Festival Events: 2010 Chicago Labor & Arts Festival

Watch this space for new listings of events for the May, 2010 Chicago Labor &Arts Festival. This calendar is intended to promote events that reflect the goal of celebrating the joys and struggles of working class people, and promoting the efforts of artists to respond to the social crises we face. Most events are planned independently of the Festival Committee and are the responsibility of the sponsoring organizations.

THIS EVENT:  April 30


Come celebrate May Day with Tom Morello and the One Big Union!

Tom Morello/ Getty images

Start: Apr 30 2010 – 8:00pm
End: May 1 2010 – 12:00am


Bottom Lounge

1375 W. Lake St

Chicago, IL

Details here:  http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=476463775084


THIS EVENT:  May Day Weekend

A Century+ of May Days: Labor and Social Struggles International Conference

In Chicago during May Day weekend 2010, the Institute of Working Class History is holding a conference to discuss, debate and analyze labor and social struggles (both past and present).  For registration, schedule and other information see here.


THIS EVENT:  April 30 and May 1


From My Nature is Hunger, by Luis Rodriguez

[Starting with April 1 we begin a series of poems, leading up to Jack Hirschman’s visit to Chicago in May, sponsored by the Chicago Labor & Arts Festival.    The first, by Luis J. Rodriguez, is excerpted from a longer poem and taken from The People’s Tribune‘s “Fists on Fire: Poetry from the Heart of the Revolution”  — Lew Rosenbaum]

Nightfall: Poems to Ponder in War and Uncertainty

When prisons become the fastest growth industry
Our minds and hearts become the imprisoned
When the past of blood and conquest is denied
The land gives back this blood in torrents
When war is the only imagination of the people
The people’s imagination becomes an insurrection
When we sacrifice lives, including our children’s
Evil becomes as common as breathing
When truth scares us to apathy
Our only truths come from the most fantastic lies
When enemies are whoever our leaders say they are
We won’t know an enemy from a rainbow
When power and wealth drives social policy
All policies are subject to poetic death
When my son asks, do I have to go to war?
A father’s duty is to war against war first
When people say peace is the absence of conflict
They have no idea what they’re talking about
When war forces us to die outside of ourselves,
We have to learn to live from inside our bones.

Stevie Wonder and Luis Rodriguez during Stevie's show on Thursday, July 31, 2008 on KJLH-FM, 102.3, Los Angeles. Luis talked about current issues and even sang Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" with Stevie on keyboards. Photo from Luis Rodriguez' web site


I see the lost youth of America
finding their way
with plenty to fight for, not just against.
Thousands marching across the land,
walking out of schools, putting up signs,
and talking the ears off their friends.
Rigorous, animated and brave
instead of sad and silent down the hallways.

The above poems are excerpts from a longer poem published in My Nature is Hunger by Luis J. Rodriguez

Biography of Luis J. Rodriguez: Luis J. Rodriguez has emerged as one of the leading Chicano writers in the country with fourteen published books in memoir, fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, and poetry. Luis’ poetry has won a Poetry Center Book Award, a PEN Josephine Miles Literary Award, a Paterson Poetry Book Prize, among others. His children’s booksAmerica is Her Name and It Doesn’t Have to be This Way: A Barrio Story-have won a Patterson Young Adult Book Award, two “Skipping Stones” Honor Award, and a Parent’s Choice Book Award. A short story collection, The Republic of East LA, and a novel, Music of the Mill, came out in 2001 and 2005, both from Rayo Books/Harper Collins. A a poetry collection, My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems, appeared in 2005 from Curbstone Press/Rattle Edition. Limited-edition hand-made art books and broadsides of Luis’ poems have also been made by C & C Press of Pajaro, CA for sale to collectors, universities, libraries, and other institutions, including Seven, Two Women/Dos Mujeres, and Making Medicine. Read more from Luis Rodriguez’ web site .  .  .

Posted in Poetry. 1 Comment »

Automation and Robotics News — update from Tony Zaragoza

[Note:  This issue of automation and robotics news includes an archives link.  That link will now be included in the menu bar to the right of your screen for easy access — Lew Rosenbaum]

Automation and Robotics News–March 28, 2010

Highlights: Postal automation in England, Stimulus money for robots, Automation in China, Rio Tinto robot mining, automation and solar cells, NYC computerization: costly privatization and control of workers, robotic space shuttle, and Online grocer powered by automation.

Archives: http://academic.evergreen.edu/z/zaragozt/arnews.htm


Boeing’s robo-copter flexes its muscle

Jonathan Skillings, Mon Mar 15 2010

Unmanned A160T Hummingbird demonstrates ability to conduct autonomous resupply operations, a preview of front-line operations of the not-too-distant future.


Britain: Communication Workers Union sells out postal workers

By Tony Robson, 16 March 2010

Postal workers should vote decisively against acceptance of “Business Transformation 2010 and Beyond,” the agreement worked out between Royal Mail (RM) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU). The CWU called off the national strike last year and has enforced a no-strike agreement ever since. For the past four months it has participated in closed door meetings with management—chaired by Trades Union Congress representative Roger Poole. Its agreement to the confidentiality clause and the drawn out nature of the talks is because RM remains unchanged in its main objectives. The problem for the CWU has been how to package an agreement antithetical to its members’ interests. Secrecy is being followed by deception. CWU Deputy General Secretary Dave Ward said in announcing the agreement, “We have always said that we couldn’t face away from change. The agreement recognises the reality of automation, competition and the financial challenges facing the company, but it does so in a way that puts the interests of CWU members at its heart. Both sides have committed to improving industrial relations and ensuring a more positive working relationship in the best interests of everyone at Royal Mail.”

# Brazil surgical robot fixes heart in Latin America first

Sydney Morning Herald – Mar 19, 2010

Brazilian surgeons used a multi-armed robot to repair a hole in a woman’s heart in the first operation of its kind in Latin America, they told AFP Friday.

Underground Robot to Blow Up Bunkers

Gizmodo.com (blog) – Mar 15, 2010

The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency wants a robot capable of navigating underground—drilling through soil and rock—to deliver an explosive load.

Stimulus Bill Helps Pay for Robots

Posted 15 Mar 2010 at 15:58 UTC by Rog-a-matic

To encourage small businesses to invest in equipment, stimulus bills over the last couple of years have offered the “Section 179” rules. This allows a business to accelerate depreciation on equipment which deducts from their income and therefore reduces their tax burden. Rick Heflin of the 17-employee Custom Electronics Company of Maryland was faced with the question when his tax bill came up and decided to go for a new pick-and-place system. The robot can place 4000 parts per hour and improves the firm’s throughput.

# In search of low labor costs, or automation

By Stephen Moore, March 26th, 2010

China has long been seen as a nation with a massive labor force available at world beating rates, but might that be changing? Factories in export-oriented Southern China are facing labor shortages as migrant laborers return home and realize that the grass is just as green. Driven by booming domestic demand, jobs are easier to come by and though the wages may be lower, the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the city. With skilled staff at a premium, one European machine builder with a manufacturing operation in China recently told Plastics Today that it now is almost as cheap to find a decent injection machine operator in Malaysia – at a shade over $210 per month – as it is in Shanghai at rates ranging from $235–-290 per month. That comes as a surprise given that outside of the city/state of Singapore, Malaysia has the highest labor costs among any Southeast Asian nation. So will we ever see a mass exodus of manufacturing from China to lower cost locales like Indonesia and Vietnam? Most likely the answer is a resounding “No.” For one, domestic demand in China for all manner of commodities is growing and it makes sense to serve the local market with local production. Second, companies probably often over-estimated the cost advantage of Chinese labor, and will start looking at ways to replace labor, just as they have done in higher labor-cost regions.  Sure, labor costs were a fraction in China of what they are in the West, but they might only represent a small portion of overall costs for some processing operations, and productivity might be a fraction of what it was at the processor’s home base. These savings could be wiped out by higher logistics and electricity costs, for example. Thirdly, plastics processors are realizing more and more that no matter how low labor costs might be, removing the human factor from the production flow generally leads to higher quality products. After all, robotic take-out guarantees constant cycle times and no fingerprints or scratches on the products. Prompted by higher labor costs and worker shortages, Chinese manufacturers of such commodity products as cigarette lighters are reportedly now turning to automation and finding that, if coupled with the right quality of injection machine, and then productivity can be significantly enhanced. At the higher end of the scale, foreign-owned or -managed medical molders in China already boast the same level of automation as back home. Purveyors of automation equipment could be looking forward to monster returns come April when Chinaplas opens its doors in Shanghai.

# Robots, space technology run Rio Tinto’s mining miracle

28 Mar 2010, 1300 hrs IST, AGENCIES

DAMPIER (Australia): The heavy clank of machinery rings out across a seemingly deserted Outback mine site as an invisible <http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/Robots-space-technology-run-Rio-Tintos-mining-miracle/articleshow/5734740.cms>satellite signal fires Rio Tinto’s production line into motion.  Massive stackers and reclaimers begin the task of sifting through rust-coloured piles of rich iron ore, readying them for the rail journey hundreds of kilometres from mine to port.  It’s an industrious scene — with hardly a living being in sight. “People frequently ask whether we have anyone working here at all,” one miner at Rio’s Dampier operations said.  “Due to automation and stuff most people are pretty well tucked away from the heat. There’s not a lot of manual workers.” Automation has long been a part of the mining industry, but advances in satellite, motion-sensor technology and robotics have made the stuff of science fiction a fact of everyday life. Machines which scoop the ore, dump it on a conveyor belt and hose it down are now controlled from the air-conditioned comfort of Rio Tinto’s Perth operations centre, 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) away from the arid mine pit. Hundreds of specially trained operators who once directed machines from on-site offices watch and direct the action from afar using satellite technology, with surveillance cameras feeding into some 440 monitors.

