How, on the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, does that document speak to what workers and prisoners are facing today?
The article excerpts a summary of a talk by Dunayevskaya to a conference on Women’s Liberation in Detroit. The purpose of the meeting was to help Dunayevskaya work out the final chapter of her book then in progress, Philosophy and Revolution. That last chapter would take up the “New Passions and New Forces” for the reconstruction of society. The Conference was also the beginning of the News & Letters—Women’s Liberation Committee.
Detroit—Meeting on March 24-25, some 900 delegates from more than 800 local unions representing automotive, aerospace, education, healthcare, public work and other areas of the economy heard reports and discussed strategies for the United Auto Workers (UAW) contract that expires in September 2015.
In celebrating the first 60 years of News and Letters Committees, we reprint excerpts from the Draft Perspectives for 1975-76 by Raya Dunayevskaya, the first printed in News & Letters.
THE MOVEMENT KNOWS, of course, that the class enemy is at home, within each country. It knows full well that each existing state power is weighted down with fear of revolution. And it does not fail to appreciate that, no matter how deep the intra-imperialist rivalries, capitalist class solidarity holds tightest and strongest against its own people.
On March 19 hundreds of workers from the BP oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., massed in front of BP corporate offices in Chicago. The 1,100 workers’ strike has continued over unfair labor practices. The local issues centered on safety and staffing after BP rejected the pattern agreement of the industry with the United Steel Workers.
In Chicago, thousands march for a living wage, while in Los Angeles, protesters of all races marched downtown on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s 1968 assassination. They included low-wage workers campaigning to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, uniting with the movement against police killing of unarmed Black and Brown youth.
There will be a laundry list of grievances presented at the United Auto Workers (UAW) union bargaining convention to be held in Detroit, Mich, in March. Many of these grievances have been festering throughout auto plants in the country since 2009, when General Motors and Chrysler went bankrupt.
In acquainting readers with News & Letters over its first 60 years, we spotlight here the regular feature “Coal and its People” which featured the voices of coal miners, many from West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
From the News and Letters pamphlet The Coal Miners’ General Strike of 1949-50 and the Birth of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S. we excerpt from Raya Dunayevskaya’s “The Emergence of a New Movement from Practice that Is Itself a Form of Theory,” on miners’ contributions to the philosophic birth of Marxist-Humanism.
Dunayevskaya’s letters on Hegel’s Absolutes; Bhopal toxic disaster; Voices from behind the bars
Don Blankenship—owner of the Upper Big Branch Massey mine in West Virginia in 2010 when the mine exploded, killing 29 coal miners—was indicted. Nevertheless, the coal lobby still exerts considerable power in the state, and uses that power to support mountaintop mining and to thwart environmentally progressive programs that try to minimize the many dangerous aspects of coal mining.
Detroit—Instead of holding an election of rank-and-file workers at the Mercedes-Benz auto plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the United Auto Workers union (UAW) in October simply declared that Local Union 112 was in existence to represent workers at the plant. UAW officials said they hoped to convince a majority of the 3,400 full-time workers there to join the union, and are seeking to persuade Mercedes-Benz management to accept the union as the sole representative of the workers….
From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters
New York—It insults our intelligence to claim that the proposed increase in the minimum wage from the existing $7.25 an hour to $10.10 in 2016 is enough to keep a family above the poverty line. President Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum wage [=>]
From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters
Detroit—A mid-May fire killed 301 miners by carbon monoxide poisoning due to mine owners’ negligence in the worst coal mine disaster in Turkey’s history (see “Turkish miners killed,” July-August N&L). First reports indicated that the fire started when a transformer blew up. A subsequent investigation revealed that [=>]
From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters
Chicago–Altgeld Gardens residents picketed the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) on June 26. They told News & Letters that the CHA contracts with Walsh Construction to work on housing projects like Altgeld Gardens, which is 97% Black. But Walsh refuses to follow Section 3, which requires 30% [=>]
Healthcare reform took cost-control ideology to a whole new level. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been transformed into its opposite by the HMO industry which sacrifices the lives of patients and workers alike for the sake of fiduciary health.
On April 12, 2014, Kiev hosted a conference The Left and the Maidan which brought together activists from anarchist, socialist and communist organisations that had been involved in the Maidan movement in late 2013–early 2014. The large number of participating activists who represent the various political groups and initiatives evolving as a part of the Maidan movement is clear evidence against the alleged absence of the Left in the Maidan movement. The discussion was centered on why the Left failed to take an organisational form and become as visible a factor of the Maidan as the right.
