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Raise Your Voice: Contradictions within the popular front

Raise Your Voice: Contradictions within the popular front

By PETER MOLENAAR Peter Molenaar Readers will recall that, owing to internal contradictions, everything exists in motion, both coming and going; changing under the influence of external factors. Our “popular front” form of resistance is no exception to the rule. Yes, indeed: “the lesser of two evils sometimes rises to the level of a necessity.” But, given the opposing camps within the Democratic Party, we must reckon with certain consequences of our actions. Positively speaking, though, we of the fifth district should feel very proud for having elected Ilhan Omar to the U.S. Congress. Already, Ilhan has achieved a degree of planetary fame, for having slapped the face of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (and all Trump supporters) who are hell-bent to destroy our country by dividing us. And now, from within the Progressive Caucus, Ilhan has joined hands with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in support of a Green New Deal. Should we all join hands to preserve our planet for future generations? However, as a member of the Minneapolis Regional Retirees Council under AFL-CIO direction, my own electoral activity was focused on supporting Dean Phillips in the 3rd district. From the standpoint of the Popular Front, my energy was well invested (Erik Paulsen, the Republican, had supported the $trillion-plus tax break for the billionaire bunch). But, Mother Earth has her own perspective on the man I helped to elect. Actually, Dean Phillips is a straight-up bourgeois type who finds Trump to be an embarrassment to his social class ”“ okay, well and good. However, he has joined the “business friendly” caucus of the Democratic Party and he stands opposed to a Green New Deal. Why? Because he opposes mandates! Meaning: He will support a degree of market tinkering to entice private capital investment, but he will oppose a massive federal investment in public renewable energy utilities. Hey, Xcel Energy only recently converted to [...]

Raise Your Voice – Melting pot of time

Raise Your Voice – Melting pot of time

By PETER MOLENAAR For almost two decades, “Raise Your Voice” has paid tribute to the melting pot of peoples which has formed the Phillips Community. Presently, the members of the Franklin Avenue tent encampment would appreciate your prayers. We are witness to an oppressed population which has bonded together in order to cling to life. A note: In honor of Eugene V. Debs, leader of the original Socialist Party of this land, my grandparents invoked Eugene as my father”'s middle name. Ancestral ties”¦. (more…)

State Fair Angst

By Peter Molenaar “Angst” is a German word which has achieved vernacular status in the contemporary English.  It means:  anxiety with a little depression thrown in.  For our purposes, the word connotes an omnipresent but less than full-blown anxiety, which normally remains repressed by the requirements of daily living. To the discerning eye, an under-current of angst was revealed among the gathered “masses” at this year”'s State Fair.  We are the masses.  Unfortunately, our angst has become a playground for dishonest politicians. So, the annual reaffirmation of Minnesotan identity has passed.  The cow barn displayed again the Jersey Cow with beautiful eyes and baby face.  The sheep were proudly groomed, snow-white and alert.  Even the hogs were giddy. (more…)

Pull Together

By Peter Molenaar Given the unprecedented economic, political and military power of the U.S. ruling class, it may seem like a pipedream to believe that we “ordinary” folks can advance socially even by small increments. But when the foundations of this colossal power are examined, definite weaknesses are revealed. First, the system of corporate-capitalism is malfunctioning big time. Witness: the Wall Street meltdown, massive unemployment, stagnant wages, fruitless wars, and the developing life-threatening environmental crisis. Second, only 1% of the population now owns over half of all stocks and bonds and the richest 5% holds 60% of all our country”'s wealth. In reality, there are a few thousand families with hundreds of billions in assets who control the main financial, manufacturing, extraction, media, communications, transport, aerospace and real estate corporations. Clearly, the wealth behind the power is concentrated in the hands of an extremely tiny group. (more…)

