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Anarchist Union Reverses Firings at Port of Barcelona Through Militant Strike

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 16:09

via IT'S GOING DOWN

by IWW International Solidarity Commission

Dockworkers and members of the CNT, a revolutionary anarchist union in Spain, have won a complete victory after just 1 day on strike, forcing the company to rehire 3 workers it had attempted to fire.

"THIS IS HOW SOMEONE GETTING FIRED ENDS in the @portdebarcelona. Picture for the history books. Strike committee and fired workers (REINSTATED today) walk out with signed agreement." @cnt1910 @PortuariosCNT https://t.co/rKiKmExs71

— ellisonfitz (@EllisonFitz) February 16, 2018

Causes of the Strike, Context

The CNT branch at the Port of Barcelona called for a 3-day strike beginning on February 15th in order to force the company to re-hire 3 of its members who had been fired for refusing to do work outside of their job description. After just 1 day on strike, they have forced the company to cave.

The company and the union had previously come to a preliminary agreement to reinstate these three workers, but during a meeting on February 12th, the company tore up the agreement without warning. The workers had warned the company that they would not back down, and they didn’t. The union immediately walked out and gave the green light to a 3-day strike, which was ratified by a workplace assembly the next day.

I love the smell of victory for the working class in the morning,@SouthernWobbly @_IWW"AGREEMENT SIGNED!! Strike hereby called off. When they opened a disciplinary investigation we warned them on the co's walls. 15 days later, and after 1 day on strike, we've won. REINSTATEMENT!" https://t.co/a9oa68kqlk

— ellisonfitz (@EllisonFitz) February 16, 2018

The strike gained strong support from many unions, social movements, and even a few political parties in Barcelona, and began with a strong show of support on Thursday morning. All it took was one day, and the company caved, with the union declaring complete victory.

Context in Spain

Spain’s labor law has deep roots in the Fascist regime of Francisco Franco. Compared to the US, workers have some more protections. However, strikes in Spain are only legal when called by a union, and the reformist unions in Spain are even more closely tied to the state than they are in the US, through funding and subsidies. They do everything they can to drown discontent through bureaucratic paperwork. Workers who strike without a union can be easily fired, a severe threat in a country with some of the highest unemployment in Europe.

The CNT, on the other hand, promotes strikes and direct action as tools of struggle, and also believes that struggles should be managed in workplace assemblies rather than by union bureaucrats. Since the economic crisis in 2008 ruptured Spain’s welfare state, the business unions have led workers into one defeat after another, while the CNT’s militant model has led to a long string of successes and growth alongside militant independent groups such as “Las Kellys,” a group for hotel cleaners who have successfully organized to resist attempts by the business unions to negotiate bad deals on their behalf.

Desde #Alicante #LasKellys de #Benidorm anunciaron que se suman al #10FYoVoyPor los compañeros de #Correos, por @ridersxderechos… Y por las mujeres, también #HaciaLaHuelgaFeminista!#10F #NoMasPrecariedad @nomasprecario #LeyKelly pic.twitter.com/xKG0izKX3u

— Las Kellys (@LAS_KELLYS) February 9, 2018

Role of the Dockworkers During the Catalan General Strike

The CNT branch at the port of Barcelona has an exemplary history of struggle, both within the workplace and in the broader society. They established themselves at the port through fierce and relentless struggle over workplace issues, and the latest threat from the company was in fact an attempt to get them to negotiate away an earlier victory.

They also played an outstanding role during the recent government repression in Catalonia and the anarchist-led General Strike which followed. When the government began trying to sneak police into the port through disguised cruise ships, the CNT dockworkers refused to dock the ship, and alerted the rest of Barcelona to the threat.

Un símbolo de la represión del Estado sale ahora por la bocana del @portdebarcelona . No dejemos que arraigue en nuestra tierra. Adelante trabajadores hosteleros!!!! pic.twitter.com/8Ty6xsxGKf

— Portuaris CNT (@PortuariosCNT) November 16, 2017

They continued to report on the militarization of the port, and agitate port workers to struggle against it. The government and employers certainly took note of this and may have been aiming to repress them.

When the anarchist and independent unions in Catalonia called for a general strike to protest against the repression, the workers at the port of Barcelona held an assembly and voted unanimously to join the strike. This may have been one of the workplaces where the strike had the biggest impact.

Els estibadors de BCN, reunits en assemblea, hem decidit per unanimitat secundar la vaga general del 3-O. Per la dignitat i els drets civils pic.twitter.com/zRptqBib91

— OEPB (@CoordinadoraBCN) October 2, 2017

Dare to Dream

Stan Weir, himself a dockworker from Oakland and a supporter of militant unionism on the Spanish waterfront, always said that firing should be thought of as “economic corporal punishment.” Firing is the ultimate power that an individual employer has. In many workplaces, there’s no recourse, when you’re fired, you’re gone – something we’ve all experienced. In a workplace with a business union, you might get an official to file a piece of paper, and months or years later, your case might get discussed by a bunch of officials sitting around a table, with no connection to the struggles at that workplace. What we need are unions that know how to keep their struggle at the point of production, run by the workers, and that aren’t afraid of using militant tactics to win.

The CNT branch at the port of Barcelona are a great case study of what the CNT is doing right by combining militant and resilient workplace organization with a commitment to broader working-class struggles against capitalism, and ultimately to libertarian communism. By doing this, they have been able to play an increasingly significant role in helping to unify and spread working-class struggles in Spain. Victories at individual workplaces, such as the port of Barcelona, can have a huge effect on the confidence of workers to engage in larger struggles, which can then give a sense of strength to the day-to-day organizing in workplaces and communities.

We’ll see the other side of this coin during the Feminist General Strike on March 8, which the CNT is working with autonomous feminist groups to organize across all of Spain. Crucially, because the CNT is a union, they are able to legalize the strike and protect anyone who will take part. There is significant mobilizing happening for this, and it could be a huge step in Spain and a great example for the rest of us.

Batera Gelditu – Elkarrekin Aurrera Egin
Paramos Xuntas – Xuntas Avanzamos
Paramos Juntas – Juntas Avanzamos
Parem Juntes – Juntes Avancem
Folga Xeral / Greba Orokor / Huelga General / Vaga General #FEMINISTA#8M #CuentaConCNT pic.twitter.com/Q3tt9sGkPx

— CNT oficial (@cnt1910) February 11, 2018

There is a lot we can learn in North America from combining this approach of day-to-day organizing in workplaces and communities with a commitment to anti-capitalism and broader working-class militancy. We have to show that we have a real strategy to win immediate gains and build power for bigger ones. The recent strike at Burgerville is a great example of where to begin.

Juntas paramos – juntas avanzamos!
Let’s shut it down together – let’s advance together!

Tags: cntunionsspaincategory: International
Categories: News

Review: The Anarchist Roots of Geography – Toward Spatial Emancipation

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 16:02

by John Clark, via Freedom News

by Simon Springer
ISBN: 978-0-816697-73-1
PP: 240
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
2016

Anyone who wants evidence that anarchist geography is alive and well today need only read this book. The author, Simon Springer, is one of the most active anarchist intellectuals today. In 2016, he authored two books and edited five, mostly on anarchist themes, and he has written numerous articles, some technical, but many deeply immersed in contemporary struggles.

His lively polemic, “Fuck Neoliberalism,” has over 50,000 hits on one website alone.

The book’s subtitle is a good indication of its purpose. It is committed to the project of liberation of humanity and nature, and to overcoming all forms of domination. With great passion and eloquence, Springer calls for a return to geography’s “radical roots” in anarchist concepts, in which it is a mode of social and political engagement. Through such a geography of autonomy and solidarity, we “configure a radical political imagination that is capable of demanding the impossible.”

Springer relates anarchism to contemporary themes such as biopolitics and rhizomatic theory, but also looks back to the classical anarchist thinkers, showing the enduring value of their critique of hierarchy and domination. He deserves particular recognition for carrying on the legacy of the great French 19th century anarchist social geographer and political philosopher Eliseé Reclus.

Springer is inspired by Reclus’ communitarian anarchist project of a universal geography—in effect, a geography of solidarity—which he compares to Buddhism and Daoism’s ideas of the interconnectedness of all things.

He also follows Reclus in linking the aesthetic and the ethical, proclaiming that “beautiful is something that we already are.” For Springer, utopia is not a distant ideal, but is already present here and now He echoes Reclus’ belief that “small loving and intelligent societies,” are crucial to profound social transformation, prefiguring the anarchist idea of the affinity group as basic to a free society.

Springer argues that “an ethic of non-violence” is at the core of anarchism. He observes that opposition to the state is based on the rejection of organized violence as the major organizing force within society, and that consistent anarchism will have “an unwavering commitment to nonviolence and the absolute condemnation of war.” He thus carries on the tradition of anarcho-pacifists who have found inspiration in the lives and ideas of great figures such as Tolstoy, Thoreau, and Dorothy Day.

Springer also applies the critique of domination to the issue of colonialism. He points out that the project of the centralized state implied from the beginning a process of colonial expansion (conquest) from a center of power.

Springer writes that “to be ‘postcolonial’ in any meaningful sense requires that one be ‘poststatise or ‘anarchic,’ and look to non-statist traditions for inspiration. We must follow the “least alienated” and “most oppressed” peoples, learning from the traditional wisdom and contemporary revolutionary practice of indigenous movements such as the Zapatistas, who have a deep historically- and experientially-based understanding of the destructiveness of capitalism and the centralized state.

Finally, Springer applies this critique to urbanism, which he sees as deeply infected with hierarchical ideology and bias toward centers of power and wealth as models of the urban. In an anarchist urbanism, “the values embedded in public space are those with which the demos endows it.”

Public space becomes the space of self-determination by the free community. Springer contrasts the “Disneyfied” space of neoliberal capitalism, “devoid of geographic specificity,” with such a non-dominated space of anarchic community.

Springer concludes with the hopeful thought that “places wild and free” still exist. In such places, new possibilities for realization of beauty, goodness, freedom, and creativity are always present, ready to emerge. We need “a politics of possibility,” based on living an awakened, engaged life in such places, so that we ourselves “become the horizon.”

Springer is optimistic about such a politics for two reasons. First, there is a long, rich history of realizing such creative possibilities, extending from tribal societies to the great revolutions and recent communal experiments. Second, such emergence of possibilities is inherent in the very structure of reality.

We live in a universe of freedom and creativity. We might even say that we are ourselves nature becoming free and self-creative.

This review first appeared in the fall issue of Fifth Estate. John Clark lives in New Orleans and on Bayou La Terre in the coastal forest of the Gulf of Mexico. He has long been active in the radical ecology and communitarian anarchist movements, and currently works with Bayou Bridge Pipeline resistance. He is director of La Terre Institute for Community and Ecology.

Tags: geographybook reviewcategory: Essays
Categories: News

TOTW: Legibility

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 14:46

One of the major problems that anarchists wrestle with is what James C. Scott terms “legibility” - that is, “the state's attempt..to arrange the population in ways that simplif[y] the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion”. For Scott, this attempt at simplification includes large-scale centrally planned projects like relocating peasants and developing the streets of Paris to prevent rioting as well as standardized measurements and the encouragement of crop systems that lend themselves more easily to being taxed. Through force, the state acts to shape society into something simpler and thus more easily catalogued and controlled. His argument follows that illegibility has acted in history as a barrier to state projects - crops that can be concealed in the ground and harvested irregularly, streets that aren’t easily mappable, and the lack of written records all impede state attempts at control.

Anarchists attempts at illegibility have taken a variety of forms - practices which are usually called security culture that counter the state’s attempt at preventing rebellion, disconnecting from platforms like Facebook and Google products which render us and our relationships more visible and mappable, resistance to identity politics which make people more easily classifiable by the state and capital, temporary, off-the-books projects, and more. Yet it’s also the case that most of us live in a context in which were have been made far more legible than any other point in history, mapped through social security numbers, social media posts and consumption habits.

Is legibility a concern to you? How do you see it being resisted, effectively and ineffectively? Is it even avoidable, and to what extent?

Tags: totwtopic of the weeklegibilitySecurity Cultureidentitytechnologycategory: Other
Categories: News

Anews Podcast – episode 51

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 16:35

https://podcast.anarchistnews.org/index.php/2018/02/18/anews-podcast-epi...

Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 51 for February 16, 2018. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.
Editorial: news, fake news, and silos
TOTW: Anarchist By Any Other Name

This podcast is the effort of many people. This episode was
* sound edited by Linn O'Mable
* editorial by chisel
* written by jackie
* narrated by chisel and a friend
* Thanks to Aragorn! and Ariel for their help with the topic of the week
* Contact us at podcast@anarchistnews.org

To learn more
Introduction to anarchism: http://anarchy101.org
Books and other anarchist material: http://littleblackcart.com
News and up to the minute commentary: https://anarchistnews.org

Tags: podcastanarchist not anarchistmedianewssilossegregationinformation ghettoscategory: Projects
Categories: News

Black and Green Podcast: Episode 2

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 15:21

From Black and Green Podcast

Episode 2: Feb 15, 2018.

Some thoughts on mass shootings and violence, the importance of community and conflict resolution. Anti-missionary intermission, fucking with missionaries. Why I hate philosophy rant and thoughts on "anti-academic" posturing.

Click here to listen or download: https://archive.org/details/BAGPodcast21518

***
Ask and ye' shall receive.

A number of things about the format and podcast in general to work out. Even the name may be subject to change, but a Black & Green Podcast has been consistently requested for years, now we're doing it. Hosted by Kevin Tucker.

The podcast covers Black & Green publications, affairs, and more, will delve into all things anti-civilization and co-exist with current, past, and future B&G projects. If you have questions, comments, or topics you'd like to see covered or responded to, please use the form below or email to blackandgreenpress at gmail.

Tags: Black and Green Reviewktkevin tuckerpodcastcategory: Projects
Categories: News

[A-Radio in English] The Chaos Communication Congress 2017 in Germany – an anarchist perspective

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 14:46

From Anarchist Radio Berlin

In the Bad News show 08 (01/2018) we realeased a short story about the last Chaos Communication Congress (from December 2017) in Leipzig, Germany, that included pieces of interviews taken there. Now we are publishing the full interviews to give you some idea of what the Congress can be.

Length: 21:15 min

You can download the audio at: archive.org (mp3 | ogg).

Here you can listen to it directly:

The video mentioned in the audio: „Technology and Politics in Congress Talks, from 1984 to now“ by maxigas and mel.

Music:
* Something Elated by Broke For Free
* Invade (Medly) by FulcusHD

p:eq(1)'); if ( responsive && scndprg.next('p,h4,blockquote').length ) { scndprg.after( $('.advert') ); $('.advert').addClass('after-2nd-paragraph'); } if (mobile) { $('.advert').html('Anzeige'); (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({ params: { google_ad_channel: '5666256636' } }); } else googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-googlead'); }); //--> Tags: podcastARadio Berlingermanycategory: Projects
Categories: News

Crossword #39: Renzo Novatore

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 13:58

This weeks crossword puzzle is on Renzo Novatore.

Download it here: https://anarchistnews.org/crossword/crossword39.pdf

***

From LBC about the book:

For those anarchistnews fans who miss Worker's acerbic and insightful bon mots on modern-day anarchy and anarchists, here is a fix (however temporary) for you.

Fifty crossword puzzles of occasionally ludicrous difficulty (there are scattered puff questions throughout also, for those of you, like me, who are terrible at these kind of games) are featured for your education and amusement.

Anarchistnews.org is the most popular, utilized, and non-sectarian news source pertaining to anarchists in North America. Its open commenting system continues to be one of the few spaces in which anarchists, nationally and internationally, converse about topics of the day, challenge each other, and critically engage with a wide variety of issues and events.

Worker retired from running the site after eleven years... Since then they have reflected on their time in the daily trenches of running the site, and this book is the result. These crossword puzzles speak to the years of comment threads, the ridiculousness and wonderfulness of the anarchist space in North America, and finally the absurdity of working with cantankerous, stubborn, and self-righteous people by way of essay or manifesto.

These puzzles should probably be done by a reading group or a group of friends. They are supposed to make you think, laugh, and perhaps smack your head. A more perfect metaphor for North American anarchism cannot be found.

https://littleblackcart.com/books/culture/workers-book-of-50-sectarian-c...

***

[ Here are the solutions! Don’t peek!: http://ardentpress.com/crosswords/ ]

Tags: beautiful crossmess parzelthis sitepdfrenzo novatorecategory: Projects
Categories: News

Mexico: Idealized Nature: On Absolutism and Misanthropy

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 02:42

From IGD

There is an ever-spreading idealistic, romantic, and superfluous tendency regarding the existence of a pristine, virgin, and idyllic nature that has never been touched by human beings and that must be preserved without having any contact with our species. There are many, many problems and shallow reflections regarding this stance about a pristine and virgin nature.

First of all, we must be aware of the context in which we are currently living: in the Anthropocene, an era in which the industrial human being has caused the greatest changes of the past 300 years. “Climate change has disrupted all ecosystems in the world.” That is to say, the industrial human being, by contaminating the water, earth, and air, has negatively disrupted all the planet’s biomes, that is, there is no pristine, untouched nature left in the entire world. All ecosystems have been touched by climate change.

Now, another issue originating from this Christian idealization and myopic romanticization of virgin nature is the belief that the human being in general, our species in its essence, is inherently ecocidal and destructive of nature, which is entirely false and erroneous.

The world with all its beautiful biodiversity is being destroyed not by the human being itself, but by a defined, identifiable and sick manifestation of humanity. That is, the destruction of life and ecosystems is due to the type of industrialized and modern human being that has existed for around 300 years, since the historical emergence of capitalism and modern industrial globalization.

Another conclusion can be drawn from the above: in the global techno-industrial society, not all industrialized human beings participate with equal importance and impact in the devastation of what the West calls nature. For example, an indigenous construction worker who migrated to the big city doesn’t do the same damage to the biosphere as a modern soldier, nor does a baker in a middle-class neighborhood do the same damage as a Monsanto biotechnologist.

The large military and industrial corporations – with their executives, politicians, scientists and generals (be they capitalists or not) – are the ones killing people and ecosystems across the planet, not the human being itself. The ones responsible are those humans who have been sickened by dominating Otherness, those who rejuvenate, create, execute, and organize the imprisoning projects of society.

Humanity is neither good nor bad: it is vital! And this is as a result of its own evolution. But it happened that 5,000 years ago it created civilization – it chose to live in cities – and that was when everything started to go from bad to worse. Yet nothing that previous civilizations have done is comparable to the magnitude, speed, and destructive intensity of industrial civilization’s impact on the planet. Humanity as such – homo sapiens – have been around for something like two million years, meaning that for only approximately 0.1% of its existence has it been negatively disturbing ecosystems.

This 0.1% of sick human existence can only be attributed to the industrializers of the planet, not to the tribes, indigenous peoples, and pastoral and peasant societies that continue to lead their vernacular lives according to the planet’s seasons and cycles of bioregulation. Humanity – again – is not the enemy of that which we call nature, but a certain project – undertaken by certain humans during a specific stage of development – is that which is devastating the planet. Those fatalistic ideas derived from misanthropy and idealism about nature and the environment are merely superficial statements that ignore the “primitive history of humanity” and its recent history. Vague ideas, lacking in depth about evolutionary, geopolitical, and economic processes, deduce that humanity itself is antagonistic to ecosystems, “instead of precisely pointing out those truly responsible for the ever-expanding personal, environmental, and social devastation of the planet.”

How does one fight against industrial development if one doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge of the enemy? How does one defeat the ecocidal and imprisoning project of society with defeatist and victimized positions, positions without vitality, such as nihilism and pessimism? Positions like these reflect resignation and a lack of responsibility for the world that surrounds them. Positions such as misanthropy reproduce the values of the system that they supposedly want to destroy: hatred, rancor, selfishness, and competition, the values that strangely enough sustain the project of capitalist society. Misanthropy plays into the hands of those who dominate society, torture animals, and destroy ecosystems.

Now, aside from there being fatal errors in the abovementioned positions, another problem needs to be pointed out regarding the very concept of Nature. That being that nature as a word is term/concept of civilized origin. It is a term/concept that conceals the false separation between the human being and all other living species. To begin with, the concept of nature does not exist in many human cultures around the world. Something like 99.99% of human tribes and peoples that the West calls indigenous did not originally use this term to refer, for example, to rivers or forests. That is why it is preferable to describe ecosystems by the rivers, forests, animals, fungi, etc., that comprise them rather than with the simple and plain word Nature.

Nature as a concept and as oppositional to culture, that is, as a sphere of life separate from the human, arose about 3,000 years ago with Greek culture. As we see, the concept of nature is a well-defined and historically situated invention from a kind of human being that alienated itself from ecosystems so that it might live in cities, that is, to live in civilization. “Indigenous tribes and peoples do not participate equally in impacting the biosphere: before the European colonial conquest, many vernacular peoples, far from diminishing biodiversity, increased it…and continue to do so today.” For example, with the diversification of domesticated plants.

Given the above, we can draw at least two conclusions: that the human species itself is not an immanent destroyer of that which we call nature; and, that not all human beings (civilized or not) participate in the destruction of the biosphere. Of those who directly participate in the ecocide – a small percentage that can be pinpointed accurately – not all do so in the same way or to the same degree. It is absurd to point to all of humanity as the enemy of nature.

Another conclusion to be drawn from this is that the term Nature is a false concept that encourages biocide against ourselves as well as the rest of the biosphere. And even more harmful is this idea of a nature that has not been touched and remains pristine.

This idea of virgin nature is the result of an idealized and Christian vision that arose – curiously – from the disdain for life itself. The search for a terrestrial or metaphysical paradise beyond the plane that one is a part of is the effect of a sick and resigned body looking for solutions outside of its reality, that is, creating idealized and romantic worlds that supposedly contain all the solutions to its problems.

The supposed love for pristine nature that certain activists have conceals nothing more than a contempt for themselves and the world around them: the pristine, the pure, the absolute are symptoms of a body consumed by sadness.

Paradise, be it wild or celestial, is practically identical to the communist idea of a socialist paradise or the Nazi idea of a state of human racial purity. Idealistic romanticism confuses causes with effects, creating systems of true confusion and self-deception that lead to nothing more than the repetition of the same mistakes which have been used to justify a thousand and one atrocities.

However, we must keep in mind that in the Mesoamerican context (from Mexico to Panama) nearly all ecosystems have been intervened upon for millennia – in a responsible and knowledgeable way – by the indigenous peoples of America. The long tradition of the diverse use of plants and landscapes in Mesoamerica proves that agriculture is not the origin of evil. Bio-archeological evidence as well as current ethnobotanical research in indigenous territories show this. We repeat that agriculture is not the origin of evil: Private property of the land is.

What today may seem like a “virgin” mountain or valley was perhaps 100 or 50 years ago an agro-ecosystem where people used and cultivated various vegetable species. With the passage of time, this human-impacted vegetation was diluted among the wild vegetation. Now, that anthropogenic vegetation appears in the midst of a landscape that is supposedly pristine, yet in reality the human being has contributed to the configuration of this apparently virgin, “natural” landscape.

Another example are the forest agro-ecosystems, such as coffee groves, that at first glance could appear to be pristine ecosystems without the direct involvement of humans, but which in reality are mutual and symbiotic creations alongside the rest of nature. There are many examples of this. We recommend a critical reading of the book The Importance of Biocultural Memory: The Ecological Importance of Ancestral Wisdom (La importancia de la memoria biocultural: la importancia ecológica de las sabidurías ancestrales) by Víctor M. Toledo and Narciso B. Bassols, to learn more about the human relationship with the biosphere and agro-ecosystems (anthropogenic nature).

Be it based in history, philosophy, anthropology, ecology, or one’s own experience with non-industrialized societies, the idea of nature itself is rather dubious. And the idea of a virgin, pristine nature that remains untouched by our species is totally ridiculous. Beyond that, it reflects narrowmindedness, conceals ideas which justify the domination, exploitation, and destruction of that which we call nature, giving way to fundamentalist and eco-totalitarian ideas, beliefs, and actions that the eco-bourgeoisie don’t hesitate to adopt as their own doctrine. They believe they are unique and special for “defending” a paradise that is nothing more than the unfinished result of their desire to dominate.

WE ARE NOT DEFENDERS OF NATURE! WE ARE NATURE DEFENDING ITSELF!

