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Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom

A Community of Students, Teachers, Researchers, and Activists

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Edited By Nancye E. McCrary and E. Wayne Ross

What were once distinct professions for serving others and building knowledge are now communities of workers struggling against a tide of increasingly unregulated capitalism that is being fed by human greed. Teachers have become education workers, joining a working class that is rapidly falling behind and that is increasingly being silenced by the power elite who control nearly all the wealth that once supported a thriving middle class. Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom delivers critical counter-narratives aimed at resisting the insatiable greed of a few and supporting a common good for most. The book is dedicated to hopeful communities working against perpetual war, the destruction of our natural environment, increasing poverty, and social inequalities as they fight to preserve democratic ideals in a just and sustainable world. Written by some of the most influential thinkers of our time, this collection is a tapestry of social justice issues woven in and out of formal and informal education.
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Chapter Fifteen: Our Pass-Fail Moment: Livable Ecology, Capitalism, Occupy, and What Is to Be Done

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FIFTEEN

Our Pass-Fail Moment: Livable Ecology, Capitalism, Occupy, and What Is to Be Done1

Paul Street

I guess I’m here to put a little green in your rouge. The title of my talk (I hope you all appreciate the education-related wording) is “Our Pass-Fail Moment: Livable Ecology, Capitalism, Occupy, and What Is to Be Done.”

Pissing in the Wind

Let me start with a quotation from a brilliant radical philosopher named John Sonbanmatsu. The quotation comes from a personal e-mail in which John was responding to something I’d said last year about progress I’d seen on the left with the labor uprising in Wisconsin and the emergence of Occupy Wall Street. The response from Sonbanmatsu was so profound I printed it off and taped it onto a bookshelf next to my desk.

“What’s striking to me, though,” John wrote,

“is how much extraordinary social progress has been made in some corners of the globe, toward sexual equality for gays and lesbians and liberal rights for women, while at the same time there has been zero progress–zero–toward challenging wage slavery, the power of monopoly capital, or the national security state. Nor…is there any meaningful progress being made toward the #1 issue of our or any time, which is the ecological crisis (including mass species extinctions and global warming)…to me the Left is just pissing in the wind....

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