Anti-ICE Vigil Grows into Occupation in Portland

It's Goin Down - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 19:37

The post Anti-ICE Vigil Grows into Occupation in Portland appeared first on It's Going Down.

A photo essay about how an anti-ICE vigil grew into an occupation in Portland.

A coalition group has begun an occupation at the ICE processing facility located at 4310 SW Macadam Avenue in Portland, Oregon. They demand an immediate end to the “Zero Tolerance” policy and an abolition of ICE.


Initial vigil.

A vigil Sunday night held over as members of the community decided stay and occupy. Numbers have fluctuated, but are growing steadily. Assemblies will be held every night at 8:30pm so that community decisions can be made about goals and methods.


Banner held outside of ICE.

This is a self-organized occupation, and its members encourage every person to Occupy the nearest ICE facility, GEO Group Office, Senator’s Office or public space and demand an end to ICE, borders and policing.


Sign at vigil.


Antifa flag at anti-ICE rally.

Stay up on the occupation on Facebook and on Twitter.

Categories: News

IG confirms he is reviewing whether Strzok's anti-Trump bias impacted launch of Russia probe

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 18:14

IG confirms he is reviewing whether Strzok's anti-Trump bias impacted launch of Russia probe | 19 June 2018 | Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed Tuesday that he is investigating whether FBI official Peter Strzok's anti-Trump bias factored into the launch of the bureau’s Russia probe. During a joint hearing before the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, Horowitz testified that his office was reviewing Strzok's anti-Trump text messages as part of a separate probe related to the Russia investigation. "It clearly shows a biased state of mind," Horowitz said, referring to text messages written as the FBI probe of Hillary Clinton's private email use was wrapping up and the Russia probe was getting underway. The most infamous text, revealed in last week's IG report on the Clinton email case, showed Strzok responding "We'll stop it" when his colleague and lover Lisa Page sought assurances that Trump would not become president.


Categories: News

Vigil for the health of Julian Assange to take place in London

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 18:08

Vigil for the health of Julian Assange to take place in London --The vigil coincides with the sixth anniversary of the WikiLeaks founder's self-imposed exile in London's Ecuadorian Embassy. | 19 June 2018 | A vigil will take place Tuesday evening outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the health of its longstanding resident Julian Assange. The vigil will be held between 6 and 8 p.m. local time. Tuesday marks six years since WikiLeaks founder Assange first entered the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges. The charges have since been dropped, but Assange is still wanted in the UK for skipping bail in 2012. He is concerned that if he leaves the embassy the US may also seek to extradite him on espionage charges.

Categories: News

The Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund makes first investments

Grassroots Economic Survival - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 18:05
Link: The Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund makes first investments

The Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund (CCIF) has approved the first investments from its $25 million fund. CCIF is currently closing nearly $1 million in four loans to co-operatives. In Nelson, BC, the capital will be used to support a business expansion. In Edmonton, AB, and in London, ON, the loans will provide mortgage financing for housing co-operatives.  Finally, a loan to the Conseil de la coopération de l'Ontario (CCO) will add support to a micro-lending program for co-operative enterprises.

The four investments represent the diversity of the co-operative sector and are clear examples of how CCIF can assist co-operatives in serving their communities alongside co-operative financial institutions.

Read the rest at CNW


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Lawyer for texting FBI official who told lover they could 'stop' Trump's election says he's willing to testify to Congress without pleading the Fifth

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 18:01

Lawyer for texting FBI official who told lover they could 'stop' Trump's election says he's willing to testify to Congress without pleading the Fifth --FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok infamously texted his lover that the two of them could 'stop' Donald Trump from becoming president --House Judiciary Committee chairman was preparing to subpoena him | 17 June 2018 | A senior FBI agent who remains employed by the Bureau despite telling his lover in 2016 that they could together 'stop' Donald Trump from becoming president is willing to testify before Congress, his lawyer said Sunday. For supporters of the president, Peter Strzok's name has become synonymous with institutional bias at the Justice Department and a 'deep state' of anti-Trump collaborators whose influence runs through the agency's highest levels. But attorney Aitan Goelman told The Washington Post that Strzok 'wants the chance to clear his name and tell his story.' Goelman promised the Post that Strzok would answer questions without invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, a tantalizing guarantee for Republicans who have already been drafting a subpoena to drag him to Capitol Hill.

Categories: News

Republican pressure intensifies to end family separations at border

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 17:55

Republican pressure intensifies to end family separations at border | 19 June 2018 | The Trump administration is facing mounting pressure from fellow Republicans and other allies to end the practice of separating children from parents caught illegally crossing the border, as backlash over the enforcement policy quickly escalates into a political crisis. Some GOP lawmakers want the administration to stop the policy on its own, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others are proposing emergency legislation. Meanwhile, GOP governors are pulling their state's National Guard troops from the border in protest. All this comes as President Trump and top Cabinet officials put the blame on Congress, in the run-up to a meeting late Tuesday between the president and House Republicans -- where discussion of the family-separation backlash will likely dominate.

Categories: News

House GOP 2019 budget calls for deep Medicare, Medicaid spending cuts

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 17:35

House GOP 2019 budget calls for deep Medicare, Medicaid spending cuts | 19 June 2018 | The House GOP budget proposal released Tuesday calls for a $5.4 trillion decrease in mandatory spending over a decade, including $537 billion in reductions to Medicare and $1.5 trillion in reductions to Medicaid and other health programs. Another $2.6 trillion in reductions would come from other mandatory spending programs that include welfare and anti-poverty programs...The budget also calls for a precipitous drop in non-defense spending over the next decade, even as defense spending rises.

Categories: News

Gowdy scorches Comey in blistering opening statement at IG hearing

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 17:31

Gowdy scorches Comey in blistering opening statement at IG hearing | 19 June 2018 | House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy scorched James Comey in a blistering opening statement at a high-profile congressional hearing on Tuesday, declaring "we can't survive with a justice system we don't trust." Gowdy kicked off the hearing featuring testimony from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on his review of the Hillary Clinton email case. The top DOJ watchdog is on Capitol Hill for the second day in a row to discuss the explosive report. But Gowdy launched into Tuesday's session -- a joint hearing held by the House oversight and judiciary panels -- with a fiery condemnation of the former FBI director and certain agents in the bureau he led.

Categories: News

Boston's First Cooperative Brewery is Opening Soon

Grassroots Economic Survival - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 17:25
Link: Boston’s First Cooperative Brewery, Democracy Brewing, Opens Soon in Downtown Crossing

After more than two years of planning, fundraising, and construction, the city’s first worker-owned and democratically run brewery is nearing a debut, and just in time for Independence Day. If all goes according to plan, the micro brewery, kitchen, and German style beer hall located at 35 Temple Place in Downtown Crossing will hold a series of soft openings in the coming weeks before welcoming the general public on that most patriotic of holidays, the 4th of July.