From some beautiful forest

By Anonymous Texts

Mexico, the beginning of February 2018

Tags: IGDITSvaguesocietygreencategory: Essays
Categories: News

Update on the Hamilton Ontario Anarchist Bookfair (March 3-4)

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 21:07

The Hamilton Anarchist Bookfair is taking place March 3-4 and aims to be a space for convergence and discussion among anarchists and anti-authoritarians from across Southern Ontario. Our hope with this weekend is to contribute to rebuilding a sense of regional cohesion among various anarchist tendencies, to meet each other, share information about our contexts and projects, and find ways to work together to push back the smothering blanket of Canadian progressive democracy to lay bare the antagonisms that contained in capitalism and the state here and everywhere.

We just published the final list of workshop descriptions and tablers and thought we'd take a minute to summarize a bit of what to expect at the bookfair. We got a lot of workshop submissions, and our hope in choosing the ones we did was to highlight the various approaches to the struggle against systems of domination in the region, in order to both emphasize what we have in common and to create productive spaces for engaging with differences.

Saturday morning, we start with "Food Sovereignty on Stolen Land" about building practical, land-based autonomy in Indigenous communities, and "Taking over your workplace" engaging with various approaches to starting to get your workplace organized. The intro to anarchy workshop, "Against Politicians, Even the Nice Ones" focuses on what distinguishes anarchism from various forms of socialism or progressivism, namely our opposition to the state and to political representation. At the same time "Not Your Founding Fathers’ Anarchism" presents a narrative of anarchist history that emphasizes the participation of women. We'll close the day with back-to-back workshops about prison resistance, starting with "Anti-Prison Struggle in Ontario and Quebec" and followed by "Working in Solidarity with prisoners", sharing practical ideas for how to show solidarity to incarcerated people in struggle. At the same time as these, "Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism" presents an idea of anarchist struggle based in solidarity and that rejects the recuperation of the institutional left, and the North American launch of the English translation of the book "Revolution without delay", a biography of anarchist Maria Nikiforove and her participation in the Russian revolution.

On Sunday, we'll be running three simultaneous streams, starting with a look at organizing in small, rural towns, anti-capitalist Mapuche struggle in so-called Chile, and a conversation with IWW Montreal about revolution and anti-fascism. Afterwards, "Fight or Flight: Anarchist [Dis]Engagement with the Left" takes aim at the post-left's rejection of organizing, "Imminent collapse: accelerations and preparations" explores experiences of land defense across North America and Europe as a response to ecological catastrophe, and "Anarchism in India" will trace the role of anarchists from the Indian independence movement to to the present day. Finally, we're excited to host "Stories from the Syrian Revolution", where a comrade from Damascus will describe various liberatory practices from the first years of the Syrian uprising. At the same time, "Anarchism and Tenant Organizing" with the Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network offers practical advice for how to organize against landlords and "Gentrification, LGBTQ2S1+ Communities and Modes of Resistance".

For the full descriptions and the detailed workshop schedule: http://www.steelcitybookfair.ca/workshops-presentations/2018-presentations/

We'll also have over thirty tablers present, representing a huge range of publishers, distros, and local projects. They range from the big publishers like AK & PM presses and Kersplebedeb, to distro projects like The Tower InPrint, Black Banner Distro, underHILL, and Semo Distro, and to various infoshops, like Diggers from Prince Edward County and Blue Heron from Kingston.

For a full list of tablers and descriptions: http://www.steelcitybookfair.ca/tables/2018-tablers/

Bookfairs have a long history as anarchist gathering spaces it's been over two years since we last had one in Southern Ontario. We share this text in hopes that people in the region will talk about it with their comrades and help spread the word, and also to make our activity and reflections in this area visible to the wider anarchist space.

Tags: bookfairhamiltonOntariocategory: Projects
Categories: News

Fire and Fury in the Time of Trump

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 16:38

From Anarkismo by Wayne Price

An Anarchist Review of Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff is a popular book about Trump and his administration. It may be popular because it focuses on Trump's bizarre personal peculiarities rather than the political context and the forces which led to Trump's presidency.

If not the best book on the crazed Trump administration, this is certainly the most popular. Perhaps because it focuses on Donald Trump’s personal peculiarities rather than the political context, it has become a top best seller. It has been criticized because the author, Michael Wolff, says that he sometimes listened to contradictory reports of various events, given by the unreliable members of the administration, and then used his own judgment in integrating these reports into unified accounts. While this may lead us to wonder how accurate his reportage of specific White House events may be, there is no doubt that his overall account is accurate. It fits very well with what we have seen of Trump and his agents as they have acted out in public, in front of cameras and newspaper reporters.

Through his own observations of the president, and through the reports of Trump’s allies, supporters, family members, and minions, Wolff draws a picture of his behavior and personality. Trump is thin-skinned and easily hurt by criticism, desiring always to be liked and admired, yet insensitive to others’ feelings, desires, and needs. He is impulsive, and easily aroused to anger. He is highly distractible, unable to concentrate for extended periods, and readily bored. He has a need to constantly be winning. Women are seen by him as merely sex objects or as aides to his work if they are sufficiently obsequious—but then he sees everyone as objects, useful to him or not.

Trump knows very little and is generally incurious, including about what he should know to manage the presidency. He lies constantly, not necessarily for specific purposes but just for the sake of it. However, he may not know when he is lying, since he lives in a fantasy world of his own making, an alternate reality which is immune to facts. Most of those around him regard him as stupid (although it is hard to say if this is due to limited intelligence or to a personality-based unwillingness to think—or both). “Trump didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim…Some believed that …he was no more than semiliterate….Some thought him dyslexic….He didn’t listen. He preferred to be the person talking.” (113-4) He develops his views mostly through watching right wing television.

“Rupert Murdoch [was]…certain Trump was a charlatan and a fool.” (19) “The people who knew him best” regarded him as “careless, capricious, disloyal, far beyond any sort of control.” (223) “…Senior staff believed the president had a problem with reality….” (242) Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, called Trump “a fucking moron.” The Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin regarded him as an “idiot.” H.R. McMaster called him a “dope.” (304) All the senior staff belittled Trump’s intelligence, openly or quietly. “Everyone…struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn’t know, did not particularly care, and, to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes.” (304) “…Staffers [were] concerned that his ability to stay focused, never great, had notably declined….” (309)

These observable traits have led some mental health professionals—and other people who could pick up a psychiatric manual—to diagnose Trump with various personality disorders, even though they have not personally examined him. I am not going to do that, precisely because I am a licensed psychologist (although I would love to see his responses to the Rorschach Inkblots). His publicly observed behavior is terrible enough for us to say that he should not be in office. Trump has responded to these reports by asserting that he is really “a stable genius.”

Wolff focuses almost entirely on these personal traits of Trump and of those around him. These others are also more or less batty in behavior, the administration being full of crackpots, clowns, ignoramuses, right-wing ideologues, and other strange people. “Few in the thin ranks of Trump’s inner circle….had almost any relevant experience. Nobody had a political background. Nobody had a policy background.” (25) They pride themselves on being saner and smarter than Trump but cannot keep him from engaging in bizarre and self-destructive behavior.

Besides personal behavior, Wolff looks at the court tensions among Trump courtiers. He observed three main factions: (1) family members, mainly son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, whom he peculiarly describes as New York “liberal Democrats”; (2) establishment Republicans, who were then represented by Reince Priebus, now fired.The pressure continues from the Republicans who lead in the House and Senate; (3) Steve Bannon, reflecting the extreme nationalist, nativist, right-wing. Bannon has also been let go, and since this book came out (with Bannon’s criticisms of Trump and his family members), has lost much of his influence—at least for now. But others carry the torch, such as Steven Miller, encouraging Trump to stick to his worst anti-immigrant policies. There is also the on-going influence of the ultra-right Mercers, father and daughter, who are described as among the “difficult, even sociopathic, rich people” pushing their agenda on Trump and his entourage. (177)

Beyond this, there is little consideration of politics or of the political context. These only come up in relation to the personal quirks or cliquish conflicts in the White House. For example, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the international climate treaty is discussed as a victory for Bannon and a defeat for Ivanka, rather than as an attack on the global climate. Trump’s continuation of the war in Afghanistan is considered in relation to his reluctance to make decisions as well as the differences between the generals’ desire to expand the war versus Bannon’s isolationist desire to withdraw.

Wolff downplays the issue of Russian collusion, looking more at Trump’s inept reactions. He speculates that Trump’s resistance to the investigation has mostly to do with the fear that it would uncover various illegal financial shenanigans by the family businesses (which may certainly be one aspect of Trump’s reaction). Trump has “come out of the real estate business; …based on substantial debt…it often…is a preferred exchange currency for problem cash—money laundering.” (17) “…If the unraveling began [it] would likely lead to the messy Trump (and Kushner) business dealings.” (102)

However, Wolff does describe the now-notorious meeting of Trump’s people with Russian agents as “one of the most preposterous meetings in modern politics” (253) and an “imbecilic meeting.” (254) He quotes Bannon as regarding the meeting as “treasonous or unpatriotic.” (255) Wolff expresses certainty that Donald Jr. would have told his father about it.

Much of what Wolff describes, while not completely new, is still fascinating. However, it is weak as a guide to understanding the political situation. While Wolff may be some sort of liberal, there is nothing in the book that a “Never Trump” Republican would disagree with. Wolff repeatedly describes the mainstream media as the “liberal media.” He accepts the right-wing view that most of the newspapers and television news programs are “liberal,” left versions of Fox News and right-wing radio talk shows. Actually, if we compare the views of really liberal journals (The Nation, Mother Jones, etc.) with most of the press and TV news, the mainstream comes off at least right-center. (The exception is the mildly liberal evening MSNBC shows of Rachel Maddow and others.) Noam Chomsky has demonstrated the pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist, bias of the media, and this has not changed. However, Trump is so bizarre in his behavior and so far to the right that the media cannot report on him without appearing hostile. As has been said, “Reality has a left bias.”

Trumpism is Republicanism

Much of President Trump’s politics and behavior is idiosyncratic, unique to him. His constant lying, bragging, misstatements, and other peculiarities, would not have appeared if other Republicans had been elected president—such as Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, or even Mike Pence His reluctance to criticize Nazis is not a typical Republican attitude. (The U.S. ruling class is not ready for fascism.) The whole Russian imbroglio would not have appeared with any other politician. There are sections of the U.S. capitalist class which are for better relations with Russia (represented by Tillerson, the former head of Exxon). But even these would not have been so in denial about the Russian interference in the U.S. election. Also most of the U.S. capitalist class favors more “free trade” agreements with other countries and a more flexible immigration policy; they want to benefit from cheap labor. On these points they (and their hired politicians) have been in disagreement with Donald Trump.

Yet in many ways, Trumpism is a symptom of the reaction by Republicans and Democrats to deep problems in U.S. and world society. These have caused a drastic turn to the right, to attacks on the working class. There is economic stagnation, increased inequality, and pressures on real profits (as opposed to financial speculation and overvaluation of stocks and bonds).

Basically, Trumpism is an extension of modern Republicanism. The Republican party is the cutting edge of the attack on the working class and the environment. This was pretty clear when virtually all the Republican politicians supported the unpopular Trump tax cut for the very rich. It is also apparent when almost all the Republican Representatives and Senators have doubled down on defending Trump against the Department of Justice investigation. They are attacking the investigators and trying to distract the public.

Big capitalists had not supported Trump in the election and had preferred Clinton. But with his election, there “was a surprising and sudden business and Wall Street affinity for Trump….An anti-regulatory White House and the promise of tax reform outweighed the prospect of disruptive tweeting and other forms of Trump chaos….” (87) (Note that Wolff uses the pro-business term, “tax reform,” instead of the accurate “big tax cuts for the rich.”)

Some sections of Trump’s popular base have become disillusioned with him, but polls have shown that the rank-and-file of the Republican Party overwhelmingly still supports Trump. (For the general public, he is the most unpopular first year president in the history of polling.) The Republicans have lied to a section of the population (white middle class and upper working class, especially males, in the suburbs and rural areas). These people have responded to real grievances of growing poverty and inequality, de-industrialization, loss of jobs, de-unionization, and rural stagnation—but mostly responded with false and misleading politics, being called on to blame African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, environmentalists, feminists, and the “liberal elite.” The Republicans have whipped these people up to a nihilistic frenzy of despair. Then the Republican leadership was surprised when this hyped-up mass did not follow their lead but instead voted (in the primaries and in the general election) for the most unqualified person available, since he said what they believed. However, many other Trump voters were not attracted to his overt racism and nativism, but rather voted for him for change and because of a dislike of the Democratic candidate. But even these did not object to Trump’s racism, not enough to reject voting for him.

