DONATE NOW TO HELP UPGRADE LIBCOM.ORG

General thread about Jacobin Mag + American railroads discussion

93 posts / 0 new
Last post
ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
May 19 2015 14:06

First off, the NorthAm rail industry I know from nothing. So I don't have a specific contribution to that debate.

But for a general picture, I can certainly see a scenario where an industry is overall maintaining (or even raising) profitability while at the same time investing in capital spend and improving both labour productivity and safety. But within that overall picture, there can always be a minority of poorer performing operations that, for one reason or another, are struggling to maintain operating profitability, such that they're pushed into attempting a strategic regression from relative to absolute surplus value production by freezing capital investment, skimping maintenance and squeezing staffing levels and extending hours. Given that statistically accidents are more likely to happen in the riskiest parts, it may well then be that the accidents that do occur are implicated with poor operating practice. Taking a string of these accidents in isolation, you could draw misleading conclusions that the industry as a whole had a safety problem, even when the overall industry safety figures say the opposite. (Hasty generalization fallacy).

From an organizing point of view, the idea of selling the "industry safety problem" story to the media might be tempting in terms of providing the kind of easily-digestible "shock, horror, won't somebody please think of the children!" story that journos like. But long-term it probably won't help you build too much credibility among your target audience - the people who work in the industry and know more than the general media-consuming public, enough to know that you're not telling the whole story.

There are other challenges though, in terms of trying to set standards of best practice for the industry that will keep workers safe whether they're working in the relatively safer, profitable "mainstream" of the industry, or in the more disadvantaged marginal operations.

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
May 19 2015 16:49

It's undeniable that the number of accidents on railroads is decreasing. Yet some avoidable accidents still happen. In talking with railroaders, the #1 reason is fatigue.

Listen for yourself (click the link and then the "play" button to listen):

It comes down to being unsafe to operate a train (or any machinery) while fatigued. Period.

At the railroad safety conference in Richmond, CA on March 14, 2015, that was the main safety issue for all the railroaders, whether on freight (BNSF, CSX, NS, UP) or passenger (Amtrak & BART). But it wasn't just railroaders, it was for all industrial workers -- the USW refinery workers at the conference said they had the same safety issues around irregular schedules, forced overtime and fatigue. A power plant worker said she had the exact same safety issues around irregular schedules and fatigue too. Driving a motor vehicle while sleep-deprived is one of the biggest killers on the road.

There were 7 Amtrak workers at the conference and they all talked about how their schedules ruin family and social life. They can't go to their kids graduations or meet their kid's teachers, they can't make birthday parties, they can't make social appointments, and their whole life schedule is dictated by the arbitrary scheduling rules of the railroad.

Here were some more examples from the conference, about when disasters occurred:

    Chernobyl: 1:23 a.m.
    Bhopal: 12:40 a.m.
    Three Mile Island: 4:00 a.m.
    Exxon Valdez: 12:04 a.m.
    most mistakes on railroads: 3:00 - 5:00 a.m.

Shift-Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD):

    U.S. Mine Rescue Association wrote:
    A sleep disorder that affects people who frequently rotate shifts or work at night. Schedules of these people go against the body’s natural Circadian rhythm, and individuals have difficulty adjusting to the different sleep and wake schedule. SWSD consists of a constant or recurrent pattern of sleep interruption that results in insomnia or excessive sleepiness. This disorder is common in people who work non-traditional hours – usually between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

Fatigue-related accidents (sources: AAA Study, J. Stutts, UNC 1999):

    ● 6 times greater for night shift workers
    ● 2 times greater for rotating shift workers

Other risk factors:

    ● getting less than 6 hours sleep
    ● being awake more than 20 hours straight
    ● operating a vehicle between midnight and 6:00 am
S. Artesian
Offline
Joined: 5-02-09
May 20 2015 05:56

Of course fatigue is an issue. There's no denying it. But changes have been made to increase rest and reduce the number of "extra hazardous" shifts, and the total number of shifts an employee can work in any two week period. EDIT: removed irrelevant material.