# Robots Do the Work of Multiple Solar Labs

Alyssa Danigelis | Thu Mar 25, 2010 03:00 PM ET

The National Renewable Energy Lab, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, has some new deputies in its push to develop cheaper, more efficient solar cells. Meet the NREL bots. In the shiny Process Development and Integration Laboratory (PDIL) on NREL’s Golden, Colorado campus, six special robots are assembling, measuring, and analyzing photovoltaic cells.

# Juan Gonzalez: NY Pays 230 “Consultants” $722M Per Year for Computer Project 7 Years Behind Schedule

In a cover story for the New York Daily News, Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez reports New York City is “paying some 230 ‘consultants’ an average salary of $400,000 a year for a computer project that is seven years behind schedule and vastly over budget. The payments continue despite Mayor Bloomberg’s admission the computerized timekeeping and payroll system—called CityTime—is ‘a disaster.’”


# Computer-Controlled Swarm of Bacteria Builds Tiny Pyramid

Erico Guizzo // Thu, March 25, 2010

Researchers at the NanoRobotics Laboratory of the École Polytechnique de Montréal, in Canada, are putting swarms of bacteria to work, using them to perform micro-manipulations and even propel microrobots. Led by Professor Sylvain Martel, the researchers want to use flagellated bacteria to carry drugs into tumors, act as sensing agents for detecting pathogens, and operate micro-factories that could perform pharmacological and genetic tests. They also want to use the bacteria as micro-workers for building things. Things like a tiny step pyramid.

#Upcoming Robot and AI Movie List

Posted 18 Mar 2010 at 03:56 UTC by The Swirling Brain


#Getting the Most Out of Foundry Robots

March 17, 2010
It is easy to typecast foundry robots. True, they are the tough ones, able to lift heavy loads in harsh, hot environments. But foundry robots are fully capable of playing other roles as well.  Industrial robots prove the ideal solution for a wide range of foundry jobs – from material handling to dispensing, finishing and painting. Find out how foundry robots are well-suited for many different applications.


# Phantom of the Operating Shuttle?

Posted 16 Mar 2010 by The Swirling Brain

Dvice.com reports about a mysterious Robotic Shuttle that will be launched April 19th. This is the first time I’ve even heard of such a shuttle replacement. I mean, I thought NASA dumped the idea of a shuttle completely and went for the super Apollo type mission to go to the Moon or Mars? So at a time when mothballing the old Space Shuttle debate is going ballistic, what happens? Well, it looks like the Air Force pulled a fast one and went ahead and had it’s own space shuttle secretly built by Boeing Phantom Works. The new autonomous robotic Space Shuttle is dubbed the X37B.


Drone Attacks Are Legit Self-Defense, Says State Dept. Lawyer

Nathan Hodge, March 26, 2010

America’s undeclared drone war has been controversial, for any number of reasons: Pakistani politicians have cried foul over “counterproductive” strikes. Critics worry they may create more popular support for militants. And civil liberties groups have asked whether, in effect, it amounts to a program of targeted killing. Now the State Department’s top legal adviser has offered a rationale for the ongoing campaign: Legitimate self-defense. In a keynote address last night to the American Society of International Law, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh said it was “the considered view of this administration” that drone operations, including lethal attacks, “comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.”
Read More


# Automation Powers U.K. Grocer


HATFIELD, England—In a sprawling warehouse north of London, Web grocer Ocado Ltd. is making an expensive effort to bring high-tech methods to Internet operations that are often low tech elsewhere. British online grocer Ocado Ltd. is eyeing a possible IPO that could come this summer. A key element of the pitch to investors is the company’s futuristic central warehouse in Hatfield, England. WSJ’s Paul Sonne reports. Most online grocers fulfill Web orders by gathering goods from the shelf of a local supermarket and then loading them in a truck for delivery. But Ocado has developed a highly automated, centralized operation that dispatches products to 65% of British postal codes from a single warehouse.  The operation is spread across 23 acres of floor space on an old airfield. Ocado has built a complex, automated system that gathers items using its own algorithm-driven system. Baskets travel along a 10-mile maze of conveyor belts, stopping at bagging stations where workers follow a computer’s directions, loading products and shipping off 90,000 orders a week with close to 99.9% accuracy. Ocado labors in the long shadow left by companies like Webvan, a San Francisco-based online grocery start-up that was founded in the late 1990s and extended its footprint rapidly using venture capital but went bust in 2001. Around that time, three former Goldman Sachs & Co. bankers started Ocado in a one-room office near London’s Victoria Station. Now, after 10 years of steady growth, the company is considering what could be one of the biggest IPOs on the London Stock Exchange—estimated at up to £1.1 billion ($1.65 billion)—in the next two years.

Tell Me: Why Do We Need the Publishing Industry? — John Edgar Wideman Self Publishes His Latest Book

[For years Rock And Rap Confidential has been asking us to remind them why the recording INDUSTRY is necessary.  This when recording is becoming cheaper and distribution is becoming cheaper and musicians are consistently cheated out of their royalties and . . . and similar issues are common in the publishing industry.  Probably as few or fewer writers make their money to survive from writing their novels or essays as musicians from making music.  And the history of publishers and royalties is no more honorable than that of the recording industry. Many have opted to publish their own work, but, unlike the recording industry, they have had to contend with a much more entrenched method of publication and distribution than that which greets the musician.  Plus the performance of music is a different phenomenon than the reading of nearly anything — poetry perhaps excepted; but that even may be a false exception, since it’s hard to separate early poetry from music, and the reaction to modern poetry is often as much the lyricism and sound of the language as much as the verbal content of the work.  The result of these distinctions, however, is that self publishing words suffers from a stigma that self publishing music does not.  John Edgar Wideman now steps forward to publish his latest book himself, and one of his concerns hits home.  Traditional publishing does not get his work to the audience he wants to reach.  His new work is experimental:  a writer whose novels have always been spare, concise, he trims the stories in this collection to as small as a one paragraph sudden fiction. Issued in hard cover and paper at the same time, the cost in paper is $13.99.  This is one book I am excited about this year, because of who is writing it and why he is choosing the format of writing and the method of publishing. The following interview, with Caroline Kellogg for the Los Angeles Times, is intended to whet your apetite.  — Lew Rosenbaum]

John Edgar Wideman takes a hand in publishing

He’s self-publishing his latest book, ‘Briefs: Stories for the Palm of the Mind,’ with help from the firm Lulu.

John Edgar Wideman's new book will be self published with Lulu

By Carolyn KelloggMarch 29, 2010

John Edgar Wideman is the kind of writer who can do whatever he likes. Best known for his 1984 memoir “Brothers and Keepers” and his fiction cycle “The Homewood Trilogy,” he’s won two PEN/Faulkner awards, been a National Book Award finalist and received a MacArthur “genius” grant.

He has a tenured appointment at an Ivy League university. His agent, Andrew Wylie, is one of the most powerful in the business.

So why is Wideman self-publishing his latest book, “Briefs: Stories for the Palm of the Mind”?

“Why not?” Wideman asks with a quiet smile on a Sunday afternoon in Santa Monica. In town for a staged reading from “Briefs,” Wideman sits by the window in an ad hoc greenroom as actors from “The Wire” and “Do the Right Thing” warm up nearby.

For this new book, Wideman has entered into an agreement with Lulu, the largest self-publisher in the business. In addition to “Briefs,” a collection of short shorts, or microfictions, his first three novels are also being reissued through Lulu.

A few well-known writers, including Paulo Coelho, have already published with Lulu, but Wideman is the first to sign on as part of the new Lulu VIP Author program.

It’s quite a move. Although self-publishing has been around for as long as books have been made, it has generally remained on the fringes, in part because it inverts the classic business model: Instead of getting money for their work, authors pay to publish their books.

Because of this, self-publishing tends to be seen as the final recourse for those whose work isn’t good enough for a regular publisher. But with the industry in flux, self-publishing may be losing its stigma.

A rush of stories

Wideman is a perfect case in point, for “Briefs” is no book of last resort. Featuring 100 stories, which range in length from a few pages to a single paragraph, the collection is a mix of memories, reflections and narrative. Its opening story, “Witness,” appeared in O, the Oprah Magazine.

“Stories, in a way, are about time,” Wideman says. Now 68, he holds up his hands to indicate how much of his time has passed — and the smaller span that lies ahead. “What’s that mean?” he asks. “I’ve lost the best of what I have? Or is there something that I can look forward to in another scale, as life crystalizes?”

Following in the footsteps of Richard Wright, who began to write haiku near the end of his life, and taking inspiration from Yasunari Kawabata’s “Palm-of-the-Hand Stories,” Wideman is miniaturizing. He’s taking “the same ambitions” he’s always had and writing them into drastically smaller works.

