Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Scott Crow is in Olympia for a few speaking events

25 Oct

Activist, anarchist, writer, organizer – Scott Crow – is going to be in Olympia for a few speaking engagements over the next few days. He will be at South Puget Sound Community College on Oct 25th at noon, Room 102, Building 26

Then he will be at Last Word Books on Friday, Oct 26th at 7:30 pm. and one more time in Oly on Monday, Oct 29th at Lecture Hall 2, The Evergreen State College at noon.

Want to understand anarchism? Learn more about it. It’s not what you may think.

Want to continue to misunderstand and misrepresent anarchism? As Bobby Dylan said, “you are going to have to serve somebody…” Choose today, who will you serve? You are going to have to serve somebody.

Black Flags and Radical Relief Efforts in New Orleans: An Interview with scott crow

Author and activist scott crow

“Solidarity not Charity” is a way of feeding people while addressing the underlying problems that cause hunger. The way this manifested itself in Common Ground was to immediately deliver and render aid where the state had failed, and then to leave structures in place so communities can continue to rebuild themselves as they see fit.”

Interview by Stevie Peace & Kevin Van Meter

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina both federal and local authorities failed the population of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. As a result, relief efforts from various sectors of American society flowed south. One of the first and most spectacular and aggressive efforts was Common Ground Relief — formed by strands of the anti-globalization and anarchist movements. scott crow documents these struggles in “Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective”, recently released by PM Press. In this interview, Crow describes the process of becoming an author after being an organizer, reviews the history and myths of Common Ground and explores possible lessons for future progressive and radical organizing. Visit crow’s website at http://scottcrow.org/.

Can you speak to the writing process behind “Black Flags and Windmillsand your shift from an organizer to an author?

One word: difficult. I don’t consider myself a writer; and while I have written a few pieces over the years, it has mostly been out of necessity. From my arrival in New Orleans I took copious notes. Every time I would get moments to get away, I would take notes about organizing and creating an organization to deal with the disaster following Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, I wrote communiqués from just days after the storm and continued for three years. I went back to all of those writings and began turning them into chapters. On a personal level it was healing to write: I came back with post-traumatic stress, couldn’t function in society and felt like the ghost in the machine a lot. The writing actually helped me to relive those traumas in a different way, to really dissect them. It was almost a five-year process; I feel so much better now than I did when I started the book. This is not to say that “Black Flags and Windmills” is a sorrow-filled book. There are lots of beautiful stories along the way and lots of really engaging organizing that was going on. The book describes the anarchist heyday of Common Ground, when the most self-identified anarchists came; this was early September 2005 until 2008. Afterward, the organization became much more structured in a traditional nonprofit way. This is not to denigrate it — just to say that the book focuses on this initial period of “black flags” at Common Ground.

Since memory is a tricky thing, I did outside research and revisited with people. I went back to news articles from grassroots media, reports and blogs to look at specific events and the way things unfolded. Then, I would ask key organizers and New Orleans residents, “Do you remember when this thing happened?” Sometimes it was completely different from how I remembered it. I don’t claim to speak for Common Ground, as I think that would do a disservice to the thousands of people who participated and the hundreds of key organizers that were there.

When I tell a story I want people to understand it and create common bonds. I wrote this book for people who might not have any understanding about radical or anarchist concepts. I always ask myself, “What would my mom think about this?” While I wrote it for people like her, my target audience was those who were coming into movements and might be inspired by what Common Ground was building. I used the stories in the book to give a primer on the theoretical background of anarchism in practice. Another part of the book is telling my own personal narrative. It’s not because I think my story is important, but I wanted to show that I am a regular person that was just caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

Want to know more? Read the whole piece. Come sit in on one of the events.

Political Fables for a Political Year

24 Jul

The WA Post has back to back stories in my digest this morning that I found interesting.

