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Anti-Capitalist Meetup: “From Ferguson to Palestine …” by UnaSpenser

2:44 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

… Occupation Is A Crime!” – chant being heard from protesters in Ferguson and at solidarity rallies around the nation.

Author’s Note: The Anti-Capitalist Meetup group felt that this is such an important subject that we decided to have me re-post an updated/more fleshed-out version of a diary I had already posted. I was wary due to the tenacious accusations of Anti-Semitism against anyone who dares to suggest that we relate to Palestinians as people. Still, that’s a First World problem. I have agreed to take that risk, again.

In a recent diary, a commenter expressed frustration when a conversation about the racism and tyrannical force being displayed in Ferguson prompted someone to bring up the Palestinians. The complaint was along the lines of “can we please just focus?”

I responded that many of my friends who are not White are quick to make the connection between what they experience here and what is happening in Gaza. Many of us see the linkage. Focusing actually means getting everybody to see that linkage and build solidarity.

The people in Ferguson have already made the linkage:

Richard Potter ‏@RichardSP86

Did everyone else catch when protesters chanted “From St Louis to #Gaza end the occupation” because that was some powerful shit. #Ferguson

When it comes to the growing divide between those who win in a capitalist world and those who lose, we’re all Gazans. We’re all Mike Brown. We’re all Tibetans. We’re all Native Americans.

That is, some of us are definitely subject to more directly cruel and blatant oppression, but we’re all expendable when it comes to capitalism. Capital has no concern other than increasing it’s own value.

When it comes to any form of oppression, the only solution is resistance in solidarity. No one is liberated unless everyone is liberated. Abuse of power and willingness to see others as less than worthy of respect and justice is a relentless disease which much always be addressed or it will spread like a pandemic. No justice, no peace.

Apparently, the Palestinians get it, too.

“RT @TallyAnnaE: People in #Gaza are tweeting information on how to handle tear gas to the citizens of #Ferguson.”

If this is true, it reminds me of when Occupy Wall Street began and beleaguered Syrians sent a photo of a handwritten sign which said, “We are the 99.”

In the privileged world, we want to compartmentalize. It is less overwhelming and more manageable to think of each instance of injustice as it’s own issue to be addressed. So often, when I try to link topics such as Palestine and Ferguson, I see rolled eyes. There is the message of “here she goes again” in the expression. A desire to remain in the sheltered worldview of “that doesn’t happen here” or “it could never happen to me” or “it’s just an isolated incident.”

But, it’s all connected. Everything is connected. Unwillingness to see those connections makes us complicit in the oppression being perpetrated.

It’s really clear to those whose communities have paid the price for the capitalist “successes” of others. We need to see it, too. We all need to stand in solidarity.

A recent article on Counterpunch makes the connection:The Shortest Distance Between Palestine and Ferguson

While there is nothing happening within the US anything like the now-cyclical Israeli slaughter of thousands of Gazans, the reality is that life for Black Americans in places like Ferguson does not vary in much from blockaded Gaza, and West Bank Bantustans in off-attack times . The similarities are not just coincidental in terms of the timing of the events–they are in fact, concurrent and historical.

What is becoming more and more apparent is how much capitalist economics drives both situations. Many years ago, I listened to a young Jewish woman explain to me why Israel needed to “kick Palestine’s butt.” She was filled with violent rage and it was so overwhelming that I had a difficult time taking it in. But, one thing struck me and stayed with me. She felt it was important to point out that before Israel asserted itself, the Palestinians hadn’t maximized the productivity of the land. “They should appreciate how we’ve transformed the place!”

There seemed to be no recognition that other people might not see that “transformation” as a good thing. That the transformation of the land could actually be counterproductive to an already existing culture. The claim to superiority was all about how money could be made there, now. Those people who had their land stolen and lost loved ones should appreciate that.

It was a small thing at the time. Still, it has stuck in my mind. Now, I read this:

As Haaretz recently reported, the larger settlements of the West Bank—which have grown astronomically since the signing of the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Authority—are now in the midst of a housing bubble that is outstripping prices in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Young urban professionals, with no interest in ideology or perhaps even in Zionism, flock to these well-financed and subsidized cities, where the attendant express highways spirit them quickly back and forth from Tel Aviv. Israel’s military industrial complex gives them security from the tenants of the land they’ve stolen.

This history is so parallel to what has happened to Native Americans here. For African-Americans, there is a twist. The people were stolen from their lands, brought the US to work the land and build everything here, for free and have remained economically excluded from the benefits of all that work. They remain, mostly, in segregated communities, denied the educational and job opportunities of those in White communities. US laws are designed such that their lives are criminalized and we can claim to justify the over-policing, the prison industrial complex and the denial of social services. They are corralled and treated mercilessly if they dare to resist oppression in any way. Talking back to a police officer can result in death.

With social media allowing people to hear the stories of and connect to people around the world, it doesn’t take long for the losing class in each region to see the similarities between the ways they are treated. They suffer daily humiliations and relentless obstacles to sustainability. The slightest act of resistance is then met with state-sponsored violence. The ruling class owns the media outlets and controls the mainstream cultural messaging which includes demonizing losers so that when resistance is attempted, the rest of the population supports the state-sponsored violence.

It’s not just a theoretical idea that these struggles are linked. It turns out that leaders on the Ferguson police force, along with police from around the US, received training in Israel:

Decades of testing and perfecting methods of domination and control on a captive and disenfranchised Palestinian population has given rise to a booming “homeland security industry” in Israel that refashions occupation-style repression for use on marginalized populations in other parts of the world, including St. Louis.

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement,

Palestinians recognized the plight of Ferguson and started tweeting solidarity messages.

After images of Ferguson police using tear gas were disseminated on Twitter, Palestinians Rajai abuKhalil and Mariam Barghouti drew on their own experiences to express support with protesters in Missouri.

Rajai abuKhalilرجائي @Rajaiabukhalil
Dear #Ferguson. The Tear Gas used against you was probably tested on us first by Israel. No worries, Stay Strong. Love, #Palestine
11:24 PM – 13 Aug 2014

When people see the startlingly parallel images of Gaza and Ferguson, it is not in their imagination that these scenes are linked. Capitalism is a global force. It doesn’t care whether a state is nominally democratic or despotic, as long as those with capital can call the shots, literally.

We are all fodder for the state- or corporate-sponsored militarized forces who will protect the domination of the wealthy. If you’ve escaped violence from the state, it’s only because you’re either in the wealthy elite, or you’re in the class whom they let stand as a false symbol of the promise of capitalism. As soon as you stand in solidarity with those who are constantly under the harsher thumb of oppression, you will be just so much fodder, too. Just ask anyone who has dared to protest in this country. We saw it in the Civil Rights movement; we saw it with World Bank protests in the early 2000s, and we saw it with Occupy.

It is heartening to see people making these connections. Resistance is not futile, if we build solidarity and recognize that we have common cause: autonomy, justice and sustainability for all. No one will really have it until we all do. So, yes we can focus. We can focus on the connection and build the needed solidarity to resist oppression.

We are all Palestinians. We are all Mike Brown. We are all workers in Bangladesh. We are all the Garbage People.


Please note:
I do not equate Israel with Jewish people or the Jewish religion. Israel is a state, whose mission is controlled by a particular subset of people. In fact, it seems anti-semitic to color all Jews with the sins of Israel.

It is also Islamophobic to equate all Palestinians or Gazans with Hamas.

Don’t even bother trying these false equivalencies. You only make yourself look manipulative.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Evo Morales, “Live Well” vs “Live Better” by UnaSpenser

2:59 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

It can be very disheartening to contemplate the state of the world, these days. Climate change, growing wealth inequality, civil rights erosion, violence, violence and more violence. As a practitioner of bearing witness, it all gets overwhelming and can lead to despair, unless I find beacons of light. One of the beacons I’ve found is Evo Morales of Bolivia.

If you’re not aware of him, he is the first indigenous president of Bolivia. That would be notable, in and of itself, but he has represented so much more than a demographic token. He’s now a leading voice in a worldwide coalition for a sustainable future. Something he calls “Vivir Bien.”

The concept of vivir bien (live well) defines the current climate change movement in Bolivia. The concept is usually contrasted with the capitalist entreaty to vivir mejor (live better). Proponents argue that living well means having all basic needs met while existing in harmony with the natural world; living better seeks to constantly amass materials goods at the expense of the environment.

This isn’t just a vague “feel good” philosophy. It is a set of principles to live by and guide public policy. Let’s take a look at what those principles are, how they’ve been applied in Bolivia and how they are being adopted beyond Bolivia, along with some of President Morales’ personal background.

Per the Encyclopedia Britannica, Evo Morales was born in 1959, herded llamas as a child, served in the Bolivian military after high school and then worked on a family farm, where one of the crops was coca.

The coca plant is mostly known to those of us outside of the Western South America as the source of cocaine. However, it has very impressive nutritional and medicinal qualities and has been a significant part of the Andean culture. This is important to note because when the US launched it’s “War on Drugs” it didn’t limit it’s enforcement of US laws to activities happening within it’s borders. The US placed enormous pressure on Bolivians to shut down all coca farming. This led to unionization of the farmers. Evo Morales became active in that union. By the mid-1980s he became the executive secretary of a group of unions. This launched his political career that has ended up with him in the presidency. It has also shaped how he sees the impact of capitalist interests around the world.

In the mid-1990s, when the Bolivian government was suppressing coca production with assistance from the United States, Morales helped found a national political party—the leftist Movement Toward Socialism (Spanish: Movimiento al Socialismo; MAS)—at the same time serving as titular leader of the federation representing coca growers.

Morales won a seat in the House of Deputies (the lower house of the Bolivian legislature) in 1997 and was the MAS candidate for president in 2002, only narrowly losing to Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. During the presidential campaign, Morales called for the expulsion from Bolivia of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents (his campaign was bolstered by the U.S. ambassador’s comment that aid to Bolivia would be reconsidered if Morales was elected). In the following years, Morales remained active in national affairs, helping force the resignation of Sánchez de Lozada in 2003 and extracting a concession from his successor, Carlos Mesa Gisbert, to consider changes to the highly unpopular U.S.-backed campaign to eradicate illegal coca production.

Two years later, he would run for president again. He was the first Bolivian president since 1982 to win by majority, taking 54% of the votes. Since being elected, he has pushed for policies which reflect the principles of Vivir Bien. In 2009, the principles of Vivir Bien were included in Bolivia’s new constitution. When you read the text of the constitution, you can notice something a bit radically different from that of the US:

This Constitution determines a mixed economy: State, private, cooperative and communal ownership,but restricts private land ownership to a maximum of 5,000 hectares (12,400 acres). (emphasis mine)

That’s a very definitive statement about limiting the accumulation of personal power via controlling land.

So, what are these principles?

There is one way in which the phrase “vivir bien” reminds me of the Brazilian phrase ‘tenho saudade.’ It is hard to translate into English, because it isn’t just about the definition of the words. There is an ineffable cultural feeling, related to a way of perceiving life, embedded in the phrase. As this writer, trying to explain Vivir Bien, puts it:

The richness of the term is difficult to translate into English. It includes the classical ideas of quality of life, but with the specific idea that well-being is only possible within a community. Furthermore, in most approaches the community concept is understood in an expanded sense, to include Nature. Buen Vivir therefore embraces the broad notion of well-being and cohabitation with others and Nature. In this regard, the concept is also plural, as there are many different interpretations depending on cultural, historical and ecological setting.

When Vivir Bien was incorporated into the Bolivian constitution it was enacted as ethical and moral principles for the State:

In the Bolivian case, is presented in Spanish as ‘Vivir Bien’, and is included in the section devoted to the ethical and moral principles describing the values, ends and objectives of the State. The approach is multicultural, and Vivir Bien is referred to the aymara concept of suma qamaña, but also to the guaraní ideas of the harmonious living (ñandereko), good life (teko kavi), the land without evil (ivi maraei) and the path to the noble life (qhapaj ñan). These ideas come from different cultures but all are presented together at the same level, without hierarchies. They are part of a major set of principles linked to other well-known principles, such as unity, equality, dignity, freedom, solidarity, reciprocity, social and gender equity, social justice, responsibility and so on. Furthermore, all the ethical–moral principles, including Vivir Bien, are linked to the economic organization of the State. The Bolivian Constitution introduces an economic plural model (in the sense of diverse cultural origins of economic activities), and its objectives are to increase quality of life and ensure the Vivir Bien.

To see how that translates into policies, read this speech that President Morales gave in June. Bolivia is a member of the Group of 77 plus China. As host of this year’s summit, Morales gave the opening talk. In it, policy ideas based on the principles of Vivir Bien are spelled out. I’m quoting snippets from each section. They will give you a taste of Vivir Bien. Read the entire thing to get a more comprehensive flavor.

First: We must move from sustainable development to comprehensive development [desarrollo integral] so that we can live well and in harmony and balance with Mother Earth.

Second: Sovereignty exercised over natural resources and strategic areas.

Countries that have raw materials should and can take sovereign control over production and processing of those materials.

Third: Well-being for everyone and the provision of basic services as a human right

Fourth: Emancipation from the existing international financial system and construction of a new financial architecture … We also need to define limits to gains from speculation and to excessive accumulation of wealth.

Fifth: Build a major economic, scientific, technological and cultural partnership among the members of the group of 77 plus China … Science must be an asset of humanity as a whole. Science must be placed at the service of everyone’s well-being, without exclusions or hegemonies.

Sixth: Eradicate hunger among the world’s peoples. It is imperative that hunger be eradicated and that the human right to food be fully exercised and enforced.

Seventh: Strengthen the sovereignty of states free from foreign interference, intervention and/or espionage. … For this reason, the UN Security Council must be abolished. Rather than fostering peace among nations, this body has promoted wars and invasions by imperial powers in their quest for the natural resources available in the invaded countries. Instead of a Security Council, today we have an insecurity council of imperial wars.

Eighth: Democratic renewal of our states. The era of empires, colonial hierarchies and financial oligarchies is coming to an end. Everywhere we look, we see peoples around the world calling for their right to play their leading role in history. … We must move away from limited parliamentary and party-based governance and into the social governance of democracy.

Ninth: A new world rising from the south for the whole of humanity. … In the past, we were colonized and enslaved. Our stolen labour built empires in the North. …
However, our liberation is not only the emancipation of the peoples of the South. Our liberation is also for the whole of humanity. We are not fighting to dominate anyone. We are fighting to ensure that no one becomes dominated.

“We are fighting to ensure that no one becomes dominated.” That’s a radical concept in today’s world, where domination is the name of the capitalist game.

Morales gave this speech to a gathering of more than 130 developing countries. (The Group of 77 was established in the 1960s, as a subset of the UN. It has grown to include 133, but they’ve kept the original name.) I highly recommend that you read the entire speech. He is speaking to countries who have bonded over their histories with “developed” nations. They are rising in solidarity to resist colonization, exploitation and financial domination. In doing so, they are emerging with a new vision of what the world can look like and how we can all live in harmony. I found myself feeling a little hope for humanity, as I read it.

