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Infoshop News / Devil?s Bargain: We already have planet-cooling technology. The problem is, it?s killing us.
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Today at 06:01:16 AM »
Devil?s Bargain: We already have planet-cooling technology. The problem is, it?s killing us.

Turns out we have been unwittingly geoengineering for decades, and just like in the movies, it?s gone off the rails.
Source: Devil?s Bargain: We already have planet-cooling technology. The problem is, it?s killing us.
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AlterNet / Law Professor Proposes Bringing Back Indentured Servitude
« Last post by AlterNet on Today at 06:01:15 AM »
Law Professor Proposes Bringing Back Indentured Servitude


This idea is probably best left in the dustbin of history.


It?s 2018, so of course we?re about to discuss the possibility of rejuvenating indentured servitude. The practice, which until recently only came up when Irish-Americans wanted to explain why they think they had it just as bad as Black people, settled into the dustbin of history a long time ago, but Chicago Law Professor Eric Posner, along with Microsoft Research?s Glen Wyel, have a new proposal in Politico to bring it back in a new form as the Visas Between Individuals Program.

Here?s how the program would work: Imagine a woman named Mary Turner, who lives in Wheeling, West Virginia. She was recently laid off from a chicken-processing plant and makes ends meet by walking and taking care of her neighbors? pets. Mary could expand her little business by hiring some workers, but no one in the area would accept a wage she can afford. Mary goes online?to a new kind of international gig economy website, a Fiverr for immigrants?and applies to sponsor a migrant. She enters information about what she needs: someone with rudimentary English skills, no criminal record and an affection for animals. She offers a room in her basement, meals and $5 an hour. (Sponsors under this program would be exempt from paying minimum wage.) The website offers Mary some matches?people living in foreign countries who would like to spend some time in the United States and earn some money. After some back and forth, Mary interviews a woman named Sofia who lives in Paraguay.

It?s like indentured servitude, but with a Silicon Valley spitshine as a gig economy solution.

While it?s easy to recoil in horror when people start talking about making immigrants live in your basement and perform menial tasks for you for less than minimum wage, Posner and Wyel offer a few reasonable observations about the program that everyone should consider.

First, whether you like it or not, America already allows this program to the relatively affluent. The J-1 cultural exchange visa, which Posner and Wyel correctly brand ?in reality a nanny migrant-labor program used by upper-middle class American families? is thriving in America. Why is the notion of a 20-year-old French girl changing diapers for wealthy people acceptable while the idea of a 40-year-old Paraguayan walking dogs for a high school dropout problematic? For that matter, why can corporations use H1-B visas to secure high-end talent to enrich their overflowing coffers while Mary the Wannabe Dog Whisperer can?t get her dream off the ground?

Posner and Wyel think migrants would be prepared to spend upwards of $6000 for sponsorship, allowing working-class families to boost their incomes even before the hypothetical Mary sees her dog business take off.  Stripping away the H1-B and forcing corporations to pay people like Mary to sponsor the software engineers they?re bringing over could offer another revenue opportunity. Posner and Wyel also suggest that people who interact with immigrants on a day-to-day basis are less racist about migrants.

This is a thoughtful suggestion that should be commended for thinking outside the box on an important issue. But it?s also the sort of libertarian pipe dream that only makes sense after polishing off a brick of hashish and thumbing through Atlas Shrugged.

A baseline assumption of this proposal is the libertarian article of faith that everyone is an entrepreneur and every idea ? no matter how stupid ? will make money if you just will it into being. Are there enough people with enough disposable income in Mary?s neighborhood to make her dog business work? That seems like a big deal regardless of how many crumbs her personal immigrant assistant is getting. In a nod to the variation between demand in different markets, Posner and Wyel suggest that people might move to areas that need more migrant labor to take advantage of that market. Except people don?t pull up stakes and move across the country for $6,000 ? especially when they?re likely moving to somewhere with a much higher cost of living. While a family of four could make $20K by sponsoring 4 migrants, they claim, I seem to have overlooked the glut of working-class families that have two or three spares rooms available to put up strangers.

For anyone questioning the existence of the Overton Window, the concept that the public only accepts a narrow window of discourse and that radical shifts make previously extreme ideas normal (here?s an entertaining primer), consider the straight line that runs from the White House trying to build a wall and law schools conflating slurs with policy debate to a high-minded discussion in a major publication about Uber-fying indentured servitude. This is a relatively tame and thoughtful proposal about immigration and the fact that we?re saying that with a straight face is way, way, way crazier than the idea itself.

