Thursday Dec 01

Fall 2022


War in Europe, inflation through the roof, water shortages, drought, energy blackouts, fires raging in the West, monkeypox, Covid still, and I haven’t even gotten to Mar-a-Lago, Uvalde, insurrection, abortion retreat, the midterms and more.  We go into the fall looking for a way to buckle our seat belts for this kind of rocky ride.  This issue is for everyone trying to sort this mess out, one way or another, and, importantly, do something about it.

The US midterm elections are upon us, but too many on both sides of the aisle are fighting the last election still.  President Biden is leading the troops in a fight against MAGA and saddling up as the Sir Lancelot of Democracy.  Accordingly, we lead with our ongoing concerns about protecting the election process and the right to vote, as evidence by the Voter Purge Project.  The VPP team shares with us a ranking across almost thirty states, including most of the battlegrounds, on how well they are doing as custodians of America’s voter files.  Some surprises here!

Moshe ben Asher and Khulda Bat Sarah haven’t given up on their hopes for American democracy either, and take a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of their argument on what it would take to remake democracy from the bottom up, community to community, and city to city.  Their plea is that someone, somewhere try to put the plan in practice.  Bruce Boccardy slaps back at the conservative, racist arguments at the heart of the replacement theory.

Our excerpts are wide ranging.  Drawing from field work in Minneapolis with advocacy organizations, Professor David Forrest seeks to understand how social change organizations may be inadvertently diluting their potential impact.  Reportedly, more than 48 experiments with guaranteed annual income, as we called in when I was an organizer for the National Welfare Rights Organization, have been launched in recent years in the United States.  The late Tessa Hochfeld looks deeply at the impact – and limits – of an effort in South Africa, offering important lessons for that country and others ready to make similar commitments.  Marcy Rein and her co-authors examine the critical fight to save the massive community college in San Francisco and its implications for others facing the attack on community-based education against the more limited interests of corporations and public entities.  Finally, Jon Melrod, now a lawyer with experience fighting for immigrant amnesty around the world, shares spirited stories of what many might have thought was a bygone time when young radicals embedded in industrial plants in the 60s-and-70s to make organize power from the rank-and-file up.  These excerpts are bricks in the wall seeking to advance organizing, innovation, and resistance.

Our book reviews are in the same vein, offering both commentary, challenges, and critique.  James Mumm looks at the history of the Democratic Party with reservations.  Toby Terrar raises up the story of a priest with politics willing to confront, rather than abet, the Holocaust.  Mike Miller looks at the experiences of Frank Pierson as a community organizer with a combination of appreciation and insight. 

Our columnists don’t let their feet off the accelerator either.  Phil Mattera dissects the Twitter storm, warts and all.  Drummond Pike underlines the issues we face with water that climate change has forced to the forefront, particularly in the West.  John Anderson, hardcore hockey fan, shares his disgust with the sexual abuses and coverups that have surfaced in youth hockey in Canada.  Gregory Squires underlines the often-unappreciated way that abuses inherent in real estate appraisals are playing a role in threatening communities.  I offer a look at the initial, tentative steps forward offered by sectoral bargaining in the workplace in light of the new fast food legislation in California.

I’m not going to say that this issue has something for everyone.  But, if you are committed to making change and building power in these troubled times, this one is a keeper!

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