Doesn’t That Make It a “Death Camp?”

Transcribed from the 8 February 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“I thought it was just another detainee holding facility. But we knew that it was not on the map; this was not on the books. The soldier with me said, ‘We just found our Auschwitz.’ It shook all through my body, and I said, ‘Let’s get out of here.’”

Chuck Mertz: Guantánamo is a horrible place that should be closed, never should have been opened in the first place, and may very well have been the scene of a triple murder. Here with an insider’s account, Joseph Hickman is author of Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantánamo Bay.

Joe has spent most of his life in the military—first as a marine, then as a soldier in both the army and the national guard. Deployed on several military operations throughout the world, sometimes attached to foreign militaries, the recipient of more than twenty commendations and medals, Joe was awarded the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Commendation Medal while he was stationed with the 629th military intelligence battalion in Guantánamo Bay. He is currently working as an independent researcher and senior research fellow at Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Policy and Research.

You start your book by writing, “I am a patriotic American.” Is this a book written out of a sense of patriotism? Is this a patriotic book?

Joseph Hickman: Yes. I do believe it is. Like you said, I was in the military for fourteen years when I arrived at Guantánamo. It was my life. And I believe that, as an American soldier, it was my job to come forward and report a war crime. I think it’s every soldier’s duty to report a war crime if they see one occur. I believe I witnessed a war crime, and I tried to report it.

Continue reading Doesn’t That Make It a “Death Camp?”

What Form Should Our Antifascism Take?

by Fatty McDirty of Lower Class Magazine
(deutsche Originalversion kann hier gelesen werden)

The new year has begun with the sad certainty that the far Right is in full sail. In Germany, racism, xenophobia, and nationalist sentiment are seeing a once-in-a-generation boom.

Surveys are showing that around 50% of respondents sympathize with or at least “understand” the current wave of xenophobic demonstrations. Agreement with statements such as “I am worried that radical Islam is becoming more significant in Germany” and “Germany is currently taking in too many refugees” is polling even higher than that.

The new year has begun with another sad certainty: that this trend will probably not be reversed in the short term. War and crisis abroad are driving more and more people to flee, often to Europe—while a strong Left that could counter reactionary sentiments at home is not in evidence in very many EU countries. The strengthening of terroristic jihadi movements in geopolitically crucial regions is fanning the flames of islamophobic, racist, and chauvinistic ideas in Europe’s metropoles, both inside and outside established bourgeois political parties. Meanwhile the idea of an independent Left appears to have been—plainly speaking—pulped. It is time to ask how lost ground can be retaken.

Reaction has many faces. Old familiar ones, of course, but also a some new ones. The Left’s old familiar responses to them can still be useful, but we need some new ones too.
Reaction has many faces. Old familiar ones, of course, but also a some new ones. The Left’s old familiar responses to them can still be useful, but we need some new ones too.

Continue reading What Form Should Our Antifascism Take?

The False Friends of Rojava

AntiNote: This article appeared in Jacobin Magazine last month, the result of a long-distance collaboration, over several weeks and several countries, from which we at the Antidote Writers Collective learned a great deal.

Thanks go first and foremost to the article’s authors, Errol Babacan and Murat Çakır of Infobrief Türkei, for their hard work, generosity and patience in preparation of the translation while navigating the competing interests automatically involved in any transnational creative collaboration. It must be said, as well, that the editorial staff at Jacobin showed equal dedication to presenting the authors’ unadulterated voices despite the perils embedded in the American media context that could have prevented them from doing so. Finally, a shout out to Civaka Azad, the German-language “Center for Kurdish Public Relations” website at which the AWC first encountered this work.

Continue reading The False Friends of Rojava

Syriza and Social Movements: Risks and Opportunities

AntiNote: Our comrades at Infoaut.org interviewed Spyros Tz of AlfaKappa Athens, about the social and political context in Greece that will be affected by the electoral victory of SYRIZA. We believe that this contribution is useful to observe what is happening in the Hellenic peninsula more lucidly and dispassionately. From a vantage point within the movements, Spyros also outlines moments of immediate verification, and identifies options and spaces to capture amid the ambivalence resulting from the arrival of a SYRIZA government .

