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Girl Gangs, Biker Boys and Real Cool Cats in #VansBookClub

By Wenceslao Bruclaga

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scott crow On The Media In An Age Of Antifascist Conflict

by Kit O'Connell
kitoconnell.com
December 31st, 2017

My followers on Patreon got a sneak preview of this interview in audio form. While supplies last, new Gonzo Insiders get a copy of scott crow’s “Emergency Hearts, Molotov Dreams” and some other fun goodies. Just donate $10 or more to be eligible.

“Alex fucking Jones. He’s a piece of shit. Quote me on that,” scott crow told me.

scott crow photographed at dusk as Austin’s famous bats fill the sky. (Flickr / Ann Harkness, CC license)

I sat down with the anarchist organizer and author last month at my house in Austin when he delivered some copies of his book, “Emergency Hearts, Molotov Dreams: a scott crow reader” to use in my Gonzo Giveaway.

While our paths cross frequently in the Austin activist community, I don’t get a chance to formally interview him often. “Emergency Hearts” features another, a three-part interview I originally published when I edited for Firedoglake (now known as Shadowproof).

2017 was a historic year in so many ways, many of them disturbing ones, and I wanted his perspective on what often seems like the collapse of democracy as we’ve known it. As crow put it,

What a weird time in America, where we’re much more liberal on one side, but we’re also much more conservative on the other. I think that having the tiny-headed orange one in the White House has been more disruptive than any other president I’ve seen in my life.

One of the most alarming features of the current moment is the role of media: the collapse of traditional investigative journalism, attempts by tech giants to silence the left-leaning independent media, and the rise of far-right propaganda that successfully masquerades as news.

This part of the interview focuses on scott crow‘s thoughts on the media and fascist propaganda, but I’ll share more in future installments early next year, including a look at the present and future of antifascism.

“Critical thinking is already difficult in America because it’s not taught to anyone, and then over the last 20 or 30 years we’ve been inundated with the 24-hour news cycle,” crow told me.

That cycle sped up over the past few years under the influence of social media, then accelerated still further in the Trump era, as any exhausted journalist can tell you. To make it all worse, the left struggles to combat the growing influence of fascist trash like Infowars (whose founder, Jones, crow referenced in this article’s opener), and Infowars’ even weirder cousins where the worst of the worst memes like Pizzagate and QAnon fester and spread.

crow collaborates with Agency, an anarchist public relations collective, where one of his duties is to track the rise of fascist media online.

“I really started to pay attention to this in the fall, just before Charlottesville,” he recalled. “Actually it was super terrifying to watch.”

In particular, we were both horrified by the rapid spread of conspiracy theories around November 4, a day of action called by the Revolutionary Communist Party (a small but often disruptive communist splinter group), which the far right transformed into an incipient civil war. YouTube flooded with dozens of near identical videos, each one stoking fear and panic about what the fascist right wing imagined might happen on that day.

YouTube flooded with videos earlier this year designed to stoke fear, panic, and violence from the far right on November 4, 2017. (YouTube screenshot)

The claims about November 4 quickly spread from YouTube, reddit, and other more obscure places:

Alex fucking piece of shit Jones just began to say really ludicrous and outlandish things. He was saying that antifa, antifascist people were going to kill people on November 4, they were going to behead people, they were going to have super soldiers with super serum. This sounds like comic book stuff but then it gets picked up by more quote unquote “mainstream” right wing news and then it makes its way to Fox News.

“I was very worried,” crow recalled.

Luckily it didn’t materialize into massive numbers of fascists showing up in the streets, “but the fact that they got that kind of traction in all of these alternative media places is something that we need to pay attention to.”

The darkest places on the internet have become a breeding ground for these kinds of virulent misinformation. “The fact that this news can spread — it’s not even news — this fake information, these conspiracies can really spread in these places that we’re not even looking at is something that progressive people or people with radical ideas need to look at and address.”

Making the media landscape all the more challenging, the far right’s propaganda outlets are funded by shadowy think tanks and rich benefactors like the Mercers, while the independent media on the left fights over crowdfunding scraps.

“How do you combat that if you have anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist people who are trying to repel money to a degree?” crow asked.

