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Don’t despair: the climate fight is only over if you think it is

Infoshop News - 6 hours 56 min ago

via The Guardian

by Rebecca Solnit

In response to Monday’s release of the IPCC report on the climate crisis – which warned that “unprecedented” changes were needed if global warming increases 1.5C beyond the pre-industrial period – a standup comic I know posted this plaintive request on her Facebook: “Damn this latest report about climate change is just terrifying. People that know a lot about this stuff, is there anything to be potentially optimistic about? I think this week I feel even worse than Nov 2016 and I’m really trying to find some hope here.”

A bunch of her friends posted variations on “we’re doomed” and “it’s hopeless”, which perhaps made them feel that they were in charge of one thing in this overwhelming situation, the facts. They weren’t, of course. They were letting understandable grief at the news morph into an assumption that they know just how the future is going to turn out. They don’t.

The future hasn’t already been decided. That is, climate change is an inescapable present and future reality, but the point of the IPCC report is that there is still a chance to seize the best-case scenario rather than surrender to the worst. Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in a gulag for his work with Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, recalls his mentor saying: “They want us to believe there’s no chance of success. But whether or not there’s hope for change is not the question. If you want to be a free person, you don’t stand up for human rights because it will work, but because it is right. We must continue living as decent people.” Right now living as decent people means every one of us with resources taking serious climate action, or stepping up what we’re already doing.

Climate action is human rights, because climate change affects the most vulnerable first and hardest – it already has, with droughts, fires, floods, crop failures. It affects the myriad species and habitats that make this earth such an intricately beautiful place, from the coral reefs to the caribou herds. What we’re deciding now is what life will be like for the kids born this year who will be 82 in 2100, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s grandchildren. They will curse the era that devastated the planet, and perhaps they’ll bless the memory of those who tried to limit this destruction. The report says we need to drop fossil fuel consumption by 45% by 2030, when these kids will be 12. That’s a difficult but not impossible proposition.

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Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters

Infoshop News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 18:46

via Common Dreams

by Jeff Cohen

Chants of “No More War” from delegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention gave voice to sentiments that still resonate through the base of the party and the broad U.S. public, notably in communities with higher rates of military sacrifice.

While Trump’s 2016 victories in swing states may well have been aided by his posing as a foe of protracted war, his administration’s Mideast policies have largely exposed that masquerade. Unfortunately, the weak and confused positions of Democratic leaders on endless war and bloated military spending offer little alternative to war-weary voters.

Polls show the popularity of a progressive domestic agenda on issues from jobs to healthcare to free public college, but few Democrats in Congress are willing to strongly challenge the unaccountable military budget, which soaks up most discretionary spending that could be redirected toward the party’s proclaimed domestic agenda. By Obama’s last year in office, overall “defense” spending was higher (adjusted for inflation) than “at any point since World War II,” according to Peter Beinart (“The Democrats Keep Capitulating on Defense Spending”)—and significantly higher than during the Vietnam War.

Yet during federal budget negotiations early this year—with Trump requesting a staggering 11 percent Pentagon budget increase over two years—Nancy Pelosi boasted in an email to House Democrats: “In our negotiations, Congressional Democrats have been fighting for increases in funding for defense.” The office of Senate Democratic  leader Chuck Schumer declared: “We fully support President Trump’s Defense Department’s request.”  The budget agreement ultimately passed the Senate with more Democrats (36) voting for it than Republicans (34). Among the Democratic senators who voted no were the five most-often touted as potential 2020 presidential candidates – Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Jeff Merkley and Elizabeth Warren; independent Bernie Sanders also voted no.

Months later, an overwhelming majority of House and Senate Democrats supported the massive 2019 “National Defense Authorization Act” of $717 billion. The small minority of Democratic “no” votes in the Senate included five of the potential presidential candidates mentioned above; Booker voted “yea.”

In 2018, few Democratic candidates for Congress conveyed to voters how military budget cuts could make an expansive domestic agenda possible. Notable exceptions include Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) and  four newcomers (all women of color) expected to be sworn into Congress in January: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Ayanna Pressley (MA).

While Democratic leaders failed to resist Trump over war spending, they did loudly resist the prospect of peace breaking out in Korea. In June, on the eve of nuclear talks between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un (a process sparked by South Korea’s progressive-leaning president), Schumer and six other senior Democratic senators sent a rejectionist letter to Trump demanding that any hint of sanctions relief for North Korea be dependent on an agreement with obviously impossible conditions. The letter mirrored GOP objections to Obama’s Iran nuclear deal (such as the agreement needing to be permanent) – and the rejectionism was derided in a New York Times column (“Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts”) by Nicholas Kristof: “Shock! Horror! President Trump is actually doing something right. Sadly, Democrats in Congress are responding in a quite Trumpian way: They seem more concerned with undermining him than supporting a peace process with North Korea.”

Trump has a dangerous admiration for dictators like those in North Korea and Saudi Arabia—and for authoritarians like those in Russia and the Philippines. Democrats need to condemn such admiration without succumbing to reckless bellicosity.

The United States and Russia possess 93 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. Amid evidence of a Russian effort to help Trump during our 2016 election (evidently less effective and overt than the U.S. effort 20 years earlier that successfully backed an erratic, anti-democratic candidate in Russia’s presidential election), many Democratic leaders seem oblivious to the ongoing threat of armed conflict with Russia – a peril that was profoundly understood by Democratic presidents  during the height of the Cold War when Russia had a much worse form of government. Reacting to evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, numerous Democrats have engaged in extreme rhetoric , calling it an “act of war” and “equivalent” to Pearl Harbor. Democratic leaders have rarely acknowledged the crucial need for “a shift in approach toward Russia” including “steps to ease tensions between the nuclear superpowers,” in the words of an Open Letter  for “Election Secuirty and True National Security,” released this summer.

With consistently moral foreign policies that reject costly militarism and continuous intervention, Democrats could inspire the party base and gain support among swing voters and independents (especially third-party voters). But advocacy of those policies come mostly from a minority of Democratic “backbenchers,” not leaders.

The party leadership has routinely been absent in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen caused primarily by the U.S.-backed Saudi war (and White House coziness with Saudi Arabia). In March, Bernie Sanders, Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Mike Lee forced a vote on their Senate resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudis in Yemen. In the face of White House opposition and apparent indifference among Democratic leaders, it went down to defeat (55-44) thanks to ten Democratic ‘no’ votes. With the disaster continuing to worsen in Yemen, the House Democratic leadership reportedly dragged its feet while progressive first-term Congressman Ro Khanna persistently led a bipartisan effort to get a vote on a similar measure; finally, in late September, Khanna was able to introduce the resolution with some high-level party support.

On matters of war and peace—for instance, the 17-year occupation of Afghanistan or Team Trump’s extremely one-sided Israel-Palestine policy—top Democrats have offered few coherent alternative policies. In May, for example, Schumer praised Trump for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem days after he criticized Trump for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement—a deal Schumer had originally opposed. And Democratic leaders have made scant objections to Trump administration actions that a director at Amnesty International USA described as “hugely expanding the use of drone and airstrikes, including outside of war zones, and increasing civilian casualties in the process.”

Democrats often denounce the GOP for immoral and extremist domestic policies favoring the powerful. But the party’s failure to challenge such foreign policies is a moral and political tragedy.

A version of this article appears as part of “Democratic Autopsy: One Year Later,” a research report supported by RootsAction.org and excerpted by The Nation.    

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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What if … people could migrate freely?

Infoshop News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 18:24

via The New Internationalist

by Vanessa Baird

Architect and illustrator Theo Deutinger has made a simple but telling set of graphics showing the number of countries you can travel to without a visa, depending on your nationality.

If you are a citizen of the UK or the US, you are free to enter 157 countries. Your world is pretty big.

If you’re a citizen of Afghanistan, however, just 22 countries will let you in without a visa. Your world isn’t much bigger if you are Pakistani (25), Iraqi (26) or Syrian (30).

You will have noticed an emerging pattern. If you need to travel to escape war, conflict, poverty, then national borders are automatically closed to you.

If by accident of birth you are a citizen of a rich and relatively safe country, they are automatically open. And if you are a very rich person from a ‘poorer’ country you can buy, for example, a Maltese passport which will open more borders to you.

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Notes on Spontaneity and Organization

Infoshop News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 18:15

via Upping the Anti #8

by Elise Thorburn, Adrie Naylor, and Robyn Letson

On March 18, 1848 silent processions marched through Berlin – a city of 450,000 that was over 85 percent working class – collecting their dead and gathering crowds. For the first time in days, the city was quiet as the sun set. There were no gunshots, no barricades, no army, no police; just the revolutionaries and the King.