The only thing I wanted to point out is that it is nonsense, based on available data to say that railroad worker safety is being degraded in order to increase profits. That's just not true. Do railroads make compromises between safety and efficiency? Of course. Everything a railroad does is a compromise between safety and efficiency. The British railway engineers used to explain it this way: "All signals are red. All trains are stopped. The railway is now perfectly safe." Of course, it's not exactly functioning as a railway anymore, but that's the point.

And... you cannot go around providing bullshit explanations, i.e. crude oil tank car derailments have increased due to railroads mandating use of dynamic and independent braking to reduce energy costs, and expect not to be challenged, and shown to be ignorant, by those who actually investigate the derailments, and are responsible for safe train operations.

klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
Offline
Joined: 5-07-09
Sep 21 2015 04:18

So what is the IWW or the ultraleft going to do to be a competing political center? For Anarchists / Libcoms specifically, Jacobin has as an objective to win against the Anarchist / anti state turn of the Left. Read it from the editor himself.

Sure I find it interesting, I also find it depressing.

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
Sep 21 2015 17:49

Do you have a link, Klas?

klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
Offline
Joined: 5-07-09
Sep 22 2015 01:04
Quote:
Bhaskar Sunkara: The intended audience is connected to the two distinct goals of Jacobin. The first is an intra-left goal to reassert the importance of class and Marxist analysis in the context of an increasingly anarchist-inflected left.

https://bostonreview.net/books-ideas/jake-blumgart-next-left-interview-b...

S. Artesian
Offline
Joined: 5-02-09
Sep 22 2015 11:52

Thanks for that, and there is this beauty from BS:

Quote:
I’d rather engage with the mass mainstream of U.S. liberalism. That’s the future of any left: people who identify as liberals, some of whom would be attracted to a structural critique of capitalism, especially if it offers a coherent, sane intellectual vision that’s both radical and pragmatic at the same time.

gram negative's picture
gram negative
Offline
Joined: 24-11-09
Sep 22 2015 15:20

they've been pushing the various au courant electoral parties as well, such as podemos, syriza, die linke, etc.

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
Sep 22 2015 17:37

Well, not surprising... I guess.

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Sep 22 2015 17:55

Any actually communist (anarchist/leftcom etc.) alternative must engage liberal arguments to rebut them, but must have it's focus on the working class, in terms of it's audience. True, elements of other classes (intellectuals, professionals) will be involved, but our focus should be basing our program and debates around it, on the interests of the working class.

Certainly we can propose a communist vision that is

Quote:
coherent, sane intellectual vision that’s both radical and pragmatic at the same time.

This should be easy because liberal politics, and the keynsian policies of Syriza etc. DO NOT MEET THESE CRITERIA.

We should also be flashy and slick

tongue

gram negative's picture
gram negative
Offline
Joined: 24-11-09
Sep 22 2015 23:11

While I'm not going to say that I haven't read interesting material on the Jacobin, the project is fundamentally oriented towards social democracy. This orientation reflects both the explicit political allegiances of the contributors and editors (like Sunkara) as well as what I would say is a reflection of the overwhelmingly academic social position of the avid readership and contributors (from the people that I personally know). It may be confusing to the Europeans here, but there definitely is a trend in the U.S. towards simplistic boosterism of European style social democracy, despite its long history of failure, repression, and war-mongering. A capitalism managed by social democratic parties makes sense to those embedded within academic institutions, with its bureacratic methods and modicum of welfare policies.

Sunkara has been explicit about wanting to contest the anarchist turn in the American left since Occupy. The articles in the Jacobin lack any significant concrete proposals for activity. In my readings, most function as sophisticated moral outrage. The subjects that the contributors tend to be particularly weak on are: social democracy (interviewing Die Linke and not mentioning the past 30 sorry years of the SPD and the Green Party in Germany), leftist Latin American states, and unions (they are very naive over the actual functioning of the so-called progressive unions in the U.S. while supporting a fossilized change-the-leadership strategy).

klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
Offline
Joined: 5-07-09
Sep 22 2015 23:02

I've got to agree with gram negative

also sites have changed up a bit, but for a little while they were almost identical.

at this point the magazine I think is basically the unofficial theory arm i'd say of DSA

http://www.dsausa.org/

https://www.jacobinmag.com/

gram negative's picture
gram negative
Offline
Joined: 24-11-09
Oct 2 2015 18:11

now they are providing politicians a platform to defend their repressive practices: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/09/ecuador-rafael-correa-alianza-pais-qu...

