Category Archives: Videos

From the Freedom Summer to Ferguson Event Video

From the Freedom Summer to Ferguson-Our recent event, “From the Freedom Summer to Ferguson,” was a great success and many have asked for a video from that night.  After working through a few technical difficulties, we are happy to provide a video from our event below the jump.

There was a range of topics discussed, from the experiences in the Freedom Summer to how these lessons relate to contemporary struggles for racial liberation.  If you are interested in bringing this event to your campus or community, please feel free to contact us at bay.strikes@gmail.com. Enjoy.

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“That’s Why I’m a Communist” – Trade Unions, Social Struggle and the State in South Africa


My mother was a kitchen girl//My father was a garden boy//That’s why I’m a communist//I’m a communist//I’m a communist! – Popular apartheid-era song still sung today

The recent armed conflicts between miners and police in South Africa are part of a long legacy of class struggle against the capitalist state.  Recently we in AS along with our comrades in La Pena 2nd Gen organized a forum to tap some of our comrades’ knowledge on the incredible history of South African working-class resistance, both against apartheid and against the neoliberal African National Congress.

The first presentation “The Birth of the Modern Trade Union Movement in South Africa”, by former Black Panther Gerald Smith, is a very useful initial overview of South African history from a class struggle perspective; it’s also a more specific history and analysis of Black labor militancy in the 1980s under apartheid.  Learn something from his dynamic speaking style!

The second presentation, “Social Struggles and the Capitalist State in South Africa since 1994”, by UC Berkeley PHD student Zachary Levenson, focuses on post-apartheid history.  Levenson recently returned from 6 months in South Africa and describes the terrain of struggle and nature of the capitalist state after apartheid.

Check it out and tell us what you think!

To everyone studying Capital right now

Power to the Jews and Therefore the Class!

SteveO writes:

One important component in the radical Left’s impulse for solidarity with oppressed people across the whole world is a condemnation of Israel’s relationship with Palestine, which is considered racist, colonial, fascist – a settler state par excellence. In our critique of Israel, we forget that nations are composed of antagonistic classes, and that the dialectic of class struggle in Israel-Palestine is not exclusively an anti-colonial one. The duty of a conscious Israeli to the world proletarian struggle for liberation does not lie in a self-sacrificing or suicidal “traitor-ism” wherein good Jews give themselves over to the Palestinian cause as a servant to it.

Israeli Jews have battles to fight of their own, bones to pick with other Israeli Jews, those who are their class enemies. Leftists in general, and Marxists especially, could consider the Jewish working class their sibling for once, rather than limiting our orientation to the contemporary Jewish question to the colonial aspect of the Jewish state. None of this is to say that we should stop criticizing and organizing against Israel’s apartheid regime. But we could and should consider a strategic re-orientation toward support for the working class Israeli, urging its alignment with its Arab counterpart, and forging a common interest between the two against racism, apartheid, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism.
This 7 part series serves as an accessible tutorial on the economics of Israeli Occupation:
These stories highlight some of the class contradictions between Israeli workers and capital, and the  action that Israelis are taking against “their own” government.

In May train workers wildcatted against the political arrest of union members for protesting privatization of the trains

On Tuesday hundreds of doctors in training (medical residents) walked out in response to a draft agreement with the Israeli Finance Ministry.  The strike has been happening since April, and a hunger strike is growing.

Power to the Women and Therefore the Class: Bread and Roses / Pan y Rosas

Many women of a feminist and marxist perspective are gathering this weekend to educate  each other and build solidarity/community amongst each other. We give a shout out to them all and must say that we are inspired by this crucial work. Power to the Women and Therefore the Class!

Determining a program for women’s liberation that can actually be into practice is no easy task. AS has been trying to figure it out throughout our short history as a collective. One thing has injected a fair amount of insight, a concrete manifestation of many of the theoretical conclusions we had started to come to grips with. That is the internationalist socialist women’s organization, Pan y Rosas.

A comrade of ours visited Argentina a while ago and ever since her return has been agitating AS around the politics of Pan y Rosas (Bread and Roses). So far, we are very impressed, and even though their strategy leans more toward the electoral than we think is merited, we have profound respect for their application of theory to practice which focuses on the women sector of the working class without embracing a “sectoralist” perspective that divides this work from that of the male sector.

PyR is an all-women’s socialist group connected to a Trotskyist party, the Partido de Trabajadores Socialistas (Socialist Workers Party). In extremely patriarchal countries like Argentina and Mexico where reproductive rights are nearly non-existent and femicide is a huge and growing problem, PyR has implanted itself within factories and other workplaces to build women’s agency as workers and as women. They resist the boss and the state, in the process defying established gender norms and building women’s solidarity rooted in Third World reality.

