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Runaway Equality and COVID-19

By Les Leopold - Runaway Equality, August 2, 2020

Les Leopold looks at the runaway inequality roots of the pandemic response and police brutality.

Defending Tomorrow: The climate crisis and threats against land and environmental defenders

By staff - Global Witness, July 2020

For years, land and environmental defenders have been the first line of defence against climate breakdown. Yet despite clearer evidence than ever of the crucial role they play, far too many businesses, financiers and governments fail to safeguard their vital and peaceful work. 

The climate crisis is arguably the greatest global and existential threat we face. As it escalates, it serves to exacerbate many of the other serious problems in our world today – from economic inequality to racial injustice and the spread of zoonotic diseases.

For years, land and environmental defenders have been the first line of defence against the causes and impacts of climate breakdown. Time after time, they have challenged those companies operating recklessly, rampaging unhampered through forests, skies, wetlands, oceans and biodiversity hotspots.

Yet despite clearer evidence than ever of the crucial role they play and the dangers they increasingly face, far too many businesses, financiers and governments fail to safeguard their vital and peaceful work. 

Our annual report into the killings of land and environmental defenders in 2019 shows the highest number yet have been murdered in a single year. 212 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2019 – an average of more than four people a week.

Read the text (PDF).

Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire

By Cara Daggett - SagePub, June 20, 2018

Global warming poses a problem for fossil fuel systems and those who profit from them; leaving fossil fuels in the ground likely means leaving trillions of dollars of profit in the ground. Vast networks of privilege that are sustained by fossil economies are likewise threatened. As Jairus Grove reflects, ‘environmental justice will require unequal roles: significantly constraining, even repressing, the powers of the Eurocene’. Similarly, the ‘Planet Politics Manifesto’ reminds us that ‘the planet is telling us that there are limits to human freedom; there are freedoms and political choices we can no longer have’.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the amount of money and privilege at stake, the tragic ethos demanded by global environmental justice is being resisted. Those regions that have emitted the most carbon dioxide are positioning themselves to profit from a warming earth by advancing a militarised and corporatised version of climate security. The result, as Christian Parenti foresees it, is the likelihood of a ‘politics of the armed lifeboat’, given that, already,

the North is responding with a new authoritarianism. The Pentagon and its European allies are actively planning a militarized adaptation, which emphasizes the long-term, open-ended containment of failed or failing states – counter-insurgency forever. This sort of ‘climate fascism’ – a politics based on exclusion, segregation and repression – is horrific and bound to fail.

‘Climate fascism’, with its camps, barbed wire and police omnipresence, is a likely outcome of climate (in)security.

A nascent fossil fascism is already evident in the wake of the 2016 election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and the conservative capture of the US Congress. In a short time, the Trump Administration and the Republican Party have shored up fossil
fuel systems by denying climate change and dismantling a host of environmental policies including: withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, installing a climate denier (Scott Pruitt) to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, taking steps to kill the Clean
Power Plan, weakening the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, lifting a moratorium on new coal leases on federal land, ending a study on the health effects of mountaintop coal removal, and moving to open nearly all US coastal waters to offshore drilling for oil.

Climate denial obviously serves fossil-fuelled capitalist interests. However, coal and oil do more than ensure profit and fuel consumption-heavy lifestyles. If people cling so tenaciously to fossil fuels, even to the point of embarking upon authoritarianism, it is
because fossil fuels also secure cultural meaning and political subjectivities. Since the new imperialism of the 19th century, fossil fuels have become the metaphorical, material, and sociotechnical basis of Western petrocultures that extend across the planet.

In other words, fossil fuels matter to new authoritarian movements in the West because of profits and consumer lifestyles, but also because privileged subjectivities are oil-soaked and coal-dusted. It is no coincidence that white, conservative American men – regardless of class – appear to be among the most vociferous climate deniers, as well as leading fossil fuel proponents in the West.

Read the text (Link).

Berta Is Dead, But The Movement She Started Lives

By Beverly Bell - Global Justice Ecology Project, April 5, 2017

The Convergence of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has defied all efforts over the past year, by the Honduran government and the DESA dam company, to destroy it. This past Monday, March 27, 24 years after Berta Cáceres cofounded the Lenca indigenous organization, COPINH hosted an anniversary celebration of rebellion and recommitment.

