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Tidbits - March 28, 2013

Reader Comments on: Lean In and One Percent Feminism; Marx's Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World; BRICS; Dues Check-Off; Obama's Cyber-War; Internet Privacy; Social Security; Independent Worker Unions; Minimum Wage; Detroit; NCAA; Announcements - Fair Elections Rally in NYC - Apr 3; Delegation to Venezuela - Witness the Elections; NYC People's Jazz; Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie, Peter Seeger - Lessons from the Cultural Front,

Re: Lean In and One Percent Feminism

Having been an integral part of the second wave of feminism, I recall the initial aim of so many of us was to change the very nature of our society that not only hindered women but also hampered men with its rigidly held gender stereotypes. Instead along the way many lost sight of this goal and opted instead to be co-opted into a government/corporate structure that continues this patriarchal schism.
Margie Bernard
Identity politics hits the "capitalist ceiling" when a female corporate executive is confronted by demands of women workers. If she supports her sisters' demands that cut profits and stock values of her corporation, she won't last longer than a male would.
Michael Munk
Thank you for a very interesting article.  It might be important also to remember that Marx also said (to paraphrase) 1.  That people participate in their own subjugation.  2. The wealthy will fight back either by  making things worse or by giving in just the tiniest bit. 
More to think about and to use as the motive to organize and make change.
Ellen Watrall
The crucial points about the BRICS Bank (advertised as challenging the WB/IMF) are that:
* bickering between BRICS elites on Wednesday sabotaged SA's anticipated announcement of the $50bn institution being based in SA and so Russia seems to be worried about SA capacity (as are we in SA who are critical of the neoliberal orientation of SA development banking precedents); and
* there are really serious violations of human rights, ecology and progressive-redistributive values in nearly all the development banking by the BRICS countries and their banks... so they could well be even worse than the Bretton Woods Institutions.
Attached are quite a few articles that are critical (and a few supportive) of BRICS, so perhaps you will consider running them? 
Thanks so much, your service is very valuable to us...
[Moderator's Note: Patrick Bond is a political economist based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Development Studies in Durban, where he directs the Centre for Civil Society.]
Sam Gindin's article is well worth reading.  He weighs arguments on both sides of whether there should continue to be automatic dues checkoff or not.  I think it may be true of Canadian workers, and it's definitely true of American workers, that there's a very strong individualist streak.  Many union members look only at the money missing from their paychecks because of dues collection, and not at all the things the union contract has won for them.  A lot of workers would choose to be "free riders," and get the benefits of union representation without paying for them.  This would weaken unions severely.  Where would the money come from to hire more than one or two union reps and maybe one lawyer per local?  Grievances and arbitrations would pile up.
It's true that not having dues checkoff would certainly make unions more responsive to their members.  But, especially in those states where there's no dues checkoff and yet the union has to represent the interests of everyone in the workplace, there'd be many fewer members.  A lot of workers would see a benefit in being free riders, not even realizing, perhaps, that this gravely weakens the union's ability to negotiate better contracts for them and represent them at disciplinary hearings and the like. 
Union staffers, what few remain, can point out the disadvantages of free-riding to workers, but if unions had to spend a great deal of their time fighting rearguard actions, so to speak, there'd be precious little time for other important union  activities.  Republicans in this country and Conservatives in Canada would achieve one of their main goals.  Unions would lack both the money and the time to support pro-labor candidates or to lobby state and federal legislatures.
So, yes, doing without dues checkoff is a very bad idea.  The Right knows what some of us don't seem to fully realize -- that it would weaken unions considerably.  What with all the hand-held devices, the games, the tweets and the texting, a really solitary individualism, with only virtual communities, is likely to increase, not lessen, into the indefinite future.  It is very far from easy to overcome that.  Unions are in a struggle for our very survival.  We need every dime and every union rep we've got.  Maybe some day the extreme solitude induced by texting and gaming can be overcome.  If it can, then voluntary dues paying would be less than suicidal.  Until then, we need to defend dues checkoff with every ounce of our being.
Greg King
Alfred Lopez provides a very alarming account of the latest "weapons of mass destruction" propaganda and of the very real threat to liberty in the U.S. and beyond.  We need to learn how to arm ourselves against this new threat, even as we protest publicly and recruit supporters for the Resistance.
James Young
Let's face it: The bill of rights is already, in fact, a dead letter when it comes to certain classes of people. An ignorant and/or cowardly Congress, bigoted federal judges slotted carefully into key districts, and an executive branch institutionally committed to its own autocracy have hollowed it out. You may find refuge in it still, but not if some executive branch bureaucrat, great or small, decides you are dangerous. Don't count on anything going forward. The path to open dictatorship has been legally opened, even if that road is never taken, there is nothing in law to prevent it. Only the power of a mass resistance. The press is unlikely ever to do again what NYT did with the Pentagon Papers. In the Bush-Obama administration, Ellsburg and his collaborators would be in solitary confinement in some hellhole. Same for Bernstein and the Washington Post staffers.
david worley 
Thanks for the article by Robert Kuttner speaking truth to attack on all of us who struggle each day to survive, Corporations and the wealthy patrons of the current inequalities need to face a wall of resistance from us all.  
