The late sociologist Erik Olin Wright used the phrase “ruptural transformation” as stand-in for revolution, inaccurately summarizing this as “Smash first, build second.” His immensely popular and useful work also unfortunately erased historical European anti-fascist strategy whose approach to revolution differed from the caricature he presented. To move beyond Wright’s important, yet misleading framework, one can even turn to DSA-founder Michael Harrington’s last book, Socialism: Past and Future. Published in 1989, Harrington expanded upon his own earlier critique of the German social democratic party, specifically the electoral path to socialism as strategy against Hitler and the Nazis. Harrington would ultimately look to a leading member of that same party at the end of this book as the basis for what he referred to as a “new middle class” on the march of “visionary gradualism.”
It offers a vision for our collective future, and defines the principles around which we organize our daily living and co-exist with Mother Earth. It is a celebration of life and all the diversity around us. It embraces every element of our cosmos; the sky above our heads, the land beneath our feet, the air we breathe, the forests, the mountains, valleys, farms, oceans, rivers and ponds. It recognizes and protects the inter-dependency between eight million species that share this home with us. We inherited this collective wisdom from our ancestors, who ploughed the land and waded the waters for 10,000 years, a period in which we evolved into an agrarian society. Food Sovereignty promotes justice, equality, dignity, fraternity and solidarity.
The recent death of Stanislav Tomáš, a Roma man from Teplice, Czech Republic, has sparked demonstrations across many European countries. On June 19, a police officer kneeled on Tomáš’ neck while detaining him, leading to his death soon after. Despite the international solidarity among European Roma this case has encouraged, we still have a long way to go in mobilizing politically against all racially motivated anti-Roma violence. Moreover, when it comes to the struggle against anti-Roma racism — or antigypsyism — we are still lacking the solidarity of the leftist social and political movements in Europe. Why can white Europeans see and denounce oppression in Chiapas or Palestine, but not the oppression against Roma that is taking place within their own communities?
It's easy to run with the herd, especially when it can bring possible career advancements and even significant monetary gain. That is why, for so many, making decisions to find a way into the mix, to play the game in order to advance one’s individual objectives, does not present any internal moral debate. It is just common sense. But for the oppressed and their radical intellectuals and activists, accommodationism is not an option without surrendering one’s soul. Glen Ford and many of our generation refused to do that. Glen made the decision to devote himself to being a truth teller on the side of the people back in the 1970s, at a historic moment when it was very easy to be an opportunist.
The morning my mother died was cold and dark, and the snow fall outside was frenzied and piling high. I’d put my headphones on in the night to block out the loud hiss and moan of my mother’s oxygen machine. I was tired. Less than six months after founding the Youth Media Council, which would later become the organization MediaJustice, doctors told my sister and me that sickle cell anemia, a fatal genetic blood disorder, was finally and actively taking my mother’s life. For three years following the end-stage diagnosis I flew home from Oakland to Brooklyn for one week every month to relieve my sister of caregiving duties. As I stood above my mother’s deathbed, her body curved like a crescent moon, my hands a sickled semi-circle around her, a feeling of abject failure gurgled in my throat. I couldn’t swallow it. I couldn’t spit it out.
The COVID-19 pandemic has strained and even overwhelmed the public health, medical care and disaster response systems where governments and state agencies were ill-prepared to contain and suppress infectious outbreaks. In countries where emergency lockdown measures have been adopted without accompanying policies to guarantee income security and housing tenure, there is the additional problem of economic hardship. Already existing and newly formed non-governmental organizations and associations have mobilized to fill the gap. These formal and informal groups assist people forced into the margins by government neglect with free meals, grocery and medicine deliveries, safe housing and even cash.
You can watch neoliberalism collapsing in real-time. Governments whose mission was to shrink the state, to cut taxes and borrowing and dismantle public services, are discovering that the market forces they fetishised cannot defend us from this crisis. The theory has been tested, and almost everywhere abandoned. It may not be true that there were no atheists in the trenches, but there are no neoliberals in a pandemic. The shift is even more interesting than it first appears. Power has migrated not just from private money to the state, but from both market and state to another place altogether: the commons. All over the world, communities have mobilised where governments have failed. In India, young people have self-organised on a massive scale to provide aid packages for “daily wagers”: people without savings or stores, who rely entirely on cash flow that has now been cut off.
By Flood The System - We envision Flood the System as a step towards building the DNA of a robust movement that has the collective power to challenge global capitalism, racism, patriarchy, and oppression. This booklet is designed to give you a sense of why we need to escalate, what Flood the System might look like, and what structures we will all use to organize. The authors drew inspiration for this booklet from the 1986 Pledge of Resistance Handbook, the 1999 WTO Direct Action Packet and the 2014 Ferguson Action Council Booklet. This booklet was edited by Arielle Klagsbrun and Nick Stocks.