Feb. 25: CLR James and hope for the struggle for social justice

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Music on the program featured John Brown’s Body: Pressure Points

The following is an edited version of the comments I made at the beginning of the program:

The uprisings in the Middle East and the worker occupation of the State capitol building in Wisconsin show that working people are willing to resist oppression. The global capitalist order is being further exposed as a force for the accumulation of wealth for the few, while the majority of people around the world see their standards of living shrink.

In our part of the world, the media has been put to good use by power elites to gloss over class contradictions. The middle class has replaced the working class and in so doing has been  labeled, or re-branded if you will, as consumers and/or taxpayers with little opportunity for free expression except in carefully prescribed ways as consumers of goods produced by someone else.

Today, we’ll talk with Abayomi Azikiwe about the life and work of CLR James: prolific writer, philosopher, and Marxist cultural critic. In summing up his life, Anna Grimshaw wrote that James’ “…vision of humanity … was animated by the simple but profound belief in the creative capacities of ordinary men and women, [and that] [t]hey were the force for civilization”. If I have it right, James, when he lived in the U.S., saw the struggle of Black Americans as being connected with the nationalistic anti-colonial struggles of Africa and the Caribbean; a struggle against the same colonial masters – an international struggle.

The past 30 years of neoliberal global capitalism has suppressed the struggle but never extinguished it. From our conversation today, I hope we’ll be able to see for ourselves that the rebellions taking place were inevitable and a logical outcome of the suppression of working people, regardless of location, ethnicity or religion, around the world at home.

James traveled the world and moved from bureaucratic socialism to a proponent of world citizenship. Author and historian Noel Ignatiev quotes James from his 1956 work Negroes and American Democracy: “ the defense of their full citizenship rights by Negroes is creating a new concept of citizenship and community. When, for months, 50,000 Negroes in Montgomery, Alabama do not ride buses and overnight organize their own system of transportation, welfare, and political discussion and decision that is the end of representative democracy. The community as the centre of full and free association and as the bulwark of the people against the bureaucratic state … the freedom of movement and of association as the expansion rather than the limitation of human personality, the American as a citizen not just of one country but of the world – all this is the New World into which the Negro struggle is giving everybody a glimpse.” (p. 8, A New Notion: Two Works by C.L.R. James) (my emphasis).

The predominantly white middle class has been insulated from the struggles that never ended for marginalized people. Insulated by consumerism, the media, and politicians global capitalism consists of opaque layers. It is a system of lies and denial – a system CLR James saw through and exposed.

For more information about CLR James please check these sources:

You Don’t Play With Revolution: The Montreal Lectures of C.L.R. James

Facing Reality

Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Papers of
C. L. R. James

Feb. 18: “How to forget the border completely”

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Music featured: Alex Cuba

We live in a border city in a de-industrializing region, alongside a famous American city in a time of great turmoil causing security concerns among the ruling elites. The river divides Windsor and Detroit; lines separate us on maps, border security agents treat us all as potential threats, and yet citizens across these barriers have similar concerns and often act as though the border doesn’t exist. Many work in one place and live in the other, some students use Wayne State and UWindsor as if they were one campus, and people shop and dine in each locality all the time.


Ambassador Bridge

Photo: Paul Chislett

Two projects are underway at UWindsor in conjunction with Broken City Lab: How to Forget the Border Completely, and the Border Bookmobile.

We talked to  Michelle Soulliere, a 4th year student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts Program in the studio, and by phone, Dr Lee Rodney who teaches in the Visual Arts program, both here at UWindsor.

February 11: Dr Colin Smith and Black History in Windsor

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Music Featured: Sister Carol: Black Cinderella: Jah is Mine; Down In The Ghetto

“I am on my way to Canada
That cold and distant land
The dire effect of slavery
I can no longer stand –
Farewell, old master
Don’t come after me
I am on my way to Canada
Where coloured men are free

Dr Colin Smith, Pastor of Sandwich First Baptist church on Peter St in Sandwich joined us in the studio. The current church dates from 1851 and to hear descriptions of its history as a way station on the Underground Railroad one can feel a presence in the quiet sanctuary of the church.