LABOR AND IMMIGRATION
On April 8, about 100 people, the majority young Latinas/os, gathered in front of Los Angeles City Hall to protest the deportation of immigrants. Obama’s administration has aggressively deported 2,000,000 immigrants. We held signs reading: “Not Even One More!” and “No Separation of Family!” Separation of family members has serious adverse effects [=>]
Wages have stagnated for several decades— the standard of living of Americans today is less than it was in 1972. The average wage of a worker today is $20.39, not the $38 an hour it would be if wages had kept up with inflation.
Narendra Modi states openly that his program will be to unleash “free market” reform coupled with authoritarianism in government. Modi’s history tells us what his authority portends: the massacre of 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat.
A new conflict broke out in Bolivia at the end of March. Thousands of miners blocked highways in five departments of Bolivia to protest a pending new mining law. Three miners were killed by the national police, while the miners took dozens of police hostage.
Reliance on metrics in healthcare has become a new Taylorism, or management by time study. Everything in the hospital workplace is now tracked by sophisticated computer programs, down to every last pill, gauze and penny, and down to every last motion. This vast pool of information becomes Big Data.
Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives, 2014-2015. III. Capitalism’s political and economic degeneracy. A. Karl Marx haunts capitalism’s stagnation. B. The race toward climate chaos.
Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives, 2014-2015: From the U.S. to Ukraine, crises and revolts call for philosophy. II. Revolt and retrogression at home. A. Women under attack. B. Many dimensions of revolt
May-June 2014 News & Letters online: “From the U.S. to Ukraine, crises and revolts call for philosophy”; “Unchaining the revolutionary dialectic”; much more…
Readers’ Views from the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters, part 2.
Jacqueline Jones’ new book, A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America, is not a call to ignore effects of the concept of race in law and practice. She finds the definition of race repeatedly twisted to suit the needs of the ruling class and wielded as a tool for subjugation of Black and white labor alike.
Workers in the state-controlled textile industry, mostly women workers, and public transport workers, sanitation workers, office workers, doctors, and even policemen launched a wave of strikes that caused Egypt’s Prime Minister and his entire cabinet to resign.
On Feb. 1, 2014, the Minnesota Orchestral Association [MOA] ended its lockout of striking union musicians. The lockout began on Oct. 1, 2012, the longest work stoppage in U.S. orchestra history. in a focus that would not have been possible without union and community solidarity, the Tea Party destruction of nonprofits everywhere in Minnesota and in the U.S.
That there are two Americas when it comes to the economy and the wealth of our nation is no mystery to anyone. Everyone now knows the top 1% have essentially been the only beneficiaries of the latest “boom.” Journalists and economists take pains to point out how this jobless expansion has allowed the investors to recover from their losses of the 2008 financial collapse. Workers, though, are still left holding the bag.
Ongoing national strikes and demonstrations by fast food workers demanding a $15 an hour living wage show that workers’ reality is not the media-touted economic “recovery” enjoyed by the super-wealthy finance capitalists. In real life the 2008 depression drags on. In a punitive move, Congressional Republicans wouldn’t even allow a vote for long-term unemployment benefits to continue, in spite of the record 1.7 million, or 37% of the officially unemployed, who have been out of work for six months or longer. Previously, a rate anywhere near this was called an emergency, compelling an automatic extension of benefits.
March-April 2014 News & Letters: Women fight for freedom against growing retrogression; On THE Philosophic Point and Dialectics of Organization and Philosophy; Capitalist economy is failing; Ukraine and Bosnia: historic uprisings; more…
THE SYRIAN REVOLUTION AS TEST OF WORLD POLITICS
I have been active in a number of student groups around labor and women’s issues. We always talk about “intersectionality” and recognizing different struggles. Somehow that didn’t seem to apply, though, when it came to the Syrian Revolution. Suddenly people didn’t want to talk about it. I [=>]
Robotics development has exploded within the past three years. Under capitalism, robotics has made millions unemployed, and robots have also become a means for employers to intimidate workers who oppose management dictates.
Garment workers and organizers from Bangladesh and Los Angeles discussed their labor conditions at the downtown L.A. Garment Center
Cambodian police attacked workers on general strike, whose nationwide demand was for the minimum wage to be doubled to $160 a month.
McDonald’s walkout in Oakland. Photos by David M’Oto.
NY rally demands $15 minimum wage, fast-food workers’ right to organize a union without fear of being fired.
• Over 100,000 South Koreans, mainly workers, demonstrated in Seoul on Dec. 28. They expressed their anger over a number of issues at the government of President Park Geun-hye.
