Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Should the Movement Fight on the Parliamentary Terrain?

After the u.s. and federal canadian elections, now we have quebec's provincial elections right around the corner.

Of interest, Sibel Ataougul and David Mandel, both Trots from Quebec Solidarire (Ataougul is with IS, Mandel with Gauche Socialiste), agreed to debate Richard St-Pierre of the Groupe Internationaliste Ouvrier and Francois Jean from NEFAC, on the topic of whether or not the working class movement should fight on the parliamentary terrain. (i know, i know, without saying which working class movement we're talking about it's a difficult question to think about, but there you have it...)

i would definitely be there, but i'm set to table this weekend at Expozine - it's a drag because different groups have their line on this question but are never forced to defend it in this kind of public forum, because of this longstanding stupid tradition we seem to have of not debating people we disagree with on substantive issues. That's why it promises to be such a lively debate!

i strongly encourage those of you who understand French to show up: Saturday, November 29th at 3pm at 1710 Beaudry. You can download the poster here:

[Montreal] Vigil for Mohamed Anas Bennis: Monday, December 1st


A vigil to commemorate the life of Anas Bennis, killed 3 years ago by Montreal Police

3pm-5pm, Monday, December 1st, 2008
Park Kent (corner of Kent and Côte-des-Neiges)
Côte-des-Neiges metro, bus #165 North

Family-friendly vigil!! Bring your placards and banners!!

Dress warmly!! Coffee and hot chocolate will be served!!

Early in the morning of December 1, 2005, Anas Bennis was on his way home following morning prayers in a nearby mosque in his neighbourhood of Côte-des-Neiges when he was shot twice by Montreal police officer Yannick Bernier who was taking part in an unrelated police intervention along with officer Jonathan Roy. Anas was pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital.

Now, almost three years later, the Bennis family and the public are hardly any closer to understanding exactly why Anas, a young Canadian man of Moroccan origin who was described as a mild-mannered and sensitive person, was killed by the Montreal police that morning. The Bennis family has been met with disrespect and disdain on the part of government bodies in their multiple attempts to ascertain very basic truths of what happened that morning when their beloved son and brother died. A troubling veil of secrecy continues to cloud the circumstances surrounding Anas' death.

In June 2008, Quebec's chief coroner, Louise Nolet, announced that she had ordered a coroner's inquiry into Anas' death. Although this was not a full, independent and public inquiry as the Justice for Anas Coalition has been demanding since its formation in January 2007, it was nevertheless an important, albeit partial, victory. The decision to order the coroner's inquiry surely came as a result of the public pressure campaign led by the Justice for Anas Coalition, whose three demands have been endorsed by more than 30 organisations, over the past 2 years. However, in August 2008, the Montreal Police Brotherhood filed a legal action suing the Bennis family and coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier – who was to preside over the coroner's inquiry – with the goal of having the coroner's inquiry cancelled. The Bennis family has already filed a motion to have the Brotherhood's lawsuit dismissed, but it is imperative that the Brotherhood as well as municipal and provincial governments are reminded that the public support for the Justice for Anas campaign remains strong, and that the Brotherhood's attempts at preventing the truth from coming out will not go unchallenged. If the police have nothing to hide, why not simply allow the coroner's inquiry to proceed?

Together, on December 1, 2008, let us commemorate the life of Anas, and send a clear message to the Montreal Police Brotherhood that we will not rest until they cease their attempts at obstructing justice – in this case, by blocking the coroner's inquiry from proceeding. Let us also continue to pressure the Minister of Public Security and of Justice, Jacques Dupuis, to order a full, independent and public inquiry into the death of Anas Bennis. Please come out in large numbers to support the demands of the Justice for Anas Coalition.


The Justice for Anas Coalition's demands are the following:

1. The immediate release of all reports, evidence and information concerning the death of Anas Bennis to the Bennis family and to the public;

2. A full, public and independent inquiry into the death of Anas Bennis;

3. An end to police brutality and impunity

Justice for Anas Coalition

Everybody Talks About the Weather... We Don't

The RAF is in the air... and the fucking book i meant to have published this summer is not out yet. Never fear, Projectiles for the People is due out in early 2009 now, and this time that's a promise.

