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Tidbits - June 12, 2014

Reader Comments - Politics and Post-Capitalism; Gabriel Kolko; Shondes - Blacklisted by the `Jewish Community; Yuri Kochiyama; Guantanamo: Bowe Bergdahl; Jewish Day School vs. Teachers Union; Blood Type; Europe post Elections; Supreme Court Ruling on Teacher Tenure; US Foreign Policy. Announcements - Dialogue with Leaders of Mexican Labor Movement - June 26 - New York: 45th contingent Venceremos Brigade; Peoples Climate March - New York - Sept. 20-21

Reader Comments and Announcements - June 12, 2014,Portside

What if? Politics and Post-Capitalism
By William K. Tabb
April 3, 2014
Critical Sociology

In a famous passage from the Preface to the 1859 Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy Marx writes:

At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. (1968 [1859])

At such a time one can envision three possibilities. The one leftists can too easily presume is a revolutionary movement sweeping away the old order incapable of self-preservation. But the crisis may prompt reforms that are far reaching enough to bring about a new stage of capitalist development, one that allows expanded reproduction on a more secure basis. Finally, it is possible that the forces of reaction win, the working class pay a high price, that capitalism enters a new stage in which solutions dramatically reducing living standards for the many are imposed through repressive means, violence, the threat of violence, or simply the threat of capital abandoning the workers if they do not surrender. The new era can be one of redistributive growth in which profits are generated by an intensification of exploitation and extraction of the surplus from workers and appropriation of the public sphere robbed of assets and popular functions by a vulture capitalism. As this is written our historical moment is best described by the third alternative. A `hard' capital position with regard to the working class is being implemented even as (at the moment this is written) the stock market has reached an historic high.

The questions I will raise in this essay are the seriousness of what is likely to be an extended period of system crisis, divisions of cultural politics and material positions within the broad left, and the need to take the state seriously as a site of struggle in the context of a recognition of the global structures of capitalism. READ MORE here.

Re: Gabriel Kolko, Left-Leaning Historian of U.S. Policy, Dies at 81

Kolko stood as a giant in the analysis of the military-industrial-academic complex and its effect upon our domestic and foreign policies.  On the other hand, I doubt how much illusion and myth surrounds and extends out of the New Deal.  At least among labor union people of that generation, it was not uncommon to hear "Yeah, FDR saved the rich from themselves and they've hated him for it ever since."  They respected FDR but also understood reality.  If the Democratic Party wraps itself in a New Deal myth today, it may be deceiving only itself.  Its conservatism stands in stark relief whenever anything resembling class issues arises.

Incidentally, we find the meaningful precedents for the New Deal in the progressivism of the Populists, the Socialists,Theodore Roosevelt, Robert Lafollette, Woodrow Wilson, and their inspired predecessors, cohorts, and followers.

Jim Young
Harrisburg, PA


TO: Jim Grossman, Executive Director, American Historical Association

I assume you will agree with my Facebook comment below: the Times obit for Gaby Kolko is vile, stupid, illiterate, an archaic attack on a leading historian. I hope the AHA will voice an organizational protest.What's at stake here is both truth and the standing of our profession in the public eye, and historians from left to right should see it that way.

Unspeakably vile obit to Gaby Kolko by one William Yardley in the NY Times. It took them three weeks to produce this shit. They look for antidotes to Kolko's history in quotations from dead or near-dead relics of ancient times: David Donald of Harvard (who at some point in his ascent grew a middle name), Gaddis Smith of Yale. It really is back to the old days of anit-Communism, with Kolko portrayed as an apologist for Communism, with "distorting...left bias..." "Cage-rattling" is, for me, a new one, with some implication that only an animal would write so critically. Another new one is the apparent shock expressed that he "remained an emeritus professor" -- even after retirement. I'm tired of having left people described as "left-leaning" -- reminds me of Sheryl Sandberg. And with great credit to Kolko, one nonetheless reels at the presentation of him as the sole discoverer of "corporate liberalism."...

