Big Brother’s Little Brother

– George T. Summers

According to the Fall 2017 issue of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association newsletter Pax Centurion, the members of the Resist Marxism Rally, who have since rebranded as Super Happy Fun America and staged the Straight Pride Rally on Sept 1, are “an eclectic band of 40 or 50 kooks supporting a cornucopia of causes…” but “there were no Nazis,” (emphasis original) amongst them. According to this article the real trouble makers were the antifascist protesters who were using the counter demonstration as pretext for “an anti-police riot” (emphasis, again, original). The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh have taken much the same line in response to anti-fascist demonstrators at the Straight Pride Rally. In recent statements to the press, both insinuated that anti-fascists took the opportunity to provoke and assault the police present at the event, including those imported from Somerville, just out of pure unmotivated antipathy for members of law enforcement. In response to allegations made by counter protesters that the police presence fostered the fascist movement, this sentiment is best encapsulated by the most popular chant that day Walsh and “Cops and Klan go hand in hand.” In response, Somerville mayor Joseph Curtatone tweeted that Somerville police involvement was minimal, and reacted only as appropriate. Walsh made a similar statement series of tweets dismissing the idea that in a progressive state such as Massachusetts, police could serve the interests of far right groups, and any connection between police and fascism is mere rhetoric from the counter-protestors.

There’s more to this idea than Walsh gives credit for – to say that there is no relationship between agencies that enforce the law and fascism is to gloss over quite a lot of the history of fascism. To pick just a few examples, the German Freikorps that went on to form most of the muscle for Hitler’s Nazi party were often formally comissioned by the German Chancellor Friedrich Ebert as a means to enforce law and restore public order through such dirty work as assassinating Rosa Luxemburg. Mussolini’s Fasces began by being deputized by local governments to put down “unlawful” strikes in the Po River Valley. The founder of the Spanish Falange movement José Antonio Primo de Rivera was quite literally born from the repressive regime of his father General Miguel Primo de Rivera, the dictator duly appointed in 1923 by the monarchy to “restore law” after several coup attempts. To ignore the possibility of fascist movements growing out of official law enforcement agencies is to be ignorant of history, especially when they are given tacit approval by governments that cannot otherwise handle challenges to the social order.

That last provision is why the counter protesters’ strongest argument that the actions of the police under the Walsh administration promotes fascism. Boston has recently been faced with a series of daunting problems: ridership on the MBTA is down resulting in higher public transit deficits for the city, and the opioid crisis has led to many people struggling with addiction to be without a home on the streets of Boston. These problems will continue if the only solution the city administration can find is an old-fashioned police crackdown. Fare losses on the T are combated by aggressively patrolling for fare jumpers. The police presence fixes the T’s woes in the same way the Nazi party addressed the transit problems in Germany, which contrary to popular belief, did not run on time under the watch of their stormtroopers, delays of up to half an hour were all but expected even on the best of days, but rather limited complaints about the trains running late with a threat of a sock on the jaw. The presence of unhoused addicts was addressed by Operation Clean Sweep, a callous string of brutal raids on homeless encampments near methadone clinics. The repression of counter protesters at Saturday’s rally is just the same tactic deployed fruitlessly once more. The pepper spray and the heavy handed arrests are a naked display of force that wouldn’t be out of place under fascist governments and would be just about as effective.

In The Anatomy of Fascism historian Robert Paxton examined who the members of historical fascist parties actually were. While some indeed were disaffected soldiers, and others whose job it was to project state power, which the Boston Police Department has been proving has always been their function, for each one of these the fascists recruited “his little brother too.” These “little brothers” are those who buy into the myths that soldiers and police are fighting the noble fight against the forces of anarchy and acting as righteous protectors of the state, and are upset that they haven’t had their turn to do the same. These little brothers then go out looking for enemies of the state to fight, whether they are there or not, and gleefully commit political violence against these invented enemies. A speaker at the Straight Pride Rally made explicit that they aim to divide the righteous straights and the dangerous and immoral gays. This is why they antagonize those they understand to be Marxists, those of other races and sexual and gender identities, and why they cheered when the police deployed their riot batons. Two of the three vehicles that served as floats in the parade sported bumper stickers indicating they had family members in either law enforcement or the military, and have certainly grown up under the intense security culture of the post 9/11 world. The police response to the Straight Pride counter protest is to them a comfortingly familiar sight – it is what they have grown up seeing, Big Brother in his fleets of police motorcycles and squads of black clad SWAT Teams ready to wade into the fray, and the organizers of the Straight Pride Parade felt there hadn’t been enough of it lately, so they went out and made it happen. The police helicopters and pepper spray are used by the Boston and affiliated police forces to remind you that Big Brother is watching you, and to make sure you stay in line, but what they don’t see is that Little Brother is watching them all the while and learning quite a lot.

Unafraid Educators in Boston Build Sanctuary Schools from the Ground Up

PEWG Blog recently had the chance to interview Unafraid Educators, a dedicated group within the Boston Teachers Union who actively organize to build Sanctuary schools from the bottom-up, on their origin, work, immigrant rights organizing and how to help undocumented students within the public school system.

PEWG Blog: What led to the formation of Unafraid Educators? 

Unafraid Educators: The hardships faced by immigrant students, especially the undocumented ones and ones who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), are multifaceted and require specific attention and action. Guidance counselors across the Boston Public School system recognized that they were struggling to address the needs of undocumented students; at the same time, the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) was forming an immigration rights committee and looking for educators who cared deeply for the cause. So in the winter of 2015-16 school year, the Unafraid Educators formed as a committee within the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) to support the needs of immigrant students. While initially the group was comprised of a handful of educators and guidance counselors, it now includes a large number of school counselors, administrators, community organizations, parents and students, all of whom are dedicated to the cause of building Sanctuary Schools from the ground up in the Boston public school system. 

We built this group in collaboration with the Student Immigrant Movement (SIM), a grassroots organization run by and for undocumented youth and young adults. They have been leading this movement locally for over ten years and were already involved with BTU in forming the immigration rights committee and we were committed to honoring their leadership. We also followed the leadership of United We Dream, a national organization run for and by undocumented young people.  

PEWG blog: What work do the Unafraid Educators do as a group? Does the group have organizing principles that guide their classroom activities?

UE: As we began our work, we found an interesting conundrum. We knew undocumented students were struggling, but we did not know all of the undocumented students in our schools. Federal law prohibits schools from asking students and families for their immigration status and many students do not disclose this information to school staff. We knew the root of their struggle was their immigration status, but we could not alter it or change it (except for encouraging them to gauge their eligibility for DACA). So the question became – if we cannot change the key obstacle bringing strife to a young person’s life, and we do not know who those young people are in our schools, but we know they are out there and need our help, what can we do?

Through our work, we discovered three key things that supporting undocumented students in our schools required. These formed the three guiding pillars of the Unafraid Educators Framework, which are 

  1. To take a stand
  2. To share and increase access to information
  3. To fight hopelessness

Our monthly working meetings are facilitated by our leadership team. Each member of the leadership team takes on specific leadership tasks within an area of our work, or “bucket”. These different buckets include political education, political action and partnerships, college access and scholarship management, Week of Action planning and support, and organizational health and culture. 

Along with supporting the political work of partner organizations such as the SIM and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition, we have also grown projects of our own. We have developed and shared professional development trainings for educators across the country, coordinated an annual Week of Action that has included schools over 40 local schools, and have started a scholarship that provides college tuition support for undocumented graduates of Boston Public School graduates. Since the scholarship’s creation 3 years ago we have fundraised $176,000 and awarded scholarships to 69 students. The scholarship crowdfunded and rely on people like you. Check out the link to donate and spread the word in order to support the students who will be our future doctors, teachers, counselors, etc! 

A scholarship for undocumented students is especially important since undocumented students do not qualify for federal financial aid and in many states most undocumented students do not qualify for in-state tuition. Additionally, many independent scholarships require Social Security Numbers to receive aid. This means a lot of undocumented students are paying out-of-state, or even international student, rates completely out of pocket, despite the fact that their ability to work over the table and get paid a living wage is also limited due to their immigration status. 

PEWG Blog: How do you see your work in the broader context of immigration rights movement? 

UE: Our work is not only fostering positive school environments, but also defending our students’ and their families’ rights. We also know that in order for students to feel comfortable within schools, we must also stand up for change outside of schools as well. Additionally, our students do not live solely within our classroom walls and if we are to truly stand with and for them, we must fight for them and their families in all aspects of life. This understanding drives our work with our partner organizations because we can’t pretend that our welcoming classrooms will heal the violence of a brutal system unless we organize outside of them. 

As an example, our Week of Action is a focused time to share resources with educators that can make their way into daily patterns. A way to ensure that undocumented students and students from mixed-status families feel fully welcomed in the space. It is well known that students who do not feel welcome do not learn as well. If we are not welcoming undocumented students into our schools, then they are not equally able to access learning, which violates their constitutional right to education regardless of their immigration status. 

PEWG Blog: How does your organizing activities relate to the larger organizing efforts by teachers across the US, like RedforEd and the wildcat strikes?

UE: There is a lot of recognition of teacher power right now, which is extremely exciting. It is inspiring to see how teacher demands have included amplifying support for undocumented students – for example in LA the teacher strike included demands for district designated attornies to support personnel, students and families with immigration related issues as well as multilingual hotlines that would support families with immigration related concerns. These demands not only meet student needs, but also educate others about the additional barriers immigrant students face. When we look at state funding formulas (mechanism through which states control school funds) we see that English Language Learners are disproportionately affected, as highlighted by the case in Rhode Island. Legislation is being introduced to alleviate the problem, for example here in Massachusetts, one of the main provisions of the Promise Act is to provide increased, and adequate, support for English Language Learners. We believe that our work is in line with the increasing shift towards more social justice oriented organizing that teachers unions are doing across the nation. For example, the St. Paul Federation of Teachers have been including demands such as responsible banking in their contract negotiations to fight against banks foreclosing on students’ homes; these demands stem from the realization that stronger communities, alongside improved teaching conditions and less disciplinary action, are also needed to improve learning outcomes in students. 

PEWG Blog: How does Boston’s proclamation as a Sanctuary City affect your work? 

UE: We view our work as a way to build sanctuary schools from the ground up. We organize and share lesson plans, Know Your Rights resources, activity ideas and more, so that educators and students in every school can engage with each of our guiding principles. 

It is one thing to talk about having sanctuary spaces, but we want to make sure our schools are fully welcoming spaces for undocumented students and their families – spaces where their futures are taken into consideration and believed in. This means being vocal about our support for our undocumented students, connecting them with resources, making sure they are represented in our lessons and not targeted by school resource officers and police, considering the discriminatory practices by Boston Police Department (BPD) of mislabeling immigrant students as gang members and BPD’s collaboration with ICE. It is crucial to focus on celebrating who they are and what they bring to our communities.

PEWG Blog: What are some ways that non-educators or folks not involved with Boston Public Schools (BPS) and Boston Teachers Union (BTU) help build a supportive community for undocumented students?

UE: Really anyone can guide their actions with our organizational frameworks. You don’t need to be an educator to take a stand, access and share information, or fight hopelessness. 

To take a stand people can:

  • Be vocal of their support of immigrants at home with family, at work, in the streets, and in our places of government! 
  • Advocate for in-state tuition for undocumented students in Massachusetts. Currently 20 states have in-state tuition, and we are not one of them. People can voice their support for immigrant students to access the same in-state tuition as their peers here: https://p2a.co/w7ePxAs

We also encourage people to learn more about immigrant advocacy groups doing important work and to follow them on social media in order to amplify any actions they are asking for support with. Some organizations we suggest are United We Dream, Student Immigrant Movement, and MIRA

The above organizations also have some great resources to help you access and share information. With raids of workplaces and homes posing a real threat, it is critical for everyone to know their rights when approached by law enforcement at home, on a bus, at work, etc. Allies vocalizing and exercising their rights has real impact.  Additionally if you want to check out the Unafraid Educators reading list (bit.ly/unafraidreadinglist) or online folder of resources for educators and families (bit.ly/unafraidtoolkit), feel free! 

Donating to and spreading the word about the Unafraid Scholarship, as mentioned earlier, is a tangible way to fight hopelessness! Check out the scholarship at bit.ly/unafraiddonate! We are crowdfunded and rely on people like you to support the students who will be our future doctors, teachers, counselors, etc! 

