Scott Crow is in Olympia for a few days

Activist, anarchist, writer, organizer – Scott Crow – is going to be in Olympia for a few speaking engagements over the next few days. He will be at South Puget Sound Community College on Oct 25th at noon, Room 102, Building 26

Then he will be at Last Word Books on Friday, Oct 26th at 7:30 pm. and one more time in Oly on Monday, Oct 29th at Lecture Hall 2, The Evergreen State College at noon.

Want to understand anarchism? Learn more about it. It’s not what you may think.

Want to continue to misunderstand and misrepresent anarchism? As Bobby Dylan said, “you are going to have to serve somebody…” Choose today, who will you serve? You are going to have to serve somebody.

Black Flags and Radical Relief Efforts in New Orleans: An Interview with scott crow

Author and activist scott crow

“Solidarity not Charity” is a way of feeding people while addressing the underlying problems that cause hunger. The way this manifested itself in Common Ground was to immediately deliver and render aid where the state had failed, and then to leave structures in place so communities can continue to rebuild themselves as they see fit.”

Interview by Stevie Peace & Kevin Van Meter

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina both federal and local authorities failed the population of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. As a result, relief efforts from various sectors of American society flowed south. One of the first and most spectacular and aggressive efforts was Common Ground Relief — formed by strands of the anti-globalization and anarchist movements. scott crow documents these struggles in “Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective”, recently released by PM Press. In this interview, Crow describes the process of becoming an author after being an organizer, reviews the history and myths of Common Ground and explores possible lessons for future progressive and radical organizing. Visit crow’s website at http://scottcrow.org/.

Can you speak to the writing process behind “Black Flags and Windmillsand your shift from an organizer to an author?

One word: difficult. I don’t consider myself a writer; and while I have written a few pieces over the years, it has mostly been out of necessity. From my arrival in New Orleans I took copious notes. Every time I would get moments to get away, I would take notes about organizing and creating an organization to deal with the disaster following Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, I wrote communiqués from just days after the storm and continued for three years. I went back to all of those writings and began turning them into chapters. On a personal level it was healing to write: I came back with post-traumatic stress, couldn’t function in society and felt like the ghost in the machine a lot. The writing actually helped me to relive those traumas in a different way, to really dissect them. It was almost a five-year process; I feel so much better now than I did when I started the book. This is not to say that “Black Flags and Windmills” is a sorrow-filled book. There are lots of beautiful stories along the way and lots of really engaging organizing that was going on. The book describes the anarchist heyday of Common Ground, when the most self-identified anarchists came; this was early September 2005 until 2008. Afterward, the organization became much more structured in a traditional nonprofit way. This is not to denigrate it — just to say that the book focuses on this initial period of “black flags” at Common Ground.

Since memory is a tricky thing, I did outside research and revisited with people. I went back to news articles from grassroots media, reports and blogs to look at specific events and the way things unfolded. Then, I would ask key organizers and New Orleans residents, “Do you remember when this thing happened?” Sometimes it was completely different from how I remembered it. I don’t claim to speak for Common Ground, as I think that would do a disservice to the thousands of people who participated and the hundreds of key organizers that were there.

When I tell a story I want people to understand it and create common bonds. I wrote this book for people who might not have any understanding about radical or anarchist concepts. I always ask myself, “What would my mom think about this?” While I wrote it for people like her, my target audience was those who were coming into movements and might be inspired by what Common Ground was building. I used the stories in the book to give a primer on the theoretical background of anarchism in practice. Another part of the book is telling my own personal narrative. It’s not because I think my story is important, but I wanted to show that I am a regular person that was just caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

Want to know more? Read the whole piece. Come sit in on one of the events.

Michael Parenti on the Pathology of Wealth

Next Friday night, Oct 19th. Community potluck, meet and greet the author, book sales thanks to Last Word Books and free talk from Dr. Michael Parenti at 7 pm. Lecture Hall 1 at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

Parenti in Olympia

For more details, go to the Facebook Event for the People’s Movement Assembly.