Jesse Lemisch
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Blacklisted by the `Jewish Community' over Israel, the Shondes Take their Stand

What does this say about the people who are allowed to play? Did they sign a loyalty oath?

Ethan Young
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I'm a non-Jew -a goy, and an atheist to boot. I hesitate to get involved in issues that are entirely within the Jewish community (as opposed to getting involved in the Palestinian/Israeli situation where, because I'm an American tax payer, I'm involved whether I like it or not).

There are times when aspects of the orthodox Jewish community drive me nuts - their effort to suppress action on the sexual abuse of children, for example.

But then along comes this statement and  I remember what I find in the Jewish tradition that I so rarely found in the Protestant tradition from which I come - it is the warmth of engagement with events, a sense of struggle for the humane position, a concern about the community. It was what I learned in my life from the Jews who have touched me deeply: Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Edward Gottlieb, Igal Roodenko, Norma Becker, I.F. Stone, Noam Chomsky, Gil Green, Sam Coleman - and so many others.

And I find it again here in this statement by these young women. All Jews represent Judaism, whether they like it or not, while all of us, saint and sinner alike, represent the human condition, whether we like it or not.

These women speak clearly to the deep power that can be found in Judaism. They are far more in the authentic Jewish tradition than those who would silence them. More power to them. Sing on.

David McReynolds


Shades of the Dixie Chicks! Bravo to the Shondes; may their courage ignite a fire of freedom to burn away the Israeli hatred that has corrupted and distorted Israel's image into something more akin to the Nazi terrorism that destroyed the lives and homes of German Jews, as well as others trapped in ghettos and concentration camps.

Furaha Youngblood
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Politically heroic gals. I wish they had something to say about where my tax dollars go!

William Kunz
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Civil Rights Champion Yuri Kochiyama Dies at 93

Yuri Kochiyama, as Malcolm X, was not a "civil rights champion" but a revolutionary.  It may be convenient for some to forget, but there were (and in a few dark corners still are) revolutionaries who strove to radically overhaul this ghastly system.  Do not mock Yuri by calling her a civil rights champion.  She was a militant anti-imperialist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist.

Joseph Kaye

Re: The Gitmo Quandary

Could someone please examine the "legalities" of U.S. control/ownership of Guantanamo?! I thought the "lease" had long expired! If there is NO legal base for U.S. ownership- then it means we have seized that part of another country ala Crimea!

Aaron Libson

Re: Bowe Bergdahl and the Honorable History of War Deserters

we need to start outing all the chicken-hawks who are excoriating Bowe Bergdahl.

Jonathan Rivin

Re: Jewish Day School Wants To End Teachers Union

(posted on Portside Labor)

Rabbi Jacobs, who is executive director of T'ruah, formerly the American branch of Rabbis for Human Rights, said: "Jewish law is really, really clear on this. The idea is that there is no other way to guarantee that workers will have the right to protection without giving them collective bargaining power with a union."

Orland Foster
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Don't they remember emma goldman... The yiddiscge Zeitung... Our history taking the high road to protect those who labor???

Karin Pritikin
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Your Blood Type is a Lot More Complicated Than You Think

I had no idea that blood was so complicated.

Joan Kramer
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Europe: The Sky's Not Falling

If one doesn't now what he is talking about, one is sure to make a wrong picture, just to site one example from this article the portuguese socialist party is not anti-austerity at all, in fact they initiated it!

Carlos Sa


A breath of common sense!

James Young
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Judge Rejects Teacher Tenure for California

Say guys--not sure this is a good idea!  In most places, tenure only means one is entitled to "due process"---principals hated the process because you had to go through the process of a hearing -a review/hearing - of said process - and the teacher "had a voice"---in brief , it was time consuming..or - is this just another form of union busting???

Bertrand Brown

[Moderator's Note: We think this is a terrible reason, by running this post we were doing it as away of informing our readers of this new attack on workers, unions and education by the Supreme Court. (sorry for any confusion as to where Portside stands.)


It would be healthy to examine the origins of the practice of awarding tenure to teachers. There needs to be academic freedom for the educated instructor to teach without the harassment of McCarthy Era type oversight.