While the modern Republican Party, as well as Trump himself, leans far to the right, neither it nor he are fascist. Neither Trump nor the party leaders will ban all other political parties, shut down the newspapers, cancel elections, or declare Trump president-for-life. If the system seems increasingly repressive, well, that is what we have in the limited democracy of capitalism. Yet Trump has opened the door for the real fascists, given them a bit of respectability. After the Charlottesville march of Nazis and Klanspeople, “the president’s sympathies were muddled. However easy and obvious it was to condemn white racists…he instinctively resisted…and he continued to be stubborn about not doing it.” (293-4)

The “Lesser Evil” Democrats

If the Republicans were Trump’s “enablers,” as Paul Krugman has suggested, then the Democrats were the enablers of the enablers. After eight years of Barrack Obama’s presidency, there was more inequality than ever and continuing de-industrialization throughout much of the nation. This was even though the economy was in a long, slow, and shallow “recovery” from the Great Recession—which continues now, and will continue until the next crash. A not-very-good health plan was passed. More immigrants were deported than ever before. Climate catastrophe was recognized in words but an ineffectual minimum was done about it. Wars were continued and expanded abroad.

The two-party system encourages a certain type of amoral maneuverer, for whom political programs are not goals to be achieved so much as means to personal success. “A close Trump friend who was also a good Bill Clinton friend found them eerily similar—except that Clinton had a respectable front and Trump did not.” (23)

The Democrats ran the most business-as-usual figure they had, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She and her husband Bill had gotten rich in their years of “public service.” She was paid big bucks for speaking at gatherings of the biggest capitalists. She was known as the most hawkish member of the Obama administration. (There were also bad reasons for disliking her, including sheer misogyny, and the way a mountain was made out of a molehill over her emails.) The only reasons for voting for her came down to breaking the gendered presidential glass ceiling and that she was not Trump. These were reasons enough for her to win a thin majority of the popular vote, but then to loose in the archaic Electoral College.

For years the Democrats had been deliberately turning their backs on the unions and the working class in favor of appealing to the professional-managerial middle and upper classes. Thomas Frank had warned that this would have electoral and political costs (Price 2016a). In the event, many white workers and their families who had voted for Obama, now voted for Trump. Many others stayed home. (A little less than half of eligible voters did not vote.) Meanwhile large sections of African-Americans were disaffected; they would not vote for Trump but, again, many who had voted for Obama also stayed home. Latinos knew that Trump was viciously against them, but they also knew that “the Obama administration had been quite aggressive in deporting illegal aliens.” (63) Many Latinos also sat this one out.

For years the liberals had been opposing the greater political evil by supporting the lesser evil. Sometimes they won and sometimes they lost, but overall the greater evil got more and more evil, and so did the lesser evil. That is, the Republican Party became completely committed to far-right ideology, while the Democratic Party moved to where the “moderate Republicans” used to be. (For example, for a health care program they did not advocate the liberal “single-payer” approach but adopted the program developed by Mitt Romney when he was Massachusetts governor.) In brief, the politics of “lesser evilism” has not worked.

The liberal Warren-Sanders wing of the Democrats has no power. It serves as a shill to bring young people, labor, progressives, African-Americans, feminists, environmentalists, etc., into a party really ruled by corporate politicians such as the Clintons. Liberal Democrats and the MSNBC talking heads like to focus on the issue of Trump’s ties to Russia and his efforts to cover them up. While this is a real issue, it also has the effect of distracting from such U.S. matters as inequality, climate change, or the danger of nuclear war. It makes the Democrats look patriotic and proudly chauvinistic. It lets the liberals wallow in patriotic hypocrisy. The imperialist U.S. state intervened in 81 national elections and supported about 36 attempted military coups, from 1946 to 2000. (McCoy 2017) Who is the U.S. to denounce foreign intervention in elections?

The Republicans can fire up their middle class base. While these people may get out of hand and elect a Trump, they do not threaten the system. But the Democrats never could fire up their historic base of workers and People of Color. The demands of the working class and the oppressed for better standards of living and more public services immediately threaten the profits of the corporate rich. Brought to an extreme, their demands threaten the very basis of capitalism. This is why liberals constantly complain that the Democrats do not stand up to the conservative Republicans, and why the Democrats were so willing to turn away from the working class, the poor, and People of Color, in favor of the professional middle class.

According to Wolff, Trump and his campaigners never expected to get elected; he expected to improve his “brand” while he prepared to claim that he had been cheated. With the election of this accidental president here has been a major increase in popular struggles and movements. (Price 2016b) This includes forming thousands of local anti-Trump clubs, enormous mass demonstrations, and local demonstrations at “town hall” meetings and at airports. At this time, most of the movement has been channeled into electoral activities, electing more Democrats, especially women. Probably this was inevitable for now, but it is a dead end. There needs to be a radical, libertarian-socialist, wing of the anti-Trump movement, which rejects the Democrats in favor of independent, mass, direct action.

Many liberals and Democrats look forward to when Trump is gone (through losing the next presidential election or even being impeached). They think that the evil days will be gone and things will return to “normal.” It is true that the peculiarities of Trump’s behavior will be over. But the crazy right-wing politics of the Republicans will continue. The wishy-washy but pro-corporate capitalist politics of the Democrats will continue. And the underlying economic decay and stagnation and ecological catastrophe will continue. The system will escalate its attacks on the working class and the environment, and, through wars, on people around the world. No part of the political or economic system can be relied on; as with the weather under conditions of global warming, there is a “new normal.” Those of us who believe in ecological sanity, freedom, mutual aid, and radical democracy had better do all we can to build a popular movement for these goals.

References

McCoy, Alfred W. (2017). In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power. Haymarket.

Price, Wayne (2016a). “Party of Which People? Review of Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal.” http://www.anarkismo.net/article/29505?search_text=Wayn...Price

Price, Wayne (2016b). “Not My President! The New Resistance.”
https://www.anarkismo.net/article/29862?search_text=Way...Price

Wolff, Michael (2018). Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. NY: Henry Holt.

*written for www.Anarkismo.net

Tags: reviewAnarkismowayne pricedrumpfcategory: Essays
Categories: News

B&G Podcast 1: 2-14-18

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 14:41

From Black and Green Review

You've been asking, now here it is. First introductory episode of the new B&G podcast is up at archive.org

You can listen and/or download it by clicking here.

There's a page for the Podcast in the top bar navigation with more info and contact form to submit questions, comments or whatever else for future episodes. Consider this a work in progress.

Episode one is an overview of Kevin Tucker's incoming new book, Gathered Remains. A walk through of the new Black and Green Review no 5. And some discussion of upcoming projects.

Tags: ktanarcho-primitivismbagrcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Stolen Comrades: Inzaurralde, Scotto, Nell and the Unluckiest Couple In the World

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:18

(As reconstructed from the files of the Archives of Terror, with the assistance of Anna Recalde Miranda and Rosa Palau)

Arrest--29 March 1977—(a scenario)
Late night, a quiet room in a small monthly hotel located in a southern barrio of Asunción, Paraguay. Three anarchists sit and talk, perhaps discussing the news from Argentina or from Uruguay. The door explodes in flying debris, wood and metal. National Police in helmets throw the comrades to the floor, screaming in Spanish they search the room and then throw the men into the red Chevy wagon out front, the dread Little Red Riding Hood, the vehicle whose sole purpose is to bring living human beings to hell.

Down the hall, another room. An Argentine couple, very young and very much in love listen as the horrible situation unfolds. They hold each other, they fear. Then comes the knock at their door. The scene is repeated, only this time, the terror belongs to them.

Inzuarralde—Anarchist Fighter
The story begins with Gustavo Edison Inzuarralde (born 4 August 1942 at Minas, Uruguay) who was by any measure a hard core militant, anarchist, guerrilla, and now, martyr. By 1964 at the age of 22 he had joined the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU) and had formed an action cell named “Martín.” Three years later (11 November, 1967) he was arrested for carrying a pistol and a machine gun on the streets of Montevideo, though he was released after only a ten days in jail. On September 24, 1970 he was again arrested for a failed robbery in Carrasco, Uruguay and subsequently charged with the crime of forming a criminal association. He spent the next several months in prison, but was liberated and exiled under a Uruguayan law designed to pass subversive elements on to other countries. He was flown, by the Uruguayan authorities, to Chile where Allende’s socialist experiment was in full swing—and where an anarchist might at least be safe, if not wholly welcome.

Inzuarralde flourished in Chile, his training in adult education led to work designing programs for campesinos to learn to read, write and think critically. He was also employed at a factory that made pre-fabricated homes. Clearly, though, his mind and attention were never fully diverted from Uruguay. Some time in late 1973 or early 1974 Inzuarralde leaves Chile (prior to the Pinochet coup), possibly reading the political situation correctly, and settles legally in Argentina. In Argentina he reconnects with the Uruguayan anarchist community in exile and they begin to make plans.

July 1975—The Uruguayan Anarchist Movement
Buenos Aires, various anarchist and libertarian Uruguayan sections form the Partido por la Victoria del Pueblo (PVP). The party was meant to consolidate and extend anarcho-syndicalist ideas through the Uruguayan left, and with a view to turning the Tupumaros into a more libertarian resistance. Simultaneously the PVP formed an armed guerrilla movement known as the OPR-33 which set about to raise funds and secure arms. In addition to being a founder of the PVP, Inzuarralde was known to be in the command formation of the OPR-33. Inzuarralde also participated in the Worker Student Resistance (ROE), yet another group allied with both PVP and OPR-33.

Yet, just as the Uruguayans are pulling their shit together, Argentina was moving further and further towards the abyss of a coup. By March 1976 Isabel Peron and the right-wing peronistas could no longer keep the country from pulling itself apart and Videla and the generals stepped in to destroy the burgeoning revolution, including any radical foreign elements. Within 18 months of the founding of the PVP most of its leaders, activists and guerrillas were imprisoned, dead, or disappeared. In late 1976, and early 1977 plans were made to move any remaining PVP militants to Europe, preferably the safety of Switzerland, to sit out the growing repression and wait for better political weather.

As part of this process, an OPR-33 quartermaster named Jose Nell, a 67-year-old Argentine with a long history of working with left-wing peronistas, communists and others, had been crossing back and forth between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay—securing false documents and arranging travel. The general scenario was that militants would enter Paraguay from Brazil through Ciudad del Este. In Asunción false passports would be secured, the militants would then re-enter Brazil, travel to Rio de Janeiro and fly to Europe. Nell passes repeatedly back and forth between Buenos Aires and Asunción during January and February of 1977 and helps at least two or three anarchists get to the safety of Europe. The passage, it seems, is secure.

Spring 1977 Paraguay--Detention
So on 20 March, 1977 Inzuarralde passes through Ciudad del Este on a false document and makes his way to Asunción and the small hotel that Nell has been operating out of. In addition, another guerrilla, Nelson Rodolfo Santana Scotto, a 27-year-old Uruguayan, passes through customs at Puerto Falcon on March 21, 1977 on his way to the same destination. Scotto, during his subsequent interrogation in Asunción, admits to being a trainer with OPR-33, his expertise includes military science, making explosive and incendiary devices, and bank robbery. Meeting Nell in Asunción must have been bittersweet for the two anarchists, so many militants dead or disappeared, so much work left to do, and danger so close.

The last piece of this puzzle is a young Argentine couple, Dora Marta Landa Gil and Alejandro Jose Logoluso, 22 and 20 years old, respectively. Neither seems to have had much of a political past, Dora Marta never admits to any political activity at all and while Logoluso admits to being a peronista there were so many permutations of peronism during the 70s that there is no way to even assess his link to the Montonero guerrillas on the left, or the legalist peronist mainstream on the right. They have come to Asunción to start a new life, and like the three militants, are looking for false papers--not to travel, but to work. Thing is, all five are staying at the same hotel, and all five are using the same intermediary to try and obtain false documents.

The intermediary, Nilda Leon de Corvalan, proves, in this instance, to be an informer. And her information leads to subsequent arrest of all five on 29 March 1977, for not only possessing forged instruments, but for seeking to obtain further false documents. Heated requests go out from Asunción to other Condor countries for information on the five, and a single dossier on Inzuarralde, compiled by authorities in Montevideo, is forwarded to the Paraguayan National Police. It seems they have caught a big fish…what to do with him?

