October132013

roqayya:

Twitter responds to EBT shutdown with unhinged classism and racism; the privileged take to the #EBT hashtag and berate the poor for being, well, poor.

From demands that those on food stamps “sell their iPhones for food” to questions regarding “how many babies” women on EBT have “so they can get EBT benefits” — the hashtag is filled with grotesque jabs at poor minority groups (specifically Black people)

(Source: spilleddiaspora)

October62013
January12013

I once dated a writer and

Writers are forgetful,

but they remember everything.
They forget appointments and anniversaries,
but remember what you wore,
how you smelled,
on your first date…
They remember every story you’ve ever told them -
like ever,
but forget what you’ve just said.
They don’t remember to water the plants
or take out the trash,
but they don’t forget how
to make you laugh.

Writers are forgetful
because
they’re busy
remembering
the important things.

(Source: ofheightsandhollows, via therelentlessdemise)

December42012
so much love.

so much love.

(Source: chicagodebtstories)

November162012
10AM
thepeoplesrecord:

The “McDonaldization” of Justice
November 14, 2012
Between 1925 to 1974, the U.S had an incarceration rate between 90 and 150 per 100,000 people.  Today, that rate is seven times that. Researcher Matthew DeMichele, Ph.D and Postdoctoral Scholar at the Penn State Justice Center, likens our current justice system to fast-food restaurants, “in which quality goes out the window, and quantity takes over. Why is this and how did it come to be this way? Below, DeMichele discusses his research work to answer to that question as well as provide effective alternatives to methods of mass incarceration: 
—-
DeMichele: The U.S. incarcerates more people than any Western democracy. Our incarceration rates are roughly seven to ten times larger than other similar countries. In fact, we have an incarceration rate over 700 per 100,000 adults, whereas Australia, Canada, and Germany have rates between 90 and 150 per 100,000 in the population. Strangely, the incarceration rate in the U.S. remained around 120 per 100,000 from 1925 to 1974. Then, something happened to cause a drastic change to how we punish. No longer were law breakers to be rehabilitated or reintegrated into society. No longer were criminal justice officials expected to find ways to alleviate incarceration. Instead, the criminal justice system focused on efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and managerialism. And, to some extent, the justice system adopted the mentality of fast-food restaurants in which quality goes out the window, and quantity takes over. Simultaneous to the McDonalidization of justice, the U.S. also experienced drastic shifts in the treatment of working class populations with the discrediting of unions and labor protections.
Some years ago I began studying why the U.S. incarcerates so many more people compared to other countries and why we lock-up so many more now than in the past. Ironically, I was surprised to find that crime had not increased during this time, but rather decreased. So, I knew other mechanisms were at play, but what could be driving such an approach to justice? I looked at our legal system and how it is embedded within a particular political-economic culture.
Some countries choose to incarcerate, whereas others seek to treat the underlying causes of crime as a manifestation of social problems through welfare, education, and vocational training.
An inherent feature of capitalist societies is that there are poor people. In fact, capitalism is an economic approach that relies on income inequality to motivate the public. This approach allows some to amass great wealth, develops a strong middle class, and supports innovation, but it also promotes some of the largest income gaps in the world. All governments have approaches to dealing with individuals that fall to the bottom of the economic ladder. These people can be thought of as William Julius Wilson’s underclass in which they are trapped in a feedback look of poverty, criminality and substance abuse. Some countries choose to incarcerate, whereas others seek to treat the underlying causes of crime as a manifestation of social problems through welfare, education, and vocational training.
Of course, poverty is not unique to the U.S. What is unique to the U.S. is how we have decided to treat our underclass. We have decided to demonize, criminalize, and institutionalize large sections of our population. Policy choices have been made to limit public education, welfare, and ameliorative approaches for the underclass. Instead, we have built more jails and prisons, hired more police officers, and passed laws for longer sentences.
I argue that in the U.S. there is a relatively unique way of thinking about crime, criminals, and crime control. This way of thinking encourages a high degree of subjectivity in legal decisions. U.S. prosecutors have an unheard of amount of discretion compared to other countries. Similarly, U.S. judges have little oversight and tremendous flexibility when making decisions. These may sound like small things, but they allow prosecutors and judges – many of which are elected – to make decisions with little evidence of their effectiveness. And, they are situated within a social narrative dedicated to punitiveness in which each legal actor tries to be more punitive than the next. This becomes most obvious during election cycles in which prosecutors and judges profess their commitment to incarceration. No doubt this is something that appeals to voters, especially because most of the people that have been incarcerated cannot vote due to felony restrictions.
Legal culture alone has not made the incarceration boom possible. Instead, our legal system is embedded within a political-economic context in which conservative politics have replaced the once dominant social contract. At least since the mid-1970s, the U.S. political environment has shifted toward the right. This shift has altered the nature of the right-left divide in which, as Paul Pierson documented in Off-Center: A Republican Revolution, centrist political expectations have moved toward the right. Many may wonder what this has to do with incarceration. First, the adversarial nature of our criminal justice system ensures that the poorest of in our society are most susceptible to punishment. Second, working class protections such as powerful unions, wage negotiations, and welfare programs have been severely cut, if not eliminated. Third, mental health facilities have been closed, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics tells us that a bulk of jail inmates have been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Combining a legal culture favoring the wealthy, a society that limits worker protections, and the incarceration of the mentally ill creates a powder keg in which mass incarceration is nearly inevitable.
The question now is how to do we stop? How do we shift from a mass incarceration society to a society that consciously works to reduce the inequality of our justice system? I should point out that I do not have all the answers, and, if I did, they could not be spelled out so clearly in this short essay. However, what I do know is that the mass incarceration of adults, of children, and of the mentally ill is a result of policies. It is not an unintended consequence. No, mass incarceration has occurred because policymakers have passed laws that require long sentences, they have dedicated money to hiring more police, they have broadened prosecutorial discretion, among other changes. And, let us not forget that alternatives are available. Instead, of building prisons, we could build schools. Instead, of hiring more cops, we could hire more teachers. And, instead of sending the mentally ill to jails and prisons, we could be dedicated to understanding mental illness and treating it like any other medical condition.
There is no scientific evidence supporting prison as a way to improve people.
These are only a few policy suggestions, but what is really needed is a new way to think about crime, criminals, and crime control. Some may think I am suggesting that we go “soft” on violent criminals. I am not. Some people do very bad things and need to be separated from society. But, we need to restrain the use of institutionalization and use it as sparingly as possible. We also must keep in mind that when a child commits such an act, the neighborhood, community, and society in which they live are responsible. When children commit heinous crimes, and a few do, we must ask: how did our education, welfare, and child protection services fail these children? There is no scientific evidence supporting prison as a way to improve people. Just as we know that eating too much fast-food leads to obesity and a host of health problems, we also know that a fast-food approach to justice fosters a host of social problems.
Source

