March 2011, Week 3


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Thu, 17 Mar 2011 22:25:23 -0400
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Tidbits - March 17, 2011

* Beyond the Crisis of Liberalism (Martin Morand)
* Recent video and song, as well as 360 degree photos from
  Madison, Wisconsin, USA (Kim Scipes)
* Re: Slaves to the Game? Adrian Peterson & the "S" Word
  (Peter J. Nickitas)
* Re: Rewriting the Social Contract & Making Everybody Hurt
  (Cyril Robinson)
* Re: Remembering Robert Fitch (Peter Marcuse)
* Re: In the Wake of Japan's Earthquake, A Hidden Nuclear 
  Catastrophe (John Case)
* Re: New View of How Humans Moved Away From Apes (Roz Boyd)


* Beyond the Crisis of Liberalism

Stanley Aronowitz is correct.

"liberal reform - that is reform within the capitalist
system - has reached a dead end....we're stuck in the
position of defending what little we still have."  Playing
defense is a loser's game.

"the problem is that we don't have a political force that is
pushing for fundamental change." How to organize such a
force may be THE question.

"to solve unemployment, we would need to cut hours" THAT is
ONE of the ways to move.  A century and a quarter ago May
Day was celebrated as a demand for shorter hours, then
defined as eight hours to work, eight to rest and eight to
be humans and citizens of a democracy.. Three quarters of a
century ago workers in the NYC garment industry had a seven
hour day - with the highest factory wages in the world, a
union health center and a vacation resort,  Shorter hours --
the best, perhaps the only, way to reduce unemployment!

A century ago, March 25 1911, 146 garment workers died in a
fire at the Triangle Shirtaist Company. They had been trying
to organize a union,  That tragedy was the beginning of
health and safety regs - on which we still lag behind the
"developed" world.

" ....it was outside the law that things were achieved. In
the 1930s ...The law was made after the fact." The CIO was
created before the Wagner Act was found Constitutional!

"Wisconsin has created some momentum, which is rippling
outwards: a spirit of rebellion, particularly among young
people... There's a lot of unrest and that's where the hope
is, in young people taking direct action."  I hope you are
right, Stan? Have your students at CUNY noted, as did the
French students, that delaying the retirement age is a way
to keep young workers unemployed? I wait to see how many
show up at the Left Forum, at the Triangle Fire Memorials,
on May Day. They ARE our future, if we have one.

"No one had any vision; no one was articulating for people
what might be a new configuration of `the good life'."
Someone tried.  Your late wife, Ellen Willis, said as much
on this subject as anyone I have read:

In her review  of Russel Jacoby's . "Picture Imperfect:
Utopian Thought  for an Anti-Utopian Age" (DISSENT, January
1, 2006) she noted: "...a critique of totalitarianism became
a critique of communism and was generalized to all utopian
thinking - that is, to any political aspiration that went
beyond piecemeal reform...practical reforms depend on
utopian dreaming."

"...the American backlash against utopianism was well
underway by the mid-seventies."  I would argue it started
much earlier. The Cold War, The expulsion of left unions.
Our "loss" of China of Vietnam, of white skin privilege, of
male dominance --  all contributed.  As Ellen Willis said,
"We scared ourselves."

Five years ago she had concluded, "...perhaps what we need
to do is start asking ourselves and our fellow citizens what
we want. The answers might surprise us."

But 15 years ago, in the New Yorker of September 30, 1996,
she may have provided us with a clearer clue to WHY. "...the
collapse of Communism has relieved the captains of industry
of the need to convince workers that they have a stake in
preserving the system." (Down with Compassion",New Yorker,
September 30, 1996.) Competition ain' a bad idea.

Martin Morand


* Recent video and song, as well as 360 degree photos from
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Powerful, powerful video with song from Madison:


Some amazing photos from Madison:  watch in high definition
if you can (give it some time to load--well worth the


Don't know who gets credit for these, but some amazing work:
thank you!  Please pass on widely!

In solidarity,

Kim Scipes

PS:  And particularly for those of you who are members of
labor unions, I just joined Union Book, an international
social networking site for trade unionists.  You might want
to check it out at www.unionbook.org


* Re: Slaves to the Game? Adrian Peterson & the "S" Word

Perhaps Mr. Zirin could interview Justice Alan Page of the
MN Supreme Court on the topic?

I saw a similar cartoon in the Minneapolis StarTribune
conveying the same sentiments about NBA basketball players,
and the owners' desire to keep basketball players

Mr. Peterson, you are telling your truth and I hear you.

Peter J. Nickitas


* Re: Rewriting the Social Contract & Making Everybody Hurt

I agree with the statement disputing the column of David
Brooks but would like to add the following:The "Social
Contract" is a term that has been much bandied about. Its
origin (from Wikipedia) is :

Of The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right (Du
contract social ou Principes du droit politique) (1762) by
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, ... the book in which Rousseau
theorized about the best way in which to set up a political
community in the face of the problems of commercial
society.., (1754). .[1]

The Sovereign, having no force other than the legislative
power, acts only by means of the laws; and the laws being
solely the authentic acts of the general will, the Sovereign
cannot act save when the people is assembled.[2] ,,,[3]

The legislative power belongs to the people, and can belong
to it alone.[4]

The Social Contract was a progressive work that helped
inspire political reforms or revolutions in Europe,
especially in France. The Social Contract argued against the
idea that monarchs were divinely empowered to legislate; as
Rousseau asserts, only the people, in the form of the
sovereign, have that all powerful right.

The heart of the idea of the social contract may be stated
simply: Each of us places his person and authority under the
supreme direction of the general will, and the group
receives each individual as an indivisible part of the

The idea of spreading the hurt around was foreign to the
idea of the Social contract. Rousseau wanted to secure the
greatest good for the greatest number. That was why
governments existed. Individuals would look out only for
themselves. Governments were to represent the whole body
politic. In today's world, it is the unions that take on
this role where as in Wisconsin the government fails to do

Cyril Robinson,
professor emeritus.
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale,IL,


* Re: Remembering Robert Fitch

Doug Henwood's tribute to Bob Fitch is wonderful, truly
deserved. Fitch was as radical and perceptive and astute an
observer of New York City as there has been. Fitch's The
Assassination of New York, published by Verso in 1993, is
still today a great read, in the tradition of the b est of
Village Voice type muck-racking and solid political economy
analysis. It makes books like Caro's The Power Broker, well
done as it is, look superficial. It should still be required
reading for anyone serious about how New York City really

Peter Marcuse


* Re: In the Wake of Japan's Earthquake, A Hidden Nuclear Catastrophe

	"Nature's terrifying power, however we may dread it,
	is only as great as the human-caused vulnerability
	of our civilization."

This seems like an exceedingly arrogant statement to me if
it is implying human capability to become invulnerable to
'nature's terrifying power'.  All foreseeable technologies
are vulnerable to nature. Plus there seems to be a tautology
as well: since civilization is human, what meaning is
conveyed by  asserting its vulnerabilities are "human

Not there should not be aggressive efforts to improve risks.
But these efforts will always have economic and/or
technological limits. Even with the tragic disaster in
Japan, the net safety of nuclear power plant operations (not
including risks of waste storage) is considerably less risky
than long term reliance on coal and oil -- the only
alternatives currently scalable to meet the energy needs of
the world.

John Case


* Re: New View of How Humans Moved Away From Apes

Please give us a more detailed explanation of this very
important revised view.

Thank you,

Roz Boyd



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