First appeared at Skewed News.
(Please note: all quotes are paraphrased).
They scan the horizon constantly, seeking the next target. Cuba looks soooo tasty. They bide their time, dreaming of the day their advances will inevitably be accepted, however reluctantly.
It starts out with a sympathetic glance, an offer of help.
“I’ll teach your children to read,” murmurs Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh.
First they soften you up with missionaries and non-profits, offering free education, health care, economic assistance.
“Here are some pharmaceuticals to end the scourge of malaria,” purrs Bill Gates to Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique.
You don’t want to seem like a jerk to these self-proclaimed idealistic do-gooders and innocent servants of God, and your people could certainly use the help, so you accept these gifts. Some of it fucks you up though, like the food aid that floods the market and drives your own farmers out of business. Also you have this bad feeling: have they tested these medicines before giving them to your kids, or are they testing them on your kids? But your benefactor insists that it’s all offered in kindness. Refusing would insult their generosity, not to mention make it look like you don’t care about the welfare of your people.
↓ Read the rest of this entry…
First published at Skewed News.
Last week there was some debate over how many Americans are actually out of work, i.e., the “real” unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency within the US Department of Labor, put the official number at a laughable 5.3%, down from 6.1% the previous year. (When counting those who have given up but say they still want to work, and part-timers who want to work full-time, they admit the number should be raised to 10.4%). Political clown Donald Trump estimates it at 18%. Former Reagan administration Budget Director David Stockman puts it at a more realistic 42.9%
But none of those bloodsuckers are counting it right. They can’t, because they take for granted their own capitalist definitions of “employment,” “underemployment,” and “unemployment.” This is like snakes describing the reality of horses. Those who should define those categories are the ones living them. For working people it is not a numbers game, but a deeply problematic social relationship.
For capitalists, workers are a necessary inconvenience. To make a profit in the productive sector, they must purchase our labor power. (They’d prefer go robotic or full-financial—moving money around rather than selling goods or services—and not have to deal with pesky workers. Sadly for them, robots aren’t everywhere yet. They still need us—without exploiting us, their whole economy falls apart.) For them, the employment rate is not determined by what society needs; it’s determined by how much money they can accumulate. If it’s not profitable to employ us, they throw us in the street.
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Originally published in Skewed News.
A new rule being proposed by an Obama Administration executive order will update salary regulations frozen since 1975. 5 million salaried workers who’ve been bullied and coerced to provide countless hours of overtime labor without compensation are now (well, next year) supposed to actually get paid for work they do that exceeds 40 hours a week.
Currently, workers who are considered managers or supervisors have to make less than $23,660 to qualify for overtime pay—less than the official poverty level for a family of four. Many employers have taken advantage of this by giving fake “Manager” titles to workers to force them to work extra hours for free. The new rule would adjust that threshold to $50,440, basically restoring it to what it was in 1975 in real purchasing power. The new threshold will not be tied to inflation though, so we’re back at square one, and the price of food is still going to rise faster than our paychecks.
Getting paid for our work: what a concept! The fact that this is portrayed by some as a great victory for labor is pathetic. (And let’s not even mention those who argue that we shouldn’t even get this much). Getting paid for our work should be an obvious, expected base line.
It is not a gift. We earn it every day. So let’s not embarrass ourselves by being grateful to our oppressors and exploiters.
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Originally published in SkewedNews (a division of ANewDomain.net).
According to the complaint, the air used to maintain cabin pressure gets sucked into the planes through the engines. When the air is exposed to heated engine oil, it becomes toxic. (That means if you travel on one of their planes, you’re breathing that shit too).
“By reason of Boeing’s design decisions, the environmental control system on the subject aircraft lacked filters which would have purified the cabin air and prevented the subject flight attendant crew from being exposed to toxic fumes,” the lawsuit says.
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I did a video interview on Act Out with Eleanor Goldfield — it starts at minute 21.16:
And here’s a plug by Craig Ross on Red Wedge magazine:
Kickstarter of the Day: Stephanie McMillan affirms your anti-capitalism (plus: goats!)
By Michael Cavna
June 9 at 2:00 PM
IN HER BATTLE against capitalism, cartoonist-activist Stephanie McMillan does need funds to raise awareness of global plights through her art. And one of the reliable ways so far has been turning to the power of the crowd.
“I love the crowdfunding model, because it requires developing a strong relationship with readers, who decide what work they want to help succeed,” the Florida-based illustrator says as she seeks backing for her “365 Affirmations for Revolutionary Militants” desk calendar. “It’s a way to find out quickly if a project is a good idea or not.”
Comic Riffs caught up with McMillan, who has won an RFK Award for her comics journalism on the Occupy movement, to talk about financial models, the modes of profit and production — and which furry animals best embody her cause:
MICHAEL CAVNA: I know you’ve had success with crowdfunding in the past, Stephanie (i.e., “Mischief in the Forest”). What spurred you to turn to Kickstarter for your new project?
