Victims no longer: Spain’s anti-eviction movement 
December 20, 2013

The story of Spain’s economic, social and political crisis is one about property, need and value. And at the heart of that story lies a question that is familiar to the point of cliché: what makes a house a home? It may sound trivial, but in a country where families are sleeping in the street, entire building blocks are devoid of residents, and housing remains out of reach for major swathes of the population (despite the ubiquity of “For Sale” signs in the urban landscape), it is a question that remains largely unanswered by policymakers.

For over four years, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH or “Mortgage Victims’ Platform”, in English) have pursued a simple and poetic response to this question: people living together, for one another. Their campaign for mutual aid, solidarity and civil disobedience strike at the very core of Spain’s power structure, and despite an often overwhelming institutional blockade, they have received the support of up to 90% of the population.

For insight into the PAH’s spectacular support, radically transformative praxis and the institutional challenges they face, I recently spoke with Elvi Mármol, a PAH activist from the city of Sabadell, just north of Barcelona. Though she worked for several years as an accountant, today she is a self-employed sales representative. This, she says, gives her a considerable amount of time to dedicate to the PAH. She is a member of PAH Sabadell’s Cases Committee and the community manager for their social networks, as well as a member of the Collective Bargaining and International Committees for PAH Catalonia.

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How did you come to join the PAH?

Elvi Mármol (EM): Like many people, I arrived at the PAH midway through 2011 through the 15M movement. I wasn’t a part of the 15M movement in my city, but I received a pamphlet promoting a talk by the PAH at the plaza in front of city hall. Until then, I had only heard of the movement through the media and didn’t know that it was present in Sabadell, so I jumped at the chance and went to the talk. I knew that my knowledge of financial products and my experience in fiscal consultancy and bank negotiations would be helpful, so I got to work right away. I was able to contribute, but what I didn’t know was how much the PAH would help me — it’s so much that we’d have to do another interview.

What spurred the creation of the PAH?

EM: In 2007, housing prices were at an all-time high. If we consider these disproportionate prices along with soaring interest rates and decreasing income (since unemployment went from 8.3% in 2006 to 17% in 2009), we find ourselves with an impoverished and debt-ridden citizenry, living in fear of an uncertain future.

In 2006, the V de Vivienda movement (a reference to V for Vendetta that translates to “V for Housing”) was born in Barcelona. For two years, they articulated the struggle for the right to decent housing and denounced the housing bubble, calling for an end to the violence of real estate speculation. When the bubble burst two years later, some of that group’s activists realized that people were going to stop being able to pay their mortgages, and that the struggle would no longer be about access to housing but that many families would actually be left without a home. They also discovered that Spanish mortgage law would leave them with a debt hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives. So in February of 2009, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) was born, which put the failure of housing policies on the agenda and would prove a major blow to the administrations that had pushed the population to become indebted.

The biggest difference between the V de Vivienda movement and the PAH is its members. While the first was mostly made up of young people in precarious work who organized and fought to leave their parents’ homes, the majority of the PAH is made up of families who are being foreclosed on.

What’s the relationship between 15M and the PAH?

EM: The PAH was formed two years before the 15M movement burst onto the scene; there were already groups in Barcelona, Sabadell, Terrassa, Murcia and other cities. The 15M movement in the plazas, then later in the neighborhood assemblies, helped launch PAHs all over Spain. Now there are over 200 PAH groups. And the 15M movement was especially helpful to the Stop Evictions campaign: we went from being 50 or so at the evictions to being hundreds.

Full article

Anti-fascist free speech not tolerated in LondonSeptember 10, 2013
A young man wearing a taqiyah looks up at me as his friend moves out of earshot. He is worried his friend’s family may not understand the minor nature of the crime they have committed. We are in the foyer of Croydon police station, where I am offering support to those arrested at an anti-fascist march. Both men, along with several of their associates, have been released from custody within the last half an hour. A few moments later, a woman informs us that she is three months’ pregnant. She says she was arrested, along with the others, at around 2pm on Saturday and has been in police custody for more than 12 hours.
More arrestees, Spanish, come out, the trickle now gaining some momentum. One of them, a young woman, tells me of how she had asked for an interpreter and had for some considerable time required access to medication while in custody. She was provided with an officer who spoke broken Spanish and who she thinks could barely understand her. At no point was she given access to a doctor or asked about the medication she required. Another man, of Bangladeshi origin, tells me he was arrested on the street on which he lives, while his friend says he was arrested on the street on which his mother lives; both are incredulous that peacefully assembling in such places is a criminal offence.
A few hours earlier, I had been in Sutton police station, once again assisting in legal support. This involved getting names and contact details as well as providing food and drink for people as they were released from custody. The range of languages I overheard in both stations was remarkable: English, French, Arabic, Turkish, Bengali, Italian, Spanish and German. The arrestees offered a representation of the London that I know. Spaniards and Italians talked to British Bangladeshis from Tower Hamlets. Some were activists, most were not. Earlier in the day a friend said he had seen several young women on the protest wearing Galatasaray jerseys while in Sutton I had the pleasure of meeting a group of cousins, nearly all in their teens, speaking Turkish to one another. They had all been arrested.
A total of 286 people were arrested in Tower Hamlets on Saturday as they moved to confront a nearby demonstration of the English Defence League. The arrestees were a mix of activists, many from the Anti-Fascist Network, and local residents. Nearly all were arrested for alleged offences under sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act. For many it felt as if their crime consisted of little more than exercising their democratic right to free assembly.
This episode follows on from the 145 arrests in Fortnum & Mason in 2011, the 182 arrests the following year on the eve of the Olympics, and the 58 arrests of anti-fascist protesters in Whitehall earlier this summer. In all four cases, not to mention countless others, there were few or no charges for more serious public order crimes such as affray or violent disorder (charges which have been deployed in a seemingly highly political manner, most prominently in the 2010 UK student movement on individuals such as Frank Fernie, Zac King and Alfie Meadows). A picture emerges from these figures: anyone who deviates from a choreographed protest route or seeks to step beyond the confines of official dissent, no matter how peaceful, will likely face arrest.
It should be remembered that protest is by nature both contentious and disruptive – any scholar of its history will tell you as much, and if a polity is incapable of dealing with collective contention it is difficult to see how it is embodying democratic principles. That the UK increasingly accepts protest only overseen by official administrators of dissent, such as the TUC, whose lives more closely resemble those with whom they are supposedly in contestation than much of the general public, is of great concern. Even for these institutionally embedded and well-resourced actors the scope for unchoreographed dissent is increasingly limited, and this holds true with regards to not only protest and public order law but also some of the most stringent anti-strike legislation in the OECD. In an age when policymakers claim to want a strong civil society and frequently ask how to politically engage younger generations, mass arrests, primarily of young working-class people whose only crime isassembly, renders clear how insincere such questioning actually is.
Those arrested on Saturday represent the London I have come to know: ethnically diverse, of all ages and from a range of economic backgrounds; bound together by mutual respect of difference and recognition of shared commonality. On the other hand the actions of the police on the day represented the continuation of a strategy based on a complete disdain for the principles of free association and assembly. A bronze commander standing by a number of empty buses, soon to be filled with protesters, smirked when he said: “We’re not leaving until these wagons are full.” Such words and the equivalence he drew between a politically engaged public and cattle to fill quotas belies the contempt in which the public, when they choose to disagree, are ultimately held.

