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Support Infoshop News

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 02:47

Infoshop News is one of the oldest online news websites. Our news service started this week back in December 1995. We’ve highlighted and featured thousands of articles from the independent press and published quite a bit of our own original content. We’ve covered movements like anti-globalization and Occupy and many more. We’ve brought our hundreds of thousands of readers some of the best Left opinion and analysis.

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After Facebook

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 13:22

If you are like many people these days, you are here because you are looking for alternatives to the large social media companies. We get asked all the time for our suggestions of alternative services that people can’t switch to, or, at least help minimize the time spent on Big Social Media. We get that you want to stay in touch with friends and family, but you can reduce the time your eyeballs are parked on Facebook and their ilk.

General Practices

  • There is a wealth of online content that you can enjoy just by bookmarking and consciously visiting websites more often.
  • Public libraries have tons of books, magazines, newspapers, videos, audio, and other materials and services available. Apps like Kanopy, Hoopla and Libby give you access to free movies.
Alternative Social Media
  • Mastodon – Probably the most viable alternative to Facebook that has similar features like status updates and media sharing. Does require that you know somebody who has set up an “instance” which is like a small network of friends, family or like-minded people. Try out activism.openworlds.info
  • Diaspora
Secure Chat Search News Feed

One of the most popular things about Facebook is the access it gives you to news and opinion from sources you like. But you can replicate and replace this feature, often with better services.

Alternatives to Twitch

Twitch is owned by Amazon.

Podcasts Free and Open Journals Open Web Further Reading

The post After Facebook appeared first on Infoshop News.

Macron Must Go: Yellow-Vest Lessons for Student Organizers Across Turtle Island

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 05:36

via Love and Rage Media

by Christopher Hanna

Now more than ever, universities are in a state of crisis.

American students are facing down gruesome levels of debt profiteering and escalating right-wing attacks against public higher ed — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

As the nationwide turn towards fascism advances, campus climates have worsened accordingly. The feds have deported DACA-protected Americans, rolled back standards for sexual violence on campuses, and equipped racist college police departments with military weaponry. Campus-contracted pigs pepper-spray peaceful demonstrators at point-blank range and harass student organizers, turning campuses into active sites of class warfare. A system of higher-ed that was designed to deserve the elite in the first place has laid bare it sharpest fangs.

While student movements in the U.S. have and will continue to organize against the neoliberal status-quo, their efforts remain a shell of the student revolts seen in France. Evoking the spirit of 1968, university activism there has re-embraced its militant roots in the wake of strongman Emmanuel Macron’s rise to power. Students have resisted the Macronian austerity agenda by blockading entire campuses, battling university-contracted fascist militias, and even initiating disruptive nationwide strikes alongside left-wing trade-unions. As the low cost and open-access principles of French higher education dissolve, so does complacency among the working-class students caught in the cross-hairs.

In a serious blow to Macron’s flailing bid to tame the crisis, France’s future — its youth — blockaded up to 300 middle and high schools in a week-long stand-off with riot police. In addition to airing their concerns over Macron’s unpopular changes to Baccalaureate exams, these young militants publicly echoed the tax, wage, and labor-related concerns fueling the larger public’s growing resentment of the Macronian project.

The birth of France’s Yellow Vest struggle has given further lifeblood to militant university activism against state repression. When the self-styled emperor Macron acceded to Yellow Vest tax demands in an attempt to curb wide-scale rioting, he effectively confirmed that large-scale direct action is an effective means of putting the brakes on his maniacal drive to starve and kill off the working class.

Emboldened by this historic capitulation, the Yellow Vests have embraced a revolutionary agenda that rejects the regime’s rotten olive branches. Beginning on December 7th, Parisian students flooded the streets to support what was dubbed the Yellow Vest Movement’s “Act IV” — a new phase of mass mobilization that demands the collapse of both the French state and the entire capitalist oligarchy that underpins it.

The Yellow Vest struggle and its powerful student vanguard have reintroduced both quiet whispers and public howlings of revolution to French public discourse, reifying the souls of the Paris Commune martyrs who were murdered by imperialist foot-soldiers as they fought to save their anti-capitalist social order. 147 years after the Paris Commune massacre and 60 years after the establishment of France’s fifth post-royalist governance system, some Yellow Vests have pledged to remain in the streets until a Sixth Republic is born — one that is truly free from the all-encompassing terror of the neoliberal state.

This renewed revolutionary momentum has had reverbations far beyond France’s borders, giving hope to people around the world in their myriad fights to free themselves from the coercion of work and the oppression of the state. As prominent liberal democracies fall to fascists like dominoes, the illusion of progress is turning to dust. Many no longer hope for their shackles to be loosened through slow-paced reform, aspiring instead for a true “unshackling” that involves the punishment and elimination of their class enemies. Such folks have watched the Yellow Vest struggle with awe as it’s boldly fought to materialize these aspirations in the heart of neoliberal Europe.

If enraged students from Berkeley to Brigham Young were to adopt their French peers’ sense of urgency and strategically adapt Yellow Vest tactics to their national context, the U.S. could gain a revolutionary faction that’s well-prepared to take on the horrors of disaster-capitalism. To achieve this end, American student organizers would have to fully commit to the pursuit of total liberation from domination — admitting that the only place for reformist tactics is in the trashbin of history.

But so long as the cultish reformism that defines most campus organizing spaces persists, the results could be fatal. No “Blue Wave” or protracted negotiations with unaccountable centers of university power such as “Boards of Trustees” will halt the slow march towards totalized fascism. Many self-aware students know this full-well, but nonetheless forge ahead with reformist demands on the flawed premise that there’s no viable alternative for achieving progress.

If you’re an American student seeking release from the suffocating dead-endedness of reformist campus organizing, find inspiration in the strategic tenacity of your French counterparts. The more you join rank-and-file workers in the streets to fight fascism à la the Yellow Vests, the clearer the prospect of a decolonized, post-capitalist Turtle Island will become.

By accepting this historic responsibility, American students could give new life to meaningful struggle in the global center of capital that they’re raised to call “home.” If they do indeed follow this route, France may not be the only country for which a new social order is on the horizon.