In Solidarity  
Gary Kapanowski 
Philadelphia Pa.
Warning: This message may not be from whom it claims to be. Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information. The links that caused this warning have the same background color as this message. I still feel the shorter work week will allot more jobs to more people. A 28 hour week gives a whole day to someone else.
We CAN do this.
Judith Ackerman
(posted on Labor Portside)
"It reminds me of the old guilds" - the precursors of modern-day labor unions - "that focused on workers' individual autonomy, trying to build their own careers, with the backing of a collective organization to assist them," says Janice R. Fine, a professor of employment relations at Rutgers University.
I hope that Janice (or Sara) can comment on connection between "association", "guild" and "union".  What (which of these) exactly was the CORDWAINERS? If a conspiracy to raise labor costs is not a union, what is it to be called?
Were they not, in a classic way, an effort of workers to take labor out of competition therefor a union of sorts? If domestic workers and taxi drivers, why not "freelancers"?
And, if Sara can take $$ from capitalists like Rockefeller, is that different than what my old boss, David Dubinsky, did?
Martin Morand
This article is optimistic in tone! Basically a person cannot live decently in North America on $7.25 an hour - period. People who work and try to should demand more; they should join a union; they should share food and accommodation to try to get out from under.
Most of them are working for huge corporations who pay indecently low and exploitative wages and whose CEOs receive salaries and bonuses that are immoral in a world where 80% of the population does not have enough, money or food or water or all three.
I think the article should have expressed outrage on behalf of these people and not quoted liberal and conservative economists! Economists are theoreticians, who often get it wrong and whose theories politicians love to use as an excuse to do little. A higher minimum wage in America after so many years of not increasing it is a no brainer. And any large company that says it can't pay higher wages or benefits if the minimum wage goes up is lying. They certainly can and should pay more, especially as these days they either aren't or are not being asked to pay more taxes. Indeed since the 1970s corporate tax rates continue to go down.
The individuals in the piece are heroes for just trying to keep going under impossible circumstances but they should get angry and demand more!
Laurel MacDowell,
Toronto, Canada
You might be interested in the post I did on Detroit's Emergency Manager: .The state takeover of the city (the school system has been taken over for 11 of the last 14 years, and is currently in the hands of an EFM), is about more than lack of democracy. Denying our democratic rights is the precondition for the restructuring of the city, attacking unions, outsourcing by claiming this is necessary given the debt. Its the IMF/World Bank approach to a major U.S. city!
In solidarity,
dianne feeley
I wrote a piece responding to Dave's arguments here for the Independent Weekly. I don't think his position is completely thought through for reasons spelled out in article (see link attached).
Thad Williamson
Join us on April 3rd at the auditorium of 1199 SEIU in Manhattan, for a Fair Elections rally with members of New York's labor, tenant, environmental and local organizing communities.  We will join together to demand that New York State make bold reforms to transform our campaign finance system with citizen-funded campaigns.
Our progressive coalition will highlight the importance of legislative action in the post-budget session in Albany to counteract the power of big corporate money and empower the people of New York.  We will be joined by members of the New York State Assembly and Senate, and we will hear from progressive leaders from here in New York and across the United States who are leading the fight for reform.
April 3, 2013 at 5:30pm
Speakers include
  • Ben Jealous, NAACP
  • Phil Radford, Greenpeace
  • George Gresham, 1199SEIU
and more
1199SEIU Auditorium
310 West 43rd St
New York, NY 10036
RSVP here
Meet with grassroots organizations and possibly government officials to learn about the legacy of Hugo Chavez during this crucial time in Venezuela, and how they plan on preserving it into the future.
Delegation leader Lisa Sullivan is Latin America Liaison for the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch and was instrumental in meeting with President Chavez and convincing him to have Venezuela withdraw from the SOA. She has lived in Venezuela for over 20 years, raised a family there, and has been actively involved in organizing the poor and other social movements as a Maryknoll lay missioner.
Our international delegation will be in Venezuela to express solidarity with the social justice movements there during a historically important time. April 11-13 are the dates of the US-backed and SOA graduate-led coup in 2002. We will be there for the anniversary celebration of the successful overturning of the coup when Hugo Chavez returned to the presidential palace on the 13th of April.
Then on April 14, there will be presidential elections, where we will switch gears and serve as international, nonpartisan election observers. The polls have indicated overwhelming popular support for Chavez's vice president and successor Nicolas Maduro, so the US-backed opposition will be trying to cast aspersions on the electoral process.
