Monthly Archives: August 2012

Class Struggle Against Zionist Propaganda

We received this flyer from comrades who have been distributing it to workers in San Francisco.  The SF-MTA is currently taking the money they’ve received from selling advertising space on MUNI buses and donating it to the Human Rights Commission.  While this attempt at liberalism is appalling, what we should be focusing on is finding the instances of workers struggle on the shop floor.
If what follows is any indication of what is possible (or what is already happening) then we should be keeping our eyes open for workers taking direct action against being exploited as proletarian bus drivers AND now as movers of portable Zionist propaganda.  Additionally, we should pay attention to Arab, Muslim, and Sikh workers who are struggling on the shop floor – particularly in the custodial sector in San Francisco.  International solidarity must – and already is – going beyond symbolic statements and becoming a material force where workers refuse the alienation of work and the imposition of Zionist propaganda and symbols within the labor process.
Props to comrades for putting in the work – intellectually and on the streets.

A Classwide Appeal in Response to Racist Ads on MUNI

It is time to view attacks on workers and oppressed populations not as isolated events, but as calculated measures in maintaining the rule of the global ruling class. We must envision strategies for fighting back that put us not in categories of victimization, but in solidarity with the international ranks of the working class. City expenditures on ads and public relations campaigns exceed millions of dollars, yet they enforce austerity and tell us they will close down our public schools and take away our benefits. The historical moment demands we respond to these attacks on a class-wide basis! Riders, drivers, students, and workers across sectors and communities must unite!

Racism on MUNI and the class-wide support we need

SEIU Local 87, a service workers union, is devising a new contract with the ABM Corporation, in which basic benefits are being jeopardized. In the last couple weeks, rank and file leaders have stood up against these attacks and even been arrested in civil disobedience. Many janitors involved in this union are from the Arab community. Unveiled last week, SFMTA approved MUNI ads, paid for by Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative to run on the side of our city’s buses. These ads come at the time that we have seen numerous hate attacks targeting Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs; there have been at least 8 incidents in the past 10 days across the country. Last week, after the second attempt in a month, an Islamic Center in Missouri was burned down. In the same week, four days after US congressman Rep. Walsh proclaimed in a public speech that “radical Muslims are trying to kill Americans every week”, a Mosque in a Chicago suburbwas shot at with a high-velocity air rifle while 500 worshippers were insidefor evening prayers during the Holy month of Ramadan. On the same day this advertisement ran on San Francisco buses, a mosque in Ontario, California found the limbs of a dismembered pig on the building’s front steps. And right here in the Bay Area, this past Thursday marked the fourth time in the last eight months that a Hayward mosque was targeted by vandals, this time resulting in one person injured. The ads on MUNI read:

“In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.” 

Today, MUNI drivers are exposed to draconian disciplinary measures like security cameras on the buses and threats of firing for taking a certain number of sick days or breaks even if it falls well within the quota outlined in the contract. The practices of management attempt to control resistance and create a culture of fear that has its roots in 1976 when workers organized in response to the City’s attempt to take away their right to strike.

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Constructive Critique: Responding to “Unifying Revolutionary Forces” Document

Our comrade Jomo206 has enaged the “Unifying Revolutionary Forces” document that a handful of members of AS, BOC and a NYC comrade contributed to.  The document in question was produced with rapid fire pace, which accounts both for its timely floating at the Everything 4 Everyone festival, as well as some serious political

Image from the Petrograd Soviet in April 1917. Imagine the type of ongoing debates comrades have in the height of struggle, and the type of trust (immediate and longterm) that must be built in order to have this be productive. Similar to the bonds we’ve made in recent struggles on the ground as well as broader national efforts.

blindspots.  In the spirit of continuing the tradition of comradely critique and principled engagement, we re-post the writing of Jomo so that we can all continue learning how to engage in direct communication around political debate, discussion, and differences, rather than backroom conversations that end up reproducing gossip-laden social relations among revolutionaries.

We’re looking forward to more members of AS, BOC and other revolutionary collectivities taking on the arguments in the document and heightening the level of discourse around questions of contemporary revolutionary organizing.

A response to “Unifying Revolutionary Forces” document

-Jomo206

My close friends in Black Orchid Collective, Advance the Struggle and NYC have collaborated on a discussion document entitled “Unifying Revolutionary Forces in the Coming Year.” I have mixed feelings about this document and hope that these thoughts here will be taken constructively in the spirit of building broader, deeper revolutionary formations. It is in the spirit of comradely critique that I lay out these thoughts to engage in this discussion:

