La Passe gets spray-painted, a few bourgies someplace reportedly throw a temper tantrum
La "Passe" means a few things in French. Beyond referring to a "pass", like a theater pass or a peep show pass, namely, in Quebec lumpen speech it also has the connoting of fucking people over (like being conned), or to bluntly rape someone. We still use the expression se faire PASSER un sapin, that transliterates to the metaphor "being fucked with a cone tree", a colorful semantic variant on "being fucked over". More rarely it's used in tour de passe-passe, a magic trick of illusion. ALso, La Passe is a fairly-dubiously radical social center located between the Plateau and Mile End, hands down the trendiest and some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Montreal.
So last Friday evening, on December 1st, on the thick wooden door of this bland, second attempt at a progressive social-cultural center located in the very convenient and symbolic basement of a Catholic cathedral, we’ve spray-painted the words « Bourgies » and « Anar-fakes ». We only had red paint for the occasion but we thought they’d like the color anyways. And we may try something better next time if they keep being recuperative jerks.
Let's not assume too quickly... it’s not like we’re pissed off about them precisely. The city contains countless pretentious pricks and other morons to be angry at and we got better things to think about in life than boiling about them. The neoliberal capitalist spectacle economy keeps producing those on a mass scale, as they need people to work in their arts industry n shit. Go ask Bourdieu or something.
BUT we have here a bunch of quite socially-privileged edgelords from well-off social backgrounds, highly-literate revolutionaries with suspicious ties to maoists (even tho I’d prefer not to cast over-simplistic categorization on the true nature of their agenda and sensibilities, it’s more like a class issue), who got their education from private college and decided at one point, during the last 10-15 years or so, that they were brilliant, astute, competent and wise enough to be the guiding lights of the coming insurrection that never really came.
So they went on setting honeytraps, intellectual boobytraps as well, and art traps, so that the youngsters interested in a more revolutionary change in every last student strike or Occupy or action camp may end up being fucked over with a Xmas tree then left for dead in the street at the coldest of the winter. Long story short, they’re a bunch of fakesters and have got frankly annoying with their long-lasting attempt at being the politburo of the milieu. They like to remind us on how 2012 changed everything and whatever, but it only gave them better jobs and/or connections. But if they got so much resources why don’t they just leave anarchists and especially anarchy alone, stfu and go up the social ladder… or are they that much losers at social entryism?
But noooo.... They'll keep pretending they’re into some sort of insurrection while everything they do is social entry and continuous accumulation of social capital in the name of maintaining their own social status!
Fuck them all anarfakes and their bourgie antics, nice retro outfits and polite talk. You perpetuate civilization you vile pendant scumfucks. Die under the heavy sun, snowflakes.
This said, I wish all the others a Merry Black December!!!
And I wish you fuck the system (their system too) in the most imaginative, ambitious, disturbing, funny, shocking ways you can find, please!
- the Longueuil Anarcho-Nihilist Brigade, celebrating a suburban insurgent consciousness since 2015
p.s.: By the way we've lost the ashes last year of the book by Nazi ideologue Heidegger you've been keeping at the library of the first La Passe. We might burn a few more books or things we don't like instead, that may or may not be from your stuff... who knows. We might get busier with other matters this month, like at Complexe Dix-30 maybe.Tags: montrealBlack Decembervandalismcategory: International
For a 59 minute long, radio clean version for syndication purposes, please visit the archive.org collection.
Prison-Related Audio Roundtable
This week we feature two segments. The first is a roundtable discussion with producers from various audio projects around North America that focus on prisoner struggles and amplifying incarcerated voices. In the chat you'll hear from me, two producers of The Prison Radio show on CFRC radio in Kingston, Ontario, a producer of the Prison Radio Show on CKUT from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and a producer of the June11 audio series released this last year and revving to mark the day in solidarity with Marius Mason and other long term anarchist and ecological prisoners.
Follow-Up with Walid Zazai on Manus Island
The second conversation is an update from Walid Zazai, the 24 year old Afghani man being held on Manus Island off of the coast of Papua New Guinea. Walid has been in detention for 4 years now awaiting resettlement at the pleasure of the government of Australia. We spoke with Walid two weeks ago after the Manus Regional Processing Centre in which he was living had been closed and he and roughly 450 other refugees stayed in protest of their longtime lack of freedom of movement and the violence they feared from PNG security forces and locals on the island. More coverage of the struggle immigrants against the Australian border authorities and other updates from the Oceania can be found on the long running Anarchist radio show based there, Subversion1312. Subversion1312 is also a recently added member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts.
Now For Some Fun Events
If you're in the Asheville area today (December 3rd 2017), at 5pm at Firestorm Books and Coffee, Blue Ridge ABC will be hosting it's monthly letter writing session, where you can swing by, find out about political prisoners in the U.S., write to some with upcoming birthdays and meet other local radicals. After that, tonight at 8pm at the Lazy Diamond, 98-A, North Lexington Ave in downtown Asheville, comrades will be hosting a Radical Trivia night to benefit the 2nd Asheville Carolina Anarchist Bookfair, or ACAB2018, planned for this summer. Alone or in teams, you are invited to test your wits on subjects of Black Liberation, Anarchist History, Queer Resistance and more. A cash prize will go to the winning team or individual.
This episodes playlistTags: tfsradiotfsrweekly podcastrefugeesAustraliackut prison radiocfrc prison radiojune 11thcategory: Projects
'Orwellian nightmare': German Interior Minister drafts law to spy on all digital devices - report | 03 Dec 2017 | Germany's Interior Minister wants secret backdoor access to computers, phones and even Volkswagens, according to a media report. Critics have slammed his plan as an "Orwellian nightmare." Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere plans to argue "the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance" during an interior ministry conference in Leipzig next week. The proposal would "dramatically extend" the state's powers to spy on its citizens, according to the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) report. If signed into law, de Maiziere's proposal would allow German security services to spy on any device connected to the internet.
The post Mexico: Indigenous Water Defenders Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison appeared first on It's Going Down.Editor’s note: For background on the struggle in San Pedro Tlanixco, see this article.
To the National Indigenous Congress
To the Indigenous Governing Council and our Spokeswoman Marichuy
To the Indigenous Clandestine Revolutionary Committee–General Command of the EZLN
To the Network Against Repression and for Solidarity
To the National and International Sixth
To the Compañeras and Compañeros that Struggle in This World
To the Compañeros of the Free, Autonomous and Alternative Media
The Movement for the Freedom of the Defenders of Water and Life of San Pedro Tlanixco, Tenango del Valle, Mexico State, denounces the sentences given to our indigenous Nahua brothers and sister, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal, Marco Antonio Pérez González and Dominga González Martinez.
As you remember, since 1989, San Pedro Tlanixco has been defending the water that is born from our forests. We are defending this water against the capitalist hydra, taking shape here as national and transnational flower-growing corporations in Villa Guerrero that have been protected by the bad governments. We have been defending our territory because they have imposed a private highway that goes from Tenando del Valle to Ixtapan de la Sal, causing our town to be split in half.
On April 1st, 2003, the president of the Texcaltenco river system and representative of flower-growing corporations of Villa Guerrero died due to a fall. Since this day, our community has lived through constant attacks on the part of the bad governments and the paid media that have spread the false headline that we had lynched this man. The truth is that he and his people were in our territory because they wanted to take our water. It was there when, due to not knowing the trails, he fell and lost his life.
Now, 14 years later, it seems that the hatred from above, the contempt, the ambition to dispossess us of our territories, to take over our water and show that justice in this country is sold to the highest bidder, is evident. They have issued an unjust sentence against our indigenous Nahua compañera and compañeros Dominga González Martínez, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal and Marco Antonio Pérez González. Their processes were full of irregularities, tricks and mistreatment lasting ten years. Not happy with that, after the end of that process, we had to wait another year and a half to learn that “they are criminally responsible for the crime of homicide (committed with premeditation and intent) against Alejandro Isaac Basso…”. It continues: “they are criminally responsible for the crime of the deprivation of freedom, committed against Nazario Baldemar García Sánchez, Felipe Rea Herrera, Gabriel Enríquez García, Adolfo Vázquez Carrasco, Mario Pérez Sánchez, Clemente Cotero Bernal, Raymundo Estrada Arias, Esteban Reyes Vázquez, Moisés Díaz, Solís, Salvatore Brianda Addis and Arsenio Fuentes Guadarrama”. With this, the judge of the judicial district of Toluca, Maximiliano Vázquez Castañeda, issued a punishment of fifty years of prison and a fine of $40,300 pesos. Furthermore, the punishment demands $63,729.00 pesos for the supposed reparation of pain and suffering.
We know that this punishment is not only against our compañera and compañeros, but it is a punishment and message for all of those who are committed to defending our territories and water. For those of below, from those that believe they have the power of justice, we only receive contempt and humiliation, absurd and fabricated crimes at the convenience of the public prosecutor and powerful families that seek revenge and never justice.
Today we want to make a call and scream of solidarity to demand the freedom of our indigenous Nahua compañera and our five compañeros. We do not forget our compañeros Rómulo Arias Mireles (sentenced to 54 years in prison), Pedro Sánchez Berriozábal (sentenced to 52 years in prison) and Teófilo Pérez González (sentenced to 50 years in prison) to whom they carried out the same tricks, whom they treated with the same contempt since their detention. In the same way, we demand the cancellation of the arrest orders against our two brothers that for 14 years have been unable to come to their community, their territory, their family.
As a movement, Councilors of the Indigenous Governing Council and part of the National Indigenous Congress and Network Against Repression and for Solidarity, we reaffirm: We will not sell ourselves, we will not give up and we will not rest until we see our sister and brothers free and continuing the struggle in defense of our territory and water.
Freedom for Political Prisoners!
For the Full Reconstitution of our Peoples!
Never Again a Mexico Without Us!
Movement for the Freedom of the Defenders of Water and Life of San Pedro Tlanixco
Nahua councilors from central State of Mexico
Pamela Boyce Simms
Resistance mobilizes the troops and galvanizes the base. It gives warriors on the front lines a sense of purpose and the oppressed, glimmers of hope. It's an opportunity to put our best analysis of social ills and resistance movement models to the test. Economic and political liberation, social and eco-justice resistance struggles seem so essential, so vital, and are so seductive.
We instinctively resist conditions that we fear will cause or increase our pain. Yet it’s impossible to overcome outer conditions until we recognize that they are merely reflections and projections of unresolved aspects of our internal state of being.
Engaging in the "struggle—liberation" dynamic without ongoing examination of our own interior lives is myopic and dangerous. Movement strategy that's conditioned by lack of internal self-awareness (beyond the intellect) is inevitably limited, stop-gap, and short lived. Without innervision, resistance simply indulges fear and inadvertently precipitates more suffering ─often reemerging down the pike in a more egregious form.
Activists’ valiant and righteous resistance movements conceived and executed without a proportionate internal consciousness shift has resulted in:
- New restrictive voting laws which shred the 1965 Voting Rights Act, i.e.: reduction of early voting opportunities, voter ID laws, voting roll purges, and closing of polling stations.
- Citizen impotence: Researchers at Princeton and Northwestern Universities investigated how much political power ordinary American citizens have. They examined a 20 year period from 1982-2002 and found that:
- If large corporations and the wealthy wanted a law to pass, there was a 60% chance of that happening.
- If large corporations and the wealth didn’t want a law to pass, it did not pass.
- Issues that almost no ordinary citizen voters want to pass had a 30% chance of passing.
- Issues that almost every ordinary citizen voter want to pass also had a 30% chance or passing.
Researchers concluded that “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near zero, nonsignificant impact on public policy.”
- More black men currently behind bars or under the watch of the American criminal justice system than were enslaved in 1850.
- American schools are more segregated today than they were in the 1950's and 60's.
Resistance, whether to deeper self-knowledge or external circumstances keeps us focused on, stuck, and swirling around in the vortex of the existing condition. Focusing on the problem while mistakenly believing that it’s independent of ourselves, reinforces and anchors it.
