During the last two months, the strategy of counterinsurgency developed by the greek state since December has passed to a new phase of totalisation. If we speak of counterinsurgency and not of repression it is because the former in contrast to the latter is not so much a military type intervention, as an integrated political and social technology producing consent, fear and defeatism. It aims not at the immediate annihilation of the insurgents, but at the removal of their living space: the conceptual, affective and cultural plane of the insurgency. This is a preventive strategy whose object is the wealth of possibilities that sprouted out of the insurrectionary event. It is a low intensity warfare, a politico-psychological warfare, in the sense that its goal is the corrosion of the political, social and psychological consistency of the insurgency. The basic principle of counterinsurgency is, on the one hand, to “win hearts and minds”, and, on the other hand, “not to take the fish out of the sea, but to dry the sea where the insurgents swim like fish”. And it does this by “separating and uniting”. Separating the insurgents from their possibilities, separating the insurgents from their political and social affinities, separating the insurgents from each other. And at the same time uniting social discontent with the call of reform, by representing the insurgency as a cause of backwardness, and uniting the forces of repression with wide segments of the population, by presenting the former in as both humane, pro-people and effective.
An Interview with Quentin Williams by Matthew Lyons
"Quentin Williams" is a community organizer who has been tracking the anti-tax, anti-Obama Tea Party protests for the past several months.
ML: Please give us a little background about your political work and how you got interested in understanding the Tea Party movement.
QW: I came up in the global justice movement that took shape during the mass mobilizations of Seattle and their after effects around the year 2000. Those movements had a strong critique of the state and capital as the engines behind the isms we face. It was a “we are the people” against “them” type fight. But when I moved to Cincinnati, the Klan (which wasn’t the government or big business) still had a public display on the town square every holiday season and still marched on rare occasion.
My early political foundation didn’t account for another set of “the people” that was further to the right than and also in opposition to the state and capital. Instead of viewing Klan activity or that like it as an active political element on the landscape, most of my northern and city-living friends discounted them as irrelevant stuck-in-the-pasts. But that didn’t sit right with me.
Next month, at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, the wealthy nations that produce most of the excess carbon in our atmosphere will almost certainly fail to embrace measures adequate to ward off the devastation of our planet by heat and chaotic weather. Their leaders will probably promise us teaspoons with which to put out the firestorm and insist that springing for fire hoses would be far too onerous a burden for business to bear. They have already backed off from any binding deals at this global summit. There will be a lot of wrangling about who should cut what when, and how, with a lot of nations claiming that they would act if others would act first. Activists -- farmers, environmentalists, island-dwellers -- around the world will try to write a different future, a bolder one, and if anniversaries are an omen, then they have history on their side.
An article written for the Project South Fall Newsletter
For five days in 1999, 80,000 people from Seattle and from all over the country stopped the World Trade Organization from meeting. Despite extreme police and state violence, students, organizers, workers, and community members participated in a public uprising using direct actions, marches, rallies, and mass convergences. Longshoremen shut down every port on the West Coast. Global actions of solidarity happened from India to Italy. Trade ministers, heads of state, and corporate hosts were forced to abandon their agenda and declare the Millenium Ministerial a complete failure. We said we would shut it down, and we did.
“The fact is that the Social Forum and Peoples Movement Assembly process actually started in Seattle. The Social Forum took off from the experience of the 'Battle of Seattle' when the Brazilian organizing committee formed in 2000 and held the first World Social Forum in 2001. Ten years later, we come back to where this started. What has been accomplished in the last 10 years? How have our social movements developed to build the power towards real social systemic change in the US? How do we map the new forces and what is the power of the social movement assembly?”
– Ruben Solis, Southwest Workers Union, participant in the Seattle shutdown, and one of the founders of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
WTO+10: Before 1999, the momentum of globalization seemed to sweep everything in front of it, including the truth. But in Seattle, ordinary women and men made truth real with collective action.