-Written in Ithaca, New York (Unceded Haudenosaunee Homelands) 

On December 12th, student labor organizers based out of Ithaca, NY released a Yellow Vests solidarity letter that was published online and sent out to student anti-austerity collectives in France. Find the French and English-language copies of the letter below:

To the French students on the frontlines of the Yellow Vest movement,

Students in America are watching. The world is watching. We support your efforts to challenge Macron’s austerity politics, and join in you demanding that his government must fall. Your courage and strength in standing up to the elites is admirable.

Further, we applaud you for your larger anti-capitalist struggles and proudly consider you comrades in the fight for a better world. From Paris to Pittsburgh to Palestine, fascism shall not pass.

In love and solidarity,

People’s Organizing Collective: United Students Against Sweatshops Local #3

Aux étudiants français à la point du Mouvement des Gilets jaunes,

Les étudiants américains regardent. Le monde regarde. Nous soutenons vos efforts pour contester la politique d’austérité de Macron et nous nous associerons avec vous pour exiger que son gouvernement s’effondre. Votre courage et votre force à tenir tête aux riches et puissants est admirables.

En plus, nous vous applaudissons pour vos plus grandes luttes anticapitalistes et considérons vos camarades dans notre lutte pour un monde meilleur. De Paris à Pittsburgh en Palestine, le fascisme ne passera pas.

Avec l’amour et la solidarité,

People’s Organizing Collective: United Students Against Sweatshops Local #3


The post Macron Must Go: Yellow-Vest Lessons for Student Organizers Across Turtle Island appeared first on Infoshop News.

I’ll Always Remember the 6th of December

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 05:07

via CrimethInc

A Report from Athens, Greece on the Ten-Year Anniversary of the Murder of Alexis

On December 6, 2008, in Athens, Greece, police murdered 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in the neighborhood of Exarchia. In response, anarchists, young people, and other rebels from targeted populations rose in revolt, organizing countrywide riots and occupations that lasted for weeks. Arguably, this was the first of the waves of rebellion that culminated with the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. This year, as they have for a decade, people observed the murder of Alexandros and the insurrection of 2008 with a day of demonstrations and direct action. This is a report from December 6, 2018 in Athens, including some of the solidarity actions that preceded it.

An Outside Perspective

I remember the 6th of December 2008. I remember some friends of mine quit their jobs and flew to Greece to participate in what we thought of as the first anarchist insurrection in our lifetimes. I remember the beautiful images of revolt in the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki, spreading across Greece and inspiring acts of solidarity around the world.

Here, in Athens, many locals are all too familiar with the phenomenon of foreigners coming here to riot. Such visitors are called anarcho-tourists; many of them come for the bahala [the riots] in the same way that other tourists come here for their summer vacations. It takes a great deal of time for an anarcho-tourist to warrant respect and trust among the locals.

While I admit to my status as an anarcho-tourist, I have built close relationships and shared unforgettable experiences in this country. I feel obliged to share some thoughts and to help paint a picture of this year’s much-hyped ten-year anniversary of the 2008 insurrection.

For years, when I saw photographs of demonstrators clashing with police in Greece or Chile, it was easy to feel that my own efforts at resistance were insignificant. After spending time outside the United States, however, I have lost my illusions and gained some useful perspective. The tolerance that the Greek state is compelled to exercise towards such activities is the result of a long history of resistance. As things stand today, it is impossible to imagine such conditions existing in North America.

The history that gave the neighborhood of Exarchia its character has been bloody indeed. That goes double for the university asylum laws of Greece and Chile. Pinochet in Chile and the junta in Greece slaughtered anarchists, leftists, and radical students in considerable numbers. We have to understand how those tragedies contributed to the conditions in which political movements have been able to establish annual days of action such as December 6 in Greece or March 29, the Day of the Young Combatant in Chile.

Things are different in the United States. Greece experiences brutal police violence and repression, but the repressive apparatus of the United States is far more invasive, pervasive, and complex. The sentences are not the same. The surveillance before and after actions is not the same. Above all, the society itself is completely different. People have an entirely different relationship to the state and to conflict with it.

When we set out to learn from other struggles and draw inspiration from them, we have to bear the differences in mind. We should prioritize a revolutionary introspection that takes safety and risk into account. Courage and passion are indispensable, but if we don’t account for context, we might sell our own struggles short.

A banner on December 6, 2018 reading “Money in the banks, bullets in the youth—Against the disintegration of our future prospects, against the state / fascist murders—As the people and youth, we’re not terrified, we’ll smash them (i.e., the fascists and state murderers)—Our time has come.” Ten Years of Crisis

The Greek financial crisis began in 2008. It’s probably what Greece is best known for these days besides its islands. Alexis’s generation has suffered severe austerity measures and poverty. Unemployment is rampant, especially among young people. For a part time job in Greece, you might make 390 euros a month. The standard for decent survival is 600 euros a month. Beyond merely economic factors, many anarchists remain imprisoned who were radicalized from the events in 2008.

Read more

The post I’ll Always Remember the 6th of December appeared first on Infoshop News.

Mike Davis on the Crimes of Socialism and Capitalism

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 04:39

via Jacobin

interview by Meagan Day

This summer’s electoral wave gave the US socialist left a much larger audience than we’re used to. Not only did we gain an extraordinarily wide hearing for our political ideas, but we also spooked our ideological opponents, and as a result got a good look at their rhetorical arsenal.

Many of their arguments are familiar. For decades, one of the most popular methods of undermining socialists has been an appeal to the atrocities that occurred in Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China. Horrifying episodes like the Great Chinese Famine and the Soviet famine under Stalin are brandished as proof that socialism can never work and is too dangerous to attempt, so we’re better off with capitalism.

Mike Davis’s book Late Victorian Holocausts complicates that story significantly. Capitalism has an enormous death toll of its own. If famines are the yardstick we’re using to measure the suitability of a global economic system, then capitalists have a lot to answer for.

Jacobin’s Meagan Day talked with Davis about how the historical crimes of capitalism differ from those of socialism, and how to talk about the differences between them in an era of ever-more savage capitalism — as well as new openings for the socialist left.

Tell me about the Indian famines of the 1870s.

MD:

The incorporation of the great subsistence peasantries of South and East Asia was absolutely cataclysmic. The story differed from place to place, but the final death toll was enormous. India is the most dramatic example, in part because it occurred on the watch of British liberalism.