Authentic liberation is synonymous with the clearest of clear vision —elimination of whatever obscures reality AS consciousness. From that expansive vantage point we're able to see that the —me-me-me— ego-driven drama of any given struggle is a futile, subjective vortex that does little more than perpetuate itself.
As we begin to experience separation as illusory and commit to living into non-duality, the inevitable pain of the human condition can then be equated with growth. And suffering, which is a mental predisposition, diminishes. The true task involved in creating change is to master our internal landscapes so that outer conditions reflect inner wholeness.
Viewed through the lenses of non-duality, suffering and misery — joy and bliss co-exist as two sides of the same coin. That which comes into our conscious awareness and pervades our experience is a function of where we choose to focus our attention. The choice is ours.
We can choose to identify primarily with our physical avatar* which lives in the realm of egoic, intellectual constructs; and which experiences itself as separate from everything in its environment. When activists adopt this frame of reference our resistance of external conditions is often a projection of internal unconscious resistance to looking at disturbing aspects of our own life experience.
We align our lives with deconstructing and raging against aberrant social conditions. We swim in scarcity and deprivation consciousness.
In this reality-frame we resist, resent, complain, protest and do battle with societal conditions. Our thoughts are about what has, or might be taken from us and what we do or don't possess. We feel compelled to fight hard for our wellbeing and that of others. Our action is fear-based. We fear losing control, not measuring up, not contributing enough, being incompetent or not good enough. We focus on status and maintaining it. The world is dark, and death is feared as something painful and finite.
Unhappiness is more the norm than not, and prolonged periods of joy are rare if they occur at all. We waste precious energy propping up the ego, trying to skirt our fears, uncertainty and lack of control. AND in the long run, all of that effort is futile. We unwittingly invoke more suffering and socio-political aberration.
Conversely we can choose to stand in the flow of the animating consciousness behind our avatars, —the more vast aspect of ourselves that is in alignment with the field of universal intelligence. The field, like the brilliance of the sun's light is always present whether we’re conscious of it or not. The light is accessible even as the apparent gloom of suffering hangs heavy beneath the cloud cover generated and maintained by the collective unconscious.
We're wise to let go of the sense of “the struggle,” NOT to become doormats, nor to indulge in perpetual navel-gazing, or to dilute our activism. We let go of the struggle-drug, the excruciating comfort zone, in order to liberate ourselves from being driven by limiting unconscious fears, patterns, and beliefs that keep us focused on deconstructing and analyzing the hellishness in front of us rather than generating its antidote.
With intentionality we have the capacity to progressively shed the heavy pall of limiting beliefs, false limitations, and the drama of the egoic self at will. With some discipline and a little help from our activists' community-of-practice friends we can learn how to remain in conscious communication with that field for longer and longer periods of time until this becomes the norm.
Movement-builders interested in taking activism to a place where they can serve as conduits for true evolutionary culture-building are invited to:
The post Come Oppose Nazis Richard Spencer & Mike Enoch, Sunday in Washington DC appeared first on It's Going Down.
Social Media Event Here
The Nazis will be at the White House on Sunday, 2 PM. Of course, people of conscience will be there to oppose them. DC activists are calling on anyone who stands against white supremacy, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism, anti-immigrant hate, Islamophobia, and more to join us and prevent the Nazis from holding their rally. Please join us. The movement needs you!
Richard Spencer and Mike Enoch both sent out tweets on Saturday afternoon, stating that they will be at the White House, Lafayette Park, at 2 PM, for an anti-immigrant rally. Their “organizing” seems to consist of just sending out tweets, so we expect their numbers to be small.
With less than 24 hours notice, the people of the Washington DC area are responding. We will be present in the park to create a wall of noise and drown out Nazi voices. We will stop them from organizing toward their hateful agenda.
Come join us. Bring your passion and your noisemakers. Wear black, if you wish, in solidarity with antifascism.
The supposed reason that the Nazis want to meet tomorrow is to protest against the recent not-guilty verdict in the highly politicized San Francisco trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant. Garcia Zarate was accused of the murder of Kate Steinle, who was white, but the the jury did not find Garcia Zarate guilty.
Right-wing pundits, white supremacists, and Nazis have been using this trial as a lightning rod for anti-immigrant sentiment.
Let’s show them that the Washington DC community stands behind immigrants and will protect our communities. And we stand against Nazis! We will go wherever they are.
We need you to stand with us on the right side of history. Please join us!
This weeks crossword puzzle is on Occupy.
Download it here: https://anarchistnews.org/crossword/crossword28.pdf
From LBC about the book:
For those anarchistnews fans who miss Worker's acerbic and insightful bon mots on modern-day anarchy and anarchists, here is a fix (however temporary) for you.
Fifty crossword puzzles of occasionally ludicrous difficulty (there are scattered puff questions throughout also, for those of you, like me, who are terrible at these kind of games) are featured for your education and amusement.
Anarchistnews.org is the most popular, utilized, and non-sectarian news source pertaining to anarchists in North America. Its open commenting system continues to be one of the few spaces in which anarchists, nationally and internationally, converse about topics of the day, challenge each other, and critically engage with a wide variety of issues and events.
Worker retired from running the site after eleven years... Since then they have reflected on their time in the daily trenches of running the site, and this book is the result. These crossword puzzles speak to the years of comment threads, the ridiculousness and wonderfulness of the anarchist space in North America, and finally the absurdity of working with cantankerous, stubborn, and self-righteous people by way of essay or manifesto.
These puzzles should probably be done by a reading group or a group of friends. They are supposed to make you think, laugh, and perhaps smack your head. A more perfect metaphor for North American anarchism cannot be found.
[ Here are the solutions! Don’t peek!: http://ardentpress.com/crosswords/ ]Tags: beautiful crossmess parzelthis sitepdfDownloadOccupycategory: Projects
From Anarkismo by Wayne Price
Review of Jonathan M. Smucker, Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals
How can we build an effective popular movement to change society? That is the subject of this book, which has been widely praised. In my opinion, it has important and profoundly true things to say, but is politically unbalanced and mistaken in certain ways.
This is an important and interesting book about how to build a movement. From the blurbs it includes, it has been highly praised by many well-known militants and theorists of change. In my opinion, as a libertarian (antiauthoritarian) socialist, it has something profoundly true to say, but it is politically unbalanced.
We live in a time when awful things are happening, politically, economically, socially, militarily, and ecologically—and worse things threaten to happen. Yet, as Jonathan Smucker points out (relying on the polls), “Today in the United States more millennials identify with socialism than with capitalism….On nearly every major issue, relatively progressive positions have come to enjoy a majority of support….The establishment is in crisis. Popular opinion is on our side.” (2017; 252—254) Why then are those committed to social justice so weak, marginalized, and with minimal political impact? What can be done to change that? That is the important topic addressed by this book.
Smucker’s message is essentially this: too much of the Left is inward-looking, comfortable with itself, and self-involved. It is correct, even essential, to have a core group of reliable militants, but leftists must reach out to others, go beyond their comfort zone, and get other people involved, to whatever degree they can be involved. It is not enough to build a club of the like-minded. It is necessary to work out a strategy for winning gains, for influencing others, for achievement, and for exercising power. It is necessary to build a movement, a movement for power. The strategic aim should be to challenge the dominance (the “hegemony”) of the ruling elite over popular consciousness and established institutions—and to ultimately replace its hegemony with that of the Left.
That is the book in a nutshell. He repeats the message over and over, to drive it home, with various elaborations and modifications. This message is true and important but not especially new. For decades, revolutionary Marxist and anarchist organizations have urged their members to go beyond middle class intellectuals and students, to root themselves in the working class—particularly in the most oppressed and discriminated-against sectors of the working class (African-Americans, unskilled workers, women, etc.). This was essential for building an effective revolutionary movement.
For example, in the ‘70s, Hal Draper criticized sects which postured as small mass parties: “The life-principle of a revolutionary mass party is not simply its Full Program, which can be copied with nothing but an activist typewriter and can be expanded or contracted like an accordion. Its life-principle is its integral involvement as a part of the working-class movement, its immersion in the class struggle not by a Central Committee decision but because it lives there.” (quoted in Krul 2011)Prefiguration vs. Strategy
The problem of the self-enclosed and isolated grouping, then, applies in many forms on the Left. It applies to small revolutionary socialist organizations, built around their dogmas and their newspapers. It applies to co-op stores and bicycle clubs. But Smucker is especially aiming his criticism at anarchists, based on his experience in the Occupy Wall Street encampment in 2011. (Which is also consistent with my own—much more limited—experience with OWS.) He describes the anarchists as focused on building a self-governing collectivity, which would inspire people to go and do likewise. They did not, he claims, think of OWS in strategic terms, about how to use it as a basis for building a broader movement to challenge established politics. They vehemently opposed raising demands on the state, which would have been necessary if the movement was to attract others. He counterposes the anarchist emphasis on “prefigurative” organizing to his focus on “strategic” thinking.
“In contrast to power politics, ‘prefigurative politics’ seeks to demonstrate the ‘better world’ it envisions for the future in the actions it takes today….I argue that even leftist idealists have to strategically engage power politics proper, if they hope to build anything bigger than a radical clubhouse.” (103) Smucker cites major anarchist theorists, “Manuel Castells, Richard J.F. Day, and David Graeber seem to concur with my claim that [prefigurative politics] aims to replace…strategic politics, especially if the later is defined in terms of hegemonic contestation.” (127)
For example, David Graeber has written, “… most successful forms of popular resistance have historically taken the form not of challenging power head on, but of ‘slipping away from its grasp’, whether by means of flight, desertion, or the founding of new communities.” (quoted in Price 2016) Laurence Davis summarizes—favorably—this viewpoint, “For contemporary ‘small-a’ anarchists…these here-and-now alternative institutions…and social relationships …are the essence of anarchism….Many contemporary anarchists insist that ‘the revolution is now’….” (same) Some autonomous Marxists have adopted a similar perspective, calling it “exodus”—somehow escaping from capitalism without confronting it or the state.
I have written several essays critical of this view (Price 2015a; 2015b; 2006). Most of Smucker’s criticism is on the mark. The capitalist class with its institutions of power—especially the state—will not allow the people to gradually and peacefully build alternate institutions which could replace the market, industrial capitalism, and the national state. This was demonstrated (once again) when the police broke up Occupy encampments, after a few months. This was done throughout the country, with coordination by the (Obama-Democratic) national government. The power of the state could not be ignored.
But the opinions he cites are from only one school of anarchism. There is also the tradition of revolutionary class-struggle anarchism (libertarian socialism). (Price 2016; 2009) This aims to build a mass movement which can eventually overthrow the capitalist class and its state, along with all other institutions of oppression—and replace them with self-managed, cooperative, nonprofit, institutions from below. It sees a major role for the working class, with its potential power to stop the means of production. It also has organized other sections of the oppressed and exploited to fight for freedom, in various countries and at various times.
Smucker, who claims to have once been an anarchist, appears to be completely ignorant of this alternate, and mainstream, tendency in anarchism, which goes back to Bakunin and Kropotkin, the anarchist-communists and the anarcho-syndicalists. (A slight example of Smucker’s ignorance of anarchism appears in his discussion of recent biological evidence that human beings, like other animals, are not only competitive and aggressive, but also are highly cooperative and sociable. This is true, but it was demonstrated over a century ago by Peter Kropotkin in his Mutual Aid, a foundational work for anarchism.)
Revolutionary anarchism would not accept this binary counterposition of prefiguration vs. a strategy for power—whether raised, on different sides, by Smucker or by certain anarchists. Even Smucker accepts that a strategic approach may incorporate prefiguration, as a minor aspect. But actually the two depend on each other. We cannot build a participatory democratic society unless we build a participatory democratic movement, and it will be a stronger movement the more that people democratically participate.
