New Issue!

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Our January/February issue is finally out–sent to e-subscribers a couple of days ago, and in the mail to print subscribers.  We most recently posted David Bacon’s contribution to the issue, What Trump Can and Can’t Do to Immigrants, especially timely given Trump’s recent executive orders.

Here is the issue’s editorial note:

Arise!

If you’ve just awakened from a Rip Van Winkle-like sleep, you should probably stay lying down for a little while. You’re in for a shock.

A presidential candidate who slandered Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists, claimed a Mexican-American judge was inherently biased against him, called for a ban on Muslims coming to the United States, called for compulsory registration of Muslims in the country, boasted of sexually assaulting women, insinuated that gun advocates might assassinate his opponent, and pledged to abide by the election result “if I win” … was elected president.

Here’s another shocker. Who among us expected to hear the Republican nominee for president—just four years after the party’s nominee was private-equity mogul Mitt Romney—say the following, as Donald Trump did in a October 2016 speech? “The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests. They partner with these people who don’t have your good in mind. … It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”

The leading figures in the mainstream of the Democratic Party certainly did not expect an adversary raging against corporate globalization (even with the anti-Semitic dog whistles audible in Trump’s denunciations of the “global elite”). For decades, leading Democrats had bought into the neoliberal economic agenda, steering away from policies that could get them branded as “anti-business.” They derided criticism from the left as juvenile and quixotic, not dreaming that they would be outflanked on the right by a populism like Trump’s.

The analysis by liberal and progressive commentators since the election has focused largely on why Trump won and what it says about the country. We have to remember, however, that election results are not revelations of the national soul—especially not under the United States’ non-majoritarian presidential election system. The overt racism, nativism, and misogyny of Trump, his allies, and supporters are important facts about the United States today, but they are not the singular truth about the country or its people.

Yet there is nothing to be gained by minimizing what Trump has conjured. He tapped into widespread sentiments of grievance in a manner typical of right-wing populists: simultaneously directing his supporters’ ire at (some of) the wealthy and powerful and (some of) the poor and marginalized—blaming both, jointly, for the ruin of the country. The people Trump speaks to and claims to speak for are overwhelmingly white, predominantly male, and the grievances to which he gives voice are not simply those of workers and poor people in general. They are, rather, the particular grievances of those who recoil at gradually sinking into a mass they see as beneath them.

The articles in this issue attempt to dig deeply into both what has gotten us to this point, and what are possible ways forward.

Our cover article for the issue, by political scientist Sasha Breger Bush, argues that what we’re seeing is not the end of neoliberalism, but rather its transformation, from globalized neoliberalism into “national neoliberalism,” and its culmination: a corporate capture of government now more complete than ever.

Steve Pressman and Gerald Friedman both add depth to our understanding of Trump and what he represents. Pressman explains Trump in light of the squeeze on “middle class” incomes and the rise of economic inequality. Friedman adds to his previous analysis of American nativism (the November/December 2016 cover story) an “Economy in Numbers” on U.S. immigration in the current era.

David Bacon and Frank Ackerman, meanwhile, turn from retrospect to prospect. What does the coming period hold in store? Bacon focuses on immigration policy, noting the constraints under which a Trump administration will operate. Even in an era of increased border enforcement and deportations nationwide, Bacon argues, immigration policy will continue to be driven by employers’ need for a cheap and controllable labor force.

Meanwhile, Ackerman looks at the prospect for meaningful climate action, even with the Denier-in-Chief in the White House. He argues for a consortium of U.S. state and local governments—a “Green-State America”—committing to meet the emissions-reduction goals set down in the Paris climate agreement. “And this could be a model for other issues,” he concludes. “Green-State America might also want to support international treaties on the rights of women, the treatment of migrants, the rights of indigenous peoples, and more.”

To be sure, there will be many struggles ahead. Time to arise.

The Women’s March on Washington and the Coming of Age of Feminism

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We are a bit late posting this excellent piece by Julie Matthaei, but it’s all the more relevant given the huge numbers at yesterday’s marches in DC, around the country, and around the world. Re-posted from the blog of the Union for Radical Political Economics (urpe.org). –Eds.

By Julie Matthaei

For those who believe in equality and solidarity, and face the outrage of the upcoming Trump inauguration, it is heartening to witness the Women’s March on Washington take shape. The March represents a massive mobilization against Trump’s hate-mongering inequality agenda, and an important step forward in the evolution of feminist movement in the U.S.   As we face Trump’s efforts to turn back the clock, it is helpful to review some of the lessons to be learned from the last five decades, since the birth of second wave feminism.

Outrageous Things Can Spark Transformation: The audiotape of our President Elect bragging about the way that his celebrity has given him the power to sexually assault women – grabbing them by the pussy – was a lightening rod that sparked outrage across the nation and across the world.   After centuries of struggle, we thought that women’s sovereignty over our bodies had been established, and Trump’s statement would de facto end his chances to lead our country. The fact that it did not was an enormous wake-up call to women, mobilizing them to act, and will be a constant reminder and motivator during his upcoming presidency.

