Feed aggregator

Την Ελένη δολοφόνησε η πατριαρχία

Anarkismo - 2 hours 22 min ago
Ζώντας σε μια κοινωνία που αντιμετωπίζει τις γυναίκες είτε σαν ευαίσθητα λουλούδια που χρειάζονται προστάτη για να επιβιώσουν, είτε σαν θηράματα για άρρενες κυνηγούς όταν ξεφεύγουν και αντιστέκονται στους ρόλους που τους έχουν επιβληθεί, δεν πέφτουμε από τα σύννεφα στο άκουσμα ενός βιασμού, αφού σε όλη μας τη ζωή είναι αυτό που προσπαθούμε να αποφύγουμε. Κάποιες φορές τα καταφέρνουμε και άλλες όχι.

Why Hondurans See Migration as an Act of Civil Disobedience

Infoshop News - 4 hours 30 min ago

via Yes! magazine

by Crystal Vance Guerra

A singular image is said to have sparked this latest migrant caravan. Set against a bold, red background, it features a figure, arms outstretched like a cross, with a backpack flying the Honduran flag. Contained in the message across the top: “We aren’t leaving because we want to; violence and poverty expel us.”

The image expresses the generalized frustration regarding the current social, political, and economic state of Honduras and proposes migration as a challenge to that reality. The typical Honduran sees the caravan movement for what is: an outright act of civil disobedience. People are walking out of their own countries, the subconscious protest of a frustrated people. It is a bold protest by Hondurans against their president and corruption within their government and a challenge to the U.S. to reckon with the regional crisis its foreign policies have created.

I remember an article from a 1980s Mexican magazine promoting migration to the U.S. as a means of calming popular discontent around a range of social injustices. Instead of using organized protest to demand change, people could be encouraged to seek the American Dream, quelling the problem of popular uprisings at the root.

In the 1980s, revolution was a tangible goal throughout Central America and the Caribbean. Cuba gave the region its first successful popular revolution in 1959. Nicaragua led the way on the mainland with their victory 20 years later. Before the American Dream, the image of change was well-rooted in the anti-capitalist struggle.

But now, it seems as if this psychological shift from revolution to migration has circled back, and migration has become the newest form of protest.

Read more



The post Why Hondurans See Migration as an Act of Civil Disobedience appeared first on Infoshop News.

The Yellow Vest Movement: Showdown with the State

Infoshop News - 4 hours 45 min ago

via CrimethInc

Reports from the Clashes in Paris, around France, and across Europe

Since November, France has been shaken by the yellow vest movement, a grassroots reaction to President Macron’s proposal to increase fuel taxes in order to force the poor to pay for the transition to “ecological” technologies. Like the Occupy movement, the yellow vest movement cohered around shared tactics and frustration rather than common goals or values; consequently, the movement has been a battleground for many different political agendas and factions. The far right initially took advantage of the movement’s “apolitical” character to gain influence, especially online; but as the movement spread and the clashes with the police intensified, anarchists and other uncontrollable rebels also staked out ground within the movement.

Paris, December 8.

Although divided as to how to relate to the movement, anarchists and other autonomous rebels chose to get involved in order to confront fascist and authoritarian tendencies from within, undermine the legitimacy of the authorities, and reorient the movement towards more systemic solutions. These efforts bore fruit: fascists have been driven out of demonstrations; anti-capitalist and anti-fascist blocs have marched together in Paris; new connections have arisen between anarchists, autonomists, and other yellow vesters, not to mention rail workers, students, and those who live on the margins of the metropolis; demonstrators have attacked symbols of capitalism and the state with increasing frequency; slogans from the protests against the Loi Travail and other radical movements have spread among the protesters. Yet the outcome of the yellow vest movement might still benefit any number of different groups, including the far right.

Macron’s government has repeatedly attempted to establish dialogue with the spokespersons of the yellow vests. All these attempts have failed. The majority of the movement has refused any negotiation with officials and seems to reject the political system as a whole—this is why it has been successful in compelling Macron to promise concessions. At the same time, leftist populists and far-right nationalists are poised to cash in on the crisis it has created.

The tension is still mounting in France. For two weeks now, students have been blockading schools and universities to protest against education reforms; meanwhile, trade unions joined the yellow vest movement last weekend, as did other economic sectors. The government is desperately seeking a way to resolve the situation as the Christmas holidays approach. Hoping to avoid a fifth act in the conflict, on December 10, President Macron promised to grant many of the protesters’ demands. Yet the story isn’t over. Another day of action has been called for Saturday, December 15.

There have been copycat actions on three continents now, though it does not appear that the yellow vest movement is about to spread worldwide. France has been somewhat out of step with the rhythms of the rest of the world—a wave of riots broke out in France in 2005, years ahead of the Greek insurrection of 2008, but nothing like the Occupy movement occurred there until Nuit Debout in 2016. Still, the yellow vest movement may offer some hints as to what the next global wave of protest will look like. If what is happening in France is any indication, we can anticipate a new round of uprisings catalyzed by economic desperation, involving a wide range of participants and ideologies—who clash with each other just as fiercely as with the authorities.

In order to explore these issues in greater detail, we present the following update from France. The work of many hands, this report picks up where our previous analysis left off, in the aftermath of the chaotic and insurrectionary nationwide day of action on December 1.

Paris, December 8. The Aftermath of December 1

The confrontations that took place in Paris and elsewhere around the country on December 1 were arguably the most significant rioting in France since 1968. The intensity caught the government off guard. President Macron rushed back from the G20 summit in Argentina to assess the damage and try to reassert order.

Hoping to neutralize the movement, Macron promised to grant some of the movement’s demands. This didn’t placate the majority of protesters, who reaffirmed their determination to demonstrate on Saturday, December 8.

Within the yellow vest movement, opinions differed about this new day of action. The images of chaos from the previous weekend were still in everybody’s minds; pacifists and legalists argued fiercely with the more radical yellow vesters. Organizers debated different strategies. Some wanted to march towards the presidential palace; some suggested blocking the périphérique (the Parisian beltway); some proposed that people should gather in front of the Maison de la Radio (the major radio station building) in order to occupy it and seize control of the airwaves; others argued against going to Paris, seeing it as a trap set by authorities, in favor of developing local initiatives instead. As December 8 approached, it was impossible to tell how it would play out.

On Tuesday, December 4, the first trials took place for charges arising from the yellow vest demonstrations of Saturday, December 1. Three people were tried on charges included participation “in a gathering, even if temporarily formed, with the objective— characterized by one of several material facts—of preparing and committing wilful violence against persons or destructions or property damages” and “intentional violence on a PDAP” (Person in Charge of Public Authority). The first individual received a €200-fine suspended sentence for violence; the second was sentenced to three months in prison and held in detention; the third was sentenced to a year in prison. This also set the stakes for December 8.

On another front, the student strike against school reforms intensified. All week, students blocked their high schools and universities, held general assemblies, built barricades, demonstrated in the streets, and confronted police. Not wishing to fight on multiple fronts at once, the government responded aggressively, with police injuring numerous students. The violent attacks on high school students—usually barely mentioned in corporate media—gained wide exposure with a viral video posted on Thursday, December 6 showing the conditions in which students were arrested at Mantes-la-Jolie. Dozens of students are lined up on their knees with their hands on their heads, some of them facing the wall, surrounded by riot police officers. The person shooting the video remarks, ”Here is a quiet and well-behaved class!”

The propagation of these images couldn’t have come at a worse time for the French government. On the eve of the fourth act of the yellow vest movement, the video intensified the general climate of rage and defiance towards the police and government.

Clashes in Paris on December 8. The flag is the national flag of Brittany, a French region with separatist tendencies. As with so many other aspects of the yellow vest movement, it could represent far-right politics, or it could simply suggest an “apolitical” patriotism. Paris under Siege

Fearing that scenes of chaos and “extreme violence” would recur in Paris on December 8, the authorities took drastic preventive measures. For the weekend, Paris would be in a state of siege.

Eighteen museums and eight national monuments remained closed for the day, including the Eiffel tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. Both Parisian Operas cancelled their performances, as did other theaters. The Paris prefecture asked the storekeepers of the Champs Elysées, the Matignon, the Montaigne, and the Franklin-Roosevelt avenues to close their stores and board up their windows. The major fancy department store groups Galeries Lafayette and Printemps decided to close all their stores located near the Champs Elysées, the Opera, Montparnasse, or Nation.

From 6 am until the end of the demonstrations, a traffic restriction plan would be enforced in order to facilitate the movements of law enforcement. In addition, 36 metro and RER stations would be closed starting 5:30 am in order to facilitate police controls. The restriction affected about 56 bus lines. Several sports events and television shows were also cancelled, postponed, or relocated.

Police from the BAC (Anti-Criminality Brigades) in Paris on December 8. The Government Adjusts Its Strategy

After the previous week’s fiasco, President Macron instructed Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner to review his law enforcement strategy in preparation for the fourth act of the yellow vest movement. According to the Minister of the Interior, “the last three weeks have given birth to a monster that has escaped its genitors.”

For December 8, the authorities took exceptional measures. Fully 89,000 police officers were to be deployed all over France—almost 100% of the troops—with 8000 in Paris alone. In addition, the state requisitioned 12 gendarmerie tanks, the same ones that participated in the eviction of the ZAD last April and May. Mobile water cannons and helicopters were also deployed in Paris.

In contrast with the previous week, the police did not remain static, defending large restricted areas. This time, the only restricted area was designated around the Champs Elysées and the major government buildings. There, police forces were tasked with searching and controlling every single person who sought to enter the avenue.

Having been criticized for failing to keep up with events on December 1, police received orders to stick close to protestors, initiate frontal confrontations, and carry out arrests at any opportunity. As the traditional riot police forces (CRS and gendarmes) move slowly on account of their heavy equipment, these tasks were given to the BAC (Anti-Criminality Brigades), the CSI (Securing and Intervention Companies), and other police units.

The authorities also set up roadblocks around Paris in order to control vehicles entering the capital city. Several prefectures temporally banned the sale and transport of fuel, pyrotechnical materials, and flammable products in order to prevent people from constructing homemade incendiary devices.

In the days leading up to the demonstration, the government ramped up psychological pressure by making several appeals for “non-violence” and demanding that “reasonable yellow vesters, those who do not support violent action, dissociate themselves from extremists and not gather in Paris,” hoping to isolate the most determined parts of the movement. At the same time, with the assistance of media outlets, the authorities tried to spread fear among the population by asking everyone to stay home on Saturday, sending clear warnings to anyone who might join one of the Parisian demonstrations.

The trap was set for Paris. Still, the authorities were expecting only several thousand people in Paris, including some “ultra-violent” individuals.

Several hours before the demonstrations, an important official and confidential document leaked. The entire law enforcement plan of the Paris prefecture was available online. This document made it easier to understand what to expect in the streets for the following day: 85 police teams were mobilized to control and search individuals in train and metro stations; mounted police were to be present in the streets again; and so on. The authorities have since opened an investigation to find the origin of the leak.