That sense of hope comes not because of the speech alone. The speech would be only so many pretty but hollow words, but for the fact that Bolivia is living through this transformation. They have seen their economy strengthen.

This paper examines the Bolivian economy since President Evo Morales took office in 2006. It finds that Bolivia’s economic growth in the last four years has been higher than at any time in the last 30 years, averaging 4.9 percent annually since the current administration took office in 2006. Projected GDP growth for 2009 is the highest in the hemisphere and follows its peak growth rate in 2008.

And that is directly related to their rejection of capitalism:

Key to the Bolivian economy’s relative success has been expansionary fiscal policy and control over national resources, especially the hydrocarbons sector – a relatively recent development.

In the last three years the government has begun several programs targeted at the poorest Bolivians. These include payments to poor families to increase school enrollment; an expansion of public pensions to relive extreme poverty among the elderly; and most recently, payments for uninsured mothers to expand prenatal and post-natal care, to reduce infant and child mortality.

It hasn’t been without it’s hardships or opposition. Some of Bolivia’s regions have more individually held wealth than others. In a bid to redistribute wealth, those who have to give up relative power are always going to resist. There was an attempt to foment disapproval of Morales, by the wealthy class. They were able to force a national referendum for a no-confidence vote on his presidency. They lost that battle soundly: two-thirds of the population supported him. That’s a high approval rating in any circumstance, but given how much radical change they are undertaking, it’s even more impressive. (We’ve seen a similar trajectory with Venezuela, where the wealthy class have tried to spark widespread violence during any functional democratic protest or election. Yet, Venezuelans continue to choose the difficult path of transition away from capitalism, as they’ve seen their quality of life vastly improve.)

What Bolivia and Ecuador – who embedded their own Buen Vivir into their constitution – and Venezuela are doing is inspiring. More than that, in this age of communication, the signals they are sending out into the world are resonating. All of those who have been dominated have the means to reach out to each other and build solidarity, share ideas, support one another and build something new inside existing global socio-economic structures. As they do so, they will help hollow out the pillars of capitalism. More and more people will see the lack of values in capitalism and witness the quality of life improvement for those who eschew it. When capitalism finally collapses, Vivir Bien may be there to cushion the blow and guide us into a more sustainable and harmonious future.

If you’re looking for a likely alternative future for human social organizing, keep your eyes on the Global South, particularly South America. You might notice, more and more, that cutting edge statements and perspectives are emanating from there. In Uruguay, they elected the “world’s poorest president.” He was one of the most successful guerrilla leaders during the 60s and 70s, he donates 90% of his salary to charity and maintains a very humble lifestyle farming chrysanthemums. He simply doesn’t have the same worldview as leaders of industrialized nations.

In September 2013, Mujica addressed the United Nations General Assembly, with a very long discourse devoted to humanity and globalization.

Like Morales in Bolivia, he remains popular. South Americans have known the oppression of colonialism and they seem to be relishing their time of having their voice of resistance on the global stage. They are accepting the messiness of transition because that’s still better than economic slavery. Just as we can’t turn to the privileged classes here for radical change in our culture, we can’t turn to the “industrialized nations” for a radical change in the course of human sustainability. Those who benefit from things as they are, aren’t going to design a system which demands that they give up their privileges. So, as we try to bolster ourselves against the despair that the latest news cycle and ongoing US political discourse evokes in us, I recommend we look south. Watch what they’re doing. Signal solidarity with that which resonates and hope. Hope they lead us to some breakthroughs. For, as Morales says:

Only we can save the source of life and society: Mother Earth. Our planet is under a death threat from the greed of predatory and insane capitalism.

Today, another world is not only possible, it is indispensable.

Today, another world is indispensable because, otherwise, no world will be possible.

And that other world of equality, complementarity and organic coexistence with Mother Earth can only emerge from the thousands of languages, colours and cultures existing in brotherhood and sisterhood among the Peoples of the South.

He’s not out there preaching austerity to the masses. He’s not telling us that if we would stop being lazy moochers and become better capitalists, everything would be better. He’s not encouraging us to raise GDP and mortgage our lives away. He’s letting us know that there are a significant number of people in the world who see that we need a completely new direction. Enough people to elect him and Mujica (Uruguay) and Maduro (Venezuela) and Correa (Ecuador) and many of those in the Group of 77, to represent their voices and carry this message:

“Today, another world is indispensable because, otherwise, no world will be possible.”

AC Meetup: Mother’s Day and Humane Cat Herding–Know Our Rights and Fights! by Galtisalie

2:45 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

“Happy Mother’s Day” in many countries in the world. Hopefully you did not have to prepare a hormone-laden turkey dinner for eleven as in Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want” painting. I’m not an art critic, so no problem with his Thomas Kinkade style, but I never liked the composition of the painting, and now I pretty much hate it–it’s unchallenging paternalism, the grins, particularly of the younger men, the bourgeois crystal, linen, “silvah,” and china, unh-unh–it did not strike me as, shall we say, reflective of the seriousness of the challenge of resolving hunger in most of the world, or even of “coming out of” the Depression in the U.S. with a fledgling of a welfare state. What an incredible cultural missed opportunity to educate Amurrricans. On the other hand, we have to know our fights, and “our” rights will be met or unmet on tables both alike and unlike this one, and maybe we should suppose that those young men might indeed be overjoyed with the first feast they have had ever or in a long time. IMHO, best not to get too picky with our potential political allies in such matters. So, Norman, if you’re up there, hope you don’t mind my imaginative doctorin’; you did some good popularizing work on human decency, but in this case, thanks for nothing. I sort of love that, according to the most trusted name in news, in 1948 you voted for another Norman, Thomas, but you soon fell off that wagon (and by voting for him you in a tiny way almost helped throw the election to another Thomas, Dewey, and because I am a pragmatist on the left wing of the possible, I would not have liked to see that happen). I will not be holding any candles in your late afternoon-glow honor.

I will try to be at least a little more pro-system change in this diary than a Rockwell painting. This has turned into a socialized Mother’s Day wish directed equally to men and women–not to deprive mothers of deserved praise but in hope of one day achieving a world that will bring all women, and children and men too, freedom from want and fear, if not an occasional huge Butterball. If we want to achieve such a world we must first recognize the clear moral justification for it, something Rockwell completely missed, undoubtedly on purpose, and for that he is morally accountable in my accounting. This moral justification is the underpinning for “rights,” not hoped-for Thanksgiving Day bounty. However, “visualizing” our rights to freedom from want and fear, while incredibly important, is obviously not the same thing as “achieving” it. This diary is also about pursuing the most efficient and peaceful path to such a world. To be as efficient and peaceful as possible on the journey to a just and loving world, we need to know our fights as well as our rights. As many people as possible need to learn about humane “cat herding.”

I hesitated (not really) to raise this confusing cat-laden subject at a website that devotes a lot of cyberspace to cute kitty stories, and they are adorable, concerned that I would be rebutted with expertise about actual cat behavior, glorious traits, etc. In all seriousness, at the outset I do want to disclaim any intent to talk down to anyone, but especially the poor and their allies, by using this soon to be extremely tiresome cat herding motif, which will go on for several paragraphs and then abruptly end, I promise. It is just an illustrative tool. Please do not think that I think that any human beings, even the fat cats running our world, are actually less than full human beings and somehow lower forms of life, such as cats. That is not at all what I am trying to suggest. This diary will be clunky from start to finish, but it is with good intent, and not intended to disparage anyone by suggesting that I think any human beings are literally cats or “subhuman.”

Nor do I want to promote a “vanguard” approach to cat herding. I certainly do not mean to suggest that “the masses” are stupid, waiting around for a free turkey dinner, or even in need of external or hierarchical leadership. Rather, as I just stated in the above italicized sentence, “As many people as possible need to learn about humane ‘cat herding.’” Capital’s mercenaries, themselves the dominant cats in my illustration, are already herding us around with their sharp teeth and claws away from the world’s sustainable buffet table, which is derived from our rightful land. To defend ourselves and future humans justly and lovingly, we must learn to fight back efficiently while recognizing the inhumane but still all too human predilection for tribalism and susceptibility to the exploitative divisive tactics of the right.

I am endorsing and promoting the full democratization of cat herding. When we all become cat herders, the mercenaries will themselves be herded, if not declawed, and we will rise to our best non-Rockwellian expression of our inherent worth and beauty as human beings in full possession of HUMAN rights, not cat rights. And the only cats left will be the 1% or less, that’s right, the fat cats. All on the left have a role to play in deeply democratic cat herding. As much as possible, we all should become our leaders. We each, IMHO, have to figure out our most effective leadership role on one or more of the fronts against capital.

Women, whether they are mothers or not, often have been and still are forced to herd most of the cats. This typically reflects a desperate and unfair state of affairs antithetical to socialism, both in terms of the need for cat herding to begin with and in terms of the involuntary roles of women. Again, I am not advocating a vanguard of cat herders, whether composed of women or some secret society of enlightened cat herders. Certainly, if there is a need for cat herding, supplying this need should be equally done by men and women. However, I do believe that on the long journey to global deep democracy massive amounts of cat herding will be required and that when conscious united species beings arise with insistence to demand our HUMAN rights, most will naturally become cat herders wanting to make a positive difference in one way or another. In winning a global deep democratic revolution this special skill can at least partially be redeployed from internal nuclear family survival to external human family survival. Perhaps more women than men will in fact tend to lead the female and male “cats” of the world to “unite” and demand true freedom with full HUMAN rights.

Solidarity requires that beings formerly acting more like cats learn to cooperate in order that we may collectively lose our “chains” (Marx’s word). While “chains” is still an apt metaphor for the restraints on billions of women and other humans around the world, probably a better metaphor in many places is “the silver-inlaid concrete” of the paternalistic institutions imposed on us by the racist white males who have run our world for millennia, wrote the U.S. Constitution, and have since developed and imposed a system of global neoliberalism. So, let’s go with that. “Concrete,” as I use it, is something of a play on the word as used by Herbert Marcuse when he was giving a talk in 1966 about his late friend Paul Baran:

I would like to discuss the topic assigned to me by first dealing with Paul Baran’s critique of the social sciences. In his critique of the social sciences he emphasized the dialectical element in the Marxian method. The sentence he liked to quote again and again was “the truth is the whole.” To him it was a revolutionary principle of thought, because it broke with the fetishism and reification, with the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, prevalent in the social sciences, a pseudo-empiricism which in his view tended to make the objectivity of the social sciences a vehicle of apologetics and a defense of the status quo. Baran defined this dialectical principle negatively and I will read to you the definition, the short definition, he gives in “The Commitment of the Intellectual”: “The principle ‘the truth is the whole’—to use an expression of Hegel—carries with it, in turn, the inescapable necessity of refusing to accept as a datum or to treat as immune from analysis, any single part of the whole.”

I would like to supplement this negative definition by a positive one to the effect that in and for the social sciences every particular phenomenon, every particular condition, every particular trend, in a given society must be analyzed and evaluated in terms of its relations to the whole, i.e., to the established social order. Isolated from this whole the respective phenomenon, condition, or trend remains a false, at least incomplete, and inconclusive datum concealing rather than revealing its true place and function in the social order. The social order itself, the social order as a concrete whole, is determined and defined for Baran following Marx by the material process of social reproduction and by the hierarchy of functions and values established in this social process of production. But the concrete relation between any particular fact, datum, condition, or trend, on the one side, and the whole social order, on the other, is never a direct and immediate one. It is always established through various intermediate factors, agencies, and powers, among them psychological factors, the family as agent of society, the mass media, language, images prevalent in a society, and so forth.
(Footnote omitted.)

In politically but not economically “democratic” nation states, we are supposed to make-believe that the silver-inlaid concrete of the paternalistic institutions all around us are sufficiently malleable to be in our best interests; and that we can “participate” on an equal footing in national or sub-national elections, and maybe even national or sub-national court proceedings now and then, and these institutions can somehow be conformed to “our” satisfaction, consistent with free market supremacy of course. All this deception is intended to ensure that “the gold” of the world stays with the fat cats, and that the workplaces and fields of the world are producing that “gold” and not the gold of grains for hungry mouths to feed and other useful things.

No, “Brother Francisco,” aka Galtisalie, did not get into the bad acid again. I do tend to mix and match my metaphors like unto a tie-dye shirt. (“You think,” the generous manage to chuckle.) Again, I did not intend to make this a “Mother’s Day” message at all. I, a privileged male, have no qualifications to address women of the Deep South of the U.S., where I live, on Mother’s Day or any other day, much less the women of the world. But I am going to try anyway to address women as well as men, crummy metaphors and all. While I am hopeful that men in general will become truly free leaders deserving of the words in the revolutionary future, I know enough to doubt that men generally have the best stuff “to lead” our world any longer, and I am begging women of the left to error on the side of democratically taking over elective and other leadership positions before it is too late. I am not pandering, or giving up my own right to vote and otherwise participate in the forms available to me in these flawed institutions. I simply have the honesty to admit that men have messed up the world big time, so I reject on the basis of abundant evidence any paternalistic mindset as a qualification for leadership and look for leadership far outside of that paradigm. While I am not asking for a substitution of maternalism for paternalism, “far outside” of paternalism points me in the direction of the hearts and minds of women of the left.

I am definitely not trying to say I can tell women of the left what their priorities should be, as concerns for instance, the relative weight any or all should give to the class struggle versus “women’s” struggles. I know from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man that it is unfair for “white people,” even well-meaning white people of the left, to seek to impose a world view on African Americans. Similarly, it is unfair for me, a male, to seek to impose a world view on females–on this or any other day of the year. When I say, “know our rights and our fights,” I am not trying to pre-determine the rights and the fights that are most important to you. For one woman at any point in time, the most important right may be the right not to be attacked or beaten by an abusive person, for another it may be the right to reproductive freedom. But, whatever your most important of our rights, you and I must know how to build unity to assure that they and hence we are protected. So, I hope that this diary will, without seeming to dictate “rights and fights,” help to identify “fronts” where the rights and fights most important to you, whatever they are, may be vindicated.

I certainly did not intend to talk to my comrades about cats. I am not at all suggesting that cats disprove dialectical materialism. Rather, “they,” (i.e., the cats a narrow “we” in the “wealthy” pet-keeping and powerful, typically northern, portions of the world, such as the Deep South of the U.S., typically think of when “we” think of cats, i.e., puddy tats which are well-fed and domesticated), seem to have a lot of priorities that are not measurable in caloric intake. (They do not truly need to eat Tweety, if you will–head spinning, stay with cat motif and away from birds.) While greedy capital runs the human world, focusing on the emotion of fear, in the “they” cat world pride and aloofness seems to be dominant.

