tv Democracy Now LINKTV October 11, 2022 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
10/11/22 10/11/22 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! amy: the president of the los angeles city council nury martinez has resigned from her leadership post after she was caught on tape mocking indigenous people and for describing the black son of a
white member of the council as a little monkey. she and two other councilmembers who took part of the conversation are facing calls to resign as a scandal grows. ron herrera has also resigned. we will get the latest. then a jury in utah has acquitted two animal rights activist who faced prison time for rescuing two sick piglets from a farm. >> they did not deserve the suffering they were livi in. the jury thought that, too. on to the next rescue. amy: with midterm elections four weeks away, we look at the power grassroots movements and more with the legendary sociologist and political activist frances fox piven. she turned 90 on monday. >> i haveeen studying american social movements all omy adult life and particiting in them
as well. i think ty are the key to derstanding why certain moments in the united states have become more humane, just society. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in ukraine, at least 19 people were killed and dozens more left injured monday as russia's military continued to rain bombs and missiles down on cities. the kremlin said the long-range air strikes were aimed at ukraine's energy and military infrastructure in retribution for a weekend explosion that damaged a y bridge linking russia to crimea, the ukrainian territory annexed by moscow in 2014. russian president vladimir putin has blamed ukraine for the blast, calling it an act of terrorism. this morning ukraine's military claimed to have shot down several russian crews missiles.
russia's latest strikes came as the u.n. general assembly gathered for an emergency session on monday ahead of a vote later this week on whether to accept russia's recent annexation of four partially-occupied territories of ukraine. poland's u.n. ambassador was among those urging member states to vote "no." >> not condemning the annexation means weakening the u.n. charter and the whole u.n. system. one cannot expect u.n. situations to function efficiently if one builds -- amy: today ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy is holding virtual talks with leaders of the g7, including u.s. president joe biden and u.k. prime minister liz truss. it's expected that zelenskyy will ask for even more heavy weaponry, including advanced air defense systems. the leader of belarus said monday he will deploy a joint military task force with russia near belarus' border with ukraine. president alexander lukashenko
said he'd agreed to the deal during a meeting last weekend with russian president vladimir putin in st. petersburg. lukashenko announced the troop movements as he warned nato not to station nuclear weapons in poland, suggesting he may be preparing to allow russia to deploy nuclear arms in belarus. >> military of political leaders of nato in several european countries are already openly considering options of possible aggression against our country, including the launching of a nuclear strike. tell the president of ukraine and other lunatics if any of them are still there that the crimean bridge will seem to them like a walk in the park if they ever touch a single leader of our territory with their dirty hands. amy: in venezuela, at least 36 people were devastated -- were killed by devastating floods over the weekend in the north-central state of aragua. 56eople remain missing. venezuelan vice president delcy rodríguez said the equivalent of
one month of rain fell in just eight hours. in central america, tropical storm julia brought intense rainfall to regions already saturated by weeks of heavy rains, triggering flooding and mudslides that killed at least 28 people in guatemala and el salvador. meanwhile, a new joint report from the united nations and the red cross warns that current rates of greenhouse gas emissions are set to drive more intense heatwaves that will cause large-scale suffering and loss of li across huge swaths of africa and asia, where human life could become unsustainable by mid-century. the report warns heatwaves will add to mass migration and further entrenched inequality, impacts that are already emerging today. the u.n.'s high commissioner for refugees has made an urgent appe for funding, warning of severe cuts unless his agency raises another $700 million by the end of this year. filippo grandi said monday that russia's invasion of ukraine had pushed the number of people forcibly displaced from their
homes worldwide to more than 100 million. he said that's led the u.n. refugee agency's annual budget to balloon to over $10 billion. >> while the ukraine response has been and must continue to be well-funded, this has to be the target for all operations. funding for new emergencies like ukraine needs to be in addition to, not instead of, the others. amy: in haiti, several people were shot monday, at least one of them fatally after police fired tear gas on thousands of protesters who took to the streets of the capital port-au-prince. protesters demanded the resignation of the u.s.-backed prime minister ariel henry and called on the government to reverse its decision to seek foreign military assistance. >> unemployment, the high cost of living, and security -- it is for all of these reasons i am in
the streets to say no to the occupation. amy: the united nations is urging the activation of a rapid action force to haiti to combat armed gangs that have blockaded the main terminal in port-au-prince, blocking imports of food, fuel, and other necessities. this comes amid warnings of a looming public health disaster as a new outbreak of cholera emerged this month. in 2010, u.n. peacekeepers inadvertently sparked a cholera outbreak that killed 10,000 people. and u.n. forces in haiti have been accused of sexual violence. in the occupied west bank, a 12-year-old palestinian child died monday, two weeks after being shot and seriously wounded by israeli forces during a raid in the jenin refugee camp in late september. mahmoud mohammad samoudi was at least the 165th palestinian killed by israeli soldiers in the occupied west bank and gaza this year alone. at least 44 of those killed were children.
