Politics in the Streets

 

 

         

In 1906 the Polish revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg published The Mass Strike, Party and Trade Unions.

         The work emerged from a pamphlet Luxemburg had been commissioned to write by the Hamburg chapter of the German Social Democratic Party, or SPD.  The pamphlet was meant to address a general question, or crisis, on the German socialist left: was capitalism reformable, capable of being transformed through gradual revision, including legislative, or must it be replaced outright in order for workers to achieve what Marx had called “self-emancipation,” For one faction of the SPD the answer was yes.  For another, no.

         Luxemburg initially thought to resolve the question by examining the role of strikes in socialist movements.  Fortuitously, in 1905, her work was interrupted by the first attempt at revolution in Russia.  After a government massacre of workers in St. Petersburg, a mass general strike erupted, welding political and economic demands, and quickly spread across other parts of the country.   By October, a general strike forced the Tsar to promise political reform.

         From the Russian example, Luxemburg concluded that the mass strike held a key to achieving Marx’s vision of a new workers’ society.  As she characterized it in The Mass Strike:

 

It [the mass strike] is the living pulse-beat of the revolution and at the same time its most powerful driving wheel. In a word, the mass strike, as shown to us in the Russian Revolution, is not a crafty method discovered by subtle reasoning for the purpose of making the proletarian struggle more effective, but the method of motion of the proletarian mass, the phenomenal form of the proletarian struggle in the revolution.

 

         Luxemburg’s document counterposed bureacratic gradualism and reformism with an essential confidence drawn from Marx that revolutions are the ‘locomotive’ of history---its ‘method of motion’---and ordinary people its engineers.  As she put it elsewhere in The Mass Strike, "the proletariat requires a high degree of political education, of class-consciousness and organisation. All these conditions cannot be fulfilled by pamphlets and leaflets, but only by the living political school, by the fight and in the fight, in the continuous course of the revolution."

         Last Spring, although not (yet!) a mass strike in the manner of 1905,  the strike form as “living political school” was revived in the U.S. by school teachers.  In West Virginia, 34,000 K-12 educators broke from their Union leadership, defied statewide right-to-work laws making strikes illegal, and shut down every school across the state by taking their grievances and demands to the streets.  Their actions were soon replicated by teachers in Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky and North Carolina.  In each instance, teachers self-organized, often in defiance of bureaucratic union leaders and state officials, walk-outs, walk-ins, occupations of government buildings, shutdowns of schools, picket lines and marches that stretched as far as the eye can see.

         The strikes were a reminder, to use Luxemburg’s formulation, that political advances of the oppressed are best developed “by the fight and in the fight.”  This lesson bears deep consideration in a historical moment fraught with contradictions not unlike those that inspired Luxemburg’s pamphlet.   Neoliberalism in general, and the 2007-2008 global economic crisis specifically, have reanimated powerful reformist ideas, and political organizations generally committed to them. From Syriza in Greece, to Podemos in Spain, to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor Party in the U.K., to the rise of the Democratic Socialists of America in the U.S., the promise of reformist social democracy as a better version of the world we have has taken deep root. We are living in an era where political organizations have emerged or reorganized, as Tithi Bhattacharya has noted, to “Make Reformism Great Again.”

         Undoubtedly this is exciting news for revolutionaries as there are many things to be grateful for in this moment: Socialism in the United States as an idea has been recovered from the Cold War dustbin.  Americans under 30 especially weight capitalism and socialism nearly equally as systems under which they’d like to live.  The Democratic Socialists of America, now 45,000 strong---the largest Socialist organization in the United States in the 1930s---have impressed themselves on the system in multitudinous ways: fighting for living wages, rent controls, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions against Israel, medicare for all.  The DSA’s electoral breakthroughs since the Sanders campaign have served as earthquakes on a predatory political American landscape.

