Friday, December 31, 2010

Corporatism: Creeping Fascism Read the note which had one tea party consevative reply;'this Monk has been the last straw...'

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The need for Local Organizing

The mask has come off, Obama's concessions has eliminated the new deal, so now the fight is on. The raw deal of Obama has to be reversed and it must begin with the grassroots.

1. In your neighborhoods everywhere organize study groups to examine this statement (Populist Wedge Declaration), to discuss strategies, and to organize.
2. In some neighborhoods, it will not be to difficult to canvass, others may be more difficult and require licenses from City hall. But we have to get the word out. When neighborhood study group is ready, contact National office and we will prepare literature that you can use.
3. When possible, run for office or have someone in your group run. Even if just for a psotion in local democratic party or club, using the Populist Wedge Statement as your platform.
4. Use facebook, the Populist Wedge website for National coordinating of these neighborhood groups.
5. When the time is right, we from the National office will call for regional and National Conferences, be sure to attend and partipate. An annual convention is a goal, before the next Presidential election.

For myself and it is really hoped shared by all or at least a majority here, that it is obvious what must done in the immediate moment. We might disagree as to what the long range goal may be, and that is fine for this will make us more dynamic - but for the immediacy of the moment, there is a real need for commitment to build a movement from the grassroots, to reach out to our neighbors, to spread the word to the local community that not all is lost. Collectively we can make headway. The smaller victories can be taken to the larger State level, and can be taken to larger bodies of our political parties to be adopted. This is essential and no doubt will take a little time to achieve. We waste our time stay insulated and safe while staying on Facebook. From the National Office of LID, we can provide whatever support we have and help keep each local effort in the spotlight and network the local to the national.

Help us make this real, go to the LID website and use PayPal button and join ($20.00) or contribute as a sustainer of this effort.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An injury to one is an injury to all... An injury to one is an injury to all...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Media Coordinator Update, 11/26/10

So far this week, I’ve detected five “pickups” — reprints of C4SS commentaries in the “mainstream” print media:

The Bakersfield, California Californian ran Ross Kenyon’s “Tax-cut policy on a bumper sticker” on November 19th.
On the 22nd, the Tehran, Iran Times and the Oxford, Ontario Review ran “Torture: The Great American Export” by David D’Amato.
My own “Dim Bulbs Seek Bright Lines: The LA Times vs. American Travelers” appeared in the Caroll County, Maryland Standard on the 23rd.
The Deming, New Mexico Headlight ran Kevin Carson’s “The TSA is Evil AND Stupid” on the 24th.Media Coordinator Update, 11/26/10

Spread the Word

Spread the Word

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Upton Sinclair Mutual Aid Fund Needs you

Soon, unemployment benefits will cease for millions, time to act now... work with us to extend the unemployment benefits and create a means to provide direct relief for the coming crisis.
Upton Sinclair, LID fund

Leonard Peltier Letter To National Day Of Mourning

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Riz Khan - Fifty years after the sixties - Populist Wedge .org

Riz Khan - Fifty years after the sixties - Populist Wedge .org

The Defamation of LID, and it's current reformatting...

One of the ways to dismantle an organization or movement is to mount a defacement of it's intent and original purpose, especially when that movement is becoming successful. This has happened numerous times in American hstory. The SDS was defaced with the violence of the Weather Underground for example, and much of the time the AFL-CIO has been moved from it's workers base to the middle-right position of corporate owned unions. Well during the 90's this happened to the League for Industrial Democracy. According to Source Watch (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=League_for_Industrial_Democracy), LID became co-opted by the CIA, and was granted a grant (CIA front money) in 1985. According to Source Watch. by the 50's. LID 'became involved with the CIA in efforts to combat Communism'.

From what I understand, was that many in LID's Board of Directors were not anti-communist but were opposed to autocratic rule and the Stalinist doctrine of democratic centralism which became the 'official' Soviet line by the 50's and 60's. This sadly has defined communism since. Democratic Socialists and Social Democrats did not want to cave in to the Stalinist line and viewed this line of thinking as disastrous to the workers movement. Marxist-Leninist and Stalinist interpretation of the Marx's 'dictatorship of the proletariat' was counter to the real democracy of the working class that most in LID defended. And of which, not everyone on the Left can agree, which on the one hand is a good thing, while on the other hand we do need to find a unifying element of which we can agree upon. In recent correspondence with Tom Hayden I had, he wrote to me, that this position of disagreement the Marxist-Leninist and Stalinist interpretation of Marx seems to built into LID's dna. It should be, as the experience of Russia and the former 'empire' known as the Soviet Union or even China or Cuba is not the American worker experience. The worker experience itself, with the exception of the slave industry hasn't been serfs or peasants to a Czar or other autocratic rule. We are not exiting in a pre-industrial society striving to cast off autocratic rule and advance to an advanced industrial society as those who were waging revolution in Russia.

We can learn from that history, and no doubt the writings of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Castro have much to teach us about that struggle. But we too, have our own revolutionary heroes who are indigenous to our culture and who speak from our history and culture. If there is to be a socialist transformation of our society, and if this means that we have to wage class warfare, it is our struggle, not Russia's, China or Cuba. This is not to promote/defend some kind of new Socialist Nationalism, and we should remain part of the International. But doing so, does not mean abandoning our experience as workers in America who have at least a form of democracy and have already been through one violent revolution and a violent civil war (over slavery). Our next revolution must commit itself not to democratic centralism or a hard line position of only a violent class struggle will cast off the chains of enslavement. This is why I think, most of us call ourselves 'democratic socialists' or 'social democrats', Socialism will emerge from our own history and heritage as Americans.

But I am, as the new National Co-Director of LID going to put an end to this historical smear and as Director will make every effort to debunk this and get LID back on track as a workers organization supporting efforts by the working class to regain democracy and support worker initiated projects, to defend the rights of the working class world wide, and to promote grassroot democracy, democracy in the workplace and to push forward economic democracy. LID is back with the full agenda of struggle for full racial equality, the abolition of poverty, the strengthening of trade unions and cooperatives, the expansion of civil liberties, the extension of public ownership and democratic economic planning, and the realignment of our political organizations with a view toward making them more responsive to the will of the people. To counter the right wing takeover of American democracy by the corporate minority who own and control 90% of the resources and wealth of the world, and which threatens the very existence of humanity through ecological ruination and greed.

Brother Robert, Franciscan
There is no peace, peace is the way.

Robert Mills
"The problem on “the left” hasn’t just been the in-power Democrats. The nation’s relatively moribund Democratic Party-captive liberal activist and policy infrastructure has responded to the social and economic crisis and the corporate and imperial direction of policy under nominal Democratic rule with remarkably little in the way of serious criticism and protest. As John Judis noted in The New Republic even before Obama’s administration was more than one month old, “there is not a popular left movement that is agitating for [Obama] to go well beyond where he would even ideally like to go…. Instead, what exists of a popular left is either incapable of action or in Obama’s pocket.” By Judis’ analysis, the U.S. labor movement and groups like “Moveon.Org” were repeating the same “mistake that political groups often make: subordinating their concern about issues to their support for the [Democratic] party and its leading politicians….”
Paul Street The Empire’s New Clothes - Part Two First published: 18 November, 2010



"It has been all too ready to surrender the mantle of populist anger to the dodgy, regressive, and authoritarian right represented by The Tea Party – the latest incarnation of the right wing version of “the Paranoid Style in American Politics” and the most powerful such embodiment of the version in more than half a century..."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

extend federal unemployment

A Proposal: House Republicans today blocked an effort to extend federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, making a lapse in benefits all but certain when they expire at the end of the month. Democratic leaders could bring the bill back to the floor. Sign the petition here http://bit.ly/bpuI2H to tell Congress to maintain UI for long-term jobless workers.

And there is the option to hit the streets massively, call for a poor people march and assembly. Make it as big and as widespread as the anti-war movement and form alliances with all direct action organizations and labor unions as possible. If France and England can do it, we can too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Summary of “Christarchy”

Sorry folks, this was suppose to be sent to my blog at cyberb764... Blogger keeps defaulting to the Industrial Democrat rather than my personal blog page. There is no delete button here and cannot move it to my other blog. But you may find tis interesting being an alternative Christian left/anarchist position. The same thing happened with the sermon submission about hope, didn't want to offend anyone... it was not intentional. I am sensitive to those who do not believe and apology is given to those who really object to this sort of thing (On the other hand, there might be someone wanting to hear). So if you want, skip these as they were intended for a different blog.

A Summary of “Christarchy”

Why I am a Progressive Populist Christian Anarchic-Socialist.

