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“I See What You’re Doing”

Here’s one of the pieces I’m going to show at “Art Mama Moves”, a group show opening next week in Fort Lauderdale. The details are here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1485781201518746/

And I’ve been working on a  statement to read there. Here’s what I’ve got…
***
I appreciate so much anyone who speaks out against any kind of abuse, and right now, all the women currently speaking out against sexualized abuse in the workplace. Just naming it for what it is, is a huge accomplishment. We were silenced for far too long.

When I was in my teens and twenties, 30+ years ago, workplace sexual harassment (as well as “date rape”) weren’t even socially recognized concepts. So when they happened, the only way to deal with it was on an individual basis, with little or no support. At work, choices were limited: do we confront the creep, which might put us in a perpetual state of war with him and maybe also everyone else in the place, get us labeled as a troublemaker, and risk losing the job? Or we could try to avoid being alone around him, but stay in a constant state of anxiety and silent rage, and leave if it got worse. Or we could normalize it, convince ourselves that nothing’s wrong, and start drinking too much.

 

When I was 19, at one job interview I was told straight out that the job included sex with the owner, and if I had a problem with that I shouldn’t even bother applying. Back then, the only option I saw was to leave in disgust. Hell, even as recently as a couple years ago, one of my clients decided to parade around in only a towel during a work meeting. I dropped him as a client, but never confronted him about it. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to seem intolerant. Like many women, I was so conditioned in codependency that I dreaded making him feel uncomfortable more than I cared about my own discomfort — how twisted is that???

But there is courage and strength in numbers. With back up, we can do so much more. We can crush those creepy fuckers. I hope this new spirit of defiance spreads to every workplace in the whole damn world.

The fact that these accusations are spreading like wildfire, forces society to name this abuse for what it is, and acknowledge its pervasiveness. There’s no longer any excuse for saying it’s no big deal. There’s no longer any excuse for not backing up your coworker who makes a complaint.

The only way to stop abusers is to make them face extremely unpleasant consequences. They only stop when they’re forced to. Until now, being a workplace predator usually didn’t entail consequences for him; only for his victims. But today we have the chance to say: you’re done. Your career is over. Everyone fucking hates you. This time it’s not MY life being ruined – it’s YOURS.

The spotlight on this issue may seem sudden, but it’s the culmination of many years of patient organizing and speaking out with little result. Now a tipping point has finally been reached. Organizers around many issues – homophobia, civil rights, police brutality, ecocide – toil for decades before crimes finally become widely seen as such, and can no longer be ignored. This doesn’t mean they’re resolved – far from it – but it’s a necessary step toward that possibility.

The “me too” movement makes me think about what other kinds of normalized systemic abuse might come to be seen for the crimes they are, might reach that tipping point and suddenly become unaccepted. If we’ll one day say to some corporate polluter: you really fucked up, your career is ruined, you’re never going to work again. That we’ll say: you put a cancer-causing chemical in people’s food, you cut down trees to build a mall for your own profit, you crafted a law against distributing food to homeless people, you denied someone health care, you threatened humanity with nuclear annihilation – you’re going DOWN!

How far could this go? Let’s dream big. Why not go for taking down the entire fucking capitalist system, the root of so much misery and oppression?

To make that possible, another normalized workplace violation needs to be exposed for the crime that it is, so that, too, it can no longer be ignored, excused, or tolerated. That crime is profiting off the labor of others. That crime is exploitation.

Imagine if we heard people on TV saying: “I was denied the means to obtain food or shelter unless I agreed to do whatever business owners asked of me for eight or ten or sixteen hours a day, and when I complied, I was only paid a small fraction of the value that I produced, and they stole all the rest for themselves.” And then imagine that instead of everyone going, “Eh, that’s just how it is, deal with it,” that mass outrage spread like wildfire. And then imagine that everyone subjected to these criminal acts began refusing to accept it, and that a majority of the population supported their resistance. Imagine the exploiters disgraced, isolated, driven from our midst. The way that everything humanity produces would have to change. Think about what else could melt away once that happened: wealth inequality, imperialism, ecocide. The control that capitalists currently have over the world would be broken.

Today, workers who speak out against exploitation are not generally listened to. They’re labeled complainers and troublemakers. They’re told that their abuse is not a problem, but a normal and necessary function of human society. They are told to suck it up and take their heartache to the bar on the weekend.

Sound familiar?

But we should consider it a badge of honor to be a troublemaker against abuse and exploitation. Let’s all be troublemakers. Let’s stop protecting or being loyal to our oppressors, our exploiters, our enemies. Call out their crimes for what they are, name the abusers and their violations against us, and stand up for each other in increasing numbers until justice can no longer be denied – until we can deprive predators of every systemic structure that has allowed them to exist.

Continue reading “I See What You’re Doing”

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“FtL PoP” — a new tropical pop art collection

I’ve been working on some new prints and line art to sell at the studio, online, and on the beach (I just got a license for the latter). These are in a similar visual style as many of my comics and the Affirmations calendar — colorful and with a lot of cute animals.

They’re inspired by the beautiful tropical plants and amazing creatures of South Florida. I was born here, and so was my dad. My great-grandparents are buried in a graveyard withing walking distance of where I live. I love this place, and it kills me to see it being systematically destroyed by overdevelopment, pollution, and sea level rise.

Maybe if more people appreciate how unique and gorgeous this area is, more will be motivated to protect it. I hope I can make some small difference in helping people see it that way.

Instagram & Facebook: @FtLPoP

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A Personal Note

I’ve been in a major transition period, going through some significant  changes in my life during the past year or so.

First, a wonderful person came into my life, and we fell in love. Chris is my soul mate.

Second, Workers Power became the main political initiative I’m involved with. It’s not perfect or big, and has many ups and downs, but I fit there, and believe the world is better with it than without it.

Third, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my life and work, confronting and trying to overcome habits like co-dependency, people-pleasing, dogmatism and arrogance. I’ve always had a hard time being openly myself (insofar as that’s possible in this social context), as opposed to what I’ve been convinced to believe I “should” be. I regret the damage that’s done to myself and others…but I’m learning and evolving.

