Thursday, July 7, 2016
Monday, June 27, 2016
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
"The fascists already have power. The point is that some way must be found to expose them and combat them. An electoral choice of ten different fascists is like choosing which way one wishes to die. The holder of so-called high public office is always merely an extension of the hated ruling corporate class. It is to our benefit that this person be openly hostile, despotic, unreasoning." George Jackson
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
The times we are living in are crucial, the overall planet is at stake, state violence and repression, plus everything else this oppressive system of capitalism-imperialism-colonialism-white supremacy- and patriarchy brings down on us. The main question is how we are allowed to fight and struggle, versus how we need to fight to win. It always comes down to strategy and tactics, and connecting what we are doing today to a larger vision. Part of this though, is not only having internal dialogue, but also struggle, because the reality is that our movement is being held back by professionals, opportunists, and people who collaborate with the state, and this is something I've spoken to in the past I think, but I want to expand on this dialogue and connect it to what is happening more recently with electoral politics, non-profit industrial complex, academia, and professional activists in general.
How we need to organize vs. How we are allowed to organize
At the moment you can say we have a sort of political awakening, and people are discussing politics on a daily basis. The media is full of political debate, and people are encouraged to participate in this process. We see this whenever there is an election. The superstructure and system as a whole allows for people to get involved politically, or at least this is what is needed for their form of democracy to "work." There needs to be the illusion of people being involved in a political process to give legitimacy to their "political show" which is pretty much a sham. The ruling class of this empire, very much knows what they are doing and there is no intention in giving power to the majority of people who have no real institutional power under this society. It is clear that the popular vote does not elect presidents, who at the end of the day just act like mouth-pieces for the empire, and really do not run the empire all by themselves. They will never allow for their power to be voted away, and they run this election con game to give some legitimacy to their illusion of choice.
Last couple of elections we've seen the one candidate with populist rhetoric, to galvanize the young people who are are overall upset at the direction this society is going, and want to do something to change it. They are told by the ruling class that they can do something: they can elect this "revolutionary" candidate, because there is Democracy in this country. Obama represented that, especially in his first term, with his rhetoric of "Hope" and "Yes We Can," and now Bernie Sanders represents that, with his promise of "Free Education," and social democrat reforms. At the end of the day both still said they will uphold u.s. imperialism, and we know that Obama very much did abroad and at home, deporting many and continuing an agenda of repression and attacks on "civil liberties" within the u.s.
Not only do we have the mainstream media mobilizing people around electoral politics but we also have what I know as professional activists or the institutional left steering people to support the candidate who they also sell as someone who will solve many, if not all our problems. The professional activists or the institutional left is anyone who is basically getting paid to do organizing or to do political work, anyone from local politicians, union officials, non-profits or non-governmental organizations, academics looking to take credit for a movement, or any activist in the spot-light looking to have a political career in the future.
The fact of the matter that this happens every election to me, doesn't seem like a coincidence, but a strategy not only by the ruling class, who we know that they wish to hold power over the people, but also the role the professional and institutional left play in the movement. Many things have been written about where their money is coming from and who are their funders, and we can go into each professional activist listed, and each one is unique but make up the overall institutional left.
"Most non- profit boards are made up of professionals and often representatives of private corporations who are major donors. Second, there are few non-profits that are member supported financially with any significant dues base. This has transformed many grass roots [Community Based Organizations] founded in the 60’s-70’s from local government critic and watchdog to local government sub-contractor." (From "Why Non-Profits Can't Lead the 99% )
" I thought of my past a lot during the Belong Campaign. At one of our meetings, about three months into my tenure, I looked across the table at the people in nice suits, drinking coffee and eating bagels, talking about solving this poverty problem by increasing these community members’ sense of belonging. These people, my colleagues, traveled the world—Australia, Africa, and throughout the U.S.—speaking on panels and at conferences about their innovative new approaches to increasing resilience. Making money off poverty was their vocation. They were compensated for these studies, creating a career out of their ludicrous idea of 'resilience,' that the circumstances of these people’s lives were somehow a result of their poor choices or ill behaviors." (From
"Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty" by Melissa Chadburn)
These quotes just speak to me about professional activists/organizers and the institutional left and what their role is in the movement. We understand where the funds come from, but overall, at the end, anything that poses a threat to the system is also in direct conflict with these organizations/institutions because they are also extensions of the state, not just because of the funding, but because they hold a stake in the system, and their unconscious mission is to survive by continuing to gain this funding and comfortable position within the establishment. At the end, the directors and professionals want to get paid, while still spouting progressive rhetoric.
