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D2. Socialism

Meet the Group Behind CSPOA’s Visit to Le Center, Minnesota

As Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) founder and Advisory Board President Richard Mack kicks off a week of speaking engagements in Minnesota, IREHR takes a closer look at some of the on-the-ground organizations and individuals boosting the pro-paramilitary group’s efforts in the state.

This article briefly examines the group We Are The Taxpayer (WAT), the contact organization for Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) leader Richard Mack’s October 2 appearance in Le Center.

As we see, CSPOA’s contacts are again animated by far-right conspiracism and middle American nationalism.

Who is We Are The Taxpayer?

We Are The Taxpayer (WAT) is a state-registered Limited Liability Company that lists Marie Meyer as its registered agent.[1] In a letter to Rock County Sheriff Evan Verbrugge, Meyer announced that We Are The Taxpayer “is bringing guest speaker Sheriff Richard Mack from Arizona,” continuing, in far-right vernacular, that CSPOA and the “County Sheriff Project” served to “reaffirm the constitutional power of the Sheriff to refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal laws.”[2]

On its website, WAT promotes Mack’s speaking tour, gives out contact information for the anti-democratic group, and claims that Mack will “teach Sheriffs, the police, all public officials, and citizens as well, the authority and responsibility that exists under our U.S. Constitution to which all public officials take an oath to protect and defend.”[3]

IREHR’s September 28 letter to the Attorney General of Minnesota gives lie to this fallacious claim – providing ample evidence that “there is nothing Constitutional about the CSPOA.”

The Le Center-based We Are The Taxpayer casts itself as concerned with “the governance of our local Southern Minnesota Schools, Cities, Townships and Counties,” alleging a “top down” government shaped by NGOs that “enforces political agendas with little or no regard for the well-being of the taxpayer, their property rights or financial assessments assigned against them.”[4]

As quickly becomes apparent, the group mixes a defense of corporate interests, such as the oil industry, with a variant of the middle American nationalist ideology that animates diverse parts of the far right, ranging from white nationalists and neo-Nazis to national conservatives and so-called “constitutionalist” groups like CSPOA – an ideology depicting middle Americans squeezed between international elites “above” them and people of color and the poor “below” them.

Alongside this, WAT lashes out at environmental protection policies and boosts property rights claims that have long accompanied the machinations of pro-militia groups such as CSPOA.

On the pro-corporate front, We Are The Taxpayer declares that “Under the guise of needing to protect the earth against climate change,” restrictions and “changes in our sources of energy” are “costing the American citizens an astronomical amount of money” and placing “an undue target on fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas and has led to restrictions of these types of energy sources.” The group says alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind, “are heavily subsidized by grants” which are the equivalent of ‘the apple’ in the Garden of Eden,” the far right group claims.[5]

In addition, alongside defending some of the largest transnational companies on earth, We Are The Taxpayer demonstrates defining elements of middle American nationalism. The group casts “Non-Government Organizations,” or NGOs, as “non-profit entities that are heavily involved in environmental, humanitarian and social service programs, working to empower the disadvantaged and minority groups.” Continuing that they are “sanctioned by the United Nations” and “often serve as lobbyists for the World Economic Forum and work closely with political parties and trade unions,” We Are The Taxpayer concludes that

“NGOs help plan and write the agendas intended for use to ‘transform’ America from a free capitalistic society where honesty and hard work are the key to happiness and wealth, into a welfare state ruled with tyranny and stripped of freedom and rights, especially property rights.”

For WAT, the “threat” to America emanates from global elites alongside trade unions and groups “working to empower disadvantaged and minority groups.”

Coming back to its anti-tax moniker, the group concludes that,

“The ultimate goal of our ‘new government’ is to tax our private properties away from us and turn America into a socialist ruled country with all of the population dependent on government…This is exactly what we have present here in America. It is here by design. It has been planned. Unless we wake up from the ‘woke-ism’ that has been forced upon us and implanted in our brains through propaganda and brain-washing, we are destined for a ‘total transformation of America,’ as Obama foretold.”[6]

The WAT website’s “Glossary” also drives home the middle American nationalist combination of perceived dual attacks from international elites “above” and  people of color and poor people and “illegals” “below,” including the following:

AFFA Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: It’s purpose is to enforce social justice standards in communities by requiring agencies that apply for HUD Grants to have a balanced mix of ethnicity and income/poverty levels evenly distributed within the community…

Agenda 21: A comprehensive blueprint for the reorganization of human society that was planned for the world by the United Nations…

Clean Water Act: Its proposed purpose was to regulate discharges into the water and to serve as a pollution control program, but has turned into a ‘sustainable development’ enforcement policy with the result of usurping private property and restricting common farm and ranching practices…

Equity: Redistribution of wealth. Creating equal outcomes for all regardless of whether a person works for what they have.

Global Governance: Governing all of the world’s people under the rule of one worldwide administration…

National Governors Association: A 501(c)(3) private organization. They advocate for Smart Growth programs, more benefits for illegals, block workfare requirements for welfare recipients…

PCSD: President’s Council on Sustainable Development. Created by Bill Clinton in 1993 to impose Agenda 21…

Social Justice: The redistribution of wealth. The demand that everyone should have identical resources, privileges, housing, education, etc., regardless of the effort they put into working for them.

Sustainable Development: An agenda to control the economy and the population by focusing every issue of life’s concern around climate change, redistribution of wealth, social, racial and environmental concerns, whether real or fictitious.”[7]

In line with the above, the group promotes several similar  “Resources.”[8]  These include Tom DeWeese’s American Policy Center, a group that promotes the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, the common far-right refrain that a voluntary United Nations program amounts to an “international globalist grab for power.”[9] It also includes Cause of America, the so-called “election integrity” organization backed by election denier Mike Lindell.[10]

We Are The Taxpayers also promotes as a “resource” the conspiracy-obsessed and election-denial website Stop World Control, which alleges, among other things, that:

  • “[P]andemics are not a natural occurrence, but meticulously orchestrated operations, unleashed on humanity with the purpose of reducing the world population, and increasing control over the survivors.”

  • “Scientific data reveals how vaccines are greatly reducing the world population. They also start the process of transhumanism, by injecting substances that modify the human DNA and spread nanotechnology throughout the human body.”

  • “CRY FOR FREEDOMreveals the officially promoted agenda of globalist organizations to create a new species of ‘humanoids’ or ‘cyborgs’: humans that will be genetically engineered and technologically enhanced, to greatly increase their physical and mental abilities.”[11]

Driving home the underlying nature of its conspiracism, Stop World Control promotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This crassly antisemitic forgery fueled pogroms against Jews in Czarist Russia and became standard fare for the German Nazis of WWII. On a page of its website dedicated to “The Cabal,” Stop World Control includes a video by Janet Ossebaard and Cytha Koeter that declares,

“The Protocols of Zion, dismissed as a hoax, but we can assure you after months of in-depth research, that they are not. They were slightly altered, yes, but they are not a hoax. In 24 protocols, the Elders of Zion described their vision of the world, its population, and their ultimate goal – absolute world dominance and a one-world government.”[12]

In particular, the video goes on to re-hash the Khazar conspiracy theory, claiming that leaders of the medieval kingdom of Khazaria, who converted to Judaism, migrated westward to form the nucleus of European Jewry (Ashkenazic). The video continues that the Rothschild family – a favorite canard of antisemites – were descended from Khazars who used the Protocols to gin up antisemitism. The video continues, “Ashkenazi, Nazi. Do you still believe that’s a coincidence?”[13]

In The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right, Daniel Levitas describes how the “Khazar” theory became popular among Christian Identity adherents because it advanced the view that European Jews were imposters.[14] Christian Identity holds that whites are Biblical Israel, Jews satanic imposters, and people of color an inferior race.

CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman recently ran ads on his Liberty Roundtable show from the Christian Identity group Confederate Church of Christ.

In May, We Are The Taxpayer hosted Trevor Loudon, the far-right conspiracy theorist and anti-Muslim activist who pushes the idea that such things as a higher minimum wage, opposition to oil pipelines, and amnesty for undocumented immigration are part of a “far-left and Islamist” agenda. At the event, Loudon spewed his idea that “‘Minnesota is in the grip of Marxist revolution’ orchestrated by ‘subversives’ secretly working for China, Russia and other foreign adversaries,” in the words of the Le Sueur County News.[15]


[1] We Are The Taxpayer. Minnesota Business Name. Office of Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. Accessed October 2, 2023.

[2] Meyer, Marie. We Are The Taxpayer. Letter to Sheriff Evan Verbrugge. September 25, 2023.

[3] We Are The Taxpayer. Events.  Accessed September 29, 2023.

[4] We Are The Taxpayer. Accessed September 29, 2023;

[5] We Are The Taxpayer. Issues. We Are The Taxpayer. Accessed September 29, 2023.

[6] We Are The Taxpayer. Issues. We Are The Taxpayer. Accessed September 29, 2023.

[7] We Are The Taxpayer. Glossary. Accessed October 2, 2023.Other examples include: APA American Planning Association: A non government organization that engages in physical, economic and social planning. They create legislation and planning practices which threaten private property rights. Bloc Grants: Money compiled by taxing the citizens, then rolled into a lump sum to be offered back to the communities it was taken from with stipulations attached to ensure compliance of the demands of the dictators…CCE: The Center for Civic Education. A non government organization whose mission is to transform the idea of teaching in a sovereign state, to teaching Democracy Globally, Internationally, and Comparatively…Center for Sustainable Communities (Green Step Cities): Advances an ideology merging aspects of socialism with that of green politics, ecology and alter-globalization or anti-globalization…

[8] We Are The Taxpayer. Resources. Accessed October 2, 2023.

[9] American Policy Center. About Us. Accessed October 2, 2023.

[10] Cause of America. About Us. Accessed October 2, 2023; Slcisco, Aila. Mike Lindell Funding New Nationwide Grassroots ‘Election Integrity’ Group, Leader Says. Newsweek. November 26, 2021.

[11] Stop World Control. Crimes Against Humanity. Accessed October 2, 2023; Stop World Control. CRY FOR FREEDOM – Why cyborgs won’t save the world. Accessed October 2, 2023.

[12] Stop World Control. FALL OF THE CABAL – Discover the criminal network that terrorizes humanity. Accessed October 2, 2023; Ossebard, Janet and Cyntha Koeter. The Sequel to the Fall of the Cabal – Part 4.

[13] Ossebard, Janet and Cyntha Koeter. The Sequel to the Fall of the Cabal – Part 4.


[14] Levitas, Daniel. 2002. The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right. New York: Thomas Dunne Books.

[15] Hughes, Carson. Speaker at Le Sueur County event levies claims of Marxist conspiracy. Le Sueur County News. July 24, 2023.

The post Meet the Group Behind CSPOA’s Visit to Le Center, Minnesota appeared first on Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Between fact and fiction

Tempest Magazine - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 20:37

Since 2018, Mexico has undergone a huge political shift led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO or Obrador), and his political party, the Movement for National Regeneration (MORENA). Along with supporters from other political parties, civil society, and the capitalist class, AMLO has been building a new political regime and pursuing a political-development project dubbed the Fourth Transformation (4T). While there is a considerable difference in the way the government communicates, how public finances are handled, and the way public policy is implemented, the 4T has fallen short of the transformation AMLO touts.

The first three transformations were the Mexican War of Independence against Spain after 1810, the Liberal victory over the Conservative and French forces in the 1860s, and the Mexican Revolution which raged from 1910-20. It’s important to note that the previous transformations AMLO invokes to legitimize his project came about through the mass mobilization of the population to destroy the old order and create a more just society. Nevertheless, under AMLO, the old order has been brought into the fold, as is the case of the many politicians who abandoned their parties to join AMLO, or the military that has been rehabilitated and strengthened.

As the end of Obrador’s term nears [the President of Mexico is limited to serving a single six-year term], we take stock of the Fourth Transformation and focus on several policies and development projects that the government has pursued. As we will argue, the new regime pretends to govern for the people (“the poor come first” says AMLO), but in reality, it governs on behalf of the interests of the U.S. and Mexican ruling class.

Propaganda and facts

The image of the Fourth Transformation (4T) as portrayed by its sympathizers on the international Left contrasts greatly with reality. The AMLO government has wanted to create the idea that it is a force that fights for Latin American emancipation as an anti-imperialist force, when in fact it is quite the opposite.

The policies of the current government of Mexico are a mirror image of the nationalist policies pursued before the neoliberal turn that hit Mexico from 1985 to 2018. This administration is pursuing a capitalist development project, but without the benefits of the Bonapartism of the post-Revolution era, and with all the economic and political subordination to U.S. imperialism, although with the discursive freedom to support progressive movements and revolutions in other countries.

The representatives of Obradorismo are in reality nostalgic for that period when the party-state had full control of all institutions and state corporations but lacked any kind of workers’ democracy and were controlled by bureaucrats and charros (corrupt union leaders that herded workers like cattle).

This nostalgia can be seen in the profile of those who are the main representatives of Obradorismo. For example, the former Secretary of the Interior, Adán Augusto López, was a PRI militant until 2001. AMLO’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, was also a PRI member until 1995, and then joined the Democratic Center Party until 2000. Its first Secretary of Public Education, Esteban Moctezuma, was an official during the six-year term of Carlos Salinas and was part of Fundación Azteca, owned by Grupo Salinas, which belongs to the billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego. In fact,  many of the members of MORENA who have become governors also come from the PRI, which is the cradle and political training ground of these politicians.

The representatives of Obradorismo are in reality nostalgic for that period when the party-state had full control of all institutions and state corporations but lacked any kind of workers’ democracy and were controlled by bureaucrats and charros (corrupt union leaders that herded workers like cattle).

This desire to return to the so-called “Estado de Bienestar” (welfare state) is not a disruptive movement, nor does it go against the tide of neoliberalism. On the contrary, it is precisely one more expression of a worldwide tendency to return to greater state control of some key aspects of the economy in response to the economic crises that have hit the world economy since 2008. However, in Mexico, there has been little progress in that direction, and there is still a very big struggle between bourgeois factions that do not quite accept this new tendency. This is why the government is still trying to consolidate this transition, relying not only on institutions, but also on agreements with U.S. imperialism and the popular support centered on the figure of AMLO.

Some myths that reinforce this false idea are easier to disprove than others, but we will try to illustrate as best we can these contradictions between propaganda and facts.

A false anti-imperialism

Mexico is a semi-colonial country that has been subjugated by the United States since the latter became an imperialist power. However, thanks to free trade agreements like NAFTA, several Mexican companies became multinational corporations and the Mexican bourgeoisie could then negotiate with other European imperialist countries and even with China to expand its market, using the public spending of the Mexican government, its institutions, and state enterprises as a springboard for global markets.

Part of the recent achievements of the bourgeoisie was the entry of European capital into the energy industry with which Mexican businesses were able to do big business, but which threatened the national oil industry and, in turn, the gringo hegemony over energy markets in the  American continent. U.S. control of this sector has been maintained despite the fact that several Latin American oil companies are state-owned and, in some cases, have Russian investors. Washington has had to expel foreign capital from these industries, and AMLO’s nationalist discourse has served this purpose well. Of course, it has been in Mexico’s interest to expel European corporations such as Iberdrola, Unión Fenosa, Shell and BP from the national oil industry, as well as to put refineries to work in favor of greater production of oil derivatives, but ultimately this is a policy that suits the U.S interests. Furthermore, the national oil industry still depends on private capital in many ways, since one of the main suppliers of infrastructure for PEMEX is Grupo Carso, owned by the richest person in Mexico, Carlos Slim.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador visits President Donald Trump at the White House on July 8, 2020. Photo Credit: Trump White House Archived.

This policy has also applied to the extraction of lithium. The main lithium extractor in Mexico was a Chinese company, Gangfem Lithium, through its subsidiary, Bacanora Lithium. It has now closed thanks to the decree of nationalization of lithium that took place in May 2022. Contradictorily this decree still allows the entry of foreign capital, and was lobbied for by U.S. officials and businessmen. In its aftermath, the government proudly announced the construction of a Tesla plant in Monterrey, the capital of the state of Nuevo Leon.

The security and militarization policy of AMLO’s government is also telling. Since the 1970s the armed forces and police in Mexico have been advised and trained by U.S. institutions such as the CIA, the FBI, and the School of the Americas to carry out counterinsurgency tasks. Such ties have been very strong. For example, Mexican armed forces continue to operate under the so-called “Northern Command.” We refute the idea that militarization as part of the “strategy to combat drugs” is a progressive process (we will not discuss whether the militarization of public safety is suddenly a progressive act or not, because it simply is not), and it is specifically a policy imposed by Washington. This resulted in the outbreak of violence in 2007 under Felipe Calderon in the form of a treaty called the “Merida Initiative,” which has been denounced by AMLO on several occasions, but he has done nothing to end it and has only changed its name to the “US-Mexico Bicentennial Framework.”

What the 4T government did was simply use AMLO’s popular support to justify an advance in the policy of gringo intervention on security through the “War on Drugs,” even though the president declared it over. Proof of this is the first use given to the National Guard after its creation, as it was not to combat drug trafficking, but to stop the caravans of Central American migrants trying to enter through the southern border with Guatemala. And that is the true nature of the National Guard, as well as of the army: to be an extended armed wing of Yankee interventions in Mexico.

Both from the members of MORENA and from AMLO himself, there is an attempt to generate the idea that gringo imperialism is besieging the Mexican government. In alignment with right-wing personalities to carry out a “soft coup,” supposedly due to the fact that there is a great discomfort among American and Mexican business leaders who see their interests being affected by this government. We cannot ignore the fact that there are changes in the public administration that have affected some businesses that were managed with scandalous corruption, but to think that these changes are of such magnitude that they have upset the interests of the Mexican and U.S. ruling class is ridiculous, to say the least. We are now a little less than a year away from the end of Lopez Obrador’s six-year term, and since Mexico cannot legally have more than one presidential term, it would make no sense to want to remove him from office at this point.

Of course, there is a business sector that has always detested AMLO, and in several media—El Universal, Reforma, El Financiero, Radiofórmula, and LatinUS—there is constant political bashing. But there is no generalized discontent among the Mexican bourgeoisie with the president. For example, the main TV corporations Televisa and TV Azteca are not as antagonistic. On the contrary, the relationship has been quite fruitful between AMLO and Mexico’s wealthiest capitalists, filled with frequent business dinners where the president repeatedly boasts of new initiatives.

Megaprojects for capitalist development

As part of the pompously dubbed Fourth Transformation, the government is also pursuing large megaprojects in parts of the country that have historically been disinvested. While the government argues that these projects are a form of reparations and social justice for these communities, in truth these projects are old PRI agendas or new projects to expand extractivism throughout the territory.

From its beginning, Obrador has sought to reintroduce large state-funded megaprojects as centerpieces of the 4T. His main transportation and tourism project has been the so-called “Mayan Train” which will crisscross the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo with 15 stations and 950 miles of rail. This project is led by the Secretariat of Tourism headed by Miguel Angel Torruco, in-law of Carlos Slim, and along with new airports and hotels it aims to detonate the tourism industry in the Mexican southeast expanding it beyond the beaches of Cancún and Playa del Carmen. These projects will accommodate tourists and distribute them to the interior of the Yucatan peninsula where they can visit Mayan ruins and colonial towns along the route.

Although the president argues that this project will have a minimal impact on the environment, its massive operations will reshape the entire economy of the southeast. This will bring with it mass tourism, hotel chains, and real estate speculation along the route. Additionally, the train cuts through natural reserves, collective lands, and Indigenous communities that have not seen the penetration of tourism on this scale. To meet the demand of the throngs of tourists, public lands will also be privatized and turned over to agribusiness and real estate developments. The impacts of mass tourism are already felt in Cancún and nearby cities where the destruction of mangroves, wildlife habitat, and the pollution of water tables from sewers are already an issue. Furthermore, the government failed to inform communities about the environmental impact of this project and has used extensive propaganda to portray the project as a fait accompli to marginalize environmentalists and stymie opposition.

In addition to the expansion of mass tourism, the Mayan Train will also extend the reach of the military by creating the state-owned corporation Olmeca-Maya-Mexica, which will be administered by the military. Which is building large sections of this project and when finished, will operate five airports, six hotels, a railroad, and a new airline. AMLO argues that the profits from this company will curb corruption since they will be re-invested in these projects and military pensions. However, the extensive involvement of the military in these projects aims to buy their loyalty, especially the top brass, and to enroll them in the new regime’s plans of nationalization of infrastructures that will be more difficult to privatize.

Overall, AMLO’s Fourth Transformation is not an alternative to the dictates of fossil capitalism. According to Víctor Manuel Toledo, the former head of the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), the 4T does not have a clear set of objectives with visions towards long-term development. On the contrary, the former secretary argued that the 4T is full of contradictions and power struggles that get played out in the President’s cabinet. As a development project, the Mayan Train is a classic case of capital’s spatial fix, which is a strategy to solve the crisis of capitalism by projecting them toward new spaces of investment and kicking off new rounds of profitability through geographic expansion of capital in previously underdeveloped regions. The result will be the further ecocide of the southeast and the commodification of Mayan history and culture for the service of mass tourism. When all is said and done, the Mayan Train will reproduce the tourism model that Mexico has been pioneering since the 1970s. It will amount to poorly paid workers catering to the whims of gringos on vacation.

Another major infrastructure project has been the Olmeca refinery in Dos Bocas, Tabasco, which is part of AMLO’s policy of expanding the energy industry as a pillar of the national economy. As a centerpiece of his national development project, Dos Bocas is not just a refinery but the anchor of a growing petrochemical complex in the region that will supply energy to the states crisscrossed by the Mayan Train and the Interoceanic Corridor.

An investment of $8 billion dollars was announced for the construction of this megaproject, but it is currently mentioned that its cost has already risen to $17 billion dollars. Part of the money invested in the infrastructure of this huge industrial complex has been destined for contracts with Grupo Carso, who maintains great power as a vendor for PEMEX. For the construction of this refinery, an entire tropical forest of approximately 350 hectares, which contained a diversity of mangroves, had to be destroyed.

The third major infrastructure project AMLO has prioritized is the Interoceanic Corridor. The project includes the expansion of the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos, an upgraded railroad, highway routes, and ten industrial parks–Maquila free trade zones–along the Isthmus. AMLO has argued that these megaprojects are also designed to keep migrant populations in place and to stop Central American migrants from moving north since, ostensibly, they will be willing to work for the starvation wages offered in these factories.

Although the new logistics hub cannot compete with the Panama Canal, it will aim to divert cargo that can be unloaded in the Pacific port of Salina Cruz and loaded onto intermodal container barges or container ships in Coatzacoalcos, and onto the East coast of the U.S. aiming to take 10-20 percent of traffic away from the Panama Canal.

Furthermore, AMLO’s strategy is to anticipate the infrastructural needs of a decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies. He openly discusses this rift as an opportunity for Mexico, the U.S., and Canada to integrate through near-shoring to oppose China’s economic domination. This is the type of development AMLO envisions, maquiladoras, logistics hubs, seamless movement of goods, and flows of fossil fuels, which will also have natural gas and oil pipelines along the routes and storage facilities at port terminals.

We cannot forget that this is the same military responsible for the disappearance of 43 students from the teacher’s college of Ayotzinapa and countless atrocities. As an institution, the military has been thoroughly delegitimized in recent decades but AMLO has spent considerable political and financial capital to rehabilitate the institution and whitewash its image.

These megaprojects will also be administered by the military. A centerpiece of the government’s plan has been to grant these infrastructure projects national security status, which will include military patrols and surveillance all along the route to assuage the security concerns of potential investors in southern Mexico.

Given the large number of projects with military involvement or supervision, these initiatives have helped legitimize the military during AMLO’s administration. In addition to the security and surveillance of the Isthmus, the military is also building or managing airports, railroads, banks, energy infrastructures, and airlines. We cannot forget that this is the same military responsible for the disappearance of 43 students from the teacher’s college of Ayotzinapa and countless atrocities. As an institution, the military has been thoroughly delegitimized in recent decades but AMLO has spent considerable political and financial capital to rehabilitate the institution and whitewash its image.

Like other megaprojects, any pretense of progressive or sustainable development falls apart with the slightest scrutiny. For example, AMLO’s energy policy has focused mostly on improving fossil fuel extraction and processing, repairing and building hydroelectric dams, increasing natural gas sales to Europe, and nationalizing lithium to serve the North American market. His promises that trees wouldn’t be cut down to build the Mayan Train were only demagogic statements mocking environmentalists and the Indigenous communities opposing the mass tourism and real estate speculation this would bring. Thus, while AMLO may tout his administration as a genuine transformation, in reality, his administration is carrying out the work of previous presidents, and expanding developmentalist fossil fuel agendas, only better.

Social movements and the Fourth Transformation

In terms of the labor movement, the 4T has not really done anything relevant, but it has been able to make its few actions in favor of the Mexican working class take relevance before the media thanks to its propaganda apparatus. Possibly its greatest achievement has been the recovery of the minimum wage by 39 percent, while previous administrations boasted of increasing the minimum wage by eight percent per year if not less. However, in strictly labor matters, AMLO’s government has not done much more.

