Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, April 4, 2020, marks 52 years since Dr. King was assassinated. Those who care to remember fill the airwaves with timid and nostalgic tributes to the great man. Except for WBAI and other non-commercial stations, only Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech — and even there but a tiny snippet of it — makes it onto the airwaves.

Nothing about Dr. King’s analysis in which he castigates the United States as being “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

Nothing about Dr. King’s brilliant and courageous insights into the social and economic calamities of capitalism and the congruence of the oppression of people in Vietnam with that of people of color in the United States.

And, nothing about what it really means to be “Non-Violent”. Dr. King castigates those who praised him and the Civil Rights movement for being non-violent in the face of white supremacists in the South but who condemned him for calling on his country to be non-violent in its dealings with the rest of the world.

“In international conflicts the truth is hard to come by  because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for our superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the Truth. Ye shall know the Truth, says Jesus, and the Truth shall set you free.

“Now I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam today because I agree with Dante that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

Ever hear any of that on mainstream corporate radio?

All of that placed — and continue to place — Dr. King at odds with many of his key advisers in the Civil Rights movement, and with the President of the United States — then … and now.

His life — and keep in mind that he was assassinated when he was just 39 years old! — is thus relegated more-or-less “safe,” for those in power.  The hallowed if troubling days happened back then, which (they say) no longer exist. And so, Dr. King’s complex analysis is distorted and rendered almost meaningless today, and offered in a sense as a paean to  “Isn’t America great? Look at how far we have come.” Who now hears the entirety of any of Dr. King’s speeches? What insights could this ancient man actually hold for us today, and for our own movements for freedom?


Chile, October 2019.

A new October revolution. Sends shivers down my spine.
A true merging of classical music and revolutionary movements.


We fight, we make some inroads, sometimes the people succeed in running their government, and then are smashed in military coups. And then a generation or two or three later the people rise again, come back again, and again and again. HEROIC CHILE! The People United Shall Never Be Defeated! — although a lot of agony, misery and deaths occur along the way ….



former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan

I was deeply shaken while witnessing yesterday’s events in Westminster Magistrates Court. Every decision was railroaded through over the scarcely heard arguments and objections of Assange’s legal team, by a magistrate who barely pretended to be listening.

Before I get on to the blatant lack of fair process, the first thing I must note was Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight.

But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both. I will come to the important content of his statement at the end of proceedings in due course, but his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought. Continue reading »


SEPTEMBER 1, 2019 — Eighty years ago today the Nazis invaded Poland. As pretext, they rounded up concentration camp victims from Dachau, drugged them, and stuffed them into Polish army uniforms. Nazi officers also dressed in Polish army uniforms and shot them dead as “casualties” in an invented simulated attack on a German radio station. The “Polish attack” at Gleywitz was used by Hitler as justification for the Nazi invasion of Poland.

A week earlier, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, and two weeks later the USSR’s army swept into Poland as well. Under the terms of the “Hitler-Stalin pact” the USSR ordered all Communist Parties around the world to desist from actions directed against the Nazis, and portrayed the Pact to the Communist parties as “defense of the Soviet Union.”

The New York Times propagandized the Gleywitz incident as Polish aggression (when there were no Polish soldiers involved at all — it was a false flag operation from the start), marking the official beginning of World War 2.

Sound familiar?

Virtually every “intervention” by U.S. forces involve similar deceptions (from the “Boston Tea Party” on down the line), aimed primarily at confusing and demobilizing the U.S. public. Dan Kovalik points out many such deceptions in his book, The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela: How the U.S. Is orchestrating a Coup for Oil (SkyHorse 2019). White House officials claimed that Venezuela President] Maduro’s security forces “set fire to humanitarian aid at the Venezuela-Colombian border on Feb. 23. … [These] proved later to be false.” In actuality, the aid trucks were lit ablaze by pro-Guaido forces (funded by John Bolton, the U.S. State Department, and the CIA) and not by those loyal to Maduro.

Glenn Greenwald writes: “Every major US war of the last several decades has begun the same way: The U.S. government fabricates an inflammatory, emotionally provocative lie, which large U.S. media outlets uncritically treat as truth …. thus enflaming primal anger at the country the U.S. wants to attack. That’s how we got the Vietnam war (North Vietnam attacks U.S. ships in Gulf of Tonkin); the Gulf war (Saddam ripped babies from incubators); and of course the war in Iraq (Saddam had WMDs and formed an alliance with Al-Queda).”

From the Nazis to the U.S. over the last 80 years, only the insignias on the uniforms have changed.



“The U.S. has a new credibility. What we say goes.”

President George H.W. Bush, NBC Nightly News, Feb. 2, 1991

In October, 1990, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, identified only as Nayirah, appeared in Washington before the House of Representatives’ Human Rights Caucus. She testified that Iraqi soldiers who had invaded Kuwait on August 2nd tore hundreds of babies from hospital incubators and killed them.

Television flashed her testimony around the world. It electrified opposition to Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, who was now portrayed by U.S. president George H.W. Bush not only as “the Butcher of Baghdad” but — so much for old friends — “a tyrant worse than Hitler.”

Bush quoted Nayirah at every opportunity. Six times in one month he referred to “312 premature babies at Kuwait City’s maternity hospital who died after Iraqi soldiers stole their incubators and left the infants on the floor,”(1) and of “babies pulled from incubators and scattered like firewood across the floor.” Bush used Nayirah’s testimony to lambaste Senate Democrats still supporting “only” sanctions against Iraq — the blockade of trade which alone would cause hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to die of hunger and disease — but who waffled on endorsing the policy Bush wanted to implement: outright bombardment. Republicans and pro-war Democrats used Nayirah’s tale to hammer their fellow politicians into line behind Bush’s war in the Persian Gulf.(2)

Nayirah, though, was no impartial eyewitness, a fact carefully concealed by her handlers. She was the daughter of one Saud Nasir Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States. A few key Congressional leaders and reporters knew who Nayirah was, but none of them thought of sharing that minor detail with Congress, let alone the American people.

Everything Nayirah said, as it turned out, was a lie. There were, in actuality, only a handful of incubators in all of Kuwait, certainly not the “hundreds” she claimed. According to Dr. Mohammed Matar, director of Kuwait’s primary care system, and his wife, Dr. Fayeza Youssef, who ran the obstetrics unit at the maternity hospital, there were few if any babies in the incubators at the time of the Iraqi invasion. Nayirah’s charges, they said, were totally false. “I think it was just something for propaganda,” Dr. Matar said. In an ABC-TV News account after the war, John Martin reported that although “patients, including premature babies, did die,” this occurred “when many of Kuwait’s nurses and doctors stopped working or fled the country” — a far cry from Bush’s original assertion that hundreds of babies were murdered by Iraqi troops.(3) Subsequent investigations, including one by Amnesty International, found no evidence for the incubator claims.

It is likely that Nayirah was not even in Kuwait, let alone at the hospital, at that time; the Kuwaiti aristocracy and their families had fled the country weeks before the anticipated invasion. Some defended their country at the gaming tables in Monte Carlo, where at least one member of the ruling family was reported to have gambled away more than $10 million as his fellow rulers called for economic and military assistance from abroad.

As invasions go, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was relatively — I stress the word “relatively” — bloodless. Despite the heart-rending testimonies TV viewers in the U.S. were subjected to night after night, fewer than 200 Kuwaitis were killed. Compare that to such “peaceful” ventures as the U.S. invasion of Panama the year before, which killed an estimated 7,500 Panamanians; or, a year after the Gulf war, the 10,000 Somalis killed by [U.S./U.N] troops in what was portrayed as a “peace mission” to bring food aid to the allegedly starving region.(4)

How did Nayirah first come to the attention of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which put her before the world’s cameras? It was arranged by Hill & Knowlton, a public relations firm hired to rally the U.S. populace behind Bush’s policy of going to war. And it worked!

Hill & Knowlton’s yellow ribbon campaign to whip up support for “our” troops, which followed their orchestration of Nayirah’s phony “incubator” testimony, was a public relations masterpiece. The claim that satellite photos revealed that Iraq had troops poised to strike Saudi Arabia was also fabricated by the PR firm. Hill & Knowlton was paid between $12 million (as reported two years later on “60 Minutes”) and $20 million (as reported on “20/20”) for “services rendered.” The group fronting the money? Citizens for a Free Kuwait, a phony “human rights agency” set up and funded entirely by Kuwait’s emirocracy to promote its interests in the U.S.

