Trump says anyone trading with Iran will not trade with US as sanctions come into force | 08 Aug 2018 | US President Donald Trump has warned that any country trading with Iran will "not be doing business with the United States." The threat comes as sanctions against the country came into effect at midnight. The announcement came via Twitter, where Trump announced that the sanctions taking hold were "the most biting ever imposed." Trump also promised that Washington will "ratchet up" the economic pressure on the Islamic Republic in November, and said that other nations found to be trading with Iran would not find a trading partner in the United States. "I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!," the US president concluded.
Decision to bring White Helmets to Canada dangerous and criminal | 10 Aug 2018 | Did Canadians get to vote on whether or not to bring potential terrorists or supporters of terrorists to Canada? No. Will Canadians get a say in where these potentially dangerous men will be settled? Highly unlikely. Ninety-eight members of the White Helmets, and a few hundred of their families, were evacuated by Israel and allies to Jordan late in evening of July 21. They will seemingly be shipped off to a few Western nations for resettlement: Canada, the UK, and Germany. So far, Canada has pledged to take 50 White Helmets and around 200 family members. Wrongly dubbed the "Syrian Civil Defense" (the actual Syrian Civil Defense has existed since 1953), the White Helmets narrative is flawed in every conceivable manner. [The White Helmets] are in reality a massively Western-funded organization with salaried volunteers...They contain numerous members who have participated in or supported criminal acts in Syria, including torture, assassinations, beheading, and kidnapping of civilians, as well as inciting Western military intervention in Syria.
Homebase to review sale of Monsanto weedkiller after US cancer verdict --Roundup was ruled by a Californian jury to have caused Dewayne Johnson's lymphoma | 11 Aug 2018 | One of the UK's largest DIY retailers is reviewing the sale of Roundup weedkiller products amid mounting concerns about their use, after a US jury found that the herbicide had caused a terminally ill man's cancer. The manufacturer of the weedkiller, Monsanto, has insisted that British consumers are safe to continue using Roundup products, which are widely sold at DIY stores and used by British farmers. But a spokesperson for Homebase said it would be reviewing its product range after the ruling in California.
Monsanto ordered to pay $289m to terminally ill groundsman who used Roundup weedkiller | 11 Aug 2018 | A jury has ordered the chemical giant [terrorist group] Monsanto to pay a terminally ill school groundskeeper $289 million (£226 million) in damages in the first trial over claims that its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. Lee Johnson, whose doctors didn't think he'd live long enough to learn the verdict, prevailed Friday in San Francisco state court after jurors deliberated for three days. The trial was an important test of the evidence against Monsanto and will serve as a template for litigating thousands of other claims over the herbicide.
Police block public from entering Metro station where Unite the Right attendees are gathering | 12 Aug 2018 | The D.C. Metro system has closed at least one entrance at a Virginia station to the public, allowing in only attendees of the "Unite the Right" rally. Video posted to Twitter by WUSA reporter Mike Valerio showed about a dozen police officers in riot gear entering the north entrance of the Vienna metro station. "We're being told by police that ONLY #UniteTheRight2 protesters will be allowed in this entrance - NOT the general public," Valerio tweeted.
Spicer: Omarosa taping chief of staff John Kelly is 'a massive violation of every security protocol'
Spicer: Omarosa taping chief of staff John Kelly is 'a massive violation of every security protocol' | 12 Aug 2018 | Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Sunday called ex-White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman's taping of White House chief of staff John Kelly "a massive violation of every security protocol." "She taped the chief of staff for the White House in the situation room, clearly a violation of every security protocol that she signed when she applied for a security clearance," Spicer said on "Fox News Sunday." A number of lawyers in the national security community and journalists were quick to point out that the recording should not have happened, given electronics are not allowed to enter the situation room.
Boston Globe calls on US newspapers to target Trump in coordinated attack | 11 Aug 2018 | The Boston Globe is calling on newspapers across the country to publish editorials taking a stand against President Trump's repeated attacks on the media. The Associated Press reported Friday that the Globe is calling for the editorial boards of other newspapers to publish editorials on Aug. 16 denouncing the Trump administration's "dirty war against the free [sic - Deep State-owned] press." Marjorie Pritchard, the deputy managing editor of the Globe who oversees the paper’s editorial page, told the AP that dozens of newspapers have already signed on to join the coordinated effort, including larger metropolitan daily newspapers and smaller publications.
Jury orders Monsanto to pay $289 million in California Roundup cancer trial | 11 Aug 2018 | A jury's $289 million award to a former school groundskeeper who said Monsanto's Roundup left him dying of cancer will bolster thousands of pending cases and open the door for countless people who blame their suffering on the weedkiller, the man's lawyers said. Johnson, 46, alleges that heavy contact with the herbicide caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The state Superior Court jury agreed that Roundup contributed to Johnson's cancer and Monsanto should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard.
Julian Assange 'seriously considering' request to meet US Senate committee --Lawyers say WikiLeaks founder may agree to speak to inquiry into Russia's [alleged] role in US election | 09 Aug 2018 | Lawyers for Julian Assange say they are "seriously considering" a request from a US Senate committee to interview the WikiLeaks founder as part of its investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election. The Senate select committee on intelligence has written to Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been living for more than six years. Assange fears that he will be extradited to the US for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he leaves the embassy building.
Welcome to the Anews podcast. This is episode 76 for August 10, 2018. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.
Editorial: Topicality, by Smile
TOTW: The Medium and the Message
This podcast is the effort of many people. This episode was
* sound edited by Dim
* “What’s New” was written by jackie, read by chisel and dim
* Thanks to Aragorn! and a friend for topic of the week discussion
* audio clips from Be a Clown by Circus Clown Calliope; Hero by Enrique Iglesias
* Contact us at email@example.com
To learn morepodcastarieldimtopicalitymessagingsmilecategory: Projects
From ZabalazaAn African anarchist-communist approach
Racism has been a curse in South Africa, and remains embedded in the society. But how scientific are racist ideas? Where do they come from? And how can we fight racism and create a truly equal and fair society? What do we as revolutionary anarchists think?
Racial conflict, inequality, and hatred are not natural, but fed and reared by capitalism and the state. To really change the system, we need a massive programme of upgrading education, health, housing and services; an end to the racist heap labour system; a challenge to the ideological control that splits the working class; and a radical redistribution of wealth and power to the working class and poor –which in South Africa, means primarily the black working class and poor –as part of a social revolution.Tearing racism up from its capitalist roots: An African anarchist-communist approach
by Bongani Maponyane (ZACF)
Racism has been a curse in South Africa, and remains embedded in the society. But how scientific are racist ideas? Where do they come from? And how can we fight racism and create a truly equal and fair society? What do we as revolutionary anarchists think?
The heart of the idea of “race” is that there are different basic types of people, with different appearances — and different, built-in abilities, cultures and behaviours. This then gets tied to the ideas like: races have unequal abilities, every member of race acts in one way all the time, races cannot co-exist peacefully with special rules, and some races are born to rule, others born as “hewers of wood and drawers of water.”
Even if these ideas are not openly said so much these days (leaving aside people like Penny Sparrow), they still exist, in common ideas like: some races are better at sports, some races are crueller, some are greedier, or that “races” are always conflict, or that you can’t trust people in different “races,” or that inventions are made by different “races.”
But these ideas are false. It is true people look different. The fact is there is only one humankind. All humans have a common descent from Africa. Nature doesn’t strike twice, it never creates the same thing twice. Different races were not born in different areas. Evolutionary evidence shows common ancestry (a “monogenesis”). That means humans are one species, with one common origin and one set of common abilities and one common human nature.
As people migrated around the world and around Africa, there was some variation in appearance and body. Nobody survive in that hot sub-equatorial regions without dark skin pigmentation: where temperature is extremely hot, at 35 degrees Celsius and up, very dark skin with a lot of melanin is a people had to be more light-skinned in colder and less sunny climates. People become whiter in such climates. Limited transportation created more isolation between areas, so there was sharper variation in some cases.
Science and society
So there is really one specific species that moved out of Africa to Europe, Asia and the Americas, but this did not lead to new species. Instead we can think of a common family of African descent, with many children, but a lot of mixing due to migration, wars and trade.
Science shows clearly that all races have the same abilities. Evolutionary and biological evidence shows no variation between what people think of as races, in terms of the brain or other abilities, but it shows lots of variation inside “races.”
So even to talk about “races” is actually a problem. What is the meaning of the word? In fact people don’t even agree on what defines a “race.” For example, some people considered white in South Africa, like Jews, were not considered to be “real” Europeans in a large parts of Europe. Adolf Hitler’s racism saw Eastern European whites (Slavs) as sub-human people. People with any black African ancestry are today defined as “black” or “African” in the USA, but those exact same people would be defined as “Coloured” but not black African in South Africa. The race category “Caucasian” includes white Europeans, but also Arabs, Berbers, Lebanese, Turks and Indians, but in apartheid South Africa, Christian or Jewish Arabs and Lebanese were defined as white, but Muslim Arabs and Turks as Coloureds, and all Indians (no matter the religion) were defined as a specific Indian group.
The racial inequalities we see in many countries – with black African people often victims of extreme racism – does not come from nature. It comes from how society is set up. I will show below how racism is built by capitalism, colonialism and states.
Sadly, racist ideas have abused the theory of evolution. This theory explained why people are all basically the same, and also why some groups look a bit different to other groups. People today are all part of one species: homo-sapiens or modern humans. This is very different from earlier types like homo-erectus. It is completely wrong to think that some people are somehow less evolved than others, or closer to apes.
This horrible abuse of evolution by racists has led some people to reject the idea of evolution, thinking it claims means blacks are less than whites. In fact the theory shows people are the same! Charles Darwin, who pioneered the theory, insisted all humans had common African descent and were one group.
This evolution is a very powerful challenge to racist ideas. The theory of evolution proves that we as humankind come from one source, and are all basically equal in all spheres of ability.
It is nonsense to say one “race” invented something, or to try claim credit for an invention in the past, just because you look similar to an inventor. Inventions are made by individuals, existing in a specifics society, and are made possible by certain types of social structure, and always draw on earlier ideas and innovations – including from different societies. All the achievements of people in the past are a common human heritage, not owned by any group.
When we see racism in modern day society, we need to understand it does not exist because what we call “races” are unequal in the flesh or mind, but because we live in a society based on domination, exploitation, hierarchies and oppression.
In South Africa we can clearly see how modern-day racism emerged from how society developed. During the apartheid period, black (meaning black African, Coloured and Indian) people suffered systematic racism, affected wage levels, services, neighbourhoods, racism, and rights. The white population (around 15% of the population) earned 65% of the total income, while black Africans, at 75% of the population, got 28%. Poverty was linked closely to race and persisted over time: for example, while 8 out of 10 white children completed high school, around 2 out of 10 black Africans reached and passed matric.
Racist labour system
This was because capitalism in South Africa developed in the context of European colonial context and dispossession, and a system of white supremacy. The loss of land and a battery of repressive racist laws and practices enabled an economy based on cheap black labour. Black African peasants who succeeded in farming for markets were pushed out of business and into wage labour.
The British Empire was central to many of these processes, and foreign investors, mainly British, were for decades central to the creation of a massive commercial mining industry from the 1870s, based on cheap and unfree black labour. Commercial farms emerged around the mines, and also rested on cheap black labour. Massive exploitation, in a racist system, was the bedrock of South African capitalism, and helped fund the state through taxation and through state enterprises. The state built railways, roads and big industries, all of which increased state and capitalist power.