This point is made in a book on unions, fittingly titled, Democracy is Power. “Internal democracy is key to union power….A union will act in the interests of members only if these members control the union….The power of the union lies in the participation of its members, and it requires democracy to make members want to be involved….A union run by the members is also more likely to exercise its power.” (Parker & Gruelle 1999; 14) This does not mean that specific forms, such as consensus and open membership, are always required. However, strategy and prefiguration should be one and the same.The Limits of Liberalism
The primary weakness of this book is its one-sided focus on sectarian withdrawal and self-involvement on the Left. What Smucker says against this is true, but it is not the whole truth.
The main problem with the Left in the U.S. (and elsewhere) is not self-involvement but liberalism, reformism, and opportunism. From the ‘30s to today, most of the Left has supported—or at least, accommodated—capitalism, only urging better regulation of business by the state. It has promoted the state as the main remedy for all social evils—if only the state would be somewhat more democratic. It has portrayed the state as a neutral institution, to be used by the corporate rich or by the working people, depending on events. It has urged a focus on elections, to put individuals into office to be “political” for the people. It has channeled mass action into the Democratic Party, the “party of the people,” which has consistently been the swamp in which movements suffocate and die. This has been true not only of liberals but also of most of those calling themselves “socialists” or “communists.”
The liberal approach has led to victories, but none which have remained stable and reliable (especially since the period of renewed stagnation and decline beginning about 1970, following the “long boom”). Unions won the right to organize—but today unions in the private sector only represent about 6 % of the labor force, about where they were before the upsurge of the ‘30s. African-Americans defeated legal segregation, but Black people are still on the bottom of society. Even their right to vote is under attack. Women made gains, which are again under attack, especially the right to legal abortions. The “Vietnam syndrome,” which limited the U.S.’s military interventions abroad, is over; now the U.S. wages war around the world, and threatens nuclear war with North Korea. Advancements in environmental protection have been viciously attacked by the current administration—which has attacked popular gains in every field. (Readers may add to the list as they chose.) Liberalism—reformism—has been a failure overall.
Yet this seems to be Jonathan Smucker’s perspective. While he strongly (and correctly) criticizes self-enclosed, sectarian, anarchists and others, he has barely a few phrases about the danger of being coopted by ruling powers. He hopes to build a broad popular movement, including large numbers of “ordinary people,” workers of all sorts, students, and oppressed people—but also to include powerful people from the rich and governing sectors. He wants to win over “allies within the existing establishment.” (167) Radicals need to know “how to strategically influence a decision-maker….” (250) There is a need for “actively courting influential supporters….” (70) This implies not an alliance against the ruling class but an alliance with sections of the ruling class and the state. (This has traditionally been called a “Popular Front,” as opposed to a broad alliance of organizations, parties, and movements of the working class and oppressed sections, which has been called a “United Front.”) In order to include establishment allies, the movement would have to limit the demands which can be raised and the methods which can be used.
Smucker’s aim is not only for a popular movement to develop counter-power to the ruling class, but to take state power. “The state is no longer an other that we stand in opposition to as total outsiders; instead we become responsible for it—parts of it, at least….” (152) His goal is “to consolidate victories in the state….wresting the helm.” (150) He expresses admiration for “the Chavistas in Venezuela…[who] have succeeded in winning some level—however limited a degree—of state power….” (136) Smucker does not mention more recent developments in Venezuela, which have not gone so well for the regime nor for its working and poor people.Elections and the Democratic Party
To win “victories in the state”, it will be necessary to run in elections. “Hopefully this moment is helping today’s radicals to reconsider our relationship to electoral campaigns and political parties….” (170) Besides the Chavistas, he makes several glowing references to Bernie Sanders’ campaign. “In 2016 Bernie Sanders picked up the torch that Occupy lit….” (246) “The Bernie Sanders campaign showed again…the ripe possibility of such an insurgent political alignment.” (217) The Sanders campaign did demonstrate that there was a lot of dissatisfaction which might be mobilized even behind someone who was called a “socialist” and spoke of “revolution.” This was significant.
But what was the strategic result? Sanders channeled this dissatisfaction into the Democratic Party, eventually behind Hillary Clinton, a neoliberal, militarist, establishment politician. Those who organized the Sanders campaign are now trying to keep its momentum in the capitalist party which has historically been the graveyard of movements. They want to turn the militant youth into voting fodder for another pro-imperialist, pro-capitalist, candidate, who has no solution for the economic and ecological disasters which are looming.
Smuckers cites a lot of sociologists and political scientists, but few radicals. He cites no anarchists (except for the non-revolutionary types) and no Marxists (except for the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci--died in 1937). He never considers the nature of the state, apparently treating it as a neutral institution which can be used by either the people or by the corporate rich. He seems to think that competing classes can take over different “parts” of the same state—denying that it is a unitary institution. One thing on which both the revolutionary anarchists and Lenin agreed was that the existing state was an instrument of capitalism, and that it needed to be overthrown and replaced by alternate institutions. The fate of the Occupy encampments was one demonstration of this.
Other examples have appeared more recently in Greece in the fate of the elected Syriza government, in Brazil with the Workers’ Party government, in South Africa with the ANC, and in many other reformist parties over the decades (such as Allende in Chile in 1973 or the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s and 30s). Smucker discusses the OWS experience but not any of these. Nor does he examine any of the rich history of revolutions and counterrevolutions, which have been studied by anarchists, Marxists, and bourgeois historians. It is true that we cannot expect a revolution—or even a prerevolutionary period—in the near future. But the goal of a revolution can be used to guide the current struggle for reforms and how that is carried out. A study of the history of previous attempts at revolution could provide lessons even broader than only looking at OWS and the other limited experiences which Smucker has personally gone through.
In fact, limiting ourselves just to struggles for reforms, in the U.S. almost every major victory has been won by non-electoral means. The rights of unions were won through mass strike waves. The destruction of legal Jim Crow and other gains for African-Americans were won through mass civil disobedience as well as urban rebellions (“riots”). The war in Vietnam was opposed through demonstrations, draft resistance, campus strikes, and a virtual mutiny in the armed forces. LGBT rights were fought for through the Stonewall rebellion and ACT-UP’s civil disobedience. The women’s movement was an integral part of these non-electoral struggles. The legal and electoral aspects of these movements were efforts by the establishment to respond to these popular struggles, to get them under control, and finally to kill them. The Democratic Party played a big part in that.The Hegemony of Gramsci
Smucker relies heavily on the concepts of Antonio Gramsci, such as “hegemony”, “articulation,” and others. Without being a Gramsci enthusiast, I do not criticize Smucker for being willing to learn from a Marxist theorist. (Although it seems a little odd to use an unusual word like “hegemony” in the title of a book addressed to a wide audience.) Gramsci advocated a revolution by the working class, in a broad alliance with all oppressed and exploited people, to overturn capitalism and the existing state. These are concepts with which I agree and which Smucker may not, or at least does not raise here. However, even the best Marxists should be read critically, given the disastrous results whenever Marxists have taken power.
For example, the concept of “hegemony,” as used by Gramsci, indicates that the capitalist class rules through dominating popular culture and ideology—and that the working class and oppressed need to reverse this, so that emancipatory culture and ideology becomes the “common sense” of the popular classes.
However, “hegemony” might also be interpreted with authoritarian implications, implying that a minority which thinks it knows the Truth should seek to dominate popular consciousness. In fact, Gramsci was a Leninist, an advocate of a centralized vanguard party. The party, in his conception, aimed to take power through a new state, presumably in the interests of the working class. In the factional conflicts within the Communist International and the Italian Communist Party, Gramsci took the side of Stalin (Chiaradia 2013).
“Hegemony” may also be interpreted as a reformist strategy. If we focus predominantly on the cultural and ideological power of the ruling class, this may lead to downplaying its economic power (the use of unemployment and insecurity to discipline the working class) and the armed power of its state. The police and military do not usually interfere directly in politics, but they are always in the background, to be used in a crisis (again: as in the destruction of the Occupy encampments). This can lead militants to emphasize political maneuvering and cultural enlightenment, and to ignore hard power, confrontation, and the nature of the state. In fact, after World War II, the Italian Communist Party, as well as later “Eurocommunist” parties, followed reformist strategies while claiming to be inspired by Gramsci.
None of this should prevent people from learning whatever they can from Gramsci’s work. (See Anderson 1977.) But they should view it critically.Hope for the Future
Jonathan Smucker expects continuing difficulties and crises in society to create openings for popular movements, in various ways and on various issues. “A left hegemonic project will become a realistic possibility in the decades ahead.” (255) “The signs are all around us that such a progressive populist alignment is coming into being.” (247) I think this perspective is likely. I also agree with Smucker that radicals need to prepare for this, to think about how to cope with the growing discontent, and to organize ourselves as part of organizing others. The self-organizing of radicals is part of the self-organizing of popular movements.
However, he ignores some of the dangers involved. Liberals, reformists, and those establishment allies Smucker wants to look for, will aim to keep the “populist” movements within respectable and limited bounds—that is, to keep them ineffective. Revolutionary anarchists and other libertarian socialists need to build a militant, radical, left wing of the movements (especially the labor movement with its potential strategic power). They need to oppose (to seek hegemony over) those who withdraw into self-satisfied isolation, but also to oppose those who are willing to accept the limitations of capitalism and its state.
In the front of this book, his anarchist publishers, the AK Press Collective, have a statement. Probably referring to his electoralism and similar aspects of his strategy, they write, “Smucker’s personal politics sometimes include strategies for social change that AK Press doesn’t advocate, but we think the ideas he presents will be useful to a range of strategic approaches….”
As did AK Press, I find this a useful and interesting book. It raises insightful criticisms of some anarchists and others. It proposes programmatic suggestions, some of which I think are valuable from a revolutionary view— and some of which I think are wrong (reformist) but worth thinking through as he presents them.References
Anderson, Perry (1977). “The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci.”
New Left Review.
Chiaradia, John (2013). “Amadeo Bordiga and the Myth of Antonio Gramsci.”
Krul, Matthijs (2011). “What We Can Learn From Hal Draper.”
Parker, Mike, & Gruelle, Martha (1999). Democracy is Power; Rebuilding Unions for the Bottom Up. Detroit: A Labor Notes Book.
Price, Wayne (2016). “In Defense of Revolutionary Class-Struggle Anarchism.” Anarkismo.
Price, Wayne (2015a). “Response to Crimethinc’s ‘Why We Don’t Make Demands’.” Anarkismo.
Price, Wayne (2015b). “The Reversed Revolutions of David Graeber:
Review of David Graeber, Revolutions in Reverse.” Anarkismo.
Price, Wayne (2009). “The Two Main Trends in Anarchism.” Anarkismo
Price, Wayne (2006). “Confronting the Question of Power; Should the Oppressed Take Power?” Anarkismo.
Smucker, Jonathan M. (2017). Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals. Chico CA: AK Press.*written for www.Anarkismo.net
Tags: wayne pricereviewthe strugglehopestrategyorganizationdemocracyliberalismcategory: Essays
From Plain Words
The Winter 2017/2018 issue of Plain Words is here! This time around, we present articles on anarchist prisoners and grand jury resistance, social media and television as obstacles to revolt, local eco-action, animal resistance to techno-society, and memory as a weapon.
– “Mirror, Kaleidoscope, Dagger: What is Anarchism?”
– Solidarity with Michael Kimble
– “Fuck Your Selfie: On the Spectacle of Resistance from Bloomington to Hamburg”
– “Destitution & Trolling”
– Solidarity with Grand Jury Resisters
– “Good TV as a Roadblock to Becoming Ungovernable”
– To a Trodden Pansy: Remembering Louis Lingg
– Night Owls Disrupt Yellowwood State Forest Timber Sale
– Deer: 1, Computers: 0
– Black December
From e-flux - by Suely Rolnik
It is always a question of freeing life wherever it is imprisoned, or of tempting it into an uncertain combat.
—Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, 19911
The exhaustion of natural resources is probably much less advanced than the exhaustion of subjective resources, of vital resources, that is afflicting our contemporaries. If so much satisfaction is derived from surveying the devastation of the environment it’s largely because this veils the frightening ruin of subjectivities. Every oil spill, every sterile plain, every species extinction is an image of our souls in rags, a reflection of our lack of world, of our intimate impotence to inhabit it.