thepeoplesrecord:

The “McDonaldization” of Justice

November 14, 2012

Between 1925 to 1974, the U.S had an incarceration rate between 90 and 150 per 100,000 people.  Today, that rate is seven times that. Researcher Matthew DeMichele, Ph.D and Postdoctoral Scholar at the Penn State Justice Center, likens our current justice system to fast-food restaurants, “in which quality goes out the window, and quantity takes over. Why is this and how did it come to be this way? Below, DeMichele discusses his research work to answer to that question as well as provide effective alternatives to methods of mass incarceration: 

—-

DeMichele: The U.S. incarcerates more people than any Western democracy. Our incarceration rates are roughly seven to ten times larger than other similar countries. In fact, we have an incarceration rate over 700 per 100,000 adults, whereas Australia, Canada, and Germany have rates between 90 and 150 per 100,000 in the population. Strangely, the incarceration rate in the U.S. remained around 120 per 100,000 from 1925 to 1974. Then, something happened to cause a drastic change to how we punish. No longer were law breakers to be rehabilitated or reintegrated into society. No longer were criminal justice officials expected to find ways to alleviate incarceration. Instead, the criminal justice system focused on efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and managerialism. And, to some extent, the justice system adopted the mentality of fast-food restaurants in which quality goes out the window, and quantity takes over. Simultaneous to the McDonalidization of justice, the U.S. also experienced drastic shifts in the treatment of working class populations with the discrediting of unions and labor protections.