1) As a member of Black Orchid Collective ,  I take issue with the vague way the document is being signed by “members of BOC.” The document seems to imply, even if unintentionally, that this is a group endorsed document. I am someone who  is an active member of BOC but was not present for the conversations that led to the finalization of this document. Neither did I know that the document would be signed under what I perceive to be a vague descriptor, as “written by members of BOC…” until it was already published. Since then, I heard that BOC members who were present had similarly argued against this but the document had accidentally already been sent out by the authors. This was a mistake that I hope will not be repeated. I feel that by not clarifying who actually endorses this document in our immensely small organization, it inadvertently unfairly represents me. If we are open to changes in our current formations, and acknowledge  that our groups are likely transient for the questions of these times, we need to encourage democratic debate among and between members of organizations. As this document reveals, there could be more affinity among individuals across organizations than there is between members of specific groups. To foster that culture of cross organizational dialogue and clarification of differences within groups, signatories of such documents should be specified (by pseudonyms if necessary) and not lumped only under organizational affiliations.  Or, they should clarify themselves as particular tendencies within specific organizations. I know that some people may see this as a petty issue. However, the conversations of national formations carry with them the often associated baggage of democratic centralism. It is important to create a culture that does not conflate minority opinions with majority ones. As our conversations deepen, it is necessary also to be concise and specific about the points of agreement/disagreement within and across groupings.

I would like to emphasize however, that this specific critique does not come from a mistrust of my comrades. I believe they tried to do the best they could under pressing schedules.  They raise points in this piece that we need to be vigorously discussed and so I thank them for furthering these discussions publicly. That said, process is important and I hope that we can figure out a way to collaborate across groups with flexibility, no bureaucracy, and yet also respectfully and democratically. Continue reading

EMERGENCY Rally and Protest: Solidarity with South African miners murdered during strike

Please Forward Widely:
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SOLIDARITY WITH SOUTH AFRICAN MINERS
Emergency Rally & Protest
Friday August 24th 2012 @ 5pm 
Oscar Grant Plaza (aka Frank Ogawa Plaza)
 
Protest the murder of 40 striking mine workers by the South African Government.  Stand in solidarity with the mine workers as they continue their battle with the Lonmin Platinum Mine and the murderous government police force.  Workers in all countries must come together to resist these atrocities carried out by the state in the interests of International Capitalism.  As working class organizations we strongly believe that:“an injury to one IS an injury to all.”
 
We’ll see you Friday at 5pm. Thank you.
 
Initiated by Advance the Struggle in conjunction with the Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression. Please contact us if your organization would like to be included as an endorser: bay.strikes@gmail.com
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From Oakland to South Africa, 
one struggle, one fight!

Species of Revolt: On Revolutionary Organization

Last week’s Everything for Everyone (E4E) conference provided an opportunity for people from diverse tendencies across the country to engage in political discussions and debates in comradely ways.  Seattle was the hosting city of the conference, and it’s also a city in which the past year of struggle has produced a positive culture among diverse revolutionary tendencies that emphasizes in-person discussion of political differences, common work among people with diverging politics, and a holistic infusion of art and culture Imagewithin the movement.  We all learned a lot from engaging with folks in the Northwest and appreciated the careful attention and labor that comrades have put into maintaining and developing the radical networks that exist.

What follows is a contribution to the discussions around revolutionary organizations and networks that didn’t start in Seattle, but which took important steps forward through the engagement of people from across the country.  Written by a member of the Red Spark Collective, the following piece attempts to address several questions raised by documents discussed at E4E, in addition to debate unleashed during the plenary at the end of the festival.

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Species of Revolt

Since everyone’s been talking about revolutionary organizations lately, I’d like to lay out a few thoughts of my own on the subject.  I think it’s important that other members of Red Spark do the same, as we ourselves have key disagreements that need to be openly aired and productively debated.

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1

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We should approach the role of revolutionary organizations as we might the role of single species within an ecosystem.

It is important to have a great diversity of species in that ecosystem, a few large and complex megafauna, as well as a vast majority of other organisms that are more dispersed, liquid and dense, like the abundant networks of bacteria or fungi undergirding a forest.  No matter what, that revolutionary ecosystem relies on this horizontal network of basic community more than anything.  The disciplined revolutionary organization is, like the vertebrate animal or the flowering plant, a minority when it comes to biomass or number of species—but it has an undeniable ability to expand the bounds of its ecosystem and to cause sea-changes in the basic forms of life possible within it.

The old theory of the vanguard sought to make one species dominant—to grow that species until it incorporated all others.  The result, of course, is a cancer, followed by the intrusion of the desert.  The humans shoot all the wolves and the green fire goes out in their eyes and then the deer overgraze the mountain and starve in next year’s famine, leaving their bones to dry in a dust-locked wasteland. 

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Raw Reflections: East Oakland People’s Library

books packed up once over 40 police officers descended on the people’s library at about 11:30 on 8/13/12

Comrade Mara & The Fish write:

Today’s library occupation, like the Lakeview Occupation of July, demonstrated a powerful tactical approach towards building radical connections outside of activist circles.  In both cases, radicals initiated bold actions without asking permission but from the beginning were organizing to involve the folks directly affected.  Even in the first day of the Victor Martinez library, parents were already dropping of their kids to garden, a family from two blocks away donated crates of books, and curious people from the neighborhood were dropping by to show support and borrow literature.

