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“Noam Chomsky: the Left’s Debbie Downer?” by Steven Strauss (socialism.com)

Steven Strauss

Like so many people appalled by the cruelty of capitalism, I have sought some measure of explanation from the voluminous writings of Noam Chomsky. But despite a gripping anti-authoritarian message, and mountains of facts, Chomsky’s fundamental vision is gloomy, pessimistic — and dangerous. A recent essay reveals this in no uncertain terms.

In “Owl of Minerva’s View: ISIS and Our Times” attruth-out.org, Chomsky writes: “It is not pleasant to contemplate the thoughts that must be passing through the mind of the Owl of Minerva as the dusk falls and she undertakes the task of interpreting the era of human civilization, which may now be approaching its inglorious end.”

For Chomsky, the apocalyptic end is situated right where civilization began, in the Fertile Crescent. “What is happening in this region provides painful lessons on the depths to which the species can descend.” He chronicles this descent: Clinton’s sanctions against Iraq. George W.’s war and its stirring up of sectarian divisions. Then ISIS, sectarianism gone berserk, mainly as a result of U.S. actions.

Having created a monster, the U.S. now has a “justifiable concern” about ISIS, according to Chomsky. One can only imagine what fresh horrors Washington might consider justifiable in response to this concern.

Turning next to the crisis of climate change, Chomsky brings together the decline of both the social and the physical world. Sadly, he closes not with a call to rise up and replace imperialist power with the power of the oppressed, but with the politically irresponsible and depressing cadence of a funeral dirge: “Sad species. Poor Owl.”

Such pessimism can only derive from misguided analysis, because history demonstrates that people fight for freedom no matter how long it takes, and against all odds.

Chomsky’s body of ideas combines defeatism, an anti-leadership “libertarian socialism,” and an almost blanket rejection of the usefulness of social theory. He doesn’t believe there are historical laws regarding social forces that move humanity backward or forward. But these laws do exist, and understanding them is necessary in order for people to change their conditions.

And, abhorring the abuse of power that characterizes capitalism and Stalinism, Chomsky opposes leadership and power generally, even in the movements of the oppressed. Instead, movements are supposed to fight without leaders — with their hands tied behind their backs, in other words.

By excluding both social theory and leadership, Chomsky’s vision amounts to mere wishful thinking, with the baseless dream that leaderless do-gooders can change the world. But wishful thinking can only be sustained with more wishful thinking. This is exhausting, and it seems in Chomsky’s case to have led ultimately to resignation, even nihilism, broadcast in a message of defeat.

In discussing the supposed descent of the human species, Chomsky is actually revealing the descent of his flawed anarchist analysis of social change.

As opposed to Chomsky’s doomsday message, Marxism explains how humanity can ascend to end oppression. A science of social forces and how society ascends, Marxism is simultaneously realistic and optimistic about humanity’s future.

Marxism explains why the working class is the only social force that can end capitalist rule. But to be this positive force it must be organized, and to be organized it must have leadership. Marxism, as an evolving philosophy carried on by socialist thinkers and doers like V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky, explains how a revolutionary, working-class political party expresses the leadership of that class, and the role of workers’ democracy as a safeguard against authoritarianism.

The Freedom Socialist Party also carries on this living tradition. Founder Clara Fraser launched the first socialist feminist party, with an analysis of and emphasis on the special leadership role of the world’s most oppressed.

Chomsky is blinded by the evils he correctly sees in the power held by oppressive rulers. He mistakenly insists that it is power itself which is evil, rather than the class society which enables a minority to oppress the majority.

Working-class power is a fundamentally different animal. It is the power of the 99 percent. The historic mission of the working class is to fight for the entire species, to prevent capitalists from dragging us all down. To win, we need organization and leadership. We need the revolutionary party.

Dr. Strauss is a neurologist and author. Send feedback to fspbaltimore@hotmail.com.

“Homelessness advocates rally after video of Berkeley assault surfaces” by G. Haley Massara (dailycal.org)

Berkeley homeless

March 27, 2015

Homeless rights advocates gathered Friday to protest the treatment of Berkeley’s homeless population after the release of a video clip that appears to show a Berkeley ambassador assaulting a homeless man.

In a video posted to YouTube on Sunday, an ambassador — one of several workers employed by the Downtown Berkeley Association, or DBA, to clean up and patrol the Downtown area — appears to strike a homeless man and shove another after a verbal dispute. The ambassador has since been fired, and the second ambassador involved in the incident has been suspended pending an investigation.

