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Gender: Female
Hometown: Wisconsin
Current location: Tejas
Member since: Thu Jan 17, 2008, 01:44 PM
Number of posts: 31,869

About Me

The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman

Journal Archives

Gendering Radicalism

by: Tony Pecinovsky
August 28 2015

Slutsky's Gendering Radicalism is a good read. Whitney, Healy and Alexander's stories deserve to be told and retold, as their stories are in many ways also the stories of the California Communist Party. By highlighting these courageous lives, Slutsky humanizes the party. She paints a nuanced picture of an organization and its individual members deeply rooted in the American radical tradition, warts and all.

The history of American communism, while contested, is a central component of 20th-century U.S. history. Arguably, we cannot write about 20th-century U.S. history without writing about the Communist Party. Similarly, we cannot write about 20th-century California without writing about the California Communist Party - or the three generations of women leaders who led the California CP from its birth until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Beth Slutsky's new book Gendering Radicalism: Women and Communism in Twentieth-Century California does just that. By focusing on the lives of three remarkable women communists, their trials and tribulations, the victories and defeats, Slutsky places their lives squarely within the context of the times. She not only tells their story. She tells the party's story - as well as the story of the broader movements for social and economic justice, of which the party was a key component.

Slutsky first focuses on Charlotte Anita Whitney (1867-1955), a well-to-do suffragist, women's rights advocate, socialist and - eventually - founding member of the Communist Party USA ...

More here: http://peoplesworld.org/gendering-radicalism-tells-important-story-of-women-and-communism/

How the Free Market Killed New Orleans by M. Parenti

Michael Parenti posted on Facebook with the comment that it could be shared. Because it is the best thing I've seen written on Hurricane Katrina I am doing so. Thanks to Starry Messenger because I viewed it first through her facebook page -

Michael Parenti
21 hrs ·

It is ten years since Hurricane Katrina pounced upon New Orleans. Below is an article I wrote soon after---reprinted in CONTRARY NOTIONS: THE MICHAEL PARENTI READER---and reproduced here to counter the blather offered by the media over the last few days:


The free market played a crucial role in the 2005 destruction of New Orleans and the death of thousands of its residents. Forewarned that a momentous category 5 hurricane might hit that city and surrounding areas, what did officials do? They played the free market. They announced that everyone should evacuate. All were expected to devise their own way out of the disaster area by private means, just like people do when disaster hits free-market Third World countries.

It is a beautiful thing this free market in which every individual pursues his or her own private interests and thereby effects an optimal outcome for the entire society. Thus does Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” work its wonders in mysterious ways.

In New Orleans there would be none of the regimented collectivist evacuation as occurred in Cuba. When a powerful category 5 hurricane hit that island in 2004, the Castro government, abetted by neighborhood citizen committees and local Communist Party cadres, evacuated some 1.5 million people, more than 10 percent of the country’s population. The Cubans lost 20,000 homes to that hurricane---but not a single person was killed, a heartening feat that went largely unmentioned in the U.S. press.

On Day One of Hurricane Katrina, 29 August 2005, it was already clear that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans had perished in New Orleans. Many people had “refused” to evacuate, media reporters explained, because they were just plain “stubborn.”

It was not until Day Three that well-paid telecasters began to realize that tens of thousands of people had failed to flee because they had nowhere to go and no means of getting there. With hardly any cash at hand, and over 100,000 people without cars of their own, many had to sit tight and hope for the best. In the end, the free market did not work so well for them.

Many of these people were low-income African Americans, along with fewer numbers of poor whites. It should be remembered that most of them had jobs before the flood hit them. That’s what most poor people do in this country: they work, usually quite hard at dismally paying jobs, sometimes more than one job at a time. They are poor not because they’re lazy but because they are paid poverty wages while burdened by high prices, high rents, and regressive taxes.

The free market played a role in other ways. President G.W. Bush’s agenda was to cut government services to the bone and make people rely on the private sector for the things they might need. He cut $30 million in flood control appropriations. He sliced an additional $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. Plans to fortify New Orleans levees and upgrade the system of pumping out water had to be shelved.

