Origins of Racism

I’ve Been Striking on the Railroad

By Karyn Pomerantz, 11-20-2022

UPDATE: US workers just rejected the contract offer. 11-21-2022

There’s an old song, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” that goes like this:

I’ve been working on the railroad

All the live-long day.

I’ve been working on the railroad

Just to pass the time away.

Can’t you hear the whistle blowing, rise up so early in the morn…

Written in 1894, this famous song depicts the back-breaking work of railroad workers. Built in the 19th Century, largely by black and Chinese workers, the railway system played an integral part in building capitalism in the United States, carrying oil, steel, and other critical products to western markets. The “robber baron” industrialists, such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, made a killing in these industries by cheating and violently attacking workers to create massive wealth.

Today, railroad workers are on the rise. This article will describe potential, current, and previous railway strikes. Because these militant multiracial actions disrupt business, they can improve the lives of workers much more substantially than any electoral strategies. Mass struggles teach us how to work together, identify our enemies and allies, and how to make changes.

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Climactic

by Ellen Isaacs

November 20, 2022

There is nothing new to say

Except that it is astounding, it is horrifying, it is revelatory that

Those who began it, who knew what they were doing, who now know

That the warming world, their enterprise, will kill itself and us too.

And still they barely act.

We will not say anything new

Except that we will omit the part

About how it might be averted, might reverse itself

Might not destroy our home —

Unless we destroy the destroyers.

Let’s not forget that scientists noted that something was amiss as early as the mid-1800s. In 1824, Joseph Fourier calculated that an earth-sized planet, at our distance from the sun, ought to be much colder, and in 1856 Eunice Foote discovered that carbon dioxide and water vapor were trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere. By 1886, Svante Arrhenius predicted that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could increase surface temperature; by 1956 climate change was predicted.1

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THE FIRST BLACK PANTHER MOVIE: A Review

by a retired teacher, 11-14-2022

Yes, movies are entertaining and fun, but they also convey important viewpoints about life.

Undoubtedly, we won’t all agree about the ideas in a movie. I’m sharing this review to offer some thoughts that you may wish to consider while thinking about the implied themes in the brand new Wakanda Forever film. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Here’s the original review:

For sure – as compared to many thousands of movies with no Black characters; or with just a few Black characters, all depicted as subservient; or with many Black characters but none given depth, complexity and leadership on the world scene – Black Panther is a breath of fresh air.

And it’s truly pleasing to hear about that day on the set, with hundreds of Black actors on the mountainside in a joyous mood between takes, celebrating the fact that so many actors of color have been employed in a major film, in a story about the most technologically advanced civilization on the planet. And it’s great to see women in leading roles: powerful, insightful, and on the cutting edge of scientific breakthroughs.

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Covid Protections- Not War!

Presentation at the People’s Public Health Conference, November 4, 2022

Karyn Pomerantz, 11-8-2022

An audio file with slides is listed at

Introduction:

This talk will define imperialism and apply it to Russia and the US, identify the material and political causes of the war, depict the health and economic costs of this war, and recommend urgent strategies to end it.

Imperialism

Imperialism operates when industrialized countries must find new markets to sell an overproduction of goods and to buy cheap labor to reduce their expenses on the backs of workers losing jobs at home and workers exploited abroad. It is a strategy to carve up the world and control other countries for their  resources, cheap labor, and markets.

Examples include the British Empire occupying India, the Belgians devastating citizens of the Congo, and the US invading Iraq to seize its oil. When imperialists vie for control, inter-imperialist rivalries result, often in wars. That is the scenario today between the US and EU vs Russia and its allies.

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The West Must Stop Blocking Negotiations Between Ukraine and Russia

Secretaries of State and Defense Blinken and Austin visit Kyiv in April, 2022

by Vijay Prashad

October 27, 2022

Editors’ Note: This article presents evidence that the US scuttled efforts to negotiate an end to the war in order to see Russia weakened. As many thousands of Russians and Ukrainians die, as the possibility of wider or nuclear war grows, and as billions are spent that are needed for human needs, this information strengthen the basis for an anti-war movement. Please note that the links do not work on this site, but can be followed by going to article on Counterpunch at https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/10/27/the-west-must-stop-blocking-negotiations-between-ukraine-and-russia/

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. This war has been horrendous, though it does not compare with the terrible destruction wrought by the U.S. bombardment of Iraq (“shock and awe”) in 2003. In the Gomel region of Belarus that borders Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian diplomats met on February 28 to begin negotiations toward a ceasefire. These talks fell apart. Then, in early March, the two sides met again in Belarus to hold a second and third round of talks. On March 10, the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia met in Antalya, Türkiye, and finally, at the end of March, senior officials from Ukraine and Russia met in Istanbul, Türkiye, thanks to the initiative of Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On March 29, Türkiye’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, “We are pleased to see that the rapprochement between the parties has increased at every stage. Consensus and common understanding were reached on some issues.” By April, an agreement regarding a tentative interim deal was reached between Russia and Ukraine, according to an article in Foreign Affairs.

