Black and Green Review is a new anarcho-primitivist (AP) magazine with a single goal: to deepen the AP and Green Anarchist (GA) critiques through open discussion and debate.Black and Green Review
Black and Green Review is a new anarcho-primitivist (AP) magazine with a single goal: to deepen the AP and Green Anarchist (GA) critiques through open discussion and debate.
There is regrettably a long standing anarchist tradition of surface level dwelling. The words become subject to more scrutiny than the concepts and the discussion trickles to a self-reflexive standstill while meaningful action withers. We get lost in fluff and propaganda of the creed.
And yet the totality of civilization continues on around us. We have entered into a post-Peak Oil modernity within a globalized, techno-industrial civilization. Along with our old ghosts, we are joined by newer, ‘always on’ technological networks, energy extraction methods that go deeper, take more, and leave more toxins in their wake Climate instability shreds the residual ability of agricultural production and renders the world increasingly less habitable . The economy sinks, the rampages increase, the sixth great extinction unfolds.
Our context is the context of collapse. We have become a part of the unfolding process of a civilization stretched beyond its means and the strains of domestication unravel.
The AP critique is far from dead. Its relevance is written on the crumbling walls, inside empty granaries, underneath the veneer of control, and inside the rusted out gas wells.
It’s time to cut the shit. It’s time to be open and honest in our discussion. It’s time to be deliberate in word so that actions can follow suit.
What we hope to achieve is simple: to find our sacred cows, our open wounds, our hopes, and our fears, and to lay them out in the open, to force us to deal with them. We plan to achieve this through moderated debates, open questions for discussion, focused essays, critical reviews, engaged rewilding, and offline interactions.
We are in dire times, but we will never give in. On our path towards encompassing wildness; we will resist, we will fight, and we will never give up in the face of all odds. It’s time for some real talk. We hope you’ll join us.
Following the protests of the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, rumors and reports abounded of local police and FBI agents raiding apartments, infiltrating meeting places, and questioning activists—particularly anarchists, or those appearing to identify as anarchists—in the months leading up to the summit. A number of the firsthand accounts of encounters with the FBI and Chicago police came from Occupy Chicago activists, who housed out-of-town protesters and planned many of the weekend’s actions.New Documents Show FBI Targeted NATO Protesters
In the lead-up to the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, federal agents teamed with local police to find and interrogate suspected anarchists.
By Joel Handley
In These Times
January 21, 2015
Newly released documents give hard evidence of an amorphous FBI investigation into the political lives of Occupy participants, one apparently animated by a belief that adherents to the political philosophy of anarchism are prone to criminal activity.
Following the protests of the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, rumors and reports abounded of local police and FBI agents raiding apartments, infiltrating meeting places, and questioning activists—particularly anarchists, or those appearing to identify as anarchists—in the months leading up to the summit. A number of the firsthand accounts of encounters with the FBI and Chicago police came from Occupy Chicago activists, who housed out-of-town protesters and planned many of the weekend’s actions. The existence, if not the full extent, of the Chicago Police Department investigation was confirmed during the trial of three young summit protesters dubbed the NATO 3. In testimony from the undercover police behind the arrests, it emerged that plainclothes officers with the CPD Intelligence Unit had visited coffee shops, restaurants and concerts to try to find anarchists discussing the summit.
But the FBI, which has long regarded anarchists as a domestic terror threat and monitored events like the G8 and World Trade Organization meetings, has never confirmed investigating anarchists in advance of the NATO Summit. And a document trove released in December 2012 about FBI monitoring of Occupy protests around the country didn’t include any mention of Chicago.
To date, though there have been dozens of detailed histories written about the development of the Situationist International (the “SI”), which went through three overlapping phases between 1957 and 1972, none of them were written by a former member. Furthermore, none of the historians of the SI have been personally acquainted with the most important situationists (Michèle Bernstein, Guy Debord, Asger Jorn, Mustapha Khayati, René Viénet and Raoul Vaneigem), and so they weren’t able to offer accurate portraits of what these semi-legendary revolutionaries were like as people.Raoul Vaneigem's Autobiography
To date, though there have been dozens of detailed histories written about the development of the Situationist International (the “SI”), which went through three overlapping phases between 1957 and 1972, none of them were written by a former member. Furthermore, none of the historians of the SI have been personally acquainted with the most important situationists (Michèle Bernstein, Guy Debord, Asger Jorn, Mustapha Khayati, René Viénet and Raoul Vaneigem), and so they weren’t able to offer accurate portraits of what these semi-legendary revolutionaries were like as people.
Always the exception, Guy Debord – the only co-founder of the organization still a member of it when it disbanded – commented often and extensively about certain moments in the SI’s history (cf. “Notes to serve towards the history of the SI from 1969 to 1971”) and told his readers a good deal about what he himself was like (cf. Panegyric). And so, for a great many years, those who are interested in the situationists as both historical actors and as people have really only been acquainted with Debord and Debord’s evaluations of the others, about whom we’ve known little or nothing other than what Debord himself said about them. Almost unavoidably, Debord has become the face of the SI and the SI has been semi-successfully presented as just one of Debord’s many artistic creations.
With the very recent arrival of what amounts to Raoul Vaneigem’s autobiography – Rien n’est fini, tout commence (“Nothing has ended, everything begins”), published by Editions Allia in October 2014 – all this will have to change. Thanks to Vaneigem, who has given a few interviews before, but has never spoken at such great length about the SI or such “personal” subjects as his parents, his ex-wife, his alcoholism, and so forth, readers can now not only get a sense of what he’s like as a person, but Debord, Bernstein, Khayati and Viénet, as well.
In its original form, this book is credited to both Raoul Vaneigem and Gérard Berréby, who put it together “with the help of Sébastien Coffy and Fabienne Lesage.” Indeed, Rien n’est fini presents itself as a kind of collaboration between Vaneigem and Berréby, as if the two men were equals with respect to the subject at hand. In addition to asking Vaneigem questions and recording and transcribing his answers, Berréby speaks about his own life and opines on a large number of subjects; he footnotes his own remarks (as well as those of Vaneigem); and he adds a large number of photographs and supplementary texts, some of them by Vaneigem himself or others members of the SI, others by people who were close to the situs but not members of the organization (Pierre Lotrous, Jacques Le Glou, Yves Raynaud, Clairette Schock, and Thèrése Dubrule, aka the former Mrs. Raoul Vaneigem), and still others by authors who weren’t situationists and sometimes had little or no relevance to them. As a result, Rien n’est fini ends up being 393 pages long, with every page and every margin stuffed with something.
And yet, despite this great length, density and apparent comprehensiveness, the book’s chronology stops in the mid-1970s, even though Vaneigem wrote and published the vast majority of his 25-odd books since the 1990s. Furthermore, the book lacks most of the standard or traditional elements: there’s no preface, no bibliography and no index. In short, Rien n’est fini is a deformed creation – deformed by the ego of Gérard Berréby, who, it would seem, is ready to rest on his laurels for having published 15 situationist-related titles (as well as dozens of others) over the course of the last 30 years.
My translation tries to ameliorate this deformity. On the one hand, I have removed – that is to say, I have declined to translate – everything that is not relevant to Raoul Vaneigem himself and/or the SI as a whole. Here the reader should not worry: there were no gray areas; no texts that I had reservations about deleting. (As for the texts by the other situationists, they, too, have been translated, but have been posted as separate texts on the NOT BORED! website. Via hypertext links, my footnotes point the reader towards these texts at appropriate moments in the interview.) On the other hand, I have provided an index, a bibliography and this preface. As a result, Vaneigem: Self-Portraits and Caricatures of the Situationist International is shorter, leaner and easier to use than Rien n’est fini.
I’m sorry to say that, despite these improvements, this remains a deformed work, precisely because Vaneigem’s own testimony runs in two different directions. On the one hand, as he recounts his life from his childhood to his decision to join in the SI in 1961 and beyond (as late as 1967, when the book for which he is best known, Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes generations, was published), he is focused, perceptive, interesting and informative, and solidly in favor and proud of what the SI said and did while he was a member of it. But on the other hand, when the chronology crosses 1967 into 1968, he goes back over this same ground and – in remarks that sometimes seem distracted, shallow, tedious and politically correct – condemns not only particular texts (the denunciation of Henri Lefebvre in 1963, the illustrations for “España en el corazón” in 1964, and even the Traité itself, which was completed in 1965), but also the situationist movement as a whole, which he alleges, fell victim to the ideology of “situationism” as early as 1963.
At the end of this rather peculiar, contradictory back and forth, all that is left is Vaneigem himself and the promises that he made to himself “with an unshakeable conviction” when he resigned from the SI in November 1970: “Never again in a group, never again in a community. I will pursue my work alone”; “I focus on individual autonomy, on the creativity of each person.” For his part, Gérard Berréby agrees with the appropriateness of this simultaneous rejection of “community” and embrace of the autonomous “individual” as a strategy. The last lines of his interview with Frédérque Roussel, published by Libération on 1 October 2014, are, “For me, there is no other outcome than an individual solution, which will go against all that these movements have developed. In these times, one only thinks of the collective.”
But the people who are interested in Vaneigem and his books today are interested in him and them because he was a situationist (indeed, one of the most important ones). Generally speaking – and the decision to end the chronology in the 1970s supports the assertion that – people are not particularly interested in what Vaneigem has done on his own since then (even though a couple of his books from the 1980s and 1990s are as good as, if not better than, the texts he published in the 1960s).
And so, to ameliorate the various deformities within Vaneigem’s testimony – his patent rejection of the SI post-1963 and his concomitant rejection of collective engagement as such – I have used dozens of “translator’s notes” to show what unstunted growth might have looked like (especially during and after 1967). I have also used these footnotes to provide directly relevant, accurate and useful information; to clear up or point out potential ambiguities; and to indicate some of what Vaneigem has accomplished since the 1970s.
As a result of all this meddling, this book isn’t so much my translation of Rien n’est fini into English, but a détournement of it. To paraphrase Lautréamont’s Poésies (and Thesis 207 of Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle), I have held tightly to the text of Rien n’est fini, used its expressions, erased its false ideas, and replaced them with the correct ones. The final result has been called Self-Portraits and Caricatures because that is exactly what Vaneigem offers in it: portraits of himself and caricatures of the others.
Forty-seven years after the unification of Jerusalem, there are very few islands of Jewish-Arab coexistence in the city. Of these, one of the most noteworthy was the Egged bus cooperative. About half its drivers were East Jerusalem Palestinians, who say they received fair treatment, good wages and benefits – things few other East Jerusalem Palestinians enjoy.Fearing Jewish attacks, 100 Arab bus drivers in Jerusalem quit their jobs
‘It’s better to earn less money and not come home in a body bag,’ says one of 100 drivers who have left Egged since wave of violence started this summer.
Forty-seven years after the unification of Jerusalem, there are very few islands of Jewish-Arab coexistence in the city. Of these, one of the most noteworthy was the Egged bus cooperative. About half its drivers were East Jerusalem Palestinians, who say they received fair treatment, good wages and benefits – things few other East Jerusalem Palestinians enjoy.
But the wave of violence in the city in recent months, which has included violent attacks on Arab drivers, has caused 100 of them – about a third of Egged’s Arab drivers – to quit. Forty have officially resigned, while 60 have simply not shown up for work. This has severely disrupted public transportation in Jerusalem.