 

Global Warming – are we going to wake up and smell the carbon dioxide?

Big deal. Slow moving disaster. We can see it coming, like a slow moving avalanche, but we don’t appear to have the capacity to respond to slow moving disaster.

McKibben has some thoughts on the situation:

Pinata Economics

I have been thinking about Romney and the general casino-style financial sector that has been preying on the US and the world over the past decade and the image of a pinata came to mind. Pinata economics. The willingness, the glee of smashing something pretty to get at the goodies inside really seems to fit with the get really rich really quick schemes of leveraged buyouts.

In These Times has a couple of good articles in the September 2012 issue. One is The Bain Legacy and the other How to Succeed in Business Without Adding Value. Both by David Moberg. I recommend reading them both.

Courtesy Paul Sapiano and Wiki Commons

 

 

Courtesy Gage Skidmore Wiki Commons

 

 

 

 

Pinata Economics. I claim intellectual property rights to that term and now I sell it to the highest bidder. Isn’t that the way these things work?

Wish I knew how to put the ~ symbol on top of the N.

Lo siento mucho, hermanos y hermanas.

Austin's Picks: Is Class Struggle Anarchism

Austin K sent this link along in an email this morning. It’s a couple of years old, but it’s still worth sharing and reading. The links go to interesting websites if you have an open mind about politics, which is to say, that you can imagine political positions that are broader than the republican and democratic party talking points. I am only posting two of the points that Nate pulls from Tom’s article. If you want to see the third point, you are going to have click on the link.  Fair use can look tyrannical.

Nate uses his What in the Hell …? website the way I use smallblueplanet.org, as a staging area to gather ideas, to store links and info, then to compose from that website for publication elsewhere. For me, that makes Nate’s What in the Hell… ? particularly interesting.

What in the Hell is Class Struggle Anarchism?

July 24, 2009

Austust another WordPress.com siteIt’s

Hat tip to Tom Wetzel for this fine article. Check it out. Full disclosure and a little bragging, I know Tom, we’re both involved in the Workers Solidarity Alliance, so I’m biased. Anyhow, read his piece.

My favorite three bits are quoted below. With these bits I was reading it and I was like “yeah, this is what I try to do in this kind
of work but I haven’t put it this clearly before,” which is a cool feeling, like the article put clearly into words what had been more of a gut feeling for me or stuff I’d fumbled and put badly before.

1. “Dual organizational anarchists often say that the role of the anarchist political organization is to “win the battle of ideas,” that
is, to gain influence within movements and among the mass of the population by countering authoritarian or liberal or conservative ideas. Bakunin had said that the role of anarchist activists was a “leadership of ideas.”

But disseminating ideas isn’t the only form of influence. Working with others of diverse views in mass organizations and struggles, exhibiting a genuine commitment, and being a personable and supportive person in this context also builds personal connections, and makes it more likely one’s ideas will be taken seriously.”

2. “mass struggles and mass organizing as the process for changing society…because it is through the active participation of growing numbers of ordinary people, building and controlling their own movements, that they develop the capacity and aspirations for changing society.

From the point of view of “organized anarchism with a class struggle perspective,” two kinds of organization are needed: (1) forms of mass organization through which ordinary people can grow and develop their collective strength, and (2) political organizations of the anarchist or libertarian socialist minority, to have a more effective means to coordinate our activities, gain influence in working class communities, and disseminate our ideas. In the World War 1 era Italian anarchists coined the term “dual organization” for this perspective.

Read the whole piece if you have a couple of minutes.

Austin's Picks: Autonomy Alliance

“It’s a scary time to be involved with radical class struggle. But was it ever any other way?”

Austin Kelly suggests you scan this one from LibCom.org:

 

 

Autonomy Alliance: The interview

 

 

An interview conducted with two members of St Louis libertarian group, Autonomy Alliance.

