Archive for the 'struggle/social movements' Category

The other oil shock

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

palmoil.jpgThis good article from the International Herald Tribune links it all: peak oil and biofuel, planterary urbanization and growth in meat consumption for middle classes, increase in food prices, especially hurting the poor, and spreading food riots across the globe.

The other oil shock: Vegetable oil prices soar (more…)

Recuperating the Political

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

I post below a recent intervention by Gustavo Esteva appeared in La Jornada, Thursday 4 June 2007. (translated by C. Herold). Commenting on the recent movement in Oaxaca it poses the question of another “politics” based on dignity and presence rather than political “lines” and representation.

“Choose your enemy carefully,” warns an old Arab proverb, “because you will become like your enemy.” If your enemy is an army, you will need to create another to confront it; if your enemy is the mafia, you will become a mafia.

“We cannot involve the army of the United States in the fight against illegal drug trafficking,” said the U.S. anti-drug czar some years ago, “it would create a national security problem.” He was recognizing the risk involved, the risk of the dissolution of the armed forces if they are used for that purpose. His statement was entirely cynical–he had just returned from a tour of Latin America where he pressured every government he met to do exactly that. He didn’t care that those armies would dissolve. The army of the U.S. would remain standing, in case an army was called for. (more…)

Happy May Day

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

08maypole.jpg

The “worker’s may pole” (1864) captures the hybrid green and red tradition of May Day, so well described in this classic account by Peter Linebough.

Training day at the University Inc.

Monday, March 12th, 2007

complaints.jpgWhat does an international Airline, a global bank, a transnational retail corporation, and a British University have in common? Well, they all have to “compete” on the global marketplace to survive, they all have “customers” prone to litigiousness to appease and mollify, and they all have the need to defuse staff questioning managers priorities and practices. So, few weeks ago I found myself in “a three-line whip” training course — that is a compulsory course that all academic staff had (supposedly) to take. The compulsion was designed to be a gentle “peer” compulsion, a subtle way to compel the individual that avoid direct confrontation between senior management and the individual academic staff: the University center would have fined your school £50 if you did not attend. The title of the day course was odd enough: “challenging academic decisions” — and it dealt with training staff in dealing with the challenges that the “costumer” base of the university — its students — would put forward. I heard that the same exact training was given to non academic staff under the title: “dealing with difficult customers”. I also been told by our trainer - and I document below — that the stuff we have “learned” in the training which we received either as academic or support staff in dealing with “students-costumers” would be applicable with little or no modifications to all situations of conflict within an organisation along its hierarchical scale or between company-costumers relations. In other words, the way we were about to be trained to deal with our students when they raise some problem, is the same way that our senior managers are trained to deal with us when we raise problem. Revealing! I overcome the boredom and I eagerly staid for the entire day, with my hear ready to steal their secrets! (more…)

Microcredit, enclosures, commons

Monday, December 18th, 2006

video_button_white_dred.gifThis is an extract of a debate on microcredit broadcasted by Democracy Now! (13 December - go here for full coverage in real player) between Susan Davis, founder and chair of the Grameen Foundation, and Vandana Shiva. The occasion was the Nobel Peace price acceptance speech made by the founder of Grameen Bank Muhammad Yunus. The Commoner has already pusblished a critique of Grameen Bank with the article by George Caffentzis titled Varieties of Bancocide: Left and Right Critiques of the World Bank and IMF, linking microcredit to IMF and World Bank policies.

The debate here extracted is not only informative, it is also enlightening of the gap we have to overcome in our critical discourses. Susan Davis and Vandana Shiva epitomise here two opposite ways to deal with “poverty” and “development”. Susan Davis, in a business like fashion, (more…)

Competition as class struggle

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

optical-illusion.jpgYou try to go at a Marxist conference and say that “class struggle” is the centre of our preoccupation, that we need to bring in subjectivity and struggles, desires and class composition, strategies and counterstrategies, problematic of political recomposition vis-a’-vis capital in our way to apprehend the world. You will be answered with a rift sang by all types of variations and idiosyncratic types of Marxism: the historical approach, the value form approach, the disequilibrium approach, the equilibrium approach, the overproduction approach, the under-consumption approach, the logic of capital approach, even the “of-course-class-struggle-is-important” approach. In all their diversity, they share one common song, they sing to you to shut up your insistence on subjectivity and struggle, and this is it: “there is not only class struggle, there is also competition among capitals” . . .or, to put it in a more elegant (maybe) way, here they go: “there is not only the vertical struggle between capital and labour, there is also the horizontal competitive struggle among capitals”.

