Vincent Copeland, a founder of Workers World Party and a trade union leader who opposed the Korean War in a period of unbridled red-baiting, died at home June 7 after a long illness. He was 77 years old and lived in Hoboken, N.J.
Beginning in the mid-1940s, Copeland was a grievance committee
member and editor of the union newspaper of Local 2601, United
Steel Workers of America, representing the huge Bethlehem Steel
plant in Lackawanna, N.Y., an industrial suburb of Buffalo. He was
fired in October 1950 for having led a number of wildcat strikes in
the blast furnace department.
His firing evoked a tumultuous struggle in which first the blast
furnace workers, and eventually all 16,000 steelworkers at the
plant, walked out demanding his reinstatement. A union meeting of
thousands during the walkout created the worst traffic jam in
Today, Mozilla, the maker of the popular web browser Firefox, is launching a campaign against digital surveillance. They launched a new website today, and is asking users of the web to unite, in similar fashion as we did with SOPA, so we can take a stand.
This isn’t a argument about how tyranny is inevitable. It is an attempt to grab America by the shoulders, give it a good shake, and say: Yes, it could happen here, with enough historical amnesia, carelessness, and bad luck. We’re not special. Our voters won’t always pick good men and women to represent us. Some good women will be corrupted by power, and some bad men will slip through. Other democracies have degraded into quasi-authoritarian states; they didn’t expect that to happen until it was too late to stop. We have safeguards to prevent us from following in their footstep. Stop casting them off because you fear al-Qaeda. Stop tempting fate.
Stop acting like the president takes an oath to keep us safe, when his job is to protect and defend the Constitution. Doing so keeps the American project safe. Past generations fought monarchies, slaveholders, and Nazis to win, expand, and protect that project. And we’re so risk-averse — not that we’re actually minimizing risk — that we’re “balancing” the very rights in our Constitution against a threat with an infinitesimal chance of killing any one of us? That makes about as much sense as the 5,000 American lives lost when the same ruling class that built the national-security state found it prudent to preempt a perceived threat from Iraq. And we still trust them?” —All the Infrastructure a Tyrant Would Need, Courtesy of Bush and Obama
- Interviewer: Okay, let’s turn to the word ‘communist’. For many in Britain (and many more in the United States) it is a scare word. As a result many on the anti-capitalist left prefer to talk of ‘democracy’ (prefacing the word with ‘radical’ ‘direct’ or economic’ so as to distinguish it from its ‘liberal’ variant). Why should we talk of a ‘communist’ horizon?
- Jodi Dean: Because ‘communist’ is the one word we have that signals anti-capitalism more than anything else. Really, when the anti-capitalist left uses the word 'democracy' they are signalling their own accommodation with capitalism. They aren't really anti-capitalist at all. They usually want capitalism with a human face, with a little bit less exploitation and immiseration. So-called radical democrats were at the forefront of jettisoning class analyses, of moving away from the economy and toward culture.
- Interviewer: But for many, ‘communist’ also signals ‘gulags’, ‘secret police’, ‘show trials’ and so on. The current predilection of Republicans to call everything, from Obama to a single payer health system, ‘communist’ is indicative of this.
- Jodi Dean: Actually, that Republicans call Obama a communist means that they are deeply threatened by anything that does not fall into lockstep with their own agenda of finance capital plus militarism. In other words, if they really thought that communism signalled 'gulag' then they wouldn't think it was attractive enough to be an actual threat in the contemporary US. Communism would be 'dead' and 'past,' 'over' and 'defeated' rather than something with emancipatory and egalitarian promise. So, I don't think that they are just repeating Cold War rhetoric. I think that they are inadvertently noting the truth of communism, its commitment to equality, to ensuring that each has access to employment, education, housing, food, and health care.