Friday, June 22, 2012

This Weekend in Quebec City

This weekend is the St-Jean, which i would guess probably resembles other nationalist holidays in nations-without-a-state: massive crowds, lots of partying, confused politics, often fights with cops or just between people. For that section of the left here that considers Quebec independence a worthy goal, the St-Jean has all the allure of a progressive celebration. Other people feel differently. But almost everyone who is Quebecois (and a lot of others too) celebrates the St-Jean.

This year is special, though, as today is the 22nd, which for the past months has meant it is the day of a monster demonstration in Montreal (the previous ones on March, April and May 22nd have been in the hundreds of thousands) in the context of the student strike and now Law 78. This month, however, there is a call for a major demonstration in Montreal and one in Quebec City, and in Quebec City it is supposed to be an 81-hour demo/occupation of the grounds of the national assembly...

In a context where the police in Quebec City are already far more aggressive that the Montreal police in terms of arresting people at "illegal" demonstrations, earlier this week the Quebec City municipal government held a special session to rush through a bylaw banning all demonstrations which police are not informed of beforehand, as well as setting an 11pm curfew for all demos. (The bylaw in question was apparently in the works since last year, a reaction to Occupy, however the timing of it being rushed through is due to this weekend's events.)

As detailed below, there is another element at play. The possibility of non-state actors using the weekend as an opportunity to "settle scores" with those on the left, in the student movement, or simply people in working-class neighbourhoods who are more sympathetic to the strike.  The Quebec City suburbs tend to be right-wing, with a populist twist. Recently, talk radio hosts have been going on about the strike, about Quebec Solidaire, about "Montreal", going so far in one case as to call on people to do violence to the most well known student representative of the CLASSE.

The following is by Nicolas Phebus, a comrade who lives in Quebec City, about his personal relationship to the St-Jean, and about this specific St-Jean in particular:

When I was little, I liked the St-Jean, even if I was afraid of the drunks singing in the metro (my childhood memories always have a bunch of people singing Plume in the metro...)

I remember that I was also a bit embarrassed by my godmother who did crazy things like going to see Paul Piché  back stage or convincing the security guards to let her dance between the stage and the security barriers (all of this is pretty vague, but the memory of being embarrassed, and the associated feeling of being jealous of my sister, who was not embarrassed and who would follow her, is definitely there.)

I became uncomfortable with the St-Jean during adolescence. When I realized that the St-Jean was not for everyone. That they didn't let a man march because he was wearing African-style clothing. When I realized that not everyone was a nationalist (or francophone)...

I began to hate the St-Jean when I realized, also during adolescence, that not all adults were on the left or activists. That the adults I knew were the exception, that most people were more like my fascist school principal. The drunken nationalism which came out of nowhere seemed like hypocrisy, the cocky bravado of one night in a daily life of doing without and submitting. For a few years I hated crowds, at the St-Jean and at all the festivals. Not dependable. Rats.

I got into it again briefly at that point between adolescence and adulthood, when the St-Jean started going along with riots in my adopted city. But it didn't last. In any case, it was fake. I shared the anger but not the nationalist basis, so the discomfort was palpable.

Ever since, I have run away, going to the St-Jean parties that were alternative, reggae, punk, etc.

Since then I have moved to uptown. Today, the St-Jean is a vigil. A long night to watch the neighbourhood we call home. To try to calm things down and to get people who have come from the suburbs to party to go elsewhere.

This year I have something else to worry about. Quebec City is a funny place. The heart of the city, the neighbnourhood where the celebrations are taking place, is red. But the suburbs are green. And for months they have been fired up by the trash media til they've become white hot. [The term "red" refers to the color of the student strike; the "greens" are those who oppose the strike.]

I admit that this year I am a bit freaked out. I try to reason with myself, but the thing is that I know that our territory, our neighbourhood, will be invaded. The power ratio could be about three to one against us. With the help of alcohol, it really could blow up. And the city could become a battlefield once again.

The only unknown factor is the police. Depending on what they do (or don't do), they could succeed in bringing the reds and greens together. We will see.

So far, so good.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Armed Confrontation in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s

La Belle Epoque
(1984 Wellington, metro Charlevoix)
Saturday, June 30, 1PM

traduction anglais-français disponible

After the surge of protest that was the sixties, all around the world radicals were drawn to new forms of action and experiments in an attempt to cope with the movement’s ebb.

In West Germany, the armed struggle was one important pole in this post-sixties revolt. Although only ever involving relatively small numbers of people, the armed groups constituted a reference point for tens of thousands of supporters, and repeatedly challenged State power, at times cracking through the State's hegemony. The 2nd of June Movement was based in West Berlin, and initially sought to act based on contradictions within their own society. The Red Army Faction targeted killer cops, U.S. military bases, and members of the judicial apparatus. The Revolutionary Cells emerged out of the RAF support scene in Frankfurt, and would develop a truncated existence, with an international wing working closely with the Palestinian movement, and a domestic wing that sought to lend armed weight to various social movements. Emerging from the Revolutionary Cells, Rote Zora was a feminist guerilla, whose targets included opponents of abortion reform, sex traffickers, companies involved in the exploitation of women in the Third World, and genetic researchers.

Together, the armed groups successfully challenged the idea that the State holds a monopoly on violence, and constituted an example of State power being successfully challenged. By the same token, errors committed by the armed groups would take a heavy toll, and miscalculations repeatedly dealt heavy setbacks to the entire radical left. The guerilla's legacy is a mixed one.

Join us for a discussion about the armed experience in West Germany, and its ongoing reverberations today.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Christa Eckes - Honor Her Memory!

The first time Christa Eckes made the news was back in 1970, when as a teenager growing up in the West German city of Hamburg she was expelled from high school for starting a political action group. The "Basisgruppe LS-Schülerinnen" (LS Students Grassroots Group) was said to have distributed leaflets, organized resistance to the school board, the school administration and the parents' advisory board, organized a questionnaire about sexual problems without informing the school administration and also to have disrupted a Christmas party.

Her mother hired Kurt Groenewold, a renowned left-wing lawyer, to oblige the school to readmit her daughter – an effort which proved successful.

The decision to hire Groenewold was perhaps a fateful one; within a few years he would be known throughout West Germany as one of the attorneys for prisoners from the Red Army Faction, an anti-imperialist guerilla organization. By this time Eckes would be working as his legal assistant, and as such would be part of the defense team for Margrit Schiller, a prisoner from the RAF held in Hamburg.

Eckes’ political activity was not limited to the courtroom. Another signal moment in her development occurred when she was involved in physically defending the Ekhoffstraße squat in Hamburg. As detailed elsewhere:
On the morning of May 23, 1973, the squat was sealed off by six hundred policemen and attacked by a SWAT team equipped with machine guns. More than seventy squatters were arrested, and thirty-three of them were charged with “membership in or support of a criminal organization” (§129), which later led to a number of convictions. It was the first time that the paragraph was used under such circumstances.
[Geronimo, Fire and Flames: A History of the German Autonomist Movement, 57]
Eckes was clubbed on the head and arrested during the police attack, but was not held. She was one of many who responded to this State violence with a deepened sense of commitment to resistance – several of these would eventually join the Red Army Faction.

Eckes was amongst this number.

As Margrit Schiller would later recall:
She had worked as legal assistant for my lawyer. After being with the Trotskyists for a long time, she had now left them. She was on the lookout for the opportunity to put her politics into practice as she was sick of all the fights about theory. After following my trial she had become interested in the RAF and the prisoners. … Christa had also brought someone else along … The severe confrontation surrounding the house in Ekhoffstrasse had given them the final motivation to come to the RAF.
[Margrit Schiller, Remembering the Armed Struggle: Life in Baader Meinhof, 113]
The RAF at this time had been almost wiped out in a wave of arrests that had followed the 1972 May Offensive. In late 1973, someone who had rented a safehouse in Hamburg lost their nerve and snitched to the Hamburg Verfassungsschutz (the Office for the Protection of the Constitution). The Verfassungsschutz opted to not proceed with arrests immediately, but rather decided to keep the house under surveillance for as long as possible. This surveillance continued until February 4, 1974, on which day police rounded up all of the guerillas in simultaneous predawn raids; Eckes was captured along with Ilse Stachowiak and Helmut Pohl in Hamburg. [Margrit Schiller, Remembering the Armed Struggle: Life in Baader Meinhof, 122-5]

Of all those arrested on February 4, Eckes would receive the longest sentence – seven years – as she was the only one police managed to tie to any actual actions: a bank robbery. She served her complete sentence, and was released 1981. Like the other prisoners, her time in prison had been punctuated by numerous hunger strikes, including the third (1974-5) and eighth (1981) of the RAF prisoners’ collective hunger strikes, in which two prisoners died. [Holger Meins in the first of these, Sigurd Debus in the second one.]

Shortly after her release in 1981, Eckes returned to the underground. This was a time of important political changes in the West German anti-imperialist guerilla, as the RAF was coming to terms with the challenges and setbacks of previous years, while attempting to reach out to a new militant youth movement that had emerged while Eckes was in prison. The result was a document released in 1982, The Guerilla, The Resistance and the Anti-Imperialist Front, also known as the May Paper, that signalled a re-orientation towards struggles within West Germany, and a desire for the guerilla to work alongside the aboveground militant left.

There were no RAF attacks for two years following the release of the May Paper, as the guerillas busied themselves with establishing the infrastructure and political basis for this new front concept to take root.

Then, on July 2, 1984, before they could go into action, a Frankfurt safehouse in which a number of members of the RAF were staying was identified after someone accidentally shot a hole in the floor while cleaning a gun. Eckes, along with Helmut Pohl, Stefan Frey, Ingrid Jakobsmeier, Barbara Ernst, and Ernst-Volker Staub, were all captured.

