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Skouries- a story of political emancipation

Occupied London - Thu, 01/30/2014 - 08:05

How a mining conflict led to the political emancipation of a community in Northern Greece.

By Evi Papada

Mining conflicts are increasingly surfacing globally due to complains over mines and pollution of water, soil and land occupied as well as over transport and waste disposal. The Skouries forest in Halkidiki has been at the center of a hot dispute between the mining company, Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of the Canadian mining giant Eldorado Gold and local communities. The company claims that an ambitious plan for mining of gold and copper in the area- including deforestation and open pit mining with excavation and everyday use of explosives- will benefit the region through the creation of some 5,000 direct and indirect jobs, while local residents argue that the planned investment will cause considerable damage to the environment  and livelihoods, resulting to many more jobs losses in the existing sectors of the local economy (farming, pasture land, fisheries, beekeeping, food processing and tourism).  The residents’ claims are supported by research conducted by various independent scientific institutions including the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Technical Chamber of Macedonia. In addition to legitimacy questions underpinning the transfer of mining rights from the Greek state to the aforementioned company[1],  the Environmental Impact Assessment produced by El Dorado has been found to contain gross methodological discrepancies and whilst the public consultation process could be at best described as cosmetic[2].

Local communities have been mobilizing against the expansion of mining activities  long before El Dorado was given the green light to begin works on site. Small scale mining had been taking place almost uninterrupted since the end of Second World War and residents have had first experience of its impact on their livelihoods and the  environment. During the 90′s the Greek government had made several attempts at reviving mining activity in the region but following an appeal by the people the State Council decided that the potential risks of the proposed investment were higher than the potential benefits for the community and the environment and operations came to a halt in 2002 . The case of mining in Halkdiki took a definite political dimension owing to the following events. In December 2003 the mines were transferred to the Greek state through a law ratified by the Greek Parliament for 11 million euros and were sold the same day and for the same price to Mr George Bololas, owner of Hellas Gold S.A for the same  price and  without an open procurement process.  The concessions relieve the company in advance from any tax transfers and from any financial obligation concerning environmental damage resulting from previous operation of the mines. It also stipulates that the mining company has possession of all minerals in the concession granted and there are no royalties for the state.

When it comes to mining conflicts, issues of distribution of resources extracted, recognition of the community’s relationship to natural  resources at stake as well as their meaningful participation in the decision making processes determine the  sense of injustice, or environmental injustice[3].  In political ecology thus, mobilizations can be understood as a response to a series of disruptions in the course of ‘procedural justice’. [4] In the years to come, local village communities set up local committees and met in their homes, organized information seminars  and succeeded in engaging and mobilizing the wider scientific community of Northen Greece in an attempt to collect data and exert pressure against the expansion of mining in the region. A space has been created where communities and individuals live and develop political strategies. The documentary ‘Gold in the time of crisis: the treasure of Cassandra’ released in 2012 is a rare in depth investigation of the resistance movement and offers an eloquent account of everyday resistance in praxis.[5]

Further parliamentary pressure lead to the European Commissions’ decision that the terms of the contract amount to an illegal State aid in favor of he company and ruled that the Greek government should collect 15.3 million Euros, plus interest.  In addition, the EU Court of Justice decide that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) produced by the company failed to meet any of the goals of the Framework Directive 60/2000/EK regarding  community action in water policy and ruled it out as inadequate[6].  From the same Directive follows that mining activity can be sustainable only if it does not alter the character of a region, and developmental if it is carried out in the overall interest of society.  The Greek government has appealed the decision and  the case is still pending.  Despite a court decision and the strong criticism it received, the EIA was finally approved and in March 2012, 4.1 square kilometers of public forest was conceded for the company to begin the implementation of the mining projects.

