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Daily Archives: 18/03/2011

(adcs.anarchyplanet.org) Duane Rousselle: Post-anarchism has come to mean different things to different people. In the anglophone world, Saul Newman has described a Lacanian/Stirnerian “post-anarchism,” Todd May has called for a practice-oriented “post-structuralist anarchism,” Lewis Call has described a time of “post-modern anarchism,” and Hakim Bey has called for a reinvention of traditional anarchist discourse in his 1987 essay “post-anarchism anarchy.” In my own research, I have noticed that there is a striking difference in the way post-anarchism has been conceived in the non-anglophone world. I would like to ask you a bit about what post-anarchism means for you and for your audience.

Jürgin Mümken: In order to answer the question of what post-anarchism means to me, I must first of all discuss my ‘philosophical beginnings.’ While I was studying architecture during the end of the 1980s, I grappled with the problem of prison architecture. I was struck by Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. This was serendipitous for me because at that time in Germany, Foucault barely played any role in those discourses that occurred outside of philosophy.

In the 1990s, I began to bring together Foucauldian thought with anarchism. When, in 1997, my first article on this topic—“No Power for Anyone: Attempts at an Anarchist Appropriation of the philosophical project of Michel Foucault”—was published in an anarchist newspaper, I did not know about the analogous argument in the Anglo-American world. In this article I referred also to the method of deconstruction present in Judith Butler’s work. I called my approach a “deconstructive anarchism.” However, I now argue that this ought not to be a new anarchist trend, as I had formulated it at the time, but rather a form of anarchist thought with wide-reaching consequences in intercourse with the dominant categories and concepts of our time.

While doing research on the Internet I discovered the work of a student in Berlin, whose thesis was that I had in fact been carrying on the thought of Todd May. As I have said, I made recourse to Judith Butler’sdeconstructivism, elaborating that an anarchist society ought not to be identified through the absence of power but rather that it is founded upon a reversal of power relationships in accordance that no rigid state of authority be permitted to develop. At that point in time, I had just published my book Freedom, Individuality and Subjectivity: State and Subject in Postmodernity from an Anarchist Perspective but I had not yet heard of Todd May or Saul Newman. I began to research their work on the Internet and came upon the term “post-anarchism.” I considered (and then adopted) the term as my ‘label.’ Later I registered the websitehttp://www.postanarchismus.net. Today post-anarchism remains for me a label within, but increasingly tightly-bound with, the multifaceted approaches to the contemporary actualization of anarchist theory and practice.

However, I do not use the term “post-anarchism” to set myself apart from “classical anarchism.” Foucault, Derrida, Butler, Deleuze, among others, can help us to read classical anarchism again. For example, there are many new and interesting things to discover in Stirner and Bakunin. In the anglo-American world, the German and French approaches to post-anarchism are largely ignored, whereas May, Newman, Call and Day have had no real relevance in the debates in German.

To me post-anarchism means an actualization of anarchist theory and practice with help from the “post-structuralist toolbox.” The prefix “post” stands for challenging and rejecting some of the basic assumptions of classical anarchism, but not for the abandonment of anarchist goals. For me, post-anarchism holds fast to the goal of a classless and stateless society, the term only makes sense within that context.

This is part one of an ongoing conversation about post-anarchism with Jürgin Mümken, Süreyyya Evren, and Anton Fernendaz de Rota. It has been translated from German to English by Enkidu (enkidu[at]AngryNerds.com) with adaptations by Duane Rousselle.

Source: http://adcs.anarchyplanet.org/2011/03/18/a-virtual-post-anarchist-roundtable-an-interview-with-jurgin-mumken-anton-fernendaz-de-rota-and-sureyyya-evren-1/

(Anarchist Writers) March 18th 2011 marks two key revolts in working class history. First, it is the 140th anniversary of the start of the Paris Commune. Second, it is the 90th anniversary of the final day of the Kronstadt Rebellion against the Bolshevik regime. Both events are important to anarchism. The first, obviously inspired by Proudhon’s mutualist ideas, influenced the revolutionary anarchism which was supplanting it both in the libertarian wing of the First International and as the main form of anarchism . The second exposed the nature of the Bolshevik regime in a way which could not be ignored. It caused the likes of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman to finally break all ties with a regime they were already disillusioned with. Read More

(hrw.org) Manama – Bahraini authorities should immediately release seven prominent opposition activists and a surgeon arrested on March 17, 2011, or charge them with a recognizable criminal offense and bring them immediately before an independent judicial authority, Human Rights Watch said today. Authorities should also reveal their whereabouts and provide them with immediate access to counsel and their families.