Here are some of the basic components of what went down: folks occupied the library, erected banners, and brought in palettes of  radical literature.  But this wasn’t all they did in the brief time of the library’s new existence; in addition to these basic logistical tactics, the organizers also put out a press release, went door-knocking in the neighborhood to inform and invite the community, and built a gardening program that invited youth to come and develop the blighted space.  Without the support of the folks around, there’d be little defense against the constant narrative onslaught from the bourgeois media that radicals in Oakland are isolated and dwindling.  Instead, the Lakeview Occupation and today’s Victor Martinez library show a strategy that defends against that attack, building strength in radical unity with people’s hostility to austerity measures.

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Unifying Revolutionary Forces in the Coming Year

We are some members of Advance the Struggle, a New York revolutionary collective, and Black Orchid Collective who have been travelling together and discussing during the lead up to the Everything for Everyone Conference in Seattle.  Through these conversations, we have been brainstorming ideas for how we can build together over the long term. The following is the results of these brainstorms.  To be clear, this is a discussion document, NOT a formal position representing our groups.  It is also not something we aim to push as an immediate outcome of the Everything for Everyone conference.  Instead, we hope it will prompt discussion about how to move forward during 2012 into 2013.  We also acknowledge that not everyone involved in E4E will agree with or be interested in this project, but we hope that those who are contact us so we can discuss further.

  1. Tensions of building a national formation
  2. Character of Occupy
  3. Rupture versus base building? Towards a new Revolutionary Organization
  4. Towards a working class insurrection

2012-2013 can be a year of unifying revolutionary militants from around the US. In order for this to happen we need to take the necessary preparatory steps in 2013 to develop a common political analysis and perspective on revolutionary work.  Our strength will come from unifying all of the militants that come out of left communism, anarcho-communism, Johnson-Forrest Tendency/Sojourner Truth, and like-minded revolutionary forces close to this constellation.

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Brecht on our main defect . . .

Bertolt Brecht was a German playwright and artist who influenced the world of theatre and cinema powerfully.  He also was a student of marxism and learned from his time studying with Karl Korsch.  Below we re-post a poem that was brought to our attention by a comrade in Atlanta.  Enjoy.

From A German War Primer

AMONGST THE HIGHLY PLACED
It is considered low to talk about food.
The fact is: they have
Already eaten.

The lowly must leave this earth
Without having tasted
Any good meat.

For wondering where they come from and
Where they are going
The fine evenings find them
Too exhausted.

They have not yet seen
The mountains and the great sea
When their time is already up.

If the lowly do not
Think about what’s low
They will never rise.

THE BREAD OF THE HUNGRY HAS
ALL BEEN EATEN
Meat has become unknown. Useless
The pouring out of the people’s sweat.
The laurel groves have been
Lopped down.
From the chimneys of the arms factories
Rises smoke.

THE HOUSE-PAINTER SPEAKS OF
GREAT TIMES TO COME
The forests still grow.
The fields still bear
The cities still stand.
The people still breathe.

ON THE CALENDAR THE DAY IS NOT
YET SHOWN
Every month, every day
Lies open still. One of those days
Is going to be marked with a cross.

THE WORKERS CRY OUT FOR BREAD
The merchants cry out for markets.
The unemployed were hungry. The employed
Are hungry now.
The hands that lay folded are busy again.
They are making shells.

THOSE WHO TAKE THE MEAT FROM THE TABLE
Teach contentment.
Those for whom the contribution is destined
Demand sacrifice.
Those who eat their fill speak to the hungry
Of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men.

WHEN THE LEADERS SPEAK OF PEACE
The common folk know
That war is coming.
When the leaders curse war
The mobilization order is already written out.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY: PEACE
AND WAR
Are of different substance.
But their peace and their war
Are like wind and storm.

War grows from their peace
Like son from his mother
He bears
Her frightful features.

Their war kills
Whatever their peace
Has left over.

ON THE WALL WAS CHALKED:
They want war.
The man who wrote it
Has already fallen.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY:
This way to glory.
Those down below say:
This way to the grave.

THE WAR WHICH IS COMING
Is not the first one. There were
Other wars before it.
When the last one came to an end
There were conquerors and conquered.
Among the conquered the common people
Starved. Among the conquerors
The common people starved too.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY COMRADESHIP
Reigns in the army.
The truth of this is seen
In the cookhouse.
In their hearts should be
The selfsame courage. But
On their plates
Are two kinds of rations.

WHEN IT COMES TO MARCHING MANY DO NOT
KNOW
That their enemy is marching at their head.
The voice which gives them their orders
Is their enemy’s voice and
The man who speaks of the enemy
Is the enemy himself.

IT IS NIGHT
The married couples
Lie in their beds. The young women
Will bear orphans.

GENERAL, YOUR TANK IS A POWERFUL VEHICLE
It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.

Bertolt Brecht