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GRIID Winter 2011 Classes

January 4, 2011

GRIID is pleased to announce that we have two classes scheduled starting late January. One of the two classes being offered is one of the most requested classes, A History of US Social Movements, while the other class being offered is brand new, Beyond Elections: Obama and the Limits of Electoral Politics.

In the US History of Social movements class we will use Howard Zinn’s seminal work, A People’s History of the United States. The class will look at certain social movements beginning with the Abolitionist movement and talk about what tactics and strategies people used to bring about radical social change. We will also discuss how be can learn from previous movements in terms of how current and future movements will function and be effective.

For the second class, Beyond Elections, we will use as a primary text Paul Street’s new book, The Empire’s New Clothes: Obama and the Real World of Power. In addition to a close examination of the first 2 years of the Obama administration we will also look at the structural flaws of electoral politics – money, lobbying, two-party system, political campaigns, etc. Lastly, we will discuss and explore other models for electoral politics and the relationship between civil society and voting in other countries.

Both classes cost $20 (not including the cost of the book, which each participant must get on their own) and will meet for two hours a week for 6-weeks. The Beyond Elections class is on Wednesdays and begins on January 26th and the History of US Social Movements in on Mondays beginning January 31st.

Both classes meet from 7 – 9pm at the Steepletown Center, located at 671 Davis St., NW in Grand Rapids. For more information or to sign up, contact Mike Saunders at or Jeff Smith at


6 Comments leave one →
  1. kaiser permalink
    January 6, 2011 6:33 pm

    So a class at an anarchist book store (The Bloom Collective) is looking at elections and voting to “discuss and explore other models for electoral politics”? Good grief!

    What other model for anarchists could there be aside from rejecting the entire concept of electoral politics along with all with the idea of “civil society” (which assumes the existence of a state)?

    This blogger post and the class description seem to be a little bit different, but both make the assumption that electoral politics are always going to be around. Neither are really written from the perspective that anarchists could win or that anarchism is a viable alternative to democracy and electoral politics.

  2. January 6, 2011 11:13 pm

    kaiser or whatever your name is, you make an awful lot of assumptions with your comments. GRIID is not an anarchist entity and has never claimed to be one. The GRIID class is in the same building as the Bloom Collective, but not in the Bloom Collective, since there are classrooms we use that are part of the Steepletown Center. Although I doubt you really care about what we do or what the classes offer, so give me a good reason to actually try to explain the intent of the class.

  3. Jase permalink
    January 7, 2011 12:44 am

    based on the posts it will be a solid hour long class bashing America and capitalism while simultaneously promoting socialism and why we owe the world an apology for getting things done. I’d ask about the homework but i doubt there is any because you won’t give out grades because that might hurt someones feelings and we all need to be equal.

  4. January 7, 2011 3:29 am

    Wow, I’m overwhelmed by the level of intellectual discourse in these comments. The classes are actually two hours long with plenty of reading involved. We don’t bash America in the History of Social movements class. In fact, we spend a great deal of time looking at the incredible movements that have existed in America, the abolitionist movement, worker movements, civil rights, etc., and since these people were Americans one could argue that the class celebrates “America.” You might consider taking the class, but that would require critical thinking and the ability to articulate clear arguments.

  5. kaiser permalink
    January 7, 2011 9:17 pm

    Jeesh, calm down!

    Maybe I made some assumptions, but I think they were fair. GRIID posts a ton of stuff about what The Bloom Collective is doing so it seemed probable the classes were held there. When I googled Steepletown Center it appears to be a Catholic social service organization and their website didn’t say anything about classroom rentals, so I assumed that it was at The Bloom Collective. And The Bloom Collective is apparently an anarchist space, so hence the confusion about the topic of the class. These all seem like fine assumptions to me. Forgive me.

    I’m not sure my comments will be worthy of your response per your comment above, but contrary to what you think I DO care about the classes you offer. Regardless of GRIID’s (whoever they are) politics (which seem to be firmly rooted in the “progressive” camp so to speak), I think it is damaging to talk about electoral politics and voting in a positive light, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere (“other models for electoral politics” were mentioned in your post).

    I think there is enough history out there to show that electoral politics and voting are a DEAD END for social movements (as much as I dislike that term) in the U.S. and everywhere else. I just don’t see the point in talking about how bad the system (for lack of a better term is in the U.S.) is and then looking around for examples from elsewhere of how electoral politics can some how be better. It ain’t possible and folks should stop thinking that it can be. Elections, voting, electoral reform campaigns, demands on the current system, etc, etc aren’t going to bring liberation. The end result will always be a state-based system, which I see as being undesirable. Granted, your description is ambiguous as to what you are doing in the class once it gets to “recent political movements around the world that put less of an emphasis on electoral politics”—but I read that as meaning an investigation of movements that still have some emphasis on electoral politics.

    I left the comment because I felt that the class seems to offer the usual watered down crapola that is peddled by “the left” in the United States. We’ve all fiddled around with reforms, voting, etc for far too long and the class seems to be just more of the same. Your comment about the social movements class below (about recovering the “incredible movements” in U.S. history and how that could be a celebrating “America”) indicates that my view is probably correct: it’s just good ol’ watered down “progressive” politics. The problem is that there is nothing redeeming or worth celebrating about America, just as there is nothing to gain from electoral politics. The sooner “the left” accepts that, the better (but hey, they’ve been fixated on it for over 100 years). Sure, there were moments when there were widespread social movements in the U.S., but for me the question is how can these conflicts be widened to the point where we can kick this system over once and for all.

  6. January 7, 2011 9:38 pm

    Kaiser, thanks for the clarification. What we mean by other electoral models is what social movements in some countries in Latin America, where the movements are not always attached to electoral politics the way they tend to be here. Ben Dangel’s new book Dancing with Dynamite underscores this point. I understand the anarchist argument that electoral politics is a dead end and I don’t put faith in them either, but the class is designed to get people to think critically about the Obama administration, the failure of electoral politics to make change in this country and learn from other examples of popular movements around the world. We feel this is important for people to be able to engage folks who are still operating within the electoral framework.

    As for calming down, well sometimes I just get tired of people making unsubstantiated claims about what GRIID is and what it does, but I do appreciate you writing back.

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