Lastly, Unafraid Educators is always happy to receive skilled support that will support our organization and make us more effective in our work. If you’re an immigration lawyer willing to do pro-bono or very affordable work for students who reach out to us in crisis, we’d love to hear from you. Additionally, we’d enthusiastically connect with people who have fundraising experience, graphic and web design, or expertise in connecting immigrants with housing and healthcare. Our meetings are open to partners and previously uninvolved educators and we can be reached at unafraideducators@gmail.com.

unafraid educators 1 (1)

Reflections on the First National Gathering of DSA Elected Officials

– Ben Ewen-Campen, Somerville City Councilor

According to DSA, there are now nearly 100 members holding elected office across the country. Over the weekend of August 3rd and 4th, 28 of us gathered in Atlanta as part of DSA’s National Convention. I was elected to the Somerville City Council in 2017 (with the support and endorsement of Boston DSA), and since then, I have mostly had to laser-focus on specific issues that directly affect people in Somerville. The DSA National Convention was a unique and inspiring opportunity to zoom out, and to meet with fellow DSA elected officials from across the country, to build solidarity around the deeply interconnected struggles we all face, and to strategize on how we can use electoral politics not only to improve people’s lives, but to continue growing the movement. 

There were elected DSA members at many levels of state and local government. Ruth Buffalo, the first Native American woman elected to the North Dakota legislature, who defeated the author of a restrictive voter ID law, was there. Two elected judges (!) were there, from Pittsburgh, PA and Austin, TX, both doing vital work in the struggle for criminal justice reform. Several of the newly-elected DSA Aldermen from Chicago were there, fresh off their recent upset victories against established machine Democrats. khalid kamau (aka “America’s first #BlackLivesMatter organizer elected to public office”) was there, as were City Councilors from Knoxville, TN, Olympia WA, and more. Brandy Fortson was there, who told us that their recent election to the School Board in Corvallis, OR, represented the first time in our country’s history that an openly non-binary person has won elected office. State Legislators from Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, and elsewhere were there too. (I did note that nearly all of us were in legislative bodies – no Chief Executives yet.) 

Over the course of two days, we worked together in a series of workshops, teach-ins, trainings, conversation, and meetings with other DSA members at the National Convention. Chicago Aldermen Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and Rosanna Rodriguez shared their strategies of using mutual-aid networks in immigrant communities to simultaneously resist ICE, and build grassroots power. Maine Representative Mike Sylvester, a lifelong labor activist, led a training on using the legislative process itself as a community organizing tool. Palestine/Brooklyn activist Linda Sarsour shared the story of how Khader El-Yateem’s unsuccessful 2017 campaign for New York City Council, which had enormous grassroots support from NYC DSA, was the vehicle that helped her community of Muslim residents in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn get organized and understand their own power. DSA organizers from Detroit and from NYC led a conversation on their vision and experience of collaborating with community organizers and elected officials to build grassroots power (e.g. the enormous tenant protection wins in NYC this year). We met with DSA staff on effective ways to interact with the media, followed by a press conference covered by the Washington Post, the New York Times, Current Affairs, and others.  Throughout these events, we focused on how to use elected office not only to improve the material reality of peoples’ lives in our districts, but also to expand the movement and support the organizing happening in our communities. 

Between these events, it was enormously inspiring to meet with DSA members from around the country. I sat at one lunch table with members from a DSA chapter in Cleveland, who told me about their recent work on the movement to force landlords to remove lead from their buildings, and with two people from the relatively small DSA chapter in Cheyenne, WY, organizing to pressure their City Council around housing affordability. I attended a panel of international organizers, which included a socialist organizer from Brazil who compared learning about DSA in America as “learning that the stormtroopers on the Death Star are organizing themselves.” 

There is no other movement like DSA right now. DSA is entirely self-funded (no wealthy donors capable of cutting our funding), it is democratically organized, and it has become a unique vehicle for bringing the ideas of democratic socialism to a mass audience. For me, the refrain of this convention was a line from the incredible keynote speech by Sara Nelson, President of Association the Flight Attendants, who helped lead the movement to end the Federal Government shutdown of 2019: “People think power is a limited resource, but using power builds power. Once workers get a taste of our power, we will not settle for a bad deal.” I believe, because I have experienced firsthand, that electoral campaigns and the legislative process can be a powerful means to bring ordinary people into political struggle for the first time. Grassroots campaigns – both electoral campaigns and campaigns to pass good laws or block bad ones – help ordinary people get a taste of their own power, and it is critical that those of us in elected office remember this goal. 

The weekend of August 3rd and 4th, 2019 was a profoundly dark time for our nation. Two mass shootings, in El Paso and Dayton, separated by only hours, shook us to our core with grief and horror. In those tragic circumstances, it was a true ray of light and inspiration to be able to come together with grassroots organizers from across the country, who are doing the work to build a better world, from the ground up. I left the convention with profound inspiration to get back to work in Somerville, and to redouble the fight. 

Boston Police Captain John Danilecki: A Clear and Present Danger to Boston

– Chris S. 

john danilecki
Captain John Danilecki, threatening protesters on the ground with further pepper spray.

In numerous videos of the Straight Pride Parade counter-protest march held in Boston on Saturday, Aug 31, there was one figure who stood out. A Captain in the Boston Police Department (BPD) — and the only BPD officer wearing a black vest covering his badge — this officer seemed to be routinely on the front lines in several violent altercations with protesters. He was seen routinely pushing protesters, leading the charge in scrums, and was even seen using pepper spray aggressively after crowds were already actively backing away. Based on several eyewitness confirmations, that person is certainly Boston Police Captain John “Jack” Danilecki1.

Danilecki is the Captain of the Boston Police Department Bike Unit; he has been with the Boston Police Department for more than 25 years, and based on observations, was in command of the bike unit at Saturday’s protest event. Throughout the event, in almost every circumstance where there was violence against protesters, Captain Danilecki was on hand, and often directly leading the charge.

Before the Parade

Long before the parade began — reportedly at close to 11am — the first clash between police and protesters arrived. Reportedly on the order of Captain Danilecki, officers were ordered to remove masks from protesters at the event: “All of them covering their faces, get those masks off.” During this altercation, you can see Captain Danilecki standing by as the crowd chants “Off his head” at 0:30 — asking the officers to take their knees off the head of the protester that had been brought to the ground.

Closer to noon, shortly before the Parade began, the bike unit decided to move through the location of the gathered protesters, rather than using the established and barricaded parade route: That is, Boston police decided to ride their bikes through the *crowd* side of the barricades for no clear reason. Since the crowd had already gathered on the street behind the barricade, this led to a altercation with the crowd (0:35) where multiple initial arrests occurred. Captain Danilecki was not visibly directly involved in the front line of this push, but was seen supervising the arrests (1:17 and others) as several protesters were placed into the back of a police wagon after being pulled from the crowd during it.

About 10 minutes later — but still before the start of the parade — there was an event where cops pushed through the barricades into the crowd in order to make unprovoked arrests. They pushed forward in a scrum, seemingly arresting two participants for no clear reason. This is the first reported incident of pepper spray use during the event. A photo was taken showing him holding up pepper spray in a large crowd, immediately before spraying that spray indiscriminately into the crowd, which is largely just reacting to being assaulted by police with truncheons (0:12, another angle shows an entire crowd moving away from pepper spray (0:06)), followed by video of him holding pepper spray directly in the faces of protesters (0:39). His use of pepper spray was reportedly “without any specific aim and unprovoked”, though another attendee described it as an intentional way to attack a person carrying a medic bag.

Clearing Congress Street

The other major incident happened at around 4pm, as the police attempted to clear Congress Street; when protesters refused to move for motorcycles/clear the street, they used bikes as barricades to push back the crowd (without clearly communicating what was being requested). This second incident appears to have been one one of the most violent portions of the protest, with the cops having a clear agenda that was at no point clearly communicated to protesters, and with significant use of physical force to move otherwise peaceful protesters.

The police formed a line using bikes, which was pushed right into protesters. From here, there were a number of scuffles, including a State Trooper shoving a medic then violently tackling him.

However, the main cause of the overall scuffle in the 4pm melee was simple: after wielding his pepper spray in the face of a protester, the Captain drops his canister of pepper spray. In order to retrieve it, he rapidly pushes back the protester in front of him, and the person to his right punches the protester in the jaw in order to make more space for the Captain to retrieve his pepper spray. In parallel, a second officer uses his pepper spray to break up the fight — and 4 seconds later, after the Captain retreives his pepper spray, he pops back up and sprays the entire crowd again.

john danilecki_2john danilecki_2.2

john danilecki_2.3
Screenshots for these images are from this video.

It appears that the main cause of the scuffle was when the Captain held his pepper spray directly in the face of a protester before dropping his pepper spray, then shoving them(44:52->45:01; alternative viewpoint shows the shove starting from another officer, followed by Captain Danilecki hopping in) During this time was some scuffle, and a second officer used pepper spray (0:14; alternative viewpoint 0:07). After the crowd was forced back, Captain Donelecki had picked up his own pepper spray and sprayed the crowd again (0:18). He then walks through the front of the police line, using pepper spray again against the brick wall at the base of city hall (0:31; alternative viewpoint at 0:00) and then walking forward further while holding up pepper spray, shoving a pepper sprayed protester (0:09) and then standing threateningly with the pepper spray in hand (0:20–0:30; also in photo form), before reportedly spraying again. A longer form of this section of the events can be seen on YouTube, which gives longer context both before and after.

Throughout these videos, there is no call for the crowd to disperse; while the words “move back” are shouted a couple times, for anyone at the front, there is no “back” to move to, as the crowd is forced entirely up against the police bikes being used as barricades.

Other Events

There was also another incident of violence perpetrated by this Police Captain. During an arrest earlier in the day, the Captain shoved multiple people who were observing the arrest (0:26–0:31). He also pushed into the crowd in order to take someone’s bullhorn and illegally search their bag earlier along the parade route. At the end of the event — during the arrest of Rod Weber, a journalist documenting the event — Captain Donelecki again threatened to deploy mace, holding it in the face of those documenting the arrest in the middle of the street (0:44).

Beyond today’s events, Danilecki has also been seen as the first to use pepper spray on at least one other occasion in 2017, when he used pepper spray as part of moving a crowd at the Fight Supremacy rally in 2017 (0:39; there is a similar looking officer who is not a captain shoving at the start).

In Total

This police captain appeared to be the primary user of pepper spray in at least three different cases where the crowd was either peaceful, or otherwise retreating; and was actively participating in several scrums that resulted in participants being pushed to the ground. He reportedly punched a protester, triggering a violent melee in which at least 4 people were left on the ground. He was shown assaulting at multiple observers who were doing nothing other than standing nearby while officers were performing an arrest. He was in the front lines in almost every incident of violence, with the exception of those who (earlier in the day) blocked the unnecessary large line of police motorcycles.

Captain Danilecki was a menace and a danger to the community on Saturday, plain and simple. I truly believe that were it not for his behavior yesterday, the protest would have been a largely unremarkable event: there would have been no use of pepper spray, no violent altercations, and many fewer arrests. While there were minor clashes and incidents of violence throughout the day, every major incident involved exactly one person: Officer Danilecki.

We can talk about the drastic overmilitarization of this event some other day, but first, let’s ensure that Mayor Marty Walsh knows that the Boston Police Department, and Officer Danilecki professionally, need to face consequences for their behavior on Saturday.

p.s.

Thank you to those who put themselves on the line yesterday to stand up for the values that I know Boston has. I wasn’t at the event on Saturday, but it’s only through your effort to witness that I was able to piece any of this together. There were dozens of people documenting in real-time, and that’s the only reason I could tie these things together at all. Thank you.

john danilecki_3
Officer Danilecki, immediately before pepper spraying a protester. Photo by Justin O’Donnell.

 

 

DSA Convention 2019: A Reportback

 Boston DSA Delegates

What it is

Every two years, DSA has its national convention. Delegates come together from across the country to vote on changes to our constitution and bylaws, resolutions of various kinds, and our new National Political Committee (NPC). Chapters received one delegate for every fifty-one members –  1,056 total delegates were sent from DSA’s 400+ local chapters; Boston sent 35 delegates.

How it’s done

Before the convention, members can submit proposed changes to the constitution and bylaws, or resolutions of various kinds. After the submission period, there was a secondary amendment period. Lots were submitted – way more than can be considered in three days! Constitution and bylaw changes (CBs) may only be passed at the convention; if they are not voted on at the convention, they will not be considered. These changes required a 2/3 majority to pass. Resolutions required only a simple majority to pass. Resolutions that the convention didn’t get to are referred to the incoming NPC.

After the submission period, delegates were asked to create a consent agenda, which would contain resolutions with broad support that therefore would be passed without requiring debate at the convention. That agenda can be found here. There was then a second straw poll of the delegates to decide which remaining things should be prioritized on the schedule for the weekend. After reviewing the straw poll, the Resolutions Committee made the final schedule, which can be found here. We didn’t get through all the items on the schedule and we considered a couple things that weren’t originally on it (you’ll see the substantive things that were ultimately voted on below). The Convention itself is run using Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, as well as a set of standing rules passed by the Convention. These standing rules included things like “no amendments from the floor” and the method of voting on the NPC, and are specific clarifications on how the DSA convention will work.