“When Hill & Knowlton masterminded the Kuwaiti campaign to sell the Gulf War to the American public, the owners of this highly effective propaganda machine were residing in another country” — the United Kingdom — writes Sharon Beder and Richard Gosden in PR Watch. “Should this give pause for thought? Does it demonstrate a certain potential for the future exercise of global political power — the power to manipulate democratic political processes through managing public opinion,” which Hill and Knowlton demonstrated 10 years ago?(5)

All of this is concealed in a new HBO “behind-the-scenes true story” of the Gulf War, which is being released at this crucial political moment. As Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting writes, “HBO’s version of history never makes clear that the incubator story was fraudulent, and in fact had been managed by an American PR firm, not Iraq. Curiously, however, the truth seems to have been clear to Robert Wiener, the former CNN producer who co-wrote ‘Live from Baghdad.’As he explained to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (11/21/02), ‘that story turned out to be false because those accusations were made by the daughter of the Kuwaiti minister of information and were never proven.’ Unfortunately, HBO viewers won’t know that when they see the film.”(6)

In 1998, Hill and Knowlton found a new client — President Clinton — who hired them to advise him and to polish his image. The last time they were involved, by the time their lies were exposed TV newscasters were waxing ecstatic over the rockets’ red glare, computerized “smart-bombs” bursting in air, and 250,000 people were dead.


1. Doug Ireland, Village Voice, March 26, 1991.

2. The use of the Big Lie to manipulate public opinion and neutralize opposition to a particular war was not invented by Bush. See, for instance, James Laxer, “Iraq: US has match, seeks kindle: American leaders have often falsified reasons to attack other countries,” (ActionGreens, Mar. 31, 2001). Laxer is a Political Science Professor at York University, Toronto.

3. ABC World News Tonight, 3/15/91.

4. In actuality, people in only certain areas of Somalia were starving — those that had been subjected to IMF structural adjustment programs. See, MITCHEL COHEN, “Somalia & the Cynical Manipulation of Hunger,” Red Balloon Collective, 1994.

5. Sharon Beder and Richard Gosden, “PR Watch,” Volume 8, No. 2, 2nd Quarter 2001. The PR firm has since been working at the behest of the pharmaceutical industry to ban over-the-counter vitamin and nutritional supplement sales in Europe.

6. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, “HBO Recycling Gulf War Hoax?” December 4, 2002.



The Great Bernardo Palombo translated Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees” into Spanish for the first time, and performed it at a November 2014 fundraiser, Stand With Ferguson, at Middle Collegiate Church on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, and Joan Baez, performed as well to raise funds following the killing of Michael Brown and the emergence of what soon would become the Black Lives Matter movement. (Timothy Lynch in Berkeley writes that before Bernardo, Nanci Griffith released the song with Spanish verses back in 1998 and Tish Hinajosa released a Spanish version of the song on her 2013 release “After The Fair.”)



Mitchel Cohen interviews Dr. Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese upon their return from a fact-finding trip to Venezuela, for WBAI/Pacifica radio. Flowers & Zeese report that almost everything that the U.S. government says about what’s going on in Venezuela is a lie, and give multiple examples of the truth, based on their own first-hand investigations there.

Click HERE for the interview.
28 minutes & 03 seconds

Kevin Zeese is an attorney and Dr. Margaret Flowers is a pediatrician, who have now become full-time activist-journalists. They edit the daily internet magazine Popular Resistance and produce a well-known podcast show, Clearing the Fog, via the website.

VENEZUELA DEMO WASHINGTON D.C. 03-16-2019 photo by Mitchel Cohen



It is critical to understand how blocking the regime change agenda with respect to Venezuela is integrally connected to confronting the challenge of climate change.

Fighting the Media War

Today we are all witness to the subversion and slander of one of our best hopes. Venezuelans call it “the media war.” Karl Marx called it “the war of calumny undertaken by the lying power of the civilised world,” and went on to describe how “all the sluices of slander at the disposal of the venal respectable press were opened at once to set free a deluge of infamy in which to drown the execrated foe. This war of calumny finds no parallel in history for the truly international area over which it has spread, and for the complete accord in which it has been carried on by all shades of ruling class opinion.”

These words of Marx describe an older media war –  a war against the International Workingmen’s Association, which later became known as The First International. Today they could be applied seamlessly to the media war against the democratically elected government of Venezuela and the revolutionary process it represents. And the comparison is historically and politically sound, because Venezuela was host to the founding in 2017 of the First Ecosocialist International– a piece of world news which has been all but completely drowned out in the furor to topple the only government in the world which has laid out a comprehensive plan for an ecosocialist mode of production “to preserve peace in the planet and save the human species.”

Continue reading »

A TALE OF TWO CITATIONS: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Michael Harrington’s The Other America – Contrasting lessons for activists

MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY has passed since Rachel Carson meticulously exposed government and corporate poisoning of the planet with synthetic pesticides. Serialized in The New Yorker in weekly install­ments, Carson’s Silent Spring was officially published as a hard-cover book in September 1962 by Houghton Mifflin Co. for the price of $5. The book, with its wonderful drawings, excoriated the government and corporations for covering the planet with cancer-causing pesticides like DDT, a product of the newly powerful agribusiness and pharmaceutical infrastructure. Many of the pesticides were originally designed as nerve gasses and weapons of war.(1)

“Since the earliest origins of modern industrial agriculture, agribusiness has been at war against all life on earth, including ourselves,”(2) writes Brian Tokar, author of Earth for Sale and Monsanto: Origins of an Agribusiness Behemoth. From its origins, “chemical agriculture has been a form of warfare—it is a war against the soil, against our reserves of fresh water, and against all the microbes and insects that are necessary for the growing of healthy food.”(3) But in an expansive America following World War II, few were concerned about the mass application of pesticides, which was promoted as part of the promise for securing “the good life” for all. (To actually achieve that, though—if it were possible to be achieved at all—would require powerful social justice movements to overturn the country’s legacy of white supremacy and Jim Crow laws. Millions of people were excluded from partaking in what was portrayed as the American dream, and which remained, for many, the American Nightmare.)

Carson’s mind-blowing exposé not only revealed the prevalence of chemical pesticides but—and we’ve forgotten this today—also the “secret” that radio­active Strontium 90, a byproduct of above-ground nuclear bomb tests, had tainted the nation’s milk supply. This was shocking information. “No one had ever thought humans could create something that could create harm all over the globe and come back and get in our bodies,” oceanographer Carl Safina told Eliza Griswold, whose story about Rachel Carson appeared in 2012 in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.(4) The uproar that followed inspired an army of parents anguishing over the threats of pesticides and radioactive Strontium 90 to the health of their children. Many were women who had worked for the first time in jobs previously “set aside” for men, in support of the anti-Nazi effort during World War II, only to be replaced by male workers reclaiming “their” jobs upon returning from the war. They brought those experiences into organizing a new mass “environmental” movement in the context of the Cold War, and as their children were drilled to “duck and cover” under their desks in case Russia was to order a nuclear bomb attack—more an ideological device than offering practical protection.(5) Continue reading »


The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup
The Politics of Pesticides
Written and edited by Mitchel Cohen
Foreword by Vandana Shiva
A Comprehensive Look at the Worldwide Battle to Defend Ourselves and Our Environment Against the Peddlers of Chemical Poisons
This may be one of the most important books you read this year. We are being poisoned and this book is sounding a well-informed alarm.”

– Eve Ensler, New York Times Bestselling Author

Order your copy HERE

Featuring contributions by

  • Mitchel Cohen
  • Jonathan Latham
  • Sheldon Krimsky
  • Martha Herbert
  • Jay Feldman
  • John Jonik
  • Cathryn Swan
  • Stacy Malkan
  • Robin Falk Esser
  • Brian Tokar
  • Patricia Wood
  • Carolina Cositore
  • Stephanie Seneff
  • Steve Tvedten
  • Beth Youhn, and
  • art by Haideen Anderson.

To request a review copy or to arrange an interview with the author, please contact:
Hector Carosso / (212) 643-6816 x 277 /



Chemical poisons have infiltrated all facets of our lives — housing, agriculture, work places, sidewalks, subways, schools, parks, even the air we breathe. More than half a century since Rachel Carson issued Silent Spring — her call-to-arms against the poisoning of our drinking water, food, animals, air, and the natural environment — The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides takes a fresh look at
the politics underlying the mass use of pesticides and the challenges people around the world are making against Monsanto’s most dangerous creation, glyphosate.

The scientists and activists contributing to The Politics of Pesticides, edited by long-time Green activist Mitchel Cohen, explore not only the dangers of glyphosate — better known as “Roundup” — but the campaign which ended with glyphosate declared as a cancer-causing agent. In an age where banned pesticides are simply replaced with newer and more deadly ones, and where corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and DuPont scuttle attempts to regulate the products they manufacture, what is the effective, practical, and philosophical framework for banning glyphosate and other pesticides?

The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides explores the best strategies for winning the struggle for healthy foods and a clean environment. It takes lessons from activists who have come before, and offers a new, holistic and radical approach that is essential for defending life on this planet and creating for our kids, and for ourselves, a future worth living in.

Order your copy here.
Bulk discounts for anti-pesticides and anti-GMO organizations are available. Write to to make arrangements.

Mitchel Cohen coordinates the No Spray Coalition in New York City, which successfully sued the City government over its indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides. In 1997, he organized the campaign to rid NYC public schools of milk from cows injected with genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, and in 2001, he ran for Mayor of NYC as one of five Green Party candidates. He was editor of the national newspaper Green Politix, and of the NY State Green Party newspaper. Mitchel edited Red Balloon, the journal of the Red Balloon Collective that he cofounded at SUNY Stony Brook, and chaired WBAI radio’s Local Board. His writings include: The Social Construction of Neurosis, and numerous other pamphlets; What is Direct Action?, a book that draws on personal experiences as well as lessons from Occupy Wall Street; An American in Revolutionary Nicaragua; and two books of poetry, One-Eyed Cat Takes Flight and The Permanent Carnival.

“This may be one of the most important books you read this year. We are being poisoned, and this book is sounding a well-informed alarm. Read it. Get educated and then join the thousands rising up against those who care more for profit than the health of our bodies and our earth.”

– Eve Ensler New York Times best-selling author of I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World, The Vagina Monologues, and In the Body of the World

“Activism and science need one another to stay grounded in reality. Few environmental activists have done more than the poet and science writer Mitchel Cohen to connect with scholars across a multitude of disciplines in his tireless campaign to keep the natural world from turning into a toxic hell. This book, with its remarkably varied group of expert contributors, is both a monument to Cohen’s ongoing efforts and a resource for those who will be inspired by it to join forces with him.”

– Stuart Newman, Ph.D., Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, New York Medical College

“This book delivers the goods. Mitchel Cohen and his coauthors have thoroughly and effectively indicted Monsanto, Syngenta, and other Big Food corporations for poisoning our soil, our water, and our genomes.”

Clifford D. Conner, author of A People’s History of Science, and the forthcoming Tragedy of American Science: From Truman to Trump

“The Global Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup is an absolutely vital book for so many who have been diagnosed with diseases their doctors say were caused by vague “environmental factors. ” Mitchel Cohen explains precisely what are these “environmental factors.” Read it as if your life depended on it, because it does.”

– George Caffentzis, author of No Blood for Oil: Essays on Energy, Class Struggle and War 1998-2016

“Few battles are as important today across the planet as that to free the earth, the seas, and woods from the poisons that companies like Monsanto are pouring in them. The Fight Against Monsanto’s Round up: The Politics of Pesticides is a great resource in that struggle. Read it and give it to all your friends and comrades.”

Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch


The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides
Written and edited by Mitchel Cohen
Foreword by Vandana Shiva
Skyhorse hardcover, also available as an ebook
On Sale: January 9, 2019 / $24.99
ISBN: 9781510735132


Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10018
(212) 643-6816


By Richard Greeman

Montpellier, France, Dec. 29, 2018

“Inform yourselves by Internet. 98% media owned by billionaires.”

Is the Yellow Vest rebellion, now in its seventh week, “petering out?” Such was the near-unanimous pronouncement of the mainstream media, when I returned home to Montpellier, France, eager to participate and to observe first-hand this popular insurrection which I had been afraid of missing.

I needn’t have worried. By nine o’clock last Saturday morning (Dec. 22), hundreds of Yellow Vest demonstrators were gathering for a peaceful march to the Préfecture (local seat of government) chanting “We’re not tired” and carrying placards reading “We are not casseurs (vandals) or pyromaniacs. Peaceful.” The mood was bon enfant (“jolly”) with demonstrators en famille including the children and old folks in wheelchairs. Marching ten abreast, they filled the rue de la Loge, but when they arrived at the Préfecture, the police, apparently taunted by some radicals in the crowd, let loose with teargas, injuring children. Then all hell broke loose and continued all day, with marches, countermarches and gas in the air.

Continue reading »


Michael Moore’s latest film, Fahrenheit 11/9, is about Trump — but not only! It includes footage I hadn’t seen before shaming Obama, Bill Clinton, and the Democrats as well as the odious fascists (are there any other kinds, or is “odious” unnecessary as a modifyer of “fascist”?) now running the U.S. executive branch.

I’ve read a number of posts that imply the film is somewhat confused, lacks structural integrity, and is really 3 separate films in one.

So I just wanted to say, this film is incredible, GO TO SEE IT! It is insightful, inciteful, and incendiary. It’s just simply great, moving, and you’ll learn new stuff from it (or at least re-remember the stuff you once knew and forgot).

My only problem with it is the same as other socialist commentators pointed out — it looks to the new wave of candidates in the Democratic party as hope for the future. Michael doesn’t (thankfully) portray them as the only hope, but still … He does spend time on the teachers’ strike and other working class movements, they get important coverage here. But the new wave of candidates are already making politically expedient (opportunist) decisions. But that’s a small criticism of where Michael Moore is somewhat naively putting his hopes … (we’re all grasping for any straw we can get, though, these days!).

The film also leaves out lots of issues that could have used some truthtelling, really important ones (global climate change, Haiti, lots of others), but then the film is more about the political process in this country rather than examining individual issues, save for a few. And those scenes of a truly wretched Obama — whom Michael supported, while ridiculing the Green Party and other third party candidates — are surprising and revelatory; you’ll probably say, “Wow, I didn’t know about that, why did he do that?!” Those images will stay with you a long long long time.

So will the statistics from various polls about what the American people actually believe. More than 2/3rds support progressive and even socialist proposals on any number of issues — wow!

It’s just a great film. The images from the Democratic convention, where votes went to Hillary Clinton even though those states voted for Bernie Sanders are also powerful, maddening, and ultimately very sad. Michael Moore sees the Democratic Party betrayals as having paved the way for Trump, which is very true.

Bring your kids, and your neighbor’s kids, to see this film — watch it together! A real neighborhood anti-fascist moment! Organize!


Every year I repost “Why I Hate Thanksgiving”, or as my friend Howard calls it, “ThanksKilling”. I love the idea of friends and family gathering, and I remember in my youth heading with my mother, father and my two younger brothers with Granny and Grandpa to Grandpa’s sister Evelyn and her husband Joe’s apartment in Queens.

I also remember one year lying on the bed with my cousin Leslie — my brothers were in the room too, and so was another of Evelyn and Joe’s granddaughters, Kathy. Their mother Arlene went a bit crazy and ordered us to keep the door open and to come in for dessert. By 1968, my dad, my brother Robert, and a bunch of us from Stony Brook and from the Marlboro Projects made it out to the demonstrations at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago. I stayed out in Grant Park hollering my brains out as Phil Ochs, Peter Paul & Mary, Dick Gregory and Eugene McCarthy addressed the crowd all night long and washed away the tear gas the next day, while dad and Robert stayed at Arlene’s house outside Chicago. Family!

We’d also sometimes head up on Thanksgiving to dad’s sister, Dora, in the Bronx where we’d be regaled by stories by dad’s brothers Dave and Harry, Dora’s son Sammy (who was the same age as my dad) and his wife Lilian, about growing up in the Depression, and how it came to be that Dora had given Dave money to keep my dad as a youth out of the orphanage in Pleasantville (it turned out that dad loved it there!). Dave used the money to pay off the mafia (Dave was a bookie, and their brother Harry and his wife Bertha counterfeited stamps). Dora and Dave had a war going between them, and it wasn’t until my brother Howie’s bar-mitzvah that they could actually sit at the same table and let bygones be bygones. They also talked about their missing sister Mary, whom dad worshipped, and who’d run away to be with Trotsky in Mexico in the late 1930s and was never heard from again. I always wondered why dad hated Trotsky so much! I loved Thanksgivings, the turkey, the yams, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the gluttonous celebration of …. of family.

