Bulletin N°416



17 September 2009
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Sociological Imagination (1959) by C. Wright Mills (1916-1962). Humanists like Mills make no apology for adopting an ontology which places humankind at the center of the universe, and they express no regrets for choosing to work with an epistemology that situates human consciousness between the infinity of outer space and the infinity of inner space. This is the raw material from which we all work, and all militancy against humanism is ultimately militancy against the self. It is the human being who is the custodian of this planet --not the bear, not the fish, not the bird, and not god; but our own species!                                       

Religions, like other Grand Theories, according to Mills, have the ideological value of attracting adherents (with exclusive rituals, fascinating mysteries, and studied symbols, signs and signals), but they are devoid of any real explanatory power. The damage such ideological indoctrination inflicts on humanity is well known throughout history --"drunk on syntax" and starving for precise semantics, the masses of people have been manipulated again and again to sacrifice their own interests in the interest of their masters.

Another great fallacy of human thought, according to Mills, is Abstracted Empiricism, which digs deep into details and manipulates data without any understanding of the larger significance of what is being observed --a classic case of not "connecting the dots," of not seeing structural constraints imbedded in the larger social context.

Perhaps the greatest intellectual treason against reason is the belief in some super-human RATIONALITY : this attempt to institutionalize human reason, to remove it from its seat within the human mind and to replace it with the will for cheerful obedience, is one of the great crimes against humanity. Robotics, --the science of manufacturing humanoids who are programmed to obey by remote control from within some bureaucratic order-- is dehumanizing, to say the least. It may serve the short-term interests of some institutions, whose last resort for survival may be indoctrination and coercion, but cybernetic man, as Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991) points out, has his own contradictions. Human freedom and the will and capacity to use reason are one and the same: suppression of the practice of reason (i.e. human subordination to RATIONALITY) is the suppression of freedom. We see this in the modern capitalist ideology of "corporatism."

Gregory Bateson (1904-1980), among other scholars, have reflected on this human invention: The Double Bind. With the systematic suffocation of reason, one can produce an obedient human robot, with no will of its own except to obey what is expected of it. This is not a birth defect, nor is it an accident;  it is produced in micro societies and by macro economics --at all levels, in the family, in religious institutions, in schools, the military, under modern management techniques, etc., etc. . . . . When ordinary human bonds become noticeably binding (i.e. are no longer voluntary associations), and when these binds are twisted into a no-win relationship by manipulations which are engineered by the impulse to obey mutually incompatible injunctions, you have produced a docile slave, or at least a useful doormat with a double-bind.

Rape and other institutionalized forms of mental cruelty are proven techniques to achieve this degree of docility, which is commonly called "loyalty." C. Wright Mills was among those social scientists who had much to say on this subject, as he did on the conscious limitations of ideology to achieve human freedom.

In his book, The Marxists (1962), Mills writes that, "In capitalist societies, the ideas of Marx are ignored or worse, ignorantly identified with "mere communist ideology." Thus, here too, the work of Marx and of his followers has become "marxism-leninism" --an official target of confused and ignorant abuse, rather than an object of serious study."(p.22)

On the ideology of Liberalism, Mills writes: "As a compelling, or even useful, ideology, liberalism belongs to the heroic epoch of the middle classes of the already industrialized nations of capitalism; nowadays, as ideology and as rhetoric, it is much more useful as a defense of the status quo --in the rich minority of nations, and of these nations before the rest of the world-- than as a creed for deliberate historical change.
To the world's range of enormous problems, liberalism responds with its verbal fetish of "Freedom" plus a shifting series of opportunistic reactions."(p.29)

By contrast, the ideological appeal of Marxism, though it originates from the same humanist tradition as the liberal refusal of medieval power relationships, supercedes the modern capitalist relationships, and formulates a desired goal and designates an historical agency that is capable or realizing this objective: i.e. the revolutionary conscious working class of the world. The message produced from this ideology, according to Mills, sounds something like this:

You do not have to be poor any longer. Everywhere men have always lived as exploiters and exploited.
As long as the means of producing goods were not sufficient to provide for all, perhaps this evil condition was inevitable.
It is no longer inevitable.
You do not have to be poor.
You are poor (and alienated) not because of anything you have done or anything you have failed to do, not because of original Sin or the Will of God or because of bad luck. You are poor because of economic and political conditions. These conditions are called capitalism. At first, capitalism was a great progressive force in man's history; under it men built enormous facilities for the production of all the things they need.
You are poor and you are exploited and you are going to be exploited as long as capitalism prevails. For capitalism has ceased to be a progressive force; it has become an obstacle to Progress, to your progress.
It enters into every feature of human life, private and public, and all of them it corrupts. Capitalism is the system that exploits you.
You do not have to be poor. The conditions that make you poor can be changed. They are going to be changed.
Inside capitalism itself are the seeds of its own destruction. What will happen, whether you are yet aware of it or not, is that you are going to make a revolution. Those who rule over you and keep you poor will be overthrown.
That is the next step forward in human progress. You are going to take that step. By the revolution you can abolish capitalism, root, stock and branch. By the revolution you can eliminate once and for all the exploitation of man by man; you can enter into a socialist society in which mankind conquers nature. And no man any longer will know poverty and exploitation.

Unlike the bourgeois ideology of the French Revolution, aimed against the power of the church and aristocratic land owners, the Marxist ideology does more than proclaim ideals in the abstract. The goal and the agency are closely combined and sometimes even confused. The necessary developments within capitalist society will give rise to increasing struggles between the proletariat and the capitalists. These struggles will climax in the proletarian revolution. This ideology shares much with the original liberal ideology that promoted the overthrow and permanent displacement from political power the tyrannical aristocracy and its allies who oppressed the majority of people in society.

Thus socialists and liberals can be seen as "kissing cousins" whose common origin is the believe that "reason is the path to freedom," and who share the same desire to be free of all oppression and injustice, but who have, until now, identified the sources of their malaise as forces inhabiting different quarters of society. Should they ever come to an agreement on the nature and the source of their miseries, the game would be suddenly over, and new social relations would soon appear around new means of production, distribution and consumption of the necessities of life for all, instead of for private profit and individual social status. Thus, the ideal and historical agency would be united creating efficient cause for positive change, ending robotization and producing nothing less than a new human nature.

A careful look at these ideologies reveals, however, a greater complexity than mere ideology allows for. If we compare the English and French bourgeois revolutions with 20th-century socialist revolutions, such as the Russian Revolution of 1917, we see in each case the "victories" of Liberalism and of Socialism many compromises from within. The Restoration of the Stuart Monarchy after a decade of the Cromwellian Puritan "directorship" in England, The Napoleonic co-optation and perversion of French revolutionary values, and the defeat of the murderous French Imperialist project by the cynical, conservative Holy Alliance are all events which represent a pattern that can be seen again later in the formation of the Stalin-Hitler Pact, some 20 years after the socialist revolution in Russia, by which time the atmosphere of a young and vibrant socialist democracy had been poisoned by sinister purges of revolutionary artists and intellectuals thereby creating a paranoid reign terror against the general population. Tiananmen Square,1989, is another example of opportunism subverting participatory democracy in the name of PROGRESS, to strengthen capitalism. What we find in the old capitalist social order is the super RATIONALITY of corporations manipulating society and the environment in the interest of private profits. The main ideological alternative to capitalist industrialization up until now has been the RATIONALITY of socialist industrialization under the mechanism of Democratic Centralism, another technique designed to control and subordinate reason to RATIONALITY uprooting personal freedom with the impersonal logic of a power elite, in the name of the Collective, which like the Corporation, is an abstraction that generates, because it is based on obedience, the double-bind which has been demonstrated to be dehumanizing, schizogenic, producing "empty" people who need to obey, who love to obey, are willing, wanting, waiting to obey any authority figure who wishes to use them.

The 6 items below speak to the creative energies of human reason and its link to personal freedom and the ideology of democratic socialism, which combine to continually challenge programmed behavior, and subvert collaborators working with their masters to obediently oppress others upon command.

Item A. offers a series of 5 short documentary films, "Displaced Films," on dissent within the U.S. military today.

Item B., from Dahr Jamail, is an essay on "Art as Resistance."

Item C., sent to us by Professor Edward S. Herman, are two illustrations of "the banality of evil" visited on the people of Gaza by U.S.-financed Israeli forces.

