Liberals are a useless lot. They talk about peace and do nothing to challenge our permanent war economy. They claim to support the working class, and vote for candidates that glibly defend the North American Free Trade Agreement. They insist they believe in welfare, the right to organize, universal health care and a host of other socially progressive causes, and will not risk stepping out of the mainstream to fight for them. The only talent they seem to possess is the ability to write abject, cloying letters to Barack Obama—as if he reads them—asking the president to come back to his “true” self. This sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America’s liberal class an object of public derision.
On May Day, a coalition of immigrant rights groups in Illinois called for a massive mobilization to march from Chicago’s Haymarket Square to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch in downtown. They urged people to join the coalition in highlighting how “hard working families” had been separated through deportations and were struggling to provide basic needs. They planned to use the action to call attention to how President Barack Obama could “stop the suffering” caused by the 2 million deportations his administration has carried out. Grassroots groups and individuals unaffiliated with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) showed up to the march at 3 pm, however, and, according to multiple organizers who participated in the march, this message clashed with ICIRR. Parade marshals with the coalition aggressively policed the message and allegedly pointed out individuals they did not want among them to police.
The nostalgic left is a bit of shorthand I’ve started using for those on the left who have reacted to the disintegration of the old left by wishing for idealised simpler times. And perhaps more strangely blaming the collapse on what they see as threatening new developments, like intersectionality. They hold such newfangled nonsense responsible for the current failure of the left to get an echo from the general population.
It's disconcerting to find so few faces in the prominent ranks of the environmental movement that reflect the realities and experiences of those bearing the brunt of climate collapse. Estimates show that since 1990 more than 90% of natural disasters have occurred in poor countries and that, globally, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by air, soil and water pollution. Numbers also demonstrate that low-income households are hit the hardest by disasters, due to factors such as poor infrastructure and economic instability. Yet those making strategic decisions are sitting in air-conditioned board rooms, hoping their conversations will pave the way for profound systemic change. Those most impacted by socioeconomic ills and environmental degradation are rarely present at those tables.
The International Socialist Organization (ISO) is by far the largest revolutionary organization in the United States. With as many as 1,000 to 1,500 members, it is positioned in most large cities and major university campuses to remain relevant in struggles for years to come.
Once upon a time, in the early 1970s, many people, including myself, thought that all the “struggles” of that period were linked: the Cultural Revolution in China, the guerillas in Latin America, the Prague Spring and the East European “dissidents”, May 68, the civil rights movement, the opposition to the Vietnam war, and the nominally socialist anti-colonial movements in Africa and Asia. We also thought that the “fascist” regimes in Spain, Portugal and Greece, by analogy with WWII, could only be overthrown through armed struggle, very likely protracted.
Does the Left exist as an oppositional political, cultural or economic force? Is anyone intimidated or restrained by the Left? Is there a counterforce to the grinding machinery neoliberal capitalism and its political managers?
Sexism on the left is the punch you weren't expecting. This week the Socialist Workers party, Britain's largest far-left organisation, is on the brink of collapse after a rape scandal. The scandal is not just that a senior party member was accused of raping a young female activist, but that the party responded by convening its own court, comprised chiefly of the alleged attacker's friends, to decide whether rape had occurred. They decided that it hadn't. At a special conference this weekend its members voted for the second time to uphold that decision.
One of the great mysteries of left is why so many decent revolutionaries end up in political cults that reproduce many of the worst aspects of capitalist society. Unfortunately, most outsider commentaries provide little information on how such Leninist parties actually work. The following writings, mostly by disillusioned ex-members, are the exception.