Sunday, December 4, 2016

RACIAL SUPREMACY EMBEDDED IN THE DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS OF THE UNITED STATES


Harry Targ

White Supremacy on Campus

Purdue University students rallied and marched to the theme of “Love Trumps Hate” one week after the presidential election. Participants in the rally evidenced their concern for the rising environment of hate and racism brought on by the rhetoric of the recently concluded presidential campaign. Appeals were made to the Purdue President to speak out forcefully against threats to communities of color, immigrants, various ethnic groups, and the gay/lesbian community on campus.

Two weeks later, on Wednesday, November 30, members of the Purdue community discovered several flyers posted around campus exhorting students to defend white America from minorities and immigrants. The source, a white supremacist group called American Vanguard, claimed credit for posting flyers at several universities across the country. According to the Lafayette Journal and Courier, (Thursday, December 1, 2016) the website of the hate group declares the following in a manifesto titled TOTAL WAR: “We fight for a White America, but this can never happen unless we win the hearts and minds of our fellow White youth. We want to be at the forefront of the reawakening of White racial consciousness. In order to do this we must be willing to fight.”

Concerned members of the Purdue university community have been mobilizing support to urge the administration and faculty to make strong, pointed denunciations of these flyers and the seeming drift toward more racist incidents, including threats of violence against people of color. Many believe that the racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic sentiments that figured so prominently during the election campaign have reignited  white supremacy that is deeply embedded in U.S. history.

The Institute for Global Security and Defense Initiatives

During the same week the racist flyers were posted, Purdue University announced the establishment of a new research institute on campus: the Institute for Global Security and Defense Initiatives. The announcement of this research arm of the campus came as part of a two-day conference bringing together military officials, CEOs of corporations with huge military contracts, and selected faculty some of whom supported new war-related research dollars coming to campus  programs. According to the Purdue Exponent (Friday, December 2, 2016), the new institute will bring together under one roof research that involves “nanotechnology, social and behavioral sciences, big data analytics and simulations to produce solutions to issues facing national security and defense.”

Purdue President Mitch Daniels in his announcement of the Institute’s establishment said: “We live in a dangerous world in which we must continuously invent more, discover more, and innovate more than those who oppose us, and be able to deliver those technologies quickly into the hands of the people who use them to protect the rest of us.” The new interim director of the Institute echoed the concern for what he called “solving security issues.”

Purdue University this year has received $50 million in advanced defense research projects  (including a multi-million dollar research contract with Rolls Royce to produce “next generation aircraft propulsion systems”). The hope is that by centralizing all defense-related research, the university will make itself more attractive to corporations, the Defense Department, and the new Trump administration, the collaboration that former President Dwight Eisenhower called “the military-industrial complex.”

There are several unexamined premises embedded in these huge collaborations between the defense establishment, the corporate sector, and the university. First, President Daniels recently reiterated his belief that the number one economic problem the U.S. economy faces is the federal debt. Military spending has accounted for at least half of all federal expenditures since World War Two, what international relations scholar Andrew Bacevich has called “the permanent war economy.”

Second, the long-term planning for war is based upon the proposition that war-making and preparation for war are perpetual needs of the federal government: not just basic security but ever more advanced investment of dollars in technological advances, more arms, and more soldiers, and public and private contract warriors. The dominant narrative of world affairs, perpetuated by many scholars, defense intellectuals, and pundits, most of whom have a stake in the war system, is that war is inevitable. Little research emphasis is placed on war prevention, conflict-resolution, or working with other nations and international organizations to reduce tensions and violence in the world.

Third, increased military research and development,  new rounds of armaments, and the further globalization of the U.S. military will inadvertently accelerate the drift toward ecological disaster (a concern reflected in other research spaces at Purdue University). This is so particularly because the military is a major consumer of fossil fuels today.

Fourth, and relevant to the rise of racism and white supremacy on campuses across the country is the new defense agenda, illustrated by the Purdue Institute for Global Security and Defense. The overwhelming victims of death, destruction, and forced migration around the world today are people of color. Historically, during the height of the colonial era, three-quarters of humankind was ruled by a small minority of Europeans and North Americans. U.S. politicians of both political parties since the rise of the United States to global power after World War Two have articulated the view that it is “the indispensable nation” in world affairs. The ideological justification for the United States spending more on the military than most of the other nations of the world combined is the premise that it, as one country, has the obligation to decide on the security of the globe.