There have been many cases where these non-profits have not only taken the side of the police and the state, but have shown they work closely with them, which shows their role as an extension of those repressive institutions. In 2007, after the police attacked the May Day (International Worker's Day) march in McArthur Park, a majority Central American community, CHIRLA (Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles) and its director Angelica Salas blamed young anarchists and Cop Watch LA for the police attack, and put out the same position as the LAPD. The following year she openly said in the media that CHIRLA and their May Day march would work with the police, putting the blame on the people and building closer ties to the state apparatus.
Another example that proves what role these organizations play, was in Anaheim when the community rose up after the police murder of Manuel Diaz in 2012. In an article by The Rebel Press, "The OC Non-Profit Complex At the Service of the Police State," they expose e-mail communication between the Anaheim PD and the OC Human Relations (a major non-profit) and its executive director Rusty Kennedy:
This also brings up the question that the system is okay with people resisting and being politically involved, because as mentioned, it gives this system legitimacy, but it is controlled resistance. The professional activists and institutional left, give us the options in which we can resist and participate, in my opinion, a sham movement. We are only allowed to go so far, if people decide to take things further, into direct action, or even if communities erupt in spontaneous rebellion, they always bring in those professional activists to calm the situation, and the police to control it. Anyone outside of these institutionalized actions is seen as a bad protester (in some cases are called anarchists, or are even labeled as a provocateur) for choosing to take on different methods of struggle, or go beyond how we are allowed to fight within the institutional left. Everything done by the professional activist is for publicity, for media attention, even staged actions, where people are allowed to join in their actions, but are controlled at the end of the day. The more radical sections of the movement are isolated and pushed away, because it makes for bad publicity, for these "agents of pacification", their role is to pacify people and control how they fight.
The Problems with Petty Bourgeois Leadership
To talk about professionalization, we also have to look at the class character of the people pushing these reformist agendas. In the imperialist u.s. we definitely get imposed a certain type of leadership, especially for oppressed communities. We always get sold, the pacifist, non-violent leadership, and also the petty bourgeois, and upper middle class people of color, who "made it" in this system, as something we at the bottom should aspire to.
Of course in times of crisis, these folks also speak out, but from their own class and social position. They too promote peace, and building alliances with the police and state as a whole. These are their limitations of their privileged position. A person's politics and struggle will only go so far as they are allowed to by their class and social position, at the end of the day, many will not commit social/class suicide and give up their wealth and power. This does not mean they cannot support radical movements in different ways, it just means they cannot lead and should not lead. There's a reason why the system promotes and imposes leaders on us, because they are afraid that all we have to realize is that we have nothing to lose.
So those at the bottom should be at the forefront and put forward our own vision and demands for our own autonomous movements. Many are starting to do this already, all over the world, and we can look to examples like the Zapatistas, and other indigenous people's movements, to Rojova. Imperialist societies creates the need for people to compete for "leadership," even for a spotlight in a movement, and there is a need to define what real leadership is and what is needed.