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Speaking Truth to Power Through Affirmations?
by Victor M. Feraru
Posted: 06/08/2015 3:12 pm EDT Updated: 06/08/2015 3:59 pm EDT
Stephanie McMillan has devoted most of her adult life to speaking truth to those in power through multiple books that illustrate the destructive effects of capitalism.
On Facebook and her own website McMillan shares The “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Militants” which are popular enough that she decided to create a desk calendar that will bring these animated encouragements to life.
McMillan has started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign that is more than 50 percent to its goal. It ends Friday, June 12. It goes without saying that McMillan’s message does not resonate with those in corporate America. I asked McMillan a few questions about the affirmations and the campaign.
Question: What are daily affirmations? What is their purpose?
McMillan: The “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants”
are simple and colorful drawings with inspirational messages (basically like memes) that encourage revolutionaries who want to end global capitalism.
There are already plenty of Affirmations for people who want financial success, romance, spiritual uplift, weight loss and other things. But until now, none have existed for people who want to fight exploitation, oppression, and the destruction of the planet; none for those who are struggling to change society based on the needs of humanity and nature rather than on the pursuit of profit. This is the most important thing that people can be doing, but so often people try to discourage us — they argue that it’s impossible or crazy — instead of offering positive support.
Fighting for social change can be difficult, and revolutionaries sometimes feel isolated, overwhelmed or discouraged. We need encouragement, and reminders that we are strong and not alone. So I created these affirmations to fill that need.
↓ Read the rest of this entry…
Here’s a photo from an event last week in the Berkshires, MA, hosted by the anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist organization Lukolo (http://lukolo.blogspot.com/).
Maggie and Sam of Lukolo gave an overview with powerful personal testimony. I followed with a comics slide show defining imperialism and anti-imperialism. Then Kiki Makandal of the Batay Ouvriye Solidarity Network (NYC) finished it up by talking about the specific impact of US imperialism on Haiti, and the struggle against it.
This is especially timely since the 100th anniversary of the first US invasion of Haiti is coming up on July 28. On this occasion, we should renew our determination to stand with the masses of Haiti and fight against all forms of US domination, whether it is perpetrated through manipulative trade agreements, puppet politicians, NGOs, military occupation (including by proxy), so-called “aid” that destroys agricultural economies, resource dispossession and extraction, land theft for tourism, and the straight-up exploitation of workers in sweatshops.
The discussion was wide-ranging, and we all learned from it. The initiation of Lukolo is another positive step toward building something we really need in the US: a broad, non-sectarian anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist mass movement!
We’re in the last few days days of the “Affirmations” calendar Kickstarter campaign — it ends at 8 p.m. (eastern time) this Friday! It’s going well, but will need a final push to get it over the top.
To help put it there, I’ve added a stretch goal of Revolutionary Proletarian Militant patches! The design is below.
Thanks so much to all who’ve pledged and shared this campaign so far with your friends and networks! If you’d like to share it further, here’s a conveniently short link: http://kck.st/1RuqHrk
With your help, the Affirmations calendar will become a reality, helping inspire us every day to stay on track and do our revolutionary thing.
Capitalism Must Die! A basic introduction to capitalism: what it is, why it sucks, and how to crush it
Some 20 years ago, while creating a book of Mike Alewitz’s labour murals, the artist and I faced the inevitable question: what would a revolutionary artist want his book to be called? He insisted on a word that seemed to me long outdated, belonging to another, faraway world: agitprop. As in, the way that the Communist International of the 1920s, before (and, lamentably, also after) Stalin’s seizure of power, described the agitation and propaganda value of art. It seemed to me, notwithstanding my own lifetime of left politics, so very unartistic.
Alewitz was stubborn (and he won): the point of his art had been from the beginning to transform society by visually assaulting capitalism and capitalists, by telling the stories of the working class and the oppressed. Perhaps I should add that most of his revolutionary murals – from St. Paul, Minnesota, to New York, to Nicaragua, to the Connecticut community college where he has taught for decades – have been painted over. The people in power clearly don’t like his artistic message.
Stephanie McMillan is an agitprop artist and no doubt proud of it. The granddaughter of a once-famed German animator, she studied at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with the political descendants of blacklisted animators in the U.S., and then turned in the 1990s to cartooning. It was in her nature to begin self-syndicating, an ambitious and (for most artists) frustrating – make that heartbreaking – effort to succeed on their own terms. Thanks to skill and temerity, she broke through to big as well as small publications, and, in 2012, won the Robert F. Kennedy award for editorial cartoonists. She also set herself on being a political organizer, from anti-poverty groups to Occupy and beyond. In a commercial publishing world with scarce room for left-wing artists, she has brought out two books from Seven Stories Press and other works that could be considered semi-commercial (as in, distributed by herself and her supporters without much commercial publicity or attention). “Undaunted” is her middle name, or should be.
