Necessary Sacrifices: Saving the White Working Class from Neoliberalism? November 11, 2016Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Transhumanism.
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In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, various class-struggle leftists have been emphasizing neoliberalism as the culprit and highlighting the plight of the white working class. Proponents of these analyses exhort us to organize with the white working class for economic justice as a key component of antiracism.
This approach has much to recommend it. I’m not writing about that part. Here I probe the tensions and contradictions in this narrative. I advance the thesis that pursuing the broader cause of freedom may well entail reduction of status and (temporarily) purchasing power for sections of the U.S. white working class. (Advancing technology continues to improve everyone’s standard of living in this scenario.)
According to available sources, on average, the folks who voted for Trump had higher incomes than those who voted for Clinton. Yes, Trump’s election demonstrates the failure of neoliberalism, but it’s not simply about economic exploitation. The most exploited and oppressed workers in the United States were more likely to vote for Clinton or not vote at all than to vote for Trump. Certainly some folks in desperate economic circumstances voted for Trump, but so did lots of higher-income workers, members of the petty bourgeoisie, and members of the bourgeoisie.
People with incomes in the $50,000-100,000 range appear to be one of Trump’s key demographics. Many of these people are presumably working-class in at least the structural sense that they sell the labor to survive rather than living off the capital they own. At the time, anyone in that income bracket has awfully disproportionate portion of the global economic product. They’re in the global 1%. Advocating for their interests may constitute class struggle yet simultaneous fail to advance freedom and justice overall.
It is necessarily wrong for high-income workers to experience declining fortunes in the context of globalization? If we’re to become more equal as a global society, if we’re seek freedom for everyone, then shouldn’t the people closer to the top face some redistribution?
Given the prevalence of trade deficits and outsourcing in Trump rhetoric, this ain’t just a theoretical issue. U.S. citizens, including anticapitalists, express anger that countries like China, Mexico, and India are supposedly benefiting at their expense through trade. They it for granted that it’s undesirable for this to happen, despite the lower average incomes in these countries that are alleged fleecing the people of the United States.
Now, as I understand it, neoliberalism isn’t primarily redistributing from middle-income U.S. workers and to lower-income Chinese/Mexican/Indian/etc. workers. It’s primarily redistributing to the U.S. and global elites from everyone else. I certainly don’t advocate neoliberalism, but I’d take it over protectionist social democracy that benefits U.S. workers at the expense of their foreign counterparts. Defending the comfort and status for relatively privileged workers in the context of misery across the planet ain’t revolutionary: it’s reactionary.
So yes, I want to organize against capitalism with white working-class folks as way to counter the appeal of right populism and fascism. But I refuse to direct my sympathies and energies toward preserving anybody’s privileged economic position. Ideally we expropriate the rich and all experience exponentially increasing access to nice things, but in the short term I’m most concerned widening the availability of basic necessities/comforts and equalizing power.
Contrary to popular U.S. sentiment, a system that favors Chinese/Indian/Mexican/etc. workers over U.S. workers is a more ethical and more desirable system than one that doesn’t.
Self-Determination in the Cyborg Economy: The Dakota Access Pipeline September 8, 2016Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Decolonization, Technology, Uncategorized.
Tags: colonialism, Dakota Access Pipeline, DAPL, environment, technology
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I just got back from a local solidarity rally for the folks resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The action itself was energetic and utterly familiar, with all the classic rally elements: signs, speeches, chants, intersection blocking, media presence, and so on. For Albuquerque, it was an impressive turnout. I didn’t think to put on sunscreen and ended up sunburned.
To the Red Nation revolutionaries who participated in the event as well as to many other observers, the mobilization against the pipeline stands out as a shining example of Native resistance to colonialism. The pipeline, in this analysis, comes in a long tradition of resource-extraction projects that harm Indigenous peoples for the benefit of corporate elites. Opposing the pipeline then amounts to a struggle for survival, a struggle against bodily and symbolic death.
