Category Archives: English

Posts in english

Democratic Centralism in Practice and Idea: A critical evaluation

166968585450272133-S. Nappalos

The terrain is changing beneath our feet. Since the collapse of the majority of the “official Communist” regimes, the world has witnessed both events and ideas that have undermined the former dominant thinking within the left. The Zapatistas, Argentina in 2001, South Korean workers movements, Oaxaca in 2006, the struggles around anti-globalization, and Greece’s series of insurrectionary moments have increasingly presented challenges to traditional left answers to movements and organization. In previous eras Marxist-Leninism was the nexus which all currents by default had to respond to either in agreement or critique. Today, increasingly anarchist practices and theory have come to play this role.

As a member of an anarchist political organization, a friend once told me I in fact was practicing democratic centralism. This was perplexing, because the group had no resembling structures, practices, or the associated behaviors of democratic centralism. However, I was told that since we debated, came to common decisions, and acted on that collective democracy, we were in fact democratic centralist. This kind of productive confusion led to questions about the concept, and why the target of democratic centralism has shifted. This move, the shifting conceptual territory of core concepts of a certain orthodoxy, comes up repeatedly not only with democratic centralism, but also surrounding ideas like crisis, dialectics, the State, and class. The resulting cognitive dissonance caused me to investigate attempts at reinvigorating the concept of democratic centralism (democratic centralist revisionism), and understand truly what it is, where it came from, and how it has been practiced. Continue reading

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Normal Means

This story comes to us from MAS member SN Nappalos about experiences working in healthcare. —

Fabiola closed her eyes. On the television, a preacher spoke a prayer while the patient rested quietly in the bed. That day Fabiola was fired, or terminated as management called it.

The supervisor crept in quietly, and reported finding Fabiola with her eyes closed. He found a witness and returned to see her standing at the sink, the patient still asleep. Security guards entered the room shortly, and she was escorted from the building. Continue reading

Event: 1/17/13 7pm Seasol: organizing as tenants and workers

On January 17th, 2013, MAS will host a talk with a Seattle Solidarity organizer at 7PM at Sweat Records, 5505 Northeast 2nd Avenue  Miami, FL 33137

Seattle Solidarity or SeaSol for short, is a network of workers and tenants that use direct action to solve problems at work and in housing. The success of SeaSol in fighting back against assaults on working people has led to victory repeatedly and it’s a model that’s spreading throughout the US and World. This is a free event and all are welcome.
The facebook event is here.

Cake

We’re featuring a story told by Monica Kostas, a contributor to MAS, about experiences in her workplace. Enjoy!

Start the Engine! First stop: Getting the cake.

Some time ago my boss decided to stop all birthday celebrations and parties of any sort, saying it was “too distracting” for the workers. I’m just now passing my six-month mark, so I haven’t been working there long enough to have seen these parties. The only decorations in the office where I work, that save the place from looking like a hospital or asylum, are these really crowded 30” x 40” collages with close ups of all the employees that attended previous end-of-the-year parties. There’s a few of these along the walls that lead to the hall where my office is. People often stop to look at them and gossip about ex-employees, or how much weight they’ve gained since this and that picture, and so on.

Since I’m sort of new (compared to the bulk of people who’ve worked there for several years), whenever someone catches me staring at the pictures they always take the time to name our co-workers, their plus-ones, and all the extended families that went to those parties. Then they tell me how drunk they got at whichever event, and that’s always followed by some funny anecdote. They really seem to miss those gatherings; I can tell by the amount of smiles in the pictures that something changed since the present boss took over, and sure enough they talk about that all the time. Continue reading

Maple Spring: Interviews with Canadian Organizers

Over the past few months, Canada has witnessed a number of pitched battles around the most recent bout of cuts and austerity measures. In Toronto, workers staged a spontaneous wildcat in response to workers fired for mocking a government official responsible for measures attacking organized workers resulting in shutdowns of the airport on a broad scale. This comes in the context of a number of attacks on workers In Quebec, attempts to raise tuition and attacks the higher education system has led to months of general social unrest, strikes, and actions that continues today.

