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Review: How Anarchist Culture Sustains a Movement

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 21:27

via Fifth Estate # 394, Summer 2015 – Technology

by Ruhe

a review of
Underground Passages: Anarchist Resistance Culture 1848-2011 by Jesse Cohn. AK Press, 2014, 421 pp.,, $22.95

In Underground Passages, Jesse Cohn begins with the apt metaphor of anarchist resistance culture as a tunnel: it is “a way of living in transit through” this world. Resistance culture is “not mainly defined by its end; it is a middle, a means.” Anarchist cultural production is a way of making sense of the world, a figurative place inhabited temporarily in the time between the present and the future of anarchy.

The wonderfully written introduction asserts that anarchist resistance culture is a way for anarchists to “prefigure a world of freedom and equality” even as they live in a place fundamentally hostile to our vision. In other words, “anarchists practice culture as a means of mental and moral survival in a world from which they are fundamentally alienated.”

Anarchist art and cultural production aim to “as much as possible, embody the idea in the act, the principle in practice, the end in the means.” Moreover, with anarchists often being in a state of migration and exile, shared cultural forms can create a sense of stability where it was otherwise lacking. Anarchist resistance culture created (and continues to create) a “counterpublic” that fosters community while also providing a form of outreach that entices others towards anarchism.

Cohn, an associate professor of English at Purdue University North Central in Indiana, organizes the book by genre of cultural production, with chapters exploring anarchist literature, poetry, drama, song, film, and other forms. He insightfully analyzes these, drawing out commonalities that exist across national and genre borders.

Experimentation in different genres has been a key way anarchists have spread their ideas; yet all too often historians look to newspapers rather than cultural production. The author also shows how anarchists have often maintained a critical stance towards the very genres they were working in. For example, demanding active and skeptical readers and questioning the division between spectator and performer that exists in drama.

As much of Cohn’s exploration is oriented towards the early 1900s, there’s considerably more about anarchist resistance culture then than about the present. Still, he does bring some of the discussion into the present, taking up the films of Submedia, the writings of CrimethInc, and the genre of anarchist “riot porn.”

While Cohn makes an effort to introduce each work or creator as they are discussed, the striking number of works examined in the text’s 395 pages is a bit overwhelming.

The more prior knowledge readers bring to the text, the more they will get out of it. Those widely read in anarchist literary forms will likely enjoy the discussions more than those with less familiarity. For example, there is a particularly enjoyable discussion of the aesthetics of anarchist newspapers.

The book is well researched and well documented, and there are many points for further exploration. It was especially exciting to see how many non-English sources were consulted.

Ultimately, Cohn’s exploration is written with an eye towards the future—it asserts a specific interest in what can be learned from the past. Throughout much of Underground Passages, the rich expressions of revolt that emerged when anarchism was the strongest are examined.

At those times, resistance culture was intimately connected to anarchist movements and organizations, as with, for example, the CNT and FAI in Spain in the 1930s. At those historic moments anarchist resistance culture was more outward looking. It had a visible presence in the form of newspapers, lectures, events, and more.

But Cohn asserts that in other periods during which anarchism was less visible, such as during the 1890s era of “propaganda of the deed,” or during the period following the Spanish civil war and the defeat of the Revolution in 1939, anarchist resistance culture was more inwardly focused.

Politically, it focused more on internal debates and conflicts, while its cultural forms spoke “the language of a bohemia that has lived on the margins of public life.” Cohn sees this both historically, with anarchism’s relationship to avant-garde movements, and more recently, with affinities to punk rock.

While the author’s characterization of the punk subculture as being mainly white and self-limiting is valid, this has largely become an anarchist truism. Thus the discussion on the limits of punk seems almost passé, as punk has become less political since the late 1990s.

Cohn blames contemporary trends in anarchist thinking such as primitivism and insurrectionary anarchy on the individualistic orientation of punk rock, claiming that it gives many anarchists a preference for “the erratic, individual eruption of desire and aggression.”

He never considers that the growth of these expressions might be related to a changing political context (more people finding themselves in increasingly precarious working situations) that would render some of the older forms of anarchism less relevant.

Instead, he argues that a contemporary anarchist resistance culture could begin to reassert the radical possibility of something different and that anarchism could offer an enticing alternative—just as it had in the past by focusing on a larger audience. He mentions anarchists’ ability to re-appropriate popular genres as an alternative to the inward focus of subcultures.

Reflecting his preference for collectively oriented and mass anarchism, Cohn argues that these “resistance cultures are bound to flourish best wherever they meet real and deeply felt needs.” The discussion ends up being the usual subcultural-versus-mainstream orientation debate that never really seems to go anywhere.

Underground Passages presents the anarchist cultural history of its chosen period in a discerning manner. The scope of the work ensures that for nearly all students of anarchist history, there is something to be learned. It’s an excellent starting point for continued research and for conversation.

In the tradition of the anarchist resistance culture studied here, this book demands further active reading and engagement, not simply passive consumption.

Ruhe is an anarchist living in the occupied territory currently known as Michigan. They are involved with Sprout Distro ( and are interested in how anarchist ideas and approaches can be communicated to people beyond the narrow subculture.

Reviews: Learning from the Complexities of History

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 21:22

via Fifth Estate # 398, Summer, 2017

by F.O.F.

More than one way to query the past, many questions to ask

a review of
Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century by Andrew Cornell. University of California Press, 2016
Nonviolence Ain’t What It Used To Be: Unarmed Insurrection and the Rhetoric of Resistance by Shon Meckfessel. AK Press, 2016

Reading about history with anarchist ideas in mind can often be inspiring and sometimes even lead to insights useful in present-day situations. Andrew Cornell and Shon Meckfessel have written books that are treasure-troves of information about the multifaceted 20th century North American radical movements for societal change. They are helpful companions to the various memoirs and retrospectives on anarchist groups of the period published during the past decade by Anatole Dolgoff, Penelope Rosemont, Franklin Rosemont, Larry Gambone, Ben Morea, and others.

Cornell directly explores some of the lesser known relationships between anarchists of various tendencies, militant labor union activists, groups fighting against racism, cultural rebels, those fighting for women’s, lesbian and gay (now more broadly including LGBTQ), liberation, as well as pacifists addressing when and how to employ non-violent methods of protest.

Concentrating on the first seven decades of the 20th century, he describes diverse anarchist groupings, including insurrectionist, anarchist-communist, anarcho-syndicalist, anarcho-pacifist and countercultural tendencies.

He outlines the growth of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) at the beginning of the century and its relationship to anarchists in the U.S., including the IWW’s pioneering creative use of on-the-job direct action and the free speech movements, both providing important resources for later labor and social justice struggles. The role both the IWW and anarchists played in the anti-authoritarian rejection of Bolshevik subversion of the 1917 Russian revolution is touched on.

Cornell also briefly considers World War I and the postwar political repression of IWWs, anarchists and socialist groups along with attacks on African American communities which were occurring at the same time.

Meckfessel’s book while not primarily focused on anarchist history as such, provides some highly relevant context through exploration of concerns of the other political movements and examination of the dynamic meanings of the demonstrations, riots and urban rebellions that created the background of the 1960s and 1970s.

In considering riot as rhetoric, he discusses the focus in the 20th century insurgencies on demands for social justice compared with the concentration in the 21st century on breaking out of powerlessness.

Motivated by current debates about violence versus nonviolence in activist circles, both Cornell and Meckfessel examine how these concepts were understood in the past and how they are represented in establishment and anarchist circles today.

While recognizing the importance of the ongoing discussion of this issue, there are also some other topics that these books bring to mind which deserve further examination.

For many in the movements of the mid-20th century, finding forms of organization that were appropriate to and reflected non-hierarchical means and ends was of prime importance. Cornell notes how anarchists indirectly contributed to ideas of egalitarian, decentralized organization in Black Freedom struggles during the late 1950s and 1960s, as well as the ways that movement motivated anarchists to think more deeply about the intersections between class and racial oppression.

He also tantalizingly refers to the relationship between changes in class composition—which occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, in the 1920s and again after the Second World War—and the resulting changes in manifestations of resistance and rebellion.

