News

Texas immediately sending 250 National Guard members to Mexican border; Arizona to deploy 150 next week

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 02:06

Texas immediately sending 250 National Guard members to Mexican border; Arizona to deploy 150 next week | 06 April 2018 | Texas and Arizona officials are deploying a total of 400 troops to the Mexican border, just days after President Trump's order aiming to stop illegal crossings and drug trafficking, they said Friday. Texas, which has the longest border with Mexico, sent its first National Guard members Friday evening following a news conference where military officials detailed plans to send about 250 guardsmen to its 1,241-mile-long border within 72 hours. Arizona, whose border with Mexico spans about 375 miles, plans to send 150 troops by next week.

Categories: News

Trump Signs Memo Ordering End to 'Catch and Release' Immigration Policy

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 02:02

Trump Signs Memo Ordering End to 'Catch and Release' Immigration Policy | 06 April 2018 | President Trump issued a memorandum on Friday directing his administration to move quickly to bring an end to "catch and release," the practice by which immigrants presenting themselves at the border without authorization are released from detention while waiting for their cases to be processed. The directive does not, on its own, toughen immigration policy or take concrete steps to do so; it merely directs officials to report to the president about steps they are taking to "expeditiously end 'catch and release' practices." But it is a symbolic move by Mr. Trump to use his executive action to solve a problem that he has bitterly complained Congress will not.

Categories: News

“Disgraced” ex-FBI Agent and Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorist Blames “Terrorist” Antifa Groups and “Jihadis” for Tour Cancellations

It's Goin Down - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 01:27

The post “Disgraced” ex-FBI Agent and Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorist Blames “Terrorist” Antifa Groups and “Jihadis” for Tour Cancellations appeared first on It's Going Down.

John Guandolo, a “disgraced” former FBI agent who now tours the country promoting the idea that there are no “moderate” Muslims, ISIS carried out the Las Vegas mass shooting, and that Mosques in the US are just fronts for organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, took to social media today to complain that hotels were closing their doors to his current speaking tour of the MidWest.

In the past, Guandolo has stated that Muslims “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything,” but has also complained that Fusion Centers, staffed in part ironically by FBI agents, aggressively monitor far-Right activists and also are “supporting our enemies (Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood).” Such a claim flies in the face of the fact that far-Right arson attacks, bombings, and killings have risen in the wake of Trump, while Fusion Centers have shifted their focus instead on anti-pipeline protesters, Black Lives Matter demonstrators, anarchists, and antifascists.

But while Guandolo touts his FBI background as a badge of authority, the story of how we resigned in shame from the organization is more telling about who he is as person. As the SPLC wrote:

Guandolo touts his FBI background to lend credibility to his training courses, which are offered to law enforcement and civilians alike. Often omitted, however, is the controversial manner in which he departed the federal law enforcement agency. In 2008, Guandolo resigned from the Bureau in disgrace after a number of ethical breaches and bizarre conduct, including admitting to having affairs with female FBI agents and a confidential source he was assigned to protect during the corruption case of former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA); he also solicited that witness for a $75,000 donation for an anti-terrorism group.

But it seems fucking-up at his former place of business isn’t the only thing that has landed Guandolo on the news. As the SPLC wrote:

Guandolo made headlines last month for racially profiling an unsuspecting Southwest Airlines employee on social media. The inflammatory post caused such an uproar that the airline was forced to respond, calling the now-deleted tweet “cruel and inappropriate.” He later doubled down on his post during a recent episode of UTT’s radio show. As it turns out, this was not the first time Guandolo has posted pictures of unsuspecting airline employees and accused them of being “jihadis.”

Up until recently, Guandolo’s speaking events often attracted members of law-enforcement, but due to an “altercation, which later led to a restraining order against Guandolo, [which] stemmed from him accusing Sheriff Richard Stanek of working “with jihadis in the community,” law enforcement participation has since deflated. Instead, Guandolo has instead shifted his focus on speaking to the far-Right.

#SPLC & its surrogates at #Antifa have succeeded in shutting down 2 of our upcoming events in our 5 city tour & made doing the other 2 not feasible. Join me, Brannon Howse, & Chris Gaubatz at 4 pm CST TODAY live here on periscope to discuss! @CAIRvGaubatz @WVWOnline @JamieGlazov pic.twitter.com/EQDCzrrYgd

— John Guandolo (@JohnGuandolo) April 6, 2018

But as word of the tour began to spread, people began calling into the various hotels that Guandolo was scheduled to be speaking at. On Friday, April 6th, Guandolo tweeted out that two of the hotels had already cancelled on him which “made doing the other 2 not feasible.” One speaking event in Iowa, Guandolo had already completed. Currently, it’s unclear if this means the rest of Guandolo’s tour is completely called off, or if he will continue forward in some capacity.

https://t.co/GbgRmCHnxg

— John Guandolo (@JohnGuandolo) April 6, 2018

In a rambling video posted on Periscope and Twitter, Guandolo discussed the recent call-in campaigns, stating that SPLC gave a green light to violent and “terrorist” “ANTIFA” (gotta have it all capitalized, because no one actually does that except batshit wingnut far-Right idiots) to unleash a wave of violent threats against the various venues. In reality, the call in campaigns simply asked people to implore venues not to host racist, conspiratorial, and Islamophobic speakers.

I will go live on periscope fr Western Conservative Conference in Phoenix shortly after 1:45 pm AZ Time. Topic is: The Islamic/Communist Threat. #MAGA @IngrahamAngle @JewhadiTM @Tejas_Marine @littlelisala @westerninfidel @JWWins @StefMacWilliams @Liz_Wheeler @AmyMek @UTT_USA pic.twitter.com/asc6KWYGp5

— John Guandolo (@JohnGuandolo) March 24, 2018

Guandolo went on to state that “ANTIFA” were working with Jihadi elements, which is a new trope that has been picked up by much of the far-Right. In recent years, many far-Right commentators have switched out established conspiracy theories that the “Jews” were the evil masterminds behind the globalist conspiracy, and instead replaced them with “Muslims.” Other far-Right commentators have taken it even farther, stating that Muslims have a secret history of working with Communists, and both desire a globalist takeover of the world. At its heart, Islamophobia remains at the center of what often glues the far-Right together, along with a hatred of Blacks, immigrants, feminists, and ‘the Left.’

As Spencer Sunshine wrote:

Islamophobia is important to the far right because it can fill the same political role as the old anti-Semitic narratives, and draw on the same emotional power — but it is far more socially acceptable and appeals to a larger audience. For example, in some parts of the far right, Muslims have replaced Jews as a feared unassimilable religious minority that seeks to undermine the moral fabric of our society. Muslims are also perceived by many on the right to be lower on the socioeconomic ladder than US Jews, and therefore an easier target.

These Islamophobic narratives also update 1950s anti-Communist conspiracy theories — especially the notion that the major US institutions are controlled by a foreign fifth column — with a new enemy. The two get combined as well. While anti-Semites have long claimed a “Judeo-Bolshevik” conspiracy was at work, today, Islamophobes see a “Marxist-Islamic” conspiracy.

The vast amount of violence in our society comes from the day to day realities of life under capitalism: deaths from drug overdoses, accidents at work, traffic, and lack of access to medical care. One in three people who are killed by a stranger in the US are killed by a police officer, and members of the far-Right carry out the vast majority of violent acts against the everyday population. Moreover, for the first time in history, life expectancy even for white men, is declining.

Shit clowns like Guandolo peddle in lies and nightmare bedtime stories for adults that don’t want to face the realities of what is killing us in our society; not immigrants, not Black people, and not the poor.

Categories: News

Bayou Bridge Protesters Arrested as Louisiana Advances Bill Toughening Penalties for Pipeline Protests

deSmog - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 23:29
Protester chained to a barrel in the road

On Thursday, April 5, opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline attempted to shut down its construction by blocking an industrial supply company’s facility in Iowa, Louisiana, just outside of Lake Charles on the same day a bill spelling out harsher penalties for pipeline protesters was advanced to committee during the Louisiana legislative session. 

Tags: Louisianapipeline protestAmerican Legislative Exchange Council ALECBayou Bridge pipelineEnergy Transfer Partners
Categories: News

TFN #5: Le Smashy Smash

It's Goin Down - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 22:50

The post TFN #5: Le Smashy Smash appeared first on It's Going Down.

Sub.Media.Tv returns for their weekly show, The Fuckin News.

Things in France are popping off again. As President Macron pushes to privatize the national rail company, workers, students, and radicals are going on strike, taking to the streets, fighting the pigs, and smashing symbols of capitalism everywhere. But, like in North America and elsewhere, fascists reacted to these inspiring acts of resistance, by violently attacking subversive students in Montpellier. Also there’s a call out for a day of solidarity on April 10th to support J20 defendants.

Sign up for the J20 Thunderclap: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/69303-j20-protester-2nd-trial

Categories: News

Nazi “Prank” at Houston Anime Con No Joking Matter

It's Goin Down - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 22:13

The post Nazi “Prank” at Houston Anime Con No Joking Matter appeared first on It's Going Down.

Seems a Texas based neo-Nazi activist who worked with Richard Spencer dressed up as one of his other heroes – an SS soldier at a recent comic book convention.

On the surface it couldn’t sound more ridiculous: a young man dresses up as an SS officer to attend a scandal-prone anime convention in Houston, where he proceeds to hijack an abandoned panel and read what was described as “Anne Frank fan-fiction.” It may sound like a tasteless joke, offensive but unworthy of much serious attention beyond a sad shake of the head.

It turns out, however, that the man who made the appearances to the Anime Matsuri convention on March 30th is more dedicated to his beliefs than one might assume. Image quality always leaves room for doubt, but he bears a strong resemblance to a known Fascist activist from Houston named Dustin Allman.

Allman was, along with Preston Wiginton and Joffre Cross III, a key organizer of Richard Spencer’s 2016 visit to Texas A&M University. He was also spotted at the Vanguard/Daily Stormer-led “Texas is Ours” rally in June of 2017. At “Texas is Ours” he was recorded bragging of his work with Cross, who is himself a neo-Nazi celebrity notorious for attempting to sell stolen military gear to Fascists.

This is another example that should inform our attitude toward creating anti-fascist culture, particularly “jokes.” Some may be inclined to look the other way or downplay the significance of jokes and pranks, but all too often humor is simply a dishonest front for people who are serious – deadly serious – about their beliefs. When we see someone being a Nazi “ironically,” we should instead take them literally.

