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T his past summer I traveled to Lebanon to network with activists in the Palestinian camps and from Lebanon’s independent left. This interview is from a discussion with Ghassan Makarem, who works on a number of important projects in Beirut and covers Lebanese capitalism, the history of the Lebanese left, the politics of solidarity, and the possibilities for a bi-national solution in Palestine.
JEROME KLASSEN: Could you introduce the projects and organizations with which you’re involved?
GHASSAN MAKAREM: I work on Al Yasari , a multi-tendency leftist magazine, as well as with Beirut Indymedia and Helem, the only LGBT group in the Arab world.
What are the main political and economic features of Lebanese capitalism?
If we want to understand Lebanese capitalism, we must look at two things, the general condition of Lebanese capital and the role of Lebanon as a tourist center.
Lebanese capital is very much connected to international institutions and to Arab capital. For instance, the spearhead of Lebanese capitalist strategies is ex-Prime Minister Hariri [killed in a February explosion in Beirut] who has business connections in Saudi Arabia, France, and the United States. Lebanon is not a classic case of a comprador system, but it is very close to it, especially since the late 1990s, when Lebanon was forced to accept World Bank and IMF policies and to join the WTO.
The Lebanese economy is based on trade and services. This has been the case since the 1990s. Before the civil war, it was a financial center for the Gulf and other Arab countries. During the war, the region’s financial center shifted to Gulf states like Dubai. The strategy of Lebanese capital today is to re-establish its position as a financial center. But the strategy is contradictory: the capitalist class is trying to re-establish an old system in a new political-economic context, one that works against the emergence of strong national capitalisms.
Another feature of Lebanese capitalism is its role as a tourist center for the Middle East. During the war, Lebanon lost its tourist infrastructure. While the reconstruction was supposed to revive the tourist industry, it has turned Lebanon, and Beirut in particular, into one of the most expensive places in the region. The result is that Lebanon has lost tourists to countries like Qatar, Bahrain, and Dubai.
The new accumulation strategies, then, are not working, not even for the ruling class. This economic failure is connected to the unique political situation in Lebanon. The sectarian religious divisions are institutionalized through state structures and create hostile polarizations and instabilities in Lebanese society. Religious quotas organize the state and the government: every religious sect receives a quota of positions that is proportional to its size. Positions are both elected (Parliament) and appointed. This political system, combined with the service-based structure of the Lebanese economy, leads to clientelism where representatives of a particular confessional “community” are expected to represent that sect (and geographic area in some cases) in the state apparatus and to provide services to his/her constituency.
divisions make reconstruction impossible because the spoils of any
“national” project get divided among the “leaders”
of particular sects, especially the stronger ones: Sunni, Shiite,
Maronite, Greek Orthodox, and Druze. They also perpetuate the conditions
of the civil war where a series of external and internal factors
led to the entrenchment of different confessional allegiances against
one another (Muslim vs. Christian, and various combinations). This
has not changed. On the contrary, it was institutionalized by the
Taef Agreement, which supposedly ended the civil war, but which
entrenched sectarianism in the constitution.
After the war, when Hariri came to power, he initiated the Reconstruction Project. The Project has various features, but the two most important ones are the attempt to integrate Lebanese capitalism to the world market through the WTO and the rebuilding of downtown Beirut as a service center for the Middle East.
While the first strategy has been slow going, the second one is well under way. The majority of Reconstruction funds have been spent on the downtown and on its linkages to sites outside of Lebanon, for example, through the road system linking the downtown to the airport and to the Syrian city of Damascus. The goal of the transportation system is to make Beirut a center for finance, trade, and tourism. The result is that the rest of Lebanon has become extremely underdeveloped and class inequalities have become accentuated.
Can you discuss Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon?
Hezbollah, based in the Shiite community, is one of the most prominent political forces in Lebanon. It is probably the largest political party in terms of membership and actual supporters and it is based in the most marginalized communities in the country, areas that were under occupation, rural communities hurt by economic “priorities,” and the poor suburbs of Beirut. Its strength is due to three main reasons.
First, its population base, the Shia, is the largest of the 19 official sects in Lebanon. Second, Hezbollah played a leading role in the resistance, especially after 1984 and in the final round of operations in the late 1990s against the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah could thus take credit for the liberation. Third, Hezbollah has created a network of civil organizations in Shia communities to provide social services ignored by the state.
