View of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean with tip of Africa visible. Composite NASA image from the Scientific Visualization Studio for the International Polar Year 2005.
View of Antarctica from low orbit if the ice cap was removed. Created with Bedmap2 by the British Antarctic Survey with NASA’s ICESat and Operation IceBridge, 2013.
We live in the midst of a time of transition. Now is a time of final endings and new beginnings. We live during a time of great volatility, destruction, and fear, yet also one vibrant with dynamic and revolutionary possibilities. Together we experience the ending of the Modern Age as global capitalism breaks down and global climate disruption accelerates. New energy sources and technologies begin to emerge as the old dinosaurs of coal and oil still roar. Marx, Engels, Trotsky, and others are being rediscovered upon the centenary of the Russian Revolution as more information is uncovered to discover what actually occurred and not the slander and falsehoods portrayed as “history.” Socialism, basically the expansion of democracy into all areas of life, is in a process of rebirth and renewal. At the same time our scientists discover more and more stars and planets likely to support life, humanity experiences more UFO and ET phenomena than ever before.
More and more whistleblowers dare to come forth to disclose what they know. These people include not only everyday folks, but top scientists and engineers, astronauts and pilots, military officers and intelligence agents, corporate CEOs, and high government officials. They are all credible people in their own right regardless if one agrees or disagrees with their individual politics and religions. Our fellow Humans who risk all for the truth face ridicule, harassment, loss of jobs, dismissal, threats to families, and in some cases what appears to be murder disguised as suicides or accidents.
Yet incredibly the mainstream mass media behaves as if these people are stupid and insane. Mainstream academia, beholden to corporate overlords and bureaucratic tyrants, remains too terrified and astonishingly ignorant to address these challenging subjects. Thus the people who most need to pull their heads up out of their smartfoneholes won’t even look at these life-changing issues. They will instead debunk these matters even when confronted with clear evidence governments deliberately created and engaged in debunking and smear campaigns during the height of the Cold War to distract the public from the enormity of the truth.
It is vital we human beings continue to awaken from old patterns of self-destruction to build new political and economic systems. We can do better than the horrors we visit upon each other and ourselves. We must ascend our current and prehistoric limitations.
We must support the establishment of a Constitutional, Democratic Socialist World Republic.
Creating a Democratic Socialist World Parliament with all representatives subject to recall in a participatory republic is a primary step in this direction.
No flash in the pan protests! Sustained demonstrations are required.
Building Massive Resistance against Trump and the Alt-Right helps build a Democratic Socialist world.
Major demonstrations are being planned across the United States of America over these two days to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump as President and Mike Pence as Vice-President. Other marches and rallies in solidarity with this insurrection are planned in other cities around the world. These protests, even in the midst of winter, are expected to be huge. Already over 25,000 people took to the streets of New York City on the Thursday before Inauguration Day to demonstrate against Trump-Pence and their ugly and dangerously stupid agenda.
It would be naïve to think all these vigorous acts of defiance, resistance, unity, and courage will have much immediate effect. And with today’s technologies at our fingertips with social media, anything is possible. Even more naïve, however, is to believe we can simply pack up and go home and plop down as if OK, look how LOUD we showed Trump-Pence and the Alt-Right we roared! No. This is a long fight shaping up. We must be prepared for a long, long struggle!
Know, too, when we on the Left fight, we win in the end. To fight and win, however, we must come together to educate and organize ourselves to fight effectively.
Consider examples in American history of what efforts activists took to win. Let’s look at our own history. Struggle takes time, and the more we fight we win. Perseverance is key. The Civil Rights Movement lasted from the early 1950s all the way thru the 60s into the mid-1970s. Significant high points were the Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 followed 10 years later by the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Then the Voting Rights Act and the Immigration and National Services Act passed in 1965, and the Fair Housing Act in 1968.
The anti-Vietnam War movement began protesting in 1964 and grew so vigorous President Lyndon Johnson of the Democrats was compelled to withdraw from seeking reelection in March 1968. These anti-war demonstrations also compelled the next President, Republican Richard Nixon, to withdraw U.S. forces from the Vietnam War in March 1973. These civil rights and anti-war protests merged with other movements as resistance to Nixon exploded yet again during the Watergate crisis. Nixon resigned the American presidency in August of 1974. The labor and environmental movements are other classic examples of struggles taking years to manifest a string of powerful successes.
Six Videos, the Petition, and our Stories…and it’s not over
Note this article with its compilation of videos is not marketed or sold for profit nor is anything in this article being marketed and sold for profit. This article and the videos within may be freely shared as long as various sources and authorship are acknowledged.
