Capitalism, Slavery, and Resistance

AntiNote: The following is an extended excerpt of a radio interview, edited for readability. Listen to it in its entirety:

 

On 20 December 2014, host Chuck Mertz of This is Hell! Radio spoke with author and historian Edward Baptist about the continuing legacy of slavery and the ongoing sanitization and downright falsification of its history in the United States.

This conversation was timely when it took place, as protests over police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and all around the country had been escalating. Since neither the regular police murder of unarmed black men and women in the United States nor the white supremacist system that drives and condones it has ended, this conversation remains timely now, six months later, with the world’s eyes on Baltimore.

The conversations around lethal racist policing and the growing rebellion against it have continued to evolve over these six months, with some promising turns. While deeper investigations into the racial, institutional and economic history of Ferguson were not completely absent from media coverage of the police murder of Michael Brown, it seemed to happen primarily at a low frequency on the fringes of the discourse. The same could be said of alternative analyses of rioting as a legitimate response to state violence. But both of these avenues of thought have factored much more prominently in the coverage of Freddie Gray’s horrific beating murder by Baltimore cops and the ensuing uprising there.

Indeed, they have combined in a way. The relatively recent history of Baltimore’s economic abandonment has been used as further evidence of the hypocrisy of people who complain about broken windows but not broken spines. As the argument goes, they never complained about the broken windows, the broken homes, the broken communities that de-industrialization, white flight, the War on Drugs, and austerity produced in Baltimore. Just the ones broken by black rioters.

Good point. Yes, a crucial backdrop for the ongoing racial unrest in Baltimore and the rest of the United States is the economic suffering wrought by neoliberalism over the last half-century. But this system of violent racialized economic exploitation has been a feature of capitalism for much longer than that.
Continue reading Capitalism, Slavery, and Resistance

Statement from a Comrade and Baltimore Native About the Uprising There

by Josh Baltimore for SIC
29 April 2015

Im heading home in two days.

There is something very important happening not only in Baltimore, but across black America. As of now there have been no reported deaths at the hands of protesters in a city where 250 people are killed a year, nearly all of those homicide victims being black. In spite of the fires and the looting, the young people of Baltimore are still showing a greater restraint in their conflicts with police and store-owners than they have shown in their conflicts amongst each other. I say this because for years it has been my family too that has done some of the killing and much of the dying.

Why is it that the current uprising has, in spite of its violence, not tilted toward a shooting war between whites and blacks, cops and kids, landlords and tenants, bosses and workers, given the fact that the shooting war between young black men across the region is invariant? Because young black people still value the lives of their structural enemies more than they value their own. The engineering of what is possibly the most efficient self-cannibalizing social organism in history – the nightly shootouts, the stabbings, the overdoses – is a project that has been centuries in the making. Continue reading Statement from a Comrade and Baltimore Native About the Uprising There

Is Culture Important? The Struggle Over How to Struggle

AntiNote: The following is an extended excerpt of a radio interview, edited for readability. Listen to it in its entirety:

 

On 24 April 2015, Chuck Mertz of This is Hell! Radio (Chicago) talked to author and educator Andrew Hartman about the ambiguous legacies of the concurrent but dissonant cultural and economic revolutions of the last fifty years in the US.

This has been a topic of reliable contention in the AWC: how much a focus on cultural struggle may distract from or even impede the ostensibly more pertinent material struggle against neoliberalism—or, put the other way, whether a purely material, structural economic struggle is worthwhile or even possible without a cultural dimension.

When it comes to specific issues and strategies, implicit disagreements about how to answer these questions divide many on the Left. We appreciate Hartman’s approving attention to cultural struggle and its successes, as well as his sober awareness of perhaps greater defeats in the political-economic sphere, and join him in encouraging us all to consider both together when organizing our struggles today.

“As more and more people have clawed their way into whatever this thing is that we call American identity, fewer and fewer people have been willing to commit to the collective good. That’s the paradox.”

Continue reading Is Culture Important? The Struggle Over How to Struggle

It Might Be Spring in Macedonia

AntiNote: This article/interview collage appeared last week on LeftEast immediately following an escalation in the student protests that began late last year in Macedonia. Reprinted with permission.

We find these events in Macedonia of particular interest for their largely unsung parallels to the more widely reported student movements and occupations happening in places like Chile, Quebec, London, and Amsterdam as well as the conditions currently being created (and also protested, here and there) in the United States.

