Understanding the Occupy Movement
Some Reflections, Thoughts and Suggestions
Over three and a half months in, and the Occupy Wall Street Movement has spread across the United States and across the world. Obviously, the best way to get an understanding of the Occupy Movement is to visit and/or join them yourself, and supplement this with reading articles/stories by them, about them, and for them. And watch the myriad related videos that have been produced and distributed across the internet.
Certainly, something powerful is going on. In the US, it’s generated the largest public mobilizations in approximately 40 years. It’s garnered the attention of newspapers, magazines, politicians, the public, and the police. According to a number of public opinion polls, the majority of Americans support the general goals of Occupy. There are already four books published or soon to be—one from Verso Publishers, one from Yes! Magazine, one from Alternet.com, and one from Time Magazine—of which I know. And now, along with protesters in a number of Arab countries (particularly Tunisia and Egypt), Greece, Israel, and England, “The Protester” has been named as Time’s “Man of the Year” for 2011.
And while the Occupy Movement seems to have “retreated” in the face of police repression, along with oncoming cold weather, it was still strong enough to shut three ports on the West Coast on December 12: Oakland, Portland, and Longview, WA.
[Accounts of Occupy efforts will be supplemented in early January, when a book about 2011’s Wisconsin Uprising will be published by Verso, It Started in Wisconsin: Dispatches from the Front Lines of New Labor Protest in America, edited by Mari Jo Buhle and Paul Buhle.]
At the same time, activists are thinking about how to use creatively the winter months, so as to emerge with warm weather even stronger, more informed, more unified. As one living in Chicago (albeit not extensively involved with our local Occupy project), this is all the more important since Mayor Rahm Emanuel has secured the G-8/NATO meetings for our fair city, and they will be here in May: the need to be as clear as possible seems especially important. [Add in the bi-annual Labor Notes conference for labor activists—to be held here for the first time instead of Dearborn, MI—and a possible teachers’ strike in the city, May should be quite interesting. Won’t you please come to Chicago…?]
Researchers refer to upsurges, like listed above, as “social movements.” However, as one who has participated in and studied social movements for a number of years, I question how well many academic researchers understand what is going on: to call an upsurge a social movement seems not to tell us a lot, except to suggest that people have mobilized to seek political goals (in this case, social justice) on their own, for whatever reason, refusing to rely on politicians and/or legal processes to attain their goals.
I think that there’s something much more going on with the Occupy Movement than just simply mobilization. Yes, mobilization is here, and it is important. But, again, more is going on.
To understand the Occupy Movement, I think we need to examine three levels of abstraction: the mobilization itself, the symbolic aspect, and the social power that the movement is trying to develop.
The mobilization aspect is the clearest to date. Americans have rallied to this movement in ways not seen since the early 1970s. Hundreds of thousands have assembled, marched, sang, danced, cheered, shouted, etc., all repudiating the status quo, at one level or another. Perhaps most amazing has been the overall diversity of those who have mobilized: the mobilizations have included people of all ages, of all genders, of all racial groupings, all education levels, all work/occupation statuses, etc., etc. And while the particular characteristics of protesters vary by site, the simple fact is that the range of protesters has been so broad across the country that they cannot be simply dismissed as “the usual suspects.” And for one very good reason: this mobilization in general is much larger, more sustained, and more representative of the large majority of people of our country than any since the 1930s!
A “spin-off” effort that is used to disrupt political fundraisers, reactionary political speeches, or statements by lying school board officials—referred to as a “mic check”—has given activists an offensive weapon that is quite effective. Joined with this are “occupations” of people’s foreclosed homes, of gates to port docks, etc., and other places that can have a political and/or economic impact. In short, tactics developed in the larger occupations have been dispersed to groups across the society.
Something is happening here, Mr. Jones.
It seems to me there are five sets of factors that are contributing to the mobilization. First, as so many have detailed over past several years, people’s lives are getting much worse in this country. Wages and salaries have been stagnant for over 30 years. There are a lack of jobs for those without technical training or at least a bachelor’s degree—and yet, neither are guarantors of getting a job, much less a good-paying job while increasing debt burdens on those who get this advanced training—and the falling levels of union representation for those with jobs. Further, the social safety net is already gaping, and which the Republicans in particular (with help from many Democrats) are actively working to destroy. Along with these factors, prices—especially the cost of gasoline, housing, home heating fuel, and food—continue to rise. And although far from a general consensus, my research since 1984 shows that these worsening economic conditions are structural not cyclical, as is often claimed, which means these jobs ain’t coming back! (See my 2009 article at www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/21584; best read after listening and watching James McMurty’s “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTW0y6kazWM, although I don’t think the solution is “vote Democratic”!)
