JOURNAL OF THE 24TH YEAR
Japan's Fukushima Disaster
The Shura Case
Death Row Inmates Exonerated
NUGGETS FROM THE NUT HOUSE
From Netanyahu to Mladic
Edward S. Herman
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Veterans Support Manning
Double Dip Recession
Iara Lee's Culture of Resistance
Len Weinglass (1933-2011)
Michael Steven Smith
Checkmate In The Great Game
Nicolas J.S. Davies
The Colonial Predator Legacy
Against Corporatocracy Rule
Bruce E. Levine
The Mideast & South Central Asia
Bin Laden and the Arab "Awakening"
From Poppies to Fentanyl Lollipops
The Lacandon Jungle and the Carbon Market
Displacing People for Profit
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Indignant and Organized: 15M to 19J
On May 15, thousands of people answered a call to “take the streets” against neoliberal economic measures that were being implemented in
Four weeks later, on June 19, a second march gathered over 250,000 people, once again exceeding all expectations and, more importantly, doubling the attendance of the first action. By that time, 15M was no longer just the date of a protest, but also the name of a very organized movement with immediate demands as well as long-term political ambitions. This movement now has its own institutions, proposals, and history. It even has its own newspaper, art work, and a sign language. This is a movement that frightens a select few because it creates hope for so many.
On the eve of the 2008 financial crisis, the economy of
During the fourth quarter of 2008, the
From that moment on, the social provisions built up under the welfare state were no longer sacred. Politicians from both sides presented social spending as a burden that aggravated the poor economic situation. The public lost trust in the major labor unions—traditional defenders of basic social protections—and saw them as weak, indulgent government collaborators. Corporations were soon firing workers by the thousands with reduced compensation packages, partly paid with taxpayers’ money.
The atmosphere was one of impunity for the powerful and resignation for the rest. Corruption scandals multiplied and, of course, the only public figure relieved of his duties was Baltasar Garzón, the judge that prosecuted the corruption cases. This and many other murky affairs left many disenchanted and resentful toward politicians, labor unions and even human nature. Cynicism became a rational defense mechanism. T-shirts read “People suck.” Even on the eve of May 15, this perception, however grim, would have been hard to challenge, at least without looking a fool.
“¡Toma la Calle!”
At some point, students from the University Complutense of Madrid, who had gained some success organizing a number of protests earlier in the year, saw an opportunity to send out a call. Their platform was simple and was explicitly independent from political parties and labor unions. They called themselves “simple citizens from all stripes,” and emphasized in their manifesto that “some of us are progressive, some are conservative.” They called for reforms that were meant to put the general public interest back on the program. A key aim was to remind the political class that it “was those who created the mess that ought to pay for it.” The name of their platform was “Democracia Real Ya” (“Real Democracy Now”).
The students’ call was an explicit rejection of both political parties, the right-wing PP and the center left PSOE. The message hit a nerve. All of a sudden, thousands of Spaniards filled the streets of
“¡Toma la Plaza!”
After 24 protesters were arrested for staying at the Puerta del Sol—the center
When I arrived at the camp on the following Wednesday, there were people immersed in deep conversations and the social diversity on display was incredible: immigrants, older people, feminists, family men, children, homeless people, high school students, unemployed workers, and conservatives. What is overwhelming to this day is that everyone dropped their attitude of mistrust.
By the third day of the camp, there was consistently between 5,000 and 20,000 people gathered in the central
The media would keep asking “We know what you are against, but what are you for?” It was partly out of concern around this question that the first camp assemblies were created. The camp was self-managed by committees that followed a division of labor that evolved according to the size of the camp. At first there were four committees. When the Sol camp was taken down on June 12, there were around 15 committees. It was very well organized, even providing campers and visitors access to movies at the 15M cinema where several documentaries were playing.
The committees were kind of the executive branch of the movement. Their work dealt with camp affairs and the movement as a whole. For that reason, some of the committees still exist. There were up to 15, but I shall mention only 12: legal, infirmary, infrastructure, respect, cleaning, library, arts, day- nursery, archives, communication, extensions, and information.
The legal committee was established at the very beginning and was the key to the success of the encampment. Its task was to handle or prevent any disputes with the authorities, the police, and all the people affected by the camp. Ten to twenty thousand people meeting every night must have been an imposition on some of the neighbors and shop owners.
This committee was very successful in establishing a dialogue with all these parties. Its influence ranged from preventing people from climbing on the scaffolds during the assemblies to trying to get the people who had been arrested out of prison.
The infirmary is another committee whose work is still very visible. This service was provided, for the most part, by one volunteer doctor and a dozen other professionals, as well as by volunteers who help carry patients when it is necessary.
Members of the infrastructure committee were constantly working, mostly in the background, and this group required the most volunteers. The camp needed constant extensions, repairs, transport of material, electrical wiring, an effective sound system, and so on.