NPC Candidates completed questionnaires and participated in Candidates’ Forums via Zoom preceding the convention. Candidates were elected using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) method, following a successful motion from the floor to use this rather than the modified Borda method, as originally outlined in the Convention Rules. An explanation of STV can be found here.

The Boston Delegation

Name Pronouns Affiliations Name Pronouns Affiliations
Becca M she/her Nationwide Ecosocialist WG Liz H she/her
Kathryn A she/her Socialist Majority Evan L he/him LSC
Sarah M she/her Build, LSC Evan S they/them R&R
Mike G he/him Build/LSC Brad B he/him
Rob C he/him RSC Max M he/him
Kit H they/she Forward Emma S she/her RSC
Evan G he/him Ben S he/him RSC
Beth H she/her SMC Trent P he/him
Grant Y he/him none Claire B she/her Revolutionary Socialist Caucus
Steve P he/him Clare F she/her none
Austin G he/him LSC Anna C she/her
Nafis H he/him Bria D she/her
Annie DF she/her Build, RSC Jacob K he/him Forward
Sherri A she/her Eco, loosely Build Jessie L she/they
Leslie R she/her Russ W-I he/him SMC, Forward
Jared A he/him Per D  he/him
Dave G he/him Forward Shekeima D she/her
Louise P  she/her

What happened?

Our New NPC

This is an alphabetical list of our new NPC with their self-identified pronouns, race/ethnicity, and affiliations. Voting was done using OpaVote and STV; individual delegates’ ballots will eventually be available to DSA members, per our National Bylaws.

Name Pronouns Affiliations
Abdullah he/him Socialist Majority
Austin G he/him Build
Blanca she/her Collective Power Network
Dave P he/him Independent/B+R endorsed
Erika P they/them Build
Hannah A she/her Socialist Majority
Jen M she/her Libertarian Socialist
Jen B she/her Red Star (SF)
Kristian she/her Socialist Majority
Maikiko she/her Socialist Majority
Marianela she/her Bread and Roses
Megan S she/her Bread and Roses
Natalie M she/her Bread and Roses
Sauce she/her LSC/Build
Sean E they/them Independent/Nationwide Ecosocialist WG/endorsed by B+R
Tawny T she/her Build/Emerge (NYC)

Our National Priorities

Medicare For All, Elections, and Labor were our three priorities going into the 2019 convention. Coming out of it, the Convention passed the following as National Priorities. These priorities are supported by either a full or half time staffer and often related national organizing bodies, open to membership.

Our New National Working Groups/Committees

Not all of our organizing is done through national priorities! There are many ongoing organizing projects that include comrades from dozens of chapters at once. This work is often (though not always) supported through a national working group or committee. New ones formed from resolutions passed at the convention include:

  • Housing
  • Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
  • Antifascist and Direct Action
  • End Cash Bail 
  • Police and Prison Abolition
  • Decolonization 
  • Disability Working Group (no resolution, self organized via breakouts) 

Resolutions and Constitution/Bylaw Amendments (CBs) that Passed

Many resolutions and CBs were passed by delegates raising their placards, so there’s not an official count of how close the vote was. At times, delegates called for division, which means that delegates used OpaVote links to vote yes or no on a motion. When this happened, we’re able to provide exact voting breakdowns. Otherwise, just the name of the Resolution or CB is listed. Additionally, a number of national Committees gave reports that made resolution -like suggestions for the following two years relating to their work that were voted on.

Res. and CBs that Failed

  • Resolution #48 Candidate Litmus Test
  • Resolution #49 PAC Spending for Nationally Endorsed Candidates
  • Resolution #60 Reassert our Commitment to Training and Leadership Development
  • Resolution #83 Support the Locals and Make DSA Accessible to All
  • CB #2 Require that National Pays Stipends to Chapters; “Pass the Hat” 450-545
  • CB #23 No One is Too Poor for DSA; “Remove dues requirement from membership” 427-543
  • Resolution #37 50/50 Dues Split, Amended to 70/30 (Amendment #12 passed but R37 failed overall)
  • CB #33 Assembly of Locals
  • Referred to NPC – these resolutions and CBs did not fail, but were instead referred to a commission to be created by the NPC to explore various options for regional organizing bodies and make a recommendation for a regional organizing body at the next Convention
    • CB #31 Proposal for Regionally Elected National Organizing Council (Amendment #23 passed so that this body would not be able to amend the constitution)
    • CB #16 Democratic Regional Organizations
    • Resolution #26 Creating Regional Coordinating Committee

Breakout Groups

In addition to the official business of passing resolutions and CBs, the agenda included breakouts and self-organized sessions. The list of potential breakout groups can be found here. This was generally viewed as a productive time to do national organizing around specific topics. Members made connections that helped lead to the passage of the housing resolutions, the DSA Educators group had an opportunity to meet in person, and a variety of other chapters doing similar work exchanged organizing strategy tactics. 

  • DSA members who work in education (teachers, paraprofessionals, substitutes, school counselors, etc) gathered to talk about how to organize in public education, the campaigns to get our unions to have democratic processes for presidential endorsements and to endorse Bernie, and other topics! Max M, Kathryn A, and Russ W-I attended.
  • Energy democracy. Nafis H presented on behalf of Boston. Becca M, Sherri A attended.
  • Disability Working Group has reformed (potentially no longer as a working group).

General Contributions to the Convention

Boston did not generally dominate the microphones this past weekend, but we did make a few public contributions in Atlanta!

  • Bria spoke passionately in favor of the resolution she co-authored on the need for Childcare across our organization.
  • Sherri A asked a super helpful question about voting methods, and off the floor, sold lots of buttons for Eco and Boston (all donations went to Boston).
  • Beth chaired heroically.
  • Evan G gained fame (and rumored fan art) as “Comrade Who Calls the Question”.
  • Becca M co-authored the GND resolution, helped run the Ecosocialism 101 Breakout and self-organized nationwide ecosocialist working group time. 
  • Nafis H organized and facilitated a session on active energy democracy campaigns across chapters.
  • Leslie R organized a breakout with the Poor Peoples’ Caucus 
  • Ben S, Mike G, and Sarah M participated in a housing breakout

 

 

How to Walk Out

– Maddie H.

One of the most important tools anyone can use to resist injustice is economic pressure. Whether it’s externally boycotting or internally refusing to provide your labor, economic pressure can be an extremely effective form of resistance, which is why corporations are particularly desperate to stop people from using that power. As one of the key participants in the recent walkout at furniture retailer Wayfair, there’s only one core message that I’d like to get across to readers about this tactic: You Can Do This Too

In case you missed it in the news, Wayfair’s business-to-business sales team recently made a $200,000 sale (for a profit of about $86,000) to a contractor furnishing concentration camps on the border. As soon as employees found out about this sale, there was a petition circulated to ask that we donate all profits from the sale and establish a code of ethics to avoid making similar sales in the future. The petition garnered about 500 signatures within a matter of hours. Management’s response to this petition was a hard no, which led to hundreds of employees walking out in protest. Internally, the core group of walkout organizers is continuing to keep the pressure up on management to concede to the original letter’s demands.

Tech workers, who comprised most of the walkout participants, don’t generally think of themselves as workers, and don’t usually consider organizing as an option open to them. And yet, they are some of the country’s most well-positioned workers in terms of negotiating power. Only time will tell whether this action can bump some tech workers out of thinking of themselves as company “family members” who want to get along with management, and into an awareness of their labor power. It’s heartening to see an upsurge in events like the Google walkouts and protests of Palantir and Amazon, and as a socialist I strongly believe that it is imperative for us to be instigators of this type of action. 

Given the interwoven threads of capitalism across our lives, odds are that some aspect of your life, whether it’s your employer or a corporate headquarters in your neighborhood or a store you frequent, intersects in some way with an atrocity; even an innocuous furniture company can be profiting off of concentration camps. It’s our responsibility, as people who care and want to resist those atrocities, to figure out these intersections and the ways we can most effectively apply leverage to make it economically and socially more trouble than it’s worth for your employer/local grocery store/extended family/whoever to keep engaging in business as usual.

Here are some hot tips for how you, too, can be a pain in your CEO’s ass:

  • If you’re reading this, you’re probably some flavor of socialist. Amazing! Be one very loudly, and be a leader. Be the furthest pole to the left for your group and set the tone for how people engage. Don’t agree with anything less than what your principles are, and be calm while also being absolutely unshakeable in terms of what you’re asking for. Don’t compromise! Your committee doesn’t work with management: management works with your committee. Also, don’t believe anything they tell you until they put it in writing and go public with it, and always bring at least one other person into any meeting with management.
  • Know your rights in the workplace! Concerted action to improve your workplace is protected under the law, and your company CANNOT LEGALLY FIRE YOU for it. They may still try, hoping that you won’t bring a lawsuit. In case they do, make sure you and your coworkers have verifiable documentation of your involvement with the action (this runs slightly counter to some general lefty security advice, but this is one case where you want to have a paper trail). Definitely don’t let them get away with claiming that any lack of retaliation is out of the goodness of their hearts. They CAN fire you for talking to the press against their wishes, so be aware of that when you choose someone or a set of people to be spokespeople.

  • Leverage your community outside of your workplace! This walkout would have been a very different event without all of our amazing supporters.

  • Does your workplace have Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)? These are worker affinity groups formed around an identity or topic, and getting involved with one can be a great way to meet other people in your workplace who have similar issues or grievances. If you don’t have them, consider starting one.

  • When you do take action, people absolutely will not be taking it for perfect reasons. I can trace my radicalization back to being engaged in a union fight in college because I had a crush on one of the organizers, and then having a “holy shit” moment when the workers actually WON! Someone will be walking out because they want to impress someone, or because of peer pressure from their coworkers. That’s fine! Sometimes it takes something personal to push someone into trying something scary. Aim to have people *feel* what it’s like to engage in collective disobedience. People don’t need to be all on the same page to take worthwhile action together, and you can’t personally check in with every single person engaging in a mass action to make sure they understand the tactics and are fully bought in. Keep the messaging simple, bring people along with you, and put real trust in them, knowing that they don’t deserve it yet: people want to grow into the trust that you put in them.

  • You don’t need me to tell you this, but don’t waste time on the haters. There will be people trying to talk you down, argue about your tactics, draw you out into the open and fillet you with their high school Model UN debate skills. I know it’s tempting, but don’t give them the time of day; don’t even look in the places where they’re making noise. Be firm, keep your messaging positive, and discourage core people from getting sucked in.

  • Remember that any fight is never the last one. How do you build relationships between the core people and keep them talking after the fight is over, preferably won? Whatever your action is/was, it’s just one piece in a larger puzzle of resistance. As long as you are employed at will, you’ve got something to fight about.

  • The key thing that can help you work towards any positive change is to build your relationships with coworkers and gain their respect and trust. I recommend building this trust through a background campaign on an issue that your coworkers care about; you can build a lot of community through something like petitioning management to replace a broken coffee machine or designate a gender-neutral bathroom. Through these smaller projects, you can more easily identify workplace leaders, build your reputation, and get people used to a more confrontational and less familial relationship with their management. 

Good luck!

Labor Theory of King of the Hill

– Claire Blechman

Who is Hank Hill? You don’t have to ask; he’ll tell you, with pride: Assistant Manager, Strickland Propane. He sells propane and propane accessories. Lady propane has been good to him.

Has there ever been a better example of the perfect worker than Hank Rutherford Hill? Excessively competent, inexplicably dedicated, and willing to go to great lengths to protect the system that exploits him for his labor, Hank is a capitalist’s dream.

King of the Hill (KOTH) is not a politically radical show. Even in the episode featuring the 2000 election (S05E01), in which Hank has a crisis of faith as to whether he can vote for W. Bush, and Luanne flirts with communism, the explicit message is a basic “vote: it’s your civic duty.” Although the show ran from 1997–2010, neither 9/11 nor the Obama administration happened here, and Arlen remained in simpler, Clintonian times. KOTH is not politically radical, but it is a show about the working class, and no show about the working class can avoid conflicts that arise from the deplorable conditions for workers in this country. Over the course of 13 seasons, KOTH portrays many labor actions: strikes, stoppages, scabbing, protests, and even corporate sabotage. The overt message of these episodes is never revolutionary, but a TV show doesn’t have to have revolutionary character to hold great lessons for those of us seeking to raise class consciousness. Hank’s relationship to his hedonistic boss, Buck Strickland, is rich material for uncovering and understanding the dynamics between the working class and the capitalists that run our businesses (and our lives).

When we say Hank is a capitalist’s dream, the specific capitalist living that dream is Buck Strickland, owner of Strickland Propane. Buck “discovered” Hank Hill when he was a young high school graduate selling Jordache at Jeans West. He correctly recognized Hank as his “golden goose,” and brought him into the “Strickland family,” to sell propane and propane accessories. Because of this, Hank looks to Buck as a mentor and a surrogate father figure. Buck, on the other hand, exploits Hank for all the surplus value he can squeeze out of him over the next 15 years.