The actual art in Capitalism Must Die! can only be described as utilitarian, serving the purpose of illustrating the ideas in her prose. The prose is straightforward and reminds me of the “basics” in the socialist study classes of my youth (during the early 1960s). We did not get into ecology back then, but the historic rise of capitalism, grinding the faces of the poor, the spread of the system across the planet (true to Marx’s own formula) to newly available resources and oppressed populations – all of this seems familiar. What is new here, in a society of declining literacy, is her skill in mixing images and interpretive paragraphs. Any young person who hates their job, or can’t find one, can understand intuitively her description of exploitation as the source of profits. McMillan excels in using this seemingly obvious point to explain how the system at large is fast murdering the planet.
She writes and draws as a socialist revolutionary who knows that working-class folks will not automatically be won over to understanding that something drastic both needs to be done and can be done. If there is a rub, it is in her appeal for a renewed Marxism-Leninism dependent on a vanguard party (“The trouble with Leninism,” an old anarchist postcard of the 1960s read, “is that everyone wants to be Lenin.”). On the positive side, she has plenty of useful suggestions – including points that many of us have tried to live by – on being democratic, patient (even in disagreements with other radicals), and determined to carry through for the long haul.
No one should expect an artist to have all the political answers. Stephanie McMillan prompts the questions and helps her readers along, and that is a lot. Read this book and pass it along to a young person, too.
The Kickstarter campaign for the “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Militants” desk calendar has reached the half-way-point — thank you so much to all who have helped the project get this far! There’s another 17 days and a ways to go, so it would really help if you could continue to share/retweet/repost this link with your networks: http://kck.st/1RuqHrk
In response to several requests, I’ve added reward categories for those who’d like to get multiple copies to share with friends and family. A $60 pledge gets 5 copies (you save $40), and a $110 pledge gets 10 (you save $90). Those who have already pledged can change to these, if you so desire.
A few more updates:
My interview with Mark Hand about these Affirmations was posted on TruthOut yesterday, here: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30859-feeling-trapped-in-a-dead-end-system-cartoonist-stephanie-mcmillan-s-affirmations-encourage-resistance
At Left Forum in NYC this weekend (May 29-31), I’ll be at a table in the Exhibitors section pretty much the whole time. It’s listed as “Proletarian Alternative & WW3 Magazine” (we’re sharing). If you’re there, please stop by!
New video with comics (11 mins).
This originally appeared in Against the Current
by David Finkel
In an era of wars and revolutions
American socialist cartoons of the mid-twentieth century
By Carlo and others; edited by Sean Matgamna
London, England: Phoenix Press, 2013, 314 pages, $15 paperback.
Capitalism Must Die!
A basic introduction to capitalism: what it is, why it sucks, and how to crush it
By Stephanie McMillan
Fort Lauderdale, FL: Idees Nouvelles, Idees Proletairiennes, 2014, 241 pages, $12 paperback.
HEAVILY MUSCLED, BLACK and white, mostly (although not all) male proletarians confront profit-bloated moneybag (all white male) capitalists, Jim Crow racism, the war industry, and the grim visage of Stalin.
A one-eyed fighting rabbit, “Bunnista,” takes on the greedy bosses (mostly but not all white and male) and their “omnicidal” system destroying the planet in the course of exploiting labor and nature.
The first set of images dominate the collection In an era of wars and revolutions, compiled by Sean Matgamna, a leading member of the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) in Britain. The second, the creation of Stephanie McMillan, is an illustrated manifesto setting out her Marxist-inspired account of how capitalism operates and the necessity to overthrow it.
Both are entertaining as well as educational, and put together certainly throw some light on changes in radical political culture over the past seven or so decades. Matgamna has compiled an assortment of mostly Trotskyist and Third Camp cartoons from the immediately pre-World War II period through the mid-1950s, with a handful of earlier contributions from the 1920s Communist press.
The artists include Carlo (Jesse Cohen) and Laura Gray (Slobe) and several others. For insight into these artists and their world, you can look up articles by Kent Worcester (http://newpol.org/content/sculptor-painter-and-cartoonist-laura-gray) and “Cannonite Bohemians After World War II” by Alan Wald (http://www.solidarity-us.org/pdfs/ATC%20159-Wald.pdf).
The coloration of these cartoons is generally pretty dark, and much of the imagery is likely to strike today’s readers as rather grim and outdated. It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that these cartoons and the papers where they appeared — The Militant, Daily Worker, Labor Action, Socialist Appeal, etc. — actually addressed a working-class audience engaged in a labor movement that was stronger and substantially more politicized than today’s.
Matgamna acknowledges the masculinist shortcomings of the works: “The socialists who drew these cartoons were, themselves and their organizations, militant for women’s rights, but little of that is in their work…Even so, the old symbols, the fat capitalist and the big powerful worker, are still intelligible. They depict truths of our times as well as of their own.” (1-2)
Stephanie McMillan brings the same hatred of exploitation and oppression, along with the ecological and feminist priorities of today’s movements. Her Bunnista character, whom I take to be an alter ego of sorts, appears to have evolved in recent years from a mainly environmental activist to a fully-fledged revolutionary fighter.