         This reformist current co-exists with and is co-constituted by independent movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter, which in different ways have brought sharp challenges to party-based politics and reformist models.  Occupy’s language of the “1 percent” versus the rest posed a model of redistribution through independent popular revolt.  Black Lives Matter, and the Movement for Black Lives Platform that followed it, argued for mass-based political action from below.  By remaining largely independent of the major political parties, and attempting to use the street as a vehicle and theater of protest, BLM sought to make self-education and self-emancipation central tenets of redistributive political life.

         Currently, the Palestinian liberation movement faces a serious challenge regarding the limits of reformist politics.  The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement in the U.S. has since 2005 been the independent mass-face of Palestinian liberation both in this country and globally.  While the movement has had endorsements from political parties and organizations (like the African National Congress) it has rarely attempted to enter parliamentary politics as a tool of systemic reform.

         The recent victories in U.S. elections of Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have threatened to change that dynamic.  Both won primaries with somewhat vague promises of commitment to Palestinian liberation, while espousing political views on Palestine that align with the Democratic Party that is their electoral home.   They have raised hopes among some activists that the election of enough Palestinian-friendly representatives might finally curtail U.S. support for the Israeli Occupation and setter-colonial state.

         While optimism is important, too much of it would be a mistake.  History has shown the Democratic Party to be a ‘graveyard of social movements’ time and again.  The fact that AOC claims allegiance to the Democratic Socialists of America also demonstrates an unresolved variant of the “revisionist-revolutionist” divide within that large organization, what Kim Moody has called the “two souls” of democratic socialism: http://newpol.org/content/two-souls-democratic-socialism

         That is why the Palestinian liberation movement needs to remain two-sided: only mass pressure from below---street protests like we saw in 2014 after Israel’s mass bombings of Gaza---https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/22/world/europe/israels-gaza-incursion-sets-off-protests-in-europe.html---can generate real challenge to the ossified, bureaucratic stranglehold of Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid state represented equally by the bereft Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the rabidly pro-Zionist Trump administration.  Only large-scale protests and independent organizing, as for the BDS movement, can pressure elected officials to do the right things: refusing to vote for U.S. military aid to Israel most important among them.

         Indeed, the Palestinian movement might look to the teacher strike wave, Occupy and Black Lives Matter to retain its spirited, wildcat independence from the two parties that have repeatedly voted to finance and support the immiseration of Palestinian people. The BDS movement should borrow a leaflet from The Mass Strike and make demands for Palestinian equality a platform in every labor movement, in every strike, in every workplace stoppage.

         The Palestine movement might also look to the streets in the example of the U.S. antifascist movement. 

Last Sunday, more than 4,000 people swamped the boulevards of Washington D.C. in response to a “Unite the Right” rally held in the shadow of the White House at Lafayette Park. 

         The counterdemonstration was organized by groups with a history of participation in independent mass struggles.  They included Black Lives Matter DC, ANSWER Coalition, an anti-war, anti-racist group, and the International Socialist Organization.  The on-the-ground coalition they assembled had the characteristics of a mass strike: a multiracial, largely working-class, immigrant, queer, trans and straight contingent.

         The protest was characterized as much by its diversity as by its discipline: organizers insisted that outnumbering the fascists was the first priority (they did, by nearly 200 to 1) and hewing to a single, united political goal of non-violent resistance to fascism.   The march in turn generated what Luxemburg called “mental sediment.” Protestors walked the streets of Washington chanting slogans—“Black, Latino, Arab, Asian and White, Unite, Unite, Unite to Fight the Right”--that acquired meaning precisely through the motion of an action that included every one of those groups.   The march burned away, at least momentarily, cynicism that often accrues in everyday life under capitalism, or among reformists who think a low ceiling is high enough, or in radical political sects who feel like the revolution can only pass through their door.

Indeed, in Washington, where I was one of the many thousands, people were so confident of their victory that they attempted to take ownership of the streets of D.C.  Protestors trolled Baby Trump and the right-wing media, drowning out on-air reporters with chants of "Black Lives Matter."  As we marched, people jumped on top of buildings to get a better look or fell in with us from the sidewalks. When we got to Lafayette Park and saw how total our victory was (the fascist 'rally' looked like a tiny funeral across the pitch between us) the park became its own festival.  Some people climbed trees.  A gray-haired pair with tubas marched up and down.  We taunted the fascists in song--"Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye."   I saw one man with a parrot on his shoulder, people shouting "Ganamos" (We Won) in Spanish, and my favorite sign directed at the Nazis: "Your grandchildren will be mixed race."  Then the rain came, the Fascists scurried off (their entire rally fit into two vans!) and we took over the streets again, singing "The Internationale" on an open boulevard.  

         These were not random acts of joy; they were collective expressions of victory generated by the recognition that we are many, they are few---one of the day’s chants--and that history is ours to make.  More, they were articulations of massness realizing and achieving itself, an imaginary casting off of what Marx called the “muck of ages,” and a sedimented incarnation of the idea that another world is possible.

         We do well to remember that one place still to win that world is in the streets.

        

Thanks to Tithi Bhattacharya for edits.

           

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

                     

 

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Striking For Their Lives

I met today with five members of Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) Local 6300 IFT/AFT University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana http://www.uigeo.org

On February 26th, the local and its 2,700 graduate employees, went on strike.  The union had worked for 196 days since its last contracted expired on August 15th. Central to their decision to strike was the University administration’s attempt to strip from student employees protection for tuition waivers.  Tuition waivers are literally a lifeblood of graduate student survival: they make their often near-poverty level stipends just enough to live on.  Taking away tuition waivers would make graduate school unaffordable for almost all students, and destroy a key protection defended by the union.  

The night before our meeting, a tentative agreement had been reached between the GEO negotiating team and the University.  As we met and talked, the membership was busy voting on the agreement, with a deadline of 9 p.m. that night.

Here are my observations about what had make the strike, up to the vote, a success, and likely victorious:

---From Day 1 GEO 6300 committed to several forms of union education: phone banks to contact members to pledge them to picket, and face-to-face meetings, mostly in offices on campus.  Member after member spoke of hard but productive discussions with members who were first hesitant to strike, afraid that missing teaching assignments---and not attending classes---could be injurious to their careers, and later seeing them out on the picket line.

---The Union earned the trust and support of faculty.  The UIUC Campus Faculty Association backed the strike with public statements and attendance at rallies.  A key moment of solidarity in the strike came when the UIUC administration sent a mass email to everyone on campus saying the strike threatened to “undermine faculty governance” at UIUC.  This laughable claim was received as such by faculty, who recalled the administration completely overriding faculty governance five years ago when it summarily fired tenured Palestinian-American faculty member Steven Salaita.

--During the strike, the Union held daily rallies at noon and 5 on campus, every day, and invited name speakers to speak.  The rally routine complemented disciplined daily picketing.

---The Union provided child care to strikers during the strike. It raised the question of child care for graduate student employees in the negotiation.

---The Union steadily tweeted out messages to its members under the hashtag #EducationForAll.  Some examples:

#EducationForAll means no more paying poverty wages for work that costs undergraduates hundreds of thousands of dollars @Illinois_Alma! http://ow.ly/xVai30iIInc

#EducationForAll means no more mystery fees that put buildings before students! @Illinois_Alma! http://ow.ly/xVai30iIInc

---The Union was relentlessly on guard about scabbing. Some professors advised undergraduate students to “out” any TAs who did not show up for their work assignment.  These examples were used by the Union to illustrate the criticality of staying united, not breaking the ranks, of solidarity. 

---The Union used multiple creative tactics: memes, videos, songs.  A Bangladeshi student read poetry at a rally, commemorating a regular practice used in labor and social movement struggles back home.  There were two separate occupations of campus buildings; the second was an Occupation of the President’s office.  That Occupation immediately precipitated the achievement of a tentative agreement.

To a person, members of the Union I spoke with felt they had at minimum staved off an effort by the University administration to destroy the Union.  They felt generally optimistic---though without unanimity of opinion---that the tentative agreement contained advances for the membership.

My biggest takeaway from meeting members of GEO 6300 was that, like the West Virginia teachers, whose strike coincided with their own, members knew that the power of a strong Union came not just in achieving better work conditions but in building political power.

As I finish writing this brief report, voting on the contract continues.  Results are likely to be announced tomorrow. Whatever the outcome, GEO rank and file have won something enormous: dignity, confidence and solidarity forged in struggle.

Schools on Strike

Oklahoma teachers announced tonight that they will strike. They become the fifth body of school employees to walk out in the past two weeks, adding to fresh picket lines in  West Virginia, Toronto, Illinois and the U.K. 

The issues uniting these education workers across borders are broadly similar: wages, healthcare, pensions, class size, and funding.  In the past decade especially, education unions have moved closer, more self-consciously into the political vortex of neoliberal policies---both bearing the brunt of them and challenging them. Graduate student organizing has been one of the bright spots of union organizing in the U.S., and one of the contributing factors to a small stabilization of union membership in the United States.

National walkouts are also now planned for the end of March and April called by students fighting for safe schools. Walkouts, to be clear, even if passively supported by administrators, are strikes. Those already on the picket line are on strike against state legislatures or public universities. Public sector education strikes are by their very nature political strikes.

These present struggles were foreshadowed by the Chicago teachers strike of 2012, and the less known April 1, 2016, when the union struck primarily over issues that were outside the legally sanctioned parameters of collective bargaining. To recall the 2012 strike: the Union challenged the privatization of public education through chartering, the reallocation of tax base to support privatization, and schools closings in predominantly poor, Latino and African-American neighborhoods---a process the Union described as “educational apartheid” along lines of both race and class.  The CTU strike was "social justice" unionism against the 1 percent.

This current spate of protest is also a ripple effect---or second wave---of dissident response to austerity education globally.  In 2010, for example, widespread U.K student street protests against implementation of new tuition and fees resulted in numerous arrests and draconian punishment for protesters.  Last year, a sequel to those protests took place in London: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/nov/15/london-student-march-calls-for-rich-to-be-taxed-to-fund-free-education  In South Africa, meanwhile, students successfully shut down several campuses in protest of nearly exactly the same imposition of new University fees: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/07/south-africa-tuition-fee-protests-student-leaders-universities The consistent widening out by protesters to oppose the University as symbol of global class inequality was put this way by The Guardian in describing the South African protests:

Universities have become the focus of anger about broader inequalities that endure in South Africa more than two decades after the end of apartheid. South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world, with new research showing 10% of the population owning at least 90–95% of all assets.

It is also important to recall that one reason schools have become flash points for class struggle is because they were singled out. The decimation of private sector unions in the first wave of neoliberalism left public sector unions as disproportionately unionized: for the ruling class, they became the last nail in the plank of the destruction of workers’ rights (indeed Right to Work laws in states like Wisconsin and Indiana began with efforts to remove collective bargaining from teachers).   

Now that we know this, what role should the reborn socialist movement in the United States learn from recent events?  In Jacobin, Kevin Prosen concluded:

"West Virginia bears lessons for America’s burgeoning young left as well. Long isolated from the working class, socialists now have the greatest opportunity in a generation to close this historic rift. With the stabilizing institutions of the union movement being dismantled, we are likely headed for a period of renewed volatility in the labor movement; in fact, one has arguably already begun. A socialist movement previously confined to student milieus or eccentric corners of the internet can no longer be satisfied with passively studying labor history or showing up to support strikes organized by others. There is a world of difference between being merely interested in the labor movement and being implanted in it."