All capitalist bosses exploit their workers and extract value from their labor to make their profits, but Buck takes this parasitic relationship to extremes. It is a running joke that Buck contributes nothing to the business, steals from the safe and the coffee fund, and skips town the second he might have to take any responsibility (sometimes literally bailing out the window). In the episode where Buck gets banned from his favorite strip club (Jugstore Cowboys), Hank tries to convince him to come back to work at Strickland Propane, but Buck makes his position clear:

BUCK: I hate work, Hank! It’s so god-awful boring. How you don’t kill yourself is beyond me. (S10E12)

No matter how big a mess Buck makes—philandering, gambling, even colluding on an illegal price fixing cartel—Hank is always there to clean it up. On top of Hank’s regular work managing the entire business, Buck has Hank bail him out of jail on multiple occasions, complete his community service for him, and otherwise do all his dirty work. All of this he demands of Hank without so much as a “please,” and certainly never a raise. On more than one occasion Buck loses Hank at the poker table, gambling him away like so many chips. Hank’s labor power is a commodity that his employer controls, and that Buck trades in to pay his debts.

Despite Buck’s exploitation and even outright abuse, Hank is pathologically loyal to the company that defines him. It takes a series of significant betrayals for Hank to question that loyalty.

Hospitalized with the first of many “infarctions,” Buck passes over his most effective and loyal worker (Hank) to put the toady B-school graduate Lloyd Vickers in charge of the business (S02E12). Hank, by contrast, is assigned to feed Strickland’s hounds, and while at Buck’s mansion, he finds out that the man he idolizes doesn’t even cook on a gas stove.

HANK: How could you, sir? …you’ve always said that propane is God’s gas. It’s a higher calling.

BUCK: Aww hell Hank, it’s just a business! It’s about makin’ as much money as you can while you can. (S02E12)

Buck has no illusions that there is anything noble about running a business, and no compunctions about throwing his best worker under the bus in the hopes of earning higher profits (a decision he will regret in this one instance, but only briefly). Hank is loyal to his boss, but this is a tragic, misplaced loyalty that is never reciprocated. It’s a form of dramatic irony that we in the audience know Buck is a terrible boss, even if Hank will not admit it. This is a relatable characterization of Hank. It is often easier to recognize poor treatment of others rather than confront our own exploitation.

Buck puts Vickers in charge because he thinks his “fancy business school degree” might earn him more money (10 cents a gallon in fact). Hank would never consider Peak Demand Pricing because that’s “sticking it to people when they need us most” (S02E12), but to a capitalist like Vickers, the market demands they extract as much profit as they can—from both the employees and the customers. Buck agrees to put the tattler boxes in the trucks (to track drivers’ routes and cut down on unscheduled stops) for the same reason. This is the last straw for Hank.

HANK: Mister Strickland, I never thought I’d say this but…I’m not coming in tomorrow

BUCK: You quittin’, or are you taking a personal day?

HANK: You heard me! (S02E12)

For the first (and arguably last) time, Hank has finally seen through the layers of bullshit Buck uses to placate him into accepting all of this poor treatment. He goes to the lake to reflect on what it all means, but Hank is not a man who is equipped to emerge from his retreat with new philosophy of life. Because he doesn’t know how to relate to the world other than through his identity as a worker, what he ends up doing is searching for some more “authentic” work to structure his life around. He settles on being the manager of a “Mom and Pop” general store.

HANK: Peggy! Pack up the car, I’ve figured it all out. It’s not about tattler boxes or who’s in charge. It’s about service with a smile and makin’ people happy. […] Everything I thought I’d find in propane, it isn’t there. It’s in the general store, where they put people before pennies. (S02E12)

The problem is there is no aspect of the capitalist system that puts “people before pennies.” It is, as Buck said, “about making as much money as you can, while you can.” We know that Hank’s sentimental vision of the general store is also a lie. After Hank leaves the store that inspired his epiphany, “Ma” berates “Pa”:

PA: Twenty’s close enough. we don’t care about a buck here or there. People before pennies I always say

HANK: Well thank you friend; you’re good people

[HANK leaves]

MA: We don’t care about a buck here or there? Now I know why they call you Pa. Because you’re PA-thetic

PA: And I know why they call you Ma! Because you’re always riding MAH ASS. (S02E12)

“People before pennies” is a line Hank can embrace in his search for meaning in his work. But it’s a complete illusion. You cannot run a business this way, and you definitely can’t run it the way Hank envisions running his general store:

HANK: A fella’s got no money, he can’t pay his bill? Well that’s good enough for us. And then that fella will tell another fella, and before you know it we’ll have customers lined up around the block. (S02E12)

Meanwhile, back at Strickland, the drivers have all quit, Buck has fired Vickers (after unleashing a torrent of creatively TV-appropriate swearing), and customers have left dozens of messages on Hank’s voicemail asking when their propane will be delivered. Without the drivers’ labor, Strickland can’t run his business. Without Hank and his leadership, Strickland had no hope of keeping the drivers on the job.

This “Snow Job” episode (S02E12) is an outlier, in that Hank pushes back against Buck’s exploitation. Normally, Buck can count on Hank, and more passively the rest of his staff, to acquiesce to his meetings in the men’s room, his stealing from the safe to go to the strip club, his affair with employee Debbie Grund, and all the humiliating schemes he makes them work through.

Buck at one point holds the entire staff of Strickland Propane hostage at the office overnight to indulge him in playing board games, and tortures them by making anyone who voices any protest wear a wet blanket (S10E12). If a private individual did this to a random group of strangers he would be a criminal, but because a boss is doing it to his workers, Hank and the rest of the employees at Strickland Propane are acculturated to accept Buck’s egregious demands.

JOE JACK: I won’t wear the blanket again, honey. I swear I won’t.

HANK: I hate it, too, but you can’t argue with Mr. Strickland. Not when business is up. (S10E12)

Under capitalism, a lot of abuse is totally excusable (or even unassailable) so long as “business is up.” In order to keep business on the up, capitalists have to keep making increasing demands on their workers.

The only question is how much their can increase those demands, and for how long, before the workers revolt. Joe Jack might have followed through on his desire to “throw a blanket over his [Buck’s] head and do what feels right,” had Hank not intervened (S10E12).

Not all bosses are alike, and by lack of skill or circumstances, not all of them succeed at striking the delicate balance between labor exploiting and loyalty inspiring. Hank’s neighbor, Kahn Souphanousinphone, usually a white collar “systems analyst,” gets to try his hand at being the boss in “The Year of Washing Dangerously” episode (S10E09). It does not go well.

When Buck farms out Hank as day labor to Kahn’s car wash scheme1, Kahn (a petit-bourgeoisie striver to the core) abuses and humiliates Hank beyond his limits. What’s more, he exploits the customers, jacking up the prices and cheating them on spray time. As we learned from the Snow Job episode (S02E12), if there’s one thing Hank can’t abide, it’s screwing over customers. Kahn then accuses Hank of stealing:

KAHN: You trying to steal from me? Empty your pockets!
HANK: I’m not going to empty my pockets.

KAHN: Something to hide, huh?
HANK: Kahn, get away from me.

KAHN: Ah! A quarter! I knew it. Thief!
HANK: That is my personal quarter. I brought it from home. (S10E09)

For Hank, this is an embarrassing and intolerable questioning of his integrity. For the rest of us, we can see the absurdity of a boss like Kahn accusing a man like Hank Hill of “stealing” a measly quarter. Kahn thinks as the owner he is entitled to every quarter he can wring out of Hank and Scrubby’s, but that’s the capitalism talking. We know that Labor is entitled to all it creates.

When Hank inevitably quits, Buck takes Kahn aside and, exasperated, explains the scheme to him. Buck, like all successful capitalists, knows from where his wealth derives in this system. “I got my own little success secret,” he says. “A business thrives on customer relations and back-breaking hard work. And that’s the guy that gives it to you. Hank is the golden goose.” (S10E09)

Kahn’s failure here was not that he exploited Hank, or even that he exploited him too much. In context, the work Buck makes Hank do, and the humiliations he makes him suffer, are manifold. Buck regularly makes his employees take meetings in the restroom while he sits on the toilet. He makes Hank skip date night with his wife to go kill the Emus on his failed Emu farm, because they were no longer profitable. Most egregiously, Buck tries to frame Hank for murder (S04E14).

For 15 years Hank puts up with Buck’s bullshit, only flirting with quitting in the most egregious of circumstances and never following through, but he only lasts two days with Kahn. Why does Hank know his worth and the power of withholding his labor in this case, but not in any other?

The difference between Kahn’s clumsy petit-bourgeois exploitation and Buck’s professional capitalist version is that Kahn rubbed it in. He couldn’t help but laugh in Hank’s face and proclaim him a monkey. Insecure with his position as a member of the managerial class, Kahn reasserts his dominance over Hank at every opportunity. Buck, by contrast, named Hank employee of the month for 14 years running, and constantly reminds his staff that Strickland Propane is a “family”2. This helps maintain the illusion that the boss has a vested interest in his workers as people instead of just as commodities from which he can extract more and more labor, and thus more and more profit.

There’s an intersectional component to this too, that Kahn is a Laotian immigrant and Buck is a white man. It’s clear that, as a character trait, Kahn Soupanusinphone strives to achieve the bourgeois lifestyle he perceives as the American dream—personified in Ted Wasonasong (country club membership, giant house with a pool in a gated community, consumer luxury goods). He’s taken in by the get rich quick schemes of Asian telemarketer Doctor Money, but Kahn will never achieve the promise of the American bourgeoisie. Try as he might, he will never be admitted to the club—neither Nine Rivers Country Club nor the capitalist class3.

Hank, meanwhile, doesn’t see anything wrong with a social order in which he is the property of a white man like Buck Strickland, but cannot abide his neighbor Kahn in the same position.

HANK: I left Jeans West to work for one of the most admired men in Arlen business: Buck Strickland. Not a lazy idiot who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. (S10E09)

Throughout the series, it’s implied that Buck was once a formidable businessman, but considering we rarely see Buck do anything even approaching business acumen (with the notable exception of hiring Hank),it’s more likely that’s a myth that Hank tells to justify his current cognitive dissonance. “Lazy idiot” describes Buck perhaps even better than it does Kahn but Hank steadfastly ignores any such comparisons.

“I know the secret to success: hard work,” Hank lectures Kahn (S10E09). This is at once trite received knowledge and extreme naivete.

Hank fetishizes hard work for its own sake, an attitude that he certainly did not get from either of his parents. He tries to impart this lesson to his son Bobby on many occasions, but the depth of his work ethic is so ludicrous it always comes off as a joke. For example, when Bobby becomes the towel manager of the football team and is assigned to clean every jockstrap after a game, Hank says:

HANK: Looks like you’ve got some hard work ahead of you. Enjoy it because you’ve earned it. (S07E06)

Like Hank, many people in the real world come to the conclusion that hard work is the answer to every problem. This is deliberately instilled in us through a lifetime of capitalist ideology that permeates every aspect of our existence. The promise goes like this: work hard, and you will succeed. The corollary is if you don’t succeed, you’re not working hard enough.

Of course the Bucks of the world want the Hanks to work harder, in all circumstances. The more labor Hank puts in—to the car wash or to the propane dealership—the more profit the boss can extract from his labor.

One of the reasons that Hank remains loyal to his boss despite it all is that, far from feeling exploited when he has to go the extra mile, Hank takes pride in the fact that he works hard. But for what? The reward for all this hard work can’t be more money, or less work (both of which cut into the boss’s profit), so it becomes either a bromide like “satisfaction in a job well done,” or a passive sense of superiority over those who have less capacity or willingness to work. There is no better motivator than a strong moral compass, even if it points you in the wrong direction.

It’s a running gag over the ten seasons of King of the Hill that Hank doesn’t take any time off, and doesn’t know what to do with himself when he is forced to take a break from work. Work is not just a paycheck to Hank, it’s his identity. Even in situations that have nothing to do with work, he introduces himself as “Hank Hill, Assistant Manager, Strickland Propane.”

Hank’s identity as a worker is sewn up so tight that when he injures his back so badly that he can’t even stand up straight, the idea of taking worker’s comp is anathema to him (S08E20).

DOCTOR: Just have your office send over your workers’ compensation forms and I’ll sign off on them

HANK: Workers’ comp? Do I look like a hobo to you? No sir, I’m not going on welfare. (S08E20)

Even when Buck gives him the go-ahead to take time off, Hank’s work ethic supersedes his misplaced loyalty in his boss.