Some years ago I began studying why the U.S. incarcerates so many more people compared to other countries and why we lock-up so many more now than in the past. Ironically, I was surprised to find that crime had not increased during this time, but rather decreased. So, I knew other mechanisms were at play, but what could be driving such an approach to justice? I looked at our legal system and how it is embedded within a particular political-economic culture.

Some countries choose to incarcerate, whereas others seek to treat the underlying causes of crime as a manifestation of social problems through welfare, education, and vocational training.

An inherent feature of capitalist societies is that there are poor people. In fact, capitalism is an economic approach that relies on income inequality to motivate the public. This approach allows some to amass great wealth, develops a strong middle class, and supports innovation, but it also promotes some of the largest income gaps in the world. All governments have approaches to dealing with individuals that fall to the bottom of the economic ladder. These people can be thought of as William Julius Wilson’s underclass in which they are trapped in a feedback look of poverty, criminality and substance abuse. Some countries choose to incarcerate, whereas others seek to treat the underlying causes of crime as a manifestation of social problems through welfare, education, and vocational training.

Of course, poverty is not unique to the U.S. What is unique to the U.S. is how we have decided to treat our underclass. We have decided to demonize, criminalize, and institutionalize large sections of our population. Policy choices have been made to limit public education, welfare, and ameliorative approaches for the underclass. Instead, we have built more jails and prisons, hired more police officers, and passed laws for longer sentences.

I argue that in the U.S. there is a relatively unique way of thinking about crime, criminals, and crime control. This way of thinking encourages a high degree of subjectivity in legal decisions. U.S. prosecutors have an unheard of amount of discretion compared to other countries. Similarly, U.S. judges have little oversight and tremendous flexibility when making decisions. These may sound like small things, but they allow prosecutors and judges – many of which are elected – to make decisions with little evidence of their effectiveness. And, they are situated within a social narrative dedicated to punitiveness in which each legal actor tries to be more punitive than the next. This becomes most obvious during election cycles in which prosecutors and judges profess their commitment to incarceration. No doubt this is something that appeals to voters, especially because most of the people that have been incarcerated cannot vote due to felony restrictions.

Legal culture alone has not made the incarceration boom possible. Instead, our legal system is embedded within a political-economic context in which conservative politics have replaced the once dominant social contract. At least since the mid-1970s, the U.S. political environment has shifted toward the right. This shift has altered the nature of the right-left divide in which, as Paul Pierson documented in Off-Center: A Republican Revolution, centrist political expectations have moved toward the right. Many may wonder what this has to do with incarceration. First, the adversarial nature of our criminal justice system ensures that the poorest of in our society are most susceptible to punishment. Second, working class protections such as powerful unions, wage negotiations, and welfare programs have been severely cut, if not eliminated. Third, mental health facilities have been closed, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics tells us that a bulk of jail inmates have been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Combining a legal culture favoring the wealthy, a society that limits worker protections, and the incarceration of the mentally ill creates a powder keg in which mass incarceration is nearly inevitable.

The question now is how to do we stop? How do we shift from a mass incarceration society to a society that consciously works to reduce the inequality of our justice system? I should point out that I do not have all the answers, and, if I did, they could not be spelled out so clearly in this short essay. However, what I do know is that the mass incarceration of adults, of children, and of the mentally ill is a result of policies. It is not an unintended consequence. No, mass incarceration has occurred because policymakers have passed laws that require long sentences, they have dedicated money to hiring more police, they have broadened prosecutorial discretion, among other changes. And, let us not forget that alternatives are available. Instead, of building prisons, we could build schools. Instead, of hiring more cops, we could hire more teachers. And, instead of sending the mentally ill to jails and prisons, we could be dedicated to understanding mental illness and treating it like any other medical condition.

