We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.


"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Contact information

You can contact me...

By Phone:

651-587-5541

By E-mail:

alan.maki1951mn@gmail.com

By U.S. Mail:

Alan Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
U.S.A.


Please note: FaceBook "deactivated" my account so I can no longer be reached there. I have opened another FaceBook account.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Trouble with Iowa Corn, corruption, and the presidential caucuses

Food for thought:

http://harpers.org/archive/2016/02/the-trouble-with-iowa/?single=1

Big agri-businesses like Archer-Daniels-Midland and Cargill like to influence the elections from behind the scenes.

Where are the writers like Lem Harris and Fred Stover when we need them. Missing from this entire farm question, how our food is produced and who profits and who bribes the politicians is a Marxist analysis these two writers used to provide.

Big-agribusiness monopolies are reaping huge profits while exploiting farm labor as they feed us food at high prices--- both the food they feed us and the high prices are, quite literally, killing us and killing democracy.

How is it that Monsanto escaped scrutiny during the Iowa caucuses?

No discussion of the Iowa Beef Industry Council even though these bastards are killing us.

And what about how Occidental Petroleum owns IBP, Iowa Beef Packers now Tyson Fresh Meats. Also doing business as Tyson Foods.

No mention of the way leading Democrats were responsible for giving huge tax-breaks for the production of ethanol from corn which is depriving people of food while its production pollutes the waters.

How was so much missed during the Iowa primaries?

How could it be that the socialist Bernie Sanders missed so much about agriculture and state monopoly capitalism in Iowa?

The trouble with Iowa is that the huge monopolies own the state.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Surprise, surprise... the New York Times has been telling us lie after lie for decades...

Is anyone surprised?



America's "Paper of Record" admits past pro-Israel bias and will move to correct that. (raise your hand if you believe they Never "noticed" this before?!)



It has not been simply bias but outright lie after lie. One big lie on top of even bigger lies.


What can one expect from Wall Street's voice of imperialism?



"Principles?" "Fairness?"



Someone should give this editorial board a dictionary.


Source: http://www.newyorktimes-ip.com/…/our-new-editorial-policy-…/



Our New Editorial Policy: Rethinking




by THE EDITORIAL BOARD



Throughout its history, The New York Times has aimed to uphold the highest principles of fairness and accuracy in our news coverage. We take this very seriously. We now recognize this sense of fairness has been absent in our paper’s coverage of ongoing conditions in Israel and Palestine.



Having met for the past several months with leaders of Palestinian and Jewish peace organizations, our editorial staff recognizes that accusations of bias in our coverage have been well-founded. For example, it has come to our attention that, during the period of September-October 2015, eighteen headlines depicted Palestinians, while none depicted Israelis, as instigators of violence. Our news stories referred to Palestinian violence 36 times and Israeli violence only twice. We used the word “terrorist” to describe Palestinians 42 times, but only once to describe an Israeli.



In light of this reality, The Times editorial staff has decided to make several changes in our editorial policy with regard to coverage of events in Israel-Palestine. These changes are an attempt to address both realities on the ground and the concerns readers have expressed about fairness in our coverage. Some changes will regard substance.



We will also be attentive to distortions of style and attribution. When reporting views of government and security officials, we will be careful to indicate when something is alleged or attributed rather than to convey it as known fact.



In addition, we are aware that a disproportionate number of our news stories in the past year and a half have focused on Israeli government statements and positions or the views of Israeli Jewish citizens; only a small fraction have featured Palestinian speakers, whether officials and advocates or residents who experience the effects of Israeli policies in everyday life. When reporting on victims of violence, we have profiled and named Jewish Israelis more frequently than we have Palestinian victims.


Beginning now, we will attempt to redress this and other imbalances. To this end, one of our immediate goals is to add correspondents from the region who are Palestinian, and to include reporters and authors of opinion pieces who are reflective of the communities they are covering or writing about.

Tune in... spread the word. please share widely.

http://tobtr.com/8258131

Wednesday,
3 Feb.

---6 p.m. Eastern

---5 p.m. Central

---3 p.m. Pacific

"Campaign 2016 w/ Stewart Alexander"

Stewart Alexander is joined by Alan Maki, http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com, social and political activist.

The topic is:

Is Election 2016 Just Another Myth About Change and Hope?

What does the 2016 election mean to working people?

Is it only a continuing cycle of 100 years of deja vu?

Are we getting rerun after rerun?

What are working people to do??

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Austin Chronicle publishes my review of: Trumbo... a fantastic movie that helps put anti-Communism and McCarthyism in perspective.




















Get Talking

RECEIVED Thu., Jan. 14, 2016

See: http://www.austinchronicle.com/feedback/2016-01-14/1810252/


Dear Editor,


    I am visiting the Austin area.


    After reading the Chronicle's brief review of the movie Trumbo [Film Reviews, Nov. 20, 2015], I decided to see it at the Regal Arbor 8 at Great Hills. Apparently Trumbo isn't being shown too widely.


    I agree with your criticism that many personalities should not have been merged into one.


    However, many people after seeing the movie will not completely understand the times and circumstances beyond how Dalton Trumbo's own life was affected. Nor should we be lulled into believing that anti-Communism is something from a bygone era as the FBI and state and local police still clandestinely operate "Red Squads" intended to deprive people of their constitutionally protected rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association.


    Perhaps it is too much to expect from Hollywood to make a movie dealing with all facets of McCarthyism.


    How many people know that it was the great "liberal" Hubert H. Humphrey who authored the Communist Control Act? This history is omitted from Trumbo.


    Also, the producers of the movie took a lot for granted. Like in showing Trumbo's daughter reading the newspaper, The Daily Worker. How many people seeing the movie caught the name of the paper? How many of today's moviegoers will know that this was the Communist Party's publication put out of business as a very popular daily paper by the most aggressive government political repression?


    There is another story to be told, also. That of the thousands of workers who lost their jobs because they refused to buckle under to the anti-Communist witch hunts; workers who were deprived of jobs and their income who had nothing to fall back on as Trumbo did. These blacklisted workers, most quite poor to begin with, faced a lifetime of poverty; not just a few years of unemployment.