In protest of this incident, the demonstration occurred along Shattuck Avenue on Friday afternoon, and participants wrote slogans in chalk on sidewalks. A group of as many as 15 chanting protesters then marched to Berkeley’s Public Safety Building.

The event’s spokesperson, David Teague — often referred to as Ninja Kitty — said that while the two homeless men in the video clip were being verbally aggressive, they acted within their legal rights. He said the Downtown homeless population has had similar confrontations with ambassadors before, albeit not ones caught on film.

“It doesn’t stem (from) this individual ambassador,” he said at the demonstration. “When it comes to an ambassador’s word against (a) homeless (person’s), the ambassador’s word is gold.”

But John Caner, CEO of the DBA, said the assault — which he called “shocking” — was the product of a single problematic individual. He said the DBA will also be expanding the training program for its ambassadors in response to the incident.

“We understand the community is upset, and they should be,” Caner said. “We’re taking steps to do whatever we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Sarah Menefee — founding member of First They Came for the Homeless, a Berkeley homeless advocacy group — agreed with Teague, calling the filmed incident a “last straw.” She added that homeless people are being targeted in both “the streets and the legislature,” in reference to a plan by City Council to regulate streetside behavior.

George Lippman, vice chair of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, said the ambassador program needs greater accountability. He said that in the video, the ambassadors were “clearly trying to enforce something,” but that what — and on what authority — is less certain. He added that the commission will likely discuss the incident at its next meeting.

“Before business as usual is allowed to continue, we need clarity about (the ambassadors’) role beyond cleaning streets and giving directions,” he said.

The two homeless men involved in the altercation with the ambassadors were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, threats, brandishing and probation violation, according to Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Jennifer Coats. According to a press release by the demonstration’s organizers, the men were released Monday on a plea bargain.

The DBA and Block by Block, the contractor through which the ambassadors are employed, have both apologized for the incident.

G. Haley Massara is a news editor. Contact them at gmassara@dailycal.org and follow them on Twitter @BylineGraph.

First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless's photo.

A couple of days ago, a community ambassador beat up a homeless man. Today we respond. A small group of activists and homeless talked to reporters and chalked some messages in front of the ambassadors office.

The war on the poor is happening now in Berkeley. The Downtown Business Association represents the money. The people who don’t have any don’t count. Get the homeless away from the businesses. Make it so they can’t be on the sidewalk. This is the plan. Unfortunately for them, we know it’s our sidewalk too. And we aren’t giving up our rights because of a few greedy people.

Today’s action brought out a LOT of reporters. Our group is occupying the post office and we don’t get the news unless it printed. If you find links to what happened today, please post in the comment section. Thank you.

–Mike Zint

Action Council – 5 New Announcements

Occupy SF

~ ACTION COUNCIL ~

Websites:

OccupySF Action Council: http://occupyactionsf.org

OccupySF: http://occupysf.org

5 – ANNOUNCEMENTS 

Friday, March 27

M 27, Friday, 4:00pm, Chalking on Shattuck –  Response to Battery of Homeless Person in Berkeley by an Ambassador 

Meet at Shattuck & Allston Way
Berkeley

Chalking on Shattuck Ave.  in direct response to the battery of a homeless man by a community ambassador. The ambassador program is a step by business districts towards privatization of the police.

Video: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2015/03/26/video-downtown-berkeley-worker-assaults-homeless-man/

What happened here is not okay. We must make a stand and say no, this is not acceptable behavior.

The ambassador office is located under the Shattuck Theatre, by Starbucks.   around the corner from the post office.

Sponsor “First They Came For The Homeless…”

Info: https://www.facebook.com/pages/First-they-came-for-the-homeless/253882908111999?fref=nf

Saturday, March 28

M 28, Saturday, 1:00pm,Solving the Affordable Housing Crisis: A Town Hall Meeting (Location change) 

New Location:

Brava Theater
2781 – 24th St (@ York St.)
SF

Rents in San Francisco and in the neighborhood are going through the roof. Speculators are evicting long-time residents so they can raise rents, flip homes and sell off apartments for a quick buck. Increasingly, working families can’t afford to live here, and developers are building only for the 1 percent.

