Saturday is national move your money day. There will be public events in Santa Barbara and Isla vista that day, and so on the radio we'll have a full hour of classic and new songs that come out of past and present struggles with the banksters and plutocrats. These are songs you can use to help you make the transition to community banking--songs to fuel your spirit and as background music as you do the necessary paperwork.
...and on Saturday: join the action at De La Guerra Plaza at noon to march over to the downtown Bank of America. And at 3 the launch of Occupy Isla Vista at Perfect Park starts at 3 with talks by several UCSB profs, including yours truly.
culture of protest thurs 11/3/11 6-7pm pt kcsb 91.9fm www.kcsb.org
Tags: move your money, #occupy Isla vista, songs for occupying
This week--a bit of a tribute to Paul Simon, who recently performed here and has a brand new compilation of his self-chosen best songs. We'll sample material from that (called "Songwriter") focusing of course on the 'political'...and we'll continue to our new tradition of offering the latest songs from the #occupation as the new movement continues to roll.
culture of protest thurs 10.27.11 6-7pm pdt kcsb 91.9fm www.kcsb.org
This week's broadcast pays tribute to the great radio creator, Norman Corwin, who died this week at age 101. We'll hear one of his most memorable pieces, heard by tens of millions as WWII neared its end. We pay tribute too to Harry Belafonte, subject of a new HBO doc and a new memoir--one of the most politically and socially conscious performers of the 20th century. And we will continue our effort to bring you songs from the #occupy movement because they help connect to what's happening locally and globally--and because of all the press declarations that the movement has no songs! culture of protest thurs 10/20/11 6-7 pm pdt kcsb 91.9fm www.kcsb.org
Tags: harry belafonte, songs for the occupation, Norman Corwin
This week's radio program will be a conversation with Rand Clark, recently returned from Israel and the West Bank. He has committed himself to challenging some prevailing understandings of the situation there, and wants to talk about some largely unnoticed matters:
1. The continuous occurrence of Palestinian dispossession, from 1948 until the present
2. The growth and success of nonviolent resistance, particularly the inclusion of Israelis and Internationals in actions
3. The myth of Israel being "Jewish and democratic" versus the reality of pervasive discrimination of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship
Rand Clark is a longtime Santa Barbara resident with a long history of involvement with progressive political organizations. He is past Board President of the Fund forSanta Barbara and has worked nationally with ACORN, among other organizations.The father of two adult children, Rand works for a software company andcommutes by bicycle from his Westside home to Goleta. He is active on the Israel/Palestine issue because of his strong commitment to justice, fairness and equality. As an American Jew, he feels drawn to theIsrael-Palestine issue because US money funds Israel and the Occupation, and because Israel claims to act in the name of all Jewish people.
YOU NOW CAN HEAR THIS INTERVIEW HERE!! AS MANY HAVE REQUESTED:
Songs about class struggle and wall street, about the 1% and the 99%, about banksters and taxing the rich are in the air and on the internets -=- a souindtrack for the building mass movement 'occupying' (creatiing a democratic public space). We'll hear a sampling this week on the radio--old songs and new, by troubadours known and unknown. Try not to miss this musical window into the rising.
culture of protest thurs 10/6/11 6-7pm pdt kcsb 91.9fm www.kcsb.org
Tags: protest songs about class struggle, #occupy wall street
Its the Jewish new year and that provides an opportunity to listen to some songs that seem germane to current struggles and their history. We'll feature songs that come out of the rising discontents of Israeli young people as reflected in the massive street protests for social justice that have been occurring there. And we'll listen to brand new recordings by outstanding artists who build upon klezmer and other song traditions to make contemporary meanings: the Klezmatics, observing their 25th anniversary as a band, and Daniel Kan and the Painted Bird. Songs of justice, struggle and joy--shana tova!
culture of protest thurs 9-29-11 6-7pm pdt kcsb 91.9fm www.kcsb.org
Tags: Ros hashanah, Israeli protest, klezmatics, Daniel Kahn
The great journalist Lincoln Steffens visited the USSR in the early thirties, and famously declared that he had ‘seen the future and it works’, an assessment that tarnished his reputation for years after. Mickey and I are just back from a touristic trip to Scandinavia and especially Norway. Most of the time was spent in typically touristic ways, but inescapably (and with help from our excellent tour guides) we got a taste of policy and politics in the current Scandinavia way. What we learned makes me want to say that we saw A future that seems to be working. The Scandinavian way stands in stark contradiction to what the dominant US discourse takes for granted as workable. Yet life in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, as shaped by their public policies and programs, puts our situation and our political discourse to shame.