    One interesting topic the movie did not address is why Trumbo (and Howard Fast) left the Communist Party. Fast wrote two books on the subject; did Dalton Trumbo ever provide his reason/s?


    To be certain, Trumbo and his colleagues, the Hollywood Ten, were very courageous, and we appreciate them for their part in the struggle to defend democracy from Wall Street's anti-Communist attacks; the primary victim being the entire working class.


    Anti-Communism has always been the refuge of scoundrels, union busters, racists, and warmongers.


    All in all, I found Trumbo a fantastic movie. I would encourage others to see it; and talk about it – if they don't fear government repression here in the world's greatest bastion of democracy.

Alan L. Maki
Warroad, Minnesota






See trailer for Trumbo: https://www.google.com/search?q=trumbo+trailer&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8







Viewing health care, child care and full employment as Human Rights.

Health care like Wall Street's warfare is a major issue in this campaign even though most politicians do everything possible to sow confusion about these two issues. In fact, we need to be funding health care instead of warfare just like many other things. But, keep in mind, just about everyone around the world views health care as a human right as well as peace being a human right. I also think most people in this country would agree with me that we need some kind of "Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity."


One thing to keep in mind when we talk about health care is the very long-term job creating opportunities, too.


Single-payer, at best, creates a couple million new jobs.


A National Public Health Care System providing health care in every single community through neighborhood centers would create over twelve-million new jobs with some 850 regional health care centers (about the same number of U.S. military bases around the world serving absolutely no purpose at all except protecting Wall Street's interests) with thousands of neighborhood primary and urgent care clinics.


I think we need an electoral coalition, some kind of "New Broom" coalition to sweep Washington clean of the Wall Street bribed politicians.


I was a big supporter of single-payer universal health care as a step towards a National Public Health Care System but not anymore since the Democrats sabotaged this movement which called for enacting H.R. 676--- a piece of legislation its own author, John Conyers, helped, in the end, to derail by pushing the national Democratic Party Platform to include "affordable" health care as a prelude to pave the way for the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare which should rightly be called: "The Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industry Bailout and Profit Maximization Act of 2010."


As a matter of fact, I authored and led the movement which resulted in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's state convention passing the resolution for single-payer universal health care. A resolution that was later modified to insert ONE IMPORTANT WORD, "AFFORDABLE," which changed the entire meaning of the resolution without the same grassroots support the initial resolution had.


I was an elected delegate to that DFL State Convention and the big-shots, or big-shits as some may prefer, tried to prevent me from speaking on the convention floor by challenging my credentials--- a dirty trick that will for certain be used against many of Bernie's delegates across the country.


Also, the primary weakness of universal single-payer health care is that it enables most of the health care for profit crowd to remain happy as single-payer would be publicly financed, publicly administered and privately delivered contrasted with a National Public Health Care System which would be publicly financed, publicly administered and publicly delivered with doctors, nurses and all health care workers on the public payroll just like teachers.


Bernie Sanders' approach seems to be to keep all existing public services public but all new public services publicly funded, publicly administered and privately delivered. This to me seems very strange for a socialist to be taking this position which is not unlike that of the reactionary neo-liberal crowd which holds the right to profit off anything and everything as being very sacred.


With child care Sanders seems to favor mostly personal funding, some mixture of private/public administration and keeping it privately delivered. Like most of what he advocates in the way of reform the child care advocacy suffers from huge ambiguities.


Bernie Sanders' infrastructure job creation program would apparently leave the private engineering firms, private architects, private contractors and private construction firms in charge, instead of the government, to feed like pigs at the public trough.


Again. I invite those with documentation to prove me wrong since they say I am lying. I am not attacking Bernie Sanders I am challenging him to come clean with what his proposed reforms really are--- and aren't; isn't this why we have political campaigns in order to clarify where candidates stand and challenge them if we disagree?


But, don't we all know that ambiguity is the trade-mark of capitalist politics? Always "properly frame issues" with the intent of getting votes; never be specific because someone who disagrees is sure to vote against you.


Plus, ambiguity lets these corrupt politicians off the hook when it comes to assuring accountability.


Shouldn't these candidates participate in roundtable discussions? Not only to defend their positions but learn from voters what they are looking for in the way of solutions to their problems.


It doesn't do much good to attack Citizens United whose main problem is that it takes citizens out of the democratic decision-making process when all the Democrats and Republicans are so arrogant that they think they have the right to shove their thinking, and what they perceive to be solutions to our problems down our throats.


If Bernie and his campaign, an entourage of very narrow minded people, are not open to the people for this entire process then this makes a mockery of his opposition to Citizens United.


If we have enacted a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would require the president and members of Congress to attain and then maintain full employment we would be assuring peace because no Nation can afford "guns and butter."

The establishment left out


By Mike Krauss

Washington just got clobbered by a gigantic winter storm. There is another one on the way. It’s going to hit Iowa and New Hampshire first. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are taking American politics by storm.

The GOP conservative establishment has emergency services out, trying desperately to clear out Trump after completely misreading the first storm warnings. The GOP moderate establishment likes the guy in second place, Ted Cruz, even less than Trump, and are going after him. Cruz looks to them like some kind of suicide bomber, throwing hand grenades in the Senate any chance he gets.

The jihadist from Texas.

On the Democratic side, the establishment watches in a kind of “déjà vu all over again” funk as Hillary gets overtaken by a candidate they dismissed, steadily gaining as Hillary’s “experience” comes back to haunt her: Iraq, Libya, Wall Street, Bill and a cynical disregard for the rules that apply to others.

Bernie Sanders’ language is more careful than Trump’s, but the appeal is the same: a promise to restore the stolen prosperity of the American people and take back control of their future from the same class of robber barons that Theodore Roosevelt confronted at the turn of the last century.

What is emerging was described in 1956 by the American sociologist, C. Wright Mills in his classic study, “The Power Elite.” Mills argument was that the United States is dominated by an interlocking political, military and economic elite. But he theorized that this elite can govern only so long as the elites and non-elites remain separate, and the elites are able to maintain power and position through an essentially controlled media and message.