Meckfessel notes the relationship between changes in class structure and increasing inequality that have contributed to growing government control and repression of expressions of dissatisfaction. Over time restructuring of the labor market also definitely has had a significant impact on who would be attracted to anarchist movements.

While the changing makeup and size of anarchist groups has caused disorientation and justifiable worries about isolation from the larger society, Meckfessel asserts that they have also provided opportunities for developing more egalitarian and liberatory relations between different groups opposing the status quo. He notes that diversity of goals and tactics can be understood as strengthening anti-authoritarian possibilities because of a multiplicity of self-definitions, even though posing severe ongoing challenges.

With this in mind, it is relevant to explore more deeply the differences and similarities in meanings between concepts of non-hierarchical anti-authoritarian methods of self-organization in the past century and today.

Many anarchists of the 1960s and 1970s era were not interested in either non-violence or armed struggle groups, but favored the kinds of self-defense they learned through their interactions with the IWW (as mentioned in memoirs and retrospectives and remembered by many who have not recorded their experiences).

During the late 1960s through the beginning of the 1980s, the IWW helped to educate and encourage many young anarchists and anti-authoritarians who felt alienated from both pacifist and self-styled militaristic vanguards. Close examination of this experience could possibly shed further light on the emergence of later insurgencies, including but not limited to, connections with ecologically-concerned groups.

The conflicts between Marxist and anarchist ideas of the state, the genesis of revolutions, and struggles for national liberation also deserve further scrutiny in the context of the historical information and frames of reference developed by both Cornell and Meckfessel.

It is just possible that deeper discussions of these and related topics could contribute to a greater clarity about truly meaningful resistance in the future.

F.O.F. is a long-time anarchist and friend of the FE, and is a friend of fossils, but not fixated on them.

The Propaganda Model Revisited

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 18:51

via Monthly Review

by Edward S. Herman (intro by Robert W. McChesney)

Edward S. Herman died in November 2017, at the age of ninety-two. Because of his unassuming nature and genuine disinterest in claiming authorship for many of the ideas he generated, as long as they proliferated, his personal legacy may never do justice to his many contributions to those seeking a more just, humane, and sustainable world. I am but one of many people whose life he not only touched but whose life changed considerably because of his work and his counsel. Those fortunate enough to know Ed loved and respected him; he combined a powerful intellect with unimpeachable integrity and courage.

In Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon, 1988) Noam Chomsky and I put forward a “propaganda model” as a framework for analyzing and understanding how the mainstream U.S. media work and why they perform as they do. We had long been impressed with the regularity with which the media operate within restricted assumptions, depend heavily and uncritically on elite information sources, and participate in propaganda campaigns helpful to elite interests. In trying to explain why they do this we looked for structural factors as the only possible root of systematic behavior and performance patterns.

The propaganda model was and is in distinct contrast to the prevailing mainstream explanations—both liberal and conservative—of media behavior and performance. These approaches downplay structural factors, generally presupposing their unimportance or positive impact because of the multiplicity of agents and thus competition and diversity. Liberal and conservative analysts emphasize journalistic con­duct, public opinion, and news source initiatives as the main determining variables. The analysts are inconsistent in this regard, however. When they discuss media systems in communist or other authoritarian states, the idea that journalists or public opinion can override the power of those who own and control the media is dismissed as nonsense and even considered an apology for tyranny.

There is a distinct difference, too, between the political implications of the propaganda model and mainstream scholarship. If structural factors shape the broad contours of media performance, and if that performance is incompatible with a truly democratic political culture, then a basic change in media ownership, organization, and purpose is necessary for the achievement of genuine democracy. In mainstream analyses such a perspective is politically unacceptable, and its supportive arguments and evidence are rarely subject to debate.

In this article I will describe the propaganda model, address some of the criticism that has been leveled against it, and discuss how the model holds up nearly a decade after its publication.1 I will also provide some examples of how the propaganda model can help explain the nature of media coverage of important political topics in the 1990s.

The Propaganda Model

What is the propaganda model and how does it work? The crucial structural factors derive from the fact that the dominant media are firmly imbedded in the market system. They are profit-seeking businesses, owned by very wealthy people (or other companies); they are funded largely by advertisers who are also profit-seeking entities, and who want their ads to appear in a supportive selling environment. The media are also dependent on government and major business firms as information sources, and both efficiency and political considerations, and frequently overlapping interests, cause a certain degree of solidarity to prevail among the government, major media, and other corporate businesses. Government and large non-media business firms are also best positioned (and sufficiently wealthy) to be able to pressure the media with threats of withdrawal of advertising or TV licenses, libel suits, and other direct and indirect modes of attack. The media are also constrained by the dominant ideology, which heavily featured anticommunism before and during the Cold War era, and was mobilized often to prevent the media from criticizing attacks on small states labelled communist.

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Counting Contention in China

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 18:44
via Chinoiresie by

In August 2017, activist Lu Yuyu was sentenced by the Dali City People’s Court to four years in prison for ‘picking quarrels and stirring up trouble’ (xunxin zishi zui). Together with his partner Li Tingyu, who was detained but then eventually released, Lu had collected information on thousands of ‘mass incidents’ (qunti shijian). These incidents encompassed a broad range of Chinese contentious politics, from pitched battles between farmers and thugs hired by development companies, to taxi drivers parking en masse along roadways in protest against high fuel prices; and from migrant workers threatening to jump from bridges, to retirees gathering to condemn pollution. Li and Lu posted the information they gathered on social media and blogs under the name Wickedonna (also known as feixinwen, non-news). Their reports usually took the form of short, two- or three-sentence descriptions of confrontations, paired with photos or videos. But the activists also calculated monthly and yearly totals of periods of unrest, accompanied by brief analyses.

It is impossible to know what, exactly, triggered the initial detention of the pair in June 2016. Drawing data of this sort together in one place was clearly unsettling for authorities. But what exactly was so troubling about it? One possibility is that making individual stories of conflict so accessible was dangerous. The activist Huang Qi was detained half a year earlier because of his work curating similar tales on his website 64 Tianwang. Most likely, though, the sheer number of incidents Lu and Li recorded undercut government narratives related to the creation of a ‘harmonious society’ (hexie shehui) and bringing about the ‘great revival of the Chinese people’ (zhonghua minzu de weida fuxing). After all, the government itself used to sporadically make public annual incident counts, but it stopped doing so in 2005, presumably because the numbers conveyed a negative impression of where the country was headed.

Wickedonna represented a particularly dedicated and courageous effort at counting Chinese unrest. However, a growing number of academics and activists have launched similar projects—albeit mostly from the safety of universities and non-governmental organisations located outside the mainland. These projects include an extensive dataset covering all types of disturbances put together by Chen Chih-Jou of the Academia Sinica; my Ash Center colleague Li Yao’s dataset of all the mass incidents reported in Boxun between 2001 and 2012; the ‘China Environmental Protests & Accidents’ map covering 2005 to present; China Labour Bulletin’s (CLB) strike map of workplace unrest from mid-2011 to present; my own China Strikes dataset covering the Hu–Wen decade; and the Global Labour Conflicts collection hosted by the International Institute of Social History in the Netherlands, which combines the maps from CLB and myself for its China section.

In this essay, I will explore the power and limits of such efforts with regard to Chinese labour issues. I will begin by contrasting the practices of digging deep (qualitative research) versus counting (quantitative research), and posit that both have their virtues. Then, I will detail the inevitable data problems involved in any quantitative approach to documenting protest in China, while arguing that these problems, although serious, should not deter researchers. Finally, I will examine the ethics involved in how we collect such data and the questions we ask of it.

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Co-ops: A Tool For Community Organizing

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 17:19

via U.S. Solidarity Economy Network

via The Uptake

by Cirien Saadeh

Co-ops are not just for grocery stores anymore.  Member and worker-owned co-ops for housing, farming, rural electricity, and other big projects that have societal benefits — including sustainable businesses and living wages— are on the rise in Minnesota.

Minnesota already has a thriving food cooperative scene with cooperatives existing on multiple levels from workers and producers to sellers and consumers. A 2014 Cooperative Development Services  study found  there were 17 grocery co-ops with almost 100,000 member-owners supporting them, alongside 50,000 additional non-member shoppers. As well, in the years since the 2014 study was completed, several cooperatives, many in the Twin Cities, have expanded or opened anew.