The pipeline likewise conforms to the pattern of supposed development that contaminates the environment, inflicting health problems on populations located by the development site and to some degree on the public at large. This dynamic disproportionately affects Indigenous peoples but isn’t limited to colonial encounters. Industrialism to date has myriad victims. Technological mass society has produced wonders at great cost, and these costs haven’t been evenly distributed.
While the present economy indeed requires oil to function, as numerous environmentalists argue, focusing on alternatives makes more sense than expanding extraction of fossil fuels. Proponents of the pipeline unsurprisingly emphasize immediate monetary benefits and overall economic efficiency, invoking the free market. Sadly, as sketched above, the energy market has a set record of negative externalities. Business as usual ain’t working.
The DAPL controversy highlights the tensions and contradictions of the United States as a colonial entity and of the broader industrial economy. It raises questions about property and belonging that can’t be coherently addressed without attending to the country’s settler-colonial history and present.
The standard team-sports mentality of social struggle and the complexity of the issues may well give some of y’all pause. To what extent are the protests about the pipeline specifically? To what extent are they about the representational politics of standing against colonialism and capitalism? To what extent are they about global environmental issues such as climate change, and to what extent does this map to pipeline itself?
I don’t have definitive answers to these questions. I advocate support for the folks putting their bodies on the line and for the principle of self-determination as well as for sustained curiosity about the best course forward.
You can donate to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe via their website.
Thinking Safety after the Orlando Massacre June 12, 2016Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Feminism, Queer politics, Technology, Transhumanism.
Tags: anarchism, massacre, Orlando, Pulse, shooting
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“Freedom is never very safe.”
Shevek says this toward the end of Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Tyranny isn’t safe either. In the wake of today’s deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, we need to remember these principles.
Reactions to this atrocity follow predictable lines. Many progressives and leftists are warning about Islamophobia. Most liberals, along with some progressives and leftists, are blaming the National Rifle Association and encouraging state gun control. Some radicals are promoting armed self-defense for queers. Most conservatives and some liberals are blaming Muslims and beating the drums of war. Some antiqueer bigots are hailing the attack as God’s work, divine retribution.
Without question, the massacre highlights the horror of antiqueer bigotry. As with any mass killing, it stands out as a human tragedy, a site of spectacularly intense pain and loss. Because of this, the impulse toward mourning feels intuitive.
That’s not the approach I take here. Instead of prayers, I offer analysis.
While recognizing the appropriateness of mourning, I challenge it as an imperative. None of us can meaningfully mourn all of the death and suffering that happens in the world each day. Various valid responses exist, including reflection, looking at the big picture. It doesn’t necessarily make any sense that massacres like this attract more outrage than the structural violence that kills people more slowly, spread out across time and space. It doesn’t necessarily make sense that we mourn the massacres that the media tells us to and not others.
My reaction as a queer transhumanist anarchist adheres to its own predictable line: opposition to authoritarian security measures enforced through violence, whether controls on Muslim immigrants or on firearms. I likewise advocate criticism of Islam and other Abrahamic religions as part of the project of smashing straightness.
As I’ve previously written, state gun control has a racist history and enhances the power of elites. Moreover, as William Gillis argues, state regulation based on safety fundamentally conflicts with technological innovation. I don’t completely agree with Gillis, but find the broad sweep of the argument compelling.
First the state bans assault rifles; next it bans all 3D printers that could conceivably produce assault rifles. (How do they enforce these bans? With assault rifles, of course.) The logic of banning guns, of safety via state violence, tends toward totalitarian dystopia. It’s the logic of the cop wearing a pistol and body armor who’ll shoot you for possessing a knife. Perhaps enlightened progressives could somehow strike the right balance and allow for technological transformation while still reducing the odds of individuals going on murderous rampages.
I doubt it. That’s a risk I’m not willing to take. State gun control is manifestly hypocritical, unethical, and corrosive to freedom. The long-term dangers are overwhelming.
I do support nonstate efforts to reduce risks that come from the means of destruction, including firearms. Safety stands out as a hard problem for transhumanism. I plan to cover this in more detail in the future. For now, suffice it to say that I don’t want a nuclear bomb in every pot.
