Sunday, December 31, 2023

What is "Antisemitism"?


At the same time that Israel is perpetuating a genocide on the Palestinians in Gaza, North American news media are almost equally transfixed with what they describe as an outbreak of "antisemitism" at pro-Palestinian rallies and, especially, on university campuses.  This division of resources would be problematic regardless, but it is infinitely more disgusting when the supposed "antisemitism" being discussed is nothing of the sort.  You see, IF the sight of Israel's genocidal barbarism against innocent Palestinians genuinely stirred the generalized hatred of all Jewish people (re: antisemitism) then news coverage of the resulting antisemitism would be obligated to report on the way Israel's behaviour was making things worse for Jewish people everywhere.  If people are gathering in the streets to protest what they quite naturally find to be the intolerably evil actions of a government subsidized and armed and treated as an ally by their own government, and then antisemites infilitrate these rallies and share their poisonous ideas with the people there, surely it would be a good idea to explain how Israel's sadism and cruelty has contributed to the crisis?

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The Connection Between "Unforgiven" and "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood."

 The biggest reason for the soft-spot in my heart for Clint Eastwood is the flawless masterpiece "Unforgiven."  So I was watching this lady's reaction to it:

When I suddenly realized that the groovy tale of "Unforgiven" is given to us by a writer.  None of it is real.  Or, at least, it's all been mediated by the screenplay.

Which was the point of Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."  You get sucked into the story, and it really belongs to Brad Pitt's character.  But then you start to care about DiCaprio/Dalton's acting career.  And when you see how he nailed it, ... DeCaprio, playing Dalton, playing the TV villain role to redeem his entire life, ... You are elated.  Mainly it's the stuntman who is involved in the main story, but Rick Dalton benefits from it.  Actors are people too!  Even if they're all a buncha phoney-baloneys trying to make you believe in SHITE that it is against your self-interest to fucking believe in.


Saturday, December 16, 2023

Review of "Einstein: His Space and Times"


Steven Gimbel's Einstein: His Space and Times, is an excellent book.  It's a slim little book, less than 200 pages and with a rather large font, but at the same time it provides some of the very best summaries of the physics concepts that late-19th and 20th-Century physicists were wrestling with.  For the first time I genuinely understood the "Ultraviolet Catastrophe" and what it meant; just how Einstein proved the existence of atoms; how Lise Meitner recognized the splitting of the atom and nuclear fission; Heisenberg's "Uncertainty Principle"; and how Einstein proposed the quandry of "spooky action at a distance."

He also has one of the best summaries of how the otherwise respectable scientists Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark were warped by the crises of their times and by personal pique against Einstein to become (at least) nazi sympathizers and antisemites.

The book also became timely for me as it discussed Einstein's views about Zionism.  The book was written in 2015 and Einstein (obviously) was writing in the mid-20th Century, but this latest explosion of Zionist barbarism reflects the wisdom of Einstein's views.

Einstein saw himself as a citizen of the world.  In World War I he proposed a "United States of Europe."  He was born in Germany but loathed the militarism and chauvinism of Prussian-Germanism.  He was happy to move to Switzerland and he renounced his German citizenship.  He also renounced Judaism.  He'd been a fairly religious youth but science soon replaced the world of faith in miracles.

He moved back to Germany to take a prestigious post in Berlin where he would be free of teaching duties and able to pursue his theoretical investigations.  But the rise of antisemitism in the 1920's and 1930's disturbed him.  He did not see much of himself in the Eastern European Jewish refugees from pogroms in Russia, Ukraine and Poland.  But he did see them as his cousins.  He felt a kinship with them.  But at the same time he rejected the denial of Jewish heritage and the incorporation of antisemitic beliefs in those Jews who wanted to pursue assimilationism.  He came to believe there was a Jewish nation.  They were a people defined by their heritage.  He also believed that part of this heritage was a rejection of chauvinism.  A (perhaps self-interested but genuine nonetheless) devotion to justice and understanding.  As well as a respect for learning and creativity and industry based on being minorities trying to succeed in societies prejudiced against them.

He came to see Palestine as a place of safety for Jews as the situation became increasingly grim in Europe.  His vision though, was of Jews paying their way in that new land.  I guess we could see it as the "One-State Solution" proposed by anti-zionists today.  There was no need for animosity between Arabs and Jews if they lived together, worked together, respected one another.  Einstein did not call for the displacement of Arabs from the land.  Nor did he support exclusionist schemes that separated Jews from the Arab community.  He lost his faith in the whole zionist project with the rise of the Revisionist Zionist Party which he saw as nothing more than a Jewish version of fascism.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Más estupidez racista


Here's Part Six of my indepth investigation of some right-wing nut-job's unholy screed.  Last time I managed to demolish his moronic contention that socialism leads to national epidemics of laziness which then leads to moral degeneracy.  "The Devil finds work for idle hands."  Basically RWNT (Bob Bishop) said that socialists offer lazy people who have no pride the base of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and that's why North Koreans are starving.  Read the last post if you haven't already.  Here's a bit more:

At the same time, it ignores the human psyche that strives for psychological and self-actualization (top of Maslow’s pyramid), which creates a more vibrant and prosperous society.

