Category Archives: Anti-Imperialism

NEW ORLEANS, July 17: “A Capitalist Oil Catastrophe,” a talk by Larry Everest

I apologize for this being so last minute, but the announcement was just forwarded to us. – hastenawait

BP Oil Spill Protest, New Orleans, May 30, 2010.

 

New Orleans Secular Humanist Association presents:

Larry Everest – “A Capitalist Oil Catastrophe – System Not A Fit Caretaker of the Planet”

Saturday, July 17 at 2pm
Audubon Zoo
6500 Magazine St
New Orleans, LA 70118

Larry Everest (www.larryeverest.com) correspondent for Revolution newspaper (revcom.us), reporting from Iran, Iraq, Palestine and India. He’s the author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda, which former United States military analyst and Pentagon Papers author Dan Ellsberg calls “remarkable, horrifying, brilliantly illuminating,” and which director Oliver Stone drew from in making “W,” his film about George W. Bush. In 1986, Everest wrote Behind the Poison Cloud: Union Carbide’s Bhopal Massacre, based on his on-the-scene investigation. He’s currently in New Orleans reporting and working with the Emergency Committee to Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster (www.stopgulfoildisaster.org)

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Filed under Anti-Imperialism, class struggle, Communism, Corporations, Demonstration Announcements, Environment, Environmental Justice, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States, Louisiana, Oil, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, The Left, Uncategorized, United States, Upcoming Events

Facebook has disabled the account of one of Leftists in the U.S. South’s FB group administrators

The account of Josh Sykes, one of the admins of Leftists in the U.S. South, has been disabled as part of a recent crackdown on Leftist activity. For some background, read this article in the Guardian which discusses the thoroughly reactionary character of the people and forces behind Facebook.  

Join now: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=136562699701718

In a move to censor the voices of solidarity and human rights, Facebook shut down the “Free Ricardo Palmera!” page on June 30th, claiming it violates their terms of use. On July 7th, the profiles of the three administrators of that group, Josh Sykes, Angela Denio, and Tom Burke, were disabled by facebook with no reason given.

The June 30th Facebook message stated, “The group ‘Free Ricardo Palmera!’ has been removed because it violated our Terms of Use. Among other things, groups that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed. We also take down groups that attack an individual or group, or advertise a product or service. Continued misuse of Facebook’s features could result in your account being disabled.”

Tom Burke, spokesperson of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera responded to the attack, saying, “By shutting us down, Facebook is taking the side of the death squads in Colombia. We will not be silenced – not by death threats from Colombian intelligence agents and not by Facebook. We will use every means available to express support for Professor Palmera and his just struggle for freedom. We reject Facebook’s claim that a campaign for human rights, for prisoners’ rights, and against the U.S. government’s violation of the sovereignty of the Colombian people is somehow anything other than peaceful.”

The “Free Ricardo Palmera!” group, with more than 700 members from all over the world, but especially Latin America and the U.S., existed for many months prior to the abrupt shutdown. The “Free Ricardo Palmera!” page was a valuable and important resource for getting the word out about the injustices done to the Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera and the continuing U.S. attacks on the Colombian people.

Tom Burke said, “We, the administrators of the group “Free Ricardo Palmera,” never ‘attacked’ anyone. Our protests made a mockery of the U.S. Justice Department’s trials and railroading of Ricardo Palmera. The U.S. State Department is upset that their plans to criminalize Professor Palmera and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia failed. It is Ricardo Palmera and the Colombian people who are under attack here. The U.S. war in Colombia, known as Plan Colombia, has displaced over 4 million Colombians – made them landless and homeless. Every week Colombian government death squads murder a trade unionist. Now the U.S. government is building and ‘refurbishing’ seven new military bases in Colombia.”

Burke continues, “We never posted anything hateful or threatening. It is Facebook that is revealing itself to be hateful towards and practicing censorship towards groups organizing for progressive social change. This is a political attack, it is meant to silence social justice in every way. This is an attack on Professor Palmera, a Colombian political prisoner extradited to the U.S., who suffers 23- hour solitary lockdown in Colorado’s Supermax Prison, the threat of electric shock torture and the forced kidnapping from his country by the U.S. It is obscene.”