As much as these stories grow out of Wideman’s current circumstances, they’re also built to connect with busy, distracted readers. “In the pace and rhythm of life we have around us today,” he says, “it’s a struggle to get a private minute. For me, the private minute is what it’s all about. It’s what a powerful culture like ours tends to crush.”

And yet, for all that Wideman wants readers to find focus in his micro-stories, his main concern ultimately is that of a writer trying to take control of his own work. “Most people write,” he notes, “because they want independence. And that independence is threatened when you have to kowtow to the means of production.”

A squeeze

For Wideman, innovative writing has been squeezed out by the blockbuster trend in publishing. Celebrities and politicians get huge advances from publishers who hope to cash in on gossip and scandal with big returns.

“The publishers weren’t the bad guys,” he says. “It was just the kind of nature of things. But I felt frustrated by that.”

What’s interesting about this is that Wideman is an author with access, as his awards and publishing record attest. “I think I’ve done quite well, frankly,” he acknowledges, for “a poor boy from Pittsburgh.”

Pittsburgh has always played a significant role in Wideman’s writing, especially his upbringing in Homewood, a chronically depressed part of the city. In “Brothers and Keepers,” he traces the psychic toll of poverty on his family, contrasting his own experience — he attended the University of Pennsylvania on a basketball scholarship — with that of his younger brother Robby, who was drawn, inextricably, to criminal activity.

To some extent, he suggests, this has even played a part in his decision to self-publish. “Where I come from, nobody can afford to buy books,” he says. “I’ve always been frustrated by questions of audience.”

With Lulu, Wideman hopes he can do a better job of reaching readers. Self-publishing means that he can control what happens to the pieces in his book. If he wants to put them in subway cars or serialize them in a magazine or pass them out in schools, he can.

What he’s giving up

Yet while he’ll have some help with this from Lulu — in addition to his VIP author status, his son Daniel works there — going independent means giving up the infrastructure that a traditional publisher provides.

There is, at the largest level, the issue of availability. Publishers have agreements with retailers; Lulu doesn’t have the same clout.

In theory, books published by Lulu are available on Amazon.com, but “Briefs” has not shown up yet. A Lulu representative declined to comment on whether Lulu books will be available through Apple’s upcoming iBookstore, designed to launch with its iPad on Saturday.

That’s the trade-off between a traditional publisher and self-publishing with a company like Lulu: independence for service. Wideman can take his book where he likes, but it may fall to him to do it. Who else will get his stories out to readers, traditional or otherwise?

“The idea of talking individually to readers is quite appealing,” he says. “But I’m not going to become a huckster, either.”

carolyn.kellogg@ latimes.com

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

Food Inc. Screening presented by Neighborhood Writing Alliance

[If you are reading this before the evening of March 31, please also remember the release party for NWA’s latest Journal of Ordinary Thought issue Whistle Talk — Lew Rosenbaum]

Trinational Conference in Defense of Public Education

The 9th Tri-national Conference in Defense of Public Education

will be held in

Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 7 – 9, 2010

See trinationalcoalition.org

The conference will be co-hosted by FNEEQ-CSN (Federation Nationale des Enseignantes et Enseignants du Quebec) & CSQ (Centrale des Syndicats du Quebec), and will be held on the campus of UQAM (Universite du Quebec a Montreal), which is located in Downtown Montreal.

Since NAFTA created new links between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada in 1994, education union activists from the three countries have met at a conference every two to three years.  The purpose has been to deepen understanding of the impact of the neo-liberal policies exemplified by NAFTA on public education and to find ways to work together in mutual support of public education in the three countries.

This 9th conference provides another opportunity to join in this process.  While the context in each of the three countries is obviously different, we always find that there are also many similarities.  The links formed through these conferences have been important in providing mutual solidarity in times of crisis, as well as in expanding knowledge of the realities of education in our neighbouring countries.

The conference has generally had speakers from each of the three countries present on common themes, to get a transnational perspective on the issues.  Discussion then focuses on looking for the patterns and exploring ideas about common or supportive actions that might be taken in relationship to the issues.

Funding for the conferences has come from two sources.  Registration fees have covered costs of translation, since the conferences are usually conducted in English and Spanish through simultaneous translation. This year, the conference will also be translated into French. Grants from unions in Canada have provided funding to ensure that a significant number of teachers from Mexico can participate in the conference. If you or your organization is prepared to make a donation, please contact Alexa LeBLanc.

Conference Information:

If you need any assistance at all, please contact our conference planners at: trinational2010@gmail.com


Ninth Conference: Trinational Coalition for the Defense of Public Education

(Canada, the United States and Mexico)



May 7-9, 2010

UQAM, 405, rue Ste Catherine Est,

Salle Marie Gérin-Lajoie, Local J-M400 (Niveau Métro)

Montreal, Québec

Running a University Like a Hedge Fund — by Will Parrish and Darwin Bond-Graham

[Thanks to education activist Steve Miller for sending this article, published first on line in Counterpunch— Lew Rosenbaum]


March 1, 2010

Mr. DiFi Cashes in on Crisis

Who Runs the University of California?


This past July, following the California State Legislature’s decision to strip $813 million from the University of California’s Fiscal Year 2009-10 budget, the UC’s 26-member Board of Regents voted to declare “a state of financial emergency.” Such a “state of emergency,” the university’s official by-laws state, should accompany an “imminent and substantial deficiency in available university financial resources.”

The Regents also voted to grant special “emergency powers” to UC President Mark G. Yudof. Yudof promptly marshaled his new and vaguely defined authority to lay off hundreds of workers, impose pay cuts and furloughs on remaining university staff, and propose a 32 percent increase in student fees which the Regents approved in November.

At the same meeting, Regents Chairman Russell Gould announced the formation of a new UC Commission on the Future. Its de facto function has been to further the privatization of the university. Notably, Gould is one of California’s most prominent financiers, a man who served as vice chairman of Wachovia Bank during its growth as one of the leading subprime mortgage lenders in the United States. He and Yudof serve as the commission’s co-chairmen. In Gould’s words, the commission’s task is “nothing short of re-imagining” the University of California.

The State of California’s political elites and business leaders routinely use the language of crisis now whenever discussing the UC. In the past few decades, state funding of the university has suffered steady erosion. The UC now receives more funding than ever from private corporations and the federal government (the latter being in most instances pretty much the same as the former). Its various revenue streams range from student fees to several billion dollars in medical hospital revenue to private grants and donations, to its own hedge fund-like investments portfolio, to atomic bomb dollars from the Department of Energy.

Thus, despite the state budget cuts, the UC’s overall revenue reached an all-time high of $19.42 billion in the 2009-10 academic year, and the Regents’ claim that the UC faces an “imminent and substantial” funding deficit is inaccurate, to say the least. According to both the university’s own financial documents and Moody’s bond rating agency, the university had access to over $8.3 billion in unrestricted investment funds it was holding in reserve at the time.

The university has undergone a neo-liberal-style “structural adjustment” at the behest of the UC Regents, and this transformation has been accelerated during Yudof’s tenure as president. Under the leadership of California’s economic elite, the UC has become the leading prototype for a “disaster capitalist university.”

Since the mid-1990s, administrative salaries have absorbed a dramatically increasing share of the university’s overall budget. According to a study by UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus of Physics Charles Schwartz, the number of UC administrative positions increased by an almost unbelievable 118 percent from 1996 to 2006, as compared with a 34 percent increase in faculty positions and 33 percent increase in students over the same period. As a result, there are currently 3,600 UC employees who make more than $200,000 a year, many of them through administrative positions.

An even more damning revelation was made public this past October when UC Santa Cruz Professor Bob Meister published his scathing analysis of the UC administration’s use of student tuition dollars as collateral for construction bond debts. In addition to his PhD in economics, Meister serves as Chairman of the Council of University Faculties – essentially, a faculty union with representatives on all 10 of the university’s campuses. He knows what he’s talking about. According to the Regents’ own data and policy documents, the primary use of student fee revenue since 2004 has been as collateral for bonds to fund campus construction projects. In this “modified credit swap,” students are forced to take out “subprime” student loans, often charging six percent interest, so the university can borrow money at a reduced rate to construct new facilities like – to take one example — the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley, which UC Regent Richard C. Blum’s own construction company, URS Corporation, was contracted by the university to build.

And those subprime student loans? They’re often owned by big banks like Wachovia and other financial outfits that many of the UC Regents and their business partners are shareholders or executives of. So the whole cycle begins and ends with massive public and student debts, both of which increase as the Regents partake in further undermining the tax base while looting the public sector, again ratcheting up the crisis rhetoric.

UC Los Angeles instructor Bob Samuels has observed that “Moody’s even slipped into its bond rating for the UC system the need for the [UC] to restrain labor costs, increase student fees, diversify revenue streams, feed the money-making sectors, and resist the further unionization of its employees,” Samuels concludes that, “like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank, the bond raters tie access to credit to the dismantling of the public sector and the adoption of neo-liberal ideology.”

To understand fully why the University of California’s internal finances are being subjected to “economic shock therapy,” much like a Third World debtor nation under the thumb of the IMF, it’s necessary to know a bit about the history and function of the university’s power structure. Although it is nominally a public institution, the UC is not owned and governed by the State of California. Rather, it is the UC Regents who call all the shots. The Board of Regents is a corporate entity formed in 1879 for the explicit purpose of thwarting a populist social movement of small farmers who demanded that the the university become more responsive to their needs.