mexico has filed another lawsuit against five u.s.-based firearm dealers responsible for fueling the flow of illegal weapons and a surge of murders in mexico. foreign relations secretary marcelo ebrard said monday the new lawsuit targets five gun shops based in arizona that have made firearms widely accessible to straw buyers who then help smuggle them into mexico. he said in recent years about 60% of the weapons seized in mexico were traced back to 10 u.s. counties, mostly along the u.s.-mexico border. this comes after a u.s. federal court in late september dismissed a separate $10 billion lawsuit mexico filed last year against u.s.-based gun manufacturers. in thailand, families of the victims of last week's massacre at a child care center gathered at buddhist temples tuesday morning to mark the end of three days of funeral ceremonies honoring their loved ones. a 34-year-old former police officer fatally shot and stabbed
at least 36 people, including two dozen chchildren, at the yog children's development center in uthai sawan last thursday. it was thailand's bloodiest mass shooting since 2020. meanwhile, two u.s. urnalists who work for cnn apologized for their coverage of the deadly attack after entering the building where the killing happened without permission. thai press gups accud cnn reporter anna coren and cameraman daniel hodge of breaching journalistic ethics in . in ohio, u.s. senate candidates squared off and on monday evening debate that will help determine the balance of power in the next congress. republican venture cap list j.d. vance repeatedly defended the actions of donald trump, whose endorsement helped propel him to victory in ohio's republican primary last may. he faces democratic congress member tim ryan, who accused vance of having his dignity taken away from him by the former president. in georgia, new details have emerged about how republican senate candidate hershel walker paid for a girlfriend's abortion
in 2009. the antitrust republican has denied reports despite the existence of copious evidence. over the weekend, it was reported text have emerged showing walker's wife reached out to the ex-girlfriend. walker has publicly called for a total ban on abortions without exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother. this comes as democrats hope to harness voter anger over the supreme court's june ruling allowing states to ban abortion. in wisconsin, democrat mandela barnes is hoping to unseat republican incumbent ron johnson to become the state's first ever african-american u.s. senator. >> i would absolutely vote to codify roe v. wade, to protect the right to an abortion, the right to choose, to protect women's rights. amy: the president of the los angeles city council has stepped down from leadership role after she was recorded saying racist remarks against black and indigenous people. martinez made the comments last
year on a phone call discussing redistricting with council members kevin de león and gil cedillo, as well as l.a. labor federation president ron herrera, who has also just resigned his post. it is unclear who recorded the call or who leaked it to the media, but it comes just weeks before voters head to the polls in los angeles to pick a new mayor. we'll have much more on this story after headlines. in labor news, unionized railroad maintenance and construction workers have rejected a tentative deal with railroad carriers, renewing the possibility of a strike. the tentative agreement was brokered last month with the help of the biden administration's presidential emergency board. it would add one additional paid day off and allow workers to take unpaid days to get medical care without being penalized. workers had denounced a lack of any paid sick time. the deal also included a pay raise of about 20% by 2024. the rail carriers have seen
their profits soar in recent years while workers' wages were stagnant. and renowned defense lawyer billy sotherhas died by suicide. he was 45 years old. sothern became known for defending low income people across what's known as the death belt, a region stretching from alabama to east texas where death penalty cases are prevalent. sothern took up some of the toughest cases, including the wrongful conviction of albert woodfox, a former black panther who spent 42 years in solitary confinement for a crime he he always said he did not commit. democracy now! spoke to billy sothern in 2016 when woodfox was released from prison. >> if you look back through the course of albert's case, we see the suppression of evidence by the prosecution. we see ineffective assistance of counsel for people who can't afford their own lawyers.