He didn’t have clear answers, but suggested it’s up to anarchists and other radicals to develop a more nuanced take to the issue than the corporate media and tech giants, which are coming down indiscriminately against independent media in their quest to stamp out “fake news.”

“We have to recognize that this is potentially very dangerous,” crow said.

Just as antifascists believe fascists must to be stopped in the streets by any means necessary, he suggested direct action will be required to shut down fascist propaganda outlets like Infowars as well.

“We need to pay attention to these people; there needs to be a high cost for the hate speech they’re engaging in.”

Check out scott crow’s latest book, “Setting Sights: Histories and Reflections on Community Armed Self Defense,” now available from PM Press.  

 

scott crow On The Media In An Age Of Antifascist Conflict by Kit O’Connell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://kitoconnell.com/2017/12/31/scott-crow-on-the-media/.

This post was made possible by Kit’s patrons, including a generous anonymous sponsor who asks that you support Austin Pets Alive! with your time and money.

If you enjoyed this post, please support Kit on Patreon!

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Beautiful Trash

By Jedidiah Ayres
Hardboiled Wonderland
Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Just picked up my own copy of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats, the latest lingering, loving look at 'the pulps,' edited by Ian McIntyre and Andrew Nette. I love this kind of thing - in depth looks at the lurid, mass-market yet still underground, arts of yesteryear, presented as scholarly social study, but in place of a dry monotone it's clearly a labor of love and an endeavor of enthusiasm.

Because... all the thoughtfulness is appreciated and engaging, but the real value of these type of books is in collecting all the great artwork (poster art - cover art) in one place. If you don't have your own library of pulp novels or VHS/16mm grindhouse movies, you can still lose yourself in the garish garbage of the artwork and re-live your first awakening and attraction to working out anxieties via engaging narrative.

For me these books recall my favorite part of weekly trips to the grocery store with my mom - I'd get a nickel and walk by the newsstand taking in the western, fantasy, romance, crime and science fiction paperbacks with my tiny peepers on the way to the gumball machine, or visits to out of town cousins discovering the closet full of Robert E. Howard books, or countless hours spent wandering the aisles of video stores imagining the stories the pictures represented (because I was not going to be allowed to watch them).

And that's... an important thing to note.

Often the jacket art is more important in the long run than the books/films themselves. It's the cover design that sells us, grabs our attention and infects us with an itch, or rather enflames the itch we didn't know was already within... Regardless of how satisfying said book or film actually turned out to be, the awakening, the realization that we have an appetite is what inspires us to become active agents in our own evolution.

If we have a hunger... there must be a satisfaction out there somewhere.

If you visit my home you'll be able to browse my physical media - books, films, albums - but these types of books - these collections of artworks are among the most valuable objects I own.

A few favorites from my shelves...

The Art of Noir by Eddie Muller

Cult Magazines A to Z by Earl Kemp, Luis Ortiz

Dames, Dolls and Delinquents by Gary Lovisi


Dope Menace by Stephen J. Gertz


Film Posters: Exploitation by Tony Nourmand, Graham Marsh

Men's Adventure Magazines by Max Allan Collins, George Hagenauer


Pulp Art by Robert Lesser

Science Fiction of the 20th Century by Frank M. Robinson, Ann G. Bennett


Teenage Confidential by Michael Barson, Steven Heller


Trash by Jacques Boyreau


Furthering the argument that the advertising's importance often trumps the actual product's check out Stephen Romano's Shock Festival - a collection of poster art, lobby cards and memorabilia for non-existent horror films. Beautiful.

Scott Adlerberg has a nice piece on Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats at Lithub and if you're inclined to digitally ingest pulp art you'd do well to follow Christa Faust's or Will Viharo's social media platforms.

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Iain McIntyre's Author Page | Back to Andrew Nette's Author Page




The Power of Pulp Fiction: Girl Gangs, Biker Boys and More On the Counterculture Politics of Trashy 1950s Novels


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Barred for Life on #VansBookClub

 

Wenceslas Bruciaga
#VansBookClub
Originally posted in Spanish
September 11th, 2017


Q: Henry, your tattoos are famous around here.
I've seen a number of people with Black Flag tattoos ... What if like a fifteen-year-old girl got (The Bars) tattooed on forehead? How would you feel about that?

