Shelter and Solidarity: A Deep Dive with Artists and Activists

A Conversation with Marge Piercy on Art & Politics, May 13, 2021

Shelter & Solidarity and independent socialist magazine Monthly Review has a conversation with path-breaking radical thinker, activist, and best-selling, world-famous author Marge Piercy. For the past fifty years, few creative writers have been in deeper dialogue with the movement for emancipatory revolution than poet and novelist Marge Piercy. Author of over 20 books of poetry alone, such as her most recent On the Way Out, Turn Off the Light, and trailblazing works of speculative fiction (including Woman on the Edge of Time), Piercy’s writings both vividly illuminate the outrages and absurdities of the present system, and imagine inspiring possibilities for humanity beyond its current bonds of oppression. For decades, Marge has walked her talk through grassroots political practice, helping to build and inspire social movements for feminism, peace, equality and a world beyond empire and exploitation. Join us for a deep dive with Marge Piercy about her life of activism, and the politics and artistry of her written work. Co-hosted by Joe Ramsey of Shelter & Solidarity and Camila Valle, Assistant Editor at Monthly Review.

Uniting Higher Ed Labor to Fight for the Common Good, September 16, 2021

This summer, over 300 higher ed faculty, staff, and student leaders and activists from dozens of union locals in 30 states (representing over 400,000 higher ed workers!) came together to form a new nation-wide coalition: Higher Ed Labor United (HELU). Coming from across faculty ranks and staff job categories, including both tenure track and contingent faculty, undergraduate and graduate student workers, HELU is united in the belief that we need a higher education system that takes equity seriously, works for all, and puts the common good first.

S&S conducts a deep dive conversation with leading organizers in HELU as we discuss the short-term and long-term strategies--from the campus to the U.S. Congress!--for restoring the vision, the resources, and the labor conditions that can allow our system of higher learning to work for us all, students, workers, and the communities we serve.

Featured guests and respondent:

Nicola Walters is an organizer artist, public speaker, and teacher. She is a lecturer in the Department of Politics and Department of Sociology at Humboldt State University. She serves on the California Faculty Association's board of directors as the Membership and Organizing Chair. Nicola is the co-chair of the Labor Outreach Committee for Higher Ed Labor United.

Bryan Sacks is an adjunct instructor of philosophy at Drexel University, and also an adjunct instructor of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ. He also teaches philosophy at Rutgers’ Camden campus. He is pursuing a Ph.D in Media Studies in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers, where he is also the Vice President of the PTLFC-AAUP-AFT, the union of adjunct instructors. He's been an adjunct for 30 years, teaching more than 350 classes across several disciplines and more than a dozen universities in that time.

Colena Sesanker is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Gateway Community College, Political Director for the 4Cs (SEIU1973), Faculty chair of the Faculty Advisory committee to the CT board of Regents, and a member of the Scholars for a New Deal for Higher Ed exec board.

Nicole Braun (respondent) has been teaching sociology as a struggling and exploited adjunct for over 2 decades. She currently lives in Chicago and like many others, is tired of the status quo in academia and otherwise. She believes HELU brings hope and inspiration and that the movement is going to create real change and bring true justice for many who have been suffering for years.

The Post Capitalism Conference: Building the Solidarity Economy, April 20, 2021

David Cobb and Nicola Walters preview “The Post Capitalism Conference: Building the Solidarity Economy” (part of at Humboldt State University. The conference kicked off on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2021, and included movement luminaries like Wende Marshall, Richard Wolf, Kali Akuno, Melodie Meyer, Emily Kawano, Chase Iron Eyes, and Jerome Scott. 

The Saturday Bookshelf: David Roediger on the Sinking “Middle Class,” April 3, 2021

Co-hosts Rachel Yarashus Patten and Bobbi-Lee Smart talk with David Roediger about his new book, The Sinking Middle Class.

Description of The Sinking Middle Class: "Joe Biden’s current emphasis on the 'American middle class' is typical of centrist Democrat strategy. It is used as a cudgel to defend the party against more radical demands that could win over working-class voters and non-voters. For Republicans, it provides a foil for disingenuous appeals to the 'white working class.' Donald Trump’s 2016 victory made full use of such rhetoric.

Yet, as David Roediger makes clear in a pointed and persuasive polemic, this obsession with the middle-class is relatively new in US politics. It began with the attempt to win back so-called 'Reagan Democrats' by Bill Clinton and his legendary pollster Stanley Greenberg. It was accompanied by a pandering to racism and a shying away from meaningful wealth redistribution that continues to this day.

Drawing on rich traditions of radical social thought, Roediger disavows the thinly sourced idea that the United States was, for much of its history, a 'middle-class' nation and the still more indefensible position that it is one now. The increasing immiseration of large swathes of middle-income America, only accelerated by the current pandemic, nails a fallacy that is a major obstacle to progressive change.” – OR Books

The 1990s-2020s: The Millennial Turns and this Decisive Decade, March 11, 2021

The 2020s may prove to be “The Decisive Decade.” But what are the origins of the movements of these times? And what difference do those histories make today? We often are called to look back to the 1960s for lessons. But what of the 1990s and the movements at the turn of the millennium?

