18: Justin Akers Chacón on the violence of borders

July 16, 2018

Episode 3 guest Lupita Romero steps in for Jen to join Danny in a conversation with Justin Akers Chacón, a San Diego-based professor of U.S. History and Chicano Studies. He is the author of two new books: Radicals in the Barrio, about the history of Mexican and Mexican American working class revolutionaries; and an updated version of No One is Illegal, Justin’s important 2006 book with Mike Davis about fighting oppression in the American Southwest.

On top of all that, Justin is a longtime organizer of cross-border solidarity efforts for workers in both Mexico and the U.S., so we ended up having not one, but two conversations. We’ll release our discussion of Radicals in the Barrio in the coming weeks. This week, you’ll hear our conversation about the U.S.-Mexico border, which Justin describes to us as both “political theater” and an increasingly deadly reality.

We also talk about immigration politics, and how the enforcement-heavy debates in Washington have generally taken place several steps to the right of where public sentiment actually stands — except in those moments like the enormous marches in 2006, when immigrants and their supporters forced themselves onto the public stage.

Justin argues that today we might be seeing the rise of another such moment with the rapid spread of calls to abolish ICE and move past the dead-end negotiations for bipartisan “immigration reform.”

In our opening segment, our producer Eric joins Lupita and Danny for a conversation about socialism: the concept and the conference. Since the primary victory of democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (which Jen and Eric discussed in Episode 17), a surge of people have gone online to look up definitions of socialism. We discuss what’s wrong with the definition they find in the dictionary, and how the recent Socialism 2018 conference showed signs of a U.S. left that’s taking steps toward becoming a force than help a new generation give socialism a better name.

Links for this episode:

Justin’s new book: Radicals in the Barrio: Magonistas, Socialists, Wobblies, and Communists in the Mexican-American Working Class (http://bit.ly/RadicalsBarrio)

Justin’s updated version of No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border (http://bit.ly/NoOneIllegal)

Justin’s article written at the beginning of the Trump campaign “Capitalism and the new brown scare” (http://bit.ly/NewBrownScare)

“Life and death on the border” (http://bit.ly/LifeDeathBorder), a series of Socialist Worker articles written in 2011 by Justin, our producer Eric Ruder and Nohelia Ramos as they traveled the border from California to Texas.

“The new abolitionism” (http://bit.ly/AbolichICEDemand), Danny’s article on the importance of demand to abolish ICE.

From our opening segment, here are a few audio and video links to sessions from the Socialism 2018 conference:

Video from the evening plenary, “Workers Strike Back: Lessons of the Teachers’ Rebellion” (http://bit.ly/TeachersStrikePlenary)

Audio from “Future of the Socialist Left,” a discussion between Jen and Ella Mahony of DSA, moderated by Jason Farbman (http://bit.ly/FutureSocialistLeft)

Audio from Eva Maria’s talk: “Did Socialism Fail in Venezuela?” (http://bit.ly/SocialismVenezuela)

Music and audio for this episode:

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)
Las Cafeteras, “Trabajador Trabajadora”
La Santa Cecilia, “El Hielo (ICE)”
Woody Guthrie, “This Land Is Your Land”
Los Jornaleros Del Norte, “Serenata A Un Indocumentado”
Los Tigres Del Norte, “Tres Veces Mojado”