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Never Throw Away the Key: The Compassionate Radicalism of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. A Book Review

by Joseph G. Ramsey, 10-17-2022

The editors welcome this article from Joe Ramsey who analyzes Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. He argues that we must extend our compassion and beliefs that people can change to those whose situations lead to harmful actions. He states that: “the hierarchical sorting of people into the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ invariably draws upon and contributes to the toxic legacies of nationalism, race, class, as well as gender, homophobia, ableism, and more. But, as Stevenson makes clear, it is not simply abhorrent as an expression of such injustice. It is fundamentally dehumanizing and alienating for all involved, and corrosive to the potential for positive social change in general.” Ramsey’s review contributes to the discussion of abolition, restorative justice, and mitigation. Is it possible to treat people with compassion under capitalism? Do we want to forgive perpetrators of crimes against the working class, whether police or fascist rulers? Can we abolish or mitigate racism under capitalism? Read on. The Editors.

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Our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing.  Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.”

                -Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy

                    “I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.”*

                                       -Terence, African Roman playwright & former slave

                                               (*favorite ‘maxim’ of Karl Marx)

Far too many people in the United States are officially condemned to have their futures cut short.[1]  The most extreme of these cases are found on Death Row, where thousands now sit, sentenced to be executed by the state—some likely for crimes they did not even commit.[2]  To these we must add another 55,000 people who languish permanently in US prisons, sentenced to “life” without even the possibility of parole.[3]  They too are condemned to die, behind bars, if not today, then eventually—no matter what they do or say, no matter how unfair the events that landed them in prison in the first place.[4]

What does it mean for a society to condemn so many, so finally? 

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US Liberal Politicians Embrace Ukrainian Fascists

Democrat Adam Schiff greets Azov members

by the Editors, October 14, 2022

There is no doubt that current day Nazis, racists and fascists with a direct link to the Nazis of World War II, are prominent among Ukrainian fighting forces. Paramount among them is the Azov Brigade, an official part of the Ukrainian military and the primary force in the battle for Mariupol, whose flag features an SS emblem. The Azov founder, Andriy Biletsky, has said that the mission of Ukraine is to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade… against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans]” (https://jewishunpacked.com/the-azov-movement-lets-talk-about-ukraines-nazi-problem/). They also proclaim their intent to cleanse Europe of immigrants and homosexuals.

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We Need a New Society, Not More Psychiatric Diagnoses

by Ellen Isaacs

September 30, 2022

A video recording of this article is available at https://youtu.be/vPoEoCXDcw8

Are you sad because a bout of Covid-19 disrupted your life with illness, bills, or even the death of a friend or family member? Are you anxious because your benefits have ceased and you can’t find a new job? Are you worried because the brain fog after Covid has persisted so long? Are you angry because you are being evicted or are short of food? Maybe you are one of the statistics being counted in the supposed wave of the mentally ill. After having Covid, people were 55% more likely to be on antidepressants and 65% more likely to be on anti-anxiety drugs than uninfected contemporaries (NYT 2/16/22).

We will argue that the new stressor of Covid is only another one added to those that capitalism already provides: poverty, racism, poor social services, sexism, police violence. High quality housing, education, health care, recreation and a healthy environment are difficult to attain and maintain even for middle and modestly high-income workers. In addition, we now live in a world in which we are witnessing the imminence of climate disaster, the rising risk of nuclear war, the increased frequency of pandemics, and the worsening of inflation causing desperation among millions. We urgently need to prepare to change this system. Let us begin by examining the ways in which the powerful in our society try explain away its deficiencies by blaming them on deficiencies within us, within our bodies and minds.

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Inflation: Capitalism’s Crises, Class Conflict, and Global Disasters

by Rodney Green

September 27, 2022

Inflation is the latest way the capitalist system’s crises are deepening the oppression of workers around the world. Capitalism is driven by competition and profit accumulation and generates global economic and political instability. While inflation is depriving U.S. workers of some of life’s necessities, the U.S.’s export of inflation to other countries is even more devastating. Such an absurd and abusive system cries out for a more sensible alternative.

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