Friday, June 30, 2006

The Definitive Bourgeois

Not being a French speaker I often find it difficult, and admittedly pathetic, to spell bourgeois. Doing a (very) little research, I found the following grammar lesson on a professor's (Paul Brian) web site at Washington State University, which is most helpful. Spell well comrades!
In the original French, a bourgeois was originally merely a free inhabitant of a bourg, or town. Through a natural evolution it became the label for members of the property-owning class, then of the middle class. As an adjective it is used with contempt by bohemians and Marxists to label conservatives whose views are not sufficiently revolutionary. The class made up of bourgeois (which is both the singular and the plural form) is the bourgeoisie. Shaky spellers are prone to leave out the E from the middle because “eoi” is not a natural combination in English; but these words have remarkably enough retained their French pronunciation: boorzhwah and boorzhwazee. The feminine form, “bourgeoise,” is rarely encountered in English.

Paul Brian's site here
I guess Paul is not a Red since he used the loaded terms "label" and "not sufficiently revolutionary." Bourgeois slime! Just kidding - or am I...

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Yesterday's drop of "The Nation" had an editoral on "American Patriots" given well deserved credit to America's librarians who have stood up to the fascist policies of the US Patriot Act.

The editoral states that the 64,000 member "American Library Association (ALA) has been at the forefront of the fight to defend freedom of inquiry and thought from provisions of the act that allow the Justice Department to subpoena the records of libraries and bookstores."

It is certainly encouraging to see a large segment of American society taking such a risky stand. Certainly few would have expected such defiance to come from the library community, but looking at the history of librarians shows a rich history of political working-class struggle.

For instance, in 1953 the ALA adopted the "Freedom to Read Statement" which opens "The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools [...]" It can be found in full here.

The ALA also has a press release listing some "real-life" librarian heroes which can be found here.

An unfortunate reality is that Marxist writings have too often been the targets of censorship, with many localities criminalizing the possesion or disemination of Marxist literature. In most places such laws have been repealed. In nearly all cases librarians have stood up to resist censorship.

Some may call this patriotism but in my estimation such heroics transcend mere nationalism. Preservation of knowledge in the face of persecution by one's own government is something else: it is internationalism.

Mexico: Striking Teachers Victorious Versus Anti-Labor Crackdown

I've been totally out of it for a while when it comes to news about mass movements, so this is a little late, but this is an amazing example of recent mass action:

OAXACA, MEXICO, June 17 — The strike of 70,000 teachers in Oaxaca State, which began May 22, erupted into an all-out battle with the fascist police at 4:00 AM on June 14 when the state’s governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz ordered 1,500 Federal cops, waiting on the city’s outskirts, to attack a massive encampment in the city’s center. The workers fought back with stones, clubs and whatever they could lay their hands on in confronting the helmeted cops armed with clubs and using shields, aided by a helicopter spraying tear gas at the encamped strikers and their supporters. Despite all that force, the cops were defeated, sent running like whipped dogs.

However, this criminal government action killed two women teachers and two children. One pregnant teacher lost her baby, another teacher lost an eye, many were wounded and other arrested. Although the encampment was destroyed, many police were beaten and several taken hostage. Then the workers, armed with clubs and using school buses as battering rams against the cops, retook the plaza and reconstructed their encampment. Two days later a "mega-march" brought out 300,000 teachers and their supporters, demanding the Governor’s resignation.

The strikers have also blockaded the city’s airport, destroyed political campaign posters, and delivered the "remains" of the city’s new parking meters to the doorstep of the state capitol building.

Complete story at Challenge, organ of the Revolutionary Communist Peoples Labor Party.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

ISO Socialism 2006 Report

This is a summarization of some of my thoughts regarding the Socialism 2006 Conference, combined with ideas from conversations and e-mails.

In general, members agree that this conference, the largest the ISO has ever had with over 1,500 in attendance, was a breakthrough. The Bush agenda since his election has hurt the working class and this has led to consciousness and radicalization. The success of the growing ISO and the large conference this year bear out these facts. More and more Americans are looking for a socialist alternative.

At the conference there were people of all ethnicities, both genders, and diverse sexual orientations, shattering the myth that socialists are all white. The majority were young, in their twenties, but there were many older folks as well and there were folks from 18-80 present and participating.

The conference was well organized with all speakers and chairs being well prepared, polite and energetic. Free childcare was provided for 4 days, and ISO branch leaders organized transportation and housing for little or no cost to members. Other members made their own connections and arrangements lending a helping hand where needed.

The overall theme revolved around linking disparate struggles on the left with each other, and providing a theoretical foundation to understand the interrelations and possible solutions. It also positioned the ISO as an activist nexus to facilitate this process and to carry the banner of socialism forward as a vanguard of the working class. A sense of a new day dawning for the ISO and the radical left was quite evident.