Second, and both as a result of these changes and, in turn, helping to make these things much worse, is the escalating income inequality in this country. The US is by far the most economically unequal of all of the so-called “developed” countries, save the small city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore. And TV shows keep showing the wealth gap—stupidly celebrating the 1% and their obscene consumption levels—which is letting the 99% see how far their “fortunes” are falling behind.
Third, the political system is being seen as overwhelmingly corrupt. People see that politicians are not addressing the problems of the majority of us. Most probably haven’t put together the fact that this is not just a general failure, but that the wealthy have bought off the politicians and the politicians are acting to serve the interest of the rich at the expense of the majority of us, but they know the political system is not working for “us.” Tied into this, at least under the surface, is the dissatisfaction of the on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, despite Obama’s claims, are not over.
Fourth, the increasing understanding of the corruption of the mainstream news media is spreading. People know that, to a large extent, the US mass media is lying—either by commission or omission. (Notice how The New York Times recently has all but “forgotten” the Occupy Movement?) As they get access to alternative mainstream sources—such as BBC or Al Jazeera or Russia Today (RT)—they can see the inadequacies of the US media system. And as they find out that there are actual alternative information sites that actually produce knowledgeable and informative news—including, but not limited to Democracy Now!, Countercurrents, Z Magazine, Z Net, Monthly Review, MR Zine, Truthout, Truthdig, Common Dreams, Alternet, The Nation, The Progressive, Mother Jones, etc., along with a growing number of radio programs being broadcast over their air and streamed across the internet—their disgust at the established media system grows, while their general understanding of the world deepens.
And all of these things are tied together in a fifth factor: people are seeing that they are not alone. People are seeing the development of social movements across the Arab world that are challenging established dictatorships. They are seeing Greeks, and Israelis, and the British are rebelling. They might not understand the “why” of these rebellions, but they know people are not going passively to slaughter. (For an excellent analysis of the global rebellion, see Tom Engelhardt’s “Four Occupations of Planet Earth,” December 19, 2011, and on-line at www.zcommunications.org/the-four-occupations-of-planet-earth-by-tom-engelhardt.)
This ties in, especially for those in our country, the uprising in Wisconsin.
While the focus was on Madison, the protests were actually broader, going into all areas of the state, which is overwhelmingly rural. When people saw farmers parading around the State Capitol with their “manure spreaders,” they got the point. As they saw collective bargaining attacked, and social services gutted, they jumped back: this isn’t “the American way.” And although, unfortunately, the protests were ultimately channeled into the established political system, nonetheless, two Republican state senators were defeated, and a very vigorous recall effort of the governor seems likely to succeed. Yet the fact that these were “ordinary Americans” who were mobilizing and protesting and recalling, I think, contributed to the sense that each of us could join in: protesting by broad swatches of society was not just a “foreign” thing, but Americans could do it too. And I keep remembering the chant that was adopted a considerable number of generally unionized Indiana workers and their supporters in Indianapolis in March 2011—each who seemed fairly conservative personally—as they drew on some of our radical American heritage: “HELL, NO: WE WON’T GO!”
All of these factors, I believe, have contributed to the incredible mobilization and very positive response to them across the United States.
THE SYMBOLIC LEVEL
This is probably much less clear in people’s understandings, but it is there. The Occupy Movement in general symbolizes the dissatisfaction that exists in our society—as discussed above, this dissatisfaction is based on real situations and understandings. At this more abstract level, the Occupy Movement as a whole generalizes the specific grievances/dissatisfaction expressed at each particular encampment, but collectivizes them, giving them a synergistic impact across the country.