 

In the first story, the Government Accountability Office found that the Republican’s budget showdown over the debt limit coast the county 1.3 billion dollars last year. That is money that we could have used somewhere else in my opinion. But it shows the hypocrisy and stupidity of the current republican congressional legislators. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the democrats are just chomping at the bit to pass the kind of legislation that the country needs, look at their record in 2009-10 when they controlled Senate, House and White House and we could get banker bailouts, but not the public option for health care. Single payer was not even on the table. The dems are clearly beholden to their corporate funding sources, but they don’t engage in wasteful theatrics like the debt ceiling fight or endless votes to repeal legislation that clearly go nowhere. There are significant differences between the parties, but both parties understand that they cannot legislate against the interest of the wealthy interests that now decide our elections (thanks to Citizens United and Scotus Inc.)

 

 

GAO: Debt fight cost at least $1.3 billion

 

 

By , Published: July 23

Last summer’s fierce political debate over raising the federal debt limit cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in extra borrowing costs, including hundreds of hours in overtime for federal employees responsible for avoiding default, according to a new government report.

Delays in raising the debt limit forced the Treasury Department to pay an extra $1.3 billion in borrowing costs — and the final sum is expected to climb higher as multi-year obligations and other outstanding costs are added later, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Monday.

Read the whole story?

In the second story, the League of Conservation Voters is reported to planning to launch a global warming campaign to unseat 5 flat-earth republicans who have been a little too vocal about their ignorance.

I think it has become more and more difficult for the red-staters to deny global warming. What’s wrong with Kansas is starting to shift from the question about how they can vote against their own best interest over and over to just how bad is the drought going to be? As folks see the crops dry up and experience the consequences of supporting electoral candidates and parties who guarantee that we do nothing about global warming, they may have an epiphany. A lot of folks are going to become believers in global warming through the rough lessons of direct experience.

Torrential rains, floods, derecho windstorms, super tornados, droughts, may provide a wake-up call to folks in the heartland that was never going to be delivered by the threat to polar bears and penguins or rising sea levels that are threatening the coastal states that can’t afford to harbor politically-rooted doubts about climate change.

Here is a bit of the second story and link to the whole thing:

Environmentalists target 5 Republicans who question humans’ impact on climate

 

 

By , Published: July 23

The League of Conservation Voters will launch a $1.5 million campaign Tuesday targeting five House Republicans who question the connection between human activity and climate change, in an effort to test whether the issue can sway voters.

Prominent conservative Republicans have challenged the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and other sources are transforming the Earth’s climate. But it has not emerged as a central issue in a national political campaign, and President Obama, who pushed unsuccessfully for national limits on greenhouse gas emissions at the start of his term, has played down the issue over the past two years.

Read the whole story? Why not?

 

It’s the Climate, Stupid.

2 Jul

The economy is a financial shadow of the state of the physical world. Economics is simply one way of measuring certain activity here on a small planet on a spiral arm of a somewhat non-descript galaxy in the known universe. There are lots of planets, rocks, planetoids, stars, dust motes in the universe that appear to have little or no activity that could be measured in economic terms (other than zero) because the local climate and weather have reached steady states that are too hot or too cold for economic measurement.

Ouch!  Click me please We float around the galaxy in the goldilocks zone, neither too hot nor too cold for lively economic activity, yet when our economic house of cards starts to shake, we can’t figure out that the climate in the goldilocks zone is the ultimate free lunch and that economics are a shadow of the physical world. We appear to be willing to destroy the climate rather than upset the economic schemes of the dominant species on the planet.

Homo industrialis is a dominant and successful species, but maybe not too smart. We need to evolve to become homo sustainabilis or we kiss it goodbye. We better wise up soon.

Lots of weather news out there. The Rio climate talks were disappointing. No political will to re-order our priorities and realize that the economy relies on the climate, not the other way around.

Here are some news items about the weather, some things to think about as we enter the lazy days of summer:

We have options. We have to look at ways to prevent capitalism, the church of the profit, from burning the house down while we try to live in the house.

Here is an interesting piece about democratic capitalism in Spain. I don’t know if this kind of thing is the answer, but it’s encouraging to see a less top-down model of corporate structure. Mondragon Corporation. Read all about it. Thanks to Alternet for running this piece.

