The Revolution in Rojava

We received this article from the Urun/Harvest Group and we are publishing it here in full in order to help share news and information about the important national liberation struggle and revolutionary process taking place in Kurdistan.

Kurds live in Iraq (Kurdistan, or the Kurdish Regional Government/KRG), Turkey (North Kurdistan), Syria (Rojava) and in East Kurdistan (Rojhelat and Iran). Kurdish vernaculars divide into two central groups and then subdivide into other branches, dialects and subdialects. Tribal, clan and family ties have been primary, although urbanization, voluntary and involuntary assimilation and the forced resettlement of Kurdish populations have weakened these ties. A majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims but Kurds also follow Shi’a Islam, Alevism, Yazidism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. A Kurdish Jewish community lives in Israel.

Map from Springtime of Nations - http://springtimeofnations.blogspot.com

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leads the Kurdish struggle in North Kurdistan and Turkey and has companion parties with fighting forces in Rojava and Rojhelat. There also various Kurdish coordinating bodies at the grassroots in North Kurdistan, Rojava and Rojhelat. Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned in Turkey since 1999, is the person most often associated with the PKK and the broader Kurdish liberation movement. Salih Muslim and Asia Abdullah are the co-presidents of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Rojava. Masoud Barzani is the president of the KRG. The PYD and the revolution in Rojava have taken much from Öcalan’s theories and put these ideas into practice. An especially advanced revolution is underway in Rojava while Barzani is seeking to isolate the revolution.

Continue reading

Download this piece as a PDF
FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
Posted in International Solidarity, Oppressed Nationalities

What Goes Around Comes Around

When I was asked to write on the history of May Day, I took a big gulp. Having never been taught about May Day in either school or college, I had to do some reading. Oh, I knew the basic one sentence, isn’t that when they hung those guys in Chicago for throwing a bomb? Clearly that wouldn’t be enough of  speech, nor is it in fact the real story. So after all my digging, I’m going to start with my conclusion: as the old saying goes, “What goes around comes around.”

MayDay 3

May Day, the left-wing version of Labor Day, has its roots in 1880’s in the demand for shorter work days. The parallels between the events of 1886 and today are both startling and unnerving. The country was undergoing profound economic change as the Second Industrial Revolution took hold. In a ten year period between 1880 and 1890 capital investment in manufacturing grew threefold. The death of small-business capitalism was giving way to trusts, mergers, and monopolies. Steel production went from half of England and France’s to outstrip them both and provide a third of the total steel production in the world. The workforce grew dramatically, from 2.7 million to 5.9 million. This was the period when those huge factories sometimes employing 10 thousand or more workers were built.

Continue reading

Download this piece as a PDF
Posted in Labor, Movement History

Cesar Chavez, the Movie

I went to see the movie, Cesar Chavez on his birthday, March 31st.  I watched and felt a mix of sentiments about it.  Being an individual who was partly inspired by Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union (U.F.W.) I felt a certain amount of kinship with the characters of the movie.  As a former union president, of the International Molders & Allied Workers Union Local #164 in Northern California I felt a sense of solidarity.  I met Chavez in Exeter, CA in 1979 while we discussed mutual support of each others unions.  They walked with us in our picket lines and we walked with them and supported their boycott campaign.

The national boycott was inspiration to many people of my generation.  We walked picket lines at Safeway and Lucky stores to discourage shoppers from buying grapes and lettuce.  Many young Chicanas and Chicanos like myself thought of the United Farm Workers Union as an extension of the “Chicano Movement.”  The Huelga (strike) made people conscious of the conflict between capitalists and workers in an agricultural setting.

Continue reading

Download this piece as a PDF
Posted in Chicano National Movement, Movies

Chokwe: Reflections on a Fallen Warrior

Chokwe Lumumba with his children Antar and Rukia.

Chokwe Lumumba with his children Antar and Rukia.

It is surreal.

Instead of welcoming the impending celebration of Chokwe Lumumba’s first year in office as mayor of Jackson, we are struggling to put his son into the mayor’s vacated seat. Chokwe Antar Lumumba was hastily drafted to run in a special election after his father’s shocking death on February 25.

Just over a month before Chokwe’s death, the Black Liberation Movement and the international progressive community was mourning the sudden death of Amiri Baraka. Renowned poet, playwright and activist, Baraka died of natural causes at 79 years old. I was still reeling from the death of my friend and mentor when the news of Chokwe came like a wound-up punch to the stomach. It has taken time to process it all.

Continue reading

Download this piece as a PDF
Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Presente!

A Note to Socialist Union Staffers: Build Working Class Power!

Many of our friends and members hold staff positions in unions.  In some cases, comrades who were rank and file union members lost their jobs due to plant closures and layoffs and migrated into staff jobs.  In the 1990s, the AFL-CIO and some of its affiliate unions launched a recruitment drive for young progressives and leftists to become staff organizers.  They started an Organizing Institute which recruited heavily on college campuses.  Young socialists continue to become staff organizers as a way of earning a living and making a contribution to the labor movement. Unions have also recruited new staff from among their rank and file.  Sometimes union staff have become radicalized by the experience of organizing workers under extreme opposition, both in workplaces and in the legislative arena.

But too often, when socialists become union staffers, they reduce their practice to just being hard working trade unionists.  They devote themselves to trying to defend union members’ rights at work or organizing more workers into the union. They start to adopt the prejudices and narrowness of their particular union. They shrug their shoulders about the broader attack on workers and stop reading and studying about Marxism, labor history, social justice movements, international politics, etc. As they retreat into the demands of their jobs and their personal lives, their leftist politics become muted or disappear.

Continue reading

Download this piece as a PDF
Posted in Labor

Fast Food Workers: Giving Juice to a Revived Living Wage Movement

Fight For Fifteen - Workers rally in the rain in MemphisOn the morning of December 5th, 15 fast food workers and 30 supporters gathered outside the McDonald’s on Highland in Memphis, Tennessee. After some picket-line discussion of tactics and their risks, one worker, Reese, said “I didn’t come here to stand around outside, we’re taking over that store!”1 In the blink of an eye, 45 people, mostly in their 20’s and 30’s, mostly African American men and women, piled into the McDonalds. Another worker, Lee, jumped onto a table, joined by others, to the swinging bass rhythm of chanting: “We can’t survive! On seven twenty five!” Then, riffing on Drake’s hit, we switched to something new:

We started from the bottom, now we’re here
Seven twenty five, just ain’t fair!

Workers on the clock bobbed their head and put hands in the air while we danced on tables and in between the aisles. After 5 minutes we rolled out and headed to another McDonalds on Elvis Presley Blvd where the same thing happened again. We added exterior signs and an adjacent highway to our temporarily occupied territory, and rocked even harder: after all, it was Elvis Presely Blvd.

Photo by Daniel Arauz - http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielarauz/8701465434/

We in Memphis were part of a much broader day of action, the “Fight For Fifteen,” focused for the most part in cities across the Midwest and Northeast. The Memphis workers, along with workers from Nashville, TN, Columbus, Missouri, St. Louis, MO, and Lexington, Kentucky, had voted on the strike two days before at a regional meeting in St. Louis. Community supporters from Organization for Black Struggle, Jobs with Justice, and other groups took the stage, one after the other, to pledge support to a movement that was “picking up where MLK left off when he was struck down.” When Memphis workers took the stage they did it in a bumping group of two dozen people. From the lectern they broke into a spontaneous chant: “What do we want? More money!” while Carlos, a leading Memphis striker, bellowed “This is history in the making! History in the making.” The decision to strike was passed unanimously, 96 – 0.

Continue reading

Download this piece as a PDF
Posted in Labor, Oppressed Nationalities

Official Slogans for Comrade Valentine’s Day 2014

cvd-candy-cleaned

Toilers! Tillers! All who yearn and fight for a better world!

Let us surge forward together, wave on wave, illumined by the bright red rays of Comrade Valentine’s revolutionary romanticism!

Decisively demolish the saccharine commodity fetishism with which the bourgeoisie attempts to smother the proletarian character of Comrade Valentine’s Day!!

