Category Archives: Writings

There is a Way Out of Here! Trump, Clinton, Stein and Beyond November 8, 2016

My Talk at the Post-Debate, pre 2016 Presidential Election Forum at Evergreen State College

by Peter Bohmer, October 20, 2016

I have watched the three presidential debates this year. Trump’s contempt for women, his anti-choice, anti-Mexican  and anti-Muslim immigrant stance, his stereotyping of Black and Latinos, his proposed tax cuts for the wealthy and the corporations was disgusting. His toxic machismo and not so coded racism and white nationalism were on full display.  Clinton, although not as bad never mentioned poor people, and called for and bragged about continued U.S. militarism. To Trump’s racist claims about electoral rigging and fraud in Black communities, his mentioning  of Philadelphia, St. Louis and Chicago;  Hillary Clinton  could have but didn’t respond with the past and present actual racist voter suppression, especially by Republicans  but also many  Democrats in limiting voting by people with felonies, requiring multiple ID’s, making registration and voting difficult, especially in low income communities. Also these three debates were limited by no questions about one of the central issues of the day, climate change, and the excluding of the Green Party Presidential candidate, Jill Stein and the Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson. … (see link above)

History of Student Movements and Activism at The Evergreen State College

History of Student Movements and Activism at The Evergreen State College

by Peter Bohmer, faculty in Political Economy, The Evergreen State College

September 29, 2016

Slightly revised version of my article in the Fall, 2016 Disorientation Manual

INTRODUCTION!

Students have played a major role as have student movements in struggles for reform and revolution in the United States and globally. Let me give a few examples, mainly from the 1960’s in the United States before I turn to Evergreen. I will also share a few conclusions based on many years of activism with student movements. …

Hillary is not as bad as Trump but it is still OK not to support her!

by Peter Bohmer, August 7, 2016

note: This is a letter I sent to long-term friends, Michael Albert and Steven Shalom on July 31st, 2016. They printed their revised question and answer commentary on August 4, 2016, https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/thinking-about-the-election/    We still have some disagreements,  although less  in their  final version of August 4, 2016 than in their earlier draft, the one my letter below refers to.  Their published version of August 4th is  an important contribution to an important discussion.

Dear Michael and Steve,                                                                                                                           July 31, 2016

I read your proposed Question and Answer analysis of the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election pamphlet and while I think the tone is more respectful of those on the left who feel they can’t vote for Clinton than earlier writing by Michael Albert, I still have problems with it.

1) I think maybe because you want to highlight Clinton’s differences with Trump, which are real and  significant, you are less critical of her than I am, e.g.,  her strong support for fracking, the Trans Pacific Partner, the TPP (in the past) without now  saying she was wrong, her close connections to AIPAC and her  intense anti BDS position, her connections to  Goldman-Sachs and Wall Street, her positions along with Obama on Latin America, e.g.,  Honduras and Venezuela, her public support for the 1996 “Welfare Deform Act” and the 1994, 1996 crime bills, etc.  You should not demonize Clinton   but  show a little more outrage at her  and most of the Democratic Party’s imperialism and militarism.

2) Note how Bernie Sanders, Michael Eric Dyson, etc., in coming out in support of  Clinton and Kaine also feel compelled to praise them.   While not a logical necessity, there is pressure both from the pro Clinton people and in order to  justify one’s position and to make one’s support meaningful to downplay criticism and even faintly praise Clinton.

 

3) I think we are in  a period of danger (Trump, growth of  white supremacy connected to Trump’s candidacy, climate change, etc.) but also a period of renewed interest in activism and political engagement, socialism, Black Lives Matter, etc.  This period of potential growth of activism and social movement growth may be very short-lived. Your strategy of asking people to vote strategically contributes unintentionally to demobilizing people who are beginning to become very engaged. For example, although I have been quite critical of the Green Party in the past for their lack of grassroots organizing and their whiteness, I think there is a real possibility now of a significant  growth in membership, in building chapters, and in votes for Jill Stein. Saying the Greens should wait until after November is likely to miss the moment. For example in Olympia some younger activists just formed a second Green Party organization as an alternative to the existing one which has good people in it, but has not been all that active  or grown.