The censorship of the “Free Ricardo Palmera!” page and the disabling of the accounts of Josh Sykes, Angela Denio, and Tom Burke, follows a series of recent attacks by Facebook on activist groups, including shutting down a group in solidarity with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the 800,000 member Boycott BP page. After a campaign opposing it, the Boycott BP has been reinstated. Apparently the U.S. government and big corporations have great influence over Facebook policies and decisions.

Tell Facebook that you are outraged:

Call Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, at (650) 543-4800

Tell him to
Stop the Assault on Progressive Causes!
Reinstate the group “Free Ricardo Palmera!” Now!
Reinstate the profiles of Josh Sykes, Angela Denio, and Tom Burke Now!
For more info on Palmera see here: http://www.fightbacknews.org/2010/6/22/prisoner-us-empire-colombian-revolutionary-ricardo-palmera

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Filed under Anti-Imperialism, Anti-War, Censorship, class struggle, Corporations, Digital Media, Leftists in the U.S. South, Solidarity, Southern United States, Technology, The Left, Uncategorized, United States

Cultural Politics and Resignification: The Case of July 4th

By hastenawait

A couple of years ago when July 4th rolled around, I began thinking about the contradiction between my celebration of the holiday and my leftist politics. Those who oppose racism, imperialism, genocide (e.g. the slaughter of the indigenous population of North America) and other forms of oppression perpetrated by the United States have many reasons to be critical of the holiday.(1) Despite the more manifest meaning of the holiday (the celebration of values like freedom, liberty and so forth), for many it has come to represent oppression, and there are ample reasons for that; like other social phenomena, it is contradictory. At the immediate, personal level, I was faced with the question: Should I opt out of my family’s holiday celebration, one of the few times during the year when we all get together to enjoy one another’s company? Ultimately I decided not to opt out, and here’s why.

The celebration of a holiday is a cultural practice, which can be analyzed as a performance (or rather collection of performances) which bear meaning. To say that a holiday has inherent meanings which cannot be changed is essentialist and ahistorical. A holiday, like any other cultural practice, can be submitted to a process of resignification. Todd Holden describes resignification as follows.

As its name implies, resignification is a semiotic process—meaning that it involves the creation of meaning from signs. However, resignification is a particular kind of semiosis: one where new sign elements (signifiers, signifieds, signs, significations) are lifted from their original contexts and inserted into other semiotic sequences, though not always (indeed seldom) in the position they occupied in their prior incarnation.

Two aspects are most salient about resignification: first, strung together in unrelenting sequence, such recycling amounts to a phenomenon of sociological import. Most especially, because, procedurally, resignification both reflects and assists cultural mutation. [Italics added by the present author.](2)

In other words, the concept of resignification – an extension of the concept of signification – has been developed to indicate that not only is meaning dependent upon the social context, but that meaning changes over time. The social radically conditions the ability of individual actors (or even groups of actors) to create meaning, but agency is also involved in the production of meaning. Critical intervention is always possible. Despite his emphasis on the determining power of social structure (particularly the economic base) Marx still said that “History does nothing; it does not possess immense riches, it does not fight battles. It is men [sic.], real, living, who do all this.”

In terms of holidays, the history of Christianity offers an instructive example of successful resignification. It is well known that as the influence of the Catholic Church spread across Europe, many indigenous traditions, including holidays, were transformed into Christian traditions (but at the same time the emerging “Christianity” was also modified by the absorption). An uneven, dialectical synthesis took place, in which Christianity was the dominant force. That the early Church was able to do this was an important factor in its ability to transform the European continent after its own image, in other words, to establish a hegemony which lasted over 2,000 years. Whatever we think about it today, Christianity was certainly a successful revolutionary force that changed the course of world history.