Item D. is an article by U.S. economic historian, Professor Douglas Dowd : "OBAMA IS STUCK IN THE MUD, AND SO ARE WE. IT’S UP TO US TO BOOST HIM AND OURSELVES UP INTO CLEAN AIR."

Item E. is an article by economist Robert Reich on "The Real News About Jobs and Wages - An Ode to Labor Day."

Item F., sent to us by UCSD Professor Fred Lonidier, is a statement by UC Professor Mike Davis : "The University of California: On Strike!", followed by a brief description of the student-faculty mobilization at UC-Berkeley.

Finally, we conclude this CEIMSA Bulletin with three pieces covering this week's Report from the United Nations on the Israeli "War Crimes" in Gaza during the December-January 2009 massacre of Palestinian people living in Gaza, and The Toronto International Film Festival protests with Naomi Klein arguing against Israel's use of art as a nationalist propaganda forum:

1. Toronto International Film Festival 2009 = http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/14/no_celebration_of_occupation_1_500

2. On Democracy Now! is a discussion of the United Nations fact-finding mission's report on the December-January 2009 Israeli massacre of Palestinians living in Gaza, including a critical analysis by author and Israel-Palestine scholar Norman Finkelstein on the redefinition of "The War In Gaza" : http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/16/un_inquiry_finds_israel_punished_and

UN Probe Accuses Israel of War Crimes in Gaza

A United Nations fact-finding mission has found Israel committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity in deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians during the attack on Gaza earlier this year. More than 1,400 Palestinians, over half of them civilians, were killed in the US-backed Israeli assault. The head of the inquiry, Judge Richard Goldstone, said his investigation focused on deliberate attacks ordered by Israeli commanders.
Judge Richard Goldstone: “The thirty-six incidents that we investigated, by and large, and to the greatest extent possible, do not relate to, as I say, ‘second guessing’ commanders or soldiers who were in the heat of battle. What we’re talking about is a much broader aspect of the deliberate policies that were adopted and the military actions that were taken, not in urgency, not in urgent situations.”
The Israeli attacks included the shooting of Palestinian civilians holding white flags, the deliberate bombing of UN shelters, and the killing of over 300 children. The report accuses Palestinian militants of also violating the Geneva Conventions with rocket attacks on Israeli towns. Thirteen Israelis died during the Gaza attack, four by “friendly fire.” The report advises the UN Security Council to call on both sides to probe the allegations or face investigation by the International Criminal Court.

3. GRITtv interviews Phyllis Bennis on the significance of the UN High Commission Report Israeli "Crimes Against Humanity" at : http://lauraflanders.firedoglake.com/

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Displaced Films <adam@sirnosir.com>:
Date: 7 September 2009
Subject: This is Where We Take Our Stand--Episode 5 Now Live!.

L'image “http://thisiswherewetakeourstand.com/wp-content/themes/tvelements-light/images/WS%20Banner.jpg” ne peut être affichée car elle contient des erreurs.Displaced Films
Episode Five: This is Not Human Nature available now. Click here

This Is Where We Take Our Stand discussed in a New York Times piece on the antiwar movement and Afghanistan. Click here

Episode Five of the ground breaking web series, This is Where We Take Our Stand, is now live at http://www. thisiswherewetakeourstand.com. "This is Not Human Nature" tells the story of the Iraq Veterans Against the War members' struggle to bring hundreds of veterans to Washington, DC, to tell their stories and reveal the true nature of these occupations. If you've watched the first four episodes, you won't want to miss this one. And if you haven't, WATCH THEM. This is Where We Take Our Stand is a series that can and should help push the debate about these wars back on to the table.

Experience the series, send this email to everyone you know, and spread the word!