The brainchild of James Razsa, formerly a community organizer with a passion for economic justice, he concocted the idea while working at a fair-trade coffee co-op five years ago. A short time later he started learning the craft brewery ropes as a beer slinger for community focused Aeronaut Brewing in their Somerville taproom. He followed that up with an internship at John Harvard’s in Cambridge where he met Jason Taggart, the pub’s head brewer. The two hit it off, and when Razsa shared his idea of opening the area’s first cooperative brewery, a partnership was born.

Read the rest at Mass Brew Bros


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Julian Assange health fears: UK forcing Wikileaks chief to 'make impossible choice'

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 17:23

Julian Assange health fears: UK forcing Wikileaks chief to 'make impossible choice' | 19 June 2018 | Julian Assange's lawyers hit out at the UK and the WikiLeaks founder is being forced to make an "impossible choice" between his health and his safety...Mr Assange's team of lawyers claimed doctors have confirmed his protracted confinement in the Ecuador's London embassy is having a severe impact on the journalist’s physical and mental health. Calling for the intervention of the UN's Human Rights Council, they argued the UK is forcing Mr Assange, 46, to make an "impossible" choice. Human rights barrister Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers, representing the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, said: "The UK shows a deliberate disregard for his medical needs by forcing him to choose between his human right to asylum and his human right to medical treatment."

Categories: News

Caged Children and Terrified Infants: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Describes “Acts of Indecency” at Border

Truth Out - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 16:10

President Trump is continuing to blame Democrats for his administration’s practice of separating at least 2,000 children from their parents in recent weeks. He also doubled down on the practice in an address Monday, ahead of his meetings today with Republicans to discuss compromise legislation on a hardline immigration bill. We speak with Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Democrat of Texas. She has represented the 18th Congressional District since 1995, which includes most of central Houston. She is just back from the Texas border with Mexico, where she joined a delegation of lawmakers who visited a processing center in McAllen, Texas, and the Southwest Key Programs’ Casa Padre, which houses 1,500 children in Brownsville, Texas.

Please check back later for full transcript.

The post Caged Children and Terrified Infants: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Describes “Acts of Indecency” at Border appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

“Trump Creates Crises and Preys on Fear”: Rep. Jayapal on Policy of Separating Kids From Parents

Truth Out - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 16:01

Outrage is growing over the Trump administration’s separation of children from their parents along the US-Mexico border. On Monday, ProPublica released audio from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, in which children estimated to be between the ages of 4 and 10 years old are heard crying “Mama” and “Papi” after being separated from their parents. In another part of the audio, a Border Patrol agent is heard joking, in Spanish, “Well, we have an orchestra here. What’s missing is a conductor.” Video footage released by the US Border Patrol Monday shows migrant children in concrete-floored chain link cages, in an old warehouse in McAllen, Texas. A new Quinnipiac Poll shows roughly two-thirds of US voters oppose separating children from their parents at the border. About 7 percent of Democratic voters support the Trump policy, while 55 percent of Republicans support it. We speak with Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Democratic congressmember from Washington state. She has just helped announce a march on Washington and cities nationwide on June 30 against family separation. She is vice ranking member of the House Budget Committee and vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. On June 9 she visited a detention center in her home state and spoke with some of the 200 asylum-seekers held at the Sea-Tac Bureau of Prisons facility.

Please check back later for full transcript.

The post “Trump Creates Crises and Preys on Fear”: Rep. Jayapal on Policy of Separating Kids From Parents appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Girding for Confrontation: The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China

Truth Out - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 16:00

On May 30th, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a momentous shift in American global strategic policy. From now on, he decreed, the US Pacific Command (PACOM), which oversees all US military forces in Asia, will be called the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The name change, Mattis explained, reflects “the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans,” as well as Washington’s determination to remain the dominant power in both.   

What? You didn’t hear about this anywhere?  And even now, you’re not exactly blown away, right? Well, such a name change may not sound like much, but someday you may look back and realize that it couldn’t have been more consequential or ominous.  Think of it as a signal that the US military is already setting the stage for an eventual confrontation with China.

If, until now, you hadn’t read about Mattis’s decision anywhere, I’m not surprised since the media gave it virtually no attention — less certainly than would have been accorded the least significant tweet Donald Trump ever dispatched.  What coverage it did receive treated the name change as no more than a passing “symbolic” gesture, a Pentagon ploy to encourage India to join Japan, Australia, and other US allies in America’s Pacific alliance system. “In Symbolic Nod to India, US Pacific Command Changes Name” was the headline of a Reuters story on the subject and, to the extent that any attention was paid, it was typical.

That the media’s military analysts failed to notice anything more than symbolism in the deep-sixing of PACOM shouldn’t be surprising, given all the attention being paid to other major international developments — the pyrotechnics of the Korean summit in Singapore, the insults traded at and after the G7 meeting in Canada, or the ominous gathering storm over Iran.  Add to this the poor grasp so many journalists have of the nature of the US military’s strategic thinking.  Still, Mattis himself has not been shy about the geopolitical significance of linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans in such planning.  In fact, it represents a fundamental shift in US military thinking with potentially far-reaching consequences.

Consider the backdrop to the name change: in recent months, the US has stepped up its naval patrols in waters adjacent to Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea (as has China), raising the prospect of future clashes between the warships of the two countries. Such moves have been accompanied by ever more threatening language from the Department of Defense (DoD), indicating an intent to do nothing less than engage China militarily if that country’s build-up in the region continues.  “When it comes down to introducing what they have done in the South China Sea, there are consequences,” Mattis declared at the Shangri La Strategic Dialogue in Singapore on June 2nd.

As a preliminary indication of what he meant by this, Mattis promptly disinvited the Chinese from the world’s largest multinational naval exercise, the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), conducted annually under American auspices.  “But that’s a relatively small consequence,” he added ominously, “and I believe there are much larger consequences in the future.”  With that in mind, he soon announced that the Pentagon is planning to conduct “a steady drumbeat” of naval operations in waters abutting those Chinese-occupied islands, which should raise the heat between the two countries and could create the conditions for a miscalculation, a mistake, or even an accident at sea that might lead to far worse.

In addition to its plans to heighten naval tensions in seas adjacent to China, the Pentagon has been laboring to strengthen its military ties with US-friendly states on China’s perimeter, all clearly part of a long-term drive to — in Cold War fashion — “contain” Chinese power in Asia.  On June 8th, for example, the DoDlaunchedMalabar 2018, a joint Pacific Ocean naval exercise involving forces from India, Japan, and the United States.  Incorporating once neutral India into America’s anti-Chinese “Pacific” alliance system in this and other ways has, in fact, become a major twenty-first-century goal of the Pentagon, posing a significant new threat to China.

