Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some other recent writings by others on work to complement "Union of Arsonists"

The most recent piece on work "Union of Arsonists" has been getting a pretty interesting response and getting some conversations going. I deliberately tried to avoid a lot of theory in writing it, trying to write in a more straightforward way. However, for people interested in following up on some of the ideas in a more academic way, there's a lot of older theoretical works that I could point people towards, since workers and others have been grasping with the new organization of work under late era capitalism since at least the Italian autonomist movement and the Situationists of the 60's and 70's.

But rather than link to those older works (which are certainly well worth checking out), in order to further contribute to that discussion I'm going to link to some recent articles on work that I have found interesting of late. As some may know, I've had a forced vacation recently thanks to a cop-induced broken arm, so I've had a little time to delve into some of the more recent developments in the anti-work field, so to speak. From these writings I have culled a few pieces that I think folks who found the "Arsonist..." piece interesting would find worth checking out.

(1) Bone Idle: or Work Doesn’t Work! An Interview with Ian Bone and Ray Roughler Jones

The first is an interview with Ian Bone (Class War) and Ray Roughler Jones on their relationship to work growing up in England's working class. The most interesting bit here is their explanation of the general refusal of work that permeated that time and the way that the UK welfare state allowed for a general shirking of work.

An excerpt:
H: And when did you both take against work?

RRJ: It’s just that nobody worked, none of our friends worked.

IB: No one ever worked… in Bash the Rich there’s a story about “turning to the working class” but we didn’t know anyone who was working! We were all on the dole so we started a Claimants’ Union, a union for people on the dole. We would fight to get you all your entitlements. The classic line was: “If they get you a job, we’ll fight your case!” There were all the jokes about what occupation you gave when you were signing on: Father Christmas, snow clearer. and so on. One job I gave was “Coronation Programme Seller”. “What’s that then, Mr Bone?” asked a puzzled clerk. “Very long hours. On the day, you’re up at five in the morning till all hours,” I countered — not mentioning I hadn’t had the luck of securing such a position since 1953.

(2) Sisyphus and the Labour of Imagination:
Autonomy, Cultural Production, and the Antinomies of Worker Self-Management

The Second piece is an academic by Stevphen Shukaitis published this month in "Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action". Shukaitis takes the analogy of Sisyphus and applies it to the struggle for workers self-management in the modern era, bringing in his own experience working at the collective record label Ever Reviled Records.

This combination of history and experience allows him to look at the problematic relationship between workers control that doesn't topple the overarching capitalist system outside it. Of particular note is the way that, absent a total break with capital, workers self-management can sometimes recuperate capitalism and turn workers from their natural tendency to develop means of resistance to work into self-police watching each other for those same traits under self-management. That, of course, suggests that a complete break is in order to reap the full benefits from it and that previous limited experiments only hint at its potential.

An excerpt:
And so where does this leave the conceptual territory and practices of self-management? Best consigned to the dustbin of history? Tempting, perhaps, although to do so would be a bit hasty, and likely an instance of throwing out the baby with the bathwater of our discontent. WSM can play a vital role in social resistance, but one that is more limited than I thought several years ago when I started thinking about this more deeply. WSM can play an important role in creating networks of knowledge and cooperation laboratories for experimentation and the development of resources and skills for “building the new world within the shell of the old,” to use the old Wobbly phrase. But it is important to never forget that this new world is being built within the shell of the old, within the iron cage of capitalist rationality, which is far more likely to impinge upon its growth than to be torn asunder by other forms of social life developing within it. Practices of WSM exist in a cramped position as a form of “minor politics” and composition. Their radicality rests in this position, in WSM’s capability to create resources and time, and in consciously avoiding becoming a “major” or representative form.[45] In other words, WSM can help to create space and time that foster the cultivation of other possibilities--for other possible worlds emerging. But that does not mean that we can just “buy back the world” from the capitalists, or that WSM can serve as a means to overcome without difficulties the vast arrays of power that still exist. WSM is not an unambivalent outside to the realities of capitalism. But it can create time that partially is one.