I called this post "More racist stupidity" because at some point in his ravings, Bob Bishop starts in on immigrants.  That doesn't happen here obviously, but who gives a fuck.  The racism will come later.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Baseless Biden Impeachment Bullshit


So the Republicans are going through with the theatre of an impeachment process for Biden based on his crackhead son getting jobs based on who his daddy is and using those jobs to secure inside-deals for himself and the rest of the Biden clan.

"Today, the first year of MAGA Republicans' control of the House of Representatives ended just how it started: consumed by chaos and political stunts, with zero record of accomplishing anything for the American people," declared Christina Harvey, executive director of the progressive group Stand Up America.

"Rather than use their positions to improve the lives of everyday Americans, MAGA Republicans in the House are focused on using their power for political revenge," she charged. "That's bad for the American people, and it's a dangerous precedent for our democracy."

Harvey argued that "every second spent on this baseless inquiry is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a dereliction of duty by officials who were elected to represent the real needs of their constituents."

Says a member of a group which spent the entire Trump presidency pushing the bullshit "Russiagate" conspiracy theory.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Return to Cloud-Cuckoo Land


It's definitely not because of the quality of the ideas under discussion.  It's due to how widespread belief in such idiotic drivel exists in our society that I feel I have to engage with more of Bob Bishop's essay.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

A Healthy Society Wouldn't Be Afraid of Trump [with a couple of sentences added at the very end of the post]


Reading this article "Vermin" on CounterPunch this morning reminded me of something I've been thinking a fair bit on lately.  The article is about how Trump plans on imposing a fascist dictatorship and how his use of the word "vermin" exposes his dangerous nazi core, thereby reinforcing the danger of his authoritarian rhetoric.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Precious Liberals


As I've said elsewhere on this blog, I go to the Democratic Party cult-site "Daily Kos" for the comics. ("This Modern World," "Tom the Dancing Bug" and Jen Sorenson.  I haven't seen Brian McFadden in a while though.)  These stupid liberals have a regular page called "Russian Stuff Blowing Up" wherein they talk about real and imagined Russian losses in the war against Ukraine.  Because like good Democratic Party zombies they believe that Russia's invasion was unprovoked and that their glorious leader President Biden is helping Ukraine defend itself and its people and its democratic traditions because that's just the kind of awesome-sauce dude that Joe Biden is.

I could continue to explain why that's totally fucking stupid but I won't because I want to point out that their newest stupidity is that some of those idiots have taken to writing about Gaza as if, as US-Americans who fanatically support one of the two pro-Zionist ruling parties, in their case, the party of President Biden who is shipping weapons to Israel and doing everything he can to support Israel's GENOCIDE of the Palestinians, that they are anything but contributors to the nightmare.

Some of them pretend to be concerned about the slaughter while others (being more consistent in their partisan scuzziness) continue to find excuses for Israel while being completely blind or indifferent to how their excuses expose the hypocrisy of their condemnations of Hamas.

Because liberals are disgusting.  Conservatives are disgusting too, in their violent, fearful, paranoid lashing out.  But liberals are disgusting in their titanic hypocrisy and their nauseating sense of entitlement for praise for their empthy platitudes and their embarrasingly incoherent and ignorant analysis.

There's a reason that Canada's official policy is pro-genocide.  It's because, like Israel, we're a settler society.  We're stealing land and resources.  We aren't launching military raids or mass bombardments because we don't have to.  White people with swords, muskets and artillery imposed themselves upon the Stone-Age cultures of North America in the 16th Century and we've been immigrating here and having babies here for the subsequent four centuries.

But even with our vastly superior numbers and resources (stolen from them) we still get very defensive if they complain about our racist policies and behaviour.  Our police abuse them.  Our hospitals abuse them.  Our social workers abuse them.  Federal  bureaucrats abuse them.  When they go on a hunger-strike our "respectable" press calls it an act of terrorism.  When they blockade a railway ordinary Canucks call for the military to sweep them into prison.  When they protest oil or gas pipelines going through their territories we send the RCMP in to intimidate and abuse them.

So of course Canada sides with Israel in genocide.  Conservatives as well as liberals know that us imperialists have to stick together.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Sometimes They Write Themselves


Went to use a CIBC ATM today.  There was a bit of the bank's self-promotion on the screen.  Beside a picture of a smiling teenaged Black girl were words telling me how CIBC had raised $275 million for children's charities since ... Drum-roll please! ... duddle-dah-duddle-dah-duddle-dah-da! ... 



Are you fucking kidding?  

That's forty fucking years and Canadian bank profits have been around a billion dollars a year since the 1990's, so, you know, maybe $45,000,000,000.   What is that?  Six million a year? (Where do bank profits come from?  A lot of it comes out of our pockets.  Some of it comes from stock market gambling and investing in fossil fuels.)