About 150 people from throughout Honduras and at least five other countries joined for a Lenca ceremony; a forum on challenges and advances; a concert; a film festival; and a humble feast of roasted pig, rice, tortillas, and birthday cake. The event closed late at night with an open-air performance of “Ancestras”, a new play by the Teatro Taller Tegucigalpa (Tegucigalpa Theater Workshop) about COPINH’s fight to defend the Gualcarque River, and structural injustice by the government and oligarchy.

COPNH has not only survived, it continues to serve as a source of inspiration for indigenous and other movements throughout Honduras and the world. As with Berta Cáceres’ life work, COPINH’s goes far beyond environmental defense. Its aim is to transform the political, economic, and environmental landscape of Honduras, and – in conjunction with movements elsewhere – of the world.

Gustavo Castro Soto, the director of Friends of the Earth-Mexico and Otros Mundos who was shot and almost killed in Cáceres’ home the night she was assassinated, said, “The death of Berta has not been the death of the struggle. On the contrary, it’s been a wake-up call.”

Corporate Stockholm Syndrome

By James Ullrich, from the Modern Time Crunch - reprinted in Pyschology Today, March 14, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A phenomenon called “Corporate Stockholm Syndrome” is being observed more and more often in individuals who have experienced workplace trauma, and the concept is beginning to filter into the clinical awareness. This problem deserves some articulation.

Stockholm Syndrome refers to the psychological phenomenon often observed in hostage situations where the hostages start to identify with (and sympathize with) their captor, even though mistreated. The captor controls the life source (food, water, shelter, etc.) of the captive, and punishment/reward is received from the same source: the captor.

Because so much of our self-worth in modern times is defined and derived by work, we are at risk for experiencing Corporate Stockholm Syndrome when put into a certain work environment for long enough. Corporate Stockholm Syndrome can be defined as employees of a business beginning to identify with—and being deeply loyal to—an employer who mistreats them (defined in this situation as verbal abuse, demanding overly long hours, and generally ignoring the wellbeing and emotional needs of the employee). As with the captor/captive dynamic, the employer is certainly in control of the employee’s fate (they sign the much-needed paycheck and generally can terminate employment at any time).

The employee experiencing Corporate Stockholm Syndrome typically displays a tendency to become emotionally attached to the company to the detriment of their own emotional health. The employee will also rationalize to themselves and to others the employer’s poor treatment of them as necessary for the good of the organization as a whole, and angrily defend the employer’s actions when those actions are questioned by an outsider. In other words, denial of the obvious.

The company culture in which Corporate Stockholm Syndrome thrives will have certain traits. It will often tolerate—in fact implicitly encourage—employees to verbally abuse each other when someone isn’t seen as working hard enough or not being a “team player”. The inculcation of the “company culture” is viewed as significantly important by the management. This is aimed at cultivating loyalty to the company while it has no similar loyalty to the emotional wellbeing of the employees.

There will be the occasional company-provided perks, of course, but these will be manipulative by design; a key aspect of inducing Stockholm Syndrome is the more powerful party providing both threats and kindness to the less powerful party. When these come from the same source, the psychological welfare of the lesser party can be more easily controlled.

The worker experiencing these symptoms is at risk for significant emotional trauma. Spending one's days under psychological pressure in such an environment is inherently unhealthy. Moreover, it is unhealthy for that worker’s friends and family members who will inevitably find themselves on the receiving end of misdirected anger, which must find a vent somewhere. Sadly this anger and its venting and usually finds the least powerful and least culpable target.

Breaking the cycle is hard, particularly in a culture that prizes work and wealth over emotional health, but abusers do not deserve loyalty. Peace of mind is too valuable to sell for any price.

Is Professional Activism Getting in the Way of Real Change?

By Henia Belalia - www.alternet.org, November 1st, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

With budgets and voices so loud, professionals’ messages overshadow the call for uprisings coming from the trenches.

It’s disconcerting to find so few faces in the prominent ranks of the environmental movement that reflect the realities and experiences of those bearing the brunt of climate collapse. Estimates show that since 1990 more than 90% of natural disasters have occurred in poor countries and that, globally, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by air, soil and water pollution. Numbers also demonstrate that low-income households are hit the hardest by disasters, due to factors such as  poor infrastructure and economic instability.

Yet those making strategic decisions are sitting in air-conditioned board rooms, hoping their conversations will pave the way for profound systemic change. Those most impacted by socioeconomic ills and environmental degradation are rarely present at those tables. This disconnect is quite alarming. Those of us frustrated with this scenario have turned to a deeper analysis and framework over the last decade— that of climate justice. Defining climage justice is a work in progress; honoring and integrating it are  lifelong struggles.