This is Not Human Nature: For the first time in history, women have combat and other front-line roles in the U.S. military, yet the military today is rife with sexual harassment, as Wendy Barranco reveals. Is this progress? Is it inevitable?  Human nature? Or perhaps it's the sign of a deeper malignancy. For Wendy, her treatment was "the last thing I would have imagined from my own peers and comrades."
This is Where We Take Our Stand, the series that tells the riveting and timely story of the hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who testified at last year's Winter Soldier investigation, continues today. Watch episode five, tell friends, forward this email, spread the word and fan the debate. These stories must be heard.
Stay tuned for the final episode:
Episode Six: No Longer a Monster will launch September 20, 2009.
Spread the link and mark your calendar!
Wheres the debate?
Are we watching passively while Barack Obama carries out the same policies as George W. Bush?
When an American bombing raid this May killed over two hundred civilians in a village in Afghanistan, it was met with a deafening silence. When Obamas promised withdrawal from Iraq leaves 130,000 troops there for at least two more years and 50,000 permanently, its hailed as an end to the occupation. And who is demanding to know just what the mission really is when 30,000 more troops are sent to Afghanistan?
Wheres the debate?
In March of 2008, two hundred and fifty veterans and active duty soldiers marked the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by gathering in Washington, DC, to testify from their own experience about the nature of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. It was chilling, horrifying, and challenging for all who witnessed it. Against tremendous odds, they brought the voices of the veterans themselves into the debate. That was then.
This is now.  Today, we present to you This is Where We Take Our Stand, the inside story of those three days and the courageous men and women who testified. And we present this story today, told in six episodes, because we believe it is as relevant now as it was one year ago. Maybe more.
Here is our challenge to you: Watch the series; spread it far and wide; and ask yourself is this about the past, or the present and future. Then add your voice.
If you are a veteran or active duty, present your own testimony. If you are not, but you are still a living, breathing member of the human race, then do whatever you can to join and fan the flames of debate.
David Zeiger, Director of Sir! No Sir!
Bestor Cram, Director of Unfinished Symphony

from Dahr Jamail :
Date: 7 September 2009
Subject: Art as Resistance.

Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have tough truths to tell, and it has been well demonstrated that the establishment media does not want to broadcast these. Given the lack of an outlet for anti-war voices in the corporate media, many contemporary veterans and active-duty soldiers have embraced the arts as a tool for resistance, communication and healing. They have made use of a wide range of visual and performing arts - through theater, poetry, painting, writing, and other creative expression - to affirm their own opposition to the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Dahr Jamail

Art as Resistance
by Dahr Jamail

from Edward S. Herman :
Date: 4 September 2009
Subject: MIDEAST: 1) Israelis Destroy Fishing Boats;  (2) Israelis Target Medical Teams.

These two items should be read carefully, even though they can be matched on an almost daily basis. We are watching a slow but clear genocidal process, supported by the Enlightened States, who have in recent years expressed their mind-bogglingly hypocritical support of a "Responsibility to Protect"!!!!!
Ed Herman

1.  MIDEAST: Israelis Destroy Boats, and Lives
     by Eva Bartlett

GAZA CITY, Sep 3 (IPS) - Until Monday, Omar and Khaled Al-Habil were the owners of a 20m fishing trawler staffed by five or six fishermen at a time, but employing around 18 in cycles. But that morning the vessel came under heavy Israeli navy machine-gun fire, and then shelling. The trawler caught fire.

"It's destroyed, completely destroyed," says Al-Habil.

"They had left early in the morning and headed north," Al-Habil said, of the crew of five fishermen that morning, including his son Adham Al-Habil. He says the boat was well within a three-mile limit set by Israel.

"There were other fishing boats with them. The boat was about a kilometre out off Gaza's coast, and was at the southern end of Sudaniya (a coastal region of Beit Lahia, northern Gaza)."

An Israeli navy spokesperson reportedly said the boat "violated security boundaries off the coast of the Gaza Strip" and was "out of the permitted fishing zone." She said the boats failed to respond to warning shots.

Khaled Al-Habil recalls differently.

"An Israeli navy boat approached them and opened fire. It was chaos. The firing was intense; it lasted 15 or 20 minutes. The fishing boat stopped, but the Israelis kept shooting. Finally, the Israelis shot a mortar at the boat. All the fishermen jumped into the water."

His son Adham Al-Habil sustained burns from the fire, which broke out most likely as a result of the mortar shelling.

A charred hole on the front right-hand side of the boat marks where the mortar hit and exited. From that point down, the deck is blackened with soot. The metal steering wheel is all that remains of the cabin.

"Other fishermen came to help. They towed my boat back to Gaza port," said Al-Habil. Once there, it took fire-fighters more than 20 minutes to put out the fires.

Palestinian fishers have the right to fish as far as 20 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza, but Israeli authorities have over the years unilaterally reduced that limit to three miles. The more abundant catches are found past six miles.