When I was thinking about the 4th of July a few years ago, I wrote

…it’s undeniable that this country has a lot going for it, things that are worth celebrating. War hawks often say, with a sense of deep satisfaction, that the freedoms and stability we enjoy were won through blood and sacrifice. They’re right, but not in the sense that they intend. They usually say such things to defend an imperialist foreign policy and the military industrial complex, things which I believe have done nothing but curtail freedom and stability around the world. But there are altogether different struggles and sacrifices that have given us something to be proud of.

…That we have anything close to a system with a human face, in other words democracy, is absolutely the result of popular struggle. Democracy doesn’t come from anywhere else.

I’m talking about the struggles to end slavery, racism, exploitation and sexism. I’m talking about struggles for peace and equality. I’m talking about the movement for LGBT rights. The list goes on.

…For all these reasons I’m celebrating the Forth of July this year. I’m celebrating the democratic rights that we have, and the people who fought to make them a reality. I am celebrating to embolden myself for the future, because the fight for democracy, really, is just beginning; what we have now is just a taste of what we can achieve if we put forth the collective effort. The Right doesn’t own this holiday any more than they own this country. In fact, let me say something that will infuriate right-wing patriots: It is Left-wing and progressive forces that have made the United States live up to its promises of freedom and democracy [to the limited extent that it has], and we’re the ones who should be celebrating; it’s our victory.

In other words, I was suggesting that we could celebrate the 4th of July in a radically different way. We could resignify it. I ask: Would the Catholic Church have been as successful in its efforts to conqueor Europe if it hadn’t transformed some existing cultural practices, instead of simply trying to wipe them out? Would the process have gone less smoothly if they had taken the latter course?

I honestly don’t think that it will do for the left to simply tell working people that their holiday is racist and imperialist. It is a deeply embedded cultural institution, in which people of various classes, nationalities, genders, sexualities, and more, have made powerful libidinal investments. In fact, most of the African Americans that I know here in southern Louisiana celebrate the holiday very enthusiastically, and wouldn’t be too impressed if I told them that they should give it up in the name of struggle. Communists and other progressives should realize that many of the traditions which have developed around the holiday are the expressions of oppressed and working people (contradictory though they are), and should not, therefore, be dismissed in a heavy-handed or patronizing way.

Let me juxtapose two hypothetical cultural activist interventions in regard to this holiday.

Imagine a leftist group on a street corner, protesting the 4th of July, chanting angrily and holding up provocative signs. Then, imagine a leftist group throwing a big 4th of July celebration in a major park, in which the workers’ movement, the civil rights movement, the American Indian movement, the LGBTQI movement, the immigrant’s rights movement, the women’s movement, etc. were celebrated. Imagine an event which popularized the history of struggle in this country, brought attention to those who have really worked to bring about the modicum of freedom and equality that we enjoy. What if we held up banners with the faces of great U.S. Americans like Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, John Brown and Cesar Chavez?

I ask: Which of these interventions would be more alienating to working people raised in a culture of patriotism? Which of these is more patronizing? Conversely, which of these is more subversive? Which would help to win more people over to the side of radical social transformation, i.e., revolution?

(1) Check out Frederick Douglass’ Independence Day Speech at Rochester, 1841.

(2) http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0104/japtele.php

In addition to the works of Ferdinand de Saussare and Roland Barthes(semiotics), Judith Butler (performativity) and Mao Zedong (the mass line), I am also influenced in my thinking on this matter by Alain Badiou’s insistence that we remember that, in the process of revolutionary dialectics, it is not enough to negate an existing condition, but also to affirm or create something new. All too often this is a weak point on the left, whether reformist or revolutionary. See, for example, his lecture, Destruction, Negation and Subtraction, which you can watch on YouTube.