“I worked for Egged for six years,” said Arafat Tahan. “It was good work. But it’s better to earn less money and not come home in a body bag.”
Last Wednesday night, yet another Arab bus driver was attacked. Two Jewish men on a scooter drove up beside his bus in the Gilo neighborhood and tried to break the windshield. When this failed, they forced the bus to stop, threw a stone that shattered the windshield and took off.
In this case, the suspects were swiftly arrested. But usually, drivers say, the police are slow to react.
Drivers say scarcely a day has passed in recent months without at least one violent attack on an Arab driver. Tamir Nir, head of the municipal transportation department, confirms this. And that doesn’t include cursing, spitting or racist remarks.
“The situation is catastrophic,” said attorney Osama Ibrahem, who represents more than 40 drivers who have been attacked – mainly in the last four months. “Not a day passes without a physical assault,” he said. “I’m not talking about verbal assaults. They don’t even count those; that’s something they’ve learned to live with.”
The breaking point was the death of driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, who was found hanged on a bus in an Egged garage last month. The autopsy concluded that he hanged himself. His fellow drivers don’t believe that; they’re convinced he was murdered by Jewish extremists. The day after Ramouni’s death on November 16, most Arab drivers stayed home.
Tahan described an incident that occurred last month. After all the other passengers had left the bus at the final stop, several young men began cursing him: “Arab son of a bitch”; “terrorist.”
“I told them, ‘If I’m a terrorist, why are you riding with me?’” he recalled. “I opened the door and, suddenly, I got a fist in the nose and four of them jumped on me. I began driving; they left the vehicle and fled. I called the police and then lost consciousness and woke up in the hospital.” Doctors diagnosed a broken eye socket and other injuries.
Nighttime is the worst
Awad Ganin was attacked by several Jewish passengers last Saturday. One summoned the others from the back of the bus, saying, “Come, this driver doesn’t like Jews,” he told Channel 2 television. “One of them hit me in the chest – while I was driving.”
He continued to the terminus and parked the bus. When he stood up, however, they attacked him. “They kicked me in the side, hit my back. They pulled me from the [steering] wheel, outside, and began shouting ‘Death to the Arabs! We’ll kill you, you Arab.’”
Drivers say certain neighborhoods are particularly problematic, including the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo and Ramot. Nighttime is the worst, and most attacks occur at the last stop, after other passengers have left.
The problem isn’t unique to Jerusalem. Drivers from the Kavim bus company say they frequently suffer verbal and physical attacks in Betar Ilit and Modi’in Ilit, two ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlements.
“People get on and tell me, ‘I don’t want to pay, you’re an Arab son of bitch,” said one Kavim driver, Nidal Jitt. “And there’s one street where they always throw stones at us.”
Both Jewish and Arab bus drivers are also routinely stoned in Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem. And Jewish drivers complain of passengers who suspect them of being Arabs and demand to see their identity cards before boarding.
All the drivers say police are slow to react. Amjad Arikat said the windows of his bus were broken several times, but “You call the police and they get back to you after an hour.”
Ala Jaljal said that after thugs tried to beat him up on August 4, police arrested him instead of his assailants, holding him in a cell for seven hours for allegedly using tear gas. When they eventually released him, they refused to let him file a complaint against his attackers, he says. “The policeman told me, ‘Go home or we’ll arrest you,’ so I went.”
Drivers also accuse Egged of not doing enough to protect them. One said he had urged managers to speak with rabbis in Har Nof, or even halt bus service to the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood for a few days, but they refused. “I’m not willing to die for Egged,” he said.
Ibrahem argued that there should be a partition separating drivers from passengers. “That’s the only solution to the problem,” he said.
But that would require installing an automatic ticketing system: Currently, people buy tickets from the drivers. In the meantime, the police and Egged are considering other options, like installing security cameras in buses and placing more policemen in problem neighborhoods.
The police said in a statement that they respond to every complaint “immediately” and “professionally,” and are working closely with Egged on both open and undercover enforcement activities. “These operations have led to a decrease in incidents,” the statement added.
Egged said its bus service in Jerusalem is back to normal, adding that the cooperative “believes in coexistence and is working to recruit and train new drivers, including Arabs, to fill its ranks.” It denounced the violence against its drivers, but said this “isn’t unique to Jerusalem and doesn’t distinguish among drivers on the basis of religion, [ethnic] origin or gender.”
Egged provides support to drivers and their families, the statement continued, and relies on the police “to know how to deal with this outrageous phenomenon.”
Infoshop was experiencing some technical difficulties the last few days.
I apologize for the downtime.
I took the opportunity to upgrade to FreeBSD 10.1.
A man serving a 19-year prison sentence for environmental terrorism won an early release from prison on Thursday, with a California judge approving a settlement between defense lawyers and prosecutors. The defense said that the authorities had withheld evidence that could have bolstered his case at trial.Eric McDavid, Convicted of Environmental Terrorism, Wins Early Release
By COLIN MOYNIHAN
JAN. 8, 2015
New York Times
A man serving a 19-year prison sentence for environmental terrorism won an early release from prison on Thursday, with a California judge approving a settlement between defense lawyers and prosecutors. The defense said that the authorities had withheld evidence that could have bolstered his case at trial.
The man, Eric McDavid, 37, was convicted in 2007 of conspiring to bomb several targets near Sacramento as part of a radical environmental campaign. The government said he plotted attacks against government and commercial facilities that he believed were harming the environment, including cellphone towers and the Nimbus Dam in California. Mr. McDavid, who visited some sites and at one point tried to make homemade explosives, has served nine years in prison and will be released immediately, according to his lawyers.
His prosecution had become well known in environmental circles partly because of its star witness: a pink-haired informant who began covertly working for the F.B.I. at age 17 after writing a community college paper about infiltrating political protest groups.
Mr. McDavid’s lawyers had asked that his conviction be vacated, citing the withheld information, including a request by officials for a polygraph examination of the informant, code-named Anna, and various messages between her and Mr. McDavid.
Three Occupy Wall Street protesters have netted a sizable settlement from the city after filing a lawsuit saying they were brutalized by police officers.Occupy Wall Street Protesters Score $142,500 Settlement From New York City
Three Occupy Wall Street protesters have netted a sizable settlement from the city after filing a lawsuit saying they were brutalized by police officers.
Sandra Fields, 68, and Sean McKeown, 33, were each holding one end of a banner on September 25, 2012, when Fields was apparently attacked by Lieutenant Stephen Latalardo. According to the suit, Latalardo slammed Fields from behind, causing her head to hit the ground. A video shot at the scene shows Latalardo smirkingly telling Fields that she was being arrested for "displaying a banner."
“I was in shock,” Fields told the Daily News. “I was dumbfounded and really in pain.”
Thanks in part to video corroborating her claim, Fields has been awarded $75,000. McKeown will receive a $15,000 settlement, and a third party, Eric-John Russell, will receive $52,000 after successfully fighting a summons for "blocking traffic," despite the fact that he was shoved off the sidewalk and into the street by cops themselves.
Black Seed is a bi-annual green anarchist, submission-based publication. We are a conversational project meaning that our goal is to help facilitate face-to-face conversations based on submissions we have received and curated into a printed publication. Taking steps away from Internet culture feels integral to this project, though sadly, as you are likely reading this on a screen, we know too well it is a process for many of us to learn and re-learn. Exciting as printed words may be, we admit these ideas and experiences are largely born out of coping with the symptoms of civilization. So we ask you to share how you cope and critique, how you have tried to run away, how you have battled the demons of domestication, and how your heart pines for something new.Call For Submissions For Black Seed Issue #3
Black Seed is a bi-annual green anarchist, submission-based publication. We are a conversational project meaning that our goal is to help facilitate face-to-face conversations based on submissions we have received and curated into a printed publication. Taking steps away from Internet culture feels integral to this project, though sadly, as you are likely reading this on a screen, we know too well it is a process for many of us to learn and re-learn. Exciting as printed words may be, we admit these ideas and experiences are largely born out of coping with the symptoms of civilization. So we ask you to share how you cope and critique, how you have tried to run away, how you have battled the demons of domestication, and how your heart pines for something new.
Over the past year, we have explored continuing themes of spirituality, roles (if any) of anthropology in green anarchist thought, anarchist indigeneity, eco-defense in the US, to name a few. The main articles from Black Seed Issue #1 can be found here: http://blackseed.anarchyplanet.org/2015/01/07/content-from-black-seed-issue-1-now-available-online/
We've heard various murmurs of the paper, and wish to see more engagement with the ideas and stories. Consider this an invitation to the discussion. We are both looking for a continuance of conversations underway and excited to welcome new topics.
Deadline for Issue #3 is February 1st.
Send all articles, stories, etc. to blackseed (at) anarchyplanet (dot) org -OR-
Black Seed, PO Box 68271, Grand Rapids, MI, 49516.
If you have not seen the previous issue, you can order it at http://littleblackcart.com/Black-Seed-2.html
About 40 years ago animal rights was a concept promoted and activated by determined individuals, passionate about expanding their sphere of compassion. Not only did many of these animal rights activists go vegan but they also took action in the streets. Big colorful signs, petition signing, banner drops, and other tactics were deployed to disrupt the normalcy of routine non-human animal exploitation. Many of these tactics served to spread awareness of slaughterhouse atrocities in hopes of generating sympathy and agricultural reform. Overtime as more and more people began to acknowledge and speak out against non-human animal exploitation, tactics, ideas, and even other movements began to evolve.Unconditional Anti-Oppression: The Rise of Anti-Speciesism in the Anarchist Movement
Negotiation is over. Moving beyond liberal veganism.
About 40 years ago animal rights was a concept promoted and activated by determined individuals, passionate about expanding their sphere of compassion. Not only did many of these animal rights activists go vegan but they also took action in the streets. Big colorful signs, petition signing, banner drops, and other tactics were deployed to disrupt the normalcy of routine non-human animal exploitation. Many of these tactics served to spread awareness of slaughterhouse atrocities in hopes of generating sympathy and agricultural reform. Overtime as more and more people began to acknowledge and speak out against non-human animal exploitation, tactics, ideas, and even other movements began to evolve.
Today there is less sign holding and petition signing as these previous attempts for change have left many disappointed. As the treatment of non-human animals continued despite votes and petitions, activists went underground giving birth to many radical groups like the Animal Liberation Front, Animal Liberation Brigade, Animal Rights Militia, Revolutionary Cells, and so on. Many vegan liberals, disappointed by politicians and the state, had begun to re-examine their own political ideologies.
As tactical diversity grows beyond the state’s control with the intent of yielding self-initiated results, the animal rights movement is now commonly referred to as the “animal liberation movement”. This form of self-determination by individuals working in cells or affinity groups has become appealing for its effectiveness. Online petition signing has seen less activity as prisoner support through fund raising and letter-writing becomes more popular. Single-issue oriented activists have begun to diversify their activism in light of acknowledging the connection with social struggles, eco-defense, and decolonization. This expanding solidarity and mutual-aid has created new alliances, collective efforts, and new methods of resource sharing in many activist communities. The wave of increasingly radicalized vegans poses a threat to capitalism and the state. Today many once willing-to-negotiate activists have adopted new approaches that defy the lawfulness of peaceful protest and political reform. With an increase in property damage, liberated non-humans and appreciation for direct action, it was no surprise when the state constructed AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act ) in an effort to sway public opinion and discourage the growth of radicalized vegans.