To tackle the root (read: radical) causes of the climate crisis, we must first acknowledge that environmental degradation exacerbates existing economic, racial and social injustices—an  interconnectedness that should define our analysis and actions. To truly win, land and justice defenders must recognize overlapping systems of oppression within this capitalist structure, and take strategic cues from the communities most impacted by colonization, militarism and poverty. That means building movements across issues and beyond divides based on race, class and gender, while elevating the voices that have been historically marginalized: indigenous peoples, communities of color, women, LGBTQ people, and the low-income population. To do so will take a profound decolonization of minds and professional institutions.

How We Struggle: A Response to Ongoing Patriarchal Violence in the IWW

By the Patriarchy Resistance Committee of the Portland GMB - October 9th, 2013

To our Fellow Workers:

The Patriarchy Resistance Committee (PRC) of the Portland GMB has recently been notified of multiple instances of misogyny and sexual assault that have occurred within branches of the IWW. We write today to condemn these acts of violence and to encourage FWs around the world to actively resist misogynist and patriarchal behavior in all of its forms.

Why I Hate The Government

By Judi Bari - Industrial Worker, October 1991.

I hate the government, and I've never had any faith in working through the system. My 20 years of political activism have all been out on the front linesfrom anti-war riots to wildcat strikes to Earth First! logging blockades. I know the history of violent repression of the Wobblies the Communists, the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement. But nothing in my knowledge or experience could have prepared me for the sheer horror of being bombed and maimed while organizing against big timber last year. And I never thought I would be doing something as grandiose and apparently ingenious as suing the FBI. But neither did I expect to find our movement under attack by a COINTELPRO-type operation led by Richard Held, the very same FBI/Gestapo agent who framed and jailed Leonard Pettier and Geronimo Pratt.

Richard Held is the head of the San Francisco FBI office. He is the agent in charge of my and Darryl's case, and he went on TV after the bombing to say that Darryl and I were the only suspects in the assassination attempt that nearly took my life. Held became notorious during the 1970s for his active role in COINTELPRO, an outrageous and illegal FBI program to disrupt and destroy any group that challenged the power that be. COINTELPRO's method was to foment internal discord in activist groups, isolate and discredit them, terrorize them, and assassinate their leaders. The best known example of this was Black Panther Fred Hampton, who was murdered by Chicago police in an FBI-planned assault as he slept in his bed in a Chicago apartment in 1969.

Richard Held's personal role in COINTELPRO began in L.A. in the early 1970s, where he ordered the FBI to draw and send insulting cartoons, supposedly from one faction to another in the L.A. Black Panthers. This heated up antagonisms between the factions so much that, with a little help from FBI infiltrators, they erupted into shooting wars that left two Panthers dead. Richard Held also sent fake info to the press to discredit actress and Panther supporter Jean Seberg, who eventually committed suicide as a result. Held's final coup in L.A. was to frame and jail Geronimo Pratt for supposedly murdering two people on a tennis court over a petty robbery.

Held was also on hand in Pine Ridge South Dakota in 1975 to help direct the FBI's reign of terror against the American Indian Movement. In this case the FBI took advantage of existing divisions in the native community to hook up with a vigilante group called GOONS, or Guardians of the Oglala Nation. These local thugs were armed by the FBI and guaranteed that they would not be prosecuted for crimes against AIM members. They attacked over 300 AIM people and killed 70 of them. The Pine Ridge campaign ended with a military sweep of the reservation by 200 SWAT agents, and with the framing and jailing of Leonard Peltier.

Another of Richard Held's accomplishments was in San Diego, where he was instrumental in organizing an FBI-funded right-wing paramilitary group called the Secret Army organization (SAO). The SAO kept tabs on leftists, burned down a community theater, and tried to assassinate a radical professor at San Diego State University.

In 1978 Richard Held was transferred to Puerto Rico where he oversaw the execution of two Independista leaders who were made to kneel, then shot in the head. Held stayed on until 1985, when he stage managed an island-wide SWAT assault by 300 agents who busted in doors and rounded up activists.

For all his good work, Richard Held was then promoted to be in charge of the San Francisco FBI, where he still works today. And I don't know if the FBI put that bomb in my car, but I know for certain that they tried to frame me for it and made sure the real bomber wasn't found. Looking back on the bizarre events that took place around the bombing, it is now clear that the techniques of COINTELPRO were being used against us. What is not clear, based on the way this story has played in the mainstream press, is what we were doing to merit the wrath of such a notorious assassin as Richard Held. You can be sure that it was more than just trying to save some pretty trees.