“There is one word missing. One word that makes all the difference. This word is ‘organized’. That is: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, ORGANIZED citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” It speaks to the power of people mobilization; the power of true change that starts from the bottom wing…there is a growing, if naïve belief that all you need is a lot of passion, a lot of commitment, a lot of good intentions and lots of mavericks, rebels, disruptors, contrarians and challengers and, alas, change will happen. It won’t.” – Activist Leandro Herrero of Spain on the necessity for activists to organize.
A workers’ revolt brewed within REI since at least 2015. Matters came to a head in July 2016 as workers rose up openly in nonviolent direct action. Among their issues at stake were demands for a living wage, for secure scheduling, and for democratic representation via a union. These demands burst open the heart of the matter to reveal whether the REI Co-op would be a truly cooperative business. Or a lie.
This is our story as a brief summary from my perspective. This is a small part of our big story. Indeed, the record of this peaceful uprising may even be your story. Much work remains to be done by we the working people. In the beginning, actions will be led by small numbers of people determined to organize and act in such a way, as the late, great anthropologist Margaret Meade liked to point out, as to change the world. They may be resisted at first by those who insist these leaders not speak for them but say, “some few individuals.” Progress cannot be stayed. Even the most peaceful revolution has setbacks and is set upon by cynics and automatic critics as well as often ignored by the apathetic and the resigned. It is OK to feel afraid, and let us move forward anyway even if scared. Don’t let fear stop us, but do let it keep us alert and on top of our game. Our revolt had repercussions benefiting many workers, although success wasn’t as widespread as initially believed.
One can trace this revolt back to the influences of the 2011 Wisconsin Insurrection followed by the Occupy Uprisings of 2011-2012. These struggles were followed by the successful Fight for $15 an hour minimum wage struggles of 2014-2016, an uprising sparked by Alaska Airline employees in SeaTac, Washington, and which spread across the country in the form of fast food strikes and other direct actions organized with assistance from Socialist Alternative and allies in the labor union movement such as SEIU.
More directly related to REI, however, were the 2014 demonstrations against sweatshop labor in making products for The North Face and against REI’s partnership with The North Face. The anti-sweatshop protests were small but loud, nationwide, and even erupted in other countries. A nationwide student labor union known as the United Students Against Sweatshops or USAS (http://usas.org) organized these demonstrations at REI and TNF stores.
Sweatshop labor is slave labor where capitalists leveraged deeply indebted people into perpetual debt bondage and exploited children with their tiny hands and fingers. Such vulnerable people were beaten, fed little, worked with little rest or sleep, sexually violated, kept terrified, and generally traumatized. People died and were maimed in these slave factories. The problem afflicts many companies as human slavery and trafficking is a worldwide wicked problem.
Patagonia and Apple were among the few to take vigorous action to tackle this problem, but the capitalist imperative to exploit resources and cheap labor for short-term profits, socio-cultural normalization, and political power makes cleaning up this mess self-defeating. The North Face, owned by VF Corporation in Greensboro, North Carolina, was one of the worst offenders. Only in 2015 did VFC and TNF start addressing sustainability and green energy issues, but still has not addressed its use of sweatshop labor.
More workers in America and more workers in other nation-states such as Bangladesh are beginning to understand this is an international issue, indeed an international working class issue. Thus an issue that demands we workers hold the capitalist class accountable as we further organize a new mass movement of the Left across the working and middle classes to build a planetary Democratic Socialist society.
Below is the first of six videos here and is from United Students Against Sweatshops. It is a part of REI history we must remember and Corporate Headquarters wants us to forget. REI HQ preferred instead to distract people’s attention by ramping up its efforts to market the petty bourgeois abomination known as “glamping.”
Before REI workers launched their own petition for real change after so many were fired in late 2015, there was an earlier petition demanding “REI, Drop North Face Sweatshops!” I signed it on Monday 2 January 2017. I am ashamed to confess I was unaware of this petition until recently and didn’t realize the true nature of the anti-North Face protests back in 2014. In 2014 I was still emerging from almost two years of being homeless or semi-homeless and ill with severe depression and a cluster of autoimmune conditions. That’s no excuse, of course, and I share to give one a sense of what I experienced. As I alluded to earlier, these struggles of solidarity for justice, equality, and liberty for working class people are far from over.
Max Silva, an REI Member, initiated the anti-sweatshop Petition for USAS with Moveon.org back in 2014. It still continues to gather signatures. Move On is financed in large part by billionaire George Soros. While I am no fan of Soros and his capitalist manipulations of geopolitics and unaware activists to fund his faction of squabbling plutocrats, Move On still charges hard as an activist NGO.