For decades, the principal objective of US strategy in Asia had been to bolster key Pacific allies Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, while containing Chinese power in adjacent waters, including the East and South China Seas.  However, in recent times, China has sought to spread its influence into Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region, in part by extolling its staggeringly ambitious “One Belt, One Road” trade and infrastructure initiative for the Eurasian continent and Africa.  That vast project is clearly meant both as a unique vehicle for cooperation and a way to tie much of Eurasia into a future China-centered economic and energy system.  Threatened by visions of such a future, American strategists have moved ever more decisively to constrain Chinese outreach in those very areas.  That, then, is the context for the sudden concerted drive by US military strategists to link the Indian and Pacific Oceans and so encircle China with pro-American, anti-Chinese alliance systems. The name change on May 30th is a formal acknowledgement of an encirclement strategy that couldn’t, in the long run, be more dangerous.

Girding for War With China

To grasp the ramifications of such moves, some background on the former PACOM might be useful.  Originally known as the Far East Command, PACOM was established in 1947 and has been headquartered at US bases near Honolulu, Hawaii, ever since.  As now constituted, its “area of responsibility” encompasses a mind-boggling expanse: all of East, South, and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans — in other words, an area covering about 50% of the Earth’s surface and incorporating more than half of the global population.  Though the Pentagon divides the whole planet like a giant pie into a set of “unified commands,” none of them is larger than the newly expansive, newly named Indo-Pacific Command, with its375,000 military and civilian personnel.

Before the Indian Ocean was explicitly incorporated into its fold, PACOM mainly focused on maintaining control of the western Pacific, especially in waters around a number of friendly island and peninsula states like Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.  Its force structure has largely been composed of air and naval squadrons, along with a large Marine Corps presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa.  Its most powerful combat unit is the US Pacific Fleet— like the area it now covers, the largest in the world.  It’s made up of the 3rd and 7th Fleets, which together have approximately 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 sailors, pilots, Marines, and civilians.

On a day-to-day basis, until recently, the biggest worry confronting the command was the possibility of a conflict with nuclear-armed North Korea.  During the late fall of 2017 and the winter of 2018, PACOM engaged in a continuing series of exercises designed to test its forces’ ability to overcome North Korean defenses and destroy its major military assets, including nuclear and missile facilities. These were undoubtedly intended, above all, as a warning to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un about what he could expect if he continued down the path of endless provocative missile and nuclear tests.  It seems that, at least for the time being, President Trump has suspended such drills as a result of his summit meeting with Kim.   

North Korea aside, the principal preoccupation of PACOM commanders has long been the rising power of China and how to contain it.  This was evident at the May 30th ceremony in Hawaii at which Mattis announced that expansive name change and presided over a change-of-command ceremony, in which outgoing commander, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., was replaced by Admiral Phil Davidson.  (Given the naval-centric nature of its mission, the command is almost invariably headed by an admiral.) 

While avoiding any direct mention of China in his opening remarks, Mattis left not a smidgeon of uncertainty that the command’s new name was a challenge and a call for the future mobilization of regional opposition across a vast stretch of the planet to China’s dreams and desires.  Other nations welcome US support, heinsisted, as they prefer an environment of “free, fair, and reciprocal trade not bound by any nation’s predatory economics or threat of coercion, for the Indo-Pacific has many belts and many roads.”  No one could mistake the meaning of that.

Departing Admiral Harris was blunter still.  Although “North Korea remains our most immediate threat,” he declared, “China remains our biggest long-term challenge.”  He then offered a warning: without the stepped-up efforts of the US and its allies to constrain Beijing, “China will realize its dream of hegemony in Asia.”  Yes, he admitted, it was still possible to cooperate with the Chinese on limited issues, but we should “stand ready to confront them when we must.”  (On May 18th, Admiral Harris was nominated by President Trump as the future US ambassador to South Korea, which will place a former military man at the US Embassy in Seoul.)

Harris’s successor, Admiral Davidson, seems, if anything, even more determined to put confronting China atop the command’s agenda.  During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 17th, he repeatedly highlighted the threat posed by Chinese military activities in the South China Sea and promised to resist them vigorously. “Once [the South China Sea islands are] occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania,” hewarned.  “The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] will be able to use these bases to challenge US presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea claimants. In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

Is that, then, what Admiral Davidson sees in our future?  War with China in those waters?  His testimony made it crystal clear that his primary objective as head of the Indo-Pacific Command will be nothing less than training and equipping the forces under him for just such a future war, while enlisting the militaries of as many allies as possible in the Pentagon’s campaign to encircle that country.  “To prevent a situation where China is more likely to win a conflict,” he affirmed in his version of Pentagonese, “we must resource high-end capabilities in a timely fashion, preserve our network of allies and partners, and continue to recruit and train the best soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen in the world.”

Davidson’s first priority is to procure advanced weaponry and integrate it into the command’s force structure, ensuring that American combatants will always enjoy a technological advantage over their Chinese counterparts in any future confrontation.  Almost as important, he, like his predecessors, seeks to bolster America’s military ties with other members of the contain-China club.  This is where India comes in.  Like the United States, its leadership is deeply concerned with China’s expanding presence in the Indian Ocean region, including the opening of a future port/naval base in Gwadar, Pakistan, and another potential one on the island of Sri Lanka, both in the Indian Ocean.  Not surprisingly, given the periodic clashes between Chinese and Indian forces along their joint Himalayan borderlands and the permanent deployment of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has shown himself to be increasingly disposed to join Washington in military arrangements aimed at limiting China’s geopolitical reach.  “An enduring strategic partnership with India comports with US goals and objectives in the Indo-Pacific,” Admiral Davidson said in his recent congressional testimony.  Once installed as commander, he continued, “I will maintain the positive momentum and trajectory of our burgeoning strategic partnership.”  His particular goal: to “increase maritime security cooperation.”

And so we arrive at the Indo-Pacific Command and a future shadowed by the potential for great power war.

The View From Beijing

The way the name change at PACOM was covered in the US, you would think it reflected, at most, a benign wish for greater economic connections between the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, as well, perhaps, as a nod to America’s growing relationship with India.  Nowhere was there any hint that what might lie behind it was a hostile and potentially threatening new approach to China — or that it could conceivably be perceived that way in Beijing.  But there can be no doubt that the Chinese view such moves, including recent provocative naval operations in the disputed Paracel Islands of the South China Sea, as significant perils.

When, in late May, the Pentagon dispatched two warships — the USS Higgins, a destroyer, and the USSAntietam, a cruiser — into the waters near one of those newly fortified islands, the Chinese responded by sending in some of their own warships while issuing a statement condemning the provocative American naval patrols.  The US action, said a Chinese military spokesperson, “seriously violated China’s sovereignty [and] undermined strategic mutual trust.” Described by the Pentagon as “freedom of navigation operations” (FRONOPs), such patrols are set to be increased at the behest of Mattis.

Of course, the Chinese are hardly blameless in the escalating tensions in the region. They have continued to militarize South China Sea islands whose ownership is in dispute, despite a promise that Chinese President Xi Jinping made to President Obama in 2015 not to do so.  Some of those islands in the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, and other countries in the area and have been the subject of intensifying, often bitter disagreements among them about where rightful ownership really lies.  Beijing has simply claimed sovereignty over all of them and refuses to compromise on the issue.  By fortifying them — which American military commanders see as a latent military threat to US forces in the region — Beijing has provoked a particularly fierce US reaction, though these are obviously waters relatively close to China, but many thousands of miles from the continental United States.