My cat-related thesis begins first with the observation that because humans who reach high levels of capitalist power, be it in the, now transnational, “business world” or in the silver-inlaid concrete institutions that serve capital, be they the true fat cats or merely their handsome mercenary cats, do not fear where their next meal is coming from, when they are not purely motivated by greed at the behest of capital at their best tend to behave like well-fed spoiled-rotten self-centered cats. They use the walls of the halls of the silver-inlaid concrete institutions as posts to scratch their claws. Second, billions of hungry cats around the world are in a severely weakened and fearful state, and perhaps a billion or two more are comparably just enough more comfortable to still be extremely fearful of losing the extra that is “theirs.” These combined billions are unlikely to depose the cat powers that be, at least without a “united” effort, which these institutions are designed to prevent; so they need to build their own new institutions as much as possible, both locally where they live and globally to unite and self-humanize, with full HUMAN rights, cats everywhere. IMHO, the world-wide cat-human revolution primarily needs to take place on the ground level, wherever we can put our paws on the actual earth, and at the international level, where the silver-inlaid concrete is not quite completely dried. Third, because even ideally “conscious” masses of cat-humans cannot have full access and control of the earth and its resources without deeply changing national and sub-national institutions which undercut deep local and global democracy, and because we have to survive during a long revolution for there to be a successful revolution, we must continue to participate and in fact try to take over the very institutions that are most rigid so that we can eventually, somehow, someway, fundamentally change them to the extent they deserve to continue in existence.

For humanity, penned in by oppressive and repressive capitalist institutions, to accomplish great things for itself by all appearances will require great skill at cat herding. Being herded is against the nature of cats. The most archetypal domesticated felines are the least cooperative. Some well-fed cats perhaps can be made to cooperate if they do not realize they are being herded and can instead receive particularly tasty warm milk or stroking, but generally speaking, well-fed cats could not give a flip about where a well-meaning human wants them to go. Once in a while, however, through enormous effort and skill, all the necessary herding takes place to present a quorum or win an election and thereby accomplish something for some of the rest of the cat-human world.

The temptation on the left has sometimes been simply to call all of this faux democratic quorum-seeking, electioneering, and judge-justice appointment-seeking out for all of the bullshit that it is, because out there, outside the halls of power, billions of cats are not well-fed, and we cannot wait on behalf of the hungry, that is not our right. While I understand this, I do not think that we (the broader and inclusive non-fat cat “we”) can avoid cat-herding. Thankfully, with anarcho-socialism at the base of my ideal world, and even today in some places, we can potentially say, “screw you fat cats” to a limited degree and build our own new truly democratic and non-autocratic institutions of cooperation. But the fat cats do not want these oases of freedom to exist. So, in order to get to build most of our cooperatives, etc., we are going to have to have a “revolution” by most of the non-fat cats. And, that revolution will involve all manner of cat herding, not only of the proletariat cat-humans but also of the fat cats themselves, as well as the robust cats who form the mercenaries protecting the fat cats, as well as the not currently starving but fearful cats who form the bulk of the population in the so-called developed world, where they have civil and political rights entitling them to vote on the mercenaries.

In 1948, an older version of the above good woman and cat herder par excellence [No more cat talk--Phew!], was instrumental in the adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration had arisen gradually as an outgrowth of the organizing of the UN at the 1945 San Francisco Conference (chaired by a U.S. diplomat, Alger Hiss). According to the U.S. State Department (which has purged Hiss’s involvement from its website, perhaps to deflect the rightwing charge that the UN is part of a festering communist conspiracy if not the work of the Anti-Christ), FDR’s goal was “preserving peace,” which in turn built upon the (KKK-supporting) Woodrow Wilson’s goal to do the same in the League of Nations, which isolationist Republicans would not allow the U.S. to join.

Ironically, many nation states in the “free world,” the U.S. included (whose 32nd president had given freedom a fuller voice eleven months before Pearl Harbor), did not want to agree that freedom from want and fear were human rights. Many others on both sides of the Cold War and unaligned did. the Eleanor Roosevelt papers project provides an excellent short synopsis of the back and forth, including this important acknowledgement of socialism:

The covenant’s provisions clearly reflect the socialist emphasis on economic rights, which is what the General Assembly had intended when it took the matter up in 1951. As a result, the United States and other western democracies remained unconvinced of the covenant’s merits and refused to ratify it. Despite a lack of support from these countries, however, the covenant entered into force on January 3, 1976 for those states that had approved it. As of 2002, the United States had still not ratified the covenant.

The end result is a Committee, whoopee, which I will describe in detail in a future diary, but which I will mostly link to at this point:

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties. The Committee was established under ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17 of 28 May 1985 to carry out the monitoring functions assigned to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Part IV of the Covenant.

Dispute exists as to what authority the committee has (see, e.g.,, but I think that it provides the left with its best focal point on the official international front, including by pointing out the committee’s many major institutional flaws and limitations.

In the end, we can each do what the balance sheet of each day we have allows. We morally can only be sacrificial with our own individual bellies and not those of other human beings. The capitalists use this, our morality of human compassion, against us through the principle of divide and conquer, to defeat solidarity. Some of us may have intentionally eschewed “family” or other small bound grouping of two or more people, sought one and been denied one by fate, or we may have a family or other small bound grouping, in which case it has to chew. Maybe our immediate family is us and a real cat. Maybe our small bound grouping is “traditional” nuclear, communal, or some other combination of mouths to feed, but no matter what, we don’t want to see it starve. Finite resources meet x number of mouths to feed around the table, however we define it, a number which we, with the varied influence of our bodies, societies, and subcultures, determine to varying degrees. But it is these mouths to feed that we probably care about most, in all honesty, because we have to look them in the eye when they are in hunger or fear. And to fear that we will not be able to feed them is our greatest fear.

Life is weird. In the midst of writing this diary, I have been reading about the Ludlow Massacre a lot in JayRaye’s incredible diaries at Hellraisers Journal. And the same week, an Irish socialist friend put on his Facebook page the unforgettable defiant picture of Stepjan Filopovic, the Yugoslavian Communist Martyr, whose last words were “Smrt fašizmu, sloboda narodu!” (“Death to fascism, freedom to the people!”)

We never know when we may be on our last day or our last diary. Most of us will not have to lose our lives in the cause like the Ludlow Martyrs or Mr. Filopovic. The striking workers of southern Colorado were not seeking a fight but merely the right to organize and seek a modicum of justice for their families. If we are part of a small bound grouping, we may like them stand up for our rights–or we may become risk averse, or we may suffer from the PTSD of living on a capitalist-dominated earth which makes us “shell” shocked. So we may not be able or willing to put our lives on the line like they did. But, even though the things most of us do will likely not get us killed for standing up for the powerless, maybe that is more of an indictment than we would like to admit. I hope I have many days, and even decades to go, and many diaries. I hope you do too. A doctor told me the other day that, as a left-handed male, my subpopulation is statistically non-existent at the age of 80 (so maybe I do have a ways to go, and if I stop driving at a sensible age, maybe I won’t hurt myself or someone else), primarily because it is so accident prone, a personal tendency I cannot deny. Whatever the future holds, I am glad to be able to write this diary and have you with me on this beautiful planet. I am so grateful to this group and to Hellraisers Journal for making me feel true solidarity in the cause in which we believe. Down heah in the Deep South of the U.S., we don’t get that feeling much, and in fact, the whole concept of “we” is suspect.

I hope that this diary synthesizes some important concepts in a simple and understandable manner. I intend to work with my comrades on the fronts that this diary raises to the best of my ability for the duration, whatever that is, unless I am reassigned by socialism “learnin’ me” something else that makes more sense. ¡Viva la Revolución!

The tension between political democracy’s “negative” rights and economic democracy’s “positive” rights has never been resolved and may never completely be. But “we” have to try. Whichever system best resolves it may win the hearts, minds, and stomachs of humanity. Repression is the natural domain of the powerful few, who purchase military might and mercenaries to get their way over the masses. Absent repression, the left has the overwhelming advantage in this greatest of all contests. Because of constant repression by the right, the left will have to fight in newfound human solidarity on multiple fronts for its reformed deeply democratic message to prevail. Our blood and resources should not be spent on capitalism’s wars, at home or abroad.

We need to keep our own house in order so that never again will committed leftists wonder which side of a “Cold War” they should be on. However, we must be realistic and realize that the capitalists exploit civil and political rights to divide and conquer. Solidarity is our friend and capitalism’s enemy. To live in solidarity, we must know our rights and our fights.

Republicanism, beginning with the U.S. Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, came to be associated with civil and political rights. However, this paradigm has always been manipulated by the wealthy as a matter of their convenience, for whom true democracy of the polity and the economy has always been a grave threat to their privileges. Many who have been exploited and their allies–Native Peoples, African Americans, the poor of all ethnicities, women, GLBTs, labor martyrs and hellraisers, Mother Jones, Eugene Debs et al., countless victims of Eugene McCarthy, non-”Anglo” immigrants past, today’s undocumented workers, and the families and descendants of the victims of U.S. and U.S. puppet bombs, bullets, torture, murder, and dirty tricks the world over–readily can dispute the paradigm that the U.S. is a credible and virtuous purveyor of civil and political freedom. Meanwhile, through weak social welfare programs won by the left, some of the poor in the U.S. receive some state “charity,” but never under the rubric of “economic rights,” while “labor rights” to organize and use direct action against capital have been viciously denied and, when won in some regions, constantly undercut.

In a sad parallel, “real” socialism under Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s People’s Republic of China also did not practice what it preached. It was supposed to deliver economic rights while making “capitalist” civil and political rights obsolete. Stalin’s show trials, brutal repression of millions of his own people as well as the anarchists and Trotskyites in 1930s Spain, and immoral temporary alliance with Hitler himself put conscientious leftists in a questioning and compromised position for generations. We have never fully gotten over it. While the Soviet Union provided some economic justice, it allowed some piggish behavior by the guardians of economic equality (piggish behavior which has, of course, dramatically increased with the dispensing with “outdated” socialist concepts and the adoption of capitalism in these places–although even today, North Korea is a shining example of state monopoly capitalist totalitarianism at its worst, providing no civil and political freedom and mass exploitation on behalf of the elite, with special privileges to the military.) Moreover, through some monumentally stupid central planning decisions, Stalin and Mao managed to buttress Ronald Reagan’s now Lafferble voo doo notion that the poor might somehow be better off if they only got pissed on more–a notion that, while thoroughly disproved, now rules the world through global neoliberalism.

The powerful few are destroying our one beautiful world long before an asteroid or the life cycle of the sun do it for us. With global warming and endless human suffering, humanity has no time to dither. The good answers are on the left. But until the left is able to communicate a just and loving future for humanity, and focus and unite in pursuit of this future, it will be treated as an anachronism by all but the desperate and their morally-devoted allies.

It is my ultimate thesis that by sincerely espousing an updated and greatly expanded version of FDR’s “four” freedoms, and coupling this with a modified praxis recognizing four challenging but unavoidable fronts in the battle for true freedom, the left can do just that.

Here is a hopefully handy-dandy chart:

And here is a good tune:

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Gay Marriage – Fools Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tread by Geminijen

3:20 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Last week the decision in Ohio broadening the scope of gay marriage put one more nail in the coffin of homophobic culture and was a win for equal rights– or was it? Don’t get me wrong. I am in full support of gay marriage and everyone having the same civil rights. The trouble with fighting for a civil reform is that we are fighting for the right to be included in the existing system and that doesn’t take into account the fact that we are basically fighting for the right to be as f**ked up as everybody else.

The movement for gay marriage came out of the gay movement which came out of the male gay culture. The agenda of this movement for social change has always focused on reform demands for the same civil rights (i.e., gay marriage) that the heterosexual community already has.

Then along came the lesbian feminist movement calling, not for the right to assimilate into traditional gender roles, but the elimination of those roles altogether; eliminating the assumptions that women should be submissive and challenging the basis of marriage entirely since it had originated as an institution in which men literally bought and owned women, their labor and their children.

Although the majority of states that have weighed in still ban gay marriage, there are 17-19 states (depending on how you are counting) that have now legalized gay marriage. The most common way has been through the courts, though a couple of states have been through legislative votes and in recent years all the decisions and votes have been going in the right direction (for legalizing gay marriage).

The dominant liberal media has been strongly behind the LGBT community on this issue. None of the problems or oppressive social structures that have been associated with the nuclear family seem to make it into the media as we watch the two little old ladies who have lived together for 50 years finally gain social respectability and generous tax breaks as they take their vows, or the two gorgeous young men who just put out $500,000 for a fabulous destination wedding. Most recently, the media has been touting “statistics” that show that gay marriages have less divorces than straight marriages.

In fact many young heterosexual people are waiting longer and longer periods to marry, if they choose to marry at all, and the number of divorces for heterosexual marriages hovers around 50%. And the data that is currently being aggressively promoted by the media to show that homosexual and lesbian marriages are more stable is laughable given the lack of statistics or very small samples over very small periods of time that are available.

So why the rush by the media and the dominant culture to support gay marriage? Even a few Republicans have gotten on board (which really makes me suspicious given how in every other area of my life the Republican platform’s interests have been directly opposed to my interests)? Is it a sincere desire to accept gay folks for who we are or is it more about shoring up and reinforcing the failing institution of marriage? And why is marriage so important to them? Of all the policies issues we as a LGBT community could focus on, is Gay Marriage actually our first choice or is this the main LGBT policy issue because the dominant culture picked it for us?

I can hear the comments, even from anti-capitalists, now: It’s another one of those picky humorless Lesbian Feminists who just won’t give it a rest. OK, it’s only a reform, but it’s hard out there in a capitalist world and why can’t we just get a few tax breaks now with out this ridiculous harangue? Besides, I finally found my one true love and we want to proclaim it to the world like everyone else. We’ll get rid of the nuclear family after the socialist revolution.

Even I have occasionally drunk the Kool Aid. I remember when I was in graduate school writing whole treatises on the evils of the nuclear family, I went to a Bette Midler concert with my girlfriend where, with an entire concert hall of other lesbians, we held hands, and with tears in our eyes, loudly joined in the refrain:

“We’re going to the chapel and we’re going to married,
we’re going to the chapel and going to get maaaried,
we’re going to the chapel and we’re going to get maaarried,
we’re going to the chapel of love!”

(The repeats are necessary to get the full emotional effect)

What we do and don’t get out of Gay Marriage on both the personal and policy level.

On a personal level, the most important advantages of gay marriage to me would be 1) the tax breaks (over 400) that I would get and the other legal conveniences such as hospital visiting rights, joint insurance, etc; 2) sharing the rent and utilities, the cleaning, etc.; being able to roll over and have an intimate relationship without having to go out and look for it. But all of these things could be available to me in a domestic partnership (if, in fact, the states gave all the same rights to domestic partnerships as marriages). What I couldn’t get is the social respectability that comes with two people signing up for a lifelong monogamous relationship that only comes with marriage sanctified by God and shows that I am an adult capable of a committed adult relationship — otherwise why would there be two separate categories if one was not better than the other? Like marriage is like the black belt of relationships.