“During a tumultuous decade in California history,” historian John Aubrey Douglass has written, “many saw the new University of California as serving the interests of the upper classes, focusing on classical ‘gentlemanly training’ and replicating the Yankee private institutions of the East. The detractors of the university demanded that, as an instrument of social and economic development, the university primarily serve the training and research needs of agriculture and industry, the stated ‘leading objective’ of the institution under statutory law.”

During the California constitutional convention of that year, a clique of mostly San Francisco-based financiers and industrialists managed to defeat the democratic demands of farmers and small business owners. The crowning achievement of this elitist coup was the establishment of the UC Board of Regents, a corporate entity that owns and operates the university. To maintain their power against all opposition the Regents gave themselves twelve-year tenures that are explicitly meant to insulate them from any political pressures. The UC thus became what Douglass calls “a fourth branch of state government.”

Since then, the leading sectors of the California economy have self-appointed individuals who represent their economic interests on the Board. The Regents mold UC policies in broad ways that benefit capital’s leading monopoly sectors. The current going price for an appointment – probably the most prestigious one at the governor’s disposal, it should be noted – seems to be $50,000, bare minimum. Give the Gov. this sum, and you too could be a Regent.

Until relatively recently this meant that Regents would promote policies designed to build cutting edge economic sectors in and around the UC campuses, but they’d make sure to throw some of the university’s gravy to less sexy and profitable sectors of the economy. So for much of the Board’s history they’ve acted as Karl Marx’s idea of government: an executive board of the bourgeoisie, working if not for the interest of every industry, at least most of its monopoly sectors, and taking care not to destroy too many of the smaller fry. In recent years, the Board of Regents has become dominated by financiers, however. As with the economy at large, these wizards of hedge funds, credit markets, venture capital, real estate speculation, and all the other games played with billion dollar pots of money, have begun to run the university itself as a $19 billion dollar speculative bubble with ample opportunities for enormous growth through “volatility.” These new alpha Regents specialize in leveraged buyouts and privatization of publicly traded companies, and they have long practiced this same basic business philosophy on the university.

The most prominent among this cadre has been Richard Blum. As we detailed in our last CounterPunch article, Blum’s five-decade career as a finance capitalist has been distinguished by the levels of skill and panache he has applied to the time-honored task of siphoning off public money into one’s own corporate coffers, as well as those of one’s financial and political allies. Blum, who is married to US Senator Dianne Feinstein, is one of the leading power-brokers in the Democratic Party within both California and the United States.

Notably, it was Blum who virtually hand-picked President Yudof for UC President, having chaired the selection committee that oversaw Yudof’s appointment. At a March 2008 press conference heralding the Yudof hiring, the San Francisco Chronicle noted that Blum seemed “visibly ecstatic.” In April, the Chronicle quoted Blum again, saying of Yudof, “we disagree on almost nothing. If I were giving Mark a grade, I would give him an A-plus.”

Another prime example of the university’s “investors’ club” (the title of an upcoming series by investigative reporter Peter Byrne) is Gerald Parsky, a San Diego venture capitalist who reportedly commutes daily by jet to Los Angeles. As a Republican Party powerhouse, Parsky was so influential during his 1996-2008 tenure on the Regents that the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) dubbed a particularly influential faction of the Board “The Parsky Clique.” In addition to being president of Los Angeles-based Aurora Capital, recent additions to Parsky’s resume include acting as senior economic advisor to John McCain presidential campaign and as chairman of the Schwarzenegger administration’s Commission on the 21st Century Economy. Just as Parsky helped steer the UC toward ever-greater privatization throughout his tenure as a Regent, his commission issued a series of recommendations on reforming the state’s tax and revenue system in a manner more favorable to big business, even prompting some observers to label the Parsky Commission’s proposals “California’s Shock Doctrine.”

Current Regents Chairman Russell Gould is another financier and California Republican Party heavy. In addition to his role at Wachovia Bank, he served as California Director of Finance in the Pete Wilson administration in the 1990s. After that, he served a stint as assets managers of the $5.5 billion J. Paul Getty Trust Fund, a charitable organization founded with money from the Getty oil fortune. The Gettys are neighbors of one Richard Blum and Dianne Feinstein in San Francisco’s uber-bourgeoise Pacific Heights neighborhood, where Mr. and Mrs. DiFi purchased a $16.5 million palatial estate in 2005.

(As an aside, the Getty Trust was run in those years by one Barry Munitz, former chancellor of the California State University System. From 1984 to 1991, Munitz was vice president of Maxxam Corporation under Charles Hurwitz, as the company clear-cut the lands and livelihoods of California North Coast residents. Munitz has since been a leading force behind shaping the California Business Roundtable’s public education policy agenda, which strongly favors neo-liberal privatization.)

Another Regent, Paul Wachter, acts as Gov. Schwarzengger’s personal financial adviser. Regent George Marcus is a lead organizer of The Real Estate Roundtable, the main political voice of real estate capital in the United States. Regent Judith Hopkinson, whose tenure recently ended, is a retired executive of Ameriquest Capital Corporation, a big mortgage company that is partly responsible for precipitating the current economic crisis: Ameriquest lent billions in sub-prime loans to families across the US knowing full well they would have trouble making payments down the line as rates increased. And the list goes on.

One of the primary enterprises Richard Blum has presided over in recent years is the real estate corporation CB Richard Ellis. With projects in nearly 100 countries, CBRE is the largest brokerage firm on the planet. In a notable example of how Blum’s own particular business interests have become increasingly enmeshed with those of the university, during the course of his tenure as a Regent, CBRE has contracted with at least eight of the UC’s 10 campuses over the past decade. Most often, the company has consulted with these campuses to produce glossy reports highlighting the beneficial economic impacts on the immediate regions that host them, as well as that of California in general. The UC’s San Francisco, Davis, Berkeley, San Diego, and Riverside campuses have all paid CBRE to produce precisely these kinds of economic development treatises.

Each of these CBRE reports marshals a wide range of statistical data to promote a particular vision of the UC’s role in California’s larger economy and society. While paying occasional lip service to the UC’s contributions to “the richness of California culture,” the reports overwhelmingly emphasize the UC’s role in fostering high-tech business enterprise, premised on a decidedly Reagan-esque view of the inherent superiority of top-down economic spending. The core purpose of UC San Diego, according to one CBRE report, is to fuel “the expansion of the skilled labor pool for high-tech businesses and biotech businesses in San Diego.” UC Irvine is “an economic engine powering prosperity” owing to its various big business spin-offs and the high-tech start-up companies founded by its faculty.

The implicit conclusion is that the university’s complete subordination to capital is the primary reason for its existence, and that anything the UC could do for biotech, aerospace, real estate, and finance capital, it should do. In this way, the shift to privatization of the university’s finances, including student fees that are redirected to pay for campus construction projects, goes hand-in-hand with the efforts of state and business elites to render the university a wholesale servant of California’s neo-liberal economic machinery. Under this model, State funding is seen as akin to “local matching funds,” sweetening the overall pot for the real investors, the main purpose being not to make the university affordable for students, but rather to expand the university’s physical footprint and build fancy new research centers that will create all manner of techno-gadgetry to inflate the next bubble.

The UC Regents, in other words, have come to conceive of UC campuses almost entirely as incubators for a constellation of mini-Silicon Valleys: alliances of venture capitalists, real estate speculators, and high-tech entrepreneurs writ large upon large and overlapping swaths of California. It stands to reason that the UC’s leadership would be enamored of the region of the United States that is home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country, but which has also seen one of the sharpest declines in real wages among its working class. Silicon Valley also leads the way with the most temporary workers per capita, the highest level of economic inequity between genders, and the greatest concentration of toxic Superfund sites in the United States. Neo-liberalism in a nutshell.

Even so, the Regents and UC’s executives have long spoken in excited tones about spreading the model. The UC’s newest campus, UC Merced, was sold entirely on the premise that it would produce a critical mass of biotechnologists, nanotechnologists, engineers, and other wizards of the ruling high-tech religion that mythically creates economic booms that lift all boats. Currently, though, the Central Valley is experiencing some of the greatest levels of unemployment and highest home foreclosure rates in the country. UC Santa Cruz, traditionally the arts and humanities campus of the UC system, was transformed during this era into what some administrators happily called “Silicon Beach.” Much like with the global neo-liberal economy it has done so much to advance, the great majority who don’t already possess ample resources are left under this model to fend for themselves.

Laytonville native Natalie Rose-Engber is one local resident whose has borne the impact of the ongoing structural adjustment of the university, as of California’s economy in general. She was also one of the students involved in opposing the Regents in their treatment of the university like their own private business enterprise during her time as a student.

Rose-Engber grew up at the Black Oak Ranch, better known as “The Hog Farm”, associated with the name Wavy Gravy and just north of Laytonville. In 2007 and 2008, she was one among perhaps a few hundred UC students who often made the trek to the remote corners of the UC system where the Regents held their “public” meetings. Students would speak during the notoriously brief public comment periods, hold rallies, and occasionally disrupt the proceedings when all else failed — and all else invariably did.

“The Regents would just be sitting there typing on their computers and not listening to any of the students,” Rose-Engber recalls. “But, of course, they’re almost all multi-millionaires and directors of multi-national corporations. What do they know about being a student who’s saddled with mountains of debt they’ll spend the rest of their life paying off?”