The housing market isn’t working! Join us as we discuss how we can fight to save our homes and make sure housing is for human need, not corporate greed.

info, contact hostSF ACCE at 415-335-7033 or email sfacce@calorganize.org

Endorsers include Calle 24 and Senior & Disability Action (list in formation)

FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/837193156327586/

Sunday, March 29

M 29, Sunday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, Justice 4 Jabari, Anniyah, & Mary

East Side Arts Alliance
2277 International Blvd
Oakland

According to the East Bay Express and eyewitness testimony, U.S. Marshals were surveilling a home in East Oakland when community organizer Jabari Shaw exited the building with his four-year-old daughter. Shaw and his daughter entered the car, driven by close friend Mary Vaillancourt. Federal officers, dressed in plainclothes, approached the car with weapons drawn but failed to identify themselves clearly as law enforcement. Unsure of their identity and fearing for her life, Vaillancourt accelerated away from the scene, prompting several unmarked cars to pursue them. When officers identified themselves as law enforcement by flashing their lights, Vaillancourt attempted to stop at a red light, but the car was rammed from behind by pursuing officers, propelling the vehicle through the intersection and into the back of a Paratransit van.

On Sunday, March 29th from 1-4 pm a fundraiser is being held to help with costs associated with incident.

Host: Tur-Ha Ak and Cat Brooks

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/753057438143445/

Monday, March 30

M 30, Monday, 3pm-5pm & M 31, Tuesday , 6am-8am– OCCUPY BEALE AFB- Monthly NO DRONES Vigil & Peace Encampment

Mar. 30, Monday, 3pm-5pm,  Vigil, Main Gate, end of N. Beale Rd.

Mon. Night Potluck & Encampment, Main Gate, N. Beale Rd

Mar. 31Tuesday, 6-8am, Vigil, Wheatland Gate, S. Beale Rd. and Ostrom Rd.

Important:  After Wheatland Gate vigil we will carpool to Main Gate for Press Conf:

PRESS CONFERENCE, 8:30 am, Main Gate

Kick-Off for Anti-Drone TV Ad to be aired next week in Marysville/Beale AFB Region. This ad was aired on prime time TV in Las Vegas area:

Watch powerful AD here:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRuXKpxZWys&feature=youtu.be 

Info: https://www.facebook.com/OccupyBealeAirForceBase?fref=ts

Tuesday, March 31

M 31, Tuesday, 3:00pm – 6:00pm, March for Schools Oakland Students Deserve

San Antonio Park
Oakland, CA

Join Oakland teachers, students and families to March for the Schools Oakland Students Deserve.

3:00 Family-friendly activities at San Antonio Park (face painting, music, sign making)
4:00 Rally
4:30 March to OUSD headquarters (1000 Broadway)

We march for:
— A better contract for students and teachers – Class size matters! Invest in teachers to stay in Oakland!
— Keep Public Schools Public – No school closures and charter conversions!
— Smaller Caseloads for Special Education – Special Education students deserve high quality education & individualized attention!
— Money for school sites not upper admin! Send funding to school sites–more teachers, aides, counselors, staff, and supplies.
— Counselors not Cops!!! – With just the money OUSD is spending on school police, the district could place a full-time restorative justice counselor in every school

Host: Schools Oakland Students Deserve

Info / RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/859143810811886/

“Downtown Berkeley worker assaults homeless man” by Lance Knobel (via berkeleyside.com)

A Downtown Berkeley Associationambassador assaulted a homeless man Friday evening behind CVS in what appears to be a violent incident that was captured on video. That homeless man and an associate were arrested by the Berkeley Police Department before the video came to light. After reviewing the video this week, BPD has asked the District Attorney’s office to take another look at the case.

The ambassador involved, whose name has not been released, will be fired Thursday, said Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner. A second ambassador, who did not intervene to stop the apparent assault, will be suspended. The video, which appears below, contains graphic language and violence that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Lance Gorée, operations manager for the DBA, and the manager of the ambassador program for contractor Block by Block, said he received a report of the physical contact last week, but the severity of the incident was not made clear until he and Caner saw the video Thursday morning.

“I was called within the hour of it happening,” Gorée said. “I always get called right away. They didn’t fully represent what happened.”

“It’s clearly totally unacceptable,” said Caner. “We apologize to (the victim) and to the community. This is clearly so out of the realm of acceptable behavior and totally contrary to all of the training provided to ambassadors.”

The incident, according to the video, escalated from a verbal disagreement to a series of punches by the ambassador. It took place around 7 p.m. Friday, March 20, in the alleyway behind the CVS on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Bancroft Way. Bryan Hamilton posted the video on YouTube on Sunday.