Women are the majority of the paid proletariat, and most of the time, they are unpaid workers in the home (“the proletariat of the proletariat”). PyR sees women’s oppression in its totality, fighting patriarchy in all its manifestations without falling down that slippery slope of stage-ism wherein the primary task of feminism is perceived to be settling the score with men of their class, as a precondition to fighting the enemy shared by all genders: capital. Let’s hope that their male comrades are not abstaining from the struggle for women’s liberation under the false notion that according to the principle of “self-determination” only those directly effected by a particular form of oppression have a right or duty to fight against it.

PTS, the multi-gender trotskyist party, has its own video/news network called TV PTS  set up and has covered much of Pan y Rosas’ activism. In this video, a media mogul, Ricardo Fort, meets the resistance of his mostly woman workforce. He is also the owner of a factory where most of the workers are women who face terrible conditions and sexual harrassment. This patriarchal capitalist going down!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqw5wNxmSrM

more PyR in action:

And finally, here is a response to the Pan y Rosas program by our comrade Sasha Yanga. Translation of program and this reflection to come in dedicated post, we just couldn’t wait to big up Pan y Rosas and put it out there that AS is engaging feminism from a proletarian perspective:

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Unionism not a Lost Cause

Steveo

The fresh generation of Marxist revolutionaries of today can’t help but feel confronted with a two sided coin. On the one hand, we are inspired by the elders around us who came out of the period of huge class struggles world wide that is epitomized by the year 1968. The world proletariat produced so many of our local heroes who to this day carry so much of the load of activism and resistance campaigns. At least that’s the case for us in AS here in the Bay Area, where we have a few important elders that have passed the torch to us and still outdo us in many ways.

On the other side of the coin, is a sense that there is a wide gulf between 2011 and the peak years of class struggle that stretched into the mid-70s. None of the histories or biographies that we read seem to contain much evidence of revolutionary thought or action during the whole decades of the 1980s and 1990s. Organizational forms and theoretical content seems to have no continuity, and we feel like we are starting from scratch.

But if we got to know some of these elders a little better and listened to their stories, we would learn a lot. They have been dedicated for their whole lives, and the class struggle never ceases. People like recently retired Jack Heyman of the ILWU is one such figure.

Check out this video which is a succinct summary of one union’s intervention in the political sphere through the best and probably only real means at the disposal of the working class: organized labor action. Voting, petitioning, and the rest of it only have a chance at being relevant within the broader context of direct, organized, labor action. Just to be clear, AS refers to much more than unions or even waged workers when we say “labor”, so although this example we are using focuses on a classic sector of the working class, we do not limit the possibility of class struggle to forms like this.

What better example of the potential of the working class to consciously intervene in the political sphere through organized withdraw of their labor-power from production (aka, strike) than the history of the ILWU here in Oakland and San Francisco? Those Marxists who dismiss the unions, the bureaucracy, and the male-majority industries as reactionary bastions, might take pause and complicate their program with this counterpoint to alleged bankruptcy of Trotskyism, the transitional method, “caste” (race and gender) integrated struggle and other pillars of commonplace marxist praxis (not that Marxist praxis is commonplace at all!).

Much of what has been written on this blog suggests that the new frontier of communist praxis is to be found in the “margins”, in sectors of the working class that in some cases have not even been defined as working class at all (eg, reproductive workers such as mothers). We hold to that assertion, but can’t go so far as to write off the role that unions, productive workers, and men have to play in the revolutionary process. Advance the Struggle is in that category of Marxists who are skeptical of the old formulas, and we are certainly humbled by the historical evidence that at least in one local case, proves that classical formulas can work to a significant degree.

This video should dispel the claim that workers organized as workers are condemned eternally to “economistic” politics, since longshoremen are firmly in the category of “aristocracy of labor”. It is settled: all proletarians can become conscious of their broad, internationalist interests and act in solidarity in militant fashion. The question is how to reconcile the skepticism of union (structured into state apparatus) with counterpoints like the one featured in the video AND how to also strategically coordinate non-union and even non-waged workers struggles with those of militant wage-earners and unionists. When this is figured out in theory and in practice, we will be well on the way to forging a truly unified proletariat.

200 Years of Imperialism in 4 Minutes

CAPITALIST uneven development – imperialism – speaks for its racist self.

… a large proportion of the so-called underdeveloped countries are in total stagnation, and… in some of them the rate of economic growth is lower than that of the population increase.

These characteristics are not fortuitous; they correspond strictly to the nature of the capitalist system in full expansion, which transfers to the dependent countries the most abusive and barefaced forms of exploitation. It must be clearly understood that the only way to solve the questions now besetting mankind is to eliminate completely the exploitation of dependent countries by developed capitalist countries, with all the consequences that this implies.

-Che Guevara, 1964