BTS 3/11/11: Wisconsin Protests; Saudi Days of Rage; Invisible Handcuffs of Capitalism

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John Nichols joins us live from Madison reporting on the crude maneuver pushed through by Governor Scott Walker, crushing collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in Wisconsin. Passionate protests in Madison provide the connective tissue to demonstrations for democracy spreading across North Africa, where dictatorships are toppling. And in Wisconsin? Stay tuned for our Wisconsin segment with John and Paul Buhle, who notes that unionists with their backs to the wall are talking General Strike, and preparing for it – that was unimaginable a month ago. Working with the Democratic Party machine on the recall campaigns as well as the left and community organizations, Buhle sees a rebirth of a LaFolettesque tradition, one that drew heavily upon a socialist background but stood outside the existing Left’s main preoccupations and ideologies.

We then turn to Ahmed Al-Mulla, Saudi Arabian writer and poet who we talked to earlier today in Riyadh about today’s “Days of Rage” in Saudi Arabia. He says "There are many of the same issues here as in Egypt and Tunisia -- Young people are frustrated with no rights, no freedoms, no jobs when they graduate, and they are connecting online. Our women's rights situation is probably the worst in the world. People are becoming more aware and demanding the freedom to speak, to protest, and real change. We’ll ask Ahmed about today’s “Days of Rage” protest and prospects for a continued escalation against the regime.

Michael Perelman’s new book The Invisible Handcuffs of Capitalism: How Market Tyranny Stifles the Economy by Stunting Workers (Monthly Review) is indeed timely: the ‘invisible handcuffs’ of capitalism, according to Perelman, sweep workers under the rug, and hide the nature of the system making it appear to be based on equal exchange rather than exploitation inside every workplace. These practices are destructive and stifling, ignore social needs, and contrary to contemporary wisdom, there is an alternative, and progress is possible. We’ll ask Michael to elaborate.

Plus: An update on Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Read More for info on today's guests:

1. John Nichols is the Washington Correspondent of The Nation, where he also blogs the “Online Beat”. John is also associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times, and is author of several books, including The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press), Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), and with Robert McChesney, It's the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories) and Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press).

2. Paul Buhle, retired professor of history and American civilization at Brown University, is author or editor of twenty-seven books on radicalism, labor, and popular culture, including five volumes on the films of the Hollywood blacklistees. Most recently, he coedited Wobblies: A Graphic History (2005) and The New Left Revisited (2003), winner of an American Library Association's Choice Academic Book Award. He has written for The Nation, Times Higher Education Supplement, The Guardian, and the Journal of American History, among others. He founded the journal Radical America (1967-95), the Oral History of the American Left project (New York University, 1976- ), and the Community and Labor Oral History project of Rhode Island.

3. Ahmed Al-Mulla is a writer and poet in Saudi Arabia.

4. Michael Perelman’s is an American economist and economic historian, currently professor of economics at California State University, Chico. Perelman has written 19 books, including Railroading Economics, Manufacturing Discontent, The Perverse Economy, and The Invention of Capitalism.