Richmond, VA – http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=111284678950426&ref=mf
Tallahassee, FL -http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=219026511447588
If you have an event you’d like to add here, please comment and we’ll be sure to add it!
Richmond, VA – http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=111284678950426&ref=mf
Tallahassee, FL -http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=219026511447588
If you have an event you’d like to add here, please comment and we’ll be sure to add it!
[Originally posted to thefirecollective.org]
After careful study and consideration, our collective, the FIRE Collective, has decided to formally affiliate ourselves with the Kasama Project. Kasama is a communist network in the US dedicated to a revolutionary reconception of communism. Further, we have decided to announce ourselves as a Kasama Collective.
In September of 2009, a group of us in Houston, Texas formed an independent communist collective, The FIRE Collective (standing for Fight Imperialism, Rethink and Experiment).
In both the US and around the world, we saw there was a process of refounding the communist movement that was both deeply necessary and at a beginning. This included a process of reconceiving the communist project, and we wanted to make our own contributions to that process together with our comrades.
We have been engaged in study and struggle for over a year. We’ve grown in numbers, developed our understanding of revolutionary theory and history, and forged a higher degree of political unity.
Revolution is not only a local exercise. It requires the strategic thinking, study, and coordinated practice of comrades throughout the country (and ultimately the world). The work of reconceiving cannot be confined to a locality, but rather it needs forms that can give expression to its fearless journey to places still unexplored, and questions unsettled. We believe there needs to be a combination of our local contributions to theory and practice with that which is developing on the national plane.
For these reasons, we are excited to join with the work the Kasama network has been engaged in, and contributing to charting an uncharted course to a communist future. Other similar collectives have also started to form as part of Kasama’s network, and we look forward to sharing theory and practice, learning from one another as we move.
[Originally posted to kasamaproject.org]
by Rosa Harris
I live confined to this housing project, surrounded by bone-hard poverty and everything it brings with it.
If our car is broken, we are literally pinned down. We can’t get out – not to doctors, not to meet political comrades.
But there is something deeper about the hole we are trapped in… My son thinks of little other than getting out. And he isn’t thinking so much about getting “the people” out – but of getting away from the people.
My mind has always dreamed of a better world, but my daily experience is here, in a place where you just can’t romanticize “the oppressed.” Up close, people are often caught up in some terrible stuff. It’s not just the capitalists who live in a dog-eat-dog world, it’s us too. The dominant ideas of an epoch become dominant ideas among the people themselves.
I’m not going to apologize again for my moods and my conflicted thoughts — even though I feel I need to. The other day something happened that made me feel very ashamed and hurt.
Mary, one of my few friends here in this project is a crack user. Her daughter is a prostitute. And her son recently got out of prison.
I’ve never understood completely what the word “lumpen” means in our communist language – but these are part of a broken section of the people. Desperate. And at times, using each other… badly. And yet, she is one of my only friends here. And what does that say about me, and my life?
I should tell the whole story I suppose. I know you won’t blame me.
Mary brought her son by. To meet me, she said.
My boy friend was getting ready to take me to the store and we were practically out the door. I walked into the kitchen and Mary handed me a sack in each hand – each small, wrapped in cellophane. I looked at what they were and tried to put them back into her hands. She kept pressing them toward me.
I don’t know why she was trying to hand them to me in the first place. I could tell she was cracked out. Was she wanting to hide it in my place?
I said “I got to go to the bathroom” – just to get out of the situation.
I didn’t want to out to my boyfriend that they had brought this shit into our apartment. We don’t use it. We don’t want it around. And he doesn’t want me hanging with Mary. I’m always covering for my friend when she does stupid stuff like that when she’s cracking out on me. Mary had stolen my laptop once – which is one of the few things of value I own– my connection to the world. But then we got it back afterwards.
I went to the store, came back and went to her place to let her know that this had not been ok..
