Monday, December 12, 2011

Phoenix Anarchist Winter General Assembly

Phoenix Anarchist Winter General Assembly

    Saturday, December 17, 2011
    3:00pm until 6:00pm
    At The Fixx
    11 East 7th Street, Tempe, AZ 85281
We will have discussion, food and social events after!

During this time of crisis it is essential that we get together to formulate strategy, have debate and plan for an ever increasing uncertain future. Our ideas are spreading faster than ever, let's fan the flames!

Proposed topics with more to come include:
- Anarchism, The Global Crisis and Resistance

- Items to act on such as teach ins, social events, demonstrations

- Looking towards to the future, a participatory discussion on what may be coming down the road

We invite all anarchists to come, endorsers so far include:

The Phoenix Class War Council (
Anarchist Anti-Authoritarian Caucus (At Occupy Phoenix)
Survival Solidarity (

Monday, November 21, 2011

PCWC presents a discussion on "Whiteness and the 99%" with Joel Olson

The Phoenix Class War Council presents: "Whiteness and the 99%", a discussion at Occupy Phoenix.

Where: Cesar Chavez Plaza/Occupy Phoenix, on Washington between 2nd and 3rd Ave in downtown Phoenix.

When: 2 PM this Saturday, November 26

Joel Olson, member of Bring the Ruckus and the Flagstaff Repeal Coalition (which demands the repeal of all anti-immigrant laws in Arizona), will be discussing his recent essay "Whiteness and the 99%".

In addition to the general focus of the essay, the talk will place a particular emphasis on the attitudes of white people towards police historically and what that means for the current occupy movement. In addition Joel will be engaging the question of how the other largest social movement of our time, the immigrant movement (which called a general strike in 2006), remains largely unnoticed by -- and unconnected to -- the occupy encampments, and what that means for the trajectory of white and non-white movements fighting against economic dispossession and state repression.

From the essay:

"Occupy Wall Street and the hundreds of occupations it has sparked nationwide are among the most inspiring events in the U.S. in the 21st century. The occupations have brought together people to talk, occupy, and organize in new and exciting ways. The convergence of so many people with so many concerns has naturally created tensions within the occupation movement. One of the most significant tensions has been over race. This is not unusual, given the racial history of the United States. But this tension is particularly dangerous, for unless it is confronted, we cannot build the 99%. The key obstacle to building the 99% is left colorblindness, and the key to overcoming it is to put the struggles of communities of color at the center of this movement. It is the difference between a free world and the continued dominance of the 1%."

Read it here:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rundown of local struggles and events for the remainder of November

After an interesting October that saw the emergence of the Occupy encampments across the globe, including one here in Phoenix, and the level of struggle generalize to incredible lengths with the General Strike in Oakland, and inspired by the possibilities of open revolt against the rich, we have been engaged in debate and discussion with other anarchists and comrades over the challenges facing a potential anti-capitalist movement in Phoenix.

Primarily, we have debated whether this is simply a moment of crisis for the many whose jobs and homes seemed safe bets just a few years back, or if this is the beginning of a movement of people challenging the fundamental beliefs of American capitalism. Simultaneously, we have our deep concerns over some very conservative positions held by some in the Occupy encampments who have expressed near total adoration for the police and other authorities who have used extreme force and violence to attack the various encampments.

As anarchists, we are interested in what possibilities exist for a broader critique aimed at the many institutions of power and authority that could materialize from the initial Occupy groups, and the various responses to the crisis we hope to see emerge in the months to come. While we have had a rather infrequent presence, in terms of PCWC's participation, anarchists have been a regular sight at the Phoenix camp, but with no organized voice. To rectify this, a group of Phoenix anarchists called for a "Anarchist & Anti-Authoritarian Caucus", this group held a meeting at the Occupy site on Monday and additionally organized a series of events which begin tonight. The events are to coincide with the two big days of events at Occupy Phoenix, including two discussions tonight and a call for an anarchist section in the march and park re-occupation on Friday afternoon. The Anarchist & Anti-Authoritarian Caucus will be meeting again at 9PM next Monday, November 21, at the Occupy Phoenix encampment at Cesar Chavez park in downtown Phoenix.

In addition to the events this week, we want to remind everyone that the ongoing struggle against the proposed Loop 202 freeway extension is ongoing, and supporters are attending ADOT meetings this week to advocate for a "no build" option. For more information on what's going on with the freeway, or how to take action check out their website (No South Mountain Freeway).

At the end of the month a lot of people will be coming to Phoenix to shut down the ALEC conference being held in north Scottsdale. We support the fight to get these rightwing lawmaker-lobbyist organizing sessions shutdown because we are against all laws and all lawmakers, not just the particularly obnoxious ones. Stay up to date with the many events and actions at their website (AZ resists ALEC).

The Caucus' events, times, and summaries are listed below.

Thursday, November 17:
8:00pm - 9:00pm: Discussion on The Revolutionary Moment and What Anarchism Has to Offer
This is an open discussion, lightly moderated to discuss the current moment and what it means to us.