Personnel with the Army Corps of Engineers had started building new levees several years before Hurricane Katrina, but many of them were taken off such projects and sent to Iraq, where they were needed to assist the empire in its wars.

It was not actually the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans. Katrina swerved and hit parts of Mississippi much harder. For New Orleans most of the destruction was caused by the flood that came when the levees broke, a flood that had long been feared by many.

On Day Three Bush took to the airwaves, and said in a live TV interview, “I don’t think anyone anticipated that breach of the levees.” Just another untruth tumbling from his lips. The catastrophic flooding of New Orleans had been foreseen by storm experts, engineers, Louisiana journalists, state officials, and even some federal agencies. All sorts of people had been predicting disaster for years, pointing to the danger of rising water levels and the need to strengthen the levees and pumps, and fortify the entire coastland. Bush chose not to listen.

In their campaign to starve out the public sector, the Bushite reactionaries allowed developers to drain vast areas of wetlands. Again, that old invisible hand of the free market was expected to take care of things. By pursuing their own private profit, the developers would supposedly devise outcomes that would benefit us all. But the Louisiana wetlands serve as a natural absorbent and barrier between New Orleans and the storms riding in from across the sea. And for some years now, the wetlands have been disappearing at a frightening pace on the Gulf‘ coast. All this was of no concern to the reactionaries in the White House.

This brings us to another way that the free market helped destroy New Orleans. By relying almost entirely on fossil fuel as an energy source—far more expensive and therefore more profitable than solar, tidal, or wind power---the free market has been a great contributor to global warming. Global warming, in turn, has caused a drastic rise in sea levels. And rising sea levels have been destroying the protective fringe of barrier islands and coastal marshlands along the Louisiana coast. “Every year,” reported the New York Times “another 25 square miles, an area roughly the size of Manhattan, sinks quietly beneath the waves. In some places, the [Louisiana] coastline has receded 15 miles from where it was in the 1920s.”

Global warming also adds to the ferocity of storms. The warmer waters and warmer air create greater evaporation and allow for greater accumulation as the hurricane passes over the waters gathering strength and momentum. So Katrina went from a category 3 to a category 5 as it came across the Caribbean and into the Gulf of Mexico. A year after Katrina the Bush administration blocked the release of a revealing report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report suggests that global warming is contributing to the increasing strength and frequency of hurricanes. We can guess why the White House would want to suppress that kind of information.

As for the widely criticized rescue operation, free-marketeers like to say that relief to the more unfortunate among us should be left to private effort. It was a favorite preachment of President Ronald Reagan that private charity can do the job. For many crucial days that indeed seemed to be the policy with the flooding of New Orleans. The federal government was nowhere in sight but the Salvation Army began to muster its troops, as did many other organizations. Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network---taking a moment off from God’s work of pushing the nomination of conservative jurist John Roberts to the Supreme Court---called for donations and announced “Operation Blessing” which consisted of a highly-publicized but totally inadequate shipment of canned goods and Holy Bibles to the hurricane victims.

The Red Cross went into action, in its own peculiar way. Its message: “Don’t send food or blankets; send money.” Apparently the Red Cross preferred to buy its own blankets and food. It received over $800 million in three weeks after the catastrophe but had failed to distribute most of it. A caravan of doctors and nurses from Ohio, laden with medical supplies for about seven thousand people, reached the Coliseum in New Orleans only to be told by the Red Cross that they were not needed. They were turned away even though the medical personnel within the Coliseum kept asking for help.

By Day Three even the usually myopic media began to realize the immense failure of the rescue operation. People were dying because relief had not arrived. Especially victimized were the infants, the elderly, the infirm, and others needing special medical attention. The authorities seemed more concerned with the looting than with rescuing people, more concerned with “crowd control,” which consisted of forcing thousands to stay pent up in barren areas devoid of minimal amenities or proper shelter. The police, state troopers, National Guardsmen, and U.S. Army personnel spent more time patrolling and pointing their guns at people than rescuing or otherwise helping them.