Captain Function's picture
Captain Function
Offline
Joined: 24-05-15
Oct 14 2015 00:38

So Stephanie McMillan recently wrote an anarchist/libcom critique of the role NGO's, non-profits, and business unions play in dampening class struggle.

http://skewednews.net/index.php/2015/10/13/ngos-leftish-nonprofits-suck-...

It ends with this note:

"This article was initially solicited by Jacobin magazine, went through several versions of editing which included, at their request, making the language less informal and more “academic,” and culminating in what I interpret as blatant attempts to erase the working class from its content (the editor disagrees with my interpretation). It was finally rejected by them. This is very close to my original version. Another version exists, which is co-authored—Vincent Kelley of Grinnell College kindly converted it to “academic” language when the article was still in play with Jacobin, and the content of that version still corresponds to our shared political line. Once it is also posted somewhere, I plan to add the link here."

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Mar 4 2018 23:33

Old thread, but it seems that Jacobin is bigger than ever. Its circulation is around 35,000, it launched a more theory driven journal, Catalyst. The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the organization the editor(s) of the publication are linked to, have quadrupled in size and are now by far the largest leftist organization in the U.S. There's Jacobin discussion/reading groups in around 40 U.S. cities. The DSA itself is establishing chapters in towns and cities who haven't had a public, explicitly socialist organization since the WW1-era.

I have a subscription. Most of the content is decent, even if I disagree with it. It mostly straddles the line between conventional center-left of social democracy and Leninism.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 5 2018 01:15

I read the on line stuff. Don't agree with their politics, but have done interesting pieces
Like everything, you get and take what you want out of it

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Mar 5 2018 11:12

I missed this thread the first time around, but agree Jacobin contains a mixture of readable articles (although pretty much always compatible with a left social democratic approach), alongside things with horrible politics that wouldn't be out of place in a mainstream liberal op-ed.

There was this interesting exchange:

1. A really bad right wing social democratic take on prisons from Roger Lancaster: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/08/prison-abolition-reform-mass-incarcer...

2. A response piece from prison abolitionism activists who work on restorative justice, bail funds, things like this https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/08/prison-abolition-reform-mass-incarcer...

3. A further response from the IWW IWOC (not in Jacobin) that pointed out that the response to Lancaster has failed to mention prison organisers - especially given the multiple prison labour strikes in recent years: https://www.iww.org/content/%E2%80%9Cdestroy-all-prisons-tomorrow%E2%80%...

The first article was just bad, the second article was OK but missed out some of the most radical organising against the prison system, the third article I don't think would get into the pages of Jacobin.

While I don't think it's great praxis to spend a lot of time writing responses to things in Jacobin, I do think that exchange showed the limitations of the politics of the magazine, and it's also a way of responding to it that can (for a few people at least), make it a funnel rather than a cul-de-sac.

Also to Juan's point in relation to some earlier statements on the thread. The influx of new members into DSA has involved a lot of anarchists and various categories of marxist, so that Jacobin (especially the editorial group) is in the centre or right of the politics of that organisation now (although not it's central positions which don't show much sign of changing yet). There was a funny tweet when the DSA communist caucus launched where Sunkara said he'll stay in the Democratic Socialist caucus.

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Mar 5 2018 14:01

The whole rise of Jacobin, the DSA or even the resurgence of social democratic reformism such as Corbyn and Sanders to me brings up a bunch of stuff I haven't really seen anyone try to tackle. Anarchism seems pretty marginalized now and no formal organization was really able to take advantage of its dominance as the default radical left orientation from the 1990s-2010s. Am I correct when I say that? I'm not connected to stuff like I used to, but that is my impression. If so, what does this mean?

It also seems like anarchists/libertarian communists really don't have an answer to this resurgence of social democratic reformism. "They're all the same" doesn't really resonate in any meaningful way when there are now some vast actual differences between the politicians.