The economist Michael Hudson recently compared this to how parasites work in nature; secreting an enzyme to convince the host being devoured that they — the parasites — are good for them. The media are the delivery system for the enzyme secreted by the economic parasites of today: propaganda.

Mills theorized that the control of the power elite would break down into what he called a “mass society,” if the one-way street of media access of elites to non-elites was matched by equal access of non-elites to elites: a two-way avenue of communication and information. The explosion of electronic media and the introduction of social media have created that two way street.

Something similar has happened before in American society and politics. As previously throughout history, it was a function of a great technological change in the means of communication. Trump gets this like no one else.

Just as Teddy Roosevelt understood and harnessed the growing power of an emerging mass print media at the turn of the last century, made possible by modern, high volume printing presses and the telegraph, Trump understands as no candidate before the uses of the many channeled electronic media and the emerging social media.

Communication is increasingly lateral and not vertical; collaborative and not hierarchical.

It is often said that “all politics is local,” but it is better said that all politics is personal. The new media are made for expressions of the personal. The authentic, like Trump and Sanders will rise.

The establishments are in a panic. They can’t control the front runners in either party. Enter former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. He calls himself an “independent.” Nice try. He’s Wall Street’s fall back. Good old Joe Biden will be another.

Wall Street has had an ally in the White House for the past 24 years, if not longer — Clinton, Bush and Obama. They mean to keep it that way. Otherwise, Wall Street is left out. The political establishment is left out.

Most Americans will say, “Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.” The Rolling Stones wrote their epitaph. It could be the Trump and Sanders theme song:

“You’re out of touch my baby
My poor discarded baby
I said baby, baby, baby you’re out of time…

“You are all left out
Out of there without a doubt
Cause baby, baby, baby you’re out of time…

“You’re obsolete my baby
My poor old fashioned baby
I said baby, baby, baby you’re out of time.”

Mike Krauss  is a thirty year senior executive in the international distribution and logistics industry andformerly an officer of Pennsylvania county and state government and ED of the PA Republican State Committee  / mikekrauss2016@gmail.com
Mike

Friday, December 4, 2015

We need debates now: Capitalism or Socialism--- Which way for the United States of America?

Something you may want to think about:


In about 150 years the capitalists have polluted and contaminated just about all the air we need to breath, almost all the land required to grow the food we need to eat and most of the water we need to drink and sustain life.


And they have done all of this using exploited labor.


Workers along with no small amount of help from Mother Nature created ALL wealth.


How much longer can we tolerate and allow the exploitation of labor and the rape of Mother Nature?


We have people saying, including many socialists who are supporting Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, that this is no time to initiate a discussion about socialism because it will jeopardize the chances of either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton being elected.


Considering the predicament capitalism has placed us in I don't think we can afford to not discuss how we can replace capitalism with socialism.


Some people like to push the idea that "humans" are responsible for this climate change and global warming but the culprits are a very small section of humanity--- the capitalists.


Will we allow Wall Street and a handful of financial centers to continue to dominate and dictate how we will live and work and produce and for what ends production will take place?


Will we continue to tolerate the private ownership of the mines, mills, factories, banks, agriculture, health care and energy industries?


All the polls show that after decades of the most vicious red-baiting and government repression, the majority of the American people believe we at least need a discussion about socialism.


Just before the Civil War began Congress was debating whether or not a discussion should be has as to what kind of economy was best for the Nation and all the people.


Granted, it is a little late to now have this discussion but better late than never.


And the only way this discussion is going to take place is if the discussion is advanced from the grassroots just like all struggles for reforms come from the bottom up into the mainstream.


Without this struggle, the battle of ideas in our modern world, the discussion will never take place.
So... Speak up! Write! Talk to people!


There are no capitalist solutions to our common problems.


Solving our problems must include socialist solutions to our specific problems.


Now I know someone is going to come back and say they are sick of hearing nothing but carping from the back rows; so, once again I bring forward specific solutions to our problems... solutions that will get us on the road to socialism.


Remember, we don't need "reforms" intended to "improve," "make better" or make capitalism more people friendly since this can't be done--- there is no such thing as a "people's capitalism" because the very nature of capitalism is that the many work and the few profit.


We need reforms that solve the problems of the people as we struggle for the revolutionary transformation of society.

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2015/12/so-worthless-democratic-party-hacks.html



Consider organizing a Marxist Study Club and Political Action Committee where you live, go to school or work.


Something else to think about:


Honest people would engage in a discussion about these kinds of reforms and socialism not try to shut discussion down using all kinds of devious and dishonest attacks.


Now would be a good time to organize debates all over the country in urban and rural areas taking up the debate:


Should we continue down the capitalist road or take the road to socialism?


Have a proponent of capitalism and a proponent of socialism debate this question.


Isn't this what democracy is supposed to be all about.


Send me an airline ticket, bus ticket or train ticket and I will travel anyplace, anytime to defend the socialist perspective in a debate with any proponent of capitalism.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

So; the worthless Democratic Party hacks demand to know...

What's my solution the worthless Democratic Party hacks demand to know; as if I don't have any answers...


We need to agitate for a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would include creating real living wage jobs providing people with not just infrastructure improvements to streets, roads and highways, schools parks and recreation centers but a National Public Health Care System which would provide us with 800 community-based health care centers instead of over 800 U.S. military bases dotting globe acting as security protecting Wall Street's interests and profits abroad attained through cheap labor raping other countries of their natural resources in a way that destroys the planet by leaving behind a mess and contributing to global warming, and we need a National Public Child Care System both publicly financed, publicly administered and publicly delivered services just like public education.

Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton promote projects falling far short of this kind of "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which is needed, not in "baby steps" or "incrementally" further down the road but right here and now.

Wall Street didn't have to wait for the government that is supposed to be "of, by and for the people" to step in and save them; why should the working class which creates all the wealth and pays for everything have to wait a hundred years or more for what we require to live decent and healthy lives with dignity.