One feature I especially appreciate — missing in the period cartoons chronicled by Matgamna — is McMillan’s ability to turn a humorous critical light on the movement itself. Recycling a classic radical joke, one of her characters pronounces that “Being a revolutionary militant requires tremendous sacrifice, resolve, persistence, and hard work. It ends in violent death or prison.” To which Bunnista replies: “Your recruitment pitch could use some work.” (178)
In another case, without quoting Marx, she nicely paraphrases his classic quip about the arm of criticism and the criticism of arms. (241)
In a welcome development, both of these books are “licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution — Non-Commercial” licensing arrangement. That means the art can be used with attribution, for non-commercial purposes and without alteration.
One could discuss the cartoons and text at greater length, but better to look for yourself. Ordering information: Phoenix Press, 20E Tower Workshops, Riley Road, London SE1 3DG, England; Stephanie McMillan, P.O. Box 460673, Fort Lauderdale FL 33346; firstname.lastname@example.org.
May/June 2015, ATC 176
Feeling Trapped in a Dead-End System?
Cartoonist Stephanie McMillan’s Affirmations Encourage Resistance
by MARK HAND
Activists and organizers for social change undoubtedly experience periods of burnout. Working long hours — typically without pay and little appreciation — on campaigns, issues and causes where victories are few and far between can be demoralizing. Some activists get so frustrated with the perceived lack of results from their hard work, the divisions within the Left, and the rampant apathy among the general public that they give up entirely and retreat from activism.
Cartoonist, writer and organizer Stephanie McMillan saw the depression, feelings of hopelessness and other difficulties faced by her fellow activists. And she wanted to do something to help people overcome these. So she started writing uplifting messages to empower individuals to continue working for a better world. She calls her inspirational messages “Daily Affirmations for the Revolutionary Proletarian Militant.” Similar to the memorable characters in her popular comic strips Minimum Security and Code Green, McMillan’s affirmations are accompanied by cute and colorful animals, plants and insects.
McMillan is almost finished writing 365 affirmations, and when she puts the final touches on the last one, she hopes to gather them all up and offer the entire collection as a 365-day perpetual desk calendar. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native is holding a campaign that ends June 12 to raise enough money to get the calendars printed.
In mid-May, a few days after McMillan launched her fundraising campaign, I asked her why she decided to write these affirmations. The conversation then moved on to broader questions about living in a world filled with barriers to positive change.
Mark Hand: When did you start writing and drawing the Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants?
Stephanie McMillan: I started on January 1, 2014, to provide an alternative for revolutionaries to the same old New Year’s resolutions. I intended to post them every day for a year, but some of them straggled into 2015. I’m finishing up the final 34 this month, daily through June 12, to wind up with 365 on the final day of the Kickstarter campaign.
MH: What inspired you to write them?
SM: Capitalists constantly push us to want things that keep us trapped in the system and obsessed with trivialities that distract us from resistance. All kinds of support is available if we strive to make money, worship a god, lose weight, find romance.
But there is a huge lack of inspirational literature to encourage and uplift people whose lives are dedicated to social transformation. Most writing on the Left is theoretical and political — these are obviously crucial, but there isn’t much that addresses us on the ideological level, on helping us change our ways of thinking so we stay strong, on track, and motivated, that helps us establish standards of behavior that serve our goals. All we hear is the constant barrage of capitalist ideology telling us that we’re wrong, our aspirations are impossible, we’re crazy to try, and “we can’t beat ‘em, might as well join ‘em. No wonder many people feel so hopeless, depressed and overwhelmed.
I started writing the Affirmations to bolster my own resolve and strategic optimism, and when I started sharing them, I saw that they filled a strong need for many others as well. So I decided to draw them regularly.
↓ Read the rest of this entry…
The “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants” calendar Kickstarter campaign had a great first week! The odds of making the goal are pretty good for any project that reaches 30% funding in the first quarter of its campaign, and this one reached it in 3 days. So I’m hopeful of success!
Next week I’ll add one or two more reward packages. One backer, Michelle Reyf, suggested including a level where people can get 5 copies to give to friends, which is a great idea. She says (quoted with permission) :
“Stephanie, every time I read one of your affirmations, I want to shout it from the rooftops and tattoo it where I can see it everyday. You have a gift – and now I can pass it on. I’m supporting your calendar because it empowers us to share something delightful and special and revolutionary – something aligned with our deepest values and vision of who we are and the world we want.”
It’s incredibly gratifying to know that my work is useful and encouraging for those working for social change.
Today is the launch of my Kickstarter campaign to fund 365-day perpetual calendars featuring “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants!” Here’s the link:
I would appreciate it very much if you would share this link with your friends and networks. And of course, if you’d like to help fund it by pre-ordering your own calendar, that would be great too! The first 50 backers can get the calendar at $5 off the retail price.
Kickstarter is a crowd-funding service that offers independent creators an avenue to receive funding pledges in exchange for pre-orders and other rewards. Backers decide how much to pledge, with funds only going through if a target threshold is met.