Banning guns is misguided. Further restricting Muslim immigration and targeting Muslims with increased security-based harassment stand out as far worse, nightmarishly oppressive prospects. Such prejudice and control run wholly counter to the principle of freedom.
With that said, despite how homonationalists tell me to join ISIS when I denounce the United States, I don’t buy into the mainstream narrative around Islamophobia. Islam, like other Abrahamic religions, contains endless oppressive elements. I don’t think there’s enough positive there to be worth salvaging, although I hold limited sympathy for Muslims/Christians/Jews/etc. who cultivate the best aspects of their religions.
I oppose prejudice against Muslims because region and culture determine religious identity more than adherence to dogma, and because anti-Muslim sentiment in the West primarily comes from imperialists, racists, and xenophobes. We should criticize and fight back those who preach oppression based on any religion or any other basis. This includes Islam.
Ultimately, I’m on the side of the apostates and blasphemers. Death to all domination!
Homonationalism Means Bashing Queers June 9, 2016Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Feminism, Queer politics, Transhumanism.
Tags: Albuquerque, Albuquerque Pride, anarchism, homonationalism, LGBT, queer
I just got back from Albuquerque’s Trans March to the Pride Candlelight Vigil. As I yelled “Death to the United States!” and “Death to imperialism!” during the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem, two homonationalists put their hands on me, threatened to beat me up, grabbed my sign, and temporarily pulled it off its handle. This neatly illustrates what inclusion entails for normative LGBT subjects: bashing queers.
Earlier, during the Trans March, I engaged violent insurrectionist propaganda of the deed by following the lead of a few other folks and walking into the lane of traffic we were supposed to leave open. Security, safety, or whatever-the-hell people in reflective vests told me to know my place and get back in line. At first I ignored them. At a stop, when I don’t believe I was actually even blocking traffic, my presence out of the assigned area created a scene. One reflective person put their hands on me. Others endeavored to persuade me to conform. They said I was risking arrest. Somebody in the crowd said I needed to be peaceful.
“Death to peace!” I shouted. “There is no peace!”
When the march began moving again, I joined the main flow but on the outer edge, partially in the forbidden zone. When a person who identifies as an anarchist came to whip me into shape, I lost it and rushed through the crowd to the sidewalk. I the left the march at that point, as far I was concerned. I followed along as a bystander or perhaps heckler, not as a participant.
The security folks were doing what they thought was right, I’m sure. While I intentionally pushed the envelope, I suspect I would have gone with crowd after that pause if the peace police had simply let me stand there instead giving me a hard time.
Some attempts at control prove counterproductive.
Taking the whole street would have been safer and more fun. It’s fully appropriate, given the importance of trans lives and trans visibility.
Because of this debacle, I arrived at the vigil already enraged. The event announcer, Tony Carson, told us to get patriotic. “Death to patriotism!” I responded. Carson said something about taking that Saudi Arabia. I continued yelling through the ensuing U.S. nationalist ceremonies. I wasn’t in any mood to hold back.
Carson was the first homonationalist to confront me. Ey demanded that I leave, threatened to hurt me, and got up in my personal space. I alternated between yelling anti-U.S. slogans for everyone to hear and arguing with em. Ey grabbed my sign and we struggled over it. Another homonationalist came up and said ey would knock me out. Ey identified as a veteran. I said was condemning the United States as a political entity, not the individuals in the military. This second homonationalist also grabbed my sign, albeit with less vigor than the first.
A prominent LGBTQ organizer intervened with a liberal narrative of tolerance and free speech. The homonationalists had assaulted me and threatened me with bodily harm, but whatever. We’re all equal; it’s all good. Homonationalists who immediately turn to threats and physical attacks are the same as loud but technically peaceful queer anarchists as far as the big-tent LGBTQ movement is concerned, right? We just need to learn to get along. What’s a little domination, hierarchy, and oppression between family?
Nah, y’all ain’t my family.
Eventually a few folks with (un)Occupy Albuquerque approached and engaged. It felt like they had my back in the moment.
Although the homonationalists didn’t deliver the bashing they talked about, their repeated threats and physical aggression show how homonationalism functions. Becoming a respectable LGBT subject means disavowing radical queers who pose a danger to the nation. It means bashing those radical queers if they criticize the nation and won’t shut up.
