America Needs a Network of Rebel Cities to Stand Up to Trump | Kate Shea Baird and Steve Hughes
Analysis | December 7th, 2016
cities can be more than just a last line of defense against the worst excesses of an authoritarian central government; they have huge, positive potential as spaces from which to radicalize democracy and build alternatives to the neoliberal economic model. The urgent questions that progressive activists in the States are now asking themselves are, not just how to fight back against Trump, but also how to harness the momentum of Bernie Sanders' primary run to fight for the change he promised. As we consider potential strategies going forward, a look at the global context suggests that local politics may be the best place to start.
Fight Back or Go Under: A Modern, Working-Class Call to Action | William T. Hathaway
Commentary | December 7th, 2016
The presidency of Donald Trump is going to be a slap in the face of American workers that will wake us up to the reality of social class. Big T's pedal-to-the-metal policies will show us clearly that we are one class, the ruling elite are another class, and our interests are diametrically opposed. Our declining standard of living is essential for maintaining their wealth, and they will do whatever is necessary to continue that. They will jail us, deport us, kill us, anything to crush resistance. But in the long term they won't succeed. Why not? Because we, the working people of the United States of America, are stronger than the ruling elite. We are the 99%. Everyone who has to work for someone else for the essentials of living is working class, but many of us have been indoctrinated to emulate and admire the owners. They are a small, parasitical class that has stolen our labor for hundreds of years. The wage slavery they impose saps and undermines our lives, our energies, our futures, even our sense of ourselves. They are truly our enemies.
Teaching On Our Knees | #TeachingOnOurKnees Campaign
Commentary | October 10th, 2016
Beginning on September 1st, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken a knee during the playing of the National Anthem and, ever since, an increasing number of athletes across the country have joined him. Regarding his actions, Kaepernick has stated, "I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed...This is because I'm seeing things happen to people that don't have a voice, people that don't have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change...To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way." We choose this day, the birthday of legendary Civil Rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, to invite all university educators to "take a knee" in solidarity with Kaepernick and others who have chosen not to "look the other way" and confront violence and oppression.
Ambivalence in the Next Left | David I. Backer
Commentary | September 29th, 2016
As the end of history ends and neoliberalism shakes its last convulsions before dying completely, the strategy of building a stronger political organization is emerging across groups on the Left in the United States. The Democratic Socialists of America wants a party (lower case p), Freedom Road wants a movement, Solidarity is with the DSA, Socialist Alternative wants a Party (upper case P), and the Stansbury Forum has endorsed an ambiguous mixture of these options. They are all versions of a strategy in thinking about how to capture the energy of Bernie Sanders's presidential primary campaign (who himself is launching a 501(c)4 Our Revolution for similar purposes). The Green Party is posturing ambiguously as just the kind of organization to do all this. In general, the Next Left wants some kind of structure and organization (party, Party, movement, or campaign offshoot).
White Workers Resisting Capitalism and White Supremacy: An Interview with RedNeck Revolt | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Interview | July 28th, 2016
Redneck Revolt came out of the original work of the John Brown Gun Club, a working group of the Kansas Mutual Aid Collective based out of Lawrence, Kansas from 2002-2008. The John Brown Gun Club focused on attempting to simultaneously grow a militant and armed culture within already existing liberatory and revolutionary movements, and attempting to stem the tide of right wing reactionary recruitment within white working class communities. Our work had two main focuses then: providing armed community and tactical defense trainings to build the capacity of our movements and demystify the firearm, and to be present at social and economic gatherings of white working people where groups like the Klan, Minutemen, and white reactionary militias recruited.
Violence, Counter-Violence, and the Question of the Gun | Devon Douglas-Bowers and Colin Jenkins
Analysis | July 26th, 2016
Violence and politics are historically intertwined, so much so that the definition of the state is "a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory." Due to this monopoly of violence, the state is able to put restrictions on what kinds of weapons people can have, and if they can have any at all. Because of the state's monopoly on the use of violence, which is directed at citizens of that state whenever deemed necessary, the issue of "gun control" is rather peculiar. It is also fairly unique to the United States, a country that was born at the hands of the gun, and a country that has been largely shaped by the degrees of "liberty" reflected in gun ownership among the populace. In modern society, gun control seems like a common-sense measure as it is quite obvious to many that people shouldn't have the right to possess tanks, Javelins, Scuds, nuclear weapons, and other military-grade weaponry. However, as technology in weaponry increases, so too does the power of the state in its monopoly of violence.