A years-long crisis precipitated revolt. Failing crops in 1845 doubled, sometimes tripled, the price of bread in the winter of 1846. Household budgets, of which two thirds were already devoted to food, became exclusively caloric. Demand for furniture and clothes evaporated, and with them the jobs that sustained Europe’s new industrial cities.
Ribbons of telegraph wire sent news from comrades in one city to newly emboldened radicals in the next. The Parisians were first in February. Days later Vienna fell. News of uprisings in Madrid, Saxony, Bavaria, Naples, Venice, and Prague spread. 1848: it was the Springtime of the Peoples.

There had long been a radical contingent in Berlin demanding a free press, free speech, and free elections, but they were constantly rebuffed by the aristocracy. By 1848, however, King Frederick William IV was also reading the newspapers and began to adopt a more concessionary disposition. On March 13th, a massive crowd gathered to celebrate a new constitution and new civil liberties. Students mixed with the unemployed, who mixed with the factory workers, all surrounded by a ring of mounted soldiers. As the King stepped out onto his balcony to greet the crowd, a drumroll sounded and suddenly the soldiers charged and fired shots. The jubilant crowd turned ferocious: “We are betrayed; to arms!”
As one witness recounted, “In all directions the thoroughfares were soon blocked with barricades. The paving stones seemed to leap from the ground and to form themselves into bulwarks surmounted by black, red, and gold flags and manned by citizens, university students, tradesmen, artists, laborers, professional men, hastily armed with all sorts of weapons, from rifles and shotguns down to pikes, axes, and hammers.” Part way through the street battle white banners were unfurled from the palace bearing a single word: Misunderstanding.

The church bells began to ring and did not stop until well after the fighting. The city was bombarded with artillery, gunshots, the sounds of executions and of cries. Over 200 people died. On the third day, the King ordered his troops to leave: the people were not going to be coerced into submission.

And so silent crowds descended on the palace and called for the King. He stepped out and for perhaps the first time in modern Europe – bowed to the crowd, honouring the dead and the revolutionaries. All of your demands, he told them, are accepted. A single voice punctuated the silence: “Smoking, too?” Another noble, Prince Lichnowsky, spoke up: “Yes, smoking too.” “Even in the Tiergarten?” “You may smoke in the Tiergarten, gentlemen.”

By the end of 1848, revolutionary forces everywhere in Europe were in full retreat. Hope for change was met with reneged promises and a new monarchist constitution. (1)

How many springs have we known? Over a year ago, people around the world were celebrating the emergence and proliferation of the Arab Spring, feeling as though they had been woken up from many winters of hardship and powerlessness. As with past springs, these events were marked by a sincere hope of revolutionary change – often appearing to emerge spontaneously and without centralized leadership. It is impossible to watch images of Tahrir Square in 2011 and deny that winning seems possible. But often these moments have no staying power: while some uprisings managed to topple long-time dictators, serious questions remain about whether or not systemic change was achieved. As with the rise of Otto von Bismarck after the 1848 Springtime of the Peoples, the revolutionary hopes of the Arab Spring are displaced as the defeat of the dictator gives way to a new ruling class.

The relationship between spontaneity and organization is a long standing and important topic for debate for revolutionary Left. Contemporary analyses have pitted the two as dichotomous, ignoring their dialectical relationship and leading to conclusions that ignore the role of organization and fetishizes spontaneity. Chief among these analyses is that of John Holloway, who, in the opening pages of his widely-read book, Change the World Without Taking Power, says:

“In the beginning is the scream. We scream.
When we write or when we read, it is easy to forget that the beginning is not the word, but the scream. Faced with the mutilation of human lives by capitalism, a scream of sadness, a scream of horror, a scream of anger, a scream of refusal: NO.
The starting point of theoretical reflection is opposition, negativity, struggle. It is from rage that thought is born, not from the pose of reason, not from the reasoned-sitting-back-and-reflecting-on-the-mysteries-of-existence that is the conventional image of the thinker.
We start from negation, from dissonance. The dissonance can take many shapes. An inarticulate mumble of discontent, tears of frustration, a scream of rage, a confident roar. An unease, a confusion, a longing, a critical vibration.” (2)

For Holloway, this moment of spontaneous refusal is the most naked, pure expression of resistance. But how can the collective “No” sustain itself beyond the first, initial scream?
Our goal in this editorial is twofold: first to complicate and elaborate the Left’s understanding of spontaneity and organization and then to turn to the question of strategic implications. The issue has re-asserted itself with urgency in light of recent struggles that have attempted – with varying degrees of success and failure – to distance themselves from centralized party modes of organizing or state-focused methods of movement building towards what have been described as more multitudinous, rhizomatic experiments in organizational movement structure. Much of the 1990s saw an exuberant shift to spontaneous organizing for many radicals and activists – an exuberance which continues to hold tremendous power. But our reliance on spontaneity has produced ephemeral movements: quick to disappear, easy to defeat.

Though there is no shortage of existential strategic questions for the Left to resolve, one of the most pressing in our minds is this: how do we embrace the energy and optimism of spontaneity without allowing it to slip through our fingers or be wrested from our grasp?

Too often spontaneity is thought of without sufficient rigour: it is conceived of as something that appears out of nowhere. To hope for spontaneity is to hope for a miracle, to rely on some phenomena that knows no conventional rules. This, to be sure, is spontaneity’s outward appearance; but form should not be confused with content. Spontaneity should be properly understood as a rupture – a moment where the patterns that seemed to be governing everyday life are suddenly understood to have a dramatically attenuated hold, or no hold at all. This kind of thinking allows us to understand that spontaneity is conditioned: beneath the surface, social forces are constantly interacting and reconfiguring life as we know it. Spontaneity occurs at the moment in which those forces break through the rigorously managed veneer of custom and normality. In short, spontaneity is the recognition of a new social ordering.

The Debate Revisited

Last May, in the midst of the Québec student strike, former Minister of Education Michelle Courchesne defended the government’s decision to put hard limits on the right to protest with Law 78, saying: “The right to protest is total. What we are saying [with this bill] is that spontaneity can also create excesses.”(3) With the implementation of Law 78 came the seemingly spontaneous emergence of casseroles, the pots-and-pans clanging, cacophonous demonstrations that took to the streets each night throughout Québec and in cities across Canada. These demonstrations were filled with rage and discontent, but also celebrated the power of solidarity, community, and spontaneity.

However, while spontaneity makes the state nervous, some leftists are loathe to embrace it, preferring instead to maintain control over protests, crowds, and strategy. During the 2010 G20 protest in Toronto, many activists faced aggressive tactics by volunteer marshals of the labour rally, who physically prevented demonstrators from heading south to the fence that protected the convention site. At times marshals linked arms at intersections to force demonstrators away from the fence. Moments like this reveal the contradictions of centralized planning in mass mobilizations and the mix of excitement and fear that accompany the possibilities of spontaneous moments.

Commenting on the process of labour organizing and activism, Paul Mattick writes:

“In the matter of organisation this, then, is the dilemma of the radical: in order to do something of social significance, actions must be organised. Organised actions, however, turn into capitalistic channels. It seems that in order to do something now, one can do only the wrong thing and in order to avoid false steps, one should undertake none at all. The political mind of the radical is destined to be miserable; it is aware of its utopianism and it experiences nothing but failures. In mere self-defence, the radical stresses spontaneity always, unless he is a mystic, with the secretly-held thought that he is talking nonsense. But his persistence seems to prove that he never ceases to see some sense in the nonsense.” (4)

For classical Marxism, spontaneity had to be channeled by external forces in order to ameliorate its inherent limitations and become effective. Trotsky used the analogy of steam when he wrote, in the History of the Russian Revolution, that “without a guiding organization the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam not enclosed in a piston-box. Nevertheless, what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam.”5 Similarly, Lenin saw resistance as unconscious and argued that it would remain that way without the aid of already-constituted socialists. Both Trotsky and Lenin saw the need for outside ideas, organizers, and agitators, to intervene in spontaneous struggles and empower the working class.

