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Rainbows and Weddings: The Neoliberal and Imperialist Politics of LGBT Rights

by Mehlab Jameel
July 6, 2015

Just like the neoliberalization of LGBT rights, there is a specific history of how the LGBT movement was globalized. In her address to United Nations in December 2011 on the anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Hillary Clinton came out in support of the “global LGBT community” in a speech that declared gay rights as human rights. The then Secretary of State declared it a "violation of human rights" to commit violence or discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation. In an impassioned defense of such rights, Clinton called the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people "universal" and criticized nations that criminalize gay behavior or tolerate abuse of LGBT people.

In order to understand why the U.S. is at the forefront of the Gay Rights movement in world politics we need to locate it in the history of U.S. imperialism. The relation between empire and sexuality is a complex one, and before we attempt to find answers by dissecting this intersection between power, race, gender, and sexuality, it is important to ask the right questions. Why is there a need to universalize LGBT rights? What assumptions underlie a universal framework of LGBT rights and how do these emerge? Why is there an attempt to situate LGBT rights as a modern institution against an oppressive tradition?

Our Movement is Global

Alice Ragland interviewed by Against the Current
June 19, 2015

Against the Current: Although Black women have been central to the organizing of Black Lives Matter, it seems that the media focus on Black men and forgets the victimization that is imposed on Black women. How do you deal with this?

Alice Ragland: Ignoring the Black women who have been victimized is unacceptable. This is one of the many problems that make me feel as if I constantly have to choose between my race and my gender.

I deal with this by being vocal about the importance of including Black women in the discourse of violence against communities of color. Too often, people fall into a one-dimensional analysis of oppression. It’s either racism or sexism or class inequality that’s causing our problems, never a combination of various forms of oppression.

This is partially a result of the fact that U.S. society educates and socializes people to believe that everything exists in a vacuum and that nothing is connected. We need to start focusing on the inter-connectivity of race, gender, class, etc., because all of those factors are simultaneously influencing our lives at all times. Emphasizing the connectedness of these issues is a necessary step toward acknowledging intersectionality.

Black women have been invisible in these conversations because the compartmentalized way of thinking that is so prevalent in capitalist societies makes it difficult to grasp the concept of intersectionality...

Albert Woodfox and Gary Tyler: Unjustly Imprisoned in Louisiana

by David Finkel
June 17, 2015

As if to show the world that the state of Louisiana is a human rights dead zone, the release of Albert Woodfox after 43 years in solitary confinement--what the prison system calls “cell restriction”--was delayed while the state attorney general appeals a federal judge’s order. His release was ordered by judge James Brady, who ruled that Woodfox cannot be tried a third time in the 1972 fatal stabbing of a prison guard at the infamous Angola state prison.
Albert Woodfox.
Two previous convictions have been thrown out due to racial bias in grand jury selection.

The state’s contention that Woodfox, now 68 and in poor health, represents a “danger” if released is testimony to the vicious and cynical character of the prison system and the depravity of the bureaucrats who operate it. (For some background and history of the case see David Cole's article in the New Yorker.) Another prisoner at Angola, Gary Tyler, was sentenced to death at age 17, in 1975. A Destrehan high school student on a bus that was attacked by a racist mob, Tyler was convicted by an all-white jury in the shooting death of Timothy Weber, a white boy outside the bus. There was no evidence found on the bus (the alleged murder weapon disappeared from the evidence room) and his attorney was manifestly incompetent.

A national defense campaign put a spotlight on Gary Tyler, but when the Louisiana death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in 1977, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and ironically the outrage around the case faded....

Building Power through Electoral Efforts: Approaches to Independent Political Action

by Mike Parker
May 21, 2015

This article is based on a talk given by the author at the recent Future of Left/Independent Politics Electoral Action conference in Chicago, May 2-4, 2015.

Those of us who want to see progressive social change in America view electoral activity not as end by itself, but as an important tool. Electoral activities serve three purposes:


Mike Parker with posters from Richmond Progressive Alliance.
  1. Effecting change through the government or state. While we understand that government is not truly independent of the strong social forces in our society, it is also possible for a progressive movement to make limited advances by winning government office.

  2. Educationally using campaigns to get ideas across to the public.

  3. Increasing consciousness through struggle. We understand that being involved and taking ownership of a struggle opens people's minds to challenge previously held assumptions and ideas about who are real allies and real enemies, what is needed, and what is possible.

I want to look at the different models that have been discussed at this conference in terms of understanding their strengths and weaknesses with respect to these three uses...

A History of the Two-Party System: Part 4 (The Present)

by Mark Lause
May 13, 2015

As evidence for its validity or usefulness faded, “progressive” institutions, organizations, and ideologues have clung tenaciously to their one great dogma, rooted in the faith that the two-party system remains an eternal, ultimately unchallengeable reality. As with the most reactionary commentators, self-described “progressives“ projected their own failures on those who declined to make them. This dogma asserts that it is more damaging to progressive interest to challenge the two-party system than to accept the need to stay within it. The more the evidence demonstrates that their own dogmatism has produced only bleak disasters, the more they ascribe those disasters to those who rejected their groundless faith-based strategy of “working within the Democratic Party.”

The realities of electoral politics changed radically in the 20 years since Reagan’s deregulation of the media. The same corporate media transformed itself into what observers called a public affairs entertainment programming. Not only did cable television become endemic, but the growth of the internet has also helped provide new citizen-consumers with the power to choose the most comforting bits and pieces to structure their own sense of reality. This made politics increasingly a conflict of hallucinations. In lieu of a debate over issues or even substantive values—matters of war and peace or global warming—“news” highlights what maximizes viewership (and advertising revenues).

July 6, 2015
by Mehlab Jameel
Just like the neoliberalization of LGBT rights, there is a specific history of how the LGBT movement was globalized. In her address to United Nations in December 2011 on the anniversary of Universal...
June 19, 2015
Alice Ragland interviewed by Against the Current
Against the Current: Although Black women have been central to the organizing of Black Lives Matter, it seems that the media focus on Black men and forgets the victimization that is imposed on Black...
June 17, 2015
by David Finkel
As if to show the world that the state of Louisiana is a human rights dead zone, the release of Albert Woodfox after 43 years in solitary confinement--what the prison system calls “cell...
May 21, 2015
by Mike Parker
This article is based on a talk given by the author at the recent Future of Left/Independent Politics Electoral Action conference in Chicago, May 2-4, 2015.
Those of us who want to see progressive...
May 13, 2015
by Mark Lause
As evidence for its validity or usefulness faded, “progressive” institutions, organizations, and ideologues have clung tenaciously to their one great dogma, rooted in the faith that the two-party...

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