From Beijing, the strategic outlook articulated by Secretary Mattis, as well as Admirals Harris and Davidson, is clearly viewed — and not without reason — as threatening and as evidence of Washington’s master plan to surround China, confine it, and prevent it from ever achieving the regional dominance its leadersbelieveis its due as the rising great power on the planet.  To the Chinese leadership, changing PACOM’s name to the Indo-Pacific Command will just be another signal of Washington’s determination to extend its unprecedented military presence westward from the Pacific around Southeast Asia into the Indian Ocean and so further restrain the attainment of what it sees as China’s legitimate destiny. 

However Chinese leaders end up responding to such strategic moves, one thing is certain: they will not view them with indifference.  On the contrary, as challenged great powers have always done, they will undoubtedly seek ways to counter America’s containment strategy by whatever means are at hand.  These may not initially be overtly military or even obvious, but in the long run they will certainly be vigorous and persistent.  They will include efforts to compete with Washington in pursuit of Asian allies — as seen in Beijing’s fervent courtship of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines — and to secure new basing arrangements abroad, possibly under the pretext, as in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, of establishing commercial shipping terminals.  All of this will only add new tensions to an already anxiety-inducing relationship with the United States.  As ever more warships from both countries patrol the region, the likelihood that accidents will occur, mistakes will be made, and future military clashes will result can only increase.

With the possibility of war with North Korea fading in the wake of the recent Singapore summit, one thing is guaranteed: the new US Indo-Pacific Command will only devote itself ever more fervently to what is already its one overriding priority: preparing for a conflict with China.  Its commanders insist that they do not seek such a war, and believe that their preparations — by demonstrating America’s strength and resolve — will deter the Chinese from ever challenging American supremacy.  That, however, is a fantasy.  In reality, a strategy that calls for a “steady drumbeat” of naval operations aimed at intimidating China in waters near that country will create ever more possibilities, however unintended, of sparking the very conflagration that it is, at least theoretically, designed to prevent.

Right now, a Sino-American war sounds like the plotline of some half-baked dystopian novel.  Unfortunately, given the direction in which both countries (and their militaries) are heading, it could, in the relatively near future, become a grim reality.     

The post Girding for Confrontation: The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

The War on Children Under Neoliberal Fascism

Truth Out - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 15:31

Separating children from their parents has a long and vile legacy in history among authoritarian regimes. Trump is mobilizing those fascist passions that inevitably lead to prisons, detention centers, and acts of domestic terrorism and state violence. Echoes of the Nazi camps, Japanese internment prisons, and the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people and the destruction of their families weigh on the Trump administration with a degree of shame and cruelty that marks the neoliberal fascism that now shapes American society.

Memories of the horrors of the past disappear under Trump only to return within a culture of cruelty and violence that is both revealing and ugly. What Trump is doing is a form of hostage-taking in which children become bargaining chips in his attempts to implement his racist policy of building a wall while demonstrating his politics of white supremacy to his core base. Children are now being used as part of an attempt to extort support for his racist politics from the Democratic Party.

In this interview with Mickey Huff from Project Censored, Henry Giroux explores the fascist ideology and policies that give rise to cruel practices, such as Trump separating children of undocumented immigrants from their parents and putting them in “cages,” makeshift detention centers and sometimes outdoor tents. While such practices have provoked a great deal of moral outrage across the ideological spectrum, the underlying logic of such practices has been largely ignored. Such practices run deep in the history of the United States and in recent years have been intensified with the collapse of the social contract, expanding inequality, and the increasing criminalization of immigrants, young people and other populations considered most vulnerable. In this interview, Giroux explores these mobilizing features of neoliberal fascism within a larger discourse of disposability and rule by white supremacists, religious fundamentalists and political extremists.

The post The War on Children Under Neoliberal Fascism appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Conservatives’ Anti-Immigration Fervor Is Political: They Think Keeping the US White Will Save Them

Truth Out - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 15:18

On Monday, in a courtroom in Wichita, a federal judge told Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that he had so blatantly violated federal discovery rules in a case he argued, defending a law requiring voters to prove their citizenship, that she ordered Kobach — a former Department of Justice official under George W. Bush — to take remedial legal courses. She also ruled against the law itself, saying there was no evidence it was necessary.

Kobach is best known for writing the “show me your papers” law in Arizona that was also struck down in federal court. He also headed up the ill-fated Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which was disbanded after many states balked at Kobach’s demand that they turn over their confidential voter rolls to the federal government. He had very big plans:

Kris Kobach should learn to use folders and cover sheets.

— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) November 21, 2016

Kobach is currently running for governor of Kansas, and the crusade to curtail immigration and voting rights will continue no matter how his checkered political career turns out. This is now a central organizing principle of the Republican party.

Donald Trump’s administration has the most extreme immigration policy in a century. Among his first acts as president was his theatrical Muslim ban. He’s beefed up the border patrol and ICE and told them all to “take off the gloves.” He put one of the most anti-immigration politicians in the country in charge of the Justice Department, and they are systematically deporting people, even those who have been here for 50 years. Trump backed out of a deal to legalize the DACA recipients at the last minute. Now they are separating children from their parents at the border and putting them into detention camps in order to “deter” Latino immigrants, even those who are seeking asylum from the rampant violence in their home countries.

It’s tempting to chalk all this up to simple Republican racism and nativism. That is certainly what fuels the emotion on this issue on the right. Conservative media pounds the message that “the illegals” are all on welfare (which isn’t true) and are ruining the culture with taco trucks on every corner. (If only.) But that isn’t the whole story.

Back in 2014, when the wave of unaccompanied minors from Central American came to the border, Laura Ingraham led the charge against those kids:

Oh no, you won’t. This is our country. . . . Our borders matter to us. Our way of life and our culture matter to us. Our jobs and our wages matter to us. No, you won’t.

She ranted day after day about these children, claiming that the government was “trafficking illegal immigrants from one part of the country to another part of the country to further erode American wages and further forward their goal of ultimate amnesty and changing the electoral and cultural landscape of the United States forever.”

Note that Ingraham said “electoral” landscape. We can see that Trump and his lieutenants see this latest border crisis as an opportunity to get their base fired up and get out to the polls in November. But movement conservatives have a long-term strategy in mind that goes way beyond the midterms and even Trump. That’s why cynical politicians and media stars have been pushing this issue so hard for the last few years.

They realized somewhere along the line that the fundamental xenophobia of the GOP base would make it very difficult to form any sort of governing majority that included Latinos, the fastest growing ethnic group in the country. So they decided their future prospects would be better served by suppressing the Latino vote with spurious accusations of voter fraud and demagoguery about foreigners more generally, in an effort to force the government to curb immigration overall. Anti-immigrant groups like VDARE have made the argument explicit, saying Democrats favor immigration because it will give them an electoral advantage.

