Spring 2019 Special Topics Course: Economic Democracy & System Change (M 6:15-8:45pm)

Evan Casper-Futterman and Michael Menser

  • URB 651- Special Topics: Economic Democracy and System Change Class
  • LABR 669 – Special Topics: Economic Democracy and System Change Class
  • And cross listed at the Grad Center, Earth and Environmental Science Dept.

Discussions around economic democracy and economic “alternatives” often focus on either firm-level changes like cooperative ownership structures, or focus on high-level, abstract conceptual shifts from “capitalism” or “neoliberalism” to some “next system”. Where do system transformation and the transformation of daily life intersect and interact? How do we join the urgent need for institutional redesign and reconstruction to the present day political movements and structures available to us today?

In this class we will look at mechanisms and visions for democratizing the economy, politics, and social life. We will investigate democratic forms of ownership, management, production, and consumption and the institutional and political conditions needed for them to flourish and scale.  Perspectives discussed include solidarity economy, community wealth building, P2P, co-city, new municipalism, energy democracy, commons, climate justice. Processes and forms include participatory budgeting, green new deal, cooperatives, platform cooperativism, reparations, community land trusts, federal job guarantee, public bank, green transition.  Sectors include healthcare, climate change adaptation, advanced manufacturing, public utilities in energy, water and broadband. Readings will draw from multiple disciplines, and include scholarship, policy, and dispatches from activists and practitioners past and present including Kali Akuno, Sylvia Federici, Sheila Foster, Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, Paul Mason, Nathan Schneider, and many others.

Video: Blue Wave or Red Tide?

On Friday, October 16th, our community came together to process the midterm results and where the major parties — and labor — go from here. Was it a blue wave? Maybe. A red tide? Decidedly not.

In an electoral season in which the sitting presidential administration has loomed large, what do the elections tell us about the current political landscape, especially with regard to racial, gender and class voting patterns? What do the contemporary Democratic and Republican Parties stand for? What are the challenges and possibilities that face people and organizations committed to social and economic justice?

The conversation featured John Nichols, national affairs correspondent at The Nation; Esther Kaplan, editor at The Investigative fund; and SLU distinguished lecturer Basil Smikle. The panel was moderated by Daryl Khan, director of the Urban Reporting Program at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

New Labor Forum Highlights: November 20th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

With this installment of New Labor Forum Highlights, we offer two important articles from the current issue of the journal, as well as two poems you won’t want to miss.

We’ve all heard Donald Trump denounce the “deep state”, yet seen him people his administration with generals, CIA mandarins, and hedge fund operators. An article here by Jacob Silverman probes the origins of the “deep state” in the National Security Act of 1947, chronicles its imperial mission abroad, and maps the division of labor between its foreign and domestic policy apparatchiks. Silverman’s tracking of these mainly unelected centers of power should put to rest the tendency to see in these deep state institutions, long thebete noire of the left, a guarantor of civil liberties.

And first among countries able to count on the support of the “deep state” is, of course, Israel, despite that nation’s sustained human rights violations against the people who once inhabited the land it controls. An article by Andrew Ross tallies the immense labor contribution of Palestinians, particularly through their ongoing construction work to erect and expand the superstructure of Israel. Given not only the role of Palestinian labor in building the Israeli state, but also the fact that it’s been a compulsory and hyper-exploited labor force, Ross finds a strong case for labor-based reparations to Palestinians. Ross proposes that Palestinian labor contributions ought to provide a rationale for full citizenship rights, and perhaps other claims as well, should a multi-cultural integrated Israeli state ultimately emerge.

And we conclude with the work of Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008), and of American Jewish poet, Elana Bell. Darwish’s Identity Card became a protest anthem in the 1960s, triggering the Israeli government to place him under house arrest.  And Elana Bell, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, comes to grips with a land that is both a Zionist dream and an occupied state. Her poem, “There are things this poem would rather not say” bears witness to the labor debt Israelis owe the Palestinian people.  Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: November 20th, 2018

New Labor Forum Highlights: November 5th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

With perhaps the most important midterm elections in a generation happening tomorrow, we offer you: an invitation to join us in a post-election reporters roundtable on November 16th; a video from our September 14th forum, featuring the trenchant commentary of New York City Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson on whether a democratic capitalism is possible; midterm polling data that shows white working-class voters in the Midwest returning to the Democratic Party; and a summary of ballot measures in tomorrow’s elections that seek either to expand and further contract our democracy.

Table of Contents:

  1. Blue Wave or Red Tide? 2018 Post-Election Reporters Roundtable/CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
  2. Is a Democratic Capitalism Possible?/ J. Phillip Thompson, The Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
  3. Why are Democrats looking so strong in the Midwest?/ Perry Bacon Jr., FiveThirtyEight
  4. These are the biggest 2018 ballot measures on elections, voting rights, gerrymandering, and more/ Stephen Wolf, Daily Kos

Photo by Charlie Day vis flickr (cc-by-nd)

Event: Blue Wave or Red Tide? (11/16)

Fri, November 16th, 2018
8:30 AM – 10:30 AM EDT
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
25 W. 43rd Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10036

RSVP HERE

In an electoral season in which the sitting presidential administration has loomed large, what do the elections tell us about the current political landscape, especially with regard to racial, gender and class voting patterns? What do the contemporary Democratic and Republican Parties stand for? What are the challenges and possibilities that face people and organizations committed to social and economic justice? Continue reading Event: Blue Wave or Red Tide? (11/16)

CWA 1180 Features SLU History

The Communique is the CWA Local 1180 quarterly newspaper. And in the latest issue, the story of the SLU transition from the Murphy Institute to the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies was featured over three pages. Written by Marci Rosenblum, the pieces starts with the school’s origin days, when it was all just an idea:

The history of the Murphy Institute, now officially the CUNY
School of Labor and Urban Studies, goes back a long way — a
really long way — to the days when three labor leaders and two
academics sat down for a brainstorming session.

Check out the full article — and history — here.

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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