Archive for November, 2006

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

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

chinese-toy-factory-worker.jpgHere is a news item I wanted to highlight some times ago, but it fell off my desk somewhere. It is about the debate in China about a new draft labour contract law that would grant new rights to Chinese workers. Although there would be very moderate reforms, they are strongly opposed by international investors, which have found an organised platform in the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (representing over 1,300 corporations, including 150 Fortune 500 companies), The US-China Business Council represents 250 US companies doing business across all sectors in China, and the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China representing more than 860 members.) Read on the full report from Global Labour Strategies or the extract in Focus on Global South.

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?

At the hospital. . .thinking of capital’s measure

Monday, November 13th, 2006

hygieia.jpgIn the hospital bed next to my father, there lie a tall and very thin 92 years old man, with closed eyes and a powerful voice, when he decides to produce a sound. His daughter, a grandmother herself in her mid to late 40s, is visiting every day, to feed him and take care of him. “Help!”, he shouts suddenly, “help!”, with a sound that seems to have come from deep down the labirinth of his id. “Here I am” — says she — “I am here to help dad” — she says with a gentle tone. “You ugly beast” — roars the old man with his eyes still closed — “you are not here to help, you are here to throw me in a ditch”. (more…)

Aphorism: reproduction and co-optation

Friday, November 10th, 2006

From a strategic point of view, reproduction broadly understood is important because it is on its terrain that co-optation occurs at the end of any cycle of struggle, and this is a quite obvious, straightforward matter. Capital’s co-optation of our struggles — by means of various forms of governance coupling the desires and aspiration of struggling subjects to a new generation of capital’s loops — occurs because despite our protest movements, we still have to reproduce our lives and livelihoods . . .And therefore, either we fundamentally change the modes of reproduction of our lives by using the force generated by our oppositional movements when they gain momentum, or we will have soon to go back to their modes of reproduction of our lives by sheer necessity. The question of commons, of counter-enclosures, of a radically different access to the means of reproduction of livelihoods must therefore be at the centre of any truly radical discourse.

Enclosures’ terrifying fragility

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

video_button_white_dred.gifHere is a short clip from Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath of God, a 1972 film set in the mid-16th Century, and telling the story of Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski), ‘the wrath of god’ who, consumed with visions of conquering all of South America, leads his own army down a river battling with starvation, Indians, nature and each other. The character shown in this clip is the “emperor to be” of the not-yet conquered land. He is seen here leaving the latrine on the raft just seconds before sitting at a table, making a pompous pronouncement about him taking owneship of the surrounding land, and then signing a dirty piece of paper, the evident proof of his newly acquired property. I love this clip! It captures a moment of the institutionalisation of enclosures, and reveals it so damned fragile and almost fortuitos, a fragility underlined by Aguirre’s subtle comment to the emperor-to-be. Yes we know of course, behind this fragility of the moment of acquisition, there is the long social process that keeps acquisition in its place and turn it into a continuous precondition to capital. The characters of the film are not lucky however, and will all perish doomed by their own obsessions.

Migration and Commoning

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

video_button_white_dred.gifIn this short documentary, we have a glimpse of the processes of “commoning”, that is the production of commons involved in migration processes. Communities of Mexican migrants collect money in upstate New York and fund social projects in their hometown of Boqueron, Mexico. Projects include ambulances, sport facilities, a well . . . In this way, the communities cut their dependence on corrupt governments, strengthen their cohesion and create the conditions for a dignified and return for those who so desire. In the United States there are about one thousands groups like the one featured here. The video is produced by MediaRights

On the “tragedy of the commons” (that is, the tragedy of commons without communities)

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

tragedy-of-the-commons.jpgThe recent version of the “tragedy of the commons” argument was put forward by Garret Hardin in 1968 in the journal Science. The core of the argument, is that commons are incentive and distribution arrangements that inevitably result in environmental degradation and generally resource depletion. This because the commons are understood as resources for which there is “free” and “unmanaged” access. In this framework, no one has an obligation to take care of commons. In societies in which commons are prevalent, Hardin argues, people live by the principle: ‘to each according to his needs’ formulated by Marx in his Critique of the Gotha program. By assuming that commons are a free for all space from which competing and atomized “economic men” take as much as they can, Hardin has engineered a justification for privatization of the commons space rooted in an alleged natural necessity. Hardin forgets that there is no common without community within which the modalities of access to common resources are negotiated. (more…)