After all, violence against the enemy and against the traitor is what nationalism is all about. It’s not surprising that these folks want to hurt me for insulting the United States, but it does tell you everything you need to know about the mainstream LGBT movement.
Homonationalists are another group of queer bashers. Their norms ain’t quite the same as your stereotypical straight homophobic man’s are, but they enforce them in the same fashion.
Albuquerque Pride condones and enables homonationalist queer bashing.
Queer anarchists struggle against all such policing. I wish had a queer transhumanist anarchist crew. (Ideally, each of these identifications implies the other two.) However, this is Albuquerque. Furthermore, queer transhumanist anarchist values hardly lend themselves to community.
While I respect certain oppositional nationalisms under present conditions, I consider U.S. nationalism utterly pernicious. Emma Goldman’s analysis of nationalism from the early twentieth century remains essentially correct. Nationalism and militarism stand in direct conflict with the core principles of freedom and justice, as well as with those of innovation, science, and technology. Sure, nationalism and militarism fuel technoscientific development at times, but much of this is wasted effort. Ultimately, free flow of information and of people does the most to advance science and technology, to make transhumanist dreams reality. Borders, militaries, and governments cause vast human suffering and hinder progress.
Death to the United States!
Donate to ABQ Trump Protesters! May 30, 2016Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Art, Decolonization.
Tags: Albuquerque, protest, Trump
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Click here to donate to a legal fund for Albuquerque trump protesters facing charges. The Albuquerque Police Department is on a racist witch hunt, looking to arrest up to thirty “thugs” who were at the protest. They may start these additionally arrests and charges as early as tomorrow. That’s why this fund is so important.
Tags: Albuquerque, protest, riots, Trump
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1. The ‘riot’ started out as a street party
2. The city stood behind us
3. The police stood behind Trump and his supporters
4. The police were violent toward demonstrators
5. The crowd was outgunned, but not outnumbered—and unafraid
Read the full piece here.
Albuquerque Protests Trump May 25, 2016Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Feminism, Queer politics.
Tags: #ExpropriateTrump, Albuquerque, Donald Trump, protest, riot, Trump
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Folks here in Albuquerque, New Mexico held it down at the Donald Trump protest yesterday. The protest had a little bit of everything: signs, chanting, marching, love, peace, rioting, and mayhem.
It began like any other boring protest. We made signs, showed up, and milled about. I look the bus downtown with my #ExpropriateTrump sign. The only comment it got on the bus was from a Trump supporter who expressed the desire to build a wall and bring God back to prominence in the country. At the site of Trump rally, the police quickly herded most of us into a designated protest zone surrounded by steel barricades.
I took up a position alongside the main path into the Trump rally in the Albuquerque Convention Center. Both Trump supporters and stealth protesters were going into the rally. I held my sign and smiled/sneered at folks headed for the Convention Center. Combined with my queer/trans appearance, this was enough to enrage some of the Trump supporters. One of them yelled, “What’s with the dress, man?” Others expressed disgust. One offered me some sort of Christian newsletter, which I refused.
Next we marched around downtown. Most people on the street expressed sympathy. After the march I walked a short distance with a couple comrades, then back to the protest. Under a bridge we encountered three Native folks who asked us about the protest, criticized Trump’s misogyny, and thanked us for protesting even though we’re white like Trump. Inside the Trump rally, various folks rose up with signs and got escorted or dragged out.
At some point many protesters broke through the police line and got right up to the Convention Center. A band of heroes stole Trump shirts and flags and set them on fire. Some protesters tried to get inside but didn’t quite make it.
The cops came down on us after folks tried to get inside the Convention Center, pushing/trampling people with horses, including an elder with a cane. This made us angrier. People threw bottles and pieces of flaming material at the cops. The cops physically pushed us back with their steel barricades. I got pretty nicely squished for a moment during this process. The cops used pepper spray as well, which messed up the protesters who received direct hits. Street medics tended to these folks.
