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

About Me

The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman

Journal Archives

What's the Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

< snip>

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

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

What is class?

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Republicans win control of Senate

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

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

< snip >

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

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

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

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

Congressional Seats Sell for Record Four Billion Dollars

Borowitz Report
Today 11:43 am
By Andy Borowitz

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

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

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

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

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

(well, sort of ...)

Education, Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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