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Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth
Updated: 2 hours 3 min ago

Repeal vote still too close to call when likely Don’t Know to No taken into account

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 20:35

via Workers Solidarity Movement

by Andrew Flood

The referendum to remove the clause in the constitution that limits what medical care, including abortion, women in Ireland can access approaches at the end of this month. With another poll appearing this morning we have updated our graph of how that May 25th vote would look IF the polling companies had a similar margin as they had for the Marriage Equality referendum a couple of years back. As you can see they suggest if nothing changes the result of the May 25th, Repeal vote will be too close to call until the count on the 26th.

We are going to post what the polls actually say in the first comment to this story, all the actual polls show Repeal passing. This graphic isn’t a scientific prediction, simply a warning that in reality the result may be too closed to call and so every effort made in the remaining 3 weeks will matter. In 1995 Divorce passed by a tiny margin of votes, about one per ballot box – something similar is possible this time too.

This latest poll is from the Sunday Independent and carried out by KMB. It shows an increase in the No vote. Their raw numbers were:

Yes 45%
No 34%
Don’t Know 18%
No response 4%

In the 2015 Marriage Equality referendum there was a sharp drop in the last week with many Don’t Knows switching to No. There were 4 polls published the weekend before the vote by same range of companies polling this time around and we calculated the error made in each companies poll then and applied to the poll data for the same company this time around. KMB were pretty close, so their adjustment is small. This is explained in more detail in our first piece on this topic, below

This poll would appear to indicate that the No method of spending an enormous amount on online advertising, billboards and posters to spread misleading fear-based messaging is having an impact. We estimate that while Yes have 5 or more times as many volunteers No has 10 or more times the cash. Whereas the source of Yes funds is pretty transparent very little is known as to where 95% of the No spend is coming from, speculation is a lot is coming from outside the country in contravention of the rather toothless SIPO rules which are powerless to prevent online ads being placed from elsewhere.

The question is what will turn out to be more persuasive over the next 3 weeks, the Yes strength of personal contact through canvassing or the No strength of a deluge of online and offline paid advertising. One thing that can be said is Facebook’s failure to introduce meaningful ad transparency is in danger of deciding another vote.

We can also see the problem with referendum campaigns coming through – by their nature they are short term attempts to convince people to come over to a side rather than to change fundamental attitudes. The huge age discrepancy between Yes & No illustrates how central the tactic of playing on deep-seated prejudices against women are for the No campaign. Such prejudices have shifted substantially for most younger voters – there is almost an opposed pre & post 1960s feminism vote at that level, something that can also be observed in the Trump and Brexit votes.

BTW we’ve seen anti-choice spokespeople claim this result reflects how people felt about ‘who won’ the Late Late Repeal show. This isn’t possible as that broadcast was 27th and this polling was carried out from April 18 to 30th, i.e. 3/4 before that broadcast.

Repeal the 8th isn’t in the bag yet – a warning from Marriage equality poll comparisons  – April 30th story

Today we are warning that Repeal the eighth vote can’t be assumed to be already won even through No have failed to increase their vote.  If the same last week shift comes into play as for Marriage Equality & Divorce we are looking at a result to close to call. We are going to explain why we are saying this in detail using polling figures from Marriage Equality and this campaign.  Its going to get a little scary as we go through these but there is hope at the end.

The 1995 Divorce referendum looked to be in the bag from advance polls with a 2:1 lead but on the day was only narrowly carried 50.3% Yes to 49.7% No.  A result so close that its said the difference was only one vote per polling box in the country.  It appears with Divorce that either the polling companies had got it wrong or more likely a major drop in the Yes vote happened in the last 10 days.  This was too long ago to draw detailed parallels between polling but we can do just this with the Marriage Equality polls.

Marriage Equality also saw a sharp drop in last week. There were 4 polls published a weekend before by the same range of companies polling this time around – the top left table shows each poll and then actual result first for raw data, then with Don’t Knows excluded, as you can see all 4 polls overestimated the share of Yes by 7 to 9%.

This table below compares each companies poll with the actual result & then calculates how much of Don’t Know became No and in the two cases where that was over 100% how much of the Yes vote became No.

Marriage equality as of May 16/17 SBP/RedC 11-13 SI/MB 2-15 ST/B&A 1-11 IT/MRBI 13-14 RESULT Yes 67 53 63 58 62 No 27 24 26 25 38 Don’t Know 6 23 11 17 Excluded removed Yes 71 69 71 70 62 No 29 31 29 30 38


SBP/RedC SI/MB ST/B&A IT/MRBI Shift N+6 Y-5 N+14 Y+9 N+12 Y-1 Y+13 Y+4 Ratio of transfer 100% +8% 61% 100% +2% 76%


Using these percentages in the bottom table we recalculate all the polls by applying the error ratios for each company from the Marriage Equality referendum to each of their polls on the Repeal the 8th vote.  IF (ands its a big IF) it was same error this time around the referendum would only narrowly be carried in the B&A poll and narrowly defeated according to both MRBI and Red C polls.

MRBI Jan Red C Jan B&A Feb B&A March Red C March MRBI April ST/B&A April Red C April Yes 60 55 48 48 52 54 46 51 No 40 45 52 52 48 46 54 49

Adjusted figures if the polls are as far out on Repeal as they were for Marriage Equality

To be very clear this is not a prediction, simply a warning that we can’t be complacent (who is!).  The campaigns are very different in intensity & length and there is some evidence in B&A polling that the Don’t Knows are splitting to Yes.

One major difference is that the No campaign have ran a very intense campaign over months with a huge spend on misleading ads since February.  Despite this  the polls show a failure to increase the No vote at all.  All the variation in the polls of the last 3 months have between polling companies. For each company their polls across the months show no change when you account for the 3% margin of error.

But the No campaign is not focused on convincing additional voters to No but in trying to make the referendum so nasty and confusing that undecided & Soft Yes voters will stay at home or, our of fear, opt for the status quo.    This would explain the often bizarre nature of the No campaign, their failure to discourage aggression, lying and indeed the active encouragement and even participation of their spokes people in such tactics. Disengagement and fear helps them, in 1983 only 54% of the population voted in the 8th amendment referendum which saw similar tactic and worse.