“Cooperatives are an economic tool, but they are also a community organizing and development tool, and a power-building tool, if we use it as that,” said Christina Jennings, executive director for Shared Capital Cooperative (SCC). Supporting cooperatives to build a more just and equitable cooperative economy is SCC’s mission. SCC is organized as a cooperative, founded by cooperatives, and currently owned by 225 cooperatives in 35 states.

“Building a viable cooperative can be really powerful for the community,” says Jennings. The equitable work environment a co-op creates has impact beyond the organization. Workers “can then imagine something they might not have been able to imagine before.”

Co-ops Are Custom Built For Communities They Serve

Cooperatives are different than other economic models because they depend on their communities for support, says Winston Bell, general manager for North Minneapolis’ Wirth Cooperative Grocery.

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Facebook and Google outline unprecedented mass censorship at U.S. Senate hearing

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 16:58

via MR Online

Originally published: World Socialist Web Site by Andre Damon (January 18, 2018) Behind the backs of the U.S. and world populations, social media companies have built up a massive censorship apparatus staffed by an army of “content reviewers” capable of seamlessly monitoring, tracking, and blocking millions of pieces of content.

The character of this apparatus was detailed in testimony Wednesday from representatives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by South Dakota Republican John Thune.

The hearing was called to review what technology companies are doing to shut down the communications of oppositional political organizations. It represented a significant escalation of the campaign, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to establish unprecedented levels of censorship and control over the Internet.

Armed with increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems, these technology companies are free to remove and block the communications of their users at the behest of the government, in a seamless alliance between Silicon Valley and the major U.S. spy agencies.

Monika Bickert, head of Global Policy Management at Facebook, told lawmakers that the social media giant now employs a security team of 10,000 people, 7,500 of whom “assess potentially violating content,” and that, “by the end of 2018 we will more than double” the security team.

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Olympian Adam Rippon Stands Up to Mike Pence’s Homophobia

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 22:15

via The Nation

by Dave Zirin

The Olympics has long been a site of not only sports, pageantry, and flag-waving nationalism but also dissent. While most people associate that with the 1968 Games where John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists, this tradition goes back for as long as there has been an Olympics. (Read Activism and the Olympics, by Jules Boykoff, to see how far back it goes.)

In 2018, a chapter has already been added to this history, and it could not have happened soon enough. For the first time, the United States Winter Olympics team has two open LGBT athletes: figure skater Adam Rippon and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy. For the first time as well, the Olympic delegation is being led by Vice President Mike Pence, a virulent homophobe, who (as Donald Trump likes to joke) “wants to hang” LGBT people.

In addition, these Winter Olympics come on the heels of a dictate by this administration that medical professionals do not have to provide services to trans people. They believe that if you state a religious objection, you can leave a trans person in a life-threatening situation to die. Well, Adam Rippon was not going to partake in this quietly.

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Erdoğan and His Opponents

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 21:48

via Jacobin

By Güney Işıkara, Alp Kayserilioğlu, Max Zirngast

The power of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appears limitless. It seems the Turkish president will rule forever.

The events since last April’s referendum supposedly confirm this gloomy outlook. The vote delivered Erdoğan and his party, the AKP, a crucial victory, ushering in constitutional changes that established an overtly dictatorial system. Purges and repression followed.

Yet a closer look reveals that Erdoğan’s would-be dictatorship is anything but stable. All the social contradictions that have simmered under the surface, frustrating the AKP’s attempts to consolidate its political dominance, were manifest again during the referendum. And they haven’t vanished in the months since.

After the Referendum

Despite the use of state terror and blatant fraud, Erdoğan only managed to win 51 percent “yes” votes in the referendum. No longer able to create mass consent by “soft,” democratic means, he resorted to repression, corruption, and support for jihadist and other ultra-reactionary groups. The crackdown has further antagonized Erdoğan’s opponents in the state and society — they are eagerly awaiting his fall.

Erdoğan’s aim is to polarize society, barbarizing political discourse to stoke far-right elements while shoring up his right-wing base. He’s installed some of his most militant and fanatic supporters in media and business posts previously occupied by Gülenists (followers of the exiled cleric and former Erdoğan ally Fethullah Gülen, who Erdogan has accused of fomenting the failed July 2016 coup).

But his plan isn’t foolproof. On the one hand, Erdoğan’s aggressive actions could boost the AKP’s right-wing support in both the state and the broader society. On the other hand, there is still a significant share of the AKP voter base that is disillusioned, if not flatly opposed to the authoritarian discourse their party has adopted. Erdoğan is therefore on a tightrope: he must always consider the proper balance between his mass base and the radicalized militant elements, both of which he needs to stay in power.

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Climate Crisis and the State of Disarray

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 21:44

via ROAR

by William C. Anderson

We are indebted to the Earth. Our gracious host has provided us with more than enough resources to live, grow and prosper over time. But throughout history, and especially in the modern capitalist era, some have let their desire for more become a perilous dedication to conquest. The urge to make other humans, wildlife and all parts of nature submit to the will of markets, nations and empires is the rule of the day. Today, anything associated with nature or a true respect for it is regarded as soft. That which is not vulturous like the destructive economics of the reigning system is steamrolled to pave the road to unhinged expansion.

This logic of expansion and conquest undoubtedly changes the relationship between humans and their environment. In this context, the “debate” over climate change actually becomes a matter of human survival. Those who entertain climate change as a question at all have already, maybe unknowingly, chosen a side. The fact is that climate change will create more refugees and forced human migrations; it will lead to the murder of environmental activists around the world and start new resource wars; it will spread disease and destabilize everything in its path — and more. Unless capitalism’s unquenchable thirst for natural resources and the fossil fuel combustion that powers it is abandoned, the Earth will be forced to do away with humans cancerously plundering the carbon energy it has stored over millions of years of natural history.

What is most unfortunate is that capitalism, which has multi-layered discriminations encoded within it — racism, sexism, classism, and so on — affects how thoroughly people are capable of bracing for the damages wrought by climate change. Though nature is indiscriminate in its wrath, the sustained ability to protect oneself from rising temperatures and natural disasters is a privilege not all can afford. Those who are already harmed under the pitiless whims of capital are doubly hurt by the lack of protection afforded to them for life in an increasingly turbulent environment. The Global South is much more likely to feel the brunt of climate change, despite contributing much less to causing it. But even in the world’s wealthiest nations, the poor and working classes are much more vulnerable to ecological devastation.

If the people who understand the gravity of the situation want this state of affairs to cease, then the system of capitalism and the egregious consumption of the so-called First World itself must cease. That which puts all of us at risk cannot be tolerated. The vast satisfactions in wealth hoarded by a few does not outweigh the needs of the many suffering the consequences every day, as the Earth deals with malignant human behavior. The systemic drive towards excess that is pushing the planet’s carrying capacity to the brink must be brought to a halt throughout the world, but especially in the empire that exemplifies excess best: the United States of America.

The Myth of “The Nanny State”

Ever since Donald Trump became president, crisis and disarray have been regular in an extraordinary sense. Not that the United States hasn’t always been this way; it has been for many of those oppressed within this society. But the dramatic events unfolding today have been very confronting for those who are only now realizing that progress — or the things that represent it symbolically — can be done away with overnight.

In the midst of an onslaught of draconian far-right legislation, the liberal establishment has failed to muster a convincing rebuff. This is due in part to complicity in the shift towards the right, and in part due to a more general crisis of confidence within liberalism. But what is also failing today is the state itself. At a time when environmental, social and economic crises are running out of control amid authoritarian overreach, the state seems to be in a moment of purposeful neglect and disarray. This is leading people to take the response to the confluence of crises into their own hands, raising the question of the state’s raison d’être to begin with.

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Open the Borders! Welcoming Climate Refugees

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 17:23

via ROAR

by April Humble

very minute, twenty-five people are displaced somewhere in the world — a fourfold increase compared to ten years ago. At the same time, international borders are becoming more and more difficult to cross for the undesired, the persecuted and the poor.

