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DeRay Mckesson's Misguided Case for Hope

Devyn Springer and Zellie Imani

Black resistance has occurred at every stage in American history. Liberty, the right to act according to one's own will, was denied to Black people, and the conditions Black people suffered from the state during the periods of slavery and its afterlife have developed radical tendencies within our community. As C.L.R. James said, "What Negro, particularly below the Mason-Dixon line, believes that the bourgeois state is a state above all classes, serving the needs of all the people? They may not formulate their belief in Marxist terms, but their experience drives them to reject this shibboleth [principle] of bourgeois democracy." Ultimately, the Black Experience is one which constitutes an ongoing struggle by Black people to both ideologically and physically challenge and free themselves from exploitation and domination. The goal of many social struggles is freedom, but, for McKesson, the "goal of protest" is simply "progress." In his collection of essays, McKesson limits the radical capacity of protest by merely defining it as an activity that "creates space that would otherwise not exist, and forces conversations and topics into the public sphere that have been long ignored." But protest, or more accurately direct action, is more than that. Direct action can refer to various forms of activities that people themselves decide upon and through which they organize themselves against injustice and oppression. They are processes of self-empowerment and self-liberation. Through direct actions individuals collectively seek to end, or at the very least, reduce harm inflicted by oppression and exploitation. For example, what W.E.B Du Bois described as a "general strike against slavery" was not an attempt to create space for further national debate on the humanity of enslaved Africans, but an extraordinary attempt by enslaved Africans..

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The Social Economy of Rojava

A Primer on the Co-op Model

Thomas Sullivan

To best examine how the co-operatives of Rojava may thrive, we would need to look at past examples as a basis for future predictions. One of the most cited examples of a successful cooperative is the Spanish Mondragon Co-operative Corporation. The organization, which dates to 1956, was founded from several co-operative organizations that joined together in 1991 to form the international corporation it is today. The co-ops showed remarkable staying power, with most of the 100 original co-ops surviving to form the united corporation. Employing upwards of 3% of the Basque region's workforce over multiple industries, the co-operatives showed that alternative corporate models could be successful when they were previously untested on a large scale (Harding 1998, 61). However, the Mondragon example also points to a critical failing of co-ops. Mondragon has shed many of its original ideals to remain competitive with other international businesses as the globalized, capitalist economy has developed. This includes creating non-co-op subsidiaries abroad and decreasing the number of co-operative employees to 29.5% as of 2007 (Bretos 2017, 155). This example of the most well-known and well-studied co-operative falling back into a more capitalistic model would suggest that the co-op model is not sustainable in the long term. Mondragon's change did not occur in a vacuum of some static economy. The co-operative began to require modification after the fall of the fascist Franco government, the liberalization of Spain's economy, and the opening of European free trade by way of the European Common Market and later the European Union (Harding 1998, 62). We can see from this mix of pro-capitalist institutional changes that external stress on co-operatives would result in failures or the need for structural changes.

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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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