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In Defense of Tenants

An Interview with Omaha Tenants United

Devon Bowers

We met our first tenant through Feed the People, an organization devoted to food distribution some of us were members of at the time. Since he had moved in to his apartment six months earlier, he did not have hot water despite repeated maintenance requests, with the landlord saying it would cost thousands of dollars and weeks of work. We met with the tenant, and after we went over portions of the state tenant statute and discussed the tenant's options, he made the decision to take a more direct approach to resolving his dispute with the support of our organization. We drafted a demand letter citing the various parts of the statute that the landlord was infringing upon, and demanding that steps be taken to resolve the issues or face escalation. The tenant then signed the letter, and we went together to his landlord's office to deliver it. The landlord wasn't home, but after hearing about the large group who delivered the letter, he contacted the tenant, angrily demanding to know what was going on. The tenant sent him a picture of the letter and explained our involvement. Less than 24 hours later, a maintenance crew repaired what turned out to be only a broken gasket, and the tenant had hot water. We built our approach on this experience. We try to establish contacts among the working-class people in our neighborhoods, and learn from them about the situation of tenants in the city, particularly tenants of slumlords. Through this process we identify situations we can help resolve through forming demands of landlords, and stepping in to back the tenant up in a confrontation or meeting. It's important to our mission that we serve to empower the tenant themselves rather than be seen as performing a charitable service. Our first tenant, mentioned above, was shocked when we proposed delivering the demand letter as a group with him. He had assumed that we would deliver the letter ourselves, and was delighted to take for himself the action of delivering his demands..

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Colin Kaepernick, the Black Panthers, and Fred Hampton

Simon Wood

Whatever Kaepernick's and his followers' good intentions, they must be aware that any movement that gains popularity and has potentially revolutionary appeal will be either subverted and rendered harmless by the state apparatus, or - if or when that fails - mercilessly crushed. That second stage has not been reached here, and it will not, as all the signs are there of a major media operation to re-direct and dilute the mass of outrage away from the true target, namely class oppression and the system that enables it - capitalism. By giving support and condemnation, the media subverts the anger of the people and crafts the debate on its terms. Black versus white, the people versus Trump, freedom of speech - whatever. What it absolutely must not ever mention or encourage understanding of is the reality that this injustice stems directly from oppression by the ruling classes. Just keep the people arguing among themselves. Divide and rule. This is a class issue, and to understand that requires class awareness, the very concept identity politics was deployed to destroy. The one single thing that petrifies the looting warmongers in control of the world's 'democratic' institutions is a mass awakening of class awareness, from which follows the ability to discern between truth and fraud, fact and misdirection, reality and illusion - in other words, the only means to tackle the disease. If you listen carefully, as the right bang on and on about respecting the flag and the left argue among themselves, demanding some kind of vague 'justice' for the victims of police violence, on a quiet night you can hear the ruling classes laughing over champagne in their ivory towers. You may also hear the sound of Fred Hampton rolling fitfully in his grave. Fred Hampton was the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP), and deputy chairman of the national BPP..

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A Travesty of Scholarship

A Review of Samuel Farber's 'The Politics of Che Guevara'

Renzo Llorent

Farber's book contains many claims that are demonstrably false, coupled with a great deal of careless scholarship and numerous dubious interpretations. The cause of these problems is twofold. First, and most importantly, Farber chose to neglect a large amount of what Che actually said and wrote. Secondly, Farber's disdain for the Cuban Revolution, which prevents him from achieving a modicum of fairness, colors his book from beginning to end. Thus, instead of an accurate exposition of Che's political thought, Farber has produced a work that thoroughly distorts or misrepresents many of Che's ideas, and some of his actions (including, as we shall see, Che's role in the possible execution of innocent people). I have already drawn attention to some of the most glaring inaccuracies in Farber's account of Che's thought in a brief book review published last year, but the space limitations of that review prevented me from discussing more than a small number of the countless problems with The Politics of Che Guevara. The present essay offers a more comprehensive examination of the inaccuracies, errors, distortions and falsehoods in Samuel Farber's study of Che Guevara. The errors in Farber's study of Che begin on practically the first page: in the "Selected Chronology" preceding the "Introduction," Farber has Che "graduating as a doctor" the month before he took his final exam, and also lists the wrong date in stating when Che was granted Cuban citizenship (he is off by a month). Such inaccuracies are..

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The Unions and Class Struggle

A Marxist Analysis

The Socialist Party of Britain

What should be the attitude of socialists toward trade unions? Unions are the workers most effective means of defense under capitalism. In the absence of unions, the workers have no way of braking the downward pressure on their living standards and their working conditions. Only by means of their combined numbers in labor unions are the workers able to put up same form of resistance against the insatiable drive of capital for more surplus value. Only through unions can the workers ease the strain and stress on their nerves and muscles in the factories, mills, and mines. Since surplus value is produced at the paint of production, the most violent manifestations of the class struggle break out at that point. The history of the labor movement proves the Marxian contention that wages are not regulated by any "iron law" but can be modified by organized militant action on the part of the workers, the value of the workers labor-power is not only determined by physicall limitations of the human body, but also by what Marx calls historical and social factors. One of the most weighty of these factors is the class war. A comparison of the living standards of organized to those unorganized workers tells the story in a nutshell. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics issues statistics showing a breakdown of figures proving that wages are lowest in those occupations in which the workers are not organized or are at best only partly organized. American workers have long organized in unions..

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