For example, from 2019 to 2021, a lot of propaganda work was done on the elimination of outsourcing. However, this culminated only in the prohibition of a very specific outsourcing scheme, so this is still a general practice in many companies, including the government itself, which still hires many personnel in this way. The government has boasted of a historic increase in the number of workers enrolled in the IMSS (Mexican Social Security paid by the employer), which is an indicator of the increase in formal employment. But it’s an open secret that many companies enroll their employees at a much lower salary than they pay in payroll, which is a fraud to the IMSS, but the Secretary of Labor does not investigate these issues.

The most important development in Mexican labor has been the emergence of independent unions in the last four years, but this is due in part to the terms renegotiated in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada agreement, the USMCA. The new labor clause required free choice in union representation which overturned decades of business unionism, especially in the auto industry. These reforms, the emergence of independent unions, and the labor revolts of Matamoros in 2019 are due to the mobilization of workers and labor organizations, not government intervention. In fact, besides increasing the minimum wage and rhetorical support for labor, AMLO’s government has been at the margins of all labor struggles. A pitiful stance for a “left-wing” government.

For mass movements in general, the so-called 4T has been a complete disaster. Many leaders of social movements were co-opted by Morena, either to satisfy their personal ambitions, or because they were convinced that their struggle would be easier under the protection of a Morena government. This happened with activists such as Nestora Salgado, a member of the community police of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities-Community Police (CRAC-PC). A political prisoner in 2013, she is currently a senator for Morena. Although the CRAC-PC itself has distanced itself from her, it has suffered internal divisions because some of its members decided to join the party. Manuel Vázquez Arellano, better known as “Omar García,” a survivor of the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, is a similar case; he currently serves as a senator for Morena, and since he has been in that position, he has not voiced a single criticism of the government’s militarization policy, nor its constant attack on rural schools or its failure to clarify what happened to the students of Ayotzinapa, which his parents and the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, a team of forensic experts accompanying them) have consistently done.

Another case of co-optation is that of Susana Prieto Terrazas, who until recently was an advisor to the 20/32 labor movement in Tamaulipas. Terrazas got a post as a Morena deputy a year after she was a political prisoner for leading the labor movement in 2020. Since then, her colleagues in the National Independent Union of Industrial and Service Workers (SNITIS) have had conflicts with her. They have denounced her despotic treatment and the use of her movement’s letterhead to give political support to AMLO, which recently culminated in her dismissal from the union. She has responded by using the means at her disposal to conduct a retaliation campaign against the executive committee of SNITIS. The CNTE, which historically has been the vanguard of the mass movement in Mexico, is completely demobilized, due to numerous agreements that the union leadership maintains with the government. The fact that the government grants numerous concessions to the teachers to assuage grievances, except for sporadic conflicts with the teachers of Chiapas and Oaxaca.

A protest for Women’s rights in March 2020. The protestor holds a sign that translated to English reads “We are the voice of the women who no longer exist.” Photo Credit: Samanta Pantoja.

Since the beginning of his administration, AMLO has ridiculed demonstrations by popular organizations. Whether it is the case of Indigenous communities opposing megaprojects, normalistas demanding a larger budget for their schools, the women’s movement fighting against femicides and machismo, or relatives of disappeared persons. AMLO has always declared that such demonstrations are induced by the conservative opposition. There are numerous cases in which the government has used riot squads to disperse protests and then it blames the supposed provocateurs paid by the opposition. This criminalization of protest which in turn justifies the use of repressive force has been used by previous governments. However, when questioned about this, the president repeats the mantra that his government “does not repress, does not persecute anyone and does not torture,” without giving any explanation other than denying the facts.

However, not all social movements are in ebb. The women’s movement is currently at the forefront of the struggle of the oppressed in Mexico and in September 2023 the Supreme Court finally decriminalized abortion. This comes after decades of organizing across Latin America, where women have taken a leadership role in different struggles throughout the continent.

AMLO has a conservative position on women’s issues and he believes the family is the moral center of Mexican people. For example, during the COVID-19 crisis, he spoke of how favorable it was for women to stay at home to take care of their families: “People want to change the role of women and this is one of the just causes of feminism, but the tradition in Mexico is that daughters are the ones who take care of their fathers. We men are more detached.” His knowledge of the women’s movement is so detached, that he has claimed that there was no such movement before his government. Insinuating that it is a political attack incited by the opposition, and obviating that his statements resonate with the machismo of many of his followers.

AMLO has ridiculed demonstrations by popular organizations. Whether it is the case of Indigenous communities opposing megaprojects, normalistas demanding a larger budget for their schools, the women’s movement fighting against femicides and machismo, or relatives of disappeared persons.

For these and many other reasons, we refuse to recognize AMLO’s Fourth Transformation as a progressive, and much less, a leftist project worthy of support from radicals and revolutionaries. Overall, it’s a strategy to develop Mexico as an advanced capitalist economy with a better negotiating position in the North American and global markets. As the new regime heads towards a general election in 2024, its credibility will be tested since MORENA’s leading candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum does not have the mass support garnered by AMLO’s historic role in the opposition. The Left must remain independent from Morena and throw its support behind the women’s movement and Indigenous movements. It must also pursue its own agendas and intervene in mass movements to deepen its transformative role in Mexican society and to win better reforms from the new regime. Otherwise, the Left risks continued isolation and irrelevance.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons; modified by Tempest.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Atlanta: Stop Cop City continues despite fierce repression

Socialist Resurgence - Sat, 09/30/2023 - 16:24


Uncontrollable wildfires in Canada. A devastating storm in Libya. The hottest summer on record. “[N]early two-thirds of U.S. adults say that climate change is noticeably affecting their local communities,” according to PBS. As the effects of climate change become ever clearer, so does the need for action to combat it.

Activists around the globe are taking up this urgent cause, at times putting their bodies on the line for the prospect of a better world. One such fight is the movement to protect a forest that is considered the lungs of Atlanta, the Weelaunee Forest. Dubbed “Stop Cop City,” this movement challenges plans to raze the forest and in its ashes construct a heavily militarized police complex for training in urban warfare and movement repression tactics.

It is important to emphasize from the start that the “Cop City” being planned for Atlanta is far from an isolated incident. Originally conceived in the 1960s as a response to the mass mobilizations for civil rights and to end the Vietnam War, these facilities are making a return to relevance in an alarming way. Already, there is a similar facility in Chicago, and plans are advancing for cop cities in Baltimore, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh. The fight to stop the Atlanta Cop City is just one part of a much larger battle to resist increasing police militarization and worsening climate change. The success of the movement in Atlanta will surely be a test for how easily the state can implement similar facilities elsewhere. Given how high the stakes are—and how far beyond Atlanta these implications reach—it is no wonder this movement has been repressed to the degree it has.

Since the earliest days of organizing, the movement to Stop Cop City has been an uphill battle, viciously fought at every turn by state forces. The most notable provocation happened in January of this year, when police raided the forest and shot beloved forest defender Manuel “Tortuguita” Tehran dozens of times as they meditated in their tent. Since this tragic loss, “Viva, Viva Tortuguita” has become a rallying cry for the movement and Tort’s likeness has been synonymous with it.

During a week of action in early March, a family-friendly music festival in the forest was raided by police, and 31 attendees were arbitrarily arrested and charged with domestic terrorism. Just a week earlier, environmental activist Erin Brockovich had been named in an Ohio law enforcement report that described her as a “special interest terrorist threat” for her expressions of concern for the East Palestine community after a widely publicized train derailment in February. Around the same time, the Idaho state affairs committee brought a bill to the state Senate that sought to expand the definition of domestic terrorism, redefining “civil disorder” as “domestic terrorism.”

At the end of May, the home of organizers with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a bail fund for activists in Atlanta, was subjected to a paramilitary SWAT raid conducted by Atlanta and Georgia police. This took place between two historic city council meetings, during which residents of Atlanta gave hours of emotional testimony in overwhelming opposition to Cop City. Even still, enough votes in favor of the project allowed it to continue. In response, organizers launched a massive ballot initiative to put to a vote the cancellation of the lease of the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, where the facility would be built. This effort involved an army of volunteers hitting the streets all summer and collecting 116,000 signatures—more than twice the amount of residents who voted for mayor Andre “Sellout” Dickens, as he has been nicknamed by his constituents.

Unsurprisingly, the city government has responded to this appeal to democracy with more anti-democratic hurdles, including lawsuits to disqualify the measure, a refusal to collect signatures, a general lack of transparency, and a voter suppression tactic known as “signature matching”—normally criticized by liberals but now being pushed forward by them. Of course, the process for a ballot measure was never meant to be democratic, as evidenced by the constant moving of the goalposts. While it is true that the “appropriate legal channels” are deliberately constructed to be as demobilizing as possible, the move to organize toward this ballot measure was a great initiative. It gave organizers an opportunity to engage with more people of Atlanta than ever before, showing broad layers of the city that they have a stake in this fight, and now exposing for them the failures of the legal system.

During the last week of signature collection, the state escalated its tactics once again, bringing RICO charges against the 61 forest defenders who previously had been indicted on bogus domestic terrorism charges. Originally established with the purpose of targeting organized crime and racketeering, the RICO Act is increasingly being levied against environmental activists. The broader context for this repression is Biden naming environmental activists as “violent extremists” in his National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. Biden has made it clear that he is not the green president he wants to portray, as he has signed on to a number of fossil fuel projects that if not stopped will continue to devastate the planet and living conditions of its people.

The neighborhoods surrounding Weelaunee People’s Park provide a living example of the negative impacts of cop cities and similar environmentally destructive projects. Residents have already been experiencing lower quality of life as a direct result of the plans. In addition to increased police presence, residents have reported tanks rolling through and helicopters buzzing their neighborhoods as a means to intimidate them or pressure them to leave their homes.

In addition, local streams are being polluted with sediment from the construction, the subject of a lawsuit being brought against the city by the South River Watershed Alliance. Already much of the forest has been clear cut, which has led to life-threatening flooding. A recent instagram post was quick to point out that while Atlanta police are using footage of themselves rescuing people from floods as a justification for Cop City, in reality any progress on Cop City’s construction will continue to exacerbate flooding and take funding away from projects that could concretely benefit Atlanta residents such as stormwater infrastructure (which many neighborhoods lack).

There is seemingly an endless amount of funding for the police, but every year services like housing, care, and education are given less and less. The struggle over cop cities represents a fundamental contradiction between the interests of the people—the ability to lead a safe, happy and healthy life in unity with nature—and the interests of the ruling class in protecting and increasing their profits at any cost to the community and the environment. As people are increasingly seeing their power as reflected in the George Floyd uprising, increased unionization, and strikes—and now the fight against cop cities—the ruling class recognizes that it must tighten its grip or risk losing control. The police are the main vehicle for doing this.

In fact, the RICO indictment of Cop City activists lists the murder of George Floyd as the beginning of the Stop Cop City movement (along with disgustingly claiming that the police murder of Rayshard Brooks was justified). In many ways, the struggles against cop cities are a continuation of that fight. Many of the same corporations that are now funding Atlanta’s Cop City also partnered with the Minneapolis Police Department. “It’s like a who’s who of corporate America,” remarked Taya Graham, reporter for The Real News Network and host of “Police Accountability Report.”

These companies want to build cop cities to protect the wealth they stole from the people while paying them poverty wages. Waffle House is an obvious example of this. Earlier this month, Waffle House workers in Atlanta delivered a letter to management to demand better pay. CEO Walt Ehmer sits on the executive board of the Atlanta Police Foundation, and the company has helped finance Cop City, yet Waffle House employees cannot make ends meet. Once again, there is seemingly limitless money to increase policing but never any to help workers live a decent life and take care of their families.

The fight to stop Cop City peels back the veneer a little bit and reveals the world that the capitalists want to create. They want to squeeze workers as much as possible, shutting down dissent and rolling back people’s right to organize and assemble. The construction of cop cities is just one part of that, and the steps to get there are a grim foreshadow of what may lie ahead if gone unchallenged by a fighting mass movement. The survival and success of this movement lies in its ability to continue to grow and outmaneuver the state and its repressive forces, which it can do by continuing to mobilize the broadest layers of the working class possible and by continuing to defend victims of political attacks.

The fight to stop cop cities is just one part of a global movement to fight climate change and an escalation in policing, which are each just logical outcomes of a world dominated by the pursuit of profit. A world where people can live in harmony with nature and without the threat of state violence must be a world that substitutes for this impetus one based on human needs and solidarity.

Photo: Tatsoi via Wikimedia Commons

The post Atlanta: Stop Cop City continues despite fierce repression first appeared on Workers' Voice/La Voz de los Trabajadores.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Ocean Hill-Brownsville and the Freedom Schools of 1968

Tempest Magazine - Fri, 09/29/2023 - 20:40

AAn earlier version of this piece was published on on the fiftieth anniversary of the strike. The strike marked a huge shift in UFT politics as Albert Shanker consolidated his power within the union through mobilizing conservative teachers against the community control movement. By 1975, the union was in a weakened state as it faced historic budget cuts that marked the rise of neoliberal austerity.

I started teaching right at the end of 1967. The 1968 strike by the reactionary United Federation of Teachers (UFT) against the Black community’s efforts to determine their own destinies started the next semester. This was not the first instance of the UFT’s conservatism, as the union supported the Vietnam War and refused to support sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

I had just been teaching a partial program in two different schools, but then with my first full-time job at JHS 22 on the lower east side, I had to decide whether I should cross a picket line or stay out on strike. Coming from a radical background, it was a gut-wrenching and difficult choice. I decided with all the involvement I had in civil rights struggles, I could not go against the community. How could I sing “We Shall Overcome” at meetings of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and now turn my back on the Black community?

This was not a typical strike for greater pay or better working conditions, it was a divisive strike which could only weaken the union in the long run.  It was a strike which did the very opposite of the 2012 and 2019 strikes by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which united with the community for the common good.  In Chicago, keeping schools open, reducing class sizes and providing services for the community was just as important to teachers as salary increases and other benefits. I decided to join the movement for community control.

In the 1960s the Civil Rights Movement shook the foundations of U.S. society. Members of the Black community and white progressives fought together to try to bring about the integration of the New York City Public Schools. They met tremendous resistance from reactionary whites. One proposal was for building new schools in areas on the border between a white district and a Black district, and having Black and white kids attend these schools. Many whites would have none of this.

When I started teaching, less than eight percent of the school staff were people of color, and that was all people of color. The majority of teachers were white and Jewish, while around sixty to seventy percent of the students were non-white. By contrast, in D.C., Detroit, and Philadelphia, more than half of the teaching staff were people of color. This disparity was due to a systematic attempt by the New York City Board of Examiners to keep Black people and other people of color out of education jobs through licensing exams. The schools were controlled by whites; Black people had no control over the curriculum or over hiring and firing because the New York City Board of Education was dominated by whites.

Eventually, the Black Power movement became a factor and many people of color moved on from fighting for integration to fighting for community control, as whites had effectively defeated the movement for integration. Having a quality education took precedence over integration, if integration was not possible because of the racist resistance of whites.

In 1964, there were Freedom Schools set up in the South, and Freedom Summer took place in Mississippi. Freedom Summer was an attempt to register people of color to vote in the region where they had been most disenfranchised under Jim Crow laws and through extralegal violence. Over forty schools were set up in which the curriculum would be controlled by Black people, and they proved to be very successful.  These successes had an effect on antiracist struggles in the North, and there was a growing campaign for community control of the New York City schools.

That movement eventually led to the setting up of three “demonstration” districts by the Board of Education to see if community control could work. One was set up in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, the area which precipitated the strike; the IS-201 complex was set up in Harlem; and there was a third school set up in Chinatown called Two Bridges. The UFT leaders were very upset about these developments. The union was concerned that New York City would eventually have 32 bargaining units instead of one Central Board of Education if community control was successfully implemented. The additional danger was that some of these districts would be controlled by people of color, and the predominantly white Jewish teachers union did not go for this. Albert Shanker was the president of the United Federation of Teachers (I eventually ran against him for union presidency in 1983 and 1985). Shanker took a sharp position against community control and fought it every step of the way.

Eventually, there was a confrontation; proponents of community control argued the community should be allowed to set up their own curriculum and be able to hire and fire teachers like any other school district. In 1968, there was a confrontation when Rhody McCoy, the head of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville experimental school district, transferred about fifty UFT teachers. Transfers were a common occurrence in other districts, but when Rhody McCoy, a Black man, did it, it led to a racist backlash.

Ultimately, the teacher’s union went out for two months to fight the transfers. The odd thing was that not only the teacher’s union went out, but also the administrator’s union and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), too. When have you ever heard of a situation where the bosses and the workers went out on strike at the same time? They were both on the picket lines and they both refused to come in to work; principals, assistant principals, and teachers.

The UFT leadership said that Rhody McCoy and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville administrators should not have “fired” the teachers. Union leaders also suggested that there were political motives in firing the teachers. For some, this was an issue of job security; for the ones that were really running the show (Shanker and his Unity Caucus), it was an issue of who was going to control the schools. They wanted to maintain white and Jewish influence in school governance.

Not everyone in the union agreed with Shanker. There were quite a few teachers who came from a Left tradition and organized the Teachers for Community Control. This group was established by people who were formerly members of the Communist Party-led Teachers Union (TU). They joined forces with activists in Black neighborhoods and formed a coalition to fight for community control against the strike. The demonstration districts that were community-controlled continued to operate, and in districts like Ocean Hill-Brownsville and Harlem, they established a new curriculum, hired and fired their own teachers, and governed the schools in their own way.

The curriculum in the community-controlled districts was influenced by Black nationalism, emphasizing Black history, Black struggles and educating people to become activists and to fight for their rights. The local community board developed a curriculum that emphasized Black pride and a restoration of Black history that had not been told in the white-controlled schools. At that time, there were no Black people in the history books except Booker T. Washington and maybe some abolitionist leaders. The curriculum that was developed in these schools gave light to the contributions of Africans and African Americans throughout history. The idea was to give kids pride in themselves, and there was a reawakening around Black pride, Black history, and Black identity.

The schools were controlled by whites; Black people had no control over the curriculum or over hiring and firing because the New York City Board of Education was dominated by whites.

While this was going on in Ocean Hill-Brownsville and Harlem, there were a number of other schools, like the one where I worked, where teachers broke open the schools. I was a member of Teachers for Community Control and participated in the decision to cross the picket line collectively. Teachers like myself came to the conclusion that this was a racist strike and the teacher’s union was not fighting for salaries and working conditions or a health plan, but to keep Black people from running their own schools.

Even though it was a very difficult decision—because I never thought I’d ever cross a picket line and because I support workers’ struggles—I did so because it was a racist strike. And so we crossed: nineteen other teachers and I broke into the school, went in through the window, opened the doors, and established a Freedom School. Many of the kids from the neighborhood, supported by their parents, attended.

The New York City schools I taught in for 35 years claimed to teach democracy, yet education is often authoritarian and hierarchical, even today. The textbooks in the 1960s were almost identical to those used in the 1940s and 1950s. Schools were horrible places with limited resources and no up-to-date information. When we broke into these schools, we established real democracy; the parents, the students, and the teachers all had a role in determining curriculum and in determining what would happen in the classroom. We had meetings where we discussed how things were going, what we wanted to do, what was working right, and what wasn’t working. The new principal, Bobby Greenberg, was elected by the parents and teachers. At one point, he was criticized for things as mundane as straightening the desks and chairs. As quickly as he was hired, he could have been fired if he didn’t fall in line. To avoid this, we organized the community.

It was like the revolution had come. We didn’t just work during the period of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the teachers stayed for several hours after school every day, working to develop curriculum and to give special attention to the kids. We studied and developed new teaching techniques, new curriculum, and a new way of managing our affairs that was democratic and collective. It was an exciting period, but it only lasted two months.

My school, JHS 22, happened to be 95 percent Latinx, with a small minority of African American students; I don’t remember many white students. The teachers involved in the Freedom School were predominantly white progressives, but Latinx and Black teachers had greater representation than they had in the UFT. As a white person in the movement, there was always a question of where I stood. I think there is always a little bit of awkwardness, but over time you become part of a movement by building trust and taking risks with others in solidarity. I began to be accepted by the community and respected for my actions, which were deemed risky. The striking teachers were outside on the picket line, often threatening our physical safety. There was a lot of anger. I understood the anger on the other side too, because when you’re on strike, you don’t want people crossing a picket line. We were considered scabs.

My feeling is that a lot of students were radicalized as a result of the struggle. There was tremendous uproar in the city: You can imagine 55 thousand teachers out on strike and the Black community trying to defend itself against this militant racism. This strike took place in the context of a social crisis that was going on all over the country, where multiple cities were literally on fire. Standard education was on the defensive.

I remember a teacher once raised the issue of whether we should be teaching “ebonics” to accommodate the needs of Black students. In our school, similar ideas pushed beyond this logic with bilingual and multicultural education; we made sure that our classes were taught in Spanish and English. The Vietnam War was an issue that was brought up, as the U.S. was getting deeply into the war. So, consequently, we were dealing with all kinds of issues that may not have been brought up before. I remember many people became more radically against the war, along with the radicalizing influence of Black Nationalism.

When the strike was over and the administrators and other teachers returned to the school, the 19 of us who had crossed the picket line were targets. The very first semester I was there as a regular substitute teacher, I was fired, and so were all the other first-year teachers and regular substitutes who had crossed the picket. Here was a strike over the issue of hiring and firing, and many of us were fired without cause. Since the union was on the other side during the strike, they didn’t defend us. On the other hand, the parents demonstrated near Houston Street and Columbia for over five days. This was due to the movement being a coalition of parents and teachers who walked in. Some parents were radicals, while others just wanted their kids back in school. Once parents were willing to block the streets for us, we were all hired back. Everyone who was let go was rehired because of the strong support of the parents and the students.

How did the strike end? Basically, the community control movement lost. The Board of Education did away with community control and brought in a kind of fake community control called decentralization, all in collaboration with the Ford Foundation. They set up 32 school districts in the city, but they were at best pseudo democracies. It was an attempt at trying to save face for the community control movement, yet the teacher’s union was the real winner. When the teachers came back, they were allowed to teach an hour and a half extra every day to make up for the penalties of the notorious Taylor Law, which made all public strikes in New York City illegal, with harsh consequences. In this case, however, while the teachers who went out on strike were to lose two days pay for every day they were out, when they returned, they were paid to teach after school, ostensibly to give the students extra work to make up for the lost education.

This was an expression of the union’s victory. The teachers did not lose anything for going out on strike, or at least they did not lose what the Taylor Law prescribed. This shows that “illegal” only matters when you don’t have the strength. Since the UFT had the strength, they were able to find a way to give the teachers back the money they lost. If we are united, it doesn’t matter what laws are in effect. The ruling class will back down because of our collective power to shut things down.

The worst thing that happened as a result of the conflict in 1968 was the fissure that was created between Jews and Black people, who had fought together for civil rights and against racism and antisemitism. In the end, all working people in New York lost as a result of the strike.

The UFT won a good contract in 1972, but after that, because of the lack of unity, every contract I have seen was a losing one until I retired in 2001. In addition to losing contracts, labor was weakened as the pension system consistently deteriorated with the creation of different tiers for new employees, which got worse with each new tier.

After three years of defending myself at JHS 22, I realized that the writing was on the wall and that if I didn’t go somewhere else, I would lose my job. So, I applied for a job at IS 201 in Harlem, which was unique in that 95 percent of the staff were people of color and all of the administrators were people of color. When I got there it was made quite clear to me who was in charge. I would be welcome as long as I respected the way things were being done and that Black people were in charge at this school. I was eventually elected UFT chapter leader and led my chapter out on strike in 1975. Unlike 1968, this strike was fought over legitimate union issues like wages, working conditions, and job benefits. Unfortunately, on these issues, Shanker and the Unity Caucus sold out the teachers by ending the strike prematurely after five days. Because of this major defeat, the UFT has not been on strike since.

Featured image credit: Richie Girardin; modified by Tempest.

Categories: D2. Socialism

“Constitutional Sheriffs” and Anti-Immigrant Leaders Coming to Minnesota

Following efforts to recruit law enforcement in North Carolina, the far-right pro-militia Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) is heading to Minnesota. From October 2-10, CSPOA leaders will cover more than 800 miles across the state, trying to recruit law enforcement and community members in 9 different cities: Le Center, Freeport, Brownton, Deerwood, Champlin, Princeton, Rochester, La Cresent, and Blaine.

At two of those events, CSPOA leaders will share the stage with an organizer for one of the country’s most significant anti-immigrant groups.


In recent years, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has been working more closely with the other far-right “Constitutional Sheriff” group, Protect America Now. The Minnesota events mark a reunion of sorts for FAIR and CSPOA.

FAIR Senior Field Representative and “Special Projects & Law Enforcement Relations Manager,” Susan Tully is slated to appear as a “special guest” at two events featuring Richard Mack, the founder and Advisory Board President of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA).[1]

The FAIR leader’s guest appearances are slated for October 8 in Rochester and October 9 in La Crescent.

Tully’s Minnesota appearance with CSPOA is not being promoted on FAIR’s social media. However, FAIR’s relationship with CSPOA goes way back. In 2015, Mack gave a presentation at FAIR’s border school.[2]

FAIR has a long history of racism. FAIR founder, the late John Tanton, had an affinity for eugenics and spent years cultivating relationships with a eugenics-supporting white supremacist foundation. Between 1982 and 1994, because of Tanton’s efforts, FAIR received $1,289,000 from the Pioneer Fund, a fund established in 1938 to promote Hitlerian notions of eugenics and “race science.”

