Politics and Social Movements

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Doubts about Public Provision of Philadelphia Wireless Access

The city of Philadelphia is trying to become the first major US city with public-provided wireless access.

Here are a few possible shortcomings

  • It isn't free. Most people forget this. In fact it will probably cost about as much as wired internet, except for low-income people who will hopefully get a price break (of 50%).
  • Nobody has done a similar project so it is likely to cost several times more than expected.
  • If we wait a couple years, the project cost will dramatically decrease each year, we'll be able to better estimate how much it would cost, and get more bandwidth.
  • The city is trying to appeal to businesses - to be hip for conventions and appeal to the middle class techies. It doesn't really care about providing computer skills and access to low income people.
  • Electionmania

    May 5 - UK votes. Labour is ahead by around 5-8% and expected to win a majority. Aparently Labour benefits from the distribution of its votes and could pull off a majority even if the Conservatives got the same number of votes. I'm upset with the rightwing moves that Labour has been making (at least since Neil Kinnock in the Eighties) which have now become obvious to the world as Blair was Bush's favorite imperialist ally.

    I wonder if Blair is any worse than prior Labour leaders in this move to the right? It seems like social-democrats/labour parties have been moving to the right... perhaps almost since the 1880s (when the German social democrats first started moving away from Marxism). I guess there have been shifts back to the left in 1917-1919 (due to the Russian Revolution), the Thirties, 1943-1946 (after communist Russia defeated Hitler, and before the Cold War was up and running), and 1968-1971.

    A Collaborative Organizing Guide

    People who want to change the world need advice on the most effective way to do this.

    Generally books that try to give you most of what you need to do activism are called "Organizing Guides" or "Activism Handbooks".

    In my mind, the two leading organizing guides are that by the War Resister's League and Midwest Academy's one. SEAC also has a good guide.

    However, none of these guides come close to providing the level of detail that would reflect the variety of experiences of thousands of social movement activists. I think the solution is to develop a new online collaboratively written set of resources that would be sorted and edited to provide a level of quality worthy of a good Organizing Guide.

    Defense Spending in Your County

    Defense Contracts in St. Joseph Valley county, from 1983-2003.
    (In $1000s)
    Note: I attended Notre Dame, in St. Joseph Valley county, Indiana. It's a small county, but apparently very industrial and militarized.

    1983 $ 685,057
    1984 $ 769,751
    1985 $ 850,550
    1986 $ 699,475
    1987 $ 640,365
    1988 $ 281,183
    1989 $ 305,130
    1990 $ 381,573
    1991 $ 440,858
    1992 $ 475,263
    1993 $ 430,820
    1994 $ 313,661
    1995 $ 163,539
    1996 $ 356,432
    1997 $ 333,954
    1998 $ 282,088
    1999 $ 289,241
    2000 $ 301,217
    2001 $ 175,629
    2002 $ 384,345
    2003 $ 619,560

    Buy My Book

    I wrote a chapter for a book that is finally going to be released within the next month: Student Freedom Revisited.

    My chapter is a brief comparison of current and recent student activism with that of the Sixties. The book is a follow-up to one that was originally published in the Sixties ("Student Freedom").

    I haven't read the rest of the book, so I don't know if it is good or not. I think I wrote the most politically/progressive/activist-minded chapter, though hopefully other chapters will

    Activists should Focus on Stopping Military Recruitment

    Recently United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) held a national assembly in St. Louis. They put too much emphasis on mass mobiziliation (another large demonstration), trying to lobby Congress to stop funding for the Iraq occupation (which doesn't have a chance), and educating the public.

    Instead we should be focussing on stopping people from joining the military. I'm guessing there are hundreds or more of recruitment centers around the US. There are something like 1000 JROTC programs (high school) and several hundred ROTC ones (in colleges/universities). In addition, the military recruits even when there isn't a program.

    Upcoming Political Upheavel in Mexico?

    Apparently the PRD (left) in Mexico has a canidate with an excellent shot at winning the 2006 presidential election. So the other two political parties, and the US, are working to disbar him from running. People are mobilizing in his support.

    Mexico: US inspired Coup d'Etat

    Why It's Ok to Torture, Kill and Eat Animals

    I'm not a hard core animal rights activist (probably less than 5% of my time is spent on that issue), but I am interested in how the oppression of animals is so easily seperated from other forms of oppression.

    Most progressive activists believe in a common anti-oppression doctrine that says that oppression by either race, gender, class or sexual orientation is very bad. Until recently class was viewed to be the most significant factor and most activists ignored race, gender and sexual orientation up until the Sixties/Seventies.

    From my participation in activism, I think there is generally little to be gained by arguments about whether oppression by race, gender, class or sexual orientation is generally worse. You can say things like the racial divide in the student movement is worse than the other factors. Or you could argue that students at Notre Dame face the greatest discrimination based on sexual orientation (as they aren't meant to even form clubs). However, for the most part, it is safer to argue that these forms of oppression are just very different in how they operate, and yet also very similar.

    Sit-In! A Tactical Analysis

    I recently wrote up a short version of what I learned while writing my master's thesis. It is useful for student activists who have a campaign - because you should consider doing a sit-in.

    Sit-In! A Tactical Analysis

    The Midwest Academy Organizing Model - Several Criticisms

    Several important criticisms of the Midwest Academy's model which is commonly used in the student movement (ex. Grassroots Organizing Weekend - GROW trainings)

    The Midwest Academy Organizing Model - Several Criticisms

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