Chris Hedges has a piece on Alternet today about Crazy Horse. It’s a good piece, but Chris is someday going to need to reconcile his “black bloc is a cancer” screed with pieces like this one where he glorifies warrior lifestyles. I don’t say that I know which approach is right. I agree with Chris on this article that includes a quote from the lesser-known Marx Brother:

Karl Marx was correct when he called unregulated capitalism “a machine for demolishing limits.” This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be so much heat trapped in the atmosphere that any attempt to scale back carbon emissions will make no difference. Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Killer hurricanes and tornados. Power outages. Freak weather. Rising sea levels. Crop destruction. Food shortages. Plagues.

Yep, it’s Monday morning. Time to throw on the office clothes and get the work week underway. Be careful out there. Stay cool. Keep cool.

Cutting Rock by Hand

16 Jun

It’s hard to know what to do in the current political and environmental environment. Scanned a piece today on Climate and Capitalism website. This piece was a reaction to a favorable review of Derrick Jensen’s book Deep Green Resistance that ran on Canadian Dimension. Jensen seems to catch a lot of reactionary ink to his proposals to create change. I am pretty busy working the create change in many ways, so don’t have lots of time to read Jensen (or to blog these days) but I get the impression that Jensen embraces a Luddite sensibility at times. Maybe also a monkey wrench mentality that is attractive, but may be a dead end politically. There is something about the monkey wrench mentality that I find both sexist and adolescent, which is not to say that I don’t also find it attractive.

This review of a review included a quote from Eugene V. Debs about the use of violence as a political tactic. I liked this quote a lot:

“It is not because these tactics involve the use of force that I am opposed to them, but because they do not…. The force that implies power is utterly lacking, and it can never be developed by such tactics.”

I suspect Debs is correct. That violent tactics of wanton property destruction will never succeed. But I fear that Jensen could also be correct when he asserts (per this review of a review) that:

“I don’t think most people care, and I don’t think most people will ever care…. The mass of civilized people will never be on our side.”

That elitist, greener-than-thou attitude permeates Deep Green Resistance.

The authors write:

“The vast majority of the population will do nothing unless they are led, cajoled, or forced. … there will be no mass movement, not in time to save this planet, our home.”

And:

“Humans aren’t going to do anything in time …[so] those of us who care about the future of the planet have to dismantle the industrial energy infrastructure as rapidly as possible.”

There is something afoot in the world that makes it difficult to rouse the peasants. It seems to me to be a strange mix of economic desperation brought on by wage stagnation, by labor outsourcing, by globalization of corporate profit and human exploitation combined with a media and consumption induced trance state where folks who are clinging to creature comforts and their hope of individual job security blinds them to the fact that the ground is shifting under our feet. Our pensions, 401k benefits, Medicare, Social Security – none of this will be protected if we destroy the planet’s willingness to accommodate our species. It may be difficult to see that hard reality with your head firmly planted in the sand of Fox News, or Time Warner, or any of the media giants who all spew a steady stream of distraction and infotainment.

In terms of the desperation of human labor, I came across a piece on the Black Orchid Collective website (thanks to Austin Kelly for sending that along) that was reposted from Recomposition about human labor. A rumination on the devaluation of human labor, that included this poem from Rilke:

The Machine endangers all we have made.

We allow it to rule instead of obey.

To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

Rilke (Translated by Joanna Macy)

Ah, yes. A sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own. I will cut stone by hand on that project. See you at the quarry.

We are bringing Dr. Michael Parenti to Olympia in October

22 May

I am pretty excited about having Michael Parenti do the keynote speaking event for the Fourth People’s Movement Assembly.  Will post more about that soon, but for now, just want to share this Parenti video for folks who are not familiar with Dr. Parenti’s work.

Enjoy!

Breaking the Spell

11 Apr

Going to take an hour and watch this closely. Found it while cruising Infoshop.

Having trouble getting the video to embed, so jump to this link to view.

Boycott, Divest, Sanctions: Peaceful and Effective. Speak Truth to Power.

10 Feb

Political pressure expressed through our collective wallets is very effective. Count me in: