Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
Music & Politics
Music & Politics
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
J ohn Kerry is a rich, white, male, Yale, Skull and Bones, Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States. George Bush is a rich, white, male, Yale, Skull and Bones, Republican Party candidate for President of the United States. They are both lifetime members of the community of capital and are both, as a result, committed to maintaining and, when possible, expanding the rule of the rich and powerful over everyone else.
Despite these cookie cutter similarities, if we consider the likely implications of their respective Administrations for abortion, affirmative action, environmental protection, global warming, the minimum wage, nuclear testing, overtime pay, same-sex marriage, health care, taxation, and a host of other issues, most people will see a difference between tweedledum and tweedledee.
How big a difference we see and how we react to it will depend on how consequential we find it that a million or more people don’t have work or how important we think the right to safe and legal abortions is or whether we value people getting overtime pay or whether we care about having an increased minimum wage or having cleaner water to drink.
Such differences, if improved by Kerry instead of impeded and reversed by Bush, will be modest even compared to what caring liberals would like and will certainly be tiny compared to the difference between our society as it is now and our society as it ought to be in a better future. On the other hand, many people will find the prospective gains very large when referenced in terms of the pain and suffering associated with a Bush program versus a Kerry program.
But what about the price of supporting a Democrat? Some may feel that voting Democrat and telling others to do so compromises their integrity and undercuts the potential for opposing Democrats later. But which is going to be easier, (a) activists trying to get average U.S. citizens to agree that more jobs, better pay, better conditions, and most likely less war and repression don’t matter enough to warrant voting; or (b) activists proposing that people vote for Kerry but also realize that doing so is not the end of the battle, but only the beginning.
Regarding working for a Democrat, which is to say actively celebrating the Party platform, the implications for our integrity seem far greater. We would be literally lying or we would have to transform our views so we weren’t lying. It would be transferring time, energy, and assets from more radical and movement oriented work to less—or at least it would be in the eyes of many activists.
Some may say, in contrast to the above, that electing Bush is actually even better in the long run than electing Kerry. He is so much more brutal, so much more open about his motives, that it will be easier for dissenters to rally after his reelection than after Kerry’s election. Of course, this thinking implies that if Hitler were running against Kerry we ought to vote for Hitler and celebrate his victory as he is even more brutal. This is an odd, but not entirely unprecedented mode of thought. In Hitler’s election, the slogan of the German Communist Party was “After Hit- ler, us.”
in addition to such duplicity and callousness, when the country
swings rightward, the opposition against what has happened tends
primarily to seek a return to the middle and not a sharp turn to
the left. Those with this perspective will tend to think voting
Kerry is not only better for the less vile outcomes we will endure,
but also because an opposition against Kerry may focus on institutions
and build, as a result, a long-term movement; while an opposition
to Bush will always just be longing for a return to sanity. Thus,
it would be “Not after Bush, liberation, but after Bush, Kerry”
(if not catastrophe). So why not Kerry now?
Paraphrasing Stephen Shalom, we face in the 2004 election an unusually retrograde Republican administration. It is presiding over one of the largest upward redistributions of wealth in U.S. history, one of the most serious challenges to civil liberties in a half century, and one of the most aggressive foreign policies in years, all made more dangerous by Washington’s status as the world’s sole superpower. More, the Bush administration has been manipulating the political system to entrench its hold on power. After stealing the 2000 election, it has been gerrymandering Congressional districts to give it a lock on the House of Representatives. A Bush victory might give the Republicans a firm hold on all three branches of government and the power to make the conservative Supreme Court even worse.
So should a good and caring leftist work for Kerry? Some will say yes, justifiably afraid of Bush. But others will say no, that would mean using our limited time to canvas for Kerry rather than to build radical movements and expending our scarce financial resources on the corporate-backed Kerry rather than on cash-starved grassroots projects. More, our message would be the false one of trust in Kerry rather than the radical truth that Kerry and the system are fundamentally flaw- ed. Making believe they like him so as to get additional votes for him is outweighed by the ill effects of the duplicity and the large-scale reduction of more radical efforts.
But should we vote for Kerry? Almost everyone will agree that the answer depends not only on the points raised above, but also on what alternative exists. Other than abstention, of course, the alternative to voting for Kerry is voting for an alternative candidate—David Cobb of the Greens or Ralph Nader who is running pretty much on his own.Why would one vote Cobb or Nader and not Kerry?
The reason to vote or work for these alternative candidates is partly to send a message that could be uplifting to a portion of the public (who could see the results and learn that a significant proportion of the population has serious activists inclinations), partly to pressure the Democrats, and largely to build alternative electoral and movement infrastructure that can grow and have a larger impact on future elections.
Voting for Kerry will not lead to Cobb or Nader losing a state but the reverse could arguably occur in highly contested close states. Most people will, as a result, see a difference between how to vote in Texas or Massachusetts and how to vote in Ohio or Florida. If one prefers Cobb or Nader to Kerry in the former safe states, why not vote for them? There is literally nothing lost and there is a gain of all three types noted above. In contested states, however, one has to weigh the small gain of each additional vote for Cobb or Nader against the potential loss of one less Kerry vote, possibly costing him the election.
There are two key questions then: What should we do about our differences? What difference will any of this make to the election outcome in November?
We should admit our differences, of course, but then get on with positive business. Given that the debate is ultimately about what is best for improving further trajectories of progressive change, we can be fairly certain that neither berating people who hold their nose and vote Kerry as sellouts, nor berating people who vote Cobb or Nader as callous is going to change anyone’s mind or help the effort we must make post election day.
As to what will happen in this election: consider what is happening in the media, on TV news and talk shows, on talk radio, all over. If there is a kind of near stand off, or Kerry isn’t losing the battle for media minutes and isn’t treated too badly, it is likely he will win the election. The U.S. public, even just the voting public, would not willingly place a liar who is hell bent on destroying the past century’s social programs and endangering the rest of the planet back into the White House with a mandate to do even worse than he already has, if the public can make a choice freely without being petrified of imminent incineration. On the other hand, if the media is overwhelmingly spinning Bush as the last barrier between gas poisoning or nuclear annihilation or rampant terrorism while spinning Kerry as the naive do-gooder who will give away the house, Bush will likely win.
What determines which way the media swings in a case like this? Well, the bad news is that most corporate leaders will happily swallow their integrity and push for Bush, and the gigantic spigot of profits he promises, if they believe he can pull off his agendas without it leading to Armageddon, ecological dissolution, or political destabilization. We have nothing much to do with their assessment of the likelihood of the first two eventualities. But the good news is that left opposition, and whether it appears likely to grow aggressively, may have a lot to do with the last calculation. By this logic, the real work of the left, now as always, is to grow, deepen, diversify, and display its strength, over and over, on the road to eventually producing a new world. Elections are part of the process, but very far from the main story.
Michael Albert is an activist and staff member of Z. He has published numerous articles and books, including his most recent: Parecon: Life After Capitalism (Verso) and Thought Dreams (Arbeiter Ring ).
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.