Our Enigma and Its Solution: An Ideological Criticism of the Student Body at Spokane Community College | Christopher Martin
Theory | July 12th, 2016
Nearly everyone wants to become a complete person without any lacks. If a person psychologically develops smoothly and does not experience mental disturbances, then all the better. This goal is achieved and that person becomes a whole individual, flourishing in life. The truth of the matter is no one develops through life without running into intra- or inter-personal conflicts. A conflict simply put is a contradiction in needs or values. Should these conflicts persist unresolved, they will impoverish the personality and pull us into the despair of life. To make matters worse, when a mass of people come together and exchange relations, the pathologies (i.e. mental, social, or linguistic abnormalities or malfunctions) individually, but unconsciously, experienced in social relations are reflected in the institutional procedures and its historical development. Unresolved conflicts in relationships perpetuate pathologies in social personalities.
Fuelling the Mob: Differences Between the London Riots and Ferguson | Kelly Beestone
Analysis | July 12th, 2016
For many in the United Kingdom, watching the news of the riots unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014, brought to mind images of the aftermath of Mark Duggan's death in London in 2011. In both cases, police officers responsible for the death of an unarmed black man were investigated and found guilty of no wrongdoing. In both cases too, the aftermath entailed widespread destruction of property, violence and a deepened distrust of police. Beneath the surface, however, there are significant differences between the rioting in England and the Ferguson unrest. Most significantly, the English working-class has maintained a greater ability to collectively confront police injustice due, at least in part, to the history of class-based political organization in England. This is in stark contrast to the American context where elites have attempted (with a great deal of success) to divide its working-class through racism.
Activism or Revolution?: Deciphering Modern Forms of Resistance | Kevin Bailey
Analysis | June 9th, 2016
Here in the United States, and the global North in general, there is a lack of clarity regarding activism and revolutionary activity, in fact one is often confused for the other. This is part and parcel of our post-modern condition in which every action, no matter how small, has the intrinsic property of being in and of itself a revolutionary act simply by rejecting dominant cultural narratives or withdrawing from participation in politics, for example. Lifestyle choices like veganism, ethical consumerism, buying fair-trade, or a simple rejection of politics in general, have become substitutes for a political line in many circles on the Left. A negation is thus inverted into a positive affirmation in which the mere act of verbal rejection, or non-participation, or withdrawal/retreat is treated as a substantive revolutionary act. Furthermore, what matters is one's membership to a micro-community, one's inward beliefs and values, and one's outward appearance and individual actions.
The Party's Over: Beyond Politics, Beyond Democracy | Crimethinc.
Theory | May 20th, 2016
Living under democratic rule teaches people to think in terms of quantity, to focus more on public opinion than on what their consciences tell them, to see themselves as powerless unless they are immersed in a mass. The root of majority-rule democracy is competition: competition to persuade everyone else to your position whether or not it is in their best interest, competition to constitute a majority to wield power before others outmaneuver you to do the same-and the losers (that is to say, the minorities) be damned. At the same time, majority rule forces those who wish for power to appeal to the lowest common denominator, precipitating a race to the bottom that rewards the most bland, superficial, and demagogic; under democracy, power itself comes to be associated with conformity rather than individuality.
Understanding Anti-Communism and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat | Curry Malott
Analysis | April 13th, 2016
As the popularity of the idea of socialism surges in the U.S., especially among the younger generations and within the most oppressed communities, such as African American communities, and as the number of 18 to 35 year olds who identify as working class continues to climb, now at nearly 57%, the time is perhaps right for exploring why anti-communism has dominated not only US dominant society, but the Left as well. While it should be expected that bourgeois society would be dominated by anti-communism, it is more troubling to consider the rampant anti-communism of the Left. Anti-communist rhetoric has dominated progressive educational circles in the U.S. since at least the 1930s and 1940s when George Counts (1947) juxtaposed the U.S. as a "liberal democracy" on one hand, and the Soviet Union as "authoritarian communism" on the other.