Fourth, I’ve stopped drawing editorial cartoons and commissioned illustrations for a living. I didn’t want to keep working on others’ projects while neglecting my own, and too many clients demanded more compromises of message than I was willing to concede.

Fifth, my friend Eric generously left me a gift when he died, of enough money to open an art studio. While Chris still works as a truck driver, he’s also involved in the studio with me. We hold classes and events, while practicing and improving our artistic skills, and we’re working hard to make it grow enough to support us.

Finally, I have many projects and plans in mind and in progress, both political and not directly so. Among them: to pull together a lot of scattered work I’ve already done and make it easily available.

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Added to the shop: "Code Green" – a book of editorial cartoons about the environmental emergency

New!

156 pages, full color

$27.95 $20; free shipping in US (international postage rates apply)

Addresses serious issues with humor and wit, and the illustrations are fantastic.” – Amazon customer

“Code Green” is the award-winning editorial cartoon about the global environmental emergency. During its 3-year run, it was the only editorial cartoon in the US devoted solely to ecological issues. Topics include pipelines, oil spills, radiation, pollution, species extinction, and global warming. The individual cartoons have been reprinted in hundreds of venues worldwide; this is the complete collection all in one place.

INTRODUCTION & SAMPLE PAGES (pdf): CodeGreenSample

 

Buy “Code Green” Now:


Choose shipping location



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New kids' book: Songbird, Fly!

I’m illustrating an adorable rhyming story by Chris Burns. I’ll post the pages as they’re finished, 3 times a week for the next few months, and then they’ll be compiled as a book. Here’s a preview:

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Some things I learned in 2016:

* Beliefs may change. Principles don’t.
* Some weeds shouldn’t be allowed to establish themselves.
* True love and happiness are real and possible, if we stay open and attentive and daring and lucky.
* Past conditioning can be overcome.
* It’s ok to just have fun sometimes, in spite of concurrent global catastrophes etc.
* It’s not ok to avoid communicating that something is wrong, when it is.
* A build-up of contradiction, if not mitigated, will burst.
* Letting go is a necessary part of transformation and renewal.
* Death is everywhere, and inevitable, and so is life.
* To non-workers, the working class is virtually invisible, and most non-workers like it that way.
* Capitalism is ultra-scary and dangerous, but the people are smart and brave and creative and resilient.
* Anything can happen. What we do is the only part of that equation that we have any control over.

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New coloring book! "100 Affirmations for Revolutionaries"!

affcoverfrontonlyAn inspiring coloring book for anti-capitalists of all ages!

In print: $11.92, available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1540772403/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_t2_v2usybCNCWG76

OR print-your-own: just $5, available at https://gum.co/colortherevolution1

There are plenty of coloring books intended to help us achieve serenity or express our creativity. But none to address the needs of those of us working for revolution to overthrow capitalism.

Until now!

These 100 Affirmations (two per page) combine cute animal and plant drawings with serious revolutionary messages for contemplation and inspiration. After coloring, cut them out to display or to share with comrades to spark conversations. Start a local coloring group and discuss revolutionary strategy!

Enjoy!

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If Workers Take Power:

ifcolor– Instead of the small class of capitalists controlling society, we can make our own decisions about work and social life.

– Instead of some of us being forced to work too many hours while others are unable to find a job at all, the work can be divided so everyone works a reasonable amount.

– Instead of competing against one another for scarce jobs, everyone can do meaningful and useful work that contributes to society.

– Instead of capitalists pitting us against each other by fostering racism, sexism, nationalism and other forms of oppressive ideologies, we can unite for the common good.

– Instead of the fruits of our labor enriching the few while the majority is kept in poverty, it can be distributed to provide food, shelter, medical care, household goods, education and recreation for everyone.

– Instead of destroying the environment for higher profits, we can implement sustainable ways to meet the needs of humanity and the planet.

– Instead of sacrificing our safety and health to cut costs, our well-being will be prioritized.

– Instead of half of the world’s food being wasted because it’s not profitable to sell it, we can eliminate hunger.

– Instead of being forced to wage wars of conquest for capitalists, the workers of the world can cooperate in peace.

Workers already provide all the goods and services for society. The global working class can decide together what we need, and how it is produced and distributed. Power is in our hands – if we organize, rise up and take it!

[Originally appeared at http://workers-power.org/2016/11/29/if-workers-take-power/]

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What is Capitalism?

surplusvaluecolorCapitalism is a mode of production – a totality of social relations that shapes how the society as a whole reproduces itself, how we all meet our needs, how we get from one day to the next. There are different modes of production, distinguished from one another by what drives the economy. This economic foundation generates, and is in turn supported by, a corresponding political system (which keeps one class in power over everyone else), plus prevailing ways of thinking that make it all seem natural and inevitable (such as the idea that “poverty we shall always have with us.”)

Other contemporary and recent modes of production besides capitalism are slavery and feudalism. All of these have one thing in common: class divisions that facilitate the accumulation of wealth by a small parasitical minority on the backs of the producing majority.

For slavery and feudalism, the new wealth taken possession of by the ruling class is the product itself. Under feudalism, a landlord takes half or a third of a peasant’s grain, whatever the quantity is and however much work the peasant put into it. But capitalist accumulation runs on a different formula. For capitalists, the product itself is not the point—the wealth they accumulate is the labor power extracted from workers in the production process. Labor power is wealth crystalized in commodities, in the form of surplus value (a form of profit). The particular kinds of commodities we produce don’t really matter; the money is made in the production of them.

In order not to starve, workers, who possesses or control no means of production, must sell our labor power, or ability to work, to the capitalist, for wages. (Our predicament is no accident, but has been engineered through systematic historical dispossession of formerly self-sufficient, land-based people.)

The big scam of capitalism is that wages are supposedly a fair trade of money for the amount of time that we work. Wages are generally based on what capitalists decide that we need for our survival—to pay our rent and feed our families. But in reality, capitalists are not buying our time—they are buying our labor power, which they use to produce commodities for them, that they later sell at a price higher than what they paid us. This profit is reinvested as new capital, which causes businesses (and the economy as a whole) to constantly grow larger. Continue reading What is Capitalism?