—The Invisible Committee, 20142
The world is in convulsion, and so are we. We are taken by a malaise, comprised of a mix of sensations. A dread in the face of the sinister landscape brought about by the rise of reactive forces everywhere, whose level of violence and barbarity reminds us of the worst moments in history. Along with fear, we are also taken by a perplexity in the face of another phenomenon, simultaneous with the first: the takeover of worldwide power by the capitalist system in its new version—financialized and neoliberal—which extends its colonial project to its ultimate limits, its globalitarian realization.
At first glance, the simultaneity of these two phenomena seems paradoxical, which blurs our comprehension and leaves us confused: the high degree of complexity and perverse refinement proper to the neoliberal way of life is light-years ahead of the narrow-minded archaism of the brute forces of this new conservatism. They are symptoms of radically different reactive forces, originating in distinct historical moments, coexisting in our contemporaneity. But after the initial shock, we understand that neoliberalism needs these rude subjectivities to do the dirty work of destroying all the achievements of democratic, republican culture, dissolving its imaginary and eradicating from the scene its protagonists—including the left in all its nuances, but not only. Lacking moral limits of any kind, reactive subjectivities fulfill their task at a dizzying speed and with intense violence—as soon as we recognize one of their coups, another has just happened. Carrying out this task gives them a perverse narcissistic juissance to the point of being pathetic. The ground is prepared for a frictionless and unencumbered free flow of transnational capital.
Added to the fear and astonishment, there is a deep frustration with the recent dissolution of several leftist governments throughout the world, especially in Latin America—which, not by chance, happens simultaneously with the rise of reactive forces of conservatism and neoliberalism, temporarily united. Such frustration mobilizes the traumatic memory of the unfortunate fate of twentieth-century revolutions. A state of alert settles into our subjectivity, as when the scarcity of essential resources exceeds a limit, putting life itself at risk. These are traumatic situations before which we either succumb (a pathological response that saps our vital potency) or widen the horizon of our gaze, which gives us more precision in deciphering the violence and inventing ways of fighting it (a response which preserves our vital potency, and even intensifies it, in certain cases). In the moments when, in the face of the trauma that we are experiencing, the second response wins, we can see an insurmountable limit against which left-wing projects stumble, especially institutional ones. Such a view imposes on us the task of problematizing this limit, in order to create the conditions of its overcoming.
First of all, we are forced to recognize that this barrier is not located only outside the territory of the left, imposed by adverse forces that are external to it. In fact, it is chiefly located inside the left’s own territory, whose horizon ends at the borders of the macropolitical sphere. This is the sphere of the shapes of a world, and its own modes of existance: the positions and functions set out in the social map, the modes of relation between them, as well as their codes and their representations. As the left-wing acts only in this sphere, its territory is confined to the dominant form of the world in which it has its origin and unfoldings: the colonial-capitalistic3 world. The perspective guiding the resistance of the left remains thus trapped inside the logic of the very regime that it (we) wants to overcome. Keeping this in mind, it is not surprising that left-wing actions are not only unable to fight the colonial-capitalistic regime, but also result in its dreary reproduction.
It is indisputable that within this regime, the left-wing positions are the fairest, because in different ways and to different degrees the left seeks a less asymmetrical distribution of places—not only in the political arena, but also in the social and economic ones—as well as a state that supports this extension of equality. If this fight is undoubtedly indispensable and has an undeniable value, the problem is that it leaves out the microsphere: the sphere of unconscious formations in the social field, to which corresponds a certain dominant politics of subjectivation and its respective politics of desire, with which any regime, of whatever kind, acquires its existential consistency, and without which it couldn’t be sustained.
Even when the left, especially the institutional left, talks about modes of existence, it tends to do so only from a macropolitical perspective. The left wing thinks of the oppressed as identitarian entities and tends to crystallize them, neutralizing the creating power (potency) of their subjectivity, thereby preventing this “creating power” from fulfilling its function: to respond to the need for change that emerges in the relational fabric of collective life. Worser still is when the focus is on groups of disadvantaged people who don’t fit into the category of the “worker”—the identitarian place where the oppressed are confined in the lefts imaginary, reduced to class relations. The lefts tend to fetishize these people or even to render them folkloric, giving to these figures turned into caricatures a lot in the official map of democracy, which will only allow access to civil rights. This is the central goal of the lefts resistence: what moves them in this operation is the an urge to promote the “inclusion” of such groups into the existing map, resulting in their submissive adaptation to the hegemonic mode of subjectivation. That is the case, for example, of the lefts approach towards indigenous peoples in Brazil. This focus on mere inclusion suggests us that left-wing not only assumes the dominant mode of existence as its reference, but also considers it as “the” sole and universal reference, denying any alterity. The consequence is that they lose the crucial opportunity to inhabit the relational fabric woven by these different modes of existence and, above all, to sustain its possible shifting effects that could render void the dominant cartography. More worryingly, when such effects happen and new modes of existence emerge within collective life, they are read by the left-wing through the same lens, and tend to be similarly confined to identitarian entities. This is the case, for example, with the current movements that disrupt dominant notions of gender, sexuality, race, etc. The singularization processes underway in these insurrections are ignored, thereby neutralizing their vital impulse for transmuting the dominant modes of subjectivation and the changes of the individual and collective forms of existence this impulse could unleash in such cartograpy. In short, what is ignored and neutralized is their strength for micropolitical resistance. Although some left-wing groups recognize these movements, their readings tend to reduce them to the issue of inequality, narrowing the focus of these uprisings to the class struggle. This persistent reduction of the vision and modes of action of the left to the macropolitical sphere is responsible for the left’s helplessness in the face of the challenges of the present, which keeps it (the left) imprisoned in sterile academic lucubrations on democracy. In such lucubrations the lefts insist on “demo” (people in Greek) in the notion of “democracy”, which they translate as “governement of the people”, denying a fondamental detail of its original sens in Greek which gives it the meaning of “self- governement” of the people. This leads to reduce the discussion on the current crisis of democracy to the question of how to reform the state machine in order to better represent the people.
The dreary fate of left resistance and the repeated frustration it provokes in us, added to the confusion and the fear mobilized by the current state of things, is what leads us today to become aware of the absolute limitations of the macropolitical horizon on the leftist territory. Here and there erupt insurrections with new strategies in response to the violence against life, in all its nuances, for which the pair right/left is no longer a sufficient operator to delineate the forces at stake and to hit the strugle target. Isn’t the presence of micropolitical insurrection what surprises us in the new resistance movements bursting everywhere mainly in the younger generations— especially in the metropolitan suburbs, in particular among the women, black, and LGBTQ people—, as in the indigenous comunities? Isn’t this precisely what fascinates us in these movements, despite the difficulty of deciphering and naming it? It is not exactly such movements that are preventing us from succumbing to the melancholic and fatalistic paralysis that would thrown us into the bleak landscape that surrounds us today? In these territories-in-formation which are gradually being populated, there is an effective change of the politics of subjectivation. Their horizon expands the reach of our vision, allowing us to foresee the micropolitical sphere. How does the violence of colonial capital operates in this sphere?Tags: insurrectionsubjectivitypoliticalcategory: Essays
By Karen Savage. Crossposted from Climate Liability News.
Exxon’s quest to convince a federal judge that two state attorneys general are stifling their right to free speech is proving to be no easy task.
In a hearing Thursday in New York, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni said the oil giant’s rationale involved “wild leaps of logic” in claiming New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey are infringing on the company’s First Amendment rights by pursuing climate fraud investigations.var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12407'; Click here for reuse options! Tags: ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)ExxonKnewMaura HealeyEric Schneiderman
Received and translated by Insurrection News
With the anarchist Sebastián Oversluij in our memory, four years since his death in combat in Chile during an attempted bank expropriation in December 2013.
With swollen hearts, remembering the anarchist comrade Alexandros Grigoropoulos, seven years since he was murdered in Exarcheia, Greece by police bullets in the year 2008.
For a Black December!
While democratic and civilized totalitarianism advances, expanding its control and surveillance mechanisms, devastating territories, attacking liberated spaces and hunting down insurgents throughout the world, imposing punishments and long sentences of imprisonment against the enemies of domination.
While in Italy our comrades are launching blasphemous attacks against the judges and reaffirming their anarchist convictions during the trial by the repressive operation Scripta Manent.
While thousands of prisoners in struggle are mobilizing in Greece in response to the attempts of the power to asphyxiate prisoners with a new penitentiary code.
While in Chile the power tries to strike its blow of revenge demanding long sentences in the trial against the anarchists Juan Flores, Nataly Casanova and Enrique Durán.
While in Argentina where you can still feel the rage and pain from the murder of comrade Santiago Maldonado, and then the police murdered the Mapuche warrior Rafael Nahuel while the government militarizes its territories in preparation for the next G20 summit.
While in Brazil, police intelligence tries to halt the anarchist struggle via Operation Erebo, accusing comrades, anarchist spaces and libraries of being behind the beautiful incendiary flashes that in recent years have spread in an intentional way against political party headquarters, police barracks and various power structures.
While all this is happening, in various parts of the globe anarchic minds explore practical and offensive responses to the constant aggression that represents the very existence of power and authority.
From the dignity of the prisoners struggling in the prisons of Bulgaria, to the burning cars in France and the call to action in the Czech Republic. From Belarus to Australia, from Mexico to Belgium and Germany. From Bolivia to the United Kingdom, Finland, Russia, Indonesia, Spain and the whole world, the yearnings for freedom are expressed, shouted, conspired and acted upon without bosses or hierarchies, opening the way to anarchy here and now.
That’s why December continues to be an invitation for insurgent communication via the wild heat of the offensive action against power.
For all our imprisoned and persecuted comrades. For all those that rise up and take action against domination by attacking their structures and their representatives.
May solidarity with our comrades become action. May the memory of Sebastián Oversluij and Alexandros Grigoropoulos ignite barricades and feed fires and explosions against power and their defenders. Let the enemy feel the siege of revolt in every neighbourhood, in every cell and on every corner.
For a Black December, long live anarchy!Tags: Black Decembercategory: International
The US has a long history of educating economically vulnerable children in completely different ways than children who are wealthy, says Noliwe Rooks, author of Cutting School. The racial and economic segregation of schools is actually a lucrative business for companies that create these separate and unequal educational experiments with taxpayer funds and very little oversight, she explains.
Protesters demonstrate as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on "A Conversation On Empowering Parents" on September 28, 2017, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. DeVos was met by protesters both outside the venue and inside during her remarks. (Photo: Paul Marotta / Getty Images)
Why are schools in the United States more segregated than they have been since the mid-20th century? In Cutting School, a book that Naomi Klein calls "astounding" and Bill Ayers calls "smart" and "wise," Noliwe Rooks delivers a timely indictment of the corporate takeover and dismantling of public education. Order your copy today by making a donation to Truthout!
Noliwe Rooks argues that educational apartheid has existed throughout the history of the United States, and continues to this day. Not only is this segregated education an abomination, but it also has been a revenue source for white school districts, entrepreneurs and even philanthropy. Rooks sees hope for change in the resistance of young students who are demanding accountability.
Mark Karlin: How has "educational apartheid" changed, and how is it still the same in the United States?
Noliwe Rooks: When I first thought about writing Cutting School I planned to begin in the 21st century. I knew that the racial and economic segregation I was seeing in this century wasn't new, but I thought that the role that philanthropies, corporations, business leaders and politicians played -- in shaping how and why so many of our children today attend schools that are overwhelmingly segregated and that deliver idiosyncratic, often experimental educational forms that are very different from those wealthy students enjoy, and with teachers and curriculum and disciplinary methods that could only be found in poor schools -- was somehow a sign of our particular time. I didn't understand that there was a disturbing continuity.