On the eve of the fourth act of the yellow vest movement, some comrades published an article on “the rupture in progress,” arguing:

“We can’t be sure that this Saturday, the plan decided by the Interior Minister will not be more insidious, avoiding frontal conflicts in favor of targeted arrests—in the German manner, as it were—in order to contain the tension to the point of breathlessness.”

The events of December 8 confirmed this forecast.

Paris, December 8. Staying outside the Trap

It would be impossible to detail all the events that took place in the streets of Paris. Here, we draw on narratives from several anarchists and autonomous rebels, complemented by information from corporate media and other sources.

A map showing the clashes of December 8 in Paris. Report #1

This first report was jointly composed by several individuals covering different zones of activity.

Early in the morning, groups gathered in various areas of Paris: at Place de l’Etoile, Bastille, Porte Maillot, and République. Corporate media outlets were already broadcasting their litanies: the situation was under control, authorities were already arresting dangerous individuals, the number of arrests was increasing minute by minute. At 10:30 am, the authorities announced that they had already arrested 354 individuals, keeping 127 in custody. Soon, they launched the first tear gas canisters at the Champs Elysées, where about 1500 people had already assembled. By 11 am, the gathering near the Saint-Lazare train station was blocked and surrounded by CRS (riot police). For this reason, we decided not to enter the police perimeter, so that we might stay in control of the situation.

At 11:30 am, near the Opera, we met a group of about 1000 people. The whole district was blocked by police forces and checkpoints. You could easily enter the perimeter, but to exit it you would have to comply by presenting an ID and letting them search your bag. Police forces had a “wanted list” in their possession in order to arrest potential troublemarkers. Two tanks were spotted near the Haussmann Boulevard. Because the police seemed to be in control of the situation in this district, we decided to move towards the Champs Elysées. Several police troops were already deployed near Avenue de Friedland—to protect access to the Place de la Concorde—and Saint-Augustin square. That morning, we were a sparse crowd of several thousand individuals walking through a dead city, with about 90% of the windows around us boarded up.

At 11:30 am, near the Champs Elysées, thousands of people were converging to enter the avenue. Up to that point, every single demonstrator had been meticulously searched by members of the BAC (the Anti-Criminality Brigade) before entering the demonstration zone. But the gentle pressure created by the arrival of waves of demonstrators trying to enter the Champs Elysées eventually enabled people to break through one of the checkpoints and people succeeded in entering without being searched. When we entered the avenue, there were already a lot of people there.

Radical far-right groups were also present. The atmosphere was quite surreal with the entire avenue barricaded and protected. Ridiculous groups of BAC members could be seen at regular intervals on the sidewalks wearing ski masks and swimming goggles and carrying LBD-40 weapons. Further away, near the Place de l’Etoile, police forces launched a charge involving a lot of grenades in order to contain the crowd within the designated perimeter, out of reach of the Arc de Triomphe that had been ravaged the previous week. Once again, the outcome of the situation at the Champs Elysées was a forgone conclusion. We decided to leave and entered the Saint-Philippe du Roule district. There, a lot of yellow-vested groups were trying to figure out where interesting events were happening, just as we were. Little by little, the crowd gathered near Haussamnn Boulevard and Avenue de Friedland.

From 12:30 pm until 2:30 pm, while police lines were still blocking access to the Arc de Triomphe, the first serious confrontations started. As soon as we arrived on site, we saw a man shot in the thigh with a rubber bullet. We provided first aid, then wished him good luck and continued our way. For more than an hour, several thousand individuals confronted CRS forces, consecutively resisting charges and tear gas. Some comrades drove out members of Action Française, a monarchist and far-right group, then chanted “Paris, Paris, Antifa!” The confrontations on Avenue de Friedland continued and the first burning barricades appeared. The police charges were unusually violent; we couldn’t count the number of tear gas canisters and flash-bang grenades they used during the confrontations. Several stores and a bank were attacked, but surprisingly, the nearby Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris remained almost intact, despite part of the demonstration remaining static in front of the building for some time.

Police blocking access to the Arc de Triomphe on December 8.

As we were losing ground, the crowd decided to leave this point and marched towards the Saint-Augustin area. There, a Mercedes was set on fire; people erected barricades using the wooden planks that protected stores’ front windows and set them on fire; a luxurious handbag store was looted. As property destruction intensified, police forces tried to surround protestors with three tanks at the intersection between Avenue de Friedland and Courcelles Street. They employed copious amounts of tear gas, but the majority of demonstrators succeeded in exiting the trap. Then the crowd split; some went towards Monceau Park, where a diplomatic car was set on fire, while others departed for Haussmann boulevard, where people erected massive barricades and welcomed police trucks with rains of projectiles.

Around 3 pm, as the police presence was increasing in the area—police tanks and trucks were going towards Avenue de Friedland and several BAC groups were patrolling the streets—several groups of protestors agreed to leave the zone. About 2000 individuals took Capucines Boulevard, with more demonstrators joining in the course of their advance. Tired of trying to get closer to the Champs Elysées, several groups decided to move towards the Climate March that was supposed to leave the Place de la Nation at 2 pm in order to reach République.

The situation in Paris was no longer a regular demonstration. There were too many people everywhere in the streets; all the stores were closed on most shopping avenues. This was significant on a Saturday before Christmas.

Yellow vests and tear gas in Paris on December 8.

Around 4 pm, groups of yellow vesters were arriving at the République square. Gendarmes and CRS were already present in every major street surrounding the square. Their strategy brought back memories of the Loi Travail and Nuit Debout protests in 2016. The Climate March had already arrived, and the atmosphere was mostly festive. Everyone agreed that the demands of the yellow vest and environmental movements were not opposed, and that the divide-and-conquer strategy of the authorities and media would not work. The crowd was heterogeneous but far from being offensive. Therefore, we decided to leave the square, only to discover that individuals wearing yellow vests were not allowed to do so. The atmosphere grew tense, but no one was ready to charge police lines yet.

Further away, in the Saint-Lazare district, while police backups were becoming more visible, a march several thousand strong took the large boulevards connecting Opéra to République. Property destruction became automatic and looting frequent. Every window of every fashion store, bank, fast-food restaurant, and similar target was attacked. Several tags also appeared on the walls; the atmosphere in the march was clearly anti-capitalist. The march stopped near Strasbourg Saint-Denis in order to build a large barricade blocking the entire width of the boulevard. The latter was set on fire and more demonstrators joined the festivities.

Around 5 pm, some of us decided to go back to Haussmann Boulevard to see what was going on there, but then we heard that a wildcat demonstration was taking place near Grands Boulevards. Part of it took the direction of Châtelet-Les Halles (in the center of Paris) via the street Saint-Denis. Participants sang the International—a nice change from the Marseillaise (the French national anthem). A large part of the crowd chanted “Paris, debout, soulève-toi!” (“Paris, stand up, rise up!”) while the windows of banks continued to fall to the cheers of some demonstrators. At some point, a group of police officers arrived, creating a moment of panic within the procession. Barricades were set on fire in the nearby streets, while protestors threw stones at a police car in the street Quincampoix. The march tried several times to reach the City Hall of Paris, but without success, as police were blocking the streets. Finally, the crowd left the area by taking the small streets of the Marais district in order to reach the square République.

Around 7 pm, we arrived at République under a rain of tear gas canisters. The sport outlet store located near the square was attacked, but a police charge ended any hope of looting it. Then, a group left the square and started another wildcat demonstration. As soon as the procession took the street Faubourg du Temple, two police cars passing by were targeted with projectiles. A McDonald’s was also attacked. Further away, some barricades were built and trash bins set on fire. Near the Goncourt metro station, a huge flaming barricade paralyzed traffic and thick black smoke filled the streets. Little by little, the crowd dispersed.

Again, today was a great day!

Paris on December 8. Report #2

In another personal account, the author presents a different analysis of the events of December 8. Due to the deployment of police in the Parisian streets and the massive wave of arrests that started earlier in the morning, the author experienced the first part of the day as confusing and something of a failure. The psychological warfare carried out by the government seemed to have succeeded, as several demonstrators who gathered at Saint-Lazare felt helpless and anxious before the powerful display of police forces—checkpoints, tanks, water cannons and trucks everywhere.

Moreover, it seemed to the author that the majority of the people present for the morning demonstration were inexperienced and didn’t know how to proceed. In the end, the demonstration didn’t happen, and people felt confused, defeated, and, for the most part, wandered around the streets of Paris seeking some sort of action that would finally bring some air within the oppressive trap of law enforcement.

Then, around 1 pm, the author explains that the situation changed. Indeed, most police forces had emptied out of the streets in the area—probably to deal with other groups of demonstrators closer to the Champs Elysées. Protestors seized this opportunity to initiate a wildcat demonstration, but unfortunately without any clear objectives as to where to go and what to do. The march seemed really unorganized; at some point, it was attacked by police with grenades before people decided to take another direction.

Near the Madeleine square, the crowd met some yellow vesters and rail workers who were coming from the Champs Elysées. The overall situation there was really difficult. In addition to the fierce and violent police repression, demonstrators had to deal with personal trauma and fatigue. Some yellow vesters said that they were exhausted and were hoping that others would take the helm.

Around 3 pm, people converged at the Saint-Augustin square. There, the crowd seemed much younger—probably including some high school students—and more determined. As more and more protestors assembled around the square, police shot the first tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd. Confrontations and property destruction continued until no one could bear the gas anymore.

Little by little, hours of humiliation and frustration, as well as consecutive police charges, generated an uncontrollable raging crowd. This angry mass started by destroying a Starbucks coffee shop. Then, the crowd split into several processions after a violent police charge. One procession took the direction of Châtelet and the City Hall. Everywhere, capitalist symbols were attacked and stores were looted. At this moment, it seemed that “everyone wanted to smash everything, the only thing that was preventing all of us from doing so was fear.”

Around 7 pm at République, as nobody seemed to want to leave the square, the first sporadic confrontations took place. Soon, police forces filled the entire square with tear gas and the crowd dispersed. Later on, around 11 pm, when the square was empty and calm had returned, small groups of militia-like policemen were patrolling the zone with ski masks and guns for firing rubber bullets at the ready.

A Starbucks Coffee Shop attacked in Paris on December 8. The graffiti reads “Pay your taxes!” and “Give back the bucks!” Starbucks is known in France for not paying taxes, while profiting on the French market. Report #3

Some friends who were also present in the streets of Paris, contributed this short report on the events of December 8.

On Friday, December 7, the city of Paris was readying itself for the day of action called by the yellow vester movement for the next day. Undeniably, the riots and scenes of chaos of the previous week had left scars. From Opéra to République, all major stores and banks were covering their front windows with wooden planks. Would these precautions be enough to prevent damage?

On Saturday, December 8, we intended to go to the Saint-Lazare gathering at 10 am in order to evaluate the situation outside of the Champs Elysées. However, due to the deployment of police around the city and the news of the morning arrests, we decided to rethink our plans. In our opinion, there was no more point joining the morning gathering, especially when we knew that in order to do so we would have to be searched at the perimeter and then would probably end up being surrounded by police.