Anti-speciesist anarchism. None are free until all are free.
Anthropocentrism and Speciesism
Anthropocentrism is the belief that humans are superior and therefore entitled to dominate other animals and the earth. This form of discrimination and privilege exists in the anarchist movement, and has played a key role in the perceiving of non-human animal and earth liberation as secondary movements. As any other supremacist ideology, anthropocentrism perpetuates discrimination, enslavement, and murder in general, and towards non-human animals in particular. It embodies an interlocking combination of oppressions which manifest in the dominating social relationship humans have towards each other, the earth and other animals. Similar to white supremacy with the discrimination of non-white people, and male supremacy with the discrimination of non-male identifying people, human supremacy refuses equal consideration and opportunity for non-human animals to pursue a life free of human control.
Like racism and sexism, speciesism is irrational discrimination towards non-human animals based on species. Anti-speciesist anarchism is an anti-authoritarian challenge to anthropocentrism. Biocentrism or Deep Ecology is the re-distribution of power and autonomy equally to all sentient beings through the destruction of human moral elitism. Humans have generally justified their exploitation of non-humans through the catagorization of “animals” as inferior therefore rightfully subjugated. Today many vegan anarchists have replaced “animals” with “non-human animals” or simply “other animals”.This serves to distinguish non-human animals from human animals, while also recognizing the shared animality of both. The word “rights” regarding non-human animals is less often used. Since “rights” in the political context imply permissions or privileges granted by the state, anti-speciesists generally feel this term is inconsistent with autonomous freedom. Anti-speciesism as a significant element and concept in the struggle for freedom is expanding as the intersectionality of all oppressions gains recognition.
Intersectionality is an examination of how all forms of oppression including but not limited to race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, species or disability do not act independently of one another but instead, are interrelated creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination. For example, capitalism utilizes speciesism to commodify non-human animals, reducing them to units of production and capital. The legal property status of non-human animals can be compared to that of the enslaved Africans prior to the Civil War. Reproductive control over women reflects the reproductive exploitation of non-human animals. Anti-capitalists who have acknowledged the relationship between non-human animals and capitalism have seen that such a relationship is the antithesis of freedom and must be abolished. Consuming non-human animals perpetuates the capitalist and human supremacist notion that they are sources of food rather than sentient beings deserving of their natural born right to freedom as humans expect for themselves.
Communication, language and imagery contribute to the mutual reinforcement of all oppressions. Since non-human animals are viewed as inferior, their imagery and identity is used as a derogatory way of describing disliked, oppressed or uncivilized humans. For example some of the most commonly known slurs towards women attack their physical appearance and involve non-human animals. In addition to degrading individual women these insults marginalize entire species of non-human animals as well. The hatred and speciesism towards pigs is encouraged when they are used to reference officers of colonial law. In various contexts, pigs, cows, and dogs are considered dirty, unclean, ugly, unlovable beings. These serve as stereotypes that excuse and encourage their exploitation. In the eyes of a speciesist, non-human animals serve to metaphorically reference oppressed humans. Some non-human animals are used to describe people of color (monkey, ape, coon etc) other non-humans are used in the same way for women (bitch, chick, cow etc). People of color who break laws or act out their emotions are often referred to as animals, and a women who acts out her frustration or anger is often referred to as a “bitch”. The marginalization of non-human animals is intimately intertwined with the oppression upon them. When examined, the mechanisms of domination, violence, and control are the same.
Beyond “veganarchism”; anarchism means total liberation for all
The term “veganarchism” has played an important part in distinguishing the growing wave of anti-speciesist anarchy from traditional anarchism. But as earth and non-human animal liberation gain recognition for their place in the anarchist struggle, the continued usage of “veganarchism” becomes problematic. The term “veganarchism” preserves the same false division currently withering away. It also draws more attention towards veganism as an action without a preexisting cause. This leads to more dialogue and attention on veganism as merely dietary rather than enough dialogue on the oppression of non-veganism. Speciesism, anthropocentrism, and the authoritarianism in consuming other sentient beings for food receives less exposure to criticism than veganism. This imbalance usually results in drawn out debates about veganism being classist or racist. While it is a common mistake for speciesist anarchists to impose white imperialism upon veganism (which marginalizes vegans of color by assuming that whites are the only ones concerned with deep ecology, health, and non-human animal liberation, this mistake is almost inevitable when the scope of veganism is reduced to Western culture rather than global anti-colonialism. Anti-speciesism is increasingly viewed as consistent with anti-oppression, and biocentrism consistent with anti-authoritarianism. This combination of earth, non-human and human animal liberation presents an anarchist struggle for total liberation.
Speciesism is still widely tolerated in many anarchist communities. Despite the growing number of anarchist vegans, speciesism and anthropocentrism are still viewed as secondary problems. Some blame the language barrier between human and non-human animals for this lack of consideration. Intelligence, physical limitations and sometimes even the question of sentience all play a role in speciesist apologism. But as more anarchists acknowledge the intersectionalism and interdependence of all oppressions, veganism is viewed as the logical process of being anti-speciesist. Anarchism without anti-speciesism allows space for irrational discrimination, domination, and oppression. Furthermore, anarchism without veganism allows space for patriarchy and rape culture. The consumption of milk from cows or eggs from chickens enables the coercive and sexual exploitation of vagina-bearing individuals. Without total freedom for all, authority and oppression remain over some to benefit those in a position of power and privilege.
More anarchist collectives have extended solidarity to non-human animals through promoting veganism, opening up anti-speciesist spaces, and being vocal against non-human animal oppression. Guerrilla gardening, community gardening and polyculture are on the rise in many anti-oppression communities in an effort to combat monoculture and Genetically Modified foods which colonize other lands with industrialization and environmental destruction. Despite ever-increasing state repression, a gradual increase of property destruction attributed to non-human animal liberation continues. In online forums and in the streets, speciesism within the anarchist community is receiving more constructive criticism. Anti-speciesism means critically examining social interactions and communication between all animals, human and non-human alike. In the process of eliminating oppressive language and practices, solidarity is extended with power, respect, and equality to all who are oppressed. Many anarchists across the globe have embraced veganism not only as a practice of healthy survival but also as an extention of solidarity beyond the speciesist limits of human struggle. Today one can see the merging of the anarchist anti-capitalist/anti-fascist struggle with the eco-defense, animal and earth liberation movements. These struggles in combination present an uncompromising war against capitalism, the state, civilization and the myriad of colonial oppression.
On Tuesday December 16th, a large police operation took place in the Spanish State. Fourteen houses and social centers were raided in Barcelona, Sabadell, Manresa, and Madrid. Books, leaflets, computers were seized and eleven people were arrested and sent to the Audiencia Nacional, a special court handling issues of “national interest”, in Madrid. They are accused of incorporation, promotion, management, and membership of a terrorist organisation.Riseup.net: Security is not a crime
On Tuesday December 16th, a large police operation took place in the Spanish State. Fourteen houses and social centers were raided in Barcelona, Sabadell, Manresa, and Madrid. Books, leaflets, computers were seized and eleven people were arrested and sent to the Audiencia Nacional, a special court handling issues of “national interest”, in Madrid. They are accused of incorporation, promotion, management, and membership of a terrorist organisation. However, lawyers for the defence denounce a lack of transparency, saying that their clients have had to make statements without knowing what they are accused of. “[They] speak of terrorism without specifying concrete criminal acts, or concrete individualized facts attributed to each of them” 2. When challenged on this, Judge Bermúdez responded: “I am not investigating specific acts, I am investigating the organization, and the threat they might pose in the future”; making this yet another case of apparently preventative arrests.
Four of the detainees have been released, but seven have been jailed pending trial. The reasons given by the judge for their continued detention include the posession of certain books, "the production of publications and forms of communication”, and the fact that the defendants “used emails with extreme security measures, such as the RISE UP server”.
We reject this Kafka-esque criminalization of social movements, and the ludicrous and extremely alarming implication that protecting one’s internet privacy is tantamount to terrorism.
Riseup, like any other email provider, has an obligation to protect the privacy of its users. Many of the “extreme security measures” used by Riseup are common best practices for online security and are also used by providers such as hotmail, GMail or Facebook. However, unlike these providers, Riseup is not willing to allow illegal backdoors or sell our users’ data to third parties.
The European Parliament’s report on the US NSA surveillance program states that “privacy is not a luxury right, but the foundation stone of a free and democratic society”. Recent revelations about the extent to which States violate everyone’s right to privacy show that everything that can be spied upon will be spied upon. Furthermore, we know that criminalizing people for using privacy tools also has a chilling effect on everybody, and human-rights defenders, journalists, and activists, in particular. Giving up your basic right to privacy for fear of being flagged as a terrorist is unacceptable.
It was the first Friday of December, which in Oakland usually means hoards of people descending onto Telegraph Avenue for the monthly Art Murmur festival. But on this night, a much different crowd filled the streets. After successfully shutting down the 880 freeway and West Oakland BART station, hundreds of people outraged at the recent police murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner marched towards 14th and Broadway downtown. Suddenly, the sound of shattering glass echoed everywhere; someone had smashed out the windows of a new wine bar. Cheers of joy went up from most of the crowd, but a few rushed to protect the vandalized shop: “Stop! This is a local business!”Smashed Up: Young Service Workers on the Sanctity of Small Business
It was the first Friday of December, which in Oakland usually means hoards of people descending onto Telegraph Avenue for the monthly Art Murmur festival. But on this night, a much different crowd filled the streets. After successfully shutting down the 880 freeway and West Oakland BART station, hundreds of people outraged at the recent police murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner marched towards 14th and Broadway downtown. Suddenly, the sound of shattering glass echoed everywhere; someone had smashed out the windows of a new wine bar. Cheers of joy went up from most of the crowd, but a few rushed to protect the vandalized shop: “Stop! This is a local business!”
Although corporate chains bore the brunt of the vandalism and looting in the most recent wave of actions against police murders, protesters also tagged and smashed windows at smaller businesses in gentrifying neighborhoods like Temescal and Downtown Berkeley. In the wake of these actions, some movement sympathizers have been quick to criticize the vandalism of local businesses, implying that locally owned businesses are not a legitimate target of popular anger. Even some who sympathize with property destruction of corporate targets like Chase Bank argue against targeting small businesses.
Based on our experience working for small businesses and as white workers who are actively in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, we want to suggest that not only is it appropriate to organize against and express anger at such places, but given the corresponding rise of upscale establishments, mass displacement, and police violence in the Bay Area, it may also be a strategic direction for our movements.Locally-grown exploitation
The defense of small businesses in the Bay Area relies on a misplaced liberal morality which contrasts “good” local businesses and “evil” corporate ones. This dichotomy has become dogma for many people, who amount their consumer choices to brave political acts. Feel bad about sweat shops? Purchase your next gift at a local boutique! Recession got you down? Shovel dollars into your local economy and dad just might get his job back. But are local businesses actually better for the majority of us?
The dominant image of small businesses as Mom and Pop stores run by elderly couples who work long hours as a labor of love is not reflected in the local economy. The reality is closer to a young, wealthy owner who does not work in their own store but instead employs a small group of wage laborers. And since small businesses don’t have the profit margins of large corporations, they often rely on sweatshop discipline and poverty wages to make ends meet. Most anyone who has worked in the industry can attest to a repressive atmosphere: workers are not allowed on breaks, are scolded for talking to co-workers and punished for showing up five minutes late. Furthermore, even service workers who make tips frequently earn below a living wage and are subjected to unpredictable work schedules that necessitate finding a second or third job. When these practices happen at large corporate chains, they become the themes of documentaries, muckraking articles in the liberal press, and bumper sticker slogans. But when they’re used by local businesses, they’re written off as necessary evils.
In higher-end establishments, employers frequently justify poor treatment by trying to instill pride and artistic ambitions in their employees; workers are all but required to do extra learning, research, and labor outside of the workday to satisfy the employers’ need to serve the coolest new cocktail or coffee bean. At a recent mandatory meeting for an East Bay-based organic catering company, workers were told by the CEO: “This is not a job; it’s a craft. You are all artists, and you should treat your job as such. If you don’t, you won’t succeed in this company.” What he was saying was that if you do not invest hours off the clock in becoming a more efficient and valuable worker, we won’t employ you.
By romanticizing small businesses like the hip restaurants, cafes and bars currently springing up all over Oakland, we gloss over the experiences of the low wage workers who make them possible. When compared to the horrendous treatment that service workers must endure, the shattering or spray-painting of a few windows does not even the score.A divided house
While we as low wage white service workers are exploited by small business owners, we must recognize that our race and class positions heavily shape our treatment in the workplace. Our jobs are often segregated in much the same way the Bay is, that is, although we work for the same employer, our experience of work is dramatically different. Young service workers are often subjected to bad treatment and low wages, but they are also offered the jobs that pay relatively better, bring in tips and earn more respect from management. Back of the house workers (i.e dishwashers, lower-level cooks), in addition to dealing with unpredictable schedules, job instability, and intense pace of work, are also paid less and completely excluded from the broader culture and decision-making of the workplace. Back of the house employees are usually immigrants and almost always people of color, and are thus subjected to a variety of racist abuses from higher-ups. At our work places we’ve seen chefs berate prep cooks for “not speaking English correctly,” small organic farmers complain that their Latino farm workers are “lazy because they hang out with their family and community too much,” and a group of immigrant women workers be falsely accused of stealing and subsequently fired. Multiply these encounters thousands of times and you get an idea of the nature of local business in the Bay Area.
Additionally, wage theft among immigrant workers is occurring on a drastic scale. Wage theft in California costs workers an estimated $390 million a year, and it largely affects those in smaller independent businesses, as these employers more frequently operate “under the table” and pay people in cash. Furthermore, workers who try to reclaim these wages by filing complaints with the state only recover roughly 17 cents on the dollar, as businesses have developed a variety of tricks to avoid payment.
As white workers, we realize that there is a huge difference in how we experience working in these places. Racial segregation, hierarchies, and exploitation of immigrants prop up these businesses, so it’s important for us to find creative ways to work in solidarity with our coworkers, both in our workplaces and in the streets. Although we too labor under highly exploitative conditions, we must admit the relatively superior position we are in, in terms of the jobs/wages that are accessible to us, and the fluidity with which we can change employers.Small business, the police, and displacement
Most of the vandalism during recent actions happened in rapidly gentrifying areas where long-term Oakland residents, working class people and people of color are being displaced and upscale restaurants, craft coffee shops and other small businesses are moving in.
These new businesses cater almost exclusively to people with money, both in their aesthetics and in the price of their products. Low wage workers are not the intended market for $12 craft cocktails, $40 dinners and $3 cups of coffee that take 20 minutes to make, even if we can splurge on a night out once in a while. Whole blocks of Uptown are overrun by fancy bars that cater to a gentrifying, privileged class that defines food and drinks by how rare, artisanal and “exotic” they are. In other words, they are marketed exclusively for those with money.
More importantly, as these small businesses move into neighborhoods that have long been populated by working-class people of color, they make demands of the city to protect their investments. This usually means beefing up police presence in neighborhoods targeted for development. As former Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said back in 2010,
“I believe police departments are economic drivers. If you have bad stories coming out about crime or bad policing, investors are not going to come to a city. So in an industrial age city that is built much like Oakland has been an industrial age power house, it has to redo itself, it has to re-engineer itself with a different economy, and in order for that to happen you have to have a lot of investment, whether its federal funds or from private investors to come. Nobody’s going to invest in a city when you have a high crime rate so you have to drop that.”
When combined with the suspicion of white neighbors, this increased policing in certain areas can have deadly consequences, as we saw with the police murder of unarmed Alex Nieto in San Francisco in 2014.
Small businesses also collaborate with the city to receive lucrative tax breaks, which line the pockets of business owners and developers, even as those same developers loot the wealth that our communities create through our labor and drive up housing costs. For example, $50 million was invested to renovate the Old Oakland neighborhood, now populated mostly by upscale bars and restaurants which receive a variety of tax breaks and other subsidies from local, state and federal programs. How often do we see these same establishments using their resources, social capital, or political connections to contribute to community struggles for justice? In times of low protest activity, businesses often work actively against the communities they are located in. In a January 2013 “community forum” held at Homeroom, a mac and cheese restaurant in North Oakland, mostly white residents talked about “cracking down on crime” in the neighborhood — a far cry from addressing the displacement of long-term residents. But during the current upsurge in popular anger, small business owners are coming out loudly in the media to assert that they support the fight for racial equality, but as they like to claim, rioting is just distracting from the message. As the executive chef of the wine bar mentioned above said after his windows were smashed: “I understand what you are protesting—what happened to [Eric Garner and Mike Brown] was wrong—but what’s happening to us, that’s fucked up.”
In actuality, this class of small business owners can only survive through the employment of cheap labor, largely provided to them by undocumented immigrants and young people, criminalization of communities of color, and state intervention. They are not upset because rioting “distracts from the message.”, they never cared about the message in the first place. In fact, they are scared because those things which allows them to generate their wealth are finally being called into question and lots of people are listening.An injustice anywhere
We cannot create exceptions or excuses for exploitation and injustice. As workers in the local service industry, it makes no difference to us whether our boss is a local resident who only owns one or two restaurants, or whether he’s a billionaire CEO living in a mansion. The mere fact that the businesses we work for are built on the exploitation of our labor, racial hierarchies, state violence, and displacement of whole communities, makes them perfectly justifiable outlets for our anger and our movement organizing. We are not just talking about vandalism, but about a broader orientation that rejects the sanctity of small business and re-affirms a strategy based in dismantling white supremacy, police violence and the exploitation of labor.
While we know that merely forcing these businesses out of town would not lead to a more just situation for workers or residents, we also can’t envision a democratic community alongside any space that caters to wealthy, mostly white people and survives through the exploitation of workers and preferential treatment from the state. When the riots inevitably die down, what can we do to continue to express our discontent?
Merely criticizing or vandalizing these upscale businesses will probably not bring us justice. We also need to organize amongst our co-workers, demand better conditions, form pockets of organized workers and take direct action, both in the streets and on the job. Joining our often-segregated workforces together with a strategy rooted in direct action, which at times will include mass rebellion, has the makings of a powerful movement. We’ve seen how much we can do in the streets in a short amount of time — shutting down multiple major routes of transportation for two weeks in a row is no small feat– imagine what we could do if we kept going.
This article was written by the East Bay Solidarity Network.
The East Bay Solidarity Network is an organizing collective based in Oakland. We support working-class and poor people in directly confronting exploitation, violence, and injustice. We organize strategic direct action campaigns against landlords, employers, and the state, as well as form alliances with communities and organizations who are most affected by capitalism and systems of domination. We want to resist all manifestations of oppression that occur in our world, in our organizations, and in ourselves. This means actively fighting white supremacy, heteropatriarchy and colonialism. We also seek to mobilize the resources of privileged communities to lend capacity and tangible support to those who are struggling for their own liberation.
To contact us, please visit eastbaysol.wordpress.com, or email email@example.com, or check us out on Facebook.
If you’re having a problem with your boss and want to fight back, call us: 510-556-4208
If you’re having a problem with you’re landlord and want to fight back, you can call: 510-239-3219
Right-wing calls for austerity suggest more than a market-driven desire to punish the poor, working class and middle class by distributing wealth upwards to the 1%. They also point to a politics of disposability in which the social provisions, public spheres and institutions that nourish democratic values and social relations are being dismantled, including public and higher education. Neoliberal austerity policies embody an ideology that produces both zones of abandonment and forms of social and civil death while also infusing society with a culture of increasing hardship. It also makes clear that the weapons of class warfare do not reside only in oppressive modes of state terrorism such as the militarization of the police, but also in policies that inflict misery, immiseration and suffering on the vast majority of the population.Authoritarianism, Class Warfare and the Advance of Neoliberal Austerity Policies
By Henry A. Giroux
January 5, 2015
Right-wing calls for austerity suggest more than a market-driven desire to punish the poor, working class and middle class by distributing wealth upwards to the 1%. They also point to a politics of disposability in which the social provisions, public spheres and institutions that nourish democratic values and social relations are being dismantled, including public and higher education. Neoliberal austerity policies embody an ideology that produces both zones of abandonment and forms of social and civil death while also infusing society with a culture of increasing hardship. It also makes clear that the weapons of class warfare do not reside only in oppressive modes of state terrorism such as the militarization of the police, but also in policies that inflict misery, immiseration and suffering on the vast majority of the population.
Capitalism has learned to create host organisms and in the current historical conjuncture one of those organisms is young people, who are forced to live under the burden of crushing debt. (1) Moreover in the midst of a widening inequality in wealth, income and power, workers, single mothers, youth, immigrants and poor people of color are being plunged into either low-paying jobs or a future without decent employment. (2) For the sick and elderly, it means choosing between food and medicine. Austerity now drives an exchange relationship in which the only value that matters is exchange value and for students that means paying increased tuition that generates profits for credit companies while allowing the state to lower taxes on the rich and mega corporations. (3)
Under this regime of widening inequality that imposes enormous constraints on the choices that people can make, austerity measures function as a set of hyper-punitive policies and practices that produce massive amounts of suffering, rob people of their dignity and then humiliate them by suggesting that they bear sole responsibility for their plight. This is more than the scandal of a perverted form of neoliberal rationality; it is the precondition for an emerging authoritarian state with its proliferating extremist ideologies and its growing militarization and criminalization of all aspects of everyday life and social behavior. (4) Richard D. Wolff has argued that "Austerity is yet another extreme burden imposed on the global economy by the capitalist crisis (in addition to the millions suffering unemployment, reduced global trade, etc.)." (5) He is certainly right, but it is more than a burden imposed on the 99%; it is the latest stage of market warfare, class consolidation and a ruthless grab for power waged on the part of the neoliberal, global, financial elite who are both heartless and indifferent to the mad violence and unchecked misery they impose on much of humanity.
