“Murder is our national sport. We murder tens of thousands with our industrial killing machines in Afghanistan and Iraq. We murder thousands more from the skies over Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen with our pilotless drones. We murder each other with reckless abandon. And, as if we were not drenched in enough human blood, we murder prisoners—most of them poor people of color who have been locked up for more than a decade. The United States believes in regeneration through violence. We have carried out blood baths on foreign soil and on our own land for generations in the vain quest of a better world. And the worse it gets, the deeper our empire sinks under the weight of its own decay and depravity, the more we kill.”—Chris Hedges (via azspot)
Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday at age 95, was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary who served as President of South Africa from 1994-1999.
During the 1950’s, while working as an anti-apartheid lawyer, Mandela was repeatedly arrested for ‘seditious activities’ and ‘treason.’ In 1963 he was convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela served 27 years in prison before an international lobbying campaign finally won his release in 1990.
In 1994, Mandela was elected President and formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to diffuse ethnic tensions. As President, he established a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses and to uncover the truth about crimes of the South African government, using amnesty as a mechanism.
Nelson Mandela was a powerful and inspirational leader who eloquently and forcefully spoke truth to power. As tributes are published over the coming days, the corporate media will paint a sanitized portrait of Mandela that leaves out much of who he was. We expect to see ‘safe’ Mandela quotes such as “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” or “after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
actwithoutdoing said: Any thoughts on Mandela & the ANC’s latter-day compromises and collusion with the old white ruling elites? Necessary evil? Or a too-ready selling out to free market interests? Asked with the greatest respects to the late Mandela ofc
Yeah, I have been mulling this question over all day. I would say that we saw, and continue to see, a continuing degeneration of the ANC as a whole into a party of neo-colonialism and neo-liberalism. This directly goes against its foundation as a revolutionary party of the African masses.
I think the causes of this degeneration are very complex, but I think we can look at the failure of the ANC to nationalise the apartheid economy mean that most of South Africa’s wealth remained in the hands of the people. Of course, the ANC wanted to maintain its “respectability” in the international sphere after decades of isolation, but this actually led to a failure to follow through on a revolutionary programme.
With a movement like the ANC, a question one must always be raised: either one breaks with imperialism and capital and places power firmly into the hands of the masses (as we are seeing in Venezuela) or there must be a capitulation to capital and empire.
In the end, I don’t think it is necessary to make a judgement about Mandela’s personal role. For many, Mandela will always be remembered as the anti-apartheid revolutionary, not the statesman at the head of a contradictory and degenerating political machine, and I think that is important. Because within that memory South Africa is finding its solution. The revolution must continue. It is not enough to have a political revolution, one must have a total revolution against capitalism, imperialism and colonialism that overhauls the entire process.
The struggle is not over, and a second revolution may well be in order.
“The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned by no later than the date shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.”— Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards! (via historyofrobots)
bootyregrit said: does being politically aware in ausfailure ever make you so depressed you just want to stick your head in a gas oven?
Not really. I have a good enough understanding of Australia’s political history to see that this is definitely a low point of social struggle, but it is up to activists to actually start getting involved and building the movements, which can exist.
The forces of capital are beginning an absolutely enormous assault, and we don’t have the luxury of pessimism at this point. We need to be fighting.
How did you first start your Revolutionary thinking?
Well, I started getting involved in earl 2011, when I joined Resistance and the Socialist Alliance, and since then I have gotten more and more politically clear and politically involved in activist work.
But I was politically minded before that, since I was a little kid. For me, it has been a process of gradual changes followed by several moments of action or realisation (like joining the party, thinking that I actually understand dialectics for the first time, being given my first copy of the Manifesto).
I can’t really trace it back to any particular moment of realisation though.
In the local and special-congressional elections yesterday, a liberal won big in NYC; a non-Tea-Party Republican won in NJ; a former labor official won in Boston; and a Tea-Party challenge lost in Alabama.
The NY Times’ story on Alabama reported that an extreme-right candidate, Young, lost to a standard right-winger, Byrne, backed by the NRA, Chambers of Commerce, etc.
Young’s appeal was said to be in part his challenge to the Republican “establishment,” the Times reported. ”Mr. Young said in his concession speech that he was considering forming a national organization. ‘This is the first warning shot that goes out across the nation,’ he said. … Mr. Young lamented the ‘end of a Western Christian empire.’”
On one side, voters and big Republican money may be rejecting what are called the crazies of the Tea Party. The other side, the Tea Party has since 2009 been effective in helping moved the entire capitalist political spectrum very far to the right, to the point where a Democratic President has joined with Republican hawks to try to wage war in Syria.
Not many people have monuments of themselves scattered over several nations on a continent. Even fewer have an entire nation named after them. Perhaps there is only one who can claim to have led at least ﬁve nations to independence after centuries of imperialist rule. This article will attempt, in a limited space, to examine the life, legacy, successes and failures, and overall complexity of Simon Bolivar, a man who can lay claim to all of the above, as well as to being one of the important political ﬁgures in the history of the Americas and a symbol of unity and pride for a continent of people divided by history, class, culture, ethnicity, and politics.
Simon Jose Antonio de la Santisima Trinidad Bolivar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco was born July 24, 1783. The young boy, who would be known to history as Simon Bolivar, was born to a family of wealthy plantation owners (as his impressively long birth name would indicate), and would lead a life at odds with his wealthy upbringing.
The Socialist Party USA would like to congratulate Kshama Sawant and her campaign to win a seat on Seattle’s City Council. Challenging the two-party stranglehold on electoral politics as an openly socialist candidate requires tremendous courage and dedication. The fact that Kshama stands poised to claim victory is nothing short of astounding and should give us all inspiration as we ponder future progress in the electoral arena. Her message of human needs and environmental sanity has resonated with a public ready to fight corporate greed, and the Socialist Party USA recognizes the significance of what Kshama’s campaign has accomplished. Solidarity!
Both the words “environment” and “violence” have so many meanings, that they require some definition of how they can be of use in the context of a struggle for social justice. Regarding the word violence, according to Merriam Webster, one definition is “the use of brute strength to cause harm to a person or property”; a definition that doesn’t seem to have an immediately obvious connection to ecological issues associated with climate change, loss of biodiversity and various forms of pollution.
An increasing number of environmental activists, myself included, regard the word “environment” with some suspicion, generally preferring the term “ecological.” The reasoning behind the change in emphasis is because using the word “environment” posits the idea that nature is something that surrounds humans, but at the same time, something that we are fundamentally outside of, and separate from. The separation of nature from humans is the ideological position underlying capitalist orthodoxy; namely that the biosphere is a subset of the economy, rather than the other way around. Capitalists can freely take “natural resources” from outside of the economy as inputs, and dump waste from the production process back into the environment as outputs. Mainstream economic theory then pronounces that the ramifications of such an outlook will have only limited impact on the planet as a whole, and, thereby, economic accumulation and growth can continue indefinitely.
During the spring of 1986, while living in Tampa, Florida, I had a clear sense of the meaning of “living on the other side of the tracks.” As I traveled the streets throughout Tampa, the black communities were very similar to the thousands of black communities across America; poverty and young people out of work could be seen from one black community to another.
It was also a common scene that young blacks were being detained by cops, having to sit on street curbs or sitting in the back seats of patrol units being transported to jail. There was always a strong police presence in the black communities; it was something that was taken for granted. It was very obvious that a line was being crossed, going from the white communities into the black communities.
During that same year, I worked as a political activist with the Florida Consumer Action Network (F-CAN). As a political activist, I routinely did door-to-door canvassing, did fund raising and lobbying in the Florida state capital, Tallahassee. The door-to-door canvassing was always during the evening hours; we would canvass neighborhoods, five or six canvassers working different streets in each neighborhood.
One evening, my group supervisor assigned me to work several blocks in an area of St Petersburg, Florida; across the bay from Tampa. I had my assignment to canvass approximately 100 doors, to share information what F-CAN was doing to protect the state’s environment, and at the same time to solicit funds to help continue the operations of the organization. Similar to all the neighbors that I canvassed, it was an all white community.
One night in particular, I will always remember. It was approximately 8:00 p.m. and I was nearing the completion of my route. With clipboard in hand and identification, I walked up the steps to the house and knocked on the door. As the door open and to my surprise, I was angrily greeted by a middle age white male holding a hand gun by his side. In anger, the man asked what was I doing at his door at that time of night. Trying to remain calm, I explain that I worked with the Florida Consumer Action Network, a Florida consumer activist organization.
On the night of June 24 this year, the state’s military police invaded the Maré complex of favelas with its full war apparatus: armored cars, choppers and rifles. The police occupied the territory inhabited by around 150.000 people and unleashed a night of terror. Apart from the siege, where “no one goes out, no one comes in”, electric and phone lines were cut off, hundreds of homes invaded with no warrants and, depending on who you talk to, between 9 and 14 residents were summarily executed by the police. Since shooting was simply “too little”, the elite squad chose to behead some of the victims. This reality is common in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, a city in which the official numbers point to around 500 killed annually by the forces of the state – as well as the same amount of “disappeared” people — with the great majority being young, black and poor.