Back in August of 2015, Rush Limbaugh endorsed Trump’s hardcore immigration position, saying that “everybody knows that [bipartisan immigration reform] is an immigration plan that is going to result in millions more registered Democrats.” He even got a shout-out from the big guy himself that same day:

Listening to @rushlimbaugh on way back to Jury Duty. Fantastic show, terrific guy!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2015

Limbaugh is a bit cagier these days, saying that he’d support DACA recipients getting a path to citizenship as long as they aren’t given the vote for 12 to 15 years.

Right-wing radio host Dennis Prager made a similar case this year in a piece laying out three reasons the left supports immigration. The first of these:

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, chain migration, sanctuary cities, and citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally will give the Left political power. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of Latin American immigrants will vote Democratic. So with enough new voters from Latin America alone, the Democrats would essentially be assured the presidency and Congress for decades.

(If you’re wondering: Reason two is because they are Marxists and reason three is that they want to feel good about themselves.)

The ruling right-wing diva of anti-immigrant fervor is of course Ann Coulter. She has been ranting even more than usual these days, telling Breitbart that nobody should believe the “actor children” at the border, citing some articles from 2011 about refugees embellishing their stories to get asylum. Coulter’s influence on the GOP on this issue can’t be overstated — her book Adios America was clearly a major influence on Trump’s agenda.

You may recall that Coulter called Trump’s most notorious immigration speech during the campaign “the greatest political document since the Magna Carta.” It was later revealed that she and Stephen Miller had written it. There are no limits to how low she will go in demeaning and degrading immigrants, but she too has stated clearly what the real issue is. At CPAC in 2014, she put it this way:

Amnesty goes through, and the Democrats have 30 million new voters. I just don’t think Republicans have an obligation to forgive law-breaking just because the Democrats need another 30 million voters.

The nativism we are seeing play out right now is cruel and inhumane. It’s born of an ugly strain of white nationalism that forms the core of the Republican Party under Trump. But the conservative movement is still working feverishly on their own projects, using Trump and his demagoguery to serve their long-term goals. They know that keeping Latinos from voting and shutting down immigration, both legal and illegal, is necessary to their political survival as a movement and a party.

This time they may have underestimated how the rest of America feels about seeing small children ripped away from their families for cheap political purposes. Let’s hope so, anyway.


The post Conservatives’ Anti-Immigration Fervor Is Political: They Think Keeping the US White Will Save Them appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Millions Lack Basic Necessities, but the Senate Just Passed a $716 Billion Bill for Endless War and Empire

Truth Out - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 15:17

In a vote that further “entrenches endless war and bloated Pentagon spending” and places greater nuclear capacity in the hands of President Donald Trump, 38 Democrats and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) joined nearly every Senate Republican on Monday to pass a $716 billion defense bill that boosts military spending by over $80 billion and authorizes another $21.6 billion for nuclear weapons programs.

Had the Pentagon’s budget simply remained the same as it was in 2017, Congress “could have funded public college for every student in the U.S. and had $12 billion left over,” noted media analyst Adam Johnson.

But Democrats and Republicans decided to join hands once more late Monday—in an overwhelming 85-10 vote—to affirm that militarism and massive handouts to defense contractors top education, healthcare, and anti-hunger programs on the list of congressional priorities.

Slamming the bipartisan vote to pass the military measure—officially titled the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515)—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote: “We cannot spend more on our military than the next 10 nations combined while millions of Americans do not have food and housing and healthcare…That is why I voted against spending $716 billion on the military today.”

not that anyone cares but the Senate just passed a $716B defense bill for 2019, a 13% increase over 2017, or roughly $82B. Had the DOD’s budget simply STAYED THE SAME we could have funded public college for every student in the US & had $12B left over.

— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) June 19, 2018

Joining Sanders in voting against the military spending bill on Monday were Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Meanwhile, these 38 Senate Democrats and King joined a nearly united GOP caucus in approving the measure:

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
Tom Carper (D-Del.)
Bob Casey (D-Penn.)
Chris Coons (D-Del.)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)
Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
Doug Jones (D-Ala.)
Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)
Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)
Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Tina Smith (D-Minn.)
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
Mark Warner (D-Va.)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

The post Millions Lack Basic Necessities, but the Senate Just Passed a $716 Billion Bill for Endless War and Empire appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Orkanen Spring 2018 Anarchist newspaper English edition

Anarchist News - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 14:51

via act for freedom now!

English edition – Spring 2018

Translations of a few texts from previous issues.

In this issue:

Down with the state, down with authorities
Space travel
Against the IT-giants and their world
The place for love in the rebellious life
The price for gratitude
Considerations in regards to the capricious nature of the state
Read on the screen: English edition – Spring 2018

Print: English edition – Spring 2018

Tags: denmarkCopenhagenanarchist newspapercategory: Projects
Categories: News

Mexico: Anarchist comrade Fernando Barcenas is out of prison!

Anarchist News - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 14:37

via act for freedom now!

Fernando was released from jail on June 11, 2018 around 9 pm, once outside he burned the beige uniform that he had had to wear for four and a half years.

Aviso CNA Mx (Cruz Negra Anarquista de Mexico)
CNA Mx Notice (Anarchist Black Cross of Mexico)

Proyecto Ambulante (photos) 

Traveling Project (photos)

Today, June 11, 2018, anarchist comrade Fernando Barcenas Castillo left prison.
Arrested on December 13, 2013, during the protests against the increase in the price of the metro tickets, Fer was accused of setting fire to the Coca-Cola company Christmas tree, and since then had been held in the northern prison known as the ReNo, in Mexico City.

In December 2014 he was sentenced to 5 years 9 months’ prison on charges of attacking the public peace and criminal association. Shortly after his detention Fernando began developing numerous projects: music, writing, broadcasting and information workshops such as fanzines and the independent anti-prison struggle newspaper: “El Canero”, which means “whoever is in jail”. This is produced by prisoners and prisoners, behind bars in several jails in the Mexican capital and elsewhere.

For Fernando “The Canero is a project that wants to explain the reality lived in the prisons and relate it to a wider social context, of which we are all prisoners at different levels. This paper helps to spread the anti-prison struggle by weaving a link of communication between prisoners and with the outside world “. For him it is “To demonstrate that the struggle is carried on regardless of where and with the means available, without waiting for all the conditions be there”.
Thus, the first Canero was released in June 2014, so far, five numbers have been written: over time, the content has evolved. This newspaper is the product of many prisoners’ meetings, exchanges and reflections, joint actions, hunger strikes … In his path, Canero sees the birth of informal organizations prisoners in resistance, coordinated actions, press releases denouncing the prison beast, authority and confinement inside and outside the walls.

From November 2017, Fernando has launched a new idea, set up an autonomous library managed by the prisoners themselves and after several months of work and construction, the library was inaugurated on April 28, 2018 with the name of Xosé Tarrío González *, the library continues to grow and to this day it counts many documents, between books, magazines and brochures … the library continues its course.