But this is where we are in 2018.

 

Related Stories


Source: Law Professor Proposes Bringing Back Indentured Servitude
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Infoshop News / How Segregation Persists
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:00:13 PM »
How Segregation Persists

A pioneer in the study of segregation explores a groundbreaking new theory on why American neighborhoods are still so divided along racial lines.
Source: How Segregation Persists
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Infoshop News / Decades of organising wins new abortion referendum in Ireland
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:00:13 PM »
Decades of organising wins new abortion referendum in Ireland

Constitutional ban in place since 1983 to be repealed if referendum passes
Source: Decades of organising wins new abortion referendum in Ireland
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Infoshop News / South Africa: Out with the old, in with the not so new
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:00:13 PM »
South Africa: Out with the old, in with the not so new

The article looks at the structural reasons why Ramaphosa replacing Zuma as the head of state in South Africa won't end corruption.
Source: South Africa: Out with the old, in with the not so new
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AlterNet / Why Corporate Democrats Do Not Support Immigrant Justice
« Last post by AlterNet on Yesterday at 06:00:11 PM »
Why Corporate Democrats Do Not Support Immigrant Justice


Liberal politicians can must be pushed further to the left.


 

"Liberal academics are busy supporting the Dream Act or whatever helps them avoid being called racist."

This is how a member of Chicago's Moratorium on Deportations Campaign expressed her frustration at the lack of critical analysis surrounding the "comprehensive immigration reform" bill that had just passed the Democratic-led Senate in June 2013.

It's not hard to understand why: The legislation included $46 billion to further militarize the border with Mexico -- already guarded by nearly 20,000 Border Patrol agents, dozens of drones and 700 miles of border walls. This bill included a version of the Dream Act, as well as a permanently temporary legal status for 5 million other undocumented immigrants, masquerading as a so-called "pathway to citizenship."

Today, President Trump's knack for throwing around demeaning and racist epithets and bringing official US government discourse in line with its corporate-backed policy in countries such as Haiti and El Salvador has liberals across the country and blogosphere up in arms. Paul A. Kramer has rightfully exposed the short-sightedness of this hand-wringing. He underscores the racist undertones that have long subtended official US immigration policy, and prods us to ask some very important questions:

To what extent are the countries of the global north implicated in forces that prevent people in the global south from surviving and thriving where they are? In what ways do restrictive immigration policies heighten the exploitation of workers? How does the fear of deportation make migrant workers easier to discipline, hurt and rob? In what ways does mass migration from the poorer parts of the earth to centers of wealth and power reflect the larger problem of global inequality?

The real challenge lies in answering these questions in a way that does not amount to a mere restatement of their premises accompanied with an ever-growing sense of moral indignation. It is absolutely vital to denounce the brutal legacy of colonialist plunder that set the capitalist system in motion over 500 years ago, but it must not be forgotten that the nation-states forged in the fire of colonialist violence have always been fraught with their own internal power struggles.

A concrete analysis of the explosive contradictions of contemporary capitalist globalization demonstrates that neither Trump's explicitly racist vitriol nor the paternalistic "pro-immigrant" discourse of corporate liberals and the multicultural elite challenges the structures allowing for the exploitation and oppression of immigrants and migrant workers.

This is not to say that there is no difference between the two. Quite the contrary, it is highly illuminating to consider the relationship between such apparently divergent rhetorical strategies and the material interests of specific groups of capitalists and their forms of profit-making. This will make it easier for the grassroots struggle for migrant and immigrant justice to clearly discern the true colors of the corporate, Democrat-led anti-Trump "resistance," and adopt a genuinely progressive platform.

The Political Economy of Anti-Immigrant Discourse

The radical social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein argues that the underlying tension between the formally universalistic ideology undergirding bourgeois democracy and the undeniably racist and sexist manner in which this political system actually functions is a reflection of the contradictory needs of capital accumulation. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels famously proclaimed that "the need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe," but what it produces above all are  its own grave-diggers in the form of "free" workers who must sell their labor power on the market. In the United States, the capitalist class quickly learned to keep the working class internally fractured by creating relatively privileged strata of (largely white male) workers alongside groups of particularly tractable workers whose "cheapened" labor power is rendered so disposable that its owners might even be expelled during times of economic crisis.

This deliberately reductionist framework has the merit of refusing to naturalize racist oppression and rhetoric as a mere manifestation of racism, as if this latter phenomenon did not in turn need to be explained. Its haphazard application can certainly lead to simplistic analyses, but this model may also serve as a fruitful backdrop to a deeper analysis of the present moment.