Afterwards, while we were discussing strategies and possible impasses and futures for the yellow vest movement, we received the news that some friends had been able to pass through police checkpoints without any complications. In the end, we decided to meet them later.

First, we decided to join the Climate March in order to see what was going on there. We were really surprised to see so many people in the streets—25,000 according to the organizers, 17,000 according to authorities. Among the numerous organizations, it is worth mentioning that an anti-capitalist and radical contingent headed the march, and some yellow vesters were also present among the crowd. The latter were thanked several times for being there. However, we decided to leave on account of the explicitly pacifist and reformist messaging of the march.

At République, the square was already occupied by several hundred individuals, the majority wearing yellow vests. The atmosphere was light and relaxed. However, police forces were already present in the nearby streets, rue du Faubourg du Temple and rue du Temple. In rue du Temple, after we passed about 15 police trucks, we saw members of the BAC already equipped with ski masks and LBD-40 launchers, calmly talking, joking, and smoking cigarettes with other police officers who were wearing yellow vests. It was obvious that police wanted to infiltrate the yellow vest movement in order to monitor, attack, and arrest protestors from within.

As we continued walking towards downtown Paris, we saw numerous traces of the morning’s confrontations—smashed windows, graffiti, and abandoned barricades. Afterwards, wandering around Châtelet, where groups of yellow vesters were converging, we heard the familiar noise of an unruly demonstration approaching. Suddenly, the crowd ran towards us before heading towards Beaubourg. We understood that something had scared the crowd. Nevertheless, we decided to continue walking in the direction that the crowd had just came from.

All around us, the atmosphere was strange. Some people who were not involved in the day of actions were quietly drinking in fancy cafés or restaurants, while others were finishing their Saturday shopping—all this in the middle of empty streets, smashed windows, and barricades. It was as if two different atmospheres coincided. Even more surprising, there was absolutely no sign of police in the district.

Then, near the street Réaumur, we encountered a march of several hundred comrades shouting anti-capitalist chants. Unfortunately for them, the storm had already ravaged the entire street before them. We stayed there a couple of minutes contemplating the last flames of a barricade before continuing our night walk towards the Grands Boulevards.

Earlier in the day, some of us had decided to take a look at what was going on near the Opéra. Once in the area, we were surprised to see that no cars were parked in the streets and there was almost no one driving in this luxurious district. It seemed that, like us, many people were trying to figure out where the chaos was happening. To find it, we simply followed the police helicopter that had been patrolling over Paris since the morning.

The police state and the flaming trash that stands in its way.

After circumventing two police roadblocks, we saw one of the large demonstrations in the Saint-Augustin square. People were passing in waves; we couldn’t tell what was going on. Considering the overall situation of the day—massive waves of arrests and a large number of police—we located possible escape routes in case of a police charge or crowd stampede. At some point, police tear-gassed the crowd, provoking a moment of panic. We decided to escape via one of the nearby streets, and had to sprint in order to avoid a CRS line that was trying to block us from the rear. In the end, due to the number of people who were slowly arriving, the police ended up stepping back.

We took this opportunity to move towards Saint-Lazare, taking advantage of having the whole streets—the whole city?—to ourselves, not knowing what we might encounter around the next corner. At some point, police motorcycles and an unmarked white truck passed in front of us at full speed, then returned coming the other direction several minutes later. Even now, we don’t know what this truck was for: delivering more ammunition to conflict points? Extracting people arrested from confrontation zones to bring them to police stations?

Once we arrived in front of the Saint-Lazare train station, we didn’t know where to go. Demonstrators were everywhere in the area, and police were throwing tear gas canisters in front of the station to disperse the crowd. We decided to go back towards Opéra. Then we joined a large march that began to erect barricades out of urban furniture including barriers and wooden planks. Part of the crowd also started smashing everything and looting stores. Everything was happening really fast.

The rioting crowd took the large boulevards between Opéra and République. Police attacked the rear of the crowd with tear gas, yet without any real success, as people were running through the large arteries for several minutes. From the left side of the street to the right side, people smashed numerous windows—sometimes without paying attention to their surroundings, sometimes even without wearing a mask.

The procession continued its course towards Strasbourg Saint-Denis. At this point, the procession was clearly outside the perimeter established by law enforcement, as the crowd was running among cars. Some stores were open—which did not protect them from being looted or having their windows smashed. Upon reaching Strasbourg Saint-Denis, the crowd slowed down and some of us took this opportunity to leave.

When some of us reached the Grands Boulevards later, once again the atmosphere was really strange. The entire boulevard was full of barricades and covered with all kinds of debris. The area was really quiet despite the large number of people in the streets. Tourists, yellow vesters, and protestors of all kind were immortalizing the moment with their phones. A friendly and joyful atmosphere reigned in the boulevard, while further away, towards the Opéra, police lights and clouds blocked the view.

We decided to walk towards Place de la République to see if something was happening there—since we had left the Climate March hours ago. Passing through the streets, we admired the consequences of the raging storm that had passed. Some cars were trying to find their ways through the numerous barricades; the front of a fast-food restaurant was smashed; bus shelters were destroyed; anarchist and anti-capitalist tags gave color to the walls.

When we finally reached the République square, several thousands of people were already occupying it; a large banner saying “ZAD partout!” (“ZAD everywhere!”) was wrapped around the massive statue. So far, the atmosphere seemed joyful; we decided to wait there to see whether the situation would escalate. Police were already on site; as usual, they were ready to block single exit around the square if necessary. After several minutes, the crowd got bigger and started to get closer to the police lines in front of the rue du Temple. The first torches were lit and the crowd of demonstrators started encouraging each other and booing the forces of authority. Several projectiles were thrown at the police. Immediately, the first tear gas canisters were shot into the middle of the square, where some demonstrators began to panic.

The rain of tear gas canisters continued for a while, and little by little people left the square. Some started a wildcat demonstration, while others simply passed behind the police lines. Once again, the atmosphere was surreal. Several steps away from the Place de la République, people were eating at restaurants and drinking with friends at bars, like they would on any other Saturday night, not feeling disturbed at all by the surrounding chaos, the police, the tear gas, or the helicopter lighting up the square. More proof that although we all supposedly live under the same system, we share different realities and worlds.

Later that night, we decided to pass by the République square one more time to see if something was still happening there. When we arrived, the square was almost empty and occupied by BAC officers and other agents in ski masks wielding LBD-40 launchers. Some of them attacked the few people left on the square with stun grenades and rubber bullets. We ended our long day witnessing these scenes of police violence.

Place de la République on the night of December 8. Report #4

Around 9 am, as the prefecture of Paris had shut down several metro stations for safety measures, we exited the metro seven or eight stations from our destination: the Place de l’Etoile. There, the most striking thing was the strange—and somehow oppressive—silence in the streets that was regularly interrupted by police sirens. All the shop windows had been boarded up overnight, and after walking only 500 meters we saw the first police cordons checking people and searching bags. One person in front of us was brutally pressed against a wall after protesting when the police confiscated his swimming goggles. We passed through the checkpoint without a hitch, even if having gloves in our possession made the police officers suspicious. Police officers demanded that we open our jackets and vigorously patted us down.

Beside us, we saw one person leave a group of demonstrators and make a common gesture of disapproval at a group of gendarmes. Five of them left their ranks to charge at him and slammed him down on the ground. Brave acts of self-expression are admirable, but in that situation, considering the context and the tangible tension among police officers, his behaviour was borderline suicidal.

The police were indeed on edge. As we approached the meeting point, the situation became increasingly absurd. We were checked and searched every 50 meters. At every checkpoint, our thoughts were with those who were arrested for carrying harmless item with them. If any of us had tried to speak to them, we would have been arrested as well.

Once we arrived at the Champs Elysées, all the stress we had accumulated during our walk vanished when we saw how many people had already gathered and with what enthusiasm. The first great news of the day was that, somehow, a lot of people were still well equipped. To be honest, we don’t know how they pulled this off. The second great news was the large number of individuals present on the avenue. A lot of people seemed really determined. Every time tear gas canisters were shot or stun grenades exploded, the crowd was cheering. These scenes were completely strange.

Some journalists from BFM—a 24-hour news channel—positioned on a rooftop were on the receiving end of vigorously expressed insults. While we disapprove of the terms that were used, it is important to note that the collective experience shared during demonstrations develops some common reactions even among those who are “not activists.”

All the ingredients were present for the situation to become explosive. We decided to leave the Champs Elysées in order to meet up with other friends. There were lots of people at the next meeting point, as well. The crowd was clearly more “autonomous and radical” than in the Champs Elysées; we saw more black clothes than yellow vests. It only took a few seconds for the timeless chant “Siamo tutti antifascisti!” (“We are all anti-fascists”) to ring out. The march began moving, but very calmly. So far, there was no real property damage, just a few small attacks on urban furniture. We decided to divide up, again. Unfortunately, we were not able to meet again for almost two hours—our communication tools being completely useless under the circumstances.

We wandered the streets with the feeling that we were always arriving after the battles, hearing incomplete reports about confrontations elsewhere in the city. We went back and forth on the major arteries without a clear target while trying to contact other friends.

Tension was high throughout the entire city. More and more of the roads were obstructed by trees, debris, and trash bins. We saw tanks racing in the direction of the Champs Elysées. It is noteworthy that at this point in the day, the police presence in the area shifted from omnipresent to sporadic. It seemed, according to what people told us, that something was burning at the Champs Elysées.

From where we were standing, a huge blaze could be seen. We had finally found our destination. Once we arrived on site, however, it appeared that once again, we had missed the events.

Not at all! An angry and determined crowd of hundreds was coming in our direction. Half a dozen CRS (riot police) trucks tried to go through the crowd. People reacted by throwing stones and other projectiles at them; then CRS units on foot charged and chased the crowd. After a sprint and a good rush of fear and adrenaline, we decided to meet up on a major artery. There, people were smashing all the windows while a tobacco store was looted.

The atmosphere was incredible. The crowd was characterized by a collective serenity—probably due to the large numbers present in the streets and the fact that there was no sign of police on the horizon. There was an atmosphere of joy: every time the window of a corporate store chain was smashed, people cheered, sang, or laughed. We had never experienced such thing before.

The march continued for another two or three kilometres, leaving nothing intact behind us and building makeshift barricades all along our route. Then, people informed us that a nervous group of policemen were waiting for us a little further ahead. This is when we decided that it was a good opportunity to disperse and quit while we were ahead.

For additional personal accounts about the events of December 8 in Paris, we recommend this article and this one.

Mixed Feelings

In the end, December 8 was a strange mix of defeats and victories.

The day started out perfectly for the government; its trap was working. Early in the morning, police forces were already on alert to search and arrest any potential threat. Controls took place in the streets, at roadblocks, and in train stations around Paris. Every single person with a gas mask, goggles, or alleged projectiles was immediately arrested. Numerous potential demonstrators were put in custody simply for carrying a scarf and swimming goggles to protect them from the inevitable tear gas, like this person in Bordeaux.