Categories: News

Angry crowd shouts down NJ lawmakers over vaccine vote

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 17:55

Angry crowd shouts down NJ lawmakers over vaccine vote --'I do not believe that our government has the right to pass judgment on whether or not one's religious practices are genuine.' - Brian Malloy | 05 April 2018 | An Assembly panel Thursday advanced legislation that would make it tougher to obtain a religious exemption from mandatory immunizations, despite opposition from more than 300 people who were vociferously angry when it passed. The bill, A3818, would require students, or their parents or guardians if they're minors, to submit a notarized document explaining how getting a vaccine conflicts with their bona fide religious tenets or practices. General philosophical or moral objections wouldn't suffice. More than 60 opponents testified against the bill, mostly citing religious grounds, and around 270 more submitted slips noting their opposition but didn't speak.

Categories: News

Belarusian anarchists: Lukashenka’s political opponents or criminals?

Anarchist News - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 17:19

From Belarus Digest, March 20th, 2018 (MSM)

On 12 March 2018, a Minsk court sentenced Sviataslau Baranovich to three years in prison. He admitted that he had hit police officers in civilian clothes during the brutal arrests of anarchists.

In recent years, the anarchists have become the most persecuted group opposing Alexander Lukashenka’s regime. They remain the most extreme organisation with a capacity to organise street protests and radicalise them.

However, it remains difficult to call some of the anarchists’ actions, such as the burning of billboards, politicised or even rational. Therefore anarchists have become a serious dilemma for human rights organisations because they do not know how to view them, although the government clearly sees anarchists as a political problem.

Origins of anarchism in Belarus

Anarchism in Belarus first appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century, although it took a very different form to the contemporary movement. At that time Bialystok (then part of the Hrodna region in the Russian Empire) became the centre of the Belarusian anarchist movement; anarchists organised economic strikes, expropriations and the killing of police officers. The anarchists in Belarus had strong links to the movement in Russian (perhaps even belonged to it). For instance, the first Belarusian anarchist, Siarhiej Kavalik, followed the ideas of Mikhail Bakunin, one of the principal founders of anarchist theory.

Anarchists often had Jewish origins and their victims were also Jews, since they often represented the capitalist (exploitative) class. But in general the movement proved something of an alloy, including intellectuals, the unemployed and criminals, according to a recent Russian-language book by Jury Hlushakou called Revolution Is Dead! Long Live the Revolution! Anarchism in Belarus 1902—1927.

Despite differences from earlier eras, contemporary anarchists’ choice of a specific ideology faces some restraints since communism remains an origin of Belarusian anarchism. As Mikalai Dziadok, one of the representatives of the movement, explained in an interview to Euroradio in 2017, anarcho-communists comprise the majority in the Belarusian anarchist movement. Where other versions of anarchism, popular in other countries, emphasize individuality, Belarusian anarchism remains primarily collectivist.

Meet the Belarusian anarchists

In all countries anarchists annoy the state authorities, but the Belarusian government has a much stronger feeling.

Undoubtedly, the Belarusian anarchists remain the most radical opponents of Lukashenka. In 2010 they threw smoke grenades and set fire to the Ministry of Defence and a casino; in 2016 they threw paint at the main entrance of the state television company; and in 2017 showed themselves the most organized group of the protesters against the law on parasitism, the most popular protests in the Belarusian regions in history. In Brest, a city in western Belarus, anarchists initiated those protests.

The movement’s structure remains opaque, so no one knows exactly how many people it comprises and their capabilities. The movement has a number of public representatives, including Mikalai Dziadok and Ihar Alinevich, known publicly because the court previously sentenced them to 4 and 8 years respectively in 2011. Their publicity is the result of their criminal record and not their wishes. Both, along with Alexander Frantskevich, formed part of the “anarchist case”, but Alinevich received the longest prison term. The court found him guilty not only for the aforementioned 2010 actions, but also for attacks on a branch of the Moscow-Minsk Bank and the Isolation Centre for Offenders Minsk.


Photo: Svaboda.org

Even without traditional methods of organisation during their actions, anarchists look like they have the most effective organising capacity. Although it remains difficult to assess the size of the anarchists’ regional structures, for sure the figures are not small. For instance, the organisation of “Revolutionary Action” has four-and-a-half thousand subscribers on the social network VKontakte. No opposition group has as many subscribers. Recently, the Belarusian authorities blocked the page, but it still works through a virtual private network (VPN) or outside the country.

However, such repressions do not mean that the government represses all activities of anarchists. The movement still has its own media website, pramen.io, which actually has a modest number of followers in social networks of around three thousand people; a “Free Thought” library operates in Minsk, although it is open just four hours per week; a “Food Not Bombs” initiative feeds poor people each week at three locations in Minsk, but also has some smaller groups in several other towns; and an “Anarchist Black Cross” helps anarchists and others somehow connected to the movement that have been imprisoned. Although Sviataslau Baranovich’s political views remain unknown, he will receive the help of the “Anarchist Black Cross”.

Political radicals or criminals?

The authorities see them at the same time as the most extremist enemies, able to radicalise protests and criminals, says the respected human rights defender Nasta Lojka in a comment to Belarus Digest. Accordingly, the prosecution of anarchists stems from mixed motives; it remains difficult to know whether Belarus’s authorities are defending public safety or Lukashenka’s regime. In fact, the government shows that it sees anarchists as political activists. For instance, before the presidential election in 2015, when Lukashenka pardoned a group of high-profile critics of the regime, the group included politicians such as Mikalai Statkevich and anarchists such as Dziadok and Alinevich.


Photo: 1reg.by

In some ways anarchists supply a convenient enemy for the authorities since they often break the law, giving the government an excuse to move against them. In 2017 members of the movement burned a billboard of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Ivacevichy. Afterwards, three anarchists (17, 19 and 21 years old) received three years of probation. Independent journalists and human rights activists devoted little attention to this trial because it held no political significance. But, as Nasta Lojka says, police used the burned billboard as a pretext for searches in other cities, which looked quite far-fetched.

In 2017 Belarus held a long trial against an anti-fascist group of football fans, who received from 4 to 12 years for fighting, drug distribution and leading an unregistered organisation. However, authorities stretched some evidence in the case against anti-fascists so as to intimidate the entire community of informal youth groups.

The politicization of other cases looks more obvious still. During the protests against parasitism police arrested dozens of anarchists or others close to the movement. As a result of the protests, one activist, Zmicier Paliyenka, went to jail. Belarusian human rights activists have recognized him as a political prisoner.

However, the example of Paliyenka remains one of several. In practice, human rights activists try to avoid such criminal cases, especially involving violence. If anarchists consciously use violence, the human rights activists are forced to close their eyes to violations of rights against them.

Tags: BelarusMSMcategory: International
Categories: News

Ministry of information have blocked the mirror of the “Pramen” website

Anarchist News - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 14:15

From Pramen

Over a year ago our website and group in vk.com (the most popular social media site in post-USSR countries) were blocked by decision of court, considering information on the website to be extremist. Several weeks ago new round of attack from Ministry of information came. The new group, created after the blocking, was blocked also. At that moment it had around 1450 subscribers.

Several accounts of a users, that were running the group, were also blocked on territory of Belarus. Apart from that Belarusian government has added to the black list mirrors of the website in other social networks – Tumblr, WordPress, Livejournal and Diaspora. Before that our group in Facebook was blacklisted as well.

And although it is not possible for Belarusian government to block Facebook, Diaspora and Twitter due to some technical decisions made by those social networks, other networks and our mirror on WordPress.com are not available anymore on the territory of Belarusian state: notification about illegal information appears in your browser instead.

 

“This material is blocked on a territory of Belarus according to the decision of a Ministry of information of Republic of Belarus”

 

It is worth mentioning that last year the Ministry of information have blocked several major liberal oppositional news websites with hundreds of thousands of daily visitors. On top of that at the end of 2016 Belarusian government have successfully implemented blocking of tor network leading to 50% drop in users of service [1].

Belarus haven’t achieved level of China in censorship of the internet yet. There are still oppositional websites running online, however the trend points in negative direction with possibly few year away from total Internet censorship. This is also proven by the new law on mass media that is expected to pass in April, which tightens even more possibilities for non-govermental media to operate. One of the demands of this new law is an obligation to identify each user who posts a comment.

As for our collective – although the website is blocked, in Belarus the user base is steadily growing. Our mirrors in social networks give possibility for the people to follow our activity and we are continuing to fight and hope that you too!

1: https://metrics.torproject.org/userstats-relay-country.html?start=2016-01-05&end=2018-04-05&country=by&events=off

Tags: BelarusRussiacounter-infocensorshipthe statecategory: International
Categories: News

Care is at the Heart, an Interview with Marina Sitrin

Anarchist News - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:46

via The Institute for Anarchist Studies

For this interview we (carla and Nick) sent Marina Sitrin a ‘preamble’ outlining some of the ideas behind our book Joyful Militancy (available here!), and then included a couple questions based on Sitrin’s other writings (especially Horizontalidad: Voces de Poder Popular en Argentina). We do not include the preamble here because as time went on in the researching, interviewing and writing of the book our ideas and articulations shifted. For that, we are deeply indebted to all our interviewees who offered new insights and shed light on areas that needed reworking. Instead we have added a short overview about the book, below, so the interview can stand alone. Our website also includes the book’s introduction and other excerpts.

Joyful Militancy Overview

Why do radical movements and spaces sometimes feel laden with fear, anxiety, suspicion, self-righteousness and competition? In Joyful Militancy, we call this phenomenon rigid radicalism: congealed and toxic ways of relating that have seeped into radical movements, posing as the “correct” way of being radical. In conversation with organizers and intellectuals from a wide variety of currents, we explore how rigid radicalism smuggles itself into radical spaces, and how it is being undone. Rather than proposing ready-made solutions, we amplify the questions that are already being asked among movements. Fusing together movement-based perspectives and contemporary affect theory, Joyful Militancy traces emergent forms of trust, care and responsibility in a wide variety of radical currents today, including indigenous resurgence, anarchism, transformative justice, and youth liberation. Joyful Militancy, by carla bergman and Nick Montgomery, foregrounds forms of life in the cracks of Empire, revealing the ways that fierceness, tenderness, curiosity, and commitment can be intertwined.

Interview:

cropped-crowsjm

carla & Nick (c&N): Based on what we’ve told you about the book project, can you tell us what resonates and what doesn’t?

Marina Sitrin (MS): I am so excited for this project. It all resonates deeply with things I have been thinking, witnessing, fearing and dreaming. The role of joy, in particular in the way you describe it, is often absent – though not entirely – from our conversations and constructions in the northern part of the Americas and Europe. I do see joyful militancy as closely tied with emotion, on the individual and collective level, and will get to that with some of the later questions. It is both a fairly large and abstract concept, and at the same time a very simple direct and emotive one. How do we feel when we participate in a movement or group? What are our relationships to others in the group? Does it feel open? Caring? Social? Is there trust? Why do we come back to assemblies and actions? Are people open to one another?

c&N: We have been told that “joyful militancy” or “militancia alegre” is a more common notion in Latin America. Do you know anything about the genealogies or origins of “militancia alegre” in Latin America?

