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Hurricane Florence Relief, Solidarity and Mutual Aid Guide

Mié, 09/19/2018 - 17:28

Hurricane Florence devastated the coastal areas of North Carolina and South Carolina in September 2018. This guide is for people interested in organizing assistance for those affected and for those interested in supporting people and groups engaged in assistance. Many people are still displaced at this time. There is massive flooding. Damage is extensive and many lives are uprooted.

You can use Charity Navigator to research aid and solidarity groups and projects.

This guide should not be construed as any kind of political endorsement or label of groups or those helping people affected by the hurricane.

News

Updated September 19, 2018

Relief Organizations and Projects

Cajun Navy Relief – The Cajun Navy Relief and Rescue is here to help those in need.

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief – Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is a grassroots network whose mission is to provide disaster relief based on the principles of solidarity, mutual aid, and autonomous direct action. By working with, listening to, and supporting impacted communities, especially their most vulnerable members, to lead their own recovery, we build long­term, sustainable and resilient communities.

27,956 lbs of supplies were sent to the coast yesterday on these airplanes. Bought or given second-hand through ya’lls donations. This isn’t counting what came in by ground. We are listening, loving, fighting, and utilizing our skills, networks, and quickly beating hearts to get supplies to Indigenous, Black, migrant farmworker communities, and others historically neglected and ignored by the state and non-profit industrial complex, standing shoulder to shoulder, working for a #JustRecovery, proving #WeKeepUsSafe, and reiterating that our hope for a livable future rests, now and always, in each other’s hands.

River City Medic Collective

One of our awesome medics, Vanessa Bolin, is down in Lumberton, North Carolina doing relief work for the indigenous community, and will be travelling around NC and SC as needed. We need your help!

She is a total force to be reckoned with, and we are proud that she is representing us down there.

@Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice has graciously agreed to be our fiscal sponsor, along with several other autonomous relief teams.

PLEASE donate to them on FB here: https://www.facebook.com/…/a.16104649623…/1859392524156434

On their website at https://www.iacjva.org/give

Or you can even Venmo them @InterfaithClimateJustice. Please tag any donations as “hurricane relief.” Every little bit counts!

We need funds for flashlights, candles, food, water, gas, rescue gear, and much much more.

Thank you so much everyone!
RCMC

The post Hurricane Florence Relief, Solidarity and Mutual Aid Guide appeared first on Infoshop News.

When Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Hits Home

Sáb, 09/15/2018 - 12:51

via Teen Vogue

by Ruth Hopkins

Olivia Lone Bear, a 33-year-old member of the Spirit Lake Tribe, lived among relatives on the oil-rich Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. On July 31, she was found dead, joining a long list of missing and murdered Indigenous women. The mother of five had been missing for nine months, last seen on October 24, 2017, driving through New Town, North Dakota.

Those searching for her used boats with sonar to discover her remains, which were in a submerged truck with broken windows in Sanish Bay on Lake Sakakawea, according to Inforum. With no arrests made, the FBI is working on the case but is also not providing any updates to its status.

“At least 20 to 40 people passed over her [on boats] per day since the water thawed. It’s a shame someone else didn’t find her sooner.” Lissa Yellowbird-Chase, a volunteer who helped search for Olivia, tells Teen Vogue. Yellowbird-Chase is the founder of the Sahnish Scouts of North Dakota, a volunteer organization that actively searches for missing Native men, women, and children. Along with Olivia’s family members and other volunteers, she never gave up looking for her. “The community really stepped up and came together to assist,” she says.

Read more

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The Attica Prison Riot in 1971 Serves as a Reminder of the Dangers of a Failing Prison System

Sáb, 09/15/2018 - 02:59

via Teen Vogue

by Shammara Lawrence

In September 1971, nearly 1,300 inmates in the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York shook the nation to its core. The bloodiest prison riot in recent American history, the four-day uprising turned the spotlight on living conditions in state penitentiaries, widespread human rights abuses committed behind bars, and the realities of incarcerated peoples. The riot created a media firestorm initially, but since then, the historic moment, often credited as birthing the modern-day prisoners’ rights movement, has largely been left out of public discourse.

Leading up to the insurrection, there was a considerable outcry from inmates about the state of the prison and the staff’s behavior. According to The New York Times, at the time, prisoners in New York state received one roll of toilet paper monthly and were allowed only one shower a week. In addition, as a rule, inmate letters written in foreign languages were discarded by overseers before reaching their intended recipients, and Islam was deemed an illegitimate faith. Moreover, in Attica specifically, the guards — most of whom were white — were said to be deeply hostile toward inmates. “I was conscious of the racial prejudice. The guards — they were vicious. They had no qualms about calling you nigger. The prison ran on anger. It ran on fright,” one of the rioters, Carlos Roche, explained in a BBC news special.

That summer, inmates drafted a list of 27 grievances, which would be resurrected in September, and sent the list to the state’s commissioner of correctional services, Russell Oswald, in an effort to make their concerns known and campaign for better overall living conditions. Their concerns went unaddressed.

Read more

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Post-Anarchism on the State – An Anarchist Critique

Sáb, 09/15/2018 - 02:34

by Wayne Price

Response to Saul Newman, “Anarchism, Marxism, and the Bonapartist State”

A review of the nature of the State as understood by anarchists, especially as proposed by the tendency called “post-anarchism.” This is done through a review of the opinions of Saul
Newman, a leading proponent of post-anarchism, in his work, “Anarchism, Marxism, and the
Bonapartist State.” The post-anarchist view is opposed by the class theory of the state,
versions of which are raised by traditional, revolutionary anarchists and by Marx.

A key question for any political theory is its conception of the state. This includes the
view of the state by the trend calling itself “post-anarchism.” This name does not refer
to being “after” or “beyond” anarchism. Mainly it refers to attempted integrations of
anarchism with the philosophical views of post-structuralism and postmodernism, as
developed by certain French philosophers (May 1994; Russell & Evren 2011). According to
Ruth Kinna,”Anarchism’s third, post-anarchist, wave[is]usually dated to the rise of the
alter-globalization movement in the late 1990s….” (Kinna 2017; 25) It was not so much a
change in organizing strategies as a new theoretical approach. “Post-anarchism is not only
one of the most significant currents to emerge within contemporary anarchist thought in
recent years, it also has ‘evident affinities’ with small-a anarchist movement politics.”
(36) In this paper, I am looking at the post-anarchists’ political thinking and not on
their background philosophies (in philosophy, I prefer a radicalized version of John
Dewey’s pragmatism; Price 2014).

One of the most prominent post-anarchist theorists is Saul Newman. He has written a number
of important books and essays on the subject. One essay (Newman 2004) concentrates on the
nature of the state. It directly confronts the class theory of the state (also called the
“materialist” or “historical materialist” theory of the state). This is a subject on which
I have recently written (Price 2018). His is different from many other post-anarchist
writings which emphasize that the state is not the only source of power, but that power is
created in many places. “Foucault argues that the state is a kind of discursive illusion
that masks the radically dispersed nature of power….” (Newman 2004; 23) Newman does not
quite agree with this. He takes the state seriously. Whether or not a network of power is
a useful model of society, the state still exists and needs to be analyzed. For this
reason, I think it would be useful to examine this particular post-anarchist work.

In his essay, Newman never actually defines what he means by the state. I have found the
same to be true in other post-anarchist writings. Let me then define the state as a
bureaucratic-military social machine, composed of specialized officials, bureaucrats, and
armed people, separate from and standing over the mass of people. This is a different
matter than just any possible social system of coordination, policy deciding, dispute
settling, or even defense from anti-social aggression. All these things existed for
thousands of years among humans before the state arose and will exist after it is
abolished. It is the state as an elite socially-alienated bureaucratic-military
institution which is connected to the capitalist system and all other systems of oppression.

Anarchism and Marxism on the Class Theory of the State

It would be easy to contrast anarchism with Marxist-Leninism, that is, with the recent and
current Stalinist states of the USSR, Maoist China, North Korea, etc. These states were
founded by people calling themselves “Marxist” and supposed champions of the “working
class.” Yet they were state-capitalist, mass-murdering, totalitarianisms. But Karl Marx, a
radical democrat, would have been as horrified by such states as are anarchists. The issue
is to show what there was about Marxism which led to such results, despite Marx’s
intentions. Consistent with that focus, Newman directs himself primarily to Marx’s views,
with little to say about post-Marx Marxism (just a few comments on Lenin).

Still, the paper presents itself as a dispute between anarchism and Marxism. In part, this
binary is modified by some indications that anarchists have found aspects of Marxism
useful. “For anarchists, Marxism has great value as an analysis of capitalism and the
relations[of]private property which it is tied to.” (19) “Bakunin perhaps represents the
most radical elements of Marxist theory.” (17) (10) Newman himself repeatedly expresses
appreciation of the “post-Marxism” of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, whose work comes
out of the Marxist tradition.

However, the main problem with Newman’s anarchism-versus-Marxism approach is that the
traditional anarchist movement also had a class theory of the state. Peter Kropotkin, the
great theorist of anarchism, wrote, “The State has always interfered in the economic life
in favor of the capitalist exploiter. It has always granted him protection in robbery,
given aid and support for further enrichment. And it could not be otherwise. To do so was
one of the functions-the chief mission-of the State.” (Kropotkin 2014; 193) In Kinna’s
view, Kropotkin thought “political institutions reflected the nature of economic power,
which was fundamental….The state was designed to protect the strong against the weak,
the rich against the poor, and the privileged against the laboring classes….Bourgeois
government[was]a special vehicle for the protection of commercial and industrial class
interests.” (Kinna 2017; 86-88) “Bakunin had advanced the same argument, crediting Marx
with its most sophisticated scientific articulation.” (86)

Newman’s attack on the class theory of the state is not only an attack on Marxism but also
on the traditional mainstream anarchist view
.
Newman seeks to deny this. For example, he cites Bakunin’s support for the class theory of
the state but then tries to turn it on its head. “Bakunin…takes Marx seriously when he
says that the state is always concomitant with class distinctions and domination. However
there is an important difference….For Marx the dominant class generally rules through
the state, whereas for Bakunin the state generally rules through the dominant
class….Bourgeois relations are actually a reflection of the state, rather than the state
being a reflection of bourgeois relations.” (Newman 2004;17)

This acknowledges that Bakunin, the principal initiator of the movement for revolutionary
anarchism, believed that “the state is always concomitant with class distinctions and
domination.” That is different from seeing the state as distinct and autonomous from the
class structure. Actually, Bakunin saw the state as interacting with the economy, in a
back-and-forth, dialectical, manner. The modern state causes capitalism and capitalism
causes the modern state.

This is similar to Marx’s concept of “primitive (primary) accumulation,” in which the
state played a key role in initiating capitalism. The state expropriated the British
peasants from their land, conquered and looted foreign countries, supported slavery, and
defended theft from the environment. Theses actions accumulated capital on one side and
propertyless workers on the other, the essentials for capitalism. In Capital, Marx wrote
of “the power of the state, the concentrated and organized force of society, to hasten,
hothouse fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the
capitalist mode….Force is…itself an economic power.” (Marx 1906; 823-4) Kropotkin
criticized this “primitive accumulation” only because it may imply that this is a passing
phase, understating the continuing influence of the state in maintaining capitalism.
Recognizing that “Force is itself an economic power”is not a rejection of the class theory
of the state.

Newman presents two alternate views: “the state represented the interests of the most
economically dominant class-the bourgeoisie.” (Newman 2004; 6) This is ascribed to Marx.
Or: “Anarchism sees the state as an autonomous institution-or series of institutions-that
has its own interests and logic.” (9) “It is independent of economic forces and has its
own imperative of self-perpetuation….Anarchism sees the state, in its essence, as
independent of economic classes….” (14) This last view is his opinion, that of
post-anarchism, but not that of the “classical” anarchists.