Kickstarter is all or nothing: if I don’t secure $11,000 in pledges and pre-orders by June 12, printing will not go ahead and you will not be charged. So it will only be produced if enough people really want it to be.
The “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants” perpetual calendar will be spiral bound with a stand so you can display it on your desk (or wherever). It will feature 365 full-color drawings with inspirational messages for those who define success as overthrowing the capitalist system. Each day you can flip to a new page for guidance and encouragement on the revolutionary path. You’ll be able to re-use it year after year.
Thousands have enjoyed these Affirmations online, and many have written to me to ask for a printed calendar. The print run will be 1,500 copies. A photo mock-up is below (along with today’s Affirmation).
Thanks so much for your help and support!
P.S.: Here’s a shortened url to help spread the word on Twitter, Facebook etc: http://kck.st/1RuqHrk
U.S. Hands Off the Haitian People Coalition (which later became One Struggle — onestruggle.net), Miami, early-to-mid-1990s. I always carried a big heavy bag of leaflets everywhere I went! (Still rarely go anywhere without at least a few, just in case).
May 6-June 11, 2015: sign up for my free newsletter and get “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Militants” sent to your inbox daily!
My newsletter usually consists of event announcements and a selection of comics and writing, sent out approximately once a week. But if you sign up now, before June 11, it will also include:
- A daily email May 11-June 12 with of the last 33 “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants” that I’m drawing for my upcoming 365-day calendar.
- Tomorrow’s Affirmation today — they’ll be sent to you a day before they’re posted in public!
- A free ebook (pdf) “100 Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants” (usually $3).
Many people have asked for a calendar of “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants.” I’m thinking about doing a Kickstarter project soon, for a 365-day perpetual calendar like the photo below. [EDITED 5/6: Due to the great response to this proposal, I’ve decided to go for it! Please check back on Monday May 11 for details].
I have 35 more drawings to do to reach 365. If you have suggestions for particular topics that I should include, toward inspiring and encouraging revolutionary militants to stay on the path of struggle against capitalism, please feel free to send them to me at email@example.com. Thanks!
“John and I had an idea for a cartoon to note that no criminal code charges were made against First Nickel and Taurus Drilling for the deaths of Norm Bisaillon and Marc Methe, and we asked Stephanie McMillan to draw it – and she did. Thank you Stephanie!”
Is Capitalism All That Bad?
Stephanie McMillan, an award winning writer and political cartoonist attempts to answer that question and explain what capitalism means to those who don’t have a lifetime to study its concepts, in her book Capitalism Must Die.
Conspiracy theories, false solutions and misconceptions of human nature are common diversions that keep us from understanding the connection between capitalism’s structure and its many harmful effects,” McMillan says. She did not just start thinking about this kind of stuff.
McMillan, who graduated from New York University, says that she has been working against capitalism since high school.
During the three decades she has been trying to expose the insidious nature of capitalism, she realized that most people do not know what it is. In fact, she says, even those who are against capitalism are not always clear of the components that make it so toxic for the future of the world.
“The most immediate example of capitalism ruining the world is pollution,” says McMillan.
The second and equally as important is the way that we are literally sucking the world’s natural resources dry.
Contrary to popular belief, our forests, oil and clean water, to name a few, are finite, and when they are gone, they’re gone. And not acknowledging global warming will not make it go away.
A capitalist is “a wealthy person who uses money to invest in trade and industry for profit in accordance with the principles of capitalism,” according to Merriam Webster and capitalism is “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.”
Simple enough, right? It is more complicated than that.
McMillan is not alone in her assessment. Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs wrote on CNN.com:
The idea of sustainable development is that raw capitalism is far too powerful for its own good. Global capitalism is a juggernaut, with the world economy now doubling in size every generation. Yet on a finite Earth, with a billion new people being added every 15 years, that juggernaut is now laying siege to the physical bases of life and the social support systems that make life pleasant and decent. Sustainable development offers a path out of this growing crisis.
Having a curious mind (and some questions about the validity of all of this), I reached out to my correspondent friend Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned linguist and unapologetic political dissonant, who still manages to travel the world and answer emails regularly at the young age of 86. I asked him why capitalists who want to own the world are so hell bent on destroying it.
“They don’t want to. But ruining the world is an externality, which doesn’t enter into business transactions,” Chomsky says.
He thinks that above the socioeconomic toxicity that rises from capitalism, its effects on the environment are the most discernable.
“The most obvious, and ominous, example is destruction of the environment, a virtually automatic consequence of the institutional structure of capitalism,” explains Chomsky.
Although most of the business in the world revolves around capitalism, making it as Chomsky and McMillan call “unavoidable,” such as using computers or banking and investing our money, it is best to know that in our not-so-distant future, the choices corporations are making today are not only exploiting people, but also putting the whole planet we live on at risk.