Che Guevara's Foquismo in Theory and Praxis | Grant Forssberg
Analysis | March 16th, 2016
History functions as the praxis of social scientific theory; empirical evidence of a theoretical postulate affirms its validity, while its absence serves as a quintessential foil. Perhaps no better example of this axiom exists than the development of a diverse philosophical school of 'Neo-Marxists' during the 20th century. Troubled by social and economic problems that conflicted with, or were seemingly unanswerable according to traditional Marxist thought, particularly the delay of socialist revolution when conditions seemed to favor it's foment, the resurgence of past national identities at the expense of ideological solidarity between socialist states, and the revolutionary regression towards fascism before and during the Second World War, scholars like Herbert Marcuse, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Antonio Gramsci adapted past Marxist/Leninist interpretations to recognize of the complexities of social, cultural, and political conditions.
The Experience of Co-operative Societies in Rojava | The Movement for a Democratic Society
Analysis | February 15th, 2016
The economy in Western Kurdistan (Rojava) has been exposed to plunder and exploitation on a large scale by the Syrian state, which controlled the country's entire resources, rendering the community powerless. This policy was not only economic, but also social as well and led to the division of society in Rojava, which has always had a tremendous community spirit and culture. Accordingly, the culture of participation, teamwork and mutual confidence has declined in the past 10 years. Rojava is still a war zone and under siege, making its market outside the society's control. There is a lot of political, societal, economic and infrastructure destruction in Rojava.
A Long-War Strategy for the Left | William T. Hathaway
Commentary | February 2nd, 2016
As the viciousness of capitalism engulfs ever more of us, our yearnings for change are approaching desperation. The system's current leader, Barack Obama, has shown us that the only change we can believe in is what we ourselves create. To do that, we need to know what is possible in our times and what isn't. The bitter probability is that none of us will see a society in which we'd actually want to live. Even the youngest of us will most likely have to endure an increasingly unpleasant form of capitalism. Despite its recurring crises, this system is still too strong, too adaptable, and has too many supporters in all classes for it to be overthrown any time soon. We're probably not going to be the ones to create a new society.
Toward an Anti-Fascist Analysis of the Malheur Rebellion | Alexander Reid Ross
Commentary | January 18th, 2016
The Malheur Rebellion took overnight control of all screen time throughout social media, and conversations about it quickly became pervasive. I felt compelled to go to the site and try to gain some perspective. I contacted Ben Jones, and we decided to go down together to get a sense of the people involved in the occupation to learn how to further organize against them. Although we were only in Burns for something like two days, taking only one trip to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, we spoke to a number of people, both community members and militiamen, and got a better feeling for how to approach the ridiculous and horrific scene.
Hypocrisy, Brutality, and the Elite: On the Fate of Working-Class Struggle from the Gracchi to Occupy | Dr. Nicholas Partyka
History | January 11th, 2016
Throughout history elites have always been of two minds about political violence, that is, held a double-standard about it vis-à-vis the masses. While on the one hand, elites have always eschewed, and in the strongest terms, the use of force against what they perceive to be their interests, by those they oppress. On the other hand, elites have seemed never to be terribly shy about applying terrible violence in order to secure their political and economic objectives. Whether in the ancient world, or in the modern one, elites maintain a special hypocrisy about political violence, and its role in upholding their position.
Left Behind: Why Marxists Need Anarchists, and Vice Versa (A Book Review of Andrew Cornell's 'Unruly Equality: US Anarchism in the Twentieth Century') | Malcolm Harris
Book Review | January 11th, 2016
In an 1875 letter to German socialist politician August Bebel, Friedrich Engels complained - on behalf of himself and Karl Marx - about being teased by anarchists. Bebel's Social Democratic Workers' Party was merging with the General German Workers' Association, the latter of which advocated a parliamentary road to socialism rather than a revolutionary one. When the unified party forwarded their draft platform, Engels and Marx were embarrassed. They wanted to be clear about their theoretical position in this especially high-stakes situation. Germany was integral to international communist strategy, and if a unified front got off on the wrong foot it could have had catastrophic consequences for the movement. "Remember that abroad we [he and Marx] are held responsible for any and every statement and action of the German Social-Democratic Workers' Party," Engels writes to Bebel. "The people's state has been flung in our teeth ad nauseam by the anarchists."