MS: I don’t know of any specific genealogy, but there are for sure many examples of the practice and language of care, trust, love and affect throughout the history of movements in Latin America. I see joyful militancy as both a practice and an articulation – ideally both together. As a practice it does not always come with an articulation of the experience, and then there are those groups and movements that have the explicit language of care and love, but do not always practice it. My first exposure to it as a concept together with a practice was in Argentina in the post 2001 popular rebellion and all the social creation that transpired.

In Argentina, when people found themselves without even the basic means for survival, they turned to one another. They did this without political parties, intermediaries or any sort of hierarchy. People explained this moment in history as a rupture, a break with past ways of organizing, but also a break in their finding one another – looking to one another. The effects of the dictatorship maintained a hold on many aspects of daily life, including fear of the other and a culture of turning one’s back in silence. HIJOS, the children of the disappeared, had been organizing for a few years in this silence, with internal forms that focused more on social relationships than an “end”. Their argument is that, at least in part, it was people in society who allowed the dictatorship to take place, with what they call a social silence. They organize in neighborhoods, speaking to people, face to face, and trying to recreate community. Their internal forms of organizing are also focused on social relationships, and in particular horizontal and affective forms. They speak of love as a relationship necessary in their group’s internal relationships as well as the sort of movement that has to be built. HIJOS in many ways was a precursor to the forms of organizing a few years later with the neighborhood assemblies, unemployed movements and recuperated workplaces, among tons of other collectives and networks that emerged.

I would love to share quote after quote of people in the movements in Argentina. I was honestly a bit surprised at how much people spoke of love and care as necessary to create the sort of world they desire. But now, in retrospect, the fact that the forms of organizing are all about social relationships—paying attention to power, making sure people are heard and can speak, prioritizing voices often excluded and ignored, organizing events with food, drinks, music and other tools that make them more social—were crucial and often just necessary for survival. Care is at the heart of the new forms of organizing. Horizontalism as a relationship is all about a shifting relational form between individuals and a group – paying attention to both – now. It is not a means to an end, but the means are a part of the end, and the end keeps changing.

Another example from Latin America, and one that is more of a practice and less something talked about as a tenet around which they organize, is the Zapatista communities. Their forms of organizing are based in assemblies striving for all people to participate equally and in creating structures of care, from health care to food and education, and then also creating processes for alternative adjudication—all of this is deeply affective, even if they do not shout to the world that they are joyous and grounded in affect. The joy is seen in these affective practices as well as in the celebratory nature of many of day to day experiences.

I see the concepts of joyful militancy, affective politics and a care/love-based organizing as also directly tied to prefigurative politics, and that has a long history and roots in Latin America. By prefigurative I mean as much as possible creating the desired future alternatives in the present. This is an idea and practice that has roots all over the world, from the IWW in the US to the writings of W.E.B DuBois, and the practices of anarchists and autonomous activists in Latin America. It has become more popular and widespread, both in theory and practice, in the last twenty years with the rise of more autonomous and horizontal organizing, particularly in Latin America, but also with the Global Justice Movement and Occupy and movements of the Squares.

Going back to Latin America, while the more contemporary movements organize with affective politics as one of the hearts, consciously and intentionally, there is a long history of this sentiment as a part of organizing, including say the FORA in Argentina (the largest Anarchist federation in the world) which was a part of organizing Patagonia Rebelde, a free region in the south of Argentina in the early 1900s. While it was brutally repressed, the movement organized to create a free society then and there, rather than demanding or building towards a future society. This included all sorts of different social relationships which entailed care, trust and love as their foundation. This is a history that many contemporary movement participants have ideas about, but few have read about it in great detail. It is one of those funny things where historical memory is somehow imbued in current practice, even without a direct intentionality.

I also wonder about liberation theology and the role of love and care in Latin American movements today. Similar to the role of the memory of anarchism in Argentina, in some parts of Latin America, the liberation theologists actively supported revolutionary movements and for sure brought in the importance of love and care in the present – not just the future. Of course the Catholic church as a whole, like the communist parties, were all about the future and not the present.

c&N: You have described the work you do as a form of militancy. Can you say what you mean by this concept? What is militancy about, and what does it do?

Bergman01f (1)

MS: I also describe myself as a militant. I say this in part to counter the concept of activist, especially as it is understood in parts of Latin America, which is as oriented to NGOs – more ‘professional and paid’. In Spanish una militanteis often someone who was a part of something, such as a movement or group, though not something like Greenpeace. It describes a more direct action sort of politics. And, in English, as it sounds, it has a force or action orientation – not militaristic, that is not what I mean – but determined and maybe hard left. I am not sure exactly how best to translate it alone; I use it as an alternative to identifying as an activist and to indicate direct involvement and revolutionary politics.

As for the work I do, I tend to think of it as militant research, and by this I mean a form of research and investigation that is together with people in movement, so again, militant meaning a sort of direct participation and action. I try as best as I can to not only use interview-based work, but to be involved in those things I write about and to engage back and forth with movement participants (if I am not active in that movement all the time) so as to check and make sure I am reflecting what people are doing/thinking. Sometimes this leads to a lot more work or investigation, as happened in Argentina when I was close to finishing the book Horizontalidad: Voces de Poder Popular en Argentina.1 I thought it was just about finished and circulated it with a number of movement participants. I got great feedback, and a few women from two different unemployed movements gently told me, compañera, you cannot publish this, it does not include the direct struggles of the Mapuche or Guarani, not in their own words. So, I took another many months, built relationships with a few indigenous communities in the far north, was fortunate to be joined by one of these two women when I went, and then was able to finish the book.

All together then, this sort of work can become a form of militancy as it can help connect people from different groups and movements who might not otherwise meet one another. For example, having developed relationships with more autonomous movements in Greece, and collaborating with a network of assemblies who translated Horiozntalidadinto Greek, we found that not only were the voices in the book useful, but there was an opportunity to create direct relationships. So twice I helped initiate visits of Argentines to Greece. The second such visit was a worker from a recuperated workplace who met with workers in Vio.Mein Thessaloniki, and after the visit and exchange of ideas the Greek workers decided absolutely to recuperate their workplace. They say that without the direct exchange of ideas they might not have done it. The sharing of movement contacts and relationships across movements, countries and continents is for me a part of being a militant who does militant research.

c&N: What’s been your experience of sad militancy2–meanness, shame, fear, guilt, and ideological purism–in movement spaces?

  1. What sustains sad militancy?
  2. What provokes or inspires it? What makes it spread?

MS: I have put off this question for second to last. And now am again taking a break, since as important as it is, it is such an ugly and sad part of our movements I am going to wait a moment before writing about it. I will answer it however, since it is also what has destroyed so many groups and movements – so utterly important.

Sad militancy can come from many places. First, and important to identify is when it comes from external forces, people who are paid to disrupt movements and do so in all sorts of ways from disrupting democratic processes and assemblies, to those who spread gossip and create divisions amongst people in the movement. This has been seen in so many movements historically and there is a great deal to learn from these experiences, particularly the disruption of the Black Panthers – and here I am thinking of some of the lesser known and insidious tactics such as “poison pen letters.”

I would like to end it there, but sad militancy is not just something that people from the outside are paid to do – and in fact, they are able to be paid to do it because we are so susceptible to it. On a basic level, the space a group or movement creates from the beginning is key – the tone and openness, or not, makes a big difference if one wants to focus on new relationships with one another. Along these same lines, ideological rigidity and hierarchies in ideas, formal and informal, create a closed and eventually nasty space for those not ascribing to the ideology or a part of the clique. People do not stay in movements that organize in this way, or if they do it is with a sort of obedience that is not transformative for society and instead creates versions of the same power and hierarchy – with people not being actors or agents of change, not to mention that dignity cannot grow or flourish.

My early organizing experiences were fortunately with anti-racist and later Central American Solidarity movements, with people who had been a part of the civil rights and later anti-nuclear movements, so they had a focus—at least in part—on social relationships and democracy. Later however, when I decided I needed to be a part of a revolutionary group that was organizing against capitalism as a whole, well, I found myself in a few different centrist socialists groups which were really soul deadening. It was all about ideology and guilt. One could never do enough, and could never know enough or quote enough of whomever was the revolutionary of the day (James Cannon, Tony Cliff, etc.). It was also politically all about the end and not the day-to-day. This even included women: one would think after the radical feminist movement these groups would get that relationships have to change now, but no, it was all about the future free society we all had to work for – accepting relationships as they are pretty much. I later came around some anarchist groups, thinking that they would be more open and focused on the day-to-day, as that is what I had read from the theory, but found the rigidity around identity too harsh and since I was not squatting or dressing a certain way I was kept at arm’s length – which was fine since I felt too rejected to try very hard.

Enough of these icky groups. I think the big question for today is how do we organize in ways that try to prevent sad militancy from creeping into our practice. Articulation of a joyful movement is important, and not as easy as one might think since there is so much resistance to the idea of feelings, which is also to say, relationships.

Many in Argentina reflected on this, especially men in the unemployed movements and workplaces who would joke that they would approach people on the street and ask if they wanted to join a “love movement” and get punched. But it was a real question of machismo they were addressing. I do not mean just men here either, though it is the joke. Social relationships are increasingly given lip service, but we often do not work on them in our movements in a way that makes them dynamic enough to really create an affective space. Relationships here means not only how we treat one another individually, but things like our democratic practices as a whole and how and if we adjudicate or resolve conflicts that arise. So first, talking about it and stating clearing that it is important. But then, some movements do this and still sad militancy sneaks in, or jumps in, depending … it often concerns democratic practices and questions of flexibility—it is crucial to be able to change our practices as well as our ideas. That does not mean to be without clear ideas that are collective, but to avoid the ideological traps that can happen. Autonomous and anti-authoritarian movements are hardly exempt from this. In Occupy we sometimes found people arguing they were more horizontal than others, or more autonomous … this creates a closed and defensive space.

One way to try and keep our movements and groups more open is to be more open ourselves. To call things out when we see them. Not in a hostile way, but in the sense of identifying it and talking about it collectively, in special assemblies or in the moment. This is tricky as it can come off as hostile and people can easily get defensive – we live in a society where we are all so very fragile that calling someone out almost always leads to defensiveness … so figuring out ahead of time how we will deal with these issues as they come up and sticking to it. I am thinking now of how Occupy Farms in Albany California, learning from some of the difficult and sometimes nasty things that emerged in Occupy, organized based on a few common agreements and to participate all had to agree. Things that included participation – not as a ‘work ethic’ sort of thing, but that if one was going to be a part of a collective farm, one had to be a part of a working group that did things (without creating ableist hierarchies, of course). This avoided people coming to just hang out and speaking in assemblies from a position of ideas alone without practice. In Argentina, when people were disruptive in assemblies, it was called out (this was learned first by having assemblies destroyed by disruption). People are told to stop, and if it does not work they are asked to leave. It is more complicated than that, but that is the essence for some assemblies. In the 15M they had a group of people that was always roving during assemblies to try and support those people who were disrupting, believing they needed support, and not to be silenced.

c&N: What’s been your experience of joyful militancy?

