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Tidbits – April 28, 2022. Reader Comments and Announcements.

Reader comments: War in Ukraine and the Crisis of the Left and more. Announcements: Books, Films, Events.

Reader Comments

Re: The War in Ukraine and the Crisis of the Left
Re: How To End the War in Ukraine
Re: MI State Senator Delivers Fiery Rebuke
Re: Republicans Are Determined To Stop Teachers
Re: Teaching the Past To Improve the Future
Re: Abolition Democracy’s Forgotten Founder
Re: Corporate Profits Have Contributed to Inflation
Re: Rent Debate in San Francisco
Re: Creative Writing Programs De-Politicize Fiction


Workers' Memorial Day Plaque (Illinois)
May Day Festival: Haledon, NJ
Book: Because Our Fathers Lied

Book Talk: Power Concedes Nothing
Film Showing: Death of a Jewish Radical

Re: Whose Side Are We On? The War in Ukraine and the Crisis of the Left

Clear, concise and completely on point! Congratulations to Van Gosse and Bill Fletcher for this analysis.


If you like this article, please sign up for Snapshot, Portside's daily summary.

(One summary e-mail a day, you can change anytime, and Portside is always free.)

Stan Nadel

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Absolutely wrong! "Whose side are we on" is precisely the wrong question for those of us who are anti-Imperialist. An anti-Imperialist can only be on "the side" of the people, not on the side of governments who are never on the side of the people. The conflict in Ukraine is a perfect example as it is a proxy war between the two powers of the USA and Russia Federation, primarily instigated by the USA Empire setting up the puppet government in Keiv after the 2014 coup instigated,, funded, and supported militarily by the USA. An anti-Impeerialist can't choose to be on side of a phony "sovereign nation" because the Ukraine is not a sovereign democratic nation since the USA coup over threw the democratically elected president of the sovereign Ukraine..

Alan Gregory Wonderwheel

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Alan Gregory Wonderwheel - You are conflating 'government' and 'nation', and a Ukraine nation indeed exists. Moreover the Zelensky-led government replaced the one immediately following the Maiden events, with the far right losing all but one of its seats. The pro-Russian president was a bizarre kleptocrat, and the one immediately following him wasn't much better. Zelenkshy, however, has surprised everyone, first standing up tp Trump's intrigues, and now Putin's fascist effort to absorb Ukraine back into Russia.

Carl Davidson

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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To See the destruction of human life and their lives as we have not seen (in the west) in 80+ years. In the name of the LIE of 9-11 we did the same to Iraq  and then on to Afghanistan. Now we see it in the flesh and all of that social property lost as well.  The social property built over 3 generations LOST and to have to start over!!

How can anyone support Putin unless you are afraid for your privilege or lift ie the Russian Orthodox Church  approval of the murder of fellow Orthodox Christians    Hummmm

Tom Spellman

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What a hack job for NATO and US imperialism. You frame the questions and then answer them for us. Thanks, but the US media has been doing this already for decades. What kind of leftist are you , a social democrat allied to US imperialism trying to get the left to support NATO.

Bernard Sampson

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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The war in Ukraine is both a war for national independence and a proxy war between imperial powers.

Regardless of what it says, the US does not support independence for Ukraine, any more than it supports the independence of any nation under its own imperial control. The US entered this war to expand its empire by defeating Russia and threatening China.

Gosse and Fletcher are mistaken. NATO nations do not care about the suffering of Ukrainians anymore than they care about the suffering of their own populations.

We have to oppose BOTH the Russian invasion of Ukraine AND the military intervention of US/NATO. Our task is not to cheer one imperial power over another, but to call on workers of all nations to join forces, turn against their exploiters, and end war altogether.

Susan Rosenthal

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Cogent piece. The points are obvious, but need to be made. Opposing or remaining "neutral" on Ukraine's defense against the Russian attack is the Anti-Imperialism of Fools.

James Berger

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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I am on the side that leads to actual, not necessarily ideal, peace. I like Franklin's phrase "I never saw a good war, nor a bad peace." over demands to have a division of the  house on First Principles, as I read Brother Fletcher.  Real peace unfortunately cannot ignore regional and global security conflicts. The Internet, and Globalization -- of which the 'age of Imperialism' (as defined* economically *by Lenin) *was a stage* -- has undermined many formally sacred, abstract principles. "Sovereignty" is one of them.

