Interview: Andrea Haverkamp–Laborwave Revolution Rado
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.