Shelter and Solidarity: A Deep Dive with Artists and Activists

Trump’s Walls Must Fall: Greg Grandin with Avi Chomsky, October 15, 2020

Featuring a deep dive with 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winner Greg Grandin, author of The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America (among many other books). We will also be joined by scholar and activist Aviva Chomsky, (author of Undocumented and “They Take Our Jobs!” and 20 Other Myths about Immigration).

As the 2020 Election draws near, how do we understand the nature of Trumpism and its relationship to what has come before?

How do we grasp the rise of Trump’s Border Wall and the way it is re-shaping US political imagination?

How has U.S. American history from the beginning been shaped by the way that the edges of the country have been imagined and constructed–often through racism and violence?

How does grappling with the long and bloody American history of the “frontier” and the border change the way we see the present politics and future possibilities for the USA in the 21st century?

How does studying the history of the border help us to see that ways that US “domestic” & “foreign” policy are deeply related?

What will the “end” of the long-standing myth of perpetual American economic and geographic expansion mean for contemporary politics?

What can be done to refuse a future defined by rising border walls and to instead reimagine global human liberation in this era of crisis?

Mass Murder and the Making of Our Times, October 1, 2020

October 1 marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of one of the worst episodes of mass murder in the twentieth century: the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Indonesians in 1965-1966. Organized and directed by Indonesia’s military, the killings targeted people associated with the country’s communist party, the world’s largest outside of China and the Soviet Union. The dismembering of a large part of Indonesia’s political spectrum reshaped politics not only in Indonesia but around the world, foreclosing on a political pathway that might have produced greater justice and more equitable outcomes in the Global South. Despite the enormity of these events, and the sordid U.S. role of support, the killings in Indonesia are little-known in the United States and beyond. And within Indonesia, a country in which the outsized power of the military endures, there has been no accountability for the slaughter. This show will explore what took place in Indonesia in the mid-1960s, and its significance for the sprawling country and the larger world; the enforced silence surrounding these events in much of Indonesian society since that time; and their present-day manifestations and efforts aimed at accountability. In doing so, the show brings together three guests:  Vincent BevinsJohn Roosa, and  Krithika Varagur, hosted by Joseph Nevins

Books by Our Host and Guests

Documentary/Film Sources Discussed

Other Titles Discussed

Selections from the Zoom Chat

Audience: When I toured the GDR in 1983 with a multi-party delegation, there were two Indonesian comrades, both teaching economics in Moscow. Are there countries other than the Netherlands that host other survivors of the massacre?

Response: Long story about the exiles. Thousands of students and party activists and other nationalists were stranded in the Soviet Bloc and China after Oct 1. The PKI in China called all of them to come to China in 1966-67 and some did. But then China normalized relations with Indonesia in the early 1980s and the exiles were no longer welcome and many moved to W. Europe as refugees. 

Audience: This is also the era of the Sino-Soviet split. Apparently PKI exiles were unable to get together to organize a party organization in exile.

Response: Yes, and the Sino-Soviet split affected how the international left interpreted the defeat of the PKI. The Soviet side blamed the PKI for being too radical, too Maoist. While the Maoists blamed the ‘modern revisionists’ in the PKI for not preparing the PKI to defend itself. In the process, the humanitarian side of the story was lost. A lot of the postmortem analyses by the international communist parties were really dogmatic and formulaic.

Next Show: Trump’s Wall Must Fall

Weaponizing Antisemitism Allegations, September 24, 2020

Amid a resurgence of xenophobic nationalism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism, and racism more generally, how do we refute charges of Antisemitism that are broadly leveled against advocates for Black liberation, immigrant justice and national self-determination for the Palestinian people? To help us navigate these questions, Lara Kiswani from Beit Iksa and Aqir, Palestine, and Executive Director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and Lesley Williams of Jewish Voice for Peace join our show co-hosted by Joe Ramsey and Suren Moodliar with co-producers Linda Liu, Kira Moodliar, Mark Soderstrom, and Tim Sheard.

Know Your Enemy: Grasping the Nature of the Right-Wing Threat, September 3, 2020

Recent years have seen a resurgence of right-wing nationalism and authoritarian political movements, from Trump in the US to Bolsanaro in Brazil and to Modi in India. How are we best to grasp the nature of these contemporary political trends?

Are Trump and the movement to support him usefully understood as a form of neo-fascism? Right-wing populism? Something else? What are the political, economic, social, and cultural drivers of this trend, and how can they most effectively be countered and defeated?

How does contemporary right-wing authoritarianism compare with classic fascist movements of the past? What lessons for today can be found in the arsenal of historical anti-fascism, and what needs updating? How does the way we think about the threats we face shape the necessary political response? How can grasping the roots of current right-wing movements help us build the movement to defeat them, from the ballot box to the workplace to the streets and beyond?

Shelter & Solidarity (9/3/20) took a deep dive with activist-thinkers who have been studying historical and contemporary right-wing movements as well as fascism and anti-fascism for decades: Bill V. MullenChris Vials, and Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill V. Mullen and Chris Vials are co-editors of The U.S. Antifascism Reader (2020). Bill Mullen is former Professor of American Studies at Purdue University. He is the author most recently of James Baldwin: Living in Fire (Pluto Press, 2019). His other books include Afro-Orientalism (University of Minnesota Press) and (as co-editor with Ashley Dawson) Against Apartheid: The Case for Boycotting Israeli Universities (Haymarket Books). He is a member of the Organizing Collective for USACBI (United States Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel)

Christopher Vials is a Professor of English and Director of American Studies at the University of Connecticut-Storrs. He is the author of Haunted by Hitler: Liberals, the Left, and the Fight against Fascism in the United States (2014) and has appeared on public forums such as NPR, PBS, and CBC radio to discuss the history of fascism and antifascism in the United States.

Bill Fletcher Jr. Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of, and is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941”; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice. Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.

Sustaining Ourselves & Each Other Through Crisis Times with Victor Narro & Michal Osterweil, August 27, 2020

Feeling stressed? Seeking strategies for keeping healthy and connected during this period of protracted pandemic, economic crisis, and physical isolation? Join us for our third Shelter & Solidarity social hour – a community discussion about how we can best sustain ourselves, each other, our organizations and movements during these pandemic times.

We’ll be led into the discussion by Michal Osterweil and Victor Narro. Michal teaches in the Curriculum in Global Studies at UNC Chapel Hill and is also deeply committed to community and popular education aimed at activists, community members and others not (necessarily) in formal school that see the importance of actively studying and (un)learning what it means to be a change agent in these intense times of crisis. She is co-convenor with Arturo Escobar of UNC’s seminar, Theory and Politics of Relationality (The Relationality project), and currently working on a book project and web-project in this vein. She is also a mother and radical homemaker who loves gardening, cooking and dancing.A nationally known expert on immigrant rights and low-wage workers, Victor Narro has been involved with immigrant rights and labor issues for over 35 years, and author of several books on labor justice and organizing. He has also become a leading voice for self-care and spirituality in the work for social justice through his new book, Living Peace: Connecting Your Spirituality with Your Work for Justice (CreateSpace Publication, 2014). Victor has published a children’s book about labor solidarity, Jimmy’s Carwash Adventure (Hard Ball Press 2016).

John Lawrence on Organizing the Democratic Capacity for Transformative Change, August 20, 2020

Building on a recent paper by John W. Lawrence, “Organizing the Democratic Capacity for Transformative Change: The 2020 Election and Beyond” published in Socialism and Democracy, this conversation discusses and debates the organizational and political requirements for the left to grow and become an organized voice and transformative force based in the working class. Speaker list in formation.

Imagining Apocalypse Now: Dystopian & End-Time Narratives Today, with Gerry Canavan and Mark Soderstrom, 7/23/2020

As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, this episode explores the significance of apocalyptic and dystopian narratives for our current crisis-laden moment. While typically associated with large-scale death and destruction, the word ‘apocalypse’ also means a revelation or uncovering of what was hidden in plain sight. Joined by noted science and speculative fiction and film scholars Gerry Canavan and Mark Soderstrom, and co-host Linda Liu, we will discuss what this pandemic is revealing about the systems we inhabit, as well as some lessons and limits of cultural texts that imagine apocalyptic scenarios and dystopian societies.

Gerry Canavan is an associate professor in the English Department at Marquette University, specializing in twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature. His first book, Octavia E. Butler, appeared in 2016 in the Modern Masters of Science Fiction series at University of Illinois Press. He tweets at @gerrycanavan and has recently embarked on an ill-considered Kurt Vonnegut reread podcast @gradschoolvonn.

Mark Soderstrom has been a professional blacksmith, carpenter, labor organizer, and musician. He is now an Associate Professor in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies and Work and Labor Policy programs of SUNY-Empire State College. He has published work on labor history, history of science, oral history, neoliberalism, and speculative fiction.

Back to School Blues? The Fight for a Just & Safe School Year, August 13, 2020

As we roll into late August, the start of the school year is upon us. What will this Fall look like for students, for teachers and staff, for parents and our communities? What threats to safety, to the quality and equity of education, and to working conditions are people facing? And how are they responding What are school and community organizers doing to protect workers and students from the dangers of COVID? What are the best (and worst) models of how institutions are responding, and What else needs to be done?

Joining us will be K-12 and college educators, as well parents from around the country, including New York public school teachers Adam Stevens and Freddie Cole, UMass Boston professor and parent, Amy Todd, and California-based adjunct professor and union organizer Bobbi-Lee Smart.

Why is it that so many districts are ordering schools to reopen even as the pandemic still rages?

What are the challenges facing educators, students, and parents now forced to deal with remote and online teaching?

How will teaching and learning be different this Fall than it’s been before?

What demands and actions are emerging across the country as people organize to keep their co-workers, students, families and communities both safe and smart in a time of institutional absurdity and public health nightmares?

There are no shortage of questions to discuss and challenges to respond to. Join us a roundtable of educators, parents, students, organizers and activists as we hold a Shelter and Solidarity community discussion on this pressing topic.

  • Adam Stevens has worked since 1996 in the public high schools of Brooklyn, New York to teach history in a way that raises anti-racist, anti-sexist and working-class consciousness.
  • Freddie Cole is a public school teacher, union officer and activist in New York City.
  • Amy Todd teaches Anthropology at UMass Boston, where she is a long-time union and labor activist.
  • Bobbi-lee Smart is a California-based adjunct faculty member and advocate, Executive Director of CFT local. Adjunct Faculty United.

75 Years After Hiroshima with Avi Chomsky, Marie Cruz Soto, Joseph Gerson & Gar Alperovitz, August 6, 2020

Avi Chomsky, Marie Cruz Soto, Joseph Gerson & Gar Alperovitz consider the legacy of the Hiroshima, its roots in Empire and colonial rivalries. They also examine resistance to empire from Vieques to Okinawa and across diasporas and homelands. Joe Ramsey hosts the conversation he co-produced with Linda Liu, Kira Moodliar, Suren Moodliar and Tim Sheard. The episode is sponsored by Hardball Press, the Community Church of Boston, Socialism and Democracy, and encuentro5.

Elections, Democracy, & the Left with Victor Wallis & Medea Benjamin, July 30, 2020

This episode is a deep dive with Victor Wallis (author of Democracy Denied and Red-Green Revolution) about how the Left can and should relate to elections and to threats to democracy in the United States. Victor is joined in conversation by nationally renowned organizer Medea Benjamin (Code Pink).

What are the opportunities and dangers represented by the 2020 Election? Questions and issues explored include: how should socialists relate to the Republican and Democratic Parties? To third party efforts? What can we learn from history in terms of how the Left can effectively engage the electoral process without getting sucked into compromised politics that undermine our goals and values? What are the threats to electoral democracy in the USA today and why is it important to defend the ballot box and defeat the Right, even while recognizing the compromised nature of the Democratic Biden ticket? What needs to be done to defend democracy in the USA, via the ballot box and beyond?

Victor Wallis is a socialist scholar and long-time editor of the journal Socialism & Democracy. He is a frequent to contributor to Monthly Review, New Political Science, and Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, and is author of three books: Democracy Denied: Five Lectures on American Politics, Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Eco-Socialism, and Socialist Practice: Histories and Theories.

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