The Palestinian fishing industry, employing more than 3,500, has been devastated by Israeli attacks on fishing boats, confiscation of boats and equipment, and the abduction of Palestinian fishers.

Under the Israeli-led siege, with the complicity of Egypt, Gaza is starved of basic goods to enable a functioning economy and society. This includes replacement parts for missing or broken fishing equipment.

While a reported 95 percent of Gaza's industries have shut down due to the siege, many unemployed Palestinians have turned to fishing, unviable as it is.

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) August 2009 report details the devolution of the fishing industry.

OCHA cites the fishing catch for the month of April for the past three years. In 2007, fishers hauled in 292 tons. In 2008, the catch was 154 tons, and in 2009 it was reduced to 79 tons.

Reduced to fishing along the coast, many of the fish are caught in waters contaminated by the 80 million litres of raw or partially-treated sewage pumped daily into the sea "as a result of lack of maintenance and upgrading of the wastewater infrastructure," OCHA notes.

And now Al-Habil does not have a fishing vessel at all.

This was not the first problem for his now destroyed boat. On Jun. 4, Israeli gunboats abducted six fishers and seized Al-Habil's boat three miles off the northern coast of Gaza, holding it for 45 days before returning it. Al-Habil found equipment missing and significant damage done to the engine and cables.

On Nov. 18, 2008, Israeli gunboats surrounded three Palestinian fishing boats, including Al-Habil's boat, seven miles off the coast of central Gaza, and took all 15 fishers on board, as well as three international solidarity activists. The Israelis kept the boats until Nov. 27.

"It's not just my boat. Every day the Israelis are attacking us: if not a trawler, then a small boat, or on land."

Palestinian fisher Muhammed Al-Attar was killed by Israeli shelling off northern Gaza Aug. 27. Head of emergency services Dr Mu'awiyah Hassanein said Al-Attar was decapitated by the blast.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that 12-year-old Mohammed Bassam 'Aashour was seriously injured by a gunshot to his head Aug. 14 when Israeli gunboats fired on Palestinian fishing boats near Rafah coast.

Khaled Al-Habil is just one among many Palestinian fishers whose livelihoods have been wrecked. The father of 13 children lives with his family in a cramped 400 square metre apartment. His only source of income has been destroyed.

"I want a good lawyer," he says, "and I want to take this to court." (END/2009)

Send your comments to the editor<mailto:editors@ipsnews.net?Subject=IPS%20Story%20MIDEAST:%20Israelis%20Destroy%20Boats,%20and%20Lives>


2.  MIDEAST: Israelis Target Medical Teams
     by Mel Frykberg

JELAZON, West Bank, Sep 3 (IPS) - Fourteen-year-old Muhammad Nayif's mother broke down as she spoke to IPS. Nayif died after being shot three times in the chest by Israeli soldiers Monday night.

Palestinian medical personnel who tried to reach the critically injured boy near the Jelazon refugee camp north of Ramallah were threatened at gunpoint by Israeli soldiers and shot at.

"We were sure that the boy was seriously wounded and needed urgent medical attention," said Sameh Barghouti a medic in the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance which tried to evacuate the youngster.

"But the soldiers pointed their guns at us and told us to go back. When we asked to speak to their captain they shot rubber coated metal bullets and teargas canisters at the ambulance, but fortunately missed," Barghouti told IPS.

Another ambulance driver, Osama Jarrer, was injured in the leg with a teargas canister after he too tried to reach the wounded child. Under Israeli law teargas canisters are meant to be fired in an upward arch and not directly at protestors so as not to endanger lives.

Suliman Massoud from Jelazon who witnessed the aftermath of the shooting said an Israeli helicopter later flew the boy to hospital but he was already dead.

Israeli soldiers claimed that earlier in the evening Palestinians had thrown Molotov cocktails at the Bet El settlement near Jelazon camp, and that Nayif and several of his companions were "gunmen". Palestinian sources say that Nayif and his friends were neither armed nor had they thrown Molotovs.

IPS visited the area, and it would appear enormously difficult for any firebomb to reach the homes in the settlement. The illegal settlement is on top of a steep hill, hundreds of metres from a road which divides Jelazon refugee camp from the settlement. Palestinians are forbidden from approaching the hill that leads to the settlement.

Bet El is surrounded by a huge, razor-wire topped fence, and the houses are situated well away from it. Israeli soldiers are positioned in guard towers around the settlement.