  1. What inspires/encourages/sustains it?
  2. How do you try to embody it?

MS: My first experiences with joyful militancy, without having a name for it at the time, were very specific and location-based. I went to Seattle in 1999 to participate in the protests. Later in the day, when the repression picked up, I found myself alone and scared for a moment – only a moment however as an experienced anarchist from San Diego helped me quickly join their affinity group. Not only did I come without an affinity group, but what I knew of them was from reading Murray Bookchin on the Spanish Revolution. It was all a wonderful idea, like assembly based decision making and councils, but I had no direct experience with them. I had been a part of a few different hierarchical socialist groups and left all of then in part due to the hierarchy and centrism, but also what for sure can be called sad militancy. I had witnessed mass assemblies and direct democracy, including in Tepotzlan Mexico where people had taken over the town in the later 1990s, but still had had no direct participation – I did not know what it felt like to be a part of it. Not until Seattle.

So, this wonderful person, whose name I have since forgotten, brought me into a small group and together we blocked an alley where delegates were trying to pass, and supported one another in the massive tear gas attacks by the police, as well as negotiated road blocks of burning dumpsters and projectiles launched to protect people from the police. It was quite scary, but I did not feel fear as much as energy. I was now with a small group of people who were taking care of each other, checking in with one another all the time and taking breaks to do so. And then that evening there was a spokescouncil and I felt that “aha” moment where it all made sense. The ideas I had read about with direct democracy and people caring for one another was all around me, even amidst the tear gas and injured people – perhaps even because of it – which brought up the stakes and made the care and trust all the more important. It was a short-lived experience, but has marked me forever.

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As for longer, deeply grounded movements based in affective politics and joyful militancy, that for sure would be Argentina post 2001. While emerging from necessity, from a rupture in society that was both crisis and a newfound finding of one another on the streets, it continued in many of the movements, taking deep root and becoming the place from which people organized and mobilized. What sustained it in many places was concrete projects around which people were organizing, from running workplaces to maintaining popular kitchens or media groups, together with open discussion of what it was/is. Collective reflection cannot be underestimated, and by this I do not mean only having assemblies to discuss what we are doing or will do next – and not either reflecting on what we have done. But reflecting on the meanings behind what we are doing and why. Taking time to explore ideas and our feelings related to them. There were constant discussions and assemblies in all of the movements, from the recuperated workplaces during lunch and breaks to weekly gatherings within the unemployed movements and parts of the agenda of the neighborhood assemblies. There were also assemblies comprised of people from the different movements to discuss things together, like autonomy, autogestionand affective politics, and this was done in a way that reflected the politics of the movements, with openness and care, in the discussions and infrastructure – meaning there was food and breaks with music and murgas, helping to facilitate the celebratory and emotive elements involved in all of it.

As for my personal attempts to try and embody a politics of affect and joyful militancy, I don’t know. On a very basic level, but one that really does mean a lot, and at the risk of being dismissed as unserious, I try and be open, smile, and really listen and ask questions with others in the movements. Welcoming people, asking about their lives and being friendly is a bigger deal than most people realize. Feeling welcome into a space that is new, feeling like people care about who you are and not just what action you are participating in is huge. On a more general level, I try and create space for others to speak and be heard, and in a way that is meaningful. This often means things like helping to make sure there is facilitation that allows and develops listening, as well as creating a warm climate and atmosphere around discussions, assemblies and other spaces. I like to think I try and reach out to younger and sometimes lesser experienced participants so as to help them feel heard and involved. This is almost always with younger women. In Occupy in New York, I shifted early on to focusing on the legal group since we did not have much of one when it began. A space or movement without legal support, especially in an action that is not legal in certain respects, is not serious, and for sure does not have affect and care at its core. We must protect all people in their/our bodies; this means legally and in the streets with affinity groups. Within the legal group of Occupy we quickly discovered that we not only needed to create legal support for the hundreds arrested, but also to create spaces of mediation for the conflicts coming up in the Plaza. I was a part of a legal subgroup, together with Safer Spaces, that was trying to set up a mechanism not only for mediation but also the adjudication of conflict. Without ways of resolving conflict within our movements we cannot say we take care, trust and affect seriously.

c&N: Because we think joy and sadness are always moving and shifting into new configurations, we are really curious about how these shifts take place. Have you seen spaces, conversations, or practices shift from joyful militancy into sad militancy, or vice- versa? What leads to these shifts?

I have seen movements go from joyful to sad, though it is usually soon before they break up as that specific form of movement. From my experience, this has often been when there is very specific activity on behalf of one or a few people who are extremely disruptive and their disruptions are not dealt with. Our culture of silence or even being polite and not wanting to say things out loud, at least not collectively is a real problem. It allows one or a few people to dominate groups of hundreds and event thousands as was the case with Occupy. This was not the only thing that happened with Occupy, but was among them. In Argentina I saw it happen with left political parties intentionally destroying horizontal assemblies (something that is much harder to do today since they have learned hard lessons and changed their practices). I also saw it with the role of money in movements: from the unemployed movements having to be “managers” of state money and deciding who gets it or not as the government never gave enough, to NGO money in movements creating divisions and finally, to what was for sure government intervention by way of paid disruptors who—when all the other forms of disruption did not work—used direct violence, burning homes and shooting at participants until the land-based movement dispersed. This however raises bigger questions about defense of movements, perhaps for another book.

In your book, Everyday Revolutions,3 you continually return to the rejection of ideology and how important this has been for movements to create communities based in love and trust. It sounds like in Argentina, what is being rejected is the traditional ideology of Marxism that tends towards vanguardism, hierarchy, and so on. Is there something about all ideology that gets in the way of love and trust across differences?

MS: After the 2001 economic collapse people in Argentina came together from all sorts of backgrounds, as well as networked across all sorts of social classes and identity based groups. The unemployed with the formerly identified urban middle class, the Guarani and Mapuche with media collectives and children of the disappeared (HIJOS) and workers recuperating their workplaces with all of the above. People organized in their locations and came together out of necessity. They forced out four governments in the first months of the rebellion with sheer popular power – people in the streets banging pots and pans (cacerolando). No one called people together, not unions or political parties, they did not have formal leaderships, banners or posters, or even united slogans in the beginning. They came together banging pots and pans and created the song – Que se vayan todos, que no quede ni uno solo (They all must go, not even one shall remain). And it worked. They forced out presidents, heads of the judiciary, economy and other ministries. There was a rejection of what was – of political parties and forms of hierarchy (power over) that people saw as responsible for the economic crisis and mass privatization which in part destroyed the economy.

Again and again people who I spoke with while living there and those I’ve visited over the years insisted that they did not want to replicate the forms of organization that they saw as responsible … not only responsible for the crisis, but also all those groups and forms of organizing that were also seen as unable to respond sufficiently to these groups – so forms on the right and left. All political parties. So, yes, what you suggest with a rejection of Marxism as an ideology is true, but it was also true for anything that seemed to harken a pre-formed ideology or set of ideas. People wanted to create things anew – social relationships and forms of organizing. And this is where we get to some of the ideas in your next question. There were and continue to be consistent forms and ways of thinking about organizing and while it was in no way an ideology – there is an amazing consistency in the ways people across class and identity spoke and speak about these forms: new – rejecting the old – and creating something new in similar ways. I believe this is tied to what is being rejected, but will get to that next.

c&N: You continually point to the concepts of horizontalism, affective politics, autogestion, and autonomy as concepts that are widely shared among movements in Argentina. It’s clear that they’ve been central to constructing and sustaining movements, and warding off ideology and co-optation. You quote a number of movement participants who seem to refuse any concrete definition of the movements they’re part of, and you call these concepts “living words.” It seems clear that you and the voices you highlight are refusing rigid definitions of these terms–autonomy, horizontalism, love, and trust–so that they can be part of an ongoing discussion, and that this is different from an ideology. Can you say more about these differences? What is the difference between an ideological concept and a living word?

MS: First, the idea of a living word comes not from me, but people in the movements. I repeat it a lot since I love the way it captures what people are doing and striving towards, but it is for sure a concept that is also living and dynamic, from within the movements in Argentina. What is rejected is ideology, as I understand people in the movements, but this they mean any predetermined set of ideas or concepts that then are applied to life – to concrete situations. I don’t know that all ideology is rejected as an analysis for what is wrong in society – so elements of Marxism to explain capitalism … it is possible, but what is rejected is a set of ideas that will then “free” people or make for new social relationships. The focus of the movements is how people organize and relate now – in the day to day – and from there construct the future. This already implies a dynamic as the everyday changes, and thus the future, as related to the everyday, must change. The same is true for the ideas around which much of the organizing takes place.

Take for example Horizontalidad– a word that did not exist before in Spanish, or if it did it might have been used a few years prior by HIJOS, the children of the disappeared in Argentina… Horizontalidad was and is described as a relationship, a way of coming together without power over the other, as a way of having conversations and relating more generally. It is always described as a changing relationship since as people relate to one another they change and the group changes, thus the concept of the tools used also must change, thus the living part of the word. It is ever-changing and dynamic as it is used in life by people… It is not a description of a relationship either – not direct or participatory democracy, nor consensus – it is a relationship itself that might or might not use these other tools.

Similarly, autonomy and autogestion. Autonomy was used, together with horizontalidadand autogestion to articulate the focus of the movements being on and with one another – not looking ‘up’ but horizontally. Seeing power as something created together, and also as a live thing, not something to take or be given. Autonomy has been used to distinguish both movements and groups, as well as individuals. Deciding for ourselves or oneself. Not having a party or politician dictate what to do or how… autonomy is a practice and dynamic – not an ideology and theory – and the danger of calling it a theory is that it can become less “alive” less of a practice. In a number of movements, when offered ‘gifts’ and subsides from the state, they continued to call themselves autonomous while simultaneously organizing based on the agenda of the state, and eventually the splits within the movements became too big. But that is another story, and entails sad militancy: with the stagnation of autonomy, the trust and care within the movements also unraveled.

