originally available at: http://www.counterpunch.org/maher11242009.html

November 24, 2009



This was bound to be a big week in California regardless, as the threat of a 32 percent tuition and fee increase across the University of California system made a crashing entrance into reality with Wednesday’s vote by the UC Board of Regents. Perhaps the Regents and UC President Mark Yudof expected that their diversionary tactics--lament the crisis and direct blame to Sacramento’s budget cuts--would pay off. But this was not to be.

Aided in no small part by the explosive exposé published by UC Santa Cruz Professor of Political Science Bob Meister, the student, faculty, and workers’ movements the length and breadth of the state were no longer willing to accept privatization disguised as crisis-imposed budget cuts. As Meister explained in no uncertain terms, the proposed (and now passed) tuition increase has nothing whatsoever to do with budget cuts, but the cuts merely provided the pretext for a long-planned drive (and Reaganite wet dream) to privatize public education in California once and for all.

Anti-Capital Projects

This is a transcription of Mike Davis’ speech and closing remarks at the ISO’s “Socialism” conference which took place in San Francisco this summer. Originally published at Advance the Struggle

I took my 15-year-old son last night to the movies in Berkeley to see the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3. I kept thinking: is this set in Sacramento?

Here you have the governor and his gang of Republicans, and they’re holding the people captive and threatening to shoot them one by one unless their demands for budget cuts and a new stage in the Republican fiscal revolution occurs. And then on the other hand, you have the leadership of the Democratic Party in Sacramento, Karen Bass and Darrell Steinberg, and they’re saying “Oh, no, no, no, don’t shoot all the passengers, just shoot half the passengers.”

Part of being a good comrade is being able to give and accept critiques of each others' politics. When a comrade puts forth politics you have disagreement with, it should be your responsibility as a comrade and a revolutionary to voice those disagreements in a principled way. To do otherwise would be liberalism and serves only to weaken the revolutionary movement.

It is in this spirit that I offer a critique of the weaknesses of the politics of the "Smack a White Boy" group within Anarchist People of Color (APOC) and a small critique of APOC itself. It is my hope that this will contribute to the debate currently happening within APOC and lead to more cohesive politics and a stronger APOC.



Smack Bad Politics, Abolish the White Race

As a participant in Anarchists People of Color (APOC) in New York City, I have been very aware of the serious weaknesses of the APOC model. We organize around two things: being Anarchists (some prefer Anti-Authoritarian or Autonomist), and being people of color. There are a few serious potential problems with this.

Firstly, the "Anarchist" part of Anarchist People of Color is never defined. Anyone who has spent any time at all studying Anarchist politics knows that someone calling themselves an Anarchist can range from repairing bicycles and serving dumpster-dived food to building revolutionary unions or other forms of dual power. The politics of participants in APOC (I use the term "participant" over "member" because APOC is generally not a membership-based organization) reflect this diversity.

Secondly, while I think it's safe to say that we have a shared definition of what it means to be a "person of color" (which I would briefly define as a person who does not receive the set of privileges enjoyed by "white" people), the implication here is that we share a common experience of racism. This is just not the case, with people of African descent and indigenous peoples suffering from the effects of white supremacy in a very different way in the United States.

With APOC having such ambiguous politics, I watched with interest when a group of APOC coming out of D.C. APOC and Philadelphia APOC put out the "Smack a White Boy Statement" in Mid-March of this year. The same groups just recently put out a "Smack a White Boy Part Two" statement. While both statements definitely put forth a more focused set of politics for APOC, there is a serious problem: it gets white supremacy all wrong.

Advance the Struggle recently published an essay entitled Justice For Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity? From the essay's introduction:

The murder of Oscar Grant set Oakland on fire, but who put the fire out? The working class people of Oakland, their consciousness set ablaze, found an inadequate set of organizational tools at their disposal to do the work that deep down we all know has to be done – confront the state (government) and its underlying property relations.

The primary organization available to them was a coalition of nonprofits; the secondary organizational tool was a self-labeled revolutionary communist organization. Both played prominent but ultimately problematic leadership roles while Oakland youth lacked cohesive theory and organizational structure through which to effectively challenge their oppressors.

Using the Oscar Grant episode as a case study in the role of political leadership in the Bay Area, we hope to reveal the most glaring shortcomings of the left today. We believe new leadership is necessary, and hope that this document can contribute to its emergence.

“What’s understood ain’t gotta be explained. So for those who understand meet Dwayne”, and so spits Dwayne Carter III, better known as Lil’ Wayne, on his critically acclaimed third “official” album Tha Carter III. The album has graced numerous top albums of the year lists—almost always in the top 5—and nabbed three Grammys, including best rap album of the year. But even more important than the album’s critical success was its commercial success, selling more than a million copies in its first week and going platinum twice, all in an era of decreasing record sales and free downloads. So why has Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III achieved such critical and commercial success—why did the album resonate with music industry elites, middle class white teenagers, and young men and women of color?

Tha Carter III transcends divisions of race, class and gender for one simple reason: it is a 16 track manifesto on alienation.

Unfinished Acts: January Rebellion is a zine that recounts the events in Oakland in response the murder of Oscar Grant III by BART police on January 1, 2009. Download it here. (3.1 MB PDF)

From the zine's introduction:

by Chino

I first heard Duanna Johnson's name from a friend in the Anarchist People of Color network, in passing conversation during a busy political meeting. The next day, I could only remember the stand-out details: Black trans person. Memphis. Police brutality. From a distance it seemed like any other story of police abuse, in which the state uses racist violence, hetero-sexist violence, or both to divide and control our communities.

But my APOC friend urged me to look closer, and I'm glad I did. I explored some news archives, and then, thanks to a comprehensive article in the most recent issue of Left Turn Magazine, I learned a lot more about the case. I'm now convinced Duanna Johnson's experience carries important lessons for liberation movements in the U.S. On the one hand, it exemplifies how radicals have failed to respond to violence aimed at oppressed people--particularly transgender people of color. At the same time, it points to the courage and resistance we can, and must, build to defeat this violence.

“We demand the repeal of all laws—federal, state, and local—that degrade and discriminate against undocumented individuals and that deny U.S. citizens their lawful rights. We demand that all human beings—with papers or without—be guaranteed access to work, housing, health care, education, legal protection, and other public benefits, as well as the right to organize.”

-The Repeal Coalition

The work that was happening this summer in Arizona and Phoenix, specifically, inspired me to become a part of a proactive movement. Pete and Luis’s piece, “The Political Situation in Arizona,” sparked my desire to come and do work here. “…The political terrain across the state is shifting, and the new rifts within the political class represent a ripe political moment’s emergence. It is these new possibilities, and the rapidity with which the situation is moving, that indicate the value and importance of Arizona right now.” I wanted to help be a part of something that was moving and that I felt was strategic.

By Becca and Ceci, Phoenix

We put our fists up in solidarity with the 200-plus inmates who are paraded in shackles and chains towards “Tent City” on February 4th, as Maricopa County (Phoenix) Sheriff Joe Arpaio demonstrated his most recent attack against our brothers, fathers, cousins, friends, our community. It didn’t matter how much the Sheriff’s deputies wanted to uphold their rule of law with their guns, their men, their force; fists were in the air on both sides of their invisible line. We stood there as we tried to hold our composure and loudly expressed, “Estamos Unidos” because in this moment of helplessness we felt it was the most we could do.

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