Bonapartism

Newman points out that Marx developed his concept of the state further. This was expressed
in his analysis of the French dictatorship of Louis Napoleon III in his 1852 The
Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (Marx 2002). He developed a concept of
“Bonapartism,” which was also expressed in Engels’ and his writings on Bismarck in Germany
and on other historical states (Draper 1977). They noted that the state balanced among
various class forces. Even within the upper class there were fractions of classes and
agents of fractions of classes, which put conflicting pressures on the state. They saw
that the state had its own interests as an institution and so did its bureaucratic,
political, and military personnel. Sometimes the bourgeoisie had mostly direct control of
the state, as under parliamentary democracy. At other times, they were shut out, as under
Louis Bonaparte’s “Empire” or under Nazi totalitarianism. But even without democratic
rights, the bourgeoisie continued to exploit their employees and accumulate profits. This
“right” was still defended by the dictatorial state! “According to Marx…the Bonapartist
state served the long term interests of the capitalist system, even if it often acted
against the immediate interests and will of the bourgeoisie.” (Newman 2004; 7)

There is a tendency for the state-especially its executive branch-to develop increased
independence relative to the rest of society, even under bourgeois democracy, but which
reaches its height under political dictatorship. In Newman’s terms, cited above, it may be
acknowledged that “the state has its own interests and logic…and has its own imperative
of self-preservation.” But it is not true that the state is “independent of class forces.”
Rather it balances among them and still maintains the overall interests of the
bourgeoisie. This has been referred to as the state’s “relative autonomy.” (5)

Newman claims that anarchists (or at least post-anarchists) took the concept of
Bonapartism to its rightful extreme. “Anarchism took Marx’s notion of the Bonapartist
State to its logical conclusion, thus developing a theory of state power and sovereignty
as an entirely autonomous and specific domain….” (38-39)

Does this make sense? Does not the state, as an institution with a drive for
“self-preservation,” have an absolute need to keep the economy going? Under capitalism
this means the continued accumulation of capital; it means the exploitation of the working
class to produce ever increased amounts of profit. Without this, there is no state, no
society, and none of the other oppressions of race, gender, etc. Can there be “an entirely
autonomous” state, unrelated to economic oppression? Neither Bakunin nor Kropotkin
believed that. I quoted Kropotkin above as believing that protecting capitalist exploiters
“was one]of the functions-the chief mission-of the State.” Not the only function or
mission, but ‘one of the functions” and “the chief mission.”

If we look at the state as a “specific domain,” then it has a great many social forces,
economic and otherwise, class and non-class, pushing on it. (Non-class forces include
racial tensions, gender conflicts, not to mention organized religion.) Yet these forces
are of differing strength and impact. The class theory “involves a claim that the
capitalist class is able to wield more potent power resources over against pressure from
below and the capacity for independent action on the part of the state itself….The
political sway of the capitalist class[is]not exclusive but predominant.” (Wetherly 2002;
197) Even the most autonomous of totalitarian fascist states still must take into account
the needs of its capitalist class-or it will not survive. Even the bureaucratic Stalinist
states of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, etc.-which had entirely disposed of their
stock-owning bourgeoisie-still had to maintain the exploitation of the workers and the
accumulation of capital: the capital-labor relationship.

Summarizing the most mature and sophisticated views of Marx (and traditional
anarchists)-with which he disagrees-Newman writes, “Rather than saying that, for Marx, the
state is the instrument of[the]bourgeoisie, it may be more accurate to say that the state
is a reflection of bourgeois class domination, a institution whose structure is determined
by capitalist relations. Its function is to maintain an economic and social order that
allows the bourgeoisie to continue to exploit the proletariat. ” (11) Or, for the
Stalinist states, for someone “to continue to exploit the proletariat”-in this case, the
collective bureaucratic class (until it collapsed back into traditional capitalism).

I think that this makes more sense than either a view of the state as a passive puppet of
the bourgeoisie (should anyone hold such a crude theory) or as “entirely autonomous” and
“independent of class forces.”

Political Implications

Political analyses have no meaning unless they lead to differences in strategy or tactics.
“A difference which makes no difference is no difference,” as the saying goes. Newman
contrasts the differing potential “revolutionary strategies” that go with the alternatives
of the “neutral” or “autonomous state” or the (class) “determined state.” He discusses
which (theorized) state should be seen as the “tool of revolution” and which as something
“to be destroyed in revolution.” (8) Rather than summarize his discussion, I will go
through the issue as I see it.

(1) The idea that the state was integrally tied to the capitalist class and could not be
otherwise, led to the revolutionary belief that this state had to be overturned, smashed,
dismantled, and replaced by alternate institutions. In a new preface to the Communist
Manifesto, Engels quoted Marx, “One thing especially was proved by the[Paris]Commune,
viz., that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and
wield it for its own purposes’.” (Marx & Engels 1955; 6) This did not deny the value of
fighting for reforms, but the ultimate goal was a state-destroying revolution.

But two different conclusions were drawn. One was that the working class, when overturning
the capitalists’ state, also needed its own class state, a “workers’ state,” the
“revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”-if only for a while, until a fully
classless society could be instituted. This could be interpreted as an ultra-democratic
state, similar to the Paris Commune or the early soviets, which would “immediately” start
to “wither away” -which is how Lenin presented it at the beginning of the Russian
revolution. Or, alternately, as the justification for an increasingly authoritarian,
one-party, police state, which is what Lenin developed over time. This soon evolved into
Stalin’s state-capitalist totalitarianism.

On the other hand, anarchists argued that the state, by its very structure (as I defined
it above), was an instrument of the capitalist class, or of some other exploiting class.
Throughout history, ruling minorities needed a state to maintain their rule over the big
majority; a self-managing majority would not need it. If a new state were to be created
after a revolution, it would only put a bureaucratic class in power, ruling over a state
capitalist economy. (As we know, these warnings came true.) Instead, anarchists argued for
networks and federations of workplace councils, neighborhood assemblies, and voluntary
associations. The workers and all the oppressed needed to replace all states with the
self-organization of the emancipated people.

(2) The alternate theory of a neutral and wholly autonomous state was (and is) championed
by reformists, liberals, and social democrats. The state, they claimed, was a machine
which could be used by anyone, capitalists or workers, white supremacists or People of
Color, oppressors or oppressed. Therefore radicals should fight to take over the existing
state and use it to do good. (This is the view of Laclau and Mouffe, the “post-Marxists”
whom Newman admires.)

But post-anarchists argue that the state has its own drives for oppression, regardless of
the class system it is associated with at any time. To use it to get rid of one system of
exploitation would only leave the field open for the state’s own oppressive dynamics. It
would only replace capitalism with some other method of exploitation, such as the rule of
a bureaucratic class. Therefore the state must not used to make a revolution nor to
solidify a new society after one.

Those who identify with the revolutionary anarchist tradition do not really disagree with
the last argument. The state has authoritarian and oppressive tendencies which make it
unusable for a genuinely popular, democratic, revolution-from-below. However, I do not
separate these tendencies from the state’s essential attachment to the rule of a minority
exploiting class. These are not distinct dynamics.

Which leads to a response to the question of why Marx’s Marxism led to Stalinist
totalitarianism, despite Marx’s own democratic-libertarian tendencies. At least one part
of it was his program of replacing the bourgeois state with a new state of the working
class and its allies, if only for a time. This transitional state was supposed to
expropriate the capitalists and centralize all their property into its own hands. No
matter how democratic, popular, and temporary in conception, the use of a socially
alienated bureaucratic-military state machine was bound to lead to a new form of
exploitation and oppression. This was argued by Bakunin, Kropotkin, and other
revolutionary class-struggle anarchist-socialists at the time of Marx and immediately
after, and has repeatedly been proven true, alas.

Whether Saul Newman is for revolution cannot be told from this essay (it may be clearer in
other works). Most of the other post-anarchists, like the “new” or “small-a” anarchists,
advocate building alternate institutions, small scale actions, and different lifestyles,
without focusing on an ultimate goal of direct popular attack against the capitalist class
or the state. (Price 2016) The post-anarchists usually justify this by arguing that the
state is not the only source of power in society, but merely one among many. Therefore
anarchists do not need to focus on the state as the main enemy. It can be worked around,
chipped away, or just ignored. The capitalist class is seen as a disjointed, pluralistic,
entity, with society overall best understood as a network of forces without a center. All
of which leads to a rejection of overturning the state as a main goal. In fact
“revolution” is usually regarded as the fantasy of a single (bloody) upheaval which would
immediately change society-which is rejected as the nonsense it is (and is not a model
held by serious revolutionaries). However, revolutionary anarchists regard as a dangerous
fantasy the idea that the capitalist class and its state would permit a peaceful, gradual,
transformation of society-in which they would lose their wealth and power-without
attempting to crush the people (through savage repression, fascism, civil war, etc.).

No Working Class Revolution

Whether Newman is against revolution, he is against working class revolution, because he
is against a focus on the working class. He would deny that the “proletariat” is the
necessary (but not sufficient) agent to transform society, or even that it is one of the
three to five most important potential forces.

Newman repeatedly merges the idea of the working class with the idea of the Leninist
vanguard party, objecting “to the central role of the proletariat-or, to be more precise,
to the vanguard role of the Party.” (37) But revolutionary anarchists who looked to the
working class did not advocate such authoritarian, elitist, parties. Among Marxists, Rosa
Luxemburg rejected Lenin’s concept of the vanguard party, and there is a long history of
libertarian-autonomist Marxists who orient to the aspects of Marx’s work which are
radically democratic, humanistic (anti-alienation), proletarian (anti-bureaucratic), and
scientific (anti-scientistic). This trend, neither social democratic nor Marxist-Leninist,
does not share a concept of the elitist vanguard party. It has raised libertarian
socialist politics which can be in dialogue with revolutionary anarchism (Prichard et al
2017).

The post-anarchists have been criticized for their negative approach to class concerns and
how they deal with them. An “emerging critique is that the post-anarchists have given up
on the notion of ‘class’ and have retreated into obscure and intoxicating academic
diatribes against a tradition built of discursive straw.” (Rousselle, in the Preface to
Rousselle & Evren 2011; vii) Indeed, Newman’s rejection of a working class orientation is
sometimes on a rather high plane of abstract post-structuralist philosophizing. He
denounces “the perspective of a universal epistemological position-such as that of the
proletariat….” (37)

At other times, Newman raises empirical problems, which I think are the real issue. He
refers to “…the empirical reality of the shrinking of the working class…” (32) and to
the “concrete social conditions of the shrinking working class in post-industrial
societies….” (29)

It is true that there are fewer industrial workers in the U.S. (although still a big
minority), but the population is overwhelming working class. That is, most adults are
employed by capital or the state, producing goods or services for pay, without supervising
others. Blue collar, white collar, pink collar, in construction or slaughterhouses,
cleaning houses for others or waiting tables, writing code or teaching children, in
animation or accounting, this is the modern proletariat. The class, in addition to waged
workers, includes their children, full-time homemakers, adult students, and those
unemployed and retired. Meanwhile one reason for the decline in industrial jobs in the
U.S. is that many jobs have been sent overseas. There has been an enormous expansion of
industrial workers throughout the “Third World,” for this and other reasons. This is not a
proof of the irrelevance of the working class.

It is also an empirical fact that most workers and their families are not
revolutionary-and many are even reactionary. This is cited by post-anarchists (and others)
as disproving a supposed prediction that the working class must inevitably become
revolutionary. Actually the “prediction” is only that the working class is potentially
revolutionary, and able to shake the whole society when it is. This is evidenced by a
two-centuries long history of workers’ struggles and upheavals. In any case, it is not
that we could reject the (currently) non-revolutionary class for some other grouping which
is revolutionary. Since such a large proportion of the world’s population is working
class, the non-revolutionary consciousness of most of the working class means that most of
the general population is not revolutionary, that most women are not revolutionary, nor
are most People of Color, nor is any other category we could name. For now.

Perhaps Newman’s major discontent with a working class perspective is his belief that it
would suppress all other sources of discontent and rebellion. “Radical political struggles
can no longer be limited to the proletariat alone, and must be seen as being open to other
classes and social identities.” (33) “The movement…rejects the false universality of
Marxist politics, which denies difference and heterogeneity and subordinates other
struggles to the central role of the proletariat….” (37)

There is no doubt that there have been wooden Marxists and wooden anarcho-syndicalists who
have denied the importance of everything but the class struggle. (There have also been
feminists who have subordinated all issues to that of women’s freedom, and Black activists
who have put everything aside but Black liberation. But that is not the question here.)
However this is not an inevitable result of a class perspective. On the contrary, it can
be seen as strengthening the class struggle if the revolutionary workers support each and
every struggle of oppressed people. The socialist Daniel DeLeon once said (quoting from
memory) that socialists’ support for women’s liberation could unify the working class and
split the ruling class.

