Each month, SETI will pick a piece of text, audio, or video from this list to share and discuss among SeaSol members and others involved in working class struggles. This page will show what we’re currently up to.
With National Guard forces still occupying the streets of Baltimore, this month we’re going to look at race and rebellion.
First, a short article on the structure of American race and racism in the 21st century. This article, “Ten Theses on the US Racial Order,” originally from comrades at Fire Next Time, argues that US race politics have dramatically changed since the civil rights movement. “The racial order today is characterized by instability, perhaps more so than in any other period in U.S. history.”
Looking at Baltimore and building on “Ten Theses,” Princeton scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor argues that “Black faces in high places haven’t helped average Black people.”
And video from the protests in Baltimore: “Freddie Gray Rebellion“
“This is what men do to each other in wars.”
Judi Bari was an amazing organizer: feminist, deep ecology environmentalist, working-class single mom. To take on timber companies, she organized timber workers with the IWW. To stop deforestation in Northern California, she organized a national “Redwood Summer.” For her feminism and activism she almost paid with her life.
After a car bomb exploded under the driver’s seat of her car in an assassination attempt in 1990, the FBI arrested and charged her with eco-terrorism, while she was in critical condition in her hospital bed.
“The Feminization of EarthFirst!” is a gem of an article. Bari explains the intersections of class-war and ecological war. Of state violence against activists. Of patriarchy in the environmental movement. Of the need for mass organizing. Of the intersection of violence against women, workers, activists and the planet.
As Seasol members pick up environmental coalition work, this is a must read.
For background, check out Steve Ongarth’s excellent book on Judi Bari, “Redwood Uprising.” And for more on workers and environmental movements see Jeff Shantz’s “Radical Ecology and Class Struggle.”
“Your back hurts from standing up for 6, 10 or 14 hours in a row. You reek of seafood and steak spices. You’ve been running back and forth all night. You’re hot. Your clothes are sticking to you with sweat. All sorts of strange thoughts come into your head.”
Sound familiar? Chances are you’ve worked in a restaurant.
This piece, “Abolish Restaurants: a Workers’ Critique of the Food Service Industry,” tackles this question, why is the work experience in one restaurant so much like every other?
By considering restaurants sites of production, rather than service, this essay seeks to update Marx’s classic essay “Wages, Price and Profit.” It explains how Marx’s theory of “surplus value” is present in much of the work we all do today. And it helps explains conditions we find so familiar – the low pay, hard work, and difficult conditions of restaurant work.
Many of us work in restaurants, and many of our fights come from restaurant workers. Let’s look a little deeper about what we can do about this.
Race and Power in the US:
Before the century was a few years old, radical black activist and scholar WEB DuBois wrote that “the problem of the twentieth century, is the problem of the color-line.” That looks to be true in the 21st as well.
The racism that pervades every institution in the US – from the police and the courts, to the structure of the economy and the job market, to groups like Seasol – is alive and well. Fortunately, so is a growing movement of resistance.
This month we explore the politics of race and privilege in an article by comrades from Common Cause, a Canadian especifist anarchist organization. They argue that the form of anti-racist politics based on recognizing individual privilege will not create the liberatory future we all need. They join a rising chorus of activists and scholars, from Andrea Smith’s recent “The Problem with Privilege,” to the anonymous indigenous perspective “Accomplices Not Allies,” that critique the politics of privilege. “Our struggle is collective,” the argue, “and so too must be our tools and analysis.”
Check out their article, “With Allies Like These: Reflections on Privilege Reductionism.”
Additionally, we’ll be going to see the hollywood film “Selma” together in the coming weeks. After the film we can discuss what we saw. For background, check out the Eyes on the Prize episode “Bridge to Freedom.” Details to come.
How far does your imagination stretch?
Can you imagine winning against bosses and landlords? How about holding the police and national torture state accountable? What about ending domestic violence? Or racism? How about creating a free society, run democratically from the bottom up?
In his recent essay, “Someday we’ll be ready, and we’ll be enough,” activist, father and educator Jeremy Louzao encourages us to stretch our imagination. He sees imagining the type of society we want to create as one of the most practical actions organizers and revolutionaries can take. Not only does it inspire others to work with us, for the goal of a better world, but it points us in new and uncharted directions.
He sees the “revolutionary imagination” and “mutual inspiration” as worthwhile when tied to real world work, in the here-and-now. To create a better one, we have to deal with the world as it is.
What do you think? As 2014 wraps up we want to take stock. How do we see our organizing work in the last year? Where are we at? Perhaps more importantly, where can we imagine going?
Because of our legal cases, a lot of us have been talking about money lately. Dealing with money can be a real drag. But it doesn’t have to be. In this month’s readings, the AM blog makes the case for “Money: An Instrument of Revolution.” They argue that to be effective organizers and anarchists, money is an essential tool.
They write, “Money in the current capitalist structure secures free time, buys space in relevant geographic areas, develops infrastructure and supplies for propaganda, pays funds for strikers and political prisoners, and funds large scale campaigns. To this end, an anarchist organization’s treasury should have a component for public donations (such as honorarium), bank loans, and legal ownership of buildings. This is money that is used for the above ground organizing and for budgets that can and should be transparent.”
Like it or not, money is fact of life under capitalism, maybe even after capitalism.
Also this month, SETI has been busy with the Philae / Rosetta comet landing. One of the most interesting discoveries is that the comet’s magnetic field oscillates, producing what SETI tweeted this week was the “comet’s song.” You can find it here.
S0me of us in Seasol have been having conversations about how to better retain members, keep people active, and expose people to the ideals and practice of anarchism.
For guidance, we thought it might help to look to the past, to the experiences of those who chose to become revolutionaries. Their thinking about their own process of radicalization, becoming life-long dedicated organizers, can help us think about what we can do today take this path ourselves, and to help people move with us.
This month we look at two perspectives on the process of politicization.
First, an excerpt from Elizabeth Gurley Flynn’s “Rebel Girl.” This section examines her girlhood in New York City, her life in poverty, “the woman question,” and the role of working-class militancy and a culture of struggle and socialism. All this led her to become a leading figure in the IWW and socialist speaker of national renown at the age of 16.
The second is from Angelica Balabanoff, a Russian revolutionary who supported the program of the Bolsheviks before turning against their authoritarian and counter-revolutionary practices. Here she recounts her rebellion against an elite upbringing, and her exposure to revolutionary socialism through contacts with Reclus, Plekanhov and Luxemburg.
What are the crucial moments in Gurley-Flynn’s and Balabanoff’s development as revolutionaries? And what are the similarities and differences in their experiences? What can we take away from their legacies?
The works excerpted here are extremely rare and hard to find. The copies used have stains and torn pages that make some of the text illegible. Bare with us, their stories are worth it.