This understanding of revolution, though, ignores the consciousness that already exists within the working class and the modes of organization inherent in its culture. Further, uprisings led by subjects not generally considered part of the officially sanctioned working class – women, the unemployed, students, and youth – are cynically deemed spontaneous.
For Rosa Luxemburg, spontaneity promised to prevent an authoritarian dictatorship over workers and to prevent a counter-revolution in the revolutionary party. Spontaneity was central to organization, even with its contradictions. Luxemburg, as Alex Levant explains:

“appears to have argued that the contradictions of capitalism lead to its demise, and that the unfolding of this process moves workers into action. This view would make the role of an organization created for that purpose rather irrelevant. On the other hand, she clearly believed in the need for such an organization to intervene in this process. Some commentators have resolved this apparent paradox by locating a disjuncture between her political economy and her activist writing. Others have argued that these two perspectives speak to distinct moments in her political development.” (6)

Antonio Gramsci argued that there is no “pure” spontaneity but rather actions and movements that lack elements of a conscious leadership. He pointed to uprisings that occurred amongst marginalized movements (or “subaltern classes,”) but never assumed that these movements were necessarily progressive or revolutionary; in fact, he argues, they were often reactionary. Levant argues that a closer reading of Gramsci and Walter Benjamin reveals another way of understanding spontaneity, so that it “begins to appear less like an automatic response to the unfolding of the contradictions of capitalism, and more like conscious self-activity on the one hand, and a return of repressed collective trauma in a moment of collective struggle, on the other.”(7)

Levant argues further that the assumption that consciousness is suddenly and collectively realized – as in Holloway’s collective scream – ignores the slow process of radicalization in many communities.  Demystifying sudden collective action, he points out that the process of class-consciousness does not happen by way of external forces – it comes through struggle. And in these diverse struggles one cannot think of spontaneity and organization as opposites, but rather as emergent dialectical processes – often informing and influencing each other.

Spontaneous eruptions have always developed from class struggle, however muted, and can push organizing forward by linking movements and communities together in the moment. But how can we sustain and direct these connections to create what Alan Sears has called “infrastructures of dissent”? (8)

Strategic Spontaneity

Spontaneity as a tactic captured the imagination of the Civil Rights movement in the US, allowing it to create a narrative around singular, impulsive acts by individuals or small groups that fostered broad-based support. Strategic spontaneity was a movement hallmark: actions that were rigorously organized by movement activists are thought of by many of as unplanned, even today.

One of the most important examples of this type of strategic spontaneity is Rosa Parks’ decision in December 1955 to resist segregation. By refusing to give her seat in the coloured section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white passenger, Parks disobeyed the bus driver and broke the law.
Here is a common – albeit historically inaccurate – version of this story taken from a 1991 elementary school textbook and references by Michael Schudson in his article, “Telling Stories about Rosa Parks”:

“When Rosa Parks rode on a bus, she had to sit all the way in the back. Her city had a law. It said black people could not sit in the front of a bus.
One day Rosa was tired. She sat in the front. The bus driver told her to move. She did not. He called the police. Rosa was put in jail.
Some citizens tried to help. One of them was Martin Luther King, Jr. The citizens decided to stop riding buses until the law was changed.
Their plan worked. The law was changed. Soon, many other unfair laws were changed. Rosa Parks led the way!” (9)

This is obviously a simplistic and inaccurate painting of the events account the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In fact, the action was highly planned: Parks was a long-time member of the National Associate for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently completed the Highlander Folk School’s activist training in Tennessee.10 The Highlander Folk School (now known as the Highlander Research and Education Center) in New Market, Tennessee was a social justice training centre that played an extremely important role in the Civil Rights movement, training many Civil Rights leaders, including Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Parks herself emphasized the spontaneity of her action and downplayed her own agency. Shortly after her arrest in 1956, in an interview on Pacifica Radio, she was asked by Sidney Rogers whether or not her act of defiance had been planned:

Parks: No, [it] hadn’t.
Rogers: It just happened.
Parks: Yes, it did.
Rogers: Well, had there been many times before in your life when you thought that maybe you were going to do just that kind of thing?
Parks: I hadn’t thought that I would be the person to do this. It hadn’t occurred to me.
Rogers: But don’t you suppose you and many others also thought one time or another you were going to do this thing, sooner or later?
Parks: Well, we didn’t know just what to expect. In our area we always tried to avoid trouble and be as careful as possible to stay out of trouble, along this line. I want to make very certain that it is understood that I had not taken a seat in the white section as has been reported in many cases. (11)

Mythologizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott as a spontaneous act disregards both the planning that led up to Parks’ action and her activist credentials more generally. But this was not simply revisionism designed to make her more palatable to a hostile nation – it was also, at least partially, a strategic decision by Civil Rights organizers in Alabama. As Schudson notes, in the context of constant accusations that the Civil Rights Movement was the work of “outside agitators” – Northerners, communists, and subversives – stirring up resentment within otherwise contented Black southerners; it was extremely important that the resistance be seen as indigenous. (12)

Throughout the early 1950s, the Highlander Folk School struggled with failed attempts at direct action. Parks was chosen for her role not only because of her experience in organizing, but also because of her image as a working class woman who nevertheless had more economic stature than other Black women – the idea was to reach out to white, working class Americans. Portraying Parks as a fed up working mother was a deliberate strategic attempt to garner support for the Montgomery Bus Boycott specifically and the Civil Rights movement more generally. That Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on the bus seemed impromptu was the whole point; it was a meticulously staged direct action that banked on dominant notions of courage, risk, and power to manufacture a perfectly spontaneous and catalyzing moment.

The tactic reemerged in 1960 when the SNCC staged a series of lunch-counter sit-ins. The particular case of the Greensboro sit-in, where four Black students refused to leave a whites-only counter until they were served, was a catalyst that prompted identical actions in cities across the US:

“The sit-ins began in February 1st in Greensboro, N.C., when four freshmen at Negro North Carolina A&T sat down at a variety store lunch counter after purchasing several items in other departments of the store. They were refused service. Their action was a spontaneous rebellion against the accumulated indignities suffered by Negro Americans since Reconstruction days. “Why must we be continually under tension and indignity when we want to eat, or find a lodging place, or use a rest room?” they asked. Their action has led others to ask the same questions – and to do something about it. Since February, the sit-ins have spread to almost 100 cities in every Southern state.” (13)

For SNCC, the sit-ins were autonomous, student-led actions meant to not only galvanize student activism against segregation, but also to create space for direct action outside of the traditional leadership of the Civil Rights movement. The sit-ins challenged the gradualist strategies of the traditional leadership, which SNCC disagreed with, by underlining the urgency of the issue.  However, spontaneity also meant, as Francesca Polleta describes, “no organizational tie-in of any kind, either local or national.” (14) These modes of organizing strengthened SNCC by creating spaces of direct action; the organization’s ability to institutionalize spontaneity strengthened the movement as a whole. Polletta describes how spontaneity became a strategic consideration for SNCC:

“Spontaneity, emblematic of students’ independence and their unique contribution to the movement, became organizational commitments with both animated and constrained strategic action. Students called for coordination, but resisted direction, wanted the movement to speak to the nation, but were wary of leaders, wanted to expand the scope of protest but distrusted adult advice.” (15)

For SNCC, spontaneity not only demonstrated youthful rage, but autonomy outside of a traditional leadership. Far from hindering the success of the Civil Rights movement, this autonomy contributed to its strength. The success of the lunch counter sit-ins proliferated into wider mainstream gains such as voter registration. The infamy of these actions demonstrates the power of spontaneity not only to energize and proliferate struggle, but to crystallize it in popular history.

Occupying the Moment

Since the 1960s, the spontaneous and autonomous energy of organizations like SNCC has moved and morphed through the student and anti-war movements, to the anti-globalization movement, to the Arab Spring, and was taken up eagerly by the 2011 Occupy movement.

The power of Occupy came in part from its rapid proliferation. There was almost universal surprise at the eruption of Occupy camps globally, growing out of a simple call to “Occupy Wall Street.” The idea of spontaneity was tied to the idea of Occupy as a movement where the diverse population of the 99 percent came together to discuss and debate the problems of contemporary capitalism and to contemplate and build a different world. Without a centralized message or set of demands, the various Occupy camps mobilized instead around the slogan “Occupy Everything. Demand Nothing.” The slogan itself demonstrates the power of autonomy: without centralized power or a top-down structure, people – regular people – can make their own decisions, be their own leaders, and provide for themselves and each other collectively and democratically.

Though Occupy was successful as a model of organizing insofar as it seized upon contemporary discontent and the zeitgeist of the moment, critics were quick to note the problems with the call to an imagined body of the 99 percent, and the way the newness of Occupy obscured histories of anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles. While Occupy claimed to have an open network of participation, there was often an absence of critical race and feminist analyses in its camps and assemblies. Indeed, the movement generally struggled to confront oppression, given that anti-oppressive and anti-racist policies were difficult to pass or maintain within the amorphous decision-making body of the General Assembly.

This points us to a fundamental contradiction in spontaneity: if a movement or an action is spontaneous, it is assumed to have no history and thus the pre-existing networks and communities that may have given rise to these struggles can easily be ignored. This takes for granted the long and labourious conversations about leadership and participation that have happened in previous incarnations of anti-capitalist struggles and mass movement organizing, not to mention the efforts to engage excluded communities. These issues was addressed in the DeOccupy Oakland formations and in debates around the term “occupy” itself that arose over the encampments’ various lifespans, and are reflected upon in the recently published anthology: We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation.

