Friday, February 6, 2015
"How to Uphold White Supremacy by Focusing on Diversity and Inclusion. Liberalism’s inherent racism." by KYRA a Chinese-Amerikan trans woman working to create space for radical racial justice
Since the civil rights movement, white people have exploited every opportunity to conceal their colonialist legacy and longstanding (ab)use of white supremacist power. They’ve proven time and again that they have no interest in rectifying that history, only in dealing with the fact that they could no longer deny the reality of those injustices. One effective tactic has been to separate white supremacy and colonialism from the way racism is understood and taught through schools, history textbooks, news media, and through any white-controlled institutions. These lessons, of anti-racism as-told-by-white-people, will be familiar to you: that racism is only explicit racial prejudice; that separatism is the essence of Jim Crow (and therefore inclusion is the antithesis to de jure segregation); and that the remedy for a racist society is a colorblind one.
All of these assumptions are grounded in liberalism: the egalitarian principle which works to ignore and erase difference rather than to undo oppression. It strives for a post-feminist, post-queer, post-racial or racially colorblind world. Liberalism as an ideology deems equal rights and equal treatment as a higher priority than material justice, or as an effective means towards it. Its presumptions of equality are false, as individualist equality may be written into law and policy while material inequality thrives. It effectively abstracts and obscures power dynamics along lines of race, class, and gender. The difference between material justice and liberalism is the difference between actually making reparations for a long history of racism and countries like Austria, Finland, Hungary, France, and now Sweden removing all mentions of “race” from their legislation.
Liberalism is not the opposite of conservatism on a left-right political spectrum, but a set of values that informs various other political ideologies including conservatism and libertarianism. Even the most popular manifestations of feminism and radical political thought (anarchism, communism, and socialism) are their most liberal forms. You can recognize the influence of liberalism in any political philosophy or practice that , consciously or not , focuses on individual equality before social power. What is it that says that ending racism means setting aside our differences and finding commonality? Liberalism. What is it that says that we need love to bring us together and to end the hate which drives us apart? Liberalism. What is it that says to choose unity over disunion? Liberalism. What is it that says racism/sexism/sizeism hurts everyone? Liberalism.
All of these ideas value a certain perception of equality at the expense of those who suffer due to social inequality. That’s why you’ll notice this rhetoric so frequently employed to dismiss oppressed people who direct their anger…at their oppressors. Through a white-writing of history (and history textbooks) that erases and minimizes all of the revolts that were necessary for change, liberals are able to demand that protesters remain totally peaceful, pacifist, and nonviolent (by which they mean non-destructive of property) in the face of dehumanization, degradation, and absolute repressive violence (the actual destruction of human life). White liberals and their sympathizers take ideas and quotes from Martin Luther King out of context and use them to shame disruptive protesters as rioters and looters, dismiss more militant activists as spiteful and vengeful, blaming them all for their own conditions.
The toxic effects of liberalism are clear in diversity advocacy and its language. Take the reframing of affirmative action as an initiative to promote diversity. Affirmative action was created in recognition of a centuries-long legacy of racism and historically discriminatory hiring/admissions practices. It is remedial in nature, and requires the recognition of past and ongoing wrongs that need to be righted. In stark contrast to this, diversity emphasizes the pragmatic benefits to morale, productivity, and profits. Diversity is the practice of mixing together different bodies within a common organization, and is a prime resource to be capitalized upon by businesses and organizations that are white owned and/or operated. Diversity still benefits those in power by taking advantage of the various experiences and vantage points of different racial/gender/sexual backgrounds. Rather than respecting difference and redistributing power based on it, diversity only “celebrates” difference in order to exploit multiculturalism for its economic value.
There is a reason that diversity is consistently promoted as being beneficial to everyone, disregarding who benefits most from various arrangements of diversity. As a dominant mode of thought, we must challenge liberalism if we hope to challenge the structures of domination that it both masks and reinforces, through diversity or otherwise.
“Inclusivity” and “exclusivity” are politically meaningless without context and divert attention away from specific power dynamics. In common use, they are assigned inherently positive and negative values without specifying who is being included or excluded. This is why you might see a group proudly promote itself as being more “open” and “inclusive” than a group which is intentionally exclusive to create a safer space for a specific marginalized group. This is because de jure segregation is so strongly associated with racism. Still, segregation is not racist in and of itself. It is racist depending on a history of white supremacy, depending on who is enforcing segregation, and depending on the material impact of said segregation.
While after a history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation, fighting for desegregation was obviously necessary, but that progress is not inherent to diversity and inclusion. They are only valuable insofar as they reduce a white stronghold on power. How would racial diversity or the inclusion of men benefit the organizational team behind Black Girl Dangerous? What about organizations like the Trans Women of Color Collective or INCITE! which could only be opened to more racial diversity through the inclusion of whites? Diversity and inclusion whitewash and undermine the very basis of their value for racial justice and feminism: providing access to resources, representation, and power to identity groups that lack them. Not only is “inclusivity” politically meaningless, but to frame the benefits of stronger representation of marginalized races, genders, etc. within “diversity” gravely strips the progress it provides of its power and political significance. There is then danger in uncritically advocating for—or even just discussing power dynamics in terms of—diversity or inclusivity.
Closed spaces for marginalized identities are essential, especially ones for multiply marginalized identities, as we know from intersectionality (not to be confused with the idea that all oppression is interconnected, as many white women who have appropriated the term as self-proclaimed “intersectional feminists” seem to understand it). Any group, whether organized around a shared marginalized identity or not, will by-default be centered around the most powerful within that group. For example, cisgender white women will dominate women’s groups that aren’t run by or consciously centering trans women and women of color. A requirement for all groups to be fully open and inclusive invites the derailment and silencing of marginalized voices already pervasive in public spaces, preventing alternative spaces of relative safety from that to form. Hegemony trickles down through layers of identity, but liberation surges upwards from those who experience the most compounded layers of oppression.