we see an appellate process that is incredibly rece is -- resistive to providing new trials, even when it is manifest in the right thing to do. so while of course it is amazing that after 43 years albert woodfox is now out of prison, it is also horrifying that it took 43 years for this injustice to be corrected. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman in new york, joined by democracy now! co-host juan gonzález in new brunswick, new jersey. hi, juan. juan: hi, amy. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. amy: we begin today's show looking at a growing political scandal in los angeles. on monday, the president of the los angeles city council nury martinez resigned from her leadership post after she was caught on tape using racist language against indigenous people in the city and for
describing the black son of a city council as a "little monkey." martinez made the comments last year during a conversation discussing redistricting with los angeles city council member's kevin de león and gil cedillo as well as ron herrera, the head of the los angeles county federation of labor who also resigned yesterday. it is unclear who recorded the call or who leaked it to the media, but it comes just weeks before voters head to the polls in los angeles to pick a new mayor. the scandal has put a spotlight on tension between latinx and black political leaders in los angeles. in one part of the phone call, nury martinez can be heard talking about the adopted son of fellow democratic councilmember mike bonin. bonin is white. his son is black. she accused bonin handling his son as if he were a "accessory" like a purse and she describes the boy as "changuito," which translates as "little monkey." listen closely.
with gil cedillo, commenting about indigenous people from central america that live in koreatown. she describes them as "short dark people" and then used a spanish term to say they are ugly. amy: that last voice was ron herrera, who resigned yesterday as head of the l.a. county federation of labor. "the los angeles times" is now
calling for all three city council members heard on the call to resign -- nury martinez, kevin de león, and gil cedillo. we are joined now by two guests. melina abdullah is co-founder of black lives matter-los angeles and organizes globally with blm grassroots. she is a professor of pan-african studies at california state university, los angeles. and odilia romero is the co-founder and executive director of indigenous communities in leadership, or cielo, an indigenous women-led group in los angeles that supports indigenous migrant communities. we welcome you both back to democracy now! odilia romero, let's begin with you. you held a news conference yesterday calling on the resignation of these latinx leaders in los angeles. can you respond to what is unfolding, this leaked tape of a conversation i had about a year ago? -- they had about a year ago? >> and i first heard the tape, i
was very upset. i was very upset because these are elected officials that were making these comments. i was not surprised, though, because part of our struggle at cielo is to call out the broader movement -- to call them in and say, hey, we have to stop these racism against indigenous people. as a human rights organization, we get these calls every day of someone who says, give me a oaxacan speaker. we're like, what is that? we fight against discrimination on a daily basis but it was not shocking -- i am shocked that people are shocked this happened but indigenous people go through this every single day in different parts of their daily
lives, schools, hospitals, on the streets. so her inciting hate against indigenous people has a direct impact on our lives at a school, at a hospital. we still want her to resign. she resigned the presidency, but a person like nury and kevin cannot continue representing us as angelenos because you are inciting hate against our african-american relatives, indigenous people. it is unacceptable. juan: could you talk about the oaxacan community in koreatown and how it was brought into this discussion of voting redistricting? >> well, koreatown has a lot of our community. i would say it is one of the most beautiful places because
there is so much diversity there. my entire family lives in koreatown. indigenous people live in koreatown. and that area, you know, it is part of cedillo's. . for me, the comments were disgusting but that area of koreatown, there is a lot of indigenous oaxacans but also they failed to recognize we contribute to koreatown and not only koreatown, where all over. redistricting is happening. on that conversation, it is unfortunate what they think of us and also was services they would provide or, you know, how is it they're going to serve a group of people they talk so
awful about, right? i think -- juan: i wanted to ask you also, you mentioned councilman does a deal. i have known him for more than 30 years and i tried to reach him. i got him on the phone last night and asked him about this horrendous -- this horrendous conversation. he was remorseful but at the same time, he admitted he should have spoken out and tried to septic council president from some of her remarks. can you talk about the fact ,gil cedillo has been a champion of the end document for decades in los angeles. can you talk about the contrast between his action and words in the buys he showed, especially toward the oaxacan community in the state? >> i have known cedillo as well
for many years. after that conversation, i saw him at a restaurant. the first thing you tell me, you look so festive today. he might be remorseful, but i don't think it comes from his heart. so -- i mean, he has been a champion of drivers license for undocumented people, but he has shown -- his words. it is not uncommon for the broader latino movement to make this comment. we go back -- there are things you do, for example, support the drivers license, but you are thinking as a broader latino, not thinking this is going to benefit indigenous people. we have an issue, we are loved into being latinos every single one of us. ellen is taking into account within the latin american