Don’t take my word for it. Pick up a copy of McMillan’s book. It is a good place to start. It is important to understand just how serious the implications are if we continue on the route we are allowing these companies to go.
Follow Victor M. Feraru on Twitter: www.twitter.com/victorhuffpost
For something a little different, I was hired to draw a comics-journalism piece for the Nib about finding a dead body. The first panel is below. See the rest here: https://thenib.com/the-flies-were-iridescent-6e0adddda4e8
If you’re anywhere near Grinnell, Iowa on May 1, please join me for an event: “Taking Back International Workers Day!” There will be presentations by student Thomas Estabrook on the history of May Day, railroad worker Robert Allen on the need for struggle, and I’ll have a new comics slideshow about the role of the working class in the fight against capitalism. One of the slides is below.
Details available here: https://www.facebook.com/events/910467872308730/
Here’s a Google Hangout video with me, Ted Rall, Paula Hewitt Amram and Marcus Graetch of Left Forum, talking about the Left Forum, comics, organizing and more:
Original post here: http://uprootingcriminology.org/classroom/teaching-capitalism/
by Gary Potter,
Professor, School of Justice Studies
Eastern Kentucky University
April 16, 2015
Almost every semester I teach an undergraduate or graduate course in criminological theory. At best I can devote three weeks to radical, critical and feminist criminology because of the plethora of other lesser theories in the discipline. It is almost absurd to suggest that I can, even superficially cover the 1,152 pages of Marx’s Das Kapital and the 912 pages of The Grundrisse (Penguin Books editions) in an hour or two. The truth is that I am in my 30th year of trying to read and understand The Grundrisse myself. Even if I had a full semester devoted to a critique of capitalism trying to make the esoteric concepts and ideas relevant to students, particularly undergraduates, is an insurmountable task. Well, at last help has arrived!
Stephanie McMillan has produced a 244 page book of texts and cartoons titled Capitalism Must Die! What It is, Why It Sucks, and How to Crush It which makes the complex and indecipherable easy to understand. Available here: http://stephaniemcmillan.org/shop/
In Part 1, Ms. McMillan explains in easy to read text and with wonderful illustrations how capitalism works and why it must constantly and rapaciously grow through exploitation. In Part 2 she offers ideas on how we might organize to confront this ruthless system of global exploitation.
↓ Read the rest of this entry…
Imperialism & Anti-Imperialism
[slides in caps]
I’m going to give a brief, general definition of imperialism, and talk about the need to build a strong anti-imperialist mass movement, and what that means.
Though empires have existed before capitalism, imperialism is a specific stage of capitalism. More than simply an aggregate of national economies, imperialism is an integrated world system that is linked to a qualitatively increased socialization of production (meaning, many people, even in different countries, working on the same products), and the complete partition and control of the world by the capitalist class.
↓ Read the rest of this entry…
We are very grateful for all the support and solidarity we have received from a lot of individuals and organizations. This kind of support is very important and strengthens our conviction and our determination to keep up the struggle till the end. This kind of support also shows the internationalist nature of the struggles we are engaged in and the importance of international solidarity. The capitalists and imperialists have formed their own camp and alliances, we must stand united in our own camp to confront them.
We want to underscore that our response was very effective. The organizations that we asked to be targeted by protest messages, CNOHA and its president, Dominique St Eloi, received a lot of messages. In a meeting between different organizations concerning this matter, they asked Batay Ouvriye to request the suspension of the solidarity messages.
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An (audio) interview with Yannick Etienne of Batay Ouvriye — puts the attempt on her life in context:
SOTA statement with more context (of the negotiations with Multiwear for back pay):
Two days ago I was outraged to hear of an attempt on the life of Yannick Etienne of Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight) in Haiti. Below is a statement from the Rapid Response Network about it, which I’m trying to spread wherever I can. Please take a moment to read it, and if you agree, to participate as specified at the end, and share with friends. I’ve met Yannick several times and have been hugely inspired by her integrity and courage; indeed by everyone in Batay Ouvriye that I’ve had the good fortune to come in contact with. Her life is completely dedicated to the struggle of the international working class against capitalism. If we want that too, we need to take a stand to defend her and her work.
In the coming days there is a plan to gather and distribute more information, including an audio interview with Yannick. I’ll send those out too.
*Militant union organizer attacked in Port-au-Prince*
Back Off, Thugs: We Will Defend Yannick Etienne!
On January 30, an assassination attempt was made on Yannick Etienne, a militant of Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight), in the SONAPI industrial zone of Port-au-Prince. The perpetrators were flunkies of the NGO/yellow union CNOHA (Central National Workers of Haiti).
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“Capitalism Must Die!” – the slide presentation with comics that later evolved into the book – is now on video!
It’s a 26-minute introduction to what capitalism is and why it must be abolished. One way that people are using it is to show it in small groups, and then skype with me to discuss it. If anyone wants to do that, please email me.
The ebook by CSUN professor David Klein, which I’ve illustrated, is due out next week!