Source

Anti-fascist free speech not tolerated in London
September 10, 2013

A young man wearing a taqiyah looks up at me as his friend moves out of earshot. He is worried his friend’s family may not understand the minor nature of the crime they have committed. We are in the foyer of Croydon police station, where I am offering support to those arrested at an anti-fascist march. Both men, along with several of their associates, have been released from custody within the last half an hour. A few moments later, a woman informs us that she is three months’ pregnant. She says she was arrested, along with the others, at around 2pm on Saturday and has been in police custody for more than 12 hours.

More arrestees, Spanish, come out, the trickle now gaining some momentum. One of them, a young woman, tells me of how she had asked for an interpreter and had for some considerable time required access to medication while in custody. She was provided with an officer who spoke broken Spanish and who she thinks could barely understand her. At no point was she given access to a doctor or asked about the medication she required. Another man, of Bangladeshi origin, tells me he was arrested on the street on which he lives, while his friend says he was arrested on the street on which his mother lives; both are incredulous that peacefully assembling in such places is a criminal offence.

A few hours earlier, I had been in Sutton police station, once again assisting in legal support. This involved getting names and contact details as well as providing food and drink for people as they were released from custody. The range of languages I overheard in both stations was remarkable: English, French, Arabic, Turkish, Bengali, Italian, Spanish and German. The arrestees offered a representation of the London that I know. Spaniards and Italians talked to British Bangladeshis from Tower Hamlets. Some were activists, most were not. Earlier in the day a friend said he had seen several young women on the protest wearing Galatasaray jerseys while in Sutton I had the pleasure of meeting a group of cousins, nearly all in their teens, speaking Turkish to one another. They had all been arrested.

A total of 286 people were arrested in Tower Hamlets on Saturday as they moved to confront a nearby demonstration of the English Defence League. The arrestees were a mix of activists, many from the Anti-Fascist Network, and local residents. Nearly all were arrested for alleged offences under sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act. For many it felt as if their crime consisted of little more than exercising their democratic right to free assembly.

This episode follows on from the 145 arrests in Fortnum & Mason in 2011, the 182 arrests the following year on the eve of the Olympics, and the 58 arrests of anti-fascist protesters in Whitehall earlier this summer. In all four cases, not to mention countless others, there were few or no charges for more serious public order crimes such as affray or violent disorder (charges which have been deployed in a seemingly highly political manner, most prominently in the 2010 UK student movement on individuals such as Frank FernieZac King and Alfie Meadows). A picture emerges from these figures: anyone who deviates from a choreographed protest route or seeks to step beyond the confines of official dissent, no matter how peaceful, will likely face arrest.

It should be remembered that protest is by nature both contentious and disruptive – any scholar of its history will tell you as much, and if a polity is incapable of dealing with collective contention it is difficult to see how it is embodying democratic principles. That the UK increasingly accepts protest only overseen by official administrators of dissent, such as the TUC, whose lives more closely resemble those with whom they are supposedly in contestation than much of the general public, is of great concern. Even for these institutionally embedded and well-resourced actors the scope for unchoreographed dissent is increasingly limited, and this holds true with regards to not only protest and public order law but also some of the most stringent anti-strike legislation in the OECD. In an age when policymakers claim to want a strong civil society and frequently ask how to politically engage younger generations, mass arrests, primarily of young working-class people whose only crime isassembly, renders clear how insincere such questioning actually is.

Those arrested on Saturday represent the London I have come to know: ethnically diverse, of all ages and from a range of economic backgrounds; bound together by mutual respect of difference and recognition of shared commonality. On the other hand the actions of the police on the day represented the continuation of a strategy based on a complete disdain for the principles of free association and assembly. A bronze commander standing by a number of empty buses, soon to be filled with protesters, smirked when he said: “We’re not leaving until these wagons are full.” Such words and the equivalence he drew between a politically engaged public and cattle to fill quotas belies the contempt in which the public, when they choose to disagree, are ultimately held.