What made this slaughter different was its context. Days after one million marched in the center of the city, Maré’s “Massacre of Saint Bartholomew” took place in retaliation of a protest by favelados in the main avenue beside the favela. At the end of the protest on the 24th, under the pretext that there had been thefts occurring in the avenue, the police intervention led to the death of a resident and an officer from BOPE (the special police battalion). This triggered a typical revenge action from the police where each dead officer must be avenged by a much greater number of residents. The “message” was clear: “the faveladosshouldn’t join the uprising, or else they will be killed”.
Until the neoliberal university collapses under its own dead weight, we need to look to free universities to remind ourselves that another world is possible.
When I chose to enrol for a PhD, I did so because I thought — first and foremost — that this would be my way to a right livelihood, to a life lived in alignment with my passion. Reading. Writing. Thinking deeply. Engaging in open-ended, endless discussions about fine points. Bringing forth beauty by giving names to the endless qualities of the moving social.
This is still what I expect of that choice, which is why I spend most of my time toiling in anger about the schizophrenic institutional world I have come to inhabit. There are two ways, in particular, in which I feel that life as an academic — and specifically as a PhD student in one of many Wannabe U‘s around the world — dashes that hope: the strain of (and on) teaching, and the lack of pluralism. Mercilessly reminding me that what I thought was an enclave somehow sheltered from the contradictions I was trying to subtract myself from, is in fact just as much part of those broader tensions (how silly of me to think otherwise in the first place!).
From November 15-17, the Global Uprisings conference in Amsterdam brought together activists from around the world. Watch some videos of the event here.
Last week, dozens of activists, scholars and journalists came together in Amsterdam for a historic conference on the global uprisings of recent years. Besides presentations by grassroots organizers in the movements, the event included keynote speeches from Paul Mason, David Graeber, Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis and Paul Mattick, as well as further activities in a number of social centers around the city. The main venue for the conference, De Balie, has shared the video recordings of some of the presentations here. We are sharing them below (N.B.: if you are reading this post in your email inbox of RSS feed, make sure to visit our website to see the embedded videos).
The only appropriate way to honor the legacy of the iconic freedom fighter is not to beatify the man but to take his struggle to its logical conclusion.
During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
~ Nelson Mandela during his 1964 Rivonia Trial
A man of great moral fortitude has left the world. Many millions around the globe will mourn the loss of the legendary freedom fighter and South Africa’s first democratically elected and black president. After a protracted battle with lung illness, and a long and tumultuous life that led from tribal royalty to armed struggle and, after 27 years of political imprisonment, to an overwhelming victory in the country’s first racially inclusive democratic elections, Father Madiba — as the former President was affectionately known by his people — is finally at rest. He will now stand beside Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the pantheon of iconic freedom fighters.
Sadly, though, Mandela’s country remains torn apart by grinding poverty, rampant inequality, murderous crime, a deadly AIDS epidemic, pervasive political corruption, and a resurgence of brutal state oppression. The story of post-apartheid South Africa, and the mixed legacy of Mandela’s heroic struggle for freedom, must certainly qualify as one of the most authentic tragedies in modern history. As I wrote in a lengthy essay during a visit to Johannesburg last month, a pernicious form of socio-economic apartheid continues to segregate the country into two polar extremes. The newfound vanities of the emerging interracial upper class are mirrored only by the nauseating proliferation of slums on the outskirts of the cities. Apart from the right to vote, not much has changed for the average black South African.
Violent clashes have once again erupted between local people, police and company security guards at the giant Porgera gold and silver mine in Papua New Guinea’s highlands, operated and largely owned by the Canadian corporation Barrick Gold – the world’s biggest gold mining company.
Green Left Weekly has been informed by a Porgera-based human rights group called the Akali Tange Association that major riots broke out following the December 2 fatal shooting of four local people by company security guards and members of the notorious PNG Police Mobile Task Force. One security guard was also killed.
On December 3 local people massed in their thousands around Porgera station, forced the mine to curtail its operations and clashed with paramilitary police.
One more local was reported to have been shot dead in the afternoon hours of that day when the angry crowd marched towards Paiam town.
“According to eyewitnesses the victim received bullet wounds on the head. The shooting occurred at Pogema bridge.
Hempstead Independent School District (ISD) in Texas has confirmed that a middle school principal has been placed on leave after Hispanic students said that she forbid the entire school from speaking Spanish.
