Tag: struggle

A statement from a section of the French workers

What I have copied over the fold is a declaration issued recently by a self organized group of French workers, a statement of solidarity and strategy in the face of the global neoliberal push (putsch?) for “austerity”.  They call for global resistance based on the following principles:  

– We can take control of our own struggles and organise collectively.

– We can discuss together openly and fraternally, we can speak freely with each other.

– We can control of our own discussions and our own decisions.

Can the workers of the world unite?

Slow Wheel, Fleeting Wheel

Crossposted from The Wild Wild Left

February 1, 2023

My Love,

The wheels of human history turn slowly, while our lives spin all too briefly. My turn is now ending, my love, another snowflake turned to rain in the freefall, again to soak the Earth on a warm spring day.


We thought we were making history, in those days of our youth. I cannot say we did, I cannot say we did not. Perhaps you still are.

I have to remember that to those of us who lived through the Dark Ages, it seemed reality eternal, to those of us who lived through the invasions of the Huns, that life would never return to goodness and light. Eternities of unrelenting oppression in our firefly lives.

It is worthy to note, those eras passed too and progress inched along in fits and starts completely generated by, and with no regard for, the grain of sand lives that passed beneath the behemoth wheels of our histories.

Lives such as ours.

On the possibility of a class coalition

This diary hopes to explore the possibility of a class coalition, in anticipation of the class battle which can be expected around “entitlement reform.”  First I introduce the topic, then I define “social class,” and lastly I discuss what sort of class coalition we need in this era.

(now up at Orange!)

Obama and the New Terrain of Battle, Part 2: The Roadblock

This is the part 2 of a longish piece I finished right before the the inauguration. You can catch Part 1 here or the whole thing over at Fire on the Mountain, where there are a couple interesting comments. Part 3, up here tomorrow, will address the economic meltdown.

A Roadblock for the Anti-War Movement

The exception to this generally very favorable climate for struggle is unfortunately a crucial one: the wars of aggression the US government is locked into in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The anti-war movement has been the single most powerful opposition force in this country during the last six and a half years. The fact that 70% plus of the American people want the war over with, and pronto, owes much to the tireless and thankless work of tens of thousands of anti-war activists. In fact, the coalescing of broad popular sentiment against the war was perhaps the single most important factor in the Democratic Party’s 2006 victories and 2008 landslide.

The problem facing the anti-war movement now is a grimly ironic one. Despite its enormous contributions to the changed political atmosphere in this country, the movement’s demands –Stop the War! Bring The Troops Home Now!–seem today most unlikely to be met by the Obama administration.

The brutal underlying contradiction remains what it has been since the invasion of Iraq–the US ruling class cannot afford to stay in Iraq and they cannot afford to leave. To stay is to extend an insanely costly occupation indefinitely, in the face of popular hatred, with chaos always around the corner and the sketchiest prospects for a stable hegemony. To leave is to give up the prospect of a US hand on the world’s second largest oil spigot and to accept a drastic defeat for US military power and geostrategy.

We are left with two unknowns about Obama’s intentions regarding these wars, and one known.

Unknown #1 is how far he will go toward pulling out of Iraq. Obama’s goal, in practice, appears to be to finesse the contradiction, by pulling out a majority of the US troops and reducing the combat role of the tens of thousands who will remain. This risks further undercutting US ability to dictate what happens in Iraq, while leaving US troops, bases and other assets more vulnerable to insurgent attack or the re-eruption of civil war between Iraqi forces.

Unknown #2 is how far he will go in honoring his pledge to win in Afghanistan. The pledge was made, and repeated incessantly, to make Obama look tough and highlight the Bush administration’s failure to hunt down al-Qaeda’s leadership. Still, Afghanistan doesn’t have the same strategic importance to the US as Iraq and there are excuses aplenty to step back–corruption in Kabul, NATO allies pulling out, the need to conserve funds and rebuild the military.

The thing which we do know is a simple fact of political life: whatever his intentions, inside of six months, these wars will be Obama’s wars, not Bush’s wars.

It is remotely possible that he will actively try to end them both, but there has been no sign of this since Election Day. Appointees of his in the State Department,the national security apparatus and the military are all publicly saying that a too-rapid withdrawal from Iraq is risky and impractical. Continuing the occupation of Iraq or even dragging out its end will continue the bleeding, actual and economic, there and here.

Moving to double down in Afghanistan threatens major catastrophe. There are reasons that Afghanistan is called the Graveyard of Empires–25 centuries worth of reasons.

All of this leaves the anti-war movement off balance, with hard choices before it.

Should the anti-war movement attack Obama now, or not? There are some in the liberal wing of the movement who, in a touching combination of wishful thinking and denial, want to give him a long honeymoon as a chance to follow through on his promises. Most activists are far more skeptical.

Very sensibly, though, most are also reluctant to launch an all-out assault on him and risk alienating the great swaths of his ardent supporters who so far still believe that he will bring the occupation of Iraq to a close, who will keep believing it so long as troop levels are falling, and who don’t know much about Afghanistan.

With Iraq less and less visible on the country’s radar–none of the Big Three teevee networks even has a Baghdad correspondent any more–some argue that we should seek to end the war indirectly by directing our main attack on the bloated military budget. I think this is a mistake and plays into the hands of those, including those in the new administration, who want Iraq off the radar. People need reminding that there are still 142,000 US troops in Iraq, not help forgetting it.

In my view, the best option is to keep on keepin’ on–continue to protest, step up outreach to our friends and neighbors and rattle the cages of elected officials, especially when appropriation-for-occupation time rolls around again. As Iraq becomes Obama’s war, Obama will increasingly be the one the people hold responsible for its continuation. Even if he should actually begin substantial troop reductions, as promised, that doesn’t oblige the movement to drop the demand that all the troops be brought home. Now.

Should we raise the profile of Afghanistan in anti-war work? The anti-war movement is playing catch-up, in a sense, after keeping its focus rather strictly on Iraq. But with the situation changing rapidly, the occupation’s outlook “grim” (according to the latest national Security estimate) and the promise of the US force there being doubled, to 60,000+ this year, we have no choice. And any step by Obama to escalate the US occupation of Afghanistan or to maintain the deadly status quo there should be opposed directly, with all the vigor possible, as education around that occupation is stepped up.

Obama and the New Terrain of Battle, Part 1: Green Light

This is the first part of an ungodly long piece I posted during the actual inauguration over at Fire on the Mountain. I have decided to trim it a little and post it in three parts, today, tomorrow and Friday, in the hopes that more folks will read it. I may even put it up at Daily Kos, though I can’t imagine that it will be well received there.

With Barack Hussein Obama making history and a wave of optimism engulfing the country, it is a good time to review what faces us ahead. I want to flag three features of the road we are heading down over the coming months.

   * First, there is a green light for struggle to advance on many fronts.

   * Second, the anti-war movement, by contrast, faces a huge roadblock to moving forward.

   * Third, as far as the economy goes, the bridge is collapsing and we are on it.

A Green Light for Struggle

Since November 4, there has been a dramatic uptick in popular struggle in this country. The election of Barack Obama, and the massive mobilization of people from all parts of the US and all sectors of society that made it possible, have created a vastly different terrain of battle than that of the last 8 years. Last month, I heard “Si Se Puede” and even “Yes We Can” chants rising from within a crowd of hundreds of SDSers and other serious young militants mobilized to defend college students who were carrying out an occupation (overall successful) of the New School in NYC.

The emotional highlight of the last few months has been the victory won by another occupation. Union workers at the about-to-close Republic Windows & Doors plant in Chicago seized control of their factory and won nationwide sympathy, including a statement by President-elect Obama affirming the righteousness of their cause and ignoring the illegality of their tactics. When they won their demands, the UE members left the plant chanting, yep, “Si Se Puede” and “Yes We Can.”

Now a wave of protest against the police murder of a young Black man, erupting at times into outright rebellion, has shaken Oakland, CA. Police departments across the country are reviewing their “deadly force” policies and training–and updating their riot preparedness plans.

Any one of these can be dismissed by the cynical as an isolated particular. Let me instead suggest a look at the broadest protest movement which has broken out since the election–the battle which followed the passage of California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8. This ballot initiative, a little gem of rancid bigotry, not only denied same-sex couples the right to wed, but even officially “un-married” tens of thousands of lesbian and gay Californians. It was hands-down the biggest bummer of Election Night, 2008.

But look at what has ensued!

First, there were a couple of weeks of near-spontaneous demonstrations, pulled together by email, instant message and Twitter. Often thousands strong, they reached all 50 states. Many protesters quickly–and correctly–identified and focused on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) as the main target. Rallies took place in front of Mormon temples not only across California and in other modern-day Sodoms like NYC but even at LDS Central in Salt Lake City.

The effect has been profound. The demonstrations gave rise to an incredible cultural flowering in defense of gay marriage, from the movie-star-laden YouTube micro-musical “Prop 8: The Musical” (starring Jack Black as Jesus) to the tongue-in-cheek petition drive launched in Princeton, NJ for an initiative forbidding Princeton freshmen to walk on town and campus sidewalks.

Major media outlets and think tanks undertook investigations which showed that, just as protesters charged, LDS money and machinations were at the center of the Prop 8 campaign. Boycotts of tourism in Utah and of Mormon firms, as well as other businesses run by Prop 8 backers, are underway. Members have quit the church or spoken out publicly against its embrace of bias.

On the political front, Obama has felt the heat, especially after his inaugural invitation to Prop 8 supporter Rev. Rick Warren triggered a spasm of revulsion even among his loyalists. One response to the pressure has been his unexpected and unequivocal pledge to move rapidly to end the Armed Force’s homophobic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

To grasp the new mood of struggle, try and imagine the scene if Proposition 8 had passed during the grim 2000 or 2004 elections. The anger would have been swamped in the overall angst and depression. The flowering of protest and culture would never have taken place. Most important, we would not have the current mood, the overwhelming optimism that the passage of Prop 8 is just a bump in the road which will soon be behind us.