By 10:30 am, about 354 people were already arrested, with 127 of them were put in custody. All day long, the number of arrestees continued to increase, reaching the gigantic number of 1082 people arrested in Paris with more than 900 in custody.

The preventative controls and arrests, as well as the massive presence of police, thwarted a new insurrectionary outburst in the French capital city. For the most part, Saturday morning was relatively calm; no confrontations or destructions were reported in the Champs Elysées. Around 10:30 am, some yellow vesters succeeded in blocking the Parisian beltway near Porte Maillot. Police forces brought the action to an end without using force.

In other words, all morning, it seemed that the authorities had the upper hand. The feeling of being defeated before the battle had even begun spread among our ranks, and with it, the frustration and fear of state repression increased.

Then, around midday, the situation started to change. At the Champs-Elysées, the strategy of the “pressure cooker”—containing demonstrators in a closed area while increasing the pressure—led to the first confrontations and damages. For example, some yellow vesters attacked a store and tried to break in. BAC agents and other officersunleashed their rage and inflicted the day’s first serious injuries on demonstrators. Fortunately, several teams of street medics were present to provide first aid. Unfortunately, near 2 pm, at the Champs Elysées, a 20-year-old woman lost an eye due to shrapnel from a grenade thrown by police.

As the accounts illustrate, in the afternoon, protestors succeeded in turning the tables by outmaneuvering the police. In this situation—facing massive numbers of preventative arrests and a city under siege—creating a breach was not easy. Our decisions to remain—for the most part—outside of the checkpoints imposed by the government and the areas where clashes were occurring with police enabled us to act and move freely, and eventually to give vent to our rage.

In the end, all considered, the actions of December 8 were much more effective than those of the previous week. To begin with, the fact that most stores, museums, theaters, and other institutions decided to close on a Saturday before Christmas already qualifies as a serious disruption with animpact on the French economy. On December 10, the Minister of the Economy held the yellow vest movement responsible for the fact that France lost “0.1 percent of growth of our national wealth during the last quarter.” According to the Mayor of Paris, the actions of December 8 inflicted more damage than those of the preceding week.

Property destruction in Paris on December 8. Meanwhile, Elsewhere in France…

While the French government and national media were focused on the situation in Paris, something just as important—if not more—was happening in other cities. The yellow vest movement began as a decentralized phenomenon; on its first day of mobilization, about 2000 actions took place in France. For this fourth nationwide day of action, about 136,000 individuals participated, creating an explosive situation in several cities.

Dijon

In Dijon, this day of action was less explosive than the previous one had been. As had become usual since the beginning of the movement, the demonstration took the same route and ended near the local prefecture, where confrontations erupted with police. However, the authorities had changed their strategy since the previous week and anticipated the intentions of the crowd. Anti-riot fences protected the prefecture building and officers deployed massive quantities of rubber bullets and tear gas against protestors. As a result, numerous people were injured, one with a fractured jawbone.

In addition to providing a report of Saturday’s demonstration, the authors of this report mention the difficulty of dealing with racist and misogynist behavior within the movement, while insisting on the necessity of not deserting it. While at some point the movement was unpredictable, now it has become a known quantity; the authors mention that they have the impression that they have reached a kind of impasse. However, they still express hope for the future. Since the beginning of the movement in Dijon, they have seen useful practices propagate in demonstrations, including participants wearing proper equipment and establishing teams of street medics. During the last demonstration, a connection arose between yellow vesters and members of the Climate March. Now, the important thing is to make sure that these alliances can last past the holidays.

Lyons

In Lyons, the situation was more difficult. People started gathering in the morning for the Climate March. Between 7000 and 10,000 individuals showed up, but the march was disappointing. On the bright side, the march showed solidarity with the student movement and some yellow vesters were also present among the crowd. Later, rumors circulated concerning the presence of numerous well-known fascists within the yellow vest contingent; the author of this article confirms the presence of fascists.

In Lyons, fascists are quite active in the yellow vest movement, which makes the situation difficult for anarchists and others. So far, it seems almost impossible for radicals to take part in the movement there. At the end of the day, police forces dispersed crowds of demonstrators in downtown Lyons with tear gas, which also impacted passers-by.

Toulouse, December 8. Toulouse

On December 8, Toulouse was burning. During the preceding weeks, several calls had been made in order to create a real bloc that Saturday. Yellow vesters, students, anarchists, and others individuals were determined to take the streets that day. The demonstration hadn’t even started when the first confrontations took place with police. This time, the rear part of the demonstration was the center of the clashes. As usual, police shot rubber bullets and tear gas canisters, which only escalated the situation.

The streets of Toulouse descended into a state of siege warfare and the first barricades were set on fire. The law enforcement strategy failed completely, as the angry crowd dispersed into nearby streets and continued to riot. In terms of strategy, the rear of the march occupied police in confrontations, which enabled the rest of the march to continue its course. Altogether, four different wildcat demonstrations were moving through the city at the same time. At 5:30 pm, despite the prefecture’s efforts, yellow vesters succeeded in marching through downtown Toulouse and reaching the Capitole (City Hall). Confrontations continued until late that night, especially in the Saint Cyprien district. Due to the chaotic situation, police forces even shot tear gas canisters from their helicopter.

Marseille, December 8. Marseille

In Marseille, yellow vesters, environmentalists, residents who were angry about urban policies, and students took the streets together on December 8. In the morning, about 2000 yellow vesters gathered in the vieux port (the old port) and moving towards the prefecture. Unfortunately, far-right tendencies were present in the march, including rhetoric against migrants and radical leftists. Some participants were even asking the police to join the demonstration. Once the march came back near downtown, yellow vesters tried to get closer to the main City Hall. Police shot the first tear gas canisters at that point and pushed demonstrators back towards the Canebière. The first fashion store was looted as police repeatedly charged several groups of protestors and rioters.

Around 4 pm, more than 5000 individuals arrived from the Castellane district. This procession was composed of climate marchers and angry locals. All the different marches and crowds were converging on the Canebière. The different components of the crowd expressed solidarity; everyone was there with the same purpose. Police forces started increasing the pressure by tear-gassing the crowd. Officers of the BAC were also present, mostly to protect stores and other possible targets.

That didn’t stop people from attacking and looting several stores, banks, and ATMs. Police forces continued to push back the crowd. Once the crowd reached the Soléam building—a company in charge of the urban planning—every single window was smashed. Confrontations lasted for several hours as barricades and trash bins were set on fire; the Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas trees were set on fire.

Police finally dispersed the rioting crowd with tanks. However, the riots continued further: new barricades were erected and set aflame; a parking meter was attacked; jewelry stores were looted. The cat and mouse game between police forces and rioters ended around 8 pm. The authorities arrested about 60 people and injured many more.

Bordeaux, December 8. Bordeaux, December 8. Bordeaux

In Bordeaux, the situation was quite intense. Everything started around 1 pm, when a group of 100-200 high school students joined the demonstration called for by local yellow vesters. According to local media outlets, 7000 people were already gathering on the docks. The atmosphere was quite friendly but also determined.

A joyous crowd started walking through the city in order to reach the City Hall. Passing through the rue Sainte-Catherine, the city’s chief shopping street, demonstrators mingled with bystanders shopping for the holidays. Some stores started closing their doors upon seeing the crowd. The march reached the Place Pey Berland, the main square where the Cathedral and the City Hall are located.

Rapidly, the square filled with people. Around 4 pm, some projectiles were thrown at police, who responded with the first tear gas grenades of the day. The situation continued to escalate for about two hours, as yellow vesters and students resisted police charges, tear gas, and rubber bullets. At least one individual was injured by rubber bullets impacts to the face.

Around 6 pm, police forces received the order to clear the square. A rain of tear gas canisters fell upon the protestors. Then police forces shifted to stun-grenades. A young man lost his hand as a consequence of trying to protect the demonstrators from one of these.

Due to the intensity of the confrontations, the crowd dispersed into the neighboring streets. Some protestors took this opportunity to erect barricades, some which caught fire; several banks were attacked; camera surveillance were smashed; trash tins were set on fire; windows were smashed. A cat and mouse game took place pitting rioters against BAC agents in the streets of Bordeaux.

After a final massive police charge, the groups of rioters dispersed. In their escape, one group attacked and looted an Apple Store and set one last barricade on fire. In total, 69 people were arrested, 54 of whom were held in custody.

Bordeaux, December 8.

Additional reports from other French cities are available here and here.

Altogether, according to the Minister of the Interior, the fourth nationwide day of action in France ended up with a total of 1723 arrests, with 1380 people put in custody. Since the beginning of the yellow vest movement, more than 3300 individuals have been arrested, 2354 have been put in custody, and more than 1200 have already seen trial.

A trade union demonstration in Paris on December 8. The people with helmets, masks, and goggles are in charge of the security of the march. And Outside France?

There have been several attempts to ignite copycat movements elsewhere around Europe and the world. In Egypt, the military tyrant al-Sisi forbade merchants from selling yellow vests ahead of the upcoming anniversary of the Egyptian revolution; in Tunisia, people launched a Facebook page proposing a “red vest” movement; in Iraq, demonstrators in Basra dusted off vests they had worn in a similar protest movement in 2015.

Belgium

Brussels saw the largest yellow vest demonstration outside France on December 8, with major traffic disruptions, clashes with police, and 460 arrests. The participants were largely middle class and white, but not entirely so. One demonstrator carried a sign opposing fascism; another, no to taxes and no to the immigration agreement. The person holding the sign opposing immigration was booed by the other demonstrators.

A group of yellow vesters demonstrating in front of the Alsetex factory of Précigné, France—a company known for producing law enforcement weapons used by the French government. The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the yellow vest movement has largely emerged from the far right. Gele Hesjes Facebook groups appeared around December 1 and grew quickly. That day, small demonstrations drew dozens of participants in a few cities. On December 8, there were demonstrations in more cities, with 200 participants in Rotterdam, about 100 in Amsterdam and the The Hague, and dozens of participants in several other towns.

At the demonstration in The Hague on December 1, yellow vest demonstrators displayed fascist symbols including the so-called Prinsenvlag, an old version of the Dutch national flag that has only been utilized by fascists since 1945. Members of several extreme right-wing groups were involved. On December 8, two prominent right-wing reactionaries participated in the demonstration in The Hague, one from Pegida, the other from the PVV, the party of Dutch fascist Geert Wilders. A portrait of the fascist icon Pim Fortuyn could be seen on the yellow vest of one of the participants.

In Nijmegen, where the chief organizer has extreme right wing connections, the fascist group Identitair Verzet handed out stickers to yellow vest demonstrators inside the demonstration. In Amsterdam, one demonstrator wore a yellow vest emblazoned with the letters RFVD (Forum voor Democratie), a fascist party with two seats in parliament, even more openly racist than de PVV.

The movement in Amsterdam seems to be the least dominated by the far right, so far, with anarchists distributing literature and engaging participants in discussion on December 8.