During all these years Fer also encouraged and launched the organization of prisoners-in-resistance, first of all it encouraged the formation of the C.C.P.R (Combative Co-ordination of Prisoners in Resistance) later he participated in the coordination of the hunger strikes with other anarchist prisoners from Mexico City. Then, Fer launched and encouraged the formation of the C.I.P.RE (Informal Coordination of Prisoners in Resistance) as a form and space of organization for all those who have been harmed and tortured by the prison machinery. CIPRE being an informal organizationit has dissolved and today is fading away, not without leaving a whole organizational experience behind it. Fer has launched a new proposal giving rise to the prisoners’ collective CIMARRON, which refers to the meaning of “escaping, fleeing” escaping from the property of a master.

A strong hug to Fer, an embrace compañero! In the street at last.
Until total freedom!
The three passersby


*NOTE : Xosé Tarrío González was born in 1968 in la Coruña. At eleven years oldis locked up in a boarding school, then in a house of recovery to to return to 17 years in prison where he contracts AIDS. In prison, he puts anarchism and rebellion, leading many attempts escapes, practicing real solidarity between the prisoners, fighting resolutely against prison and prison guards; all these attitudes entail humiliations, put in isolation and he is of many times tortured. In 2004, his health deteriorated again due to his illness and finally, on January 2, 2005 he dies victim of the prison institution and the society that supports it.
Xose was a prisoner of the special FIES regime (Internal File of Special Follow-up) and author of the book “Huye, hombre, huye”

The prisoners’ struggle against the FIES in Spain

[Mexico] Independent struggle journal : El Canero, number 5

[Click on the images for pdf of zines]

Translated by Act for freedom now!

source: liberonsles.

Tags: MexicoFernando Bárcenasgood newscategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

Is Elon Musk an Anarchist? More like a Libertarian Lenin

Anarchist News - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 14:29

by William Gillis, via C4SS

Elon Musk is trolling on twitter. A celebrity billionaire wasting his time making inane provocations would hardly be worthy of note but in the process Musk has declared that his politics are in line with Iain Banks’ anarcho-transhumanist utopia and that he aspires to see a world of direct democracy. There’s few spectacles like a billionaire in a labor dispute essentially fronting as a proponent of fully automated luxury communism. Yet when a number of his statements wander close to left wing market anarchist takes it may be worth responding.

In particular I want to focus on the line, “Socialism vs capitalism is not even the right question. What really matters is avoiding monopolies that restrict people’s freedom.”

There’s a lot to pick apart here, and it’s not remotely clear how much historical context Musk is aware of. Free market libertarians like Bastiat sat on the left of the French assembly and many advocates of free markets that modern Libertarians see as forefathers like Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker considered themselves and were seen as socialists. There is a long and storied history of those who would problematize the terms “socialist” or “libertarian” and “capitalism” or “markets”, putting forth myriad conflicting definitions and frameworks, each in hopes of illuminating something lost in partisan tribalism.

But Musk is a billionaire and in any coherent libertarian analysis a plutocrat whose success is in no small part dependent upon his collaboration with the state. Most self-identified socialists, not to mention the chattering classes of twitter, despise him.

There are basically three core claims widely made against Musk. 1) That he occupies a tyrannical position over his workers. 2) That the seed wealth that enabled him to become a billionaire in the first place was unjustly acquired. 3) That his act of holding onto his wealth in the face of far more beneficial investments is unethical.

It’s this latter charge that I want to explore, in part because the former are so clear cut. But let’s hit them briefly: Musk faces charges of unsafe conditions and terrible demands at his plants. And despite his attempts to sound open to unionization Tesla has harassed, intimidated, and fired workers for expressing pro union sentiments. He claims workers prefer to have no negotiating capacity, supposedly recognizing the benevolent benefits of his absolute dictatorship, and yet in the same breath Musk has threatened workers’ benefits should they unionize and recently initialized mass layoffs without warning. Musk has started to claim he built his fortune from pocket change, but it’s worth remembering that as a teenager, his white south african family was so rich Musk casually walked around with emeralds in his pocket. One is reminded of nothing so much as Trump’s claim that he built his fortune of a mere few million dollar loan from his dad (and countless risk assurances). I’ve known single mothers that worked longer hours and homeless heroin addicts that made smarter stock investments, but below a certain threshold of wealth the barriers are just too great. Musk has some talent and commitment, to be sure, but he has hardly made his fortune in fair competition with the billions without his privilege of birth.

But however you acquire wealth, once you have it there is a certain ethical obligation to wield it towards good ends.

Fans of Musk argue that he has done precisely this. The most common refrain is “look he may not be perfect, but he’s the only person with a shot at getting us to Mars.” There is, I will concede, a rather potent utilitarian argument that getting our species out into the stars is worth almost any price. This is an evaluation that weighs the potential lives of trillions of future people against the living today, that says we should do anything to ensure the survival and spread of the only known consciousness in the universe. But it is decidedly unclear that Elon Musk is truly our best shot at such. It is true that his wealth has enabled Space X to make serious strides, but it’s hardly like the the scientists, engineers, and general workers of Space X didn’t share such a vision before Musk. Rather, his wealth enabled them to get started. As a staunch proponent of our expansion to the stars I will happily concede that Space X is a more ethical investment than gold plated bath tubs. But these are hardly the only options.

Musk talks of supporting direct democracy, yet his projects are run tyrannically, hyper-centralized around him. One basic insight of free market economists is that there are limits to knowledge and calculation — in particular limits to what a single central planner is capable of. Musk may be talented, he may work 80 hour weeks, but he is limited, and a hierarchical centralized organizational structure is deeply inefficient, never mind the psychological damage it does. Indeed many of the early problems Tesla faced were reportedly a result of Musk suddenly showing up to make unilateral decisions while being stretched too thin to be constantly involved in every nook and cranny. In short his tyrannical position within the firm became an organizational bottleneck. They may have been insightful decisions, but Musk’s distance from the shop floor and the absoluteness of his power caused deep organizational problems. Even the most intelligent and committed Soviet planner, running himself ragged attempting to oversee everything, will cause deep inefficiencies. This is part of the reason why, when the playing field is fair, worker cooperatives do so damn well.

Musk talks of “decentralization” — of avoiding monopolies — and this is valorous, but anarchism extends deeper than the mere opposition to monopolies per se; anarchism opposes power, domination. Combating monopolies or oligopolies is necessary but not sufficient, because hugely abusive and scarring or enslaving power can exist in diffuse structures as well. Systemic racism for example, or normalized spousal abuse. But more to the point, an upstart firm may shatter an existing oligopolistic market, but itself reproduce the same structures it claims to oppose. Not just in terms of market position, but especially in terms of the firm’s internal structure — the hierarchical and abusive organizational norms that the existing oligopoly was able to establish and defend.

There is a widespread tendency in silicon valley to diagnose the problems of the world in terms of centralization alone, and thus to fall into a kind of naive support for any and all underdog competitors.