By the 1870s, the British had sponsored a great deal of development in India of canals and railroads designed to move export products from interior agricultural regions to the coast. They’d also pioneered large-scale irrigation to raise cotton, something that became urgent during the US Civil War and its resulting cotton famine.

The British claimed that because of the railroads, it would be impossible to have famines in India anymore. And in the past, India had severe famines, though like China, there was never a famine that wasn’t compensated in a sense by good crops from another part of the country.

So the British said, now that we have railroads, we’ll of course move grain from grain surplus regions to the regions affected by drought or flood. What in fact happened in 1876, when you had two monsoon failures in a row and famines in Western and Southern India, was that the railroads were used to take grain out of the famine regions. Because the domestic grain market had been largely privatized, grain merchants pulled grain out of the famine regions and stocked it in railroad centers to wait for the prices to rise and make a killing off of it.

On the village and town level, centuries of fighting drought had led to local water storage systems, small reservoirs and the like, which were managed through the paternalistic relations of the village, with the local nobility of different kinds responsible for the upkeep. So under the Mughal Dynasty [1526-1857], though famines occurred, there was nothing on the gigantic scale of the nineteenth century.

When the British came, they ignored local water storage entirely. They of course displaced much of the local nobility, and merchants and moneylenders often became the power on the village level, buying grain and export crops cheap to sell dear. When the famines came, they were more apt to try to profiteer in grain than relieve the starving peasantry.

Coupled with this was the fanatical, dogmatic British belief that whatever happened shouldn’t interfere with the operation of the market. The market should work to ultimately relieve the famine. It was the same policy they had applied in Ireland in the 1840s, which had led directly to the starvation and death of about a fifth of the Irish population. At a time when Ireland was exporting things like cattle and horses, people in the west of Ireland were reduced to cannibalism.

It was only reluctantly, and because of radical critics inside the British administration in India, that relief was provided, where you worked in order to be fed. But they chose the most grueling system of all, which was to require people to walk to the relief sites, which were generally railroad construction or canal digging projects requiring heavy labor.

People were compelled to walk twenty-five, thirty, sometimes forty miles from their homes, and people died like flies at the construction sites and along the way. They were already badly malnourished, and the expectation that they could walk this great distance and then undertake heavy labor simply doomed people. It was very similar to systems of coerced or forced labor in African colonies, or what the Germans practiced during World War II, where they literally worked people to death, Jewish people and many others.

Read more

The post Mike Davis on the Crimes of Socialism and Capitalism appeared first on Infoshop News.

Welcome to Jinwar, a women-only village in Syria that wants to smash the patriarchy

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 04:52

via The Independent

by Richard Hall

At the end of a long dusty road in the plains of northern Syria, a young woman with a rifle over her shoulder guards the entrance to the isolated village of Jinwar.

Thirty brick houses lie beyond the gate, decorated with splashes of purple and blue. They surround a large plot of agricultural land where rows of vegetables are growing.

A war zone perhaps isn’t the most obvious setting for a feminist utopia. But here, in a far corner of a country that has been devastated by ongoing conflict, a group of women have created an escape from the chaos around them. Built over the past two years, this small hamlet is a self-sustaining, ecological idyll where women rule and men cannot stay.

“There’s no need for men here, our lives are good,” says Zainab Gavary, a 28-year-old resident. “This place is just for women who want to stand on their feet.”

Jinwar is a women-only commune a few miles from Qamishli, a city in the mainly Kurdish region of northeast Syria. It was set up by local women’s groups and international volunteers to create a space for women to live “free of the constraints of the oppressive power structures of patriarchy and capitalism”.

The homes here were built by the women who are now living in them. Murals and statues of women at work are scattered around the site, in the centre of which is a garden of meadow flowers. It’s a jarring contrast to the villages that surround it.

Read more

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As Uprising Spreads Across Globe, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky Among Signers of Open Letter Backing Extinction Rebellion

Sun, 12/16/2018 - 05:28

via Common Dreams

by Jake Johnson

After starting in the United Kingdom just months ago with a mere 10 members dedicated to pressuring their elected officials to urgently confront the climate crisis, the Extinction Rebellion has quickly ballooned into a global movement spanning an estimated 35 countries—a testament to the growing disaffection with the deadly climate status quo and hunger for transformative change among the world’s population.

“In the two months since our first action, we have expanded more than we imagined,” Liam Geary Baulch, a U.K.-based Extinction Rebellion activist, told The Guardian. “We are now planning to change our structure so it can accommodate up to two million people.”

In a sign of the movement’s rapid spread beyond the streets of London, Extinction Rebellion banners have been seen over the past several days at rallies in Katowice, Poland, the site of the ongoing COP24 climate conference. According to the movement’s principal organizers, the goal is to build up to a massive international day of action next April.

We are at the #COP24 climate talks, building global alliances in preparation for International #Rebellionweek – a global uprising that will begin 15th April 2019 We were so grateful to be invited to speak from the platform at the Climate March yesterday. #ExtinctionRebellion pic.twitter.com/Qxvk5OlZqV

— Extinction Rebellion (@ExtinctionR) December 9, 2018

Further evidence of the movement’s growing size and reach came in the form of an open letter signed by journalist Naomi Klein, academic and renowned dissident Noam Chomsky, and around 100 other prominent international progressives calling on “concerned global citizens to rise up” and join the Extinction Rebellion.

“We must collectively do whatever’s necessary non-violently, to persuade politicians and business leaders to relinquish their complacency and denial,” reads the letter, which appeared in major newspapers across the globe. “Their ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option. Global citizens will no longer put up with this failure of our planetary duty.”

Read the full letter:

In our complex, interdependent global ecosystem, life is dying, with species extinction accelerating. The climate crisis is worsening much faster than previously predicted. Every single day 200 species are becoming extinct. This desperate situation can’t continue.

Political leaders worldwide are failing to address the environmental crisis. If global corporate capitalism continues to drive the international economy, global catastrophe is inevitable.

Complacency and inaction in Britain, the USA, Australia, Brazil, across Africa and Asia all illustrate diverse manifestations of political paralysis, abdicating humankind’s grave responsibility for planetary stewardship.

International political organizations and national governments must foreground the climate-emergency issue immediately, urgently drawing up comprehensive policies to address it. Conventionally privileged nations must voluntarily fund comprehensive environment-protection policies in impoverished nations, to compensate the latter for foregoing unsustainable economic growth, and paying recompense for the planet-plundering imperialism of materially privileged nations.