According to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, the two homeless men — ages 23 and 29 — were arrested Friday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats. When police saw the video Wednesday, Coats said, they informed investigators and notified the District Attorney’s office.

(Neither man remains in custody, according to the Alameda County sheriff’s department.)

Berkeleyside has asked the Alameda County District Attorney’s office for an update.

According to Gorée, ambassadors are taught to “disengage whenever possible and to de-escalate whenever possible.” He said the organization has detailed protocols for dealing with, and reporting, violent incidents.

There have been four other incidents this year that involved physical contact, Gorée said, but none of that contact was initiated by ambassadors.

Gorée and Caner both said there are clear instructions for ambassadors to call police if incidents get out of their control.

The downtown ambassador program, funded by the Downtown Business Improvement District, was started in April 2012, and there are currently 13 ambassadors working downtown.

Some homeless advocates have criticized the program as providing a private enforcement unit responsive to business concerns rather than to the broader community.

Update, 2:25 p.m. In a statement released by the Downtown Berkeley Association on Thursday afternoon, Caner said the involved staff members submitted a report about Friday’s incident that “did not represent the extent and severity of the altercation, describing the event as an act of self-defense by the ambassador. Block by Block and the DBA were not made aware of the true nature of the altercation until viewing the YouTube video this morning.”

He said the association is cooperating with the police investigation.

Block by Block president Blair McBride issued the following statement Thursday afternoon. It appears below in full.

This past week an incident occurred between two of our Block-By-Block Ambassadors and a known member of the Berkeley street population. The uncalled-for response by these Ambassadors has angered and appalled us deeply, and we apologize to this person, to the Berkeley community and to its leaders for the actions of these two individuals.

What happened is intolerable. The attacker has been terminated and his partner has been suspended pending an internal investigation. We are also cooperating with law enforcement officials as they continue their own investigation.

We have built our company on the caliber and professionalism of our Ambassadors.  We carefully screen any Ambassador candidate to ensure that the best possible individuals—in terms of background, skills and character—are hired to serve our clients.  We then train them extensively to respond and to react to a variety of situations and with a cross-section of the business district’s population.   Their fundamental charge is to engage all our residents with the highest level of respect and dignity.

Block-By-Block has been the service partner of the Downtown Berkeley Association since 2012.  While we are disappointed in the actions of these two people, we and our Berkeley Ambassador team remain committed to serving the Downtown Berkeley Association—and everyone in this community—with the professionalism and respect they deserve.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated as new information was gathered, including information from the Berkeley Police Department.

March 26, 2015

We will be chalking and raising hell on shattuck tomorrow, Friday the 27, in direct response to the battery of a homeless man by a community ambassador. The ambassador program is a step by business districts towards privatization of the police.

What happened here is not okay. We must make a stand and say no, this is not acceptable behavior.

The ambassador office is located under the shattuck theatre, by starbucks. Its right around the corner from the post office. Please spread the word.

–Mike Zint

Action Council Events — March 26 to April 4

Mayor Ed Lee will be hosting the 83rd U.S. Conference of Mayors June 19 – June 22, in San Francisco. 

Action Council is focusing on creating events around their meeting.

This is an opportunity to raise issues locally and nationally that are of concern to us, THE PEOPLE, that the mayors have resisted and refused to act upon – or acted against the interest of The People. For instance: “Black Lives Matter”, police militarization and excessive use of force, gentrification of our communities, homelessness, racism, immigration, privatization of our commons, homophobia, trans-phobia, environment, the People’s taxes being spent on wars enriching the 1% and not serving the people and more.

All are welcome to help plan for action(s) as equal participants. OccupySF Action Council is merely acting as a central hub for organizational purposes.

Official website to the US Conference of Mayorshttp://usmayors.org/  note all the committees

If you are not able to attend meetings, please feel free to send someone(s) who represents your organization / interest.