Of course, not all the demonstrators are fascists. You see many complaints about budget cuts, health care structures in disrepair, issues that it makes sense to be angry about. But these are often connected to complaints about the European Union, so-called “globalism,” and so on. Many of the Gele Hesjes discourse has focused on a United Nations agreement on immigration called the Marrakesh pact. In fact, the agreement simply confirms laws and treaties already in place. According to right-wing disinformation, however, this pact means that Europe invites “all of Africa” to come, while outlawing any criticism of migration. It is amazing how many people appear to believe this nonsense.

Under these conditions, most of the left are understandably hostile to the yellow vests movement in the Netherlands. It is an open question whether anarchists could have been the first ones to initiate Yellow Hesjes groups and thereby set a different discourse. Hesitation, followed by relief when one’s suspicions are confirmed, can cede the space of social unrest to the far right—with disastrous consequences.

A new Facebook group has appeared now under the name Rode Hesjes, “red vests,” stressing solidarity and rejecting racist tactics of divide and conquer. This seems to be a classic left project, making demands to the government and holding itself apart from the social ferment of generalized unrest.

Germany

Developments in Germany have been mostly farcical; a few far-right groups initially attempted to popularize the yellow vest model, without success. One Nazi group held its regular demonstration in yellow vests. As usual, the majority of German anti-fascists expressed suspicion about the popular movement, though a few groups oriented towards class-war politics criticized this attitude.

Anti-fascists in Dortmund organized their own yellow vest demonstration on the weekend of December 8, addressing the contradictions within the movement. In conservative southern Germany, an institutional left group in Munich is calling for yellow vest demonstrations, and the left party Die Linke has endorsed the movement.

Entertainingly, a German anarchist apparently started one of the popular yellow vest twitter accounts as a prank, attempting to use satire to mock the conspiracy theories within the right-wing elements of the movement. Unfortunately, this is a bad era for satire, and right-wing German yellow vesters took even the most outlandish tweets seriously until the prank was revealed.

Place de la République, where the Climate March ended on December 8. The sign reads something to the effect of “Proud and determined. Women in precarious situations, mad women. The DALO law [which supposedly guarantees the right to decent housing to anyone who is unable to access it by their own means] is a joke. This is a bourgeois bohemian law. Having a roof above our heads is a right. Our lives can’t wait.” Aftermath

On Monday, December 10, President Macron delivered an official speech on national television. He acknowledged that the country is currently in “an economical and social state of emergency.” In light of this, he personally asked the government and the parliament to do whatever is necessary to make it possible for people to live decently from their jobs starting next year. Alongside these statements, Macron presented new political measures—including increasing minimum wage by €100 a month starting next year; offering tax exemption on overtime; asking employers to offer Christmas bonuses; cancelling tax on pensions under €2000 a month—in order to answer some of the yellow vesters’ demands.

On Tuesday, December 11, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented the new government’s decisions before the National Assembly and reaffirmed the wish to find a mutual agreement quickly in order to exit this month-long political and social crisis.

So far, it is difficult to evaluate the real impact that Macron’s speech will have on the yellow vest movement’s future. For the most part, political parties—the populist left and the far-right nationalists—jumped on this occasion to denounce the President’s measures and the legitimacy of the actual government. While some yellow vesters—mostly “legalists”—seem satisfied with the government’s announcement and think it is time for the yellow vest movement to accept dialogue, others describe the situation as a farce and aim to continue the fight. Another day of action has been called for Saturday, December 15.

A banner on the Champs Elysées reading “Referendum of Popular Initiatives. €(Euro) dictatorship, Banksters in prison!” The idea of establishing a “referendum of popular initiatives” has become one of the most popular demands among some yellow vesters. They took this idea from an existing policy in Switzerland, where, if a petition receives a certain amount of signatures, a referendum must take place on the issue. This is a demand for the kind of participatory democracy that also produced the Brexit vote. The rhetoric of “€ dictatorship” has been used by the far-right for years; like “Banksters in prison,” it focuses on a single element of capitalism, so as to distract from the problems with the system itself. The banner is representative of the kind of crypto fascist and far-right conspiracy theories prevalent among some participants in the movement; further evidence of this includes the french flag and the sign reading “11 vaccines=poison” in the background. Reflections

The yellow vest movement continues to surprise everyone on account of its duration, its determination, and its capacity to assume new forms. A month ago, no one imagined that such chaos and political instability were about to unfold in France. Despite numerous attempts to establish dialogue, pacify the social base, and isolate the most radical fringe, the movement is still alive and unpredictable.

The focus of the movement has slowly shifted. Several weeks ago, the participants concentrated on protesting the increase of fuel and gas prices and the high cost of living; now, there is more attention on the government and the systemic causes of our difficult living situations.

Moreover, part of the movement has also succeeded in opening its ranks to other demonstrators and causes. In the beginning, the movement was almost exclusively composed of people wearing yellow vests and pushing the associated demands; last Saturday in Paris, we saw students, rail workers, climate marchers, trade unionists, individuals from the suburbs, anarchists, autonomous rebels, and “rioters without adjectives” joining the yellow vesters in the street fights. This convergence seems to have pushed the movement towards a more social, leftist, and anti-capitalist approach, and opening up space for marginalized people to participate.

For example, in their collective charter, some yellow vesters are asking for the end of French pillaging, political interference, and military occupation in African countries. In a surprising letter published on November 9, several radical yellow vesters proposed an analysis of the current situation based on anti-capitalist and anti-statist arguments. They concluded by saying:

“No, our violence is not bad! No, our violence is not violent! No, our violence is a deliverance! Our violence is not bloodthirsty, it is salutary! Now, let us be governed by ourselves, and let’s trust our creative power!”

On this boarded up grocery store belonging to a widespread corporate chain, we read: “The earth is burning—when will it be the turn of the Elysée?” The Elysée is the name of the presidential palace. The Threat of Nationalist Cooptation

Yet the movement has also involved populists, nationalists, and fascists. The so-called “apolitical” façade in the early stages of the movement enabled far-right nationalists and populist leftists to create connections with the movement and take advantage of its anger for political purposes. This is not surprising, since many of the demonstrators share common ideas with those parties. Regarding the possible end result of the movement, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the leftist populist party France Insoumise or the far-right nationalist Rassemblement National emerge victorious from this political crisis.

This is what our comrades from Dijon experienced last Saturday, when they were confronted with xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny during the yellow vest demonstration. The situation in Lyons is troubling in that local fascists are well organized and are using this movement as a platform to spread their ideas.

In Paris, fascist groups have been seen since the beginning of the yellow vest movement. Thankfully, anti-fascists are doing everything they can to keep them off the streets.

However, some comrades say that to the extent that nationalists have been marginalized within the yellow vest movement, this has not been accomplished by street attacks so much as by expanding the activities of the movement to include tactics—such as property destruction—that are incompatible with right-wing politics. Fascists were able to represent street conflicts with police as a righteous struggle against the forces of centrist neoliberalism, but they have no narrative to legitimize property destruction and rioting.

Minimizing or ignoring the presence of fascists within the movement is dangerous. Considering the political and ideological connections many participants share with populist and nationalist parties, the tables could turn overnight. This makes it especially important to attack and delegitimize fascists who wish to participate in the movement, to come up with discourse and strategies that offer them no footholds within the movement, and above all to organize effective anti-capitalist measures addressing the economic problems that confront so many people today.

We also must strategize about what to do if nationalists are able to capitalize on the political turmoil resulting from the movement. Even if nationalists are marginalized in the streets, they could still take advantage of the situation to win power in the government. We should be ready for that situation, as well.

On this boarded up pharmacy in Paris on December 8, we read: “Macron, Le Pen, Mélenchon, get the hell out!” And after the Crest?

For some of us, the events of December 8 were a partial failure because the situation was not as uncontrollable as on December 1, and because the crowds never mustered the courage to confront the police directly. Many people felt overwhelmed by the situation. This seems to indicate that the movement is reaching a plateau, if not an impasse. If things do not shift again, the movement will eventually cycle down and die, at least in Paris.

On the other hand, other comrades consider last Saturday a huge success. While the authorities deployed unprecedented police force nationwide and sent a threatening to message to any individual who wanted to demonstrate, thousands of people still found the courage to take the streets, and many of them eventually succeeded in outmaneuvering the police. In Paris, the riots lasted for about seven hours. In the end, there was more overall economic damage than the previous week, which compensates for the fact that crowds rarely engaged in frontal confrontations with the police.

Yet here, too, we see the risk of stagnation. The yellow vest movement still lacks a way to expand the horizon beyond blocking traffic, confronting police, and destroying symbols of capitalism. Of course, one could make the same criticism of the police strategy—though the police, too, have shown themselves to be capable of shifting their approach. The tactics of the movement have created a political crisis, but mere escalation is a game that the state can play as well—at least within a limited space.

One option would be to intensify occupations alongside blockades and riots—as some yellow vesters did in Saint Nazaire and some students are doing in their high schools and universities. This could create a space for discussion, in which people could develop deeper ties within the movement. It would offer another model for bringing pressure to bear on the state while also putting the participants in touch with their own power to create alternatives.

In any case, with the Christmas holidays approaching, the calendar itself—that ancient weapon to contain social struggles within the existing order—is against the movement. The greater question is how the yellow vest movement will have changed the long-term conditions and horizon of possibility in France and around the world.

“Merry Christmas, [Em]Manu[el Macron].” This graffito in Paris was intended ironically, but it may indeed be Christmas that saves Macron.


The post The Yellow Vest Movement: Showdown with the State appeared first on Infoshop News.

How to create a leaderless revolution and win lasting political change

Infoshop News - 5 hours 10 min ago

via The Guardian

by Carne Ross


The gilets jaunes movement in France is a leaderless political uprising. It isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. Occupy, the Arab spring and #MeToo are other recent examples of this new politics. Some of it is good. Some of it is not: a leaderless movement, self-organised on Reddit, helped elect Donald Trump. But leaderless movements are spreading, and we need to understand where they come from, what is legitimate action and, if you want to start one, what works and what doesn’t.

The Arab spring began with the self-immolation of one despairing young man in Tunisia; the revolt rapidly spread across the region, just as protests have proliferated in France. In highly connected complex systems, such as the world today, the action of a single agent can suddenly trigger what complexity theorists call a “phase shift” across the entire system.

We cannot predict which agent or what event might be that trigger. But we already know that the multiplying connections of our worldoffer an unprecedented opportunity for the rise and spread of leaderless movements.

Leaderless movements spring from frustration with conventional top-down politics, a frustration shared by many, not only those on the streets. Polls suggest the gilets jaunes are supported by a large majority of the French public. Who believes that writing to your MP, or signing a petition to No 10 makes any difference to problems such as inequality, the chronic housing shortage or the emerging climate disaster? Even voting feels like a feeble response to these deep-seated problems that are functions not only of government policies but more of the economic system itself.

What such movements oppose is usually clear, but what they propose is inevitably less so: that is their nature. The serial popular uprisings of the Arab spring all rejected authoritarian rule, whether in Tunisia, Egypt or Syria. But in most places there was no agreement about what kind of government should replace the dictators. In Eygpt, the Tahrir Square protests failed to create an organised democratic political party that could win an election. Instead, the Muslim Brotherhood, long highly organised and thus prepared for such a moment, stepped into the political vacuum. In turn, this provoked further mass protest, which eventually brought to power another dictatorship as repressive as Hosni Mubarak’s.