There is no scientific evidence supporting prison as a way to improve people.

These are only a few policy suggestions, but what is really needed is a new way to think about crime, criminals, and crime control. Some may think I am suggesting that we go “soft” on violent criminals. I am not. Some people do very bad things and need to be separated from society. But, we need to restrain the use of institutionalization and use it as sparingly as possible. We also must keep in mind that when a child commits such an act, the neighborhood, community, and society in which they live are responsible. When children commit heinous crimes, and a few do, we must ask: how did our education, welfare, and child protection services fail these children? There is no scientific evidence supporting prison as a way to improve people. Just as we know that eating too much fast-food leads to obesity and a host of health problems, we also know that a fast-food approach to justice fosters a host of social problems.

Source

(Source: thepeoplesrecord, via eggznrice)

November152012
andystepanian:

Help the Strike Debt’s #RollingJubilee go viral.  Help forgive millions of dollars of debt from countless people drowning in their circumstances.
Find out more here.

andystepanian:

Help the Strike Debt’s #RollingJubilee go viral.  Help forgive millions of dollars of debt from countless people drowning in their circumstances.

Find out more here.

(via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

12PM
November142012

thepeoplesrecord:

Europe rises up: Day of anti-austerity rage grips the continent
November 14, 2012

Flights and trains were canceled across Europe on Wednesday as thousands of workers took to the streets to protest austerity measures aimed at reducing massive government deficits and boosting shaky economies.

“We all know that reforms, layoffs and cuts will continue but maybe we manage to get them cut (more slowly),” said Francisco Vallejo, 41, an administrative assistant in Madrid. “The only strike that is useless is the one we don’t follow.”

Unions had called for strikes across Europe to protest the trimming of government-funded salaries and pension benefits, which had risen dramatically over the years and led to significant debt problems in some countries.

The call to strike was heeded by many in Italy and Spain; but union workers in Britain, Germany and Denmark held rallies instead of walking off the job. Transport hubs were at standstill across southern Europe and in Brussels as airports and train stations shut down.

In Portugal, all trains and subways shut down and about 200 flights to and from the country were canceled. Hospitals operated on a skeleton staff while thousands of government workers including most in the justice system and trash collectors failed to go to work.

In Spain, some television channels went off the air and assembly lines at the big union-dominated factories shut down. Spanish unions claimed that 9 million Spaniards stayed at home, or 77% of the workforce.

Much of Spain’s school system was closed and more than half of its hospital employees went on strike.

In Barcelona, high-end stores such as Gucci and Chanel on the Paseo de Gracia closed for the day. In the neighborhoods, only a few bakeries and grocery shores dared to open, intermittently closing when they saw trouble.

In Greece, the strike shut down the subway system for part of the day. About 5,000 Greeks protested in Athens. Port workers blocked the entrance to the Ministry of Defense demanding back wages, they said.

In Italy, about 60,000 turned out in Rome. The president of Rome province, Nicola Zingaretti, condemned “groups of rioters” among peaceful protesters. Zingaretti said a climate of “aggressiveness and intolerance” risked sullying Rome’s image abroad following reports of protesters yelling anti-Semitic slogans outside a Rome synagogue.

The so-called austerity measures comprise spending cuts, tax hikes and changes to labor laws to allow businesses to better adjust to shaky economies. But several governments and many workers worry that the measures may worsen economies by driving down individual incomes.

The protests Wednesday brought out people who blame the economic system as a whole.

“They’ve only just started cuts but they are pretty draconian already,” said Andrew Burgin, European officer for the Coalition of Resistance in London, which organized a rally outside the European Commission offices there. “I think this is the beginning of a new movement. It will be a day remembers in history as the beginning of a pan-European movement, possibly an international movement, against capitalism.”