In their essay, “Occupy and the 99%,” Lester Spence and Mike McGuire take up the notion of open networks of participation. They note that “open source” movements like Occupy tend to be perceived as movements that require not much more than the deployment of a social network to support their progressive goal. They suggest that the resources and networks tapped to make a movement like Occupy happen are considered to arise naturally and thus the horizontal deployment of resources means equal distribution to all of members of the so-called 99 percent who already have relatively equal levels of resources. The reality, Spence and McGuire note, is much more complicated: these movements – up to and including Occupy – are created and sustained by networks that already exist and that are themselves connected to other pre-existing networks. They note that:
in part because of the decimation of the non-white Left through COINTELPRO, in part because of the reduced capital non-white groups have (as a result of white supremacy), the networks tend to be white and tend to be connected to other predominantly white networks. Even though the movement itself has open elements, the network that lends resources to the movement are often closed. (16)

While spontaneous organizing and actions may be inspiring for some, they are sometimes uncritical expressions of privilege – not only around race, but also in terms of access, ability, gender, and sexuality. The process of relationship building, sharing skills, increasing inclusion, and the role of leadership are often glossed over – if not ignored entirely. At best, this is because we hope that these processes will happen naturally; at worst, it’s because some of us fear of the transformation that a commitment to these processes might actually bring about.

It Feels Good, But Only For a Little While

It cannot be denied that in the moment of unplanned actions, traditional spontaneity feels good. It feels good to cut loose. It feels good to be free, even just for a moment. It feels good to arrive at a city park and camp out with a day’s notice, to join thousands of people banging pots and pans in solidarity with the Québec student strike, to rapidly assemble and occupy an intersection for a few hours. It feels good to see a cop car burn, to break through lines of marshals or police, to look at YouTube videos of riots. But all too often, we cling to these memories and images for inspiration as our own momentum slowly fizzles out.

Though spontaneity itself is inevitably fleeting, it cannot be understood outside of organization if we hope to use effectively. The ongoing success of movements relies both on the excitement of spontaneity and tedious labour of organization. The role of spontaneity allows organizations to adapt to different situations, to bend and twist according to the needs of the movement.

Our task is this: to use spontaneity sustainably, and foster the longevity and growth of revolutionary politics. A spontaneous upsurge – without any organizational infrastructure – is ephemeral. How can organizations provide a structure to spontaneity without dampening it or appearing on the scene too late?

Over the course of the Occupy movement, existing Left organizations struggled to engage in a meaningful way with the excitement and possibilities around them. While they showed up and provided money and resources, they were often unable to adopt the principles of Occupy into their own organizations. What has been more common, in the months following the encampments, has been an adoption by Left organizations of the language of Occupy (especially “the 99 percent”) without any discussion of how its organizing principles might impact the work of the organization.

Based on our experience in Occupy Toronto, it is difficult to conceive of other ways that Left organizations could have engaged without the fear of co-opting the movement. But this has to do with the predominant structure of these organizations – including bureaucratic trade unions, whose leadership was unwilling to potentially take direction from a more radical base within and outside of the union – and not, we argue, with an inherent inability among these organizations to respond to and grapple with spontaneity.
The task for revolutionary organizations is to both foster spontaneity amongst their members and respond to spontaneous uprisings in society more generally. If the inspiration of spontaneity was better channelled into organizations, that would not mean its end but rather more opportunities for beautiful mischief to confront capital in tangible and sustainable ways. And in non-revolutionary times such as ours, spontaneity can still be used strategically to build alliances, raise consciousness, and signal unrest.

How do we think about the relationship between spontaneity and organizing? How do we organize spontaneity so that it proliferates, and proliferate spontaneity in organization? Despite their predominance in historical left debates, these questions are largely absent at the current moment. Part of the relevance of these discussions historically had to do with the fact that they were seen to really matter. Whether Lenin or Luxemburg won the debate was seen to have an immediate impact on the structure of revolutionary organizations and the development of revolutionary tactics – and thus on the capacity to overthrow capitalism. The absence of these types of debates seems to indicate a feeling that we aren’t going to win or that it doesn’t really matter how we are organizing – what matters is getting people into the streets.

It’s My Party…

In the long 20th century, the party was the paradigmatic political form – the central structure for political action. To speak of a “revolutionary organization” was to speak of the party, often but not exclusively associated with Leninism. This was in contrast to the insurrectionary 19th century, marked as it was by the revolutions of 1848 and the Paris Commune.  For Lenin, the party was the revolutionary strategy that most aligned with the age of imperialism, and all revolutionary capacity resided in the party – it was the kernel of revolutionary process. In “Lenin and the Party, 1902,” Sylvain Lazarus noted that “the end of the 19th century saw the lapsing of the category of class as the sole bearer of politics, and the end of the 20th century saw the lapsing of the party form, which can take no other form than the state party.” (17)

Whether or not the party form has lapsed, it is certainly true that it is no longer the predominant way that radicals organize. Of course, there have always been non-Leninist forms of organizing alongside Leninist parties: anarchists and councilists in the early 20th century saw the party as a brake rather than a catalyst for social change; student radicals in 1968 France eschewed the politics of parties and the state; the anti-globalization movement – in some ways best exemplified by the Zapatistas in Mexico – saw communities as their own agents of change and demanded the state and parties of all kinds back away.

Lazarus argues that the problem today is not the lack of a party to lead us into revolution, nor even the lack of a revolution, but rather our need for a politics without party, something, he says “that does not prevent radicalism or prescribe resignation to the order of things, but imposes the hypothesis of other possibilities.” (18)

Doing away with traditional and simplistic understandings of spontaneity and organization that characterize spontaneity as explosive upsurges and organization as ossified and overly disciplined party structures can allow us to examine their relationship in practice more dialectically. Recent movements – Occupy, the Quebec student strike, and others – have experimented with new political forms that permit this dialectical relationship between organization and spontaneity and they have ushered new political subjects into struggle. Perhaps to get beyond the limitations that these recent movements have come up against, an investigation of previous forms of struggle is necessary – including the councils of council communism and the Italian factory council movement, the soviets of the first Russian revolution, and the steward committees of the radical British shop steward movement in the 1910s. These historical formations might tell us something about where we want to go today and how we should get there.

Contemporary experiments should also inform our practice. The assembly model proliferates globally – from Syntagma to Tahrir to Liberty Squares. More structured attempts at assembly politics include the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly, the Southern Workers’ Assembly, the Southern Movement Assembly, and the departmental, faculty-wide, and neighbourhood assemblies that directed, sustained, and breathed life into the months-long student strike in Québec last spring. Some of these projects and experiments will be failures – some already are. But they fail not because they repeat ad infinitum calcified models of political practice; rather they fail because they are experiments, because they attempt something new, and because they must stumble clumsily towards something truthful. We cannot let our failures hold us down; we must commit to ever increasing spontaneous proliferation of organizational experiments and when we fail we must learn to, as Samuel Beckett said, fail again and fail better.


1. See Mary Gabriel, Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011) and George Katsiaficas, The Imagination of the New Left: A Global Analysis of 1968 (Cambridge MA: South End Press, 1987).
2. John Holloway, Change the World Without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution Today (London: Pluto Press 2002), 1.
3. Andrew Chung, “Massive Public Support for Charest’s emergency law,” Toronto Star, May 19, 2012, http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1181095—massive-public-support-for-charest-s-emergency-law.
4. Paul Mattick, “Spontaneity and Organization.” Anti-Bolshevik Communism. (Britain: Merlin Press 1978).
5. Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, volume I, (London: Sphere Books 1967), 17.
6. Alex Levant, “Rethinking Spontaneity Beyond Classical Marxism: Re-reading Luxemburg through Benjamin, Gramsci, and Thompson,” Journal of Socialist Theory, 40.3 (2012), 370.
7. Levant, “Rethinking Spontaneity,” 383.
8. Alan Sears, “The Left and the end of Harper,” Rabble.ca,  July 1, 2011, http://rabble.ca/news/2011/07/left-and-end-harper.
9. Michael Schudson, “Telling Stories about Rosa Parks.” Contexts, 11.3 (Summer 2012), http://contexts.org/articles/summer-2012/telling-stories-about-rosa-parks/.
10. Schudson, “Stories.”
11. Schudson, “Stories.”
12. Schudson, “Stories.”
13. Francesca Polletta, ”It Was like a Fever …” Narrative and Identity in Social Protest,” Social Problems 45 (May 1998), 146.
14. Polletta. “It Was Like a Fever,” 149.
15. Polletta. “It Was Like a Fever,” 152.
16. Lester Spence and Mike McGuire, “Occupy and the 99%,” in We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation, ed. Kate Khatib et. al. (Oakland: AK Press, 2012), 59.
17. Silvain Lazarus, “Lenin and the Party, 1902 – November 191.” in Lenin Reloaded: Towards a Politics of Truth, ed. Sebastian Budgen, Stathis Kouvelakis, Slavoj Zizek. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 256
18. Lazarus, “Lenin and the Party,” 265

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Forgotten Women: The conversation of murdered and missing native women is not one North America wants to have

Infoshop News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 17:13

via The Independent

by Lucy Anna Gray

It is North America’s dark, open secret that native women are far more likely to be raped, and far more likely to be murdered.

