Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter
March 12, 2015
This Week: Organizing
The focus of this week is organizing.
We know that our world is going
in the wrong direction and that fundamental change is necessary. But we
are confronted with entrenched structures of economic and political
power. How can we challenge and overcome them?
Our own source of power is our
latent ability to join together and work toward common goals,
collectively. That requires organizing. Power gives way only when it is
challenged by powerful movements for change, and movements grow out of
Organizing is qualitatively
different from simple “activism”. Organizing means sustained long-term
conscious effort to bring people together to work for common goals.
In this newsletter, we feature a
number of articles, books, and other organizing resources. Many more
can be found on the Connexions Organizing Resources page at http://www.connexions.org/CxL-ORG.htm.
Also in this issue, we have
Edward Snowden on the government’s “anti-terror” legislation and John
Pilger on the rise of fascism in what used to be called the liberal
Seeds of Fire for March 12
recalls the birth of William Lyon Mackenzie, the radical leader of the
1837 rebellion in Upper Canada; the victory by 32,000 workers, most of
them young female immigrants, in the 1912 “Bread & Roses” textile
strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts; and the beginning of the “Salt
March,” led by Mohandas Gandhi, in India in 1930.
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Edward Snowden's Warning to Canada
Whistleblower Edward Snowden talks about Bill C-51 and the weak oversight of Canada's intelligence agencies.
Quote: "When [the NSA leak] first happened, I thought this was
going to be kind of a three-day story, and everybody was going to move
on, nobody was really going to care. But we've seen that this matters a
lot to people. When we talk about mass surveillance, when we talk about
the un-targeted collection of data about millions of individuals,
whether domestically within your country, or around the world, this
really changes the relationship between the government and the people
that it governs, and other people, foreign people, with whom it has
relations." Read More. Watch the video here.
Keywords: National Security - Surveillance
Why the rise of fascism is again the issue
John Pilger warns that fascism is
not ancient history; it is on the march today, in the so-called
"liberal democracies" whose chosen methods are war, and the threat of
war, coupled with increasing repression and police status apparatuses at
home. Read More
Keywords:Fascism - State Violence
Farmer Cooperatives, Not Monsanto, Supply El Salvador With Seeds
In the face of overwhelming
competition skewed by the rules of so-called "free trade", farmers in El
Salvador have managed to beat the agricultural giants like Monsanto and
Dupont to supply local corn seed to thousands of family farmers. Local
seed has consistently outperformed the transnational product, and
farmers helped develop El Salvador's own domestic seed supply-all while
outsmarting the heavy hand of free trade. Read More
Keywords: El Salvador - Seeds
Being an Organizer and Being an Activist is not the same thing
On the difference between
activists and organizers. According to Al Giordano, activists tend to
focus on events and protests with no long-term plan except to hope that
others will hear about the protests, an organizer is someone who knows
that you have to win the hearts and minds of the public in order to make
real changes. And you have to look for, and convince, the people who
still don't agree with you or are apathetic about the issue, and you
have to have to strategize about how you will find them and how you will
attempt to persuade them. Read More
Keywords: Activism/Radicalism - Organizing
Community organising - a new part of the union
In Britain, the Unite initiative
is bringing together union members and people from working-class
communities - the unemployed, pensioners, students, and others without
jobs. Unite's community branches take on issues facing working-class
people in their communities, such as housing, evictions, benefits. Says
Liane Groves of Unite, "It's about collective solidarity and finding our
solutions." Read More
Keywords: Community Organizing - Workers' Centres
Organizing with Love: Lessons from the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Campaign
Great organizing campaigns, says
Ai-jen Poo, are like great love affairs. You begin to see life through a
different lens. You change in unexpected ways. You lose sleep, but you
also feel boundless energy. You develop new relationships and new
interests. Your skin becomes more open to the world around you. Life
feels different, and it's almost like you've been reborn. And, most
importantly, you begin to feel things that you previously couldn't have
even imagined are possible. Read More
Keywords: Labour Organizing - Workers' Rights
From the Archives
Weinberg writes: "This is a cautionary story of what might happen if we
return to the bad old days of the RCMP Security Service, which was
caught disrupting and using dirty tricks against a wide range of
unsuspecting groups before it was eventually disbanded, its spying
responsibilities handed to a newly formed Canadian Security Intelligence
Service. It is important to remember this period in light of proposed
legislation that would expand CSIS's investigative powers as well as the
types of activities its agents, and the RCMP, will consider as threats
to the country." Read More
Keywords:National Security - Police Powers
group of activists are working to create a Nakba Museum of Memory and
Hope in Washington, D.C. The project aims to tell the Palestinian
refugee story, one that has been silenced or ignored for too long. Its
goals are to:
* Empower refugees by finally inviting them to tell their stories and share their experiences,
* Educate Americans about the Nakba and its continuous impact on present day life of the Palestinians,
* Build international solidarity and empathy with the Palestinian refugees who are scattered around the World,
* Make it known that the Nakba is not only an historical event; it is an ongoing process that has continued since 1948,
* Build a legacy that speaks to both peoples that sharing the land is indeed possible.