Eckes and Jakobsmeier went to trial in 1985 along with Manuela Happe (who had been captured 2 weeks earlier). The three were charged with weapons offenses, falsification of identity papers, and membership in a “terrorist” organization. (Under paragraph 129a, guerillas and aboveground anti-imperialists alike could be prosecuted for belonging to or even just supporting a “terrorist” organization, even where there was no evidence tying them to any specific actions.) In March 1986, Eckes received an eight-year prison sentence.

The tenth hunger strike by the prisoners from the RAF occurred in 1989; it was a rolling hunger strike, meaning prisoners would begin at different times, two weeks apart. Eckes and Karl-Heinz Dellwo were the first two to refuse food, on February 15. They would remain on hunger strike for three months, until May 14, by which point dozens of RAF members and other political prisoners had joined them.

As a result of this tenth hunger strike, isolation conditions were relaxed and several small groups were established: Eckes was now part of one such group in Cologne-Ossendorf, along with Heidi Schulz, Sieglinde Hofmann and Ingrid Jakobsmeier. 

Eckes (like many others) served her sentence to its last day, only being released in 1992.

She did not rejoin the RAF after her release in 1992 – the revolutionary movements that had emerged from the 1960s and 70s were in disarray, not only as a result of their own contradictions, but also due to the drastically different political conditions following the implosion of the Soviet bloc. The RAF carried out its last action (the bombing of a newly-built high security prison) in May 1993, and would experience a bitter split just five months later.

In March 1998, years after most had thought it long gone, the RAF declared that it had disbanded.

The guerilla remains a bitter memory for the State. It desperately wants to prevent tomorrow’s rebels from learning the lessons of, or taking inspiration from, the experience of these armed groups. Severing the historical cord connecting the revolutionary movements of the past from those of the future remains an important counterinsurgency objective today.

The prosecution of former guerillas is one means used to accomplish this goal – not only to intimidate comrades (“we’ll get you in the end”) but also because such trials serve as an opportunity to rehash counterinsurgency fabrications and provide a stage on which those former guerillas who have broken with their past can do their dirty work, part of a perpetual campaign of preventative psychological warfare.

Some former RAF members addressed this in 2010:
The RAF was dissolved in 1998, based on its assessment of the changed political situation globally. The fact that it was its own decision and that it has not been defeated by the state, obviously remains a thorn in the flesh. Hence the eternal lament of the “myth” yet to be destroyed. Hence the political and moral capitulation demanded from us. Hence the attempts to finalize the criminalization of our history, up to the mendacious proposal of a “Truth Commission”. Whereas the search for those who are still underground, the smear campaigns in the media and the legal procedures against former prisoners continue, we are expected to kowtow publicly. As, in all these years, it didn’t work by “renunciation”, we are now to denounce each other. Save yourself if you can.
[A note regarding the current situation – by some who have been RAF members at various points in time, May 2010]
The form this is currently taking in Germany is a hypocritical and sanctimonious media-inspired obsession with finding out which RAF member pulled the trigger in the 1977 assassination of Attorney General Siegfried Buback. Despite the fact that RAF members were already convicted of this action, and spent decades in prison, a new investigation was opened and former RAF member Verena Becker charged with the murder.  Becker had already spent 14 years in prison, from 1977 until 1991, and for a period snitched to the Verfassungsschutz in the hope of improving her prison conditions.

Although Becker has long since broken with the RAF’s politics, the position of former RAF members, including Brigitte Mohnhaupt, Knut Folkerts, Christian Klar, and Stefan Wisniewski, all of whom were called upon to testify, has been to refuse to cooperate in any way, even when threatened with “coercive detention” – a return to prison – as a result. As explained by some former RAF members:
None of us has testified, not because of any specific “agreement” among us, but because it is a matter of course for anyone with a political consciousness. A question of dignity, of identity – of the side we once took.

Not to testify is not a RAF invention. It has been an experience of the liberation movements and guerilla groups that it is vital to provide no information whatsoever when in custody, in order to protect those who continue the struggle. We have the historical examples of the resistance against fascism. Whoever seriously wanted something politically over here has reflected on these and learned from these. In the student movement, the refusal of testimonies was a widely understood necessity when its criminalization started. Ever since, militants in various contexts have been confronted with the question. For us within the RAF, it has just as much been a necessary condition that no-one testifies. There is no other protection – for those in prison, for the group outside and for the illegal space as such, its movements, its structures and its relationships.
[A note regarding the current situation – by some who have been RAF members at various points in time, May 2010]

Christa Eckes was subpoenaed to testify in Becker’s trial in 2011. It had been almost twenty years since she had been released from prison, but her response was both unambiguous and unflinching: she refused to go along with the State’s witch-hunt.

Despite the fact that she was undergoing chemotherapy in a final battle against cancer, in late 2011 she too was threatened with “coercive detention”, which would have meant spending her last days behind bars. In other cases like this, the State merely used coercive imprisonment as a threat, but in Eckes’ case an order was issued in December for her to be sent back to prison.

Still, she did not budge.

It was only following protests in a number of cities in Germany and elsewhere in Europe that the State backed down, with the High Court in Karlsruhe (the BGH) ruling that due to her health, any period in prison would put her life at risk.

Shortly after this ordeal, on January 22, Eckes made a public statement to those who had supported her in this final battle with the State:
To my friends and all of the others who acted against my coercive detention:

The BGH has rejected my coercive detention.  That’s good.  However, the dispute over political justice and the proceedings against left militants from the 70s are not over, neither in terms of the refusal to provide evidence, followed by coercive detention, on the part of others nor generally speaking.  That is perfectly clear.

However, I must say that the experience of your solidarity, friendship and concrete support truly moved me and provided me with security and strength, which was very important to me, given my current state of health.

It is also clear that the huge effort and the numerous protests had an effect.  Who knows how things might have gone otherwise.
On Wednesday, May 23, Christa Eckes died at a hospital in Karlsruhe, surrounded by her friends and family.

Her life, her work, her contribution to the struggle – these things inspire us.

Honor her memory – fight for a world worth living in!


To read a statement by Ronald Augustin and a poem by Gisela Dutzi regarding their comrade and friend, click here.

A Statement and a Poem for Christa Eckes

Former RAF member Christa Eckes died of cancer on Wednesday, May 23, in Karlsruhe, Germany. (To read more about Christa, click here.) The following is a statement by Ronald Augustin and a poem by Gisela Dutzi, regarding their comrade and friend:


christa and i, we failed to meet each other on several occasions.  when i was supposed to see her for the first time, me illegal she still legal, i was arrested on the way to the meeting with her.  shortly after, in the autumn of 1973, she joined the raf but in turn was arrested only few months later.  i then first got to know her through our common struggle against the prison conditions only.

a phrase of hers on that was – “we ‘maintain’ our fighting force by the fact that, also in here, we don’t give up our intention to put something in motion against them – it’s also because of that that we are fighting against the isolation.”

when i was released from prison in 1980, she was still inside, and when she was released almost two years later, i was again somewhere else.  another two years later she was again in prison, a second time for eight years.

only ten years ago now we got to see each other in the real.  what has struck me about her since is that, of all those of us from the raf who are still around, she has been one of the clearest heads.  like hardly anyone else, christa was able to summarize, in one go and quite unexpectedly, a complex situation and provide a political analysis of it.

i still cannot grasp how and how fast disease struck her in these past few months – her death is tearing a huge hole in what connected us, those who have been her friends, throughout the years.

another of christa’s constant factors was her sincerity.  as always open, simple and generous, accessible and yes, repeatedly this unrepressable smile in the corner of her lips.  a smile which perhaps more than anything else expresses that she – in a world of material and intellectual poverty – never lost faith in our struggle for a human life.



likes awful synthetic biker’s pants
long walks, during which she chased us through fields and forests,
she loved castles and other absurd things
egg salat in quantities
she lived unconditional friendships
she never complained and that is not an exaggeration!
when she got something wrong,
she could be very self critical,
taboos, on what was discussed, didn’t exist anymore,
we still wanted to travel a lot, spend time together,
she was so curious about everything,
notorious for her readiness to take risks,
unconditionally solidary, and if she could have, preferably for the entire planet….and sometimes up to self-sacrifice…
sharp, gruff, exact, sometimes tough,
in the past few months she learnt how she was appreciated,
all around her who loved her,
that’s where relationships showed that she had helped build,
in the past few months softer, she could now also accept to receive, to have a good time….
in the past few months absolutely present
and clear and straightforward without any illusion on her situation.
a situation she determined, literally, until the end.

i don’t know how life can go on without her,
without a phone call or another – shall we meet, when?
without her reliability, looking for solutions, tackling things,
without her

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

“The Partisan” Political Event – Friday June 22 & Saturday June 23 in Montreal

This Friday and Saturday in Montreal (reposted from The Red Flag):

For the past year, the Partisan has consistently defended the interests of the working class. Across the board, both nationally and internationally, Partisan condemns the dominant ideology and takes a solid stand in favor of socialism and revolution. It supports acts of resistance from the proletariat and oppressed peoples and popularizes revolutionary actions that attack the very heart of the exploitative capitalist system.

The Partisan Political Event is therefore intended to celebrate the first anniversary of this bilingual newspaper, published every two weeks by the Political Information Bureau (PIB) of the Revolutionary Communist Party and distributed free of charge, both in Québec and English Canada. In the months and years to come, we plan to expand and multiply the number of correspondents, supporters and contributors to this newspaper, in order to make it a truly pan-Canadian newspaper. From June to September, the PIB is carrying out a major fundraising campaign to help broaden its distribution and increase its circulation. The Partisan Political Event will officially launch this campaign in which all activists who want to fight against capitalism and for a new society are invited to join. For two days, we will discuss the current major challenges, not like the bourgeois media does, but by encouraging discussion, debate, sharing experiences and a fighting spirit. Welcome to all!

Location: CEDA, 2515, rue Delisle, Lionel-Groulx metro station, Montréal.
Voluntary Contribution: $5 each day.
Additional contributions are welcome!