Joyously celebrate the deepening rejection of heteropatriarchal homophobia by the masses in their millions, a victory for Comrade Valentine’s Communist line!!!

Continue reading

Download this piece as a PDF
Posted in Culture

Bridging the Chasm between Environmental and Economic Justice: A Conversation with Bill Fletcher and Bill Gallegos

Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said about the choice between a clean environment and good jobs, “You can have both, or you have neither.”A rift exists between those good trade unionists who fight for decent jobs and a just economy, and those good environmentalists who fight for a planet where all human beings can be healthy.

In the Appalachian coalfields, the same corporations who deliberately keep non-coal jobs out of the region and blast the mountains apart for greater profits lie to mining communities that the reason for layoffs is the Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called “War on Coal.” An eastern Kentucky retired miner writes, “I prefer dirty coal over ‘Christmas in Appalachia’ pity,” not recognizing greater options.

And so three activists decided to have a conversation about jobs and the environment. Bill Fletcher is committed to economic justice and working class solidarity. Bill Gallegos is dedicated to the environmental justice and climate justice movements. Anne Lewis is a documentary filmmaker with deep interests in labor and environmental justice.

We decided not to hold back from material and political divisions, or from the imagination that has built concrete experiments for unity.

Continue reading

Download this piece as a PDF
Posted in Ecological Crisis, Labor

Appreciating what’s been said: Reflections on Amiri Baraka

Jamala_Amiri“Appreciating what’s been said and if I understand correctly…”

That was the routine and respectful phrase we used in the Congress of African People when we were about to engage in some serious discussion. As I faced the reality of Amiri Baraka’s death, I couldn’t help but reflect on his impact on my life.

As a young radical, heavily influenced by the Black Student and Black Power Movements, I was looking for a political home when a group of like-minded young people from St. Louis made a trip to New Ark, New Jersey to visit the headquarters of the Congress of African People (CAP). The rest is history.

The enthusiastic group came back to St. Louis and established the St. Louis chapter of CAP. We were not just swayed by the ideology of Black Nationalism or by Kawaida doctrine; it was the material manifestations that was inspiring. We saw the practical applications of Kwanzaa Principles such as Cooperative Economics and Collective Work and Responsibility with the internal restaurant and daycare as well as public enterprises like bookstores. We saw what organization looked like.

Continue reading

Download this piece as a PDF
Posted in Presente!

Now that Madiba is Dead…

beware the icon makers
they will say he was great
they will laud his calls for peace
they will wring their hands and cry
speaking only of the man
disregarding the people
explaining away the movement
pretending the revolution was won
they will deny their guilt
denying their privilege
obscuring his birth in the pains and the blood of his people
denying the capital crimes
of neoliberal friends of apartheid still alive
now that Mandela is dead

they will say no one else will come
they will wink that we still organize
they will pretend that de Klerk was his friend
they will ignore the birth pangs in Jo’burg today
pretending to honor him with deceitful silence
in the face of Capetown shanties and Manenburg misery
and Durban oppression
while former murderers still prey
and bougie negros still play
while lying bishops still pray
and corporations still rape
and the people in South Africa still die
like people across the Global South
as the Revolution dies as Madiba’s children live in squalor
as the wine growers awake in shacks
as the homeless sleep beneath the floors of stores—after hours
when they will not be seen while they are still being sold

beware the speakers of phrases that lie
they will disremember liberation struggles
that have yet to be won
they will pretend that Mandela belonged to them
denying the people to whom he belonged

remember to remember Chris Hani
remember to remember Robben Island
remember to remember the South African Charter
remember to remember that icons created by oppressors
will never liberate the people
remember to remember that they are still killing Martin
remember to remember that they are still killing Malcolm
remember to remember that Assata still lives
remember to remember that our liberation will be sold to us for profits
unless we work for it with our minds and our actions
then we will remember Mandela as he was
for he will live inside us
and the lies will no longer deceive
because the struggle will continue
and the last will be first at last

Download this piece as a PDF
Posted in Poetry