But this may not work this time around.  Much has changed in Ireland, in particular rural areas, and polls indicate that the Yes voters are quite determined and sure of their understanding of issue.  80% of Repeal voters say they would never change their mind in the last MRBI poll

Together for Yes is already canvassing areas that never had organised canvass teams during the Marriage equality referendum. Its expected that as May 25th approaches the Yes canvass will substantially grow in size & scope, as happened with Marriage Equality.  Canvassing is something you can do that will make a difference , you can sign up for.  Together for Yes have already distributed three times as many Yes posters as were distributed during entire Marriage equality campaign – in general you can say Together for Yes learned from and then built on the Marriage Equality ref experience.  Something that is of course also true of the No side, in that case its the same organisations and individuals running this campaign as who campaigned against Marriage equality (and indeed sex education, contraception and divorce, if they have been around long enough).

All the polls so far were from the period before Marriage Equality had even really launched but the No campaign has been in full swing since February.  So it may be we will see the Yes vote increase and No vote decrease in the next set of polls.

So again this scary comparison with the Marriage Equality polls in NOT a prediction but simply a warning that the strong and consistent Yes lead does not mean Repeal is already in the bag, its very much up to YOU to be part of a Together for Yes win by talking to friends, fellow workers and families and by getting formally involved in canvassing and other work.   As the referendum vote approaches people will pay more and more attention to whats said and written, particularly in final days.  So its not too late to get involved, indeed we expect that the early starters will really appreciate new faces and new energy in helping Yes win on the 25th.

What’s it like for a social movement to take control of a city?

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 16:57

via The Ecologist

by The Symbiosis Research Collective and Aaron Vansintjan

We proposed a broad vision of how to create a new world in the shell of the old in the last three instalments of our column. We can chart a new path forward by grounding that vision in the lessons learned from past struggles and an understanding of how hierarchy as the shared root of oppression.

But this can all feel a bit intangible without clear examples. To get an idea of what we want the future to look like, we need to take inspiration from and learn from those already building the institutions of tomorrow, today. In the next few instalments, we’ll be highlighting movements and initiatives that we think are some of the seeds of a new world, already sprouting.

In the summer of 2015, the streets of Barcelona pulsed with a victorious energy. Members of the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH), a grassroots organisation fighting to stop evictions in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis, had started what they call a ‘citizen platform’, Barcelona En Comú.

Popular movement

Though they were registered as a political ‘party’, all decisions would be approved by citizen assemblies and participatory processes.

A year later, they won the majority of votes in the municipal elections on a platform of defending social justice and community rights, participatory democracy, and against a neoliberal city government model.

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The Web We Have to Save

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 16:00

Via Matter

by Hossein Derakhshan

Seven months ago, I sat down at the small table in the kitchen of my 1960s apartment, nestled on the top floor of a building in a vibrant central neighbourhood of Tehran, and I did something I had done thousands of times previously. I opened my laptop and posted to my new blog. This, though, was the first time in six years. And it nearly broke my heart.

A few weeks earlier, I’d been abruptly pardoned and freed from Evin prison in northern Tehran. I had been expecting to spend most of my life in those cells: In November 2008, I’d been sentenced to nearly 20 years in jail, mostly for things I’d written on my blog.

But the moment, when it came, was unexpected. I smoked a cigarette in the kitchen with one of my fellow inmates, and came back to the room I shared with a dozen other men. We were sharing a cup of tea when the voice of the floor announcer — another prisoner — filled all the rooms and corridors. In his flat voice, he announced in Persian: “Dear fellow inmates, the bird of luck has once again sat on one fellow inmate’s shoulders. Mr. Hossein Derakhshan, as of this moment, you are free.”

That evening was the first time that I went out of those doors as a free man. Everything felt new: The chill autumn breeze, the traffic noise from a nearby bridge, the smell, the colors of the city I had lived in for most of my life.

Around me, I noticed a very different Tehran from the one I’d been used to. An influx of new, shamelessly luxurious condos had replaced the charming little houses I was familiar with. New roads, new highways, hordes of invasive SUVs. Large billboards with advertisements for Swiss-made watches and Korean flat screen TVs. Women in colorful scarves and manteaus, men with dyed hair and beards, and hundreds of charming cafes with hip western music and female staff. They were the kinds of changes that creep up on people; the kind you only really notice once normal life gets taken away from you.

Two weeks later, I began writing again. Some friends agreed to let me start a blog as part of their arts magazine. I called it Ketabkhan — it means book-reader in Persian.

Six years was a long time to be in jail, but it’s an entire era online. Writing on the internet itself had not changed, but reading — or, at least, getting things read — had altered dramatically. I’d been told how essential social networks had become while I’d been gone, and so I knew one thing: If I wanted to lure people to see my writing, I had to use social media now.

So I tried to post a link to one of my stories on Facebook. Turns out Facebook didn’t care much. It ended up looking like a boring classified ad. No description. No image. Nothing. It got three likes. Three! That was it.

It became clear to me, right there, that things had changed. I was not equipped to play on this new turf — all my investment and effort had burned up. I was devastated.

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Subway Woes? Don’t Blame Workers

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 15:36

via Labor Notes

“Dirty, delayed, and dangerous.” That’s the slogan of a new ad campaign that blames New York City’s subway woes on construction unions.

The campaign plays on New Yorkers’ mounting frustrations with a system roiled by delays and overcrowding. It’s part of a volley of attacks on the city’s building trades unions by powerful developers and corporate mouthpieces.

The “Subway Scam” ads are the latest baloney from the Center for Union Facts, a corporate-backed nonprofit devoted to attacking unions. According to recent tax filings, its funders include Long Island hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a major backer of the Trump presidential campaign and right-wing media outlet Breitbart News.

Subway delays have more than doubled in the past five years. Last year a series of New York Times articles dug into the history of neglect of the city’s transit system.

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Ireland: Anti-choice groups freak out as google bans referendum ads – what had they planned?