As manufacturing developed on a massive scale from the 1920s, the racist cheap labour system continued. The state enforced racist measures – low wages, rights abuses, hostels and migrant labour, the township system – which generated the cheap black labour capitalism devoured. Racial and ethnic division between blacks, and between blacks and whites, helped fracture the working class. Unions usually followed racial lines, and black Africans were not given full union rights until 1995.
The legacy of this system is everywhere in South Africa. The racist crimes of capitalism and the state were not erased in 1994, Racism was institutionalised, and today the township system, the migrant labour system and the cheap black labour system continue, and shape the class system. Poverty, unemployment, low wages and poor conditions are still linked closely to race. Today, the old white capitalist sector works with the new black state elite to oppress the largely black working class. Continuing inequality perpetuates racial conflicts, and also generates new forms of racism, such as the massive xenophobia that exists in South Africa since 1994.
In closing, racial conflict, inequality, and hatred are not natural. All people are equal, and racial conflict is not caused by people by people looking different. Racism, over the last few hundred years, was fed and reared by capitalism and the state. To really change the system, we need a massive programme of upgrading education, health, housing and services; an end to the cheap labour system; a challenge to the ideological control that splits the working class; and a radical redistribution of wealth and power to the working class and poor –which in South Africa, means primarily the black working class and poor –as part of a social revolution.Tags: south africazabalazaracecategory: Essays
From Open Democracy
Since October 2017, the FSB have been running a terrorism investigation into Russian anarchists and anti-fascists. But as Alexey Poltavets' experience shows, this case has a violent backstory.
Investigative prison, Penza. Source: OVD-Info. Since October 2017, nine people have arrested as part of “The Network” case, which has seen Russian anti-fascists and anarchists in St Petersburg and Penza detained on terrorism charges. According to Federal Security Service (FSB) investigators, all the arrested men were members of an organisation that planned to provoke the “popular masses for further destabilisation of the political climate in the country” during the Russian presidential elections and FIFA World Cup. Cells of the organisation were allegedly operating in Moscow, St Petersburg, Penza and Belarus.
But as has become clear, this case has a history that goes back to spring 2017. Sofiko Aridzhanova, a Moscow-based journalist and anarchist, recently revealed that FSB officers informally interrogated her in February last year. And on 23 May 2018, Viktoria Frolova, a friend of the suspects in Penza, was detained at the Russian-Ukrainian border. Frolova was forced to give a testimony against her acquaintances from Penza. Prior to that, Frolova’s boyfriend Alexey Poltavets told OVD-Info how he was arrested, beaten up and tortured by FSB officers in Penza. According to Poltavets, he is referred to as “Boris” in the FSB’s case files for the “Network” case.
Here, he tells how he was detained and tortured in March 2017.About me
My name is Alexey Poltavets, I was born in Omsk. In terms of my beliefs, I am an anarchist, anti-fascist and vegetarian; I am against the current government of the Russian Federation.
In Omsk, I took part in animal rights events — film screenings and rallies. In 2014, I was an active supporter of the Maidan protesters in Kyiv, I was speaking out against the annexation of Crimea and the incursions of the Russian army into Ukrainian territory. I attended rallies organised by the local authorities to “celebrate the return of Crimea” with a Ukrainian flag and yellow and blue balloons. This is how I tried to troll the participants of these events. As a result, I was threatened and on time policemen, including agents from Centre “E” [Centre for Countering Extremism], tried to detain me, but I managed to escape.
In 2016, after another quarrel with my parents caused by our political differences, I decided to leave and move to St Petersburg, to join my friend Viktor Filinkov. I met Filinkov through my brother (they were course mates at university) in Omsk in 2014. We became friends because of our shared beliefs. Together with Viktor, we attended many opposition events, including against the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine, as well as animal rights events. In 2016, Filinkov left for St Petersburg and got a job there, but we stayed in touch.How it all began
On my way from Omsk to St Petersburg, I decided to stay with some friends in Penza — Filinkov had some temporary troubles with money and accommodation. I arrived in Penza in December 2016. I was 16 years old then. My friends helped me to find a job and a place to live. I was hanging out with local political activists, anti-fascists and anarchists. I knew Egor Zorin, Dmitry Pchelintsev [suspects in the “Network” case], Maxim Ivankin, Mikhail Kulkov and other local activists. We were playing Airsoft together and walking in the forest — collecting rubbish, sitting around the fire.
Around the end of February or the beginning of March 2017, Zorin was detained. An acquaintance invited him over, and then during that meeting he, according to Zorin, constantly left to make some calls. After one of the calls, a group of men stormed into the flat, they introduced themselves as FSB agents, a typical “maski-show” [a raid by masked security agents] followed. They found some weed in the flat and started putting pressure on Zorin, claiming that the drugs belonged to him. They told him that his acquaintances who were in the flat had already started giving evidence against him. Then they offered him a “solution”: to cooperate with the FSB and follow their orders, collect information for them and pass it on to them in a timely fashion. The agents were asking about Islamic terrorists, and were saying that there were recruiters at the university [Penza State University], where Zorin was studying. They explained that if he agreed to cooperate, they would close down their investigation into drugs in the flat, but if he refused — they would lock him up on a maximum sentence. Zorin agreed, signed necessary documents and then was released.
Next day, he met his friends and told them what happened. It was obvious from how he looked that he was scared and didn’t know what to do. A week later Zorin said that the FSB agents had another conversation with him: they met him next to his apartment block and put him in a car. An agent was asking questions about left-wing activism and also asked whether Zorin knew any activists. Three weeks later I was arrested.Arrest
At 10pm, 30 March 2017, I and two of my acquaintances — Mikhail Kulkov and Maxim Ivankin — were walking to my place after a gathering at Kulkov’s place. My comrades decided to walk me home, I’m from another city.
A grey VAZ-2115 police car approached us, five men jumped out of it — some in plain clothes, some in uniforms. I didn’t even have time to ask why I was being detained before my hands were behind my back in handcuffs. The men in police uniform were shouting “Give me your fucking hands, give me your hands, bitch” while a man in plain clothes was overseeing the whole process. The men in uniform put me facing the car and shouted “Give us your fucking full name, quickly”. Then one of them hit me on the head and I hit my face against the car. I gave them my name, patronymic and surname. One of the men in uniform started searching me, took my money and passport and put them on the top of the car. When he didn’t find anything else, he put the things back into my pocket. After that, the same man pressed my head against the car and didn’t allow me to turn it. Another man in uniform (a FSB agent named Ilya, as I learned later) was searching Kulkov’s and Ivankin’s backpacks just where we weren’t allowed to look. Whenever I tried to turn my head to see what the men in plain clothes were doing or asked “Why am I being detained”, I was hit with a fist in the kidneys area. A few minutes later Ilya (the FSB agent) shouted: “There are drugs here!”
The FSB agent Ilya figured out what was in the bag without opening it, and said: “That’s it, guys, you’re done.”
At that point, a white Ford minibus with blue plates arrived, four men got out of it, they were dressed in tactical clothes, they were wearing caps and masks, and there was one more agent in plain clothes. The agent who was holding me turned me to face Ilya. The latter was sitting next to a pile of stuff he’d taken out of the backpacks, he was holding a transparent bag with some sort of roll of stuff inside it. The FSB agent Ilya figured out what was in the bag without opening it and said: “That’s it, guys, you’re done.” We instantly replied that the bag had been planted. In response, they started hitting us.
We were taken to the minibus, one of the agents set down next to me. He took me by my neck and pressed my head against the seat in front of us, and then hit me several times on the back of my head. I asked: “What did I do? Why have I been detained?”. But in response I only received more punches on my head and my face, after which the agent said: “I’m the one who asks questions here, do you understand?” Then he hit me on the face with his palm once again. I replied: “Understood.”Torture
We drove to a police or FSB station. I didn’t have time to read what was written on the plaque at the entrance. While they were bringing us there, the agents threatened that we would now be beaten up, and we would say whatever they tell us to say.
I was brought into an office that had a door that led to another office. They put me into the “one and a half” position next to this door. This is when you have to stand with your legs half-bent, as if one is sitting but without a chair. It is very difficult to stand in this position for a long time. Apart from me, there were two agents in plain clothes in the room. They made sure that I could not stand in a normal position. This was around midnight. An agent called Mikhail entered the room. He approached me and, while turning me around, said “Well, hello!” and then punched me in the upper part of the stomach. I bent down, and was trying to restore my breathing, while he said: “Take it easy, I’m just warming up.”
Mikhail took me into the office behind the door. Ilya was already there. Mikhail took the passport and money from my pocket (later they returned my passport, but kept the money). Then he took off my handcuffs and told me to strip naked and do 20 squats. While I was doing the exercises, Mikhail checked my clothes. After that, I put my clothes back on and they again locked the handcuffs tightly behind my back. Agent Ilya said: “So, you do understand why you were arrested, don’t you?” I replied: “No.” The agents started laughing. And Ilya told me: “It is really funny how you always pretend that you have no fucking idea, but after we beat the shit out of you, you immediately begin to understand.” Mikhail punched me a few more times in the stomach and, holding me by the hair, said:
“You understand that it is not by accident that we found drugs on you. Now you sign a testimony against your anarchist mates, then repeat it to an investigator, and we let you go, you will be a witness. If you don’t, you will get a maximum sentence, and I will make sure you have a good time in the detention centre, they love young boys like you there.”
I replied that I was not going to sign anything.
Mikhail was still holding me by the hair. Ilya stood up, approached me and punched me several times in the upper stomach. Mikhail let my hair go and pushed me, I felt on the ground. Ilya said: “Wrong answer, we are asking you nicely. Your friends are going to prison no matter what you say, the only question is whether you are going to join them.” I coughed and tried to stand up, the same agent put a chair next to me and said: “Sit down.” I sat down and replied: “I have already told you that I am not going to sign anything.” Mikhail kicked me in the chest with his leg (the kick was more like a push than a kick) and I fell backwards together with the chair. He said: “Ok, this means you will get a full term together with them, right now your friends are ratting you out next door, while you’re protecting them here. If you don’t want to lose your health in this room — you will have to answer our questions.” Then the agent picked up the chair and I sat down again.
They threatened and pressured me a lot, they threatened to rape me with a broom. This went on the whole night
Next, they threatened and pressured me a lot, they threatened to rape me with a broom. This went on the whole night. Sometimes an agent named Nikolay entered and also humiliated me. Nikolay would wring my arms behind my back, which was extremely painful, and it seemed as if he was going to break my arms, he was also pulling my hair, screwing my ear up in a ball. Whenever I fell and was lying on my back, he put his foot on my genitals and was pressing stronger and stronger. I felt unbearable pain, which lasted for a long time afterwards. Nikolay threatened to hang me up and to send me in to people who would rape me.
After threatening me, the agents began to ask when I came to Penza, why, what I was doing, how I met others who were arrested, and other things that concerned me. I replied to those questions. Sometimes the agents took breaks and ate and drank — during those intervals I was put back to the wall in the “one and a half” position. When I could not stand like that anymore and tried to stand normally, an agent would come and hit me with his palm in the stomach, and was threatening to hang me up. After that, I stood back in the “one and a half” position.
I held this position until evening. Then they brought me to the office and sat me down on a chair. There were three agents in the room: Mikhail, Ilya and Nikolay. They asked me: “So, have you changed your mind?” I replied: “No.” Ilya sat down in front of me and said: “Your friends have already testified against you. What happened to you earlier was the best thing that could have happened. I have broken many people like you with these very hands.” It was clear that he was proud of himself. Nikolay stood behind me, he placed the backrest of the chair between my back and my hands, so I couldn’t get up or move. Nikolay took an old thick plastic bag out of the cabinet, the sides of it were rolled down, he rolled them once more and placed it on my head, without tying it. They repeated all questions again, I didn’t answer.