From the earliest days of my activism way back in the 70's I realized that Christianity as it has been propagated and promoted has very little to do with the actual life and events of the one called Jesus and the followers who were called Christians. Jesus was a religious and political threat, both to the Jewish ruing class and the emerging Roman Empire. The crucifixion was the method used by the Romans to punish rebels and heretics (those who refused to worship Caesar as a god). The Romans effectively used rhetoric and propaganda to convince people of their rightness and also attempt to shift blame to someone else. So Pilate told the Jewish authority to try Jesus, and when this failed, he turned to the people and told them Roman Law permitted one offender to be released in exchange of another. Who did the people want executed, Jesus or Barabbas? Well obviously, on the surface then - the Jewish people and the the authority could now be blamed for the execution and death of Jesus, Rome was satisfied and their idea of justice was carried out. This man Jesus will not be threat, and his followers will scatter.

Well it didn't work out that way, as it did for other popular leaders before Jesus. There had been many, including Barabbas who a 'terrorist' belonging to a sect of assassins called the daggers. It is interesting to note that Barabbas, meant 'Son of the Rabbi', hinting at the fact that he was of the Rabbinical line, while Jesus was Nazarene, of whom was a minority and could be considered 'from Palestine, as Nazr was a part of then Palestine. Anyways, these people were looked down upon, mistrusted and generally considered inferior to the Jewish race. No doubt, this Jesus was Jewish in origin, and the writers of the Gospels made special note of his lineage through Mary and Joseph. The Jesus people or followers, they were not called Christians, except as a derogatory term and were outcasts and was forced to live underground, as they were considered rebels against Rome, and the Jewish authorities did not want to make trouble with Rome. But they continued to grow, and to spread beyond the borders of Israel through the Middle east, Greece, Rome and even as far as Africa and India.

So for me, being a Christian also means being a rebel against authority and the State. hence it is part of my belief to be an anarchist. So as to be consistent, I cannot support ideological any State, most especially impose a theory of theocracy upon the secular State. Fundamentalists of any religion, who believe in the primacy of God, also attempt to force theocracy upon the whole culture. I refuse to believe that Jesus advocated this idea. For he taught 'the kingdom of God is within, and the Kingdom of God is already in your midst. if there is to be any kind of theocracy, this between you and God, in your heart and in the relationship you have with this personal God, and it is insanity to think that this relationship can forcefully be imposed upon the State. Instead, it is to seek after the Kingdom, which is to have no State control or rule you. hence to be a Christian anarchist.

However it doesn't stop here. My faith is not passive, and it is not confined to what has been called praying in the navel sort of spirituality, whereby you seek God and forget about everything else. This passive type or religion is as dangerous as the ones which seek to establish a theocracy on Earth. We must live as a society, as a community. The question is one of governance and how thte society is to organize itself. The early underground 'Church' was communal and socialist, and being poor, defending the poor. as well. They were all workers as well. They had trade and vocations, not as we define the worker today, but they worked with their hands. However rather than having 'lords or masters, they all shard equally what they made. In this underground, no one was left needy and all supported each other. It was what todays Marxists call primitive communism. But another term that I prefer is Anarchic-Socialist or the term Mutualists (as it was called by Peter Kropotkin). It is not primitive, as Jesus calls us to love one another, and some historians like Josephus were astonished enough to make note that these Christians surely loved one another. Tis love is a radical way of life and does not really leave much room for an individualistic interpretation of loving others when it is convenient or as a one to one gesture, as evidenced of the way the community lived in the beginning, so should we if we claim to be a following of Jesus. Certainly there is th dimension of personal-ism, that is we give to each other as real living persons, and not as a principle or object, and it is best we do it as a community. The very word 'agape' implies community. Charity within the context of community implies also social justice. The teaching in Matthew 25, where whatsoever you do or not do the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the imprisoned, the naked and scorned is being done to Jesus himself implies a social context, for in it Jesus states the nations shall be gathered at Judgment and be divided base on whether they did or did not do justice.

Politically then then I support an ideology of the Democratic Socialist and do not attempt to impose a false theocracy . Any State under which I am to live will either be a just and compassionate one consistent with my Faith or it will be an unjust State that is inconsistent with my faith. If unjust, then I must oppose it, and support the ideals of one which is consistent with the Gospel values of justice, compassion and community. I cannot accept the notion that Capitalism is such a system. You cannot justify Capitalism with scripture or faith. Capitalism indulges in self gratification, personal gain and the idolatry of wealth, as such it encourages and promotes selfish behavior and is contrary to community and to justice. Hence I am a Democratic Socialist and within the commitment to revolutionary non-violence I will fight for and support this position. And it is my belief, that Democratic Socialism would support mutualist communities, whereas the Capitalists refuse to accept them and even fight wars to prevent them.


Robert Mills
November 8 at 7:49am

Vision

Upton Sinclair, Clarence Darrow, and Norman Thomas were among the many who built the league for Industrial Democracy. Students of League for Industrial Democracy gave birth to the New left through the SDS. We live now in the 21st Century, and we need vision and real time solutions - LID and SLID continues to be committed to take the lead, investigate and propose and adopt solutions.

It does seem that the American people are not just ready to take a leap, to take a risk and begin taking stock of where we are really, and what our true potential could be. But the truth is, we should be prepared to examine beyond what our current options of 'business as usual' politics and way of living, to even go beyond the old way of beinng proggressive or left. To seek an entirely new revoltionary outlook, and move forward into the future. Some of this requires stepping back and taking stock of what has been tried and failed, to what has been proposed and not tried while rejecting altogether what is not advancing humanity, compassion, justice and peace.

Why on this insistence on revolution? What about just plan ordinary reform? To be a progressive populist, isn't it just enough to rework the exiting system? There are clearly two defining reason for the need of revolution rather than reform.

Political systems and other human conventions can be likened t the computer hard drive. When it acumulates too much junk, malware and such, there comes a time when the only way it will run smoothly and as it should, it has to be be wiped clean and reformatted. Since human conventions and systtem are also creations of the human mind in the first place, and no humna mind is perfect, the system itself needs to reformatted and start afresh.


We have accumulated so many laws, interpreatations and revisions, it has become overlyy cumbersome. Taake for example, I come from a City that still has old west statutes in their law books. One of those makes it illegal for automobiles to be driven on main streets, as they scare horses and are a hazard too much. Obviously there are no horses, why has this statute never been removed? How many other laws are outdated yet stay on the books?

And the second comes from the Burmese Democracy movement

"A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions with a view to an improvement in material conditions has little chance of genuine success. Without a revolution of the spirit, the forces which produced the iniquities of the old order would continue to be operative, posing a constant threat to the process of reform and regeneration." Aung San Suu Kyi

So then, to be progressive and to be populist, we need to have vision and we need to have spirit. To paraphrase Tom Paine, If we are to cast off our enslavement, we cannot merely repeat the role of the system which we are currently oppressed by, but to cast it off completely and create anew one which is compassionate, just, free and peaceful.

--
Bro. Robert FMC
Franciscan
There is no way to peace, peace is the way

The Peter Maurin Work Co-operative

A project of the Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra in Salinas Ca.

The goal of the Work Co-operative is to create sustainable work and revenue opportunities for guests of Dorothy's Place who are ready for a "next step" after volunteering. Our emphasis is building self-esteem and confidence among our members and creating a work environment without overwhelming stress.

Everyone needs work with a purpose just like the air that we breathe. There is no substitute source for the validation that the experience of work can give. When one has been unemployed for months or years, each and every day becomes more and more of a burden. Adding to the hopelessness that unemployment breeds, are the inter-related issues of personal, familial, and social breakdowns that oftentimes contribute to alcohol and drug addictions. The emotions of depression, anger, fear, loneliness, and desperation also prey upon the homeless, all of which make "job seeking' akin to climbing Mt. Everest with no oxygen. This is where the Peter Maurin Work Co-op begins.

The enterprise is named the Peter Maurin Work Co-Op after the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, Peter Maurin (the “Catholic Worker” is the model on which the Franciscan Workers base their life of service). Volunteers and guests planned and are running the operation making screen printed t-shirts and canvas bags that we then sell at different community venues.

The designs are simple and created by local artists, reflecting the philosophies of the Franciscan Workers. Clothing used for printing is either stock from a “sweat-shop free” supplier, or good quality clothing recycled from donations received at Dorothy’s Place.What started as an art project during the Women Alive! shelter hours has grown to a small silk screening micro-enterprise. We do most of the work during the day and this provides a small income for participants (based on sales) and income to feed the expansion of the operation.