continent, there are people that speak other languages. we are different foster our culture is different. our language is different. we are not part of the latino community. just continued what we have been living for hundreds of years, indigenous people with racism and discrimination. it is very common for people to call us these names, right? i am not going to repeat them because they are very harmful. what am i going to tell my 12-year-old when he is hearing all of these things about indigenous oaxacans? amy: i want to bring melina abdullah into the conversation. she is the co-founder of black lives matter-los angeles. professor, your response to what has taken place? and if you could comment overall about tensions between the black and latino communities in los angeles? >> i appreciate sister odilia
for pulling together black and indigenous people for the press conference that was held. black lives matter was also invited. i think that should be the narrative of what los angeles really is. that in community, black folks, indigenous folks, brown folks to work together to challenge racism, to challenge oppression. and that is really the story of los angeles. what we saw happen, what we heard happen is an imitation of seven elected leaders that they intend to simply replace white supremacist suppressors with brown faces. brown faces that an act the same kind of oppressive policies and use the same kind of oppressive language as white folks who once held power and are on their way out. i think that is what we are
seeing happening. what is harmful to me is, yes, it was really hurtful and problematic to listen to this language -- and i definitely have reached out as a black mother. i felt very hurt for his son. his son at the time was two years old. and to talk about any black child as if they were -- the way they were spoken about is painful. but beyond the pain and beyond the hurt is also this effort to really sideline black power, to oppress power. that meeting was about redistricting and the city of los angeles. these four so-called leaders were conspiring to undermine black power in the city of los angeles. so my assessment of it is black
folks and brown folks and indigenous folks and everybody wants a just and equitable and fair and transparent and mocratic system in los angeles has to come together and demand that all four of them resign. so not just ron herrera step down, not just nury martinez stepping down from her leadership position from about the three city councilmembers must step down from their city council seat. and then we must undergo a fundamental culture shift within both the political sphere, but also within organized labor where i am also a delegate to l.a. county -- where ron herrera was president. last that within 60 black leaders came together on an emergency call. we stayed up until the wee hours of this morning and came up with a list of demands.
demands that, yes, all four of them be removed from their post that they stepped down from their post, but also we want more than that. we want the presidency to go to mike bonin for the remainder of the term. we want to make sure no elected leader is permitted to carry out any leadership position, anything that is anti-black or racist or homophobic -- which we have not yet talked about -- and we want to make sure the culture shift within the l.a. county federation of labor sees there is an opening up of seeds and leadership positions to black folks who are in labor and that also includes the removal of police association from the federation of labor. so there is lots beyond the resignation of these folks. it is more than just hurt feelings. this is about how this has negatively impacted black power
in the city and we also want an investigation into that. how does this the lines that were drawn as it were plotting and planning about redistricting. juan: professor, you mentioned -- we have not talked about the homophobic character -- these conversations revealed bias that was anti-black, anti-indigenous, anti-gay, and also you have mentioned that you believe it is also claist. could you talk about that? >> if you listen to the tape, they were talking about renters in the city. renters make up majority of los angeles. we know black folks are being pushed out of the city of los angeles. we have seen really kind of running out of the city black folks and poor folks are being run out of theity because of the gentrificatio
that is taking place. speaking negatively about renters, speaking negatively about our tems to organize. in fact are usually successful attempts to organize, kevin de leon is on the tape talking about the wird of oz and how we make a scene like therere 0 of us but there are really only 25 black people yelling. let me tell you, there were more than 25 black people yelling last night outside of kevin de leon's house. more than that outside nury martinez's house and there will be more than 25 black people yellinthis morning as hundreds of as are prepared to to los angeles city council meeting to demand that they all stepped down from their city council seats. amy: many indigenous people are in the labor federation that ron herrera has now just resigned
from. odilia romero, the resources you have been demanding for the crisis of how people deal with migration in this country, you the leader of the indigenous community in los angeles that has been slandered i in this conversation? >> well, with the situation with ron herrera, it is unfortunate that he did not have the knowledge, the contribution as indigenous workers. and went on to allow these awful remarks against indigenous people. this racism against black, indigenous people, it is the lgbtq needs to stop. we continue to demand that nury martinez, kevin deleon and gil cedillo resign and we are headed to city hall today.