Source

Global protest grows as citizens lose faith in capitalism, politics and the state
The myriad protests from Istanbul to São Paulo have one thing in common - growing dissent among the young, educated and better-off protesting against the very system that once enriched them. And therein lies the danger for governments.
June 23, 2013

The demonstrations in Brazil began after a small rise in bus fares triggered mass protests. Within days this had become a nationwide movement whose concerns had spread far beyond fares: more than a million people were on the streets shouting about everything from corruption to the cost of living to the amount of money being spent on the World Cup.

In Turkey, it was a similar story. A protest over the future of a city park in Istanbul – violently disrupted by police – snowballed too into something bigger, a wider-ranging political confrontation with prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has scarcely been brought to a close by last weekend’s clearing of Gezi Park.

If the recent scenes have seemed familiar, it is because they shared common features: viral, loosely organised with fractured messages and mostly taking place in urban public locations.

Unlike the protest movement of 1968 or even the end of Soviet influence in eastern Europe in 1989, these are movements with few discernible leaders and often conflicting ideologies. Their points of reference are not even necessarily ideological but take inspiration from other protests, including those of the Arab spring and the Occupy movement. The result has seen a wave of social movements – sometimes short-lived – from Wall Street to Tel Aviv and from Istanbul to Rio de Janeiro, often engaging younger, better educated and wealthier members of society.

What is striking for those who, like myself, have covered these protests is often how discursive and open-ended they are. People go not necessarily to hear a message but to take over a location and discuss their discontents (even if the stunning consequence can be the fall of an autocratic leader such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak).

If the “new protest” can be summed up, it is not in specifics of the complaints but in a wider idea about organisation encapsulated on a banner spotted in Brazil last week: “We are the social network.”

In Brazil the varied banners underlined the difficulty of easy categorization as protesters held aloft signs expressing a range of demands from education reforms to free bus fares while denouncing the billions of public dollars spent on stadiums for the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics two years later.

"It’s sort of a Catch-22," Rodrigues da Cunha, a 63-year-old protester told the Associated Press. "On the one hand we need some sort of leadership, on the other we don’t want this to be compromised by being affiliated with any political party."

As the Economist pointed out last week, while mass movements in Britain, France, Sweden and Turkey have been inspired by a variety of causes, including falling living standards, authoritarian government and worries about immigration, Brazil does not fit the picture, with youth unemployment at a record low and enjoying the biggest leap in living standards in the country’s history.

So what’s going on? An examination of the global Edelman Trust Barometer reveals a loose correlation between the ranking of a country on the trust scale and the likelihood of protests. The trust barometer is a measure of public confidence in institutions compiled by the US firm Edelman, the world’s largest privately owned PR company.

In 2011, at the time the Occupy movement was being born in Zuccoti Park on Wall Street, the UK and the US were both firmly placed at the bottom of the “distrusters” while Brazil topped the “trusters”. By this year Brazil had dropped 30 points on the table, while Spain and Turkey, which have both seen protests this year, were both in the distrusted category.

Paul Mason, economics editor of BBC2’s Newsnight and author of Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions, has argued that a key factor, largely driven by new communication technologies, is that people have not only a better understanding of power but are more aware of its abuse, both economically and politically.

Mason believes we are in the midst of a “revolution caused by the near collapse of free-market capitalism combined with an upswing in technical innovation” – but not everyone is so convinced.

What does ring true, however, is his assertion that a driving force from Tahrir Square to Occupy is a redefinition of notions of both what “freedom” means and its relationship to governments that seem ever more distant. It is significant, too, that many recent protests have taken place in the large cities that have been most transformed by neoliberal policies.

Tali Hatuka, an Israeli urban geographer, whose book on the new forms of protest will be published next year, identifies the mass mobilisations against the Iraq war in 2003 as a turning point in how people protest. Hatuka argues that, while previous large public protests had tended to be focused and narrow in their organisation, the Iraq war protests saw demonstrations in 800 cities globally which encompassed and tolerated a wide variety of outlooks.

"Most recently," Hatuka wrote in the journal Geopolitics last year, "this spirit has characterised the Arab spring and New York’s Occupy Wall Street, which were protests based on informal leadership and a multitude of voices."

"Up to the 1990s," she said last week, "protests tended to be organised around a pyramid structure with a centralised leadership. As much effort went into the planning as into the protest itself. And the [impact on the] day after the protest was as significant as the event itself. Now protest is organised more like a network. It is far more informal, the event itself often being immediate."

Hatuka cautions against generalising too much – distinguishing between the events of the Arab spring, where mass protests were able to remove regimes, and protests in western democracies. But she does point to how the new form of protest tends to produce fractured and temporary alliances.

"If you compare what we are seeing today with the civil rights movement in the US – even the movements of 1989 – those were much more cohesive. Now the event itself is the message. The question is whether that is enough."

She suspects it is not, pointing to how present-day activism – from the Iraq war demonstrations onwards – has often failed to deliver concrete results with its impact often fizzling out. Because of this, current forms of protest may be a temporary phenomenon and may be forced to change.

Another key feature of the new protests, argues Saskia Sassen, a sociology professor at Columbia University, New York, is the notion of “occupation” – which has not been confined to the obvious tactics of the Occupy movement. Occupations of different kinds have occurred in Tahrir Square, Cairo, in Gezi Park, Istanbul, and during widespread social protests in Tel Aviv, the Israeli capital, in 2011.