The strongest social base for the intensely racist discourse in currency today is arguably those capitalists who are invested in the business of immigrant detention and deportation. This is not because they are morally depraved, but because their ability to earn a profit is literally dependent on an endless supply of highly racialized and deportable bodies. They are painfully aware, and they use their considerable social power to shift public discourse in order to serve their own interests.

Activists and scholars have done an excellent job exposing the collusion of corporate executives and state legislators with ties to the private prison industry and the much larger "immigrant industrial complex." These lawmakers have passed extremely repressive anti-immigrant laws such as Arizona's infamous SB 1070 and Alabama's HB 56. From the buses used to transport immigrant detainees, to the corporations that provide woefully inadequate but highly lucrative medical services to them, and the phone companies that charge them $4 a minute, many seemingly innocuous sectors of the economy profit handsomely from this loathsome state of affairs.

This is indeed morally outrageous. Yet, it is not indicative of a crisis of individual morals, so much as a structural crisis of the global capitalist system that reduces human beings to the commodities they either produce, consume, or -- in the case of their labor power -- are forced to sell.

As William Robinson has argued, militarized accumulation -- whether it takes the form of constructing border walls and prisons or hiring and arming paramilitary-style organizations such as the Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- responds to this crisis in two crucial ways. First, it provides outlets to capital at a time when many other opportunities for productive investment have dried up. What is more, the systematic repression of racialized surplus populations is clearly an attempt to keep a lid on growing discontent among the most socially marginalized, who come to serve as scapegoats for the system's growing instability.

Immigrant workers have indeed grown increasingly organized in recent years, demonstrating that they are unafraid to withhold their labor power as a means of demanding justice. Precisely because they are some of the most highly exploited and legally vulnerable workers, they have not been rendered totally superfluous to global capital. Since the "immigrant industrial complex" treats immigrant bodies as raw materials in the production process, it actually poses a threat to other capitalists who seek to extract surplus value from them.

Quite simply, the detention of immigrants removes their labor power from the (non-prison) labor market. This is a fundamental contradiction, and the contemporary debate around immigration politics must be properly placed within this context.

Corporate Liberals to the Rescue?

In the face of intensified deportation campaigns, the liberal wing of the US-based transnational capitalist class -- including the CEOs of Silicon Valley giants such as Google, Apple and Facebook -- is even more willing than usual to put forward a seemingly progressive and even explicitly anti-racist discourse. Many top executives are immigrants themselves. They call for immigrant families to be kept together, and they will decry the most egregious cases of abuse of immigrant workers.

Yet when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella advocates for the "right use" of the H-1B "guest-worker" program, he is calling for the utilization of "high-skill labor" to promote "American competitiveness," not challenging the highly precarious existence of the program's participants. He doesn't seem very concerned about the working conditions of the thousands of "unskilled" and low-wage immigrant workers who ensure that the "campuses" of these global corporations run smoothly, and must dispose of the toxic chemicals produced by this supposedly "eco-friendly" industry on a daily basis. Those who provide the vital labor sustaining the lifestyles of the industry's more affluent workers -- such as gardening, child care, cleaning, repair work and food service -- are hardly better off.

Billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates know that they are utterly dependent on immigrant labor. With this in mind, they have funded organizations such as FWD.us in order to push for a "comprehensive immigration reform" along the lines of the Senate's 2013 bill. With a team comprising former congressional staffers, campaign managers and NGO professionals, FWD.us uses online advocacy and local chapters in order to "mobilize the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream achievable in the 21st century." The organization recognizes that "human ability provides the foundation for everything" the tech community does, and laments that $37 million is lost each day as a result of the country's "broken immigration system."

If it is true, then the "tech community" has its own formula for converting immigrants into dollar signs, and FWD.us is shrewd enough to appropriate rhetorical themes that one often hears in more community-based organizing. Attempting to put a human face to those dollar signs -- rather than more dollars in the pockets of those humans -- it encourages immigrants to share their stories and demonstrate that "real lives hang in the balance." This lays bare an unfortunate but unavoidable fact: Moral pleas and strident denunciations of xenophobia and hate that are not simultaneously buttressed by an anti-capitalist critique practically invite co-optation by the multicultural corporate elite.

All social justice movements must be resolutely committed to an anti-racist politics, but turning "colorblind" ideology on its head by pointing out the ubiquity of "race" and denouncing all manifestations of racism is no substitute for the development of a long-term strategy grounded in a structural analysis of how the unequal and thoroughly racist class relations of global capitalist society are continually reproduced. This is not an easy task, but with an openly racist president in the White House, it acquires a new sense of urgency.