On Friday, on the eve of the annual meeting of The American Economic Association in Boston, attended by many of the top economists in the United States, the agents of the heterodoxy had come to declare war on the profession. The small group threw their messages onto the side of the Sheraton Boston in glowing, six-foot tall letters: “BEFORE ECONOMICS CAN PROGRESS, IT MUST ABANDON ITS SUICIDAL FORMALISM.”The protesters who are trying to upend the ‘fantasy world’ of economics
By Jeff Guo
January 5, 2015
There were leaflets, a manifesto, and this warning: “On campus after campus, we will chase you old goats out of power. Then, in the months and years that follow, we will begin the work of reprogramming the doomsday machine.”
On Friday, on the eve of the annual meeting of The American Economic Association in Boston, attended by many of the top economists in the United States, the agents of the heterodoxy had come to declare war on the profession. The small group threw their messages onto the side of the Sheraton Boston in glowing, six-foot tall letters: “BEFORE ECONOMICS CAN PROGRESS, IT MUST ABANDON ITS SUICIDAL FORMALISM.”
“The projection’s looking great,” said Keith Harrington, bearded, bespectacled, and bundled-up, as the sun set in the subzero weather.
“It’s a twelve-thousand lumen projector,” said Kyle Depew, who had schlepped the suitcase-sized thing from New York that day.
I didn’t want to think this piece through too much before I wrote it, because I knew if I did, I wouldn’t write it. These topics are difficult for me, but I am putting these thoughts into words now because I believe it’s time, and because there is too much unnecessary suffering in our organizing spaces. I have tried to speak to these issues in community, but very few of us speak to them loudly enough. So, to anyone who has ever been harmed by my silence, or who could have been helped by my willingness to speak louder, I hope you will see this piece as the beginning of my amends.Addiction, Mental Health, Safe Spaces and Stigmatization
By Kelly Hayes
January 4, 2015
I didn’t want to think this piece through too much before I wrote it, because I knew if I did, I wouldn’t write it. These topics are difficult for me, but I am putting these thoughts into words now because I believe it’s time, and because there is too much unnecessary suffering in our organizing spaces. I have tried to speak to these issues in community, but very few of us speak to them loudly enough. So, to anyone who has ever been harmed by my silence, or who could have been helped by my willingness to speak louder, I hope you will see this piece as the beginning of my amends.
To everyone else, please understand that I write this from a place of love. I recognize the good in you, and I am steadily grateful that I live and work in a beautiful, radical community. This community allows me to participate in the creation of change and spaces that make my life worth living, and I appreciate that more than I can say. But we all know, or at least should realize, that our good intentions do not exempt us from the failings of our society. Despite all we have learned, we still stigmatize what we should not, and at times, put social expediency before the creation and maintenance of safer spaces. It’s time for that to change, because the world we want must begin with the spaces we create for ourselves.
On mental health…
Most of the people I work with know that I suffer from depression. It is, at times, quite crippling. There have been periods of my life when I have been convinced that I would eventually be the cause of my own death, either through suicide or recklessness, and that the only question mark was when it would happen. Again, many people are aware of this, and have seen me struggle as painfully as I have with any of the serious physical afflictions I have suffered from in my life (some of which have been quite grave).
What I say out loud less often is that I live with bipolar disorder. Like many people suffering from a treatable, chronic illness, I manage my condition medically and manage to function in spite of it. And like many who suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, or asthma, my illness occasionally flares up in spite of treatment, and requires an alteration in care, or a great deal of patience. But unlike many illnesses that manifest themselves in a more obvious, physical manner, my illness remains highly stigmatized. In some contexts, I fear it being made known at all. When the words “bipolar disorder” come up in conversation, or in the media, assumptions are made, and prejudices surface. This is true of many mental illnesses, and the stigmatization inspires a great deal of fear.
“In Rojava: People’s War is not Class War”, which you can read below, represents a contribution of “Internationalist Communist Tendency” (ICT) to a debate that has been taking place in certain circles claiming “anti-capitalist struggle” since several weeks. The central points of this discussion are current events in Western Kurdistan, Rojava.In Rojava: People’s War is not Class War
“In Rojava: People’s War is not Class War”, which you can read below, represents a contribution of “Internationalist Communist Tendency” (ICT) to a debate that has been taking place in certain circles claiming “anti-capitalist struggle” since several weeks. The central points of this discussion are current events in Western Kurdistan, Rojava.
Even if we generally don’t agree with the ideological corpus of ICT (despite some programmatic positions and references in common), we nevertheless decided to publish here this text and to translate it in Czech and in French from the original English version because we share the defence of internationalist positions expressed in it. State is not merely a structure of government, police, army and administrative apparatus, State, as the communist movement grasps it, is a social relation, materialization of capitalist world order, no matter whether its legitimacy is based on parliament or community assemblies. If therefore PKK and its PYD’s henchmen claim that they do not seek to create a State, it is just because in reality they already – due to their role, practical and ideological, they play in Rojava – represent the State. This is what some of PKK’s partisans call quite rightly “a State without a State”, i.e. a State that doesn’t necessarily territorialize as a Nation-State, but which ultimately really constitutes a State in the sense that capitalist social relations, private property, are not fundamentally challenged.
Unlike all kinds of euro-centrists and other worshippers of the world division into “central countries” (which are the only ones the spark of revolution could come from) on one hand and the “periphery” of capitalism on the other hand, we do not doubt that there is a proletarian movement in Rojava (as in the whole region of Middle-East, and that’s quite a fundamental disagreement we have with ICT positions in general), a movement that in spite of its weaknesses aim, however only partially, to emancipate the working class, and that in this sense is an integral part of worldwide proletarian movement heading towards abolition of capitalism and creating of a real human community – communism. Neither PKK nor PYD however represent this movement and this despite their seemingly pro-socialist proclamations and declarations in favour of this fashionable fetish of direct democracy (through the so-called “political turn” of PKK which would adopt “democratic confederalism”, “communalism” and “municipalism” dear to a whole a stream of Proudhonian libertarians all over the world). And if some would-be revolutionaries will continue to support them without any critique (or even while adopting a “critical support” à la Trotsky), they will become the gravediggers of this fragile movement in the same way as it happened with supporting the Popular Front in Spain 1936.
The main players in the current developing international support campaign for Rojava, acting as spokesmen of such organizations as PKK or PYD and its armed groups (YPJ and YPG), do nothing but confuse the existing social movement with organized and formal political forces that claim to be the representatives and leaders of the current struggles. The fact that Marxist-Leninist organizations (Bolshevik, Stalinist, Maoist, Trotskyite, etc.), which were historically nothing but the capitalist left whose task has been and will be to supervise and quell in blood the struggles of our class, support statist sister organizations such as PKK or PYD, is quite normal. The fact that “anarchists”, “libertarians”, “libertarian communists”, “communist anarchists” who always claimed to fight against the State, against any form of State, do the same and take part in this campaign (in a “critical” way or not), doesn’t surprise us either but nevertheless urges us to raise the issue and develop some comments.
First, the campaign of “solidarity with Rojava” that is a distortion of an obvious need for solidarity with proletarians in struggle throughout the region, as all over the world, this campaign supporting the struggle for national liberation (here the Kurdish one) is not the prerogative of one family but it goes right through both big ideological families that talk in the name of the proletariat, and even causes divisions within them as they are torn between the supporters of the “Kurdish issue” and “oppressed peoples” on one hand and those who defend internationalist positions on the other hand. Indeed, in the “Marxist” ideological family as well as in the family of “ideological anarchism”, there are pros and contras. Therefore it is very clear that demarcation lines are not located (about this issue as well as more generally about the question of war and the tasks of revolutionary militants), between “Marxists” and “anarchists” but between the supporters of national liberation and therefore of bourgeois State and capitalism (even repainted in red) on one hand and the militants who develop genuine internationalism on the other hand, in short between the defenders of the bourgeois party for the proletariat (Social-Democracy under any political colours it is able to adorn itself with) and the fighters of the only “party” freeing all humanity, the party of the revolutionary proletariat, the World Communist Party, “the Party of Anarchy” (Karl Marx).
Then, whereas almost all sectors of anarchism historically and vehemently refuse any reference to “the dictatorship of the proletariat” they wrongly put into the same category as the real dictatorship of the value imposed to the proletariat for decades on behalf of communism in countries that proclaimed themselves to be “communist” and were named as such by Western bourgeois propaganda, now we see these “anarchists” forgetting all their “principles” and raising the flag of PKK and its State as a “lesser evil” as it was recently revealed by a stand taken and published by the Anarkismo network: “The issue of the relation of anarchists and syndicalists to movements like the PKK – movements that are not explicitly, or even thoroughly, anarchist – is a matter of controversy. A substantial section of the anarchist movement, particularly the large platformist and especifista network around Anarkismo.net, has supported the PKK, although not uncritically. […] Under the current circumstances of ISIS invading Kobane, even if democratic confederalism is defeated in Rojava internally by PYD elements and they implement a state, that state (from what we have read of the PYD) would be better than the other options that are real possibilities, being ISIS, Assad, or the KRG. […] In summary, applying our general approach, we can say of the battle for Rojava: we support the struggle for the national liberation of the Kurds, including the right of the national liberation movement to exist; […]; our support moves on a sliding scale, with Kurdish anarchists and syndicalists at the top, followed by the PKK, then the PYD, and we draw the line at the KRG; in practical terms, we cooperate around, and offer solidarity (even if only verbal) on a range of concrete issues, the most immediate of which is the battle to halt the ultra-right Islamic State and defend the Rojava revolution; within that revolution, we align ourselves with the PKK model of democratic confederalism against the more statist approach of the PYD models, and, even when doing so, aim at all times to propose and win influence for our methods, aims and projects: we are with the PKK against the KRG, but we are for the anarchist revolution before all else.” [http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27540/] [our emphasis] As we can see in this quote, nothing has changed since at least 1936 and “ideological anarchism” continues as much as then to justify a “lesser evil” (which in practice always proves to be the worse!) and sacrifices thus social revolution on the altar of political profitability, pragmatism and opportunism, or any other expression of the bourgeois politics rainbow. While yesterday in Spain, these “anarchists” (CNT-FAI) led astray the struggles of our class, they refused what they called “the dictatorship of anarchy” (i.e. the development of elementary and drastic measures to be imposed on the bourgeoisie, the struggle against private property, in order to satisfy the needs of the revolution), while they channelled the social movement on the rails of republican legality, these ladies and gentlemen had dealings with the forces of the Popular Front, with the “socialists” as well as the Stalinists, they entered the bourgeois governments and assumed thus their role in the State repression against our class. Today again, certain “anarchists” rub shoulders with the same political forces that bear no proletarian program, no revolutionary perspective, going as far as to overtly claim their militant support not to some of the revolutionary expressions emerging with difficulty from the quagmire of social peace but rather more prosaically to “progressive popular struggles” (cf. Anarkismo’s text already quoted), and this all the more easily since it is difficult to detect with force and certainty the programmatic and effective autonomy of our class on the ground in Rojava. No proletarian and communist expression emerges with force (at least given the few militant information coming from there) as it existed for example in the 1991 uprisings in Iraq where significant expressions of proletarian associationism have arisen.