The way an environmental conflict fleshes out is determined by th language of valuation used by the different actors involved. The impact on the surrounding environment and livelihoods of current and future generations may be evaluated in physical or monetary terms or ‘strong’ versus ‘weak’ sustainability respectively.       For the residents of Halkidiki, collective memory of village life, loss of livelihoods and the future of the coming generations are values that surpass monetary valuations of cost and benefit analysis.  On the other hand, scientific valuations typically exert a cost benefit analysis monetizing environmental externalities using basic economic theory.  Such externalities include social, environmental and policy impacts and data should be selected during the initial stages of the project. In the absence of original data selection, as is the case in the Halkdiki mines, a ‘benefit transfer’ methodology has been used as a ‘second to best’ approach to estimating benefits and costs of projects or policies. A robust Environmental Impact Assessment is deemed essential for such a method to be scientifically sound and it is, regrettably, absent given it has been ruled by the European Commission as not meeting set standards. The concept  of ‘ecological distribution conflicts’ is often used to illustrate the incommensurable values pertained in any such conflict , while dynamics of power regarding the prevailing language of such valuations may bare significant consequences on how the conflict is negotiated in the public domain. According to a study recently conducted by a consortium of Greek universities using the aforementioned methodology, the annual environmental externalities of the mining activity in the area are estimated at 1.3M while the mining project will increase GDP by 40% and national income by 66% and will create 880 indirect and induced jobs. The benefit-cost ration is found to be 3.13 for the Greek economy[7].

 

A golden opportunity for growth

Regional competition for resources and pressure to curb high unemployment rates are pushing a gradual shift in European attitudes and policies towards mining. In an article published on the Reuters on line edition on July the 4th 2013 titled ‘mining revival offers hope in crisis hit Europe’  an analyst of Raw Materials Group explains that growing resource nationalism in many parts of the world makes Europe more attractive from a political risk point perspective[8]. Canadian investors clearly encountered no resource nationalism  when they knocked on Greece’s door: the concessions mentioned above (full possession/no royalties for the state) were granted based on a law that dates back to the Greek military Junta, and which the current government did not bother to amend.

Since 2009, Greece has been operating under the auspices of financial recovery plan, designed collectively by the IMF, European Central Bank and the European Commission. According to the signed Memorandum, the country has agreed to a multi billion bailout on the condition of implementation of structural adjustment programmes and the attraction of investment is seen the only road to growth and job creation. Given the pressures inherent in any IMF structural adjustment programmes to allow Foreign Direct Investment, it come to no surprise that the Greek government approved the questionable terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment. The paradox however still remains as the terms of the concessions made to the company leave little room for the Greek state to profit out of this investment. The scale of environmental damage and the circumstances under which this project has been licensed bare striking resemblance to many post colonial modernization projects widespread in the developing world.[9]

It is not the first time that the economic crisis is used as a pretext for the sacrifice of the environment and basic rights. So eager was the then Minister of Finance to approve the Environmental Impact Assessment and sign the investment agreement with Hellas Gold (the Greek subsidiary of Canadian based El Dorado) and so determined to follow it through, that practically no one could stand in his way.  Certainly not protesting local residents, who were soon to be accused of forming and participating in a terrorist organization.

The turning point came on Oct. 21 2012 when about 2,500 protesters fought a pitched battle with more than 200 police along the forest road leading to Eldorado’s Skouries gold-and-copper deposit, arresting 14 people. Retribution came on the night of Feb. 16, when about 40 masked men invaded a Skouries work site in the forest, set fire to machinery and vehicles, and doused three security guards with fuel, threatening to burn them alive. Eldorado put the damage of the arson attack at $1-million (U.S.). Two men were arrested and another 18 are under investigation.

Evoking concerns over terrorist activity and threat to social order, police forces imposed a regime of occupation in Ierissos, conducting continuous house searches, interrogations, arrests including 16 DNA samples taken by force and without consent as well as arbitrary detentions, an Orwellian reality that residents of Ierissos and the neighboring areas were forced to experience. A 76 year old was called to testify at the local police station under accusations of ‘use of illegal violence’ during her participation at the June demonstration June 2013 blockade of the road leading to the worksite in Skouries. 35 more local residents are facing identical charges, for protests and blockades in April 2013. To make matters worst,  on October 23, 2013  the National Federation of Editors Union released a statement condemning the surveillance activities of the National Intelligence Service for secretly recording conversations with national and international media regarding the events in Skouries, for the purpose of using them as evidence in court against those accused.

