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Abbie Bakan -  Marxism and indigenous feminism
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Marxism and indigenous feminism
June 26, 2014

Indigenous feminism is a significant current of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist politics, one from which Marxists have much to learn. In fact, indigenous women have inspired Marxist ideas about women’s liberation for decades, but we often fail to recognize the contribution. Historically, these women and their families were the objects of study of Lewis Henry Morgan, the American colonialist who provoked Marx’s commentary, and who would in turn serve as the experiential basis for Frederick Engels’ Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Challenging extreme racism, sexism and violence, indigenous women of North America continue to lead movements from Idle No More to the justice for the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada.


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NYC Climate Convergence

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For People, Peace & Planet Over Profit
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Come to a conference, skill share, and festival rolled into one!
Mobilize for system change to prevent catastrophic climate change!
Demand an end to fossil fuels by 2030 and tens of millions of living-wage jobs

The UN and world leaders have been debating what to do about climate change for two decades - and gotten nowhere. Their solutions have only gotten fuzzier as the science and impact of climate change have become clearer. Now they’re coming to New York and it’s time for our voices to be heard! Join us as we debate and discuss real alternatives that challenge the system, rather than accept it.

We are told that technology, market mechanisms, or individual lifestyle changes are what will save the planet. They will not. Because they are all solutions that accommodate the system, not challenge it. The root of the problem is an economic system that exploits people and the planet for profit. It is a system that requires constant growth, exploitation, warfare, racism, poverty and ever-increasing ecological devastation to function.

What will it take to change things? A mass movement for ecological and social justice that combines all our forces against a system that poisons our land, our water and the air we breathe.

Come to a weekend of politics and movement building, where real solutions are discussed and action plans are developed. A weekend full of workshops, panels, music and community building. A conference that puts the politics we need into the fight against climate catastrophe.

• Millions of fossil-fuel free, living-wage jobs
• A new energy, food, transit and sanitation system
• Tax the rich to pay for it
• An emergency transition to a new kind of economy
• And lots more

For more information or to help organize, email:
Converge@SystemChangeNotClimateChange.org


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via Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

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via Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

I endorse this message.


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"It’s a cruel irony that people in rural Iowa can be malnourished amid forests of cornstalks running to the horizon.”

That, dear National Geographic, is the cruel irony of capitalism — inequality and poverty amidst abundance.

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Why are people malnourished in the richest country on Earth?

Millions of working Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We sent three photographers to explore hunger in three very different parts of the United States, each giving different faces to the same statistic: One-sixth of Americans don’t have enough food to eat.

 … In the United States more than half of hungry households are white, and two-thirds of those with children have at least one working adult—typically in a full-time job. With this new image comes a new lexicon: In 2006 the U.S. government replaced “hunger” with the term “food insecure” to describe any household where, sometime during the previous year, people didn’t have enough food to eat. By whatever name, the number of people going hungry has grown dramatically in the U.S., increasing to 48 million by 2012—a fivefold jump since the late 1960s, including an increase of 57 percent since the late 1990s. Privately run programs like food pantries and soup kitchens have mushroomed too. In 1980 there were a few hundred emergency food programs across the country; today there are 50,000. Finding food has become a central worry for millions of Americans. One in six reports running out of food at least once a year. In many European countries, by contrast, the number is closer to one in 20.

 … It’s a cruel irony that people in rural Iowa can be malnourished amid forests of cornstalks running to the horizon. Iowa dirt is some of the richest in the nation, even bringing out the poet in agronomists, who describe it as “black gold.” In 2007 Iowa’s fields produced roughly one-sixth of all corn and soybeans grown in the U.S., churning out billions of bushels.

These are the very crops that end up on Christina Dreier’s kitchen table in the form of hot dogs made of corn-raised beef, Mountain Dew sweetened with corn syrup, and chicken nuggets fried in soybean oil. They’re also the foods that the U.S. government supports the most. In 2012 it spent roughly $11 billion to subsidize and insure commodity crops like corn and soy, with Iowa among the states receiving the highest subsidies. The government spends much less to bolster the production of the fruits and vegetables its own nutrition guidelines say should make up half the food on our plates. In 2011 it spent only $1.6 billion to subsidize and insure “specialty crops”—the bureaucratic term for fruits and vegetables.

Those priorities are reflected at the grocery store, where the price of fresh food has risen steadily while the cost of sugary treats like soda has dropped. Since the early 1980s the real cost of fruits and vegetables has increased by 24 percent. Meanwhile the cost of nonalcoholic beverages—primarily sodas, most sweetened with corn syrup—has dropped by 27 percent.


