Life in the Second Gilded Age

New Mexico Medicare for All Rally – Our Revolution New Mexico

By Mark Rudd

One year after the Resistance began, I think we’re doing ok. A year ago we discussed broad strategy–to build the mass movement on issues such as racism, poverty, war, and environmental destruction, and to work toward power, meaning turning the Democratic Party to becoming a party of the people. We’ve taken a year’s worth of initial steps, and we’ve even had a few successes.

It’s going to be a 20-40 year struggle to replace the current neo-fascists and to undo the damage they’ve done in the last year. But we are the majority. All we have to do is get ourselves organized–both the mass movement and the structured movement for power.

The far-right is our model. They’ve been organizing continually since 1964, when Goldwater was defeated soundly. They were able to take hair-brained articles of religious faith, like trusting the market to solve all problems, while shrinking government, and build a mass base among Christian fundamentalists to take power (Reagan, GW Bush). They created a cultural hegemony that made the slogan Government is Bad common sense. Without a better idea, Democrats became the slightly more moderate neo-liberal party, also working for corporations and finance, as thoroughly controlled by capital as the rival Republican Party. Since its high point of 1970, organized labor has diminished in size and power, and there was no counterweight to capital, which won both coming and going.

That’s how we got in the Second Gilded Age, just like the first, imbalances.

A half of our country is suffering. But those of us who still have our wits about us have been organizing, and the possibilities are great. We just need time and help.

Statewide around 25,000 people turned out for the Jan. 21 Women’s March against Trump. That energy has been carrying over to organizing.

The anti-fracking movement in Sandoval County and statewide won a big victory this month by forcing the County Commission to reverse a previous decision to let the oil and gas companies do anything they pleased, as long as it wasn’t near Rio Rancho. Statewide the Chaco Coalition is doing well.

The movement for a renewable energy economy is doing well, with major victories over PNM by New Energy Economy out of Santa Fe and also a coalition on energy led by various groups such as the Sierra Club, Wild Earth Guardians, and Conservation Voters NM. 350.org needs some youth energy and revitalization, though, as the struggle against global climate change should actually be the center of our work. (See Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.”

The movement to defend immigrants, essentially an anti-racist movement, has had a number of successful organizing events, such as the 2,000 people who attended

A rare opportunity came out to NM from N. Carolina when Rev. William J. Barber held a mass meeting in August at a church in Albuquerque announcing the National Moral Revival: Poor Peoples Campaign and 1200 people attended, with 400 signing pledges to engage in direct action nonviolent civil disobedience at the Roundhouse in May and June. The goal is 1000 people in each of now 32 states all protesting various local variants of four issue areas, known as Fusion issues because they’re all interconnected: racism, poverty, environmental destruction, and war and the effects of militarism. As with the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, this nation-wide Poor Peoples Campaign, commemorating Martin Luther King’s post-humous Poor People’s March on Washington 50 years ago.

A Steering Committee to launch and coordinate the next six months’ campaign in New Mexico is getting started. The goal is to create a united mass movement on these issues by June. After that, who knows? How about a school for organizing, say a NM version of the Highlander Folk School?

The NM Progressive Coalition, while still not yet a coalition of mass membership groups, the only one being Progressive Democrats of America, is still puttering along, laying the basis for a future progressive alliance. Our goal has always been to build the progressive movement. We are working on a big People’s Rally Feb 5 at the Roundhouse, echoing the one last year at which 1000 people attended; developing a draft progressive platform (still in process), lobbying at the legislature; forming a People’s Electoral Alliance to pool our movement’s knowledge of candidates in order to assess them; another small project, transforming the Democratic Party into a party of the people, through our work with two progressive caucuses within the party (more on this below); and a leadership training team that has been offering groups help at figuring out story, strategy, and structure, ie., building leadership for the movement. Again, we sure could use help.

At the other side of the strategy lies the structured movement for power, ie., the movement to transform the Democratic Party to become the party of the people. Approximately 350 new people came forward last February to volunteer to become ward and precinct captains for the previously moribund Democratic Party. A good number of groups, such as the Nasty Women and the Equalists, and an incipient progressive caucus of ward and precinct captains are all working to figure out how to build a progressive voter base at for the Party. Another committee is working at the state party level to create a formal progressive caucus in the party to push progressive platforms and ideas, to democratize the party rules, and to elect progressives to party offices and positions.

Tim Keller’s landslide election as Mayor of Albuquerque was the result of the mobilization of hundreds of volunteers, raising almost three quarters of a million dollars, and building electoral organization to get out the votes. Now the job is to create good government for Albuquerque and to show that progressives can make life better for all, especially the people at the bottom. It’s going to be a tough four years, but I’m hopeful. Tim’s not only a very effective candidate and campaigner, he’s a brilliant manager and office holder. We’ve all got to help.

Tim was the only viable progressive in the race. (Don’t get me started on poor Gus Pedrotti). That’s not the case in Santa Fe where four people who claim to be progressive are running against a single Democrat in Name Only (DINO). The Dino may be elected unless there’s a landslide for Alan Webber, the front runner among the progressives. How do progressives sort these things out? Shouldn’t there be a council of elders or something to say who should run and who shouldn’t? Or does this smack too much of bossism? Maybe a better way is to establish definitions of progressive, as we’re attempting to do with the People’s Electoral Alliance (above).

There’s so much work to do it’s incredible. In general we’re all learning about goals, strategy, structure, and leadership. As I mentioned at the start of this rant, it’ll take years to win, so we’d best not waste any more time.