At that point, I got really scared, I feared for my life and was afraid that I wouldn’t leave that room alive if I didn’t do what the agents wanted. Nikolay tied the bag from behind, and I began to suffocate and jerk. The chair began to tilt, but Ilya pressed it down, while Nikolay pressed me against the back of the chair. Nikolay took off the bag from my head, I started coughing, some saliva dropped on the floor, which made Ilya angry and he hit me, saying something about me making their floor dirty. Ilya repeated the questions, I repeated that I was not going to say or sign anything. After that, Nikolay put the bag back and tied it, but this time he hold it for longer than the first time.
This time I was suffocating much more seriously: the first time I tried to hold my breath and keep calm before they tied the bag, as if I was diving, but I soon ran out of air and started panicking
I was experiencing an overwhelming sense of fear, I was suffocating and could not do anything. I felt like doing anything they would tell [me to do] to get a gasp of air.
This time I was suffocating much more seriously: the first time I tried to hold my breath and keep calm before they tied the bag, as if I was diving, but I soon ran out of air and started panicking. When they took the bag off, I started coughing and said: “Stop it, stop torturing me.” In response, they put the bag back on, while I didn’t even have time to cough after the previous time. The third time, Nikolay held the bag on even longer. After he took the bag off, I was asked again whether I was going to sign a evidence statement and an agreement to cooperate. I replied: “Stop torturing me. You are twice as old as I am, I am in handcuffs, how can you do this?” They replied: “There is no other way with you” — and put the bag back on. I experienced an unbearable lack of oxygen, panic and fear.
They repeated these “procedures” five or seven times more, after that they took the bag off for a few seconds and put it on again, and hold it even longer, as a result I almost urinated on myself. Afterwards, Nikolay took off the bag, all agents were very angry, they repeated the question, I didn’t reply. After that, Mikhail who was sitting all the time and observing the torture said: “We’ll get the soldering iron and you will agree to everything” — and Ilya started looking for a soldering iron in the office. Mikhail opened the door to the office nearby and shouted: “Bring me the soldering iron”, and then left the room himself. At that point Nikolay said: “I will now take this broom and shove it in your asshole, and you will agree to everything, you won’t want to live after that. Do you want that?” I said: “No, I don’t.” At this moment, Mikhail returned, asked Nikolay to come with him, and they left the office and were discussing something, but I could not hear what exactly. Afterwards, Mikhail came in and said: “You have been lucky so far that your friends turned out to be more cooperative, but later you will pay for your behaviour here.”
Then they told me that they would let me go if I sign a pledge not to leave the city and that if I discussed what happened there — they would torture me again. The FSB agents promised to pick me up again on Monday. They brought me into the office where I was before and put me back into the “one and a half” position. It was late and the agents told me that they hadn’t slept for three days, and that they were going to bed now, and would continue to deal with us in the morning. The whole night I held the “one and a half” position next to the wall. During this time, two agents watched a film, eating and making sure that I couldn’t stand normally. But this time the agents were not so aggressive when I tried to stand in a normal pose. They allowed me to go to the toilet once, and there they were also with me.
In the morning, Nikolay, Mikhail and Ilya came back. They said that now I was going to answer the questions, some of which I had already answered. These were questions about me: what I was doing, why I came to the city, when, where I was going. But this time it was necessary to sign them with the investigator. They told me that I would be released together with Ivankin, since he testified against Kulkov, and Kulkov had taken the guilt on himself. They said that since I was from Omsk, I would live at Ivankin’s place. To avoid torture, I agreed. The agents wrote down my answers on a piece of paper. I asked: “What is going to happen to Kulkov?”They replied that they would put him under house arrest. Then they led me out of the building and put in a car, where there were three more agents, I didn’t know one of them, his name was Andrey.
“You have been lucky so far that your friends turned out to be more cooperative, but later you will pay for your behaviour here.”
On our way, we stopped next to a bridge, rail trucks and a forest. I was told that we had to make a photo where I point to a particular spot on the ground. I said that I was not going to get photographed and they started hitting me on the back of my head, back and the whole body, as well as threatening me. They told me that they would bring me back to the department, where I would be raped and tortured. Then I complied since I understood that the FSB agents could indeed do that. We left the car, another car stopped behind ours, and three girls came out of it. One of them, I thought, was a police officer, while two others were there just to stand next to me while they photographed us. They took off the handcuffs and told me to point first to one column of the bridge and then to another and then at an empty piece of land between the columns. I did that. Then they put the handcuffs back and drove me again.
When we arrived at another department, they unlocked the handcuffs and brought me to an office, a woman in police uniform was inside. She told me to sit down on a chair, I did that, and then she asked one agent to stay with me. Mikhail stayed. She offered me water. This was the first sip of water in one and a half days. Before that I was not allowed to sit (apart from the time when they were putting the bag on my head), to drink, not to mention, to eat. She offered me a chocolate bar. The door into the hall was open, and I saw how Kulkov and Ivankin were led by the office. I asked whether I could share the chocolate with my friends, and the officer (as I learned, her name was Ekaterina) said: “Eat.” I ate a half of it, and asked to give the second half to my friends, but nobody bothered to do that.
After that, she gave me a phone and told me to call my parents, which I did. Ekaterina told my mom that I was detained and that she would now allow us to talk. I asked my mom to find a lawyer for me, because I didn’t have one, and that I was not guilty. Ekaterina immediately demanded that we ended the conversation. Agent Mikhail said: “How is that we are not giving you a lawyer, you refused yourself.” I replied that I asked for a lawyer, but was refused. Mikhail gave Ekaterina the paper with my answers. She started typing what was written on it, sometimes asking questions about details. When she finished with my answers, she printed them out, and said that she was going to compare them with the answers of others. Then she returned and said that almost everything coincided. She gave me the papers with my answers and told me that if I sign them and then another paper (a pledge not to leave the city), I would be released.
Mikhail said: “Well do you want to drive again to us and then go to the SIZO, instead of home?” I said no and signed the papers. After that, they returned my passport and said: “Well done, now sit down and wait while Ivankin is interrogated and his testimony is printed, then we will take you home. You will sit at home, not a step outside, understood?” I said: “Understood.” Around two hours passed and then Nikolay entered the room and said that it was time to bring me and Ivankin home. Nikolay and Andrey led me and Ivankin out of the department and put us in the same car, in which I was driven there. They brought us to Ivankin’s place around 8pm, the agents explained to his parents that I was from Omsk and that I would be living with them for now. They promised to come for me on Monday [3 April 2017].After detention
Later, Ivankin and I discussed what happened at the FSB. Ivankin told me that at the FSB, he and Kulkov had agreed that Ivankin would testify against Kulkov and Kulkov would confess — to stop the violence of the agents. They were not tortured with the bag, but were beaten up, threatened with a soldering iron, and made stand in the “one and a half” position. We decided that it was not safe to stay and that there was a direct threat to our lives from the FSB agents. We feared that the violence and torture would continue. We got in touch with Kulkov and told him that we were planning to escape, and he replied that he was going to run away too. Since we were not allowed to sit, drink, eat and sleep for almost two days, we went to bed. Next day, 2 April 2017, we left the house. Before leaving, I called my girlfriend Vika and told her what had happened. We decided that she would also leave Penza as soon as possible.
Since then I have not seen either Ivankin or Kulkov. I was afraid of getting in touch with human rights defenders since I thought that I would be placed in a detention centre where they would not be able to help me, and where I would be forced to testify against myself under torture. Later, it turned out that my fears were not groundless: exactly that — torture and detention — happened to my friends from Penza and Petersburg.Another city
After we left the house where we were obliged to stay according to our pledges not to leave, I decided to go to the city N to my acquaintances. I hitchhiked there, told my friends what happened to me and they offered me to stay with them until the situation became clearer. Now I am incredibly grateful to these people and realise that they literally saved my life. Then I got in touch with my parents. According to my parents, FSB agents visited them and were asking whether they knew where I was and how to get in touch with me.
Understanding that the agents were looking for me, but also that I had to make a living somehow, I started looking for a job that would be possible without any papers. I found such job at a construction site, I just talked to the foreman of one the brigades. Then when they started to work on the external surface of a house, the site needed industrial climbers and people who would be able to work at heights, and since I used to do climbing and understood how everything worked, they took me on board. I lived like this for a few months, I would go home immediately after work, and tried to avoid public areas.
All that time, I was thinking how to leave Russia, understanding that “staying” was a direct threat to my life and health. I was considering any options of reaching a country where I could ask for an asylum, and Ukraine was my priority.Ukraine
When I got an opportunity to move to Ukraine illegally, I used it and reached Kyiv. I was afraid to go to the migration service, since I heard that there were some cases when unknown people had abducted asylum seekers from the Russian Federation and bringing them back to Russia. In Kyiv, I found a job as an industrial climber and insulating houses, but there was no work in winter, and I worked as a delivery driver for a vegetarian cafe instead.
In autumn 2017, I learned that my friends had been arrested in Penza. A month earlier Victoria had got her foreign passport and joined me. Since then we have been living in Ukraine. Before her detention in May 2018, Viktoria already returned to Penza once. Then she did not have any problems at the border. This time she was brought for an interrogation to FSB, where an investigator, Tokarev, asked many questions about me and asked her to pass on his “greetings”. He threatened that they have “their own people” in Ukraine and that they would take me illegally to Russia and put in prison.
I also learned that FSB agents mentioned the nicknames of the arrested, including my nickname, “Boris”. In one article somebody made a mistake and wrote that Kulkov is “Boris”. I would like to correct this: “Boris” is me. I was nicknamed “Cat Boris” or simply “Boris” because I love cats very much, and I had a cat, and once while I was playing with it, there was an advertisement of cat food on TV that mentioned a cat called Boris, and a female friend called me “Cat Boris” as a joke, and then everyone started addressing me that way.
I read in the media that FSB agents have threatened to get to Aleksandra, Viktor Filinkov’s wife, who has very recently left Kyiv for Finland and applied for an asylum there. I also read that there were cases when some unknown people abducted asylum seekers from Russia and brought them back to the country. After that, I began to fear for my life and health, and I am afraid that I can be returned to Russia, where I will be tortured again and most probably put in prison. Therefore, I would like to get asylum in another safer counter. During this time, my health has significantly deteriorated, especially my moral and psychological state, I have developed a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has been confirmed by a psychologist.
I realised that there was a danger of being extradited secretly here, but still made a decision to apply for an asylum in Ukraine. I am waiting for the authorities’ decision now. Currently, I am living in Ukraine legally.Tags: Russiaanarchists in troublecategory: International
From Medium by Uri Gordon
Ten years ago I published a short and not very rigorous essay titled “Dark Tidings: Anarchist Politics in the Age of Collapse”, in which I attempted to anticipate forthcoming trends in the terrain of social struggle, and suggest responsive stategies for social transformation in view of ecosystem degradation and climate change. Since the news cycle has again come around to these themes, the topic may be worth revisiting.
My major preoccupation in the essay was the evident prospects for an uneven, protracted and irriversible collapse of industrial civilisation, along with an unknown extent of the earth’s capacity to sustain life, over the coming generations. Any discussion of strategies for liberation, I argued, must now abandon hopes for a global revolutionary transition to sustainable modernity under workers’ control, and plan resistance to hegemonic programmes of transition to austere post-capitalist modes of exploitation and oppression. In line with the consistent anarchist strategy of unity between means and ends, such resistance can only be successful if rooted in mass movements which develop and defend material and social infrastructures for equality, voluntary association and mutual aid.