The Work Co-op is now selling on eBay -- go to eBay store "ST Pebble" and order our original designs shipped right to your door!• Purchase wearable art from the Peter Maurin Work Co-op for yourself and your business! Call 831-757-3838 or email tshirtsforall@gmail.com for more details! We create custom orders!• Consider contributing to this project: we need start-up money to purchase supplies! We have a funding goal of $8,000 for this year.• Consider also becoming a business mentor/partner – this is an opportunity to really change some lives!• Order shirts as gifts for family and friends!

Go to our Peter Maurin Work Co-op eBay Store and check it out! What could be better than original designs in cheap art delivered to your door?

Our Vision – the Soupline Café

It is the goal of Dorothy’s Place to go out of business. In other words, we can “imagine paradise”. We can imagine communities, cities, nations, and a world of “justice for all’.

The solutions to poverty, marginalization, and homelessness are adequate housing resources, job training with actual jobs afterwards, educational and volunteer opportunities, support communities, constructive recreational outlets, and recovery programs that include on-going mental health guidance. Each of these components has been built into the plan for a New Soledad Street (New Chinatown) envisioned by the Franciscan Workers more than three years ago at our first Soupline Forum community conference. Creating a thriving community of housing, job training and small businesses, transitional programs, neighborhood youth activities, a living history museum and culture center with artists and writers in residence, a Chinese Garden, and building design to reflect the history of the area is a great unifying vision for a revitalization plan that builds upon our community assets and resources. In March of 2007, that vision was incorporated into the new Chinatown Renewal Project draft plan, adopted by the whole Chinatown stakeholder group.The element of our vision for providing job training and jobs compels us to transition our Dorothy’s Kitchen program into the “Soup Line Café”, open to the paying public, still offering hospitality and no-cost meals for the poor and marginalized, and employing graduates of our food service training program. At the new Soupline Café, visitors and residents alike can purchase lunch, relax in a nurturing environment, and become (at least temporarily) immersed in the rebirth of possibilities for the homeless persons that are students in the program.Employing formerly homeless individuals, the “Soup Line Café” would be advertised as a “retired” soup kitchen. Once Soledad Street has experienced the renewal that the neighborhood plan calls for, it will be the perfect destination for lunch for the many new community residents and for business professional in Oldtown Salinas. We see a beautiful, lively environment with patio seating where a server greets you and offers a delightful menu. We see guest instructors being chefs from a local restaurants and an on-site collaboration with a local culinary arts school, and all servers and restaurant workers being students or graduates of the program.It’s a powerful vision. And just as the vision developed in the Soupline Forum is becoming a reality for Salinas’ Chinatown, the vision of our Soup Line Café will become a reality for our homeless guests. Please help us share this vision with others – and contact us with questions, ideas, and support!

Submitted for consideration by Bro. Robert National Co-Director LID
A model project for Upton Sinclair Mutual Aid Fund Proposal.

Robert Mills
October 30 at 7:28am

Class, Manifest Destiny and the American Worker

The doctrine of Manifest Destiny came about about the same time of the American Revolution, with the Colonies. In 1776, Adam Smith had written "Wealth of Nations", the first complete description of a new economic system called capitalism. Smith had called for the freedom of capitalists to operate their businesses as they saw fit with little interference from government, and that it was a Divine right ordained by God.

The American Revolution happened, the colonies became States and Federalism began. But it was inspired by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny and capitalism.

It was not until the mid 1800's when Karl Marx bean shaping a new economic theory and of revolution. Both his writings on the Paris Commune and Das Kapital began to challenge Adam Smith which at the time was the total 'science' of economics, Capitalism could not fail, because it was God given.

Before Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao, there was Karl Marx writing directly to the American Working Class in the 1840's. Socialism was emerging, although not fully elucidated until later in the 1890's. Frederich Engels was also writng to the American Workers, warning the working clas not to take Das Kapital and the Comunist Manifesto as 'Gospel' or a divinely inspired work, but to use it to assist in understanding the mechanisms of capitalism and oppression. After all, this theory of socialism was a science not a religion, class struggle was a theory, not a doctrine. For both, the International, class struggle and revolution challenged capitalism, and the doctrine of manifest destiny as claimed by the doctrines of Adam Smith.

So we today should not look at the class struggle and the workers struggle as some sort of gateway to heaven, The hiostory of U.S. labor is unique and has had to deal with specific aspects of culture which cannot be found in Russia, China or Cuba. Solidarity is certain, but the American worker has and will continue to reject the imposition of 'doctrine' and is more concerned with the issues and concerns which effect the American worker. Lenin's amd Mao's peasent revolution does not concern the American worker (which is not to say, they did not contributed to the advancement of their countries and to advance industrialization) . The American worker does not want to stand under the banner of Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky or Mao.

"You have wide field in America for work along the same lines. A coalition of the German workers with the Irish workers (and of course also with the English and American workers who are prepared to accede to it) is the greatest achievement you could bring about now. This must be done in the name of the International. -- Greetings and fraternity!Karl Marx"

"We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority.If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant warcry of your re-election is, Death to Slavery....When an oligarchy of 300,000 slave-holders dared to inscribe, for the first time in the annals of the world, “slavery” on the banner of Armed Revolt; when on the very spots where hardly a century ago the idea of one great Democratic Republic had first sprung up, whence the first Declaration of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European revolution of the 18th century; when on those very spots counter-revolution, with systematic thoroughness, gloried in rescinding “the [...] ideas entertained [...] at the time of the formation of the old Constitution,” and maintained “slavery to be a beneficent institution,” indeed the only solution of the great problem of “the relation of labour to capital,” and cynically proclaimed property in man “the corner-stone of the new edifice,” then the working classes of Europe understood at once, even before the fanatic partisanship of the upper classes for the Confederate gentry had given its dismal warning, that the slave-holders’ rebellion was to sound the tocsin for a general holy crusade of property against labour, and that for the men of labour, with their hopes for the future, even their past conquests were at stake in that tremendous conflict on the other side of the Atlantic. Everywhere they bore therefore patiently the hardships imposed upon them by the cotton crisis, opposed enthusiastically the pro-slavery intervention, importunities of their betters—and, from most parts of Europe, contributed their quota of blood to the good cause.While the working men, the true political power of the North, allowed slavery to defile their own republic; while before the Negro, mastered and sold without his concurrence, they boasted it the highest prerogative of the white-skinned labourer to sell himself and choose his own master; they were unable to attain the true freedom of labour or to support their European brethren in their struggle for emancipation, but this barrier to progress has been swept off by the red sea of civil war.The working men of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Anti-Slavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world."

—Karl Marx, “To Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America” (November 1864) [brackets in original]

Also see http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1870/letters/70_04_09.htm. http://books.google.com/books?id=486z9lE-jdsC&pg=PA311&lpg=PA311&dq=Karl+Marx+and+the+U.S.+worker&source=bl&ots=BlYYFLL6Oc&sig=V4v0-7klo2jlLT9xzD3dXUgzQ9o&hl=en&ei=rurWTMroDIrSsAPqt8TsBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBsQ6AEwATge#v=onepage&q&f=false,

Robert Mills
November 7 at 10:45am

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Populist Wedge

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FROM THE CORPORATE WING OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, herein set forth by the Populist Wedge on behalf of Working Family Democrats across the United States.Proposed in the spirit of "The Declaration of Independence of The United States of America", ratified July 2, 1776; "Metalworking Men's Declaration of Independence", July 4, 1829; "Declarations of Sentiments and Resolutions Woman's Rights Convention", July, 1848; "What to the Slave is the Fourth
of July?" by Fredrick Douglas, July 5, 1852; the "Negro Declaration of Independence National Independent Political Union", February, 1876; The Omaha Platform of the Populist(or People's) Party, July 4, 1892; the "Declaration of Interdependence" of the Socialist Labor Party, July 4, 1895; "New Declaration of Independence" by Emma Goldman, July 4, 1909;"Declaration of Workers' and Farmers' Rights and Purposes" of the National Unemployed Leagues, July 4, 1933; The Homestead Steel Workers Declaration of Independence, Summer, 1936; and "Declaring Independence from Big Oil, Big Coal, & other Domineering Corporations", the Shalom Center, July 4, 2010.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one class to assert its natural rights in opposition to another class and to assume among peoples a political station of equality to which the laws of "nature and of nature's God" as well as the principles of their political compact, i.e.The Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution, entitle them; a decent respect to the opinions of humankind, and the duty owed to their fellow citizens, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to such a separation. We are working class families who make up the majority of the Democratic Party. Below we set out the causes that force our separation from the corporate-controlled wing of the Democratic Party.We hold these truths to be self evident: that all women and men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness is dependent on both political and economic democracy. Each individual is entitled to a sharing in community; honorable employment and living incomes; laboring hours conducive to a rhythm of work and rest, that frees time for family, neighborhood, civic involvement, participation in self government, and the expression and nourishment of the spirit; a life-sustaining share of the earth's abundance; democratic elections not controlled by wealth and legislatures that can respond to the democratic will of their constituents; peace with and among all peoples of the earth; and responsible relationships amidst the whole web of life upon this planet.We therefore set forth the following precepts and demands:

First: That the working people of all nations share more in economic interest with each other, than the workers of any nation share with the political and economic elites of their own nation. Working people gathered in their trade unions, community organizations, cooperatives, and farm associations are the bulwark of democracy. We demand the end to all unjust wars where America's most important resources, i.e. the lives and health of its young people, are squandered in controlling the destinies of our peoples. We demand an end to all trade agreements such as NAFTA and GATT that allow American-based multinational corporations to send formerly American jobs to foreign countries were the laws allow increased worker exploitation and coercion, along with lower pollution control standards, and the manufacture of shoddy, often hazardous,goods.

