John Halle

Political Writing

A short comment: why I write these sorts of pieces here.

Previous articles (2001-2010), including those documenting my brief term as New Haven Alderman, here

Relatively recent pieces (2010-2014).

Three remarks by Adolph Reed transcribed from an appearance on Doug Henwood's Behind the News (2/27/1014)

On Obamania

On the multi-cultural packaging of the Obama "brand"

On the bankruptcy of the "anti-racist" political agenda

Nicholas Kristof Peddles Neo-Liberal Snake Oil as Remedy for Poverty (2/25/14)

Indeed the Times Op-Eder beloved of the Mia Farrow latté liberals does just that. 

(Published at the insufficiently appreciated site NY Times Examiner).

Mayday 2014: Fight for Fifteen (1/20/2014)

Following a suggestion by Socialist Alternative's Alan Akrivos at this Brecht Forum event, how the fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage can provide the foundation for developing socialist power at the ballot box.

Pushing Back on Austerity, Vampires, Crisis and Capitalism: The Last Symphony and its Critics (12/15/2013)

On Electoral Reforms, Sewer Socialism, and Concern-Trolling Technocrats (12/5/2013)

A dialogue with Green Party candidate Peter LaVenia provoked by the extraordinary victory of Socialist Alternative's Kshama Sawant for Seattle City Council.

Adorno's Nightmare (10/7/2013)

A broader view of classical music's week of nightmares marked by the collapse of the New York City Opera and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Pham Binh Leaves the North Star (9/28/2013)

Notes on the departure, for personal reasons, of an excellent editor from a promising left organization. He will be hard to replace-and we should understand why.

Kshama Sawant and the Socialist Politics of the Possible (8/12/13)

A socialist candidate receives 43.000 votes in a Seattle election.  Why this is a good thing.

(published at North Star)

Final Thoughts on the Aaron Swartz Affair (8/5/13)

A response to the official report on MIT's actions in relation to the prosecution and suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz.

(unpublished elsewhere)

When the Left Creates Monsters (7/21/13)

A follow up to the previous piece, examining how neo-liberalism is advanced through left channels under a multi-cultural veil.

The nearly identical trajectories of Wise and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry are discussed in this context.

(published at North Star)

Tim Wise's Game (7/11/13)

A critique of the well known "anti-racist education" expert.

(published at Doug Henwood's Left Business Observer blog)

"Nothing's Too Good for the Working Class": Classical Music, High Arts and Workers' Culture (6/14/13)

Long piece relating cultural front politics, the eclipse of high culture and the rock revolution to the evisceration of the working class.

(Published in Winter 2014 New Politics)

Resurrecting Bob Fitch: Recovering Solidarity, Reclaiming Souls (5/15/13)

Second annual Robert Fitch memorial lecture at Laguardia College.  (Video here, introduced by Left Business Review editor Doug Henwood)

Focusing the Left Mind (4/30/13)

A report on two socialist conferences. Criticism of some dominant tendencies on the contemporary socialist/Marxist left.

(Published at Northstar)

An Exchange with Robert Gordon (3/7/13)

An exchange with distinguished economist Robert Gordon provoked by his recent work predicting more or less stagnant rates of growth

in the upcoming decades.   Does this matter?  

Robert F. Kennedy thought about this question.  Gordon, evidently, has not.

A Cold War History Colloquy (1/25-1/30/13)

Responses to George Kennan's seminal cold war document PPS-23 by Rick Perlstein, Noam Chomsky, Greg Grandin, 

Andrew Hartman and others.  (Discussion provoked by my piece PSS-23 performed by Lucy Dhegrae and Le Train Bleu 

conducted by Ransom Wilson.  Video here.)

Updated (2/21/13): Exchange between Seth Ackerman and John Halle:

1) Ackerman to Halle (and Chomsky)

2) Halle to Ackerman

3) Ackerman to Halle 

4) Halle to Ackerman

1) - 4) combined in one long file here.

Beating Back the Dersh: Local Power and Political Reality in Brooklyn and Beyond (2/11/13)

My (unsolicited) opinion on the Brooklyn College/Alan Dershowitz controversy.

(Published in North Star)

Aaron Swartz: What We Know So Far, What We Need to Know (1/17/13)

A widely circulated short piece tying the hounding of internet activist Aaron Swartz by the Obama Justice Department and

MIT to a broader crackdown on campus activism.  

(Published in New Politics, North Star)

Justice for Aaron Swartz (1/12/13)

A discussion of some of the background relevant to the Aaron Swartz case



Burying Transactional Solidarity: The Resurrection of Bob Fitch and the post-Occupy Left (12/3/12)

A remembrance of the great radical journalist and independent scholar and the continuing relevance of his legacy.

(Published in Counterpunch and Northstar)

Did Black Friday Work? Some Questions and Answers (11/26/12)

A short first hand account of organizing and participating the Walmart Black Friday protests and related issues.


On Third Parties and Electoral Extravanganzas:  Kshawa Sawant Pushes on an Open Door (11/12/2012)

A radical socialist ray of hope emanating from the 2012 election.

(Published in Truthout 11/25/12 )

Self Immolation and the Left: The Greens Do it Again (10/24/2012)

How to (and how not to) participate in what Chomsky calls the "quadrennial electoral extravaganza".