While the prognosis of collapse has become less and less of a public secret over the past decade, my expectation that a peak in fossil fuel extraction would begin to undermine global flows of capital has proven premature. Fracking, offshore drilling, dirty coal and a resurgent nuclear industry are for now expected to allow for several more decades of continued growth in energy throughput. As a result, and given the practical impossibility of decarbonising capitalism and the state, formerly “nightmare” scenarios of runaway climate change are more likely than to transpire. Indus trial capitalism has reduced entire ecosystems to lower phases of complexity and set the evolutionary path for the coming millions of years.
Another failed prediction was that hegemonic responses to public awareness of collapse would focus on recuperation — referring specifically to the neutralisation of radical practices and discourses through their absorbtion, and distorted recoding, into hegemonic modes of sociality. Generic current examples range from the wide adoption of horizontal and informal structures within tech corporations, disruptive tactics used to support of reformist or far-right agendas, and the zombified intersectionalism of liberal identity politics. However, the hype surounding green capitalist agendas, which prevailed when the essay was written, was soon to capsize with the advent of the global financial crisis. While current trends may still give way to new social-democratic formations, capital has obviously tended to opt for full-blown reaction as a first option — expressed in climate denial as well as national chauvinism.
Finally, the eclipse of elites supporting a green capitalist agenda by ones that seek retrenchment and embrace the far right has also meant that eco-fascism has not come to feature as prominently as I expected in the ultra-nationalist vocabulary. The ongoing refugee crisis, real and imagined confrontations with Islamic militancy, and the precarity of the European Union project have allowed the far right to mobilise around its good-old xenophobic tropes, while continuing to present itself as an enemy of multinationalism — always implicitly identified with the Jew. The reactionary celebration of sexism, violence and competition may, however, productively accentuate the alternatives of equality, freedom and soidarity offered by antagnoistic movements.
The original piece is reproduced below (links may be defunct).
Dark tidings: anarchist politics in the age of collapse
The writing has been on the wall for decades. Only large helpings of ignorance, arrogance, and denial could conspire to portray an entirely rational prognosis as the irrational rantings of a doom-crying fringe. But now, as reality begins to slap us repeatedly in the face, pattern recognition is finally and rapidly sinking in. There is no averting our eyes any longer: industrial civilization is coming down.
Already the whirlwind surrounds us. Energy prices shoot up, reflecting the recent peak in global oil production and its inevitable decline. Hurricanes, droughts, and erratic weather become more frequent and intense, bringing home the consequences of man-made global warming. Meanwhile soil and water quality continue to deteriorate, and biodiversity is crashing, with species extinctions at 10,000 times the normal rate. The trenchant food price crisis now engulfing the world is the strongest indication yet that no return to business as usual can be expected. Rather, what we are encountering is the final confrontation between neoliberal capitalism’s need for infinite growth and the finite resources of a single planet. No amount of financial speculation or hi-tech intervention will buy the system its way out of the inevitable crash. The time of the turning has come, and we are the generation with the dubious fortune to live and die in its throes.
Many contributions have celebrated the flowering of anarchist activities and intellectual concerns, as anti-capitalist opposition resurges all over the planet. Yet when coming to offer an international perspective on the future of anarchist praxis, we face dark tidings. Anarchists and their allies are now required to project themselves into a future of growing instability and deterioration, and to re-imagine their tactics and strategies in view of the converging crises that will define the twenty-first century.
This essay takes stock of the already-unfolding trajectory of global capitalism’s collapse, speculates on some of its social consequences, and situates them as challenges to the future of anarchist praxis. Clearly there is no use approaching this task from a seemingly neutral point of view, one that pretends to simply anticipate trends without going into recommendation, promotion, and encouragement. Inasmuch as an attempt is being made to envision rather than merely predict, there is room for suggesting priorities that anarchists might be encouraged to endorse in the coming years.Collapse and recuperation
In his recent bestseller Collapse, Jared Diamond (2005) surveys the rise and fall of several societies as diverse and separated by time and geography as the Viking settlements of Greenland, Easter Island in the Pacific, and Mesa Verde in the American Southwest. In each case natural systems were abused and resource-use was pushed far beyond the point of sustainability. Strained to a tipping point, these societies all collapsed — and Diamond obviously believes that the same will happen to our own global civilization.
The peak in global oil production marks a clear tipping point in this context. Without cheap oil there can be no commercial aviation, no monster wheat combines, no communication satellites, and probably no skyscrapers. Apples will not be flown 5,000 miles and sold in strip-lit supermarkets, and cheap appliances and materials will not be imported from China. Modern food systems in particular are almost entirely dependent on oil, from the manufacture of fertilizers and pesticides through the powering of irrigation systems and farm machinery and on to packaging and transport. Without cheap oil, both factory farming and global trade — as well as many other systems we take for granted — will not be possible. There is no real question about the eventuality of collapse, only about its pace and consequences.
To better understand the behavior of complex systems in crisis, we can turn to Kay Summer and Harry Halpin’s recent discussion of dynamic equilibrium and phase transition (Summer and Halpin 2007: 89). Like biological organisms and the Internet, global capitalism is a regenerating complex system, maintained in a state of dynamic rather than static equilibrium. Constant inputs of materials or energy keep the system in flux, oscillating back and forth within certain parameters, like a ball rolling in a valley — also referred to as the system’s “basin of attraction.” However,
[a] massive disturbance, or a tiny disturbance of just the right kind, [can] set off a positive feedback loop, to get the ball to roll right out of that valley and into another basin of attraction . . . these major changes, from one valley to another — known as phase transitions — are often preceded by periods of “critical instability”, during which the system is under great strain. It can lurch widely, exhibiting seemly chaotic behavior, before settling into a new, more stable, state. These periods are known as bifurcation points, because it appears that the system could go one way or another.
The interesting times we are living in represent precisely such a period of critical instability. Factors like energy scarcity and climate change are pushing the system increasingly closer to the margins of its basin of attraction, with the resultant collapse representing a phase transition of the same order of magnitude as the ones that led from hunting and gathering to agriculture and, more recently, from agriculture to industrial capitalism.
To be sure, one can only take this way of thinking so far when coming to discuss the finer details of social and political developments and their significance for anarchist praxis. For one thing, thinking of a system as a whole obscures its own internal contradictions and rivalries, which will influence how the phase transition plays out socially and politically in different countries. Moreover, growing energy scarcity will likely halt and eventually reverse many of the exchanges associated with economic and cultural globalization, leading to fragmentation and a heterogeneity of post-collapse trajectories. To risk straining the metaphor, imagine that the rolling ball itself is made of liquid mercury, and at the point of bifurcation breaks up into several drops that flow into various interconnected basins of attraction.
How can these new political realities be described? Here one’s vision obviously becomes murkier, but it seems natural to speak of three broad options: new social orders based on freedom and equality, modified social orders based on continued oppression and inequality, or a breakdown of social order altogether. In other words: grassroots communism, eco-authoritarianism, or civil war.
Anarchists and their allies are already deeply involved in activities that pull towards the first basin of attraction, and I will return to them later in the discussion. However, for the moment I would like to spend a little more time on the second basin of attraction. The anticipation of establishment responses to collapse is crucial if anarchists and their allies are to remain ahead of the game, rather than merely reactive, considering that hierarchical institutions are already reconditioning themselves to govern collapse.
In this context, recuperation remains a central strategy for preserving the hegemony of hierarchical social institutions. Recuperation is the process whereby capitalist society defuses material or cultural threats to itself by re-coding and absorbing them into its own logic (Situationist International 1966). Today, the environmental agenda itself is being subject to a massive campaign of this sort. On the surface, we are finally seeing environmental issues enjoying a prominent place in the mainstream discourses of Western publics. Yet increased awareness of climate change and peak oil, as well as to the excesses that have created the perpetual crisis, are accompanied by a wholesale erasure of the radical conclusions that environmental movements have attached to their warnings. Since the 1960s, environmental activists and writers have emphasized: (1) the essential contradiction between ecological stability and incessant growth, (2) the ideological connection between anthropocentric dominion over nature and the exploitative relations between genders and classes, and (3) the need for equality and decentralization as part of any genuinely sustainable society. In contrast, political and business elites have so far been rather successful in promoting a strategy that frames the issues as technical and managerial rather than social, and that promotes technological innovation and managed markets in an attempt to manufacture enough stability to keep the system running. Thus we are witnessing:
• The normalization of environmental and resource crises, whereby floods, extinctions, and shortages are packaged as an acceptable facet of contemporary life.
• The commodification of the atmosphere, as marketable debt mechanisms are introduced to regulate the emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases (Bachram 2004).
• The re-branding of nuclear energy as a “clean” alternative to fossil fuels, unbelievably reversing its status as a hallmark of destruction (Nuclear Energy Institute 2007), with similar efforts underway to integrate genetic engineering into “sustainable” agriculture and land management (Dewar 2007).
• The absorption of ecological consciousness into consumer culture via new organic food and clothing markets, “green” shopping malls, and the personal carbon offsetting industry (Monbiot 2007).
• A shift in international policy from the promotion of “sustainable development” to an agenda of mitigation, risk management, and damage control (Welsh and Blüdhorn 2007).
Perhaps the clearest outward indication of the elite strategy of recuperation is the transformed function of the Group of Eight (G8) summits in response to the yearly rituals of demonstration and disruption. As the writers of the Turbulence Collective (2007) observe,
[t]he G8 reinvented itself [and it] became a media-circus that presents itself as the only forum that can deal with global concerns. In other words, as the G8 came under attack, its very purpose became the relegitimation of its global authority. And it learnt its lessons well. At Gleneagles, a big NGO operation sponsored by the UK government saw 300,000 people turn out, not to demonstrate against the G8, but to welcome and “lobby” it in favour of debt relief and aid for Africa [. . .] in Heiligendamm [. . .] the G8 had once again moved on, now seeking to draw legitimacy by seeming to respond to widespread concern about climate change.
All of these processes clearly illustrate an attempt to re-code environmental challenges as opportunities for capitalism, through the creation of new markets and instruments of global governance. Yet such an outward “greening” of capitalist accumulation will only further exacerbate inequalities, create new enclosures, and impose regimes of austerity on the poor even as business elites cash in on the benefits.
Yet capitalism can only go so far in delaying its confrontation with the objective limits to its growth. Thus the ultimate goal of these recuperative strategies is to buy time, prolonging the period of manageable crisis so as to allow hierarchical institutions to adapt away from capitalism. While dwindling energy resources will inevitably require a transition to more local and labor-intensive forms of production, this transition can also be an elite-driven process. Such a process would aim at creating post-capitalist models of alienated production that, while appropriate for a declining resource base, will continue to harness human productive power to arrangements of economic imprisonment. If successful in the long run, such a strategy may usher in new forms of feudalism in which labor is at least partly de-commodified and replaced by serfdom — while armed elites retain privileged access to the fruits of a dwindling resource base (cf. Caffenztis 2008).
Since capitalism’s strategy of recuperation can only go so far (not least so because the accumulated experience in anti-capitalist social movements allows them to see through it), its companion strategy — repression — will also remain at the center of establishment responses to collapse. It is in this context that postmodern forms of authoritarian governance continue to be refined — from electronic surveillance and genetic profiling to the growing power of private security firms and on to the planned consolidation of NATO and the European security architecture (Gipfelsoli 2008).
