Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter

October 2, 2014

Slavery, Greed and Climate Change

This week's issue of Other Voices, we present reasons why so many people deny or ignore the very real and very near threat of climate change. We also look into the ways on how non-governmental organizations traps individuals in a cage of broken promises and ineffectualness. Other Voices also shares an article detailing how a $182 billion bail-out of tax-payer money was not enough for one bank. Finally, in this issue, we look into the horrors of American slavery and how it has shaped the United States into the economic power it is today.

Enjoy this issue of Other Voices? Want to share with friends and family? Then we encourage you to share this link. All issues of Other Voices are available on the Connexions website at /Media/CxNewsletter.htm

This Week on Connexions.org

George Marshall: Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change

Eight years ago, climate communications expert George Marshall picked up a copy of The Independent from his doorstep on a Saturday morning. Looking at the front cover of that magazine, he said, got him thinking about the "peculiarities" of climate change.In bold letters the headline read "The Melting Mountains: How Climate Change is Destroying the World's Most Spectacular Landscapes" and inside it outlined how alpine tourism is at risk with roughly 50 years left before a warmer climate begins to claim the snowpack.Marshall said what really struck him was what he saw next. "It was the Saturday newspaper, so I picked it up and out falls the travel supplement. The travel supplement is dedicated to visiting those spectacular places before they go, entirely by the medium of international flights." Read more

Rosa Luxemburg on “the Socialist Civic Virtues”

Of all the early-20th century Marxists, Rosa Luxemburg arguably made the most notable contributions to leftist democratic theory, underlining the importance of the self-emancipation of the working class, and the dangers of substitution-ism. “Let us speak plainly,” she wrote. “Historically, the errors committed by a truly revolutionary movement are infinitely more fruitful than the infallibility of the cleverest Central Committee.”

But one of her most striking and least well-understood contributions was to draw on the classical “republican” notion of “civic virtue,” as a vital part of her analysis of working-class democracy. Although the application of notions of “vice” and “virtue” to personal dispositions within the workers movement (e.g., virtues like solidarity and vices like opportunism) was no doubt already widespread by the end of the 19th century, Luxemburg may have been the first to explicitly deploy the formula of “socialist civic virtues,” and to integrate this notion into a larger “civic-republican” conception of political engagement as active participation of all in public affairs, animated by a public-spirited devotion to the self-governance of equals. Read more

NGOs Are Cages

We really need to understand the methods used by NGOs to undermine radical political organizing efforts and divert us into political dead ends. The People’s Climate March is a good case study because it’s so blatant.In South Florida, we saw the exact same process after the BP oil spill. Once the NGOs came in to the organizing meetings and were given the floor, all potential resistance was blocked, strangled, and left for dead. NGOs will descend on any organizing effort and try to take it over, dilute it, and bring it eventually to the Democratic Party. We can also see an identical set-up with the established labor unions and many other organizations. Read more

AIG shareholders sue government claiming their $182 bn bailout wasn’t favorable enough

Maurice Greenberg, former head of the American International Group (AIG), recruited prominent Wall Street players to contribute several million dollars to a lawsuit that alleges the US government bailout of AIG in 2008 was unfair to company shareholders.Greenberg, who still owns a large stake in AIG, filed the suit on behalf of his fellow shareholders. They will argue when the trial begins in Washington next week that though AIG needed the $182 billion rescue to avoid bankruptcy amid an unprecedented financial crisis, the government’s actions were unduly harsh.Three prominent investors agreed to finance around 15 percent of the case’s legal costs, which have reached tens of millions of dollars, sources told The New York Times. The investors are entitled to a cut of any damages Greenberg and shareholders collect from the US. Read more

Review: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

During the 1930s, the WPA sent out workers to interview men and women who had been slaves before the Emancipation Proclamation. It was 72 years after slavery had been abolished and the interviewees were old but their memories were still vivid. When probed by an interviewee, Lorenzo Ivy responded, “Truly, son, the half has never been told.” After the Civil War, black life during slavery was sanitized, deodorized and, above all, reported by Caucasians—not by the people who had toiled under the murderous system. To a certain extent, that one-sided view has persisted. Historians of the South—largely while men—continued the subterfuge. And even recent attempts to set the record straight have followed in the steps of their predecessors: a chapter on families, one on women, etc., looking at groups instead of individuals. Read more

Treasure from the Archives: Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress and includes more than 200 photographs from the Prints and Photographs Division that are now made available to the public for the first time.

Read more →

Book of the Week: The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution-the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America's later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy.

As historian Edward Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy. Until the Civil War, Baptist explains, the most important American economic innovations were ways to make slavery ever more profitable.Through forced migration and torture, slave owners extracted continual increases in efficiency from enslaved African Americans. Thus the United States seized control of the world market for cotton, the key raw material of the Industrial Revolution, and became a wealthy nation with global influence

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Topic of the Week: Slavery

Growing up we learned about the horrors of slavery. We learned of the utter dehumanization, the sheer violence that was employed to maintain supremacy and we learned of the justifications for this cruelty. To learn more about historical and modern slavery click here. Connexions.org features items, articles, and experts about the history of chattel slavery and the slave trade. You can also browse or use our search feature.

Website of the Week: CounterPunch.Org

CounterPunch is a monthly magazine published in the United States that covers politics in a manner its editors describe as "muckraking with a radical attitude". It has been described as left-wing by both supporters and detractors. CounterPunch magazine has published frequent commentaries by the late Alexander Cockburn and current editor-in-chief Jeffrey St. Clair and editor Joshua Frank with regular contributions by a wide range of others. It is noted for its critical coverage of both Democratic and Republican politicians and its extensive reporting of environmental and trade union issues, American foreign policy, and the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Connexions Calendar

October 4, 2014
Disability Pride March
Toronto, ON

October 8, 2014
Harperism: How Stephen Harper and his think tank colleagues have transformed Canada
Vancouver, BC

October 8, 2014
From Hatuey to Cuban Five: Cuba's Struggle for Independence
Toronto, ON

October 14-19, 2014
Calgary, AB

Read more →

Seeds of Fire

October 2, 1800

Birth of Nat Turner (1800-1831), American slave who led a slave rebellion in 1831.

October 2, 1869

Birth of Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948).

October 2, 1968

Tlatelolco massacre: Soldiers and police kill more than 100 protesters in Mexico City.

October 2, 2009

Death of Marek Edelman, doctor, political activist, veteran of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Read more →

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Thanks to Tahmid Khan and Ulli Diemer for their work on this newsletter.


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Enjoy this issue of Other Voices? Want to share with friends and family? Then we encourage you to share this link. All issues of Other Voices are available on the Connexions website at /Media/CxNewsletter.htm