While waiting, you can check out Karin Bauer's book, reviewed today in a prominent page two article in the Montreal Gazette.

Everybody Talks About the Weather... We Don't is a collection of essays Ulrike Meinhof wrote before she went underground, with a very useful introductory essay about Meinhof abnd the German New Left by Bauer herself. There's a also a "for laughs only" postscript by Meinhof's daugher,Bettina Röhl, a hardcore anti-communist who unfortunately holds the rights to her mother's writings, and only grants permission for them to be reprinted if she gets to throw in her bitter two cents worth...

Still, definitely worth checking out!

RADICAL LEFTIST ULRIKE MEINHOF McGill prof publishes anthology of terrorist- to- be’s writings
– and German authorities aren’t very happy about it

Before she became Germany’s most infamous terrorist in the early 1970s, Ulrike Meinhof was a radical chic journalist whose gadfly attacks on the bourgeoisie in magazine columns and on radio and TV made her a household name of the left.
Prof. Karin Bauer of McGill University with her new book. To critics, she replies that Ulrike Meinhof “wasn’t a murderer at the time she wrote her columns.”

Now, much to the consternation of German authorities, a Montreal scholar has published Meinhof ’s radical writings for a wider audience – for the first time, in English.

Provocatively titled Everybody Talks About the Weather … We Don’t – a line from Meinhof herself – the anthology by McGill University German Studies chair and associate professor Karin Bauer adds to renewed and rising interest in the iconic firebrand.

The Baader-Meinhof Complex, a feature film based on Meinhof ’s life, is Germany’s official entry for the best-foreign-film Oscar in February. Now in theatres in Germany, the film’s screenplay is by Bernd Eichinger, who wrote the Oscar-nominated Downfall, a 2004 feature film about Hitler’s final days.

Buzz about the new movie has its producers drumming up advance publicity for a North American release in the new year. They’ve contacted Bauer – a German-born academic who moved to the United States in 1979 and to Montreal in 1994 – to write an expert’s report and help give the project some academic oomph.

But the German government is not enthused. When the book was launched in New York City in May, the Goethe Institute there – a kind of cultural embassy that’s mostly funded by the German Foreign Office – refused to be associated with it. The problem? Meinhof herself.

“Their reaction was, ‘She’s a murderer – why would we have anything to do with her?’ ” Bauer, 50, said in an interview at her McGill office.

“My reply was that she wasn’t a murderer at the time she wrote her columns.”

In Montreal, the Goethe Institute was more accommodating. One week ago, despite concerns from the German consulate here, it hosted a reading of the material by Bauer and her University of Ottawa colleague Luise von Flotow, who translated the columns into English.

Mechtild Manus, the institute’s director, recalled the fervent atmosphere of the Meinhof era. Back then, Vietnam War protesters chanted “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh,” rebellious students at Manus’s Catholic school “renamed” the institution the Lenin School of Socialists, and “posters in the train station of our village promised a reward for tips leading to the arrest of several terrorists, among them Ulrike Meinhof,” she said.

To chronicle the era both in Germany and other countries, the Goethe Institute has a special website – – that traces the history and motivation of the counterculture. Tonight at 6:30 p.m., the Sherbrooke St. E. organization will host a panel discussion about the era’s environmental movement and its legacy.

But it’s the Meinhof anthology that’s proven the most provocative. To compile it, Bauer selected 24 columns Meinhof wrote for konkret, the popular left-wing German magazine she helped edit. Published between 1960 and 1968, the columns range from commentaries on the Kennedy assassination and Vietnam to discussions of student activism.

She even had a column on columnists themselves, who she estimates act as society’s “pressure relief valve.”

The pithy essays give a fascinating glimpse into a mind that grew to detest the strict conservativism of postwar Germany, which she saw as a embracing a kind of neo-fascism backed by the state and the tabloid media.

Meinhof summed up her frustration in one of her final columns in 1968, before going underground. “Protest,” she famously wrote, “is when I say I don’t like this. Resistance is when I put an end to what I don’t like.”