I kind of agree that responding to Jacobin shouldn't be a priority, but it's bizarre to me that it isn't done more when I remember how many responses anarchists wrote to what appeared in the ISO's Socialist Worker newspaper, a publication with a fraction of the circulation and influence as Jacobin. It seems to make more sense to create their own space, rather than just responding. It's too bad no one has been able to make a libertarian left equivalent of Jacobin. It seems like the IWW is in the best position to do this, but doubt this will ever happen.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Mar 5 2018 14:59
Juan Conatz wrote:
Anarchism seems pretty marginalized now and no formal organization was really able to take advantage of its dominance as the default radical left orientation from the 1990s-2010s. Am I correct when I say that? I'm not connected to stuff like I used to, but that is my impression. If so, what does this mean?

In terms of formal organisations I think things are really bad. On the other hand on twitter and elsewhere there are thousands of people with some kind of anarchist/ultra-left/communist politics that are incredibly encouraging, a lot born in the '90s or even '00s with decent politics.

[It might have something to do with a site that makes it easy to learn about libertarian communist politics that they've more or less literally grown up with having available]. So I don't think there are less people, but they're either not in any organisation, or at least in the US, they're probably most likely to join the DSA.

Juan Conatz wrote:
It also seems like anarchists/libertarian communists really don't have an answer to this resurgence of social democratic reformism. "They're all the same" doesn't really resonate in any meaningful way when there are now some vast actual differences between the politicians.

Right it used to be both accurate, and also a common sense position (i.e. the response that a random non-voter might given if vox-popped as to why they don't vote). With the collapse of centrism since 2007, it's no longer the case. It's also no longer the case that a social democratic politician couldn't get elected in the US or UK - if Corbyn wins the next election there'll be one, question is whether there can be any meaningful reform in such a case. I think it's more likely that Corbyn ends up as a new centrism - slightly more national protectionism via state intervention in industry, but a lot less than the right wing of the Tory party wants (essentially high tariffs and isolationism as its default position as the cost of cutting immigration) at the moment, for example, which is why the CBI is quite positive towards him at the moment. So maybe a tiny rollback of some social protections removed in the past ten years, which just gets us to the end of Blair/Brown in terms of social spending, and that's going to look like 'radical left' politics.

It hasn't surprised me that people didn't make strong arguments, but it did surprise me that anarchists abandoned their own anti-electoral arguments and went pro-Corbyn.

I would say there are some answers though - like the explicit and clear support of Sanders and Corbyn for state violence (police, borders etc.) which a lot of their supporters are opposed to and which a social democratic politics can not break out of. It's seemed to me that the IWW-IWOC and IWW-GDCs offer at least a way to explicitly acknowledge that politics, but I don't really know how they operate internally or relate to the IWW as a whole. In the UK there is the anti-raids network and some local groups working against immigration detention and similar, as well as police monitoring groups, but not really the connections either between individual groups or with solfed/AF that there might be.

The strikes in the UK and US right now could also push communist politics back to the fore, but

Juan Conatz wrote:
I kind of agree that responding to Jacobin shouldn't be a priority, but it's bizarre to me that it isn't done more

This is more or less what I meant - I think there is some value in critiquing the specific ideas expressed in Jacobin that could happen more, although it should also not set the agenda of what gets talked about - but enough of us hate Jacobin there should be enough anger there to write some blog posts, it worked for me and Adolph Reed at least.

Juan Conatz wrote:
It seems like the IWW is in the best position to do this, but doubt this will ever happen.

Do you mean in print or online or both? I'd like this site to do that online, but it requires both the redesign (so it's easier to actually read things, especially on a phone) and a significant uptick in news articles and blog posts to get to a point where it's in some way keeping up with events. We've tried to broaden out the range of contributors with a degree of success but could do a lot more.

Cooked's picture
Cooked
Offline
Joined: 6-04-10
Mar 5 2018 18:18

I havent read Jacobin much but I'd say that libcom isn't really the same type of thing. From a glance Jacobin seems to function like a magazine. Deadlines, editors, graphics. Whole other ballgame if you ask me.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Mar 5 2018 20:25
Cooked wrote:
I havent read Jacobin much but I'd say that libcom isn't really the same type of thing. From a glance Jacobin seems to function like a magazine. Deadlines, editors, graphics.