PROGRAMME (updated on June 17, 2012)
(Most of the presentations will be in French – Whisper translation will be provided)

Defending the right to rebellion and the right to make revolution!
This spring, for the first time in years —since perhaps even the 1970s!— the student struggle in Québec has shone a spotlight on social struggles, collective resistance, the right to rebel, and the power of the street, as well as on repression by government forces. Reactionary violence on the one side (police, court orders, special legislation), popular resistance and even violence on the other side, as people have defended themselves and refused the dictates of the ruling class. Today more than ever, we must learn how to organize resistance, not only to face state repression, but also to wage the more long-term struggle to really transform the current system.

9:30 to 11am: WORKSHOPS

Workshop No. 1: Communist propaganda in 2012

At a time where social networks are spreading and talk of “democratization of information” is common, what about the tradition of Communist propaganda? What are the differences between Communist and bourgeois propaganda? Between Communist propaganda and a mere disclosure of facts?

Workshop No. 2: Alain Badiou, or how to be Maoist without waging revolution?

Professor Alain Badiou is attracting many progressive and revolutionary people with his “semi-Maoist” discourse and his sharp criticism of the society in which we live. But where does his thinking lead in a context where we must build struggle?

11:15am to 12:30pm: WORKSHOP

Workshop No. 3: Elections and bourgeois democracy: the grand illusion

While the watchdogs of the bourgeoisie are asking protesters to respect “law and democracy,” both the left and the right are trying to convince us that the solution can be found in elections... Is this really true?

1:30 to 3:00pm: WORKSHOP

Workshop No. 4: From student strike to social crisis: what the struggle learns us

Student activists past and present share and compare the achievements and lessons of student struggles... from yesterday to today.


–> Bertrand Sassoye, former member of the “Cellules Communistes Combattantes” (Belgium)
–> Spokesperson from the Maoist Communist Party, France (to be confirmed)


A time for participants to relax and share (location to be confirmed on site).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Anti-Capitalism and Violence: Gord Hill Interviewed by Kersplebedeb

The opening graphic in The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book is striking, showing a Black Bloc member squaring off against a cop, each as representatives of the clash between Empire and free peoples from centuries past. To what degree do you feel that the clashes at today's summits represent a continuity with the history of anti-colonial resistance?

To start with, I wouldn't limit the concept of anti-colonial resistance simply to counter summit mobilizations. But in general, I do think there's a connection in that free, autonomous societies have always resisted the rule of civilization and its empires, which the graphic you refer to was meant to depict. Looking at just the summit protests, however, they are in some ways the equivalent to battles fought against empire by tribal peoples, including forms of self-organization, autonomy, even tactics. For example, tribal peoples in Western Europe fought in a somewhat chaotic autonomous manner, while Roman legions were in massed units, lines of heavily armoured troops, etc. You can see similar forms of struggle among social movements opposing state security forces today, the Black Bloc being somewhat similar to the "barbarian" tribes fighting Roman soldiers (who look very similar to modern day riot cops).

In the section of your comic book where you talk about the fall of the Roman Empire, you show how assimilated tribal chiefs took advantage of the power vacuum to establish their own kingdoms. Some comrades argue that we're now in a period of the decline of imperialism, but is there anything we can do to prevent history from repeating itself, and today's "assimilated tribal chiefs" in the neo-colonies from similarly filling the power vacuum as warlords to set up their own fiefdoms?

The "assimilated tribal chiefs" are already circulating and jockeying for position within our social movements, if we consider the collaborative role of union bureaucrats, political party members, pacifist ideologues, etc. Internally, we make efforts to keep our autonomy and decentralized manner of organizing while defeating those that would control and contain us. In the event of a systemic collapse, what would prevent warlords as such from rising? Organized resistance capable of defeating such forces, the seeds of which must be planted now so that when the crisis matures so does the resistance. it should also be noted that even among the European tribes collaborator chiefs were targeted with death and there was significant internal struggles among tribes in responding to both the advance of the Roman empire and its collapse.

k: The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book focuses almost exclusively on clashes at protests that have occurred in the media spotlight. Do you consider these protests, which some people have criticized as "summit hopping", to be particularly strategic? Is there a particular importance in telling these stories?

gh: The summits depicted in the comic are historical events that involved tens of thousands of people directly in the streets, and which affected many more (via corporate and alternative media, etc.). They inspired many and showed the power of the people when mobilized, despite the vast deployment of state security forces. This is a strategic gain that is absolutely necessary for resistance movements. In regards to telling these stories, it is up to us to maintain our history of resistance, no one else will do it for us. It is in fact in the interests of the ruling class that such histories be erased because they are such "bad examples." I personally don't like the term "summit hopping" as it belittles the efforts of organizers attempting to mobilize against such events in their areas. It also arises from the false belief that we either organize "locally" or "summit hop," a division that doesn't exist in reality.

k: I think what you're saying there is really borne out by what we're seeing at the moment in Quebec, where some of the same people who were involved in the militant actions at the G20 or even at Montebello before that, have been participating in the present mobilization.

gh: Ya, I've heard the same thing about the #Spanish Revolution, which Occupy Wall Street was modeled after.  Many of the organizers were 'veterans' of the so-called anti-globalization movement.

k: In your comic book, you show the Mohawk uprising and the Zapatistas in 1990, but then skip ahead to APEC in 1997 and then J18 in 1999. In many cities, the 90s were a decade where militant antifascist politics became an important area of action. Do you see any connection between the antifa activism of the 90s and then much broader antiglobalization movement that followed?

gh: Yes, certainly, in that many of the Anti-fa militants were key organizers in some of these mobilizations and also promoted militant tactics such as Black Blocs over those years. But I had limits on how much of the story could be told, and the anti-APEC and Zapatista rebellion more directly influenced the so-called anti-globalization movement with the focus on neo-liberalism, which I think really made people aware of the global restructuring then underway.

k: In Toronto there was Anti-Racist Action, and in Montreal we had the somewhat pathetic example of the "World Anti-Fascist League" and then (much better) RASH and SHARP; what kinds of groups were active on the West coast at the time?

gh: In Vancouver there was less of a fascist threat during this period.  There were smaller numbers of neo-nazis organized around Aryan Nations, and there was an Aryan Resistance Movement, as well as Tony McAleer's "Canadian Liberty Net," mostly a telephone line that had racist messages and info.  As a result there wasn't an active ARA chapter.  We did set up a group called Anti-Fascist Info, which was mostly an informational group that organized film screenings, forums, etc.  There were numerous autonomous anti-fascists who would show up at anti-racist rallies, for example in 1993 I think the Canadian Liberty Net attempted to organize a forum with Tom Metzger from the White Aryan REsistance (WAR).  This meeting was shut down after militants learned of the meeting place.  There was also a liberal reformist group called the BC Organization to Fight Racism (BCOFR) which had formed in the early 1980s when the KKK was more active here.

k: Your work over the years, both as an activist and a movement artist-intellectual, has focussed on Indigenous resistance struggles, which have been going on uninterrupted for over five hundred years. Yet you also obviously have an affinity for some of the traditions of resistance that emerged much more recently in Europe, especially the German Autonomen. There seem to be glaring differences between the circumstances that have given rise to these resistance struggles - to what degree do you see them as being compatible, or perhaps more to the point, what how do you see them as being relevant to one another?

gh: Yes, my main focus is anti-colonial and anti-capitalist resistance. As capitalism arose from Europe's colonization of the Americas, I see the two as intertwined. The imposition of capitalist relations among Indigenous peoples has resulted in class hierarchies, today manifested in the Aboriginal business elite and their collaborator political organizations. I think decolonization must include an anti-capitalist analysis or it risks simply being another form of assimilation (neo-colonialism). And since we have to develop anti-capitalist resistance it makes sense to study and understand such movements both historically and current. The Autonomen, as an autonomous and decentralized political force/social movement, share some qualities with Indigenous tribal society and also serve as a model for radical anti-capitalist resistance in a modern industrialized nation-state.

k: In the 1970s, at the time when the Autonomen were first developing in West Germany, and during the second wave of Autonomia in Italy, there was the related phenomenon of the "Urban Indians" - was this just a racist rip-off, or do you see there as something positive in this kind of identification, especially as the people who identifies this way may have been anti-imperialist, but really had no connection or contact with the anti-colonial Indigenous struggles here?

gh: The "Urban Indians" were probably sincere in their efforts to "decolonize" from Western Civilization, but ya it is a kind of racist appropriation of culture which would not go over very well here in North America.  The ironic thing is they could have reached back to the tribal history of Europe itself--the Vandals, the Goths, Celts, etc. all resisted their colonization by the Romans and had numerous military victories, including the sacking of Rome itself on a few occasions, which seems like a great historical legacy of their own ancestors engaging in anti-colonial resistance.

k: At the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair, one of the best moments for me is when a guy came over to my table and was excited because he recognized himself in your comic - he had been arrested at the G20 and his story and\ made it into your pages. Other people i know also get a grin when they see someone who might be them. Leaving aside the question of how autobiographical your book may be, what is the significance of using art to keep alive the stories and anecdotes from these events?

gh: Tribal peoples have always used to art to maintain their histories and culture, as have social movements. In regards to the historical events depicted in the comic, I hadn't seen too much artwork attempting to maintain this history, for example with comics, which I find to be a great form of communication.

k: I imagine your art will continue to serve this function for the movement in the years to come. Do you have any future projects along similar lines that you'd like to tell us about?

gh: Not at the moment, perhaps you have some ideas?

k: Ha! Well, you could always come to Montreal, lots of interesting things happening here these days...

k: Violence is central to your stories, and the idea seems to be that the more of it, the better. Why is violence so important, and what do you have against peaceful protest?