One of the things that I believe has helped keep autonomy and horizontalidadas living words is the practices connected with them. It is not abstract. To be autonomous and horizontal is related to concrete practice. So what is that practice? Those movements that self-organize, from the recuperated workplaces (of which there are over 350) to the self-organized unemployed movements (a handful still) and media networks and alternative outlets (of which there are around ) have all continued, even with challenges, and they all argue that part of their ability to face the challenges posed by the state has been their level of self-organization or autogestion. They also intertwine this practice of autogestionwith a practice of autonomy and every changing relationships of horizontalidad.

This brings us to affective politics: a politics based in affect, trust, care and love, as people in the movements describe it. This is something I describe more earlier, but it cannot be left out of any question related to the dynamics of the movements and how they are rejecting ideology and instead are creating ever-changing dynamic relationships.

c&N: We have the sense that the situation in North America is a lot different Argentina and other places in Latin America. One of the most striking differences, from our perspective, is that the dense networks of love, care, and trust do not seem to exist in the same ways among the Left in North America, especially among European-descended settlers. What’s your impression of these differences, and what are the implications for movements in North America?

MS: Hmmm … I think a lot of this has to do with identity, class, experience and options in life. People who lack options, such as the unemployed workers in Argentina or the population facing a total economic collapse, have seemed to come together in very similar ways; both movements rejected hierarchy, power-over, and ideology while at the same time creating new ways of being together, self-organizing grounded in horizontal relationships and affect. As the movements continued over time it does seem like those that have self-organized out of necessity have lasted longer and continued with the same dynamic forms of organizing based in new social relationships.

Saying all this, I am now thinking about a conversation I recently had with two young people, one Mexican and one US, who had both been living in Oaxaca for years, collaborating with the Universidad de la Tierra and Gustavo Esteva in particular. They are now in another part of Mexico struggling to organize a social center, a small editorial (printing books and booklets) and a few other projects, all based in horizontal, autonomous and affective relationships. They are facing internal challenges for sure, and that is some of what we spoke about, but they continue and are quite motivated and really lovely, passionate, smart young organizers. They would be examples of people from the left, working with others on the left, to create these sorts of space – and while they need to self-organize to survive, it is not to the same degree as say the unemployed in Argentina. They could get other jobs, even if with difficulty … so maybe I am contradicting myself, or maybe the first response to organize with autogestion, autonomy and horizontalidad, developing and grounding in affect, is something that is first a response, but can also be something intentional, if one is very very careful with each step and moves slowly. And, if we could all spend years with Gustavo Esteva, learning and sharing, well, that would be a wonderful gift.

So, after being so wordy here, the conclusion is that while joyful militancy is easier to maintain in places where organizing is based in necessity and the rejection of ideology and pre-formed ways of organizing take root much faster, it is not impossible or even improbable in other spaces where people have less urgency and necessity in their survival questions and options … what it does require in these ‘left’ spaces is a lot of attention to maintaining relationships as flexible and ever-changing. Learning from our companeros in the global south.

c&N: Where do you see love, trust, horizontalism, and autonomy being generated and sustained in North America? Or, do you see other, alternative common notions that animate North American movements?

MS: While I do for sure see autonomy, horizontalism, affect, trust and love animating US and Canadian movements, it is not what occurs to me first for these regions. Too often, at least in the US, there is a sort of territoriality of left ideas and sadly ideologies, even in the more autonomous spaces, so rather than flexible and caring ideas guiding our actions and relationships we cling to ideas and notions such as autonomy as a rigid dogma – “I am more autonomous than you” using forms of comparison with actions and even life choices. It has even occurred more recently with horizontalism, so rather than seeing it as an ever-changing relationship that must change as people change and a group changes, it is used as a particular definition of a form of consensus decision-making. We saw this in particular around the Occupy plazas. I have no idea where this came from since it has nothing to do with the way Argentines use it, but instead people argued for horizontalism to mean absolute consensus, not the striving for consensus, but that all must discuss and agree with the exception of one. (Something impossible in groups of people who do not know one another and particularly large groups as we had in New York, with over a thousand or two thousand people in assemblies at times.) What this points to is the rigidity that people—even those who have not been organized in movement or groups before—tend towards, which is a sort of hierarchy of ideas instead of flexible open relationships … maybe we have not broken from the traditional forms of change on the left as many others have. Or maybe when we become more flexible, those who have preconceived ideas of how change should happen jump in so fast and occupy the space that it seems like that is the majority opinion when it is not. I could explore this more, but would rather begin to think about those spaces where people have organized in these more dynamic and open ways.

Historically, there are tons of examples from the history of the US as well as around the world – we just have to look for them and listen well. For example, SNCC was grounded in participatory and direct democracy, with attempts at creating leadership and horizontal relationships, as well as beloved community overall. The radical feminist movement is fairly well known for working on more affective and care-based ties, focusing on sharing personal stories and creating atmospheres of openness within the movement. Following chronologically is the Anti-Nuclear movement in the 1970s and 80s that in many areas was based in direct democracy and affinity groups, making sure to take care of each person bodily as well as with emotional support. I could go into many more examples, though that perhaps is for another project.

c&N: A common perception we’ve been grappling with is that joyful militancy is naïve—a failure to appreciate how bad things are (if you’re not sad/angry/cynical, you’re not paying attention) – how do you react to this?

MS: That is total nonsense. And I do not call many opinions nonsense, really, almost none. But from my experience, those people from whom I have learned about joyful militancy and affective politics are people in unemployed movements, people living in situations such as shanty towns, with nothing to live on and no real future prospects. Or, workers facing a life of unemployment taking over their factories. Or women in the Southern Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the south of the US. Here of course I did not participate, but have spoken to people who were involved in the movement and I read a great deal, and the concept of Beloved Community was key to what they were trying to construct. Inspired in part I believe by this form of organizing is now Black Lives Matter, who are best known for their interruptions in business as usual; less known is that the organizers try and ground their organizing explicitly in the politics of care and love. Black Lives Matter as a hashtag created by co-founder Patrisse Cullors was made famous almost instantaneously, though lesser known is the simultaneous “love letter” that was written by Alicia Garza, the other of the three women co-founders. Written to “Black folks” it speaks of the importance of loving oneself as well as organizing based in love. And recently, in interviews I have done and read with people who are spending lots of time in Rojava, from Janet Biehl to Kurdish women militant researchers, they all speak of the joy, happiness, laughter and smiles that fill the spaces of self-defense and creation that are the autonomous Cantons of Rojava. Women there speak of the importance of this care, joy and laughter. If they do not appreciate how “bad” things are, then, well, shit, no one does.

I do not write this to dismiss the question, it is an important one, and one I get all the time. Affect is not seen as serious. Both due to what people think is something “soft” or not looking to the bad, but also I think it is a deeply gendered and race-based argument. The people I know who are or did ground their organizing explicitly in affect, joy and beloved community are on the margins of society – they are women in groups and networks all over the world, the unemployed and queer movements in Argentina, SNCC in the US and currently the coordinators of Black Lives Matter, women in Rojava … I could go on and on, but the reality is the opposite of the argument being put forward. I do not want to place ideological or identity boxes on those posing these questions, but from my experience they do not come from similar backgrounds as the movements and networks I just mentioned. And last, forget academia. The idea that affective politics or love based organizing is seen as serious in social movement theory is just, well, not happening. I have been asked so many times, “what is that?” and then told to remove it from articles (which I refuse). Emotion yes, and negative emotion, for sure, but love and affect, no, it is seen as not serious. Who dominates the academic world? Some real similarities with those on the left also making the critique. But, I don’t want to spiral into who is to blame for not taking it seriously; it is not particularly useful. Most important is to do what you both are doing, which is bringing this form of organizing more into the public discourse as an option for organizing.

Notes

1 The English translation of this book, edited by Marina Sitrin, was published as Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina. Oakland: AK Press, 2006

2 Earlier in our process of researching and writing the book, we were using the concept of ‘sad militancy’ to describe the ways that radicalism can be intertwined with shame, fear, guilt and ideological purism. We later changed ‘sad militancy’ to ‘rigid radicalism’ in the book, in order to avoid confusion with the emotion of sadness.

3 Marina Sitrin. Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina. London: Zed Books, 2012.

Tags: IASjoyful militancy
Categories: News

Is the Blockchain Giving Anarchism a New Lease of Life?

Anarchist News - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:41

by Malachy Caldwell, via ICO Examiner

Some of us believe various forms of strong cryptography will cause the power of the state to decline, perhaps even collapse fairly abruptly. We believe the expansion into cyberspace, with secure communications, digital money, anonymity and pseudonymity, and other crypto-mediated interactions, will profoundly change the nature of economies and social interactions.

Those words were written by crypto-anarchist Timothy May a quarter century ago. At the time, in a world which was barely discovering the newly emerging potential of the internet, they appeared to many to have a wishful charm about them. Today they are beginning to appear prophetic.

Blockchain-based Social Organisation

May was an accomplished software engineer. He was also a committed anarchist, author of the Crypto Anarchist Manifesto, and believed in the ability of technology to bypass existing models of social organisation. Whilst that belief was shared by many others, what set him apart from many of his peers was his belief in the power of cryptography-based technology to also supplant those existing models.

At the time, the idea of a technologically-inspired anarchism appeared far-fetched, including to many committed cypherpunks from within his own circle. Today, with the advent of blockchain technologies, new platforms are now emerging, such as BitNation, which offer individuals the ability to enter voluntarily into new social arrangements with a wider community whose philosophy and values they both share and help to define. It is the very definition of anarchism.

Those platforms will soon offer up the ability for individuals with a shared vision to interact with others of similar outlook in a myriad of ways, be it through commercial trade, co-operatives, discussion groups or as political lobbies.

Whist this has been happening up to an extent with traditional internet-based community organisation, with blockchain technology which now provides trust and transparency in a system and its laws, May’s prophecy looks set more than ever to come true.

The caveat is that, for the time being, these new communities are likely going to have to exist in parallel with existing methods of social organisation that they may otherwise resent or mistrust.

What will be interesting to observe, however, is whether these new blockchain-inspired anarchistic communities now serve as models of alternative organisation for social relations in the real world.

Whilst no-one may be able to make that call, however things pan out, the blockchain revolution does nonetheless look set to be something more than a technical one.

Tags: cryptocurrencyMSMcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Police probe sheds light into clash between drug dealers and anarchists in Exarchia

Anarchist News - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:37

by Yiannis Souliotis, via ekathimerini.com

A police investigation has shed light into a clash between drug and arms dealers and anarchists in the central Athens neighborhood of Exarchia, Kathimerini has learned.

Meanwhile 29 Greek and Albanian nationals are to face charges in the wake of a major police crackdown in the area.

During the operation carried out between December and March 9 police tapped phone conversations and infiltrated the ranks of the suspects as they sought to control the drug trade in Exarchia Square and nearby pedestrian Mesolongiou Street.