Leadership, is not static, but dynamic. It should not be a person who forces or weasels their way into a position of power. Especially if they don't practice self-sacrifice, and have not done any good deeds and continue to do so in a "virtuous" way. What this society promotes is illegitimate power. Leadership is something that has to be transformed into a process of building a capacity to fight, live free, and be truly autonomous: meaning that we are capable of making our own decisions, and live independently of this system. Where all of us see ourselves as responsible for each other, the planet we live on, and the future, instead of putting that responsibility on an individual or group of individuals. From the time we are born, we give someone authority over our lives. We need to change that, starting by not romanticizing people with power and believing that someone else will lead us to freedom. We must do that for ourselves. We can learn from people who have knowledge, skills, and wisdom, and their role will be to pass on these lessons to create more "leaders" who are ready to be good human beings and are prepared to protect their communities and the world as a whole.
Autonomy vs. Institutional Left
"These college-educated revolutionaries unknowingly impose their particular experiences on the revolutionary movement, and particularly, on working class people. They have played a crucial role in unknowingly preventing any working class leadership from developing." (From "The Problem with College Educated Revolutionaries" by Arturo Castillon)
I'm writing this as a critique, but I always want to put forward ideas for dialogue in our communities for different ways we can organize outside of state institutions (including the professional activist organizations). We need a revolutionary praxis on autonomy. I do feel there are some people that are doing this or trying to do this, from the grassroots level (meaning with no outside funding). The solution to the institutional left is autonomy and that looks much different then anything they and the empire propose for us. It means we work with indigenous people of the land in particular and oppressed people in general to create a better world, beginning now, and create our own "institutions," (for lack of better words). Autonomy is grown from the inside, meaning no activist with privileges (especially race and class) can come into a community they are not familiar with, from, or invited to, to tell folks how they will liberate themselves. You cannot impose a vision, or freedom, and you cannot build autonomy also, without participation of the original keepers of the land, at least those who aren't cooperating with the state, haven't sold out, or are part of the institutional left themselves. Also what is your relationship to the community where you live or you organize. Do folks there see you as an opportunist who is just using them for a political career, or are you building trust, seeing what their needs are, and struggling to change the conditions together, without a self-righteous savior approach from the organizers?
The institutional left was put in place because there was a void left by the destroying of organizations like the Black Panther Party, Young Lords, American Indian Movement and so on. After the state waged war on these revolutionary organizations, they understood why they had mass support. They implemented non-profits and NGO's to institutionalize the serve the people programs, while pushing the oppressed into acceptable fields of struggle: unions (who sold out decades ago and are tools for the democratic party), academia, and of course electoral politics.
If you work for any of these places, this is not a critique about you, especially if you are just using your job to get ends meat, I'm talking about the leadership of those institutions who know very well what they are doing, and very much have a relationship with the state. My opinion is that these non-profits and other institutions like unions, should give resources to the grassroots, with no hidden agenda, without trying to lead us. If not communities and radicals who work within them should expropriate those resources for the grassroots. Even though I'm not a mass organizer myself, this is not my role, I understand that we need activists, and we need organizers to gather support for grassroots and movements for decolonization but we have to also analyze who are our friends an who are our enemies. We have to also wage internal struggle, because many of these professional activists and the institutional left as whole stand in the way of liberation.
That is all. Lets fight until we win.
Also check out:
Saturday, February 20, 2016
How will this happen? It will not happen through the UN or the u.s. government's good will. When have they ever showed they are willing to reconcile? The state is going to fight to protect its illegal occupation until the end. Meaning that we cannot also end colonialism through their courts, or by working within this system.
Instead of arguing who is more oppressed than who, lets see we all have a common enemy as colonized people. If our true aim is freedom than that's what is needed. The land at the end of the day needs to go back to its rightful owners, at the end of the day. That should be part of any vision for liberation. Then we will all be free and the world will be in a better place, if we discuss our relationship to this land and the indigenous of these lands. These strategies and actions will happen outside of any colonial law or institutions. #fuckthelaw
Monday, January 25, 2016
Summation of the Decolonial Gathering
-Organizing Collective of the Decolonial Gathering
2016 and Beyond
“Decolonization, as we know, is a historical process... Decolonization is the meeting of two forces, opposed to each other by their very nature ...” (“Concerning Violence” Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon)
This is drafted as a reflection and summation of the gathering organized on August 29th 2015 in South Central Occupied Yangna (So Called Los Angeles – Tongva Nation Land) by collective participants. We hope to discuss what were our intentions (the vision and proposal of the Decolonial Gathering), what we learned by organizing this and on the day, and what we hope the next steps will be for the collective and in the communities where we are guests.