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Confessions of a Petit Bourgeois Radical Striving to Assist the Working Class in the Fight Against Capitalism

ladder9/20/16

An old comrade of mine died last spring. Around 25 years ago we were part of a team distributing “Revolutionary Worker” newspapers in Miami neighborhoods. After I left the RCP a few years later, we ceased working together but remained friends.

He left behind a box of pamphlets from the mid- to late-1970s issued by various New Left groups in the Bay Area, where much of his political development took place. I put them out on the porch and have been slowly going through them, curious about how the Left conceptualized revolutionary activity back then, and looking for clues as to why it largely abandoned class struggle in favor of social justice activism.

Judging by these pamphs, which were issued by at least half a dozen different communist organizations, it seems like the political scene in the Bay Area was pretty lively. Most of the texts are long, highly detailed polemics against rival communist groups, on questions ranging from the socialist character (or not) of China and Albania, to whether all forms of nationalism are reactionary (or not).

Personally, I’m interested in their attempts at participating in workers’ struggles and spreading revolutionary class consciousness among workers. Most, if not all, of them claimed to recognize the need for the working class (or some “most oppressed” section of it) to lead the struggle against capitalism/imperialism, but they seemed to have spent much of their energy attempting to be the leaders themselves, and going for each other’s throats in competitive attempts to become “The” Party.

I looked up the pamphlets online and in case you’re interested, many of them can actually be found in this vast archive of “anti-revisionist” struggle: https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/erol.htm

For someone unfamiliar with this history, these arguments between highly specialized groups can seem mind-boggling, with demarcations of line being pared down to what might seem an almost obsessive and insane narrowness. But keep in mind that it was a different time: social and political struggles were flaring up globally, including in the US, and as any movement matures, political differences translate into differences in approach and strategy that really do matter. So I’m not ridiculing the need for demarcations and polemics, which are always present whenever people try to do anything together (“Let’s watch Mistresses.” “Hell no, the acting has really gone downhill.”)

But it must be asked: where are they now? Did all that passionate quarreling make any difference at all, did it help advance working class power in the struggle against capitalism, or was it just a “tempest in a teapot”? Did it reflect an appropriate assessment of and response to the actual conditions that existed at the time?

Continue reading Confessions of a Petit Bourgeois Radical Striving to Assist the Working Class in the Fight Against Capitalism

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Class struggle is our starting point.

3

 

Since class divisions formed among humans thousands of years ago, class struggle has been the driving force of all major social change. While in any given society there may be a variety of different classes, the central struggle, the one that shapes all the others, is that between a class that produces the bulk of what the whole society needs, and a non-productive, parasitical class that controls production and steals the social product.

 

To defend their ruling position and assert their interests, a class must dominate the entire society: by claiming ownership and taking possession of the means of subsistence and production (land, waters, resources, factories, etc), holding political power to facilitate the running of their affairs and to repress dissent, and directing the flow of information and development of knowledge, persuading people through culture and education into understanding the arrangement as natural and desirable.

 

Owners and producers are the two fundamental classes of any class-divided society, because the struggle between them determines its mode of production, the parameters of how things are produced and distributed, as well as everything else that can go on in that society. Slave owners and slaves struggle for and against slavery. Landlords and serfs or peasants struggle for and against feudalism. Capitalists and workers struggle for and against capitalism.

Continue reading Class struggle is our starting point.

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Revolution: there is no formula

2Capitalism, even in deep crisis, will never cease struggling to adapt and grow. It will not collapse or dismantle itself, until it destroys the planet and everyone on it. So it falls on us to destroy it. In destroying capitalism, we construct something new. Revolution is the total transformation of the way everything is produced, the social relations of domination that go along with it, and the ways of thinking that keep us trapped.

We need to understand our roles in the revolutionary process so that we may direct our energies to contribute the most we possibly can. The more intentional we are, the more effective we can be as consciously active agents for emancipation and social transformation.

There is no formula or plan to tell us what to do. We learn what we can from the millions of revolutionaries who have existed everywhere in the world throughout history, but each place and time is different, so whatever worked for them can’t automatically be applied to our circumstances. While relayed experiences, theories and observations are extremely useful, the revolution can’t be simply handed to us by others; we have to figure it out for ourselves.

We learn by doing. We can only master something if we practice it. This is true for playing a musical instrument, making furniture, or organizing for revolution and building a new society. Knowledge doesn’t come from the sky or from inside our heads; it comes from the real world and our experience of it. We make decisions about what to do, based on our interpretations of reality.

Many people call themselves revolutionaries because they possess and express “correct” beliefs, or write up the perfect programme or position paper. But no amount of study of theory, no amount of discussion, no collection of brilliant insights can ever change things — unless they are based in reality and are in turn implemented in reality. Theories that don’t come from practice can’t connect to reality. And they’re useless until they are actually USED. Knowledge is not an end in itself, but a guide to action, a tool to affect the material world. It is in use that it becomes embodied, and real.

Since none of us can destroy capitalism alone; we need to act collectively. The reason we need theory is to construct a shared frame of reference with which to share knowledge and experiences, so we can overcome what divides us, and organize our disparate spontaneous acts of resistance into a unified and powerful social force.

Continue reading Revolution: there is no formula

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5 "Solutions" to America's Poison Water Crisis

I have a comic today in Forbes — not my usual kind of venue! 🙂
http://www.forbes.com/sites/cartoonoftheday/2016/02/25/cartoon-5-solutions-to-americas-poison-water-crisis-that-will-make-it-even-worse/#3fb1073a528a

Here’s the first part:
water5a

See the whole thing:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/cartoonoftheday/2016/02/25/cartoon-5-solutions-to-americas-poison-water-crisis-that-will-make-it-even-worse/#3fb1073a528a

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Review of "Capitalism and Climate Change: The Science and Politics of Global Warming"

“Capitalism and Climate Change: The Science and Politics of Global Warming” by David Klein (and which I edited and illustrated), was reviewed by Michael Gasser.

The review is in the Jan/Feb issue of “Against the Current”:
http://solidarity-us.org/site/node/4548

It also appears on System Change Not Climate Change:
http://systemchangenotclimatechange.org/article/climate-change-radical-primer

***
Climate Change: A Radical Primer
by Michael Gasser

Review of Capitalism & Climate Change: The Science and Politics of Global Warming

By David Klein, illustrated and edited by Stephanie McMillan
An ebook available for download at Gumroad, a site where people can sell their work directly to their audience: https://gumroad.com/l/climatechange#. You choose your own price.