While in St. Louis, I was lucky enough to stay with two members of the Autonomy Alliance. In that time, I’ve been impressed with the level activity I’ve seen from the group—regular publications, public events (not the least of which included a screening of the 1971 film Sacco and Vanzetti), and running a once-yearly weekend school.

Unlike many of the city-based libertarian groups in the US, I hadn’t heard of them before. So I thought it’d be worth learning a bit more about them. The following interview took place with those same two members, although it’s in personal capacity, so should not be taken as the official AA positions.

Tell me a bit about the group. When were you founded? How many people are currently active? Are members active in any other organizations? What are the particular politics of your group and what level of political agreement do you strive for? What are the activities and projects you’re involved in?

Autonomy Alliance has been active for about 5 years, although it’s current core group has only been active since late 2008. There are about 10 members who attend regular meetings, vote on event proposals, and facilitate annual events. Our members are all involved with other local and national anti-capitalist organizations. AA is made up of PARECONists, social anarchists, radical feminists, and Wobblies. The goal has always been to bring together folks of different radical left-wing backgrounds into a cohesive organization to work on local projects, distribute literature, discuss readings and put out a quarterly newsletter.

One aspect of AA that differs from many radical groups is that we have defined membership, a democratic voting procedure, and agreed upon organizational by-laws which we collectively edit every year or so. While AA is still small in numbers, I think we’re able to focus our time and energy into local projects in a way that’s relatively efficient. I think we all want to avoid the pitfalls that come along with doing things in a disjointed and loosely organized way. We co-sponsor an annual event called Left Wing School, a day long series of workshops and panel discussions on a wide ranging number of subjects, from labor, environmentalism, feminism, Palestine solidarity, etc. The LWS has occurred every December for the past several years. In the past, we’ve also co-sponsored several commemorations of the 1877 General Strike. In 2010, we brought in famous labor historian, Jeremy Brecher, along with popular singer-songwriter David Rovics to participate in this event. It was attended by about 100 people.

Read the whole thing? or turn on Good Morning, America? You make the call.

Politics and Entertainment!

M & I are working on two campaigns for the regular election. The first is Thomas Bjorgen’s run for the Court of Appeals. Tom would simply make a superb judge and I think it’s going to happen. I am certainly going to work to make it happen.

The second campaign we are pounding on is the Thurston Public Power Initiative. This initiative will allow the existing Public Utility District to expand from water services to water and electricity. Thurston is the only county in SW Washington that does not have a public power option. We are going to fix that. This is a pretty simple matter of keeping electric rates low by allowing for competition. A private banking company from Australia purchased Puget Sound Energy a few years ago. PSE is not a local company and the Macquarie Group that owns PSE took 17 million dollars out of Thurston County last year in profits. These profits were offset by the power outages that occurred in Thurston County last winter with the ice storm. I am on PUD power in Lewis County, my power never blinked. Some PSE customers in Thurston County were without power for a week or more. Some advocates for the PSE power monopoly think the solution is that homeowners buy generator sets for back up power. Lots of us think the solution is local jobs trimming the trees and maintaining the lines, local power generation through a PUD that is rooted in the local community and has a commitment to local, sustainable power generation, and local accountability. The PUD commissioners get to face the voters on a regular basis. When do we get to vote on the management of the Macquarie Group or Goldman Sachs or other private financial institutions?

Public power or private profits? That is the choice.

Here is Jon Eppo Epstein sharing his thoughts on the matter:

Political Fables for a Political Year

The WA Post has back to back stories in my digest this morning that I found interesting.