It is now generally accepted that globalization has been a failure in terms of delivering on its triple promise of lifting countries from stagnation, eliminating poverty, and reducing inequality. The current deep global downturn, which is rooted in corporate-driven globalization and financial liberalization and the ideology of neoliberalism that legitimized them, has driven the last nail into the coffin of globalization.
But things were very different over a decade ago. I still remember the note of triumphalism surrounding the first ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in Singapore in November 1996. There, we were told by representatives of the U.S. and other developed countries that corporate-driven globalization was inevitable, that it was the wave of the future, and that the sole remaining task was to make the policies of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the WTO more "coherent" in order to more swiftly get to the neoliberal utopia of an integrated global economy.
This interview was conducted on Oct. 9, 2009, at Professor Noam Chomsky's office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
DK: I would like to start this interview with a discussion of the economic crisis and how workers can deal with the issues which we face. In your recent piece titled "Crisis and Hope: Theirs and Ours," which was published in the Boston Review, you state that the "the financial crisis will presumably be patched up somehow, while leaving the institutions that created it pretty much in place." Following on that, there has been a recent upsurge of militant industrial action in workplaces, primarily throughout Europe, and also in North America. As you know, the Republic Windows and Doors Factory in Chicago was the first factory occupation in the U.S. since the 1930s.
NC: No, not quite, because the 1979 strike against U.S. Steel in Youngstown, Ohio was an occupation—and actually, that's a model that really should be pursued now. They went on from striking to trying to have the workforce and the communities take over the abandoned factories that U.S. Steel was dismantling. The legal effort that followed was led by the radical labor lawyer Staughton Lynd. They didn't win in the courts, but they could have won, and they would have had enough support. It could have meant a lot.
The Harold Wolpe Lecture, University of KwaZulu-Natal, 5 November 2009 from Monthly Review
In 1982, I published a book, jointly with Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi, and Andre Gunder Frank, entitled Dynamics of Global Crisis. This was not its original title. We had proposed the title, Crisis, What Crisis? The U.S. publisher did not like that title, but we used it in the French translation. The book consisted of a joint introduction and conclusion and a separate essay by each of us on the topic.
We opened the book with our observation that "throughout the 1970s, 'crisis' became an increasingly familiar theme: first in obscure discussions among intellectuals, then in the popular press, and finally in political debates in many countries." We noted that there were many different definitions of the so-called crisis as well as different explanations of its origin.
By the 1980s, the term "crisis" seemed to disappear from world discourse, to be replaced by another buzz word, one with a much more optimistic gloss -- "globalization." It is only beginning in 2008 that the tone has turned dour again, and the word "crisis" has resurfaced, this time more sharply than in the 1970s, but just as loosely. So the question, "crisis, what crisis?" seems again very relevant.
The last couple of years has seen two interesting convergences in Arizona politics. First, the constantly expanding control grid, consisting of cameras and other measures for the regulation of movement, has finally burst into the popular consciousness in the greater Phoenix area, thanks primarily to the spread of highway photo radar and both fixed and mobile roadside units (including red light cameras). These particular cameras, much more visible than the thousands of smaller cameras comprising the broader surveillance grid that has been set up largely under a similar public safety argument, are contracted out to private – sometimes foreign -- companies by the state and other government institutions, and represent a recurring and concrete intrusion into the lives of drivers.
The tickets issued by the cameras are generally viewed by the population as illegitimate, not leastwise because they are issued by faceless (private, corporate) machines. Secondarily, they are viewed as a sneaky tax by a greedy government intent on getting its hands in everybody's wallets. People receiving the tickets in the mail (the primary method of notification) routinely disregard them and, when process servers are sent out, they sometimes receive violent reactions from the served. As a result, the private firms running the cameras have sometimes resorted to subterfuge in order to deliver the summons, including a famous case in which a server dressed up like a UPS driver. Such sneaky tactics haven't won many friends, it goes without saying. In fact, some drivers have taken to wearing disguises. As reported in the Arizona Republic recently, one man has dodged more than 30 tickets by wearing a monkey mask while driving. Police identified him after staking out his house and following his car as he drove to work.