Questions arose that the free market seemed incapable of answering: Who was in charge of the rescue operation? Why so few helicopters and just a small force of Coast Guard crews? Why did it take helicopters five hours to lift six people out of one hospital? When would the rescue operation gather some steam? Where were the feds? Where were the buses and trucks? the shelters and portable toilets? The medical supplies and water? How was it that newscasters could get in and out of flood areas but rescuers and supplies could not?

And where was Homeland Security? What had Homeland Security done with the $33.8 billions allocated to it for fiscal 2005? By Day Four, almost all the major media were reporting that the federal government’s response was “a national disgrace.” Meanwhile George Bush finally made his photo-op shirtsleeve appearance in a few well-chosen disaster areas before romping off to play golf.

By the end of the first week, as if to demonstrate that reality is irrelevant, various free-market bloggers were already claiming ideological victory. They argued that the failure to deal with the crisis is proof that “government is inept; it doesn’t work.” It was private individuals, charities, and corporations that pitched in to help. It was Wal-Mart that sent in three trailer trucks loaded with water, and it was the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of Homeland Security, that turned them away. It was private families that took the refugees into their homes, while government herded them into the Superdome.

Overlooked here is that the great outpouring of aid from private citizens, as heartening as it was, did nothing to address the problems of flood and storm, evacuation, public safety, community security, long term individual care, rehabilitation, and infrastructure reconstruction.

To be sure, government does not work--certainly not when it is in the hands of reactionaries who have no desire to see it work. New Orleans was victimized by those rightwing ideologues who oppose the idea that government can be a salutary force in regard to social needs and human services. The White House reactionaries would be quite content to demonstrate that government is not to be counted on when it comes to helping communities (especially low-income and ethnic minority communities that are Democratic strongholds). Thus Washington took four days to respond to requests that National Guard units from other states be allowed into Louisiana.

For all their inertia, FEMA officials played a chillingly active role in sabotaging the delivery of aid, turning away supply convoys, and warehousing or giving the runaround to the many volunteer rescue units that poured in from other states. The community organizations, churches, and other grassroots groups that took in and fed thousands of people received not a dollar of reimbursement, neither from the Red Cross nor FEMA.

Of course, it should not go unnoticed that the White House reactionaries are selective free marketeers. They want to dismantle human services, get rid of public schools, public housing, and public health facilities; and they want to abolish the government’s regulatory role in the corporate economy. But they also want to extend government power into other areas. They want more power to carry out surveillance, classify official information, control private morals, vaporize civil liberties, and suppress public protest. They want plenty of government involvement when it comes to massive public subsidies and contracts for corporate America, limitless expansion of armaments and military technology, and perpetual overseas intervention. It is the victory of empire over republic. Government is not there to serve the people. The people are there to serve government.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in a moment of touching irony, foreign aid was tendered by almost fifty countries, including many poorer ones such as the Dominican Republic, Honduras, India, Pakistan, Russia, and Thailand. By Day Seven, Mexico had sent army convoys and a navy ship laden with food, supplies, and specialists. German cargo planes came in with ready-to-eat meals and a German officer who openly expressed his concern that the meals might not reach the people in need. (He must have been watching the news.)

Cuba--which has a record of sending doctors to dozens of countries, including a thankful Sri Lanka during the tsunami disaster---offered almost 1600 doctors and loads of medical supplies. Meanwhile Venezuela offered one million barrels of gasoline, $5 million in cash, water purification plants, and 50 tons of canned foods and water.