I kind of resent this because, personally, when I was married, I tended to find the two by two Noah’s Ark relationship kind of isolating. One of the things I enjoyed most about the Lesbian community was that the very fact that marriage was not available to us, led to the development of more alternative types of arrangements. While plenty of women did live in couples similar to heterosexual marriages, many lived in relationships which involved three or more people. Also I found that many of us found our best friends and most committed relationships were with ex-lovers. Kind of like a community of sisters (think Sister Sledge and We Are Family).

I also find that in marriage, because of its origin in heterosexual marriages, there is a tendency to sometimes mimic the gender roles (who is the husband? Who is the wife?). Since the traditional marital relationship was also based on extreme inequality where the husband literally “owned” the wife, some of this power inequality also filters into gay marriages even though it not legally mandated in modern marriages.

Besides reinforcing the inequality between the two people in the relationship, marriage reinforces and magnifies other forms of inequality. For one, single people (who constitute and increasing percentage of the population) do not get the tax breaks or other financial benefits society bestows on marriage. Also, if two men marry, since men in a patriarchal society still make more money and accumulate more wealth than women, are likely to end up in a more upscale lifestyle than if two women marry since our incomes are lower. Moreover, if there are children (which is true in most cases) the women are more likely to be the custodial parents than the men and have to bear the labor and monetary costs this implies.

My personal policy solution would be to shore up civil unions that would in fact be equal to the advantages of marriage but would not 1)be based on sexual relations or required monogamy. In such cases, two single friends could apply, a grandma raising her nieces child could apply, several people in whatever kind of relationship (sexual or not)could apply.

Such a legal structure would further, if there are children involved, provide a stipend to the “parents” for raising the children. This would eliminate the blatantly unequal financial start children have in life, depending on what private nuclear family they were born into.

Speaking of focusing on private versus publicly funded solutions to our personal economic relationships, I think it is important to understand that capitalism is intent on preserving private arrangements for reproducing the next generation of children (i.e., marriage) because it gets them off the hook for paying for the necessary public services (childcare, physical nurturing, etc) to reproduce the next generation and greatly increases capitalism’s profits.

So let’s get marriage out of the public domain and leave it to the religious sphere where it belongs and focus our energies on civil unions.

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Annie Clemenc and the Italian Hall Massacre by JayRaye

3:31 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Annie Takes Up Her Flag

Ana K Clemenc
Ana K Clemenc

On July 23, 1913, 9,000 copper miners of the Keweenaw laid down their tools and walked off the job. The were led by the great Western Federation of Miners, and they had voted by a good majority for a strike: 9,000 out of 13,000 The main issue were hours, the miners wanted an eight hour day, wages, and safety. The miners hated the new one-man drill which they called the “widow-maker.” They claimed this drill made an already dangerous job more dangerous.

The mining companies had steadfastly refused to recognize the Western Federation of Miners in anyway. They would continue to refuse all efforts at negotiation or arbitration, even those plans for arbitration which did not include the union, and this despite the best efforts of Governor Ferris, and the U. S. Department of Labor. James MacNaughton, general manger of Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, famously stated that grass would grow in the streets and that he would teach the miners to eat potato parings before he would negotiate in any way with the striking miners.

The Keweenaw Peninsula was a cold, windy place, jutting out into Lake Superior from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This area was known as the Copper Country of Michigan and included Calumet Township of Houghton County, with the twin towns of Hancock and Houghton ten miles to the south. Calumet Township included the villages of Red Jacket and Laurium.

It was here in Red Jacket, on the third day of the strike that Annie Clemenc, miner’s daughter and miner’s wife took up a massive America flag and led an early morning parade of 400 striking miners and their families. Annie Clemenc was six feet tall, and some claimed she was taller than that by two inches. The flag she carried was so massive that it required a staff two inches thick and ten feet tall. The miners and their supporters marched out of the Italian Hall and through the streets of the Red Jacket to the Blue Jacket and Yellow Jacket mines. They marched silently, without a band, lined up three and four abreast. These early morning marches, with Annie and her flag in the lead, were to become a feature of the strike.

Picket Duty Honored in Spite of Danger

Strikers' march, MI copper strike 1913

Early on in the strike, MacNaughton put extreme pressure on Sheriff Cruse to request that the Governor send in the National Guard. MacNaughton was a member of the Houghton County Board, a Board dominated by mine operators. Sheriff Cruse owed his job to this board, and Cruse obeyed MacNaughton’s order. The entire Michigan National Guard was sent into the strike zone, over 2,000 men. The County Board also contracted with the Waddell-Mahon strikebreaking agency from New York. Soon private gunthugs began pouring into the Keweenaw. These thugs worked hand-in-hand with Cruse, although, technically he was prevented from deputizing them according to Michigan state law. Scores of mine bosses and scabs were deputized and armed, however, 1700 in all, by some accounts

The early morning parades, which the strikers and their families regarded as picket duty, became much more dangerous. Nevertheless the parades continued. Every morning at 6 a. m. as the scabs were going to work in the mines, they were forced to face the fellow workers whom they were betraying. On Sundays, the parades were held later, after church, with everyone dressed in their Sunday best. Annie came dressed all in white. Streamers flowed down from the mast of her flag on each side and were held by little girls, also dressed in white.

Ana Clemenc, a Young Leader

Socialist Party Pin
Socialist Party Pin

Annie was born to George and Mary Klobuchar on March 2, 1888 in Red Jacket, the first of five children born to the couple. Her parents were Slovenian immigrants; her father worked in the copper mines. In May of 1906, at the age of 18, she married Joe Clemenc, a copper miner like her father. They made their home in Red Jacket not far from Annie’s parents and the two younger brothers still living at home. The entire extended family was active in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

In 1910, Annie was elected President of the People’s Slovenian Women’s Lodge #128 of the SNJP, Slovenska Narodna Podporna Jednota (Slovene National Benefit Society.) She was only 22 years old at the time. She would continue as President of Lodge #128 until 1914, listed in the records as Ana Clemenc, President. Annie was also a member of the JSZ, Jugoslojvanska Socialisticna Zveza (Yugoslav Socialist Federation) which was affiliated with the Socialist Party of America. There are photos of Annie during the strike, wearing her Socialist Party pin.

From Proletarec


The editor of Proletarec (Proletarian), Frank Savs, came from Chicago to the strike zone to cover the strike. Proletarec was the official voice of the JSZ. This story, by “Striker,” was published September 2nd:

The women who carried flags in front of us, they laughed out loud every time the soldiers got mixed up; their screams and claps echoed throughout the city.

We noticed one morning, when we were going to march, the Waddell bastards driving around fast in cars-the deputy superintendent riding with them-going from mine to mine and gathering together scabs, who were dressed in overalls and carrying their lamps. They collected around 40 scabs and showed them to us by the road, thinking it would take away our courage. But they got it badly wrong. When we marched past them and their bosses, we began to laugh heartily and make fun of them. We asked one another, so that the bosses could hear: “Where’s the one thousand and two thousand scabs, the mine owners always talk about? Are these all you can show?”

After completing the march we went to the Italian Hall. Organizer Strizic suggested that women now speak in various languages, which we approved with applause. Ana Klemenc and Katarina Junko spoke in Slovenian.

Mrs. Klemenc recommended that the women should make the effort with all our strength to help our husbands in the battle to victory, because victory will also benefit women and children. Degenerate men, scabs, will fail the women and children…

a translation


Women on the picket line, MI copper strike 1913
Women With Their Fighting Clothes On

Annie was arrested Wednesday, September 10th, in Calumet along with five other women. As they attempted to convince a miner not to go back to work, the women were accosted by Cruse’s deputies. The women fought back against the deputies but were, eventually, arrested. Three hundred supporters followed behind the women as they were taken to the Calumet jail. The crowd remained outside the jail for two hours, cheering loudly for their release.

The crowd followed the six women as they were taken to the court of Judge William Fisher, and the cheering began again as Annie, Maggie Aggarto, and the four other women were released on their own recognizance. The women came out of the court undaunted, shouting and clapping their hands. They marched down the street with their supporters following behind cheering and shouting.

The six women were ordered to appear again in court the next week.

“If this flag will not protect me, then I will die with it.”

Big Annie leads parade of striking copper miners.

Just days a few days later, Annie was found, back in the thick of the fight. On the following Monday morning, September 13th, she led a march of 1,000 strikers and many women supporters through the streets of Calumet as was her usual routine. At the corner of Eighth and Elm, they were confronted by the militia and armed deputies. A soldier on horseback used his saber to knock her flag from her grasp. A striker came to her aid and was pushed to the ground by another soldier who ripped the silk fabric of the flag as he slashed about with his sword.

Annie was also knocked to the ground. The flag was stomped into the mud by the horses of the guardsmen. Big Annie hung on to the flag as soldiers tried to take it from her, shouting:

Kill me! Run your bayonets and sabers through this flag and kill me, but I won’t move. If this flag will not protect me, then I will die with it.

Annie was rescued by other marchers and escaped with only a bayonet blow to the right wrist. The strikers’ march was driven back by soldiers on horseback and by the rifle butts of infantrymen. Deputies joined in on the attack swinging their clubs. The strikers and their supporters retreated to the Italian Hall with Big Annie and her flag, now muddied and slashed.


1913 MI National Guard on Horseback

On Wednesday October 1st, Annie was arrested yet again, this time by a Major Harry Britton. Annie was marching at the head of 400 strikers, carrying her huge American flag as usual. They were on their way to perform picket duty at the mines when they were stopped by deputies and cavalrymen with Major Britton in command.

Major Britton attempted to arrest Annie, claiming she spit at a scab. When the Major used his sword to beat back a striker who came to Annie’s aid, other strikers joined in the fray. Cavalrymen then charged into the midst of the strikers. Major Britton bragged:

Excited horses prancing about are the best weapons.

He describe the results with satisfaction:

..a striker with his head bleeding, blood flowing down over his shirt, [was] half-staggering along the road.

Annie was arrested along with nine others. Annie was released the next day, and went immediately to union headquarters to lead another strikers’ march with her immense American flag.

“Woman’s Story”

Miners Bulletin

This account of picked duty was written by Annie Clemenc and published October 2nd on the front pate of the Miners’ Bulletin, the official voice of the W. F. of M. within the strike zone:

At Seventh Street Tuesday morning a party of strikers met a man with a dinner bucket. I asked him: “Where are you going, partner?” He replied: “To work.” “Not in the mine are you?” “You bet I am.” after talking with him a while his wife came and took him down the street. She seemed very much afraid.

He had just gone when a couple of Austrians came along with their buckets. I stepped up to one I knew: “O! George, you are not going to work, are You? Come, stay with us. Don’t allow that bad woman to drive you to work. Stick to us and we will stick to you.” He stepped back, willing to comply with my request.

Then the deputies came, caught him by the shoulder and pushed him along, saying: “You coward, are you going back because a woman told you not to go to work?” The deputies, some eight or ten of them, pulled him along with them.

A militia officer, I think it was General Abbey, said: “Annie, you have to get away from here.” “No, I am not going. I have a right to stand here and quietly ask the scabs not to go to work.”

I was standing to one side of the crowd and he said: “You will have to get in the auto.” “I won’t go until you tell me the reason.” Then he made me get in the auto. I kept pounding the automobile with my feet and asking what I was being taken to jail for. The officer said: “Why don’t you stay at home?” “I won’t stay at home, my work is here, nobody can stop me. I am going to keep at it until this strike is won.” I was kept in jail from six-thirty until twelve, then released under bond.



On October 6th, Annie led a parade of 500 children through the streets of Calumet. These were the the children of copper miners who had been on strike for eleven long weeks. One little fellow carried a sign which sums up the entire struggle:


Many of the children were willing to face truancy charges in order to make this show of support for their fathers. The kept press was quick to seize on the story, declaring in lurid headlines:


The fact that these young children were suffering hunger and deprivation had not bothered these same newspapers. Neither had they bothered themselves with worry over the fact that these same children often lost their fathers in mining accidents which were, tragically, all too frequent in Michigan’s Copper Country.

“Annie Clemenc, an American Joan of Arc”

In the October 8th edition of Day Book, N. D. Cochran profiled Annie. The article was written at the time that Annie was in jail:

I have met Annie Clemenc. I have talked with her. I have seen her marching along the middle of the street, carrying that great American flag. She is a striking figure, strong, with firm but supple muscles, fearless, ready to die for a cause.

A militia officer said to me, “If McNaughton could only buy Big Annie, he could break the strike.” I don’t believe all the millions of dividends taken out of the Calumet and Hecla mine could buy her.

I walked fully two miles with her…and I thought what glorious men and women America would produce if there were millions of mothers like Annie Clemenc. I thought that one Annie Clemenc, miner’s wife, was worth thousands of James McNaughtons.

Annie Clemenc is more of an American in my esteem than the spineless but well-meaning governor of Michigan. And as manhood goes, she’s more of a man in fighting quality, in sand, in courage, in heroism than Governor Ferris.

If Annie Clemenc is in that dirty little jail now, the American flag would be better off on top of that jail than over some courthouse. Where she is there is love of liberty and courage to fight for it. Annie Clemenc isn’t afraid to die.

This article was later reprinted in the Miners’ Bulletin, and in labor newspapers across the country. Big Annie Clemenc of Calumet was becoming a heroine to workers across the nation.

From the El Paso Herald:

Calumet, Mich., Nov. 8.-During a fierce blizzard which brought between eight and ten inches of snow in the Calumet copper mining region today, the striking miners and their wives and daughters paraded in half a dozen towns. A party of 100 strikers, led by Mrs. Annie Clemenc, established pickets around mining properties here. Eighty were arrested on a charge of violating the federal court’s injunction against picketing. They were released on their own recognizance to appear in court next week.

From the Miners’ Bulletin

The story of Annie’s conviction was printed in the November 15th edition:

The case of Mrs. Annie Clemenc of Calumet charged with assault and battery (pushing an insulting scab off the sidewalk), tried in the circuit court at Houghton last week, resulted in her being found guilty as charged. The incident occurred at Calumet during the early days of the strike, and had it occurred at any other time would not have received passing notice, but during these turbulent times, a scab, being a very precious article must not be disturbed. Mrs. Clemenc has been under bonds since her preliminary hearing which will be maintained until she receives her sentence in January.

The names and addresses of the twelve men finding her guilty were also published.