This accelerated worker and member discontent within the Co-op. The first phase of the 2015-2016 REI workers revolt culminated on the 11th of July 2016. A small group of retail workers from across the United States, although mostly from the West Coast, showed up in Seattle to go public en masse before the media. These workers were desperate, afraid, and courageous. I know as I was one of them. My coworkers and I were scared we would lose everything, and we didn’t have much left to lose as our wages and hours were so low and random. The possibility of getting fired and losing what little we had left terrified us. We stood up anyway. We workers took a stand.
We did so with the support of Councilor Kshama Sawant of the Seattle City Council and the dynamic staff of her office. We did so with the determined support of Socialist Alternative and UFCW 21. We did so with the support of many Members of the REI Co-op, and we did so with the support of larger numbers of our co-workers from all across the company who felt they had to stay discreet or anonymous but who informed us privately they were still with us.
We REI Coworkers had many, many even conflicting demands. In just a few meetings we distilled them into three primary ones. Most of our demands were met. One primary demand was not. There remains the lack of some form of organized, internal democratic representation of the workers to management. There are several different ways towards building a workers’ democracy. One way is thru a union. Another is thru cooperative ownership of the company as a true cooperative business with democratic deliberation and planning. Or a hybrid of the two. Cooperative worker ownership and/or unionization defends hard-won gains, sustains the network, and advocates for greater democracy. Clearly this struggle isn’t new but is as old as the exploited standing up to those who exploit them. Our struggles are far from over for democratic socialist representation is THE most important battle to win.
Back in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., came to recognize there can’t be any political democracy without having economic democracy and one can’t have capitalism without war. He came to champion democratic socialism. King was assassinated in April 1968 while in Memphis, Tennessee. He’d traveled there to support striking sanitation workers and their new union. The next five videos, however, demonstrate what’s possible when people from across the working classes come together to move what many thought were immovable mountains, especially REI, the mythic icon of the American Pacific Northwest and the Great Outdoors. Continue reading “Videos and Stories from the Unfinished Struggle for Workers’ Rights at REI” »
“Governments without credibility devolve into chaos. … The notion of credibility is why my political preferences don’t align with either of the candidates for president.” ~ Scott Adams
“The spread of fascism in the 1920s was significantly aided by the fact that liberals and mainstream conservatives failed to take it seriously. Instead, they accommodated and normalised it.” ~ James McDougall
Three points must be understood.
We in the United States of America are on the edge of civil war. This would be the case regardless of who “won” this election.
Few want to see or hear anything about this. Most dismiss it as alarmist rhetoric or far-right wing fantasy.
A civil war in a large, developed superpower would be catastrophic for this planet.
Let me rephrase what I just wrote, ok: A civil war in the United States of America would be a horror and incredibly stupid, so stupid I want to use the F-word.
Here’s another: People don’t want to experience extreme distress. They don’t want to see events race from unlikely possibility to likely probability. Then it’s too late. If more people saw such changes shift from bad to worse they would act to stop war by resolving conflict peacefully.
The United States is the most polarized it’s been since the American Civil War of 1861-1865. As I write these words on the 18th of November 2016, Hillary Clinton is well ahead in the popular vote, Donald Trump is well ahead in the Electoral College count, the Electoral College has not yet voted, the polls predicted Clinton to win, the media declared Trump the winner, Clinton conceded to Trump, and Trump proclaimed himself the President-elect.
Movements are underfoot to both promote and deny Clinton a victory over Trump by having the Electoral College vote align with the national popular vote. Clinton is ahead of Trump by over one million votes with about four million votes left to count. Her margin is expected to increase dramatically.
Both the Democrat and Republican parties are broken even tho their Two-Party Duopoly maintains its dominance over the elections, debates, and state electors to the national College. Independent third party candidates proved insignificant as the majority of Americans were too polarized between Lesser Evils. At the same time about half of legitimate voters even bothered to vote as the election was viewed by so many people as rigged, corrupted, and ultimately irrelevant.
Massive demonstrations were quickly organized in many cities with the majority of the demonstrators peaceful. Initially many of these marches and protests were organized by Socialist Alternative, a growing national organization of Democratic Socialists who leverage Marxist dialectical analysis, in conjunction with Socialist Youth and the Occupy Wall Street-inspired Movement for the 99%. Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Oakland, and New York City were the focal points for these protests. Other organizations quickly moved to organize demonstrations, too.