GWcover2MOST BOOKS ON ecosocialism, while they may be of interest to those who already know something about socialism, especially those who already are socialists, are not particularly useful for those who want to be aware of both what climate change is and what capitalism is.

Naomi Klein’s best-selling book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism and the Climate, filled part of this gap, but as several reviewers have noted(1), by “capitalism” Naomi Klein seems to mean the variant of it that is usually called “neoliberalism,” the austerity and privatization enforced around the world by international financial institutions since the 1980s. As valuable as her book is, it is not, and does not pretend to be, a Marxist take on the crisis.

With Capitalism & Climate Change ecosocialist David Klein, with considerable help from revolutionary cartoonist Stephanie McMillan, gives us the best available primer, from a radical perspective, on what the ecological crisis is about and what is causing it. Far from challenging Naomi Klein’s similarly titled book, however, David Klein frequently relies on Naomi Klein, and in some ways, the two books complement each other.

Because they appeared within months of one another and because of their similar titles, it is natural to want to compare them. (For simplification, in what follows when I write simply “Klein,” I’ll mean David Klein).

Capitalism & Climate Change is divided into two sections, the first covering the nature of the climate crisis itself, the second capitalism’s role in creating the crisis, its inability to get us out of it, and what we can do about it.
What Science Tells Us

Klein starts Part 1,“What does climate science tell us?” with a look at the climate change denial movement, how it is funded, and how it challenges mainstream climate science. While some of this section will be familiar from Naomi Klein — who also begins with this topic — what will be new is the discussion of the lengths the deniers and their financial backers have gone to to intimidate mainstream climate scientists, up to and including anonymous threats against individual scientists.

In more ways than one, the climate change deniers, or more significantly their financial backers, mean business!
Continue reading Review of "Capitalism and Climate Change: The Science and Politics of Global Warming"

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Audio interview: Peace & Justice Report

Here’s a half-hour audio interview I did with Bob Connors of the Peace & Justice Report, for WSLR (Sarasota, FL), talking about “Affirmations for Revolutionary Militants,” what is capitalism, the role of art in a revolutionary movement, how to organize, why the working class needs to lead our way out of this nightmare, what got me started personally, and more!

http://peacejusticereport.podomatic.com/entry/2015-12-28T21_00_42-08_00

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4 raisons de s'énerver contre les ONG et la gauche caviar sans but lucratif

[Translated at Tlaxcala: http://www.tlaxcala-int.org/article.asp?reference=17028]


4 Reasons NGOs & Leftish Nonprofits Suck
By Stephanie McMillan
Translated by Nicolas Casaux
Edited by Fausto Giudice Фаусто Джудиче فاوستو جيوديشي

151013ngosFrench Il y a une vingtaine d’années, lors d’une conversation avec un organisateur bangladais, nous avons abordé le sujet des ONG*. Il a craché avec dégoût : « Je déteste les ONG». À l’époque, je n’ai pas vraiment compris pourquoi il était si véhément sur le sujet. Je savais que les ONG avaient des aspects négatifs, comme le fait qu’elles détournent une partie de l’énergie révolutionnaire des masses, mais je croyais encore à moitié leurs affirmations selon lesquelles leur travail était plus utile que nuisible. Ne fallait-il pas être une espèce de crétin dogmatique pour dénoncer les soins gratuit et les programmes de lutte contre la pauvreté ? Je ne comprenais pas encore à quel point elles sont en réalité une catastrophe.

Depuis cette conversation, les ONG ont proliféré comme des champignons dans le monde entier. D’abord déployées dans les formations sociales dominées par l’impérialisme, elles occupent aujourd’hui aussi la scène politique des pays qui sont la base du capitalisme. Elles sont devenues la nouvelle forme à la mode d’accumulation du capital, avec une portée mondiale et des milliards de revenus. Tout se prétendant « à but non-lucratif », elles servent de source de revenus importants pour ceux d’en haut, tout en gavant de larges couches de la petite bourgeoisie, leur permettant de s’étaler sur la classe ouvrière comme une couverture chauffante humide, mettant ainsi en sourdine ses revendications.

Après beaucoup d’observations et d’expériences directes et indirectes, je comprends aujourd’hui et partage la haine de cet organisateur d’autrefois envers les ONG. Quel est leur degré de nuisance ? Permettez-moi d’énumérer quelques réponses :

1-Les ONG sont une des nombreuses armes de domination impérialiste

Aux côtés des invasions militaires et des missionnaires, les ONG aident à ouvrir les pays comme on craque des noix, en préparant le terrain pour des vagues d’exploitation et d’extraction plus intenses, comme l’agrobusiness pour l’exportation, les ateliers de misère, les ressources minières et les sites touristiques.
Continue reading 4 raisons de s'énerver contre les ONG et la gauche caviar sans but lucratif

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Book review of "Capitalism Must Die" is in "top ten" for 2015!

Aaron Leonard’s review of “Capitalism Must Die!” made the top ten list of book reviews on rabble.ca!

See it here:

http://rabble.ca/books/reviews/2015/12/best-book-reviews-2015

Here’s what they said:

“Capitalism must die! Your economic guidebook to revolution,” by Aaron Leonard

coverSmallWhy it’s great: Spoiler alert: capitalism is terrible. How do we know? Because author Stephanie McMillian’s colourful cartoons definitely told us so! Her playful blend of colours and style is inviting and brings us in to the serious message that capitalism is definitely destroying the world.

Why you should read this: Aaron Leonard conducts a very illuminating interview with the author where she candidly discusses why we so urgently need to defeat capitalism. Couldn’t be a better time to read it.

Here’s the review itself:

https://stephaniemcmillan.org/2015/09/22/interview-capitalism-must-die-your-economic-guidebook-to-revolution/

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New item: "Revolutionary Proletarian Militant" patch!

rpmPatch

Patch – “Revolutionary Proletarian Militant”

Wear your politics on your sleeve with this embroidered patch featuring Bunnista. It can be either ironed or sewn on. Diameter: 3″.

