Friday, August 31, 2012

Poster of the Week

El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido
The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated
Dan Jones
Labour May Day Committee 
Offset, 1980
London, UK

CSPG’s Poster of the Week celebrates worker solidarity, perfect for Labor Day.  The title comes from one of the most internationally renowned songs of the Nueva Cancion Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement, composed and recorded in June 1973.  Just a few months later, on September 11, 1973, a U.S. engineered military coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende.  After the Chilean coup, the song became the anthem of the Chilean resistance against the brutal U.S. supported Pinochet regime. El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido continues to be used in various protests around the world, most of which have no direct connection to the Chilean coup or Latin America. The lyrics have been adapted or translated into many languages.

The poster shows workers from diverse trades and countries holding signs with a variety of demands and slogans including:
  • El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido  The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated
  • Work Not Dole
  • We Require 8 Hours For Work  8 Hours For Our Instruction  And 8 Hours For Our Repose
  •  8 Hour Day 
  • The People's Flag Is Deepest Red, It Shrouded Oft Our Martyred Dead 
  •  Debut D'Une Lutte Prolongee 
  • Pan Trabajo Y Libertad 
History of Labor Day
Labor Day may be over 100 years old, but its history continues to be politically charged and open to interpretation. The observation of Labor Day on the first Monday in September is usually attributed to the Knights of Labor who held their first parade in New York on September 5, 1882. By 1887, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Oregon all celebrated Labor Day on the first Monday of September, and in 1894, the first Monday was established as a Federal holiday in the U.S.

But eight years earlier, in 1889, May 1 was selected as a day to celebrate workers by the Second Socialist International. That date was selected to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre, an important but rarely taught event in U.S. history.  [Haymarket Massacre discussed below]
So the question can be raised, Why does the American worker celebrate Labor Day in September when internationally, workers celebrate it on May 1st  in commemoration of American Martyrs to the labor movement? This question is clarified by the fact that May first is observed unilaterally by workers (not by management), while the September holiday is enjoyed by all, perpetuating the myth that Labor and Management are both working together. The proclamation of Labor Day in September in the United States has been interpreted as an effort to isolate U.S. workers from colleagues around the world, and obscure the history of what Management did to Labor in Chicago in 1886. That said, it is important to know the history of both holidays.  It is also important to note that U.S. workers get far fewer holidays than workers in other industrialized nations.  Whether or not Labor Day was established to deflect attention—and awareness—from the history of May Day, it is still a great time to celebrate workers accomplishments and express labor solidarity.

Haymarket Massacre
On May 1, 1886 demonstrations in support of the 8-hour day took place all across the country.  Chicago's was the biggest with an estimated 80,000 marching on Michigan Avenue, much to the alarm of Chicago's business leaders and newspapers who saw it as foreshadowing "revolution," and demanded a police crackdown.  Over the next several days, police attacked demonstrators and broke up mass meetings.  On May 4, a bomb was thrown by a still unidentified person, and both police and demonstrators were killed by the bomb and subsequent police shootings.  In the aftermath of the event, unions were raided all across the country. Eight labor organizers were prosecuted in a show trial. None were linked to the unknown bomb thrower, and some were not even present at the time. They were held to be responsible for the bomb thrower's act, because their public criticism of corporate America, the political structure, and the use of police power against the working people, was alleged to have inspired the bomber. They were found guilty in a trial, which Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld subsequently held to be grossly unfair. On June 26, 1894, Altgeld pardoned three who were still alive and in prison; but four had been hanged, and one had committed suicide.           


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Poster of the Week

Tell Ronald Reagan
Women's Trust
Offset, 1984
Washington, D.C.

