Category Archives: Imperialism

The Egyptian Uprising

More at The Real News

-Chris Shortsleeve

The uprising in Egypt is escalating. Imperialists who have said that ‘stability’ is what makes for good democracy, racists who have said that Arabs do not want their freedom, patriarchs who have said that women do not attend, much less lead, protests, and the Western middle classes who have wanted to paint the Egyptian uprising as a Twitter and Facebook-happy ‘Cedar Revolution’ of doctors and lawyers, have all in the last two weeks seen their pseudo-sociological assumptions about the Egyptian people collapse.

On Tuesday, one of the largest pro-democracy demonstrations yet went down in Cairo – this after days of the US media reporting, and the Mubarak regime requesting, a return to “normalcy” in Egypt – and perhaps even more significantly, new and militant strikes are now emerging throughout Egypt: six thousand Suez Canal workers have gone on strike in Suez, Port-Said, and Ismailia. They are being joined by railway technicians and oil workers, by government, sanitation, and court employees, and by factory workers both in Suez and historic, militant Mahalla. Independent trade unions are forming, and calls are being circulated for both single-day and more sustained General Strikes. The working class is moving in Egypt.

And while the Mubarak regime unleashes both direct and extra-parliamentary repression against the pro-democracy forces, while Torturer-in-Chief Omar Suleiman issues a mixture of pleas, threats, and mild economic ‘reforms’, and while both the Obama administration and the Egyptian opposition itself cannot coherently say whether they are for dictatorship or democracy, cannot unequivocally call for the Mubarak regime to be dismantled and for Mubarak and Suleiman to step down, the Egyptian people are showing no signs of giving up, and are continuing to call for the entire government’s dismissal.
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Reflections on Thanksgiving by a Native Revolutionary

-Mamos

So today  is Thanksgiving.   In this piece, Ahiga Kotori, a Seneca revolutionary and a friend of ours here in Seattle reflects on the holiday.  He asks: what do we really have to be thankful for?   Are folks giving thanks for U.S. capitalism and white supremacy, for 518 years of colonial settlement of North America, for a nation built on stolen Native land and an economy lubricated with Native blood? Why, if these do not really benefit people of color? As Malcolm X said, “we didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.”

We have been organizing with Ahiga Kotori and many others this fall demanding Justice for John T. Williams.  Williams, a Native American woodcarver was gunned down by  Seattle cop Ian Birk who claimed Williams refused to drop his carving knife.  Investigations have shown that Williams’ knife was not even open and that Birk shot him in the side after giving him only four seconds of warning.  This, as well as several other recent  cases of police brutality against Latino and Black folks, has sparked a multi-racial coalition of working and poor people  to mobilize against the cops.  We will reflect on this movement and analyze it soon, but for now we’ll leave you with Kotori’s haunting question: “what does John T. Williams have to be thankful for?”  While American society gives thanks for the triumphs of empire, and “progress” forged through the death of indigenous peoples, let’s pause to remember that the state the Pilgrims began to establish still claims the lives of oppressed peoples and this will not stop until we dismantle it and replace it with a new society we can truly give thanks for.

That’s why, unless snow disrupts the bus lines, we’ll be out there protesting, responding to Kotori’s call to action.

This Thanksgiving…..

I was wondering if anybody would be willing to have a protest of some kind?  Because in my opinion, this is just the same as the Holocaust except the difference is, we don’t celebrate the Holocaust. Though the Holocaust was horrible, it was a six year thing. Most of it. Our oppression has been going for 518 years. 78 million have died as a result. When Columbus got here there were 80 million people of different tribes and tongues. This was just in the U.S. territories alone!  Yet by the time the white man’s conquest was over, there are a little over 2 million left. Unlike the Jews of Europe, we barely have our identity.

Growing up in the hood, the main people I saw were Blacks and my cousins, who were full blooded Senecas. That experience had me thinking that maybe all non-Native people shouldn’t leave , leaving us the land. Maybe just whites.

Then I meet some white revolutionaries and now I know there are SOME good white people.

However, now, I see that despite the fact that the white man keeps all minorities down, for whatever reason, people of color who are non- tribal, are celebrating Thanksgiving!

Now in the heart of our struggle we must think about the future, what society we want for ourselves, our future, our, children, we must find a way to coexist as men, women, Blacks, Natives, Irish, Italian, Euros, Jews Arabs, Latinos , Muslims, gay men and women. And actually being able to force all non native people off the continent would be a long and difficult and frankly unnecessary task. So that said, if you all are going to stay, I ask for your help in our struggle as we will help with yours.