After forming the Red Army Faction in 1970 with a group of like-minded militants, for the next two years Meinhof turned to bank robberies, shootings and bombings to advance her revolutionary cause.

In the end, she was caught, tried for attempted murder and other violence-related charges and sentenced to life in prison. In 1976, she was found hanged in her cell. She was 41 years old.

The 268-page illustrated anthology includes a scathing afterword by Bettina Röhl, one of Meinhof ’s twin daughters, who considers her late mother a pawn of the former East German Communists.

“She made her name as a terrorist,” Röhl reminds those who would be sympathetic to her mother, adding that, in her view, “she is morally overestimated as an icon of the 1968 movement.”

Bauer sees her subject differently. Attractive, young, smartly dressed and a member of the upper middle-class establishment until her break from it, Meinhof was “a towering figure of postwar German culture, someone who wound up going in a different direction,” Bauer said.

“You go to Germany and ask anybody of that generation what they think of Ulrike Meinhof, they’ll have a story and an opinion about her – love or hate.

“Even if they don’t agree with the methods she used, for many she was a martyr to the cause, even if it was a lost cause. She went all the way, she gave up her own life to it.

“To me, her columns are a testimony to her struggle, the struggle to be heard. Publishing them again now isn’t about glorifying a terrorist – it’s about asking questions.” Everybody Talks About the Weather … We Don’t: The Writings of Ulrike Meinhof, edited by Karin Bauer with translations by Luise von Flotow, is published by Seven Stories Press. It’s available from online retailers and in select bookstores for $18.50. On the Web, check out and and watch Meinhof’s last TV interview in 1969 before she went underground:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Who's the Terrorist?

Last night i had fun at the documentary film festival, checking out the awesome Slingshot Hip Hop. Here's a music video (with subtitles) by one of the band's featured, the incredible DAM.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Trashing Police Cars in Quebec: In Praise of Fog

Check out the following nice tidbit from the Journal de Montreal, translated by yours truly.

Funny how they fail to mention the most high profile attacks over the past two years, the police cars torched in Montreal's East End by the allegedly anarchist Ton Pere Collective in March of this year.

You also HAVE to be trying to leave people confused and ignorant to talk about attacks on police without mentioning the anti-police riot after cops killed the teenager Fredy Villanueva and shot two of his friends in Montreal North earlier this year.

Yeah, these are "senseless acts", no one has any reason to hate the cops, just plain "mischief"...

Also not mentioned is the fact that someone planted a nail bomb just outside of Quebec Provincial Police headquarters in Sherbrooke two weeks ago - according to the cops, it has "points in common" with a bomb that blew up a police car in Sherbrooke almost two years ago. While there too the cops say they are "following leads", they also specifically have ruled out the bombs being the work of the Hells Angels, the reactionary biker outfit which is firmly based in Sherbrooke.

Hmmm... makes you wonder...

Here's the article from today's Journal de Montreal:

Vandals Damage Three Police Cars
Jean-Michel Nahas

Vandals took advantage of the dark and fog Friday night to break the windows of three police cars in Repentigny.

The mischief has shaken the municipal safety in this city in Lanaudiere which already had to deal with similar crimes in the winter of 2007.

"For us, it is an attack against a symbol," stated Lieutenant François-Steve Sauvé.

Attacks on vehicles belonging to the forces of law and order have been occurring with much greater frequency these past months. Police cars in Sherbrooke and Montreal were recently targeted by troublemakers.


In Repentigny, it was morning when officers noticed their vehicles had been damaged, when the thick fog began to thin and lift.

The suspects hit in the middle of the night. They broke the windows of three different vehicles, probably with a snow shovel found of the roof of one of the damaged cars.

A fourth police car was also attacked, but its windows resisted being hit repeatedly.

Those responsible are still at large.

"We already have some very important leads," stated Lieutenant Sauvé, refusing to say any more in order to not hamper the investigation.

In January 2007, five young people aged between 16 and 19 were arrested after having set several police cars on fire in Repentigny.