Her son and daughter showed up and confronted me. They said they wanted “their money.” Even though I don’t use that shit, even though I was angry they had brought it over, even though I hadn’t bought anything. He was threatening me. And made me go to the ATM with them. They were desperate for quick cash, and the whole thing was an excuse. It was theft.
I’ve known the daughter for a long time, and she never treated me this way before. My friend Mary watched this, saying nothing. She didn’t stand up for me, or call him off. I couldn’t believe this was happening. It felt like being raped — like I’m watching myself and my life, and my pain happening outside me — powerless.
I feel like an idiot for not just outing them in front of my boy friend – cuz it meant he was not there standing with me. I feel like an idiot for staying friends with them even though they had hurt me before. But I’m just so alone at times.
But suddenly I was “going” with them to the ATM, and giving them all my remaining money – a few hundred dollars. Everything.
I need people, and these women were among my the only friends – and yet they turned on me, and ripped me off. Something that happens every day here, among the people.
It is so hard and desperate here. My kid gets threatened and arrives home breathing hard. He talks of things he’s seen, and things he fears. He thinks of arming himself (which terrifies me) or simply act invisible… or somehow getting out.
It took me a few days to even tell my boy friend because I was afraid of what he would say. He turned out to be very understanding, but still said “You shouldn’t hang out with people like that” — which puts blame on me again.
I have the horrible feeling I should be blamed. Now I am also out a friend and my money. But don’t we also lose our hope — piece by piece?
And part of me knows, of course, where the blame belongs. There is a system that put us here. There is a hopelessness we are all injected with. There are circuits of empire that bring the drugs here, and run the prisons (which are just training camps for brutalization and mutual torture).
But often that system feels far away. And that blame feels very abstract. And our immediate oppressors are so often each other… as we claw each other, and brutalize each other in our despair and madness.
I even wonder why I use “we” here. I don’t claw anyone. I don’t brutalize anyone. We divide up, don’t we, once again, into victims, abusers and indifferent observers. We live in a time when, here a least, there is so little solidarity or glimpse of a bigger picture. Here people are often broken, and it is hard to imagine where the unity or vision could come for changing anything.
My son said “The people here are so fucked up, they don’t deserve communism and would mess it up if they had it.”
I don’t believe that, of course. I never have. But I just want to share, honestly, how from here everything just feels so bleak sometimes. How do we show up here, as communists, and change people’s choice, and change the people themselves?
Are these really the people that can become the rulers of society? And how do we help that happen?
This has been a hard moment, and right now the whole world seems dark to me. And, the money thing really bothers me. I’m lucky its December – the food pantries give away a lot of food during the holidays.
And I have you, my comrades, around the world: I have your ear, and I have whatever we manage to create together.
By hastenawait, December 14, 2010
The Muslim Legal Fund of America is a non-profit organization which has existed since 2001. It supports legal cases across the country which impact civil rights, freedoms, liberties and principles of justice in America, particularly where Muslims are concerned. The organization focuses on important cases which affect the Muslim community and public policy. Their decisions about which cases to take up, therefore, are strategic.
Last night the MLFA hosted a benefit dinner in Kenner, Louisiana . Kenner is a smaller city that borders New Orleans. The benefit was intended to raise funds for the organization’s work and to raise awareness about ongoing injustices facing Muslims in the United States. Around 100 people attended, with the majority being Louisiana Muslim community members. A handful of non-Muslims were there as well.
Speakers included Adulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born New Orleans businessman who has achieved a degree of fame because he rode out hurricane Katrina and then went around rescuing people in his canoe. For his good work he was arrested, labeled a terrorist and imprisoned for 23 days.
The daughter of Shukri Abu Baker also spoke. Baker was the president of the Holy Land Foundation, which was the largest Muslim charity in the United States. In the aftermath of September 11, the Bush regime charged the organization with supporting Hamas in Palestine. The organization was subsequently shut down and Baker is now serving a 65-year prison sentence, essentially for providing charitable aid to victims of the ongoing genocide in Palestine. All of the speakers gave powerful and moving presentations.