Anyway, 45,000,000,000 minus 275,000,000 equals 44,725,000.  

Or 0.006111%.

You're welcome to check and correct my numbers since I'm shit at mathematics.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Choices, Part Two

In "Choices" I said that in the case of the latest iteration of the Israeli genocide of the Palestinians, while I would certainly not celebrate the Hamas attack on October 7th, 2023, nor would I unequivocally condemn it.  It was a choice, made by a brutally oppressed people, against an opponent who ... well, as I said above, and as Caitlin Johnstone demonstrates very clearly in this post, ... is trying to commit genocide against them.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Tony Blair on Henry Kissinger


Once in a while CounterPunch repays the effort of reading.  Often, sneering, juvenille preening Jeffrey St Clair's weekly column is worth a read because of the sheer mountain of remarkable factoids it contains.  The pictures above apparently led to a lawsuit from the pre-deceased Kissinger:

CounterPunch has been threatened with lawsuits from oil executives and oil kingdom sheiks, a timber baron, a homicidal governor of South Dakota, former CIA officers, a corrupt CEO of a major environmental group, killer cops, a prison warden, and numerous politicians of greater or lesser notoriety. But no legal notice was more gratifying than the one CounterPunch received when Ken Silverstein published these photos of Henry Kissinger picking his nose during a press conference on Brazil. As Ken noted at the time, “Kissinger was OK having his picture taken with murderers like Pinochet but upset when outed as a snot eater. A fucking monster.” When the photos were reprinted in Silverstein and Cockburn’s book, Washington Babylon, the caption read: “Henry the K.: a nose in every pie, a finger in every nose.”

As wonderful as those pictures are, I for some reason think that this avalanche of nonsense from mercenary psychopath Tony Blair is equally noteworthy:

There is no one like Henry Kissinger. From the first time I met him as a new Labour Party Opposition Leader in 1994, struggling to form views on foreign policy, to the last occasion when I visited him in New York and, later, when he spoke at my Institute’s annual gathering, I was in awe of him. The range of his knowledge, the insights which would tumble out of him effortlessly, the lucidity, the mastery of the English language which made him a joy to listen to on any subject, and above all the ability to take all the different elements of the most complex diplomatic challenge and weave from them something astonishing in its coherence and completeness, and, most unusual of all, leading to an answer and not just an analysis: no one could do that like Henry. If it is possible for diplomacy, at its highest level, to be a form of art, Henry was an artist.

That was certainly pretty.  Given the man though, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that Blair stole it, if not from one eulogy by someone else for someone else, then bits and pieces of it from various writers.  It's also possible that a team of elite-institution(s) educated youngsters wrote it for him.  Or it's something that the Oxford educated Blair composed all by himself with several hours of quite time and the peace of mind of great wealth and the knowledge that important people were going to hear it.

Whatever its origins, it is truly astonishing at how it manipulates language to glorify a career that was only saved from mundanity by its monstrosity.  Kissinger wrote some books about diplomacy, he helped prolong the Vietnam War, he contributed to the destruction of Cambodia and the rise of Pol Pot, he backed the murderous racist dictatorship side in the war for the independence of Bangladesh, he cynically exploited the Iraqi Kurds, he supervised the murder of Chilean democracy and condemned that nation to decades of poverty and torture, he supported Indonesia's rape of East Timor, and he lied about a Soviet intervention in the 1973 Arab-Israeli Conflict, risking a world war.

But oh how Tony Blair uses words to try to turn shit into gold!

From the first time I met him as a new Labour Party Opposition Leader in 1994, struggling to form views on foreign policy

"Struggling."  Struggling and failing.  At least on your stated terms.  If your real goal had always been to provide a cover for thieves and murderers in return for a cut of the swag, then you succeeded.  But if you still genuinely think you're serving higher purposes, like "democracy" or "human rights" then you've failed utterly.

The range of his knowledge, the insights which would tumble out of him effortlessly,

I highly doubt that.  Kissinger studied history and diplomacy.  We've seen what he did with that education.  Nobody ever said he had anything to contribute in fields outside of his major interests.  The whole statement was unsubstantiated nonsense.

the lucidity, the mastery of the English language which made him a joy to listen to on any subject

I've heard he was a good writer.  He was probably an entertaining conversationalist. (If you forgot who you were talking to.) But would he cause you to ejaculate in your pants the way Blair describes it?  Probably not.

and above all the ability to take all the different elements of the most complex diplomatic challenge and weave from them something astonishing in its coherence and completeness

But look at his actual record as stated above.  Everything he touched became an even bigger disaster than before.  Even if that was the goal (given the selfishness, delusion and inhumanity of the system he served) and there was, therefore, a "coherence" to it, ... it was all in the name of garbage.

and, most unusual of all, leading to an answer and not just an analysis

What the fuck is that even supposed to mean?