 

4)  There is a difference which you ignore between asking individuals to vote for the lesser of two evils in swing states and asking that organizations, social movements follow this rule. It makes a lot more sense for an individual to do that. However, I question this strategy far more for a radical organization like Black Lives Matter or the Green Party as it is likely to be seen as a compromise with a pro-corporate and neoliberal militarist, Hillary Clinton and the mainstream of the Democratic Party, and furthers the skepticism people have for political engagement and for a new and radical politics.

 

5) I originally wrote Michael Albert many months ago that my  position and many people I know is that we should simultaneously strongly and totally oppose Trump while building organizations, social movements that deal with the key issues of the day–a two pronged strategy. With regards to Clinton and the November  presidential  elections, we should not focus on Hillary Clinton and her campaign  but of course say, she and the Democrats are not as bad as Trump and the Republicans, and leave it up to people whether they vote for her or not. I also expressed this in a commentary I put on Znet about a month ago which I am including here. It stresses being respectful to those, especially people new to activism and younger people, who are into rejecting Clinton and the Democrats. You may want to skip the following  if you already read it.

“July 14, 2016

What I find missing from my friend, Michael Albert’s commentary in the Left Unity section of Znet, https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/we-need-a-united-left/ is an acknowledgement and a validation of the moral outrage felt by many people, mainly but not only young people, that they are being told to choose between  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Michael Albert is  right that Hillary Clinton will do less harm than a Trump presidency but the harm of her militaristic, imperialist  and neoliberal administration will  be major to people inside the United States, and probably even worse for  those living in other countries.

So I think people who say they cannot in good conscience vote for Hillary Clinton, even in contested states such as Florida, Ohio, etc. should not be criticized nor pressured to change their mind.  I know many, many people in this category and when I ask them what they are likely to do in November, besides talking about their anger at the mainstream media promotion of Clinton and the marginalization of Bernie, and the daily and massive  coverage of Trump;  almost all of them also tell me  they will either not  vote or vote for Jill Stein and the Greens.  I do not criticize this decision although if they ask me what I believe, I say that voting for Hillary Clinton in states where it is not clear who will win, also makes some sense and is defensible.

Reducing voting to a strategic decision leaves out the moral dilemma felt by so many newly politicized and radicalized people, who are a natural base for the growth of an anti-capitalist transformational politics.  My point is not so much that I totally disagree with the analysis that Michael Albert and others put forward; I disagree with the way they are presenting it.. This is important because it makes building social movements and anti-capitalist organizations that include both those who are making a tactical decision to vote for Hillary Clinton in some states and those who absolutely refuse to vote for her, more difficult, now and after the November, 2016 elections.”

In solidarity, Peter Bohmer

 

 

 

 

 

Voting in 2016 is both a strategic and a moral decision!

July 14, 2016

What I find missing from my friend, Michael Albert’s commentary in the Left Unity section of Znet, https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/we-need-a-united-left/ is an acknowledgement and a validation of the moral outrage felt by many people, mainly but not only young people, that they are being told to choose between  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Michael Albert is  right that Hillary Clinton will do less harm than a Trump presidency but the harm of her militaristic, imperialist  and neoliberal administration will  be major to people inside the United States, and probably even worse for  those living in other countries.

So I think people who say they cannot in good conscience vote for Hillary Clinton, even in contested states such as Florida, Ohio, etc. should not be criticized nor pressured to change their mind.  I know many, many people in this category and when I ask them what they are likely to do in November, besides talking about their anger at the mainstream media promotion of Clinton and the marginalization of Bernie, and the daily and massive  coverage of Trump;  almost all of them also tell me  they will either not  vote or vote for Jill Stein and the Greens.  I do not criticize this decision although if they ask me what I believe, I say that voting for Hillary Clinton in states where it is not clear who will win, also makes some sense and is defensible.