Elsewhere in Quebec

Elsewhere, in Sherbrooke, last July two thirteen year olds were caught after trashing 21 police cars belonging the Quebec Provincial Police.

Last May, a Montreal scientist who had a grudge against the authorities, set an SPVM police car on fire.

Also remember that many Montreal police cars were vandalized during a violent riot that followed the victory of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team last April.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Montreal: Let Freedom Ring & Certain Days Launchings!

*Let Freedom Ring! *
*Book launch – calendar launch – vernissage *
* in celebration of the struggle to free political prisoners*

Join us for an evening of art & literature in celebration of the struggle to
free political prisoners

*November 10, 2008*
* 7-10pm*
*Le Cagibi*
*5490 St Laurent (corner St Viateur)*

*--> Calendar launch*
*Certain Days 2009 Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar*

*42 gorgeous full-colour pages of art & writings, featuring DRUM (Desis*
*Rising Up and Moving), Philly's Pissed, Incite!, Sumoud, Alvaro Luna*
*Hernandez, Inside Books Project, Laura Whitehorn, Robert Seth Hayes, David*
* Gilbert, Herman Bell, Peter Collins, The Cuban Five, Victory Gardens,*
*Common Ground, Native Youth Movement and more!*

*The calendar is a joint fundraising and educational project between*
*organizers in Montreal and Toronto, and three New York state Political*
* Prisoners: Herman Bell, David Gilbert and Robert Seth Hayes.*

*--> Book launch*
*LET FREEDOM RING: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S.
Political Prisoners; edited by Matt Meyer*

*Let Freedom Ring presents a two-decade sweep of essays, analyses,*
*histories, interviews, resolutions, People's Tribunal verdicts, and poems*
*by and about the scores of U.S. political prisoners and the campaigns to*
* safeguard their rights and secure their freedom.*

*--> Vernissage*
*"Voices from Outside: Artists Against the Prison Industrial Complex"*

*In connection with the historic Critical Resistance 10th anniversary*
*conference Just Seeds Artists Cooperative has produced a print portfolio*
*project that they are donating to prisoner justice organizations across*
* North America. The portfolio consists of 20 prints, each by a different*
*artist, that all either critique the prison-industrial complex or address*
*alternatives to incarceration. One copy of the portfolio is currently*
* touring Canada. It will be exhibited at le Cagibi from November 10 to the*
*16 inclusive.*

Presented by:
*Certain Days collective – a working group of QPIRG-Concordia*
*& Kersplebedeb Publishing*

Jasbir Puar's Homonationalism Talk: A Real Disappointment

It is rare that i get angry at a public talk, but that's exactly what happened last night.

I was at the keynote address of Culture Shock, a series of events going on at McGill university, listening to Rutgers professor Jasbir Puar speak about "Homonationalism", and specifically about her book on that subject (Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times). Luckily, i found out afterwards that much of her talk was in fact her reading her answers in an interview she had givven to the online journal Dark Matter earlier this year, so i (and you) could check there to refresh my memory as i put down the following thoughts.

Where to begin?

Well, why not with language. It feels like fishing in a barrel to complain about the words with which most post-structuralist/postmodernist theories are crafted, but i think it's important to note. Telling, in more ways than one. What to say about a talk which is only comprehensible to people who have read Deleuze and Guattari, who know when you say "biopolitics" that you must mean it in the Foucoultian sense, and who can dangle more lines of flight from their affect than an ontology has epistemes???

Good theory sometimes needs to use words and phrases which are unfamiliar to most people. This is undeniable. Making every text accessible to every person requires not only removing complicated words, but also complicated ideas. Sometimes you need to do your homework to understand what someone is saying, and that's ok.

But good theory must always strive to minimize this necessary evil, to the degree possible without doing violence to its argument. "Theorists" who use words or phrases most people don't understand simply for the sake of it, who prefer obfuscation, or who have adopted it as their own little dialect, are almost always blowing smoke to cover for the paucity of their ideas. That this can become a habit in academic institutions, that this forms part of the culture of rarefied theory production, really doesn't earn anyone a free pass. Least of all someone speaking about a question of great political importance.

There was a lot of smoke being blown last night, and hardly a phrase got spoken without pimping it up with the fanciest shmanciest of fifty-dollar-words. So much so that while i think i know what was being said, i certainly don't know i know what was being said. And that, quite obviously, is a problem.

(Lest i be misunderstood, the above is not a criticism about style, it is a political criticism.)

So what did i understand Puar to be saying?

Puar's first point was that to criticize or work against homophobia or transphobia (and likely sexism, racism, and all kinds of other things too) within cultures, peoples, or countries which are victimized by imperialism, is to be complicit with imperialist oppression.

This is a crude position, one which has been hinted at in other arguments people have made over the past years regarding Hezbollah, Hamas, Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Ahmadinejad's Iran. (The only specific example given by Puar were a series of protests held in 2006 to mark the first anniversary of the execution of two queer teenagers in Iran, a case i have already mentioned, and reposted criticisms of, on this blog.)

In fact, without drawing any distinctions, acknowledging any other forms of solidarity activism, or providing any other examples to back up her charge, Puar accused the "Islamophobic Gay Left" of being complicit with imperialism, point finale. Rather than explain this in terms of political dynamics or material forces in the real world, without looking at the history/herstory that got us to this point, Puar stated that this imperialist bent was "constitutive" of queer identity as it has been constructed. (That she has also stated that "the rise of queer" is contingent, or dependent, on the rise of racism should be noted. Whether this is a contradiction in her thought, or a paradox she needs to explore, i do not know.)

While there were a lot of esoteric catchphrases summing up the whys and hows of this, there was nothing - nada, zilch - in the way of actual historical or political explanations. It seems this judgment on a terrain of struggle was the product of a lot of mental energy and pure logic, no actual practical experience necessary. That would just get in the way.

Essentially, stripped of the post-Deleuzian windowdressings, what i think i understood was (1) queer activism replicates some forms of oppression, especially around "race" and religious identity, (2) the queer tradition of being transgressive creates as its flipside the framing of the cultural or racial "other" as being the real transgressor/pervert, and the proof that these "facts" lead queerness to be pro-imperialist is (3) that imperialism really loves imperial homos theseadays.

In scattershot order:

(1) OF COURSE queer activism replicates other forms of oppression. All activity replicates most parts of the dominant culture, to some degree or another. Inactivity also replicates forms of oppression, in spades. The question those of us who actually want to change the real-and-existing world have to ask ourselves is, how can we frame our activity in a way that minimizes the bad shit, while putting ourselves in a good position to deal with problems as they arise. As a priority, those of us who hope for revolution need to break social movements away from the state while orienting them - and ourselves - constantly towards the most oppressed layers of society.

This may be what Puar means when she insists on the importance of intersectionality and assemblages, but acknowledging that people are oppressed in many different ways should not be used as an excuse to abstain from organizing around one specific form of oppression. Avoiding activism altogether certainly doesn't extricate you from oppressive social relations, either; it simply makes you dull and complicit.

(3) Imperialism Loves Imperial Homos. We've all noticed this. It was news several years ago, it's old hat now. There has been a sea change in popular representations of and (to a lesser degree) attitudes towards queers over the past twenty years. The LBGTIAetc. movement has become co-opted in step with its anxiety about adding letters to its acronym. The racist right-wing leadership of the movement is happy to front for imperialist crimes and doesn't actually give a shit about the most oppressed queers.

PLEASE! Tell us something we don't know!

Again, these are arguments in favour of activism, not against it. Activism against the movement leadership, perhaps, though more often than not simply engaging in militant activism with an eye to challenging all forms of oppression will be enough to make the old leadership irrelevant. The leadership is held by conservatives because there is a vacuum radicals are not filling.

(2) Queer Transgressivity Is Bad??? If there was a logical proof that traditions of queer transgression were to blame for the oppressive othering of imperialism's victims, i didn't get it. Saying it's so doesn't make it so, you have to show me why and how this mechanism works. Seriously, i'd be interested.