$6 each; $25 for each multiple of five – FREE shipping in US.


Single or Bulk




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Website is FUBAR

Hi everyone,

I pressed the wrong button a few days ago, and totally messed up this website. The comics have vanished. You can still read blog posts…

Arrgh.

I’ll fix it as soon as I can. Sorry for any inconvenience! Please come back soon.

Best wishes,

Stephanie

[UPDATE 1/5/16: Finally fixed it!! Thanks to the instructions provided by Frumph at comiceasel.com!]

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3 recent audio interviews

Here are 3 recent interviews:

November 22: I talked with Derrick Jensen on Resistance Radio (prn.fm) about the “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants” —
http://prn.fm/resistance-radio-stephanie-mcmillan-11-22-15/

November 20: I talked with Richard Estes on “Speaking in Tongues” (kdvs 90.3 fm in Davis, CA) about why NGOs suck —
http://169.237.101.62/archives/2015-11-20_3775_320kbps.mp3

November 19: Sarah Cruz (One Struggle/Miami) and I talked with Devon Bowers of the Hampton Institute. Sarah talked about elections, and I talked about surplus value —
http://www.hamptoninstitution.org/podcastportal.html

 

 

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"Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Militants" calendars are here!

“Cute in a class war kinda way.”
–Bryan Ellis

[EDITED 11/10 to include INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING]

After a year of drawing, months of putting them together, and more months of waiting, the “Daily Affirmations for Revolutionary Militants” perpetual calendars finally arrived and are now available! Photos of their arrival are below. I’ve already started shipping out the first orders. My home has been converted temporarily into a warehouse/mail center.

I want to thank, again, the many readers and friends who helped make these possible first by asking me to make them, and then funding the initial production run through Kickstarter. I appreciate all your support and encouragement!

“For that revolutionary who has everything – or more likely wants almost nothing, this is the right present. Stephanie McMillan’s work is clever, accessible and right on. Arm chair liberals can pass on this one; if you are scared by the artist calling herself a “revolutionary” this is the wrong desk calendar for you. If you think radical, militant protest and action is necessary to keep this world from imploding at the hands of industrial capitalism, this calendar is for you.”

–Paxus Calta Star

3 pallets of calendars arrive by truck.
3 pallets of calendars arrive by truck.
They're unloaded...
They’re unloaded…
150 boxes of ten each!
150 boxes of ten each!
And they look great!
And they look great!

$20 each; $35 for two. + $6 shipping in US (for each one; that’s the actual cost). For international shipping, the price also reflects the actual cost.


Choose quantity & shipping location




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What is Surplus Value, and Why Should Anti-Capitalists Care?

151104SurplusValueSig

This first appeared in Skewed News.

Capitalism is an ever-expanding, extremely destructive mode of production that has come to dominate the world; pretty much all social production has been integrated into its framework.

The ways capitalism presents itself to most of us is through its many wretched effects: ecocide, oppression, imperialism, poverty and so on. Any or all of these may motivate us to oppose it. When we decide to organize against capitalism, we often tend to go after these effects. We protest and resist them. And they absolutely must be protested and resisted.

But I’m going to argue that if that’s all we do, we may be able to mitigate some of these miserable conditions that way, but we aren’t going to be able to get rid of capitalism, the system that causes and maintains them. We won’t even harm it. We not even touching it.

To destroy capitalism, we need to understand exactly what it is and what drives it.

Capitalism is a mode of production, that is, it is an ensemble of social relations that shape how the society as a whole reproduces itself, how we meet our needs, how we get from one day to the next. Every mode of production includes an economic foundation or base, which generates and is in turn supported by a political and ideological superstructure.

While we must attack capitalism politically and ideologically, these alone will not destroy it. Our strategy needs to go beyond addressing the superstructure and gets at the economic core of how capital reproduces itself. We need to destroy the production and accumulation of capital.

Continue reading What is Surplus Value, and Why Should Anti-Capitalists Care?

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Recent Events

At Burning Books in Buffalo, NY, October 29
At Burning Books in Buffalo, NY, October 29
With Theresa, Leslie, Eliza, Nate and Shontae at Burning Books in Buffalo, NY, October 29
With Theresa, Leslie, Eliza, Nate and Shontae at Burning Books in Buffalo, NY, October 29

 

At Gallery X, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Oct. 17. Photo by Wendy Figg.
At Gallery X, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Oct. 17. Photo by Wendy Figg.

 

Talking about organizing with Emily, Jeff, Tim and Earl in Columbus, OH on Sept. 6.
With Emily, Jeff, Tim and Earl in Columbus, OH on Sept. 6.

 

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Got the book!

BryanPerkins

Bryan Perkins on Facebook:

“Got a new book in the mail today. I’m gonna have to put down the Kafka shorts I’ve been reading to dig into this one. I can’t wait.”

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Beyond Feminism and Other Defensive Battles: To End All Oppression, We Must Destroy Capitalism!

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This first appeared in Skewed News.

What does ending the oppression of women look like? How will we know when we’ve achieved it? When we’re allowed to get free abortions whenever we want? When we no longer have to fear or experience rape? When we stop sex trafficking? When we all feel positive about our bodies and minds? When all girls in the world are educated? When we achieve equal pay?

We want all these things, of course. We need them. They’re essential. But are they enough? Don’t we need more than that? I’m going to suggest that if we focus our energy only on these specific issues, then we’re setting our sights too low.

If we fight around them directly, we may get some victories. But these victories will be temporary, partial, and incomplete. Because as long as we live under capitalism, we will never get the whole package. We will never be truly free.

If we achieve equal pay, we’re still wage slaves. If we’re taught to read, the material we have access to is still determined by others. All our relationships—every kind of relationship—are still distorted and deformed by market forces. We’re still caught in the nightmare, still under the domination of the capitalist class, those few bloated parasites living off the blood and sweat of the vast majority of humanity.

Continue reading Beyond Feminism and Other Defensive Battles: To End All Oppression, We Must Destroy Capitalism!

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Why NGOs and Leftish Nonprofits Suck (4 Reasons)

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This originally appeared in Skewed News.

