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Hello, comrade subscribers. Thanks for signing up for the newsletter’s launch. This is just the beginning for Prole Position and I’m really excited about the where I hope to take it in the coming year. But for now I’m just grateful that you all took the time to read today’s issue. Can’t wait for see what you think.
You’ll have noticed, I’m sure, the brand new logo designed by my friend, the inimitable Bethany DiLello. Thanks for that, BK. You can find more of her work at dilellodesign.com. She’s a freelance graphic designer so if you ever have need for web design, logos, letterhead and business cards, invitations, or anything, throw some business her way.
Just to get you acquainted with the new format: First, some recommended reading, where I link you to some articles that I really think are worth your time. After that, icymi (in case you missed it), a bit of news you might not have seen but should have. And once you’ve eaten all your vegetables, you get to the audiovisual section which is the luxury communism cherry on top of the Prole Position sundae. The final section is yours! That’s ask a prole, where I share some of your questions, comments, and heckles. (You can submit those heckles here, by the way.)
Okay. Let’s get started.
A shooting at Standing Rock—with an FBI informant’s gun
In 1977, in the aftermath of the Wounded Knee Incident, Leonard Peltier was locked up for shooting two FBI agents. He is still in prison today, forty years later, despite pleading his innocence. That same year, Black Liberation Activist Assata Shakur was convicted of shooting a state trooper in 1973. Maintaining her innocence, she later escaped from prison and now lives in exile in Cuba. Mumia Abu Jamal, a prominent journalist and associate of MOVE, was on death row for decades and is serving a life sentence for the shooting of officer Daniel Faulkner—who curiously enough was scheduled to testify against his fellow police officers in court. Black Panther Fred Hampton was assassinated in his sleep, gunned down by FBI agents who staged a “shootout” in his apartment, where his pregnant wife lay by his side. All of these alleged shootings were frame-ups by the pigs. So when you read this story about Red Fawn Fallis, it might sound familiar. Beware, readers: COINTELPRO is alive and well. Read the full story on The Intercept.
Spirit Rider at Standing Rock, 2016. Photo: Ryan Vizzions
If you don’t hate Ron Castille, you’ve never heard of him.
The newly elected Philadelphia District Attorney, Larry Krasner, is off to a bad start. The former defender—who has, in fact, gotten some of my own comrades out of prison time on more than one occasion—appointed notorious white supremacist Ron Castille to his transition team this month. The stalwart writer, organizer, and photographer Joe Piette from our Philadelphia International Action Committee wrote in Workers World a few weeks ago about just what this might mean for Philly’s future. I recommend reading this article because it details just the litany of awful shit Castille has done in his career, from improperly failing to recuse himself from cases that he himself prosecuted as district attorney (including the case of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal), to bragging during his 1993 campaign that he is responsible for sending forty five men to death row. This is honestly required reading for anybody in the Philadelphia area.
This is the face of a man who is personally sentenced dozens of people to death. Photo: Associated Press
What does extreme poverty look like in the United States?
Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, takes a journey through the land with the most obscene inequality on the planet: the United States. 41 million people in this country, 12% of the total population, live in desperate poverty with zero cash income. Moreover, the undeniable racial apartheid encoded in our society’s institutions target Black people disproportionately. As the article notes, “[B]lack people are 13% of the US population, but 23% of those officially in poverty and 39% of the homeless.” This massive population of starving, homeless, and oppressed people are not poor in spite of the nation’s massive wealth. Rather, our nation produces so much profit precisely because of this exploitation. Read the full story in The Guardian.
Ressy Finley, homeless resident of Los Angeles, California. Photo: Dan Tuffs
Solidarity with Sex Workers!
A comrade of mine whom I met through Workers World is a former assistant editor of BGD (Black Girl Dangerous) and also a semi-retired sex worker. In December of 2015 she wrote an excellent piece about how to support and defend sex workers here in the US, where our comrades are killed at a higher rate because of their line of work than in any other place on the planet. Under the nom de plume TS Piper Darling, she describes the violence, racism, and discrimination she faces from clients, police, and fellow members of the working class like you and me. At the Workers World Party national conference last month, two members announced the formation of a new Sex Workers Committee, specifically dedicated to organizing and building solidarity among this large—and often shunned—segment of the working class. She writes, “[t]he biggest step towards showing solidarity with sex workers is to treat us all with dignity. There are many ways to show solidarity with us … but our allies need to listen to what we have to say first.” Read TS Piper Darling‘s full piece at BGD.
