What’s Interesting in Upping the Anti #9

uta_8_final_cover.jpg picture by adam_freedom  Upping the Anti out of Toronto, Canada is perhaps the hottest and best radical left theory/movement journal since it first began publication in late 2005. Releasing its eighth issue as of May 2009, the journal has provided a steady content of articles, interviews, reviews and topic based roundtables by and with movement activists and organizers on the radical left.

  With the tag line “a journal of theory and action” the journal leans towards the more academic side. But unlike some of the more dense and long running left journals (Monthly Review comes to mind), the editorial collective and contributors are nearly all folks engaged in struggle and much of the theory and discussion comes directly out of movement organizing work. It’s not another left journal for radical college professors, but for folks in the movement trying to grapple with many of the difficult issues and conversations that those seeking to create revolutionary change should be. Perspective wise they maintain a pluralistic and non-party stance combined with anti-capitalism, anti-imperialist and anti-oppression politics (the three antis as they call them). Read reviews of issues #3 here and issues #2 and #3 here.

  With this issue UTA brings us an interview “Contour of the Crisis” with three political economy instructors at York University in Toronto on the realities and opportunities for the left in the current financial meltdown (discussed above);  “Movements Where People Can Grow” is an interview/discussuion with Helen Hudson (who among other groups is a board member of the Institute for Anarchist Studies, see their new spiffy website here) with her thoughts on building long-term and sustainable movements; a roundtable with former activists of SLAM (Student Liberation Action Movement, audio archive here) active in opposing tuition increases in the New York public university system in the 1990’s and discussing their strong leadership from women of color; and another roundtable with members of various study groups/circles taken up by radicals in a number of cities.

Helen_Keller.jpg picture by adam_freedom Also, here’s a quote from the back cover of this issue that warms my heart from Helen Kellar, the advocate for the blind. Often left out of history is her radical politics as an anarchist and member of the IWW.

  Capitalism will inevitably find itself face to face with a starving multitude of unemployed workers demanding food or destruction of the social order that has starved them and robbed them of their jobs. in such a crisis the capitalism class cannot save itself… Its police and armies will be powerless to put down the revolt. (1918)

  Here is also a quote on how she first moved towards radical politics from her Wikipedia entry…

   I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers. And the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame [referring to prostitution and syphilis] that ended in blindness.

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Civil War in the United States?

  Could the ever deepening financial crisis lead the US or other powerful nations into civil war or some other type of major internal conflict? Clearly large sections of the population feel a strong disillusionment if not outright disgust with capitalism as a system. Even my mother says “Now maybe we need some socialism” because what we have now clearly doesn’t work.

  But left social movements which would have the potential to respond in a meaningful way to the crisis, which largely exist in small and scattered pockets in the US, have yet to garner the strength to have a national level impact. The only exceptions are probably the UE sit-down strike at Republic Doors and Windows, perhaps the Sacramento tent city encampment of homeless and potentially the immigrant rights protests this coming May 1st.  Each though are largely spontaneous events or one day mobilizations, rather than longer term movements (though May Day protests though could be seen as a mobilization by both smaller grassroots as well as larger institutional forces of larger bases) . The right though seems to have already begun their mobilization and response with the April 15 Tea Party Protests, which seek to channel discontent with the economy and the bailouts into hatred for Obama (and of course the fact he’s Black is no doubt a strong part of it), as well as fears of “socialism” and immigrants. Whether their efforts will be a flash in the pan or something with more longevity is yet to be seen.

   The below article by Immanuel Wallerstein asks this question and explores the growing uneasiness of the world economic elites. While some like Pepe Escobar of The Real News take Wallerstein’s piece (watch his video segment here) as further confirmation that an eruption of rebellion and class conflict is right around the corner, I think that’s a little premature. The elites are afraid not because something will happen, but because they believe that it could happen. With the Texas Governor’s recent bombastic comment in support of succession while speaking at a Tea Party protest, we need to keep in mind that conflict may not be initiated from below, but perhaps by above as well.  -AW

 Civil War in the United States?

By Immanuel Wallerstein, March 15, 2009 

We are getting accustomed to all sorts of breakdowns of taboos. The world press is full of discussion about whether it would be a good idea to “nationalize” banks. None other than Alan Greenspan, disciple of the superlibertarian prophet of pure market capitalism, Ayn Rand, has recently said that we have to nationalize banks once every hundred years, and this may be that moment. Conservative Republican Senator Lindsay Graham agreed with him. Left Keynesian Alan Blinder discussed the pros and cons of this idea. And while he thinks the cons are a bit bigger than the pros, he was willing to spend public intellectual energy writing about this in the New York Times.

Well, after hearing nationalization proposals by arch-conservative notables, we are now hearing serious discussions about the possibilities of civil war in the United States. Zbigniew Brzezinski, apostle of anti-Communist ideology and President Carter’s National Security Advisor, appeared on a morning television talk show on February 17, and was asked to discuss his previous mention of the possibility of class conflict in the United States in the wake of the worldwide economic collapse.

Brzezinski said he was worried about it because of the prospect of “millions and millions of unemployed people facing dire straits,” people who have become aware “of this extraordinary wealth that was transferred to a few individuals without historical precedent in America.”

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