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Yo Soy el Army: U.S. Military Profiles & Targets Latino/a Youth

As the debate around the Dream Act continues, this interview aired a few months back on Democracy Now! with Marco Amador, the filmmaker of “Yo Soy El Army” still seems a relevant and needed contribution to the discussion.

The documentary traces how the Department of Defense has ramped up its racial profiling of Latino/a youth to be cannon fodder for the U.S. military in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This domestic military mission has been facilitated by two key developments. On the one hand, the No Child Left Behind policy passed under Bush, which requires all high schools to give the military access to their facilities and even student records for the purposes of recruiting. This has made our schools open game for hungry recruiters looking to fill quotas. On the other hand, the deliberate disinvestment from public education, which destroys the few options youth had available to them and instead makes military the only option for them to secure steady work (cuz these wars ain’t ending anytime soon) and an income. The film also draws out how the military apparatus has helped shape the Dream Act into a recruitment tool to draw in undocumented youth.

Tracing together the attack on education, the wars in the Middle East and corresponding attacks on Arabs and Muslims at home, and the scapegoating of undocumented immigrants here in the U.S., it seems clear that the struggles around each of these issues will only be strengthened by connecting them. We can ask: What are some practical ways we can be connecting anti-war organizing and the immigrant rights struggle? How can we connect the anti-budget cuts struggle with the immigrant rights struggle? How can our organizing make links between the specific ways in which state violence plays out in communities of color (i.e. ICE raids in immigrant communities, FBI infiltration of Arab and Muslim communities, and police brutality in black communities, and military recruitment in all three)?

Part 1:

Part 2:

Park51 Raises Urgent Questions for Muslims

The struggle over the Park51 project — the Islamic center that will be known as the Cordoba House — in New York has presented a series of challenges to both Muslim organizers and the broader Left, but these challenges need to be understood as the culmination of deeper political and strategic questions that have so far gone unresolved.

Responding to white populism

In a period of growing white populism, it’s important to ask what strategies are necessary for the defense of our communities, and the defeat of both white supremacy and US imperialism.

The murder of Oscar Grant is only one of the most recent and better known cases of the ongoing police campaign to control and repress the Black community.  Since the death of Oscar Grant, at least seven more young Black men have been murdered in northern California alone.  Bloodshed at the hands of white violence — whether by slave drivers, lynch mobs, or the police — has been a consistent feature of the Black experience in the U.S.

In Arizona, Latin@ and undocumented peoples have been on the front lines of the fight against draconian forms of immigration control.  Sheriff Arpaio — who openly associates with neo-fascists — has become a national figure of the anti-immigrant movement conducting raids on immigrant neighborhoods, and holding many immigrant and undocumented people in tent cities that differ little from concentration camps.  This struggle, of course, has deeper roots in NAFTA and other imperial incursions by the U.S. in Latin America.

The passage of SB 1070 in Arizona needs to be understood as part of the success of a resurgent Right, that has been circling around the Tea Party, to capture state power in AZ.  While the ideological make-up around the Tea Party nation-wide is still being contested, fascist elements have entered the fray, and are attempting to both win individuals to their program, and influence the political direction of this milieu.

In this context, Park51 takes on new meaning and greater urgency.  Deepa Kumar has argued that anti-Muslim racism in the U.S. is in the process of changing.  While in the past, the U.S. ruling class treated the “Muslim terrorist threat” as a task to be tackled in the international arena, we have seen an increase in attacks on Muslim peoples inside the U.S.

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Avatar: A Contradictory Movie for Contradictory Times

by Mamos

**Spoiler Alert**

Avatar reenvisioned (from the Kasama blog)
Avatar Reenvisioned - From the Kasama blog

There has been a lot of debate about James Cameron’s movie Avatar. This film describes a private mercenary force like Blackwater colonizing a forest planet named Pandora sometime during the 22nd century. The indigenous people of this planet, the Navi’i, rise up and drive them out; in the process some of the colonizers switch sides and join the rebellion. Some see this story as a “noble savage” myth that perpetuates racist stereotypes of indigenous people. Others see it as a criticism of ecological destruction and a warning of what will happen if we don’t learn how to live in harmony with the natural world. Some see it as a white guilt fantasy and an example of liberal racism because it involves a white man leading a revolt of oppressed people.  Others see it as an inspiring story of anti-colonial armed struggle; (an Anti-War activist friend of mine said that Cameron was able to do what the anti-war movement has not been able to do: to encourage millions of Americans to root for the defeat of the US military.) In any case, this movie has been seen by millions of people and has broken records as a holiday blockbuster, so it is clearly striking a chord with everyday people  in this time of economic crisis, ecological fear, and colonization efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and elsewhere. For that reason, it is important for activists to carry on these debates because if we misunderstand the appeal of this movie we could be misunderstanding where our coworkers, friends, and neighbors are at right now.

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Afro-Asian Solidarity from Below or Above?

by Will

Afro-Asian solidarity is the basic idea that people from these backgrounds have struggled together against white supremacy and colonialism.  This can be expanded to how both have influenced each other culturally in terms of music, food, and clothes.

I have felt this takes on a particularly important dimension in the United States where race/class tensions have existed between Asians and Africans.  This has been most notably recognized in popular media through the Asian shop owner pitted against the Black community.  Hopefully these dynamics will be explored in the upcoming months on the blog, but to frame that discussion properly we need to start from a seemingly distant point.

Here are some notes on Aijaz Ahmad’s chapter on “Three Worlds Theory” from his book, In Theory. While Aijaz explores the relationship of literature, socialism, nationalism, and anti-colonialism, I will primarily focus on the latter three.  I am specifically trying to explore the relationship of “Afro-Asian solidarity” to Three Worlds Theory (When people say “third world” the underpinnings go back to TWT.), the Bandung Conference, and the Non-Aligned Movement. I am not saying they are the same thing, or that they originate from the same historical moment or people.  I am trying to connect and separate concepts in the hopes of achieving some clarity. Fundamentally, I believe the question of Afro-Asian solidarity is about the class nature of such solidarity.

I believe this is important as in the last decade a host of works by Bill Mullen, Vijay Prashad, Robin Kelley and Fred Ho revive a legacy of African and Asian solidarity.  I believe this attempt is vital, but has been underdeveloped theoretically and politically.  Most notably it has taken on Stalinist and Maoist politics.  I have taken Aijaz’s chapter as a key place to start thinking about the problems of any discussion on Afro-Asian solidarity.  My interest is in thinking about Afro-Asian solidarity ‘from below’ from a class perspective.  In this light Mullen’s connection of CLR James and Grace Lee Bogg’s collaborative efforts is vital.  There is much more that can be explored from ‘from below’ recoveries in the context of national liberation and communist movements.

If my notes on Aijaz do not make 100% sense right now, my upcoming notes on the Darker Nations should clarify why Aijaz is so vital in the discussion of Afro-Asian solidarity. I believe that Vijay Prashad’s work is a long lament or tragic drama on why the national bourgeoisies did not have time or resources to develop the nation; or that they were not pushed to the left far enough; among other excuses justifying a history of national liberation and neo-colonialism rooted in the national bourgeoisies as the determining agents of social change.

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Crisis of the Occupation in Afghanistan

From 2001-2007 the occupation of Afghanistan and a growing low-intensity war in Pakistan proceeded with little notice in the U.S. Dominated by the uprising in Iraq, the U.S. ruling class–the principle force guaranteeing the occupation and the most to lose from its failure–equally treated developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan with relative neglect. For the last two years this course has been slowly reversed, and the U.S. has not only attempted to deal with the growing resistance in Afghanistan, but has dramatically deepened its involvement inside Pakistan. Richard Holbrooke, one of the architects of Clinton’s Yugoslavia policy and now playing a similar role in Afghanistan and Pakistan under Obama, indicated this conceptual shift when he said U.S. imperialism is not facing an Afghanistan problem, but a AfPak problem.

With Iraq secured, the Bush administration put General David Petraeus in charge of Central Command who turned to Afghanistan and Pakistan, which was completely out of control. The neo-Taliban now functioned as a shadow state throughout the south and east of the country, advancing to the edges of Kabul that confined a collapsing and illegitimate U.S.-backed regime. More recently, the resistance has emerged in pockets around the north of the country. The promotion of Petraeus signaled the intention to replicate the Iraq strategy which involved destabilizing the resistance by incorporating its bourgeois elements into the state and, at the same time, carrying out total war against its popular bases of support–what Don Rumsfeld had called the El Salvador option. Further, the U.S. depended on sharpening divisions in Iraqi society and capitalizing on the decisive ideological failures within the resistance.

