Intense pressure builds as 38,000 retired Detroit City workers approach a voting deadline on the fate of their pensions and healthcare benefits under the Plan of Adjustment of the unelected Detroit Emergency Manager for the city’s bankruptcy filing.
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.
Facts on the ground threaten to spin out of control, increasing the danger of a full regional war in the eastern region, the possibility of dismemberment of Ukraine, and an intensification of U.S.-Europe vs. Russia saber-rattling. However, these are only the latest moments of the “pseudo-concrete”–the false alternatives that have arisen, seeking to usurp the movement of self-determination that was manifest in the Maidan Nezaleznosti (Independence Square) occupation in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev.
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.
When driver Jairo Reyes was fired by UPS at one of its Queens locations, 250 drivers did what any class-conscious union member would do: a protest rally demanding that Reyes be rehired. UPS fired all 250 workers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 [=>]
Kiev was host to an historic international gathering of workers’ organizations from four formerly Soviet nations that demonstrated the development of a new independent labor movement in Ukraine, now very active in the huge democratic-revolutionary movement.
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.
• 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.
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.”
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.
The AFL-CIO convention reflected changed realities and the need to adopt new perspectives and goals. Delegates redefined the labor movement as more than union members. For decades the bureaucracy has become more identified with the corporations than the aspirations of the workers.
Resistance by Indigenous groups in Colombia; Indigenous Guatemalans resist Canadian mining company; teachers in Mexico protest “educational reform” law
Today’s revival of interest in Marx, especially since the onset of the 2008 economic meltdown, includes a significant strain of economism and has revived controversies and issues addressed by Dunayevskaya in this review-essay of Paul Mattick’s book Marx and Keynes.
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.
What have we learned from the Marikana massacre of South African mine workers?
Despite overwhelming evidence against the mine owners, a judge ruled that no one was responsible for the mine collapse in Chile that trapped 33 miners three years ago.
Walmart store and warehouse workers, with the support of several busloads of national NOW conference participants, rallied at the downtown Chicago Walmart store.
The fast food workers of New York, along with those in seven other cities, are on the move and demanding nothing less than to be treated as human beings on the job, not replaceable parts in a giant fast food industry machine.
Workers at the vast Foxconn manufacturing complex in China now struggle against daily torture that is not only physical but mental. It is a new form of the banality of evil that combines Dickensian work conditions, crowded dormitories and a vast bureaucratic maze designed to make young individuals feel totally lost and alone when thrust into it by circumstances not of their own making.
A different Detroit is struggling to be realized in the minds and hearts of its citizens: individuals (unrecognized thousands of whom routinely maintain nearby abandoned property) as well as organizations—from churches and small businesses to youth and athletic programs, block clubs and neighborhood associations, and social and environmental justice organizations.
Bolivia’s Statism; Guatemala’s Genocide Trial in Disarray; Honduras coup anniversary
Rana Plaza, the building that collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 24, killing 1,127 workers—most of them young women—was constructed illegally. It is easy to show negligence and affix blame to this or that individual. But the greater truth lies within a system that is based on the most production at the lowest cost, with workers’ lives—and deaths—regarded as only one more cost of production.
People may imagine that teachers here hit the beach or kick up their heels poolside, sipping cocktails and working on a suntan. For me and many other teachers, though, Monday will be the kickoff to the summer routine of registering for unemployment benefits and looking for work, as, once again, a year’s contract has come to an end.
The media has been awash with articles on U.S. government surveillance since the bombshell revelations by Edward J. Snowden. The data mining by large U.S. corporations gets less attention. It relies not only on sophisticated electronic devices, but on the currency of fear and sheer intimidation which would make a Big Brother tyrant proud.
The persisting economic crisis has spurred new interest in Karl Marx including “Communization Theory” which projects Marx’s dialectic as a total break with capitalism but without posing a need for dialectical mediation beyond capitalism.
From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya:
In 1953 Russian slave laborers in Vorkuta acted
Editor’s note: July-August marks the 60th anniversary of the historic strike in the Russian slave labor camp in Vorkuta. Following Dunayevskaya’s May 1953 Letters on Hegel’s Absolutes, the 1953 revolts in Russia and East Germany were formative events for Marxist-Humanism. Few agreed with [=>]
The mass protests in Turkey, the presidential election in Iran and, above all, the continuing struggle for the Syrian revolution express the depth of today’s social crisis. These crises are interpenetrated and inseparable. The stakes are high.
News & Letters, July – August 2013. Lead: Turkey, Syria and Iran at crossroads of world revolt; From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya: ‘Russia more than ever full of revolutionaries…’; Editorial: Support striking prisoners!; Essay: Communization theory and its discontents truncate Marx’s dialectic; Workshop Talks: The boss is spying; Revolutionary from Turkey speaks; Brazil’s uprising; Teacher and school struggles; and more…
On April 9 rallies were held across the U.S. to mark the day women’s earnings catch up to what men’s were at the end of 2012.
“We are going through the biggest squeeze in living standards since my granddad was born in this city in the 1920s,” said Jones, who cites his grandfather’s conversion to trade unionism precisely through his experience working in Portsmouth.
Tunisia, Syria and Egypt show the determination of the masses to continue their revolutions in the face of vicious counter-revolution.
The rulers are not about to sit back and let revolt freely develop. All sorts of reactionary ideas and attitudes have been ushered into the mainstream of politics and the media.
News & Letters, Vol. 58, No. 3
May – June 2013
Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives, 2013-2014
Capitalism’s violence, masses’ revolt show need for total view
The world today is riven between the creativity of masses in revolt and the violent degeneracy of counter-revolution, whose destructiveness even extends to the revived specter of nuclear war two decades after the collapse [=>]
The number of unionized workers in the U.S. last year dropped by 400,000 members, to 14.3 million workers. Assaults on unions like right-to-work legislation in Indiana and Michigan and laws narrowing the right to union representation in Wisconsin had a huge impact on unions. The most important development is the transformation of union leadership from being militant fighters to contract concessionary specialists and corporation supporters.
Trade Fair, a supermarket in Astoria, Queens, with a unionized meat department, is engaged in a scurrilous effort to break the union. But the union members at Trade Fair supermarket are standing firm.
ATU orders bus drivers back to work: The strikers kept up the picket lines through a cold New York winter, defying rain, snow, and Bloomberg. The decision to order the drivers and matrons back to work in February came without any input from the strikers.