by Raider Nation Collective ( raidernationcollective [at] gmail.com )
Monday Apr 13th, 2009 3:40 PM
In short, there are those who are automatically guilty and those who are automatically innocent, those who are automatically heroes and, to use a term frequently applied to Lovelle Mixon in recent days, those who are automatically “monsters.”
The Ambivalent Silences of the Left:
Lovelle Mixon, Police, and the Politics of Race/Rape
RAIDER NATION COLLECTIVE
We began discussing this on a day dripping with hypocrisy. Local Fox affiliate KTVU is among many television channels broadcasting live and in its entirety the funeral for four Oakland Police officers who were killed in a pair of shooting incidents a week ago. News anchors speak at length, and with little regard to journalistic objectivity (a commodity which, dubious in general, disintegrates entirely in times such as these) about the lives of these “heroes,” these “angels,” and the families they leave behind. Trust funds for fatherless children are established, their existence trumpeted loudly at 6 and 11; one can only assume with such publicity that donations are rolling in. There is not a dry eye in the house, it would appear: the “community” has rallied around its fallen saviors.
We run this piece in the hopes, again, that it can contribute to a debate on revolutionary organization and strategy in the here and now. If you are Alonzo Alcanzar, send us an e-mail, the editorial committee of this webpage would love to chat.
The original can be read at:
On Radical-Leftist Strategy
Propositions for Discussion
Alonzo Alcanzar in LinksNet.de
1. The party’s over. The great bubble of phantom assets has burst and the bill is coming due. The heroes of capital have pronounced themselves ready... to pass the pain onto others. The poorest – billions globally – will suffer most. But even in the Global North, the squeeze now beginning looks to be deep and general. Will the economic crisis turn into a real legitimation crisis? Will the rage yield the conclusion, that capitalism fails us? If events are vindicating the anti-capitalist movement, what will the movement be able to do about it? Where is the organized counter-power ready to act in this crisis? How will the movement of movements clarify and decide what to do? In fact, both agency and strategy are missing. The movement seems rather to have put its faith in directionless resistance, in beautiful tropes of flight and exodus. It cherished the fine hope of changing the world without taking power. But what if it has fooled itself, in these decades? What if this politics of expression and invention and the refusal of power, fine as it is, is not a pathway out of capitalism? What if power and effective direction are the conditions of successful struggle? What if the organization of agency and strategy are indispensable? Is it time for a reality check?
2. The party’s over: the vanguard parties are gone, and hardly anyone wants them back. Yet gone with them is the strategic focus of a whole revolutionary tradition. Orthodoxy finds few friends today. But the serious critique of orthodoxy would still seek to rescue the moments of truth that may be in it. To think the strategic deficit of this moment, to ask what a pathway out of capitalism could possibly mean and what it would practically entail, is to gain a renewed appreciation for the Marxist tradition – for its organization of collective experience and intelligence. Even to ask what went wrong, to inquire seriously into the defeats of the last century, is to come into contact with the core of truth in this tradition – a truth that survives its notorious disputes and splits, its terrible lapses and corruptions. Revolution is not just around the next corner. But it is necessary to ask, why isn’t it?
By Sam Stoker
Annie Johnson is still haunted by the shooting death of her son a year after the fact. Adding to the pain of her loss is the fact that the gun was wielded by a police officer—and that the community says the officer brutally struck him down.
From Oakland to Santa Rita, the Struggle Continues
By George Ciccariello-Maher
Efforts at the moderation and cooptation of the Oscar Grant movement had failed in the face of revolutionary pressure and state weakness. The various radical organizations that dot the Oakland landscape had slipped the yoke of the official organizations with links to Mayor Dellums’ campaign and enmeshed in the non-profit industrial complex. The place was the historic Black Dot Café in West Oakland; the event, a “Town Bizness” town hall meeting hosted by the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (POCC) with the presence of Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. and a number of others, former and current Black Panthers included. “This ain’t like the other town halls where a preacher talks for three hours,” said POCC Minister of Information JR by way of introduction, in oblique reference to the weekly meetings held at Olivet Baptist Church.
Arrest and Containment Fail to Blunt Anger in the Streets
By George Ciccariello-Maher
Oakland. January 16, 2009.
Writing in the context of the Algerian Revolution, Frantz Fanon was a merciless critic of the moderating efforts of self-appointed political leaders. When confronted with mass rebellion, such leaders will immediately use the threat of violence as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the oppressors, promising to pacify the masses if reforms are made. As Fanon describes it in The Wretched of the Earth,
Nonviolence is an attempt to settle the colonial problem around the negotiating table before the irreparable is done… But the masses, without waiting for the chairs to be placed around the negotiating table, listen to their own voice and begin committing outrages and setting fire to buildings…
Of course, between colonial Algeria and postindustrial Oakland, there are undeniable differences.
We're publishing the two pieces below, in their lengthy entirety, because we believe that they pose important proposals and challenges for a revolutionary response to the current crisis. Although there are significant disagreements between the pieces, we believe they are important because they both attempt to map out strategic focus for left forces at this time.