Obama appointed General Stanley McChrystal, chief Special Forces commander in Iraq, to implement a similar strategy in Afghanistan. As commander of JSOC, McChrystal was one of the central players in the “El Salvador option” inside Iraq. McChrystal was highly critical of military policy in Afghanistan and gave a grim assessment of the state of the occupation, which was subsequently made public. Faced with a classic guerrilla campaign, the historical problems of state building in Afghanistan, and increased inter-state and regional competition in central Asia, for example the recent expansion of the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, U.S. imperialism has endangered its own strategic positions throughout the region.
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Notes on Afghanistan and Pakistan

by Will

Historical Features of Afghanistan

A) Afghanis have fought the British in three separate wars and Russians once and defeated them or held them at stalemate.  This is military dimensions of this war is something the American brass and political establishment are aware of.  This is reflected in the uneasiness of sending more troops although the new fiscal realities of the U.S. government are probably playing a role as well.

B) Afghanistan is one of the few places on the Earth where bourgeois-capitalist development has had little if any impact.  While many newly independent countries in the post-colonial era were taking stabs at state-led development, Afghanistan was largely left out of this dynamic.  This has meant a centralized state with a national ideology, which reaches into the pores of Afghanistan, has never existed.  There is a huge gulf between the cities and the rural sectors of society.  It also means that the presence of a working class is minimal.

C) The Communists following the overthrow of Daoud did not have a base in the countryside.  90% of the Afghani population lived here at the time.  To push for change they had to rely on a top-down strategy which alienated the villagers. This meant force and violence had to be used by the Communists fuelling an insurgency.  The pitfalls of revolution from above laid the gravestone of the Afghani Communists. So when Afghanis hate Communism, it is not because they are backwards, it is because Communists first became their jailers and tortures and later with the Soviets sided with those who jailed and tortured them.

Most Communists made another fatal mistake in supporting the Soviet invasion.  Socialism/Communism cannot be brought by the barrel of a gun.  Furthermore, the Soviet army found itself playing the role of occupier instead of some progressive force.  This was the inherent logic from the beginning.

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The Labor Movement in Egypt

written with mlove

egyptian-intifada

Over the past three years the energy of Egyptian workers has created exciting  possibilities for the working class across the Middle East. In December of 2006 over 24,000 workers at Misr Spinning and Weaving company in Ghazl el-Mahalla initiated a wave of strikes and industrial actions that has extended well beyond the Mahalla al-Kubra industrial center challenging the foundations of the Egyptian state.  As this rank-and-file activity grew into a movement, it increasingly came into direct confrontation with the state, with well over 200 major strikes in 2007. When Mahalla workers again struck in April of 2008, the dictatorship looked to crush the movement. As soldiers and police tried to occupy the factory, clashes broke-out and spread, with live ammunition being fired on strikers and protesters.

The April 6 movement, as it became identified, was an important catalyst for grievances against the regime as striking workers were joined in the street by the mass outcries against the rising cost of bread. It is no accident that since 2008 there has been an attempt to crush the movement by arresting rank-and-file leadership, student activists, and opposition intellectuals, many of whom have been tortured, taking a place next to hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood organizers sitting in jail. What has been striking about the movement are the political dimensions of the protest.  In addition to fighting privatization and demanding back payment of bonuses, demanding for the raising of the minimum wage, people are singling out Mubarak and his American-backed dictatorship.
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The Ecology Movement, Climate Change & US Empire

There has been a lot of excitement by the left and the ecology movement lately, particularly around the G20 protests in Pittsburgh, the climate bill proposed by the House and recently amended by the Senate, and finally around the upcoming UN climate talks in Copenhagen.  But it’s worth noting how the broader political terrain today forms the hot topics of the ecology movement if we’re to effectively plan our campaigns and strategies.

This past spring, despite the hopes of environmentalists that lined up behind Obama’s presidential campaign, the EPA okayed over 40 mountain-top removal coal-mining projects without scrutiny. This form of coal mining is one of the more the ecologically destructive methods of coal mining.  The process dumps tons of chemicals and unwanted material down the sides of the mountain. burying wildlife and vegetation on the sides, and contaminating local water supplies.  It also allows mining companies to lay-off workers and cut labor costs because less people are needed than traditional forms of mining.

But just before labor day the EPA released a letter that indicates that the Obama administration and the EPA are seeking to block one of the largest mountain top mining permits issued, citing violations of the Clean Water Act.

Around the same time, the NYTimes began a series on water pollution noting violations of the Clean Water Act by coal mining companies.  The piece sites the lack of oversight and enforcement as a major problem, with companies dumping as much as 1000% of the allowed chemical concentration into local water systems in W Virginia.

So why the about-face?  Is Obama finally fulfilling his campaign promises to the environmental movement?

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