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 03:37


A few hours ago the referendum campaign in Ireland took an unexpected turn when google announced it was banning all referendum based advertising across all its platforms including Youtube. The howls of outrage from the anti-choice No campaign has been going on ever since.

This reaction across the No campaigns is telling. For the first time spokespeople are posting about No losing the referendum & suggesting the whole vote is rigged. Which makes you wonder what nasty online ads they were intending to run in the last 10 days?

We’ve been pointing to the problem of cash being used to push nasty misleading messaging online for some months and in recent days some parts of the mainstream media have started to report on this. What may have triggered todays call by google was the discovery that a Cambridge Analytica style quiz had been pushed at people in Ireland via google. Such quizzes were used in Brexit and the Trump election to carry out psychological profiling to identify those vulnerable to nasty dark ad messaging

What’s important with dark ad strategies is that only those vulnerable to the messages of fear and hate are served the nastier ones. You don’t want to alienate voters who may be shocked by bigoted messaging if it was visible to all. This also allows you to simultaneously lie to progressive voters as the No campaigns have been doing when they pretend compassion for women in crisis pregnancies.

It may well be this – along with No ads being targetted to children’s channels – that resulted in Google doing a sudden 180 and banning all ads. No campaign ads have been appearing in front of Pippa the Pig youtube videos. This, like the placing of posters around schools, is intended to traumatise children so their upset puts pressure on parents.

Google, unlike the rest of us, can see who is placing ads and how much they are spending. They can also see what sort of ads are being placed. If – as we suspect – we are talking of No spending 2 million plus and Yes less than 100k on online advertising the magnitude of difference might have come out at some point, in particular if Repeal was narrowly defeated.

For google this may mean the ad revenue they will lose was no longer worth the global focus switching from FB to them as something corrupting in need of regulation.

In any case this is a major benefit for the Yes campaign which lacked the huge flow of far right evangelical cash that has been pumping into the No campaign. Online ads function as an auction and the highest bidder always wins an auction.

Google hasn’t banned posts about the referendum, just paid ads. This means each campaign continues to be free to create content that will have organic reach as people interact with it. Together for Yes put out a video featuring actors Killian Murphy and Saoirse Ronan. The No campaigns will be able to respond using their celebrity endorsements from Crystal Swing and Dana.

When March 68 in Tunis Preempted the Paris Spring

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 03:34

via Verso Books

by Frédéric Bobin

First published in Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.

A Letter from Tunis

Students hanging around in the faded quad, a cup of coffee in hand, and sometimes holding a cigarette. A few small palm trees and a pond lighten its very 1960s concrete decor. It is break time, and everyone is taking a breather between two sociology or literature classes. From the small hill on which the human and social sciences faculty is perched, you can see the banks of Lake Sejumi to the south, where the popular districts of Greater Tunis are clustered. But the university faces east, and most importantly toward the Kasbah, Tunis’s political and geographical centre, a gigantic promenade bounded with ministries on the edge of the medina.

In March 1968, this faculty’s students’ view of the Kasbah, this symbol of the Tunisian state, was such that they broke out in revolt, pre-empting their comrades in Paris by several weeks. The children of “Bourguibism” — following the name of the “father of the nation” Habib Bourguiba — broke out into a frenzy in the same key as youth around the world. The dissent, quickly silenced by fierce repression, left a lasting mark on the Tunisian Left and planted the seeds of democracy. These were events that shaped Tunisia’s unique course.

An Explosive Climate

Half a century later, however, the memory of this event barely survives. “I do not know a lot about this history,” sighs Sarah, a literature student with free-flowing hair and fashionably torn jeans. “Here, most students are on the Left because they are freedom-loving,” she adds. “On the Left,” certainly. But there is a rather weak line of descent from their older forebears from 1968. The transmission of memory from one generation to the next faces the problem of a memory that has been sterilised, its rough patches erased by decades of dictatorship. This loss has not been magically overcome by the Tunisian Revolution of 2011.

One man was at the heart of this tornado. Khemais Shamari, 75, is an emblematic figure on the Tunisian Left. A portly, chatty figure, this former far Left militant has retained intact his memory of 17 March 1968, the day when the police came to handcuff him in the dean’s office, where a student delegation had come to negotiate. The university had boiled over two days earlier as students demanded the release of Mohammed Ben Jennet, a one-legged student condemned to twenty years of forced labour for his supposed role in the riots — notably targeting the Jewish quarter of Lafayette, in the centre of Tunis — that had taken place during the Six Day War in June 1967.

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7 iconic fights to keep fossil fuels in the ground

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 03:28


Despite the urgent climate crisis, fossil fuel companies and their financiers are still supporting new projects to extract, transport, and burn coal, oil, and gas. These projects don’t just threaten the communities in their path: they also lock us into fossil fuels for decades to come at exactly the time we need to stop.  When you’re in a hole, stop digging!

The fossil fuel industry is global – but luckily resistance is too. Here are 7 of the fights going on right now to keep it in the ground, and how you can help.

Kinder Morgan

In the west of Canada, people power on the frontlines – and actions of solidarity from around Canada and the world – has put the breaks on plans for an expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. On March 10th, the largest mobilization yet against Kinder Morgan took place, with 10,000 people taking the street in Burnaby, Canada. They took action in solidarity with Indigenous leaders who built a a “Watch House” – a traditional structure used by the Coast Salish Indigenous peoples for generations to watch over their enemies – on the pipeline’s path on Burnaby Mountain.

Since then, more than 200 arrests have taken place at the pipeline terminal facility on Burnaby Mountain, with Indigenous activists, students, grandparents, and many others — including 2 sitting members of parliament, standing up to take bold action to protect the land, water and climate from Kinder Morgan.

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‘The people have seen through the lies of the Moroccan State’

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 23:28

via The Dawn

The recent mobilizations in the city of Jerada and the Rif region in Morocco mark a new era of popular uprisings in the country. The Dawn News speaks to Abdallah Harrif, Deputy Secretary General of Morocco’s Democratic Way, on the mobilization over the year, the repression unleashed by the government and the way forward for the movement.