Even the New York Times editorial board has recognized that the political situation has changed: “we can hope, these [West Virginia] teachers can provide workers throughout the country with a powerful lesson.”

We argue that these teacher strikes should widen our horizons and raise our expectations. Instead of trying to squeeze the strike through the pin holes of existing perspectives and expectations, the strike should challenge them. 

More specifically, the Left must freshly recognize the public school as a key nodal point in labor organizing, ‘bread and butter’ economics, union agitation, growth and organizing, and incipient class struggle.  Students and teachers typically drawn to Socialist politics in recent years around struggles over racism and racial violence (Black Lives Matter, police shootings); LGBTQ political struggles, gender, social reproduction and reproductive justice (nearly 75 percent of striking West Virginia teachers are women), and most recently, antifascism (the Campus Antifascist Network) are now also centering workplace justice, economic inequality and the battle to sustain and reproduce life itself.

As social reproduction theorists like Tithi Bhattacharya and others have argued, the challenge and task of the Left now is to demonstrate the intersection and interdependence of these struggles: to see the site of public education as equally central to our challenge to capitalism as the traditional shop floor.    “All out to the school strike” should become a leading salvo into this widening scene of contestation.

 

Woke in West Virginia

 

 

         We know that we come from these mountains and we are strong and we have pride and we love this state. We come from an area that is known for standing up for what they believe in. The union wars they originated in the south in Mingo County.

     We believe we’re following in their footsteps. We believe the movement was started years ago through the mine wars. We’re just reviving the movement that was started years ago.

                           Striking West Virginia Teacher Katie Endicott in The New York Times March 1, 2018

 

The West Virginia Teachers' strikes takes place at a historic moment in national politics.

The illegal statewide strike of 20,000 teachers that has shut down every school in the state continues into its second week following the rejection of a deal offered by the state government and the teachers union leadership.

And while a funereal message emanates from the sclerotic leadership of  public sector unions due to the impeding ruling of the Supreme Court in the Janus case, real funerals also took place following the latest mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

Enraged students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have sparked a new movement for safe schools across the country, while enraged West Virginia teachers are fighting for better funding and a decent living. Adding to this political vortex is the inane talk of arming teachers, wholly rejected by the teachers themselves.

There is a widespread feeling in the country that things have reached a point where change must happen and happen now.

The West Virginia teachers have demonstrated to us that the post Janus-era can be the beginning of another labor movement. Rank and file democracy has carried the day in a state that just a few months ago was written off as Trump country and provides a concrete example of the way forward for teacher and public sector unions. 

 

                                         ---------------------------

 

The West Virginia Strike bears the fingerprints of resistance to virtually every malevolent feature of neoliberal capitalism. 

 

·      West Virginia school teachers rank 48th out of 50 in the United States in pay.  A series of business tax cuts has prevented teachers from having an across-the-board pay hike since 2014.  The state’s population is declining,  reducing the labor supply for instructors.  Substitute teachers are in high demand but short supply.  The strike is a strike against a quarter century of support reduction, including wage stagnation.  The 2012 Chicago Teachers Union strike, which targeted school closings forced by privatization and charter schools, a massive reduction in the tax base for public education, and ‘educational apartheid’ targeting poor non-white communities, was a harbinger of the West Virginia strike. 

·      West Virginia teachers are on strike for health benefits (called P.E.I.A. in West Virginia) eroded by increasing health care costs and wage reduction.  Teachers in West Virginia literally cannot afford to get sick.  Their strike indexes attacks on social provisioning that has been accompanied by the privatization of public services and an increasing ‘health gap’ between rich and poor.

·      The majority of striking teachers---as with most public education workforces, are women. Faced with cuts to social reproduction services (child care, health care) and reduced wages, striking West Virginia teachers indicate the double burden and double vulnerability of women to a deracinated public sphere under neoliberalism. 