It's a company producing a commodity with a more or less traditional magazine structure, it's received a lot of attention since the presidential election hence massive circulation increase.

However if we think that there is any value in communist writing on current events, which is at the 300-2,000 word length and accessible (i.e. not a theoretical journal, and not very specific like a strike bulletin), then we can compare the sorts of things that might get written about.

Let's take West Virginia, I only skimmed most of these:

Listicle of previous West Virginia strikes:
https://jacobinmag.com/2018/03/west-virginia-labor-history-teachers-stri...

Very short boilerplate rank-and-filist opinion piece:
https://jacobinmag.com/2018/03/west-virginias-militant-minority

Interview with a striker who's also some kind of union activist:
https://jacobinmag.com/2018/03/west-virginia-teachers-strike-activist-in...

Opinion piece trying to make the strike the start of a rebirth of left-populist Democratic politics (retch):
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/02/west-virginia-teachers-strike-energy-...

Slightly longer and slightly better rank-and-filist piece written by a teacher:
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/03/west-virginia-janus-right-to-work-uni...

If we look at the form of the better three articles:
- views from a teacher
- interview with a teacher actually on strike.
- very short article introducing basic historical background

These are all good genres of article that you would fully expect to see (even if we disagree with some of the specific politics expressed).

The last two:
- shoehorn into an article about voting from the Democrats - just evil and bad.
- "there is a strike and this is why we need socialist rank and filism" boilerplate - not very good but anarchist/communist groups not exactly immune from that genre of article.

Let's look at some communist articles to compare:

Linking the teachers strike to the Frontier one, good article from today:
https://anticapital0.wordpress.com/2-strikes-1-struggle-the-significance...

And It's Going Down:

IWW quick article on the communication workers:
https://itsgoingdown.org/west-virginia-teachers-ignited-fire-spreading/

A bit 'join the IWW' for me:
https://itsgoingdown.org/west-virginia-extend-strike-build-long-term-pow...

Another very short IWW how to support:
https://itsgoingdown.org/support-spread-west-virginia-teachers-strike/

Re-posted from anti-capital, it's decent analysis:
https://itsgoingdown.org/7-days-analysis-west-virginia-strike/

Short article on the decision to stay out against union recommendations to go back:
https://itsgoingdown.org/wildcat-roars-west-virginia-teachers-stay-strik...

IWW press release on same thing: https://itsgoingdown.org/west-virginia-teachers-rebel-union-attempts-end...

Picket line report from Steel City John Brown Gun Club:
https://itsgoingdown.org/supporting-west-virginia-teachers-strike-on-pic...

Might have missed one or two other ones (same for Jacobin).

It's Going Down function in between a media collective (I think they have one person full time funded by donations, although not sure exactly) and a newswire more like the old indymedias. Nearly all the West Virginia content is reposts, which is of course fine, so's ours at the moment.

I would actually say libertarian communists 1, Jacobin 0 on this, but it's pure reporting and quick-response analysis which is not really Jacobin's strength. It's Going Down is a lot more consistent at producing news stuff than libcom at the moment, although it's essentially US-only.

If we look at the differences, the big one is that the IWW/IGD/anti-capital articles are emphasising links to teachers in other states (Pittsburgh, Oklahoma) and other workers in the same state (Frontier) - that is being done in news-analysis hybrid pieces which is fine, and what you won't get from social democrats much. This is a reason to produce such content in the first place, to try to draw those links out.

I also think that libcom managed better coverage of Iran/Tunisia/Sudan at the beginning of this year than Jacobin although I personally put tonnes of effort into that which I just cannot do regularly and sustainably.