No justice. That is the constant cry from friends and families of victims as countless cases are left unresolved and ignored.

Marita Growing Thunder, a 19-year-old murdered and missing indigenous women (MMIW) activist from Montana, has experienced this lack of justice – five times.

In the early 2000s, Marita’s aunt died. Although Yvonne’s death was officially recorded as an overdose, Marita claims her aunt had been beaten. “All her fingernails had been pulled out. She was unrecognisable when we put her in the coffin. Her body was black and blue and swollen.”

Marita also suggests there were four unrelated deaths in her family which police did not investigate. Her father’s aunt, Henry, her grandfather’s sister, Shirley K, and two female cousins that her mother grew up with.

Read more

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Forcing Marx Into the Automation Debate

Infoshop News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 05:16

via C4SS

by Eric Fleischmann

Automation, the reduction and/or removal of human participation in processes and procedures, has been a topic of economic discussion since the Industrial Revolution. The general dispute has been about whether or not automation will lead to mass unemployment. Acknowledging but passing over the primitivist perspective, in the 20th and 21st century, two camps have taken form, although the ideas behind each have existed for quite some time.

On the one side stand those who believe that technological advancement has never and therefore will never lead to the mass unemployment envisioned by techno-pessimists. Their ranks are often represented by professional economists as well as right-wing and centrist libertarians. As Murray N. Rothbard asks in Science, Technology, and Government:

Who was displaced by the steam shovel? How many millions of ditch diggers are now out of work because of it? Where are the billions of unemployed that are supposed to have been caused by the replacement of the human pack animal by the wagon and the truck? Where are they, if the doctrine of technological unemployment is correct?

There is certainly historical precedent that fears about technology-induced unemployment are unfounded. Reason magazine science correspondent Ronald Bailey points out numerous examples in his article “Are Robots Going to Steal Our Jobs?” These range from Queen Elizabeth’s refusal to grant a patent for the stocking frame knitting machine in 1589 for fear it would deprive subjects of work, to the 19th century luddites who smashed industrial weaving machines so they could keep their livelihoods. As Bailey points out, these panics were seemingly over nothing because overall employment is still going strong today.

The opposing group in this ongoing debate consists of those who believe that automation will indeed lead to mass unemployment. Interestingly enough some of the most vocal proponents of this view-point in the contemporary era are not luddites or industrial conservatives, but rather those very technologists and Silicon-Valley-types who are pushing technology forward at a rapid pace. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has proposed taxing companies that make use of robots in order to slow automation and put resources towards other occupations. The most well-known solution to the robot takeover of the work-force is the institution of a universal basic income. Zoltan Istvan—founder of the United States Transhumanist Party and presidential candidate—and Elon Musk—founder of SpaceX, Tesla, Neuralink, and PayPal—have both spoken in favor of UBI in the face of large-scale automation. The idea is that since a massive segment of the population will be rendered jobless, the government should provide a replacement for the income generally taken in by a household through work.

The perspective that both these camps seem to ignore has been around for about 200 years. It fundamentally influenced the modern world but has largely been left out of its mainstream discourse, except for the odd comment by the aforementioned Mr. Musk. That is the Marxist view. While avoiding certain tendencies towards historical determinism, there are key insights to be gained from Karl Marx’s historical materialism. In The Poverty of Philosophy, Marx observes that “social relations are closely bound up with productive forces” and “the same men who establish their social relations in conformity with the material productivity, produce also principles, ideas, and categories, in conformity with their social relations.” The central point being made is that societies are structured by their material conditions, by who possesses the means of production.

Furthermore, Marx states in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy that “the totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.” In the case of automation, the means of production are clearly the robots and from a Marxist-influenced position the problem created by these machines is not centrally one of employment but one of power. Even if it does not cause mass unemployment—but even more so if it does—automation will lead to the emergence of new and the exacerbation of old social divisions. Those who have greater access to these technologies will be able to further shape the world economically, politically, socially, and legally for those who do not. It can be expected that many will be barred from such ownership through intellectual property and other such state-capitalist measures. It will not matter if there is a universal basic income, because even with the purchasing power provided, people must spend money on physical commodities and within a society both defined by forces in the hands of an ever-smaller number of capitalists.

This is certainly not a new or particularly groundbreaking social criticism—for that one should look into Professor Adrian Smith and his ideas regarding post-automation—but it is important to try to push it into the modern dialogue. The mainstream left certainly is not going to as it seems to have forgotten about real material social change in favor of neoliberalism masquerading as social justice. Lastly, it feels necessary to mention Norbert Wiener—MIT professor, mathematician, and the father of cybernetics. In his book The Human Use of Human Beings he writes that the real danger of automation is “that such machines, though helpless by themselves, may be used by a human being or a block of human beings to increase their control over the rest of the human race.” Although Wiener was not a Marxist this is the sentiment that should be emulated when adding Marx to the automation debate.

The central problem is not whether it will cause mass unemployment or whether a universal basic income should be instituted—although these are important to consider. The potential threat posed by automation is that of power-relations and control. The question to be asked is “who will own the future?”

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How tech workers became activists, leading a resistance movement that is shaking up Silicon Valley

Infoshop News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 05:11

via Fast Company

by Sean Captain

When news broke in December 2016 that then president–elect Donald Trump would meet with some of the tech world’s most prominent CEOs—Apple’s Tim Cook, Alphabet’s Larry Page, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, among them—many tech workers were furious. In an industry that draws talent and ideas from around the world, Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign promises were abhorrent, and just meeting with him seemed like a tacit endorsement of these views.

His promises of mass deportations and a Muslim ban raised additional alarms for some: “If you’re going to target a sector of the population, it requires a database and collecting information on people,” says software engineer Ka-Ping Yee, who worked at the mobile money-transfer platform Wave during the election. “[Databases are] a necessary component of that particular evil.” And who was better poised to build them than the highly skilled engineers of Silicon Valley?

So Yee was heartened when his friend (and fellow Canadian) Leigh Honeywell, then a security manager at Slack, enlisted him to help draft a statement to both the incoming administration and tech leaders that Silicon Valley’s rank and file were not on board. “We were seeing what felt like a new energy in tech-employee organizing,” says Honeywell, who had volunteered for the Hillary Clinton campaign. The result was the Never Again pledge, signed by 2,843 engineers, designers, and other workers at companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. Referencing the role of IBM’s punch-card technology in Holocaust record-keeping, the signatories vowed not to participate in the creation of any targeted databases for the U.S. government. And they laid out a playbook for worker-led resistance: Raise issues with leadership, whistle-blow, protest, and—as a last resort—resign.

Employees are now deploying this strategy with increasing frequency at some of the country’s biggest tech companies. In June, Amazon workers sent an open letter to Bezos, demanding that he stop providing the company’s Rekognition face-identifying technology to law enforcement and other government agencies. They also called for Amazon Web Services to stop hosting companies, such as Palantir, that service Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That same month, more than 650 Salesforce employees signed a letter asking the company to cease providing recruiting software to Customs and Border Protection. At Microsoft, 500 people reportedly signed a petition to get the company to stop offering cloud services to ICE.

“[Never Again] was the beginning of a shift where people started to think about their responsibility to not build harmful tools,” says Tyler Breisacher, a software engineer who signed the pledge. This past spring, Breisacher resigned from Google, in part over the company’s involvement in Project Maven, a Pentagon program to use artificial intelligence on the battlefield. That protest grew to include more than 4,000 employees, who wrote an open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, declaring, “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war.” Two months later, in June, Google announced that it would not renew its military contract for 2019. Googlers were soon at it again, petitioning against—and resigning over—the creation of a censored search product for China, code-named Dragonfly.

Silicon Valley has deep roots in supporting the military-industrial complex. The internet began as a Defense Department research project, and was used for surveilling Vietnam War protesters. Generations of chipmakers quietly plowed their work into weapons systems. With the mainstreaming of technology, though, most of today’s engineers sign up to build consumer-facing services for individuals, even as their tech behemoth employers increasingly seek out military and law-enforcement contracts. As the political environment grows more contentious, these highly paid, highly trained employees are now leveraging their numbers to sway public opinion—and, in the case of Project Maven, kill a government contract potentially worth up to $250 million a year. With every protest, the gap between employee and employer grows.