Read more


The post How to create a leaderless revolution and win lasting political change appeared first on Infoshop News.

Alan MacSimóin (1957-2018): a pioneer of anarchism in Ireland

Anarkismo - 8 hours 55 min ago
On December 5th we were pained to hear about the untimely death of Alan MacSimóin, veteran anarchist, trade unionist and tireless organiser in Ireland. Today we said farewell to him at Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin, where many other revolutionaries before him have been put to rest. Many friends and comrades from all parties and movements of the left joined his family to bid farewell to this exceptional man. SIPTU, his trade union, had arranged a guard of honour for him. The previous night, the wake at the Teachers’ Club was equally well attended by comrades of all persuasions: from the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party, Sinn Féin, Workers Solidarity Movement, Workers’ Party, even Labour. He, as a true non-sectarian, had friends in every single left-wing party, a friendship nurtured in decades of activism.

Climate justice and migration in the media

Infoshop News - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 18:47

via The Ecologist

by Maria Sakellari

Migration in the context of climate change is a justice issue. Those countries that have contributed most to climate change have a responsible the vulnerable communities forced to migrate due to climate change. 

Climate justice is a matter of determining the rights of those communities and the responsibilities of high polluters toward them. 

However, public discourses on climate change induced migration are moving backwards in terms of posing the question of justice, when they should be asking: how come certain people and communities are more vulnerable to climate change impacts; don’t high polluters owe redress to these groups? 

Climate injustice 

Wildfires in California have been exacerbated by climate change, and have destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of people. Huge numbers of homeless are sleeping on the streets.

At the other end of the scale, a recent report rom the UK Committee on Climate Change found that accelerating rising sea levels would claim coastal areas in the country and local communities would have to move inland. 

Read more

The post Climate justice and migration in the media appeared first on Infoshop News.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the old San Francisco, his new novel, and his first 100 years

Infoshop News - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 18:09

via Document

by Ira Silverberg

The literary legend discusses the legacy of City Lights, anarchism, and the San Francisco that was with editor Ira Silverberg.

Perhaps no living American deserves the honorific “man of letters” more than Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Best known as a poet—his poetry collection A Coney Island of the Mind, first published in 1958, has sold more than one million copies—Ferlinghetti is also a novelist, playwright, publisher, and bookseller. In 1956, he published Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems at City Lights Books, which was then, Ferlinghetti says, both a one-room bookshop and a “two-bit poetry press” in San Francisco. The ensuing trial for obscenity became a literary landmark when the California State Superior Court decided in Ferlinghetti’s favor, ruling that Howl “does have some redeeming social importance.” That decision also paved the way for a landmark of a different sort: In 2001, nearly 50 years after opening its doors, City Lights, the bookshop Howl made famous, was designated an official historic site by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

In March, Doubleday will publish Ferlinghetti’s Beat-inflected third novel, Little Boy, on the occasion of the author’s 100th birthday. Though the little boy of the title is based on Ferlinghetti, and his biographical details bear more than a passing resemblance to Ferlinghetti’s own— dead father, absent mother, World War II service, studies at the Sorbonne—the author is quick to clarify that the boy is “an imaginary me.”

Recently, Ferlinghetti caught up by phone with Ira Silverberg, a fellow publishing polymath whose career has spanned several decades, multiple book imprints, and two literary agencies. Silverberg, now an editor at Simon & Schuster, was also a close friend of Ginsberg and continues to teach his work each year at the Columbia University School of the Arts MFA writing program.

Ira Silverberg—How are you? It’s been a number of years.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti—Well, there’s no blood running out.

Ira—Indeed. You know, I read something of yours today that I’d love to read back to you, if you’ll indulge me.

Lawrence—Yeah.

Ira—[“Pity the Nation” (After Khalil Gibran)]

‘Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars Whose sages are silenced

And whose bigots haunt the airwaves Pity the nation that raises not its voice Except to praise conquerors
And acclaim the bully as hero

And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own
Pity the nation whose breath is money And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed Pity the nation oh pity the people

who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away
My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty!’

Lawrence—Where did you pick it up?

Ira—Oh, you know, the wonder of the internet is that one can find anything. It’s actually on the City Lights site. Hearing it today, I wonder how that feels in terms of where we’re at politically right now.

Read more

The post Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the old San Francisco, his new novel, and his first 100 years appeared first on Infoshop News.

Διεθνιστικός ταξικός αγώνας

Anarkismo - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 10:30
Ο αγώνας ενάντια σεφασισμό-εθνικισμό
Για μας η λογική της διεθνιστικής αλληλεγγύης βασίζεται στην διαμόρφωση δικτύων μεταξύ ομάδων και συλλογικοτήτων σε διάφορες χώρες, ειδικά στα Βαλκάνια, οι οποίες έχουν έρθει σε ρήξη με το πνεύμα του εθνικισμού και του πατριωτισμού, και που έχουν σαν απώτερο σκοπό του κοινωνικούς και ταξικούς αγώνες ενάντια στο κεφάλαιο και τις ιμπεριαλιστικές δυνάμεις. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι δεν θα αναλωθούμε στις “ιστορικές αλήθειες του παρελθόντος” αλλά στα ζητήματα του άμεσου και μακρινού μέλλοντος έχοντας ως αφετηρία τους συλλογικούς κοινούς μας αγώνες.

An Anarchist View of State Formation-- Review of Peter Gelderloos, “Worshipping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation”

Anarkismo - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 19:12
Review of Peter Gelderloos, “Worshipping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation”
A review of Peter Gelderloos'anarchist analysis of how states are formed and developed.

Yellow Vests Movement Rocks France

Infoshop News - Sun, 12/09/2018 - 14:34

The yellow vest protests has been disrupting France for weeks and has turned into a broader social movement. Infoshop News brings you a round-up of the latest news, developments, media, opinion and analysis.

Breaking News Analysis, Opinion, Statements “The People’s directives”

Demands made by the yellow vests in France.

  • End of the tax hike on fuel.
  • Promote the transport of goods by rail.
  • Tax on marine fuel oil and kerosene.
  • Monthly minimum wage at 1,300 euros net ($1947 CAD per month after taxes).
  • Indexing of all wages, pensions and allowances to inflation.
  • Nationalization of the fuel for home heating and electricity sectors.
  • More progressive income tax (more marginal tax brackets).
  • The end of the austerity.
  • No withholding tax.
  • Restoring the taxes for the ultra-wealthy.
  • Same social security system for all workers, including the self-employed.
  • The pension system must remain in solidarity and therefore socialized.
  • No retirement pension below 1,200 euros ($1797/month CAD).
  • Increase of disability allowances.
  • Retirement at age 60, and a right to early retirement at 55 for workers who have worked a hard manual labour job.
  • Continuation of the Pajemploi help system until the child is 10 years old.
  • End of outsourcing of work for French corporations.
  • Limit the number of fixed-term contracts for large companies, replaced with more full time employment.
  • Maximum salary fixed at 15,000 euros [monthly] ($22469/month, or maximum annual salary of ~$270,000).
  • Jobs for the unemployed.
  • Any elected representative will be entitled to the median national salary.
  • The popular referendum must enter into the Constitution. Creating a readable and effective site, supervised by an independent control body where people can make a proposal for a law. If this bill obtains 700,000 signatures then this bill will have to be discussed, completed and amended by the National Assembly, which will have the obligation, one year to the day after obtaining the 700,000 signatures, to submit it to the vote of all French.
  • Return to a seven-year term for the President of the Republic.
  • End of presidential allowances for life.
  • Proportional voting system.
  • Elimination of of the Senate.
  • Accounting of the protest/blank/none of the above ballots.
  • Promote small businesses in villages and town centers. Stop the construction of large commercial areas around the big cities that kill the small business. More free parking in city centers.
  • No further privatization of French infrastructure.
  • Improved funding for the justice system, the police, the gendarmerie and the army.
  • All the money earned by highway tolls will be used for the maintenance of motorways and roads in France and road safety.
  • Immediate closure of private trains, post offices, schools and maternity homes.
  • Maximum 25 students per class for all ages.
  • Large corporations (McDonald’s, Google, Amazon, Carrefour …) pay big [taxes], small businesses (artisans, SMEs) pay small [taxes].
  • Protect the French industry to prohibit outsourcing.
  • End of the business tax credit. Use this money for the launch of a French hydrogen car industry.
  • Eliminate credit card fees for merchants.
  • Lower employers’ charges.
  • Continue exemption of farm diesel.
  • Improve the lives of the elderly, by banning exploitation and making money off the elderly.
  • Substantial boosts in mental health fund.
  • Prohibition of glyphosate.
  • Immediate end to temporary foreign worker programs.
  • Plan for improving insulation of housing (help the environment by helping the household).
  • Rent control. More low-rent housing (especially for students and precarious workers).
  • Treat the root causes of forced migration.
  • Fair treatment of asylum seekers . We owe them housing, security, food and education. Work with the UN to have host camps open in many countries around the world, pending the outcome of the asylum application.
  • Return of unsuccessful asylum seekers to their country of origin.
  • Real integration policy is implemented. Living in France means becoming French (French language course, French history course and civic education course with certification at the end of the course).

The post Yellow Vests Movement Rocks France appeared first on Infoshop News.

The “Yellow Vests” Show How Much the Ground Moves Under Our Feet

Infoshop News - Sun, 12/09/2018 - 03:00

via La Monde

by David Graeber

If one feature of any truly revolutionary moment is the complete failure of conventional categories to describe what’s happening around us, then that’s a pretty good sign we’re living in revolutionary times.

It strikes me that the profound confusion, even incredulity, displayed by the French commentariat—and even more, the world commentariat—in the face of each successive “Acte” of the Gilets Jaunes drama, now rapidly approaching its insurrectionary climax, is a result of a near total inability to take account of the ways that power, labour, and the movements ranged against power, have changed over the last 50 years, and particularly, since 2008. Intellectuals have for the most part done an extremely poor job understanding these changes.

Let me begin by offering two suggestions as to the source of some of the confusion:

1. in a financialised economy, only those closest to the means of money-creation (essentially, investors and the professional-managerial classes) are in a position to employ the language of universalism. As a result, any political claims as based in particular needs and interests, tended to be treated as manifestation of identity politics, and in the case of the social base of the GJ, therefore, cannot be imagined it as anything but proto-fascist.

2. since 2011, there has been a worldwide transformation of common sense assumptions about what participating in a mass democratic movement should mean—at least among those most likely to do so. Older “vertical” or vanguardist models of organization have rapidly given way to an ethos of horizontality one where (democratic, egalitarian) practice and ideology are ultimately two aspects of the same thing. Inability to understand this gives the false impression movements like GJ are anti-ideological, even nihilistic.

Let me provide some background for these assertions.

