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Murray Bookchin and the Kurdish resistance

Joris Leverink - RoarMag.Org, August 9, 2015

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.

The introduction to the new book The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy (Verso, 2015), explains how Murray Bookchin – born to Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City in 1921 – was introduced to radical politics at the age of nine when he joined the Young Pioneers, a Communist youth organization. This would be the start of his ‘life on the left’ in which he would turn from Stalinism to Trotskyism in the years running up to World War II before defining himself as an anarchist in the late 1950s and eventually identifying as a ‘communalist’ or ‘libertarian municipalist’ after the introduction of the idea of social ecology.

Even though Bookchin never even attended college – except for a few classes in radio technology right after World War II – he wrote dozens of books and published hundreds of academic articles, besides founding several journals and setting up the Institute for Social Ecology in 1974. Possibly his most important contribution to radical politics was to (re)introduce the concept of ecology to the arena of political thought.

Bookchin opposed the ideas and practices of the emerging environmentalist movements, accusing them of advocating mere “technical fixes” of capitalism, counter-posing it to an ecological approach that seeks to address the root causes of the systemic problem. In his view, capitalism’s fatal flaw lay not in its exploitation of the working class, as Marxists believe, but rather in its conflict with the natural environment which, if allowed to develop unopposed, would inevitably lead to the dehumanization of people and the destruction of nature.

The Next Revolution includes the 1992 essay The Ecological Crisis and the Need to Remake Society. In it, Bookchin argues that “the most fundamental message that social ecology advances is that the very idea of dominating nature stems from the domination of human by human.” For an ecological society to develop, first the inter-human domination must be eradicated. According to Bookchin, “capitalism and its alter-ego, ‘state socialism,’ have brought all the historic problems of domination to a head,” and the market economy, if it is not stopped, will succeed in destroying our natural environment as a result of its “grow or die” ideology.

For years, Bookchin sought to convince anarchist groups in the US that his idea of libertarian municipalism — which, in his own words “seeks to reclaim the public sphere for the exercise of authentic citizenship while breaking away from the bleak cycle of parliamentarism and its mystification of the ‘party’ mechanism as a means for public representation” — was the key to making anarchism politically and socially relevant again.

Our Perspectives and Tasks on the Revolution in Rojava

By Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra - Black Rose Anarchist Federation, August 4, 2015

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.

#Rojava #Kobane #internationalsolidarity

As revolutionaries in North America we would like to outline the foundations of our political perspective as well as how we as an organization have agreed to relate the recent events and the struggle underway in Rojava in the Middle East.

Our Perspective

The Rojava Revolution has probably made more concrete progress towards libertarian socialism than any other large-scale struggle at least since the Zapatista insurrection. For this reason alone it is important to engage with this struggle to support the most revolutionary elements of it and to hold it up as an international example of what the self-activity of the popular classes can accomplish.

While we have many questions about the overall political ideology of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) (which would need to be addressed in a separate and longer article), the specific project of democratic confederalism (which is only one part of their political vision for “democratic modernity” and the reorganization of society) has set the popular classes of Kurdistan in motion, constructing autonomous alternatives to capitalism, oppression and the state. In Rojava, and in some cases also in Bakur (north Kurdistan) when state repression doesn’t forbid it, workers’ cooperatives are being formed, land is being collectivized, women’s collectives are spreading, neighborhood assemblies are taking on power, restorative justice is replacing the court system, a democratic militia is defending the region, and other aspects of self-governance are being organized. This is not all that there is to this struggle – much of the land and capital is intended to remain in private hands, the PYD has created a new minimal state instead of abolishing the state, forced conscription has occasionally been implemented, PYD politicians have been lobbying western countries, foreign corporate investment is pursued, etc. But despite much remaining vagueness about the exact details of what’s happening on the ground (even among those who have been to Rojava), it is clear that much of the popular classes in Kurdistan are engaged in a revolutionary process that we should support. It is also clear that since a democratic revolution is based on the will of the people, it will only be through the long-term political education and organizing work among the popular classes of Rojava that the revolution will generalize beyond the current active minority and continue to take shape. We believe that we have a responsibility to both contribute to that process and to learn from it.

Statement on the Recent Massacre in Suruc, Turkey

Press Release - Black Rose Anarchist Federation, July 20, 2015

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.

#‎Rojava‬ ‪#‎SurucBomb‬ ‪#‎SuruçtaKatliamVar

Today we mourn the loss of friends and comrades and renewing our commitment to an international revolutionary struggle in their memory.

At noon, in the border town of Suruç in Turkish Kurdistan, a bomb ripped through the bodies of communists, socialists, and anarchists who were on their way to assist in the rebuilding of Kobane. Tens of people were killed, many more injured. One Black Rose member was present assisting in preparations for a campaign to support the rebuilding of Kobane and Rojava, but was uninjured in the blast.

A half an hour after the bombing, the city of Suruc shook once more as a second massive bomb hit the border in Kobane. News reports indicate that this was a car bomb attack that was stopped by self-defense forces which minimized causalties.

The trip to Kobane was organized by the Marxist-Leninist organization Sosyalist Gençlik Dernekleri Federasyonunun (SGDF). They brought together youth–entire families–from across Turkey and beyond to give revolutionary support to the developing social revolution in Syrian Kurdistan. Up to 300 people were preparing to cross the embargoed border to help rebuild the city, learn about its political developments, and link the struggles of the Turkish left with the Kurdish movement.

After the bombing, the first to respond was armored military vehicles of the occupying Turkish state that rolled down the street in front of the Amara Cultural Center to block the street and point their guns at the recently injured and trauma-ridden revolutionaries. It took ambulances so long to arrive on the scene that private cars had to be organized to take the injured to the hospital. The military and police were on the scene in minutes, managing to form a line of riot police before the first ambulances arrived. Their alertness should come as no surprise since they had been actively harassing the bus loads of revolutionaries coming to Suruc that morning, monitoring many of them, and had made calls to their families telling them that their young relative was going to join terrorists in Rojava.

This demonstrates the attitude of the state and is indicative of a sad reality: Turkey is continuing its murderous policy towards the Kurds and this attack can be seen as a fulfillment of Erdogan’s promise to stop Rojava by any means necessary. In the coming months, Black Rose will continue to broaden the scope in organizing committees and networks in solidarity with Rojava. We hope for your support.

Biji Rojava! Rojava Lives!

-International Secertary, Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra (BRRN)

Against Deep Green Resistance

By Michelle Renée Matisons and Alexander Reid Ross - Institute for Anarchist Studies, August 9, 2015

The Radical Turn?

For a book that advertises itself as a “shift in strategy and tactics,” Deep Green Resistance (DGR) has an overwhelmingly dispiriting tone, and is riddled with contradictions.[1] While DGR provocatively addresses many pressing social and ecological issues, its opportunistic, loose-cannon theoretical approach and highly controversial tactics leaves it emulating right-wing militia rhetoric, with the accompanying hierarchical vanguardism, personality cultism, and reactionary moralism. By providing a negative example, DGR does us the service of compounding issues into one book. Take it as a warning. As we grasp for solutions to multiple and compounding social and ecological crises, quick fixes, dogmatism, and power grabbing may grow as temptations. By reviewing DGR, we are also defending necessary minimal criteria for movements today: inclusivity, democracy, honesty, and (dare we suggest) even humility in the face of the complex problems we collectively face. None of these criteria can be found in DGR, and its own shortcomings are a telling lesson for us all.

It is instructive that the group based on DGR has become geared almost exclusively to outreach, not unlike a book club. At certain times, they claim to forbid their members from participating in illegal activity after having attempted a short-lived attempt to generate a grassroots, direct action network. At other times, DGR members claim to be involved in nonviolent civil disobedience. The ambiguity of their attempt at organization stems from the muddled ideas of two of the book’s authors, Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith, who forced out the main organizer, Premadasi Amada, as well as their other co-author, Aric McBay, over the question of inclusive gender policies.[2]

DGR’s organizational body (distinct from the book, but modeled after it) leads us to agree that they have been rightly accused by former members of acting like a cult rather than as part of a larger movement. They seem much more interested in lionizing their leadership than in taking direct action.[3]

DGR’s approach is purely ideological; they intend not to form their own groups or cells to carry out direct action, but to teach the need for direct action to the supposedly ignorant masses. Such an attitude of approaching from above, rather than joining in solidarity, is degrading to peoples’ ability to self-organize. We must equally lead and be led by engaging in struggle, not standing outside of it. Our ultimate conclusion is that DGR’s goal of “civilization’s” destruction through “underground” attacks against infrastructure manifests both an ideological and strategic misdirection, foreclosing the potential for participatory democracy and direct action as it veers into intellectual dishonesty and irreconcilable political contradictions.

