42: Tacos 4 Teachers; Indigenous People’s March; Anand Gopal on troop withdrawals

In this episode, Eric talks to Anand Gopal about what’s behind the Trump administration’s plans — which have since been partially walked back — to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Anand explains how Trump’s “America First” priorities in the Middle East and Central Asia are in reality part of a longer process of extricating the U.S. from the disaster of its post-9/11 adventures under George W. Bush and Barack Obama — and have just as little regard for the people of the region.

Anand is an award-winning author and journalist who has traveled to Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times as an un-embedded journalist. His book No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes won the Ridenhour Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.

His journalism includes “Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom”, an account in the <i>New Yorker</i> about the town of Saraqib in Idlib province and “The Uncounted”, an investigative report in the <i>New York Times</i> about the underreported civilian casualties of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria (http://bit.ly/Uncounted).

For our opener, we first talked to Víctor Fernández and Héctor Rivera about how one of the key elements of the successful Los Angeles teachers’ strike was the support from the city’s Latinx community. Víctor and Héctor talked about how the school district and its billionaire backers tried to pit the community against educators as part of their privatizing agendas, and how socialist-initiated solidarity efforts like “Tacos for Teachers” (which Victor helped to organize) played a role in countering those efforts.

Then we spoke with Nick Estes of The Red Nation about the infamous viral video of MAGA-hat wearing high-school boys harassing Indigenous activist Nathan Phillips. Actually, Nick mostly talked to us about all the things obscured by that video — most notably the historic nature of the Indigenous People’s March that brought Phillips and thousands of others to Washington DC that day — and the issues like Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls that the march was meant to highlight.

Links for our interview with Anand Gopal

• Anand’s book No Good Men Among the Living (http://bit.ly/NoGoodMen)

• Anand’s New Yorker article “Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom” (http://bit.ly/SyriaLastFreedom)

• Anand’s New York Times piece “The Uncounted” (http://bit.ly/Uncounted).

Links for our interview with Víctor and Héctor

Socialist Worker’s account of the Tacos for Teachers initiative (http://bit.ly/TacosRoses)

• Strike leader Gillian Russom’s take on the significance of the UTLA victory (http://bit.ly/UTLAvictory)

• Héctor’s Socialist Worker article from October about a community forum in East LA to support the union (http://bit.ly/EastLAforUTLA)

Links for our interview with Nick Estes

• Nick’s article for the Intercept, “Portraying the MAGA Teens as Victims Is an Extension of Native American Erasure” (http://bit.ly/NativeErasure)

• The Urban Indian Health Institute report, “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls” (http://bit.ly/MurderedMissing)

• Brian Ward’s Socialist Worker article, “The Ugly Facts about the MAGA hat kids” (http://bit.ly/UglyMAGAhat)


The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes”(Dead Sea Captains Remix)

Rage Against The Machine, “Killing In The Name”

Nataanii Means, “God Bless Amerikkka”

Shkoon, “Build Your Castles”

MC Abod, “Forget Your Difficulties”

41: LA Teachers’ Strike; Helen Scott on Rosa Luxemburg’s Legacy

In this episode, we talk to Helen Scott about the life and legacy of Rosa Luxemburg on the 100th anniversary of Luxemburg’s murder. We discuss her most essential works, The Mass Strike and Reform or Revolution, and talk about the historical context of Luxemburg’s political ideas as well as their relevance for today’s new socialist left. In our opening segment, we talk to LA teacher and strike leader Gillian Russom. This episode was recorded prior to the enormous victory won by the teachers, but it remains invaluable in its description of what a win would be, how they organized themselves and the community, and what the fight will look like after the strike ends.

Helen Scott is the editor of The Essential Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or Revolution and the Mass Strike (Haymarket Books, 2008) and co-editor, with Paul LeBlanc, of an anthology of Luxemburg’s writings, Socialism or Barbarism (Pluto Press, 2010). She is Associate Professor of English at the University of Vermont and a member of United Academics: AFT/AAUP. She has published articles on Rosa Luxemburg in International Socialist Review, Socialist Studies, and New Formations and is on the editorial board of the Verso Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, for which she will be co-editing Volume 5 with Paul Le Blanc.

Gillian Russom has been a rank-and-file teacher activist in UTLA for 18 years. She is part of the Union Power caucus and has been a leader in the fight to transform her union into a social-justice union capable of waging a fight against the forces of public education reform.