Are we in a revolutionary situation, locally and/or globally? Occupy movements have organized in anarchistic ways, is this a natural progression from the top down structures that have failed? This is not a reformist movement, so what else is there? Can we push forth the way we organize into other parts of society? Invite your friends and be prepared to discuss!

9:00pm - 10:00pm: What are you gonna do if "_______" happens?
The purpose of this teach-in is to approach direct action tactics from, well, a tactical standpoint and not a moralistic or philosophical one.

The question, What are you gonna do if _______ happens? is asked to elicit a consideration of the best practical outcomes of a given situation that could come up within a political demonstration, direct action, march or protest rally. The point is not to legislate what people should do in advance, but to get people to start thinking tactically about what they are doing within an action.

Some very general questions to consider:
+ What immediate goal needs to be reached?
+ What possible resistance and confrontations might be encountered?
+ Are the people around me also ready to react to various situations?
+ How should we communicate changing goals within an ongoing direct action should the previous agreed upon goal become unattainable?
+ Are we physically prepared for foreseeable events that may occur?

Additionally, how can we keep direct actions imaginative and open to modification? (The world doesn't stand still and even the best plans don't anticipate every possible encounter.)

And last, but definitely not least, how to think differently about the role media representations play in relation to the development of a movement, especially with regard to the concern over controlling media representations of a movement.

Friday, November 18
3:30pm - 11:30pm: Mass Gathering and March to Support the Re Occupation
Gather at 3:30 PM to create the revolutionary section of the march. Stay till nightfall to party in support of the re-occupation.

Bring banners, boom boxes, flags, awesome chants and whatever else to make the march and party enjoyable. Make a float if you'd like.

Gather near the black flags!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Our Lives Are Not Negotiable!


We are at the beginning of a great shift. We are in motion, all of us, experiencing new ideas, trying out new ways of living, organizing and relating to each other. The old ways of doing things, which have had the feeling of going through the motions for some time now, are finally fading away. Soon they will all be gone.

The truth is we have been tired of this world for some time. It isn't organized for our benefit, which makes sense because it isn't organized by us. It's organized by capitalists and bureaucrats, politicians and technicians. So-called “experts”. The institutions, all of them, have revealed themselves as servants of power, not broken but functioning normally as part of a giant profit- and power-driven machine. It hasn't changed, it's just easier to see it now.

American democracy isn't broken, we are witnessing the logical conclusions of its internal nature. Likewise with American capitalism. We don't need to “fix” it because it isn't broken. Neither was it ever meant to respond to us. In capitalism we produce and consume, but the profits go elsewhere. In democracy we validate capitalist domination over our lives. This is the normal functioning of the system.

This crisis goes beyond “corporate greed” or “getting corporate money out of politics”. It wasn't some character flaw that led to this calamity. And it isn't any particular mechanism by which elite power influences politics that is the problem. It's that elite power controls politics regardless. This is because we live in a dictatorship of money, of capital. Just like you can't get money out of capitalism, you can't get capitalist power out of government because government exists to perpetuate capitalist power.

This crisis goes deep. It's not just foreclosures, it's also the vacuous suburbs themselves. It's not just unemployment, it's the meaninglessness of our jobs. It's also being worked to death in an era of massive technological advancement. It's a system that moves so fast that we never get any time to slow down. We exist for the system, not the other way around. Meanwhile the system throws so many of us away, locking us in prisons, poverty or powerlessness. It eats up the Earth with an insatiable appetite, foisting the costs unto us.

It's a system determined to eat up everything in sight, invading and colonizing everywhere, including our minds and relationships to each other. Always accumulating at our expense, and backed up by the army and the police, it's a system that doles out petty privileges to some while it systematically attacks others, all the while keeping the lion's share for those at the top. And, as we have seen, if it wants to it can take those privileges away. The laws do not protect us so why should we respect them? In this system we have very little control over the fundamental questions of our lives. Picking between brands of ketchup isn't freedom. And neither is working in the ketchup factory. Nor studying at ketchup university.

At such an important point in our history, now is not the time to seek to restore normality. Now is no time to be conservative. Do not hold back! We must resist the temptation to try to return to the way the system functioned in the past. Not only isn't it possible, but it would be a betrayal of this amazing moment. And things weren't so great back then anyhow. Don't beg for reforms. Insist on your dreams. Think big. Look around you for inspiration of how things could be. Now is the moment to ask yourself how you would like the world to be, not what you would settle for. It can be different. It can be totally different.


#Occupy Phoenix reading roundup for 10/28

PCWC's continuously updated news that we think should be of interest to #occupyphoenix.

Postal workers occupy TD Bank on Bay Street (
Activists dropped a banner at a downtown parking garage Wednesday morning to protest Mayor Menino's recent statements concerning anarchists (Boston Indymedia)
Anthropologist Graeber Turns Radical Side Loose in Zuccotti Park Protest (Bloomberg)
On the Previous Few Days, And What Is to Come… (Bay of Rage)

SFPD: Massing of Police Was Training Exercise, Readying For Oakland Protesters (KQED)

Occupy Oakland makes plans for citywide general strike (Mercury)

Behind the Barricades at Occupy Oakland  (Mother Jones)

“Anonymous” Shuts Down Oakland P.D. Website Over #OccupyOakland Battle (Pat Dollard)
Occupy Movement Not Ready for General Strike, Says Duke Labor Historian (Duke)
Getting to the Roots of Capital (Articles on the Occupy movement from an anarchist perspective)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Saturday at Occupy Phoenix, a discussion on "Defending Self-Defense from Militant Nonviolence"

 "I am not the 99%! I am me, you are you. In different ways the rulers of this society have screwed us over. Each of us, in different ways, autonomously (but perhaps interweaving what we do), have to respond. To hell with moralistic condemnations of other people's choices in this regard. To hell with imposed guidelines and programs. That guarantees a "movement" that cannot move!"