The committee for respect consisted of volunteers wearing reflective vests that identified them. Their task was to ask people to refrain from excessive drinking, mostly during weekend nights. They also made sure that no one would block the entrances to the shops around the square or allow paintings on the iron gates.
The cleaning committee cleaned up the plaza, taking care of the garbage left by the thousands of people passing by. After three or four weeks of camping out, it became increasingly difficult to address some hygiene problems that usually require bigger and more sophisticated cleaning equipment.
The library started out with a couple of hundred donations from supporters of the movement. By June 12, it counted more than 4,000 books which are now stored somewhere in
Archives and documentation made it possible to offer maps to new arrivals to the camp, a crucial tool for becoming oriented with the multitude of activities and stations located in site. This committee also made it possible for journalists and others to obtain copies of important documents, such as the minutes of the assemblies and proposals produced by the working groups.
The communication committee was by far the most visited. It hosted all the web designers, the translators, and the spokespeople. According to the people working in this committee, all the important messages, communications, reports, minutes, and other information that came out of the many activities of 15M were translated into English, French, German, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, and probably some other languages. Messages on the loudspeakers were read in the first three languages besides Spanish.
Finally, the extensions committee helped project the 15M movement into the future. Its work consisted of helping to coordinate the neighborhood assemblies created during the second week of the occupation. Its task on the Puerta del Sol was to inform people about their own assemblies, depending on what city or district they lived in. They have also encouraged the development of web pages for each neighborhood committee.
Typically, assemblies took place on the weekends: Saturdays for local assemblies and Sundays for the general one. It usually took around two hours to get through the agenda. Following discussions (during which everyone has the opportunity to speak) proposals and decisions are put to a vote. As I mentioned earlier, the sign language that we’d adopted was essential for the sessions to move smoothly forward. The general assemblies are always held in public spaces, usually symbolic places in the center of the city: Puerta del Sol in
Assembly sessions require the help of a number of volunteer workers: moderators, minute recorders (on paper and on tape), people giving turns to speak, medical care teams on stand-by during big assembly sessions, sound technicians, etc. These are jobs that are always carefully monitored and subject to turn over, the risk being that some individuals monopolize certain empowering tasks, breaking the horizontality of the movement. The decision making process is an issue that is still in progress. Up until the third week of the encampment, the rule was decision making by consensus. However, when the assembly decided to vote on withdrawal from the Puerta del Sol, a small minority managed to block vote after vote. This was the first real challenge, threatening the credibility of the movement. This deadlock type of situation is more common than we might think, which is why it is important to approach these experiences with flexibility.
Neighborhood assemblies are a replica of the general assemblies, although they may in the future adopt their own rules for decision making. Indeed, decentralization is absolute and the only obligation for the barrios is to send two to five spokespersons to report on what has been decided. The fact that the barrios are decentralized allows participants in smaller assemblies to be creative and to experiment. Ideas deemed successful could be reported and suggested to other assemblies from other districts or cities. Communication is so decentralized that each assembly is free to exchange views and ideas with other assemblies without consulting the general assembly—be it Madrid, San Sebastian, Girona, or Athens.
The assemblies brought participatory democracy to life. Although the 15M movement is still young, the indignant are very organized and are now taking the “barrios” of
Inclusiveness is a very important aspect of the movement that has not always been easy to achieve. As far as the assemblies are concerned there are several points worth mentioning: speeches are translated into the sign language by one or two interpreters. People are asked to be gender inclusive when speaking, which is more difficult (due to a bigger presence of gender accordance in grammar rules). Gender representation is also a prime concern, although so far it has been respected without any need for intervention. Women easily make up half the participants of the movement.
Another problem with inclusiveness came when long-term visions were to be produced by the working groups. Can we say we are anti-capitalist? Will we lose support if we do that? Is it legitimate to do that? After all, if the movement has the ambition to one day represent every Spanish citizen in the country, shouldn’t we postpone those questions for when we’re more representative?
There were many who were reluctant to set a long term vision at this stage of the movement. It is not that vision is unimportant, but my belief is that assemblies need to be institutionalized before we can start speaking of changing capitalism. Once assemblies become a permanent forum of discussion and decision making, becoming part of our institutional landscape, then people will naturally choose what is best for them. But the need for a vision should not dominate other considerations.
Working groups elaborate the proposals that will be voted on during the assemblies. They are subdivided, in some cases, in sub-groups. For instance, the working group on economy consists of seven subgroups: financial systems, housing employment, political economy, relation with developing countries, businesses and international economic relations. During these sessions, discussions go deeper into issues. There are ten different working groups: economy, politics, architecture and public spaces, social and migration, science and technology, feminism, healthcare, environment, education, and “thinking.” Each working group is now releasing a book of proposals that have been approved by consensus.
David Marty, a 2010 Z Media Institute graduate, has a French and Spanish background. He writes for ZNet, teaches law and languages, and currently lives in
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.