Eco-Syndicalism

By Nick Djinn Kappos - May 16, 2015

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.

As a very ecologically minded Syndicalist, I am sympathetic to and often supportive of some of the Green and Primitivist value systems. The condition that we leave the earth in is the single most important issue facing humanity, even before egalitarian social relations and economic equality/abundance....which I also consider very important. Future generations are not going to congratulate us for acquiring great wealth and status if we leave them a toxic wasteland where they are struggling to find clean water and survive.

That said....I don't think humanity will move backwards without destroying itself. The masses will not voluntarily give up their comforts, especially in a controlled consumer environment where they control the access to food and water. People will consume what is fed to them, since the alternative inside of cities is starvation. People fortunate enough to have yards or sunlit space can grow more of their own food and we can have community gardens....total sustainability is something only the dedicated few will strive for. You could spend your whole life trying to prepare for an ecological collapse, only to find that you are not protected from drought or toxic rain as the rest of the population keeps fucking the place up. I do think that there are advantages to having autonomous communities that live closer to the land and each other. I feel like we could accomplish more to change things by being involved with the rest of society, perhaps building experimental communities just outside of smaller University towns.

Without access to technology we will not be able to put up much of a fight. They just roll over and destroy indigenous communities who lack the tools to fight back. Even just having internet and CB radio would give communities the opportunity to call for help and let the world know what is happening. Technology might be the death of us, but I also think we have an opportunity to do it better.

I won't really consider ourselves to be an evolved or enlightened society until we can produce everything we need sustainably, thinking 7 (or more) generations ahead. Cities that are too densely populated to provide their own food and water locally will inherently adopt exploitative and imperialist agendas. To maintain the import of resources and the export of waste, we must necessarily dominate and exploit the surrounding areas or foreign lands. There is no way around this until we reach a point where we can sustainably produce our own food and water and material goods locally without poisoning ourselves. We can't continue to poison our oceans, clear cut our forests, strip mind our hillsides, and not have it bite us in the ass later....probably as our children are growing up.

Consumer choice isn't really much of a choice. You are either going to pay 3x as much for some eco-friendly products that you can only afford if you are wealthy, or you are going to buy all the same crap that the corporations provide to everyone else. If a few people escape the city, the masses of people will still be stuck and continue to perpetuate the system. The only way out of this that I can personally see, short of killing ourselves, is to put the means of production back into the hands of the people while guiding and encouraging a trend towards sustainability and egalitarian social relationships. If we produced for our own communities as local communities, we could make better and more ethical decisions than would be made by mega-corporations who only care about the bottom line and do not have to live inside of the conditions they create.

I think we should acquire and control our own technology and render the old powers obsolete...and while keeping our sustainable technology, I think we should plant a lot more trees and make our living environment greener, with an emphasis on fruit bearing plants and trees that are freely available to the entire community. I think we could live better if we lived in smaller well networked pod-communities where you could easily walk to most of the places you would need to visit in a day. I envision lite rail systems that connect communities, made in a way that does not cut eco-systems in half. I think we could use a combination of common earth elements and plant resins and fibers for our building materials, instead of cutting down forests. I think we should keep the internet and make it free for everyone to access, and utilize that technology to network local communities with the larger society, and individuals with each other. I think we should get to a point where we can produce everything we need locally without reliance on imports shipped halfway across the world. I think we can reduce our need for cars and traffic, while still having a few vehicles for specialty purposes. You just wouldn't require one to do everything you need to do in a day. I think that if we are not packed like sardines into cities and if we have access to the land and means of production, that we can easily produce more than enough food for everyone and then some. I think we could easily house everyone for a lot less than we are all paying in rent if we abolished the banks and landlord control of our living areas. I think we could realistically aim for a 12 hour work week in our lifetime, and build our communities for social interaction instead of mass consumerism. I think we could have fewer stores and less pavement, and still be able to affordably produce every consumer item we would ever need.

All of these things are possible, but they will never be given to us unless we create it for ourselves.

Why the Climate Change Movement Must Demand Energy Industry Nationalization

By Bruce Lesnick - Truthout, Op-Ed, March 27, 2015, reprinted by permission, © truthout 2015

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.