To cite an authoritative (and authoritarian) Marxist, Lenin opposed “economism,” the
strategy of only supporting bread-and-butter labor union issues. Instead he argued that
socialists should defend every democratic concern, no matter how apparently far from
class. This included supporting big groups such as peasants, women, and oppressed nations,
but also students, draftees, censored writers, and religious minorities. “To imagine that
social revolution is conceivable without…a movement of the… masses against oppression
by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, etc. – to
imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution. So one army lines up in one place and
says, ‘We are for socialism’, and another, somewhere else and says, ‘We are for
imperialism’, and that will he a social revolution!” (Lenin 1916) I cite this sarcastic
comment even though Lenin was not a libertarian-autonomous Marxist, to demonstrate that
even such a Marxist as Lenin could advocate that working class socialists should give
support to all popular struggles against oppression-by all classes, on all issues. (In any
case, the problem anarchists have with Lenin is not that he gave too much support to
democratic struggles.)

“The Global Capitalist State Order”

Newman sees a model of the kind of radical movement he wants in “the emergence of what is
broadly termed the ‘anti-globalization’ movement….” (Newman 2004; 36) He describes this
movement as distinct from either a “universalized” working class or from a bundle of
unrelated identity-based struggles. The distinct struggles are linked to each other and
have a common enemy, which turns out to be….capitalism! and the capitalist state! “The
‘anti-globalization’ movement[is]a protest movement against the capitalist and neo-liberal
vision of globalization….” (36) The movement “puts into question the global capitalist
state order itself….It problematizes capitalism….targetting specific sites of
oppression-corporate power and greed, G-M products, workplace surveillance, displacement
of indigenous peoples, labor and human rights abuses, and so on.” (37) This only makes
sense if we realize that these issues, overlapping with each other, are all directly or
indirectly due to capitalism and enforced by the state. (For example, environmental,
energy, and climate problems are due to the insatiable drive of capitalism to accumulate
and grow quantitatively, regardless of the need of the ecosystem for limits and balance.
The anarchist Bookchin explored this before the present ecological Marxists.)

“We are living in a historical moment…dominated by capitalism, the most universal system
the world has ever known-both in the sense that it is global and in the sense that it
penetrates every aspect of social life and the natural environment….The social reality
of capitalism is ‘totalizing’ in unprecedented ways and degrees. Its logic of
commodification, accumulation, profit-maximization, and competition permeates the whole
social order….” (Woods 1997; 13)

If the problem is ultimately capitalism, then what is capitalism? (Newman does not define
it any more than he defines the state.) Capitalism is the capital-labor relationship in
the process of production. Capital commodifies everything it can, including the ability of
the workers to labor. Capital buys this labor-power and squeezes out as much surplus
wealth (value) from the workers as possible, accumulating profits and expanding
production. All the other issues and struggles against aspects of oppression are real and
must be addressed, but the central issue of capitalism as such is its exploitation of the
workers. And who will oppose capitalism? Is it in the immediate interests of the rich, the
managers, the police, or various indeterminate “citizens” to revolt against capitalism? No
one has a greater immediate interest in fighting capitalism than those who directly
confront it day by day. No one has a greater potential ability to fight it, with their
hands on the means of production, distribution, and services.

That is what makes the class struggle-if not “universal”-then central to the fight against
“the global capitalist state order.” It is central, and necessary-but not sufficient by
itself, since all sections of the oppressed need to be mobilized, on every issue, “against
the capitalist and neo-liberal vision of globalization.”

Conclusion: The State Serves the Class Enemy

In recent years there has been a bitter and vicious class war, on an international scale.
It has been waged by the capitalist class, using all its resources, most especially its
state. There has been a remorseless attack on the working class in both the industrialized
(imperialist) nations and in the rest of the world. Hard-won welfare benefits have been
slashed, austerity has been enforced, and unions have been cut in number and power. As
part of this class war, there has been an attack on the rights of women, of
African-Americans, of immigrants, and of LGBTQ people. For the sake of profits, the
environment has been trashed and looted, until the survival of civilization (even such as
it is) is threatened.

This is hardly the time to deny that capitalist exploitation is at the center of all
issues. And that, while the state is intrinsically oppressive, it serves the class enemy.

References

Draper, Hal (1977). Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Vol. 1; State and Bureaucracy. NY:
Monthly Review Press.

Kinna, Ruth (2017), Kropotkin: Reviewing the Classical Anarchist Tradition. Edinburgh UK:
Edinburgh University Press.

Kropotkin, Peter (2014). Direct Struggle Against Capital; A Peter Kropotkin Anthology
(Ed.: Iain McKay). Oakland CA: AK Press.

Lenin, V. I. (1916). “The Discussion On Self-Determination Summed Up.”
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/jul/x01.htm

Marx, Karl (1906). Capital; A Critique of Political Economy; Vol. 1 (Ed.: F. Engels). NY:
Modern Library.

Marx, Karl (2002). “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” (Trans.: T. Carver). In
Cowling, M., & Martin, J. (eds.). Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire; (Post)modern
Interpretations. London: Pluto Press. Pp. 19-109.

Marx, Karl, & Engels, Friedrich (1955). The Communist Manifesto. (Ed.: S.H. Beer).
Northbrook IL: AHM Publishing Co.

May, Todd (1994). The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism. University Park
PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Morris, Brian (1993). Bakunin; The Philosophy of Freedom. Montreal/NY: Black Rose Books.

Newman, Saul (2004). Anarchism, Marxism, and the Bonapartist State. (Originally published
in Anarchist Studies, 12, 1; 2004.) Retrieved on 2011.
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/saul-newman-anarchism-marxism-and-the-bonapartist-state.a4.pdf

Price, Wayne (2014). “Anarchism and the Philosophy of Pragmatism.” The Utopian.
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/wayne-price-anarchism-and-the-philosophy-of-pragmatism

Price, Wayne (2016). “In Defense of Revolutionary Class-Struggle Anarchism.” Anarkismo.
https://www.anarkismo.net/article/29243?search_text=wayne+price

Price, Wayne (2018). “An Anarchist View of the Class Theory of the State.”
Anarkismo. http://www.anarkismo.net/article/31082?author_name=Wayne+Price&

Prichard, Alex; Kinna, Ruth; Pinta, Saku; & Berry, David (eds.). (2017). Libertarian
Socialism: Politics in Black and Red. Oakland CA: PM Press.

Russell, Duane, & Evren, Sureyyya (eds.) (2011). Post-Anarchism: A Reader. Pluto Press/
Fernwood Publishing.

Wetherly, Paul (2002). “Making Sense of the ‘Relative Autonomy’ of the State.” In Cowling,
M., & Martin, J. (eds.). Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire; (Post)modern Interpretations. London:
Pluto Press. Pp. 195-208.

Wood, Ellen Meiksins (1997). “What is the ‘Postmodern’ Agenda?” In In Defense of History;
Marxism and the Postmodern Agenda. NY: Monthly Review Press. Pp. 1-16.

*written for www.Anarkismo.net

https://www.anarkismo.net/article/31126

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McDonald’s ‘greenwash won’t hide animal suffering’

Sáb, 09/15/2018 - 02:18

via The Ecologist

by Pru Elliott

McDonald’s has gone great lengths to paint itself as an ethical company in recent years. But does it need a refresher animal welfare course?

Keith Kenny is McDonald’s Vice President, Sustainability. He has been working for McDonald’s for nearly 30 years.

As part of this role, he is responsible for ensuring products are responsibly sourced, and that the company’s policies and business practices align in order to have a positive impact on society.

Supersized chickens

In a recent post on the business networking site LinkedIn, he said: “Given our size and reach as the world’s largest restaurant company, McDonald’s has the responsibility and opportunity to take action on some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges in the world today.”

Keith Kenny and other McDonald’s executives hold a great deal of power over the present and future global agricultural landscape.

And indeed, the company has gone great lengths to appear ethical in recent years, using only free-range eggs and organic milk, and phasing out the use of plastic straws in the UK.

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Abolish ICE! End the Wars!: 9/11 17 Years Later

Mié, 09/12/2018 - 04:14

via C4SS

by Logan Marie Glitterbomb

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, many began to grow increasingly skeptical of the state’s response. Even many of those who were not in the anti-war movement ended up questioning the Bush administration’s reaction. While the official story placed the blame at the hands of al Qaeda who were currently hiding in Afghanistan, our military was sent on a side mission to Iraq based on unprovable claims concerning weapons of mass destruction and lies about their ties to the 9/11 attacks.

It wasn’t just the needless warfare that upset the population, but also the increasing encroachment on our basic civil rights, namely the right to privacy. Between wiretapping scandals, the PATRIOT Act, and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, people started to grow increasingly distrustful of their government.

However 17 years later and the anti-war movement has barely gone anywhere. Sure we can thank Edward Snowden for the National Security Administration leaks. In response there were everything from Restore the Fourth rallies to efforts like Reset the Net. Despite pushback against the PATRIOT Act it mostly survives intact, extended via legislation with equally Orwellian names such as the USA FREEDOM Act.

The Iraq War may have officially ended in 2011 but private mercenary work still continues on Iraqi soil under the authorization of the american government, the War in Afghanistan still rages on, and we have expanded to War on Terror across the Middle East, influencing the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Two years after 9/11 launched the creation of the Department of Homeland Security which took the recently formed Transportation Security Administration under its banner. But while the TSA garnered huge amounts of public attention and scrutiny, one of its other branches which was created in 2003, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, went largely unnoticed by all except those directly affected by its existence. But recently the tides have turned.

Occupy ICE is still going strong, even after many of the physical occupations have been evicted. Many groups, including various chapters of the Industrial Workers of the World’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, and Occupy Prisons have thrown their weight behind the Dream DefendersGEO Cages divestment campaign which targets GEO Group, one of the largest profiteers behind ICE.

Abolishing ICE is becoming an increasingly mainstream battlecry. But let’s expand that battlecry and call for the abolition of the entire DHS, the repeal of the PATRIOT Act in all its updated forms, and a complete end to the War on Terror.

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Puerto Rican ‘Anarchistic Organizers’ Took Power Into Their Own Hands After Hurricane Maria

Mié, 09/12/2018 - 03:58

via Newsweek

In August, nearly one year after Hurricane Maria wrecked Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and plunged its 3.4 million residents into darkness, island officials heralded a milestone: The lights were back on. The state-owned electric company even tweeted a photo of a smiling family it said was the last to receive power.

But Christine Nieves, an activist in Mariana, didn’t celebrate. She and her small mountain community near the southeastern coast had already restored electricity—on their own. Tired of waiting on the government’s halting repairs, she worked with a band of self-described “anarchistic organizers” from the mainland to install a small solar grid, one of more than a dozen like-minded efforts across Puerto Rico. By the time electric workers showed up, Mariana was two months ahead of them. (The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority declined to comment for this article.)

The power uprising over the second largest blackout in world history provides a window into the civic and political landscape in a place where government institutions, saddled by bankruptcy and a federally appointed management board, failed in devastating ways. It also underscores a sobering reality a year after Maria: Many Puerto Ricans are, to some extent, still on their own. For eight months after the storm, Mariana residents lived without stable means of lighting, refrigeration or laundry. “People were on the verge, psychologically and physically,” says Nieves.

She and her partner established Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo, or Project for Mutual Aid, to coordinate clean-up efforts, prepare meals and check on locals after the storm. The initiative attracted the attention of a mainland group called Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, whose founding members did disaster relief work in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. To MADR co-founder Jimmy Dunson, Nieves’s efforts echoed his own group’s “anarchistic organizing”—revolution with more purpose than protest. MADR volunteers were already in Florida, helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, when family and friends alerted them of the dire situation in Puerto Rico. They pooled their own money and solicited donations to purchase water purifiers, solar power equipment and plane tickets to the island.

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Illustration: Molly Crabapple, 2017

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Thanks to Obama Bailouts and Trump Tax Cuts, Five Largest US Banks Have Raked in $583 Billion Since 2008 Crash

Mar, 09/11/2018 - 17:19

via Common Dreams

by Jake Johnson, staff writer

The 2008 financial meltdown inflicted devastating financial and psychological damage upon millions of ordinary Americans, but a new report released by Public Citizen on Tuesday shows the Wall Street banks that caused the crash with their reckless speculation and outright fraud have done phenomenally well in the ten years since the crisis.

Thanks to the Obama administration’s decision to rescue collapsing Wall Street banks with taxpayer cash and the Trump administration’s massive tax cuts and deregulatory push, America’s five largest banks—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs—have raked in more than $583 billion in combined profits over the past decade, Public Citizen found in its analysis marking the ten-year anniversary of the crisis.