Karyne Dunbar

Re: Why that ruling against teacher tenure won't help your schoolchildren

I tend to lean toward the Portside perspective more often than not, but in this case, the arguments offered just do not hold merit.

I'm 100% for improving the school system, providing better educational opportunities, etc., which is exactly why I find this fanatical, unyielding protection of the current seniority based tenure system so destructive.

My viewpoint is not unique, even among many "traditional" liberals.

Putting more technology into the classroom, increasing salaries for teachers, and other such needed improvements, are all absolutely appropriate goals to implement.

But NOT before uprooting the entrenched bureaucratic system which has mired the public school system into a morass of self serving mediocrity.

Sorry folks, this is one time I'm simply not buying into the usual "left" program.

Charles Ostman
Sebastopol, CA

Re: Post-9/11 US Foreign Policy: A Record of Unparalleled Failure

I usually like Englehardt's work but this article really misses the point.

In true Liberal fashion he operates out of a premise that there is a discussion warranted on whether our foreign policy has achieved its stated goals. And therein lies the issue - the premise that there is a foreign policy based on the publicly stated goals.

The reality is that the US foreign policy has been pretty successful, doing exactly what it sets out to do.  Unfortunately what is fed to the mass media, has little to do with the real goals.  These goals are hegemonic, economic imperialism, disruptive of other nations, especially those with coveted resources.  The human misery and destruction created have little meaning to the narcissistic sociopaths who deal with all living systems and bodies as only things to be controlled, bested and then destroyed.

Wish your choice of articles would reflect the reality of our lives and not more diversionary arguments.

tanya marquette

International Dialogue with Leaders of the Mexican Labor Movement - June 26 - New York

Meet leaders of Frente Aut,ntico del Trabajo/Authentic Workers' Front (FAT), an independent federation of labor unions, worker owned cooperatives, and farmworker and community organizations. FAT is well known for promoting democracy in unions, and in all of Mexico. They represent workers in manufacturing, as well as transportation and the public sector, in more than half the states of Mexico. FAT also plays a leading role in the fight against NAFTA and the Mexican government's harsh austerity policies. don't miss this chance to share their experiences and put our own campaigns in an international perspective!

Thursday, June 26, 2014
Murphy Institute, 25 West 43rd Street, 18th floor
Reception 6:00 pm, Program 6:30 pm

Free and open to the public.
Please RSVP


Left Labor Project


July 20-Aug. 2: 45th contingent of the Venceremos Brigade

The 45th contingent of the Venceremos Brigade is getting ready to travel to Cuba from July 20th to August 2nd. The group will visit places of interests and will get a first had look at the current economic transformations underway across the island. The Venceremos Brigade will receive lectures on the Cuban reality and will be able to exchange with the people and also participate in the July 26th commemorations.

In 1969, a coalition of young people formed the Venceremos (We Shall Overcome) Brigade, as a means of showing solidarity with the Cuban Revolution by working side by side with Cuban workers and challenging U.S. policies towards Cuba, including the economic blockade and our government's ban on travel to the island. The first Brigades participated in sugar harvests and subsequent Brigades have done agricultural and construction work in many parts of the island.

It is the perfect moment to come to Cuba with the group as a number of growing Americans are in favor of lifting the unjust economic blockade and are calling for normalizing ties between both countries and the release of the remaining 3 members of the Cuban Five.

If you are interested in joining this year's Brigade to Cuba please email to

Peoples Climate March - New York - Sept. 20-21

This is an invitation to change everything.

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a historic UN summit on climate change. With our future on the line and the whole world watching, let's take a weekend and use it to bend the course of history. Let's make The Peoples Climate March the largest-ever demonstration demanding action on climate change.

Together, we'll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet. A world safe from the ravages of climate change. A world with good jobs, clean air, and healthy communities for everyone. This is the moment to bring our different movements together, articulate our common challenges and solutions, and go big.

Sign up now  - or read Bill McKibben's more formal invitation in Rolling Stone here.



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