They are raising funds to launch the museum. To contribute, or for more information, see https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/nakba-museum-project-of-memory-and-hope
Keywords: Nakba - Palestine
The short-lived Paris Commune of 1871 lasted only a little more than two months before being ruthlessly crushed. A new book
by Yale Professor John Merriman, "Massacre: The Life and Death of the
Paris Commune," provides a remarkably detailed account of the uprising
that Karl Marx hailed as the first working-class revolution. Read More
Further reading: Karl Marx, The Civil War in France
Keywords: Paris Commune - Revolutionary Moments
is an American media and organizing project that is a voice of union
activists "who want to put the movement back in the labor movement." In
addition to its website, Labor Notes publishes books and a magazine, and
holds conferences and workshops. They promote organizing, aggressive
strategies to fight concessions, alliances with workers' centers, and
unions that are run by their members. Labor Notes is also a network of
rank-and-file members, local union leaders, and labor activists who know
the labor movement is worth fighting for. They encourage connections
between workers in different unions, workers centers, communities,
industries, and countries to strengthen the movement -- from the bottom
up. Visit them here.
Keywords: Union Organizing - Workers' Rights
manual for workers who want to take control over their lives at work.
In hundreds of first-person accounts, workers tell in their own words
how they organized and struggled to do that. The stories run from how to
ridicule a pompous boss to a years-long campaign against a
multinational corporation. The workplaces represented include factory
and white collar, public and private, in the U.S. and Canada. Each
chapter ends with questions designed to get users thinking strategically
about how to apply what they've read in their own workplaces. Read More
Keywords: Labour Organizing - Workplace Organizing
Barbara Kopple. An Oscar-winning documentary film which covers the
"Brookside Miner's Strike" in Harlan County, southeast Kentucky. The
coal company's refusal to sign a contract when mineworkers form a union
leads to a strike which lasts more than a year and which includes both
daily organizing and pitched battles between miners and their families,
and guntoting company thugs.
Keywords: Strikes - Solidarity
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March 12, 1795
Birth of William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861), Canadian journalist, publisher, reformer, politician, and rebel; leader of the 1837 Rebellion in Upper Canada.
March 12, 1912
Workers led by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) win the Lawrence, Massachusetts “Bread & Roses”
textile strike after 32,000 workers, most of them young female
immigrants, half of them under the age of 18, stay out on strike for
nine weeks demanding a wage increase, double time for overtime, and
safer working conditions.
March 12, 1955
A Salt Satyagraha (Salt March)
led by Mohandas Gandhi protests the British-imposed tax on salt in
India. Gandhi and thousands of others walk 388 kilometres from Ahmedabad
to the sea, where Gandhi himself makes salt from the sea in violation
of the British edict. Feeling their hold in India threatened by this
mass disobedience, the British imprison more than 60,000 people.
Read more →
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Thanks to Tahmid Khan and Ulli Diemer for their work on this newsletter.
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