The suspects allegedly sold cannabis to users in 2- and 4-gram bags at 10 and 20 euros respectively. They also sold 1-gram cocaine wraps for 55 euros. Police say the drugs were mixed with adulterants before being sold on the street.

Police say the racket employed Algerian migrants as dealers and often resorted to threats and violence to intimidate the competition. In a tapped conversation dated January 19, one of the suspects urges a 25-year-old accomplice, nicknamed “Levendis,” to join him in an attack on Egyptian street vendors. “The Egyptians are here, let’s go slap them about a bit,” he says. “I’ll have something to eat and I’ll join you,” says the other.

Investigators found that the suspects were also selling weapons. Speaking to one of his accomplices in December, one of the suspects brags about a newly purchased air gun. “Oh brother, you know what I just bought? It will blow your mind. It can take out the best of them at a distance of 3 meters.”

The drug traffickers were repeatedly targeted by anarchists, who have a strong presence in Exarchia.

In early February, a group of anarchists vandalized a restaurant on Andreas Metaxas Street believed to be a gang hangout. Two weeks later, anarchists raided an apartment used as a drug den by the racket.

“The regular assaults and the daily drug trafficking made the members of the organization undesirables in the area, resulting in initially sporadic and subsequently more frequent attacks by hooded [individuals] against members of the criminal organization,” a police report said.

Tags: GreeceExarchiadrugsMSMcategory: International
Categories: News

Lock Down Halts Bayou Bridge Pipeline Construction, As State Tries to Ram Through Anti-Protest Bill

It's Goin Down - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 05:15

The post Lock Down Halts Bayou Bridge Pipeline Construction, As State Tries to Ram Through Anti-Protest Bill appeared first on It's Going Down.

Today the L’eau Est La Vie Camp successfully shut down again construction on the Bayou Bridge pipeline. The action comes at a time when the State is attempting to pass an anti-protest bill that would further criminalize anti-pipeline organizing in Louisiana. To hear our podcast interview with L’eau Est La Vie Camp, go here. 

The Bayou Bridge pipeline, the tail end of the Dakota Access pipeline, which threatens land, water, and livelihoods of millions of residents, plants, and animals in Louisiana, has been the ongoing target of a grassroots resistance campaign. At the center of the campaign is the L’eau Est La Vie Camp, which in the last several weeks has launched a slew of actions against the pipeline project. On the morning of April 5th, the group launched a blockade of a key supply yard. They wrote on social media:

Early this morning two Louisiana school teachers carried out a “Crawfish Boil” lock-down action that shut down a key supply yard for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

The lock-down lasted for several hours and blocked the entrance of a site that stores the equipment which Energy Transfer Partners needs to carry out construction on wetlands. It was during this action that Cherri Foytlin was targeted and arrested while live streaming. Police then arrested another water protector who was on the scene. All four people have been released, but their legal battle will continue.

In another statement, the two teachers detailed why the took part in the blockade:

“What worries me is the fate of Louisiana children. If we allow the Bayou Bridge pipeline to threaten our food and culture, we will have to question why we are willing to deprive our kids of what has sustained us. Will we really allow an out of state company, Energy Transfer Partners, to drill and splinter away at a crawfish habitat?”

– Sue Prevost

“There are many reasons that the Bayou Bridge Pipeline shouldn’t be built. Destroying our supply of crawfish is one of them. As a local and an educator, I’m aware of the growing decimation of our land and water by the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. I’ve seen it in the basin and it’s a nightmare. Are we really going to allow Energy Transfer Partners to drill and splinter away our fragile ecosystems? Are we really willing to lose our great crawfish population– the center of our food legacy and culture to an out-of-town company when the benefits will go to pad the pockets of out-of-town greed? I thought our governor would have stopped this havoc by now. We can’t afford the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. We can’t afford to lose our crawfish or to be susceptible to the recent catastrophic spillages like the ones in Pennsylvania and in Ohio. We deserve more– especially our kids.”

– Renate Heurich

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LIVE from Calcasieu Parish where Water Protectors are blocking the movement of construction materials. Two teachers are locked down.#DAPL #NoBBPL #KelcyWarren #BayouBridge #ETP #Fractivists #louisiana

Posted by Louisiana Bucket Brigade on Thursday, April 5, 2018

One of those targeted for arrest today was Cherri Foytlin, one of the camp’s indigenous elder’s and leaders. Cherri was simply livestreaming at the time of her arrest, and was clearly targeted (along with three other water protectors) by the police for her role in ongoing organizing against the pipeline. Video of her arrest can be seen below:

BREAKING. Cherri Foytlin, an amazing mother & organizer with the L’eau Est La Vie Camp, was just targeted and arrested by Louisiana police while live streaming an action.

CALL the Calcasieu Parish Sheriffs Office and DEMAND that they release Cherri: 337-491-3715. #NoBayouBridge pic.twitter.com/GRIfZXaODE

— Leau Est La Vie Camp (@NoBayouBridge) April 5, 2018

Foytlin’s arrest comes hot on the heels of the introduction of LA HB727 into the Louisiana House of Representatives. If passed, the bill could further criminalize protesters with ‘conspiring’ to enter onto pipeline construction sites. As with similar proposed laws targeting Black Lives Matter protesters for blocking freeways, this bill attempts to make things that are already crimes even harsher. As Allen Brown and Will Parish wrote in The Intercept:

Louisiana House of Representatives introduced new legislation aimed at criminalizing the activities of groups protesting the extraction, burning, and transport of oil and gas. The bill is similar to a model created by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. Indeed, in the wake of the massive protest movement at Standing Rock, which attempted to prevent completion of the Dakota Access pipeline, at least seven states have introduced or passed “critical infrastructure” legislation. Louisiana’s version comes as opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline have ramped up protest activities in the state, staging occupations and blockades aimed at halting construction of the project.

The legislation creates new crimes that would punish groups for “conspiring” to trespass on critical infrastructure sites and prescribes particularly harsh penalties for those whose ideas, if carried out, would disrupt the operations of such infrastructure. The definition of the term critical infrastructure would be amended to include pipelines and pipeline construction sites. The language of the bill reaches far beyond cases of property destruction, and stands to net individuals who do not participate in or condone such activities.

The Louisiana bill, unlike the ALEC model, does not require that any disruption to a facility’s functioning take place for penalties to apply — an individual could face huge fines or prison time without ever having set foot on the property.

Those convicted of “conspiring” to trespass on a pipeline site would be imprisoned for a maximum of five years, fined a maximum of $10,000, or both. If the conspirators’ plan involved disrupting the pipeline’s construction, they would be imprisoned for between six and 20 years, fined a maximum of $250,000, or both.

In the face of this growing repression, support, funds, and solidarity is needed now more than ever. The L’eau Est La Vie Camp has released the following list of ways to help:

– if you haven’t yet, please consider donating to support our resistance: bit.ly/nobbp
– apply to join our Camp: Nobbp.org
– pledge to take action to resist the Bayou Bridge pipeline: http://bit.ly/PledgeToResist
– find a solidarity target and take action: www.NoBayouBridge.global

Follow the battle against the Bayou Bridge pipeline here and here.

Categories: News

Marvel's "Black Panther" and Uncolonized African Sexuality

Truth Out - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 04:00

One of the most exciting aspects of the fictional land of Wakanda in Black Panther is its depiction of Black people sans colonialism's racial hierarchies about desirability. The central love story is revolutionary in its potential for more film depictions of Black sexuality and love free from the historical baggage of hyper-sexualized Black people.

 Disney / Marvel Studios)Florence Kasumba, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, and Lupita Nyong'o in Black Panther. (Photo: Disney / Marvel Studios)

How much do I know about Wakanda? Not a lot, but I'll bet they have really good sex.

When I decided to write about my reaction to Marvel's Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda from my perspective as a first-generation Nigerian immigrant, sex wasn't the first thing to come to mind.

But the more I saw of this hidden nation -- free of the historical scars of colonialism, as well as the movie's unambiguously Black and sexy cast -- the more I realized that one of the most exciting aspects of Wakanda was as a world where Black people were free of the baggage of racial hierarchies about desirability.

Sex and desire often feel like the last taboos within the social justice space, too intertwined with feelings of guilt, self-hate and ambiguity for many people to begin to broach. And while there is a new willingness to dismantle European standards of beauty, there is still a real reluctance to discuss how the shadow of colonialism rises in our intimate relationships.

This reluctance is all too familiar to me.

Growing up, I was raised to be proud, if not borderline arrogant, about my heritage. However, as a child of Nigerian immigrants and grandparents, the deep imprint of colonial rule on the modern African identity was difficult to escape.

Below the layer of pride, the scar tissue of white supremacy was all too visible.

As a child, it materialized in compliments about my medium-brown complexion from relatives, and the monthly ritual of chemical perms. Today, it is seen in the global market for skin lightening -- a practice prevalent throughout Africa, Asia and the Caribbean -- that is projected to grow into a $23 billion industry by 2020.

In recent years, it's reared its head in our romantic interactions online. Indeed, Black women and Asian men are consistently rated on dating sites as less attractive than people of other races and ethnicities.

In popular entertainment, tropes of the Black "welfare queen," the "mammy" and the "Jezebel" are still prominent in depictions of Black female characters. Our own research at The Opportunity Agenda shows that people of color continue to be underrepresented in film and television, and when they are present, are often depicted as violent or criminal, or in minor roles.

The relationship between colonialism, voyeurism and fetishization is old. Sarah Baartman, a Southwestern Africa Khoikhoi woman bought as a slave in the early 19th century and exhibited in "freak shows" in London and Paris, is one of the best-recorded examples of this connection.

According to Columbia University professor of African art Zoë Strother, in her article "Display of the Body Hottentot," Baartman's sexualized depiction "represented a fantasy creature without language or culture, without memory or consciousness, who could never actually threaten the viewer with the sexual power of Venus."

More recently, a 2017 report published by Georgetown University Law School's Center on Poverty and Inequality found that Black girls are viewed by adults as less innocent, in less need of nurturing and more knowledgeable about sex than their white counterparts.

But in Wakanda, there is no voyeur or point of comparison. In Wakanda, T'Challa, the Black Panther, is left frozen by the beauty of Nakia -- an intensity and an affection in sharp contrast to the disregard for Black women shown by his enemy, Erik Killmonger, who discards his nameless Black female lover with ease. Her callous execution midway through the movie encapsulates the feeling of disposability that characterizes the experiences of many Black women in the US.

And while the central love story in the movie was tamer than I'd expected, the intimacy depicted between T'Challa and Nakia was revolutionary, not only in its originality, but in its potential to open the doors for more depictions of Black sexuality and love freed from historical baggage.