Tanton’s machinations with eugenicists were reflected in his pining for a white majority society, writing, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European American society and culture to persist requires a European American majority, and a clear one at that.”[3]

In recent years, FAIR has lacked an activist ground game. The organization took steps to spark one in mid-2022, leading the formation of a national coalition of anti-immigrant and far groups. Susan Tully’s alliance with CSPOA can be considered an ongoing effort to keep the group relevant at the grassroots and part of FAIR’s ongoing commitment to woo law enforcement.

Earlier this year, CSPOA attempted to recruit sheriffs in Illinois. Their efforts flopped after IREHR contacted sheriffs across the state to warn them of CSPOA’s many concerning ties to white nationalists and insurrectionists.

On September 28, IREHR sent a letter to the Minnesota Attorney General and every sheriff’s department in the state expressing our concerns about CSPOA’s Minnesota tour. IREHR will continue to monitor these events closely, including a closer look at the local organizers facilitating the CSPOA tour.

NOTES [1] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Events. Accessed September 28, 2023. Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR Staff. Susan Tully. Accessed September 28, 2023; Search for “CSPOA” and “Richard Mack” FAIR. Facebook.; Federation for American Immigration Reform.; FAIR. Twitter (X). Accessed September 29, 2023.

[2] Center for New Community, “Crossing the Line: U.S. Sheriffs Colluding with the Anti-Immigrant Movement” Center for New Community website. July 2017.

[3] Arellano, Gustavo. John Tanton, quiet architect of America’s modern-day anti-immigrant movement, dies at 85. Los Angeles Times. July 18, 2019.

The post “Constitutional Sheriffs” and Anti-Immigrant Leaders Coming to Minnesota appeared first on Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Categories: D2. Socialism

IREHR’s Letter to the Minnesota Attorney General About CSPOA

Dear Attorney General Keith Ellison:

I’m writing today with an urgent alert about the plans of a far-right pro-paramilitary group to recruit across Minnesota. Starting Monday, October 2, the so-called “Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association” (CSPOA) is holding a nine-city tour across the state to recruit law enforcement personnel and new followers.

Contrary to its name, there is nothing Constitutional about the CSPOA. Instead, the group is a far-right pro-paramilitary organization that promotes spurious ideas about policing derived from the racist, antisemitic, and violent Posse Comitatus movement.

In addition to the concerns of our organization, both the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center categorize CSPOA as an “anti-government extremist” group.

The CSPOA was founded by former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack—a founding board member of the insurrectionist paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers. Six Oath Keepers leaders were recently convicted of seditious conspiracy for their part in the January 6th insurrection. According to the Department of Justice, the “manners and means” used by defendants convicted in two separate Oath Keepers trials included “using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.”

While Mack told Reuters that he left the Oath Keepers’ board around 2016 because the group became too militant, he and other CSPOA leaders maintained a relationship with the insurrectionist group. In fact, on January 5, 2021, CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman had Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on his radio program the day before the insurrection to encourage others to join his insurrectionary plans. Bushman continues to defend Rhodes on his program.

Mack has also made clear that he would support using private militias against government officials, writing, “People get all upset when they hear about militias, but what’s wrong with it? I wouldn’t hesitate to call out my posse against the federal government if it gets out of hand.”

Before returning to efforts to infiltrate law enforcement, in 2021, Mack toured the country with an antisemitic conspiracy theorist spreading misinformation about COVID-19.

CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman also recently announced on his Liberty Roundtable radio show that he is a member of the People’s Rights network, an organization led by paramilitary figure Ammon Bundy. Bundy is notorious for his 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Southern Oregon. In July, Ammon Bundy, an associate, and affiliated organizations were ordered by an Idaho District Court to pay $52 million in damages after defaming and harassing staff at St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho. In August, Bundy was arrested on a contempt warrant connected to his failure to appear for proceedings in the St. Luke’s lawsuit.

CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman has used his radio to promote and build a relationship with the white nationalist, antisemitic, and secessionist League of the South. In 1990, League of the South Chief of Statt Michael Tubbs pleaded guilty to stealing M-16 rifles from Fort Bragg in North Carolina, serving four years in prison. In 2017, Tubbs was named commander of the League of the South’s paramilitary branch, the Southern Defense Force.

Identity Dixie leader Jim O’Brien, aka Padraig Martin, a guest on Bushman’s radio show, League of the South ally, and co-editor of a pro-secessionist book promoted by Bushman, wrote,

“The lesson of the egregious Stewart Rhodes prison sentence – as well as every other J6 Protester languishing in a prison – is the following: if you are going to start a revolution of any kind, even if your purpose had legal or Constitutional merit, you better not stop at the gates. You better go all in. Do not leave a single police officer, Congressman, judge, or any other functionary of government alive…[T]he next time you take part in a rightwing protest be prepared to kill them all. Half measures are no longer an option.”

Richard Mack’s history in law enforcement is troubling. While Mack spends considerable time stressing his devotion to Constitutional rights, his record and that of other law officers affiliated with CSPOA has too often been wanting in this regard.

In 1985, while serving in the Provo, Utah, police department, Mack’s apparent misconduct landed a man on death row and in prison for nearly 30 years. As described in a 116-page federal court ruling, during the investigation into a high-profile murder case, Mack arranged to pay the rent, heat, and phone bills of two key witnesses and give them cash – totaling some $4,000 across several months. As a result, a Fourth District Court Judge overturned the conviction and death sentence of the man based on the misconduct of Mack, other officers, and the prosecutor.

One witness also “testified that Officer Mack threatened her and [her husband] with arrest, deportation, and loss of their son, and that this occurred three times.” In addition, witnesses testified that they were coached to lie about having received gifts and about the defendant planning to rape the murder victim. The judge wrote, “Officer Mack’s inconsistent statements—all aimed at painting the police and his own conduct in a more favorable light— seriously undermined his credibility.”

Other CSPOA-affiliated law officers have engaged in intimidation and illegal and potentially illegal practices. For example, Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff who received a 2012 CSPOA award, was convicted of criminal contempt in 2017 after refusing to end his department’s racial profiling practices. As of 2015, taxpayers had paid $8.2 million for the case.

Former Edwards County (TX) Sheriff Pam Elliot, a CSPOA member featured on the cover of Mack’s book, Are You a David?, and her department engaged in activity that intimidated political opponents and voters, including Edwards County deputies appearing at polling stations. Election attorney Buck Wood described the latter as “pure and simple intimidation…Only certain people can be in the boundaries of a polling station: voters and election officials.”

Earlier this year, Real County (TX) Sheriff Nathan Johnson, who attended a Texas CSPOA training, was put under criminal investigation for repeatedly seizing money from undocumented immigrants, even if they were not charged with a state crime – actions to which he admitted.

At a time when law enforcement and community relations are already strained, efforts of a far-right group to infiltrate law enforcement pose a grave and growing threat to both officers and department credibility.

Groups like CSPOA have no place in law enforcement. We urge you to speak out to make it clear that CSPOA has no place in American law enforcement. As this issue is time-sensitive, we would appreciate a rapid response. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Devin Burghart

Executive Director



The post IREHR’s Letter to the Minnesota Attorney General About CSPOA appeared first on Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Protests continue across Syria

Socialist Resurgence - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 12:15


Despite more than a decade of brutal repression by state forces, protests have been appearing across Syria since late August. While the demonstrations started in response to fuel price increases and poverty, protesters have been quick to revive the slogans of the beginning of the Syrian revolution, calling for the downfall of the Assad regime. Protests have included general strike actions, and have taken place in diverse locations, from Druze-majority regime strongholds such as Suweida, to historical centers of resistance such as Daraa.

“The Syrian regime is economically cornered, offers no prospects, and has no solution or project to revive the economy,” said Johad Yazigi, editor of The Syria Report.* “However, the ongoing protests are not only due to the economic situation, but also to the lack of any hope for the future.”

In the meantime, despite a cease-fire arranged in March 2020, Syrian government and Russian forces have continued to shell civilian areas in Idlib, the province in the northwestern part of the country where many war refugees have sought shelter. “Our teams have responded to 711 attacks by the regime, Russia, and their affiliated militias since the beginning of this year until Sept. 12,” a member of the White Helmets told Al Jazeera (Sept. 24). He reported that 61 people were killed in those attacks and 261 wounded.

As written previously on this website, the uprising against Bashar al-Assad first began in 2011 with a series of protests against police brutality and state repression, which grew into generalized protests with numerous economic and social grievances against the regime. The Assad regime responded with minor reforms, before baselessly denouncing the protesters as sectarian Sunni Salafists and increasing repression.

The U.S. briefly attempted to send arms and training as well, but failed to consolidate a Syrian base of support for its intervention, and its materiel was appropriated by other groups—with its overall impact on the conflict minimal. Rival, genuinely sectarian factions, including the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, funneled money and arms to Islamist militias, which waged war against both the Assad regime and rebel-controlled cities, in addition to winning popular support in some regions.

The Assad regime appeared to be at the point of collapse, but was brutally reanimated by the support of Iran and Hezbollah in 2013 and Russia in 2015. Backed by Russian imperialist air power, regime forces unleashed a campaign of merciless airstrikes, flattening cities held by Islamists and rebels alike, leaving hundreds of thousands of civilians killed and millions more displaced, with the ensuing refugee crisis itself becoming a catastrophe of epic proportions as these people struggled to reach Europe, facing the risks of indefinite detention, death, or myriad other dangers.

After a decade of total warfare, including a further invasion by Turkish forces in collusion with the Assad regime against Kurdish forces and a U.S. imperialist bombing campaign against Islamist factions, the Assad regime has regained military control of much of Syria’s territory but faces widespread economic destitution as well as the correctly-placed resentment of the survivors of its civil war. According to the UN, as of 2022 90% of the Syrian population is living in poverty and 80% face food insecurity—conditions that have been caused in part by the effects of climate change and long-term drought.

While Assad’s state, which is plagued by mounting debt, has managed to fund its budget by producing the narcotic Captagon and exporting it abroad, this has not translated into a general betterment of the Syrian economy. Syria’s Captagon trade has had a further, counterintuitive effect on its diplomatic standing: Rather than isolating Syria, which was already suspended from the Arab League and treated with hostility by its members, Assad has used the Captagon trade as blackmail against its neighbors, promising to cut the flow of drugs in exchange for normalized relations.

Last week, Assad took a further step to alleviate his regime’s isolation by visiting the Chinese city of Hangzhou to confer with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Before parting, Xi and Assad were able to announce the formation of a “strategic partnership” between the two countries, in which China pledged to help with Syria’s reconstruction through the Belt and Road initiative. However, China made no immediate offers of aid.

While China and the bourgeois dictators of the Middle East are happy to make amends with unrepentant butchers, despite the threat of the most brutal state repression and imperialist invasions, the people of Syria continue to defy Assad and demand democracy and an end to poverty. Now as before, the people want the downfall of the regime!

!الشعب يريد إسقاط النظام

* Quoted in The Teller Report, Sept. 5, 2023.

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Categories: D2. Socialism

CSPOA and the People’s Rights Network

“Constitutional Sheriffs” CEO Sam Bushman is a Member of Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights Network

IREHR has repeatedly documented the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association’s (CSPOA) relationships with paramilitary, far-right, and white nationalist groups and their leaders.

This has included well-documented ties to the white nationalist secessionist League of the South, the insurrectionist Oath Keepers, James Edwards of the neo-fascist American Freedom Party, Jim O’Brien (aka Padraig Martin) of Identity Dixie, antisemite Robert David Steele and KrisAnne Hall –  the so-called “constitutionalist” and CSPOA trainer whose legal “theories” would overturn the Reconstruction.

On his September 15 Liberty Roundtable broadcast, Bushman added another group to the list – announcing that he is a Utah member of Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights network (PRN). In a show featuring People’s Rights network members Casey Whalen and Lori Marr, the CSPOA leader explained,

 “What they try to do is claim that, hey, we’re either evil or we don’t have credentials. Neither are holding any water as the new media is taking center stage. And People’s Rights has become a great organization to help with that. Lori’s a member in Idaho. I am a proud member in the great state of Utah. You know a lot of people want us to, oh, hush, hush, don’t mention you’re part of Ammon’s group. I ain’t doing that. Ammon’s a great, honorable man, ladies and gentlemen, and I publicly endorsed him for governor of the great state of Idaho, and I’m not backing away from that.”[1]

Ammon Bundy is notorious for his 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Southern Oregon. Beginning in early 2020, Bundy led the growth of the People’s Rights network through a mix of far-right ideology, alliances with like-minded groups, and misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2016 CSPOA founder Richard Mack had called the Malheur occupation a “misguided protest” and told Bundy to “get out of there,” according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.[2]

Prior to Bushman’s announced PRN membership, Ammon Bundy had appeared as a guest on the CSPOA leader’s show at least 16 times between November 2015 and May 2023 – and Bushman reported on and boosted Bundy’s far-right escapades many more times. This included the January 2016 “Reports Live from Inside the Wildlife Refuge Continued!” and the show’s February 2020 declaration that “Sam Bushman Publicly Calls for Ammon Bundy to Be Nominated For 2020 Nobel Peace Prize!”[3]

In July, an Idaho jury found that Bundy, fellow PRN leader Diego Rodriguez, and affiliated organizations had defamed staff at St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho. The jury ordered Bundy et al. to pay over $52 million to the plaintiffs. In August, Bundy was arrested on a contempt warrant connected to his failure to appear for proceedings in the St. Luke’s lawsuit.

In recent months, Casey Whalen has used his North Idaho Exposed Substack blog to target human rights activists in northern Idaho, casting them as “COMMUNIST organizations” and “Agents of the United Nations” engaged in a conspiracy with police to “destroy the western way of life in North Idaho.”[4]


[1] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 1 – 9/15/2023. September 15, 2023.

[2] Wilson, Conrad and Bradley W. Parks. Judge Criticizes Defense In Occupation Trial; Cox Testifies. OPB. October 13, 2016.

[3] Liberty Roundtable. Search for “Ammon Bundy” conducted September 27, 2023.; Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 1 – 2/8/2020.; Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 2. January 5, 2016.

[4] Whalen, Casey. Human Rights networks conspire to influence North Idaho. North Idaho Exposed. August 3, 2023.; Whalen, Casey. North Idaho Catholic Rosary Walk Reported By Human Rights Networks To Police And F.B.I. North Idaho Exposed. September 8, 2023.

The post CSPOA and the People’s Rights Network appeared first on Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Categories: D2. Socialism

On the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar

Tempest Magazine - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 21:10

This wasn’t supposed to happen now. After all, the opening ceremony of Narendra Modi’s 2024 campaign for a third term as Prime Minister of India, aka the G20 Summit, had gone off without a hitch. A couple of weeks earlier, the Chandrayaan-3 moon landing also had served the campaign well. Social media images of the landing itself, while priming the pump of national pride, were drowned out by images of cheering crowds waving the Indian tricolor.

Already on cloud nine, I imagine Modi bhakts (devotees) passed out often from doing whatever it is they do in front of endlessly circulating images of their leader, now seen playing host to world leaders with gavel in hand. For weeks earlier, the presidency of the G20 had been talked up in the media as some sort of special achievement and not simply India’s turn at the wheel. News anchors (read: propagandists for Modi and his party) proclaimed that this was India’s vishwaguru (guru to the world) moment. The joint declaration that issued from the summit was applauded by liberals and right-wingers as a great diplomatic accomplishment, as was the announcement of an over-ambitious infrastructure project, the IMEC Corridor, a presumptive rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative that will likely remain, shall we say, aspirational.

President Joe Biden with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the 2022 G20 in Bali, Indonesia. Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz.

Then came Justin Trudeau’s sensational announcement that there were “credible allegations” of Indian agents’ involvement in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh Canadian citizen, on Canadian soil. The Modi government responded with indignation, calling the accusation “absurd” and accusing Canada of giving safe haven to “terrorists,” Nijjar having been declared one by the Indian government in 2020. Nijjar was killed by a rival Sikh gang, they said, and Trudeau was motivated by his own low approval ratings at home and was pandering to “Khalistani terrorists” to win support among Canadian Sikhs.

Indian news channels wasted no time disseminating the government line, backed up with background reports on the “terrorist activities” of the Khalistan movement and grainy images of bearded men with guns.

As of this writing, U.S. officials have confirmed that Trudeau’s announcement was based on intelligence shared among the Five Eyes Alliance nations [Australia, Canada, New Zealand, U.K., U.S. – Eds.]. The nature of this intelligence is unclear, although it seems to have come from Canadian surveillance of Indian diplomats. As more details emerge this could either shine a spotlight on India’s human rights record and its role in extrajudicial killings at home and abroad, and/or turn into a witch hunt of Sikh separatists around the globe. I doubt, however, that it will do much to hold back India’s emergence as an important U.S. ally or to dampen the spirits of Modi’s supporters at home and abroad.

Indeed a focus on “Khalistani terrorism” might help to distract the Indian public from a plethora of domestic crises that Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)  faces: a deteriorating economy; an inter-ethnic civil war with communal overtones in the northeastern state of Manipur; recent electoral losses in the southern state of Karnataka and the  subsequent formation of a unified opposition alliance (with the acronym I.N.D.I.A., no less); and a resurgent armed militancy in Kashmir. So: why Khalistan, why now? The answer from Modi’s PR team might well be: why not?!


Sikhs make up less than two percent of the population of India but about sixty percent of the current Indian state of Punjab. Historically, Punjab (meaning, Land of Five Rivers) referred to a much larger territory. In the eighteenth century, a confederacy of independent Sikh kingdoms that ruled this region successfully fought off the Mughal Empire; by 1800 the entire region had come to be unified under the rule of Maharaja (Emperor) Ranjit Singh. A half-century later the Sikh Empire was defeated by the advancing British in two wars (1845 and 1849), after which Punjab became part of the British Empire. In 1947 it was partitioned by the withdrawing colonial regime into two. Muslim-majority areas in the west were spliced away, and an international border was drawn down the middle of historic Punjab, dividing it between the newly independent nation-states of Pakistan and India. In 1965, the Indian portion was further truncated, as two new states were carved out of it–Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Since then, Sikh nationalism, like Tamil nationalism or Bengali nationalism, has had to find its own uneasy equilibrium within the Indian union. A 1965 reorganization of Indian states based on language helped soothe some of the friction but the desire for some degree of greater autonomy within Hindu-dominated India remained. These sentiments likely deepened and spread through the late-1960s and 1970s, when the Green Revolution boosted state revenues and accelerated wealth accumulation among better-off Sikhs.

Khalistan and 1984

The Shiromani Akali Dal, which had its roots in Sikh nationalist agitations in the 1930s, was an established center-right party by 1970. After failing to win a majority in the 1969 state assembly elections, they formed a coalition government with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, precursor of today’s BJP. In an effort to outflank the Akali Dal from the right, the centrist Congress Party’s Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister, is said to have tasked Zail Singh (later to become President of India) with the job of co-opting a young religious and political leader, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Little did they know that in a few years Bhindranwale, disillusioned by his experience, would break not only with Congress and what it represented (the Indian union) but also with the gradualist opportunism of the Akali Dal, and launch an armed rebellion for an independent Sikh homeland. Thus began the Khalistan movement we know today.

In 1981, Bhindranwale was falsely arrested for the murder of a Hindu priest. There followed widespread protests, some of which turned violent. In a daring act, five knife-wielding Sikh men hijacked an Indian Airlines plane, demanding his release. They forced it to land in Lahore, Pakistan, and were subsequently overpowered by Pakistani security forces. No one was harmed. (Years later, when two of them returned to India in 2018 after serving long sentences for this crime in Pakistan, they were charged with sedition by a vindictive BJP government but acquitted by a Delhi court on procedural grounds.) In response to the growing rebellion, the Indira Gandhi government, ever ready to bare its fangs when people in border states misbehaved, launched a bloody counter-insurgency operation, killing thousands, including many hundreds of Sikh youth. Bhindranwale and his supporters moved into the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar in 1982 and continued to coordinate their statewide rebellion. In June 1984, Indira Gandhi greenlighted an army operation, Operation Bluestar, to flush out the militants from the Golden Temple, killing hundreds of people including Bhindranwale, and invading and desecrating the holiest site in Sikhism.

Operation Bluestar boomeranged four months later when the Prime Minister herself was shot dead by one of her Sikh bodyguards. In the weeks that followed, thousands were slaughtered in anti-Sikh pogroms by vengeful mobs of Hindus egged on by politicians and leaders of  Indira Gandhi’s Congress Party (the main opposition party today). Many Sikhs fled to Canada and elsewhere.

U.S. billboard posted near the Michigan/Ohio border memorializing the deaths in Operation Blue Star. Photo by Wiki-ny-2007.

1984 thus marks yet another traumatic watershed in recent Sikh history. Since then, a combination of co-optation, accommodation, and repression by the New Delhi government has exhausted the Khalistan movement. At this stage, the movement has been largely delegitimized and driven underground. While it would appear to have little traction in Punjab today, there hasn’t been a referendum on the question, nor will there be one any time soon.

And yet, the trope of the “Khalistani terrorist” does have plenty of traction in other parts of India, and not just in the so-called Hindi-Hindu belt, where, among a plethora of religious and ethnic scapegoats, it is a favorite bogeyman of the far right. In its capacity to evoke fears of violence, it is second only to the trope of the “Kashmiri terrorist.” It is more specific than your everyday generic “Muslim jihadi” and more threatening than the scorned “Bangladeshi infiltrator.” When millions of Sikh farmers carried out a months-long protest outside Delhi just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it wasn’t long before they were accused of being “infiltrated by Khalistanis.” The BJP government even made this claim in the Supreme Court during hearings on the protests. But vilifying the farmers in this manner did little to stem the movement or cow its supporters; on the contrary, it revealed that the Hindu nationalist operates with a narrow, exclusive, and brittle idea of India.

Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was born in Jalandhar, India. He moved to Canada in 1997 at age 20. He worked as a plumber in a gurdwara [Sikh house of assembly and worship- Eds.] in Vancouver and became a Canadian citizen. He was elected head of the gurdwara and was a prominent leader and advocate for Khalistan among local Sikhs, but from what I can gather he wasn’t very well known in Punjab. The Indian government in 2020 deemed him a “terrorist” for his involvement in proscribed organizations Babbar Khalsa and Khalistan Tiger Front, and offered a reward of about $16,000 for information leading to his arrest in the killing of a Hindu priest.

Nijjar is not the first Khalistan activist to be murdered this year. In May, Paramjit Singh Panjwar, named “Khalistan Commando Force chief” in Indian media, was shot dead in Lahore, Pakistan by “unknown” gunmen. In 2022, Khalistan supporter Ripudaman Singh Malik, acquitted of involvement in the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 that killed 329, was shot dead in his car in Surrey, British Columbia.

Impact of Nijjar assassination

What happens next on the international stage is anyone’s guess. With the U.S. calling on the Modi government to cooperate with the investigation, the weeks ahead will test even Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar’s skills in sophistry (although, as of this writing, he has been uncharacteristically mum). The U.S. of course has no business lecturing the world on transparency and respect for other nations’ sovereignty, given its own history. Nevertheless, wag fingers it will. Will relations between the two sour? Or will growing economic ties and a nascent strategic partnership override “concerns” about rights (and wrongs) yet again?

The Indian government’s attempt to blame gang rivalry or Pakistan’s ISI in these cases rings hollow given its record of covert ops in Kashmir, Nagaland, and elsewhere. If on one side we need to question the stereotype of the violent Khalistani terrorist, on the other side we need to question the image of the soft Indian state as a Gandhian creation: all peace, chai and yoga. The Indian state relies on soft power abroad, it is true, but decades of dirty wars waged within its borders have come to be accepted and justified by the Indian public and by all the political parties as a necessary condition of maintaining the territorial integrity of India. Indeed, “encounter killings” (where details of targeted extrajudicial killings are fudged to make them appear like chance police “encounters”) have been a normalized part of the news cycle for decades now.

[The Left] should speak out against the Indian state’s actions, demand accountability and justice for Nijjar’s murder, and defend the right of self-determination for Sikhs and their freedom to advocate for it.

Government denials are therefore often taken with a grain of salt by most people. In the case of someone like Nijjar, we must keep in mind too that once someone is labeled a terrorist by the government, there is little public scrutiny of the case against them. Between a “known terrorist” and an “unknown gunman” who took him down, there is no contest. It is understood that RAW (Research and Analysis Wing–the Indian intelligence agency) agents must “do their job” and the government must deny it. Trudeau’s allegations, even if proven true, will likely only bolster hardline national chauvinism in India.

The U.S. and the Canadian Left, in my view, should speak out against the Indian state’s actions, demand accountability and justice for Nijjar’s murder, and defend the right of self-determination for Sikhs and their freedom to advocate for it. We must reject the demonization of Khalistan supporters and advocates by the Indian state and Indian news media. Sympathizing with the history of trauma that Sikh communities have faced, we must understand why the desire for an independent homeland persists and what that says about the Indian union. When pro-Khalistan protests sometimes turn rowdy and vandalize Indian consulate buildings or try to set them on fire, as earlier this year in San Francisco, the Left should “patiently explain” that such actions may do little to further the cause of Sikh self-determination and may even strengthen the hand of the Indian state and its repressive apparatus, not to mention the hold of Hindu nationalism and majoritarianism.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons, modified by Tempest.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Solidarity with the UAW strikers!