Norway is still responding to the horrifying terrorist massacre of July 22 in which scores of the most politically engaged youth died and several blocks of central Oslo were laid waste by Anders Breivik, who was proudly fulfilling the logic of his far right politico-religious perspective. We outsiders are likely to assume that Breivik was the tip of a large iceberg of extremism in Norwegian society. Maybe so—but Norwegians are likely to say, as did Prime Minister Stoltenberg that night: “You will not destroy our democracy or our commitment to a better world. We are a small but proud nation…but no one will ever frighten us away from being Norway…that the answer to violence is even more democracy. Even more humanity…(but never naiveté)”.
‘Being Norway’ is on one level, nationalistic rhetoric. But Norwegians overwhelmingly mean by this not just pride in their heritage and the magnificent nature they inhabit, but commitment to a particular vision of the good society. It is a vision that is strongly egalitarian and that sees shared wealth and commonwealth as the keys to the future.
Norway today appears to have the highest living standards on the planet (except for tiny enclaves like Luxembourg). There is a minimum wage of $22/hour. Education through college and healthcare are free. Yet this high wage economy has an unemployment rate of 3.6 %. These numbers contradict the assumption that in a global economy high wages for ordinary workers is a major reason for stagnation and unemployment. Norway’s taxes are very high. The price of anything you buy includes about 25% in taxes. Accordingly prices for ordinary purchases are mind boggling. That’s a big problem for affluent American tourists like ourselves—but Norwegian middle class folk have much more purchasing power than their equivalents in this country because wages are so high.
The backbone of Norwegian economic growth has been the North Sea oil development. It is very important to learn that the Norwegian oil industry is a government enterprise, so they are not burdened by a corporate oil industry aiming to shape policy. The profits of oil development go almost entirely into a national wealth trust designed to provide all Norwegians with old age pension security. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund is one of the largest investment centers in the world—investing in many countries, and nearly a trillion dollars in size. So 5 million Norwegians own almost a trillion dollars in assets. Only 4% of these assets are spent on domestic Norwegian public needs. The rest is being saved.
Norwegians complain that their infrastructure needs more investment—our guide was constantly pointing out that the roads need improvement. If you know Norway, you know that road building is difficult given its mountainous terrain (mostly granite), huge fjords, and long narrow configuration. But everywhere we went we observed large efforts to tunnel through those mountains.
Norway isn’t counting on oil for future energy needs and has ruled out nuclear power. In Norway,. water power=electricity-- but care is being taken not to spoil the natural vistas. Along with transportation tunnels, we saw projects to put hydro-electric plants inside mountains. The tunnel fetish extends to the city of Oslo, where a new tunnel system has just opened that diverts traffic from city streets, using new techniques to suspend the tunnel beneath the Oslo fjord.
Norway has been developing high speed rail. It is developing new industry to replace declining manufacturing—industry whose products will compete on the basis of quality and will be produced under strong environmental regulation. The high taxes Norwegians pay buy all this infrastructure and along with it the preservation of the natural world Norwegians love. And all of this may explain why its unemployment rate is so low. (.And, throughout Scandinavia, it is taken for granted that unemployment compensation will be high enough and last long enough so that the jobless can maintain a decent living standard in the interim).
Norwegians (as all Scandinavians), assume that health care, and education will be free, and that child care will be routinely available and affordable. They complain about the quality of such services but nobody –including the rightwing—doubts that they should be there.
So here’s a place where austerity is not a topic, where government enterprise and public planning are valued, where taxes are very high—and where poverty and super concentration of wealth don’t exist. Everywhere you turn, there is a living reality that contradicts the assumptions that Americans (not only on the right) make these days about how the world has to work. These assumptions include: jobs are created by private companies not by government, regulation harms innovation, high benefits and wages undermines work incentives, you have to be able to get rich if investment is to happen, government doesn’t know how to invest or plan or operate efficiently, global competition requires lower wages and reduced social welfare benefits, the tax burden destroys economic growth, etc.