Q: The last year has seen huge mobilizations in Morocco, mainly on the issue of the mines in Jerada. Could you tell us about the nature of the mobilization and the current situation with respect to the struggle?

A: These huge mobilizations, particularly in the Rif region and the city of Jerada, are the second wave of the revolutionary process which were initiated by the so-called Arab spring. This struggle has been embodied in Morocco by the February movement, and took place in marginalized regions: The Rif region has a long tradition of struggles against the Moroccan regime, which has always marginalized the region and despised its inhabitants. Jerada is a town which lived, almost uniquely, on coal mines which were closed in the end of the last century and no alternative activity has been created.

In the Rif and Jerada, almost all the inhabitants participated in the mobilizations which took place: sit-ins, demonstrations, marches and other forms of protest. The trigger of the mobilization in the Rif was the murder of Mohcine Fikri, a fish merchant, who was ground to death by a garbage compactor in the presence of local authorities.

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What Really Helps the Unemployed Find Full-Time Jobs

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 23:20

via Yes! magazine

by Amanda Abrams

In April, President Trump signed an executive order requiring many Americans who get public benefits to join the workforce if they want to continue receiving assistance. The order, Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility, was immediately decried by advocates for low-income people as an ineffective effort to reduce government aid.

The most-cited reason has been that most people getting social safety net supports such as Medicaid, SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), and housing subsidies, and other assistance already work at low-paying jobs. Of those who don’t, a majority of them face serious barriers to employment: criminal records, disabilities, homelessness, histories of substance abuse or domestic abuse. A simple demand for these people to find jobs likely will not land them livable-wage, long-term employment—especially in a tight labor market.

But more important, researchers say, social safety net programs need more money, not less, for a work requirement program to succeed.

In 2016, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities examined work requirements implemented by eight cities or counties around the country in the 1990s and found that they were largely ineffective. The requirements resulted in very little initial increase in employment, and virtually no impact five years later. More significantly, most of those people who had major barriers to employment never found jobs. Instead, they lost benefits and drifted further down the socioeconomic scale.

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Climate justice from below for climate harms

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 23:03

via The New Internationalist

by Harpreet Kaur Paul

Tasked with exploring ways in which to avert, minimize and address climate harms, the Suva Expert Dialogue – which took place from 2–3 May during the ongoing Bonn Climate Change Conference – was able only to agree to yet another meeting, theExCom8, for deciding the scope of the next technical paper on loss and damage.

Delegates from Sudan, Botswana and other developing countries insisted on the need for concrete proposals to address already occurring and ‘exploding’ climate risks and harms before the next COP (COP24), to be held from 3–14 December this year in Poland. As has now become natural law, developed countries shielded themselves from responsibility behind bureaucratic processes.

French, Swiss, British, American and Canadian delegates have been silent on financing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including extreme weather events and slow onset events. While Germany’s delegate referred to insurance as a ‘magic’ tool to redress loss and damage, insurance cannot redress harms that arise from slow onset events (since they are largely uninsurable), repair non-economic loss and damage, respond to climate migration, and is often insufficient where it is available and inaccessible to the most vulnerable. Still, ideological fervour mythologizes insurance as a cost-effective, determinable, and efficient solution to climate harms.

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Interview with Chelsea Manning: ‘There’s No Troll that Can Hurt Me’

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 00:10

via Spiegal Online

Interview Conducted by Angela Gruber

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Ms. Manning, after seven years in prison, your sentence was commuted a year ago. How did you restart your life?

Chelsea Manning: At first, there was a euphoria, sort of a honeymoon period after my release. But all of the things that drove me into political activism and sparked my actions have gotten worse and accelerated in pace. So, I never got the feeling that I can just sit down now. There are lots of important political issues out there waiting to be addressed, not just in the U.S. but the whole world. We can’t wait anymore.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Can you provide a few examples?

Manning: We see the rise of authoritarianism all over the world, in Russia, in China and also in Europe. The technological developments have enabled a surveillance apparatus that is much more intense and threatening than ever before. Militarization is another issue: Our local police departments in the U.S. look like military units now. What we as people need to do is fight back.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What toll did your time in prison take on your life?

Manning: Even though there’s real work to be done, what I also realized within the last few months is that I also have to take care of myself. Sometimes I just try to forget about prison and the last decade, because it’s easier for me. My experience now, being a public figure, is definitely drastically different from the life I had – in prison or in the military.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You are quite active on social media channels like Twitter and Instagram. Was it difficult for you to catch up with the technology?

Manning: What I like to remind people of: I was using emojis back in the 1990s when they were still called emoticons. I’ve been on the internet since the mid-90s. Back then, there was the feeling that the internet was special, a place with liberating capacities. But as it became more entrenched in our society, it became a reinforcement of the existing system.

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What is the true cost of eating meat?

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 00:00

via The Guardian

by Bibi van der Zee

What are the economics of meat?

Food and farming is one of the biggest economic sectors in the world. We are no longer in the 14th century, when as much as 76% of the population worked in agriculture – but farming still employs more than 26% of all workers globally. And that does not include the people who work along the meat supply chain: the slaughterers, packagers, retailers and chefs.

In 2016, the world’s meat production was estimated at 317m metric tons, and that is expected to continue to grow. Figures for the value of the global meat industry vary wildly from $90bn to as much as $741bn.

Although the number of people directly employed by farming is currently less than 2% in the UK, the food chain now includes the agribusiness companies, the retailers, and the entertainment sector. According to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in 2014 the food and drink manufacturing sector contributed £27bn to the economy, and employed 3.8 million people.

It is not simple to separate out the contribution that meat production makes to this – particularly globally. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation states that livestock is about 40% of the global value of agricultural output and supports the livelihoods and food security of almost a 1.3 billion people.

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Lettrism and the Youth Uprising of 68

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 23:52

via Verso Books

by Joel White and Isidore Isou

Translated and introduced by Joel White. 