Rose-Engber’s debt is roughly $40,000. That same sum of money, a little more than one generation prior, would have been enough to buy a first home. Though she says her time at UCSB was an invaluable part in shaping who she’s become, Rose-Engber wonders what her future has in store, having assumed such a large debt burden during a period of protracted economic decline and widespread joblessness. There are tens of thousands of young Californians who are annually being saddled with similarly crushing debts at UC and the CSU campuses, a condition that forecloses on their future choices, making virtual indentured servants of many of them.

As with every other region of California, Mendocino County is now experiencing a surplus of university grads whose futures are constrained by heavy debt. Extrapolating from the UC’s enrollment and retention data, approximately 275 students hailing from this area have been enrolled at one or another of the UC’s 10 campuses at any given point in the last decade. During the past four years alone, that group collectively paid or borrowed more than $7 million in university fee money. Had they attended the university eight years before, they would have paid less than $3 million.

As student fees continue to skyrocket, it is well to keep in mind that Blum is a part owner of a pair of for-profit education companies. Blum Capital Partners owns a large stake in Career Education Corporation, the world’s second largest private “diploma mill” corporation, which runs more than one hundred for-profit schools across the country, while also making tens of millions of dollars in sub-prime loans to its students. Blum Capital also owns a 19 per cent stake in ITT Educational Services, Inc., another for-profit school that makes millions off student loan debt. Blum, the UC Board of Regents’ resident siphoner-in-chief of public funds, purchased more than 220,000 new shares in the firm soon after the UC Regents approved the University of California’s latest fee increase this past November.

If the UC is prioritizing various toxic combinations of science and industry at the expense of most students, then what are those projects? Examples abound. In June 2006, the UC announced an agreement with the world’s second largest oil company, British Petroleum, whereby it will receive half a billion dollars per year over 10 years, principally for research into genetically modified elephant grass and other transgenic plants that are candidates to produce alcohol for non-fossil car fuel. The project is housed as a facility on campus called the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI). In keeping with the “public-private partnership” funding model that currently prevails, the State of California put up “matching funds” in the form of $73 million in construction bonds to help smooth the way for the EBI’s landing on the Berkeley campus.

This is one of UC Berkeley’s largest current applied research programs, and it naturally comes straight from the “crisis” playbook. The project is justified under the pretense of helping to solve two major crises – global climate change and its twin bogeyman, oil depletion. In reality, biofuel monoculture has become perhaps the leading cause of dispossession of small farmers in the Global South, as well as the destruction of important ecosystems such as the Amazon Basin rain forest.

Berkeley’s biofuels institute will only further enable multi-national corporations to penetrate, reorganize, poison and despoil the lands, livelihoods, and psyches of Amazon Basin and other cultures. The net impact of the EBI on the environment – that is, the actually existing ecosystems of South America, Indonesia, et al. – will be decidedly negative. On the day of the contract signing, then-UC President Robert Dynes heralded it as “a great day for Mother Earth.”

Both Dynes and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Stephen Chu, now duly installed as the Obama administration’s secretary of energy, referred to this project as a “new manhattan project.” It was a fitting designation, although the original Manhattan Project never quite ended, and it has only gained ground under a president who sold the world on “hope” and “change.” The UC continues to co-manage the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons compounds, which have designed every nuclear weapon in the US arsenal dating from the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as part of for-profit partnerships with the world’s largest construction and engineering firm, Bechtel Corporation. The UC-Bechtel contracts are worth as much as $80 billion in revenue over the course of their 20 year lifespans, a hefty chunk of change when you’re concerned with your bond ratings.

On February 1, the Obama administration unveiled a budget in which both of the UC’s weapons labs would receive a massive funding “surge.” The proposed funding increase of 23 percent at Los Alamos would be the facility’s largest since 1944. Much of that funding is for a new factory to produce plutonium bomb cores, the explosive triggers of modern thermo-nuclear warheads, for the expressed purpose of outfitting the first new nukes to be developed since the end of the Cold War. The investments are sold as the need to “maintain the US nuclear deterrent” in a time of rapidly escalating threats, allegedly, from Iran, North Korea, and potentially even nuclear-armed terrorists.

Again, crisis begets opportunity if you’re properly positioned in the most privileged circles, so it’s fitting that one of the two junior partners in the UC-Bechtel management team should be Richard Blum’s now-former company, URS Corporation. At the time Blum became a Regent, URS already had a $125 million contract to perform construction and engineering at Los Alamos. It was a natural extension of his general business philosophy that Blum would have been eying wholesale ownership of the weapons lab at the time. That in mind, perhaps a little Q & A is in order. Which entities now run the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore weapons labs? The University of California, Bechtel, and URS Corporation, along with a couple of other junior partners. Which UC Regent had a lucrative financial partnership with the Bechtel family, via a $3.5 billion medical technology supplies company named Kinetic Concepts, that precedes the UC-Bechtel weapons lab partnership by eight years? Richard Blum. Who was URS Corporation’s primary financier and vice president for three decades? Richard Blum. Which UC Regent was among a select group of policy wonks who participated in a nuclear weapons policy conference in Oslo, Norway, in 2007, organized largely by a long-time Bechtel executive, George Shultz, who has been instrumental to securing the weapons labs’ recent funding increases? We won’t even bother answering that last question – this exercise has become entirely rhetorical.

From its inception, the University of California has been an institution inherently bound up with the course of American empire. It was the 18th century British philosopher George Berkeley’s poem “America: A Prophesy” that inspired the university’s early trustees to adopt him as their flagship campus’ namesake. The poem’s final stanza perfectly captured their vision of the university’s larger social role, that of intellectual hub for ever-expanding American capitalism, which was itself to herald an end of history liberal utopia. Notably, the same stanza also helped occasion the idea of “Manifest Destiny,” the widely held belief in the mid-19th century that a Protestant God had divinely ordained the United States to expand westward to conquer and subdue the American Indians and the “wilderness” they inhabited.

“Westward the course of empire takes its way;
The first four Acts already past;
A fifth shall close the Drama with the day;
Time’s noblest offspring is the last.”

The poem’s last line provides a fitting epithet for the university, as for so many institutions instrumental to the era of US economic dominance now passing in a financial meltdown. While the aggressive and opportunistic plans of the UC Regents and their hatchet man, President Yudof, are the most immediate cause of the university’s rapid descent, it is this larger context that demands greatest attention from students, faculty, workers, and the people of California. It is highly improbable that the UC and institutions like it will ever return to an idyllic era of reliable state financial support. There will never again be low fees, an ever-expanding roster of PhDs, or increasing and diverse student enrollments. The UC is an unsustainable institution that developed as part of a wildly unsustainable period of American economic expansion. We are now amidst the world capitalist economy’s unraveling, and as an integral part of this economy, the university is coming undone right along with it.

Will Parrish is a writer and organizer living in Laytonville, CA.

Darwin Bond-Graham is a sociologist who splits his time between New Orleans, Albuquerque, and Navarro, CA.

Readers can contact Will Parrish at wparrish(a)riseup.net and Darwin Bond-Graham at darwin(a)riseup.net. They originally prepared this series for theAnderson Valley Advertiser, one of the very few real newspapers in America and probably soon the last one left standing.

First Amendment Victory for Teachers — reported in Substance News by George Schmidt

HUGE FIRST AMENDMENT VICTORY FOR CHICAGO TEACHERS!… United State Judge rules Huberman violated teachers’ First Amendment rights… March 12, 2010 order barring union campaigning in the schools is unconstitutional, says U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve in case brought by Deborah Lynch and PACT

George N. Schmidt – March 26, 2010

The federal court has ruled that Chicago schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman and the Chicago Board of Education violated the First Amendment rights of teachers when Huberman issued an order to principals on March 12, 2010 barring opposition caucuses within the Chicago Teachers Union from distributing election materials and holding meetings about the upcoming CTU election in the city’s more than 600 public schools.

Deborah Lynch (third from left) stands with supporters and fellow litigants in front of the plaque containing the Bill of Rights in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago following the hearing on March 24, 2010 in the case of “Lynch et al v. Huberman et al.” Following two days of hearings, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve issued a temporary restraining order against Ron Huberman and the Chicago Board of Education ordering that Huberman rescind his March 12 order barring union election activities in Chicago’s public schools. With Lynch above are (left to right): Taft High School teacher Danny Van Over (a plaintiff in the case), Michael Brunson (a CORE member who testified in the case), Deborah Lynch, Mary Ellen Sanchez, and Maureen Callaghan. Substance photo by George Schmidt.In a ten-page decision, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve today (March 26, 2010) reviewed the facts and the law in the case of “Deborah Lynch et al v. Ron Huberman et al” and held that Huberman’s actions violated the First Amendment rights of teachers and other union members.

“For the foregoing reasons,” Judge St. Eve wrote at the end of her ten-page decision, “the Court grants Plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction. Defendants [Huberman and the Chicago Board of Education] are prohibited from interfering with (i) Plaintiff’s right to organize before and after school meetings in Chicago Public Schools during non-work hours to discuss their cdndidacies for elected union office and (ii) Plaintiff’s right to have campaign literature distributed in school facilities, including school mailboxes, before and after school hours.”

“This is a huge victory for all CTU members, and for everyone,” Deborah Lynch told Substance after hearing about the decision. “The CTU leadership should have joined us in defending the First Amendment rights of union members against what Huberman tried to do.”

Deborah Lynch served as President of the Chicago Teachers Union from July 2001 through July 2004, when she returned to teaching at Gage Park High School in Chicago following the victory of Marilyn Stewart in a hotly contested election. Lynch is again running for CTU President on the slate of the Pro Active Chicago Teachers and school employees caucus (PACT). The union election is on May 21, 2010.

“What Ron Huberman and the Board of Education did was wrong,” attorney Jose Behar told Substance. “We are happy that the court has stopped them from trampling the First Amendment rights of Chicago teachers and other school workers.” Jose Behar, a partner in the law firm of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick Dym Ltd., was one of two attorneys who represented the plaintiffs in the case. The other was Socol Hughes associate Chris Wilmes.

The case was filed by Gage Park High School teacher Deborah Lynch and a group of members of her PACT caucus on Monday, March 22, following months of attempts by Lynch and her attorneys to stop Huberman from barring teacher election activities in the schools. On March 12, 2010, as Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools, Ron Huberman issued the most comprehensive attack on the First Amendment rights of Chicago teachers in more than 40 years. Huberman’s March 12 order told principals to bar candidates for union office from the school under penalty of disciplinary action by Huberman against the principals under the CPS Employee Discipline Code. Teachers and other union members who campaigned or tried to distribute literature in the schools were also in danger of facing suspension or even termination for exercising their rights.

The March 12 Huberman memo came during the final weeks of petitioning for candidates in the upcoming CTU election, which is scheduled to be held in all schools on May 21. It had an immediate negative impact on all of the opposition groups planning to challenge incumbent CTU president Marilyn Stewart in the May 21 union election. Only Stewart, who was permitted to hold meetings in the schools as “official union business,” was not negatively impacted by the Huberman order to principals.

All caucuses planning to oppose incumbent CTU President Marilyn Stewart reported that the chilling effect that resulted from the Huberman memo resulted in it becoming more difficult for them to get their nominating petitions signed. Due to the complex rules governing the CTU’s elections, even the petitioning portion of the election is difficult (all candidates are required to have at least five percent of all eligible voters signing their nominating petitions).

Ted Dallas, who was forced out of the union’s vice presidency by Marilyn Stewart after he reportedly opposed Stewart’s 2007 contact agreement, told Substance that members of the Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union had been ordered to leave two schools during the final days of their petition drive, in both cases because principals said the March 12 Huberman order required it.

Ted Hajiharis, who is running for CTU President on the slate of the School Employee Alliance caucus, told Substance that he had been ordered out of schools during the final days of the petition signing, and that he was even ordered to leave the parking lot of Lane Technical High School because of the March 12 Huberman order.

A number of members of CORE (the Caucus of Rank and File Educators) reported to Substance that they had been restricted in their petitioning because of the March 12 Huberman memo. CORE candidate Michael Brunson testified on behalf of the PACT lawsuit on March 24.

Despite the barriers, at least four of the five opposition caucuses turned in their nominating petitions on March 23 by the 5:00 p.m. deadline. CTU officials refuse to return Substance phone calls asking how many slates of candidates have turned in petitions.

At the same time, CTU President Marilyn Stewart was busily holding “official union meetings” in the schools on a daily basis. Her official union business was not covered by the March 12 Huberman memo.

Substance has confirmed that there are at least five slates in the race:

  • Deborah Lynch’s PACT caucus.
  • CORE, the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators, whose candidate for president in Karen Lewis.
  • CSDU, the Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union, whose presidential candidate is union treasurer Linda Porter.
  • The School Employee Alliance (SEA) caucus, which is running Ted Hajiharis for union president.
  • Representatives of CTU President Marilyn Stewart have told Substance that Stewart’s United Progressive Caucus (UPC) has also submitted its nominating petitions. UPC has refused to provide Substance with a contact person to cover the election campaign.

Candidates will not become official until the April 7 meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates, when Financial Secretary Mark Ochoa reports on the vetting of all petitions and candidates. Ochoa is running for CTU vice president on Stewart’s UPC ticket.

Teachers and others from the various caucuses had been discussing how difficult the Huberman order had made it during the final days of the petitioning.


Following the court decision, Substance requested comment from Ron Huberman and Board President Mary Richardson Lowry.

Substance was told to leave a message for Huberman through Monique Bond, the Board’s chief of communications. At press time the following day, Bond had not responded to the Substance request for comment. Huberman has refused to answer any press questions that come from Substance reporters for more than one year.

Substance left a detailed message for Mary Richardson Lowry with her secretary on March 26.


By the weekend of March 20, Deborah Lynch had gotten together her group of plaintiffs and the attorneys drafted the motion, which was filed before the court on Monday, March 22, 2010.

[For this and other articles on Chicago education visit http://www.substancenews.net/ ; current issues include attempts in the state legislature to outlaw the collective bargaining rights of teachers. — Lew Rosenbaum]

Arne Duncan’s Hotlist — a Democracy Now interview with Pauline Lipman and Jitu Brown

March 26, 2010

A Look at Arne Duncan’s VIP List of Requests at Chicago Schools and the Effects of his Expansion of Charter Schools in Chicago


When President Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, was the head of Chicago’s Public Schools, his office kept a list of powerful, well-connected people who asked for help getting certain children into the city’s best public schools. The list—long kept confidential—was disclosed this week by the Chicago Tribune. We speak with the Chicago Tribune reporter who broke the story and with two Chicago organizers about Duncan and his aggressive plan to expand charter schools. [includes rush transcript]

Azam Ahmed, reporter for the Chicago Tribune. His latest story is How VIPs Lobbied Schools

Pauline Lipman, professor of education and policy studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She is also the director of the Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education at the university and is on the coordinating committee for Teachers for Social Justice.

Jitu Brown, community and educational organizer with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization. He teaches at St. Leonard Adult High School for the formerly incarcerated.

JUAN GONZALEZ: When President Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, was the head of Chicago’s Public Schools, his office kept a list of powerful, well-connected people who asked for help getting certain children into the city’s best public schools. The list—long held confidential—was disclosed this week by the Chicago Tribune.

The paper reports that the nearly forty pages of logs show admissions requests from twenty-five aldermen, Mayor Daley’s office, the state House Speaker, the state attorney general, the former White House social secretary, and a former United States senator. The log noted “AD”—initials for Arne Duncan—as the person requesting help for ten students and a co-requestor about forty times.

A spokesman for Duncan denied any wrongdoing and said Duncan used the list, not to dole out rewards to insiders, but to shield principals from political interference.

AMY GOODMAN: Duncan was chief executive of the Chicago schools, the nation’s third-largest school system, from 2001 to 2009. During that time, he oversaw implementation of a program known as Renaissance 2010. The program’s aim was to close sixty schools and replace them with more than 100 charter schools. Now as President Obama’s Education Secretary, Duncan is overseeing a push by the administration to aggressively expand charter schools across the country.

For more, we go to Chicago. We’re joined by Azam Ahmed, the reporter for the Chicago Tribune who broke this latest story about the so-called VIP list of requests, and Pauline Lipman, professor of education and policy studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She’s also director of the Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education at the university, is on the coordinating committee for Teachers for Social Justice.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! I want to go first to Azam Ahmed. Congratulations on this exposé. I’m calling it the A-plus list, I guess, the “A” list, what you’re saying is the VIP list. Explain exactly how it worked.

AZAM AHMED: Well, Secretary Duncan had asked one of his staff members to keep a list of people who called his office on behalf of a student. So, in addition to VIPs, there were parents, siblings, folks who just happened to call Arne Duncan’s office to request that their child be considered or their sibling be considered for a selective school. But it’s noted very—it’s a very specifically spreadsheet: the date that there was a request, the name of the student, the name of the parent, their top three choices of schools, who exactly was requesting. And then there was a field for notes, a field to determine what exactly happened with the candidate, and the more explanatory dates.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And what happened to that list after it was compiled?

AZAM AHMED: It was maintained, and each individual case—and in this case, every case, whether it was a VIP or a parent, every case was followed up on, and some sort of resolution was reached. From the logs that we obtained, some of that is—it’s very clear in some cases—in other cases, it’s unclear—what the final status ended up being of the individual student.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about—

AZAM AHMED: And it was kept up until this year.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you get a hold of this list, Azam?

AZAM AHMED: There had long been rumors about such a list existing or there being some kind of a way to maybe lobby to get your kid into a school. It was never clear there was a list. But I began casting out to different sources, asking them, and, you know, it was—it was a little bit of luck, I think.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But other than them collecting the list, was there any indication that then there was actual efforts made with the various principals who were in charge of these schools to get these kids admitted?

AZAM AHMED: The central office would call the principals and ask. They’ve been unequivocal about saying they never pressured anybody to accept a student. And a few principals I’ve talked to have also said they never—they were never pressured. It was a “Hey, we have this kid. We’ve checked out his background, pretty good scores”—or whatever the case may be—“Do you a space for them?” Oftentimes on the list you’ll see they—a student might have applied to the top one or two schools in the district and their testing scores just simply weren’t high enough, and often those kids would be put in a still desirable, but not as competitive, school. So, oftentimes kids would get placed maybe not in their first one or two choices, but they would find somewhere better than perhaps their neighborhood school.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about the case of former Senator Carol Moseley Braun weighing in for a student to get in. Explain that story and who actually kept this list.