Second: That governments derive all just powers from the consent of the governed. That governments exist for the benefit of the governed and not the reverse. Therefore, it is the duty of the governed to alter and abolish all forms of domination,political, economic, cultural, and religious, that would seek to deny the governed full and complete access to the power which belongs to them alone. We therefore demand a Constitutional amendment providing for all election campaigns funding solely by the United States, or the individual States, paid for by the contributions of natural persons, actual human beings, under limitation set by Congress and the legislatures of individual States. We further demand that all elections in the United States be conducted by Single Transferable Ballot (STV) thus assuring the broadest selection of candidates, parties and positions represented in each election. Further we insist that every electoral constituency be allowed to trigger a recall election for any public official, state or federal when a petition signed by 15% of that constituency be presented to the appropriate office. In the case Federal officials, a petition supported by 15% of the electorate in 2/3's states ought be considered sufficient to trigger a recall election. In addition, a petition signed by 15% of the voters of any constituency should be sufficient to trigger a statewide or federal referendum on an initiative proposed by citizens. We demand the end of the filibuster in all legislative bodies.

Third: That war, by its very nature,is a crime against humanity. Occasionally, it may be necessary for a people to defend itself from attack. This is never an excuse for the imperial acquisition of resources, territory, or an attempt to establish military or ideological hegemony. We therefore demand an immediate end to Western involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and through-going investigation of all public figures involved with these unwarranted wars. We demand the resumption by Congress of its Constitutional duties to declare war or initiate military conflict, further, we insist on strict adherence to all international laws, conventions and treaties regarding the conduct of war by the United States and any ally benefiting from its military aid. We insist upon an immediate 25% across the board cut in United States military spending, with the exception of programs that support the health and well being of those in the military services and veterans who have served their nation. We then insist upon a continued 5% cut in military spending each year until a 50% reduction. It is possible to make such cuts without disadvantaging military personnel. These tax payer dollars can rightly to be redirected to fund the urgent civilian needs of the American people and people of poverty-stricken regions around the world. Factories that make tanks, missiles, and war planes can easily be converted to making light rail and "mag-lev" trains and the parts necessary to retro-fit buildings for solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources, and renewable energy cars. A nation which fails to defend its citizenry from homelessness, poverty, infrastructure degradation, preventable disease, bankruptcy due to medical costs, and to aid less fortunate peoples around the world with equitable humanitarian assistance is not a "super power" by any definition.

Fourth: That the rights of humanity as set forth in the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights may never be transgressed by any party no matter how imperiled or aggrieved that party believes itself to be. Torture and the deliberate targeting of non-combatants is never morally justified. Likewise the use of an anti-personnel device, regardless of whether the explosive comes from a fast moving aircraft or is carried in a backpack aboard public transportation or is buried in the ground to indiscriminately kill and maim, is unacceptable. The deliberate, killing, imprisonment, starvation, or displacement of massive numbers of people for political gain is now and forever WRONG! We insist that the United States submit to the jurisdiction the international Criminal Court and join in all international conventions against the manufacture of cluster bombs, depleted uranium and phosphorous projectiles, and land mines. The United States must declare a moratorium on the manufacture and deployment of nuclear weapons and move expeditiously and transparently toward a decommissioning its own and the world's stockpile of radiological and chemical weapons.

Fifth: That humankind has a right to be free from the persecution of ethnicity, gender, religious preference, political ideology, sexual orientation, age, or infirmity. Nations are entitled to borders that reflect national sovereignty and realistic concerns for self defense. While governments have a right to maintain the security of their borders, they lack the right to harass those forced to cross a particular national frontier in order to find gainful employment or shelter from the ravages of war, famine, or natural disaster. We reject all laws that would racially profile any group or punish undocumented workers merely for the crime of attempting to earn a livelihood.

Sixth: We are not cheerleaders for the slaughter of any group of people no matter the ideology of those pursuing the massacre. We will never apologize for tyranny or injustice, regardless what grave exigencies that the tyrant or the insurgency shall claim. We insist that the U.S. premise civilian and military assistance and trade relations with our allies and trading partners on those nations' willingness to respect the human rights of their own citizens and and the peoples of other nations.

Seventh: While people are hungry, homeless, poorly clothed, and without the basic necessities of life, there can be no democratic process. As Thomas Paine said, "Necessitous men are not free men." We therefore insist upon the creation of meaningful jobs by our government and a minimum livable family income for all American residents regardless of a person's age, infirmity, or resident status.

Eighth: People have an inherent right to worship or not worship their Creator(s) and participate in spirituality as their conscience dictates. The state must never be the arbiter of religious thought. Instead, it is the people who must instruct the government as to spiritual and moral precepts. Therefore, it is the right of each person to disagree vehemently with others in their society upon the nature of what is moral. A democratic government cannot take sides. This does not mean that the individual members of an elected government cannot and should not be guided by moral precepts. No one seeking election in a democratic society should be asked to divest him or herself of whatever spiritual and moral precepts he or she holds.We insist on an open political system that ends all discrimination on the basis of one's social views on religion or sexuality.We hold the Defense of Marriage Act and all state laws against same sex unions and the military policy "don't ask; don't tell" to be an infringement on personal liberty that violate the separation of church and state and equal protection doctrines held to be essential to our republic.

Ninth: Human beings are the stewards of the earth, not its masters. No generation has a right to pass on a polluted or degraded planet to the generations that follow. We demand strong international laws to prevent global climate disaster by capping greenhouse-gas emissions; ending all off-shore oil drilling by July 4, 2015; an immediate moratorium on new drilling; and swiftly moving the US and world economy from fossil-fuel dependence and nuclear power to renewable energy.We realize that the Katrina disaster was man made not a natural disaster. It is time to repair the Gulf, our Gulf and rebuild the communities and houses of all those who were displaced by our government's efforts to bend nature to benefit of commerce.

Tenth: That in any prosecution brought for any crime a defendant shall have a right to be heard by himself, and/or through counsel, and shall have an absolute right to examine all evidence, to face all accusers, to call all material witnesses and to make whatever representations to the tribunal which he or she faces, which may seem to the defendant to be exculpatory.The judiciary of a democratic nation must be independent and separate from that nation's legislative and executive branches-of government and there must be put into place a Constitutional Amendment that the American judiciary be elected to office in the same manner as other public servants, holding office for set terms and facing recall at the discretion of the voters. All privilege and immunities must be ended for lawsuits brought against public officials for wrong doing.

Eleventh: There is only one cure for the ills of democracy; more democracy! Free people will build a wondrous and diverse culture that will express what it is to be truly human. We therefore demand a Constitutional amendment to pay for all election campaigns solely by public contributions of the United States, or the individual states, paid for by the contributions of natural persons and the banning of all corporate money in elections. Limits for election spending must be set by Congress and various State Legislatures. These limits must also include in-kind contributions of anything excerpt a citizen's uncompensated time.

Twelfth: The corporate wing of Democratic Party has become destructive of the ends of democratic governance. It has betrayed the heritage of the Democratic Party that brought women's suffrage, social security, Medicare, the right to organize trade unions, civil rights and voting rights into legislative existence. The corporatist Democrats are a minority of bought andpaid for big business lackeys that have abandoned the tradition of the New Deal and Civil Rights Movement. As outspoken members of the Democratic Party's populist majority majority- families—we insist that our Party fight for the following:universal single payer health care on "Medicare for all" model; the full implementation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Economic Bill of Rights (reprinted below); full government funding of the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act; and a government assurance of a decent job at a livable wage, maximum 32 hour regular work week and 46 week work year, with paid medical and family leave; the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act along with of all statewide anti-Labor legislation; and the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. We cannot support any Democratic candidate who does not insist on the immediate implementation of the measures we have set forth above and will actively oppose those who try turn the clock back on our nation and our Party. To this end we pledge to each other our lives, our energies, our treasures, our solidarity, and our sacred honor.