Recent developments in Europe and North America highlight the growing centrality of migration to the political debates and social struggles of the early twenty-first century. In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union following a campaign marked by fierce anti-immigration rhetoric. In November that year, Donald Trump won the US presidential elections while dog-whistling white supremacists and boasting of the “great wall” he was going to build at the Mexican border.

These developments were accompanied by a surge in support for right-wing nationalist parties across Europe, right off the back of a major “refugee crisis” that saw over 2.3 million people enter Europe irregularly, 80 percent of them arriving from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan ― all countries suffering ongoing conflict and political instability. According to UNHCR, an unprecedented 65.6 million people worldwide have now been forcibly displaced from their homes.

One factor that is often left out of these political debates, however, is the role played by climate change as an amplifier of push factors behind human migration everywhere. This is particularly true in areas where political, economic and social forces diminish the capacity for adaptation. Climate change will undermine many countries’ ability to support their respective populations, pushing up migration rates across the globe. In a rapidly warming world, the rules of border control clearly need to be rewritten to make migration an option for those fleeing the consequences of climate destabilization in their home countries.

Border Security

Following 9/11, a dangerous love affair blossomed between Western leaders and the notion of border security, against the backdrop of a radical escalation in the Global War on Terror. Today, a decade and a half later, the official response to increased global migration flows is entrenching this narrative ― of migrants as a threat to Western security, society and culture, and of border security as the only possible answer ― in the minds of millions.

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Chelsea Manning: ‘I’m a very different person than I was 10 years ago’

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 15:33

via The Guardian

by Ed Pilkington

A few weeks after Chelsea Manning was released from military prison, having served seven years of a 35-year sentence for leaking official secrets, she came to a terrible realization. “I was out, but I saw that while I had been away, the prison had moved out here as well. That’s how I feel. I feel like I haven’t left, we’ve just exchanged prisons.”

That grim assessment, that even in freedom she was trapped within a prison, dawned on her as she walking one day through the streets of Brooklyn. The New York borough has a reputation for hipster cool, but she was shocked to see so many heavily armed police.

“There was this immense police presence and they were militarized. I’ve been part of an occupying force in a foreign country, and I know what that looks like. That’s what I saw in Brooklyn – an occupying force.”

Her powerful fear about what America has become in the seven years of her incarceration, combined with an equally powerful determination to do something about it lies behind Chelsea Manning’s announcement this week that she is running for a US Senate seat.

Fear and determination – you could say that has been her dual hallmark since she made the fateful decision in 2010 to leak a vast trove of 700,000 secret documents when she was working as an intelligence analyst at a US military base in Iraq.

In the first interview Manning, 30, has given since she posted details of her Senate bid on Twitter, the Guardian asked her whether she drew a straight line between becoming one of the most famous – and most severely punished – official leakers in US history and her political ambitions today. “It’s certainly not a direct line,” she said. “It’s windy, a lot has happened. I’m a very different person than I was 10 years ago.”

People want to shut dissent down. We have to push back. I’m not going to be deterred by someone saying horrible things

But there are certainly parallels between the two events. It was an act of extreme courage – some would, and did, say folly – to download and transmit war logs, embassy cables, videos and Guantánamo files to WikiLeaks. It is an act of extreme courage – some might, and are, saying folly – to run for the US Senate.

There’s also a profound dichotomy to be found somewhere along that winding road between her May 2010 arrest and her new campaign: she wouldn’t have the global platform she enjoys today were it not for the at times brutal treatment she received at the hands of the US military. How does she make sense of such opposites?

“I haven’t made sense of it,” she said. “And I don’t think there has to be an explanation. I learned very quickly that my experience in prison has shaped my understanding of the world.”

We meet, appropriately on the first anniversary of President Obama’s commutation of Manning’s sentence, in her apartment outside Washington DC. It has a large living room that is full of light, but strangely empty and devoid of human touch, as though she had replicated, albeit more comfortably, the spartan aesthetic of a prison cell. The walls are almost bare besides prints of Oscar Wilde and anarchist Emma Goldman above the fireplace, and a copy of Manning’s commutation letter.

She is dressed in black, as she was in the video launching the Senate campaign in which she carried a red rose as symbol of political resistance. In the bright light of the room, her eyes are piercingly blue-grey, topped by a slash of pink eye shadow. She wears a silver necklace with a hashtag pendant; asked why, she replies without hesitation: “Twitter … got me out of prison.”

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The Catalan Integral Cooperative

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 15:00


by Ted Trainer

This is a remarkable and inspiring movement in Spain, now involving hundreds of people in what I regard as an example of The Simpler Way transition strategy … which is primarily about going underneath the conventional economy to build our own new collective economy to meet community needs, turning our backs on and deliberately undermining and eventually replacing both the capitalist system and control by the state.

The context.

It is now abundantly clear that a just and sustainable world cannot be achieved unless consumer-capitalist society is basically scrapped. It involves levels of resource use and environmental impact that are already grossly unsustainable, yet growth is the supreme goal. The basic form the alternative must take is not difficult to imagine. (For the detail see TSW: Summary Case.) The essential concept must be mostly small, highly self-sufficient and self-governing communities in which we can live frugally but well putting local resources directly into producing to meet local needs … without allowing market forces or the profit motive or the global economy to determine what happens.

Unfortunately even many green and left people do not grasp the magnitude of the De-growth that is required. We will probably have to go down to around 10% of the present rich world per capita levels of resource use. This can only be done in the kind of settlements and systems we refer to as The Simpler Way. Most of the alarming global problems now threatening our survival, especially ecological damage, resource depletion, conflict over resources and markets, and deteriorating social cohesion, cannot be solved unless we achieve a global transition to a general settlement pattern of this kind.

For some time the Eco-village and Transition Towns movements have been developing elements of the alternative we need to build, and there are impressive radically alternative development initiatives in the Third World, notably the Zapatistas and the Kurdish PKK. But the Catalan Integral Cooperative provides us with an inspiring demonstration of what can be done and what we need to take up.

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Freedom Rider: Oligarch Jeff Bezos

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 23:26

via Black Agenda Report

by Margaret Kimberley

“Republicans and Democrats alike are willing to turn over government coffers to Bezos and his ilk and the rights of the people be damned.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $105 billion and is the richest man in the world. But he is not just the richest man at this moment in history. He is the richest person who has ever lived. As of 2017 he and seven other billionaires had a collective net worth equal to that of the poorest 3.6 billion people on earth.

These figures have been in the news of late but without much useful analysis. The corporate media refuse to state what is obvious. Namely that inequality is worse around the world precisely because these super rich people demand it.

While pundits and politicians go on breathlessly about oligarchs in Russia, they seldom take a look at the wealthiest in their own back yard and the control they exert over the lives of millions of people. When Amazon announced it would choose a site for its new headquarters cities across the country began a furious race to the bottom. Amazon is not alone in the thievery department. Major corporations like Walmart always request and receive public property and public funds in order to do business.

“Boston offering $75 million to Amazon while Houston is willing to part with $268 million.”

Some 235 cities have put themselves in the running for this dubious venture. Chicago is willing to give Amazon $1.3 billion in payroll taxes that prospective employees would ordinarily pay that city. If Chicago wins this booby prize Amazon employees would pay taxes to their employer and not to the government. This is truly cutting out the middle man and makes real the rule of, by, and for the wealthiest.

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The Alarming Rise of Virgin Care – and Branson’s threat to the NHS

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 18:06

This article was published on 11 January 2018 by the SolFed group in Manchester.

Good old Sir Richard Branson has once again managed to get himself to the front of the queue for state handouts. Having spent years channeling public money into massive profits at Virgin Rail, he is now turning his attention to milking the NHS. Figures released in January 2018 show that his company, Virgin Care, won a record £1billion worth of NHS contracts in 2017.

Added to already existing contracts, this means that Virgin Care now has over 400 separate NHS contracts. Funny how these arch free market capitalists, such as Branson, seem to be able to swallow their anti-state principles when it comes to claiming state subsidies. Good old Sir Richard even took this to the extent of suing the NHS in 2017 when Virgin Care lost an £82million contract. In the process he won an undisclosed sum that otherwise would have been wasted on treating sick people.