If it is possible for diplomacy, at its highest level, to be a form of art, Henry was an artist.

Jesus Christ!  Let's pretend that Kissinger really believed in the stated ideals of US foreign policy of democracy promotion, human rights, economic prosperity and international peace.

Seven more needless years of war in Vietnam after which the US-backed side still lost.  The devastation of Cambodia.  Almost a further half-century of violence and misery in the Middle East which contributed to the terrorism of 9-11, 2001.  "2001" is to differentiate that 9-11 from the Chilean 9-11 that saw the rise of a military dictatorship and lost decades for that country.  The continued oppression of the Kurdish people.  Iranian and Iraqi democracy and freedom as remote as ever.

THIS was "artistry"????

No.  This was crap.  This was the handiwork of a pompous, mercenary psychopath.  A role-model for the piece of shit who presented that tribute.

Thursday, November 30, 2023



It dawned on me, when I read that in the Hamas-Netanyahu deal to exchange hostages for prisoners, many of the "prisoners" were women and children, often arrested and held without charges, in indefinite military detention, that this was more of a "hostages for hostages" deal.  That if Hamas is to be condemned for taking innocent civilians hostage, then so too must Israel.  And we have to ask ourselves, what is the context in which Hamas specifically, and Palestinians generally, make their choices?  And what powers have the most agency in setting the parameters of those choices?

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Un'altra incursione in una terra pazza


I've decided to only attempt a reply to one paragraph of Bob Bishop's crazy right-wing rant.  That should make it more manageable as a blog post.  Here is the paragraph in its entirety:

The modern-day Jacobins are a Malthusian death cult. Their goal is about control of your mind and behavior; not submitting makes you a dissident. They exclusively focus onfulfilling Maslow’s hierarchy of physiological needs of survival and safety (i.e., North Korea) to control the masses, leading to idleness and moral decay. At the same time, it ignores the human psyche that strives for psychological and self-actualization (top of Maslow’s pyramid), which creates a more vibrant and prosperous society.

Where to begin?  There Bishop goes mentioning the Jacobins again.  Bourgeois historians fixate on the violence of the French Revolutionary Jacobins.  This ignores the reality that it was the more "moderate" or, accurately, "middle-class" Girondins who initiated the war with Europe.  It's also a little known fact that it was the Jacobin-led government in France that outlawed slavery in France and all its colonies and which declared full racial equality as well.  In my experience, the sort of person who uses "Jacobin" as a pejorative are pompous old (usually male) fuddy-duddies.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Is Netanyahu a Psychopath?


Is it possible that he could have allowed the Hamas attack to happen so as to engineer the crisis that would allow him to destroy Gaza and save his political career and also avoid the consequences being found guilty of his corruption charges? I mean, the question in the post's title is rhetorical.  Of course he's a psychopath.  Every Israeli and US official saying that Israel is trying to minimize civilian casualties is a shameless, psychopathic liar.  Is Netanyahu capable of perpetrating a bloodbath to save his own sorry skin?  Of course he is.  His is the hand on the tiller of this genocidal slaughter.

I don't usually subscribe to false-flag theories.  I don't dismiss them out of hand, but generally, in the past, there has always been something implausible about them (usually the numbers of individuals who would have to go along with them and whose silence is therefore an ongoing requirement) that causes me to reject them.

That could also hold true in this instance.  But something in the back of my head, ... when I think about the insanely disproportionate level of violence being inflicted on the Palestinians, by an entirely racist political-military establishment, while they continue to lie about minimizing casualties, while they continue to present intelligence-insulting "evidence" of Hamas command centers, while they insanely tell Palestinians to move southwards and then bomb them when they do so, ... I can't help but wonder if the monster Netanyahu is as evil and depraved to have done what I'm thinking.

If you’re just tuning in, Israeli intelligence ignored mountains of information that the October 7 attack was coming and left Israelis completely undefended, then the IDF killed significant numbers of Israelis with indiscriminate fire and pinned the blame for 100% of Israeli deaths on Hamas, and all those deaths are now being used as justification to push Gazans off their land to the south and shoot them if they try to return while Israeli officials keep talking about how great it would be to get all Palestinians out of all of Gaza.

Such a crazy coincidence how every single step of Israel’s military operations against Hamas in Gaza has looked exactly the same as what you’d expect to see if Israel was trying to permanently drive Palestinians off a large stretch of Palestinian land.

This isn’t a war against Hamas. It’s not a war at all. It’s a military operation to facilitate an ethnic cleansing. 

Hamas isn’t the target, it’s the excuse.

Israel isn’t bombing Gaza with the intention of wiping out Hamas, Israel is bombing Gaza with the intention of wiping out Gaza.


A new Guardian article says “Israel’s military estimates it has killed between 1,000 and 2,000 Hamas fighters out of a military force it believes is about 30,000 strong.” 

If Hamas was using “human shields” as we’ve been told, killing civilians should also yield a huge Hamas fatality rate, since Hamas would be hiding among civilians. Yet the IDF has managed to kill massive numbers of civilians while barely touching Hamas. Maybe they’re just lying about human shields?