But European leaders, such as Angela Merkel of Germany, says the problem is the massive debts piled up by individual nations, many of which like Greece and Portugal spent beyond revenues on public projects, expanding welfare and government jobs, and generous public benefits.

Greece and Spain, which have been hit hardest by an economic slowdown and debt crisis that has swept up several nations across the continent, are experiencing unemployment rates of more than 25%. Both countries passed measures recently to change labor laws that protected employees from layoffs and that businesses say prevented them from hiring or innovating.

The austerity measures are supposed to improve the economy over time but in the short-term people in Greece and Spain especially are experiencing curtailment of government health care, reductions in their pensions and salaries and higher taxes.

Source
Photo 1: Madrid, Spain
Photo 2: Google map locations of all general strikes in Europe today
Photo 3: London, UK
Photo 4: Paris, France

(Source: thepeoplesrecord, via bedangeroustogether)

7PM
israelfacts:

A Palestinian carries a wounded woman into a hospital after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on November 14, 2012. Israel’s latest attacks on Gaza have killed 10 people so far, as aerial and sea bombardment continue into the night. The dead include an 11-month-old baby and a seven-year-old girl.
(Photograph: Reuters / Saleh Salem)

israelfacts:

A Palestinian carries a wounded woman into a hospital after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on November 14, 2012. Israel’s latest attacks on Gaza have killed 10 people so far, as aerial and sea bombardment continue into the night. The dead include an 11-month-old baby and a seven-year-old girl.

(Photograph: Reuters / Saleh Salem)

(Source: thebowspring, via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

4PM

TELEPHONE ISRAEL CONSULATES, TELL THEM TO STOP SHELLING GAZA

TELL THEM TO STOP ATTACKING GAZA:
USA Atlanta Consulate General of Israel 1.404.487.6500
USA Boston Consulate General of Israel 1.617.535.0200
USA Chicago Consulate General of Israel : 1.312.380-8861
USA Houston Consulate General of Israel 1.713.627.3780
USA Los Angeles Consulate General of Israel 1.323.852.5500
USA Miami Consulate General of Israel 1.305.925.9400
USA New York Consulate General of Israel 1.212.499.5000
USA New York, UN Israel Mission to the United Nations 1.212.499.5510
USA Philadelphia Consulate General of Israel 1.215. 977.7600
USA San Francisco Consulate General of Israel 1.415.844.7510
USA Washington Embassy of Israel 1.202.364.5500

for more information, see: http://rt.com/news/gaza-israel-hamas-attack-687/

livestream: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hanissalamah

search #gazaunderattack #gaza on twitter

(massive thanks to Richard for finding these numbers! <3)

4PM
October292012

Another Pacific Northwest Activist faces imprisonment for noncooperation with grand jury

'Maddy Pfeiffer was served a subpoena in Olympia, WA last week. They will be resisting the grand jury and will not be testifying. Please come out and support them on Wednesday November 7th at 830AM! Their hearing is at 9AM. Please be there BEFORE 9AM so you can be there to support them BEFORE they go into the courthouse.

REMEMBER: It is likely they’ll be taken into “custody” after their hearing.

Please bring anything you can to contribute: food, coffee, umbrellas, BANNERS, FLIERS, SIGNS, megaphones, etc.

SOLIDARITY WITH ALL THOSE WHO RESIST THE GRAND JURY.

For more info -> saynothing.info & nopoliticalrepression.wordpress.com

If you want more info on grand juries in general check the “Resources” page of the Saynothing.info site.

P.S. This event is not organized by the Wildcat collective or space- just using the facebook to get the message out.

Maddy’s Statement regarding their subpeona and imminent imprisonment is as follows:

“On October 25th, the day before my 23rd birthday, two FBI agents wearing ill-fitting khakis and too much gel in their hair, served me a subpoena for 9am on November 7th. I knew my fate right away: 18 months in SeaTac Federal Detention Center. Matt, Kteeo and Leah have all been imprisoned for their refusal and I will be the next. Despite the urgings of lawyers, agents and judges, I only have one option: non-cooperation. Any other option is unthinkable.
I am being asked to testify before a Grand Jury on November 7th and will likely be detained on that date for refusing to cooperate. The vultures of the state will try to imprison my comrades and I until we give in. We will never give in.