This symbolism, none the less, is important and is having an affect on encampments themselves and on the 99% outside of the major cities, which is where the major encampments have been overwhelmingly located. For example, folks in Chesterton, Indiana—with a population of approximately 11,000 in the northwest part of the state—have been occupying the park at the center of their town every Saturday afternoon for the past couple of months, talking with each other about the future of their town and what they’d like to see develop. They don’t have the numbers to maintain a 24-hour occupation, but the hours in the park have been special. And acts like this—which I believe are much widespread than has been let on—in turn, help legitimize and support the larger encampments and the messages they are projecting, while grounding the general movement in particular local areas.
The symbolic level can especially be seen on the internet. Massive numbers of videos have been posted, overwhelmingly showing the righteousness of their cause, the diversity of people and their demands, sometimes the power of their protests, and the brutality of the police response in many cases. This not only has spread across the United States, but across the world, letting others know of this mobilization in “the belly of the beast.”
But who gets this? While I’m not sure many protesters understand this symbolic level on a personal level, where I am certain the Occupy Movement has been received loud and clear is upon the “powers that be”: the elites, their politicians, and the police who serve them.
The Occupy Movement has been a collective “up your’s” (as the Brits would say) to these folks. It’s the condensation of Howard Beale’s famous rant (in the movie, Network), “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!” It’s a repudiation of “’business as usual.”
The powers that be “get” this—and they get it clearly. It is why they have worked so hard to disperse many Occupy encampments, and have used quite violent means to get it when folks don’t automatically comply. The cop with pepper spray at the University of California at Davis—and Davis has a generally conservative student body (Berkeley it’s not)—was quite deliberate in his use of the chemical; that was no “irrational,” out of control, response.
Remember, Mayors in cities with extreme budgetary pressures have mobilized hundreds (and perhaps, at times, thousands) of police—many unionized, with good benefits such as overtime—to withstand the “attack” of Occupy. Why these expenditures, which their cities really cannot afford, to dissuade and/or arrest protesters who generally have done nothing more than violate “curfew” regulations…? It doesn’t make sense in any rational analysis.
That’s because the elites and their politicians are not responding “rationally” (in a normal human being’s sense) to Occupy. They see Occupy as what it really is: a “fuck you” to the powers that be for their imperial wars, their failing economic system, the growing social misery, the intensifying global ecological disaster, etc. And they are responding “rationally”—as people in their positions—to the challenge: the attacks on Occupy have been very deliberate, although they’ve sometimes gotten more violent than perhaps desired (as in Oakland, and the injury to Scott Olson, the twice deployed Marine), which has turned people even more against them.
The politicians are pissed at Occupy: they don’t like their “shit” being put out in public for all to see. If people are unhappy, they can demonstrate, as long as they are peaceful and they soon go home. However, peaceful protesters who stay, who publicly proclaim that the system is screwed-up, and who have the nerve to occupy public space for days and nights, well this cannot be permitted; it’s “un-American.” It is a threat to their very system: and they know it.
Hence, the symbolic aspect of Occupy cannot be denied. Adding this level of understanding to the mobilization deepens our understanding of what is going on. And yet, there is still a third level, creating social power.
CREATING SOCIAL POWER
Where the rubber hits the road for the Occupy Movement, I believe, is whether they can turn this incredible mobilization, and with all of its symbolic importance, into a force of social power. Let me explain.
As one who has a fairly good grasp of (especially) American history, I reject the common “explanation” of how our country got to where it is. The story told in high school textbooks, as well as many other books, is basically that this country got to where it is today because of forward-thinking American politicians, such as Abraham Lincoln “who freed the slaves,” etc. One, that’s simply not true, and certainly doesn’t give us an understanding of why Lincoln would even issue the Emancipation Proclamation—which did not free the slaves in the four slave states that did not leave the Union: Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri—especially since he argued only a few years earlier than preservation of the Union was more important than emancipating slaves.
Nor is it true that Lyndon Johnson delegitimized white supremacy in this country. While being more forward-thinking on domestic policy than many of his politician colleagues, Johnson’s signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was not because he got up one morning, scratched his ass, and decided to “do the deed.” He did it because people marched, they organized, they put their lives on the line, and they raised enough hell that he thought it better to sign the bill than face continued disruption across the country. His diplomats also were telling him that civil rights protests in the United States were undercutting their “flowery words” (my term) overseas, particularly in Africa, undercutting their Cold War projects against the Soviet Union.
This suggests another—and I believe more accurate—reading of the American experience than the traditional “forward-thinking politicians” myth. I argue that the American experience can better be understood as a product of the struggles of ordinary women and men to make real the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. This is not to say that white folks didn’t oppress Native Americans, Blacks, Mexicans or Chinese, and even white ethnic immigrants from Catholic Ireland and countries of Eastern and Southern Europe—who, once accepted by the “whites,” joined in the oppression of people of color—but that the majority of people in this country, over time, have worked to make real these ideals.
And we must never forget the activists in each of these struggles who took tremendous risks to win the social support of ordinary people to their goals. This was true in the abolition (of slavery) movement, the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the women’s movement, the environmental movement, the LGBT movement, etc. In fact, it was the activists’ efforts that led to the development of each of these and other movements.
And that’s what I believe the Occupy Movement is attempting to do, furthering this tradition of getting people to join the struggle for a better, less oppressive world.
The key to whatever success has been generated in the US (and elsewhere), over time, has been the development of social power by the people below to force the people above to do what those below want. It’s really that simple: developing social power from below to force the people above to do what we want.
The question is: can Occupy do this on an on-going basis? That’s the $64,000 question. Key to this challenge, I believe, is to “organize” this herd of active individuals into a series of conscious political groups, each based on solidarity, and then to unite with other groups at a greater level of solidarity.
Arguably, that could be said to be where Occupies are: with their open, democratic processes in their General Assemblies, these are an effort to create that group-ness, that collective identity and unity. And out of that, have come decisions to engage in collective behavior, as Occupy Oakland did, twice closing down Oakland’s port.
My gut, however, tells me this is not sufficient: it’s too general. And is too weak; I don’t think organization at this level will be sufficient to withstand on-going police repression. We need more time, and more intimate settings, to get together to think out these issues than is possible with general assemblies, no matter how brilliantly run and how inclusive they are.
I think each Occupy needs to pull people together, but then to encourage people to organize themselves into affinity groups, of between, say, 5-12 people. This sized group is small enough where people can build personal connections and make decisions that all can abide by, and yet be big enough for folks to engage in collective activities while having some in support in case of arrests, etc.
I’m going to return to an article I published on November 16, 2011, “Open Letter to Occupy Wall Street Participants: Taking Advantage of Seasonal Down Time” (www.zcommunications.org/contents/182754/print.)
I argue that we need to further “construct” the 99% movement. We need to build the unity and clarity that we aspire to, recognizing that we don’t have it yet.
If you visit an encampment or join a march, what you find is a wide range of thinking and positions, moving from (generally speaking) left-of-center liberals to progressives on leftward, with a few thinking Republicans mixed in. (I’m not putting anyone down, but am trying to describe our political diversity.) This doesn’t make one position “correct” and everyone else “wrong,” but it acknowledges that we are not unified politically. In my opinion, we need to respectfully discuss these differences and try to come to more developed common positions.
For example, there are major questions we must face: are we trying to “reform” the system, or do we want to begin a process to consciously try to create a new society (whatever that means)? Do we focus primarily on domestic issues, or do we focus on domestic and global issues at the same time? Do we support Obama and the Democrats in 2012, or do we also begin to seriously build an alternative third party for 2016 and subsequent elections? (I’m not trying to confine questions to these issues, but these come immediately to mind.)
There is one thing to note, however, in how I even constructed these questions: they each reject dichotomous thinking—Pepsi or Coke?—and argue that we need to develop processes to understand and develop solutions that incorporate our best thinking, and that includes all shades of positions. In other words, rejecting “either/or” options, and replacing them with “both/and” ones, shifting the discussion from “this” or “that” to both, and discussing priorities rather than absolutes. I think focusing on processes and priorities allows us to confront significant and important differences among ourselves in ways that dichotomous thinking simply doesn’t allow. (This also rejects the dichotomous thinking that mainstream society has been locked into by the elites and their passive educational system.)
The problem with addressing processes and priorities, however, is that it takes time: there are no simple answers. It requires treating those with whom we have differences with respect—and that means being willing to listen to them, to try to understand where they are coming from, and to intervene when they need to hear “alternative” visions.
Again, general assemblies cannot provide the forum for this. We need smaller groups, and more time.
