Open Letter on the Proposed Destruction of a Mural Cycle

A Federal Art Project mural cycle of thirteen panels devised and painted by Victor Arnautoff in 1936 in a San Francisco high school portrays George Washington as a slave owner and as the author of Native-American genocide. It is an important work of art, produced for all Americans under the auspices of a federal government seeking to ensure the survival of art during the Great Depression. Its meaning and commitments are not in dispute. It exposes and denounces in pictorial form the U.S. history of racism and colonialism. The only viewers who should feel unsafe before this mural are racists.

Now, however, activists including a number of students are seeking the destruction—not the concealment or contextualization—of the mural. The reasons they give—in public comment, in interviews, in the board’s statements—are various, but they all depend on rejecting the objective analysis of historical exploitation and colonial violence the mural offers and replacing it with activists’ valorization of their experiences of discomfort with the imagery and the authorship of the murals. On this account, a Russian immigrant cannot denounce historical wrongs by depicting them critically. On this account, only members of the affected communities can speak to such issues and only representations of history that affirm values they approve are suitable for their communities. On this account, representing historical misdeeds is degrading to some members of today’s student body. In a recent vote, the board of the San Francisco Unified School District voted unanimously to destroy the murals. To repeat: they voted to destroy a significant monument of anti-racism. This is a gross violation of logic and sense.
Let’s set aside the question of the voices calling for the murals’ destruction and their authority to speak for the communities they claim as their own. What remains is a mistake in the way we react to historical works of art—ignoring their meaning in favor of our feelings about them—and a mistake in the way we treat historical works of art—using them as tools for managing feelings, rather than as objects of interpretation. Let’s stand up for the integrity of art as well as for historical interpretation, and for a shared analysis of the political reality of the United States in the past and the present.
The undersigned oppose the school board’s decision and the wrong-headed approach to art and to history that lie behind that decision. We urge the school board to reverse its decision and take all reasonable steps to preserve the mural and to teach it as a work of art and as a representation of our history. We oppose this display of contempt for history.
To hear public comment preceding the board’s vote, follow this link. (Discussion of the mural begins about ten minutes into the recording.)
At the end of the week, we will send this letter and list of signatories to the board members of the SFUSD. To add your signature, e-mail your name and institutional affiliation (if desired) to