gh: I would say violence is central to the stories I depict because they are a critical moment in the social conflict out of which they arise. It isn't every day that the state mobilizes thousands of cops and soldiers, or when thousands of militants converge on a specific battlefield as it were. In regards to levels of violence I think this is a tactical question that is very much dependent on conditions and context. In Seattle 1999 there was a fairly low level of violence engaged in by protesters, certainly in the downtown core where it was much more of a classic "police riot." In the Capitol Hill area there was more sustained street fighting, but of course the most spectacular impact arose from the small Black Bloc action in the downtown which saw a fairly low level of violence (there were no confrontations with riot police with a good amount of property destruction carried out). I have nothing against "peaceful protest" and have participated in many more such protests than "violent" ones. It's a question of tactics and strategy. I would say, however, that I am opposed to pacifist ideologues attempting to impose their beliefs on others while undermining militants.

k: Various writers have argued that violence against the oppressor can actually be psychologically liberating for people, a way of dealing with and healing from the violence of everyday day life under patriarchal colonial capitalism...

gh: Ya that was the message of Franz Fanon.  I would say it can be psychologically liberating, and an important part of that is showing that the oppressor is not omnipotent, that they can be fought and even defeated.  Without this people feel powerless, which contributes to apathy.  People need a fighting spirit and the will to resist, and I don't think pacifism is very inspiring to a lot of people.

k: In the context of the antiglobalization movement, which you literally illustrate in your comic book, there were debates about nationalism, about cooperating with the right (i.e. Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader, etc.), about conspiracy theories - but the only debate that appears in your comic book is the debate over violence. Did you purposefully decide to highlight this one question?

gh: Yes, I think it's a much more critical debate than those over larger strategic ones at this time, such as nationalism or conspiracy theories. I think within more radical social movements there is already an understanding around nationalism and the right-wing, a consensus of sorts that generally rejects these concepts. But within this there is a division over the question of violence and militant actions that must be resolved to some degree before greater unity of effort can be achieved. As for conspiracy theories, they certainly had an impact on the Toronto G20 due to the involvement of some conspiracists promoting the idea that the Black Bloc was a police operation, and maybe some debate on this should've been included, but by the end of the G20 comic I was seriously pressed for space...

k: This spring in Quebec there has been a student strike which has developed with strong anticapitalist politics and a rapid escalation on the streets. A lot of the protest tactics which were pioneered by small, even tiny, groups over the past fifteen years are now in the headlines every day, and being taken up by much larger numbers of people. How much potential do you see for this kind of urban militant resistance to spread in North America? Do you see any potential pitfalls?

gh: I think it can spread very far and wide in a very short period of time. I began to realize the potential for this after reading a report from Greece on the 2008/09 rebellion there, where a similar phenomenon of thousands of youths adopted the tactics and methods that had been used by smaller numbers of anarchists for years. This wasn't simply natural intuition--these kids and many others in Greek society have watched the anarchists in action for over two decades now. It's like "monkey see, monkey do" and that's the importance of showing examples of militant resistance and serving as a model of how it can be carried out. The Canucks Riot of 2011 here in Vancouver was similar--during the 1994 hockey riot there were no cars arsoned. In 2011, over 16 or 17 cars were torched, including 4 police cars. I'm sure many of these youth rioting had seen some coverage of the Toronto G20 and the four burning cop cars that resulted. The Occupy movement, whatever its shortcomings, shows that a large segment of the population believes that some form of social change is necessary. They weren't willing to join the Occupiers, but they're sitting there and observing all this social mobilization and conflict going on in the world. It might only take one incident or issue to instigate social revolt, and as conditions continue to deteriorate this potential grows. The potential pitfalls are greater repression of social movements and an increase in police controls over the population, but that's part of the process of resistance.

k: If or when things do fall apart, isn't there a risk that the racism, patriarchy, and capitalist values that people have internalized might lead significant sections of the oppressor nations, especially its middle classes, to veer to the far right?

gh: I'd say it's a very real possibility and one that we can see occurring even now, with the right-wing Christian patriot militia movement in the US.  This movement expanded during the 1990s but then declined after 9/11 when the so-called "War on Terror" began.  In 2008 however, when Obama was elected amidst an economic crisis, the patriot militia movement expanded rapidly with part of it mainstreaming as survivalism (itself a sign of the times).  As of yet this right-wing has not coalesced into a unified movement, although all the ingredients are there for fascist style paramilitary organizing on a large scale.  But the thing about the declining economic conditions is that significant segments of the middle-class may become working class, as occurred in Argentina during the 2001-02 economic crisis there.

k: Still thinking of Quebec, after a few weeks of demonstrations in which police were repeatedly sent running, both the federal government and the city of Montreal began drafting legislation and changing bylaws to criminalize wearing masks and increase penalties for even being present during a militant demonstration. With potential consequences of up to ten years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines, the movement is now going to face significantly heavier repression in the courtrooms, and perhaps in the prisons too. On top of that, the provincial government has passed Law 78 which criminlizes a broad range of protest activities, and is clearly meant to break the back of the movement. What will be necessary for radicals to break through this escalation on the part of the State, and what effect will this have on our struggles?

gh: People join resistance movements for a variety of reasons--some ideological, some for friendship, some for financial reasons or personal security. But an important factor is the potential for victory--only those committed ideologically will join a group doomed to failure or defeat. If movements surrender or abandon a struggle after the first act of repression many will see it as weak and impotent. If a movement overcomes this repression and continues to advance, it will more likely gain new members and inspire others. But it also depends on the context--what is the struggle and how much emotion is invested in it by the participants? Is it a matter of life or death, is it a significant part of the core beliefs of the participants, an important matter of principle? In regards to the Quebec student strike, it seems that many participate or sympathize because it is a matter of principle (the right to education, or the right to assembly and protest). They seem to be able to mobilize the numbers necessary to defy the ban on protests and masks for the moment, but the real question will be how social movements without such a large base will fair. To answer the question more directly, I would speculate that mass disobedience of the new law would be crucial to show that the movement cannot be intimidated and controlled so easily. The disruptions resulting from the protests can create political pressure to repeal the legislation, just as they did to create it. But the movement might have to raise the level of struggle to one that it cannot maintain, given that its base, even though large by our standards, is ultimately limited. The law itself will undoubtedly contribute to the radicalization of even more people, just as the student strike itself has.

k: What do you think of the North American left today?

gh: It has great potential considering the worsening socio-economic conditions, the convergence of ecological and economic crises, etc. In general, at the moment it seems weak and fixated on intellectual efforts rather than physical activities, dominated by middle-class social democrats and their suffocating pacifist doctrine, and likely to turn tail and run at the first sign of aggression by our class enemy. The only hope lies in the radicalizing influence of militants, which is why the state sees the bogey-man Black Bloc as the greatest threat, and not those sectors of the left which can be easily co-opted. Furthermore, I think many people don't join "leftist" struggles because they see little potential for victory, and little that actually inspires them. 

The N. American left today largely inspires middle-class liberals and reformists, and the last thing they want is radical social change. The left or social movements in general will become far more effective when working class people actually join and participate in significant numbers, which I think will happen as the economic conditions decline further. I believe this is one of the reasons we must promote a diversity of tactics within out movements, because many working class people intuitively understand that radical social change requires some level of conflict, as opposed to middle-class reformists who seek to avoid both.

k: Violence aside, can you think of any other strategies or tactics that people are using presently that might challenge middle-class control of the left?

gh: I'm not sure, but I think some examples may be found in Occupy Oakland, where more people of colour and working class people were involved and radicalized what was a predominantly white middle-class movement.  Another example might be the Wet'suwet'en in central 'BC' who are resisting the Enbridge pipeline as well as the Pacific Trails Pipeline, a couple of years ago they severed their connection to mainstream environmental NGO's and began working with grassroots resistance groups.  But overall I think middle-class control will be undermined as social conditions continue to decline and more working class elements become mobilized in the resistance.

k: In the time that you have been involved in resistance movements, we have experienced numerous battles on multiple fronts, with both surges forward as well as defeats. What do you think we need to prepare ourselves for over the next ten years?

gh: Preparation must be based on our analysis of what may occur over the next ten years. Worsening economic conditions, ecological crisis, increased state repression... and potential systemic collapse in localized areas. Typically under such conditions there arises the need for greater solidarity and mutual aid to be practised, greater efforts at self-sufficiency (including food production, shelter, etc.), physical self-defense, survival skills, and better education on security culture. Given the growing cynicism with the current system, anti-capitalist resistance should find fertile ground for mobilizing. Anti-fascist or anti-racist efforts may become more important in some areas as well, as the state and ruling class typically resort to fostering fascist movements and racist sentiment among the population in times of crisis.


 The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book
96 pages
Published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2012
ISBN 9781551524443

available for $12.95 from

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 21-24: Toronto Anarchist Bookfair

The following from the fine folks putting on the Toronto Anarchist Bookfair next weekend - sadly, this year we will not be able to attend the bookfair, but i really encourage all of you who are nearby to check it out, looks like there will be great stuff happening!

Here is their call out:
We are planning a jam-packed weekend of workshops, speakers, debates, discussions, distros, good fun, good friends, good food, and of course good reads.

On Thursday evening, June 21, come out to the launch of the second volume of Subversions,
anarchist short fiction by the Anarchist Writers Bloc. The book launch will take place at 7pm at Detour Bar, in Kensington Market, 193 Baldwin Street. For more information see the Facebook event:

On Friday evening, weather permitting, join us for board games and baseball at Bickford Park. See the Facebook event:

On Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm, join us at U of T. This year, we have over 20 amazing workshops, 40 tablers, as well as a Kid Zone with great kids' programming, an Anti-Authoritarian Indigenous/People of Colour space, a DIY space with flexible workshops, a space to relax if you need a nap, and an opportunity to connect with and hear about different projects that our fellow anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and radicals are involved in at a giant go-around. We have also identified that talking about and addressing racism in radical spaces must be a priority in our community and is a priority of the Bookfair program. As a result, “Racism in Radical Communities,” will be the topic of the closing panel discussion on Sunday. Tea and coffee will be available throughout the weekend and lunch will also be served on both days. Food and drinks will be offered for whatever you can pay.