Norway has achieved the world’s highest living standards by refusing to accept any of these. It seems plausible that our economic woes can’t be overcome unless we start taking their example seriously.
I’ll be continuing this discussion on the radio Thursday evening, when I’ll be joined by Daraka Larimore Hall. Daraka is the chair of the Santa Barbara county Democratic Party. Before coming back to SB (where he grew up) he spent several years in Norway and Sweden as an organizer for the Labor Youth and has spent many summers at Utoya, the youth camp that was the site of the massacre. We’ll talk about Norway in the aftermath, and what we might learn from Scandinavian social democracy…as well as the political scene in the US and in Santa Barbara. So…tune in Thursday at 6 PM pacific time. It’s 91.9fm the radio and www.kcsb.org streaming on line.
That's the title of one of the great songs by one of the world's leading political troubadours--Leon Rosselson. He's been at work for more than 50 years in England. Over these years he's created a wealth of songs that unearth history and expose contemporary reality--and some that are wonderfully inspiring. Some of his songs help put the current class struggle in England and globally in provocative context. Some continue to shed light on things like the situation in Israel/Palestine, the royal family, communism and Christianity. A new compilation of his life's work has just been issued and I want to explore that on this week's program.
On Barack Obama’s 50th birthday. virtually everybody to the left is moaning and /or growling furiously about the debt ceiling deal and particularly about Obama’s role in it. Since it’s the height of summer, it’s possible that few people are reading all this stuff, but I worry that the main effect is to demoralize and demobilize liberal and progressive activists:
Obama has betrayed the millions who believed his promises of change.
Obama has done this deliberately—he is ‘really’ a ‘conservative’ or a conscious lackey of the bourgeoisie who has concealed his true ideology and intention behind the rhetoric.
Or, whatever he believes, he’s a poor leader, incompetent, caving in, unable to fight against the dragons of the far right.
The Tea party is running the show and Obama is letting them. Right-wing Obama hatred we are used to—but you begin to hear it on the left.
In my fifty years of political activism, I've never seen much benefit in spreading cynicism, conspiracy and calamity. People, I think, will resist attack on their interests when they see possibility not when they feel despair. So I wonder what folks who are so focused on attacking Obama think such attack accomplishes? If you have a clue about this let me know.
So let me try to suggest a few points now getting less attention.
First—the deal is not quite the catastrophe some are describing. Obama was able to win (because of enormous p[popular pressure significant protections for social security, medicare and Medicaid benefits (which had been ‘on the table’ a few days ago). He and Pelosi have crafted a situation that will make ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy more likely. The budget cuts over the next decade include a major reduction in new Pentagon weapons development ( not long ago military spending was ‘off the table’). The budget cuts are projected over ten years, with relatively little being cut in the next year or two (and all these caps and cuts can be reversed by the next congress). The most disturbing cuts are likely to be in environmental protection and there may certainly be other serious damage to necessary programs.
A lot of the hand-wringing is about the super congress committee to be appointed. There’s every reason to be worried about that (apart from its undemocratic nature)—and I won’t go into all the wonkery that can be deployed on this topic. Suffice to say, however, that I’m not persuaded that the results of that committee are a done deal or that the Republicans will be able to control it.
Now I am not saying the overall situation isn't dire. It is.
First of all, the economy now seems headed for a recessionary dip. The focus on deficits makes it hard to see how Obama and the Democrats can propose any agenda that will be job creating. As I've said before, the most promising single idea is the ‘infrastructure bank’ and related schemes for merging private and public investment. This is an idea that is very appealing to a lot of business types and to the labor unions/. Maybe it’s now on the table again in a real way—and it wouldn't be a deficit creating measure. There will be some other things pushed now that are needed—extending unemployment comp and maybe tax credits for job creating firms.