What we need is a new progressive people's party bringing together liberals, progressives and leftists--- the vast majority of the U.S. population which polls tell us that there is a healthy growing surge for socialism as an alternative to capitalism; a party that would be both anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist with the stated goal of challenging our common Wall Street enemies for political and economic power.

When the Sanders and Clinton supporters tell us we have no alternatives to what these Democrats are offering in the way of "properly framed issues" with no specific solutions to our problems we should politely tell them to "go to hell" as we forge a "New Broom" electoral coalition to sweep Washington clean of all the Wall Street bribed politicians who always manage to find a way to finance their dirty imperialist wars but cry like babies when it comes to providing for the needs of the people.

If all the money and human resources wasted voting for a bunch of Dumb Donkeys was spent to create a real working class based people's progressive party we could re-build our country but this can't be done when the wealth and resources of our Nation are being squandered on militarism and war after dirty war.

Are you fed up enough to join a struggle that will break us free from Wall Street's two-party trap--- NOW, not later.

A "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" would create over twenty-million living wage jobs for less what all this militarism and all these dirty wars will cost us and it will be one big leap towards solving climate change since the Military-Industrial Complex leaves in its wake the largest carbon foot-print of any human endeavor.

Debate should center not on whether or not Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton have the best job-creating infrastructure plans but how their proposals stack up against the "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity."

And Affirmative Action should be enforced every step of the way so we finally eliminate racism and discrimination in employment, housing and education.

And people are entitled to, by birth, a Basic Income Guarantee as advocated by our great revolutionary Thomas Paine.

This is the way to a better world creating peace through mutual respect among all peoples.

This is what is required to bring the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights to reality for every human being:



December 10 will mark the 67th Anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights... as Eleanor Roosevelt and Frances Perkins would have said, they didn't intend for this document to become one more yellowing piece of paper they called for its full implementation... and, it is up to us, you and me, to implement it because all these Wall Street politicians care about is making war after war.

We can do much, much better.




The socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party of Floyd Olson, Elmer Benson and John Bernard had the correct vision and program many years ago and the vision and program is still valid today:

People and the planet before Wall Street's profits.

Peace NOW!


Monday, November 30, 2015

The Philippines and change.

Kenneth Fuller has written an important book that he discussed at a press conference hosted by the Philippine University Press... check it out:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10154440345542178&pnref=story








Monday, November 23, 2015

Some thoughts about Bernie Sanders, his supporters and dishonesty among the anti-Communist "left."


Thanks for sending all of this interesting stuff along, David.

Just a few thoughts on all of this.

Interesting variety of responses but also the responses are very limited and, quite frankly, very dishonest in that the contributions of the Communist Party are completely omitted as is any mention of Minnesota's socialist Farmer-Labor Party, which, to date, is still the most successful, and best example of, liberals, Socialists and Communists working together. No mention of the Progressive Party which ran Henry Wallace either which was headed up by Minnesota's own former socialist governor, Elmer Benson along with such luminaries as Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois and many labor and civil rights leaders.

It is virtually impossible HONESTLY talk about any of the movements of the 1930's and the following decades without discussing the role of Communists yet all of these writers along with Bernie Sanders manage to do just that.

And to suggest that Eugene Debs was not a friend of the Soviet Union is just plain dishonest.

There is no doubt that the campaign of Bernie Sanders has helped to bring forward a discussion about socialism but it is a very muddle-headed view that he is responsible for kindling support for socialism. Like workers everywhere, workers here in the United States have always had a high regard for socialism but their voices in support of socialism have been severely repressed by employers and this Wall Street dominated government--- a repression directed and carried out against Communists which was intended to silence all liberal, progressive and left voices.

I would point out that the anti-Communist left is just as dishonest as the mainstream media.

Also, no mention of the need for a new political party which is both anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist with the objective of challenging Wall Street for political and economic power since the anti-Communist left has always opposed the concept of building the all-peoples' United anti-monopoly front as being "reformist" when in fact such a front struggles for basic reforms the working class will need in order to live decent lives whether under socialism or capitalism.

But Bernie's main short-coming is his vigorous support for imperialist wars making us too poor to finance even his most modest reform proposals.

Democracy requires ALL views to get a public airing including Communist views.

I would note that Marx, Engles and Lenin have been left off your reading list as well as William Z. Foster, Gus Hall, Paul Robeson and DuBois.

I also want to make special note that Harold Meyerson is a professional anti-Communist and it is laughable he lays claim to being the Vice-Chair of an organization he boasts he hasn't attended a meeting of in years; how democratic can a "Democratic Socialist" organization be which operates in this way?

At best, Bernie Sanders is a half-baked socialist.

Marx and Engels pointed out long ago that "the ownership" question is always front and center when discussing capitalism versus socialism but I guess this doesn't make any difference to Bernie and his most die hard supporters since they state they aren't opposed to capitalists owning the means of production... We see how this panned out for the two-thousand workers once employed by Ford at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant most of whom have now lost their "buy outs" to a bunch of conniving and crooked "investment advisors" who convinced them their money would be safely invested so they could live the life of Riley.

Oh, and what had happened to the Communist concept of full employment and making the government responsible for attaining and maintaining full employment? I guess Bernie Sanders is content to let Wall Street employers decide who can and can't work, eh?




