Why Joy Is The Perfect Resistance To A Politics Of Fear

Why joy is the perfect resistance to a politics of fear

By Janey Stephenson for Open Democracy – When you hear the words ‘anti fascist rally,’ what do you visualize? An angry crowd with placards, old hippies holding banners with clichés about love, or maybe those rowdy anarchists in black balaclavas? What about young women and non-binary people gleefully dancing to grime music that’s blasting out of portable speakers? Well, that’s precisely what a recent anti-fascist rally in south London looked like. It’s a perfect example of how collective joy can become powerfully subversive. When the far-right “pro-British” South East Alliance came to Croydon in south London to hold an “anti-immigrant, anti-Islam” rally, they were interrupted with an unexpected weapon: joy. A big crowd of young activists, predominantly from direct action groups like Sisters Uncut and Black Lives Matter UK, danced joyfully right in front of them, guarded by a line of police. It might seem like an unexpected tactic, but logically it makes perfect sense, both to the individuals involved and to the political goals of these groups. Where fascism aims to instill fear, joy is the perfect resistance. To laugh in the face of fear is possibly the bravest act, which is why Saffiyah Khan became an instant hero in the United Kingdom when she smiled at fascist thugs from the far-right, racist movement English Defence League — who began harassing Muslim women in her hometown.

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Attorney Talks Of New Movement In Activist’s Case

Mumia Abu-Jamal is serving life for the murder of a police officer. | Photo: Reuters

By Emily Wells for Truth Dig – A new front may be emerging in the fight to free African-American political activist and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 of the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. The fatal shooting of Faulkner happened in the early hours of Dec. 9, 1981, during a confrontation, witnessed by Abu-Jamal, between his younger brother, William Cook, and the officer at a traffic stop. Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death and kept in isolation on death row for the next three decades; his death sentence was overturned in 2001, and he remains in prison serving a life sentence without parole. In an interview posted last weekend, Rachel Wolkenstein, a lawyer for Abu-Jamal, tells Consortium News’ Dennis Bernstein about the potential she now sees in pursuing the argument that judicial bias in Abu-Jamal’s case should undermine the legitimacy of his conviction: Well, about a year ago, a very important case was decided by the United States Supreme Court. It involved the fact that one of the justices who became the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Ronald Castille, had been the prosecutor in Philadelphia, following [Ed] Rendell as the chief [district attorney].

How Movements Can Succeed In The Face Of Government Repression

Christian JSger

By Molly Wallace for Waging Nonviolence – A greater number of resistance movements are choosing to adopt nonviolent forms of struggle as the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance becomes more widely known. At the same time, however, the success rate of these nonviolent movements is decreasing. What accounts for this lower rate of success, just as the effectiveness of nonviolent strategies is catching on? In “Trends in nonviolent resistance and state response,” in Global Responsibility to Protect, Erica Chenoweth suggests that part of the answer lies in target governments becoming increasingly savvy in their responses to nonviolent movements, now that such movements are recognized to pose a real threat to their power. In light of this possibility, how can nonviolent resistance persist and succeed in repressive contexts? Chenoweth begins by reviewing data on major episodes of nonviolent and violent contention over the 20th and early 21st centuries to discuss changes in the adoption and effectiveness of nonviolent resistance. She finds that, over the last several decades, there has been a substantial rise in the adoption of nonviolent resistance and a corresponding drop in violent resistance in cases of anti-regime or self-determination struggles.

A Global Movement To Confront Drone Warfare

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By Medea Benjamin for Code Pink – The $600 billion annual cost of the US military budget eats up 54% of all federal discretionary funds. It’s no wonder we don’t have money to address the crisis of global warming, build effective public transportation systems, institute a Medicare-for-All health system, or provide the free college education that all our youth deserve. You would think it would be easy to form a united front with activists from different movements who want to redirect our tax dollars. Students fighting for free education should understand that stopping just one weapons system, the expensive and unnecessary Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, would fund the education of all college students for the next two decades. Nurses fighting for universal health care should understand that if we cut the bloated military budget, we’d have plenty of money for a national healthcare system like the Europeans have. Environmentalists paddling their kayaks to block oil-digging ships should understand that if we dramatically cut our military spending, we’d have hundreds of billions of dollars to propel us into the era of green, sustainable energy. Unions should recognize that the military is one of the worst creators of jobs in relation to money spent.

