Rodt Hammers Red Wedge Into Norwegian Politics

European elections have recently caught the  interest of Americans on the Left. Greece, obviously, and the election victory of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party in the UK. Now there’s one more, admittedly on a much more modest scale, to chalk up for the Left: Norway. On Monday, Rødt—Red in English—a party of communists and socialists (although not a classic communist party), had their best showing in years in the nationwide voting for provincial and local leaders there, while the ruling Conservative coalition took some big hits.

The Norwegian elections have not been widely covered in the mainstream media here, nor even in the English language blogosphere, so I spent Tuesday tracking down friends and friends of friends in Norway and grilling them to cobble together, from 5000 miles away, this rough, immediately-after-the-fact report.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Ferguson/October Weekend of Resistance

This video brings together footage from the Weekend of Resistance that took place in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, together with interviews of key leaders from the movement there. Thanks to Judith Roderick for filming all the footage and putting together this important video.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities

An In-Depth Look at the Ferguson Eruption: Organization for Black Struggle Leader Lays It Out

Montague Simmons. Photo from

Montague Simmons. Photo from

This spring, the New York/New Jersey District of Freedom Road sponsored a forum entitled “Ferguson: The Movement So Far and Lessons for Coming Struggles.” The first speaker was our comrade, Montague Simmons, Chair of the legendary Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. These five videos, roughly 5 minutes each, provide an inside and in depth look at what up to the Ferguson eruption and what has been happening since the murder of Mike Brown.

Part 1

Montague Simmons tells how little the St. Louis area has changed since his childhood, explaining how it’s a long-term experimental laboratory in racial segregation.

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Police & Prisons

keep movin’ directly


blue black
we still shoutin’/screamin’/prayin’/swearin’/tauntin’/crackin’/laughin’
beat down/bloody/hearts broke/weepin’/wonderin’/doubtin’
reachin’/teachin’/liberation preachin’
we enslaved today by empire and nightmare dreams
but we still matter and see tomorrow comin’
’cause what we do is resist is work is build somethin’ better
what we say we can do we can organize
we can posit/testify/sing/assert/announce/proclaim/flatfoot dance
our lives matter and
because we stand
we speak truth
we organize
we remember
we listen
we love and lift
we tired and still walk and run and wade and carry
’cause The Spirit don’t like ugly
we gon’ get where ol’ massas can’t go can’t turn us around
where you got to walk upright
on yo’ feet and nobody’s back
we go find our ways
croon new doo wops
create mo’ decent swags
shout hallelujahs
tell pimpin’ preachers “see ya!”
don’t cha worry
we gon’ matter ’cause
we always

M. Thandabantu is a veteran human rights activist, feminist, labor educator and writer; working and living in Aurora, CO

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Poetry

Confronting the Matrix and Destroying the Knot of Oppression: “Black Lives Matter” and Building a Counter-hegemonic Movement

Current events bring to mind two stories which might be overlapping allegories about what this country is faced with in regard to the various movements against oppression and exploitation today. Almost six or seven years ago the movement that was flowing and cresting was the movement for immigrant rights, and at a time the movement of queer and trans folks.

At this moment the movement to dismantle white supremacy embodied in the Black Lives Matters has brought to the fore again the continued struggle of African Americans for survival, power and the acknowledgment of their human dignity. In the face of daily aggression and trauma leading up and including the violent loss of life. No need here to go over the trail of blood that has inflamed the Black Lives Matter movement. The allegories that come to mind are these. The story of the Gordian Knot and the story of the Matrix.

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Posted in Intersecting Oppressions

A Tragic Death Becomes a Xenophobic Assault on Immigrant Rights

On Friday, July 1, 2015 Kate Steinle was taking a casual stroll on Pier on San Francisco’s Pier 14 with her father, when the unthinkable happened, she was struck by a bullet randomly shot by a stranger. She died from the gunshot wound. This horrifying incident and her sudden death left her grieving family devastated with heartfelt pain, caused people to ponder the senselessness of her death, and has triggered political outrage about the circumstances of her death.

Shortly after the shooting a suspect was caught by police: Francisco López-Sánchez, a Mexican undocumented immigrant, whom the media reported as “five time deportee.” Donald Trump immediately chimed in, receiving national media attention, as he argued that this is proof of his point that Mexico allows its worst people to cross the border into the U.S. including “criminals and rapists.” A debate ensued, becoming less about the actual death of Kate Steinle, who was white, and focused on the fact that López-Sánchez is undocumented. This tragedy has become a soap box for Trump and his supporters to promote an anti-immigrant agenda, lumping all immigrants as criminals; and, attacking sanctuary city policies like San Francisco’s, which prevents local police from automatically detaining people on the basis of being undocumented. There are provisions, however that allow local police to surrender people who have criminal warrants.

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Posted in Immigration, Oppressed Nationalities

Interview: Ajamu Dillahunt, Long-Time Civil Rights Organizer

This interview originally appeared in Scalawag magazine.

Ajamu Dillahunt. Photo by Jonathan Michels.

Ajamu Dillahunt. Photo by Jonathan Michels.

Jonathan Michels: You are a part of the New Great Migration of African Americans from the North who moved back down to the South following the Civil Rights Movement. Why did you decide to move to North Carolina?

Ajamu Dillahunt: We moved to North Carolina in 1978. By some people’s standards, we still ain’t from here, as they say. I don’t know when you get to be from here, but we certainly feel like it.