Planning a Christmas Party for the Children

The Calumet Women’s Auxiliary had been organized in September. It was granted a charter as #15, and each woman who joined, became a card-carrying member of the Western Federation of Miners.The women soon began planning a Christmas party for the children of the strikers to be held on Christmas Eve at the Italian Hall in Red Jacket. The afternoon party for the children was to be followed by a party for the adults in the evening. As president of #15, Annie, took the lead in planning for the event, and she raised donations to buy gifts for the children. Candy, hats, mittens, and toys were purchased. For many of the striker’s children, these would be their only Christmas presents.

The Man Who Cried Fire

Citizens Alliance Button, Michigan Copper Strike 1913

The party began at 2 p. m. as planned. Elin Lesh was at the front door checking for union cards. At 3 p. m. went inside the hall to assist Annie at the stage. There was a Christmas program and, after that, the children where able to come onto the stage to get their presents. Annie and her helpers had some difficulty in getting the children to come onto the stage in an orderly way, and Annie warned the children to wait their turn. There was a lot of noise and confusion in the hall which was crowed with about 700 people, perhaps 500 of them children.

At about 4:40 pm, a man came up the stairs. On his left, at the top of stairs, were double doors leading into the main hall. He went through those doors, and just inside the main hall, he cried, “Fire, Fire.” The man then ran down the stairs, out of the building, and disappeared down the street. The man was wearing a hat pulled down low with the brim over his eyes; he had on a long coat with the collar pulled up, and on his coat was pinned a Citizens Alliance button. The Citizens Alliance was anti-union vigilante organization sponsored by the mine operators.

The cry of fire was picked up, and a panic started with a rush for the stairs which lead to the exit at the front of the building. Within just a few minutes that stairway was packed with party goers, many of them suffocating in the crush. The stairway was packed 6 feet deep at the bottom of the stairs, and for the entire length of the stairs-30 feet. The stairway was 5 feet 9 inches wide.

Silent Night

Italian Hall Massacre

Charles Meyers, who ran a shop downstairs was the first to arrive. He came through the front doors to the second doors at the bottom of the stairs. These doors were open and did not open inward, as so many now believe. Meyers could clearly see that people were trapped and suffocating. He attempted to pull some children free but that proved impossible. He made his way upstairs through a window and continued to assist with the rescue. Dominic Vairo came from his saloon downstairs and had very much the same experience.

The Red Jacket fire station received the first alarm at 4:45 pm, and the fire fighters were on the scene within a few minutes. The fire whistle was also used to call forth the mobs of the Citizens Alliance, the Waddell men, and the deputies. And soon the street outside of the Italian Hall was filled with gunthugs. Frantic relatives and friends of those inside also began to gather. There is no evidence that any of the gunthugs held the doors shut, but the deputies and Waddell men were none to gentle in the way in which they pushed back on the crowd. A Finnish man was severely beaten. Some inside the hall later stated that they thought the deputies had come to kill them all.

As Annie and the women at the stage realized the calamity that was upon them, they first attempted to quiet the panic, and then began to help with the rescue effort. The untangling of the bodies could only be done from the top of the stairs. It was long slow work, lasting for more than an hour. And when it was finished, the bodies of 62 children and 11 adults were laid out on the floor of the hall with some outside in the snow. Annie later remembered:

…a deputy gave me a child. I poured some water on it, but it was dead already.

Out on the street was big Joe Mihelchich kneeling in the snow and sobbing before the bodies of his three children, Paul-5, Agnes-7, and Elizabeth-9. Joe was well remembered as the giant who had tossed deputies around like toys as they tried to arrest him, threatening them and everyone in the vicinity with two lighted sticks of dynamite. He now shook with sobs as he stroked the faces of his dead children, a broken man.

The bodies were taken to the Red Jacket Village Hall, used as a temporary morgue, for identification. There were losses from the SNJP woman’s lodge, all friends of Annie: Mary Smuk lost her 5-year-old daughter, Mary Stauduhar lost her 7-year-old daughter, and Mary Cvetkovich lost her husband. Also, many of dead were members, or related to members, of Annie’s own local of the Women’s Auxiliary.

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes

The mass funeral was held on December 28th. There was a shortage of coffins, especially for the children, and neighboring communities were contacted. Funerals were held at three Finnish churches, as well as an Italian church, a Croatian church, and a Slovenian church, most likely Annie’s. And then began the march to Lakeview Cemetery.

Estimates are that 50,000 took part in the march to the cemetery. Annie led the way carrying her flag, now draped with black crepe. Snow began to fall as they marched. Church bells could be heard from near and far, tolling for the dead. The little white caskets were covered in flowers. It is said that the weeping from the cemetery could be heard in the town, two miles away.

Fifty men came marching behind the caskets, chanting “Nearer My God to Thee” in the old style of the Cornwall mining districts. There was a band at end of the march. The entire length of the road to the cemetery was lined with mourners, many brought from other towns by special coach.

The dead were laid to rest with eulogies in Finnish, Austrian, English, and Croatian. E. A. McNally, attorney for the strikers, gave a long address. He spoke for all, the living and the dead, when he said:

It is not charity we want; it is justice.

A newspaper later describe Annie at the graveside:

Up above the strikers stood Annie Clemenc, girl leader of the miners. She was not the usual militant Annie Clemenc. She was saying a prayer for the children.


Tall Annie
-by Virginia Law Burns
MI, 1987

Big Annie of Calumet
-by Jerry Stanley
NY, 1996

Death’s Door
The Truth Behind Michigan’s Larges Mass Murder

-by Steve Lehto
MI, 2006

Annie Clemenc
& the Great Keweenaw Copper Strike

-by Lyndon Comstock
SC, 2013

Miners’ Bulletin
“Published by authority of
Western Federation of Miners
to tell the truth regarding
the strike of the copper miners.”
-of Oct 2, 1913
-of Nov 15, 1913

El Paso Herald
(El Paso, TX)
-of Nov 9, 1913


Annie with Her Flag

Marchers in Sunday Best

Socialist Party Pin


The Fighting Woman of Copper Country 1913

Annie with Her Flag Leading Parade

1913 MI National Guard on Horseback

Miners’ Bulletin


Children's Parade, Calumet Copper Miners Strike -- RPPC by Calumet New Studio, Calumet, Michigan.

I believe that this photo was from The Calumet and Red Jacket News,

Strikers Marching in Snow
Note: photo dated Feb 1914, used here to represent
strikers marching in spite of cold and snow.

The Tyomies Publishing Company places the photo in Hancock.

Citizens Alliance Button

The Children’s Bodies at the Red Jacket Village Hall

Small White Coffins

[Lully, Lullay]

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Hellraisers Journal, The Labor Martyrs Project, and WE NEVER FORGET by JayRaye

2:40 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Back of Envelope Containing
Joe Hill’s Ashes


At Joe Hill’s funeral, sashes were worn by many in attendance with “WE NEVER FORGET” written on them in big bold capital letters. This slogan was also written on the program for the day’s events. A year later, the ashes were handed out to IWW delegates from every state of the USA (except Utah) and from countries all around the world. The envelopes also carried this slogan. The Labor Martyrs Project uses this slogan to honor all of our Labor Martyrs, quite certain that Fellow Worker Joe Hill would not mind.

The Labor Martyrs Project

By way of explaination, I’ll give the simple “what-when-where-&-who” first. “Why” is a bit harder to explain, and a lot more personal.

What: the The Labor Martyrs Project honors those who have died in the class struggle on the side of the working class, by remembering, at minimum, their names and ages.

When: 1877 through 1937.

Where: the United States. I wanted to include Canada and Mexico, but the more I learned, the more I realized that just the task of covering the labor martyrs of the USA was an immense project, probably beyond what any one person can accomplish. For example, some sources claim that there were more than 200 workers who died in labor conflicts just in year 1934 alone. Each and every one of them deserves to have their name recorded for history.

Who: that would be us, the working class. These are our martyrs who died in the struggle to give us and our children a better life.

At The Ludlow Monument

It all started when I picked up a book called Labor’s Untold Story. That was the first I ever heard of the Ludlow Massacre. I think this might have been about 1986. I didn’t have a car at that time, so I took a Greyhound bus out to Colorado. The bus driver didn’t want to drop me off at Ludlow because it wasn’t a scheduled stop, but I talked him into it. Took me 3 hours to walk back to Walsenburg, but that’s alright, I had a lot to think about. It is difficult to describe the feeling that I had standing at the foot of the Ludlow Monument. Just a few days ago, I came by this poem written by our very own Richard Myers (RIP), I could not describe the experience any better:

Helen and Gust of Ludlow

The Ludlow Monument
The Ludlow Monument

“He’s haunted by the memory
Of heroes that he could not save,
And it was Gust that drove the dray
Collecting children for the grave.”

I left. I went alone that night
Where miners and their families died.
I searched for answers in the pits
Where helpless children tried to hide.

I raged at phantoms on the hill
Whence gunfire ‘cross the plain had swept,
And then before the monument
I knelt down on the ground and wept.

I went back again for the 75th commemoration. That was on June 10, 1989, and of that date I am certain since Zeese Papanikolas was there and kindly signed my copy of Buried Unsung with the date and location (Ludlow.) I made that trip by Greyhound also, but that time I packed up my mountain bike, so I was able to get around a bit better. A very kind family put me up for the night, fed me, and we had a great visit. I loved all the folks I met in Walsenburg and Trinidad. The woman who ran the little history museum in Walsenburg was an incredible help. She directed me to the exact location where Mother Jones was held in the underground cell. I was able to go there and stand there for a little while. It had been turned into someone’s office, but no one seemed to mind me stopping by. A very kind shopkeeper boxed up my bike and even delivered it to the bus stop for my return trip home. I was only asking for a box, but he offered to take care of everything, and wouldn’t take any payment.

Well, this is turning into a ramble, but it is all part of how I became obsessed with Labor Martyrs. While in Trinidad on that visit, I rode my bike up to the cemetery. Again standing there where the martyrs are buried changed me. That I could be a working class union woman, and a Socialist to boot, and yet reach my 30s without ever hearing of them and what they went through upset me in a way that I can not describe. They deserve better from us than to be forgotten.

And from there I ate, slept, and dreamed labor history. Reading, taking notes. I never knew for sure what I would do with all those notes, boxes full of notes arranged mostly in chronological order, but they sure do come in handy now.

So the “Why” boils down to this: our labor martyrs deserve to be remembered by us. Each and every one. And remembered, at minimum, by their names and ages.

Memory and Class Consciousness

The Monument reads:

In Memory of
The men, women and children
Who lost their lives
In Freedoms’s Cause
At Ludlow, Colorado
April 20, 1914
Erected by the
United Mine Workers of America

Wesley Everest
“Tell the boys I died for my class.”

I won’t go into a long analysis here. Suffice to say that as we lose the memory of our history as a class, so goes our class consciousness. The heroes of the day understood that they were fighting for their class. From Joe Hill who writes in the Rebel Girl, “she is true to her class and her kind,” to Wesley Everest who went to his death saying “tell the boys I died for my class,” these workers understood that they were undertaking a struggle which was The Class Struggle. That they were up against a powerful and ruthless foe. They fought, not only for themselves, but for the Working Class as a whole and for the future generations of working people. They voiced this class conscious view over and over again in speeches, verse, and song. We owe them a debt that we can never repay. The very least we can do is to honor their memory.

The Unknown Worker Tag

Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I kept researching and avoided actually publishing anything, hoping to find missing names. However, if I were to stick with that plan, the Project would never be published. Some names will probably never be found. And so I’ve created the [Unknown Worker] Tag. These Labor Martyrs will be honored by whatever information I can find about them . For example, in [this diary], I could say that one was Puerto Rican and the other was an English “lad.” Here’s hoping that others will take this information and search further. Perhaps, their names can yet be discovered! When there names are found, the tag can be removed from that diary.

What Makes a Labor Martyr?

Julius Wayland
d. Nov 10, 1912

Most of the time this question is easy to answer. Workers go out on strike, and they are shot down in the streets, their union halls are raided and they are shot down in their own hall, or dragged out of the hall tortured and hung; they are put into filthy cold crowed jails, beaten and battered, and then refused medical care. Machine guns were very efficient means of murdering working people without much exertion on the part of the military, the police, the gunthugs, the deputies, etc. These are the easy cases to decide.

But what of workers driven to suicide through persecution? Or the lawyer who worked himself into an early grave with a bleeding ulcer on behalf of his unjustly convicted union clients? The old man kept in the same cold cellar cell as Mother Jones who got sick there and died soon after release? The young man, a neighbor to the Ludlow Tent Colony, who caught a stray bullet and was killed? Reasonable people can disagree on these questions. The answer as to who should be considered a Labor Martyr is not always completely clear.

Hellraisers Journal

Mother Jones,
“You ought to be out raising hell.”

[Hellraisers Journal] is designed to keep me on track with the WE NEVER FORGET diaries. It’s less than perfect system. I’m still behind from when I went on vacation in August, and events are producing more and more Martyrs. Hellraisers is good at forcing me to work hard at catching up. Also, because of the Hellraisers diaries, I can simply write about the martyrs without going into the entire history of the strike. I’m not saying that I won’t write anymore diaries like [this one] or [this one], but the Martyrs didn’t always die in big events, they were often shot down casually here and there, and their names were lost to history. Those Martyrs deserve to be remembered also. And now, with Hellraisers giving the back-ground story, I can write these diaries with much less difficulty.

Hellraisers Journal will cover the period 1897 to (but not including) 1922, covering the life and times of Mother Jones. This will take 10 years (God willing and creek don’t rise.) These were the most active years of Mother Jones. This will cover 25 years of the 51 years that I want to eventually cover for the Labor Martyrs Project. And these are the years that I know the best, so, for me, that’s a good place to start.

[Today's Hellraisers Journal:] “Mother Jones Remembers Virden Martyrs at Union Miners’ Cemetery in Mt Olive.”

Something’s gotta give!

And so, some of the readers of Hellraisers may have noticed that I’ve stopped covering modern day events. This is regrettable, but unavoidable if I’m going to keep up with the Labor Martyrs Project. A lot goes into research, reviewing, comparing sources, compiling and integrating my notes, etc. There are books on the shelf that need to be read, and many more books on my list to buy. As well as books I’ve already read that need to be reviewed as I write. Therefore, I’ve made the decision to focus exclusively on the Labor Martyrs Project which includes both Hellraisers Journal and WE NEVER FORGET.

Future Plans

I own the domain name WE NEVER FORGET as dot com and as dot org & a few others also. Eventually, I hope to republish everything to one of them (probably dot org.) This is way off in the future as I have zero expertise in web site building.

I want to thank everyone who has read my diaries, tipped & rec’d them, repub’d them, and invited me to join groups so that I can repub them myself. Special thanks to gooderservice, Brae, and ruleoflaw, Big Al, and others who visit every day or almost every day.


I Am a Union Woman-Leenya Rideout

[The bosses ride fine horses
While we walk in the mud.
Their banner is a dollar sign
While ours is striped with blood.