“Once we recognize the truth of this injustice we can think about ways to resist and challenge colonial institutions and ideologies. Thus, decolonization is not passive; rather, it requires something called praxis. Brazilian liberatory educator Paulo Freire defined praxis as “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.” This is the means by which we turn from being subjugated human beings to being liberated beings. In accepting the premise of colonization and working towards decolonization, we are not relegating ourselves to a status as victims. On the contrary, we are actively working toward our own freedom to transform our lives and the world around us. The project that begins with our minds, therefore, has revolutionary potential.” (From “What is Decolonization” For Indigenous Eyes Only: A Decolonization Handbook by Waziyatawin and Michael Yellow Bird)
The two things that come to mind in terms of our intentions for the Decolonial Gathering (DG) are these two sentences from the original call for this gathering:
“We hope to not just organize another event or teach-in; we hope that we can build a network to begin with and strategic alliances as we fight this system of white-supremacy/capitalism/imperialism/colonialism/patriarchy, and towards common goals and vision. We also hope folks can learn from each other, common experience, so we can continue to advance towards a decolonized and free world.
If what we are talking about is true decolonization and autonomy, something that is land based, the indigenous people from this continent and hemisphere have to be in the forefront of this struggle (from Alaska to Argentina), and the fight to free the land, water, air and ourselves of colonialism has to be supported across imperialist borders and all regions.”
The first point is about being effective, and being serious about what we are trying to do. We felt that we have organized events in the past, and while everything serves a purpose (in particular maybe, education, raising consciousness, raising funds, protesting, etc.) we wanted to do something different. We wanted to at least put out a proposal, not just in Los Angeles, but beyond that we start networking with each other to really fight the system of white supremacy, colonialism, patriarchy, and capitalism-imperialism. We need to come together and start building relationships with each other, especially those who are serious. As well as learn from our experiences, from all over, both our victories and our failures. We further explained this in another statement released prior to the DG to begin organizing in a collective: “We are living in a time of struggle and upheaval, which is a good thing, let's talk strategy and build strategic alliances based on clear principles and guidelines for a world free of occupation, anti-blackness, transmisogyny, anti-indigeneity, colonialism, white supremacist hetero-patriarchal capitalist-imperialist system. Mother Earth is in crisis, combativity needs to increase if we hope to have a world to pass to the next generation. Let's start by learning from each other, our elders, women, children, etc, lets decentralize knowledge. Lets build a network, and share materials needed all over Turtle Island, Abya Yala and beyond. Lets smash this system, and create the world we want to see today.”
The second point even more important, because if we are truly talking about decolonization, recognizing that and acknowledging that we are on stolen Tongva Land in so called Los Angeles, but beyond and on this continent, is indigenous land, therefore we do not have a status on this land other than that we are guests here and most non-white people are here because of u.s. Imperialism, but leadership should come from those whose land we stand on, and indigenous people in general. So we wanted to invite Tongva elders who we have met in the past and have tried to support, to be part of the organizing, planning and building of this gathering, and asked for input, and attempt to follow protocol, in asking for permission to have this gathering, being that the DG organizers are not Tongva. We also wanted to invite other indigenous people who are in the frontlines, and who are fighting and setting examples in decolonization today, but also be clear on who we felt needed to come together at this moment in time: those who are victims but also are resisting colonialism.