Palestinian Anarchists in Conversation: Recalibrating Anarchism in a Colonized Country | Joshua Stephens
Commentary | December 7th, 2015
"I'm honestly still trying to kick the nationalist habit," jokes activist Ahmad Nimer, as we talk outside a Ramallah cafe. Our topic of conversation seems an unlikely one: living as an anarchist in Palestine. "In a colonized country, it's quite difficult to convince people of non-authoritarian, non-state solutions. You encounter, pretty much, a strictly anticolonial - often narrowly nationalist - mentality," laments Nimer. Indeed, anarchists in Palestine currently have a visibility problem. Despite high-profile international and Israeli anarchist activity, there doesn't seem to be a matching awareness of anarchism among many Palestinians themselves.
Migration and the Far Right: An Interview with German Antifascists on Heidenau
Interview | November 24th, 2015
On Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd of August, Germany was shocked to once again witness scenes of large scale rioting against a refugee centre within its borders. The grainy images shot in Heidenau, a small town near to Dresden in the eastern state of Saxony, would seem distressingly familiar for many Germans - echoing a spate of attacks which followed re-unification in 1990. Outbursts of organized racism were thought to be yet another difficult chapter in Germany's history, but now firmly in the past. Yet the attack in Heidenau was not an anomaly, an echo of history, in a Germany keen to present itself as tolerant and forward thinking, but rather the latest, and most prominent moment in a series of nationalist and racist actions which has been intensifying in recent years.
Masking Oppression as Free Speech: An Anarchist Take | Tariq Khan
Commentary | November 10th, 2015
Out of necessity as much as out of conviction, anarchists in the United States have long been champions of the right to freely express uncomfortable and controversial ideas. At the same time, while championing the right to express unconventional ideas, anarchists have not allowed a liberal notion of free speech as an excuse to sit idly by while fascists spew hate speech. The Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durruti - who died while serving in an anti-fascist militia in the 1930s - famously said, "Fascism is not to be debated, it is to be destroyed." This reflects a sensibility that not all ideas are merely "points of view" that deserve respect or space. There is a difference between speech that is "offensive" and speech that is "oppressive." For example, during the Jim Crow era in US history; newspaper articles, songs, books, plays, political cartoons, and speeches that characterized Black men as hypersexual and violent beasts were far more than merely offensive. Such expressions reinforced and perpetuated a violent white supremacist system, justifying and fueling legal oppression such as Jim Crow laws and extralegal oppression such as lynching.
The Virtual Colosseum: Overcoming Social Media's Dark Side | Frank Castro
Commentary | October 22nd, 2015
At its height, the Roman Colosseum could hold some 50,000 spectators, truly a feat for its era. Even now, millennia after its prime, in a world of mountainous skyscrapers and sprawling stadiums, it remains a sight to behold. But just beyond its billowing arches and columns rests a nasty reminder of human cruelty: an arena atop a sea of imprisoned, sweat-soaked bodies, cut through with blood-rivers of men killing each other for the sound of applause. This is where, for centuries, Romans held gladiatorial games, death matches between competing slaves, so-called criminals, and, at times, 'exotic' wild animals. In the arena, murder became socially acceptable sport. It became entertainment.
Retracing Toledo's Radical History | Derek Ide
History | September 21st, 2015
It is not difficult to sense the alienation and demoralization that impinges upon so many people as they drive through the streets of Toledo, Ohio. These are streets that were constructed to be driven on and nothing else. Unlike many of the cities in Europe, or even some in the United States, it is not a walkable city. The haphazard urban planning, or lack thereof, and the complete lack of any public transit system, with the exception of TARTA buses and private cabs, combine to make Toledo more than inhospitable to those without their own private vehicle. Those who can afford it have spent the past five decades fleeing to outlying suburbs, and those who cannot remain trapped within the confines of a "Little Detroit" which, after the 1970s, has witnessed the gutting of its manufacturing base. Since 2000, Toledo area poverty has risen faster than any other U.S. city.