I do not see a concrete end to the Ukraine war that does not include Ukrainian neutrality, partition, or both. If there is a dominant imperial military -- political alliance, reflecting the leading capitalist interests in maintaining a DOMINANT strategic global position -- it is NATO, whose security is guaranteed by the US military. It does not include Russia. I do not see a path to peace, nor a victory for the principles of peaceful coexistence overtaking principles of "dominion" in foreign policy -- that ignores regional and global security, and other existential matters.

For the record, I think Putin should have followed Franklin's advice, regardless of the merit of Russia's grievances against NATO, as we should now.

Further, and perhaps it is a weakness of mine, rigid abstract principles make me seasick. They get inevitably declared unfit by history. Without context they are little more than intuitions. As Brother Don Tormey of UE legend once explained:

"When a scab runs over a picketter, that's a BAD THING. But when a

strikebreaker gets hurt taking a striker's job -- that's NOT SO BAD."

As a veteran of two strikes, personally, that principle had appeal. I was a young organizer eager for expertise in the class war. I was prepared to apply that principle to a mid-contract walkout from a camera mfg shop in Massachusetts. I called Tormey to confirm.

He said: "That principle does not apply here!! No showdowns!", he screamed at me over the phone. "Why?", I asked

"Because too many scabs were being recruited from the Boston African American community. The local is all white and cooperated with a racist hiring policy for years".

"What should they do?"

"The settlement must now include a change in the company hiring policy, forgiveness for an illegal strike, plus accumulated grievances that led to the walkout. Tell the members to form an organized brigade lineup, and march through security and back into the shop where they should take possession of as many machines as are not already tended by strikebreakers.|"

Then what? Don would render his fabulous big grin: "Possession is nine-tenths of the LAW".

It sounded like Kafka to me, at the time. But it worked. Bargaining did begin. A complex struggle with the employer that had a good community relations outcome.

John Case

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Nonsense.  This is an imperialist war and all moral people should oppose it.  That means demanding negotiations not arming Ukraine until the last Ukrainian is dead.  That seems to be what these people are advocating — a war that cannot end until Ukraine is destroyed.  And they call that Left politics?  Hardly, it is idiocy, indecency sacrificing other people and their country just so Biden can degrade Putin’s power.  Leftists should know better than to play their games.

Richard Curtis

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Thank you Susan Rosenthal. I was sickened when I saw the Van Gosse & Fletcher article this morning, as I have been sicked by many other people on the Left saying such bellicose, doctrinaire inanities. Supporting the would-be world hegemon (US/NATO) is not supporting the Ukrainian people nor their sovereignty as a so-called "independent nation."

In fact, the Ukrainian people voted for peace when Zelensky ran as a peace candidate in 2019. He abandoned and/or betrayed the mandate of the people when he aggressively sought NATO membership and weapons instead of negotiations with Russia and enforcement of the Minsk Agreements. Apparently, Ukraine could have been an independent sovereign country had they taken the deal Putin offered them.

Zelensky and whichever oligarch(s) are calling the shots with him chose this war, provoked this war, knowingly and intentionally. Putin's Russia did the predictable thing and exactly what they said they would do. The Ukrainian people are paying the horrible price. And so-called "Leftists" are applauding sending more weapons to prolong the carnage and wreck the country. Sickening.

Carol Spooner

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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While the left should oppose the war and call for negotiation to end the war, they should also call on the U.S. and the EU to stop funding the war.

Kris Sarabjit

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Will the left survive this divide? Eventually. But the enormity of Putin's invasion will only grow in significance, and the worries that opposing it from the left will somehow strengthen the west, will seem laughable in time. Ironically, as Russia's Nordic neighbors start moving to NATO, it looks like Putin is NATO's best friend.

Ethan Young

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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‘Focusing on what the U.S. did or didn’t do takes the focus off who started it, and absolves Russia from its sole responsibility for initiating a war of aggression. Beyond that, it betrays an Americo-centric view of the world that is at odds with reality. The United States is no longer a world hegemon.’