And yet in Thanksgiving plays in public school growing up I’d always wanted to be an Indian. I loved what little I was taught about their lifestyle, communality, and put two and two together to guess at what happened to them. “In 1492, the Taino Indians discovered Columbus on their beach,” I announced in class one day. “The question is: Who discovered whom?” My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Elfenbein, was non-too-happy, and I wondered why everyone else except my best friends Lloyd, Melvin and Louis — all Projects kids — wanted to be pilgrims.

As the decades passed, I’d become angrier and angrier at what turned out to be the lies and oppression we were celebrating. Instead of being joyful, I would go into fits of crying on Thanksgiving when i thought of the horrors that the European colonists committed. I felt complicit, as I would were the whole country to celebrate the gassing of Jews in Nazi Germany. I began refusing to celebrate it, even though so many people said, “I don’t celebrate it for the genocide; I celebrate it because I’m off from work and get to hang out with family.” I understood that desire, but I couldn’t bring myself to join them.

And I felt like such a kill-joy. Everyone is out enjoying themselves, eating, and I wanted to smash it all. Yes, we distributed hard-to-come-by turkeys to desperately poor farmworkers on Long Island as part of our organizing effort with the Eastern Farmworkers Organizing Committee. Even then, I thought, “How would there ever be a revolution if working class and poor folks can’t identify with the indigenous people who lived here centuries ago, and reject the many forms cooptation takes?” But I knew that people were hungry, they wanted to be part of an American history I was rejecting, and I was torn.

And then I and others in the Red Balloon Collective were dragged into alliance with animal rights groups, and the connections for the Collectivistas began to snap into place. The animal rights folks had no critique of American capitalism; the radical politicos had no feeling for the lives of other species. It was the younger vegetarian folks in Red Balloon at the time that made the connections for the rest of us, as did a glorious speech by people’s attorney William Kunstler, who unexpectedly (at least for me) pulled it all together.

I suppose that this year, 2020, Thanksgiving means something more for many people, given the Covid-19 pandemic that is ravaging our communities for the second time. So I am reluctant to say things that might ruin the little joy that’s still existent in this world as it gasps and sputters through the universe. But why do we have to appreciate each other by building this holiday atop the oppression and murders of the original people living here? Is that a history I want to be part of? No. Nevertheless, I hope people do reflect on not only what we are blessed with today, but at what cost it has come and how we are all complicit with it.

  • Mitchel Cohen, 2020

2017 – I posted this a year ago — and what an eventful year it was, both politically as well as personally. I’m re-posting this even though the heroic occupation at Standing Rock has come to an end. This Thanksgiving, a number of Occupyers are facing absurd prison sentences, and the pipeline people were protesting is already leaking as feared. – Mitchel, November 18, 2017



Thanksgiving 2016 – The long genocide of descendants of the original inhabitants of the corner of the planet we today call the United States of America proceeds unabated. And so, therefore, continues the resistance.

At Standing Rock in spirit. Yoko Ono and John Lennon join Native people at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973.

At Standing Rock in spirit. Yoko Ono and John Lennon join Native people at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973.

The fight to preserve the earth’s water and allow it to run naturally through the veins of the planet is an extension of the resistance of the colonial period of U.S. history. The earth-destroyers today use pipelines, hydro-fracking and genetic engineering (and now apparently water cannons and experimental sonic weapons) where they once used the Gatling gun. In some places (like Israel’s control of Palestinian’s water supply) they use both.

Continue reading »




Black & White photos, $11
Full Color photos, $65

From the Introduction by David L. Wilson

Mitchel Cohen’s memoir gets across the feel of those hopeful days of the Nicaraguan revolution in the 1980s – as well as the sights, sounds, and smells. He captures the combination of excitement and trepidation U.S. leftists felt as they prepared to leave, along with the roadblocks: from relatives who thought Nicaragua was inhabited by cannibals to the DC-based left bureaucrats who apparently didn’t consider Mitchel respectable enough to join their brigades. Mitchel notes the inventiveness of “ordinary” Nicaraguans as they improvised solutions to everyday problems amid war and poverty – in the mental health clinic he visited, for example. And he highlights one of the most important benefits of the trip: the way experiences there challenged the assumptions that North Americans had brought with them. For a few years it was possible to get on a plane and see what happens when a country’s people take control of their own lives – and to imagine what it would be like if we did the same here. – David L. Wilson


FILE – In this July 21, 2012 file photo, comedian and activist Dick Gregory poses for a portrait during the PBS TCA Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gregory, the comedian and activist and who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84. Gregory died late Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Washington, D.C. after being hospitalized for about a week, his son Christian Gregory told The Associated Press. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection. (Photo by Matt Sayles – Invision)

Dick Gregory spoke at SUNY Stony Brook in early 1966 — and inspired a gymnasium full of radicals. He riffed on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, firing salvo after salvo into the void, challenging the thousands of students there to put our bodies on the line for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam, all done with scathing (for us) humor. He hated Lyndon Johnson: “Too bad Lyndon Johnson isn’t the pope,” he exclaimed in a zinger that has always stayed with me, “that way we’d only have to kiss his ring.” At the time I, just turned 17, couldn’t believe anyone could actually oppose the war so forcefully and publicly.

He also quoted by heart from the Declaration of Independence:

… when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

I used that quote when I was resisting the draft, as did thousands of others — we certainly would never have read it in the same way as it rolled off of Dick’s tongue, stopping and stressing the word “duty” over and over again.

Another old Stony Brook friend, Bob Marcus, recalls that Dick Gregory told us, “If we all give up cigarettes until the war is over, the tobacco industry will end the war, really fast.” He understood.

Dick Gregory was incredible, always something to say about our situations, our lives, and always with such sharp slashing sarcasm. Our paths crossed many times. In Chicago ’68, when Mayor Daley‘s police banned the antiwar march on the amphitheater where the soon-to-become-infamous Democratic Party convention was taking place, Dick Gregory invited the 4,000 of us to his house, which was on the other side of the police barricades en route to the convention hall, “for bar-b-q.” And Dick led the march. My dad Abe Cohen, an ex-Marine in World War II who drove us to Chicago carrying with him his medal for heroism awarded by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt — and who, in an anti-war tirade told his sons, “You’ll go into the military over my dead body” — said “Let’s join Dick Gregory for dinner!” The cops tear-gassed and beat the shit out of us.

A few years later, Dick, along with the brilliant Mark Lane (who died last year) continued to challenge the official story of the Kennedy Assassination. Dick released photos that the corporate media was sitting on, of the so-called “bums” in Dallas on that fateful day in 1963 — among them, E. Howard Hunt, CIA agent, and two others (Sturgis, aka Fiorini, and one other who would later become involved in Watergate — the CIA hit squad). Red Balloon and a few other underground papers published them on our front page, breaking the media white-out of the CIA’s role in the assassination. Both Mark Lane and Dick Gregory came to speak at Stony Brook again, and again made a huge and radicalizing impact on our lives.

Many memories of Dick Gregory, who challenged way ahead of time the way officialdom framed every single issue … including that of nutrition, health, and diet. In 1992, it was Dick Gregory who pointed out that — “What a coincidence!” — the path of the burning down of buildings in the Los Angeles rebellion “just happened” to follow the route of the planned subway system, which needed to acquire those properties. Go figure!

Years later, yes it’s true, Dick was involved with Pacifica Radio as well, and served on one of the national boards.

So very sorry, of course, to learn of Dick Gregory’s passing, so grateful that our paths crossed when they did. I do have a few of his early records — probably unnecessary now in the YouTube era but still, I’ll be dusting them off and getting the needle into the right groove, there’s something special and fitting about hearing Dick, again, at 33-1/3rd rpm with all the scratches and bumps instead of on YouTube, what it meant at the time to play his records in the mid-1960s, where only one person on the campus would have it, and crowds would gather to listen to the one phonograph in G-dorm lobby (just as we did with Tom Lehrer‘s albums), and find ourselves charged up and laughing down to the cafeteria.

Here’s to Dick Gregory. I drink a green juice to you, Dick, and a great big and bigger thank you for helping us find the revolutionary meaning in our lives and for being so damn funny about it, amidst all the pain, killing, and brutality ….

Also, give a listen to this where Dick Gregory in 2008 apologizes to Bill Clinton, “our first Black president”.

Mitchel Cohen


In a throwback to the height of the red-scare witchhunts of the 1950s, the NYC Board of Education has dusted off Sen. Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist playbook and is charging the principal, assistant principal, several teachers, and a teaching assistant at the Park Slope Collegiate public high school in Brooklyn, with “communist organizing”.

Click HERE to hear Mitchel Cohen’s  report.

