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)

Music

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”

34: The 2018 midterms and the meaning of life

Lance Selfa comes on the pod this week to discuss what midterms tell us about the state of U.S. politics. In addition to being an associate editor of the International Socialist Review and a frequent contributor to Socialist Worker, Lance is the author of The Democrats: A Critical History, published by Haymarket Books.

Before our conversation with Lance, Eric joins Jen and Danny to respond to a listener’s question about whether socialism can be compatible with religion. We cover lots of ground, including Marx’s famous (and misunderstood) quote about the opium of the masses, the hypocrisy and chauvinism of the so-called “new atheism,” and Danny’s deep discomfort with his mortality.

Links for our interview with Lance Selfa:

• “The Trumpification of American politics”: Lance’s recent article in Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/Trumpification).

• Alan Maass’s “Six socialist takeaways from Election 2018” (http://bit.ly/6socialisttakes).

• Todd Chretien’s look at discussions among different socialists about the way forward after the midterms (http://bit.ly/aftermidterms).

• Sam Farber’s piece in Jacobin about Donald Trump as a “lumpen capitalist” (http://bit.ly/lumpenTrumpen).

• Lance’s book, The Democrats: A Critical History (http://bit.ly/Selfa).

Links for our opener on religion:

• The Meek and the Militant, Paul Siegel’s classic Marxist analysis of how religion can play both a reactionary and radical political role (bit.ly/MeekMilitant).

• Mike Marqusee’s sharp criticism of neoliberal secularism, “Contending for the living” (http://bit.ly/Marqusee).

• FYI, Danny’s got a chapter called “Is Socialism a Religion” in his book Socialism…Seriously (http://bit.ly/SocSersly)

Music for this episode:

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

Stevie Wonder, “Have A Talk With God”

The Shazam, “Super Tuesday”

Rihanna, “American Oxygen”

Stealers Wheel, “Stuck In The Middle With You”

Death Cab For Cutie, “Good Help (Is Hard To Find)"

33: Solidarity with the caravan; Leandros Fischer on Die Linke’s strategy

This week, we talk to Leandros Fischer of Germany’s Die Linke (The Left Party). In the wake of a wave of refugee migration in 2015, the far right in Germany has made terrifying advances. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) has gained seats in the German Parliament and openly fascist forces have rallied in the streets of Chemnitz. But in the last month we also saw a spectacular demonstration of anti-fascist forces a quarter of a million strong in Berlin.

Leandros explains how Germany’s position as the leader of the European Union, the weakening of labor protections, and the creation of a two-tier, contract-based workforce have all set the stage for a deepening polarization in German politics. He discusses the history of Die Linke, one of the earliest broad-left party projects in Europe, and its current situation and debates. He helps us untangle the debates on the left about the controversial positions taken by Sahra Wagenknecht. He discusses the rise of the right and lays out a strategic vision for how the left can grow in this moment.

In our opener, we are joined by Hector Rivera and Rory Fanning to discuss Trump’s racist hysteria about the migrant caravan and the politics of the border. Hector is a socialist and immigrant rights activist based in Los Angeles and is involved in cross-border solidarity efforts. Rory is a military veteran who recently wrote an essay calling on troops to refuse to obey Trump’s orders to deploy to the border.

Links for our interview with Leandros Fischer:

*Leandros has written frequently for Jacobin about the political debates inside the German left. Here he talks about the rise of the right and how to understand it (http://bit.ly/LeandrosRight). In this article, he discusses the questions surrounding Sahra Wagenknecht (http://bit.ly/LeandrosWagenknecht).

*Socialist Worker recently carried two articles about the advance of the far-right in Germany and the anti-fascist response. In this article, Kathleen Brown describes the street marches of open Nazis in Chemnitz (http://socialistworker.org/2018/09/10/how-can-nazis-be-on-the-march-in-germany). And here, Axel Fair-Schulz discusses how the left should confront the rise of the far right (http://bit.ly/AxelFightRight).

Links for our opener:

*In Socialist Worker, Danny Katch and Khury Petersen-Smith discuss the politics surrounding the migrant caravan and how we can build solidarity (http://bit.ly/SWCaravan)

*In an article for In These Times, Khury Petersen-Smith recounts the history of Germany’s welcoming movement during the refugee crisis of 2015 and talks about how we can apply those lessons to building solidarity with the migrant caravan today.

*Rory Fanning and Spenser Rapone are military veterans who have called on soldiers to defy orders if they are called to the US-Mexico border (http://bit.ly/RorySW)

Music for this episode:

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

Lucius, "Two Of Us On The Run”

Spoon, “Tear It Down”

Egotronic, “Raven gegen Deutschland”

Atari Teenage Riot, “Start The Riot”

Die Ärzte, “Schrei Nach Liebe”

Gastone, “Weihnachtsgans”

32: Right turn in US politics, Aldo Cordeiro Sauda on Bolsonaro’s Brazil

In this week’s episode, we discuss Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro with Brazilian socialist Aldo Cordeiro Sauda and U.S.-based socialist Todd Chretien. This weekend, in a terrifying development in international politics, Brazil’s neo-fascist Bolsonaro won the presidential elections. Since that time, the military has paraded openly through the streets, raided universities and raised the prospect of attacks on Brazil’s social movements and oppressed populations.

Recorded just days before the October 28 election, we talk to Aldo and Todd about the background to Bolsonaro’s rise after 14 years of rule by the Workers Party (PT). Aldo identifies the constitutional coup against former President Dilma Rousseff as a turning point in the advance of the far right. We talk about why the ruling class has swung behind Bolsonaro and what the rise to power of a neo-fascist means for the left specifically. We end by talking about the labor and social movements, which still have real organization and power in Brazil, and how to build international solidarity with their struggles.

Aldo Cordeiro Sauda is a journalist and activist in Brazil’s Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSOL). He also covered the Arab Spring for Estado de São Paulo and Folha de São Paulo and is currently a masters candidate in political science at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP).

In our opener, we talk about the hard right turn in U.S. politics since the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. This episode was recorded before the horrific massacre of at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, but the trends we identify make clear why such attacks are an inevitable product of this moment. We review the right-wing offensive — from Trump’s transphobic memo to the racist hysteria about the migrant caravan — and discuss how this can co-exist with a potential advance of the Democrats in the midterm elections, but also why that advance will not eliminate the basis for Trumpism.

Links for this episode’s interview on Brazil

*Valério Arcary, a leading member of Resistência, a revolutionary socialist current inside the Party for Socialism and Freedom (PSOL), discusses the factors underlying an assessment of Bolsonaro as a neo-fascist in an article re-published at Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/ArcarySW)

*Aldo, along with Benjamin Fogel, discusses the role of the military in providing a base of support for Bolsonaro in an article for Jacobin (http://bit.ly/AldoJacobin)

*Socialist Worker reprinted a statement of Resistência following the first round of Brazilian elections that analyzes the threats posed by Bolsonaro and charts a way forward for the left, labor and social movements (http://bit.ly/ResistenciaSW)

*The Intercept has written on the reasons Wall Street is happy about a Bolsonaro victory (http://bit.ly/BrazilWallStreet) and has put together a piece explaining who Bolsonaro is using his own words (http://bit.ly/InterceptBolsonaro)

Links for this episode’s opener on the right turn in US politics

*Nicole Colson discusses how Trump’s hate has unleashed the violence that has targeted Jews, Blacks and migrants in the last week and points to lessons of the anti-fascist movements of the past in an article for Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/ColsonTrumpHateSW)

*Our co-host Danny wrote a piece for Socialist Worker that assesses the phases of the Trump regime and what the sharpening backlash means for socialists (http://bit.ly/DannyTrumpEra)

*Lance Selfa talks about the Trumpification of American politics and why a blue wave won’t erase the Trump stain in this article for Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/TrumpificationSW)

Music

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

Gil Scott-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

Chico Buarque, "Apesar de Você”

Caetano Veloso, "Um Comunista”

Elis Regina, "O Bêbado e a Equilibrista”

Jorge Ben Jor, “Zumbi"

31: Building fighting unions at UPS and Delta

The U.S. labor movement is in an interesting place. The strikes of first teachers and now hotel workers are showing the depths of anger among workers about years of disrespect and stagnant wages—and a capacity for self-organization and solidarity that hasn’t been seen for decades in many unions. At same time, the number of workers in unions remains low, the laws and most elected officials are hostile to labor, and too many union leaders have been slow to take up this new fighting spirit. This episode looks at how these dynamics are playing out in a couple of key private-sector companies.

First, labor solidarity activist Flynn Murray joins Danny to talk to UPS drivers and Teamsters Local 804 members Anthony Rosario and Juan Acosta about the movement they’re involved in to reject a concessionary national contract being pushed by the international union. Then we speak with Delta baggage handler Joe Evica about the potentially historic organizing campaign that he and his fellow baggage handlers are leading to unionize with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

Links for this episode

UPS links

· Flynn’s September Socialist Worker interview with Anthony, Juan and fellow driver Duquesneson Pierre (http://bit.ly/UPSinterview)

· Article from UPS worker about the fight against the new contract (http://bit.ly/NoBadContract)

· Check out one of the many YouTube videos from UPS worker Tyler Binder as part of the Vote No campaign (http://bit.ly/Tylervideo)

· The story of the historic 1997 UPS strike (http://bit.ly/1997UPSstrike)

· Joe Allen’s The Package King: a Rank and File History of United Parcel Service (http://bit.ly/PackageKing)

Delta links

· Danny’s April Socialist Worker interview with a Delta worker about the union campaign (http://bit.ly/DeltaUnion)

· 2017 article from a Delta worker about why customers and workers should unite against miserable airline conditions (http://bit.ly/TogetherAgainstDelta)

· Report from a Delta worker about the company’s anti-union campaign (http://bit.ly/DeltaPropoganda)

Music and audio

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

Matthew Bistok, “UPS Song: The Man In Brown”

Bob Marley, “Get Up, Stand Up”

Hozier, “Work Song”

The Ramp Rapper, “We Need A Union”

“The Barney Song”

The Beatles, “Hard Day’s Night”