When one says - to give an example - that the condition of the labour aristocracy is dependent on the exploitation of the Third World proletariat, one can show numbers, trade balances, statistics regarding wages, displacement, and wealth produced or extracted. If you really want you can go down to the port in Old Montreal and see the wealth come in on container ships, or you can travel up to James Bay and see the hydroelectric dams fueling this economy and devastating Indigenous land. It's visible, it's material, and it's not shrouded in mystery. You can then disagree with the argument by marshaling your own facts, but you have to do so, because its a debate based on things really happening.

This is just an example, to show the method by which a political claim needs to be backed up.

The same method, the same standard of proof, needs to apply if you want to blame "queer transgressions" in the metropole for the horrors of Abu Ghraib. Show me how. Because my gut feeling is that the "transgressiveness" which results from traditions of being queer, or from myriad other traditions and ontologies (hey look, i can use those silly words too!), creates a space that makes people approachable by our side more than the system.

Sure, the ways people feel they don't belong or don't fit in can be - and are - exploited by the system to create insecurity, market niches and capitalist cures; but these same disatisfactions can be bound to liberation movements by theories which link one's unhappiness to the unhappiness of others.

More to the point, the desire to offend - which can definitely be oppressive - has to be judged in terms of who is being offended and who is doing the offending. When Salman Rushdie offended a generation of Muslim conservatives with his book The Satanic Verses, he did something - as a Muslim man, as a leftist, as a freethinker - incredibly dangerous and also fundamentally legitimate. As a "cultural worker", as an author, he was operating within a tradition of making the world a better place. When Bill Maher made his movie Religulous, clearly hoping to offend Protestants and Muslims around the world, he simply reinforced racist ideas about Muslims and urban liberal snobbery about those funny backwards born agains. As a "cultural worker", as a comedian, he was operating within a tradition of flattering the oppressor and legitimizing his violence. You don't need a degree in discursive analysis to see the difference in their intent and general orientation.

So why is it sometimes liberatory to offend people?

Being offended means being shocked, in an unpleasant way. We all internalize a lot of oppressive attitudes, not least amongst them being complacency towards what is happening in the world. We incorporate attitudes and beliefs bit by bit, without being aware of it. We are offended when we are confronted with a position or argument framed in a way that we can't ignore, and also can't assimilate without doing violence to previously held beliefs or identities. It's like a slap in the face.

Offending people can be oppressive, and being constantly offended is a way in which someone may be oppressed. But, for better or for worse, on a case-by-case basis it needs to be proven, not just stated, that this is oppression, and not just discomfort. Because when previously held beliefs are unexamined, when we adopted them unthinkingly, being offended is sometimes a necessary first step to force us to re-examine them. It may be unpleasant, but that doesn't mean it's always unwarranted.

Why is there such a connection between certain cultural traditions - not only the queer tradition, but so many others, from the blues to punk rock, from the dadaists to the women's liberation movement - and the penchant to offend?

Well, there's two parts of it.

On the one hand, it's undeniable that offending people can constitute a kind of acting out, an attention-getting mechanism, which may seem cathartic for the person doing it but really just amounts to an immature attempt to get the father-figure to notice you. So it can be dumb.

But more positively, many of us are oppressed by invisible conventions and codes which rely on their very invisibility for their strength. This way they seem natural - boys do this girls do that, such and such a part of the body is "private" and should remain covered, children are to be seen and not heard. Furthermore, many forms of abuse and oppression come with a smile - the steady psychic assault is accompanied by soothing words that there's nothing to worry about, it's all being done in the name of "love" (or community, or morals, or whatever). There is no polite way to effectively challenge this sick mindfuck, because the very form of being polite legitimizes these assumptions as being natural. Being offensive then acts as a declaration of war, getting the real relationship out in the open, forcing things off the terrain of politeness the oppressor sometimes depends upon. Because there is no protocol or etiquette that can contain liberation.

When oppression does not merely occur within the private sphere, but depends on the fact of privacy to draw its strength, being loud will always mean being offensive. And it will also be the best weapon in the psychological arsenal of the oppressed.