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Filed under African Americans, Anti-Imperialism, Anti-War, class struggle, Imperialism, labor movement, Leftists in the U.S. South, National Oppression, Native Americans, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoners, Queer, Race, Revolution, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, The Left, Uncategorized, United States, Women, workers

Upcoming: Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Zionist demonstration in Birmingham Alabama on August 21st

There will be a demonstration held in Birmingham Alabama at Five Points South on Sat. August 21st, 2010 in front of Highlands United Methodist Church, 1045 20th Street South Birmingham, AL 35205-2623. It will be held from 5:00PM until 6:30PM. Demonstrators will be responsible for bringing their own sign, banner or flag. For any further details contact Dustin Getz at birminghamsds@gmail.com.

Demonstration hosted by Students For A Democratic Society, Fight Imperialism Stand Together, Birmingham Peace Project and Mas Youth.

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Filed under Alabama, Anti-Imperialism, Anti-War, class struggle, Demonstration Announcements, Imperialism, Middle East, Palestine, Solidarity, Southern United States, United States, Upcoming Events

Happenings in the “Sunshine State”

By KurtFF8

There have been a few noteworthy events in Florida recently.

As part of the national “Seize BP” campaign: Destin, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft Myers, Key West, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, and Tampa all had demonstrations in support of the call to seize BP’s assets as BP’s oil began to wash up on Florida’s shores in greater numbers.  These rallies drew out large crowds and quite a bit of support (and a note that many other cities across the South held these BP demonstrations in Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Virginia).

The idea that BP can just be boycott in general raises a few questions that those who argue for a boycott seem to not have thought out.  For example: what is the alternative (although perhaps some Leftists will argue that we should all shop at Citgo perhaps 😉 )  But what kind of lifestyle politics is “watch where you shop for gas” in the first place?  This is why ANSWER launched the Seize BP campaign: it’s the solution to this problem, and would put the assets of BP in the hands of those affected.  Also, something the Seize BP campaign has been questioned about many times thus far is the question of “why allow the Federal Government, who was complicit in the crisis in the first place, be allowed to handle the assets.”  There’s the first point of: they seem to be the only entity actually capable of such an action of seizure.  The second point is that the Seize BP campaign doesn’t call for those responsible for this crisis to be the administrators of such a trust that would be created from the assets, but calls for those affected (fishing and shrimp workers, BP workers, etc.) to be in charge of such a trust.

– There have also been various demonstrations in relation to the recently Israeli attack on the flotilla on its way to Gaza.  ANSWER coalition called for demonstrations in Tampa and Orlando, while the ISO of Gainesville held a demonstration on Monday.  These demonstrations had a clear message: opposition to Israel’s attack and a call on the US government to join in with the rest of the world in condemning the attack and stopping military support to Israel.  While there were various demonstrations condemning the attack around Florida, in Miami, there was a pro-Israel demonstration where some demonstrators even claimed that the Obama administration is going too far in “defending those who want to destroy Israel” (thus we see both demonstrations issuing out harsh criticism of the current administration).  The more reactionary tone of the Miami demonstration doesn’t come as a surprise to Leftists (especially those in Florida) as it’s well known that many reactionary groups are based there.

– Various Florida labor unions within the past month have come out in opposition to (Three paragraphs down) the racist Arizona bill.  The Florida AFL-CIO also passed a resolution coming out in opposition to the bill (not yet published online)

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Filed under ANSWER Coalition, Anti-Imperialism, Anti-War, Florida, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States, Imperialism, labor movement, Leftists in the U.S. South, Palestine, Southern United States

Demand DemocracyNOW! on LPB

With the BP oil spill in the gulf, the attack on the Freedom Flotillas, the escalation of the occupation of Afghanistan the people in Louisiana need real news coverage. DemocracyNOW! has been an “exception to the rulers,” challenging the corporate media’s disinformation campaign for 14 years, and has been an indispensable tool for activists on the left. It is time that we organize for our right to the real news of the day, and stop accepting the corporate media’s pro-Wall Street, Zionist, Nativist propaganda and give the people of Louisiana the weapon of knowledge to strike back against injustice and oppression.

Join up on the campaign to get DemocracyNOW! on Louisiana’s Public Broadcasting network on the Facebook group, Demand DemocracyNOW! on LPB and check in for regular updates.

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