As Kristin Ross has made explicit, the variety of writers who are supposedly the true theoretical progenitors of France’s May 68 has not stopped proliferating since the “events” came to a close. Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Civilisation, Wilhelm Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism, and Henri Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life come to mind. Whole books have been dedicated to defining what is now known as la pensée 68 (the thought of 68). Perhaps the most notorious of these so-called progenitors is Situationist Guy Debord, who, late into his life, even megalomaniacally claimed that it was he who “chose the time and direction of the attacks” (Guy Debord, Anselm Jappe, 100).

Before Debord and the Situationist International, however, there was Isidore Isou and Lettrism. Creator or novateur of the French avant-garde group, Isou moved to Paris in 1945 with the single purpose of founding a movement that would surpass Tristan Tzara’s Dadaism and André Breton’s Surrealism. Regarding these movements as exhausted of revolutionary and creative potential, Isou and his early supporters, Maurice Lemaître, Gil J. Wolman, and Guy Debord set out to reinvigorate France’s artistic and political avant-garde. (Wolman and Debord would later split to form the Lettrist International in 1952 before finally creating the Situationist International in 1957). Artistically, this meant “creatively diverting” (créativité détourné) the material support of formal artworks so that new possibilities latent in the material could become manifest. Words were reduced to graphemes and phonemes and then built back up again to make “hypergraphic” or “lettrie” poems. Images and figures were morphed into shadowy blocks that would consume themselves, and films were “chiselled” and scratched to which “discrepant sounds” were added and juxtaposed (for example, Lemâitre’s 1969 film Youth Uprising – May 68). While this had significant influence, via the Situationist International, on the aesthetics of 68, it is Isou’s “nuclear” political economy and his manifestos for the Youth Uprising (1949) that hold the most weight. The notion of the abolishment of “youth-capital” found in Debord’s Society of the Spectacle (1967) and Mustapha Khayat’s On the Poverty of Student Life (1966) both develop the notion of a youth “externalised” from capital’s internal exchange “circuits.” For Isou, the youth constituted the “primary revolutionary force” of any insurrection because of their not-yet internalised but likewise exploited, socio-economic status. Isou even complains in 1974 that his particular conception of the revolutionary youth was the “real motor of the youth uprising in May 68,” and not the “neo-Nazi situationists” that only knew how to plagiarise him.

Translated here for the first time is a rare text published in the summer of 1968: no.5 of the second series of the Lettrist journal Youth Uprising, entitled “Between Isou and Marcuse.” In true Lettrist style, Isou (who writes in the third person) both insults and lampoons Marcuse’s “sub-sub-Marxism,” while excessively praising his own philosophical and political rigour. Correct or not in its assessment of Marcuse’s and Isou’s influence on ‘68, this text should be read as one of the first and most explicit attempts at theoretically re-appropriating May. Much of this text is also included into the script for Lemâitre’s 1969 film Youth Uprising – May 68 (this film can be found on display in room 33 at the Pompidou Centre, Paris). While the direct causal relationship between intellectual or theoretical development and political practice must always be subject to suspicion, the often oblique and implicit influence that texts and thoughts have on action must not be overlooked. After all, cannot dialectics break bricks?

Youth Uprising

(Number five)

“Between Isou and Marcuse”

(Summer 68)


The differences between the rigorous and reflective system of “Nuclear Economics” and the ersatz sociologist sub-sub-Freudist and sub-sub-Marxist Herbert Marcuse.

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Noam Chomsky Makes Case for Iran Nuclear Deal

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 03:44

by Noam Chomsky

via Telesur

Nothing can compare with the U.S. “war on terror.”

(This article was orginally published in 2015)

The nuclear deal reached between Iran and P5+1 was greeted with relief and optimism throughout the world, with striking exceptions: the U.S. and its closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which are consumed with visceral fear and hatred of all things Iranian. In the U.S, even sober commentary declares Iran to be “the gravest threat to world peace” and warns that we must be vigilant, given the exceptional gravity of the Iranian threat.

It is perhaps of some interest that the world sees the matter differently: it is the United States that is regarded as the gravest threat to world peace (WIN/Gallup). Far below in second place is Pakistan. Iran is ranked well below, along with Israel, North Korea, and Afghanistan.

It is worthwhile to explore the reasons for the concerns of the rejectionist triad. What exactly is the colossal threat of Iran?

The threat can hardly be military. U.S. intelligence years ago concluded that Iran has low military expenditures by regional standards and that its strategic doctrines are defensive, designed to deter aggression; and that “Iran’s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.”

Details are provided in an April study of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which finds that the Arab Gulf States outspend Iran on military weaponry by a factor of almost 10 to 1. The qualitative difference is even greater. The Arab Gulf states have “some of the most advanced and effective weapons in the world [while] Iran has essentially been forced to live in the past, often relying on systems originally delivered at the time of the Shah,” which are virtually obsolete. The imbalance is of course even greater with Israel, which, along with the most advanced U.S. weaponry and its role as a virtual offshore military base of the global superpower, has a huge stock of nuclear weapons.

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Are You in a BS Job? In Academe, You’re Hardly Alone

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 20:34

by David Graeber

via The Chronicle of Higher Education

I would like to write about the bullshitization of academic life: that is, the degree to which those involved in teaching and academic management spend more and more of their time involved in tasks which they secretly — or not so secretly — believe to be entirely pointless.

For a number of years now, I have been conducting research on forms of employment seen as utterly pointless by those who perform them. The proportion of these jobs is startlingly high. Surveys in Britain and Holland reveal that 37 to 40 percent of all workers there are convinced that their jobs make no meaningful contribution to the world. And there seems every reason to believe that numbers in other wealthy countries are much the same. There would appear to be whole industries — telemarketing, corporate law, financial or management consulting, lobbying — in which almost everyone involved finds the enterprise a waste of time, and believes that if their jobs disappeared it would either make no difference or make the world a better place.

Generally speaking, we should trust people’s instincts in such matters. (Some of them might be wrong, but no one else is in a position to know better.) If one includes the work of those who unwittingly perform real labor in support of all this — for instance, the cleaners, guards, and mechanics who maintain the office buildings where people perform bullshit jobs — it’s clear that 50 percent of all work could be eliminated with no downside. (I am assuming here that provision is made such that those whose jobs were eliminated continue to be supported.) If nothing else, this would have immediate salutary effects on carbon emissions, not to mention overall social happiness and well-being.