Predictably, the offers from Cuba and Venezuela were rejected by the U.S. State Department. And as of Day Ten, the Bush administration had nothing to say about the vast array of supplies offered by all the other countries. People throughout the world, having seen all the television images, were beginning to think that perhaps America really was not paradise on earth. Eventually a few grudging thanks were heard from the White House. But what a deflating and insulting role reversal that America was taking aid from the likes of Mexico or anyone else. America the Beautiful and Powerful, America the Supreme Rescuer and World Leader, America the Purveyor of Global Prosperity most certainly would not accept foreign aid from a Third-World communist “failure” such as Cuba. But eventually aid sent by capitalist Honduras, capitalist Thailand and other capitalist nations was allowed in.

Postscript. To confirm the worst that has been said above, let us note that a year after the Katrina disaster, very little assistance was reaching the displaced working poor of New Orleans, most of whom were renters. An estimated 60 to 80 percent of rental units in the city were either destroyed or heavily damaged. Most of these had been occupied by low- and middle-income families. Billions in housing aid was pouring in but the bulk of it was slated for homeowners. Rents skyrocketed an average of almost 40 percent across the city in the year after Hurricane Katrina. Many lower-income residents were priced out of the market. The longer that rental properties rotted in the Louisiana heat and humidity, the more difficult they were to restore. In some areas homeowners were attempting to use the recovery process to rid their neighborhoods of long-standing apartment buildings that were damaged during the storm. “The renters of New Orleans, it seems, are on their own.”

A native of New Orleans, Jill Pletcher, wrote to me: “The conditions here--the city itself--is in shambles. Rats and trash in all the ‘off-touristy’ places, which is most of New Orleans. It's not the New Orleans I grew-up in. The dirty brown lines 18 feet high on the sides of familiar buildings where water sat for two weeks is a sickening sight and reminder of a national atrocity---and one that people now smirk at while they express their ‘Katrina fatigue.’”

What the Katrina disaster demonstrated so clearly was that the White House reactionaries had neither the desire nor the decency to provide for ordinary citizens, not even those in dire straits. In the aftermath of the hurricane, I heard someone complain, “Bush is trying to save the world when he can’t even take care of his own people here at home.” Not quite true. He certainly does take very good care of his own people, that tiny fraction of one percent, the superrich. It’s just that the working people of New Orleans are not part of his crowd.

~The End~

Tearing Down the Walls

Stonewall marked a sharp break from the past and a qualitative turning point in the gay movement — not only because of the continuous rioting in the streets against police, but because activists were able to seize the moment and give an organized expression to the spontaneous uprising that encapsulated the militancy of the era. While the homophile movement made steady, if limited, progress throughout the 1950s and ’60s and laid the basis for the gay liberation movement, Stonewall broke the dam of political and social isolation and catapulted the gay movement out from the margins and into the open.

Activists didn’t waste a minute. Before the riots even finished, homophile militants Charles Pitts and Bill Katzenberg created a flyer and distributed it to thousands of Village residents. It read, “Do you think homosexuals are revolting? You bet your sweet ass we are!” and described the Stonewall Rebellion as the “The hairpin drop heard around the world.”

Michael Brown, a gay socialist involved in the New Left who was at Stonewall and helped Pitts and Katzenberg pass out their flyers, reached out to the Mattachine Society after the first night of rioting in the hopes of calling for an organizing meeting to tap into the new momentum ...

Tearing Down the Walls

The story of the Stonewall Rebellion and the rise of the gay liberation movement.
by Keegan O'Brien 8-20-15

Forty-six years ago patrons at the Stonewall Inn, a popular New York City gay bar, fought back against abusive police, and in doing so launched the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement.

With the historic Supreme Court ruling in June declaring gay marriage the law of the land in all fifty states, it’s undeniable that we’ve come a long way from a time when cops routinely raided gay bars, and being outed virtually guaranteed a person would be labeled a sexual psychopath, blacklisted, and legally barred from employment in most occupations. It’s no exaggeration that many of the freedoms experienced by queer people today would have been inconceivable just a generation or two ago.

However, LGBTQ people still face oppression: a lack of protection in employment and housing, youth homelessness, bullying and high suicide rates, violence against trans women (disproportionally trans women of color), incarceration, police brutality, and poverty. Mainstream LGBTQ organizations (what some radicals refer to as Gay Inc.) are tied to corporate America and prefer to cozy up to the political establishment rather than confront it ...