"Occupying is not the same as demonstrating. Many of the [recent] protests made legible the fact that occupying makes novel territory, and thereby a bit of history, using what was previously considered merely ground," Sassen wrote recently. "Whether in Egypt, the US, or elsewhere, it is important that the aim of the occupiers is not to grab power. They were and are, rather, engaged in the work of citizenship, exposing deep flaws and wrongs in their polity and society.

"This is a very peculiar moment," Sassen told the Observer. "This form of protest is very amorphous in comparison with the movements that came before." She argues that one distinguishing factor is that many of the protest movements of the past decade have been defined by the involvement of what she calls "the modest middle class", who have often been beneficiaries of the systems they are protesting against but whose positions have been eroded by neoliberal economic policies that have seen both distribution of wealth and opportunities captured by a narrowing minority. As people have come to feel more distant from government and economic institutions, a large part of the new mass forms of dissent has come to be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate ideas of "citizenship".

"Often what people are saying is that you are the state. I’m a citizen. I’ve done my job. You’re not recognising that."

Sassen’s belief that many of the recent protests are middle-class-driven appeared to be confirmed overtly – in the case of Brazil, at least – by President Dilma Rousseff, when she acknowledged that the new middle classes “want more and have the right to more”.

For an older generation of political theorists, as Sassen admits, not least those from a Marxist background, the current trends have sometimes been puzzling. “I remember talking to [British Marxist historian] Eric Hobsbawm – a dear friend. He asked me: ‘What’s up [with Occupy]?’ I said it is a very interesting movement. But his reply was: ‘If there is no party, then there’s no future.’”

Indeed, it was precisely this concern two years ago that led Malcolm Gladwell – in a controversial essay for the New Yorker, Small change: why the revolution will not be tweeted – to ask a similar question: whether networks of activists modelled on social media and with “weak tie-ins” can sustain themselves in the long run.

"The old pyramid way of organizing protests does have its limitations, but so too do the new ways of organizing," says Hatuka. "Often it does not feel very effective in the long run. People will often go for a day or two and these protests are not necessarily offering an ideological alternative."

Source

I hope desperately that these are just the first hiccups leading to volcanic eruption that will change humanity forever. Keep dreaming, keep thinking & talking about the type of world you’d like to live in, keep movement building, keep building solidarity, keep engaging, stay active, encourage each other, build community.

We will either erupt into an unprecedented revolutionary period or the slow neo-liberal crawl to hell, creating dystopian security states and powerful oligarchies alongside massive slums will continue to slowly cultivate. I think the first is actually more likely than the latter. This world is unsustainable. This trajectory is unsustainable. We were born in this time & we are the ones who have the responsibility to shape what it will become. 

Toward a Global Spring we hope is unlike anything humanity has ever seen before!
June 5, 2013

Athens. Barcelona. Tunis. Cairo. Tripoli. Sana’a. Santiago. Bahrain. Wisconsin. #YoSoy132. Indignados. Red Square. #OccupyWallStreet. Pussy Riot. Blockupy. Damascus. #IdleNoMore. #NoKXL. Istanbul. & so many unmentioned movements that have birthed a new generation of socially/politically conscious democracy fighters & has facilitated our finding each other! In this time, history is being written every day & important events are constantly unfolding. They’re laying ground work that can be built upon amidst social conditions that humanity has never experienced before.

What can we learn from the beating heart of Gezi Park, the blood soaked Taksim concrete, the barricades of Beşiktaş? One thing: the dream of a Global Spring is not dead. It is still in its infancy, kicking and screaming.

Look around! This is what democracy looks like. The future is being built as we speak. What will it be? Singularity, or Nightfall? A sane sustainable future or a 1000 year Dark Age?

Dare to dance without knowing the next step. And then take that step with others. Beijing, maybe you’re next. Or London, Moscow, Delhi, Ottawa. Then… we take New York like never before.

As the second anniversary of Occupy approaches, the indignation, the precarity — the gnawing feeling that life under modern capitalism is a dead-end, and that the future it leads to does not compute — is culminating in some kind of global big bang. The world as we know it must burst. The call is out for a new way of being… and it is being heard. A chain reaction of refusal against capitalism is underway. The global insurrectionary pulse is going steady, and now we’re racing forward. Think in a historical context – this time is mesmerizingly active.

There’s little room for bystanders at this point in the game. Let’s all get off our asses, do what we can and pitch in to build this new world.

Here at Culture Jammer HQ, we’re just about to toss another mindbomb into the mix. After many months of hard work from our Spanish translator team, we are thrilled to announce the official launch of Adbusters en español into cyberspace!

Using our independent Spanish App for iOS, you can immediately access a high-res, English-less version of Adbusters, and peruse through volumes like the Big Ideas of 2013 and the Mental Breakdown of a Nation issue and the first installment of our Epic Human Journey series.

When the revolutionary spark settles in your fingertips, submit all your reflections, mind-bombs and ideas de rebelión en español to barbara@adbusters.org — make the radical Spanish and Latin American voices a rising tide that can’t be quelled!

Meanwhile, we’re composing Part 3 of the Epic Human Journey and ordering new Corporate America flags in preparation of July 4 in the USA, where everyone deserves to be reminded of the corporations that stand behind the blinding, glittering stars. We’re also mining the cybersphere for the next generation of #Killcap players, campus-borne meme warriors, and the latest edgy jams — like this one in the UK.

We won’t stop doing what we do until our current global system heaves… Are you with us?