Since the US jettisoning of the gold standard in 1971, we have seen a profound shift in the nature of capitalism. Most corporate profits are now no longer derived from producing or even marketing anything, but in the manipulation of credit, debt, and “regulated rents.” As government and financial bureaucracies become so intimately intertwined it’s increasingly difficult to tell one from the other, wealth and power—particularly, the power to create money (that is, credit)—also become effectively the same thing. (This was what we were drawing attention to in Occupy Wall Street when we talked about the “1%’—those with the ability to turn their wealth into political influence, and political influence back into wealth.) Despite this, politicians and media commentators systematically refuse to recognize the new realities, for instance, in public discourse one must still speak of tax policy as if it is primarily a way of government raising revenue to fund its operations, whereas in fact it is increasingly simply a way of (1) ensuring the means of credit-creation can never be democratized (as only officially approved credit is acceptable in payment of taxes), and (2) redistributing economic power from one social sector to another.

Since 2008 governments have been pumping new money into the system, which, owing to the notorious Cantillon effect, has tended to accrue overwhelmingly to those who already hold financial assets, and their technocratic allies in the professional managerial classes. In France of course these are precisely the Macronists. Members of these classes feel that they are the embodiments of any possible universalism, their conceptions of the universal being firmly rooted in the market, or increasingly, that atrocious fusion of bureaucracy and market which is the reigning ideology of what’s called the “political center.” Working people in this new centrist reality are increasingly denied any possibility of universalism, since they literally cannot afford it. The ability to act out of concern for the planet, for instance, rather than the exigencies of sheer survival, is now a direct side-effect of forms of money creation and managerial distribution of rents; anyone who is forced to think only of their own or their family’s immediate material needs is seen as asserting a particular identity; and while certain identities might be (condescendingly) indulged, that of “the white working class” can only be a form of racism. One saw the same thing in the US, where liberal commentators managed to argue that if Appalachian coal miners voted for Bernie Sanders, a Jewish socialist, it must nonetheless somehow be an expression of racism, as with the strange insistence that the Giles Jaunes must be fascists, even if they haven’t realized it.

These are profoundly anti-democratic instincts.

To understand the appeal of the movement—that is, of the sudden emergence and wildfire spread of real democratic, even insurrectionary politics—I think there are two largely unnoticed factors to be taken into consideration.

The first is that financialized capitalism involves a new alignment of class forces, above all ranging the techno-managerials (more and more them employed in pure make-work “bullshit jobs,” as part of the neoliberal redistribution system) against a working class that is now better seen as the “caring classes”—as those who nurture, tend, maintain, sustain, more than old-fashioned “producers.” One paradoxical effect of digitization is that while it has made industrial production infinitely more efficient, it has rendered health, education, and other caring sector work less so, this combined with diversion of resources to the administrative classes under neoliberalism (and attendant cuts to the welfare state) has meant that, practically everywhere, it has been teachers, nurses, nursing-home workers, paramedics, and other members of the caring classes that have been at the forefront of labor militancy. Clashes between ambulance workers and police in Paris last week might be taken as a vivid symbol of the new array of forces. Again, public discourse has not caught up with the new realities, but over time, we will start having to ask ourselves entirely new questions: not what forms of work can be automated, for instance, but which we would actually want to be, and which we would not; how long we are willing to maintain a system where the more one’s work immediately helps or benefits other human beings, the less you are likely to be paid for it.

Second, the events of 2011, starting with the Arab Spring and passing through the Squares movements to Occupy, appear to have marked a fundamental break in political common sense. One way you know that a moment of global revolution has indeed taken place is that ideas considered madness a very short time before have suddenly become the ground assumptions of political life. The leaderless, horizontal, directly democratic structure of Occupy, for instance, was almost universally caricatured as idiotic, starry-eyed and impractical, and as soon as the movement was suppressed, pronounced the reason for its “failure.” Certainly it seemed exotic, drawing heavily not only on the anarchist tradition, but on radical feminism, and even, certain forms of indigenous spirituality. But it has now become clear that it has become the default mode for democratic organizing everywhere, from Bosnia to Chile to Hong Kong to Kurdistan. If a mass democratic movement does emerge, this is the form it can now be expected to take. In France, Nuit Debout might have been the first to embrace such horizontalist politics on a mass scale, but the fact that a movement originally of rural and small-town workers and the self-employed has spontaneously adopted a variation on this model shows just how much we are dealing with a new common sense about the very nature of democracy.

About the only class of people who seem unable to grasp this new reality are intellectuals. Just as during Nuit Debout, many of the movement’s self-appointed “leadership” seemed unable or unwilling to accept the idea that horizontal forms of organization were in fact a form of organization (they simply couldn’t comprehend the difference between a rejection of top-down structures and total chaos), so now intellectuals of left and right insist that the Gilets Jaunes are “anti-ideological”, unable to understand that for horizontal social movements, the unity of theory and practice (which for past radical social movements tended to exist much more in theory than in practice) actually does exist in practice. These new movements do not need an intellectual vanguard to provide them with an ideology because they already have one: the rejection of intellectual vanguards and embrace of multiplicity and horizontal democracy itself.

There is a role for intellectuals in these new movements, certainly, but it will have to involve a little less talking and a lot more listening.

None of these new realities, whether of the relations of money and power, or the new understandings of democracy, likely to go away anytime soon, whatever happens in the next Act of the drama. The ground has shifted under our feet, and we might do well to think about where our allegiances actually lie: with the pallid universalism of financial power, or those whose daily acts of care make society possible.


The post The “Yellow Vests” Show How Much the Ground Moves Under Our Feet appeared first on Infoshop News.

The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change Isn’t a Technology

Infoshop News - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 16:41

via Scientific American

by By Han de Groot

The latest IPCC report  does not mince words about the state of our planet: we must act now to achieve global change at a scale that has “no documented historical precedent” in order to avoid the climate catastrophe that would result from a 2 degree C rise in average global temperature. Climate change already disproportionately affects the world’s most vulnerable people including poor rural communities that depend on the land for their livelihoods and coastal communities throughout the tropics. Indeed, we have already seen the stark asymmetry of suffering resulting from extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, droughts, wildfires and more.

So far, advocates and politicians have tended to focus on reducing fossil fuel consumption through technology and/or policy, such as a steep carbon tax, as climate solutions. These proposals are, of course, essential to reducing manmade carbon emissions—71 percent of which are generated by just 100 fossil fuel companies. For this reason, fossil-fuel–related emissions reductions rightly figure heavily in the national climate commitments of the 181 nations that signed the global Paris Agreement.

Yet the international focus on fossil fuels has overshadowed the most powerful and cost-efficient carbon-capture technology the world has yet seen: forests. Recent scientific research confirms that forests and other “natural climate solutions” are absolutely essential in mitigating climate change, thanks to their carbon sequestering and storage capabilities. In fact, natural climate solutions can help us achieve 37 percent of our climate target, even though they currently receive only 2.5 percent of public climate financing.

Forests’ power to store carbon dioxide through the simple process of tree growth is staggering: one tree can store an average of about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in one year. Recent research shows intact forests are capable of storing the equivalent of the carbon dioxide emissions of entire countries such as Peru and Colombia.

For this reason, policy makers and business leaders must create and enforce ambitious policies and incentives to prevent deforestation, foster reforestation of degraded land, and support the sustainable management of standing forests in the fight against climate change. Protecting the world’s forests ensures they can continue to provide essential functions aside from climate stability, including producing oxygen, filtering water and supporting biodiversity. Not only do all the world’s people depend on forests to provide clean air, clean water, oxygen, and medicines, but 1.6 billion people rely on them directly for their livelihoods.

Read more


The post The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change Isn’t a Technology appeared first on Infoshop News.

Πρώτο βήμα η αυτοοργάνωση

Anarkismo - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 12:28
Η αυτοοργάνωση είναι το πρώτο και κύριο βήμα προς τον στόχο μας
Το άρθρο αυτό εξηγεί εν ολίγοις την κατάσταση που βρίσκονται οι αναρχικοί στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο, υπενθυμίζοντας ότι δεν μπορούμε να περιμένουμε άλλο, πρέπει εδώ και τώρα να αυτοοργανωθούμε πριν είναι αργά.

Student Debt Must Become Part of the Battle Against Poverty

Infoshop News - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 23:24

via Truthout

by Daniela Senderowicz

Debt is to capitalism, that which hell is to Christianity,” economist Yanis Varoufakis recently said. “Debt might be unpleasant, but absolutely essential for capitalism.” If so, then in our capitalist society, the hell of student debts makes borrowers the sacrificial lamb that appeases the deities of capital.

Forty-four million people owe over $1.5 trillion in student debt that is primarily held by the US Department of Education. Tens of millions are struggling to pay back a government that acts increasingly like a predatory vulture fund feeding off the misery of debtors’ perpetual poverty. Debts spiral out of control quickly when one is disadvantaged or can’t find a good-paying job, or when the creditors themselves employ the classic, corrupt tactics of parasitic pawnbrokers. The path to student loan distress is not that difficult: Not only have wages stagnated, but already intolerable wealth inequality grew during the global financial crisis to critical proportions. The Brookings Institute, after measuring representative samples of borrowers in loan distress, estimates that 40 percent of debtors who entered school in 2004 may default by 2023. Research by The Washington Center for Equitable Growth shows that “student loans are a burden for all earners,” including higher income earners. The Center’s national map of student debt shows significant delinquency rates among borrowers, especially in areas plagued by racial inequality and lower median incomes.

Struggling student loan debtors have a keen understanding of the corrosive greed that transformed our higher education system into just another commodity. But their narrative of despair has done little to bring relief to their financial atrophy. A handful of progressive groups has emerged over the last decade demanding jubilees or bankruptcy protections for debtors, but their membership numbers are a nominal fraction of the millions of borrowers that are facing financial ruin. What sociologist Lauren Langman has termed the “virtual public sphere” has allowed many to share their grief in late-night online denunciations about the injustice of their debt bondage, but this hasn’t translated into massive public and collective action. While the Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter and teacher strikes are bringing thousands out into the streets demanding racial, gender and economic justice, why are student debtors not rising up en masse too?

The student debtor class can claim its own intellectual status as a form of social capital. But the arbitrarily constructed story of status has no value for capital: Educational rank and prestige does not ensure entry into a higher economic class, especially when it comes with perpetual debt bondage.

Read more

The post Student Debt Must Become Part of the Battle Against Poverty appeared first on Infoshop News.

On the Limits of “Just Being Polite”

Infoshop News - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 23:16

via C4SS

by Lynn James

There are few things more intrinsic to what we do as humans than communication. Activism, politics, and philosophy rest heavily on our ability to effectively engage in meaningful discourse. Jürgen Habermas even claims in Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action that communication is foundational to morality and freedom. All that philosophy jargon aside, the way we talk to each other is meaningful. Both the words we use and the way we structure discourse have ethical implications. In this piece, I hope to address both those issues in the context of left-wing and radical activism.