Reducing voting to a strategic decision leaves out the moral dilemma felt by so many newly politicized and radicalized people, who are a natural base for the growth of an anti-capitalist transformational politics.  My point is not so much that I totally disagree with the analysis that Michael Albert and others put forward; I disagree with the way they are presenting it.. This is important because it makes building social movements and anti-capitalist organizations that include both those who are making a tactical decision to vote for Hillary Clinton in some states and those who absolutely refuse to vote for her, more difficult, now and after the November, 2016 elections.

 

Let’s Learn From the Past and Welcome Syrian Refugees!

Talk at Forum at The Evergreen State College: After Paris: Responding to Islamophobia and the Refugee Crisis

by Peter Bohmer, December 2, 2015

Let Us Learn from Our Past and Welcome Syrians to the United States!

First, a little first about my parents and grandparents! My family is from central Europe; my parents were born and grew up in Vienna, Austria as assimilated Jews. In March 1938, the Austrian government welcomed the invasion of Nazi Germany although there was some popular resistance. Germany immediately annexed Austria. My dad who was 22 years old was arrested and imprisoned in late March 1938 for being active in the Jewish community. He was also beaten by the guards but was released in August 1938. My father and mother immediately fled Austria for France which let in many Jews in although they also limited entry; e.g., from Poland which had the largest Jewish population in Europe…

Read more:
Let’s Learn From the Past and Welcome Syrian Refugees (.docx)

Interview of Peter Bohmer by Kourosh Ziabari

Interview on Solidarity, Occupy and U.S.-Iran Relations.

What follows are my answers to a written interview from  Kourosh Ziabari, a writer and reporter for the Fars News Agency,  an Iranian foreign policy news and analysis website. I submitted the following answers to Kourosh Ziabari’s six questions on August 4, 2015 and slightly revised them on September 18, 2015.

 

Question 1- For many years, you’ve been a political activist protesting racial discrimination across the United States, as well as other forms of social injustice. You’ve also organized solidarity movements with the people of crisis-hit countries like Vietnam, Puerto Rico and Cuba. How does the US government perceive your activism and how does it react to you? Are such egalitarian and liberal movements ever taken seriously by the White House? Do they leave any impact on the major decisions of the US government and its institutions?

My answer.
My own active opposition for many years to the U.S. war in Vietnam is probably what I am proudest of in my life. The millions of people in the United States outside the military but also inside the military deserve credit for actively opposing their government’s waging of a murder, immoral and illegal war. Of course, the people who deserve the most credit are the Vietnamese people who opposed the U.S. occupation and war. … (see link above)

A Critique of the July 10, 2015 Austerity Proposal from Greece by Syriza; There is an Alternative!

Update: Monday, 11:00 A.M., July 13th, 2015. The European Zone governments, the Eurogroup, led by Germany demanded even more concessions and humiliation from Greece such as controlling Greek privatization and the funds generated from it and monitoring and controlling the Greek government’s budget as a price for Greece staying in the Eurozone. It explicitly states there will be no forgiveness of Greek government debt. The Greek Prime Minister, Tsipras, accepted these new conditions which is further blackmail by Germany and Eurogroup. The new plan is even worse than the deal that the Syriza leaders forced through parliament on Friday, July 10th. This even more restrictive austerity plan will now go back to the Greek parliament but Greece has little choice but to “accept” this imperialist deal if it rules out leaving the Eurozone.

What follows is my commentary of July 11th, 2015 after Syriza proposed a restrictive austerity plan with the hope that the Troika would accept it. The Troika led by the German finance minister, Schauble, has now demanded an even greater violation of Greek sovereignty.

Criticism of July 10, 2015 Greek proposal for a bail out!

by Peter Bohmer, July 11, 2015

Building Power from Below and Taking Power

Drawing on recent economic and social change in Latin America, some ideas on strategy for radical transformation of society. “I argue in this paper that prefigurative politics are an essential part of economic and social transformation. However, on their own, they cannot gain sufficient importance and scale to undermine the dominant capitalist structures. It is necessary to also win the state in order to transform it and end its repressive power. Developing this position is the focus of this paper.”

View full talk:
Building Power from Below and Taking Power