Author Archives: Jay Cassano

Court rules against Columbia’s eminent domain

Quick follow-up to my post from a year and a half ago: today a state court ruled against Columbia’s attempted use of Eminent Domain to seize control of property from minority business owners in Harlem as well as their insidious claim that the neighborhood was “blighted.”


The Young and the Leftless

This is a document written by a few young members of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. I don’t really have many thoughts on the document, other than that I think it’s pretty sound all in all. I don’t know that much about Freedom Road, to be honest, since they’re primarily based on the West Coast. But they seem pretty decent for considering themselves inheritor’s of Maoism – looks like they picked most of the right ideas to hold onto and most of the right ones to get rid of. It definitely has a good take on the status on the Left in the U.S., especially from the perspective of the generation born right around when the Soviet Union “collapsed”. We never knew orthodox Marxism, but we knew that we are the inheritors of it and that there was something about it that rubbed us the wrong way. I’d be curious to hear other people’s thoughts though. (Please note: I had no part in writing what is posted below.)

Read the original document on Freedom Road’s website.

The following letter, written by young members of FRSO/OSCL, is an attempt to bridge the generation gap on the question of organization. In our years of work in mass movements and Left organizations, we have found that the questions, and the challenges, posed by young people are quite different from those of our movement elders. This letter is written as a supplement to Which Way Is Left? in the hopes that it will encourage more young people to participate in the conversation on organization and what we need to build a revolutionary movement. Please read it, distribute it, and let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment on our blog.
youngandleftless-logo.pngA Struggle Paper. That’s what our elders in the movement would have called what you are about to read. But not a lot of young folks use the words “Struggle Paper,” so consider this a love letter. It’s a poignant prod at the sectarians and a come hither nod at the independents. It’s a potluck discussion and a midnight session, and if we could play something hot in the background while you read this, we would. It’s a challenge, because we love you, to think about what it’s going to take to actually start building a revolutionary movement in the belly of the baddest beast this Earth has seen. We’ve got some thoughts about ORGANIZATION, and we want to know what y’all think. Continue reading

March 12 Palestine Update


Palestine Update, 1


In late February, almost two weeks ago, Israel launched a five day offensive into the Gaza strip. In these five days, over 120 Palestinians were killed, the majority of them civilians. The incursion was reportedly in response to rockets being fired at Israeli towns and settlements from Gaza by Hamas. Hamas has stated it has been firing rockets in protest of the siege on Gaza and the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine.

To put the siege on Gaza in some perspective, Amnesty International has recently released a report detailing that Gaza is in its worst condition since the Occupation of Palestine began in 1967. 1.1 Million Gazans, or three fourths of the population, depend on humanitarian aid just to survive. The number of refugees has increased tenfold since 1999, even straining the special UN organization established specifically to deal with Palestinian refugees. Average household incomes have dropped 22% in the last four months alone. 70% of all households earn less than $1.20 per capita daily. Unemployment is at 40% in the Gaza strip. These facts are all direct affects of the blockades and border restrictions Israel has placed on Gaza. As a result of this humanitarian crisis, the UN appeal for humanitarian aid to Gaza is the third largest in the world this year after Sudan and Congo, at 462 million dollars. That amount of humanitarian aid of course being a fraction of the 2.5-3 billion dollars that the United States gives to Israel in aid, over a third of it specified as military aid. Continue reading

Ivy League Imperialism

Originally aired on February 27, 2008.

When I was taking the bus into New York City a week ago, I saw one of those huge posters plastered to the side of a building just as we were getting into the city. The poster read:

Columbia University:

The West Harlem Community knows how to share.

Why don’t you?

Stop threatening eminent domain.

Intrigued, I followed the website provided at the bottom of the poster. There I found a story that didn’t surprise me as much as I wish it would have. Columbia University wants to expand its property in West Harlem community to build a new bio-research lab so that it can continue to compete with other Ivy League Universities. In media released by the University or entities sympathetic to the expansion, the West Harlem community is portrayed as run-down industrial area that is a “blight” on Manhattan. It neglects the fact that this community happens to be a vibrant community with one of the lowest crime rates in the city. Continue reading

Demonstration in Boston in Solidarity with the Zapatistas

Originally aired on February 13, 2008

On this past Monday (February 11th) there was a demonstration in sympathy with the Zapatista Movement against the Mexican President Felipe Calderon held in Boston. Calderon was invited to speak at the Harvard Business School. It was a nice homecoming for Calderon, who was trained how to wage war against popular movements by Harvard’s JFK School of Government, where he received his Masters of Public Administration.

There were a number of radical leftist groups that put out a call for some sort of demonstration against Calderon’s visit to Boston. Among those groups were the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement, the Mayday Coalition, Harvard Students for a Democratic Society, and the Socialist Party USA. There were of course also sympathetic groups of liberals as well as the anti-immigrant right-wingers that held their own demonstrations on Monday.

But the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement (BAAM, for short) held its demonstration for a very different reason. BAAM has been placing a lot of focus and using a lot of energy on solidarity work with the people’s revolutions in Mexico: the popular movements in Oaxaca and the autonomous Zapatista communities in Chiapas. But BAAM has also been doing a lot of work in the poorer suburbs of Boston where Harvard has been secretly buying up real estate so that it can expand its campus. So BAAM members see a parallel between Harvard’s imperialism in their own backyard and Mexico’s imperialism in the indigenous lands of Chiapas. Continue reading