Views in brief

June 20, 2017

More uniting to fight the right

IN RESPONSE to "Portland stands united against far-right hate": It seems like now would be a good time to try and build a national anti-racism campaign in the vain of Kerfa in Greece or Stand up to Racism in the UK.

Having just moved to Portland, it was heartening but bewildering to see so many different groups at May Day. I counted close to 100. I hope that Portland stands against hate is successful, but perhaps a campaign that specifically calls out racism and fascism (and makes the distinction clear) would be a powerful unifying idea.

The recent murders by Jeremy Christian have really shocked everyone I meet, and people are looking for answers and actions. While it is great that the mayor would turn up and stand against "hate," it would be interesting to see if he would directly confront the racism that led to these two men losing their lives.
Sean, Portland, Oregon

Capitalism and colonialism in Tibet

IN RESPONSE to "For Tibet against its oppressors": Thank you for the well-researched article! I'm wondering if you could address the question of colonialism more specifically, in terms of its relation to capitalist exploitation, and to the institution of the nation-state that stabilizes capitalism.

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Unlike the extractive regimes of European colonial empires, which directly profited a lot from the colonies, China does lose a lot of money controlling Tibet with its massive security apparatus and so-called "welfare projects" for the Tibetans (like the shoddy housing you mentioned), much more than whatever it profits from controlling Tibet (at least for now, and definitely for the past few decades, when there were few extractive industries in Tibet).

It seems to me that it is rather Chinese nationalism at play, this fixed image of a nation-state that sees China as an indivisible unity encompassing Tibet, Xinjiang, etc., and which must be defended from "hostile forces."

And of course, the nation-state is an institution that helps to stabilize capitalism--as we know. Chinese nationalism/jingoism (of which there's a lot these days) takes away the focus from issues of capital and labor, and "threats to the motherland" are used as pretexts to crack down on activists.

The colonialism we see in Tibet is related to this nationalistic conception of the Chinese "motherland," and to the nation-state as a violent institution that secures (and securitizes) territory at all costs. This is somewhat different from the colonialism of European powers, which sometimes bartered territories with each other, and which were forced to (formally) decolonize (albeit with lots of resistance, of course) when their financial situation with overseas colonies became untenable.

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

I would think Palestine would be a much closer parallel, whereby the current Israeli colonial apparatus is driven by this millenarian idea of a Jewish state from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea. You have the same checkpoints as in Tibet, the same restrictions to movement and heavy-handed security apparatuses, and the same division of the colonized into "good" and "bad" ones.

Of course, settler-colonialism hasn't proceeded to the same extent in Tibet as it has in Palestine, and maybe some liberal Zionists would tell you they can get on without the West Bank.

But in both cases, the colonialism cannot be economistically reduced to extractivism and capitalist expropriation the way European colonial empires could perhaps be. The Chinese and Israeli governments perhaps both lose more than they gain (e.g., from Soda Stream or selling weapons).

I'm not saying there's no connection to capitalism--there absolutely is, and it lies in the nation-state, in nationalism. I think a critique of Chinese colonialism in Tibet should also implicate a critique of the nation-state as a violent institution that securitizes territory and populations--the Chinese thinking they could buy off Tibetan herders with shoddy high-rise flats in ghost towns, etc.--and that props up capitalism.
X Guan, New York City

The transit system we deserve

IN RESPONSE to "New York subways reach the breaking point": This article on the state of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) comes at a pivotal point in the need for a massive shot of investment to keep the system running.

I do wish the author had done a little more research into current campaigns to deal with the ongoing lack of commitment from the state, and the most recent push by such organizations as the Riders Alliance toward half-price Metrocards in light of the most recent fare increase this past March.

Riders in New York have the power to help plan and create a transformative transit system that more fully connects us to one another if we can envision it.
MLH, Brooklyn, New York

Has anything changed at UPS?

IN RESPONSE to "Why isn't UPS on trial?": Three years later now, and why isn't UPS on trial? Everyone is scared of them is why.

I fought those bastards for 30 years. I witnessed more violence than anyone would even think possible in this country, let alone at a company like UPS. I worked in another state, but it seems to not matter where you are, conditions are the same.

Personally, I always wondered why the post office got all of the negative publicity about workplace violence. For the most part, I thought perhaps having the union gave us a little more leeway to express our frustration and cuss a little and not be punished for it. I once witnessed a supervisor locked into an empty trailer to baste in the heat, only to be rescued by his fellow supervisors.

Shortly after I retired, a supervisor threw a computer system at an employee in front of customers at the building. Eventually, they settled in court and relocated the supervisors--which is the UPS way.

Maybe all these years later, we need a follow-up on UPS workplace violence to see how UPS is doing. I'm told that with all the technology now, drivers are monitored and harassed for things as small as time spent idling and how far they back up to a dock.
Rick James, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Mahwah residents are fighting, too

IN RESPONSE to "Ramapough Lenape make a stand": This article does not fairly represent the facts.

I am a resident who has been fighting the pipeline for over three years. Mahwah has been a leader in opposing Pilgrim--the town passed an ordinance banning unregulated hazardous materials pipelines. It also passed the first wellhead protection act in Bergen County and is passing a more stringent version of that ordinance.

Mahwah was also key in forming the Municipal Pipeline Group, a coalition of 15 towns that contributed funds to retain the law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck to work on the revised ordinance and provide legal support in the effort to stop Pilgrim.

We welcome the tribe's recent support in opposing the pipeline, but be clear: this issue between the town and the tribe is not a pipeline issue. This is not Standing Rock. This is a land-use issue.

We hope that all the parties involved can come a satisfactory agreement that respects the landowner's rights and the land. But do not misrepresent that fact that the township of Mahwah would in any way want to keep the tribe from opposing the pipeline.
Anne Powley, Mahwah, New Jersey