What the Climate Movement Can Learn From 'Black Lives Matter' | Lorenzo Raymond
Analysis | September 4th, 2015
As the Shell Oil ship Fennica sailed out of Portland on July 31 to begin its drilling mission in the Arctic, many of those watching on the shore wept. One crestfallen witness explained that although Greenpeace protesters had delayed the ship for over a day, that was "a drop in the bucket" compared with what was needed to discourage the drilling. The veteran activist wrote that the delusional "sense of self-congratulations, as if a victory had been won," which many environmentalists held, only compounded his sorrow; this culture of denial had been fostered by Greenpeace and other mainstream activist groups, whose view of their campaigns, regardless of outcome, invariably amounted to an attitude of "rah rah us, and lacked serious analysis of tactics or ends." Lest anyone think this was overly pessimistic, when Fennica reached its destination, Shell was not only unfazed by the protest, they were bold enough to ask the Department of Interior for rights to drill even deeper in the Arctic than previously requested.
Reclaiming the Community: A People's Project for Self-Determination | Mychal Odom
Commentary | August 27th, 2015
San Diego, California is home to a unique grassroots project called Reclaiming the Community (RTC). This project exemplifies what was once called operational unity, comprising community activists and artists in San Diego from a variety of political positions, races and ethnicities, religious orientations, and, importantly, gang affiliations. The underlying goal of all liberation movements has been what many people call "self-determination." Self-determination in the most fundamental sense is defined as the right of members of a group to govern themselves and choose their own destiny. In the long history of liberation movements for African Americans and other people of color in the United States, this notion of self-determination has been translated to another highly important term, "community control." People from San Diego to Selma, Alabama have long understood that global change mandates robust progressive action at the local level.
Listen, Platformist!: Fragments of a Twenty-First Century Manifesto | Shane Burley
Analysis | August 19th, 2015
These old libertarian socialist maxims have become so cliché that they can be an indicative street sign indicating for you to take a detour around whatever post-left jargon that comes next, but we can try to delve a little deeper. Many people dove into the Occupy Movement with the kind of fervor that can only happen when your politics are validated in an incredibly clear and material way. The financial crisis of 2008, and the subsequent housing crisis in 2010, was felt so personally amongst an entire range of people that the waves of deregulated capitalism are splashing hard enough to stop us from finding our heads above water. We were treated to a second collapse when our response, the diversified and shockingly quick faces of Occupy, also crumbled in a pretty predictable fashion. A movement built on anarchist principles and vision fell apart for lack of cohesive structure, as well as a media betrayal and enough liberal guilt to go around.
Anti-Racist Rednecks with Guns: An Interview With Dave Strano | Dave Onion
Interview | July 24th, 2015
Following the election of Barack Obama, many folks involved with a spectrum of different anti-racist work were left dumbfounded by the rise of the aggressive and often explicitly racist, white, Tea Party movement. Though the Tea Party Movement had been funded in the millions, enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of Fox News, and was being manipulated by powerful forces on the Right, it was also clear that the Right was comfortably engaging with a sector of the North American working class largely abandoned by the broader Left. In the throes of economic crisis, many formerly enfranchised whites were looking at serious setbacks. In response, the Left, for the most part, smugly responded by dismissing the crazy tea baggers while white supremacists and conservatives moved in to largely uncontested territory. In looking for exceptions, I decided to check out the John Brown Gun Club, a group of white, working-class anarchists who, before the emergence of the Tea Party movement, had been sowing class struggle and anti-racist solidarity amongst mostly white gun enthusiasts in Kansas. Here, Dave Onion interviews long time anti-racist gun slinger, Dave Strano.
Identity, Inc.: Liberal Multiculturalism and the Political Economy of Identity Politics | Jacob Ertel
Analysis | June 30th, 2015
The Left in the United States is at a critical juncture. Then again, it has been for roughly the past 35 years. With the onset of neoliberalism and the dissolution of the class-based politics of the 1960s and 1970s, a new political framework has emerged typified by the politicization of identity. It is this discourse that has prevailed on the Left since the early 1980s, always in tension with popular currents Marxian critique but oft posited as the sole truly radical theory and practice. To be sure, identity politics comes with indisputable benefits, including the reclaiming and centering of historical narratives and a more nuanced understanding of interpersonal forms of aggression and abuse. At the same time, however, certain critical features of Marxian critique have taken a backseat to this framework, which largely abjures a substantive analysis of the material conditions central to capitalist social relations in lieu of the purported deconstruction of institutional norms.