So for me it's not about trying to replicate the model, but have a bit better infrastructure and communication channels.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Mar 5 2018 21:31

A few quick thoughts, sorry if this is slightly incoherent/excessively IGD fannish: that roundu misses the two longish audio interviews they did with a striking teacher and Wob, which are kind of essential IMO. Also, where would people fit Viewpoint into this ecology? Until pretty recently I'd definitely class them as writing for us Proper Communists, now I'd probably categorise them as a high-quality publication which is doing something different from what I'd think of as useful communist analysis, but also pretty different from Jacobin as well. I also think DD is unbeatable as a newswire. Uhh, I also have opinions about reformism and stuff but that can wait for another time.

gram negative's picture
gram negative
Offline
Joined: 24-11-09
Mar 5 2018 22:08
Juan Conatz wrote:
It also seems like anarchists/libertarian communists really don't have an answer to this resurgence of social democratic reformism. "They're all the same" doesn't really resonate in any meaningful way when there are now some vast actual differences between the politicians.

this is a very important point, and will become more significant as the social dems start to win in some small ways.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Mar 5 2018 22:17

Also, is it worth comparing Jacobin and Novara, or would that just be inviting cross-platform beef for the sake of it? Totally agree about how we've collectively got used to drifting by with a lazy critique that no longer works, my brief suggestion for a better one would be a) remember Syriza?, b) look at the record of local Labour councils, c) have you read that AWW article, it's good as hell, but I recognise that's not an entirely satisfactory line of argument, especially not in my phrasing of it.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Mar 5 2018 22:44
R Totale wrote:
Also, where would people fit Viewpoint into this ecology? Until pretty recently I'd definitely class them as writing for us Proper Communists, now I'd probably categorise them as a high-quality publication which is doing something different from what I'd think of as useful communist analysis, but also pretty different from Jacobin as well.

I get a bit confused by Viewpoint. Some of the things they write are very good, some drive me up the wall. To be fair, I feel the same about blogs on libcom, although we don't have editorial control over blogs beyond either refusing them in the first place or killing them off, so it's a bit different and an open editorial policy is not necessarily bad (if that's what it is).

https://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/syria-seen-from-the-v... was a decent response to a recent piece that also got into the exasperating aspects of the project.

They are nearly all (or all?) academics or postgraduate students, including many of the contributors, but they're obviously also making an effort to write accessibly. Both Asad Haider and Shuja Haider have written for Jacobin too.

The sort of thing they try to write about, which we also do, but I do not see that much in publications-aimed-at-communists is something like:

https://www.viewpointmag.com/2018/01/23/postmodernism-not-take-place-jor... no-one is going to go out and buy Jordan Peterson's book who's a regular reader of Viewpoint.

But, the other day standing in the queue at a sandwich shop two people behind me were discussing Jordan Peterson's interview on Channel 4, saying he'd demolished the presenter, he was an 'equalist' and pay differentials for women were due to different jobs rather than pay discrepancies in the same job so couldn't be discrimination (nice analysis of social reproduction and systemic discrimination you've got there etc. etc.). Kind of general bollocks right-libertarian stuff that is pushed a lot and entirely framed from the point of view of employers, against a straw man communism/leftism that 'everyone should get the same amount of money'. No mention of lobsters or globalist cultural marxist conspiracies though.

The Chomsky anti-anti-antifa article and the Jonathan Pie Spiked connnection ones are similar-ish, in that you have public figures being promoted to attack different aspects of working class organising.

You sort of hope that either:
- someone googling will come across that article, and realise Peterson or whoever the target is, is a fucking fraud.
- someone who's read it will have some easy ammunition if a discussion comes up with a co-worker/family member etc.

Again it shouldn't be the main focus of anyone, but a little bit of this does not hurt (and it's cathartic working on those articles so why not). Not sure if that's what you meant about their content though.

I_Dont_Like_You...
Offline
Joined: 6-03-18
Mar 7 2018 00:44

Jacobin Magazine is great, a lot of the criticisms in these threads seems to be because the magazine actually applies more to a lot of it's readers' daily lives and subsequently attracts and attains more readers, unlike some other magazines which are little more than closeted cabals preaching to the choir on the insane abstract.

And really, someone can only be taken seriously if they are actively employed in the sector they're talking about? Don't be absurd.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Mar 7 2018 09:52
R Totale wrote:
Also, is it worth comparing Jacobin and Novara, or would that just be inviting cross-platform beef for the sake of it?

Novara has become embedded in Labour Party machinery in a way that Jacobin has not with the Democrats. But that may just be because the opportunity to do so in the US is not there yet.

Quote:
Totally agree about how we've collectively got used to drifting by with a lazy critique that no longer works, my brief suggestion for a better one would be a) remember Syriza?, b) look at the record of local Labour councils, c) have you read that AWW article, it's good as hell, but I recognise that's not an entirely satisfactory line of argument, especially not in my phrasing of it.