AZAM AHMED: One of Duncan’s top aides, David Pickens, was asked by Duncan to keep the list. And in this case, our understanding of it is Carol Moseley Braun was trying to get a certain student into Whitney Young, which is a very high-performing school in the city. She was getting no response from the principal. She called David Pickens, who then asked the principal to call her back. And then, whatever happened there was between the principal and Carol Moseley Braun. But ultimately, one of the two students Carol Moseley Braun was interested in having placed at Whitney Young did indeed get placed at Whitney Young.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We’re also joined by Pauline Lipman, professor of education and policy studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Could you talk about the significance of this list and also the battle of parents in Chicago to get into these elite schools in the city?

PAULINE LIPMAN: Yes, good morning. I’m really glad that Azam has done this story, because it provides some evidence for what we’ve pretty much known on the ground all along. And as you said, I think that what it reveals is a bigger scandal.

The larger scandal is that Chicago has basically a two-tiered education system, with a handful of these selective enrollment magnet schools, or boutique schools, that have been set up under Renaissance 2010 in gentrifying and affluent neighborhoods, and then many disinvested neighborhood schools. So parents across the city are scrambling to try to get their kids into a few of these schools. So instead of creating quality schools in every neighborhood, what CPS has done is created this two-tier system and actually is closing down, as you said, neighborhood schools under Renaissance 2010 and replacing them with charter schools and a privatized education system, firing or laying off, I should say, certified teachers, dismantling locally elected school councils, and creating a market of public education in Chicago, turning schools over to private turnaround operators. And this is, in the bigger, bigger scandal, this is now the national agenda under the Obama administration for education.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And amazingly, Arne Duncan doesn’t have that much of a—he’s not an educator by trade, to speak of. Could you talk a little bit about his background?

PAULINE LIPMAN: Yeah, not only is he not an educator by trade, I mean, he was a functionary in the Daley administration. But because Chicago is under mayoral control of schools, which is another part of Obama’s and Duncan’s national agenda under the federal stimulus Race to the Top funds, because of that, what we have is exactly a school system that is led at the top by virtually no educators. There is only one educator in a high position. The board are all appointed by Daley. They are all bankers or corporate heads. The CEO of schools before Duncan, Paul Vallas, was in Daley’s budget office. The new CEO, Ron Huberman, ran the Chicago Transit Authority. So we have a school system that, as a whole, is led by corporate managers, not by educators.

And in fact, that’s revealed in the fact that there’s basically no research that supports any of the interventions that they’ve made under Renaissance 2010. And there’s a good deal of research that demonstrates that it has been damaging to students and to communities and has not improved their education.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Professor Pauline Lipman. She teaches education and policy studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Arne Duncan said Katrina, you know, the hurricane, may have been the best thing to happen to New Orleans when it comes to education. How do you see what’s going on right now in Chicago playing out on the national scape with Arne Duncan, head of education in Chicago, now become the Education Secretary?

PAULINE LIPMAN: Well, I think that that’s a really good question, because I think probably the best phrase to describe what is happening nationally is what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism.” So we have a situation in which there’s a fiscal crisis in the cities and in the states. We have a situation in which we have a long history disinvested public schools in communities of color. And in that context, there is now a move to privatize public education, just as happened in New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and then that was seen as an opportunity to actually move in and privatize public schools.

So the federal stimulus money that’s being offered now to the states is being offered on the condition that they raise charter school caps, that they tie teacher evaluations to students’ test scores, that they close what they call failing schools, that they turn them over to private turnaround operators. So we have a neoliberal project nationally, which was tested out in Chicago and then is now being pushed out nationally.

And one of the ways that this was dramatized so clearly to me was that almost immediately after Arne Duncan was selected to be Secretary of Education, he flew to Detroit, which is one of the most disinvested, economically devastated cities in the country. And it was—their school system has been decimated because of the economic crisis in Detroit. And he offered millions of dollars, but on the condition that they would do the Chicago plan.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to say that we also will be broadcasting from Detroit next week, April 2nd, and for a week in June for the US Social Forum that’s taking place there. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, we’re also joined by Jitu Brown, who’s a community and educational organizer with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization. He teaches at St. Leonard Adult High School for the formerly incarcerated. Jitu Brown, I’d like to ask you, because here in New York City, there are huge battles now developing between public school parents, as the city closes more public schools and opens more charter schools or co-locates charter schools inside existing neighborhood public schools. In many neighborhoods, there are huge battles. I’d like to ask you, what happened in Chicago as Arne Duncan rolled out his Renaissance 2010? And what was the impact at the community level of this educational reform?

JITU BROWN: Yes, sir. Well, I would like to say the first thing, first thing off, that our community, which is the Mid-South area, the South Side of Chicago, from the lake—close to the lakefront, maybe ten minutes from downtown, has really experienced school closings since maybe 1997, very quietly, and because of the CHA Plan for Transformation. So as public housing units were torn down, schools were closed, and young people were moved from place to place.

In 2004, we received a phone call from a parent by the name of Brenda Norwood from Doolittle West Elementary School on the last day of school, complaining that she just found out that her child’s school was going to close. And we began to get several phone calls like that. So, consequently, we organized an initial town hall meeting, where maybe 300 people came out. And we decided to put pressure on our local alderman to find out what was the plan. We had heard inklings of a Mid-South plan, but we hadn’t seen it.

So, after a couple of actions where we took maybe forty or fifty local school council members to a meeting sponsored by the alderman, she gave us the plan, which was the Mid-South plan, where we saw there was a plan to close twenty out of the twenty-two schools in our neighborhood over a three-year period and transform them into either charter, contract, or what they were calling at that time small schools, which are really CPS performance schools. That’s around the time that me and Pauline first met each other. And we began to work together and really look to build coalition around resisting these school closings.

So, the impact was disastrous. It was students going to as many as three schools over a five-year period. There were—even in the early stages of this, there were violence spiking in several schools in our neighborhood. So, for example, Fuller Elementary School, which had become a CPS Rising Star school, being a receiving school when Raymond School closed, and then the violence at Fuller spiking and just destroying the school atmosphere. So I think that the impact really harmed education in our neighborhoods. And then you saw it throughout the entire city, because as this rolled out, schools were being closed on the West Side in North Lawndale. Schools were being closed on the Far South Side.

But due to the work of, again, our community-based organizations, powerful groups like Teachers for Social Justice, and also labor, working with SEIU Local 1, and, to some extent, the CTU, Chicago Teachers Union, we were able to push to get the school closing policy changed, where they could no longer focus on one geographic area, and they had to provide some notice to parents, and so—along with having the Mid-South plan become shelved, where they had to, you know, find another way to do it. But they knew that they couldn’t just directly come in our neighborhood and shut down schools. So, it had a horrible effect.

AMY GOODMAN: Jitu, I wanted to ask you about the militarization of the schools in Chicago. Perhaps in Chicago they’re the most militarized in the country. Five public schools have been turned into military academies. I think there are 10,000 students in uniform, over three dozen junior ROTC programs in Chicago’s high schools. Duncan said, in 2007, “I love the sense of leadership. I love the sense of discipline.”

JITU BROWN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Well, to us, it’s an indictment, because, one, many of our young people, after being underserved by the public school system, end up going to the military because they feel they have no other choice, because the quality of their education hasn’t really prepared them to go on to college, or they don’t have the resources. So they look to the military as a last resort. I experience this every day, try to talk young people out of it.

But one of the major issues is that they are throwing millions of dollars of resources into militarizing our schools and not putting those same resources into making public schools better, because there are examples of regular public schools in Chicago that serve low-income African American and Latino youth that are good schools. Beethoven is a good example on the South Side. This is a school that’s right now at about 80 percent of students reading at or above reading level. And we don’t want to just go on test scores, but if that’s the indicator, they have strong community involvement. So we feel like the priority is not to make sure that our young people have the opportunity to do better than their parents, but that the intent is to prepare young people for the armed services. And so, that’s an issue for us.

AMY GOODMAN: And your school, can you explain—it’s highly unusual. A school for the formerly incarcerated, a high school?

JITU BROWN: OK, yes, ma’am. It’s called St. Leonard’s Adult High School. It was actually started by some—I will call them revolutionary nuns at St. Leonard’s House, in partnership with faculty from Northeastern Illinois University and DePaul University. And it is an accredited high school that provides adults who have been formerly incarcerated with the opportunity to get their high school diploma, also with job—excellent job placement services. And we have a relationship right now with the City Colleges of Chicago, where several of our graduates go on to college. And then, of course, they have the counseling services to aid those men and women in their transition. It’s a fifteen-week program, very rigorous. And proud I’ve been a part of it for maybe eight years. I teach African American history there.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask Pauline Lipman about the overall effort in Renaissance 2010 and now in Arne Duncan’s attempts to take it nationwide, the impact on the neighborhood public school, well, a public school that is not just a building with a bunch of students, but is an institution in the community where the parents know each other, where they all come from the same neighborhood. What is happening to that tradition of the neighborhood public school as an institution?

