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Books and Music
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Books and Music
Revolution at Point Zero
Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle
By Silvia Federici
PM Press, 2012, 208 pp.
Review by Seth Sandronsky
Revolutionary feminist Silvia Federici’s scope is wide in her book of essays, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle, written from 1974 to now. A major force in the Wages for Housework movement of the early 1970s, Federici shed light on the invisible and invaluable labor of women under capitalism—or socially reproductive work—with a preface, introduction, three sections, notes, and a bibliography. She expands our understanding of who performs and benefits from such reproduction and how it connects with the capital-wage nexus. For the purpose of private wealth accumulation, capitalism’s dynamism constantly changes how we live and work. Thus, the trajectory of Federici’s writing reflects the changing dynamics of, and resistance to, a system that increasingly relies on women to perform the unpaid work of caring for humans.
Their labor does not appear as part of the economy. Such household work, for instance, goes uncounted in the gross domestic product of the
As capitalist production ebbs and flows, socially reproductive and productive labor services reflect this trend. Federici tackles such flashpoints—from unwaged bedrooms and kitchens to waged workplaces and social service demands in developed and developing nations.
In the second part of Federici’s book, she disentangles globalization and social reproduction. A main theme here is the evolving international and sexual division of labor, waged and unwaged.
A grow-or-die system weakens the ability of families to care for children without more members of households entering the capitalist marketplace. Women suffer particularly as primary caregivers to children and elders, migrating to provide child-rearing services to families in developed countries, while leaving their own kin for years.
Thus, Federici argues that an anti-capitalist framework is essential to feminist struggles against patriarchy. She locates within this critique the necessity for resistance to wars with bombs or structural adjustment programs, having first-hand knowledge of the latter during her time teaching and writing on the African continent.
The political economy of Karl Marx runs a red line throughout Federici’s book, yet she critiques his failure to analyze the vital role of women’s reproductive labor to the overall system’s equilibrium.
The final and third section of Federici’s book takes up women’s role as mainstays of the commons, areas of public life and resources outside global capitalism. Federici unpacks the nature and role of female “commoning” as a verb, less so the commons as a condition. She calls for left politicizing of elder care, undergoing a crisis as capitalism monetizes such reproductive work while placing a greater burden on women. Thus, caring for elders is a gender issue.
As Federici shows with examples from Africa, Asia, and
In that living, she argues, is our capacity to create a new, egalitarian society as the Arab Spring and Occupy Movement illustrates within the lens of women’s commoning.
Seth Sandronsky lives and writes in Sacramento,
Van Morrison’s Born to Sing: No Plan B
Review by John Zavesky
Van Morrison is back in top form with his latest release Born to Sing: No Plan B. Morrison’s first studio album in four years is the longest time span between albums since the
Born to Sing: No Plan B is Morrison at his best. He makes it look simple when in reality it is anything but. The album has a jazzier sense about it than any album Morrison has released for the past decade or more. The album’s catchy melodies with backing brass recall Moondance but the similarity stops there. The album contains some of the hardest-hitting lyrics Morrison has put to music in years.
“Open the Door to Your Heart” invokes a 1960s soul feel with its musical hook and warm brass. Morrison even works in a
Don’t you think I know who my enemies are
Their slip is showing and the door is ajar
Well this time they pushed me too far
Open the door to your heart
And who are the enemies Morrison sings about in the opening cut? Money, capitalism, the media, politicians, Morrison takes on all comers with a downbeat worldview. Morrison may be approaching 70 but his verbal vitriol is as hard edged as ever. Combined with a voice that has aged nicely into a gravely growl Morrison sings the blues, soul, jazz and R&B with conviction and nuance. “Going Down to
Sartre said hell is other people, I believe that most of them are
Well their pettiness amazes me, even after I’ve gone this far
The album’s title track Born to Sing is a rollicking rhythm and blues number reminiscent of Smiley Lewis and Fats Domino. “End of the Rainbow” sounds like a tune you might expect to hear some piano player playing for the three drunks in the corner booth at 2:00 AM. The horns weave a smooth, sweet tapestry over the piano. Morrison’s lyrics continue their downbeat worldview while warning you that you’ll get burned taking coals to
“Close Enough for Jazz” is one of the album’s standout numbers that swings with a smooth riff and a warm, full sound. The album’s other standout song is “My Pagan Heart.” This blues song makes you feel the Mississippi Delta night air with its opening guitar strains. Stripped down to bare bones, it is a musical form Morrison explored heavily with his band Them back in 1964 when the group put Big Joe Williams’s “Baby Please Don’t Go” on the B-side of “Gloria.”
“Educating Archie” concludes the album Right to the end, Morrison keeps up his take no prisoners sensibility. The song is a nod to Sam Cooke. Musically it is one that you could even envision a band ending a night’s set on, the song rolls so nicely. Lyrically it is one of the most biting:
You’re a slave to the capitalist system
and it’s controlled by the global elite
Double dealing with banks, behind your back, just can’t fight
Some artists mellow with age. Some fade away. Some become redundant. Van Morrison has done none of those things. Born to Sing: No Plan B is an album that showcases an artist who hasn’t given up. Morrison continues to explore the themes and musical styles of blues, jazz and R&B that have been with him since his childhood when his father brought home records of African American recording artists. Musically the album may appear simple, but to reach the level of Morrison and his backing band it takes a lifetime of hard work, dedication, and passion.
John Zavesky’s articles have been published in numerous publications, including CounterPunch, Palestine Chronicle, Dissident Voice,
Judy Collins Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
By Bill Nevins and Lorenzo Duran
Judy Collins, the Colorado-born songwriter/performer whose many albums and concerts have filled our lives was honored October 15 in New York City by the Irish American Writers & Artists organization (IAW&A), a four-year-old self-described national “progressive artists” membership organization headed by President T.J. English (author of Paddy Whacked, The Westies, The Savage City and many other bestselling books) and Vice President Larry Kirwan (playwright, novelist, and leader of the Black 47 rock band). Each year, in a gala gathering in NYC, the organization awards its Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award to a living Irish American artist.
This year’s IAW&A event was held upstairs at Rosie O’Grady’s Irish American restaurant on
Besides Judy Collins’s youthful appearance and warm smile, there was a surprise guest appearance by Pete Seeger who, in his 90s, proved charmingly feisty and as musically skilled as ever. Seeger treated us to songs accompanied by his banjo, the one inscribed in memory of Pete’s friend and mentor, the late Woody Guthrie: “This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender.” Seeger told this reporter, “I just keep on doing what I have been doing all my life. I see no reason to stop just because I’ve got a few more wrinkles now.”
On stage that evening, Collins gave a cappella renditions of several of her famous songs and also shared memories of her career, the people she has met and admired and, especially, of her father, the late Chuck Collins, who was a legendary radio host in
The 2013 Irish American Writers & Artists Eugene O’Neill Award Gala will be held in October 2013. IAW&A chapters are being organized nationally, and interested persons may get details at www.i-am-wa.org.
The Endless Crisis
How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the
By John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney
Monthly Review Press, 2012, 227 pp.
Review by Seth Sandonsky
A duo of scholars and professors connect the dots in a radical critique of modern-day capitalism. Theirs is a rigorous analysis, empirical and theoretical, of the twin trends of slowing growth and growing tumult With charts and tables, a preface, introduction, six chapters, notes and an index, Foster and McChesney provide a primer on the global system’s crisis that helps readers to get a handle on how and why things are falling apart, economically and environmentally. To this end, they break new ground with their insights on financial markets, and corporate monopolies and investment. According to the authors: “An economy in which decisions on savings and investment are made privately tends to fall into a stagnation trap; existing demand is insufficient to absorb all of the actual and potential savings (or surplus) available, output falls, and there is no automatic mechanism that generates full recovery.” These processes proceed as the conventional economic wisdom holds that government spending is what ails the system.
Foster and McChesney provide an in-depth look at the evolution of monopoly capital to monopoly-finance capital. In this way, they provide fresh analysis about financial bubbles and their centrality to economic woes. How did financial speculation overtake industrial production as the main motor of capital accumulation? Their second chapter sheds much light on the question, writing in the tradition of Marxist theorists Paul Baran, Harry Magdoff, and Paul Sweezy.
Further, Foster and McChesney review the relevant work of Marx and Keynes, highlighting the forces and factors behind slow growth and corporate control over economic activity that reduces outlets for profitable investments that, ultimately, flow into financial services. Wonder why the role of small business in the
As they show in chapter three, big corporations dominate global industries, from aircraft and auto to banks, computers, media, pharmaceuticals, and retail. Foster and Mc- Chesney’s supporting evidence makes clear this rising tendency of monopolization (sales, shipments, revenue, and gross profits), and its role in the rise of the financial realm of the economy.
According to the authors, there is a lack of clarity about the current monopoly stage of capitalism. Why? In part they cite the “ambiguity of competition.”
Conservatives and some radical critics misuse this concept; false assumptions spur flawed conclusions. Chapter four covers monopoly capital’s drive to span the globe. Foster and McChesney drill down on vital factors of this trend, such as corporate monopolies’ subcontracting to lower production costs, along with controlling raw materials and leveraging credit and debt.
It is axiomatic that capital’s growth requires the working class to grow. This nexus underpins chapter five on the dramatic changes in the global economy with the integration of
The book wraps up with in-depth analysis of
Not to overstate the urgency of a world economic crisis without apparent end, Foster and McChesney, following Marx, make a convincing case for reconstituting society based on human needs. For informed and intelligent work on resurrecting the radical actions and visions of past movements and thinkers in the face of an accumulation-financialization-stagnation nightmare now, The Endless Crisis is a book to read.
Seth Sandronsky lives and writes in
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.