Even this estimate probably understates the extent of the problem, because it doesn’t address the creeping bullshitization of real jobs. According to a 2016 survey, American office workers reported that they spent four out of eight hours doing their actual jobs; the rest of the time was spent in email, useless meetings, and pointless administrative tasks. The trend has much less effect on obviously useful occupations, like those of tailors, steamfitters, and chefs, or obviously beneficial ones, like designers and musicians, so one might argue that most of the jobs affected are largely pointless anyway; but the phenomenon has clearly damaged a number of indisputably useful fields of endeavor. Nurses nowadays often have to spend at least half of their time on paperwork, and primary- and secondary-school teachers complain of galloping bureaucratization.

And then there’s higher education.

In most universities nowadays — and this seems to be true almost everywhere — academic staff find themselves spending less and less time studying, teaching, and writing about things, and more and more time measuring, assessing, discussing, and quantifying the way in which they study, teach, and write about things (or the way in which they propose to do so in the future.

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The Art of Not Being Governed: Hill Peoples and Valley Kingdoms in Mainland Southeast Asia

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 14:00

via VOID Network

Published on April 29, 2018 in Global movement


For two thousand years, the peoples residing in Zomia — the mountainous region that stretches from the Central Highlands of Vietnam to northeastern India — have fled the organized state societies in the valleys. Far from being ‘remnants’ left behind by civilizing societies, they are “barbarians by choice”, peoples who have deliberately put distance between themselves and lowland, state-centers.

James Scott, director of the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University, tells the story of the peoples of Zomia and their unlikely odyssey in search of self-determination.

The event was Cornell’s eighth Frank H. Golay Memorial Lecture.

HIST A390: Global anarchism, the Scott Debate and Zomia from ejdennison


You can READ the book The art of not being governed : an anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia – by Scott, James C here:

A book-length anthropological and historical study of the Zomia highlands of Southeast Asia by James C. Scott, first published in 2009.

Zomia is a new name for virtually all the lands at altitudes above roughly three hundred meters all the way from the Central Highlands of Vietnam to northeastern India and traversing five Southeast Asian nations (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Burma) and four provinces of China (Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, and parts of Sichuan). It is an expanse of 2.5 million square kilometers containing about one hundred million minority peoples of truly bewildering ethnic and linguistic variety. Geographically, it is also known as the Southeast Asian mainland massif. Since this huge area is at the periphery of nine states and at the center of none, since it also bestrides the usual regional designations (Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia), and since what makes it interesting is its ecological variety as well as its relation to states, it represents a novel object of study, a kind of transnational Appalachia, and a new way to think of area studies.

My thesis is simple, suggestive, and controversial. Zomia is the largest remaining region of the world whose peoples have not yet been fully incorporated into nation-states. Its days are numbered. Not so very long ago, however, such self-governing peoples were the great majority of humankind. Today, they are seen from the valley kingdoms as “our living ancestors,” “what we were like before we discovered wet-rice cultivation, Buddhism, and civilization.” On the contrary, I argue that hill peoples are best understood as runaway, fugitive, maroon communities who have, over the course of two millennia, been fleeing the oppressions of state-making projects in the valleys—slavery, conscription, taxes, corvée labor, epidemics, and warfare.


More books about Anarchism in Void Network Library:

Health and Happiness as a Political Organiser – Brief Notes

Sat, 05/05/2018 - 04:57

by Alex Amargi


This is a quick article about some of the psychology and health issues of being a political organiser. There is as much to say about this topic time in the universe would allow, as such, this is a brief sketch which will be part of an ongoing series of articles dedicated to mental health and psychology with a particular focus on its application to political organising.

Political organising presents additional challenges to our health. As time goes on, more is said about this. However, it is not enough. As psychological beings, attending to the psychology of organising is as necessary as attending to car mechanics in Formula One. It is a movement-level issue rather than a personal issue for particularly sensitive and damaged people, not just in responsibility but in the scope of its effects.

I understand these matters can be sensitive, and I reassure the reader that the author is
both a committed political organiser and has much experience with the grimmest regions of
mental illness, so approaches the subject with real understanding. I am not writing this
to preach or criticise, but because I care about you and our movement to better the world.

Why Negativity Matters

There is a lot of negativity associated with leftist political organising for a variety of reasons. Before discussing those reasons, let us consider why such negativity is important. There are three basic reasons:

We get personally weighed down, and our lives become less rich. Who wants to feel negative?

We get burned out, and hence are less able to advance our cause. What wants to be incapable?

We produce an atmosphere which many others understandably don’t want to be inside. Who
wants to be involved with a bunch of negative people?

Now, how and why does this negativity manifest? Though its effects are damaging, it is
very understandable. Negativity both manifests in the attitudes of individuals, and in
cultural practices within groups.

How Negativity Manifests

Political organising wouldn’t be necessary unless there were many serious problems in our
world, problems such as war, poverty, ecological destruction, fascism, and the subjugation
of women. Even reading that short list drags one’s mind down a bit.

People who get involved are often cynical from seeing so many bad things happening in the
world. We poke holes in what we see and hear, in the normal narrative. That is good until
we come to identify with always seeing the flaws. There is a widespread belief on the left
that being positive means being naïve or deluded, while being negative means being savvy
and aware. Or, that the worse you feel the more you care. This is actually completely
incorrect, and will be addressed in detail in another article.

Often leftists can get in the habit of complaining for the sake of complaining, either
about people in their circles, other organisations, or in general. It is not uncommon to
sit down with a group of other leftists and engage in a whinge-fest for hours. There is a
difference between measured commentary towards some productive end, and complaining to vent negative emotions. This can produce quite a toxic environment which I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid.