BUCK: Slow down old top! If you go on workers’ comp I can have Joe Jack’s cousin fill in for you for half the pay. And still have some left to buy my new lady some studio time.

HANK: Mister Strickland, as long as I’m breathing, I’m going to do my job. (S08E20)

Hank’s productive power is formidable, and capitalist ideology has taught him that he had better maintain that quality (and thus his value), or else what use is he? To admit that he can’t work, or needs accommodation, even for a 100% legitimate reason, is a blow to his self-concept.

When he is assigned to feed Strickland’s hounds in the Snow Job episode, Hank faces one more humiliation, from the new boss Vickers.

HANK: He had the nerve to give me flex time! That’s what they give pregnant women and other disableds. (S02E12)

Under capitalism, those whose productive power is diminished beyond what is useful for a capitalist to extract from their labor are considered “disabled”. That pregnant women are included in this inferior group is no accident—even though the labor they are doing is the most productive of the entire human race. The gender politics of work in KOTH are too vast to get into here, but suffice to say, Hank rails at the idea of being thought of as womanly in any way in part because his concept of masculinity is to be a worker with enormous capacity.

Hank can toil as hard as he wants, for as long as he wants without end (“Breaks are for guys on disability” Bobby parrots in S08E08), but in the end he’ll be right back where he started, and all he will have achieved is making the capitalist who owns his labor power richer.

If hard work guaranteed success, Hank would be manager of Strickland Propane, instead of assistant manager. Without the interference and sabotage from Buck, Hank could run Strickland Propane in his sleep. He could decide he has had enough of working for a boss like Buck, go out on his own (like M. F. Thatherton did)4, and run every other propane concern out of town5. The only advantage Buck has in this situation is that he owns the means of production. But under capitalism, that is the crucial advantage, and the difference between the bosses and the working class, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

“The place runs itself,” Buck says of the restaurant he owns (Sugarfoot’s). “The help makes the barbeque, I make the money” (S04E13). This is a particularly succinct statement of how wage labor works under capitalism. All of Buck’s wealth is created by the hard work of his employees, Hank especially.

Considering all this—that Buck brings nothing to the table, and is open about how he opportunistically extracts wealth from his workers and customers alike while trying to avoid any semblance of actual work—it might seem puzzling that Hank doesn’t push back, given his strong conviction in the morality of hard work. Instead, Hank actively works to prop up Buck’s authority, in increasingly hilarious ways. Whether he’s being Buck’s character witness or breaking the drivers’ strike, Hank consistently insulates his boss from the consequences of his actions.

You don’t have to be the beneficiary of the capitalist system to work to uphold it. Many people who do not directly benefit from capitalism are the most loyal enablers of the system. Some because they believe (like Kahn) that the capitalists will someday admit them to their club. Some because they imagine they are in a zero-sum game, pitted against their fellow workers for scraps. Hank does it because he has constructed an identity around work, and because he desperately wants Buck to be his surrogate father (in the next installment we’ll cover how capitalists exploit the family dynamic to maintain control over workers, and how Hank is particularly susceptible to this as the product of an abusive home).

In the same episode where Buck humiliates Hank by assigning him to feed his hounds, Hank bails Buck out of hot water yet again. The drivers’ strike threatens to put Arlen out of propane during the cold snap, and Buck out of business. The drivers know their power, in part because they have class C licenses to transport hazardous materials, but also because, as we find out earlier in the episode, they have a union. They want the tattler boxes out of their trucks, so they withhold the most valuable thing they can give to Strickland: their labor.

This is a sound strategy, but like all labor actions, they were vulnerable to scabs and class traitors. Hank breaks the drivers’ strike by hooking up the bobtails to tow trucks, so that they can deliver propane without needing the labor of drivers with class-C licenses. He does this even though he agrees with the workers’ demands, and knows this problem is entirely the work of his nemesis Lloyd Vickers (S02E12).

Towing the bobtails is presented as a can-do solution to a crisis which gets the people of Arlen their propane in a rare snowy cold snap, but the real solution would be to remove the tattler boxes and invite the licensed drivers to come back to work. By caving on his stand against Buck’s harsh treatment (and worse, by scabbing against his fellow workers) Hank loses any chance he had to make gains for a better workplace. He is only setting himself up for another 15 years of wage slavery and exploitation.

The bobtail incident is not the only time Hank scabs while workers are on strike. In the episode “A Fire-fighting We Will Go” (S03E10), Hank and the gang knowingly cross a picket line in order to live out their childhood fantasy of being volunteer firefighters. They are not paid for this labor, but no one seems to care so long as they can drive around in the fire truck and posture about their new “occupation.”

The episode itself is critical of Hank’s choice to cross the picket line, reminding us of the paid workers that they are displacing, and making it extremely clear that their scab labor is disastrously incompetent. They burn down the entire firehouse, in fact. But none of this matters to Hank.

HANK: They’re striking? Well sir, fires don’t go on strike, I tell you hwat (S03E10).

When there’s work to be done, Hank is there to do it. He feels no remorse for any of his scabbing. Hank works hard, uncritically, because he has been indoctrinated not to think about who his hard work is serving—or hurting. For many people, capitalism is an uncritical good, and for Hank it is inextricably linked to being an American (nationalism is another way ideology solidifies the ruling class’s power over workers’ labor).

HANK: This is wrong, Mister Strickland. You’re the greatest American I know. If anyone can fix this, you can. (S12E11)

Hank is an extremely loyal person: to his country, to his friends and family, and to his boss. He cares deeply about his customers, and (foolishly) about the propane business that he has built his identity around. But he doesn’t have the sense of solidarity with other workers that is so crucial for building the labor movement. Without class consciousness, Hank will always put the interests of capitalists above his fellow workers. He will work like a dog to maintain the status quo that he knows and loves, because Hank is above all a man who plays by the rules. In America, the rule is capitalism over all.

At the end bumper of S05E01, the 2000 election episode, Hank and Bobby break the fourth wall and make a public service announcement that viewers should register to vote. “You’ll be eligible to win these valuable prizes,” Hank says: “Freedom. Civic Pride. And a brand-new President.”

If Hank had a smidgen of class consciousness, he might consider “freedom” the freedom to tell his drunk, debaucherous boss Buck Strickland where to shove it. He might finally recognize the ways Buck exploits him and extracts value from his labor beyond any returns Hank could ever imagine. He might even recognize his own power to join in solidarity with his fellow workers.

Hank Hill will never do any of these things. Not just because he’s a TV character, but because he is the consummate worker. Unlike Kahn, who futilely seeks to join the bourgeoisie, Hank is content to work hard every day at the propanerie, never rock the boat, and remain Assistant Manager forever.

The Case for Ecosocialism: Polluting Plutocracy vs. Prosperity

Gracie Brett

A near total consensus has been reached amongst scientists: climate change threatens life on Earth, and it is caused by human actions (FitzRoy & Papyrakis, 2010). Essentially, the release of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere traps heat, thus warming the planet. The implications of this are myriad and devastating. Sea levels will rise, swallowing most major cities across the globe — creating mass population displacement. Extreme weather events will become more frequent, taking lives, and requiring expensive relief and rebuilding. While the coasts will suffer from stronger storms, the interior areas of the globe will likely endure incessant droughts, threatening water supply and agriculture. Widespread starvation and thirst will ensue. Obviously, the climate crisis can no longer be ignored. But, how will humans avert this planetary catastrophe and their own extinction?

Scholars, scientists and policymakers have debated this question for decades. A fascinating proposition to address this crisis has emerged out of neoliberal thought: green capitalism. Green capitalism is the idea that the market is the best means to combat climate change. Some “green” market solutions include cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, green consumption, and the development of clean technologies by benevolent billionaires in the private sector — just to name a few. Free market liberals assert that these schemes can preserve the environment while perpetuating the capitalist system (Pearson, 2010). Yet, I contend that capitalism, even when regulated and manipulated by market schemes, is wholly incompatible with planetary health. I argue that socialism is the only form of political economy that can maintain democracy and ecological stability simultaneously.

Why Capitalism Will Not Work

Historically, industrial capitalism has been causally linked with earth-warming carbon emissions (fig. 1). As the capitalist system has expanded, emissions have risen. This is not a controversial point: the more fundamental disagreement is if capitalism is predisposed to environmental destruction, or if this linkage can be decoupled. Ecosocialists disagree with the latter by declaring capitalism the principal driver of ecological collapse.

GB_ecosoc_Fig1

Figure 1

An integral reason Ecosocialists maintain this argument is capitalism’s requisite for infinite economic growth. Capitalism, by definition, seeks profit. For capitalists to accumulate more profits, they must keep capital circulating. They can do so by reducing reinvestment into labor and the environment. The incessant need for capitalism to circulate capital and expand has been described as “an accelerating treadmill” that must consume increased labor and resources to survive (Robbins et al., 2014). Yet, the resources of Earth are finite; humans cannot exploit and expand indefinitely. Eventually, growth must cease.

In the book What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism, the authors explain, “No-growth capitalism is an oxymoron: when accumulation ceases, the system is in a state of crisis.” Previously, any time growth has stagnated, devastating economic implications followed — as observed in Japan currently, and the United States during the Great Depression. The conception that capitalism can exist without growth is historically contradictory.

Green capitalists counter this critique, arguing that capitalism could exist without growth theoretically — functioning as a capitalist steady state economy as outlined by the Solow Growth model (fig. 2). There are a litany of unrealistic assumptions the model makes: no government, no international trade, no technological change, and an unchanging labor force. Yet, the most problematic assumption the model makes is that capitalist firms can be satisfied and operate with the same profit returns each year.

GB_ecosoc_fig2

Figure 2

The zero-growth idea is wholly incongruent with the nature of capitalism. Firms accumulate capital so they can invest and create more capital. The Solow Growth model reflects an exchange process in which a commodity C is traded for money M to purchase another commodity, expressed as C-M-C. In this equation, M is simply a means to acquire a commodity. But, I argue that this is a fallacious representation of the economy. A more accurate formula is, as outlined by Marx and Keynes, is M-C-M, in which money is invested to produce a commodity to yield more money (Bellamy Foster & Magdoff, 2011).

Capitalist businesses function using the M-C-M model: goods and services are primarily produced for profit, not need. Although neoclassic, mainstream economists insist that markets operate within simple supply-and-demand linear models,  in reality, the economy is more complex. Demand does not solely dictate supply. For example, drugs for male baldness receive more funding than diseases like Malaria. Although malaria is a fatal disease (those infected need medicine to survive), it is not as profitable as producing hair growth drugs, thus attracts less capital. Capitalists invest in what is profitable rather than what is needed or demanded by the public. In the case of malaria drug funding, capitalist billionaire Bill Gates conceded, “our priorities are tilted by marketplace imperatives” highlighting the “flaw in the pure capitalistic approach.”

A similar “flaw” manifests in the housing market. In the United States alone, there over half a million homeless people, while there are an estimated 5.8 million vacant homes. Numerically, there are enough homes to shelter every citizen; but this does not happen because it is not profitable. Rather than invest in sorely needed affordable housing, developers build lucrative luxury real estate. Housing markets have financialized, functioning as a tool for the wealthy elite to grow their capital. Luxury condos and apartments in American cities are purchased not for living, but for speculative profiteering. All the while, low and middle-income needs are neglected, resulting in an affordable housing and homeless crisis. The drug and housing markets demonstrate that capitalist firms produce in order to accumulate more money, rather than providing a commodity: representing M-C-M, not the neoclassical C-M-C assumption. Thus, the crux of the Solow Growth model is unrealistic.

Capitalism necessitates growth for another reason — debt. The capitalist economy, “is in debt, dependent on future growth, owed by future producers and consumers; the current income of capitalists and workers is drawn on a generational IOU; the entire system must keep growing or it will collapse” (Blackwater, 2014). Banks and bond holders lend because they anticipate the loan will be fulfilled with interest, thus rendering a profit. For the borrowing firm to fulfill its obligation, it must expand. For example, when a start-up company secures a loan, they use the funds to produce goods and services that otherwise did not exist; to repay the loan, the start-up must begin production. As capitalism financializes, debt-induced growth becomes more relevant. The entire stock market is driven by the promise of future profitability: one purchases stock with the singular motive of receiving a higher return at a later date. For a firm to fulfill such expectations, it must expand production.

Further, some growth advocates assert that economic growth can be decoupled from greenhouse gas emissions and environmental ruin. There has been relative decoupling in Western nations like the United States, but not absolute (fig. 3). Moreover, decoupling in the Global North is often a product of outsourcing; in the cases of Japan and Germany, resource-intensive production occurs abroad, then imported for consumption; this is also spreading to the East, as evident in China’s Belt & Road Initiative. The United Nations’ report on decoupling concedes, “The conceptual framework for decoupling and understanding of the instrumentalities for achieving it are still in an infant stage.”

GB_ecosoc_fig 3

Figure 3. 

