For your consideration: A thought-provoking, and timely, piece from a Southern Leftist. – Hasten_Await
By Ron Jacobs
Despite the current media-induced confusion, liberals are not leftists. This misconception is not only embarrassing to those of us who are genuinely leftist in our politics, it is also discrediting the Left. From the New York Times to FOX News, the portrayal of the US Democratic party and Barack Obama as leftist is creating a perception in the US populace that leftists are ineffective politicos who have no principles they won’t modify. Of course, the Left has not done that great of a job explaining the situation in any other way, thereby leaving the way open for the misconceptions put forth by the media to appear as truth.
Party for Socialism and Liberation editorial on the oil spill
Posted to PSL website on Wed, May 5, 2010
Out-of-work fishers on the Gulf Coast
Speaking of the 200,000 gallons of oil (or more) gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, destroying the U.S. coast line and with it tens of thousands of jobs, President Obama told the people of the region, “Your government will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to stop this crisis.” Obama said, “We’re dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.”
“Your government?” Really? Was it not the U.S. government that gave British Petroleum (BP) the right to make billions of dollars by conducting ultra-hazardous oil drilling a mile deep into the ocean floor without having to provide back-up plans for a potential catastrophe?
While Michael Steele became somewhat famous for his disgusting “Drill Baby Drill” chant at the Republican National Convention in 2008, the Democratic Party is just as much in the back pocket of Big Oil and the billionaires.
This article is taken, with permission, from solidarity-us.org.
Submitted by Christian on May 3, 2010 – 11:11am
Like many people in South Louisiana, I have been utterly overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster represented by the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. To witness another catastrophe of this scale, less than five years after post-Katrina levee failures, is almost too much to comprehend. There is a tendency to block it out; to think that this really can’t be happening. But it is.
A boat travels through the Deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
The following post is from the popular anti-racist blog, Why Am I Not Surprised? The blogger, who goes by the name Changeseeker, is a writer, speaker and sociologist who is based in Louisiana. In this post she recounts a recent visit to “Angola” (Louisiana State Penitentiary) – which has an inmate population of 5,108 – with her friend “Boxer,” who spent 20 years in the maximum security prison. (Note that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the United States, and the United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world.) This post from Changeseeker’s blog should be of special interest to Leftists in the South because it contains “Boxer’s” account of the brutal conditions inside Angola, along with Changeseeker’s keen observations on the prison industrial complex, race relations and more.
Yesterday, Boxer and I motored up to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for the spring Arts and Crafts Fair. Most folks also attend the prisoner Rodeo which is always held the same week-end, but I can’t support a gladiator-style competition where untrained prisoners bleed and are sometimes permanently disabled in events (such as bull riding) for which they are completely unprepared. All to make money for the prison.
I always have mixed feelings about hanging out with prisoners. And Angola — with its 5000 prisoners (many of whom are Black and doing ridiculously long sentences) and 1800 “staff members” (some of whom are second and third generation guards and most of whom live on the prison grounds just like the prisoners) — is larger than many towns in this state. A former(?) plantation, its 18,000 acres are meticulously kept (by its “inmates,” of course) and resplendent with flowers. Riding through Angola, with its mile after mile of manicured lawns, always creeps me out, frankly, when you consider the unmitigated, continual anguish of those who are as surely held in bondage as their ancestors ever were.
This seems like a good place to begin the exploration on this blog. Over on our official Leftists in the U.S. South discussion board, we have begun to ask basic questions about developing a revolutionary movement in the South. These questions encompass analysis and strategy. One of the forum participants said, “A Southern Strategy for Revolution would need to first make a class analysis of the situation and on this data use it to form a program to organize.” This is a logical place to start. He then posed five questions, which are as follows:
- What are the specific conditions facing the workers of the south (city/state unemployment rates, the amount of workers by industry, level of organization and class consciousness currently in place, etc,ect)?
- What issues and work should this coalition organize on to realize their goals of socialist revolution in the south?
- What are the forces of the bourgeoisie in the region?
- Are the southern states by themselves a viable territory for a hypothetical socialist state?
- Is it practical to concentrate the struggle on a single geographical location? Is it more prudent to lead organizing efforts across the United States?
As you can imagine, debate ensued. If you want to see the various directions it took, you can go over to the forums and read the thread yourself. I will not repost all of that here. Instead, I will reproduce the main questions/points which followed the first five. I believe that for the most part they are elaborations of the problems identified by the first poster. For your consideration:
Leftists in the U.S. South is a new multi-tendency network that has been established to help Leftists in the southern United States network, share information, organize and more.
We are interested in fostering communication and collaboration among the broad Left. This is perhaps controversial, but many of us involved in the network would like to see everyone from the left of the Democratic Party to left communists talking. This is not because we believe naively that if we just get people discussing more, everyone will magically come together and we will have a mass revolutionary movement in this country; nor do we think that questions of line and other ideological differences are irrelevant and should be set aside altogether.
However, it is clear that actually existing sectarian strategies have failed to produce a mass movement in this country, and we are not going to get anywhere if people from tendency A are going about their business talking only to their own clique, pretending that people from tendency B don’t exist, or, worse, are dedicating much of their energy to writing polemics against tendency B – writings which nobody except their own group will ever read. The worst case scenerio is when sectarianism prevents us from actually organizing among the working class and oppressed peoples.
The crisis of the capitalist world system is deepening; this includes ecological, economic, political and many other dimensions. Now more than ever, the Left needs to develop creative strategies. We want to help make that happen.
We also believe that the movement in the South will be decisive in the coming years, as the South represents so much of the United States, and is also a “weak link” in the U.S. politico-economic system. The region has its own economic conditions, class and ethnic make-up, cultural traditions and more which must be analyzed in their concreteness and complexity. It is therefore essential that the Left comprehend the realitites facing the South and organize there. The establishment of this network is an attempt to facilitate those processes.
So far, the network consists of this site, our official discussion forums and a Facebook group. As the network develops, more online tools may be utilized. Stay posted.
Sympathetic non-southerners around the world are also welcome. Join. Invite your friends. Discuss. Unite. Organize. Make revolution.