Bernie and Marijuana Legalization

One of the key issues in this election will be marijuana legalization — and Bernie Sanders is getting the attention of those who say it’s time. He’s addressed the U.S. “war on drugs” a few times already, and it looks as though groups fighting for the right to toke are beginning to move in his support. Added to other key support Sanders has received, this may be a deciding factor in this election.

Bernie Sanders’ official policy on drugs, as expressed on his campaign site, is that the war on drugs is the new prohibition, and like the previous one, it has failed. He cites votes for medical legalization, and against military force in preventing drug trafficking.

He calls the current laws ineffective and a means to imprison nonviolent offenders, and for addiction, he proposes access to treatment, rather than punishment. Aside from medical use, Sanders has a cautious approach on marijuana: he says he’d want to observe how things go in states that have legalized recreational use like Colorado, and move forward accordingly — in due time.

Sanders has spoken publicly about his longstanding feeling that marijuana is a low priority — according to the Denver Post, he has said that police “[have] more important things to do” than making arrests for drug use ...

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/2350989/marijuana-legalization-advocates-throw-support-behind-bernie-sanders/#iS9YmMFPPqjlo5CW.99

Bernie channeling FDR today -

Only 28 minutes in, thousands of likes and shares ...

Bernie Sanders
28 mins ·

Let me tell my Republican colleagues that I respectfully disagree with their approach. Instead of cutting Social Security, we need to expand Social Security benefits. Instead of cutting head start and childcare, we need to move to a universal pre-k system for all the children of this country. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded us: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” And that is a test that we as a nation must once again meet and master.
8.7k Likes 174 Comments 1.5k Shares

Racial Wealth Gap Persists Despite Degree, Study Says

AUG. 16, 2015

“Prior family wealth is the key,” Mr. Darity explained in an email, noting that it “shapes both income-generating opportunities and the capacity to allow wealth to grow more wealth.”

Even with tuition shooting up, the payoff from a college degree remains strong, lifting lifelong earnings and protecting many graduates like a Teflon coating against the worst effects of economic downturns.

But a new study has found that for black and Hispanic college graduates, that shield is severely cracked, failing to protect them from both short-term crises and longstanding challenges.

“The long-term trend is shockingly clear,” said William R. Emmons, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and one of the authors of the report. “White and Asian college grads do much better than their counterparts without college, while college-grad Hispanics and blacks do much worse proportionately.”

A college degree has long been recognized as a great equalizer, a path for minorities to help bridge the economic chasm that separates them from whites. But the report, scheduled to be released on Monday, raises troubling questions about the ability of a college education to narrow the racial and ethnic wealth gap ...

More here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/business/racial-wealth-gap-persists-despite-degree-study-says.html

Julian Bond - Agitate

Remembering Julian Bond -

Shortly after Fidel Castro's rise to power in Cuba, Julian Bond visited that country to witness, first-hand, the effects of Castro's revolution. Decades later, in a 2006 interview, Bond would recall: “I first visited Cuba in the spring of 1959 ... with three college friends.... The truth was we were enchanted by the revolution. Our newspapers had carried stories about President Castro’s triumphant entry into Havana. He and his colleagues were all young, as were we—I was 19—and we found something appealing in their story and their victory. This last trip [in November 2006] simply reinforced my admiration for the Cuban people and the society they are building.”

In 1971 Bond returned to Morehouse College to complete his undergraduate studies, earning a bachelor's degree in English.

Also in 1971, Bond collaborated with Morris Dees to co-found the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bond became the organization's first president, and he continues to sit on its board of directors to this day.

In 1973 Bond was an “initiator” of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, forerunner of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Other notable initiators included Heather Booth, John Conyers, and Ron Dellums. Bond went on to become a member of DSA.