Community Under Siege

Speech given by Judi Bari at the Cinco de Mayo/May 5th gathering in Booneville, California. Footnotes added by Jym Dyer - republished in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, May 8, 1991

I came of age during the Vietnam era, and I’ve known for a long time that the system is enforced by violence. Some of my earliest political experiences were of 20-year-old national guardsmen beating my 18-year-old non-violent friends senseless and bloody. I didn’t think I had any delusions about how thin the veneer of civility is in this country. But I have to admit that I was totally unprepared for the sheer horror of being bombed and maimed while organizing for Redwood Summer last year.

The bombing represented the end of innocence for our movement. Sure, we had seen violence before, but this was different. The logger who broke Mem Hill’s nose, the log truck driver who ran me off the road — themselves victims of the timber industry — in the heat of the moment, took their anger out on us. But whoever put that bomb in my car was a cold and premeditated killer. And the FBI’s attempt to frame me and Darryl [Cherney] for the bombing made us realize what we are up against. Not only are they willing to use lethal force to protect their “right” to level whole ecosystems for private profit, they are also backed by the full power of the government’s secret police.

The man in charge of my and Darryl’s case at the FBI is Richard W. Held, chief of the San Francisco office. He went on TV last summer to say that Darryl and I were the only suspects in the bomb attack that nearly took my life. Richard Held became notorious in the 1970’s for his active role in COINTELPRO, an outrageous and illegal FBI program to disrupt and destroy any group that challenged the powers-that-be.

COINTELPRO’s method was to foment internal discord in activist groups, isolate and discredit them, terrorize them, and assassinate their leaders. The best known example of this was Black Panther Fred Hampton, who was murdered by the FBI as he slept in his bed in a Chicago apartment in 1969. And there were many, many others.

But back to Richard Held, the man in charge of my bombing case. His personal role in COINTELPRO began in the early 70’s in Los Angeles, where he ordered insulting cartoons to be drawn and sent, supposedly from one faction to another, among the L.A. Black Panthers. This heated up antagonisms between the factions so much that, with a little help from FBI infiltrators, they erupted into shooting wars that left two Panthers dead.

Held was also on hand in Pine Ridge, South Dakota in 1975 to help direct the FBI’s reign of terror against the American Indian Movement (AIM). In this case the FBI took advantage of existing divisions in the native community to hook up with a vigilante groups called GOONS, or Guardians of the Oglala Nation. These local thugs were armed by the FBI and guaranteed that they would not be prosecuted for crimes against AIM members. They attacked over 300 AIM people and killed 70 of them. Not one of these crimes was solved because, said the FBI, they “didn’t have enough manpower.” The Pine Ridge campaign ended with a military sweep of the reservation by 200 SWAT trained agents, and with the framing and jailing of Leonard Peltier.

The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Domestic Dissent (Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall)

By Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall - South End Press, 1990

The FBI documents collected in this book offer a unique window into the inner workings of the U.S. political police. They expose the secret, systematic, and sometimes savage use of force and fraud, by all levels of government, to sabotage progressive political activity supposedly protected by the U.S. constitution. They reveal ongoing, country-wide CIA-style covert action - infiltration, psychological warfare, legal harassment, and violence - against a very broad range of domestic dissidents. While prodding us to re-evaluate U.S. democracy and to rethink our understanding of recent U.S. history, these documents can help us to protect our movements from future government attack.

This is the final volume of what amounts to a South End Press trilogy on domestic covert action. Ward Churchill's and Jim Vander Wall's Agents of Repression' details the FBI's secret war on the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. My War at Home shows that such covert operations have become a per-manent feature of U.S. politics. It analyzes the specific methods used against progressive activists and opens a discussion of how to respond.

Now Churchill and Vander Wall have reproduced many of the FBI files on which our books are based. Some of these documents illustrate recent FBI cam-paigns against the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). Others reveal early attacks on Marcus Garvey (1920s) and Alger Hiss (1950s). The bulk are from the counterintel-ligence programs (COINTELPROs) that the FBI mounted to "disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize" the civil rights, black liberation, Puerto Rican independence, anti-war and student movements of the 1960s.

Download (PDF).

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

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The Fine Print II:

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