Correctly, the authors, condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Under international law, any reasonable ethical or moral standard, in terms of death and destruction and even strategically - regardless of outcome this invasion can and should be condemned. That said, to claim them at the USA is not a hegemon is not supported by history or data. In terms of the global economy, military aid, arms sales and military spending, cultural or soft power, and active foreign interventions - the USA is a global hegemon. The USA is the very definition of a hegemon. Ask the peoples of the global South if the authors have any lingering doubt.

Living and organizing in the heart of THE global hegemon puts a tremendous responsibility on our shoulders. Throughout the world our call must be ‘US out’. With regard to the US military budget - the bombs sent to Ukraine or Yemen or Israel or sold to Saudi Arabia are indeed ‘ bursting across America. ‘

Building a powerful movement against interventions and against the worlds largest and most destructive military industrial complex is a primary task faced for the various lefts across the USA. No exceptions.

Jon Liss

Re: How To End the War in Ukraine: A Solution Beyond Sanctions

Alfred McCoy's article (4/21/22) read like a declaration from Blinken.


John Stuckey

Re: Michigan State Senator Delivers Fiery Rebuke After Colleague Accuses Her of ‘Grooming’ Kids

She is absolutely Awsome! Every Democrat running for any office should study her speach!

Richard Bigg Sr.

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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She is incredible

David Boim

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Republicans Are Determined To Stop Teachers From Educating Students

In these days of algorithm-driven outrage, there are no spontaneous grassroots protests.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Teaching the Past To Improve the Future

There should be no subject or topic off-limits for children to learn about. They hear you talking at home; they know what you think. Starting in Kindergarten, they can have school "discussions" on current issues.

Let them learn that not everyone agrees with their parents and why; let them hear rationale that I think despicable to let them know it's out there.

Let them choose a topic they hear about. Ask for their opinions. "Agree" or "Disagree" "Do you know what happened?". AND most important, if they offer an opinion, ask "Why do you have that opinion." In Kindergarten, the answer to "why" may be a sentence or two at most. But everyone hears it; everyone can express an opinion; everyone knows it is "controversial" even if they don't know what that word means. And nobody is "wrong."

Even the teacher should express an opinion, beginning with "I think..." If it's controversial, the teacher doesn't have a "fact" any more than anyone else does.

The children may hear, "They are dirty" and "They are no different from the rest of us."

"It didn't really happen." and "It happened to my grandpa." Learning to know, think, absorb, weigh information. Isn't that what learning/school should be about?

Arlene Halfon

Re: Abolition Democracy’s Forgotten Founder

So grateful to Portside for posting this terrific piece and major appreciations to my intellectual mentor, Robin Kelley, for yet another great historical intervention.

John Berman

Re: Corporate Profits Have Contributed Disproportionately to Inflation. How Should Policymakers Respond?

Via Portside comes this important look at inflation. Corporate profits and supply chain costs are driving higher prices.

"In short, the rise in inflation has not been driven by anything that looks like an overheating labor market—instead it has been driven by higher corporate profit margins and supply-chain bottlenecks. Policy efforts meant to cool off labor markets—like very rapid and sharp interest rate increases—are likely not necessary to restrain inflationary pressures in the medium term."

Price controls and windfall profit taxes would help much more than the Federal Reserve's effort to reduce wages.

Daniel Millstone

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Reminds me of our inflation in the 70’s, credit cards had come in and added 3% to every transaction, driving inflation through the roof. Wages got blamed because banks controlled the narrative and didn’t want the windfall impeded. Same thing now only big business is covering its ass. This greed is one of the worst after effects of Covid.

Jim Lockwood

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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What an idiotic piece of disinformation. There is not a single mention of government monetary policy in here. The gov printing trillions of dollars IS the problem. Corporations do not create inflation, governments do.

Jeff Saint

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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The rise in inflation has not been driven by anything that looks like an overheating labor market—instead it has been driven by higher corporate profit margins and supply-chain bottlenecks.

Lakmali Hemachandra

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: A New Effort in San Francisco Aims To Debate Rent at the Bargaining Table

San Francisco has rent control, but when a unit becomes vacant, the rent can be set to “market rate”.

Norm Littlejohn

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Yes, this could be important.  Brad Hirn of Veritas was the featured speaker on this breakthrough yesterday at Senior & Disability Actions's Housing Collaborative.