amy: odilia romero, peggy for being with us, cofounder and director of indigenous communities in leadership, or cielo, an indigenous women-led group in los angeles and melina abdullah is a co-founder of black lives matter-los angeles. organizes globally with blm grassroots. professor of pan-african studies at california state university, los angeles. speaking to us today from san juan, puerto rico. coming up, a jury has acquitted two animal rights activist who faced years in prison for rescuing two sick piglets from a smithfield foods factory farm in utah. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
amy: "when the sun goes down" by dogbowl and kramer. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. in utah, a jury acquitted two animal rights activists this weekend who faced prison time for rescuing two sick piglets from smithfield's circle four farms in utah, one of the world's largest pig farms. it's a major victory for the animal rights group direct action everywhere, which has been fighting to establish a "right to rescue" animals in distress. duri the rese operion, actists withhe groupound pigletfeedinon the own ther's blood,regnant gs he in gestional cres too smalfor themo turn aund inand ck andevish pigletleft to e of startion or trample thiss wayne iung, rect action erywhere a video filmedurinthe resc at ithfiel's cile four farms. >> we see piles of dead piglets,
crushed to death, starved at. we have a little one who is covered in blood. she is going to die unless we get her out. her mother's nipples have been cut. you can't even get milk out of them. her children are literally drinking blood to survive. this little piglet whose face is covered in blood, she is not going to make it so we are going to take her out and give her the medical care she deserves and then take her to sanctuarynd hofully shsurviv. am wayne hung on to describe what he found outside a dumpster at the smithfield pig fa in utah. >> set a dumpster at circle four and they literally took a mother pig who is sick and not able to stand any longer, to her in here headfirst the pilot probably 100 dead babies. we could still hear the blood dripping from her body. she probably died from blunt force trauma to the head. she is covered with all sorts of
disgusting vcs, blood, bodily fluids. this is what happens at every single pig farm in the world because they treat these animals at they are just things. they are living creatures. they deserve better than this. amy: that was wayne hsiung of direct action everywhere at a pig farm in 2017. he and fellow animal rights activist paul picklesimer were just acquitted by a jury on saturday night. wayne hsiung joins us now. cofounder of direct action everywhere. can you talk about the significance of the jury acquitting you both? you faced 5.5 years in prison? >> we initially faced 11 years in prison. one of the counts was dismissed. it is an incredible victory. i am still kind of reeling from it because not only is this a jury that is highly dependent on
agriculture, but the moves tonight as the rig to present most of the evidence your viers just heard. people on the jury were only ableo hear lited portions. we felt these animals need a medical care and that was enough for them to exonerate us from any criminal responsibility. that is a resounding victory. for the idea that animals are living things and not just things to be thrown away into a garbage can. juan: wayne, could you talk about circle four farms? it is one ofhe largest hog producing facilities in the country. processes more than one million pigs a year. smithfield foods have promised to phase out the use of gestation crates. what are gestation crates? and did smithfield foods make good on their promise? >> gestation crates, i like to
call them basically metal tombs that mother pig is fced to live in. moer pigs are vy larg animals. ey are about 600, 70pounds. twice the size an nfl lineman. statiocrates sml metal box that looks like a cloud that grou the animal and lds them in place wh about square fe of face that theother pi will essenally livin for thr ourives smithfield foods promised they would phasthese cres out. consumers have revold against them. they don'tant the pigs confinedn crat we did our investigation and circle fr far becauset is e single largestacility the united states, hug amount the porproducti in the united stes come from cile four. when wwalked in march 20 17, 2
mohsfter supposedly they had phased out these crates, we found thoands of thousands of mother pigs in these crateand not a single outside. amy: smithfield's vice president corporate affairs said in a statement -- "this verdict is very disappointing as it may encourage anyone opposed to raising animals for food to vandalize farms. following this 2017 incident, we immediately launched an investigation and completed a third-party audit after learning of alleged mistreatment of animals on a company-owned hog farm in milford, utah. the audit results showed no findings of animal mistreatment." can you respond to that, wayne? also, tell us about these baby piglets and how you went into the factory, they were less than a week old each, you named them lily and lizzie, and where you brought them? >> in regard to the first part of the statement that so encourage people to vandalism, it won't. this is a completely
nonviolent action. we walked in through an open door. we did not damage any property. we had no intent to harm anyone, not even the company. our only intent was people had the right to know what was happening in these facilities and give animals that were suffering the right to be rescued. the second part of the statement within audit -- first of all, these are audits paid for b smithfie. secondarily, we obtained a copy of t audit. even their own in-house audit paid for by smithfield itself found baby pigs piled up in gas chambers three deep. you cannot pilot living, dying sick animals three deep inside a gas chamber. this is what they're considering humane. with respect to these two baby piglets, they were in terrible conditions. we were not able to present
evidence of the general condition at smithfield and the promise they made about gestation crates, but we were able about these particular piglets because they were subject of the so-called theft. honestly, when the jurors first saw lizzie with her face covered in blood was scoring all across her face because she was unable to access food from her mother, i could see their faces were horrified. they were seeing across the nation when people see, especially individual animals that feel the suffering of the individual animal, they realize, i don't want to be part of the system. i want to be something else. juan: could you talk about not only how some of these factory farms mistreat and basically torture these animals but also how they deal with their workers, most of whom are immigrants? >> smithfield has a long history of mistreatment of its own employees.