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Lenin and the debates that shaped the Russian Revolution have been misunderstood by friends and foes alike.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 has long been an object lesson suitable for drawing edifying morals. Everyone looks at it in order to discover the great mistake — moral, political, ideological — that led to disaster.

Having discovered the mistake, we can feel secure that we would have avoided disaster and superior to all those who have not yet seen the error of their ways. The human reality of the revolution — the overpowering sense of being caught up in a whirlwind of events — is lost as we hurry to draw lessons and point fingers.


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Any business that sacrifices human beings for the profit of a few is a crime against society.
Helen Keller

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You know socialism has killed over 94 million people right?
Anonymous

Wrong. You’re thinking of capitalism — maybe state capitalism [i.e., what’s referred to as so-called “Communism”] — but capitalism nonetheless (i.e., the exploitation of the working class by a ruling class which controls the means of production).

Actual socialism — i.e., the DEMOCRATIC and COLLECTIVE control over society by the working class — has certainly not killed even a tiny fraction of that number of people.

In fact, the historical international socialist movement has probably “saved” billions of people insofar as socialist individuals, organizations, and struggles have been behind such things across the world as universal health care, welfare, social security, unemployment insurance, movements against war, unions, an end to child labor and poverty wages, disability insurance, environmental and safety protections at work/school/communities, the fight against slavery, the fight against colonialism/imperialism, the fight against fascism, the fight for women to be free from sexual violence, the fight against racist lynchings and white supremacy, the fight for LGBT rights, and on and on …


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we should have done this years ago, imho …

we should have done this years ago, imho …


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who’s ready for the Third American Revolution?


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Nicole Colson reports from the Socialism 2014 conference in Chicago.

SOME 1,450 people from across the U.S. and beyond attended Socialism 2014 in Chicago over June 26-29.

Sponsored by the Center for Economic Research and Social Change (CERSC) and co-sponsored by the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the annual conference is one of the largest gatherings of the left in the U.S. This year’s attendance topped last year’s by more than 100 people—and an expanded schedule allowed close to 150 sessions offered during the four-day event.

But more important than attendance figures were the struggles represented at Socialism 2014: Palestinian rights, LGBT equality, the labor movement, anti-racism, education justice, women’s rights and the environment, to name just some.

… ANOTHER HIGHLIGHT for many was the session featuring CeCe McDonald, an African American transgender woman, who was imprisoned in Minnesota for the “crime” of defending herself from a racist and anti-trans hate crime. Thanks to an activist campaign demanding she be freed, McDonald was released from prison in January of this year after serving 19 months.

At Socialism, McDonald brought the crowd in the packed-to-overflowing room to its feet multiple times as she explained her own evolution as an activist—including how her experiences with the prison system have shaped her attitudes. “I don’t care if you put me in a men’s prison, a women’s prison, a trans prison or a unicorn prison…I’m a prison abolitionist,” McDonald said.

In an interview after the session, she said:

"I thought that the conference was awesome. It felt like a wonderful big queer family reunion. I felt like there was no holds barred—this is the place where people can express themselves freely, talk about the issues in our country, and be surrounded by loving and caring advocates, and people who are involved in the issues. I’m really, really glad that I came, and that I got to speak, and that I got to meet such wonderful, lovely people."

Explaining the importance of building solidarity, McDonald explained:

"As a trans woman, I feel like my issues go beyond just trans issues. When it comes to prison abolition, immigration, women’s rights, the policing of our bodies, reproductive rights, voting rights—all of this is connected to me, someway, somehow. I feel like I can’t just say I can only be concerned about trans issues and not be concerned about those other issues as well. We have to understand that every issue, every struggle, is our issue and our struggle."


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Marxism lives because we have not gone beyond the circumstances that created it.

 … The crime of capitalism is that it forces the vast majority of the population to remain preoccupied with basic concerns of nutrition, housing, health, and skill acquisition. It leaves little time for fostering community and creativity that humans crave.

And the injustice of capitalism is that it does so in an era of plenty.


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Capitalism, disability, and the false valuation of human life

Keith Rosenthal
21 June 2014

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image

Two days ago, Annie, a 2-year old child with a heart condition, died in Illinois because she was refused a heart transplant.

The reason? She was born with Down Syndrome, and had what are often referred to as “special needs”. In the U.S., children with disabilities such as Down Syndrome are nearly always automatically removed from organ donor transplant lists. Their lives are deemed less valuable by medical professionals, administrators, insurance companies, and state and federal law-makers and enforcers.

As journalist Jenna Glatzer wrote at Salon.com a few years back, “In the U.K., the policy is absolute: No medical center will give a transplant to a patient with Down syndrome. [But] in the U.S. policy is unofficial — there’s no written rule excluding people with disabilities. However, in practice, the statistic speaks for itself: Only one person with Down syndrome has ever been granted a heart transplant in this country.”