About 20 years ago, in a conversation with a Bangladeshi organizer, the topic of NGOs* came up. He spat in disgust: “I hate NGOs.” At the time, I didn’t really get why he was so vehement about it. I knew NGOs had negative aspects, like siphoning off some revolutionary energy from the masses, but I also still half-believed their claims that their work was more helpful than not. Didn’t you have to be kind of a dogmatic asshole to denounce free health care and anti-poverty programs? But I didn’t yet fully appreciate how terrible they really are.

Since that conversation, NGOs have proliferated like mushrooms all over the world. First deployed in social formations dominated by imperialism, they’ve now taken over the political scene in capital’s base countries as well. They’ve become the hot new form of capital accumulation, with global reach and billions in revenue. So while ostensibly “non-profit,” they serve as a pretty sweet income stream for those at the top, while fattening up large layers of the petite bourgeoisie and draping them like a warm wet blanket over the working class, muffling their demands.

After much observation and experience both direct and indirect, I now understand and share that long-ago organizer’s hatred of NGOs. Just how terrible are they? Let us count the ways:

 

1) NGOs are one of many weapons of imperialist domination.

Along with military invasions and missionaries, NGOs help crack countries open like ripe nuts, paving the way for intensifying waves of exploitation and extraction such as agribusiness for export, sweatshops, resource mines, and tourist playgrounds.

Continue reading Why NGOs and Leftish Nonprofits Suck (4 Reasons)

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A Communist Theory of Love

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This first appeared in Skewed News.

1) How we love one another is determined by our ideology, our view of how the world works. This is historically determined and based in our material conditions. If we are to emancipate love from its current generally strangled and damaged state, it will be in the process of the transformation of society overall.

2) In any class-divided society, each class has its own ideology, and thus its own theory of love, with its corresponding practice. Under capitalism, there is capitalist love and working class love, corresponding to the two fundamentally antagonistic classes that exist in that mode of production.

3) When working class love is practiced by communists (militants striving toward proletarian-led revolution with the ultimate aim of breaking down all class divisions), it can be considered communist love. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that we can’t know what love will look like or what forms it will take under communism, until we get there.

Continue reading A Communist Theory of Love

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A Little Story About You, the Capitalist (Capitalism Can’t Be “Less Greedy” – The Greed is Baked In)

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[This first appeared in Skewed News]

[Note: This is written after several people have recently asked me to explain why I always say that capitalism can’t be fixed. One specified: say it in a way that isn’t boring or difficult to understand, and even a little bit funny.]

More people lately are identifying capitalism as the underlying cause of our current global troubles and crises. That’s certainly positive: the first step toward cure is a proper diagnosis. But most of the approaches being offered to treat the problem are placebos, an endless supply of ineffective remedies to “fix” or reform it, to make it “less greedy.”

Getting the greed out of capitalism is impossible, and we’ll just waste precious time by trying. All capitalism’s problems are baked in, integral to the way it works. Capital must expand, buy up or destroy competitors, reach into every corner of society to try to squeeze money out of it. It naturally accumulates, concentrating wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. That’s not a mistake. That’s what it does. There’s no other way it works. The problem isn’t extreme capitalism, corporate capitalism, or greedy capitalism. It’s just capitalism.

Let’s try a thought experiment to make this more concrete. Let’s take you through the process of becoming a capitalist. But because you’re a nice person and not a greedy motherfucker like other capitalists, you’re going to be different.

Continue reading A Little Story About You, the Capitalist (Capitalism Can’t Be “Less Greedy” – The Greed is Baked In)

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Dear Capitalist, Leave Me the Hell Alone on My Day Off

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This first appeared in Skewed News.

It’s apparently not enough that you consume all our hours and energy, squeezing us so hard that we turn into miserable wrecks just so you can stuff your face with gourmet food and pay your golf club membership. It’s not enough that we that we work so hard at your crappy jobs that we become dry exhausted husks at the end of a working day, barely alive enough to pop a microwave burrito and zone out to “Mr. Robot” before bed.

After being exploited all day by your greedy ass, did we think we could have at least a few hours or a couple days to call our own, to recover and get our own shit done? Did we plan to catch up on all the errands and housework we’re too tired to do during the workweek? Or even try to squeeze in something fun, relaxing, and social, perhaps take our kids to the movies? Ha ha, joke’s on us—you want that too. You want it all.

Continue reading Dear Capitalist, Leave Me the Hell Alone on My Day Off

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Buck Up, Revolutionary Soldier

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This originally appeared in Skewed News.

Last week an alcoholic stood up in a sweltering meeting hall and promised his fellow workers that he’d stop drinking, so he could participate more effectively in the class struggle. He asked them to hold him to account, and they agreed to do so.

The pain of living under capitalism is bad. The eviction notice, the shocking price of food, the backstabbing among so-called friends, the humiliation at work, the pavement-melting heat, sadistic badge-wearers, torn screaming bodies, and so much blood.

For those who take on the battle against it, it can get worse. Revolutionaries always know they’re on borrowed time. Every moment not dead or in prison is to be used wisely, for these may be limited.

Meanwhile there is trouble, heartache, loneliness. We get fired. Our spouses leave us. Our kids go without. Our mothers fret.

We know that numbing our pain is self-destructive, but sometimes the choice feels like self-medication or breakdown. Still, even as we lift the bottle or pop the pill, we can’t help being aware that these temporary escapes help the capitalists disorganize and dominate us. We’re never more thoroughly pacified than when we’re out of our right minds, perceiving reality in a distorted fashion and unable to marshal a coherent response to it.

When we can, we face our fears and sorrows with clarity. Moments of resolve contend with moments of weakness, over and over and over in a constant internal struggle.

Mutual support allows us to make progress, and collective political practice offers transcendence. Like the Coup lyric goes, “power is the most effective anti-drug.”

That’s how it gets better.

A few days ago after discussing the recent decades of setbacks, the degeneration of the left and the absence of an autonomous workers movement, someone asked me: “What keeps you going?” The answer is simple: It’s the hand of a comrade from the distant past, still reaching toward a classless future. It’s the millions of us who are everywhere, getting ready. It’s Fred Hampton saying he’s not going to die by slipping on a piece of ice. It’s the stubborn refusal to submit. It’s that one worker in that meeting hall, suffering dependency, making the decision to emancipate himself in order to better serve the interests of his class as a whole.