Building A Mass Movement To Stop Mass Killing

Dennis K. at Code Pink/Shutterstock

By Medea Benjamin for AlterNet – The $600 billion annual cost of the US military budget eats up 54% of all federal discretionary funds. It’s no wonder we don’t have money to address the crisis of global warming, build effective public transportation systems, institute a Medicare-for-All health system, or provide the free college education that all our youth deserve. You would think it would be easy to form a united front with activists from different movements who want to redirect our tax dollars. Students fighting for free education should understand that stopping just one weapons system, the expensive and unnecessary Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, would fund the education of all college students for the next two decades. Nurses fighting for universal health care should understand that if we cut the bloated military budget, we’d have plenty of money for a national health- care system like the Europeans have. Environmentalists paddling their kayaks to block oil-digging ships should understand that if we dramatically cut our military spending, we’d have hun- dreds of billions of dollars to propel us into the era of green, sustainable energy. Unions should recognize that the military is one of the worst creators of jobs in relation to money spent. It was easier to connect with other movements when the peace movement was strong while trying to stop George W. Bush’s Iraq war.

How Did Berniecrats Claim the Jackson Mississippi Movement?

From blackagendareport.com

By Bruce A. Dixon for Black Agenda Report – When Jackson’s mayor-elect Chokwe Antar Lumumba stepped to the podium at the cynically misnamed “Peoples Summit”, the annual June pilgrimage of Berniecrats, he carried with him the credibility of a half century’s organizing and struggle in Mississippi and around the country. He put this clout behind Our Revolution and the Berniecrats, who are fundamentally allergic to even the mention of global empire, Israeli apartheid, regime change, drone wars and the disastrous impact of the warfare state. Is that what the Jackson movement wanted? When Chokwe Antar Lumumba stepped to the podium at the Peoples Summit in early June this year it was no small matter. The young mayor-elect of Jackson Mississippi carried with him the moral and political heft of almost half a century’s organizing work in that state and around the country. His father arrived in Mississippi with the Republic of New Afrika in 1971. The RNA was a target of COINTELPRO, so federal and local authorities promptly provoked an August 1971 shootout at RNA’s headquarters which took the life of a police lieutenant and wounded an FBI agent. 11 RNA members were charged and some served long terms in prison. Chokwe Lumumba assisted in their legal defense and after graduating law school in 1975 he settled permanently in Jackson Mississippi.

Venezuela: ‘Our Revolutionary Democratic Experience Is At Stake’

From links.org.au

By Staff of Green Left – The political and economic situation in Venezuela today is the most difficult one we have faced since 1999, the year in which Hugo Chavez assumed the presidency. This situation is occurring within a global economic context, which of course partially explains what is happening: the drop in the prices of raw materials and in Venezuela’s case the fall in oil prices. But there are many other important factors, because what is at stake is not simply control over Venezuela’s natural resources, but the meaning, the reach, the influence even of Venezuela’s revolutionary democratic experience. What is at stake is Chavismo’s political capital, and that explains why, together with the brutal attacks on the economy and the new wave of street violence that began on April 1, we have seen attacks on the republic being made in the name of Chavez, such as Attorney General [Luisa Ortega] has done, as well as some ex-ministers, almost all of whom are conspiring with the right to overthrow the constitutional president, Nicolas Maduro. This anti-Chavismo has not been able to, and will not be able to convert itself into a viable political reference point for the majority of the population.

