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.
Uses of a Whirlwind
Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Currents in the United States
Where are the pitchforks and torches? That’s the number one question on all of our minds following the meager response to the meltdown of the U.S. capitalist economy, even as insurgencies against neoliberal attacks escalate rapidly from Egypt to Madison, China to Greece, and Oman to Mexico. Craig Hughes, Steve Peace, and Kevin Van Meter, working as the Team Colors Collective, set off on a journey a few years ago to figure out if and why America is all too quiet and ended getting caught up in a global whirlwind. Synthesizing contributions, interviews and analyses of activists in the squatter, food sovereignty and precarious workers movements, Uses of a Whirlwind (AK Press: Oakland, 2010, 400 pp.) asks us to flip our thinking on its head. The meltdown was triggered by a growing reconstructing and reorganizing (eg, “recomposition”) of working class power, not the inverse. If we don’t see much reaction to the crisis it’s because we do not yet have the analytical tools to identify and understand the causes of the crisis. And that cause, Uses of a Whirlwind tells us, is a global working class that is recomposing itself in fits and starts.
Contributor George Caffentzis lays out the mission of Uses of a Whirlwind in his piece “Notes on the financial crisis”: “If class struggles had the power to create the crisis, then understanding them might guide us to the path that would lead out of the crisis with more class power.” Caffentzis has continued his project begun with Zerowork and Midnight Notes in the 1970s to illuminate new forms of working class struggle that lay just beyond our perceptions. This search for possible signs of working class re-composition which have the power to rupture the accumulation of profits is no easy task. At first glance, long stagnant median wages, vastly increased work, castrated labor unions, eroded social programs, exploding personal debt, and the evaporation of trillions of dollars of household wealth would seem to point to absolute and utter decomposition of the U.S. and global working class. After 30-plus years of defeat after bloody defeat, it now appears that business and the neoliberal state are going in for the kill. Not so, suggests Brian Marks in “Living in a whirlwind.” Marks’s analysis sweeps the reader across the landscape of pitched battles over wages, rural enclosures, and debt financed growth in China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, riots over exploding food prices in dozens of countries predating the revolutions in the Arab world, and resistance to cutbacks in public education and services across Europe. At the end of his whirlwind journey of global working class recomposition, Marks drops us smack dab in the middle of wildcat truckers’ strikes and working class immigrants rights movement in the US that preceded the meltdown. What ties all of these apparent disjointed ruptures together is a struggle over credit, energy, and food that for Marks is no less than a struggle against the imposition of more. “What is at stake is not just food, energy, or credit as such, but what lies behind them and all commodities: the struggle between labor and capital over social production. For these reasons, and because the commodities in crisis are the very raw materials for making labor-power, the present crisis is, at heart, a work crisis.” No wonder, many of the most potent revolts over the past 30 years have been sparked by rising prices for food and gas often mandated by the IMF, NAFTA-like investment agreements, and debt repayment schemes that slash state subsidies.
Understanding the cause of the crisis is more than merely documenting how “financialization” of capital is a flight from “productive” investment. Careful and thorough analysis is needed to understand why the flight has become more frantic since the 1990s. This is especially needed since neoliberal restructuring appears to have proceeded unabated in recomposing capital’s power since the historic defeats of the 1930s to the early 1970s.
The missing pieces make the puzzle, Marks seems to be saying. Yet, as far as class analysis goes, the dynamic process of conflict means both that the pieces have yet to be cut and we still lack a complete picture of the spaces in which they fit. This is what he suggests when he concludes that “the tools of class composition analysis and militant research…are a good place to begin mapping class composition and plotting a course towards recomposition.”
While the Team Colors Collective concur in both Marks’s and Caffentzis’s mission to document and articulate an emerging global working class recomposition of power, some of the rest of the volume misfires. Many of the contributors add little or nothing to Team Colors’s project. Aside from very insightful participant observations of how to organize precarious service workers by the Starbucks Workers Union and reinvigorate the squatting movements led by Take Back the Land and City Life/Vida Urbana, Uses of a Whirlwind needed to be more selective to ensure that contributors are capable of adding to the project. It is unclear whether the remaining contributors share either the mission or possess the analytical framework or tools to do the required heavy analytical lifting. As a result, some of the contributors retreat too easily into worn out formulaic and pointless exaggeration of whatever activist project they belong to. But as Team Colors themselves attest, activist movements and corporate-foundation-funded non-governmental organizations do not a movement or recomposed working class make.
While Team Colors’ intent was to give voice to those in the midst of battle, this invaluable project would have been much better served if they had done the analyses themselves, as they manage to do in their compact companion Winds from Below (Microcosm Publishing: San Francisco, 2010, 102 pp.). This essential volume, which was intended to be their theoretical contribution to Uses of a Whirlwind, lays out their analysis of working class recomposition in the U.S. by closely examining the squatter, anti-foreclosure, and working class immigrant power movements. Central to their analysis is the dual impotence of the left that speaks truth to power while it is unable to organize to assert its power. Simultaneously, the left faces threats from the corporate non-profit industrial complex that has channeled, managed, and institutionalized the passion and tactics of grassroots volunteer organizing. This latter point, which recognizes non-profits supplementing the role of unions as a mechanism for disciplining the working class since their institutionalization in the 1930s, deserves a volume of its own.
Team Colors’ most cogent insight is that to reproduce themselves, working class movements need to organize for the reproduction of their members as people with real needs for what they call “care.” Borrowing from Sylvia Federici’s contribution in Uses of a Whirlwind, “Feminism and the politics of the commons in an era of primitive accumulation,” Team Colors concludes that “the potential of self-reproducing movements…is that it seeks to re-center this reproduction as an organizing principal and practice.” Team Colors appears to be reminding us that the road to success for many militant movements throughout past U.S. history and more recently in Latin America and the Middle East is that these movements have built and sustained their power by not only confronting capital, but self-organizing the growing unmet needs for child care, education, food, housing, health, companionship, and even music. Realizing and circulating these little “futures in the present,” as CLR James called them, are essential if we are to continue recomposing our class power in the face the relentless neoliberal assault.
For Team Colors, the darkness that lay before us is caused as much by the absence of the torches as the dim lights of our analytical tools. The way through, they assert, is to draw upon our own autonomous capacity to build the kinds of society we want right now.
Robert Ovetz is a precarious mindworker of academia at several San Francisco Bay Area community colleges in the U.S.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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.