Four Years Out: Thoughts on the Syrian Revolution

By Leila Al Shami
(visit her excellent blog)

I was asked for an overview on Syria for a meeting of anarchists in Tunis which unfortunately I couldn’t attend. This is a slightly edited version.

In 2011, the Syrian people, as part of a transnational uprising sweeping the region, rose up in huge numbers to demand the overthrow of the regime. It was a spontaneous, popular uprising, originating in the disadvantaged rural and urban areas. It was a response to decades of dictatorship, a repressive police state, a mafia-style elite and the neoliberal policies of the Baathist regime which had impoverished large sections of the population.

It was a movement without leaders which united people across class, ethnic and religious boundaries. Young men and women organized horizontally in the committees which sprang up in towns and villages across the country to coordinate protests and civil disobedience campaigns and to send aid to besieged or bombarded communities. The activists in the committees worked to coordinate the demands of the revolution across the country – for the fall of the regime and a transition to a democratic, non-sectarian, civil state.

Over time, in the face of increasing and savage state repression, people armed themselves and organized in popular militias to defend protesters and their communities from attack. By 2012 there was a full blown military struggle between, on one hand, a multitude of popular militias loosely grouped under the ‘Free Army’ label and, on the other, the State.

Continue reading Four Years Out: Thoughts on the Syrian Revolution

“Is This Even Capitalism Anymore?”

Transcribed from the 21 March 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“Social democracy, fascism, and state communism are a lot more similar, in certain structural ways, than any of them want to admit. The leftwing critique was always to point that out. Now it’s the right saying that. They say anything that looks like a welfare state is both communist and fascist at the same time. But that critique no longer has anything to do with what’s going on.”

Chuck Mertz: The total, brutal, oppressive bureaucracy we find ourselves living in today is a creation of our own choosing. Here to tell us how we can still choose another way before it’s too late, David Graeber is the author of the new book The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy. Welcome back to This is Hell!, David.

David Graeber: Thanks for having me! Hello.

Continue reading “Is This Even Capitalism Anymore?”

“Violence” at Blockupy: Enough with the Hypocrisy!

AntiNote: We encountered this article in German at Eisbrecher Wuppertal (via Linksunten Indymedia) shortly after the clashes around the grand opening of the new European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt last Wednesday. True to form, the dominant German-language media (and even much of the ‘alternative’ media) has been apoplectically clutching its pearls about the targeted property damage that the first phase of #M18 protests included in their largely successful blockade of the ribbon-cutting—while the dominant English-language media has been mostly silent.

This is a crying shame, considering that Blockupy 2015 represented a significant expansion and escalation of the continent-wide anti-austerity movement and should be considered in this context. This article provides some background on Blockupy (which grew out of the global Occupy movement and has learned and grown in the face of violent state repression—where nearly every other Occupy site faltered), and proposes applying similar levels of targeted militancy more broadly.

“Violence” at Blockupy Frankfurt: Enough with the Hypocrisy!
by some activists from Wuppertal, Germany
20 March 2015

In the country which is the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter, there were hours-long street clashes last Wednesday [18 March 2015]. After the massive repression faced by Blockupy activists in 2012 and 2013, state power lost control—at least for a short time—of entire sections of the city of Frankfurt.

Of course, the discourse over “violence” has dominated media reports. We should gladly engage in these discussions, so that conditions might change and we can finally put an end to the real structural violence all around us every day under capitalism.

Continue reading “Violence” at Blockupy: Enough with the Hypocrisy!

The Russian Avant-Garde in the Age of Disinformation

Transcribed from the 28 February 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:

 

“This is the funny thing: when people don’t believe in anything, when they’re cynical about everything, they’re actually incredibly easy to manipulate.”

Continue reading The Russian Avant-Garde in the Age of Disinformation

Syrien und die westliche Linke – ein Interview

Yassin Al Haj Saleh ist ein bedeutender, syrischer Dissident. Von 1980 - 1996  in Gefangenschaft, wurde er seit 2011 zu einer führenden Stimme des syrischen Aufstandes. Er versteckte sich 21 Monate lang innerhalb Syriens und lebt heute  im Exil in Istanbul. Das Interview wurde via Email mit New Politics Editor Stephen R. Shalom geführt und von aNtiDote ins Deutsche übersetzt. 

Wir, gewöhnliche SyrierInnen, Flüchtlinge, Frauen, StudentInnen, Intellektuelle, Menschenrechts-AktivistInnen, politische Gefangene … existieren nicht.

Continue reading Syrien und die westliche Linke – ein Interview

Über das Phänomen unsinniger Jobs

Die herrschende Klasse hat erkannt, dass eine zufriedene und produktive Bevölkerung mit frei verfügbarer Zeit eine tödliche Gefahr darstellt.

Hattest du jemals das Gefühl, dein Job wäre ausgedacht? Dass die Welt sich weiter drehen würde, wenn du nicht 8 Stunden deine Tätigkeit verrichten würdest? David Graeber erkundete das Phänomen der unsinnigen Jobs für unsere jüngste Sommerausgabe – jeder, der berufstätig ist, sollte sorgfältig lesen… Continue reading Über das Phänomen unsinniger Jobs

The Prying Public-Private Partnership in Your Pocket

Transcribed from the 7 March 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We all talk about freedom, but most people can accommodate totalitarian societies. The real threat is the one that Orwell and Huxley warned about. It’s a totalitarian society that seduces you, that blinds you, that subtly frightens you with external enemies, and tells you that giving up freedom is necessary to preserve your freedom.”

Chuck Mertz: There’s a military intelligence complex that is threatening our democracy, and it will scare the hell out of you—at least it did me while I was researching for this interview. With us right now is Bob Scheer. He is the editor of Truthdig, and is the author of They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies are Destroying Democracy. Good morning, Robert.

Robert Scheer: Hi!

CM: So I got the Chicago Tribune on my doorstep this morning, and the headline was, “CIA sweeping change to focus on digital dust: massive overhaul planned to replace old divisions and emphasize cyber-espionage.”

Whenever I see these stories, they always conflate CIA espionage and Korean hackers and my ATM card and—there’s not really much about mass surveillance in there. Is cyber-security and my bank card really what the CIA is concerned about?

RS: No, it isn’t.

Continue reading The Prying Public-Private Partnership in Your Pocket

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