Equal Opportunity Feminism Is Important, But Is Not Enough:  The March organizers were wise not to identify the March with Hillary Clinton’s campaign.   Equal opportunity, anti-sex-discrimination feminists represented Hillary’s election to be our first woman president as the crowning achievement of feminism. Yet many other feminists supported Bernie Sanders, who embraced equal opportunity feminism and anti-racism, but went beyond this with a call for a political revolution against the rule of the 1%, and an economic human rights policy guaranteeing health care, education, and jobs for all. Many feminists supported Bernie because his platform arguably would do more to help women than having more women in positions of power in a heartlessly unequal, exploitative and violent political-economic system.

The Need to Value Care Work: Equal opportunity feminism takes as given the unequal job hierarchy in which care-centered, traditionally feminine jobs are paid less, or, in the case of homemaking, unpaid.   The short version of the March’s Unity Principles asserts the important feminist complement to equal opportunity–the monetary valuing of care work–by calling for access to affordable childcare, sick days, and paid family leave. The longer version asserts that “all care work—caring for the elderly, caring for the chronically ill, caring for children and supporting independence of people with disabilities – is work.”   It “stand(s) for the rights, dignity, and fair treatment of all unpaid and paid caregivers,” and highlights the superexploitation of women of color in low-paid care jobs, as well as the important problem of discrimination against mothers.  

Feminism Must Be Intersectional: While the March’s organizing was begun by white women, as per its FAQ page, they “recognized the need to be truly inclusive,” establishing a diverse group of National Co-Chairs and Organizers. As a result, an intersectional view of feminism–which opposes all forms of inequality that oppress women– is front and center in the March’s Mission Statement, which asserts “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” Its Unity Principles assert that “Gender Justice is Racial Justice is Economic Justice,” and foreground immigrants’, Civil, LGBTQIA, disability, and worker, as well as women’s, rights, as well as environmental justice.  The March’s over 300 partner organizations, including the NAACP, SEIU, and 350.org, position feminism as part of an interconnected, mutually supportive, movement of movements, the kind of movement we must have to push back effectively against Trump and continue our progress towards solidarity.

Men Can and Must Be Feminists: As a march of women, the March embodies a contradiction present in all movements for equality: while they are initiated and built by bringing together members of a subordinated category (women, blacks, workers, LGBTQ folks), they also seek to transcend these identity politics, by eradicating the inequality which they are addressing from the values, practices, and institutions that organize society as a whole. In a democratic society, this requires winning over members of the dominant category (men, whites, capitalists, heterosexuals). Men can and must become feminist, if feminism is to succeed. The presence of progressive Civil Rights icon Harry Belafonte as Honorary Co-Chair of the March, along with Gloria Steinem and Dolores Huerta, and the explicit welcoming of men to participate in the March in the FAQ and Mission statement, which “call(s) on all defenders of human rights to join us,” show that this Women’s March is not a throwback to early second wave feminist separatism. Rather, it represents the understanding, gained in the last half century of feminist movement and progressive organizing, that we must both build on and transcend identity politics if we are to build successful movements.

Non-Violence Is Crucial to Feminist Process:  Just as a key aspect of women’s oppression continues to be violence at the hands of men, so the March’s Unity Principles begin with “Ending Violence” against our bodies.   The longer statement includes a call for “accountability and justice for police brutality” and ending “gender and racial inequities within the criminal justice system.”   What is also remarkable is that the Mission statement for the March identifies “Kingian nonviolence” as providing the guiding principles for the March, including nonviolence as a way of life; Beloved Community, where relationships are free of any kind of domination; and directives to “attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil,” and to claim moral authority by accepting suffering without violent retaliation.

Feminist Values and System Change: One thing absent from the March’s self-description is explicit discussion of system change. Yet, in conjunction with other progressive movements, feminists of all types are busy creating the social DNA out of which a post-inequality, solidarity society is emerging: cooperative, mutually beneficial, egalitarian ways of relating to one another and working together.  Feminism is coming of age! Capitalism represents traditionally masculine competitive self-interest gone awry, generating dictatorship by billionaires; abject, grinding poverty amidst plenty; endless violence, war and suffering; and the destruction of the planet. The feminist key to system change is to value the devalued feminine, the traditionally feminine values of caring for others, and extend them into the economy! Besides demanding more money for unpaid and underpaid care work, we all can participate in the building of a “solidarity economy” – by participating in and advocating for socially responsible production, consumption, finance, and work, and the guarantee of economic human rights for all.

Let’s March!!! So what are we waiting for? Marches are sprouting up around the country: over 600 sister marches at the time of this writing, in every state of the U.S. and in 60 other countries, with over a million estimated marchers. If there isn’t one near you, start one on Facebook! Let’s take this opportunity to turn Trump’s election into a beautiful display of the compassion, diversity, and transformative power of our movement of movements.