One source of anger is the move to privatize some service by KORAIL (Korean Railroad Corp.). This had already led to the largest-ever walkout by members of the railroad workers’ union. Union officials say moves to privatize will mean fare hikes, service reductions, and safety problems.
On Dec. 22 riot police were sent to attack the Seoul headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. Without search warrants, they broke down doors and caused serious property damage, including to the adjoining offices of the Kyunghang newspaper, which has been critical of Park’s policies.
Other citizens, outraged by revelations of manipulation by the National Intelligence Service of the 2012 elections when Park was elected, joined protesting workers. Police had confirmed illegal attempts to manipulate the election beforehand, but were ordered to remain silent.
With all these problems and more, South Korean youth have been inspired by the “Why We Aren’t Fine!” campaign. This was launched when a student at Korea University, Ju Hyun-woo, made a poster for his school bulletin board that was picked up and broadcast over social media. He wrote: “I just want to ask, ‘Are you okay?’ Are you fine with ignoring all these issues because they aren’t your problems?…And if you are not ‘fine’ after seeing all these problems, then voice your opinions—whatever they may be.”
Many of these young people joined in the Dec. 28 demonstrations, and also held flash mobs in cities across the country.
On Jan. 6, RNs from the California Nurses Association (CNA) picketed a new state-of-the-art facility at Kaiser Oakland to protest increasing restrictions on access to care while decreasing frontline care staff. The opening was timed to coincide with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
As a contribution to Black History Month we reprint Raya Dunayevskaya’s memorial for Charles Denby (1907-1983), her comrade of 35 years, Editor of News & Letters from its founding in 1955 until his death and the author of Indignant Heart: A Black Worker’s Journal.
Three years ago, the Egyptian Revolution was fighting for its life in Tahrir Square. For 18 days and nights, the women and men of the Square faced off against President Hosni Mubarak’s security forces and thugs. In the end Mubarak was forced to follow Tunisia’s President-for-life, Ben Ali, into retirement and shame. The light of freedom spread–Square to Square, occupation to occupation. It was a historic turning point.
It was this global struggle that the military coup that ousted Morsi, and led to the massacre of over 800 of his supporters, was meant to stop short. Now, revolution continues, and the freedom idea lives, but the old world has tried hard to destroy it. Egypt’s newest new Constitution, passed Jan. 15 under the military rule of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, evokes only faint echoes of Tahrir. As artist Hanaa Safwat said, “The referendum is stained in innocent people’s blood. It has been built on the dead bodies of 800 people in Rabaa al-Adawiya.”
The January-February issue of News & Letters is online. Rampant U.S. surveillance slouches toward totalitarianism; Tahrir three years later; Charles Denby, worker-editor; Syrian revolution ‘brought us together’; Communization theory’s missing link: dialectical mediation; what happens after; Language and death in Juárez; Let RNs give care; …
Readers’ Views from Nov.-Dec. 2013 N&L: U.S. RACISM AND BLACK AND LATINO STRUGGLES; LABOR UNDER ATTACK; CTA vs. THE HOMELESS; DISABILITY AND HUMANITY; ABORTION IS A HUMAN NEED; EGYPT’S CONTRADICTIONS; DETROIT CRISIS; NUCLEAR PERIL; WHY A NEWSPAPER LIKE N&L?
Yesterday, a judge approved Detroit bankruptcy. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr outrageously claimed that the attack on workers’ pensions would be “thoughtful, measured and humane.” Read the News & Letters article for a view from the other side of the class struggle.
Oakland, Cal.—“One day longer, one day stronger!” shouted a transit worker to kick off a noon rally on Oct. 18 at Oakland’s Lake Merritt BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station. SEIU (Service Employees Int’l Union) Local 1021 and ATU (Amalgamated Transit Union) Local 1555 had shut down the trains shortly after midnight.
Kaiser imposed added staff cuts in the same breath as it announced the “Total Health Incentive Plan” campaign. While it is promoted as voluntary, the program hides the reality of the health of workers and patients sacrificed daily in the name of cost efficiency. Workers realize they risk their own health and the health of their patients when they come to work sick. Yet we are called into disciplinary meetings when we exceed the company set limit in the number of sick days.
The new November-December 2013 issue of News & Letters is online.
News & Letters, Vol. 58, No. 6
November – December 2013
The Syrian Revolution as the test of world politics
On Aug. 21 the genocidal regime of Bashar al-Assad murdered over a thousand civilians, mostly women and children, with sarin gas in the Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta. [=>]
Close to 2,000 people rallied in Chicago against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Dozens of people gathered outside a resale store in Chicago to demonstrate against Goodwill Industries’ hiring disabled workers at steeply sub-minimum wages.