Ongoing protest movements such as Black Lives Matter and the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the banks financing the corporations behind the pipeline merged with the anti-Trump demonstrations. LGBTQI people marched with those protesting degradation and violence against women and immigrants. Students from high schools and colleges walked out of class to join and in many cases lead the demonstrations.
Allegations swirl around claiming George Soros, a multibillionaire member of the so-called globalist Cabal groups and backer of Hillary Clinton, financed and influenced demonstrations against Donald Trump. So far research demonstrates he hasn’t altho he may do so in the future. He has donated millions of dollars to a broad spectrum of Leftist groups in the past, but most of them are neoliberal groups such as the Open Society Foundations.
Socialist Alternative and its allies, however, rapidly organized most of the post-Election protests on Wednesday 9 November, in multiple cities via social media as they marshaled 40,000 or more people within hours. Socialist Alternative also scorned any help from the billionaire class and refuses to accept donations from Soros and his elitist ilk.
Scattered violence ripples across the nation and appears to be escalating rather than decreasing. The Southern Poverty Law Center recorded 437 reports of “hateful intimidation and harassment” by Trump supporters from the day after the election thru the 14th of November. This includes 20 reports of assaults upon Trump supporters. Most, however, were by White racists and fundamentalist Christians upon other ethnic and religious groups including immigrants and by heterosexuals against LGBTQIs.
Other reports demonstrate a surge in bullying in the schools, increase in police violence, interruptions of work, high volatility in the financial markets, and greater unpredictability across the planet as different nations, corporations, banks, and non-state groups review their options.
Protests in support of the Standing Rock Sioux water protectors, accelerated by Trump’s declared victory even tho he continues to lose the popular vote, have since spread around the nation to include demonstrations against the 38 banks including 17 banks directly financing the corporations supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline across the Missouri River and sacred tribal lands. Many others, however, seek to downplay the violence and bring people back to focus upon peace, compassion, positivity, and finding ways to move forward in spite of deep and ugly divides.
Meanwhile immigration hardliners among the pro-Trump Republican leadership propose the United States use World War II internment camps of Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants then in line to be naturalized as U.S. citizens as models to deal with Muslim-Americans today and track Muslim immigrants. Trump is viewed as unstable and continues to elevate White racist, sexist, and anti-immigrant extremists as well as vitriolic anti-environmentalists into positions of power.
The term, “locker room talk” doesn’t excuse anything. What many don’t get is locker room talk is another expression of rape culture. What many more don’t get is rape culture arises from capitalism.
Rape culture is so deeply embedded in patriarchal society many people aren’t even conscious and aware of its existence. Even some women dismiss locker room talk with shrugs as, “just what guys do, right?” Locker room talk is verbal violence, and verbal violence, for those still waking up to our cultural mess, is violence committed with spoken language. It’s often amplified with body language and facial expressions. Verbal violence spills over into written language where direct use of such insults may be criminalized as deadly threats, slander, and libel. When such violence is sexual, however, it’s often dismissed with eye rolls and shrugs or ignored. People who do use locker rooms are also fed up as what Trump calls “locker room talk” isn’t the norm in their locker rooms.
Donald Trump brushed off recently leaked recordings of his sexist, disgusting, and abusive comments towards women and girls as “just locker room talk.” He was called on it during the second presidential debate of this nightmarish campaign by debate co-moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN. Trump’s words were deeply disrespectful, so deeply disrespectful as to be unconscious of morals and ethics. His language described how he exploited his wealth and fame to force women to kiss and hug him. The billionaire in a fit of excited infantilism called for men to “grab” women by their genitals. Trump’s language was violent enough for others to characterize his speech as the verbal equivalent of “sexual assault.” His words are indeed violent. Trump’s talk is rape talk.
Hungry. Sun blazing in my eyes. Making me squint as my belly growled low like a dog guarding a slab of meat. Hadn’t eaten since yesterday. Felt ravenous after I spent too much of the morning in the hospital being poked, pierced, measured, and explored by fantastic doctors and their curious assistants. Prodded me like a damn bug followed by quick pecks on their computers. Felt as if I was a giant insect splayed out and peeled apart in an enormous Petri dish by mad scientists and clever kids. Who behaved as if any moment they would hobble over and slather weird baby food goo all over me to see what monsters might grow. Ahhh, yes, call me…Petri Dish Man! BAM! BAM! BAM! DON’T BAN THE PETRI DISH MAN! ran thru my head over and over, tho I dared not tell anyone at the time, as it felt so strange.