Ok, let us take a time machine and travel back 102 years, to 1905, (more…)

Looking for a photo on shop floor commons

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

refusalofworkflowcharts.jpgit is a desperate thing to search for pictures on “refusal of work” and constitution of shop floor commons over the internet. The “refusal of work” search tab, reports few pictures of diagrams describing the procedures a company must adopts if a worker refuses to work for health and safety reasons (see aside), and a bunch of unrelated issues . . .The search begun because I am looking for a photo that is impressed in my memory, of a group of Italian factory workers in the late 1960s or 1970s (Fiat?), who were in the action of refusing to work (one of them was sleeping, the others I thing playing cards) . . . In reality I am looking for any type of photos that document refusal of work on the shop floor (that is refuse capital’s measure of life activity), because I want to make a case that commons also emerge on the shop floor . . .I know they exist from the tales that Italian factory workers have told me back in the 1970s . . .I know it also for what some time ago I read about Ford, Harley Devidson etc. in the United States in the same period. . .I tried to search for “workers playing card”, I tried “ford workers 1970s” and a series of variation on the theme . . . nothing, pages after pages of workers who were pictured in the act of working, or, at most, pose for the group picture (now that is a very temporary commons!). . . quite frustrated I tried a different technique in my google search, and I entered the tag “workers history” and variations on the theme . . .then I realised that our historical photo album is pretty much peculiar: photos of union leaders, some demonstrations, some posters, some image of proud worker . . but very little, if not, sense of the community that these people were sharing and constituting in their daily practice and struggles . . . in other words, we look at the pictures of some of the past actors of our history as subjects of struggle, and we do not see them as kin as a sort of family, that is as card players hiding from the boss, laughing behind the back of authority to recover the dignity lost on the line, teasing each other, arguing or fighting or coming together in companionship, and organising for a big push the next strike . . . all this, it seems to me, is not documented in images, and it is as if our family photo album was filled only with passport pictures of our relatives.

Global warming and indigenous survival: the Inuit

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

video_button_white_dred.gifAn extract from a talk by Sheila Watt-Cloutier of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference at a Internation Forum on Globalisation teach in few days ago (taken here from Democracy Now of 23 November). She is making the very simple, but essential point, that global warming is not so much about the “environment”, but about people and communities whose livelihoods and ways of life are threatened by it. People like the Inuit, whose cultural tradition of hunting and sharing food across the artic are threatened by the effects of the global system of capitalist production. The speaker gives us some interesting insights on how the life of the Inuit depends on the ice sea, which is the main “hightway” for transportation as well as the “supermarket” from which food is obtained. Global warming here clearly appears here as a context of enclosures, and I could not avoid to think that as for the Inuit it represent an opportunity to struggle, for capital it represents an opporunity to replace the “supermarket” of the ice sea with new Wall Marts or Tescos wherever they think to relocate the Inuit once the see ice has melt.

Democracy in the streets and assemblies of Oaxaca

Friday, November 24th, 2006

appo.jpgFirst some background and then, if you read on below, some resources.

“Today, Friday November 11th”, a friend writes, “the Constituent Congress of the APPO [ASAMBLEA POPULAR DE LOS PUEBLOS DE OAXACA] was officially begun in the city of Oaxaca. Announced after the First State Assembly of the People’s of Oaxaca in late September, the purpose of the Congress is to formalize the structure, permanent leadership, and objectives of the APPO, as well as to agree on a medium and long term plan of action. The Congress will continue through Sunday. Much will be written about it over the coming days, but I wanted here simply to point out that most of today was spent registering the delegates — a process alloted two hours has taken the whole day. Why? The answer reveals something important about the nature of the APPO. Here is the language, roughly translated, from the formal Invitation to participate in the Congress:

“Delegates will have the right to speak and vote as long as they are accredited… as delegates of their communities, ejidos, organizations, unions, neighborhoods, schools, ranches… or municipalities, etc: based on the following:”

3 delegates per neighborhood (”barrio o colonia”)
5 delegates per municipality or “pueblo indigena”
3 delegates per nucleus of ‘communeros o ejidatarios”
3 delegates per municipal agency
3 delegates per social organization
3 delegates per union
3 delegates per school
2 delegates per barricade
2 delegates for each sector of Section XXII”

The calculation expresses a kind of physiognomy of the movement. Note that each barricade (essentially a neighborhood block) is accorded the same voice as a sector of the teachers union.”

Here are the first results of the constituent process: a) The 17 November Appo declaration, followed by b) the general summary of the results of the work group of the constitutive congress of the popular assembly of the people of Oaxaca. An impressive document, especially for results of work groups 2 and 3. For a good short background and summary piece by La Jornada reporter (this is in English) see this piece by LUIS HERNÁNDEZ NAVARRO posted in Counterpunch. A good source of information and update is narconews site. For an excellent “chronicle of radical democracy” see the article by Gustavo Esteva

If your non violent protests make them loose money, you are a terrorist (and they are the terrorised!).

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

video_button_white_dred.gifNews clip from Democracy Now! of 14 November about a new bill passed in the US House of Representatives turning up the criminalisation of non violent animal right protests (and others, of course, perhaps soon to follow . . .let us see what the neodem will do about this . . .). Here are the seeds for the criminalisation of the “beginning of history” because terrorist is said here of a protest that make business loose money . . . in other words, terrorism is being fed up with a system based on making money. . . .and who are the terrorised?