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.
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 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 Gleeson, Hillary Lazar, Ben Manski, Suren Moodliar, Jackie Smith, Norman 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.
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.
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.
Political economists Doug Henwood (of The Nation, Jacobin, 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?
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.
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.
In the yawning gap between the crises of economy, environment, and survival on the one hand, and ruling class responses, on the other hand, is there space for socialist solutions and the movements that can deliver them? If so, how will it be filled? We answer these questions with a thoughtful and diverse group of activist intellectuals including Eljeer Hawkins (Socialist Alternative*), Liza Featherstone (The Nation*), and Kazembe Balagun (Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung*).
*Organizations listed for identification purposes only and do not represent an endorsement).
Kazembe Balagun is a cultural historian, activist, writer, youngest son of Ben and Millie, and originally from Harlem, New York. From 2008 to 2013, he served as Director of Outreach and Education at the Brecht Forum in New York, where he helped bring together performance art, LGBT history, film, and jazz with Marxism and the Black Radical Tradition. He is a frequent contributor to the Indypendent, where he published the last interview of Octavia Butler (included in Consuela Francis’ Conversations with Octavia Butler, University Press of Mississippi). Most recently, Finally Got the News: The Printed Legacy of the Radical Left (Common Notions) published Balagun’s essay on art and people of color communist collectives. He was a member of the Red Channels Film Collective and has presented at Metrograph, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Public Library, Woodbine, and Maysles Cinema. He serves as a project manager with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York and is working on a project looking at uncovering the history of the Black Commune.
Liza Featherstone is a journalist based in New York City and a contributing writer to The Nation. She is the co-author of Students Against Sweatshops: The Making of a Movement (Verso, 2002) and the author of Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Worker’s Rights at Wal-Mart (Basic, 2004) and Divining Desire: Focus Groups and the Culture of Consultation (OR Books, 2017). She is the editor of False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton (Verso, 2016).
L. Eljeer Hawkins is a community and anti-war activist, born and raised in Harlem, New York, member of Socialist Alternative/CWI for 21 years. He has toured internationally, invited to address audiences from South Africa to Ireland, Brazil to Belgium on the black struggle in the U.S. He has been involved in the recent Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for $15 movement. Currently, Eljeer is a non-union healthcare worker in New York City. Truthout! published an interview with Hawkins, “Inspiring a Socialist Alternative.”
Shelter & Solidarity closes out 2020 with a very special roundtable featuring return visits from some of the great guests we’ve had on S&S in our first year. A panel of experienced organizers, activists, scholars and artists will help kick off a community discussion around two questions:
- What should be our main take-aways and lessons from 2020?
- What are the main challenges, opportunities, and dangers that lie ahead as we look towards 2021?
Guests include historian and author Avi Chomsky, labor educator and organizer Barbara Madeloni, deep democratic organizer Ben Manski, radical poets Demetrius Noble and Raymond ‘Nat’ Turner, critical educator Adam Stevens, activist and wellness mentor Victor Narro, adjunct faculty and organizer Bobbi-Lee Smart, and others.