As seen last night in Oakland and Atlanta, police agencies continue to clamp down on the surge of anti-capitalist, anti-bank, and anti-corporate protests around the country, and Phoenix has been no exception.  Phoenix police made dozens of arrests during the first night of Occupy Phoenix, as people sat down in the park after it closed at 10 PM and refused to leave.  Many of those arrested chanted that they "love the police" and reaffirmed their commitment to non-violence, while riot cops methodically pulled them behind their lines. Notably, one person was grabbed by her head and yanked behind the police line, while another person reported that he received a light beating after he was snatched. Still loving the police?

Anyone in the park who shouted back at the police advance, who had the nerve to challenge the state's attack on a peaceful gathering, was labeled as being "violent", or accused of trying to "provoke the police" by some of the "non-violent" protesters.

There's already a couple of other posts on here in the last few weeks about the role of the police as antagonists to social movements amidst all the cop loving going on, as well as the dead end of a non-violent movement that polices anyone who oppose the presence of armed white supremacists and neo-nazis at Occupy Phoenix.  Furthermore there have been a number of different groups and individuals advocating for some type of "peace police" that will marginalize and even physically isolate any person(s) who may be engaging in "violent" behavior, like defending oneself from a physical attack, or yelling at a cop who is being violent towards others. The Occupy Phoenix encampment will not survive if militant non-violent advocates continue to insist on a "head down" mentality that shames individual or collective self defense, the politicians, cops, and/or nazis will make sure of that.

In addition to some of the problems with the organized non-violence presence, there is also a popular, if factually inaccurate, narrative of non-violent movements (Gandhi, MLK, the civil rights movement) that says they were victorious simply because of the virtuousness of their non-violence.  This one sided understanding of social change throws history and facts out the window in favor of a mythologized interpretation of struggle, one that ignores any context that becomes inconvenient or clashes with the dogma of non-violent protest in the United States.

So, with all the contention over the question of tactics in this current struggle, I was happy to see that a friend of PCWC has organized an event for this weekend to challenge the dogmatism of militant non-violence, and to invite attendees to explore the histories of direct action, movement self defense, and diversity of tactics through a public discussion.  This event will take place this coming Saturday from 2-5 PM, at the Occupy Phoenix camp at Cesar Chavez Plaza (201 W. Washington Street) in downtown Phoenix, I encourage all interested to attend.  The summary for the event is reproduced below:

"Defending Self-Defense from Militant Nonviolence"

From day one of Occupy Phoenix it has been made clear that Kingian nonviolence is the acceptable means of protest, demonstration and direct action.

Nonviolence is a tactic, but it is one of many. It is important to remember that those who defend self-defense as a tactic are likewise not discounting the efficacy of nonviolence.

The purpose of this teach-in is to give a historical account of self-defense and direct action from the abolitionist movement and the Civil Rights era through to the present day.

It would also be extremely important to listen to our Native brothers and sisters, whose land we continue to live upon, on their ongoing struggles against U.S. state oppression and the tactics they employ.

It is also for the purpose of pointing out what Joel Olson has recently described as the "left colorblindness" of the Occupy movement in pointing out the historically different relations that people of color have had with the state and with the police. It seems easy to dismiss self-defense as a tactic when the community you are a part of has never felt oppressive state violence through exclusionary legislation, racial targeting, criminalization, slavery, prison and the dispossession of land.

Also, it is a hope that a discussion regarding the protection of private property rights above human values under nonviolence principles can occur.

Saturday, October 29 · 2:00pm - 5:00pm

Cesar Chavez Plaza
201 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ

#Occupy Phoenix reading roundup for 10/26

Today's continually updated collection of articles we think should be of interest to the Occupy movement.

Letter from an Anonymous Friend: The Morning After the Attack on the Oakland Commune (Anti-Capital Projects)

Reports from Occupations: Oakland, Atlanta, Philly, NYC (BtR)
To the Occupy movement – the occupiers of Tahrir Square are with you (LibCom)

Occupy Wall Street's Race Problem (American Prospect)

What Police Should be Learning From the Occupy Protests (Security Debrief)

A Look at the Occupy Movement In a Manner Neither Forceful Nor Foolish (Counterpunch)

"Corporate greed," or just plain old capitalism? (LibCom)
 Inside the Shocking Police Crackdown on Occupy Oakland: Tear Gas Used, 85 Arrested (Alternet)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

#Occupy Phoenix reading roundup for 10/22

 There might not be much more added today since we're going to be at the #occupyphoenix general assembly all day.