With extreme weather already hitting food production, we demand that governments act now to avoid any risk of hunger, with emergency investment in agro-ecological extreme-weather-resistant food production. We also call for an urgent summit on saving the Arctic icecap, to slow weather disruption of our harvests.

We further call on concerned global citizens to rise up and organize against current complacency in their particular contexts, including indigenous people’s rights advocacy, decolonization and reparatory justice – so joining the global movement that’s now rebelling against extinction (e.g. ‘Extinction Rebellion’ in the UK).

We must collectively do whatever’s necessary non-violently, to persuade politicians and business leaders to relinquish their complacency and denial. Their “business as usual” is no longer an option. Global citizens will no longer put up with this failure of our planetary duty.

Every one of us, especially in the materially privileged world, must commit to accepting the need to live more lightly, consume far less, and to not only uphold human rights but also our stewardship responsibilities to the planet.

Dr Vandana Shiva Delhi, India

Naomi Klein Author

Noam Chomsky Laureate professor, University of Arizona, Institute Professor (emeritus) MIT, USA

Prof AC Grayling Master of the New College of the Humanities, London, UK

Philip Pullman UK

Dr Rowan Williams UK

Bill McKibben Founder, 350.org, Brooklyn, New York, US

Tiokasin Ghosthorse (Lakota Nation), New York, NY, US

Esther Stanford-Xosei Convenor-General, Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign (SMWeCGEC), London, UK

Sir Jonathan Porritt Signing in a personal capacity, UK

Dr Alison Green Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Arden University, National Director (UK) http://www.scientistswarning.org/, UK

Lily Cole Model, entrepreneur and patron for the Environmental justice foundation

Chris Packham English naturalist and TV presenter, UK

Dr Susie Orbach Consultant psychoanalyst, The Balint Consultancy, UK

Prof Joy Carter CBE Vice Chancellor, University of Winchester, UK

Prof Jayati Ghosh Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Ms Da Abla Co-deputy general secretary, All-Afrikan Networking Community Link for International Development (AANCLID), London, UK

Ms Demoui Akouba Doue Joint general secretary, All-Afrikan Students Union Link in Europe (AASULE), Plymouth, UK

Jem Bendell Professor of sustainability leadership, University of Cumbria, UK

Dr Adotey Bing-Pappoe Joint convenor, African Cooperative Forum (ACF), London, UK

Liz Bondi Professor of social geography, University of Edinburgh, UK

Dr Simon Boxley Centre for Climate Change Education & Communication, University of Winchester. UK

Dr Onel Brooks Senior lecturer in psychotherapy, counselling and counselling psychology, UK

Dr Philip Byrne chartered clinical psychologist, Cheshire, UK

Professor Molly Scott Cato MEP UK

Paul Chatterton Professor of urban futures, University of Leeds, UK

Kooj Chuhan Director, Virtual Migrants, Manchester, UK

Danny Dorling Halford Mackinder professor of geography, University of Oxford, UK

Dr David Drew MP (Labour) Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, UK

Jonathan Gosling Emeritus professor of leadership studies, University of Exeter, UK

Ms Athea Gordon-Davidson Co-chair, Brixtonics@Brixton, London, UK

David Graeber Professor of anthropology, London School of Economics, UK

Fe Haslam Secretariat facilitator, CAFA Archival Resources Action Team (CARAT), London, UK

Richard House Ph.D. (Env.Sci.), Chartered psychologist, Stroud, UK

David Humphreys Professor of environmental policy, Open University, UK

Professor Gus John Partner, All Africa Advisors LLP & Coventry University, Coventry, UK

Boucka Koffi Co-deputy coordinator, Global Justice Forum (GJF), Sheffield, UK

Karin Lesnik-Oberstein Professor of critical theory, University of Reading, UK

Del Loewenthal Emeritus professor in psychotherapy, University of Roehampton, UK

Caroline Lucas MP (Green), UK

Kofi Mawuli Klu Co-vice-chair, Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE), London,UK

Tony McSherry Ph.D. (Psychology), Psychotherapist, UK

Simon Murray Poet and graphic artist, Leeds, UK

Professor Dany Nobus Brunel University, London, UK

Michel Odent MD Primal Health Research Centre, London, UK

Jenny Pickerill Professor of environmental geography, University of Sheffield, UK

Dr Gillian Proctor CPsychol., Programme leader, MA in counselling and psychotherapy, University of Leeds, UK

Kate Raworth author of Doughnut Economics; Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, UK

Dr Rupert Read Reader in philosophy, University of East Anglia, UK

Professor Paul Routledge Leadership chair in Contentious Politics and Social Change, University of Leeds, UK

Kwame Adofo Sampong Principal organising secretary, Pan-Afrikan Fora Internationalist Support Coordinating Council (PAFISCC), London, UK

Professor Andrew Samuels University of Essex, Former Chair UK Council for Psychotherapy, UK

Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins Global Sustainable Development lecturer, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

Ms Jendayi Serwah Co-chair, Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee (AEDRMC), Bristol, UK

Helen Spandler Professor of mental health, University of Central Lancashire, UK

Simeon Stanford Co-founder and Leadership Facilitation Team member, Global Afrikan People’s Parliament (GAAP), London, UK

Dr Julia K. Steinberger Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds, UK

Professor Julian Agyeman Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA

David Elkind Emeritus professor of psychology, Tufts University, USA

Nik Heynen Professor of geography, University of Georgia at Athens, USA

Eric Holthaus journalist and fellow, University of Minnesota, USA

Maureen O’Hara Ph.D. Professor of psychology, National University, USA

William J. Ripple Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Oregon State University, USA

Guy McPherson Professor emeritus of conservation biology, University of Arizona, USA

Professor Kris Manjapra Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA

William J. Ripple Distinguished professor of ecology, Oregon State University, USA

Kirk Schneider Saybrook University and the Existential-Humanistic Institute, USA

Rabbi Arthur Waskow director, the Shalom Center, Philadelphia, USA

Steve Biddulph AM, psychologist and author, Australia

Professor Timothy Doyle University of Adelaide, Australia

David Schlosberg Professor of environmental politics, University of Sydney, Australia

John Seed founder, Rainforest Information Centre, St Lismore, NSW, Australia

Salim Dara Chief community / king of Djougou, Bénin

Zeguen Moussa Toure President, Mouvement Social Panafricain pour le Development Integral (MSPDI), Cotonou, Bénin