“With no jail time for executives and half a trillion in post-crisis profits,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, “the big banks have made out like bandits during the post-crash period. Like bandits.”

Using data from the Federal Reserve, Public Citizen also calculated that America’s the banks now hold a combined $9.7 trillion in assets.

“In the aftermath of the Great Recession, American families continue to struggle. A new report by the Urban Institute finds that nearly 40 percent of Americans had trouble paying for basic needs such as food, housing or utilities in 2017,” Public Citizen notes in its report. “The banks, on the other hand—with more than half a trillion dollars in profits over the past decade—are doing just fine.”

If recent earnings reports are any indicator, big banks are on track to continue shattering profit records thanks to President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. Big banks are also expected to see a boost from a recently passed bipartisan deregulatory bill that analysts argue significantly heightens the risk of another crash.

“Wall Street’s grip on Washington is painfully evident in the corporate tax giveaways and deregulatory favors that Congress routinely bestows to this bonus-besotted industry,” Bartlett Naylor, financial policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, said in a statement.

According to a Washington Post analysis published on Saturday, many of the lawmakers and congressional aides who helped craft the Democratic Congress’ regulatory response to the 2008 crisis have gone on to work for Wall Street in the hopes of benefiting from big banks’ booming profits.

“Ten years after the financial crisis brought the U.S. economy to its knees, about 30 percent of the lawmakers and 40 percent of the senior staff who crafted Congress’ response have gone to work for or on behalf of the financial industry,” noted the Post‘s Jeff Stein.

Meanwhile, Main Street Americans who lost their homes, jobs, and savings as a result of the greed-driven crash are still struggling to get by on stagnant or declining wages, even as unemployment falls and the economy continues to grow at a steady clip.

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Wanting It Badly Is Not Enough: Real Problems For Creators Deserve Real Solutions

Mar, 09/11/2018 - 16:59

via boingboing

by Cory Doctorow

As the European Parliament prepares for tomorrow’s vote on the new Copyright Directive with its provisions requiring mass-scale filtering of all public communications to check for copyright infringement (Article 13) and its provisions requiring paid permission to link to the news if you include as little as two words from the headline in your link text (Article 11), a dismaying number of “creators groups” are supporting it, telling their members that this will be good for them and their flagging financial fortunes.

The real incomes of real creators are really important (disclosure: my primary income source comes from writing science fiction novels for Tor Books, a division of Macmillan). Improving the incomes of the creators who enliven our days, inform, shock, delight and frighten us is a genuine Good Thing.

And creators are not faring well: as both the entertainment industry and tech industry have consolidated, our power to negotiate for a fair slice of the pie has been steadily eroded. While it’s never been the case that the majority of people who wanted to be artists managed to make a career out of it, we’re also at a very low point in how much of the money generated by artists’ work finds its way into artists’ pockets.

Enter the Copyright Directive. Under Article 11, tech platforms are expected to send license fees to news companies, and the journalists whose work appears on news sites are presumed to get a share of these new profits.

But this will not happen on its own. A tax on linking means that smaller news sites — where writers are paid to analyse and criticise the news — will be frozen out of the market. They will face legal jeopardy if they link to the news they are discussing, and they will be unable to pay expensive linking fees geared to multinational tech platforms. Publishers have little incentive to negotiate licenses with small players – particularly if those writers wish to criticize the publisher’s work. Meanwhile, experience has shown that in the absence of competitive or legal pressure, news proprietors are more apt to disburse profits to shareholders, not journalists. The most likely outcome of Article 11 is fewer places to sell our work, and a windfall for the corporations who have been slicing our pay for decades.

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Decentralisation: the next big step for the world wide web

Mar, 09/11/2018 - 16:51

via The Guardian

by Zoë Corbyn

he story that broke early last month that Google would again cooperate with Chinese authorities to run a censored version of its search engine, something the tech giant has neither confirmed nor denied, had ironic timing. The same day, a group of 800 web builders and others – among them Tim Berners-Lee, who created the world wide web – were meeting in San Francisco to discuss a grand idea to circumvent internet gatekeepers like Google and Facebook. The event they had gathered for was the Decentralised Web Summit, held from 31 July to 2 August, and hosted by the Internet Archive. The proponents of the so-called decentralised web – or DWeb – want a new, better web where the entire planet’s population can communicate without having to rely on big companies that amass our data for profit and make it easier for governments to conduct surveillance. And its proponents have got projects and apps that are beginning to function, funding that is flowing and social momentum behind them. In light of the Snowden revelations and Cambridge Analytica scandal, public concerns around spying and privacy have grown. And more people have heard about the DWeb thanks to the television comedy Silicon Valley, whose main character recently pivoted his startup to try and build this “new internet”.

What is the decentralised web?
It is supposed to be like the web you know but without relying on centralised operators. In the early days of the world wide web, which came into existence in 1989, you connected directly with your friends through desktop computers that talked to each other. But from the early 2000s, with the advent of Web 2.0, we began to communicate with each other and share information through centralised services provided by big companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. It is now on Facebook’s platform, in its so called “walled garden”, that you talk to your friends. “Our laptops have become just screens. They cannot do anything useful without the cloud,” says Muneeb Ali, co-founder of Blockstack, a platform for building decentralised apps. The DWeb is about re-decentralising things – so we aren’t reliant on these intermediaries to connect us. Instead users keep control of their data and connect and interact and exchange messages directly with others in their network.

Why do we need an alternative?
With the current web, all that user data concentrated in the hands of a few creates risk that our data will be hacked. It also makes it easier for governments to conduct surveillance and impose censorship. And if any of these centralised entities shuts down, your data and connections are lost. Then there are privacy concerns stemming from the business models of many of the companies, which use the private information we provide freely to target us with ads. “The services are kind of creepy in how much they know about you,” says Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive. The DWeb, say proponents, is about giving people a choice: the same services, but decentralised and not creepy. It promises control and privacy, and things can’t all of a sudden disappear because someone decides they should. On the DWeb, it would be harder for the Chinese government to block a site it didn’t like, because the information can come from other places.

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The Viral Success of a Strike No One Can See

Mar, 09/11/2018 - 16:37

via The Atlantic

by Vauhini Vara

Months ago, inmates across the U.S. began planning a strike over prison conditions, including low or nonexistent wages. To start getting the word out, they didn’t target big news organizations. Instead, organizers posted about the imminent strikes to their own social-media followers. And they contacted publications with an activist bent, like Shadowproof, a press organization focused on marginalized communities, and the San Francisco Bay View, a black-liberation newspaper.

They worried, based on past experience, that mainstream outlets would emphasize that prisoners’ often anonymous accounts of the strike couldn’t be verified and the fact that the impact of the strike was hard to predict. But more radical publications, they believed, would focus on the strikers’ message, about unjust prison conditions and what should be done about them. That message could be amplified online, and picked up by bigger publications. “We intentionally went from the bottom up,” Brooke Terpstra, an organizer in Oakland with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a group that has been supporting the strike, told me.

The strike began on August 21 and is set to last through September 9, the anniversary of the Attica prison uprising of 1971. In addition to calling for prisoners to be paid the prevailing wage where they live (under the current regime, they can be paid a couple of dollars an hour, or, in some states, nothing at all), the strikers’ list of 10 demands includes voting rights for “ex-felons” and better funding for rehabilitation services. Thus far, it’s not clear how widespread the protest has been. Organizers report that prisoners are striking in Washington, Georgia, South Carolina, and California, among several other states, where prisoners are refusing to work and eat. That’s a conservative estimate, Terpstra told me, as organizers want to remain cautious in order to maintain credibility. Early on, one organizer suggested in an interview that non-prisoners should demonstrate their solidarity by protesting outside prison gates, which appears to have happened at some facilities. In general, prison officials have largely countered the organizers’ claims, saying they’re not aware of any strikes at their facilities.*

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Dissecting the madness of economic reason

Lun, 09/10/2018 - 01:52

via ROAR Magazine

by Jerome Roos

A decade after the financial crisis of 2008, global capitalism remains in dire straits. Despite central banks providing a steady diet of low interest rates and pumping over $12 trillion of new money into the world economy through quantitative easing, growth remains anaemic, even as debt levels in many countries are back on the rise and inequality rapidly spirals out of control. Secular stagnation now goes hand in hand with the emergence of new speculative bubbles in stocks and housing, raising fears that fresh financial turmoil and further debt crises may only be a matter of time.

With mainstream economics clearly incapable of providing a satisfactory account of capitalism’s inherent tendency towards crisis formation, the past decade has seen a resurgence of interest in the work of Karl Marx, undoubtedly the most astute observer of the system’s internal contradictions. Perhaps no other living scholar has played a more important role in this renaissance of Marxist theorizing than David Harvey, the geographer whose many books and celebrated online course on Capital weaned a new generation of students and activists on an innovative reading of Marx’s critique of political economy.

In his new book, Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason, Harvey provides a concise introduction to Marx’s theoretical framework and a compelling argument for its increasing relevance to the “insane and deeply troubling world in which we live.” Fleshing out a number of ideas first presented as part of a lecture series at the City University of New York, where he is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, the book is characteristic of the “late Harvey”: incisive in its analysis, sweeping in its scope, accessible in its style and laced with profound insights on the madness of the economic system under which we live.

Harvey’s reading of Capital has long been marked by the emphasis it places on the system’s unrivalled spatial and temporal dynamism. Unlike the fixity and “arid formalism” of some of the more rigid structuralist accounts that were influential during the 1970s, Harvey accords central importance to Marx’s definition of capital as value in motion, focusing his analysis on its contradictory internal movements and its capacity to produce both transformative change and violent disruption across space and time. “Capital,” he repeatedly notes, “becomes a permanently revolutionary force in world history.”

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Anarchy: What It Is and Why Pop Culture Loves It

Sáb, 09/08/2018 - 02:59

via Teen Vogue

by Kim Kelly

In a pop-cultural sense, at least, the idea of anarchy has been characterized by either a middle-fingers-up, no-parents-no-rules punk attitude, or a panicky, more conservative outlook used by national and state sources to represent violent chaos and disorder. Today, we can see an extremely serious, radical leftist political philosophy on T-shirts at Hot Topic.

So what is anarchism? What do those people raising black flags and circling A’s really want? Here’s what you need to know:

What is anarchism?

Anarchism is a radical, revolutionary leftist political philosophy that advocates for the abolition of government, hierarchy, and all other unequal systems of power. It seeks to replace what its proponents view as inherently oppressive institutions — like a capitalist society or the prison industrial complex — with nonhierarchical, horizontal structures powered by voluntary associations between people. Anarchists organize around a key set of principles, including horizontalism, mutual aid, autonomy, solidarity, direct action, and direct democracy, a form of democracy in which the people make decisions themselves via consensus (as opposed to representative democracy, of which the United States government is an example).

“I would define anarchism as the nonhierarchical, nonelectoral, direct-action-oriented form of revolutionary socialism,” Mark Bray, a lecturer at Dartmouth College and author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, tells Teen Vogue.

As the New York City-based anarchist group Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council (MACC), of which I’m a member, writes on its website it, “We demonstrate a vision for a society in fundamental opposition to the brutal logic of contemporary capitalism — a society based on mutual aid, cooperation, and radical democracy.”

Where did anarchism come from?

Anarchism has ancient roots, with the word itself stemming from the ancient Greek anarchos, or “without rulers,” but it fully bloomed as a political philosophy in Europe and the United States during the 19th century. At the time, Communist thinker Karl Marx’s writings had become popular, and people were searching for alternatives to the capitalist system. The Paris Commune — a brief period in 1871 when Paris was controlled by anarchists and communists — helped spread the message of anarchism further, and inspired more young radicals to take up the cause, sometimes to violent effect when they embraced the philosophy of “propaganda by the deed.” By the early 20th century, anarchism had spread throughout the world, but government repression often made it difficult for anarchists to organize and achieve their goals.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is generally recognized as the first self-proclaimed anarchist, and his theories continue to influence anarchist thought today — if you’ve ever heard the phrase “property is theft,” that’s straight from Proudhon’s 1840 book What Is Property? But Proudhon was far from the only prominent thinker to advance the cause of anarchy. William Godwin’s 1793 treatise, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, is hailed as a classic of antistate, proto-anarchist thought. Other famous contributors to anarchism’s development include Peter Kropotkin, Mikhail Bakunin, Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, Voltairine De Cleyre, Max Stirner, Johann Most, Buenaventura Durruti, and Alexander Berkman. In addition to these names, countless others, whose identities have been lost to history, have helped refine and spread the ideology of anarchism. Today, anarchism is a fully global, intersectional philosophy, with particularly strong roots in Latin America, Spain, Germany, and, as of 2012, the Middle East, due to the 2012 Rojava Revolution in occupied Kurdistan.