Despite eviction warnings, Occupy Oakland protesters revel into the night (Oakland North)

On Immanence and Occupations (Ian Alan Paul)

Occupy Oakland, Day 12, Morning of Looming Forcible Eviction by Police, 10/21/11: photos (Indybay)

Monday, October 17, 2011

A short primer on jail support for #occupyphoenix from my experience (PCWC)

Here's how jail support goes from my experience:

(0) Get some money together.  Have a house party.  Rob a bank.  Organize a car wash.  Whatever.

(1) Get a land line that someone is going to sit at and wait by in case arrests happen.  That's their job. It's not exciting but it's fucking important. It's gotta be a land line in Maricopa county because Sheriff Joe is an asshole and you can't call cell phones from his prisons.  Let everyone at the action know the number to call.  It should be someone you all agree on and that you trust.  Reliable.

(2) Ask people who might get arrested what name they want to use when they call and who they want you to call for bail money, help, support, a ride, someone to cover for them at work tomorrow or whatever.  People might want to use fake names.  That's okay because fuck the cops.  Write that shit down so you get it right.

(3) It's gonna take a few hours for people to process out.  Maybe 24 hours even or more.  That's just how it goes because the pigs want to keep people out of the game while they protect rich people and the status quo.  That's why they sometimes arrest you and don't charge you.  They're pricks.

(4) Call all your fucking friends.  Have your friends call their friends.  Get your asses down to the fucking jail.  Call your friends who are musicians. The cops or idiot lawyers may tell you that if you stay that people in jail can't see friends, families or lawyers.  This is bullshit.  No one sees family or lawyers before their first appearance before the judge.  The asshole judge is not going to ask about guilt or innocence so lawyers don't really fucking matter at that point.  Don't fall for this shit.  Stay outside the jail and wait for your friend.  They will be happy you did.  If you're loud enough they might hear you.  They'll like that.

(5) Your friends are going to call you.  Do what you agreed to do in step 2.  They will really fucking appreciate it.  Being in jail, especially if your friends are alone, injured, or of a marginalized identity, can really suck.  It can be deadly.  They want to talk to you and to know they are getting out.  Help them with all your heart but don't lie.  Never lie about release prospects.  Don't talk about illegal shit.  The cops are listening.

(6) Pack the room where they are being read their charges.  These days because the fucks who run shit are afraid that we will liberate our friends like we used to back in the day, this mostly happens via video.  Your friends who are locked up probably can't see you, but they will be happy to hear you tell them you were there when it counted after they get out.  So be there.

(7) Bail your friends out if you can.  Really fucking important.

(8) Be outside in large numbers when they get out.  They are going to be so stoked to see you.  They might want a beer, too, so buy it for them because jail fucking sucks.  Maybe buy them two.

Others should chime in if I forgot something.  This shit always meant a lot to me.  And I'm a fucking militant, not a lawyer, so there's your disclosure.  Lawyers should advise but not tell you what to do.  Their job is to get your ass out of jail after you do what you do, not to tell you not to do it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Whose side are you on? Oh, wait, we know!

Photo via Downtown Devil

This doesn't make you angry?

Do you have a free bone in your fucking body?

Could it be any clearer what side the police are on?

People were peaceful, they rejected the radicals, they carried the American flag around, they negotiated with the city, they sang all the old peace songs and the national anthem, too!  Politicians showed up... and yet, look at the result!

And we anarchists did what we were asked to do.  We didn't riot, we didn't overwhelm you with our weird dress and odd ideas.  We didn't speak to the media.  We didn't cover the space with our flags and banners.  We didn't tag everything.  We didn't fight with the Nazis who showed up.

And yet, isn't it obvious?

The cops are our enemies.  They are the defenders of the rich and powerful -- the very people we are opposing!  Look at what they do when we just try to take a little public space for a few hours to have a discussion about what we think this world should look like as opposed to how it is.

They are not part of the 99%.  Look what they do.

Until everyone is free!  We know who locked them up!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A call to defend Occupy Phoenix!

 A few of the anarchists active in the Occupy Phoenix events have put this call out in response to police threats of aggression towards anyone planning on staying in Margaret T. Hance park overnight.  

All who find themselves in solidarity are encouraged to come downtown tonight.

Occupy Phoenix is moving from Cesar Chavez plaza to Margaret T. Hance park, next to the Burton Barr Library in downtown Phoenix. The move is being made because the Chavez plaza is shut down by the police at 6 PM, whereas Hance park is open until 11.

People are planning on occupying the park tonight, which officially closes at 11 PM. However, the cops have said that there is no way they are going to let anyone stay past that time, nor allow camping gear, nor would they commit to not cracking down violently when pressed by a participant at the Occupy Phoenix gathering today.

In response to the possible attack by the authorities, participants are organizing a party at the park to commence after the thousands arrive from Chavez park to Hance park. There is now an open call out for all interested to come down to Hance park this evening, and into the night.

The new movement challenging the destruction and greed of capitalism must have a space to organize from, which is why we must protect our movement from state and police repression. The wealthy and powerful want to crush the grassroots opposition before we can build our own decentralized power that could potentially change and transform society.