One hospital medical director put it bluntly to Glatzer: “My main aim is to make people live and to become independent human beings that will live a fulfilled life. I have grave doubts as to whether … a Down’s sufferer [would] ever be able to lead a totally independent life. If asked to make a decision between a normal person and a Down’s patient, [we take] the person who is the most whole.”

Such life-and-death decisions are made in the medical industry all the time, and often the reasons provided by doctors or medical administrators are not as blatantly bigoted as the one above. (Though this still leaves aside the basic problem that such decisions are subject to the whim of unaccountable medical technocrats, rather than truly being in the hands of the people themselves, as per the norms of what is generally understood as “democracy”).

To me, though, this is not really a “medical” issue or problem, at base. It is a social one. It is not the medical field which is the root of the devaluation of the lives of disabled people in this society, though the medical-industrial complex has historically and presently played an outrageous role in justifying and contributing to such devaluation.

At base, it is about what our society as a whole deems to be a “worth-while” life. Starting with the advent of the industrial revolution, it came to be an accepted fact that the purpose of society was to produce, accumulate, and exchange as many goods, commodities, and wealth as quickly as possible. If that meant throwing children into factories; so be it. Paying starvation wages; so be it. And if it meant casting aside to die all those individuals deemed incapable of engaging in sufficiently profitable and productive labor in the factories, mills, and workhouses emerging everywhere; so be it.

This is why the US has institutionalized, sterilized, and killed millions of disabled people over the course of its existence (and even today continues such practices). In a capitalist economy based on prioritizing profit and breakneck production over all else — in which cutthroat competition reigns supreme as per the dystopian dictates of “survival of the fittest” free-marketeers and ideologues — all those humans who are incapable of laboring under the prevailing rate and pace of industrial exploitation are considered mere “burdens” by the bean-counters and cynics who rule over the economy (and consequentially the polity itself).

We are not humans first in such a society, but rather “human resources” compelled to sell ourselves on a “job market.” The value of our labor — i.e., our capacity to produce surplus value, or profit, for a prospective employer — is what determines our value in society as a whole.

The lower one’s “marketability” as such a human resource, the lower one’s social position in society, replete with the poverty, ostracism, and perceived inferiority that comes with it.

The fact of the matter is that the measure of the value of human life should not be, need not be, and hasn’t always been, commensurate with one’s ability to participate fully in specifically capitalist, i.e., exploitative and grueling, conditions of social labor (i.e., the total societal production, exchange, and distribution of goods and services).

What if the purpose of life was not to be deemed sufficiently “valuable” to an employer — or to pursue profit for profit’s sake, but merely the pursuit of happiness, love, meaningful social interaction, and creativity, based upon a society in which each person was able to contribute to the total quantity of socially-necessary labor (i.e., the total work necessary to enable society to function and equitably prosper) according to no other consideration than their unique abilities and creativity?

All humans are capable of loving and being loved; of interacting with other humans and their environment in unique, special, and intrinsically valuable ways. And that is the point of human existence. Not having a profit-margin that outpaces a competitor; or a GDP that outpaces a rival nation. These latter things are artifices imposed upon us by capitalist-driven market forces and divisions. They are not natural, and certainly not necessary.

At present, the human species has developed the wealth, technology, and productive capacity to provide for all; to reduce the labor burden placed on each, and enable the participation of all in the procurement of our social necessities. To allow for the free development of all humans as an end in itself; to allow for the flourishing and integration of all humans in greater and more harmonious intercourse regardless of the unlimited mental and physical differences which obtain between us.

When just the US alone spends nearly $2 billion A DAY maintaining its military machinery; when the 400 richest individual Americans have more combined wealth ($2 trillion) than the bottom half of the entire population combined, and more than the entire GDP of 80% of the nations on this planet; when we can find the means to pay the average CEO of a large U.S. corporation a wage of $7,000 per hour;— when we look at all these things it is clear that — if apportioned equitably — we more than have the resources and the ability to provide for all human beings and enable all human beings to live as free and full members of society.

In such a context, the notion that a disabled child or adult is a “burden” on the rest of the human population is not only barbaric and bigoted, it is anachronistic. It is a notion which continues to corrupt our species for no other reason than that the form of socio-economic organization (yes, capitalism) which comports with — and gives rise to — such prejudices, lingers on as the hegemonic system under which human affairs are organized.

It is high past time that such a system — and all of the unnecessary, barbaric, and backward ideas which it fosters — be consigned to historical bygone, once and for all.


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