Additionally, the decoupling of growth and emissions faces another hurdle, known as Jevons Paradox. The paradox maintains that as energy efficiency increases, effectively making energy cheaper, consumption will increase. This can negate “more than 100% of the [energy] savings achieved by the original innovation.” The absolute decoupling of emissions from economic growth proves to be impossible.

Society cannot simply replace fossil fuels with renewable energies and continue business as usual. Despite technological advancements, most evidence indicates that renewable energy cannot support the American level of consumption. The ecological footprint that is considered sustainable is 1.67 global hectares per person ;the average American’s ecological footprint is about 2.7 meaning it would require about 4 earths if everyone lived like the United States population. This is a baffling level of consumption, and continuing this path is impossible and unsustainable. Further, as the nations of the Global South develop their economies, their ecological footprints will grow, putting greater pressure on the planet. It would be unfair and immoral to force the Global South to cease development in order to preserve the Global North’s extraordinary consumption and growth.

Not to mention, renewable energy technology still imposes significant burdens on the environment. To construct a wind turbine, immense amounts of steel (and coal in the production process), copper, plastic, and concrete is required. Alexander Dunlap writes in End the “Green” Delusions: Industrial-scale Renewable Energy is Fossil Fuel+

“The construction and placement of wind turbines requires the creation of roads that clear trees and animal habitats and compact soil. They also require the creation of wind turbine foundations that range, depending on the site, between 7-14 meters (32-45 ft.) deep and about 16-21 meters (52-68 ft.) in diameter. The foundations require the filling of ground water with solidifying chemicals before filling them with steel reinforced concrete. Then, during operation, leaking oil seeps into the ground where animals graze and into water wells where people drink. And this leaves aside the effects of concrete production, as well as the violence involved in building wind or other renewable energy systems on Indigenous territory. On top of all this, each wind turbine only has roughly a 30-40 year lifespan before it needs to be decommissioned and, hopefully, recycled, which is currently done at an unsatisfactory rate over all.” 

Renewable technology and efficiency cannot continue at such a dramatic and continuous rate eternally. There are practical limits in technological advancement, as illustrated in the transportation sector. The United States’ is extremely dependent on oil, as 41 percent of end energy use is transportation, while only 5 percent of transportation is powered by non-oil sources. Electrifying the vehicle fleet is a proposed solution to decarbonize transportation; electric vehicles can be powered by renewable energy. This solution is wholly unsuited for heavy road vehicles, ships and aircraft. Liquid fuels cannot simply be substituted by electrification, as larger forms of transport would require batteries too large to be practical. There are some alternatives to electrification, but none are sufficient to satisfy current and expanding transportation needs. For instance, sails and kites can greatly reduce fuel use on ships, but with notable limits. Sail and kite power would significantly reduce ship speed, while requiring boats to have to wait for the right currents, tides and winds.

Biofuels could be swapped for gasoline in heavy vehicles and airplanes, but again, there are restraints. Considerable amounts of energy must be used to produce biofuels; in the United States growing, harvesting, transporting and distilling ethanol is extremely energy intensive. It requires about 70 percent more energy to produce ethanol than the energy ethanol contains. Further, an immense amount of land is needed to grow enough biofuels for air travel. To meet present-day aviation needs, 1.11 million square kilometers of land must be dedicated to raising biofuel crops, or about 2.5% of current agricultural land. This is unattainable, and would only become more difficult as the aviation industry grows. The environmental impacts, costs and scalability of biofuels imposes serious limitations on future mobility.

Thus, if transportation cannot be maintained or expanded in a renewable future, what happens? Stated plainly, society will be less mobile. Industries reliant on transportation and machinery will be circumscribed; global trade will decrease, tourism will slow, and industrial agriculture output will lessen. Gross domestic  products of nations across the globe will stall, as these sectors drive economic growth.

Such obstacles are not intended to eschew the renewable transition — that transition is indisputably necessary. In highlighting the limitations of the renewable world, I illustrate the inability to completely decouple energy use and economic growth. Clearly, present consumption in the United States cannot be preserved in a renewable economy. If America’s (and generally the Global North’s) consumption is already extraordinary, then expansion is obviously impractical.

The Ecosocialist Project

As described, capitalism requires infinite growth and exploitation of resources. Because this is unsustainable, I argue that the future must be socialist. The current political economy must be overhauled and replaced with a system that prioritizes the planet over profit. Critics highlight the history of previous socialist projects, asserting that socialism was attempted before and failed. For instance, the Soviet Union and Mao-era China are notorious for its environmental destruction. The USSR experienced heavy pollution, declining freshwater supplies, while China deforested large swaths of pine forests. Not to mention, there were egregious human rights violations and acts of violence committed by the authoritarian governments. The difference between these regimes and a future socialist society is clear:  socialism, in its true form, has never existed.   Self-proclaimed socialist states such as the USSR and China can be considered state capitalist, in which the state seizes the means of production and replaces the capitalist. Effectively, little changes, and the state makes a profit off of workers instead of private businesspeople.

This prompts the question: what is real socialism, and why is it an integral component of combating the climate crisis? Essentially, socialism is a political system where the economy is democratized. This means that workers, rather than capitalist, own the means of production. This is otherwise understood as worker cooperatives in which workers vote for their leaders within a company, rather than the current (and certainly undemocratic) system where boards decide business decisions void of worker input. Most of the time, a CEO’s interests are diametrically opposed to that of the common worker. This is because the capitalist seeks the highest profit possible; as little else matters in the capitalist system, like labor and the environment.

In the socialist workplace, the profit motive is removed — a firm must only remain solvent. Wealth is distributed more equitably among all workers, as opposed to mass profiteering by CEOs and other high-ranking executives in the capitalist system. Currently in the United States, CEO pay is 361 times greater than the average worker. This egregious wealth inequality leads to a lack of empathy and moral decision-making. Several studies indicate that wealth leads to decreased compassion and empathy. Thus, a privileged elite like a corporate Board of Trustees is less likely to make empathetic and morally just decisions than a worker cooperative where wealth is distributed. This is illustrated in the cases of Volkswagen’s emission fraud scandal, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and Love Canal. How could such a nefarious fraud and environmental destruction continue on a fairly regular basis? I argue that the extreme wealth accumulation of the capitalist system encourages immoral and callous decision making. A cooperative, socialist workplace that operates equitably and democratically must replace capitalist firms to avoid further ecological disaster.

Consequently, Ecosocialists are not advocating for an authoritarian central bureaucracy that imposes carbon rationing. In fact, communists maintain that this system could operate without state intervention entirely: as communism is the abolition of both private property and the state (Mann & Wainwright, 2018). This vision contradicts the socialism as practiced in previous “socialist” regimes that consist of authoritarian rationing by the state rather than decentralized economic democracy. The climate crisis, socialists argue, is not to be addressed with rations per se, but with an overhaul of the political economy that would not be motivated by profit. Below, I outline how profit is produced, as described by Marx (Burkett, 2014):

GB_ecosoc_fig 4

As observed, the highest profit is extracted by investing as little as possible into labor and resources. Thus, the capitalist system is built upon imposing environmental externalities onto society like pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Even if a firm decided to invest enough money to replenish the environment properly (such as cleaning up pollution, replanting deforested trees, and replacing fossil power with renewable sources) labor must be exploited to maintain profit. This is what I call “green barbarism,” a society that preserves the environment, but maintains extreme inequality — for example, a company produces solar panels with sweatshop labor. Socialists argue that capital should be removed from this equation to adequately compensate labor and resources.

Although many environmentalists recognize that the capitalist system is incompatible with the preservation of Earth, they claim it is quixotic to advocate for socialism. More moderate, mainstream environmentalists are sympathetic, yet ultimately critical of the Ecosocialist vision. In his review of This Changes Everything, environmental scholar Daniel Fiorino remarks, “A global anti-capitalist revolution does not appear to be in the offing,” justifying a more incremental approach to climate action. Yet — I question such centrist rationale.

Throughout history, the privileged and professional classes have failed to foresee political change. One of the latest examples is the election of President Donald Trump. For most pundits, pollsters, and political professionals — Trump’s victory came as a complete surprise. The vast majority of polls predicted a victory for Hillary Clinton; at some points in the campaign, pollsters asserted that there was a single-digit likelihood that Trump would win the presidency. In the mainstream political and media realms, there was a consensus that Trump would lose the election, including President Obama, George Clooney and the Simpsons TV show. Previously, few could imagine a modern president that brags about sexual assault, vilifies the press as “the enemy of the people,” and heaps lavish praise on dictators. President Trump incessantly contradicts the norms established by the ruling elite, yet they continue to be surprised by his supporters’ loyalty and the dearth of political backlash. Similarly, many denounced Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid in 2016 because he identifies as a socialist. Sanders’ rise and legitimate challenge to Secretary Clinton’s pursuit of the democratic nomination surprised elites.

These recent cases demonstrate that political “truths” held by scholars and elites are often out of touch with the working-class zeitgeist. Those within the political and academic establishment may hold that a complete overhaul of the political system is out of the question Yet, history indicates otherwise. Previously, extreme wealth inequality has only been lessened by catastrophes like plagues, wars, and revolutions. Deepening inequality cannot expand endlessly, and it appears that the United States is nearing the limits of inequity. Inequality is often measured by the Gini coefficient: scoring total egalitarian societies as 0 and completely unequal ones as 1. Currently, the United States scores at a jarring .81. There is no precedent for resolving such ingrained inequalities without a dramatic event like a revolution. In these hyper inequitable times, a socialist revolution and upheaval of capitalism is not far-fetched. In fact, it may be a more probable outcome than limitless continuation of current economic barbarism.

Building a Different (Socialist) World

As Marx predicted in his crisis theory, it is inevitable that global capitalism will eventually collapse. There are two possible causes of collapse. One is the ecological annihilation to fuel the incessant growth requisite of capitalism: meaning the end of a livable planet and the human race that exists in it. The second option for collapse, which I advocate for, is a socialist revolution to force the end of capitalism.

Without a doubt, Ecosocialists have significant work ahead to realize a revolution. Policies and actions pursued should combat climate change, while also politicizing, radicalizing, and building working-class power. For example, advocating for free and expanded public transportation achieves both of these goals. Improved public transportation would slash greenhouse gases, while simultaneously improving quality of life for those at the bottom who cannot afford cars. Similarly, low-carbon affordable public housing achieves the same goals. Both of these initiatives could be part of a “Green New Deal,” like the plan proposed by Congresswoman-elect and Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. An ecosocialist Green New Deal would radically restructure the U.S. economy away from carbon, create jobs, and expand the welfare state.

These policies seem unimaginable and unattainable in the neoliberal era. Thus, many market liberals argue that environmentalists must compromise their ultimate goals, instead favoring incremental approaches to curb warming, like cap-and-trade and venture capitalism. But this approach is precarious. Such market approaches only entrench the present economic system — allowing capitalism to perpetuate itself by expanding into spaces like carbon markets. For instance, the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) was created in 2005 to comply with Kyoto Protocol standards. Since the program’s implementation, though, there has been little change in emissions. In 2006, the price of carbon plummeted, allowing for polluters to make windfall profits (FitzRoy & Papyrakis, 2010). This initiative did the opposite of its original intention: awarded polluters. Even if the price of carbon was increased by governments, companies that stockpiled cheap credits after the market bust can continue business as usual. It would take many more years before these polluters feel the tightening of cap-and-trade, and begin developing cleaner technologies. But, we have no time to waste.

I argue that market schemes like cap-and-trade do not provide the radical shift away from fossil fuels required to avert a global crisis. In fact, carbon markets give large polluters an easy out to perpetuate the status quo, rather than forcing them to invest in carbon-free technology. Emitters can purchase cheap offset credits from others, often in the Global South, rather than create a green infrastructure in the heavy-polluting Global North. For example, China’s newly built hydroelectric plants sell their extra carbon credits on the international market; essentially providing the Global North with a stable, inexpensive way to continue polluting. These hydroelectric plants were planned before the installment of ETS; therefore, no environmental gains are made, and massive amounts of money is wasted. Furthermore, although hydroelectric energy is not carbon-intensive, it still has devastating effects on local environments, like deforesting massive swaths of land to then flood.

Green New Deal policies prompt citizens to question the neoliberal austerity they have become accustomed to, and expect the state to provide more. Americans (and increasingly, citizens of other nations in the global north) have accepted deteriorating public services at the behest of deficit hawks. Private enclosure, individualism, and atomization has been prioritized over public commons. Ecosocialists challenge this narrative by prioritizing public spending, whether it be for increased taxes on the rich, or the total rejection of deficit politics by use of Modern Monetary Theory. Ecosocialist policies that expand the commons of transit, housing, and public space embolden citizens to pursue a politics of collectivism that sows the seeds for uprising against the status quo. 