Info contact: bob71947@aol.com

Occupy SF

~ ACTION COUNCIL ~

Next Meeting

Sunday, March 29, 2015

2:00pm – 4:00pm

UNITE / HERE (Local 2)

215 Golden Gate Ave

(Nr. Civic Center BART)

San Francisco

Websites:

OccupySF Action Council: http://occupyactionsf.org

OccupySF: http://occupysf.org 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Thursday, March 26

M 26, Thursday 3:15pm , CCSF –  END the STWEP (Special Trustee with Extraordinary Power) – Rally & March & Board of Trustees Meeting

CCSF – Ocean Campus
Steps of Science Building
Phelan Ave.
SF

3:15pm Rally (Steps of Science Building)

3:40pm March – to MUB Building, Rm. 140 – for Board of Trustees Meeting

  1. Reverse All Cuts

-         Reverse Class Cancellations and Layoffs

-         Reverse cancelation of Performing Arts Center

-         Reverse the 50% budget cuts to the Student Resource Centers – that help students stay in school

  1. Rebuild Democracy at City College and END the One-Man Dictatorship of Special Trustee with Extraordinary Power
  1. Closed Civic Center Campus must be immediately re-opened in an alternative building in the same neighborhood

No sell-off of CCSF land for gentrification. Join the fight for an open access, comprehensive COMMUNITY College!

Info: Save CCSF Coalition

www.facebook.com/saveccsf
info@saveccsf.org
www.saveccsf.org

M 26, Thursday, 6:00pm,  Plaza 16 Community Meeting at Marshall Elementary School

Marshall Elementary School
1575 – 15th Street @ Capp St.
SF

Next community meeting will be held at Marshall Elementary, the school adjacent to the proposed Maximus monster. The Maximus project would cast a shadow over the School for most of the year and the 18 months of construction would be terribly disruptive to the students’ learning environment.

Parents at the school need our support in resisting the project and they need our help convincing the School Board that it mustn’t help facilitate the project by making a deal with Maximus.

At the March meeting we will continue the community-driven process for developing a community-serving vision for 16th and Mission and will we discuss our next community actions, etc.

Host: Plaza 16 Coalition

Info / RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/930446096989715/

M 26, Thursday, 6:30pm, Community Forum on FAST TRACK and the TPP (Santa Cruz)

Louden Nelson Center
301 Center St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Info: Citizens Trade Campaign

510-593-2225 (office)

M 26, Thursday, 7:00pm, Candlelight Vigilin SF 4 ALICE ANGEL BROWN, killed by SFPD

Corner of Pine & Van Ness Sts.
SF

There will be a Candlelight vigil in San Francisco, for Alice Angel Brown, 24,
who was killed by SFPD

Hosted by La Mesha Irizarry

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1389037024749518/

Friday, March 27

M 27, Friday, 6:00pm, Black Brown Unity Showcase

Metwest Highschool
314 E. 10th Street
Oakland

Join us for an evening of spoken word, youth produced Black and Brown Unity art, elders, young-stars and great food!!!

As we mourn and organize around the unjust killings of Alex Nieto and Alan Blueford here in the Bay Area, so many more of our Black and Brown relatives across the nation echo our cries for justice for all who have lost their lives to the violence of the Police, Border Patrol and the state. At 67 Sueños we have dedicated a year’s worth of Art, Poetry and action to the power of Black Brown Unity as a response. Our poems, art and love must overcome their guns, tasers and hate!

We invite our community of Black and Brown beautiful people and our staunch allies to come celebrate Black and Brown Unity, honor some of our elders, celebrate and nurture our next generation of leaders and raise the funds for 67 Sueños next summer mural project in Oakland.

We need you to nurture and water the seeds that will grow to transform this hateful violent society into a place of love where Black and Brown lives don’t only matter, they are deemed precious!

P.S. We will have some of the most amazing Auction and Raffle items available to help you help us. So bring your checkbook, bring a friend and bring the LOVE cuz this is our 5th generation of 67 Sueños young-stars coming of age before your very eyes on stage!

Donations will be taken at the door but absolutely no one turned away for lack of funds.

If you wish to donate an item for our silent auction please email us at67suenos@gmail.org

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/849013461824885/

M 27, Friday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Next Nightwalk led by Danzantes Xitlali

The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist
1661 – 15th Street
SF

About Mission Nightwalks: Whether it’s 14-year-old Rashawn Williams stabbed to death in our neighborhood, or City College student Alex Nieto killed by San Francisco Police, too many of our neighbors have been needlessly killed or injured, and others sent to prison. Too many parents have shed too many tears.

So twice each month, faith communities in San Francisco’s Mission District walk the streets of our neighborhood where violence has occurred.
Along the way, we stop to listen to the stories of our neighbors, sometimes talk with family and friends of those killed, and often pray for both the victims and the perpetrators of the violence.

In our Nightwalks, we hope to bring not only comfort, but also a challenge — to ourselves, our neighbors, and our City — to uproot the causes of that violence, whether it is done by individuals, gangs, or law enforcement.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/706274192818105/

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