Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Letter from Cairo

To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.

Letter from Cairo

To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next econo mic development or urban renewal scheme.

An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.

The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people’s right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.

So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.

In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces for gathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .

What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.

But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.

We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.

It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose.

If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.

By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never give them up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.

Comrades from Cairo.
24th of October, 2011.


NYPD Reportedly Sending Drunks & Criminals to Occupy Wall Street


Welcome to the Oakland General Strike

If you decide to strike, note that Occupy Oakland has declared: “If an employer fires or disciplines a worker for taking the day off, we will picket that business.” However, the Occupy Oakland people realize that many people may not be able or willing strike, especially on such short notice and when many people are still under misimpressions they have derived from the mainstream media. They welcome every form of engagement, suggesting that, if nothing else, you take this opportunity to talk about these issues with your friends and neighbors and fellow workers, as well as to visit Occupy Oakland and get a little sense of what’s going on, whether at the scheduled gatherings at 9:00, 12:00 and 5:00, or at other times simply to roam around the encampment, meet people and get a little feel of the ambience.

Occupy Wall Street Primer: Uniformed Thugs Are Not Legally Police

Why Wall Street Is Not Enough, This is War

Fawke'em


Long Overlooked, Cooperatives Get Their Due at United Nations

The U.N., along with its Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC), has three main goals for the year.
It aims to increase awareness about cooperatives and their contributions; to promote the formation and growth of cooperatives; and to encourage member states to develop policies conducive to cooperatives' growth.
With an ongoing global economic crisis and various "Occupy" movements demanding large-scale system overhaul, right now is a particularly topical time to celebrate cooperatives as equitable economic models that enhance socioeconomic development.

Ken Clarke: Squatters are as bad as car thieves

Ken Clarke accused squatters of being as bad as car thieves hours before 15 people were arrested when police thwarted attempts to stage sit-in protests in the capital last night.

Americans: Awash In Spin

I have come to the conclusion that Big Brother’s subjects in George Orwell’s 1984 are better informed than Americans.
Americans have no idea why they have been at war in the Middle East, Asia and Africa for a decade. They don’t realize that their liberties have been supplanted by a Gestapo Police State. Few understand that hard economic times are here to stay.

The Fight for 'Real Democracy' at the Heart of Occupy Wall Street

The Encampment in Lower Manhattan Speaks to a Failure of Representation

Archbishop backing 'Robin Hood tax'
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said there is a feeling that society is paying for the 'irresponsibility' of bankersArchbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said there is a feeling that society is paying for the 'irresponsibility' of bankers
The Archbishop of Canterbury has sympathised with proposals for a "Robin Hood tax" on banks and admitted there is a widespread perception that society is paying for the "errors and irresponsibility" of financial institutions.


Legal support for servicemembers, reservists and veterans participating in Occupy Wall Street actions

The National Lawyers Guild has endorsed the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City and thousands of cities world-wide and offered legal support.

Israel to speed up settlement construction in Jerusalem, West Bank

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday called for speeding up the construction of 2,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Occupy London 'never wanted scalps'

As occupiers dressed as zombies drag themselves through central London, protester Lucy says she is shocked by the resignation of the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral.

Nuclear powers plan weapons spending spree, report finds

US to spend £700bn in next decade while Russia and Pakistan among those assigning roles to weapons beyond deterrence

Gap between rich and poor growing faster in Canada than in U.S.

The rich may still be getting richer while the poor are still getting poorer, but it turns out it is happening much faster in Canada than it is in the United States, a new report from the Conference Board of Canada said Tuesday.

Why a Crowd Spelled Out “TAX THE 1%” on a San Francisco Beach

[Press release available at http://www.humanbannersf.com/tax-the-1-percent/]
On Saturday, October 29th, over 1000 Americans laid their bodies down on a San Francisco beach to spell out “TAX THE 1%.” This protest was just the latest in the wave of protests that have swept the nation since protesters occupied Wall Street.

Goldman Sachs v. Occupy Wall Street: A Greg Palast Investigation

Democracy Now! talks to investigative reporter Greg Palast about a controversy in the banking community around the Occupy Wall Street movement. Palast investigates the story behind Goldman Sachs' recent decision to pull out of a fundraiser for the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union in New York City after it learned the event was honoring the protesters at Occupy Wall Street. The investment bank withdrew its name from the fundraiser and also canceled a $5,000 pledge. Was the $5,000 a Goldman Sachs donation or actually American taxpayer bail-out money Goldman set aside for community banks?


BC Aboriginals: Human Rights Claims Against Canada In Washington, D.C.

Southern Vancouver Island aboriginals donned traditional vests and headdresses at an international hearing in Washington, D.C. Friday as they accused Canada of long-standing human rights abuses.

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland from the Oakland Police Officer’s Association

As your police officers, we are confused.

Authority Creates Stupidity

James Scott’s book Domination and the Arts of Resistance is about how authority relations shape human communications. The book, like The Art of Not Being Governed, is based primarily on Scott’s research in pre-modern social settings. But the basic principles he illustrates from slaves and peasants, in agrarian and household settings, is equally applicable to the world of cubicle drones and pointy-haired bosses.
The intrusion of power into human relationships creates irrationality and systematic stupidity. As Robert Anton Wilson argued in “Thirteen Choruses for the Divine Marquis,”
A civilization based on authority-and-submission is a civilization without the means of self-correction. Effective communication flows only one way: from master-group to servile-group. Any cyberneticist knows that such a one-way communication channel lacks feedback and cannot behave “intelligently.”
The epitome of authority-and-submission is the Army, and the control-and-communication network of the Army has every defect a cyberneticist’s nightmare could conjure. Its typical patterns of behavior are immortalized in folklore as SNAFU (situation normal—all fucked-up), FUBAR (fucked-up beyond all redemption) and TARFU (Things are really fucked-up). In less extreme, but equally nosologic, form these are the typical conditions of any authoritarian group, be it a corporation, a nation, a family, or a whole civilization.
That same theme featured prominently in The Illuminatus! Trilogy, which Wilson coauthored with Robert Shea. “….[I]n a rigid hierarchy, nobody questions orders that seem to come from above, and those at the very top are so isolated from the actual work situation that they never see what is going on below.”

Met police using surveillance system to monitor mobile phones

Civil liberties group raises concerns over Met police purchase of technology to track public handsets over a targeted area

'Hackers' cut Palestinian phone and internet systems

The main phone network in the West Bank and Gaza has suffered a sustained attack by computer hackers, the Palestinian Authority (PA) says.

How Debate Is Changing On The Nature Of Capitalism

The Article: Is Capitalism Losing the Debate? by Carl Finamore in Common Dreams.
The Text: A remarkable shift in mass public opinion is occurring right before our eyes. It does not happen often. Normally, only when there is a severe breakdown in public confidence about the future.
Now is such a time.

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