Monthly Archives: September 2009

M1 (Dead Prez) on Internationalism – From the Ghetto to Gaza west coast speaking tour

M1 from Dead Prez got interviewed by Davey D about his experience in 1930423.47Gaza (which he wrote about for the SF BayView) and about the importance of international solidarity between the struggle here in the US and struggles abroad.  He’ll be on a speaking tour that’s making stops in Oakland and other Bay Area and Northern California cities. (Click here for the flyer)

For those of us in the belly of the beast, we have a very specific responsibility to be internationalist.  But, one question that comes to mind is: how do we exercise this responsibility?  No doubt symbolic protests and demonstrations against the war, or against the invasion of Gaza by Israel, are important.  But is this deep enough?  Have we struck a nerve in the imperial centre through these processes?

Anti-war organizations are planning a fall campaign, but the question remains: is this enough?  Symbolic protests play a role in shifting public opinion against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but is there something missing?

Hopefully M1 will get into some of these questions during the tour, and folks can take a stab at it in the comments.

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Van Jones’ Resignation Helps Save Obama’s Credibility with Racists

Big L writes:

So, Van Jones resigned and took one for the team by backing down from his position as “green jobs czar” for the Obama

Van Jones & Obama: representing the pitfalls of the left in 2009

Van Jones & Obama: representing the failure of "leftist" strategy in 2009

administration.  This is happening after Glenn Beck, reactionary Fox News anchor, smashed on him and called him out on his show for being a “communist” and part of STORM.

Interestingly, Glenn Beck’s right-wing, reactionary red-baiting actually contains some useful, truthful facts about Van Jones’ strategy.  Specifically, Beck’s racist-ass (and let’s be clear, this dude is completely reactionary) brings up the way that Van Jones saw his work alongside Obama as the way to be a “more effective revolutionary.”  Van Jones, and many in the non-profitized left, see this “inside/outside” approach as the most effective way of organizing (and as we’ve seen this includes many post-STORM nonprofit organizations.)

What lessons will we draw from Van Jones’ effort to infiltrate the system and change it from within?  Is it possible to have an “inside/outside” combination approach to revolutionary organizing (where we work within bourgeois electoral circuits, and outside of them) like the one that Bill Fletcher Jr. advocates for?  This Van Jones example is yet another strong sign that it doesn’t work.

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Unfortunately, many self-proclaimed revolutionaries see this type of strategy – basically, working within the system – as the only way to engage in day to day struggles: fighting budget cuts means working mostly within the existing student government/organizations and teacher’s union; battling exploitation on the job means working within the official union which is  supposed to represent a particular group of workers interests.  Etc, Etc.

Perhaps revolutionaries should consider taking the road of building autonomous organizations as vehicles capable of challenging budget cuts, exploitation on the job, police brutality, and other forms of capitalist oppression and exploitation.  These autonomous organizations may relate to unions, student organizations, etc, but maintain ideological and organizational independence at the same time.  This independence would allow revolutionary minded folks to actually create a magnetic pole of radicalism; providing space for individuals who are ready to take the system on more militantly, and also serve to pull existing organizations like unions and student orgs leftward.

These are some of the most burning questions revolutionaries should be discussing.

Mike Davis on California’s Crisis and the Need for Cadre Groups

This is a transcription of Mike Davis’ speech and closing remarks at the ISO’sMike DavisSocialism” conference which took place in San Francisco this summer.  We’re posting it here cos we know some local activists that couldn’t get into the talk . . .

About the speech: Mike rightfully calls out the Democratic Party for enabling the gutting of social services despite their majority in Sacramento.  So many folks in progressive orgs, unions, etc are caught up in a paradigm that accepts the Democrats as the party of the people, and Mike smashes on this illusion.

Also, he brings up the fact that social movements alone cannot rise to the challenge of combatting the crisis.  The missing ingredient is fresh cadre organizations.  Here’s a snippet and then the whole speech:

“Even if you say that the whole legacy of Leninism was a historical disaster, you’re still faced with exactly the same questions posed in Lenin’s What Is To Be Done. That is, the need to create some organization of organizers that provides a framework for young people willing to make extraordinary sacrifices and dedicate their lives solely to the fight of the poor and the working class. The need organize a cadre of people able to exchange and generalize and coordinate experiences across the struggle so that some kind of genuinely left agenda–which means a pro-working class agenda–becomes possible.

The Bolshevik Party may not be the only route to this. The anarchists in Barcelona did a pretty good job in a different way of bringing together and coordinating a relentless struggle for their principles and the principles of the working class.

But the question is inescapable. You have to talk about this question. You have to talk about the creation of organizations. I’m not arguing to revive the little red book or the thoughts of Leon Trotsky, but we need organizations that can allow such dedication to exist.”

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