On Saturday evening, there is a book launch for Beautiful Trouble: Toolbox for Revolution at 7pm at Tranzac. 292 Brunswick Avenue. Please see the Facebook event for more information:

We strive to make the Bookfair as accessible as we can. Some of the ways in which we do that is by making it a survivor-centric space, hosting the event at a barrier-free venue, offering food/drinks at a pay what you can rate, and providing kids' programing. If you have a specific request about how the Bookfair can be made more accessible for you, like ASL interpretation, attendant care, or other ways, please email to let us know as soon as possible and we’ll try our best!

If you are coming from out of town and are hoping to spend the night in Toronto, please note that we have limited spots to offer, but do let us know in advance that you need a place to stay. If you need a place to stay, or can offer a place please contact Lindsay:

The Bookfair is made possible by donations and volunteers, If you would like to help out with the Toronto Anarchist Bookfair, there are a couple of things that you can do.
First, make a donation! To make a donation please contact us:
Second, you can volunteer to help us with taking on volunteer tasks.
If you want to help the food committee contact Frankie:
If you want to help with the Kid Zone, (write kid zone in the subject):
If you want to help with outreach, postering, or flyering contact Joanna:

Share our facebook event:
Check out our website for the full schedule:

We're looking forward to spending the weekend with you, soon!
This event is co-sponsored by OPIRG Toronto and Toronto Freeskool.

Provisional Workshops: Anarchism 101, Feminist Anarchism, Parent and Child Inclusivity in the Activist Community, Introduction to Radical Sexual Health, Organizational Issues during the Spanish Civil War, Anarchist Visions of Life After Capitalism, Struggling and Strategy, Animal Liberation from a Feminist Perspective, Anarchism and Community Organizing, No One Is Illegal, Empathy and Transparency in Alternative Relationships, IWW Direct Action and Solidarity Unionism, Mapuche and Anarchist Struggle, Plan Nord = Plan Mort, Reflecting on the G20, Trans and Genderqueer Issues, Drugs and Community Mobilizing, Anti-Ableism, The General Student Strike in Quebec, Know Your Rights, Settler Colonialism, Anarchists in Post-Revolutionary Egypt, Anti-State Communism, Bookbinding, Wallet-Making, Cartoon Drawing, Screen-printing, Bike Repair, etc.

Provisional Tables: Centre for Police Accountability, IWW, Autonomedia, Justice for Levi Coalition, Saint Henri Walking Distance Distro, Notes from Underground, BenderGear, Of Course you Can! Distro, Just Seeds, Arbeiter Ring Publishing, Between The Lines, Twelveohtwo, AK Press, Love and Rage, OCAP, NOII, Guelph ABC, KW Infoshop, Make Total Distro, Krystin Dunnion Zines, Fight Boredom Distro, Cartoons, Rebel Time, Kersplebedeb, PM Press, Shameless Mag, WCCC, Thoughcrime Ink, OPIRG, Beautiful Trouble, Common Cause, Kate Lavut Books and Comics, Tumbelweed Collective, DIY Arts and Crafts, Occupy FreeSkule, Fierce n’ Fabulous, Anti-Fascist Zines, Laughing Revolution, International Workers Group, RASH, UCL, Sisterhood, ARA, Look Mum! Zines, Irish Prisoner Support, Christian Anarchists, Anemone Distro, Iconoclast, Great Worms Distro, Beehive, Blank Space, Deep Green Resistance, etc.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Montreal: Anti-Capitalist Contingents in Saturday Night Demos in June

Saturday 16, 23 & 30
As well as in the CLASSE "National" demo on June 22

This is a call to form anti-capitalist contingents in nightly demos on Saturday June 16th, 23rd, and 30th.

Meet: 20:30 pm, Place Émilie-Gamelin (metro Berri-UQAM)
Look for anti-capitalist flags and banners. The contingent will gather near the front of the march.

We're also calling for the formation of a united anti-capitalist contingent within CLASSE's so-called "national" demonstration in Montreal, on June 22nd.

Meet: 2:00 pm, Place du Canada (corner of  Peel & René-Lévesque - look for anti-capitalist flags and banners.)

- A call from CLAC and allies.


Les samedis 16, 23 et 30 juin, ainsi que le 22 juin dans le cadre de la manif de la CLASSE

Ceci est un appel à la formation de contingents anticapitalistes dans les manifestations nocturnes des samedi 16, 23 et 30 juin.

R.-V. : 20 h 30, Place Émilie-Gamelin (métro Berri-UQAM)
Cherchez les drapeaux et bannières anticapitalistes. Le contingent se regroupera vers l'avant du cortège.

Nous appelons également toutEs les anticapitalistes à former un contingent dans le cadre de la manifestation "nationale" organisée à Montréal par la CLASSE, le vendredi 22 juin.

R.-V. : 14 h, Place du Canada (rue Peel et René-Lévesque - cherchez les drapeaux et bannières anticapitalistes.)

- Un appel de la CLAC et alliéEs

Friday, June 08, 2012

Windi Earthworm, Ragged Clown

Windi Earthworm was an institution of the radical anglo left in 1980s Montreal. A crossdressing openly gay street musician who took it upon himself to educate the public about the Vancouver 5, the genocide of Indigenous peoples, the destruction of nature, and the miseries of life under capitalism, Windi was a frequent performer at benefits put on by the scene. Indeed, generally he was by far the most popular act.

Windi was diagnosed HIV+ in the mid-eighties, and had moved to the countryside by 1986 - and when his health started to noticeably deteriorate, he left Quebec for the West Coast, settling in Victoria, B.C. He died in 1993.

A few years ago i put up a webpage on the Kersplebedeb site - Windi Earthworm Remembered - , which contains Windi's music in mp3 format, some photos of Windi, and some memories about Windi by his friend Michael Ryan. Until recently, it was the only place on the web with information about Windi, or where you could hear his words, in his voice.

Thankfully, and thanks to Claude Ouellette, there is now a second place, where you can also see Windi actually performing - the documentary film Ragged Clown - as Ouellette explains:
Filmed in 1984-1986 as a year-end film school project. I first met Windi in 1976, in Calgary on the 8th avenue mall. My friend D. and I wanted to hitchhike to Vancouver but ended up in Calgary. That first night, when we arrived there with no where to go and no one to contact Windi took us in for the night, at his pad he shared with a visual artist/bus driver lover. I had never met a gay person before. I later found out that this is what Windi would do, bring in wayward youth for the night, feed them and send them on their way. I stayed in Calgary for a few months and would see Windi performing every once in a while, in a skirt but not as a woman, in Calgary, in 1976...I didn't know or realize what he was singing about at the time but I sure thought he was courageous. I then met him again a few years later in Montreal. A few more years later, needing a year-end film school project, I decided to do a portrait of this man who, more than most, lived his life according to his principles. Windi was, of course, full of contradictions, like us all, but somehow that didn't matter with him.

Up on youtube here (or just click on the photo above). A treasure from the history of radical Montreal, of the history of queer Montreal, and great music to boot - really, check it out!

Monday, June 04, 2012

NOLA: APOCalypse: Survival Strategies for the New Millenium

Just received this callout for an Anarchist People of Color gathering in NOLA later this year, which i figured i'd share with you all:

Aah, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: While current paradigms of social, political and economic oppression thrash against their imminent demise, taking the planet down with them, we have an opportunity to rise through the cracks and build a new future.

APOCalypse will gather people of color together to discuss, build and share radical anti-authoritarian practices based on autonomy, egalitarian relationships, and justice. This July, we hope to bring together a couple hundred friends, comrades, family members and strangers to New Orleans, Louisiana, to celebrate, re-map, and craft our anti-authoritarian visions and skills for the years to come.

Through parties, plenaries, workshops, panels, roundtables and space for impromptu discussions, we hope to create space to discuss what it means to organize as radicals and anarchists; the future of indigenous solidarity; people-of-color movement history; science fiction; queerness; and conversations on racialization. We’ll have childcare, a kids’ track, an elders’ circle, and a healing justice center to stay sane and together for the long run.

We, as Anarchist People of Color (APOC), share a loose set of politics being anti-authoritarian and a common identity as people of color. We are not a formal organization, political party, non-profit, charity, committee, church group, dance troupe, etc…

We, the coordinators of this convergence, know each other either directly or indirectly from years of organizing, and through APOC connections. Many of us met almost 10 years ago at the first national APOC conference in Detroit, Michigan. We are excited to reconnect, reassess, reunite and meet new people. We aim for this convergence to not just be a reunion though but a multi-generational, multi-dimensional gathering that can offer something for almost every anarchist or politically radical person of color out there.

We hope that participants are looking for dialogues, methods, and theories that resist oppression by understanding the root causes of injustice – while developing strategies for ecologically, politically, socially, and economically sustainable communities. Not everyone coming will be or has to be an anarchist. We just hope that participants will want to build power in ways that are not hierarchical, racist, and heteropatriarchal, but are instead collaborative and horizontal.

We don’t intend this convergence to be a place to hammer out points of unity, build a formal anything or come close to representing all anarchist people of color. We hope that we’ll just get a chance to meet, dream, learn and make some amazing plans.

*Please note that we are organizing with and inviting people of color only.*

The convergence will be in downtown New Orleans, in the Marigny/7th Ward area. The registration point will be at 1024 Elysian Fields Ave, 70117.

GET INVOLVED! To participate in the convergence, please register at **so that we can prepare for your stay.

We are currently accepting workshop and event proposals. **

Feel free to email us with any questions at **.

Thank you!


Here is more information that was sent along with this call:

APOCalypse: a National Anarchist People of Color Convergence
Survival Strategies for the New Millennium
July 12th – 15th, 2012
New Orleans, Louisiana
Register here:

Calling all activists, organizers, artists, performers, musicians, theorists, healers, academics, designers, zinesters, seamsters, and all!

This July, we hope to bring together a couple hundred friends, comrades, family members and strangers to New Orleans, Louisiana, to celebrate, re-map, and craft our anti-authoritarian visions and skills for the years to come.