bob herbert at "the new york times" did a number of pieces about unionbusting efforts at smithfield. at some of their largest plans, not only preventg workers from unionizingny illegal ways, they were physically assaulting their employees. this has been reviewed in federal court. against workers mainly trying to get a living wage. factory farms are some of the most dangerous places to work in the world because of blades and gas chambers and devices used to harm animals can be used inadvertently to hm human beings. probably the most infamous incident is smithfield's history that unfolded at the exact site where we did our investigation was human trafficking where they were shipping people in from asia, not paying them, threatening their families back home. smithfield escaped almost all of accountable to for this incident. it has been widely reported in the media since the early
2000's. smithfield escaped responsibility because they blame the contractors, blamed subsidiary, blame someone else and said "." ." this is not our fault hundreds of employees, they claim they care for the animals, and their own workers with a lot of intention yet they did not realize their people being trafficked in their own facility. amy: we want to thank you for joining us. wayne hsiung is an animal rights advocate, speaking to us from utah where he was involved with the direct action, rescue of piglets five years ago. he and his colleague were just acquitted on saturday night. they faced first 11 years than 5.5 years each in prison. coming up, we talked to frances fox piven, the legendary sociologist and political activist. she just turned 90 yesterday. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
amy: "by your side" by sade. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. within midterm elections four weeks away, we spend the rest of the hour with a sociologist, activists come the legendary frances fox piven. she turned 90 on frances fox monday. piven is a longtime social movement scholar and distinguished professor emerita of political science and sociology at the city university of new york graduate center. her groundbreaking books include "regulating the poor" and "poor people's movements: why they succeed, how they fail" with her late husband and collaborator richard cloward. her other books include "challenging authority: how ordinary people change america" and "why americans still don't vote." we welcome you back to democracy now! happy birthday, frances fox piven.
it is great to have you with us. >> thank you so much. it is lovely to talk to you again. i am glad to be on the program. amy: so can you talk about where we are today in this country and movements around the world, from your perspective and your almost a century of wisdom around people's movements? ok, maybe more like 70 years. >> well, we are at a kind of crisis juncture in american development. and in theorld' is development. but we have been there before. democracy, we think of the united states as a democratic country. it is always been a very limited democracy. and what kind of what democratic rights we have have always been fought for.
we did not get them automatically. we did not get them with the agreement of the propertied classes in the united states. so american histories is punctuated by bigger fights over the contest between a kind of authoritarianism and democracy. we are at another juncture, a bigger contest about democratic rights. and it is complicated because it isn't necessarily all the people, the ordinary people who fight for democracy. all sorts of cults have a grip on american development. and the very complexity of our political system makes it more
likely that authoritarian -- the authoritarian classes who control the american economy will dominate at least parts of the population, parts of the constituency we wish would be democratic. however, always, frothe very beginning of the american experiment, always people have discovered sources of power which make it possible to retain some democratic rights and to fight for new democratic right that is a key point i would like to make. people do have power. and they have power because we live in a complex, integrated society where the activities of ordinary people really do matter
. and because they really do matter, because they go to work, because they drive to work, they use transportation system - because everyo depends on everyone else, people can exercise power. and much of that power is achieved, realized through a kind of defiance, through a kind of refusal. that is what a strike is. people withdraw their labor. but they can also withdraw other forms of obedience, and that is why there is always the prospect that we will survive this assault on democracy, that we will make progress, that we will control environmental pollutants, that we will limit the use of military -- we do.
