Link Roundup - February 5

A somewhat belated Happy New Year to you, my link-roundup-reading comrades! I had a gorgeous holiday and am not ready to go back to work at all, but getting back on the link roundup beat is certainly a silver lining. Let’s get into it …

I’m sure every leftie on your Facebook feed has been frantically posting about Venezuela, and of course we are no exception - Anni McAllen has written another of her excellent explainers, which clearly lays out the historical and political context of the current crisis. For Novara Media, Aaron Bastani gives a good overview of recent developments in the Venezuelan economy, and at The Intercept, Jon Schwarz covers Elliot Abrams, US Special Envoy for Venezuela, and his chilling history in Central America. Schwarz puts it bluntly: “The Trump administration intends to brutalize Venezuela, while producing a stream of unctuous rhetoric about America’s love for democracy and human rights.” For ongoing updates, Venezuela Analysis is a good source. Stay the fuck away from the Guardian, it is cancer.

Closer to home, Brisbane and Brisbane-adjacent comrades may have heard of the campaign to Save Deebing Creek Mission from the development of a housing estate, which encroaches upon a potential massacre site. Yuggera Ugarapul traditional owners are camping out on the site and are pressuring the State Government to buy back the land. If you’re local-ish (or even if you’re not!) follow the campaign’s Facebook page, which provides updates on events and opportunities to contribute. Last I heard, they are after donations of camping gear and non-perishable food, and if you can make it out to the camp and lend your support in person, even better.

The recent LA teachers’ strike represented a fight not only over the pay and conditions of the teachers, but also over the future of public education in the city. A key issue is the construction of privately-run (but publicly-funded) charter schools, which operate in the same building as public schools, and which certain interests (see: the multiple billionaires who intervened in the LA school board elections) would clearly like to see nudge out public schools altogether.  Anyway, as Jason McGahan writes in the Baffler, teachers were unwilling to let that happen, and - wouldn’t you know it - striking got (many of) the goods. PS - Oakland teachers could be next.

The other story coming out of industrial relations in the US, of course, is the air traffic controllers who ended the government shutdown. Interestingly, as Robert Reich notes in the Guardian, the decision of air traffic controllers not to go to work was not orchestrated by their union, but simply by the rank and file - similar to the wildcat teacher strikes last year. “The larger story,” writes Reich, “is that public workers who lack any formal power to strike – but have the informal power not to work – are becoming a new force in American politics and labor relations.” This is a worthwhile article to read and consider even though it ends with That Phrase (“in the age of Trump”) which I would like to take this opportunity to declare Overused.

OK, OK, so it’s the first link roundup of the year and I’m already doing a clip show. But! Flood published some really great stuff this summer and perhaps you were out doing fun things and missed it? Well now you’re back at work with endless hours to waste, so what better opportunity to catch up on:

  • ‘Against the Cultural Politics of Softness, or How to Kill Your Own Power’: Anni McAllen argues against “the drive for a culture of softness within activist and social scenes on the left … which for all its pretensions to kindness and earnestness, serves ultimately to demobilise and harm the people it wants to protect.”

  • ‘A White Working Man’s Country’: At last, and to great collective exhalation, we take our official stance in that debate about the ALP that Osmond Chiu kicked off in Jacobin. Historian and Friend of Flood Jon Piccini argues that both Chiu and his opponents fundamentally misunderstand the political-economic circumstances of Australia’s early history. Rather than a ‘paradise’ for the working man, writes Piccini,
    ”it is vital to locate Australia within the context of racialised imperialism and institutionalised sexism that accompanied capitalist expansion in the 19th century and facilitated its continued growth well into the 20th.”

  • ‘Solidarity with the EZLN’: Finally, we were very pleased to add our name to a collective of Australian organisations expressing solidarity with the EZLN, also known as the Zapatistas. This letter - and the introduction included here - gives me chills every time I read it. “Their faces partially covered by iconic red paliacates or by balaclavas, the Zapatistas announced that they would show their faces when Mexico was finally ready to see them. This was a war, they said, against forgetting and for living.”

Finally, shirtless Bernie singing ‘This Land Is Your Land’ on the Burlington Soviet Trip 1988 is so fucking powerful that I can’t look directly at it. I assume this was intended to smear him but it only confirms that he is cool as hell. Full disclosure: all my ambivalent feelings about electoral politics went out the window when I watched this video. Ultras, view at your own risk.

Until next week!