"The interception of the ambulances in Nayif's case is just the latest in a long list of such incidents we have faced through the years from the Israelis in trying to provide Palestinians with the necessary medical assistance," says Raed Yassin, director of the Ramallah PRCS's emergency department.

"The problems revolve around attacks on our personnel, on the ambulances, damage to our equipment, long delays at checkpoints, and the refusal of access for critically injured patients despite having the requisite security permits from the Israelis," Yassin told IPS.

"We had a case recently of a 16-year-old boy with cancer from Tulkarm in the northern West Bank. He had a permit from the Israelis but was refused entrance through Qalandia checkpoint to East Jerusalem where the specialist hospitals are."

Mutasim Awad, director of the PRCS's humanitarian law unit speaks of "lack of protection for medical personnel and their vehicles and the delay and denial of access to East Jerusalem on a daily basis.

"During military operations we are regularly targeted by the Israelis in shelling and shooting attacks. During the Gaza war 16 Palestinian medical personnel were killed, more than 30 injured, while dozens of clinics, hospitals and medical centres were bombed."

Since 2000, 17 PRCS personnel have been killed, 250 injured, 80 arrested, 170 ambulances damaged, and 36 ambulances completely destroyed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

"Despite having a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli Magen David Adom, Israel's equivalent of the Red Cross, we also have difficulties moving ambulances from East Jerusalem to Israeli hospitals in West Jerusalem even when they have Israeli licence plates," Awad told IPS.

"Security is the only reason given by the Israelis even if the patient is on his deathbed. But often it depends on the mood of the soldiers, as our ambulances can be denied entry at one checkpoint and then given access at another."

Ann Sophie Bonefeld from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jerusalem told IPS that her organisation is looking into the issue of Palestinian ambulances, personnel and patients being held up at Israeli checkpoints.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated in its August report that during July UN staff members reported a total of 77 access delays or denials at checkpoints, affecting 716 UN staff members. As a result, the UN lost 527 staff hours, or the equivalent of 70 UN staff days. (END/2009)
Send your comments to the editor<mailto:editors@ipsnews.net?Subject=IPS%20Story%20MIDEAST:%20Israelis%20Target%20Medical%20Teams>

from Douglas Dowd :
Date: 4 September 2009
Subject: Obama.

Dear Francis,
I am sending the attached article to many such friends . . . , with the hope they/you will see it worth passing on to others who are or should be very worried about what is and is not going on these days.  What is badly needed is a political movement to offset today's rotted Congress and that will replace some of it with cleaner people.  This is going out to many dozens.
Best wishes,

by Doug Dowd


from TruthOut :
Date: 7 September 2009
Subject: The truth about jobs and wages.

This logic is morally and economically indefensible. If we've learned anything from the Great Recession-Mini Depression of the last 18 months, it's that the skewing of income and wealth to the top has made our economy far less stable. When the majority of middle-class and poor Americans are either losing their jobs or feel threatened by job loss, and when those who still have jobs are experiencing flat or declining wages, there's simply no way to get the economy back on track. The track we were on -- featuring stagnant median wages, widening inequality, and job insecurity -- got us into this mess in the first place.

The Real News About Jobs and Wages - An Ode to Labor Day
by Robert Reich

from Fred Lonidier :
Date: 7 September 2009
Subject: From The University of California:"On Strike!"

The UC strike com. asked me this morning to write a short piece on 'solidarity'*
Mike Davis
1331 33rd St
San Diego CA 92102

Many years ago in the faded Art Nouveaux splendor of a Gorbals (Glasgow) pub, I met a man who told me an extraordinary story about his grandfather, a
coalminer who had been killed in a pit disaster before the First World War.  A methane explosion, followed by a roof collapse, had trapped his grandfather
and his mates deep in the mine, where they were eventually asphyxiated. When rescuers reached their tomb days later, they found a final, defiant message
chiseled into the coalface: 'God save our union.'

The spirit of these doomed Scots miners isn't easily replicated in rational choice models of social action.  Nor can simple economic calculation explain the fervor with which Lancashire cotton workers, whose wages depended upon Southern cotton and the British domination of India, supported Lincoln and later Gandhi.  Likewise, from the 1934 San Francisco General Strike to Justice for Janitors in the 1980s and 1990s, California working people have repeatedly translated their
passion for justice and dignity into the slogan 'an injury to one, is an injury to all.'