However, try not worry, capitalist pin up boy Branson’s love of the state does not extend to paying UK taxes. All his companies come under a single parent company, Virgin Group Holdings, based in the Virgin Islands, which just happens to be a tax haven. He has moved on since being prosecuted for tax evasion in 1971, learning quickly that it is OK not to pay taxes in the UK just as long as you wealthy enough and well enough connected.

Perhaps we are being a bit too cynical here; after all, when it was first disclosed that good old Sir Richard pays no UK taxes, he explained that he lived on his private Caribbean island, Necker Island, for health rather than tax reasons. No doubt he will bring this concern for health the NHS to ensure that Virgin Care runs its contracts in the same way Virgin Rail runs trains. The difference, however, is that the “customers” will pay the cost, not in terms of overcrowded and continually late trains, but rather in terms of damage to their health.

Nor should we run away with the idea that Branson’s failings are limited to Virgin trains. Behind the winning smile and easy manner, the country’s favourite entrepreneur has a long history of failed businesses. Virgin Cola, hailed by Branson in 1994 as the inevitable successor to Coca-Cola, has practically disappeared. Virgin Clothes, launched on the stock exchange in 1996, folded with losses to shareholders. Virgin Money was launched with a glitzy advertisement featuring Branson emerging naked from the sea, but did not deliver the expected big financial rewards. Then came Virgin Vie, Virgin Vision, Virgin Vodka, Virgin Wine, Virgin Jeans, Virgin Brides, Virgin Cosmetics and Virgin Cars, none of them fulfilling their creator’s inflated dreams.

Virgin Express, an airline based in Brussels, was intended to rival easyJet, but the original investors on the stock market lost their money. Similarly, the McCarthy brothers, who invested over £30m in V2, Branson’s second music company, lost all their money and faced personal bankruptcy. Australians who invested in the 2003 flotation of Virgin Blue, a no-frills airline, rewarded Branson with over £200m for a stake of his original investment. Initially the airline was successful, but soon after Branson pocketed the money, shareholders watched the share price fall. Similarly, plans in which GPs would be paid or, more accurately bribed for referring NHS patients to private Virgin services were abandoned in June 2008. The BMA warned that the plan would “damage clinical objectivity”, as there would be a financial incentive for GPs to push patients toward the Virgin services.

Nor is the problem limited to the fact that the only way good old Sir Richard seems able to make companies successful is by ripping off either the taxpayer or the investors. Over the years he has been involved some “underhanded business practices” – we can never use the term “criminal activities” when discussing what rich people get up to. For example, in 2006 competition authorities in both the UK and US investigated price-fixing activities by Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. British Airways was fined £271 million over the allegations while good old Sir Richard received no fine, which the Office of Fair Trading defended as being in the “public interest”, as Virgin Atlantic had cooperated in helping to prosecute British Airways.

Given good old Sir Richard’s dodgy record, you might be wondering why the Tories are handing over NHS contracts to Virgin. Well, there is a bit of a problem here. The Tories, for ideological reasons, hate the NHS; in fact they hate just about any human activity not motivated by greed and narrow self-interest. But they face a British electorate that steadfastly refuses to accept the free market orthodoxy that the level of health care received should be determined by the size of a person’s purse. Knowing that outright privatisation would result in electoral suicide, the Tories have embarked on a two stage privatisation. They are running the NHS into the ground by starving it of funds while, at the same time, slowly selling off the NHS a piece at a time.

The first part of the strategy is well underway with the NHS in a state of almost permanent crisis. At the time of writing, we are in the middle of the annual “winter crisis”. The aim of this state of permanent crisis is to slowly erode confidence in the NHS until a point where people feel there is little choice but wholesale privatisation. We are now constantly being told that the nation can no longer afford the NHS. The second part of the strategy is also beginning to pick up a pace. The figures for 2017 show that £3.1bn of NHS contracts were won by private sector companies, which represents more than two fifths (43%) of a total of £7.2bn in contracts tendered by the NHS, and outstrips the £2.55bn (35%) of tenders won by NHS trusts. Meanwhile, that other privatisation Trojan horse, the “not-for-profit” sector, won £1.53bn (21%) of contracts. Given this scale of privatisation, it is only a question of time before the NHS becomes a minority provider of health services.

In going about privatisation, the Tories have learnt a trick or two from that close friend of good old Sir Richard, good old Tony Blair, by keeping services free at the point of use while slowly privatising the service providers. The problem is that these privatised service providers often make a complete hash of things. There are numerous examples to choose from: Serco ended its contract to provide out of hours GPs after staff falsified data about its performance while Coperforma’s £63.5m takeover of non-urgent patient transport to hospital ended shambolically after patients awaiting dialysis and chemotherapy missed vital appointments. The point here is that, if the Tories’ privatisation plans are to work, you cannot have companies that take over NHS services continually fucking things up.

Enter man of the people and all round Mr Nice Guy, good old Sir Richard. Though his reputation may have been tarnished of late, the one thing Branson is good at, apart from making money, is public relations. A few well placed, well publicised donations to the right causes, along with the backing of the media, and it is not hard to see him regain his status as a national treasure, a national treasure at the head of an increasingly monolithic private health provider kept afloat by public subsidies and capable of challenging the dominance of the NHS. This, in other words, is a Tory wet dream, which might explain why Virgin Care won just under a third of the total number of NHS contracts awarded to the private sector in 2017.

As anarcho-syndicalists, we have many criticisms of the way the NHS works, not least its totally undemocratic structures. Though we favour a community controlled and run health service, we find the prospect of people’s health being handed over to the tender loving care of the likes of Branson utterly appalling. So be aware, if privatisation is not stopped and you are unfortunate enough to get ill, you may be faced with having to look at giant pictures of the smiling face of good old Sir Richard in the ambulance, in the hospital, in the operating theatre and, well, just about everywhere. Some might think death would be more preferable. Let’s hope for better luck next time good old Sir Richard crashes his hot air balloon!

We’re Not Done Here

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 18:00

via Long Reads

by Laurie Penny

Oh, girls, look what we’ve done now. We’ve gone too far. The growing backlash against the MeToo movement has finally settled on a form that can face itself in the mirror. The charge is hysteria, moral panic, hatred of sex, hatred of men. More specifically, as Andrew Sullivan complained in New York magazine this week, “the righteous exposure of hideous abuse of power had morphed into a more generalized revolution against the patriarchy.” Well, yes. That’s rather the point.

Sullivan is far from the only one to accuse the MeToo movement of becoming a moral panic about sexuality itself, and he joins a chorus of hand-wringers warning that if this continues — well, men will lose their jobs unjustly, and what could be worse than that, really? The story being put about is that women, girls, and a few presumably hoodwinked men are now so carried away by their “anger” and “temporary power” that, according to one piece in the Atlantic, they have become “dangerous.” Of course — what could be more terrifying than an angry, powerful woman, especially if you secretly care a little bit more about being comfortable than you do about justice? This was always how the counter-narrative was going to unfold: It was always going to become a meltdown about castrating feminist hellcats whipping up their followers into a Cybelian frenzy, interpreting any clumsy come-on as an attempted rape and murder. We know what happens when women get out of control, don’t we?

Charges like this are serious. Too serious to dismiss out of hand. I don’t mean to do so, not least because I am a queer person, and I do not take the notion of sex panic lightly. Why, then, are so many people so anxious to believe that this is one? There is at least one simple answer. It is easier — much, much easier — to manufacture an attack on sexuality than it is to imagine an attack on patriarchy.

Sex is not the problem. Sexism is the problem, along with the upsetting multitudes of men and women who seem unable or unwilling to make the distinction. An attack on sexuality, however, will always find recruits from across the political spectrum as well as from armies of amoral keyboard droppers who just want to read about what celebrities get up to in hotel rooms. An attack on patriarchy, male supremacy, and sexual oppression — that is far harder to accept. It is far harder to allow. Easier to transpose it into a key of prurience and wait for the whole thing to stroke itself into exhaustion. But — forgive me — if you think this movement has blown its load already, you’ve no idea how women work, and you’ve no clue what’s coming.