Noliwe Rooks. (Photo: Cornell Marketing)However, as I completed the research and writing for the book, I found that in this country we have had and continue to have a stubborn insistence on educating children who are economically vulnerable in completely different ways than we do the children who are wealthy. We try to convince students who are not wealthy that certain forms of education (such as those that are vocational in nature, or that include art, music and support for different learning styles) would work best for them. In this way, educational apartheid has remained constant.
At the same time, children of color, or poor children who are somehow able to live in school districts and neighborhoods that have high performing schools can actually attend them. So, that's a definite change. The late poet, Amiri Baraka, referred to [the US] as a "changing same." I think in many ways that construct aptly describes our nation's educational system relative to students who are poor and of color. Educational apartheid is a changing same.
How is capitalism related to the "segrenomics" of education in the US?
Segrenomics is a term I came up with to describe what I saw in so many discrete educational periods in [the US] where there was a consistent cycle for plundering funds supposedly for our nation's most vulnerable students and then hoarding those same funds to educate students who were either wealthy, or white and often times ... both.
I began to see that the separately unequal educations that define our nation were not merely the product of an apartheid imagination designed to educate different segments of our society into what a scholar named Horace Mann Bond termed the American social order, but was also a lucrative business model that from the 19th century on has aided the financial bottom lines of wealthy businesses. Looked at with that understanding, I began to see that the thicket of separate and unequal educational experiments described in the book (vouchers, charter schools, alternatively certified teachers and superintendents), many of which failed to educate the children they were created for, simply would not have been proposed if there was no money to be made from them.
Segrenomics explains how high levels of racial and economic segregation become a business strategy for companies providing educational strategies designed for children who are poor. It is a specific form of capitalism that relies on segregation to do its work.
In what way does this play itself out in white philanthropy and Black education?
Since the earliest days of taxpayer-supported public education, there have been white foundations and philanthropic organizations that in the south joined with white elected officials to propose schools that offered unequal educations (although in the context of a situation where education is either separate or nonexistent, many people in poor communities will choose separate every single time)."The folks running these foundations may think they are doing good in the world but often they are segregation's bankers."
One of the most impactful was called the Rosenwald Fund and was started by the child of Jewish immigrants who rose to become the president of Sears, Roebuck [and Company]. His name was Julius Rosenwald. Rosenwald used his fortune to aid in building over 5,000 schools for Black children in the rural south between 1912 and 1960 when the Fund ran out of money.
The Fund was a matching grant and the way it worked was, if a community wanted to apply to the Rosenwald Fund for support they first, as a community, had to raise $500. Then they had to find land on which to build the school and often had to deed that land to county educational officials. Then the community, many of whom were often sharecroppers, had to find the wood and other materials to build the school. Then they had to find the labor to do the work of building the schools.
Once all of that was done, the Rosenwald Fund would contribute the $500 in matching grant fees. County educational officials benefited financially because they got the deed to [the] land. The philanthropy benefited because, starting in 1917, there were huge financial benefits for charitable deductions. State coffers benefited because Black communities were often required to pay an extra tax to educate their children (many former slaveholding states forbade using "white" tax dollars to educate Black children so those communities had to pay to educate white children and then again to educate their own).
The only reason any of this was necessary was because white legislatures simply didn't want to spend the federal money sent South to educate Black children. They took it for the education of white children.
Today, we see deep-pocketed foundations continue this pattern, in that they will fund 90/90/90 charter school chains (schools with 90 percent students of color, 90 percent students who fall below federal poverty levels and 90 percent failing to meet educational standards), contribute to Teach for America (which often charges highly segregated school systems a finder's fee of between $2,000-$5,000 per teacher to provide it with teachers), or fund experiments with educational vouchers that often enrich middle and upper middle class white parents at the same time that they disadvantage low-income students of color. The folks running these foundations may think they are doing good in the world but often they are segregation's bankers.
Where does the wrecking ball to public education, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, fit in this current privatization of public education?
The first point I want to make about Betsy DeVos is that she holds extreme versions of educational views that are centrist in terms of what billionaires, millionaires and the political and financial elite believe. She is extreme in that she does not believe in "government schools" as she calls them and thinks that the government should just give parents educational dollars for them to go off and find whatever type of educational experience they think is best for their kids. She literally doesn't believe in the educational system that she was installed to run, or perhaps dismantle, depending on how you want to look at it.
She's extreme in that, but in general, elected officials are sort of on this educational spectrum and believe we should make it easier for lightly regulated educational businesses to take a bigger and bigger share of the $500-$600 billion-dollar educational market, which is comprised of taxpayer funds often with very little oversight. Schools almost function like ATM machines for folks who have figured out how to use them that way. We have not heard Betsy DeVos offer any type of critique at all about what is often just outright theft."All over the country young people are demanding more from their educational experiences. They are winning."
Taken as a whole, the education system is comprised of a majority of students who are of color and fall below federal set poverty levels. Those then are the students most negatively impacted by DeVos' failure of oversight.
Describe your concept of "stealing school."
Over the past five or so years, we have seen a real uptick in the numbers of parents who are trying to escape their public-school systems, which are populated with low-performing charter schools and dysfunctional and low-achieving traditional public schools. What they do is enroll their children in higher-performing schools outside of their districts using the addresses of friends or family. Many districts across the country have begun to hire private investigators to surveil their students and when they discover that the students are enrolled in schools outside of the district in which they live, they are arresting the parents and charging them with educational theft, or stealing school.Truthout Progressive Pick
"Essential reading... for anyone who cares about the well-being of our children.” -- Danny GloverClick here now to get the book!
The dollar figures involved often make these charges felonies and so when convicted, these parents are faced with felony convictions on their records that can preclude them from voting, and make it more difficult for them to get jobs. When wealthy parents are caught doing the same thing, they are never sent to jail. This is one of the ways that we can really see how education has become a commodity. We are willing to send parents to jail for wanting the same type of education for their kids as wealthy parents get. We simply do not believe that economically vulnerable children deserve the same type of education.
What should we be aiming for in terms of resistance?
One of the things that I learned writing this book is that all over the country young people are demanding more from their educational experiences. They are winning. They are pushing back against abusive disciplinary practices, against overtesting and against narrowing educational practices and experimental educational forms.
I end the book with the life stories of two of my former students (one from Princeton, another from Cornell) who went into the business of education following their graduations from college. Their words and experiences end the book, not mine. They believe communities need to be consulted about the education of their children and not have outsiders come in and make top-down decisions. They believe that teaching children about politics, sexism, racism and identity is as important for children of color in struggling schools as is science and math. They believe that children always need to be treated with respect -- and that how we discipline in schools matters as much as if and why we discipline. I think that resistance looks like us following where these young people want to lead us.
Jeff Sessions's Constant Lying Is Being Used to Help the Criminal Defense of the White Cop Who Murdered Walter Scott
People join hands in prayer as they visit a memorial set up on the site where Walter Scott was killed on April 11, 2015, in North Charleston, South Carolina. Scott was killed on April 4 by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop. (Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)You can fuel thoughtful, authority-challenging journalism: Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout.
The execution of Walter Scott by South Carolina police officer Michael Slager was an unambiguous example of racist police abuse. Cell phone footage clearly shows Slager, who is white, pumping eight bullets into the retreating figure of Scott, who was black, as he fled from the officer. The distance between the two at the moment Slager began firing on the unarmed Scott appears to be anywhere from 18 to 20 feet, much too far for Scott to have been any kind of credible danger to the officer. Yet Slager falsely reported that Scott ran at him and attempted to wrestle away his Taser, causing the officer to feel "threatened" and necessitating use of lethal force.
Thanks to the emergence of bystander video proving Slager's story of self-defense was a lie, federal prosecutors have charged the ex-officer with obstruction of justice, which Slager is attempting to beat by relying on the case of another well-known liar: Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Slager's defense team is pointing to Sessions' constantly shifting and contradictory congressional testimony to show that their client suffers from the same condition that makes it so hard for the Trump administration official to remember the truth.
The absurd defense is explained in court papers recently filed by attorneys for Slager, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating Scott's civil rights in May. This is basically a last-ditch effort by federal officials to get any jail time for Slager, whom a South Carolina jury refused to convict on charges of murder last year despite an abundance of evidence. The new tack being taken by his legal team is to insist that Slager's falsified description of his encounter with Scott -- which is directly contradicted by cell phone video -- wasn't motivated by self-interest or his desire to avoid jail time. Instead, Slager's lawyers argue, those seeming falsehoods are a natural consequence of the pressure the officer was under. "A Swiss cheese memory is a symptom of stress," Slager's lawyers wrote in court papers, "not an indicator of lying."
They go on to compare Slager's truthiness problem with that of Sessions, who over multiple congressional hearings used the phrase "I don't recall" more than 85 times in response to questions. The attorney general has also backtracked on answers he previously provided under oath, miraculously and quite suddenly remembering details, specifically those that potentially absolve him of guilt, when presented with evidence. After multiple tweaks to his story about Trump campaign officials' contact with Russian operatives, including denials about taking part in a meeting where campaign aide George Papadopoulos had suggested brokering a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin, Sessions newly recalled that he had, in fact, been involved in the meeting after his memory was rejiggered by "news reports."
"I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting," Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee in November. "After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter."
It's curious that Sessions, as writer Eric Levitz notes, "has no clear memory of the meeting, but has a vivid recollection of behaving admirably during it." Despite the sheer unbelievability of his ever-changing testimony, the attorney general insisted his new insights weren't straight-up textbook perjury, but an honest failure to retain information, which seems like a problematic issue for a man who heads a department dedicated to getting the facts straight.
"I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied," Session explained during a November hearing, chalking at least some of his forgetfulness up to the hectic pace of the Trump campaign, "a form of chaos every day from day one." Sessions added that his "story has never changed. I've always told the truth. And I've answered every question to the best of my recollection and I will continue to do so today."
Slager's lawyers are now seizing on that claim for their own client, essentially stating that if Sessions wants us to believe the nonstop speed of the campaign trail served as a mind eraser, murdering a man in cold blood would be at least as hard on one's ability to remember events with clarity. His defense team wrote:
Unlike Slager, who had been in what he perceived as a life and death struggle before he made his statements, Sessions had time to prepare for his congressional testimony, yet still often got it wrong. Why? According to Sessions, he was working in chaotic conditions created by the Trump campaign. This was undoubtedly stressful, though not as stressful as having shot a man to death, or dealing with the aftermath of that, or facing the death penalty or life in prison. As Sessions made clear in his statement, a failure to recall, or an inaccurate recollection, does not a liar make.
America's criminal justice system has always been something of a joke for black folks, who are consistently denied a presumption of innocence, fairness in sentencing or equal treatment under the law. Black victims of crime rarely receive justice, and when those crimes -- including unjustifiable murder -- are committed by cops, punitive action is the exception to the rule. But in Slager's "Sessions defense," we see the consequence of having a division charged with pursuing truth be led by a liar whose dishonesty is so transparent he serves as fodder for late-night talk show monologues and comedy skits.
Michelle Mark, writing at Business Insider, notes that Slager's defense is "somewhat of a taunt to the Justice Department" tasked with handling his prosecution. Each time DOJ officials "call Slager a liar, they could risk appearing to call Sessions, the head of their department, a liar."
While the Trump administration simultaneously talks out of one side of its mouth about its commitment to "law and order," it's become so renowned for its baldfaced lies that criminals can now almost dare it to challenge their own made-up stories. A top-down system of liars, led by a president who spews deception anytime his lips are moving, creates an environment where the very concept of truth is murky and elusive. It's horrifying enough that the DOJ is being transformed by Sessions et al. to achieve his own anti-black and brown political and ideological agenda. The Trump campaign's dedication to establishing its own alternative truth holds genuinely terrifying implications for the future, and even less hope of justice, particularly for the already marginalized.
"Like Sessions, Slager never lied or misled anyone," defense attorneys note in court files. "Like Sessions, he answered the questions that were asked. When he had his memory refreshed, he added the refreshed recollection to his testimony. When he failed to remember certain items, it can be attributed to the stress or chaos of the event during which the memory should have been formed."