Dr. Smith and co-host Nusrat Rahman

Pastor Smith showed us the openings in the floor where those escaping slavery in the US hid from American bounty hunters. He showed us where, under the church, up to 300 people could wait to continue their difficult journey to freedom.

Pastor Smith was adamant that all ethnic groups  are part of a mosaic and that we all suffer if one is singled out for oppression. He described slavery as an atrocity that must never happen again and we were well aware that as we spoke the people of Egypt had forced a dictator out.

In the second half hour we talked to writer and artist Sherill Tucker and her reminisces of the church and the Sandwich community.


Feb 4: Perspective on Egypt uprising

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On Al Jazeera English , this morning, Feb 4: Joint Chief of Staff Mike Mullen said that the “US military is ready depending on “how contagious” the situation is in Egypt. If  the people rising up to directly confront a dictatorship and demand freedom is contagious then I say bring it on! I think, as Canadians, we need to take a closer look at what governments are supported by our own and other western leaders. The ongoing chant from leaders is for stability, the ongoing chant from people in Egypt and around the world is freedom: freedom to choose for themselves how to manage their economy and political system. Stability is just a fancy word for authoritarianism, militarism, and the continued repression of the will of people everywhere. In this country we got a taste of how governments will deal with any uprising for justice during the G20 rally. Not only were the rights of journalists and citizens violated during the rally, but in the aftermath activists were rounded up and jailed on trumped up charges. The fallout continues from that. The G20 rights violations in Toronto and the uprising in Egypt have exposed the interconnection of economic collapse, globalization, militarization, and authoritarianism around the world and how the elites will rally around each other to maintain a corrupt global economic system.

The suppression of the Palestinian people and US military assistance to Israel and Egypt are indicators of how corrupt the global system we live in is.  So the struggle is not just in Egypt it is here in Canada and the US. In the US, there have recently been FBI roundups of organizers working to end US military aid to Israel and to work in solidarity with Palestinians. Maureen Clare Murphy is Managing Editor of The Electronic Intifada and an organizer with the Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago. As well, she was “. . . one of 23 individuals who have been recently subpoenaed by the FBI and who face a federal grand jury because of [their] work to end US military aid to Israel, and because [they]organize in solidarity with the people of Palestine.” We’ll talk to her about the repression in her country and what that means for us in a time when working class global solidarity is critical.

Mohammed Hagag and Mohammed Nour were in the studio with personal reflections on what is happening in Egypt.

Photo: Nusrat Rahman

On Saturday a rally in support of the Egyptian protesters was held at City Hall in Windsor.  Here are a few photos:






Articles on the Egyptian uprising I found useful are by Juan Cole , Samir Amin , and Slavoj Žižek

Jan 28: Fighting Dystopia and Stop the Metering!

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Perhaps you have been following the mass protests in Egypt and I have to say it is breathtaking to see people in the streets demanding justice and change in their government (if a dictatorship could be called a government) after decades of powerlessness.

In our area yesterday (Jan 27)  there was also a large rally – 200 people I am told – members of CUPE Local 4580 who are GA’s and TA’s and their supporters. They were protesting the conditions of employment for GAs and TAs and took their message directly to President Wildeman in his office.

Their efforts are coming while CUPE locals head into bargaining for a new contract. Also, this weekend (Jan 29) there was a rally in Hamilton to support members of the USW Local 1005 who are locked out of the workplace in a labour dispute, in part over pensions. Two buses left from Windsor to attend the Hamilton rally. And  last year at this time we were out protesting PM Harper’s abuse of power when he prorogued Parliament over his fears of the fallout from allegations of Canadian complicity in the handing over of Afghan detainees to certain torture by Afghan security forces.

So, with all that is happening in mind, we talked with Lindsay Sheppard of OPIRG, live here in the studio about the Fighting Dystopia Conference, and in the second half of the show we’ll talk to Lindsay Pinto, of openmedia.ca, about Internet Metering.