The Hellhole – Week of 10/29

14 minute read

The spectre of socialism is haunting Seattle. Capitalism is a wraith sucking our city dry. Spectre > wraith. This week we have a story about the U.N., immigration, a potential … Read more

The spectre of socialism is haunting Seattle. Capitalism is a wraith sucking our city dry. Spectre > wraith. This week we have a story about the U.N., immigration, a potential city tax change, billionaire’s buckaroos, a shady D6 candidate, and the Google walkout. Enter the Hellhole …. 

Peasants Rights Declaration Passes!

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, after it had been resolved for adoption by the Human Rights Council. The resolution enshrines the rights and dignities deserved by global campesinxs but also enjoys support in Washington from organizers in Community to Community. The resolution upholds:

  • Food sovereignty and the idea that peasants have a right to self-determination
  • Access to clean water
  • The right to migrate and social security (including healthcare and housing)
  • The ability to retain, keep, and grow seeds and sell produce (both to ensure biodiversity and to stick it to biochemical conglomerates creating a monoculture that forces peasants out)

This represents decades worth of negotiations that aim, not merely for meager reforms, but to solidify the status of peasant workers. It is a bleak world out there for global migrants, due to reactionary, closed-border policies that curtail movement for work or escaping violence. It’s no wonder the likes of Trump and recent Brazilian President-elect Bolsonaro wish to withdraw from the UN. Their house of cards rests on the backs of the working poor and peasantry. That can’t stop workers. Farmworkers from Bellingham to Miami are saying “no” to the capitalist class!

First they came for Latinx immigrants…

Khmer Americans, like many immigrant populations, face brutal mass detentions at the hands of ICE. While eyes are on Trump’s deployment of military personnel to the border, mass detentions of immigrants from all over the world highlight a bind many face — they’re punished by their new country’s regime and extorted by the old.

If the capitalist states gets away with abusing one marginalized population, like South and Central American migrants, they will not stop. Like fascist-elect Bolsonaro or Trump, capitalists are grooming the masses to become predators. When boundaries erode, abuse becomes normal.

Trump’s desire to end birthright citizenship factors into this. The response was almost universal scorn, but within a day, right-wing politicians lined up to make it the new party position and Bezos’ paper lined-up with suggestions on getting it done. There’s money to be made in dehumanization. The overton window is shifting on exploitation.

Tax Wealth not Health

Councilmember Mosqueda proposed exempting menstrual hygiene products from sales tax. Councilmember Juarez followed up with exemptions on diapers. Hell yeah! One of the best moves by City Council this year.

Unfortunately, in a truly Seattle fashion, the obvious dignity of these measures must first undergo a feasibility / revenue impact study.

Kudos to our Councilmembers for fighting this regressive taxation on workers. However, the real culprit behind nickel-and-diming dignity is the bourgeois. Tax wealth not health!

Billionaire Wealth Grew 20% Richer in 2017. Wait – Did yours?

For all the B.S. of a roaring economy, few workers are feeling it. The United Bank of Scotland showed billionaire’s fortunes grew $1.4tn in 2017. Meanwhile, the median worker saw nothing like that. Mediocre raises were met with mediocre praise. With the bourgeoisie’s wealth tied to stocks, it’s no wonder the wealthy grew wealthier as the GOP tax scam was followed by stock buybacks and lower taxes on giant corporations.

The boss gets richer if you work for less than the person next to you. It’s why capitalists hate the minimum wage, which gradually smoothes wealth disparities and uplifts the poorest workers. Fairness doesn’t keep capitalists rich and powerful.

Your work produced that wealth. You deserve it. Period.

Rufo enters D6 Race: “The backlash is coming”.

We are getting an early preview of next year’s city council races. Christopher Rufo announced his candidacy for District 6 Seattle City Council and instantly raised $10K in 24 hours. The seat is currently occupied by friendly kayaktivist and national Sierra Club Board member Mike O’Brien who has taken the brunt of the Safe Seattle propaganda machine. There’s been a series of encounters between O’Brien and his constituents (covered extensively by C is For Crank) that exemplify the animosity that has emboldened Seattle’s most NIMBY-ist neighbors.

Rufo is a troubling example of what we can expect to see in council races across the city next Spring. He scrubbed his website, Twitter and Facebook pages clean but some people are keeping receipts.

He claims to be a centrist. So what are Rufo’s positions on rolling back anti-union laws, increasing the minimum wage, bike lanes, and tilting taxes away from the wealthy? He’s against all of it. Charter schools and free parking for wealthy homeowners? He’s fully for that. Needle exchanges and healthier Seattleites? He doesn’t do drugs, thank you.

Rufo spends his time as a shill for the blog of the right-wing think tank The Manhattan Institute (same place that brought us Jacob Vigdor, author of the anti-$15 minimum wage study). While there, he waxes poetically about things like the head tax and being tough on citizens.

Rufo: “I’ve heard at least a dozen neighbors, friends, and colleagues whisper that “Seattle needs a Giuliani”—that is, the city needs to recognize that, in addition to public programs, we need to get tough on street homelessness and enforce the law. There’s a limit to progressivism, even in America’s most progressive city. The backlash is coming.

Elsewhere online, it’s easy to find more examples of his empathy.

More about Rufo: He’s a Discovery Institute Research Fellow. What is the Discovery Institute?

They are a politically conservative non-profit think tank, based in Seattle, who advocate the concept of intelligent design and want it taught in public high school science courses. Fun.

Additionally, Rufo is a fellow with the hard right Claremont Institute which is an organization that fought against marriage equality, denied climate change, and fosters ties with white nationalists.

Please watch this race closely. This is will likely be a template of what to expect from self proclaimed centrist candidates to come.

Google Solidarity

Yesterday, Google workers across the globe walked off the job to protest how the company covered up sexual assault and harassment at their company. As covered by the Times, Andy Rubin (creator of Android, apparently) received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after the company concluded that sexual “misconduct” accusations against were credible.

Those walkouts also took place here in Seattle.

While the Rubin affair may have been the catalyst, Googlers in their own words said that the culture is prevalent, and those problems are just some of many. They’re calling for

  • An end to Forced Arbitration
  • A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity
  • A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report
  • A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct

Seattle DSA stands in solidarity with Google’s workers walking off the job .

Every worker should feel safe. Tech workers are still workers who need to fight back and organize together.

Note: The Seattle Hellhole represents the views of its writers and does not represent official positions of Seattle DSA at large. Its writers are a collective working on independent pieces, editing, and design to deliver this each week. If you want to volunteer, join us in #communications on Slack or email [email protected]