·      The strike is a wildcat strike: both illegal, and in contradistinction to the leadership of the teacher unions.  Rank and file union members rejected Governor Justice’s offer of a 5 percent wage increase (which would have been the largest single-year increase ever for WV teachers) and decided to stay out on strike rather than return to classes.  Wildcat strikes are incredibly rare in the contemporary U.S., last seen in the 1960s, including in the coal mining industry, as a symptom of the relative declining weight of Union workers’ run-up to full-scale neoliberalism: http://www.labornotes.org/blogs/2014/11/review-how-wildcat-strikes-made-public-worker-unions-grow-and-thrive The Wildcat tactic indicates a rejection of general complacency within teachers’ unions and its bureaucratic leadership offered by the likes of Randi Weingarten and the American Federation of Teachers.

·      The strike is taking place in the American South, a region of the United States with historically lower wages because of its history of slavery, anti-unionism, and in the neoliberal era, intensified anti-workerism, and in a “right-to-work” state.  “Right-to-Work” legislation in Indiana, Wisconsin and other states has been a huge thorn to organized labor in the neoliberal area.  Indeed, West Virginia coal miners were among the first U.S. workers to rise up in the new neoliberal era. In late 1977 and early 1978, 160,000 coal miners from West Virginia to southern Illinois, waged a 111-day rank-and-file strike in opposition to the national leadership of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)—against the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA).  Labor historian James Green wrote at the time, “The 1977–1978 coal miners’ strike must be viewed in the context of an overall offensive by the capitalist class” https://isreview.org/issue/74/miners-strike-1977-78

·      Finally, the strike represents a wave of worker discontent with Trump and Trump Era.  As middle school teacher Jay O’Neal put it in an interview with Jacobin:

 

“This is a fight of working people versus the large corporations. These big companies have controlled and exploited our state for over a century. Historically, it was the coal corporations. But now it’s more the natural gas companies that are calling the shots. We need national exposure on these conflicts.

“People like to dismiss West Virginia as Trumpland. But that’s a simplification. A lot of people here didn’t vote for Trump. And you also have a lot of people who voted for him, but who are involved in the strike. Everyone is now saying, “I know when I’m being screwed over. Enough is enough.” Folks are waking up.”

 

 https://jacobinmag.com/2018/03/west-virginia-teachers-strike-activist-interview

 

 

        

Fighting Fascism After Florida

Before murdering 17 Florida high school students and faculty, Nikolas Cruz posted Instagram pictures of himself in a “MAGA” hat.  On social media, he yearned to join the U.S. military and kill Muslims.  He stalked women, and carried guns to school, well before he was expelled from the site of his American carnage. 

            Within 24 hours after Cruz’s rampage, news media reported claims by a white supremacist militia that he had worked out with the group: http://time.com/5160819/parkland-shooter-nikolas-cruz-was-a-member-of-white-supremacist-group/  Then both the leader of the group, the “Republic of Florida,” a “white civil rights organization” seeking to build an “ethno-national” white state, fudged initial assertions that Cruz was a member.  Quickly, Florida police also said they found “no ties” between Cruz and the group: https://www.salon.com/2018/02/15/white-supremacy-group-florida-school-shooter-was-a-member/

            The fluidity of claims and associations bespeaks, literally, the permeable spectrum of fascist, neo-fascist, white supremacist and white nationalist thought permeating U.S. ‘blood and soil’ in the current conjuncture.   Cruz’s participation in white nationalist group may or may not be documentable (groups like these don’t keep tight records) but Cruz’s racist, militarist, misogynist life and the politics of American fascism today are co-constitutive.