Socialist Resurgence - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 07:48


On Sept. 15, the United Auto Workers (UAW) began, for the first time, a strike against each of the Big Three automakers—Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors (GM). The following Friday, Sept. 22, the strike was expanded from an initial three production facilities to include 38 parts suppliers, bringing the total number of strikers to just under 20,000.

Demands include the need to raise long stagnant wages to match inflation, the end of a tiered wage system, bringing back cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), and the institution of a four-day week—or a 32-hour week at 40 hours pay. Another demand raised is the restoration of the defined-benefit pension and retiree health care. Any workers hired since 2007 have not had these benefits.

UAW President Shawn Fain noted in his live-stream address to union members that the Big Three can easily afford to give auto workers these demands—and more. Fain stated, “Finally, and this is key: the cost of labor for the Big Three is around 4–5 percent of total operations. Think about that. They could double our wages, not raise car prices, and still make billions of dollars.”

The UAW leadership is calling their tactic the “Stand Up Strike,” in which only a selected few plants go on strike. Initially, 13,000 of the 150,000 UAW members employed by these companies were on strike at the three plants before the walkout was expanded to the parts distribution centers, adding an additional 5600 members to the picket lines. Fain explained, “The beauty of the stand-up strike is that it provides us maximum flexibility moving forward. We are keeping all of our options open as we continue to bargain with the companies. So an all-out strike is still possible. Our options are open.”

The great majority of rank-and-file workers have shown great enthusiasm for the strike. Yet some of the ranks expressed skepticism when the tactic was announced. For example, during a Facebook live stream, many workers commented in the chat that they wanted a stronger response; they wanted all of the 150,000 workers to go out on strike at once.

While the “Stand Up Strike ” doesn’t yet evoke the same power and rank-and-file driven initiative as the sit-down strikes of the 1930s, there have been significant changes and a more aggressive class-struggle posture taken by the new UAW leadership in comparison to its predecessors. From refusing a long-standing tradition of shaking hands with the Big Three CEOs prior to negotiations, to the class-struggle rhetoric of wrecking the billionaires’ economy, Fain recognizes that rank-and-file UAW members are fed up with the usual bureaucratic pomp and circumstance of the past few decades.

At the same time, UAW leaders still align themselves with progressive Democrats like Bernie Sanders and are even welcoming strike-breaking President Biden to the picket lines. What type of solidarity can be expected from a president like Biden, who broke a potential railroad strike by forcing a deadly concessionary contract on union rail workers?

The UAW demands

Inflation, and the rise in the cost of basic needs like eggs, milk, gasoline, rent, etc., means that the wage raises asked for by the UAW are reasonable. UAW President Shawn Fain is correct in saying that the big auto companies, having raked in massive profits, can more than afford to support the wage increases for their workers. In fact, a sliding scale of wages to reflect local costs and inflation should be implemented everywhere. This would ensure that the real purchasing power of the working class does not fall. For this reason, the demand to bring back COLA also has significance for workers around the world.

There is also the issue of the tiered wage system. This system allows the boss to pay workers hired at a later date a smaller wage for the same work. This is a fundamentally unfair system and has been fought by workers at Kellogg’s, Amazon, UPS, and others in the recent period. This system allows the boss to gain more profits from the labor of workers while also creating animosity between different tiered workers. This kind of system should be abolished everywhere. The UAW members could play a great role in the overall working-class fightback against this unjust practice.

The most interesting demand, and perhaps the demand with the most potential impact, is for the four-day workweek without a reduction in pay. The most fundamental aspect of the bosses’ exploitation of labor in modern society is that we, as workers, basically sell our labor in the form of time to the boss. In exchange for our time at work, we receive payment in the form of a wage. A 32-hour workweek at the rate of pay of a 40-hour workweek would be a drastic and much needed improvement of the quality of life of the UAW workers.

A reduction in the workweek without a reduction in pay is a demand that all workers should be raising, and holds increasing importance as forced overtime, seven-day workweeks, and 12-hour days become the norm in many industries—including construction, dairy, rail work, meatpacking, nursing, etc. The epidemic of overwork must be challenged so the working class can regain its freedom and quality of life. We work so we may live, not live so we may work!

The UAW strike holds much importance for the entire U.S. working class, and indeed, the world. Auto and metal workers in countries like Brazil and Mexico face similar challenges, where COLA and a 32-hour workweek would go a long way to help the working class. Solidarity across companies, unions, and sectors is vital to ensure the successful victory of any one of these demands, and UAW members could take the lead.

New technology: Organize the non-union companies!

The Big Three auto companies are in competition with foreign companies and domestic non-unionized companies. In addition, the so-called “green transition” to electric vehicles (EV) is putting pressure on these companies, which would rather cut labor costs to remain competitive against (or with) these new technologies. Under capitalism, this competitive drive always puts labor and the bosses at odds, as the boss is compelled by economic laws to cut their costs for the sake of profits. This results inevitably in an attack on the quality of life of workers.

Therefore the UAW has a dual challenge in this and future strikes. On the one hand, the transition to EV indicates at present that more and more plants will be staffed by non-union labor, making them easier to exploit and more profitable for the bosses. This also means the fighting strength of the UAW itself would be weakened, as the old technology of gas and diesel vehicles is replaced and workers are progressively laid off. Fain has criticized auto companies for not using union labor, stating that “the 11,000 workers that will be hired by Ford for its Blue Oval City electric vehicle manufacturing complex in Tennessee should belong to the UAW.”

On the other hand, workers in other companies and other unions need to be included in the fight and encouraged to do so. Auto workers at Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Tesla, Volkswagen, etc. could join with the UAW in an industry-wide fight against falling (real) wages, tiered wages, and for the 32-hour week. To the degree that these workers remain separated and in competition with each other, to that same degree will the bosses at these companies exploit them. History has shown that the bosses will team up in cartels, monopolies, and other combinations for their mutual profit. The workers have every right (and every need) to do so as well.

Solidarity with the strike! All out to support the picket lines!

Solidarity with UAW strikers is pouring in from all over. Video and picture solidarity posts on social media are urging on the fight and filling up time lines everywhere. Readers can join in by calling 1-318-300-1249 to leave a message for the CEOs of Ford, GM, and Stellantis; tell them that UAW members deserve the same 40% raise the CEOs got over the last four years.

Some organizations are finding creative ways to show their solidarity. During contract negotiations, prior to the strike, the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) launched a campaign to connect the environmental movement with the struggle of autoworkers fighting for a just transition, as automakers move to greater Electric Vehicle production that is largely non-union with lower pay and benefits. LNS organized 100 climate groups to build solidarity with UAW members through a robust call-in and social media campaign that mobilized thousands to express their solidarity.

In Brazil, Luiz Carlos Prates, a metalworker and leading member of the National Executive Committee of the 2 million-member trade-union federation CSP-Conlutas stood alongside members of Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos de São José dos Campos e Região outside a General Motors plant of 4000 to send solidarity greetings. Building this type of international solidarity can help sustain picket lines, build momentum, and open workers’ eyes to the broader class struggle outside our borders.

To push this solidarity forward, Workers’ Voice is organizing a panel discussion on Thursday, Sept. 28, called, “U.S. and Brazil: Union Auto Workers Fight Back!” The panel will feature Marcie Pedraza, a worker in the auto industry for 30 years and environmental activist in her Chicago Southeast Side community. The event will also feature Luiz Carlos Prates and as well as Herbert Claros, an industrial worker and leader of the Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos de São José dos Campos e Região. Readers can register for the online event by clicking here: Brazil and U.S: Auto Workers Fight Back!

Workers’ Voice is calling on all readers and supporters to find some way to express their solidarity with striking autoworkers. If you are near the auto plants on strike, head to the picket lines and donate food and supplies! Check social media, you may find UAW locals practice picketing in your area. Post solidarity videos and photos on social media. Pass resolutions in your unions in solidarity!

The New York Times writes, “A recent Gallup poll found that 75 percent of the public backed the autoworkers in the showdown, compared with 19 percent who were more sympathetic to the companies.” This is unsurprising given the new wave of public support for unions, and the new wave of workplace struggles from auto, rail, warehousing, communications, teaching, actors, etc. A successful auto strike in the U.S. could bring renewed hope and vigor to the U.S. labor movement, eager to take the fightback to the boss, everywhere!

For a sliding scale of wages pegged to the rise in cost of living! End two tier! For the four-day week; 32 hours work for 40 hours pay!

Photo: Mike Householder / AP

The post Solidarity with the UAW strikers! first appeared on Workers' Voice/La Voz de los Trabajadores.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Once again on the Democratic Party, the lesser evil, and the working-class Left

Tempest Magazine - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 19:37

If nothing else, the scale of the looming environmental catastrophe and ongoing social crisis suggest that we can little afford to keep postponing or subsuming the independent project of contending within the political arena for an emancipatory and socialist agenda. While this article does not explicitly answer the question of who we should vote for in the coming election, it does begin to answer the question of what we should organize for in advance of and beyond the coming election. Keith Rosenthal argues that alternating rule by the Democratic and Republican parties has far more continuity than discontinuity and that we cannot place our faith in the Democrats to advance the interests of the working class and the oppressed.

Could another four years of Democratic Party rule be as disastrous for the Left, oppressed social groups, and the working class generally as a fresh four-year hell of Republican Party rule? I think it is quite possible—for the simple reason that, as a ruling-class political party that lacks the capacity or desire to radically alter the status quo in favor of the less powerful and privileged, the party in power will invariably become the target of mass resentment with the status quo. This resentment may be of a left-wing or right-wing variety; a bourgeois, middle-class, or working-class variety; or a convoluted mix thereof, but it is inevitable.

Perhaps it may have been otherwise during previous moments in the history of U.S. capitalism, when it could be argued that a relatively broad consensus of satisfaction with the status quo existed among a critical mass of the population. But the era of such a cross-class consensus is over, and with it the golden years of an (always ephemeral) alignment of the liberal bourgeoisie and the working class in the Democratic Party. Now, the ship of state of U.S. capitalism is a tottering behemoth, badly in need of repairs and lurching toward global economic imperial decay. The growing inequality between rich and poor (and the super-rich and everyone else), persistent inflation, retrenchment in virtually all state services except repressive apparatuses, the multiplication of social crises from ubiquitous homelessness to civil strife— are all signs of capitalism’s inability to meet our collective needs.

The Democratic and Republican parties are not the same, but neither are they wholly separate species. They are respectively funded by different, though overlapping, sectors of capital.

Since neither the Democratic nor Republican Parties have any cure for the ills plaguing the status quo, the rule by either one or the other party means simply the switching of hands upon the clipboard of leadership over a terminal case. Under Democratic Party rule, the Republican Party and the right-wing take the initiative in leading the resistance to the insufferable status quo, not only making gains in terms of partisan support but also benefiting from momentum on a local level to enact a slew of utterly bigoted oppress-and-conquer measures. Under Republican Party rule, the Democratic Party and liberal organizations take up the mantle of the resistance, grow their ranks, and perhaps even stymie the worst excesses of the ruling party’s administration. However, in either case the effect remains the same. It is less the swinging of a pendulum–the switch from the rule of one party to the other is less diametric than is supposed–than it is an alternating current, a form of energy transmission that is both stable and continuous despite undergoing constant reversal.

The point is that the Democratic and Republican parties are not the same, but neither are they wholly separate species. They are respectively funded by different, though overlapping, sectors of capital, after all. Put more accurately, the rule by the Democratic and Republican parties, as distinct from their respective propaganda and social bases, is noteworthy above all else for the exceptional flexibility and constancy with which it has alternated over roughly 150 years of U.S. capitalist history.

True, it could be argued that the Democratic Party is a clear “lesser evil,” a good cop to the Republicans’ bad cop. After all, if we must choose, surely a good cop is preferable to a bad one? This idea is why, for instance, groups like the Democratic Socialists of America and the so-called progressive Squad in Congress are active within the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party, even as, according to some, the Democratic Party is little more than a useful mainstream ballot line on which to run insurgent socialist candidacies. Yet, even the most ardent of left-wing defenders of Democratic Party rule will concede that, in the best of circumstances, what we can hope for is the reduction of harm against some global sections of the working class or oppressed social groups. In other words, by taking cover within the embrace of the liberal wing of the ruling capitalist class, we can hope to win a degree of protection from the conservative wing of the ruling capitalist class.

Strictly speaking, the decision to abide further harm and oppression for some is a form of opportunism. Such opportunistic calculations may in fact occasionally be warranted in emergency situations. Yet this is the tactic pursued in perpetuity by those on the Left who have given up on an independent existence outside of or against the Democratic Party. From a tactical capitulation born of momentary exigencies to an undeviating strategy and even ideology, opportunist defeatism of this sort has become unthinking common sense for much of the Left.

Such a strategy forfeits in advance the promotion of a political program based on the uncompromising solidarity and unity of interests of all the oppressed and exploited. Ritualized and normalized bargaining over people’s lives and well being is an inextricable aspect of conducting politics on the terms of the U.S. ruling class–whether liberal, conservative, or otherwise. And the pressure to “engage constructively” as a “fair” party to such bargaining only increases the more one tries to remain a “responsible” voice within one of the two ruling cliques. After all, the lords never give without taking, never grant favor without demanding genuflection, and never empower without corrupting.

To those who say this is an oversimplification, does the Left not find itself in a protracted despondency? Aren’t working-class and oppressed people generally under attack by reactionary forces and economic insecurity? Haven’t the few bright spots been the result of exceptional examples of independent struggle and labor solidarity, and haven’t those examples proven weakest precisely at the points of contact with the Democratic Party?

The last great, truly reconstructive upheaval to shake the U.S. republic–the struggle to abolish slavery–was no less dependent upon the rupturing of a prevailing ruling class binary than what is needed today. At that time it was the Democratic and Whig Parties that shared power, while the upstart Republican Party (and its precursors) played the third-party “spoiler.” Though the nineteenth-century conditions of U.S. slavery and abolitionism may not be exactly analogous to the present, the political contours of an emancipatory struggle against a two-party status quo are certainly homologous.

Our priority ought to be the construction of social movements and organizations that remain emancipated from the dominant parties and structures of the existing capitalist state.

Every four years, liberal commentators declare this election to be the decisive election in turning back the Republican offensive. But the reality is that the terms of this debate have little changed over the course of 100 years of U.S. history because the political conditions to which the terms of the debate correspond have little changed over that time.

No society can long abide yawning inequality, social division, and political alienation without producing eruption. What we don’t know is which of the many social seams that tenuously bind and differentiate U.S. society will burst asunder at the moment of explosion.

If nothing else, the scale of the looming crises of ecology and human society suggests that we can little afford to keep postponing or subsuming an independent project of contending within the political arena for an emancipatory and socialist agenda. While this does not explicitly answer the question of who we should vote for in the coming election, it does begin to answer the question of what we should organize for in advance of and beyond the coming election.

Our priority ought to be the construction of social movements and organizations that remain emancipated from the dominant parties and structures of the existing capitalist state. Such formations will thereby be better situated to place demands upon all governments, regardless of political persuasion, and hold them accountable for their acquiescence thereto. This will moreover prepare such formations to accumulate the experience, integrity, and resolve necessary to birth working-class, socialist, or radical parties that can truly contend for (the transformation of) political power.

The words of the late People’s Historian Howard Zinn have never been more relevant: “What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in; who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.”

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons; modified by Tempest.

Categories: D2. Socialism

National Socialist Group Gathered to Plan Attack on Fair Housing

On September 12, the national socialist National Justice Party (NJP) held its latest Labor Day event in Columbus, Ohio. Beyond repetitive demonstrations of their core antisemitism and white nationalism, NJP leaders revealed one point of interest– the addition of targeting proponents of fair housing laws to its standard mix of ginning up fear of crime by people of color, defaming transgender people, making racist appeals to white workers and spinning ad nauseam variations on the movement’s white dispossession myth.

Throughout the day, NJP speakers also demonstrated how national socialism fits within a broader middle American nationalism that reverberates across white nationalism and the far right – an ideology casting whites squeezed between elites “above” and people of color “below” them in the American social order.

For NJP, the “above” part is built on virulent antisemitism and the fabrication of a racialized ruling class. NJP Chief of Staff Tony Hovater offered:

“Our ruling class is composed of out of touch career politicians, ideologically incited neo-liberals, their Jewish puppeteers, and they’re all willing to make working white people’s lives significantly worse to carry out their political goals.”[1]

NJP Central Committee member Warren Balogh explained the group’s self-identity:

“In the first place, we’re nationalists – and I mean blood and soil nationalists. We reject Joe Biden’s pronouncement that America is an idea. It’s a land and it’s a people. We reject that there can be any other definition of a nation…White Americans are a nation. But this republic, The United States of America, if it was once synonymous with our white American nation, it really isn’t anymore. We live in a country that is not our nation and in many ways is against our nation. And it’s really not even a country, it’s an empire and in many ways this empire is our nation’s greatest enemy. And we sometimes use a term, we call it ZOG – which is short for Zionist Occupied Government…As nationalists, we are not tied down to any economic model. We reject capitalism as well as communism. We take a third position.”[2]

Warren Balogh at NJP Labor Day Conference.

— IREHR (@IREHR) September 18, 2023

In case the references to “blood and soil,” “ZOG,” and a “third position” aren’t clear, Balogh was recently more specific in a Telegram post emblazoned with a swastika and photo of a smiling Adolph Hitler alongside an equally happy Robert Ley:

“Today is May 1st, the traditional National Socialist labor day. There is no fight for race that isn’t also a fight for labor! Hail Robert Ley, one of the greatest true socialists and martyrs to labor of the 20th century… National Socialism didn’t collapse in Germany because it was unworkable or because people got sick of it or didn’t believe in it. Rather it was destroyed with bombs and its leaders were hanged because it worked only too well, the masters of international finance couldn’t allow it to exist.”[3]

Robert Ley was an early ally of Adolph Hitler, who became Regional Leader of the NSDAP for Southern Rhineland by 1925. Later elected as a Nazi to the Prussian Diet in 1929 and the national Reichstag in 1932, upon Hitler’s ascent, Ley came to head the German Labor Front as independent trade unions were ended and labor organizations subordinated to the Nazi Party.[4]

Elsewhere, Balogh wrote,

“Any form of nationalist populism or populist nationalism that is not explicitly PRO-WHITE AND ANTI-JEW will inevitably be subverted by Jews and turned into the new neoconservativism. Any form of ‘conservatism’ that rejects state power and state authority on principle (which is all conservatism) is built to fail and will always lose to the militant Left. [PRO-WHITE + ANTI-JEW] x STATE POWER = NATIONAL SOCIALISM, the only solution!” [brackets and capitals in original] [5]

Thus, while the National Justice Party dubiously touts itself as the “premier White nationalist organization in the United States,” it is, more specifically, a national socialist outfit – and recall that the name of Adolph Hitler’s party was the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP).[6]

One addition to NJP’s standard white dispossession narrative worth tracking is the effort to cast criticism of white nationalists and racism as “stochastic terrorism” –  a term referring to specific acts of violence spurred when leaders vilify segments of the population – and a term generally applied to bigotry and vitriol expressed by political leaders.

For instance, Tony Hovater absurdly claimed this happens when the media reports on people who “want to start running a homeschool curriculum that isn’t about white self-hatred or Jew worship.”[7]

The Other Side of Middle American Nationalism – NJP’s Push for Housing Discrimination

Tony Hovater articulated a troubling addition to the general targets of the group’s animus. Claiming that the federal government “works overtime” to make sure your rural community “gets diversified,” he continued that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does this through grants for “workforce housing,” referring to federal Section 8 housing vouchers for low-income individuals. Hovater cast this as an “active government program” carried out with “purposeful malice” and the result of “evil bureaucrats choosing who gets to live around you and your family.” More specifically, Hovater said, “For the people that live in, like, around this area, boy, we have some issues with Somalis.”[8]

Tony Hovater at NJP Labor Day Conference.

— IREHR (@IREHR) September 18, 2023

“Our friend here from Fargo,” he continued, “they have a big issue with Liberians.”

Hovater’s shot at Section 8 is not just podium banter. In late August, the NJP mouthpiece, Justice Report, reported that 20 NJP “Supporters and volunteer activists” protested outside the home of Texas State Senator Drew Springer (R-District 30).[9]

NJP “Supporters and volunteer activists” protested outside the home of Texas State Senator Drew Springer

The NJP newsletter explained that it targeted State Rep. Springer because he “helped pass” Texas House Bill 1193, actions the racist organization accuses of “making it illegal for local housing authorities to bar Section 8 tenants from renting in their neighborhoods.” Sans evidence, the Justice Report claimed, “Since Section 8 renters in Texas are overwhelmingly Black, the move has been criticized by some as a way to subject traditionally White neighborhoods with the burden of violent crime.”[10]

In other words, the NJP made clear that their aim is to block Black people from accessing housing in white neighborhoods.

In a world not shaped by national socialist racism, HB 1193 banned discrimination against tenants based on their “method of payment,” a category extending beyond Section 8 vouchers to include “any other federal or state or local housing assistance,” including rental vouchers, rental assistance or “rental subsidies from a nongovernmental organization.”[11]

In fact, among Texas renters receiving federal or state rental assistance in 2022, including Section 8 vouchers, 60.1% were white, 34.2% Black or African-American, 31.5% Hispanic or Latino, and less than 1% each American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, according to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ 2023 Draft State of Texas Low Income Housing Plan and Annual Report.[12]

NJP organizer Ryan James declared that HB 1193, instead of “defending the good people’s protected freedom of association,” supported the “federally subsidized relocation of violent inner-city black criminals into predominantly White suburbs and rural communities of Texas.” James said that Rep. Springer would be “forever branded a traitor to his people” unless he led an effort to stop the bill.[13]

The cry of “freedom of association,” while an important right, was also a common frame mobilized to defend Jim Crow segregation and boost similar efforts in the North.[14]

The bill’s primary sponsors and cosponsors were all Democrats. Rep. Springer is a Republican. NJP’s attack on Rep. Springer is part of a growing trend among white nationalists and far-rightists, assailing moderate Republicans and conservatives to recruit from these ranks and pull them in a more racist and anti-democratic direction.[15]

At the Columbus meeting, NJP Chair Mike Penovich declared the main impediment to white nationalist advancement is “the Republican party and the conservative movement,” explicitly lashing out at National Conservatism and “phony Christian nationalism.”[16]

NJP Chair Mike Penovich

The same weekend the group targeted Rep. Springer’s home, the NJP also protested outside Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mansion against House Bill 3751, which would allow immigrants federally authorized to work and obtain a firearm in the U.S., or whose immigration action has been deferred under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, to “act as deputy sheriff or special policeman for the purpose of preserving the peace.”[17]

In the current public vernacular of national socialists, the Justice Report declared that the bill “paves the way for so-called ‘legal aliens’ and ‘asylum seekers’ to police, arrest, detain, and shoot to kill American citizens.” NJP activist Carson is reported saying, again sans evidence, that “When migrants begin to fill the ranks of our police and correctional officers, crime will not fall. It will rise.”[18]

An earlier Justice Report article on the law had been titled, “Migrants can now become police officers in Jewish-run Illinois.”[19]

These protests outside officials’ homes follow on the heels of NJP mobilizations around other racially-charged issues – such as immigrant resettlement and the murder of 6 people in 2021 by Darrel Brooks Jr., who is African-American, when he drove his vehicle into participants in a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin.[20]

Recruiting from Racism, Building Capacity

Peinovich ended on another note. Citing surveys demonstrating the very real and disturbing persistence of significant racism and distorted thinking about race in the white American public, Peinovich declared, “Our task as the NJP is to find these people and convince them to join us.”[21]

As for capacity, Peinovich claimed that attendance at this year’s event was larger than the 400 the group claimed in 2022. An article in the NJP-allied Hypen-Report claimed 300 to 400 attended in 2022, and a photo posted in the piece showed at least 200 present.[22]

While the NJP has been overshadowed in on-the-ground activism by groups like the Patriot Front and Active Clubs and influence by the Groypers, it does have a base from which to mobilize. In recent months, the group distributed stickers and posters in at least 27 states, according to photographs posted by the group’s “ProMat Division” (1148 subscribers), its contact for “Street Activism.”[23] The NJP’s main Telegram channel has 10,173 subscribers, and it has a women’s auxiliary (Evergreen, 1869 subscribers), The Justice Report (3,870 subscribers), a “Foreign Policy” division (White Papers, 7508 subscribers) and “Dissident Radio.”[24]

And the national socialist group is now undertaking to violate the civil rights of people of color seeking to rent homes or apartments. Anti-racists and civil rights attorneys should pay attention.


[1] The National Justice Party. Telegram. September 9, 2023.

[2] The National Justice Party. Telegram. September 9, 2023.

[3] National Justice Party. About Us. Accessed August 30, 2023; Warren Balogh NJP. May 1, 2023.

[4] See Snyder, Louis L., Dr. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. 1989. New York: Paragon House; Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich in Power. 2005. New York. Penguin Books; Britannica. Robert Ley. Accessed August 30, 2023.

[5] Warren Balogh NJP. October 16, 2022.

