The author's childhood home © Robert L. Reece | Courtesy of the author
EducationEssaysRaceRace/isms

How My Social Justice Failed My Family

I’ve never felt more helpless than when I heard my dad tell me that he was selling the house where I was raised. After using my student loans to help cover the overdue mortgage payments, we were still unable to stave off the inevitable. Facing the prospect of the bank foreclosing on the house, my father was forced to sell my childhood home. And despite my knowledge of the precarious position of middle and working class black people and the enduring nature of poverty, particularly in an area like the Mississippi Delta, I still feel like it’s at least partially my fault.

The sociologist in me says that divorce often plunges black families into poverty. My parents divorced in 2009. The sociologist in me says that the economic downturn disproportionately damaged black people. My dad lost his job soon after the divorce. …

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Child injured by Israeli bombs is rushed to emergency care, Gaza © 2012 Gigi Ibrahim | Flickr
Essays

The Strongest Terrorist Organization in the Middle East

Israel Defense Forces

The IDF deliberately chooses to attack the families of Hamas activists. This is a war crime. Shall every Hebrew mother know, that her son serves in a terrorist organization.[1]

“Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, this is the news broadcast. Az Adin Al-Kassam fighters took responsibility this morning for the bombing of the house of Captain Motti, an IDF platoon commander, in Hanarkisim Street in Tel Aviv. Captain Motti’s wife, Ariela, was killed in the bombing, along with Yair, his 2 years old son, Sigalit, his 1 year old daughter, Shlomit, Motti’s 64 years old mother, and Yaron, a 23 year old neighbor, who was just visiting the family. Three nearby apartments on Hanarkisim Street caught fire, and eight neighbors were hospitalized with varying degrees of injury. According to Hamas’ statement, they did know that Captain Motti was not at the time present in the house. …

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Athens Polytechnic © Aleksandr Zykov | Flickr
EducationEssays

The Plight of Greek Higher Education

Greek higher education has been, for the past four years, under a double attack, both by crippling austerity-induced budget cuts and by an attempt to accelerate the imposition of aggressively neoliberal reforms towards an entrepreneurial model of higher education.

To understand the importance of these processes, we must take into consideration the role of higher education in Greece as a contested terrain of social struggles. For a long time one of the basic forms of upward social mobility, access to a public higher education was considered at the same time a basic social right and something worth fighting for, both individually and collectively. …

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Symbol of the Anarcha-Feminist movement © Property is Robbery | RevLeft.com
EssaysSex & GenderThe Left

Anarchism and Feminism: Toward a Happy Marriage?

Some have argued that the marriage between Marxism and feminism ended up in an unhappy marriage: by reducing the problem of women’s oppression to the single factor of economic exploitation, Marxism risks dominating feminism precisely in the same way in which men in a patriarchal society dominate women (Sargent 1981). The oppression of the latter needs to take into account a multiplicity of factors, each with its own autonomy, without attempting to reduce them to one all-explaining source — be it the extraction of surplus value in the workplace or unpaid shadow work in the household. There seems to be something intrinsically multifaceted in the oppression of women — so much so that women’s and gender studies programs are all, inevitably, interdisciplinary ones. …

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House destroyed by IDF in Gaza, 2009 ©  Marius Arnesen | Flickr
Essays

Terrorist Rule of Law in Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem — apparently, in retaliation for the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank — was a public call to Israelis to “refrain from taking the law into their own hands.” This message, delivered by the Prime Minister both personally and through his spokesmen, is very revealing.

On a first look, it is nothing but a laconic statement — a sober appeal to the nation in a moment of escalating violence that’s alarming even by Israeli standards.

On a second look, it contains an embarrassing mistake. Kidnapping and murdering an innocent Palestinian teenager has nothing to do with “taking the law into one’s own hands.” …

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Juan Perón and José López Rega © Liepaja1941 | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysFascism: Old and NewLiberal Democracy in Question

When Neo-Fascism Was Power in Argentina

An anniversary few want to remember

After forty years, though more historical research is needed on the presidency of Isabel Perón (1974-1976), what we know today leads us to consider that her Peronist government was one of the most violent in the violent history of Argentina. To be sure, political violence was quite extensive prior to the death of her husband, President General Juan Perón. Violence was unleashed before and after 1974 …

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© Nick Leiber | @nickleiber
CapitalismEssays

The Politics of the Sharing Economy

“As best we can tell, the politics of the venture capital elite boils down to fending off higher taxes, keeping labor costs low and reducing the ‘burden’ of government regulation. … Silicon Valley could start by putting a stop to pretending that the sharing economy is about anything other than making a killing.” – Andrew Leonard

If you’ve heard about companies like Airbnb, Zipcar, Skype, UberGetaround, and Lyft, and you know a bit about crypto-currencies, you get the picture. The “sharing economy” is just as exhilarating and vexing as the Web 2.0 meme was nine years ago.

I am all there with Arun Sundararajan, professor at Stern School of Business at NYU, who describes walking down the street in New York City, musing on all the parked cars that remain unused …

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Gay pride flag in the San Francisco Gay Pride parade, 2007 © Charlie Nguyen | Flickr
EssaysSex & Gender

Chelsea Manning Performing Gender

From the Today Show to the Pride Parade

San Francisco’s Pride Parade will take place on 29 June and will bring together activists for LGBT rights under the rallying cry of “Color our world with pride.” As usual, various officially recognized groups will take part in the march. But this year, among the multicolored sections of the parade, curious onlookers will be able to make out some people carrying a banner bearing an image. Among those marching, some will be there to defend and represent the colors, the figure and the appearance of someone who will be notable by her absence: Chelsea Manning, who will not be able to walk with them.

Locked up in the military correctional facility of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Manning will have served the first months of a 35-year sentence by the time the San Francisco Pride comes around. Why was she imprisoned? …

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London School of Economics © copelaes | Flickr
CapitalismEducationEssays

Austerity and Higher Education

The case of the United Kingdom

University reform in the UK can be understood in light of the following dilemma: the system must expand if it is to meet the demand for skill in the labour market, but the more it expands the less it fulfills its other major function of reproducing social division.

This is crucial because the transformation of higher education being implemented under the rubric of austerity indicates that austerity is not in the first instance about cutting spending. The evidence of past austerity projects demonstrates that cuts are a means rather than the primary objective, which is social engineering. In the case of higher education, a coalition government has cut state funding for universities while raising fees, on the pretext of debt consolidation. However, the major effects will be firstly to reorganise the system along market lines, re-pivoting the relationship between the student and the institution as a consumer-enterprise one …

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Book cover of Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks by Bryant Simon © University of California Press | Amazon.com
CapitalismEssays

Starbucks Goes to College

I wrote a book about Starbucks a few years ago, so my email started to buzz with Google alerts when the company announced that it would help to provide free education for its employees. The New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Business Week, among others, jumped on the story. A day or so after the announcement, Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, winning mad praise from the host for having “venti balls” to make such a bold move.

As Starbucks officials explained it, the deal offered to reimburse employees for a portion, not all, of their tuition, but only for online classes hosted by Arizona State University’s Web server. Starbucks publicists talked about the company’s “unique” and forward-looking mission to build a people-based corporation that valued individuals and communities as much as profit. …

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