The movements initiated by students on campuses to resist hate and racism are vitally important. Today these movements constitute the main defense against the resurgence of a new round of white supremacy.

In addition, in the long run it is important for social movements to see the connections between white supremacy at home and the belief in American exceptionalism abroad. They are comfortable ideological bed-fellows. They reinforce each other. They justify each other. And they have to be opposed together if we are ever to have a secure, multi-cultural world, where social and economic justice prevails. 




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chutzpah About Cuba Remains

(a repost from April 28, 2015 inspired by media frames on the death of Fidel Castro)

Harry Targ
Cuban society has been an experimental laboratory... If one set of policies became problematic, the Cubans moved in different directions. Usually change came after heated debate at all levels of society. (Harry Targ, Cuba and the USA: A New World Order? International Publishers, 1992, 6)

The predominant image projected about Cuba from U.S. official government sources and the media has not changed much over the last two hundred and fifty years. Ever since the founding of the United States, Cuba has been seen as a victimized land populated by masses eager to break away from Spanish colonial control preferably to affiliate with the United States. Early American political figures such as Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams proclaimed that the United States was willing and able to appropriate the island nation when the Spanish were ready to leave the Caribbean. In the antebellum period, Southern politicians urged that Cuba be incorporated into the slave South.
In the period before the Spanish/Cuban/American War of 1898, the images of the U.S. obligation to the Cuban people presented in newspapers and theaters likened the former to a masculine hero compelled to rescue Cuba, characterized as a damsel in distress. The brutal Spanish were figuratively raping the Cuban women. At the same time Afro-Cuban men, the narrative suggested, were unable to liberate their people. Consequently, the United States, it was broadly proclaimed, must act on behalf of the Cuban people.

After the Spanish/American/Cuban War the U.S. generals and diplomats wrote the Cuban constitution in negotiations with the departing Spanish and hand-picked Cuban leaders. Over the next sixty years the floodgates were opened for ever larger investments in U.S. owned sugar plantations. After World War II, the U.S. domination of the Cuban economy expanded to include tourism, casinos, and gangsters. In every epoch, a popular story about the U.S./Cuban relationship depicted a stern but wise parent necessarily overseeing an energetic and passionate, but immature, child.

But then the long revolutionary struggle of the 1950s achieved victory and the narrative changed. The ungrateful Cubans followed the treacherous new leaders: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and a grassroots movement of peasants, workers, students, women, Afro-Cubans, and solidarity workers from across the globe. As the U.S. government and the dominant media saw it the revolution meant nothing but trouble: communism; crazy ideas about free health care and education; great debates about moral versus material incentives that even found their way into work sites; the export of medical expertise; and sometimes the provision of soldiers to help anti-colonial struggles. It was all bad news for almost sixty years.
Despite the best efforts of the United States to derail the trajectory of Cuban society, the Cuban revolution survived. Now, wiser heads in Washington have decided that economic blockades, internal subversion, assassination plots, and efforts to isolate Cuba from the international community were ineffective. It was time for a new policy: normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba.   Official spokespersons suggested and media outlets declared that the best way to help the Cuban people recover from their sixty years of pain and suffering is to establish normal diplomatic and commercial ties with the island.

In a recent essay in USA Today, “Cubans Are Still Waiting for the Thaw,” Alan Gomez argues that Cubans are getting impatient with the pace of change that has occurred since December, 2014, when Presidents Castro and Obama announced the opening of relations. He quotes a Cuban economist who says that because relations with the United States are critical to a small country like Cuba, the latter wants to be careful not to make any mistakes in developing new policies.

But Gomez suggests the Cubans are restless. He reminds the reader that Americans were very frustrated with the stagnation of the U.S. economy during the recent recession. But just imagine he poses:
          going through that kind of economic malaise for more than half a   century. So when they’re told that the end is near, that the Americans and    their money are coming to save them, you can’t blame them for getting antsy           as they look over the horizon (USA Today, April 23, 2015).