Tensions are tightening between what is and what needs to be. Many of us sense it: a period of intense battles is at hand. We need to gather our strength, set aside distractions, wean ourselves from addictions, make ourselves fit to face the coming firestorm.

The worker who cast off his liquid crutch last week doesn’t know me, but perhaps he will read this: Comrade, your example strengthens us all. May we help keep you strong in turn. Our hands are joined in common cause.

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Interview: Capitalism must die! Your economic guidebook to revolution

Originally published at rabble.ca: http://rabble.ca/books/reviews/2015/09/capitalism-must-die-your-economic-guidebook-to-revolution

Capitalism is so, so terrible. Here are the tools you need to crush it.

September 10, 2015

Capitalism must die! Your economic guidebook to revolution

Capitalism Must Die! A basic introduction to capitalism: what it is, why it sucks, and how to crush it 2nd edition

by Stephanie McMillan
(INIP, 2015; $27.00)

What is capitalism, how does it work, and why, oh why, is it so terrible? All of these questions, and more, are answered by author Stephanie McMillan in her recent book, Capitalism Must Die! A basic introduction to capitalism: what it is, why it sucks, and how to crush it. McMillan uses her 30 years of experience in organizing against capitalism and her clever cartoons to debunk and deconstruct this destructive practice and create a useful tool readers can put into practice.Aaron Leonard recently corresponded with McMillan about her book, capitalism, cartoons and other matters. This interview has been edited.

***

Some of your images are so playful, yet your message is so serious — how did you arrive at a place of undertaking radical politics through comics?

I loved drawing, and reading comics, ever since I was a kid.

By age 10 I had learned to draw Snoopy by tracing Peanuts, and decided I wanted to be a cartoonist someday. I was in high school during the Reagan years, as the U.S./USSR inter-imperialist struggle was heating up [in the form of the Cold War] to what seemed a very dangerous pitch. I wrote my first article for the school paper, with an accompanying illustration, about the dangers of and need to oppose nuclear weapons.

Then I went to college in New York, studying animation while organizing with the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (RCP) [the youth group of the U.S. Revolutionary Communist Party]. I quickly realized that it was more important to focus on revolutionary change rather than pursue a career for myself, but my father, dying of cancer, asked me to finish school and graduate. After fulfilling my parents’ wishes, I spent the next period of my life organizing, while supporting myself with a succession of temp/clerical, factory and retail jobs.

In the late 1990s, for various reasons, I left the RCP. I still wanted to contribute to the cause of revolution, but now had no organizational framework in which to do that. I thought about how an individual could reach people with ideas and make a social impact. I decided that comics could be an effective vehicle because they are appealing, fast and easy to produce, and can carry a message to a wide audience.

My cartoons evolved through several stages, including traditionally formatted editorial cartoons, gag cartoons, and a sequential narrative comic strip. Recently I was challenged by a comrade to develop a “proletarian conception of cartoons,” and that’s led to a new series of comics that go beyond a critique of capitalism to also assert a working-class alternative. They’re often paired with theoretical and political texts.

 

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Introducing the Workers Struggle Newsletter!

I’m excited to announce the Workers Struggle newsletter, a tool to help organize an autonomous working class movement! If you’re interested in distributing it, organizing with it, helping translate, writing and sharing skills, please PM me or email the contact closest to you on page 2. Here’s the 8-page pdf: http://www.workersstruggle.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/WSnewsletter0915c.pdf
And accompanying websites: http://www.workersstruggle.org/
http://www.workersstrugglesudbury.com/

 

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Robots, Step Aside: The Gravediggers of Capitalism are Still Flesh and Blood Workers

This first appeared on Skewed News.

When they’re not terrifyingly militarized Terminator-style, robots are marketed as amazing and cool, even cute and cuddly. The prevailing myth was that they’d perform tasks and chores we don’t enjoy while we’d sit by the pool sipping margaritas. But what no one told us was that our lives of leisure would be spent without any money to pay the rent, and a pronounced absence of fancy frozen drinks.

First they came for the factory workers. Then they came for grocery cashiers. Now airline pilots and even sports writers are looking nervously over their shoulders, spotting LCD screens looming in the rearview mirror, flashing pixelated hearts from their creepy fake eyes as they come to steal our jobs.

RT America discussed a new report by Forrester Research called “The Future of Jobs, 2025: Working Side-By-Side with Robots” (which I didn’t read, since the thing costs $499, damn!) that says 16% of US jobs could be automated by 2025. The RT article includes videos of robots making and serving food, and assisting retail customers.

A 2013 Oxford University report by was even more dire, predicting that 47% of US jobs may be lost to automation within ten or twenty years. Advances are being made to automate even work generally resistant to automation, like garment manufacturing.

Many leftists (who nowadays are usually not workers themselves) are citing automation and other global shifts in production to construct theories of the disappearance of the working class and the denial of workers’ historical role as capitalism’s destroyers. There has been a widespread shift of the locus of struggle away from the working class to cross-class social issues, and a dangerous populist insistence on “the people vs. the rich” or “the 99% vs. the 1%” to displace the fundamental contradiction specific to capitalism: labor vs. capital.

The working class may indeed be on the ropes—dispersed, atomized, ideologically led astray, difficult to organize. But spite of all projections, predictions, and exaggerated reports of our death, WE ARE STILL HERE.

Continue reading Robots, Step Aside: The Gravediggers of Capitalism are Still Flesh and Blood Workers

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U.S. Workers: Don’t Be Anti-Immigrant Chumps for Capitalists

This first appeared on Skewed News.

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“There should be a law…to keep all them I-talians from comin’ in and takin’ the bread out of the mouths of honest people.”
– Irish woman in the US, 1892.

“we just don’t like you illegal bitches coming to our home trying to fuck it up like you did Mexico.”
– Facebook comment by a scaffold builder in Texas, 2015.

Same shit, different day.

A construction worker in the Midwest remarked to me that white workers at his jobsite often express hatred for Mexican workers. When he hears it, he pipes up: “They need to make a living just like you,” but hesitates to take it further for fear of isolation and losing his job.