The labor and civil rights movements, to be sure, aren't fairy tales, and the heroic moments are often counterbalanced by the petrification of militancy into
leaden bureaucracy and the selfish calibration of seniority.   Solidarity is too often an orphan.  In our case, there are disheartening examples of the tenured
strata ignoring the recent picket-lines of catering workers, secretaries, lecturers, and students.  

UC faculty, indeed, are much like the residents of Jonathan Swift's city of Laputa: distracted by their departmental micropolitics and the distribution of FTEs while
they float on a cloud above the existential distress of K-12 and community education.   The Senate faculty also must share responsibility with the Regents
for the system's transformation into a vast machine for the transformation of public research into corporate profit.  Most UC campuses now more  resemble
gated communities than public temples of learning.

A lot of us have complained about this situation for years, but our discomfort has seldom moved us to action.   But the challenge is now epic-historic: equity
and justice are endangered at every level of the Master plan for Education. Obscene wealth still sprawls across the coastal hills, but flat-land inner cities
and blue-collar interior valleys face the death of the California dream. Their children - let's not beat around the bush - are being pushed out of higher
education.   Their future is being cut off at its knees.

The September 24 strike movement, in my opinion, is most important because it defends non-tenured employees and demands public disclosure of the Regents'
secret diplomacy.   It is an elementary reflex of a progressive, humane consciousness: an antidote to the staggering selfishness and elitism of Andrew
Scull and his Gang of 23.

A strike, by matching actions to words,, is also the highest form of teach-in. This seed of resistance, of course, will only grow to maturity through cultivation
by unionized employees and students.  They are the real constant gardeners, and hopefully branches of a unified fight-back will quickly intertwine with the
parallel struggles of CSU, community college, K-12 and adult-education workers. 

The strike also provides a bully pulpit to counter the still widespread belief that the UC system has a unique dispensation and can once again negotiate its own
special deal in Sacramento.   Many of our colleagues are simply in denial.  This time around, the first-class passengers are in the same frigid water with the
kindergarten teachers and community college janitors. 

The 24th is the beginning of learning how to shout in unison. And whatever the outcome, it at allows us write our beliefs on the coalface.

* UPTE/CWA has voted to go on strike U.C. September 24.


From: Fred Lonidier :
Date: 8 September 2009
Subject: Solidarity Alliance at Berkeley.

For Your Information.

Fall is getting hotter !

The UC Berkeley Solidarity Alliance of unions, students and faculty is discussing a platform of the following demands:

1. Immediate Freeze on all Future Student Fee Increases
2. No Layoffs; No Union Busting; and No Furloughs or Cuts on Salaries below $40,000.
3. Full Disclosure of The UC Budget.
4. An End to UCOP's Emergency Powers and the Implementation of the Faculty Senate's Recommendation on Furloughs.
5. The University of California must stand up to this crisis and defend the future of ALL Californians against the defunding of public education.

They have also issued this formal call:


In response to the drastic financial cuts now impacting the University  of California at every level, and to the general attack on public education of which they are part, the Solidarity Alliance at Berkeley joins colleagues from across the UC system and calls upon faculty, staff, students and community members to support a Walk-Out and Teach- in on September 24, 2009.

Specifically, we urge:

1. All members of the campus community to honor the picket lines on Sept 24th.

2. Students to demand, and faculty to devote, teaching time to discuss the crisis, its history and its consequences, in the days leading up to the Walk-out.

3. Faculty, staff, students, and community members to gather on Sproul  Plaza between Noon and 2:00 on Sept 24th for a Rally and Teach-In.

We believe that these actions are necessary to preserve and fulfill  the mission of public education at the University of California and beyond.

To learn more and to get involved go to: http://berkeleycuts.org/

Two notes:

1. This resolution was passed unanimously, with all of the union and 
student bodies represented welcoming the idea of faculty support at a 
central event on the 24th.

2. Nothing here should be taken to conflict with ongoing plans for  "teach-ins"
of various kinds, obviously more intensive and exploratory  than the 24th Rally,
on the 21st, the 23rd, and perhaps on the evening of the 24th itself -- after the
union walk-out is over.]