 

A: Cool. Give her a knife, giver her some acid, point her westawrd and say "Kill, kill !!!"

In the firmament of the punk, very probably only a design has managed to surpass the delivery and devotion of the famous A of anarchy inside a circle with satanic stroke, to such a degree to become one of the most popular tattoos: the four vertical bars and black, dazed and untidy, logo logo of the parents of hardcore punk in its most salty and painful version, Black Flag.

 

Yes, again, Black Flag. Because it is the band that most embodies what punk should always be. Because his ideology is more than music and moshpit.

And because yes and simply: we love it.

A logo that was born almost at the same time that the band changed its name from Panic to Black Flag:

"... (Greg) Ginn asked his little brother, a certain Raymond Pettibon, to make the cover, a disturbing ink illustration of a teacher driving away a student with a chair, as if he were a lion tamer. A few months before, they had discovered that another group was also called Panic. Pettibon suggested Black Flag and designed a logo for the band, a stylized waving flag composed of four vertical black rectangles. If a white flag means surrender, it was evident that it meant a black flag; the black flag is also the recognized symbol of anarchy, not to mention the traditional emblem of pirates; He also reminisced a little about his heroes, Black Sabbath. Logically, the fact that Black Flag was also a popular insecticide did not hurt either, " says Michael Azerrad in his book Our band could be your life .

As Black Flag became a living legend, and unlike many of the bands that shaped the punk, they led the radicality of their ideology to the limits of self-terrorism and incomprehension almost inadmissible, absurd, as when they let their hair grow to the hippie or metalhead just to annoy the skinheads and racist faces that began to attend their plays, the famous bars of Black Flag were transformed from a simple graphic record to an effigy that represents a turning point in the private ideologies of many people who see in Black Flag a hotbed of honesty and their own thoughts, an angry clap on the back that encourages them not to be afraid of dissidence, defects, contradictions, whatever the cost.

"When you see that someone has the same Black Flag bars as you, you know you're not alone in this world, despite the differences" Brian Sokel, pornographer.

The mentioned originality is an overvalued longing. A few are tattooed the singo of infinity, a diamond, a Virgin of Guadalupe or a SpongeBob. Then, hundreds follow that route: the camouflage becomes condemnation. They have taught us that when certain tastes, things or fetishes become popular, their aesthetic and ideological surplus value simply points to a devaluation, to a mortal devaluation, it becomes rabble and the rabble takes away any spark of feeling exclusive. Exclusivity is the thirst for insecurity more clumsy according to any sucker.

"Having the Black Flag bars puts me in a tribe of people with a passion for music and a passion for non-conformity " Dan K, installer of solar panels.

How would you take a book with pictures of people with a Demon of Tazmania tattooed in some corner of their extremities? Would it generate empathy or feel like a fraud, like when you see someone put on the same thing as you at a concert or a party?

"If I see someone in the street, a complete stranger, but with the four bars of Black Flag, the same ones that I have, the most likely is that I approach to talk to you" Danielle Lafore, social worker and waitress.

The more black bars are tattooed Black Flag, its meaning is strengthened and its ideological value and why not sentimental, it shoots to religious levels.

Why do people with the Black Flag tattoo increase without fear of getting lost in the rabble?

"Apart from being a Black Flag badge, I think these bars are a symbol of the idea that I try to live, go my own way and do what I want" Kevin Stewart, bicycle messenger.

 

A possible answer is found in the pages of Barred for life , a book of photographs of light heavyweight category that only captures tattoos of Black Flag bars as a starting point for hundreds of variables. It emerged as a joke, when its author, Stewart Dean Ebersole, a geologist, builder, designer and photographer, tattooed Black Flag bars in the vicinity of his ankle in a suburban studio in Columbus, Ohio. One of his friends said something like: "One more bastard who is tattooed Black Flag bars." It was true, as it was true that he never stopped to think that he would not be the first or the last to tattoo the Black Flag bars and that it did not matter to join the crowd that marks those four bars painfully and forever.