From so many different perspectives, for so many reasons, snitching is never an option. I will never betray the people I care about, the ideas which I hold dear, or the commitments I have made. I will never give any information about crimes, should I have any knowledge of them nor will I give information about my personal relationships. I will never cooperate with this or any attempt to stop struggle. I will never cooperate with the systems of control which I loathe. If the federal government chooses to imprison me for my refusal then so be it. I expect no less from them.

The official reason the state gives for imprisoning those who refuse to cooperate is to coerce testimony. If they know anything about me or my friends they know that this will never work. Some have said that this Grand Jury is about trying to repress people’s political opinions and free speech and no doubt this is true. My subpoena states that I am being asked to testify about events that took place on May 1st The state is trying to use broken windows as a reason to ruin peoples lives. This is absurd and I will oppose it to the fullest. This life ruining system which they call “justice” is organized to defend property and capitalism. This system is against everything I believe in.

My imminent imprisonment is an attempt to disrupt struggle against domination in all its forms. What the vultures cannot understand is that attempts to repress this struggle will only embolden it, whether we are inside the walls of the Federal Detention Center or in the streets. The growing list of solidarity actions, from St. Louis to France, demonstrates an inspiring continuity in this regard.

In silence, we roar!
Matthew “Maddy” Pfeiffer” via http://www.twitlonger.com/show/jqp2qg’

retweet, reblog, share, inform, fight back.

October262012
12AM
thepeoplesrecord:

Can the broad left grow together? Can we create ways to meet the monumental challenges that the American left faces today? 
October 23, 2012
The far left is continuing to grow in North America and around the world. From the conversations we’ve been having with lifetime leftists and activists around this country that much is clear. People like leftist economist Richard Wolff and Baltimore community leader &amp; Black Panther Reverend Annie Chambers are telling us that the left in America &amp; around the world is growing at a rate they’ve never seen before. Things are possible now that haven’t ever been possible before in their lifetimes. You’d have to go back to the Depression-era left to find a time in North America with a left as swelling as ours is today, they say. That’s inspiring. 
With capitalism in crisis and an empire stretched to capacity, high unemployment and low prospects for a future for the indebted youth, we have unprecedented opportunities and unprecedented challenges on the left today. 
One of those challenges is the tendency of the left to fracture, disagree and eventually self-destruct. There are many factors that influence a sectarian left; any group of people who desperately want to create a new, better kind of world but genuinely disagree about the means by which we might get there are going to have passionate quarrels. The differences between progressives, anarchists, communists and socialists are many but so are the similarities. And it’s in that similar space - the desire to destroy corporate (and for many, capitalist) influence - that we can work together and grow together.
Another pressing challenge for the left is the need for spaces in an alternative society - the need for leftist organizations, collectives, co-operatives, and Workers Self Directed Enterprises to prepare room for growing numbers of people newly disenfranchised with the system of capitalism, who need a place to plug into that doesn’t just suck energy from them, but spaces that also nourish, empower and encourage them in the fight against capitalism. We need welcoming institutions that comfort and educate those who are broken from the horrors of capitalism and institutions that simultaneously channel energy into attacking the system that is at the root of the world’s most horrific problems.
One such institution working on just that is Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse in Baltimore. It consciously aims to meet both of the above needs through collective decision-making, left-infrastructure building, and by building spaces that are inclusive to and encourage dialogues among the broad left.  Red Emma’s isn’t your typical bookstore/café; it welcomes the homeless, provides free computer use for the community, provides anti-capitalist education and hosts leftist readings &amp; conferences. 
But it isn’t your typical anarchist bookstore either. Red Emma’s expressly aims to bridge the gap between Marxist-socialists and anarchists, and all others among the fractured left. When asked what concerned her most about the left, collective founding member Kate Khatib said the fear of sectarianism was what kept her up at night. It was important to her and to many members of the collective, to focus on projects like Red Emma’s and the Baltimore Free School (one of the divergent projects of Red Emma’s) that aim to appeal to the broad left. 
And Red Emma’s is growing, allowing those getting involved to plug into a community of leftists, to stay educated and to make a small amount of money in order to live to fight another day. Creating sustainable infrastructure on the left is at the core of what Red Emma’s hopes to accomplish.
What Red Emma’s is building, in the same vein as the movement Democracy at Work is building, answers some of the biggest problems on the left today. 
The People’s Record also hopes to play a part in building infrastructure for disenfranchised citizens and aims to aid the fight for a new united left through a few different projects we’ve been working on. Please take a look at what we’re doing and contact us if you have any interest in getting involved with any of our projects.
-Robert