High School principal Jill Bloomberg, interviewed by Mitchel Cohen for WBAI / Pacifica radio

High School principal Jill Bloomberg, interviewed by Mitchel Cohen for WBAI / Pacifica radio. 
                                                                                              Photo by Cathryn Swan.

On Tuesday June 27, 2017, a large group of parents, students, professionals and community supporters rallied in support of their principal, Jill Bloomberg, and the others who are being interrogated by Mayor de Blasio‘s Board of Education, in front of what used to be called John Jay High School, a beautiful WPA-era building facing Park Slope’s 7th Avenue, which now is home to four high schools in the same building.

WBAI radio’s Mitchel Cohen interviewed those under the new inquisition at the picket line in front of the Park Slope high school and filed this report, which aired on WBAI’s Morning Show a week later (thanks to the knowledgeable work of Michael G. Haskins and Pam Brown).


Audio reports “from the field” by Mitchel Cohen

Mitchel Cohen at Immigrant Rights Rally, Washington Square Park, NYC. January 26, 2017. Cohen is pictured in the middle left with beard. Photo by Stan Costanza, NY Daily News.

From newly launched audio series “Profiles of Protest and Resistance by writer and reporter Mitchel Cohen.


Mitchel Cohen interviews former U.S. Army medic in Somalia Sarah Mess, about her current peace activism and the effects of anti-Malaria drug Lariam on her and many other veterans.

President George H.W. Bush deployed U.S. military troops to Somalia in 1992. President Bill Clinton maintained their presence, and even used the offices of an oil corporation in Mogudishu to headquarter U.S. troops in Africa.

One of those solidiers was Sarah Mess.

Here, Sarah describes the effects of being forced to take an anti-malaria pill, Lariam. A number of male soldiers returning from U.S. wars in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan ended up murdering their wives. Many others suffer from the harrowing psychological effects of the drug.

Listen to hear Sarah tell her riveting story, in her own words.


Rally at Brooklyn Boro Hall culminating general strike of Yemeni bodega owners, which shut down many small stores in the Atlantic Avenue area of Brooklyn on February 2, 2017.


14 minutes. Mitchel Cohen reports from a protest of more than 1,000 people who marched on Senator Charles Schumer’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Tuesday night, condemning Schumer’s votes in favor of 3 of Trump’s cabinet appointments, and demanding that Sen. Schumer and other Democrats “join the resistance” and stop placating the Trump administration and Wall Street.


12 minutes – Participants in the “No Hate, No Fear, Refugees are Welcome Here!” rally and march of 18,000 people in New York City Sunday, January 29, 2017, beginning in Battery Park.


Part 4 captures unique highlights and interviews from the spirited immigrant rally at Washington Square Park (January 25th), attended by over 3,000 people, including singer-songwriter Stephan Said. If you weren’t there, you will feel like you were; if you were, hear from others in the crowd!



3:24 minutes  A wonderful 3 minute piece interviewing a couple of 90-year-olds at the women’s march in NYC.


This one sketches 3 women at the gigantic Women’s march on January 21, 2017. Just 1:24 minutes ….


From the streets of NYC’s inauguration night protest, as thousands marched from Foley Square down to Trump’s building on Wall Street.





209 Joralemon St., Bklyn Heights

March to Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Headquarters

Endorsers (still forming): Brooklyn Greens/Green Party Veterans for Peace-NYC, Chapter 34

World Can’t Wait Popular Resistance U.S. Peace Council Friends of Brad Will

Center for Global Justice World Beyond War The Nuclear Resister

Syphilis vs. Gonorrhea

Clinton vs. Trump: Syphilis vs. Gonorrhea.

Donald Trump belches a line that emboldens a racist movement. But his policies — to the extent he has any — in reality would be less destructive than Hillary Clinton‘s, especially when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.

As one writer — Ralph Lopez — commented,

“Trump is like having the boorish, racist uncle at the family reunion but Hillary is like having a convicted mass murderer in the room.”

Clinton HAS TO turn Trump into the AntiChrist to terrify voters sufficiently so that they throw aside their good sense and their revulsion at HER history, in order to get them to vote for her.

Trump and Clinton deserve each other. We the people deserve something better.

And now, we see that instead of dealing with the substance of the emails released — and these are just the tip of the iceberg, with a lot more to come — the Clinton kleptocracy is trying divert the issue into “blaming” it all on Russia’s supposed stealing of the DNC’s emails.

Ummm, question: Wasn’t this exactly what the Repubs were attacking Clinton for doing, for using her personal email accounts to address national business under the supposition that doing so made it easier for a foreign power to hack?

So how come the DNC is now accusing Russia — falsely, at that — with hacking their insecure, revolting emails against Bernie Sanders? Did Russia write those emails? Is the DNC admitting to using unsecured servers, too?

Remember Watergate? It started with President Richard Nixon‘s henchmen trying to break into the Democratic Party headquarters to steal back the bugs they planted in trying to obtain the Dems’ playbook (i.e., today’s emails!). It was the coverup that propelled Watergate into the national spotlight and not the break-in itself, as stupid as that was. Will the similar framework play out here, but on a much larger scale? Will Hillary go to war with Russia, as she seems intent on doing (as opposed to Trump) in order to cover-up the phony charges she and the other Dem honchos are leveling at Russia?

As much as I hated Nixon, the movement forced him to do all sorts of progressive things against his instincts: The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, supporter of Guaranteed Minimum Income payments, recognition of China ….. even as he bombed the hell out of Vietnam and Cambodia. He was every bit as despicable, racist and anti-Semitic as Trump in his statements — maybe more so. But in terms of economic and environmental policy he was forced to be the most liberal president of the last 50 years, and the ruling class had to get rid of Nixon; they latched onto Watergate in order to do it.

In ’68 and ’72 we faced a very similar framing of the choices before us as we’re faced with today. The “Clean for Gene” McCarthy movement in ’68 paralleled today’s Bernie Sanders campaign. With more and more people refusing to vote for the evil of two lessers, and with fear being the driving force the Democrats are using to propel folks to vote for Clinton (who is this generation’s Hubert Humphrey, a disgusting political insider, but Clinton is much worse), I’ll be voting for Jill Stein and the Greens. Jill most likely won’t win, and even if she did it would require a mass revolutionary movement to empower the Green Party to make the changes we need. But Jill’s campaign is an expression of the social and ecological movements she — and we — come out of and continue to be involved in. Can you say the same for Clinton or Trump?

Don’t vote for “Clump”. Time to exit the Dems — DemExit — for those still hoping against hope to reform either of the twin corporate parties. They are both poison (with Hillary being a proponent not only of fracking and war with Russia, but also of Monsanto and the genetic engineering of agriculture).

The real debate is the capitalist system vs. the immune system. Let’s stand together with Jill Stein and the Greens on the side of the immune system.


It started under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who put so much of New York City’s public space up for sale …. er, “development”.

Whether it was community gardens, the City’s water supply under Rudy Giuliani, public hospitals, parks, housing, public radio, prisons, or public libraries, NYC’s 3-term billionaire Mayor prettified the theft of public resources by calling it “public-private partnerships”. The Manhattan Institute — a reactionary “think tank” shaping public policy — presented “partnerships” as its preferred model, enabling the privatization of all sorts of publicly owned projects under the guise of “improving” them.

And so went the Donnell Library, the 2nd biggest library in the NY Public Library system with — prior to 2008, when it was shut down and slated for demolition — 300,000 books and heavy-duty research facilities. As the Committee to Save the NY Public Library wrote in 2012:

The Donnell Library appears to be a model for how the NYPL plans to “transform” libraries (including the Mid-Manhattan), selling off the real-estate and shrinking them into much smaller spaces designed for socializing rather than learning.

The much-loved Donnell was an oasis of light and air, and featured an exceptional children’s library along with outstanding foreign language and audio-visual collections.  It was sold to developers for a pittance and demolished in 2009.  As [NY Times architectural critic Michael] Kimmelman writes,

Across West 53rd Street from MoMA, the Donnell Library Center, a long-shuttered branch of the New York Public Library, is scheduled to reopen late next year at the same spot but in the bowels of a new luxury hotel, at a third of its former size, with wide bleacher seating and steps as the main feature.

“More like a cultural space, which is about gathering people, giving people the opportunity to encounter each other,” is how the library’s architect, Enrique Norten, describes the plan.

It’s all the same flimflam: flexible spaces to accommodate to-be-named programming, the logic of real estate developers hiding behind the magical thinking of those who claim cultural foresight. It almost never works.