Misunderstanding the Civil Rights Movement and Diversity of Tactics | Lorenzo Raymond
Analysis | June 9th, 2015
It's gotten to be a pattern on the Left. When Black protest erupts into insurrection, as it did in Ferguson and Baltimore, most liberals and white radicals express empathy for the cathartic release of anger, but urge the oppressed that this is not the way. This is "not strategic," says the leftist concern-troll. This is "what the police want." Most of the time they manage to stop short of asking "why are they burning down their own neighborhood?" - if only to be mindful of clichés - but some can't even help themselves there. In the aftermath,Amy Goodman (seemingly channeling Alex Jones) will spread conspiracy theories on how the government "orchestrated" the rioting. The respectability politics of nonviolence will return.
Juxtaposing Anarchy: From Chaos to Cause | Colin Jenkins
Analysis | May 5th, 2015
Anarchy is synonymous with chaos and disorder. It is a term that stands in direct contrast to the archetype of society we have become accustomed to: hierarchical, highly-structured, and authoritative. Because of this, it carries negative connotations. Merriam-Webster, the consensus source of meaning within the dominant paradigm, defines anarchy as: a situation of confusion and wild behavior in which the people in a country, group, organization, etc., are not controlled by rules or laws; or, a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority. The implications made in these definitions are clear - any absence of authority, structure, or control most surely amounts to confusion, wild behavior, and disorder. In other words, human beings are incapable of controlling themselves, maintaining order, and living peacefully amongst one another. So we are to believe.
We Shall Overcome: Activist Education, Political Movements and Semiocapitalism | Michael B. MacDonald
Analysis | March 5th, 2015
Contemporary capitalism is transforming public learning and if we are to develop practices to support healthier communities these transformations need to be theorized and historicized. An orthodox Marxist analysis of capitalism, because it does not deal with learning or cultural production, is not complex enough to explain the various ways capitalism is changing our lives. Henry Giroux has pointed to the various ways cultural studies has contributed to the study of the circulation of power in social learning he calls public pedagogy. This might be framed in the context of a wide variety of educational movements, dating back to the 19th century, loosely arranged under the name popular education that have struggled with the role and practices of learning as it intersects with politics.
Greece Is Taking Back Its Democracy; What About the United States? | Nozomi Hayase
Commentary | February 20th, 2015
Recently, Greece's radical leftist party Syriza claimed victory in their national election. The party vowed to break ties with the European Central bank and roll back the EU's neoliberal economic agenda. True to their word, they are already implementing some of those changes. From the birthplace of democracy, excitement is spreading across Europe and revitalizing the hope that real change may still be possible through the electoral arena. The news from Greece also energized progressive circles in America. For many, the question arises: Can this rebirth of democracy happen in the U.S.? After Obama's absolute betrayal of his promised "hope and change", the Occupy Movement began in lower Manhattan as a response to the rigged system that has been creating economic inequality approaching the level of feudalism. This was an awakening to a broken system of checks and balances and it pushed people outside of the electoral arena to find solutions to these problems. Yet, by 2012, with massive coordinated police brutality around the nation, the demise of Occupy became apparent and the movement lost momentum. Now it seems that the Greeks are doing what it appears Occupy intended to do and failed. What about Americans?
A Captured or Dead Assata wouldn't be to Silence Her: It Would be to Silence Us | Frank Castro
Commentary | January 7th, 2015
When it comes to "capturing" "terrorists" or America's political fugitives, the same litmus test applies: What makes less noise, a prisoner or a corpse? With the United States and Cuba resuming diplomatic ties, there has been a lot of speculation about what will happen to Assata Shakur, a 67 year old black liberationist and political fugitive. Almost immediately after President Obama announced resurrecting ties between the two nations, the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) started scheming to get their hands on her.