On Sunday, November 22, 2015, David Shove <shove001@umn.edu> wrote:
PROGRESSIVE CALENDAR  11.22.15

1. Harold Meyerson - Bernie Defines Socialism
2. F
our Takes on Sanders' Democratic Socialism Speech 
   2a. Kshama Sawant
   2b. Nicole Aschoff
   2c. Connor Kilpatrick
   2d. Paul Heideman
3. Internet sources (updated)

--------1 of 3x--------

Bernie Defines Socialism

Harold Meyerson
November 19, 2015
The American Prospect
 
Evoking Franklin Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr., the Vermont senator bridged the aspirations of New Deal liberalism with the democratic socialist tradition.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at Georgetown University in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.,AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,
During the 1930s, conservatives repeatedly alleged that Franklin Roosevelt was really a socialist. Today, BernieSanders said they were right.
In a long-awaited speech heralded as providing his definition of “democratic socialism,” the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate on Thursday afternoon told a packed crowd of Georgetown University students—most of whom waited hours in a drenching rain to hear him—that by democratic socialism, he meant the economic and social principles laid down by FDR, most particularly in his 1944 State of the Union Address. In that speech, Roosevelt proclaimed that the nation needed a second, economic bill of rights. Sanders quoted the passage in which Roosevelt laid out the philosophic basis for such an expansion of rights: “True individual freedom,” Roosevelt said, “cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men.” The Vermont senator ran down the list of rights that Roosevelt enumerated: a decent job at decent pay, time off from work, a decent home, health care, and, for businesses, “an atmosphere free from unfair competition and domination by monopolies.”
The only other figure Sanders cited as shaping his vision of socialism was Martin Luther King Jr. (Unlike FDR, King did indeed identify himself a democratic socialist, as did such other key civil-rights leaders as A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and James Farmer. Roosevelt called himself various things—most commonly a liberal, and once, when asked his philosophy, responded that he was “a Christian and a Democrat”—but never a socialist.) King, saidSanders, followed in FDR’s footsteps in proclaiming the need for economic as well as civil rights.
Getting down to particulars, Sanders continued that democratic socialism meant creating an economy that works for all, a universal health-care system based on the principle that health care is a right, free tuition at public colleges and universities (and higher Pell Grants and lower interest rates on student loans, which would also make private colleges more affordable), a governmental commitment to full employment, a living wage (with a minimum wage of $15), paid family and medical leave, more progressive taxation, and the automatic voter registration of all Americans when they turn 18.
As the socialist and social democratic parties throughout the West have been doing for 70 years, Sandersdisavowed what was perhaps the classic definition of democratic socialism before World War II. “I don’t believe the government should own the corner drug store or the means of production,” he said, “but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.”    
When Roosevelt was president, of course, socialists did believe that the government should own many major industries. The Socialist Party leader in Roosevelt’s time was Norman Thomas, who won almost a million votes in the 1932 election in which Roosevelt ousted Herbert Hoover. By establishing Social Security, granting workers the right to form unions and bargain collectively, and employing millions of the unemployed on the projects (chiefly but not exclusively construction) of the federally funded and operated Works Progress Administration, however, FDR co-opted a share of the socialists’ program, causing such longtime pillars of Socialist Party support as the garment and clothing workers unions to switch their allegiance to Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. So did most of those who had voted for Thomas in 1932. Writer Upton Sinclair, a longtime socialist activist, followed this course to its logical conclusion: He ran and won in the 1934 Democratic primary for governor of California, though a red-baiting campaign by the Republicans ensured that he lost the general election that November.
Beginning in the late 1950s, a number of American democratic socialists began to argue that they should go into the Democratic Party without abandoning their ideology. (The total number of American democratic socialists in the late 1950s, I should add, was almost surely smaller than the crowd that gathered today in the Georgetown auditorium to hear Sanders.) That argument received its fullest expression from Michael Harrington, Thomas’s successor as the leader of socialist movement, who argued in his 1967 book Toward A Democratic Left, that the presumably socialist-free American political landscape actually harbored within the Democratic Party what he termed “a hidden social democracy.” The nation’s more progressive unions, the civil-rights activists, the middle-class liberals (then mounting protests against the Vietnam War)—these were the groups whose European counterparts made up those nations’ social democratic parties. Accordingly, Harrington concluded, American socialists should enter—publicly, unashamedly—the Democratic Party, those hidden social democrats’ political home, where they could work for the kinds of social changes attainable in everyday politics while also campaigning for a future of a more democratic economy and society. In 1973, he founded an organization, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (now known as the Democratic Socialists of America), which did just that. (Full disclosure: I’m a vice-chair of DSA, though—also full disclosure—I haven’t been to a DSA meeting in years.)
While in college in the late 1950s and early 190s, Sanders belonged to a DSA precursor, the Young People’s Socialist League, whose chief activity was supporting the civil-rights movement. Since then, he has not been a member of any socialist organization. While DSA urged socialists to work within the Democratic Party, without forfeiting their right to criticize the party’s numerous shortcomings, Sanders steered clear of the Democrats as well. In matters of political affiliation, Bernie isn’t much of a joiner. Once he got to Congress, however, and then the Senate, he did join and take an active role in those bodies’ Democratic caucuses.
In a certain sense, what Sanders accomplished today was to signal that the political space between America progressivism and social democracy—at least, as he defines them—has shrunk to insignificance. Clearly, this has not always been the case; it’s taken the dysfunctions of American capitalism that have accumulated over the past 40 years to push progressives, and with them, the center of the Democratic Party, to the left, to within spitting distance of those who call themselves social democrats, or, in Sanders’s case, democratic socialists. By anointing Roosevelt to be the father of them all—liberals and socialists both—Sanders has proclaimed an end to such distinctions. To be sure, calling for Medicare for All places him more on the social-democratic side of the ledger, but then, it places Lyndon Johnson there as well.
If Sanders’s surprising success (thus far) in running as a socialist is partly a function of the widespread recognition of those capitalist dysfunctions, it’s also in part the result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The great American socialist leaders of the 20th century—Eugene Debs, Thomas, and Harrington—had to make continually clear that their brand of democratic socialism had nothing in common with Soviet communism and its totalitarian progeny, which they each articulately condemned. Sanders labors under no such handicap: The anti-socialist and anti-liberal leaders who deliberately conflated Rooseveltian liberalism with Stalinist communism (the young Richard Nixon was a master at this) were put out of work with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
As the New Deal programs and policies took root on American soil, some observers occasionally remarked that the Roosevelt Democrats had carried out the Thomas socialist platform. Noting the shortcomings of New Deal liberalism (its alliance with the segregationist South and its failure to enact universal health care, among other things), Thomas responded by grumbling, “They carried it out on a stretcher.” Sanders might not contest that judgment, but in harking back to FDR’s 1944 Economic Bill of Rights, he has reconciled the most visionary statement of Rooseveltian liberalism’s aspirations with the democratic socialist tradition—or, more precisely, claimed it as the foundation of his own socialist beliefs.
A recent CBS/New York Times poll found that 56 percent of Democratic voters hold a favorable view of socialism—a figure that exceeds Sanders’s own level of support in that poll by 25 percentage points, which means that a goodly chunk of Hillary Clinton’s backers hold that view as well. What all those Democrats mean by socialism is anybody’s guess, but I suspect their sense of it is close to Sanders’s: An anti-plutocratic and egalitarian commitment to re-democratize the nation; a belief in economic rights; and a sense that the boundaries between socialism and liberalism are at minimum very porous. The cognoscenti might see themselves as the children of Thomas and Harrington, but most would see themselves as the children of Roosevelt and King. Sanders’s message to them all is: They’re right.
Harold Meyerson is the executive editor of The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org. Follow @HaroldMeyerson