We moved from New York. We decided to move south for both political and personal reasons. We wanted to be a little closer to our families. That was on the personal side. On the political side, North Carolina had that history of… the founding of SNCC, the sit-ins, Robert Williams in Monroe,[1] and, in the more recent period, through the 1970s, the Wilmington Ten case. The resistance to that was important. And then the community work that we knew that was going on. We were like, “Yeah, this is probably a good place to be.”

JM: What were your perceptions of North Carolina and the South as a child growing up in New York?

AD: I had visited in 1954, had come back to North Carolina with my grandmother. We went to New Bern, her home, and also Wilmington where we had cousins. We rode the bus. We get south of the Mason-Dixon line, and you’ve got to get in the back. Separate waiting rooms and all that stuff. I experienced that as a really young person. That’s in your mind as well. Those years in between, I’m reading and watching, so the South is a dangerous place, it’s a bad place. A place where we need to make some changes, a site of some important struggles.

There’s the Emmett Till murder in Mississippi. Mississippi has always had this place in Black discourse as being the worst place you could ever be for Black folks. Medgar Evers is murdered there. There’s Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner that are killed there.[2] The list of atrocities just goes on and on.

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Posted in Movement History, Oppressed Nationalities

Black Lives Matter from the Miserable City of Toledo


While national attention has focused on Black Lives Matter movement hot spots like Ferguson, New York City and Baltimore, all over the country people have seized this historic moment to develop organizations of struggle and resistance. This story by Mike Leonardi gives an in-depth view of one such initiative in the Rust Belt city of Toledo, Ohio.

January 15 this year saw the most powerful and effective demonstration that I have ever been a part of in Toledo. The Community Solidarity Response Network, an organization formed only months before in the aftermath of Ferguson, moved to disrupt the city’s official Martin Luther King unity celebration at the University of Toledo’s basketball arena. King Day has turned into little more than a watered down, star spangled, militarized insult to Dr. King’s legacy.

When the arena doors opened, around 50 of us walked in dressed entirely in black and took up a large section of the bleachers to the side of the stage. We waited through the pomp and circumstance of the national anthem, the military color guard and early speakers. We decided to make our move between the speeches of Toledo’s mayor and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.

We rose to our feet and row by row in a single file line walked onto and across the front of the stage. We held up bright yellow signs that have become a signature of our movement. Made by local activist Dan Rutt, they bore slogans such as Black Lives Matter, Justice for John Crawford, Justice for Michael Brown. We stopped, stood and chanted:

Hands Up; Don’t Shoot!
I Can’t Breathe!
Black Lives Matter!

We then exited stage left and walked out of the building for a brief celebration. The crowd response was ecstatic. When we walked back into the arena during Kaptur’s speech and retook our seats, we got big smiles and acknowledgements from both the event organizers and public. Continue reading

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Police & Prisons

After Murder and Church Burnings: Organize the South! Black Lives Matter!


Bree Newsome taking down the confederate flag at the South Carolina state capitol.

On June 17th, Dylann Roof, a 21 year old white man, entered Mother Emanuel AME Church, a pivotal institution in the Black liberation struggle in Charleston, South Carolina. He joined the evening’s prayer meeting. An hour later he took out a gun and murdered nine of the parishioners, intentionally sparing woman’s life so she could tell the tale. Radicalized by the Council of Conservative Citizens, an online white nationalist organization, Roof’s online manifesto declares that his intention was to incite a race war.

In the three weeks since, over 20,000 people have marched in South Carolina in solidarity with the victims’ families, demanding the removal of the confederate flag from the state capitol. Eight Black churches were burned down in 10 days. Bree Newsome from Charlotte, NC, where one of those churches burned, made national news – scaling the pole at the SC state capitol and taking the flag down. Dozens of confederate statues across the US have been tagged with the phrase #BlackLivesMatter, the slogan of the dynamic movement that’s exploded across the US in response to the epidemic of racist police murders. Republican lawmakers are battling it out in legislative sessions, culminating in a decision to remove the flag from the South Carolina State House which was carried out on July 10. Nonetheless the Klan has announced a pro-Confederate flag rally in Columbia, SC next Saturday, and a weeklong training institute the following week in Arkansas on how to grow the white nationalist movement.

This tremendous flurry, including a visible resurgence of Klan activity, raises a number of important questions about how we analyze and respond in this moment: Continue reading

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Posted in NEC Statements, Oppressed Nationalities

Reflections on Podemos and Izquiera Unida in Spain

Photo by Daniel López García: preparation for a trip to Spain, I decided to read up on the left there.

I was most anxious to check out Podemos, since both they and Syriza, have made big splashes on the world scene and would seem to have lessons for us here in the U.S.  One of the most informative articles was on the Verso blog site, “An Izquierda Unida MP: ‘Podemos have literally copied us” by Mike Watson.

It appears that the Spanish Left is as sectarian and divided as the left here and in other countries. The main national players are Podemos and Izquierda Unida (Left Unity) which is a green-Marxist  alliance anchored by the Communist Party of Spain and predates Podemos by decades,  Some analysts also include the PSOE (Socialist Party) as part of the left, but I see them as akin to the Labor party in Britain, PASOK in Greece, and the Democratic Party here in the States.  Not really leftist at all. Left disunity in Spain is amplified by the fact that like many modern European nation-states, Spain is the product of many centuries of monarchical intermarriage, through which various oppressed nationalities and ethnicities were welded into a large nation, today’s Spain.  These forces still seek autonomy and self- determination and have parties pushing for that. If successful, today’s Spain would be a whole bunch of much smaller countries.

There are a lot of things to like about Podemos, but I have been hesitant to go all out in supporting them for several reasons:

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Posted in International Solidarity