Saturday, May 01, 2021

Together, not seperate: The problem with identity politics


When some of the US New Left evoke Karl Marx as their new economic, philosophical, and quasi-spiritual guide whose writings will lead them out of the twin bogs of racism and sexism, what exactly are they talking about? I admit I don’t understand their interpretations of Karl Marx’s theories. While it’s true Marx did talk about race (in his writings about the US Civil War) but I do not interpret his writings to mean that he believed that race theory superseded class theory as his main theory on how to bring about a revolution that would benefit all humankind. And he was unfortunately a little too quiet about gender. But that's because he believed that the almost unimaginable job of revolution belonged to, and rested upon, the working classes as a whole.

A long time ago (1950’s) when I was a single mother with three kids to support I got my first taste of organized labour. My children and I lived with my parents but they weren’t rich and neither was I. But we managed. I worked full time as a waitress in a somewhat upscale restaurant in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Even though wages were extremely low the tips were good in the tourist season. Off season, the tips ranged from bad to pitiful. But I didn’t have childcare worries. Aside from giving my kids loving grandmotherly care, my mother was a great cook. She descended from a long line of deep south women who cooked soul food style with a dash of Cajun. Our household worked together. I also belonged to the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union. When a strike was called I had been working in the same restaurant for over four years.

The strike was city wide. Barry Goldwater was the Republican Senator at the time and he ultimately crushed our union by evoking the Taft-Hartley Act (1947) that allowed non-union workers to be hired into union shops. Later I learned that this bill (called the right to work bill) meant the death of many unions. So, I along with most of the workers in the city’s restaurants, went out on the picket line. For months it was a touch and go situation with almost every restaurant in Phoenix involved. Our union solidarity was off the charts. We held rallies, endless meetings, and no one shirked their turns at picket duty. Many workers brought their families and friends to the picket lines to cheer us on, feed us, and give us support. But looking back on that strike I understand that it wasn’t just a strike for living wages. It was a coming together of people for a common cause...and it was a beautiful multi-racial happening of women and men. We were whites and blacks and browns and came forward to speak freely. The public was supportive, too, with many contributing to help with keeping us on the picket line. Phoenix was a vigorous resort and tourist town in those days, and these people did not like crossing a picket line. And we won.

But I knew nothing of Karl Marx in that experience. I don’t remember even hearing his name mentioned. I found Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels later, much later. I understood when they told me that the strike I remembered was a microcosm of what resistance to the moneyed elite might be like if it were attended by masses of workers. And even though I may have since adopted some middle class ideas and customs, I’ve always known which class I came from. I come from the working class and I agree with Marx’s insistence that it is the working classes together that will move humanity forward.

I worry that identity politics is in danger of overshadowing class consciousness in much of the New Left. Identity and class are entwined, but I see at times where specific issues of identity, including race and gender, are getting separated and talked about as if these are understandable separately from the underlying bedrock of class. Just as discussions of class needs to include gender, discussions of gender must always also discuss class. Similarly, understanding racism requires understanding classicism, which includes but surpasses issues of identity, even racial identity. Otherwise we’re only talking about half of these issue, and this is a dead end.

Those kinds of separatist conversations will never generate a massive movement that could accomplish what Marx and Engels envisioned, or what radicals Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed was possible. We are – or need to be – in this together, fighting against those with the economic power to determine how are able to live our lives, build our communities, and even how we see ourselves. There is a massive global change coming with a flood of fiat money being proposed and championed by the capitalist elite of European bankers. And if we have any hope of controlling our destiny, we have to face it together.

 

 

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Plastics, penises, and reproduction: Three strikes and we're out!


 

I have two minds about the subject matter I’ve been exploring lately.  With yet another shut down on the island and nations squabbling over the vaccines who am I to try to add another dimension of misery to the mix.  But I feel compelled to do so because, well...nobody else is doing it. 

 

In my last two posts I talked about how chemicals produced by the manufacture of plastics was showing up in human baby’s placenta and how these same substances were causing the birth of male babies with unusually small and deformed penises. I called these emerging developments to be the first and second strikes by Mother Nature and Her attempts to call attention to the danger human reproduction is actually in. She is striving mightily to remind us that when any species faces such serious reproduction problems the end is neigh. Moth Nature’s third strike is the rapidly increasing drop in male sperm count.