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Reality Wars: Notes on the homicidal state

Vie, 09/07/2018 - 03:35
by Fifth Estate # 399, Fall, 2017

It is required now to bemoan the fact that the current US President is both a producer and product of Reality TV. Indeed, “reality,” “realty,” and “royalty” are all linked etymologically.

The real-estate tycoon, then, Reality TV boss, now completes the triumvirate by taking on a state executive role by treating it as his own monarchical sovereign seat. Instead of addressing this by seeking to reestablish correspondence-based truth via facts), we would be better off seeing reality as a terrain filled with metamorphosis machines, with subjectivities made and destroyed. We can begin an account of these reality wars by assessing the menagerie of alt-right and neo-fascist street actors emboldened by his victory.

Some have rightly noted that trump’s street “army” emerged from troll-based online cultures, as when some sharp tongued anti-fascists during a protest yelled “Go back to 4chan!” These mutants also have other, older, cultural references. Roman Gladiators, Spartan fighters, medieval knights, and nazi troopers are all re-mixed into the desperately awkward ganglings that gather in the streets. The result: a cosplay assembly for fans of ruined empires.

The genre of the right wing rallies is one familiar to their leader: entertainment wrestling. These fans were weaned on the World Wide Wrestling’s ironic crowd love, founded on the dynamic of costumed reality. Wrestling was the training ground for those leaving reality-based communities.

An early post-truth populist moment was found in those mediated stadiums, locker rooms, and homes. DT himself became a Hall of Famer in this world in 2013 (after the infamous “Hair vs. Hair” match in 2007’s WrestleMania XXIII, where he, in a simulation of archaic sovereign rituals, shaved WWE CEO Vince McMahon bald).

When ElectionMania 2016 became the main event, the 18-30-year-old voters had already spent their entire lives in a post-truth world staged first by the Wrestling Boom of the late 1980s, then enhanced by 21st century Reality TV, and finally augmented by online meme magic strategies.

It’s not that they grew up in an era of fakeness, but rather one in which truth/falsity stayed backstage in favor of other affective investments. Observers have wondered about the authentic conviction of these alt-right actors, noting their ironic postures.

Are all of them ideologically driven adherents? Or, are those that have genuine faith bolstered by a coterie of last-stand costumers, whose only attachment is to the transgressive feels belonging to the competitive anti-PC troll? Are these Lost Boys with mock macho posturings? Do they drink milk publicly as a bold display of white supremacy or as signals that they miss their mommies (while parading their misogyny)?

This carnivalesque moment would be laughable if the stakes weren’t life or death. The wrestling ring might be in the streets, but this time the blood is real, as evidenced in Charlottesville in August 2017.

Trumpist reality re-enactors are infused with a fascist-like will-to-death. When Trump, visiting Poland earlier that summer, asserted “the fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he was beginning, in inverse form, to announce this self-immolation.

For all the talk of “the West’s” need for preservation by Proud Boys and their Proud Papa, the suicidal impulse among these failed Empire fans dominates. Steve “Walking Dead” Bannon calls for a deconstructive approach to the state, which means dismantling any biopolitical infrastructure while augmenting the death-making police and military machines. Masculine pissing contests on the world stage threaten to put the NK and the US back into nukes.

Commentators note that 4chan is a community that jokes about its self-destructive drives while encouraging others to kill themselves. Trump fans revel in the glories of ruins so as to dramatize their individual downslides. Since their future is dead, these teens- and twenty-somethings walk as ghosts and simulations not of victorious warriors, but of the defeated—staging a reality as necropolitical carnival.

We need not look at online cultures to see this self/other murderous dynamic. To wit: the increase in “domesticity terrorists”—those men who undertake patriarchal revenge and control killings. These networked “lone wolves” attack individuals (partners, exes, strangers), birth control centers, yoga classes, college campuses and other spaces where women converge. Pick-up artists pick up guns when their “artistry” is rejected.

Mass shooters (almost always men) don’t have the decency to just off themselves—they demand that others join them. Trump’s MAGA death cult is a collective version of these “homi-suicides.”

We can trace this as far back as the Great Depression whose iconic image depicts lone men jumping out of windows, while we know that unemployed men also forced their families to join them in the abyss. Whereas DT and the right crow on about Muslim honor killings, domestic honor killings (where murdering women is seen as a form of revenge against dishonoring the man’s own ego-reputation) and honor suicides-by-cop are routines of everyday misogyny, both monotheistic and secular.

What we’ve witnessed at this socio-cultural level is now becoming a state-machine. Trump is the CEO of the homi-suicide state.

A long passage by Deleuze and Guattari describes it presciently: “When fascism builds itself a totalitarian State, it is not in the sense of a State army taking power, but of a war machine taking over the State. A bizarre remark by Virilio puts us on the trail: in fascism, the State is far less totalitarian than it is suicidal. There is in fascism a realized nihilism. Unlike the totalitarian State, which does its utmost to seal all possible lines of flight, fascism is constructed on an intense line of flight, which it transforms into a line of pure destruction and abolition. It is curious that from the very beginning the Nazis announced to Germany what they were bringing: at once wedding bells and death, including their own death, and the death of the Germans.”

With DT, this version of the fascist war machine is populated not by the sleek uniformity of Nazi regalia, but the comic bricolage of the league of historical reality wrestlers. Theirs is a nihilism dressed up as dead regimes, founded on a stony ambition: a final abolition without end, forming a political body indifferent to its own survival (planetary, especially). Frogs like Pepe live in swamps, too.

Some have called this “populism,” but this backlashing minority are the guardians of a patriarchy and white supremacy in decline. Despite the laughable attempts at neo-royalism (Exhibit A: the manospheric “Return of Kings”) they are not preservers of a powerful noble culture. They are both weak and dangerous, passionate defenders of servitude to ruins. Their final violent gasps are more a destruction of all during a collapse (but especially women and people of color).

In this Upside Down world, characterized by self-immolating death networks and techno-subjective ruination, at best, we are confronted with a necro-populism.

Our conventional political terminology needs to capture this process better. Some have called the rise of Trumpism an insurgent force in US politics. Given its trajectory and speed, it is more like a “downsurgency” in which decline accelerates rapidly.

This downward vortex is cheered by some in their costumes and trolling indifference, while others operate on the more violent end of the necro-spectrum, creating a stochastic mass of killers (by gun, car, and other weapons of networked destruction). Not an uprising, but an accelerated and violent downsinking.

These reality wars are already underway, and the responses are crucial. No platform is a method of refusing the downsurgency public space, it forms a popular security against their vortex. Antifascist insurgencies also invent forms-of-life—imagining and implementing ways of being that counter the necrotic fantasies.

Community defense, collective security, communal forms-of-life: all that is life-affirming wages a different kind of reality war against the death-machines that seek total negation as their final act of sovereign shaping. Creating different kinds of abolition machines means thwarting their authoritarian versions of reality molding.

Reality wars are not fought on the terrain of knowledge and facts, where we act as spectator-participants to reaffirm authoritative venues for truth-making. We return to reality as subjective agents—creating worlds, shaping relations, making forms-of-life. In this reality, we revive a destituent and compositional power that anarchism knows so well.

Jack Z. Bratich is a zine librarian at ABC No Rio in New York City, and an associate professor in the journalism and media studies department at Rutgers University. His research applies autonomist social theory to such topics as reality television, social movement media, and the cultural politics of secrecy. His latest writing appears in The Culture Jamming Reader (NYU Press, 2017).

Solidarity Unionism: What it is and what it isn’t

Jue, 09/06/2018 - 14:07

by Don White

There is quite a bit of confusion around the definition of solidarity unionism. When I speak to people, long-time IWW members included, there seems to be the assumption that solidarity unionism and direct action are the same thing. They are not. I want to clarify the difference because I believe this confusion hinders actual organizing and I hope to help people be able to communicate solidarity unionism to their co-workers.

I recently had a conversation with the main organizer at Thomas Train. Thomas Train Solutions is an organizing campaign in which the IWW won certification as the bargaining agent in 2013, but still has yet to negotiate a contract. The organizer was frustrated that so many people in the IWW were “solidarity unionism purists.” By that he meant that he didn’t think that the shop should have to rely solely on direct action; they wanted to sign a contract. As we were discussing this further I came to realize he was confusing solidarity unionism, an organizing model, and direct action, a tactic.

Thomas Train workers had engaged in a successful strike and the organizer kept pointing to that as an example of them using solidarity unionism. But going on strike is a tactic, and it can be organized by a paid staff, or a charismatic leader, or it can be organized worker-to-worker. When mainstream union leadership calls on its members to go on strike because of contract negotiations stalling or some major perceived injustice by management, this is a paid staff organizing the strike. At Thomas Train, the strike was more or less driven by this one charismatic leader. Direct action was used, but it was not organized through solidarity unionism. For it to be organized through solidarity unionism would mean it was organized worker-to-worker. This was the organizer’s confusion. Direct action and solidarity unionism are not the same thing.

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Anarchists & Guns

Jue, 09/06/2018 - 05:04

by Paul Walker

Fifth Estate # 401, Summer 2018

“Workingmen: Arm yourselves and appear in full force!”
—1886 Haymarket leaflet

The initial clamor about controlling gun violence following the horrible mass shooting at Parkland, Fla. high school this February mostly subsided following huge demonstrations of students across the country in March and April. Young students appeared everywhere in the media advocating reforms, but no legislation has passed that will staunch the blood flow, and probably none will be forthcoming.

(As this was written, another high school massacre occurred in Santa Fe, Tex., followed by several other smaller ones that quickly disappeared from public attention.)

Liberal policies will do little to stem gun violence, and right wing proposals to arm everybody, led by the increasingly shrill National Rifle Association (NRA), only assures more killing.

Neither approach will successfully combat gun violence in a country steeped in a history of violence, where a third of the population owns 300 million firearms, and political limits constrain lawmakers to, at best, make tepid reforms.

While that mainstream debate continues, those who see the need for defense against a rising right wing current and perhaps for a revolution in a future period are involved in a parallel discussion about arms possession. If you oppose the political state what should be the stance toward legislation that would limit gun ownership and type of weaponry? Formal laws take the place of autonomous action in all spheres of life, providing both a protective and a repressive function. Armed might is the core of the political state. Without it protecting the ruling class and its economic and social arrangements, hierarchal systems from the first slave states to the current capitalist ones wouldn’t have lasted long in the face of popular resistance.

However, the modern state mediates some of the worst abuses and natural consequences of an exploitative system. One can assume most anarchists, while opposing the state as an institution, are supportive of laws within the current system such as those governing the environment, product and workplace safety, discrimination, speed limits, and crimes against persons, all of which are enforced by the same tyrannical system of cops, judges, and courts which victimize the poor and people of color, and repress expressions of resistance.

It is certain that anarchists and other revolutionaries share a concern about the daily death toll the proliferation of firearms exacts, but the question to consider is, are arms a special and unique category different from air quality regulation or no left turn prohibitions?

Other than the United States, most Western countries have strict requirements regarding weaponry, including ownership, type, usage, etc., resulting in gun death rates up to 90 percent less than that of this country.

All of the liberal proposals for background checks, mandatory gun locks and safes, prohibiting ownership by abusers, and banning semi-automatic assault rifles, if enacted, would probably reduce gun violence somewhat. However, even under that politically fanciful scenario, that would still leave a heavily armed population with a capacity to act out shootings against themselves and others.

When we move to a discussion on our end of things as to what position should be taken regarding gun ownership, a whole different set of concerns come into the equation. It takes place in a context far from the understandable liberal dismay at the repeated mass shootings, one that considers the consequences of a disarmed population unable to protect workers and minorities against a tyrannical government, racist or right-wing mobs, or the ability to defend a revolution.

Historically, anarchists have admired armed revolutionaries, on the European barricades of 1848, at the 1871 Paris Commune, the revolutionary resistance to the Bolsheviks by the Makhnovist movement and Kronstadt garrison, and the most frequently cited example, our comrades of the anarchist militias in Spain who fought both fascists and Stalinists in the defense of the revolution they created in the 1930s.

