Not really for the spread of the virus; there is nothing really that can be done to stop it at this point from becoming a pandemic. But from governments “locking down” entire cities, closing borders, and in effect using military and police to impose martial law.
The virus, sensationalistic media, and mass panic combine to normalize public-health authoritarianism. Blocking international travel and exchange will only make the situation worse by hindering the response, preventing shipments of vital medical supplies, and encouraging countries to conceal outbreaks as they don’t want to be the next one to have bans placed on them. It also encourages xenophobia and nativism.
If there is a silver lining, it’s the potential disruption of global supply chains could trigger a recession that would doom Trump.
The problem with individualism is this: eventually, you have to go to sleep and that is when they will shoot you in the head. See Fred Hampton for a historical example of that.
I have friends that are far-left individualists, kente cloth capitalists, and others who don’t have labels, who say they are ready for the revolution. They are ready, because they have guns and they have gone to the shooting range and they have practiced.
When they talk this way I typically stare. I stare not because I am anti-violence, I stare, because I have read The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Prince by Machiavelli , On War by Clausewitz (I read SOME of that one)…in any uprise of violence at this current time, the left will lose. It will lose badly.
The Far Right (which includes present-day Republicans) has more people, more discipline, and more weapons.
In an armed fight, disabled people will die, older people will die, children will die, and those who hesitate will die.
90% of the fraction of the people the left has who has the stomach to kill, will die, and that means all us will have to move, die, or be locked up.
You know I am not an alarmist. You also understand that I have been great at deducing future actions by observing present and past actions.
So my point is that what we need to do, instead of preparing for a battle, is to organize for peaceful political change. We need cooperatives up and running, so when the fire sale of the United States is over we have examples of a better way, instead of hoping the wealthy’s robots won’t enslave us for our universal basic income.
I guarantee we will lose in a violent battle. Accelerationism theory is only going to work well for those with an escape hatch: a passport, a trust fund, and a Ph.D. or other credential that allows a person to wax poetically in the ivory tower in another imperialist country after this one has burned to the ground.
We need to work together. We need to cooperate. Being reactionary is not going to be helpful. We need more time, this is not about stating that what we have is OK, or repairing what is not broken, because the system is not broken, it is working as it is supposed to. This is about giving us more time, because I don’t want us to die or even worse — be forced to live in what I fear is coming.
While Elizabeth Warren was destroying Bloomberg from jump at the Democratic Debate, I was doing bedtime with River and August (but I watched what I missed right away and Warren was incredible).
We read Freedom Soup, a gift from their aunt Rahula S. Janowski, and it’s a beautiful picture book about a Haitian Grandmother telling her Granddaughter about Black people fighting back against the ruling class and leading the Haitian Revolution against slavery and colonialism. The Grandmother is preparing Freedom Soup, denied to enslaved people before, as their family and friends come together to celebrate.
“They won!” River said with excitement.
“It’s like the Civil War.” my little four year old August says.
“Yes, in the Civil War, thousands and thousands of Black people fought back against slavery and freed themselves, just like in Haiti. And the revolution in Haiti both scared racist people in power, and inspired people here who had been forced into slavery, to fight back – before and during the Civil War and they were a major part of ending the slave system here.” I shared.
River asked questions about the Civil War and August mentioned how families were divided on different sides of the Civil War – as they’re learning about it in his pre-kindergarten class.
“Malcolm X had his family separated when white supremacists burned down his house.” River said, and his eyes got big as he starts making historical connections. River did a Black History Month project on Malcolm X last year and is learning more about him this year.
“What else do you know about Malcolm X’s life?” I ask and River goes over a handful of moments in his life, while August and I listen.
“And Harriet Tubman fought back against slavery too.” River adds. He continues, “She freed herself and then freed lots of other people from slavery and helped them get to a country where slavery was illegal.”
“They covered themselves in hay”, August jumps in. Which leads to a conversation about the Underground Railroad and how people used hay to cover themselves up riding in wagons and other ways people hid, as well as the Black and white abolitionists who hid people in their wagons, boats, and houses.
River read a kids book about Harriet Tubman – a book I’d been asking him periodically if he’d like to read for a couple of years, and he had said no, but now he was the one who brought up Harriet Tubman, he was the one who wanted to learn more. August and I snuggled and read stories about Frozen.
Before they both went to bed, we talked about how important it is that it’s Black History Month, and that a Black man named Carter G. Woodson, who lived here, in Kentucky, two hours away from Louisville, in Berea, taught history and created Black History Month and that because people fought and organized for justice, we now have Black History Month in our schools. Racism doesn’t want us to know these histories, but people fought back, just like in our book Freedom Soup, that aunt Rahula gave you.
I prayed last night with gratitude for all who have fought back, who have brought leadership to and participated in the vast efforts to make Black History Month a reality and who continue to expand what is possible, expand what kids and adults are learning, and making Black History Month part of movements for Black Futures where there is racial justice and collective liberation. And movements to end the malnourishment of white people’s souls and historical knowledge by white supremacy, so that white people rise up against this death culture too, and can get inspiration from the Haitian Revolution, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman and Black and white abolitionists, inspiration to get free.
This week we’re honoring George Washington or Conotocaurius (Town Destroyer) as the Iroquois called him, a man who enslaved 316 people and brought nine of them to the White House (Coard, Philadephia Tribune, 2018).
When I was a child, I was told that George Washington was our first president and that he had wooden dentures, but his dentures were not made of wood they were made of human teeth.
In 1789, according to the book “George Washington’s Teeth: An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century” by Dr. Robert Darnton, Washington had teeth extracted from enslaved people’s mouth and got a full set of dentures made.
Five years prior in an account documented in the “The Private Life of Washington’s Slaves” by Mary V Thompson it states:
May of 1784, Washington paid several unnamed “Negroes,” presumably Mount Vernon slaves, 122 shillings for nine teeth, slightly less than one-third the going rate advertised in the papers.
I guess this is supposed to let us know that while yes, you historians lied to us for decades about the origins of this stolen country’s first president’s teeth, now you’re telling the truth. Washington was clearly reasonable. He bought teeth from enslaved people. He didn’t just yank them out. See, he really was a good guy, because even white people sold their teeth back then, poor white people got their teeth yanked too.
Why don’t you care about them? What about poor white people. Don’t they matter to you?! This isn’t a Black thing, why do you always have to make this about “the blacks?”
As part of our third installment of the This is What Democracy Looks Like: A Genealogy of Movements film series, we are going to view “American Autumn”.
We will be in Milam Hall 318 on the Oregon State Campus at 6pm.
This is a grassroots documentary looking at the early days of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It illustrates the ways in which Occupy tried to connect the dots between so many different structural injustices. As Ronnie Schieb notes in this Variety review:
“Thus, in addition to airing grievances directed against banks and Wall Street by activists, professors, marchers, singers and comedians, the docu takes aim at student debt, covering marches protesting the skyrocketing cost of education; sits in on protestors seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that increased the power of moneyed interests in elections; and interviews those involved in environmental protection and climate-control issues. The docu includes footage of an anti-foreclosure group, the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending, as it interrupts the auction of a foreclosed home.”
Looking back at the Declaration of the New York General Assembly, its easy to see how the movement began by critiquing the undue influence of corporate money in the US political system, and the cascade of problems that follow the money trail:
“As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.”
Many people look back, almost 10 years later, and wonder if any of this noise made any difference. The cynical among my students, for instance, think it was a failure. I often have to remind them that there was a massive repression against Occupy, coordinated on a nation wide basis, just a few months in. Someone in power thought this was a threat.
But its also clear that so much of our political space today would not be as possible without the openings in the radical imagination created by Occupy: issues like student debt, minimum wage to living wage increases, houselessness, and the interest in democratic socialism represented by Bernie Sanders and AOC.
“But today, Occupy Wall Street no longer looks like such a failure. In the long run, Occupy invigorated ideas and people that influence today’s American left and Democratic politics.Occupy was in many, many ways a shit show,” Nicole Carty, a Brooklyn activist who was a facilitator at Occupy, told me. “But it deserves props, it really does, for unleashing this energy.”
Last year I said, “If not Bernie then Warren.” Her campaign is finished, even if she tries to limp on to South Carolina. I am sad to see her go, but a fourth-place finish means it’s over for her. Biden is finished as well but will stick around until Super Tuesday.
Now watch as the “Never Bernie” elites come out in force and in desperation. They will try to herd voters behind Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and then Bloomberg. In effect, they are telling Democratic voters to beat Trump you need to nominate uninspiring, mendacious, vindictive candidates.
I’m not saying Bernie can beat Trump, but I argue he has a better chance than these tools and representatives of the ruling class. Bernie inspires people. He inspires young people, Latinos, the working class. He is the only one left who can draw working-class white men away from Trump and into the Democratic fold.
If you think that Bernie being a socialist will hurt him, do you really imagine Trump won’t use that against whoever might be the nominee, including Bloomberg? In his case, it will be a steady stream of explicit/veiled anti-semitism of Bloomberg being a globalist and part of an internationalist conspiracy to rob Americans of their guns and freedom. Or how about Buttigieg who is completely unvetted and untested and has a new scandal coming out about his past statements and actions every day. Or Klobuchar, who is about as inspiring as her salad comb.
When Trump says Bernie is coming for you, all he needs to say is that’s right, “I am coming to give you all healthcare and take away all your medical debt.”
In 2016, I said the Left needed to unite behind Clinton because Trump was such a danger. Now liberals need to unite behind Bernie. He’s the only logical choice going forward.
The Anarres Project for Alternative Futures is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Battle for Seattle with a film series that looks to see how social movements in the past 40 years intersect and influence one another. This is a brief viewer’s guide and background for the showing of “This is What Democracy Looks Like”–the grassroots created documentary that demonstrates the power of the global justice movement confronting the World Trade Organization.
This showing will take place at 6pm on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 318 Milam Hall on the Oregon State Campus.
Lots of different retrospective articles were published last November. This one, by veteran activist John Tarelton tries to remember the action and examines how the Battle for Seattle still reverberates into today’s politics:
“So did the Battle of Seattle change the world? No one protest can do that. But by spotlighting a rigged political and economic system and demanding radical changes, we were the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, signaling the devastating consequences of unfettered global capitalism and the future movements that would someday rise to challenge it. And if Trump and the Republicans try to steal the election next year, the kind of edgy but disciplined mass civil disobedience we saw in Seattle may take on a new relevance as well.”
“The anti-WTO protests spawned the growth of new organizations and collectives: the Continental Direct Action Network, the Independent Media Centers, and the Radical Cheerleaders, to name just a few. Efforts to build a larger, more cohesive movement became possible as the Teamsters and the Turtles, the AFL and the Anarchists found common ground. Models of intergroup cooperation developed. We were on the offensive, targeting the capitalists in the WTO, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank; at the summits of the G8, G20, and World Economic Forum; and in transnational trade deals like the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)”
“In the vast acreage of published analysis about the splendid victory over the World Trade Organization last November 29-December 3, it is almost impossible to find anyone wondering why the 40-50,000 demonstrators were overwhelmingly Anglo. How can that be, when the WTO‘s main victims around the world are people of color? Understanding the reasons for the low level of color, and what can be learned from it, is absolutely crucial if we are to make Seattle’s promise of a new, international movement against imperialist globalization come true.”