Nationally, political candidates are whipping up a social base for fascism, unifying potential voters on the basis of xenophobia.

The anti-immigrant sentiment is grounded in the fear of unemployment. We’re told that jobs are scarce and that we have to compete for them, viciously if necessary. We’re set against one another in every way we can be divided: white against Black, American-born vs. immigrant, unionized vs. non-unionized, men against women, younger vs. older.

This is not by accident. Capitalists always want one thing above all else: to pay lower wages. When an Iowa fertilizer plant fired 1,480 local workers and turned around to advertise those same jobs in Texas, one commenter noted the reason: “you can all be replaced … for half the price.”

For capitalists, it’s a pain in the ass (and expensive) to force workers to accept lower pay through overt violence. They figured out a long time ago that it’s easier if they can get us to undercut each other and blame other workers (instead of them) for our misery. So while exploiting everyone, they’ll allow one group to receive some minor extra privilege or benefit that’s denied to another, in a method of “divide and rule” that’s as old as oppression itself.
Continue reading U.S. Workers: Don’t Be Anti-Immigrant Chumps for Capitalists

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The Capitalist Pincer Strategy: Smothering the Working Class Between Two Butt-Cheeks in the Same Rotten Pair of Pants

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First appeared in Skewed News.

The stagnation of the global economy is structural. Everything capitalists do to try to overcome it just makes it worse. From Greece to Puerto Rico to China to the US to many other places, its weakness is spreading.

Easing credit has failed to spur growth, as has the lowering of interest rates to almost 0%. An executive I chatted with randomly while traveling invoked the well-worn but evocative metaphor of “pushing on a string” to describe these futile efforts. Investors aren’t motivated to pull their end of the string. The generally low return on investment is keeping many capitalists waiting on the sidelines, hoping the game improves.

The capitalists have been trying to save their collective asses with some massive structural changes, imposed over the last few decades. Elements include increased austerity, deregulation, free trade agreements, slave labor, underemployment, debt, and imperialist conquest. All this brings massive pain to the vast majority. Capitalists know we can only take so much of their assaults, and that odds are increasing for broad and sustained social upheaval.

Thus far workers have not coalesced into an autonomous movement, but capitalists know there’s a chance the working class will wake up like a lion roaring for blood. They’d rather prevent this, because if workers organize, they will be the one social force that could take down capitalism altogether.
Continue reading The Capitalist Pincer Strategy: Smothering the Working Class Between Two Butt-Cheeks in the Same Rotten Pair of Pants

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Violent Extremists in the US Kill 150 People Every Day! For Capitalists, Workers’ Lives Don’t Matter

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First appeared in Skewed News.

Every year, domestic terrorists of various reactionary ideological stripes kill an average of about five people. Cops kill many more than that: at the rate they’re going, 1,100 people will die at their hands this year alone.

But there is another group of despicable and ruthless killers in the United States that no one ever talks about: capitalists. 4,585 people every year are killed on the job, and an additional 50,000 people are killed slightly more slowly from occupational diseases. That’s 150 people EVERY DAMN DAY.

In addition, capitalists subjected nearly 3.8 million workers to injuries and illnesses. Those are just the reported cases; unreported ones could be as high as 11.4 million per year.

Largely because of fracking, North Dakota is currently the deadliest place to work. Its death rate, 14.9 per 100,000 workers, has more than doubled since 2007. Wyoming (9.5) and West Virginia (8.6) took second and third place. Texas has highest total number of workers killed on the job: 493 in 2013. The deadliest occupations there are construction and land transport.

Some might think I’m going too far by blaming capitalists and accusing them of killing workers on purpose. After all, business owners and investors aren’t marching onto jobsites and gunning people down; these are considered accidents.

But is it an accident that on freight trains, some carrying highly flammable crude oil, crews are being cut from two people to one? Is it an accident when construction sites have unprotected sides and edges or when guardrails are left off scaffolding platforms? Is it an accident when we breathe in toxic chemicals that we don’t even know we’re being exposed to? Is it an accident when farm workers are transported without seat belts?
Continue reading Violent Extremists in the US Kill 150 People Every Day! For Capitalists, Workers’ Lives Don’t Matter

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Unions Seek Lower Pay for Workers—WTF?

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First appeared at Skewed News.

The entire purpose of a union is to assert and defend the interests of its members. The reason that workers organized themselves into unions in the first place was because we can assert more social power collectively than individually. Historically, unionized workers have fought heroically and righteously for the 8-hour (as opposed to the 16-hour) day, for overtime pay, for safety measures, for better working conditions, and most importantly for higher wages. This is what unions are for, what they’re all about.

So how are we to interpret the current spectacle of unions demanding the right to bargain for lower wages for their members? Is today “opposite day”? Has the world gone mad?

Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, proposed an exemption to the new $15 minimum wage for union members. He wants LA businesses to be able to pay union members less than other workers.

This may seem insane, but he has his (self-serving) reasons. It’s not the first time unions have done this.
Continue reading Unions Seek Lower Pay for Workers—WTF?

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The U.S. Presidential Election 2016: a Clusterfuck of Candidates

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First appeared in Skewed News.

A Bunch of Clowns Stuffed into a Volkswagen

What’s behind the mind-boggling mess of candidates running for President this electoral round, ranging from the ultra-reactionary Trump all the way across the spectrum to the pseudo-left populist Bernie? We’ve never seen such a mad chaotic rush to power, with so many squabbling bullshitters in one place ever.

Each one claims to have a unique approach and program with which they wish to lead America into a better tomorrow. But their better tomorrow is not ours. For us, they’re all just trouble.

Politics is a Reflection of Economics

Politics is a mirror that reflects the goings-on in the economy. When we see clusterfuckery in the political field, we can usually point to clusterfuckery in the economic field as the cause. Financialization has pushed the economy deep into a pit of debt mixed with toxic bubbles of false wealth inflated through speculative gambling. Not just individual enterprises, but capitalism as a whole is experiencing rapidly intensifying crisis. Each candidate is attempting to offer a special brand of snake oil as a cure, but each formula has side effects negating any medicinal properties it might have. Everything they do to try to mitigate the crisis only ends up making it worse.
Continue reading The U.S. Presidential Election 2016: a Clusterfuck of Candidates