Time to play jazz.

For the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ

Source

Changed some of the original language & added a few things. I can always count on AdBusters to either make my heart sing or my head ache. This time it was the former.  

'Moral Monday' protest in North Carolina: 151 arrested as activists decry extreme right-wing agenda
June 4, 2013

Upwards of 1,600 demonstrators amassed outside the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh on Monday, railing against the “extreme agenda” of the GOP-controlled legislature, WNCN reported. As attendees of the “Mega Moral Monday” protest spilled from the square outside the building and into the state Senate chambers, WRAL reported that 151 were arrested and released by 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

Monday’s demonstration is the latest in a series of “Moral Monday” events organized by the North Carolina NAACP and other civil rights groups, activists and unions. They’ve been taking place since April, though the gathering this week was by far the largest, and the arrests nearly doubled the total of the previous four protests. Organizers have decried the increasingly conservative nature of the state legislature, which has been pushing controversial issues such as voter ID, hydraulic fracking and cuts to education spending.

"The people are awake now, and we have decided to stand up," state NAACP chapter president Rev. William Barber told the crowd Monday. "We are a movement. This is not a moment." Republicans inside the building appeared largely unmoved, despite the raucous protests.

Source

See Philip Radford (Greenpeace director)’s post on the environmental contingency at moral Monday’s

Protesters & riot police clash for a second day in Istanbul on Saturday, a day after environmental protest flared into a massive outcry against Turkey’s government!
June 1, 2013

The unrest, which has spread to other cities, marks one of the biggest protests since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan first came to power in 2002.

On Saturday police fired tear gas at protesters gathering in Taksim Square, the epicenter of the demonstrations that have left dozens of people injured and have earned Turkey a rare rebuke from its ally Washington. Hours earlier, several hundred protesters waving Turkish flags advanced despite police firing water cannon and crossed the Bosphorus Bridge to the European side of the city, according to local media.

The unrest erupted into anti-government demonstrations after police on Friday moved into Taksim to break up a protest against the razing of a nearby park. Clashes raged during the night, as thousands of people marched through the city, some banging pots and pans as residents shouted support from the windows.

Others held up cans of beer in defiance of a recent law, supported by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which restricts the sale of alcohol and prohibits it during the nighttime hours. Critics of the law see it as a sign of creeping conservatism in predominantly Muslim but staunchly secular Turkey.

The unrest on Taksim Square, where a sit-in has been held for several weeks to protest against plans to raze a nearby park in order to build a shopping mall. Critics say that the park is the last patch of greenery in the commercial area. Its razing is part of a wider, controversial construction project that aims to turn the area around Taksim – a traditional gathering point for protests and a popular tourist destination – into a pedestrian zone.

After several days of growing protests at the square last week, riot police moved in to break it up on Friday with tear gas and water cannon. Protesters responded by hurling stones, chanting: “Government resign!””The trees, it’s the drop that made the vase overflow,” said Ozkan, a philosophy student in Istanbul.

“People are sick and tired of everything that this government is doing to them.”

As tear gas blanketed the area, thousands of people poured out into the streets in support of the demonstrators in other Turkish cities, including in the capital Ankara, the western cities of Izmir and Mugla and Antalya in the south.

Authorities said that a dozen people were being treated in hospitals for injuries received in the clashes, but Amnesty International said more than 100 protesters were reportedly injured.

More than 60 people have been detained as a result of the unrest, according to regional authorities. Even in Washington, the State Department said it was concerned about the number of people injured as a result of the protests.

Thousands have voiced support for the protesters on social media in recent days, while Amnesty International urged Turkey to “halt brutal police repression” and investigate abuse claims.

Source

See these photos & more from this movement at this Tumblr devoted to the current protest uprising in Turkey.

Indigenous protestors file suit in Brazil after violent eviction in Rio
April 4, 2013

More than a week after the Brazilian Police’s Shock Battalion evicted indigenous and allied protestors using tear gas, pepper spray and batons from a contested site in Rio de Janeiro near one of the country’s top sports stadiums, attorneys for the Tamoio Movement of Original Peoples (TMOP) have filed suit at the Federal Public Ministry to halt the eviction and prevent the demolition of the old museum.

On March 22, close to 200 agents of the Shock Battalion marched into the area and attacked the gathered protestors with tear gas and pepper spray, forcing the removal of the last residents of the Aldeia Maracana and arresting at least six indigenous people from the area.

The TMOP, representing the various Indigenous Peoples who have been settling around the former Indian Museum in Rio de Janeiro, filed the lawsuit and issued a press statement on Monday, April 1st. In their statement the TMOP gave an overview of their activities in the area and their negotiations with local and federal authorities.

The conflict over the site dates back to 2006 when Indigenous Peoples began to occupy the area around the museum which had been closed and abandoned, by building huts and reclaiming the area for its historical and spiritual significance to indigenous people in Brazil. The former Indian Museum sits on property next to the Maracana Stadium, one of the sites for the upcoming 2014 World Cup soccer games.

Since the occupation, the TMOP asserted that indigenous activists have developed programs for use in local schools and universities for the purpose of “…deconstructing the distorted history of our peoples in the majority of textbooks…” as well as start to build a small community dedicated to preserving indigenous history and culture. The community members of the TMOP are from the Pataxo, Tukano, Guarani, Puri, Apurina, Tupinamba, Kaingang and Satere-Mauwe peoples and they refer to their settlement as the Maracana Village.

The press statement also noted the reaction of the Indigenous Peoples to the actions of the Shock Battalion troops.