In the first story, the Government Accountability Office found that the Republican’s budget showdown over the debt limit coast the county 1.3 billion dollars last year. That is money that we could have used somewhere else in my opinion. But it shows the hypocrisy and stupidity of the current republican congressional legislators. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the democrats are just chomping at the bit to pass the kind of legislation that the country needs, look at their record in 2009-10 when they controlled Senate, House and White House and we could get banker bailouts, but not the public option for health care. Single payer was not even on the table. The dems are clearly beholden to their corporate funding sources, but they don’t engage in wasteful theatrics like the debt ceiling fight or endless votes to repeal legislation that clearly go nowhere. There are significant differences between the parties, but both parties understand that they cannot legislate against the interest of the wealthy interests that now decide our elections (thanks to Citizens United and Scotus Inc.)

GAO: Debt fight cost at least $1.3 billion

Last summer’s fierce political debate over raising the federal debt limit cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in extra borrowing costs, including hundreds of hours in overtime for federal employees responsible for avoiding default, according to a new government report.

Delays in raising the debt limit forced the Treasury Department to pay an extra $1.3 billion in borrowing costs — and the final sum is expected to climb higher as multi-year obligations and other outstanding costs are added later, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Monday.


In the second story, the League of Conservation Voters is reported to planning to launch a global warming campaign to unseat 5 flat-earth Republicans who have been a little too vocal about their ignorance.

I think it has become more and more difficult for the red-staters to deny global warming. What’s wrong with Kansas is starting to shift from the question about how they can vote against their own best interest over and over to just how bad is the drought going to be? As folks see the crops dry up and experience the consequences of supporting electoral candidates and parties who guarantee that we do nothing about global warming, they may have an epiphany. A lot of folks are going to become believers in global warming through the rough lessons of direct experience.

Torrential rains, floods, derecho windstorms, super tornados, droughts, may provide a wake-up call to folks in the heartland that was never going to be delivered by the threat to polar bears and penguins or rising sea levels that are threatening the coastal states that can’t afford to harbor politically-rooted doubts about climate change.

Here is a bit of the second story and link to the whole thing:

Environmentalists target 5 Republicans who question humans’ impact on climate

The League of Conservation Voters will launch a $1.5 million campaign Tuesday targeting five House Republicans who question the connection between human activity and climate change, in an effort to test whether the issue can sway voters.

Prominent conservative Republicans have challenged the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and other sources are transforming the Earth’s climate. But it has not emerged as a central issue in a national political campaign, and President Obama, who pushed unsuccessfully for national limits on greenhouse gas emissions at the start of his term, has played down the issue over the past two years.

 

Who Is Puget Sound Energy? Let's Check the Title and See Who Owns PSE

Thurston County will get to vote to authorize the Public Utility District to expand into electricity in November. It is on the ballot, friends. We did it. No paid signature gatherers, just volunteers knocking on doors.

Let’s talk about Puget Sound Energy for a moment. It is not a Puget Sound based company despite the name. PSE is owned by the Macquarie Group of Australia. I have nothing against Australians, but the Macquarie Group appears to be an investment company. A slinger of high finance instruments including Collateralized Debt Obligations, one of the casino style financial models that create privatized profit and socialized risk.

The SEC is reported to be considering lawsuits against the Mac Group. Should we continue to trust them with an electricity monopoly in Thurston County or should we vote for PUD Power and have them compete with a utility that is locally owned, locally controlled, and locally accountable? Want to know more about Macquarie Group? here’s a piece from The Australian:

Macquarie Group unit faces US probe over deal

MACQUARIE Group is being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over a botched subprime mortgage bond deal from before the global financial crisis.

It was revealed yesterday that Delaware Investments, now a subsidiary of Macquarie Group, and Mizuho Financial Group are likely to face civil charges over the $US1.6 billion Delphinus bond offer in 2007.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the SEC, the US corporate regulator, was about to file lawsuits against the two groups.

It will be alleged that the bond deal consisted of a collateralised debt obligation that “imploded” just months after it was sold to investors.

Want to read the whole article in The Australian? Sure, why not. I don’t think The Olympian is covering the Macquarie Group story. just sayin…