Come down to defend the occupation in Hance Park this evening, and stay all night!

No more banks, no borders!  An end to the era of loan officers, and police officers!

The National Socialist Movement scum show up armed to counter protest #occupyphoenix

Today at the first mass general assembly of the #occupyphoenix movement, neo-Nazi members of the National Socialist Movement showed up, armed and in their "Arizona Border Guard" militia fatigues, to counter protest.  Sporting assault rifles, they posed flanked by dozens of cops.  Recognizing key NSM organizers in their midst, several people confronted them and set about informing the generally ignorant crowd that before them stood actual fascists, armed to the teeth.

Ignorant liberals behaved in a variety of idiotic ways.  Some contending that the Nazis were part of the 99% as well, if only confused.  Others were actually intrigued by the word "socialist".  "I kind of like socialism," one old lady said.  Other confused liberals mistook the fascists for soldiers, forgetting their self-assumed pledge of non-violence (which apparently exempts the military as well) and posing their children for a cool shot with the army guys.

One liberal pacifist came up to confront people speaking loudly about the Nazis, telling them that the protest was supposed to be non-violent and that by using loud language we were being "violent".  She made no such attempt to approach the Nazis, highlighting the deep contradictions and blindspots in the ideology of nonviolence as practiced by this movement, which so far has only deployed this ideology inwards to control participants rather than outwards towards the genuine threats.

This attitude towards the NSM scum played out, quite predictably, along racial lines, with whites being the only ones to express attitudes of tolerance towards them.  This points to the continuing importance of addressing racism and the continual appeal and relevance of racial privileges within the movement.  Indeed, we can expand this argument to the whole attitude of the bulk of the white movement towards the police.  Experiencing policing in quite different ways than people of color in general, white middle class liberals mistake their own experience for that of others, and routinely attack anyone who questions the alleged 99% status of the police, or points out their quite obvious  tendencies towards violent action, as violent themselves.  To question the violence of the police is to be violent, according to this backwards analysis.

The presence of an armed fascist street-level opposition to our movement, in the form of the National Socialist Movement and it's "Arizona Border Guard" front group, is one major reason to reject dogmatic pacifism and poorly thought-out nonviolence.  Instead, what we heard from protesters speaking during the general assembly were declarations of the most naive nonviolence imaginable.  Arizona is a right wing state and the forces of reaction are huge and easily overwhelming if they want to be.

#Occupyphoenix organizers should not kid themselves about their numbers or power.  This movement clearly has capability to attract large numbers, as evidenced by the several thousand that showed up today for the general assembly and will march later to set up camp at Margaret T. Hance park.  But we need to be honest about our political circumstances and the forces of reaction arrayed against us.  Today is a reminder for those who are paying attention.

When the fascists finally departed, one man in a motorized wheel chair came up to me to ask me who they were.  When I told him, a cheer went up from the crowd mocking the vacating Nazis.  He looked at me and said, "They're gone, but don't mistake their absence for the absence of fascists in general."  Standing behind him were the cops.  Another lesson the #occupyphoenix movement has yet to learn.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New PCWC poster for #occupyphoenix

Build the general strike.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Occupy PHX: Two new posters -- spread far and wide!

New posters for #OccupyPhoenix!  Blast these out there!  Courtesy of the Phoenix Anarchist Movement.  PCWC will have something up soon about how we see things currently.  Until then, see you at the gallows!  Don't let the liberals bore this movement to death in its crib!  Let's contest this shit!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Southeast Valley Libraries Are Burning Books

It may be a stretch in these internet times to remember back that far, but perhaps some people will recall a distant July 2009, when Amazon made the literary gaffe of all gaffes late one night by reaching virtually into Kindle users' libraries, located on machines these users had paid for, and deleted titles such as "1984" and "Animal Farm". This happened when Amazon found out that a third party that had claimed rights to the books in fact did not own them.  And so, with a mouse click from a remote location, buried deep within the bowels of the Amazon book tracking behemoth (do not be afraid that Amazon maintains a database on all your book purchases, citizen) -- and without a sense of irony -- the titles were deleted from users e-readers.

The deletion causes quite a controversy, with people justifiably citing censorship, invasion of privacy and even theft as causes for their outrage.  But another issue didn't come up at the time that definitely struck me as curious. It is one of the, perhaps few, redeeming qualities of the electron age that when I give you a copy of something I have on my computer, my copy doesn't go away.  Indeed, not only doesn't it go away, but the quality of your does not diminish.

Love at first sight.
Now, if we can sidestep the question of analog versus digital quality, not only isn't the grade of your copy reduced compared to mine, but when I share a copy with you, it costs me nearly nothing.  So close to nothing we would never think of keeping track between us.  And one thing I would never do would be to ask for it back from you.  I would never call you up and say, "Hey, man, are you done with those Propagandhi mp3's that I gave you?  I need 'em back."   When I give you a copy, thanks to the magic of electrons, we both have one now.  Perfect, right, because there are two of us?