Read more

Illustration: Sébastien Thibault

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(Still) Manufacturing Consent

Infoshop News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 03:28

via Jacobin

An interview with Matt Taibbi

When it came out in 1988, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s Manufacturing Consent rattled the accepted view in post-Vietnam, post-Watergate America that journalists’ relationship to power was essentially adversarial. Instead, they argued, the institutional structure of American media — its dependence on corporate advertising and sources in the upper ranks of government and business — created a role for the press as creators of propaganda. Without any direct press censorship, with full freedom of speech, the media narrowed the political debate to exclude anything that offended the interests of the market or the state.Thirty years after the publication of Manufacturing Consent, the journalist Matt Taibbi has made it his mission to provide an update of Chomsky and Herman’s critique for the twenty-first century. A columnist for Rolling Stone who has written at length about the 2008 financial crisis and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, Taibbi’s new book, The Fairway, is appearing in serial form on the newsletter site Substack.


You describe Manufacturing Consent as a book that “blew your mind” when you were a young journalist. What was so powerful about Chomsky and Herman’s critique of the media?


I never had any idea that there was any kind of propaganda built into the media business. My father was a journalist, and I was so in tune with the process of how reporting worked, having been around reporters from a young age.

I had never seen anyone tell a reporter to stay away from a particular topic. I had an idea that they were extremely free to explore any topic they found newsworthy. And when I was growing up in the seventies and eighties, this was a period where the media were relatively free compared to other periods in our history.

But when I read Manufacturing Consent, it occurred to me for the first time that the debate is artificially narrowed off camera. That the people you see in the op-ed represent two narrow poles of conventional wisdom. That we’ll report one story to death when it reflects badly on our ideological enemies abroad, but we’ll avoid the exact same story if it involves one of our client states.

All this opened up a new world for me. And when I started my career, I was reporting from Russia. All these factors are amplified when you’re reporting from abroad.


Everybody is criticizing the media today. We have a president who, as you write, won his campaign largely by attacking the press. Why do we need to revisit Manufacturing Consent in 2018?

MT: My point is that it’s not the same critique today. There’s a lot that’s been unexplored that a lot of the people in the business haven’t thought about.

What Chomsky and Herman were talking about thirty years ago was the use of commercial media to organize the whole population behind the foreign policy objectives of the United States. What’s going on right now is far more sophisticated, far more intrusive, far more implicated in the daily life of every person. The media has become significantly more commercialized since then, and has developed the technique of targeting information to specific demographics, constantly feeding people content an algorithm has determined they will agree with.

The result of that is we’re selling a lot of intramural conflict, the idea that some other group you don’t like is up to no good. In other words, other Americans suck.

People are really addicted to that kind of conflict, and that’s had a really nefarious effect not just on politics, but on reporting techniques. We’ve gravitated towards a reporting that reinforces the worldview of our audiences.

That’s not political journalism — that’s commercial journalism. And the algorithms of Google and Facebook make it an addictive form of information as well. A lot of reporters simply aren’t aware that this is what they’re creating.

Read more

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Nota sobre el actual escenario de la lucha de clases en Brasil

Anarkismo - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 23:11
El actual escenario político brasileño exige mucha lucidez y frialdad para el conjunto de los luchadores y de las luchadoras populares y su análisis de la realidad. Nosotros de la Coordinación Anarquista Brasileña, modestamente, buscamos dar nuestra contribución a la comprensión del convulsionado escenario político-social, cuyo principal corte se encuentra en el golpe jurídico-parlamentario que derribó a Rousseff del gobierno. Vivimos recientemente el llamado agotamiento del pacto de la Nueva República de 1988. Tal pacto mantenía la exclusión social de los de abajo, mientras garantizaba derechos jurídicos mínimos, en una coalición que involucró a políticos burgueses, al empresariado, a los militares y parte de los sectores reformistas la izquierda.

La construcción del Estado brasileño, sin embargo, siempre estuvo más cerca de los intereses de las potencias imperialistas de turno que de la mayoría de la población. El estado penal para los pobres siempre fue la norma de las instituciones de la democracia burguesa. Los gobiernos del PT, desde Lula, incrementaron la máquina criminal del orden público con todo un aparato legislativo-judicial que reprodujeron el super-encarcelamiento de los pobres y negros y la parafernalia represiva que ataca las luchas sociales. El pacto de conciliación de clases se rompió y el colaboracionismo rasgado dando lugar a la agenda agresiva del capitalismo financiero sobre los derechos sociales, las libertades parciales y los bienes públicos, que fueron conquistas históricas del movimiento popular.


Nota sobre o atual cenário da luta de classes no Brasil

Anarkismo - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 16:37
O atual cenário político brasileiro exige muita lucidez e frieza para o conjunto dos lutadores e das lutadoras populares e sua análise da realidade. Nós da Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira, modestamente, buscamos dar nossa contribuição a compreensão do convulsionado cenário político-social, cujo principal corte se encontra no golpe jurídico-parlamentar que derrubou Dilma Rousseff do governo. Vivemos recentemente o chamado esgotamento do pacto da Nova República de 1988. Tal pacto, mantinha a exclusão social dos/as de baixo, enquanto garantia direitos jurídicos mínimos, numa coalizão que envolveu políticos burgueses, o empresariado, os militares e parte dos setores reformistas da esquerda.

A construção do Estado brasileiro, no entanto, sempre esteve mais próxima dos interesses das potências imperialistas de turno do que da maioria da população. O estado penal para os pobres sempre foi a norma das instituições da democracia burguesa. Os governos do PT, desde Lula, incrementaram a máquina criminal da ordem pública com todo um aparato legislativo-judicial que reproduziram o super-encarceramento dos pobres e negros e a parafernália repressiva que ataca as lutas sociais. O pacto de conciliação de classes foi rompido e o colaboracionismo rasgado para dar lugar à agenda agressiva do capitalismo financeiro sobre os direitos sociais, as liberdades parciais e os bens públicos, que foram conquistas históricas do movimento popular.


Anarkismo - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:31
The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group have joined PUSH! Organising and Educating to Build an Anti-Fascist United Front. As its name implies, PUSH! aims to build a united front of working class organisations against Fascism. Our forces are modest, composed of a handful of groups and individual activists who have left CARF, but we are clear about our basic direction. ... The MACG will pursue our vision for an anti-Fascist united front within PUSH! We know that many groups in the labour movement don’t share our strategy, so they will have to be either won over or sidelined. And we know that the union bureaucracy is craven and conservative, but we place our faith in the rank and file workers who are Fascism’s targets. The struggle against Fascism is inseparable from the struggle against the union bureaucracy – but didn’t we know that already?

[Colombia] XIV Seminario Militante

Anarkismo - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 13:59
Anarquismo y movimientos sociales de 1968
XIV Seminario Militante
Anarquismo y movimientos sociales de 1968

Introducción y perspectivas globales. 18 de octubre
América Latina. 25 de octubre.
Colombia. 1 de noviembre
Nuevos movimientos sociales. 8 de noviembre

Link del video invitacional: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2kag3E7-oI
Link del evento en facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/431084437422318/

Jueves 6:00 pm.
Centro Cultural Conuco (Calle 33ª #19-46)
[Una cuadra al sur de la Calle 34, media cuadra debajo de la carrera 19]
Teusaquillo, Bogotá

Grupo Libertario Vía Libre

Η αντίσταση κατά του Φράνκο

Anarkismo - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 10:12
Το κουδούνισμα του Thompson
1939-1952: Η ένοπλη αντίσταση κατά του καθεστώτος Φράνκο
Μια ματιά στον παράνομο, υπόγειο, αντάρτικο και ένοπλο αγώνα των Ισπανών αναρχικών και των αντιφασιστών ενάντια στο καθεστώς του στρατηγού Φράνκο, μετά την ήττα στον Ισπανικό Εμφύλιο Πόλεμο και την Επανάσταση του 1936-1939

Writing your senator? They crumple up your message and toss it in the garbage

Infoshop News - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 22:39

via Central Oklahoma Black/Red Alliance (COBRA)

by Mitch

Except in very rare and specific circumstances, the only thing writing your senator is
going to do is give one of their entry-level aides a slight arm workout while they crumple
up your message and toss it in the garbage; if you are very, very lucky, the letter might
be passed on to a more senior aide so they can crumple it up and toss it in the garbage
with more authority behind the toss.

