A Black Woman On The Supreme Court Won’t Change Capitalist Oppression

This week, Justice Stephen Breyer announced that he is retiring from the Supreme Court and President Biden promptly reiterated his promise to fill the seat—for the first time ever—with a Black woman. Breyer, who has served 27 years on the Court, is one of the three remaining “liberal” justices. In that sense, this resignation isn’t a major earthquake: the makeup of the court will remain the same. Still, the announcement comes at an opportune time for the Biden administration.

A few months ago, Breyer himself said he was not ready to retire. The timing of his recent announcement to retire before the Court’s session ends in June and ahead of  the November midterm elections indicates that he is concerned about the future political makeup of the court.

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Fascism’s ‘Legal Phase’ Has Begun

When Republicans blocked the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on January 19, 2022, they removed the last safety net preventing the U.S.’s plummet toward authoritarianism. As a result, we are at this moment in a state of free-fall, the culmination of a state-level Legislative And Enforcement Landscape that directly mirrors Jim Crow — or as fascism scholar Jason Stanley recently put it, “America is now in fascism’s legal phase.” Although we do have ways of fighting back, the situation is dire.

We often hear that the U.S.’s founding documents, courts and institutions make it immune to despotism, but this claim is simply false and erases our country’s troubling history with white supremacy — one the GOP is poised to reinvigorate.

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Anti-Fascism At The Intersection Of Ella Baker And Clara Zetkin

This article is a continuation of a previous one titled “Rethinking Revolution for an Age of Resurgent Fascism.”  Ella Baker’s work leading the Young Negroes’ Cooperative League (YNCL) from 1930-1933 is here used to further inform today’s anti-fascism.  Overall, this article relates Baker’s work to the dissenting views of German Communist Party (KPD) co-founder Clara Zetkin, specifically her views on fascism and the systemic alternative she referred to as a “Soviet Congress for a Soviet Germany.”  This was a federation of autonomous councils formed in neighborhoods and workplaces for mutual aid, self-defense, and as dual power to succeed in revolution through general strikes in the event of a Nazi coup.

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Climate Change In The American Empire

Here’s to 2022.

A new year to displace one of the twenty previous warmest years globally since records began: the last twenty apart from 1998 with its strong El Niño.

The summer of 2021 saw the Met Office in the UK issue what was its first-ever “extreme heat warning.” Over in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia, flash floods left more than 120 people dead.

“You don’t expect people to die in a flood in Germany. Maybe in poorer countries, you could understand it, but not in Germany” was a comment that went viral.

Question: What’s the difference between climate change and COVID?

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Movements And Leaders Have Seasons

Over the last two years, social movements, organizations and leaders around the world have been thrust into a period of tumult, transition and uncertainty. These moments of crisis in our personal lives and in society can force sudden changes in our capacity to respond. What happens when we are not able to offer leadership like we used to? Or inversely, what happens when we do have the energy and capacity to respond, but our efforts don’t yield the results that are expected?

Responsibility is the essence of leadership, and millions of community leaders who are working hard to resolve difficult, structural problems are uncomfortable when they feel like they need to respond to the moment, but are unable to. This can lead to burnout, or worse: leaders leaving the movement altogether, creating vacuums of leadership that don’t honor the cycles of our own development.

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Striking Massachusetts Nurses Outwait Corporate Giant Tenet

Last year’s longest-running strike came to an end in early January when nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, overwhelmingly voted to ratify their new contract and return to work.

Seven hundred nurses had walked out over dangerous staffing conditions last March—ten months ago. (See previous Labor Notes coverage from last April and August.)

In a year of health care workers organizing amid Covid surges and staffing shortages, St. Vincent nurses stood out for their willingness to strike indefinitely and for the discipline the strikers showed.

Open-ended strikes are still a rarity in health care, and Tenet was a formidable opponent: a massive for-profit health care corporation that owns 60 hospitals across the country and is valued at $8 billion.

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What Students Walking Out Over Covid Can Learn From Student Movements

Fed up with mandatory in-person school attendance policies that fail to keep them safe, students are marching out of classrooms and into the streets.

Last week, hundreds of students from over 30 public high schools in New York City walked out of class to protest the unsafe conditions in city schools. Despite the latest Covid-19 wave, during which over 38,000 students and teachers tested positive COVID, school officials have insisted on in-person classes. That same week, students from a group called the Chicago Public Schools Radical Youth Alliance (Chi-Rads), formed days prior, led a walkout followed by a protest at Chicago Public Schools headquarters. Their demands included masks, tests, laptops for remote learning, and a voice at the negotiating table for COVID safety plans.

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An Interview with Kamau Franklin Of Community Movement Builders

Well simply put I think his policies, as predicted by any serious left analysis, have continued the terrible predicament of Black life in america. Biden by his own admission was a moderate and was not destined to do anything particularly helpful for the larger collective Black community. His inability to direct his own party to pass his signature legislation, Build Back Better, is a clear indication of how weak he is politically. His refusal to challenge to do anything on voting rights, to extend the housing moratorium to expand healthcare, to cancel student loans, and lastly to have a coherent national policy on fighting the COVID pandemic shows that his loyalties were always to just keep capitalist markets chugging along without the bombast of a Trump-like figure. That is what both the white political and economic elite wanted and the Black political elite wanted.