In the U.S., African Americans frequently employed armed resistance to white racist terror following the Civil War and into the 1960s. Workers in the coal fields of West Virginia and Kentucky fought cops, National Guard, and company goons to defend their unions or the right to organize in the 1920s. In 1886, anarchist labor leaders called upon their members to “Arm yourselves and appear in full force,” at a rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. Many did, but following a bomb blast and ensuing gunfire that left scores dead and wounded, four anarchists were hanged by the state of Illinois.

Huey Newton, chairman of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s, famously urged oppressed black people to, “Pick up the gun!” The specter of armed African Americans confronting brutal urban police forces led to a murderous campaign of repression against the party resulting in the deaths of dozens of Panthers in spectacular shoot-outs across the country, and an eclipse of their non-violent community based programs.

The 1921 so-called Tulsa Race Riot was actually a white mob and police attack against a prosperous African American district. Black World War I veterans and members of the African Blood Brotherhood bravely built barricades to defend their neighborhoods against the marauders.

The resistance against the mobs was so intense that white city officials aerial bombed the defenders, burning the black section to the ground, killing hundreds.

The third aerial bombing of the U.S. (the second being Pearl Harbor) came in 1985 when a Philadelphia police helicopter dropped an incendiary device on the communal living space of the MOVE organization following a pitched gun battle with authorities trying to serve arrest warrants including ones for arms possession. The resulting fire killed eleven MOVE members including five children and destroyed 65 houses. Many of the black liberation group’s members remain in prison serving long sentences. (See “On a MOVE in Maine” in this issue.)

All of these examples (hundreds more exist) were heroic struggles against oppression and exploitation, yet almost all of them were scenes of great bloodshed and usually defeat of the radical forces pitted against the ruling powers.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was originally proposed by its Framers to guarantee states the right to raise militias to suppress slave uprisings and armed white revolts such as Bacon’s and Shay’s Rebellions. In recent years, its alleged ambiguity has morphed explicitly into a right of personal gun ownership, and increasingly advocated by the NRA to expand an armed population. However, the Framers also saw the necessity for having every white male armed in an era when they had a palpable fear of slave rebellions and Indian attacks. That siege mentality still exists among many whites, particularly ones who are armed.

The question here is what works for organizing defense of one’s self and community and a revolution if that comes to pass. Just as in day-to-day organizing, we evaluate what works partly by examining the strategies and tactics of past campaigns so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. What does this say about the efficacy of arming for revolution or for even community self-defense?

The first line of defense for capitalism and the political state once threatened is the police who are increasingly militarized. The cops of yore did damage enough when armed only a little better than their challengers, but now they possess military grade armaments including tanks and a variety of sophisticated weapons, surveillance, and command capacity.

Were the cops to fail in efforts to halt a mass based movement demanding revolutionary change, the final level of protection of the state is its regular armed forces who could easily overcome any popular-based revolution or resistance. A modern revolution could only occur if sections of the military joined the revolution.

Regarding defense against fascist threats to our movements on a daily basis, let alone for revolution or even radical reform: We are currently way outgunned. There are ten million AR-15 assault rifles owned by Americans. How many can we estimate are in the hands of, in general, Trump supporters, or narrowing it to extreme rightists and open fascists compared to how many are possessed by anarchists or leftists? The math is not encouraging.

Employing increasingly strident, far right-wing rhetoric, the NRA with its five million armed members, could easily be transformed into fascist militias as happened after World War I when the German Freikorps, a right-wing para-military, was used by the government to suppress revolutionary upsurges.

Currently, on the left, there are small gun groups like Guerrilla Mainframe and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, which oppose police brutality and advocate for the rights of black gun owners.

Also, there is Redneck Revolt, an anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-fascist group which organizes white working-class people and has more than 33 local chapters, an offshoot of the John Brown Gun Clubs. They’ve appeared armed at Trump rallies in the manner rightists have elsewhere. Left groups are all under heavy police surveillance. The co-founder of the two black organizations, Rakem Balogun, was recently locked up for five months without bail on suspicion of “domestic terrorism.”

It’s hard to say what this suggests doing. We are clearly outgunned both by the state and the right. Should historic defeats encourage us to submit without a struggle? Should we depend upon the state to protect us from rightist assault? The answers to these questions are obvious.

Harder questions are, should anarchists oppose any restrictions on gun ownership other than background checks, or even that? Should we see the Red Neck/John Brown Gun Clubs as a model of armed resistance against an increasingly crazed right wing which has no debate about the issue of guns?

In answering this, we should be aware that there will be 35,000 U.S. gun deaths in a given year with 100,000 people wounded. If anarchists were as armed as are current gun owners, would we be any safer from murdering one another, taking our own lives, and shooting others accidentally? Probably not. (Full disclosure: I own three weapons, and do not want to surrender them.)

However, revolution has always been an undertaking filled with risks and the future is uncertain as to what will occur as this country’s politics get crazier. It’s been said that we should have a big tool box, one which includes a multitude of resources of which guns at a particular time could be useful ones.

Most revolutions are thought of as extremely violent events, but the act of revolution by itself, the wheel turning over the old society and bringing the new one to the top, is usually fairly non-violent. In Russia and Spain, for instance, revolutionary ideals supplanted the conventional norms of capitalism and the state as workers and peasants simply began life without bosses and cops. It was the defense of those new forms in which so many lives were lost.

No one from the Fifth Estate offers advice as to whether gun possession is appropriate or not, and certainly not this writer. The most appropriate tools are those which have always led towards revolution—organizing around greater freedom, protecting those most at risk from racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia, supporting struggles in the workplace and the community, and subverting loyalty to the empire, its military, and its wars.

Once we see where this has brought us, it will be an organic process of deciding the best means of defense.

Paul Walker is a long time friend of the Fifth Estate who lives in the Detroit area.

An Anarchism of the Working-Class: A Review of Whither Anarchism?

Jue, 09/06/2018 - 04:49

By Miriam Pickens

I appreciate Kristian Williams’ pamphlet, both the thought put into it and the challenge
it represents. I learned a lot from its history, and in particular gained insight into the
behavior of anarchists I meet today. Williams traces some practices of contemporary US
anarchism back to pacifism, looking at how contemporary anarchists unthinkingly accept
much of that philosophy. In my view, that influence led to the movement prioritizing
providing comfort to its participants, rather than organizing to change the circumstances
that led to the discomfort they feel with society in the first place. This emphasis
accepts the inevitability of capitalism and is therefore a strategy to live within its
parameters. But I don’t think capitalism will allow us these spaces. Instead, it has to be
overthrown and not allowed to come back.

Williams’ pamphlet is made up of three essays: “My Anarchism,” “Whither Anarchism?” and
“Conclusion: Revolutions, Scientific and Otherwise.”

In Williams’ first essay, “My Anarchism,” he shares his belief that “the core of
anarchism[is]to be captured in the proposition that decisions must be made by those most
affected by them.” He further states that “that belief, in turn, relies on a pair of
values, those of freedom and equality.” He develops his understanding of these values by
defining equality as meaning “that we are all equally human, and equally entitled to the
respect and consideration worthy of a human being.”(3-4) He stresses that “[B]y freedomI
mean simply that people can live their lives without interference, arranging their affairs
according to their own best judgment – and . . . enjoy practical opportunities to widen
the scope of their possible activities.” (4-5)

These are the values Williams cites as the basis of the society he wants. I agree with
these values. I understand that there has never been a society that embodies these ideals,
so I see them as something to strive and to fight for. I see them as values that our
current system, world capitalism, gives lip-service to, but defines in a way that does not
value people as equals and that limits our freedoms so that we cannot even conceive of
freedom in the same way we would if we were free. That is, our understandings and
consciousness are also determined and limited by the system we live within, something
Williams understands. We should know that we can grow and develop beyond our current
understanding of what is possible.

The attainment of these ideals is also collective. We not only cannot gain them as
individuals, we cannot experience them individually. The denial of these rights is
systemic and collective. Therefore, our fight for them must also be system-wide and
collective.

Williams centers the relationship that control of resources has to power by stating that

“The accumulation of resources brings with it a large measure of power, and to the degree
that this power is accepted as legitimate, authority as well. Likewise, the accumulation
of power grants one the ability to acquire and control additional resources. Sometimes
this power is used to directly coerce individual people, but more routinely its
application is impersonal, establishing policies and making choices which shape the
conditions under which we all must live.” He develops the impersonal and structural nature
of capitalism by showing that “even those at the very top often feel their decisions to be
dictated by the internal logic of the system itself.” (5)

Williams ties power and authority, the ability to give/take away freedom and equality, to
the control of resources. I agree with this. It is why I think our fight has to center
around the fight for material resources and to be centered within those who need the
resources and are fighting for them. I call this the working class in its most inclusive
definition. That is, not just people who have jobs, but also including the families and
communities that are also without power, without capital, and who have resources withheld
from them.

I do not think we have to limit our fights to these issues, however. In fact, I think we
need to take on the entire social complexity that limits or diminishes us. But our basic
struggle is for resources: land, food, shelter, clean air and water, public space, time,
along with the respect and dignity due us as human beings. Williams breaks down the
arguments of the inevitability of the way things are by separating organization from
hierarchy. “[I]f society is to survive there must be some means of organization, but our
organizations need not be hierarchical and need not be driven by the profit motive.” (6)

Williams spends quite a bit of time laying out his vision of how a new society might be
organized: “as a decentralized network of democratically-run institutions and voluntary
associations.” He sees the need for flexibility by stating that “there may yet be some
sorts of activities most effectively or efficiently pursued by creating a single central
clearing house, or adopting a level of standardization, or appointing a steering
committee. Leadership, supervision, and even coercive authority may sometimes still be
necessary. The important thing is that any such position, or the exercise of such power,
would need to be understood as requiring at every stage a kind of justification.” His
vision clearly states that “the democratization of both power and resources would spell an
end to capitalism and class society. So too would it mean an end to the state . . . and
also demand of us all that we eliminate any stratification based on race, gender,
ethnicity, nationality, ancestry, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, or any other
prejudicial or extraneous consideration.”(6-7)

What Williams does not say is that the active fight for revolution, for a violent
overthrow of the capitalist system, is what would provide the basis for the type of
society he outlines. A new society does not just result, nor does democratization happen,
without a fight. It is in the course of this struggle that change occurs, both in the
minds of the people doing the struggling and in the concrete circumstances of their lives.

Reading Whither Anarchism?, I appreciate the way Williams unmasks the subtleties of how we
are impacted by the society we live in. For instance, I came of age politically in the
1960s and 70s, when a mass movement was alive in our cities and streets, everyday
working-class people were reading, discussing, and thinking about the big issues of the
state, revolution, and the role of organization. My early development as a
Jewish-Communist child in 1950s Compton, California led me to value the organization and
collective activity of working-class people. I saw multiracial groups challenging both the
large and small expressions of oppression and power. I was a part of picket lines,
demonstrations large and small, and cultural gatherings that were multiracial, of all
ages, and from all parts of the world. We were united in our opposition to “the system,”
although my childish understanding was far from complex or nuanced.

My activity inside Marxist organizations (Independent Socialist Clubs, International
Socialists, Revolutionary Socialist League) and my thirty years inside a Detroit auto
factory put me in the middle of a movement that sought to understand and challenge power.

We incorporated insights gained from the Black freedom struggle, feminism, the emerging
gay movements, and the intersectionality of the Black women’s movement, and used them to
broaden and deepen our ideas of “the working class,” so that we spoke of the working class
as specifically not only white men, but of all races, all genders, and all orientations.
We began to develop understandings of how skilled workers and their families were given
more middle-class opportunities, better housing and education, than those workers on the
bottom. We saw how demands for “respectability” were used to control and contain our
movements and to divide our class. We focused our attention on the lowest paid workers,
with the idea that if they get their needs met, all the rest would too.

Williams says that “our habits of difference and entitlement may rule us more subtly and
thus more firmly, and may prove the greater obstacle to our own liberation. Equality, in
other words, must be alive in our minds as a positive ideal. It is not merely the absence
of inequality or subordination. It requires a new sociability, perhaps a new subjectivity,
formed both within and between us as we work together to re-order society and discover new
ways of relating – as we, in short, learn both to exercise and to respect freedom.” (7)

This does not happen in a vacuum, nor simply because we want it to though. These power
relations are understood and overturned in the course of struggling together for common
goals, where the exercise of power between people gets in the way and limits our
struggles. We are forced to break out of old habits, because they hold us back. It is this
understanding that girds us to fight for everyone’s freedom and equality, not just because
it is our values, but because our own freedom and equality, our chance to survive, develop
and grow, depends upon it.

