Welcome to THE CULTURAL WORKER, a blog dedicated to arts of the people, from the radical avant garde and free jazz to dissident folk forms, punk and popular arts . The Cultural Worker celebrates revolutionary creativity and features a variety of essays, reviews, fiction, reportage, poetry and musings through the internet pen of this creative writer, journalist, musician and cultural organizer. Scroll straight down and you'll also find an extensive historical Photo Exhibit of cultural workers in action, followed by a series of Radical Arts Links. The features herein will be unabashedly partisan---make no mistake about that. The concept of the cultural worker as a force of fearless creativity, of social change, indeed as an artistic arm of radicalism, has always been left-wing when applied with any degree of honesty at all. No revolutionary act can be truly complete in the absence of art, no progressive campaign can retain its message sans the daring drumbeat of invention, no act of dissent can stand so strong as that which counts the writers, musicians, painters, dancers, actors, photographers, film and performance artists within its ranks. Here's to the history and legacy of cultural work in the throes of the good fight...
john pietaro

Thursday, November 10, 2016



By John Pietaro

ON THIS SECOND MORNING OF ELECTION 2016, staring into the surreal reality that Donald Trump is now president-elect, I find myself transitioning from the sickness and near-numbness of yesterday to a place of brewing anger. Like most on the Left, I was up very late on Election Night, uneasily throwing back a few, watching the results come in through gritted teeth. Yesterday morning in addition to feeling clouded, physically ill and psychically broken, I was exhausted. My day job in the labor movement provides a strong atmosphere of support but yesterday as I went into my midtown office for a team meeting, "venting " was first on the agenda. We were all in this same head of deep mourning but launched into a detailed conversation into the bitter reality of Trumpolotic: the icy blast came in a rush. In addition to his flagrant racist, sexist, xenophobic, greedy platform, he will probably push a viciously anti-Union agenda via Herr Scott Walker's "right to work" horseshit thrust onto the entire nation. Once inflicted, this would tear down the organized labor structure as we know it, vastly weakening unions, dividing workers and leaving a workforce with few if any rights on the job.

This is a change that we can never accept --just as we need to fight against his demonization of immigrants and people of color, his objectification of women and his complete corporatization of governance. No progressive or liberal of any stripe can allow a seizure of the nation by a power broker of the very rich now with the full strength of both houses of congress to trounce on (what remains of) the democratic concept. Trump's appeal to the working class, disaffected whites, unemployed rural people and the utterly gullible in addition to vile racists, Klansmen, xenophobes, homophobes, sexists, America-firsters---the perfect storm for fascist demagoguery---is something we have not experienced prior. This nation has been wracked with the greedy, the hateful and the isolationists who use the lowest tactics known, but prior to yesterday's tragic debacle, they've not been elected president.

This goes well beyond chilling. We are now awash in a very cold, a very urgent time and it must be faced head-on by all people of conscience. The Left must seek to build coalitions not of the moment but permanent bases from which to work. We need to use the model of the Popular Front which brought together Marxists, social democrats, unionists, liberals and the Democratic Party to fight the very real fascist threat overseas. Unified organizations of cultural workers carried the joint messages far and skilled community organizers, worked carefully to insure that workplaces and neighborhoods and families became a part of this serious need for CHANGE. And they operated successfully without any inkling of an internet, email or Skype! And until this mass coalition was manipulated to division, it was one of the vehicles used to hold the populace together and destroy Hitler's world conquest. And over the decades we've rarely if ever been able to repair the damage done. Many of our fights against injustice were fights alone. There is no place for such isolation of progressive activity now.

The present enemy we face is within and we need to both fight the power and find the means to bring in workers, because we cannot and should not do it alone. Today--not months into a Trump Administration-- we have to call on every voice, every hue, every culture that believes in equality and social justice; every working person, every oppressed community, artists, organizers and strategists of the wider Left; communists and socialists and anarchists and social democrats and liberals alike to begin the process. We can no longer allow our individual issues and organizations to separate us. We have no time left to waste, sisters and brothers.

The hour is late.

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