The Ex-Worker #36: The Rojava Revolution

1a

#36: The Rojava Revolution – The Ex-Worker is back! We may have taken a break, but global resistance and social struggles have not. In this episode, we focus on the unfolding social revolution in Rojava, or western Kurdistan, where an ambitious set of political, economic, and military experiments are transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. In the borderlands of Turkey and Syria, self-organized militias have successfully opposed the Islamic State while challenging gender oppression and securing autonomy for an emerging stateless society. Interviews with supporters from the Turkish group “Revolutionary Anarchist Action” (DAF) set the stage, complemented by a Kurdish refugee and activist’s reflections on the role of women’s resistance to patriarchy. We also review “A Small Key Can Unlock a Large Door,” a recently released anthology of texts describing the Rojava revolution, and continue our yearly tradition of a lively report of May Day actions across the globe. We also respond to a variety of listener feedback, with discussions of the Ross Ulbricht case, anarchist parenting, and how even spambots are impacted by recent revolutionary struggles!

You can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com. You can also call us 24 hours a day at 202–59-NOWRK, that is, 202–596–6975.

Why We Don’t Make Demands

1a

On May 1, following a week of riots and demonstrations, Baltimore’s chief prosecutor filed charges against six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray—an almost unprecedented development in a nation in which police kill hundreds of people a year with impunity.

Does this prove that the system can work, provided we make our demands forcefully enough? One could conclude from these events that the best way to address injustice is a sort of hyper-militant reformism. Yet it is also possible to draw the opposite conclusion—that the only way to make any progress whatsoever is to stop petitioning the authorities and take action outside the structures of governance, as the courageous people of Baltimore demonstrated. The fact that it took such a massive upheaval simply for charges to be brought against Freddie Gray’s captors—to say nothing the fundamental changes that are desperately needed in this society—suggests that it is unrealistic to think we could reform the existing institutions one riot at a time.

In that case, what is promising about these moments of rebellion is that they could serve as steps towards determining what happens in our communities autonomously, in defiance of the state, its police, and hand-wringing newscasters. Perhaps the Baltimore Uprising doesn’t show us how to present demands to our rulers, but points the way beyond the politics of demands.

This is an old debate, but it has become more and more urgent through the global uprisings of the past decade. We present our contribution, the result of months of discussions with participants in movements around the globe.

Read the feature.

Turkish Anarchists on the Fight for Kobanê

1a

In summer 2013, we published an interview with the Turkish group Revolutionary Anarchist Action (Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet, or DAF) about the uprising that began in Gezi Park. At the end of summer 2014, we learned that DAF was supporting the fierce resistance that residents of the town of Kobanê in northern Syria were putting up to the incursion of the fundamentalist Islamic State.

In hopes of gaining more insight into the situation, we contacted our comrades of DAF once more. After months of waiting, we are finally able to present these two interviews—one offering general background on the struggle in Kobanê, the other delving into analytical detail about the geopolitical context and implications.

Read the feature.

Why Syriza Can’t Save Greece

1a

Since 2008, Greece has been a bellwether of crisis and resistance around the world: whatever happens in the social movements there is a pretty good indication of what lies ahead for the rest of us. Syriza, a new political party, took power in Greece last Sunday with the promise to rescue Greece from austerity programs in defiance of the international bankers and finance ministers at the helm of global capitalism. While conservative economists wring their hands, similar parties all over Europe are hailing this as a new model offering hope and change.

But in the long run, Syriza cannot solve the problems created by capitalism and the state, and their electoral victory may only hinder the revolutionary movements that could solve them. Here’s why.

Read the feature.

Announcing To Change Everything!

1a

After months of labor and coordination, we are proud to present our most ambitious effort yet. To Change Everything is a new multimedia overview of the anarchist project, updated for the 21st century. It is a primer for the curious, a polemic for the entrenched, a point of departure for everyone who longs for another world.

To Change Everything includes a free full-color 48-page print publication, a video by Submedia.tv, a responsive website featuring the text in 6 languages (with 14 more to come), and a sticker and poster campaign. Collectives in 19 countries across five continents have prepared two dozen different versions of the project, each tailored to match the local context.

Order copies to give out at events—distribute them around your neighborhood, college campus, community center, or workplace—leave one as your calling card when you interrupt business as usual. Put the sticker up on public transportation and anywhere else people might notice it. Circulate the website and video online, too!

Visit the website
Order print copies : EnglishEspañol

Another page, The Secret Is to Begin, offers an array of further resources as a next step for readers.

It’s high time for a project like this. All around the world, conflict is intensifying between human beings and authoritarian systems. We’re seeing uprisings from Bosnia to Brazil, autonomous zones in Greece and Rojava, fascist parties entering European parliaments. In the United States, successive waves of dispossession and injustice have swept new sectors of society into revolt one after another. The student movements of 2009, the Occupy movement of 2011, the unrest that spread from Ferguson in 2014—all of these have produced a population hungry for new visions. With faith in government, capitalism, policing, and all the other authoritarian institutions of our day at an all-time low, the time is ripe to open the way to liberation—and if we don’t seize the opportunity, others will exploit the situation for their own nefarious ends. To Change Everything steps into the breach.

