Archive for the ‘Inspiring Moments in Resistance’ Category

Wretched of the Earth

by Frantz Fanon (1961)

Free PDF:Wretched of the Earth

Book Review

Wretched of the Earth is a sociopolitical analysis of how revolution happens, based on the author’s personal experience in Algeria and his study of nationalist revolutions in sub-Saharan Africa, Vietnam, Latin America and Cuba.

Many Marxist scholars consider Fanon’s work to be the first major expansion of Marxist theory after Lenin. His primary contribution is to delineate the potential revolutionary forces of third world countries. His chief disagreement with Marx concerns the revolutionary potential of the lumpenproletariat, the urban beggars, petty criminals, prostitutes and gang members who lack access to formal work. According to Fanon, the lumpenproletariat make up the majority of the population in third world countries (and increasingly, in 2017, the industrialized world)  thanks to first world colonizers who have driven them off their land.

Marx believed the lumpenproletariat were incapable of achieving class consciousness and thus of no use in the revolutionary struggle. In contrast, Fanon feels they help to instigate revolution owing to their high proportion of young people and their belief they had nothing to lose.

Unlike Marx, Fanon believes third world revolutionary struggles must originate with rural peasants (like the Chiapas uprising in Mexico), that city dwellers are too “colonized,” ie too invested in existing political and economic structures to want to dismantle them.

Wretched of the Earth also describes the phenomenon of economic colonialism, as manifested in Latin America (and later South Africa). In these cases, a country achieves political independence but continues to be economically (and militarily) oppressed by first world multinational corporations.

Fanon makes a number of recommendations for preventing this, including

  1. immediate nationalization and decentralization (via the creation of wholesale and retail cooperatives) of the economy
  2. mass political education aimed at enabling the masses to govern themselves,
  3. rapid economic restructuring aimed at developing soil and other natural resources for national use (as opposed to first world benefit),
  4. land reform to stem the migration of peasants to the city,
  5. guarding against feudal traditions that view men as superior to women, and
  6. avoiding the trap of political parties.

Frantz Fanon was born in 1925 of mixed heritage in Martinique. He fought with the French resistance during World War II and received a scholarship to study medicine and psychiatry in France. In 1953, he was offered a hospital position in Algeria, where he joined the Algerian National Liberation Front. He died of leukemia in 1961, shortly after the publication of Wretched of the Earth.

 

Killing the Black Snake

sub.Media (2017)

Film Review

The following short documentary focuses on some of the direct action tactics protestors engaged in to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Approximately 20,000 indigenous Americans from hundreds of tribes and their supporters occupied contested land near the Standing Rock reservation in during 2016-17 in their efforts to block DAPL construction. Although the US government claims the land the DAPL runs through, the1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie cedes it to the Lakota Nation.

Referring to themselves as “water protectors,” specific tactics Standing Rock protestors employed to halt pipeline construction included locking themselves down to heavy construction equipment, dismantling and sabotaging equipment and confronting construction workers to run them off their land.

When protestors were confronted by a highly militarized police force, they were forced to change tactics, with more focus on property damage and setting fire to vehicles of intruders.

Individuals the filmmakers refer to as “peace police,” played a much bigger role in undermining the protests than uniformed police in riot gear. In addition to police and government undercover agents that are common to all resistance movements, the water protectors had to deal with interference from paid tribal leaders (who draw a salary from the US government and have little connection with traditional tribal governance) and with non-indigenous non-profit organization such as Greenpeace and Forest Ethics. Both organizations are notorious for advancing their own campaigns by cutting secret deals with fossil fuel companies. Such agreements typically include a requirement for the non-profit groups to coopt and limit direct action by more militant activists.

My favorite scene is the one in which Chevron officials try to make a deal with Lakota activists to enter their land in return for a peace offering of bottled water and tobacco.

Black Skin White Masks

By Frantz Fanon (1952)

Book Review

Free PDF: Black Skin White Masks

Frantz Fanon was born in Martinique in 1925 of mixed heritage. He fought with the French resistance during World War II and received a scholarship to study medicine and psychiatry in France. In 1953, he accepted a hospital position in Algeria, where he joined the Algerian National Liberation Front. He died of leukemia in 1961.

Fanon was the first to systematically document and analyze the tendency of people of color to internalize the racism of the dominant culture. This process can include both self-deprecation based on race and unconscious adoption of European culture in preference to their own.

The book received international acclaim following Fanon’s death (from leukemia) in 1961 and was highly influential in the 1960s black power movement, both in Africa and the US.

Fanon’s analysis is a bit too Freudian for my tastes, though it makes important observations about the systematic destruction of African language and culture during colonization and enslavement. It also includes some fascinating observations about European family life, eg the fact that 30% of children born to typical European families become neurotic.

 

blockade

 

Two hundred of us blocked all the entrances to the New Zealand Petroleum Conference for five hours yesterday.

Some great video footage at the Greenpeace website below.

Source: The People’s Climate Rally – 21st – 23rd March 2017

Walden and Civil Disobedience

By Henry David Thoreau

Penguin Classics (1983)

Introduction and Endnotes by Michael Meyer

Book Review

Self-described as a “mystic, transcendalist,* and natural philosopher to boot,” Thoreau published Civil Disobedience in 1849 and Walden in 1854. Both are works of social criticism. Surprisingly most of his critiques of mid-19th century American society ae still applicable to 21st century post industrial capitalism.

In Civil Disobedience, for example, he maintains that a “standing government” is as dangerous to true democracy as a “standing army.” He is particular critical of slavery and the war against Mexico (opposed by the majority of his contempories), which he describes as “the work of a few individuals using the standing government as their tool.”

He also asserts that voting is not enough when men of conscience oppose the “wickedness” government carries out in their name. He argues that people are obliged to transgress unjust laws “rather than waiting until we persuade the majority to amend them.” He adds that  [jail] “is the only house in a slave state that a free man can abide with honor.”

In July 1846 Thoreau was arrested for failing to pay his poll tax, owing to his refusal to recognize the authority of a government “which buys and sells men, women and children at the door of the senate house.” He only spent one night in jail, after an acquaintance “interfered” and paid his tax for him.

I was unaware, prior to reading Walden, that Thoreau also popularized the concept of voluntary poverty. The philosophy he elaborates in describing his two years in the woods at Walden Pond is highly critical of the upper middle class society he was born into. He observes that a “laboring man has no time for true integrity – no time for anything but to be a machine.”

He views his time at Walden Pond – where he built his own cabin and furniture and grew most of his food – as an experiment to help him reduce his life to the absolute basic necessities and the most expedient way of procuring.

He asserts the wealthy classes spend so much time cluttering their lives with useless luxuries that they lose their ability to think clearly about what they really believe him. He also decries the lack of freedom associated with the accumulation of material wealth: “Luxury enervates and destroys nations which have accumulated dross but can’t get rid of it . . . [they] have forged their own golden or silver fetters.”

He’s also high critical of what he describes as the “factory system” – which is “not meant to ensure mankind is well and honestly clad but for corporations to get enriched.”


*Transcendentalism was a philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820s and 1830s in the eastern region of the United States. The movement was a reaction to and protest against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality in American society.

The oil industry has scarpered to Taranaki for their annual conference and it’s our job to disrupt it. Join The People’s Climate Rally: New Plymouth, Taranaki on 21st – 23rd March 2017.

The ‘People’s Climate Rally’ at the 2017 Petroleum Conference in Taranaki will include peaceful protest, workshops and entertainment for people of all ages and backgrounds who support a world without fossil fuels.Every year at its annual conference in Auckland or Wellington, the oil industry has faced growing opposition. In March 2016, over 200 people blockaded the conference and shut it down for several hours through peaceful civil disobedience. Let’s make 2017 the biggest showdown yet.Now they’ve run, but they can’t hide. Just as no one can hide from climate change – the oil industry cannot hide from the global movement that intends to make sure that this is the generation that ends oil.
The ‘People’s Climate Rally’ is being organised by Taranaki locals and other groups working on climate change, fracking, oil and gas drilling, and social justice. Organising groups include Climate Justice Taranaki, Frack Free, Oil Free Wellington, Greenpeace and 350 Aotearoa.
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The Honey at the Top

Directed by Dean Puckett (2016)

Film Review

The Honey at the top is about the 30-year battle the indigenous Sengwer are waging against the World Bank and the corrupt Kenya Forest Service (KFS). The latter are trying to evict the Sengwer from their ancestral Embobut Forest. The Kenyan government seeks to use the forest in a lucrative carbon trading scheme.

Although the Kenyan courts have ordered the KFS to desist from harassing Sengwer families, the former continues to launch periodic raids in which they beat up women and the elderly, set fire to their homes and arrest entire families – demanding bribes for their release. The World Bank funds these KFS activities.

Both the World Bank and the KFS declined to be interviewed for this documentary.

Click the cc tab for English subtitles.

 

* Carbon trading is the scandal ridden scheme of buying and selling permits and credits to emit carbon dioxide. Despite being a central pillar of the EU’s efforts to slow climate change, there is no real evidence it has successfully reduced carbon emissions .