All of these strengths do not create stability. The size of the Shiite community has become a rallying cry for the Christian right that fears a reallocation of power in the sectarian quota structure and thus an end to the system of parity between Christians and Muslims. Of course, the political right refuses to admit that the actual problem is the sectarian quota system itself.
Hezbollah’s role was due to Syrian influence in Lebanon. In the early 1980s—following Israel’s withdrawal from Beirut due to resistance operations carried out by the Communist Party, the Organization for Communist Action, and their allies—Syria decided that it needed to control the resistance in order to better manage the conflict with Israel. This led to the dissolution of non-religious based resistance groups and to the emergence of one main force (Hezbollah) under Syrian patronage. The leadership of the “left” accepted the dominance of Hezbollah.
In addition, although Hezbollah represents, in theory, a community that is poor, marginalized, and, for the most part, either working class or peasant, the party has yet to come out with a program that reflects the needs of these communities. Actually, the party has been very successful at evading class issues and has used sectarianism and religious confessionalism to rally supporters, especially following the liberation of South Lebanon and thus the end to its “raison d’être.” Despite these limitations, Hezbollah still has mass support, as seen in its success in parliamentary and municipal elections.
Can you discuss Syria’s role in Lebanon?
It’s clear that Syria controls Lebanese politics. However, it’s not clear how this control is exercised. Syria benefits from its control of Lebanon, both economically and strategically with regard to its relationship to Israel. But we can’t think about the Syrians as acting independently of other factors, especially U.S. ones. Since the first Gulf War, one of the major prizes that Syria received for participating in the coalition was the right to control Lebanon. In return, Syria makes sure that an appropriate president is put in power.
The situation has changed in the past few months after the passing of the Syria Accountability Act in the U.S. Congress and Resolution 1559 in the UN Security Council, which was spearheaded by France and calls for Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon. Put simply, the U.S. and Europe no longer need a proxy in Lebanon and want to control Lebanese politics and economics more directly. Lebanon’s accession to the WTO is almost complete. It has signed the Euromed “partnership” agreement, a NAFTA-like agreement for the Mediterranean, and its security forces have joined the “war against terrorism” (e.g., the FBI and Interpol are teaching them how to monitor communications and to keep track of Lebanese citizens). The UN headquarters in Beirut also has files on all “criminals” starting from the age of seven.
The problem with Syrian intervention is that it is viewed as benefiting Lebanese Muslims and thus upsetting the sectarian “balance.” But this position can be undermined if you look at the class dimensions to the Syrian-Lebanese relationship. All members of the ruling class, whether they are Christian or Muslim, have good relations with the Syrians and accept the integration of the two economies. The main defense of the Lebanese system has always been sectarianism; it is used as a veil to cover any class or social problems in Lebanon.
How would you describe the situation of the left coming out of the war?
Before discussing the contemporary left, we need to understand how the left in Lebanon and the Arab world has always been part of the project for national liberation. Although the national liberation movements of the 1950s and 1960s had fairly progressive programs and a mass base, they failed to realize their goals and promises. This is clear in the case of Iraq, and of Egypt under Nasser, who modernized Egypt and gave it a role in international politics at the same time that he repressed leftists, strengthened the role of regressive forces in Egyptian society, and failed to fulfill many of the people’s needs.
The Lebanese left has always been a part of these movements and, in some cases, played a critical role within them. As a result, the independent left had a hard time developing into the positive force it could have become. Before the civil war began in 1975, the Lebanese National Movement, which was headed by Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt and controlled by Arafat’s PLO, never addressed socio-economic conditions independently of its relationship to Nasser in Egypt, Assad in Syria, and the PLO. After Nasser died, a power struggle over the leadership of the Arab movement broke out between Arafat and Assad, a struggle that contributed to the destruction of Lebanon and to the failure of the Palestinian Revolution of the 1970s. I’m not saying that the Lebanese left has to be independent of these currents because most of the time we’re part of the same struggle. The problem is that the Lebanese left has always looked to a regional or international power for guidance or followed a not so soft version of Third World nationalism.
After the Syrian invasion of Lebanon in 1976, the Lebanese left became part of Syria’s sphere of influence in the country, despite the fact that the left was the first to resist the Syrians as they approached Beirut. Later on, they decided to side with Syria in order to fight the Israeli invasions and occupation.