we achieve these things even though it is always utterly contested. juan: frances, you mentioned the ability of people to protest. first of all, happy birthday to you. >> thank you. juan: i want to remind you that -- i think it was a classic picture back in 1950 -- 55 years ago in 1968 have you climbing up to a second floor -- the second floor of a building at columbia university when we were on strike. joined the protesters. that was 55 years ago. i wanted to ask you about the role of these protest movements in effecting social change, whether it is the student strikes, labor sikes, ocpy wall street in terms of affecting major changes in
america policy. >> well, i think movements, protest movements, defiant movements, movements that break the rules, are the main lever, the main weapon that ordinary people have in realizing their aspirations and protecting their democratic rights. this does not mean that everybody is sort of on track, that t movement includes the entire population. but the abolitionists, for example, or the strike movement of the late/early 19th-century, or the civil rights movement, these movements defied the usual norms, protocols of cooperative
living and because they did, they shut things down. and because they shut things down, they had to be attended to. their demands had to be responded to. their vision of a better society had to acquire a kind of recognition. so i don't think that has changed. we still live in a densely interdependent society. it is still the case that virtually everybody in society is locked into cooperative relationships which make their participation and their acquiescence necessary so that this kind of mass refusal is still the main lever through which ordinary people change american politics.
juan: these kinds of protests refusals are not solely of those who are progressive on the left. we are seeing now in the united states rising populist fascism. and wondering your thoughts about the dangers of the growth of authoritarianism and fascism in the united states. >> i think it is extremely dangerous. i think in fact that i understand fascism to consist of a kind of coalition between propertied elites and discontent mob. that was german fascism, bolsonaro is another example, duterte. so it is complicated.
what we have to worry about is the difficulty of understanding what is happening in a complicated political system. and because it is so hard to understand, people are susceptible to propaganda in a way that is very, very dangerous so that we can have, for example, a rally of maga tears that aren't you glad about all of the automobile plants that i brought back to michigan and no on mobile plants were brought back to michigan. but who knows? it is hard for people to understand their own environment,heir own society. and that is why -- gives a very important role to activists, to educators, to dsa.
it is a dangerous time, but there is no alternative except to try to work with the people and take advantage of the critical role that people play making our society function. sohat the factories hum, the highways move, the subways move -- all of that depends on cooperation. and our ability to be a truly democratic society depends on the ability of people to withdraw that cooperation. amy: frances, i am wondering your thoughts on ben bernanke winning the nobel prize for economics. he was the fed chair from 2006 to 2014, appointed by both bush and obama. then he made his way through the revolving door, senior advisor
to one of the country's largest hedge funds citadel. but that kind of approach to economics and contrast that, for example, with a woman you have worked with for so many decades that wjust lt, barbara ehrenreich. >> barbara was a wonderful, brilliant person. i have known barbara for about 50 years. i worked with her. i wrote with her. i loved her. she was not only very smart, she was the essence oa decent person and a woman of the left. so her loss is tragic, but inevitable because we all die. barbara leaves in her --
barbara's death leaves us with her accomplishmen, not only her books but her economic hardship project in which she tually paid for young people -- young and poopeople to become the authors of their own life. begin toffect journalism and produce the journalism that will give us knowledge of what it means to be poor in the united states. amy: and ben bernanke? >> i have no opinion about him. [laughter] i mean, hes a member of the economic elite. he is the articulator and justifier of oligarchy, economic
oligarchy -- which is what the united states is. juan: frances, i wanted to ask about voting. several of the books you and richard cloward wrote were credited with pushing the motor voter rolls, making it easier for people to register to vote. your response to how you are seeing the attempts to restrict voting as much as possible across the united states by conservative republicans? >> it is very obvious, isn't it? republicans don't think they can win elections if they follow the basic rules of democracy come if they count the votes. they allow people to vote and then they count the vote. so observing that they are not likely to win if they do that, they have decided that if there --hey're going to tear down the elemental democratic arrangements that we have in the united states.
it is so horrifying and so important that we rally to defend basic democratic rights. it is not that these always work, it is not that they are perfect, it is not that they aren't corrupted. they are all those things. nevertheless, they help to humanize american society. it is a good thing that people vote. and more people actually do vote. and that is good, but we have to protect it because there is actually a concerted effort to dismantle democracy. republicans and -- amy: 10 seconds. >> have perceived their no longer popular and because they are no longer popular, they're going to smash the arrangements through which people express
themselves in the american political system and have some influence. amy: frances fox piven, thank you so much for being with us, longtime social movement scholar, and distinguished professor emerita of political science and sociology at the city university of new york graduate center. very happy 90th birthday.