From Kali Akuno's Navigating the Storm (http://navigatingthestorm.blogspot.com/)
Barack Hussein Obama by most indications will become the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, despite the massive voter disenfranchisement that is and will be committed by the Republicans and other extreme right forces. It is the position of this author that Obama’s victory, combined with what will perhaps be the worst economic depression since the 1930’s, will result in an extreme polarization of society fundamentally along lines of ideology and national identity. As revolutionaries we know that not all social polarization is negative or undesired. However, given the extreme balance of forces in the United States in favor of the forces of white supremacy, imperialism, and uninhibited capitalism this polarization will be extremely dangerous and deadly, particularly for New Afrikans and other oppressed peoples (i.e. First Nations, Xicanos, Latinos, Arabs, immigrants, etc.). In fact, I believe it is safe to say, without exaggeration, that the specter of fascism now truly haunts the social structure of the United States (in part premised on the full spectrum national security state built by the Bush regime over the last 8 years).
This racist and completely retrogressive social development by all means must be fought and defeated. Revolutionaries in the United States will not have the luxury of engaging in half measures the next four years and beyond. We are going to have to act and act with the revolutionary understanding and conviction that what we do matters. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time to get our act together as neither time nor conditions are favorably on our side. But, try we must.
From Don Hamerquist's response:
The left is going to have to organize itself, not the working class or the ‘people’. One of the French post structuralists noted that the question isn’t so much why the masses don’t rebel against power as it is why they internalize that power relationship and enforce their own subordination and misery on themselves. At moments of crisis such as we are entering, this internalized acceptance of subordination will break at many points and masses of people will start to think and act in ways that would have seemed irrational to them a short time before. The role of the left is to recognize these elements of epistemological break and attempt to generalize them and incorporate them into an anti-capitalist social bloc. To accomplish this, the left must learn for itself what is to be done and how to do it, before presuming to educate others on these questions.
by George Ciccariello-Maher
In 1968, Amory Bradford penned a volume entitled Oakland’s Not For Burning,documenting the tinderbox that the city had become, and the lamenting the inevitability with which it would explode. But the assertion contained in the book’s title was hardly credible, coming as it was from a Yale-educated former Wall Street lawyer and New York Times general manager whose only business in Oakland came via the U.S. Commerce Department. Some forty years later, in the early hours of this year of ostensible hope, the reality of the persistence of racism in Oakland became devastatingly clear, sparking a powerful response the likes of which this city hasn’t seen in years. But luckily, the condescending voices of moderation, like that of Bradford a generation prior, seem have little traction with those who have seen enough police murder.
A New Year’s Execution
After responding to reports of “a fight” on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train, BART police detained the train at the Fruitvale station, forcibly removing several young men from the train as dozens of bystanders watched. Several of the men, all young and mostly black, were lined up, seated, along the platform. Some were cuffed, Oscar Grant was not. As he was attempting to defuse the situation, BART police decided to detain him, placing him face-down on the platform, with one officer kneeling near his neck, and another straddling his legs. For some still unexplained reason, one officer, now identified as Johannes Mehserle stood up, pulled his gun, and fired a shot directly into Oscar Grant’s back.
The bullet went through Grant’s back, ricocheting off the platform and puncturing his lung. There are gasps from the bystanders and shock on the face of the other officers, who clearly didn’t expect the shot to be fired. Grant, who was begging not to be Tasered at the time of the shot, clearly didn’t expect it either. But this surprise notwithstanding, the decision was then made to cuff the young man as he lay dying. As an added precaution, BART police then sought immediately to confiscate all videophones held by the train passengers, in an effort to cover up the murder. Luckily for everyone but the BART P.D. and Mehserle, several videos managed to make it into the public domain, where they went viral and were viewed on Youtube hundreds of thousands of times in the following days. In a rare show of journalistic integrity, local Fox affiliate KTVU aired one of the videos in its entirety.
The standard protocol---deny, distort, cover-up---had clearly been disrupted, and BART spokesman Linton Johnson even went so far as to criticize the leaking of the video, arguing that rather than clarifying events, public access to the video would “taint” the investigation. BART was on a back foot, and popular anger was on the offensive.
By the Time I Get to Arizona
By George Cicciarello-Maher
Much has been eclipsed in the post-election euphoria, not least of which is the continuity of racist violence in the United States. The election of Barack Obama notwithstanding, the black population still bears the overwhelming brunt of this violence, in its systematic and informal guises, in prisons and on the streets, and with the far-right gearing up we can expect more of the same. But with new dynamics, political and geopolitical, come new violences, and we have seen in recent years a steady increase in anti-Latino or anti-immigrant violence alongside a notable spike after September 11th in anti-“Arab” violence.
By Daniel Gross
The corporations got sloppy. From the hedge-fund parasites to the housing market fraudsters, the corporate criminals have shown their hand. Their filthy fingerprints are all over the economic pain blanketing the country and the world.
To add insult to injury, the corporate agents in government, also known as politicians, are looting incomprehensible billions of dollars to turn over to the fat-cat executives.
Working families have long known the pain of stagnant wages, steep rents, and unaffordable heath care and education in the United States. But there’s no doubt that this recession has squeezed the vise beyond what many of us have seen in our lifetimes.
What’s invigorating and critically important though is the rising awareness that corporations are to blame for the current calamity, and that this crisis is not merely, “a force of nature.” Working people across the country are pointing the blame where it belongs. The elites understand this rising public awareness of corporate wrongdoing as well. How else to explain President George W. Bush feeling obligated to give a speech last month in New York defending capitalism itself?
The following is a video of a talk given by Loren Goldner. We believe it to be relevant to today's global economic crisis. -Editors