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Montana's Proud History of Radicalism

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Montana has a history of radical labor struggle and could once again be a site of resistance against the devastating effects of industrial capitalism. The IWW played an active role organizing miners, laborers and timber workers, the Grange movement  and farmers unions thrived here, and the Communist party at one time held a majority in Sheridan County government. The famed anti-war radical Jeanette Rankin proudly voted against the US entry into two world wars and Missoula was the site of the first free speech struggle in the nation, forcing the roll back of an ordinace which forbade union organizing on downtown street corners. IWW organizer Frank Little was murdered by capitalist interests in Butte Montana and his grave is honored to this day.


But another struggle looms on the horizon because corporate Energy wants Montana to become the Saudi Arabia of coal and natural gas. Colstrip, as the name suggests, is already a huge strip mine producing 100 million tons of coal  per year and new fields are being opened up in the Tongue River basin. Arch Coal and Peabody ship coal from the Powder River Basin to power plants across the US and now plans are underfoot to ship another 100 million tons to newly developed ports on the west coast so it can be shipped to China. For the sake of our communities health and the planets survival these shipments must not be allowed to go through.


Montana is also on the route of the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to Texas ports. The pipe will cross the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers (site of a pipe leak just last year) and other fragile ecosystems, habitat and water resources. Not just the pipelines, ( the Enbridge is also being proposed through B.C.)  but the whole Tar Sands development, must be stopped in it's entirety.


These issues are paramount. Of course we all know that capital is wreaking havoc across the globe in a thousand ways but as climate scientist James Hanson has stated, unless we stop the burning of these fossil fuels, it is "game over" for the future of the planet. Nothing else we on the left do will matter in terms of human rights or economic or social justice if we live in climate chaos.


So I urge everyone interested in IOPS to look into these crucial issues and if you have available energy, join us in our struggle to leave tar sands and coal in the ground and stop the massive fracking assault on our region. Sustainable energy is the one contradiction the capitalist system cannot resolve. Markets are incapable of setting a price on pollution. In the proud tradition of Montana's radical history we will make a stand against capital and for the future.


Dave Jones (aka Troutsky)

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