The documents include examples from Sessions' sworn testimony of moments when his memory supposedly failed him. Those citations, defense lawyers indicate, show just how much Slager and Sessions have in common. They're basically -- I'm paraphrasing here -- two lying, racist peas in a pod. "The text…[is] particularly apropos to describe memory's imperfections," the court papers note, "and, in fact, could have been spoken by Slager himself."
President Trump makes his way to board Air Force One in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as he heads with the first lady to Israel on May 22, 2017. (Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images)
The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia -- a move that critics say could upend decades of US policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East.
The Saudi government wants nuclear power to free up more oil for export, but current and former American officials suspect the country's leaders also want to keep up with the enrichment capabilities of their rival, Iran.
Saudi Arabia needs approval from the US in order to receive sensitive American technology. Past negotiations broke down because the Saudi government wouldn't commit to certain safeguards against eventually using the technology for weapons.
Now the Trump administration has reopened those talks and might not insist on the same precautions. At a Senate hearing on Nov. 28, Christopher Ford, the National Security Council's senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, disclosed that the US is discussing the issue with the Saudi government. He called the safeguards a "desired outcome" but didn't commit to them.
Abandoning the safeguards would set up a showdown with powerful skeptics in Congress. "It could be a hell of a fight," one senior Democratic congressional aide said.
The idea of sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia took an unlikely path to the highest levels of government. An eccentric inventor and a murky group of retired military brass -- most of them with plenty of medals but no experience in commercial nuclear energy -- have peddled various incarnations of the plan for years.
Many US officials didn't think the idea was serious, reputable or in the national interest. "It smelled so bad I said I never wanted to be anywhere close to that," one former White House official said. But the proponents persisted, and finally found an opening in the chaotic early days of the Trump administration, when advisers Michael Flynn and Tom Barrack championed the idea.
The Saudis have a legitimate reason to want nuclear power: Their domestic energy demand is growing rapidly, and burning crude oil is an expensive and inefficient way to generate electricity.
There's also an obvious political motive. Many experts believe the Saudis aren't currently trying to develop a nuclear bomb but want to lay the groundwork to do so in case Iran develops one. "There's no question: Why do you have a nuclear reactor in the Persian Gulf? Because you want to have some kind of nuclear contingency capability," said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
A Saudi spokesperson provided a written statement noting that the country's electricity needs have grown "due to our population and industrial growth." The statement noted that "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, hence is diversifying its energy mix to serve its domestic needs in accordance with international laws and standards. The Kingdom has been actively exploring diverse energy sources for nearly the last decade to meet growing domestic demand."
The technology for nuclear weapons is different from that for nuclear energy, but there is some overlap. The fuel for a power plant can be used for a bomb if it's enriched to a much higher level. Also, the waste from a power plant can be reprocessed into weapons grade material. That's why nonproliferation experts generally prefer that countries that use nuclear power buy fuel on the international market instead of doing their own enrichment and reprocessing.
In 2008, the Saudi government made a nonbinding commitment not to pursue enrichment and reprocessing. They then entered negotiations with the US for a pact on peaceful nuclear cooperation, known as a 123 agreement, after a section of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. A 123 agreement is a prerequisite for receiving American technology.
The talks stalled a few years later because the Saudi government backed away from its pledge not to pursue enrichment and reprocessing, according to current and former officials. "They wouldn't commit, and it was a sticking point," said Max Bergmann, a former special assistant to the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security at the time those negotiations occurred.
US officials feared a domino effect. Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt restrict those countries from receiving the most sensitive technologies unless the US allows them in another Middle Eastern country. "If we accepted that from the Saudis, nobody else will give us legally binding commitment," a former State Department official said.
During that same period, the Obama administration was pursuing an agreement to stop Iran's progress toward building a nuclear bomb while letting the country keep some domestic enrichment capabilities it had already achieved. The Saudi government publicly supported the Iran deal but privately made clear they wanted to match Iran's technology. A former official summarized the Saudi position as, "We're going to develop this kind of technology if they have this kind of technology."
The Obama administration held firm with the Saudis because it's one thing to cap nuclear technology where it already exists, but it's longstanding US policy not to spread the technology to new countries. As Saudi Arabia and Iran -- ideological and religious opponents -- increasingly squared off in a battle for political sway in the Middle East, Republicans argued that the Obama administration had it backwards: It was enshrining hostile Iran's ability to enrich uranium while denying the same to America's ally Saudi Arabia.
One such critic of Obama's Iran policy was Michael Flynn, a lieutenant general who was forced out as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014. Flynn quickly took up a variety of consulting assignments and joined some corporate boards. One of the former was an advisory position for a company called ACU Strategic Partners, which, according to a later financial disclosure, paid Flynn more than $5,000.
Flynn was one of many retired military officers whom ACU recruited. ACU's chief was a man named Alex Copson, who is most often described in press accounts as a "colorful British-American dealmaker." Copson reportedly made a fortune inventing a piece of diving equipment, may or may not have been a bass player in the band Iron Butterfly, and has been touting wildly ambitious nuclear-power plans since the 1980s. (He didn't answer repeated requests for comment.)
By 2015, Copson was telling people he had a group of US, European, Arab and Russian companies that would build as many as 40 nuclear reactors in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Copson's company pitched the Obama administration, but officials figured he didn't really have the backers he claimed. "They would say 'We have Rolls-Royce on board,' and then someone would ask Rolls-Royce and they would say, 'No, we took a meeting and nothing happened,'" recalled a then-White House official.
In his role with ACU, Flynn flew to Egypt to convince officials there to hold off on a Russian offer (this one unrelated to ACU) to build nuclear power plants. Flynn tried to persuade the Egyptian government to consider Copson's proposal instead, according to documents released by Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Flynn also tried to persuade the Israeli government to support the plan and spoke at a conference in Saudi Arabia. (The trip would later present legal problems for Flynn because he didn't report contacts with foreign officials on his application to renew his security clearance, according to Cummings. Cummings referred the information to Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Trump's associates and Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Flynn's lawyer declined to comment.)
Copson's outfit eventually splintered. A retired admiral named Michael Hewitt, who was to head up the security services part of the project, struck out on his own in mid-2016. Flynn went with him.
Hewitt's new company is called IP3 International, which is short for "International Peace Power & Prosperity." IP3 signed up other prominent national security alumni including Gens. Keith Alexander, Jack Keane and James Cartwright, former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, Bush Homeland Security adviser Fran Townsend, and Reagan National Security adviser Robert "Bud" McFarlane.
IP3's idea was a variation on ACU's. Hewitt swapped out one notional foreign partner for another (Russia was out, China was in), then later shifted to an all-American approach. That idea resonated with the US nuclear-construction industry, which never recovered from the Three Mile Island disaster in the 1970s and was looking to new markets overseas.
But nuclear exports are tightly controlled because the technology is potentially so dangerous. A 123 agreement is only the first step for a foreign country that wants to employ US nuclear-power technology. In addition, the Energy Department has to approve the transfer of technology related to nuclear reactors and fuel. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission licenses reactor equipment, and the Commerce Department reviews exports for equipment throughout the rest of the power plant.
IP3 -- whose sole project to date is the Saudi nuclear plan -- never went through those normal channels. Instead, the company went straight to the top.
At the start of the Trump administration, IP3 found an ally in Tom Barrack, the new president's close friend and informal adviser and an ultra-wealthy investor in his own right. During the campaign, Barrack wrote a series of white papers proposing a new approach to the Middle East in which economic cooperation would theoretically reduce the conditions for breeding terrorism and lead to improved relations.
Barrack wasn't familiar with nuclear power as an option for the Middle East until he heard from Bud McFarlane. McFarlane, 80, is most remembered for his role in the defining scandal of the Reagan years: secretly selling arms to Iran and using the money to support Nicaraguan rebels. He pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress but was pardoned by George H.W. Bush.
Nevertheless, Barrack was dazzled by McFarlane and his IP3 colleagues. "I was like a kid in a candy shop -- these guys were all generals and admirals," Barrack said in an interview. "They found an advocate in me in saying I was keen on trying to establish a realignment of US business interests with the Gulf's business interests."
McFarlane followed up the meeting by emailing Flynn in late January, according to six people who read the message or were told about it. McFarlane attached two documents. One outlined IP3's plan, describing it as consistent with Trump's philosophy. The second was a draft memo for the president to sign that would officially endorse the plan and instruct his cabinet secretaries to implement it. Barrack would take charge of the project as the interagency coordinator. Barrack had discussions about becoming ambassador to Egypt or a special envoy to the Middle East but never committed to such a role. (McFarlane disputed that account but repeatedly declined to specify any inaccuracies. IP3 declined to comment on the memos.)
Flynn, now on the receiving end of IP3's lobbying, told his staff to put together a formal proposal to present to Trump for his signature, according to current and former officials.
The seeming end run sparked alarm. National Security Council staff brought the proposal to the attention of the agency's lawyers, five people said, because they were concerned about the plan and how it was being advanced. Ordinarily, before presenting such a sensitive proposal to the president, NSC staff would consult with experts throughout government about practical and legal concerns. Bypassing those procedures raised the risks that private interests might use the White House to their own advantage, former officials said. "Circumventing that process has the ability not only to invite decisions that aren't fully vetted but that are potentially unwise and have the potential to put our interests and our people at risk," said Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and NSC spokesman.
Even after those concerns were raised, Derek Harvey, then the NSC's senior director for the Middle East, continued discussing the IP3 proposal with Barrack and his representative, Rick Gates, according to two people. Gates, a longtime associate of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, worked for Barrack on Trump's inaugural committee and then for Barrack's investment company, Colony NorthStar.
By then, Barrack was no longer considering a government position. Instead, he and Gates were seeking investment ideas based on the administration's Middle East policy. Barrack pondered the notion, for example, of buying a piece of Westinghouse, the bankrupt US manufacturer of nuclear reactors. (Harvey, now on the staff of the House intelligence committee, declined to comment through a spokesman. In October, Mueller charged Manafort and Gates with 12 counts including conspiracy against the US, unregistered foreign lobbying, and money laundering. They both pleaded not guilty. Gates' spokesman didn't answer requests for comment.)
Ultimately, it wasn't the NSC staff's concerns that stalled IP3's momentum. Rather, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior aide tasked with reviving a Middle East peace process, wanted to table the nuclear question in favor of simpler alliance-building measures with the Saudis, centered on Trump's visit in May, according to a person familiar with the discussions. (A spokesperson for Kushner, asked for comment, had not provided one at the time this article was published; we'll update the article if he provides one later.)
In recent months, the proposal has stirred back to life as the Saudi government kicked off a formal process to solicit bids for their first reactors. In October, the Saudis sent a request for information to the US, France, South Korea, Russia and China -- the strongest signal yet that they're serious about nuclear power.
The Saudi solicitation also gave IP3 the problem its solution was searching for. The company pivoted again, narrowing its pitch to organizing a consortium of US companies to compete for the Saudi tender. IP3 won't say which companies it has signed up. IP3 also won't discuss the fees it hopes to receive if it were part of a Saudi nuclear plan, but it's vying to supply cyber and physical site security for the plants. "IP3 has communicated its strategy to multiple government entities and policy makers in both the Obama and Trump administrations," the company said in a statement. "We view these meetings and any documents relating to them as private, and we won't discuss them."
The Saudi steps lit a fire under administration officials. Leading the charge is Rick Perry, the energy secretary who famously proposed eliminating the department and then admitted he didn't understand its function. (It includes dealing with nuclear power and weapons.) Perry had also heard IP3's pitch, a person familiar with the situation said. In September, Perry met with Saudi delegates to an international atomic energy conference and discussed energy cooperation, according to a photo posted on his Facebook page. Perry's spokeswoman didn't answer requests for comment.