“We want to reaffirm that we repudiate the barbaric and inhuman way that we were treated by Military Police by order of the government, disrespecting that which was established in the document of reintegration… While the military police used pepper spray, tear gas bombs, rubber bullets and sonic weapons against us, all we had to defend us were only our maracas and our songs evoking our ancestors.”

The TMOP activists also said that they were approaching various government officials, such as the Minister of Agriculture, to negotiate a way of preserving the contested area to include a possible indigenous reference center.

They also noted that, “…the property of the old Indian Museum, located in the historic center of resistance Tupinambã¡ and Tamoia against the Portuguese invasion… There were the spirits of our ancestors and it was time to return home.”

Source

Democracy@Work: A Movement toward democratic workplaces
Ricahrd Wolff on raising money to start WSDEs
February 28, 2013

Where would WSDEs obtain the money needed to start and/or later grow their enterprises? Existing WSDEs have answered that question practically in a variety of ways. In addition, we can suggest still other ways that could be established. The problem of raising the money needed to start or grow a workers’ cooperative or self-directed enterprise is solvable. Of course, each WSDE will need to locate and access money resources and not every WSDE’s efforts to do so will be successful. That was always true for capitalist enterprises as well. Financing issues are always enterprise problems, but they are not an insurmountable barrier for transition to a WSDE-based economy.

Here then is a discussion of some ways WSDEs have raised money. One widespread practice is to require each worker in a WSDE to contribute a kind of entry fee in cash that becomes part of the capital of the enterprise. Other known sources for capital are local or regional social institutions (such as municipal or regional governments, religious establishments, non-governmental community centers and organizations, foundations offering grants or loans, trade unions, and political parties). Federal or central governments have also provided such capital. Thus, for example, under Italy’s Marcora Law since 1985, lump sum grants for establishing worker cooperatives may be chosen by unemployed workers (with certain conditions) in lieu of weekly unemployment compensation checks.

As is clear already above, the provision of money to WSDEs can take the form of grants, investments, or loans. Grants refer to provisions of money to WSDEs for which grantors do not expect a cash return. Grantors motivation is support for social transition to a greater number and/or greater social influence of WSDEs. In contrast, investments are motivated by desire for a cash return with or without the additional motivation of support for such a social transition. WSDEs could allow common shares to be purchased by such investors and could pay dividends to their owners. Of course, in a WSDE it would be the workers, in their collective capacity as their own board of directors, who would determine whether to pay a dividend and at what rate. WSDEs could likewise issue preferred shares paying fixed dividends and bonds paying fixed interest rates. WSDEs could also borrow from banks.

By these means, WSDEs would secure financing in ways similar to how capitalist enterprises have been doing so, but with these key and major differences. No matter how money is secured, the internal organization of the WSDE cannot be compromised since its existence and indeed growth is the premise and purpose of securing the money. Thus, if common shares were sold by a WSDE, the purchasers would not have the right that they enjoy in capitalist systems, namely to select by voting who will be on the board of directors of the WSDE. That is because the constituting definition of WSDE is that only the workers and all the workers comprise the enterprise’s decision-making board of directors. In short, providers of money to WSDEs would need to accept the operating principles governing WSDEs.

Many providers of money capital to WSDEs have accepted those principled conditions. Indeed, as the example of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation shows, when WSDEs grow large enough, they can establish and grow their own bank subsidiaries or allied bank enterprises – themselves also WSDEs. Needless to say, banks organized as independent WSDEs or as subsidiaries of non-bank WSDEs will all the more readily facilitate and broaden access to money for further WSDE growth and expansion.

We may also suggest further ways in which money could be raised for WSDEs. If supported by strong political organizations in economies where capitalist enterprises still predominate, financing for WSDEs might become a major political objective of those organizations. For example, during recurring capitalist downturns, high unemployment could be addressed by suggesting a government employment program focused on providing the money (and perhaps also the technical and managerial supports) for WSDEs as the best way to revive employment. Italy’s Marcora Law provides one effective model for doing this. Others might entail building on existing initiatives such as Small Business Administrations , Women’s Business Administrations and Minority-led Business Administrations that exist in various forms in many countries. They enable certain kinds of businesses to get special government supports (grants, below-market-rate loans, technical assistance, preference in government purchasing, and so on) because the growth of those businesses is thought to be a worthwhile social goal. A political movement supporting the growth of WSDEs could ask that they be accorded the same sorts of special government supports for parallel reasons.

An example of such reasons is that the increase of WSDEs would provide all workers with a real freedom of choice. Workers could compare and choose between employment within capitalist enterprises or within WSDEs. In capitalist countries today no such choice exists for the vast majority of workers. Consumers too would have a new choice available to them: they could purchase goods and services from capitalist or from WSDE sources. They could support the organization of production they prefer (much as many can now choose according to country of origin, physical ingredients, and whether “fair trade” has been observed in exchanges prior to the act of purchasing the final product).

Of course, the history of nearly all successful WSDEs shows that self-financing was often important. That is, net revenues of a WSDE were partly used to enable growth of that enterprise and/or provision of money to another WSDE. Where a country or a region had a significant tradition of other kinds of cooperative enterprises (credit unions, purchasing coops, sales coops, ownership coops, and so on), it might well be possible to appeal successfully to them for money provision to establish or grow WSDEs. The grounds for such appeals would be twofold: (1) to extend the cooperative principle governing those other enterprises into the process and organization of production itself, the hallmark of WSDEs, and (2) to thereby strengthen the larger cooperative movement for all its component parts. For example, WSDEs could join or partner with credit unions, while credit unions might find ways to help finance WSDEs premised on such partnerships, etc.