"All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come."
- Victor Hugo

Ever since scientists discovered a runaway greenhouse effect on our nearest planetary neighbor, Venus, we've known that climate Armageddon is a possibility. Even though Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth, Venus' thick cloud layer permits only one-sixth as much sunlight to reach the planet's surface. And while Mercury is nearly twice as close to the Sun as Venus, the surface on Venus is 10 percent hotter, measuring more than 864 degrees Fahrenheit. Why is Venus so hot? Its atmosphere is 97 percent carbon dioxide.

We know that human activities are adversely affecting Earth's climate. Scientists began to draw our attention to the link between fossil fuels, greenhouse gases and climate in the 1980s. Since then, the evidence for anthropogenic climate change has become overwhelming.

All that's left to debate is what to do about it.

Under the current setup, energy conglomerates that owe their fortunes to fossil fuels have every incentive to dismiss global warming and to cast aspersions on climate change research. The top five oil companies (BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell) reported combined profits of $93 billion for 2013. That's more than the discretionary US budget that year for health, human services, Medicare and Medicaid ($80.6 billion). It's more than 10 times the federal budget for environmental protection ($9.2 billion). The more coal, oil and natural gas that get burned, the more the climate is thrown out of whack, and the more these companies are rewarded financially.

If you give a dog a piece of meat every time it bites someone, it could reasonably be argued that you are encouraging this dangerous and irresponsible behavior. In light of environmental necessity, we might beseech the energy companies to behave responsibly, but they are guaranteed to ignore us. Why? Because they earn large sums of money when they do so. A demand for reform of energy policy may be well framed and well founded, but it is wasted wind if the current setup, which so richly rewards all of the wrong behaviors, is allowed to persist.

If we're serious about addressing climate change, nationalization of the energy industry must become a central organizing demand.

A “Climate Movement Across the Movements”

By Patrick Bond - CounterPunch, March 31 2015

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.

Looming ahead in eight months’ time is another Conference of Polluters, or COP (technically, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The last twenty did zilch to save us from climate catastrophe. Judging by early rough drafts of the Paris COP21 agreement recently leaked, another UN fiasco is inevitable.

The ‘Coalition Climat21’ strategy meeting for Paris was held in Tunis on March 23-24, just before the World Social Forum. I had a momentary sense this could be a breakthrough gathering, if indeed fusions were now ripe to move local versions of ‘Blockadia’ – i.e. hundreds of courageous physical resistances to CO2 and methane emissions sources – towards a genuine global political project. The diverse climate activists present seemed ready for progressive ideology, analysis, strategy, tactics and alliances. Between 150 and 400 people jammed a university auditorium over the course of the two days, mixing French, English and Arabic.

It was far more promising than the last time people gathered for a European COP, in 2009 at Copenhagen, when the naivety of ‘Seal the Deal’ rhetoric from mainstream climate organisations proved debilitating. That was a narrative akin to drawing lemmings towards – and over – a cliff: first up the hill of raised expectations placed on UN negotiators, before crashing down into a despondency void lasting several years. Recall that leaders of the US, Brazil, South Africa, India and China did a backroom deal that sabotaged a binding emissions follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol. In ‘Hopenhagen,’ even phrases like ‘System change not climate change’ were co-opted, as green capital educated by NGO allies agreed that a definition of ‘system’ (e.g. from fossil fuels to nuclear) could be sufficiently malleable to meet their rhetorical needs.

That precedent notwithstanding, the phrase “A climate movement across the movements” used here seemed to justify an urgent unity of diverse climate activists, along with heightened attempts to draw in those who should be using climate in their own specific sectoral work. The two beautiful words ‘Climate Justice’ are on many lips but I suspect the cause of unity may either erase them from the final phraseology or water them down to nebulousness.

Red Innovation

By Tony Smith - Jacobin, Issue 17 - Ours to Master, Spring 2015

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.

The technological dynamism of capitalism has always been a powerful argument in its defense. But one of its secrets is that at the heart of this change we find neither bold entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, nor established firms.

Investments pushing the frontiers of scientific knowledge are just too risky. The advances sought may not be forthcoming. Those that do occur may not ever be commercially viable. Any potentially profitable results that do arise may take decades to make any money. And when they finally do, there are no guarantees initial investors will appropriate most of the resulting windfall.

There is, accordingly, a powerful tendency for private capital to systematically underinvest in long-term research and development. Despite popular perceptions that private entrepreneurs drive technological innovation, the leading regions of the global economy do not leave the most important stages of technological change to private investors. These costs are socialized.