The keynote speaker was former U.K.-parliamentarian and long-time activist, George Galloway. Galloway is known for his activist work in support of Palestine. He is a founding member of a charitable organization called Viva Palestina, whose mission is to break the blockade of the Gaza strip by bringing badly-needed aid. For these activities, he was denied entry into Canada from March of 2009 until October 2010. He has not, however, been officially blocked from entering the United States.
You can imagine the surprise of the audience last night when it was announced that Galloway would not be speaking with them in person, as he had been denied entry into the United States over the weekend. He was supposed to be traveling the country for a multi-city speaking tour, but was told by airline officials that he would not be able to enter the U.S. because there were problems with his visa.
Undeterred, Galloway instead addressed the crowd in Kenner via the computer program Skype. A laptop was hooked up to a projector, and a live video could be seen on two large screens in a convention room of the Crown Plaza hotel, where the event was held. During his talk Galloway stated that it is not clear whether his being denied entry was the result of a technical or bureaucratic glitch, or whether it was a political measure carried out in secrecy. He explained that efforts were made to resolve the situation throughout the weekend, but that nothing came of it.
The main body of his talk concerned human rights violations carried out by the U.S. government against Muslims worldwide, and particularly the grave humanitarian situation in Palestine, which has resulted from Israeli-U.S. imperialist settler policies.
Because his being denied entry to the U.S. may be an instance of political repression (and we know that this is not unlikely) he reiterated his resolve to not be silenced. He said boldly : “Nothing will stop me. Not the government of what they call Israel; not the government of Canada or the U.S.” He continued: “I cannot be silenced…I hope the U.S. government understands that. We live in the age of Skype, YouTube and Facebook. There will always be a way for me to speak.”
He went on to describe his speaking visit to New Orleans last year. He said that New Orleans is a city which he loves deeply, and that he has every intention of visiting it again, and speaking to New Orleanians again. He vowed that he would fight to get back into the United States and that this event would be rescheduled.
When speaking about the Muslims, solidarity activists and charitable workers who have been the target of political repression in the United States since 9/11, he argued: “Anyone of you as I look around this hall could be the next one to hear the knock on the door, to be unjustly accused…even because you’re doing charitable work for a country that has been wiped off the map.” He was referring to Palestine.
Galloway’s provocative statement that he “cannot be silenced” because “we live in the age of Skype, YouTube and Facebook” is particularly pertinent at this time. People have been talking about the political implications of the digital revolution since it began, just as people in other eras discussed the political implications of other media and technological shifts. But in the wake of the WikiLeaks revelations and other events this year (such as FBI raids on anti-war activists) the contradictions implicit in this social revolution are perhaps clearer than ever – and they are certainly heightened. These contradictions are increasingly characterizing the contemporary world, and, broadly speaking, they boil down to this: the new digital media open up the way for new democratic transformations and unprecedented levels of openness in public institutions on the one hand; on the other, they open up possibilities for frightening forms of surveillance, opacity and authoritarianism. A resume of U.S. government activities since the Bush administration should leave no doubt about the latter tendency.
At one level these contradictions are overdetermined by another prevailing social contradiction which is inherent to capitalism, and that is the contradiction between massively-socialized production and economic life generally, on the one hand, and private ownership on the other. (The struggles over intellectual property, file sharing etc. all take place within the trajectory of this contradiction.) At its base, this contradiction is about who has power in society and who does not.
It is increasingly clear that the new digital technologies make governments, corporations and other powerful entities newly powerful but at the same time newly vulnerable (just look at the attacks on the websites of Visa and MasterCard by “hacktivists” following the latest round of leaks by WikiLeaks). The same is true of the people who are resisting the powerful. For example, these technologies make it easier for governments to spy on activists, but they also provide the means of organization for those activists. It should be noted, in regard to the 2010 FBI raids on anti-war activists, that because of social networking sites like Facebook, an organized response was beginning the very day that the raids were taking place. Within hours there were videos on YouTube. Press conferences, demonstrations and the like were all in the works.