You, Me, and a Thousand Strangers: Logging Mass, Direct Action in Oakland after Ferguson | Jaime Omar Yassin
Commentary | December 31st, 2014
Over the years, especially in Oakland, critical periods of political resistance have taken on a pretty predictable character, with radicals, liberals, progressives, media and politicians all playing what seem to be ever more concretized roles. Protests are ignored until something is broken or a trashcan set alight, liberals cry over the shards and ash, politicians and their media denounce the "violence." Liberals and non-profits whitewash the protests as a Caucasian tantrum, out of sync with people of color and progressive organizing. These roles have existed for years for the simple reason that people have become used to them, and even proactive in assuming them. Entire odes have been written in the radical and anarchist zines and online listening posts as songs of glass and fire.
The Universal and the Particular: Chomsky, Foucault, and Post-New Left Political Discourse | Derek Ide
Theory | December 20th, 2014
Postmodern theory was a relatively recent intellectual phenomenon in 1971 when Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault sat down to discuss a wide range of topics, including the nature of justice, power, and intellectual inquiry. At one point Chomsky, who Peter Novick suggests as an example of left-wing empiricism in post-war academia, engages the concrete issue of social activism and invokes the notion of "justice," to which Foucault asks poignantly: "When, in the United States, you commit an illegal act, do you justify it in terms of justice or of a superior legality, or do you justify it by the necessity of the class struggle, which is at the present time essential for the proletariat in their struggle against the ruling class?" After a brief period he quickly reiterates the question again: "Are you committing this act in virtue of an ideal justice, or because the class struggle makes it useful and necessary?"
In Defense of Looting: Turning the White-Supremacist Narrative Upside Down | Willie Osterweil
Commentary | December 3rd, 2014
As protests in Ferguson continued unabated one week after the police killing of Michael Brown, Jr., zones of Twitter and the left media predominantly sympathetic to the protesters began angrily criticizing looters. Some claimed that white protesters were the ones doing all of the looting and property destruction, while others worried about the stereotypical and damaging media representation that would emerge. It also seems that there were as many protesters (if not more) in the streets of Ferguson working to prevent looting as there were people going about it. While I disagree with this tactic, I understand that they acted out of care for the struggle, and I want to honor all the brave and inspiring actions they've taken over the last weeks.
Reform to Revolution: The Ideological and Political Evolution of James Connolly | Eoin Higgins
History | November 13th, 2014
James Connolly is primarily remembered in Irish history as the Socialist revolutionary hero of the Rising of 1916, executed in Kilmainham Prison while strapped to a chair. Connolly's place in Irish history is far more than that, however. He was a proud Socialist, the founder of both the Irish Socialist Republican Party and the Labour Party, and the writer of the influential pamphlets Labour in Irish History and The Reconquest of Ireland. Connolly's political pragmatism in forming the Labour Party was the culmination of idealistic defeats that began with the dissolution of the ISRP in 1904. He believed that, in order to effectively challenge the hegemony of British imperial capitalism, he had to attempt to work within the capitalist political system to achieve his goals. The eventual challenge he posed to the system from within led to his own political repression at the hands of British imperialist forces.
Days of Darkness, Sparks of Hope: Examining Unlikely Political Alliances | Devon Douglas-Bowers
Analysis | October 17th, 2014
Currently in the United States, we live in an extremely polarized political sphere. People not only seek out news and op-eds that reinforce their own viewpoints, but also associate mainly with whose who align with them politically and viciously demonize 'the other side.' The situation has gotten to the point where people view the policies of the opposing party as a threat to the nation. Globally, it seems that the landscape is even worse with problems arising in the Ukraine, the West once again embroiled in a war in the Middle East, and the knowledge that we've already seen irreversible damage due to climate change and are getting ever-closer to the 2017 deadline where climate change will truly be permanent. These are dark days; however, there is room for optimism. Around the world, we have seen unlikely political alliances that are working to fight for a better future.