[6] The National Justice Party. May 15, 2023.

[7] The National Justice Party. Telegram. September 9, 2023.

[8] The National Justice Party. Telegram. September 9, 2023.

[9] Justice Report. National Justice Party holds demonstrations across the country in run-up to major Labor Day event. August 28, 2023.

[10] Justice Report. National Justice Party holds demonstrations across the country in run-up to major Labor Day event. August 28, 2023.

[11] LegiScan. Bill Text: TX HB1193 | 2023-2024 | 88th Legislature | Enrolled. Accessed August 30, 2023.

[12] Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. 2023 Draft State of Texas Low Income Housing Plan and Annual Report. December 8, 2022. Austin, Texas. These numbers do not add to 100% because of overlap in the “racial” categories such a black and white and “ethnic” categories of Hispanic and Latino.

[13] Justice Report. National Justice Party holds demonstrations across the country in run-up to major Labor Day event. August 28, 2023.

[14] Hartford, Bruce. 2015. “Ghettos, Segregation, & Poverty in the 1960s.” Civil Rights Movement Archive.;  Civil Rights Movement Archive. Bruce Hartford. Accessed August 15, 2023. For instance, Bruce Hartford, a onetime staffer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), wrote, “During the ‘50s and ‘60s, efforts to end housing segregation in the North sparked intense resistance from significant segments of the white population (including some who had supported campaigns in the South for school integration, lunch-counter desegregation, and nonwhite voting rights). Many local governments supported and reinforced pro-segregation attitudes by enacting or strengthening legal barriers that defended ‘property-rights,’ ‘community-standards,’ and so-called rights of ‘free association… Political, economic, and social gains by Blacks and Latinos were portrayed as the illegitimate grabbing of special benefits and privileges at the expense of innocent whites who were (they claimed) the ‘real victims.’ They told white voters that laws, court rulings, public policies, and negotiated agreements prohibiting racial segregation or requiring integration somehow denied them their ‘right of free association.’ By ‘free association’ they meant the ‘right’ to exclude Blacks and other racial minorities from their communities.”

[15] LegiScan. Bill Sponsors: TX HB1193 | 2023-2024 | 88th Legislature. Accessed August 30, 2023.

[16] The National Justice Party.Telegram. September 9, 2023.

[17] TrackBill. Illinois HB3751. MUNI CD-POLICE APPLICANTS. Accessed August 30, 2023.

[18] Justice Report. National Justice Party holds demonstrations across the country in run-up to major Labor Day event. August 28, 2023.

[19] Justice Report. Migrants can now become police officers in Jewish-run Illinois. August 18, 2023.

[20] Crowd Counting Consortium. Love Won. Accessed August 20, 2023; National Justice Party. VIDEO: NJP Waukesha Protest, November 27, 2021. November 29, 2021.; NJP ProMat Division. June 16, 2023.

[21] The National Justice Party.Telegram. September 9, 2023.

[22] Justice Report. National Justice Party holds demonstrations across the country in run-up to major Labor Day event. August 28, 2023.; Jazzhands McFeels. NJP’s Labor Day Rally was America’s Largest Authentic Pro-White Gathering in Decades. Hyphen-Report. September 5, 2022.

[23] The National Justice Party. May 15, 2023.; See NJP ProMat Division. April 1, 2023 to August 30, 2023.    The states where the groups appear active include Louisiana, North Carolina, California, Texas, Tennessee, New York, Minnesota, Virginia, Mississippi, Illinois, Maryland, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Indiana, Arizona, Kentucky, Nevada, Georgia, Michigan, Deleware, and Connecticut.

[24] The National Justice Party. Telegram. Accessed August 30, 2023; The Justice Report. Telegram.; White Papers. Telegram.; Evergreen. Telegram.

The post National Socialist Group Gathered to Plan Attack on Fair Housing appeared first on Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Nurses’ strike in New Brunswick, NJ

Tempest Magazine - Sun, 09/17/2023 - 20:21

The second large strike in a few months is taking place in New Brunswick. In April, it was the workers at Rutgers University. Since August 4, 1,700 nurses at RWJBarnabas Hospital have been on strike. (At the end of the month, the hospital cut off the nurses’ health insurance payments.)

Their top issue is adequate staffing so patients can do well and nurses can have lives. In the many times I have been at their picket lines in the last month, their calls for safe staffing levels dominate their chants. When I talk with nurses on the line, they give example after example of unsafe and unsustainable working conditions. One ICU nurse told me that they had four patients per nurse at the ICU during COVID-19. Another striker said patient load varied from one to two to one to three (pre-strike), though if a nurse gets sick or is on vacation, the ratio is even worse. Another nurse told me of occasions when she was the only nurse at an ICU station, handling admissions when two separate alarms went off and she had to handle two critical emergencies at once. For some ICU cases, the nurses said, it should be one nurse per patient.

Nurses also report untenable working conditions. A striking nurse told me that supervisors bully the workers a lot, and nothing happens when people complain about that. Another nurse (from a different unit), told me, “Sometimes, we want to help a patient, but our body is too sore and tired so we can’t.” She later told me, “I used to go home, watch TV and do other things, and then sleep. Now, I go home and collapse asleep.”

In a similar anecdote, one nurse told me about how they went to a manager to ask for better staffing, and the manager responded, “Get over your COVID hang-up.” This was said to a nurse—a group of workers whom the world hailed as heroes in 2020 are now, in 2023, being harassed, overworked, and told to get over their COVID hang-up.

The striking nurses exhibit a mix of racial and gender diversity, and I have had extended conversations with Filipino, Black, and Asian nurses, as well as white ones. They do have two things in common: All of the strikers are part of USW Local 4-200 and everyone is outraged at how their employer has treated them and their patients.

Besides adequate staffing, other demands include a pay increase and a cap on what they have to pay for health insurance. Since they are part of the Steelworkers Union, they are actively supported by other members of the USW who are working on construction projects for the hospital. These workers continue working under their contracts, but take part in picket lines at lunch and other times.

RWJBarnabas Hospital in New Brunswick is a Level 1 trauma center, which means that the sickest patients are sent there from other hospitals around the region. RWJBarnabas also operates 12 other acute care hospitals, three transitional care hospitals, and three specialty care hospitals outside of New Brunswick. Nurses at these facilities are not on strike. I have not heard of any plans to extend the strike to these other (non-union) facilities—which would undoubtedly be hard to accomplish.

The last time the nurses went on strike, in 2006, they were out for six weeks. Those I have talked with on the picket line expect that it will take something like that to get the hospital to budge from its inadequate offers. Some nurses worry that the hospital is out to break the union and perhaps to “casualize” nursing—that is, to hire nurses temporarily the way colleges hire adjuncts. Earlier this year, some of the nurses walked the picket line at Rutgers along with adjunct instructors, professors and graduate students.

Meanwhile, the hospital in New Brunswick is running on a scab basis. Management at one point claimed that they were running as normal with 1,000 “replacement nurses.” This seems unlikely: Even to maintain normal staffing ratios would imply something like 14 – 18 hour days.  The hospital seems to be putting the patients’ health at considerable risk. The scab nurses, I am told, are staying in local hotels and are being paid salaries well above those normally paid.

One evening, I walked with picketers as they lined up across the street from the buses the strike-breaker nurses used to go back to their hotels. One nurse carried a sign that said “4 scabs equals 1 RWJ Nurse. Shame on you!” The line was quite spirited, as are the nurses’ picket lines at all hours of the day (including late evening and 8 a.m.) when I have been there. I have not heard of efforts to speak to the scabs—or picket them—at their hotels.

The strikers receive a lot of community support. People driving by honk a lot. One evening, a group of us from a small city across the river held a 20+ car drive by in support of the strikers, which was met with considerable enthusiasm by the strikers. At the end of August, there was a march of 50 – 100 community supporters plus 75-125 nurses from Highland Park, NJ, to the hospital (about 1.3 miles)

I might add that, as a former and almost certainly future patient at the hospital, I am totally supportive of their demand for safer staffing. As I say to them on many occasions, to their deep appreciation, “Thank you for trying to keep me alive.”

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons; modified by Tempest.

Categories: D2. Socialism

What happened to the Left in the U.S. labor movement?

Tempest Magazine - Thu, 09/14/2023 - 21:08

TThe recent contract settlement between the Teamsters and UPS continues to spark debate and reflections on the Left. Sam Gindin’s critique published in Jacobin was met with a response from  Barry Eidlin. Gindin responded to Eidlin in The Bullet. In this article, Tempest’s Joe Allen surveys Gindin’s critique and what it means for Teamster activists.

Many people in the U.S. Left feel disoriented following the end of the UPS contract campaign. For the several hundred members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), other socialist organizations, and independent radicals in the Teamsters, the sudden announcement of a Tentative Agreement (TA) between the Teamsters and UPS on July 25 caught many off guard. They expected to be part of the biggest strike in modern U.S. history. The foregoing two weeks of “practice picketing” across the country had generated the strong impression that a strike was imminent. Instead, it all ended with a whimper, not a bang.

The TA was hailed as a historic victory and a game-changer by the Teamsters. The Teamsters and UPS emphasized that it provided some of the largest pay increases in decades for full-time and part-time workers. For many UPS Teamsters, the 1997 strike is a dim memory at best; their experience has largely been that of a weak and moribund union for the past two decades. For the first time in their working lives, the union came alive. This was especially important emerging from the worst years of the pandemic that proved to be a bonanza for UPS. It cracked $100 billion in revenue and a clear profit of $13 billion in 2022 alone.

However, some UPS Teamsters dissented and saw major shortcomings in the TA, including a missed opportunity for further gains in part-timer pay, air conditioning, and excessive overtime. Calls for a no vote by Teamsters Mobilize, a small network of part-timer activists, and a handful of package car union stewards, failed to win over the overwhelming 86.3 percent of UPS Teamsters who voted to ratify the contract.Voting turnout by UPS Teamsters also climbed to 58 percent from 44 percent in 2018.

The Teamster officialdom led by General President Sean O’Brien appears to have recouped some lost credibility in the eyes of the UPS membership. At the same time, how this new historic contract will actually change the daily work life of UPS Teamsters remains to be seen. The shocking death, a day after the ratification vote, of Chris Begley, a fifty-seven-year-old UPS package car driver in Texas served as a reality check on how dangerous it is to work at UPS. According to a local news source:

Begley was delivering a package to a business in Farmersville on Aug. 23 – a day when the highest temperature reached 101 degrees. Heat index values were up to 108 degrees, and a heat advisory was in place.

Begley collapsed to the floor in the Farmersville business and was attended to by those who worked there. He said a UPS supervisor drove to his location in his personal vehicle, left the company truck at the site, and took Begley home. The 57-year-old was later hospitalized and died four days later.

There is literally nothing in the new UPS contract that would have saved his life.

For the U.S. Left, an honest accounting of what took place and why is necessary for the future of not only our political work in the Teamsters but also the broader working-class movement. Labor Notes and TDU quickly rallied to endorse the contract settlement with some qualifications. In the past, they would have either critically examined or, in the case of TDU, even campaigned against it because of its severe shortcomings.

It’s hard to find anyone associated with labor reform politics who has raised any concerns about the UPS contract settlement. Most have publicly embraced it, and the UPS contract campaign appears to be something of a model for the UAW’s current contract campaign against the Big Three automakers. One person who has raised broad-ranging questions is Sam Gindin, and his questions deserve answers.

For the U.S. Left, an honest accounting of what took place and why is necessary for the future of not only our political work in the Teamsters but also the broader working-class movement. Gindin’s critique

Sam Gindin may not be a household name in the U.S., but he is an important figure among labor-Left and socialist intellectuals in North America. The former research director of the Canadian Auto Workers from 1974–2000, he is also co-author (with Leo Panitch) of The Making of Global Capitalism and The Socialist Challenge Today. His book on the history of the Canadian Auto Workers is essential reading. Gindin’s other writings are available here and here.

Gindin’s assessment of the UPS deal will undoubtedly ruffle more than a few feathers. He bluntly wrote,

Against the excited headlines about “ending two-tiers,” the reprehensible secondary status for part-time workers — generally the “inside” workers in the warehouses and a majority of the union members at UPS — remains firmly in place, and the promise of more full-time jobs is little more than a paper commitment. Also, warehouse workers saw little or no attention paid to their working conditions. How then do supporters of democracy and militancy so readily accept a settlement, resolved without a strike, that limits workers’ active resistance for five years?

I think Gindin hits this nail on the head:

“Historic” union victories rarely occur without testing the bosses on a matter of principle through a protracted withdrawal of labor. The agreement clearly includes significant gains, especially in monetary terms, and it is no surprise that members voted to ratify the contract, with an 86 percent yes vote. But the Left’s conspicuous and generally unreserved enthusiasm for the agreement — very few exceptions aside — merits serious questioning.

Gindin captured well the suffocating conformity embraced once a Tentative Agreement (TA) was reached:

The Teamsters quickly declared the agreement “historic,” and the broad left quite generally concurred. Notably, the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), the longtime militant opposition in the union, hailed the agreement. Ditto Labor Notes, prominent since the late 1970s in the rank-and-file struggles for internal democracy and militancy, and influential in the development of TDU.

Not to be left out, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) belatedly jumped on the bandwagon, after initially issuing a brief, neutral statement after the TA was announced. They endorsed the contract after it was ratified by UPS Teamsters on August 22.

Who’s to blame?

Gindin doesn’t shy away from where he thinks much of the blame lies:

What of TDU’s role in this agreement? There was a moment in US labor history when democratization and stubborn resistance challenged the corporate-state determination to decisively weaken the labor movement. Groups like TDU fought back courageously and organized effectively, but they were not immune to the pressures and defeats around them. In that context of demoralization and lowered expectations, it is not all that surprising that TDU came to pin its hopes on the election of Sean O’Brien, a defector from the Hoffa caucus, as the new Teamster president.

Gindin doesn’t disagree with TDU’s choice to endorse Sean O’Brien for the leadership of the Teamsters in the 2021 Teamster election, however:

The problem was not TDU supporting O’Brien over the Hoffa-chosen candidate, especially since the group could not win on its own and running would split the progressive vote. Rather, the issue was that TDU gave up most of its independence in exchange for an influential role in the contract campaign. It was integrated into the O’Brien camp and — despite some independent organizing early in the campaign — became loyal in carrying out the limited bargaining program.

Much of what Gindin says here is true, but I disagreed with the endorsement of the O’Brien-Zuckerman “Teamsters United” Slate in 2021. I always thought it was a false choice. Tom Leedham, who ran with TDU’s support three times against former General President James P. Hoffa, Jr., thought so, too. During an online forum discussing the first Teamsters election debate, Tom Leedham explained:

There’s no reform slate in this [2021] election. People say this is the reform slate with TDU. There’s essentially five candidates [on the Teamsters United slate] that proudly carry a TDU moniker. Two of them will be in non-voting positions. It is so difficult to make anything happen when you have three seats on a 25-person board.

A similar critique of TDU has been made regularly by Tempest writers, including Andy Sernatinger, and by others identified with the revolutionary Left, including Left Voice and Socialist Alternative.

Gindin, however, can’t be dismissed by the broad Left as a sideline commentator with no experience of the trade union movement or as someone unfamiliar with U.S. unions. The fact that his critique was posted in Jacobin tells us that they couldn’t dismiss his article even after the contract ratification.


For Gindin, the Left’s rallying to the contract settlement reveals a deeper problem. He writes:

In its twenty-year retrospective on the 1997 Teamster-UPS confrontation, Labor Notes dubbed the strike “a showdown between union reformers and business unionism.” The 2023 tentative settlement raises the question of whether the former reformers are now — in spite of their impressive history — to be understood as promoting simply a militant variation of business unionism, with all its ultimate limits. The largely unqualified support on the Left for the Teamster agreement seems to reinforce this climbdown.

If Gindin is hoping that Labor Notes and TDU will change their political direction, such a change is hard to imagine. TDU has a comfortable place as a part of the leadership of the Teamsters, while many Labor Notes alums have ascended to high-level staff positions in the UAW. Taking on leadership roles over a period of four decades, members of the International Socialists have traveled at different speeds from the revolutionary Marxism that animated their politics and the rank-and-file strategy that they pursued in their trade union work.

Whether … TDU is no longer a force for rank-and-file power in the union is something that needs to be discussed.

This retreat is especially true in TDU, which had its roots in the radical rank-and-file movements of the 1970s and was responsible for many important democratic reforms beneficial to the Teamster membership. However, TDU has changed over the decades, which have been some of the most difficult years that radicals, socialists, and trade union activists have seen. Many of the founding members of TDU have passed away, including Pete Camarata, the best-known Teamster rebel of the 1970s, or are long retired. Many TDU staffers haven’t been working Teamsters for decades, if ever.

The transformation of TDU has been in the making for many decades, but it’s the last few years that have startled many previous supporters. As I previously wrote in Tempest, “TDU has for the past decade been accommodating itself to a growing number of former Hoffa loyalists hoping to achieve the type of political success that has eluded it since the Carey years in the 1990s.”

For example, at its 2021 convention, the TDU removed the “Rank and File Bill of Rights,” one of TDU’s foundational documents, from its bylaws and constitution. It no longer publishes the $200,000 Club, a popular exposé of bloated officer salaries; it is now done by Teamsterlink.

All of this feels as if TDU is increasingly accommodating itself to its coalition partners in the leadership of the union. Whether this means that TDU is no longer a force for rank-and-file power in the union is something that needs to be discussed.

If the broad U.S. Left’s climb-down on the UPS contract demonstrates anything, it is the need for revolutionary socialists in the United States to reestablish some basic benchmarks, including the centrality of Marxism and the rank-and-file strategy. Gindin’s critique of the state of the U.S. Left in the labor movement is an important contribution enabling an honest assessment of where we are and where we need to go. It should be widely read and discussed.

Featured image credit: Raw Pixel; modified by Tempest.

Categories: D2. Socialism

The DSA moment is over

Tempest Magazine - Tue, 09/12/2023 - 09:41

In 2022, fully two years after Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign and joined with Joe Biden, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) started to grasp that the situation had changed. Not DSA as an organization formally, but its constituent elements: caucuses, associated publications, leaders, and so on. Jacobin’s Bhaskar Sunkara began that year with an editorial describing the situation as being stuck in purgatory: “There is no doubt that we’re at the end of a period of rapid politicization and settling into one of either gradual decline or slow advance.” Scattered throughout the year, a soft debate went on about what socialists should do. Most of these writers did not comment on the state of their organization, but each acknowledged, in their own way, that what had worked since 2016 was not working any longer and things would have to change in the politics and strategy of the organization.

The elephant in the room was that DSA’s fortune had changed, and certainly not for the better. Without elaboration or discussion, National Director Maria Svart announced at the DSA convention in August 2021 that membership growth had “slowed to a trickle.” At the February 2022 National Political Committee (NPC) meeting, DSA Observer reported:

The NPC and staff were realistic in outlining the major challenges DSA currently faces. Staff cited “political malaise” among members, and noted that many chapters were demotivated by political and interpersonal conflict. According to the recent chapter survey, at least a third of chapters are struggling. The staff report also noted that many of their chapters are citing “atrophy and loss” in their desire to engage with national work, and are instead retreating to chapter-level work.

By November 2022, NPC member Jenbo released figures that were damning: in August 2021, DSA had approximately 94,687 constitutional members, 81 percent of whom (77,177) were in good standing. One year later, it lost twelve thousand members in good standing, and the total roster fell to approximately 87,000, only 74 percent of whom were in good standing. In one year, the membership contracted by 15 percent. The 2023 Growth and Development Committee report shows a worse picture still, with 57,982 members in good standing.

A chart showing DSA’s decline in membership—both Constitutional and Members in Good Standing (MIGS)—between February 2020 to January 2023. Image Credit: DSA finance report 2023.

The end of booming growth, loss of membership1In terms of the mechanics of the organization, DSA’s membership figures have always been misleading. Members are held in good standing for one year after they make any dues payment. Members are kept on the roster for two years after that period expires, which DSA reports as part of their total membership figures publicly. This inflated the sense of growth and that a substantial fraction of the membership at any given point had, at minimum, made a dues payment 1-3 years prior., exhaustion of active members, disintegration of chapters, and constant strife on the national leadership are not self-contained problems arising spontaneously and coincidentally. The political moment has shifted, and there is no longer a sense of opportunity and purpose that was easily identifiable in the Trump/Sanders period. In the ensuing period, with Biden in the White House, the exhaustion of the electoral Left internationally, and the far right’s rise, DSA members became disoriented and demoralized with no clear path to advance. Problems that had been tolerated for years became untenable, and DSA as an organization lost its appeal as a dynamic alternative to politics as usual.

An exceptional period

The arc of the new DSA (2016-2020) has been an exception in the organization’s history. For the first thirty-five years of its existence, DSA remained stagnant at approximately six thousand members. It consistently allied with “socialist” Democrats in office, a political orientation that stressed working in the Democratic Party, and a “big tent” organizational model. From its founding in 1982 to 2015, DSA was unsuccessful in growing beyond its initial numbers and was regarded more as a Left AARP rather than a serious organization that attracted new activist layers.

If there was a political change in DSA’s politics, it occurred after the influx of new members, not before. DSA continued doing what it had always done, and somehow it ballooned in size beyond anyone’s expectations—least of all its own. What had changed was largely external to DSA, and by an accident of history DSA became the beneficiary of political currents much larger than itself. This is crucial to understanding DSA as an organization. DSA’s success is not a story peculiar to the United States, nor is it the victory of one set of Left politics over another. The accidental and contingent growth of DSA has been the U.S.-expression of a global political moment, and its trajectory has followed a similar path here as it has elsewhere.

Between 2012 and 2020, “left-reformist”2The term “left reformist” is not intended to be pejorative, but descriptive of a project to the left of social liberalism with a strategic orientation to immediately reforming the existing state as an alternative to austerity. The outlook of left reformism was not that revolution was on the agenda, though acute struggles helped propel them. electoral challenges arose in countries largely in Europe and North America, following the recovery from the global economic crisis. After demonstrating the enormous power of capitalist states to pour trillions of dollars into bailing out private financial firms, traditional parties that governed from the center faced crises of legitimacy that opened up political space both on the far right and the Left. The international Left’s efforts each had their own specific dynamics, but what they represented was an electoral challenge to the political establishment, and each drew largely on politicized youth as their base of support.

Beginning with SYRIZA in Greece, there were the campaigns of Podemos in Spain, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France Insoumise, Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for leadership in the U.K. Labour Party and his narrow defeat against the Tories in 2017, and then Bernie Sanders in the U.S. in 2016 and 2020.

Corbyn and the Labour Party group Momentum were of particular importance to DSA in 2016/2017 as an English-language counterpart and the loose parallel of a democratic-socialist challenge within an established political party for executive office. Young DSA members exchanged political notes directly with Momentum and outlined the campaigns for universal healthcare often with reference to the U.K. experience.

DSA’s trajectory has to be understood as part of [a] greater international tide … The exhaustion of these efforts should be instructive both in terms of the greater dynamic of ruling class resistance to left-reformist challenges, and in the subjective failures of orientation, electoral-primacy, and internal democracy common to all these projects.

By 2020, each of these left reformist efforts had been exhausted, with the far right either victorious or primed for advance. Anticapitalistas, who split from Podemos in Spain, described the rise of the far right that followed:

The reactionary turn in the situation has underlying causes. The first and most decisive is to be found at the international level, in a succession of defeats and capitulations of the left that emerged after the 2008 crisis and which have provoked the rise of a new right: from Syriza in Greece to the integration of Podemos into a government with the PSOE, passing through Corbynism or Sanders. The feeling that remains is that the left is not capable of consolidating stable mass projects or putting forward a programme that it can implement.

DSA’s trajectory has to be understood as part of this greater international tide: objectively, seeing the common catalyst in the crisis of 2007 and the bailouts and austerity pursued by centrist governments that had ruled over neoliberalism for half a century; subjectively, in finding the inspiration for a U.S.-specific project in the efforts in other countries. The exhaustion of these efforts should be instructive both in terms of the greater dynamic of ruling class resistance to left-reformist challenges, and in the subjective failures of orientation, electoral-primacy, and internal democracy common to all these projects.

In 2020, a problem was already clear: it was not possible for DSA to continue as it had for the previous five years. DSA’s basis of unity from 2016-2020 operated on two de facto agreements:

  1. the need to resist the Trump regime; and
  2. the articulation of “left” / social democratic politics in the United States, largely related to Bernie Sanders’ two presidential campaigns.

By the end of 2020, these ceased to exist. Sanders performed far worse in the 2020 primary than he had in 2016, and rather than take his challenge to the Democratic National Convention again, he instead conceded early, endorsed Joe Biden, and vowed to be his staunchest advocate. Nearly overnight, Sanders went from being the “opposition” candidate to being part of the establishment. And then, Trump lost the election. Biden’s election marked the closing of the exceptional period and of the conditions that produced DSA. The end of economic growth and the tech boom that undergirded the period halted as central banks raised interest rates and began an inflationary crisis designed to weigh on workers.

Build Back Better – The end of opposition

In the 2016-2020 period, DSA’s posture was that of an opposition organization: both to Trump and to the Democratic Party leadership. Its success was largely in opposing the consensus that recovery from the 2007 crisis would mean further immiseration, particularly borne out by younger people in the United States. This was spelled out initially in documents published in June 2016, and then developed at the 2017 DSA Convention.

Beginning in 2020, DSA fundamentally shifted its self-conception and posture, mirroring Sanders’ integration into the Biden Administration. DSA’s leadership largely accepted that the path to winning its desired national reforms like Medicare for All, labor reform, and the “Green New Deal” was now through Build Back Better3 “Democrats have spent the year promoting BBB’s benefits for working people, while DSA members fought tirelessly to ensure indispensable climate funding and key pieces of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act were included.” , particularly as Bernie Sanders promoted the legislation. In a statement dated February 10, 2021, the National Political Committee wrote, “This weekend was just the beginning of an intentional shift in our organization … As our top external priority, DSA will embark on a national campaign to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).”

DSA leaders, following Sanders’ lead, went from criticizing leading Democrats to promoting Biden’s Build Back Better agenda as an advance for the Left. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore.

DSA’s membership never voted on this shift. The 2019 Convention voted overwhelmingly not to endorse Biden, but sections of the leadership never accepted that position and worked to subvert the policy and prepared to shift the organization back to its historic lesser evil position. However, the 2019 Convention did not discuss or debate what to do as a contingency if Sanders’ strategy should fail. This ambiguity, combined with the lack of democratic mechanisms within the organization, allowed the National Political Committee (NPC) to reposition the organization without member debate or vote.

By late 2020, DSA had accumulated allied elected officials in Congress, state legislatures, and numerous local governments. The leadership4“Leadership” here is used in a broader sense than simply the elected offices of the National Political Committee (NPC). This includes appointed national leaders, as well as the thinkers who act as the intellectual wing of the leadership in order to rationalize and defend organizational decisions. shifted its rhetoric decisively to the realities of governing, and acted as though it had won government and would need to accept the compromises involved with being in power. Kristian Hernandez, member of DSA’s Steering Committee, submitted,

It doesn’t matter if you’re a socialist, you in practice cannot be because you can’t get anything done. We’re navigating how we actually get things done, how we actually win our demands. I think we’re gonna start contending with the reality of what level of power it takes to actually achieve the things that we wanna do.

Chris Maisano’s essay, “Walking the ‘Perilous Tightrope’” carried the subhead, “How can we effectively balance our two main strategic imperatives—the need to be a “party of opposition” and a “party of government”—at the same time?” Maisano’s essay makes clear that he reserves opposition for Republicans while soft-pedaling criticism of Democrats. Then NPC-member Megan Svoboda put it like this:

Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, is the chairman of the Senate budget committee. We have four DSA members in the US Congress, and many more in elected State offices all over the country. This is in an interesting new political landscape for a growing socialist movement.

The DSA’s plan to realize its programmatic goals became 1) ensuring Build Back Better succeeded and 2) redoubling its support of “socialist” Democrats, such as Congressman Jamaal Bowman. Those objectives informed DSA’s informal mobilization of members to campaign for Senate Democrats in Georgia at the end of 2020, rationalizing its support for Democrats it viewed as necessary for winning a Green New Deal. DSA’s “Workers and the World Unite” campaign articulated its strategy with the slogan:

To solve our climate and economic crises, we need a Green New Deal. To win a Green New Deal, we need mass worker power. To build mass worker power, we need to pass the PRO Act.

On its own terms, this created a series of dependencies on national-level politics that DSA had little power to control.

The DSA strategy for winning labor reform was phone banking U.S. Senators, leading to the embarrassing proclamation that DSA had “flipped Joe Manchin” (never revisited when Manchin torpedoed said legislation not long after). In doing this, DSA deployed its version of Schoolhouse Rock liberalism. What had been DSA as a radical alternative to business-as-usual became a left rationale of and ardent support for Democrats in power. The disastrous consequence of this turn is that it ceded the role of opposition to the far right.

Currying favor with Democratic Party politicians failed to move the needle on passing the PRO Act, Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, or other key reforms championed by DSA. Image credit: @DSAecosocialism.

This strategy of course failed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi separated the social programs and much of the climate spending from the party’s proposed infrastructure bill, allowing for the pretense that Democrats were interested in progressive social programs while ensuring that they failed.

By the 2021 Convention, DSA had no prospects for advancing its national demands. The exhaustion was then codified in the 2021 electoral resolution retreating to state and local races, and distancing the organization from the goal of political independence. During the convention debate, Eric Blanc intervened against “dirty break” positions that he popularized just a few years earlier, using his position as a former-Bernie surrogate to ensure talk of breaking from the Democratic Party stopped dead.

The huge intellectual effort to produce a rationale that could explain away the obvious contradiction of the Democratic Party strategy, whether “dirty break” or “party surrogate,” became strained after Sanders and then collapsed entirely without much reflection. DSA’s electoral orientation shifted to David Duhalde’s slimy “dirty stay5Duhalde later described the “dirty stay” as an impasse between two positions: realignment and dirty break, where he argued to abandon breaking from the Democratic Party entirely in favor of a permanent orientation within the Democratic Party.,” which rhetorically draws on the previous position but, in his own words,

is just using existing apparatus without necessarily seeking to transform the Democratic Party or even become a formalized faction. Importantly, it means avoiding or at least not taking necessary steps to build a new socialist party.

Dissent in the ranks

The first signs of dissatisfaction with the post-Sanders turn came in 2020, following DSA’s approach to the protest movement following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The conflict was somewhat hidden because it was borne out at the chapter level. Political lines were drawn over abolitionist anti-racism and social democratic “universalism”; that strife split the active layers of many DSA chapters.

After the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests were finally suppressed by the state, DSA activity was moved from the streets into local government, with contests over budgets, legislation, and elections. The fierce internal struggles over direction only became visible nationally during the 2021 Convention’s delegate races, where delegate slates suggested a referendum on chapter leaderships during BLM. The 2021 Convention, however, was tightly constrained and did not address the new political situation under Biden or a strategy for DSA.

But just because it wasn’t talked about, didn’t mean that the tensions were resolved. Less than two months after the Convention, DSA was wracked over the votes and propaganda activities of DSA-endorsed House Representative Jamaal Bowman. Joel Reinstein anticipated this scenario three years earlier:

Access to Democratic politicians is absolutely going to come into conflict with the boycott, and Palestine activists will come under intense pressure to put the boycott in the backseat in exchange for “real political power.”

The particulars of the situation have been discussed at length, but are noted briefly here given the enormous significance the “Bowman Affair” had on DSA. Starting in October 2021, 52 DSA chapters and 11 YDSA chapters, as well as the BDS & Palestine Working Group (BDSWG), Afrosocialists & Socialists of Color and Muslim caucuses all came out in favor of expelling Bowman for the clear and unapologetic actions he took against the Palestinian struggle and DSA’s own positions. While members of the Socialist Majority and Bread and Roses caucuses petitioned against expulsion, no similar bodies of DSA voted to support Bowman. In December 2021, the NPC announced that it would not expel Bowman. Instead, the leadership disciplined the membership, de-chartering the BDSWG and suspending its leadership; NPC member Austin Gonzalez resigned from DSA in protest.

The Bowman Affair had the effect of taking DSA from malaise to crisis. The membership graph above shows that the decline in membership has a sharp dip that roughly coincides with the events beginning in the fall of 2021. The irony is that while the DSA Right mobilized to defeat democratic proposals like referendum and NPC recall, these devices would have spared the organization a bitter feud by putting the question to a deciding vote. The NPC could have even given a rhetorical slap on the wrist to Bowman that would have vented some frustration without a significant shift.

Instead, the NPC’s heavy-handed defense of Bowman and suppression of the BDSWG only deepened the crisis and further polarized the organization, leading to disenchantment and a wave of resignations or “soft quits” (ceasing activity and refusing to renew membership), while simultaneously losing the confidence of pro-Palestinian organizations. Reports from the NPC itself showed dysfunction at best and political corruption at worst. The lesson for a considerable number of DSA members was that the organization had dug in on Democratic Party politics at the expense of principled issues and organizational democracy. Given the tremendous effort and mobilization of members, chapters, and internal bodies of DSA that had been rebuffed by the leadership, it had become clear that certain politics were no longer welcome in DSA. As noted at the beginning of this essay, DSA staff then reported in early 2022 that “at least a third of chapters are struggling.” The staff report also noted that many DSA chapters were experiencing “atrophy and loss” in their desire to engage with national work. It is impossible to draw a straight causal line, but it is not difficult to surmise what happened.


In June 2020, the NPC announced their intent to “launch a long term process of consolidating DSA,” allowing greater direct control over the organization by the leadership. The political insertion of the NPC’s will has already been discussed, but this resulted in a series of “NPC recommendations” to the 2021 DSA convention, which make national committees appointed by the national leadership rather than selected from within their ranks, introduce trusteeship of local chapters, and expand the organization’s paid staff.

The Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC) was stripped of its ability to elect its leaders, replaced with NPC appointments, and renamed the National Labor Commission (NLC). DSA’s Ecosocialism Working Group was supplanted by the centrally-controlled Green New Deal Campaign Committee (GNDCC), with an explicit turn towards Biden in its rationale6 “Biden administration’s next major spending bill on infrastructure will be the first legislation of this presidency with an explicit climate focus, which could commit trillions to green infrastructure and begin reshaping the entire physical landscape of this country over the next decade”. The Ecosocialist Working Group—guided in part by the revolutionary indigenous “Red Deal” that was endorsed by convention delegates in 2019—had a broader scope than Green New Deal legislation. GNDCC’s exclusive jurisdiction meant that the Red Deal and other ecosocialist efforts were disbanded nationally. This makes clear that the “organizational” consolidation was always political and necessitated the powers of the NPC to politically redirect DSA towards narrow electoral ends.

This marks the consolidation of DSA into a kind of social democratic sect, with a prescribed range of acceptable politics policed in the organization … The process has largely been completed with the 2023 convention, a process tightly controlled from the top and politically narrowed to negotiating what kind of electoralism to pursue.

Winter 2021 marked the beginning of the ideological shift towards a specific concept of social democracy and the closing of the political space in DSA, particularly in response to the Bowman Affair. While Dustin Guastella had earlier argued against “fringe positions,” Ken Barrios has pointed out that this became a common refrain, with Ramsin Cannon decrying “ultraliberalism,” Bhaskar Sunkara calling out “hyper politics,” and Bread and Roses’ Neil Meyer warning of “dogmatism.” NPC member Sydney Ghazarian and others from the NPC majority advanced that there was a Trotskyist conspiracy behind the Bowman Affair from which they needed to protect the organization. The consensus among leadership layers and caucuses was that it was time to adjust the bounds of the “big tent.” Susan Chacin, writing for Socialist Forum, argued,

It’s not okay to chant “Eat the rich!” or “Defund the police!” if doing so alienates people we could attract. If we only support avowedly socialist candidates, it can isolate us from community movements that have local working class support. Calling for the founding of a labor party in today’s political landscape marks DSA members as wildly unrealistic.

Positions like those of Chacin, from the old guard of DSA, found new purchase in the organization since they now aligned politically with what DSA was already doing in practice. At the same time, veterans of the 1960s New Left began writing articles intervening in DSA, such as Peter Olney and Rand Wilson, Max Elbaum, and others who had moved decisively to the right on political independence in favor of “progressive” Democratic Party politics decades earlier7See Robert Brenner”The Paradox of Social Democracy”: “‘We were ultra-left,’ say the ex-Maoists, who have forsaken the ‘New Communist Movement’ in order to invade the Harold Washington and Jesse Jackson campaigns. ‘We have to get out of the sandbox into the real world,’ say the ex-CP realpolitikers who have joined DSA in order more effectively to implement the old popular front line inside the Democratic Party. What all this means, in brief, is that to be practical you have to relate to the Democratic Party, since that’s where the action is.” .

By the end of 2022, the fight over direction in DSA was essentially over. Moving from anti-imperialism to domestic labor politics, the Rail Deal passed with some muted grievances, but nothing that came close to the mobilization over the Bowman Affair. While the Squad voted to break the strike and force a contract on the rail workers, DSA had already pledged itself to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) in anticipation of a strike at UPS that would not materialize. The tangled interests amounted to a quiet passing of the rail contracts and a statement of disappointment, but no strategic reflection in DSA8DSA’s leadership marked the occasion by further committing to electoral strategy, with no policy shifts. “As we approach significant labor struggles next year, DSA members in office must use their position to advance labor long before bills even make it to the floor by holding town halls and panels with rank-and-file workers, helping organize rallies in support of a better contract, fundraising for strike funds to embolden workers to take more militant action, reading the words of workers into the congressional record, and hosting press conferences encouraging constituents to see strikers as a model and organize in their own workplaces.”.

Bread and Roses member Laura Wadlin expressed the new commonsense in DSA, “The horse is out of the barn with our … electeds.” She goes on to say that accountability for elected officials is no longer an expectation or desire within DSA. “I think, in the year of our Lord 2022, we are all electoralists now,” stated former NPC appointee Marvin Gonzalez in an interview with Dissent magazine’s Sam Adler-Bell; Adler-Bell continued, “This, Gonzalez told me, is the real strategic conflict in DSA—not between electoralists and non-electoralists, but among different varieties of electoralism.”

This marks the consolidation of DSA into a kind of social democratic sect, with a prescribed range of acceptable politics policed in the organization9n theory one can still be a member of DSA and orient around local work outside of elections, but there is no longer space for members to shift the overall direction of the organization if it runs counter to the group’s electoral priorities.. As Charlie Post put it,

[T]he rightward drift of DSA and almost all of its leading caucuses is a clear practical repudiation of the futile attempts to find a third way between realignment and the hard work of preparing for a clean break with the Democrats.

The process has largely been completed with the 2023 convention, a process tightly controlled from the top and politically narrowed to negotiating what kind of electoralism to pursue. Dissolving the BDSWG, the standard-bearers for upholding political positions, makes the point starkly.

The moment is over

The main conclusion to draw is that the DSA moment is over. The moment was when DSA became a center of the U.S. left, drew divergent tendencies into a single organization, and had a dynamic life that seemed much more like a social movement in terms of its creativity, bottom-up organizing, and transformative radical vision. This time has clearly passed, and the prospect of DSA making a radical course change has been foreclosed.

Breaking from the Democratic Party is not an automatic process borne from “internal contradictions,” and it is not a feat accomplished by deferring. Political independence is won by those who are committed to it in the here and now, who always press for the maximum independence possible, and organize towards that goal … In brief, there is no dirty break. The DSA experience proved this in theory and in practice …

That DSA, a stale, right-wing social democratic organization, would become the home of a strange rebirth of socialism was something no one anticipated. The potential of the DSA moment might have been realized by using this exceptional time to establish an independent socialist opposition, transforming it into a broad socialist organization capable of intervening in social struggles and promoting a class-struggle alternative within U.S. politics.

The task within DSA was to make the most of a moment that had a definite timeline and prepare membership with a longer-term vision that was not dependent on political actors or events outside of its ability to control. This required rapid democratization of an organization that was designed to concentrate power at the top; equalization of information and access; developing a historical perspective; and leadership that could see beyond the immediate conjuncture and prepare for the inevitable. DSA was never going to be a revolutionary organization, but revolutionaries could play an important and leading part. In turn, the larger Left could provide an expanded audience and the activity required for masses of people to reach revolutionary conclusions. Robert Brenner notes, “The expansion of working-class self-organization, power, and political consciousness, dependent in turn upon working-class mass action, has provided the critical condition for the success of reformism as well as of the far left.”

Instead, DSA leaders disarmed the suspicion of Democrats that had fueled the interest in a socialist alternative to begin with and tailed the Democratic Party in search of more immediate wins. Particularly after 2019, leadership factions worked to consolidate DSA organizationally and politically to ensure it was best suited for its role as a Democratic Party-hanger on. Both chapters and the national organization became bureaucratic nightmares, controlled by caucuses that filled in the lack of democratic mechanisms in DSA with private control of insider information, debates, and decision-making. These groups continue to obscure the role they play and deny that there is a dynamic of unequal power within the organization. The result is an NGO-type organization whose democratic process puts the worst unions to shame.

Many of the lessons are simple, even classic ones, but need to be said again. Breaking from the Democratic Party is not an automatic process borne from “internal contradictions,” and it is not a feat accomplished by deferring. Political independence is won by those who are committed to it in the here and now, who always press for the maximum independence possible, and organize towards that goal. It is a conscious, subjective process, and it will not happen unless there is a political effort to accomplish it. In brief, there is no dirty break. The DSA experience proved this in theory and in practice: conceptually, the timeline of a break was initially tied to the Sanders campaign, extended ten years, then to fifty years, and finally dropped entirely. No “independent” infrastructure was ever created; no independent campaigns were run.

The ideology of DSA evolved to justify the real activity, which acclimated to the electoral cycle and limited its vision to what was electorally viable. Beyond the immediate turns, the ideology of “democratic socialism” presented itself as a new phenomenon—a Left that transcended all the problems of prior lefts, superior to the revolutionary Left, vindicated by its size and those in its orbit. The triumphalism of this ideology has made it prone to delusional claims (e.g. Manchin) and unable to account for obvious setbacks.

But beginning with the emphasis on “non-reformist reforms,” democratic socialism is nothing new. The concepts were developed by Ralph Miliband, Andre Gorz, Nicos Poulantzas, Michael Harrington, Eurocommunism, and the Socialist Register school. Most of these thinkers were explicit in wanting an alternative to revolutionary strategy; the best of them were honest that their theories of achieving governmental power would almost inevitably require revolution if they were successful, as the bourgeoisie would not accept them. Today’s democratic socialism borrows many of the concepts, but has deployed them even farther to the right to opportunistically attach itself to incremental changes in the twenty-first century.

In the end, DSA as an organization will continue, despite the crisis it now faces. It existed for decades before the moment, and even in decline it will likely be around for some time to come. Whatever ground was gained in 2017 seems to have been lost: there is no longer any serious discussion of independence; Palestinian solidarity is barely a commitment even in name; a permeationist monster now masquerades wearing the face of the “rank and file strategy”; and scores of Black and Brown radicals have disavowed the group. Undoubtedly, there are and will be many strong activists in DSA who should not be written off. But it should be clear that this is no longer a project that will advance class independence or serve as a much needed opposition.

What comes next is the very hard question. But we can’t begin until we’ve come to terms with the moment we face now.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Socialism from below

Tempest Magazine - Mon, 09/11/2023 - 21:03

The following is modified from a talk given by Anthony Arnove at the Northeast Marxism Day School on June 16, 2023. The New York City event was one of a series organized nationally by the Tempest Collective. The talk kicked off a discussion based on a series of readings with the theme “Socialism from Below.” As the visions of a socialist future among the newest generation of radicals continue to be dominated by the illusions of social democracy and the delusions of Stalinism, this remains an issue of ongoing relevance.

In considering what we mean by socialism from below, I want to start with an important insight from volume 1 of Hal Draper’s critical Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution: “What goes by the name of Marxism nowadays, like as not, has little to do with Marx’s views, in general or on any particular subject.”

We don’t have to look far to see examples of people who call themselves socialists and Marxists who have a fundamentally different conception of what that means from the understanding that guides our political practice at Tempest.

And that’s why we cannot just say, “We are all socialists, what’s the big deal?” but need, as Draper suggests, to be clear about what we mean by socialism. We need to be able to say why we feel socialism from below is the hope for revolutionary transformation of society, not this or that version of socialism from above.

So, I’d like to make a few arguments about what I think this means practically. The first is that socialism from below is a revolutionary political standpoint.

If you want a definition of revolution, you can’t do much better than the description offered by Leon Trotsky in his magisterial account of the Russian Revolution:

The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business — kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own interference the initial groundwork for a new régime…. The history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.

“Rulership over their own destiny”: Trotsky here is echoing Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who in the Communist Manifesto describe revolution as the “forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

Revolution is the forcible entry of the masses onto the stage of history–not just for a moment to topple one regime so that a new elite can emerge in its place, as we have seen so often in history, but to fundamentally transform the nature of political power.

That is, revolution is an act of self-emancipation, the vast majority acting in the interest of the vast majority, not a minority acting on its own or anyone else’s behalf. Self-emancipation is fundamental to the Marxist idea of revolution and to the project of socialism from below.

In the words of the Communist Manifesto:

All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air.

Whereas under genuine socialism, “In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

I think there is no better summation of what we envision by socialism or communism than those few last words. As Engels puts it, “Our notion, from the very beginning, was that ‘the emancipation of the workers must be the act of the working class itself.’”

But as the Palestinian socialist Tony Cliff wrote in 1952 of the regimes established through force by Joseph Stalin as Socialist Republics, “The ‘People’s Democracies’ are based on a different conception. A bureaucratic police dictatorship has raised itself above the people, and is independent of its will, while claiming to govern in its interests.”

For those who follow Stalin’s model, socialism no longer means workers’ power but nationalized property, even though the equation “state ownership equals socialism” is a complete departure from the Marxist tradition.

The same is true of various models of social democracy. As Draper notes in his essay “Socialism from Below”, speaking of the connection between Stalinism and social democracy, “The two self-styled socialisms are very different, but they have more in common than they think,” in that both focus on control of the state and making changes from above to bring about socialism. As Draper rhetorically asks, “The state owns the means of production — but who ‘owns’ the state? Certainly not the mass of workers, who are exploited, unfree, and alienated from all levels of social and political control.”

Again, this is certainly not how Marx or Engels saw the matter. This is why Marx spoke of smashing the state and the withering away of the state.

In Anti-Dühring, Engels wrote that if “statification” equals socialism, “then Napoleon and Metternich are to be counted among the founders of socialism” for nationalizing tobacco production. The key to understanding a society is not the abstract form of property, but the actual class relations defining the social relations of production.

Another key element of socialism from below is its understanding of revolutionary agency. The French socialist Michael Löwy notes, “Marx cut the Gordian knot of the philosophy of his age by declaring … that change in circumstances, and transformation of consciousness, coincide in revolutionary praxis.”

From this idea flows, rigorously and coherently, Marx’s new conception of revolution. Only through their own experience, in the course of their own revolutionary praxis, can the exploited and the oppressed shatter the external “circumstances” that enslave them–capital and the state—as well as shatter their formerly mystified consciousness. In other words, no true emancipation exists apart from self-emancipation.

From this point of view, the famous slogan of the Founding Manifesto of the International Workingmen’s Association–“The emancipation of the working class will be the task of the working class itself”—sums up, with laconic conciseness, the innermost core of Marxist political thought. As self-liberating praxis, revolution is simultaneously a radical change in economic, social and political structures and the realization, by the victims of the system, of their true interests, the discovery of new, radical and libertarian ideas, aspirations and values.

Within this conceptual framework of revolution, which is of course tied not only to the seizure of power but to an entire uninterrupted historic period of transformation as well, there is no room, from the standpoint of the argument itself, for any “Supreme Savior” (“neither Caesar nor Tribune”). Marx’s philosophy of praxis is intrinsically hostile to all authoritarianism, substitutionism or totalitarianism. Of all the manipulations, deformations and falsifications that Marxism has endured, undoubtedly the worst were produced courtesy of Stalinist bureaucratic Caesarism, which was no “theoretical deviation” but a monstrous system of monopoly power wielded by a parasitic “estate.”

For Marx, contradiction and human agency are central to understanding —and transforming—the world. Thus, as the preface to The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx stresses:

[Joseph] Proudhon, for his part, seeks to represent the coup d’état as a result of an antecedent historical development. Unnoticeably, however, his historical construction of the coup d’état becomes a historical apologia for its hero. Thus he falls into the error of our so-called objective historians. I, on the contrary, demonstrate how the class struggle in France created circumstances and relationships that made it possible for a grotesque mediocrity to play a hero’s part.

The starting point of Marx’s approach to history is the centrality of class struggle, that is, subjective and contingent human agency. And as Stuart Hall reminds us in his essay “For a Marxism Without Guarantees,” there is certainly nothing automatic or inevitable about socialism emerging from capitalism. Our situation is best described by Rosa Luxemburg—either we can have socialism, which must be actively struggled for, or we will have barbarism.

But what Marx struggled with throughout his life-and what we as socialists today confront-is a very practical question: How do we build a new society, a classless society, from the existing conditions presented by capitalism?

It is not that Marx and Engels were the first people to ask this question. The dominant tradition of socialist politics before them was elitist. It believed that socialism would either come about through the action of a small group of enlightened intellectuals who would carry out a revolution on behalf of the oppressed, or it held that socialism would be achieved through a gradual process of enlightenment and betterment until people, including owners of factories, landowners, and politicians would voluntarily choose socialism.

As Marx put it in the Communist Manifesto, “The proletariat, then still in its infancy, offered [these early Socialists] the spectacle of a class without any historical initiative or any independent political movement.” It was perhaps to be pitied, but it was certainly not seen as a revolutionary class.

Marx’s approach was fundamentally different. What we see if we examine Marx’s life, his practical involvement in political struggles, and his commitment to the self-emancipation of the working class is that, at every stage, the development of his thought is shaped by the concrete problems thrown up by the international workers’ movement.

Marx developed the first outlines of his ideas about working-class self-emancipation only after moving to Paris in the early 1840s and becoming involved in the most militant and creative organizations of workers then emerging in France. And while Marx was working toward an understanding of the working class as the revolutionary class under capitalism, Engels was having a similar experience in England, as the working-class Chartist movement rose to brilliant heights and was defeated.

Later, we see that Marx’s ideas about a future socialist society were changed significantly by the historic struggle of workers in Paris, who, in 1871, seized power and established the Paris Commune for 71 days before it was brutally crushed. It was in the new forms of workers’ democracy created by the Paris Commune that Marx saw the practical forms of socialism from below — and it was also here that Marx saw for the first time that “the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes,” but that they would need to actually create new democratic forms of decision-making and representation.

Poster of the Paris Commune (1871); by anonymous artist.

I want to turn for a moment to the common criticism that Marx did not issue a blueprint. This is partly the flip side of the idea (held by many on the right, as well as the Left) that he did issue a blueprint — and it was realized in the Soviet Union. In fact, Marx and Engels consciously rejected the blueprint approach because they saw it as elitist and as a political dead end.

This is how they frame the issue in the Communist Manifesto: “

The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.

Marx and Engels here are arguing that any future socialist society needs to emerge from the activity of workers fighting for that society. However, Marx was also very clear that our ideas, our political practice, our imagination are all conditioned by capitalism, even as we work to dismantle it. For example, today neoliberal thinking runs rampant in leftist movements and organizations, even among people who formally criticize neoliberalism.

Marxists, contrary to the common critique of them, have a humility about this fact. Marx summed up this humility in the third of his eleven “Theses on Feuerbach”:

The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances … forgets that circumstances are changed by [people] and that it is essential to educate the educator…. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.

We change in struggle. Our ideas change. Our potential changes. And if one takes that idea seriously, I think a few conclusions follow.

One is that our own understanding of the future socialist society today is necessarily limited — and any models we draw up based on that understanding will be necessarily limited. It will be up to the people forging socialism to properly realize the potential of a truly emancipated society. We can gesture toward some of the basic principles: a society based on cooperation rather than competition, a system that prioritizes people and the planet rather than profit, and a society that maximizes human creativity while holding an expansive view of human needs, limiting the drudgery of work, and more, but we can’t say exactly how to do so.

Second is that we cannot rely on revolutionary slogans to advance our project. We cannot “substitute the catchword of revolution for revolutionary development,” as Marx argued in a debate within anarchists in the Communist League in 1850. As Hall reminds us, this is a problem among many people who identify with Marxism in the here and now, too.

Marx criticized radicals who

regard not the real conditions but a mere effort of will as the driving force of the revolution. Whereas we say to the workers: “You will have to go through 15, 20, 50 years of civil wars and national struggles not only to bring about a change in society but also to change yourselves, and prepare yourselves for the exercise of political power.”

There are no shortcuts, there is no gradual path, no idyllic path, to socialism. And no parliamentary road to socialism either, as the social democrats believe.

A logical corollary of this is that we do not imagine that Tempest is the embryo of the future socialist society. Instead, the broad perspective of socialism from below holds that capitalism, by its very nature, breeds opposition and resistance on a global scale; that millions, indeed billions of people, will move into struggle; and that our highest aspiration is to be among those people when they do, regrouping, reorganizing, debating, arguing, and collaborating to best advance the struggle for revolutionary change; and, we hope, finding in the lessons of the past, and in the best of our tradition, critical ideas to help that struggle succeed. That is, we make the future by fighting for it.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons; modified by Tempest.

Categories: D2. Socialism

Sam Bushman’s Liberty Roundtable Runs Ad for Christian Identity Group

On July 8, Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) CEO Sam Bushman broadcast his Liberty Roundtable from the neo-Confederate store, Dixie Republic, in South Carolina. On that same day, the Christian Identity-led and secessionist League of the South hosted an event at the Traveler’s Rest store.

As if on cue to signal his commitment to promoting hardcore racists and antisemites, Bushman’s show ran an ad for Christ Kingdom Ministries “brought to you by” The ad declared,

“My name is Christian Knuckles. I prophesize there will be no revival until the Church leadership stops lying to the people. I’m the first soldier of the spiritual body of Christ. The Lion of Judah, the Confederate Church of Christ. I’m here to declare the Lion will lie down with the lamb when the lying stops. A message from Christ Kingdom Ministries, and brought to you by”[1]

The Confederate Church of Christ, run by “Christian Knuckles,” is a proponent of the virulently racist and antisemitic Christian Identity pseudo-religion holding that whites are Biblical Israel, Jews Satanic imposters, and people of color inferior. Making this clear in its self-description, the Confederate “church” writes,

“The Beast HATES the white race, because we are the Christian race – the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel who FOLLOW the Savior of True Israel….Esau HATES Jacob with an unfounded hatred…Jesus separated the Sheep, True Israel, from the Goats, that is, from the Children of Esau, the Red, masquerading as the Children of Jacob-Israel. But now, they have deceived the world, especially the church, into confusion about their identity. They claim to be ‘the Chosen People,” but they reject the Savior of the chosen people… That Jesus separated us, in fact, helped the Christians cope with their evil, to wit: Christian Kings segregated those SNAKES from Christian Society by putting them in ghettoes to which Jews were consigned by Royal Decrees in all the Gentile Nations of Europe during the Middle Ages… The Snakes have hated the White Race since Esau (the Red) hated Jacob (the White), over 1000 years before Christ…The Beast is the Body of Satan, even as the church is the Body of Christ. They hated Hitler, before he was born. What Hitler did was, in fact, ‘Pay them back, in kind’ for the horror of the Great War; That is the World War for World Government – 1914 -1945.”[2]

On the people-of-color as inferior front, Knuckles writes,

“Do you like Air Conditioning? . . . Thank the White Race. Air conditioning was developed by European Scientists, including White Americans, studying Thermodynamics. Do you like Trains and Planes and Automobiles? Thank the White Race. The Asians can copy, but they cannot originate modern technology. (Why do the Chinese steal American technology?) All technology begins in the revelations of God to His true People; thus, God Blesses the world through the minds of White Men.”[3]

The Liberty Roundtable’s promotion of this Christian Identity church continues a pattern of CSPOA leaders affiliating its cause with white nationalism – including Christian Identity. In 1995, Richard Mack spoke at a meeting of the Idaho-based Christian Identity group America’s Promise, held in Prescott, Arizona.

At the event, Mack promoted his book From My Cold Dead Fingers: Why America Needs Guns, which includes the racist lie that “The Rev. Jesse Jackson types and the NAACP have done more to enslave Afro-Americans than all the southern plantation owners put together.”[4]

Rather than an anomaly, this is a pattern for the far-right and pro-paramilitary CSPOA. The group also includes former Maryland leader of the League of the South on its board; carried out a 2021 national tour with an ardent antisemite; features a regular trainer who believes the 14th and 15th Amendments are “unlawful” and has spoken at a League of the South event; has maintained a long-standing relationship with the insurrectionist Oath Keepers, and more.[5]

In 2019, Sam Bushman featured League of the South President Michael Hill, also a Christian Identity adherent, telling the leader of the white nationalist and secessionist group, “We know about the League of the South, we’re grateful for your work…Tell your members that we salute them from the Liberty Roundtable Live, would you please.”[6]


[1] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 1 – 7/08/2023. July 7, 2023.

[2] Confederate Church of Christ. About Us. Accessed August 11, 2023. The group’s website made clear that this is a Christian Identity group: “The Beast HATES the white race, because we are the Christian race – the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel who FOLLOW the Savior of True Israel. This is NOT to say that no one else can become a Christian, but it is to say, that we were/are the Sheep, the First Christian Race…Why do you think the “Power of the Air,” the media shows so much HATRED for the White Race? … It’s because Esau HATES Jacob with an unfounded hatred… Again, the BEAST HATES the Truth because the Truth SETS US FREE FROM THEM!! Jesus separated the Sheep, True Israel from the Goats, that is: From the Children of Esau, the Red, masquerading as the Children of Jacob-Israel. But now, they have deceived the world, especially the church into confusion about their identity. They claim to be ‘the Chosen People,” but they reject the Savior of the chosen people… That Jesus separated us, in fact, helped the Christians cope with their evil, to wit: Christian Kings segregated those SNAKES from Christian Society by putting them in ghettoes to which Jews were consigned by Royal Decrees in all the Gentile Nations of Europe during the Middle Ages… The Snakes have hated the White Race since Esau (the Red) hated Jacob (the White), over 1000 years before Christ. They hated Jesus Christ, and now, they hate the Body of Christ, even Christianity. Their hatred knows no bounds. They are Lawless, Liars, and Murderers. They embody the Spirit of Satan. The Beast is the Body of Satan, even as the church is the Body of Christ. They hated Hitler, before he was born. What Hitler did was, in fact, ‘Pay them back, in kind’ for the horror of the Great War; That is the World War for World Government – 1914 -1945. But, the Beast thinks they can do no wrong. They always think of themselves as VICTIMS, and so, they think they are justified in their unjust acts of hatred: called revenge against Jacob, now Christian Israel…”

[3] Christian Knuckles. TWO KINDS of Jews: Sheep & Goats How the REDS became LEFTISTS. Confederate Church of Christ. Accessed August 24, 2023.

[4] Zeskind, Leonard. Johnson County sheriff supports extremists with documented ties to white supremacists. The Kansas City Star. July 21, 2022.

[5] For Michael Peroutka’s position in CSPOA, see Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Our Leadership. Accessed August 25, 2023.

[6] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 2 – 6/29/2019. June 29, 2019.

The post Sam Bushman’s Liberty Roundtable Runs Ad for Christian Identity Group appeared first on Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Categories: D2. Socialism

CSPOA, Dixie Fest, and the League of the South

On July 8, Sam Bushman, CEO of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), took his Liberty Roundtable radio show on the road to Travelers Rest, South Carolina, to take part in “Dixie Fest”—a now annual event hosted by the neo-Confederate store, Dixie Republic.

Bushman’s broadcast occurred on the same day and at the same location as the “League of the South’s Dixie Fest Conference,” in the words of a video circulated by the Florida chapter of the antisemitic, white nationalist, and secessionist group.

Bushman’s broadcast highlighted the ongoing relationship between the CSPOA leader and the League of the South. It also highlighted some of the reasons for this coalition –including an embrace of southern nationalism and the Confederacy, a full-throated defense of Confederate monuments, the repetition of ideas once mustered to defend Jim Crow segregation, and, disturbingly, the promotion of the virulently racist and antisemitic Christian Identity pseudo-theology.

Sam Bushman at Dixie Fest

The CSPOA leaders’ first guest was “Manse Jolly,” the apparent owner of Dixie Republic who used his time on Bushman’s show to recount the origins of Dixie Fest. Jolly explained that the event had started “a few years ago” to “kinda poke Nimarata [Nikki] Haley, our former governor, in the eye. She took down our flag.”

After years of dismissing the issue, and after the June 17, 2015 murder of nine Black churchgoers by racist Dylann Roof, and after the release of photos of Roof holding a Confederate Flag, on July 9, 2015, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley had signed a bill removing the Confederate flag from the Capitol.[1]

When Bushman asked, “Why would she take down the flag. What kind of political statement is that, sir?” the following ensued:

Jolly: “Well, if she wanted to further her political career, the powers that be told her that needed to come down off the Capitol.”

Bushman: “What needs to come down?”

Jolly: “The Southern Cross, the battle flag, the Confederate flag.”

Bushman: “So she’s against Jesus. Is that what we’re saying?”

Jolly: “I guess so, her name’s Nimarata.”

Bushman: “Wow, Nimrod Biblically was against Jesus, so there you go.”

Jolly: “She wanted to dictate to the native (sic) people here what our culture should be. And she’s just an interloper.”

Bushman: “Carpetbagger?”

Jolly: “Probably…I know her family, I think, were the, uh, first generation to come here, from India.”

Bushman: “So, the bottom line is she comes from out of country, decides that she’s gonna dictate policy, rejects the local viewpoints and understandings, she misunderstands the intent of the flag, right?”

Jolly: “Yeah, that pretty much sums it up, but that goes to 99% of the people. They just government-educated or government-indoctrinated. The victors write the narrative.”

In summary, despite being born in Bamberg, South Carolina, making her a U.S. citizen under the 14th Amendment, Bushman concluded that Nikki Haley had come “from out of the country” and was a “carpetbagger;” and that because she eventually supported the removal of the most widely known symbol of the slave-owning Confederacy, Haley was “against Jesus.”

As if on cue to drive home his commitment to promoting hardcore racists and antisemites, Sam Bushman’s show ran an ad for Christ Kingdom Ministries “brought to you by” The Confederate Church of Christ, run by “Christian Knuckles,” is a proponent of the virulently racist and antisemitic Christian Identity pseudo-religion holding that whites are Biblical Israel, Jews Satanic imposters, and people of color inferior.[2]

Bushman’s next guest was Eddie Miller of Blood River Radio—a show centered on the white nationalist lie of “the rising tide of global White genocide.” Miller primarily uses the program to push the fallacy that genocide is taking place against whites in South Africa.[3]

Bushman described, “Well, we’re celebrating the 5th year anniversary [of Blood River Radio]. We ate dinner last night. Had a broadcast to celebrate.”[4]

Bushman kicked off his second hour with more examples of the ideological terrain on which white nationalists and CSPOA-style far-rightists are finding common ground – in addition, that is, to KrisAnne Hall-style “constitutionalism” and deeming the slave-owning Confederacy a positive example of Christianity.

Offering up the kind of revisionist history that saw Bushman equate opposing the Confederate flag with being “against Jesus,” the CSPOA CEO asserted that the “enemies of liberty” have “indoctrinated” people to believe that the South “and their cause” was “evil and bad, that they just wanted to basically force everybody to be slaves.” He continued that supporting the removal of Confederate monuments is a “scorched earth campaign from Satan.”

Elaborating on the “principles that drove these dear ancestors,” he argued that they were fighting for,

“liberty, primarily for self-determination. Primarily free association. See, self-determination and free association are the great grand keys. If you have self-determination and if you have free association, you absolutely have liberty. You can buy and sell from who you want to; you can spend your time and your talents and your finances with who you want to.”[5]

While free association is a valuable right and has protected organizations, such as the NAACP, from undue government interference in their First Amendment-protected activities, this refrain was also wielded in defense of segregation – that is, in defense of state-backed white supremacy.[6] Demonstrating that this was also not just a Southern problem, Bruce Harford, a one-time staffer for the  Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), described,

“During the ‘50s and ‘60s, efforts to end housing segregation in the North sparked intense resistance from significant segments of the white population (including some who had supported campaigns in the South for school integration, lunch-counter desegregation, and nonwhite voting rights). Many local governments supported and reinforced pro-segregation attitudes by enacting or strengthening legal barriers that defended ‘property-rights,’ ‘community-standards,’ and so-called rights of ‘free association… Political, economic, and social gains by Blacks and Latinos were portrayed as the illegitimate grabbing of special benefits and privileges at the expense of innocent whites who were (they claimed) the ‘real victims.’ They told white voters that laws, court rulings, public policies, and negotiated agreements prohibiting racial segregation or requiring integration somehow denied them their ‘right of free association.’ By ‘free association’ they meant the ‘right’ to exclude Blacks and other racial minorities from their communities.’[7]

Enter Jim O’Brien, aka Padraig Martin

Illustrating the close relationship between the CSPOA leader’s broadcast and the League of the South Dixie Fest event, at one point, Sam Bushman noted that James Edwards was “hunting me guests” for the show. Bushman then quickly announced that the guest Edwards had found was “Padraig Martin” of Identity Dixie—also a speaker at the League of the South’s Dixie Republic event.[8]

Identity Dixie leader Jim O’Brien, writing for the organization’s website as “Padraig Marting,” promotes the secession of southern states to create an “independent South,” or a “collection of countries, now known as ‘states,’” that are “exclusively white or white-run.”[9]

O’Brien pushes back against white nationalists who argue for pan-white unification on the grounds that “‘Judeo-Bolshevism’ and ‘Globalism’ are synonymous and requires a united front;” though, he writes that “we agree that our adversary is a tribal entity that is deeply engrossed in every facet of governance, finance and the media.” Rather than a single white state project, O’Brien boosts the idea of pan-white cooperation to press for multiple regional efforts to secede from the U.S., proclaiming that “we support all secessionist movements.”[10]

Betraying his own political influences, he wrote, “Even Adolf Hitler agreed with my sentiment.” Historical revisionist-style, that is, inaccurately, O’Brien holds that white nationalists should learn from the WWII-era German Nazis in that Hitler,

“sought to rebuild the natural borders of German-speaking Europe under one banner, while leaving other nation-states to their own devices… Hitler, and by extension, the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), never believed that their system was one-size-fits-all. Broader White Nationalists should learn from them.”[11]

Padraig Martin had previously appeared on Sam Bushman’s show to promote the pro-secession book he co-edited. In his Dixie Republic interview with Bushman, Martin explained that the book The Honorable Cause: A Free South set out to “define what a free south would look like.” Bushman asked, “What would it look like?” Martin replied, “A free south will be a Christian nation-state, a collective people that have similar ideals, similar culture, similar history and based on Anglo-Celtic society and culture.”

Padraig Martin is a pseudonym for Jim O’Brien, first identified on Twitter by the 434 Archive Co in January 2023. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) described Jim O’Brien as a one-time CEO of Tamerlane Global Services, a Virginia-based sub-contractor that operated in Afghanistan, claiming “specific expertise in moving cargo in conflict zones on the ground.”

In June 2019, James O’Brien, listed by the Department of Justice as from Fredericksburg, Virginia, pleaded guilty in a Florida federal court to “four counts of making false statements.” According to the DOJ, O’Brien admitted that as CEO of Tamerlane, he had falsified documents related to his company’s “letter of authorization” sanctioning its deployment to Afghanistan. O’Brien was sentenced to six months in prison, according to the Miller & Chevalier law firm.[12]

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, by 2018, O’Brien marched twice with the League of the South, including the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In 2017, James M. O’Brien of Gainesville, Florida, was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon while attending the Charlottesville rally. Charlottesville General District Court records indicate that O’Brien paid a $500 fine for the offense.[13]

As Padraig Martin, O’Brien explained on Bushman’s show that the impetus for The Honorable Cause had come after his arrest and imprisonment in connection to a U.S. government contract in Afghanistan in 2014 and later at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville:

“While I was sitting in a prison cell, I read everything I could on revolutionary movements. I began to re-study…re-invigorate my cause, so to speak, and came up with the idea, the knowledge that every revolutionary movement has to begin by defining itself, and not allowing the enemy to define it. And that’s why the book was written. It was in order for us to define who we are, why our people need to be free, and why we need to secede from what is really a degenerate empire.”

Martin continued that the book was available on Amazon, that Dixie Republic keeps copies of the on hand, and that he would be speaking later to answer questions about the “movement, the cause, what’s going on with League of the South, and also Identity Dixie and other groups that are in support of southern secession.”

Asked by Bushman, “If you had a question for yourself, what would it be?” Martin answered, “I would say, ‘What are the next steps to make southern secession real?’”

Bushman: “Okay, what are they?”

Martin: “I believe the very first thing you need to do is define your platform, define what southern nationalism is…The next stage is to begin working within groups to effectively secede from the, what is essentially modernity, so it’s time to walk away from some of these more lascivious and degenerate behaviors…”

Bushman: “Yeah, like government schools and such [this last word is unclear].”

Martin: “Yes sir, one hundred percent.”

Bushman: “I’m with you…In other words, build our own institutions.”

Martin: “Build our own institutions…A third way to do that is to begin accelerating the collapse of these United States by working towards avoiding being a participant in it.”

Martin went on to say that he had voted for Ron DeSantis. “I like DeSantis a lot, actually,” he added.

Not Bushman’s First White Nationalist Rodeo

Demonstrating the strategic variation in this movement, during his interview with James Edwards, Bushman would clarify, “As you know, I’m not a secessionist by belief, James. I believe that the nation should stay together until Christ, our King, returns” – a statement followed by this conversation:

James Edwards: “I say that my primary concern is preserving our people – preserving the nation. Now nation is a people with a common culture, common make-up, common customs, common traditions, common faith, and I am more concerned with preserving that people than preserving some sort of form of government or preserving the fifty states as we know the United States to be now…”

Bushman: “And you and I agree on that a hundred percent. All we’re talking about is the best tactics to get that…[unclear]…right?”

Edwards: “It’s just like, and if you cannot reform this system, and I think that this current system that is so degenerate and so criminally corrupt, and so anti-Christ… if you cannot…reform that system, which I don’t think you can, at this point…The rot is so deep. I think you just have to excise that and…start fresh…I say it this way: I don’t want to make America great again. I want to move on and learn from the mistakes.”[14]

Sam Bushman often uses his radio platform to deny any connection to white nationalism (even when hosting with white nationalist leader James Edwards). However, Bushman and CSPOA’s ties to white nationalism go back years.

In addition to James Edwards recruiting League of the South-Dixie Fest speaker Jim O’Brien to appear on Bushman’s Dixie Fest show, it has previously been documented that the CSPOA’s board currently includes the Institute on the Constitution’s Michael Peroutka, a former Maryland League of the South leader. David Whitney, a CSPOA “trainer,” is a one-time Maryland League of the South leader.[15] Another CSPOA “trainer,” KrisAnne Hall, previously spoke at a meeting of the Florida League of the South, and “Padraig Martin” had previously appeared on the Liberty Roundtable show.

In 2019, League of the South President Michael Hill appeared on a Liberty Roundtable broadcast from the Nationalist Solutions conference in Tennessee – an event hosted by the white nationalist American Freedom Party (AFP) and the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), an organization initially formed from the mailing list of the Civil Rights-era White Citizens Council. Michael Hill explained in his interview with Bushman that the event had also come about through a spate of last-minute League of the South fundraising.[16]

In addition to Michael Hill, a flyer for the Nationalist Solutions conference listed the speakers as the CofCC’s Earl Holt, James Edwards, AFP National Chairman Bill Johnson, veteran antisemite Kevin MacDonald, Rachel Pendergraft of Knights of the Ku Klux Klan leader Thom Robb’s Knights Party, and neo-Nazi David Duke – the one-time national leader of Robb’s Klan and a proponent not of secession, but of international white nationalist alliance and taking the whole of America for the cause.[17]

At the Nationalist Solutions conference, Bushman told Michael Hill, “We know about the League of the South, we’re grateful for your work…Tell your members that we salute them from the Liberty Roundtable Live, would you please.”[18]

CSPOA’s Sam Bushman can decry the well-documented links between his group and organized racism all he wants. But in using his show to provide a platform for leaders and allies of the League of the South and to Christian Identity racism, if he’s honest, he would have to admit that his organization is entangled in a profoundly racist and antisemitic movement underway in our country.


[1] Tucker, Neely and Peter Holley. “Dylann Roof’s eerie tour of American slavery at its beginning, middle and end.” Washington Post. July 1, 2015.; Blake, Aaron. The story of Nikki Haley and the Confederate flag. February 15, 2023.

[2] Confederate Church of Christ. About Us. Accessed August 11, 2023. The group’s website made clear that this is a Christian Identity group: “The Beast HATES the white race, because we are the Christian race – the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel who FOLLOW the Savior of True Israel. This is NOT to say that no one else can become a Christian, but it is to say, that we were/are the Sheep, the First Christian Race…Why do you think the “Power of the Air,” the media shows so much HATRED for the White Race? … It’s because Esau HATES Jacob with an unfounded hatred… Again, the BEAST HATES the Truth because the Truth SETS US FREE FROM THEM!! Jesus separated the Sheep, True Israel from the Goats, that is: From the Children of Esau, the Red, masquerading as the Children of Jacob-Israel. But now, they have deceived the world, especially the church into confusion about their identity. They claim to be ‘the Chosen People,” but they reject the Savior of the chosen people… That Jesus separated us, in fact, helped the Christians cope with their evil, to wit: Christian Kings segregated those SNAKES from Christian Society by putting them in ghettoes to which Jews were consigned by Royal Decrees in all the Gentile Nations of Europe during the Middle Ages… The Snakes have hated the White Race since Esau (the Red) hated Jacob (the White), over 1000 years before Christ. They hated Jesus Christ, and now, they hate the Body of Christ, even Christianity. Their hatred knows no bounds. They are Lawless, Liars, and Murderers. They embody the Spirit of Satan. The Beast is the Body of Satan, even as the church is the Body of Christ. They hated Hitler, before he was born. What Hitler did was, in fact, ‘Pay them back, in kind’ for the horror of the Great War; That is the World War for World Government – 1914 -1945. But, the Beast thinks they can do no wrong. They always think of themselves as VICTIMS, and so, they think they are justified in their unjust acts of hatred: called revenge against Jacob, now Christian Israel…”

See also, Christian Knuckles. TWO KINDS of Jews: Sheep & Goats How the REDS became LEFTISTS. Confederate Church of Christ. Accessed August 24, 2023.  On the people-of-color as inferior front, Knuckles wrote, “Do you like Air Conditioning? . . . Thank the White Race. Air conditioning was developed by European Scientists, including White Americans, studying Thermodynamics. Do you like Trains and Planes and Automobiles? Thank the White Race. The Asians can copy, but they cannot originate modern technology. (Why do the Chinese steal American technology?) All technology begins in the revelations of God to His true People; thus, God Blesses the world through the minds of White Men.”

[3] Blood River Radio. About. Accessed August 11, 2023.

[4] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 1 – 7/08/2023. July 7, 2023.

