Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
From May 1 to May 9, 2016, prisoners at multiple facilities across Alabama engaged in work stoppages, refusing to labor for the Alabama Department of Corrections. This strike was the second major work stoppage in prisons this spring. In April, prisoners in Texas refused to work for most of the month. The striking Alabama prisoners, along with revolutionary prisoners in other states, have also called for a nationally coordinated work stoppage and protest September 9 of this year, the 45th anniversary of the Attica rebellion.
Winnie Wong calls herself a practical anarchist. She speaks in short intense bursts, an activist warrior slashing her way through the thicket of establishment politics toward a future that somehow has to be won. Charles Lenchner identifies as a "full-spectrum socialist" who will adopt the best strategy in a given moment to build the power of the working class. A former director of communications for the Working Families Party, his preferred voice is one of bemused irony that masks an underlying seriousness of purpose.
Over seventy prominent scholars and activists, including Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, have signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to visit with Hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors, and to announce concrete steps toward nuclear disarmament when he visits Hiroshima this Friday after the Group of Seven economic summit in Japan. American University Professor Peter Kuznick remarked, "This is an extraordinary moment."
One of the most penetrating insights of depth psychology is that when we repress very disturbing information or experiences in our lives, when we live in a state of chronic denial, we tend to "act out" our repressed feelings over these disturbances in dysfunctional ways, projecting our "shadow" out into the world in often dramatic ways. The greater the disturbance we are repressing, the more dramatic the projection. What we are witnessing in the world at this particular time in human civilization is perhaps the most disturbing development we have ever faced.
In a small church in the Albany, New York's low-income, predominantly African-American South End, forty people were gathered for a community meeting. They were organizing a protest against trains carrying potentially explosive oil -- dubbed by the residents "bomb trains" -- that were running through their neighborhood. City Counselor Vivian Kornegay told the group that many municipalities had opposed the bomb trains and other dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure, but had little power to protect their residents; it was up to a "people's movement" to do so.
Bernie Sanders' April 15, 2016, address to the Vatican, titled "The Urgency of a Moral Economy" arrives at a curious point for the left in the Anglo-American sphere. With Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the UK's Labour Party and theastonishing success of Sanders' own run for the Democratic Party nomination, there is something clearly afoot. Many have drawn connections from these events to the rise of continental European parties tied to left-wing socialmovements, such as Greece's Syriza and Spain's Podemos, which is a fair thing to do.
A group of 40 well-known personalities in France, including writers, politicians and chief executive officers of corporations listed on the country's stock exchange, the CAC 40, have called for a cap on the amounts CEOs can receive, limiting their salaries to 100 times the French minimum wage. The call was launched with the publication of an open letter in French newspaper Libération, hitting its front page on Thursday, May 19, 2016.
Joplin, Missouri, a small city in the Southwest corner of the state, is probably best known for the devastating tornado that ripped through it on May 22, 2011. The storm killed 161 people and caused more than $2 billion in damages. Less well known is the widespread and growing poverty that is damaging the community -- especially its students and schools -- in quieter but no less harmful ways. But Joplin has begun to rebound, and the rest of the country should take note.
In 2013 I spoke with the CEO of Americans for the Arts, Robert Lynch, who said that art provides a guiding light "in a time in history where that is desperately needed." This is not just speculation and hyperbole. Lynch also said in the article that "today we are seeing the arts being usedto help solve other problems: the arts and community development, the arts and law enforcement for crime prevention, the arts and healing." And that he wants "to see more opportunity for kids and adults to have access to the arts to be used in community advancement."
In countless ways over the last 35 years, our society has become less economically equal and more dominated by corporate power. Less just and more jailed. Vast urban and rural areas decline as government subsidizes economic elites. Funds for education and social services are under constant threat, while funding for war and surveillance seems limitless. These trends have persisted no matter which major party dominated Washington, DC.