Ms Aissata Diakhite Kaba Joint Principal Secretary, International Network of Scholars and Activists for Afrikan Reparations, Youth and Students Auxiliary Fellowship – RepAfrika (INOSAAR-RepAfrika), Paris, France

Engin Isin Professor of International Politics, Queen Mary University of London & University of London Institute, Paris, France

Lennard Gillman Professor of biogeography, head of science, Auckland University of Technology, Aotearoa, New Zealand

Professor Keith Tudor Auckland University of Technology, Aotearoa New Zealand

Wedam Abassey Co-chair, Ghana Youth and Student Changemaking Alliance (GYASCA), Kumasi, Ghana

Dukomegatsitsi Kosi Agoko Honorary Presidium Convenor-General, ABLODEDUNOVISIHA Gbetowo Global Union for Pan-Afrikan Community Regeneration (ABLODEDUNOVISIHA-GGUPACOR), Tanyigbe, Ghana

Ms Adzo Agorkor Task Action Commission joint principal secretary, MIANONKU International Scientific Observatory on Development in Afrika (MIANONKU-ISODA), Tanyigbe, Ghana

Mawuse Yao Agorkor General secretary, VAZOBA Afrika and Friends Networking Open Forum, Accra, Ghana

Ms Dedo Azu General secretary, ADZEWAGBETO Pan-Afrikan Women’s Liberation Union (ADZEWAGBETO-PAWLU), Somanya, Ghana

Elorm Koku Dade Principal secretary, All-Afrikan Citizens Action for Sustainable Transport and Communications (AACASTAC), Accra, Ghana

Kafui Yao Dade Co-chair, Planet Repairs Youth Positive Action Campaign (PRYPAC), Accra, Ghana

Nyoefe Yawa Dake Co-president, NUTROZA Panafrecycle (Pan-Afrikan Recycling Cooperative Society for Environmental Justice), Accra, Ghana

Ms Xolanyo Yawa Gbafa Co-deputy general secretary, EDIKANFO Pan-Afrikan Youth and Student Internationalist Link (EDIKANFO-PAYSIL), Accra, Ghana

Numo Akwaa Mensah III Ga Nae (Chief Priest of the Seas for the Indigenous Ga Community of Accra), honorary chair, Accra Community Regeneration for Sustainable Development Action Forum (ACORSDAF), Accra, Ghana

Nana Kobina Nketsia V Omanhen (paramount chief) of Essikado, Pan-Afrikan Chieftaincy Co-Director of Education for the Global Afrikan Family Reunion International Council (GAFRIC), Sekondi, Ghana

Professor Kwaku Senah Managing director, AFRICARIBE Centre, Accra, Ghana

Togbe Adza Tekpor VII Osie (Paramount chief) of Avatime, Pan-Afrikan Chieftaincy Co-Director of Environmental Justice for the Global Afrikan Family Reunion International Council (GAFRIC), Vane-Avatime, Ghana

Dr Paul Beckwith Professor of climatology, University of Ottawa, Canada

Dr Dina Glouberman Founder of Skyros Holidays, Skyros, Greece

David Lehrer Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Kibbutz Ketura, Israel

Dr Jim Salinger University of Tasmania; visiting professor, University of Florence, Italy

Mussauwa Wandale Leader, People’s Land Organisation, Likoma, Malawi

Dr Barryl A. Biekman Co-Vice-Chair, Europewide NGO Consultative Council on Afrikan Reparations (ENGOCCAR), Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Dr Sunita Narain Director General, Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi, India

Neeshad Shafi Executive director of Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM), Qatar

Conley Shivambo Rose General Secretary, United Front for Progress (UFP),Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines

Giorgos Kallis ICREA professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

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The Extinction Rebellion’s Direct-Action Climate Activism Comes to New York

Sun, 12/16/2018 - 05:23

via The Intercept

by Sharon Lerner

The New York chapter of Extinction Rebellion held its first planning meeting on Thursday. Incensed and terrified by the accelerating climate crisis, activists gathered in Manhattan to discuss how they might replicate some of the successes the direct-action group has had in the United Kingdom.

In London, less than a month after Extinction Rebellion activists blocked roads, occupied bridges, lay down in the street and got arrested to draw immediate attention to the climate crisis, Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a climate emergency, vowing to do “everything in our power to mitigate the risk” of climate catastrophe. Coincidence? Greg Schwedock doesn’t think so.

“That was unthinkable before the Extinction Rebellion,” Schwedock told a standing room-only crowd gathered in a Manhattan co-working space on Thursday night. Dressed in office gear and “Rise and Resist” sweatshirts, accompanied by their children and at least one dog, the attendees came together with the hope that a New York chapter of the group might have similar success in sparking a response commensurate with the dire crisis.

“Getting a million people to D.C. isn’t enough. We need to escalate,” said Schwedock, who emphasized that the group will take the path of disruptive, attention-grabbing civil disobedience, rather than just marching and chanting about the importance of climate change. “We’re not the ‘Extinction Yell About It.’”

The explosive growth of the Extinction Rebellion — which began in England with the support of a group of academics just a few months ago and already has 190 affiliates on five continents — is fueled by the ballooning ranks of people around the world who are frustrated, alarmed, and depressed by the failure to tackle the accelerating climate disaster.

Brian Grady counts himself among them. Grady, a 35-year-old housing coordinator at Housing Works, often has trouble sleeping because of his escalating worry about the climate. A video he came across online recently that showed Extinction Rebellion activists getting arrested “was the first thing that made me hopeful,” said Grady. “It was such a relief. It was like finally someone’s doing something.”

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The Anarchism of Blackness–Review of Zoe Samudzi & William C. Anderson, “As Black as Resistance; Finding the Conditions for Liberation.”

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 06:19

via anarkismo.net

by Wayne Price

There are almost no books on anarchism and African-American liberation, which makes this an exceptional work. In the last period of radicalization (the “sixties”), very few radicals, African-American or white, were anarchists or other types of libertarian socialist. Almost all radicals were attracted by the apparent anti-imperialism of Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Castro, and the leaders of liberation struggles in Africa. Therefore those who organized and theorized about revolutionary African-American liberation were overwhelmingly Marxist-Leninists and/or statist nationalists. If I had to think of someone who did not fit this category, I would have to go back to the Black revolutionary, C.L.R. James, who was a libertarian (autonomist) Marxist (James 1948). (Anarchists were involved in the U.S. Civil Rights movement, but mainly as anarchist-pacifists. They were perceived as nonrevolutionary pacifists.)