 These actions illuminate a brighter vision for the future, sowing the seeds for uprising. Violence is not requisite for this revolution; mass, nonviolent strikes could be more effective than armed conflict. A critical mass of workers withholding their labor can bring the entire capitalist system to a grinding halt. If workers in the food production system went on strike, grocery stores would be barren. Airline workers could stop all air travel. Teachers could cease education: as they recently did in West Virginia, consequently having their demands fulfilled. There are myriad possibilities.

In conclusion, Ecosocialists argue that capitalism is simply unsustainable. This economic paradigm produced the climate crisis by exploiting Earth for profit; as it burns fossil fuels that warm the planet, fails to absorb destructive externalities, fights environmental regulations, and encourages overconsumption and limitless growth. Capitalism must be abandoned in favor of a system that prioritizes society and the Earth over profit. Ecosocialism means expanding democracy into the economy, rather than enlarging the state or turning to eco-authoritarianism.

The alternative to the unequal and ecologically poisonous system of capitalism is compelling. Ecosocialism is an economic system that serves all, favoring people over profit. Naomi Klein writes in This Changes Everything,

“Because, underneath all of this is the real truth we have been avoiding: climate change isn’t an ‘issue’ to add to the list of things to worry about, next to health care and taxes. It is a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message spoken — in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us that we need to evolve.”

A beautiful and thriving planet without war, famine, and oppression is achievable. Although critics may claim this vision is quixotic, I argue that the only barrier to reaching an egalitarian, ecological democracy is political imagination. Environmental justice advocate Ashish Kothari urges for society to “dare to dream another future” by imagining a utopian vision for the future, returning to the present, and then creating a plan to get there. Environmentalists must create a climate action plan that clears a path for political-economic revolution. Another world is not only possible, but now necessary.

Bibliography

Bellamy Foster, J. & Magdoff, F. (2011). What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press.

Blackwater, B. (2012). Why do capitalist economies need to grow? Greenhouse Think Tank. Retrieved from https://www.greenhousethinktank.org/uploads/4/8/3/2/48324387/why_capitalist_economies_need_to_grow_-_for_green_house_-_10_10_14.pdf.

Burkett, P. (2014). Marx and Nature. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books. 

 

DiLorenzo, T. (1992, Mar 1). Why Socialism Causes Pollution. Foundation for Economic Education. Retrieved from https://fee.org/articles/why-socialism-causes-pollution/.

Fiorino, D. (2016). Can We Change Everything? The Politics and Economics of Climate Change. Public Admin Rev, 76: 970-974. doi:10.1111/puar.12668

Fitzroy, F. & Papyrakis, E. (2010). An Introduction to Climate Change Economics and Policy. London, England: Earthscan.

Helm, D. (2012). The Carbon Crunch. London: Yale University Press.

Henry Ford Quotations. Retrieved from https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-resources/popular-topics/henry-ford-quotes/.

Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Pannekoek, A. (1936). State Capitalism and Dictatorship. International Council Correspondence, 3:1. Retrieved from https://www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/1936/dictatorship.htm.

Pearse, R. (2014). Climate capitalism and its discontents. Global Environmental Politics, 14(1), 130–135. doi:10.1162/GLEP_r_00217

Pearson, C. S. (2011). Economics and the Challenge of Global Warming. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Robbins, J. & Moore, S. (2010). Environment and Society. West Sussex, England: Wiley-Blackwell.

Rull, J. The Solow Growth Model [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~vr0j/econ10205/lectures/grow5_solow.pdf.

United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP]. (2011) Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth. Retrieved from http://www.ourenergypolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/decoupling.pdf.

 

Insights on Tenant Organizing from Stonybrook Village: A Conversation with Boston DSA Housing WG Comrades

Boston DSA housing working group comrades, along with City Life/Vida Urbana folks, have been actively canvassing residents of Stonybrook Village in Hyde Park since last August. After close to a year of hard work, the Stonybrook Tenants Union held a public rally against the abusive management on June 2, drawing over a hundred people. PEWG blog sat down to talk with comrades Evan L, Adam H and Ben S from the housing working group on effective strategies to organize tenants. 

PEWG blog: Can you speak briefly about how you decided to canvass at the Stonybrook village?

Evan L: The decision to canvass at Stonybrook for the first time was similar to a lot of other buildings we’ve canvassed – City Life/Vida Urbana (CLVU) told us that this was a building that might be experiencing a clearout; it had been sold a few months previously for ~12.5 million dollars to Lincoln Ave Capital, a company owned by the Bronfman family (heir to the Seagram liquor fortune). But we had canvassed at a lot of different buildings before through CLVU or using our own scraper data for similar reasons. Maybe what’s more relevant here is what made us decide to commit to organizing in the building. I think that was a combination of feeling a little bit more confident in our abilities after around a year of plugging into other CLVU work, and the initial canvases that we went on where we heard about the issues that people were experiencing at Stonybrook. 

PEWG blog: How were the first months of tenant canvassing at this location? How would you compare your experience here with that in other properties you have been to, such as Fairlawn in Mattapan?

Evan L: In the first few months we were really just trying to build relationships with folks and understand what they were dealing with. The broad issues were made obvious when talking to people: mold, pests, flooding, rent increases. These were all consistent issues, and one issue that began to stand out more and more over time was the relationship of the tenants to the onsite manager. All the tenants agree that she is rude and very difficult to deal with, and she is often retaliatory towards tenants that get on her bad side. She has had the cars of multiple tenants towed even when they had parking passes, has given out rent increases to tenants who she got in a fight with, and has made recertification of the lease a harrowing experience for everyone as she demands many obscure documents from tenants which were never required before. At the beginning of our canvassing, people were describing these issues to us, but they didn’t really trust us enough to organize with us. Compared to organizing at Fairlawn, I think the broad issues are very comparable. I think we generally agree though that early canvassing was tougher at Fairlawn than it was at Stonybrook. Tenants were in general more mistrustful, and getting into the buildings was just physically harder because you had to be buzzed in, whereas at Stonybrook all of the doors to the apartments are on the outside. 

Ben S: An additional challenge was that the management sent a letter to the tenants after our initial canvasses saying that we worked for management. This added to the general barriers that organizers experience as individuals not from the community. Organizing at Stonybrook has been easier for me than organizing at fairlawn because I’ve gotten to know the tenants while working here. 

PEWG blog: Do you think there was one particular aspect of your canvassing that convinced the tenants to organize into a union?

Adam H: I think when we showed up there was a lot of dissatisfaction and anger directed at management, but there was also very little trust for us as tenant organizers. Of course, this was to be expected, but it was also because management sent around misinformation and told the tenants that we were working with them! Two tenants in particular who later became leaders in the union, independently told us that they had not trusted us initially partly due to misinformation put out by management. Later, when management targeted them for eviction — in both cases as a retaliation for complaints about poor housing conditions — one tenant contacted CLVU for help with his eviction case. By a very lucky coincidence, we were at housing court for the hearing, and we bumped into the second tenant’s family as they prepared for their own defense against eviction. During these protracted legal fights, which they eventually won thanks to the legal support of Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and CLVU, both tenants were harassed by the management company with cynical, petty requests for various unnecessary forms and documents, which would only be replaced by new requests as soon as the tenants frantically produced them. Organizers from CLVU and DSA Housing working group showed up for these tenants again and again, which I think, built the core of trust that was the foundation for forming the union.

IMG_3221
Stony Brook Tenants Union Represent!

PEWG blog: What are the main difficulties you have faced in organizing at Stonybrook? And in general, while canvassing?

Adam H: Each building has its own advantages and disadvantages for organizing. At Stonybrook, all of the apartments have their own outward-facing door which means organizers can directly knock on a tenant’s apartment, while at other buildings, we have to first gain entry to the complex, which can be difficult in the early stages of organizing a building (as we build relationships with tenants, it’s less of an issue). Another challenge is management’s attempts to hinder our work, such as sending out misinformation to the tenants and telling organizers to leave if they encounter them. At other buildings, management has put up ‘No Trespassing’ flyers and installed security cameras. We usually interpret these actions as signs that the landlord is worried, and while they can be intimidating, they are therefore also encouraging.

The biggest challenge we face is to help the tenants feel a sense of ownership and leadership of the union. Many tenants work extremely long hours and face the disproportionate burden of hardship caused by the structural inequities built into capitalism. So it is naturally difficult for them to take up the fight against their landlord. But we have seen in our organizing at Stonybrook that as tenants engage in this struggle and experience how much power they have as an organized collective, they increasingly link their struggle to other working class fights — for example one tenant realized the parallels to the strikes of the Stop & Shop workers that were going on — and feel empowered by and committed to their union.

Ben S: What Adam said. Also there’s the constant challenge of knowing what issues will galvanize people into action. You’d think it might be raising rents or failure of management to fix things, but sometimes people have accepted those as just the way it is. At Stonybrook, the rudeness of the onsite manager was the main issue, that then connected in to the other issues the tenants are facing. At Fairlawn, it’s the fact that kids aren’t allowed to play outside that can get people talking at the door and interested in fighting back. 

PEWG blog: Following up, what are some ways tenant canvassing can be made more effective?

Evan L: Our main focus is always getting the tenants themselves to be the ones doing the canvassing and organizing. They are so much more effective than we could ever be, because they live in the building and they know exactly the issues that their neighbours are experiencing, and they have credibility when they talk about them. When we were canvassing to get 50 signatures on the list of demands, we tried to make sure that we were with tenant leaders on every single canvass. This made the work a lot easier and more effective, and of course was great for getting the tenant leaders to feel more ownership over the project. In future organizing efforts, it would be good to get the leaders from Stonybrook or Fairlawn to go on those initial canvases with us. They could connect the struggles between their building and whatever building we are organizing at in a way that would be really powerful. 

PEWG blog: Now that you have made tenants aware of their organizing power, what or how else can you work on building a class consciousness? And how would that tie into a “base-building” strategy?

Evan L: I think that the raising of class consciousness is a pretty integral part of organizing in your building, and we haven’t had to do all that much intentionally. To give an example, I was talking to one of the tenant leaders to set up a meeting for the next week, and right before we got off the phone she said “Oh wait, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this, isn’t what we’re doing at Stonybrook exactly like what’s happening at Stop and Shop?”. Engaging in collective struggle is itself a transformative experience, and the breakdown of some of the atomisation that we experience in our daily lives means that people begin to identify with the people around them in opposition to the things that are causing their shared problems. That being said, we have certainly tried to highlight the fact that this is a class struggle, and especially the fact that the landlords of the building are literal cartoon villain billionaires. And we want to continue connecting the struggle at Stonybrook to broader struggles against gentrification and displacement in our discussions with tenant leaders. 

Ben S: Evan’s point about collective struggle being a transformative experience is key. Connecting this struggle to the broader struggles in the housing justice movement and the struggle for liberation at large is more difficult, but that’s why we organize the tenants. 

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Two of the core tenant union organizers spoke about the abusive management at the rally in Stonybrook Village

PEWG blog: What are some of the next steps the housing working group are looking to take in regards to tenant organizing?

Evan L: We would love to start organizing another building; at this point it’s a question of capacity. Stomp Out Slumlords in DC goes on biweekly canvasses to people facing eviction both to give them know your rights material and encourage them to go to court, and also to identify new buildings to organize in. We have done similar canvasses in the past, we have the data to do them, and we would love to reinstate them as a regular thing so that we can keep identifying new buildings to organize in. We just need someone to bottom line making that happen.. So if anyone reading this wants to volunteer let us know!

Ben S: Come to a housing WG meeting (third Mondays of every month)! Or one of our tenant organizing trainings – the next one is on Monday July 8, 7-9 pm at the Democracy Centre (45 Mt. Auburn St, Cambridge). Or just post on the slack asking to get involved. Or email us at boston-dsa-housing@googlegroups.com! We always need people, and we started this having no idea what we were doing, so it’s always a collective learning process. We want to do this but more, which requires building up our capacity.

PEWG blog: What’s next for the Stonybrook Tenants Union? How can Boston DSA members keep supporting them?

Evan L: This is a little up in the air right now. We are starting to see some reactions from management after press coverage came out about the rally – the CEO of Lincoln Ave Capital replied extensively in the Boston Banner piece. They are denying a lot of the issues, especially around large rent raises, but according to the tenants some of their behavior is starting to change. Two of the tenant leaders reported that they got their lease renewal notice and didn’t get any rent increase for the year. Management has also started making a few cosmetic changes to the building, like repainting the stairs. That being said they still refuse to acknowledge or meet with the union, and that ultimately is our goal. The tenants are prepping for a meeting with two politicians on July 2nd – Sonia Chang Diaz and Michelle Wu are planning to come to Stonybrook to meet with the union. We’re also talking about ways in which we can continue to pressure management and to grow the union. For the latter point, the tenants want to host a more low key social event over the summer, like a potluck, where tenants who have been hesitant to get involved can come and talk to their neighbours and learn more about what’s going on. 