If you’d like to help–old retired people who have time, young people with kids who are concerned about the future, and anyone in between–please drop me a line at mark@markrudd.com. Please no Fb Messenger. I’ll try to help you find a place in this growing movement for power.

2018 should be a pretty good year if we keep organizing at this local level, build our numbers, our structures, our leadership, our power.

To Counter Trump and Far-Right, Labor Leaders call for ‘Global New Deal’

A blown-up image of the presumptive GOP nominee in a West Des Moines, Iowa backyard. (Photo: Tony Webster/cc/flickr)

Concern over disaffected workers being swayed by radical rhetoric spurs an international call to action from labor groups

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Common Dreams

May 11, 2016 – Concerned about the rise of right-wing extremism and how it has preyed on the fears of working people across the world, labor leaders from nearly a dozen countries met in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to declare the need for a "global New Deal" to fight these forces.

"Too many politicians in the U.S. and Europe are exploiting our differences and inciting hate and division," said Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO, which organized the day-long forum along with its non-union affiliate, Working America, and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German political foundation associated with the Social Democratic Party.

Highlighting the unique position of the international labor movement to combat extremism, labor representatives traveled from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the UK to strategize about how best to counter the appeal of far-right rhetoric to voters frustrated by years of gross inequality and, instead, harness that energy to advance workers’ rights and values.

"Income inequality is a global problem that should unite all leaders; it should not give rise to right wing extremism and building walls," Trumka continued. "We must come together to focus on common issues like raising wages and creating good jobs. Political tactics that scapegoat hardworking immigrants and refugees only serve to pit workers against one another, while ignoring the corporate excess that created these problems."

The forum—which was convened as a reaction to the ascendancy of Donald Trump in the U.S., the National Democratic Party (NDP) in Germany, the National Front in France, Greece’s Golden Dawn Party, and others—"illustrates the extent to which progressive movements across the developed world have begun to view the far right as a common, and urgent, threat," Huffington Post reported.

In fact, as the anti-union think tank Capital Research recently noted, mainstream Republicans who have expressed reservations over Trump’s nomination also see "political opportunity" with the possibility that blue collar workers and so-called "Trump Democrats" will "gravitate toward the GOP—perhaps putting states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota into play in the Electoral College."

Underscoring that possibility, a poll released Tuesday showed Trump essentially tied with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in key swing states, including Pennsylvania.

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Why Progressives Need a National Electoral Strategy—and Fast

By Bill Fletcher, Jr. [1] /

AlterNet [2]

April 12, 2016  – Every electoral cycle gives me the sense of “Groundhog Day” within progressive circles. It feels as if the same discussion take places over and again. No matter what has transpired in the intervening years; no matter what mass struggles; no matter what theoretical insights; progressives find themselves debating the relative importance of electoral politics and the pros and cons of specific candidates. These debates frequently become nothing short of slugfests as charges are thrown around of reformism, sell-outs and purism. And then, during the next cycle, we are back at it.

What has struck me in the current cycle are two related but distinct problems. First, progressives have no national electoral strategy to speak of. Second, elections cannot be viewed simply or even mainly within the context of the pros and cons of specific candidates. In fact, with regard to the latter, there are much bigger matters at stake that are frequently obscured by the candidates themselves.

Let’s begin in reverse order. In a recent exchange on Facebook I had with a friend, he raised the point that Hillary Clinton holds some positions to the right of Donald Trump. His, apparent, point was that in a final election, should it come down to Clinton vs. Trump, it would actually not make much of a difference who won. Someone I do not know responded to my friend by pointing out that Hitler was to the “left” of certain candidates as well and that the issue of intolerance needed to be the point of focus.

Looking at the platform or views of a candidate reveals only part of the equation. It gives one a sense of the candidate. What is just as important are the social forces that have assembled around a particular candidate and the direction of their motion. Let’s go back to Hitler for a moment. Within the NSDAP (Nazi Party) there were forces on the left and the right, of course these terms being quite relative. The Brownshirts, otherwise known as the SA (Stormtroopers) proselytized in favor of a “national revolution” in Germany. Hitler and his SA supporters advocated some very radical solutions to the problems facing Germany. They consciously utilized left-wing symbolism (such as a red flag as background to the swastika) in order to appeal to the working class and other disgruntled forces crushed by the economy. They did this while promoting antisemitism and militarism. On June 30, 1934, after assuming power and after cementing his alliance with the German military and major elements of the economic establishment, Hitler and the SS crushed the SA and any further discussion of a “national revolution.” While the SA may have sincerely been interested in their perverted notion of a “national revolution,” the Nazi movement had built a base and a set of alliances that was interested in something quite different: a radical restructuring of capitalism, the end of political democracy, and a relocation of Germany among the world’s powers.

Right-wing populism, whether in its fascist or non-fascist form, can assume a posture and articulate a language that can appear left-wing. History has demonstrated this time and again. Yet right-wing populism is NOT “right-wing + populism” but is, instead, a specific integral phenomenon known as “right-wing populism.” It is irrationalist, xenophobic, frequently anti-Semitic, racist and misogynistic. And it is a movement, rather than just a few crazed individuals.

Looking at Trump and his platform tells us something but not enough. An examination of his base and their objectives is just as important. The white revanchism that exists among his base, i.e., the politics of racial and imperial revenge, flows through and from the Trump campaign like waste through a sewer. The economic anger of the Trump base is something that is very real, but it is anger seen through a racial lens and articulated through coded racial language. (Continued)

Continue reading “Why Progressives Need a National Electoral Strategy—and Fast”