The whole argument for displacing Gazans from the north to the south was to protect their lives, yet now if they try to return to the north they get shot and killed by Israeli forces. What’s the new argument for this one? Are they killing them to save their lives?


Whenever I say Israel is deliberately killing civilians, half the Israel apologists in my comments are like “NO THEY’RE NOT YOU DAMN LIAR” and the other half are “Yes they are and it’s good.”

Why do we still live in a world governed by sick people capable of such actions?  Forget about a "false-flag."  The supposed reality of this slaughter and Biden and the US political establishment's support for it, (and the Canadian political establishment as well) is disgusting enough.  More people need to sit down and think about ways to actually change this state of affairs.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Inny świat, część trzecia

This is Part III of my look at right-winger Bob Bishop's diatribe about how the "far-left" (which in Bishop's mind includes everyone from corporate tools like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, through to AOC all the way to actual leftists) is trying to destroy US-American society from within through ideological subversion.  In Part I I looked at the Soviet defector who inspired Bishop's article.  In Part II I started looking at Bishop's claims about far-left domination of the media, the universities and the Justice Department.  In this post I'll continue with Bishop's loony-tunes claim that the "far-left" also controls the USA's intelligence agencies.  

Friday, November 24, 2023

Taking Stock: Gaza


I plan on continuing with my series discussing Bob Bishop's paranoid right-wing rant.  Because the political successes of anti-immigrant, racist, right-wing politicians around the world seems to me to be indicative of the vulnerability of significant portions of the human race to his sort of scapegoating politics. 

But I just thought that it needs to be said that Israel's genocidal rampage in Gaza is a litmus test for one's humanity.  When Anglo-American writers wax philosophical about the failures of the societies of Germany, Russia, Japan, for their descent into totalitarianism or militarism, there's this unstated premise that our societies have successfully avoided such errors.  This notion is erroneous.  When one really takes stock of the amount of blood and trauma unleashed upon countries (mainly in the Middle East) in the USA's "Great Bullshit War on Terror," ... the millions of lives arrogantly destroyed and forgotten by the US imperialists and their lickspittle "alllies," and then add to that the murderous, racist criminality of Israel's assault on Gaza (and on Palestinians in the West Bank) it is clear that these are failed, rotten societies.

Nazi Germany was a totalitarian dictatorship.  People risked their lives to protest against it.  And quite a few did.  We in the Anglo-American countries don't risk as much as opponents of Hitler did.  We have, though, stupidly allowed our governments and our states to restrict our rights in their GBWT with things like the Patriot Act (in the USA) or the Anti-Terrorism Act (here in Canada).  But we still don't risk concentration camps or executions for speaking-out against our governments.  Even though the mainstream media is a useless, propagandistic joke, we do have access to other media sources that reveal the extent of the lies and the corruption and the cruelty of our actions in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Israel.

Most of the (small number of) people who read my blog don't support these policies or make apologies for Zionist mass-murder, but significant portions of our societies do.  And we do very little to stop them.  The Trudeau Liberals' failure to utterly condemn Israel's inhuman slaughter in Gaza is a disgrace.  A greater disgrace than their disgraceful standing ovation for a former Ukrainian SS soldier.

If you want to know how civilizations collapse into militarist, racist dictatorships, keep watching our own country.  Keep watching our fellow Canadians as they delude and debase themselves, and us.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Another World Part Deux

Greetings and salutations!  Last time I managed to say that I wonder how people of at least average intelligence can end up believing things so far apart from each other.  If there is a dispute and two people have widely divergent opinions and one of them is right and the other one is clearly wrong and is refuted by obvious realities, how is it that the wrong person in this scenario will still cling to their beliefs?  To illustrate this I took an unhinged right-wing rant that I'd recently read and decided to go through it line-by-line.  

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Another World Part Uno

It's actually the case that I doubt that I possess the unique ability to successfully navigate all the big questions that I deal with.  That while other people fall off the tightrope to the left or the right, I myself have managed to stay on the straight and narrow path of truth as the facts show it.  Just because Jimmy Dore and Glenn Greenwald were right about "Russiagate" it doesn't mean that I'll follow them to COVID-denialism like Dore or to seriously downplay the fascist tendencies of Trump and his followers as Greenwald does.

Just because a website presents a more accurate depiction of the Russia vs. Ukraine War doesn't mean that I fall into their incoherent Putin worship (praising his "de-nazification" aims while maintaining that this whole war has been cooked-up by the Jews).  Just because a blogger presents a compelling, fact-based feminist analysis, it doesn't have to mean that I must follow her into her racist Islamophobia and support for Israel's genocidal actions in Gaza.