The continuing development of innovations in social control is taking place not only in anticipation of potential geopolitical threats — from resource wars to mass migrations of environmental refugees — but also as a bulwark against domestic dissent, as self-organized grassroots alternatives based on community and mutual aid continue to proliferate against the elite strategy of containment and managed devolution.Consequences for praxis
What is the significance of these developments for the future of anarchist praxis? In order to answer this question, we may classify the myriad actions and projects that anarchists undertake under three broad categories: delegitimation, direct action (both destructive and creative), and networking. While these categories are not mutually exclusive — a particular instance of anarchist praxis can fall into more than one of them — they do offer useful rubrics for organizing the discussion. In considering each category of praxis in relation to the discussion above, attention is drawn to a number of relevant priorities in each.
Delegitimation refers to anarchist interventions in public discourse, verbal or symbolic, whose message is to deny the basic legitimacy of dominant social institutions and eat away at the premises of representative politics, class society, patriarchy and so on. Unlike protests, which tend to be directed against particular sets of policies and geared to making demands on government and industry to change their behavior, messages of delegitimation are directed against the very existence of hierarchical institutions and implicitly or explicitly call for their abolition. Thus, anarchist participation in actions against the World Trade Organization or the International Monetary Fund went beyond demanding change in these institutions’ policies, rather using the protests as an opportunity to delegitimate capitalism itself. Similarly, anarchist involvement against the Iraq war tended to go beyond highlighting the Bush administration’s contravention of international law or its dubious justifications for invasion, focusing rather on the war’s contribution to capitalist expansion, to the stifling of dissent, and to the “health of the state” more generally.
In the context of anarchist politics in the age of collapse, delegitimation will continue to be a crucial element — increasingly so as a countermeasure to capital’s efforts to absorb the converging crises of the twenty-first century. This has to do not only with the recasting of environmental challenges as market opportunities for those capable of taking advantage of them, but also — and perhaps more importantly — with their deployment as an instrument of social fear. In line with the decline of the welfare state and its functions over the past decades, governments can no longer base their legitimacy on promises of welfare, education, or health. Rather, their self-justification hinges on their promises to protect their citizens from drummed-up menaces, ranging from terrorism to juvenile delinquency.
Climate, energy, and food crises can easily become a new weapon in this arsenal. As long as the alarmist talk is not backed by any form of action that would jeopardize the existing structure of wealth and power, environmental threats are a convenient way to keep the public scared and dependent on established institutions.
Against the campaign of induced collective amnesia intended to detach environmental and social chaos from the capitalist system that created them, anarchists and their allies would be drawn to put forward the clear message that the same social forces and structures responsible for this mess should not be trusted to get us out of it. Such a task will increase in difficulty the more that Western governments move in an ostensibly environmentalist and socially progressive direction, as is likely to be the case in the United States and a number of European countries in the coming years. Yet the strength of anarchist perspectives is in their ability to put forward basic critiques that unmask such developments for the time-buying strategies that they are.
In this context, the obverse possibility should also be considered — that rather than an outwardly progressive turn, the effects of collapse will in some countries encourage the rise of eco-fascism. This term refers to the already-extant efforts of parties and organizations on the far right to put an ecological veneer on their authoritarian and racist agendas (Zimmerman 1997). This includes, for example, using arguments about ecological carrying capacity to justify curbs on immigration, or the twisted incorporation of the spiritual and counter-enlightenment content of radical environmentalism into an ideology of integral nationalism (recall German National Socialism’s celebration of a mystical connection between the German people and its soil). Eco-fascism is an especially dangerous enemy because it often presents itself as an enemy of multinational capitalism, though in the final analysis it is parasitical upon it (Hammerquist and Sakai 2002).
Anarchists are already at the forefront of resistance to far right forces in Europe and North America, and almost alone when it comes to confronting them in the streets. No doubt this aspect of activity will remain a strong priority, now with increased dedication to pre-empting the far right’s attempts to take advantage of growing instability and dissatisfaction.
This leads us directly to the central area of anarchist praxis — direct action. This term refers to action without intermediaries, whereby an individual or a group uses their own power and resources to change reality, according to their own desires. Anarchists understand direct action as a matter of taking social change into one’s own hands, by intervening directly in a situation rather than appealing to an external agent (typically a government) for its rectification. Most commonly, direct action is viewed under its preventative or destructive guise. If people object, for instance, to the clear-cutting of a forest, then taking direct action means that rather than petitioning or engaging in a legal process, they would intervene literally to prevent the clear cutting — by chaining themselves to the trees, or pouring sugar into the gas-tanks of the bulldozers, or other acts of disruption and sabotage — their goal being to directly hinder or halt the project.
In addition to environmental defense, we can expect direct action in its destructive or preventative context to become increasingly important in the area of resistance to new technologies. On the present reading, resistance to new technologies will become more and more significant as institutional responses to ecological crises center around the irresponsible deployment of nuclear power, biotechnologies, and geoengineering as “fixes” for an increasingly destabilizing ecosystem. What should be emphasized in this context is that one need not adopt a comprehensive anticivilization perspective in order to endorse such actions. In other words, you don’t have to be a primitivist to be a Luddite. In an age of declining fossil fuels and the climate changes perpetrated by their combustion, a new generation of nuclear power stations will almost certainly be pushed forward by government and industry. As mentioned above, the nuclear industry is already massively re-branding itself as a “clean” alternative to oil, coal, and gas, and governments are following suit. Yet nuclear power can only buy time for capitalism and Western over-consumption, at the price of permanent contamination.
While public campaigning and legal measures may have some success in limiting the creation of new nuclear power stations, direct action will no doubt come to the fore as such measures encounter their limitations. Anarchists and their allies will very likely have to intervene to directly hinder construction, and we may well expect a new round of anti-nuclear struggles to emerge very soon as a defining feature of anarchist praxis. This issue is already being given attention at the yearly Climate Camps, first organized in Britain and already being emulated in Germany, Australia, and the United States.
The trenchant world food crisis will also likely result in an institutional push to expand the deployment of genetically modified food, ostensibly as a way of gaining higher yields, but at the price of ecosystem contamination and a further consolidation of corporate power and control over farmers’ livelihoods. Anarchist resistance to genetically modified (GM) crops already flowered in the 1990s, especially in European countries, which unlike the US were not as rapidly swept by commercial growing. In solidarity with militant campaigns against GM crops by peasant movements in Latin America and South Asia, anarchists have played a large part in both campaigning and direct action. “Crop-busting” may well return to the fore of anarchist praxis, even as they promote more sustainable alternatives.
Finally, nanotechnology — the direct manipulation of atoms and molecules — is increasingly entering the consciousness of activists as the latest front of technological assault on society and the biosphere. Taking advantage of property changes that occur when substances are reduced to nano-scale dimensions, a host of novel products incorporating them are already on the market (ETC Group 2003). Nanotechnologies are not only an enabling technology that enhances corporate power in all sectors, but also a platform for the potential convergence of biotechnology, computing, and neuroscience, as the life/non-life barrier is broken on the atomic scale.
More immediately, initiatives enabled by nanotechnology are among those being forwarded as part of the looming menace of geoengineering — the intentional, large-scale manipulation of planetary systems to bring about environmental change, particularly to counteract the undesired side effects of other human activities (ETC Group 2007). Among the many proposals currently being discussed are “fertilizing” the oceans with iron nanoparticles to increase phytoplankton blooms that sequester CO2; utilizing nanoengineered membranes to store compressed CO2 in abandoned mines, active oil wells, and sub-oceanic caverns; and blasting sulfate-based aerosols into the stratosphere to deflect sunlight.
Efforts to counter these measures through international law are already taking place. The signatory governments of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), for example, were successfully lobbied in mid-2008 to unanimously agree on a wide-ranging “de-facto moratorium” on ocean fertilization activities. Yet these measures are limited in scope and enforceability — for example, one ocean fertilization company, Climos Inc. of San Francisco, appears to be moving full steam ahead in defiance of international consensus. Hence, direct action may become the only way to prevent dangerous gambling with the stability of planetary systems, the result of the same logic that has already destabilized them to a great degree.
Besides the destructive and preventative aspects of direct action, the term may also signify a constructive and creative enterprise — the self-organized generation of alternatives to capitalism on the ground. These efforts represent utopian experiments in the making, a prefigurative politics aiming to build a new world within the shell of the old. As the writers of the Emergency Exit Collective (2008: 5–6) point out, numerous efforts of this kind are already in existence around the planet — far wider than the efforts of anarchists themselves:
From new forms of direct democracy of indigenous communities like El Alto in Bolivia or self-managed factories in Paraguay, to township movements in South Africa, farming cooperatives in India, squatters’ movements in Korea, experiments in permaculture in Europe or “Islamic economics” among the urban poor in the Middle East. We have seen the development of thousands of forms of mutual aid association [that] share a common desire to mark a practical break with capitalism, and which, most importantly, hold out the prospect of creating new forms of planetary commons.
Through the retrieval of commons, people become increasingly capable of releasing themselves from dependence on capitalism and hollowing it out from within. In the coming years, the creation of self-managed alternatives based on commons will become ever more urgent, as communities face the consequences of declining energy resources and climate change. Indeed, such practices may be our only hope for passing through collapse in a way that will result in liberatory and life-affirming social realities, rather than in nightmares of authoritarianism or wholesale destruction.
For anarchists and their allies, it will become increasingly important to be involved in building independent, sustainable alternatives and community selfsufficiency. The growing interest among anti-capitalists in permaculture, natural building, and other aspects of practical ecology is an encouraging move in this direction. Constructive direct action in this vein is especially relevant in the advanced capitalist countries, where most anarchists are located, since these are societies where both community ties and basic skills have been thoroughly eroded.
In both urban and rural projects, the combination of self-sufficiency and egalitarian social relations can amount to a powerful form of propaganda by the deed, displaying attractive models that people can implement. Such models offer not only empowerment but also steps towards food and energy security, and towards independence from an increasingly precarious wage labor market with few remaining social safety nets.
This is where the final category of anarchist praxis — networking — comes to the fore. In both their destructive and constructive direct action efforts, anarchists are acting within a much broader social field and their successes will largely depend on solidarity and cooperation with constituencies outside their own core networks. In this context, the cultural logic of networking that has become a central feature of anarchist political praxis will hopefully continue to bear fruit, as anarchists and their allies extend their ties with additional communities in struggle — from migrants and refugees to the crashing middle classes.
All this does not mean that anarchists should position themselves as a vanguard that leads the masses towards revolution, but rather that they could function as a rear guard that seeks only to encourage and protect the autonomy and grassroots orientation of emergent resistances. In the context of building a new society, this would entail subverting attempts to absorb local self-reliance into a capitalist and/or authoritarian framework and — if this is successful — defending selfmanaged communities as they come under various forms of marginalization and attack.
Ultimately, however, there are no guarantees. Anarchist agency will remain necessary under all conditions, even — and perhaps more so — after the collapse of global capitalism. As Noam Chomsky (1986) argues, anarchism constitutes “an unending struggle, since progress in achieving a more just society will lead to new insight and understanding of forms of oppression that may be concealed in traditional practice and consciousness.” Even under the most favorable scenario, anarchists will have to respond to the re-emergence of patterns of domination within and/or among communities, even if at a certain point in time they have been consciously overcome. Eternal vigilance will remain the price of liberty.References
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Dewar, J.E. (2007) Perennial Polyculture Farming: seeds of another agricultural revolution?, Santa Monica, CA: The RAND Corporation.
Diamond, J. (2005) Collapse: how societies choose to fail or survive, London: Allen Lane.
Emergency Exit Collective (2008) “The 2008 G-8 in Hokkaido, a strategic assessment.”