Final thought: establishing WSDEs might also become a policy of new social movements. Partnerships between such movements and WSDEs might well strengthen them both.

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Posting this because I’ve been thinking about how best to raise initial funds for a Workers’ Self-Directed Enterprise – I hope to be able to start the process in the next 12-18 months.

Thousands of people are marching on Spain’s parliament to protest austerity measures imposed by the government.
February 23, 2013

Saturday’s protest comes on the 32nd anniversary of a failed attempt by the armed forces to overthrow the government. Several protest groups joined forces under a single slogan called “Citizens’ Tide, 23F,” referring to the Feb. 23, 1981 attack by armed forces on Spain’s parliament.

Organizers say that Spain today “is under a financial coup” and have called on people to march to parliament to protest austerity measures and what they say is government favoritism toward financial institutions at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Marchers decried “the pressure of financial markets” and corruption in government and the country’s banking system, and called on lawmakers to find alternatives that won’t “give away” the welfare state.

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Striking workers at the Vio.Me factory in Thessaloniki, Greece who have not been paid since May 2011 have decided to restart production under workers’ control on February 12, 2013 (tomorrow). 

With unemployment climbing to 30%, workers’ income reaching zero, sick and tired of big words, promises and more taxes, unpaid since May 2011 and currently withholding their labour, with the factory abandoned by the employers, the workers of Vio.Me. by decision of their general assembly declare their determination not to fall prey to a condition of perpetual unemployment, but instead to struggle to take the factory in their own hands and operate it themselves. Through a formal proposal dating from October 2011 they have been claiming the establishment of a workers’ cooperative under full workers’ control, demanding legal recognition for their own workers’ cooperative, as well as for all the others to follow. At the same time they have been demanding the money required to put the factory in operation, money that in any case belongs to them, as they are the ones who produce the wealth of society. The plan that was drawn up met with the indifference of the state and of trade union bureaucracies. But it was received with great enthusiasm by the world of the social movements, which, through the creation of the Open Initiative of Solidarity in Thessaloniki and afterwards with similar initiatives in many other cities, have been struggling for the past 6 months to spread the message of Vio.Me across society.

Now it’s time for worker´s control of Vio.Me.!

The workers cannot wait any longer for the bankrupt state to fulfil its gratuitous promises of support (even the 1000-euro emergency aid promised by the Ministry of Labour was never approved by the Minister of Finance). It’s time to see the Vio.Me. factory –as well as any other factory that is closing down, going bankrupt or laying off its workers- reopened but its workers, and not by its old or new bosses. The struggle should not be limited to Vio.Me., in order for it to be victorious it should be generalized and spread to all the factories and businesses that are closing down, because only through a network of self-managed factories will Vio.Me be able to thrive and light the way towards a different organisation of production and the economy, with no exploitation, inequality or hierarchy.

When factories are closing down one after another, the number of the unemployed in Greece is approaching 2 million and the vast majority of the population is condemned to poverty and misery by the governing coalition of PASOK-ND-DIMAR, which continues the policies of the preceding governments, the demand to operate the factories under workers’ control is the only reasonable response to the disaster that we experience every day, the only answer to unemployment; for that reason, the struggle of Vio.Me. is everyone’s struggle.

We urge all workers, the unemployed and all those who are affected by the crisis to stand by the workers of Vio.Me and support them in their effort to put in practice the belief that workers can make it without bosses! We call them to participate in a nationwide Struggle and Solidarity Caravan culminating in three days of struggle in Thessaloniki. We urge them to take up the struggle and organize their own fights within their working places, with direct democratic procedures, without bureaucrats. To participate in a general political strike in order to oust those who destroy our lives!

Aiming to establish worker’s control over factories and the whole of production and to organize the economy and society that we desire, a society without bosses!

It’s Vio.Me.’s time. Let’s get to work!
Paving the way for workers’ self-management everywhere!
Paving the way for a society without bosses!

Open Initiative of Solidarity and Support to the struggle of the workers of Vio.Me.

From http://www.viome.org/

Chilean government to prioritize constitutional recognition of indigenous
January 22, 2013

After the various Mapuche summits, President Piñera announced that the constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples would be a new priority of the government.

President Sebastián Piñera recently announced the reactivation of the project for a constitutional recognition of Chile’s indigenous peoples, as well as the creation of a council representing the different ethnic groups of the country.

This commitment marks an effort of the government to resolve the ongoing Mapuche conflict. The government, said the president, will declare the constitutional recognition a “legislative urgency”.  The bill has already been approved by the Senate, however, the impact of the initiative will be more symbolic than truly effective.

“I have decided to make the constitutional recognition and the creation of a council for indigenous peoples a priority. This council must be truly representative of their history, their traditions, their culture, but above all, will allow them to raise their own voices about their future,” Piñera stated.

In addition to these institutional reforms, he also emphasized that a plan would be put in place in order to encourage the economic and social development of the La Araucanía and Biobío regions. This plan, in La Araucanía, is already bearing fruit, according to the president.

“After long years of stagnation, La Araucanía has begun growing and creating jobs. Its unemployment rate has dropped to 6 percent.”

“We believe that Chile is a multicultural country. Among these various cultures, there is one that deserves special recognition: the culture of our indigenous peoples, who were here long before the Spanish conquistadors arrived,” the head of state highlighted.

At the same time, a new meeting was taking place in Temuco between Minister of Social Development Joaquín Lavín, Minister of the Interior Andrés Chadwick, and representatives of the Mapuche communities. The indigenous leaders questioned the government members about their representation, and the ability of the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (Conadi) to satisfy their demands, such as the creation of an Indigenous Ministry.

