Certainly many of my friends who identify as anarchists will bristle at Senate Speaker Harry Reed’s depiction of Tea Party House Republicans as “anarchists”. Despite our upset , we should not be so quick to dismiss the accusations. Consider these facts.
House Republicans have effectively shut down the legislative process in the House (for example not passing the Farm Bill or the new Energy Efficiency legislation) because they are all being held hostage in their effort to try to kill ObamaCare (aka the Affordable Care Act). Which the Republican controlled House has now voted 41 times to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act. These votes are completely symbolic, for without Senate and Presidential approval, they mean nothing. Instead of doing the real work, they are focusing on symbols.
To make matters more difficult there are 3 opportunities in the next 4 months to shut down the government: The pending Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep funding the government likely needed by mid Oct, another vote to increase the debt ceiling (probably late Oct) and the January 2014 vote on ending the sequestration. If they can, like good anarchists, they will use all these opportunities to shut down the government if their demands are not met. Their demands won’t be met.
The more mainstream Republicans recently came up with a compromise which would force the Senate to vote on shutting down Obama Care in exchange for the CR going through. The most radical of the Republicans, the Tea Party Faction, rejected this compromise and seem willing (if not happy) to shut down the government over their demands.
Calmer heads are pointing out that these economic chokeholds, if deployed, could unnecessarily further damage the US’s credit rating and weaken the fragile economic recovery. Republicans counter that the government itself needs to be protected from Obama Care costs. Blocking any of these three pieces of legislation would result in the federal government being shut down – the lifelong dream of many a US anarchist.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
I thought about going into Manhattan yesterday morning to be at “ground zero” at the moment of the 12th anniversary of 9/11. But the more i thought about it, the more i realized the image makers combined with the people who suffered real personal loss would make the experience unworkable for me.
First some uncomfortable history. The 9/11 attacks did not come from nowhere, nor were they a surprise, nor was it because “they hate our freedom.” The reasons for the jihad against the US were publicly outlined by bin Laden in 1997. The reasons were threefold:
- US military presence in Saudi Arabia (despite significant protests)
- US sanctions in Iraq that killied 600K children
- US support of Israel’s oppressive policies towards Palestine
Though you would never know it from listening to the US media, much of the Middle East viewed these attacks as self defense against a US regime which was running over the region in a fashion mostly invisible to US Americans.
It was not a surprise because then president Bush II got the Aug 6, 2001 Intelligence briefing which sited that Osama was determined to strike within the US. This was just 5 weeks before the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks.
Real people died in the 9/11 attacks. Also importantly, it set the 8 million plus people of NYC (and the about 1 million of Washington DC) into a heightened sense of anxiety and fear. The damage from these attacks were massive.
So was the backlash after them. The anti-globalization movement was in full swing following the 1999 failed WTO summit in Seattle. In Sept 2000, over 100K protesters came to the World Bank/IMF meeting in Washington to protest the dangers and injustice of globalization. From an organizer’s perspective, this was, for me, as powerful as the lightning start of the Occupy Movement. Globalization is an organizer’s nightmare of an issue. There is no sound bite to describe it, it is inherently complicated and it has many different layers of problems embedded in it. These range from corporate takeover of decision making, to anti-union and anti-environment national law circumventing thru international treaty, to development banking shenanigans, to the robbery of the global south by rich countries, to disruptive trade agreements. So every citizen activist who gets a mic stuck in their face for 7 seconds has an impossible task.
The government backlash and people’s own sense of paranoia crushed this movement. Add to that the draconian restrictions and police state enabling legislation found in the Patriot Act. The WTC attacks were also the justification for the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also emboldened the US domestic spying program of the NSA.
September 11 is also the date 40 years ago that the Nixon administration supported Augusto Pinochet’s killing the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende. Declassified Top Secret files indicate that this was one of the US’s many violations of international law. Pinochet killed over 3,000 people and tortured nearly 30,000 according to extensive reports.