It is also fundamentally important that self-management, as an affirmation of the creative potentiality of non-alienated labour, does not unwittingly find itself sliding back into an affirmation of “the dignity of work” that has haunted various forms of labour organizing and radicalism from times immemorial and that has been the target of radicals more prone to celebrate the refusal of work and argue for its reduction, from Paul Lafargue to the Italian autonomists, Bob Black to the Situationists. The idea would be rather to extend and deepen the relation between the refusal of work and its self-management, as when Vaneigem called for the unity of workers’ councils and the refusal of work.[46] This is not nearly as paradoxical (or silly) as it might seem at first. Rather it is an argument based on the realization that socialized labour’s potentiality is revealed most clearly by its absence, which is the basic concept underlying strikes after all. Therefore, the way to affirm such potentiality is not under conditions which limit it absurdly within the present but by the constant immanent shaping of a collective imagination and creativity that will not allow itself to ever be totally bound within a fixed form

(3) Nowtopia: Strategic Exodus? by Chris Carlsson and Francesca Manning

Finally, I've made no secret here about my affinity for the recent work of Chris Carlsson, which I think tries in a very interesting way to bring together Marxist concepts of composition into play in a period in which the demands of workers for control over labor increasingly manifest outside the workplace. This is the result of thirty or forty years of de-skilling, professionalization, automation, computerization and the transfer of productive work overseas.

In such an environment, the working class increasingly finds itself seeking to attack its own class position -- that is, to leave the fight for control of the means of production (such that they are) behind and to develop new means of attacking capitalism outside the workplace. Carlsson and Manning here do a good job of providing a fresh context for the emergence of a variety of tools of resistance often maligned by leftist revolutionaries as drop-out or lifestylist. This article draws extensively from Carlsson's relatively recent book "Nowtopia" which PCWC distributes.

An excerpt:
Nowtopia is a term that attempts to describe the myriad efforts to reclaim and reinvent work against the logic of capital. Nowtopia identifies a new basis for a shared experience of class. Specifically, the exodus from wage labor on one side, and the embrace of meaningful, freely chosen and “free” (unpaid) work on the other. No longer can our waged jobs be assumed to define us, and no longer can they be the primary basis for politics. Precisely because so many people find their work lives inadequate, incomplete, degrading, pointless, stupid and oppressive, they form identities and communities outside of paid work—in spaces where they are not working class. It is in these activities that people, who are reduced on the job to “mere workers”, fully engage their capacities to create, to shape, to invent, and to cooperate without monetary incentive. They “work” or “labor” in a way in which the particular substance of their activity is meaningful. These communities may not look much like the working class organizations of the past two centuries, but it is important to recognize that in this topsy-turvy period of system breakdown and transition, new political forms are emerging to reshape the endless struggle between capital and humanity. In the face of widespread dismissal of nowtopian movements as “lifestyle” politics or irrelevant “dropout” culture, we argue that they are in fact new political forms that are addressing directly many immediate problems of capitalist society.

Today basic needs are going unmet for millions. Urgent efforts at long-term and medium-term planning to adapt to the increasingly visible collapse of natural systems are rejected out of ideological blindness. But individual human ingenuity flows over government and corporate obstacles. The solutions to social and ecological crises of our time are frequently coming from unwaged work that is done because people want and need it, rather than in hopes of monetary remuneration. Still at the margins of modern life for now, many people and communities are taking more of their time and care out of the market and making ways to live together, to get our needs met and desires engaged, by working together, working hard, and not working for money.

Nowtopians engage in a wide variety of labor-intensive projects, from organic gardening, bike repair, or coding software, to making music, writing fiction, producing radio shows, or painting a mural. Permaculturists, the quintessential nowtopian technologists, have initiated various epistemological challenges to basic scientific paradigms through their unpaid, passionate work. A semi-conscious war between these life-affirming, self-emancipating behaviors and the coercive domination of money, property, and survival is the kernel of a potentially revolutionary transformation.
For those interested in more from Carlsson on the concept of Nowtopia, I recommend watching the video below, in which he lectures, of all places, at the Google headquarters. Quite interesting indeed!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beer & Rev Archives: John Zerzan audio

With the soon-to-be-announced re-launching of Beer & Revolution season two, we've been going back through our audio archives and posting up more from season one. The more attentive of you may have noticed that we recently re-purposed the old, underutilized "What we're into right now" tab for Beer & Rev. You can now hit that tab for any updates on what's going on. Anything posted relating to that will show up there, including this first new audio from last year.