You get the picture.  On and on I go on the lonely path of wherever the truth takes me.  Others succumbed to their particular delusions.  But not me.  As I said here, there are reasons why I subscribe to some beliefs while rejecting others.  But I'll state right here that I doubt myself and I agonize about where I might actually be wrong about some important subjects.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Review: Jane F. McAlevey's "No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age"


A friend of mine recommended that I read some stuff from US-American union organizer Jane F. McAlevey.  Around about the same time, when I was still a subscriber to his YouTube channel, Jimmy Dore had her on as a guest:

Yesterday I finished No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age

In No Shortcuts, McAlevey critiques not only the failed business unionism adopted by most unions, but also what she describes as the “mobilizing” model adopted by many more progressive unions. The book describes a model of “deep organizing,” based on the methods used by the emerging radical Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) unions in the 1930s and ‘40s. This was a period when working-class militancy put its stamp on U.S. history. As a result of these militant strikes and struggles, the basic industries of auto, steel, rubber, and electricity were organized for the first time – changing U.S. history. She also discusses the central importance of community organizing as an essential companion piece to powerful workplace organizing.


McAlevey draws a sharp distinction between three different organizing models: Advocacy, Mobilizing, and Organizing. She describes how “Advocacy,” the dominant method of mainstream union leaders, looks to use the courts and political lobbying to win one-time gains and does little or no mobilizing. It is ineffective and does not raise the consciousness of workers. Otherwise described as business unionism, it looks to work out an agreement with the bosses without mobilizing the workers.

The dominant section of the current union leadership see the power of the union rooted in their own “persuasive skills.” At the same time, they seek to find “common ground” with the boss. They see workers as bargaining chips. They see possible outcomes as limited by the “existing political climate,” i.e., the limits of capitalism. Example of this can be found through a quick glance at the methods of the current leadership of the UAW, the building trades, and Teamsters.

She contrasts this to the “mobilizing” model, which, while giving the appearance of being bolder and more dynamic, is very shallow and ineffective. Its central weakness is that it fails to organize an expanding base among workers, thus failing to develop the overall strength of the labor movement.

One chapter exposes the methods of David Rolf and SEIU Local 775 in Northwest Washington State, and the broader SEIU leadership among health care workers between 2005 and 2007 as a particularly obnoxious example of that strategy. In this campaign the workers were used as pawns in an elaborate scheme to use the union contract to get concessions from the Washington legislature to fund the employers, to then pay for a terrible union contract. In this whole process, the workers were passive by-standers.

Her model, by contrast is a return to “deep organizing” of workers in the workplace as done by CIO and that seeks to transform consciousness and is a starting point to sustained struggle.


McAlevey stresses that real power rests with the workers themselves. Her deep-organizing model can be broken down into the following steps:

  • Only strikes can win real gains and we need to build power in the workplace to win a strike
  • Success depends on workers building networks in the workplace
  • The first essential step is to identify natural leaders who can build such networks
  • That involves challenging these leaders to accept the risks and responsibilities
  • These leaders then need to build powerful teams around them
  • The strength of these teams needs to be tested through escalating public actions.

Workers need to build support in all areas of their life outside the workplace. The more fundamental the struggle, the stronger the structure that needs to be built. Only then will workers be prepared for what it will take to win.

If you didn't click on it, that review was from Socialist Alternative. (The top of the google search.) Here's some links to some other reviews:

Labor Notes:

Jane McAlevey’s No Shortcuts is an exciting book. It tells the stories of important struggles and it tackles the big questions facing the labor movement. McAlevey is a former staffer, organizer, and national leader of the Service Employees (SEIU) on the losing side of a power struggle, then an academic and now a consultant.

Readers will recognize the concepts McAlevey promotes as driving many of the rank-and-file struggles reported in Labor Notes over the years. She explains them well and provides historical context. If on some topics she “bends the stick” too far and misses some important subtleties or complications, she is bending it in the right direction.

McAlevey builds her argument with five cases. She compares the approaches of two nursing home organizing efforts in what she calls “Class Snuggle vs. Class Struggle.” She goes into depth on the Chicago Teachers Union strike of 2012, the successful organizing of giant Smithfield Foods in a right-to-work state, and the development of Make the Road New York, a model of community organizing.

The Commons Social Change Library:

McAlevey argues that a movement needs serious power to win serious outcomes, and this power comes from engaging organic leaders who already have influence. This specifically contrasts with the approach taken by most NGOs, and many unions, who engage with people McAlevey calls “activists” who already support the cause but don’t necessarily have a following. Instead of taking the shortcut of working with activists (which might be sufficient for a mobilising approach and low concession costs), No Shortcuts suggests doing the deeper, harder work, of winning over organic leaders.

The reasoning for this is twofold. Firstly, building majority power in a “bounded constituency” (such as is required for a strike) makes it necessary to reach out to every person in that constituency, regardless of their “preexisting interest in the union”. Real power means a committed majority, and that can’t be achieved by only working with an activist minority that already supports the cause: “because the goal is building majorities of a bounded constituency, organizers are constantly forced to engage people who may begin with little or no initial interest in being a part of any group”.