Minister Chadwick said that the information gathered through the different summits would allow the government to start working on reforms. However, he dismissed the possibility of an Indigenous Ministry, because “the existence of a state within another state is impossible”.

“Nobody can pretend that a dialogue will solve all the current problems,” he concluded.

Source 

It’s annoying how he said “I have decided,”… like it wasn’t that the Mapuches demanded recognition and built a movement around it or that the state was scared of Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco but instead, that he decided to ‘give’ constitutional rights. I wonder if it’s a translation thing or if he’s really just a prick. 

The United States & Canada even more-so have such tremendous responsibility to empower the communities our entire history has been built on the genocide of, and all we do instead is stifle, starve and subject. 

Walmart protests gains momentum as hundreds of thousands demand action on the retail giant profiting from death
January 19, 2013

This week, thousands across the United States put pressure on retail giant Walmart to stop selling assault weapons and ammunition.

According to an earlier report by The Huffington Post, Walmart is facing “increased criticism for continuing to sell assault weapons” in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month.

On Jan. 15, dozens of activists and gun violence survivors gathered for a rally at a Walmart store in Danbury, Conn., and delivered four petitions. With a total of more than 300,000 signatures, the petitions called for the world’s largest retailer to stop selling and advertising assault weapons in stores.

"Walmart is making it easy and appealing to purchase an assault weapon. Assault weapons cause mass murder and should be left for law enforcement and military. Civilians do not need to have any assault weapons in their homes," writes one Change.org petition. "Advertising is something that creates wants and needs. To create a want for such a weapon only promotes violence."

More than 113,000 people have signed the Change.org petition so far.

According to a Friday news release, thousands more have stepped forward in the past few days to demand that Walmart pull assault weapons and ammunition from its shelves.

"Since the petition delivery on Tuesday, more then [sic] 10,000 people have taken to Walmart’s Facebook page to register their voices and urge Walmart executives to honor their 2004 pledge and stop selling assault weapons and ammunition," the release said. "Additionally, organizers from SumofUs.org, MomsRising and Courage Campaign report that more than 2,500 Walmart customers have placed calls to Walmart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas urging the company to stop selling assault weapons in all of their stores. More calls are expected today and throughout the weekend."

In an earlier statement printed by Reuters, a Walmart spokesman said that the company has been “very purposeful about striking the right balance between serving… customers that are hunters and sportsmen and ensuring that [the retailer sells] firearms in the most responsible manner possible.” He added that assault weapons are sold only at “locations with a high concentration of hunters and sportsmen.”

After the Sandy Hook tragedy, Walmart reportedly pulled the Bushmaster Patrolman’s Carbine M4A3 Rifle from its website. The Bushmaster rifle, a military-style assault weapon, was one of the guns used by the Newtown school shooter.

But Walmart is said to sell “more firearms and ammunition than any national competitor,” and the retailer has continued to stock its shelves with other assault weapons.

A representative for Walmart declined to comment to HuffPost.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), the country’s largest gun rights group, has long been a vocal opponent of most gun control measures, including a ban on assault weapons. In December, the NRA responded to the Sandy Hook tragedy by suggesting that all schools in the U.S. should have armed guards. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre during the group’s post-Sandy Hook press conference.

Reactions to the NRA’s position have been mixed. Though many were critical of the gun lobby’s response, the group has reportedly welcomed more than 250,000 new members since the Newtown shooting.

"[Walmart should] stand up to the NRA and listen to their customers and stop selling these guns," Kaytee Riek, campaign manager at SumofUs, which organized one of the four petitions delivered to Walmart, told The Huffington Post earlier this week.

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Tens of thousands of people march against the government today (October 23, 2012) in Budapest!
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"The year 2014 can bring a change of fortune," (former Prime Minister) Bajnai, 44, told about 25,000 opposition demonstrators in central Budapest about 2 km (1.2 miles) from the pro-government rally. 
"This government has broken, systematically, vertebra by vertebra the backbone of Hungarian democracy," Bajnai said. "The state has become a tool for corruption. This government is a government of failures, therefore, this government must go," he added, laying the foundations of a centrist opposition alliance that he said would formulate an agenda in the period ahead.
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Tens of thousands of people march against the government today (October 23, 2012) in Budapest!

Source

"The year 2014 can bring a change of fortune," (former Prime Minister) Bajnai, 44, told about 25,000 opposition demonstrators in central Budapest about 2 km (1.2 miles) from the pro-government rally. 

"This government has broken, systematically, vertebra by vertebra the backbone of Hungarian democracy," Bajnai said. "The state has become a tool for corruption. This government is a government of failures, therefore, this government must go," he added, laying the foundations of a centrist opposition alliance that he said would formulate an agenda in the period ahead.

Source

Student leaders Camila Vallejo (vice president of the University of Chile Federation) & Noam Titelman (president of the Catholic University Student Federation) will receive the 2012 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award for organizing the largest protests in Chile since the Pinochet era.

A massive student movement has taken over the country in times of unlimited privatization of schools and universities. The award is given by the Institute for Policy Studies and named for the Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and his colleague Ronni Karpen Moffitt, who were murdered in Washington by agents of the U.S.-backed Pinochet regime in September 1976.

We had the opportunity to hear Camila & Noam speak yesterday along with CUNY & Quebec student leaders. It was incredibly inspiring to listen to the struggles of other students across the world & to learn how to move forward in the global fight for education. 

We’ll have more on the student leaders coming soon!