In its most pernicious variant this looks like the neoreactionary prescription to shatter existing polities down to smaller competitive governments. As if small town police can’t be more intimately oppressive and as though a single right of exit can supplant deeper issues with bargaining power or enable fluid responsiveness. Musk’s ostensible support for direct democracy is better — although anarchists still have a critique of democracy — but his comments focusing on monopoly are suggestive of a broader naivety or get-out-of-ethics card for himself, so long as he can cast himself as an underdog to a bigger monopoly.

The naive decentralist take uncritically defends any and all upstarts to the dominant powers. The taxi medallion system for instance was one of the most abusive and horrifically clear-cut instances of state created capitalism, an almost feudal order, maintained by the state to the benefit of a few capitalists. Socialist taxi organizers were clear that the root injustice was the state’s regulatory regime. Uber was able to leverage titanic investment wealth to fight and erode this unjust order, but it also utilized that capital to cement its position as a new monopoly, a rent-seeking middleman between drivers and riders. Consistent libertarians, anarchists, and socialists supported the overthrow of the medallion regime while also warning of the monopoly Uber was trying to establish. But throughout silicon valley culture Uber was presented as a noble upstart.

This story is replicated widely where new “disruptive” would be tyrants end up replacing those they set out to overthrow. What much of the self-congratulatory rhetoric in silicon valley amounts to in practice is a horde of Lenins out to overthrow Czars, but with barely concealed hunger to seize power for themselves.

Freedom, if it is to come, must come through their benevolence. Just don’t ask when.

Musk might claim that his ends are socialistic in some utopian sense, but it’s his means that give him the closest parallel to the tyrannies of “actually existing socialism.” And those libertarians that cheer him on are much like those socialists that cheer on the despotic regimes of Assad or Kim under the illusion that these geopolitical underdogs in competition with the US empire represent the only practical hope of resistance.

I want to be clear: I’m as sympathetic to Musk’s ostensible ends as you could ask for. We at the Center for a Stateless Society have studiously worked for over a decade to get past past the gridlock of socialist and libertarian rhetoric, to parse the value of markets and an egalitarian world of possibility where cancerous monopolies or oligopolies of capital don’t constrain our freedoms. We come from a long and rich history of left libertarian crossover, of left market anarchists.

But there are a world of means that do not replicate the structures we seek to replace.

I cannot know the level of sincerity to Musk’s comments, whether the obvious contradictions arise out of malicious opportunism or innocent ignorance. Yet if I had to the opportunity to turn his ear I would encourage him not just to fight monopolistic power within his own organizations by allowing and collaborating with unionization efforts, but to invest more of that wealth on projects that Iain Banks would actually recognize as anarchistic.

Hey Elon, why not donate a million dollars to something like the IWW, a scrappy, idealistic & anti-state union that organizes where no other union will go? It’s nothing to you and will affect the lives of thousands while enabling labor to help compete against giant corporate monopolies. It’ll rile the commies on twitter and maybe allow Grimes to show her face in public, but mostly it’ll help real existing people.

I ask sincerely.

If you need more examples we at C4SS have helped coordinate donations to a host of small highly efficient activist efforts before and we can point you towards myriad projects like community centers, mesh wifi projects, indigenous radio stations, etc. I’m not interested in showboating or tribal purity. I’d take a million dollars from the devil if I could redistribute it to the tens of thousands of activists working themselves to the bone around the world, using the smallest scraps of income to make a huge difference in combating power and expanding the freedom of everyday people. You want to talk about effective altruism? Small direct payments to activists across the global south who already work for free and stretch what funds they have to absurd lengths are by far the most efficient means of seeding liberty. No NGO bureaucratic oversight and a fierce anarchist resistance to corrupt state regimes that would try to steal those funds.

You want to talk about decentralizing infrastructure? Throw some of that money at the cypherpunks and hackers keeping cryptographic tools and free software afloat. I’m dead certain that your company depends upon cryptographic libraries that are maintained by on a shoestring budget by a small number of idealists. You want to talk about resisting monopolies? How about throwing money at open source hardware projects that face incredible barriers to entry in the market?

There are countless unsung heroes around the world working tirelessly to combat power, to erode the centralized systems that constrain freedom. And most of them do it without trying to accumulate yachts. What they understand is that heroism isn’t a zero sum game. We can each of us revolutionize the world, we can each find exploits to change everything. The anarchist insight is that the most potent and lasting change comes from the bottom up, rather than being imposed from the top down.

Figures like Lenin will never see this, so enraptured are they with their own status, their own profile, their own absolute rulership, their own brand-building. And so trapped are they in the same cycle of false opposition, the empty revolutions that are structured to merely replace one monopoly with another. Many of the radical science fiction authors Musk claims to love knew this, but it sadly seems to be a lesson he failed to grasp.

Tags: william gilliselon muskc4sscategory: Essays
Categories: News

A Critique of the Concept of "the System"

Anarchist News - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 14:17

Source: The Wild Will Project

Ted Kaczynski (TK) repeatedly writes that a revolutionary movement needs an enemy. Variously he names the enemy as “modern technology,” “the industrial system,” “the techno-industrial system,” just “the system,” and, in addition to one of the foregoing, “the technician class.” But these terms are vague or unintuitive, they confuse the enemy of a revolutionary movement with its target, and they fail to motivate.

The Enemy is Not Civilization

First, a clarification. Ted Kaczynski never actually names “civilization” as the enemy, but his involvement with the anarcho-primitivist movement in the 90s and early 2000s has confused some outside observers on this point.

In terms of critique, it is necessary to point out that civilization as a whole is of questionable benefit, and that nearly all of the major problems of our modern world originate in the problem of civilization (see “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” by Jared Diamond). This, however, only makes us philosophical anti-civilizationists, not political anti-civilizationists. Kaczynski repeatedly states that while he believes civilization is a problem, he only sees a practical course of action against “the industrial system.” For more on this distinction, see “Some Comments In Response to GA,” the letters between David Skrbina and TK, “A Critique of the NHG Ideal,” etc.

What Is “The System”?

In footnote 3 of “The System’s Neatest Trick,” Kaczynski writes:

In this section I’ve said something about what the System is not, but I haven’t said what the System is. A friend of mine has pointed out that this may leave the reader nonplussed, so I’d better explain that for the purposes of this article it isn’t necessary to have a precise definition of what the System is. I couldn’t think of any way of defining the System in a single, well-rounded sentence and I didn’t want to break the continuity of the article with a long, awkward, and unnecessary digression addressing the question of what the System is, so I left that question unanswered.

Unfortunately, in neither his public writings nor his private correspondences has Kaczynski gone on to sufficiently explain what the system is, beyond general indications. Here is what I understand him to mean.

Kaczynski uses a materialist framework for analyzing the origins, development, and collapse of societies. In one version of this framework (see Cultural Materialism by Marvin Harris), societies are seen as consisting of three “levels”:

  1. The infrastructure is the material basis of society, and the primary determinant of the shape that society will take. It includes geography, demography, technology, and some aspects of economy. These are such strong factors in determining the shape of a society because no matter what, at base people are going to preserve their means of getting food and producing children.
  2. The structure is the organizational level of society, such as how resources are distributed, the means of dividing labor, institutions like banks, governments, and the church, etc. These exist to organize people in a way that is compatible with their means of subsistence and reproduction.
  3. The superstructure is the ideological level of society, such as its national, religious, and scientific myths. These exist to inspire people’s loyalty to society and its institutions.