Secondly, it’s worth taking the time to identify and win over “organic leaders” because they already have influence in a workplace. Rather than find people who are supportive and work to build their influence, you find people who are influential and work to build their support. McAlevey argues that developing these leaders is more valuable than training “random volunteers”, as they start “ with a base of followers”. “They”, she notes, “are the key to scale.” So, although organic leaders don’t necessarily support the union (or the cause), they are a natural target because they have influence in the constituency and will shape the views and behaviour of other constituents.

Is this concept relevant outside union organising? While it makes sense to speak of leaders in a workplace, or in a faith community, does it make sense to talk about leaders in civil society in the same way? Outside the shop floor, are there community member who are also organic leaders — who are influential, with a base of followers?

The answer, probably, is yes. But more importantly, the key distinction here is between activists who may display commitment and “leaders” who can move others to act. Recruiting activists is not the key to scale and, in fact, limits scale. If you are using resources to train and coordinate activists who are very supportive but can’t move others to act, you won’t be able to create the sort of distributed leadership structure that mean you can scale up the operation without saddling a few professional staff with an ever-growing workload. Being able to identify leaders, distinguish activists from leaders, win over leaders and develop them as necessary, is the key to building majority power — because leaders build your capacity to grow to scale.

The part about the difference between "leaders" and "activists" reminded me of a chapter in a book I read in university The Romance of American Communism (which I see came out in a new edition in 2020).  There was one interview with a CPUSA member who went from university into the factories to spread the socialist gospel but who found that he was more a bookish nerd than leader of the proletariat.  He mentioned how genuine leaders would be talking during some workplace struggle and how on the occasions when he did speak up the natural leader (and the few others who bothered to acknowledge his existence) regarded him with pity.

Speaking of memories of other books, in the chapter where McAlevey contrasts the different methods employed in unions for nursing home unions in New England and Washington State, she mentions the radical, worker-driven local 1199.  Seeing that number reminded me of a book by an eloquent weirdo named Martin J. Levitt called Confessions of a Union Buster.  Whatever his faults, I don't believe that Levitt fabricated the scene where his union busting firm had a dinner where they invited prospective clients from the nursing home industry and played a pro-union film about the 1199 Local to get them all fired-up about hiring the firm to crush further unionization drives.

In the film (Levitt writes) there is one scene with a close-up of a Black nursing home woman's face and she says "Just give me 11-9-9."  Levitt says that the whole room erupted into racist jeers and muttering.

That chapter was pretty eye-opening.  I remember hearing in the 1990's that unions were putting resources into organizing new members.  The Washington State showed one cynical way of getting this done.  Washington State's politicians are fairly sympathetic to unions. (Relatively speaking.)  The SEIU convinced employers to let them organize the workers, give them an extra dollar an hour, and in return for a no-strike pledge (promised by the organizers with no input from the workers), taking lots of workplace issues off the table, and successfully lobbying the state legislature to subsidize the wage increase, the SEIU would get more dues-paying members.

Suffice to say, Local 1199 behaved completely different and subsequently gets MUCH better wages and working conditions. 

To conclude, I pretty much agree with everything McAlevey says.  People need to be "organized" instead of "mobilized."  (By which I mean the specific useages of the words as intended by McAlevey.)  All my ignored political campagins were dependent upon citizen activism and individual responsibilities.  My personal long-term project, "Workers as Citizens" simply acknowledged the importance of a sympathetic political-legal system for successful unionization drives.  At one time, unions were illegal, with the class-war reason being obscured by the legal justification that they were conspiracies in restraint of trade.  It was "price-fixing" by labour.

It wasn't so much a successful common-law legal challenge that got unions recognized, so much as decades of brutal fighting and the concommitant political pressure that led to victories in Britain, the USA (especially under FDR) and in Canada.  I believe that conditions for working class organization are still incredibly difficult today and that we need all the help that we can get.  Workplace democracy is another form of individual worker agency that McAlevey says is so important.

I usually don't enjoy stories about worker struggles because, being a pessimist in my own head, I don't need to read about the defeats and sufferings of ordinary people.  But McAlevey's book is a clearly written book mainly about victories and how they were achieved.

On pages 61 and 62 McAlevey talks about "settlement costs."  What is it going to cost your enemy to concede something?  If it costs very little, you might get it without much of a struggle.  If it's going to cost them a lot, prepare for a fight.  This obvious truth sadly escapes many on the left.  As she writes on page 62:

An incorrect power analysis can lead people who want to end capitalism to think that small numbers of demonstrators occupying public spaces like parks and squares and tweeting about it will generate enough power to bring down Wall Street.  Others might think that the good frames used for or derived from these occupations will marshal enough emotion to suddenly overwhelm lawmakers with the revelation that the system is unfair and the lawmakers then will institute a set of fair regulations to govern corporate capital.

