The Good Revolution

4th-of-july

Did you ever read in your school textbooks that there were times during our Revolution when there were more Americans enrolled in the British forces than under George Washington?

In 1962, for KPFA radio, Hal Draper revealed the facts behind the story of our nation’s founding.

Read the speech: Hal Draper: A Fourth Of July Oration (1962)

P.S.: “There has been only one revolution in the history of the world which took place after a registration of revolutionary sentiment by vote.” It wasn’t in 1776. It was in November of 1917.

Happy Independence Day!

The Rigged Game: New Report on Inequality

The Economic Policy Institute has published a new report on income inequality in the United States. Here’s a quick summary of the findings.

Income inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s and in many states is up in the post–Great Recession era. In 24 states, the top 1 percent captured at least half of all income growth between 2009 and 2013, and in 15 of those states, the top 1 percent captured all income growth. In another 10 states, top 1 percent incomes grew in the double digits, while bottom 99 percent incomes fell. For the United States overall, the top 1 percent captured 85.1 percent of total income growth between 2009 and 2013. In 2013 the top 1 percent of families nationally made 25.3 times as much as the bottom 99 percent.

It’s important to understand that none of this is happening by accident, nor by the hand of God, nor even because of the effects of an impartial marketplace. The ruling class decides who will win and who will lose. So it’s no wonder who wins and who loses.

Read the full report: Income inequality in the U.S. by state, metropolitan area, and county | Economic Policy Institute

Hedges and Nader

Chris Hedges and Ralph Nader speak about Nader’s Breaking Through Power event being held in D.C. this week, and about what it will take to bring democracy to America. Hedges opens with these thoughts.

This moment in American history is what Antonio Gramsci called the “interregnum”—the period when a discredited regime is collapsing but a new one has yet to take its place. There is no guarantee that what comes next will be better. But this space, which will close soon, offers citizens the final chance to embrace a new vision and a new direction. This vision will only be obtained through mass acts of civic mobilization and civil disobedience across the country.

Nader is at his imaginative best these days. Many people are urging Senator Sanders to move beyond the election of 2016 toward a sustained program of activism, but Nader is the first I’ve read who articulates a practical strategy.

“What does he have to lose?” Nader asked of Sanders. “He’s 74. He can lead this massive movement. I don’t think he wants to let go. His campaign has exceeded his expectations. He is enormously energized. If he leads the civic mobilization before the election, whom is he going to help? He’s going to help the Democratic Party, without having to go around being a one-line toady expressing his loyalty to Hillary. He is going to be undermining the Republican Party. He is going to be saying to the Democratic Party, ‘You better face up to the majoritarian crowds and their agenda, or you’re going to continue losing in these gerrymandered districts to the Republicans in Congress.’ These gerrymandered districts can be overcome with a shift of 10 percent of the vote. Once the rumble from the people gets underway, nothing can stop it. No one person can, of course, lead this. There has to be a groundswell, although Sanders can provide a focal point”

Read the full article: Chris Hedges: Welcome to 1984 | Chris Hedges – Truthdig

Remembering Father Berrigan

Bernardine Dohrn writes of her memories of Father Berrigan, from a time when both of them were wanted by the FBI.

Dan Berrigan refused to report to prison, and during his time “underground” he repeatedly appeared publically to conduct church sermons or to give anti-war speeches, further infuriating FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. His was both a playful “underground” and a passionately moral one. He wrote, of the Catonsville action: “Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children…”

The Weather Underground responded with a much less eloquent “communiqué” to “Brother Dan,” just after he was arrested in 1970. “We watched you, Dan, on TV when they took you to jail, smiling and with hands raised, handcuffed, giving the sign of peace. You have refused the corruption of your generation.”

I ran across these links today. Rest in power, Father.

The Priest Who Practiced Radical Direct Action: Father Daniel J. Berrigan | Beacon Broadside

Imagining The New Creation | Religious Socialism Blog

Bearing The Cross | Chris Hedges at Truthdig

The photo of Father Berrigan is by Jim Forest.