These are only some comments in relation to this important debate which significance goes beyond the “Kurdish issue” and the support or not (and how) to “the resistance in Rojava”. This is also about the question of war as well as the question of class struggle, class war, and the affirmation of the proletariat as an organized force imposing the satisfaction of its needs. We would like to finish this little introduction, while suggesting some other critical texts that inspire us, even if we have strong reservations about some of their weaknesses and limitations. Debate and discussion are far from being over… “Rojava: an anarcho-syndicalist perspective” by WSA [http://libcom.org/blog/rojava-anarcho-syndicalist-perspective-18102014] “Anarchist Federation statement on Rojava: December 2014” [http://libcom.org/news/anarchist-federation-statement-rojava-december-2014-02122014]
“Rojava: Fantasies and Realities” by Zafer Onat [http://www.servetdusmani.org/rojava-fantasies-and-realities/]
PS: We would like to say a last thing to all those who, after these not very popular critics, would doubt about our solidarity with proletarians in struggle in the Middle-East and everywhere else: since the emergence of the so-called “Arabian spring”, we did publish no less than five texts and/or leaflets directly dedicated to this issue which are clear-cut affirmations in favour of struggles against misery and exploitation (without counting the various texts of other groups that we translated in Czech, which we made a presentation of, and we distributed through our internationalist militant network). Not only we produced our own texts in the three languages of our group (Czech, English, French) but they were also translated and distributed by various militant expressions all over the world, in German, Arabic, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Turkish…
In Rojava: People’s War is not Class War
“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce (…)
The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living (…)
The social revolution (…) cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped away all superstition about the past. The former revolutions required recollections of past world history in order to smother their own content. The revolution (…) must let the dead bury their dead in order to arrive at its own content.”
Spain in Historical Context
David Graeber’s article, “Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?”, has been widely syndicated in the anarchist and liberal press. In it he talks of the “scandal” of how the social revolution in Western Kurdistan (Rojava) is being ignored by everyone including an undefined “revolutionary left”. He chooses to start on a deliberately subjective note by announcing that his father volunteered to fight for the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War in 1937. He goes on
“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.
Spanish revolutionaries hoped to create a vision of a free society that the entire world might follow. Instead, world powers declared a policy of “non-intervention” and maintained a rigorous blockade on the republic, even after Hitler and Mussolini, ostensible signatories, began pouring in troops and weapons to reinforce the fascist side. The result was years of civil war that ended with the suppression of the revolution and some of a bloody century’s bloodiest massacres.
I never thought I would, in my own lifetime, see the same thing happen again.”
Our professor of anthropology […] clearly needs to study history more carefully. The military coup of July 18 1936 against the Second Spanish Republic came after years of class struggle. The Popular Front government of socialists and liberals did not know how to respond but the workers did. When the liberal ministers refused to arm the workers they attacked the barracks of the regime and armed themselves. This unleashed a social revolution which in various parts of Spain was almost as Graeber describes it. However it did not touch the political power of the bourgeois Spanish Republic. The state was not destroyed. The leading anarchists of the CNT-FAI first decided to support the Catalan regional government of the bourgeois Luis Companys and then, only 5 months later, entered the Madrid government with liberals and Stalinists. They decided to put the fight against “fascism” before the social revolution. In so doing they abandoned any working class agenda and delivered the revolution over to the bourgeoisie. It is the most shameful episode in anarchist history and most anarchist historians will agree with that verdict […].
Graeber, though invoking history, turns it upon its head. For him it was the fact that Hitler and Mussolini armed Franco that led to the defeat of the revolution. Not so. It was the abandonment of the social revolution for the military needs of “anti-fascism” that was really to blame. It was the social revolution of July 1936 which had galvanised the mass of the population to begin to fight for themselves and a new society. We are not saying this would have won, given its isolation at the time, but it would have left a more inspiring legacy for us today. In fact the history of the Spanish working class was so different to the rest of Europe (the Spanish bourgeoisie did not enter the First World War, for example) that the Spanish workers found themselves fighting alone. The rest of the European working class had not recovered from the defeat of the revolutionary wave that put an end to the First World War. This defeat had already allowed fascism to be victorious in Italy and Germany.
And this had also defined the imperialist context in which the Spanish Civil War came about. Graeber is also not accurate when he says that all the great powers signed up to “non-intervention”. This was the hypocritical policy of the French and British ruling classes who hoped to persuade the Axis powers to attack the USSR (thus leaving them free to pick up the pieces later). They dragged Mussolini in to it in an attempt to split the Axis, but it failed.
In the lead up to the Second World War Stalin’s USSR also had to find a way to try to win allies. It had already made “antifascism” its slogan in November 1935. And on this basis it helped to form of Popular Front governments in Spain and France. The idea was to persuade the Western democracies that they could trust the Soviet “pariah” state. As it was the USSR secretly armed the Spanish Republic from the beginning (apart from Mexico, the only state to do so). And he who pays the piper calls the tune. Although the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) had only 6,000 members in 1936 it was immediately swollen by the defection of the Socialist Party youth led by Santiago Carillo. And it grew significantly bigger by opposing the very social revolution which had started the resistance. The petty bourgeois in Republican Spain flocked to them for defence against the anarchists. And soon Communist ministers appeared in Madrid and the security apparatus (the SIM) was taken over by the PCE. Stalinist stooges like Palmiro Togliatti (“Comrade Ercoli”) and Ernö Gerö were sent to Spain to conduct witchhunts of real revolutionaries. These mainly took place after the debacle of May 1937 in Barcelona where fighting broke out between the CNT and the POUM on one side and the Stalinists on the other. It ended with a truce but with the Stalinists in the driving seat (as the “anti-fascist struggle" was paramount) and more massacres of their opponents on the Republican side. At every stage the Stalinists justified their takeover of the state apparatus by the need to make “the fight against fascism” more effective. All it did was demoralise and destroy the initiative of the masses and pave the way for Franco’s final victory and yet further massacres. Graeber is right that the revolution was suppressed, not by Franco but by the “anti-fascists” he now seeks to emulate.
This is what so many on the left from the Graeber-type anarchos to the traditional Marxist left of Trotskyists and Stalinists cannot fathom. Anti-fascism was the ideology of one side of the 1930s imperialist equation to mobilise the population for imperialist war. It worked. Graeber’s father was not the only one to volunteer for the International Brigades. So did my steelworker Dad in 1938. He was then a 16 year old butcher’s delivery boy and had no strong political views. He was (thankfully!) turned down on grounds of his age but his reaction was precisely what the Allied bloc in the Second World War were counting on to mobilise the working class for yet another slaughter after the “war to end all wars” had ended in 1918. No-one would fight for “King and Country” anymore but plenty thought it worthwhile to risk their lives fighting the evil in fascism.
And once again history partially repeats itself, the tragedy first, the farce to follow. The Graebers, as well as the Stalinists and Trotskyists are dressing themselves upon in the clothes of the past to call for support for the Kurdish nationalists against the “fascist” or “crypto-fascist” Da’esh or IS in Rojava.
Now the Da’esh are a monstrous reactionary force perpetrating acts worthy of Genghiz Khan and the Mongols but fighting for or against them is not for an autonomous working class. We should be aware of the imperialist context of what is going on in Syria, Turkey and Iraq before urging anyone to go running off to fight for the PYD […]. The PYD is dominated by the PKK although for diplomatic reasons it says it is not (the PKK is condemned internationally as “terrorist” whilst the PYD is not). The “democratic” or “mutualist” turn of the PKK is largely to try to win support in the West just as “anti-fascism” and the “Popular Front” functioned for Soviet imperialism in the 1930s.
The Da’esh are a creation of the very imperialist coalition that now bombs it […]. Without the US-led dismemberment of the Iraqi state after 2003 there would be no space for the IS to work in. Without the initial arms supply of the Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar the IS would be nothing. And the Kurdish regime in Northern Iraq has been the biggest beneficiary of US policy. Barzani’s Kurdish Democratic Party regime there is a close ally of both the US and Turkey and is exporting its oil to Turkey via a new pipeline recently completed. The IS, having gained its own sources of cash, has broken free of its original imperialist masters and is pursuing its own agenda. Again there are parallels with the 1930s but not the ones our anti-fascists like to think about. In 1939 Stalin abandoned “antifascism” to sign the Hitler-Stalin Pact […] with the very fascists the workers in Spain had supposedly died fighting. Then as now, imperialist imperatives can dictate what the name of the cause is. Whatever Graeber et al. assert, the fight in Syria today is a fight for imperialist control of the territory.
Rojava’s “Social Experiment”
And what is going on in Rojava is not as wonderful as Graeber says. He is merely relaying the propaganda of the PYD. In fact you get the impression (given the relative weight of words devoted to it) that he is more impressed by the “conversion” of the Stalinist Ocalan to the ideas of “libertarian municipalism” of the late Murray Bookchin, an ideology close to Graeber’s heart.
“The PKK has declared that it no longer even seeks to create a Kurdish state. Instead, inspired in part by the vision of social ecologist and anarchist Murray Bookchin, it has adopted the vision of “libertarian municipalism”, calling for Kurds to create free, self-governing communities, based on principles of direct democracy, that would then come together across national borders – that it is hoped would over time become increasingly meaningless. In this way, they proposed, the Kurdish struggle could become a model for a worldwide movement towards genuine democracy, co-operative economy, and the gradual dissolution of the bureaucratic nation-state.”
Oh that this were true! The PKK have reviewed their strategy, withdrawn their fighters over the Turkish border into Iraq and toned down the Stalinism in an attempt to present themselves as “democratic”. But even Graeber recognises that some “authoritarian elements” remain although he does not elaborate. Let’s help him out. According to the PYD themselves there is a form of dual power with the now famous self-governing communities existing alongside a parliamentary type set-up entirely controlled by the PYD. No surprises for guessing who has the real clout. The PYD have got a virtual monopoly of weapons.1 They are the state. And in each country (Iraq, Iran and Syria) the local Kurdish bourgeoisie has set up its own national entity in the same vein. These might not be recognised by international imperialism but they are states in all but name. In some ways they impinge more on people’s lives than the state in the UK. For example, if you are over 18 you are subject to conscription.2 And as for the supposed internationalism of the PYD, its leader Salih Muslim has threatened to expel all Arabs from “Kurdish” territory in Syria despite the fact that most of them were born there.3 Women may be freer in Kurdistan in general than in the surrounding territories but it’s all relative. There have been many accusations of a rapist/sexist culture in the peshmerga and Ocalan himself seems not only to condone it but to admit to it personally. None of this is discussed in Graeber’s all too brief account of the wonders of Rojava.
The one word missing from Graeber’s account is class. For him Rojava is a “people’s movement” just as the Occupy movement was. The Second World War was on the Allied side touted as a “People’s War”. But “the people” are the nation. The rallying cry of the capitalist class was that they were the representatives of “the people” against the feudal order. But we recognise that the people is an all-class idea. It includes exploiters and exploited. This is why we pose the question of class in opposition to all ideas of the people or “the nation”. Nationalism is the enemy of a working class which owns no private property nor exploits anyone. As Marx put it “Workers have no country”. The class war is not a “people’s war”.