The local mobilization and unprecedented repression that ensued quickly found an international platform for support and solidarity through social and critical media platforms. The ‘battlefield’ ceased to be the central stage for mobilization and resistance welcomed new actors. More hybrid forms of resistance emerged, local, national and global, local protests continued along with international  advocacy, lobbying etc. Consequently, police presence has been gradually withdrawing and the North Star ascended, a by private security firm guarding the site and equipment. On December 16th, 2013, 150 employees of the aforementioned security firm were fired and came to protest  at the village square of Stratoni as El Dorado Gold decided to change their security provider to ‘Blackwater’, the notorious international private army known to the public through its involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Protesters were carrying a placard writing ‘murderers of nations out of here’.

 

Corruption and the mainstream media

An open letter addressed to the National Federation of Editor Unions from the Coordinating Committee of affected communities wrote:

“During the last few days…..the residents of our towns and villages have been targeted by a certain part of the Media, which systematically present us as “terrorists”. Not only is televised time split unequally, but we also often see a television “reality” that is manufactured for the needs of the 8pm news. On the pulpit of tele- democracy and the government affiliated news papers, there is no mention of the repetitive violations of our human and constitutional rights, the continuous police surveillance of our personal lives, the violation of our lawyers’ rights, the abductions/citizens’ disappearance for hours at a time, the unbearable pressure to give DNA samples. The rule of law is abolished everyday in our towns and the journalists pretend they see nothing”.(sos.halkidiki fact sheet,2012)

The mainstream media tactic concerning the events and issues surrounding the investment in Skouries has been two fold. First, the vast majority of TV and written press failed to report on the organisation of events and demonstration in area or surrounding cities, which were often attended by tens of thousands, making them the largest demonstation during the histroy of austerity in Greece.

A characteristic example is the newspaper ‘Kathimerini’ reporting of the demonstration of the 9th of September 2012 and the police repression. In an article under the heading ‘Determination in the face of extremities’, the unknown author argued that the struggle against the expansion of mining activities is equivalent to the action of far right groups, characterizing protesters as’ leftist assault battalions.

Not a single journalistic account had been published or braodcasted on the greviances put forward by residents of nearby villages regarding the illicit activities of the company. Reporting has been scarce if not absent, rendering the importance of the events not news worthy. Second, mainstream media outlets have used the method of selective reporting of events, broadcasting exclusively the opinions of government and company representatives, allowing it to be adopted as the ‘dominant truth’.  A reference by representatives of the Ministry of Environment about a similar mining project of El Dorado S.A in environmentally sound Finland has been continuously reported whereas reports from national and international scientific bodies regarding the devastating effects on the environment are silenced is an illustrative example of the mainstream media serving particular interests. In this way, the ‘dominant truth’ is established as the single means of interpreting events, and succeeds in presenting such an investment activity as devoid of environmental risks, safe and necessary.

The political economy of the Greek media is of great interest and relevance and it has been further scrutinized both nationally and internationally, following Greece’s financial downturn in 2009. A gradual death of mainstream Greek media that positioned critically against the Memorandum singed between Greece and the Troika (IMF, ECB, EU) gave space for the emergence of a ‘memorandum of consensus’. Not only is there greater pressure on journalists to promote austerity measures, but there has also been a massive reduction of voices diversity: 63% of political parties TV air time goes to government, while Troika representatives or journalistic accounts about them account for 57% of TV news (June-December 2013). And another astonishing figure: Greece fell from the 35th place to the 84 in Press Freedom between 2009-2013 (Smyrnaios, 2013). The attitude and stand of the Greek mainstream mass media points to interwoven relations of corruption[10]. Incidentally the owner of the biggest Media Group, DOL is Mr George  Bobolas, the same person who owns Hellas Gold S.A.