Ben S: What Evan said. Boston DSA can support them by being ready to show up when needed. Or by plugging in to our housing work. Like we’ve said, we always need more people and everyone is welcome.

 

 

A Timeline of Fascist Activity in Boston, 2017-Present

by Solidarity Against Hate – Boston

Last month, a group calling itself “Super Happy Fun America” announced that it was planning to host a “Straight Pride Parade” in Boston at the end of August. This idea was so extremely stupid that it went viral, becoming the butt of many jokes on social media. Most people hadn’t previously heard of “Super Happy Fun America,” mostly because they didn’t exist under that name until they announced this event. However, the individual organizers that make up this “group” are well known to antifascist Bostonians: Mark Sahady, Chris Bartley, and John Hugo are all involved with a white nationalist group called Resist Marxism, part of a network of right-wing street fascists that have been trying to make trouble in and around Boston for more than two years. While these groups officially form, disband, rebrand, and otherwise try to run away from their terrible reputations with a frequency that can be confusing, they’re basically the same far-right goons engaging in the same far-right goonery over and over again, with the faux-respectable “alt-lite” white nationalists giving cover to the more openly fascist ones.

Fascism is a pervasive and festering threat. We can tell ourselves that it ended with World War II, but it never really went away. It can metastasize anywhere, even in what we think of as safe bastions of liberal values like Boston. Fascist organizing in relatively liberal areas pretends to support American values such as free speech and comes cloaked in the stars and stripes. But make no mistake, groups such as Boston Free Speech, Resist Marxism, and Patriot Front are fascists, and no less dangerous because they hide behind an American flag.

In Boston, our antifascist community has worked diligently to prevent these fascists from building a platform and recruiting people to their cause. Regardless, these groups attempt to disguise themselves and hide who they really are. Here’s a brief timeline of what they’ve been up to over the past two years:

May 2017

At a fascist rally in Berkeley, CA, that leads to hours of street fights, fascists announce Boston as one of the next cities on their list. Soon after, a newly formed organization called Boston Free Speech, whose organizers include members of such groups as the Proud Boys and neo-Nazi-linked Anti-Communist Action (Anticom), declares a rally on Boston Common. Between 100 and 200 fascists (including California’s “Based Stickman” Kyle Chapman) attend, some donning sticks and body armor, and are met by a similar number of counterprotesters.

August 2017: The “Boston Free Speech Rally”

Boston Free Speech schedules a second Boston rally for the week after Unite the Right in Charlottesville, VA. After Heather Heyer is murdered and dozens of others are injured while counterprotesting Unite the Right, a counterprotest to the BFS rally, led by Fight Supremacy, brings 40,000 people out into the streets to oppose fascism.

November 2017: “Rally for the Republic”

Resist Marxism is founded by “Based Stickman” Kyle Chapman, with Mark Sahady as day-to-day local leader. It forms as a coalition of several fascist groups, including Boston Free Speech, Portland, Oregon-based Patriot Prayer (which recently attacked a May Day 2019 celebration at a Portland bar and seriously injured a woman), militia groups, and American Guard New Hampshire. It holds its first rally under that name on Boston Common, where it is counterprotested by Fight Supremacy, a coalition of progressive Jewish groups, and area socialist/anarchist/antifascist groups. With Resist Marxism becoming the leading fascist umbrella group in the area, Boston Free Speech turns toward developing a militant street crew, with some members wearing blue masks and clothing. This is eventually called the “blue bloc.”

December 2017: Mark Bray book event

Three Resist Marxism rally attendees — Straight Pride organizer Chris Bartley and wannabe “commie puncher” Matthias Thorpe representing Anticom, as well as Boston-area Patriot Front leader Chris Hood — attempt to disrupt professor Mark Bray’s reading from his book on antifascism at the Harvard Coop. They post on social media about how excited they are to go “commie bashing”; later that evening, after Thorpe sustains minor injuries, they post about how they were viciously and unprovokedly attacked by wild leftists while quietly minding their own business. Later that month, the Boston Free Speech blue bloc and Chris Hood protest the Coop for having hosted the book reading.

December 2017

Resist Marxism rallies and marches for deporations and against undocumented immigrants, using murder victim Kate Steinle as a pretext.

January 2018: Women’s March

Resist Marxism attempts to disrupt the 2018 Women’s March in Cambridge, and is surrounded and chased out by antifascist and community groups, and many other Women’s March attendees.

January 2018: Justice for Siham

Resist Marxism attempts to disrupt a rally in support of deported asylum-seeking North Shore mother and activist Siham Byah. The Resist Marxism group includes Straight Pride organizers Mark Sahady and Samson Racioppi, Proud Boy/Boston Free Speech organizer John Medlar, and Boston-area Patriot Front leader Chris Hood.

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Resist Marxism at Justice for Siham rally, January 2018

March 2018: M4OL

Resist Marxism rallies against the March for Our Lives on Boston Common, their largest locally oriented rally yet, attended by members of the Proud Boys, Patriot Front, Kyle Chapman’s Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, American Guard, militia groups, and other far-right groups. They are counterprotested in turn by antifascists, but are escorted to a prime viewing area on the hill by Boston police.

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Resist Marxism at March for Our Lives, March 2018

April 2018: Proud Boys Patriots’ Day rally

Proud Boys rally in Concord, MA, for Patriots Day, and are counterprotested by local high schoolers and other Concord community groups, as well as leftist and antifascist groups. The Boston Free Speech “blue bloc” and 2019 Fash Bash organizer/former Brooklyn Proud Boys president Jovi Val attempt to cross the field and confront the counterprotest, and are intercepted by antifascists.

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Proud Boys rally, April 2018

May 2018: May Day

Resist Marxism organizer/spokesman Michael Moura, other Resist Marxism affiliates, and members of the Boston Free Speech “blue bloc” disrupt the annual May Day rally on Boston Common, and follow it when it turns into a march.

June 2018: “June 2nd for the 2nd Amendment”

After a ThinkProgress article comes out detailing Resist Marxism’s ties to neo-Nazis and fascists with a history of violence, Resist Marxism’s 2nd Amendment rally is smaller than expected, and counterprotested by almost two hundred people.

June 2018

Resist Marxism spokesman Michael Moura and the Boston Free Speech blue bloc attempt to crash the pro-immigrant Families Belong Together rally. They are surrounded and kept away by, primarily, members of socialist organizations that are attending the Families Belong Together rally. Police prevent them from following when the rally turns into a march, but they later attempt to crash the march as it passes by Boston Common, and are again surrounded and kept out.

July 2018

Resist Marxism marches in Cambridge and Boston, and attempts to crash a Boston DSA general meeting shortly after sending a photo of themselves at the State House to Boston DSA. They are repelled by DSA members, and later harass a DSA member who is going to their car.

August 2018: Providence, RI 

Resist Marxism rallies for about twenty minutes at the Providence, RI state house, before being shut down by counterprotesters. Police forcibly escort a portion of Resist Marxism past the antifascist crowd, then escort them back after realizing that most of Resist Marxism is still on the other side, and eventually line up to protect the Resist Marxism event.

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Photo: Uprise RI

August 2018: Boston, MA

Boston Free Speech hosts a “National March Against Far-Left Violence” rally at City Hall Plaza. Initially intended as the flagship rally in a set of simultaneous rallies in several cities across the country, infighting and grifting within the movement in the weeks beforehand lead to about half the rallies being canceled. Boston is one of the six cities to have a rally, and a few dozen fascists — including several members of the New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island chapters of American Guard — assemble at City Hall, protected from a couple hundred counterprotesters by a line of bike cops.

October 2018: Providence, RI again

Resist Marxism rallies in Providence again, this time bringing Joey Gibson from Portland’s Patriot Prayer (a member of the original RM coalition) and Gibson’s then-bodyguard, Proud Boy brawler Tiny Toese. A large number of Proud Boy and American Guard “security” brawlers arrive at the rally with Toese, and attack counterprotesters, starting a large fight, with other Proud Boys and American Guard members joining in. Police declare the entire area an unlawful assembly, forcing everyone to leave the area.

One of the Proud Boys who attacked counterprotesters at that rally, Max Hare, is currently facing criminal charges of assault and rioting for having started the infamous mob attack outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City a few days later (another one, Billy Shepard, was photographed at the scene of the attack). Those Proud Boys are only facing any charges at all because antifascist activists went through tons of video shot at that event to identify masked Proud Boys. Proud Boys and Resist Marxism have attempted to organize events in Providence since this rally (see below), and the court cases have contributed to their fizzling out.

October 2018: Trans youth rally

In response to various anti-trans moves by the federal government and the attempts of conservatives in Massachusetts to roll back legal protections for trans people in Massachusetts, trans youth hold a mass rally for trans people and allies. A group of seven Resist Marxism affiliates attempt to crash and disrupt the rally. The rally security team, consisting of members of local leftist organizations, corrals them at the back of the rally, where they are eventually joined by others shouting Resist Marxism down.

November 18, 2018: Boston Anarchist Bookfair

The Boston Anarchist Bookfair is an event to distribute left-wing books and zines. Five masked members of Patriot Front attempt to crash the venue, but volunteers and attendees surround them and chase them off. They are led by Chris Hood, who has consistently attended both large and small Resist Marxism actions before the ThinkProgress article on Resist Marxism. Hood and Patriot Front will reappear at the Berklee immigration debate the following month (see below).

December 2018: Berklee immigration debate

A Berklee student libertarian club invites Boston DSA to participate in a debate on immigration at Berklee. The inviter has attended Resist Marxism rallies, so Boston DSA declines. A few days later the club announces a debate in which the anti-immigration side is represented by Resist Marxism and Boston Free Speech members, to be “moderated” by Straight Pride Parade organizer Samson Racioppi. The pro-immigration side is represented by a journalist, a Libertarian Party official, and members of Harvard’s libertarian club, who back out after learning the nature of their opposition, leaving RM/BFS to debate themselves (and to attempt to goad leftists into showing up to protest them, causing leftists to suspect a trap). Lacking a location on Berklee’s campus, they decide not to publicly state their venue. Attendees meet a Resist Marxism member at another location and are escorted to the debate. RM’s livestreams show that the location is the Bebop, a local bar on Boylston St, but in response to alerts from community members about the nature of the group, the bar asks them to leave. Patriot Front arrives shortly before RM is kicked out of the bar, and the two groups meet and mingle in friendly fashion on the sidewalk at length before leaving.

January 19, 2019: Boston Women’s March

A small group of Resist Marxism organizers, as well as Patriot Saints, attempt to disrupt the Boston Women’s March, attacking attendees who got in their way. Police eventually form a protection line around them near the stage, then escort them out through Beacon Hill when the rally ends and the march starts.

April 2019: Failed Providence rally

Resist Marxism plans a rally for Providence six months after the last one, once again with a group of mostly Proud Boys for “security.” The rally was canceled after concerns from Proud Boy leadership that it could damage Proud Boys being prosecuted in New York City for mob attacks in October 2018. The Proud Boys’ chat logs were later leaked to the Huffington Post. The leaked chats show the fascists planning to commit violence, discussing how to maintain plausible deniability, and fantasizing about which left activists they would most like to target.

April 2019: Free Assange rally

Boston Free Speech calls a rally at the UK consulate in Cambridge, MA, after the arrest of Julian Assange, which includes two members of the blue bloc. The rally is counterprotested and shouted down by a larger group of counterprotesters chanting, among other slogans, “Free Chelsea, fuck the fash!”

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Resist Marxism affiliates at March for Life, June 2019

June 2019: March for Life

Several Resist Marxism affiliates, including Straight Pride Parade organizers Mark Sahady, John Hugo, and Samson Racoppi, attend an annual anti-choice rally and march on Boston Common. They spend the rally attempting to goad pro-choice protesters, sticking their cameras in people’s faces, and schmoozing with anti-choice protesters.

While some of these events contain elements of humor —and while it’s always good practice to make fun of fascists, because they hate it — it would be a mistake to dismiss any of these groups or individuals as being too buffoonish to be dangerous. Resist Marxism/Super Happy Fun America isn’t the same organization as Patriot Front, but the Boston “alt-lite’s” history of working closely with overtly fascist groups, and the history of both types of groups deliberately escalating violence in New England and elsewhere, means that anyone who wants the full picture of who’s behind the Straight Pride Parade — and who’s likely to show up to it — should look at the network of hate groups operating in New England as a single (fractious, incompetent) “scene.”
Solidarity Against Hate – Boston is a coalition of local groups that works to counter fascist organizing in Boston. They are currently organizing Straight Pride Is Hate Pride, a counterprotest to the Straight Pride Parade. Please follow them on Facebook for updates on when and how to keep Boston fash-free.