 

The decrease in the human male sperm count is not exactly new.  It was first brought to my attention by a book entitled “Our Stolen Future” (1996), which is about the scientific discovery of endocrine disruption, and which I’ve written about previously. In my opinion, this book is still the best information out there on how chemicals used in manufacturing and agriculture are changing the reproduction systems of humans. The authors start off the book telling us about scientists who began noticing for the first time new peculiar mating patterns among wild life in the 1970s and 80s. They found curious changes in the behaviour of the bald eagles of Florida, while across the pond the Brits were wondering why the otters were vanishing from the rivers and streams in England. Researchers in southern California found that large numbers of female seagulls were nesting with other females rather than the usual male-female parings. But it was researchers at the University of Florida who began trapping alligators in waterways after a chemical spill that showed 60 per cent of the alligators had abnormally small penises, even after the waterways were cleaned up. 

 

What does this all have to do with human reproduction? After all, human males aren’t birds, or otters, or alligators. No, but does point to what the more recent researches are now finding in human babies as reported in my last post entitled “Three Strikes and We’re out!”  In that post I report on the work of Dr. Shanna Swan who has found that sperm counts among men were falling drastically in the western world (and what I called Mother Nature’s ‘third strike’). Dr. Shawn shows us that sperm counts among men living in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand fell 59% from 1973 to 2011. And she leaves us with this warning...”At the current rate , half of the men in those countries would have no sperm by 2045 while many would have very low counts.”

 

2045? That’s roughly 25 years from now. Dr. Swan is telling us that in 25 years half of the men of the western world will be sterile and the other half with sperm that is just barely limply along. Men where the hell are you on this? Your ability to create life is being stolen away without a murmur of protest from anyone, much less men.  What about protesting, if not for yourself, for your infant sons, and grandsons, nephews, and indeed for the entire world. While the western world is not the whole world, it is a warning about what faces all of us humans on the planet. Like it or not, the human race is going nowhere without sperm.

 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Three Strikes We're Out!: On pollution and penises


 What do I mean by three strikes and we’re out?  Does anybody besides me remember the California Three Strikes Law mandate back in 1994?  The state of California passed a crime bill proclaiming that any person convicted of a third crime would be automatically imprisoned. How did this work out?  Well, suffice to say, we don’t hear very much about it anymore.  This ruling took away the power of the judges to impose their own decisions, and too many of the judges protested the loss of their sentencing powers. But there is another Supreme Court judge who has ruled on a different three strike law matter that will not be abridged.  Her rulings stay true forever despite human attempts at interference. Her name is Mother Nature.

 

In my last post I wrote about the new findings by Italian scientists of microplastic in human placenta. What we still don’t know is the full extent of how the chemicals in the plastic partials will shape our brains, muscles, or nerves. I consider this finding as Mother Nature’s strike number one. However, I don’t expect this discovery and understanding of the consequences to immediately stop the production and distribution of products which are fuelled by corporate greed. The corporations involved will simply continue producing and selling the products.  At best most politicians will remain silent, and at worst remain complicit through lobbying and special interest funding. The mainstream media has long been neutered by Silicon Valley with the promises of biotechnology and a new future on Mars.  And the majority of us will sigh and continue to consume, because what else can we do?

 

This leads us to strike number Two. Mother Nature is expressing her deepening displeasure with her second strike. This concerns human penises.  Dr. Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and with 40 years of research experience, has just written a new book titled Count Down. In this book Swan maps how human penises are shrinking and becoming malformed due to environmental pollution – in particular phthalates, a chemical used when manufacturing plastics. It was Swan’s research on rats that turned her attention to phthalates.  She discovered that when rat fetuses were exposed to this chemical they were likely to be born with shrunken genitals. And guess what?  She discovered that male human babies who had been exposed to phthalates in the womb are also being born with a shorter anogenital distance, something that connected with penile volume.  In other words, their penises were abnormally small and malformed.

 

This has very serious implications for the human race. For Dr. Swan, this change is so critically important she calls it a “threat to human survival”. The 1% may believe they can isolate themselves from the ills that affect the working class, but in this instance they are in for a nasty surprise. We just cannot allow the human race to become so seriously depressed, so spiritually degraded, to agree to being held together only by the other-worldly hysteria of the stock markets and the empty promises of ‘next gen’ technology.  

 

I had planned to also discuss Mother Nature’s strike three that she has prepared for us, but that deserves its own post. So instead I am going to close by connecting this to working class mothers, and their role in cleaning up this mess. I believe in the working classes. I believe in working class mothers in particular.  Thinking about my own working class background and the women who held it all together makes me feel strong. Our entire Western society has been built on their backs. Yet working class mothers are the most overburdened and least likely to agitate for reform. However, their rage may be what is needed to give voice to Mother Nature’s rage. Working class mothers’ collective rage is the leadership we need to cease this unforgivable onslaught on Her most delicate works of many millions of years. Because this is not a game – strike three and we’re out. Next time.