We’ll have parties, plenaries, workshops, panels, roundtables and space for impromptu discussions on what it means to organize as anarchists; the future of indigenous solidarity; people-of-color movement history; science fiction; queerness; and conversations on racialization. We’ll have childcare, a kids’ track, an elders’ circle, and a healing justice center to stay sane and together for the long run.

We are currently accepting proposals for workshops, spaces to chill, activities, performances, and events. We want there to be facilitated spaces to talk shop, and, also spaces to just chill, reconnect with old friends and socialize with new. (Please submit proposals to host a chill space so we can make these happen!)

Please note that this convergence is by and for self identified people of color only.

It’s been almost 10 years since the first national APOC conference in Detroit, Michigan. We are excited to reconnect, reassess and reunite and meet. We aim for this convergence to not just be a reunion but a multi-generational, multi-dimensional gathering that can offer something for almost every radical person of color out there.

We think it’s important for us to come together to celebrate our successes, learn from our failures, and analyze our roles in local, national, international, and dare we say, intergalactic movement building. We also think that it’s a good opportunity to talk face to face, and not just facebook to facebook.

We don’t intend this convergence to be a place to hammer out points of unity, build a formal anything or come close to representing all anarchist people of color. We just hope that we’ll get a chance to meet, dream, learn and make some amazing plans

Please consider and answer the following questions in your proposal to facilitate or host a workshop, space, activity, performance, or event. We will try to read everything we receive from you; it would be helpful to us if you limited your proposal to 1000 words/2 pages.

  • Name of workshop, space, activity, discussion, performance or event
  • Describe the content/topic of what you are proposing.
  • Please read over our tracks in BOLD below. Is there an existing track your proposal could fit within? Is there a track you’d like to see that doesn’t already exist?
  • How is this a kid friendly space or not? And if not, is there a way we can support you to be more kid friendly? *Note: there is a kids & youth track in the making, so molding your workshop to create space for kids is not mandatory.
  • How are you preparing for differently abled bodies? Is there a way we can support you to do so?
  • Do you need or want support in structuring and/or running what you propose? Are there other resources you will need? (For example, an easel, projector, markers, etc.) Sorry, we are unable to provide funds at this time.
  • Many of the topics and issues we end up talking about at APOC events can be triggering or bring up difficult emotions for many. How do you plan for your session to be able to adequately hold space for people and/or address conflict? Are there any triggers you can anticipate and advise people of at the beginning of your session?
  • How will your workshop/event be committed to anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-classist, queer politics?
  • How is your proposal specifically related to APOC?

Please include the best way to reach you: your telephone number, email, etc. and email your proposals to:

We look forward to hearing your ideas!
–the Programming Collective & the Childcare/ Youth Collective –
tracey (New Orleans), puck (Oakland), lida (New York City), ianna (Oakland), wakx (Seattle), gahiji (New Orleans), xan (Oakland), dan (New York City)

Currently, the convergence tracks are:



  • YOUTH TRACK (ages 12 and up) – description coming soon

  • KIDS TRACK (pre-12) – description coming soon

  • DREAMING AWAKE: visions for 2012 & beyond (also known as the SCI-FI TRACK)


  • -and others to come based on submissions that we receive…


This track will focus on some of the basic tenets, theories and practices of anarchism, both western and non-western. Workshops and discussions will address how anarchism relates to Left movements, labor unions, the non-profit industrial complex (social services/ the shadow state), membership and base-building organizations, academia, etc. This is a good place for people to talk strategy and build nationally.

This track is dedicated to analyzing and re-inventing horizontal organizing structures and direct action tactics we’ve used to challenge capitalism, the state, and other coercive systems. Because a critical part of anarchist theory in action is the work of creating transformational healing and justice; this track is committed to envisioning and discussing strategies to build and sustain autonomous communities by confronting and addressing gendered, raced, and classed violence; on institutional and interpersonal levels.


This is the track to geek-out about the history of radical art, as well as the track to create new work and share techniques, skills, and maybe a harrowing wheatpasting story or two. How have performances, paintings, pirate radio stations, fighting arts, dance, and sculptures incited, propelled, or supported critical dialogue, movement, or action historically or in your own practice? How do we hold and honor those artists and revolutionary movements who came before us without commodifying their images? What is the role of social media — its liberatory potential alongside its dangers?

Identities categorize, define, divide, inspire and unite us. In them, we seek refuge, rebellion, commonality, and history. We defy, defend, betray and blend the borders of our belonging. We often organize in their names and speak from their positions. But when do we own our identities, and when do they own us? In this track, we trace and interrogate the lineage of “people of color” organizing in the US. We seek to understand how we relate as the landscape constantly changes around us. Where and what is our firm place to stand on — being black, being immigrant, being mixed-race, being indigenous, being queer, being working class, being a POC? What does stability bring and then, what does instability offer? What strengths, what hazards, what possibilities exist?

Ours is a dystopic age: honeybees dying, elemental catastrophes and the rise of disaster capitalism, global climate distortions, cities emptying. We know we have to see this birth of a new world (dis)order through, hasten the collapse of old structures that keep us caged, and yet, we have to survive to do it.

This track asks us to consider the long haul: aging, capacity/ disability, parenting/ family, ownership. As we get older and still work to build this revolution, how do we fight burnout; mend and rejuvenate our bodies, minds and spirits; and build networks of support to do unpaid revolutionary work? As we build a new world in the old, let’s reflect on our failures, excesses, successes and lessons from utopian experiments like collectivization, land trusts, homeschooling, polyamory, back-to-the-land ventures, squatting, organizing the rich, and organizing the poor. You tell us, what else have you tried?

Langston Hughes said, “books had been happening to me.” This is the track where we ask each other what would Nalo Hopkinson, Samuel Delany, and Octavia Butler do? Where we hatch our escape plans, swap the survival skills that comic books imparted to us, and imagine what color spandex Neruda’s angels of bread would rock. Proposals submitted for this track might be more in the vein of nerdy chill sessions, writing alternate endings for our favorite sci-fi adventures, or they might be skillshares on queering mathematics and bending space-time (is that even a thing? let us know!). What kinds of things does your “imagination dare to dream when (pronoun) is sleeping”?


You must self-identify as wingnut to gather and hold space here. You know who you are. It’ll be fun. Secret handshake, tin foil hats… show up, make it realer than real.

Remember, for more information or to get in touch with the organizers:
& on facebook:

Sunday, June 03, 2012

On Mass Struggles in the Metropole: Thoughts Inspired by Quebec

because mass struggles include all kinds of folks

By Way of Introduction
In many neighbourhoods and cities and towns across Quebec, there is a new phenomenon of people going into the streets every night and banging pots and pans together to signal their opposition to the government’s new repressive legislation, Law 78. This is in the context of an upsurge of mass struggle and rapidly escalating tactics within a student strike that has been going on here for months. It is an unprecedented situation, and the struggle here seems to be transforming itself at what seems like breakneck speed.

On one of the first of these “pots and pans” nights, i went wandering around Cote-des-Neiges, a mixed class immigrant neighbourhood, my little pot and my little spoon in hand, both curious to see where (indeed, whether) i would find some noise, and hoping to maybe join in.

i was not surprised that all of the clanging seemed to be between Isabella and Queen Mary, i.e. where the area is at its most Quebecois, and its least working-class. At 8pm i saw people opening their doors and starting to bang. Wandering around looking for people actually on the street, i could find none. Regardless: as a tactic, especially as a new tactic, it was dramatic. You can hear someone clanging on a pot for blocks, so even though there was less than 1 person per block doing this, the effect in the area was that you could hear noises all around you. This was really effective.

As i wandered up Fulton, an older man was sitting on his stoop. He looked at me and motioned around in the air, asking if i could hear what was happening. i nodded. "Terrorism," he said in a thick European accent, "That's terrorism." Amused, and curious, i asked him if he was scared. He nodded. i asked what of, and he just repeated "They are terrorizing the city." After a brief disagreement, i left with him saying "God bless you", and then, under his breath but quite audibly, "you stupid terrorist." For what it's worth.

(Turns out i was lucky: speaking to a friend the next day, who recently moved to Cote-des-Neiges, he told me how he went out with his little pot and pan and ... got punched in the face! Luckily, the way he put it, the puncher was an old guy who couldn’t pack much force, so his main worry was that his assailant would have a heart attack. But still.)

To be clear, i believe how this is playing out in this neighbourhood - and i would guess in Montreal North, Park Ex, St-Michel, all heavily immigrant - is different than in most neighborhoods affected by the casseroles. In Quebecois working-class neighborhoods i have no trouble believing this is happening in a more organic and broad way. Similarly, in Quebecois mixed-class neighborhoods and even in neighborhoods with sizeable student populations i don't presume that participation will correlate to more middle-class streets. As such, however, this does underscore the national dimension to this surge, and hints at how this may relate to class.

"It's time to awaken; Quebecois, on your feet!"

The Labor Aristocracy
There is an argument, unpopular within the white left, that in North America and other settler societies, “the colonized peoples have been the proletariat, while the white working class has been a labor aristocracy.” [1]

While this view is by no means marginal or beyond the pale amongst people living in oppressed nations, within the white left it is extremely rare; it finds its primary expression in a current of tiny groups known as Maoist-Third-Worldist, and is most familiar to white activists thanks to J. Sakai’s book Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat (available online at There are variations on this position, mainly regarding the degree to which workers in oppressed internal colonies (the Black Nation/New Afrika, Aztlan, Puerto Rico, Indigenous Nations, etc.) are also labor aristocratic, with the “maximal” version of this argument holding that there is in fact no proletariat within the First World, period. [2]

While some might dismiss these as esoteric debates, occurring largely between internet activists with too much time on their hands, this would be deceptive. Within oppressed communities, in prisons, in immigrant neighbourhoods, and indeed throughout the Third World, these questions are accepted by many people as completely legitimate. Furthermore, while not necessarily expressed as such, the question of how class relates to nation is being addressed (albeit often in confused and confusing ways) every time someone asks “where was the color at [fill in the blank]”, during every discussion about whether some person was killed by police because they weren’t white or because they weren’t middle-class, every time people note how “white” a protest or group or campaign is. Or, conversely, whenever “identity politics” dovetails with middle-class politics, defying some people’s expectations.