 

Local Community strikes back

The liberal peace project of post dictatorship Greece is broken. It is beyond the scope of this document to analyze the current democratic deficit, however rampant police violence and arbitrary arrests are reported nearly on a daily basis on the few media that survived the angry grip of the establishment. All these, coupled with prohibition of assembly on major streets, marshaling of state employees, neo-nazi ressurgence and corruption at the heart of the very institutions that guarantee democratic and transparent processes are pointers to a fragile post 1974 social and political consensus.  The terms for the new social contract will have to be negotiated again as the country is struggling to cope with the social and financial wreckage of austerity. The events in Skouries are but only one example of how state and media power as technology of power is creating ruptures with the everyday lives of people.

The presence and scale of activities of the mining company constitute a challenge to customary forms of community organizing and local state institutions. Local authority representatives are divided between those who support the project and sign agreements with the company and those who oppose it and join the resistance network. Land disputes and environmental hazards pose a threat to traditional forms of employment (farming, fishing etc) and different forms of popular mobilization against the mining giant as well as the decision or not to opt for employment in the mines are challenging the main constitutes of the village community, traditionally based on family and work relations. Institutional power revealed itself as  ideology, under the mask of growth and the local struggle at safeguarding the environment against the activities of El Dorado transfuses itself with a struggle against an ideology that places the doctrine of ‘growth at whatever cost’ at the center of the new financial liberation dogma for debt ridden Greece.

The tactic of ‘divide and rule’, so carefully put in place by both the government and a large section of the mainstream media has not yield the expected results. The community’s response to the harassment, violations and serious  legal allegations has been dynamic and continues; their everyday mobilization and repoliticization denotes resistance. When the governmental, judicial and Media institutions stand so firmly against a community then autonomous agency reclaims that vacant institutional space and introduce processes that resonate with the local experience and satisfy the needs of that particular community. The different tactics the communities use are flexible, resourceful and able to adapt against the institutionalized forms of control and coercion. On Sunday 19th of January 2014, in advance of the local election due to take place in May this year,  over 3000 voters from five villages of the Aristotelis Municipality, under the banner of ‘ An initiative of Unity’ organized a secret ballot for the purpose of selecting one out of the three candidates, all active members in the movement against mining in the region, who will represent the anti mining block in the local elections. This is where autonomous agency meets with the liberal paradigm and creates what Oliver Richmond refers to as places of hybridity.[11]In other words, this is an example of a creation of a space for political emancipation.

 

 

[1]    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-08-1927_en.htm?locale=en

[2]    For more information on the investment and impacts please visit http://soshalkidiki.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/impacts-of-gold-mining.pdf (in english)

[3]    ibid: 162

[4]    Martinez-Alier, J (2001) Mining conflicts, environmental justice, and valuation, Journal of Hazardous Material. 86, 153-170

[5]    http://www.exandasdocumentaries.com/gr/documentaries/chronologically/2012-2013/330-xrysos-sta-xronia-tis-krisis-o-thisavros-tis-kassandras

[6]  The Kakkavos mountain supplies water to the entire N.E. Halkidiki.The proposed mining activity will directly and irreversibly affect the region’s water resources. The EIA does not meet any of the goals of the Framework Directive 60/2000/EK – “Establishing a framework for Community action in water policy” which has been incorporated into Greek law

[7]    A.Kontogianni, D.Damigos, C.Tourkolias, M.Skourtos (2012) ‘The social cost of mining: the case of gold mining in Chalkidiki’. Presented at the 3rd International Conference of Industrial and Hazardous Waste Management, Crete

[8]    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/04/mining-europe-idUSL5N0F92SQ20130704

[9]    Watts, Michael J. (2004) Antinomies of Community: Some Thoughts on Geography, Resources and Empire, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series, Vol. 29, No. 2 pp234-

[10]   See also “Greece’s triangle of power”(Reuters Special Report 21.12.2012)

[11]  Oliver Richmond, Resistance and the Post-Liberal Peace’ Millenium Journal 2010 (38) 3 pp 680

Scores of anarchists’ houses raided in Athens and Thessaloniki – assembly call, Athens Polytechnic, 8pm tonight

Occupied London - Tue, 01/28/2014 - 12:30

Over the past few days, and under the pretext of the non-return to prison of Christodoulos Xiros, a convicted November 17th member, police have launched a witch-hunt against well-known anarchists in Athens and in Thessaloniki, raiding their houses and conducting arrests.