Straight Line Logic: Never Underestimate The Power Of A Question

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By James Howard Kunstler for Clusterfuck Nation – Entropy never sleeps. It works remorselessly to transform things of value into useless, dissipated waste and heat. Complexity stokes it especially as the law of diminishing returns multiplies the wheels of futility spinning down to zero. Hence, the intellectual decay of American life in which spin is everything, anything goes, and nothing matters. The latest manifestation of this dynamic is the curious movement that styles itself The Resistance, lately adopted by the grotesque handmaiden of the Deep State that the Democratic Party became in the regency of Hillary Clinton. Its mission is to undo the results of the last national election by claiming that Russia undid it. It pretends to seek the restoration of something — but what? Of dissipated power relations within the Deep State itself? President Trump is actually taking care of that by turning government management over to hisgenerals and the minions of Goldman Sachs. The generals are reinvesting in the strategic black hole of our military adventures overseas. The Goldman Sachs appointees are making Wall Street safe for the continued asset-stripping of the USA. The last time I checked, Hillary’s gang did not oppose either of these endeavors.

TigerSwan Private Security Takes On Popular Movement

Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune/AP

By Alleen Brown, Will Parrish and Alice Speri for The Intercept – BY THE TIME law enforcement officers began evicting residents of the Oceti Sakowin Dakota Access Pipeline resistance camp near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on February 22, the brutal North Dakota winter had already driven away most of the pipeline opponents. With protesters’ numbers dwindling, along with nationwide attention to their cause, it would have been a natural time for the private security company in charge of monitoring the pipeline to head home as well. But internal communications between TigerSwan and its client, pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners, show that the security firm instead reached for ways to stay in business. “The threat level has dropped significantly. This however does not rule out the chance of future attack,” states a document dated February 24, two days after the eviction began. “As with any dispersion of any insurgency, expect bifurcation into splinter groups, looking for new causes.” Indeed, TigerSwan appeared to be looking for new causes, too. As The Intercept has reported, the security firm’s sweeping surveillance of anti-Dakota Access protesters had already spanned five months and expanded into Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois.

US Climate Movement: Funnel Money Downward To Survive

Photo by Rainforest Action Network

By Patrick Robbins for Earth Island Journal – Since the election of Donald Trump, many people who have not previously considered themselves “activists” have begun to devote their time, energy, and their money to climate issues. In the weeks following the election, the Sierra Club, for example, gained 85,000 new donating members, constituting a bump of hundreds of thousands of dollars. While we do need more resources to fight climate change, there is a danger that the current funding bump could reinforce a preexisting, massively unequal distribution of money within the climate movement. A file photo of Rainforst Action Network activists protesting Citibank’s investments in the coal industry. Some foundations do not understand the importance of the messy, unglamorous, confrontational tactics that tend to be the purview of smaller organizations. A great study by Sarah Hansen found that in 2009, the top 2 percent of organizations working on climate change received half of all contributions and grants. In 2014, Inside Climate News compared the membership, budget, and reach of major US environmental organizations. It showed that in 2014 the $100 million Sierra Club budget was bigger than 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Friends of the Earth, Credo Action and the League of Conservation Voters’ budgets combined.

Third Parties’ Only Hope: A New Anti-Duopoly Occupy

nationofchange.org

By Patrick Walker for Nation of Change – Political hacks for the Democratic Party, as well as better-intentioned progressives hoping to reform it from within, frequently argue that under our U.S. political system, third parties simply cannot become viable. While that argument holds for long stretches of U.S. history, it fatally ignores significant exceptions. But what it ignores above all is historical imagination: the insight that no human institution is permanent, and that sufficiently abnormal historical circumstances (best described as revolutionary ones) render a long-entrenched, seemingly unshakable system vulnerable to dramatic, virtually overnight overhaul. Simply extrapolating from a long-enduring status quo has already proven lethal in economics. James Galbraith has convincingly argued this about the unquestioned dogma of endless economic growth in his book The End of Normal. From George W. Bush’s presidency on, economists’ success in predicting the U.S. (and global) economy’s performance has almost directly tracked their rejection of their profession’s orthodox consensus.