Links for LA teachers’ strike

*Gillian Russom at Socialist Worker on the strike victory (https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/23/we-won-a-historic-victory-for-la-schools)

*Diana Macasa and Alex Schmaus on the inspiration behind Tacos for Teachers (https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/18/give-us-tacos-and-roses)

*Danny Katch gives 10 reasons to support the LA teachers (https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/14/ten-reasons-to-support-the-la-teachers)

*Melissa Rakestraw and Elizabeth Lalasz reporting from the picket lines on “Five days that stunned LA’s billionaires” (https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/22/five-days-that-stunned-las-billionaires)

*Video of a strike solidarity meeting featuring Gillian Russom and teachers from Chicago and Oakland (http://bit.ly/LASolidarity)

Links for interview with Helen Scott about Rosa Luxemburg

*Helen Scott’s edition of The Essential Rosa Luxemburg (https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/835-the-essential-rosa-luxemburg)

*Paul LeBlanc on Rosa Luxemburg’s revolutionary socialism (http://socialistworker.org/2019/01/15/rosa-luxemburgs-revolutionary-socialism)

*Paul LeBlanc on Rosa Luxemburg and the pathway to socialism (http://socialistworker.org/2014/06/05/luxemburg-and-the-path-to-socialism)

*Danny Katch explores modern takes on the historic debates around reform, revolution and the road to power (http://socialistworker.org/2014/06/05/luxemburg-and-the-path-to-socialism)

Music and audio clips in this episode

Excerpt of a speech by Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, addressing a massive rally of LA teachers five days into the strike

Aryana Fields (5th grade student in LA public school), "This is a Strike Song”

ScHoolboy Q, “X” (with 2 Chainz and Saudi) from the Black Panther soundtrack

Pedro Pastor, “La Rosa de Luxemburgo” with Eva Sierra

The Laggan, “Rosa Luxembourg”

Purge, “Rosa Luxemburg”

40: LA Teachers; Women’s March; Holly Lewis on The Politics of Everybody

In this episode, we talk to Holly Lewis about her book the The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory and Marxism at the Intersection (http://bit.ly/LewisEverybody). We talk about what Holly means when she argues that “the politics of the fragment should be replaced by an inclusive politics of everybody.”

In our interview, we explore some of the debates and discussions around homonormativity, how to build a trans-inclusive feminism, and queer theory. We revisit social reproduction theory and talk about its implications for gender politics and trans liberation. Holly gives a clear overview about the different theoretical approaches to gender politics in Marxism, queer theory and feminist theory and explores the connections between them.

Before that, we talk to LA teacher and strike leader Gillian Russom about the LA teachers’ strike. And in our intro, we talk about the controversy surrounding this year’s Women’s March.

Most of our discussions barely scratched the surface, so we’ve got lots and lots of links for this episode.

Holly Lewis and The Politics of Everybody

— Buy Holly’s book: The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory and Marxism at the Intersection (http://bit.ly/LewisEverybody)

— We talk a lot about social reproduction theory. For an accessible introduction, you can check out this article by Tithi Bhattacharya in Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/TithiSW). If you would like to go deeper, Lise Vogel’s book, Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Towards a Unitary Theory, developed this theory and has been re-published by Haymarket Books (http://bit.ly/VogelHaymarket). Tithi Bhattacharya has also edited a collection of essays exploring this topic: Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression (http://bit.ly/TithiBook).

— Heather Brown’s Marx on Gender and the Family delves more deeply into Marx’s approach to gender and is available from Haymarket Books (http://bit.ly/BrownHaymarket)

— Jules Gleeson has written an article on Transition and Abolition: Notes on Marxism and Trans Politics for Viewpoint Magazine (http://bit.ly/GleesonViewpoint).