PAULINE LIPMAN: Yeah, thank you for asking that question, Juan, because I think that’s a very key part of what has happened. As Jitu was saying, we’ve seen a really devastating impact in many of the neighborhoods where the schools have been closed. The school is one of the central institutions in a neighborhood, a neighborhood that’s suffering—has been suffering from unemployment, economic devastation, the transformation of public housing. And so, we see that these schools become sort of the core of the neighborhood.

And we have examples; I can describe one. Anderson Elementary School in the West Town area of Chicago, with a primarily Latino and African American population, one of the schools that you could say was really a good neighborhood school. And that area has become extremely gentrified. As it was gentrified, many people had to move out. The people who were still remaining and even people who moved out continued to send their children to that school, because it did in fact represent and anchor the neighborhood. And there was a huge battle over that a year ago, in 2008, when under Renaissance 2010, despite massive protests on the part of the parents—pickets, demonstrations, research that they did, busing of people down to the school board to protest—despite that, Chicago Public Schools closed it down, and they turned the school over to a school called LaSalle Language Academy, which is one of the most coveted, elite boutique schools in the city, for precisely the new, gentrifying, middle-class folks who had moved into that neighborhood.

So we’ve seen this happening again and again around the city. There is one ward on the West Side of the city where they no longer have a single public high school. Every high school is a charter high school. So what that means is that parents and students are looking not just in their neighborhood, but all around the city, to try to find a school to get their children into. It’s a market. They’re shopping for schools. And so, all the roles that those schools have historically played to provide support and continuity have been totally disrupted.

AMY GOODMAN: Pauline Lipman, we want to thank you very much for being with us, University of Illinois-Chicago. Jitu Brown, educational organizer with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, and Azam Ahmed of the Chicago Tribune. We’ll link to your article at democracynow.org.

Explaining Partisanship/Bipartisanship in Current Politics — March/April Rally Comrades

[The passage of the health care bill raises a number of systemic questions, including but going far beyond the issue of the quality of the bill itself.  At the victory parties of at least the last 5 presidential elections, the winner has pledged to reach across the aisle, to establish a bipartisan consensus.  One of the best examples of this was the self-congratulatory manner in which Gore conceded to Bush II.  Self-congratulatory in the sense that our democracy was praised for having avoided a civil war over a stolen election.  We are able to knit our wounds and get back to business, working together.  Meanwhile it has

Obama defines bipartisanship as including Republican ideas in bills passed largely by Democrats

become clear that Congress is more an impediment to legislation than a facilitator of it.  The current Democratic administration is likely to follow what it touts as its bi-partisan victory on health care with a push for banking reform which will find Democrats and Republicans making grandstand speeches about the excesses of Wall Street, just in time for the elections in the fall.  Expect to hear rhetoric about protecting the little guys on Main Street, not bailing out Wall Street. What’s going on, when we are at the same time seeing increasing consolidation of corporations that would make Teddy Roosevelt and his trust busting Republicans turn over in their graves.  We are reprinting this article from the current issue of Rally Comrades to help clarify what appears as chaos.  — Lew Rosenbaum]

The Politics of Bipartisanship:
Clearing the Way for the New Economy

Everyone understands that our
country is approaching a certain
political nodal line. What is the
process of political development?
First comes the objective foundation for
change, then the scattered spontaneous reac-

Obama:"Despite the political posturing that often paralyzes this town, there are many issues upon which we can and should agree."

tion to this new emerging change, then
comes the discussion, debate, and consoli-
dation of ideas about that change, and out of
that comes an organized effort to adjust to
the new reality.
The economy develops on a more or less
spontaneous basis. Politics has to be con-
scious. It has to clear the path for the sponta-
neous development of the economy.
The drive toward “bipartisanship” today
is the political expression of something new
taking place in the economy. The ruling
class needs a political motion to clear the
lumber out of the way so it can move for-
ward. They are laying the foundations for a
new political movement that is based on the
interests of corporate power that is com-
pletely merged with the state.
The confusion we see in Congress and in
politics in general is an expression of the
changes that are taking place in the econo-
my, and the need for the political relations in
this country to be adjusted to the new situa-
There is a good deal of fumbling around
about how to go about this. But in the midst
of all the confusion and opposition among
Democrats and Republicans and the com-
bined opposition from the right wing of both
parties, there are some who are seriously
trying to open the way for the new economy.
President Obama has been in the fore-
front of the call for bipartisanship. He is at-

Mr. Obama's 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe is working with McCain's 2008 presidential campaign manager, Steve Schmidt , to open the Center for Political Communication at the University of Delaware, U.S. News and World Report first reported.

tempting to establish bipartisan
commissions on everything from fiscal reg-
ulation to health care to jobs. Most recently,
Congress voted down his proposal for a bi-
partisan commission on deficit reduction,
but he has decided to move ahead with it
through executive order.
What is the meaning of these calls for bi-
partisanship? The American people didn’t
vote for Republicans and Democrats. The
majority voted for a Democratic Party pro-
gram. Today, the insistence on governing
through bipartisanship is an expression of
the spontaneous striving and impulses for
the realignment of the political relations in
this country in order to open the doors for
the development of the economy.
This is being expressed politically as the
spontaneous merging of the center of the
Democratic Party and the center of the Re-
publican Party. In this process, the left and
right wings of those parties are drifting
away from them.
By constantly demanding the merging of
the center of the Republican and Democrat-
ic parties President Obama is leading this
process of political realignment.
Under today’s conditions, bipartisan
means a new idea. New ideas are scatterings
of the old and they are parts of the new. A
new idea or a new apparatus does not spring
afresh. It is part of the old and part of the
new, and it develops by step by step ridding
itself of the old. It is not as if something new
all of a sudden occurs. We understand that
qualitative development depends on the in-
troduction of something new, that some-
thing new is always rooted in something
old. It is a quantitative development of the
new within the old that creates the crisis that
allows for the sublation that creates what we
call the new.
Anything new begins with the destruc-
tion of the old forms. The Republican and
Democratic parties are not dying, but we are
seeing the actual formation of something
new in Congress. When people hear the
word bipartisan, they usually think of tem-
porary alliances over specific issues. That is
what the word has meant in the past. The bi-
partisan commissions that they are now at-
tempting to form are a relatively permanent
alliance between a sector of the Republican
Party and a sector of the Democratic Party.
These changes are to facilitate the thor-
ough open domination of corporate interests
over the U.S. political structure. Of course,
there have been impulses in this direction
before, but it has never been as open.
One of the most important things that has
happened in the Obama administration is
the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United
v. Federal Election Commission Docket No.
08-205. That ruling allows corporations to
operate on the level of an individual citizen
in contributing to the makeup of the Con-
gress and the Presidency. It just so happens
that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
John G. Roberts is thoroughly conservative,
if not fascistic, and was positioned on the
Court during the Bush administration. Such
a situation does not simply happen. The sit-
uation evolved so that Bush could appoint
someone, who then under evolving condi-
tions, could open the way for a ruling that
provides the ruling class with a way to go
about furthering the merging of the corpora-
tions and the political structure of the U.S.
state in the interests of the capitalist class.
All branches of the government are in-
volved. We see it in the Congress, in the
Supreme Court, and in the way the Presi-
dency itself is forced to make these compro-
mises. But these compromises are essential
for the ruling class if they are going to open
the door to the next stage of the process.

Anytime there is forward motion, there is
resistance. We can see this throughout
American history. Every time there has been
a step forward in the consolidation of the
corporate control of the country, there has
been a rise, at least an attempted rise, of a
third party to counter that motion toward
corporate control. It happened after the Civ-
il War, it happened during the 1920s, it hap-
pened again in the 1930s, and it happened
again after WWII with Henry Wallace and

Henry Wallace, who ran as a third party candidate for President in 1948

the Peoples’ Progressive Party.
Parties don’t come about because some-
body wants them. They come about as an
expression of changes in the economy and
society, and the formation of a new founda-
tion.  First comes the need for something to
happen. Then there is a striving for it to hap-
pen. But it can’t happen unless there is a po-
litical motion that makes it possible.
Today, resistance is coming from the
“right” and from the “left.” As the centers of
the two main parties increasingly merge,
there will be a left wing that develops out of
that merging that will take the form of a mo-
tion toward a third party. It will not be a
workers’party, that is, a party that reflects
the class interests of the workers. It will be
one that attempts to restore things as they
were, to bring about the “good old days.” It
will not be talking about changing the pro-
ductive relations of the country.
But the third party is an absolutely indis-
pensable stage in the revolutionary process.
It will serve to further develop the con-
sciousness of the separate interests of the
masses of American people against those of
corporate interests. It is a necessary and in-
evitable step toward a workers’ party and the
embryonic form of political class conscious-
ness it represents.
But first of all the mass of American peo-
ple have to become disillusioned with bour-
geois politics. Right now, the idea that
political parties represent all classes, that
there is a national interest that all classes
share together, is widely held among the
American people. Aworkers’ party can
emerge only when the national interest be-
comes expressed as class interests, when the
well-being of America is absolutely ex-
pressed in the well-being of its working
We are reaching a new stage of American
history. Never before have we witnessed
such an open naked move for corporate
power as is going on today. The process
must move through its stages, but the foun-
dation for a workers’ party is beginning to
form. Revolutionaries must help to clear the

The drive toward “bipartisanship” today
is the political expression of something new
taking place in the economy. The ruling class
is laying the foundations for a new political
movement that is based on the interests of
corporate power that is completely
merged with the state.