Monthly Archives: November 2008

A Note On Demands

 

relevant commentary behind the link

relevant commentary behind the link

 

 

The need for strategy, as a series of thought experiments, seems to derive itself from the nature of our demands.

I see these demands as being preformed on ourselves, other within our communities and those outside of our communities whom we would hope to organize in solidarity with. Thus, demands need to take into account the intellectual climate of each of these communities and the capability for praxis. For instance if by direct action we mean creating a community space or taking over a house, our ability to do these things effectively means that we need to first demand the necessary actions from ourselves and then make demands (or in a less militant way, ask) our communities and others that we would be in solidarity with to support us.

Strategy, then, is how we would get from point A (having desires) to point B (seeing them realized). Our demands, whether on ourselves or others, therefore have to be understood. With out a basic comprehension of what we are asking (demanding) we cannot hope to organize others, much less ourselves. Being understood, is then a basic starting point for communication and further, education. If we are making demands which the communities we are targeting do not understand, if our demands are not communicable (Obama 08, No Borders, No State), we must do the necessary work to make them so.

this is why I believe that agitation is a necessary component of social change and movement building. We must reach outside of ourselves and ready the earth for our more coherent statements or demands. Much of the times this means asking questions that spur critical thought, that challenge the assumptions on which our demands would otherwise be rejected. By doing this we build infrastructure for critical reflection, communication and solidarity. This infrastructure would be primarily relationships.

The establishment of intellectual infrastructure, prepares networks and infrastructure for action. This is what makes the term “preaching to the choir” relevant. By simply speaking with those already engaged in action ground is not prepared for more widespread action, just deeper actions for those already immersed in the intellectual infrastructure.

This has profound impacts for strategy and demands. Demands need to be made communicable not only by speaking in the language of others, but by doing the dirty work of parsing through the intellectual foundations of ourselves, or communities and other communities. By tilling the soil.

PS: this is not to argue for political pragmatism, simply clarity.

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Money is Irrelevant

paper

paper.

So while in Maine, I had the chance to go to several classes with the friend I was visiting. One of these was a movie night for an African Anthropologies class. The movie covered Somali Bantu refugees who had moved to the US, and showed their struggles to make life work for them.

For me the most depressing part of the movie came when it showed one of the Somali women undergoing work training with Goodwill Industries as one of her commitments for receiving support by an NGO in the US. She is shown learning how to use a buffer during a training. She complains about her kidneys hurting after using the scrubber/buffer for 8 hours.

That was shocking. I got to thinking and all of a sudden the anarchist arguments against work and money finally made sense.

It hit me: Having shiny floors is in no way necessarily connected to having enough food to eat or having a roof over ones head or having a productive satisfying life.

What the fuck… We live in a society that has produced an abundance of food and housing. Why should some people be forced to work in irrelevant jobs which cause them pain, while others have the privilege of working in irrelevant jobs (advertising & finance for example) which bring them access to more than any one could possibly need. More than any thing this is an argument for a radical redistribution of types of labor and less of it, along with the radical realization that money isn’t just a symbol we use to make trade more efficient, but an EXCUSE for why some have less access than others.

Sigh… if only we could create more work for people, so that they could have access to food, housing and healthcare.

P.S. It also, in one fell swoop, makes the financial crisis irrelevant.

Love Me, I’m A Liberal

Fucking liberals.

I am SO down with it remaining a slur, and for not purely sectarian reasons.

While the article above does a good job of problematizing what the term “progressive” really means, I think the term does a good job as a euphemism for an alliance of folks on the left. From communists and some anarchists to non-explicitly-ideological folks like Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman. Euphemistic as it is, I believe it is a good rhetorical tool for folks to play with. As in a previous discussion, naming one’s self and one’s movement creates a certain sense of solidarity even across ideological lines.

One Year Ago

If I’d been paying more attention, I would have noticed that a little less than a week ago marked the one year anniversary of the blockades at the Port of Olympia.

In many ways, the events of those weeks mark a new chapter in my life, the point where I took the plunge into anarchist organizing and to a certain extent, identity. It marked the beginning of very deep concerns around the Iraq war and tied me to it in a very real way. I bonded with so many people in those few days, and some of the people I met and got to know through it I count as some of my best friends.

There is a sort of binding solidarity in mass actions, even through all of the disagreements over tactics and approach that we had in those days, disagreements that are at least thirty years old. I began to take ideological challenge seriously and began putting question marks at the ends of everybody’s sentences and slogans. It heralded in a year of resistance and repression.

Through the onslaught of PTSD and paranoia I began to ask questions about strategy and began to clarify my perceptions of all the various contradictions in the world, cracks in the armor of state control and ideological conditioning.  While watching riot porn, I begin to feel terrified instead of excited, but a sort of terror that comes with a feeling of responsibility. I realize that while riots and confrontation may alienate “the public”, being calm and approachable about your support for militant action can shatter more than a few worlds. In fact they both have grounding in the same intellectual dirt: occupy and defend.

It is by doing both of these things that we can not only put our bodies on the gears of war, not only stop the revolving door of shipments, but by which we can insert ourselves in to so many rhetorical cracks and push and push and push. I don’t agree with Noam Chomsky that anarchists can’t be good at soundbites, that we need more room and space to really get to the meat of our ideas. It’s just that our soundbites are better expressed in questions, skepticism, and challenge. For every thousand justifications for war, and cops, and presidents, one really good question!

The slogan NO WAR BUT DANCE WAR lives tattooed on my arm as a reminder that people who have been beaten by cops for days on end have the best parties.

There will be more reflection.

Upper Middle Class Weight

Wow. So I really did not expect to run headfirst into this. I am realizing that a lot of my stress over finding work likely comes from a good load of upper middle class expectations.

Thinking about it… I got out of high school, went to college, got out of college and after an internship and some traveling, start looking for ways to get paid to do social change work. Not a totally atypical story for someone with leftish politics, and my class standing.

Now after three years of telling my mother I did NOT want to be a professional, I’m busy spending my time trying to find some way to fit my politics into a job structure. Not entirely anarchist of me.

Acknowledging that I want to eat, and live in a house or apartment or something I need to figure out a way to earn money. Up until a few months ago, I was perfectly fine with that way to make money being childcare, but as my travels have gone on and the prospect of being out of money and back home looms the prospect of professionalizing myself bears down on me.

What does professionalizing myself mean? Does it mean getting paid to do something I enjoy? Probably not. Does it mean adhering to authority and exerting authority over others, probably.

So is there a way for me to navigate this minefield? Am I focusing on this part of going on with life to avoid thinking about what other things the change means? Like changing community, safety, responsibility…

ColorBlind : White Supremacy

ipod

Web 2.0 and Progressive Infrastructure

In the last 8 years we have seen the development of Web 2.0 technologies which extend to reporting and muckraking. Sites like DailyKos and Huffington Post have arisen alongside online versions of radical publications such as Znet and Counterpunch. The radical sites have engaged in outing the dirty laundry of self proclaimed “democrats” for a long time, but the rise of mass based progressive outlets is something new to this era.

Will DailyKos and HuffPost maintain their status as primary organizers of thought in the progressive movement? More importantly, if this power remains how will it be used?

I believe there is real possibility that the infrastructure developed during the Bush Administration will be put to use in ways that can serve movements for global justice in the Obama Administration.

For this reason, I have begun to monitor several of these sites and am considering cross-posting future blog entries. The future is unwritten.