We do recognise that there is a need for many workers to look for inspiring examples of social organisation. This is why we look to the Paris Commune of 1871 or Russia in 1905. It’s also why we look to Spain in the summer of 1936 or Russia in the winter of 1917-18. Neither were perfect but both gave some indication of what the working class was capable of doing. Both were ultimately drowned by imperialist intervention. But they were a lot further down the road to real proletarian autonomy than what is being sold to us today in Rojava or anywhere else in Kurdistan. We are used to the capitalist Left (Trotskyists, Stalinists, Maoists) rushing to support this or that “lesser evil” or lauding this or that model as “really existing socialism” (Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Vietnam etc., etc.) but all they are inviting us to do is enter into the imperialist propaganda games of our rulers. A real social revolution cannot take place inside one country as the history of the 1920s and 1930s shows. If we want to see an autonomous class movement capable of creating a society without classes, exploitation, without states and murderous wars we have to fight for it where we live and work. In the long run we have to create our own class wide organisations […] or whatever is appropriate to the struggle, but we also have to make this part of a conscious fight against capitalism in all its forms. This means that the creation of an international and internationalist political movement, opposed to all national projects today, is an indispensable part of that struggle. This has to be capable of inspiring and uniting the revolutionary consciousness of wider swathes of workers. It’s not as easy or instantly gratifying as sloganising about this or that supposed workers paradise but it is the only road for the emancipation of humanity. […]
Thursday, October 30, 2014
10.5 hour shifts, one 30 minute unpaid break for lunch. Barely enough time to get to the canteen, eat something quick and get back to work. Not to mention that the food isn't fresh. Half the time we work in the night, from 18:30-5 AM. Many of us travel more than one hour to work. Our bodies cannot adjust to the changing shifts. We miss spending the evenings with our families. We treat this job as something we are stuck with until something better comes along. Almost any job is better.Poland: We will fight against exploitation in Amazon!
10.5 hour shifts, one 30 minute unpaid break for lunch. Barely enough time to get to the canteen, eat something quick and get back to work. Not to mention that the food isn't fresh. Half the time we work in the night, from 18:30-5 AM. Many of us travel more than one hour to work. Our bodies cannot adjust to the changing shifts. We miss spending the evenings with our families. We treat this job as something we are stuck with until something better comes along. Almost any job is better.
Work in the fulfillment center is stressful, we are always monitored. There is a lot of physical work. We are exhausted in the first few hours. We cannot take a break to rest our feet. When we get home, we can only collapse.
For all our hard work in the evenings and even on Sunday, we get no extra pay. Workers in Sady get paid more than workers in Bielany Wroclawskie for the same job.
In some countries, workers get more money for the evening shift and two paid 15-minute breaks. Not in Poland.
A lot of colleagues say the same: they thought they would have opportunities to work more, overtime, extra pay for night shifts. They feel misled by the agencies that recruited them. Nobody told anybody what the work would really look like. Some people might not have taken the job. A lot of us have no other choice.
There is a total mess with the payments. One colleague is not in the system and can't get paid. Others claim they received too little payment. There are delays. People do not understand why their salaries are so low.
Some of our colleagues already quit and a lot where just hired til the end of the year. Some of us will stay on here, hoping that things will get better. But nothing will change if we let the bosses treat us like slaves. In Germany workers make 4 times more money for the same job and they still fight for better working conditions. We are being used to increase the profits of a company that earns enough to pay their workers decent wages.
ZSP union has taken action concerning payments through Manpower and Adecco. We will fight so that agency workers and better informed and paid correctly and on time!
In the long term, we want to see better working conditions in Amazon Poland and this means concretely a higher rate for evening and Sunday work, no pay discrimination and paid breaks.
The past year saw the Sections of the IWA organizing more workplace struggles, more solidarity campaigns and more social protests than at any time since the decimation of the anarcho-syndicalist movement in the 1930s and 40s. We are not able to make a comprehensive account of all the actions but the IWA Secretariat would like to make a summary of international actions and local activities of the Sections.IWA struggles and victories in 2014
A brief account of some of the workplace conflicts, international actions and social struggles of IWA Sections.
The past year saw the Sections of the IWA organizing more workplace struggles, more solidarity campaigns and more social protests than at any time since the decimation of the anarcho-syndicalist movement in the 1930s and 40s. We are not able to make a comprehensive account of all the actions but the IWA Secretariat would like to make a summary of international actions and local activities of the Sections.
International Solidarity Campaigns
The IWA supported a number of solidarity appeals this year, mostly to demand the reinstatement of dismissed workers. All such campaigns ended positively this year, with either the reinstatement of the comrades or agreements for monetary compensation.
At the beginning of the year, we held solidarity actions for a comrade dismissed from OHL, one of the companies that cleans the streets of Madrid. Comrades in the east, where OHL is present (Poland, Slovakia and Russia) took part in the campaign. The conflict ended with an agreement between the company and dismissed employee.
At the beginning of March, solidarity actions took place in 13 countries against the practice of outsourcing at Santander Bank and for the reinstatement of the fired CNT delegate. The Sections organized actions in Poland, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, UK, Portugal, Norway and France and sent protests in other locations where there were no targets. Comrades from other countries like Uruguay and the US also took part. Another day of action took place in June – in total three days of action were organized in for this struggle. At the end, the company paid a settlement to the comrade, who had already moved to another city. The settlement was much higher than usual and the comrade believes it is because of the actions. To show his mutual aid, he and his union decided to send some of the money to other IWA comrades in struggle.
In March there were also solidarity actions for the freedom of the imprisoned oil workers of Las Heras , Argentina. Solidarity pickets took place at embassies in Belgrade, Warsaw and Oslo and a picket took place in Newcastle, where the comrades targetted HBSC for complicity. Later there were actions in Spain as well.
In April, several sections supported the case of a comrade from Spain against TNS , the international polling company. The comrade was fired after years in the company for trying to do something against the worsening conditions at the firm. ZSP,. KRAS, NSF and ASI organized actions. In the end, the company recognized the illegal dismissal of the comrade and paid him a high compensation.
In May and June, a number of Sections send protest letters supporting workers from ZSP in Belchatow Hospital who were struggling to get their jobs back. The comrades in Slovakia also made a picket at the Polish Embassy. The workers were rehired after 3 months of occupation and action!
In June, some Sections made actions at Portinox/Teka company, to support the dismissal of the union delegate from CNT Granada. Solidarity came from Portugal, Poland, Norway and Slovakia. The comrade later was reinstated to his job!
In October, we took action against the firing of the union delegate from CNT Guadalajara from Truck and Wheel company, at the warehouse for BMW-Mini in Spain. Solidarity actions were made in Australia, Slovakia, Poland, Russia, Norway, Brazil and Germany. The comrade was reinstated to his job in the company!
The workers of the Trotzdem Bar in Dresden went on strike after some of them were fired. They interpreted this as anti-union activity. The workers set up protests outside the bar for many days. Although in the end they did not win, they fought for their dignity and set an example for many.
Workers from ZSP union at Belchatow Hospital won their jobs back after 3 months of struggle. Unfortunately, a few months later, the service provider who employed the workers started to lay off people, both in and outside the union, and increase the workloads of the others. At the beginning of November, the union decided to call an indefinite strike. Most of the other workers from this service company (cleaners and food servers) joined the strike, which was victorious after one day. In the end, more than 100 workers received normal work contracts with all benefits for the duration of the service contract.
Members of USI-AIT's various unions joined in the nationwide general strike on November 14. The main reasons for the proclamation of the strike were mostly against those laws the government is approving, in particular the Jobs Act, which is a anti-labour reform that will increase precarious work and will allow companies the utmost possibility to dismiss workers.
At the end of May, the workers from CNT in Tinamenor factory went on strike to demand fixed employment. They had been on temporary contracts for many years, although this is not allowed and they should have already been given fixed contracts. The employer responded by firing the workers. The CNT has not stopped fighting and the conflict continues.
In February, the CNT in WFS airport services went on strike for two days. There have been ongoing struggles in this company over the last couple of years. The union is struggling for the reinstatement of three comrades.
On July 1, CNT participated in a taxi drivers' strike in Barcelona, against companies like UBER or BLABLA car.
Pilar de la Horadada
The CNT union in STV Management called a 24-hour strike in September. As far as we know, the workers' struggle is still going on.
In the middle of December, CNT in Extracciones Levante called a three-day strike. The strike was motivated by some dismissals and the CNT would like a new collective agreement. We do not have any information of any results of the strike and assume the struggle in the workplace in pending.
The CNT participated in the strike of workers from Ambulancias Domingo , an ambulance company for three days at the end of December.
The CNT also is taking part in the strike of garden workers from the Madrid Rio park. There is a plan to lay off 50% of the staff, so the workers went on strike. The strike is ongoing.
We know that some CNT unions have participated in other strikes this year. Unfortunately we do not have enough information about this. There are lots of strikes in Spain and often the CNT takes part with the other unions.
ASI Education Union also took part in mass strikes in Serbia this December.
Workplace and Social Struggle around the Globe
It is difficult to get a grasp of all the workplace struggles the Sections have been involved in. Sometimes, our Sections work to provide solidarity to groups of workers, such as the Gestamp or Ceramicas Neuquen workers in Argentina. Other times, our unions take part in protest movements of workers from various unions, such as the protests of teachers and scientific workers in Moscow , which the KRAS Education and Technical workers union took part in, or protests of health care workers in Italy which members of USI-Sanita took part in. Any attempt to make a short list of struggles will inevitably leave some of them out. But a few worth noting.
In the UK, comrades from SolFed have had success this year with organizing workers and actions against wage theft.
SolFed has been organizing workers through Brighton Hospitality Workers and has won a number of direct action campaigns, mostly against wage theft at restaurants and cafes in the city. It has had a long string of wins, mostly using pickets in front of the establishments.
South London, London
SolFed helped to organize a successful campaign to help a worker get money she was owed from Green Eco Plus. They also organized an action to defend a woman fired from a language school and, as a result, she received money and a positive recommendation.
Comrades helped a worker from North Tyneside receive a large settlement.
Comrades in Slovakia have started a Problems at Work campaign, to begin dealing with more workplace problems. They report good interest and have new contacts through the campaign. Comrades in Australia have initiated a similar campaign.
Social Struggles in Brazil
Our comrades in Brazil took part in major social protests in that country. In some cities they were among various groups organized but in other places they were the only organized force which could mobilize some people in the streets.
Two members of FAU were among workers fired in the Swedish School in Berlin. Some protests and solidarity actions were held, but so far, there has been no progress towards reinstatement. There were also many demonstrations and pickets demanding pay for Mall of Berlin workers who did not receive their salaries. This situation is still pending.
No, we don't have a section in Uruguay (yet) but some comrades and comrades from ASI helped stranded Serbian workers, who weren't paid and left without visas and tickets home.
Following dismissals in Dino supermarkets, ZSP started a campaign for reinstatement, for unpaid overtime and other improvements. The supermarket chain had to start making overtime payments and made payments for past overtime to different workers. Also several improvements to health and safety measures had to be made. The union is still fighting for reinstatement and has a discrimination case in the court.
