Greece’s anti-austerity party of the left, Syriza, has stretched its election lead to six points, putting it on course for a historic victory in Sunday’s crucial elections. Barely four weeks after the failure of parliament to elect a president, triggering the ballot, Greece’s fate now lies in the hands of 9.8 million voters. All the polls show, with growing conviction, that victory will go to Syriza. A poll released by GPO for Mega TV late on Thursday gave the far leftists a six-percentage-point lead over Samaras’s centre-right New Democracy, the dominant force in a coalition government that has held power since June 2012. A week earlier, GPO had the lead at four percentage points. [more inside]
What’s behind Santa’s bloody rise? Three leading elven labor activists offer a class analysis of the North Pole “gift economy.”
Modern public relations has, in its own parlance, an image problem. As an investigation copublished by the Columbia Journalism Review and ProPublica put it, the industry was literally birthed from a train wreck.... In stark contrast to newsrooms, in which women have never exceeded 38 percent, public relations operates as a solidly pink-collar sector of the creative industries and comprises a labor force that is currently over 85 percent female. The palpable distaste for PR practitioners that continues to swell — spearheaded by the very same members of the media with whom publicists theoretically enjoy a symbiotic relationship — requires, then, a deeper look at how gendered assumptions about work continue to shape our contemporary notions of creative labor under capitalism.
"Squatters took up the fight where the homesteaders had shown the way, occupying abandoned buildings with a more DIY approach. Whereas homesteaders, beholden to the rules of the government programs that sponsored them, hadn’t been permitted to occupy a building until the work was complete, squatters moved in and lived in the raw spaces from the beginning, putting in the time and effort to transform the buildings without the financial support or sanction of the government. They scavenged materials where they could, and employed skill-sharing, learning building skills from those with experience and then passing that knowledge along. By 1989, there were an estimated two-dozen squatted buildings in the Lower East Side."
... is a time to commemorate past victims of violence — and rededicate ourselves to ending it. [TW: brief descriptions of some murders.]
"There’s a dearth of rigorous coverage of the industry. The video game press, such as it is, remains mired in a culture of payola and ad revenue addiction, outside of a few outlets like Gamasutra. The one television station devoted to industry news, G4 (which has moved away from covering only video games), seemed committed to proving every gamer stereotype true, with an endless parade of uncritical corporate press releases punctuated only by sophomoric oral sex jokes. [...] All of which is a shame, because something in the industry is wrong. Here, as in few other places, we see the kind of exploitation normally associated with the industrial sector in creative work."
With roots in the laws of seventeenth and eighteenth-century England, intellectual property protections go back to the beginnings of capitalism itself. The online magazine Jacobin recently featured a three-part series tracing the history of property law and its contemporary manifestations. [more inside]
A dozen ultraleft voluntarists arguing about shower schedules is a noise complaint; 120,000 downwardly mobile yuppies doing it out of necessity is a substratum. The material realities of declining wages, ballooning debt, and skyrocketing rents at the core of the neoliberal city have conspired to herd young people into unprecedentedly dense, poor, and precarious kinds of living arrangements. - Andrew Fogle on how the economic crisis is changing how people live together.
[Teach for America's] goals derive, in theory, from laudable—if misguided—impulses. But each, in practice, has demonstrated to be deeply problematic. TFA ... underwrites, intentionally or not, the conservative assumptions of the education reform movement: that teacher’s unions serve as barriers to quality education; that testing is the best way to assess quality education; that educating poor children is best done by institutionalizing them; that meritocracy is an end-in-itself; that social class is an unimportant variable in education reform; that education policy is best made by evading politics proper; and that faith in public school teachers is misplaced.Teach for America's hidden curriculum: neo-liberalism, union-busting, and the teacher as cultural tourist. [Via.]
Or, why is there still socialism in the United States?
Why, then, would we look for evidence of socialism only where a state seized by radicals of the Left inaugurates a dictatorship of the proletariat? Or, to lower the rhetorical volume and evidentiary stakes, why would we expect to find socialism only where avowed socialists or labor parties contend for state power? We should instead assume that socialism, like capitalism, is a cross-class cultural construction, to which even the bourgeoisie has already made significant contributions – just as the proletariat has long made significant contributions to the cross-class construction we know as capitalism. What follows?
"The lofty vision of a stateless, marketless world faces obstacles that are not moral but technical, and it’s important to grasp exactly what they are." Seth Ackerman for Jacobin Magazine on "thinking concretely and practically about how we can free ourselves from social institutions that place such confining limits on the kind of society we are able to have. Because of one thing we can be certain: the present system will either be replaced or it will go on forever."