And so this brings me to the just announced deal that Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler and Queen Creek libraries, through the Greater Phoenix Digital Library, a consortium of Valley libraries, have struck a deal with to allow for digital downloads to Kindle devices through the library system.  Even though books, music and other files have been available for other digital devices, Kindle users have had to pay for access.  This in itself is funny, because if I loan you a book from my library, the book works just fine whether you are reading it on the couch or on the toilet.  And, to keep with our digital theme, the music I gave you earlier works just fine on your computer, whatever kind you have.

Now, this deserves a little commentary before I move on to the final point.  Pretty much anyone who uses devices but does not represent a manufacturer of devices would notice that what is happening here (aside from a direct attack on the library as a public, physical institution, since library patrons can now download the files 24/7 from home with their library cards) is that form is dictating access to content.

At the height of the hysteria and crackdown (2003), people still supported file sharing overwhelmingly
So, let's step back a few more years, if we can.  When my friend gave me a VHS copy of  Star Wars, it didn't matter whether you had a Sony and I had some crappy American VCR.  Why the hell there needs to be a separate agreement for me to download Marie Gabriel's new book, "Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution" on two formats?  Especially since we know that it is mere proprietaries -- as in limiting access for profit -- that is at the root of the division? This is a library after all.  A library I have already paid for with taxes, if I may strike a right wing note for a moment.

But it gets worse!  The Republic reports, bafflingly, that there is a waiting list for Amazon titles.  A waiting list?!  Why?  The great thing about digital files is that you and I can both have them at the same time.  If for some unexplained reason I am waiting for that newest John Grisham book and so are you, why should I wait just because you were a few keystrokes faster than I am?  It defies logic.

Successfully deleted.
But here's what really makes no sense.  When you "borrow" a digital file from the "library" under this new deal, it self-destructs in 14 days, thus "freeing" it up to be available for the next person in line.  So, the library, dedicated to the spread of free knowledge and public access, is actively destroying books, serving as Amazon's willing executioner of information.  Information that wants to be free, with the only stumbling block being Amazon's desire to make a buck.

But make a buck how?  Well, aside from the licensing deal, it turns out that embedded in each "loaned" file for Kindle will be a link to Amazon where you can opt to purchase the book you got from the library via download.  Wait a minute.  I'm going to buy something I already have?  Naturally, the only way I'm going to do that is if Amazon and library conspire to destroy the copy of the book I already have!  Imagine that with a real book.  Back in the day, if I didn't return the book, maybe there were fines I had to pay, but at least the firemen didn't break into my house and, "Fahrenheit 451"-style, set fire to the book.  And yet that's what the library is doing now, electronically.

 Carson Daly is torn not just between styles of music, but also modes of media production and distribution

I think some people may remember in 2000 when Napster founder Shawn Fanning introduced Britney Spears ("singing a song that's older than she is") while sporting a Metallica shirt.  Metallica, of course, was busy suing Napster for file sharing.  After Carson Daly remarked, "Nice shirt", Fanning famously joked, "You like it?  Actually a friend of mine shared it with me.  I'm thinking about getting my own, though." 

Of course, it was nonsense, at least for a lot of people.  We might buy the shirt, but we weren't going to buy the album.  Not after what at that point was 20 years of what has become a 30 year stagnation or decline in wages.  Who could afford it?  Napster, and the programs that followed, were a godsend to those of us dedicated to music and yet scraping by.  And to the extent that it wasn't nonsense was only because enough of us were still prisoners to dial-up or other slow connections so that sometimes it was too much of a pain in the ass to download a whole album when you were relying on some other person you didn't know to do the same.  Many people can probably remember the phenomenon of setting up files to download while you were sleeping.  All problems that have been solved now.

The thing about electrons is that they are, setting aside the externalized cost to the environment, essentially free to the consumer, at least on the level of the individual file.  Costs are so low, access so easy, reproduction so simple and distribution so effortless that it reveals the contradictions within the capitalist organization of the economy.  And, it must be said, that it is capitalism itself that has set up this contradiction.  Through our own self-organization and desire to be free, we have leapt into it like prisoners facing a blasted hole in a prison wall.  We always wanted out, and now that we can, it is only the force of law that that can push us back in, because we can see the other side.

I'm not a technophiliac, but the most powerful lesson that the relatively new electron based production system reveals is the tenuousness with which commodity production clings to life.  We see it in the riot.  We see it in gifts between friends, in rides to the airport, in knit caps from mom and in our backyard gardens.  And we also see it in the files we share.  And, most importantly, we see the absurdities of the system in its attempts to corral, limit, prosecute and impose proprietary relations on escaped commodities that defy remuneration.  

A system that turns librarians into book burners.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Paradise Lost! Westgate City Center development thankfully collapses under a pile of bills.

  Too beautiful for this world!  All beauty fades eventually and every dream must end.  And stuff like that.

Rebekah L. Sanders over at the Arizona Republic reports that another bloated, gaudy consumer/workers paradise has lurched into bankruptcy and repossession.  This isn't the first one in Phoenix since the crisis began to get into trouble and it probably won't be the last considering where the economy is headed.  But if you've ever been there, you'll know that this place in particular is hilarious.