Galloway’s appearance via Skype last night highlights the liberatory dimension opened up by these technologies. Whether the U.S. government is in fact preventing him from entering the country, or whether there was a technical glitch does not change this. The fact is that his lack of physical presence did not prevent him from addressing Louisiana community members. He was not prevented from speaking.
This is a repost from the PSL website:
Confederate anniversary no reason for celebration
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
By: Austin Thompson
Say no to racism!
The Southern region of the United States has a rich tapestry of cultural tradition that includes contributions from Blacks, whites and Indigenous nations. Unfortunately, this collective tradition is constantly overshadowed by a perverted version of white Southern history that shackles the region’s past to the ghosts of 19th-century slaveholders.
Slavery: the true legacy of the Confederacy
The New York Times and other sources are reporting that scores of southerners are planning to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Confederacy’s secession from the United States next year without addressing the legacy of slavery at all. The N.A.A.C.P. has already announced its intention to protest.
Earlier this year, conservative politicians like Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Bob McDonnell of Virginia supported the creation of official holidays celebrating the history of the Confederacy—11 Southern slaveholding states that seceded from the U.S. in 1860 and 1861. Naturally, African-Americans are horrified that public figures can memorialize the Confederate states, despite the hellish abuses suffered by enslaved Blacks in the antebellum South.
Racism is inseparable from Confederate history
Many well-intentioned white southerners have been bombarded with propaganda that the secession of the South was about “states’ rights” and not about slavery, but this is a deep misunderstanding of the Civil War. The principal “right” that the Confederacy defended was the right of a tiny white slaveholding class to own Black laborers as their personal property. In fact, immediately after declaring independence, the Confederacy explicitly made it illegal under their constitution to limit or prohibit slavery.
Revolutionaries recognize the right of all oppressed nations to self-determination and equality, but that does not mean support for wars for independence in every historical circumstance. Our critical position toward the Confederacy is totally justified by a Marxist analysis of the social and class composition of the Old South.
The South had an elaborate class society, held together by a racist ideology of Black inferiority. The ideology of white supremacy was so pervasive that even the writer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was a proud racist and Southern slave-owner. Under this system, enslaved Africans were brutalized, sexually assaulted and exploited to fuel the birth of a productive economic system in the “New World.”
Contrary to conventional wisdom, poor whites were not equal beneficiaries of the slave system, and white skin privilege was not enough to save most from lives of squalor and hardship.
Despite propaganda in popular films like “Gone With the Wind” that Southern slave society was a “kind” and “gentle” community tied together by values and a prosperous social order, by the time the Civil War began it was an obsolete productive system defined by repression and an insatiable desire for Westward expansion into indigenous lands.
The secession of the Southern Confederacy was a failed effort by the slaveholder class to legitimize and defend their decaying social order through violence. While many white southerners are taught that the Civil War was an offensive by the North against the South, it was actually the aggressive provocations of the slaveholders to maintain their privileges and power that sparked the conflict.
Confederate defeat was a giant leap forward
Regardless of the contradictions within the Union and abolitionist movement leading up to the Civil War, the victory of rebellious slaves, northern free Blacks and abolitionists against the Southern Confederacy was a progressive moment in both American and world history. The destruction of the Confederacy set the stage for a second American revolution during the post-Civil War era, called Reconstruction.
Sadly, this potential revolution was undone by vitriolic hate and institutional racism that maintained a system of Black oppression. Elites were insulated from the threat of rebellion by white workers, by the use of racist ideology that divided the exploited classes. The 150-year celebration of Southern independence from the Union (independence for white southerners only) is more than a simple confusion of history. Reactionaries will use the anniversary to send a message that they are prepared to use violent force again to prevent any profound political or social reform by “big government.”
The celebration of the Southern Confederacy is not only insensitive to African-Americans whose ancestors were victims of slave society, but it also exhibits a callous disregard for the current confrontations of Black communities with racist institutions and discrimination. All progressive and revolutionary people should use this anniversary of the Confederacy as a moment to bring attention to the historical and on-going struggles against racism and exploitation in the South.
