Shelter and Solidarity: A Deep Dive with Artists and Activists

Invisible No Longer: Confronting Anti-Asian Racism and Building Community Resistance, May 20, 2021

Reports of anti-Asian racism throughout the U.S. have surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, but have not been the subject of sustained public attention until recent months. The deadly March 16th Atlanta spa shootings, along with a spike in lethal attacks against persons of Asian descent, have brought increased visibility to a form of racism that has historically been given short shrift in discourses about racism in America. The recent flurry of press coverage, think-pieces, group protests, community statements, and social media discussions of anti-Asian racism have drawn more public attention to a number of difficult questions:

  • How can we make sense of the spike in hate incidents in the past year, from verbal harassment to physical violence–directed at Asians?
  • How are Asian and Asian American communities and organizations responding and resisting, and how can the broader community support them?
  • Aside from fear and outrage, in what ways are people being galvanized to build power and solidarity across differences of class, nationality, immigrant documentation, and generational status?
  • Conversely, how does the appeal to a unified Asian American identity conceal fractures between diverse communities and groups of people?
  • What connections can be made between the rise in anti-Asian attacks and the ruling class’s war-mongering rhetoric against China as an autocratic “Communist” threat to capitalist democracies?

Michael Liu and Kent Wong, noted scholar-activists and experts on community resistance, will help us grasp the current complexities and longstanding histories of anti-Asian racism. Alice Liu, an organizer active in Texas, and Linda Liu, an S&S producer, academic, and trade union activist in Massachusetts will be hosting the conversation. Join us as we explore the role of structural racism, geopolitics, and Asian community organizing in the making and evolution of the U.S.

A Conversation with Ranabir Samaddar on “Karl Marx and the Postcolonial Age,” May 8, 2021

Paula Rauhala and Kira Moodliar join in conversation with Ranabir Samaddar to explore Ranabir’s new book, “Karl Marx and the Postcolonial Age.” From Palgrave MacMillian: This book seeks to explicitly engage Marxist and post-colonial theory to place Marxism in the context of the post-colonial age. Those who study Marx, particularly in the West, often lack an understanding of post-colonial realities; conversely, however, those who fashion post-colonial theory often have an inadequate understanding of Marx. Many think that Marx is not relevant to critique postcolonial realities and the legacy of Marx seldom reaches the post-colonial countries directly. This work will read Marx in the contemporary post-colonial condition and elaborate the current dynamics of post-colonial capitalism. It does this by analysing contemporary post-colonial history and politics in the framework of inter-relations between the three categories of class, people, and postcolonial transformation. Examining the structure of power in postcolonial countries and revisiting the revolutionary theory of dual power in that context, it appreciates and explains the transformative potentialities of Marx in relation to post-colonial conditions.

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 EarthDayMayDay.org) 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?

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