There is a single attempt to free any of the five during their detention in Paraguay. The parents of Dora Marta traveled to Asunción and met with various police and political authorities. While the files indicate that they are told of her arrest and detention, there is no indication that their pleas for their daughters release were ever even considered. They returned to Buenos Aires empty handed, though likely hopeful—she was alive and they knew where she was.

Spring 1977 Part 2--Interrogations
The files dead-end here in terms of the disposition of the prisoners. There is a lengthy document covering the interrogation of Scotto, it seems clear he knew that the game was up and pretty much told in disjointed terms his entire radical history. He never implicates anyone else, but admits to a string of some pretty wild activities--bank robberies, bombings, and general mayhem. He also spells out the life of an anarchist living underground in Uruguay and Argentina, the clandestinity, the lack of work, the publishing, the writing, the late night meetings to discuss tactics and strategy.

There is also a document covering the interrogation of Nell, though his material is more down-to-earth, commonplace. It is the work of a militia quartermaster, obtaining food, shelter, clothing, securing identity papers and ensuring that guerrillas have all they need to fight. The ideas that motivate the old militant never surface. They don’t need to.

No such interrogation document for Inzuarralde exists, rather there is a brief list of material that he discussed including his trip to Paraguay to obtain papers, his work in the ROE and other organizations, and that’s it. So he either 1) told them very little, or 2) his interrogation documents were subsequently destroyed or waylaid.

There was a concern on the part of the National Police that the militants had come to Asunción as part of an assassination team, or teams. Videla, the Argentine dictator was scheduled to visit Paraguay on 15 May 1977 and the presence of the three anarchists was considered prima facie evidence that something was up. Yet no one admits to it during interrogation, and the absence of explosives or arms at their capture indicates that what they were doing in Paraguay was just what they said they were doing, trying to get the hell out of South America.

Rendition --16 May 1977
There are no records of the negotiations between the Argentine Army and the Paraguayan National Police regarding the transfer of the five prisoners. The military and police bureaucrats were far too cagey to keep such documents, and it is likely that the final arrangements were made telephonically to further decrease the chance of discovery. There are, however, numerous instances in the files mentioning in detail both the flight and the prisoners.

I quote from the most precise document, from the day of the transfer 16 May 1977, written by Pastor Coronel, Chief of the Paraguayan National Police addressed to the Argentine Army transfer team..

“I have the honor to address you and your superiors with the object of letting you know that on this date at 4:34 pm a twin engine plane of the Argentine Army registered 5-7-30-0653 piloted by Capitan de Corbeta Jose Abdala flew to the city of Buenos Aires with the following prisoners: Gustavo Edison Inzuarralde (uruguayo), Nelson Redolfo Santana Scotto (urugauyo), Jose Nell (argentino), Alejandro Jose Logoluso (argentino) and Dora Marta Landis Gil (argentina). The persons mentioned were delivered by your direction in the presence of Cnel. Don Benito Guanes and Cap. Fragata Lazaro Sosa and Jose Montenegro and Juan Manuel Berret all with the SIDE (Servicio de Intelligence [of the Argentine Army])”

As I was researching the material I found myself, more than once, watching (in my minds eye) the five prisoners being loaded onto the plane. I see the afternoon tropical sun casting shadows across the tarmac, the heat tickles my back—a shiver, the revving of the engines, the plane being taxied to its ready position. And inside the plane sit that incredibly unlucky young couple looking to build a new life, and the anarchists looking to build a new world, all prisoners now. I stand and watch the plane as it rises in the still humid air fading into the horizon bisected into blue sky and palm forest--one last glimpse and gone, vanished—as if it had never existed. Disappeared, as sure as the human cargo it carried.

Aftermath
The story doesn’t end here in the files. Several requests regarding the disposition of the prisoners are extant. The first is an undated appeal from a couple living in Argentina who appear to have been friends with Inzuarralde—Britt Marie Stenkvist and Lars-Goran Olsson. The letter—written to Pastor Coronel indicates the Inzuarralde is married, that his wife, who is living in Switzerland, gave birth to a daughter in July of 1977 and that they are all desperate for news of his whereabouts. There was no response from the Paraguayan authorities. The next request for information comes from the International Red Cross Committee and demands, immediately, any and all information on the disposition of the five. The Paraguayans dash off a response that all five were expelled on 16 May 1977—and the unwritten part—they have no idea what happened to them. The friends and family of Dora Martin Landi Gil also demanded information about her whereabouts in September of 1977, but the note, forwarded to the police, seems to have been filed and forgotten. Finally, the United Nations Committee for Refugees gets involved in the case of Jose Nell through the Paraguayan Foreign Ministry. One last time, the note is filed without any response—likely they referred the UN to the material for the Red Cross and then let the matter drop.

Final Thought
I find no desire for closure in this story. The fact that five human beings disappeared off the face the earth requires no ending, no odes, no requiem. What does need to be said, however, is that in the case of the three comrades—they fought back, hard—all their lives and to the end of their lives.

Inzuarralde, Scotto, Nell.

Never Forget Them, Never Forgive.

El Errante

Tags: Paul Z. Simonscategory: Essays
Categories: News

The Hotwire #18: February 14, 2018

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:14

From CrimethInc.

Toxic Waste in STL—Labor Struggles in the Techno Age—A Rant on Love

Hotwire 18 The Hotwire

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Summary

The second episode of our second season! There is antifa activity in Olympia, Athens, and Seattle. Vaneesa Hopson died while in the custody of Olympia police and we report on the death and the subsequent protests.. There are strikes by delivery drivers across Hong Kong and Europe, by prisoners detained at an immigrant detention center in Washington, and walkouts across the country as part of the Fight for 15 campaign. We interview an anarchist active in the resistance to the Westlake Landfill. In honor of Valentine’s Day there’s a rant against conventional love. Stay tuned until the Repression Roundup to hear about the Black Pride 4.

Notes and Links Tags: Crimethinc.podcastthe hotwirecategory: Projects
Categories: News

Here’s The Fucking News!

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:01

From sub.media

After a long hiatus, subMedia’s foul-mouthed news anchor, the Stimulator, is finally back with his brand new show…. The Fuckin News!

In this pilot episode of TFN, Stim interviews far-right youtube troll, El Chico Lobo, and covers the alt-right’s pitiful attempt to hold a picnic in Chicano Park. Plus some good ol’ fashioned riot porn from Italy.

 

Download [HD * SD * Torrent * English Subs] * Translate

Tags: submediavideolanguagecategory: Projects
Categories: News

Anarchists Yelena Gorban and Alexei Kobaidze suspects in Vandalism Committed Outside of United Russia Office Sent to Temporary Detention Facility

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 22:58

From avtonom.org

Yelena Gorban and Alexei Kobaidze, suspects in the vandalism case (Russian Criminal Code Article 214) opened after a protest outside a United Russia party office on January 31, have been sent to Temporary Detention Facility No. 1 (Petrovka) in Moscow, as reported to OVD Info by their defense lawyers, Svetlana Sidorkina and Maxim Pashkov.

Gorban and Kobaidze have been jailed for 48 hours. On February 14, investigators plan to pursue their investigation, perhaps by confronting the detainees. According to the lawyers, Gorban has confessed to violating Article 214 Part 1 (vandalism) of the Criminal Code, while Kobaidze has refused to testifying, invoking his right not incriminate himself under Article 51 of the Russian Constitution.

Police at Gorban’s home early in the morning. They searched the flat she shares with her parents, confiscated all electronic storage devices, and took the young woman to the Preliminary Investigation Office of the Interior Ministry’s Moscow Directorate. Gorban has problems with her eyesight, but was not allowed to take contact lenses or eyeglases with here. The activist was delivered to the Preliminary Investigation Office and interrogated as a witness. Her attorney, Svetlana Sidorkina, was not admitted to see her client for four hours. When Sidorkina was finally allowed to see Gorban, she had had decided to confess her guilt and testify.

The police came for Kobaidze in the evening. He refused to open the door, and the police were unable to enter his flat for a long time. Kobaidze’s neighbor Alexei Markov was apprehended by police and taken to the Novogireevo precinct, because he had returned home and refused to opened the door to the flat with his own key. He was then taken to the police station on the premise that he could be inebriated. After testing Markov, the police took him back to the flat and, after showing him a search warrant, opened the door with his key. After the search, Kobaidze was also taken to the Interior Ministry’s Preliminary Investigation Department and interrogated as a suspect.

During the interrogations, police officers questioned Gorban and Kobaidze about an unauthorized march by Moscow anarchists on Myasnitskaya Street to protest the torture of anarchists and antifascists in Penza and Petersburg (see below).

Tags: Russiaanarchists in troublethe statecategory: International
Categories: News

Berlin, Germany: We Are All Terrorists – Solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners in Russia!

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 16:01

via insurrection news

Received on 16.02.18:

From Rigaer Street, we send signs of solidarity and rage to anarchist prisoners in Russia, responding to the call from Russia for International Days of Solidarity with Russian Anarchist Political Prisoners.

These days we heard from the arrests of antifascists and anarchists in Russia. Already before, in the months of October and November 2017, in the city of Penza, six people got arrested and brutally tortured by the federal secret service FSB. In January this year, in the city of St. Petersburg, a second wave of arrests followed with two persons first
being kidnapped by the FSB for one day and only the day after being officially registered in remand prison. The secret services‘ offensive, led by Putin’s regime, was accompanied by house raids in different cities of the country. As a reason for the repression the FSB constructed an anarchist terrorist group, named ‘Net’, planning a series of attacks on
the presidential elections in March 2018 as well as on the World Cup in June / July 2018 in Russia leading to armed insurrection and which is supposed to exist in several cities of Russia and Belarus. There is no evidence proofing the real existence of the group. The only evidences used are the statements of the arrested, which the FSB extorted from the
prisoners using torture and the threat of further acts of torture. In Penza, the group got constructed by the statements of the first arrested person. The link between them ‘members’ of the group is having played airsoft games together. Except of this first person, who got released beginning of the year into house arrest, all the others are still kept in the remand prison.

The experiences of intimidation and physical violence in the remand prison which the prisoners were subjected to, reveal the cruelty of the state apparatus. While democracy in Germany is still trying to veil the brutality of state power, the accounts from Russia affirm us, that the watchdogs of the system – the wretched trash of the executive – are
capable of maintaining their authority only by the threat and implementation of physical violence.

Repression is meant to discourage us, to defeat movements and strain us individually into the controlled system or even destroy us. It‘s anything but easy to not feel powerless, to not feel incapable of opposing their massivity. But if we listen to the messages of rage and anarchist struggle from exactly these places, the lines and images encourage us. They show us, that in every place where there is a human heart beating to the rhythm of rebellion, moments of resistance are likely to occur. They show us, that no matter how fierce the repression may be, there will be people who do not surrender to fight for their
ideas. The resonance of solidarity is our weapon.

From the G20-prisoners in Hamburg to the prisoners in Penza or St. Petersburg to Berlin – the stronger their repression, the more furious and passionate our resistance.

Rigaer 94

Info about the current situation:

https://avtonom.org/en/people/case-anti-fascists-st-petersburg-and-penza
https://abc-belarus.org

Tags: germanyanarchist solidarityRussiacategory: Actions
Categories: News

A Sobering Look At the Anti-Fascist Response at Red Square on 2/10

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 15:48

via Puget Sound Anarchists

On Saturday, February 10th, multiple groups of fascists and far-right conservatives converged in Seattle, WA (occupied Duwamish territory) at Red Square in the center of UW’s campus. A call for anarchists and anti-fascists to oppose this gathering was posted nearly a week prior. The occasion for such a gathering was a “Freedom Rally” that the UW College Republicans had invited Joey Gibson and his group Patriot Prayer from Vancouver, WA to attend. The fascist creep that has been edging its way into the patriot movement for the last several years in the pacific northwest has been well documented by Rose City Antifa, among others. With this in mind, anarchists and anti-fascists took it upon themselves to organize last-minute efforts to sabotage this gathering of fascists and their more center-leaning accomplices. Sure enough, a handful of different fascist and fascist-leaning right-wing groups converged together on campus; The Cascade Legion, Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer, UW College Republicans and various groups of militia-wannabes who patrolled the perimeter of Red Square in their olive-green army fatigues.

