According to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the estimated pre-1492 population of what is now called the United States ranges from 5 million to 15 million. By the late 1800s, the number of indigenous people was down to 25,000. Such a holocaust is only possible if the long traditional of dehumanization is utilized as a shield of denial. "There is a profound historical legacy in the United States, going back to people like George Washington, for example, describing Indians as ‘wild beasts of the forest’ and ‘savage as the wolf,’” explains Ward Churchill.
As I witness folks debate and deflect about the behind-the-scenes realities of ISIS, Occupy Central, etc., it depresses me to realize how little of our own history is known or discussed -- even by those far outside the mainstream. As Michael Parenti once declared: “The enormous gap between what U.S. leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology.”
Just after dusk on Wednesday night in St. Louis, a cop killed 18 year-old Vonderitt “Drew” Myers. This is the third incident of cops killing black men in two months – sadly this is not above average. What is above average, though, is people's response to it. Like Mike Brown, there has been debate about whether he was fighting back, whether he was armed, whether stealing cigars or shooting at police is something you should be killed for. To us, this doesn't matter. We are against the police and all that they do.
That’s part of the business model. It’s the same as hiring temps in industry or what they call “associates” at Walmart, employees that aren’t owed benefits. It’s a part of a corporate business model designed to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility. When universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line.
Featuring: A report from the people’s climate march in NYC, commentary from political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, the corporate media trumpets the state’s fabricated terror threat to warrant air strikes on Syria, student organized walk outs in Jefferson county Colorado sparks a significant call out from work by teachers over school board’s attempted whitewashing of curriculum, and we continue our running segments on voices of the houseless in the United States this week with interviews from three single mothers that are houseless and their personal experiences.
Liberals and progressive forces support the Democratic Party in elections, even though humanity is facing a number of interconnected threats and nightmarish catastrophes: economic, ecological/climate, and others. Democratic liberals, while perhaps the "lesser evil" to the Republican reactionaries, have no solutions to the objective dangers which threaten society with great suffering and destruction. The only real alternative is popular mass struggle or defeat--socialist-anarchism or catastrophes.
Unfortunately, when talking about Ferguson, few people are really talking about gentrification. And if we can't say gentrification and Ferguson in the same breath, we can't look at the bigger problems. The murder of an unarmed black teenager? How about the racialized murder of civil society by the police state and the ongoing destruction of the world that it is bringing about?
In 1937, my father volunteered to fight in the International Brigades in defence of the Spanish Republic. A would-be fascist coup had been temporarily halted by a worker’s uprising, spearheaded by anarchists and socialists, and in much of Spain a genuine social revolution ensued, leading to whole cities under directly democratic management, industries under worker control, and the radical empowerment of women.
It was also a pleasant surprise because Ward and Kropotkin are two of among several anarchist thinkers I’m writing a series of appreciations on for C4SS. Both Kropotkin and Ward were libertarian communists of sorts, but there was so much sheer muchness to their thought it’s impossible to encapsulate with any such ideological label. Compared to their love for the irreducible particularity of all the near-infinity of local examples of human-scale self-organization and cooperation, labels like “communist,” “individualist” or “syndicalist” are like stale bread crusts.
It’s no secret that economists and libertarians have developed a bad habit of assuming things about history and other societies on first principle without actually checking archaeological or anthropological findings. On occasion the divide can be quite stark. David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years gets a lot of momentum by attacking a widely circulated economic fable purporting to explain the origin of currency wherein coinage precedes credit. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the “I need a blanket and all I have to barter with are five chickens but everyone in my village likes cowry shells” dilemma at the start of elementary economics textbooks has no clear historical basis; there’s little evidence small tribes or villages needed to invent physical currency to facilitate market exchange internally because reputation and credit are far more natural and flexible.
As a volunteer organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), I am proud to announce that a supermajority of the 11 "as needed" beach maintenance workers in Santa Monica just signed Industrial Workers of the World petitions to collectively bargain with the city of Santa Monica for permanent employment. This is a big deal, considering the degree of past exploitation of "as needed" which is a term for "temporary" employment, even when the employment is not temporary. In essence these workers are fighting for rights long denied in a city with a reputation for progressive policies.
Earlier this year, Raoul Vaneigem turned 80 years old. To celebrate this event, Editions Allia in France will bring about "Rien n'est fini, tout commence" (Nothing Has Ended, Everything Begins), a huge book of interviews with the ex-situationist conducted by Gerard Berreby.
On September 29th Insomnia Cookies fired union organizer Colin James for his union activity under the guise of company theft. Colin has been a model employee without a single write-up and has been organizing at Insomnia Cookies for over 6 months. This is the same union busting tactic this company used late last year, firing union organizer Tommy Mendez in Nov. of 2013.
For many months now, we’ve been hard at work on a new anarchist outreach project that picks up where Fighting for Our Lives left off—drawing on everything we’ve learned since then and updating the contents and format. Now that work is completed—we just need your help to get it into the world.
Unfortunately, “sharing” is often too narrowly conceived as being primarily about economic transactions. The poster-children of the sharing economy are being co-opted by the interests of venture capital and its insatiable demands for rapid growth and high-value exit strategies. Taskrabbit, started to make it easier for neighbors to help each other out with errands and chores, is becoming a glorified temping agency, leaving its participants in the same precarious boat as those on zero-hour contracts.
Capitalism is changing the weather. More fundamentally, it is changing the climate. This is the byproduct of an economic system that relies primarily on burning oil and coal to fuel production and enable the transportation of people and goods. In looking at capitalists’ responsibility for the climate crisis, a central question is whether capitalism must impact the environment in this way, or if it is capable of changing its mode of production so its continued operation does not change the climate.
In the interviews you hold with Chomsky and Hardt in Grabbing Back, both thinkers point out the irony whereby the so-called “socialist” governments that have been elected throughout much of Latin America in recent years—Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Uruguay, for example—notoriously have in fact been engaged in a significant intensification of the extractivist trends which their neoliberal precedecessors oversaw. This developmentalism has inexorably brought these “Pink Tide” governments into conflict with indigenous peoples, and it certainly has not been auspicious for nature, however much posturing Rafael Correa and Evo Morales like to advance in terms of the “rights of nature.”