Black Panther has given me, and I am sure many other women, a vision of what is still possible, and confirmation of what I already knew: That we are beautiful, and in pressing need of greater visibility.

Categories: News

How Standing Rock Is Leading by Example on Renewable Energy

Truth Out - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 04:00

The protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline may have failed to stop Big Oil for now, but the folks at Standing Rock have taken their fight to other fronts. Water Protectors are taking proactive steps to move the Standing Rock Sioux reservation toward renewable energy and plans are also being proposed to move both North and South Dakota to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

 Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty Images)Giant flood lights set up by a pipeline company and law enforcement illuminate a cloudy winter night at the Oceti Sakowin camp just outside of the Lakota Sioux reservation of Standing Rock, North Dakota, on December 1, 2016. (Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein / Getty Images)

The Trump administration quickly overturned the December 2016 decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to halt the construction of the infamous Dakota Access Pipeline -- almost as quickly as Trump took office. Subsequent challenges in court failed to prevent the pipeline from being completed and going into operation. Rather than concede defeat, Water Protectors have shifted their focus and efforts to battling the oil and coal industry on different fronts.

On the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the Water Protector camps are no longer standing, but some organizers who lived and organized in those camps are now shaping the movement to shift the reservation away from its dependence on fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

In 1956, the Standing Rock Sioux sued the Army Corps of Engineers and was promised -- as part of the settlement over the creation of dams on the Missouri River that stole part of the reservation's land and resources -- free electricity for the reservation. Instead, the reservation pays some of the highest rates for electricity in both North and South Dakota. Some residents pay $1,000 a month in electric bills, even as more than 40 percent of individuals on the reservation live below the poverty line.

In order to alleviate these steep electricity bills and the reservation's dependence on electric companies charging high rates for usage, the reservation is working toward creating a mandatory renewable energy standard, where, by 2030, 50 percent of North and South Dakota's energy will come from renewable resources, with a long-term goal of total renewable use. Currently, the majority of electricity in North Dakota is powered by coal.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab's "Disobedience Finalist Award" was given to the Standing Rock Water Protectors in July of 2017. The award is given to responsible, ethical disobedience in US society, and the Water Protectors received a $10,000 cash prize. On their behalf, Phyllis Young, Joseph White Eyes, Jasilyn Charger and LaDonna Bravebull Allard accepted the award. Young and Bravebull Allard called on MIT to develop a partnership to address the issues facing the Standing Rock reservation.

In January 2018, Young, a former council member for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the coordinator/organizer for Central Oceti Sakowin camp -- the main camp of Water Protectors at Standing Rock -- organized an energy summit on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation attended by several faculty and staff members from Solve MIT, a resource to connect technology innovators with financial partners and other technology experts to implement solutions for specific societal challenges. Shortly after, MIT announced the Solve fellowship with the Oceti Sakowin. Four to six members of the Oceti community will receive grants this year to complete renewable energy projects for the community. Fellows will attend an MIT event in May 2018, and another one in Standing Rock in August 2018.

As Solve MIT begins to identify fellows and projects to help support, the Lakota People's Law Project, a North Dakota-based legal group dedicated to "efforts to reclaim ancestral lands, and to stop all threats to Lakota land and resources," identified SuperGreen Solutions, a small renewable energy group in Bismarck, North Dakota, working to increase energy efficiency and propose renewable energy systems using wind and solar power. The company has already assessed two of eight districts in the reservation to come up with specific proposals for implementing new systems for energy efficiency.

"Tens of millions of dollars can be saved by Standing Rock and millions of pounds of carbon prevented from entering the atmosphere," said Danny Paul Nelson, deputy director of the Lakota People's Law Project.

"Anything we can do to save these communities' resources for social welfare and basic living is a huge benefit from a social justice point of view, but the environmental impact is immense too. There is an opportunity here to set an example for the world -- not just how to protest the creation of fossil fuel infrastructure, but also in how to create renewable energy infrastructure as a response to being bullied by the oil industry, which is how we interpret what happened with [the movement against the pipeline]."

The Lakota People's Law Project is pushing for a petition to implement what's known as a Renewable Portfolio Standard in North and South Dakota, which would mandate a shift in each state to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. The group is also advocating for other legislation that facilitates the shift toward renewable energy, like the solar access law that would permit residents to install solar energy infrastructure without the burden of regulations preventing them from doing so.

"North and South Dakota have nothing right now in place to facilitate the shift to renewable energy infrastructure. These states are heavily reliant on fossil fuels, even though these other options exist," says Nelson. He noted that Standing Rock can't act in isolation, and statewide legislation would help make Standing Rock's transition easier, as well as elevate awareness of renewable energy throughout North and South Dakota.

"Coal and oil reign supreme in the Dakotas. They have so much power no one even questions them, and people barely even know what solar is. Rather than it being a battle, there is a vacuum of understanding and interest in green energy. Our interest is in stoking vigorous engagement, with Standing Rock providing leadership in making that happen," he said.

Categories: News

Judge Suspends Release of Herman Bell, Elderly Black Panther Jailed 45 Years, Amid Police Pressure

Truth Out - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 04:00

A judge in New York has suspended the release of Herman Bell, a 70-year-old prisoner who has been granted parole after 45 years in prison. Bell was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the killing of two New York City police officers in 1971. At the time, he was a member of the Black Liberation Army and a former Black Panther. Since then, he has mentored thousands of young men while behind bars and kept a clean disciplinary record. State-mandated tests show he would pose the lowest possible risk if he is allowed to re-enter society. In March, the New York Parole Board granted parole for Bell, noting he had expressed remorse and was likely to lead a "law-abiding life." State law requires commissioners to consider such factors, but they've only recently started to comply. On Wednesday, a state judge agreed to hear a challenge from the widow of one of the officers, who says the board violated procedure. A hearing on the petition is set for April 13, just days before Bell's earliest originally scheduled release date. We speak with Robert Boyle, lawyer for Herman Bell, who says the board followed the rules. We are also joined by Jose Saldaña, who was incarcerated in New York until he was released by the parole board earlier this year in January, after 38 years inside. He knew Herman Bell and is now an organizer with the group RAPP, Release Aging People from Prison, who has helped push for parole reform.

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

Brazil's Popular Ex-President Lula Ordered to Prison After Politically Motivated Trial and Conviction

Truth Out - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 04:00

A judge on Thursday ordered former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to turn himself in to police within 24 hours and begin serving a 12-year sentence for a controversial corruption conviction, effectively removing him from Brazil's presidential election later this year, where he was the front-runner. Lula is a former union leader who served as president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010. During that time, he helped lift tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty. His supporters say the ruling against him is a continuation of the coup that ousted Lula's ally Dilma Rousseff from power last year. We play excerpts from our recent interview with Lula and get an update from Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and president of Just Foreign Policy, who argues "the investigation is political, and that everything [Judge Moro is] trying to do is political, including the latest order that Lula surrender today."

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today's show in Brazil, where a judge on Thursday ordered former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to turn himself in to police within 24 hours to begin serving a 12-year sentence for a controversial corruption conviction. The Supreme Court's rejection of Lula's bid to stay out of jail while he appeals effectively removes him from Brazil's presidential election later this year, where he was the front-runner.

Lula is a former union leader who served as president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010. During that time, he helped lift tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty. His supporters say the ruling against him is a continuation of the coup that ousted Lula's ally, President Dilma Rousseff, from power last year. On Thursday, Rousseff continued to defend Lula.

DILMA ROUSSEFF: [translated] They want to turn off Brazil's history, to gloss over what we did the last 13 years in our terms in office.

AMY GOODMAN: Early today, Lula appeared at his party's headquarters and briefly waved to his supporters, but made no comment. During an interview on Democracy Now! last month, President Lula said his prosecution is part of an attempt to criminalize the Workers' Party.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] We are awaiting the accusers, for the accusers to show at least some piece of evidence that indicates that I committed any crime during the period that I was in the presidency. Now, what is behind that is the attempt to criminalize my political party. What is behind that is the interest in a part of the political elite of Brazil, together with a part of the press, reinforced by the role of the judiciary, in preventing Lula from becoming a candidate in the 2018 elections.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we go to Washington, D.C., for an update from Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and president of Just Foreign Policy. Weisbrot's new book is called Failed: What the Experts Got Wrong About the Global Economy.

Mark Weisbrot, first, can you talk about -- respond to the Supreme Court ruling, explain what it is and what this means if Lula were to go to jail today.

MARK WEISBROT: Yes, well, the Supreme Court ruled that he could be imprisoned while his appeals are pending, even though the constitution says pretty clearly that no one will be considered guilty until all their appeals have been exhausted. So, and then, of course, with amazing speed, the trial judge -- it went back to the lower court and then the trial judge, within hours, yesterday. And the trial judge ordered that he be -- he surrender to authorities today by 5:00 Brazilian time.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain this case?

MARK WEISBROT: Yes. Well, I mean, the biggest thing is that he was convicted without material evidence. So, he's accused -- Lula was accused of accepting a bribe in the form of remodeling of an apartment. And the big problem -- and Lula mentioned this in his interview on Democracy Now!, which I think was really, really important. I hope people read that transcript, because he explained a lot of this. But, basically, they didn't have material evidence that he ever accepted this apartment, that he ever stayed in it, that he ever -- he didn't have title to it. In fact, he didn't, any of those things.

And the evidence that they had was really just one witness, who was a construction company executive who had already pled guilty and was plea bargaining. And he had his sentence reduced from something like 16 to two years, in an exchange for implicating Lula. And, in fact, according to press reports in Brazil, in Folha de São Paulo, he actually -- they actually cut off his plea bargaining, because he originally told a story similar to Lula's, and they cut off his plea bargaining until he said what they wanted to hear -- that is, implicated Lula. And that's the evidence they have for the so-called crime.

And, you know, it's kind of misreported in the press, because they said he was convicted of taking a bribe and money laundering, but that's all the same thing. The money laundering just means that he took -- supposedly took this apartment instead of cash.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn back to Lula. He was speaking last month on Democracy Now!, describing the federal judge presiding over his case, Judge Sérgio Moro.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] Now, if my innocence is proven, then Judge Moro should be removed from his position, because you can't have a judge who is lying in the judgment and pronouncing as guilty someone who he knows is innocent. He knows that it's not my apartment. He knows that I didn't buy it. He knows that I didn't pay anything. He knows that I never went there. He knows that I don't have money from Petrobras. The thing is that because he subordinated himself to the media, I said, in the first hearing with him, "You are not in a position to acquit me, because the lies have gone too far." And the disgrace is that the one who does the first lie continues lying and lying and lying to justify the first lie. And I am going to prove that he has been lying.

AMY GOODMAN: Mark Weisbrot, can you respond?