Barred for life is not only the photographic record of hundreds of people proudly showing off their Black Flag tattoo: "All the ideas and texts, except the long interviews and the photographic captures, are my interpretation of the myth about that band called Black Flag and that thing called punk rock, which conspired completely to change the way I understood the world, Black Flag changed the world enormously of many people, but at that point, I can not write a whole essay without starting from my own story and personal experiences "says Ebersole in the prologue.

Experience that becomes a lengthy essay on the impact of Black Flag through its discography, its iconic advertising, tours, attitude and accompanying the photographic catalog of people who proudly show off their bar tattoo.

The photographs, taken by Ebersole and the crowd that gave him a cheek in that Ohio studio (Jared Castaldi, Matt Smith and Todd Barmann) are cataloged by Name, Home of residence (which in turn trace a route that starts in NY passing through Canada and the center of the United States in the direction of the West Coast and ends in California with special stops in England, France and Italy), Occupation, favorite Singer and Favorite Song of Black Flag and a phrase that explains the reason why Those four bars were tattooed:

"The bars may look like a simple logo, but they also represent the idea that all you need to record a record and go on tour is the desire to do it" Steve Curtis, Musician.

 

In addition to the photographs, the book starts each chapter with extensive interviews with Dez Cadena, Glen E. Friedman, Ron Reyes, Keith Morris, Rick Spellman, Chuck Dukowski, Kira Roessler and Edward Colver. Henry Rollins is conspicuous by his absence.

 

This visual jewel combines the editorial design of the art books with the spirit of the fanzine in proud black and white and can be obtained for US $ 25 directly in the publishing house that was published by PM Press.

 

PS: Many of the participants, as well as proud Black Flag tattoo bearers, are proud carriers of Vans.

 

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Stewart Dean Ebersole's Author Page




"(Black and White) is a book that should be in every home, school, community center and library."

By Karen Lee Wald
Cuba Inside Out
November 2017

A Review of BLACK AND WHITE --photos by Howard Epstein from the archives of Liberation News Service 1968-1974


The photos in this book are stunning, both for their quality and content. But as important as that is, there's more: the book tells a story of the times, of the people and institutions of those times. It reminds us of Liberation News Service, a collective of people in New York and writers (including myself) and photographers scattered around the country, committed to telling the world about the movement for peace and social justice. And not just individuals, but collectives who put out newspapers -- daily, weekly, monthly-- all around the country too. As Ken Light, a member of the LNS collective in NY comments in his foreword to the book, "If you weren't around in the '60s, you probably never heard of The Great Speckled Bird, The Old Mole, The Chicago Seed, The L.A. Free Press, The Berkeley Barb, The Guardian, The Austin Rag, Akwesasne Notes, Off Our Backs, Space City, and the Black Panther News, or maybe not even Liberation News Service".

And he's right, but that's not by accident. In a time before email and internet, mimeographed or printed packets of articles and photos were mailed out to these and other media in what was known as "the underground press". And the reason those who came later may not have heard of them (much less seen them) is that there was an organized (and sadly effective) effort on the part of the US government to wipe out what it saw as a very real threat to its control over what people read, knew and did in those turbulent times. It was, if I may, the COINTELPRO of the media. And just as surely as the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program decimated and eventually completely wiped out many of its targets of the Black, Brown and Native American Left, the program also succeeded, through many devious means, in wiping out most of the alternative press in this country. Until the internet, that is........


So it is more than just the very moving and revealing images in the black and white photos of this book that makes it important: it's a history lesson, both of the determined movements to oppose war and racism and so many other evils of an oppressive capitalist and imperialist system, and of the people who worked tirelessly to let the world know about them.

Having said that, the pictures themselves do tell a story --or many stories. The most obvious is that the violence (both threatened and real) is apparent when you see the heavily armed and aggressive stance of the repressive forces (police or military) arrayed against demonstrators who are asking for peace. And the photos don't leave you wondering whether their menacing stance was acted upon: you see in the photos that it was, as demonstrators are beaten bloody right in front of the camera.


Howard Epstein (or Howie as we always knew him then) gets up close and in their faces -- so that we see the facial expressions of both the demonstrators and the police/soldiers - expressions that each tell their own stories.  I found myself wondering how he got SO close -- and also, when looking at a photo of a policeman aiming his club menacingly at a photographer, I realized how really dangerous it was to be in that place, taking those pictures.....