Franklin D. Roosevelt's “The Economic Bill of Rights”Excerpt from 11 January 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Union It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth are ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty. As our nation has grown in size and stature, however-as our industrial economy expanded-these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness. We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being. America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large-part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

This draft, with obvious exception of the FDR quote, was composed by Gabriel McCloskey-Ross based on the suggestions of the the other members of the Populist Wedge. Particular thanks go to my other SD,USA-SP,USA national staff member Thomas Klisanin. It was edited by Seamus Johnston, which is what makes it readable. It is dedicated to the memory of "Red" George Peterson and MaryJane McCloskey-Peterson founding members of Americans for Democratic Action, "Red Eddy" McCloskey, populist mayor of Johnstown, PA for nonconsecutive terms from the late 1920's through 1950's, George Ross, signer of Declaration of Independence, and to George's daughter-in-law, Betsy Ross. Thanks for the inspiration folks.


Gabriel Kierran Mccloskey-Ross
October 18

The Upton Sinclair Mutual Aid Fund

The Upton Sinclair Mutual Aid Fund, a project of the League for for Industrial Democracy. A fund to address the needs of the unemployed worker and disabled. Providing funds for worker initiated projects and provide emergency assistance grants to individuals in crisis.... PO Box 5307 Johnstown, PA, 15904-5307 Checks or Money Orders to:League for Industrial Democracy. In the memo portion, Robert/Upton Sinclair Mutual Aid Fund In the depression, many worker organizations, set up a fund of this nature to help unemployed and disabled worker and families. will go towards setting up a Catholic Worker type house, not yet determined, Possible worker initiated projects to include: bread lines, houses of hospitality, socialist coffee houses, all manner of mutual aide projects. An injury to one is an injury to all.

Would also like to hear some feedback about the concept of the mutual aid fund. As it is in process of becoming a project, some concrete ideas as to projects which such a Fund could support and maintain at National, regional and local levels. And what kind of mechanism could be adopted to select worthy objectives for such projects?

I do not expect this project to happen overnight and it is going to be as viable as there is active support by LID and by contributors. It is my hope that this will be a beginning and will stimulate renewed interest in LID as a organization which promotes innovative ideas and projects that are consistent with the aims and purpose of LID.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cooperativism

Most Americans believe that we live in a "free" society. The United States is the land of the "free." "Freedom" is one of the most important words in this nation's political lexicon and most Americans take pride in the fact that America is a "free" society. I want to start out be examining this idea of American freedom. First I want to state that I believe that the American idea of freedom is not in fact a delusional concept. It is real. Traditional American concepts of freedom, ideas that have to do with ideas of limited, representative government,  traditional ideas of freedom of religion, and press;  democracy, the freedom to peaceably assemble,  freedom from arbitrary state power are all valid concepts. They all have a certain degree of reality within the context of American society. They are not fictitious concepts. Americans have a right to feel pride in these freedoms.

While these freedoms are real, it is also a reality that there are aspects of American life which are lived in the antithesis of "freedom." This realm of life centers primarily within the economic sphere of work and workplace. It is characterized more by freedom's opposites, unfreedom, servitude, and submission. To initiate my discussion of this realm I will first start out by suggesting some definitions of "freedom." This is  not easily done because freedom is generally not defined precisely by most people. However in spite of this, we can make some generalizations. Most people define freedom in primarily negative terms. Freedom is experienced as the lack of arbitrary oppressive restraints and limitations to one's freedom. Thus in America freedom is defined by the relative absence of governmental restraints on life, liberty, the use of property,etc. Often in the purely conservative political lexicon, freedom is simply identified as a absence of governmental power or interference in one's life.

However lets attempt to define freedom positively. One definition is that freedom is the ability of people and individuals to do what they in fact want to do independent of institutional controls. Again in the American context the primary limitations of this freedom are normally seen as coming from government the power of arbitrary religion or from cultural limitations such as racism or sexism. What is intrinsically interesting about this, however, is that the structure of the economic system or the vary structure of individual economic institutions are very seldom viewed as in any way limitations on the freedom of individuals or of people. In fact even within the political left, economic oppression is normally seen as being only about the unequal distribution of economic resources. Left liberal analysis or even socialist analysis seldom questions the unjust structure of economic institutions.

Yet this is what I believe must be done. I would argue that the real limitations of freedom in the modern world of advanced capitalism in fact comes not from the governmental realm but instead from the very nature of capitalist society itself. Before developing the theme of capitalism's restraint of freedom any further, I need to introduce some other vital concepts into the analysis. These two concepts are "power" and "community." Freedom can not be defined adequately in separation from the concepts of power and community. The freedom to act in a certain way, the freedom to do what one wishes is intrinsically related to the realities of power and community. Simply stated if one has no power one has no freedom. If the power of others prevent one from doing as one wishes than one's real freedom is restricted. Community is also deeply involved in this. First community can be viewed in its largest context as that of the national community. Seen in this way, the community by its very power relationships defines the freedom that individuals can in fact experience.

I will say a lot more about community latter. It is the relationship between power and freedom which I want to explore at this time. In spite of the very real freedoms that Americans experience as citizens of this nation, it must be acknowledged that the capitalist structure of our society has very real limitations to freedom built into it. The reality is that workers as workers within capitalist society are not in any real sense "free." Except for those born to wealth all people within capitalist society must sell their labor to either the state, non profit organizations or  more commonly capitalist firms in order to live. For the vast majority of people no real alternative to working for a weekly paycheck really exists. During this time of the work day, often eight to ten hours, one is not free in any real sense. One in fact is subordinated to the economic firm to whom one is employed. One lives at the beck and call of one's supervisor, boss, or the production schedule etc. The rules of the work environment in which one is employed are not controlled by oneself or by one's fellow workers. It is controlled by a cooperate office and corporate hierarchy which generally views its employees as an expendable resource, as a factor of production.

To summarize,  the work place and the overall all environment of the capitalist firm is by its very nature the antitheses of freedom for the worker. By definition it is a place of submission to authority; it is governed by rules that take little regard for the workers needs or wishes; it is the realm of un freedom. All of this of course explains many aspects of American life and particularly how Americans define freedom. Freedom in the American context is always about how one spends one's "leisure" time. It is about the power of the consumer; it is about the beautiful automobile that symbolizes one's freedom. It is about the golden years of secure retirement which is freedom; it is about one's freedom as a consumer ala Milton Friedman. It is about one's clothing styles, one's sexual life style; ie it is about every thing except work.

 Another point must be added here. Freedom is almost always also defined as an individual good and not collectively or communally. It has little to do with community. Now lets look at the issue of community within the context of American capitalist society. It is often stated, I believe correctly, that community has declined as an aspect of life within this society. What does this mean? What is this "community" which has declined.?
Let me start stating that there seems to be two primary ways of defining community. One form of community is what can be called organic or
traditional community. By this I mean the traditional familial hunting and gathering, horticultural, or agrarian village communities in which the vast majorities of human beings have lived through most of human history. These small scale traditional communities in which ties of kinship, common religious values, cultural ties, common political and economic activities united people in a deep net of relationships,.this form of community  scarcely exists within the United States any longer. The closest this nation has to this sort of community are the old ethnic working class communities of past generations.

However the increasing suburbanization and corporate individualization of people is increasingly erasing this sort of community from American life. What then functions as community for Americans? Church and organized religion? Religion is one of the strongest sources of "intentional" community in America. However since most church members share little of their lifes together either by ways of kinship, or in common economic or political activities; the actual communal bonds created by modern American religion are in general rather weak. The other great source of communal bonds, ie workplace friendships and relationships that Americans experience in fact comes from out of the workplace. This of course is how it should be. After all out side of the family, the workplace is the place in which most people spend the greatest amount to their waking lifes. Therefore one would expect the workplace to be the source of many of the most important human communal relationships. In fact the work place in many ways is the modern equivalent of the tradition village in which the common work and shared life of the villagers was the norm.

The real mystery here is not that the work place provides the context for the communal ties to the majority of people but the mystery  lies in fact does it not do this much better than it does. Why for instance are there so few television shows such as "The Office" in which the life of work is shown as a dominant context of social life. I think the reason lies in the fact that the work place as is portrayed in "The Office" is in generally not experienced as the place on which workers experience any kind of collective power in working together. It is not the place of freedom in which workers act freely by collectively making the economic decisions that effect their lifes. Instead the work place of "The Office" is  a place in which they simply must be if they are to earn a living. Work simply in this context is not about freedom but submission and arbitrary authority.