Even if we don’t decide we want to be negative, it can be challenging to stay upbeat or
calm when repeatedly engaging with injustice. It takes effort to look straight at misery
and not produce your own misery in response. But the vast majority of us – humans, not
just organisers – have picked up maladaptive ways of thinking and acting. We feel the
weight of the world on our shoulders, a responsibility to make changes which, to us, do
not happen fast enough. We hope for a better world, but are disappointed by the reality
and the slowness of change or even regression. So we give up on hope and instead say or
feel that there is no hope. ‘Every cynic is a disappointed idealist’ as George Carlin said.

Why Positivity? (Or, Rationality, Accuracy, and Calm)

The left, being full of proud cynics, tends to think of ‘positivity’ as being synonymous
with being a fool. This is not universally the case, but is a major trend worth remarking
upon. Being positive is seen as a ruse of the American corporate self-help industry,
objectively functioning as a device to control people and cover up for the horrors of society.

Indeed there is a lot of garbage ‘positivity’ out there, but, let us remember, there is a
lot of garbage ‘anarchism’ and ‘socialism’ out there too, so let’s not throw the baby out
with the bathwater. What I am discussing here is not so much ‘positivity’ as being more
rational, accurate, and calm. Why is this important or preferable?

We will live happier lives. Who doesn’t want to be content and at peace?
We will attract more people to our cause. Who doesn’t want a larger movement?
We will burn out less or not at all. Who doesn’t want to be capable and sustainable?
We will have a clearer understanding of the world and clearer plans when we are not
engulfed in negative emotions which cloud our judgment. Who wants to have clouded judgment?
To settle any doubts, this does not mean retreating entirely into our own minds and
ignoring injustices or putting a phony, cloying, happy-clappy gloss on life. We require
neither a miserable smudge nor a happy-clappy gloss.

Helpful Ideas and Techniques

We will now briefly consider some advice from the Stoic philosophers, which was absorbed
into CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) about 2000 years later. I will re-iterate that I
have plenty of personal experience, enough for a lifetime, with the grimmest, nastiest,
regions of mental illness. Accepting and practising this advice is one of the decisive
factors in changing that situation. I say this because some readers will resist the
following passages, and it is important that they know that I am not a naïve, whimsical,
self-help blogger who has skimmed through life and only knows suffering from a textbook.

To begin, let us consider two of the most important facts about our universe.

Firstly, it is not things which make us feel bad, it is our responses to them. Some people
will resonate with this idea. Others will be resistant: ‘don’t tell me it is all in my
head!’. The fact is, though, as long as we allow external events to dictate our mental
state, we will be miserable, always chasing something external which will supposedly make
it better. For every event, we make a value judgment, and that value judgment makes us
feel bad (or good). Often we don’t notice that we do this. Yes, burning my hand on the
cooker will hurt. But burning my hand will not necessarily make me sorrowful, angry,
disappointed, guilty, jealous, hopeless, ashamed, or afraid. That requires a value
judgment. When we change the way we think about the world, the way we feel changes too.

Has a lasting, genuine, liberatory, global revolution happened yet? No. How you respond to
that fact is your choice. The next time you feel bad, ask yourself what you are really
worrying about, and whether it absolutely has to make you feel bad, or could you think
about it another way.

Secondly, there are some things in our control, some things not. Oh truism of truisms! But
as Chomsky said, the great thing about truisms is that they are true. If we cannot control
something, why bother worrying? And if we can control it, why not change it rather than
worry? It is useful to repeatedly consider this in our daily life. Is it in your control
that millions of people from Syria fleeing war and then facing xenophobia in Europe? No.
Do not worry about that. What is in your control is doing your small part to help them. So
don’t worry about that either, just do it. Or perhaps, you have enough to do already. In
that case, none of it is in your control. Don’t waste your time on worry.

The next time you find yourself worrying, carefully decide what part of it is actually in
your control and what part of it actually isn’t.


These two truths are simple and can be quickly and easily stated and understood. But to
put them into practice takes work. What we might call ‘practical wisdom’ is a skill which
requires training over relatively long periods of time, and really our entire lives. It
doesn’t change the fact that someone is trying to take control of your local campaign
group, or that the government cut funding to domestic violence shelters, or that you have
to work for a boss for 8 hours, or that you’ve been sleeping for at most 5 hours per night
since you had a baby. What it does is equip you with the tools to make the best of
whatever situation you are in, including preserving your own equanimity.

There is much more to say, but this article is supposed to be quite short. As said, this
article is part of a series exploring such issues. Look out for further articles in the
series, as these issues of mental health and psychology in conjunction with political
organising will be discussed in much greater detail.

Solidarity Economy Part I: Cooperative Development in Rio and Beyond

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 17:25

via RIOOnwatch

When one stops to consider Rio’s hundreds of favelas for their plurality, with a lens of recognizing assets instead of just highlighting problems, one common thread is clear: in the face of public neglect, favela residents are expert at doing things for themselves, many times coming together to do so collectively. There is even a word for this, gambiarra, a native Brazilian Tupi-Guarani word meaning ‘improvised solution.’

There are many examples of this in both consumption and labor: favelas have been practicing collective consumerism since their inception (and well before the “sharing economy” was trendy); favelas come together in mutirão collective work sessions for infrastructure upgrades, such as building sewerage systems or cleaning up abandoned lots; and favelados (favela residents) have come together in work collectives, such as the baking and skills sharing collective Mangarfo featured in the short documentary, Here Is My Place.

These grassroots collective economic practices are all examples of the “solidarity economy” that exists in favelas and in other communities all over Brazil and the world. Solidarity economy has many definitions but, most broadly, is both an umbrella term and a movement that seeks to promote alternative economic structures based on collective ownership and horizontal management instead of private ownership and hierarchical management. Such structures include community banks, credit unions, family agriculture, cooperative housing, barter clubs, consumer cooperatives, and worker cooperatives or collectives, most well-known in Brazil in the industries of recycling and crafts. The goal is to decentralize wealth, root wealth in communities, and financially and politically empower stakeholders participating in these structures toward another, more just, economy.

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Where’s the Winter Palace? On the Marxist-Leninist Trend in the United States

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 16:30

via Libcom

In the United States today, there exists a political trend which describes itself as Marxist-Leninist.