In some ways, Williams recognizes this:

“For as social barriers fall, as the stigma of inequality fades, our ability to relate to
one another improves, becomes more natural, less fraught. We all profit from the contact
with a wider array of perspectives, experiences, insights. The creation of this sort of
society, or anything like it, would require a kind of revolution, and that is true no
matter what means are used to bring it about. For revolution denotes the extent of social
change, not the method for achieving it. Progress will come erratically, unevenly, and not
according to anyone’s timetable. Likely it will not even look like a revolution as it
unfolds, but as a series of crises, small miracles, wrenching compromises, painful
defeats, stupid missteps, heroic sacrifices, frustrating reversals, bold experiments,
regrettable excesses, ridiculous half-measures, reckless gambles, and righteous refusals –
until finally, slowly, the overall shape of the new society begins to emerge, and the
direction of events becomes clear.” (10)

Williams’ view of revolution here seems unreal to me, as if we live in a vacuum. Where is
the ruling class, with all its police and armies, in this scenario? What are they doing
while we are building our new society? They are attacking us, dividing us, killing us.
They are fighting our revolutionary movement with all the resources available to them! If
we are not prepared to meet their violence with all the resources at our command – our
organization, unity, our vision, along with a practical material struggle – we will
certainly lose. Our revolution is a form of self-defense. We must withhold the labor and
resources they take from us. We must organize strategically and tactically to fight them:
for resources, including land, territory, food, water, what we need to survive. Do not
think this will not be violent. On their part, willful violence, as we have seen our whole
lives, taken out on individuals as police murders, on communities as the bombing of the
MOVE organization in Philadelphia showed, on the taking of entire countries and land. On
our part, an armed defense of ourselves, our families, our communities, our neighborhoods,
our land, our revolution. Power is never given away. It must be taken. This is not a
gradual unfolding, this is a wrenching away, a destruction of the state apparatus, a
burning of prisons and records of debt. The existing power must be destroyed root and
branch before we can gradually build anything. When we encourage people to join our fight
and do not prepare for this, we are being negligent and dishonest. This is an either-or
situation. We cannot have a free society as long as capitalism continues to exist.

One of the main lessons of the Russian Revolution of 1917 is that seizing state power is
not enough. They ended up with capitalism controlled by the state in the name of “the
worker’s state.” Despite its names and propaganda, it remained capitalist, and unfree.
Power, hierarchical relations, must be destroyed, not taken over or redirected or given to
someone else. Our attempts will be violently resisted, and we must be prepared.

My experience with Marxists is that they were always analyzing capitalism, but that
anarchists almost never had discussions about the economy, its direction, and how it
affects the ways we need to focus our struggles. Marxists, however, tend to fit what they
see into predetermined boxes and that almost always leads them to support the liberal wing
of the bourgeoisie. As anarchists we are trying to promote a view that our enemy is the
entire capitalist class, both its reactionary and its reformist elements, including its
state capitalist manifestations, like the former Soviet Union. In fact, it is the
reformist element we need to watch out for in particular ways, as it is always trying to
rope us in to support of its section of the ruling class. At this point in time, the
reactionary section is letting loose and is enabling the organization and development of a
mass fascist base. We need a theory that can put us in opposition to both sections and
strategies of the capitalist class, reformist and reactionary.

I began to identify as an anarchist after meeting anarchists during the 2011 Occupy
movement. I agreed with how their expressions of antiauthoritarianism resonated within me
and how they talked about not just seizing state power, but doing away with the state, and
with hierarchy and power relations as a whole. I joined First of May Anarchist Alliance
(M1) as an intentional revolutionary group and through that, the Direct Action Committee
of Occupy. We focused our energies on an ongoing struggle in Detroit to keep people in
their homes. We used direct action tactics such as blocking streets with dumpsters and
laying down in the doorways of banks. We also used social media and, of most importance,
direct democratic forms of organization and participation. We fought hard against elitists
and saviors, many nonprofits and Democratic Party representatives, who wanted to take
leadership of our movement. We insisted that no one is coming to save us and that it was
the people affected who must decide the best ways forward. We argued that direct
democratic meetings with open participation was the best way to ensure that people
affected could voice their concerns and determine their course of action. It was the
homeowners losing their homes, their friends, family and communities who came out to
support and defend our fight. Detroit Eviction Defense exists today as a result of that
effort. Not just anarchists, of course. Union people, social democrats, Marxists, radicals
and liberals, all ages, races, and genders came together to fight for material needs:
housing. The neoliberal plan for Detroit has included turning homeowners into tenants. We
fight this.

Williams recognizes that his vision of a new society is “related to how the new society is
to be brought about. How can it be defended and sustain itself? How are disputes to be
settled? How do we prevent new tyrannies from arising? I think we have to say that we
don’t have answers to these questions. And I agree with Williams that “to translate our
ideals into reality requires a strategy. It will not be enough to rely on our ethical
sense and our desire for freedom.” (11-12) The need for a strategy to prevent the
reemergence of capitalism is precisely why a revolutionary anarchist organization is
necessary. To set out from the beginning our commitment to going all the way to defeat
capitalism. We must have confidence that in the course of struggle, people will learn and
develop skills that will enable them to define a new way of living that promotes a new
culture.

In his second essay, “Whither Anarchism?,” Williams focuses on the history of anarchism in
the United States in the 20thcentury, observing that “What was once a mass movement based
mainly in working-class immigrant communities is now an archipelago of subcultural scenes
inhabited largely by disaffected young people from the declining middle class.” (13)
Williams uses Andrew Cornell’s Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century
and Spencer Sunshine’s dissertation, “Post-1960 U.S. Anarchism and Social Theory,” as
guides to his discussion of how this change occurred.

Williams points out that “American anarchism . . . saw itself as a movement of the working
class, fighting for the liberation of humanity from capitalism and the state, and it
presented the labor union as the means by which workers could both overturn capitalism and
organize the future society.” He stresses that the Wobblies, the Industrial Workers of the
World (IWW), were the primary organization pushing this agenda in the early 20thcentury,
“But the Red Scare of 1917-1920 all but destroyed the IWW, and with it the movement.” What
this resulted in was

“What remained of syndicalism was occupied primarily with legal defense, and other
anarchists came to focus more on education and creating counter institutions, rather than
mass organizing. Hence, anarchists were on the sidelines during the upheavals of the
1930s. Then, during the Second World War, the remaining movement split over the question
of militarism, with pacifism becoming the dominant strain. At the same time, increasingly
much of anarchist activity was in the cultural sphere, and the movement became wedded to
the emerging counterculture.”

All of this resulted in the type of anarchism all-too-familiar today, with, as Williams
quotes Andy Cornell observing “[R]eadings, performances, and exclusive parties (having)
moved to the center of anarchist praxis.” (14) Williams concludes by lamenting that
“Anarchists deserted the class war at precisely the moment that the largest number of
workers were clamoring to enlist in it.”(15)

This “desertion of the class war” was also the result of immigrants, primarily seeking to
be identified as “white,” establishing themselves on the upper levels of the working class
as skilled workers and in the lower rungs of the middle class, as educated professionals.
This represented an acceptance of capitalism and a value system that put themselves above,
and different from, other workers. The failure to demand that the whole class move forward
is an acceptance of the capitalist program of divide and rule, giving white workers
benefits and securities not allowed people of color who were also working class. Racism,
intertwined with the capitalist system, allowed the ruling class to co-opt sections of the
working class without protest by anarchists. The communists also accepted many ruling
class divisions and elitist practices, but they fought racism and valued that fight, even
while some of their pro-capitalist policies misled many struggles, primarily by supporting
pro-capitalist forces inside the movement (popular front support for politicians) and
limiting the struggle of the workers themselves (no strike pledges during WW2).

It was easier for the immigrant communities to fight for assimilation and cultural ease
than to maintain a struggle and identification with the entire working class, made up of
many different races and ethnicities. They gave up on their “all or none” motto, which led
to their defeat.

Unfortunately, Williams keeps his analysis to the US. As a result, he misses out on one of
the greatest bodies of anarchist work, the Spanish Civil War. Here, in the crucible of
struggle, we can learn from the situations faced by anarchists, what might work again, and
what are now obvious failings and mistakes. It is in struggle that we learn. We can and
should theorize, discuss, write. But to remove this process from the struggle itself and
from the people doing the actual work, is to miss the point of theory as well as to miss
the opportunity to test our theories in the real world.

Williams takes issue with the anarchist emphasis on prefiguration, which he identifies
originating with the influence of pacifism, which “locked the anarchist movement in a
particular ‘prefigurative’ orientation.”(15) Williams shows how this orientation has
limited our movement, resulting in an attempt “to compensate for our underdeveloped
politics with an overdeveloped moralism, and anarchists (becoming) preoccupied with the
minutiae of individual choice rather than organizing collective action.”(16)

The heart of prefiguration, in my mind, is that we can act as if we are free and thereby
become free. But Williams argues that:

“Freedom cannot simply be chosen, it must be created. Were we capable of behaving as we
would in a society without capitalism and the state, then there would be no need to
abolish either. Instead, it is only possible to act as free and equal beings under
conditions of freedom and equality; we cannot create those conditions simply by pretending
they exist” He therefore argues that an emphasis on prefiguration “turns our attention
away from the structural features of our society and toward the moral character of
individuals within the movement.” (16)

I agree with Williams. The anarchist scene is very much as he describes it, and “not on
the whole a place where sensible people would want to live.”(16) There is also almost a
fear of reaching out to working class communities – a desire to remain on the other side
of the professional desk – a willingness to do service for, but a reluctance to organize
with, working class communities, as equals in our common struggle. This is defended as
“being allies” or as “letting the ones affected lead” or “whites can only support people
of color, not put out counter ideas.” This is an approach that guarantees the separation
of the class, because it absolves one section (white) of taking responsibility for the
whole class. It also results in tokenizing people of color, and allows for a cult of
celebrity, with people being accepted and promoted as “leaders” without a constructive
dialogue and debate. We should counterpose a leadership of ideas so that leadership and
direction become collective endeavors.

Williams describes the movement of the 1970s by highlighting the radical pacifist Movement
for a New Society, noting its activity in anti-war, environmental, and anti-nuclear work,
brought “an explicitly anti-racist, feminist, class-conscious perspective.” But, he observes,

“After a few decades of pacifist-anarchist cross-pollination. . .we are left with the
structure and culture of the pacifist movement without its commitment to nonviolence . . .
There is an ethos common to all surviving brands of anarchism . . . It consists of a
prefigurative insistence on modeling in our lives and our communities the values and
practices of the society we wish to create; a ritualized emphasis on ‘direct action’
tactics . . . a strong affinity for . . . a specific subculture or counterculture, and a
tendency to view ourselves as outside of and apart from society as a whole.” (17-18)

While this all may be true, this discussion excludes Black anarchists, who cut their teeth
in the Black freedom movement, women and gay anarchists who fought for their right to be
open and self-defined, Latinx anarchists who fought for their right to stolen land, etc.
all within movements of that same period – the 1970s-that are largely ignored by white
anarchists. So who gets to call themselves an anarchist and claim traditions?