I don’t think that criticisms of Obama’s capacities as a leader, his interest in reaching out to business elites and moderate Republicans have much justification. I would like to see the case made that in fact his leadership[ has been exceptional in certain respects. He led the effort to pass health care (and compromised to do it in much the way that FDR did to get social security passed ) He got a stimulus passed (again compromised). Financial reform, the auto company takeover, DADT –all come to mind as achievements against considerable odds. In foreign policy, I think he should be credited with helping to destroy the neo-conservative version of empire that seemed so dominant five years ago. I don’t think liberal critics are willing to understand that Obama’s pragmatic, strategic, and consensus oriented leadership style might well be a better way for him to govern than the outspoken, bold confrontational posture they claim to want. And I really despise the ‘betrayal’ line. He has betrayed less in terms of principle than did FDR (who sacrificed African American interests to pass social security and the Wagner Act), Truman, whose loyalty program helped institute McCarthyism, Kennedy who ramped up the nuclear arms race, LBJ—Vietnam, and Clinton who abolished ‘welfare as we know it’. The lesson of history for progressives in the US and everywhere else in the world is NOT EVER to count on national leaders to lead by principle and moral concern. ON the other hand, a left that hopes to achieve practical policy has to figure out how to use the promises and rhetoric of national leaders as leverage. And that means figuring out how to be critical without destroying the legitimacy of leaders whose promises offer hope for the people.
In my last posting I suggested the value of having a strong voice of labor like AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka run in some state primaries as a way of publicly advancing a far reaching jobs agenda and providing a vehicle for sending a message to Washington while hoping to energize the ‘base’ for 2012. Some readers said they really liked the idea. Some argued that Trumka would never do it (given the likelihood that his vote would be weak rather than strong and his access would then be destroyed)—and suggested alternatives (like Michael Moore).
I was NOT proposing a candidate run as an alternative to Obama and am opposed to that kind of effort. One reader who got the point that I was talking more about theater than power suggested : Bethe Real Obama. Bethe would quote Obama’s earlier statements and comments and promise to deliver on them and take them seriously. A lot of people would be willing to vote for Bethe, knowing that it was a way of sending a message. There could also be rallies in favor of Bethe. I’m not sure if there would be a way of getting Bethe on the ballot but even a sizable write-in campaign might be a way of getting the message across.
The Obamans think they can win the presidential election next year because the GOP candidate will be patently awful and independents and even some Republicans will prefer him. Maybe so—but this begs the question—what about congress? If the working people who are being abandoned by the president’s political direction—the public workers being laid off in droves, the huge numbers of young people of every educational level who are under or unemployed, the millions of homeowners underwater, the hundreds of thousands whose necessary services are being cut, are demoralized because no one is addressing their needs, rights and interests, we will end up with an even worse Congress than we now have. Obama’s pragmatism leads him to various devil’s bargains. Instead of impatiently dismissing the anxieties and challenges coming from the left, he needs to address them—and we need him to do so.
Positive straws in the wind? The very promising situation apparently in the Wisconsin recall elections coming up in the next couple of weeks—victories there will send a message. The outspokenness of Trumka and some other labor leaders—especially Roseanne Demoro of the National Nurses Union. Inspiring moments like the national teachers rally the other day where Matt Damon so beautifully challenged Obama’s unholy alliance with rightwing educational ‘reform’. What else do you know about?
Rob Rosenthal (one time UCSB grad student) and I have just published a new book. It’s called Playing for Change: Music and musicians in the Service of social movements.He's currently editing a book based on Pete Seeger’s unpublished writings. Rob's a sociologist (now at Wesleyan U) and a musician--some years ago he produced several albums of political song with other Santa Barbara musicians. He's in town this week. We'll talk about our book, which includes interviews with some leading politically minded troubadours and we'll listen to some of their music. The list includes Ani di Franco, Dar Williams, Chuck D, Tom Morello and Billy Bragg. Tune in for possible edification and surprises.
This week on the radio we've got a two hour block. At 6 Pm we';ll be talking with Daraka Larrimore Hall (chair of the Democratic Party Central committee) about the horrific events in Norway. Daraka worked for two years with the Norwegian youth labor group that was the target of the massacre and has spent much time at the camp that was attacked. He's got some particular insight and feeling about what has transpired there.
And then we'll feature a host of new songs dealing with current happenings--happenings that inspire contemporary troubadours. Songs that edify, inspire and amuse. We're filling in for Corey and Faviana of Latin American Journal who are indisposed or otherwise engaged.
And don't fail to come tomorrow (Thursday) at noon to De la Guerra plaza to take part in observance of the 5th anniversary of the News Press Mess. Daraka will speak, along with several of the journalists illegally fired for their union activity. And there'll be joined by Lou Cannon, former mayor Blum, with songs by Brendan James.
culture of protest thurs 7/28/11 6-8pm pdt kcsb 91.9fm www.kcsb.org
If you’ve been following my occasional scribbles all these months, you know that I’ve tended to be critical of lefty attacks on Barack Obama, on the tendency to blame him for failures to fulfill the promise of the reform his election ushered in. Instead of such recrimination, I urge that we think strategically about how to make gains—and that strategic thinking includes searching for ways to build upon Obama’s presidency and his promises. And it means understanding that he is not the leader of progressive movement nor can he be. To be president of the United States, he’s the chief “executive of the ruling class’ (as old Karl put it) at a time of increasingly naked class struggle. He intends to play that role seriously and that means something very important that’s usually ignored—he has to define a class interest and therefore challenge the greed and self-aggrandizement of the rich and powerful. The class interest is to try to make the ‘system’ work at a time when many of those who run its institutions are engaged in systematic crime. It means trying to engineer solutions for the deep long-term problems—economic, environmental and moral—that the system’s operation has created.
Obama, unlike his predecessor, is a serious guy who is intent on being a problem solver. He deserves acknowledgement as a political strategist if for no other reason than he succeeded in becoming president even though expert wisdom was quite sure this was impossible. And, contrary to many lefty commentators, his effort during the current struggle over the debt provides further evidence of his strategic skill. His strategy for defeating the GOP is to split the business elite from the Republican Party—a task made easier by the quasi-fascistic lunacy which that party is pandering to. But to do that, Obama has believed it necessary to exempt the banksters from paying the huge costs of their venality (including criminal penalties as well as financial ones), and to claim leadership in the project of restraining the long-term debt. He and his political team believe that this stance not only enables him to win support from centers of corporate and financial power, but will help win back support from ‘independent’ voters who think the deficit is the cause of our economic problems. He seems to be hoping that he will be able to take the deficit issue away from the Republicans forever (just like Bill Clinton did by abolishing ‘welfare as we know it’).
But the dark side of this gets darker by the day: a willful neglect of the need for a massive jobs program and of the needs and rights and interests of American working people. Recent employment reports showed unemployment worsening. Large layoffs of state and local workers due to austerity budgeting offset any slight gains resulting from increased activity in the private sector. The mortgage foreclosure crisis has destroyed the housing market and with it the consumer economy as a whole. Meanwhile two trillion dollars in profits and reserves are held in private hands and not being invested in the American economy. Old Karl may be saying in the grave: “I told you all this would happen!”
But, those of us who’ve been teaching Marx to students over the last number of decades have acknowledged that capitalist society and government have more ways than Marx knew to overcome the tendencies of the capitalist economy to stagnate—tendencies that are largely due to the fact that workers can’t be paid enough (because of the necessity for profit to be extracted) to consume the goods the economy is capable of producing. We long ago accepted the idea that “Keynesian” policies –i.e. government investment programs that create jobs or put money in people’s pockets—can stimulate the growth needed to end recessions and restore employment. And for a long time the chief way this was done was by boosting military spending.
In the last 2-3 decades, ‘globalization’ has meant the export of jobs and investment so that established government pump priming has become less effective in creating jobs. At the same time, military spending has become a drag on the overall economy more than a job creator. Simultaneously, rather than accepting the value of government investment for the long-term health of the US, the corporate and financial elite has decided that they want the freedom to invest globally and have no great interest in the domestic well-being of American society and its people. They have wanted to reduce the cost of labor and they’ve succeeded maybe beyond their wildest dreams. American workers’ real wages have markedly declined while corporate profits have skyrocketed. American workers’ pensions are shredded and much of the social wage achieved in the New Deal and the post war eras (including low cost public higher education) is gone. Recent research by corporate sources confirms that the profits derived by American investors is largely the result of these wage cuts and the low taxes levied on the wealthy class.
What I just said is but a bare bones sketch of the ways the American people have literally been robbed since the advent of Ronald Reagan. But here’s where Marx has always had a very good point: cutting the wages of workers means undercutting the consumer economy, making economic stagnation and decline inevitable.
Obama wants to come to the rescue. He wanted to promote in a major way the ‘green economy’. Large scale investment in retrofitting homes and office buildings, in new renewable energy, in alternative transportation –all this would make millions of jobs and usher in a new prosperity. He wanted to promote ‘infrastructure’—repairing the massive decay of America’s transportation system, upgrading education, making broadband universal, etc. These two interrelated pathways have to be initiated with public money but the returns in the long term are evident. He has been unable to lead this sort of movement because the corporate elite were quite happy to ally itself with the Republican ideological and political opposition (based on fantasy and lie).