In response, an assembly has been called to inform about the recent incidents and to discuss a collective response: Tuesday, January 28th, 8pm at the Gini auditorium, Athens Polytechnic.

A clarification on the letter I published on 3/1/2014: Giannis Naxakis

Occupied London - Tue, 01/28/2014 - 09:40

via Act for Freedom

A clarification on the letter I published on 3/1/2014
Describing in my letter the image I formed for the 1st wing of Koridallos I mention a “intense movement” of some prisoners in the sergeants office. First of all I wan to clarify that I did not mean that some of these prisoners are a snitch. What I said I said to stress my annoyance with the continuous coordination between some prisoners and the service.
It is important as well to say that its mandatory for all prisoners, among them me too, to go through the sergeants office for various reasons of daily life. As well, my intense disappointment as imprinted in my letter after the incident with Milonas was a result of the zero support we got from many groups of prisoners in the conflict which followed with the service, a support I consider necessary for the prisoners when such ruptures erupt. I clarify that my reference to specific racial groups exclusively concerns some in the 1st wing and it is unthinkable for someone to believe that I collectively accuse nationalities for the choices of the few.
P.S. A text will follow in the near future concerning the recent incidents.
Giannis Naxakis
4th wing of Koridallos
25/1/2014

Debt, crisis and resistance: double event in London, November 21 &23

Occupied London - Wed, 11/20/2013 - 08:47

via fb

Two unique events exploring debt, crisis and resistance, coming up this week. A public lecture (Thursday 21 November) and a seminar (Saturday 23 November) with George Caffentzis, David Graeber, Christina Laskaridis, Johnna Montgomerie and others.

—-

DEBT | CRISIS | CAPITALISM: A PUBLIC LECTURE

Thursday 21 November
6.30pm
ULU – Malet St, London, WC1E 7HY

A public lecture on debt, crisis and capitalism with George Caffentzis, David Graeber and Christina Laskaridis.

Organised in collaboration with: PM Press and Jubilee Debt Campaign

This is not a ticketed event, but arrive early to ensure a seat.

—-

DEBT RESISTANCE: A SEMINAR FOR ANALYSIS AND ACTION

Saturday 23rd November
10.30am – 4.30pm
Lunch: will be pot-luck. Bring something to share.
Birkbeck University, Room B33, Malet Street, London, WC1E

A full day seminar with George Caffentzis and others to bring together activists and academics, campaigners and theorists, to examine debt and resistance in the UK and around the world. An opportunity to deepen analysis of debt, create links, and investigate strategies for action.

Speakers include:
- George Caffentzis
- Johnna Montgomerie (Goldsmiths University)
- Christina Laskaridis (Greek Debt Audit Campaign)
- Caroline Molloy (ourNHS)
- Michael Chessum (National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts)
- Jonathan Stevenson (Jubilee Debt Campaign)

This is a free event, but spaces are limited. To register and see the full program see here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/debt-resistance-a-seminar-for-analysis-and-action-tickets-8874472787

—-

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

George Caffentzis is a philosopher of money and a leading thinker in the development of autonomist thought. Co-founder of Midnight Notes Collective, his most recent book is In Letters of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and the Crisis of Capitalism (PM Press/Common Notions, 2013). He is a member of Strike Debt (US).

