Pedagogy of the Oppressed Against Trump
Communist Education in the Emerging Mass Movement
Derek R. Ford
Education is a central component of revolutionary activity, especially during non-revolutionary times, and especially for cadre in a Leninist Party. In fact, Lenin's seminal work on organization and leadership, What is to be Done? touches on many educational issues, including consciousness and theory. As a polemic against economism - which held that the working class develops its own revolutionary consciousness spontaneously as a result of daily struggles with the bosses - Lenin argued that spontaneity was only consciousness "in an embryonic form," and that something more was needed. Spontaneity is necessary but is ultimately limited to "what is 'at the present time'". In other words, spontaneity by itself isn't able to look beyond isolated daily struggles and forward to a new society. Lenin called the spontaneously generated mindset "trade union consciousness." This analysis is what led Lenin to state that "without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary practice". By this he meant that, without a theory capable of connecting individual struggles and issues to the totality of the social and economic system, struggles would be limited to reforms within the existing system. Revolutionary theory is developed not by intellectuals holed up in university classrooms, but through the communist party, which is composed of workers who become "socialist theoreticians" (p. 82f1). In the party, he wrote, "all distinctions as between workers and intellectuals… must be obliterated" (p. 137). Lenin believed that workers were capable of more than trade union consciousness. He actually derided those who insisted on appealing to the "average worker:"
Notes on the Peaceful Transition of Power
The Continuity of Violence in America's Imperial Democracy
Bryant William Sculos
In the weeks leading up to and the hours after Donald J. Trump's inauguration as President of the United States, we've seen the media (and by media I mean the major network television and print media like CNN and Washington Post, just to name a couple) repeat and glorify the so-called "peaceful transition of power" that Inauguration Day represents. President Barack Obama has been applauded for working with and speaking so respectfully about Donald Trump's transition team. Former US Secretary of State and former Democratic Party 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also been complimented for her near-complete silence during this period since the election. The supposed peaceful transition of power is often treated as the pinnacle achievement and representation of the greatness of the American political process, and the 2016-2017 instantiation has been no different. While there were certainly no troops marching into Washington, DC to remove Barack Obama from office to install Donald Trump as President, nor did Trump need to resort to assassination to ascend to the American throne; there is a difference between a nonviolent transition of power and a near-complete acquiescence to the revived and remodeled cast of American neo-fascism represented by the newly empowered Trump administration. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and their progressive left Democratic ilk have been bright spots, as have been the thousands more organizing around the country and world to protest and resist the far-Right agenda of Trump and his alt-Right allies (though this agenda is certainly not outside the GOP platform in most respects). There is an awakening resistance, a resistance..
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
Bracing for Trump's Anti-Worker Corporate Agenda
In a February speech on his campaign trail, then-candidate Donald Trump lambasted his opponents for their cozy relationships with Wall Street bankers. "I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over [Cruz]," Trump said. "Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton." Trump's campaigns for both the Republican candidacy and the US Presidency were heavily themed on this inside-out approach to posing as a whistleblower of the elite, a billionaire businessman gone rogue, eager to feed other members of his exclusive club to the lions. Americans by the tens of millions-ravaged by decades of predatory loan schemes, joblessness, and unfathomable debt-gathered in the den, fevered by this angst-ridden anti-establishment message, thirsting for the flesh he was to heave from the castle on the hill. Nine months later, Trump was elected to the office of President of the United States. Taking a page from George W. Bush, Trump successfully packaged his billionaire, elitist self into an average dude sitting on the bar stool across from us. Taking a page from Ronald Reagan, Trump successfully molded the chronic economic woes of the American working class into avenues for racial and xenophobic hatred. Trump's infamous wall is the modern-day version of Reagan's mythological "welfare queen"-both masterful mind tricks designed to avert the attention of the understandably ravenous working-class lions away from the ringmasters and toward others in the den. The oldest trick in the book: divide and conquer. The end result: a billionaire businessman buoyed to the highest office of the land by 63 million working-class voters during a time of unprecedented poverty and wealth inequality. Predictably, Trump's ascension to the presidency has ended his inside-out shtick. Much like Barack Obama in 2008, Trump's anti-establishment..
Remembering Martin Luther King in the Age of Trump
This year's celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assumes special significance, poignancy, and urgency as we remember King during the same week that Donald Trump assumes the U.S. Presidency. My university, like many other institutions across the United States, paid homage to Dr. King. Yet leaving the commemoration, replete with speeches that praised King's dream, I wondered whether the paradox of celebrating the life of a Black anti-capitalist, anti-war radical juxtaposed with Trump's empty "Make America Great Again" sloganeering was lost on many of those in attendance. Trump's victory, which stunned so many White liberals, resulted from a historically proven winning strategy that tapped White fear through racist appeals for "law and order" and virulent anti-immigrant sentiment tied to economic stagnation. In the aftermath of Trump's victory, many in the White liberal academic, media, and political establishment, who apparently viewed Hillary Clinton as entitled to the U.S. Presidency, fumbled to explain Clinton's defeat. Columbia University Humanities Professor Mark Lilla, for example, in a New York Times Op-Ed, characterizes the electoral outcome as "repugnant," yet he condemns liberal identity politics and the "obsession with diversity" for producing Trump's victory. Lilla offers his own "make America great again" prescription for a "healthy" national politics based not on affirming and appreciating difference, but on "commonality" and returning to the liberal politics of the New Deal, racial exclusivity and all. Lilla's appeal to contextualize education about the "major forces shaping the world" in their "historical dimension" sits uncomfortably beside a stunning lack of historical perspective, particularly in the presentation of Whiteness as a neutral norm and the glorification of the American project as the assimilation of difference.