The ZSP fought a number of struggles in this city. First, there was continued actions against Impuls work agency which brought tens of thousands of zloties in overdue pay to a number of their members. Then, in one language school, the school started to make all social security and benefit payments, which it hadn't made before. The union helped workers in one sex shop get money they were owed. Then it took action with a group of cooks and waiters from Doubletree by Hilton who hadn't been paid and the workers received their money very quickly afterwards. The union also started action at Citibank, where a comrade was fired for fighting against discrimination. There are now three lawsuits against the corporate giant. Finally, in support of the comrades from ZSP Amazon, there were pickets at Manpower and Adecco agencies which had to pay workers the remainders of their salaries which they had been shorted.
In Spain there are always lots of workplace conflicts and it is hard to make a list, much less say which are most important. Some were already mentioned under international solidarity campaigns. A few others are:
Struggle of Arvato-Qualytel workers. They do customer service for Orange, work through the company Arvato-Qualytel, but without normal contracts. They are hired as temporary workers through Adecco and Randstad. They would like to be hired directly and receive proper benefits and have stable employment. 2 members of CNT were dismissed through non-renewal of contract and a confederal campaign has been going on. An international week of action will take place starting Jan.12
The Education workers union is fighting against precarious working conditions in the University of Alcala. This includes fighting against the exploitation of fellows and doctoral teaching assistants.
The CNT won the reinstatement of a comrade dismissed from a EUREST cafeteria.
The CNT has managed to organize unions in several cities in Phone House. There have been numerous pickets organized around Spain, demanding better working conditions for the staff.
Another campaign which takes place in various cities is against Mercadona supermarkets. Earlier in the year, the supermarket had to pay half a million euros in compensation to fired workers. CNT continues to organize in the supermarkets and organize pickets around Spain.
The CNT managed to win the reinstatement of the comrade dismissed from SOS Childrens' Villages.
The CNT won a settlement with Dominos Pizza who dismissed a member.
Repression and Solidarity
USI in San Carlo Hospital was repressed and ordered to pay a huge fine for supposedly insulting the bosses of the hospital. The IWA donated money to help.
Comrades from COB in Araxa are being repressed. There were bogus criminal charges against one comrade, as well as charges of being in an „illegal union”. The case is ongoing.
In Serbia, the state is still trying to prosecute the Belgrade 6, whose case was appealed and re-opened after their aquital in 2010. The state is also trying to make a few fake criminal charges against other ASI members.
Several bosses have tried to make criminal cases and lawsuits against ZSP members for their syndical activity. So far the none of the criminal cases have stuck and the comrades have escaped punishment through the courts.
Several IWA Sections have already protested against repressions against anarchists in Spain. Comrades from France, Serbia, Portugal and Brazil have protested and denounced the repressions and of course the CNT has taken action across Spain.
The IWA organized some presentations, workshops and training this year. The first was in Holland, where there was discussion of anarchosyndicalist organization and action. The next was in Hongkong and Taiwan, which saw many discussions and exchange with local activists.
Priama akcia also organized an international conference about organizing and internal matters in Bratislava.
Some Sections have been participating in a number of other campaigns. For example, in Lisbon and in Araxa, there are ongoing campaigns for free public transportation. In Warsaw, there is huge involvement in housing struggles. In Spain there are some collective projects such as the small farm Huerta de SOV Madrid. In Belgrade, ASI has been very active in student occupations and struggles.
We wish we could list all the struggles our Sections have been involved with, or events that they organized but this task cannot be realized by the IWA Secretariat this New Year's Eve. It is time to celebrate a successful year and to look forward to a new year filled with new struggles, new successes of our comrades and hopefully new comrades from around the world who want to work in solidarity. We wish all of our comrades from the IWA, from our Friends and comrades from non-affiliated organizations a Happy New Year and good luck to us all in the nearest future. We still hold a new world in our hearts.
Long live anarchosyndicalism and the IWA!
Dec. 31, 2014
(Updates may be published on the IWA web page: http://www.iwa-ait.org/content/struggles-and-victories-iwa-2014)
Short and sweet this month. Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for January. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.
From Prison Books
Hello Friends and Comrades,
1) Short and sweet this month. Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for January. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.
2) Be sure to check out the latest Political Prisoner/Prisoner Of War every-other week update by the NYC-Anarchist Black Cross. There are lots of important updates on many political prisoners.
Until Every Cage Is Empty,
By now, many have heard the story of Eric Garner and have seen the video of his death at the hands of the NYPD. Initially approached by the police for his involvement in breaking up a fight, he was then accused of selling loose single cigarettes (for what would amount to the profit of a few pennies). He was then accosted by police officers, became indignant at having to suffer yet round of harassment, and had this to say in response:Eric Garner Was Not A Member Of Al Qaeda
By now, many have heard the story of Eric Garner and have seen the video of his death at the hands of the NYPD. Initially approached by the police for his involvement in breaking up a fight, he was then accused of selling loose single cigarettes (for what would amount to the profit of a few pennies). He was then accosted by police officers, became indignant at having to suffer yet round of harassment, and had this to say in response:
“Get away [garbled] … for what? Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me [garbled] Selling cigarettes? I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. Please, please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me.”
At that point he was placed in an officially banned choke-hold by a police officer. In his very last words, gasping for air, Eric Garner repeated the following: “I can't breathe.”
How did we as a society arrive at the point where an incident like this can transpire? A man breaks up a fight, gets accused of a spurious crime, and then ends up dead at the hands of police officer who had repeatedly been accused of misconduct in the past. That this ever happened at all is a tragedy; that it's an incident which most wouldn't find particularly surprising... is a dystopian nightmare.
So how did we arrive at this point? Well, despite a long history of questionable police conduct which should not be forgotten or overlooked, it seems to me that the situation in these regards was changed dramatically by the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. At that point, the “drug war” (which was already in full force) merged with the immediately emergent “war on terror.” And officers who served as foot soldiers in the drug war, now also became domestic soldiers ostensibly fighting the more overt threat of terrorism.
As borders were locked down and the TSA essentially turned airports into military checkpoints, the same mentality which drove those developments crept into local police departments. As the U.S. military was equipped and sent to fight overseas, a similar war footing was put into place domestically. New agencies like the DHS were created and these aggressive and heavily armed modern agencies had an influence upon the civilian police forces which they worked with.
But while it may be somewhat reasonable to expect the hideout of a known terrorist cell to be raided by a heavily armed swat team, it's much less reasonable to expect heavily armed swat teams to bust down the doors of low level criminals who are suspected of relatively minor offenses. And while it may make some sense to thoroughly examine people flying on commercial jets, when that same practice is used in the cities against random citizens walking down the street... it's a more direct and obvious affront to freedom.
When the police arbitrarily demand to see identification and frisk people on the flimsiest of pretenses... that's something that formerly, in the not-so-distant past, was equated to living in Stasi Germany or the Soviet Union. The ability to walk down the street without being randomly accosted by agents of the state was part of what was meant when people used to say that the United States was “a free country.” The fact that the USA didn't have gulags was cited as a positive in comparison to the USSR. But, now, “stop and frisk” is normalized policy in America's largest city and the United States has the largest prison population in the world – both in total numbers and per capita.
After 9/11, a lot of people claimed that the Al Qaeda terrorists hated us (citizens of the United States as a whole) “because of our freedoms.” The idea being that the Islamic fundamentalists wanted to spread their policy of strict Sharia law – dress codes enforced, use of various substances controlled, etc.. But if that's the case, and I only mean this with the slightest degree of hyperbole, then the NYPD is Al Qaeda's greatest ally. It is the NYPD, as a singular entity, which most directly limits the freedom of Americans. If your pants are too baggy or saggy (as is the fashion with inner-city youth) then you will quite possibly draw their attention and be stopped, frisked, and questioned. If you use substances which the law says is verboten, then the NYPD will crack down upon you. If you steal... they may not cut off your hand, but they may very well start a process which will cause you great and lasting hardship – particularly if you were ever caught committing other sins like smoking pot or other drugs. This is before we even start to examine the supposed justice of issuing costly tickets for minor infractions like jaywalking or parking inappropriately.
But when proponents of the NYPD read this... it's unrealistic to expect introspection or calm reflection. Rather, I would expect indignant rage. Instead of engaging in self-examination of their role in what America has become, I would expect deflection and the insistence upon the necessity of strict law and order. Which, again, is precisely what Islamic fundamentalists want.
When Eric Garner was killed after breaking up that fight, he wasn't acting under the auspices of Jihad. And even if he was selling loose cigarettes (which is actually in question), he did not deserve to be accosted in the way he was. He certainly did not deserve to be choked to death. In a more rational society which valued freedom, if we were to accept some token presence of police, this is how I would have expected Eric Garner to be addressed by the police on the fateful day of his death: “These people here are saying you helped to break up a fight. Thank you for that! We need more people like you around. You make my job that much easier.” That would have been a reasonable, rational, and sane response.
Instead, they got in his face for the umpteenth time, leveled some bogus charges at him, ignored his pleas to be left alone, and then choked him to death. And then, to add insult to the fatal injury, a police proponent had t-shirts printed up which said things like “Breath Easy, Don't Break The Law.”
Does this seem like somber reflection to you? Does this give you the idea of institutional remorse? Of course not. Rather, instead, the NYPD treated Eric Garner like a prisoner at Abu Ghraib and essentially celebrated his death with commemorative t-shirts as if they had just killed Bin Laden. But Eric Garner wasn't a member of Al Qaeda. Eric Garner was just a human being trying to get by. And now... life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have all been stripped from him. He was killed by people who hate us because of our freedoms.
Edit/Update: Immediately after posting this article from my blog to Reddit & FB I went out on my porch (not in NYC) to smoke a cigarette and, most coincidentally, a marked police car slowly drove past my house (down my very quiet street) and stopped a couple houses down for a few moments. Again, while this was likely a coincidence, even that doesn't make it comforting. Assuming pure coincidence, the all but literal omni-presence of the police is not a comforting thing. I do not take their presence or their sirens wailing in the background as any sign of a free and peaceful society. And if it wasn't a coincidence... then the appearance of this police car after posting my article says quite a bit about freedom of speech in this country.
Victoria Law, who goes by Vikki, is an anarchist, a prison abolitionist, a freelance writer, author, editor, and a mother. Vikki grew up in Flushing, Queens in the 80s and 90s, and at the age of 16, she was arrested for participating in an armed robbery. After avoiding a jail sentence on probation, she became a prison abolitionist and writer. She is a rare individual who has made a career writing about women’s prison organizing and resistance after seeing her social circle trapped in the prison-industrial complex.Interview With Vikki Law
This interview was conducted by Hanna Hurr and was published on Wednesday, Dec 31, 2014 Mask Magazine
Victoria Law, who goes by Vikki, is an anarchist, a prison abolitionist, a freelance writer, author, editor, and a mother.
Vikki grew up in Flushing, Queens in the 80s and 90s, and at the age of 16, she was arrested for participating in an armed robbery. After avoiding a jail sentence on probation, she became a prison abolitionist and writer. She is a rare individual who has made a career writing about women’s prison organizing and resistance after seeing her social circle trapped in the prison-industrial complex. She’s the author of the book Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press 2009) , and co-editor of Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities (PM Press 2012). She’s a regular contributor to Truthout and BitchMedia, where she covers mass incarceration and women’s prison issues, among other things.
I met Vikki at the social center and former squat ABC No Rio on New York City’s Lower East Side in early December, the day after the non-indictment of Daniel Pantaleo and a night of spontaneous protests caused chaos on the streets of New York City.