When we first pitched this project, we promised to make 100,000 copies. We swiftly recognized that wouldn’t be enough. Supporters donated over $22,000 via Kickstarter, and a few generous comrades contributed over $10,000 more. Thanks to them, we’ve been able to deliver more than we originally envisioned. We’ve helped collectives in Brazil, Argentina, Romania, and Slovenia fund their print versions; we’ve earmarked 3000 copies for prisoner support groups to send to prisoners in the US; and we made almost twice as many print copies ourselves as we proposed to.

Altogether, we printed 175,000 copies for North America: 150,000 in English and 25,000 in Spanish. Active Distribution printed 10,000 more in English to distribute throughout the UK and Europe. The TCE group in Germany made 10,000 copies for their first print run; the group in Brazil has already gone through 4000 copies. Release events have taken place in Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Croatia, and Slovenia, as well as the US.

All this is thanks to 100% volunteer labor. We extend our deepest appreciation to Submedia, Active Distribution, the dozens of translators and designers and publishers who crafted their own versions of this project, the hundreds of donors who sponsored them, and you for distributing them.

We still have some loose ends to tie up. We have at least 14 more languages to add to the website. The Ex-Worker is about to release an audio version. Please send us photos of To Change Everything in action to illustrate our updates!

We’re still seeking translators and publishers to prepare additional versions of this project. We would love to hear from comrades in Indonesia, Japan, Australia, and elsewhere. The idea is for you to craft a version of To Change Everything adapted to your context and your ideas. Also, prisoner support groups may request copies postage-free while supplies last. To invite a delegation to present To Change Everything where you are, or to speak on anarchist ideas and strategy in general, contact us.

Beyond Whistleblowing

1a

Citizenfour is just the latest expression of public fascination with the figure of the whistleblower. Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden—the whistleblower defects from within the halls of power to inform us about how power is being misused, delivering forbidden information to the people like the holy fire of Prometheus.

But can the whistleblower save us? Is whistleblowing enough? What limitations are coded into a strategy of social change based around whistleblowing, and what would it take to go beyond them?

Continue reading after the jump.

From Ferguson to Oakland

1a

The movement that began in Ferguson in response to the murder of Michael Brown has spread around the United States, setting off nightly clashes in the Bay Area. Scrambling to keep up with events, our contacts in Oakland have composed this overview of the past 17 days of anti-police revolt. They describe the trajectory of die-ins, marches, riots, blockades, barricading, and looting, and explore the implications for the future of protest movements around the country.

Read the feature.

Why Break Windows?

1a

From the initial revolt in Ferguson last August to the demonstrations in Oakland and Berkeley last week, property destruction has been central to a new wave of struggle against police violence. But what does vandalizing businesses have to do with protesting police brutality? Why break windows?

First, as countless others have argued, because property destruction is an effective tactic. From the Boston Tea Party to the demonstrations against the 1999 World Trade Organization summit in Seattle, property destruction has been an essential part of many struggles. It can pressure or punish opponents by inflicting an economic cost. It can mobilize potential comrades by demonstrating that the ruling forces are not invincible. It can force issues that otherwise would be suppressed—we would certainly not be having a nationwide conversation about race, class, and policing were it not for the courageous actions of a few vandals in Ferguson. Finally, it conveys an uncompromising rejection of the prevailing order, opening space in which people may begin to imagine another.

Continue reading after the jump.

The Thin Blue Line Is a Burning Fuse

1a

It should have come as no surprise yesterday when the grand jury in St. Louis refused to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who murdered Michael Brown last August in Ferguson, Missouri. Various politicians and media outlets had labored to prepare the public for this for months in advance. They knew what earnest liberals and community leaders have yet to acknowledge: that it is only possible to preserve the prevailing social order by giving police officers carte blanche to kill black men at will. Otherwise, it would be impossible to maintain the racial and economic inequalities upon which this society is based. In defiance of widespread outrage, even at the cost of looting and arson, the legal system will always protect officers from the consequences of their actions—for without them, it could not exist.

The verdict of the grand jury is not a failure of the justice system, but a lesson in what it is there to do in the first place. Likewise, the unrest radiating from Ferguson is not a tragic failure to channel protest into productive venues, but an indication of the form all future social movements will have to take to stand any chance of addressing the problems that give rise to them.

Read the feature.

From Occupy to Ferguson

1a

In early 2011, in response to austerity measures, protesters occupied the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin. It was a localized struggle, but it gained traction on the popular imagination out of all proportion to its size. This clearly indicated that something big was coming, and some of us even brainstormed about how to prepare for it—but all the same, the nationwide wave of Occupy a few months later caught us flat-footed.

In August 2014, after white police officer Darren Wilson killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a week and a half of pitched protests shook the town. Once again, these were localized, but they loomed big in the popular imagination. Police kill something like three people a day in the United States; over the past few years, we’ve seen a pattern of increasing outrage against these murders, but until that August it hadn’t gained much leverage on the public consciousness. What was new about the Ferguson protests was not just that people refused to cede the streets to the police for days on end, nor that they openly defied the “community leadership” that usually pacifies such revolts. It was also that all around the country, people were finally paying attention and expressing approval.

Like the occupation of the capitol building in Madison, this may portend things to come. Ferguson is a microcosm of the United States. Could we see an uprising like this spread nationwide? It seems almost possible, right now, as the governor of Missouri has declared a preemptive state of emergency and people all over the US are preparing demonstrations for the day that the grand jury refuses to indict Darren Wilson.

Continue reading after the jump.