It is also encouraging to see this kind of organizing and resistance occurring in a country that appeared, until recently, to understand itself as not having built a culture of political opposition since its independence (there may be hope for Switzerland yet!). The AWC extends our support and solidarity.

23 April 2015, Skopje
23 April 2015, Skopje
Spring has arrived in Macedonia: thousands of pupils and students protest against education policies

by Adela Gjorgjioska for LeftEast
23 April 2015

Thousands of pupils, students  and teachers marched today across the country, in a renewed challenge to governmental education policies. Organized by the High School Plenum,  the protest comes two months after the [University] Student Plenum declared victory against “reforms” in higher education on the 24th of February, 3 months after the students’ first march on the 17th of November.

“For the first time in the history of Macedonia, but also the region, students and professors will participate directly in the process of devising a law which affects them,” the Student Plenum exclaimed then. Continue reading It Might Be Spring in Macedonia

Ahogándose sin visa ni pasaporte

El último mensaje de un Sirio Libre ahogándose en el Mediterráneo

Perdóname mamá, porque el barco ha sido hundido y no pude llegar, y no voy a poder ganar el dinero para saldar las deudas que hemos hecho para pagar este viaje.

Oh mamá, no estés triste si no encuentran mi cuerpo, ¿cuál sería el beneficio? El transporte de mi cadáver, el entierro y las condolencias significarían demasiados gastos.

Perdóname mamá, porque la guerra ha acontecido y tuve que vivir como los demás, aunque mis sueños, como sabes, no eran tan grandes como los de los demás. Mis sueños fueron del tamaño de la caja de medicamentos para el colon y del precio del cuidado de tus dientes en el dentista.

A propósito, el color de mis dientes es verde, porque se le han pegado musgos, aunque siguen siendo más bellos que los dientes del dictador. Continue reading Ahogándose sin visa ni pasaporte

Drowning without Visa or Passport

The Last Message of a Free Syrian, Drowned in the Mediterranea

Translated by Muhannad Al Boshi

I am sorry mom, because the ship has been sunk and I couldn’t reach there and I will not be able to earn money to repay the debts we took for this journey.

Don’t be so sad Oh mom! If they will not find my body, what could be the benefit?! There would be too many expenses for moving my corpse, burial, and condolences.

I am sorry mom, because the war has befallen and I had to leave like the others, although my dreams, as you know, were not so great like the others.  My dreams were like the size of a colon medicine box, and the price of taking care of your teeth at the dentist.

Continue reading Drowning without Visa or Passport

„Das ist eine echte Revolution“. Interview von Pınar Öğünç mit David Graeber

AntiNote: Nachfolgend ein Interview mit David Graeber über seine Eindrücke aus Rojava. David Graeber schrieb als Professor für Anthropologie an der London School of Economics und Aktivist und Anarchist im Oktober 2014 einen Artikel in der Tageszeitung The Guardian, als der IS gerade begonnen hatte, Kobanê in Nordsyrien anzugreifen. Darin fragt er, warum die Welt die revolutionären syrischen Kurden ignoriere.

Er erwähnt seinen Vater, der 1937 als Freiwilliger in den Internationalen Brigaden zur Verteidigung der Spanischen Republik kämpfte und fragt: “Wenn heute eine Parallele zu Francos vordergründig frommen, mörderischen Falangisten gibt, wer könnte das sein außer der IS? Wenn es eine Parallele zu den Mujeres Libres Spaniens gäbe, wer könnte das sein, wenn nicht die mutigen Frauen, die die Barrikaden in Kobanê verteidigen? Ist die Welt, und diesmal am skandalösesten überhaupt die internationale Linke, wirklich dabei, mitschuldig zu werden und zuzulassen, dass sich die Geschichte wiederholt?“

Laut Graeber wurde die autonome Region von Rojava mit den drei antistaatlichen, antikapitalistischen Kantonen 2011 mit einem „Gesellschaftsvertrag“ ausgerufen und ist damit ein bemerkenswertes demokratisches Experiment dieser Epoche.

Rojava_february2014_2
“Rojava February” by PANONIAN – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

Anfang Dezember verbrachte er mit einer achtköpfigen Gruppe von Studenten, Aktivisten und Akademikern aus verschiedenen Teilen Europas und der USA zehn Tage in Cizîrê, einem der drei Kantone Rojavas. Er hatte vor Ort Gelegenheit, die Praxis der „Demokratische Autonomie“ zu beobachten und viele Fragen zu stellen. Continue reading „Das ist eine echte Revolution“. Interview von Pınar Öğünç mit David Graeber

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