[5] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 2 – 7/08/2023. July 8, 2023.

[6] Sekou, Franklin. NAACP v. Alabama (1958). The First Amendment Encyclopedia

[7] Hartford, Bruce. 2015. Ghettos, Segregation, & Poverty in the 1960s. Civil Rights Movement Archive.;  Civil Rights Movement Archive. Bruce Hartford. Accessed August 15, 2023.

[8] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 2 – 7/08/2023. July 8, 2023.

[9] Identity Dixie Guest. SOUTHERN NATIONALISM: AN INTERVIEW WITH PADRAIG MARTIN OF IDENTITY DIXIE. September 15, 2022. In the interview, “Paraig Martin” states, ““We simply do not believe that generic White Nationalism works as a concept because it fails to account for genuine ethnic distinctions and motivations. That which works in North Carolina does not necessarily work in Idaho or Norway. The Carolinian likely sees things through a different lens or perspective. This is one of the reasons I think the Red State Secession movement is okay as a temporary measure, but unlikely to succeed in the long term. The South is different. Still, we support all secessionist movements — be they Texas (TEXIT), California (CALEXIT), Quebec, or even regional sub-secession movements, such as that which is being advocated in New York at present.” Martin, Padraig. A STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT OF SOUTHERN NATIONALISM. August 29, 2019. In this 2019 article, “Padraig Martin” writes, “I am a Southern Nationalist first and a White Nationalist second. What does that mean? As a White Nationalist, I subscribe to the idea that all White people – i.e., people who hail from European lineage – maintain their cultural and genetic integrity in perpetuity. I root for all variations of White people to succeed in this regard – whether they are English, French, German, Polish, Hungarian, etc. As a Southern Nationalist, I specifically support the cultural and genetic integrity of a unique White Christian ethnic group within the geographic confines of the current United States. These two distinctions do not have to conflict, yet for some, they do. Many believe that the current worldwide assault on White Identity requires a unification to defend from a distinct threat. Those detractors of ethno-nationalism state that “Judeo-Bolshevism” and “Globalism” are synonymous and requires a united front. Whereas I agree with the root cause of the issue, I do not believe pan-White unification can work…Cumulatively, I see the threat that all White Nationalists see. Furthermore, we agree that our adversary is a tribal entity that is deeply engrossed in every facet of governance, finance, and the media. That tribal entity need not be repeated. Why? Because it is more important to get this message out than it is to “name them.”  Sometimes, we must work within the margins to have a greater impact. That stated, their names are easy to decipher. For those who do not know, simply do some investigating as to the mechanisms of power and then you can decipher who are the true opponents of White Christian Civilization…Consequently, broad based White Nationalism is likely to fail because we simply do not have time to attempt to bridge genuine divides. No one is going to unify all of us under a single banner. Despite what some sociopaths and their sycophants may personally believe, there will never be a single leader marching Whites into a Reconquista. Even Adolf Hitler agreed with my sentiment. Hitler never sought to conquer Europe, despite the lies told by the History Channel. He sought to rebuild the natural borders of German-speaking Europe under one banner, while leaving other nation-states to their own devices. Vichy, for example, after the defeat of France, was remarkably independent as it pertained to domestic affairs. Italy was clearly independent until its defenses fell. Hitler, and by extension, the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), never believed that their system was one-sized-fits-all. Broader White Nationalists should learn from them.”


[11] Martin, Padraig. WHY BROAD-BASED WHITE NATIONALISM FAILS – AND HOW TO FIX IT. Identity Dixie. Jaunary 10, 2022.

[12] Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice. Former CEO of Two U.S. Government Contractors Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Government Documents. June 18, 2019.; Miller & Chevalier. Executives at Risk: Summer/Fall 2019. October 8, 2019.

[13] CBS News. 3 arrested in connection to violence at Charlottesville white nationalist rally, police say. August 12, 2017.; Charlottesville General District Court. O’Brien, James M. Case# GC17006037-00. At Virginia Judiciary. Online Case Information System 2.0.;oneCase=true. Accessed August 16, 2023.

[14] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 1 – 7/08/2023. July 7, 2023.

[15] Wood, Pamela. “Two Arundel candidates labeled as ‘extremist’ by Southern Poverty Law Center.” Baltimore Sun. June 21, 2014.

[16] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 2 – 6/29/2019. June 29, 2019.

[17] Nationalist Solutions. Details. Accessed August 14, 2023.

[18] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 2 – 6/29/2019. June 29, 2019.

The post CSPOA, Dixie Fest, and the League of the South appeared first on Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Categories: D2. Socialism

League of the South, Dixie Fest, and Christian Identity

On July 8, leaders of the white nationalist League of the South ventured to Travelers Rest, South Carolina, to hold a conference at Dixie Fest, the now annual event of the neo-Confederate Dixie Republic store.

Held on the same date and same Dixie Republic location as a “Dixie Fest” broadcast by Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) CEO Sam Bushman’s Liberty Roundtable radio show, the League of the South event was initially billed as its “2023 Summer Conference.” A YouTube video circulated by the Florida chapter of the group described it as the “League of the South’s Dixie Fest Conference.”[1]

Jim O’Brien,  who spoke at the League of the South event under the name Padraig Martin of Identity Dixie, wrote in the aftermath that about 50 people attended the white nationalist conference, including “swells up to roughly one hundred by curious onlookers.”[2] Hill claimed some had come from Wyoming and one 800 miles from Missouri.[3]

O’Brien, as Padraig Martin, wrote that attendance “was disappointing given the fact that nearly 1500 people came through Dixie Fest throughout the day – especially the evening,” adding,

“What was encouraging were two things. First, the number of folks who asked questions about the rapid collapse of these United States. To a person no one believes the United States will survive the next ten years. Second, the number of energized young activists.”[4]

O’Brien claimed that 10-15 younger people attended the conference. “The event,” he wrote, “concluded with a live recording of James Edwards’ The Political Cesspool.”[5]

Michael Hill on the League of the South Direction

In his speech, League of the South President Michael Hill explained that the Dixie Fest gathering comes as the League plans more single-day events to attract people.[6]

Much of Michael Hill’s Dixie Fest speech centered on his “thoughts” on southern nationalist manhood and femininity – e.g., men are called upon to lead and “women are not going to be leaders.” Hill elaborated, “I don’t even believe women should vote. I don’t believe women should hold public office.” Continuing his bigoted display, Hill lashed out, declaring the “perversion of transgenderism” to be an

“assault on God’s created order by the children of the devil…and the sooner we realize that’s what’s going on, the sooner we can combat it and put an end to it. And it must be ended. We cannot allow this to go on because it’s going to destroy masculinity and femininity and with that Civilization.”

Hill also asserted that “real men” must be prepared for violence. In addition to stating that a man “ought to be able to cut somebody’s throat when necessary,” Hill expounded,

“Men have to do things, sometimes, in the line of duty that they would rather not do, but that is part of doing your duty is being willing to do those unpleasant things when you’re called upon to do it…I can’t tell you for several reasons exactly what those things might be and when they might be necessary to do, because I think the DOJ will be listening. I’m not going to make it any easier for them. But you probably kind of get a hint of what I’m talking about…I mean obviously if duty calls and we’re invaded, like we’re being invaded right now, you have to put that aside. Men who are married with children have had to go off to war and die for thousands of years, and that’s not going to change.” [Italics added]

Touting Robert E. Lee and Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest as positive examples of Southern manhood, Hill continued,

“It also just rips the heart out of me knowing that there’s southern blood there that is not being, and it’s not realizing its potential, you know. If we’re going to win this thing, we’re going to have to be men. The Bible calls upon us to play the men, and it doesn’t mean play at being a man. That means to go and be the man, and we have a number of great examples, uh, there, uh, the example of Joshua, for example, the example of David. And I know some of you are probably saying, ‘Why are you giving me these Jews as examples?’ Mike Tubbs knows why I’m saying this; these are our people, and I’ll be glad to explain to you at some later time why these are our people, and they’re not descendants of these ugly creatures that we call Jews today.”

Michael Hill’s references to Joshua and David in the Bible as not being descendants of  Jews and claiming them as “our people” sounds remarkably like the Christian Identity “theology” promoted in an ad run on CSPOA leader Sam Bushman’s Dixie Fest broadcast for the Confederate Church of Christ.

And it does so for a reason.

Michael Tubbs and Christian Identity

Michael Tubbs, the Chief of Staff of the League of the South and head of its Florida chapter, described his own path to Christian Identity in a December 2022 interview with William Finck of the Panama City, Florida-based Christian Identity outfit, Christogenea. In the interview, Tubbs describes how he got involved in Christian Identity after finding a copy of the British Israel book, The United States and Britain in Prophecy while serving in the military at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina in the 1980s.[7]

British Israelism is a precursor to Christian Identity, sharing its racial identification of Northern Europeans with the Israelites of the Bible. Christian Identity holds that whites are Biblical Israel, Jews are satanic imposters, and people of color a pre-Adamic and inferior race.

Tubbs recounted that he found a card in the British Israel book advertising a “Bible study” from the Christian Committee to Teach Bible Law from Lakemore, Ohio. He obtained material from the group showing that “Bible law” was “important because of who they were, and it eventually got on to the Christian Identity message.” The “study” introduced him to Christian Identity leaders such as Pete Peters and Jack Mohr, describing that “it was no time at all before I was immersed in Christian Identity.” Tubbs added, “There is an unusually large number of Christian Identity adherents within the League of the South.”[8]

Christogenea’s William Finck, who said to Michael Tubbs that he has “probably seen you a hundred times,” holds that,

“Christian Identity, also sometimes called Israel Identity, is the only true conservative Christianity. It is true because it seeks to maintain the understanding – in accordance with Scripture – that the New Covenant was made only with those same people with whom the Old Covenant was made: the House (family) of Israel and the House (family) of Judah. These Israelite people are traceable through time to the Keltic and Germanic tribes of today. None of these people are Jews.[9]

Finck writes elsewhere that Jews “have themselves been the antichrists all along!” [10]

The viciousness of Finck’s ideology is expressed on his website, which  includes “the Mein Kampf project at” – Mein Kampf being the title of Adolph Hitler’s infamous book written while jailed for attempting the 1923 “beer hall putsch.”

Goals of Christogenea’s project include,

“demonstrating that Adolf Hitler was a good Christian man who cared deeply about his race, and followed the examples of Christ rather than just the lip-service found in modern churches… Lastly, we will publish whatever other worthy papers we can possibly obtain in order to set the record straight in reference to certain historical events, and others which are supposedly historical…It is not the holocaust (sic) deniers who are a danger to truth and freedom in this world. It is the Christ deniers who are a danger to truth and freedom!”[11]

Finck resigned from the League of the South earlier this year.

The League of the South’s deep roots in Christian Identity established, Hill also hinted at the League of the South bringing back weapons and fight training to their events:

“I would like to do this again in the future. We used to have weekends where we…brought in guys who were really expert to teach us open-hand and knife and, and pistol – close, close, street fighting, in other words, with your hands with knives and with pistols at close range. We went through this stuff class after class after class. So many of our people got wonderful training like that.”

League of the South Chief of Staff and Florida leader Michael Tubbs has his own history of preparing for violence. In 1987, Tubbs and other members of a group called the Knights of the New Order stole M-16 rifles from Fort Bragg in North Carolina, eventually amassing a stockpile of weapons and some 90 pounds of explosives. The group planned to initiate a race war, intending to “target journalists, TV stations and black- and Jewish-owned business,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In 1990, Tubbs pleaded guilty to stealing rifles belonging to the U.S. and served four years of an eight-year sentence. In 2017, Tubbs was announced as commander of the League of the South’s paramilitary branch, the Southern Defense Force.[12]

Sam Dickson and the Whites-Only Ethnostate

Kicking off his League of the South Dixie Fest speech by praising Michael Hill, Atlanta-based attorney and long-time white nationalist movement figure Sam Dickson mentioned a lawsuit brought by “Roberta Kaplan, the evil, evil Jewish lesbian who set out to shut everybody up.”[13] Dickson attacked civil rights laws such as the Fair Housing Act, claiming that “Race is fundamental, it is not environmental…I can’t imagine somebody who can believe that race is a social construct, race doesn’t exist, or that race, racial differences, there are no racial differences in intelligence.”

Dickson continued with his “thoughts” on secession:

“Mere geographic secession is not going to work. We’re going to have to have a change in the fundamental population, and we need a divorce. This country has been, been cursed from the day we first brought two incompatible races into the same country. The first slave ship that came [bold unclear] should have been torpedoed or sent better yet sent back with the cargo…We need to take over. I still believe this: We need to take over Cuba, bring the whites out and, build a country for black people and, put them there, and shake hands and say this has been a bad experience. It’s time for a divorce. That, that’s really what we need to do.”

This is the whites-only ethnostate desired by many white nationalists.

League of the South Executive Officer Mark Thomey seemed to be on hand to show how long, in one speech, a person could sustain “divorce as a metaphor for secession.” Thomey’s litany of issues necessitating secession, the usual suspects – gun rights, affirmative action, abortion, “sodomy,” transgenderism, immigration, gun rights, affirmative action, energy policy – and of course, “civil rights.”[14]

Jim O’Brien (aka Padraig Martin) and the Great Replacement

Meanwhile, Jim O’Brien (aka Padraig Martin) of Identity Dixie used his time on stage to gin up fear of black-on-white violence, allege “white genocide,” and demonstrate the outlandish heights of this movement’s immigration-related conspiracy theories. Of the latter, O’Brien asserted that the “border is open” so that children can be sex-trafficked, raped, and filmed, and the videos sold to “our adversaries, consisting of the antifa, the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the federal government, the various news sources, and media.”[15]

“We are being replaced,” he continued, and “right now, you are occupied by an American government.” The solution, of course, secession – O’Brien’s particular bent being to stress the need to build an alternative economy and institutions to replace the existing ones –something he had elaborated on in his interview on Bushman’s Dixie Fest broadcast.

Despite the low turnout to the League of the South event, given that the Dixie Republic has institutionalized Dixie Fest as an annual event, there is every reason to believe Michael Hill and his band of Christian Identity adherents will continue using the venue to build its movement.


[1] We Dare To Resist Florida League of the South. Accessed August 2, 2023.

[2] Martin, Padraig. Last Week at Dixie Fest. July 15, 2023.

[3] We Dare To Resist Florida League of the South. Dr. Michael Hill at the League of the South conference. Posted July 27, 2023.

[4] Martin, Padraig. Last Week at Dixie Fest. July 15, 2023.

[5] Martin, Padraig. Last Week at Dixie Fest. July 15, 2023.

[6] We Dare To Resist Florida League of the South. Dr. Michael Hill at the League of the South conference. Posted July 27, 2023.

[7] Christogegenea. A Conversation with Michael Tubbs of the League of the South. Submitted by William Finck on Fri, 12/09/2022.; Christogenia. Contact. Accessed August 15, 2023.

[8] Christogegenea. A Conversation with Michael Tubbs of the League of the South. Submitted by William Finck on Fri, 12/09/2022.; Christogenia. Contact. Accessed August 15, 2023.

[9] Finck, William. What is Christian Identity? December 2, 2010.

[10] Finck, William. The Anti-Christ for Dummies. Accessed August 24, 2023. Finck writes, “So while Christians await ‘The Anti-Christ’ whom they believe to be some future beastly ruler often depicted with science-fiction quality abilities, the truth is that the antichrists have walked among us for thousands of years already! Many of them today are still called “Jews”, and adhere to that same false religion in which they rejected Christ! Their spirits are not from God, but are rather from their own father – the devil…Christians, if they truly believe their Bibles, must reject Jews, who have themselves been the antichrists all along!”

In an article titled, “A Concise Explanation of the Creation of the Jewish People,” William Finck would also write the dogma of one seed Identity: “The Old Testament accounts found in the Book of Genesis demonstrate that there was a rivalry between Jacob and Esau. Esau, it is also clear, was a race-mixer who had taken wives of the Canaanites and the Ishmaelites…The rivalry between the brothers later turned into a national enmity among their descendants, and the Edomites were eventually enslaved by the Israelites…and later revolted… When the Chaldaeans finally took Jerusalem and destroyed the city, we find that the Edomites were in league with them, and are blamed for the temple’s destruction…It can be shown from the New Testament that many of the original Israelites of Judaea converted to Christianity during the ensuing years, losing their identity as Judaeans. The Edomites never converted, clinging to their traditions found in the Talmud – which has absolutely no authentic connection to the ancient Hebrew religion. Today these people, and all of their many proselytes and those whom they have intermarried with, are known as Jews.” Finck, William. A Concise Explanation of the Creation of the Jewish People. Accessed August 24, 2023.

[11] Mein Kampf. A Christogena project. Welcome to the Mein Kampf project at Accessed August 24, 2023.  The“Mein Kampf Project,” proclaims,

“Here we shall endeavor to accomplish three goals. First, we shall present the entire James Murphy translation of Mein Kampf, remaining faithful to the page numbering and type styles of that volume even if aesthetics suffers a bit for it. Then we will also present papers, as an ongoing project, demonstrating that Adolf Hitler was a good Christian man who cared deeply about his race, and followed the examples of Christ rather than just the lip-service found in modern churches, for better or for worse. Lastly, we will publish whatever other worthy papers we can possibly obtain in order to set the record straight in reference to certain historical events, and others which are supposedly historical…It is not the holocaust deniers who are a danger to truth and freedom in this world. It is the Christ deniers who are a danger to truth and freedom!”

[12] See Southern Poverty Law Center. Michael Ralph Tubbs. Accessed August 25, 2023.

[13] We Dare To Resist Florida League of the South. Sam Dickson at the League of the South’s Dixie Fest Conference. Posted July 26, 2023.

[14] We Dare To Resist Florida League of the South. Rise Up Southern Man – Mark Thomey – League of the South – Dixie Fest – July 8, 2023. Posted July 25, 2023.

[15] “We Dare To Resist. Florida League of the South.” “League of the South at Dixie Fest – Padraig Martin of Identity Dixie.” Posted July 25, 2023. Martin said, “As I am speaking, there is a young boy that was dragged across the border, the open border down in Texas. The border that the United States government keeps open. And I wonder why it’s being kept open. That 7-year-old boy right now is being sexually penetrated, on camera, filmed, violated, tortured.  Through his cries, he is being filmed; and those films are being sold to our adversaries who are buying them and spreading them around for their own sexual gratification. Those adversaries are members of the antifa, the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the federal government, the various news sources and media. That is who they are, that is who’s buying those sexually perverse tapes. And that is who is spreading them and that is why that border is open, so they can continue to exploit young men, young women. They exploit our people.”

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Categories: D2. Socialism

Ganó el Yasuní, ganó la humanidad

Systemic Alternatives - Fri, 09/01/2023 - 10:25

Por Pablo Solón

[English, Português, Italiano] “¿Dejar el petróleo bajo tierra? ¿Renunciar a más de mil millones de dólares anuales? ¿Poner la naturaleza por encima de la economía? ¿Qué locura es esta?”

Es la lógica de la naturaleza que ganó de manera contundente a la lógica de los extractivismos en la consulta popular del Ecuador.

La primera vez que escuche hablar de la propuesta del Yasuní fue en 2006. Debo decir que fue una iniciativa osada para su tiempo que planteaba renunciar a explotar el petróleo de esta zona mega diversa de la Amazonía a cambio de una compensación económica por parte de las principales economías del mundo.

El reconocimiento de los derechos de la naturaleza en la constitución del Ecuador de 2008 le dio un nuevo empuje a la propuesta del Yasuní, pero al mismo tiempo colocó el dedo en la llaga de la contradicción que por fin habría de resolverse quince anos después, este 20 de agosto.

Como embajador de Bolivia ante las Naciones Unidas y jefe negociador de cambio climático, entre 2009 y 2011, apoyé en reiteradas oportunidades la exigencia de que los países industrializados pagaran su deuda climática por haber sido los principales contaminadores con gases de efecto invernadero. Lo que pedía Ecuador, en relación al Yasuní, era muy poco frente a la responsabilidad histórica de estos países, pero igual se negaron a hacerlo.

La propuesta del Yasuní contribuyó a desenmascarar la hipocresía de los países desarrollados que en las negociaciones climáticas hablaban de salir de los combustibles fósiles pero que en realidad no querían apoyar efectivamente una propuesta para dejar el petróleo bajo el Yasuní. El argumentó que escuché en los pasillos de los negociadores del norte, porque jamás hablaban de manera sincera en las sesiones oficiales, me llevó a concluir que esas negociaciones climáticas iban al fracaso: “No es la cantidad de dinero que piden —decían— ¡Es el precedente que se creará si aceptamos la propuesta del Yasuní! Si pagamos por el petróleo sin explotar del Ecuador, imagínate lo que nos pedirán otros por no extraer su petróleo”. A lo que respondía con una amable sonrisa: “Sería magnifico, así por fin pagarían su deuda histórica con los países en desarrollo y frenaríamos el cambio climático”. Fin de la discusión.

La propuesta del Yasuní se fue distorsionando en las negociaciones climáticas por el propio gobierno ecuatoriano de Correa. El pedido de dejar el petróleo sin explotar en el Yasuní cada vez se fue volviendo una propuesta mercantilista.  El gobierno del Ecuador empezó a proponer mercados de carbono para dejar el petróleo bajo el Yasuní.

Entonces me empecé a distanciar de la propuesta del gobierno de Ecuador. A titulo de lograr una compensación económica no se puede promover la mercantilización de la naturaleza. Una cosa es que paguen una deuda ecológica y otra cosa muy distinta es promover reglas de mercado para los servicios de la naturaleza, olvidándose de que esa lógica de mercado nos llevó a esta crisis climática.

“Pero lo más importante es que el gobierno del Ecuador reciba dinero por dejar el petróleo bajo el Yasuní”, decían los negociadores ecuatorianos. A lo que respondía: “Si el Ecuador reconoce los derechos de la Naturaleza, no puede poner precio a los derechos de la Naturaleza. Imagínate que alguien diga que respetará sólo el derecho humano a la vida de un ser humano si le dan una compensación económica. Uno no puede condicionar el cumplimiento de los derechos humanos y los derechos de la naturaleza a una retribución económica”. En estas conversaciones quedó claro que el gobierno de Correa condicionaba la protección de la naturaleza a los réditos monetarios que podía recibir.

¡Y así fue! En 2013, el gobierno de Correa anunció que como no había suficientes ofertas de recursos económicos para el Yasuní, explotaría el petróleo de esta región única del planeta.

Lo que pasó de ahí en adelante es una historia épica. Un conjunto de jóvenes, colectivos y organizaciones no gubernamentales a las que Correa había perseguido, se lanzaron a las calles a juntar firmas para un referéndum que pregunte a la población si quería dejar sin explotar el petróleo del Yasuní. Consiguieron por demás las firmas requeridas, pero desde el poder les hicieron trampa, les dijeron que habían falsificado firmas y les escamotearon el derecho a la consulta. Pasaron una década en los tribunales, muchos de esos jóvenes se hicieron adultos, a los mayores les salieron canas, hasta que por fin la justicia reconoció que habían cumplido con todos los requisitos para hacer la consulta nacional sobre el Yasuní.

El 9 de mayo de 2023 la Corte Constitucional de Ecuador emitió el dictamen 6-22-CP/23 que señala que en caso de ganar el pronunciamiento afirmativo a la pregunta de “¿Está de acuerdo en que el Gobierno ecuatoriano mantenga las reservas de petróleo del ITT, conocido como Bloque 43, en el subsuelo de forma indefinida?”, se procederá a “un retiro progresivo y ordenado de toda actividad relacionada a la extracción de petróleo en un plazo no mayor a un año”.

Fue así como llegamos al 20 de agosto de 2023, y ganó el Sí al Yasuní. Alrededor del 59% de los ecuatorianos dijeron: Sí a la vida. A pesar de la crisis económica, de la inseguridad, de la violencia, del miedo y la muerte… más de 5 millones de ecuatorianos votaron por dejar el petróleo bajo el subsuelo en el Yasuní.

Este es el resurgimiento de la propuesta del Yasuní del 2006, pero con una esencia diferente que esta libre de la condicionante económica que tenía en sus orígenes. El pueblo ecuatoriano dijo Sí a dejar el petróleo bajo tierra en el Yasuní porque hay que dejarlo bajo tierra, porque daña la naturaleza, porque destruye la vida, y punto. La pregunta no utiliza a la naturaleza como una carta de negociación para conseguir una retribución económica. Este es el más grande tributo que se le puede hacer a los derechos de la Naturaleza.

La consulta nacional del Yasuní marcará un antes y después en la defensa de la Amazonía y la lucha contra el cambio climático. La Cumbre de Presidentes de la Amazonía, que se realizó el pasado 8 de agosto en Belem du Pará, Brasil, fue claramente advertida al respecto.

El Sí al Yasuní tiene muchas dimensiones. Es la lógica de la naturaleza que se impone frente a la lógica de los extractivismos, es una interpelación radical a nuestro antropocentrismo, es un llamado a una ecosociedad, es un ejemplo de ética y perseverancia, es un emplazamiento a pasar de los discursos a la acción…, pero, sobre todo, el Sí al Yasuní es una brisa de esperanza para toda la humanidad porque nos muestra que podemos recuperar nuestra humanidad.

Categories: D2. Socialism


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