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that means audacity or nerve. Usually it refers to statements made that are so outlandish that they defy the imagination. This statement, suggesting that Cubans have been waiting for sixty years for the Americans to come with their ideology of possessive individualism, markets, support for big corporations,  and the promotion of consumerism, ranks among the great expressions of chutzpah in our time. It ignores the beacon of hope, the inspiration, the material progress in health care, education, culture, and work place experimentation in the relations of production, which makes Cuba an actor many times bigger in the eyes of the world than its size.
In the end, a real transformation of United States/Cuban relations will require a fundamental change in the American consciousness such that it respects the qualities of both countries, not the superiority of one over the other.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

THE ELECTION: SOME REFLECTIONS


Harry Targ

Election Expectations

I like most political observers believed the polls. It is interesting to note that some pundits, such as filmmaker Michael Moore, were warning of a Trump victory. These people were more likely to be in touch with working people, particularly in economically devastated areas. The media played a big role in "creating" the Trump candidacy then making him out to be a monster for mainstream viewers, thus ignoring the patronizing way the Trump message was seen by some of his base.

Why did Trump win?

A careful analysis explaining the Trump victory requires a multi-factor analysis. Over the last 24 hours I have seen compelling explanations from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Glenn Greenwald.*  Statements by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are informative as well.

Substantively we need to reflect on the role and impact of 40 years of neoliberal globalization and its key components--financialization, privatization, deindustrialization, downsizing the civilian sector of the economy and boosting the military industrial complex, and union-busting. Neoliberal globalization expanded dramatically in the Reagan period in the 1980s and was given a centrist stamp of approval in the Clinton presidency. The impacts on working people have been devastating.

Deeply embedded in the logic of capitalism is the exploitation of all workers and the particular dehumanization and objectification of workers of color. Over time racism has developed an autonomous character and has been used to divide the working class. The Trump campaign used the historic and institutionalized racism and white supremacy to mobilize some of his base. As to this election, race and class matter.

In addition, we cannot forget the institutionalization of patriarchy, a system developed long before the rise of capitalism but used along with race to divide the working class, and pit people at the base against each other. Modern forms of sexism have used the media to objectify and dehumanize women, a tool that also played out significantly in this election campaign.

Finally, the media--print, electronic, networks and cable--created the candidacy of Donald Trump giving him free air time, communicating his most bombastic statements, all to increase viewership and profit. Five media conglomerates control about half of all of what we citizens consume. The Trump campaign was a boon to their profits. After he was nominated the media shifted to the Trump as monster narrative, equally profitable. While the latter appealed to the liberal political junkies it was ignored or resented by the Trump base. We news junkies were fooled into expecting a Clinton victory. The same shortsightedness governed polling operations and our consumption of polling data.  

Prospects for the Future

The struggles for economic democracy, social justice, an end to racism and sexism will continue. The Sanders campaign was an inspirational predictor of the popular struggles that will move forward into the future. Of particular relevance is that the millenials of the Sanders campaign, Black Lives Matter, Fight for $15 and environmental movements are in the majority. Of course the dangers of radical setbacks in the short run are great—including further deterioration of the environment, encouragement of violent fascist groups, more police violence, attacks on women's rights, and efforts to destroy basic health care. The good news is that progressive groups and a twenty-first century left are expanding. The bad news is the struggles will require more defense than offense in the short-run. I think we can win, if the environment holds up.

Fears and Hopes

I fear the unleashing of more police violence and vigilantism against people of color and immigrants, significant reversal of the modest gains in saving the environment, and possible destruction of people’s programs (for me as well) such as Medicare, Social Security, public education.

My hope is that the anti-Trump "crowds" hitting the streets, the progressive movements in the Democratic Party, old and new leftists, and the inspiring new issue specific campaigns such as in North Dakota, will flower and grow. It is our only hope.



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Defeat Trump First


November 2, 2016

THE PROGRESSIVES CONUNDRUM: BUT DEFEAT TRUMP FIRST (a revised post)

Harry Targ

The presidential candidacy of Donald Trump has mobilized rightwing populists, economic nationalists, racists, anti-Muslims and anti-Semites, sectors of the marginalized and growing precariat, and some Republicans. His stock in trade has been a continuous communication by brief soundbites and tweets lies and innuendos, egregious insults, personal attacks, and slanders. These have exceeded much of the history of political discourse in the United States (with the possible exception of the anti-Communist ravings of the 1950s and the virulently hostile campaigns in the days of Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr).

It is clear to most well-meaning political activists of the center and the left, that a Trump presidency would cause untold pain and suffering to an already aggrieved population of people of color, workers, women, gays and lesbians, and advocates for the environment. However, Donald Trump, for a year now, has been a candidate who is largely a creation of the mainstream media. Day after day mainstream media reported on the candidate’s every word, his seeming popularity, and his “presumptiveness” as the Republican nominee of his party. CBS executive Leslie Moonves said about the Trump candidacy: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS” (Campbell Brown, “Why I Blame TV for Trump,” Politico Magazine, May/June 2016). The Trump candidacy has been worth millions more dollars in corporate profit for a news industry that has experienced declining viewership and readership in recent years. 

