Karen's Cancer

Karen’s Cancer

Karen was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, in March 2008. She had surgery, then radiation and chemotherapy. There followed many visits to doctors, first every three months, then every six months. Finally, three weeks ago, Karen’s doctor said that, barring some sudden change in health, she now has to return just once a year. […]

One Nation, One World

One Nation, One World

 Counterpunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair’s essay, “The Silent Death of the American Left,” succinctly discusses the absence of a left-wing presence and activism in the face of myriad social and ecological disasters.* Somewhat surprisingly, this straightforward account elicited sharp criticism—St. Clair’s pessimism was unwarranted and a sign of an intellectual pathology of defeatism, especially in […]

Gas "Frackers" Come to a School District's Rescue?

Gas "Frackers" Come to a School District's Rescue?

Two schools, one a vocational technical high school and the other an elementary school, sit on tracts of land a few blocks from the house in which I grew up, in Ford City (Armstrong County), Pennsylvania.* The communities served by them are, for the most part, not particularly prosperous. Household incomes, wages, home prices, rents, […]

Who Will Lead the U.S. Working Class

  This essay* is based upon an interrogation of two books: Gregg Shotwell, Autoworkers Under the Gun: A Shop-Floor View of the End of the American Dream (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012), 200 pages, $17.00, paperback, and Jane McAlevey with Bob Ostertag, Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting For the Labor Movement (New York: […]

Cades Cove: History Is So Much Fun!

Cades Cove: History Is So Much Fun!

While visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we spent a day at Cades Cove. Twenty-seven miles west of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and once a thriving farming community, it is now the park’s major tourist attraction, receiving more than two million visitors each year. We enjoyed the trip between the town and the Cove, on a narrow […]

Mike Yates and Bruce Williams in 1972

Bruce and Mike

Bruce Williams was my best friend for nearly all the years I was a teacher. Although he wasn’t happy when I told him I was retiring, I knew that we would keep in close contact from wherever I traveled.  Then, suddenly and sadly, he died, twelve years ago, on March 27, 2001. For awhile afterward, […]

OWS and the Importance of Political Slogans

OWS and the Importance of Political Slogans

 Radical political movements always employ slogans that encapsulate in a few powerful words the aspirations of those fighting for a new world. The French revolutionaries fought under the banner, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” words that still resonate with radicals. The first words of the U.S. Constitution—“We the People”—have quickened the hearts of generations of populist activists. […]

Why Is Our Work So Meaningless?

Why Is Our Work So Meaningless?

 Workers in a hospital are sick of management violating their collective bargaining agreement. Their work is ever more stressful: hours keep getting longer; patient loads rise; safety rules are ignored. They tell their union steward that it is time to bombard the bosses with grievances before they explode in rage. He tells them, “You better […]

Oliver Stone, Obama, and the War in Vietnam

Oliver Stone, Obama, and the War in Vietnam

 Oliver Stone’s Showtime series, Untold History of the United States, is the most radical mainstream television I have ever watched. Eye-opening scenes, shocking speech by our presidents, splendid narration by Stone, all make for a compelling series. A 700-page book by Stone and historian Peter Kuznick accompanies the ten-part program; it provides greater detail and […]