Brought back memories of being in the Battle of Seattle during the so-called Anti-Globalization Revolts, and memories of being in Occupy Seattle and Occupy Olympia. Yes, even brought back memories of being homeless during the Great Global Recession after rich, capitalist pundits declared it long over. Despite being such a proficiently medically inspected man, however, I felt grateful for Obamacare’s ACA here in Washington State. Thank goodness it covered what my employer’s private health insurance plan wouldn’t cover. I shake my head funny too, as it seemed plain old common sense for 21st Century America, indeed all of Planet Earth, to have an integrated single-payer universal health care system, a democratic economic system, a socialist system.
Thus satiated on clarity of vision, I ventured hungrily into The Dish, a funky Seattle café, for a belated breakfast. Call it brunch. Time was 11:30 am. It’s a lively little café in my neighborhood. I currently live in a small, quasi-cooperative household below the landlord’s family in a house uprooted from the I-5 Corridor running north and south across the States between Canada and Mexico. The house sits beneath three immense Western redcedar trees in the Tangletown-Latona part of Green Lake up in the middle of North Seattle. At least till the rent rockets up. Only my second visit to this cafe, too. Rarely eat out anymore. Now it’s a treat! The place was abuzz, too.
Two staffers had called in sick, however, leaving the business understaffed. Only two other people were out front serving including one new worker who admitted she didn’t know how to work anything quite yet. But they were game and smiled anyway. Big, welcoming smiles, too. They bustled in and out among crowded customers, and the one cook in back paced himself as he had to. The warm smells of cooked food swirled with exuberant colors intoxicated yours truly Petri Dish Man.
The ghost of a homeless guy watched everything right over the lip of his big orange coffee cup. He was so invisible it as was if I couldn’t see him but nevertheless still sense his presence. I felt the color of his large, tattered coat fade charcoal and gray. Was his bright orange cup just a reflection of the Sun upon a glass bowl of slivered fruit? No, he wasn’t there, just a coat and a cup and the ghost of a man who gave up everything precious but his dignity and curiosity.
Sometimes the fate of the world hinges on how a seemingly local crisis is resolved or escalates. So it is with Greece.
Greece and Europa, and yes, the world is at yet another unsteady crossroads. We look at the Grexit Crisis within the context of the Bigger Picture here in this article. The outcome of today’s Grexit Crisis may plunge us further into recession and depression, or begin to turn things around for the working class everywhere. The Grexit Crisis may trip us closer into a nuclear world war, which, seriously, already looms far closer than many realize or most want to think. Or in a much more preferable outcome so rearrange the balance of military and geopolitical power as to make such a conflagration unlikely. The European Union could fracture, as seems likely, as it is primarily a non-democratic financial treaty organization, or draw itself together into a truly democratic political federation where the working classes assert more socialist power.
The leaders of the European Union, under pressure from the Troika, today gave Greece and its Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras five more days to submit another set of proposals. The Troika demanded the new proposals be worded as if the Greek government is, ironically, responsible to save the Eurozone from financial catastrophe and possible economic collapse. It’s as if those political puppets of the capitalist plutocrats are crying, “Save us by further enriching the banksters who engineered this damn mess in the first place!”
The creditors of the Troika composed of the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission (EC as the executive body of the EU), demand repayment and greater austerity from a nation unable to do either. The Troika has manipulated and exploited Greece and sucked it dry. If anything, the banksters, those pro-Troika gangsters in business suits, praised as educated standard bearers of capitalism, behave as financial vampires. Anchored in bastions of global financial power, they are determined to uphold the domination of finance capitalism as a form of neo-fascist tyranny over Europa. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the woman who stared down Vladimir Putin and made him squirm in his chair earlier this year, comes across more and more as another cold-hearted Margaret Thatcher. We are all in a global class war, and the Grexit Crisis is a major battle in our struggle.
Much fear and paranoia has been and continues to be projected out into the mainstream mass media as well as some of the alternative ones. The pro-Troika side fears whatever they do or don’t do with Greece will set a bad example for the rest of the Eurozone. If they bail out Greece, then other nations within the EU will expect something similar. If they kick out one nation, then the others would fear being kicked out in the future, too, including for any hidden purpose with debt burdens as an excuse to cover the real reasons. If Greece exits the Eurozone, thus the Grexit, Greece exits the European Union. How else can the Greeks stay in, as the EU is not a political union of equals but the result of an economic treaty between unequal members?
“Extinction is not something to contemplate. It is something to rebel against.”
— Dr. Helen Caldicott, one of Jim’s heroines.