[From the author, Jordan Flaherty]
I wanted to let you know that from now through January 1, you can order Floodlines online from Haymarket Books and get 40% off the cover price, and free shipping for orders over $25.
The link to order online is here:http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/Floodlines-Community-and-Resistance-from-Katrina-to-the-Jena-Six
Below are some reviews of the book:
As the floodwaters rose in New Orleans, Jordan Flaherty began to write, rescuing precious truths about the reality of racism and solidarity in his city that risked being washed away in the tide of formulaic corporate journalism. I can think of no journalist that writes with deeper knowledge or more love about this highly contested part of the United States. With a new flood threatening life on the Gulf Coast – this time made of oil, not water, but powered, as always, by greed and neglect – these remarkable stories of injustice and resistance must be heard.– Naomi Klein, author “The Shock Doctrine”
This is the most important book I’ve read about Katrina and what came after. In the tradition of Howard Zinn this could be called “The People’s History of the Storm.” Jordan Flaherty was there on the front lines. He compellingly documents the racism, poverty, and neglect at the core of this national failure and the brave, generous, grassroots revolutionaries who saved and continue to save a city and a people. It is my favorite kind of book – great storytelling, accurate accounting, a call for engagement and change.-Eve Ensler, playwright, The Vagina Monologues, activist and founder of V-Day
Jordan Flaherty is one of the best and most courageous writers in America today. Beyond his obvious writing skills, what I admire most about Jordan is his dedication to truth-telling, to bringing the real and whole America to the American people. At a time in our nation when there is so much distortion of current events and history, Jordan Flaherty represents the core of who we truly are. And what we are capable of being as citizens of this ever-changing world.-Kevin Powell, Author of Open Letters to America
Jordan Flaherty is an independent journalist for the Hip-Hop generation. As a white anti-imperialist who is committed to social and racial justice, Jordan brings out the voices of the victims and survivors of Hurricane Katrina and the levee breach in New Orleans. This book not only speaks truth to power but is a rallying cry for all of us to take action. With this definitive work, the voices of the grassroots, the communities resisting displacement, finally have a voice.– Rosa Clemente, 2008 Green Party VP Candidate, Hip Hop Activist and Journalist
Jordan Flaherty’s Floodlines takes us back into the path of the storm, evoking the almost unfathomable racism and hatred of the poor that the levee breach exposed, and exposing the continuing complicity with white supremacy of both state and nonprofit recovery efforts and of the white Left. His is an unrelenting narrative that manages to chronicle the multiple system failures after the storm yet uplift by passionately detailing the spirit and history of organizing by grassroots New Orleanians in the years since the storm. With millions of gallons of oil pumping into the ecosystem from the Gulf of Mexico, all of our lives could depend on the knowledge Flaherty’s friends and comrades wrestle from their history.- Mab Segrest, Author, “Memoir of a Race Traitor.”
The usual Katrina narrative tracks government incompetence during the emergency phase and and corporate greed — or inertia — in its aftermath. Jordan Flaherty tells a less well known story, centered on the boisterous infrastructure of left-leaning community groups and non-profits that were fired up by disaster and still struggle to shape New Orleans’ recovery. Flaherty is part of that movement. His vantage brings hands-on intimacy to this chronicle and poignancy to his conclusions.-Jed Horne, author, “Breach of Faith, Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City.”