We feature two interviews recorded in May of 2012 in Montreal, Canada with organizers active in these struggles. Richard St. Pierre is a lifelong militant who grew up in Quebec, and has been active in working class struggles and revolutionary work for over 30 years. We discuss his experiences as a miner, in struggles around social reproduction, and the student struggle in Quebec.

Second, we feature a discussion of the world crisis as seen in Toronto with Ashley, a member of Common Cause Ontario and organizer with the graduate students union, amongst other social struggles. She discusses challenges in the crisis, the airport walkout, and the tasks of revolutionaries in social struggles today.

Fighting Walmart in Midtown: The Need to Go Beyond Glorifying “Smallness” and Ethical Consumerism

by P. Barbanegra- Recently in Miami, a showdown has been brewing between a group of activist, artist, business owners, and some residents of Midtown over the building of a new Walmart. They’ve started a campaign called Save Midtown, and have embarked on a mission to stop Walmart from setting up shop in the trendy Miami neighborhood. So far, they’ve succeeded in beating back the retail giant, whose application for securing a right to change current city planning and zoning laws to allow them to build loading docks along North Miami Avenue, a busy pedestrian and vehicular street, was rejected by the City of Miami’s Planning & Zoning Appeals Board. While this ruling can be categorized as a temporary victory against one of the most powerful emblems of the neoliberal age, the way this campaign is being framed is very problematic to say the least. Even though some of those involved with the Save Midtown campaign rightly take Walmart to task for its deplorable environmental and labor practices at home and abroad, there’s very little discussion about what makes Walmart so popular amongst the working class and low-income patrons of the store, and a real blind spot about what can be done to change that outside of ethical consumerism.

The Save Midtown website gives numerous reasons for why Walmart would be harmful to the Midtown community, but perhaps the most ironic one would have to be that Walmart would change the character of the neighborhood; an example of the proverbial teapot calling the kettle black if I’ve ever heard one. The Midtown project has been challenged by housing rights and anti-gentrification groups for some time, arguing that creations like Midtown-whose developers unabashedly admit to trying to recreate the “New York’s SoHo district with a Miami twist,” SoHo being a model for gentrification- are part of a social phenomenon by wealthy and more affluent people to reclaim urban areas while pushing out the long-term working class or low income residents of such neighborhoods, many of which are Black or Latino. Yet, aside from this rather laughable at best, cynical at worst, accusation that Walmart would change the “character” of the neighborhood-which I can only take to mean that it would attract the unhip, poor people that used to populate the area before the trendy lofts and chic restaurants came around-the majority of the reasons for opposing Walmart by Save Midtown tend to fall along such lines. Continue reading

Justice for Trayvon Martin Now!

As winter turns into spring, things are heating up in Miami. The murder of Trayvon Martin, a Miami Gardens native, by a neighborhood watch vigilante in Sanford, Florida has brought systemic racism into the eyes of every American. While the details and responses are still unfolding, Miami is taking to the streets to stand against the injustice that pervades society and penetrates communities. Thursday, hundreds of students in Carol City walked out and flooded the streets in Solidarity with Trayvon. In New York and other cities, hundreds participated in a “Million hoodie march” for Trayvon. Students at FA&M, FAU, Barry, FIU, and others are coordinating more actions as we write this. Right now is a time to coordinate and publicize these autonomous actions widely, and take action.

Offering a premature analysis would not be helpful, and instead we want to offer some resources for people in understanding this senseless killing. The situation is made worse by the fact that it was simply a community member and not the police who murdered an innocent black youth. This shows how deep the interwoven system of racial oppression and class exploitation penetrate not merely our communities but also the thoughts of Americans. The radio program Against the Grain did an episode on the rise of the racist prison complex, and the role of the punitive state in our lives. Miami’s PowerU did a recent video on the school to jails pipeline. It’s worth restating that Trayvon was no criminal, and his murderer was not paid by the state to kill. When people willing murder their as vigilantes, it raises deeper questions around the racism and state that penetrates society and our lives. We need to reflect and organize against a society that criminalizes and encourages attacks on oppressed and exploited people.