By the end of the war, this alliance had really weakened the left. Parties like the Organization for Communist Action and the Communist Party (CP) were destroyed. They lost most of their membership and influence. Furthermore, most of the spoils of war were given to the sectarian forces, which were part of the National Movement, such as the Syrian Nationalist Party (Greater Syria nationalists) and the Ba’athists. The left’s military card was also lost as its cadre quit or joined the Islamic resistance against the Israeli occupation. The intellectuals, for their part, began working for NGOs, doing studies for the UN, or serving as consultants to the regime.
Since 1994-95, there has been a resurgence of activity on the left. Part of it focuses on secularism. Another part focuses on rebuilding the Communist Party, which remains the main pole on the Lebanese left. However, because the CP supported Soviet policy, is organized hierarchically, and now supports neoliberalism and “democratic transition,” it has fractured, producing two main currents, one led by the Stalinists and the other called the Democratic Left Movement, which is close to the Third Way movement in Europe.
The 1996 election was important for the left to move beyond the Communist Party. During the election, a broad coalition organized around a number of tickets. While the efforts failed, partly because of the sectarian system, they created momentum and activity outside of the CP. Following this were a number of attempts to regroup the actors involved in the electoral coalition. These attempts also failed: they were too top-down, too driven by “intellectuals,” and they tried to assimilate other activists, groups, and projects.
These failures created another vacuum on the left, which started to be broken with its response to the siege of Arafat in Ramallah. This event forced the left, especially the youth, to come together. The invasion of Iraq also forced cooperation among left groups. However, sharp divisions soon emerged, when we decided that we would support neither the Ba’ath regime nor the rhetoric of the Arab regimes; that the movement should not be based on nationalist politics; and that the left should not join forces with Islamic and Arab nationalist groups.
Out of the anti-war movement, there was another attempt at re-groupment, especially through the “No War, No Dictatorship” campaign. This failed as well because it was subject to the same type of assimilationist tactics used by some on the left, in this case the Democratic Left Movement.
The independent left, then, remains weak as a result of the civil war, the role of the Communist Party, and the trajectory of the national movement. We’re still trying to develop a common set of understandings and organizational forms.
Earlier you spoke about two projects with which you’re involved, Al Yasari and Beirut Indymedia. Can you speak about their significance and the ways in which they are trying to fill the vacuum on the left?
Both of these projects emerged out of our response to the siege of Arafat in Ramallah. During the siege, a number of people called for an open sit-in at downtown Beirut, which was able to group together most of the young left. Working together during the sit-in helped us to conclude that there was no reason to continue working within the mainstream institutions of the left because of all their limitations. So we launched our own projects such as Beirut Indymedia (beirut.indymedia.org). The more politicized among us launched the magazine Al Yasari , which we use to publicize an array of views on our activist commitments. Al Yasari began as a collective for leftist activists, for anyone who had a project and wanted to analyze and debate it. It is based around action and, at the same time, tries to develop positions on local, regional, and international issues. These projects have been going on for over two years and have created spaces for developing an independent left.
In Europe, North America, and South America, the new movements use participatory democracy, oppose all forms of oppression, and organize direct action to build their counter-power. Has a similar politics developed among the independent left in Lebanon?
To a certain extent, things have been similar here. For instance, one of the main disagreements between the independent left and the party left has been around issues of sexism and homophobia. At some point, we’ve been called the “sodomite left” because we’ve created the only spaces in which gays and lesbians can participate. The issue of diverse spaces was also a point of contention, not with the traditional left, but with those close to social democratic tendencies in Europe. There is a fear of diverse spaces without a “historical” leadership, as they put it. Most intellectuals on the Lebanese left see themselves as having a messianic purpose and think that activists should follow their orders and stick to their priorities. Unfortunately, these priorities are not much different than those espoused by the UN and the NGO community and thus they do not represent the working class or any marginalized social segment.
The traditional left, even the supposedly more radical groups such as the 4th International, considers issues of sexism, oppression, and diversity as being separate and secondary to the class struggle. For us, due to local particularities, the issues of sexism and sexuality were breaking points; our politics forced us to break with the traditional left. At the same time, the entire left is still male dominated and it is still common for men to deny the need to develop women’s leadership.
Still, we have been able to promote a diversity of perspectives within Indymedia and Al Yasari . In these projects, there are many leftist tendencies, including international socialists, anarchists, autonomists, and secularists. We’ve made a big effort to maintain this diversity and we agree that our goal shouldn’t be to convert each other to certain ideologies, but to figure out how to work together, organize direct action, make international connections, and so on. Of course, the debates occur within a set of shared understandings. We share agreement on the need for a bi-national solution in Palestine/Israel, on the need to have relations with the Israeli left, on the nature of international capitalism, and on the failure of Third World nationalism.