I'd add
d) Tightening of immigration controls, and Labour's long history of doing that. Paul Mason being the most obvious embodiment of social imperialism.

e) extra police funding.

This also means better highlighting the groups fighting Labour locally like HASL, Elephant campaign etc. Birmingham bin strike.

Another publication not mentioned here is New Socialist, who I think are non-aligned Leninists and fairly pro Corbyn but very resistant to the positions on police and immigration. I don't understand this kind of 'principled social democrat' position but it's interesting seeing them try to do it.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Mar 7 2018 11:17
I_Dont_Like_Your_Holy_Book wrote:
And really, someone can only be taken seriously if they are actively employed in the sector they're talking about? Don't be absurd.

Who said this?

When the uprising in Iran broke out in December/January, we were able to make contact with activists in Iran, published a piece from one activist, and also got some statements from the taxi syndicate and Haft Tappeh Sugar workers translated and an article from an Iranian blog (with help from a Persian speaker). To my knowledge we were the only English language place that did this, or one of very few - a french councilist site did the same in French though which was great. This seemed important because you had a combination of liberal calls for 'regime change', as well as those who were completely dismissing the strikes and street protests due to those liberal calls for regime change. The majority of left/ultra-left English language information on Iran is from people in exile (some better than others) and we reproduced some of those as well.

When the Birmingham bin strike happened, we asked a contributor to this site who happens to live in Birmingham to write about it. They're not a bin worker, but they had local background around the response to the strike, such as the Bearded Broz who were collecting black bags from some areas (while claiming they weren't strike breaking) that for example I'd completely missed looking at other reports, or were being uncritically promoted by other media.

These are perspectives you can't replicate without local knowledge of some sort. It doesn't mean any local person is going to be right, and it doesn't mean non-local opinions are worthless either.

We often write up things with no first-hand knowledge, let alone history where you're trying to write about events that might not be in living memory - but again to do that usefully you'll be researching other histories of those events, which if not written by participants might be based on things that were. If it's 3-500 words of 'this interesting thing is happening' then it's less relevant, but the article is not necessarily going to add a lot (except it can link to broader context).

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Mar 7 2018 19:18
Mike Harman wrote:
Novara has become embedded in Labour Party machinery in a way that Jacobin has not with the Democrats. But that may just be because the opportunity to do so in the US is not there yet.

Yeah, I think if Sanders had been as successful as Corbyn when it comes to playing the Democrats at their own game the whole Jacobin/DSA project would be in quite a different place right now. But I know Novara still have at least one (maybe more?) editors who identify as anarcho-communists, which I guess maybe puts them to the left and right of Jacobin simultaneously? I honestly don't watch/read/listen to enough of their stuff to have a firm characterisation of where they're currently at politically - the last video I watched of theirs was this, which seemed pretty unobjectionable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS8FZAIgdtI (if you can't be bothered to watch it, it picks out Picturehouse, the RMT guards dispute, Acorn, outsourced workers at UofL and the BiFab occupation as five class struggle highlights of 2017).

Other libertarian projects comparable to Jacobin: OT/Base seem OK, although again I don't read a huge amount of their stuff, and don't know how frequently they publish (and I personally would want to veto any project I was involved with from giving itself a name that translates as Al-Qaeda, but maybe that's just me). Might be controversial, but I actually think CrimethInc deserve a nod here - it's easy to hate on them for embarrassing stuff they said a decade ago, but in my opinion they tend to reflect the state of the class struggle, and they've improved massively with the development of various movements in the US since about 2011. And their production values have always been top-notch, definitely up there with the best when it comes to articles that look good and have good prose even when the contents are dodgy.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Mar 7 2018 21:04
R Totale wrote:
OT/Base seem OK, although again I don't read a huge amount of their stuff, and don't know how frequently they publish

I really like Base, having not really paid much attention to the Occupied Times until the very end before they relaunched.

Several of the group are involved in local (to them, not me unfortunately) organising, and the politics (and aesthetics) of what they put out is excellent. It's infrequent though - maybe one issue every six months or similar.