The Great Extinction

by Peter Molenaar July 17, 2010, a storm is brewing”¦ In the past 540 million years there have been five major events during which over 50% of animal species died. The most recent occurred 65 million years ago with the extinction of nearly all dinosaurs. What an incredible bonanza this was for the tiny ancestral shrew-like mamaliform whose gene pool was to explode and then radiate in every direction. As for the birds, they descend from that line of dinosaurs which included T. Rex. Surprisingly, the more archaic of present day birds have existed unchanged in form for merely one million years. The cormorants residing at Powderhorn Lake appear more ancient than that. From their island perch, our cormorants display horizontally spread wings bent vertically at the joint to declare: here I am. Their oil-drenched cousin, that iconic pelican, posed similarly before the camera. Moreover, elements of the old hadrosaur culture have been revived by our Powderhorn geese. Some stand watch via graceful movements of head and neck, while others feed upon fresh grass or submit to tranquility. Why would a howling 20-something all-night raver ride his dirt bike directly through their midst? And so”¦ Shrew ascended the trees and assumed a myriad of forms. Later, the trees parted and shrew came down to walk upright. This new form would become the creature referred to as Astralopithecus. As it happened, one of these ancestors became frustrated while attempting to crack an elephant bone with a stone. Curiously, when smashed, this particular stone produced several splinters . When examined, these splinters cut the finger and drew blood. Note: the value of a commodity is determined by the socially necessary labor time embodied in it. As for homo sapien sapiens, the big U.S.A. banks paid out $145 billion in total 2009 executive compensation and spent millions lobbying against meaningful financial reform. A former Secretary of Labor put it this way: [...]

Thoughts From Smith Foundry

Thoughts From Smith Foundry

by Peter Molenaar Folks driving 28th Street en route to Hiawatha Avenue and perhaps to Lake Street shopping are asked to glance right just east of Cedar Avenue. The rather unattractive dirty brown building seen there is home to Smith Foundry. Molten iron is sand cast within. This writer has survived 31 years of employment with Smith. Actually, I am part of the aging remnant workforce which is credited with having saved the company. Such was the result of labor heroism coupled to the sad fact of our acquiescence to a one year take-away contract. For this we recently were rewarded with an all-you-can-eat in-plant pizza feed at which the office manager declared in her address: “You are the best.” Yes, I stuffed myself. But now a better contract has come due. At present, more than half the laid-off guys have been rehired. This appears to bode well for business and employment in general inasmuch as foundries are bedrock to the “real” economy. Or, we might forecast a “blip” within the sea of uncertainty. In any case, foundry workers deserve a raise now. Looking back, it is not the case that we were meek and cowardly a year ago. Our union business agent had been allowed a peek at the books. The bankruptcy was real. However, not disclosed was the degree to which the owners previously had bled the company to sustain the “high-life”. As always, we workers were made to pay for it when times got bad. Time will tell”¦ Thinking about “owners”, a few weeks back I ran into Gary Smith, son of Clark Smith the original. Were it not for the class divide, Gary and I might actually have been friends. For starters, we are the same age. He informed me that he had suffered a stroke. So, we ponder the after-life. It is said that very few rich people will see God in heaven. Yet every foundry worker, through arduous labor and sacrifice, has earned the right of passage. An infinity beyond all contradictions [...]

“Thoughts From Powderhorn Lake”

by Peter Molenaar At every mid-month, contributors to The Alley are pressed into duty (or are otherwise moved by a profound love). Consequently, this writer missed ice-out day at Powderhorn””so be it. Now, at mid-April, a nice start towards a summer tan has been achieved thanks to the early spring warm-up. Folks who descend each year to feed ducks and geese are greeted as well by the raucous demands of visiting gulls””intelligent birds who speak directly. Having satisfied them, a small group formed next to me upon the concrete ledge which holds the shore line. I was awe-struck. Gulls are utterly handsome and exquisitely evolved birds. Sensing my new-found admiration, in unison they turned to display the V formed by their black trim tail feathers. I had been invited to join the flock. Question: Does an early spring coupled with a cold winter mean that the global warming disbelievers club can have its cake and eat it too? It was supposed to have been a warm El Nino winter. Right? What happened to the associated upper air current which normally then restricts the Arctic air mass to the north of us? Contrary to expectations, we endured the usual infusions of cold air which press south across mid-continent all the way to Texas. Hey, it felt like global cooling to me. Actually, no one wants to believe in global warming. However, the El Nino effect, associated with the upwelling of warm Pacific water at the equator, has been over-ruled by a new phenomenon induced by global warming (sorry). Specifically, the body of North Pacific water found west of Alaska has begun to heat up. The resulting updraft of warm air will now constrict the annual accumulation of winter Arctic air such that it must spread out to the south across land. Hence, El Nino will be over-powered. The kicker is this: Given the fact of global warming, our Arctic air when pressed to southern latitudes will heat more rapidly thus hastening the arrival of spring””not all [...]