The LA Teachers’ Strike

Socialist Worker is providing ongoing coverage throughout the strike (http://bit.ly/SWLAStrike)

— Gillian Russom recently spoke at a solidarity panel in NYC along with an Acero Charter School striker from Chicago and a wildcat striker from Oakland (http://bit.ly/LASolidarity)

The Women’s March

—Elizabeth Schulte wrote an article for Socialist Worker about the prospects for a new women’s movement as we approach the third annual women’s marches (http://bit.ly/SchulteSW)

— Rosalind Petchesky has written a defense of Linda Sarsour and the Women’s March organizers against smears of anti-semitism (http://bit.ly/PetcheskyBOR)


The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)

LUTHI, “Every Body"

Roy Ayers Ubiquity, “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”

R.E.M., “Everybody Hurts”

Dean Martin, “Everybody Loves Somebody”

Chance the Rapper, “Everybody’s Something” (feat. Saba and BJ The Chicago Kid)

Tears For Fears, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”

39: Yellow Vests; The Red Nation’s Melanie Yazzie & Nick Estes

Great show this week! We talk with Melanie Yazzie and Nick Estes of The Red Nation, an important new revolutionary organization fighting for Indigenous liberation.

Melanie is a Diné scholar and activist who is the 2018-2019 Chair of the Central Governing Council for The Red Nation. She’s also a co-author with Nick of a forthcoming book about border town violence and Indigenous resistance and next year will join the faculty at the University of New Mexico as an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies and American Studies. Nick is Kul Wicasa from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, a co-founder of The Red Nation, an Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico, and the author of two forthcoming books: Our History is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistanceand Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement.

To do this interview, we invited our fellow ISO members Ragina Johnson and Brian Ward, who have worked with The Red Nation over the past few years, to take over the pod, and we think you’ll agree it was a great decision. Melanie, Nick, Ragina and Brian got into a deep discussion about a range of topics, including the creation and development of The Red Nation, how Indigenous and colonized people can and should use the tools of Marxism, the concept of settler colonialism and how it continues today, the necessity of solidarity between Indigenous people and other working-class people and the need for Indigenous land claims to be at the center of those fights. 

In our opener, Jen, Danny and Eric talk about the “gilets jaunes”(yellow vest) movement in France, which began as rowdy protests against a proposed fuel tax and have evolved to encompass a broad cry of anger at the growing inequality of French society. We also talk about how the protests have confused and divided some in the environmental movement and why we urgently need climate change demands that start from a working-class perspective.   

Links for our interview

·     The Red Nation (TRN) website (http://bit.ly/TheRedNation)

·     Read TRN’s recent newsletter including a report on their “No Thanks, No Giving” teach-in (http://bit.ly/RedNation3)

·     Nick’s forthcoming book Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (http://bit.ly/OurHistoryFuture)

Links for intro

·     On the dynamic nature and changing consciousness of the Yellow Vest protests, check out French novelist Édouard Louis’ moving piece in Jacobin, “Can the Yellow Vests Speak?” (http://bit.ly/YellowVestsSpeak) and longtime French socialist Léon Crémieux’s more recent analysis in Socialist Worker of the shifting dynamics (http://bit.ly/CremieuxSW)

·     For more on the need for working-class environmental policies as opposed to fuel taxes, check out Jonathan Neale’s “Why Carbon Taxes Burn Workers” (http://bit.ly/CarbonTaxes) and Zachary Alexis’s piece about the importance of the growing support for a Green New Deal (http://bit.ly/GreenNewDealSW) 

Music and audio

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes”(Dead Sea Captains Remix)

A Tribe Called Red, “We Are The Halluci Nation”Ft. John Trudell & Northern Voice 

Leanne (Betasamosake) Simpson, “Under Your Always Light”

Speech by Radmilla Cody at the Red Nation's Indigenous Peoples Day March and Rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2015 

Ryan Dennison, “HT”

Son Of Hwéeldi (Huelda), “Me & The 99”

38: Socialists in Congress; David Renton on Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League

This week we talk to British socialist David Renton about the history of Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League. RaR and the ANL were a cultural and protest movement against the rise of the National Front in Britain in the 1970’s. Renton contends that these movements played a decisive role in preventing the rise of fascism in Britain, while similar movements took root in France.

David Renton is a British historian and activist, a member of the socialist group RS21 and author of the book, Never Again: Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League 1976-1982 (http://bit.ly/RentonANL). We talk to him about the importance of the contestation for culture, particularly around punk music, and the role that RaR played in that. He describes some of the key turning points of anti-fascist mobilization and the creation of the ANL. We discuss what lessons we can draw for the movement against a resurgent right today.

In our opener, we talk about socialists Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as they prepare to take office. We discuss the ways in which they are challenging politics as usual, raising expectations and opening up possibilities, while also exploring the constraints imposed by the Democratic Party and how socialists can take advantage of this moment.

Links for our interview

*You can buy David’s book here (http://bit.ly/RentonANL)

*David also blogs at his website lives;running where he frequently discusses politics and especially the new movements against the right in Britain (http://bit.ly/LivesRunning)

*In this piece re-published at Socialist Worker, David makes the case for a militant movement that directly confronts the fascists and examines different trajectories within the movement in Britain

*Today’s episode is being released on December 10 as part of a contribution to the call for a day of action against fascism and racism (http://bit.ly/Dec10Action)

Links for our intro

*You can listen to our assessment of AOC’s election victory in episode 17 of this podcast (http://bit.ly/BOREp17)

*You can read analysis of the November elections at Socialist Worker by Todd Chretien (http://bit.ly/ChretienElections), Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (http://bit.ly/KeeangaElections), Alan Maass (http://bit.ly/MaassElections) and the editorial staff (http://bit.ly/EditorialElections)

*In episode 34 (http://bit.ly/LanceSelfa), we interviewed Lance Selfa about the midterm elections. Lance is the author of The Democrats: A Critical History, which is available from Haymarket Books (http://bit.ly/LanceHaymarket).

Music for this episode

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)

Gang Of Four, “Why Theory?”

Sham 69, “If The Kids Are United”

The Specials, “Ghost Town”

Steel Pulse, “Jah Pickney (R.A.R.)”

The Selecter, “On My Radio”

Elvis Costello, “Less Than Zero”

37: The migrant and refugee caravan needs our solidarity now

We have an especially powerful episode this week about the increasingly desperate situation facing the migrant and refugee caravan that is now spread all the way from Mexico City to Tijuana.

First, we’re joined by three activists who have been building solidarity on both sides of the border. FERMIN VALLE is a queer Mexican-American activist and a member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in Western Massachusetts who recently traveled to Mexico City and met with members of the caravan staying in a local church. JO MORALES is an anti-border activist and writer who has worked for the last three years in solidarity with refugees and Syrian revolutionaries in Greece and the Mediterranean. She is now in Tijuana, where she is documenting the Migrant Exodus. CLAIRE DOUGLAS is a teacher and member of the ISO in San Diego, where she helped organize a solidarity protest at the border as part of the Migrant and Refugee Solidarity Coalition. Fermin, Jo and Claire join us for an intense conversation about the horrible choices that caravanistas are facing as they experience deteriorating physical and political conditions — and their urgent hope for an increase in the support that U.S. activists are starting to build.

Then historian and activist Justin Akers Chacón joins us to talk about the Socialist Worker article he recently wrote in response to Angela Nagle’s “The left case against open borders.” Justin is a San Diego-based professor of U.S. History and Chicano Studies. In addition to Radicals in the Barrio, he’s the author of No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border. In the context of going through what’s wrong (and there’s a lot) with Nagle’s pseudo-left approach, Justin makes the case for why supporting migrants and refugees isn’t just the morally right thing to do, but is also in the interest of working-class people in the U.S. and across the world.

Links for this episode

• Fermin’s Socialist Worker report from Mexico City: “What migrants in the caravan want the world to hear” (http://bit.ly/Vallemigrants)

• Alex Wells report on the San Diego border protest (http://bit.ly/bringingsolidarity)

• Justin’s response to Angela Nagle: “The case against ‘the case against open borders’” (http://bit.ly/caseagainstnagle)

• Also check out Justin’s new books Radicals in the Barrio: Magonistas, Socialists, Wobblies, and Communists in the Mexican-American Working Class (http://bit.ly/RadicalsBarrio) and No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border (http://bit.ly/NoOneIllegal)

Here are some of the organizations and groups organizing support and solidarity for the migrant and refugee caravan:

• Pueblo Sin Fronteras (http://bit.ly/PuebloSF)

• Al Otro Lado (http://bit.ly/aOLado)

• Border Angels (http://bit.ly/BorderAngels)

• International Socialist Organization (http://bit.ly/IntlSocOrg)

• San Diego Migrant and Refugee Solidarity Coalition (http://bit.ly/SDsolidarity)

• Sanctuary Caravan (http://bit.ly/SancCaravan) and labor solidarity call (http://bit.ly/SanctuaryLabor)


The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)

Residente, “La Cátedra”

Shakira, “Me Enamoré”

Chicano Batman, “This Land Is Your Land”

Sam Cooke, “(What A) Wonderful World”

Ozomatli, “Don’t Mess With The Dragon”

36: Sean Larson on history’s lost revolution; the return of anti-Semitism

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the German Revolution. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, most people haven’t, even though the revolution—or rather its failure—is arguably one of the most significant events of the 20th century, with consequences ranging from the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany to the triumph of Stalinism over the Russian Revolution.