Other steps followed. Soon after, a senior State Department official flew to Riyadh to restart formal 123 negotiations, according to an industry source. (A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment.) In November, Energy and State Department officials joined a commercial delegation to Abu Dhabi led by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's main lobby in Washington. Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Edward McGinnis said the administration wants to revitalize the US nuclear energy industry, including by pursuing exports to Saudi Arabia. The Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration and the Energy Department are organizing another industry visit in December to meet with Saudi officials, according to a notice obtained by ProPublica. And in the days before Thanksgiving, senior US officials from several agencies met at the White House to discuss the policy, according to current and former officials.
The Trump administration hasn't stated a position on whether it will let the Saudis have enrichment and reprocessing technology. An NSC spokesman declined to comment. But administration officials have begun sounding out advisers on how Congress might react to a deal that gives the Saudis enrichment and reprocessing, a person familiar with the discussions said.
Senators have started demanding answers. At the Nov. 28 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ford, the NSC nonproliferation official who has been nominated to lead the State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, testified that preliminary talks with the Saudis are underway but declined to discuss the details in public. As noted, Ford wouldn't commit to barring the Saudi government from obtaining enrichment and reprocessing technology. "It remains US policy, as it has been for some time, to seek the strongest possible nonproliferation protections in every instance," he told the senators. "It is not a legal requirement. It is a desired outcome." Ford added that the Iran deal makes it harder to insist on limiting other countries' capabilities.
Sen. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who led the questioning of Ford on this topic, seemed highly resistant to the idea of the US helping Saudi Arabia get nuclear technology. "If we continue down this pathway," he said, "then there's a recipe for disaster which we are absolutely creating ourselves." Markey also accused the administration of neglecting its statutory obligation to brief the committee on the negotiations. (The White House declined to comment.)
Any agreement, in this case with Saudi Arabia, would not require Senate approval. However, should an agreement be reached, Congress could kill the deal. The two houses would have 90 days to pass a joint resolution disapproving it. The committee's ranking Democrat, Ben Cardin, suggested they wouldn't accept a deal that lacked the same protections as the ones in the UAE's agreement. "If we don't draw a line in the Middle East, it's going to be all-out proliferation," he said. "We need to maintain the UAE's standards in our 123 agreements. There's just too many other countries that could start proliferating issues that could be against our national interest."
Bob Corker, the committee's chairman, has been a stickler on nonproliferation in the past; he criticized the Obama administration for not being tough enough. Corker isn't running for reelection and has criticized Trump for being immature and reckless in foreign affairs, so he's unlikely to shy away from a fight. (A spokesman declined to comment.) "The absence of a consistent policy weakens our nuclear nonproliferation efforts, and sends a mixed message to those nations we seek to prevent from gaining or enhancing such capability," Corker said at a hearing in 2014. "Which standards can we expect the administration to reach for negotiating new agreements with Jordan or Saudi Arabia?"
On Nov. 29, President Trump retweeted a series of videos that purported to depict violence committed by Muslims. They had originated from the account of a far-right British ultranationalist who had been convicted for harassing a Muslim. The backlash was swift, with British Prime Minister Theresa May saying "the President is wrong to have done this."
But Trump's retweeting of controversial (sometimes outright false) content is part of a pattern.February 20, 2016
Trump dismissed Stephanopoulos' question with "it was a retweet" -- as if to say that retweeting someone else's claim meant that he wasn't responsible for the content.
When pressed, Trump continued:
"I mean, let people make their own determination. I've never looked at it, George. I honestly have never looked at it. As somebody said, he's not [eligible]…and I retweet things and we start dialogue and it's very interesting."
It's a response that can be reduced to I'm not saying it, I'm just saying it.
As a scholar of American political rhetoric, I've previously written about the ways that Donald Trump's rhetorical style mirrors that of polarizing figures like George Wallace and Joseph McCarthy.
But it's becoming increasingly clear that what sets Trump apart is his reliance upon paralipsis, a device that enables him to publicly say things that he can later disavow -- without ever having to take responsibility for his words.Just Saying…
The art of rhetoric -- or persuasive communication -- can include any number of forms: speeches, essays, tweets, images, films and more.
Paralipsis (para, "side" and leipein, "to leave") is a Greek term that translates to "leave to the side." It's thought to be an ironic way for a speaker to say two things at once.
For example, say you wanted to imply that your coworker takes too many coffee breaks without actually accusing him wasting time at work. You might say something like, "I'm not saying that he drinks more coffee than anyone else in the office, but every time I go to the break room, he's in there." You might also shrug and make a "something seems kind of off" facial expression.
Paralipsis is a powerful rhetorical device because it can also allow someone to make a false accusation -- or spread a false rumor -- while skirting consequences.
And Trump has become a master at wielding this tool.
For example, after he was widely condemned for retweeting a graphic of homicide data delineated by race, FactCheck.org found that "almost every figure in the graphic is wrong." His response on the Bill O'Reilly Show was:
Bill, I didn't tweet, I retweeted somebody that was supposedly an expert, and it was also a radio show…am I gonna check every statistic? …All it was is a retweet. And it wasn't from me. It came out of a radio show, and other places…This was a retweet. And it comes from sources that are very credible, what can I tell you?
In other words: I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly used paralipsis to deflect criticism that he's courting white supremacists.
In January 2016, Trump retweeted a photoshopped image of Jeb Bush from a user with the handle WhiteGenocideTM. In response to the backlash he received for retweeting a white supremacist, Trump simply shrugged: "I don't know about retweeting. You retweet somebody and they turn out to be white supremacists. I know nothing about these groups that are supporting me."
Likewise, he blamed a faulty earpiece for his unwillingness to disavow David Duke and the KKK in a CNN interview:
I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don't know. I don't know -- did he endorse me, or what's going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.
I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
And when Gawker tricked Trump into retweeting a quote from Benito Mussolini during the campaign, his response was "What difference does it make whether it's Mussolini or somebody else? It's certainly a very interesting quote."Accountability and Responsibility
Certainly it's a good thing to "start dialogue." Trump knows that "interesting" content attracts retweets, followers, audiences and media attention.
However, there's danger in circulating accusations and rumors, even if the purpose is to "start dialogue." Research shows that once an accusation or a rumor begins to circulate, it's very difficult to retract. Often, a retraction or clarification doesn't receive as much attention as the initial accusation. Meanwhile, the mere act of retracting misinformation can reaffirm the deceptive assertions as facts, even after the clarification.
So what does it mean when a political figure gains a devoted following and rises to prominence -- yet consistently avoids taking responsibility for the content of his public messages?
Political theorists, rhetoricians and historians have grappled with this exact problem since the rise of the "demagogue" in Athens in 429 BC, when Pericles' death created a vacuum for "unofficial" leaders of the people to rise to power.
The danger, according to political scientist Ernest Barker, was that "such a leader -- having no official executive position -- could exercise initiative and determine policy without incurring political responsibility, since it was not his duty to execute the policy which he had induced the assembly to accept."
In the Greek context, Barker described the danger of demagogues who weren't tasked with implementing the policies for which they advocated. In our current political context, Trump can argue that he can't be held accountable because he wasn't the one who originally posted the tweet. He can shrug and claim that he's simply giving a voice to an idea.
In both cases, the defining feature of demagogues is their refusal to accept responsibility for their actions.
Yet Donald Trump (the television star) routinely fired people on his show "The Apprentice" for failing to take responsibility for their team's failures. And he's often given lectures on "responsibility" to his Twitter followers, like on February 14, 2013 when he invited his followers to "take responsibility for yourself -- it's a very empowering attitude."
To use the President's brand of paralipsis: I'm not saying that Trump's a hypocrite and a demagogue. I'm just saying that he doesn't exactly follow his own advice.
Editor's note from The Conversation: This is an updated version of an article first published on March 8, 2016.
Unless You're Rich, the Economy Is Not Working for You -- and the GOP Tax Plan Will Only Make It Worse
Update: In the early hours of Saturday morning, Senate Republicans passed the tax overhaul.
By this point we've all heard about the cartoonish immorality of the GOP tax plan -- raising taxes on the working poor while cutting taxes for the super-rich.
But setting aside these moral considerations, the Republican tax reform package is also a catastrophe as economic policy. As designed, it will super-charge trends that have stalled growth and wages in the United States for the last four decades. Neither the House nor the Senate plan will do anything to spur investment and both will bolster a tax code that incentivizes short-term speculation and the squeezing of workers, supply chains and consumers.
Our economy has plenty of problems, but too little cash at the top is not one of them. Tax cuts for corporations and the rich -- along with a suite of policies pushed over 40 years -- have shifted how, when and where corporations and individuals decide to invest, spend and save.
Today, corporations are not investing because shareholders pressure managers to deliver immediate returns and because industries are so consolidated that dominant firms don't actually need to invest or innovate to remain competitive. Private investors are not putting their money into productive new enterprises, but rather are earning their returns from the sky-rocketing value of assets -- stocks, financial products, real estate, art -- that can be passed down to future generations.
What this means is that businesses have plenty of profits, but they're not using those funds to do things that actually create jobs or grow the economy. Instead of funding new research to create better products, expanding operations to boost jobs or increasing wages, these businesses are instead choosing to give money to shareholders -- a practice that benefits short-term investors but not the workers who make the company run. A massive tax cut to corporate profits will increase that pool of available money, while also increasing the returns to short-term investors now tempted by an even bigger potential payout.
When not rewarding shareholders directly, businesses have been busy buying up other firms. By providing companies more cash on hand, the GOP tax bill would likely mean even more mergers, which frequently result in cuts to jobs, the erection of barriers for small business and the curbing of consumer benefits. Activist investors will have greater incentive to push for such mergers as the super-rich see a chance to pass un-taxed estates on to the next generation.
The GOP tax plan will exacerbate these trends, increasing shareholder payouts at the expense of creating jobs. As a result, middle-class Americans will face both tax increases and a weaker safety net.
Under the Senate tax plan, almost everyone loses. On average, the bottom three-fifths of income earners would see a tax increase, according to analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. As a result of the individual mandate repeal, 13 million Americans could lose health insurance by 2027, according to the CBO. New methods for calculating the Earned Income Tax Credit will result in lower payouts to the working poor. The loss in government revenue forecloses the possibility of job-creating public investment in infrastructure, education and care work.
All of this is unfair, but it's also bad economics. Too often, progressives cede economic arguments to the Right, but we should not hesitate to combat the tax plan over the issues of jobs and growth. By further consolidating wealth and power in the hands of the very few, the GOP tax plan is designed to double down on the same strategy that has failed working Americans for decades.Help Truthout supply a counterpoint to the dangerous rhetoric and misinformation spewing forth from Washington DC. It takes less than thirty seconds to contribute via card or PayPal: Just click here!
"Moved by the need for control, for an unchallenged top tier, the power elite in American history has thrived by placating the vulnerable and creating for them a false sense of identification -- denying real class differences where possible." -- Nancy Isenberg, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
There is no shortage of media commentary discrediting "identity politics," particularly the focus on Black, Latinx, LGBTQ, and immigrant communities calling for justice and equity. Economics is our real problem, a counter argument goes, not race, sex, gender, citizenship. But as author Nancy Isenberg points out in White Trash, "identity has always been a part of politics."
Laws have been written to oppress and exploit particular identities -- Native Americans, Black Americans, Asians, homosexuals, transgender, and women -- in a successful effort to maintain a system of White supremacy. Yet, members of these communities have worked for the rights and equality of everyone. In turn, White allies have joined in these anti-racism fights.
The Redneck Revolt is one such organization. The self-described anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-fascist group challenges working-class White people to stand against White supremacy.
I recently talked to Brett, one of the members who heads up the network's Southeast Michigan Chapter. (Because of hostilities toward the organization, Redneck Revolt members use only their first names publicly.) There are about 40 chapters nationwide. He explained why the group focuses on anti-racism rather than economics even though it seeks out white working-class and poor people in economically struggling rural areas.
The interview has been condensed and lightly edited.
Zenobia Jeffries: What is the significance of the name Redneck Revolt? Why did the name change from the John Brown Gun Club?