Against Finger Pointing

by Peter Molenaar Scientific reminder: The totality of existence (i.e. ”˜matter”') is in motion”¦this is true because all phenomena are a manifestation of a self-contradictory unity of opposing forces (i.e. matter is ”˜dialectical”'). So then, to understand something one must begin by uncovering the main contradiction within it. Secondly, one must ascertain the dominant aspect of this contradiction (i.e. the relationship of forces must be examined). Thirdly, one must examine the relative development of the opposing aspects as might be correlated with environmental influences (i.e. external factors are the conditions of change, internal contradictions are the basis of change). Fourthly, one must determine (or judge) the “tipping-point” (i.e. quantitative change) beyond which the dominated aspect becomes the dominant (i.e. qualitative change). To continue”¦ No phenomenon can be fully understood apart from its historic development, potential future development, and interconnection with the totality. Those who proceed otherwise are said to be “metaphysical”. Unfortunately for the human condition, the formal logic derived from a narrow and one-sided approach results in an ”˜idealistic”' departure from rationality. So then, with regard to President Obama”'s “failings”, whose interests are being served by the trendy groundswell of smug indignation which flows now from the ”˜left”'? Readers might recall my recent column “Irony of Ironies” which asserted: “We elected Obama to save capitalism (to save capitalism from the capitalists!) until such time as a viable socialist vanguard emerges in conjunction with the requisite mass movement”. Which is to say: not every moment of every day constitutes a ”˜revolutionary situation”'. Or, as Lenin himself indicated: contradictions within the ruling class acquire an elevated significance [...]

Guacamole Dip

by Peter Molenaar With considerable frequency, the convenient Lake Street Latin food offerings prevail as the most satisfying answer as to what to eat next. A fat burrito with a side of guacamole does the trick. Invariably, it is observed, a corn chip with a lush dollop of the guacamole enters the mouth first. Savored with eyes closed, it is said to be a short cut to heaven. The naïve person will google guacamole for the recipe only to find hundreds of variations. The ripe avocado shall be extended with some ratio of mayonnaise, and or sour cream, cream cheese, or even yoghurt. For flavor bits, one might add diced tomatoes, chile peppers, onions, garlic, pimentos, black olives, grated cheese, or even a hard boiled egg. Lemon or lime juice? Cilantro, coriander, cumin, salt, sugar, red or black pepper? Okay. But what? During Superbowl 44, most of us were racing to the bottom of our guacamole dip while transcending “the grudge” to become Who-Dat-Nation fans. This we did even as another race to the bottom went unnoticed. I am referring to the ongoing worldwide race to the bottom on wages and working conditions. Two days before the Super Bowl, a global workers”' rights advocate and watchdog group issued a report about the sweatshop in El Salvador where the $80 Peyton Manning jerseys were sewn. The workforce there, about 80 percent women, are paid the equivalent of 10 cents an hour. They are in essence forced to work over 60 hours a week with no overtime pay. A workers”' spokesperson stated: “When we were making these jerseys we didn”'t even have time to go to the bathroom, nor to drink water. Sometimes we didn”'t even leave for our breaks so as not to fall behind in the work. The factory is very hot. By afternoon we are dead tired.” Such is the logic of capitalism, especially the de-regulated “free trade” variety favored by the dominant wing of “our” capitalists. Meanwhile, the [...]

Moment of Silence

By Peter Molenaar Even as these words are written, another beneath the rubble has given up the ghost. The remaining resistance is fading”¦ Flashback to 1803. Given a plague of wars, Napoleon Bonaparte”'s France is a financial wreck. Concurrently, measures to maintain order in the lucrative sugar colony of Haiti are in jeopardy. Hence, the sale of some 828,000 square miles of “French territory” appears to be prudent (our own neighborhood is but a small parcel of this Louisiana Purchase). Every Haitian child knows the story. Note: Following the logic of ancestral events, it appears that many of us owe our existence to the Haitian slave revolt! Now see January 12, 2010. Nearly 12,000 registered nurses have volunteered for Haiti disaster relief””some 300 from Minnesota. They stand ready as the largest contingent of RN volunteers in U.S. history. National Nurses United is working around the clock to find deployment locations. “Medical facilities are completely overwhelmed”¦we are doing everything in our power to get these nurses engaged”, so states the NNU. Time will tell. These nurses deserve a massive outpouring of respect from the whole of Organized Labor. They are the advanced guard of the moment. But the pitiful truth is, as of this writing, the logistics of deployment remain unresolved. Now, flash back to 1804. The people of Haiti have the audacity to break their slave chains and to declare independence. Meanwhile, Lewis and Clark commence the expedition which paves the way for the westward expansion of the United States of America. Yet beneath the imperial eye of the “master race””¦ But again the French came knocking””this time to extort compensation for the “loss of property” i.e. payment for lost slaves (lives stolen from Africa) and payment for lost land (land stolen from the Arawak). Question: How does a debt burden of $150 million Francs calculate over the [...]

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