Journal

The University of the Poor is now publishing an online journal.

The mission of the University of the Poor is to unite and develop leaders committed to the unity of the poor and dispossessed across all lines of division so as to build a broad-based and powerful movement to end poverty. The role the University of the Poor Journal is to develop collaborative research, robust debate, and resources to advance that mission.

The Journal will include articles on theoretical and political questions presenting themselves as the revolutionary movement develops under new conditions. It will consider the strategic questions facing our class and carry articles analyzing current political developments in the U.S. and internationally. The Journal hopes to become a center for discussion of various strategic projections in the revolutionary movement.

We invite all who agree with the general principles in the University of the Poor concept paper to contact us and consider contributing to the Journal.

Digital Capital Is Still Capital, And There Is Nothing About It That Marx Would Enjoy

Tim W. Shenk

This article was written based on a discussion in the University of the Poor Political Economy group on Ryan Avent’s June 2018 article, “A Digital Capital That Marx Might Enjoy” published in MIT Technology Review. This article is a product of the collective intelligence of the UPoor Political Economy group, reflecting the comments of the group’s members. 

On the topic of digital technology and automation, the business world has woken up to concerns that organized auto workers in Detroit have been raising since the 1970s.

Digital technology and artificial intelligence have revolutionized the way business is done in every major industry. Technology no longer simply reduces the need for human labor in production and circulation. In many cases, computers and robots replace people altogether.

Labor-replacing technology has transformed industries from Southern agriculture to Northern manufacturing since the middle of last century, with the mechanical cotton picker and the mechanization of auto plants as two examples. Read more “Digital Capital Is Still Capital, And There Is Nothing About It That Marx Would Enjoy”

Taking Action Together

Interview with Emily McNeill and Claudia de la Cruz

The following interview was conducted by Alicia Swords of the University of the Poor Journal with Emily McNeill of the Labor-Religion Coalition and Claudia de la Cruz of the Popular Education Project. Emily and Claudia were co-chairs of the New York State Poor People’s Campaign Coordinating Committee during the Campaign’s launch in 2018. Currently, the NYS Campaign is working to cultivate leadership and strengthen regional committees following the National Emergency Freedom School Bus Tour in April 2019. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Alicia: One of the goals of our movement is to develop the leadership of the poor as a social force.  What is the significance of the Poor People’s Campaign: a National Call for Moral Revival (PPC) in developing the leadership of the poor as a social force?

 Emily: There are not many movements or organizations that explicitly name the poor at all, nor are they specific about the need to organize the poor as a social force. Read more “Taking Action Together”

Leadership Across Difference

An interview with leaders from Put People First! PA

The following interview was conducted with Put People First! PA’s Nijmie Dzurinko, Phil Wider and Borja Gutiérrez. PPF is a statewide membership organization led by poor and dispossessed working class people in Pennsylvania. It is leading a Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign and is a leader in the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC). In this interview we discuss PPF’s role in the Poor People’s Campaign and how they are building unity among the working class. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

UPoor: What are the ways that it makes sense for Put People First to be involved in the Poor People’s Campaign? Where is there alignment between the Campaign and Put People First?

Nijmie: We objectively see the strategy of the Poor People’s Campaign as the strategy of Put People First and the strategy of Put People First as the strategy of the Poor People’s Campaign. Read more “Leadership Across Difference”

The Capitalist Class & the Council on Foreign Relations

Based on a presentation by Bruce Edwards .

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The University of the Poor seeks to identify and develop leaders of the poor and dispossessed in order to build the unity of our class. By dispossessed, we mean those who do not own private property: factories, plants, stores, banks, farms, etc. All we own is personal property: cars, TVs, furniture, perhaps a house, etc. The poor – if you count everyone at or below twice the “official” poverty line – are about 48 percent (nearly half) of the population of the United States. Four out of five – 80 percent – of the population may experience poverty at some point in their lives. Read more “The Capitalist Class & the Council on Foreign Relations”

You Only Get What You’re Organized to Take!