The Real Workers’ Holiday

Late last week, President Obama issued a proclamation naming May 1st, 2016 as “Loyalty Day” in the United States. The proclamation reads, in part, “On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.”

Loyalty Day was first celebrated in 1921, during the First Red Scare. It was originally called “Americanization Day” and was created purposefully to replace International Workers’ Day, the worldwide celebration of worker solidarity. It was enshrined into law in 1955 by the U.S. Congress during the Second Red Scare, and has been proclaimed each year by every President since Eisenhower.

Throughout history, control of the calendar has been used to set the ideological agenda. One need not look very far into the history of Catholic liturgical calendar to see this. Samhain was transformed into the Feast of All Saints. The Vernal Equinox became the Annunciation. The Summer Solstice became the Nativity of John the Baptist. The list goes on and on.

This practice has not been lost on our own ruling class.

Utah Phillips said “Yes, the long memory is the most radical idea in this country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we’re going, but where we want to go.”

In the years of struggle to come, it is more important than ever that we cultivate the long memory. Celebration of International Workers’ Day is the foundation upon which an understanding of what it means to be a true American rests. Our heritage as fighting working class radicals must not be undermined by the false consciousness imposed on us by the One Percent.

Below are a few links, highly recommended for the occasion. For a longer read, I would also recommend Sharon Smith’s excellent history of the labor movement in America, Subterranean Fire.

Today Is Our Day – by Jonah Walters at Jacobin – This May Day, we should celebrate the historic triumphs of the labor movement and the struggles to come.

The legacy of Haymarket – by Sharon Smith at Socialist Worker – Sharon Smith chronicles the hidden history of the Haymarket Martyrs, the movement for the eight-hour day and the origins of May Day.

In celebration of May Day – by Andrea Bauer at Freedom Socialist – A reflection on Karl Marx and the struggle for a shorter workday.

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Toward A Universal Basic Income

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Andrew Flowers writes about the movement in Switzerland to guarantee a basic income for all.

Werner posed a pair of simple questions to the crowd: What do you really want to do with your life? Are you doing what you really want to do? Whatever the answers, he suggested basic income was the means to achieve those goals. The idea is as simple as it is radical: Rather than concern itself with managing myriad social welfare and unemployment insurance programs, the government would instead regularly cut a no-strings-attached check to each citizen. No conditions. No questions. Everyone, rich or poor, employed or out of work would get the same amount of money. This arrangement would provide a path toward a new way of living: If people no longer had to worry about making ends meet, they could pursue the lives they want to live.

Read More: What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money? | FiveThirtyEight

What is Neoliberalism?

George Monbiot explains.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Read the full article: Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems | Books | The Guardian

Europe Is Up All Night

If a suspected terrorist sneezes in Europe, we see security camera footage repeated day and night with endless speculation and commentary on CNN, but there has been a virtual mainstream media blackout here in the United States of news about the French working class rising up over the past two weeks.

On March 31, thousands of French activists gathered at the Place de la République to protest French President François Hollande’s labor reforms, and they’ve been staying “up all night” ever since. The “Nuit Debout” protests are now spreading to Belgium, Britain, Spain and Germany.

Read More: Sonali Kolhatkar: Two Weeks Into a Major Uprising, French Activists Still Staying ‘Up All Night’ – Truthdig

Chicago Brings The Solidarity

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Chicago’s streets were a sea of union red last Friday for a day of action to protest the austerity policies of Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Rauner.

I’m proud to have joined twenty thousand souls at the Thompson Center that day. What struck me, once again, was the broad support and solidarity in this movement. It wasn’t just teachers, or students, or parents, or union folks. We were joined by activists from Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ community, immigrant rights groups, neighborhood and community organizations and so many more. It’s always an inspiration to see.

Here are some great photos of the day from Bob Simpson.

You can also read this report from Gala M. Pierce: Striking for the city we deserve | SocialistWorker.org