Certainly, in the case of queers, we have that tradition of transgression - think Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, sure, but don't forget Kuwasi Balagoon, Valerie Solanas or Windi Earthworm - and it formed a constitutive part of queer revolt. That this tradition is a lot less loud than it was twenty years ago, and that it has been replaced by popular culture sensations like Will and Grace and Brokeback Mountain, is plain for all to see. As is the fact that the acceptance of LBGTIAetc. themes in popular culture is part of a broader cultural dynamic that includes the rise of Islamophobia. But the fact that both these things have happened at the same time and are clearly connected is not enough to show cause and effect.

Rather than just look at things on the level of discourse - kind of like studying the oceans and all the creatures that live therein by simply observing seafoam - the rise of the homonationalist consensus can be tied directly to the triumph of neoliberalism and to the demise of the queer liberation movement as it existed even just two decades ago. A demise which was partly due to its successes, partly due the decimation reaped by AIDS, partly due to the conservative turn all previous liberation movements suffered in the 1980s-90s. Homonationalism is not the result of too much queer activism, but of "queer culture" divorced from its political goals and from the most dynamic aspects of its past, then repackaged and sold back to us as a consolation prize for still being stuck in capitalism.

Clearly, today, the leadership of the queer liberation movement has been seized by people with bad politics, and perhaps the movement as it exists should just be avoided or ignored, or even dismantled. Could be. But this doesn't mean we will be able to do without queer organizing, if we want to live in a world where queers are safe and free to live their lives.

That is because it is social relations themselves, the prevalence of homophobia and transphobia, and the structural connection between these forms of sexual horror and the reactionary political movements and cultural attitudes generated by imperialism within its center and around the world, that constantly generate the need for a queer response, call it Gay Liberation, Sexual Freedom, or LBGTIAetc. - the conditions which push individuals and communities to need that kind of politic are generated by external reality. The necessity cannot be argued away, though the responsibility can certainly be shirked. This doesn't mean having illusions about queer politics being the revolution, just a realization that it needs to be a part of it.

But some academics, such as Jasbir Puar, disagree. They tell us that for us here to engage in solidarity activism with queers elsewhere is to support imperialism. When i asked her afterwards if i had understood her correctly as being opposed to any queer political organizing, she responded that she wouldn't actually argue for or against political organizing. When a woman in the audience followed up by stating that she thought it was important to organize politically, Puar retreated to a position of stating that this was an "emergent question".

Really - this is a question just emerging now? i'd have thought the question emerged some time ago, and was answered some time ago, too.

It is unfortunate that high falutin' verbiage and accusations of racism and Islamophobia are enought to give someone a radical veneer. Again, there is a chance i am misrepresenting Puar - but i must stress that if this is so, it is a result of her choosing to adopt this kind of opaque and unintelligible post-structuralist slang, one which i think is chosen purposefully by a class of intellectuals who have a real interest in not being clearly understood. (And i know she can speak like a normal person - i found a good interview with his about work she did against domestic violence, and a funny interview with her about her love for the daytime soap General Hospital - i guess the trick is to get her to talk about something real rather than pomo abstractions.)

It is also unfortunate that various progressive student groups (Queer McGill, QPIRG McGill, 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, QPIRG Concordia) chose to sponsor this talk as a keynote address in Culture Shock, which is supposed to be "two weeks of events aimed at exploring our cultural myths, particularly those surrounding immigrant, refugee, and racialised communities."

What is most unfortunate is that Puar's line has such appeal to many radical queers in the universities. The dynamic tension between sexual politics in the imperialist countries and their right-wing nationalist opposition is a real problem, one which we need to address. Unfortunately, Puar's approach replicates the very problem she sets out to criticize, abandoning the question of "how to act in solidarity with queers in countries victimized by imperialism," and in so doing abandoning the internationalist responsibility we all have towards each other, when we should be trying to figure out how to establish connections and working relations that bypass our enemies the state and the NGO complex.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wednesday: Use Your Phone to Support Jalil and Herman!

The following from the kind folks at the Anarchist Black Cross Federation:

WEDNESDAY is Phone for Parole Day for Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim!

Call NY Governor David A. Paterson between 9AM and 1pm Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday November 5th.


Urge him to sign the amended Executive agreements which will allow NY inmates Herman Bell (#2318931) and Jalil Muntaqim (s/n Anthony Bottom/ #2311826) to return to New York State to attend their rightful parole hearings. We're calling him every Wednesday morning of '08 until he signs off on the transfer.

On November 4th, people across the US will be in the poll booths choosing between state leaders. On Wednesday the 5th, take the opportunity to call on some officials to give a couple of freedom fighters, men who struggle for visions bigger than Obama's or McCain's, a chance to attend a parole hearing.

The transfer of SF8 defendants Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim from the San Francisco County Jail back to New York State for their rightful parole hearings has been blocked by both state governors for weeks and NYS now wants to deny this right for good. This comes despite previous agreements in the courtroom between the California State prosecutors, the presiding judge and, of course, the brothers and their attorneys.

Judge Philip Moscone signed an order in May allowing Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim to return to New York State for their parole hearings. All parties agreed at that time that the move would be temporary; Herman and Jalil waived their rights to fight extradition back to California. This vindictive and mean-spirited procedural obstacle was immediately challenged by defense attorneys. Strong arguments were made to guarantee Herman and Jalil's right to "pursue their liberty interests" and have parole hearings. Both have served over 35 years in prison as model prisoners. Both were targeted originally by COINTELPRO as members of the Black Panther Party.

New York Attorney Bob Boyle argued in a declaration to the San Francisco Court that if the men remain in California, "they would be denied their parole hearing for years." In a subsequent interview, he also said: The state waited 35 years to bring these spurious criminal charges. Now these charges are being used to deny these men parole hearings to which they are entitled. Whatever concerns the government has can be overcome by a simple modification of the extradition order. All Herman and Jalil are asking for is an opportunity to attend their hearings.

In Solidarity,
contact- nycabc[at]riseup[dot]net

Background. . . .

Free the San Francisco Eight!

Eight former Black community activists - Black Panthers and others - were arrested January 23rd in California, New York and Florida on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer. Similar charges were thrown out after it was revealed that police used torture to extract confessions when some of these same men were arrested in New Orleans in 1973.

Richard Brown, Richard O'Neal, Ray Boudreaux, and Hank Jones were arrested in California. Francisco Torres was arrested in Queens, New York. Harold Taylor was arrested in Florida. Two men charged - Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim - have been held as political prisoners for over 30 years in New York State prisons. A ninth man -- Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth - is still being sought. The men were charged with the murder of Sgt. John Young and conspiracy that encompasses numerous acts between 1968 and 1973.

Harold Taylor and John Bowman (recently deceased) as well as Ruben Scott (thought to be a government witness) were first charged in 1975. But a judge tossed out the charges, finding that Taylor and his two co-defendants made statements after police in New Orleans tortured them for several days employing electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation. Such "evidence" is neither credible nor legal.

Herman Bell, 59, of Mississippi, a political prisoner since 1973. Cointelpro's "pattern of manipulation and lies, continuing into the present, indicates something more than the ordinary corruption and racism of everyday law enforcement. It can be understood only in terms of the power of the political movement that [we] were part of, and the intensity of the government's efforts to destroy that movement and to disillusion and intimidate future generations of young activists." Write to him - 2318931, 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco CA 94103.

Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), 55, of San Francisco, a political prisoner in New York since 1978. "The United States does not recognize the existence of political prisoners. To do so would give credence to the fact of the level of repression and oppression, and have to recognize the fact that people resist racist oppression in the United States, and therefore, legitimize the existence of not only the individuals who are incarcerated or have been captured, but also legitimize those movements of which they are a part." Write to him - 2311826, 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco CA 94103.

More on the New York 3 (Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim) at

You can also read more about the New York 3 case on the Kersplebedeb website here.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

SportsAction: Chronology and Communiques of Anti-2010 Resistance and Direct Action

This is a PDF of a 20 page (8x11) booklet: SportsAction: Chronology and Communiques of Anti-2010 Resistance and Direct Action. Just click right here to download it.

i received this and was told to print out & distribute it, forward to contacts, or download to your website. So here it is!

(For more information, check out and