Alright, ladies, you’ve had your fun, and you’ve given us all a fright — but that’s enough now. If we relegate this all-out revolt against male sexual entitlement to the kitchen shelf where it belongs, everyone would be a lot more comfortable — at least, the men in the room would be, and we all know that’s what really matters.

Just look at what happened to poor old Aziz Ansari. They warned us that this sort of thing was coming, and we didn’t listen. A famous and successful man in his 30s goes on a date with an unfamous woman in her 20s, they go home together, he pesters her for a shag, she isn’t strong enough to say no or slap him away like a real woman ought to, like women used to do back in the day, so like the snowflake she is, she gets upset and goes home — and we all know how this one goes. He wins an award, and she decides to take revenge. She goes to the press, the press report the encounter in cringeworthy suck-by-blow detail, the feminazi #MeToo hive-vagina takes over, the hysteria mill rattles into overdrive, and boom — just like that, his career is over. Now everyone’s calling the poor guy a monster and a rapist. He’s blacklisted from every network. He’ll never work again. Another fallen soldier in the sex wars. Predictable. Tragic. Just goes to show how weak modern women really are, how much they hate men and sex, how they always take things too far, how they never miss a chance to play the victim.

At least, that’s what it might’ve gone to show if any of that had actually happened. What actually happened was quite different.

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Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:50

via CounterPunch
by Jonah Raskin

An associate professor of history at Georgia State University in Atlanta, with degrees from Michigan State and Columbia, John  McMillan is the author of the best book about the underground press. Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America (Oxford University Press) looks at the past though the lens of the present and the present though the lens of the past.

Written with panache and a keen appreciation of rebel journalists and reporters, McMillan’s book has appealed to both students and teachers and elicited praise from Tom Hayden, Susan Brownmiller—the author of a distinguished memoir about the Sixties —and Todd Gitlin, the author of the classic, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.

This spring, Columbia University hosts a series of events to commemorate, memorialize and perhaps even abuse 1968. Fittingly, Professor McMillan kicked off the series with a talk in Butler Library in January titled “The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America.” The festivities at Columbia culminate April 27-28, with the return to campus of former student rebels including Mark Rudd. The following interview with McMillan was conducted by email just as he was preparing his talk.

Q: Has it struck you that the phrase “the underground press” was a misnomer since the newspapers weren’t produced, published and distributed clandestinely?

A: Yes, the “underground press” was a bit of a misnomer. The overwhelming majority of “underground newspapers” sold openly, at bookstores, newsstands and on the street. Some publications better deserve the underground label. GI publications during the Vietnam War were often published and distributed clandestinely. Fuck You! (A Magazine of the Arts), was a crudely mimeographed, poetry-centered magazine that Ed Sanders published and distributed secretly, in NYC’s East Village, from 1962-1965. You could get it from behind the counter at just a handful of stores.

Q: What do you think the phrase “underground press” initially meant to those who worked for it and those who relied on it for information?

A: The first underground papers—the Los Angeles Free Press, the Berkeley Barb, and the East Village Other— appealed to self-styled cultural outlaws, radical intellectuals, beatniks, eccentrics and artists. Underground papers could seem genuinely subversive, openly flouting society’s conventions and, by the late 1960s, they championed the revolutionary overthrow of the U.S. government.

Q: Some papers, such as The Oracle, seemed to care as much if not more about the look than the content. The design and the artwork made them a challenge to read and understand. Perhaps that was intentional since the papers were aimed at the cognoscenti. 

A: Yes, many of the papers associated with the counterculture produced very creatively designed layouts. Prose could be fitted around swirling drawings, and photo collages. And some of the papers used split-fountain printing techniques, which allowed them to blend colorful inks and create beautiful rainbow effects on their pages (no two of which were ever exactly alike). It was rumored that The Oracle received funding from Owsley Stanley, the infamous LSD chemist.

Q: I enjoyed The Seed and The Great Speckled Bird, for example, more than The Rat. Do you think it helpful to say that some papers where aimed at “freaks” rather than “hippies”?

A. I found the The Rat very interesting, when I was exploring radicalism on NYC’s Lower East Side, which is where The Ratwas produced. But it often had an ugly, angry, macho energy.

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Of “Shitholes” and Liberals

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:38

via Counterpunch

by Andrew Day

President Trump’s reported comment that the U.S. should block immigration from “shithole countries” was vile, and the outraged response is warranted.

But liberals have – not for the first time – utterly misfired in their counter-attack. One gets the impression that Trump’s remarks were repulsive because they were “vulgar,” and that his proposal would have been more digestible had it been palatably phrased.

Sensing this critique’s deficiencies, technocratic liberals explained that we should welcome Haitians because immigrants contribute to our wealth. Analyses of this sort tacitly assume we should outsource the crafting of immigration policies to neoliberalism itself, reducing human beings to arithmetical marks on a cold, cost/benefit ledger. More sentimental liberals have opined that individuals from troubled nations are ipso facto strong-willed, and so should be treated warmly. This is too ludicrous a psychological theory to be entertained by thinking people, and implies that immigrants who are frightened, vulnerable, and unable to cope without assistance should be denied our help on that basis.

So what is vile about the President’s remarks?

Consider the plight of Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest country, which Trump singled out during his tirade. Haiti is not a “shithole,” but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. and other Western powers from crapping on it for centuries. Perhaps no single country better exemplifies the destruction wrought by Western Empire than Haiti. That sordid history is impactful, contemptible – and ignored.

After landing on Hispaniola in 1492, Christopher Columbus and his men all but exterminated the native population. Spain and later France thus had to import African slaves to cultivate the island’s plantations. In 1804, the Republic of Haiti was born from a black slave revolt in Saint-Domingue, against France, after centuries of colonial domination. Haitians designated their new nation a refuge for enslaved peoples everywhere, at a time when the U.S. president was a slaveholder who had repeatedly raped and impregnated his daughter’s fourteen-year-old chambermaid. Because white Americans feared their own slaves might get bad ideas, the U.S. refused to recognize Haiti’s legitimacy.

Under Woodrow Wilson, U.S. marines invaded Haiti to protect American business interests. The brutal occupation lasted until 1934, when President Roosevelt succumbed to Haitian opposition and allowed a military withdrawal. The U.S. retained a measure of control over its neighbor’s economy, ensuring Haiti’s national resources would primarily benefit its industrial interests. In the tumultuous decades since, Haiti has oscillated between democracy and military rule. It is a shameful fact that during Haiti’s years of tyranny and deprivation, the U.S. refused entry to Haitian refugees fleeing oppression, torture, and murder.

This heartlessness is not ancient history. In 2009, a year following the Clorox food riots (“named after hunger so painful that it felt like bleach in your stomach”) the Haitian Parliament unanimously raised the minimum wage to five dollars a day. This was unacceptable. Diplomatic cables reveal that Haiti bowed to intense U.S. diplomatic pressure to roll back the new wage, carving out an exception for textile manufacturing. Though the American embassy remained displeased that so exorbitant a wage was ever conceded to “the unemployed and underpaid masses,” the crisis was averted, and Haitian workers in garment factories today are paid a fourth of what Haitian families need to subsist. Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, Levi’s, Dockers, and Nautica benefit handsomely from U.S. interventionism. Haitians, however, do not.

Such uncomfortable details problematize the liberal reaction to Trump’s hateful comments. Consider the response from Hillary Clinton, who led the State Department during the U.S. assault on rising wages. Clinton sanctimoniously lamented that Trump’s comments were “ignorant,” and called on America to affirm its “commitment to helping our neighbors.” If “neighbors” refers to the people who live in Haiti, rather than to the sweatshop owners who serve U.S. interests, it is not clear what “commitment” she is referring to. Clinton has her own reasons to cover the history of U.S – Haiti relations in the warm glow of American exceptionalism. Others should not follow her lead. Trump’s proposal to deport Haitian refugees to their decimated home country is unacceptable precisely because we have not been very neighborly.

