Friday, May 05, 2006

Happy Birthday Marx!

Today is the 188th anniversary of Karl Marx's birth. Happy birthday Chuck!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Corporate University

I work at a college, actually two colleges to be precise. As I have pursued a graduate degree and due to other circumstances, I have in fact been affiliated and involved in academia for my entire adult life. My professional background is as an entrepreneur and my post-graduate education and much of my work experience has revolved around management with a focus on the IT sector and specifically software development. Overall the training and experience I have has been largely based on current business and engineering practices and to a large extent I believe these practices to be valuable and beneficial insofar as producing high quality work products (which of course are useful in both a capitalist and socialist mode of production).

The past few years I have seen a transformation at my workplace from a traditional helter-skelter academic environment to an increasingly corporatized management approach. In addition, there has been a focused drive to expand the physical plant of the campus and to build "modern" structures in order to remain "competitive" and expand the student body.

A snippet of a Logos Journal article titled "The Corporate University in American Society" posted by the Unrepentant Marxist offers some insight into what is driving this process at our little college as we are responding to mega-trends that are impacting all of academia:
Higher education in America is being transformed by the contradictions that have historically defined and determined its existence. Seen as an educational institution, its importance lies in empowering individuals—both within the academy and outside—to become critical and knowledgeable citizens capable of self-governance in a democracy. Seen as an economic institution, its value lies in producing trained subservient workers for employers, and in socializing many of the costs necessary to sustain profit accumulation in a capitalist society.

Yet while for much of their existence colleges and universities have managed to hold these twin imperatives in balance, political-economic forces such as globalization, an increasingly conservative political agenda, and a tightening of public financial support for higher education have tipped the balance, resulting in the emergence of the corporate university. As corporatized entities, American colleges and universities are under increasing pressure to emulate other market participants and operate in ways that affect their governance and structure, as well as how they generate revenue. The result is that the new corporate university seeks to jettison many of the traditional manifestations of higher education, such as tenure, academic freedom, and shared governance, and replace them with a business model of management and more adjunct faculty who are viewed as mere employees. The need to do this is simple—less revenue to support colleges and universities is coming from the government, thereby forcing higher education to reduce labor costs and also seek financial support from private sector investors who view the traditional mission of these schools with suspicion.

Union Plus!

I just ran across this cool resource. Union Plus is a program of the AFL-CIO offering great discounts to union members on a variety of products. Their site states:
Our organization designs programs that help union members enjoy life at a great price. By using the collective buying power of unions, we are able to offer a variety of high quality, discounted products and services exclusively to working families.

The AFL-CIO created Union Privilege in 1986 to provide AFL-CIO union members and their families with valuable consumer benefits. With Union Plus benefits, your union membership "pays" at work and at home.
I think this is pretty cool and a great resource to find companies that are union friendly, even if you are not able to take advantage of the discounts.

Check it out:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Si, Se Puede!

A Reuters report gives a surprising sympathetic slant on the May Day actions in the US:
Factories closed, day labour jobs went begging, children skipped school and cargo was left on docks in what the organisers called "A Day without Immigrants."

The largely Latino crowds chanted "Si, se puede!" or "Yes, we can!" and banged drums while waving mostly American flags.

Rallies stretched from the lettuce fields of central California to the streets of Los Angeles and Chicago. [...]

"The volume of the demonstrations, the number of people who have turned out in different US cities, it's a national issue." [...]

Recent polls show only 30 per cent Americans advocate tougher laws for illegals, while the majority, like President George W Bush, wants a guest worker programme combined with better enforcement. [...]

"They're going to degrade my citizenship for helping somebody out, or just riding in a car with them?" said Wences Martinez, 30, born in Chicago of illegal immigrants. "It's like the British before the Revolutionary War."

