Interview: Andrea Haverkamp–Laborwave Revolution Rado

andrea pic

Laborwave Revolution Radio is a podcast started in 2017 in Corvallis, Oregon.  It is regularly hosted by Andrea Anarchy and Person X.  This podcast features revolutionary news and activism commentary on a national and global level.  We interviewed one of the founders, Andrea Haverkamp, to talk about the goals of the program and to hear what inspired its creation.  You can listen to Laborwave on Soundcloud here.


What is your work with Laborwave Revolution Radio about and what do you hope to accomplish with it?


Laborwave Revolution Radio is a podcast for leftist politics, critique, news, and activist interviews. The inspiration for starting this podcast came from, myself, being a media consumer and seeing a big difference in media presence between political spheres. Conservative media is much larger in terms of numbers and content creators than liberal media, which itself dwarfs the amount of leftist or union oriented media out there. This includes podcasts – if you look on Apple Podcasts or Google Play, the most popular political podcasts are either right-wing or NPR-esque centrist reporting which leaves a lot of critiques out of their discussions. We wanted to add a podcast which advocated locally and nationally, in solidarity with all the groups that intersect struggles here at Oregon State. This brought myself and my co-conspirator Person X to Laborwave – Revolution Radio, Corvallis. Our name harkens back to New Wave music and Waves of activism, whether feminist or otherwise. A wave of labor with revolutionary politics is rising and we wanted to capture this. We have had the wonderful opportunity to interview national figure David Barsimian, feature speeches and presentations that occurred locally from Sylvia Federicci and Zoe Samudzi, and interview local activists such as Mickinai Arefaini and Paige Kreisman. We usually report on news local and national and present articles we enjoy from leftist publications, anti-racist movements, and union organizing. Together we hope that this spurs conversation and community in Corvallis and highlights to communities elsewhere the amazing work being done in this small town. Part of imagining the success of a radical social/political/economic revolution is reporting on it. It is occurring all around us!


Who would you consider your organizing heroes and what did you learn from them that inspires you?


My organizing hero – hands down – is Emma Goldman. The way she was able to agitate large numbers of people in her speeches on the street, the fire and ferocity in which she spoke, and the way her words incited other to radical action is so deeply inspiring. Her sharp writing and critical perspectives were decades ahead of her time, and she stands out as one of the most influential late 19th century to early 20th century anarchist theorists. Over a hundred years ago she argued for sexual liberation, an end to prisons and legal systems of border regulation, and remained staunchly opposed to the Women’s Suffrage movement on the grounds that women should band together to end the system of government voting writ large. Her and Eugene Debs were a few of the most targeted high profile revolutionaries by the U.S. government, leading to legislation to pass such as the 1912 Sedition Act which specifically sought to silence their speech. Subsequently, our anarchist history has been confiscated, criminalized, banned, and burned for a century. Even when Emma was deported she maintained her activism from abroad and never ceased to advocate for a new social order built upon egalitarian justice. I hope to be able to channel her fire, her passion, and her ability to draw thousands to her words in public spaces with her words. While our public spaces are now limited, and crowds rarely gather in such numbers on the streets these days. If Laborwave were able to reach the numbers she was able to draw a hundred years ago I would be fulfilled in life.


In her essay “Anarchism – What It Really Stands For” she defines anarchism as “The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.” This is a guiding principle for my own ever-developing political philosophy, especially as it has grown and developed through synthesis with black liberation movements and transnational feminism.


Emma Goldman speaking in New York’s Union Square, 1916, where over 3000 gathered to listen.


What gives you hope for the future?


I am inspired and moved by the power of new media – including the often ballyhooed social media – to connect radicals, share organizing strategies, experience one another’s stories, and build global class solidarity. When I grew up in the early 90s my eyes were opened by the internet which allowed me to explore concepts such as evolutionary biology and communism despite a sheltered upbringing in rural Kansas. The internet is far from an egalitarian service, riddled with surveillance and capitalist pressures,  but despite this the spread of information and connection has contributed enormously to the revolutionary struggle. I would not be where I am today if it were not for the connections we are forming. Podcasts such as Laborwave can spread political thought to the far reaches of the globe, and even sharing critical perspectives on Facebook leads to life changing conversations. Activists are not born overnight – we develop through a thousand tiny conversations. I believe the internet age has accelerated the rate in which these thousand conversations can occur. Additionally it allows us to intervene when toxic fascist conversations are occurring to interrupt their cycle of malicious recruiting.