The Pollyanna response of liberals to the President’s crudity is consistent with the general myopia of anti-Trumpism. The standard liberal critique of Trump is primarily aesthetic, utterly eliding the historical admixture of racism, corporatism, and imperialism that constitutes the state he now heads. To more effectively oppose Trump’s anti-immigration agenda, we should begin to take responsibility for our role in immiserating Haiti and other countries. By doing so, we can more credibly show that it is the underlying rationale of Trump’s “America First” program – not his illiterate attempts to describe it – that deserves our contempt and opposition.

Andrew Day is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science and an Instructor of Chicago Field Studies at Northwestern University.

Manarchy Response, From the Authors

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 05:03

Our article from a few weeks ago entitled, “Stick It To
The Manarchy”
generated a lot of response
and enthusiasm. We have a response to the criticism,
clarifying a few points along with our analysis
of the dialogue.

People offered both positive and negative criticism, and
we have learned through this process. We
feel this dialogue is a vital element of a movement
dedicated to challenging oppression. We do not
claim that we are the most knowledgeable on these
issues, and we certainly haven’t escaped the
oppressive mindsets the system is based on. We make
assumptions that contribute to oppression,
but we are actively working to first recognize and then
change these assumptions in ourselves. We
are not claiming authority, or insisting that we are
right. Rather, we are sharing our thoughts in order
to engage in a learning process that
involves the greater community. This is why response
is so important. This is not a process we can
do alone.

Our criticism of manarchy and its implications is our
way of contributing to the dialogue.
Competitive, aggressive, elitist, and exclusive behavior
is contrary to our understanding of anarchist
ideals and practice. “Manarchy” is the term we use to
describe this behavior because it exemplifies
traditional male gender roles. Many people are
uncomfortable with the use of this word because it
suggests, contrary to our understanding, that only/all
men exhibit manarchist behavior. Because we
are not saying that manarchist behavior is inherent to
any particular sex, some people have
questioned the importance of associating it with a
specific gender. However, the conduct we
describe is the same behavior that men have
traditionally used to hold and justify their positions
power in a patriarchal society. The word itself is not
central to our point, and we are happy to hear
suggestions for alternatives.


People frequently pointed out that women can act
militantly. We agree. There are many dedicated
women who effectively use militant tactics.
Simultaneously, women are not exempt from what we
call “manarchy.” In our previous article, we should
have made this more clear.

People’s criticisms were based on our lack of clarity as
well as a more obvious mistake. After
quoting Slip’s analysis about “no compromise”, we used
the “universal” pronoun “his” for an
ungendered quote. This word choice reinforces the very
sexism and exclusion that we are trying to
dismantle. We are thankful that Slip responded, and
pointed out that we “are trapped in [our] own
confines of maleness as well.” We apologize and will
strive to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

We do not believe that militant behavior is specific to
men, nor any category of age, race, or
economic status. However, many people misinterpret our
message. For example, in Dave Hill’s
response he
quotes us as saying, “many women, people of color,
young and elderly do not have what it takes
[to participate in the manarchist revolution].” A few
sentences later he asks, “Is it productive here to
take all women, people of color, young and elderly out
of your analysis of ‘manarchy’? are
‘manarchists’ only white men?” (NYC Indy Media). Dave
takes our “many” and reinterprets it as
“all.” This word switch significantly changes our
intention by taking an observation and turning it
into a generalization about sex, race, and class and
it’s relationship to behavior. As we said above,
anybody can act militantly. In our previous article,
after our discussion of the term “warrior”, which
the dictionary defines as “a man”, we say “we urge the
warrior to direct his or her negative energies
at the system.” Yet, we’ve seen that most people who
act exclusive, competitive, and macho at
mass actions – the people who direct negative energies
towards other people in the movement – are
white, male, and often middle class. This is why we use
the word “many”. This belief could be
because of our backgrounds and we invite people to share
their observations.

A few responses questioned our criticism of the term
“warrior”. We recognize that the term can be
used in an empowering way. On the other hand, as one
collective writes, “As to your views on
‘manarchism’, they seem to correspond very closely to
our general criticism, discussed and
elaborated more than a decade ago, of the development of
the so-called ‘street-fighter’ political
(sub)culture, its roots, interdependencies
and consequences. We also call it ‘anarchist Ramboism’,
and identify its roots partly, just like you,
in the macho culture of the bourgeois society,”
(e-mail). The question is, are we reclaiming
“warrior” and revolutionizing its meaning or is
“warrior” merely a way to justify manarchist


When we were writing the article we defined who we are
in order to show where we are coming
from. Among other things, we said that we are
anarchists, march in the Black Bloc, and are
supportive of direct action. This way, readers would
understand that we are writing a critique from
within the movement. We also felt pressured to “prove”
ourselves by listing our militant history, but
this would have fallen into the same trap that we are
criticizing. Because we didn’t dwell on our
militant history, many people who responded assumed we
are pacifists, “fluffy,” and/or against
militancy, despite our saying, “we are not critiquing
militant tactics, nor are we critiquing people who
use them.” Some not only assumed things about us, but
judged us according to those assumptions.
We wonder how our argument would have been received if
we had said that we’ve collectively
been to jail 4 times for 13 days, hit with batons 17
times, pepper-sprayed 5 times, tear-gassed
once, de-arrested 5 of our comrades, broken 2 windows,
led 1 police charge, and told a cop to
“fuck off” at least 212 times.

We support aggressive tactics if they are strategically
useful. We are fully aware of and endorse
tactical purposes of the black bloc including obscuring
identities and supporting those who are
willing to break the law. However, we do see a problem
when people use aggressive tactics and
then hold them up as trophies in order to claim
authority, or in order to indulge their own self-image
as better radicals. Our definition of manarchy includes
“acting macho, holier-than-thou, and elitist,”
but it is possible to be militant without being
manarchist. As we said, we have observed a specific
type of militancy that displays manarchist behavior and
is based on “battle wounds”, “toughness,”
“purity”, “insulting allies”, and not acting in
solidarity with people who use different tactics.
However, we agree with Slip that there is a “need of
militancy, defiance, and fundamental
subversion of the system.”

To clarify our position on no-compromise, we feel that
no one should compromise one’s ideals. If
you think you can survive without compromising
tactically, then do it. However, don’t ostracize
others for their tactical choices. We’re skeptical that
anyone can “not compromise.” How are we
going to get to the next mass action without
compromising? Train-hopping, stealing gas, bio-diesel,
and bicycling are not options for everyone. This is why
we question the abundant declaration of
“no-compromise”, and this is why we need a movement that
supports tactical diversity.


Constructive criticism is an integral part of building a
large, effective, and revolutionary movement.
Dialogue is important because it forces one to
reconsider one’s beliefs as well as learn about other
perspectives, evolving the politics of our movement.
One should consider what the specific critique
accomplishes and aim to not only improve the politics of
our movement but to also increase its
numbers. There are some potential problems in this
process; one wants to speak one’s mind, but
doesn’t want to alienate people. Thus, one must frame
criticisms carefully in ways that don’t
compromise the message and at the same time don’t insult
potential allies.

We also want to point out that although self criticism
is very important, the movement should not get
so caught up in it that we lose sight of our goals and
targets. While building a society without
oppression, we need to find a balance between internal
dialogue and actually changing the
structures of society.

In reading responses, we found our emotional reaction
was often determined by the way others
framed their argument. Many criticisms enabled us to
seriously consider whether aspects of our
position were flawed. On the other hand, many insulted
us. In these cases, there’s a part of us that
gets mad and wants to dismiss the entire response. It’s
difficult to be told that we are wrong and or
to be discounted as if we are not committed to anarchist
ideology. We are doing our best to not get
offended, to admit our faults, and work to improve

Through this process, it became clear to us how
important it is to clearly outline and explain
criticisms to each other. For example, we were told
“how dare you pontificate from the privallige
of your college room about the actions taken by those
most affected by the brutallity of everyday
living under capitalism,”(email). Referring to our
status as college students does not address the
actual content of the respondent’s criticism, and we
feel it is not constructive to invalidate our entire
argument because of who we are. Similarly, one person
responded by signing: “go to hell,” (nyc
indymedia). We understand our position may anger
people, and while we support self-expression,
insults do not help us reach an understanding of each
other’s convictions.