So why do so many people seeking racial justice, female empowerment, and queer liberation still choose to advocate for “diversity” and “inclusion”? They appeal to liberalism. They prevent oppression from being named. They prevent us from speaking truth to power. They make progress sound friendly to those in power. Companies can tokenize women and people of color throughout their advertising. They can get way more credit than they deserve for being not 100% white men. They can profit from the increases in efficiency and productivity associated with more diversity. All of the above ignore the fact that companies needed to have diversity initiatives to make them less overwhelmingly white in the first place; that white people are the ones in the position of being able to grant access in the first place. When we work for justice and liberation, we can’t accept progress that is conditional on being economically beneficial.
The only way to prevent that is to name oppression for what it is; to speak truth to power. If a group is dominated by whites, men, and other privileged classes, don’t let that be reduced to a diversity issue.
You may have seen the phrase before and possibly even used it yourself, but if you still focus on inclusion and diversity, you don’t truly understand: assimilation ≠ liberation. When we talk about diversity and inclusion, we necessarily position marginalized groups as naturally needing to assimilate into dominant ones, rather than to undermine said structures of domination. Yes, we need jobs; we need education; we need to access various resources. What we don’t need is to relegate ourselves to the position of depending on someone else to offer us inclusion and access to those resources. Inclusion is something they must give, but our liberation is something we will take. The cost of assimilation is always in the well-being and lives of those who are not close enough to power to be able to assimilate. Another less popular expression of our expression more sharply calls attention to these dangers of uncritical integrationism: assimilation = death.
Kẏra is a Chinese-Amerikan trans woman working to create space for radical racial justice through technology where progress has been limited to liberal white feminism. She serves on the board of directors of the Free Culture Foundation and founded the Empowermentors Collective, a skillshare, discussion, and support network for trans, disabled, and queer people of color who share a critical interest in race, gender, and technology. She Tweets in spurts and bouts @kxra.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
The West is Manufacturing Muslim Monsters. Who Should be Blamed for Muslim Terrorism? by ANDRE VLTCHEK
|photos from Afghanistan in 70s, before CIA promoting Islam fundamentalists|
A hundred years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have a pair of Muslim men enter a cafe or a public transportation vehicle, and then blow themselves up, killing dozens. Or to massacre the staff of a satirical magazine in Paris! Things like that were simply not done.
When you read the memoirs of Edward Said, or talk to old men and women in East Jerusalem, it becomes clear that the great part of Palestinian society used to be absolutely secular and moderate. It cared about life, culture, and even fashion, more than about religious dogmas.
The same could be said about many other Muslim societies, including those of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. Old photos speak for themselves. That is why it is so important to study old images again and again, carefully.
Islam is not only a religion; it is also an enormous culture, one of the greatest on Earth, which has enriched our humanity with some of the paramount scientific and architectural achievements, and with countless discoveries in the field of medicine. Muslims have written stunning poetry, and composed beautiful music. But above all, they developed some of the earliest social structures in the world, including enormous public hospitals and the first universities on earth, like The University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.
The idea of ‘social’ was natural to many Muslim politicians, and had the West not brutally interfered, by overthrowing left-wing governments and putting on the throne fascist allies of London, Washington and Paris; almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders.
In the past, countless Muslim leaders stood up against the Western control of the world, and enormous figures like the Indonesian President, Ahmet Sukarno, were close to Communist Parties and ideologies. Sukarno even forged a global anti-imperialist movement, the Non-Allied movement, which was clearly defined during the Bandung Conference in Indonesia, in 1955.
That was in striking contrast to the conservative, elites-oriented Christianity, which mostly felt at home with the fascist rulers and colonialists, with the kings, traders and big business oligarchs.
For the Empire, the existence and popularity of progressive, Marxist, Muslim rulers governing the Middle East or resource-rich Indonesia, was something clearly unacceptable. If they were to use the natural wealth to improve the lives of their people, what was to be left for the Empire and its corporations? It had to be stopped by all means. Islam had to be divided, and infiltrated with radicals and anti-Communist cadres, and by those who couldn’t care less about the welfare of their people.
Almost all radical movements in today’s Islam, anywhere in the world, are tied to Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative, reactionary sect of Islam, which is in control of the political life of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other staunch allies of the West in the Gulf.
To quote Dr. Abdullah Mohammad Sindi:
“It is very clear from the historical record that without British help neither Wahhabism nor the House of Saud would be in existence today. Wahhabism is a British-inspired fundamentalist movement in Islam. Through its defense of the House of Saud, the US also supports Wahhabism directly and indirectly regardless of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Wahhabism is violent, right wing, ultra-conservative, rigid, extremist, reactionary, sexist, and intolerant…”
The West gave full support to the Wahhabis in the 1980s. They were employed, financed and armed, after the Soviet Union was dragged into Afghanistan and into a bitter war that lasted from 1979 to 1989. As a result of this war, the Soviet Union collapsed, exhausted both economically and psychologically.
The Mujahedeen, who were fighting the Soviets as well as the left-leaning government in Kabul, were encouraged and financed by the West and its allies. They came from all corners of the Muslim world, to fight a ‘Holy War’ against Communist infidels.
According to the US Department of State archives:
“Contingents of so-called Afghan Arabs and foreign fighters who wished to wage jihad against the atheist communists. Notable among them was a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden, whose Arab group eventually evolved into al-Qaeda.”
Muslim radical groups created and injected into various Muslim countries by the West included al-Qaeda, but also, more recently, ISIS (also known as ISIL). ISIS is an extremist army that was born in the ‘refugee camps’ on the Syrian/Turkish and Syrian/Jordanian borders, and which was financed by NATO and the West to fight the Syrian (secular) government of Bashar al-Assad.