There’s this depressingly common belief that the big problem in American politics is one of communication, that the reason people in power make bad decisions is because they don’t understand that they’re bad, that the reason they never seem to give a shit about the people’s will is because they just don’t know what it is. Positive political change is believed to come through convincing enough people in positions of power to personally believe that certain courses of action are correct or incorrect, and the primary function of social movements is seen as communicating with power in an attempt to make them listen to the movement’s argument and hopefully sway their opinions through the power of logic and reason or a strong emotional appeal or what the fuck ever. It’s the idealized theme-park version of American politics, where Martin Luther King Jr. saved America by politely but firmly telling everyone that racism is bad.

The problem with this is that it’s completely wrong and badly misrepresents American
history. Hardly anybody has ever won any concessions from power by politely asking the
people in charge to do better. Politics is not a polite debate in an idealized free market
of ideas where everyone presents their arguments and the most correct argument ultimately
wins out. It is not about influencing opinions on an individual level or convincing ‘our
leaders’ of the rightness of a cause. It’s about power, dammit, it’s all about power,
power is all that matters. The people who have power make the rules, the people who don’t
have it get to suck it up and deal, and the only thing that can challenge or counter power
is power.

For the sake of this discussion let’s define power as ‘the ability to compel someone by
force to do something they would not otherwise voluntarily do’, which is maybe not the
best definition, but whatever, sue me, this is a Facebook post, not a peer-reviewed
journal. This doesn’t need to be literal violence and usually isn’t – your landlord
doesn’t literally hold a gun to your head every time the rent comes due, for example – but
the principle is the same regardless. It is the ability to make a demand, present
consequences for failing to accede to that demand, and follow through on those
consequences if the demand is not met.

If you want to convince the people in charge in the US to make a certain decision or take
a certain action, the first thing you need to do, the very first fucking thing, once
you’ve decided what you want them to do, is determine exactly what the consequences to
them will be if they don’t. If the answer to that question is ‘absolutely nothing’, you’re
wasting your time and effort, and you need to focus on broadening your support base and
building strength. It can be whatever – maybe you’re going to inconvenience them, annoy
them, frustrate them, aggravate them, fundraise for their political opponents, vote them
out, primary them out, generate negative publicity for them, impact their fundraising and
revenue stream, or prevent them from conducting business and carrying out their duties.
Maybe you’re going to support and campaign for legislation and candidates they’re opposed
to – or withdraw expected support for legislation and candidates they favor. Maybe you’re
going to egg their house or shit on their petunias, I dunno, you do you. The point is,
there has to be /something/. There has to be a reason for them to do it that isn’t ‘it’s
the correct decision’ or ‘it’s the right thing to do’ or ‘your constituents want it’.
Carrot-and-stick only works if you have a stick to periodically hit your legislator over
the head with.

Fuck decorum, civility, politeness, the ‘high road’, and whatever shreds of respect for
the American political process you’ve somehow managed to hold on to – the politicians
elected to govern you care nothing for any of those things almost as a rule, and will
freely adopt or discard them at will depending on what is most advantageous at any given
moment. By forcing yourself to abide by a set of rules your opponents do not, you are
allowing them to dictate the terms of the engagement, and starting any fight at a
disadvantage. Be polite and civil, absolutely, when it is beneficial to do so. Be rude,
hostile, and confrontational, when it is beneficial to do so. Disrupt their dinners and
their social functions. Follow them home and demonstrate outside the gates. Make your
attacks deeply personal if necessary. Appall them with your temerity.

The point here, the end goal, is to close off every available option except ‘do what we
demand’, or make the other options so unpalatable that only the most spiteful diehards
will choose them. When only one viable choice is presented, the personal beliefs or
opinions of the leadership become irrelevant. If they want to keep their jobs, they’ll
cave. Do you honestly think every person who voted to pass the Civil Rights Act was a
committed anti-racist, or that every person who voted the 8-hour day into law gave a shit
about poor people, or that every person who ratified the 13th Amendment really thought
black people were human? No, they did it because they felt like they had to, because they
had been left no other option.

If you’re concerned about being ‘divisive’, don’t be, the country was divided already, and
the people complaining about ‘division’ are just sad that they can’t ignore it anymore.

“If a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me,
that’s my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power.” –
Kwame Ture”


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A face horrenda da nova extrema direita: degenerados, blasfemadores e mentirosos contumazes

Anarkismo - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 21:46
O Brasil adentra a campanha de segundo turno com uma evidente ameaça protofascista através do candidato favorito, o deputado federal Jair Bolsonaro (PSL-RJ).
O Brasil adentra a campanha de segundo turno com uma evidente ameaça protofascista através do candidato favorito, o deputado federal Jair Bolsonaro (PSL-RJ). Quando afirmamos o protofascismo, é porque esse quase fascismo se dá no aumento do volume de ataques, agressões e ameaças. Só nos primeiro cinco dias após a vitória do capitão reformado (com sofrível ficha corrida no Exército Brasileiro), foram mais de setenta atos de violência registrados, incluindo o assassinato de Mestre Moa do Katendê, capoeirista angoleiro morto com doze facadas pelas costas. Se isso não serve de alerta e exemplo é porque, realmente, como sociedade, nós estamos anestesiados diante da cruzada “contra a corrupção”, ignorando que pode estar em jogo o conjunto de direitos conquistados na Constituição de 1988.

Ο ρόλος εθνικισμού-πατριωτισμού

Anarkismo - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 10:15
Αν θέλουμε να χτυπήσουμε το δέντρο του αναπτυσσόμενου σύγχρονου φασισμού στις ρίζες του και όχι να μονομαχούμε αέναα με τα κλαδιά του, τότε οφείλουμε να συγκεντρώσουμε τις δυνάμεις μας στην αποδόμηση του εθνικισμού-πατριωτισμού. Με συντονισμένες προπαγανδιστικές κινήσεις, δράσεις και συλλογικές πρωτοβουλίες. Συγκροτώντας έναν αντιεθνικιστικό - αντιπατριωτικό πολιτικό πόλο, με ταξικά, αντιρατσιστικά και αντιπατριαρχικά προτάγματα. Διαμορφώνοντας δηλαδή έναν ελευθεριακό πολιτικό πόλο, που συγχρονίζοντας τις δράσεις και παρεμβάσεις του, θα καταφέρει να συμβάλλει προωθητικά και έγκαιρα, στο χτίσιμο κοινωνικών αναχωμάτων απέναντι στον επελαύνοντα σύγχρονο φασισμό.

What’s Not in the Latest Terrifying IPCC Report? The “Much, Much, Much More Terrifying” New Research on Climate Tipping Points

Infoshop News - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 04:52

via Common Dreams

by Jon Queally

If the latest warnings contained in Monday’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—which included pronouncements that the world has less than twelve years to drastically alter course to avoid the worst impacts of human-caused global warming and that nothing less than keeping all fossil fuels in the ground is the solution to avoid future calamities—have you at all frightened or despondent, experts responding to the report have a potentially unwelcome message for your already over-burdened heart and mind: It’s very likely even worse than you’re being told.

“The IPCC understates a key risk: that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system.”
—Mario Molina, Nobel Laureate

After the report’s publication there were headlines like: “We have 12 years to act on climate change before the world as we know it is lost. How much more urgent can it get?” and “Science pronounces its verdict: World to be doomed at 2°C, less dangerous at 1.5°C” and “A major new climate report slams the door on wishful thinking.”

But as Jamie Henn, co-founder and the program director for the international climate group 350.org, stated in a tweet on Tuesday, the “scariest thing about the IPCC Report” is the fact that “it’s the watered down, consensus version. The latest science is much, much, much more terrifying.”

Henn was actually responding to Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann who was pushing back against those criticizing the IPCC report as too “alarmist” in its declarations and warnings. “If anything,” Professor Mann declared, “it is the opposite. Once again, with their latest report, they have been overly conservative (ie. erring on the side of understating/underestimating the problem.)”

This is the scariest thing about the IPCC Report — it’s the watered down, consensus version. The latest science is much, much, much more terrifying. https://t.co/wzOXGfH0oM

— Jamie Henn (@Agent350) October 9, 2018

This is very possibly true and there is much scientific data and argument backing this up. As Henn and Mann both indicate, the IPCC report is based on the consensus view of the hundreds of scientists who make up the IPCC – and its been consistently true that some of the most recent (and increasingly worrying) scientific findings have not yet found enough support to make it into these major reports which rely on near-unanimous agreement.

According to Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, speaking to The Guardian in the wake of the latest IPCC report,  it “fails to focus on the weakest link in the climate chain: the self-reinforcing feedbacks which, if allowed to continue, will accelerate warming and risk cascading climate tipping points and runaway warming.”