A group of students told KHOU that Hempstead Middle School Principal Amy Lacey announced over the intercom on Nov. 12 that they were no longer to use their native language in order to “prevent disruptions.”
It was over two weeks later before the superintendent sent a letter home insisting that “neither the district or any campus has any policy prohibiting the speaking of Spanish.”
But the students said that the effect of the ban had been chilling.
“People don’t want to speak it no more, and they don’t want to get caught speaking it because they’re going to get in trouble,” sixth-grade student Kiara Lozano explained to KHOU.
Some students felt that the principal gave teachers permission to discriminate against them.
“She was like no speaking Spanish,” eighth-grader Yedhany Gallegos recalled. “I was like that’s my first language. She said, well you can get out.”
I grew up in a border town in Texas where almost half of the kids in my class lived in Mexico, & I had multiple grade school teachers who also banned speaking Spanish in the classroom. This discrimination happens all too often in many schools & it just absolutely cripples the student’s ability to learn.
UK students protesting corporate attacks against their rights to education, control over their universities, and freedom of expression were brutally repressed by the British police in cooperation with university officials.
An independent network of over 100 students occupied the headquarters of the University of London at Senate House, demanding that ”the University of London Union (ULU) remain in student hands –democratically run by students – and has its block grant returned, that all outsourced workers at the university are awarded a pension, that the ULU oppose the privatization of student loans, and that thefinancial statements of the University’s academic departments and non-academic services be published so that they can be scrutinized so that the University’s decisions can be properly held to account by the community.”
The following video shows the brutality of the assault by the police forces against students being forcefully evicted from London Senate House. Students shout at cops: “Who killed Mark Duggan? You killed Mark Duggan!”:
A protester posted disturbing imageson youtube, exposing the cops’ brutality against a student who was running away after the police violently broke up the Senate House occupation. Another student was threatened with arrest by an out of control cop threatening: “Swear again and you get nicked!” This graphic video was taken on Malet street:
Aside from the video posted by The Guardian, showing the unprovoked cop punching a student repeatedly,the mainstream media has essentially censored these events. As students organized protests against the police brutality, demanding they be kept away from universities, #copsoffcampus trended 3rd on Twitter in UK.
Students fight back against police harassment and surveillance, explain why they need #copsoffcampus
“Police infiltration, surveillance, elected student leaders banned from political activities on campus, the arrest of students for simple acts of expression like chalking slogans on sidewalks, send a clear and constant message. There can be no reasoned discussion on these issues. There is no longer anything to talk about. Certainly, democracy has absolutely nothing to do with it. The pursuit of knowledge and understanding have been declared nothing but a consumer product, or else a form of technical training to increase overall economic productivity; these are the only way these matters can be discussed; if anyone wishes to gather to object to this, to gather in places of learning to insist that knowledge and understanding are not mere economic goods but something precious and valuable in their own right, they can only do so by permission of those who are telling them otherwise; otherwise, they can expect to be physically attacked.
The university is dead.
The question to ask now is not, how do we bring it back. That’s impossible and quite undesirable. The question is what new forms of genuinely democratic self-organization might rise from its ashes? To even begin to ask this question we must first of all get rid of the police.”
Derek Wall @Anothergreen24m: “The University of London should be renamed the University of shame, freedom to protest, not for a corporate university?”
The Officers of University of London Union issued a statement relating what happened and expressing support for 5 Sussex students who were expelled following protests:
”Occupations are a legitimate form of dissent. When our university exploits our staff, shuts down our student union, and are utterly unaccountable to the students and staff that give it life and make it function, students have no choice but to gain leverage in whatever way they can.
Tonight’s events constitute a significant escalation of the dispute on campuses. At Sussex University, five students have been suspended by their university management for taking part in similar action. We send them our solidarity: sign the petition to defend them by clicking here.
The terms of our dispute are clear. On one side is a university management that is attacking its staff, shutting down student representation, and that systematically colludes with police in order to keep control of its affairs. On the other is an increasingly united campaign of the academic community – in all its forms – committed to reclaiming our university. We are clear which side of the line we fall on. Anyone who thinks that what happened tonight was reasonable is not fit to run a university.”
Demanding #copsoffcampus, students protested again, peacefully, until 15 police vans showed up.
At Russel Square, police were again very aggressive, but students resisted the cops’ assault, organizing a ‘Bookbloc‘ outside the Senate House. They used a “Homage to Catalonia” shield in their defense.
Students arrested, resistance spreads: 11th december, #copsoffcampus National Day of Action
At least 38 protesters were arrested, students and legal observers. The students captured by the police were taken to police stations in remote locations.