Now to the issues of Cooperativist thought. Cooperativism wishes to destroy the dictatorship of capitalist control of the workplace. It seeks to end capitalist power and replace it with worker control over the economic institutions of society. The purpose of work within the cooperativist society will be not just to receive a bi weekly paycheck. It will also be about the expression of one ability to make decisions, to express one's power and creativity through one's work. In contrast to the situation within the capitalist firm in which the surplus value of one's work goes to the capitalist or boss, in the cooperatives of the cooperative commonwealth the value of one's work will accrue to the worker himself. It will accrue to all of the workers of a firm communally. I would argue that within a cooperativist economic order real concrete power will be returned to workers as individuals, but also to workers in community. because the workplace will now be experienced as one of the primary places in which the freedom of workers is experienced. I will argue that the workplace will become the primary center for the revitalization of community in the post capitalist, cooperative commonwealth.

Glenn King

The American Cooperativist party opposes the dictatorial economic regime of global finance capitalism. In contrast to the dictatorial mode of capitalist corporations and capitalist dominated political structures, national cooperativists support a new civilizational order that is based on core principles of solidarity and community, economic democracy and worker self management. The cooperativist political economic revolution will not only see the development of democratic economic institutions of a cooperative commonweath, it will also see a revolutionary destruction of many of the dominant values of capitalist civilization. Thus the values of radically atomized individualism, consumerism, hedonism, and the generally powerlessness and meaninglessness of the life of many people will be transformed.

These values, ideologies and conditions of life will be replaced by an ethos of communal power and solidarity. The culturally dominant idea that the individual person's success and meaning in life is tied to his or her success in climbing the capitalist career ladder, and to increased levels of consumption will be ended. Contrary ethos of service to family, communal economic institutions, to city, to region, and to nation will become dominating values. It is quite possible that religious belief and practice will become a much stronger force in the post capitalist civilization of the cooperative commonwealth. Thus new religious communities resembling the old monastic religious orders or the radical reformation communities of the Hutterites and Shakers may become much more prevalent than they are within the hostile environment of a secular and sterile capitalism.

These are all ways in which the counter civilization of the cooperative commonweath will differ from the current regime of global finance capitalism. However before going any further we must redirect our attention back to the concrete economic basis of this new political economic order. As can already be seen the names of this new order can differ. Some of these names are Cooperative Socialism, Cooperativism, the Cooperative Commonwealth etc. The basic ideas, however, behind the concept is quite simple. Within the cooperative commonwealth the primary economic institutions of society will no longer be owned and controlled by the small but powerful economic elites of global capitalism. Instead revolutionary cooperativist movements will overthrow the current systems of capitalist domination and replace them with economic and political institutions that will be in some cases be owned but in all cases controlled by workers themselves.

At first glance this looks like the classic Marxist Leninist revolutionary scenario. However some important differences exist between historical Marxist Leninist actions and the ideals of Cooperativist thought. Marxist Leninist parties historically instead of instituting regimes of worker control have instead centralized all economic and political institutions of society under the control and domination of the one party state. Thus we have a communism in which the power of the state and party substitutes for the real concrete power of the workers. The cooperativist position on the contrary is that the primary revolutionary process will be the transition of power and ownership from capitalist elites to the workers themselves. Within the cooperative commonwealth the dominant form of property will be the worker owned and democratically managed cooperative. These firms will in most cases be run directly be workers themselves in small firms or by elected workers councils in larger firms. The mechanics of this process is discussed in other articles.

What I want to concentrate on now is on the relationship between the new economy of worker self management and values such as solidarity and community which were discussed previously. It does not take any great insight to see that modern dominating ideologies and cultural patterns such as consumerism, excessive individualism, and the deemphasis on communal solidarity are intimately connected to the maintenance and expansion of capitalist economic power. After all both consumerism and a hedonistic lifestyle creates market opportunities for capitalism firms. Individualism of course fits in very nicely with capitalism because more often than is not an individual's worth and value within capitalist systems is measured by his or her level of economic achievement within the system and by the amount and types of his or her economic consumption.

Further more ideals of group solidarity which counter the vision of the separate autonomous individual are strongly discouraged within capitalist society. After all ideals of solidarity, community, and group decision making are accurately seen as dangerous to the power of capital. Ideas and feelings of solidarity with workers or the poor could easily lead to labor union activities or more dangerous from the capitalist perspective to activities that oppose the system. Ideals of communal power or of nationalism can be used to oppose the forces of capitalist globalism. Communitarians for example might begin suggesting that economic institutions should be subordinated to community needs and not the other way around. Further more since capitalism is simply indifferent to community, it will not be supported. The isolated individual on the other hand is quite economically expensive to maintain and is also quite powerless. He or she is the ideal subject for capitalism's regime. Capitalism's assurances to the individual of economic and status awards are quite effective in severing the individual person from "excessive" ideals of communal solidarity.

Upon seeing the reasons why certain values and ideologies are promoted by capitalism and other values demoted, one can see the reasons that that values of a cooperativist social order would radically differ from those of nominative capitalist society. The revolutionary creation of a cooperativist society itself to a great degree will be based on the creation of mass ideologies that support values of communal power and solidarity. These ideologies would tend to oppose capitalist individualism and support egalitarian ideals. Of course the successful conclusion of cooperativist revolution will bring great power into the hands of ordinary workers and people. Just as importantly it will end the great power that the capitalist class has held over the heads of the people. Because people will be able to exercise real power within the work place, the work place itself will become the primary center of working class community. (Note. When thinking of the working class think of modern middle class, clerical, industrial, agrarian, etc workers. We are not talking about some romantic vision of 19th century industrial workers.)

The work places will become the centers of such communities because the work place is the place where workers in fact live most of the waking hours of their lifes. These places will become centers of community because they will no longer be centers of powerlessness as is the case under capitalism but of power, the power of workers to collectively make the economic decisions that effect their lifes. The workplaces will become places of community because these cooperatives will be under the cooperative ownership of the workers themselves. They will be places to which workers are committed and enjoy, not the present places of capitalist unfreedom to be avoided. They will become the primary centers of the new civilization of the cooperative commonwealth.

However the revolution will not stop at the work place, government will be also revolutionized. Currently government, particularly government at the local level is the purely mundane domain of technocratic decision making by business elites. By destroying the power of these elites the national cooperativist revolution will open up government at this level to the power of the workers and people. Government will no doubt be radically democratized perhaps by the development of systems of assembly democracy and other democratic innovations. To make government more accountable to the people, it is quite possible that government at the urban regional level will look much more like the democratic governing institutions of the ancient city states of Greece than it will to that of modern American cities.

A final word needs to be said about the role of religion. Religion has two aspects. One is what is often described as the vertical dimension between humanity or the individual and God. The other dimension lies in the communal relation between human beings. Most religions particularly those of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, but also of Buddhism and other religions place a strong emphasis on value systems that bind people together into community. Thus religion is by its very nature supportive of principles of human justice which if interpreted realistically is revolutionary by nature. It is the distortion and domestication of religious values that often leads religious institutions to support the unjust political economic status quo. Because of this revolutionary potential of religion, it is quite possible that religious forces will play a dominant role in the national cooperativist revolution. Once the revolutions are accomplished then religion will not doubt play the more conservative role of protecting the revolution from social forces that would undermine its communitarian values. The point of all of this is that the cooperativist revolution will certainly not be indifferent to the forces of religion in society.

Glenn  King

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Women's Labor History Timeline: 1765 - Present Day

New York Teacher - March 3, 2009

1765

The first society of working women, the Daughters of Liberty, is organized as an auxiliary of the Sons of Liberty, a workingman's association.
1824

Women workers strike for the first time, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. 102 women workers strike in support of brother weavers protesting the simultaneous reduction in wages and extension of the workday.
1825

The first union for women only formed: The United Tailoresses of New York.
1831

February 1600 women members of the United Tailoresses of New York, strike for "a just price for our labor."
1845

The Female Labor Reform Association is formed in Lowell, Massachusetts by Sarah Bagley and other women cotton mill workers to reduce the work day from 12 or 13 hours a day to 10, and to improve sanitation and safety in the mills where they worked.
1853

Antoinette Brown is the first U.S. woman ordained as a minister in a protestant denomination.
1867

Cigar makers are the first national union to accept women and African Americans.
Daughters of St. Crispin1869

July 28, women shoemakers form the Daughters of St. Crispin, the first national union of women workers, at Lynn, Massachusetts.
1872

Congress passes a law giving women federal employee equal pay for equal work.
1881

Atlanta, Georgia: 3,000 Black women laundry workers stage one of the largest and most effective strikes in the history of the south.1888

NY suffragists win passage of a law requiring women doctors for women patients in mental institutions.
1889

Jane Adams founds Hull House in Chicago to assist the poor. It becomes a model for many other settlement houses and establishes social work as a profession for women.
1892

Mary Kenney O'Sullivan of the Bindery Workers is appointed the AFL's first female national organizer.