This trend is organized as a loose constellation, orbiting around organizations such as the Workers World Party (WWP) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), and to a lesser extent the Freedom Road Socialist Organization-Fight Back (FRSO)1.

Members of this trend associate in forums such as r/communism on Reddit, on Facebook in pages and groups such as Bro, We Are Communist. Problem? and Karl Marx’s Red Reading Room, and on Twitter. Though containing members of all generations2, this contemporary Marxist-Leninist trend has a particular character among millennials, including those in their early thirties or late twenties radicalized during the protests against the Iraq War or in the Occupy Movement, and younger members radicalized during Black Lives Matter or the election of Trump. The authors count ourselves among many others who politically “came of age” within this trend.

This trend is united in support of “Actually Existing Socialism” historically3 and the continued centrality of the “Five Heads” of Marxism-Leninism (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao). They stress the importance of anti-imperialism to revolutionary practice in the “belly of the beast”, and additionally support for national liberation struggles historically and today as well as support for national bourgeois governments which are targeted by U.S. imperialism (e.g. Iran, Syria). This trend upholds Stalin against Trotsky, views Khrushchev as a revisionist, and supports the USSR’s interventions in ‘56 and ‘68. Social Democrats, anarchists, and others denigrate it as Stalinism and condemn its members as “tankies”. Those in the Maoist movement consider it to be revisionism.

The contemporary Marxist-Leninist trend views itself as the continuation of the world communist movement of the twentieth century, including the anti-imperialist struggles of the century more broadly. It proudly sees its own history as being that of the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, and the Cuban Revolution; in the U.S., its local heroes include the Black Panther Party, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, and so on. Its study guides feature lots of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, and to a lesser degree Stalin and Mao. Its propaganda features, for instance, Thomas Sankara, Fred Hampton, and Fidel Castro.

Stalin provides the canonical definition of Marxism-Leninism historically:

Leninism is Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular. Marx and Engels pursued their activities in the pre-revolutionary period, (we have the proletarian revolution in mind), when developed imperialism did not yet exist, in the period of the proletarians’ preparation for revolution, in the period when the proletarian revolution was not yet an immediate practical inevitability.4

This is a major touchstone for contemporary MLs. Since imperialism still dominates and proletarian revolution is still the aim, ML is considered to be a still-applicable way of approaching politics. Dictatorship of the proletariat is still considered necessary, as is a vanguard party run along democratic centralist lines.5

The Appeal of Marxism-Leninism

We believe there are several positive aspects of U.S. MLism that have drawn millennials into its orbit.

First, MLism, as a revolutionary trend, provides an alternative to the reformist wing of the nascent socialist movement led by the right wing of the DSA, the Jacobin milieu, and the movement around Bernie Sanders. New radicals who were unsatisfied by the prospects of social democracy or the Democratic Party have found a viable option in Marxism-Leninism, which explicitly calls for the total overthrow of the bourgeois State by any means necessary.

Second, MLism prides itself on organizational discipline. This aspect attracted a lot of militants to Leninism in the late 60s due to the disarray of loose New Left organizations such as the original Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). These activists came to realize that “structureless” or “non-hierarchical” formations often meant in practice the despotism of unelected, media-appointed leaders, combined with anti-democratic practices like the refusal of the minority (or worse, individuals) to bow to the decisions of the majority6. Similarly, post-Occupy radicals have turned to more disciplined organizational structures after participating in a movement without clearly defined organizational structures or articulated political goals. Organizational discipline has also appealed to ex-anarchists from the Seattle ‘99 tradition, some of whom have adopted Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and other Leninist trends.

Third, MLism is a trend known for its strong stance on national liberation and anti-imperialism. In the U.S. in particular, the early CPUSA was known for its commitment to Black liberation, especially through organizing sharecroppers in Alabama and placing an emphasis on Harry Haywood’s “Black Belt” thesis, the idea that African-Americans constituted an oppressed nation within the United States. Today, the ML trend participates in popular anti-racist struggles, in particular #BlackLivesMatter as well as anti-imperialist struggles, particularly against U.S. wars in the Middle East. Today’s ML groups largely call for self-determination for oppressed nations as well as the return of land to indigenous peoples. For many young militants, especially radicals of color, this focus on self-determination is a breath of fresh air compared to the class-reductionism that crops up in other U.S. leftist trends.

Fourth, Marxist-Leninists generally hold positive views of the 20th century socialist states. For those who wish to draw positive lessons from this experience, MLism presents an appealing alternative to the Cold War anti-communism often propagated by layers of the reformist, anarchist, and Trotskyist trends.

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Josiah Warren, a Most Unlikely Internationalist

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 16:22

By Shawn P. Wilbur

Josiah Warren was, famously, not a joiner. He habitually quarreled with anyone who suggested that he had followers or had founded a school. By his own account, after his early adventures with Owenite socialism, he only ever joined one organization—but what an organization! It appears that, for roughly a month in the summer of 1873, Josiah Warren was affiliated with Section 26, of Philadelphia, of the International Workingmen’s Association.

Warren was certainly not the only individualist anarchist who took an interest in the I. W. A., and participated to some extent in the activities of its American sections. William B. Greene has been the primary author of an Address of the Internationals, issued by Boston’s French-speaking Section 1, and published by the Heywoods’ Co-operative publishing Company. Various others, such as Joshua King Ingalls and Lewis Masquerier, are supposed to have been affiliated, and the faction around Victoria Woodhull and Stephen Pearl Andrews, pushing a typically Andrusian mix of extreme individualism and integralist centralization, made enough of a nuisance of themselves that they were effectively purged from the International by Marx’s faction even before he dealt with Bakunin. But Warren was not one of those conscious dialectical, or trialectical, or synthesist mutualists. At the end of his life, he showed no evidence that he had read Proudhon, bristling at the phrase “property is theft” like someone unacquainted with any of the subtleties involved. His aversion to connecting interests seems to have extended even to the various “reform leagues” organized by his fellow-radicals—organizations primarily characterized by their almost purely formal character.

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