Immigrants flex economic muscle in US
For those unaware, most of the incentive to protest revolves around US House of Representative's Bill H.R. 4437. It was passed on on December 16, 2005 by a vote of 239 to 182. Wikipedia as usual has a good summary of H.R. 4437, a bit of which is below:
  • Requires up to 700 miles (1120 km) of fence along the US-Mexican border at points with the highest number of immigrant illegal crossings. (House Amendment 648, authored by Duncan Hunter (R-CA52)
  • Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to report to Congress on the number of OTMs (Other Than Mexicans) and conversely the number of Mexicans apprehended and deported. (Section 401)
The bill includes measures that will infringe on the human rights of asylum seekers by stripping important due process protections, it redefines illegal immigrants as felons, and punish anyone guilty of providing them assistance, including humanitarian workers, public schoolteachers, and church workers.

So I say "Si, Se Puede!" - yes we can stop more fascism from spreading in our country and rip up the roots of fascism which are already planted, both in our nation and in our own hearts.

Yes We Can! - take an internationalist perspective and understand that nationalistic chauvinism combined with fear is what drives racist and anti-human laws.

Si, Se Puede! - understand that another world is possible, one in which we can all live and work together with harmony, justice and dignity.

Yes We Can!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Millions turn out for May Day

Worldwide participation in May Day rallies and celebrations totalled in the millions. Reports regarding the immigration rallies in the US seem to be lacking at this point. In any case, Russia lead the way with over 1.5 million people participating in rallies nationwide. Approximately 30,000 marchers in Moscow called for Putin to resign, recalling the Soviet Union and denouncing reforms as impoverishing the people.

In Germany tens of thousands of union members rallied in support of anti-globalization and resistance to neo-liberal policies that are erroding the social welfare net.

A nice article from gives a summary of many world wide May Day events.

In my neck of the woods, I attended a rally in Ithaca, NY. The rally, which took place in the Ithaca Commons, drew 400 people. All were in good spirits and the diverse crowd in attendance included many immigrants and children of immigrants, students from Ithaca College and Cornell College, and several classes from local middle and elementary schools. Members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the International Socialist Organization were in attendance. I was the only representative of Socialist Alternative/CWI as far as I know.

Below are some pictures from the Ithaca rally.

Cornell University May Day Marchers

Ithaca College May Day Marchers

Father and Son

Speaker Tania Penafort of the
Movimiento Estudiantil
Chicano de Aztlan

May 1: Carnival of Socialism

Another great announcement for May Day. Benjamin Solah launched the Carnival of Socialism today. Issue number one is available at his blog. Click here to read issue number 1!

May Day History Lesson

Immigration Day is a continuation of long standing workers' traditions going back nearly 200 years. The racists and xenophobes of the blogosphere are trying to characterize this mass movement as some sort of corruption of "May Day." I find that ironic considering most of these same folks are fundamentalist Christians - are they calling for a "pure" May Day in the spirit of the pagan Beltane celebration? Interestingly the Catholic church in 1955 gave St. Joseph another holy day on May 1 as the day of "St. Joseph, The Worker." This in direct response to the day being a celebration of the radical left, which the conservatives in the Church clearly see as more of a threat than paganism, again, ironically enough.

In fact, Wikipedia has the true story of May Day, an International Workers' Day which was founded in the United States:
International Workers' Day (a name used interchangeably with May Day) is the commemoration of the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, Illinois, and a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labor movement. The 1 May date is used because in 1884 the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, inspired by labor's 1872 success in Canada, demanded an eight-hour workday in the United States to come in effect as of May 1, 1886. This resulted in a general strike and the riot in Chicago of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday. The May Day Riots of 1894 and May Day Riots of 1919 occurred subsequently.


The Red Scare periods [temporarily] ended May Day as a mass holiday in the United States, a phenomenon which can be seen as somewhat ironic given that May Day originated in Chicago. Meanwhile, in countries other than the United States and United Kingdom, resident working classes fought hard to make May Day an official governmentally- sanctioned holiday, efforts which eventually largely succeeded. For this reason, May Day in most of the world today is marked by huge street rallies of workers led by their trade unions and various large socialist and communist parties — a phenomenon not generally seen in the U.S.
Until now!

Appeal: Keep the right wing haters from corrupting the blogosphere with their lies. Copy this post and put it on your blog with the tags, or write your own. Flood the blogosphere with the truth about May Day!