I was pleased to see that the ISO leadership is on guard against non-productive polemics and is very conscious of fostering a truly democratic praxis, which the left sorely needs. This will grow with time as the ISO continues to grow and accept more a diverse membership. New challenges will be presented, but also a stronger organization will be forged, one with many new and dynamic leaders and less attrition.

My experience at this, my first ISO Socialism conference, was extremely positive. All ISO members were polite, friendly, communicative and welcoming. I am very happy to be a part of this progressive organization and encourage others to join and help build a truly effective socialist alternative!

[Editorial Note: Previously contained here was a copy of an e-mail which I did not previously ask permission to put on the blog. I apologize to the comrade who wrote the original e-mail for any offense as none was intended.]

Monday, June 26, 2006

Socialism 2006 Update

I'm planning on posting a report on the ISO's Socialism 2006 conference in NYC tomorrow. It was a great experience, especially the mass rallies. Over 1,500 people attended and it was a very positive and encouraging event. Comrades in attendance accurately represented the ethnic and gender diversity of America, which was in poignant contrast to some comments I heard on the street suggesting that "Socialists are white and privileged."

I learned a lot more about the tactics of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) as well, especially with regards to building a movement through recruitment, struggle and information dissemination. I finally got my ISO handbook as well!

I also met many new friends and comrades from all over the country and especially in Ithaca and Rochester.

For me, the highlight of the whole conference was singing the Internationale on the last day in an auditorium with over 1,000 people (caveat: the lyrics chosen by the ISO were quite a bit different than what I've seen and heard before).

I have many pictures but am waiting for them to be delivered since I borrowed a camera and I also spoke with a comrade who will be providing audio.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Socialism Conference 2006

So I'm down in New York City at the ISO conference, Socialism 2006. I'll report back on the events etc. here on the blog and let folks know what's going down! This is supposed to be a pretty huge event this year.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Anti-Unionism is the Date Rape of Corporate Crime

This was posted some time ago at the TPM House of Labor blog, but I just reread it and thought it clever and on target, so am reposting it:
Even most liberals deny anti-union crime is widespread or deny that it's even a serious crime at all and anyways the folks doing it are such swell people, we can't expect us to like treat them like criminals, do you? If unions have been decimated in American workplaces, it's must really be their fault-- they must have been asking for it. You know, when you wear such pretty medical care and pension funds, employers are just being normal, red-blooded capitalists when they wipe out unions to get at them.

Anti-Unionism is the Date Rape of Corporate Crime
7-Dec-2005, Nathan Newman

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The War to End All Wars

Woodrow Wilson
You are my base, bitches!
In the United States, Woodrow Wilson has been portrayed by the capitalist media as, and thus largely understood as, a moderate peace-loving statesmen who reluctantly went to war. Of course this is in the extremely rare instances when any historical analysis is done at all to contextualize present events.

Wilson indeed had high Christian values and morals and was thought of as a leader of the progressive movement. Unfortunately, Wilson was also highly aligned with the capitalist bourgeoisie and could not conceive of a democracy which included all peoples voices. All over the developed world at the time, popular movements were seriously challenging the rule of the capitalists.

On the democratic left socialist and communist movements were gaining massive momentum. In the United States, Eugene Debs polled nearly 1 million votes as the Socialist Party candidate for president in 1912 and 1920. On the right, there were conservative populist movements which foreshadowed the fascists who came later.

It was in this climate that the wheels of power turned to create a pretext for the "War to End All Wars." We can see the exact same mechanisms at work today as we look back on how the Iraq War was engineered, and how war with Iran is being setup.

I ran across a great article in Workers World which goes into much more detail on this subject especially with regards to sexual and gender emancipation and I encourage all to read it:

The outbreak of World War I derailed the thrust of the movements for sexual and gender emancipation and for women's rights in Germany--and created a profound political split in the international working-class struggle.

It was no accident that the war began precisely at a time of a worldwide upsurge of the working class in Europe and in the United States, as well as stirrings in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The workers' movements were gaining strength and momentum. They were increasingly taking a stand against imperialist war.

There were no socialist countries or liberation movements to blame for World War I. It was a plain, unvarnished racist war for colonial empire. The principal capitalist countries, each hungry to gobble up a bigger share of the markets and profits, tried to redivide the colonial world.

In each of the capitalist countries the bosses appealed to the workers to unite behind them in battle. The German ruling class was able to rally its working class for the war on a patriotic basis. Even the majority in the socialist movement of that day, and the Homosexual Emancipation Movement, got swept up into the chauvinist appeal.

Going along with this right-wing, murderous patriotism put the brake on every social movement--gay, trans and lesbian, women's rights, workers' and socialist struggles--because it gave the ruling class the upper hand, strengthened the right wing and set back the progressive movement.

The War to End All Wars,
Workers World, June 24, 2004