Elements of Resistance: Warriors of Peace | Jeriah Bowser
Publication | October 10th, 2014
There have always been individuals who have sought to understand the root cause of oppressive violence and injustice, and who have tried, some successfully and some not, to counteract the violence of their culture with a nonviolent and pacifist alternative. Three such individuals stand out in the past few centuries as great leaders of resistance movements: Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Each of these men and the struggles they led are commonly held up as examples of nonviolence at work. They are often brought up in conversations about nonviolent vs. violent tactics as proof that "Nonviolence works, right! I mean, India is independent, South Africa is no longer under Apartheid rule, and Black people in the US no longer have their own water fountains! How can you argue with that logic?"
Black Versus Yellow: Class Antagonism and Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement | Anonymous
Analysis | October 7th, 2014
Itinerant shoppers pose for selfies as the skyline of the finance district across the bay bursts into a kaleidoscope of green and yellow lights. Below them, the waters of Victoria Harbor stir quietly, foreboding a typhoon. Despite the churning water, the nearby cruise ship hardly seems to move. It is docked to the pier at Tsim Sha Tsui, its gangplank descending into one of the most luxurious shopping malls in East Asia, a convenience allowing wealthy visitors from all across the world the ability to disembark from one climate-controlled environment to another without ever leaving the safety of AC and well-trained security. Once off the ship, they can spend money tax-free at the city's most fashionable restaurants and retail outlets, eating Japanese BBQ and then gliding over polished floors to browse retro British outfits at a boutique marketing 20s-style colonial chic.
Revisiting Errico Malatesta: A Review of "The Method of Freedom" | Iain McKay
Book Review | September 4th, 2014
For those who do not know, Errico Malatesta (1853-1932) was one of anarchism's greatest activists and thinkers for over 60 years. He joined the First International in 1871 and became an anarchist after meeting Bakunin in 1872. He spent most of his life in exile from Italy, helping to build unions in Argentina in the late 1880s and taking an active part during the two Red Years after the war when Italy was on the verge of revolution (the authorities saw the threat and imprisoned him and other leading anarchists before a jury dismissed all charges). Playing a key role in numerous debates within the movement - on using elections, participation in the labour movement, the nature of social revolution, syndicalism and Platformism (to name just a few), he saw the rise and failure of the Second International, then the Third before spending the last years of his life under house arrest in Mussolini's Italy.
Instead of Asking Where is Palestinian Gandhi, Let us Stand with Palestinian Resistance | Frank Castro
Commentary | August 6th, 2014
On April 13, 1919, in violation of a British colonial ban on meetings or gatherings, peaceful protestors assembled in Punjab, India to object to the killing of nearly 30 Indians in a previous protest. Unprovoked and without warning, colonial forces arrived and opened fire on tens of thousands of unarmed, defenseless Indians, mostly Sikhs, indiscriminately killing 379 men, women, and children. An estimated 1,200 were wounded. The onslaught known today as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, or the Amritsar massacre to Punjabi natives, is said to have lasted 20 minutes. Yet, despite its brevity, for the move to action it spurred throughout colonial India, it remains a seminal event in the fight for Indian independence. One man, 12-year- old Bhagat Singh, was especially moved. The massacre planted in Singh's young mind a longing for the freedom of his people that would propel him forward by any means necessary.
From 'God's Wrath' to 'Protective Edge': Israel's Four-Decade-Long Assault on Palestine | Derek Ide
Commentary | July 16th, 2014
In Beirut on July 8, 1972, thirty-six year old Ghassan Kanafani entered into his Volkswagen for the last time. The prolific writer and editor of Al Hadaf ("The Goal") was headed to the newspaper's office. His seventeen year old niece Lamis Najm was with him. Not long before, he had penned these words to her:
"Dearest: You are rising now, while we start to fall. Our role is almost complete. The role of this generation was the shortest for any generation in history. We live in crucial times for the history of humanity and people are divided between participants and spectators… The battle is harsh and human capacity cannot tolerate this much. I, young one, chose not to be a spectator. It means that I chose to live the crucial moments of our history, no matter how short…"
It was around 11 a.m. that Saturday when the explosion occurred, judging from the watch later found on what remained of Lamis' hand. Kanafani was a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the heart of the left-wing secular opposition to Israel. He was a noncombatant, and although pictures of Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara adorned his office, he never personally picked up a gun against his Zionist enemies, despite having every right to resist to the ongoing occupation by whatever means necessary. Yet, he still became a victim of Israeli terror.