What do you think are the most significant obstacles to social/economic justice in the future?


It might seem contradictory to what has given me hope, but I believe the Information Age has given us significant road blocks at the same time. Study after study show that we are becoming more insular and fragmented through the algorithms employed by Google and Facebook which tailor our daily internet experience to be the most agreeable to us. The same google searches on different computers will lead to wildly different results based on browsing history they have obtained. Famously during the turmoil in Egypt it was shown that one user account might see news on the social upheaval, while another may produce results highlighting tourism instead. The way that I interact – and distribute a podcast – with people very much like myself is a hurdle in our organizing. Emma Goldman was able to reach crowds of thousands of very different people. This occurs directly alongside our loss of public spaces. While we have gained the ability to connect and distribute with like minded individuals, it has distanced us wildly from those who need intervention the most. Public spaces where crowds meet and mingle are virtually non existent. There is simply no need to congregate in the fashion people did 100 years ago. The state has been very successful in squashing many of the societal support structures which allowed for most of the social movements over the past few decades. Ending the draft effectively took upper class and middle class comrades out of the subject population of oppressive military service. Contrary to many narratives, it allowed our government and influential citizens to become completely separated from the wars we instigate. The sky rocketing income inequality and inaccessibility of college tuition access has critically impacted leftist organizing. The economic ability for students to spend large amounts of time subsisting on small amounts of money – without tens of thousands of dollars in loans – squelched campus radicalism. We are shoved into wage work to pay off these loans right upon graduation. Myself, I am no exception. How can we build communal spaces and new commons when private landowners have rendered it economically impossible? Public spaces have been reduced, heavily regulated regulated, and organizing in them has been criminalized. Combined with Information Age fragmentation of our society into like-minded social sectors, it is difficult to see a clear path forward. This presents new challenges for decades old organizing strategies that I am sure we will overcome. We require rapidly shifting strategies and organizing innovations coming out of these challenges. The alt-right and nazi-ism has particularly capitalized upon new media, loss of the commons, and social fragmentation. I hope we are doing the same.


What books or movies or media would you recommend people study to learn about organizing and social change?


I am going to kick it off with a podcast I love – Kicking the Kyriarchy Kyriarchy is a theory that we live in a society not directly hierarchical or patriarchal, but that all of the axis of difference come together to form a system of power which may look more like a pyramid, complex and full of horizontal, vertical, downward, and ever-changing pressures. It is closely tied to intersectional feminist theory as a way to view social domination and subjugation. The wonderful producers, Elena and Sidonie, walk the listeners through various forms of oppression and the tangled knot they form in our every day lives. I can’t recommend it enough!


One of my favorite books is Captive Genders released through AK Press. In the age of rainbow capitalism, it could not be more important. It expertly outlines the social regulation of gender and sexuality through the prison system and administrative governance, which particularly enact violence on black and brown queer/trans bodies. It contains a collection of powerful essays and stories from a broad range of activists. It provides scathing critique of modern LGBTQ+ politics while simultaneously highlighting radical transformative justice organizations such as FIERCE! in New York City and Critical Resistance. Outlining strategies to build an abolitionist queer movement and providing educational materials for our communities, this is an essential volume to get ahold of.


I am a creature of the internet – I barely turn on a TV anymore. If you are prone to binge watch youtube videos, I gotta hand it to John Oliver.  John Oliver is certainly closer to NPR style politics than anything I engage in as an activist. But, regardless, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is often witty and intricate journalism which digs really deep into topics providing a lot of data, sources, and compelling narratives. I know we are all guilty of watching things that aren’t perfect – our quest for perfection can often stifle engagement. John Oliver’s topics for his 20-ish minute segments include sharp analysis of multi-level marketing’s targeting of women of color, of the private capitalist addition rehab industry, historical critiques on the mythos of Rudy Giuliani, and even the national boondoggle of government backed flood insurance. There are more than enough topics well worth a watch. His jokes rarely punch down, and instead punch up. But as an HBO political personality, he isn’t perfect. None of us are. I certainly am not. Go watch some John Oliver. Given the rising likelihood of national anti-reproduction rights being stifled, I highly recommend his videos on the sticky web of anti-abortion laws and tax payer funded crisis pregnancy centers . Each are roughly 20 minutes long and well worth it. I sure learned a lot.