This is enough depressing history. On this historic day the US stands at the edge of war with Syria. What is not new, is that this attack would not have the support of the UN Security Council and thus would be in violation of International Law, like the Iraq and Chilean attacks. [It is also an international law violation to threaten an attack on another country without Security Council approval, something the US has been doing for weeks.] What is even more important and shocking is that Obama may well not even be able to get the US Congress to agree on these attacks. Would he go forward anyway?
We may never find out because the Russians have come to the political rescue proposing that Syria give up its chemical weapons. Syria has agreed (admitting for the first time it even has these weapons). Obama requested a delay in the congressional vote on the resolution to bomb Syria, in time to avoid potentially embarrassing votes in both chambers.
It is worth noting that the US used chemical weapons extensively in Vietnam. US-sprayed Agent Orange between 1962 and 1971 is responsible for killing and maiming 400K people and inducing birth defects in 500K Vietnamese children. It is also worthy of note that the US is not pressing Israel to give up its chemical weapons stores. Israel has signed the chemical weapons treaty, but not ratified it and thus technically is not bound by it.
So before you wave a flag to commemorate the death of victims of a terrorist attack a dozen years ago, it would be good to reflect on the US’s own illegal and immoral attacks around the globe.
There are many ways you can influence a group. One of the most common formats is the leader/citizen model. But his approach has all kinds of problems with it from misrepresenting constituent voices to corruption to ego mania. What some of us in the radical community propose instead is a organizer/facilitator model.
There are two important tests for the difference between organizers and leaders. The first is the scope test. Leaders are responsible for big ideas, agendas and quests. They need to find people to do all of the tasks (or find people who find people to do them). Leaders are busy managing the collective resources of the group to complete the shared vision.
No job is too low for an organizer. They fit in where needed. They help draw the agenda and vision for the group from the best ideas of the group. Organizers are busy too, but they are working on being part of the ad hoc collections of teams and task forces that get things done. Sometimes they manage these, other times they are doing things anyone could do.
The second test is a credit test. When the work of a leader is completed and the populace is asked what has happened, most will respond by saying “Look at the wonderful things our leader has accomplished.” When an organizer is finished the people will say “Look at the great things we have accomplished.”
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
Mahmoud Mohamed Boray in Qena wrote the following:
Was it a Coup or a Revolution? It’s not really hard to answer the question. If you want to know just open the dictionary to find the definition of the coup; you will find (a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; especially : the violent overthrow alteration of an existing government by a small group). This is exactly what happened in Egypt when the army overthrew the first democratically elected president in the history of all Egypt. In the first of the essay I will try to give a small hint of the most populated electorate in Egypt that voted for Morsi during the presidential elections in 2012.
In the first round Morsi was defeated in the battle of ballots for example in (Cairo, Alexandria and Mounfia) but most of the upper citizens voted for Morsi (except Luxor, which depends on tourism).
What I’m trying to say is that a lot of people are against Morsi in Cairo, but many more are supporting him in the south (where the media is absent). Watch the videos of the upper Egypt massive marches in Qena, Aswan, and Menia.
You can find more cities and many marches from all upper cities and in Cairo, Alexandria almost all parts of Egypt, but those who protest against Morsi can be found in certain areas.
We all know that democracy is the rule of Majority and we can know who is the majority by elections not but mobilizing people in the street.
Why it is not a revolution?
Because it’s the first revolution that the army, police , the ex-members of Mubarak’s party and the thugs participated in and for the first time they were in Tahrir Square as revolutionaries.
El Baradi himself said that once on CNN “we made an ally with the ex members of Egypt Mubarak members to get ride of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Well people said there was no democracy during Morsi’s era and that’s why there were 30 million in Tahrir Square!
First, there weren’t 30 million. That is a lie made by the military council to cover the coup with the people’s will of 30th of June. According to some calculations Tahrir Square is smaller than Macca the biggest square in the world. People that were in Tahrir couldn’t be a million according to the calculations of engineering.
Second , during Morsi erano channel that was against him was shut by the Islamic government.