Kathy Lipscomb

Re: How Creative Writing Programs De-Politicized Fiction

An interesting read about creative writing programs.

Ken Robison

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What did you learn in school today?

Some of our talented musicians ought to record Tom Paxton's 1964 song "What did you learn in school today?" for today's audiences. We could mount a campaign to promote radio play along with all the digital media choices, and present live performances at schools and political events, particularly in places where textbook and curriculum battles are in the news. Someone might want to compose new verses on timely subjects.

Ken Lawrence

Spring Mills, Pennsylvania

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Interesting article. It is parallel to the official story for art, where the emptiness of Jackson Pollack was lionized and others like Jacob Lawrence were ignored. Nonetheless I think that some authors like John Updike, who described the hidden terror of being upper middle class in Connecticut, achieved surprising depth through their descriptions.

Sonia Cobbins

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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There's a small disconnect in this largely accurate picture. Modernists, abstractionists of the arts were often enough lefties, and they viewed their promotion by liberal cold warriors uneasily. By and large, those who were pushed out had social commitments, from the CP to the WPA

Paul Buhle

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Workers’ Memorial Day historic plaque unveiling

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Treasurer Mike Frerichs, Comptroller Susana Mendoza and rock musician Tom Morello (formerly with Rage Against the Machine) will appear at 5 p.m., April 28 in Marseilles, Illinois to commemorate Steve Sutton, an unemployed Croatian immigrant gunned down on July 19, 1932. The event was banner headlines in Chicago after the shooting.

An Illinois State Historical Society roadside marker will be unveiled marking the 1932 event. Morello, who has roots in Marseilles, will play a set. Other officials present will include 76th District Illinois State Representative Lance Yednock and Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea.

In 1932 federal dollars supported renovating the Marseilles Illinois River dam. A New Orleans contractor won the bid and imported out-of-state workers. On July 18, local unemployed workers from Will, Grundy and LaSalle counties demonstrated, seeking work on the project and local wage standards upheld. On July 19 over 300 workers marched. As they neared the dam site, the out-of-state workers were hiding in rail cars and unleashed a fusillade of bullets. Steve Sutton, a Croatian immigrant and Joliet Iron Worker and Laborer was killed and 21 others injured. The Illinois State Police and local law enforcement arrived, arresting 125 out-of-state workers for their own safety. Negotiations eventually led to local hiring and the establishment of Laborers International Union of North America Local 393 in Marseilles to provide the needed local workforce.

Musician Tom Morello spent his childhood summers in Marseilles and has written songs about the community and particularly about Sutton’s death in Night Falls.

On January 5, 2022, he wrote a New York Times commentary about Marseilles, its impact on him and its rich working class history, “Class Struggle in my Family’s Hometown.”

Sponsoring organizations include the Illinois State Historical Society, ULLICO, Inc., the Illinois Labor History Society, the Mother Jones Museum, and Laborers International Union of North America, Midwest Region, Great Plains Laborers District Council and Local 393.

The AFL-CIO sponsors Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28 to commemorate all who have lost their lives to on-the-job accidents and exposures.

The event is at the Illinois Valley Cellular Parking lot, 200 Riverfront Drive, Marseilles. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Mike Matejka, Vice-President, Illinois Labor History Society, 309-208-1120,, or Kevin Dale, business manager, Laborers Local 393, Marseilles, 815-795-2829.

Re: Annual May Day Festival - Haledon, NJ (American Labor Museum) - Tidbits - April 21

Prior to the Solidarity Singers of the New Jersey Industrial Union, Helene Williams & Leonard Lehrman will be performing: Leonard's version of "Gene Debs," inspired by & in memory of Anne Feeney, his musical setting of "A Letter to Louise [Bryant]" (John Reed's Last Poem), and a new bilingual version of "Koloda Duda," the Ukrainian Cossack lullaby that inspired "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

Thank you!

Looking forward -
Leonard & Helene (Williams Spierman) Lehrman

Because Our Fathers Lied: A Memoir of Truth and Family, from Vietnam to Today by Craig McNamara

Craig McNamara came of age in the political tumult and upheaval of the late 60s. While Craig McNamara would grow up to take part in anti-war demonstrations, his father, Robert McNamara, served as John F. Kennedy's Secretary of Defense and the architect of the Vietnam War. This searching and revealing memoir offers an intimate picture of one father and son at pivotal periods in American history. Because Our Fathers Lied is more than a family story—it is a story about America.