Here’s the missing news from the Crescent City: folks are fighting back. Indeed, as Flaherty reminds us in this remarkable and noble book, the very soul of New Orleans is struggle. As southern Louisiana again faces a man-made catastrophe, his portraits of activism and hope could not be more timely.Mike Davis, Author, “Planet of Slums”
Jordan describes reality from the ground up. You’ve heard of the eagle’s eye view: this is the earthworm’s. Jordan knows who actually turns over the earth, and he follows them, even when most look away. His book brings us the good news of who’s working for change (and how) but also the reality about the price those people pay for our indifference.-Laura Flanders, Host, Grit TV, Author, “Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians”
Jordan Flaherty is a journalist who causes revolution with the printed word. This book is a testament to the power of the pen when its in the hand of a freedom fighter and a global thinker. While others are just writing these stories, Jordan Flaherty is living them.- Jesse Muhammad, Final Call Newspaper
Jordan Flaherty’s first calling is as a dedicated community organizer, but he’s also a top-rate investigative journalist. The oppressed communities of New Orleans and larger Louisiana are fortunate to have this talented and compassionate reporter in their midst. This book is invaluable to the United States’ social justice movement that relies on his expertise, honesty, and truth.-Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Author, “Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War”
[Originally posted to World Socialist Website]
University students from throughout Louisiana descended on the capitol in Baton Rouge on November 10 to demonstrate against cuts in state spending on education. About 500 students from Louisiana State University (LSU), Southern University, University of New Orleans (UNO), Southeastern Louisiana University (SELU), University of Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL), Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University and Grambling State University were in attendance.
The budget cuts in education, already amounting to $310 million, are part of a larger series of austerity measures that will affect virtually all state-funded public services. Recently, Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, announced an additional cut in higher education spending of as much as 35 %, or up to $500 million more.
Students crowded the steps at the base of the capitol with signs, banners, and raised fists. As elsewhere, the policies of the federal and state governments have produced major disillusionment and an acute feeling of frustration among students, workers and youth in Louisiana. One sign, outlining the state’s crisis of education and indicting Governor Jindal, read sarcastically, “Iff you kan reede this, thanck Bobby Jindal.”
State officials and legislators made clear their hostility to the students’ demands. Only one Democratic state legislator attended the demonstration. Another legislator screamed at demonstrators as he left the capitol building. “We don’t need socialism in our economic policy,” he said, “and we don’t need it in our educational system! This is Un-American!”
Coupled with the ending of the meager federal stimulus package at the close of this year, the entire state higher education system is in crisis. Tuition has risen sharply, entire departments and programs have been cut, teachers, faculty and workers have been laid off, and services essential to the survival of these institutions are in danger.
“The cleaning staff in the Liberal Arts building have been laid off,” one UNO student explained. “The classrooms are filthy. It’s not uncommon to see trash all over the room. My anthropology classroom even floods.” He went on to talk about his financial concerns: “My tuition is skyrocketing. If it goes up any more, I won’t be able to continue.”
Foreign language departments have also been hard hit. “First they cut our third level course, then our second year course, and in the spring they will even cut German 1101,” a professor of German at LSU explained. One of her students added that if he graduated in the spring, he would still have to make up a course due to cuts in the university’s curriculum.
There were a series of speakers at the rally, including students and professors from each university. The majority of speakers, although passionate, did nothing reveal the class character of the situation—appealing instead to the Democrats against Governor Jindal. Typical was a professor from Southern University who proclaimed, “When young people get involved in the political system, you can literally change the world!” Such a statement expresses and propagates the misconception that the corporate-controlled two-party system represents the interests of the people.
One exception was Gregory William Esteven, a student from SELU, who broached the wider issues confronting working people: “All our public universities are facing such situations to one degree or another, and it means that higher education will be available to increasingly fewer people, and especially to the working class who make up the vast majority in this country and state. It means that Louisiana will have a dramatically-less educated population, which translates into a less educated workforce and political culture.”
The stories told to the rally show the direction of the education system, not only in Louisiana, but also across the United States and other developed nations. The universities’ lack of funding will result in the abandonment of an entire generation of working class youth, and loss of a vast intellectual potential. The education-deprived youth will be offered only the future of becoming instruments of the ruling class in new wars driven by the profit concerns of the ruling class.
There has been resistance to this new ruthless offensive waged by the capitalists, although it has been sporadic and lacks unity or direction. Last month, roughly 70 UNO students occupied a campus building for several hours, ending with a brief and minor clash with the police.
The working class and youth need a new direction. The youth and working class must break from the big-business parties and independently pursue a socialist program—a program that values the many over the few, of human need over profit.