CSPG’s Poster of the Week was produced during President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign to bring attention to his strong opposition to women’s reproductive rights, which included denying rape victims access to legal abortions. With the graphic depiction of rape, the poster explicitly demonstrates the potential costs and trauma of President Reagan’s stance to emphasize the importance of the 1984 election.
Twenty-eight years later, women’s reproductive rights are in the same jeopardy this election. This Tuesday, the Republican Party released its platform calling for a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions without any explicit exceptions made for victims of rape or incest. This proposed “Human Life Amendment” would give fundamental individual rights and the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment to unborn fetuses.[1] This platform was released amidst controversy over comments made by current Missouri Representative and Republican Senate candidate, Todd Akin, during a televised interview this past Sunday. When discussing his stance on banning abortion in cases of rape, Akin claimed, victims of “legitimate” rape rarely became pregnant since “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Since then, Akin has publicly apologized for his comments, but he has refused to step down from the Senate race. [2]
Although several prominent Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney, have publically rebuked Akins for his comments and called for him to step down, the Republic Party platform supports the policy that Todd Akin had been endorsing when making the controversial statements. While Mitt Romney has stated he would not oppose abortion in cases of rape, he selected a running-mate, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, well known for his anti-reproductive rights position, who once called himself as “pro-life as a person can get.”[3] When pressed on the current Akin’s comment, Paul Ryan claimed, “Rape is rape. Period.  End of story.” [4]  However, this statement contradicts his recent political record as he co-sponsored the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” with Akins in 2011. This proposed act narrowed the federal restrictions on Medicaid funding of abortions, by limiting the existing exception to rape victims to only pregnancies resulting from “forcible rape,” clearly demonstrating multiple definitions of rape. [5]
The extreme position of the Republican platform as well as Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s stance on reproductive rights threaten women’s freedom of choice as President Reagan did in 1984. CSPG’s Poster of the Week was selected as a reminder of what is at stake this November.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Poster of the Week

I guess I’ve just been holding my fire until I saw the whites of their eyes.
OK, I can see a pair of white eyes right now. Mitt Romney’s.

And that empty thought bubble floating above Mitt’s head. It isn’t that Mitt doesn’t have any thoughts. He just isn’t thinking about us.

Mitt has $ millions stashed in off shore, non-taxable bank accounts.
So, of course, Mitt’s first thought is that giving massive tax breaks to the wealthiest people and biggest corporations in the US is the way to kick start the US economy.
(The US government has been doing that for decades. How’s it been working out for us so far?)

I truly believe that you (and I) have more thoughts about what Mitt is thinking than he does. So....heeeere’s your chance: Word up and stick it to him!

Robbie Conal
Poster Artist and CSPG Board Member
Los Angeles, CA 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Poster of the Week

Wir Rufen die Jugend der Welt
Klaus Staeck
Offset, 1988
Heidelberg, Germany
We Call to the Youth of the World

CSPG’s Poster of the Week demonstrates the long tradition of corporate sponsorship and the culture of consumerism that submerges and envelops the Olympic Games. The commercialization of the Games has caused the event, meant for the celebration of sport amateurism and conflict-free competition, into an advertisement orgy. Created in 1988, the renowned German graphic designer Klaus Staeck continued his politically charged satirical work and designed a poster that remains relevant as four of the five corporation logos replacing the rings seen in his poster are still official sponsors of the Games.

Sponsors have been a part of the Games since the inaugural 1896 event. Slowly evolving, the infusion of money into the 1984 Games in Los Angeles was the turning point for the Olympic movement. Led by the aggressive Peter Ueberroth, the Games’ financial success garnered the attention of the IOC and how they could benefit from the marketing revenue. By 1985 they established The Olympic Partner Program (TOP) to create a revenue vacuum where a select, and exclusive, club of highly invested corporations was formed. By doing so, it concentrated control over who was and will be making money from the Games. At the 2004 Games in Athens, the Greek government had already banned competitor ads on billboards throughout the city prior to the event and spectators at the venues were being vetted by security checking if they had any visible non-official logos not associated with the Games prior to broadcasting.

Today British locals are being bombarded by the official sponsors’ advertisements and clouding the event for television viewers as well. In London the British government, after the IOC’s insistence prior to awarding them the Games, is implementing the London Olympic Act 2006. It is an Orwellian measure to protect the TOP sponsors at all costs. Leading up to the Games, Olympic spooks have corralled such marketing threats to their corporate sponsors such as a local butcher, a baker, a florist and an 81 year-old woman selling hand knitted Olympic memorabilia for a fundraiser. There are currently hundreds of uniformed Olympic officials travelling the country to protect the brand of the Olympics and its sponsors. One of their main objectives is to quell guerilla/ambush marketing. In 2010 Seb Coe, the Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, wrote in the Official Brand Protection manual that these activities “undermine our ability to generate revenue for the Games.” This is in line with the IOC’s modern Olympics: the spirit of competition is limited to the sports field and suppressed in the business arena.