Featuring Bill Fletcher, Jr.Shannon GleesonHillary LazarBen ManskiSuren MoodliarJackie SmithNorman Stockwell, and Lesley Wood in conversation. Recently a group of social movement scholars and activists took up the question of “the millennial turns” – global, democratic, and anarchist – that produced not only the shutdown of the World Trade Organization in Seattle twenty years ago, as well as other major mobilizations of the period, but also many of the elements of social movements that are still in play today. This scholarly group produced a remarkable collection of studies, essays, and personal accounts of the 1990-2010 millennial period published just now in the journal of Socialism and Democracy’s special issue, Movements at the Millenium: Seattle +20.

Progressive Media in an Age of Covid & Capitalist Crisis, February 25, 2021

In an era of growing corporate control over “the news” (from TV to social media platforms), the role played by independent, alternative, and left media is more precious than ever.  Yet the corporate-dominated media landscape, compounded by the Covid19 crisis, creates new barriers and challenges for left and independent media alike.  How are independent and alternative media adapting and struggling in the current environment?  What remains so valuable about these publications? How are independent media able to speak to issues where the “mainstream” media has proven an utter failure?  What threats to independent media are now on the horizon? And what can be done to help extend the reach and amplify the impact of these important progressive sources for news and analysis?

Our featured guests are experienced editors and leading contributors from a range of progressive, socialist, and labor publications, including:  

  • Camila Valle, Assistant Editor at Monthly Review
  • Kurt Stand, of Portside
  • Joe Maniscalco, of Labor Press
  • Jason Pramas, of DigBoston and the Boston Institute for Independent Journalism.

Stepping Up for Texas! – S&S Special Show, February 24, 2021

The freeze set in, and the lights went out! And Texans found that free-market fundamentalists can’t keep you warm and definitely won’t keep the water running. Also, climate change does not care about ideology!

It might be too early to talk about the numbers, the suffering, and the resistance, but neighbors are helping neighbors. Even with the pandemic, mutual aid groups and grassroots support have been reaching out, across borders, to stand with Texans.

But far, far more is needed. As with Puerto Rico and other disaster-struck regions, what aid arrives will never replace the structural changes to the economy and to the power structure that are needed to guarantee security for all, not just for those who can jet off to Cancun.

This conversation, guest hosted by David Cobb, long-time Texas organizer now residing in California, brings impacted community activists, organizers, and policy experts from Texas and Louisiana into the dialogue. We turn to them to let us know how we can help, what they have learned, and how we can elevate mutual aid to a national and global plane.

Biden’s “Building Back Better”? New Deal or Same Ol’ Deal? February 11, 2021

Political economists Doug Henwood (of The NationJacobin, and Left Business Observer) and Bryan Snyder (of Dollars & Sense) join us to dissect the newly installed Biden administration and what it means for the people and for left politics in our time. What is the meaning of Biden’s actions since taking office? His cabinet appointments? His much-heralded executive orders? His stated policy objectives (and those of the Democratic Party leadership that now controls both houses of Congress?)What are the openings for progressive, labor, environmental, and social justice movements foreseeable in the coming period? In what ways is Biden’s admin likely to depart from the Trump regime’s policies? In what ways have the current crises (from COVID-19, to endemic police violence, to widespread unemployment) created new opportunities that could allow for the new regime to be pressured from without? Are there openings for a (Green) New Deal under Biden, or are we likely to be fed more of the same ol’ deal? What are we likely to see coming down from the Biden administration, based on its recent moves, as well as its ideological and policy history? How can those committed to a just, sustainable, and more equal world best prepare to respond and engage the new terrain?

Breaking Down the Bailout: A Deep Dive into the Federal Stimulus, April 16, 2020

In this our second episode of Shelter & Solidarity, we’re joined by co-host Barbara Madeloni (of Labor Notes), and guests Doug Henwood (of Behind the News) and Matt Stoller (of the American Economic Liberties Project) for a critical discussion of the recently passed $2+ Trillion Federal “Stimulus” Package. We breakdown the bailout, in terms of what it means for everyday people, for the system as a whole, and for political organizing going forward.

Populism! Peril or Promise in US Politics, November 19, 2020

S&S takes a deep dive into the history, myths, practices, and legacies of popular politics and “small-d” democracy in the United States with scholar and public historian Michael Lansing.
The populist tradition is a significant, controversial, and often misunderstood strain of U.S. history. Lansing’s book, Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2015), explores an important example of this tradition. The Nonpartisan League (NPL), a candidate-endorsing political
organization that emerged in the 1910s in the rural Midwest, rural West, and Prairie Provinces, embodied an innovative commitment to people power in formal politics. In North Dakota, where it briefly took over, the NPL established a state-owned bank, a state-owned mill, and a state-owned grain elevator. All three endure today. Despite those innovations, the League has passed almost entirely from our collective memory.
As a public historian, Lansing writes and presents on the complicated legacies of popular politics, linking them to current movements and issues. Most recently, his opinion pieces in MinnPost and the Washington Post explored their connections to the history of racialized policing as well as the recent uprising in Minneapolis.

Michael Lansing completed his Ph.D. in history at the University of Minnesota and is an associate professor of history at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, where he also teaches in the Environmental Studies program. His current book project, Enriched: Industrial Carbohydrates and the Rise of Nutrition Capitalism, is a history of factory-processed grains and the corporate propagation of a political economy that demarcates the way we understand, make, and eat food.

Join us for an interesting, stimulating, and wide-ranging conversation.

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