            “Hail Trump” cried Richard Spencer last November at the Washington D.C. “Nazi-In” where hundreds of white supremacists from groups like Identity Europa gathered to celebrate Trump’s election as a mandate for their toxic fascist program: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379/  Last April, white supremacists roamed the streets at “Patriot’s Day” rally in Berkeley looking to beat anti-fascist protestors.  They did: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOUSMwr96mQ

            Fascist violence begets not only itself but permutations on the form.  White supremacist killings more that doubled in number in 2017: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-supremacist-murders-2017-report_us_5a5f59b0e4b0ee2ff32c4bea     Each fascist killing now looks both forward and backwards: to the next murder motivated by its precursors, and as explanations of fascism’s long, slow rise into our current moment.  We now know that the Santa Barbara mass killer---long-known to be a misogynist and racist---was also connected to the alt.right universe: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-isle-vista-massacre-alt-right-20180206-story.html

            These examples demonstrate that rather than fine-tooth combing our assessment of who has fascist credentials, we simply need to fight back.

            Last summer, the Campus Antifascist Network was formed in the wake of Trump, and “Patriot Day,” and the explosion of white supremacist and white nationalist fliering on U.S. University campuses---more than 200 episodes since November, 2016.

            CAN has one objective and goal: to smash fascism. 

            The Network has more than two thousand participants and 13 chapters across the U.S., Canada and now the U.K. https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/antifascist-organizing-explodes-college-campuses/

            CAN has organized against the appearance of Richard Spencer at University of Florida, Milo Yiannopoulos at California State University Fullerton, and Lucian Wintrich at University of Connecticutt http://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/essays/campus-antifascist-network-winning-fight-fascism-universities/

            CAN has taken the position that Fascism is not free speech and should not be protected—it should be opposed and shut down: http://campusantifascistnetwork.com/2018/02/07/can-statement-on-free-speech-and-college-campuses/

            Organizationally, CAN is a united front that has endorsed anti-racist protests by National Football League players, and the upcoming International Women’s Strike http://campusantifascistnetwork.com/2018/02/07/can-statement-of-solidarity-with-the-international-womens-strike/

            Most importantly, CAN has revived the long tradition of popular anti-fascism that is part of a history of dissidence Donald Trump and the alt.right seek to demonize, criminalize, and erase.  As CAN members put it in a recent LA Review of Books essay:

In its philosophy and tactics, then, CAN honors a proud, popular tradition of antifascism that many Americans have forgotten, and which the alt-right seeks to erase. Its history in the United States has included coalition building, education, and community work, from the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League of the 1930s, which featured prominent writers Dorothy Parker and F. Scott Fitzgerald; to the Jewish Labor Committee of the 1940s which sponsored refugees into the United States fleeing the Holocaust; to the coalitions that rose to confront Joe McCarthy in the 1950s and then George Wallace in 1960s; to the LGBT-led campaigns against the Christian Right in the 1980s and beyond. Indeed, in American history such luminaries as Albert Einstein and Langston Hughes have been antifascists, as was the great Billie Holliday. For these people, fighting fascism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism were not just virtues of being progressive: they were a mandatory form of political empathy and common sense.

 Now more than ever is the time to act.  Share this blog post and join the Campus

Antifascist Network. Build a branch at your college or University, right and fight the fascist scourge. 

No more Floridas!  No more Fascism!

 

            Write to us at cannetwork.fighttheh8@gmail.com.

 

Fighting Fascism After Florida

Before murdering 17 Florida high school students and faculty, Nikolas Cruz posted Instagram pictures of himself in a “MAGA” hat.  On social media, he yearned to join the U.S. military and kill Muslims.  He stalked women, and carried guns to school, well before he was expelled from the site of his American carnage. 

            Within 24 hours after Cruz’s rampage, news media reported claims by a white supremacist militia that he had worked out with the group: http://time.com/5160819/parkland-shooter-nikolas-cruz-was-a-member-of-white-supremacist-group/  Then both the leader of the group, the “Republic of Florida,” a “white civil rights organization” seeking to build an “ethno-national” white state, fudged initial assertions that Cruz was a member.  Quickly, Florida police also said they found “no ties” between Cruz and the group: https://www.salon.com/2018/02/15/white-supremacy-group-florida-school-shooter-was-a-member/

            The fluidity of claims and associations bespeaks, literally, the permeable spectrum of fascist, neo-fascist, white supremacist and white nationalist thought permeating U.S. ‘blood and soil’ in the current conjuncture.   Cruz’s participation in white nationalist group may or may not be documentable (groups like these don’t keep tight records) but Cruz’s racist, militarist, misogynist life and the politics of American fascism today are co-constitutive.