[EDITED 1/8: It’s available now! Pay what you like, download here: https://gumroad.com/l/climatechange]
2014 was the hottest year on record. If we don’t quickly find a way to stop global warming, we’re cooked. This ghastly reality is now staring us right in the face.
It’s finally become fashionable for the leftish intelligentsia—public intellectuals, paid activists, liberal editors—to bend themselves, with much concern and expressions of urgency (albeit a bit late for some), to the challenge of global warming. But most of them seem constitutionally incapable of dealing with the underlying situation that drives it. They identify the problem variously as corporate greed, sociopathic elites, brainwashed consumers, corrupt politicians. When they can no longer avoid mentioning capitalism, they unfailingly qualify it: “capitalist excess,” “corporate capitalism,” “crony capitalism,” “the broken system.”
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Cartoonist and Journalist Stephanie McMillan Provides a User-Friendly Guide
How to Stop Capitalism in its Tracks
by MARK HAND
If capitalism keeps chugging along, we’re all in big trouble. That’s the prognosis of Stephanie McMillan, an award-winning political cartoonist and author of the new book, Capitalism Must Die! A Basic Introduction to Capitalism: What It Is, Why It Sucks, and How to Crush It.
The most urgent reason to stop capitalism in its tracks, according to McMillan, is its prominent role in harming the planet. Capitalism possesses an inherent growth imperative. This means that the normal functioning of capitalism is causing water shortages, ailing oceans, destroyed forests and ruined topsoil.
But even if an ecological catastrophe weren’t upon us, capitalism would still need to be dismantled because it’s based on exploitation, McMillan said in an interview. “There’s no reason why the social result of production needs to be in private hands and that only a few people should own what everybody produces,” she said.
McMillan uses her book to introduce and popularize basic concepts of revolutionary theory. “I wanted to provide something that was accessible to people, that people wouldn’t be afraid to pick up,” she said. But once they pick it up, readers will find a “doorway into deeper levels of theory because we always need to learn more about the system,” she explained.
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Last year when I met some members of the Bangladesh Trade Union Federation near Dhaka, I brought a solidarity letter from the autonomous organization Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight), in Haiti. The Bangladeshi workers responded with a message in return, and a photograph raising their fists in an expression of working class unity.
The message was translated into Kreyol and sent to Haiti shortly afterward. Then last month I participated in events organized by unions of Batay Ouvriye in three areas: Port-au-Prince, Cap Haitien, and Caracol. The workers in each place (mostly garment workers, but others too) requested that their photographs and statements of internationalist solidarity be sent to the workers of the BTUF. The statements have been translated into Bangla, and are below, along with photos.
হাইতির শ্রমিক শ্রেণীর পক্ষ থেকে, আমরা, হাইতির উত্তরাঞ্চলের শ্রমিকরা, বাংলাদেশের শ্রমিকদের সাথে সংহতি প্রকাশ করছি । আমরা তাদের বলতে চাই, যে লড়াই আপনারা গড়ে তুলছেন, আমরা হাইতিতেও অভিন্ন লড়াই গড়ে তুলছি । এটাই অদ্বৈত সংগ্রাম । আমাদের সবার উপর সাম্রাজ্যবাদী শক্তিসমূহ তার শক্তি প্রয়োগ করে চলেছে । আপনাদের মত আমরাও নির্যাতিত । আমাদের কাজ করে যেতে হবে যাতে শ্রমিক শ্রেণী বিশ্বব্যাপী অভিন্ন দৃষ্টিভঙ্গি নিয়ে, অভিন্ন লড়াই গড়ে তুলে, যতক্ষণ পর্যন্ত না আমরা পুঁজিবাদী ব্যবস্থা উচ্ছেদ করতে পারছি। আমাদের দরকার পুঁজিবাদী ব্যবস্থা মোকাবেলার জন্য, বিশ্বব্যাপী শ্রমিকদের ঐক্য।
পুঁজিবাদ নিপাত যাক।
বিশ্বব্যাপী শ্রমিক শ্রেণীর লড়াই, দীর্ঘজীবি হোক ।
In the name of the Haitian working class, we, workers in northern Haiti, stand in solidarity with workers in Bangladesh. We wish to tell them that the struggle they are waging in Bangladesh is the same struggle we are waging here in Haiti. It’s ONE STRUGGLE. The imperialist forces are projecting their power on us all. We are victims of it as much as you are also victims of it. However, we have to work so that the working class worldwide builds unity in the same worldview to wage the same struggle until we can overthrow the capitalist system. We need a worldwide workers’ union to confront the capitalist system.
Down with capitalism!
Long live the working class struggle worldwide!
