We would like to congratulate four recipients of IAS writing grants for 2016. We chose these four out of sixty-two applications. They are: Henna Rasanen, writing Weltuntergang: A Queer Post-Apocalyptic Graphic Novel; Jeremey Louzao, writing “The Friendly Neighborhood Anarchist: Embracing the Groundwork that Makes Revolutions Possible;” Mona Luxion, writing “#Printemps2015: Lessons from Québec’s Stunted Anarchist Anti-Austerity Mobilization;” and Toshio Meronek, writing “They Won’t Quit: LAGAI Queer Insurrection.” Congrats! Our next deadline to apply for a writing grant is January 15th, 2017. Go here to apply for a grant.
This essay appears in the current issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, N. 28, on the topic of Justice. The full issue is available from AK Press here!
Since the publication of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in 2012, there has been much talk about the need to end mass incarceration. More and more people are speaking publicly about the moral and financial implications of maintaining the world’s largest prison system. However, what it means to end mass incarceration, and what it would take to end it, is less clear.
Mass incarceration plays a central role in maintaining state and capitalist power in the United States, and abolishing the prison system must play a central role in movements for radical change. Mass incarceration allows the state to perpetuate unpopular economic policies that would not be possible in the face of strong resistance movements. While reform efforts might cause the structures of mass incarceration to shift, and lead to decreases in the prison population (as is already happening in some places), a more fundamental transformation is necessary if we hope to see an actual rather than cosmetic shift in the meaning and practice of “justice.”
Our efforts to end mass incarceration cannot be rooted in reform, but must instead address the structural roots that have given rise to the world’s largest prison system. We must create movements that thrive on our differences and build on our strengths. The prison system sits at the nexus of multiple forms of oppression, so we must generate analysis and resistance that is intersectional. Supporting political prisoners, developing the capacity to withstand state repression, and embracing meaningful forms of justice and healing, horizontal models of sharing power, and feminist and queer ways of understanding the multitude of possible futures are all part of this struggle.
A land and water grab is happening in the canyons and plateaus where I live in rural Utah. Several Canadian corporations backed by transnational investors are moving in to extract tar sands and oil shale on public lands. These outfits are the spear tips of a host of operators who are trying to strip mine the world’s dirtiest oil in the headwaters of the Colorado River, one of North America’s most endangered rivers.
In a region already hit by more than a decade of drought, the mining corporations are drilling deep into underground aquifers to pump water for their processing operations. At the ranch where I work, the springs in the canyon downstream from the initial mine are drying up. The ranching family is one of the first to be impacted by the mine, but there are bigger implications, as waste discharged from the mines will impact more than 30 million people who rely on the Colorado River for drinking water and irrigation.
And then there are the climate change consequences. According to industry backers, there are more potential fossil fuels in the Green River formation that stretches across Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado than the Alberta tar sands. If the infrastructure for these types of megaprojects is completed, there is an almost certainty of being locked in a path toward catastrophic climate change.
With these stunning contradictions in mind, and with all legal options exhausted, local people and climate justice rebels took matters into their own hands in the summer of 2014 by establishing a resistance camp on the mine lease in order to halt mining operations. Amidst a summer of blockades, police repression, and the stresses of day-to-day rural resistance, it’s been a challenge to maintain a global perspective. It’s clear that our fight is being driven by capital and technical knowledge generated through the exploitation of the Alberta tar sands. It’s also clear that there are financiers intending to export these mining operations around the world using corporations deeply tied to the military industrial complex.
But what are the strategic and tactical implications as to how we should carry out our struggle? What are our relationships and responsibilities to other communities fighting exploitative land grabs around the world? How can we use our collective power to fundamentally transform the political and economic structures that facilitate this ecocidal rush?
While thinking through these questions, I came across a copy of Grabbing Back: Essays Against the Global Land Grab. This compilation is billed as an “illustrative field guide to the way people power responds to the global land grab.” It ranges from pieces written by voices new to me, like Yangtze River Delta Earth First!, to long time writers and movement elders, like Grace Lee Boggs, Max Rameau, Vandana Shiva, Noam Chomsky, and Silvia Federici.
This piece originally appeared in the Care issue of Perspectives (Vol.13, N.2, Fall 2012). Perspectives is available from AK Press here. The Community Acupuncture movement began over ten years ago and now includes a couple hundred … Read more
Our comrades at AK Press, with whom we just published Walidah Imarisha’s Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption, have posted an excerpt. Check it out here!
This review of Chris Dixon’s Another Politics appears in the current issue of Perspectives, available here from AK Press.
It was one of those meetings where the room we booked was far too large for the number of people who actually showed up. It was the type of meeting where you rearrange the chairs to form a small circle in a corner so that the disappointing turnout feels less deflating. Myself and three other members of No One Is Illegal-Toronto huddled to discuss two fledgling campaigns we were involved in. The first was the awkwardly named “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”1 campaign that hoped to mobilize toward a municipal policy that would bar city staff from asking for immigration identification or reporting someone’s immigration status to the authorities. The second was our anti-deportation direct action casework, which evolved from a model developed by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty to fight welfare bureaucracy. We had faced a soul-sucking defeat earlier that year following the deportation of beloved community activist Queen Nzinga, who was arrested by Toronto police at a bake sale during International Women’s Day. It was mid-summer 2005, and the day-to-day grind of organizing had taken its toll on our collective energies. Without the bulk of the group’s members, we decided to not have any discussions about nuts and bolts of organizing upcoming events or actions and instead have a more general conversation about the direction of our collective. It was in that discussion that I first became aware of what Chris Dixon (2014) explains, in his book Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements, is a fundamental principle underlying the antiauthoritarian current in today’s social movements: we were trying to figure out how to work “in the space between our transformative aspirations and actually existing social realties” (8). We saw in those campaigns two very different yet interconnected desires – the prefigurative aspirations of a world where people had the freedom to move and the freedom to stay, and the struggle to dismantle the state, capitalism, and the white supremacist settler colonial logics that undergird Canada’s immigration laws.
This piece appears in the current issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, N. 28, on Justice available from AK Press here. Brad received an Institute for Anarchist Studies writing grant to assist in the completion of this piece.
“War is the health of the State” – Randolph Bourne, written during WW I
“Mutiny is the conscience of war” – Common trench graffiti during WW I
War and military occupation are among the most overwhelming demonstrations of state power. Rooted in an anti-state analysis, the anarchist position on geopolitical power struggles between nation-states is unequivocal opposition, especially in reference to international interventions by the US military.
The logical conclusion might be that anarchists should categorically oppose the individuals who are part of the institution of the US military: the troops. Similarly, it may follow that those people who make up the military and veterans would be among the most hostile toward anarchist ideals and action.
However, through my involvement in anti-war movements and anarchist circles over the last ten years, I have encountered a surprising number of anarchists opposed to the US military who are themselves US veterans. For many of them, their experience as GIs (“Government Issue,” a nickname commenting on the fact that service members are treated as government property) played a significant role in forming and developing their anti-authoritarian and anarchist analysis. What follows is based on interviews with a number of anarchists and anti-authoritarians who also happen to be military veterans.
(Chicago, 2012: US military Vets throw their medals back during anti-NATO protests. This is Jacob George, a vet who I had hoped to interview as part of the project, who later took his own life.)