Ever notice how nice and professionally done all those signs used by liberal protesters look? For what are supposed to be authentic grass roots movements, their placards are as uniform and corporate as anything sold at the big box retailers they dislike. That’s what led me on a quick little journey.
The internet is an amazing thing. Initially, I’d planned to use it to try and answer a simple question: do workers that print those protest signs make more or less than the left’s cherished $15 an hour? So I read some of those signs; notably the smaller print most often found towards the bottom. I found the name:
“People’s Power Assemblies”
The “People’s Power Assemblies” is something of a Wal-Mart for leftist protesters. There are densely written paragraphs about “the struggle” – never “the solution” but always “the struggle” mind you – and talk of “overthrowing” things and replacing them with you guessed it, “People’s Power Assemblies” locally and nationally. Evidently these assemblies would produce utopia on Gaia by using direct, popular democracy to address social ills real and imagined. There of course is no mention of the fact that much of the old Soviet system was premised on this model, or that direct democracy – four wolves and two hens voting on dinner – is synonymous with totalitarian rule. There are pre-approved slogans for protesters to chant. And there’s even a section where signage can be downloaded for the do-it-yourself types.
I also found a phone number:
A simple internet search revealed several interesting things about this phone number:
– It’s attributed to two street addresses, 39 W 14th Street and 147 W 24th Street, both in Manhattan.
– Rent for both New York addresses is on the pricey side – easily in excess of $6,000 per month for around 2,500 square feet of office space.
– An impressively tangled web of far left organizations calls both addresses home.
The who’s who list of far left organizations includes the International Action Center, Workers World Party, People’s Video Network, People’s Rights Fund, Queers for Economic Justice, FIERCE, The Audre Lorde Project, The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Peace for Cuba, US Out of Korea Committee, Millions for Mumia, and International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). That’s just a few of them. There are more.
On the surface, it might look like these groups represent a diverse array of liberal causes: racism, sexism, LGBTQ, anti-war, social justice, sustainable economics, climate change, oppression, etc. At their core though, these groups are all the same – they are in lockstep with two root organizations, International Action Center and Workers World Party.
The Workers World Party are communists. Plain and simple. Their website – ironically produced using the fruits of capitalism – might currently praise anti-Trump demonstrators while proclaiming “Abolish Capitalism Black Lives Matter Fight For Socialism”, but at heart these people are old school Stalinists. Take Ellen Andors for example.
Andors was a videographer for the aforementioned People’s Video Network. Workers World Party published her obituary (http://www.workers.org/ww/2000/ellen0817.php) on their website. In it she was described as a “Ph.D., videographer, anthropologist, teacher, communist” who was “trained early in Marxist theory”. Ellen Andors taught at Manhattan Community College and the New York City University system where for 25 years “she tried to impart much more than academic information to her students” and “awaken her students to the realities of the rotten capitalist system”. She spent 15 years as a member of “the 4th Wall Political Theater Company, a Marxist-oriented theater collective” who’s productions included Lions, Leopards, and Litterbugs, a children’s musical about protecting the environment from capitalist ravaging, and Toto and the Wizard of Wall Street. Her work as videographer included The Prison-Industrial Complex: An Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal. Andors “harangued her students, urging them to think”.
All of the content on the Workers World Party website is in a similar, hateful vein identical to what’s heard whenever liberals take to the streets to protest something.
International Action Center is Ramsey Clark’s outfit. Yes, Ramsey Who Defended Saddam Hussein Clark. Their “about us” web page (http:// Iacenter.org/about//) reads like a Bernie Sanders speech. They are all about “opposing US wars abroad while fighting racism and economic exploitation of workers at home”. The Center wants to “build a progressive movement for social justice and change”. They are “anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist” and “strive to end human suffering caused by living under a system that puts profits before people’s needs”. It should go without saying they hate the banks because “multi-national corporations and banks based in the US, Europe, and Japan extract resources and debt payments from the rest of the world”. International Action Center says “the best way to fight U.S. imperialism abroad is to stand in full solidarity with people of color living within U.S. borders. Fighting against racism at home must be foremost in the minds and hearts of all who call themselves anti-war activists”.
International Action Center are the mobilizers behind the street protests. Their website includes “NYC Actions” and “Local Actions” tabs where prospective demonstrators can get dates, times, and locations of street events. The Center maintains offices in Atlanta, Baltimore, Oakland, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh, San Diego, Seattle, Tucson, and the District of Columbia. Links from the International Action Center’s main page to these regional offices bring up everything from homemade – and in some cases outdated – websites to Facebook pages where like-minded activists can interact over social media.
What does International Action Center mobilize for? It’s a familiar refrain:
We mobilize nationally against racist police brutality, mass incarceration, the death penalty, and in defense of political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and Aafia Siddique. We join local community-based struggles, defending people with disabilities, demanding affordable housing, healthcare, utility prices, and education and every Workers right to a job at a living wage. We have built coalitions in solidarity with immigrant workers and called for raids and deportations to end. We oppose attacks on women’s reproductive rights and demand an end to lesbian, gay, bi and trans people’s oppression. We expose corporate plunder and environmental destruction of the planet.
As for my original question, I still don’t know if workers that print the signs for liberals to use during protests make more or less than $15 an hour. But I did learn through just a few minutes of web searching that there is nothing grass roots or spontaneous about any of the many street demonstrations we’ve seen over the past several years. Whether it’s Black Lives Matter, Democracy Spring, Occupy, F*** Yo Flag, an anti-Trump event, Feel The Bern or whatever else, there is a very organized, sophisticated, and well-funded mechanism behind it. As for who?
The idea of heading up to New York City and knocking on the doors at 39 W 14th Street and 147 W 24th Street to find out is tempting.