“This is not the time to turn away, whether in fear or in active denial of the facts. This is a time to use our fear as fuel.”
—Rajiv Sicora, The LeapIn August, as Common Dreams reported, research published by Johan Rockström and his colleagues at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden found that it is precisely these feedback loops and tipping points that should most frighten and concern humanity. While nascent and not conclusive in its findings—two of the reasons you won’t find it referenced in the IPCC report—the study warned that humanity may be just 1°C away from creating a series of dynamic feedback loops that could push the world into a climate scenario not seen since the dawn of the Helocene Period, nearly 12,000 years ago.

Quoted in Tuesday’s Guardian article about the dangers of ignoring potential tipping points, Nobel prize laureate Mario Molina, who shared the award for chemistry in 1995 for his work on ozone depletion, said: “The IPCC report demonstrates that it is still possible to keep the climate relatively safe, provided we muster an unprecedented level of cooperation, extraordinary speed and heroic scale of action. But even with its description of the increasing impacts that lie ahead, the IPCC understates a key risk: that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system, and the other sources of climate pollution.”

The purpose of recognizing the terrifying predictions is not to instill fear, however, climate campaigners and advocates for bold solutions say.

“This is a climate emergency” | New #IPCC report shows that the world must move away from #DirtyEnergy NOW to prevent temperature rises exceeding 1.5°C and fend off #ClimateCrisis | https://t.co/nsNnQ1OlEx pic.twitter.com/HCcJ4eLBbD

— Friends of the Earth (@FoEint) October 9, 2018

In a paper authored last year—titled Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement—Margaret Klein Salamon writes that while a World War II-style mobilization is necessary to achieve the kind emission cuts and energy transformation that science now mandates, understanding the stakes does not necessarily mean being debilitated by that knowledge. In an op-ed for Common Dreams, she argued “that intense, but not paralyzing, fear combined with maximum hope can actually lead people and groups into a state of peak performance. We can rise to the challenge of our time and dedicate ourselves to become heroic messengers and change-makers.”

And as Rajiv Sicora, senior manager of research for The Leap, wrote to his group’s supporters in an email on Tuesday: “This is not the time to turn away, whether in fear or in active denial of the facts. This is a time to use our fear as fuel: because the report also makes clear that the worst effects of global warming can still be prevented, and the urgency of transformative change should excite and empower all of us who are fighting for justice anyway.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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Fossil Fuels Are a Threat to Civilization, New U.N. Report Concludes

Infoshop News - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 04:43

via The Intercept

By Kate Aronoff

Around the middle of the last century, the chemical DDT was found to pose a risk to human and animal health. The ultimate response — after a prolonged fight between environmentalists and the chemical industry — was a federal ban on all uses of the substance found to be unsafe.

On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a daunting report, suggesting that we are currently on track for around 3 degrees Celsius of warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC authors promise that we will see coastal cities swallowed by the sea, global food shortages, and $54 trillion in climate-associated costs as soon as 2040.

That fast-approaching catastrophe is the motivation for the demands of Global South residents and their allies, for whom rising tides and superstorms are already a reality. They’ve long chanted “1.5 to survive” through the fluorescent-lit halls of U.N. climate talks, and this new report — which outlines pathways to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius — is a testament to that work. The figure is in line with the “well below 2 degrees” target outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement and, according to the co-chair of one of the IPCC working groups that crafted the report, Jim Skea, hitting that target “is possible within the laws of physics and chemistry.”

A social reaction on par to the approach to DDT, in other words, could yet salvage human civilization. It’ll be enormously difficult — far more so than getting a single chemical banned. And we’d eventually have to do it everywhere. Capitalism, moreover, wasn’t built around DDT the way it was around fossil fuels. “Limiting warming to 1.5 is not impossible,” IPCC chair Hoesung Lee said in a press conference last night, “but will require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society.”

It’s not as if moving to phase out fossil fuels more directly would be unprecedented. Costa Rica is taking on the “titanic and beautiful task of abolishing the use of fossil fuels in our economy,” according to the country’s 38-year-old prime minister, Carlos Alvarado. In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government has banned new oil exploration on the road to a zero-carbon economy.

Read more

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Climate transition must be ‘rapid and far-reaching’

Infoshop News - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 04:38

via The Ecologist

by Catherine Early

Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities, according to climate scientists in landmark research published today.

Human activities have already caused approximately 1°C of global warming, and this is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues at the current rate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists said.

To keep within the 1.5°C limit, global net human-caused emissions of CO2 would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050, meaning that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air, using technologies such as reforestation, carbon capture and storage, and sequestering carbon in the soil.

However, the effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes.

The IPCC was asked to investigate the implications of limiting warming to 1.5°C at the UN climate negotiations in Paris in 2015. The findings of the report will feed into the next round of talks in Poland in December.

An “unconscionable betrayal” of the planet

The scientists found that the impact of 1.5°C warming was far less damaging than 2°C. For instance, coral reefs would decline by 70-90% with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with being virtually wiped out with a 2°C rise.

Read more

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What Will the State Look Like in an Era of Ecological Disaster?

Infoshop News - Tue, 10/09/2018 - 16:44

via The Nation

by Alyssa Battistoni

Climate change has been a political issue in America for almost my entire life—James Hansen first testified to the reality of global warming before the Senate in 1988—but the prospects for the planet keep getting worse. At first, climate change was discussed as a distant problem, something to fix for future generations. Then it was discussed as geographically remote, something that was happening in some other part of the world. Now it’s recognized as something that’s happening today to people living in the United States—and yet what are we doing about it? Usually, it seems, very little. Kim Stanley Robinson has dubbed this period of doing-nothing-much the Dithering; Amitav Ghosh suggests calling it the Great Derangement. Something has gone terribly wrong: A problem that is widely recognized as threatening millions of lives, perhaps even the future of human life on Earth, has not been addressed seriously and doesn’t seem likely to be.1

For a while, democracy was deemed to be the culprit: Democratic politics, some argued, simply isn’t suited to addressing problems that lie in the future or extend beyond national boundaries. Climate change is just too complicated for most people to understand; better to leave it to the experts. It’s too hard a subject to broach during a political campaign; no one really wants to think about something so depressing, and what politician in his or her right mind would call for lowering living standards in order to decrease carbon emissions?2

Now that capitalism is again on the table as a political issue, it also gets its share of blame. The political problem, it’s now said, isn’t democracy alone, but rather that democracy is held hostage by oil money and the politicians purchased by it. Even some capitalists are starting to acknowledge that the system could use some tweaks. (Others, like Elon Musk, are planning to decamp to Mars: the Great Derangement indeed.) Swapping corporations for democracy as the root of the problem is a welcome development. Yet serious political thinking about climate change remains in short supply. Most people are now worried about it, but few are putting climate change at the heart of their political thought and practice.3

In this context, Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright’s new work of political theory, Climate Leviathan, is a welcome addition to the small but growing body of climate writing on the left. It’s a book explicitly aimed at understanding the political dimensions of climate change instead of relegating them to a paragraph or two in the concluding section. It also takes a different tack than most works on climate politics. The authors are not interested in why we aren’t acting to curb carbon emissions; instead, they’re interested in the kinds of political scenarios that are likely to emerge in response to the approaching ecological crises.4

Climate change will be so central to human life and global politics in the coming years, Mann and Wainwright argue, that the response to it will shape the entire future world order, not merely the statements that issue out of the United Nations at the end of every year. If the left is to play a part in shaping this new world, they continue, it needs to think seriously about the “political tools, strategies, and tactics” at its disposal. Climate change, though a novel and previously unimaginable problem, does not actually require a radical departure from traditional left struggles for freedom, equality, and justice; it simply poses new versions of familiar dilemmas. Our political thought doesn’t need to address climate change directly to offer insights into the role that the left can play in responding to it, but we will need to develop old ideas in new directions if we are to navigate a world that is now changing radically.5

Toward this end, Climate Leviathan engages a wide range of political thought, from Gramsci to Hegel, Kant to Naomi Klein. But as the title suggests, at the heart of the book is Thomas Hobbes, whose Leviathan remains the fundamental work on the sovereign power that underpins modern states. Hobbes looked at a nation torn asunder by the English Civil War and reckoned that it was better to relinquish one’s freedom to the authority of an all-powerful sovereign than to live through such nastiness and brutality. Such a sovereign power did not yet exist in Hobbes’s time, but in describing it, Hobbes sought to understand a political form that he thought might soon come into being.6

Mann and Wainwright argue that we are in another such moment, a time when political forms are in flux and one can begin to see the shape of the growing leviathan. They therefore follow Hobbes into a speculative mode, describing the forms of power they think are likely to emerge in the future while recognizing that none have done so yet.7

Read more

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