-Aunt Molly Jackson]


Joe Hill’s Ashes:

Names of Ludlow Martyrs by Kossack [MKSinSA],
for which I am eternally grateful!

The Ludlow Monument (with larger view):

Wesley Everest:

Julius A Wayland:

Entire Poem by Richard Myers here:

Books Mentioned:

Labor’s Untold Story
-by Richard O. Boyer & Herbert M. Morais
United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, 1979)

Buried Unsung
Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre

-by Zeese Papanikolas
U of Utah Press, 1982

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: We Demand Answers! Why were Occupy Boston Charges Dropped? by UnaSpenser

10:43 am in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Author’s Note: Some of this has already been posted in my previous diary. I was asked to write again and include a description of the circumstances of our arrest, the charges, my plea, and some of the process we have been through leading up to this precipitous dropping of charges. While there are those who want to say this is just a matter of incompetence or an overburdened system or laziness, that simply isn’t true here. The press is a willingly manipulated in a calculated system of repressing and dissuading dissent, whistle-blowing and accountability of those in power.

As one of those awaiting trial, I find this whole affair, from illegal arrests, to injurious treatment, to 14 months of harassment via making us show up at multiple hearings, with many delays, to the propagandist stenography of the Boston Globe, to be a heinous abuse of justice.

Please keep reading to learn of the final bit of foul play by our government. They saw the writing on the wall and, once again, they abused their position of power and cheated justice and democracy.

Circumstances of arrest:
On December 10, 2011, the Boston Police Department arrested me for standing on public property. I had been on the property for a few hours prior the arrest. I had been on the property, off and on, for the previous 2 months. I came to Dewey Square – public land owned by the State of Massachusetts and managed by The Greenway Conservancy – to be part of delivering a political message to our government: we the people want justice for what the banks and elite class have perpetrated against this country.

Our message was clear, as is shown by the fact that these protests changed the public discourse. Until Occupy hit the streets, no one was talking about the inequity of power and justice between the 1% and the 99%.

Our message was still needed. Just because people were talking, doesn’t mean the issues were resolved or even being addressed by our government.

So, we had the right to stay in the streets and keep delivering this message.

I don’t believe it makes a difference – as our First Amendment gives us the right to assemble and address our grievances to our government, without any limitations of when and where being put on that right – but, in my case, I was not camping at Dewey Square. I visited one to three times per week.

I want to get back to that First Amendment statement. It is of tantamount importance that we all remember that it is our right to assemble and to speak out, at our discretion. It is not up to the government to tell us when, where and how we can assemble and speak. The whole point to explicitly naming this right is so that we, the people, maintain tools to keep abuse of power in check. Here is the text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

“Congress shall make no law”… They are not allowed to curb, in any way, our right to assemble and petition our government. They can’t say, “you’ve been out there too long.” They can’t say, “You can’t do that here.”

When we just idly accept these “free speech zones” and complain about the “nuisance” of a protest and even support the forceful arrests of people who are peaceably assembling, in any way, we are giving up one of the single most important tenets of democracy. There is no point to almost anything else we stand for, if we don’t stand for this. We are not a democracy without it.

Yet, I have been told that I deserved to be arrested and injured for my apparently heinous crime of standing in a public space and talking. I refused to bow to a militarily armed “authority” and walk away and be silent just because they wanted me to. For that simple act, I was treated as a “terrorism threat.”

new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

Why aren’t people around the country outraged about this? Why aren’t we out in the streets until this kind of abuse of power is dismantled and the people who perpetrate it held accountable? There is a direct link between this approach to governance – at the service of corporations – and the apocalyptic destruction of arboreal forest land for the sake of putting more money into the coffers of the already rich.

As I told the Boston Phoenix,

“If I can watch people in Syria march when they know that they’re going to be shot at,” Nevitt tells the Phoenix, “then I can’t stand here and let our government tell us that we don’t have the right to assemble in a public space.”

Read more:

How many people in the US cheered and supported the protesters in Egypt? Look at this statement from Obama, at the time:

“I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors. The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.”

Except in the United States, apparently. The protesters in Egypt defended themselves by throwing rocks at armed agents of the government. They even burned down the headquarters building of the ruling political party. They turned a public square into an encampment where they controlled who came and went. For this, they were given international attention and our President proclaimed that they were within their rights.

Yet, here, at home, no such proclamations are made. No one threw rocks at government agents, or anyone else. No one burned any buildings. No one denied entry anyone else entry into any public spaces. Still, President Obama was silent when his own citizens exercises these “universal” rights. And people throughout this land have supported the repression of protest and the violent arrests. The vast majority have simply remained silent, going about their lives as though nothing is wrong. Basic, “universal”, human rights are being violated and suppressed in this country. The very foundation of democracy is being ripped out from under our feet. And the people who get the vitriol or lack of support are those who are saying something.

In a diary I posted two days before getting arrested, I explained why I was willing to take this risk. I implore you to ask yourself why you don’t care enough to do the same. Does it really take them coming for your or someone dear to you before you get how critical this is?

Initial Treatment
It was very disturbing to me to see the media report about how well the Boston Police handled the arrests of peaceable protesters. First, there is no justifiable reason to arrest people expressing their First Amendment rights. Second, it is an authoritarian abuse of power to approach those peaceful protesters, who are letting the police know they are willing to be arrested without resistance, with what was basically a battalion of fully-armed riot police, including big guns, large canisters of tear gas and a sound canon. (As someone with hyperacusis from a chronic illness, a sound canon would have been excruciatingly painful and likely deafening, for me.)

More important, is that Boston was one of the later cities to forcibly remove peaceable protesters. They had had time to see the public response to pepper spraying and rubber bullets. So, they came at 5am, in the dark, when no one was up. They pulled their trucks in to the square and kept the press back, so that no one could witness how they handled us.

They committed their abusive treatment more surreptitiously. For instance, I and eight other women were handcuffed and placed in the back of a transport vehicle. The inside was a metal box with metal benches. No seat belts. With our arms bound behind us and no body restraints, the truck was sped up just before making a turn and we were all whipped around inside the truck. The truck was then jolted to a stop and the back door flung open, as a police officer was yelling at us in anger. I suffered a permanent back injury from this. There are other injuries, but I will only speak of my own, as I don’t want to jeopardize anything for anyone else. But, the police department was given much public adoration for their gentle treatment. I suppose we should be thankful they didn’t send drones into Dewey Square or shoot us on site for having the audacity to gather and speak. That’s how many in public seem to view things these days.

In jail, I was not able to stand. My comrades made space for me to lie down on the cement benches in our cells. (I was moved to three different cells during my stay.) When I was called out, after several hours, to have my charges read to me and filed, I had to ask for a seat. We told the police that I was in pain. One of my beautiful sisters was so good about yelling out the bars to tell them that we needed medical attention. None came. I was simply processed as though nothing was wrong. (I would learn in the emergency room later that I had a ruptured disc and fractured facets.)

When my charges were read to me, they listed “trespassing” and “resisting arrest.” I laughed at the latter charge and asked how they could make it when I had asked the arresting office to help me stand up. The two officers present were not at the arrest scene. One walked away and came back a few minutes later and said, “we’re removing the resisting arrest charge. You don’t look like someone who would resist arrest.”

I was furious. What does that mean? I’m white and I’m a woman and I was in my late 40s. If I were a 23 year old black male would you say that? What if I were a transvestite? Of course I don’t look like I could resist arrest, now. I can barely walk because you injured my back!

That’s how our justice system works? A capricious decision by a cop based on how he views you in the station, even though he had nothing to do with the arrest and had never had an interaction with you before? One could say that I got the benefit of this by having them scratch that charge. Yet, I wanted my day in court over that charge. I was all too aware of how that subjective power is used against people that don’t fit the demographic that this cop is sympathetic to. I felt like a traitor to my comrades. Especially my comrades of color or youth or not perceived as a hetero cis-female. It wounds me deeply to gain any benefit from the systems of oppression while my fellow citizens are murdered, beaten, jailed and otherwise crushed by it. It is simply not right. I didn’t stand out there, risking my body, for this abuse of power. One reason I was willing to risk myself was for the sake of those for whom the risk is even greater, due to their demographic status. I want them to know that those of us who can benefit, don’t want to when it comes at their expense. I’m still furious about this.

We would later learn that although almost all of us had originally been told we had a charge of resisting arrest, when we got to our arraignment, only the men had that charge remaining. None of the women. I sat in Dewey Square with men and women. I behaved no differently from the man sitting next to me. On what basis were these charges meted out?

After about 8 hours of laying on concrete with an injured spine, I was released on bail. I was not told of any restrictions. I would not have accepted them. I would have stayed in jail.

Processing Our Case
I’ve lost count of how many hearings we’ve had since our arrest. I have been at the court house at least six times in 14 months. There were some motion hearings that defendants were not required to be present for. So, the City has attended at least 6 court appointments regarding my case, but it maybe closer to 10.

Of the 47 of us who were arrested on December 10, about half of us plead “not guilty.” I do not believe that I was trespassing. I was on public land. I was exercising my First Amendment right to free political speech to address my government. I cannot have been trespassing.

I did not accept any restrictions to my actions while the case was being processed. None of us, who plead “not guilty” did. Many of us have traveled out of state. Many of us have been back to Dewey Square. Many of us have been in other protest actions since our arraignment. Had the State tried to impose restrictions on me when I had not been determined to be guilty of any crimes, nor have I been shown to pose any sort of physical threat to anyone or anything, I would have defied those restrictions.

We made it clear from the beginning that we were going to fight these charges and fight them loudly. Our first motions were extensive requests for materials and statements from multiple governmental agencies regarding who was involved in monitoring us and determining what actions to take against us. We had seen Homeland Security trucks and various surveillance cameras on site. At one point, after we had filed a motion demanding to know if BRIC – a regional counter-terrorism agency – was involved in any part of the monitoring or decision-making regarding Occupy Boston, the DA had the chutzpah to return to the courtroom and tell the judge, “I asked somebody at that office and she said, “no.”"

The judge wasn’t too happy with that defiance of a court order. He then gave the order very specific wording which required signed statements from someone accountable.

This was the process. We would make discovery motions and the City would respond with delays and absurd statements that did not fit the definition of meeting discovery requests.

Fourteen months into this, and we were starting to feel that, not only were our charges bogus and the arrests illegal, we were now being denied our right to a speedy trial. We wanted the court to rule on the very legality of the arrests. To see if the court would support the notion that the police can arrest people who are doing nothing but gathering and speaking for sake of political expression.

That would have been one avenue of having our day in court. Having the court determine that the arrests themselves were illegal would have been a very strong political statement. We made our case for it in a hearing this past Monday. The judge said he would make a ruling this coming Monday.

Yesterday, on a Friday with a blizzard underway, one business day before the judge would have made a public ruling, the District Attorney let the Boston Globe know that the City was dropping all charges related to Occupy Boston. After 14 months, many court hearings, many rounds of being forced to comply with motions, and declaring that we must face criminal charges for our actions, they suddenly decided to drop the charges with this claim:

“There’s now parity with prior cases arising from the protests,” Jake Wark said. “They’ve served essentially the same sentences.”

Guilty. Sentence served. No trial.

My Reaction: (yes, this was an immediate reaction with fast-flying fingers. This is me being reactionary. I allow myself those moments. I had only learned of the news just hours before posting this.)

Occupy Boston Protesters: Guilty and Sentenced Without Trial
I wanted my day in court. It was clear, they were going to delay and delay. Over one year later, I still did not have a trial date. I was also never told with whom I would be a co-defendant. (we wanted one trial and the judge insisted we be broken into groups of 5. He then only named one group and the rest of us were left in limbo) All of this was designed to make it impossible for us to prepare. Trying to crush our resolve and our souls slowly.

When we pushed back and filed a motion for charges to be dismissed, the judge said he would rule this coming Monday. Preempting what the judge might say in court, the City surreptitiously dropped the charges today. During the beginning of a blizzard. On a Friday afternoon. Without letting any of the defendants know. We didn’t get the courtesy a single communication to us. We all learned by reading it in the Boston Globe. And that is where we read outright lies:

but at least five defendants will contest the dismissal in hopes of fighting the accusations on their merits.

um, we filed the motion to have the charges dismissed. the hearing for that motion was this past Monday. that’s on the public record. high quality stenography, I mean journalism, there.

“Our clients feel that they deserve a day in court to contest their arrests on constitutional grounds,” said Jeff Feuer, of the National Lawyers Guild, which is defending the demonstrators. “They were using a public park.”

that’s my lawyer. I wonder when they got that quote. I’m pretty sure that’s from an earlier time when we were being asked about why we didn’t accept a plea deal. Since we’ve had no contact from anyone about this latest move of dropping the charges, I doubt this is a contemporary quote.

A spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said prosecutors decided to resolve the cases because the defendants had abided by certain restrictions imposed by the court for more than a year. Other protesters charged with trespassing and unlawful assembly had agreed to similar conditions in resolving their cases.

What restrictions? This is just outright fiction. I pleaded not guilty. I was not under any restrictions, as I had not been found guilty of any crime and I would not consent to be punished as though I had. I dare the Boston Globe to tell me exactly what restrictions I have supposed adhered to and to prove that I consented to and complied with them.

“There’s now parity with prior cases arising from the protests,” Jake Wark said. “They’ve served essentially the same sentences.”

This is their way of saving face. Trying to claim that we somehow accepted guilt by serving a pre-sentence. Who needs a trial when you can just get people to agree to “restrictions” and then say that they’ve “resolved” their case by “essentially” serving a sentence?

I will not stand idly by and be portrayed in the public as though I have served a sentence for a crime I did not commit. Nor will I allow our justice system to proclaim that they can determine, without a trial or a sentencing process, that someone has paid enough of a penalty that they can consider the case resolved. It’s bullshit. And makes me wonder what they thought the judge was going to say, on the record, on Monday.

Here is the press release about this from the National Lawyers Guild, who are representing us.

NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD, Massachusetts Chapter, Inc.
14 Beacon St., Suite 407, Boston, MA 02108  
Urszula Masny-Latos
Tammi Arford (defendant): 617-686-8892 National Lawyers Guild, Mass. Chapter
Andrea Hill (defendant): 574-206-5632 617-227-7335
Boston, February 8, 2013.   Today, without any notice to defense counsel or the defendants, Suffolk County prosecutors went into court and in an unscheduled, unilateral action dismissed the criminal cases that had been brought against five Occupy Boston activists which were scheduled to begin trial on Monday, February 11. The prosecutors also dismissed all of the criminal charges remaining against the other Occupy Boston activists who were still awaiting trial as a result of the mass police arrests in October and December, 2011.

We believe that the DA’s decision amounts to an acknowledgment of the unconstitutionality of the arrests and criminal charges that had been brought against hundreds of Occupy Boston participants, and shows that the state has finally
admitted that the demonstrations by Occupy activists were legal and constitutionally protected.