Too many times have these conversations been controlled by academia and professional activists, and excluded those at the bottom, and in particular indigenous and African people. We wanted to reclaim and take this process away from their hands and into the hands of the communities in resistance and those at the bottom, away from the professionals. We didn't want any particular organization to come in and try to promote themselves, which also happens too many times at these gatherings, it was to build with each other and build alliances, not to promote any particular group. We also didn't want to make it about what the oppressor, and those who benefit from oppression, are doing, but what we needed to do as the oppressed.
Once the collective came together and decisions were made, we started coming to consensus on many things. We discussed the flyer, vision, outreach, fundraising, and whether we wanted to make this a “People of Color” space exclusively. What we agreed on was that we would make it an intentional people of color space, meaning that white folks would not be excluded but they had to understand that this was time for oppressed people, with a non-genocidal legacy, to come together and build with each other first.
What We Learned
“I believe this idea we have out here in the West Coast, acknowledging the land and your status... you have certain limits and certain restrictions... What we are saying we don't have the right to be on this land, it is a privilege... We are restraining personal power as a form of respect.” -(From “Decolonizing the Colonizer” talk by Sakej Ward)
This gathering had great conversations and a good network was built and strengthened. We came together as a collective and were able to not only organize the gathering but events leading up to the gathering. Still we learned, that we have more relationships to build especially with indigenous people of this territory, but also it is ok if they don't want to build with us as well (that is their choice).
As people affected by colonialism and it’s State Apparatus, indigenous people from other parts (including African people), and people of color in general, we are here because of different circumstances but forced to be here. It is important work through decolonization to build a collective dynamic to uplift these legacies and commit to the necessary healing of kidnapped, enslaved and deculturalized Africans as well. Because self-determination is often harder to grasp when self hood has been stripped away. We are still outsiders to this land, but don't have a legacy of genocide and occupation as the white supremacist capitalist-imperialists in power. Still because we are not of this land, we understand to take up a supposrtive role of those whose land we are on, who’s knowledeg and relationship to the land is valuable for the proliferation of their people and ongoing fight for liberation. We hope to get behind initiatives of Tongva as a collective, if they want to work with any of us. There is no unified voice in any community, but we hope to continue to work with Tongva elders who are still resisting occupation to this day. We bring a question to those who are guests on this land and to those who have been historically looted ‘what is your ancestral relationships to the Nation State? Does that inform some collective-individual responsibilities and future actions you have to those still oppressed by it?’
As mentioned, the DG had great conversations and presentations. We were able to hear stories from elders and warriors who have had victories in the past that we can learn from, and continue to fight in the present. We met great folks in Yangna and beyond imperialist borders. We hope to continue to build as a collective and with the network we strengthened through this gathering. We continue to build with communities and folks who weren't able to be at this gathering, and to support struggles here where we live (in particular of indigenous people) and beyond. We want to win, and we want freedom.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Beyond the Wall of Injustice
zine coming soon in 2016
1) Let's say I have a friend who got out of jail, has a felony, and needs to find work. What suggestion would you
Well this depends on what city you live in. There is an organization made up of formerly incarcerated people
called All of Us or None, who is working on a campaign to “Ban the Box,” to end discrimination in the work place of
people with felonies or violent misdemeanors. Los Angeles where I live still has a lot of work to do in terms on
banning the box (where employers ask if you have felonies), but other cities have eliminated the question from job
applications. For poor and working class men of color in particular but poor people of color in general, police
harassment, and jail and prison becomes more likely, in a country with over 2 million people in prison, mainly for
non-violent crimes. Understanding that having a job in this capitalist society is necessary part of survival. I would
suggest going into the non-profit sector, even though we understand that these organizations are a contradiction,
and are not a solution to systemic oppression, we should just approach it as a job, and nothing else, you will deal
with similar bull shit. I have a record, a “violent misdemeanor” not a felony, but it's treated the same by most jobs.