David Graeber is an American anthropologist, author, anarchist and activist who is currently Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. He is the author of many books including Debt: The First 5000 Years (Melville House, 2011). Graeber has long been involved in social and political activism, including as a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Christina Laskaridis is a researcher with Corporate Watch working on the Eurozone debt crisis. She is a founding member of the Greek Debt Audit campaign (ELE). She studied at York University and SOAS, and is a member of Research on Money and Finance.

Johnna Montgomerie is a lecturer at Goldsmiths University and an affiliate with the Centre for Research into Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC). Her research interests include household debt (mortgage, student loans, consumer credit, payday lending) and its relationship to Anglo-American financialisation, especially in the context of never-ending crisis and the new Age of Austerity.

Organised by Jubilee Debt Campaign

http://www.jubileedebt.org.uk/
http://www.twitter.com/dropthedebt

Keeping up the Fight for Reproductive Rights

Common Cause - Thu, 05/30/2013 - 11:20

By Zoey

On May 29, Dr. Henry Morgentaler, renowned for the key role he played in the abortion movement in Canada, died at 90 years old. Morgentaler, a Holocaust survivor who moved to Canada in the 1950's, used legal and illegal avenues to contend with anti-abortion laws that had been in place since the passing of the nation's first criminal code in 1892. In 1969 Morgentaler defied this law to open up an abortion clinic in Montreal, the first of a series of abortion clinics in major Canadian cities. These clinics became the target of twenty years worth of aggression and legal battles, until January 1988, when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's existing abortion laws as unconstitutional—citing violation of section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for infringing upon a woman's right to "life, liberty and security of person."

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

Movement for Justice in el Barrio: 2013 Southern Ontario Speaking Tour

Common Cause - Sat, 04/06/2013 - 00:50

The Movement for Justice in El Barrio was founded by immigrants and low-income people of color of East Harlem to fight for dignity and against neoliberal displacement.

Movement operates on a commitment to self-determination, autonomy, and participatory democracy.

Driven by multi-national corporations and profit-seeking landlords,and facilitated by city officials, gentrification has swept New York City, causing the wholesale displacement of low-income people of color and immigrants from their communities. East Harlem is experiencing a wave of harassment, abuse, and intimidation as greedy landlords attempt to evict the community from their homes in order to raise rents and increase profits. With over 750 members, Movement has gone door-to-door, building-to-building, and block-to-block to organize with their fellow neighbors to build a neighborhood-wide movement for dignity and justice.

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

Towards a Militant Feminist Movement: Confronting Men’s Rights Organizing

Common Cause - Wed, 03/20/2013 - 22:41

By a Common Cause Toronto member

On the eve of International Women’s Day, so-called men’s rights advocates at the University of Toronto hosted an event confronting women’s studies and academic feminism. This was a follow-up to their event in November featuring self-proclaimed ex-feminist Warren Farrell, author of the book the Myth of Male Power. Warren Farrell is best known for his statements about women making false accusations of rape and his argument that incest can be a positive experience, if only women were not socialized to be victims. Though figures like this, who have written that, “before we called this date rape and date fraud, we called it exciting”, make it tempting to point to these inflammatory quotes to justify our outrage at these groups, it is their fundamental discourse that we must contend with.

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

Which way forward for Ontario teachers?

Common Cause - Tue, 03/12/2013 - 22:55

By Richard R

It has been over a month since the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) held their one-day protest of the provincial Liberal Party leadership convention, mobilizing some 15,000 people on the streets of Toronto and then sending them all home again around 4:00 PM. The protest was part of the trade union response to Bill 115, which enabled the provincial government to circumvent collective bargaining and mandate the terms of new “collective agreements”. Within the bill were draconian provisions for any attempt to challenge the legislation, through the courts or in the workplace. It is worth noting that while the union leadership were pushing for this day of action, they were also cynically hedging their bets in the form of thousands of dollars in union dues being funnelled into contributions to Liberal leadership candidates. In one case $10,000 was donated to Eric Hoskins, a leadership contender who had in fact voted in favour of Bill 115.