The rally was scheduled to happen from 1pm-4pm on Red Square, and attendees were spotted parking their cars in the surrounding neighborhood hours before the event. The police were well amassed for this gathering, they understood that counter-protesters would wish to swarm the rally and shut it down. Metal barricades were laid out throughout Red Square early into the morning, setting up multiple barriers preventing any counter-protest from physically reaching the so-called “Freedom Rally.” Signs were set up outside of Red Square alerting attendees and counter-protesters alike that weapons were prohibited from being taken any further. Ana Mari Cauce, the president of the UW administration, had sent out an email in the days leading up to the rally, declaring that the college administration was anticipating violence from groups outside of UW’s community, and had canceled every other event happening on campus that day (including multiple Black history month events). It should be clear to the reader the irony that in an attempt to create safety on campus, the UW administration cancelled Black history month events so that they would not clash with a White nationalist gathering. Despite the fact that her sibling was murdered for organizing an anti-KKK rally in North Carolina on November 3rd, 1979, Ana Mari Cauce remains complicit in providing a platform for fascists to organize on UW campus.

For about an hour and a half, the predictable screaming-match of rallies took place in Red Square. The Stranger reported that about two dozen attendees came out for the “Freedom Rally,” while they were sorely outnumbered, perhaps 4 to 1. The typical shouting matches from across police lines happened, but escalated slightly when local white nationalist bedfellow Kyle Broussard tried to mingle in the crowd of counter-protesters and hold an argument with someone. It didn’t take long before he was pushed out, hit with pepper spray and a fist, and a camera was taken from a live-streamer who was rolling with him. Shortly afterwards, a contingent of Proud Boys started to make their way out of the barricaded safety of the “Freedom Rally” and were escorted out of Red Square by a phalanx of cops, who pepper-sprayed counter-protesters and made a handful of arrests.

Tensions kicked up as things moved away from campus and into the streets. When Tiny, Anthony Bell, and other Proud Boys who rolled with them came upon their truck parked in a parking lot on University Ave, they found that two of their tires had been deflated (surprise, surprise). “We always get our tires slashed!” was heard as two of them ran off to check on their giant yellow hummer that was parked in another lot up the alley way. Another group broke away from the truck, determined to find who had damaged their vehicle. What happened next is hard to discern, as violence happens fast and chaotically. Tiny, Anthony Bell and a handful of Proud Boys happened upon a small crew of anti-fascists, some in black bloc, and a fight broke out. Pepper spray was utilized, but according to video some of the bigots in the fight were wearing eye-protection and kept swinging. According to the same video, Anthony Bell had his head split open by a glass bottle, and other Proud Boys were hit with extendable batons. Good work, comrades! The fight dissipated as quickly as it began.

This crew of bigots limped back to their truck and soon after roughly two dozen cops arrived on bike with an emergency medical team quickly behind to treat the wounded chauvinists. To the knowledge of the author, no arrests were made in relation to this particular fight.

Analysis

This past week was in particular a physically and emotionally trying week for anarchists and anti-fascists in the Pacific Northwest. Anarchists in Olympia were hit by a car and had a gun pulled on them during an anti-police demo in response to the police killing of someone mid-mental-health-crisis, and two days later suffered a beatdown by Proud Boys and members of Patriot Prayer as they defended Planned Parenthood from yet another anti-choice rally. With this in mind, we celebrate this violent retribution but also acknowledge that smashing fascism is not a zero sum game. Much as capitalism will not be smashed if we simply multiply x number of hammers by y number of windows minus n property destruction charges, we cannot operate as though halting fascism (let alone all forms of governance and control) is a matter of doling out more concussions than we receive. That isn’t to say that hammers shouldn’t be applied to windows, or that we should allow fascists a platform, but rather a proposal for conversations about broader strategy, as well as the promotion of anti-racist and anti-fascist cultural events. When we gather at the time and place of their choosing, surrounded by police, to yell back and forth and occasionally scuffle, are we actually taking away their platform? We lacked either numbers, tools, or the will to overrun the police to then send Patriot Prayer and their ilk packing on Saturday. This is a proposal to think about what can be done with the numbers and tools that we do have, and to train with friends and comrades to develop the will to do what needs to be done.

If a call to oppose this particular rally had gone out farther in advance, would anti-fascists have been able to better coordinate our efforts in sabotaging the rally or its attendees? As much as we would all have loved to have done just about anything else more rewarding than stand and yell at Joey Gibson & Chevy Swanson, we can no longer afford to hope that a simple gathering of idiots will go without consequence on us or legitimately marginalized communities.

The Alt-Right has long ago proven their proclivity to violence. As such, dialogue and discussion should never be an option for anti-fascists. Videos from Saturday show multiple counter-protesters engaging in certainly well-intended but ultimately futile attempts at reason with Kyle Broussard and others, who has been documented attacking anti-fascist protesters. Other videos show anti-fascists in black bloc attire standing directly in front of Proud Boys simply filming them with their phone, only to have their phone knocked out of their hands and then their head knocked as well. Dialogue, appeals to reason, and cameras have have more often left us vulnerable to their violent assaults. The time is now to put down your camera and pick up your hands.

One final note; pepper spray is not a magical chemical weapon that completely neutralizes your opponents, especially if they are wearing protective eye-wear. If you whip out pepper spray and use it, please comrades be prepared to start swinging and/or start running. What worked weeks ago are tactics we should move forward from and develop upon, not rely on tirelessly.

Regardless, the authors send love, solidarity and compassion to the courageous street-fighters of the Pacific Northwest this week. We are all uplifted by each other. Solidarity with the comrades in Russia under the weight of state repression and the Italian anti-fascists who amassed in the streets this week.

ALWAYS ANTIFASCIST, ALWAYS ANARCHIST, SOMETIMES ANTISOCIAL

Tags: antifaprotest tacticsseattlecategory: Essays
Categories: News

Two Paychecks Podcast #3: Hex on Restorative Justice Pt. 2

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 15:26

This is part two of our interview with Hex, an activist and member of the General Defense Committee who the Alt-Right tried to murder on Inauguration Day outside of a Milo Yiannopoulos. Here continues talking about his feelings of restorative justice, but also gets into Anarchist tactics and how radicals can use Public Records Requests to their advantage.

Perhaps, the most important thing he covers is what he calls "invisible labor" to describe the work the radical community put in supporting him during such a dark time and how much it helped to pull him through.

After the peckerwood hate rally in Charlottesville, we've seen the true face of "Unite The Right". I'm not talking about their transparent fascism, but how quickly they passed the buck, snitched and threw each other under the bus. Hearing Hex talk about the support he received from the General Defense Committee, and friends and allies illuminates the humanity and compassion of movements that risk everything to fight such oppression.

You can also listen here

Tags: antifahexrestorative justicepodcasttwo paychecks podcastcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Coping with the End of the World

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 16:54

via plain words

Submitted anonymously

The day after Trump was elected President, news reports circulated images of young people at college campuses gathering to cry and mourn together. At these “cry-ins” or “self-care events,” students reportedly colored in coloring books, played with play-doh, met with therapy dogs, drank hot chocolate, and of course, cried together. These stories were met with ridicule, supposedly showcasing the oversensitive millennial generation as a bunch of snowflakes who can’t handle the world. But just like how, to Baudrillard, the existence of the uber-commercialized and artificial Disneyland gives cover to the rest of society pretending not to be both already, these spectacular stories of human coping hide the fact that society is already coping all the time.

To cope means to deal with something with some degree of success. When faced with a situation that is unalterable, it is a workaround or sidestep. Since you cannot change it, you try to figure out a way to handle it. In the 20th century, revolutionaries faced the miserable world with hope to transform it into something better, which guided their actions and ways of living. But in present day, a revolution seems less possible, and hopelessness is spreading. Every day is a new disaster: environmental catastrophe, war and the threat of nuclear winter, daily random mass shootings, Nazis killing people and trying to gain power, and the arrival of an Orwellian techno-future. These horrors compound ongoing miseries of daily life under capitalism: hunger, boredom, humiliation, exploitation, isolation, violence, oppression, alienation, etc. Since it seems like we can’t change these realities, we try to cope with them.

Coping with our minds

Mindfulness is a Buddhist practice that has recently become popular within the field of psychology. It involves adopting a quasi-meditative mindset throughout daily life to non-judgmentally notice toxic thoughts. Seeing these thoughts for what they are supposedly lessens their ability to exacerbate neurosis and anxiety. This practice contrasts with psychoanalysis and other schools of psychology in discarding the role of the therapist as an expert of the mind, who tries to “fix” the patient by uncovering latent secrets buried within their psyche. Mindfulness never aims to “cure”, but rather offers an ongoing strategy for dealing with anxiety and toxic thoughts. In other words, it is a coping strategy that’s become popular due to an increasingly anxiety-producing world. It’s not the only one.

Psychiatry, a sister discipline to psychology that includes its practitioners prescribing anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, adopts the same approach. It never tries to cure someone of depression or anxiety, but instead aims to assist the patient in getting through daily life. Like mindfulness, it is a coping mechanism that can be useful to people. Both are in prominence right now because they level people out enough to enable them to be productive members of society. Someone who cannot get out of bed in the morning won’t be able to produce value at work or through whatever role they are assigned in capitalist society.

Coping through drugs

The number of people addicted to opioids have increased drastically in the last decade, including over double the amount of heroin users in the US from 2002 to 2016. [1] The Opioid Crisis is largely a result of over-prescription of painkillers for severe and chronic pain. These painkillers are addictive, and 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed them admit to misusing them. [2] When the prescription runs out, or when a tolerance is built-up to the drug’s effects, many begin using heroin or other illegal opioids. Chronic means “continuing or occurring again and again for a long time,” implying that it probably won’t going away permanently. Taking painkillers then is a way of coping, of constantly battling a condition that isn’t being fixed for whatever reason.

The most common reported type of chronic pain is low back pain, [3] which has a number of different causes. But it’s likely that the prevalence of this kind of pain has actually increased over time. A study done in North Carolina shows that the proportion of people suffering from long-term, low back pain has more than doubled between the early ‘90s and 2009. [4] Clearly something about this society and form of life is causing people to feel more chronic pain, which they then cope with by taking painkillers.

Habitual use of any drug can be read as a coping mechanism. 55 million people in the US used weed within the last year, and 35 million do on a monthly basis. 52% who used marijuana come from millennial generation. [5] Weed lowers your standards, it makes boring things fun. A stupid show on Netflix becomes entertaining, the toxic parts of a relationship are de-emphasized over the presence of a warm body to cuddle with, and emotions are dulled to the point of being manageable or ignorable. While drug use can provide interesting experiences, habitual use is clearly a way of coping with a boring and stressful world as well as putting off dealing with ongoing problems in life. Since under late capitalism the world cannot be acclimated to the needs of the body, with weed the body adjusts itself to acclimate to the world: a boring, despair-inducing, and stressful one at best.

Radical Self-care

The idea of “radical self-care” has become popular through Tumblr and online social justice circles in recent years. Rejecting notions of mandatory productivity and its related shame, radical self-care rhetoric preaches that people should do whatever they need to do to get through the day. The examples given usually seem to be indulgent forms of consumption: eat a whole pizza, binge-watch a mindless series, stay in bed all day if you need to. That radical self-care often translates into indulging in consuming commodities is a stellar example of capitalism preying on people’s vulnerabilities.

The rhetoric around radical self-care goes something like: “whatever you need to do to cope, do it. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad for how you cope with the world.” What’s striking about this is how identical it is to a popular sentiment in prison: Whatever you have to do to do your time, do it. A thoughtful and multifaceted analysis of radical self-care has already been made [6], but what’s apparent here is that it is a synonym for coping.

Sadvertising & Sentimentality in advertising and culture

Marketing and PR executives are tasked with creating propaganda content for their brands, products, and organizations, which requires them to study social trends and know the pulse of the public. In the last few years there was a trend in advertising dubbed “sadvertising,” where ads consisted of sentimental and emotionally moving stories, often unrelated to the products being marketed. William Gelner, former chief creative officer of the marketing agency 180LA, attributes this trend to the fact that: “…we live such digitally switched-on, always-plugged-in lives, and yet we still also somehow feel disconnected from people. As human beings, we’re looking for human connection, and I think that emotional storytelling can help bridge that gap.” [7] But at the end of 2016, after both Brexit and Trump’s election, the mood of holiday advertising quickly changed. An article published by a website for Association Executives:

“Last year’s tear jerking sentimental ads have been replaced with trampolining animals, courtesy of John Lewis, and a shift from sentimental wallowing – ‘sadvertising’ – to a healthy injection of light relief and laughter. Maybe the prospect of Brexit and Trump was simply more than most of us could deal with! When it comes to communications it’s definitely crucial to have an accurate appreciation of the predominant mood of the audience.” [8]

A trend that exploits people’s unfulfilled desires to have meaningful connections was replaced by a trend that tip toes lightheartedly around people’s fears of a disastrous future. While the cope-baiting is most obvious in the latter, in both cases the target of the advertisements is someone trying to deal with the miserable life they’re stuck in.