As I said above, I think we can learn from the women’s movement, the anti-nuclear plants and weapons movement, and the anarchist movement (and which have been adopted by others). We need to come together, small group by small group, to begin the process of thinking things out. I’m suggesting that we start creating house parties or something comparable, where people gather in people’s homes or some other amenable locations, to begin these processes. Now, these meetings can be based on a number of commonalities: particular political positions/ideologies (socialist, trade unionist), geographical proximity (college dorm, neighborhood), commonalities (race, gender, class, sexual orientation/identification, primary language, religious orientation, etc.), or whatever brings small groups of people together: none is more important than any other; the goal is to create sustainable groups that will last over time, and are intended to engage in commonly-desired political activities in the not-too-distant future.
Key to this, I suggest, is that we take time to begin getting to know one another. In other words, I think we should approach these house meetings with the idea that, if all possible, we will continue over an agreed upon time to try to work things out together. Say, at the first meeting, we agree that if we return to the next house party, that we are willing to commit to a further six weeks of meetings with this group of people. At the end of this agreed-upon period, we can then each decide if this process works for us with these people, or that we will be free to find another, more compatible group, with no hard feelings. With that agreed-upon understanding, we can proceed.
Once there is a commitment to a period of working together, then I suggest we not jump immediately into debating political issues, but that we take time to at least share something personal about ourselves. So, for example, we might give each person five minutes to tell about their lives, however they want to do this: where they are from, what kind of family do they have, where they went to school, etc., etc. Whether done at the same time, or in a second “round,” it is always good to share individual stories of how you got politicized, or what brought you to the 99% movement. You might do another “round” on what each person would like to see come out of the 99% movement, maybe desired goals that are immediate and those that one might desire over the long-term. Folks will find, if my experiences are of any value, that as we get to know one another, we can relax, we can discuss differences more easily, and we can respect each other even more.
Once this is done—and it is worth it to take the time to enhance the comfortableness level for everyone—then I think each group should identify what are three key issues that each person thinks are most important for their group and the movement to address, and why. Take time to discuss this, as decisions made will probably drive the group’s work, at least over the immediate term. Then once the priorities are set by the group, then I’d encourage people to read articles and books on the subject, or get movement intellectuals in one’s area to come and discuss the issue, etc. In other words, I think it’s important to find the best thinking available, and utilize it to inform one’s discussions.
In other words, I think we need to consciously create affinity groups out of gatherings of individuals, so as to enhance democracy, strengthen organization, develop solidarity, and deepen the political understanding—and I’m talking in the broad sense, not just confining this to electoral politics—of the Occupy Movement. This development of affinity groups will allow us to consciously deepen our resistance, while allowing us to develop a process by which we hammer out our visions of, and pathways toward, a new societal model, one which is based on global solidarity in the struggle for environmental sustainability and for economic and social justice.
What I am suggesting is not rocket science. For social movement scholars, as I said above, it should be obvious I am building off the work of the late Alberto Melucci, who recognized that social movements did not emerge out of thin air, but were products of the processes by which they developed. I agree with Melucci that we have to think out and develop processes to build the type of social movements that we want.
Melucci advances a three-step model that he had identified in his research in Italy. First, individuals have to come together for the purpose of further political engagement, building on commonalities (however defined), to create a group that meets one’s needs sufficiently to result in an emotional commitment to the further development of the group at least for an agreed-upon period of time. This is what he calls creating a “collective identity.” Each group is a result of interaction, negotiation and (sometimes) conflict, but is based on a willingness to work together for an agreed-upon period of time. Ultimately, the purpose of each group is to develop a level of understanding and unity that allows them to engage in collective activity.
Second, the group needs to engage in some collective activity as a means of attempting to achieve a commonly desired political goal. This means doing something together that involves taking some personal risk, whether simply identifying members of the group publicly as supporters/proponents of a particular controversial issue, or of engaging in some conflictual activity that is intended to enhance public awareness or as a means to seek further public participation to further advance towards one’s chosen goals. [Obviously, participating in Occupy activities does this to a certain degree, but to date, this seems so far to be on a largely personal basis—here I’m talking about engaging in common activity as a group.]