A Truly Progressive Platform

I have argued elsewhere that the three apparently antagonistic aspects of official US immigration policy -- mass detentions and deportations, a qualitatively new stage of border militarization, and attempts to pass a so-called "comprehensive immigration reform" -- lay the groundwork for a system of immigrant labor control anchored in "liminal legality." In short, recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protective Status -- as well as certain agricultural workers -- would most likely receive some sort of preferential treatment in any future "reform" bill. Yet the essentially temporary nature of those pseudo-legal statuses would be quietly smuggled into a deceptively definitive, decades-long "pathway to citizenship," as well as an expanded and revamped "guest-worker" program.

When Rep. Luis Gutiérrez attempts to claim the moral high ground from the Trump administration by tweeting that "$25 billion [for border security] as ransom for Dreamers with cuts to legal immigration and increases to deportations doesn't pass the laugh test," he is being dishonest. In fact, the "immigrant rights champion" vigorously supported a bill passed by the Democratic-led Senate in 2013 that allocated nearly double that amount of money for "border security," while also increasing funding to the deportation apparatus and making similar cuts to "legal" immigration.  

The point is not that Trump and Gutiérrez are hypocrites, but that they embody the contradictions built into the global capitalist system. They will continue to use Dreamers as a "bargaining chip" because of their structural role in upholding such a profoundly unequal social order, which cannot be effectively challenged by appealing to the moral sense of its most powerful guardians.

The White House has vocalized its "support" for Dreamers, but with the fate of DACA up in the air, Democrats have been relatively silent regarding the plight of the nearly 10 million other undocumented immigrants in the country -- let alone the hundreds of thousands of "guest workers" and the millions of "legal" immigrants struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis.

This only reinforces the "good immigrant/bad immigrant" divide that undocumented youth themselves have been tirelessly repudiating for years. Worse still, it will make the eventual inclusion of an interminable "pathway to citizenship" seem like a victory wrested from the jaws of xenophobic reaction. In reality, it is an insidious bid by capital to assert greater control over a highly precarious, mobile and increasingly active undocumented population.

The incredible amount of anti-deportation organizing around the country shines a beacon of light during these dark times. However, corporate liberals will seek to harness this grassroots energy by essentially insisting that "good immigrants" have the right to stay and be super-exploited as a legally vulnerable workforce. A truly anti-racist and progressive response, in contrast, would insist on the full and immediate "legalization" for all, while striving to abolish the exclusionary nature of national citizenship itself, and dismantle the walls that uphold it.

Liberal politicians can -- and must -- be pushed further to the left. Nonetheless, their hands are tied by the constitutionally enshrined rights of capitalist private property, so the struggle for true migrant and immigrant justice must ultimately serve as a key plank in a larger, mass-based movement to abolish this historically-transient form of social power.

 

 

Related Stories


Source: Why Corporate Democrats Do Not Support Immigrant Justice
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Inter Press Service - Labour / Robots, Unemployment ? and Immigrants
« Last post by Inter Press Service on Yesterday at 06:00:09 PM »
Robots, Unemployment ? and Immigrants

Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

The post Robots, Unemployment … and Immigrants appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Source: Robots, Unemployment ? and Immigrants
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Infoshop News / Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:00:52 AM »
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East

The Mesopotamian Ecology Movement (MEM) has been at the heart of Rojava?s democratic revolution since its inception. The Movement grew out of single-issue campaigns against dam construction, climate change, and deforestation, and in 2015 went from being a small collection of local ecological groups to a full-fledged network of ?ecology councils? that are active in every canton of Rojava, and in neighboring Turkey as well.
Source: Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
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Infoshop News / Should we give up half of the Earth to wildlife?
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:00:52 AM »
Should we give up half of the Earth to wildlife?

Populations of all kinds of wildlife are declining at alarming speed. One radical solution is to make 50% of the planet a nature reserve
Source: Should we give up half of the Earth to wildlife?
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Infoshop News / Gun Violence Has Dropped Dramatically in 3 States With Very Different Gun Laws
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:00:52 AM »
Gun Violence Has Dropped Dramatically in 3 States With Very Different Gun Laws

To have an honest, nonpartisan discussion about gun violence, we must look at what happened in New York, California, and Texas.
Source: Gun Violence Has Dropped Dramatically in 3 States With Very Different Gun Laws
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