After the height of this period, there were a number of African-American militants who had been members of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army. When in prison a small number reconsidered their politics and philosophies. Mostly unconnected to each other, they turned to revolutionary anarchism. (See Black Rose Federation 2016.) Meanwhile, there had been a general failure and conservatism of the “Communist” states, from the Soviet Union to China to Vietnam and Cuba. Among those who rejected the oppressive, racist, and exploitative status quo, there was now a rejection of Marxism-Leninism. There was a revived interest in the other revolutionary tradition, that of anarchism.

This short book is a product of the new period. It is an expansion of the authors’ essay, “The Anarchism of Blackness.” They quote repeatedly from one of the Black anarchists, Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin (but, surprisingly, not from any of the others). Their main point is that African-Americans are not and cannot be fully merged into U.S. society, a white supremacist state established as a colonial-settler society. Black people remain essentially outside of and oppressed by this society. Despite the end of legal Jim Crow,
the passage of anti-discrimination laws, and various forms of “affirmative action,” African-Americans remain primarily on the bottom of society, among the most oppressed and exploited parts of the population. Meanwhile there are on-going attacks on whatever gains have been won (such as the right to vote). Therefore the struggles of African-Americans,
pushing upon established order from below, continue to fundamentally threaten the whole system of “law and order,” of established politics, and the normal electoral alternatives. They point in a different direction altogether.

“We are Black because we are oppressed by the state; we are oppressed by the state because we are Black.” (Samudzi & Anderson 2018; 9) “Black people’s place in the fight against white supremacist capitalism is unique since so much of structural violence entails anti-blackness….Blackness is the anti-state just as the state is anti-Black….Black Americans[are]a group of people upon whose suffering the state is constructed…. Understanding the anarchistic condition of blackness and the impossibility of its assimilation into the U.S. social contract, however, could be empowering.” (112-113) This
points to a goal of “a complete dismantling of the American state as it presently exists….” (3) and “creating an alternate system of governance that is not based on domination, hierarchy, and control.” (xvii)

This rejection of “assimilation” as a goal does not lead Samudzi and Anderson to adopt Black nationalism. Partly because they believe that “Black nationalism in the United States can sometimes entail these quasi-settler claims to the land….” (25) This raises “the question of the fate of the Native American communities in those states” (26) “We are not settlers. But championing the creation of a Black majoritarian nation-state, where the
fate of Indigenous people is ambiguous at best, is an idea rooted in settler logic.” (28) They also doubt that a nationalist approach is adequate to deal with the dire threat of world-wide environmental catastrophe caused by the system. And they point out that the upholders of Black oppression are not only European-Americans. “There are many politicians and state operatives of color, Black and otherwise, working for white supremacy.” (13)

Samudzi and Anderson especially object to “Black nationalism’s frequent exclusion of” Black and other women and LGBTQ people (70-71). “We must also explicitly name different gendered and sexual identities within blackness. Any truly liberatory politics must speak to the unique needs and vulnerabilities of Black women and girls, especially Black queer and transgender women and girls.” (68)

Others have rejected both total assimilation (“integration”) and Black nationalism, such as C.L.R. James and Malcolm X in his last year. Probably most African-Americans do not want to separate from the U.S.A. They mostly want to win the democratic rights promised by the U.S. tradition==but without giving up their Black identity and pride and their special organizations (such as the Black church and communities).

However, under the great pressures and upheavals which might lead to a revolution, it is possible that many African-Americans might come to want their own separate country (whether with its own state or as an anarchist community). If this should develop, surely anarchists should support their right to have this if that is what they want. We believe in freedom. This is not discussed in the book.

Samudzi and Anderson advocate “a truly intersectional framework and multifaceted approach to Black liberation.” (28) “Our work to end the deterioration of nature must be understood as a necessary and inseparable component of a global anticapitalist movement.” (35) They call for a more united U.S. Left. “There is not a unified Left in this country…If we do
not build that functionally cohesive Left…the rights of all people oppressed by capitalist white supremacy will inevitably continue to erode.” (17) But the book is weak in terms of how to build that unified Left as part of a global anticapitalist movement–nor does it distinguish between the statist, authoritarian, Left and a libertarian, anti-statist, Left. They are undoubtedly right to raise a pro-Black, pro-feminist, pro-LGBTQ, and pro-ecology orientation. (They have a discussion of armed self-defense and gun control which I found rather confused.) But how can these be integrated into an “intersectional and multifaceted framework”?

African-American Liberation and Class

The weakest part of the book is its lack of analysis of why African-Americans are oppressed, and what functions this oppression performs for the system. This should lead to an analysis of the economic role of white supremacy in producing a surplus of wealth to maintain the ruling class, the corporations, the state, and all other capitalist institutions-a surplus of wealth which is squeezed out of the working population. They refer frequently to “capitalism” and sometimes to “classism,” but do not see that the capitalist class system is a system of exploitation, of draining wealth from working people.

Africans were not brought to the Americas in order for white people to have someone to look down on. They were kidnapped and enslaved to become a form of worker (chattel slaves). They were bought and sold on a market so they could be used to produce commodities (tobacco, cotton, etc.) to be sold on the world market.

