November Evergreens

We were a bit light on content this month . While we finish cooking up a few articles, take a peek at some of these great links from November.

Class War

The workplace is highly articulated and complex, workplace resistance is similarly various, and one perspective cautions against romanticizing the strike when productive workplace resistance can have so many faces. “[A] high strike frequency should not be fetishized, and it has no value in itself, if it achieves no results,” argue these Swedish syndicalist authors.

Sara Nelson, a union leader who’s been unafraid to speak at DSA events, gets a New York Times pulpit to urge Democrats to get pro-worker judges on the bench while they still have a majority. “With the help of conservative judges, corporations have systematically weakened labor laws for decades, leaving workers fewer and fewer tools to hold their bosses accountable.”

Earlier this year, Jacobin collaborated with YouGov to survey working-class voting behavior in the United States — in conjunction with the newly formed Center for Working-Class Politics — with the goal of finding out how progressive and socialist candidates can mobilize the working class. Read “Commonsense Solidarity: How a Working-Class Coalition Can Be Built, and Maintained.

In the Boston Review, Justin H. Vassallo uses a thorough review of Terence Renaud’s New Lefts: The Making of a Radical Tradition to chronicle the history of the New Left, connecting the struggles of “neoleftists” to present-day political battles. One possible interpretation of Renaud’s book, Vassallo writes: “ … any leftism without a concrete policy agenda — and the tactical focus needed to win the formal power to implement it — is ultimately a betrayal of its overriding aim: to create a more just world.”

Neoliberal Meltdown

POLITICO playbook touted this as a great weekend longread and it is, including the long part: “It’s Not Just White People: Democrats Are Losing Normal Voters of All Races,” by The Intercept’s Ryan Grim: “Democrats fear they are losing white swing voters over racial politics. Three studies suggest that the party’s elite culture may be the real problem.” If we socialists were opportunists we would be definitely licking our lips over this development …

Historian Jill Lepore, writing in the NYT, has fun with the really, really rich guys and their misplaced science-fiction fetishes — showing in the process her respect for the genre, in which Masters of the Universe are unlikely to bring optimal outcomes …

China. Everyone is paying more attention, including to shifts in political culture in the People’s Republic. Here’s a recent guide from Portside. See also our comrade Ryan M’s report on a recent conference on China by US leftists.

COP was a FLOP

Want the full dope on the Glasgow COP-26 meeting, good, bad and ugly? This roundup from The Conversation, “Progress or Greenwash,” has more than you could possibly want to know. And from the same source, the appalling (and exempted) contribution of militaries to climate degradation.

Adam Tooze, one of our most astute writers on the economics of right now, takes a look at where official inaction on climate is leading some increasingly enraged activists. In “Ecological Leninism: Andreas Malm’s post-pandemic climate politics,” Tooze writes: “the historical analogy he [Malm] prefers to draw is with the First World War and its aftermath, a world defined by the upheaval of revolution and the violence of fascism — the beginning, not the end of an age of crisis.” Malm’s latest book, considered here, is How to Blow Up a Pipeline.

Can democracy handle the truth? In this rumination from The Guardian, the failure of nominally democratic societies to perform at COP-26 brings despair. “The veteran Earth scientist James Lovelock puts his faith in eco-authoritarianism. Climate change is so severe, he has said, that ‘it may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while’.”

More evidence that Maryland did not cruise through the pandemic, despite Larry Hogan’s propaganda: “The pandemic laid bare the fragility of our local food system, in particular our reliance on non-local food sources, the millions of Marylanders at risk for hunger, and weaknesses in distribution and storage infrastructure …”

That whole Jamaal Bowman thing

A November visit to Israel by Rep Jamaal Bowman drew ire from DSA's BDS Palestinian Solidarity Working Group. Coupled with Bowman's "yes" vote on a large Israeli military defense package over the summer, many in the DSA felt that Bowman had crossed a red-line. The BDS-Palestine working group began to circulate a statement demanding action by the NPC. By December 3rd, 16 DSA chapter's added their sign-on to the statement. Conversely, a "Unity" letter also made its rounds to impress support for a more measured response to the NPC.

The NPC released their first statement on the controversy on November 16 - indicating that they were meeting with Bowman and deliberating to act on a path forward.

The DSA Observer provided a good roundup of what, exactly, was going on and how the whole situation played out. If you're looking for a good analysis of the faultlines of the debate - two entries published in the Socialist Call - one Bowman-hostile and one Bowman-friendly - do a good job of laying out the tactical and strategic fault lines.

In the end, the NPC released a statement on December 2 confirming that they would not be taking any actions against Bowman. Though many may find themselves disappointed with the statement, its an honest assessment of DSA's power and a sign that the NPC takes its role of engaging with and managing relationship with elected DSA officials at the national level seriously.

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