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.
Featuring performances and conversations with revolutionary artists:
Demetrius Noble, Eartha Watts Hicks, Rafael Medina, Raymond Nat Turner, Linda Liu, Ricardo Levins Morales, Tracy Garrison, Tim Sheard, & Dean Stevens.
David Duhalde, Liza Featherstone, Ben Manski and Jill Stein debriefs the presidential election with an eye to the next steps for the Left.
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?
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 Bevins, John Roosa, and Krithika Varagur, hosted by Joseph Nevins.
Books by Our Host and Guests
- Vincent Bevins (2020) The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World.
- Joseph Nevins (Co-edited with Nancy Peluso) (2008) Taking Southeast Asia to Market: Commodities, Nature, and People in the Neoliberal Age.
- Joseph Nevins (2005) A Not-So-Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor. Updated version of 1st edition, entitled Pembantaian Timor Timur: Horor Masyarakat Internasional (translated into Indonesian by Nug Katjasungkana) published by Garba Budaya and Fortilos (Jakarta, Indonesia) in 2008.
- John Roosa (2006) Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement and Suharto’s Coup d’État in Indonesia.
- John Roosa (2020) Buried Histories: The Anticommunist Massacres of 1965-1966 in Indonesia.
- Krithika Varagur (2020) The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project.
Documentary/Film Sources Discussed
- Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous (Directors, 2012) The Act of Killing (film).
- Joshua Oppenheimer, (Director, 2014) The Look of Silence (film).
- Arifin C. Noer (Director, 1984) Pengkhianatan G30S PKI (film) Indonesia’s propaganda film from 1984; over 4 hours long and use to be required viewing for school children
- Peter Weir (Director, 1982) The Year of Living Dangerously (film).
- John Pilger (2001) The New Rulers of the World (film).
Other Titles Discussed
- Christopher Koch (1978) The Year of Living Dangerously.
- Cathy Caruth (2014) Listening to Trauma.
- Barbara Foley (2009) “Rhetoric and Silence in Barack Obama’s ‘Dreams from My Father’” Cultural Logic.
- Vivian Gornick (1977, 2020) The Romance of American Communism.
- Bradley R. Simpson (2008) Economists with Guns.
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
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.
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. Mullen, Chris 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 BlackCommentator.com, 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.