(Published in Counterpunch and New Politics) 

Foes, Friends, and Fans: Last Rites for Alexander Cockburn (10/19/2012)

Some thoughts on the legacy of the most gifted left journalist of his generation.

(unpublished-for obvious reasons)

A Visit to Bikernieki (9/15/2012)

Reflections on a holocaust monument, right wing denialism and family history.

(Published in New Politics, Winter 2013-provoking predictably hysterical reaction from Israel firsters)

Poem: Living Epitaph (8/29/2012)

(Published version, slightly altered, at Counterpunch, Poets Basement)

Did Julian Assange Flush? (8/20/12)

An exchange with New York Times reporter John Burns on a matter of real substance (according to Burns).

Popping the Media Bubble: Fred Hampton, OWS and Us (7/16/12)

An extended pitch for signing onto this letter protesting NY Times smearing of Occupy Wall Street/

(Published at Counterpunch)  

Playing Kravis's Tune (7/4/12)Thoughts on one of the more problematic elite philanthropists and his sponsorship of new music at the NY Philharmonic.

(Published at Counterpunch)

Occupy Mayday (5/2/12)

An on the ground report of the Mayday general strike in Manhattan.  Now seems overly optimistic, alas.

(Published at Unrepentant Marxist, the North Star, and others.)

Paying the Fiddler, Calling the Tune and the Madwoman in the Attic (4/30/12)

Unpublished discussion on composers' evident discomfort with issues I raised in recent articles dealing with our funding sources. 

Occupy's Moment of Truth (3/30/12)

Unpublished short piece on police violence and repression and their undermining the foundation of OWS.

Occupy Wall Street, Composers and the Plutocracy: Some Variations on an Ancient Theme  (1/8/12)


Our Nakba and Theirs: Music, Modernism and the Twilight of the Elites (11/8/11)

Composers' cultural marginalization as a symptom of a widespread and by now familiar pathology.

(Reduced version published at Jacobin 4/27/12)

Standing With Occupy Wall Street (11/15-17)

A first person report of the aftermath of Bloomberg's raid on OWS, and the subsequent Wall Street Shut-Down and Foley Square Rally

(Published at Counterpunch)

To Supporters of President Obama (9/17/11)

Short Poem

(Published at Counterpunch, Poet's Basement)

Music of Change: Politics and Meaning in the Age of Obama (8/16/11)

Making sense of the Bush era wave of political music and it's quick dissipation in the age of Obama.

(Published in New Politics, Winter 2012)

Notes of a Wall Street Demonstrator (7/25/11)

Reflections on the Sept 24th march from Zuccotti Park, violently dispersed by a now notorious exercise of police brutality. In retrospect, the turning point for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

(Published in New Politics blog, Counterpunch, Unrepentant Marxist, Blue Cheddar, among others.)  

Left to Bernie: Will Sanders Answer the Call (7/24/11)

Even Jeffrey Sachs now believes that "America needs a third party movement to break the hammerlock of the financial elites." Why Bernie Sanders should step up to plate.  Unpublished elsewhere.

A Polemic (4/5/11)

Short poem responding to all-too-typical Obama apologetics in the New York Review.

Where the Fish Rots From: Racist Thuggery Rears its Head at Bard College (2/20/11)

The Price Bard College pays for Martin Peretz serving on its Board of Trustees

(unpublished related Exchange with Walter Benn Michaels ) 

Left Establishment Censorship in the Age of Obama (1/7/11)

Published at Dissident Voice.

(Final piece dealing with fall out from the Open Letter to the Left Establishment.)


Why Johnny Can't Protest: December 16th Reflections (12/22/10)

(Reflections on the Dec 16th Veterans for Peace White House Protest and Civil Disobedience. Solicited and then rejected by Truthout-discussed in subsequent piece on left internet censorship.)

Open Letter: A Pre-Post Mortem (12/18/10) (posted at Louis Proyect's Unrepentant Marxist, As it Ought to Be and elsewhere)

Selected responses to the Open Letter to the Establishment Left (annotated index of links)

An Exchange with Tom Hayden on the Open Letter (posted at Louis Proyect's Unrepentant Marxist, As it Ought to Be and elsewhere.

Hayden: Letter is "a vile, toxic diatribe".  Halle: "Your response demonstrates why you are a worthy recipient of the letter.")

An Open Letter to the Establishment Left (12/10/10) (drafted in collaboration with Paul Street and Josh Frank)

An Exchange with Robert Parry of Consortium News

Heads up for the Greens: Rahm Goes for the Gold in Chicago (10/5/10)

Rahm Emanuel runs for Mayor of Chicago.  Why his loss (hopefully) should be a win for independent politics.

(Published at Counterpunch).

Three Portraits and a Conclusion (10/1/10)


    1. Larry Summers

    2. Samantha Powers

    3. Michael Moore

   Conclusion: The Golden Age

(submitted to Counterpunch Poets' Basement)

Congressman Murphy: Stop Waffling on Social Security (9/8/10)

Local Democratic Congressman reveals his priorities.  Plunge seniors into poverty while doling out trillions for banks and wars.

(submitted to local rags Albany Times Union and Poughkeepsie Journal)

Trumka Nominated (7/24/10)

AFL-CIO Leader heads a U.S. Labor Party ticket.  

Could it happen here?

(Predictably unpublished-demonstrating what is perhaps at the root of our malaise: the inability to imagine that another world is possible)