Fully ready to contest the charges at trial, the defendants and their representatives from theNational Lawyers Guild (NLG) had subpoenaed Mayor Menino, Police Commissioner Ed Davis, and Nancy Brennan (former head of the Greenway Conservancy) to explain why the City of Boston and its police department unconstitutionally applied the Massachusetts trespass and unlawful assembly laws to impinge upon Occupy Boston participants’ rights to assemble, to express their protected speech, and to petition the government. In addition, they had also subpoenaed Joshua Bekenstein and Mitt Romney (of Bain Capital), and Robert Gallery (CEO of Bank of America) to address their role in constructing and perpetuating excessive corporate power and an economic system that favors the wealthiest 1% of the population at the expense of the remaining 99%– an undemocratic system in which the voices of the people are ignored. The police action in arresting occupiers demonstrated that voices of conscience that speak out against
social and economic inequality are not only ignored, they are unlawfully silenced by the state’s use of violence, fear, threat, and repression.

This decision by prosecutors comes after 14 months of delay, during which defendants were repeatedly required to show up for court dates, only to have their day in court and their right to a jury trial delayed time after time. Defendants and their NLG lawyers spent months working to prepare a case that would potentially embarrass the City and set valuable precedent that would reaffirm the constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.

In making this decision, Suffolk County prosecutors have not only prevented the defendants from having their day in court, they have employed yet another way to trample upon those who voice dissent and discouraged them from challenging injustice and inequality in this country. In fact, a spokesperson from the District
Attorney’s office today admitted that these defendants, who never had the chance to present their case to a judge or jury, “served a sentence” imposed unilaterally by the actions of the District Attorney without ever having been found guilty of any criminal offense.

### END ###

Don’t be complicit in the repression of voices of dissent. Please take in the way this was handled: peaceful protesters arrested by using a battalion of militarily-armed riot police, then dragged through repeated courtroom delays, then charges dropped with a statement that they had “essentially” served a sentence. See how that works? Guilt determined and sentence handed down without the bother of a pesky trial.

Raise your voices, people. When these things happen, we need to yell louder that we will maintain our rights.

If you look in the comment section of that diary, you will see some people arguing that there is no malicious intent on the part of The Globe. It’s really just under-funded, lazy journalism. You will also see some arguing that the legal process is just a matter of an over-burdened system and incompetency.

I don’t buy it. This is the way the corruption of democracy works. Death by a thousand little cuts. Newspapers are struggling financially because they have abandoned their role and, therefore, don’t receive support. The role of the 4th Estate in a democracy is to be an independent check on anyone or any institution which manages to garner power over others. Instead, they’ve become a part of the power structure. Corporations have all the power in this country. Now, corporations own all the media outlets. When that shift occurred, when the mission of objective, investigative journalism in service to the public good was compromised for the sake of shareholder profits, the 4th Estate abandoned democracy. That they are a shell of themselves, with no budget and no journalistic integrity now and, therefore, don’t have the capacity to “intentionally” do a disservice to us all, does not exonerate them. They have made the choices which have landed them where they are. They made those choices in service to the 1%. It is not accidental that they can now look lame and beg for ‘understanding’ while they are complicit with the systems which abuse us.

If the courts are “over-burdened”, it is not because we have such high rates of criminal people who just have to be taken off the streets. It is because we have criminalized things for the sake of feeding a for-profit prison system and to maintain a system of oppression. We can relieve the court system of much weight by ending the prosecution of non-violent drug use, for instance.

In our case, the dropped charges had nothing to do with a court which was too busy to handle us. It wasn’t the judge who complained about having the cases processed in court. It was the DA who decided that we had already served our sentence.

It wasn’t incompetence, either. The City was very skilled at arguing against and evading our motions. They were very clear that we needed to be prosecuted for our audacity. There was never any indication that the Assistant DA handling the case didn’t know what she was doing. In fact, our attorneys expressed respect for her skills early on.

This was a calculated political decision. A series of calculated political decisions, in fact. The decisions to have Homeland Security trucks show up at the protest site was to intimidate us. The decision to arrest us was made to end the protest. The decision to do so with a military-style action was meant to frighten others from attempting to protest. The decision to push for our cases to be processed was to signal that it would be a long, painful process you would have to go through if you dared to protest. The decision to drop the charges before hearing what the judge had to say on Monday, was to avoid having a public record of what the judge would say on Monday.

I have no doubt about it. None of this was ever about whether we had actually committed any crimes. It was all about silencing dissent. Mayor Menino made that very clear, early on:

“I will not tolerate civil disobedience in Boston.

Civil disobedience is the cornerstone of democracy. It is a powerful tool that The People must use stop abuse of power. Voting is not enough. We are not relegated to one tool for our role in keeping democracy true to form. When those in power can control who runs for office, what we learn through media and what those people do once they are in office, you must use your other tools. Here in Boston, we enshrine this truth in our memorial site of the “Boston Tea Party.” An action against corporate interests controlling tax policy and fair trade. Yet, we now have a Mayor who made it known that he will crush any civil disobedience. You don’t think that Mayor is directing and/or strategizing the actions of the police and the DA? Think again. Our police chief is appointed by the mayor. Our current police chief has been on the job without the security of a contract for years, now. Every day, his job is only his if the mayor deems it is. Is that police chief going to defy this mayor’s wishes?

We now know that the FBI was monitoring Occupy. We know they helped coordinate the crackdowns and deemed peaceable protesters to be potential terrorists. The mayor of Oakland admitted that 18 mayors around the country were talking to each other about how to handle Occupiers.

None of this is about incompetence, laziness or an over-burdened system. It is about silencing voices which would demand accountability of those in power, justice for the “99%” and analysis and adjustment of our worship of predatory capitalism. Some aspects of the system have been crumbling to a state of auto-complicity for so long that we’ve become complacent. But that doesn’t make it any less unjust or any less responsible for the resulting oppressions.

Our responsibility, as citizens of a democracy, is to never become complacent. To never allow ourselves to be silenced or cowed into coerced obedience. When there is an attempt to repress our voices or deny us justice, we are obligated to speak louder and stand up taller. Every time. You know this is true. You know that there is no other way to maintain a just and sustainable democracy. Don’t vilify those who are pointing this out. Stand in solidarity. It is our only hope.

London Under Occupation: 0 Bread, + Circuses – by NY Brit Expat

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

People may be thinking that London under Occupation may be a little over the top to describe the situation for Londoners living under Olympic rule for the next 18 days, but that is in many way an understatement. Between the rights of corporate sponsorship, the occupation by security and armed forces, and a government that is hell-bent on prioritising the needs of sponsors and security concerns over the rights of citizens for freedom of speech and the right to live in peace, the term “under occupation” is an excellent description of the situation.

From the perspective of the population having the Olympic Games in London comes at a rather high cost. This is not only referring to access to tickets where few, if any, were set aside for those living in the boroughs (Newham, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Tower Hamlets) surrounding the main stadium. These boroughs are composed of mostly poor and working class people with large percentages of people of colour; they are incredibly racially and ethnically diverse boroughs.

Tickets were sold by bidding in a lottery which meant that locals could not afford to bid and win tickets. Moreover, given the fact that tickets are literally impossible to get and that there are large numbers of empty seats for venues which many people would love to get, one can only assume that these are in the hands of corporate sponsors whose workers were not interested in the seats. Supposedly, the locals’ gains would arise from the construction jobs (that didn’t work out) and now the many retail and part-time jobs the Olympics would provide. For all the talk about gains by small shopkeepers due to suspension of Sunday trading laws, in most cases this means that their families (they are often family owned and run shops) would need to work the extra hours. Also, they were unable to sell anything connected with the Olympics not obtained from corporate sponsors. No replications of Olympic materials could be sold unless they were able (at high cost) to open accounts with official sellers.

However, the general problem with the Olympics affects us on a daily level; this is due to the bombardment of corporate advertising, the creation of an up-market mall (where most locals can only look but not afford to purchase; certainly Prada is not hiring us), the introduction of special Olympic lanes where Olympic bigwigs can be ferried to and from events, overcrowded public transport, the militarisation of the city both due to the use of military and private security forces, the placement of SAMs in residential areas, the aircraft carrier stationed in the Thames and the pre-emptive arrests of graffiti artists, the arrests of protestors and the denial of protest permits. In a city where the poor and working class are facing cuts in benefits, the introduction of forced labour as part of welfare reform, job losses (being replaced by part-time low paid jobs), and service cuts (libraries, after-school clubs, cultural centres, education cuts, police department cuts), corporate sponsors were granted complete access and tax breaks as part of the deal for the Olympics being brought to the country.

According to the Financial Times (“A need-go-know guide to London 2012,” 27/08/12, p. 3 ) the costs alone of the Olympic venues start with £40m for a temporary Basketball arena (they are hoping to sell the materials onwards to Brazil), £87m for the Velodrome, £251m for the Aquatics Centre, £295m for the media and broadcast centre, £428m for the Olympic stadium and £935m for the Olympic Village (this will be reconfigured by a Qatari based consortium into 2,800 properties, some of which will be sold for housing for key workers and the rest to create a gentrified area complete with luxury mall; nothing for the desperately needed social housing in the area of Newham). The Olympics were originally set to cost £2.4bn, but it is now estimated that they will cost £9.3bn. According to Al Jazeera, the latest government figures on the costs of the 2012 London Olympics have now risen to $14.5bn of public sector money, and expectations that it could be far higher. Of that current amount, $860m alone will be for Olympic security and this includes the use of 18,200 soldiers to help with security for the games. Interestingly, according to the Financial Times, the public budget for the Olympics was provided by a combination of lottery (£2.2bn), central government (£6.2 bn) and the Greater London Assembly and the London Development Agency (£0.9 bn). British companies won contracts amounting to £7.3 bn and there have been 8.8m event tickets sold. In terms of human presence, there are 10,500 athletes, 70,000 volunteers (hopefully real volunteers, not poor people forced into service) and 21,000 journalists. This is a huge amount of money that is being made available for this event in a country where they are trying to force disabled people off of disability benefit to save money.
The economic benefits of the Olympics look like they may restricted to the corporate sponsors than anyone else. But there is even more interesting news and that is from a business perspective; it seems that London’s top hotels and restaurants seem to find themselves with vacancies. This may be due to the fact that they have upped prices so much, that they cannot find people stupid enough to pay for them; 23% vacancy rates are nothing to sniff at (; especially in an economy which is currently continuing along in recession. In fact, it has shrunk by 0.7% between April and June … which of course they have absurdly blamed on the Jubilee (the extra bank holiday) and bad weather, and of course, Europe, rather than their economic policies. Since they had claimed that the former would be a boost, I am a bit confused again.

In Great Britain, the use of hollowing-out policies (introduced in the US under Bush) has been introduced as part of the austerity measures to destroy the state sector; as such, services that used to be performed by the state sector (like secretaries working for the police) are no longer done by civil servants, but rather private companies. This is affecting not only the NHS and local council provision, but also policing and the military. The number of police officers is at an all-time low due to cutbacks (down 10,000), but volunteer special policemen numbers are up 10.4% to 20,343; this is at the same time that they are being called on to do an increasing number of things, like help with the Olympics security. It is interesting in that most right-wing governments are usually aware that if they are going to introduce draconian economic measures on their populations, having the police and army on your side could prove extremely useful if inevitable problems arise (as they have in Greece and Spain for example); this may be a case of arrogance on the part of the government or again they simply think that the British poor, working and middle classes are so beaten down that nothing could get them angry enough to resist the destruction of their social welfare state; divide and rule is proving a useful tool in alienating private sector workers from the demands of public trade unions given that the former have already suffered substantially in terms of the attacks on their pensions.

I. Commercialism and Branding

For those unaware of what happens when your city is “lucky” enough to win the Olympic Games, there are immediate rules that guarantee sponsors exclusive access to advertising and sales at the Olympics. In fact, you cannot “win” the Olympics without agreeing to these rules. These sponsors contribute money to the Olympics and get a lot of money back in return; Coke for example has contributed anywhere from £53-75m pounds, in return they get exclusive sale of their products at the Olympics and exclusive advertising rights during the Olympic games.

“Corporations can legally become associated with the London 2012 Games in two ways: First, multinational firms may seek exclusive marketing rights through The Olympic Partner program (TOP). The other option is through agreements with the LOCOG, the local British organization. But plenty of non-sponsors will attempt to correlate their brand with the Games, which is widely known as ambush marketing—something the IOC and LOCOG take very seriously.

The Olympic Marks and Imagery Usage Handbook defines ambush marketing as “a planned attempt by a third party to associate itself directly or indirectly with the Olympic Games to gain the recognition and benefits associated with being an Olympic Marketing Partner.” To suppress this type of activity, the IOC established comprehensive guidelines and has engaged in several initiatives to enforce them. For instance, the IOC requires that the host city—London, in this case—takes special measures to control ambush marketing during the course of the Games in and around Olympic venues “in order to preserve the Olympic brand.”

When London was first appointed as the host city for the 2012 Games, the government passed a new law, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (the Act), to supplement the existing laws relating to intellectual property in the UK. Together with the Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act of 1995, these laws protect the sponsors and partners from unauthorized advertising. […] To ensure that local businesses comply with the trading and advertising laws and to protect the Olympic brand and sponsors, nearly 300 Olympic enforcement officers will patrol around venues before and during the games. But local, non-sponsor businesses aren’t the only ones who have to abide by strict rules. Even the paying partners who have privileges and rights have to comply with certain guidelines. (”

There are several different types of Olympic advertisers depending on how much they spend, but in addition to exclusivity of sale and advertising, there is also the benefit of temporary tax “breaks” from UK corporate tax for foreign-based MNC sponsors and their workers (who are given a temporary UK income tax break.

This is happening in a country where austerity measures have been introduced by the government that are destroying jobs, the state sector and our social welfare state and that this is justified due to high levels of government debt; the decrease in corporate taxes and the elimination of the 50% tax on those with the highest income is reprehensible. But to add insult to injury, the fact that MNC Olympics sponsors had taxes on profits earned at the Olympics written off is not only pouring salt on the wounds of the majority, it is a demonstration that the needs of corporations and revenue of the Olympics takes priority over the needs of the citizens and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the government’s term of “The People’s Olympics” is not just a joke for people to laugh about, but a slap in the face of those facing impoverishment and job loss. The idea of corporations, those that work for them and Olympic athletes not having to pay taxes for their profits or advertising contracts is simply disgusting.

“New tax rules ushered in as part of the winning Team GB bid include ‘a temporary exemption from UK Corporation Tax and UK Income Tax for certain non-resident companies’.

The legislation is written to include ‘partner’ organisations such as McDonald’s and Visa. Both, along with other ‘partners’, look set to make a tax-free fortune. The former will a monopoly on vending branded food and the latter a total monopoly on venue and ticket payment methods.

