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Martin Luther King was no prophet of unity. He was a radical

Source: The Guardian

Martin Luther King Jr is useful to just about everyone nowadays. For President Donald Trump, celebrating King is a chance to tell everyone that he shares “his dream of equality, freedom, justice, and peace”. For Ram trucks, it’s a chance to, well, sell trucks.

This wasn’t always the case. In 1983, 15 years after King’s death, 22 senators voted against an official holiday honoring him on the third Monday in January. The North Carolina senator Jesse Helms undertook a 16-day filibuster of the bill, claiming that King’s “action-oriented Marxism” was “not compatible with the concepts of this country”. He was joined in his opposition by Senators John McCain, Orrin Hatch, and Chuck Grassley, among others. read more

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We Need a Socialist Caucus in Congress

Source: Jacobin

To make sure newly elected socialists don’t end up looking like corporate Democrats, we need a democratic socialist caucus in Congress.

lexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory in June took the Democratic Party and media establishment by surprise. Running in New York’s fourteenth congressional district, she handily defeated one of the party’s most entrenched politicians and quickly became a national figure.

But the question suddenly became, “What now?”

There’s every reason to believe that Ocasio-Cortez’s success in NY-14 can be replicated. Previously powerful Democratic machines are sputtering. Voters are staying at home instead of turning out for Democratic National Committee–favored candidates. And as Ocasio Cortez’s race shows, a small group of committed activists with a popular message can win in elections even if they’re massively outspent. read more

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Enter the Sanders Democrat

Source: Al Jazeera

Ever since Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980 with an appeal to blue-collar whites, politicians have chased the “Reagan Democrat.” The key to capturing swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, the theory went, was to win over white workers turned off by “tax-and-spend liberalism” and the excesses of the Democratic Party.

Bill Clinton restored Democratic control of the White House in 1992 by wooing back some of these voters. His role in transforming the Democratic Party at the national level throughout the 1990s is undeniable. It was Clinton — not Reagan — who balanced the budget and ended “welfare as we know it,” cementing a long-running reorientation of his party. Where Democrats once sought to expand the welfare state, the Clinton-led party managed its decline. read more

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Europe’s Revolt Against Austerity

Source: In These Times

Syriza is part of a wave of anti-austerity leftism in Europe, much of it led by young people.

The Great Recession had political consequences across the world, but nowhere greater than in the periphery of Europe. The debt crisis the recession helped trigger allowed elites to impose severe austerity measures in Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal. These measures only worsened economic conditions—in Greece alone, GDP fell by more than one fifth and youth unemployment rose to 50 percent. read more

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Chokwe Lumumba: A Revolutionary to the End

Source: The Nation

The Jackson mayor had ambitious plans to bring “people power” and a “solidarity economy” to his city and state.

Chokwe Lumumba’s dilemma was simple: how to be a revolutionary in a decidedly non-revolutionary Mississippi.

It was a mission that seemed bound to alienate and polarize, even long before he became mayor of Jackson, home to a state capitol building flying a defiant Confederate battle flag and a city hall built by slave labor.

But when I went to Jackson to profile the newly elected Lumumba last year and in my conversations with Mississippians throughout this year, I was shocked at how hard it was to find someone who didn’t like him. Economic populists like Rickey Cole, chairman of the state Democratic Party, and his staff were keen to show solidarity with Jackson’s new administration. They talked about Lumumba’s honor and integrity, whatever their political differences. After his death, Cole called the mayor “a man by the people, of the people, and for the people.” read more

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World Cup in Qatar: Soccer in Sun and Shadow

Source: In These Times

Soccer is not meant to be played in 122-degree heat. That’s the potential labor issue FIFA heads have been dealing with in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup. The games are scheduled to be held in Qatar, a small Gulf state with a suffocating summer climate in which the average daily high in July is 106°F.

Officials have a solution to that problem: air-conditioned stadiums and, possibly, moving the event to the winter. What’s been less discussed is who exactly is going to be building those stadiums and under what conditions. Like most Gulf states, Qatar is reliant on a hyper-exploited base ofworkers, most of whom are migrants from South Asia. These laborers don’t just spend 90 minutes on a sweltering pitch—they work 12-hour shifts, every day of the week. read more