This current surge in Quebec provides a nice field to discuss this, and different interpretations, conclusions, and political consequences of these positions. So i'm going to go somewhat out on a limb here and share some rough thoughts on what is happening, informed by my sympathy to the idea that the political behavior of the metropolitan (or First World) working class is determined by its position in the global division of labor, so that it will not act as if it "has nothing to lose but its chains", but that its dominant sections (both in terms of numbers of political influence) will adhere more closely to the forms of activity and politics normally associated with the petit bourgeoisie.

"It's a student strike; it's a popular struggle"

The Student Strike
The situation in Quebec is inspiring. Very inspiring, in fact. For those of you unfamiliar with what is happening here, it will be impossible for me to do it justice in just a few sentences, so i would suggest reading this Report on Quebec’s Student Strike. But in an inadequate nutshell: students have been on strike for over 100 days against a tuition hike – a preeminently reformist casus belli. Yet faced with at-first-routine police harassment and court orders against their pickets, the students fought back - literally - and police were sent running from angry mobs - repeatedly. The street tactics have been escalating steadily, and the State has been relying primarily on police violence and repression in the form of new legislation - Law 78 - outlawing many traditionally accepted forms of protest here (demonstrations without a permit, pickets in front of schools, strikes by education workers, wearing masks, etc.).

Rather than isolate the movement, government repression led to an explosion of public support, the most obvious current example being the aforementioned “pots and pans demonstrations” where people go out in their neighbourhoods banging their kitchenware together every night at 8pm. There are hundreds of these nightly protests, involving tens of thousands of people every night. These supplement larger nightly downtown demonstrations which have turned into riots several times over the past month. Neighbourhood assemblies have also been organized, potentially creating an opening for the struggle to extend to new fronts.

Adding to this promising situation, current plans are to disrupt the various summertime festivals on which Montreal’s tourism industry depends – starting with the Grand Prix, set for early June. Meanwhile, the police and the right-wing Liberal government continue to make all of the best of mistakes, and indeed a few days ago for the third time the government simply broke off negotiations with the student representatives.

It is the most enjoyable thing i have seen in decades, if ever.

white students in blackface,
pulling puppet which implies Charest is "really" english

The Oppressor Nation
The movement, however, is not only First World/metropolitan, it is overwhelmingly white, and while class politics play an important part in how things are framed, this is very much from a perspective that sees whitelife - in this case, Quebecois whitelife - as the norm. Putting aside the ubiquitous complaints about people being pushed out of the middle class, and the various racist incidents that will often occur when masses of white people congregate, this also plays itself out also in terms of how the government's counteroffensive is being framed. One person hit the nail on the head when they jokingly suggested as a slogan, "We're Already Racially Profiled in Small Groups, We Don't Need Law 78!"

Now, the clichéd stereotype about those of us who see the First World working class as largely compromised is that we would do nothing but shit on the student strike, that we would argue that revs should not be involved, period. Perhaps some folks might point to a certain reading of Settlers or a certain analysis of imperialism, arguing that this is mainly an uprising of white people in the metropole (i.e. the labor aristocracy), and as such that there is nothing to be gained by participating.

To be clear: i reject such a dismissive approach. It treats the privileged character of First World life as near-homogenous, with nobody experiencing privation or oppression outside of those actually producing the super-profits at the center of world capitalism. This flies in the face of lived experience, conflates the concepts of “working class” and “proletariat”, and reduces oppression (which is often determined by immediate context, and lived subjectively) to exploitation. Perhaps worst of all, it involves being closed to the possibility of the unexpected, as if we were guaranteed to have a theoretical grasp on any and all existing social contradictions.

There are divisions and differences in life-experience and suffering within the metropolitan working classes, privileged as many of them may be; if the dominant sections enjoy the profits and benefits of Canadian or Quebecois whitelife, with even many racialized sections enjoying First World privilege, there are numerous pockets whose situation is far more complicated. The problem is that to the degree that they identify with the oppressor nation, the political consciousness of these pockets remains tied to the labor aristocracy that holds sway over the class.

A dismissive approach grossly underestimates this question of consciousness, and the fact that even when we are literally fighting and challenging State power, we are still engaged in what Gramsci referred to as a "war of position", i.e. a war to open up cultural and political space. Or as some German comrades argued, as they grappled with this very question some forty years ago, “to write off entire sections of the population as an impediment to anti-imperialist struggle, simply because they don’t fit into Marx’s analysis of capitalism, is as insane and sectarian as it is un-Marxist.” [3]

My view, and my reading of Settlers, is quite different from this cliché, even though i do consider that the global division of labor determines both what is possible and what is probable in our various struggles. What needs to be grasped is that what is happening in Quebec is a breakthrough, but it’s not the rev. While we have every reason to be overjoyed, identifying its limits will be key, not only to our ability to overcome them, but also to our survival as conditions change.

no comment

The Dangers
Thanks to the numbers involved, and the political crisis this has engendered for the State, the student strike of 2012 will likely go down in history as the defining event for a generation of Quebecois youth, the moment when, as Fanon put it, they found their mission. This is a major upheaval, not business-as-usual in the metropole. If it breaks out of its immediate limits, it will alter the very terrain upon which we will be struggling for years to come. If it is neutralized, it will represent a defeat that may weigh against us just as heavily.

True to metropolitan form, at the mobilization’s more swollen moments, radical sections become easy to miss in what becomes a humungous cross-class mass. Even while the pots-and-pans demonstrations represent a creative and promising turn, take note that the Liberal Finance Minister has also applauded the way in which this fits with the image of Montreal that he wants to project, and how they decrease the scope for property attacks during the big nightly marches. In fact, in some areas this "peaceful" mobilization has been spearheaded by the same forces that previously opposed the strike. Similarly, at the biggest demos (hundreds of thousands of people in the streets), some of the slogans may be proletarian but the foot-troops, and the money behind the buses, are middle-class or else labor-aristocratic.

In terms of neutralization, as already mentioned, the government has passed legislation (Law 78) which criminalizes various protest activities, with potential fines for organizations running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. On the municipal level, Montreal has changed its bylaws so that wearing a mask at demonstrations or participating in an “illegal assembly” will make one liable to heavy fines (up to $3000 for repeat offenders). Federally, the Conservative government is passing legislation to make wearing masks at demonstrations illegal, with maximum prison sentences of 5 or 10 years, depending on the circumstances.

While many protesters see this as unprecedented, and words like “dictatorship”, “police state”, and “fascism” are being bandied about, none of this surpasses the level of repression that has been directed against certain individuals and groups (most notably certain Muslim and foreign-based organizations) over the past years, the difference being one of scale not intensity. More important still, this does not come close to the level of repression that can be enacted by a State while still retaining its bourgeois democratic form, as the European experience in the 1970s and 80s bears out. Finally, we must bear in mind that non-State repression – i.e. the mobilization of “law abiding citizens” and far right forces to attack the students and the left – has so far remained relatively (though not completely) undeveloped.

People freaking out about repression does not necessarily serve us well, and may in fact prevent us/them from grasping the full scope of what can occur.

At the same time, for revolutionaries, repression will only ever be one part of how we get neutralized; isolation and demobilization through a process of integrating the bulk of protesters will be at least as important to the government’s strategy. The traditional means of doing this in metropolitan states is through social democracy, often tinged with nationalism. Indeed, in the context of Quebec, the only province where Canada’s francophone minority forms a clear majority, nationalism is likely to be more than just a “tinge”.

As such, one likely outcome is that the State channels this surge into a social-democratic project with a Quebecois nationalist dimension. Quebec Solidaire is clearly positioned to try and take advantage of this, though its small size and meager infrastructure will mean that this will be an uphill battle for it. (The New Democratic Party, Canada’s main social democratic political party, seems to have been fucked by the same national contradiction that prevented it from winning a foothold in Quebec prior to 2011: even though it is now the main federal party here it is unable to act like a social democratic party should for fear of now undercutting its potential for growth in english canada.) And of course, the PQ is feinting to the left, pretending to support the students, as there’s nothing to gain by any other position at the moment.

Any viable social democratic consolidation, regardless of the parliamentary form it takes, or even whether it manages to form a government, will sow confusion about Quebec’s actual status in the world (as an imperialist nation-without-a-state) and the actual nature of class and national oppression within Quebec. It will reduce any proletarian class consciousness and combativity. It might even unleash energies that will be instrumentalized against the most radical or the most oppressed, either within this society, or else oppressed Indigenous nations which survive within Quebec’s claimed territory. At the very least, these risk being marginalized as footnotes to the main drama at hand. All bad things, to be sure.

the current priority is to break through all patriarchal-colonialist-capitalist limitations

While recognizing these as serious limitations on the current arc of struggle, in no way do i mean to suggest that revs should sit this one out. Rather, we who live in this oppressor-nation should be involved, albeit without illusions. This does NOT mean being involved with hesitation - tactically, we should be in with both feet, no holds barred - but it does mean that we should be careful about how we think and talk about what is going on, and wary of what strategic alliances or perspectives we get integrated into. It also means that as we adapt to the new conditions we should make sure to not abandon areas of work where we have already developed a base.

While we should be all-in tactically, strategically we should keep our eye on the limited prize of winning as big a minority as possible for our politics, which go far beyond a tuition freeze or even free education for all. We should not be disappointed or feel betrayed when the movement reveals its social democratic complexion, any more than we should when the social democrats turn on us – and we should be preparing our allies (our real ones), so that they don’t feel disappointed or betrayed either.

Our aims and our methods should therefore be minoritiarian, in preparation for a reversal-of-fortune down the line. Doing so will help our comrades, as well as those new folks we are reaching out to, to experience this reversal-of-fortune as something unfortunate but to be expected, rather than as a defeat. It will also help prepare people to navigate the forms of long-term repression that are to come, i.e. not mass arrests, but political ostracism; not having an organization banned, but having it funded and promoted with a leadership inching to the right while verbally posturing to the left; or else targeted attacks on tiny groups of "troublemakers" or “terrorists” who will be easy to spot by their not cheering whatever the new "consensus" status quo will be.

In this regard, a not improbable worst-case-scenario would involve Law 78 staying on the books after the mass mobilization subsides, at which point police will not hold back from enforcing it each and every time we take to the streets.

This minoritarian approach is complicated by the fact that we may not be at the tail end of the surge, we may only be at the beginning. Things are likely to get a lot better before they get worse. This may end this summer, or this may simply be the beginning of the first year. (Obviously there is always the hope that global changes or political breakthroughs will occur that will permit this surge to break out of the limited model i am placing it in – comrades have pointed out that world capitalism is already in a crisis, and therefore has less room to maneuver than it did in the sixties – though to those who think that spells “rev”, i would suggest they read up on 77 as well as 68, taking special note of Italy and France.)

The surest way to fuck up in terms of winning more people to our positions would be to act as if this were not a breakthrough, or to act as if things were calming down when really they are heating up. So the (subjective) challenge is in maintaining a cheery disposition but reminding oneself of a long-term gloomy forecast, keeping an umbrella in your backpack despite the sunshine outside. Or to be more prosaic and precise: to fight to break out of this cycle (of metropolitan militancy being re-integrated by patriarchal colonialist capitalism) will leave us in a better position even if we do not succeed.

But we have to fight like we mean it – as hard as we can.

Rearguard Objectives and Avenues of Advance
At the same time, we should work to encourage elements in the mass struggle which highlight deeper problems, which will break people off from their patriarchal-capitalist-colonialist nations. Or, barring that, which will serve as obstacles to reactionary tendencies within their (our) communities. Rather than abandon the terrain and capacities we have developed prior to this upsurge, this is where we can build on them, making connections that will both aid the more radical and oppressed sections of the present mobilization, while also establishing some political barricades against our opponents. (That this is already being done, in at times brilliant form, can be seen from before March 15 to after May 1, with examples ranging from CLASSE reps’ statements about Indigenous sovereignty to the upcoming trans night-time demo…)

In his book The Defeat of Solidarity,[4] author David Ost describes the rightward turn of labor in Poland in the 1990s, making the point that anger at neoliberalism was unavoidable, but that because the left and liberals opted not to organize it, it took on a right-wing, racist, and sexist complexion: “In the end, workers turned to the right because only the right appealed to them as workers, because no one else offered a clear narrative validating the class experiences they were having.”  This is similar to Sakai’s observation that to many leftists, “the white workers as a whole are either the revolutionary answer - which they aren't unless your cause is snowmobiles and lawn tractors - or they're like ignorant scum you wouldn't waste your time on. Small wonder rebellious poor whites almost always seek out the Right rather than the left.” [5]

With this worst-case-scenario in mind, we should never shy away from reaching out to people, hoping to win them over or at least create some space in which they can think outside of the patriarchal-capitalist-colonialist box. This is one way we can work to prevent the social energies that have been unleashed from being captured by the far right. We all have contradictions and doubts, and if we can sow doubts or hesitations in the minds of tens or even hundreds of thousands of people about the worst aspects of capitalism or national oppression or patriarchy, this might make it more difficult for our opponents to recruit them. It might also make it possible for us to win a few of them over to our side in the battles to come, even if they currently remain beyond our reach. As such, although at present we may only win a tiny minority over to clearly anti-capitalist, anti-colonial, and anti-patriarchal positions, that doesn't mean we cannot influence much greater numbers in some more partial and long-term way.

In practical terms, there are a number of ways to do this, the most obvious being to properly contexualize repression: remembering and talking about the dozens of people killed by police in Montreal over the past decades when we discuss police violence at the ongoing protests, and placing the sexual harassment women are facing at the hands of police during these protests in the context of gendered violence being carried out by police – and other men – every day. In both these examples, our ultimate aim should be to frame these interventions in the context of opposing reactionary tendencies within the current mobilization itself, i.e. the fact that women and racialized people have been dealing with sexist and racist shit from both the State and also at times within the student-movement throughout the strike.

Theorizing and acting around this are two obvious ways of making connections, of extending the offensive both within the mobilization and in new ways outside of it. This is the liberatory potential that exists within the dialectic of oppression and revolt.

Of course, other possibilities abound: resisting the ongoing deportations, most glaringly perhaps the case of Dany Villanueva; solidarity with resistance elsewhere, for instance the ongoing prison hunger strikes and rebellions in the u.s., which can be related to prison-expansion plans here; protests and attacks around the anti-abortion bill that is about to be voted on federally in parliament; support for Indigenous resistance everywhere, including of course in regards to Plan Nord; what people do the next time tragedy strikes and police kill someone in this city (you have a plan, right?); mobilization around the new Employment Insurance changes … the list goes on and on …

One nice example of something comrades have been doing: there have been noise demonstrations held outside of area prisons where people arrested in the context of the current movement have been held, making connections between targeted political repression and the broader prison system, and building on previous more limited initiatives of this sort over the past years. This kind of action makes all the right things easier to see.

In the current situation, where militant tactics have provided so much of the fuel that has fired this surge forward, any disruptive resistance to any of these attacks will be seen as relating to the broader upheaval. Though this may not last long, for the moment the tactics themselves have become the symbol of the general politics at play. While tactics must always be tailored to what one’s base will support, with a minoritarian strategy it is important to remember that the base in question is not the general public at large or even your average protester. (By the same token, with a strategy of sowing doubts amongst our opponents in the long-term, actions that negate our politics will of course lead to defeats.)

The trick remains to engage in these more specific, sharper, conflicts in a way that does not instrumentalize them to buttress the “broader” mobilization, but which rather uses them to splinter people off or at least tug on people from the cross-class mass now in the streets.

map showing where the "pots and pans" protests were occurring as of May 25

Solidarity from the Oppressed?
As to our comrades who are not from this oppressor-nation and who do not focus their political activity within it, this article is not directed at them, as their decision on how or even whether to relate to this mobilization will have to be made with different criteria in mind. Group autonomy and self-determination do not mean that members of oppressed communities and nations should not join in this mobilization, they simply mean that this decision should be made without illusions, and with specific goals and factors in mind. Goals and factors different from what needs to be considered by those of us within the oppressor-nation.

Calls to “find the color” in any oppressor-nation mobilization, or to make everything “inclusive”, come from multiple, even hostile, class and political stands. Sometimes the oppressed are better off not lending their energies to mobilizations that do not serve their interests. We need to get used to the idea that if people from oppressed communities are not joining in some allegedly “broad” mobilization, maybe that’s because they have better things to do. Not necessarily a problem to be solved. Simply a choice that has to be made by people in (and not merely from) those communities, and it goes without saying that it needs to be made autonomously, not as the result of some call or demand or request from the settler left.

In terms of internationalism, the worst thing that the settler radical left can do is provide an excessively rosy picture of what the situation is. The second worst thing would be to provide an excessively gloomy one.

At the same time, when comrades criticize racist and sexist behavior and chauvinism, remedying this should be a priority. Not so that we can do a better job at recruiting more “color” to our events or because we are embarrassed by a lack of “diversity” or to hush up news that might damage our image - all reactions that have more to do with neocolonialism than antiracism. The main reason should not be to seduce allies (who might not benefit from such an alliance, after all), but simply because these forms of oppression are inimical to our politics and our principles, period. To the degree that this is a strategic priority, it is because racism, sexism, and national chauvinism are three of the strongest chains tying people to the labor aristocratic and middle-class elements that will try to drag this movement into the social democratic camp, and thereby instrumentalize it against the most oppressed. This is the ominous alternative to the aforementioned ways to extend the struggle; we can refer to it as the reactionary potential that exists within the dialectic of oppression and revolt.

In the here and now, the worst example of this kind of approach is summed up in the slogan "students and immigrants, same struggle" - a banner i saw at the monster demo on May 22. The conflation of interests implied by such "unite and fight" catchphrases is simply dishonest, and this despite the fact that the folks who say such things often mean well, and may even be comrades. These slogans cover up what we should be trying to expose. Indeed, the political content of such slogans is just as racist as the white students who wore blackface to a protest a few weeks back – if you think about it, they’re actually saying the same thing.

"After 2012, the chasm has become an abyss"

By Way of Conclusion
To get back to my little life in my little neighbourhood: a few of us got together last week, and by the end of the evening we were at times as many as fifteen walking through the streets, getting lots of smiles and occasionally having people lean out from their windows to chime in with their own kitchenware. Not everyone knew why we were banging pots and pans. Some people did not even know what we were talking about when we said “the student strike.” Personally, i hope if this continues in our neighbourhood, perhaps the focus can be something local folks can relate to more - i.e. against racism and/or against the police…

But i digress: it was a nice night - the most important thing is to be there, in the streets, alongside people - and better to try and fail than not to try at all.

For that reason, as well as all of the others outlined above, i don’t take the position that we should boycott these surges. Nor do i agree with the superficial antiracist approach that we should join them in order to add issues to some laundry list. However, i also reject the view that we should have a unitary response to them, or that we should blur the lines between the specific and the universal. Such an approach generally leads to privileged elements gaining political hegemony and leaves the radical – and, where they exist, proletarian – elements at their mercy.

for what it's worth...

[1] As stated by J. Sakai in When Race Burns Class: Settlers Revisited.

[2] While the question of Quebec’s status is an interesting and important one, for the purposes of this discussion it is unambiguously NOT an internal colony, as regardless of its irregular State form, it is fully integrated into the First World/metropolitan core.

[3] Red Army Faction, “The Black September Action in Munich:Regarding the Strategy for Anti-Imperialist Struggle”

[4] David Ost The Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe (Cornell University Press, 2005), 96-7.

[5] J. Sakai When Race Burns Class: Settlers Revisited.