The new legislation also exempts all foreign nationals working on the games in the UK from paying income tax on any earnings. Thousands will be exempt from taxation from competitors to media workers (including journalists, technicians and producers) to representatives of official Games bodies and technical officials (including judges, referees and classifiers) along with the athletes themselves (”

An incredibly successful campaign started by 38 Degrees was launched in response to this article targeting companies that were tax avoiding due to their sponsorship of the Olympics Games.

The responses to the campaign on the part of the targeted multinational corporate sponsors are telling as every corporation responded. All 14 multi-national corporations (MNCs) (including Coca Cola, Proctor and Gamble, Dow Chemicals, and McDonalds) that were targeted by 38 Degrees, have waived their Olympic sponsor tax break or explained that they were not eligible (;
The seriousness with which exclusivity of advertising is taken by the Olympics committee can be demonstrated in a row which erupted last week when the chair of The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Lord Seb Coe, announced mistakenly that people who were wearing the wrongly branded clothing could be denied entry to the Olympics Games irrespective of their holding tickets to the various events (; Having images of barefoot and bare-chested people at Olympic events going through my head upon hearing the story when it erupted, it was of little consolation that Seb was actually wrong about this absurd position. What actually concerned me was that clearly Seb Coe did not see a problem with the position he had taken on this issue; Seb has history of making absurd comments on things on which he has little or no information specifically when these relate to corporate sponsorship.
One of the most contentious corporate sponsorships is actually Dow Chemical and a campaign has been waged on several fronts protesting their choice as an Olympic sponsor.

Last week, 6 protestors were arrested after a fake medal ceremony in Trafalger Square where green custard was poured on fake representatives of Olympics corporate sponsors BP, Dow and Rio Tinto that were chosen as the worst Olympics sponsors; clearly performances criticising Olympic sponsors are not deemed amusing .

Anger at the acceptance of sponsorship by a MNC in an Olympics in which supposedly ethical and environmental considerations are constantly talked about is not a small inconsistency. Opposition to Dow derives not only from the catastrophe in Bhopal in which there are lawsuits still underway. Raising the issue of Bhopal has run the gamut from petitions, to an exhibition to a staged die-in by members of the Bhopal Medical Appeal on July 26th.

The use of Agent Orange in Vietnam (of which there are estimated 4.8 m victims, many of them children) had also been raised to question Dow’s sponsorship of the Olympic Games. Seb Coe once again demonstrates his ignorance in response to an appeal concerning Dow by the Vietnam Women’s Union, as John Pilger reports:

“In his reply, Coe describes Agent Orange as “a highly emotional issue” whose development and use “was made by the US government [which] has rightly led the process of addressing the many issues that have resulted.” He refers to a “constructive dialogue” between the US and Vietnamese governments “to resolve issues.” They are “best placed to manage the reconciliation of these two countries.” When I read this, I was reminded of the weasel letters that are a specialty of the Foreign Office in London in denying the evidence of crimes of state and corporate power, such as the lucrative export of terrible weapons. The former Iraq Desk Officer, Mark Higson, called this sophistry “a culture of lying.” (”

As Pilger points out, there has been no constructive dialogue between the US and Vietnam on the use of Agent Orange, no recompense paid to the Vietnamese victims, no war-crimes tribunal for the use of chemical weapons that not only destroyed people’s lives over generations, but defoliated the rice bowl of Asia and poisoned the land and water tables. Really, the people that write PR should certainly be bothered to check their facts before letting Seb makes statements that are so blatantly inaccurate. When Seb Coe says things of this nature to justify the inclusion of sponsorship for one of the MNCs that manufactured dioxin for use by the US government, the terms ethical behaviour and environmental concerns are demonstrated as lies; it is money that is relevant and all other concerns not even of secondary importance.

II. Olympic Security and the Militarisation of London

A seriously disturbing thing has been the whole discussion on Olympic security which has several equally unpleasant components. In many senses the level of concern about London Olympic security is part and parcel of the legacy of the “war on terror” that has been used to justify so much of the attack on civil liberties and the strengthening of the power of the security forces both public and private (reading the Government’s security preparations for the Olympics is rather instructive). ”Security” is a big industry these days and Olympic security provides a perfect excuse for the suspension of civil liberties and the payment of big money. We are all hoping this will all go away after the Olympics like the government promises; but one must take into consideration the numbers of CCTV cameras all over Great Britain which record our every action and pray that the abnormal does not once again become “the normal.”

A. G4S

In March 2011, consistent with the whole neoliberal approach that defines recent British government policy, the government hired G4S to cover Olympics security. G4S is a private security concern with a questionable (let’s call this understatement) human rights record to handle security. It is a multinational corporation operating in a number of countries. In the UK, G4S runs 3 immigrant detention centres to house illegal immigrants before deportation (often taking quite some time to complete); it has received 700 complaints, including allegations of assault and racism. There is the additional “issue” of the death of an Angolan deportee, Jimmy Mubenga, in 2010 in their custody after being restrained by G4S agents in a BA flight (for more detail on their history, see: They also run security in Britain’s private prisons and there is the story of the loss of the master keys leaving prisoners locked up for 24 hours in their cells in 2011; there are also more problems with which they have been associated in their running of security in private prisons.

Then there is their relationship with the Israeli government (;, Israeli settlers to whom they provide security for illegal settlements on the West Bank and the abuse of Palestinian prisoners.

Putting aside for this moment the obvious point about the privatisation of security, the choice of this company which has a notorious history combined with grotesque failures, is pretty impressive.

Part II of the G4S story is that they were unable to fulfil their contract which is an interesting story on its own.

“A confidential report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) warned about concerns over security 10 months ago, leading Games organisers Locog to increase the number of security guards to be supplied by G4S from 2,000 to 10,400 while the value of the contract more than trebled from £86 million to £284 million (”

Reading through various accounts of allegations of responsibility for the insufficient numbers recruited and turning up for work, the cause of the difficulties in fulfilling their contract seems to be a combination of increased demands by the UK government in terms of numbers needed, the company’s insistence that while they trained sufficient numbers (reportedly 20,000 were accredited and trained to cover 10,400 posts), there was a failure on the part of the workers to turn up. The last is disputed by workers who claim that there was a lack of information from the firm telling these recruits where and when they were needed.

One additional point that has been raised is the pay rates for recruited workers: it is unclear who set the wage rates at £8.50/hour. The company insists it was the government that set the wage levels and the government insists that it budgeted for £9-12/hour depending on seniority and level of responsibility. The company insists that it was the government that pointed out the obvious that if you pay workers less, you get a higher profit. The question is whether that constitutes government advice or pointing out the obvious to a company that is in the business of providing labour ( I find it odd, that they would not understand one of the basic rules of capitalism. You make more profit if you pay workers less (heck, that was obvious to Adam Smith in 1776), but the other part of the equation is if the job is really crappy, you may not get people to take the jobs irrespective of the level of desperation of the working class. Perhaps that is why the government is working so hard to lower the levels of unemployment benefits and introducing forced labour for the long-term unemployed. Removing as many possibilities of survival without having to work for wages that barely compensate effort and free training is clearly a problematic that must be solved if the flexible labour market that the ConDems are trying to consolidate can be a success.
An obvious question arises that no one seems to have discussed is whether this was a classic scenario which often occurs in a bad jobs market. The company claims to have recruited and trained 20,000 workers to cover 10,400 positions. Given that the jobs only last 18 days at a pretty basic pay for unpleasant work, one wonders if people knew that too many were recruited and trained, decided to cut their losses and try to find a job that they knew they could get and which lasted for a longer period. I was speaking to the cabbie driving me to escape the Olympic who told me a story about a woman that was applying for a job as a sales clerk at a low level retail firm specialising in baby clothes. After spending £400 for cab fares for various interviews and going through the training, it turned out that there were 25 different people recruited for a single job. After spending her savings trying to obtain a part-time minimum wage job, she simply gave up in disgust.

The last question that has yet to be answered by the government is how much G4S will lose from its contract for failing to provide what it promised. We are still waiting to hear clarification from the government about this little thing.

B. The British Military to the Rescue?! Of whom?!

The use of the British military as a component of Olympics security forces was planned in the beginnings; but they were supposed to be supplementary services for G4S and involved in very specific roles for London security (like manning the missiles that they placed in residential areas of London and on the attack helicopters and in the air in Typhoon fighters to shoot down invading Martians over residential areas of London). The fear that G4S would now run around willy-nilly and recruit just anyone to fulfil their security contract has prompted the government to draft in large numbers of British military forces as the main component of security. Many of these members of the armed forces were back in the country as part of a break from tours of duty overseas in Afghanistan.

“[…] British officials said they’d activate another 1,200 military personnel to fill the shortfall, bringing the total of British troops who will work the Olympics to 18,200. For comparison, Britain deploys about 9,500 in Afghanistan (”

Having a choice of a private security firm with a dubious human rights record and the British armed forces to do security for the Olympic Games is truly being caught between a rock and a hard place. Does the consolation of the latter being forced to uphold the Geneva conventions make things better?! But there is an additional concern. On the day in which it was stated that there would be an increased military presence to cover for the failings of G4S, the following story (treated as unrelated) was also released raising increased violence on the part of soldiers returning home from war zones:

“One in eight soldiers has attacked someone after coming home from a combat deployment, according to a Ministry of Defence funded study of 13,000 personnel.
The study by Dr Deirdre MacManus, at The Kings Centre for Military Health Research, found an association between soldiers’ experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, and violent behaviour at home.
A survey of around 5,000 Iraq veterans found that nearly 581 were involved in assaults, domestic abuse, and other violence soon after returning to the UK (”

Given this report, perhaps it is better that these people are given support and assistance rather than being sent in as security at the Olympic Games? I surely cannot be the only person thinking that this may not be a good idea.

C. The Militarisation of London

Finally, there is the militarisation of London itself due to surface-to-air missiles being located in some residential areas, attack helicopters on standby, the aircraft carrier and other warships being stationed in the Thames in London, and the use of spy drones. As an understatement this has disturbed many.
In the midst of all the insanity of the Olympics security plans, the one that disturbs me the most is the stationing of SAMs in 6 areas of London. Two of these are on top of populated housing blocks in the middle of residential areas. I am certainly not the only person truly concerned by this piece of insanity; a whole campaign built around stopping the placement of the London Missiles was organised. A lawsuit was filed trying to prevent the installation of missiles by residents of the Fred Wigg tower (just up the street from where I live) by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) making the obvious point that the introduction of these missiles literally turned these places into military targets if there was actually a terrorist attack and raised whether this was a violation of their human rights to live peacefully and securely.

David Forsdick, appearing on behalf of the MoD argued:

“The MoD, intelligence agencies and the Metropolitan Police do not consider there is any credible threat to the Fred Wigg Tower from terrorism (”

Let me repeat that statement: he argued that the credibility of the threat of these buildings becoming military targets was not sufficient to warrant concern. Moreover, that this had been signed off by the Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, home Secretary Teresa May and the Defence Secretary (not certain whether this is the current one Phillip Hammond or the previous one Liam Fox) in “Defence of the Realm” is not particularly comforting as none of these people live anywhere near where these missiles are being deployed and quite honestly given the way they treat the poor and working class in Great Britain, they are the last people I would trust to cover our interests. If the threat is not credible, why the hell would anyone think that putting missiles on the top of residential blocks is a good idea?
The ruling on the part of the judge was rather interesting. On the one hand, he argued that there was not only sufficient consultation of residents, but what occurred was “immaculate” and that the military was under no obligation to do that anyhow. But the second point was more disconcerting, the judge, Mr Justice Hadden-Cave stated that the tenants had not understood correctly the situation. That is typical, clearly the stupid and uneducated working class simply are too unsophisticated to understand the notion of deterrance! What Mr Justice Hadden-Cave does not understand is that we most certainly do understand the notion of deterrance; however, we simply do not want them stationed on the roofs of our apartment buildings … perhaps they can put them in Westminster or in Mayfair where the rich live?! Perhaps the rich and famous can understand the need for deterrance more than the working class?

D. Civil Liberties

To end our odyssey into the nightmare of security measures of the London Olympics, we need to address the impact on our civil and human rights. We have already mentioned the arrests of protestors following the fake awarding of medals to the worst of the Olympic sponsors. There is the additional question of the policy of pre-emptive arrests by the Metropolitan and Transport Police. Announced on June 2nd, Scotland Yard has said that they are planning to pre-emptively arrest those that are planning “criminal activity” at the Olympics, specifically groups of thieves and pickpockets. However, the police said that this would not be used against lawful demonstrators asking them to notify them beforehand to protect their right to protest.

But that raises an interesting point which relates to the pre-emptive arrests of 4 graffiti artists to prevent damages to the city. One of those arrested, Darren Cullen, actually has done work legally for Adidas, one of the Olympic sponsors and for other major corporations. Mr Cullen also tries to get graffiti artists to work legally. Yet somehow he has been pre-emptively arrested, bailed, and forbidden from having spray paint cans, using public transport and going within a mile of the Olympics venues:

“These arrests come in light of Wednesday’s court ruling by Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Openshaw said that police pre-emptive strikes for Prince William’s wedding a year ago were not unlawful. Human rights activists have voiced concerns about what affect this ruling will have on Games security.

All four have been released on bail, with restrictions forbidding them from holding any spray paint, riding any of the public trains around London, or being within a mile of any Olympic Games venues ( “

While the Metropolitan police have insisted that they will not stop legal protestors from stating their grievances using pre-emptive arrests, the arrests at Trafalgar Square and the extension of a banning order for two years prohibiting Simon Moore from going within 100 yards of the Olympic torch relay, the games themselves or anything relating to the diamond jubilee. The extension of Mr Moore’s banning order really belies the police’s claim that they will not infringe upon freedom of protest. Moore was originally arrested for blocking access to a building site while opposing the placement of an Olympic practice basketball court in Leyton marshes in April 2012. So, they won’t pre-emptively arrest you, they will arrest you after the fact and extend banning conditions against you.

Finally, remember the point about not stopping your right to protest when the police announced their pre-emptive arrest policy? Well, letting the authorities know when we are planning a protest is clearly insufficient to guarantee your right to protest; quelle surprise! The borough of Tower Hamlets had refused the Counter Olympics Network the right to make speeches at the end of the march scheduled for the 28th of July resulting in Tower Hamlets council being threatened with being taken to court. The march was able to go ahead as scheduled (with the final release of information on July 26th, two days before the demonstration (, but the whole point of the council doing this is to disrupt the ability of organisers to coherently organise protests; the tactic of first giving permission, then taking it away the right to have speeches, then cancelling the demo and finally allowing it under pressure is all part of the game to prevent people from getting out large numbers as protestors do not know what will happen. Welcome to the games, they take all forms in Great Britain these days!