Thomas J. Adams, University of Sydney
Aijaz Ahmad, Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
Mike Alewitz, emeritus, Art Department/Mural Program, Central Connecticut State University
Bridget Alsdorf, Department of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University
Frank Thomas Armstrong, Portland, Ore.
Jennifer Ashton, English Department, University of Illinois at Chicago
Jerry August, Los Angeles Unified School District
Dario Azzellini, Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University
Joan Baldwin, Special Collections, The Hotchkiss School
Leslie Bary, University of Louisiana
Paul L. Bash
Barbara Bernstein, New Deal Art Registry
Jennifer Bethke, Department of Art and Art History, Sonoma State University
Elizabeth Bishop, Université d’Oran 2 Mohamed Ben Ahmed
Michele Bogart, Stony Brook University
William N. Bonds, emeritus, San Francisco State University
Cale Brooks, NYC Democratic Socialists of America Medicare for All campaign
Nicholas Brown, Departments of English and African American Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
Joanna Bujes, SIG Docs, San Francisco
Charles T. Butler, emeritus, Columbus Museum
C. Jean Campbell, Art History Department, Emory University
Stephen Campbell, Department of the History of Art, Johns Hopkins University
Michael Cavadias, actor, writer, NYC-DSA Citywide Leadership Committee
Sarah Cate, Department of Political Science, Saint Louis University
Enrique Chagoya, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University
Bi-Ling Chen, University of Central Arkansas
Robert W. Cherny, emeritus, San Francisco State University
Merlin Chowkwanyun, Columbia University
Kevin Chua, Texas Tech University
Hollis Clayson, Department of Art History, Northwestern University
Nicholas Copeland, Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Todd Cronan, Art History Department, Emory University
Malcolm Daniel, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Michael Davis, emeritus, University of California, Riverside
Bindu Desai, M.D., Albany, Calif.
Martha Louise Deutscher
Eugenio Di Stefano, Foreign Languages & Literature, University of Nebraska, Omaha
Geert Dhondt, Department of Economics, John Jay College, CUNY
Jed Dodd, Vice President, BMWED-Teamsters
Madhu Dubey, Departments of English and African American Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
Jacob Edwards, Tulane University
William Elliot
Robert Eshelman-Håkansson, Columbia Journalism School
Sarah Evans, School of Art and Design, Northern Illinois University
David Featherstone
Liza Featherstone, The Nation and Jacobin, New York University and Columbia University
Michael Fiday, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati
Carlos Figueroa, Ithaca College
Anne-Lise François, University of California, Berkeley
Amy Freund, Department of Art History, Southern Methodist University
Michael Fried, emeritus, Johns Hopkins University
Amber A’Lee Frost, writer and journalist
Sal Garcia, artist and curator, San Francisco
Judith K. Gardener, Chicago, Ill.
Joy Garnett
Judy Gittelsohn, Art for Well Beings
Sarah Gleeson-White, Department of English, University of Sydney
Hon. Ruth Y. Goldway, ret. chair and commissioner, U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, former mayor, Santa Monica, Calif.
Marie Gottschalk, Political Science Department, University of Pennsylvania
Scott Griffith
Anthony Gronowicz, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
Brian Gross, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco
Steven Hahn, New York University
Beverly L. Hall
John Halle, composer and pianist
Theodore Hamm, St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Joseph F. Hancock, editor, Labor Today/El Trabajo Diario on behalf of Labor United for Class Struggle
Jonathan Harwitz, Low Income Investment Fund
David Harvey, Graduate Center, CUNY
Charles Hatfield, University of Texas at Dallas
Andrew Hemingway, emeritus, Department of the History of Art, University College London
Stephen Hitchcock, Prague, Czech Republic
Andrew Hsiao, Verso Books
Arthur Hughes, artist
Forrest Hylton, Ciencia Política, Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Sede Medellín
Joel Isaacson, emeritus, University of Michigan
William Issel, San Francisco State University
Anton Jäger, Cambridge University
Cedric G. Johnson, University of Illinois at Chicago
Richard A. Johnson, The Sports Museum, Boston, Mass.
Robert Flynn Johnson, emeritus, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Alastair Johnston, retired, University of California, Berkeley
Peyton Lee Jones, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg
Ramsey Kanaan, publisher, PM Pre

Segundo día de paro en Elektrokontakt / 500 Mexican Workers Strike Elektrokonatat

Sabinas, Coah.- El conflicto en la empresa Elektrokotakt de Sabinas ya cumplió más de 24 horas activo y los empleados no han desistido en su huelga, pues consideraron una injusticia que la empresa no haya cumplido con un convenio de un aumento salarial y esperan que lleguen altos directivos de la compañía de San Antonio, Texas, para dialogar sobre el problema. 

El líder del sindicato de trabajadores de la empresa adherido a la CROC, Javier Pérez Arellano, informó que son más de 500 trabajadores que se han mantenido en huelga desde el jueves por la mañana y no desistirán hasta que la empresa cumpla con el acuerdo que adquirieron en el mes de febrero, de dar entre un 16-20% de incremento al salario diario a cada trabajador que sume años laborales.

El jueves por la tarde arribaron a Sabinas los directivos de la compañía de la ciudad de Piedras Negras y dialogaron con los empleados sobre el problema, sin embargo no ofrecieron alternativa o una solución para el problema, pues en todo momento los representantes de la empresa se negaron a cumplir con ese acuerdo, pues sería muy costoso para la compañía.

Es por ello que el paro laboral continuó hasta este viernes y continuará más días si es que la compañía no ofrece una solución al problema o definitivamente decide cumplir con ese acuerdo tomado anteriormente. 

“La empresa está perdiendo millones de pesos por este conflicto, pues los arneses que aquí hacemos se exportan a varios países y todos los pedidos están detenidos por ese motivo. No trabajaremos hasta que la empresa responda a nuestras exigencias”, aseguró el líder sindical Pérez Arellano.