UCL Defend Education @UCLanticuts5m: ”38 people arrested at #copsoffcampus being taken to Croydon, Sutton, and Bromley police stations – the furthest away stations the could use. ”
Michael Chessum @michael_chessum8m: ”Arrestees being taken to Croyden, Bromley, Sutton and probably Lewisham. People organising support outside. #copsoffcampus”
“In the past month universities across the country have been subject to unprecedented levels of violence from the police, targeting a resurgent wave of activism against the privatisation of the university system.
The scale of the police’s response has never been witnessed on British universities. Students beaten, strangled, having teeth punched out, dragged across roads, and violently bundled into vans. This cannot be allowed to continue.”
“We stand for an education that is public and democratic, free for all. Campuses should be places for inquiry, critical thinking and dissent. Across the country, students and workers are fighting for that vision.Students and workers united hold all of the legitimate power. We are the people who give our institutions life and make them function. The only power that management ultimately has is police and state violence. They can’t win the argument, but they can – and do – call in the cops, assault and intimidate us. With an agenda of austerity, the authorities are behaving in an ever more violent and repressive way. Our response is to mobilise harder.”
Sheffield Strikes Back, a newly formed broad left group of Sheffield students, have occupied the Arts Tower – the tallest university building in the United Kingdom. „The group, which includes activists from Sheffield Autonomous Students, Revolutionary Socialists Society, Labour Students, Socialist Students and the Living Wage campaign, walked into the lecture hall at about 7:30pm and have now claimed a major lecture theatre and the building foyer.” They released a statement regarding their decision to occupy the building, which is the second tallest in the city:
“Once again, as students of the University of Sheffield we have gone in to occupation in solidarity with those on strike. Our umbrella group, Sheffield Strikes Back, contains members from a variety of organisations – Revolutionary Socialists Society, Sheffield Autonomous Students, Labour Students, the Living Wage Campaign as well as many non-aligned student activists from a wide range of political viewpoints. However, we are unified in our opposition to the mistreatment of University staff by management, both locally and nationally. Our occupation will further disrupt the running of the University on a day when we believe no staff and no students should be crossing a picket line. We invite anyone who agrees to join us in support.”
“Free love? As if love is anything but free! Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love. Man has subdued bodies, but all the power on earth has been unable to subdue love. Man has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love. Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly helpless before love. High on a throne, with all the splendour and pomp his gold can command, man is yet poor and desolate, if love passes him by. And if it stays, the poorest hovel is radiant with warmth, with life and colour. Thus love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king. Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere.”—Emma Goldman
What's the difference between conservatives and liberals in your opinion?
Well, I think there is some overlap, mostly because the majority of conservatives today actually are liberals in some respects, especially in regards to the economic sphere.
It really depends what we mean by liberals. If we are taking the tradition definition, almost everyone in the political mainstream, from conservatives to social democrats to right-liberatarians and an-caps are a type of liberal.
However, I think we are operating here on the more American definition of liberal, which is essentially a reformist or social-liberal position, there many difference between the liberal and the conservative branchs of American politics and more generally.
I think they represent two sides of the capitalist establishment. This is well summed up in the piece “Two Wings of the Eagle” by William K. Tabb, which essentially outlines that while the conservative-wing gravitates towards the hard-line, public exercise of imperial power, the liberal side tends to focus on constructing the international institutions, such as the UN, the IMF, etc, which exercise imperialism in a different manner. However, it is not cut and dry and elements of each will be found in the each administration. This also reflects the kinds of capital interests that are tied to the wings of the political parties. While both serve the interests of capital generally, the Republicans are traditionally in the pocket of mining, energy and arms capitalists, while the democrats have more of a basis in the multinational, “liberal” capitalist class which wants to embrace all of humanity (read: bring everyone under the control of their corporate interests). So there is that aspect of the difference.
The liberal and the conservative are both defending capitalism, and in essence they are defending the status quo. However, the liberal does want the current system to put on its more human face.
Both of them are ideologies of oppression, and both of them should be rejected. Of the two, I would argue liberalism is more dangerous.
“I came to the conclusion that as violence in this country was inevitable, it would be unrealistic to continue preaching peace and non-violence. This conclusion was not easily arrived at. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle. I can only say that I felt morally obliged to do what I did.”—Nelson Mandela,"An ideal for which I am prepared to die". Mandela made this statement from the dock at the opening of his trial on charges of sabotage, Supreme court of South Africa, Pretoria, April 20 1964 (via randomactsofchaos)