I used to deliver there for work and it was big on this artificial, corporatized "live, work and play" nonsense.  "I can see my loft from here," said the giant wall-sized youths on the signs, conveniently plastered over the windows of empty, dust-gathering chain stores. This place was a cheap corporate facsimile of a copy of a sketch of the old neighborhoods of old, just with everything that made those kinds of neighborhoods interesting and worth living in stripped out.

With the piped in easy listening mall music reaching up to the balconies of the "loft-style" apartments, surrounded as they are by one crap corporate chain after another and their zombie-like patrons most days, Cardinals fans eight days a year, and shitty arena rock douches on the other weekends, I often wondered just what kind of crap demographic they hoped to attract, and just how they intended to cut them down from the balconies before 10 AM business hours when they finally were overcome by the vacuousness of their surroundings and hanged themselves.

Good riddance.
Part of Glendale Westgate City Center repossessed by lender
The developer who launched Westgate City Center, the landmark sports-and-entertainment complex that helped transform Glendale, has officially lost ownership of the major part of the development.
The core of the Ellman Cos.' project, outside University of Phoenix Stadium and Arena,was repossessed Monday by the lender, iStar Financial, after it failed to sell at a foreclosure auction for a reserve price of $40 million.
The 33-acre property, which features restaurants, shops and an AMC movie theater along with Bellagio-like fountains and Times Square-style billboards, was designed as a suburban sports, entertainment and commercial hub to rival downtown Phoenix.

The remaining land owned by Ellman Cos., 95 acres of mostly parking lots slated for future development, is scheduled for foreclosure auction in November by lender Credit Suisse.

The auction is the latest blow to Glendale's prestigious sports district and another example of how the city has been shaken by the economic downturn.

The Phoenix Coyotes went through bankruptcy two years ago and still have no permanent owner. Now Westgate, at Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue, has been taken away from Steve Ellman, the city's development partner for more than a decade.

Westgate's opening in 2006 was like a launch party for the West Valley, with excitement brimming about the region's future as the flashy complex rose out of farm fields.

The Coyotes played next door, and the Arizona Cardinals had just moved in nearby.

Ellman, the chief executive of the company, called Westgate his favorite project.

At the time, a planning expert had cautioned the project was a gamble that relied on synergy between sports fans and shoppers.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Announcing the first issue of the new PCWC broadsheet, "The Crisis"

Governor Brewer lets out a mighty class war cry of sheer victorious glee after signing the corporate tax cut earlier this year.

So it is with the bad news that Arizona has fired more than 10,000 public school employees -- more than 6,000 of them teachers -- and the good news that one in every ten bosses who dies on the job is murdered, that we announce what we hope to be an ongoing agitational broadsheet aimed at regularly stoking the fires of opposition here in the Copper State, Phoenix in particular. We're calling it, simply enough, "The Crisis" and it is intended for hand to hand distribution in the city.

Since the last year's struggles against both the reactionary rightwing attack and the wishy-washy leftist recuperation, we have become more and more aware that no one in the state is addressing the increasingly perilous and precarious economic situation of so many workers and excluded people in Az. Lines at state social service agencies stretch for hours in the 110 degree heat, jobs have not come back, wages have fallen and the economic situation of more and more people every day seems to sit on a knife's edge.

The successful division of the working class created by the racist right has limited the ability of the class to find ways to fight back against the attack, as well as to envision new ways of organizing life that go beyond merely calling for increased intervention into poor and working class people's lives. In Arizona this is particularly an interesting question because there is such hostility to government solutions, even among the working class.

Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore the obvious class assault that is the imposition of austerity. Vital services are disappearing. Take for instance the recent decision by the state to throw more than a hundred thousand poor and working class people off the state's health care plan.  Beyond that, people making more than $920 a month have been disqualified from eligibility, at the same time that the state weekly unemployment benefit pays out about 210 dollars a week. Given that payments in Arizona top out at $240 a week, that average means substantial numbers of unemployed people who once could count on health care while out of work no longer have it.

In addition, the state currently runs a budget surplus, largely made on the backs of the foreclosure crisis, as formerly working class folks ejected from their homes have lost the mortgage deduction, boosting income tax revenues. And never mind that the arguments for austerity coming from the political and business class were built on dire -- even catastrophic -- budget projections. Meanwhile, the state passed a corporate sales tax cut, further shifting the tax burden onto the poor and working class with a whopping $1.5 billion dollar giveaway to the rich over the next seven years.

At the same time, the legislature continues to contemplate a flat tax, which would cut taxes on the rich even more, with a resulting rise in tax payments at the bottom. And, if it couldn't get any worse, this summer the state rejected Federal money for unemployment extensions, potentially stranding thousands of unemployed Arizonans when their state benefits run out. With an unemployment rate of 9.6%, and an average length of unemployment steadily creeping up towards a year, that's guaranteed to leave some very marginalized people hanging.

As usual, we don't find these conditions depressing, we find them interesting and worthy of intervening in and experimenting with. Potential exists for some interesting organizing and possibly for a breech in normal politics. So, look for copies of the new broadsheet soon. Once more into the breach we go!