Original article:

WW 3-19-19 New Zealand Massacre & Labor Fighting Back and UC CWA UPTE Workers Strike

WorkWeek radio looks at the rise of fascists and racist terror in New Zealand with the massacre of 50 Muslims and the wounding of many others. We talk with New Zealand Unite unionist Joe Carolan who is a senior organizer for casino and security. He is also a member of Socialist Aotearoa group. He talks about the rise of racism, fascism and the role of Trump in inciting xenophobia and attacks on immigrants along with New Zealand government officials. He reports that the leader of the Greens was physically assaulted the day before the massacre.
Next we talk about the upcoming strike of CWA Union of Professional and Technical Employees UPTE and AFSCME 3299 at all UC campuses. We talk with UC UPTE members Kelsey Zorn and Lisa Milos who both work at UCSF.
Additional media:
Stand Up To Islamophobia
Stop Attacking Our Benefits! UCSF AFSCME 3299 Workers Strike UCSF
“Outsourced” UCSF Tech Workers & UPTE CWA Unionists Protest Outsourcing Of Public  Jobs
UC CNA Nurses & CWA UPTE UCSF Workers Join AFSCME 3299 Strike Action
“Stop The Destruction Of  Our UC Public Pensions”  Report By CWA UPTE  At UCSF
Production of WorkWeek Radio

South Africa Suffers Capitalist Crisis Déjà Vu

A year ago, the majority of South Africans stared into the abyss. They faced either a continuation of corrupt misrule by a stereotypical kleptocrat—Jacob Zuma—whose anti-imperialist rhetoric failed to disguise worsening austerity, or a potentially dramatic change of political direction toward liberal capitalism.1 Next door in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe had just been pushed out in a wildly popular palace coup that at least superficially shared South Africa’s ideological overtones, given that his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, also courts big business while maintaining a liberal veneer.2 The choice was obvious at least for South Africa’s urban citizenry, a large subset of which had campaigned against Zuma and his increasingly notorious cronies in the 2017 “Zuma Must Go!” movement. Finally, in late December 2017, 52 percent of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) delegates voted for the party’s next president, narrowly electing business tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa over former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s loyal ex-wife.

Ramaphosa, who, according to Forbes, was worth more than $450 million in 2015, grew rich through ownership of McDonald’s and Coke franchises, as well as banking and extensive coal and platinum mining interests. But as the major local investor in Lonmin—the British producer of platinum metals operating in South Africa’s Bushveld Complex—in August 2012, he e-mailed the police and mining ministers to describe a wildcat strike at the Marikana platinum mine as “dastardly criminal” and requiring “concomitant action.” The next day, police massacred thirty-four workers in what became known as the Marikana massacre. Ramaphosa only apologized for his e-mail in 2016, and in early 2018 admitted the need for “atonement” for Marikana. The $1,000/month minimum wage demanded by the Lonmin rock-drill operators in the mines was never won, in part because the platinum price soon plummeted. Lonmin lost 99.3 percent of its share value in 2015 as the commodity supercycle collapsed and, facing bankruptcy in 2017, agreed to a friendly takeover by a firm (Sibanye) prepared to fire 40 percent of its workforce as soon as the takeover is completed this year.3

Prior to this incident, Ramaphosa had epitomized the ANC liberation movement’s venerated old guard, having led the mineworkers’ union in the 1980s, served as the ANC’s secretary general (chief operations officer), and chaired the drafting team for the country’s first democratic constitution in 1996. The focus on constitutionalism had prevented Ramaphosa from winning the power struggle within the ANC to become Nelson Mandela’s heir apparent. Nevertheless, during the fifteen years that Thabo Mbeki edged him out of politics, his business career boomed. There were, however, snags along the way, including two embarrassing bankruptcies in the late 1990s, at a time when all South Africa’s black business elites learned the limits of borrowing money at expensive rates in order to buy into white companies that were suffering share-price overvaluation.4

But soon enough, Ramaphosa evolved into the ideal Johannesburg branch-plant comprador partner to multinational corporations, aiding both Lonmin in brazen Illicit Financial Flow (IFF) profit transfers to Bermuda, and MTN—the largest African cellphone firm, which he chaired—in its prolific profit outflows to Mauritius. He also featured as a tax-haven abuser, via his main holding company, Shanduka coal, in the Paradise Papers leak in late 2017.5 Yet, as a nationalist politician, Ramaphosa retained sufficiently strong organizational skills to advance within the ANC. In the immediate wake of the Marikana massacre, incongruously, he was chosen as Zuma’s deputy party president. He became the state deputy president during Zuma’s second term in power, from 2014 to 2018.

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Picture: Student protesters in South Africa. Photo credit: “Landmark case to have major repercussions for protests in South Africa,” Business Tech, January 25, 2018.

REGIONS MULTIMEDIA SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGNS ABOUT Skip to content Peoples Dispatch REGIONS MULTIMEDIA SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGNS ABOUT India’s urban and rural working class to embark on two day nationwide strike in January

The shutdown in rural India coinciding with the trade union’s strike will unite the farmers and workers to challenge the pro-corporate and anti-people rule of far right BJP government.

More than 2 lakh farmers, workers and agricultural labourers marched on September 05, 2018 to the Indian parliament demanding an end to the anti-worker and anti-farmer policies of the government headed by far right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photos: V Arun Kumar / Peoples Dispatch)

Building a massive resistance against the neoliberal policies of the Indian government, farmers’ organizations have given a call for a nationwide strike coinciding with the two-day general strike by trade unions. In September this year, 10 central trade unions and independent federations gave a call for a nationwide strike on January 8 and 9, 2018.

On Tuesday, December 18, Communist Party of India (Marxist)-affiliated farmers’ union, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) gave a call for a two-day Gramin Bharat Bandh (Rural India Shutdown) on January 8 and 9, 2019. Ashok Dhawale, president of AIKS speaking with Peoples Dispatch said, “The bandh in rural India, along with the trade union strike would unite the farmers and workers to challenge the pro-corporate and anti-people regime of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”

The call is supported by the Bhumi Adhikar Sabha, a platform of various people’s organizations demanding land for poor farmers for agricultural purposes.

Farm loan waiver and land allotment to poor farmers are the two major demands put forward by the AIKS.  Dhawale noted that the bandh will also be against the increasing religious polarization tactics employed by the far right-wing government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Corruption, communalism [religious polarization], and corporatization, which marks the policies of BJP rule will be resisted by the people of this country. We have seen how the BJP lost in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan, as farmers and workers united for their rights,” Dhawale said emphasizing that people’s movements will be strengthened in the coming days.

Agrarian crisis

India is currently witnessing an agrarian and economic crisis, marked by continuous erosion of farmers and workers’ rights. More than 50 percent of the population, which includes farmers and agricultural laborers from the country’s agricultural sector, has been affected but little support has been provided by the government. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), nearly 48,104 farmers and farm laborers committed suicide between 2013 and 2016. And the crisis is exacerbated by government policies supporting the corporatization of agriculture and forceful land acquisition by private companies.

Renowned journalist P Sainath, in an article noted that “India’s agrarian crisis has gone beyond the agrarian. It’s a crisis of society. May be even a civilizational crisis, with perhaps the largest body of small farmers and laborers on Earth fighting to save their livelihoods.”

In the past one year, the country witnessed three major farmers mobilizations, in August, October and in November. In these movements, more than half a million farmers protested in the Indian capital calling for an end to the neoliberal and anti-farmers’ policies of the government.

“While the government is refusing to provide loan waivers to poor farmers, rich corporate loans are being waived off. This government is of the corporates and what we want is a people’s government,” Dhawale noted.

The recent farmers’ march on November 29 and 30 demanded a special session of the Parliament to be held to discuss the agrarian crisis, and the National Commission on Farmers’ 2006 report. The report had recommended crop acquisition by the state at a minimum support price (MSP) which is 50 percent above the full cost of production and redistribution of ceiling-surplus land to the landless.

Trade unions’ call for total strike

Since the Hindu conservative BJP government came to power in 2014, there had been attempts to dilute the labor laws under the banner of ‘ease of doing business.’ Trade unions have warned that the continuous trampling of workers’ rights will be met with severe resistance. In November 2017, more than 3,00,000 workers from various trade unions (except Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), trade union close to the ruling government) organized a Mahapadav demanding the government to end the assault on working-class rights and its neoliberal policies.

Announcing the nationwide general strike call, the workers’ convention held on November 28, 2018, put forward a 12-point charter of demands, which included strict enforcement of all basic labor laws and stringent punitive measures for violation of labour laws, universal social security cover for all workers, minimum wage of not less than Rs. 18,000/- per month with provisions of indexation, stoppage of disinvestment in Central/State PSUs and strategic sale, ending contractualization in permanent perennial work, equal pay for equal work, urgent measures for containing price-rise through universalization of public distribution system and containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation.