African Anarchism: An interview with the late Sam Mbah

AntiNote: This is a full transcript of an interview with Sam Mbah, recorded in March 2012 in Enugu Nigeria by Jeremy of the Jura Books Collective – an anarchist collective based in Sydney Australia. Sam Mbah, author of “African Anarchism”, a lawyer, activist and journalist passed away on November 6 2014, after complications arising from his heart condition. The world is worse without him. Many comrades and activists around the globe will be saddened to hear of this loss. Our thoughts are with Sam’s family and friends. We send our sympathy and condolences.

sam-mbah

Jeremy: It’s been about 15 years since the publication of your book on the prospects of anarchism in Africa. What is there, if anything, that comes to mind that you would add to or change about the book, and the ideas that you presented in it?

Sam: Yeah, I want to look at the ideas that I would add, not really change. Ever since the publication of the book I have been collecting additional materials that I stumble upon in the course of my writings and research. I think there is room for additions to the book, not really much to change, or subtract from the work. I think there is room for additions to the book, and this is something I have already started in the sense that in the Spanish edition that came out in 2000, I wrote an extensive foreword, wherein I tried to articulate some of the points we missed in the original book. I tried to look at more African societies that shared the same characteristics and features as the Igbo, the Tiv, the Efik, the Tallensi and the multiplicity of tribes and social groups that we have in Nigeria that I have already mentioned in the book. I also tried to explore other groups in other parts of the world especially Latin America, and I was able to draw some parallels between their social existence and systems of social organization, and the characteristics and features of anarchism, as I understand it.Continue Reading

Look Toward Kobanê

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The Travel Account of a Karakök Autonome Activist (Part 1)

AntiNote: Since the battle for Kobanê started making headlines last month, and before that if we may say so, the AWC has been conferring with our invaluable comrades close to both the Syrian revolution and the Rojava struggle and trying to determine how best to present these topics here.

Complicating matters, of course, is that news out of Kobanê in particular changes minute to minute—first, the fall of the city was inevitable, then it turned into a lasting siege; then all at once ISIS fighters were in retreat and the battle “over.” But the siege continues, and continues to confound: the roles and statements of the Turkish, American, and many other states shift constantly; people continue to scrape across the Turkish-Syrian border near Kobanê, in both directions; the situation is exquisitely fluid.
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The Failure of Nonviolence

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AntiNote: More and more people are beginning to notice and remark upon the rapidly intensifying nature of state authority in the United States, typified by the militarization of local police forces but also noticeable in related areas of the penal and immigration systems. Phrases like ‘prison-industrial complex,’ ‘school-to-prison pipeline,’ and ‘the carceral state’ are finding their way into mainstream discourse. More familiar terms like ‘political prisoners’ and ‘show trial’ appear to have regained some of the resonance they had lost through years of overuse or their near-exclusive application only to Other contexts.

Perhaps it is just a matter of my own perception, but I find it is becoming more common to encounter news stories and public figures—not to mention friends and family—looking askance at manifestations of state authority that in the past were, for most people, an unremarkable feature of an unremarkable status quo.

Of course, the authorities aren’t doing themselves any favors. The media is still hesitant to use appropriately critical terminology, but we are being ever more frequently confronted with concrete instances of obvious and frankly appalling overreach, misconduct, abuse, and illegality of authorities, from high profile police killings of unarmed black men to refugee internment camps to cruel experimental executions.

People are beginning to draw parallels and make unfavorable comparisons to historical systems of authority that we have been taught to despise and condemn out of hand. The Gulag. The Stasi. Jim Crow. It is no longer necessarily a violation of Godwin’s Law to refer to brownshirts.

This is a sign that many people are not merely calling into question previously accepted (or, more likely, ignored) aspects of the system—like solitary confinement, child prisoners, forced deportations, and the War on Drugs, to say nothing of surveillance—but also its fundamental underpinnings: most famously capitalism, but also prisons and borders as such, or the state monopoly on violence.

We are living in a crucial time. The American state’s legitimacy in the eyes of its people is in decline at the same time that its capacity for violence against these same people is increasing. Of course this is true of many states, currently, and has been true of the United States for longer than many of us more privileged (read: white) Americans may realize. But as dissent increases and also becomes increasingly dangerous, there needs to be a clear-eyed and open discussion about what to do when we inevitably come face to face with the terrible power we would try to dismantle.

Peter Gelderloos is not satisfied with the current boundaries of this discussion. In an interview with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West last fall, he explained why. Á propos of the current debate about ‘proper’ responses to state violence that was sparked by the police murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ‘riots’ that continue, Antidote presents the second in our series of authorized Smiley and West transcripts. Enjoy!

—Ed

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

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A Politics of No Politics

Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio‘s 12 July 2014 Episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:

“I don’t think I need to get out of the kitchen. I think we need to turn down the heat in the kitchen so more people can come into the kitchen. Because the kitchen is supposed to be the place where we make nice nutritious meals.”

Chuck Mertz: On the line with us right now is Jón Gnarr. He is the author of Gnarr: How I Became Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World. Good morning, Jón.

Jón Gnarr: Good morning!

CM: Jón campaigned on the promise to get the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park into downtown parks, free towels at public swimming pools, a drug-free parliament by 2020—and he swore he’d break all his campaign promises upon winning the election. Jon promptly proposed a coalition government, although he ruled out partners who had not seen all five seasons of The Wire.

Jón, how is it that a comedian, running a campaign that’s simply a satire, was suddenly taken seriously?

JG: Well, it’s a combination of luck and good planning—and a miracle. The most amazing thing about the Best Party now, when you look back at it, is that it worked out. We did a good job and we all stayed friends. That’s probably the most amazing thing.

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Gespräch mit dem syrischen Anarchisten Nadir Atassi

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Der Anteil der syrischen AnarchistInnen am Aufstand gegen das Regime von Assad mag quantitativ nicht bedeutend sein, sollte aber trotzdem eigentlich ein Bezugspunkt für eine europäische Linke sein bei der Fragestellung, wen man/frau/…. denn eigentlich in diesem scheinbar unübersichtlich gewordenen Konflikt unterstützen könne.

In der aktuellen Graswurzelrevolution ist ein Interview mit dem syrischen Anarchisten Nadir Atassi auf deutsch erschienen, das wir im Folgenden dokumentieren.

Laut einem kürzlich im Magazin Fast Company erschienenen Artikel, gibt es ein breites und vielfältiges Netzwerk unbewaffneten, demokratischen Widerstands gegen Assads Regime, das von lokalen politischen Initiativen, KünstlerIInnenkoalitionen, Menschenrechtsorganisationen, gewaltfreien Gruppen und so weiter getragen wird. (Die Syria Nonviolence Movement erstellte eine interaktive Karte , die das komplexe Verbindungsnetzwerk zeigt.)Continue Reading

Squatting for Reform?

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AntiNote: The following is an extended excerpt of the Ex-Worker Podcast’s own transcript of their fourteenth episode, entitled “Squat the World!” That episode includes good discussions on the topic of squatting as well as interviews with squatters; the segment we are sharing here is their review of Hannah Dobbz’s book Nine Tenths of the Law.

Longtime followers of Antidote may recall that we posted a review of the same book some months ago. Ed Sutton’s take on it was characteristically chatty and gushing—and the Ex-Worker’s review also begins with high praise. But the two reviews’ paths diverge when it comes to Dobbz’s conclusions and her prescriptions for any housing justice movement centered on property resistance. Ed is a fan. Ex-Worker is not.

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Anarchism and Violence

by Errico Malatesta

Originally published in Umanita Nova (New Humanity), December 1921

Anarchists are opposed to every kind of violence; everyone knows that. The main plank of Anarchism is the removal of violence from human relations. It is life based on the freedom of the individual, without the intervention of the gendarme. For this reason we are enemies of capitalism which depends on the protection of the gendarme to oblige workers to allow themselves to be exploited – or even to remain idle and go hungry when it is not in the interest of the bosses to exploit them. We are therefore enemies of the State, which is the coercive, violent organisation of society.Continue Reading