“To create is to resist. To resist is to create.”
Stéphane Hessel (1917-2013)
I learned this morning of the passing of Stéphane Hessel, World War II French Resistance fighter who authored Indignez-Vous! (Time for Outrage!), a manifesto to outraged, to act in face of often overwhelming injustices.
Hessel was interviewed by Democracy Now! (aired October 10, 2011) on Time for Outrage! and Occupy Wall Street:
Hessel, like other public intellectuals of his generation, gave voice to a sense of hope rooted in the horrific experiences of war and its aftermath. His writing, as well as the trajectory of his life embodied a sense of urgency to action in light of global crisis, be it war, attacks on human rights, man-made ecological disaster.
The standard by which we judge what is social responsibility is lowering. Social services, such as Medicare and social security benefits, should not be framed as “entitlements.” As Hessel so eloquently states, we all do better when we chose as societies to protect the rights of minorities, provide basic social and health services for everyone, when we think about economic development in terms of long-term environmental sustainability. Continue reading
Our union is at a critical juncture. The next year will be a pivotal moment in the TAA’s history. We have fought hard over the course of the last year against the attacks on our rights to have a voice in determining our working conditions and higher education funding in this state. Our union is still strong, but the fight is far from over. We need to get Scott Walker out of office this June and work to rebuild what the right-wing has dismantled in the past 16 months.
The university works because we do. We are the voice for graduate student employees and for all graduate students who desire tuition-remitting employment. As graduate assistants, we teach almost half of all the lectures, discussions and labs combined on campus and are integral to the university surpassing the $1 billion mark in research expenditures for the first time in 2010 (data from the UW-Madison Data Digest 2010-2011).
The fight back against cuts to higher education. At the same time that UW-Madison is ranked 27th among universities globally, in the past year we have seen unprecedented cuts to funding for the university’s basic educational mission. Within this context, we need to do a better job at articulating why we are better off advocating together for fair working conditions and draw connections to undergraduate learning.
It has been quite a year in Wisconsin and I am proud to have lived in these times. It has not been a moment to stand on the sidelines of history.
We have lost much but I believe over the course of the coming years will gain much more in terms of social progress. Here is an excerpt of a blog post I authored for Defend Wisconsin:
A year ago the system of social trust in Wisconsin began to come unraveled. Today marks the one-year anniversary of Gov. Walker’s announcement of the Budget Repair Bill, now Wisconsin Act 10, effectively ending 50 years of public sector collective bargaining rights.
I believed a year ago that we would “kill the bill.” I believed if we made our voices heard, we could appeal reason on the part of lawmakers. If we spoke about the hardships this bill would cause around the state for families, for students, for ordinary Wisconsinites that go to work everyday with faith in the system, our government would listen to us. Continue reading
As the semester has ended, I’ve had the occasion to read for pleasure. I picked-up a copy of Dorothy Day’s autobiography The Long Loneliness, which had sat on my bookshelf unread for quite some time. Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement in the 1930s and before that a journalist in the radical New York press during the 1920s, writes of journalism, labor rights and community. The first two of which provide useful lessons to movements against income inequality and for workers rights in 2011, nearly a hundred years after she started out as a reporter for the New York Call, a Socialist daily newspaper.
Day can be remembered today as a journalist who lived what she wrote of—feeding the hungry, walking picket lines with strikers, challenging Church hierarchy to embody its principles in the mist of the Great Depression and opposing all wars, no matter their genesis.
On journalism, she provides a picture of the importance of the press in its heyday:
We started publishing The Catholic Worker at 436 East Fifteenth Street in May 1933, with a first issue of 2,500 copies. Within three or four months the circulation bounded to 25,000, and it was cheaper to bring it out as an eight-page tabloid on newsprint rather than the smaller-sized edition on better paper we had started with. By the end of the year we had a circulation of 100,000 and by 1936 it was 150,000. It was certainly a mushroom growth. It was not only that some parishes subscribed for the paper all over the country in bundles of 500 or more. Zealous young people took the paper out in the streets and sold it, and when they could not sell it even at one cent a copy, they gave free copies and left them in streetcar, bus, barber shop and dentist’s office. We got letters from all parts of the country from people who said they had picked up the paper on trains, in rooming houses. (p. 182)
I recently wrote an letter to the editor of the Badger Herald, one of UW-Madison’s student newspapers, about why students should support the statewide drive to recall Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
In his short tenure as governor, Walker has attacked more than just the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. He has cut more than $315 million in funding to higher education, directly affecting learning on this campus. He has cut K-12 education to the tune of more than $2 billion, hurting Wisconsin’s youth before they even have a shot at getting here. He has cut assistance to the neediest in our state, by slashing BadgerCare. And the list goes on.
You can read more and learn how you can get involved in the recall effort between now and January on Defend Wisconsin.
In related news, Wisconsin led the nation in job losses for October. That’s not just proportionally but in raw numbers, leaving our state a long way off from the 250,000 jobs Walker campaigned on creating in the private sector.
So it’s a good thing for Wisconsin that United Wisconsin, the umbrella group collecting recall petitions, announced today that Wisconsinites (myself included) have collected more than 300,000 signatures in only 12 days. Let’s keep it up!