While the pictures are all from the 60s and 70s, they do more than just remind us of a history which hopefully will be passed on to our grandchildren and future generations, although that in itself is important as our history is constantly being rewritten by those who control the media. They are also a reflection of what is going on today, sometimes over new issues and, more scarily, sometimes still over the same ones.

It's a book that should be in every home, school, community center and library.


Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Howard Epstein's Page | Back to Grendl Löfkvist's Page




New York's Black Panthers, a Legacy

By Ron Jacobs
CounterPunch
November 13th, 2017

Photo by joey zanotti | CC BY 2.0

The indictment and trial of the New York “Panther 21” was an attempt by several elements of the US police state apparatus to destroy the Black Panther Party.  Despite the fact that none of the charges stuck, one could argue that the attempt was successful.  By the time the trials were over, there was no Black Panther chapter in New York City and the national organization was in a downward spiral.  Of course, the New York 21 trial was only one aspect of the attack on the Party; others included police murders of party members, numerous other trials on fabricated charges, police infiltration of the party, and other forms of activity too numerous to recall.  All of this law enforcement action was part of the national operation coordinated by the FBI known as COINTELPRO.  The original indictments were handed down on April 2, 1969.  Police raids took place across Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Most of those on the indictments were arrested that day and the next.  Some members were able to disappear underground.  The trial ended on May 12, 1971.  All of those charged were acquitted on all 156 charges.  The jury only took a few hours to reject the prosecution’s charges.

A collective biography of the defendants in the case titled Look for Me in the Whirlwind was published in 1971.  Borrowing its title from a speech by the Pan-African nationalist Marcus Garvey, it was available for a short time during that period.  I recall seeing it for the first time in a bookstore in downtown Frankfurt am Main.  A friend who was recently discharged from the Army and in the Panthers lent me his copy so we could discuss it in the “study” sessions we had in a city park.  Read together with Huey Newton’s Revolutonary Suicide and Bobby Seale’s Seize the Time, the text rounded out a reading list that took books like Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land and Richard Wright’s Native Son and moved them into a hyperpolitical space.

Recently, PM Press took the original text of Look for Me in the Whirlwind and added some more recent articles, poems and reflections written by a few of the original defendants and their supporters.  Titled Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st-Century Revolutions, this book is both an essential piece of history and a call to reinvigorate the movement for Black liberation and free those still imprisoned as part of the COINTELPRO operation four decades ago.  Perhaps the most striking (and distressing) aspect of the additions to the original text is the fact that the struggles of the late 1960s and early 1970s are so similar to the struggles of today.  Then again, given the history of the United States, maybe it isn’t so striking after all.

Essentially an oral history, the original text tells the story of a group of Black women and men in the United States and their struggle for freedom and justice for themselves and their people. As the stories progress, the reader is presented with police brutality, urban poverty, the life of struggle and the hustler’s life.  More importantly, though, is the stream of an expanding political consciousness experienced by all the Panthers involved.  This tale is testimony to the times, the work of the Black Panther Party and other revolutionaries and the audacious determination of the individuals to free themselves from their ecnomic and political oppression.

While I was reading this edition of Look For Me in the Whirlwind, a friend and I had a discussion about Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and the question that some historians consider to be what placed them at odds.  This question revolved around whether the Constitution was a slaver document and therefore needed to be replaced, since the end of slavery was not possible as long as the Constitution was written the way it was.  In a rather synchronistic manner, Look For Me in the Whirlwind ends with a letter to the judge who presided over the trial of the 21 deatiling how the Constitution was not just a document that upheld slavery but that is designed to uphold the racist reality of the United States.

Graced with a cover that features the artwork of Black Panther artist Emory Douglas and a design by the modern day graphic artist Josh McPhee, this book is nicely edited by political activists déqui kioni-sadiki and Matt Meyer.  It includes writings by several Panther members and is by its very existence a reminder of the Black Panther Party’s continued relevance in a world where white supremacists still control much more than just the conversation.  It is also a call to work for the freedom of those Panthers and allied political prisoners still in prison.  Look for Me in the Whirlwind reminds the reader that in a racist nation, political action fighting that racism is often criminalized. Reading this book is one of the better written efforts in pointing out that it’s the system of white supremacy that is criminal, not the people fighting it.