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

There is No Justice at Grand Valley

Common Cause - Mon, 02/25/2013 - 20:51

By Tammy Lee

On the early evening of January 28th protestors gathered outside of the Grand Valley Institution for Women (GVI), a federal prison in Kitchener, ON. Approximately 30 people came out to show their support for the women inside, and to draw attention to the ongoing abuse at the institution, which in recent months has garnered substantial media attention in the wake of a drugs-for-sex scandal.

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

Anarchists and Wobblies Support Striking Refuelers at Toronto Island Airport

Common Cause - Wed, 02/20/2013 - 19:06

By Paul M

The IWW and members of Common Cause Toronto have been hitting the picket lines in support of striking refuelers employed by Porter Fixed Base Operations (FBO) at the Toronto Island airport. The strike has been bravely fought by a mere 22 workers fed up with unsafe working conditions and low wages. Injuries due to poor training and heavy turnover have not been uncommon, and the workers currently earn an abysmally low 12 dollars an hour. As the workers continue their fight against their bosses at Porter, anarchists must keep up the support until the dispute is won.

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

A Flame to Extinguish Capital

Buffalo Class Action - Thu, 07/08/2010 - 11:45

Book Review of Black Flame: The revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism. Oakland, CA: AK Press. By Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt.
by Deric Shannon

At the outset, after reading Black Flame, it's impossible not to reflect on the massive amount of research that such a work must have entailed. The book is a narrative about anarchism and, with interest in anarchism on the rise worldwide, it could not have come at a better time. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, we need new narratives of the anarchist tradition to understand where we've been. Secondly, Black Flame contains critiques of the ways that "radical" circles contemporarily have too often turned away from the radical class politics that have always defined the socialist movement.

Ironically enough, this is both a major strength of the book, but also, in my opinion, one of its weaknesses. As Schmidt and van der Walt state their case early in the book, "'(c)lass struggle' anarchism, sometimes called revolutionary or communist anarchism, is not a type of anarchism; in our view, it is the only anarchism" (19--emphasis theirs). This essentially leads to the authors deciding throughout the beginning of the book who the "real" anarchists are and who gets defined out.

Again, there are strengths and weaknesses with this approach.

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

Queer Is Many Things

Buffalo Class Action - Thu, 07/08/2010 - 10:09

Queer is many things. It’s a critique of identity– critiquing/questioning the boxes and categories we are given to cage ourselves with. Example, we can be gay, straight, or bi. These are the choices we have. But they don’t describe reality and they do more to contain us than to liberate us. (Although, I have to note that people do find empowerment and community within these identities and I don’t mean to downplay that.) It’s a critique of the construction of sexuality– formed by the ideas we have to conceive of it. If who you fuck is what you are (i.e., “gay”) — then that’s a sexual identity. Or we can do sexuality differently– it’s not who we are but what we do– our acts.

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

The Ecological Crisis is an Economic Crisis; the Economic Crisis is an Ecological Crisis

Buffalo Class Action - Thu, 07/08/2010 - 09:48

by Wayne Price

PART I: How Capitalism has created an Ecological, Energy, and Economic Crisis

The post-WWII boom was based on cheap oil. But oil is nonrenewable, polluting, and causes global warming. It was "cheap" because the capitalists did not pay to prepare for the day when it would be harder to access oil. We have reached that day, which is one aspect of the worldwide crisis of the return to the epoch of capitalist decay.

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

Mass Movement or Alternative Economy: Dealing with the Economic Crisis

Buffalo Class Action - Wed, 06/16/2010 - 16:00

by Buckles

Building democratic mass movements in our workplaces and communities should be the strategy for combating the capitalist economic crisis and advancing revolutionary struggle. An alternative economic sector does not have the capacity to win short-term reforms or fundamentally transform society.

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Categories: Anarkismo Network

The Economic Crisis and Anarchist Ways Forward

Buffalo Class Action - Wed, 06/16/2010 - 15:54

Wayne Price and Eric Larsen at the New York Anarchist Bookfair, 4/11/2009

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