Williams continues, using Sunshine’s dissertation, to examine the course of anarchist
thought, with Sunshine complaining that: “Anarchist theory has become detached from its
foundations in Classical Anarchism and instead has increasingly relied on ideas borrowed
from other traditions, re-oriented toward anti-state conclusions. Anarchists fostered
cooperation with other radicals, and even liberals, where it was possible to find common
ground.” This ran parallel with the phenomenon of action taking “precedence over
ideology.” Williams sees all this resulting in this “formalist
anarchism-as-practice-not-theory approach (reaching) its logical conclusion in the 2011
Occupy movement. There the focus on how activists do things completely eclipsed any
consideration of what they were doing or why . . . with no coherent strategy or even
agreed-upon aims.” (20-21)

After a discussion of the larger changes within anarchism and the world, Williams notes
that “Anarchists stopped thinking of themselves as a social force potentially capable of
organizing millions of people, destroying the existing power structure, and reconstituting
society. The anarchist vision shrank, from the One Big Union and the General Strike, to
the affinity group and the poetry reading.”(23)

Despite all this, Williams looks to the future. He believes “current attempts to create
broad, public, formal anarchist organizations,” such as the Black Rose Anarchist
Federation/Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra, and the May First Anarchist Alliance, are a
“hopeful sign,” because they “represent efforts to raise anarchism up from the
underground, to break it out of its subcultural confines, and to engage again with the
public at large without the mediating filter of the black mask.” While encouraged by the
formation and work of these organizations, he cautions that, “while new organizations may
be needed, they are clearly not all that is needed. For they will inevitably have to
answer in practice the exact questions that anarchism has been evading with its peculiarly
patchwork approach to theory. Capitalism, the state, social stratification, and the left
have all changed – and both our theories and our movements need to address themselves to
those changes.” (24-25)

For this task, Williams thinks the “place any new anarchist theory should start is with
re-centering the old ideals of freedom and equality.” (25) He recognizes that “the very
attempt at reformulation would demand a fundamental shift in anarchism as it is presently
conceived, as essentially a philosophy of refusal. The negative formulation of anarchism
is responsible for a lot of our present theoretical underdevelopment.” (26) Williams
concludes his second essay with the warning that “Without substantive changes within
anarchism, it will never produce another revolution, much less a new society.”(32)

In his final essay, “Conclusion: Revolutions, Scientific and Otherwise,” Williams outlines
the scientific method of Thomas Kuhn, which takes account of evidence and incorporates
anomalies into a coherent system. In contrast to the method of Kuhn, Williams writes,
anarchists are prone to

“simply ignoring the evidence that does not fit.”(33)He describes our current movement as
having “entered a phase that Kuhn did not describe, in which one paradigm has collapsed,
but no new paradigm has replaced it. All that remains are propositions and platitudes,
lacking any unifying structure, common premises, shared vocabulary, or agreed-upon
methodology. What once promised to become a coherent philosophy capable of inspiring
individuals, guiding a broad movement, and restructuring society, has become instead a
collection of unsorted half-remembered, often borrowed axioms and arcane cultural
practices delineating a self-limiting in-group.”(33-35)Williams’ main point is “that we
must reinvigorate our tradition, beginning with a careful and demanding examination of our
own premises.”(35)

Williams thinks that “the revolution in anarchist thought will emerge, if at all, from a
loose association of politically engaged scholars in sustained dialogue, building on one
another’s theories, challenging each other’s ideas, considering questions and addressing
problems that sometimes overlap and sometimes dovetail.” To do this, “what we need is an
intellectual community, joined together not by points of common doctrine, but by a shared
commitment to developing and refining our thinking.”(36) But this is

“almost the opposite of the political culture that we inhabit. The culture that we
actually have is one characterized by norms borrowed from fundamentalism: the tendency to
assume conclusions at the outset, to disregard contrary evidence, to refuse to consider
competing views, to cast all those who disagree as mortal enemies, to transmute every
issue into a test of virtue, to ignore all nuance and flatten all complexity and deny even
the possibility of doubt. This approach is limiting in innumerable ways. It prevents us
from hearing each other, from taking in new information, from challenging ourselves, from
learning. We can still cast aspersions, dismissively sneer, talk past one another, or
prejudge arguments without considering them. But we have lost the ability to properly
disagree. Nearly every political discussion begins and ends as an exercise in cementing or
policing group loyalties.”(36)

Williams continues, “It is not enough to develop the ideas, we need also to develop the
thinkers who are ready for the ideas . . . We have to create the structures that will
enable us to re-learn the necessary intellectual skills and to circulate, scrutinize, and
refine our theories about the world . . . such intellectual work is part of how political
agency is formed, common interests discovered, and solidarity built.” (37)

Williams ends by asserting that “if anarchism is to thrive, either as a political force or
as a body of thought, we will first need to take on the arduous task of creating the
circumstances under which honesty is possible, and decency expected, and critical thinking
part of the common work of the movement.” (40)

I like that Williams is advocating for the opening of discussion, and recentering our
primary values, and defining them. We are for freedom; we mean this to be for all people,
without exception. We are for equality as human beings. Each of us deserves respect, to be
treated fairly. We are against authoritarianism: bosses, masters, supervisors. None of
this is possible under capitalism; we can attempt to treat each other rightly, but there
are many structural indignities and unfairness, including the ones we have internalized.

But I part with Williams in that I don’t think we can leave this intellectual work only to
“scholars,” unless we are clearly stating that working-class people can be included in
this category of intellectuals and thinkers. Our society has limited this category of
thinkers to the middle class and has not allowed working class people the time, energy or
support to fully participate. As a result, the people most affected are not the ones whose
ideas are accepted. Middle-class scholars are eager to substitute themselves for the
working class. I am not against academics and those who make their livelihood within the
realm of learning and teaching, however, I do think they need to be clear on the class
basis from which they see the world. Theory will be developed by discussion, as Williams
outlines, but who is doing this theorizing? If it is not working-class people engaged in
working class struggle, it remains the province of an elitist middle class seeking, as
always, to control, speak for, represent, and substitute themselves for the working class.

A leadership of ideas, rather than a leadership of cult celebrities, can cut through a lot
of the pretension of the current anarchist movement, as described so aptly by Williams.
However, we need people who are committed to organizing for these ideas, taking
responsibility within the movements of which we are a part. In fact, this is a part of how
we test our ideas against reality, refining our understanding of splits and differences
within the capitalist class, evaluating which existing pressure points are to our
advantage, etc.

Because of racism and ongoing segregation, white anarchists in the US often don’t look at
people of color. They talk about themselves and each other as if their experience is
universal. People of color, in turn, are themselves tokenized and their experiences
discounted. This has led to a segregation of the movement which will doom us to defeat if
it is not corrected. Fascists in the US include the Klan. They have terrorized African
Americans through mob action, lynching, rape, murder, stealing businesses and homes,
running them out of public space, with calling the police on them only being the current
iteration. Yet when anarchists come out against fascists, as Antifa, they don’t even talk
about this history. They talk about Nazi Germany and Europe. When Mark Bray wrote Antifa:
The Anti-Fascist Handbook, he didn’t say anything about people who fought the Klan. He
presented a very Eurocentric view of fascism. Why don’t we identify fascism in this
country and fight it? Why don’t we join with African Americans who are fighting the Klan,
and the police, and develop an understanding that this is the same struggle?

A final point of difference I have with Williams is that I don’t think revolution is a
slow chipping away at power. I think a revolutionary upsurge must take power away from the
bourgeoisie, and smash that power, do away with it: root and branch. This is violent, and
it must go all the way. Any small hesitation will allow the reaction to overpower our
forces and turn back our attempts to take power. History shows us, from the days of
Versailles, that the streets will run with our blood if we neglect this.

Anarchism needs to be pulled back to its working-class roots, to its involvement in
material struggles, to its direct condemnation of all attacks on the entire, international
working class and all of its most vulnerable sections. Capitalism must be identified as
the systemic cause of the violence, oppression, lack of freedom and equality experienced
by all people. When this system is abolished, by the direct action of the working class of
the world, we will have begun to lay a basis for true freedom and a possibility of living
our lives as we freely choose.

Whither Anarchism? is available from AK Press

Born in 1950 to a Jewish Communist family, Miriam grew up in Compton, California. She was
active in the movements for civil rights, against the Vietnam war, and in support of the
Black Panthers and all the various efforts to develop a revolutionary alternative to the
system. She started working at General Motors in 1976 in Detroit, and was active inside
the plant, as part of the Revolutionary Autoworker caucus and as an active member of UAW
Local 909. She retired in 2007, but joined the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, in
particular the Direct Action Group, where she first met anarchists, joining the First of
May Anarchist Alliance in 2012. Her main activity now, in addition to May First, is with
the Detroit Eviction Defense group and with the Solidarity and Defense organization.

An Anarchism of the Working-Class: A Review of Whither Anarchism?

What Can I Do About Climate Change?

Jue, 09/06/2018 - 04:44

By Bill Mckibben

People ask me all the time: ‘what can I do to fight climate change?’ And it’s a great question, because the problem seems so big, and we seem so small, that it’s hard to imagine there’s anything we could do.

For years, environmental groups focused on individual actions: new light bulbs, different kinds of cars. Those sort of changes are useful: the roof of my house is covered with solar panels, and I can plug my car into them.

I’m glad about that–it’s environmentally sound, and it saves me money. But I try not to fool myself into thinking that’s really how we’ll solve global warming. Because by this point, with the ice caps melting, we can’t make the math of climate change work one person at a time.

Instead, the biggest thing an individual can do is become…a little less of an individual.

Join together with others to form the kind of movements that can push for changes big enough to matter. Those changes fall into three broad categories.

100% Renewable Energy

One is to push for 100% renewable energy in every town and city–and it’s a push that’s really working. Diverse cities from Atlanta to San Diego, from Salt Lake City to Portland, have all announced that they’re going to go fully renewable. In fact, when the president pulled America out of the Paris climate accords, he said it was because he’d been ‘elected to govern Pittsburgh, not Paris.’ That afternoon the mayor of Pittsburgh announced that his city was going 100% renewable.

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How the Ongoing Prison Strike is Connected to the Labor Movement

Jue, 09/06/2018 - 00:13

via Teen Vogue

by Kim Kellly

It’s a tough time to be a worker in America. The Trump administration has slashed important workplace safety regulations to ribbons; the economic gap between the poor and working classes and the 1% continues to widen at an alarming rate; poverty remains rampant; and overall, union membership, which affords protection to workers throughout the country, hovered around only 11% for 2017. Headlines alleging worker exploitation at Silicon Valley giants like Amazon, Tesla, and Uber bombard our screens; even “progressive” media organizations swept up in the digital media organizing wave are struggling, as BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti has repeatedly spoken out against unionizing, while Slate and Thrillist employees who have unionized have accused the companies of using anti-union tactics and stalling the process. And the most vulnerable worker populations—sex workers, immigrants, and undocumented people—face increased repression from the government.

There is hope, though. For centuries, a worker’s most potent weapon against exploitation from capitalism and oppression from the powers that be has been direct action: the strike. And right now, America’s prisoners are on strike. Incarcerated workers across the nation are standing up to protest their inhumane living conditions and buck the horrific yoke of prison slavery with organized labor’s strongest weapons—solidarity and collective action.

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Don’t despair – climate change catastrophe can still be averted

Sáb, 08/11/2018 - 18:54

via The Guardian

his is the summer when, for many, climate change got real. The future looks fiery and dangerous. Hot on the heels of Trump, fake news and the parlous state of the Brexit negotiations, despair is in the air. Now a new scientific report makes the case that even fairly modest future carbon dioxide emissions could set off a cascade of catastrophe, with melting permafrost releasing methane to ratchet up global temperatures enough to drive much of the Amazon to die off, and so on in a chain reaction around the world that pushes Earth into a terrifying new hothouse state from which there is no return. Civilisation as we know it would surely not survive. How do we deal with such news?

As a research scientist in this field, I can give some nuance to the headlines. One common way of thinking about climate change is the lower the future carbon dioxide emissions, the less warming and the less havoc we will face as this century progresses. This is certainly true, but as the summer heatwave and the potential hothouse news remind us, the shifts in climate we will experience will not be smooth, gradual and linear changes. They may be fast, abrupt, and dangerous surprises may happen. However, an unstoppable globally enveloping cascade of catastrophe, while possible, is certainly not a probable outcome.

Yet, even without a hothouse we are on track to transform Earth this century. The world, after 30 years of warnings, has barely got to grips with reducing carbon dioxide emissions. They need to rapidly decline to zero, but after decades of increases, are, at best, flatlining, with investments in extracting new fossil fuels continuing, including last month’s scandalous announcement that fracking will be allowed in the UK. Temperatures have increased just 1C above preindustrial levels, and we are on course for another 2C or 3C on top of that. Could civilisation weather this level of warming?

The honest answer is nobody knows. Dystopia is easy to envisage: for example, Europe is not coping well with even modest numbers of migrants, and future flows look likely to increase substantially as migration itself is an adaptation to rapid climate change. How will the cooler, richer parts of the world react to tens of millions of people escaping the hotter, poorer parts? Throw into the mix long-term stagnating incomes for most people across the west and climate-induced crop failures causing massive food price spikes and we have a recipe for widespread unrest that could overload political institutions.

It is then easy to see these intersecting crises dovetailing with calls from the new far-right populists for strong authoritarian leaders to solve these problems. Inward-looking nationalists could then move further away from the internationalism needed to ensure the continuation of stable global food supplies and to manage migration humanely. And without cooperative internationalism serious carbon dioxide mitigation will not happen, meaning the underling drivers of the problems will exacerbate, leading to a lock-in of a deteriorating, isolationist, fascist future.

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