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Sekou Odinga's Page | Back to Dhoruba Bin Wahad's Page | Back to Jamal Joseph's Page | Back to Matt Meyer's Page | Back to déqui kioni-sadiki's Page




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Against Doom: A Review in Friends Journal

by Steve Chase
Friends Journal
November 1st, 2017

...Another book that offers a positive and smart take on the challenges we face is Jeremy Brecher’s Against Doom: A Climate Insurgency Manual. It also argues that we can work with our neighbors and engage in effective and strategic action—in this case, to limit catastrophic climate change and transition to a just and climate-safe world.

Brecher starts his very first chapter, “This Is What Insurgency Looks Like,” by describing a church-based planning meeting for a nonviolent civil resistance action by residents and supporters of a predominantly low-income, African American neighborhood in Albany, N.Y. As Brecher writes, “They were organizing a protest against trains carrying potentially explosive oil—dubbed by the residents ‘bomb trains’—that were running through their neighborhood.” This action was part of 350.org’s May 2016 “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” civil disobedience campaign that involved hundreds of thousands of people on six continents nonviolently interfering with key elements of the fossil fuels industry in their communities in the space of one week.

The Albany action was not an ultra-leftist affair using a “diversity of tactics,” which is just a term used by self-righteous “radicals” to market feel-good but unstrategic violence. Instead, the action was populist, well-organized, and very disciplined. As Brecher notes, “Participants agreed ‘not to harm people or property;’ to be ‘dignified in dress, demeanor, and language;’ to attend action training; and to act ‘in accordance with the group’s agreed plan for action.’” Their particular action included 1,500 people marching to the train tracks for a spirited celebration of their democratic right to protect their community from harm. Then 500 of them put their bodies on the line to “illegally” blockade the train tracks so no “bomb trains” would pass through their community—or the communities of others.

I put “illegally” in quotes because the participants did not see themselves as criminals. They saw themselves as the people in their community who were willing to defend the law. As Brecher reports, many climate insurgents “have begun to define themselves—to the movement, the public, and the courts—not as criminals, but as law enforcers trying to protect legal rights and halt governments and corporations from committing the greatest crime in human history.”

This is an important reframing because one of the main barriers keeping many “climate worriers” from becoming bold and creative “climate warriors” is their deep-seated self-images as respectable, law abiding citizens who do not engage in improper behavior. If you are like me, you have probably heard many Quakers say, “I could never take part in civil disobedience or risk arrest.” You may have even said it yourself.

Yet what if this version of being “law abiding” is just an unfaithful, inaccurate, and unhelpful way to look at our situation? What if by not taking part in nonviolent civil resistance and just staying passive—or even staying completely locked into the domesticated and rigged “normal channels” of elections, lobbying, and litigation—we are aiding and abetting government and corporate crimes against humanity, the public trust, and the planet?

I wish I had the space to describe in much more depth Brecher’s thoughtful discussions. He describes his view of the public trust doctrine, his vision of a just transition, and the value of building alternative institutions. He spells out his theory of change for a nonviolent global climate insurgency, and how we can involve more people in extended climate insurgency campaigns and increase their effectiveness. He describes how an organized civil resistance movement can effectively undermine the pillars of support for government and corporate climate criminals over time. This occurs when more and more of us follow Gandhi’s path and collectively “withdraw our acquiescence and cooperation from those who are destroying our planet.”

As a Quaker activist and someone who works for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, which promotes the study and use of nonviolent civil resistance in social movements, I heartily recommend reading and discussing Brecher’s important new book. Both of these books remind us that there is a world to win and that what we choose to do matters.



Buy book now | Download e-book now | Back to Jeremy Brecher Author Page




A Review of Unfree Labour?: Struggles of Migrant and Immigrant Works in Canada

unfree

By Sarah Marsden
BC Studies


Canada has a long history of reliance on the labour of both permanent immigrants and migrant workers. In recent decades, the number of migrant workers entering Canada has increased significantly relative to permanent immigrants.

A core component of Canada's policy on migrant labour is to restrict the labour mobility of migrant workers; in many cases, they are only permitted to work for the employer who has obtained permission to hire them, and only in the specific job for which they were hired. Many migrant workers thus cannot circulate freely in the labour market as permanent residents and Canadian citizens can, which leads to a heightened power differential between migrant workers and their employers. These workers' vulnerability to abuse and exploitation at worksites is well-documented, as is their social and economic marginalization. Drawing on the Marxist concept of unfree labour, the collection in Unfree Labour offers analytical and practical responses to the subordination of immigrant and migrant workers in Canada in the context of domestic and globalized neoliberal policy. As a whole, the work acknowledges structural causes of these workers' subordination and emphasizes local sites of organization and resistance and their potential for material change in workers' conditions. The volume's contributors are scholars and/or frontline activists.

The collection emphasizes migrant workers, rather than immigrant workers, but many analytical components are applicable to immigrant workers as well; some, such as Polanco's chapter on fast food work, touch directly on the interests of immigrant workers.

Most of the essays in Unfree Labour consider specific labour segments in which migrant labour is prevalent. Mark Thomas demonstrates the role of the state in reproducing modern forms of unfree labour through the example of Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Worker program. Adriana Paz Ramirez and Jennifer Jihye Chun provide a historical perspective on migrant farmworker organizing and emphasize the need to call out migrant farmworker programs as a form of racial apartheid and to consider multi-faceted organizing approaches. Chris Ramsaroop critiques Canada's failure to provide Employment Insurance benefits to migrant farmworkers, and takes issue with organized labour’s advocacy in this area, arguing that transnationalism provides an alternative frame for the distribution of benefits. In the context of domestic workers, Jah-Hon Koo and Jill Hanley draw on empirical work to document workers' resistance strategies and to implicate the state's requirement of private sphere worksites as a barrier to effective labour organizing. Geraldina Polanco considers the use of migrant labour in fast food services, drawing on fieldwork to highlight the devaluing impact of foreign work programs on vulnerable domestic workers and emphasizing the need to organize domestic and migrant workers alongside each other.The remaining chapters deal with grassroots and policy responses to migrant worker struggles.

Calugay, Malhaire, and Shragge emphasize the importance of understanding structural factors in workers' countries of origin as well as developing trusting relationships and organizing across ethno-cultural lines. Calugay, et al., elaborate on the material and political challenges of organizing workers and the importance of organizing across cultural communities, building relationships, and utilizing both legal and extralegal strategies. In terms of more policy-based responses, Abigail Bakan offers a critique of federal employment equity law based on its ineffectiveness in dealing with embedded forms of systemic discrimination such as those inherent in the live-in caregiver program. Sedef Arat-Koç situates Canada's foreign work programs in the context of neoliberal policy and labour market restructuring, framing the migrant work program not only as a source of cheap labour, but as a subsidy for Canada's welfare state. She argues that to respond meaningfully to migrant workers' struggles, it is necessary to overcome romanticized nationalist narratives and make oppositional politics more explicit. Two chapters (Paz Ramirez and Chun, and Polanco) draw on fieldwork and organizing experience with migrant worker groups in British Columbia, specifically with regard to the agriculture and fast food industries. As a whole, this collection addresses the impact of national policy and organizing methods, which bear directly on the situation of migrant workers in British Columbia, whose labour market engagement and barriers to equality are closely analogous to those evident in Ontario and Quebec (the focus of several chapters).

This collection is significant in its contribution to labour migration studies. It includes multiple empirical pieces in which critiques of law and policy draw directly on interviews with migrant workers. It also contributes theoretically, elucidating critical relationships between Canada's labour migration policies and transnational relations, considering the potential of grassroots organizing, and problematizing the relationship between migrant workers' struggles and the “traditional” (white, union-based) labour movement, particularly in terms of its failure to adequately contest racism.  Its greatest strength, however, lies in the grounding of its analysis in the insights of organizers and activist-scholars directly involved with the material struggles of migrant workers. This work will be of interest to advocates, scholars, and activists involved with migrant workers. It will also appeal to those interested in critical perspectives on labour in the new economy, and to anyone who wishes to consider strategies to resist the subordination of migrant workers in Canada.


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