I did not know this in the beginning until I started seeing jobs turn me down. I started working for labor unions as
an organizer, because even though they check your record, they don't discriminate based on this, at least not all
of them, some do. They pay better than most jobs, but you have to deal with long hours and bull shit from union
bosses. I think we need to start creating our own cooperatives as a model, but also to provide a means to survive,
while we destroy the system of capitalism.
For more info check out http://bantheboxcampaign.org/
2)Another friend is a high school drop out, and has no college degree and needs to find work, but wishes to work
for non-profit groups who make a difference. What web site should the person look at, and what suggestion would
Usually non-profits post job listings on Idealist.org
also just going on Craigslist the jobs section has non-profits (watch out for scams though)
If you are looking to work for a union they usually post on unionjobs.com
3)Does a college degree really make a big difference in getting a job?
Actually there are a lot of folks who graduate from college, and are out of a job, or are getting paid minimum wage
or similar wages.
What's more important nowadays is experience, and your network (who you know)
4)Let's say a single parent is very interested in getting a college education, but can't due to full time work and
watching their kid. What can they do?
There are programs that can help single parents, some community colleges offer day care, also Cal Works is a
5)You come from an activist movement. How come they never talk about realistic future stuff when they get older
like: paying bills, careers, money budgeting, savings for a future kid's school, and having funds for a parent's
This is a problem with the movement in general Jay. A lot of us come from the working class, or “lumpen
proletariat” and organizing full time becomes unrealistic, when we have to survive, and sometimes have a family.
Many activists come from the middle class, or have parents that help them, which allows them to live this “super
activist lifestyle.” At the end it becomes very self-righteous and elitist excluding other people at the bottom who
have harder time surviving and balancing work and the movement. For me, it's just about finding the balance,
working with people you care for and trust and building the long lasting relationships, commitment, and level of
combativity and discipline that will take to wage this fight. As a father personally, this means mainly working with
my son, to make sure he will be a good human being and a warrior. Our struggle has to be generational. Meaning
we have to think of the future generations, how we are preparing them, and what we are doing to protect the
planet they will inherit.
6)Tell us about some of the jobs you had in the past, and how did you find them?
I've had different jobs, I mean as someone who is rebellious and anti-authoritarian, I don't get along with bosses, or
conform very well. I've worked for unions, those have been the longer jobs I've had, but there is always something
that bothers me about these corporations. I think we want to build a cooperative at the moment, I'm tired of bosses.
7) What are some good and bad stories of some of your jobs you had in the past.
8)Why are some of the activists that I have met, always anti-money and are always so broke? Some can barely
pay rent. What can we do about this problem?
I think I spoke to this question already.
9.I have a good friend who is undocumented and worked hard at a restaurant and at bars, and has $10,000 in his
savings. He is also going to college. Why is it that people from other countries seem to work harder and know how
I think it's the work ethic, but also it's also true in other countries people rest well but work hard. They have a more
relaxed lifestyle as well. The u.s. Creates this idea where there are bad workers and good workers, hard workers
and lazy workers. How can someone be motivated to work, if all your money is going to bills, and you're barely
getting by? Where you have to work 3 jobs in order to survive with the wages we are getting? Undocumented
people in particular are super-exploited and aren't paid the correct wages, and many times get their wages stolen
from them by their employers. There are cases where individuals can save, but sometimes it just comes down to
hustle, but we are getting exploited regardless.
10)How do you picture Los Angeles if all the undocumented people left the city?
Capitalism in general relies and lives off the super-exploitation of undocumented people, they are the ones who
cook, clean, pick your food, etc etc etc, and don't get paid enough to do it. This system creates the situation
where they are systematically are held at the bottom, and those are the only jobs they can get while denying many
people of work as a whole. They can pay undocumented workers less, and have them living in fear so they don't
complain or organize. Undocumented people however have always been in the front lines, even though people try
to patronize and undermine their potential and their rage.
Joaquin speaking at Class Struggle Anarchist Conference 2008 NYC