October Evergreens: Lasting GOOD READS from October

We use our Weekly Update to try and corral useful news and links to keep members up to date on relevant political developments and debates. A certain number of our GOOD READS from October are kinda out of date — they were about the negotiations in Congress on the reconciliation, or Build Back Better human infrastructure bill.

But here are some with more staying power …

American Empire

Our local DMV comrade Bill Fletcher tackles the question of international oppression, how to parse the role(s) of imperialism and the incomplete analysis that may have put the Left in disarray on the question. From CounterPunch.

Somehow, striking anywhere in the world from “over the horizon” doesn’t sound exactly like “defense.” Norm Solomon notes that the deceptive definition “defense budget” masks a violent history (after all, till 1947 it was the War Department).

A chunk of the difficult argument: “Averting Afghanistan’s Economic and Food Crises” — The Taliban’s cruelties are horrendous, but withholding international support and maintaining blanket sanctions will only hurt the long-suffering Afghan people, says the author, who is Asia Advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. From Foreign Policy in Focus.

What’s the story with COVAX — what was its promise and origin, and why is it falling way short in getting Covid vaccines to poor nations? A huge exploration by STAT and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism finds the answers in its history.

A revoltin’ development: “A Year after ‘Defund,’ Police get their Money Back.” From the NYT. 

Lest we forget: “Trashing the planet and hiding the money isn’t a perversion of capitalism. It is capitalism. Exploiting people, exploiting land, and keeping its ugly side secret. Its historical effects are all too recognizable in the Pandora papers now.” From George Monbiot in The Guardian.

Culture Under Capitalism

In the hands of people who are both marginalized and disingenuous, identity has been stripped of meaning and transformed into a rhetorical cudgel, alternately used to silence detractors and assume a kind of moral posture. I call this “Identity Fraud”: a knowing misuse of identity that primarily benefits those brazen enough to wield this maneuver. From Jenny G. Zhang in Gawker.

Professional Managerial Class (PMC) elite workers labor in a world of performative identity and virtue signaling, publicizing an ability to do ordinary things in fundamentally “superior ways.” Catherine Liu’s short but powerful book, Virtue Hoarders: The Case against the Professional Managerial Class is a great read for anyone working to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

Hey, very online leftists — ready to bring your politics into the real world but don’t know where to start? Watch this layperson’s guide to elevate your political engagement from online activism into real-world political organizing.

From Balls and Strikes: “Courts Are Making the Climate Crisis Worse: For decades, judges have relied on the formalities of legal process to avoid intervening in the climate crisis.”

“We have to decouple the economic benefits of homeownership from access to the bounty of social goods it currently guarantees for some.” In Public Books, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor talks about the activists bringing back public housing and how the future of the left must be a mutual project.

The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90% — And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure.” From Time magazine of all places. Henry Luce, call your office.


A fascism-enabling Fox News commentator promotes his own book on-air, blaming his notion of “Marxism” for US decline, and gets (surprise!) lots of traction and sales among the faithful. Several comrades have touted Benjamin Balthasar’s skeptical review-essay in Jacobin of Mark Levin’s American Marxism as a remedy: “Mark Levin wants a New Red Scare

No longer is it appropriate to view the Democrats and Republicans as Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dumb. The Republicans are now the party for dictatorship, and it is highly unlikely that there is a way for them to walk that back — an assessment from our local comrade Bill Fletcher in Organizing Upgrade via Portside.

How do we feel? Do we experience more life satisfaction than, say, Ted Cruz or Tucker Carlson? Tom Edsall in the NYT has aggregated some fun research on the topic.


Writing in CounterPunch, Steve Early reviews three important recent books on the nature and future of work by Sarah Jaffe, Eyal Press and Jamie McCallum. Via Portside.

On the resurging interest in worker co-ops: Mother Jones documents co-ops in six regions of the country.

From Boston Review via Portside: “From Revolution to Reformism: Leaders of the left abandoned the language of transformation in the 1980s — at a cost. Can it be regained?” 

And of course we have more in this November newsletter. We would have even more, and better, GOOD READS if you, the good reader, would remember to send us hot new stuff, even the ephemeral news about Congress and its follies. Hit us up at thesocialist@mdcdsa.org

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