In her last chapter, "Pretend Power vs. Actual Power" McAlevey talks about narrative frames and how working class organizations have to speak to workers in ways that they understand.  And given the oligarchy's massive control of the hegemonic narrative and the resources they pour into sustaining and intensifying it, this means that socialist counter-narratives have an uphill struggle just to survive.  I have said this over and over.  "Democracy" should be our watchword.  It costs us nothing to employ it.  We believe in it after all.  We don't have to reject words like "socialism" as the NDP stupidly did before incoherently trying to reclaim it a short while later.

This is an important book and a very worthwhile use of your time if you care about justice and an end to oligarchic insanity.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Trump the Ominous, Pt. III


Continuing on with my little story, the next quote from the article about Trump's Veterans Day speech shall be:

"The real threat is not from the radical right. The real threat is from the radical left, and it's growing every day—every single day," Trump claimed. "The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within."

Now then, what do you suppose Trump means with "the radical right"?  Given that quite a few right-wingers claim that the nazis were leftists?  Did Trump keep a copy of Mein Kampf on his bedside table (as one of his ex-wives claimed)? Was Trump's dad in the KKK?  Was this guy:

Really an attendee at Trump's January 6th. rally/riot?  I can't remember where I got that picture from in January 2020.  That appears to be a "Proud Boy" member/supporter behind him.  That group was certainly fans of Trump.  ("6MWE" stands for "6 Million Wasn't Enough."  The object in the eagle's talons is a fasces.)  You will occasionally see images of swastikas at both right-wing and left-wing rallies.  They are often used by the corporate media to assert that leftists or rightists (whichever group is holding the rally) are tolerating the presence of nazis at their rallies, when, in fact, the people using the swastikas are actually (rightly or wrongly) accusing the government they're protesting of being totalitarian.  But that shit-head's t-shirt is clearly PRO-nazi.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Ominous Trump, Pt. II


Continuing the themes of yesterday's post about a Common Dreams article about Trump's ominous Veterans Day speech, I'll pick up again on the many subjects brought up in Trump's statement:

The former president vowed to target communists and Marxists—ideological groups that he described as "radical left lunatics"—and "rout the fake news media until they become real."

"The real threat is not from the radical right. The real threat is from the radical left, and it's growing every day—every single day," Trump claimed. "The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within."

Monday, November 13, 2023

Ominous Trump


From CommonDreams.Org: "Trump Issues Sinister Threat to 'Root Out' Leftists If Elected in 2024":

Former U.S. President Donald Trump pledged during a Veterans Day speech on Saturday to "root out" those he described as "radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country" if he's elected in 2024, an openly fascistic threat that drew comparisons to Nazi rhetoric.

My first reaction every time I see a story about how the dangers of Trump is that if he's so dangerous, why the hell do the Democrats stick with a doddering, unpopular, stupid asshole like Joe Biden?  And, of course, they do that for the same reason that they destroyed Bernie Sanders' candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination in 2020.  You'll remember at the time that everyone from the Democrats, and the mainstream media were saying how terrifying the prospect of a Trump second-term would be.  Bernie Sanders was the most popular politician in the country at the time and he wanted to be the Democrats' standard-bearer.  Sane people would think: "Excellent!  With Sanders running against Trump we're sure to win!"

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Exhibit "A"


CounterPunch (for some reason) saw fit to post a piece of analysis that is the epitome of the way that liberals (or however you want to describe a certain strain of half-assed progressive) tend to describe issues as "complicated" to rationalize their inevitably doomed attempts to please both decent people AND [their more important constituency] powerful psychopaths.  It's an essay called "Biden's Choices" by Professor Mel Gurtov.

Let's check it out!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

More "Complicated" Issues That Cause Liberals To Scratch Their Stupid Heads


Now, please darlings: I ain't saying that "Republicans"  [or whatever other flavour of extremist right-wing stupidity you choose] haven't also imposed murderous sanctions on Venezuela.  As liberals (people I can usually get along with easier than conservatives) you expect right-wingers to be disgusting hypocrites.

But how can liberals square the circle of imposing sanctions on Venezuela for supposed human rights abuses while at the same time cossetting the undemocratic regime of Saudi Arabia, where there is no democracy, half the population have zero political rights, and there is no religious freedom, and there's a death penalty for violations of stupid religious laws, migrant workers are treated like slaves, and so-on and such forth?

Monday, November 6, 2023



It's comforting to know that if empty-headed, senile, corrupt, useless, hypocrite, narcissist, pompous, racist Joe Biden has to step aside, ... the Democratic Party will reach into its huge bag of talent and produce, ... um, ... Kamala Harris?  Pete Buttegieg?  Any one of these right-wing corporate stooges?

Because if none of those shit-heads inspire enough decent people, it looks like the fraught era of the decline of US hegemony will be managed by Trump, the grifter with the spray-on tan, the yellow comb-over, who couldn't stop telling the world how much he'd like to develop a hard-on and insert it into his daughter's vagina.

Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau can't find it in him to condemn Israel's mass-murder and Pierre Poilievre wouldn't even understand the question.