The New Poor People’s Campaign, of which Dr. Liz Theoharis and Dr. William Barber are National Co-Chairs, does not just commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign; it is a New Poor People’s Campaign for today. Never has such a Campaign been more needed. And the Co-Chairs are eminently qualified to make this a national and historic movement. The Rev. Dr. Barber, who wrote the Foreword to Theoharis’ book, comes from the North Carolina NAACP where he created a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-everything movement of the poor in their own interest. The Rev. Dr. Theoharis has spent the last two decades of her life organizing among the poor in the United States and worldwide. Together, they have travelled through more than 20 states, organizing among the poor.Read More
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.Read More
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. So just introducing that framework is an important intervention in the movement landscape. As well, we shift from the common community organizing model of identifying local, winnable issues and instead start with an analysis of multiple systems and work to build a movement with broad goals and a shared analysis. That shared analysis enables the poor to be organized as a social force.Read More
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 among poor and working class people in Pennsylvania. It is leading a “health care is a human right” campaign and has been involved in the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. 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.Read More
The University of the Poor seeks to identify and develop leaders of the poor and dispossessed in order to build the unity of that 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 will experience poverty at some point in their lives. Those are the people we aim to unite.Read More
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. Either we’re dealing with a teddy bear or we’re dealing with a grizzly bear, and either estimate will determine a different set of tactics and correspondently a different organizing approach. If you think you’re dealing with a teddy bear and in reality it’s a grizzly bear coming at you, you’re going to be in trouble. So an exact estimate of the situation has to be where you begin. This involves a tremendous amount of intellectual work to effectively and efficiently guide the practical work of particularly the poor organizing the poor.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More