Before Robert McNamara joined Kennedy's cabinet, he was an executive who helped turn around Ford Motor Company. Known for his tremendous competence and professionalism, McNamara came to symbolize "the best and the brightest." Craig, his youngest child and only son, struggled in his father's shadow. When he ultimately fails his draft board physical, Craig decides to travel by motorcycle across Central and South America, learning more about the art of agriculture and making what he defines as an honest living. By the book's conclusion, Craig McNamara is farming walnuts in Northern California and coming to terms with his father's legacy.

Because Our Fathers Lied tells the story of the war from the perspective of a single, unforgettable American family.

Expected publication on: May 10, 2022

Little, Brown and Company / Hatchette Book Group

Book Talk: Power Concedes Nothing / May 4

Listen in to the virtual discussion with organizer contributors of the just-released, must-read book "Power Concedes Nothing"

Convergence Magazine's latest book Power Concedes Nothing: How Grassroots Organizing Wins Elections recounts the on-the-ground efforts that mobilized a record voter turnout in 2020.

Contributors will discuss lessons from the book including what worked, what didn't, and how they approached the challenge of both "going broad" to win a crucial election and "digging deep" to build a base for long-term progressive change.

Maurice Mitchell is a nationally recognized social movement strategist, a leader in the Movement for Black Lives, and national director of the Working Families Party. Following the murder of Mike Brown he relocated to Ferguson to support organizers on the ground, and then co-founded and managed Blackbird to provide strategic support to Movement for Black Lives activists across the country. Since taking the helm of the Working Families Party in 2018 he has worked to make WFP the political home for a multiracial working-class movement.

Stephanie Greenlea is executive assistant to the secretary treasurer at UNITE HERE, where she also leads work in the Immigration, Diversity, and Civil Rights Department and the union’s Black Leadership Group.

Rose Mendelsohn spent several years coordinating Bay Resistance, a rapid response mass-mobilization network in the Bay Area, before becoming Seed the Vote’s organizing director in 2019. Since the 2020 election, Rose has been running a digital organizing fellowship with Bay Rising, and supporting mutual aid and fundraising projects locally.

Register here

Learn more here:

Film Showing - Death of a Jewish Radical in Erie, PA, 1922: Echoes from a Century Ago - May 19

A fresh look at 1920s immigrant activism colliding with the Ku Klux Klan in small-town Pennsylvania

ON Thur. May 19, 2022, the Battle of Homestead Foundation presents a free Zoom program marking the 100th anniversary of a brutal murder of an immigrant shopkeeper and political activist in Erie, Pennsylvania ... a murder that came to symbolize the civic and social turmoil besetting American Democracy in the 1920s.

*** ERIE, PA – April 5, 1922, a postman discovers the lifeless body of Polish-born Herman Martius at his dry goods store on W. 18th Street ... Martius' head has been bashed in, purportedly by an axe.

Police initially suspect the shopkeeper's wife, Beatrice, who had been briefly out of town ... or was he a victim of Red Scare tactics by local law enforcement ... or targeted by the Ku Klux Klan, whose harassment of immigrant businesses was rampant during the period?

A CENTURY LATER, the murder of Herman Martius remains unsolved. But many of the dangerous political currents in the divided America of his time have resurged in our own.

On May 19, historians Kipp Dawson and Lou Martin will present their research on the crime, investigation and community aftermath.

* Ms. Dawson is a granddaughter of Herman and Beatrice Martius and has integrated her family's unique story with the historical events of the day.

* Dr. Martin is an associate professor of history at Chatham University specializing in American labor and working-class history.

The program includes Zoe Levine and Claire Rhode, two Chatham University graduates who created a website detailing the Herman Martius events timeline.

"You can view history as a spiral," says Ms. Dawson. "It repeats itself and at times appears to be going backwards but is ultimately moving forward. However, there is still so much that can be learned from the past."

Register here - FREE.

PLEASE NOTE: upon registration participants are given a Zoom link for the event ... scroll down to the bottom of the *confirmation email* for the link.