Brett: They're two sides of the same coin. We have some branches that are still the John Brown Gun Club. Our national network is Redneck Revolt.
Redneck Revolt chapters like ours in Michigan here primarily focus on outreach, and winning hearts and minds, counter recruitment, showing up, being present, being allies, being where we need to be to show our community support.
Whereas, John Brown Gun Club pretty much only deals with the firearm aspect of things. It deals with a lot of tactical training, a lot of information security-type stuff.
Can you give an example of what you mean by "changing hearts and minds." What does that look like?
A really great example would be back in June. The ACT for America folks did an anti-sharia law march. Redneck Revolt was there. We were on one side of the barricades along with a slew of other leftist organizations. On the other side of the barricades were Proud Boys, Vanguard America, and a hodgepodge of other alt-right groups. But one of the most prominent was the Michigan Liberty Militia, which is famously racist and famously exclusionary.
Toward the end of the demonstration, this one older gentleman -- he was an older White man up at the barricade with all the gear on, and armed -- had his rifle. One of my members and [I] went up to this guy and were like, "I understand mixing state and religion is not good. Nobody here wants to mix state and religion, nobody is protesting that. [But] it's clearly anti-Muslim. This protest is against Muslims.
"Furthermore, it's against all people of color because this neighborhood [is] first-generation Somali, first-generation people form sub-Saharan Africa who are fleeing abject poverty and warfare, starvation, disease. So how can you be in this neighborhood and be like, 'This is what America stands for'?
"Not only that, if you look to your left and right, those kids with the sun wheel on their shields, and the eagle on their shirts, those guys are self-described, literal Nazis. We fought a war about this. I thought we were all in unanimous agreement that Nazis are bad."
And this guy he kind of started tearing up, and he was like, "You know, I'll tell you, my dad died in World War II in Europe fighting Nazis." And he goes, "This really has given me [something to think about]. You know I may not agree with everything you say. But associating myself like this has really given me pause, and has really made me think about what I'm doing here."
We don't expect anybody to walk away from someplace where we're counter-recruiting waving the red flag of revolution. But if we can at least pull them out of that mindset, that's a win for us.
One of the things I find fascinating about Redneck Revolt is that your primary focus is organizing working-class Whites, yet you center race and anti-racism in the work that you do. So many are putting the focus on the economy, and calling anti-racism work "identity politics." How did you all decide that you wanted to focus on White supremacy -- that it is just as much of a problem for working-class Whites as for people of color?
Our stance is that our entire capitalist system is built on a bedrock of White supremacy, and as White folks we have access to spaces that people of color don't. So we try to exploit the spaces and put ourselves in those positions to reach the White working class because it's like the old IWW [Industrial Workers World] saying, "If we don't get to them first, the Klan will."
And we understand that if there's going to be any kind of serious discourse about dismantling capitalism, about building the new world from the ashes of the old, as they say, that description can't be had until the underlying issue of racism is addressed.
That's why [we] don't engage law enforcement. We believe law enforcement is an extension of the old slave catchers.
We don't engage with anything that reinforces the current system that basically is built on White supremacy. We go to great lengths to dismantle that system and empower people to help us do that, but at the same time using the spaces that we have access to, to get other people to see that.
And I believe that a lot of people we speak to may generally not be racist in a conventional sense. But they're certainly benefitting from the system of White supremacy that has been built. They're not doing anything to actually help dismantle it.
So, that's kind of the message that we try to bring across. Nobody is saying [to them], "You're like burning crosses, you're actively racist." But you have to acknowledge that … as a White person in America, you are benefitting from White supremacy.
So, in order to address capitalism, in order to address economics, the issue of systemic racism first has to be addressed.
I would imagine that when you're in those spaces, and saying what you're saying, that people respond, "But Black people are racist, too."
Yes, we get that a lot.
For an example, I was talking to a gentleman the other day. He was like, "Blacks have a whole month. They have Black History Month, where we do nothing but celebrate Black history. Blacks have their own channel. People would be up in arms if we had a White Entertainment Television." And that's the kind of thing we get most often.
What I say, first of all, is there is no such thing as White culture -- that's a myth.
Secondly, we do celebrate White holidays: Oktoberfest, St. Patrick's Day, arguably Columbus Day. Not to mention our entire society is [tilted toward] celebrating Whiteness. What I try to tell people is, Look at your ancestors. Most White people can point to a single village. I'll use myself as an example. I can point to a single village in Sweden. I know exactly where my people are from. That's why I take a lot of pride in my Scandinavian heritage.
Whereas with Black folks -- and other people of color, but especially Black folks -- the reason they celebrate Black culture is because their culture, everything Blacks had, was ripped away from them when they were taken from Africa. So that's why it's celebrated; that's why it's important.
Because it's the counter narrative to hundreds of years of systemic murder, oppression, just brutal slavery. That's why we celebrate Black culture, because that's all most folks have.
The conversation we have to have is how can we look at ourselves and say, "I'm benefitting from this culture that has been built to only make sure people that look like me get the advantage."
And, obviously, the topic of privilege comes up, and most White folks will deny that they have White privilege. They'll say things like, "I pulled myself up by my bootstraps" or "My grandfather started his own business."
It's hard to get people out of that mindset.
[We] start explaining to them that "I'm sure your grandfather was a hardworking man, I'd never doubt that he was. But the fact that he was able to do that, and given that opportunity, I can promise you that postwar United States, a Black man applying to that same position definitely would not have gotten it."
Along the lines of the "I pulled myself up by my bootstraps" mindset, I'm sure you also get folks who say, "Why should we poor and working-class Whites care about what's happening to Blacks and other people of color when we're struggling, too?" Especially, when the issue of crime is brought up.
We get a lot of reactionary questions, and it keeps us on our toes. But it makes our practice better. What we try to explain is that Black communities have their own set of problems just as other communities have their set of problems.
The difference is White communities have the support of the state. For example, [when] a Black family moves into a primarily White neighborhood, then the housing values tend to go down. So what happens? The state intervenes and then makes the price of housing so high that then that Black family has to leave. That's one example of how the state supports White supremacy. I've given that example a whole lot, and it tends to resonate with people.
I have the clarity to understand that I am a college-educated [man] … who's had uncountable numbers of opportunities thrown my way because I'm White. And given the same circumstances with a young Black man, that most certainly would not have happened. That's what I try to explain: that people of color in the United States categorically do not have the same opportunities as White folks. Even if you are poor, which a lot are.
But there are systems in place to make sure that I succeed. There are systems in place that make sure that my Black counterpart does not. And it's designed that way.
Until we as White folks can recognize collectively that we are benefitting from a system of oppression, then economics is secondary, or tertiary at best. There is no point in talking about economics when the only people affected by these economics are White people.
I've read some articles stating that Redneck Revolution doesn't have a political ideology. While you may not align yourselves with the status quo parties of Democrat or Republican, your actions and principles are very much political. How do you describe your politics?
We're broadly on the left. We're what's called a "big tent" organization. We're overwhelmingly anarchists, but we have some communists in our ranks, we have some capitalist Democrats, progressives, and Republicans, believe it or not. I mean, we have people from all political stripes.
That being said, we do understand there's not going to be any grand revolution tomorrow. But the best thing that we can do short of a revolution is revolutionary change. We believe that revolutionary change comes in the form of dismantling the system of White supremacy that exists.
What is the end goal of Redneck Revolt?
Part of it is dismantling White supremacy. Another part of it is creating spaces inside of communities [where we can] help people not rely on the state. We help to create and encourage radical spaces that encourage things like mutual aid and direct action, as opposed to relying on the state for whatever means.
For example, we're working very closely with the IWW, one of the oldest radical unions in the country. They have a soup kitchen in Detroit where they distribute food and clothes every second and fourth Sunday in Cass Park. They've been doing it since 1996, or something like that. We're trying to build a sustainable model like that close to Ypsilanti [in Michigan], especially with the winter months coming up. There's another organization called the Michigan People of Defense, who do a lot of street medic training. There are a lot of us, including myself, who have military experience. I'm a combat lifesaver, so I have skills I can teach people.
People get hung up on the firearms thing, but we also believe that it's very important for the working class to be armed. We also understand that that puts people of color at a very high risk. So we try to put ourselves at the tip of the spear, so that way we can teach people the knowledge that we have. We can show them safe operation of firearms. How to use them, how to safely handle them.
In [one community], there are a bunch of Hammerskins [a White supremacist group]. They basically patrol the neighborhood, and we have people of color over there who are in fear for their lives, and they've been reaching out to Redneck Revolt to help show them to use firearms.
We've taken proactive steps, and if a community needs us, they know they can call on us, and in a heartbeat we'll be there to help in any capacity that we're able.
The big point is building mutual aid, radical spaces inside of existing communities to not have to rely on the state, and while doing that trying to dismantle the system of White supremacy.
We think that by doing that, one kind of complements the other.
Was the Trump campaign for the presidency the catalyst for Redneck Revolt?
We were already around, it's just people didn't know about us. And that's probably one of the problems that we face, is that people don't know we exist. And I want to say it's our own fault, but we do things very intentionally.
We don't have much of a social media presence, and we do that on purpose because we have no interest in getting bogged down in spam wars on the internet. If you have a legitimate critique of our practices, meet us in the streets, tell us what we're doing wrong. And if your idea is better, then we'll incorporate your idea. That's the way we operate.
We feel like we're an organization that is meant to be in the streets with the people doing things, making differences in people's lives, not sitting behind a keyboard crying about capitalism.
You can be any [ideology] you want. If you agree with the fact that capitalism is a system of oppression, and that system of oppression is largely held up by White supremacy, and you're willing to dismantle that system, then welcome aboard.
What would be your message to the middle and upper-middle classes, to so-called elite/progressive/liberal Whites who dismiss rural poor and working-class Whites simply as Trump supporters?
The major issue is getting them to come out of their bubble of comfort. They hear the word "redneck" and they don't see it through the [same] lens that we do.
The word redneck has always been used pejoratively, but we don't see it that way. We look at our grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and great-great-grandfathers and understand why they were called rednecks. You look back at the Harlem County wars, and those folks would wear bandanas to keep the sun off their necks, and that's where the term redneck comes from. We embrace that term, and say, "Yeah, that's who we are. We're working-class people who are out in the streets."
If you can take the blinders off, you'll see that … your comfort is still built on a system of White supremacy. Your comfort and the things that you're enjoying are a byproduct of 150 years of working-class struggle. If you like the weekends, thank a union man. You like your 40-hour work week, you like that there are no kids slaving in textile factories, thank a union worker.
It's working-class people who brought those changes. It wasn't [the] middle-class bourgeois who brought that change. It was working-class people out fighting in the streets. That's who we are, that's what we do.
Fight erupts at speech at UConn: conservative speaker is arrested, but teacher who grabbed his papers goes free
Fight erupts at speech at UConn: conservative speaker is arrested, but teacher who grabbed his papers goes free | 28 Nov 2017 | (Storrs, CT) A fight broke out at a speech being held at the University of Connecticut on Tuesday night. UConn's College Republicans student group was sponsoring the appearance, entitled "It's OK To Be White," featuring conservative commentator Lucian Wintrich. Wintrich is the White House correspondent for the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit, which said the talk would be about "identity politics" in today's cultural and political landscape. During the speech, a fight broke out and officers removed Wintrich from the room. News 8 reports that windows were broken amid the chaos and that officers arrested Wintrich for allegedly assaulting a student. [!?!]
ABC News suspends Brian Ross over 'serious error' in Trump-Flynn report | 02 Dec 2017 | ABC News announced Saturday that Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross would be suspended for four weeks without pay over a botched "exclusive" about former national security adviser Michael Flynn. During a live "special report" Friday morning, Ross reported that Flynn would testify that Donald Trump had ordered him to make contact with Russians about foreign policy while he was still a candidate. The report raised the specter of Trump's impeachment and sent the stock market plummeting. Later in the day, ABC issued a "clarification" to Ross's report, saying that Trump's alleged directive came after he'd been elected president.