With the end of slavery, African-Americans continued to be oppressed, serving two functions. First, they were kept as a vulnerable group which could be super-exploited. They were paid less than the rest of the working class and given the worst jobs, therefore producing a large amount of profit. Second, they were used to keep the working class as a whole divided and weak, so long as the white workers accepted the “psychological wages of
whiteness,” namely feeling superior to someone. While the white workers got some small benefits (more job security, slightly better pay, etc.), they paid a high price in economic and political weakness. (Their inability, to this day, to win universal health care, unlike in every other Western imperialist country, is only one example.) The hopeful aspect of this situation is that it is in the immediate material interest of white workers to oppose racism-as well as being morally right. This gives anti-racists something to appeal to.
On the second function of racism: In the 1800s, the great Black abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, wrote about his experiences as a rented-out slave on the Baltimore shipyards, surrounded by racist white workers. While well aware of the difference between chattel slavery and wage slavery, “Douglass keenly grasped the plight of the white poor. In their
‘craftiness,’ wrote Douglass, urban slaveholders and shipyard owners forged an ‘enmity of the poor, laboring white man against the blacks,’ forcing an embittered scramble for diminished wages, and rendering the white worker ‘as much a slave as the black slave himself.’ Both were ‘plundered and by the same plunderer.’ The ‘white slave’ and the
‘black slave’ were both robbed, one by a single master, and the other by the entire slave system. The slaveholding class exploited the lethal tools of racism to convince the burgeoning immigrant poor, said Douglass, that ‘slavery is the only power that can prevent the laboring white man from falling to the level of the slave’s poverty and degradation’.” (Blight 2018; 77) To this day, the “crafty” capitalists continue this game of divide-and-conquer, between white workers and African-American workers, and also among Latino, Asian, and immigrant workers.

While not referring to this key aspect of capitalist racism, the authors do discuss the relationship between the oppression of African-American women and exploitative labor. There has been, and is, a “raced and gendered labor extraction[in]…the functioning of capitalism…Black women’s labor was central to the development of the capitalist state
and the American slaveocracy….Gendered anti-blackness formed the cornerstone of Jim Crow modernity….” (71) African-American women faced a “triple labor (domestic, industrial, and sexual…).” (72)

This is entirely true and very insightful. It is odd that the authors do not further discuss the “raced labor extraction” from Black workers (of all genders and orientations) which plays a central role in the “labor extraction” from the entire, multiracial, multiethnic, multinational, and multigenderred, working class. Historically, Black workers, female and male, have played key roles in U.S. working class struggles, as well
as in broader African-American struggles. An intersectional working class strategy should focus on this (which was the point of James 1948).

The Revolutionary Goal?

The book lacks a strategy for African-American liberation, beyond broad insights. “People may ask for answers as though there are distinct formulas….The solution to capitalism is anticapitalism. The solution to white supremacy is the active rejection of it and the dual affirmation of Indigenous sovereignty and Black humanity.” (114) This is not good enough.

It is not clear whether their rejection of the U.S. state and white supremacist capitalism implies a revolution to them. I do not mean a popular insurrection as an immediate goal, but as a strategic end-in-view, a guiding goal of eventually overturning the state and all forms of oppression. “It is possible that a people’s liberation is a perpetual project and must constantly be renewed and updated.” (114) Samudzi and Anderson write of “a long
struggle[in which]meaningful steps toward liberation do not have to be dramatic.” (115) Fair enough, but they do not speak of how to get to an eventual destruction of the institutions of racist-sexist-antiecological-capitalism. A revolution may be a “long struggle” but not “a perpetual project.”

It is not clear whether they are anarchists. I do not mean that I doubt their sincerity, since I take them at their word. But they themselves waffle on whether to call themselves anarchists. They took “anarchism” out of the title of their book (from the original essay), and write, “We may choose not to limit or misrepresent the diversity of our struggle by explicitly naming ourselves as anarchists…”(66) Their values and perspectives seem to be consistent with anarchism. They were clearly influenced by Black
anarchists. I do not raise this point to condemn them-they may call themselves whatever they like. But this wishy-washy attitude toward owning the “anarchist” label weakens their revolutionary perspective. Similarly, while they repeatedly refer to “anticapitalism,” they never write of “socialism” (let alone “communism”).

Conclusion

There are very few writings on anarchism and African-American liberation, which makes this an interesting work. It clearly places racial oppression at the center of U.S. society, interacting and overlapping with all other forms of oppression and exploitation. It insists that Black liberation will mean the destruction of the present U.S. state and sexist-racist capitalism. Its main weaknesses are a lack of a strategy and a failure to integrate a class analysis of capitalism into its program and perspective. They fail to see the special role of African-Americans in the working class and in the U.S. revolution.

References

Black Rose Federation (2016). Black Anarchism: A Reader.
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/black-rose-anar…eader

Blight, David W. (2018). Frederick Douglass; Prophet of Freedom. NY: Simon & Schuster.

James, C.L.R. (1948). “The Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem in the U.S.”
https://www.marxists.org/archive/james-clr/works/1948/0…r.htm

Samudzi, Zoe, & Anderson, William C. (2018). As Black as Resistance; Finding the
Conditions for Liberation. Chico CA: AK Press.

*written for www.Anarkismo.net

https://www.anarkismo.net/article/31213


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They Called Her “the Che Guevara of Abortion Reformers”

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 05:46

via Slate.com

There was nothing remarkable about the small woman carrying a box of leaflets—certainly nothing to justify the clutch of reporters waiting for her across from San Francisco’s Federal Building on a July morning in 1966. Still, there they were. She arrived at exactly 9 a.m., greeted them, and began distributing fliers to anyone who passed. There were two of them: One was a yellow slip of paper titled “Classes in Abortion,” listing topics like female anatomy, foreign abortion specialists, and police questioning. The other—which she gave only to the assembled journalists and the five women who signed up for her class that Wednesday evening—described two techniques for DIY abortions. “I am attempting to show women an alternative to knitting needles, coat hangers, and household cleaning agents,” she told the reporters, adding that she had notified San Francisco police of her whereabouts and plans.

The woman was Patricia Maginnis, a laboratory technician and founder of the Society for Humane Abortion, an organization that she ran out of the front room of her small apartment in San Francisco. She’d started the SHA in 1962 (back then, it was called the Citizens Committee for Humane Abortion Laws). Arguably the first organization of its kind in America, its mandate was radical: The SHA sought to repeal abortion laws, endorse elective abortions, and offer women any resources it could in the meantime. These resources would come to include “the List,” an up-to-date directory of safe abortion specialists outside the country, classes on DIY abortions, and symposia where sympathetic doctors could confer with each other about the safest and best abortion techniques. SHA would eventually formalize its legal strategy with a branch called the Association to Repeal Abortion Laws (ARAL, which would form the basis for NARAL), specifically devoted to challenging legislation.