Finally, we always stress the importance of the international movement at all its levels and critique the nationalism of the traditional left, which refuses to look at events outside of Lebanon. For us, the struggle is local, national, and international at the same time. Through our involvement in local campaigns, we’ve realized the importance of international processes and networking.
Can you talk about the bi-national solution and the links that the independent left has with organizations in the Palestinian camps in Lebanon?
One of the main obstacles facing the Lebanese left is our limited connection to the Palestinian movement. Due to a tacit agreement between the traditional left and the PLO and the de facto ban on Palestinians becoming members of “Lebanese” parties, Palestinians and Lebanese leftists have not been able to work too closely. Both sides have been told to support each other, but not to work together. The problem still exists; you cannot find Palestinian members of the CP for instance.
While we oppose these barriers, we have difficulties overcoming them. We’re trying to find ways to work directly with Palestinian activists without going through the traditional Palestinian groups. We haven’t been too successful. Through Indymedia, we’re trying to establish a presence in the Palestinian camps. But the camps are ghettos and their regulation prevents Palestinians and Lebanese from working together.
On the question of Palestine, we start by recognizing how the two-state solution has failed. The results of the two-state solution were Bantustans. The current situation is even worse and who knows what will happen with the construction of the wall. One of the solutions is to network with the Israeli left, which shouldn’t be confused with the Zionist left. This is happening in strange ways, for example, through collaboration on films. For practical reasons, I think we need to work towards a bi-national state.
A lot has happened since we first talked last summer. Following the assassination of Rafic Hariri and the beginning of Syrian withdrawal, it seems that Lebanese society has been polarized. What are the priorities of the Lebanese opposition and the loyalists to the Syrian regime?
For all practical purposes, Syria has begun its withdrawal from Lebanon after extensive international pressure to fulfill UN Security Council Resolution 1559, coordinated by the U.S. and France. Internal pressure came through a series of demonstrations culminating in a sit-in in the center of the city by supporters of the Lebanese opposition.
Judging from international media coverage, it seems that Lebanon is going through the motions of Georgia and Ukraine. The analogy is quite misleading. Although we should be careful not to put all forces calling for “democratic” reform in one basket— pro-U.S., pro-business, etc.—it is necessary to look at the make-up of the political forces on various sides of the Syrian withdrawal debate.
The period following the civil war (1975-1990) had the following two features: a neo-liberal economic plan espoused by Hariri, the former warlords, and a new political elite; and a policy of resistance against U.S./Israeli hegemony led by Syria and executed almost entirely by Hezbollah. For most of the 1990s, these two features merged. The U.S., Syria, Saudi Arabia, and others coordinated it through a system of religious/sectarian patronage. The role of the feudal-style leaders of religious sects continued. Political parties and movements not involved in the power struggle of the political elite were swept to the sidelines.
The 1990s also saw a rise of a small, influential, and metropolitan professional class created by the needs of corporations and the service industry and by the role of intermediary institutions such as the UN and the NGO “movement.” Their guru was Rafic Hariri. Money laundering and “tax haven” services provided to Arab capital played a significant role.
The assassination of Hariri was seen as an opportunity by the current opposition to accelerate a process of liberalization and Eastern European style “democratic emergence.” The former level is well underway with minimal interference from either the current loyalists or current opposition. But the status quo imposed by the U.S. and Syria at the end of the 1980s no longer fit the post 9/11 world. Syria’s interference and Hezbollah’s activities had to be put to an end. Since the Europeans will not allow the U.S. another Iraqi-style adventure—alone, that is—they get a piece of the pie, namely in Lebanon and in Palestine, by controlling “developmental priorities” in the latter.
With Hariri gone, the two main poles of the opposition are Michel Aoun and Walid Jumblatt. Aoun was the commander of the Lebanese army during the civil war. He was exiled following an attempt to liberate the country from Syria at the end of the 1990s and remained in Paris after he refused to accept the agreement that put an end to the civil war. In the past few years, his rhetoric was focused on the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon. According to his followers, mainly Christian university students, Syria is the cause of most of the ills of the country and any reform should be postponed until it withdraws completely.