 Once Trump secured almost enough delegates to be nominated the Republican candidate, the media, including liberal and left voices, launched a non-stop effort to discredit his background, his assertions, and his broad array of rightwing supporters. And since candidate Trump continuously articulates his bizarre views he has become the gift that never stops giving. The frame has shifted from Trump the curiosity to Trump the monster. Both tropes, it is hoped, will increase the viewership and advertising as 24/7 coverage shifts to the general election.

The narrow media frame on the Trump phenomenon and his daily statements lead to a portrait of an electoral contest with his Democratic Party opponent that prioritizes personalities and sound bites and not ideas, issues, worldviews, or ideologies. The media frame reaffirms the typical American personality “binary,” that is if not Trump then the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton. Although the differences between the two candidates matter, fundamental questions of policy and purpose which should be part of political discourse are frozen out of the political process. The central issue of the election has become Donald Trump.

The Trump candidacy has poisoned and distorted the real political contest of ideas undergirding the issues of the twenty first century. Black Lives Matter, the Occupy, the Fight for 15, Moral Mondays, and the climate change movements are all about the fundamental structural impediments to any semblance of a humane society. Many of the issues articulated by these campaigns have been reflected in Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. But because of the Trump media frame and the political binary these vital issues do not get discussed. 

Fundamentally, because Trump represents the worst aspects of United States history and politics, political conversations center on him. They do not address the connections between capitalism and poverty, inequality, racism, sexism, homophobia, war, and terrorism. And the mainstream media prefers that such discussions not take place either. In addition, since the Democratic candidate is part of the problem, not the solution, the Trump conundrum limits necessary political discourse.

So progressives have a problem. A Trump victory in November will have enormous negative consequences for the vast majority of the most marginalized sectors of American society, some of whom struggled for almost 100 years to achieve some modicum of social and economic justice. And a Clinton victory ensures the continuation of the institutions that have promoted the global capitalist agenda that has been in place for the last forty years: monopolization and financialization of the global economy and the use of “humanitarian” military interventions to implement the neoliberal order.

Perhaps for the coming period the prioritization of the progressive political agenda should include in this order: effectively say “no” to Trump at the polls; say “no” to the revitalization of neoliberal globalization after a Clinton Administration enters office in January, 2017; and finally say “no” to the American political binary that institutionalizes just two choices, forestalling discussions of fundamental change in the United States.     


Monday, October 31, 2016

THE FBI CONTINUES TO SHAPE POLITICS


← The Culture of Conformism: Understanding Social ConsentRed Scare: FBI & The Origins of Anti-Communism in the United States

Posted on April 13, 2011 by sdonline  Socialism and Democracy

Regin Schmidt Red Scare: FBI & The Origins of Anti-Communism in the United States (University of Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2000).

The young lack a sense of history-of the Cold War, of anti-communism, of the vibrancy of progressive movements in the United States. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, older activists discoursing on their history at first engaged in long needed self-criticism. The self-criticism then shifted, however, to blanket rejection of our progressive pasts-our victories as well as our defeats, our brave and honorable moments, and particularly a recollection of the hegemonic power of the U.S. state as a primary cause of our defeats. Plainly, the horrific record of state repression in America is being forgotten by the older radicals and is unfamiliar to the younger ones.

Regin Schmidt’s book can help enormously in revisiting and reconstructing the role of state repression in manipulating, subverting, jailing, deporting, and killing leftists in the twentieth century. Schmidt has provided us with a data-rich account of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation took on its special role in crushing the left in America. His book is about the origins of the FBI in the old Bureau of Investigation in 1908 and its transformation into a state weapon in the struggle against perceived Bolshevism, anarchism, and communism in the aftermath of World War I. It is also about the continuity of state repression from the era of the Palmer Raids to Cold War America.

Schmidt argues that recently declassified information points to new explanations for the FBI’s rise to prominence. Some researchers view the agency’s rise as a response to mass hysteria, placing the root cause of anti-communism in the public at large. Schmidt, however, shows how popular attitudes about the Bolshevik/communist/anarchist threat emerge only after Attorney General Palmer and the FBI launched their campaigns of harassment, arrest, and deportation. In short, anti-communism as a public ideology was the creation of state institutions.