            “Hail Trump” cried Richard Spencer last November at the Washington D.C. “Nazi-In” where hundreds of white supremacists from groups like Identity Europa gathered to celebrate Trump’s election as a mandate for their toxic fascist program: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379/  Last April, white supremacists roamed the streets at “Patriot’s Day” rally in Berkeley looking to beat anti-fascist protestors.  They did: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOUSMwr96mQ

            Fascist violence begets not only itself but permutations on the form.  White supremacist killings more that doubled in number in 2017: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-supremacist-murders-2017-report_us_5a5f59b0e4b0ee2ff32c4bea     Each fascist killing now looks both forward and backwards: to the next murder motivated by its precursors, and as explanations of fascism’s long, slow rise into our current moment.  We now know that the Santa Barbara mass killer---long-known to be a misogynist and racist---was also connected to the alt.right universe: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-isle-vista-massacre-alt-right-20180206-story.html

            These examples demonstrate that rather than fine-tooth combing our assessment of who has fascist credentials, we simply need to fight back.

            Last summer, the Campus Antifascist Network was formed in the wake of Trump, and “Patriot Day,” and the explosion of white supremacist and white nationalist fliering on U.S. University campuses---more than 200 episodes since November, 2016.

            CAN has one objective and goal: to smash fascism. 

            The Network has more than two thousand participants and 13 chapters across the U.S., Canada and now the U.K. https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/antifascist-organizing-explodes-college-campuses/

            CAN has organized against the appearance of Richard Spencer at University of Florida, Milo Yiannopoulos at California State University Fullerton, and Lucian Wintrich at University of Connecticutt http://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/essays/campus-antifascist-network-winning-fight-fascism-universities/

            CAN has taken the position that Fascism is not free speech and should not be protected—it should be opposed and shut down: http://campusantifascistnetwork.com/2018/02/07/can-statement-on-free-speech-and-college-campuses/

            Organizationally, CAN is a united front that has endorsed anti-racist protests by National Football League players, and the upcoming International Women’s Strike http://campusantifascistnetwork.com/2018/02/07/can-statement-of-solidarity-with-the-international-womens-strike/

            Most importantly, CAN has revived the long tradition of popular anti-fascism that is part of a history of dissidence Donald Trump and the alt.right seek to demonize, criminalize, and erase.  As CAN members put it in a recent LA Review of Books essay:

In its philosophy and tactics, then, CAN honors a proud, popular tradition of antifascism that many Americans have forgotten, and which the alt-right seeks to erase. Its history in the United States has included coalition building, education, and community work, from the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League of the 1930s, which featured prominent writers Dorothy Parker and F. Scott Fitzgerald; to the Jewish Labor Committee of the 1940s which sponsored refugees into the United States fleeing the Holocaust; to the coalitions that rose to confront Joe McCarthy in the 1950s and then George Wallace in 1960s; to the LGBT-led campaigns against the Christian Right in the 1980s and beyond. Indeed, in American history such luminaries as Albert Einstein and Langston Hughes have been antifascists, as was the great Billie Holliday. For these people, fighting fascism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism were not just virtues of being progressive: they were a mandatory form of political empathy and common sense.

 

Now more than ever is the time to act.  Share this blog post and join the Campus

Antifascist Network. Build a branch at your college or University, right and fight the fascist scourge. 

No more Floridas!  No more Fascism!

 

            Write to us at cannetwork.fighttheh8@gmail.com.