Infoaut: Now that Syriza seem to have conquered the majority of the seats in the Greek Parliament, what should we expect as the first moves of the new government? Where will the pivotal focuses of intervention take place, also according to debate of the latest days of electoral campaign? Which issues will be given priority, the internal or the international ones?

Spyros: We are entering a period of really dense political time, the decisions of all political players will generate drastic results that will define the future. It’s too soon to define the first moves of the SYRIZA government in such a fluid and unstable environment. My belief is that the governmental party hasn’t taken final decisions on various crucial matters yet. Tsipras has proven to be acting out of the box of a strict left agenda, adopting a pragmatic agenda based on broad parliamentary consensus. The participation of ANELL (independent Greeks) will surely put serious limitations on the –supposed- agenda of SYRIZA on immigration, human rights, the separation of Church and State and other relevant issues. Of course, the main political issue is that of the national debt. I believe that SYRIZA wants to create a national alliance inside the parliament in order to negotiate the issue more effectively with their European “partners”, so I believe that priority no.1 for the government is to buy some political time to prepare itself for the negotiations abroad.

Continue reading Syriza and Social Movements: Risks and Opportunities

The Worst Direction for Politics: Neofascism’s Resonance With Unwary Progressives

AntiNote: This article first appeared last month on the Permanent Crisis blog under the title The Left Flounders as Reaction Grows Ever Stronger. Reprinted with the permission of the author and with Permanent Crisis’ internal links included—both for citations’ sake and because their Glossary is highly useful (as is their body of work in general, it should be said). External link citations have mostly not been reproduced, but sticklers can find them in the original.

Though he had clearly been preparing this piece well before the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the subsequent wave of islamophobic violence in Western Europe, and well before the SYRIZA victory in Greece, Walker articulates and puts in historical context some important features of the discussions that have arisen around both of these developments, framing the struggle against neoliberal capitalism in part as one between fascists and anti-fascists—both of whom often, awkwardly, share anti-capitalist sentiments.

As he points out, 2014 was the year that many on the Western Left started noticing this little wrinkle…though many did not (look no further than the Monday Peace Vigils in Germany, Austria, and right here in Switzerland). The Antidote Writers Collective is firmly convinced that it’s about time we start confronting this matter head-on. Fascism is not a 20th century problem; it exists all around us, sometimes right under our noses, and we need to get better at calling it what it is. But more on that later. Here’s Walker:

The Left Flounders as Reaction Grows Ever Stronger
by Walker of Permanent Crisis

As the crisis of neoliberal society grinds on, the question is not whether the dominant social forms of the last 35 years will be overthrown, but whether it will be the left or the right that overthrows them. Beginning in 2011, there was a brief upsurge of progressive protest around the world that, despite its marked limitations, offered some hope of confronting the crisis. That moment seems to be past. Protest continues, of course, but it has moved further and further away from a solid grasp on the sources of its discontent. Increasingly, even those who understand themselves as progressives are supporting reactionary directions for resistance.

Continue reading The Worst Direction for Politics: Neofascism’s Resonance With Unwary Progressives

The Racism/Austerity Feedback Loop

Transcribed from the 24 January 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“Roma are among the poorest citizens in Bulgaria. But somehow, paradoxically, they are considered the most privileged, because of their supposed “privileged” access to welfare.”

Chuck Mertz: We’ve been discussing neoliberalism, austerity and race on This is Hell! for a while now. But what happens when austerity actually fuels more racism? Here to tell us what austerity means for racism against Bulgaria’s Roma: Jana Tsoneva.

Continue reading The Racism/Austerity Feedback Loop

Hungary: Social Catastrophe in the Making

AntiNote: This article first appeared in December 2014 on the Böll Foundation website, with link citations that we have not reproduced. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

Social Catastrophe In the Making
by Bálint Misetics

It is not only constitutional democracy that Viktor Orbán’s regime treats as its enemy; the Hungarian government has also launched a forceful attack on the welfare state, with predictable consequences: rising poverty and social inequality. No pro-democratic political opposition movement can continue to ignore the immense state-induced suffering of millions of Hungarians; to succeed, we must learn to transgress class boundaries.

Continue reading Hungary: Social Catastrophe in the Making

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