সকোয়া সংহতি প্রকাশ
আমার নাম জ্যাক, হাইতির সকোয়া (Union at Codevi, Free Trade Zone) ইউনিয়নের সদস্য । আমরা , সকোয়া জাতীয় ও আন্তর্জাতিক পরিসরে অন্যান্য সংগঠনের সাথে ঐক্যবদ্ধভাবে আন্দোলনকে এগিয়ে নিয়ে যাচ্ছি। আমরা শ্রমিক শ্রেণী, বিভিন্ন দেশে, বছরের পর বছর, এমনকি এখনও, যারা অবদমিত এবং যাদের সংগ্রাম করার অধিকার নেই। অইসব দেশগুলোর মধ্যে বাংলাদেশের শ্রমিকরা নিজেদের মধ্যে ঐক্য গড়ে তুলছে। আমাদের বিজয়ের প্রতীক হিসাবে ছবিট তোলা হয়েছে। আমাদের শৃঙ্খল না ভাঙ্গা পর্যন্ত অবশ্যই আন্দোলন চালিয়ে যেতে হবে।
দুনিয়ার মজদুর , এক হও।
SOKOWA Solidarity Statement
My name is Jacques, member of the SOKOWA (Union of CODEVI Workers in Ouanaminthe) union in Haiti. We in SOKOWA are aligning ourselves with other organizations to move the struggle forward nationally and internationally. We, the workers in the working class in various countries, for years until now, have been victims of intimidation and repression in our struggles. Among such countries is Bangladesh where workers are kept from uniting themselves. Thus, the photo taken as a symbol of solidarity represents a victory for us. We must continue to struggle together until we break our chains.
Workers of the world, unite!
Several new posts about capital, surplus value and accumulation posted by INIP, the publishing entity I work with that has the purpose of popularizing proletarian theory:
A brief definition of proletarian revolution (by Jan Makandal):
A historical materialist definition of capital:
A synopsis of accumulation:
On value (by Kiki Makandal):
A brief discussion of the origin of surplus value:
[Appears in The Socialist: http://www.thesocialist.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/TS-RADICALART-2014.pdf]
by Jen McClellan
CSUN did a week of lectures in October, titled “Comics v. Capitalism v. Climate.” The first presentation I caught was given by Professor David Klein and Stephanie McMillan, who spoke fearlessly about the incompatibility of capitalism and
…. well … life.
Stephanie McMillan, you critiqued capitalism for needing exponential expansion in order to survive. You offer, in response to this destructive system, inspiration via cartoons, and suggest that transformation away from capitalism will be economic, political, and ideological. You also emphasize that the working class are the only ones that are able to offer a solution. My first question then is – if we live in a system that sucks every last ounce of energy out of its workers, (giving them less than enough to live decently as human beings) then where are they going to find the time or strength to study economics, become politicized, or develop an ideology?
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Comics Journalism panel, at AAEC (Association of American Editorial Cartoonists) convention, October 10, San Francisco. With Jack Ohman, Susie Cagle, Patrick Chappatte, Andy Warner, Dan Archer, Dan Carino, and Mark Fiore. Photo by Jenny Robb:
Preparing for the Cartoon Death Match, October 9, Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco. With Ron Turner, Mark Fiore, Don Asmussen, and Vishvajit Singh. (I won!) Photo by JP Trostle:
“War, Imperialism, and Oppression… and Resistance,” cartoon presentation with Ted Rall and David Klein, October 15, CSUN (California State University at Northridge):
Reading a solidarity statement at an event celebrating the 2-year anniversary of SOKOWA (Autonomous Union of Workers at Codevi, Ouanaminthe), November 12:
Earth at Risk, panel on Capitalism and Sociopathy, with Charles Derber, Derrick Jensen, and Stan Goff. November 23, San Francisco:
Fight for $15 march through a Burger King, December 4, Miami:
Scope Art Show, Dec. 4-7, Miami Beach. I had a few original drawings here from “The Beginning of the American Fall” (about Occupy):
Stephanie McMillan, 11/23/14
(Presented at Earth at Risk conference, San Francisco)
[also posted by Burnpile Press: http://burnpilepress.org/uncategorized/the-deadly-reign-of-the-animate-object-capitalism-and-sociopathy/
We all know that capitalism is killing the world. In order to stop it, we can’t just keep resisting its effects. Capitalism doesn’t care if we protest on street corners a thousand times; that just proves how tolerant and democratic it is. The solutions are not to be found within its framework. They are even less to be found at the individual level. We don’t actually have power as consumers – they would like us to think we do, but we can’t buy, or not buy, our way out of it. It is a social system, a class system, and can only be addressed at the level of collective, organized class struggle. We need to understand capital, how it works, the mechanisms that keep it in place, and the core of its functioning.
Capitalism is a mode of production based on the exploitation of labor in the generation of surplus value. This means that workers are paid a certain amount of wages for a day’s work, but what they produce is worth more than that. The extra value is called surplus value, and the capitalist just steals it. This is what all profit is based on. This is what private property is all about – its considered normal for the social means of production, the factories and land that produce the things we all use, to be privately owned, and for those owners to simply take whatever is produced with them.
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I’m illustrating and editing a book by CSUN professor David Klein, due out by the end of January (as an ebook), titled “Capitalism and the Climate: The Science and Politics of Global Warming.” Here are a few new drawings for it: