Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More Rodney in store

From The Struggle Goes On, a speech by Walter Rodney:

There is no way out under the present system. So we have got to make up our minds what we are deciding now within the Working People's Alliance. It is not simply that the government 'do bad' and they must do better, it is not simply that they must do part good and part bad and they must remedy it. It is not that they must reform. It is not that they must hold another election and rig it all up. We 'finish' we all of that. THEY MUST GO! (Loud applause). THE P.N.C. MUST GO!(Loud applause and cheering). And they must go by any means necessary. (Loud cheering).
They have been accusing us of fermenting violence. They have even had the temerity to say that we are working up hit-lists - assassination lists in which the names of the Prime Minister and Hammy Green and so on appear. Someone who heard that was speaking to me the other day and said, "Well if all you really intend to to assassinate dem fellas, ah tell you something - you gat to join the queue." (Laughter). the guy was asserting his right. He was saying that people were standing up in line before us and that many Guyanese were standing in line. Their 'hit-list' then is ridiculous on many grounds and the people understand it to be ridiculous. We have said that we are not for assassination because politically and ideologically, an assassination is of no value to us. We do not want to replace one individual with another individual of the same type, whether it be for better or worse. I remember when the King Kong was ill, reportedly seriously ill. And many Guyanese, including Christian Guyanese, were praying for the best. (Laughter). And even in those days, we in the W.P.A. used to say that that would not solve any problems. We would not want to concentrate our analysis into thinking that if one man went, then the whole system would be cleaned up. What we wanted was to make the whole system go, and we repeat that now.
And we say further that we do not want those who have been responsible for crimes against Guyanese people assassinated; so if any of you brothers and sisters were thinking along these lines, we ask you to hold your hand because WE WANT THEM ALIVE!(Applause). The time has come when they will have to face the Guyanese people and be brought into account for the many years they thought they were beyond any kind of control on the part of the people. (Applause).
And there is another reason why assassination is not within our political textbook. And that is because assassination is the act of one man - any one man can assassinate a leader. But only the people can make a revolution! (Applause). And the day has to come when the real revolution will begin - the revolution in the economy, the revolution in the society, the revolution to bring us back to a level where we can hold our heads up high. And it is that day that we need the participation of the people. As for the assassination - we are not worried about that. That is something that they are inventing because they have plans for assassination; because they have not only the Rabbi's squad as their death squad, but they have the assassins that they have been training at Low Creek. They have been training them to be snipers, training them to come amongst people with silent weapons while they guard the kingdom of the real assassins. These have been produced by the P.N.C. government - produced by the clique in power, because it is necessary for them to find some excuse in order for them to carry out their orders and their plans.

So soon more Rodney will be up because I was able to get a couple good copies of several of his way out of print speeches: "People's Power, No Dictator," "The Struggle Goes On," and "A Sign Of The Times." All three will hopefully be up soon, but it takes awhile to type so much. We still haven't gotten a copy of READiris pro. Oh, and despite the counter, we got ten thousand hits this month. Best month yet.

Friday, November 25, 2005

From an interview on Buy Nothing Day (and a quote)

The day after Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping day of the year, is fast becoming known as a day of protest.
A growing subculture of activists now proclaims the date Buy Nothing Day, and its members challenge themselves and others not to consume on consumerism's busiest day.
Founded 14 years ago by an ex-advertising executive, BND is now celebrated in more than 65 countries by millions of people -- who participate by not participating in the shopping orgy.
Wired News caught up with Kalle Lasn, the anti-holiday's founder, who acknowledged the internet's role in making BND a global protest movement, but decried the laziness of many bloggers and the digital generation's disengagement from the real world.
Wired News: How are you using the internet to spread the word about BND?
Kalle Lasn: BND was a relatively insignificant event in its early days. It wasn't until we put the campaign on the internet that it took off worldwide.... That synergy that we created on the internet was what really launched BND into the worldwide event that it is today....
(Using a new message-board system) we've managed to basically create these BND headquarters in cities around the world.... We have 85,000 culture jammers around the world who have signed up for our culture-jammers network and who receive our listservs and who then decide if they want to go the extra step and join a JammerGroup.
WN: What about the use of blogs?
Lasn:: Buy Nothing Day has become this huge phenomenon around the world. It's sort of like an edgy Earth Day and people are doing all sorts of things including blogs. But I have to tell you that there is also a downside to blogs. There are a number of people who think they are activists if they start a blog and talk sustainability.
I think there is more to it than that. The downside of the internet is that it has spawned a generation of activists who are actually very passive, who basically forward an e-mail to a friend and they think they are being some kind of an activist, and to me that is not the sort of activism that is effective.

WN: When you started BND, did you think it would be this big?
Lasn: No. We were a bunch of people 15 years ago who were dissatisfied with all the old activisms and we figured that the next big activist movement would have to do with consumer culture. And we launched BND in that spirit because we felt somebody had to talk back against consumer culture, which around that time was starting to get out of hand.
Even cyberspace and the internet is now infected with commercialism to the point that I find it annoying to go there. And many of our information-delivery systems are infected by this commercial virus.
I think BND is one of the powerful moments when we have a nice, wholesome, visceral debate about sustainability, mental health and the political implications of the kind of consumer culture that we have created.
WN: You mentioned advertising culture on the internet is getting worse. Do you see yourselves having to engage with internet advertising culture, too?
Lasn: We are brainstorming all the time on ways to get people to unplug, ways to get people to stop living in the virtual world and start living in the real world.
People who grew up with the internet or iPods, that whole digital revolution, are the first generation that spend more time in the electronic environment than they do in the natural environment. So we are definitely going to try and launch social-marketing campaigns that encourage people to just unplug, just to pull out of the virtual electronic environment and try to live more than half their lives in the real world.

(Emphasis added, via Wired)

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark: "We still have twenty-two commissioned Trident nuclear submarines, which are first-strike weapons. Any one of those submarines can launch twenty-four missiles simultaneously. Each of those missiles can contain as many as seventeen independently targeted, maneuverable nuclear warheads. And each of those warheads can travel seven thousand nautical miles and supposedly hit within three hundred feet of its predetermined target. If we fire them in opposite directions, we can span fourteen thousand nautical miles: halfway around the world at the equator. This means we can take out 408 centers of human population, hitting each with a nuclear warhead ten times as powerful as the bomb that incinerated Nagasaki."
Question: "This is all from one submarine?"
"One submarine."

This is from The Sun magazine originally, but I first saw it in Adbusters in their Empire issue. This issue was the first time Adbusters ever impressed me. Unfortunately, that issue was sold out and I could never find a copy, but you can still find it in some libraries. The whole issue was great, but the quote was splayed out over a navy ad with a bunch of navy ships that say inane things like "Freedom of the press," "freedom to assemble," and "freedom to vote."
408 centers of human population. 22 submarines. Freedom.
(Updates will probably be light for the next week or so. Thanks for linking to us. Don't think we don't notice and appreciate it.)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

HIAW visits WCW

I just got back from the World Can't Wait's Organizing conference Forum. The subject was "Driving out the Bush Regime - Why we must, how we can, and what will replace it?" Before I go any farther, I'd like to support whatever people are doing, people acting is a good thing, and whatever criticisms I have doesn't mean that I don't think people should actively participate in this work (I'll include the links of the various groups below).
It was slated to serve as a forum semi-separate from the rest of the conference for the unconvinced.
I'm one of the unconvinced. I had to re-write this because I had descriptions of what the various panelists said, but I don't think it is as constructive for me to voice their statements. I'm not that good of a writer and, more importantly, I was unimpressed and this would reflect.
I asked two questions, both of which I feel were left unanswered. The first was that for someone with family in Panama and who has been participating in left circles as an adult for the last ten or so years, it is difficult for me to swallow that their charges against the Bush Regime aren't, in fact, actually issues with U.S. capitalism. From the war on the poor to torture, U.S. capitalism has been doing everything Bush is charged with since before his parents were born. I heard a black woman point out that the reason she wasn't so enraged about the Patriot Act was because everything in it has been happening in the black ghettoes for years and whites were just beginning to complain when it got focused on them. My concern was that by framing these problems as products of the "Bush administration/regime," we're turning this into an election issue. So I asked what is the advantage of this choice? (One woman came up to me to argue afterwards and said she went and saw Krugman speak last night and how he said Bush is headed out and that Liberals should just wait until the next election. She said the room full of incensed liberals went along with that. I said "Yeah, so you agree with me?")
My second question was about the lacking vision of strategy. People are identifying the problem, but not talking about the vehicle for change (the second question of the forum title: "How we can"). A lot of people know something is wrong, but nothing is offered to change it. I did a lot of activism in the late nineties and we did everything proposed by the speakers: sold papers, marched in washington, lobbied, performed street theater, and what did it get us? The Bush administration!
I said people stopped going, because after their second and third march, they wanted to see some type of identifiable results (At this point, I was getting positive response and was getting a little heated). So I wanted to know, I hear about an Ad in the paper, buses, and drowning out the bush regime and then revolutionary communism, but the question is what is the in-between? What are the middle steps? (At that point a snide comment was thrown about the answer had better not be getting people to listen to some Bob Avakian because people will just tell you to get out of their face...).
But all jokes aside, I think this second question is one of the most serious crises facing people right now: what is the model? Now that we're angered, how do we change this? What're we not doing right? How do we move beyond identifying the problem to working out the solution?
Sunsara said something about new norms (reconstructive hymen surgery going from being primarily done for immigrants to something American christians were now getting) being ushered in, this is in response to the first question, and needing to respond to the heightened situation. One of the students talked about upswings and downswings, but I didn't hear a real response from anyone. I was left disappointed. Afterwards, I got mobbed by a bunch of people. Some who wanted to have a real discussion, but a lot who seemed to be trying to convince me that my problem was that I didn't seem to understand that, no, Bush is really bad. When I pointed out that he certainly didn't begin the examples they gave me and that his ultra-badness didn't change the absence of a vehicle for change, they'd just kind of repeat themselves a little slower like I didn't understand that Bush is Really bad. Even these answers were centered on the issues of Bush being really bad and not on the needing a vehicle for change. Some of the things people said to me were just silly. I assumed that people would think that I might be from another group sent in to piss people off and recruit (which I most certainly am not), but when the third person in a row told me that I just didn't get that Bush was just this bad, I turned to him and said that Bush was so bad that he's going to require a better strategy to deal with him. It is frustrating because I know that if I wasn't so dyed in the wool and had pointed out the silliness of suggesting Bush will be out in six months, these people's condescending responses would've sent me out the door and never back. Instead, I'm going to email this to one of them to see if they have a better answer.
End of the day, I feel like my question wasn't answered, but that it also probably wasn't the place for it (to be fair to myself, I thought that the seven o'clock forum was for people who wouldn't be at the rest of the conference whereas I think I might have been the only new person). I still want the answers.
Here is everyone's links:
Democracy Cell Project | Sunsara's Blog | World Can't Wait | National Progressive Student & Youth Organization | Bob Avakian

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bush and Torture

Bush recently asserted "We do not torture." A number of people have stepped up to both challenge him about Cheney's consistent lobbying for torture exceptions for the CIA and to, yet once again, loudly trumpet how he is soiling the standards of this once great land. Maybe it is just me, but I haven't noticed that many mentions of Abu Ghraib (though a quick check on Google News reveals over two hundred stories with the terms: bush, panama, "we do not torture," and "Abu Ghraib," so maybe that's just me). Nonetheless, even with Abu Ghraib being mentioned, no one has stepped back and said "shouldn't he have maybe waited to make this comment until he got back to the states and not done it in Panama?"

But Bush doesn't have to worry about the Panama context being mentioned. Panama, where this author's mother was born and where the United States originally had the School Of Americas, knows about American torture. American torture didn't begin with 43 W. It didn't begin with his father, or his father's boss. The School of Americas was founded in the 1940s in Panama and moved to Fort Benning in Georgia. You don't have to spend ten minutes researching the School of Americas to come across one clear fact: The United States government does more than torture; The United States tests, designs, and instructs torturers. Homeless Panamanians disappeared off the streets when the School of Americas was there and their corpses would later be found subjected to extreme torture. Everyone knew what was happening. Retired Major Joe Blair said on the Jim Lehrer Newshour: "I have personal knowledge that the School of the Americas, while I was there for three years, taught two intelligence interrogation courses, which taught the U.S. Army position that it was appropriate to use physical abuse when interrogating anyone in their country, to also use false imprisonment, false arrest, and kidnapping of family members." In Panama, where the U.S. government trained torturers for four decades, Bush asserts "we do not torture."

American torture did not begin with Bush nor did it cease with Kennedy, Carter, or Clinton. It is part of the system. Why would anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the American military's long history of high altitude aerial bombardment on civilian populations doubt for a second that this government, past and present, tortures? Have we forgotten what Napalm does to people? Why do we think that the planners of war would order huge stocks of napalm and antipersonnel bombs and then instruct their soldiers on the ground to respect their prisoners' rights?

The danger is that people will associate torture with the Bush administration. Which is good to get rid of Bush, but it absolves the sinners of the past, gives the next guy a free pass, and eschews a critical understanding of the government's systemic use of violence for a charicaturing politics of amnesia. People need to know their history.

My apologies for this being a few days late. I know that is the equivalent of a hundred news cycles in the "blogosphere," but it is still deserving of this response.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

From "The Non-Profit & The Autonomous Grassroots"

Throughout much of the 1970s, there was a strong current within the New Left that sought to harness and consolidate the political energies of the late 1960s into the revolutionary party. The years 1965-1969 were those mercurial years, which saw the rise of numerous liberation struggles led by groups such as the Black Panther Party (and the ensuing “Panther effect:” Young Lords, I Wor Kuen, Brown Berets), the Women’s Liberation Movements (some led by white women, others by Third World sistas), Lesbian and Gay Liberation struggles and the meteoric rise of the anti-war movement. Max Elbaum describes the period as “Revolution in Air”—it was a feeling, a texture, of multiple resistances, each with its own brilliance and complexity.

By the 1970s many of the self-identified revolutionary forces within this New Left turned their attention to party building efforts aimed at consolidating the many movements in an effort to strike a unified revolutionary blow against the establishment. But for some, party-building came at the cost of extracting valuable time and attention from community-based struggles. For others, it meant erasing or subordinating the particular character of race, gender, sexual, and class oppression for the sake of a “higher degree” of unity. And for others still, party building would mark the beginning of deep sectarian fighting between different cadres, not to mention the abuses of power within parties and revolutionary organizations.

The troubled efforts of the party-builders paralleled the rise and proliferation of “New Social Movements” (NSMs)—led by those who had either departed from, resisted, or simply ignored the push to consolidate the revolutionary party. By the early 80s, with many party building efforts in decline, the NSMs continued to grow and proliferate, codifying their struggles under semi-new banners such as: Environmental Justice, Racial Justice, No Nukes, Housing Organizing, Youth Development, Community Development and Anti-poverty. These would provide for the new social justice categories that would eventually be adapted by the philanthropic foundations.
From "The Non-Profit & The Autonomous Grassroots" by Eric Tang

Friday, November 04, 2005


Added selections from the excellent Even the Women Must Fight as well as a selction from Walter Rodney Speaks as well as several chapters of Howard Zinn's a People's History of the United States. More to be added soon, but that isn't surprising.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

One Year Anniversary

So, the webpage isn't a year old, but it has been one year at the new server. So some numbers are in order. Starting in August of this year, the webpage began to be promoted heavily. Up until this point, visits fluctuated between mid two hundreds to low six hundreds a month. But in August, we got thirteen shy of three thousand, in September it went to just under four thousand, and in October we busted to 6,149! A nice trajectory has developed and, by our calculations, in a year, we should have somewhere between one hundred twenty thousand and four million hits a month. Suffice to say, this is a history page and not a math site.

So in ascending order, we shall list the most popular ten readings for the month of October:

10. African History in the Service of the Black Liberation by Walter Rodney. It will be our objective to get more Walter Rodney in the top ten for the next month.

9. Black Hawk.

8. Frantz Fanon

7. George Jackson's interview got 100.

6. Strange Fruit.

5. The Revolution will not be Televised.

4. Zinn on the FBI.

3. Fred Hampton!

2.Langston was added mid-month and still got second.

1. Far and away our most popular reading was probably because of some sort of recent holiday.

So there you go and there you are.