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April 2000 was a month--one month in a whole year of struggle and a whole semester of action--which, for many of us, may go down in history not as the cruelest month but as a month of marvels--a month when a certain kind of pilgrimage was made, a month when we realized, as Tom Paine put it 200 years before I was born, that we have it in our power to begin the world over again.
Across the country, students sat in and camped out at colleges and universities in support of sweatshop workers, labor unions, and the participation of students in the governance of their own schools. Take heed!!! Read all about the University of Iowa Sit-In (and my arrest) and other action across the coutry--but, most importantly, learn why we're doing all this. It's all--or mostly--here.
from an essay by Alexander Cockburn in the LA Times (4/20/00)
What we've seen in Seattle at the end of last year and now, less dramatically, in Washington is the flowering of a new radical movement in America, rambunctious, anarchic, internationalist, well-informed and in some ways more imaginative and supple than kindred radical eruptions in earlier decades.
There's a new student activism too, markedly different from the gender and identity concerns of the early 1990s. Across the United States, campuses are being organized by Students United Against Sweatshops, bringing in speakers from Global Exchange; the garment workers' union; and Jeff Ballinger's Press for Change.
What's different about this new movement? It's anti-corporate, but in a manner far more specific than older railings about "international capital." We live in the age of the brand name, and so we see well-informed campaigns against specific companies like Nike, the Gap, Monsanto. The movement is well-informed and internationalist, a tribute to the powers of the Internet. It's antagonistic to both the Republican and Democratic parties. This summer will see big demonstrations at both party conventions, in Philadelphia as well as Los Angeles.
Perry Anderson, editor of New Left Review, declares with gloomy relish in that journal that "the only starting point for a realistic Left today is a lucid registration of historical defeat." Yet as I read these dour lines, news comes over the radio of a tree-sit in a section of the Headwaters redwood forest in Humboldt County. A young woman called Firebird, at time of this writing, is tree-sitting 40 feet up in the air. She's fixed up a rope with a noose around her neck and the other end tied to a gate on the ground. If the loggers or their allies launch an attack, Firebird is in imminent danger of being hanged.
Firebird represents the will and, let's face it, the optimism of the new radical movement. Hurrah for her and for others like her who battled the WTO to a standstill in Seattle last fall and who reprised in Washington last weekend. Hurrah for optimism!
SIX DAYS IN APRIL
Read the updates I wrote from the occupation of Jessup Hall, the central administration building here at the University of Iowa.
University of Iowa Students Against Sweatshops
The webpage of UI's SAS chapter, with pictures from events, press releases, news articles, downloads of the petition, and loads of links and educational information. Check it out!
United Students Against Sweatshops
The USAS webpage, a Mecca for student activists and their friends at 175 colleges and universities across the US and Canada.
Nike a Sell-Out?
A tiny little commentary I wrote on one of Phil Knight's press releases.
I think they're getting scared.
Why I'm Not Sorry I Voted for Nader
Just in case you were wondering.
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