An Interview with Willie Baptist

by John Wessel-McCoy

Willie Baptist and John Wessel-McCoy are Co-Coordinators of Poverty Scholarship and Leadership Development at the Kairos Center. *  The following article is a revised version of an interview first produced in June 2009 entitled, It’s Not Enough to Be Angry, published in Organizing Upgrade.  

John Wessel-McCoy: In your experience of the poor organizing the poor, where do we begin?  

Willie Baptist: Like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out, “”The prescription for the cure rests with the accurate diagnosis of the disease.”

Any approach to social change, organizing and leadership development has to be based on an accurate assessment of the situation, on an accurate analysis of the problem you aim to solve.  If you have one assessment or a certain diagnosis of the disease to be cured, you’re going to have a particular prescription and a particular approach to the solution. Read more “You Only Get What You’re Organized to Take!”

The 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution

November 7, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. This revolution is significant because it was the first time in history that the property-less, the most oppressed and exploited people of a country, seized and held political power for an extended period of time. That political power was used to seize the wealth and property of the capitalists and landowners who had been driving the people of the Russian empire into semi-slavery. Those of us who possess nothing, and are forced to fight every day just to survive, look to the lessons of the Russian Revolution and other instances in history where the poor have risen up in revolution and won political power. The poor have made history in the past. We need to study that history and use what we learn to make history again.

We can see how the early Russian revolutionaries prepared themselves and participated in the revolutionary process in Russia. Read more “The 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution”

Anarcho – Syndicalism or Class Struggle

By Nacho Gonzalez

This is an executive summary of a forthcoming article.

Purpose

The influence of Anarchism and Syndicalism has a long history in the American Left. Anarchism as a doctrine has been in existence since the early 1800’s. As capitalism evolved into imperialism in the late 1800’s a new anarchist trend developed: Anarcho-Syndicalism, a fusion of anarchism and trade unionism, which relegated the working class to the economic arena and denied a role for political struggle.

Today syndicalism is once again very strong in the revolutionary movement, witness identity politics and single-issue organizing for example. This doctrine obscures the class struggle and confuses it. Thus hindering the working class from utilizing its best weapon against the system of capitalism – the class struggle.

Specific form in U.S.

In the 1960’s a new form of Anarcho-Syndicalism arose. Previously Anarcho-Syndicalism was trade unionism. Now Anarcho-Syndicalism would be applied to the social struggles of the African Americans, Chicanos, Women’s Movement and other oppressed peoples. Read more “Anarcho – Syndicalism or Class Struggle”

The Revolutionary Process Today: Science and Doctrine

By Lenny Brody

As the crisis of international capitalism continues to develop, and a growing number of countries enter into political crisis, revolutionaries around the world turn to the body of knowledge known as Marxism for guidance in the fight of the working class. However, the confusion and merger of various aspects of Marxism has led to a disorientation of many revolutionaries. Some “Marxists” live in a world of abstractions, with little connection to the revolutionary process. Other “Marxists” run after every protest and expression of the “class struggle” without any strategic conception of the general motion and goals of the revolutionary process.

Historical Materialism and Doctrine

Marxist philosophy is dialectical materialism. When the dialectical materialist method is applied to the study of society the result is the science of society known as historical materialism. Marxist science, historical materialism is distinct from Marxist doctrine. Much of what was written by Marx, Engels, Lenin and others fall under the category of doctrine. Read more “The Revolutionary Process Today: Science and Doctrine”

U.S. Conjunctural Analysis

Introduction

We are in a new phase of imperialism ushered in by the 2008 financial crisis. US power is in decline. The most stalwart voice for Western Imperialism, The British magazine The Economist, noted in its September 17, 2016 Leader, that today’s rise of tech oligopolies and their avoidance of taxes etc. has cast the shadow of “1917 and all that”! How fitting that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Great October Revolution!

The workers and dispossessed of the world suffered a defeat and crisis that was symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The international agenda of 1990’s was dominated by US capitalist hegemony under the guise of neoliberal globalization. There were subsequent critical articulations against the US proposal to dominate the South: most notably the World Social Forum and subsequent People’s Movements Assemblies (fully supported, it should be noted, by Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution). Read more “U.S. Conjunctural Analysis”

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