We're not technical experts and we're working on improving the audio quality for future recordings, but we get enough interest in this series that we think it's worth posting up what we have even if the quality isn't always the best. Of course, there are limits to how good we can get the sound to be (and help is always appreciated). After all, we don't do these things in a library, we do them in a bar/restaurant, so if you want to get the full experience you should come out, get yourself a pint and a pizza (all you can eat) and settle in for a good time listening to and debating with what we think are always interesting and provocative speakers and topics. Last years' attendance varied from 25 to 75, so you won't find yourself drinking alone at these things. Under 21 welcome.

And, as I hinted above, the new season is about to drop. Look for the new flyer in a day or so but in the meantime, mark you calendar for October 10th at 8:30. More details to follow. And, while I have your attention, we're always looking for presenters. Beer & Rev is a loose, open event, so it's not for everyone, but if you're heading our way and have something that you think you can add to the discussion, hit us up. Maybe we can work something out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Union of Arsonists: The flammable estates of the rich and the class war fires of liberation

Who says the local news is all crap these days? News Channel 3, always a shimmering example of journalistic excellence, has been kind enough to give us rich-hating anti-capitalists more kindling for the bonfires this week by offering up a guided tour of two of the most expensive homes (estates?) in the Valley.
In the photo gallery below we tour two of the most exclusive (and expensive) properties currently on the market in metro Phoenix. An eight bedroom, 12,000 square foot abode nestled on 40 acres in Paradise Valley and a 25,000 square foot villa with a bargain price of $24.9 million.
Get a look while you can at the wealth of the rich parasites that enjoy the good life while those of us down here suffer foreclosure, precarity, unwanted unemployment, soaring health care costs and repossessions, along with all manner of other humiliations from which the rich are immune. With Arizona now scoring the second highest rate of poverty in the country, it's more enraging than ever to see such opulence on open display.

Enjoy the tour. Take it all in. The 20 car garage. The acres of green grass. The huge master bedroom. Maybe make a few notes on your brief foray into the foyers of the rich and spoiled:
5 acre estate with 35,000 sq.ft.under roof & 25,000 sq.ft. ac/heated. Flooring of 6 ft. marble slabs from Italy, library with $350,000 Pierre Lange mahogany cabinetry, $1,200,000 Avia high tech security & sound equipment, a 13 seat mahogany theatre w/true movie projection & D-box chairs that move with the movie action. 2 swimming pools and 20 car garage including a $400,000 ''show garage''
I was told by someone who would know the other day that the rich and powerful in the Valley often complain that their possessions regularly get pilfered by the many workers required to maintain their irresponsible and exploitative lifestyles. Presumably the quick-handed disappear them when the owner is sunning by his Olympic-sized pool. Or perhaps they return in the summer when those with the money are safely chilling in their beach houses far from Phoenix's scorching weather. If you have more than one home, you can't be in all of them at once. That's a risk you take being rich, I suppose.

Which reminds me, did they ever catch those Paradise Valley "rock burglars"? Last I heard they had successfully managed over 300 break-ins resulting in more than ten million dollars worth of crap that rich people have being re-appropriated from the undeserving dresser drawers of the Valley's spoiled rich. It's nice to know that they get robbed, though, isn't it? Coming in through the master bedroom window, broken with a rock (hence the "rock burglars" name), is apparently the way to go according to the newspapers. There's no security system at that end of the house usually, it seems. Again, that's straight out of the papers. Hopefully it creeps those rich bastards out knowing the proles have rifled through their intimates.

Of course, getting a job working for rich people seems to work just as well as a means of procuring their stuff. Or, if you can hold your nose that long, even just getting to know them works. That was the case for antique thief Matthew Walker, who pleaded guilty this week to acquiring many of the prized possessions of the wealthy in his area simply by hanging around them so much. This guy managed to take prized heirlooms and other items passed down, like their illegitimate wealth, from one generation of rich scum to the next. Good for him. Caught now, unfortunately, but it's still more evidence that the rich are far from secure in their persons and items. When the cops came to his house and matched a stolen serial number to the 52 inch tv mounted on the wall, Walker claimed it was a set up. Nice. Fuck their tv and fuck the cops.