We also received several sarcastic messages. For
example, “Heretoo!,” at NYC-Indymedia,
mockingly writes, “We must exclude all manly men from
the movement. We must establish quotas
for inclusion of feminized males. All males seeking
entry into the movement must either prove their
femininity, or be administered adequate amounts of
estrogen until such time as that they can prove
that they are as wise, intelligent and all knowing as
oracles who penned this article. All males
presently in the movement must begin a self flagellation
process on the basis of their gender
immediately.” While such responses may be attempting to
give a useful critique of our article, they
result in alienating us from their messages. From the
sarcasm, we understand that “Heretoo!” does
not like what we say, but we don’t come to a deeper
understanding of the differences between our

Moreover, insults create an air of aggression and
hostility. This encourages a climate where we not
only tell allies to “fuck off” but generally dismiss
people and consider them unimportant. One
correspondent writes “The snarky responses your piece is
getting on Indymedia are just more
evidence of the need to challenge the entrenched
machismo of many activists” (e-mail). Our critique
of manarchy is like our critique of sarcastic and
purposely insulting feedback. We find them to be
alienating, divisive, and counterproductive. With this
dynamic, being in a consensus meeting, doing
jail solidarity, and putting our bodies on the line in
order to protect people is nearly impossible.

In addition to the way we were criticized, we sometimes
had a hard time understanding the
criticisms. “Methree” writes: “And some of the
aforementioned perpetrators were not only male
but white too! Oh the horror! Yes! ‘WHATEVER WORKS’
Right on.! What doesn’t work:
‘politically correct racism’ and stagnating the movement
with outmoded ‘identity politics.” (NYC
Indymedia). We understand that “Methree” takes a
different position than we do, but we don’t
understand what s/he’s talking about. In order to
improve we need to know what it is we are doing,
why it is bad, and how we can fix it. For example, it
would be useful to have identity politics
defined, see evidence of our “politically correct
racism,” and hear arguments against or for
“whatever works.”

More disturbing are the responses that deny our
experience that manarchy exists. In these cases,
critics reinterpret the examples we give. Anarchocommie

As to the person who claimed that anyone who is not
willing to get beat up, should not be in a
black bloc… I do not believe I was at whatever meeting
you are referring to, yet I suspect that the
rationale behind this persons statements were as
follows: the point of a black bloc (from a tactical
perspective) is to protect the identities of those who
are in them, since most people there are more
willing to engage in actions outside of the constraints
of the law, and which can generally be
described at confrontational…I think this was the
speakers point, not that we should all want to get
beat up, simply that we must recognize it as a
possibility and be willing to protect each other and at
the same time, engage in those confrontational actions”

Anarchocommie discounts our experience of manarchy and
responds as if we are inventing this type
of behavior, but our examples are based on first hand
experiences. We’ve seen this behavior in
people we work with as well as ourselves. However,
Anarchocommie finds it hard to believe that
manarchist behavior exists. Thus, in pure speculation
s/he reinterprets a quote from a meeting that
s/he knows nothing about. S/he takes our experiences
and makes it sound as if we couldn’t
possibly understand what the activist at the meeting had
said, discounting our experiences. Judging
from the responses to the article, we aren’t the only
ones who witness manarchist behavior. We
are certainly prepared to debate whether the examples we
give are accurate, but that is not our
point. We are saying that manarchy occurs and we want
to stop it. The examples are as much to
explain what we mean by manarchy as to expose the flaws
of specific behavior. If people
dogmatically discount the existence of our examples,
they are simultaneously ignoring our message.

We are pleased to have found such a large forum to
discuss these issues. As a movement, we must
be self-critical as a means of growth. We are excited by
the opportunity to dialogue with many new
people. We do not think that public discussion should
replace one on one conversations.
Unfortunately, we have not had time to personally
respond to the majority of comments that were
emailed to us. We appreciate the personal responses and
hope to be emailing people soon.

Let’s keep this discussion going.

In Solidarity,
Maggie, Rayna, Michael, and Matt,
The Rock Bloc.
c/o Student Action Collective
Annandale, NY 12504-5000

The original article along with comments can be found at the following sites:
In order to protect the identities of people who emailed
us, we did not give their names.

Women would lose $4.6 billion in earned tips if the administration’s ‘tip stealing’ rule is finalized

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 03:53

via Economic Policy Institute

By Heidi Shierholz, David Cooper, Julia Wolfe, and Ben Zipperer

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a rule that would make it legal for employers to pocket their workers’ tips, as long as they pay those workers at least the minimum wage. The proposed rule rescinds portions of longstanding DOL regulations that prohibit employers from taking tips.1 We estimate that if the rule is finalized, every year workers will lose $5.8 billion in tips, as tips are shifted from workers to employers.2 Of the $5.8 billion, nearly 80 percent—$4.6 billion—would be taken from women who are working in tipped jobs.3

DOL has masked the fact that this rule would be a windfall to restaurant owners and other employers—out of the pockets of tipped workers—by making it sound as if this rule is about tip pooling. Of course, once employers have full control of tips, one of the things they could do with those tips is distribute them to “back of the house” workers like dishwashers and cooks. But the proposed rule does not require employers to distribute the tips, so employers would be no more likely to share tips with back-of-the-house workers than they would be to make any other choice about what to do with a business windfall, including using the money to make capital improvements to their establishments, to increase executive pay, or to line their own pockets.

Many employers pocket tips even now, when it is illegal for them to do so (for example, research on workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York found that 12 percent of tipped workers had tips stolen from them by their employer or supervisor).4 The fact that illegal tip theft is so prevalent underscores that when employers can legally pocket tips, many will. And basic economic logic dictates that it is highly unlikely that back-of-the-house workers will get more pay. There is currently no limit to what these workers can be paid, so employers are already paying their back-of-the-house workers what they need to pay to attract workers willing to work in those jobs. If employers do share some tips with them, it will likely be offset by a reduction in their base pay, leaving their take-home pay largely unaffected.

The economic effects of this rule are as follows: (1) tipped workers will lose $5.8 billion a year in tips, (2) the take-home pay of back-of-the-house workers will remain largely unchanged, and (3) employers will get a $5.8 billion a year windfall. The $5.8 billion is 16.1 percent of the estimated $36.4 billion in tips earned by tipped workers annually and amounts to more than $1,000 per year on average across all tipped workers.5

Table 1 breaks down the $5.8 billion by gender and by race/ethnicity, and Table 2 breaks down the $5.8 billion by state.6 Table 1 shows that women working in tipped jobs would lose $4.6 billion annually as a result of the rule, while men working in tipped jobs would lose $1.2 billion. In other words, nearly 80 percent of the tips that would be taken by employers as a result of this rule would come out of the pockets of women and their families. (The specific share, calculated from unrounded numbers, is 78.7 percent.) Because women are both more likely to be tipped workers and to earn lower wages, this rule would disproportionately harm them.

Table 1 also shows that white non-Hispanic tipped workers would lose $3.5 billion, black non-Hispanic tipped workers would lose $480.2 million, Hispanic workers of any race would lose $1.4 billion, Asian workers would lose $382.5 million, and tipped workers who are of another race would lose $102.4 million. The differences among these groups can be attributed to several broad factors, including differences among the groups in number of tipped workers, amount of tips earned, and share of tips earned at or above the minimum wage (the last factor matters since, under the proposed rule, employers must pay workers the full minimum wage before they can legally take tips).7 There are likely many root sources of these underlying differences, including differences in job opportunities and pay, discrimination in tipping, and different concentrations of groups in states that allow employers to take large tip credits.

Read more

Welcome to the New Infoshop News Blog

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 03:20

We welcome you to the re-designed and Infoshop News websites. We are still working on some loose ends and adding content, but we hope that you like our new look and fresh content. After 22 years of being one of the oldest, continuously publishing online news websites, we felt that it was time for a new look and other changes that will serve our readers and enable us to publish more. You can expect to see more content posted daily and more original journalism, analysis, and opinion published in the near future.

This blog will be a space for us to publish updates, musings, a few memes, and links to interesting stories being published around the Internet. Like many other publishers in 2018, we are shifting our focus away from corporate-controlled social media to publishing our own content on the open Internet.