Failure to cope

To cope implies a degree of successfully persevering through the situation. What about when you cannot, when you lack the ability to both change a situation and deal with it in your life? Hopelessness is “significantly related to eventual suicide” by psychiatrists [9], and suicide rates have been on the rise across demographics of age and gender. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. [10] If suicide is related to coping, is it linked to a failure to cope, or is it actually a rejection of coping as a way of living? Random mass shootings are also on the rise. [11] These seemingly arbitrary acts are hard to understand, but the absence of empathy points to a lack of connection with people, and the suicidal intentions behind them demonstrates a feeling of hopelessness.

Conclusion

It would be stupid, insensitive, and unhelpful to suggest that people “stop coping,” as if that were possible or even desirable. Instead, I seek to uncover a trend in the hope of allowing us to better understand this oft-changing and complex society we have been forced into. If you know what your enemy has been up to, wouldn’t that help you plot against them?

Notes

[1] https://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/08/health/heroin-deaths-samhsa-report/index.html

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

[3] http://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx#chronic

[4] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209163146.htm

[5] http://recointensive.com/marijuana-statistics-2017-55-million-americans-admit-use/

[6] Crimethinc’s “Self As Other” – https://crimethinc.com/2013/09/06/new-zine-about-self-care-self-as-other

[7] https://www.fastcompany.com/3029767/the-rise-of-sadvertising-why-brands-are-determined-to-make-you-cry

[8] https://associationexecutives.org/news/322045/What-sadvertising-tells-us-about-communication-in-2017.htm

[9] https://focus.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/foc.4.2.291

[10] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml

[11] https://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/24/justice/fbi-shooting-incidents-study/index.html

Tags: drugsdepressioncopinghopelessnessself-carecategory: Essays
Categories: News

A New Luddite Rebellion

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 16:30

via Gods and Radicals

We do not revolt because we might fail. People might get shot or imprisoned, vulnerable people might suffer more than they already do, police oppression might increase, and all that effort could be wasted forever. And though these fears have always been good fears, our reliance on technology for re-assurances of certainty has amplified our inaction.

This is not a controversial statement: if many of us can barely try a new restaurant without relying on smartphones to take away the very minimal risk of an awful meal, why would we expect ourselves to face actual, real risk?

A manifesto from Rhyd Wildermuth

“Welcome to the modern world. It’s just like the old world, except it doesn’t work.”

–Peter Grey

My friend and I were both hungry; me perhaps a bit more so since I’d been traveling all day, hadn’t eaten that morning and it was now mid-evening.

“I’ll take you to dinner,” I told him. “Somewhere close–maybe pizza.”

“Okay,” he answered, and then started looking at his phone. “This place has really good reviews. Just need to take two trains.”

I was really hungry. “How long will that take?” I asked.

“45 minutes, maybe an hour.”

I shook my head. “Seems far and will cost a lot to get there. Isn’t there a place nearby?”

It was his turn to shake his head. “None with good reviews.”

“I don’t care,” I answered, probably a bit too curtly. The hunger was irritating me greatly. “Let’s just walk to one of them.”

So we did, set out into the cold city night, finally coming to an Italian restaurant. I looked at the menu, the prices were decent. “Perfect,” I said, turning to him.

“I can’t find any reviews on Trip Advisor though,” he answered. “But there’s one about a mile from here with a lot of reviews…”

Exhausted and frustrated, I snapped back: “Food’s food. I’m buying anyway…let’s go in.”

“But it might not be good,” he replied, until suddenly seeing something on his phone that made him excited. “Nevermind, I found it. Good reviews, we can go in.”

I’ve thought about this interaction very often since it happened a few months ago. My friend isn’t stupid; in fact, he’s very intelligent, and his magical insights into the world are often quite profound. Nor is he hardly alone in succumbing to the peculiar sort of paralysis of inaction I’ve recounted here. In fact, I suffer from it often too, as no doubt you likely do.

The desire to know if something is good before you try it, to want certainty about the uncertain–that’s hardly a new thing. But what is new, deeply radically new, is our reliance on social media (and the corporations which run them) and technological devices to give us that certainty, to tell us it’s going to be okay, to remove the risk that an action might not result in the absolute best conditions.

As with a night out at a restaurant or a date with a person met online, so too with any of the actions we might take towards revolution. We look to Tumblr and Twitter to gauge the sentiment of others, to divine if our groups and theories and plans are popular enough, have all the required sign-off’s from every possible identity focus-group, and nod sagely when told ‘that won’t work’ by whichever correctly-branded social justice personality happened to come through our feed that particular minute.

We do not revolt because we might fail. People might get shot or imprisoned, vulnerable people might suffer more than they already do, police oppression might increase, and all that effort could be wasted forever. And though these fears have always been good fears, our reliance on technology for re-assurances of certainty has amplified our inaction. This is not a controversial statement: if many of us can barely try a new restaurant without relying on smartphones to take away the very minimal risk of an awful meal, why would we expect ourselves to face actual, real risk?

Those Satanic Mills

If you feel this way of critiquing technology seems bizarre, anti-modern, ‘primitive,’ or appears to ignore all the ‘good’ that technology has done, you might be tempted to describe all this as ‘luddite.’ And you’d be correct, and not in the ways most moderns have come to understand what the Luddites fought for.

The Luddites have always fascinated me. Men and women, sometimes cross-dressing, stealing into oppressive factories in the middle of the night to smash looms to stop production: that’s quite hardcore, regardless of why they did it. Besides the awesome acts of industrial sabotage, however, two other aspects of what the followers of King (or Ned, or Captain) Ludd did two hundred years ago are extremely relevant to us now.

The first aspect is their anarcho-paganism. They all claimed to follow a ghostly captain or leader who urged them on their night-time strikes against the industrialists. The stories they told about exactly who He was varied just as often as their actions: Ludd lived under a hill, or in a well, or under a church, all three places not ironically located “somewhere” in Sherwood forest, where Robin of Locksley and his fellow rogues were said to hide. Ludd was a spirit, a king, or a general (“No General But Ludd/Means The Poor Any Good” went one of their chants), or just a captain amongst them, or even the ghost of a man named Ned Ludd (killed after sabotaging a factory, goes the stories). Like other similar groups such as the Whiteboys and Molly Maguires and Rebeccas, the Luddites invoked the mythic against capitalists and the State to great effect, at least while their resistance lasted.

And that brings me to the third aspect of the Luddite resistance, the part which I find most haunting as another year on this earth passes for me (I’m 41 today, it seems). To explain this aspect, though, we need to step back a bit and look not just at the Luddites themselves but at the era in which they fought and the strange (and eerily familiar) historical circumstances which created the world around them.

If industrial capitalism has a specific birthdate and birthplace, it was 1769 in Derbyshire, England. It was in that year and in that place the very first modern factory was built by Richard Arkwright. The sound of the factory was compared to “the devil’s bagpipes,” a fact memorialized in this poem by Lorna Smithers:

When Richard Arkwright played the devil’s bagpipes on Stoneygate a giant hush came over the town. The blistering whirring sound against the pink horizon of a sun that would not set over clear sights for two centuries of soot and smog was damnable. Yes damnable! Gathering in storm clouds over Snape Fell.

You who have seen a premonition might have heard the village seers tell of smoke for flesh charry knees and the squalor of shanty towns. Red brick mills turning satanic faces to the coin of their heliotropic sun: Empire.

Piecers running between generations bent legged beggers, tongue in cheek defiant. Weavers watching shuttles slipping through fingers like untamed flies. Luddites sweeping across greens with armaments and gritted teeth…

It took forty years for Arkwright’s new terror, “those Satanic mills” as William Blake called them in 1804, to finally spark the resistance movement known as the Luddites. In that space of time, Arkwright’s first mill multiplied into 2400 similar factories spread throughout England (mostly in the major cities), an average of 60 a year.

So, in two generations, Britain had gone from a place where there was no such thing as a factory to a place where there were several thousands. In four decades, an entire society which had started out knowing nothing about industrialization appeared to become irrevocably industrialised, and it was at that point the Luddites struck.

But why then? Why not before? And why fight what appeared to be inevitable?

Against the Modern World

A Foxconn factory (maker of most smartphones) in Wisconsin.

We must first ignore the modern interpretation of what a Luddite is. They weren’t ‘anti-technology’ or slow-to-adapt old people hopelessly left behind in a new world. Nor where they only concerned with fighting for better wages for weavers (who, before the factories, were able to support themselves and large families on the income from their specialized trade).

They were people close to my age and somewhat younger, the oldest people alive in Britain who could still remember the old world before factories, but still also young enough to actually work in them. They were a generation that stood on a threshold between the pre-industrial world and the new industrial capitalist order.

Imagine if you will what it must have been like to see your parents and the older people in your villages, towns, and cities starving because they could not or would not adapt to this brave new world. Many of them were too old, feeble, or weak-sighted to work in the factories, and anyway the factory owners preferred children as young as five to do much of the nimble work (and they couldn’t fight back). So while you see the older generation starving and destitute, you also see your own children or younger siblings coming home from the mills with broken fingers, strange bruises, and unmentionable wounds from their 14-hour day crawling under machinery to tie broken threads or retrieve loose bobbins.

And then there’s you, you and others your age, still young enough to work in many of the mills yet old enough to remember when the world wasn’t like this at all.

Now, it is almost impossible for us to imagine a world before factories, even as in many modern liberal democratic countries very few of us have actually stepped foot in one. That’s not because they aren’t around anymore: they’ve moved mostly to Asia and Africa, where exhausted workers are crammed up like cattle in a slaughterhouse to make the phone and laptops you’re probably reading this on (as well as the clothes you’re wearing, possibly the chair you’re sitting on, and most of the stuff inside the home where you lay your head at night) for little or no wages.

And it is almost impossible to imagine what society was like before the factory. What was it like to only wear clothes made by yourself or people who lived nearby? What was life like before the cities swelled with displaced peasants blinking in the light of dawn before the gates of textile and steel mills, hungry and exhausted but jostling each other in line for a job that day to feed their family? What did the streets and town squares look like at night before everyone had to wake up at dawn to go to work? How did we relate to each other before wages became the only way to survive? And what did society look like before mass-production, when no one ever wore the same thing, when ‘pre-packaged experiences,’ monoculture, and conformity were literally impossible?

It is almost impossible to imagine the world before factories.

Almost, but not completely.

Because we are living in a similar world to what the Luddites experienced.

“All that is sacred is profaned…”*

(* from The Communist Manifesto)

If you can pinpoint any places in western history where technology severely altered the way human society functioned, I suspect there are three. The most obvious one is the industrial revolution, which was also the birth of capitalism. The one before that changed the world as well (but much more slowly) was the invention of the printing press, which gave to early merchants and the bourgeoisie the power to disseminate literature outside the strictures of religious and royal decree. And while we tend to see that invention as a net gain for humanity, we must remember that mass-printing and distribution has always been primarily in the hands of the rich, with the rest of us merely passive consumers.

The third–well, that’s the era we’re in now, the computer/internet ‘revolution.’

The first ‘node-to-node’ digital communication happened in 1969, 200 years after from the birth of Richard Arkwright’s steam-powered looming frame. But being military technology, it took more than a decade for that technology to filter out to non-military capitalists and become the ‘World Wide Web.’ In the following decades, we’ve gone from a world where random (“risky”) human interactions occurred only in public spaces to one where most such interactions now occur ‘online.’ Here’s some other stuff that has changed:

  • 30 years ago, there were no smartphones or texting; in 2015, 98% of all Americans 18-29 years old had a cellphone.
  • 17 years ago there was no Wikipedia, 14 years ago there was no such thing as Facebook, 12 years ago no Twitter, 11 years ago no Tumblr, and 7 years ago no Instagram.
  • In 1984 only 8% of US homes had a computer of any sort; in 2010, 77% did.

These are all merely statistics about technological saturation; they tell us only as much as the figures about factories in England between 1769 and 1810 told us. But we don’t need to dig very far to understand that this technological change has radically altered what it means to be a human in a capitalist society.