Those who say the luxuries enjoyed by the rich are the just reward for a life of hard work are off their rockers. One doesn't have a hard time imagining that they have never walked a thousand miles to stand on a street corner, ducking la poli-migra, and cleaning pools or mowing lawns in the blistering sun. Or tried to hold a job (which they hate anyway) while on work release from one of Sheriff Joe's gulags, suffering after work the routine indignity of waiting in line at gunpoint to sleep in the summer heat in his outdoor jail, all because Phoenix doesn't have a decent public transportation system.

Maybe they have never slaved away for nine or ten hours in a windowless call center, fielding pointless calls or following shitty leads in hopes of making the rent this month. Or maybe they've never spent ten hours in the cab of a truck passing the endless hours and miles bringing consumer goods they can't afford to the bars and restaurants of the wealthy and their even more spoiled children.

If hard work was the key to success under capitalism, the women fishing coins off dead bodies for twelve hours a day at the mouth of the Ganges River would rule the planet. Or those guys who dismantle the beached ships in Asia. They'd be everyone's boss. And don't forget those kids who rummage through the piles of the West's discarded computers for toxic metals. We'd be cleaning their Ferraris if hard work made the world go around.

Make no mistake, this is not a defense of work. Nor the alleged nobility of the small-headed, broad-shouldered laborer portrayed by communist painters in grand Soviet murals. You know, the worker works, the Party thinks. No, for sure, my sympathies are with the slackers and the shirkers. With the folks who know what "it fell off the truck" means and don't say a word to the boss. And with the ones who clock their friends in and out so they can sleep off last night's party. Long live those who still defend the siesta, sadly long ago now a Southwest memory for most of us, dominated by the boss's time clock as we are. When I worked at the post office the time clock was divided up into one hundred segments per hour instead of sixty. Want to know crazy? Try calculating your 15 minute break in 36 second segments.

Take another example: Domino's worker Jamal Thomas. A trainee for an assistant manager position, he complained that he was jumped by hoodlums outside work one night and beaten. In true corporate form, his bosses accused him of violating security protocols during his beatdown because the front door was unlocked as it took place. Broken in the brawl, Thomas's jaw was wired shut and he couldn't eat solid food or talk for six weeks. He was fired. According to his family he turned bitter at this insult. Understandably so.

But, the police say, Thomas didn't take this affront laying down. Keeping his key and his dignity, Thomas visited various Domino's locations "in uniform claiming to be a member of a secret Domino's unit that measured employee satisfaction." He was scoping out targets. Oh, the irony! And what creativity -- although surely not of the kind his bosses could appreciate. Nope, dressing up and pretending to be an employee satisfaction monitor, visiting various locations and scouting the best targets, and then setting them to the torch -- using their own pizza boxes as kindling! -- that clearly is the kind of creativity that while inspired by Domino's, can never be contained by it.

And isn't that all our experience, in a way? Because no matter how much or how well you do a job like that, your only thanks is more of the same. An assistant manager position, with the small bump in pay and the freedom to play some solitaire from time to time in the office -- that's your prize in this system. No personal development. No chance to control the real substance of your life. No choice in what you make, where you make it, when and how. No control over what's done with it. And the cherry on top is that most of what we are forced to make is crap anyhow. "Time to make the donuts", as the old commercial used to say. Always time to make the donuts. Who wants control over it anyhow? Better to burn it down. Making pizzas at Domino's can never be a fulfilling vocation. In a time of mass layoffs, is it too much to ask for meaningful unemployment?

I can remember a conversation I had -- more like an argument -- with another class war anarchist who had mistaken me for an hardcore primitivist because of a pin I was wearing. Never bothering to see the Durruti pin on the other side, he proceeded to launch into me with a tirade about the dignity of work. How pleased were the janitors he was organizing, he said, when they had finished cleaning a room! What dignity in work! What pride! Bullshit! For most of us, the only dignity at work is ending the day with some intact.

