Sunday April 20th, 2014, 4:19 am (EDT)

Social Movements

Social Movements

Letter to Leonard Peltier

In 1975, Leonard Peltier was convicted of the murder of two government agents after a violent confrontation on the Oglala reservation that pitted the American Indian Movement (AIM) and local Sioux against law enforcement officers. Two other AIM members were acquitted in a separate trial, but Peltier received two consecutive life sentences. The trial is the subject of the documentary film Incident at Oglala (1975). February 6, 2000, marks Peltier’s twenty-fourth year in prison. Information about his case can be found at www.lpsg-co.org, or by contacting the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, PO Box 583, Lawrence, KS 66044, USA. The following letter was first published on the Internet by the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico (NCDM), based in Austin, TX

Powerful Compassion

The Strike at Syracuse

It is worth the trip to Syracuse University just to see Ben Shahn’s sixty-by-twelve-foot outdoor mural, “The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti.” Unveiled in 1967, the mosaic tile mural tells the story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, executed in 1927 for a crime which they probably did not commit. Witnesses placed them miles from the crime scene when the murder of a paymaster occurred at a shoe factory in Braintree, Massachusetts … | more |

Mandela’s Democracy

In his speech from the dock, at his 1962 trial for inciting African workers
to strike and leaving the country without a passport, Nelson Mandela described
the initial formation of his political ideas: … | more |

Globalization on Trial

Crisis and Class Struggle in East Asia

What a difference a year makes. As recently as last summer, economic pundits and global investors were singing the praises of the “Asian tigers.” The World Bank basked in the glow of its 1993 report, The Asian Miracle. Throughout ruling circles, the “Asian model” was touted as proof that open markets and the free flow of capital would be the salvation of humankind … | more |

Labor, the State, and Class Struggle

After a long period of sustained attack by governments of various stripes, a steady deterioration of working and living standards, and declines in membership and militancy, there are encouraging signs that organized labor is moving again. This may come as a surprise to many, not least on the left, who have long since written off the labor movement as an oppositional force; and it may begin to challenge some of the most widespread assumptions about the nature and direction of contemporary capitalism, assumptions often shared by activists and intellectuals on the left as well as the right.…Although it is, of course, too early to make big claims about this trend, it does seem to be a good moment to take a close look not only at these new signs of activism but also at the nature of labor today and at the environment in which the labor movement now has to navigate.… | more |

How to Spread the Word

In the late l930′s I sat in on a course of education for trade unionists. That these workers had a desire to learn was evident by their enrollment in a class held in the evenings, after they had done a day’s work. That the teacher knew his subject was manifest from the brilliance of his lecture. That the combination of students’ desire and teacher’s grasp of the material did not result in learning was obvious from the fact that before the hour was over, several members of the class were asleep; it was apparent, too, from the decline in enrollment—the next class was attended by only half the students, and the third time the class met, less than a quarter who had signed up were in attendance.… | more |

The Commitment of the Intellectual

What is an intellectual? The most obvious answer would seem to be: a person working with his intellect, relying for his livelihood (or if he need not worry about such things, for the gratification of his interests) on his brain rather than on his brawn. Yet simple and straightforward as it is, this definition would be generally considered to be quite inadequate. Fitting everyone who is not engaged in physical labor, it clearly does not jibe with the common understanding of the term “intellectual.”… in the public consciousness there exists a different notion encompassing a certain category of people who constitute a narrower stratum than those “working with their brains.” This is not merely a terminological quibble. The existence of these two different concepts rather reflects an actual social condition, the understanding of which can take us a long way towards a better appreciation of the place and the function of the intellectual in society.… | more |