ETC Group (2003) The Big Down: technologies converging on the nano scale.
ETC Group (2007) Gambling With Gaia.
Gipfelsoli (2008) “Collapsing the European security architecture.”
Hammerquist, D. and Sakai, J. (2002) Confronting Fascism: discussion documents for a militant movement, Montreal: Kersplebedeb.
Monbiot, G. (2007) “Eco-junk,” The Guardian, July 24.
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Situationist International (1966) “Alienation: an examination of several concrete aspects,” Internationale Situationniste, 10.
Summer, K. and Halpin, H. (2007) “The crazy before the new: complexity, critical instability and the end of capitalism,” Turbulence: ideas for movement, 1: 88–93.
Turbulence Collective (2007) “Move into the light: postscript to a turbulent 2007.”
Welsh, I. and Blüdhorn, I. (2007) “Eco-politics beyond the paradigm of sustainability: a conceptual framework and research agenda,” Environmental Politics, 16 (2): 185–205.
Zimmerman, M. (1997) “Ecofascism: a threat to American environmentalism?” in R.S. Gottlieb (ed.), The Ecological Community, London: Routledge.Tags: collapsestrugglestrategiesclimate changereflectionscategory: Essays
Janine Jackson: Like Social Security, the Endangered Species Act is historically and presently very popular. People, in the main, get the idea that trying not to wipe species off the face of the earth is a meaningful way to reflect the recognition that human life is sustained and enriched by a healthy and diverse environment. And as with Social Security, there are some who see the Endangered Species Act as primarily an obstacle keeping them and their friends from making the maximum amount of money possible.
The trouble is, too often media seem to balance those perspectives in reporting on the Act. Now the Trump administration is going all out to push back on central parts of the Endangered Species Act. What sort of reporting would make clear what’s at stake, and why we’re in this fight in the first place? We’re joined now for an update on things by Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. He joins us now by phone from Toronto. Welcome to CounterSpin, Brett Hartl.
Brett Hartl: Thanks a lot for having me.
This is a multi-front assault, as I understand it, from the Trump White House on regulations relevant to the Endangered Species Act. What are some of the pieces of what’s going on right now?
Well, sure, and it’s important to understand that, like you said, the Endangered Species Act is a remarkably successful and popular law. It has saved 99 percent of the species under its care from extinction, and the way it has done it is through a series of rules and safeguards that have been in place for nearly 45 years. And the Trump administration released three separate, related proposals that collectively really just take a meat cleaver to those safeguards, to the rules that have so successfully saved endangered species. So it’ll make it harder to protect them, to protect their habitats. It’ll make the protections they receive weaker, and, like you said, it will also rubber-stamp and streamline a lot of really dangerous projects, all in the name of benefiting special interests at the expense of endangered wildlife.
Here’s the Washington Post quoting Fish and Wildlife Service deputy director Greg Sheehan, “We are proposing these improvements” — these are what they call the changes — “We are proposing these improvements to produce the best conservation results for the species while reducing the regulatory burden on the American people.” Now, there’s no explication of that empty phrase, but the piece then quotes a lawyer for the conservative law firm the Pacific Legal Foundation, and he says:
The modest reform proposed by the Department of Interior today could finally enable the Endangered Species Act to achieve both of its noble goals of preventing extinctions and promoting recovery of protected species. Relaxing regulations as a species recovers will reward property owners for their role in that recovery, creating a necessary incentive for landowners to restore and improve endangered species habitat.
Well, I’m going to ask you to respond to the idea that weakening the Act strengthens the Act, but I want to say also it bugs me, anyway, that the issue is still presented in this “some say, others differ” format. It’s like an argument preserved in amber, as though there’s no evidence to consider on this question of, “Does protecting species kill the American dream?” or whatever. So how do we parse this argument that we’re hearing here?
Sure, and I think you’re right. Kudos to the other side for really winning the rhetorical war in most of the media. They make it seem like it’s an even-handed debate and the people are split, when in fact I don’t think most people, even Trump voters, thought that gutting protections for endangered species was the “reducing regulatory burden” that they had in mind.
First, it’s important to understand that the Endangered Species Act has always incentivized good behavior on private property, rewarded private property owners as species recover, provided enormous flexibility to allow reasonable development to occur, as long as we mitigate and minimize the harm that we cause endangered species.
But more broadly, I think it’s important to really understand that when they talk about making the Act work better, it’s just code. It’s code for them to basically say, we’re giving the green light and a rubber stamp to things like drilling offshore and drilling in the Arctic, mining for coal everywhere. There’s nothing reasonable or moderate within these proposals. For example, where they simply say, we are no longer going to protect critical habitat for endangered species that are harmed by climate change, and we’re not going to assess the impacts of climate change on endangered species ever again. That’s not even remotely reasonable.
Reducing the protections for threatened species is basically like saying, if you were in the hospital and you were recovering from a bad injury or a bad illness, and halfway through we said, “Well, you know what? We’re just going to get rid of your medications and just assume that, because you’re on the right track today, it’s going to keep going well.” You don’t end a treatment for a serious illness halfway through because things are going well. You finish the treatment, you get yourself to recovery, and then you move forward. Basically, what we’re going to see is hundreds of endangered species — that were on the right track, moving towards recovery, moving back to healthy populations — get derailed, and be stuck in limbo or purgatory for years to come.
“Obama did it too” is a popular parlor game, and it’s important to see where there’s a continuity of policy and impact, even if there’s been an evident change in personality or in approach. You’ve been working on this issue for years, including within Congress. Does what we’re seeing now represent a break, or an escalation, or what? How would you differentiate this administration’s actions on this issue?
I just want to be the first to agree that no administration is perfect, and that the Obama administration fell short, too, in critical areas. But this is far more sweeping, what the Trump administration is doing, than any other president has tried before. It really goes far beyond the realms of the reasonable policy disagreements that normal governments have when parties shift. So I think it’s a pretty dramatic escalation. It certainly aligns well with what the Republican majorities in Congress are doing right now, which is relentlessly attacking every aspect of the Endangered Species Act under the same rhetorical guise of regulatory reform, when it really is just about rewarding special interests and the largest polluters and their richest friends. So it’s in some ways more of the same, but in some ways this is actually extremely dangerous and unprecedented, and hopefully the American people will speak out against it.
I wanted to say about media, I don’t think it’s that they don’t acknowledge that there’s powerful corporate interests at work here. It just feels like they lend — and this is what you are talking about, the balance — it seems like they lend legitimacy to the argument that protecting species conflicts with business and with jobs, and I think partly they do that by painting it as a values thing. You know, it’s elite and out-of-touch to care about, if not the environment, individual species. We remember when “spotted owl” was itself just a punchline. And then it’s very “salt of the earth” to want to cut red tape and all of that. And I think some journalists, who are the same ones going on about the Heartland, may buy into that, when, if they talk to actual conservatives of a certain stripe, they’d hear something different than the argument that they’re putting in a lot of folks’ mouths, wouldn’t they?
Yeah, there’s a lot of rhetoric, and a lot of demagoguing and scapegoating some endangered species. They’ve become, unfortunately, and wrongly, the target of a lot of anti-federal government feelings and sentiments, because they’re easy to demonize. And special interests learned long ago that it’s probably better to villainize them than to try to explain the complexities of our supposedly free markets, when in fact there’s many other reasons that drive a lot of these economic questions. So spotted owls, sage grouse, wolves, have always been blamed for very complex problems, and they’re not responsible, but they’re easy to pick on. And unfortunately, the media buy into it sometimes.
But the reality is that we have over 1,800 endangered species in the United States, 99 percent have been saved from extinction, many are on a path to recovery, and we have been able to do that for decades, while also accommodating reasonable development. So it’s not incompatible, and the reality is that healthy, thriving wildlife benefits people enormously, just as healthy environments do, because we depend on things like clean air and clean water and healthy wildlife to thrive as a society.
I just think even some conservatives are being misrepresented here, people who would define themselves as conservatives who are actually conservationists, as well.
Well, finally, we’ve been saying that people don’t seem to accept these arguments. People support the Endangered Species Act overwhelmingly. What do you see happening over the next few days? What are you going to be doing, and what can folks be doing?
So right now, these are all proposed changes to existing regulations, and that means that there’s a public commentary period, it’s going on for about 60 days, until about late September, and any person, it’s your right as a citizen to write or email and express your opposition or your thoughts about this. The government has to at least acknowledge them or respond. And we will be doing that. And if the Trump administration continues to push many of these changes, which are harmful to the Endangered Species Act, and probably illegal, just like many of the other rollbacks that we are seeing across the board, we will go to court and I think ultimately we will prevail.
We’ve been speaking with Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. Find their work online at BiologicalDiversity.org. Brett Hartl, thank you very much for joining us this week on CounterSpin.
Thanks a lot. Have a good week.
The Trump administration is delaying closure of a Texas “tent city” that houses migrant boys who crossed the US-Mexico border without a parent or were separated from their families under the president’s cruel “zero tolerance” policy, according to a CBS News report published early Saturday.
Located at the Tornillo Port of Entry south of El Paso, the facility was opened June 14 because of overcrowded shelters and was initially set to close a month later. However, with hundreds of children still separated from their parents — thanks to the administration’s immigration policies and prolonged failure to reunite families by a federal court’s July 26 deadline — its closure has been repeatedly delayed.
After the first delay, officials had planned to close down the facility this weekend, but the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — which contracted the nonprofit that runs the tent city — said Friday that now it won’t close until at least September.
On Friday, Texas lawmakers toured the facility — which currently houses about 170 children — with members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. Democratic state Reps. Ina Minjarez and Diego Bernal told the San Antonio Express-News that the shutdown delay is due to a backlog of background checks and fingerprints.
“All of them have places they could go, but for the federal government dragging their feet in returning requests for background checks,” said Bernal.
“Why are they not doing their due diligence to get these expedited, so that these kids can leave this facility and be with their family?” asked Minjarez.
A spokesperson for HHS told CBS:
HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is continuously monitoring bed capacity available to provide shelter for minors who arrive at the US border unaccompanied and are referred to HHS for care by immigration officials, as well as the information received from interagency partners, to inform any future decisions or actions. …HHS will continue to assess the need for this temporary shelter at Tornillo Land Port of Entry (LPOE), Tornillo, TX, based on projected need for beds and current capacity of the program.
Pointing to an investigation published July 5, CBS also noted that “a loophole in federal policy allows the Tornillo facility and another massive temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida, to escape the rigorous, often unannounced child welfare inspections that all other similar shelters operated by ORR are subjected to.”
Gina Hinojosa, another Democratic state representative who visited the facility on Friday, tweeted:
Tornillo tent city costing @ 500K/day & implemented because Trump’s Zero Tolerance/Child Separation policy flooded system. Only reason I can see to use tent city (instead of brick & mortar) is to use federal lands to avoid State childcare licensing requirements.
— Gina Hinojosa (@GinaForAustin) August 10, 2018
The post Trump Administration Delays Texas “Tent City” for Migrant Children Closure Again appeared first on Truthout.
From Earth First!
UPDATE 12:20 PM 8/11/2018: Joseph’s contact info has been added to the bottom of this post.
Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, an alleged member of the Earth Liberation Front group “The Family,” has been arrested in Cuba and is now being held in Oregon. Cuban authorities, with assistance from the FBI and other US government agencies, detained Dibee in Cuba shortly before he was set to board a plane to Russia. He has been held in the Multnomah County Detention Center in Portland since Thursday afternoon.
He appeared in federal court in Oregon yesterday afternoon. He pleaded not guilty to three counts of arson and conspiracy charges. He told the judge he understood his rights and said nothing else.