Some went beyond Criticism like Basem Yousef in his show (El Barnameg). He called Morsi the weak sheep, the idiot and sometimes the devil. After all Basem and many more like him were working freely under Morsi regime. Under Morsi regime (for the first time in the history of Egypt the constitution was written by members who were elected by the parliamentary members who were elected by thepeople of Egypt and 66 % of the Egyptian people voted for the constitution (around 20 Million). Under Morsi regime there was a demonstration almost every day and there were so many demonstrations near the presidential palace in Cairo. Some protesters tried to burn the palace and the guards returned to use water and tear gasses to stop them from breaking in the palace.
In this video you will see the protesters trying to burn and break in the palace during the year of Morsi there were 600 marches and strikes against him yet the country kept going with building new factories and saving some jobs for youth.
Now in Egypt there is not an elected president or parliament.
There is nothing called freedom of speech as they shut down 10 channels and 8 Journals.
During the Military rule there were 18000 detained with no crime (merely because they protested against the coup). There is nothing called an elected committee for the constitution. All its members were appointed by the army to mend the constitution or to write a new one. They appointed generals as ministers and governors (militarize Egypt) as people call it.
During the Military rule, 5000 were killed by the army , police and thugs.
The same scene was repeated on Friday in Ramses Square, Mostafa Mahmoud Square, and every single square in all the governorates of Egypt. In my city people were killed and many were injured by the police and the army.
If Morsi was a dictator, I have no idea what to call the current regime.
The Muslim brotherhood made mistakes, but in politics everyone makes mistakes and sometimes big ones, but what happened in Egypt was a conspiracy made by the army and Mubarak’s men (beginning with the blackout, lacking of petroleum products and gases ). These were all made by the army to mobilize people against the democratically elected system at the End and I’m sure of what will happen next.
Crystals Gray’s View:
Egypt is on my mind. It is a horrible situation, but it is also very complicated and if one just follows the mass media it is easy to think it is simple. Of course, the violent over-reaction of the military (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, special forces, militarized police) is wrong.
I feel the resignation of ElBaradei (Nobel Peace prize UN arms control inspector who stood up to the US over Iraq), who was Vice President of the new government is appropriate. But some Egyptian revolutionaries do not.
Why? The Brotherhood is:
1) not democratic, as their actions since they came to power prove;
2) the Brotherhood is not nonviolent. While hundreds of Brotherhood protesters have been gunned down, dozens of police have been killed as well. Brotherhood protesters have also attacked Coptic churches (30 or more), Coptic businesses, and even the Library in Alexandria.
In the election that brought Morsi to power, the revolutionaries got more votes (in the primary), but they were divided among 3 candidates. Since then, the Brotherhood has lost support, so while they have a strong organization they are now clearly in the minority.
Most Egyptians fear the Brotherhood more than the military. The bulk of the soldiers are two-year conscripts, which is why the first stage of the Revolution was a success… there were not enough elite “political” troops to overcome the protests….although several thousand people were killed. But, hardly any (if any, I cannot confirm any military, police, or thug deaths in the first stage of the revolution).
Compare that to the current situation, which clearly includes armed Brotherhood militants as well as sectarian attacks on Coptic and secular institutions. If the Brotherhood came to full power, Christians and Shia and other non-extreme Sunni would be directly persecuted. All women would lose most of their rights. Homosexuality and all other secular perversions, such as alcohol, would end and tourism would be drastically cut back.
Reprehensible as the military actions are, it is understandable that most of the revolutionaries (the majority of Egyptians these days) are supporting the military at this point, even though parts of that same military have killed several thousand revolutionaries. The other option is worse.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
The most vexing and important question for the next generation of Occupy is what do we think about violence as a part of protest.
There is a philosophical framing of this argument as the acceptance or rejection of the strategy of a diversity of tactics. The unofficial spokes persons for the black block are the CrimethInc Kids who have a tight case for the activist right to violence
What is violence? Who gets to define it? Does it have a place in the pursuit of liberation? These age-old questions have returned to the fore during the Occupy movement. But this discussion never takes place on a level playing field; while some delegitimize violence, the language of legitimacy itself paves the way for the authorities to employ it.
The case against violence in the context of Occupy’s daughter movements is one of parasitism and culture. The black block attends events in which the principal organizers have declared that the philosophy of the event is a non-violent one. The event maybe family friendly, it might even be a permitted protest (something i would not recommend, but happens). So hundreds or perhaps even thousands of people show up expecting to have a certain type of experience. They come planning to express their political descent with a certain personal risk.
The black block is often seeking confrontation with the police. They are generally a small fraction of these larger events. By fighting with the police, they are basically using the other protesters who signed on to a different set of agreements as there shields and foils. Children might get tear gassed, grannies might get beat up by the cops, pacifists might end up in jail unexpectedly.
Of course if the black block wants to organize an action where the agenda of fighting with the police is explicate and is known to the participants, i have no problem with this. i might not choose to attend, or might choose to support it in some indirect way (i’ve done plenty of fighting with the police, i am currently retired from this sport), but i would not feel like a larger group of non-violent protesters was being used.
The real problem with the black block at Occupy and other non-violent identified events is that they damage the movement. It is often a stretch for people to come out and protest, they are taking personal risks to do this type of activity. Generally movements succeed by being persistent, by growing and by being clever in their tactics. If a minority of protesters, violating the spirit of the events agreements causes other protesters not to return to future events, they are setting the cause backwards.
A handful of communards and folks from the Keep went to the mid-Atlantic regional burn, Transformus. Feonix and i applied for a grant to do a Burning Man style internal Post Office and were accepted. Madness did some excellent art work and made the physical office happen.
Lots of people enjoyed carrying mail and receiving mail. We moved easily 200 letters and packages. Feonix got the postal carriers these snazzy quasi official looking hats and we were one of the many hits of the event. We hosted a love letter clinic, told myriad jokes and stories and postal patrons shared with us how the event had changed their lives and helped them become more of who they wanted to be.
As and activist i walk away from Transformus with the perennial (and much debated in this blog) question “Can Festivals save the world?” Transformus was certainly inspirational and i had my own personal revelations (which i will write about in another blog entry).
One of the things i was struck by this time was how events beyond the control of the organizers influence these festivals. On the last two nights of Burning Man events there is the burning of an effigy of a man and temple burn. At the big burn in Nevada these are two quite powerful events.
What happens is there is a performance, with fire spinners and various pyrotechnic displays leading up to the effigy of the man being ignited. And then after the participants watch for a while, they start to move. And ultimately, thousands of people are running around this burning, crumbling structure.
Unfortunately, rumor has it, a few years back, someone in an altered state of consciousness ran into the fire at Transformus, perhaps in an effort to kill themselves. The regional authorities responded predictably and clamped down a number of safety regulations on event. The result is that the fire safety perimeter for the effigy burning is much larger and unlike the big burn in Nevada, it is not longer possible for people to run around the fire.
This might seem like a small point, but to me it had a huge effect. One of the ten guiding principals for Burning Man is Participation. What this means is we are trying move away from the idea that you come to a festival to be entertained and instead are engaged and active. You are not there to be audience, but rather an organizer. As an activist, this is mimicking the change we need to see in the world, pushing people away from their passive screens or viewed performances and towards thinking about how they want to be making things happen.
My dear friend Reyes from the Keep wrote a wonderful detailed blog post about the Post Office and Transformus in general. Included in it are the principals of the Post Office, which are hear for your edification and entertainment.
Post Office Protocols and Rules:
1. For each service, we strongly recommending gifting us an item, story, memory, or joke.
2. Both the writer and the recipient must pay postage fees to send and receive mail.
3. Postal officers are allowed to read mail unless specifically requested not to.
4. Postal officers may be deterred by swimming, kissing, or other time-squandering activities. However, they must do their utmost to deliver all the mail in their care.
5. All postal officers must wear a postal uniform cap at the time of their service — when they have completed delivery, they must return the PO caps with all due speed.
6. Postal officers may keep any gifts they earn for themselves.
7. The postal mistress, Brosie Brazen aka Leo Locks, may change any rule at her leisure.
8. At any point, there is always something to do at the Post Office. All postal officers are volunteers and all people are encouraged to volunteer. Similarly, all are encouraged to write mail. Postal Officers are never the servants of the “customer,” and are to be respected.