Secure matrons in all police stations
1898

Charlotte Perkins Gillman wrote Women and Economics in 1898 arguing that women need to be economically independent.
1899

The National Consumers League is formed with Florence Kelley as its president. The League organizes women to use their power as consumers to push for better working conditions and protective law for women workers.
1903

national women's trade union leagueMary Harris "Mother" Jones leads a protest march of mill children, many of who were victims of industrial accidents, from Philadelphia to New York.

November 14, at the AFL convention in Boston, women unionists unite to form the National Women's Trade Union League and elect Mary Morton Kehew president and Jane Addams vice-president. The National Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) is established to advocate for improved wages and working conditions for women.
1909

"Uprising of the 20,000" female shirtwaist workers in New York State strike against sweatshop conditions.
1910

The wives of striking miners arrested in Greensburg, Pennsylvania sing their way out of jail under the leadership of Mother Jones.
1912

In Lawrence, Massachusetts the IWW leads a strike of 23,000 men, women and children to organize the Lawrence Textile Mills: The "Bread & Roses" Strike, hailed as the first successful multi-ethnic strike (see History Matters).

Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party became the first major political party to include a woman's suffrage plank in its official platform.
1914

Ludlow Massacre: on April 20th a small army of goons hired from the Baldwin-Felts agency backed up by the National Guard lay down a barrage of machine gun fire on a strikers' tent village at Ludlow, Colorado, killing men, women and children.
1916

Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) became the first women elected to the United States House of Representatives. Ms. Rankin served two terms in the House from (1916-1918 and (1940-1942)
1917

During WWI women's wartime work in heavy industry and public service jobs expanded women's roles in society.
1919

August 26, United Mine Workers' organizer Fannie Sellins, a widowed mother of four, is shot to death by coal company guards while leading strikers in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania.
1920

The Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor is formed to collect information about women in the workforce and safeguard good working conditions for women
1931

September 1, Clara Holden, National Textile Workers' Union organizer is abducted and beaten by vigilantes in Greenville, South Carolina.
1933

Francis Perkins, the first women in a presidential cabinet, served as Secretary of Labor throughout the Roosevelt administration, 1933-1945.
1934

Florence Ellinwood Allen becomes first woman on US Court of Appeals
mary mcleod bethune1935

Mary McLeod Bethune organizes the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of black women's groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism, and sexism.
1936

December 28th, a "sitdown strike" of auto workers (UAW) supported by the Women's Emergency Brigade at the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan.

President FDR appointed Ms. Bethune to serve as director or Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration in 1936 making her the first African-American women to be a presidential advisor.
1941

The shortage of workers caused by WWII opens a wide range of high-paying jobsto women. Almost seven million women enter the workforce, including two million in heavy industry.

women wlders - world war ii
1961

President John Kennedy establishes the President's Commission on the Status of Women and appoints Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman. The report issued by the Commission in 1963 documents substantial discrimination against women in the workplace and makes specific recommendations for improvement, including fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave, and affordable child care.
1963

June 10: Congress passes the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job.
1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination in employment on the basis of race and sex. At the same time it establishes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate complaints and impose penalties.
1965

Aileen Hernandex was the first woman appointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1971 she was elected president of NOW.
1966

nowThe National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded by a group of feminists including Betty Friedan. The largest women's rights group in the U.S. NOW seeks to end sexual discrimination, especially in the workplace, by means of legislative lobbying, litigation, and public demonstrations.
1967

Executive Order 11375 expands President Lyndon Johnson's affirmative action policy of 1965 to cover discrimination based on gender. As a result, federal agencies and contractors must take active measures to ensure that women as well as minorities enjoy the same educational and employment opportunities as white males.
1968

The EEOC rules that sex-segregated help wanted ads in newspapers are illegal. This ruling is upheld in 1973 by the Supreme Court, opening the way for women to apply for higher-paying jobs hitherto open only to men.

Shirley Chisholm is the first Black woman elected to U.S. Congress. In 1972, she ran for president.

In Bowe v. Colgate-Palmolive, the Supreme Court rules that women meeting the physical requirements can work in many jobs that had previously been for men only.
1969

Mary Moultrie organizes the successful strike of 550 black women hospital workers for union representation in Charleston, South Carolina.
1970

In Schultz v. Wheaton Glass Co., a U.S. Court of Appeals rules that jobs held by men and women need to be "substantially equal" but not "identical" to fall under the protection of the Equal Pay Act. An employer cannot, for example, change the job titles of women workers in order to pay them less than men.
1972

Mar. 22: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Originally drafted by Alice Paul in 1923, the amendment reads: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The amendment died in 1982 when it failed to achieve ratification by a minimum of 38 states.

Sally Priesand becomes the first U.S woman ordained as a rabbi.
1973

May 30, Crystal Lee Jordan (aka "Norma Rae") is fired for trying to organize a union at the J.P. Stevens plant in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

The Supreme Court upholds the EEOC ruling banning sex-segregated help-wanted ads in newspapers.
1974

In Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that employers cannot justify paying women lower wages because that is what they traditionally received under the "going market rate." A wage differential occurring "simply because men would not work at the low rates paid women" is unacceptable.

March 22, the founding convention of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) in Chicago elects Olga Madar its first president.

November 13, Karen Gay Silkwood, a lab tech at the Cimeron plutonium plant and officer of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union local in Oklahoma City dies mysteriously en route to a union meeting with a newspaper reporter.
1978

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women. Under the Act, a woman cannot be fired or denied a job or a promotion because she is or may become pregnant, nor can she be forced to take a pregnancy leave if she is willing and able to work.

100,000 women and men march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in Washington, D.C.
1981

Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
1983

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space.
1985

Wilma Mankiller became the first woman Principal Chief of a major American Indian tribe, the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.
1986

Sandra Feldman succeeds Albert Shanker as president of the United Federation of Teachers, becoming the first woman to head the largest local union in New York state.

The Supreme Court declares sexual harassment is a form of illegal employment discrimination.
1990

Women serve in combat for the first time, during the Gulf War.
1992

Carol Moseley-Braun became the first African-American women elected to the U.S. Senate.
2007

Arlene Holt Baker is named executive vice president by the AFL-CIO Executive Council, becoming the first African-American to be elected to one of the federation's three highest offices and the highest-ranking African-American woman in the union movement.
2008

Randi Weingarten, Antonia Cortese and Lorretta Johnson are elected to the top leadership positions in the American Federation of Teachers. It's the first time three women hold the top posts in AFT, whose membership is more than 70 percent female.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Community and Democracy

 Most Americans believe that we live in a "free" society. The United States is the land of the "free." "Freedom" is one of the most important words in this nation's political lexicon and most Americans take pride in the fact that America is a "free" society. I want to start out be examining this idea of American freedom. First I want to state that I believe that the American idea of freedom is not in fact a delusional concept. It is real. Traditional American concepts of freedom, ideas that have to do with ideas of limited, representative government, traditional ideas of freedom of religion, and press; democracy, the freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom from arbitrary state power are all valid concepts. They all have a certain degree of reality within the context of American society. They are not fictitious concepts. Americans have a right to feel pride in these freedoms.

While these freedoms are real, it is also a reality that there are aspects of American life which are lived in the antithesis of "freedom." This realm of life centers primarily within the economic sphere of work and workplace. It is characterized more by freedom's opposites, unfreedom, servitude, and submission. To initiate my discussion of this realm I will first start out by suggesting some definitions of "freedom." This is not easily done because freedom is generally not defined precisely by most people. However in spite of this, we can make some generalizations. Most people define freedom in primarily negative terms. Freedom is experienced as the lack of arbitrary oppressive restraints and limitations to one's freedom. Thus in America freedom is defined by the relative absence of governmental restraints on life, liberty, the use of property,etc. Often in the purely conservative political lexicon, freedom is simply identified as a absence of governmental power or interference in one's life.

However lets attempt to define freedom positively. One definition is that freedom is the ability of people and individuals to do what they in fact want to do independent of institutional controls. Again in the American context the primary limitations of this freedom are normally seen as coming from government the power of arbitrary religion or from cultural limitations such as racism or sexism. What is intrinsically interesting about this, however, is that the structure of the economic system or the vary structure of individual economic institutions are very seldom viewed as in any way limitations on the freedom of individuals or of people. In fact even within the political left, economic oppression is normally seen as being only about the unequal distribution of economic resources. Left liberal analysis or even socialist analysis seldom questions the unjust structure of economic institutions.