Shortly after a 1974 pro-communist military coup in Portugal, Bond and more than eighty fellow American leftists sent a cablegram to to the Portugese Armed Forces Movement, Portugese President Francisco da Costa Gomes, and Portugese socialist leader Mario Soares, expressing the hope that “democratic freedoms … will continue to grow in Portugal.” Other signers of that letter included Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Daniel Ellsburg, Michael Harrington, Herbert Marcuse, and Paul Sweezy.

In the reports from the New York Times and others you will only read about Mr. Bond's establishment activities later in life -

... a former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a charismatic figure of the 1960s civil rights movement, a lightning rod of the anti-Vietnam War campaign and a lifelong champion of equal rights for minorities, died on Saturday night, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was 75.

But DSA always appreciated his courage and hard work in fighting the inequality he witnessed:

In 1993 the Democratic Socialists of America's Eugene V. Debs/Norman Thomas/Michael Harrington Dinner Committee, named in honor of three prominent American socialists, presented Bond with an award at its annual dinner banquet. The award specifically cited Bond's “lifetime as a leader in the movement for social justice.”

We here in the Socialists Progressives group mourn our comrade, Horace Julian Bond.


Turning the Democratic Party Upside Down

Some nice comments about Bernie in here ... even though I definitely do NOT share their enthusiasm for Joe Biden.

The Rise Of Bernie Sanders Has Turned The Democratic Party Upside Down
By: Jason Easley
Friday, August, 14th, 2015, 12:30 pm

It isn’t a coincidence that as Bernie Sanders is being forced to move to a bigger New Hampshire campaign headquarters due to increasing popularity, Democrats are actively searching for more serious candidates to enter the 2016 field.

The Sanders campaign is so popular in New Hampshire that they have to move to a bigger headquarters. Kurt Ehrenberg, the New Hampshire coordinator for the Sanders campaign, told The Washington Post, “We’re ramping up our campaign. We’re hiring new staff every day. We’re opening new offices. Things are going extremely well….Our volunteers don’t just want to come out and see the candidate. They actually want to work for Bernie because Bernie instills this terrific enthusiasm in them.”

While Sanders continues to grow both organizationally and attendance wise, other Democrats see Hillary Clinton as a vulnerable frontrunner and are worried about what the Sanders rise might mean for November 2016.

Some Democrats are clearly fishing for another established candidate to enter the Democratic race. There was a brief flirtation around Al Gore, but that was quickly squashed. Most of the serious chatter is coming from supporters of Vice President Biden ...

More here: http://www.politicususa.com/2015/08/14/rise-bernie-sanders-turned-democratic-party-upside.html

Slavery Is Theft

Abolitionists gave us the vital idea that some things should not be for sale. by james oakes 8-13-15

The debate over slavery was always, at bottom, a debate about property rights. Abolitionists were revolutionaries for their time, but not socialists: they did not demand the abolition of property as such. But they denied that any person had a legitimate right to hold property in another person.

When abolitionists denounced slavery as “theft,” they had two different kinds of robbery in mind. One was the day-by-day, year-by-year, theft of the fruits of the slave’s labor. But they were also thinking of a different, more fundamental kind of theft. Human beings own themselves, as a natural right, a right of property, abolitionists argued. So when masters claimed slaves as their own they were effectively robbing the slaves of their property in themselves.

< snip >

In and of itself the defense of property does not explain what kind of property is at stake in any particular conflict. The debate over slavery makes this clear. What needs to be explained, if we are to explain the Civil War, is why one particular form of property — slave property — became so disreputable as to warrant destruction.

Every historian knows that abolitionism, somehow, cleared the path for the triumph of wage labor. The struggle over slavery forced its opponents to specify the difference between the illegitimate sale of an entire human being and the “legitimate” sale of one’s labor power. When Frederick Douglass denounced his Baltimore master for robbing him of his weekly wages and when he said that his new life as a free man began the day he received his first honest wage working on the docks of New Bedford, he was dramatizing the difference between slavery and free labor ...

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/08/slavery-abolition-lincoln-oakes-property/

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