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How Palestinian Hunger Striker Abu Hawash Forced Israeli Concession

As soon as media reports emerged regarding a deal between Palestinian prisoner, Hisham Abu Hawash and the Israeli prison authorities, Israeli extremists, led by Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir, angrily the Assaf Harofeh Hospital where Abu Hawash was being held.

A Palestinian political activist, Abu Hawash, 41, is a father of five. He was arrested by the Israeli army from his home in the town of Dura near Al-Khalil (Hebron) in October 2020. For the last consecutive 141 days, prior to the agreement, Abu Hawash a hunger strike, which will go down in the history of Palestinian resistance as one of the longest and, arguably, most consequential.

Ben-Gvir and other right-wing Israelis were enraged by the government’s to release Abu Hawash on February 26…

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Should We Disrupt The Democratic Party Or Try To Take It Over?

When trying to figure out how they should interact with political parties, social movements face a common challenge: Should they push from without or seek to operate from within? Should they act as a destabilizing threat to all politicians, or should they work to build strength within a mainstream party?

Frances Fox Piven and Daniel Schlozman are two theorists who stand at opposite poles of this debate. In Piven’s view, movements win by deploying disruptive power from the outside that can polarize the public and create discomfort among politicians. “[M]ovements of mass defiance fired the most important episodes of class and racial reform in the 20th century,” she contends. “This capacity to create political crises through disrupting institutions is … the chief resource for political influence possessed by the poorer classes.”

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Martin Luther King, Jr., Internationalist

We celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day not only to commemorate King’s historic role in overcoming racism and other injustice, but because his work and vision remain relevant.

Today’s persistent racism in policing, health care, housing, and elsewhere, and attacks on voting rights — particularly for Black Americans — show that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not just about the past or the South.

King got arrested in Alabama. He marched in Chicago. He spoke truth to power in Washington. He worked with countless activists and ordinary people to take action that transformed the Jim Crow South and impacted this whole country.

But his outlook went well beyond our borders. Martin Luther King was an internationalist.

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Suicide, Indian Farmers, Indigenous North Americans . . .

By explaining to mental health professionals and the general public that the root cause of suicide among their people is a sociopolitical one and not a brain disease, Roland Chrisjohn and Sudarshan Kottai do their part to foment rebellion against the sociopolitical status quo rather than—as most professionals do—enable it. There are other things professionals can do to help.

Kottai offers Rachel Morley as one model. Morley, a clinical psychologist and a psychosocial practitioner for the British Red Cross, is the author or the 2015 article “Witnessing Injustice: Therapeutic Responsibilities” (in the Journal of Critical Psychology, Counseling and Psychotherapy). For Morley, when working with victims of social and political violence, therapeutic responsibilities include “bearing witness” to stories of injustice.

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The Indigenous Grandmothers Who Stopped A Pipeline

Cheryl Maloney’s eyes glossed over with tears as she stood near the bank of the Stewiacke River in the middle of Nova Scotia. The news was finally sinking in. Behind her, about 100 people filled plates with spaghetti and fried chicken; the crowd included her 11-year-old grandson, Drake Nevin, one of many children who’d spent most of their childhoods fighting alongside Elders to protect this river system. She saw the drift netters—white fishers who catch shad in these waters—reminiscing, and amber leaves floating on the water like confetti.

Two weeks earlier, Alton Gas, a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas, had abandoned a project that would have pumped 10,000 cubic metres of brine into the mouth of this river each day for as long as a decade, leaving behind subterranean caverns where the company planned to store natural gas.

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When Revolutionary Moments Arise Again — What Will We Do?

The world is in a prolonged period of global unrest. Since the financial crisis of 2008, every region of the planet has experienced levels of mass protest unprecedented in recent history, from the Arab Spring in the Middle East and Black Lives Matter in the U.S., to the farmers’ protests in India and the recent upheaval in Kazakhstan.

Yet decades of social movement struggle haven’t produced a break from capitalist domination, and in most places they have failed to even accomplish the more modest aims of reform. Meanwhile, the global climate crisis has added another layer of urgency to the task of social transformation.

What can past struggles teach us about the possibility of achieving a liberated world?

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Building Communities For A Fascist-Free Future

On August 17, 2019, a coalition of antifascist and progressive groups in Portland, Oregon organized a rally to protest a Proud Boy event planned in the city. The rally had a carnivalesque atmosphere created by PopMob — an antifascist group of concerned Portlanders which seeks to “resist the alt-right with whimsy and creativity” — and brought on a diverse range of organizations, from labor and religious groups and civil rights groups like the NAACP to more militant organizations like Rose City Antifa.

During the protest, the latter, along with autonomous black bloc organizers, acted as a buffer between the crowds at the carnival and the hundreds of Proud Boys amassing at the other side of the waterfront park both groups were occupying.

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