Another body of scholarly and journalistic literature places primary, indeed sole, responsibility for FBI misdeeds on the shoulders of its long-time director, J. Edgar Hoover. While Schmidt sees Hoover as the major protagonist in the FBI drama, he grounds Hoover’s conduct in the context of state policy and bureaucratic interest.

Further, most studies of the FBI emphasize its role in shaping anti-communism after World War II. Schmidt, however, takes the reader back to the first Red Scare and the Palmer Raids for the origins of anti-communism. And, he claims, the campaign was constant from then through the Cold War period. The FBI and anti-communism are less visible from the mid-1920s until the depths of the Great Depression only because of the diminution of radical activities.

Schmidt clearly states his central thesis early in the book and demonstrates its accuracy through historical examination.

Just as the mushrooming federal agencies, bureaus, and commissions were employed to regulate the economy and ameliorate the most severe social consequences of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration, [so also] the state during the first decades of the century increasingly used its resources to control, contain, and, in times of crisis, to repress social unrest and political opposition. Thus, the institutionalization of the FBI’s political activities from 1919 was at bottom a part of the federalization of social control in the form of political surveillance.

This book provides an engaging, rich, detailed history of how the FBI served the social control functions of the state: harassing the left, supporting federal, state, and local politicians in their anti-communist campaigns, and responding with sympathy to corporate requests for assistance. It covers the campaign against the IWW, the 1919 strike wave, the Palmer Raids, the Seattle General Strike, and the deportation of radicals.

Red Scare is an important book. It should be read by older progressives to refresh their memories of real state repression in the United States. The book should be passed along to young activists, most of whom were not old enough to remember FBI harassment of Central American solidarity activists in the 1980s. And this book should be included as supplementary reading in university classes on U.S. history, American politics, and social movements.

Finally, the book makes crystal clear an important reality of struggles for social change. Social movements do not fall apart solely because of ideological rigidity or factionalism or egotism. The errors that come from our ranks have to be understood in the context of a continuous pattern of state repression. The sorry record of the FBI in the United States must not be forgotten. Red Scare will help us remember.

Reviewed by Harry Targ, Department of Political Science, Purdue University

www.heartlandradical.blogspot.com


Monday, October 24, 2016

THE PORT HURON STATEMENT: THE INSPIRATION FOR A GENERATION


Harry Targ

Tom Hayden (1939-2016) was an activist and intellectual who, with others, inspired a generation of young people to oppose racism and war. He drafted a visionary statement that is still relevant today. He launched a youth movement in the late 1950s when the larger society was still crippled by virulent anti-communism and a sanctimonious view that the United States was the leader of the “free world.” He remained an anti-war and human rights activist throughout his life.

The ideas of community, empowerment, and social justice were articulated for the Sixties in the Port Huron Statement, written by founders of the Students for a Democratic Society, particularly Tom Hayden. While written by and for a relatively privileged sector of disenchanted youth in a period of booming economic growth and military expansion, the document spoke to the passion for justice, participation, and community, and an “…unrealized potential for self-cultivation, self-direction, self-understanding, and creativity.”

It called for the creation of “human interdependence,” replacing “…power rooted in possession, privilege, or circumstance…” by “power and uniqueness rooted in love, reflectiveness, reason and creativity.”

By the late Sixties many were identifying a new society based on the Port Huron vision built on core principles. These included:

  • local control and participatory democracy;
  • racial justice;
  • gender equality;
  • equitable distribution of resources and the collective product of human labor;
  • commitments to the satisfaction of minimal basic needs for all of humankind;
  • the development of an ethic that connects survival to human existence, not to specific jobs;
  • human control over technology; and
  • a new “land ethic” that conceives of humankind as part of nature, not in conflict with it.

The vision led to the exploration of the impediments to the construction of a society based on human scale that would celebrate both individual creativity and community. Growing familiarization with the critique of capitalism suggested that the capitalist mode of production, dominant over two-thirds of the world, was based upon the exploitation, oppression, dehumanization, and repression of the vast majority of humankind.

Incorporating an understanding of the workings of capitalism reinforced the vision that philosopher Martin Buber called the decentralized social principle embedded in Port Huron’s eloquent call for “community.” Building a new society entailed class struggle which would manifest itself in factories and fields, in rich and poor countries, and in political venues from the ballot box to the streets.