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Four Takes on Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism Speech 
Portside
November 21, 2015

Here are four different takes on the speech Bernie Sanders gave on Democratic Socialism. As Kshama Sawant says, "Such an audience for socialist ideas has been unprecedented in the U.S. in several generations."
     
2a. Kshama Sawant on Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism


Sanders spoke today, November 19, at Georgetown University about democratic socialism. Kshama Sawant, Seattle's Socialist Alternative City Councilmember, responds to his message in this video (see transcript below).

Sisters and Brothers,

Socialism is rising.

Just a few minutes ago, Bernie Sanders addressed working people in the United States to speak about democratic socialism. Hundreds of thousands will watch it. Such an audience for socialist ideas has been unprecedented in the U.S. in several generations.

Bernie Sanders is giving voice to the enormous desire for change after a decade of economic crisis where millions lost their jobs and homes and the "recovery" has overwhelmingly benefited the 1%. There is deep anger because the political process has been completely dominated by big corporate interests; structural racism and sexism remain entrenched; and because no decisive measures are being taken to address global warming.

Underlying all of this is a diseased and decaying social system - the failed system of capitalism.

Poll after poll show that people under 30 now support "socialism" and "capitalism" in roughly equal numbers. And we also see that support for socialism leads over capitalism by 12 percentage points within Democratic Party supporters nationally.

But what is socialism?

Socialism is a democratic society based on human need not corporate greed. A society of social, gender and racial justice. A world where black and brown lives matter. A world that will have addressed the crisis of climate change.

How can such a society be achieved?

Take the huge challenge of climate change: 90 companies have caused almost two thirds of all carbon emissions in human history. All for amassing limitless profits. Capitalism is destroying the planet.

We need to take these companies into democratic, public ownership in order to move fully towards renewable energy, and to keep fossil fuels where they belong - under the ground.

Socialism is about working-class democracy, where the 99% make the key decisions, instead of Wall Street and their global capitalist casino.

The 500 largest corporations and giant banks that dominate our economy, control our political system and degrade our environment should be taken into democratic public ownership. This way, the resources of society could be used to benefit society as a whole.

The great German socialist, Rosa Luxemburg, posed the alternatives facing humanity long ago - she said that the future will either be one of socialism or barbarism.

We see barbarism globally today in many forms. We see it in the development of the Islamic State and the horrific attacks in Paris and Beirut last week. We saw it in the barbarous invasion of Iraq by a US government on behalf of a tiny cartel of rapacious oil companies.

The devastating consequences of the Iraq invasion, as well as the preceding decades of imperialist policies, are tearing apart the very fabric of society in the Middle East, fueling the rise of ISIS, and creating the biggest refugee crisis in world history.

We see the shadow of that barbarism here in the US, with huge poverty next to exorbitant wealth, and the rise of anti-immigrant, racist policies emanating from the Republican Party.

We have an alternative to this barbarism. A socialist world.

Bernie said that he supports a coalition of countries to fight ISIS. However all those governments represent the interests of their local capitalist ruling classes. As a socialist, I believe we need a movement of working people, of all nationalities, of all religions or no religion. A movement in the common interests of working people in the Middle East and internationally, to challenge both ISIS and Western imperialism, to create an alternative to the deep humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.

Bernie Sanders spoke today of FDR, the New Deal, and Social Security.

It is no accident that the victories on Social Security in the 1930s and Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s took place during times of great, historic movements of the working class and youth.

In 1935, when Social Security was passed, workers across America were on strike for a better life. They fought to unionize through sit down strikes. They took over and occupied their factories, and refused to give them back until their unions were won and their demands met.

It was these American workers, this radical labor movement, that won Social Security. Contrary to the popular myth, it was not handed to them by the benevolence of the ruling elite headed by FDR. In fact, Roosevelt had run for office in 1932 on a promise of fiscal conservatism - of shrinking social programs, not expanding them.

The workers movement that won the New Deal was led by socialists.

Similarly, Medicare and Medicaid were won in the context of the radicalized 1960s Civil Rights movement. The battle against segregation, lynchings, against the grotesque brutality of Jim Crow racism. They were won under the pressure of the black activists and also of the developing movement against the war in Vietnam.

Social struggle needs to be combined with building a new political force for the 99%. Bernie Sanders' campaign, which raised $28 million in the past three months and has refused corporate donations, shows the potential for independent working class politics to fight against corporate politics.

Bernie is absolutely correct to call for a federal 15 dollar minimum wage, single payer health care, free college education, and defeating the power of the billionaire class to defend democracy.

That's why I want Bernie Sanders to win the presidency and defeat the agenda of the Billionaire class. [ed emphasis]
But in order to win, Bernie Sanders needs to take on Wall Street and all those corporations who dominate Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic Party machine.

To win, Bernie Sanders needs a mass movement from below and an organization, independent of corporate cash. He needs a mass party of and for working people.

Let's come together to build such a movement and such a party, against the Republican right wing and independent of big business, Clintonite Democrats.

This race is not a race between two progressive candidates. Hillary Clinton served on the Wal Mart board of directors, while Sanders supports the fight for $15. Hillary Clinton is a hawkish supporter of military intervention and voted for the Iraq war. Clinton is the candidate of Wall Street and the Billionaire class.