He will now face federal criminal charges in Oregon, California, and Washington.
He is being charged in Oregon with one count of conspiracy to commit arson, one count of conspiracy to commit arson and destruction of an energy facility, and one count of arson. He also faces one count each of conspiracy to commit arson, possession of an unregistered firearm, and possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence in Washington and one count each of conspiracy to commit arson, arson of a government building, and possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence in California.
One of the actions Dibee is accused of taking part in is the destruction of the Cavel West horsemeat-packing plant in Redmond, Oregon, in 1997. The joint ELF/ALF action was successful in permanently closing down the facility.
In 2005, FBI agents arrived at Joseph Dibee’s home in Seattle, but did not have enough evidence to arrest him. He “disappeared” a few days later. In 2006, a federal grand jury in Oregon indicted Dibee and 12 others as part of Operation Backfire, an FBI investigation into animal and earth liberation groups which has led to numerous arrests. “The Family” is believed to be responsible for actions ranging from vandalism to arson between 1995 and 2001, causing more than $45 million in damages to earth-destroying and animal-abusing companies. None of the actions Dibee is accused of taking part in harmed any human or nonhuman life.
Dibee is expected to go to trial in October in a federal court in Eugene. He will be held in jail until then.
Please write to Joseph at:
Joseph Dibee #812133
Multnomah County Detention Center
11540 NE Inverness Drive
Portland, Oregon 97220
DO NOT write about his case or reference anything illegal!Tags: ELFAFLpropaganda of the deedcubaoregonthe familycategory: Prisoners
We’ve all heard claims that fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas are major job creators. President Trump says so all the time.
But it turns out that developing and installing the technology to reduce fossil fuel use — known in the industry as “energy efficiency” — creates many more jobs than fossil fuels.
Energy efficiency jobs in the United States totaled 2.18 million in 2016, more than double the total of fossil fuel production and fossil-fuel based electricity generation combined.
They’re growing at a much faster rate, too. From 2015 to 2016, there was 53 percent employment growth in advanced and recycled building materials, and 59 percent employment growth in Energy Star appliances. Compare that to just 9 percent growth in fossil fuel-based electricity generation.
These energy efficiency jobs are much cheaper to create. According to an academic study, every $1 million invested in energy efficiency creates 12 jobs, compared to just 4 or 5 for fossil fuel jobs.
These are good, well-paying jobs. For example, electricians have a median hourly pay of $26, and the corresponding numbers for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) workers and carpenters are $22.64 and $21.71, respectively. (Compare that to the median hourly pay for all U.S. workers, $18.12.)
These jobs are more likely to be unionized, too. And they’re a great way to lift up people who’ve been left out of the fossil fuel economy.
So it’s no wonder that many states are working to grow their share of efficiency jobs, especially for traditionally excluded populations such as people of color and low-income people. I looked at a bunch of inspiring examples in a new report for the Institute for Policy Studies out this week.
For example, Illinois has passed legislation requiring larger utilities to create renewable energy and energy efficiency job training programs, especially for people from economically disadvantaged communities — including youth of color, formerly incarcerated people, individuals who’ve been in the foster care system as children, and others.
Oregon is another success story. Forty-seven percent of new jobs created through Oregon’s statewide residential energy efficiency program — and 55 percent of the hours worked — went to women and people of color. Median hourly wages for these jobs were 7 percent higher than the median hourly wage of $17.24 for all Oregon workers, and 81 percent of workers had health benefits.
These successes didn’t happen by themselves — they were the product of setting goals and making serious efforts to meet them.
So energy efficiency creates more jobs than fossil fuels — and at a faster rate and a lower cost.
They’re good jobs, with good wages and above-average rates of unionization. And states have taken concrete measures to make these jobs accessible to everyone and raise standards for energy efficiency workers.
Fossil fuel interests pour money into congressional and presidential campaigns, and politicians return the favor by doing their bidding. The Trump administration’s push for coal is driven by two billionaire coal oligarchs, Robert Murray and Joseph Craft. Both have pumped money into Trump’s campaign and openly advocate for deregulating fossil fuels and bailing out coal.
If the federal government really cared about “jobs, jobs, jobs,” they would follow the lead of Illinois and Oregon and make a big push to subsidize energy efficiency — instead of bailing out coal.
Empowering Black students to become change makers is a key goal of the book, Teaching for Black Lives. Editors Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian and Wayne Au have assembled a cogent group of essays that offer the opportunity for developing an anti-racist pedagogy.
Truthout interviewed one of the editors, Jesse Hagopian, who is also a Truthout contributing writer.
Mark Karlin: You note in your introduction that “We must teach for black lives in our classrooms.” How did you and your fellow editors come up with the idea for a textbook that can also be used as a reader by adults?Co-editor Jesse Hagopian.Rethinking Schools
Jesse Hagopian: As I answer these questions, white supremacists and neo-Nazis are readying plans to march on Washington, DC. Hate crimes are on the rise around the country. Police violence against Black people continues unabated and the school-to-prison pipeline is helping to fuel the nation’s system of mass incarceration. And yet, there are also a growing number of educators who are organizing and fighting back against anti-Black racism.
In this way, I think the Black Lives Matter (BLM) at School movement and the broader movement for Black lives inspired the idea for Teaching for Black Lives as a book that could be used by educators, students, activists and community organizers. The BLM at School movement went national during the 2017-2018 school year and educators in over 20 cities participated in a week of action from February 5 to 9, to affirm the lives of Black students and challenge institutional racism. The BLM at School movement developed three demands: (1) End “zero tolerance” discipline and implement restorative justice; (2) Hire more Black teachers; (3) Mandate Black history and ethnic studies in K-12 curriculum. In addition, educators taught lessons throughout the week that corresponded to the 13 guiding principles of #BlackLivesMatter Global Network including restorative justice, empathy and loving engagement, diversity and globalism, trans-affirming, queer-affirming, collective value, intergenerational, Black families and Black villages, Black women and unapologetically Black.
Seeing this movement spread from Seattle to Philadelphia during the 2016-2017 school year, and then explode nationally the following year, made the editors at Rethinking Schools want to find ways to contribute and arm teachers with lesson plans that can help them empower students to become change makers. I was truly blessed to be able to work with co-editors Dyane Watson and Wayne Au on this project whose expertise in anti-racist pedagogy was invaluable.
How did you decide on the five sections of the book?
The five sections of the book are:
- Making Black Lives Matter in our Schools;
- Enslavement, Civil Rights and Black Liberation;
- Gentrification, Displacement and Anti-Blackness;
- Discipline, the Schools-to-Prison Pipeline and Mass Incarceration; and
- Teaching Blackness, Loving Blackness and Exploring Identity.
Each section represents a major aspect of the Black experience that we believed is not often taught–or not taught well—yet is critical for empowering Black students to understand their own identities and challenge the intuitional racism they face. As we write in the introduction to the book,
“We recognize that anti-Black racism constructs Black people, and Blackness generally, as not counting as human life. The chapters here in Teaching for Black Lives push back directly against this construction by not only providing educators with critical perspectives on the role of schools in perpetuating anti-Blackness, but also by offering educators concrete examples of what it looks like to humanize Black people in curriculum, teaching and policy. Throughout the book, we demonstrate how teachers can connect the curriculum to young people’s lives and root their concerns and daily experiences in what is taught and how classrooms are set up. We also highlight the hope and beauty of student activism and collective action.”
As well, we paid special attention to the fact that while the Black experience is shaped by the impact of racism, there is no one Black identity. Because of this, we include lessons in the book that take up many different intersectional Black identities, including Black Women, Afro-Mexican, Black Muslim and Black queer identity. These lessons will help educators better understand intersectional Black identities and the overlapping forms of oppression—such as sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and xenophobia—that these students face.
Likewise, how did you decide on the authors of the many essays?
The teaching pieces included in Teaching for Black Lives represent the vast body of work that we have collected from authors who have published with Rethinking Schools magazine and other important essays and interviews that we believe would help explain the major themes we address in the book.
In one chapter, longtime educator Jody Sokolower interviews Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, about the roots of the school-to-prison pipeline. We learn in an interview with author Monique Morris that stereotypes of the “angry Black girl” have contributed to Black girls being the most disproportionally suspended and expelled from school. In another chapter, author, poet and sociologist Eve L. Ewing vividly describes the horror of mass school closures in Chicago and how the powerful forces of desire and imagination can be used in the battle against the neoliberal assault on the public schools. We reprinted a powerful speech by James Baldwin entitled, “A Talk to Teachers,” where he insists, “It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person.” In a chapter on how racism is infused in responses to natural disasters, author and educator Renée Watson shows teachers how to use poetry to teach about Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and the San Diego wildfires of 2007. I co-authored a teaching activity with educator Adam Sanchez where students take on the role of different members of the Black Panther Party—as well as people who tried to get rid of the Party—and meet each other in a large gathering where they discover there was a lot more to the Panthers than they were ever taught before. We only included teaching activities that had actually been used by educators in the classroom because we believe that the best lessons are created when educators critically reflect on their own work.
We also paid special attention to including artwork and poetry that could bring the writing to life. Throughout the book, we have included stunning graphics in full color, often original art pieces, by Black artists around the country whose work makes up a vital component of the book. The beautiful cover illustration by Ekua Holmes has become what I imagine freedom to be when I close my eyes.
As a teacher, how do you find Black students respond to the groundbreaking book?
I taught ethnic studies during the 2017-2018 school year, the first ethnic studies class in the Seattle public schools. The creation of my class was one of the important victories of the Black Lives Matter at School movement in Seattle and gave me a great opportunity to use many of the lessons that are included in Teaching for Black Lives.
Lessons on identity that helped my Black students celebrate their intersectional Blackness were a true joy to see in the classroom. For example, students were amazed to learn that it was a gay Black man, Bayard Rustin, who had organized the March on Washington, and that by the 1970s, Black women made up the majority of the Black Panther Party. The lessons that revealed the school-to-prison pipeline, especially the essay written by high school student Haniyah Muhammad about her experience growing up with a father in jail, were deeply meaningful for my students as well.
One of the lessons that was most engaging for my Black students was, “COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black freedom movement.” In this activity, students become investigators themselves trying to unearth the motivations and strategies that were used to put so many freedom fighters in the grave and disrupt the many different organizations that made up the social movement against racism in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I found almost all of my students had never even heard of COINTELPRO and were shocked to learn that this organized attack by the government was not just against the Black Panther Party or the Nation of Islam but also against avowed nonviolent leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr.
Why is it important for whites to read this book?
White teachers make up the vast majority of educators in the US—especially since some 26,000 Black educators have been pushed out of the profession around the country since 2002. If Black students are going to get the curriculum they deserve—a curriculum that humanizes and empowers them to challenge anti-Blackness—it will require a lot of white educators taking the time to educate themselves and making a commitment to antiracist pedagogy. For that reason, it is critical that white educators engage with the ideas and lessons in this book. In addition, Teaching for Black Lives is a valuable book for white students who also desperately need to be taught the truth about Black history and better understand the ways racism is constructed in our society to divide them from their Black peers and thus keep them all disempowered. White students need to better understand the struggles and contributions of Black people throughout history, as well as intersectional Black identities, if they are going to be effective allies in the struggle for racial justice.
Can you tell us more about the organization that published the book, Rethinking Schools?
Rethinking Schools is now over 30 years old, founded in 1986 by a group of Milwaukee-area teachers with a vision for transforming public education. As we write about Rethinking Schools on our webpage, “It is an activist publication, with articles written by and for teachers, parents, and students. Yet it also addresses key policy issues, such as vouchers and marketplace-oriented reforms, funding equity, and school-to-work.”