And third, this requires that each group “frame” their activities in ways that enhances their particular project. In other words, acting in and of itself can be interpreted in a number of ways, whether to enhance one’s intended meaning or to discredit it. Each group wants to ensure that their activities are interpreted as accurately as possible so as to enhance their efforts, which, in turn, undercuts opponents’ distortions or counters efforts to undermine the group’s project. This means consciously developing one’s “story,” one’s political analysis, so as to share with friends as well as the media so as to increase public support. [This is based on the understanding that there are almost always three different positions that develop in any organizing project: those that support the project, those that oppose it, and those in the middle who don’t care or who are not paying attention, with the middle usually being the largest of the three. The goal of any organizing project is to move those in the “middle” to supporting the project being advanced.]
These three steps should be considered as part of an upwardly spiraling process, interconnected and not separate in real life. One creates a group that develops a shared political understanding, engages in collective action to advance their chosen political goals, and frames it to enhance their support by “outsiders,” which, in turn, leads to more people joining the group, further collective action and supportive framing, to more people joining the group….
Ideally, people create as many affinity groups as they deem necessary. And if/when the group decides to engage in non-violent direct action, there are people in the affinity group who might be willing to risk arrest, while others can’t, so those who can’t provide jail support for those who get arrested. Thus, this model allows for differing degrees of commitment even within an affinity group.
However, this describes the process for developing an affinity group. How do they work with other affinity groups? One model found to be useful in the past is that of a “spokescouncil,” whereby each affinity group in a network is seen as a spoke and they come together at certain times to discuss/develop different plans and programs with the goal of creating a unified campaign and component “actions” to advance that campaign. Generally, an affinity group will meet, develop their particular positions, and then “empower” a delegate or set of delegates to represent them at the upcoming spokescouncil. By being empowered, this means that affinity group representatives have the approval of the group to do their best thinking and to take the best decisions at the council, and that will, therefore, bind the affinity group to carry out any decisions made.
That brings us to another crucial issue: decision-making. How can we be as democratic as possible, so as to respect everyone as well as to ensure all sides of issues being discussed get aired before making a decision, while yet not being stymied by a never-ending “process” that impedes activities?
Rather than waiting to address this issue only when it raises its’ head, I suggest it be confronted early-on in the life of each affinity group. The process we developed in a San Francisco veterans’ group that I was active in during the 1980s offers an intelligent way forward that works: recognize that there are two different levels of issues, and establish a different decision-making criteria for each.
We decided that all issues could be placed in one of two categories: “action” items, and “organizational” items. Action items were simple: do we endorse this or that?, do we meet in June or July?, etc. For these, we always sought consensus, but if we could get that and there was division, we simply settled on a majority vote, with 50% + 1 deciding.
Organizational issues were major issues that could affect the very existence of the organization, such as do we endorse political issues, do we replace petitioning with non-violent direct action, etc. For these—and if there were differences regarding categorization, we also addressed that first—we established a “super-majority” (2/3s, 3/4s, etc., affirmative) required to pass these items in the face of no consensus before addressing the issue itself. Requiring a pre-defined “super majority” before getting into the discussion indicated this was a serious issue, while allowing it to be discussed in detail, prohibited much “maneuvering” to get a simple majority vote, and meant enough people desired it so as to preclude organizational splitting. Thus, this took a conservative approach to organizational change, not destroying a successful organization, while keeping the organization from being immobilized because we didn’t have complete consensus. This approach, or something similar, I suggest, deserves people’s consideration.
In short, what I’m suggesting herein is that we further develop our political understandings and unity, while moving towards being a movement of unified small groups instead of unaffiliated individuals. This would enhance our common understandings and our ability to present them to others, while increasing our social cohesion, providing us with more internal social and political support as we move forward. This, obviously, would be done with the idea of coalescing these affinity groups into larger and larger Occupy encampments, and a stronger and more powerful Occupy Movement.
It is this third level—developing social power—that truly threatens the 1%. They don’t appreciate our mobilizations, and they don’t like the symbolic nature of our mobilizations, but they fear our developing such social power that we can force them to do what we want; in other words, they fear the very democracy that they have long told us our country is based upon.
It’s our “job” to make this democracy real, through building strong, unified and determined organizations that can work together with people everywhere, in the US and around the world. And pushing onward….
Kim Scipes is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Purdue University North Central in Westville, IN. His latest book, AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?, has recently been published in paperback. For details, links to reviews, and 20% off paperback price, go to http://faculty.pnc.edu/kscipes/book.htm. Scipes also has a chapter in the soon-to-be published book, It Started in Wisconsin.