There's a saying that goes like this: "That's an idea so ridiculous only an intellectual could believe it." Well, it's the same with the organizers of the working class. The bosses are right about us. We hate work, we hate our jobs and we hate them. They are right to distrust us. Pride in work as we know it is an idea so ridiculous only a union organizer could believe it because the truth of the workweek is something quite different. Biting your tongue, hiding in the bathroom, grabbing a smoke or pretending to be doing something are the most common activities at any modern job.

Working in a call center and get hung up on? Let it hang there for a few minutes. No need to rush. Just let that dial tone ring for a bit and grab back part of your life a few minutes at a time. That's the reality. Who would want to democratize most of this? Can you imagine the drudgery of the Slurpee committee meeting at the collectivized 7-11? Surely better just to put it to the torch and be done with all illusions. No thanks, budding union bureaucrats: the arsonist is a much better shop steward these days.

And there is no escape for most of us from the drudgery of work and the liberal way it wastes our time and energies. Landlords and grocery stores, mechanics and credit card companies can be strict masters and if you can't refuse work, the best you can do is try to get the most out of it you can, for your own ends. If that's not possible, may as well burn it down. Thomas caused more than a million dollars in damage. As a point of reference, take out the mythic Vail arsons and this guy's up there with the ELF on average and maybe rivals the black bloc rampages through any number of North American streets this year, not that there's anything wrong with them. Different strokes for different folks.

It is natural for us to hate hard work (i.e., compelled work), but for the defenders of the rich, as they always do, to say that it is only hard work that separates the family living out of their car from the millionaire on the mountain is obscene. Likewise the Dominoes assistant manager from the Paradise Valley mansion. Even most the rich don't believe it. The myth of mobility and hard work isn't meant for them. Commenting on why he collaborated with Oliver Stone on his most recent remake of his classic 80's Wall Street attack movie, Anthony Scaramucci, hedge fund director and founder of Skybridge Capital said, "[Oliver Stone] believes that the lower quartile of society is suffering in a megalomaniacal capitalist society — and you know, he's probably right on some of the stuff he's saying."

Which reminds me, there were two forklift drivers killed in the last two weeks in Phoenix. Crushed underneath them. This is something close to my heart, having occasion to drive a forklift at work with some regularity myself. Those things are fucking dangerous. But with the slashing of budgets and the paring of workforces, you can bet that the speedup that is work life under the new never-ending crisis is to blame. More work to be done with less workers means doing it faster, cutting corners, or not having proper assistance. Profits are up, payrolls are down, and more of us are six feet under every day. And trust me, crushed under a forklift is not a death that any of those rich bastards on the mountain will suffer, sadly.

But where are the funerals for these "heroes" of the new crisis capitalism? The people who against their will, against their health and against their human desire to be free, make this economy run, despite being largely locked out of its largess and surely denied its mansions and limos, except to clean and maintain them. Workers killed on the job for the most part are lucky to get a blurb that mentions their name in the paper if they meet their end on the clock. No funeral processions, no media helicopters hovering over cemeteries, no grieving husbands or wives. No plastic-featured anchorman breaking into our regular programming.

Not, that is, unless you are a cop worker or a soldier worker. Only the workers that protect the ruling class are worthy of mention or thanks in this country. The only exception perhaps comes from the pandering politicians in election year, hoping as they do that some of us will accept this bullshit title of "hard working American" in exchange for the acceptance of heightened social war on others, often of color, in other countries, migrants, prisoners, et cetera.

But when it comes to the cops and soldiers, we get treated to a fete fit for an angel! There is no investigation. Just how many complaints did that cop have against him? How many civilians did that soldier kill? Quite relevant and related questions these days as more and more of these fucked up veterans come back and join police forces. Once there, their violently short tempers set the tone for the rest of the force. And of course lacking entirely from public discussion when one of these killer-workers gets killed is a critical assessment of the role that cops and soldiers play in the maintenance of everyday order, itself a long, slow murder for most of us. All is forgiven and nothing is remembered when the sacrifice is for the State and Capital.

I know I'm not the only one who looks up at those houses on Camelback Mountain while driving to work and hopes for a landslide or a brushfire or, hell, a meteor strike to erase that whole disgusting scene from my view, likewise relinquishing the stranglehold they have on so many of us. Or maybe, more satisfying, for the fiery justice of a people no longer willing to be exploited, tagged, imprisoned, tracked, beaten, mocked, marginalized and pushed around just so some rich asshole can have a mountainside resort for a second or third home.

We all resist in our own small ways everyday, trying against the odds and against the reality of our no-vacation, low pay jobs, to carve out for ourselves a little bit of dignity and autonomy against a system determined to crush us or -- at best -- to throw us some crumbs if we agree to mind-numbing labor day in and day out. Assistant manager, indeed.

So thanks to Channel 3 for that kindling. Whenever I see those rich bastards and their gilded estates, it just fires me up even more. Sometimes not every article has to end with a grand philosophical point. Today I just felt like a good ol' rant was in order. Those mansions make me think of a day, hopefully not far off, when it will all explode and we'll look up to a long torchlit march up those hills and to the liberating fires of a new day, free at last from work and those who make us do it. Drinks on them in the rec rooms first, of course.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Joke of the Day: Revolutionary Communist Party at Burning Man

What do you get when two RCP members go to burning man? A laugh riot of cultish posi-prose, for one thing! Can you imagine these nutcases from the party that not all that long ago denounced homosexuality as a bourgeois affliction wandering the open sands of burning man, Bob cards and manifestoes in hand, bringing the holy light of Avakian to throngs of naked hallucinating hippies?

You can't make this shit up (note the trademark RCP exuberance dripping off every word -- what kinds of extreme levels of happy pills must the Party prescribe to achieve such heights of emotion from its writers?):
There is a great need for people who are yearning for a different, better world to be introduced to Bob Avakian and his revolutionary vision of the most radical rupture with traditional property relations and traditional ideas, and a vibrant, exciting communist world in which people would really thrive—the unleashing of art and science, awe and wonder, ferment and imagination in mind-boggling dimensions.
What was once a bizarre but relatively harmless Maoist cult busy building bourgeois front groups and disingenuous political alliances with the political middle has truly degenerated into a pathetic and infantile spectacle of fawning hero-worship and self-delusion. I almost miss those days of World Can't Wait and their pathetically simplistic "Anyone but Bush" mantras, designed as they were to sucker well-meaning but silly anti-war liberals into front groups secretly manipulated by RCP cadre behind the scenes. Once captured, these poor saps could be bombarded into levels of unconsciousness sufficient for optimal susceptibility to Bob's flatulent pontifications, administered via marathon eleven hour video watching sessions. No kidding!

But despite their profligate production of thousand word proclamations, don't be fooled! There's not much in terms of real ideas lurking behind all those manifestos, and what little there is to their time travel Maoism can be found in any number of dinosaur commie formations that staggered dazed and tattered out of the ruins of the countless splits of the Seventies when the ever-worshipful Maoists faced the ultimate test of faith that was the collapse of Maoism in China.

Image over substance doesn't even begin to describe the vacuousness that is the RCP. I think the issue of Watchtower left on my door the other day was less fantastical in its evaluation of our current situation and likely future -- and certainly less savior-oriented than the RCP's Maoist millenarianism. It's been said that one of the things that has always distinguished anarchism from communism (and religions) is that anarchism names its tendencies after ideas or strategies, while commies name them after people. So, in that light, we can hardly be surprised when sad little party poopers like the RCP, having lost one dear hero, opt to build up another superman in his place.

Bob Avakian, "leading light" of the RCP

"Who is that man?" the sunburnt masses of burning man apparently demanded, if we are to believe the RCP's flowery text, provoked as they were by the installation of "a large flashing neon version of Bob Avakian's image in the midst of the art on the playa."
Although only visible at night, it looked great! Hundreds of image cards were distributed at the festival itself—left at camps, many of the numerous free bars and parties, and stuck in the spokes of participants' bicycles.
Hilarious! Only the RCP could go to burning man and miss the party (not to mention write a thousand word article about it without once mentioning the word "anarchy"). What I can't figure out is why the new portrait of Bob leaves out the trademark commie cap and hypnotic gaze that we all have come to love over the years? Surely that image, one of the few available to his fans during Bob's self-imposed Paris Left Bank exile, strikes a far more provocative pose than the new stencil! Bring back the old image, I say!

If you're looking for a few more belly laughs, please consider the impending release of the RCP's new "CONSTITUTION FOR THE NEW SOCIALIST REPUBLIC IN NORTH AMERICA" (all caps, naturally, in ironic tribute to its already foreordained irrelevance) which is sure to keep you in stitches. Oh, did you think that, if such a monstrosity were indeed to be considered (and let's hope it never is), something like a new constitution for North America might be the kind of thing that should involve the broad participation of the masses? Wrong again, comrade! The RCP and, more importantly, Chairman Bob has it all figured out for you in advance. Don't you worry your pretty little head about it!

Stay tuned, more comedy surely awaits!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Support the Border Opposition Action Fund!

The crisis continues to escalate but the broader "immigration movement" remains mired in boring, repetitive and failed tactics that privilege moral appeals over attack and engagement. Therefore it is more important than ever to support a diversity of creative tactics within the struggle against colonization, the State, Capital and the regulation of movement. Those willing to step it up need a movement behind them that has their backs from beginning to end.

For people who cannot take direct action themselves, it is important to be an unapologetic advocate for those who do and for extreme ideas in general. As we have seen with the proliferation of the "no enforcement" position and the Tempe neighborhood assembly, anarchist ideas and forms can find fertile ground in times of crisis if only people will advocate for them. And as the attack reaches ever more critical intensity, radical solutions, often of the kind that only anarchists can suggest, look more and more like common sense to a lot of people.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

PCWC on Relatos Zapatistas radio

Last weekend PCWC dispatched one of its secret cadre to the Bay to expropriate for us some vegan pulled pork sandwiches (the secret: it's made from jackfruit!) and to hand off the secret plans to the Death Star to our rebel contacts there.

While he was there, he managed to work in a brief introduction to the anarchist struggles around immigration in Arizona for interested locals, thanks to Modesto comrades who were also (coincidentally, don't get any ideas, coppers!) in town presenting a talk on revolutionary hip hop.

This presentation was recorded by our new compas at the Relatos Zapatistas Radio Show who chopped it up and aired it the other day. As many people know -- but not my boss -- I'm a fan of downloading radio shows and listening to them at work. I admit not to have listened to the Relatos Zapatistas show before, but now that I have I recommend it to anyone similarly inclined towards intelligent, creative analysis of the various movements we struggle and intervene in. Of course, we in PCWC have a deep affinity for the Zapatistas, so perhaps it was going to be a natural fit no matter what!

Above you will find the entire radio show for streaming. If for some reason blogger isn't cooperating with the stream, click here and you can stream it from Indybay instead. Thanks to these fine folks for finding time for the PCWC. Hopefully it helped shed a little more light on what's happening here in Arizona. For past audio from the show, go here. Below I'll post the description for this weeks show, which I recommend checking out in its entirety. If you're short on time and just want to hear our secret cadre speak, jump to forty or so minutes in.
The Spanish word "seguridad" can be translated into English in two ways: security and safety. What we are going to do on today’s show is try to articulate what we see as a series of fundamental tensions or distinctions between these two ways of conceptualizing "seguridad". On one hand, there is "security," which we might associate, for example, with the current doctrines and institutions of national security, which encompass the military, border patrol, homeland security, and ICE. Security as enacted within these institutions is not invested in the protection of people or communities but rather the protection of the flow of capital and the state’s ability to exercise power. Security can therefore be seen as a force that reproduces the state.

On the other hand, we could imagine safety in its most ideal form as the ability for individuals and communities to live their lives with dignity, freely and autonomously, without being subjected to the trauma and violence of precarious everyday life under the neoliberal state. We find safety in the formation of horizontal networks, friendships and communities. We also find it in people’s efforts and the inspiration that accompany those who attempt to imagine and bring to life otras formas de hacer política, other forms of doing politics. Safety happens from below and to the left, desde abajo y a la izquierda. Safety is the opposite of security.

In the first half of the show, we’re going to look at one small component of the security apparatus of the state, a mediatic component. From Chile to Mexico to Arizona and back to the Bay Area, we’ll trace the strategic appearance of concepts and terms like “anarchists,” “terrorists,” and “outside agitators” as rhetorical building blocks of police repression. Then, in the second half of the show, we’ll talk with some of the people who are trying to build autonomous communities capable of facilitating relations based on principles of safety, of putting safety into practice in material ways. From using hip hop as a form of alternative media in Modesto to the idea of creating a neighborhood council in West Oakland that could provide services to the community, we are interested in the point at which safety stops operating as an abstract concept and is transformed into concrete and realizable projects.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Photo of the Day! (Updated)

Today's photo comes from LA, where fuming mad residents shouted down the chief of police at a community meeting about the recent murder of Manuel Jamines, a day laborer from Guatemala. Booing, shouting "assassins" and "killers", they forced the chief to retreat from the microphone. When he returned he promised a "fair investigation". Yeah, right... I won't hold my breath.

Outside, Angelinos clashed with police for a third straight night even as community "leaders" sought to quell and divert the anger into meaningless and more easily controlled channels. Earlier, the notorious Rampart police station was attacked with various projectiles, including a humiliating volley of eggs. The station's sign was improved with anarchist graffiti.

For our part, despite the appeal to the constitution, PCWC's sympathies lie much more with the sentiments expressed in the picture above. No doubt, as Robert Williams famously remarked, Black people with guns have always been white America's nightmare, and that goes generally for all people of color. For those interested in further reading on history, gun control and white supremacy, I explored the question a few years ago on my old blog.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa validated my obviously well-justified skepticism that, regardless of the promises from the chief, there was no way anything approaching a "fair investigation" would or could take place. Speaking before reporters the mayor defended the officers as "heroes" and said that “[w]e’ve got to go through an investigation. But when it’s all said and done, I’ll guarantee you what’s going to come out is that these guys are heroes, and I stand by them.”

Amazing psychic powers? Nope. That's good ol' fashioned American justice operating as usual. So regular you can set your watch by it!

The Words of Disobedience: New publications from Phoenix area anarchist projects

There's a handful of new anarchist print projects from the valley worth mentioning, the first couple come from Stronghold, this self titled zine signals the end of the Survival Solidarity project out of the Tucson area, and the birth of what looks to be a number of interesting and challenging projects in the near future. Following the trajectory of the DO@ bloc and critique, Stronghold continues to build a narrative focused around the attack on colonialism and eco-destruction, solidarity with indigenous and migrant struggles, and fighting all controls and borders.

The first project was quickly followed by a second zine, this one is totally dedicated to the struggle to stop the desecration of the San Francisco Peaks, a sacred site to thirteen tribes in northern Arizona. I'm impressed with the consistent anti-colonialism coming from Stronghold,
and look forward to whatever is coming next from these folks.

Also available is a new publication from our pals at So What If All The Colleges Burn Down?, drawing inspiration from Paul Virilio their latest piece "ACCIDENT or ATTACK?: On Praxis" offers some new thoughts on the "accident" and what this means for insurrectionist attack.

Finally, while not yet available in a pamphlet format, our comrade sallydarity's latest piece "Invasion by Birth Canal? The fourteenth amendment and its opponents’ motivations" is a much needed anti-authoritarian response to the latest racist attack on immigrants and communities of color. Sallydarity deftly tears apart the birthright citizenship arguments offered by anti-immigrant politician Russell Pearce and the John Tanton network of anti-immigrant groups operating under a populist cover of environmentalism, or overpopulation to advance the racist argument for controlling the movement and bodies of non-white people.

Take the time to check out the publications coming out of the various projects in the valley, it certainly is an exciting development to see so many writing projects this summer to match the inspiring resistance we've seen to SB 1070, border militarization, and the attacks on indigenous people over the summer. We look forward to the words, and deeds, of disobedience continuing this autumn, here in this occupied O'odham land.