When the old Donnell — now renamed the 53rd St. Library — re-opened last week down the block from the new Museum of Modern Art, it was a shell of its former shelf, to coin a phrase. The library was now in the two basement floors of a giant luxury tower. As Citizens Defending Libraries puts it:

•     The former Donnell held at least 300,000 books when the NYPL closed it (that’s by the NYPL’s own admission, we think it once held many more). The “replacement” has 20,000 books.

•    The former Donnell was 97,000 square feet. The “replacement,” just over one-quarter that, 28,000 square feet.

•    The former Donnell was five stories above ground, much of it newly renovated, like the new teen center and state of the art media center. It also had a marvelous new below ground auditorium. The “replacement,” is largely underground and largely book-less. The “replacement” has no media center, no teen center, no equivalent auditorium.

•    The children’s room is in the basement of the “replacement,” not so the old Donnell.

The City is reported to have been paid either $59 million (the original figure) or $67 million (a new figure, reflecting some fancy footwork and bookkeeping) for the rights to knock down the old library and build their luxury condo. The penthouse is now on the market for $54+ million alone, and apartments on the upper floors are going for $23 million, each.

I looked around the new library and was struck by the relative absence of books, lack of “stacks”, and the sterility of the children’s reading room.

Here’s a report I filed on the re-opening after 8 years of the Donnell Library, and the protest outside of it.


And, as I said, this “public-private partnership” has now become the model for all library improvements throughout the City. A big fight is underway in Brooklyn Heights, where Bloomberg’s scheme is now being driven by Mayor Bill deBlasio. Brooklyn’s second most popular library (containing a major business library and other research facilities) has been stripped of all its books and only a fierce movement among library defenders stands between the historic structure and the wrecking ball, with the Sunset Park library and others to follow suit.

Here is the seventh in an ongoing series of reports in which I trace the sale of the Brooklyn Heights library and the burgeoning scandal. In this segment I interview Marilyn Berkon of Citizens Defending Libraries. The group has requested that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara investigate Hudson Inc. and its CEO, David Kramer’s, “pay to play” donations to Mayor deBlasio’s slush fund in exchange for winning the bid on the Brooklyn Heights public library property. The report aired June 28, 2016 on WBAI radio‘s Morning Show co-hosted by Michael G. Haskins and Pam Brown.


• Report #1: City Council Subcommittee hearing, by Mitchel Cohen, November 18, 2015.

Report #2: Interview with City Council member Steve Levin About Selling off the Libraries, by Mitchel Cohen, November 30, 2015. This includes Steve Levin’s denial that a compromise deal was in the offing. It also include the story (activism and Domino project related) he met his wife.

Report #3: Gathering Outside Councilman Steve Levin’s Office evening BEFORE the City Council vote, by Mitchel Cohen, December 9, 2015. This includes a street performance of Judy Gorman’s Library Song.

Report #4: on Citizens Defending Libraries Gathering AFTER the City Council vote, by Mitchel Cohen, December 10, 2015. This includes Councilman Mark Treyger explaining councilmen votes, Norman Savitt’s testimony before the City Council, and discussion of Stephen Levin sellout of community.

Report #5: WBAI News: In the news tonight the New York City Council agrees to sell of the Brooklyn Heights Library, Linda Perry anchor, Mitchel Cohen reporting, December 16, 2015 (Library story starts at: 3:24) This segment includes Councilman Steve Levin being confronted in the City Hall rotunda over his betrayal of the community and the lack of transparency he promoted.

Report #6: Press conference at Brooklyn Boro Hall, Mitchel Cohen, March 1, 2016.

Report #7: interview with Marilyn Berkon of Citizens Defending Libraries. The group has requested that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara investigate Hudson Inc.’s “pay to play” Brooklyn Heights public library sale. The report aired June 28, 2016 on WBAI radio‘s Morning Show co-hosted by Michael G. Haskins and Pam Brown.

Report #8: Report from the re-opening of the 53rd St. Library (formerly the Donnell library), and the protest outside of it, including Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer; vice-chair of the Committee to Save the NY Public Library Theodor Gruenwald; economist Keat Foong, of Citizens Defending Libraries; and Marty Rajendron, of the Raging Grannies.

Report #9: Interview with economist Lynne Ellsworth, award-winning preservationist who calls it “hogwash” that the City says it has nowhere else to turn for needed funds except to real estate developers. In conversation with Mitchel Cohen, June 11th, 2016.

WBAI “The Morning Show”:  Michael G. Haskins Interviews Citizens Defending Libraries Co-Founders Michael D. D. White and Carolyn E. McIntyre, January 7, 2016 (interview, the last 1/2 hour about 3/4ths through the two hour show was broadcast at 7:30 AM). Jillian Jonas helped in arranging this interview.

WBAI “The Morning Show”:  Michael G. Haskins Interviews Citizens Defending Libraries Co-Founders Michael D. D. White and Carolyn E. McIntyre, June 17, 2016 (interview, the last 1/2 hour about 3/4ths through the two hour show was broadcast at 7:30 AM).  (Link to downloadable file.) Hear about the latest NYPL for sale, the so-called Donnell “replacement,” litigation, the federal criminal investigation, how NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman should be taking action to save the public from the loss of the Brooklyn Heights and other libraries. Jillian Jonas helped in arranging this interview.

• WBAI “Behind The News with Nellie Bailey”:  Selling NYC Libraries With Michael D. D. White of Citizens Defending Libraries and Laurie Frey of Love Brooklyn Libraries!, Wednesday, March 9, 2016 5:00 pm.  (This is a full one-hour interview after the vote of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and the Brooklyn Borough Board.)

Nellie Hester Bailey on right, Laurie Frey of Love Brooklyn Libraries! on left



CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE PANEL MITCHEL ORGANIZED AT THE 2016 LEFT FORUM IN NYC, with panelists: Margaret Stevens, Ann Snitow, Irene Javors, Jack Shalom (dialectical magic – video!), Mitchel Cohen, and Debbie Despina Sophia Stamos. Also invited, Sister Dragonfly, was unable to attend.


Mural - cover to pamphlet

Giant mural at University of Havana in support of Occupy Wall Street. Details list hundreds of corporations and their profits for the year.

A talk by Mitchel Cohen at the “Seminar on Socialist Renewal and the Capitalist Crisis – A Cuban-North American Exchange”, Havana, Cuba: June 16-30, 2013

in association with the Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and the Radical Philosophy Association

Mitchel Cohen’s poem about Cuba, “The Unrepentant Bather (90 Miles Out)”, opened the talk and was brilliantly translated into Spanish by Karell Acosta, University of Havana

This talk is dedicated to our comrade and teacher

TITO GERASSI, from Cuba Pamphlet

John “Tito” Gerassi

July 12, 1931 – July 26, 2012
always a true friend of the Cuban revolution

You can hear Mitchel’s radio interview with Tito Gerassi HERE:



My love swims alone
in an ocean of sharks
circling to starboard
circling to bow
waiting their moment
off guard, stroke falters
gnashing their teeth
flexing their jaws
wearing the defenses down

Swim for your life, sweetheart,
Swim for your life!
Don’t give up an inch,
Don’t fall for the trap!
The sharks are all circling
’Round History’s bones
You swim there alone
Under attack

My love swims alone
paradoxically dreams
of lush old-growth forests
& crystalline streams
but industry dangles
“development’s” lures
gnashing their teeth
flexing their jaws
baiting the bloodlash
of “Progress”

Swim for your life, Cuba
Swim for your life!
Don’t give up an inch,
Don’t fall for the trap!
The sharks are all circling
’Round History’s bones
You swim there alone
Under attack
Swim faster
Keep swimming
Keep swimming


SOUTH AFRICAN FREEDOM FIGHTER STEVE BIKO observed: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Nowhere do those sentiments apply more than they do to Cuba during the special period of the 1990s and 2000s -– a time that was extremely harrowing for all Cubans. But the people of Cuba refused to consider themselves victims. They responded creatively. They formed new and ecologically innovative projects that might otherwise have never gotten the chance, for unless it is disrupted, the hegemony of the capitalist industrial model of dev­elopment plagues even countries aspiring to socialism.

Who would have thought 40 years ago that Fidel Castro, in his old-age, would become a stirring spokesperson for the global environmental movement, of all things? Yet, here’s Fidel:

“Should we expect that densely populated countries such as China, India, Indonesia, will have as many automobiles in proportion to their population as North Am­erica and Western Europe?”

He answers his own question:

“Well, it’s necessary: The expansion of capital requires it. It’s also impossible; the earth cannot sustain it.”

