. I do dismiss the claim that because we want to solve problems with technology we will invent that technology, and that it will be safe and not cause new problems. I reject that because it strikes me as a fantasy that ignores history and diverts us from the reality of the present. So, yes, we have that duty, and I support serious investment in alternative energy. My concern is that the culture's technological fundamentalism leaves people vulnerable to scams. The first step is to recognize we are all going to live in a lower-energy world fairly soon, and that means a massive shift in how we live in the First World. There is no replacement for that fossil energy, and we had better come to terms with that. When we don't recognize that, we are more easily suckered into absurd schemes like the tar sands in Canada, which is an ecological disaster. The same for biofuels and the absurd claim that we can sustainably replace fossil fuels with ethanol, which is also an ecological loser. Geo-engineering goes a step beyond that, into real insanity. Proposals to manipulate the planetary ecosystem through schemes like putting reflective particles into the atmosphere, or mirrors in space to deflect sunlight, or altering the clouds - all of them prove that we haven't learned the most important lesson of the industrial era. We have not learned, as Wes Jackson puts it, that we are far more ignorant than we are knowledgeable. We have a history of imagining that our knowledge is adequate to manage major interventions into the ecosystem, leaving us to face the unintended consequences of those interventions. At this point, there is no rational approach to the ecological crises that doesn't start with this recognition: We are going to live in a low-energy world that is powered primarily by contemporary sunlight, not the ancient energy of fossil fuels. As a society we are not prepared, in terms of either physical infrastructure or cultural awareness, to deal with that. Anything that further delays coming to terms with this reality is a threat to life on the planet, not a solution. AD: In a recent talk you said that "I am glad to see the end of most of what we have come to call 'the good life,' for it never struck me as all that good, at least not for most people and other living things". In what respects do you think contemporary capitalism has failed to meet the needs of even the most privileged sectors of western societies? RJ: Capitalism is the most wildly productive economic system in history, but the one thing it cannot produce is meaning. Even more troubling is the way, through its promotion of narcissism and mindless consumption, that capitalism undermines the larger culture's ability to create real meaning. Virtually all of what is good in society - solidarity, compassion, creativity, ethics, joy - comes from outside capitalism, giving the illusion that capitalism is a civilized system. It's a cliche, but important enough that we sing it over and over: Money can't buy you love. Capitalism cannot create a healthy human community, and it undermines the aspect of human nature rooted in solidarity and love. The other obvious failure of capitalism is its contribution to the erosion of the health of the ecosystem. Humans have been drawing down the ecological capital of the planet since the invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, but that process has intensified dramatically in the capitalist/imperialist/industrial era. Our culture is filled with talk about the success of capitalism even though that system degrades our relationships and threatens our existence. That's an odd definition of success. AD: Are there any writers on this topic whose work you would like to recommend? RJ: Wes Jackson is one of my most trusted sources on these issues. Wes is a scientist working in research on sustainable agriculture, but his critique encompasses politics, economics, and culture. His new book, Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture, is due out this fall, and I'm looking forward to reading. I think Bill McKibben's latest book, Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, is important, though I think his faith in the power of the internet to help us through the transition is dangerously naive. William Catton's books Overshoot and Bottleneck have also helped me come to terms with reality. In addition to the ecological questions, I think we also have to keep focused on the political and cultural questions, about how the existing distribution of wealth and power are serious impediments to meaningful change. That means continuing to think about the predatory nature of empire and capitalism, and the degree to which patriarchy and white supremacy structure our world and undermine our capacity to be fully human. Alex Doherty has written for ZNet, Counterpunch, and the New Standard. He can be reached at: alexjamesdoherty [at] gmail.com. --------12 of 12-------- ------------------------- Krapitalism Uber Alles! ------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress for governor now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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