Envisioning What Kind Of Society We Want To Live In

Austin Texas protest Resist Disrupt Organize Photo from Steve Rainwater-flickr-cc

By Josh Hoxie for Inequality.org – America’s original “Red Scare,” in the years right after World War I, ushered in a decade of intense political repression and deeply conservative public policy. Yet this dark time had a bright side. These dark years saw the beginnings of a political realignment that led to the New Deal and a memorable assault against that era’s outsized inequality. Gar Alperovitz and his colleagues at the Next Systems Project make a compelling case that we might be witnessing the beginnings of a similar realignment here early in the Trump era. Their new book, Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth, lays out what our future could look like if we collectively decided to put people and the planet ahead of short term profit. Donald Trump has dominated the news cycle for months now, sucking up all the air in whatever room his name comes up in. Alperovitz challenges us to think past today’s daily scandals to consider exactly what kind of society we want to live in. We are living, he suggests, in the “prehistory” of the next major system change.

Tearing Down The Walls That Keep Us From Finding Common Ground

AFP DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

By JoAnn McAllister for Waging Nonviolence – The current occupant of the White House wants to build a “real,” “big,” “serious” wall. To avoid a government shutdown, the administration wavered on the timing of funding. But that does not mean a wall, or walls, will not be built. Walls are material structures, and — maybe more importantly — they are metaphors. They promote ideas like possession, property and separation, as well as mine, yours, who belongs, and who doesn’t belong. They create emotional responses: safety, trust, envy, frustration, fear, anger, dread, hostility. The wall on the border between the United States and Mexico is both material and metaphorical. If you have not looked at pictures of the walls, fences, or barriers already installed on some 650 miles of the 2,000-mile border, you should do so right now. Considerable damage to the environment, the economies of border communities, and individual human lives has already been accomplished by the militarization of the border. In 1961, the Berlin Wall appeared almost overnight. It was physical and metaphorical, carrying a weighty ideological message to Western “fascists,” who, according to the U.S.S.R. were trying to destroy the socialist state.

Rev. Barber: America Needs A New Poor People’s Campaign

Rev. William Barber addresses supporters at Halifax Mall outside the state legislature in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, June 17, 2013. CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerry Broome

By William J. Barber, II for Think Progress – In a spectacle of religious hypocrisy last week, preachers who say so much about what God says so little — and so little about what God says so much — stood in the Rose Garden as a backdrop for President Donald Trump’s executive order on “religious liberty.” As they celebrated this administration’s willingness to let them use religious freedom as an excuse to force their “values” on someone else, Trump pointed to the legacy of the African-American church as an example of faith in public life. In every con, there’s a grain of truth, whether the person who is speaking knows it or now. I know the prophetic African American church tradition that grew up on the edges of plantations and spoke clearly for the first time into this nation’s public life when Hariet Tubman and Frederick Douglass first escaped from slavery to freedom. On my mother and father’s side of our family tree combined, I count more than eight hundred years of public ministry in that tradition. We do not know how to preach without engaging the powers in the public square. Whenever I open the Scriptures, I read about a God who hears the cry of the suffering and stands on the side of the oppressed for justice.

Where Is The Peace Movement When We Really Need It?

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By Ethan Young for The Indypendent – We now live under a regime that sees catastrophic war moves as a handy distraction from its endless failures. The boundaries between the executive branch, corporations, finance and the military are fast losing substance. We stand by in horror as they play chicken with the world from Syria to Russia to North Korea. A mass peace movement is urgently needed but still a long way away. Why? There are a number of “common sense” reasons that have been floating around the left for decades. There is a long-held belief that ending the draft removed the life-or-death motivation that revived anti-interventionism beyond all expectations during the Vietnam war. Continued sympathy for the Democratic Party is also blamed for the lack of protest over the war moves of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. However, what is extraordinary about the U.S. peace movement is not that it receded, but that it emerged at all during the 1960s, affecting the national culture and posing lasting problems for both dominant parties. This mini-enlightenment marked a shift in national consensus from ardently pro-military to anti-intervention, with elements of pacifism and persistent anti-fascism that were defining features of the emerging counterculture.