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.
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Allein Machen Sie Dich Ein

Cinema Utopia

Eine Dokumentation der Zürcher Häuserszene von den frühen Anfängen bis 1994 in 10 Teilen.

Bereits in den 50er-Jahren sammelte die Zürcher Jugend an den drei Züri-Festern Geld für ein Jugendhaus — ausdrücklich für die Jugendlichen, welche sich nicht in Vereinen organisieren wollten und liessen. 1980 wartete ‚die Jugend’ immer noch.
Ein kurzer Rückblick auf die erstmalige Forderung eines AJZ in den 60ern, das erste Allmendfest und die Besetzungen an der Venedig- und Hegibachstrasse leiten über zu den bewegten 80ern.Continue Reading

Concerning Violence

The following is an excerpt from Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, reprinted yesterday on the great blog Middle East Revised. Its relevance is plainly not only to the Middle East.

• • •

National liberation, national renaissance, the restoration of nationhood to the people, commonwealth: whatever may be the headings used or the new formulas introduced, decolonization is always a violent phenomenon. At whatever level we study it — relationships between individuals, new names for sports clubs, the human admixture at cocktail parties, in the police, on the directing boards of national or private banks — decolonization is quite simply the replacing of a certain ‘species’ of men by another ‘species’ of men.

Without any period of transition, there is a total, complete, and absolute substitution. It is true that we could equally well stress the rise of a new nation, the setting up of a new state, its diplomatic relations, and its economic and political trends. But we have precisely chosen to speak of that kind of tabula rasa which characterizes at the outset all decolonization. Its unusual importance is that it constitutes, from the very first day, the minimum demands of the colonized.

To tell the truth, the proof of success lies in a whole social structure being changed from the bottom up. The extraordinary importance of this change is that it is willed, called for, demanded. The need for this change exists in its crude state, impetuous and compelling, in the consciousness and in the lives of the men and women who are colonized. But the possibility of this change is equally experienced in the form of a terrifying future in the consciousness of another ‘species’ of men and women: the colonizers.Continue Reading

Ertrunken, ohne Pass oder Visa

Der letzte Feuerbrief, eines freien Syrier’s, ertrunken im Mittelmeer

Mutter entschuldige, weil das Schiff gesunken wurde und ich dort nicht ankommen konnte und ich das Geld nicht verdienen werde, um die Schulden für diese Reise zu begleichen.

Oh Mutter sei nicht traurig falls sie meinen Körper nicht finden. Wozu wäre das auch gut? Es gäbe zu hohe Ausgaben um meine Leiche zu verschiffen, Beerdigung und Beileidsbekundungen.Continue Reading

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

Drowning without Visa or Passport

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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 medicine box, and the price of taking care of your teeth at the dentist.

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Fight for Fifteen

Transcribed from the 11 April 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We are determined to continue to grow this movement until these franchises, these corporations, and this country—and as a matter of fact, this whole world—sees that we are worth more, and that we must be treated with dignity and respect.”

Alex Jerri: We don’t talk much about how much money we make, even though it is the largest factor that determines how we live our lives. It’s a number that limits our access to the world or affords us the privileges of time and possessions, but it’s usually a number that we keep to ourselves.

On Wednesday, April 15th, thousands of workers across the world are going public with their demands for a fifteen-dollar-an-hour minimum wage as part of the Fight for 15 movement. Douglas Hunter is one of those workers.

Good afternoon, Douglas.

Douglas Hunter: Good afternoon. How are you doing?

AJ: Great, thanks! Douglas is a maintenance worker at McDonald’s, and a member of Fight for 15’s national organizing committee.

Last year, you were profiled by The Guardian. A reporter talked with you about your day striking at McDonald’s locations around Chicago, and here’s how you introduced yourself:

“My name is Douglas Hunter. I’m 53 years old. I have a sixteen-year-old daughter who I’ve been raising on my own since her mother died. I work at McDonald’s in Chicago, where I make $9.25 an hour, just a dollar more per hour than I made when I first started working there nearly five years ago.”Continue Reading