Here’s Fidel again, this time in 1990 evaluating the effects in Cuba of the imported Eastern European machinery:

“Let’s speak clearly once and for all … We Cubans don’t export garbage. But often what we get back in trade is junk! No one else in the world buys Bulgarian forklifts. They are such garbage, only we bought them. How many hundreds, thousands of them stand idle in our warehouses? The Hungarian buses … pollute the city with fumes and poison everyone around. Who knows how many people have died from the fumes of those buses just because they put in a defective fuel pump? On top of it all, those buses have a two-speed Czech transmission that alone wastes 30 percent of the fuel! Oh, how happy I am to speak with such openness! [Fidel said.] It’s been difficult to talk about these things in the past, but thanks to these new circumstances we have been relieved of our previous compromises.”

Much of that honest evaluation and many of the ecological advances emerging from it entailed what at first were experienced as enormous sacrifices by the Cuban people. Over time, however, they became NOT sacrifices but a badge of national pride, a striving by an entire people for something greater, and a rejecting of the notion that the “good life” must be based on the mass production and accumulation of commodities and the consequent massive consumption of Nature.

This was an ideological advance. It was no small feat achieved by the Cuban revolution, even if in the beginning of the Special Period it was the result of making a virtue of necessity. Cuba’s example provided, and continues to provide, a revolutionary eco-socialist impulse inspiring many throughout the world to think about what we’d like to see in a new and humane society, how we should treat each other, animals and Nature. How can we or­gan­ize our lives so that we deepen our consciousness and com­mitment to each other and take action for social justice and for saving this god-forsaken planet?

Let me state my conclusions here, just so these points don’t get lost.

  1. We, friends of the Cuban Revolution, need to oppose gen­etic engineering of agriculture, which is fundamentally a mechanism of colonization of the living cell. Through gen­etic engineering capitalist relations re-emerge, even in an aspiring socialist country like Cuba.
  2. We need to refuse to accept, and to reframe, what is promulgated as “The Good Life.”
  3. We need to train ourselves in how to think and plan holistically.
  4. We need to stop fetishizing science and technology. They are not neutral. They do not stand apart from the class struggle. They are not our saviors. They are dripping with the ideology of the dominant capitalist framework of the societies in which they develop. To say that they are “ideology free” is itself part of that dominant ideology!
  5. We need to reframe THE WAY we raise and fight for is­sues, so that we can create institutions that begin to im­ple­ment solutions through our own direct action, even as we make appeals to the system to do “this or that” for us. We then fight to defend those liberated zones, and we strive to expand them until they become the new society in embryo.
  6. To do all that, we need to practice how to bring out the ecological dimension that is buried in every issue. We may need to actively search for it, but it is there. Make it visible. Take action.

  *   *   *

A SPECTER IS HAUNTING THIS PLANET – the specter of biological devastation and ecological catastrophe. It is ravaging all the ecosystems sustaining life. Butterflies, frogs, bees, redwood forests – whole familiar and essential species are in sudden danger of being wiped out by pesticides and chemical agriculture, pollution, petrochemical emissions, wastes and radiation from nuclear power plants – all fueling global climate change – and genetically engineered crops. Mechanisms for propagation – even seeds! – are coming under the private own­ership of a tiny number of very large agro-chemical corporations bent on extending their control over land – and water – and monopolizing the world’s food supply by altering the repro­duc­tive capacities of entire species.

In the U.S., this colonization is legitimized by new Enclosure Acts similar to those of centuries ago, a legal fiction codifying the shameless orgy of capitalist profit and conquest. Here’s Fidel, once again, sharply criticizing the use of the world’s available land for monocropping plants for biofuels and the resulting elimination of the world’s forests, which Fidel termed “The inter­nationalization of genocide.”

Indeed! In the last 50 years, fully 80 percent of the world’s forests have been chopped down. One Cuban scientist told me that “trees are nice to have, but they are a secondary concern when we are talking about the needs of people, which come first” – a surprisingly un-dialectical view. Forests prevent floods; they maintain healthy soil; they defuse hurricanes and detoxify drinking water. They oxygenate the air; they serve as habitats for thousands of species. In the U.S., less than 5 percent of the old-growth forests remain. In Argentina and Brazil, huge swaths of primeval rainforest are being cut down and the land mono­cropped with genetically engineered soy for animal feed and biofuels exported to the United States, Japan, China and Europe. In Indonesia, millions of acres of forest have been burned for palm oil production, mining and cattle grazing. In Mexico the Lacan­dona forest – the home of the ancient Mayan people and the Zapatista rebellion – is under siege by international paper com­panies as much as by federal troops. Under Clinton and Gore more trees were clearcut in the U.S. than by any of their predecessors in recent history – COMBINED!

The destruction of forests is one of the most notorious contributors to global climate change and the pending ecocide of this planet. The NY Times cuts down 60,000 trees per week to publish its Sunday paper. Don’t expect the Times to stray too far from its mantra of corporate “rights”.

Remember, por favor, there is no ‘Planet B’! No more the once magnificent old growth forests; no more the pristine drinking water, healthy soils, non-mutated frogs, pollinating bees, seas teeming with fish – the entire North Atlantic has been “fished out,” if you can even call what industrial trawlers do these days “fishing,” scraping miles of giant steel mesh weighing 15 tons each through the most ancient and protected parts of the world’s oceans, sweeping up everything in their path. And, as we know, the polar ice caps are melting, which is already causing the oceans to rise by many meters, and threatening to wipe out not only Greenland, but New York City and Havana within the next two decades!

One hundred and sixty years ago, the 24-year-old editor of Cologne’s Reinische Zeitung wrote forceful editorials in defense of the forest against privatization, and in favor of the rights of peasants to collect dead wood from the forest floor – lands that had been unrestricted by law and used in common for millennia. The editor – Karl Marx – railed against the state’s jack-booted storm­troopers’ expropriation of the Commons. Marx named that ex­pro­priation “primitive accumulation.” He exposed the system’s legal­ization of such plunder as part and parcel of the emerging cap­i­tal­ist class’ attempts to increase its control of the State. He pointed out that by 1842, 85 percent of all prosecutions in the Rhineland dealt with a new crime: the “theft” of dead wood lying on the ground, which the State applied only to peasants while allowing wealthy businessmen and corporations to strip whole forests with impunity. It was Marx, especially, who explained how such “en­closures” came to receive acceptance socially and sanction in law.

KARL MARX IN HIS STUDY - for pamphlet

30-year-old Karl Marx in the offices of The Neue Rheinische Zeitung: Organ der Demokratie (“New Rhenish Newspaper: Organ of Democracy”), a German daily newspaper he published between June 1, 1848 and May 19 1849.

How did it happen that people allowed public lands and early machinery to be privatized and re-shaped to serve the needs of capital? Why didn’t people revolt? (Well they did, according to Silvia Federici, in her great book Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation.) We can ask the same questions today: How did our once-public universities, hospitals, beaches, libraries, drinking water, parks and even prisons in the United States suddenly become privatized? Private mercenary armies now make up a large percentage of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; the water tables are so polluted that drinking water is now sold in plastic bottles, their sources owned by the world’s largest corporations, and the plastic wastes have accumulated in the Pacific Ocean forming a floating plastic island five times the size of Cuba!

It is worth remembering that Marx’s critique of capitalism started with his denunciation of the cutting down of forests for private profit, the enclosure of lands used in common, and the State’s criminalization of peasants taking dead wood for heating and cooking. Ecological justice was central to Marx’s outlook from his earliest writings. Today, Marx would be railing against indus­tri­al agriculture and especially the use of genetically engineered crops.

But since his death in 1883 and until very recently, Marx’s followers for the most part have ignored his writings on the environment and ecological justice, which were based on his for­mulation of the twin sources of value – the exploitation of Labor and the expropriation of Nature. The Communist parties have, contra Marx, repeatedly called for developing the instruments of production at any cost, rarely analyzing the vastly destructive role played by the expropriation of Nature (a primitive accumulation which is ongoing, at all times) in the production of wealth and in the reproduction of the capitalist system, which was central to Marx’s analysis of capitalist accumulation, as most tersely pre­sen­ted in The Critique of the Gotha Programme. In omitting or min­i­mi­z­ing the expropriation of nature, Marxists have allowed cap­i­tal­ism’s – and “actually existing Socialism’s” – ravaging of the envi­ronment through its industrial form of production to go unchallenged.

Along with the industrial form of production comes the following: the drudgery of the assembly line and office; the inferno of rotten relationships and rancid dreams; the privatization of ev­erything and twisting of everybody into things to be bought and sold; the reproduction and consolidation of patriarchy, hierarchy, domination and exploitation; the subjugation of Nature (and of the Nature within – our very chromosomes and cells!) to the exi­gen­cies of production and the market; the exploitation of natural and human resources; the irreversible destruction of the environment and the planet – all are embedded in industrial technology as such. Industrial technology reproduces the social conditions and ideol­o­gy of the capitalist system even under Socialism. And we, who are raised in those same conditions have become dependent on them; we can barely conceive of how to reorganize society to satisfy hu­man needs in any other way. Steeped as we are in cap­i­talist and patriarchal ideology, industrial production seems to us most “nat­ural”. Our longing for what constitutes “Pro­gress” and “the good life” is shackled to industrial production, its products, and its cap­italist integuments. Those who try to uproot those as­sumptions are smeared as quaint “throwbacks” to an earlier time or, should their challenges take root, as “Luddites” and then dismissed.

Contrary to the popular misconception, the Luddites of 1811 did NOT oppose the use of tools or machinery. They organized across England hammers in hand to dismember that new form of technology that broke up and colonized their communities – the centralized giant looms owned by a few wealthy owners. In France, they threw “sabots” (wooden shoes) into the gears (and hence the term “sabotage”). The Grow or Die system physically crushed the Luddites and other mass movements, and then obliterated memory of their heroic example from the history texts. The new technologies and the commodities produced through their use embody an ensemble of social relations that do not stand outside of the history of exploitation, organization of production, class relations, hierarchies of domination and control, the desecration of the natural environment, and destruction of the Commons. Industrial production based on the assembly line and now the genetic engineering of agriculture are technologies of colonization of both Labor and Nature, no matter the kind of system utilizing them.

We Leftists must reject the “factory form” of production altogether. The Cuban revolution had begun to envision new ways for producing the things humans need and desire, but that could only be made possible when we stop measuring “progress” through a striving for “efficiency” – at least an “efficiency” as measured through capitalist criteria. Where, for example, are all of those supposedly “inefficient” bicycles that had daily flooded the streets of Havana in the ’90s, streets that are choking, once again, on the exhaust of GM and Ford dinosaurs of the 1950s? The charms of the old cars fade quickly when we consider that they exacerbate asthma, cause lung cancer, and increase infant mortality and health costs to society as a whole – costs that the capitalist model excludes from its measure of “efficiency”. Regardless of which class owns and controls the means of production, capitalism’s shaping of “progress” and “the good life” will inevitably end up undermining the forces of socialism and ravaging the planet.

So now, let’s get back to that “bloodlash of ‘Progress’ ” and alternatives to it.

Cuba could become the world leader in global ecology, organic agriculture, and alternative and sustainable solar energy. Even in the far more impoverished and chaotic Haitian country­side Solar Energy powers whole communities. Why not in Cuba? With planning, Cuba could become the exemplar of what socialist revolution could mean in practice. It could present not only “health care for all” but, in addition, an expansive view of comple­mentary or holistic medicine freed from the biases of Western technological and pharmaceutical models. Imagine thousands of visitors flocking to Cuba to learn ecologically sound planning, farming, diet and health!

But for that to happen, the Revolution must reach deeply into that well of its most precious waters – the creativity, high political consciousness and humor of its people – that is, its Socialism! Cubans would take pride in being the first western country to reject the industrial model of science & ecology, and in leading the charge to saving the planet. That is what socialism must become. Socialists must reject that bloodlash of ‘progress’ that whips all who stray back into the neoliberal model, with its technological quick-fix “solutions” like the so-called “Green Revolution” and Genetic Engineering. We must create a new Internationale of those who exert their self-determination as a people, as anti-imperialists, and as Eco-Warriors in defense of this planet. More than ever, the choice comes down to this: The Capitalist System vs. the Immune System – for the entire planet!

Cuba has begun experimenting with the genetic engineering of agriculture. We’ve heard mixed reports about how far along that is and what the process will be in determining Cuba’s future in that regard. Socialists should not have to ask – but I guess we still need to do so – whether manufacturing living plants to withstand huge amounts of pesticides and herbicides, or turning every cell in a stalk of corn into a mini-pesticide factory that sterilizes the soil of nutrients and life and that won’t wash off, is something that socialists should applaud, regardless of whether it would increase yield – and it doesn’t even do that when all factors are considered. Please remember, we are no longer talking about the customary technologies that at least in theory could be re-called, like a car, if a flaw is discovered. Once a genetically modified organism is re­leased into the wild it cannot be taken back. It’s too late. It’s out there reproducing on its own. And, through drift, it pollutes the land and colonizes the local plants and natural environment.

Agro-Ecologists Fernando Funes Aguilar, Miguel Altieri, and Fernando R. Funes-Monzote convincingly show that newly avail­able financial and material resources … “are for the most part be­ing used to implement specialized conventional, large-scale monoculture” in Cuba. They write that “such industrial agricul­ture for export is dependent on genetically engineered corn and soy, heavy use of pesticides and herbicides, and centralized mono­cropping requiring the use of large machinery, non-organic fertilizer, and heavy use of water.”

In fact, in 2011 the pesticide manufacturer “Juan Rodriguez Gomez” IN HAVANA, produced around 100,000 liters of the herbicide Glyphosate, according to Funes. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp, a toxic herbicide suspected by Greenpeace of causing cancer and nerve disorders, and is especially dangerous for children.

Will the drive for much-needed investments let the devil out of Pandora’s box and overrun the socialist potential in Cuba’s eco­nomic and ecologically sound policies? We need to follow Fidel’s lead here and think more carefully about our acceptance of such capitalist technologies as genetic engineering and nuclear power.

I invite our comrades in the Cuban government and the Cuban people to put an end to this deadly experiment with genetic engin­eering and a return to chemical agriculture before it goes any fur­ther, and before it becomes too late to reverse course, and to pub­li­cize that position at the U.N. and throughout Latin America. Im­ag­ine the powerful shot-in-the-arm to the global movement against GMOs, should Cuba join it and provide it with socialist leadership!

Cuba, POR FAVOR, stop the experimentation with genetically engineered crops and seeds now!

I close with two excerpts from poems, the first by the great Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal:

“Nothing ever comes to the sleeper but a dream.”

And the second by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

“Rise like lions after slumber
In Unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in Sleep have fallen on you
Ye are many, they are few.”

* * *

Following the talk, Mitchel circulated the following Open Letter, and asked for signatures:


We, the undersigned friends of the Cuban revolution visiting Havana and participating in the Encuentro of “Socialist Reno­va­tion and Capitalist Crisis,” are deeply concerned with the pro­posed introduction of genetically modified agriculture to Cuba.

We recognize that unlike other technologies, once a genetically engineered organism is released into the wild, it will be difficult to recall. The engineered genes will drift, invade other plants and reproduce on their own, transforming indigenous plants in ways that are not known, unplanned, and potentially dangerous to human health and to Cuba’s sensitive ecological balance.

We oppose the genetic engineering of agriculture in our own countries and we urge a full and public discussion of this issue in Cuba, hopefully leading to Cuba’s complete rejection of gen­et­ic­al­ly engineered agricultural technology.

Mitchel Cohen
Green Party, and WBAI Radio
Brooklyn, New York

Nancy Cain
Sierra Club
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Beth Youhn
Oakland, California

Larry Udell
West Chester University
Poenixville, Pennsylvania

Eduardo Mendieta
Stony Brook University
E. Setauket, New York

MarxLenin P. Valdes
Universidad de la Habana
La Habana, Cuba

David Schweikert
Loyola University
Chicago, Illinois

Gene Vanderport
Socialist Forum
Urbana, Illinois

Peter Ranis
City College of NY Graduate Center
New York City, New York

Frank Marshalek
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

Vicki Legion
American Federation of Teachers
San Francisco, California

Yodenis Guirola
University of Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain/Sta Clara, Cuba

Chris Kinder
Labor Action to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Oakland, California

Zoila Fajardo
Universidad de la Habana
Habana, Cuba

William Crossman
Cuban 5 Committee
Oakland, California

Rita L. Moneia Fernandez
Medico Master C.P.
Universidad de la Habana
Habana, Cuba

Orlando Cruz Capote
Institute Filosofia
Universidad de la Habana
Habana, Cuba

* Names of organizations are for identification purposes only. The indivi­d­ual signing the open letter is self-iden­ti­fying as a member of that organization, but that should not be taken to imply that the organization itself has neces­sarily taken a position on this issue.