According to CNN’s Juliet Mann, “The Olympics (are) the second most valuable brand in the world, after Apple. They calculate the Olympic brand is worth more than all of its other major sponsors -- including Samsung, GE and Coca-Cola -- put together. They have valued the Olympics brand at $47.6 billion, an 87% increase since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.” And the International Olympic Committee (IOC) received $ 3.8 billion in television revenue for the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games, an increase of 40% over the total for 2006 and 2008.

Pierre de Coubertin, the French aristocrat that reintroduced the Olympics for the modern era, would probably not recognize the Olympics as they are played today. It does not follow the ideal of laying down arms by all nations for a moment of peace to compete. The Olympic Games from 1940-1948 were cancelled due to World War II. The world is still rife with war and today’s IOC continues to make profits from controversial corporations also indifferent to the peace the Olympic rings symbolize. Five rings representing the five inhabited continents interlocked in peace. Staeck’s poignant criticism on the rings’ symbols still resonates today. Peace is being replaced by greed and the “call to the youth of the world” is leading them further away from the original ideals of the Olympic Games.


J. Gordon Hylton, “The Over-Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Sport in the United States and Elsewhere,” Journal of Legal Aspects of Sports Winter 2011, vol. 21, no. 43.

Chrysostomo Giannoulakis, “Olympic sponsorship: evolution, challenges and impact on the Olympic Movement,” International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship July 2008, vol. 9, no. 4 (256-70).

Jay Scherer, “Olympic Villages and Large-scale Urban Development: Crises of Capitalism, Deficits of Democracy?” Sociology October 2011, vol. 45 no. 5 (782-79). 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Poster of the Week

Pugno Chiuso Contra il Razzismo USA
Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI)
Offset, circa 1968
Rome, Italy
Fist Closed Against Racism in the USA

Translated Text:
“Smith and Carlos at the Olympic Games
Bare feet: the poverty of the black people
Black glove: the mourning of the black people
Closed fist: the willingness to fight
The Italian Communists are with them against imperialism and racism”

CSPG’s Poster of the Week commemorates the moment from the Mexico City 1968 Summer Olympics when Tommie Smith and John Carlos— winners of the gold and bronze medals of the 200-meter race that year—decided to use their position atop the Olympic stand to make a powerful statement about racism, inequality, and human rights. Both stood on the podium shoeless to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride. Carlos wore a string of beads to commemorate black people who had been lynched. While the U.S. National Anthem played, both raised black gloved fists and bowed their heads in solidarity with the Civil Rights Movement. Silver medal winner, Australian Peter Norman, supported their protest, and all three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges.

As stated by John Carlos in a 2011 interview with Democracy Now, “I wasn’t there for the race. I was there to actually make a statement. I was ashamed of America for America’s deeds, what they were doing in history, as well as what they were doing at that particular time.” Because of their decision to make such an overt political statement, they were ostracized when they returned home and suspended by the United States Olympic Committee. The story was also allowed to circulate by the media and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they were stripped of their medals as a way of squelching future dissent by other athletes.

Forty-four years later, not much has changed.

The London 2012 Summer Olympics began this weekend amidst protests questioning not only the justification for spending $17 billion in preparations for the games in taxpayer money at a time when the economy is falling deeper into recession, but also questioning laws like the London Olympic Games and Paralympics Games Act of 2006 which suppress speech, even that deemed as a threat to corporate sponsors and Olympic symbols, by empowering not only the army and police but also private security forces to deal with broadly defined “security issues” through the use of physical force.

Some Olympians have begun to stand against this suppression of speech by the IOC by protesting Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter, which places a ban on publicizing individual athlete’s sponsors during the Games if these have not been approved as official Olympic sponsors. These athletes, like 400-meter gold metal hopeful Sanya Richards-Ross, say they want a voice in the distribution of sponsorship money that currently goes directly to the IOC. "Six billion dollars is being traded hands behind the scenes," Richards-Ross said. "I’ve been very fortunate to do very well around the Olympics, but so many of my peers struggle in the sport, and I just think it’s unjust that they’re not being considered.”

Although protesting via Tweets is a far cry from protesting on a winner’s podium, and protesting about athletic sponsorship rights a far cry from protesting about human rights, standing against Rule 40 is still a stand against an out of touch institution which many have begun to deem the 1% of the 1%, as well as a stand against the hyper-corporatization of the Olympic Games.