thepeoplesrecord:

Can the broad left grow together? Can we create ways to meet the monumental challenges that the American left faces today?

October 23, 2012

The far left is continuing to grow in North America and around the world. From the conversations we’ve been having with lifetime leftists and activists around this country that much is clear. People like leftist economist Richard Wolff and Baltimore community leader & Black Panther Reverend Annie Chambers are telling us that the left in America & around the world is growing at a rate they’ve never seen before. Things are possible now that haven’t ever been possible before in their lifetimes. You’d have to go back to the Depression-era left to find a time in North America with a left as swelling as ours is today, they say. That’s inspiring.

With capitalism in crisis and an empire stretched to capacity, high unemployment and low prospects for a future for the indebted youth, we have unprecedented opportunities and unprecedented challenges on the left today.

One of those challenges is the tendency of the left to fracture, disagree and eventually self-destruct. There are many factors that influence a sectarian left; any group of people who desperately want to create a new, better kind of world but genuinely disagree about the means by which we might get there are going to have passionate quarrels. The differences between progressives, anarchists, communists and socialists are many but so are the similarities. And it’s in that similar space - the desire to destroy corporate (and for many, capitalist) influence - that we can work together and grow together.

Another pressing challenge for the left is the need for spaces in an alternative society - the need for leftist organizations, collectives, co-operatives, and Workers Self Directed Enterprises to prepare room for growing numbers of people newly disenfranchised with the system of capitalism, who need a place to plug into that doesn’t just suck energy from them, but spaces that also nourish, empower and encourage them in the fight against capitalism. We need welcoming institutions that comfort and educate those who are broken from the horrors of capitalism and institutions that simultaneously channel energy into attacking the system that is at the root of the world’s most horrific problems.

One such institution working on just that is Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse in Baltimore. It consciously aims to meet both of the above needs through collective decision-making, left-infrastructure building, and by building spaces that are inclusive to and encourage dialogues among the broad left.  Red Emma’s isn’t your typical bookstore/café; it welcomes the homeless, provides free computer use for the community, provides anti-capitalist education and hosts leftist readings & conferences.

But it isn’t your typical anarchist bookstore either. Red Emma’s expressly aims to bridge the gap between Marxist-socialists and anarchists, and all others among the fractured left. When asked what concerned her most about the left, collective founding member Kate Khatib said the fear of sectarianism was what kept her up at night. It was important to her and to many members of the collective, to focus on projects like Red Emma’s and the Baltimore Free School (one of the divergent projects of Red Emma’s) that aim to appeal to the broad left.

And Red Emma’s is growing, allowing those getting involved to plug into a community of leftists, to stay educated and to make a small amount of money in order to live to fight another day. Creating sustainable infrastructure on the left is at the core of what Red Emma’s hopes to accomplish.

What Red Emma’s is building, in the same vein as the movement Democracy at Work is building, answers some of the biggest problems on the left today.

The People’s Record also hopes to play a part in building infrastructure for disenfranchised citizens and aims to aid the fight for a new united left through a few different projects we’ve been working on. Please take a look at what we’re doing and contact us if you have any interest in getting involved with any of our projects.

-Robert

(via thekidnamedjosh)

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