Clinton does not deserve the support of working people and progressives and can not be supported by socialists.

Win or lose, Bernie Sanders' inspiring campaign offers a unique opportunity to spread socialist ideas to a new generation, to build an independent mass party of working people, to build a new movement capable of defeating the stranglehold of Wall Street over our society.

We can organize the fight back against the billionaire class. Join me in this struggle, join Socialist Alternative.



2b-d. The Socialism of Bernie Sanders - Jacobin Magazine


The novelty of Bernie Sanders has long been his adoption of the term "democratic socialist" to describe his political beliefs. On the presidential campaign trail, by way of definition, he's repeatedly pointed to European countries with relatively robust welfare states.

On Thursday, in a major campaign address, he turned back stateside. Sanders cast himself not as the heir of Eugene Debs -- a portrait of whom hangs in his congressional office -- but of Franklin Roosevelt. In short, for Sanders, democratic socialism means New Deal liberalism.

What should socialists of a more radical bent make of such a definition? To what extent is the Sanders campaign good for social forces to his left? And how should we view the foreign policy portion of Sanders's speech, in which he both criticized US intervention and praised NATO?

Three Jacobin contributors give their thoughts:

Nicole Aschoff is the managing editor at Jacobin and the author of The New Prophets of Capital. Connor Kilpatrick is on the editorial board of Jacobin. Paul Heideman is a PhD student in the sociology department at New York University.

2b. Nicole Aschoff

Bernie Sanders is obviously the best presidential candidate, but he is a deeply flawed representative of the Left. Yesterday's speech illustrates why.

Sanders's Keynes-plus story advocates reining in the big banks, building a stronger social safety net, and deepening democracy. Fine. No disagreement there.

But Sanders never mentioned the word capitalism -- a rhetorical maneuver that sidesteps the systemic basis of inequality and poverty, both in the US and globally. Instead of the imperatives of class and competition he decries greed and corruption in a narrative that sits uncomfortably close to "crony capitalism," the Right's favorite villain.

Sanders says we need to take back our government, to implement laws and taxes and programs to dilute the privilege of the rich. That's a good start. But how? FDR's maverick capabilities rested on a foundation of mass working-class resistance. Sanders likes unions to be sure, but building working-class institutions isn't a central part of his story.

Working for a wage is a defining feature of our society. It is only by organizing and gaining control over our work lives that we will build the collective strength to challenge capital.

Finally, Sanders's geopolitical intervention was predictably awful. He didn't liken Syrian refugees to rabid dogs like Ben Carson or shout for more boots on the ground like Hillary Clinton. But his declaration that the problem of ISIS is primarily a problem of religion that "Muslim nations" must solve is willfully blind to the hand-in-glove relationship between capitalism and militarism.

The US has roughly eight hundred military bases globally and a nearly $600 billion annual defense budget that it uses to unrestrainedly pursue its political and economic interests. With his entreaty to build a bigger, better NATO and set aside "historic disputes," Sanders fails to challenge this terrifying reality.

2c. Connor Kilpatrick

There was nothing much surprising about Bernie's speech. This was the democratic socialism not even of Martin Luther King Jr (who nevertheless got some great shout-outs from Sanders) or Michael Harrington, but of FDR and LBJ. Which is to say, not "socialism" in recognizable form.

The Sanders definition seems to be "things that the government does that are good." If this was true, then socialism could exist within any society at any point in time, even one as rigidly capitalist as ours.

It doesn't help when one of his largest celebrity backers -- Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane -- says we could "use a little bit of democratic socialism," as if he were talking about a few more splashes of hot sauce in a bowl of chili.

But having our bloated military does not mean that soldiers live under socialism. The high marginal tax rates and labor union density under President Eisenhower -- as Sanders likes to point out -- did not make us socialist. Even the most reactionary capitalist regimes have some degree of a welfare state. Gen. Pinochet kept Chilean copper mines nationalized even after he launched a coup in the name of neoliberalism. And the intensely anticommunist Singapore has one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds. It does not make it a socialist society in the slightest.

But at the same time -- frustrating as it may be -- the popular association of socialism with Scandinavian social democracy rather than "the country with all the gulags that doesn't exist anymore" is a far better starting point for a renewed anticapitalist politics.

We need to accept how much ground has been lost. Today, just 6.6 percent of private-sector workers belong to a union, and the Supreme Court is only a few months away from launching an all-out war on public-sector unionism. In many ways, the US left suffered a fatal wound in the late 1940s, before finally collapsing in the 1970s. Bernie's welfare-state liberalism is radical in today's political context.

So is it important that Sanders even bothers to use the s-word at all? I think so.

Standing on a national stage and using that term implies that there is a radically egalitarian force that is in opposition and even hostile to capitalism -- even if in his particularly strained definition that means that socialism is already here in the form of the US Post Office (and simply on the ropes). Sanders still implies a conflict between the two -- not a corporatist harmony.

It's that definition that we can use. While Sanders thankfully raises the specter of class conflict, it's up to actual socialist activists to define a possible world on the other side of that conflict -- to get a little utopian.

In May, Americans were asked whether they had a favorable opinion of socialism and capitalism. Democrats were split evenly: 43 versus 43 percent. In October, YouGov ran the poll again. This time, 49 percent said they viewed socialism positively, versus 37 percent for capitalism -- a remarkable shift in just five months. I think it's safe to say that that is entirely the work of the Sanders campaign.

If a not-very-politicized liberal was to ask me "what's socialism?" I'd probably go with Richard Wolff's definition and say that it means democratically deciding who makes what, how that's organized, and what we do with the surplus. It knocks down the wall that liberalism erected hundreds of years ago between politics and the economy. And it means a world beyond class society.

But hey, "more welfare state-ism, less billionaire-ism"? We can work with that.

4. Paul Heideman

As with so much of Bernie Sanders's campaign, his speech defining democratic socialism offered much for American socialists to cheer, and much that could only be greeted with puzzlement, or even disgust.