The other pole, Walid Jumblatt, is a feudal-style leader of the minority Druze sect. Officially belonging to the Muslim side of the sectarian equation, they are organized around the Progressive Socialist Party. The progressive and socialist parts of the name are misleading. The party’s membership is rural and more or less religiously pure. Jumblatt more often identifies himself as the leader of a sect, not a president of a political party. He was on excellent terms with Syria from day one, when, according to him, the Syrians assassinated his father, but he went to Damascus, forgave them, and became the leader of the Druze sect in 1977. This quaint Machiavellian twist turned deadly when, after the leadership of Christian parties supported the Israeli invasion of 1982, he retaliated by allowing his followers to massacre the Christian population of the area. The massacres did not spare Christian members of his coalition, the National Movement, such as members of the Communist Party.
His adversaries, at that time, were the various militia versions of the pre-war Christian right. Today, they make up the remainder of the opposition. Together, they were responsible for the atrocities of the 1970s and 1980s, including massacres against Palestinians and working-class Muslims living in the area they controlled and culminating in Sabra and Shatila. This was balanced by similar atrocities committed by the sides controlling the, now Muslim, areas.
The Christian right espoused a Lebanese brand of fascism inspired by Hitler Youth at the 1936 Olympics. During the war, their hatred was directed towards Palestinians. Today, their targets are Syrian workers and laborers. They remain in power, along with Jumblatt and many members of the loyalist camp, because the Taef agreement included amnesty for all war crimes against civilians. The Christian representation in the coalition is completed by Qornet Chehwan, a group of political heirs based around the Maronite Patriarch.
Central to the rhetoric of the opposition, but politically insignificant, is the Movement for Democratic Renewal and the Democratic Left Movement. The former is a small group of “experts” based around a member of the Lebanese Parliament who is a hostile cousin of the current president and a multimillionaire. The latter is a splinter of the Communist Party and includes some center-left intellectuals who supported the war on Iraq.
The assassination of Hariri was an opportunity for the opposition, coalescing after the illegitimate renewal of the president’s term through Syrian pressure, to accelerate the process set by UNSC Resolution 1559 calling for the withdrawal of all foreign armies and the dismantling of militias, meaning Hezbollah. The images of unity between Christians, Druzes, and Sunnis at the demonstrations obscure a different reality. The decision to only carry Lebanese flags at the demonstration was meant to diffuse the tension brought up by the flags of the wartime militias. Away from the cameras covering the downtown area, the flags reappeared, so did racist attacks against Syrians and “Syrian-looking” people.
On March 8, at the beginning of the Syrian withdrawal, Hezbollah held a demonstration to oppose U.S. intervention. The Agence France Presse estimated the number of demonstrators at 1.6 million, later estimates put it at 500,000. This was meant to remind the opposition, along with the U.S. and France, that the majority of Lebanese do not support their plans. On a more direct level, it was a show of force by the Shi’a community to prove that the national unity claimed by the opposition does not exist.
The next day, the Lebanese daily, Assafir , reported that opposition demonstrators, in their camp in Martyr’s Square a few meters away, had set up guard against attacks from the other demonstration. When asked how they could differentiate between a Lebanese supporter of the opposition carrying the Lebanese flag and a Lebanese supporter of Hezbollah also carrying the Lebanese flag, they said that they would know them by the way they look and smell.
Internally, Hezbollah’s demonstration will force the opposition to reconsider. Already, the extreme right is beginning to show its true colors. Some, such as Amine Gemayyel of the Hitler-inspired Phalanges, have already begun defending their pro-Israeli positions during the war and the United States has just chastised the Israelis for leaking a story about the Lebanese opposition trying to open channels with the Likud. The Hariri block has avoided any controversy with Hezbollah, probably because Hariri’s sister, an MP and heir apparent, has her constituency in the majority Shi’a South Lebanon.
On the surface, the opposition is divided over the issue of disarming Hezbollah. While Jumblatt and some other members of the opposition have said that the issue of disarming the resistance is out of the question, or at least it should be an internal matter, they need to explain the coincidence that led the European Parliament to vote for a resolution on March 10 accusing Hezbollah of being a terrorist organization.
The latest developments could mean that Hezbollah is ready to become part of the political system. Whether this is a precursor to heeding to international pressure for disarmament depends on the next move by the U.S. against Syria and Iran. The speech given by Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general, at the March 8 demonstration clearly indicates that they are willing to go for the former option, calling for a dialogue with the opposition. He also reminded the United States and France that the last time their Marines interfered in Lebanon (in the early 1980s) they were sent back home in pieces.
Jerome Klassen is an activist in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and in local anti-occupation coalitions .
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.