For instance: before cellphones, you could only be reached at home. That meant if you needed to wait for a call you had to stay by the phone, but it also meant that your life was less likely to revolve around the ability of someone to get a hold of you immediately. There was no expectation that your attention could be gotten at any hour of the day because such a thing was impossible.

Before texting and email there were letters. You had to take the time to decide what you were going to say to someone, write it out on paper, post it in the mail, and then wait some amount of time for a reply. Thus human interactions were slower and more ponderous and most of all more intentional. Even the angriest of letters wouldn’t arrive until the next day at the earliest, and this slowness meant there was always at least a little time to rethink your immediate fury, unlike now with our instantaneous ‘send’ buttons.

Social media, however, probably represents the largest shift in how we relate to each other and also how we see ourselves. To have large groups of friends you had to do stuff for them, and with them, call them on weekends or send them letters, catch up with them for coffee or go to their parties or invite them for dinner, take vacations to see them or host them in your home. Now you need only post an update and read theirs to feel you’ve performed acts of friendship.

Accompanying that shift has been an increasing feeling of isolation and alienation. So many people now self-diagnose with introversion (as with trauma, or social anxiety, or many other ailments) that one wonders how humans ever managed to talk to each other before the internet.

The general response to this apparent increase in alienation is to state it has always been there, that being connected to each other more via the internet has helped us talk about it more, and that anyway we are #Blessed the internet came around to let us all be social despite our fear and misanthropy.

But in this case particularly, those of us who stand on the same threshold of change that the Luddites also stood upon cannot help but remember–we all did fine without social media. Better, even. We got over our shyness and anxiety because we had to, and the internet appears to have merely enabled us to not get over such things, to not address our social anxiety and fear of rejection and instead hide safely behind a screen.

Before the internet, binge-watching television (“Netflix and chill”) or staring at a screen for hours a day was a sign you’d given up on yourself and the world around you, were depressed and really just needed a friendly face or to go for a walk. They were symptoms of serious depression, indications that some large issue in your life has been unaddressed for too long and the things to ‘get you through’ had become addictions which prevented you from seeking help.

Now those things are all proud marks of ‘self-care’ enabled by technology without which we’d all surely be miserable, lonely humans. Nevermind that we are still miserable, lonely humans, and probably more so now.

Non-Binary Poly Radical #Blessed Vegan Cruelty-Free #Resister Queer Theorist Influencers Unite!™

Less controversial but even more unaddressed is what this new ‘technological revolution’ has done to our ability to survive, to earn enough money to eat and pay rent. The much-vaunted and ridiculous ‘internet of things’ has made it so we rarely get to ‘own’ the things we pay capitalists for, and must re-sell parts of ourselves constantly in order to compensate for dwindling wages and no savings. This is the curse of the ‘millenial’ (a marketing term that, like so much else, somehow became a ‘fact’ in capitalist society)–to have no steady income but to have thousands of Instagram followers in the hopes of one day having enough to be an ‘influencer’. To face insurmountable college debt and no way to secure housing but to get thousands of retweets on Twitter.

It is not just the fate of millenials. I’ve had two posts shared over 100,000 times and one seen by 1.5 million people. And yet I haven’t been able to afford eating more than twice a day in years, and have been nomadic for the last five years because 1.5 million views doesn’t pay rent.

The answer to the poverty experienced by more and more people (again–not just millenials) is to ‘monetize’ your life. Or as put in a rather brilliant essay about nomads like myself at It’s Going Down (“Living In A Van Down By The Instagram”):

The point here is not to whine about how we all can’t be special snowflakes or social media super-stars; the point is to state that capital is colonizing all aspects of our lives, including online worlds, and attempting to make us in turn generate profit, content, and value during all waking moments, either online or off. And, there’s no better backdrop to do this than when we are constantly traveling, as we in turn are utilizing and activating our social networks for the sake of monetizing them. Thus, we are pushed to take photos and tag corporations in the hopes that maybe one day we could get $50 for a sponsored post. To fundamentally turn ourselves, and our lives, into brands.

As was pointed out in the new book, Now, by the Invisible Committee, this has become both the economic baseline as well as central anxiety of our time. We aren’t just driving somewhere and enjoying a podcast or randomly picking up a hitch hiker, we are instead missing out on an opportunity to sell our labor power for Uber or Lyft. We aren’t taking photos to share with loved ones, we are building up our brand and trying to gain followers, which we will then sell to multinational corporations. This is the logic of the gig economy applied to all aspects of our lives, at all times, and in all scenarios.

To monetize yourself, though, requires you make yourself more sell-able, becoming a brand, a product, constantly adapting to market demands. Or as Badean wrote in “Identity In Crisis:”, in the Journal of Queer Nihilism:

“The collapse of traditional subject positions is managed through the proliferation of a new positions: app designers, graphic designers, cyber sex workers, queer theorists, feminist publishers, social network engineers, trend hunters, eBay sellers, social justice activists, performance artists, porn directors, spammers, party promoters, award winning baristas.

We are forced to continually define ourselves, to enact countless operations upon ourselves so as to produce ourselves anew each day as someone worth taking to market — our basic survival depends on the ceaseless deployment of increasingly discreet technologies of the self.

Everything is for sale: our sex appeal, our fetishes, our tattoos, our radicalism, our fashion sense, our queerness, our androgyny, our fitness, our fluidity, our abnormality, our sociability. Facebook and Twitter function as the new resume.

We are caught in the unending necessity to be continually educating, training, exploring, perfecting, and fine-tuning ourselves. Our continual self-invention is both economic imperative and economic engine.”

No doubt this seems dire enough, but one more dark truth emerges from this constant race. Because if we are constructing our identities in order to become more sale-able to people (be that for money or Facebook likes or even just to be noticed in this new hyper-gendered micro-radical hierarchy of new identities), how do we even know who we are anymore?

To be honest, I don’t always know. I am a radical queer anarchist pagan nomad punk fag brother boyfriend theorist bard druid, but none of that actually tells me what I am, only the hashtags people might use to define me on a social media post. Labels that once gave meaning now become indelible brandings. Try to shift any of those identities and the world (or the social media world, anyway) pushes back…hard. And just as often, those labels themselves are fiercely contested: I cannot count how many times I’ve been told I’m too ‘masculine-presenting’ to be allowed to use the term queer.

So who am I? Who gets to decide? And why are we using capitalist tools to mediate those discussions in the first place? Or is it possible it’s those very tools which have triggered these crises in the first place?

Not All Revolutions Are Good

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

(The Communist Manifesto)

The shift wrought by internet technology wherein identity is now the very battlefield of our ability to survive in the world may seem utterly different from any other struggle which has come before. In context of the struggle the Luddites and the early communists and anarchists fought, however, not much has really changed.

The rise of industrial capitalism triggered vast shifts in social relations which are to this day still being constantly disrupted. It should thus be no surprise to us that ‘disruptive technology’ is a statement of pride for many of the new architects of this current upheaval, an upheaval in which we also take part when we celebrate the destruction of older forms of relating (binary gender, hetero-normative society, class-based politics). What ‘good’ comes from these disruptions unfortunately seems fleeting and probably is. Because while it is a beautiful thing that acceptance of gender variance and queer sexuality have become so prominent, it’s a sick joke to say a poor queer or trans person desperately trying to pay rent by sleeping on a friend’s couch while letting out their bedroom on AirBnb, turning tricks on TaskRabbit or bareback hookup apps, and desperately looking for the perfect filter to get their Instagram account another 100 followers has somehow had their life ‘improved’ by these disruptions.

Yet, to this current horror in which we all find ourselves, perhaps the Luddites might shrug and say, “at least you didn’t have time forced upon you.” Because along with ‘disruption’ of the factory from hand-craft and laborer to factory and wage-slave came the beginning of an oppressive order of time.

Clocks became no longer curiosities but requirements. Suddenly, knowing if it was half-past eight or just ‘morning’ became the crucial difference between feeding your family for a day or starving on the street. Time literally had to be disciplined into us during the birth of industrialization, often times by christian moralists like John Wesley working on behalf of the factory owners. Time became something that you “spent” rather than something that passed, work became measured not by what needed doing according to the season but what the factory boss demanded you do within a set number of hours.

Before industrialization, work was task-oriented. You planted at some times of the year, harvested at others, ground wheat and fixed carts, wove cloth and made clothes not when an arbitrary number declared it was ‘time’ to do so but when the thing itself needed doing. And work itself was determined by how long you wanted to take doing the task, not how many hours the boss said you needed to stand at a counter or else be fired.

When attempting to imagine what that world was like (not very long ago), we tend to imagine it for ourselves, what our own life might have been like. Harder to imagine, however, is what all of society itself was like without clocks as over-seers. Imagine then what life would be like if not just you but all your friends and all the people in your town lived life without clocks, and you get a little closer to understanding precisely what the Luddites were fighting for.

A New Luddite Rebellion

It was against such radical, world-altering shifts that the Luddites broke into factories at night, smashing looms. One imagines they wanted their time back, they wanted their children and parents back, wanted the ability to survive without working in factories back. They wanted back the rich texture of a society where you knew the people who made your clothes, talked to the people who grew your food, or were those people themselves.

We are living in another such time. People older than me lived most of their childhoods without the internet and do not (or cannot) adapt to a world where everything about them is on display, sold piecemeal through Facebook updates and Instagram photos.

Those much younger than me do not know a world without cellphones, do not remember that it was possible to make new friends and meet amazing lovers without connecting first to an always-on device in your pocket. How many of them know you can arrive by train to a foreign city with just a paper map and a notebook and have the best trip of your life? How many will ever get a chance to experience what it was like to not just survive but actually have a pretty decent life in a city on less than full-time, barely-above minimum wage as I did in Seattle 15 years ago? And most of all, how many of them will ever know that risk and uncertainty is not something to be avoided at all costs but very often the thing which makes life worth living in the first place?

I barely remember what that was like.

I also barely remember what it was like to be anonymous, to have hours and hours of free time without devices I felt like I needed always to be looking at, constantly notifying me that emails and texts and retweets and messages are coming in. To have long conversations with strangers while waiting for a bus, to make new friends on the walk to work or find an awesome lover by chance while whiling away the day at a cafe. And most of all, I barely remember what it was like to know who I am without labels–to not need to call myself anything but my name, and have that be enough.

I want that all back. If you are close in age to me, you probably do to. If you are younger than me and don’t know what that was like, perhaps my telling of it is enough to entice you to want it also, and if you are older than me you might be shaking your head, having already mourned what’s been lost.

More than anything, we need this all back. Not just our time (consumed constantly by always-on devices and relentless updates). Not just our Selves (boxed in, categorized, labeled and shelved by any number of ‘identities.’). Not just our ability to pay rent and eat and still have enough money left over to enjoy the ever-dwindling number of months and days we have on this earth. Not just all that, but we need our will back, our reckless desire to act in the face of risk and uncertainty, the chaotic and unscripted interactions between ourselves and the world which make our lives not just exciting, but mythic.

And therein’s the key to the ritual invocation we must perform to take back what we’ve watched slowly sold off of our lives with each new screech of the devil’s bagpipes. There are spirits, gods, and ancestors who keep the memory of the old worlds even as we forget. Ludd was one, and though his followers failed to stop the horror born of the factories in England, some of us still remember their attempt. Be it Ludd or the Raven King, Brighid or Dionysos, or perhaps all the old gods and heroes summoned together, we can make another go at stopping this new horror waking upon the world. From the shattered remains of the past we can reconstruct a new resistance against this increasingly senseless drive towards self-as-product.

And if we fail, we will no doubt be smeared by many for being ‘anti-modern’ just as the Luddites were, dismissed and forgotten by many others, but definitely remembered by some, just as the Luddites are still remembered now.

We may indeed fail. The risks are very, very great, and there’s no Trip Advisor listing to assure us that there will be good food and pleasant ambiance after our uprising. Perhaps our failures will be re-tweeted across the world, Facebook Live videos streaming our defeat to countless millions using greasy thumbs to scroll through the comments. We’ll lose Instagram followers and potential Influencer sponsorships while the rich and powerful of the world destroy more forests, gun down more poor people, and start more wars.

We probably won’t win. But I’m gonna try anyway, because I want my life back.

And maybe you do, too.

Rhyd Wildermuth Tags: luddismanti-civcategory: Essays
Categories: News

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