In the quarter-century after World War II, the high profits garnered by American corporations due to their exceptional place in the world market allowed corporate labs to engage in “blue-skies research” projects. But even then, public funding accounted for roughly two-thirds of all research and development expenditures in the United States, creating the foundations for the high-tech sectors of today.

With the rise of competition from Japanese and European capital in the 1970s, private-sector funding of research and development increased. However, long-term projects were almost entirely abandoned in favor of product development and applied-research projects promising commercial advantages in the short-to-medium term.

Basic research continued to be funded by the government, like the work in molecular biology that supported the move of agribusiness companies into biotechnology. The same was true for projects of special interest to the Pentagon — the developments associated with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, for instance, which paved the way for modern global positioning systems — and other government agencies.

But medium-to-long-term R&D in general was in great danger of falling into a “valley of death” between basic research and immediate development, with neither the government nor private capital providing significant funding for it.

For all their rhetoric touting the “magic of the marketplace,” those in the Reagan administration recognized market failure when they saw it. They began to offer federal and publicly funded university laboratories various carrots and sticks to undertake long-term R&D for US capital.

The Battle to Control the 3D Printing Revolution: DIY or CIA?

By Eric Draitser - Truthout, March 23, 2015

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.

Scientific and technological innovations have the power to fundamentally transform human civilization as new possibilities previously deemed impossible are made realities. However, it is not the technologies themselves that dictate the nature of the political, economic or social evolution. Rather, it is control over, and access to, technology that has the truly profound impact. While advanced medicines, new methods of energy production and biotechnology breakthroughs are in themselves important, when monopolized by a select few, the implications for the majority of people can be dire.

So it is with the emerging revolution in 3D printing, a technology that manufactures (or "prints"), layer by layer, physical objects from computer models using a variety of materials. While 3D printing has existed in concept since the early 1980s, only in recent years has the technology been brought to the desktop level, allowing individuals and small groups of hobbyists to print a wide variety of objects, from plastic coasters to medical equipment. Having started in the traditional industrial and fabrication setting, it was the application of 3D printing by independent, technologically inclined "hackers" (individuals who manipulate and/or customize computer and electronic equipment to fit their needs) that helped mainstream this technology.

Today, there is a consensus among those in the know - from the most ruthless capitalist profit-seekers to anarcho-communist hackers - that the 3D printing revolution is coming, and the world will not be the same once it arrives. So the struggle is not whether there will be 3D printers, but rather how that technology will be used, how it will be dispersed in society, who will have access to it, and who will control and/or steer its development.

The central question will not be whether a working-class person can 3D print some household object in his garage; this is a foregone conclusion. Instead, it will be whether or not the ability to 3D print the elemental parts of modern and future society (computer processors, nanobots, telecommunications equipment etc.) will be open to all, or controlled by the few.

It's here, and it's growing: the self-assembling Coalition of the Radical Left

By Alexander Reid Ross - The Ecologist, March 6, 2015

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.

In January, I went to the Oregon coast to get away from the city, clear my mind, and have some fun. While walking down the beach, though, we noticed a horrible sight.

Thousands of dead young birds, called cassin's auklets, littered the sands, strewn amongst the bottles and random plastic like so many discarded dreams.

Scientists are baffled as to the reason for the die-off. National Geographic called it "unprecedented... one of the largest mass die-offs of seabirds ever recorded." Between 50-100,000 birds as of the end of January.

The most direct explanation is simply starvation. The natural food of the birds has gone away this season, and it fits in with a larger trend of mass die-offs on the Northwest coast. It could be that ocean acidification is creating an ecological collapse, a lack of oxygen in the water, perhaps, but the main theory places the blame on the warming oceans.

It is climate change that is causing this death, just as climate change induced drought have led to the wars in Syria and Mali. It is killing our young; the entire planet is in grave peril.

Something must be done. But what?

The political party in power in Greece is called Syriza, an acronym meaning Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás (Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς) or 'coalition of the radical left'. Their organization is not what one could possibly call a conventional political party: it is more of a work of rethinking politics and its relationship to the state.

They formed in 2004 as an anti-establishment party, and surfed into power on the waves of riotous discontent incumbent on austerity programs and police repression. Although they have found turbulent times amidst negotiations with global financial institutions, Syriza has shown the North Atlantic the possibility of taking hegemony from the core economic and political powers of neoliberalism.

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