Rethinking Schools has always had a commitment to defending the public school from corporate education reformers who seek to profit off of the public schools with privatization schemes such as vouchers and charter schools or use high-stakes standardized testing to punish students and teachers. At the same time, Rethinking Schools has always realized that the ideal of the public schools as being a great democratizing force in society has always been stunted by the realities of structural racism and oppression that often get reproduced in the education system.
As Rethinking Schools has written about our mission, “There is a Zulu expression: ‘If the future doesn’t come toward you, you have to go fetch it.’ We believe teachers, parents, and students are essential to building a movement to go fetch a better future: in our classrooms, in our schools, and in the larger society.”
The post Black Lives Matter in Our Schools: Developing an Anti-Racist Pedagogy appeared first on Truthout.
From Contra Info by anarchist Gustavo Rodríguez
To memory of Mauricio Morales Duarte
“The cult of the dead is nothing more than contempt for true pain. […] The latter must also disappear, faced with the fatality of death the people must react firmly. We must fight against suffering instead of displaying it, of promenading it in grotesque processions and false commemorations […] Pyramids, graves, tombs must be thrown down; we must drive the plow through the walls of cemiteries to rid humanity of what we call respect for the dead, which is the worship of corpses“.
This is the third text I write in his memory, through these nine years of absence; however, the pain doesn`t go away. It couldn`t vanish in spite of time gone by, as I couldn`t dissipate the pain for the physical disappearance of my dear Urubu, of my esteemed Rafa (Daniel Barret), of my brother Canek and so many others who left but who live in our black memory. It is not that I want to show pain or recreate it in celebrations of mourning: we anarchists don`t worship corpses. I am simply unable to overcome it. And I couldn`t – nor want to – overcome this feeling because I`ve always transformed it into anger. I don`t intend to do the tiniest effort to forget them because memory, comrades, is our most potent weapon.
Not everyone I named died in combat – but neither is there anything to extol in the fact of falling into combat. We don`t have martyrs. We don`t believe in sacrifice and immolation. That we leave to christians, muslims, nationalists, bolsheviks. The only thing that motivates us is freedom without restrictions and passion for life, that`s why we fight for Total Liberation. That`s why our war is against domestication and domination. Against all Power, against all Authority, against the whole existing.
From the moment that we assume ourselves as anarchists without any guilt, we implicitly assume the illegality of our action, accepting the consequences of anarchic war. We know in advance what we are facing: repression under all its facets, deportation, prison, death. These are the risks that result from our praxis, risks assumed by all those who elected to fight against the whole Authority. Not for a better world nor for a bright future society, nor in the name of a class or a cause, nor even hopeful in the realization of the increasingly inaccessible Social Revolution; it isn`t either for a price to pay, before as a weight to be taken from above us . Do it for the pleasure that arises from giving free rein to all passions, for the joy of living intensely, confronting day by day the death in life that the system of domination imposes on us, for the satisfaction of being an anarchist to the last consequences, for the delight of giving impetus to destruction efforts of the anarchic uprising.
On the night of May 22, 2009 our dear Mauri did not decide immolate himsel for any cause, nor did he conclude that the hour had come to sacrifice himself for a better tomorrow. On that fateful night, Mauri fit in his backpack the home-made bomb – with which he would strike power again. It would be a new attack – not the first nor the last – this time against the Gendarmerie School of Santiago and he would do it with joy, with that playful spirit that characterized him, assuming the dangers of anarchic war as we all do it in the daily fight. But he who loves life bothers his oppressor, detests with fury who causes death and confronts him in all latitudes.
That May 22nd, Mauri went out to lighten the night of Santiago, seeking to give life to Anarchy, with the passion that guided his steps, propagating the negative energy of his anarchic fury, absolute owner of his life in full freedom. That night, death took him from us, leaving the Furies locked in our hearts. Took him without asking permission, as it had stolen 22 days earlier the comrade Zoé Aveilla – while she installed a bomb at sunrise on May 1st – as it could have taken each one of us, without giving up on playing the game again.
Today, the Furies continue to incite us to not stop fighting until the anger is released, creating a potency in the self that is simultaneously its own meaning. As in greek mithology, the Furies urge us to fight and not forget the fallen. Heraclitus reminds us that “Even if the Sun itself tried to abandon its course, the Furies would find it”. That is why the Arche [principle] of anarchy – yesterday, today, tomorrow and always – it’s the war against any Authority.
Nowadays, the best hommage or celebration of Mauri is to recharge hundreds of thousand of extinguishers, to perform countless expropriations, to facilitate multiple escapes, to confront tooth and nail this death in life that is imposed on us. Peace is unmemory and oblivion: let`s encourage destructive creativity, let`s amplify anarchic war to all corners of the Earth, let`s give life to Anarchy.
For the Black International!
Planet Earth, May 20, 2018
From CrimethIncA Report from Charlottesville, August 11, 2018
A year after fascists with torches marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, anarchists and other anti-racists who traveled there to shut down their rally returned to support locals in observing the anniversary of those events. Defying a massive police mobilization aimed at completely suppressing all freedom to demonstrate, hundreds marched around downtown for hours. The following hasty report was submitted by some of the out-of-town participants.
When we arrived in Charlottesville, the atmosphere felt different than it had a year ago when we came here to oppose the Unite the Right demonstration. Then, the city felt tense, but it was also full of people who were heading into a fight they believed in. The mood wasn’t festive, exactly, but our shared desire to protect and support each another and to stand up to fascists created a lively energy.
This year, as I walked onto the University of Virginia (UVA) campus where the vigil for Heather Heyer was to be held, it seemed that the energy we had shared was nowhere to be found. The police and the state authorities had done everything in their power to dominate the environment and shape the entire weekend of events according to their own agenda.
On Wednesday, the governor and the city manager declared a state of emergency in Virginia as a whole and Charlottesville in particular. They brought over 1000 officers to the city and housed them in dorms paid for by student tuition, drawing censure from several student groups. The police set up checkpoints around the city at which to search people for a long list of items they declared forbidden. They created a “security perimeter” blocking roads and access to parking. They erected metal detectors and banned additional items at the UVA student rally on Saturday night, against students’ wishes. They did all this despite the fact that only anti-racist activists were expected to come to the city this weekend.
Behind every cop, a Klansman.
Some of the items prohibited at UVA.
Fortunately, UVA students and other protesters were determined not to permit the police to control their event or dictate the proper way of remembering Heather Heyer, Nia Wilson, and all the other people who have been killed or harmed by fascist and racist violence.
We waited at the Rotunda, by the statue of Thomas Jefferson where fascists with torches had surrounded and attacked UVA students last year.
And then, finally, life broke out once more in Charlottesville.
Student organizers, many of whom were people of color, stood forth on the top steps, separated from the crowd by the metal detectors we were supposed to walk through in order to attend the rally. Raising their voices, they fiercely decried the absurdity of the massive police presence and the institution of police itself, highlighting the connection between fascists and cops by means of a powerful call and response speech and a banner.
Last year they came with torches; this year they come with badges.
A flier distributed at the rally.
The students led the crowd to the left side of the exterior of the Rotunda, a place the police were not controlling, and used the steps as an impromptu stage. The first speaker had only been speaking for a couple of minutes when we started hearing people shouting that riot cops were on our left. Much of the crowd migrated towards the cops and began chanting at them. The chant I heard most was, “We don’t see no riot here, why are you in riot gear?”
A replica of the banner students were carrying when fascists attacked them at the foot of the statue of Thomas Jefferson one year ago.
After twenty minutes or so, student-aged individuals began weaving through the crowd and telling people to come back towards where the speakers had been. No one I talked to knew why we were being called back, although there were murmurs that the police were going to declare an unlawful assembly. Eventually, we made our way back. As we got closer, we saw that the speakers had stopped and a march was beginning so we joined in. The crowd was at least a few hundred strong. We quickly took the street.
“UVA, you’ve got blood on your hands—we won’t stop til you meet our demands.”
It was clear from the beginning that the march had a radical character. We chanted against the state, capitalism, cops, white supremacy, fascists… all the different manifestations of hierarchy and oppression. It was a relief to be in this environment after the police had attempted to force an oppressive and controlled atmosphere on the rally.
Students on the front lines.
Student organizers led the march to Lambeth Field, which state troopers had been using as a staging area. Students spoke while police officers lined up on the other side of the field.
Students in the amphitheater facing Lambeth Field.
A line of cops in Lambeth Field.
The energy lagged a bit in the amphitheater. We felt powerful when we were marching in the streets, forcing cars to turn around and yelling together our refusal to stand for oppression. In the amphitheater, we were passive audience members once more. There is a time for speeches and listening, but what I wanted, and I think what many of us wanted, was to be in the streets together. We were also getting antsy about being in a location vulnerable to police control. At the sound of a siren, the crowd decided collectively and spontaneously to leave the stadium and start marching again.
This second phase of the march was more leaderless. There were advantages and disadvantages to this. It was not always clear what direction we were going; we had to stop a few times to confer about our path. Yet despite these logistical challenges, we marched through the streets of Charlottesville for two hours, passing through downtown and finally arriving at the park where the fascists had gathered during last year’s Unite the Right demonstration—the park where the statue of Robert E. Lee is located.
A considerable police presence was concentrated here to protect the statue—reportedly over 100 officers. Despite chants demanding to tear the statue down, several voices in the march announced that the march was over and that we should go home. I guessed that these were the voices of student organizers, as I don’t think anyone else felt such a degree of ownership over the event that they would have felt they could call for its conclusion.
Nazi punching is self-defense.
During the time we were marching, we saw very few cops and experienced very little repression or attempts to control the march. As far as I know, no arrests were made, although there are rumors that one person was de-arrested, and two videos show scuffles in which police apparently attack people in the march as the crowd arrives at Water Street and moves onto the Downtown Mall after 9 pm.https://twitter.com/craftypanda/status/1028450667227164677
In retrospect, whether intentional or not, it was strategic to plan to hold the rally at the Rotunda and then instead to march repeatedly from one location to another. This forced the police to keep mobilizing and deploying with the consequence that they had to draw some of their numbers out of downtown—making it possible for the march to arrive there after all, despite all their attempts to control the area.
Even though Virginia deployed over 1000 cops to Charlottesville this weekend, the police knew that attacking students and other anti-racist activists on the anniversary of the Unite the Right rally and Heather Heyer’s murder would be bad publicity. Because of this, they were forced to allow us to march mostly unimpeded. We were not searched or controlled as the authorities had promised we would be. Some people wore masks, which the authorities had declared would not be permitted. Once again, we learned that the state can only control us to the extent that we collectively accept the myth of its power.
When we band together against police and the state, even when our numbers are not as great as theirs, we can win—just as we succeeded in shutting down the fascist rally in Charlottesville last year, even though we were outnumbered. In contrast to last weekend’s demonstrations in Portland and Berkeley, this time there were no fascists in Charlottesville for the police to protect. The optics become worse for the police when they attack anti-fascist activists without the excuse that they are “defending other citizens.” Especially after the brutal police repression in Berkeley and Portland last week, it felt good that in Charlottesville, the police were afraid to touch us. This enabled us to be together to celebrate Heather and hold the state accountable on our own terms in a way that the authorities would never permit, were it up to them.
A memorial to Heather Heyer at the place where she was killed.
The street where Heather was killed was chalked full of messages to and about her.
“Who keeps us safe? We keep us safe.” Anti-fascist demonstrators in Charlottesville earlier on August 11.