At the core of the speech was Sanders's argument that his version of democratic socialism is a twenty-first century updating of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. As Sanders pointed out, all of the elements of the New Deal that most Americans take for granted today -- social security, minimum-wage laws, collective bargaining -- were initially condemned as "socialism." Sanders could certainly do worse in terms of inspiration than Roosevelt, who, when asked about business opposition to the New Deal, answered, "I welcome their hatred."

Sanders's updates to the New Deal can only be welcomed by socialists today. He calls for single-payer health care, free public college, and taxing the rich. While none of these would make the US socialist, they would bring about a massive increase in the dismal standard of living of American workers.

Rhetorically, the speech had some nice bits as well. Sanders declared unabashedly that the US has a ruling class, and that progressive change can only come through confronting it. It was, as so often is the case with Sanders, both gratifying and a little strange to hear from a leading presidential contender.

Yet this message also reveals some of the limitations of Sanders's "political revolution." FDR, after all, did not come into office promising the "four freedoms" Sanders has celebrated, but rather a balanced budget. It was only in the face of the growing wave of class struggle in the United States that FDR himself began to embrace more reformist policies, and that a section of the American ruling class could be persuaded that such reforms were necessary to placate that struggle.

This is the contradiction at the heart of Sanders's campaign: while he calls for reforms that no socialist could oppose, his talk of political revolution falls woefully short of the kinds of struggles needed to win those reforms. There is also little evidence at this point that his campaign is providing a spur to those kinds of struggles.

Sanders's talk of revitalizing democracy in American becomes even less convincing when his foreign policy enters the picture. In his speech, Sanders attacked previous US interventions, from the invasion of Iraq to American backing of coups in countries like Guatemala and Iran. Yet his proposed alternatives made it unclear on what grounds he objected to such actions.

In contrast to George W. Bush's unilateral adventure in Iraq, Sanders harkened back to the establishment of the NATO alliance after World War II. But NATO was hardly a force for democracy. The US maintained support for the brutal Greek junta of 1967-74 because of Greece's place in NATO. In Italy, NATO agents helped maintain far-right paramilitary networks linked to the reactionary terrorism attacks of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The suggestions for current foreign policy were not much more encouraging. Sanders lauded King Abdullah II of Jordan (it is never a good look for a socialist to praise a monarch) for his role in the fight against ISIS. Yet Jordan, like most American allies in the Middle East, is a highly repressive country, where criticizing the king entitles someone to three years of imprisonment in the country's notoriously torture-filled jails.

While Sanders is willing to criticize many of the most egregious over-extensions of American empire, it seems he has no interest in contesting the American suppression of democracy across the globe. And this cannot but undermine the struggle for democracy and freedom at home.

Sanders is certainly correct that achieving his reforms will require a political revolution. But it will have to be one that embraces a far more encompassing vision of democracy than he himself has.

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                      INTERNET left news and views, video and audio. FREE.
                                        New listing as of  november 22 2015
  Tired of  the the same old corporate news, ads and omissions? Of time wasted  on Charley Rose or the PBS NewsHour?   Well, you can say “forget you”to them forever -  if you have access to the internet.
  Below are some free regularly scheduled left internet shows. Tthere are many more ad hoc ones available by indivudual speaker or topic which you can get by a little creative google-ing. (Google has the best most complete search engine)

INTERNET left news and views, video and audio; archived, free

                                                           I  DAILY (M-F) 

DEMOCRACY NOW  Amy Goodman. Live morning 7-8am M-F video, audio. Archived, free.
                             See democracy now on google.       [also on AM950  2-3 pm, no ads]

THOM HARTMANN  “The Big Picture” Live each eve M-F. Hour. Archived, free. News, interviews. 
                            [Interviews with Richard Wolff,  Naomi Klein, etc]
              [More compact than the 3 hour ad-filled Hartmann talk show on AM950 11am-2pm]

BLACK AGENDA REPORT. Glen Ford. 5 minutes. Most days. Audio, print. Analysis. Archived, free.   
                                                          
                                                                 II WEEKLY

LAURA FLANDERS show. Video. Hour. New Monday. News. Interviews. Archived, free.
                                    [A strong gutsy woman; you’ll like her]

RICHARD WOLFF  “Economic Update´ Audio. Hour.New late Sunday. News, analysis. see rdwolff.com
                           rdwolff.com lists all his events, most recent first, video, audio, print.

COUNTERSPIN. Janine Jackson. Audio. 30 minutes. New Thursday. News, interviews. Archived, free.
                                     Sponsored by FAIR – Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting

                                                                 III  MONTHLY

RICHARD WOLFF. “Global Capitalism” Video. Filmed second Wednesday eve, available the next day.
                            Usually about 2 hours long. Analysis. See rdwolff.com

                                                               IV  whenever
Bernie Sanders gives lots of speeches to big audiences; and most of them are videoed and free on the internet within a day or two. Given the fact that the corporate media, the DLC, and wealthy pundits try to pretend Bernie does not exist, it is important to see him directly at every chance. The internet is full of Bernie speeches. Watch them. Tell the billionaires Enough is enough

And, here are writers/speakers/thinkers worth looking up on the Google line, all with audio and/or video.

Alperovitz Gar
Bacevich Andrew
Chomsky Noam
Domhoff G William
Ewen Stuart
Flanders Laura
Foster John Bellamy
Frank Thomas
Greenwald Glenn
Hartman Thom
Harvey David
Hedges Chris
Jensen Derrick
Johnson Chalmers
Klein Naomi
Korten David C
Le Feber Walter
McChesney Robert
McGovern Ray
McMurtry John
Moore Michael
Moyers Bill
Nader Ralph
Palast Greg
Parenti Michael
Phillips Kevin [intelligent conservative]
Ruppert Michael C
Sanders Bernie
Stone Oliver
Vidal Gore
Wallerstein Immanuel
Wolf Naomi
Wolff Richard
Wolin Sheldon
Zinn Howard
And there are many more.

And, for print on onlne, see Common Dreams (quick review), Dissident Voice (opinion),   CounterPunch (opinion), Monthly Review (longer Marxist essays). And there are many more….

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