This is a critically important book. Its message is urgent. Democratic world government is an idea whose time is now. Our species stands at the threshold of global upheaval and possible extinction. A convergence of challenges unique in human history threatens to overwhelm us, and a cooperative worldwide response via a constitutional planetary democracy with a socially responsible economy represents the most effective way to address these issues. First, however, we must choose to create these new human systems for our planet. Jim Stark of Canada has come up with a novel yet simple approach to help us get there.
This book is a rare integration of vision and pragmatism. Jim Stark advocates a grass roots, internet-based Global Referendum along with paper mail-in ballots. The ballot proposition is simple and direct. One votes “Yes” or “No” for “Do you support the creation of a directly-elected, representative, transparent, and democratic world parliament that is authorized to legislate on global issues?” Early polls indicate a majority of people around the world and across many different religions and ethnic groups would vote yes if they could. Nation-state regimes, including the non-democratic United Nations, will also have a choice. They can work together with this movement, or be by-passed. In regions of severe repression, warfare, and socio-political-economic upheaval voting may not be possible. And it is a start. It’s start toward achieving a dream many have had for centuries.
Pope Francis denouncing global violence as “a piecemeal Third World War” at Redipuglia Cemetery where 100,000 Italian soldiers killed in the First World War are buried in Italy near its border with Slovenia, 13 September 2014. Agence France Presse (AFP).
We have been engaged in a nearly continuous but rarely acknowledged war for thirty-five years. It began in 1979, twenty-two years before the terror attacks of 9/11. This war is fought around the globe as a patchwork of campaigns between various factions of multiple and shifting alliances. Even Pope Francis recognized this odd and gruesome conflict as a “piecemeal third world war.” Although the combat is small in scale, it has at least two characteristics of a world war: 1) the sheer number of nation-states, stateless-nations, and non-state groups engaged, and 2) fighting and bombing on every continent save Antarctica.
This war has also been called the Middle East’s version of Europe’s Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) due to its widespread, confusing, and desultory patterns of overlapping conflicts and aims. Yet this war is barely recognizable as one long war. Even fewer see the direct relationships between the capitalist system and warfare. The more people see and openly acknowledge we have been in an ongoing war for at least 35 years, the greater we experience a long, overdue change of perspective. The sooner more and more people recognize this long war and numerous others are driven largely by capitalism with its systemic exploitation of ethnic and religious divisions to better access and control natural resources and transportation routes, the sooner we develop strategies to end war. A deep shift in perspective may shift how we approach and resolve this conflict. First we need to see what we are doing.
Two days after the People’s Climate March in 2,200-2,500 cities across the planet and the morning after airstrikes and cruise missile attacks on homes and buildings destroyed by the United States, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in Syria with France and the U.K., already in Iraq, planning to join Dutch forces in the Syrian campaign against the Islamic State, 24 September 2014.
Earlier this month I posted a link on one of my social media sites to an essay I wrote the night before, “Yes, $15 an hour minimum wage, NOW!” Among the people who responded along a spectrum between yes and no were two from my native state of Virginia. Let’s call one of them Brigid, which, of course, is not her real name. Brigid, a progressive liberal more radical than many and as mellow as a Summer pond at twilight, expressed concern about us activists moving too fast to raise the minimum wage. She thought proponents for $15 now would be wise to slow down and take more time. After all, why rush it and mess it up for all of us?
More captivating, however, was a wrenching inquiry from a friend of mine back East. He was a small business owner who ran a small but bustling bakery and café. My friend, let’s call him Isaac, declared raising the minimum wage up to $15 an hour “would put” him “out of business in one month.” Unless, he said, he jacked up his prices. I could hear him as he pounded his fist upon the countertop as he continued. “The socialist-workers rights-stick-it-to-the-man person in me loves it, but I am the man here. This seriously would break me,” he wrote. “Why do this if prices just rise in concert with pay?”
Fight for 15, Fight for the Working Class, Fight for Justice, Fight for Freedom. Solidarity!
Those who argue against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour do not get it. These naysayers spin broken webs of economic facts and figures rooted not in the reality of our natural environment but inside the charts and computer algorithms of a virtual world divorced from physical reality. It’s not about the money. I want to stand up and shout, “It’s not about the money; it’s about people! Real live human beings! It’s about relationships, our relationships! It’s about class war.”
Life is Struggle. The working classes get life is a struggle. So do artists and small business owners. So do the unemployed, the underemployed, the homeless, the foreclosed, the laid off, the poorly paid, the uneducated, the overeducated, students deep in debt, the hungry, the sick, the pissed off.