Interviewed by Joseph Orosco, July 2018.

Interview: Elle Stanger


Elle Stanger has been a nude internet model for over a decade and an Oregon stripper for almost a decade, and she occasionally sells homemade porn and does webcam work. She has a B.A in Criminology from Portland State University, and has written about sex and relationships and parenting for various outlets like Men’s Health, Romper, Thrillist. She is currently finishing her training as a Certified Sex Educator with the Institute of Sexuality Education and Enlightenment. She also co-hosts a podcast called UnzippedPDX, which was nominated by the Willamette Week as Portland’s “Best Local Podcast”.

How would you describe your work?

My secret power is that I’m able to find teachable moments with my clients, especially around boundaries and communication. I’m basically a femme queer tattooed-Barbie that blends into the mainstream when she wants to, in order to make money or to educate. I’ve been so informed by my work with people, and I’ve learned that most mainstream Americans are looking for permission to be vulnerable, kinky, and intentional with their sexuality.


What are the sorts of experiences that led you to organize for better protections for sex workers in Oregon?

In 2014, I had worked in six different clubs, and been stripping in total for about seven years, and I had been horrified by some clubs, and impressed by others. Adult environments are like any other type of industry; there’s going to be a spectrum of minutiae that to wade through. Management and staffing is the biggest part of what determines a safe working environment, and infrastructure maintenance is important. If the venue owners don’t’ give a shit about their dancers, it is more likely that things like dancer abuse or injury will go undealt with. I and dozens of other strippers were contacted in September of 2014 by lobbyists and social workers from NASW and PacWest; they wanted to know if any strippers in Portland had workplace concerns.

About forty live entertainers gathered in a room at PSU, and we told them some of our needs: “The bouncers don’t kick out people who assault me”, “Our roof leaks water on to the stage when it rains”, or “I have a hard time finding housing that will rent to me”, “I pay $50 a shift to work and I leave with $20”. Everyone in the room eventually realized that the concerns were so wide-ranging, that it would make sense to create a hotline where live entertainers could find resources for their needs.

TL;DR is that we created one with bi-partisan support, Gov. Kate Brown signed HB 1359 in June of 2015, and a hotline was created, but within two years it was dismantled due to Oregon’s $1.8billion debt. The hotline only required $50k annually for staffing, but they killed it anyway.

 The only reason that I’m not saddened by this is because I heard from many people that the hotline wasn’t being managed well. But I figure that it was worth the fight just to prove that things like this can be built.


Who would you consider your organizing/social justice heroes and what did you learn from them that inspires you?

I’m inspired by every single social worker I’ve met. They don’t get paid enough, deal with highly sensitive and charged situations, and juggle so many clients. These humans truly must have an altruistic souls if they’re consistently carrying with that much emotional labor.


What gives you hope for the future in the work that your do?

I’m only 31, and whores have existed for at least a few thousand years, so it gives me comfort to know that bodywork and sex work is a constant and that workers can adapt to changing times. I have hope for the future of sex work because the proliferation of social media has made our voices impossible to ignore. And things ARE getting better, especially as more young radicals do their work to influence young moderates.


What do you think are the most significant obstacles to social justice in your field in the future?  Do you think that any of those obstacles are due to some people’s denial of sex work as work?

The most significant obstacle to social justice and equality is the continuing whorephobic attitudes that we hold for women who work sex. Stigma kills: we raise our children to think that violence against sex workers is funny and acceptable. Family Guy, 30 Rock, many shows and movies reinforce these ideas.

Then there are abstinence-”educators” that travel throughout the country, telling children that sex stretches our vaginas, or that multiple penises inside of a woman is like “multiple feet in a shoe”, and bad, inaccurate information like this reinforces the idea that sex is dirty or unhealthy.

Additionally, politicians and actresses make laws and films about sex trafficking, which is not the same as sex work. These people are not experts in these fields, and often do greater harm by confusing people between the issues of choice and consent. These things need to be addressed, and that’s partly what I’m here for.


What books or movies would you recommend people study to learn about social justice or organizing for sex workers?

That’s a great question, and can someone please email me when you find some answers to it! I haven’t yet found any books or movies about this particular intersection of topics. I would look for the writings of Audacia Ray and all things, she’s been a vocal and longtime organizer of sex worker rights.