For example, in the feudal phase of Western civilization, the infrastructure of society consisted of an agricultural mode of subsistence, which was organized by the structural layer of church and and the feudal system, and which was legitimated by the superstructural layer of Christian ideology. In many primitive societies, the infrastructure of society consisted of a hunting-and-gathering mode of production, was organized by various gendered divisions of labor and a small degree of specialization among warriors and leaders, and was legitimated by various religious mythologies.

Although this framework is generally deterministic, feedback between the various levels of society are taken into account. For example, sometimes the structure of society does not respond properly to a change in infrastructure, which results in social tumult. One historical instance includes the delayed reaction of U.S. social progressive programs to reorganize the structural layers of society after a shift to the Industrial Revolution. Due to the new industrial society’s inability to account for people’s health and wellbeing in structural factors like housing, economics, and waste disposal, there was widespread disatisfaction that largely drove anarchist and communist movements of the time.

“Industrial society” would include all three levels of a society based around an industrial mode of production, that is to say, based on an infrastructure that is technologically dependent on the steam engine and the production of electricity. It is harder to tell what Kaczynski means by “the industrial system,” but, taking into account his numerous rejoinders to attack “the material basis of society,” we can assume that “the system” includes mostly infrastructural and perhaps some structural factors that prop a society up.

“Techno-industrial society” is a term only used losely before Kaczynski and his associates developed it more fully, at which point it took on a more specific theoretical meaning. Último Reducto explained to me in one of our exchanges that “techno-industrial” refers to a generally more advanced form of society, based around computing technologies. This would make it largely compatible with terms popular in academia, like “late industry,” “late capitalism,” “information society,” “postmodern society,” etc. The same distinction that applies to industrial society and the industrial system applies to techno-industrial society and the techno-industrial system.

The Enemy Versus the Target

In terms of facts, I am in accordance with everything outlined above: the materialist method of analyzing society, the distinction between industrial and techno-industrial, and the emphasis on targeting the material basis of society. However, it is important to draw a distinction between a revolutionary enemy and a revolutionary target.

The communists, who had a similar materialist framework, also advocating targeting the material basis of society for their revolution (although their intention was to sieze power over it rather than destroy it). But their enemy was capitalist society. Similarly, one might make the distinction between the enemy of techno-industrial society, but the target of “the techno-industrial system.”

Still, there are obvious problems with our terminology, particularly its clarity. “System” is a vague word, and is attempting to cover concepts that our materialist framework already more accurately describes: infrastructure and structure, “the material basis of society,” or “the technological and economic basis of society.” All these terms and phrases are not only more exact, but also more intuitive.

“Techno-industrial” is also unintuitive. I agree that the technological turn around WWII to computing technologies, data, and other such things mark a major change in the infrastructural layer of society (see The Control Revolution by James Beniger; The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham). For this, perhaps “techno-industrial mode of production” is a useful concept. But in terms of naming our enemy, it is not very strong.

A stronger enemy is “world society.” This is clearly the logical consequence of a techno-industrial mode of production. Various historical trends support this contention, such as the formation of the UN and the European Union, the converging ways of life in nations that have been industrialized, the increasing connection between urban centers through transportation and communications technologies, a world identity being cemented by the existence of the internet… The terminology is also more intuitive and inspires greater motivation than a vague “system” identified only by an idiosyncratic theoretical term, “techno-industrial.”

There is already widespread opposition to world society. Observe the overwhelming numbers in support of the anti-globalization movement, the various regional conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa that explicitly oppose a global order, and the right-wing’s recent use of the concept of “globalism.” This is a much stronger motivator than an enemy of “modern technology.” For years I have attempted to frame technology itself as the enemy in people’s minds, and it simply does not work. People can agree that technology is the source of problems. But in terms of an enemy, they need something more tangible, more personal, and more involved in their day-to-day concerns. “World society” provides all of this.

Naming world society as the enemy also streamlines different elements of our analysis. If world society is the enemy, then we can demonstrate with our materialist mode of analysis why the technological and economic basis of world society is the target, and we can explain why typical targets of “globalism,” like politicians, are much less important than those belonging to the technician class, like the scientists, engineers, and businessmen who contribute significantly to technological progress. It also makes clearer the importance of the dominant ideology of the technician class, humanism (but see the final section in “A Critique of the Concept of ‘Leftism.'”)

Finally, naming world society as the enemy prevents us from giving undue focus to single issues, like biotechnology. In his essay to the anti-globalization movement, “Hit Where It Hurts,” Ted Kaczynski writes that radicals should focus on an issue that “the system” can’t afford to relax its position on. He suggests as an example the issue of biotechnology, which he argues (correctly, I believe) will be necessary to sustain order in the coming century. This is because biotechnology will be necessary to eradicate and control disease, to intensify agricultural production, to respond to ecological impacts of climate change, and perhaps even to manipulate human behavior.

However, biotechnology is not a good enemy because of what I have already stated above: people need something a little more personal, concrete, and “political.” Furthermore, a focus on biotechnology is much too narrow, limiting our ability to instigate tension in other areas that “the system” is disrupting.

Focusing on the project of world society does not have any of these problems, and is just as much an area “the system” can’t afford to compromise on. Almost every great analyst of the problems of technological society has suggested, as a solution, greater unification and cooperation between nations, more connectedness between world people, etc. Bertrand Russell, in The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, and Robert Wright in A Short History of Progress explicitly advocate a world government. So do some environmentalists who point out ecological problems with industrial technological production, such as Club of Rome in Limits to Growth, writing:

In Nature organic growth proceeds according to a Master Plan, a Blueprint. Such a ‘master plan’ is missing from the process of growth and development of the world system. Now is the time to draw up a master plan for sustainable growth and world development based on our global allocation of all resources and a new global economic system.

Various technicians, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, also advance a globalizing project. These technicians, wholly dependent on continued technological progress, cannot afford to renege on this project. Thus, a movement against world society would be able to constantly instigate tension with the technicians who openly advocate the mission of world society, without the threat of them changing their minds for political expediency.

Finally, a focus on world society allows us to form political alliances with a huge swath of actors who, although not necessarily anti-civilization in orientation, are certainly against the world globalizing project. These include movements that have been active for decades, like fights for ethnic and national autonomy, and which are much too entrenched in the social groups of their respective political constituents to ever be annihilated completely.

The Target is Still Technology

Again, although the enemy is world society and its technician class, the target remains the technological and economic basis of that society. There is no reason to think that a focus on world society would significantly divert radicals from this focus, especially given how effectively the communist forces convinced its members that the means of overthrowing capitalist society could only ever be achieved by siezing the mode of production.

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