Bringing about positive change was a much more complicated affair than activists originally thought, but the sustained and sometimes brutal opposition to visions, like that reflected in The Port Huron Statement, validated the general correctness of them.

Today, new generations of activists, along with older ones, are reflecting and participating in diverse social movements in our cities and towns. They observe with enthusiasm the mobilizations, the militancy, and the passion for justice still unfolding in the Middle East.

The efforts of Venezuelans, Bolivians, Ecuadorians, and the Cubans who inspired us so much over the years are applauded. Important debates about social market economies, workers’ management of large enterprises, this or that candidate or political party, are occurring on the Internet and in the streets.

Although the times are so different from the 1960s, perhaps the vision of community that animated thinking then (which we in turn learned from those who preceded us) may still be relevant for today.

Tom Hayden and his comrades proclaimed that we must remain committed to the sanctity of human life, to equality, to popular control of all our institutions, to a reverence for the environment, and to the idea that the best of society comes from communal efforts to make living better for all. Hayden’s vision survives.




Sunday, October 23, 2016

WHAT DOES THE CUBS IN THE WORLD SERIES MEAN FOR OUR SOCIAL MOVEMENTS?

Harry Targ

Chicago’s iconic journalist, columnist, pundit, and Cubs fan, Mike Royko once ruminated on what he learned from his years as a Chicago Cubs baseball fan:  "It taught a person that if you try hard enough and long enough, you'll still lose and that's the story of life."

He lived through a lot of history of Cubs defeat. Sometimes the Cubs got close to world  series play only to let errors or faulty complaints about how a fan interfering with an outfielders catch of a foul ball led to a playoff game loss. Or going back further to Royko’s youth, the Cubs acquired a colossally slow home run hitter to play one outfield position along with another great home run hitter who was even slower; or the trade of a future hall of fame outfielder/base stealer for a washed up pitcher. While railing with vigor against the corruption, racism, and authoritarian rule of the first Daley machine in Chicago,  Royko followed with sorrow and despair a baseball team that was in Steve Goodman’s words, “the doormat of the National League.”  In fact, Goodman, the author of the powerful song about Middle America, “The City of New Orleans,” despite his disappointed love affair with the Chicago Cubs, sang about wanting to be buried in Wrigley Field.

Chicago’s love affair with their failed baseball teams prompted a disagreement between Royko and his friend and the other Chicago hero, Studs Terkel, on what the Cubs and the Chicago White Sox stood for. Studs correctly pointed out that the Southside White Sox were the working class team coming from a part of the city where there used to be “stockyards and steel mills.”  And in contradistinction, Cubs fans “…are from the suburbs, brought in by big buses. It’s like going to an air show or ‘Cats’—something tourists do.” Terkel pointed out in his New York Times October 28, 2005 op ed essay that for attendees at Cubs games “…it’s not about baseball. It’s about having been to a place to be.” He goes on to compare Wrigley Field, the “hallowed” ball park, with U.S. Cellular Field, “a dump.” The White Sox park only surpasses the Cubs venue in its toilets, “…the cleanest I’ve ever seen in a public place.”   

Royko, Terkel (and Goodman) are Chicago heroes (in the same tradition as the Haymarket Martyrs and Lucy Parsons). But they are both wrong.  The history of struggles, workers, women, African Americans, gays,  suggest  just the opposite of Royko’s despondency. In fact, if groups of people try hard enough and long enough they can win. In Cubs history, great stars planted the seeds of victory—Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo. They raised the possibility of victory that, while not experienced in the short term, has to be seen as part of a historic process that led to the 2016 season. This is even more  clear as we look at the social movements of today. Where does the passionate rejection of the reactionary politics of the Trump campaign come from if not from past struggles? What about the Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, and movements for climate change?  Can social change ever occur if  Royko’s defeatist consciousness predominates?  

And although Terkel’s baseball “class analysis" of the Cubs and Sox is historically correct, baseball like life changes.  Transformations can occur. The Chicago Cubs have become the city’s team: for workers, men and women, and more people of color than before.  In fact, as a metaphor, the Cubs have transcended their upper class roots. In addition they have become a national phenomenon.

There is something about the inspiration that traditional ‘down and outers’ in the sports world have for most of the citizenry. Perhaps sometime in the future, progressives will look back to 2016 and remember that an older, Democratic Socialist, Jewish politician inspired young people to think about building a better society. And they will remember also that the Chicago Cubs won the National League championship and came close to or won the World Series.