Such radical implants have been serving several purposes. The West uses them as proxies in the wars it is fighting against its enemies – the countries that are still standing in the way to the Empire’s complete domination of the world. Then, somewhere down the road, after these extremist armies ‘get totally out of control’ (and they always will), they could serve as scarecrows and as justification for the ‘The War On Terror’, or, like after ISIS took Mosul, as an excuse for the re-engagement of Western troops in Iraq.
Stories about the radical Muslim groups have constantly been paraded on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, or shown on television monitors, reminding readers ‘how dangerous the world really is’, ‘how important Western engagement in it is’, and consequently, how important surveillance is, how indispensable security measures are, as well as tremendous ‘defense’ budgets and wars against countless rogue states.
From a peaceful and creative civilization, that used to lean towards socialism, the Muslim nations and Islam itself, found itself to be suddenly derailed, tricked, outmaneuvered, infiltrated by foreign religious and ideological implants, and transformed by the Western ideologues and propagandists into one ‘tremendous threat’; into the pinnacle and symbol of terrorism and intolerance.
The situation has been thoroughly grotesque, but nobody is really laughing – too many people have died as a result; too much has been destroyed!
Indonesia is one of the most striking historical examples of how such mechanisms of the destruction of progressive Muslim values, really functions:
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the US, Australia and the West in general, were increasingly ‘concerned’ about the progressive anti-imperialist and internationalist stand of President Sukarno, and about the increasing popularity of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). But they were even more anxious about the enlightened, socialist and moderate Indonesian brand of Islam, which was clearly allying itself with Communist ideals.
Christian anti-Communist ideologues and ‘planners’, including the notorious Jesuit Joop Beek, infiltrated Indonesia. They set up clandestine organizations there, from ideological to paramilitary ones, helping the West to plan the coup that in and after 1965 took between 1 and 3 million human lives.
Shaped in the West, the extremely effective anti-Communist and anti-intellectual propaganda spread by Joop Beek and his cohorts also helped to brainwash many members of large Muslim organizations, propelling them into joining the killing of Leftists, immediately after the coup. Little did they know that Islam, not only Communism, was chosen as the main target of the pro-Western, Christian ‘fifth column’ inside Indonesia, or more precisely, the target was the left-leaning, liberal Islam.
After the 1965 coup, the Western-sponsored fascist dictator, General Suharto, used Joop Beek as his main advisor. He also relied on Beek’s ‘students’, ideologically. Economically, the regime related itself with mainly Christian business tycoons, including Liem Bian Kie.
In the most populous Muslim nation on earth, Indonesia, Muslims were sidelined, their ‘unreliable’ political parties banned during the dictatorship, and both the politics (covertly) and economy (overtly) fell under the strict control of Christian, pro-Western minority. To this day, this minority has its complex and venomous net of anti-Communist warriors, closely-knit business cartels and mafias, media and ‘educational outlets’ including private religious schools, as well as corrupt religious preachers (many played a role in the 1965 massacres), and other collaborators with both the local and global regime.
Indonesian Islam has been reduced to a silent majority, mostly poor and without any significant influence. It only makes international headlines when its frustrated white-robed militants go trashing bars, or when its extremists, many related to the Mujahedeen and the Soviet-Afghan War, go blowing up nightclubs, hotels or restaurants in Bali and Jakarta.
Or do they even do that, really?
Former President of Indonesia and progressive Muslim cleric, Abdurrahman Wahid (forced out of office by the elites), once told me: “I know who blew up the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. It was not an attack by the Islamists; it was done by the Indonesian secret services, in order to justify their existence and budget, and to please the West.”
“I would argue that western imperialism has not so much forged an alliance with radical factions, as created them”, I was told, in London, by my friend, and leading progressive Muslim intellectual, Ziauddin Sardar.
And Mr. Sardar continued:
“We need to realize that colonialism did much more than simply damage Muslim nations and cultures. It played a major part in the suppression and eventual disappearance of knowledge and learning, thought and creativity, from Muslim cultures. Colonial encounter began by appropriating the knowledge and learning of Islam, which became the basis of the ‘European Renaissance’ and ‘the Enlightenment’ and ended by eradicating this knowledge and learning from both Muslim societies and from history itself. It did that both by physical elimination – destroying and closing down institutions of learning, banning certain types of indigenous knowledge, killing off local thinkers and scholars – and by rewriting History as the history of western civilization into which all minor histories of other civilization are subsumed.”
From the hopes of those post-WWII years, to the total gloom of the present days – what a long and terrible journey it has been!
The Muslim world is now injured, humiliated and confused, almost always on the defensive.
It is misunderstood by the outsiders, and often even by its own people who are frequently forced to rely on Western and Christian views of the world.
What used to make the culture of Islam so attractive – tolerance, learning, concern for the wellbeing of the people – has been amputated from the Muslim realm, destroyed from abroad. What was left was only religion.
Now most of the Muslim countries are ruled by despots, by the military or corrupt cliques. All of them closely linked with the West and its global regime and interests.
As they did in several great nations and Empires of South and Central America, as well as Africa, Western invaders and colonizers managed to totally annihilate great Muslim cultures.
What forcefully replaced them were greed, corruption and brutality.
It appears that everything that is based on different, non-Christian foundations is being reduced to dust by the Empire. Only the biggest and toughest cultures are still surviving.
Anytime a Muslim country tries to go back to its essence, to march its own, socialist or socially-oriented way – be it Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, or much more recently Iraq, Libya or Syria – it gets savagely tortured and destroyed.
The will of its people is unceremoniously broken, and democratically expressed choices overthrown.
For decades, Palestine has been denied freedom, as well as its basic human rights. Both Israel and the Empire spit at its right to self-determination. Palestinian people are locked in a ghetto, humiliated, and murdered. Religion is all that some of them have left.
The ‘Arab Spring’ was derailed and terminated almost everywhere, from Egypt to Bahrain, and the old regimes and military are back in power.
Like African people, Muslims are paying terrible price for being born in countries rich in natural resources. But they are also brutalized for having, together with China, the greatest civilization in history, one that outshone all the cultures of the West.
Christianity looted and brutalized the world. Islam, with its great Sultans such as Saladin, stood against invaders, defending the great cities of Aleppo and Damascus, Cairo and Jerusalem. But overall, it was more interested in building a great civilization, than in pillaging and wars.
Now hardly anyone in the West knows about Saladin or about the great scientific, artistic or social achievements of the Muslim world. But everybody is ‘well informed’ about ISIS. Of course they know ISIS only as an ‘Islamic extremist group’, not as one of the main Western tools used to destabilize the Middle East.
As ‘France is mourning’ the deaths of the journalists at the offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo (undeniably a terrible crime!), all over Europe it is again Islam which is being depicted as brutal and militant, not the West with its post-Crusade, Christian fundamentalist doctrines that keeps overthrowing and slaughtering all moderate, secular and progressive governments and systems in the Muslim world, leaving Muslim people at the mercy of deranged fanatics.
In the last five decades, around 10 million Muslims have been murdered because their countries did not serve the Empire, or did not serve it full-heartedly, or just were in the way. The victims were Indonesians, Iraqis, Algerians, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Iranians, Yemenis, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, and the citizens of Mali, Somalia, Bahrain and many other countries.
The West identified the most horrible monsters, threw billions of dollars at them, armed them, gave them advanced military training, and then let them loose.
The countries that are breeding terrorism, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are some of the closest allies of the West, and have never been punished for exporting horror all over the Muslim world.
Great social Muslim movements like Hezbollah, which is presently engaged in mortal combat against the ISIS, but which also used to galvanize Lebanon during its fight against the Israeli invasion, are on the “terrorist lists” compiled by the West. It explains a lot, if anybody is willing to pay attention.
Seen from the Middle East, it appears that the West, just as during the crusades, is aiming at the absolute destruction of Muslim countries and the Muslim culture.
As for the Muslim religion, the Empire only accepts the sheepish brands – those that accept extreme capitalism and the dominant global position of the West. The only other tolerable type of Islam is that which is manufactured by the West itself, and by its allies in the Gulf – designated to fight against progress and social justice; the one that is devouring its own people.
*Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. ‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. His feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” is about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
Monday, December 15, 2014
The current economic crisis may be another bump on capitalism’s always dizzying terrain, or it may signal epochal changes. The crisis of the financial markets has taken on gargantuan proportions.
This spring saw the emergency sale of Bear Stearns, the fifth largest financial institution on Wall Street, to JP Morgan for a paltry sum by “Master of the Universe” standards, including its flashy corporate headquarters and thousands of employees. Even this sale only came about because the US Federal Reserve agreed to cover the risks of exposure to creditors, pushing the financial costs onto US taxpayers. Despite this bailout and other interventions in the supposed “free market,” the financial system is still reeling. Credit liquidity has disappeared, causing shockwaves in student loans and other areas.
With the increase in fuel prices and contracting supply of basic resources such as food and water, many commentators think far worse is still to come. Dmitry Orlov’s Reinventing Collapse (New Society Press) argues that the United States is headed for an imminent economic meltdown that will be as devastating as the fall of the USSR in the 1990s: “Try to form a picture in your mind: it is a superpower, it is huge, it is powerful, and it is going to come crashing down,” he writes. “You or me trying to do something about it would have the same effect as you or me wriggling our toes at a tsunami.”
“Life without money is unthinkable”
According to Orlov, an engineer and peak oil theorist, the causes of this crash include ideological gridlock, the entrenched corruption of our corporate state, the massive debt piled on by heedless US policies, and our utter dependence on a rapidly diminishing supply of fossil fuels. Predicting mass bankruptcy, hyperinflation, and resource shortages, Orlov recommends stockpiling items that can be bartered on the black market, such as razors, condoms, and liquor, strengthening local communities, and learning how to grow your own food. “For most people in the US, rich or poor, life without money is unthinkable,” he notes. “They may want to give this problem some thought, ahead of time.”
While the fire-sale of Bear Stearns was being arranged, I was at the Left Forum at Cooper Union in New York, an annual gathering of Leftist academics and organizers from around the world. The Left Forum featured over 100 panels on a range of subjects, from water privatization, CIA torture, to the leftward shift of South America, and many other topics. I had been invited to speak on a panel about indigenous cultures, consciousness, and social transformation – the only place at the Left Forum where social movements were even summarily discussed in relation to indigenous cultures who live “with” the earth, and not “on” it, as my fellow panelist, Tiokasin, a radio host at WBAI and a Lakota, put it, and non-ordinary states of awareness were given a nod.
During a panel on the “Decline of the Dollar,” I was struck by a comment from David Harvey – an eminence grise among Leftist academics, the esteemed author of Limits to Capital and other works – who noted that Wall Street bonuses in January amounted to an astounding $36 billion, despite the heedless actions of the traders and investment houses that caused the implosion of the financial markets. At the same time, due to the subprime mortgage meltdown, over a million people have already seen their homes foreclosed, with nearly two million more foreclosures coming in the near-future, leading to more than three million US citizens deprived of their largest and most central asset. What Harvey noted is that, if we ignore the “fetishized mystical language” of the financial elite, “The loss of assets of those three million people is where those $36 billion of bonuses came from.”
Apparently, another 8 million-plus homes-more than 10 percent of the homes owned in the US-are now valued at less than the outstanding mortgages owed. What this means is that many of those mortgage-holders may soon find it more sensible to walk away from their property – sending their keys back to the mortgage-issuers as “jingle mail” – rather than continue to cover their exorbitant debt. As a chain-reaction, this will increase the devaluation of US property.
At the same time, the next phase of the current economic crisis will extend to other forms of personal debt, such as credit cards. While the US and European Central Banks continue to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial institutions that created this disaster through predatory lending practices, they have done little for the millions of poorer people facing insolvency.
As another Leftist economist noted on the same panel, one can only feel “a sense of awe” at the lack of real protest about what is taking place.
In 2006, I published my second book, 2012 : The Return of Quetzalcoatl, which studied the prophesies of indigenous people indicating we are in a time of massive transformation – the transition from the “Fourth World” to the “Fifth World” according to the Hopi. Based on my book, I often find myself looking over my shoulder, wondering if current events fit the prophetic timetable of the Mayan Calendar. Although the validity of Carl Johan Calleman’s scholarship has been called into question by John Major Jenkins and others, it is interesting that Calleman predicted the current year (November 2007 – November 2008) to be the year of Tezcatlipoca – sinister deity of black magic and the jaguar – marked by economic collapse, war, and other threats.
On the one hand, I found many reasons for taking “2012” seriously as a threshold of some type of tremendous transition in human culture and consciousness, based on my research, my own synchronicities as well as esoteric and intuitive experiences. On the other hand, studies of the current state of global society insist that massive and accelerating change is unavoidable in all areas of life. The future of humanity is imperiled if we do not transform our social practices and fundamental paradigm within the next years.
Such a hypothesis is reinforced by many recent developments, from the sudden disappearance of honeybees and Chinook salmon to the comment made by a famous financier to a friend, later recounted to me, that currency will have no value in a few years, and the only thing that will be worth anything will be land. One of the depressing aspects of the Left Forum, along with the average age of the audience being well above fifty, was the palpable ambience of failure and defeatism in the crowd. Certainly, the last thirty-five years have been a miserable period for radicals in the US, who have watched the oligarchy consolidate power, instituting elements of a police state, and holding tight control of the mass media.
Crucial ideas and possibilities can vanish completely for a time – even for an entire generation – before they return with a new force and impetus, to start a new turn on the spiral. This has been the case with shamanic exploration of non-ordinary consciousness, which has made a resurgence in recent years in a wiser and more mature form than in the 1960s. Similarly, it is possible that the moment has arrived when a populist radical movement could reconstitute itself, and this could happen at a rapid pace. Radical movements often burst forth when theorists, sociologists, and academics least expect it. They arise when masses of fed-up people begin to seek direct redress against a system that has exploited and enslaved them.
That our financial system is fixed to reward a miniscule subset of the global population, the “ruling elite” who control the financial sector, is a realization that could begin to permeate the mass consciousness. Social awareness can only increase as the destructive delusions of the dominant ideology become more obvious. With the intermeshed networks of contemporary life, a new realization could spread rapidly, along with techniques to confront a system that has failed to protect the poor and the planet. The incredible mismanagement of the earth’s precious resources – the squandering of oceans, forests, animals, and air – is an indictment against the current order and its leaders. The continuity of this system is a direct threat to future generations. Although it seems unstoppable and unassailable, this system is also quite frail, utterly dependent on petroleum, on the effectiveness of constant media indoctrination, and on increasingly complicated technologies.
While most mainstream commentators and even some of the critics at the Left Forum argue that the current implosion of the financial markets is one of the periodic crises of capitalism that eventually gets resolved through institutional measures and bailouts, it actually may be far more than that. This may be neither a crisis of “liquidity” nor even one of insolvency, but a crisis of money itself- in other words, a crisis of faith in the entire belief system of capitalism, which has functioned as a displacement of religion, with money substituting for the banished god. As Karl Marx noted in his 1844 Manuscripts, money is “the visible divinity” in a capitalist world:
“By possessing the property of buying everything, by possessing the property of appropriating all objects, money is thus the object of eminent possession. The universality of its property is the omnipotence of its being. It therefore functions as almighty being. Money is the pimp between man’s need and the object, between his life and his means of life. But that which mediates my life for me, also mediates the existence of other people for me. For me it is the other person.”
When I reread some of Marx last year, for the first time since school, I was startled to encounter the tremendous depth of spiritual insight in his work. The radical essence of his thought has been obscured by the course of history, and by the desire to deny, suppress, and evade it, ever since.
Marx saw that the revolutions of the 18th Century enshrined the rights of the bourgeois individual to compete against others, rather than realizing man as a “species-being” who can only attain freedom through his communion with other men: “None of these so-called rights of man goes beyond the egoistic man, beyond man as a member of civil society, as man separated from life in the community and withdrawn into himself, into his private interest and his private arbitrary will. They see, rather, the life of the species itself, society, as a frame external to individuals, as a limitation of their original independence,” he wrote in “The Jewish Question.” Freedom was defined negatively, creating a social reality in which each individual had to struggle against others to preserve and increase their private domain.
As David Korten, Bernard Letaier, and others have written recently, our basic financial system in itself creates artificial scarcity, and induces competition and sociopathic behavior patterns that lead inexorably to disregard of the environment and mistreatment of others. When a bank gives out a loan to someone, they are not creating the extra money that the individual has to make as interest accrues. When they examine that person’s credit, they are checking to see if that person has the capacity to compete effectively in the marketplace and come up with the accrued interest, which is imaginary capital at the outset. The individual then struggles against others to retrieve the money he owes. Similarly, publicly traded corporations must maximize profits to satisfy shareholders, and this forces an institutional disregard for environirierital safeguards and humane practices.
Over the last decade, the deregulation of the financial system “acted like psychotropic drugs on the minds of investors,” as one Left Forum panelist noted, unleashing increasingly rapacious and mindless greed. Pushed to its limit, the logic of the system reveals itself in transparent form. The subprime mortgage market offered loans to people with little or nothing in the way of assets or collateral that began at a low rate of interest and then ballooned to massive rates later. These predatory loans were then bundled together and sold as securities, given class “AAA” status by regulatory bodies that had little interest in compelling restraint. These securities based on corrupted loans were meshed with other types of assets and securities and sold up the financial pyramid. As in the classic pyramid scheme, when the debtors at the bottom start to default, the rotten edifice comes tumbling down.
At the same time, the crumbling of this scam is revealing deep levels of tulip-style mania in the banks and financial institutions, which had developed highly convoluted mechanisms for extracting profits by lending vast, and nonexistent, sums to each other for short-term periods. While commentators think that the amount of actual wealth that is going to disappear from the world economy is $1.5 – $2 trillion, the amount of imaginary capital traded in rapid fashion to amp up artificial profits was exponentially higher than this number. At a time when credit has evaporated, whoever gets caught holding the i.o.u.’s for these massive amounts faces instant insolvency.
It appears that unleashed greed incited by deregulation of the markets has led to a massive implosion of the financial apparatus that may not be fixable within the current system. This crisis may have its roots in the early 1970s, when the US took the dollar off the gold standard, and the untethered US dollar became the global reserve currency, forcing the developing world to adopt it for international transactions and debt repayment. The building of the World Trade Centers could be seen as symbolizing the shift of the focus of the US economy from productive industry to finance capitalism, as the parasitical system of speculation on derivatives and currencies became the central wealth-producing engine within the US. The lack of US productivity coupled with a virtualized currency with no real-world referent has led to the amassing of extraordinary debt, on an individual and societal level.
The crisis may actually have far deeper roots, going back to the basis of capitalism itself, an economic system that constantly requires new markets to penetrate and cannot sustain itself without continually extending its reach. In a fully globalized world, where there are no new markets to reach or new resources to exploit, capitalism may have reached its natural limit. It is also imprecise to call the current system “capitalist” in a classical sense, as it is actually one where massive subsidies protect vested interests, from agricultural lobbies to oil companies, and the ideal of a “free market” is a convenient fiction.
In a fully globalized world, the Neoliberal model can only perpetuate itself through the types of shock effects described by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine, where destruction is encouraged and then seized upon as an opportunity to redevelop and recolonize areas already within empire. One of the panelists at the Left Forum described the mortgage meltdown as a “financial Katrina” that will allow wealthy speculators to take over urban neighborhoods where poor people have suffered mass defaults. The disastrous consequences of rampant privatization are increasingly obvious, as services become weaker, corruption increases, and prices rise.
End of the current economic paradigm
Considering the extent of delusional capital now underlying the financial system, it is possible that the current crisis could be pointing toward the end of the current economic paradigm. This could mean a real trans-valuation of our world. As Marx points out, the function of money was to transform all qualities to quantities that are ultimately equivalent. Money “is the true agent of separation as well as the true binding agent – the [universal] galvano-chemical power of society,” Marx writes in The 1844 Manuscripts. Money-as-mediator and ultimate arbiter seeks to reduce all qualities to quantities, but fails because it reduces everything to sameness, with the Midas touch of nihilism. Love and trust are basic values that elude the mediation of money.
In his great book The Gift, Lewis Hyde contrasts our modern market economy with the gift-based economies of tribal and indigenous cultures. He writes, “The desire to consume is a kind of lust. We long to have the world flow through us like air or food. We are thirsty and hungry for something that can only be carried inside bodies. But consumer goods merely bait this lust, they do not satisfy it. The consumer of commodities is invited to a meal without passion, a consumption that leads to neither satiation nor fire.” The gift, on the other hand, renews the communal bond, and requires reciprocity as well as trust. Hyde writes:
The gift moves toward the empty place. As it turns in its circle it turns toward him who has been empty-handed the longest, and if someone appears elsewhere whose need is greater it leaves its old channel and moves toward him. Our generosity may leave us empty, but our emptiness then pulls gently at the whole until the thing in motion returns to replenish us.”
If modern society reduces all value to a universal exchange of quantities, indigenous cultures were conscious of qualities that did not allow for perfect equivalences of exchange. Ultimately, it was the state of mind and heart of the giver that mattered, not the objectified value of an object.
The current economic crisis may be resolved – at least temporarily – by an international agreement between oligarchic forces that will lead to some bail outs and a renegotiation, and severe reduction, of American power in the world. Or it may be that the glue that has held together the international monetary order is coming undone, in which case a deeper process of transformation may take place.
If this is the case, then the social agreement that is money itself may be up for discussion, and the nature of value may change yet again. In other words, the current economic crisis may represent, not just a reordering of power and finance in the world, but a deeper expression of a crisis of value, and the opportunity to begin the pendulum swing back again, from an economy based on the meaningless exchange of nihilistic quantities to a different model of economy that would require alternative institutions and techniques to support the socially cohesive expression of values-based qualities.
First published: Fifth Estate, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Today, we were on streets for Alexis who was murdered by Greek State and for Nikos Romanos who has been on hunger strike for 26 days against the repression of the same state.
Today, we were on streets for our sisters and brothers who have been murdered while resisting in Greece, in Ferguson, in Mexico, in Kobanê.
Today, we were on streets for Berkin, Ali İsmail, Ethem, Arin, Kader, Suphi Nejat.
As states kill our sisters and brothers all over the world; we, revolutionary anarchists were onthe streets with our anger against states, capitalists, companies and murderers. Despite of the fact that the police held up our way and attacked us with plastic bullets, tear gas bombs and batons; they couldn't achieve to supress our anger. We resisted with our black flags while rising out our slogans.
This passion for freedom is getting bigger today; the anger for those who have been murdered by state flare up our riot.
Revolutionary Anarchist Action
salutes comrade Nikos Romanos' and his resistance.
Video of this action:
Statement that read after police attack:
Today, with all the range against powers that seizes lives, with the conviction to a free world, the black flags are waved all around the world. Against companies that exploit our labour to profit more; against states that murders many of us in the name of the borders they drew; against all powers that fill their pockets with our lives that they destroy, making us poorer and making the rich richer; rebellion is alive in the rage of anachism. The rage against bosses, companies, murderers and states, is propagating in full flood with the black flags. The sorrow of being neglected, dissapeared and murdered, is now turing into anger, and the street are burning with the rage all over.
Exactly 6 yers ago, in Exerchia neignourhood of Athens, murdered because he was an anarchist, at the age of 16, was Alexandros Grigoropulos. Murdered by a cop, with the bullet from his gun, because he transformed his anger into rebellion and went on the street, calling to account for the lives being seized, becuase he didn't obey the powers and he was resisting at all costs for freedom. On the day of December 6, 2008, The bullet that ran into Alexis's chest turned in the fire of revolt in the streets. Even though the murderers continued their attacks, the rage against the ones that silenced a heart that was beating for freedom, burned the streets into flames in Athens, in Thessaloniki, in Istanbul and everywhere.
Nikos Romanos, who was with Alexis the day he was murdered and who also had the same conviction for a free world, is now captivated because he is an anarchist. Romanos is captivated because he was not silent against injustice, because he didn't give up despite state oppresion, because with the same conviction of his murdered comrade, he kept on the struggle against all powers. The ones who think they can terminate this struggle by murdering Alexis, are now captivating Nikos hoping to stop another heart that is beating with the conviction for anarchism. Just like in 2008, the steets are filled with anger against the state that continue to attack Romanos with all its isolation, oppresion and torture. As Romanos continues his hunger strike since 10th of Novembre, other anarchist comrades in captive also start hunger strikes in solidarity; universities are occupied; and the same voice echoes in burning streets, in cells resisiting captive: "As long as we are alive and we breate, long live anarchy!"
The powers that murdered Alexis in 2008 and that captivate Nikos today think that they can silence the rage against injustice that is growing in every part of the world. They continue to captivate, attack and murder under this illusion.
In Mexico, 43 students resisting politics of the powers seizing their future, had disappeared by the hand of state; and their bodies are found in mass graves after many days. Just because they are black, the people targeted by fasist repression of the power, become the targets of bullets shot by the police; and the ones who resist being taken to custody are strangling and murdered by the police. Many of our brothers like Berkin, Ethem Ali, Ahmet who resisted for their lives, were murdered by the state police. While the ones resisting in Kobanê to create a new life, like Arin, like Suphi Nejat, like Kader, are murdered by the gangs, military and soldiers of the state; the ones who are on the streets in every corner of the region embracing Kobanê resistance, like Hakan, like Mahsun, are the targeted by the murderer police of the same state...
Wherever the ones who call to account for injustice, who resist to win their lives, who struggle with their conviction of freedom are on the streets; there is the adress for oppression, torture and massacre. The oppressors who think that they can discourage the ones who don't obey them by captivating, kidnapping or murdering; a cry of freedom raised in one place is echoed from every direction. From the cells of Athens to Mexico, from the streets of Ferguson to Istanbul, to the free lands of Kobanê, the convision for a new world is propagating in full flood. Now, this passion for freedom is getting bigger; the rage for the murders is flaring up the fire of revolt in hearts.
This revolt is against the powers that seize our lives, that intend to destroy our freedom, that murder us. This revolt is against capitalism and the states. This revolt is against all kinds of captivity.
With this revolt for freedom in our hearts, anarchism is growing in every part of the world.
And our struggle is growing from one corner of the world to another, carried by the waves of the black flags.
Long live Revolution, long live anarchy!
Revolutionary Anarchist Action (DAF)
Lycee Aanrchist Action (LAF)
Anarchist Youth (AG)
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Black Lives Matters! Ferguson is burning after grand jury decision of no-charges for police officer who killed Michael Brown LIVE REPORT
Ferguson, Missouri, erupts in violence after grand jury verdict not to charge Darren Wilson for shooting dead unarmed black teenager Michael Brown - follow live updates
VOID NETWORK expresses solidarity for the uncompromised struggle of people all over Amerikkka against the police brutality and the totalitarian "justice" regime that offers to any policeman the right to kill people in the streets with "no-charges" for centuries now! This has to end NOW, the state can not shoot us anymore and no one cares...WE CARE!
DEATH TO THE TYRANNES! FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
13.30 It's now 7.30am in Ferguson.
• Darren Wilson, the policeman who was cleared last night of charges relating to the shooting of Michael Brown, has still not been seen.
• Police confirm that 61 people were arrested, 150 gunshots were fired, and a dozen buildings burnt.
• Following the verdict, at around 8pm in Missouri, protests were staged in New York, Chicago, California and Seattle.
13.02 An update on the arrests overnight.
St Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman said there were 61 arrests in Ferguson overnight, many for burglary and trespassing.
Francis Slay, the mayor of St Louis, said there were 21 arrests in his city, where some protesters broke business windows.
11.28 Jon Belmar, St Louis County police chief, has just been speaking about the damage overnight.
He said that at least a dozen buildings were torched and that he counted about 150 gunshots during a night of looting, vandalism, arson and clashes between demonstrators and police that resulted in at least 29 arrests.
Flights over the area were restricted and police struggled to contain protesters who took to the streets of Ferguson, a suburb of St Louis, smashing shop windows and torching cars and businesses despite President Barack Obama's calls for restraint.
Although no serious injuries were reported, Mr Belmar said the rioting on Monday night and early Tuesday morning was "much worse" than disturbances which erupted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug 9.
REPORT by Raf Sanchez, Ferguson for Telegraph.uk
For a few brief moments, the crowd outside the Ferguson police headquarters fell silent.
The cries of “hands up, don’t shoot” were hushed as hundreds of demonstrators - many concealing their faces behind balaclavas and Guy Fawkes masks - strained to hear the news coming over the car radio.
They listened as the St Louis County prosecutor announced what to many was a foregone conclusion: the white police officer who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, would not face criminal charges.
And then the crowd was silent no more.
The streets of Ferguson erupted in fury once again after a grand jury decided not to charge Officer Darren Wilson with any crime for the August shooting.
Demonstrators vented months of pent-up anger on the streets outside the police department where Mr Wilson once worked, looting and burning shops, setting fire to police cars and hurling bricks at the lines of riot police who challenged them.
In a grim replay of the violence that wracked this Missouri city over the summer, heavily-armed police responded to the sound of gunshots with tear gas and rolled through the streets in armoured vehicles.
Police reported hearing “heavy automatic gunfire” in Ferguson while fires broke out in neighbouring Dellwood and looting was reported in St Louis. A police officer in University City, a few miles south, was shot but it was unclear if the incident was related to the protests in Ferguson.
The clashes began shortly after 8pm, when Robert McCulloch, the St Louis County prosecuting attorney, announced that the 12 jurors - nine white and three black - had decided not to bring charges.
"They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson," he said.
Mr Brown’s parents immediately released a statement saying they were “profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequences of his actions”.
But Michael Brown Senior and Lesley McSpadden, who have taken their campaign for justice for their son as far as the United Nations in Geneva, also appealed for calm, asking the protesters to “channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change”.
Their plea was echoed by President Barack Obama, who made a late-night appearance at the White House to remind demonstrators that the US was “a nation built on the rule of law”.
But by the time Mr Obama appeared, the television networks were already splitting their screens between the White House briefing room and the violence on South Florissant Road in Ferguson.
Rioters began by smashing the windows of sandwich shops
directly next door to the police headquarters, ignoring the festive letters spelling out “Seasons Greetings” between two telephone poles.
But they moved quickly from breaking windows to setting fire to unprotected police cars. One young black man, who would not give his name, looked on approvingly as a squad car burned, the ammunition stored inside it crackling in the heat.
“These cops can go around and kill our people and absolutely nothing happens to them,” the young man said. “We can’t get justice in the courts so we need to take it for ourselves.”
Police had initially maintained a light presence, with only a handful of officers visible and none in riot gear.
But as the crowd’s anger mounted, a phalanx of police surged into view, carrying shields and batons and forming a line beneath the American flag outside their headquarters.
Soon a column of armoured vehicles began to roll north from the direction of the motorway. An oddly-nasal voice rang out over vehicle speakers and into the freezing night: “You must stop throwing projectiles at police. You are unlawfully assembled. You must disperse.”
When words proved insufficient the teargas followed. Canisters rattled at the feet of the demonstrators and painful smoke billowed out, filling throats and leaving eyes watering in pain.
The violence came in fits and starts and at times the demonstrators were happy to stand before the row of police shields and hurl abuse at the officers behind them.
The largely-black crowd saved their angriest taunts for the African-American police officers. “Traitors!” shouted one man as a black officer watch impassively from behind a visor. “If that was your son, you wouldn’t be standing there.”
Many of the young African-American men were equally disdainful of Mr Obama and his appeals for calm from hundreds of miles away.
“The President is not even one of us, I would say that to his face,” said a man who identified himself as “Faze”. He pointed to the fact Mr Obama’s father was a Kenyan immigrant, rather than the descendant of slaves. “He doesn't get it, he doesn’t know what’s happening here.”
Darren Wilson, the police officer whose bullets ripped through the facade of what some call “post-racial” America, has been in hiding since August and did not appear after being cleared by the grand jury.
His lawyers released a statement saying that “law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions. Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law.”
Five hours after the grand jury announcement, a dozen buildings were reported to have been consumed by flame, along with a number of cars that were set alight.
But not all the demonstrators who appeared to protest the jury’s decision turned to violence. One large group remained outside the police station, banging drums and chanting: “This is what community looks like.”
At the corner of South Florissant Road and Suburban Avenue, Shala Jones stood holding her three year-old daughter, Lonnie.
“I’m here tonight because this is her future,” said Ms Jones, as she tucked a blanket closer around her child. “Young black children need to know they can be safe in America.”
SOURCE: The Telegraph.uk
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Welcome to African Anarchism! Void Network introduces a site that is intended to be a resource for anarchists and other anti-authoritarian revolutionary socialists in Africa, and for all those interested in the liberation of this most exploited continent.
the site is:
Africa has endured centuries of suffering and deprivation in a world of plenty. Capitalism has indisputably failed to provide even a minimum standard of living to Africans. The authoritarian capitalists who called themselves "state socialists" have also proved to offer no answers to the problems of the continent.
In this context anarchism is not merely one solution, it is the only possible solution that can allow the African masses to fulfill their longings for a life free from misery and exploitation. In the last few years anarchist groups and individuals have started to emerge across the continent, although these are still small shoots, they are a beginning and once they spread anarchism should prove to be a very powerful force in Africa. The African masses have little to lose, once they throw off their mental chains, global capitalism will shudder under their mighty revolutionary force.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult for African workers to communicate to the outside world, since access to technology in Africa is extremely limited, so very often, the information contained in these pages provides more questions than answers. We are always looking for more information about anarchism in Africa, so if you can add anything to what we have here; news about movements, libertarian analysis or other interesting matter, please contact the site: http://www.struggle.ws/africa/