Jerusalem is the capitol of Palestine
Thousands marched across the country to protest Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Occupied Palestine. There’s even a dispatch from yours truly about the Philadelphia rally, where hundreds marched in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers, sisters, and siblings. Read the complete coverage on Workers.org.
Believe me when I tell you that Soviet-era electronic music is lit. Like seriously, you’re gonna want to check some of this this out. Whether you’re plugging into state-commissioned aerobics music from the year 1984 or this incredible Russian-English disco track from a group called “Telex,” you might just find yourself a new jam for the wintry months. There’s a whole playlist of this shit on Youtube, find it here.
ask a prole
Responses to the last issue about Muntadhar al-Zaidi:
“Al-Zaidi received three years in jail for expressing his contempt, anger and grief by throwing his shoes which caused no physical harm to anyone. Compare the penalty he received to the penalty G.W. Bush received for the physical harm he caused. Right, Bush received no penalty, only a pension and unending free time to leisurely paint pictures. It does not make me feel good to acknowledge this disparity.
I certainly wasn’t alone in feeling helpless while witnessing the arrogance and stupidity of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. As a person born in the U.S. I also am not alone in somehow feeling guilty about it even though we know the U.S. government often acts in contradiction to the wishes of many of its citizens. It often acts in ways contrary to the wishes of MOST of its citizens.”
Very well put. Most of the citizens agree: we need guaranteed health care for everyone; we oppose imperialist war and bloodshed; we recognize every people’s right to self-determination—without the hindrance of a foreign empire. What binds us on these issues is not ideological. These things are in our own class interests. If you have a salaried job and healthcare benefits, you still fight for universal healthcare because you stand in solidarity with members of your own class. You are disgusted by US warplanes killing Yemenis and Afghans and Iraqis because our solidarity does not stop at the border. We know those victims of US imperialism are exploited workers, too, albeit far more oppressed than anyone reading this newsletter.
And yet despite our votes, we continue to watch our “representatives” act in their own class interest, not in ours. The millionaires in Congress and the billionaire in the White House didn’t just pass legislation to cut their own taxes because they are ideologically committed to small government. They did it because they are using the state apparatus, wielding power, for their own material benefit. The revolutionary recognizes this, and aims to seize that state apparatus for the protection and benefit of their own class, the working class.
This commenter goes on to mention the fact that HRC won 3 million more votes than Trump last year. Very true. And in 2000 Gore won thousands more votes than Bush. The votes don’t matter. This proves that the Republican faction of the ruling class does what it needs to do to secure its own power, including stealing elections, while Democrat faction does not. Democrats, indeed, are too busy shackling the ambitions of the working class by convincing us that they’re the best we can hope for. We can do better than that, readers, we deserve better, and we must demand better.
“Fascinating. A lot more depth to that thrown pair of shoes than I knew before. Profoundly sad, however, that it was then spun as slapstick comedy instead of a legitimate and somewhat desperate cry for attention to Bush’s war crimes.
That said, I would love nothing more than to throw my shoes at President Fuckface.”
You and me both, comrade.
“It’s excellent to be reminded and see a profile of “the shoe thrower.” That must be the closest Bush ever got to the homes he broke (not to mention actual military service!)”
Thank you for all this, folks. I’m loving this funny and intelligent feedback. The goal of this little newsletter is not just to share with you some stuff that I think you should know—it’s also an exercise in helping us, all of us, see the events going on around us as they actually are, not as the bourgeois wants us to see them. It’s a small thing, but this is how we raise our class consciousness. I’m a worker. So are you. Let’s act accordingly. With that in mind, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday weekend. Thanks for reading.
Submit your comments here: Ask a Prole!
(Don’t worry about remaining anonymous. I’ll only ever share your name if you explicitly request me to in your comment.)
And in the words of Comrade Professor George Ciccariello-Maher:
Peace, Love, and Solidarity