Friday, August 5, 2011

A call for action to halt the destruction of the San Francisco Peaks

Our friends and comrades from Flagstaff are calling for a week of action in the struggle to save the San Francisco Peaks from the ongoing destruction wreaked by Arizona Snowbowl. At issue is the new construction by Snowbowl to bring reclaimed waste water from Flagstaff up the mountain for snowmaking so that the resort can expand operations for more skiers. Obviously, the use of reclaimed waste water ought to be raising a few eyebrows, especially when it comes to the effects that chemicals and human excrement could have on the health of human visitors to the mountain, not to forget the animals and wildlife that live there all year round.

For years the Save the Peaks Coalition tried every avenue to halt Snowbowl, and was caught up in the courts with legal fights for years. The federal government had made it clear though that public health and respect for indigenous peoples were no match for profit and economic development, and so the Ninth circuit court denied an injunction to halt the construction a few months back. Snowbowl began pipeline construction in late May, after years of broad opposition from indigenous people, environmentalists, and residents of northern Arizona had failed to stop the proposed snowmaking desecration.

I say "desecration" because the reclaimed waste water is not just a hazard to all forms of life on the mountain, it is also a desecration of a site that is sacred to thirteen indigenous nations in northern Arizona. Efforts to protect the San Francisco Peaks (in the language of Diné people, Dook'o'oosliid) have stepped up in the last few weeks, most notably back in June when a group of six people chained themselves to the machines used to tear up the earth for the waste water pipes. The group was joined by a dozen others who blocked the road into the Peaks, these actions halted the destruction for hours as workers were unable to enter. As explained by one of those who took action against Snowbowl:

“What part of sacred don’t they understand? Through our actions today, we say enough! The destruction and desecration has to end!” said Marlena Teresa Garcia, 16, a young Diné woman and one of the six who chose to lock down. “The Holy San Francisco Peaks is home, tradition, culture, and a sanctuary to me, and all this is being desecrated by the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort. So now I, as a young Diné woman, stand by Dook’o’osliid’s side taking action to stop cultural genocide. I encourage all indigenous youth to stand against the desecration that is happening on the Holy San Francisco Peaks and all other sacred sites”, said Garcia after being arrested and released.

Snowbowl is constructing a 10,000,000 gallon storage pond to hold the treated sewage water, cutting down trees to install sewage pipe to bring more waste water up the mountain, and clear cutting over 74 acres of trees. While construction is going down every day and the news is troubling, it doesn't mean it's time to give up and walk away, now is actually a good time to get out of the heat in the valley and head up north to cool off and take action. Dozens of people have set up protest base camps up on the Peaks, and have a working food kitchen that has been feeding campers for a month, despite harassment from the authorities. A banner drop in Flagstaff kicked off the week of action earlier this week, and a list of events is posted up on True Snow, and if you and yours can't make it up to Flagstaff this weekend, there are other ways you can support.

As outlined in "call for a Diné, O'odham, Anarchist bloc" (DO@) statement, our basis of solidarity and support for projects of resistance around the state is rooted in our understanding that the colonial attack on indigenous people has not ended. It is not a history lesson to be read about, but an ongoing struggle against cultural genocide and dispossession from one end of the state to the other.

Stand with indigenous resistance to colonialism, and against the destruction of the earth for profit and recreation.

For more information, make sure to check out the sites below for more news and updates on the Peaks:
True Snow
Indigenous Action Media
Survival Solidarity
Taala Hooghan Infoshop

A banner up at the base camps

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A historical fragment- Dispossession and control in occupied O'odham land

Phoenix, 1898

A reconstructed selection from an invaluable resource of local history, Bradford Luckingham's PHOENIX: THE HISTORY OF A SOUTHWEST METROPOLIS:

As Phoenix entered the 1880s, violent language and racist laws were common when it came to the white settlers and their treatment of the people indigenous to the valley. The federal government had recently enacted the policy of indigenous peoples' containment to reservations, and the seizure of lands for the interests of business and Euroamerican/white settlers. Akimel O'odham, Pii-posh, Maricopa, and Apache people were regularly scapegoats for white politicians and citizen groups as the cause of social unease, crime, and vice in Phoenix. White settlers, while newly present in the region, organized a mass meeting in Phoenix in September 1881, hoisting a banner which read "Removal or Death for the Apache." The violent and genocidal attitude of whites wasn't just aimed at the Apaches, who had been in anti-colonial armed conflict for thirty years at this point, but even the local people from the Akimel O'odham and Maricopa communities, who were not engaged in armed conflict with the Phoenix colonial occupation, were also treated with hostility and contempt by the state and citizenry.

The presence of Akimel O'odham and Maricopa people who ventured into the new cities was detested by the white population, who complained that "lounging about the streets are a great many Indians." In addition, whites gave violent physical and verbal abuse to indigenous people who were perceived as hanging around local landmarks such as city hall, or the train depot. In May 1881, racist and colonial legislation was passed by the city making it illegal for any indigenous person to be on city streets "without sufficient clothing to cover the person", or to be in the city after dark unless employed by a white Phoenix resident. The white settler enacted criminalization and banishment as a response to any resistance to the Anglo-colonial mentality that the early founders of Phoenix sought to impose on the original inhabitants of the region. Similarly, Scottsdale was also a "sundown town" for O'odham people who were coming from the neighboring Salt River reservation.