Specifically, we’ll talk about the strict rules of discourse imposed by activist spaces and the negative consequences of those rules, such as social hierarchies based on language policing. One particularly illustrative example of the dynamics I’ll identify comes from Max Stirner, but the point of this piece is not to defend Stirner or the particular example in question. In activist spaces, well intentioned rules are applied in deeply toxic ways, creating a structure where conformity to the discursive norm is valued above all else. The norms in question restrict people’s ability to participate in real communicative efforts and come to any kind of mutual understanding. If we seek liberation from oppression at all, it must necessarily come from within our own spaces as well as without.

If you’ve read this far, you probably know what leftbook is. For those who don’t, I’m referring to Facebook groups dedicated to discussion and shared community around leftism and memes. Here’s a little story about how those work: in one, it was against the rules to say the word “spooky” because it was considered a racist slur.

Wait, what?

Let me explain. Max Stirner, a 19th century German philosopher, wrote extensively about the relationship between individualism and society. He emphasized the way certain social constructs are insubstantial, saying notably that “Man, you see, is not a person, but an ideal, a spook.” A more literal translation is “higher being,” but the point is the same: Stirner argued that social constructs are not ontologically solid and exist only in the mind. Stirner’s ideas are prevalent in leftist and anarchist communities, but are otherwise obscure. Referencing Stirner and spooks became a sort of meme in leftbook, mostly because it represents an interesting and esoteric element of political philosophy. You could call anything a spook and other group members would understand that you were essentially calling it a social construct. It was a little bit meme, it was a little bit discourse, and it was funny.

One day, though, someone brought up the alternative connotations of “spook.” “Spook” has been used to refer to dark skinned black people as a derogatory slur. In the effort of approaching this in the best possible faith, it should be clear that I do not contest that “spook” has been used for racist purposes by racist people. Within certain contexts, it is indeed a slur. In this specific FB group, moderators called for a thread discussing whether calling various socio-political themes spooky was allowed or whether people who used it would then be banned. Eventually, the group decided that “spook,” “spooky,” and “spooks” would all be banned, and that those who used them would be asked to “self-crit.” If they refused, they too would be banned from the group. “Sounds spooky” was problematic.

Depending on your pre-held beliefs here, you may either think this sounds fairly reasonable or completely insane. If you think it’s reasonable, you might believe in what many advocates of political correctness maintain: that these restrictions pose no burden and that following them is “just being polite.” After all, no one has a right to be in a FB group. Follow the rules and use a different word.

But there are limits to just being polite.

Banned words in leftbook groups often surpass the limits of words commonly recognized as oppressive. Some of that is good; people opposed to domination and hierarchy shouldn’t use oppressive language. We should be on the front lines of being non-dominant in our language. It would be absurd to suggest that words can never cause harm and I’m not here to call people triggered snowflakes for being legitimately hurt by slurs. It may even be better to err on the side of caution in these cases; it has often been the case that derogatory words weren’t widely recognized for decades. But context matters. Until someone brought up that “spook” had alternative [racist] connotations, no one in the group had a problem with it. No one was using “spooky” to reference racism; there was absolutely no connection between the Stirner meme and the word’s alternative racist use. Only after “spooky” was labeled problematic did anyone make the connection. The context in which members of the group used “spooky” was utterly different than the context in which it has racist significance. But afterwards, those who disagreed with the ban were removed from the group, and those who supported and enforced the ban were lauded as woke and particularly anti-racist.

When activism takes political correctness and purity politics to an extreme, “just being polite” reaches its limits. Besides “spooky,” other examples of banned words included moronic, dumb, crazy, lame, and stupid. These words were all flagged as ableist and we were told to use “silly” or some similar word, as a replacement. Twitter posts circulating among leftist communities claim that non-binary people shouldn’t abbreviate their identity as “NB” as that is also used by non-black POC. It’s also recommended that polyamorous people abstain from using “poly” in their communities because Polynesian people use it. The arguments for this rest solely on the idea that using these terms causes harm to the impacted community. Clearly, here, not only do some communities become privileged over others, but the nebulous idea of causing harm substitutes for other analysis.

Read more

The post On the Limits of “Just Being Polite” appeared first on Infoshop News.

South Africa’s polluting giants: it’s about profits and class

Anarkismo - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 11:20
When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, South Africa falls within the 15 biggest polluters in the world. But there is also a class dimension when it comes to pinning down which sections of society are responsible for air pollution – the major polluters in South Africa are the ruling class (capitalists, politicians and top state bureaucrats) and their state and corporations (including state corporations), continuing an economy based on cheap black labour, mining and externalising costs. State-backed”empowerment” firms — for Afrikaners from 1948, and blacks from 1994 — are deeply involved.


The Saudi-Kurdish love affair

Anarkismo - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 06:03
As everyone watches in horror and disbelief the unparalleled Saudi atrocities in Yemen and the unspeakable barbaric assassination of the journalist Jamal Kashoggi, the Saudi royals are increasingly isolated in the world. However, in the Middle East, they have made new friends: the Kurdish of Syria.

Internationalists in the Revolution

Infoshop News - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 03:54

via ROAR Magazine

by Internationalist Commune of Rojava

Despite being under attack from the Turkish state and its allied militias operating under the banner of the Free Syrian Army on the one hand, and the Islamic State (ISIS) on the other, behind the front lines of the Syrian civil war the revolution in Rojava continues to develop in exciting ways. Inspired and shaped by the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan and the struggle of the Kurdish freedom movement, Rojava is a revolutionary project with the aim of challenging capitalist modernity through women’s liberation, ecology and radical democracy.

For several years, internationalists from all over the world have travelled to Rojava to contribute to and participate in the revolutionary project. Foreign fighters who have joined the armed struggle have garnered significant attention in the international media, but much less is known about the foreigners working behind the front lines. Inspired by the revolutionary perspective of the Kurdish freedom movement, they have come to learn and to support and help develop existing projects. Their aim is to organize a new generation of internationalists to challenge capitalist modernity.

Supported by the youth movement in Rojava (YCR/YJC), some of these activists established the Internationalist Commune of Rojava in early 2017. ROAR editor Joris Leverink spoke with two members of the Internationalist Commune about their motivations for joining the revolution, the different projects they have been involved in and the importance of solidarity beyond borders.

What were your motivations for going to Rojava, and how did you end up there?

Casper: I was involved in social and ecological movements in Europe, but with time I saw the problems and shortcomings of this way of doing politics. In fact, that concept was an obstacle to my political understanding in itselfI “did politics”, but I did not ask how to live and fight in a revolutionary way. And when I asked myself this question, I could not find an answer. Thanks to the resistance against ISIS in Kobane, I got to know the Kurdish movement and I saw that the revolution here lays out a path towards overcoming the critical problems this world faces — in social, political, economic and ecological aspects. To begin to follow that path, I came to Rojava and joined the revolution.

Clara: I think that each one of us should be able to feel and be revolted by any injustice in any place in the world. In fact, I was upset by the hypocrisy of our governments, our officials, our newspapers — and even other leftists — who spoke about ISIS, the Syrian people and the Kurds without taking real or concrete action. Only a few of them ever thought of coming here, which is the most important way to challenge these injustices and ensure our actions follow our words.

Casper: To be here is my expression of internationalism — overcoming the borders of states that are implemented between people. I often asked myself: “what would I have done against fascism in the times of the Spanish Civil War?” And many times, I answered: “of course I would have joined the resistance.” Today the fascist power is Turkey, and like in the times of the Spanish War, we as internationalists have to fulfil our duty.

Tell us a bit more about the Internationalist Commune: How was it set up? How many of you are there? What kind of projects have you initiated or been involved with?

Clara: The Internationalist Commune was jointly created by some internationalists who decided to engage in long-term work here, and comrades from the youth movement in Rojava (YCR/YCJ). The Commune aims to bring internationalism to life again, but also to find a new way within internationalism itself. As such, the commune is a structure that helps internationalists to find their place in the revolution. We support the struggle here, learn from the revolution, and do so in an organized way. For example, we share our experiences as internationalists, and help to organize solidarity structures around the world.

Casper: Part of the Commune is the newly constructed Internationalist Academy, where we have space to live, work and study together until people move on to work with different structures in the civil society of Rojava. It’s important that internationalists who arrive in Kurdistan have the chance to learn about the philosophy the Kurdish freedom movement stands on — and also to study the language.

Clara: One of our main projects is the campaign “Make Rojava Green Again.” The aim is to contribute to the ecological work of the revolution. But of course, the ecological situation cannot be analyzed without considering the state politics of Syria, Turkey and others.

Read more

The post Internationalists in the Revolution appeared first on Infoshop News.

How Do Unions Win Organizing Campaigns? Let’s Look at the 20 Year Old Data That Told Us

Infoshop News - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 03:17

via Medium

by Eric Dirnbach

An analysis of NLRB data from decades ago showed unions how to win elections against even tough employer union-busting campaigns. Is this still relevant today?

The Labor Movement Acknowledges its Crisis

After finishing graduate school I went to work in the labor movement in 2000 as a researcher and have spent the last 18 years doing union research, organizing and bargaining campaign work, policy analysis and similar projects.

That was a time when unions were in the middle of a renewed conversation about organizing, prompted by the election of the “New Voice” leadership at the AFL-CIO in 1995. A consensus had emerged that the labor movement was in a crisis due to falling membership and union density (the percentage of all workers who are union members). Many unions pledged to devote more resources to organizing and improve the way they ran organizing campaigns.

This issue became a focus of new research and many labor academics published probably dozens of books from 1995–2005 on unions and organizing, and I read most of them. One chapter of one book stuck in my mind all these years and I recently went back to reread it to see if it still offers lessons for today.

A Union Election Analysis

The first chapter of the 2004 book Rebuilding Labor: Organizing and Organizers in the New Union Movement, was “Changing to Organize: A National Assessment of Union Organizing Strategies” by Cornell professor Kate Bronfenbrenner and then-graduate student Robert Hickey. It featured an analysis of 412 NLRB union certification elections with over 50 eligible voters from 1998–1999. What was particularly interesting about this study is that they surveyed the union organizers who were involved in these elections to find out about union and employer tactics during the campaigns. They analyzed the data to see what factors mattered most for union wins. The authors noted that unions needed to engage in more strategic campaigning:

While the majority of unions today run very weak campaigns with no underlying strategy, the majority of employers run very strategic campaigns, taking full advantage of the range of effective anti-union tactics available to them, and adapting and tailoring those tactics, depending on the organizing environment and the union’s campaign.

The main hypothesis of the study was that unions would win more campaigns if they utilized what the authors called a “comprehensive union-building strategy,” composed of 10 tactical elements:

Read more

The post How Do Unions Win Organizing Campaigns? Let’s Look at the 20 Year Old Data That Told Us appeared first on Infoshop News.

Alan MacSimoin (1957-2018) – Dublin Historian and Political Activist

Anarkismo - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 08:02
We learned at lunchtime today of the tragic news that Alan MacSimoin has died. It was sudden and hit us hard. Alan was a social historian, political activist, trade unionist and great supporter of the Come Here To Me! project from day one.

Pages

Subscribe to North American Anarchist Studies Network aggregator