This is part of our struggle to build Democratic Socialism. As such we seek to remove banksters and Corporacrats from power. Get them out of out of politics and government. We work to reclaim democracy from the grip of the rich. We intend to go further and put democracy and justice into business, into the workplace, and into the marketplace.
This struggle is part of finishing what the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., started. He knew we couldn’t have political democracy until we also have economic democracy. This is not about the stupidity of self-righteous fools who ridicule the spelling and grammar of hardworking low-wage workers such as myself, but for democracy based upon human rights and social responsibilities instead of property rights and financial violence.
We understand this is an issue of ethics and even morals. We get in a way sheltered pundits do not the Great Global Recession did not end in 2009. Indeed, this worldwide almost-Second Great Depression continues to grind on and on without any clear end in sight. These are hard times for large numbers of people from the poor to the middle.
Remember bad times don’t last forever. We must remember our victories during times of discouragement. We must remind ourselves during those moments when we just wanna quit all this will pass. So, yes, stop and rest a bit. Then get back up and keep going. Because we’ve already come a helluva long way! We learn, adapt, and adjust. Together we recalibrate, grow, and evolve. Ours is the search for what works and best serves us thru inquiry, action, results, and analysis. It is the Dialectical process.
You keep going. We all keep going. We go. Action is better than indulging in cynicism, apathy, and do-nothingism. Struggle serves to move us hard working people from enduring ever more suffering-to-barely-survive to rise up to stand in our power and thrive.
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us in the last speech he made before he was assassinated he’s “been to the mountaintop,” he stood up there and looked over and saw the Promised Land. He knew all of us would get there. We will get there, and we will get there together!
William Dudley Bass
8-9 April 2014
Are our leaders mad? Are they deliberately setting the stage for a series of interlocking wars and economic collapses? All to look like accidents? Our leaders’ heartless mistakes of opportunity may indeed wipe out millions, even billions. For what? Are they are prepared to absorb extreme costs as the price to pay for extreme victory? Or are our leaders clueless? Are they just fucking stupid? Reacting with military precision directed with sloppy, nationalistic stupidity to converging crises overwhelming common sense, good judgment, and cooperative intelligence? And what the hell are We the People gonna do? Are we going to just read about it in a tweet the next day after half the world blows up? “Good morning! 1/2 earth blown up…the end looks better n movies & cool, i can still tweet!”
Up Close and Uncompromising! The front of one of the famous Red T-Shirts worn by volunteers for Kshama Sawant’s Socialist Alternative Campaign for Seattle City Council, Position 2, the 5th of November 2013. Photo by William Dudley Bass.
Those who argue against raising the minimum wage do not get it. The naysayers spin broken webs of economic facts and figures rooted not in the reality of our natural environment but inside the charts and computer algorithms of a virtual world divorced from physical reality. It’s not about the money. I want to stand up and shout, “It’s not about the money; it’s about people! Real live human beings!”
I really want to jump up and yell, “It’s not about money, you insert language most foul!” Such verbal intensity, however deliciously vulgar, would just rile up the troll militias, so I won’t cuss here. It’s challenging enough to feel compassion and empathy for my fellow human beings, including those who exhibit cruelty and heartless stupidity. No matter. We all suffer. Everyone single one of us experiences suffering. Life is Struggle.
The working classes get life is a struggle. So do artists and small business owners. So do the unemployed, the underemployed, the homeless, the foreclosed, the laid off, the poorly paid, the uneducated, the overeducated, students deep in debt, the hungry, the sick, the pissed off. Reformers understand action is better than indulging in cynicism, apathy, and do-nothingism. Revolutionaries understand reform only goes so far before it dead ends in a mirage. Struggle serves to move the working classes from enduring ever more suffering to survive to rising up to stand in their power and thrive.
During these bleak but exciting times I volunteered for Kshama Sawant’s openly Socialist campaign for Seattle City Council. I joined with other veterans of the Occupy Uprisings from the Green Party of Seattle and the Seattle branches of the Socialist Alternatives to serve to get her elected. Other Socialist Alternatives ran strong campaigns elsewhere, especially Ty Moore in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
It proved a tight race. Still counting ballots days after the Election. We rocked the city and made waves across the nation. Ripples were felt around the world. It was an astonishing experience. A small, highly disciplined organization raised well over $110,000 and marshaled over 300 volunteers, many of them part-time volunteers such as myself. What helped us stand out in addition to our red t-shirts was our uncompromising stand for a $15.00 an hour minimum wage.