The Venezuelans have defeated the 1% before. Come reflect and remember with them. And then observe while they do it again.
Please join us. The $750 delegation fee includes room, at least 2 meals per day, and in-country travel. It does not cover transportation to and from Venezuela.
This delegation is sponsored by the Task Force on the Americas and SOA Watch. For more information please contact Dale Sorensen,, 415/924-3227.
SOA Watch, PO Box 4566, Washington, DC 20017
I wanted to bring to your attention two new music/new jazz events coming up in April that will surely be of interest to your readers. I would be very appreciative if you would be bale to offer these events any level of print space. 
You will note that both of them feature the brilliant saxophone work of RAS MOSHE as well as a powerful assortment of other names that will surely be familiar to you. The Dissident Arts Orchestra, a shape-shifting band of improvisers under my direction, has thus far focused only on performing live scores to silent films; this will be our first foray into spoken word. And the Red Microphone ("a special brand of new revolutionary jazz" - DooBeeDooBeeDoo magazine) will be celebrating the release of its debut CD. See below for info on the disc.
john pietaro 
Monday, April 8th, 2013, 8:45 - 9:45
The Sycamore
1118 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn New York 11218
  347 - 240 - 5850 
THE DISSIDENT ARTS ORCHESTRA -with special guest poet Sana Shabazz
Sana Shabazz (spoken word)
John Pietaro (vibraphone, percussion, musical direction)
Cheryl Pyle (flute)
Nick Gianni (bass flute, baritone saxophone)
Rocco John Iacovone (soprano and alto saxophones)
Ras Moshe (tenor and soprano saxophones, flute)
Steve Bloom (electric guitar)
Laurie Towers (electric bass)
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
90 West Houston Street
New York New York 646-823-9617
John Pietaro (vibes/percussion
Ras Moshe (saxophones, flute)
Rocco John Iacovone (saxophones)
Nicolas Letman- Burtinovic (bass)
CD release party!
The band will be celebrating the release of their debut disc 'THE RED MICROPHONE SPEAKS', recorded locally but mastered by legendary new music producer Kramer at NoiseMiami Studio
March 27, 2013
Before there was an internet, with blogs, listservs and web pages to turn to, there was the Health/PAC Bulletin, the hard-hitting and muckraking journal of health activism and health care system analyses and critiques. A new web site,, is a complete and searchable digital collection of Health/PAC's influential publication, which was published from 1968 through 1993. Health/PAC staffers and authors in New York City and briefly, a West Coast office in San Francisco, wrote and spoke to health activists across the country on every issue from free clinics to women's health struggles to health worker organizing to environmental justice. Health/PAC both reported on what was going on and reflected back on a wide variety of strategies and tactics to build a more just health care system - a conversation that continues today.
Health/PAC coined the terms "medical empire" and "medical industrial complex" to capture the ways the profit motive distorted priorities in the American health care system. It critiqued big Pharma and rising health care costs, explored the differing forms of health activism, and made it clear that a seemingly disorganized health care system was in fact quite organized to serve ends other than health care. Its first book, The American Health Empire (1970), published by Random House, brought its analysis to national attention. Other edited collections of the Bulletins followed: Prognosis Negative (1976) and Beyond Crisis (1994). Many of today's leading health activists, reformers and policy scholars got their start at Health/ PAC.
The website adds immeasurably to the resources documenting the history of mid- to late- 20th century American health policy and politics. Activists, scholars, journalists, practitioners, professors, and students will all find these Bulletins a source of useful analysis and information. This is not only a way to learn about the late 20th century history, but to consider why certain issues continue to plague our health system.
The site is a work in progress and we welcome your feedback and suggestions. It was a real labor to get these collected and available and we hope you find the site a useful resource.
by Harry Targ
Purdue University
Online University of the Left
[This paper was a presentation at "Woody at 100: Woody Guthrie's Legacy to Working Men and Women", a conferences at Penn State University, September 8-9, 2012]
Several key concepts in the Marxian tradition influenced the consciousness and political practice of Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger. First, all three were historical and dialectical materialists. They conceived of the socio-economic condition of people's lives as fundamental to the shaping of their activities and consciousness. They were historical materialists in that they understood that the material conditions of people's lives changed as the economic system in which they lived changed. And they were dialectical in that they were sensitive to the contradictory character of human existence.
Second, class as the fundamental conceptual tool for examining a society shaped their thinking. Increasingly they realized that class struggle was a fundamental force for social change... Third, all three addressed a theory of imperialism which they regarded as critical to understanding international relations... Fourth, Robeson, Guthrie, and Seeger saw that community, harmony, and socialism would represent the next stage of societal development...Fifth, Robeson, Guthrie, and Seeger emphasized the connection between theory and practice.
Armed with these insights, the three folk artist/activists discussed below committed themselves to action; action grounded in the struggles of their day. In Gramsci's terms, they were organic intellectuals.

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