This piece is reposted from Carl Davidson's blog, Keep On Keeping On.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”
—Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Successful strategic thinking starts with gaining knowledge, particular gaining adequate knowledge of the big picture, of all the political and economic forces involved (Earth) and what they are thinking, about themselves and others, at any given time. (Heaven). It’s not a one-shot deal. Since both Heaven and Earth are always changing, strategic thinking must always be kept up to date, reassessed and revised.
Since Sheryl Sandberg has taken it upon herself to jump-start the stalled feminist revolution it’s worth taking a look at the brand of feminism she espouses.
Sandberg’s book, Lean In, together with her plan to re-launch the feminist movement on the scaffolding of Lean In Circles, has drawn an enormous amount of media attention. This flows from both Sandberg’s prominence as the COO of Facebook and the media’s ongoing enchantment with a specific gender story: whether or not women at the top of their professions or careers can “have it all.”
This piece was originally published on Waging Non-Violence.
On Saturday, March 9, New York City police officers shot and killed 16-year-old Kimani Gray in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. After those seven bullets hit him, he lay on the ground and cried out, "Please don't let me die."
Please don't let me die.
It may be one of the most human things I've ever heard, and it makes me want to cry. When I read it I felt like I had said it myself a thousand times before, and had heard the same vulnerability in the words and actions of other people in my life time and time again. It was also the most obvious thing for him to say. The officers shot him seven times — three times in the back. And then, yes, they let him die.
Rest in Power, Hugo Chavez!
In Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution, David Harvey explains that the right to the city is far more than access. Harvey writes, "It is a right to change and reinvent the city more after our hearts' desire. It is, moreover, a collective rather than an individual right, since reinventing the city inevitably depends on the exercise of a collective power over the process of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities is... one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights. How best then to exercise that right?"
First day back at school, and I couldn't help but think of, and thank, the Black Panthers, when my 8 year old daughter went to go and collect the free breakfast for her class from the cafeteria. She handed out, Whole Grain Banana Bread, Low Fat Milk, and Gala Apples, pretty simple stuff really. What I love even more than the healthy food they serve, is that all the kids are offered some; not just the kids from families that qualify for free or subsidized meals, because singling out and stigmatizing kids for needing support just isn't cool. But like the 8 hour work day, weekends, and free education, things like free breakfast in schools don't just happen.
This interview originally appeared in Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture, 5:2, 259-270. For a PDF of the interview, go here. It is reprinted here with permission.
In the 1960s and 1970s, many activists looked to the prisons for political leadership, while viewing prisons themselves as institutions of repression and social control integral to larger systems of oppression. Around the world, the prisoner emerged as an icon of state repression and a beacon of liberation. If the prison served as the bricks and mortar of oppression, the prisoner became the flesh and blood of movement iconography. Black American prisoners held special sway within this global visibility of confinement, in part because so many prisoners became prolific authors connected to wider social movements of the time. In prison, black activists from Martin Luther King, Jr to George Jackson and Assata Shakur penned tracts that offered trenchant insights into race, class, and American power. Black activists proved the most incisive, the most creative, inheritors of a deep and multiracial tradition of political critique behind bars. These imprisoned author-activists articulate a profound paradox: one of the best places to understand the "land of the free" is the place where freedom was most elusive. It was both a sobering and inspiring message for a generation on the move.
As I write, Barack Obama is in constant negotiations with John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives to discuss “the fiscal cliff” that we are about to be thrown over regardless of what deal they cut. He is not meeting with the Progressive Caucus of the Democrats--he has shown great disdain for their politics and their very existence, and anyway, he has their votes. It is essential that Democratic “progressives” vote down the deal that will cut social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and urgent social programs that the president is proposing—but they risk further isolation inside the Democratic Party and great punishment from the Democratic leadership. It will take a real profile in courage for any Congressperson or Senator to reject the Obama/Boehner deal that is in the works but that is what the Movement needs to demand. Let’s be clear. There is virtually no debate going on. The president is proposing that 90% of the alleged “deficit reduction plan” that is artificially created in the first place, would come from cuts in social programs, and 10% or so would come from “raising revenues” what he calls, “just a little bit more taxes” on the wealthy, specifically raising the maximum tax rate from 35% to 39% for the highest tax bracket. This is so little that with all their fraudulent and legal deductions they will not even notice the difference. By contrast, during World War II under Franklin Delano Roosevelt the top tax rate was 94% and stayed above 90% during the Republican Eisenhower administration from 1952-1960. Raising the maximum tax rate to the proposed 39 per cent is a joke, and in typical Beltway logic, Democratic insiders are talking about a compromise on the compromise to 37 percent.
We need to assert a new culture of organizing capable of meeting the demands it will place on us, and now is the time to begin.
This piece was originally published on Alternet on November 14, 2012.
The 2012 elections may prove to have been a watershed in several different respects. Despite the efforts by the political Right to suppress the Democratic electorate, something very strange happened: voters, angered by the attacks on their rights, turned out in even greater force in favor of Democratic candidates. The deeper phenomenon is that the changing demographics of the USA also became more evident—45% of Obama voters were people of color, and young voters turned out in large numbers in key counties.
Unfortunately for the political Left, these events unfolded with the Left having limited visibility and a limited impact—except indirectly through certain mass organizations—on the outcome.