The trumped up debt crisis (trumped up by the GOP) seems to have provided Obama with the strategic opportunity to split a lot of the business elite from the GOP given the Republican effort to drive the economy over a cliff. It’s this strategy that leads him to accept so much of the argument for cutting the budget, refraining from real moves on jobs, and entertaining ideas to cut social security and other benefits programs. According to reports about White House advisers’ thinking, winning in 2012 (and presumably taking back congress) will then allow for a second term of new investment in the infrastructure and ‘innovation’.
This thinking could be too smart for its own good. It risks a repeat of 2010—the demobilization of the Democratic base as working people see their interests jettisoned by Democrats who claim to represent them. It’s a strategy which worked for Bill Clinton in winning a second term (but not so much for enabling the Democrats to control congress). It’s a strategy that proved disastrous for Jimmy Carter, and Reagan was elected promising jobs and winning all those Reagan Democrats.
But the situation now for workers and the ‘middle class’ (a term I as a sociologist really despise since it’s a blurring of needed class analysis and awareness) is much more desperate. And as we ‘ve tried to suggest in this space there’s a lot of organizing now going on aimed at fighting back and giving workers some voice. Please pay attention to what’s going on in places like Wisconsin and Ohio and other states where rightwing governors’ efforts to destroy workers’ rights have politically backfired. Note that much of the Democratic caucus in the House seems ready to vote down a deficit deal that would damage social security and Medicare benefits. Their resistance, articulated by Nancy Pelosi as well as the Progressive Caucus gets much less media attention than the clowning of the congressional tea party, but it may be at least as important in shaping the final resolution of this charade. And I mention this because the Pelosi concern is certainly about the anger of the grassroots if benefit cuts are accepted—and on the other hand a belief that real political gain is at hand if Democrats defend what’s left of the social wage.
But there’s a lot missing from the political dynamic. The grassroots anger isn’t being expressed articulately. Its political thrust is to defend threatened rights and not to advance a set of ideas and visions that can give people something to fight (and vote) for.
Some efforts to do that are being tried—like Van Jones ‘rebuild the dream’ campaign. The most interesting thing about that (which you’ve certainly gotten a lot of email about) is the number of diverse organizations that have come together around this—and the way that MoveOn has connected to unions and other economic progressive groups in new ways. It remains to be seen what forms of action might come from the fact that 25000 folks supposedly participated in house meetings to endorse the Van Jones campaign. (If you’ve been involved in this project, please record your thoughts about it in the comments below).
How workers’ voices can be heard
I’ve been trying to figure out how workers needs and interests can be voiced nationally in a way that would compel attention and response. Here’s an idea I’m a bit obsessed with:
Use the Democratic presidential primary season as a framework. One or more highly credible leaders ought to run against President Obama in some or all of the states with highest unemployment levels. The aim is to articulate the needs of working families and ‘vulnerable’ people, to tell their stories and to spell out a plan to help meet those needs—and to use the vote in the primary to send a message to the powers that be—a message in support of that agenda. Such a candidate would stress support for the re-election of the president, but that the president needs the pressure to challenge all the pressure he is getting from the banksters and the business elite and the right wing. Such a candidacy would, leading up to the voting, stimulate the crafting of the plan or agenda I refer to (could use public hearings or town meetings or other frameworks for this). It would seek long term mobilizing of supporters to stay in motion after the voting and to ensure maximum turnout in November. It would seek financing from grassroots fundraising.
My candidate for this role is Rich Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, who has in recent months been speaking in much the way I imagine he might in a primary campaign, and whose capacity for being a voice of labor is established not only by his formal position, but his personal story (as a miner), his physical bearing and his evident passion. I am NOT proposing –and won’t support—a marginal and non-credible candidate—the point here would NOT be to advance a ‘progressive’ position but to try to be literally the voice of working people.
There might be others who could serve as such a credible voice—and maybe different people might run in various states.
I’m sure there are many potential pitfalls lurking in this sort of strategy. So I’m hoping to spark a discussion: What’s your reaction to such an effort? What are its dangers and dark sides?
If not this, then what kinds of action seem feasible and also potent for accomplishing the purpose of strongly challenging corporate domination of policy and politics in the near term?