Protesters and police faced off by the Convention Center. Some folks periodically hurled gravel, rocks, and bottles. People took selfies in front of the police line. Security folks reflective vests from the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) repeatedly told people to stop throwing things, to keep the peace, and so on. Confrontations between these peace police and more militant protesters broke out. The peace police ended up winning the admiration of the police proper.
During a lull, a reporter came up to me and the two other people I was with and asked if we knew who threw the bottles. I told em no, and that we wouldn’t say if we did know, because snitching ain’t cool. My comrades were nicer but said about the same thing.
I thought it was over when we left the Convention Center area, but the protest transition to partying in the street and fast-paced skirmishing with the cops. Trucks, most sporting one or more Mexican flag, spun their wheels and burned rubber, making noise and smoke.
After a couple hours of that everyone went home, bodies still pulsing with excitement. We stood up to Trump’s quasi-fascist movement and Albuquerque’s murderous police department. Around the same time as we were wrapping up, in another part of the city, U.S. Marshals shot somebody to death.
This piece from KRQE describes the aftermath from the police perspective:
APD says its horses went to the vet Wednesday to be checked out after getting pummeled. They were all cleared by the vet and will be back in service Wednesday night. The nine riders who were on the horses last night suffered minor injuries.
According to APD, every police officer that responded to the violent protest was hit with rocks or debris. Six officers suffered significant injuries to the face, nose, arms and legs after being pummeled with fist-sized rocks. They were treated by rescue personnel on scene.
They say one Sergeant on scene was treated for smoke inhalation due to fires lit by the protesters. One Sheriff’s Deputy was also injured. There is no word yet on injury totals from the New Mexico State Police and Rio Rancho Police.
Two state police units were also damaged when people ran on top of them.
As you would expect, both local, national, and international media have made a big deal about the supposed violence of the protest. The cops are hunting for 30 supposed “thugs” who “perpetrated violence.” (Remember: No snitching!) In the context of pervasive structural violence, throwing rocks hardly registers. Folks have ample reason to be angry. It’s worthwhile to reflect on our tactics and who we’re hurting, as well on the question of mob mentality, but most of the moral outrage surrounding the protests is bullshit.
The walk-of-shame trick protesters used against Trump supporters is the same tactic that anti-abortion protesters use. That’s a chilling comparison. I think the gravity of the situation warrants it, given the danger of Trump’s movement, but I’m not sure. Ideally we would have shut down the rally by taking the space and insisting on letting Trump supporters know just how horrible what they’re doing is, with both kindness and intensity. However, that wasn’t practical because of police presence. In this strategic context, trying shame Trump supporters has some merit.
I’m more concerned about the borderline and unambiguous oppressive language protesters used. I’m not even really comfortable with the night’s “fuck Donald Trump” anthem, though in the overall context it’s more positive than negative. The word “fuck” is of course common speech and a fabulously convenient way to express opposition, despite its connotations of sexual violence. Using “bitches” and “pussies” as insults ultimately relies on misogyny and anti-queerness. I’m not a fan, though I know this terms have complex usages. Saying “Trump sucks cock” or calling the cops “faggots” gets into explicit anti-queerness. That’s not remotely cool. The same goes for fat-shaming and other insults based on physical appearance used against Trump supporters.
También, pues soy gabachx y no es mi lugar decir hispanohablantes como hablar su idioma, pero a mí no me gusta oír personas diciendo “puto” y “chinga tu madre” y cosas similares. Soy putx/jotx/maricón, más o menos. Trump no es puto, es opresor, racista, etc. (Ya sé hay un gran debate sobre la palabra “puto”.) La frase “chinga tu madre” apoya la violencia contra mujeres.
With that said, notably none of the protesters harassed me for my gender presentation. From the anti-Trump crowd I received only compliments.
I hope our protests/riots become increasingly sophisticated, embracing queer/trans culture and utilizing cutting-edge technologies to coordinate. I’m inspired by the passion of both well-known comrades and strangers here in Albuquerque. Expect to see much more like this in the coming months.
Xinachtli’s May Day Message May 1, 2016Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization.
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Obligatory Independence Day Post July 4, 2015Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization.
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