But on this particular day, and on this particular mission, Maginnis claimed she was acting alone, outside of her organization. The leaflets were her way of knowingly violating both a city ordinance and Section 601 of the California Business and Professions Code, which declared it unlawful to distribute information about abortion. She was also flouting Penal Code 276, which made it a crime to “solicit[] any woman to submit to any operation, or to the use of any means whatever, to procure a miscarriage.” The violation was the point: Maginnis had politely informed the police of her every move in advance. The aim was to goad the legal apparatus into an ugly confrontation that it preferred to keep as merely a threat; she wanted to make the system own the consequences of its laws. “I could get arrested for soliciting women to undergo a felony,” Maginnis told the alt-weekly Berkeley Barb, “but I feel it is necessary at this point to have a test case.” To get a law thrown out, you first need to go to court. And to get to court, you must be arrested.

She’d launched her leaflet campaign about six weeks earlier, and the police had so far refused to respond to her provocation (some cops would later tell Maginnis that they knew she wanted to be arrested—implying this was why they’d refrained). Still, things were going smoothly enough this morning; a man named Steve Hooper, writing for the Barb, described the women to whom Maginnis gave leaflets as ranging from neutral to receptive. Some wished her luck. (As for the men, they “seemed indifferent except for one old suit who said he wanted a leaflet for his secretary,” Hooper wrote.)

Then it happened. While the reporters watched, a documentarian named Gary Bentley interviewed Maginnis for 10 minutes with a camera crew. Content with his footage, he asked his cameraman to film as he walked up to Maginnis. Here’s Hooper describing what happened next:

With microphone in hand and cameraman turned on, he said, “I’m placing you under citizen’s arrest for violating Section 188 of the Municipal Police Code. What do you think of that?”

“Excuse me, please,” Pat Maginnis said, and she hurried after one more woman to give her a leaflet.

When the police arrived in response to Bentley’s citizen’s arrest, they did so unwillingly. They tried to argue that they weren’t the ones arresting her even as they helped Maginnis into a cop car. It didn’t matter. Maginnis’ “test case” paid off. San Francisco’s Section 188 would be declared unconstitutional, and the case against her would be thrown out in court. It was the first of her many legal victories.

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

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 05:37

by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.

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.

Alan started his political involvement in republicanism, and by the early 1970s he was in the ‘official’ Sinn Féin, which would eventually become the Workers’ Party. It was around this time that he changed his name from ‘Fitzsimons’ to the Irish version ‘MacSimóin’. As a group of young republicans were becoming interested in libertarian communist politics, he left the party in 1975. They would have left earlier, but decided to wait a year more in order not to be mixed with the 1974 split led by Seamus Costello, which led to the foundation of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and being thus dragged into the bloody feud in which both parties engaged in the coming years. He developed contacts with the British anarchist organisation Anarchist Workers Association (AWA), one of the organisations in the 1970s which had re-discovered the strand of anarchist ‘platformism’, emphasising a cohesive political organisation for anarchists.

Like most Irish people, Alan struggled with unemployment, for the best part of the 1970s and 1980s. And yet, he still managed to participate actively in the creation of the anarchist movement in Ireland, with the creation of the Dublin Anarchist Group and the Anarchist Workers Alliance in the late 1970s. He was then a founding member of the Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM) in 1984, an organisation which would have a massive importance for the re-emergence of an engaged, platformist-inspired, form of anarchist communism in many countries in the aftermath of the end of the /Cold War, including Chile, Colombia, Turkey, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, France, among others. He contributed extensively to the anarchist press, particularly through the journals linked to the WSM, Workers Solidarity and Red & Black Revolution, and before that, in the Anarchist Worker. He regularly distributed Workers Solidarity door to door in Stoneybatter, his neighbourhood.

He drifted away from the WSM in recent years, arguing that the organisation was moving away from class politics into a more counter-cultural direction. He remained committed to community and trade union activism, being a member of SIPTU, as he firmly believed that anarchist should be engaged in mainstream unions as opposed to alternative unions. He remained a staunch anarchist to the very end. He was active, literally, in every single campaign in Ireland from the 1970s: anti-racism, choice and pro-women, anti-bin charges, anti-water charges, environmental campaigns; in every strike, he was always there. The last time I participated in a struggle with him was the victorious struggle against water charges in 2015-2016 while I was still living in Stoneybatter, a few blocks away from Alan. In his latest years he was devoted, apart from his tirelessly campaigning, to the Irish Anarchist History project and to the Stoneybatter & Smithfields’ People’s History Project.

He was a dedicated militant who never aspired to be in the spotlight. He led by example, being a persistent and consistent activist who participated in meetings, attended every picket and contributed in any way he could to local campaigns. His commitment to anarchist politics wasn’t merely rhetorical: he was always building from below, from the bottom-up. He was a practical man, but he also was, as his long-time anarchist companion Kevin Doyle reminded us in today’s oration at the ceremony in Glasnevin, a dreamer. A dreamer who believed in the capacity and ability of ordinary people, particularly the working class, to change things for the better, as Doyle clearly stated.

His sense of humour was rather dark, sometimes self-deprecating; I still remember when my first son was born, he sent me a text message just saying ‘Don’t worry; the first 40 years are the most difficult, then it is ok’. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much as then. He was stubborn and often engaged in bitter polemics (I remember being at the receiving end of his arguments a good few times); yet, his sincere commitment to the struggle for a better world was doubted by no one. He gained the sympathy and admiration of almost everyone in the left because of his earnest commitment and his sincere devotion to the working class. He is one of the sharpest and most intelligent comrades I’ve come across. Kind, generous and witty, when I arrived to Dublin as a young migrant, he gave me a good few books on Irish working class history for me to get a better grasp of the reality here. He was like that to everyone, always ready to share his knowledge, his experience and his resources with his comrades.

He will be remembered as a most influential figure in the Irish left of the last decades. He was among a handful of people who started talking about anarchism in the 1970s and 1980s; his work to create a space for the libertarian left in a country dominated by political and religious conservatism changed the face of politics forever. If Irish society has moved forward in any measure over the last decades, it is to a great degree thanks to the efforts of people like Alan.

Sit tibi terra levis, dear comrade.

José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
13th December, 2018

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Why Hondurans See Migration as an Act of Civil Disobedience

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 04:59

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.

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The Yellow Vest Movement: Showdown with the State

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 04:43

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.


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How to create a leaderless revolution and win lasting political change

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 04:19

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


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Climate justice and migration in the media

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

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

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.

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Yellow Vests Movement Rocks France

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).

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

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.


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

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.

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Student Debt Must Become Part of the Battle Against Poverty

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.

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