Yet this is what I believe must be done. I would argue that the real limitations of freedom in the modern world of advanced capitalism in fact comes not from the governmental realm but instead from the very nature of capitalist society itself. Before developing the theme of capitalism's restraint of freedom any further, I need to introduce some other vital concepts into the analysis. These two concepts are "power" and "community." Freedom can not be defined adequately in separation from the concepts of power and community. The freedom to act in a certain way, the freedom to do what one wishes is intrinsically related to the realities of power and community. Simply stated if one has no power one has no freedom. If the power of others prevent one from doing as one wishes than one's real freedom is restricted. Community is also deeply involved in this. First community can be viewed in its largest context as that of the national community. Seen in this way, the community by its very power relationships defines the freedom that individuals can in fact experience.

I will say a lot more about community latter. It is the relationship between power and freedom which I want to explore at this time. In spite of the very real freedoms that Americans experience as citizens of this nation, it must be acknowledged that the capitalist structure of our society has very real limitations to freedom built into it. The reality is that workers as workers within capitalist society are not in any real sense "free." Except for those born to wealth all people within capitalist society must sell their labor to either the state, non profit organizations or more commonly capitalist firms in order to live. For the vast majority of people no real alternative to working for a weekly paycheck really exists. During this time of the work day, often eight to ten hours, one is not free in any real sense. One in fact is subordinated to the economic firm to whom one is employed. One lives at the beck and call of one's supervisor, boss, or the production schedule etc. The rules of the work environment in which one is employed are not controlled by oneself or by one's fellow workers. It is controlled by a cooperate office and corporate hierarchy which generally views its employees as an expendable resource, as a factor of production.

To summarize, the work place and the overall all environment of the capitalist firm is by its very nature the antitheses of freedom for the worker. By definition it is a place of submission to authority; it is governed by rules that take little regard for the workers needs or wishes; it is the realm of un freedom. All of this of course explains many aspects of American life and particularly how Americans define freedom. Freedom in the American context is always about how one spends one's "leisure" time. It is about the power of the consumer; it is about the beautiful automobile that symbolizes one's freedom. It is about the golden years of secure retirement which is freedom; it is about one's freedom as a consumer ala Milton Friedman. It is about one's clothing styles, one's sexual life style; ie it is about every thing except work.

Another point must be added here. Freedom is almost always also defined as an individual good and not collectively or communally. It has little to do with community. Now lets look at the issue of community within the context of American capitalist society. It is often stated, I believe correctly, that community has declined as an aspect of life within this society. What does this mean? What is this "community" which has declined.?
Let me start stating that there seems to be two primary ways of defining community. One form of community is what can be called organic or
traditional community. By this I mean the traditional familial hunting and gathering, horticultural, or agrarian village communities in which the vast majorities of human beings have lived through most of human history. These small scale traditional communities in which ties of kinship, common religious values, cultural ties, common political and economic activities united people in a deep net of relationships,.this form of community scarcely exists within the United States any longer. The closest this nation has to this sort of community are the old ethnic working class communities of past generations.

However the increasing suburbanization and corporate individualization of people is increasingly erasing this sort of community from American life. What then functions as community for Americans? Church and organized religion? Religion is one of the strongest sources of "intentional" community in America. However since most church members share little of their lifes together either by ways of kinship, or in common economic or political activities; the actual communal bonds created by modern American religion are in general rather weak. The other great source of communal bonds, ie workplace friendships and relationships that Americans experience in fact comes from out of the workplace. This of course is how it should be. After all out side of the family, the workplace is the place in which most people spend the greatest amount to their waking lifes. Therefore one would expect the workplace to be the source of many of the most important human communal relationships. In fact the work place in many ways is the modern equivalent of the tradition village in which the common work and shared life of the villagers was the norm.

The real mystery here is not that the work place provides the context for the communal ties to the majority of people but the mystery lies in fact does it not do this much better than it does. Why for instance are there so few television shows such as "The Office" in which the life of work is shown as a dominant context of social life. I think the reason lies in the fact that the work place as is portrayed in "The Office" is in generally not experienced as the place on which workers experience any kind of collective power in working together. It is not the place of freedom in which workers act freely by collectively making the economic decisions that effect their lifes. Instead the work place of "The Office" is a place in which they simply must be if they are to earn a living. Work simply in this context is not about freedom but submission and arbitrary authority.

Now to the issues of Cooperativist thought. Cooperativism wishes to destroy the dictatorship of capitalist control of the workplace. It seeks to end capitalist power and replace it with worker control over the economic institutions of society. The purpose of work within the cooperativist society will be not just to receive a bi weekly paycheck. It will also be about the expression of one ability to make decisions, to express one's power and creativity through one's work. In contrast to the situation within the capitalist firm in which the surplus value of one's work goes to the capitalist or boss, in the cooperatives of the cooperative commonwealth the value of one's work will accrue to the worker himself. It will accrue to all of the workers of a firm communally. I would argue that within a cooperativist economic order real concrete power will be returned to workers as individuals, but also to workers in community. because the workplace will now be experienced as one of the primary places in which the freedom of workers is experienced. I will argue that the workplace will become the primary center for the revitalization of community in the post capitalist, cooperative commonwealth.

Glenn King

Toward Cooperative Commonwealth

Social Democracy, Social Credit and the Cooperative Commonwealth

Several years ago someone commented on the checkered state of the cooperative movement overall. The commentator asked why do cooperative movements often lose steam? Why do the greater part of cooperatives behave in much the same way as other firms in terms of management and in terms of the links they develop, or don't develop, in their communities?

What we are reminded of here is that the history of the quest for a cooperative commonwealth is a story of missed opportunities and roads not taken. I've concluded that the essense of the challenge activists for economic democracy face is that we can never negotiate a cooperative commonwealth based on orthodox economic terms.

So what does this have to do with Social Democracy in the 21st. century? Plenty. Historically the Social Democratic Party here in America was committed to an actual demonstration of a non-statist cooperative commonwealth, many within the party going so far as to plan an actual colonization effort of an American state to do so.

It's in our genes....shining city on a hill and all that.

The prairie populists of Canada and USAmerica once had a unique opportunity for a breakthrough past the restraints of the orthodox economics of the early twentieth century. It was a time when new denominations of socialist thought arose alongside that of guild socialism. Social democratic Fabianism, which would be an early adopter of Keynesian policy prescriptions, came to dominate socialist thought and shape the limits of a socialist agenda. It also displaced guild socialism and its historic project of building the decentralized and non-statist social economy that the greater part of the American people wanted. Fabianism more-or-less adopted the conventional wisdom of orthodox economics and through this route social democratic parties the world over have been drawn into the corporatist agenda.

Populists and socialists in USAmerica and Canada squandered their opportunity to build the cooperative commonwealth in North America when the larger part of the movement gave way to a Fabian form of social democracy. This split the populist movements on North America's prairie country. In Canada in particular the populist movement would eventually find itself split between the CCF, the Progressive Conservatives and Social Credit. Today Social Credit is often dismissed as the ideology of right-wing monetary cranks. But lately Social Credit has been undergoing a revival among many on the European Left, particularly within the UK Green Party, which has a "sustainable economics working group" with a sizable congregation of devotees of Social Credit. Thanks to Richard Cook, formerly of the Carter Whitehouse, Social Credit principles are once again getting a hearing in these United States.

According to Frances Hutchinson, a British Green Party activist and academic, Social Credit has its origins in guild socialism. According to Hutchinson Social Credit was "formed within the broad alternative school of thought which opposed the growing domination of finance over the economies of the developed and underdeveloped worlds. It was equally opposed to economic and military warfare, to wasteful production, the degradation of farming to a commercial activity and to environmental degradation."

What precisely is Social Credit? According to Hutchinson, it is a means "..to approach the creation of alternative structures of production and distribution in order to meet local needs free from the restraints of distant financial institutions." According to advocates of Social Credit, the way in which central banks and financial institutions interact with productive firms creates a shortage of purchasing power. Social Creditors believe the structural problems creating this shortage of purchasing power can be overcome with a new means and new criteria for the creation of money that will allow a sufficient pool of purchasing power to liquidate the costs of production.

Perhaps it is time for the cause of Economic Democracy to recover its two wings. It may be that the cooperative movement has suffered most from the constraints of orthodox economics, and that the cooperative commonwealth is in need of a full pair of wings in order to fly. Perhaps the remarriage of Social Credit and the cooperative cause is just the kind of breakthrough that can allow cooperatives and cooperative communities to develop on their own terms.

By Alan Advans