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Blase Bonpane Commentary on Building the Left

March 8, 2011

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James Lawson Special Show with Tom Hayden

March 6, 2011

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The Reverend James Lawson contributed a show to the Building a Powerful Left series with guest Tom Hayden.

Show #5 – February 4, 2011

February 4, 2011

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Guests: Norman Solomon, Ralph Nader, Cornel West, and Noam Chomsky

We end the week with our biggest show yet.  It begins with Norman Solomon, a leading progressive voice who just may be Congressman Solomon in the near future – here why he’s working within a Democratic Party that seems so adrift.

Ralph Nader brings to bear the wisdom of six decades of fighting the good fight as he summarizes strategies and policies he feels can revitalize American society.

Cornel West reflects on how the spark of social justice can set a society aflame so long as we keep making the case – calling out injustice and building momentum.

Noam Chomsky reminds us that it can be done; though the powerful few aren’t going to make it easy – but with perseverance and organizing there’s a world to win.


Lila Garrett’s Commentary

February 3, 2011

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KPFK Radio’s Lila Garrett contributed this four minute commentary to Building a Powerful Left in the United States.

Lila Garrett is a lifelong progressive; a multi-Emmy Award winning writer, director, and producer of countless TV projects including All in the Family; and host of KPFK’s Connect the Dots.

Show #4: February 3, 2011

February 3, 2011

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Today’s show branches off from the mainstream of the progressive left.

First, in an aesthetic manner, with comic Jimmy Dore.  Whatever one makes of the recent massive Rally to Restore Sanity brought  to you by Jon Stewart and Comrade Steven Colbert – which was criticized by rival comic Bill Maher as the “Million Meh March” since it seemed, ultimately, so non-commital – it certainly showed that political comedy has moved front and center in American political discourse.

I don’t think anyone will mistake Mr. Dore’s contribution to this series as non-commital; and he is representative of a powerful community of left, progressive comedians across the country.

Then Mark Ames of and the author of “Going Postal” pulls no punches.  Mark Ames, in many respects, has picked up the mantel of Hunter S Thompson.  The left is often seen in the United States as having no backbone – this is not true of Mr. Ames.  We’ll hear his ideas on how he believes the left should speak, along with what he thinks they should be saying.

Then we hear from two revolutionaries.  In the weeks leading up to this series, talking to people about it, I was surprised how often people simply said, “we need a revolution.”  Considered off-the-charts in mainstream American political discourse, the idea is not forgotten by people in the general society.  We’ll hear from Sunsara Taylor and then Brian Becker, two people committed to bringing socialist revolution to the United States.  And, as you’ll see, their vision of a post-revolutionary society matches up with the wishes of many who would see themselves as more conventional, non-revolutionary progressives.

Up next is Vijay Prishad, a radical critic of U S foreign policy.  We’ll how he thinks a powerful left could be built and what it would mean to peoples around the world.

Then it’s Jay Walljasper and the notion of the commons.  Mr. Walljasper explains why he  feels a commitment to the commons should be one of the central organizing principles of a revitalized left.

Finally , Joseph Huff-Hannon of the Yes Men echoes Emma Goldman’s famous line “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution.”  The left has to reclaim exuberance, the joy of rebellion.


Show #3: February 2, 2011

February 2, 2011

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This show is debuting on a day, February 2nd, 2011, when a historic uprising is taking place in Egypt and across North Africa, as people are rising up against autocratic regimes in the region – regimes, it is important to note, that have been supported by the dominant global superpower, the United States.

But what sparked these uprisings at this time?  In large part, it’s been the increase in economic insecurity that stemmed from a global economic crisis, itself sparked by the collapse of the housing market in the United States and the attendant financial crisis.  But even more fundamentally, the bubble that was the US housing market of the last decade was propping up an economic system in deep trouble – unable to deliver a standard of living for American households and many around the world, on the order of the prosperity that was established in the United States and elsewhere in the post-World War II economic boom.  In recent decades, the only way that even the appearance of such prosperity could be maintained was through the generation of bubbles like the US housing market.

From the late 1970s onward, the  economic regime promoted most memorably by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was the “TINA” model.  “TINA” stands for “There Is No Alternative” – but to organize the economy around so-called “free markets,” and clearly to the benefit of private capital and the wealthy. It is a model that around the world has been called the Washington Consensus, or Neoliberalism.  But now, in the United States and across the globe, this economic regime is in clear crisis, seemingly unable to deliver even the illusion of prosperity any more.

On today’s show, we hone in on the economic crisis.  In obvious ways, the fact of the crisis provides ample opportunity and opening for the revival of the Left here in the United States and across the world – and yet, this has not the case.  And in particular,  there seems to be a dearth of ideas being put forward by the Left as how to respond to the economic crisis.

Is this so? Is there really such a dearth?  Or is it that they simply aren’t getting a hearing in the mainstream media?

Today we’ll hear from economists Robert Brenner, L. Randall Ray, Richard Wolff, and Dean Baker.


Show #2: February 1, 2011

February 1, 2011

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On today’s show we’ll hear from Eric Mann, from Los Angeles’ Labor Community Strategy Center, about strategies for effective organizing.

Then we’ll talk to Isabel Garcia, a lawyer who works for the Coalition for Human Rights in Tucson, Arizona, representing immigrant workers in that embattled state.

We’ll also be joined by Frances Fox Piven, a sociologist and political scientist and advocate for the unemployed in the United States.

Then we’ll speak with Patricia Torres, a graduate student in urban planning at UCLA who was involved in the student movements there over the past couple of years.  She is also an advocate for immigrant rights and works with INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence.

Finally, we’ll hear from Derrick Jensen,  one of the most trenchant and radical voices in the contemporary environmental movement.