But there’s more to learn about the German Revolution beyond the fact of its ultimate failure. It’s also the closest socialism has gotten to winning in an advanced industrialized capitalist country, and it’s full of rich lessons even a century later. This week we have a conversation with Sean Larson, a PhD student in German Studies at NYU who is currently working on a dissertation on the German revolution. Sean recently wrote an excellent article in Jacobin about the first year of the revolution, and if all this information is new to you, read his article (see the link below) after you listen to the interview.  

For our opener, Eric joined Jen and Danny to talk about the return of anti-Semitism as a force in mainstream American politics. We discuss how the return of this racist ideology is rooted in the rise of far-right white supremacist groups as well as the urgent need to rebuild a fight against anti-Semitism.

Links about the German Revolution

  • Sean’s excellent piece in Jacobin about the first year of the German revolution (http://bit.ly/RedGermany).

  • Alex Fair-Schulz also has this excellent piece in Socialist Worker on the same subject (http://bit.ly/GermanyRev).

For longer works on the history of the German Revolution, Haymarket Books has published/republished a number of invaluable books, including:

  • Chris Harman’s The Lost Revolution (http://bit.ly/HarmanGermany)

  • Eyewitness to the German Revolution (http://bit.ly/SergeGermany) by the Russian-born revolutionary Victor Serge who himself was a participant in the German revolution

  • Ralf Hoffrogge’s study of the revolutionary shop stewards movement (http://bit.ly/HoffroggeGermany)

  • and Pierre Broué’s masterpiece The German Revolution 1917-1923 (http://bit.ly/BroueGermany)

Links for our opener

  • Our producer, Eric Ruder, has written an extensive article for Socialist Worker in which he examines the rise and fall and rise of anti-Semitism in the United States (http://bit.ly/RuderAntiSemitism)

  • This statement by the International Socialist Organization (ISO) calls for a broad-based, urgent, united response to the far right (http://bit.ly/FightRightISO)

  • Haymarket Books has published a collection of essays by Jewish Voice for Peace about the uses and abuses of anti-semitism (http://bit.ly/HaymarketJVP)

Music in this episode

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)

FKJ Live at La Fée Electricité in Paris

Sevdaliza, “Shahraman”

L’indécis, “Soulful"

Anohni, "Manta Ray"

35: Sumaya A. on the fight for socialism; Thanksgiving thoughts

We’re taking a partial break this week for the holiday, but that doesn’t mean we’re leaving you hanging. Sumaya A., who joined us in Episode 8 to discuss anti-imperialism and Palestine, gave a brilliant speech at the closing plenary of last week’s Marxism conference in New York City. So we’re sharing it with you to help recharge your batteries over the holiday weekend. 

And for our opener, Eric joined Jen and Danny to talk about the swirl of personal and political questions that Thanksgiving poses for radicals. We discuss the ugly history behind the holiday’s myth, what we think about Black Friday, and our approaches to the inevitable political arguments around the Thanksgiving dinner table.  

Link for the New York City Marxism conference (http://bit.ly/NYCmarxism).

Links about our opener on Thanksgiving

·     “Why the movement shouldn’t #OccupyXmas,” Eric’s argument against ultra left anti-consumerist politics in the midst of the Occupy movement (http://bit.ly/XmasOccupy).

·     Socialist Workerarticles on the real history of Thanksgiving by Caroline Gonzales and Brian Ward (http://bit.ly/RealTnksgvg) and Paul D’Amato (http://bit.ly/DamatoTksgvg).

·     Check out The Red Nation, a revolutionary Native organization based in New Mexico (http://bit.ly/TheRedNation). 

Music for this episode

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)

Gil Scott-Heron, “Home is Where the Hatred Is”

Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Thanksgiving Theme”

Mos Def, “New World Water”

Seal, “A Change is Gonna Come”