If you like the idea, can we think of people like Richard Trumka who might be both credible and willing to step up to this role?
Tags: corporate dominationm, workers needs and interests
This month marks the fifth anniversary of what all over the world is called the "News Press mess". On July 28 there's a rally led by the reporters fighting to regain their job rights after being fired for their union activity.
Speakers at the rally at City Hall at Noon on Thursday 7/28 will include several of the illegally fired News-Press reporters; veteran journalist Lou Cannon; former Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum; and Daraka Larimore-Hall, chairman of the central committee of the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara. Folksinger B Willing James will perform songs by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan in support of the nine reporters who were illegally fired and all those who are continuing to stand up for their rights inside the News-Press.
On the radio this week: Melinda Burns, veteran reporter at the News-Press who helped lead the effort to form a union there and is one of those still seeking redress and justice will be on the Culture of Protest show. She’ll be joined by Ira Gottlieb, one of the attorneys for the news Press workers. Tune in to learn about this dramatic story and get updated on the legal effort by the journalists to defeat publisher Wendy McCaw’s union busting. We’ll have some music too pertinent to the case and the cause.
culture of protest 7/21/11 6-7pm pdt kcsb 91.9fm www.kcsb.org
Tags: Santa Barbara news press, reporters and labor unions
Woody Guthrie was born July 13, 1912. Thursday we'll do our annual Woody birthday show. It's also the night that his most famous disciple performs at the Santa Barbara Bowl. So we will of course feature Bob Dylan's voice paying tribute to Woody and singing some of his songs. And as we usually do, we'll tap the inexhaustible stream of new versions of Woody songs, focusing on work he did that bridges his time and ours.
culture of protest thurs 7/14/11 6-7pm pdt kcsb 91.9fm www.kcsb.org
Tags: woody guthrie, bob dylan, woody 99th birthday
It's not far fetched to see the worldwide uprisings, from Athens to Madison, as scenes from the actual class struggle--workers defending their interests and rights in the face of financial elites drive to impose austerity while their profits and wealth soar. So this week we'll here songs--new and revived--that aim to define and inspire working class consciousness and action. Songs by performers known and unknown, envisioning and responding to the uprising.
culture of protest thurs 7-7-11 6-7pm pdt kcsb 91.9fm www.kcsb.org
Tags: class struggle, working class uprising, class conscious songs
Dick Flacks here...sociology professor emeritus at UCSB. Budget cuts mean that I can't continue my annual course on political sociology. Maybe a blog will be a space for me to continue to ruminate and pontificate. And maybe (as a veteran teacher on these matters) I can offer some ways of thinking about what's happening nationally and locally that will be useful, as we struggle to make sense of the tortured complexities of these times.
I've been a leftwing activist for more than 50 years. What we've been struggling for all these years is full democracy--to increase the opportunities for people to have real voice in the decisions that affect them. Step by step over these years we've made some gain...but it is a long march, and one that never ends. The big barrier to democracy in our society is the concentrated power of corporations. At the same time, democracy is undermined by the felt powerlessness of people in their daily lives--the persistent belief that our problems are only our own personal concern. It's a strong cultural theme--such individualism--constantlly reinforced by mass media and everyday circumstance. But the current big crisis of the economy maybe makes it more possible for more people to understand that we've got to have social reform and economic reform. So my writing here is aimed at helping us figure out what to think and act on that so that we can hope for new democratic possibilities. WE'll be talking about the local and the national.
The blog name comes from an old labor union hymn:
Step by step the longest march can be won. Many stones can form an arch...singly none. And by union what we will can be accomplished still. Drops of water turn a mill, singly none, singly none.
For 27 years I've had a weekly radio show on KCSB (91.9 fm. www.kcsb.org) It's called the Culture of Protest. It's comes from my fascination with music and social movements. I collect 'political' and 'protest' music and that's what we play each week (Thursdays 6-7 pm). So sometimes here we'll share and talk about that.
I'm worried about one thing about the blogosphere. And that's the way that some people use the blog comment space for anonymous nastiness. I'm sick of the kind of political blather that assaults the motives of others, and sees dark conspiracy behind every thing one doesn't like. This kind of stuff is helping to poison the political atmosphere. So I'm going to strive for a civil tone to whatever interaction may happen on this blogsite.