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New Media We Recommend

July 6, 2012

Below is a list of new materials that we have read/watched in recent weeks. The comments are not a “review” of the material, instead sort of an endorsement of ideas and investigations that can provide solid analysis and even inspiration in the struggle for change. All these items are available at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, by Vijay Prashad – This is one of the best analytical pieces I have read on the US/NATO intervention in Libya to date. Prashad, a seasoned writer and professor of international studies has provided us with a gem. Arab Spring, Libyan Winter dissects the recent US/NATO intervention in Libya, provides important historical context for US/Libyan relations and then juxtaposes this intervention with what has been happening all throughout the Arab world, in what is now commonly known as the Arab Spring. In addition, the book not only provides readers with clarity on the Arab uprising, but frames this recent history through a critical lens of US foreign policy. Prashad takes on the Obama administration’s efforts to undermine popular movements and real democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. Arab Spring, Libyan Winter is a valuable contribution into understanding the forces and factors that have been determining political uprisings in the Arab world.

Queer Liberation is Class Struggle (Zine), by JOMO – What does queer politics have to do with class struggle? Plenty, according to the person responsible for this 27-page zine. With sharp analysis, the writer makes it clear that queer politics and class struggle not only intersect, but class struggle is essential for queer liberation. The writer uses queer analysis, class analysis and feminist analysis to talk about race, gender, class, homophobia, trans-phobia and capitalism. A great deal is packed into this short zine, but it is well worth reading by anyone who wants to challenge their notion of liberation, particularly with an anti-capitalist analysis. Highly recommended.

Truth and Revolution: A History of the Sojourner Truth Organization 1969 – 1986, by Michael Staudenmaier – This new book from AK Press is a fascinating investigation into a little known radical group in the Midwest known as the Sojourner Truth Organization (STO). After several years of research and interviews with former members of the STO, the author provides us with a chronological, theoretical and collective analysis of the work, function and evolution of this radical organization. The STO was primarily a class struggle based group that was heavily influenced by Marxist theory and often had Leninist tendencies. The STO did a lot of education and organizing work amongst working class people in the early years, much of it in poor neighborhoods in Chicago. However, the group was a product of the social movements of the 1960s & 70s and was also forced to come to terms with patriarchy and White Supremacy. The book does a fabulous job of navigating how the group dealt with these issues and the internal struggles around identity and action. The STO was also heavily involved in international solidarity work and worked hard to make connections between international liberation struggles and revolutionary politics in the US. However, maybe the best part of the book is its constant reflection on what current radical organizing can learn from the STO, both what to do and what not to do. Truth and Revolution is an interesting and valuable read for today’s revolutionaries.

Slavery by Another Name (DVD) – Based on a book by the same title and written by Douglas Blackmon, this documentary is an illuminating examination on the post-Civil War continuation of varying forms of economic and legal enslavement of African Americans in the US. The film looks at the White Supremacist political and economic system in the US and how it was able to continue to exploit blacks in order to maintain capitalist growth. Slavery by Another Name examines the harsh reality of how blacks were criminalized by laws, which allowed them to be sold into both the agricultural and industrial system as a form of forced labor. The film also looks at peonage laws, share-cropping, chain gangs and other forms of black servitude that lasted at least until WWII. The most powerful point made from this film is that what motivated the exploitation of Blacks was the profit motive, coupled with widespread racism. The only shortcoming of the film, as compared to the book, is that it doesn’t spend enough time looking at Northern-based corporations that also profited tremendously from the exploitation of blacks in the US, which could leave some viewers to conclude that this form of institutional racism was a Southern problem. However, the film does make for a valuable educational tool that should be included in any anti-racism training for those committed to racial justice today.

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