MARK WEISBROT: Yes. I think this is very important, because, you know, you don't see this, really, in the -- you can search the media coverage. You almost never see anything where the evidence of the case is discussed, even though it's all on the web -- there's a 238-page sentencing document from this judge that discusses all the evidence and all the things that Lula just mentioned and I just mentioned -- and they just treat it as though it's a fact, every -- you know, he's guilty, and that's all there is to it. So I think that's very important.

And also, the judge's -- Judge Sérgio Moro's animus is very evident, his prejudice. For example, he had to apologize to the Supreme Court for having released illegal wiretaps of Lula's conversations with Dilma and with his lawyer and his family, and released this to the public. And he did other things, as well, to try and try the case in the media -- for example, having Lula arrested at his home with a lot of police, you know, where he had always volunteered for questioning. There was no doubt that he was available for questioning. And they had to take him away in front of the cameras and notify the media in advance. So, there are so many things that he did that show that he really is political, that the investigation is political, and that everything he's trying to do is political, including the latest order that Lula surrender today.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Lula speaking on Democracy Now!, when I asked him about the press acting as prosecutor in his case.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I was president for eight years. Dilma was president for four years. And for 12 years, all the press did was to try to destroy my image and her image and the image of my party. I have more negative subject matter about me in the leading television news program of Brazil than all of the presidents in the whole history of Brazil. In other words, it's a daily attempt to massacre me, to tell untruths about Lula, about Lula's family. And the only weapon that I have is to confront them. And they're irritated, because after they massacred me for four years, any opinion poll by any polling institute showed that Lula was going win the elections in Brazil.

AMY GOODMAN: During my interview with Lula last month, I asked him if he would consider stepping aside, running for president, if his case did not go well in the Supreme Court.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] First of all, Amy, I'm very optimistic, very optimistic. Now, if that were to happen and I was not able -- were not able to be a candidate, if my name is not on the ballot, I think that the party would call a convention and discuss what to do. I am going to require that and call for justice to be done in the country.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was President Lula speaking on Democracy Now! just a few weeks ago. Mark Weisbrot, what will happen now? Do you expect Lula to turn himself in today? And what does this mean for this presidential race in Brazil, one of the largest countries in the world?

MARK WEISBROT: Yes, first, I do want to say how important what he said about the media is. I mean, if we had a media like this in the United States, Barack Obama never would have been elected, because most of the country would have believed he was Muslim and not born in the United States. And so, this is the kind of media you have there. And the impeachment of Dilma, for example, would never, I don't think, have happened without this kind of constant barrage of media against both of those leaders and against the Workers' Party.

So I don't know what he's going -- I mean, I assume he's going to do what he said, and surrender to the authorities. Now, we don't really know what's going to happen from there. He's going to -- he said he's going to continue to run for president. Theoretically, he could even win from jail. That's not likely, because there's another court, having to do with the electoral decision, that would probably say that he -- or possibly say -- I think probably say that he isn't eligible to run. I mean, the whole point of this is to keep him from running, because he is the front runner and he would probably win in October. And that's largely because of what, you know, he and the Workers' Party accomplished in their 14 years in power. And that's what really this is all about. I mean, it's about the traditional elite taking what they couldn't win at the ballot box for 14 years.

So, we'll see what happens. I don't think it's over yet, because he can -- you know, he's going to -- I mean, there's millions and millions of people in Brazil who -- in fact, there was a poll last year that said 41 percent of the public thought he was being railroaded by the media and the judicial system. And so, they will see him as a political prisoner, and they will see any election that's held without him in October as illegitimate. So, I think there's going to be a continued fight, either to elect him or, if that's not possible, to elect someone else from the Workers' Party.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Mark, I asked Lula about the candidate polling second in Brazil's election, Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right-wing congressman, former soldier, who's been called the "Brazilian Trump."

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] He is a member of the federal Congress. He was an Army captain in the Brazilian Army. The information that we have is that he was expelled from the Brazilian army. And his behavior is far-right-wing, fascist. He is very much prejudiced against women, against blacks, against indigenous persons, against human rights. He believes that everything can be resolved with violence. So, I don't think he has a future in Brazilian politics.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Mark Weisbrot, as we wrap up, if you can comment on Bolsonaro and also the current president, Michel Temer, and any role he may be playing in all of this?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, this is a real threat, not only of Bolsonaro himself, but also the violence that has -- you know, has been happening and threatened, as you reported and Lula talked about in his interview. You had the assassination on March 17th of Marielle Franco, the city councilor and Afro-Brazilian activist in Rio. On March 27th, Lula's caravan was shot at. And you have two Army officers, just in the last few days, saying very threatening things, the first one saying that if Lula were eventually elected, there would have to be some kind of military intervention, and then the head of the armed forces appearing to endorse that by saying, the day before the Supreme Court decision, that the -- you know, he made this speech against impunity, indicating, you know, which side the military was on in this case, and may have influenced the Supreme Court. So you have a lot of things that bring to mind the 1964 coup and the dictatorship that lasted until the late '80s. It's a very threatening and very dangerous situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Mark Weisbrot, of course, we'll continue to follow it. I want to thank you for being with us, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and president of Just Foreign Policy. His new book, Failed: What the "Experts" Got Wrong About the Global Economy. This is Democracy Now! If you want to see our full hour with Lula, with the former president of Brazil, you can go to democracynow.org.

When we come back, the investigative reporter who exposed the first lie about military intervention during the Trump era. She's winning a George Polk Award today. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Cecil Taylor performing solo in 1984. The visionary jazz pianist and composer died Thursday in New York at the age of 89. The jazz magazine DownBeat once wrote, "In a more embracing cultural climate, [Cecil] Taylor … would stand a pivotal link in a musical time-line: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Bartok, Tatum, Taylor."

Categories: News

Arizona Teachers Strike Is the Answer to Years of Tax Cuts and Neglect of Education

Truth Out - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 04:00
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Arizona teachers are considering a strike, following the recent West Virginia and now Oklahoma and Kentucky examples, if they don't receive their requested 20 percent pay raise. 

An official strike date hasn't been set, but the teachers, following the playbooks from West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, have staged multiple protests in individual districts and at the state capitol in Phoenix for the last five weeks, using the #RedforEd hashtag on Twitter to announce and document their protests. At the capitol this Wednesday, one group of teachers gave the legislature a progress report, and there are more "walk-ins," with teachers marching into their school buildings to demand better pay.  

Teachers... what are you going to do if our Legislature doesn’t give you the salary and respect you deserve? #RedForEd pic.twitter.com/Vzn5P2LPfj

— Steve Weichert (@SteveWeichert) March 29, 2018

The organizing was fueled by a grassroots energy so strong, Thomas noted, it "caught everyone off guard." As in Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kentucky, they've been organizing through Facebook groups (which grew to 40,000 members in just three weeks, according to Thomas).

"We have the worst pay in the nation for our teachers," he continued, but pay is just the tip of the iceberg. Arizona teachers have been struggling with years of divestment from Republican governors who slashed education funding to pay for tax cuts.

Thomas dates the worst of Arizona's tax cuts back to the reaction to the 2008 Great Recession. "Before the recession, we were spending $1,000 more a student on supplies, teacher salaries and staff hirings and building repair, all of the money that goes into that."

Instead of investing in infrastructure and social services to spur post-Great Recession economic activity, Arizona's Republican governor at the time, Jan Brewer, voted for a package of corporate tax cuts, which she admitted in 2017 may have been too severe. She told the Arizona Capitol Times,

"Of course, it was a little bit too aggressive." The result, Brewer said, has been a reduction in revenues needed for state services. "Sooner or later, you have to pay the fiddler," she said.

Current Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, also a Republican, doesn't agree. Just days ago he declined to give teachers the 20 percent raise they asked for, and also vowed, as the Arizona Daily Sun reported, "to reverse any of the hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate tax cuts that have kicked in since he took office," some of which were signed when Brewer was still in office. "Each $100 million that was lost would translate to a 3 percent pay hike for teachers."

The strikes are contagious. It's been only a few weeks since West Virginia teachers went on strike, but earlier this week, Oklahoma teachers made good on the promises union organizers Alicia Priest and Mary Best explained to AlterNet in March -- to strike if their request for an approximately $10,000 pay raise was not met. They did so following the passage of a bill that gave them only $6,000 of the $10,000 they demanded, after nearly a decade without any raises.

In Kentucky, too, teachers protested at the state capitol in Frankfort, against sweeping cuts to their pensions that put teachers' hopes for retirement in peril. Schools in at least 25 counties shut down last Friday, the Huffington Post reported, with teachers calling in sick or absent, and continued their walkout this week.

Writing about the red-state teacher revolt in the Washington Post, Paul Waldman explains that "Oklahoma is a particularly pure example of conservative philosophy." Since 1992, "state law mandates a 75 percent supermajority in both houses of the legislature to raise taxes." The rule was in response to a 1990 tax increase that was specifically for school funding. Waldman argues that this "has led them to where they are today, with four-day school weeks, cold buildings and decades-old textbooks."

When teachers bring these concerns to state legislatures, they're met with disdain. "Then [they] hold out empty pockets, saying, well, we can't fund education -- when they deliberately, annually cut taxes," Thomas said. "That's going to make the next year's funding even harder."

Thomas fears a teacher exodus to surrounding, better-paying states is coming. He explained, "Teachers in Arizona can go to any surrounding state and get a significant raise... I believe both Utah and Colorado are about a $10,000 raise. New Mexico, on average, pays their teachers $15,000 more than Arizona teachers are paid."

"We need a billion-dollar reinvestment just to get back where we were 10 years ago," Thomas continued, explaining why teachers are asking for a 20 percent raise. "That's the part that the public struggles with because you almost can't believe a governor or a legislature would let... students and schools face such peril."

Strikes or walkouts in four states and counting might do something to change that. 

Categories: News

Just a Small Bug

Truth Out - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 04:00
Categories: News

Quit Rates Jump to 17 Year High in March

Truth Out - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 04:00

The percentage of unemployment due to people who voluntarily quit their jobs jumped to 13.1 percent in March, the highest level since May of 2001. This statistic is a good measure of workers' confidence in the labor market, since it means that they are prepared to leave a job even before they have new one lined up. Until this month, the quit rate had been unusually low (mostly under 11.0 percent) given the levels of unemployment we were seeing. The March level is more consistent with an unemployment rate near 4.0 percent.

This is also coinciding with some evidence of an uptick in wage growth. While the year-over-year rate was just 2.7 percent, the annualized rate, compared the average for the last three months (January, February, and March) with the prior three months (October, November, and December), was 3.2 percent. This suggests that workers may finally be getting back some of the share of income they lost to profits in the Great Recession.

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Categories: News

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