Please don’t organize for sex workers unless you are one. If sex workers have concerns, please do ask how you can help facilitate their fight, if they want to make one.


We sometimes ask people to think about what things would be like “after the revolution”, meaning a really big change in which all the obstacles to social justice are demolished and social oppression is eliminated (obviously, an imaginary world!) After the revolution, do you think there would be sex work?

After the revolution there certainly wouldn’t be capitalism or commercialism in the way that it exists now, but people would still be working and making in order to live. There will always be activities that some people will be eager or willing to engage in, whether or not your rent depends on it.

I think it would be more of a “sex barter”. If someone wants to do my dishes in exchange for a handjob or a neckrub, let’s talk.


(Interview with Joseph Orosco, March 2018)


Interview: Lani Roberts


After twenty two years of award-winning teaching of moral theory, feminism, and ethics of diversity at Oregon State University, Dr. Lani Roberts retired and eventually moved to eastern Oregon. Soon after she moved there, she began teaching again, but this time, she taught citizenship classes as a volunteer for the largely Mexican immigrant community of Hood River, Oregon. She also helped to create a local chapter of the international group, Women In Black.


What are the sorts of experiences in life that led you to become an activist?

I would say the underlying principle that guides my (political) activism is “silence is consent” and I do not want to be seen by anyone as a consenting to the wrongs I am able to address. This, I believe, explains my continued activism even in retirement. My politics is who I am and I have not ceased being that woman in retirement. One of the highest values I hold is integrity.

I was raised in a home where no racist language was permitted whatsoever.  That doesn’t mean my parents weren’t racist in some sense because they did not see the treatment of the local Indigenous folks for what it was even given the “No Dogs No Indians” signs in local stores. The utter degrading harm done by the isms has always been in the forefront of my awareness thanks to my parents, thus my focus on the philosophy of oppression through my career.

During high school, I hung out with a group of friends (some are still friends to this day) who were in a borderland between the Beat generation and before the Hippies. We talked politics all the time. This was in the early 60s, and our awareness included the civil rights movement.

My political activism began in fall 1964 when an instructor in Writing 121 assigned this question:   What do you think about what’s going on in Viet Nam?  I went to the library at the University of Oregon and did research and came to the conclusion that it was a civil war and we (the US) had no business being involved there.  It was mostly young men in my age group who were being drafted.  So, I became an antiwar protestor, marched in the streets, often taking my older son along with me, from the time he could first walk.  Since then, it’s been a matter of moral integrity to me to resist wars.

For a while, I did research for the San Francisco Mime Troupe in 1970.  It was a cooperative where everyone earned the same, and it was a small amount. Part of our obligations was to attend a Mao meeting every Sunday afternoon.   Mostly, I researched the life of Che Guevara at the Cal Berkeley library for one of the playwrights.  It was all done on microfilm in those days.

My Hippie/Counterculture years introduced me to, and made me a believer in, growing our own food, communal living, cooperative stores, home birthing, taking care of the natural world, etc.  It amazes me sometimes how much the Hippie culture is widely embraced today.

I went back to school in my mid-30s after my mother’s death when I fully realized or groked (Heinlein – Stranger in a Strange Land) that life was finite and I’d better get busy. I began my Ph.D. program at age 40, as a single mom to my younger son. Even though Epistemology was my first love in Philosophy, I consciously decided to focus on Ethics, as a sort of counter balance to what I saw around me.  Studying moral theory only heightened my desire to act against wrongs and for the good, as well as giving me good reasons for doing so.


Since you retired, you started teaching citizenship classes and started standing with a group of women called the  Gorge Women in Black, in Hood River, Oregon. What motivated you to get involved in this work?

I started standing as part of the international Women in Black at OSU within one week of the United States bombing in Afghanistan just after the 9-11 event in NYC. I was distraught that we were destroying peoples who had nothing whatsoever to do with 9-11.   A friend asked me if I knew about Women in Black. I looked it up and it was a perfect fit. We stood once a week for 10 years at OSU until I retired.   Standing with Women in Black is me using my own body to interrupt the unconsciousness of passersby, to call attention to the wrongs and pains done to other folks.  It is also a focused meditation for me. A friend here in Hood River and I were agonizing over the world wide war the US was waging and I mentioned Women in Black to her. We began standing weekly on the main street downtown in February of 2015 and continue today with others joining us. For me, it is entirely voluntary with no obligation for anyone, including me. It is one of the best things I do for myself and others on a regular basis.

women in black gorge

Teaching the citizenship classes here (just finished the twelfth one) is one way I can use my skills as a teacher, do something I love, and make a concrete, real difference in peoples’ lives.   It does not suit me to attend meetings and talk about things.   But, when there is something real and concrete I can do to make a difference, that’s when I get involved.  I have also been tutoring English learners at the community college here, twice a week when classes are in session for the past six years.  It’s another concrete action that makes a difference.  I also get to use some of the linguistics I studied as an undergrad.


What gives you hope for the future?

I have been struggling with this given the state of affairs in the US today, but it is young people who have compassion and a consciousness of the harms we (United States) do both here and abroad.


What do you think are the most significant obstacles to social justice in the future?

Lack of awareness and compassion for others.


Are there any lessons you think you have learned from all these years of sustained activism?

I think the thread throughout my now 50 plus years of political activism is concreteness– embodied action that makes a difference, whether helping folks become citizens or interrupting the thoughtlessness of most people’s lives.


Interview by Joseph Orosco March 2018

Interview: Alexander Riccio


Alexander Riccio is a labor organizer based in Corvallis, Oregon. He co-hosts the podcast LabourWave Revolution Radio and is currently collaborating with the Common Space Collective on a project to revive the commons in the Willamette Valley.


What are the sorts of experiences that led you to become a union organizer?

I am asked this question, or a variation of it, a lot and I find it’s very difficult to answer. I think this is because when people ask, ‘how did you become an activist’ or ‘how did you become an organizer’ they seem to actually be asking ‘what is the secret to change people from being passive to active?’ At the risk of disappointing such earnestness, I do not think there is a secret formula we can learn that will magically turn people into activists or organizers. The process by which someone becomes who they are is one which covers an entire lifetime. While I believe there are cataclysmic moments, or events, that inevitably occur in a person’s life that will change the course of their personal trajectory, I think these are often less important occasions in a person’s development than we might like to believe. The experiences of everyday life are the ones that shape a person, and these often take on the appearance of monotony or lull, so much so that we tend to neglect how important such everyday life is for shaping a person’s perspective and steering them towards a life of passivity or action.


For me, I grew up primarily in a working-class house raised by a single-mother. My class background is complicated, because there were years where my mother re-married and her spouse slowly rose up the class ladder during their marriage. So I remember in one year I moved six times across three different states from apartment to apartment, and then we began moving less and our moves turned from one apartment to another to one condo to a rental house to a mortgaged home. There were years of stability, and then those years changed again to precarious living.


My experience as an adult has been one of precariousness to a slow and steady improvement in my class conditions (though not in a linear way) to where now I am modestly comfortable, but still very much a part of the working-class. All of this, which likely seems unremarkable, I think is tremendously important for the development of my political worldview.


I also grew up in a home where abuse at the hands of a former step-father was very common, which forced me to encounter the true ugliness of what some might refer to as “toxic masculinity.” I call it patriarchy. This was part of my everyday experience, and all of these things have shaped me and ultimately steered me toward organizing.


There were momentous events, as well, that directed me to organizing. Again, I don’t think on the whole these events were as important as the experiences of my everyday life, but they were still significant. The most significant single event, I believe, which guided me toward organizing was Occupy Wall Street. OWS sprang to life when I was twenty-three years old, working in a pizza restaurant where I made $8.50 an hour and had no healthcare (which was a particular challenge for me as I have chronic asthma). No one had to convince me that we live in a class society, but until OWS no one was saying things like “We are the 99%.” Once I heard that slogan it clicked for me that my material conditions as a wage-earner with no social safety net was a political relationship.

At the time of Occupy I was not yet ready to dive into activism and be a part of the movement, but I visited the encampments in Atlanta a couple of times and listened to people talk about a range of topics, from police brutality to the oppression of women to the dominance of the ruling class (the 1%), and then shortly after my visits the entire Occupy movement was brutally crushed by police. It was shocking to me at the time, and I realize in hindsight how naive I must have been to be shocked, but seeing the news for a week-straight of encampment after encampment being broken up by police and people getting the shit kicked out of them is something I’ll never forget. If you ever want to see me get ruffled, which I’m typically a pretty calm person, just tell me about how much “freedom” we have in the US to criticize our government.


I had to process what happened during Occupy for a while, I feel like at least a year, and then it became clear to me that I needed to get involved.


Who would you consider your organizing heroes and what did you learn from them that inspires you?

I’ve been very privileged in that I’ve had many great mentors who have helped guide me as an organizer. To sort of break the fourth wall here, two of my mentors who were quite honestly the biggest influences in my organizing are Tony Vogt and Joseph Orosco, the founders of the Anarres Project and two professors I had serve on my graduate school committee when I was a student. I also want to acknowledge Dr. Robert Thompson and Dr. Allison Hurst as great influences on me and my politics.


To me, there are two sides to the question of who are my “organizing heroes.” On the one side, there are those whose writings and political engagements have been inspiring and influential for me, and on the other side there are those who I have organized alongside that have inspired me and given me reason for hope. I feel that the latter are more foundational.


I’m impressed by the work of Jane McAlevey, Ursula le Guin, David Graeber, and many others. But, to sound a bit corny, my heroes are the ordinary people that I get to work alongside regularly. I’ve lived in Corvallis, Oregon now for over four years and I’ve been able to engage and work with so many people, and I continue to encounter new folks who are considerate and care about changing the world.


What inspires me the most is meeting someone and then getting to witness their own political development. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone who is completely new to organizing, and maybe thinks politics is a matter of voting for either a Democrat or Republican, and then have witnessed them become radicalized and tremendous leaders. It happens all the time.


These experiences help recharge my energy, because it reminds me that there are potential radicals everywhere and people are capable of enormous personal growth. As well, the vast majority of people that I’ve engaged with in political conversations, even when at first they’ve seemed like a conservative or apologist for the status quo, have proven to be incredibly sensitive and compassionate. Nurturing those qualities of compassion and sensitivity is a primary task for organizers. If we approach organizing from a framework where we recognize people as dynamic and not static, that they’re politics are not fixed but always changing, then we can begin to start recognizing, as John Holloway puts it, “the rebellion in each and every one of us.”


Since we’re all potential agents of change, then we don’t really need to rely on the heroics of a few individual people to inspire us, and really we probably limit ourselves when we’re searching for those few famed heroes because likely the heroes we’re searching for are right in front of us all along.


What gives you hope for the future?

In addition to the things I’ve said about every person’s extraordinary capacity for change, what gives me hope is the fact that capitalism is not stable. Its power seems inescapable, but in fact the systems of domination we all live under are unstable and have many weaknesses.


I always make the following point when people slip into despair and fatalism, which is a particularly big problem for Leftist intellectuals (the ghost of Foucault perhaps): if capitalism were so absolutely powerful then why is it necessary to keep innovating techniques of surveillance and social control? In fact, why is it necessary for all the police and policing if the status quo were so total?


I make this point to highlight that capitalism is always having to conspire new ways of trying to control people because we are always rebelling against it, and as far back as written history one finds that there is a constant rebellion by ordinary people against any system of domination they live under. Silvia Federici points out that capitalism itself emerged as a counter-revolution to explosive liberation movements happening in the 16th and 17th centuries.


Maybe it’s just as plausible as any other claim about human nature to suggest that part of human nature is the refusal to be oppressed? The tendency latent in humans to refuse their subordination is something that continues to fuel my commitment to organizing, because while the future is not predetermined something we can reasonably assume as a given is that people will continue to fight against any forms of injustice we collectively encounter. Because of the human drive toward rebellion, capitalism is not stable. So that’s hope. The harder challenge is how to maximize such refusal into something at the scale we need to overturn this rotten system.


What do you think are the most significant obstacles to social/economic justice in the future?

I genuinely believe that the vast majority of people are capable of personal growth stimulated by their empathy for others, but what we encounter today is an incredibly isolating society where public space is steadily shrinking and the opportunities for people to connect with one another on a face-to-face basis are disappearing. When we are alienated in such a way, it becomes incredibly easy for people to dehumanize each other, because we don’t have to see each other’s lives and experiences as fundamentally human. In other words, attaining justice will require that we begin recognizing each other as human beings.


Part of how power is embodied is through the display of who gets to be considered human and who doesn’t. Within feminist theory there is the concept of “interpretative labor,” where what these thinkers have explored is how people who are oppressed are constantly in the position of having to identify the emotional needs of their oppressors. Oppressed people do this as a strategy for survival.


What this means is that we’re constantly looking through the gaze of the powerful in order to empathize with their so-called plight (consider here the despicable notion of the “white man’s burden” coined by Rudyard Kipling used as a pretext for invading foreign countries).


I remember one specific conversation I had in a classroom where I began talking about how difficult the labor and life of a farmworker is and how CEOs of big banks are not creating socially valuable goods that we can actually eat, and therefore we should be paying farmworkers more than CEOs when someone immediately said, “But those CEOs have hard jobs, and it can be really stressful to be a CEO.” What about the stress for the worker in the fields being paid poverty wages?


Coming back to my original point, I think these struggles to be recognized as human are really rooted in the structures of everyday life and the inability for people to have regular meaningful contact with one another. If we could start creating spaces where people can come together to relate to each other as humans, then I think we’ll begin making progress on these fronts.


Take up space.

Take it all.


I think one of our immediate tasks in fighting capitalism is to transfer as much private space as possible into public space, and as much public space as possible into the commons. And when we begin to start thinking about the commons, we can really enlarge our collective imagination about just what these spaces might look like and what they could mean. Common spaces could be seed exchanges and community gardens, open software programs and a collectively owned internet, they could be communes or cooperative workplaces, land trusts for sustainable farming or housing, and they could even be cooperatively owned laundry mats with free libraries and free educational classes.


The absence of shared spaces really fatigues our social movement energies, and I think if we begin to start creating spaces which can be for the purpose of organically reproducing our movement energies and relating to one another on a human level then we can shatter our collective alienation and really build a better world.


What books or movies would you recommend people study to learn about organizing and social change?

There are so many great books to read, but I’ll share a few that have been particularly impactful for me. John Holloway’s In, Against, and Beyond Capitalism; Jane McAlevey’s No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power; adrienne maree brown’s Emergent StrategiesOur Word is Our Weapon a collection of works by the Zapatistas, David Graeber’s The Democracy Project; Andrew Cornell’s Oppose and Propose; Grace Lee Bogg’s The Next American Revolution; and for a great encyclopedia of key radical terms and ideas I love the collection Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle.


For movies, the series Trouble put out by is spectacular and I love the films, Tout Va Bien with Jane Fonda and directed by Costa-Gavras. I also really like movies like It and A Bug’s Life because they have very clear messages on inequality and the power of collective action— just think about it.


But for all the great books and films one can learn about social movements, nothing really beats the education you’ll receive by getting involved with a group, whether that means joining an existing group or creating a new one. So for folks that are looking to gain more insights and education on how social change happens, the best way is to put yourself out there and start forming relationships with people in your area that are passionate like you are. I know for many this is daunting because we can feel like we don’t know enough, we’re not educated on political matters, we don’t have anything to say or our own original ideas, and we don’t have the experience all of which may make one feel very insecure. But, speaking as an organizer, I can guarantee you that you’re not alone in this feeling and the people that present themselves as super confident, cool, and knowledgeable on every little thing often are full of shit because we’re all really trying to figure this out as we go. Like the Zapatistas say, “walking we ask questions.”


(Interview with Joseph Orosco, February 2018)


Interview: Christina Allaback and Trek Theatre


Christina Allaback is the Artistic Director for Trek Theatre, a new theater company out of Eugene, Oregon that seeks to bring Star Trek:  The Next Generation episodes to live public performances. Continue reading “Interview: Christina Allaback and Trek Theatre”

Interview: Heather Wolford


Heather Wolford has been involved in Latin American solidarity, human rights accompaniment, and immigrants’ rights work for several years. She holds masters degrees in International Studies and Public Administration from the University of Oregon, where her academic work focused on political economy, public policy, and social movements in Latin America. Continue reading “Interview: Heather Wolford”

Interview: John Lindsay-Poland

John Lindsay-Poland has been active in movements for Latin American human rights and solidarity and demilitarization of US policy. He currently coordinates the Wage Peace program in San Francisco of the American Friends Service Committee, an organization founded in 1917 that promotes peace and non-violence. He resides in Oakland, California. Continue reading “Interview: John Lindsay-Poland”