An Analysis of the Successes and Failures of the Occupy Uprising, Occupy’s Comparison with Previous Recent U.S. Revolts, and What’s Likely to Occur Next
Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Earth! Occupy Love! What is our one Demand? WHAT IS OUR ONE DEMAND? Image altered from the Commons.
Occupy, of course, is not dead. The residue of the movement continues to smolder among the ruins of the Great Global Recession. An occasional flare-up bursts forth in protest here and there. In the underground of cyberspace, however, there lives a vibrant hum of activity. Instead of dramatic visibility in parks and streets, many in the Occupy movement carried their ideals, values, and freshly exercised practices away to their homes, farms, businesses, and neighborhoods.
A new alternative civilization is emerging from the osmosis of Occupy into the greater culture at large. A good term to describe this organic yet deliberate dynamic planetary community is the Breakthru Civilization. We’re breaking thru old paradigms and ways of being that no longer serve humanity as these obsolete ways aid in the destruction of life on Earth. Breakthru from love and respect for life to love and respect our selves, one another, and our planet. It is a difficult challenge to move forward towards hate, fear, and violence with compassion, forgiveness, and love armed with nothing more than aware minds, open hearts, and firm backbones. Yet this Breakthru accelerates the expansion of individual awareness and mass consciousness to understand and embrace Socialism as perhaps the only immediate alternative to the current system dominated by Capitalism and corporatist fascism.
The number of activists has dwindled since those promising days from September 2011 to May 2012. They certainly no longer reflect the greater 99%. Instead, Americans woke up to the reality of economic inequality and class war. Occupy called attention to this invisibly visible ugliness so vividly the topic of class warfare was debated among Republicans and Democrats during the 2012 Presidential Elections. Yet Occupy itself subsided into the nooks and crannies of local neighborhoods.
What happened? Especially after so much occurred in the beginning to astonish and galvanize people around our planet?
Before I answer those questions, we must acknowledge and celebrate Occupy’s multiple successes. Occupy left enough of a significant impact, certainly in the short term as this story has yet to run its course, to perhaps catalyze a larger and more multifaceted transformation than is often realized. It’s still too new. So let’s celebrate a few successes:
“The Extreme Inequality is Killing us – our Commons, our Democracy.” Syd Fredrickson of the Green Party in Occupy Seattle, 8 October 2011. Photo by William Bass.
Hey, guess what, folks? It turns out the leaders of the United States don’t even know exactly how many American and Allied military bases exist. Furthermore, the number of wars the so-called, unofficial but still real Euro-American Global Empire is engaged in does not match the official count. Because there are more violent military and intelligence operations occurring simultaneously than Empire wants to admit. When Special Forces engage in covert hostilities behind enemy lines of a state or quasi-state we are not technically at war with, or when the CIA fires drone missiles into countries that we’re also not technically at war with, isn’t that “war?”
There are two ways the great, borderless superpower of today behaves in a similar fashion to empires of old.
During the height of many large, polyglot empires from the Roman to the Mongol to the British, the imperial Center, i.e. the homeland realms, were often in a state of prolonged peace. Except, of course, for an occasional civil war for control of the state. The majority of the population enjoyed the illusion of a peaceful world of trade and commerce free of war. What they actually meant, however, were their cities and countryside were free from invasion.
The far-flung borders and colonies of these empires, however, were often in a state of chronic warfare. These conflicts included tribal wars, local ethnic rebellions, and frontier guerrilla wars. There were unique situations where off and on border wars raged between large empires without either committing fully to what would have been a Phyrric victory. Ancient History buffs may note one case in particular, the Roman-Parthian Wars. A Modern example would be the American-Soviet Cold War, although the Soviet Empire collapsed at the end of it.
Today, the dominant region of the Euro-American Global Empire is called “the United States Homeland.” “Homeland” is a post-9/11 term that recalls a time not all that long ago when the Nazis emphasized Germany as “the Fatherland.” The Soviet Communists did the same with Russia as “the Motherland.” The focus has shifted from American liberties and protecting Constitutional rights to enforcing Homeland Security with domestic surveillance and militarization. The militaristic and ultranationalist “feel” these terms evoke is quiet different from the peaceful, loving reverence many feel for “Mother Earth and Father Sky” for example.
The second similarity is the vast number of military garrisons empires establish to maintain control of far-flung regions, whether it is political control, to promote and protect certain religions and corporations, to defend against enemies, to hold territory, or to allow for safe commerce to flow. These imperial frontiers and colonies were dotted with numerous forts, castles, and other fortifications. The First and Second World Wars destroyed the concept of “forts.” Now they are called “bases.” Forts became something preteen boys built back in the bushes from which to lob rocks and sticks at one another.