The official Bahrain News Agency announced on March 17 that the Bahraini Defense Force had arrested “several leaders of the sedition ring who had called for the downfall of the regime and had intelligence contacts with foreign countries.” The statement accused the seven of inciting violence that led to the “killing of citizens and the destruction of public and private property.” On March 15 King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa decreed a three-month state of emergency to quell continuing peaceful anti-government street protests.

“The government is depriving them of their liberty in a completely arbitrary manner, apparently for their leading roles in peaceful protests demanding democracy,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “At this point the lawyers and families of the people who have been arrested don’t even know who is holding them or where.”

Security forces arrested the seven activists between 2 and 5 a.m. on March 17. The surgeon, Dr. Ali Alekry, was detained later the same day. The arrested activists are Ebrahim Sharif, leader of the National Democratic Action Society; Hassan Mushaima, leader of the Haq Movement of Liberties and Democracy; Abd al-Wahab Hussein, leader of the al-Wefa Islamic Movement; Abdul-Jalil al-Singace, a leading member of the Haq Movement; Shaikh Saeed al-Nuri, a cleric and political activist; Shaikh Abd al-Hadi al-Mukhuther, also a cleric and political activist; and Hassan al-Haddad, a member of the Committee of the Unemployed.

Dr. Alekry was arrested at Salmaniya Medical Complex, the country’s largest public health facility, after security forces surrounded the hospital. The whereabouts of another cleric and political activist, Shaikh Muhammed Habib al-Moqdad, are currently unknown. Human Rights Watch has not been able to confirm reports that he has been arrested.

Sharif, al-Singace, Mushaima, and Hussein are leading members of political societies that formed a loose coalition demanding democratic reforms. Sharif’s secular leftist National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), along with the main Shia opposition group (al-Wifaq), has called for Bahrain’s transformation to a constitutional monarchy. Mushaima, al-Singace, and Hussein’s groups formed the “Coalition for a Republic,” which called for abolishing the monarchy altogether. Sheikh al-Nuri, Sheikh al-Mukhuther, and Sheikh al-Moqdad were generally regarded as being more closely aligned with those seeking more radical changes in the power structure.

Dr. Alekry has been an outspoken critic of the government’s actions following the attack on protesters at the Pearl Roundabout during the early morning hours of February 17 that led to the deaths of four Bahrainis, and has more recently been a leading voice in exposing restrictions on providing medical care to injured protesters.

Farida Qolam, Sharif’s wife, released a statement on March 17 describing her husband’s arrest. She said that their doorbell rang at about 1:50 a.m. When the couple opened the door they saw a large group of men wearing masks behind the entry gate, most of them wearing black civilian clothes. One pointed a gun toward Sharif, who gently asked him to put it down.

The couple repeatedly asked the men who they were, Qolam said, and one finally replied that they were “state security” (amn el dawla) and demanded that Sharif open the gate. Sharif did and went out to speak with them. In her statement, Qolam said there were 35 to 40 people in all, about 6 carrying guns. They took Sharif away to an undisclosed location.

Two of the lawyers handling the activists’ cases told Human Rights Watch that several hours after security forces arrested their clients, the lawyers had filed requests to visit the arrested men with both the civil Public Prosecution Office and the office of the military prosecutor. The lawyers said the offices refused to accept their request or provide any information regarding the circumstances of the activists’ detention.

The lawyers also told Human Rights Watch that Bahraini law does not provide any regulations limiting Bahraini Defense Force actions under a martial law decree. The explanatory memorandum to Article 36(b) of the Bahraini constitution says only that the “state of national safety” authorizes the government to restrict peoples’ rights and freedoms to the extent required to preserve the national security.

Under international law, a state may not invoke a public emergency to justify arbitrary deprivations of liberty or unacknowledged detentions, nor may it deviate from fundamental principles of fair trial, including the presumption of innocence. People held as administrative detainees under a lawful state of emergency should, at a minimum, have the right to be brought before a judicial authority promptly after their arrest, be informed of the reasons for their detention, and have prompt access to legal counsel and family. They also should be allowed to challenge the lawfulness of their detention in a fair hearing, and to seek a remedy for mistreatment and arbitrary detention.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain ratified in 2006, permits some restrictions on certain rights during an officially proclaimed public emergency that “threatens the life of the nation.” According to the Human Rights Committee, the international body of experts that monitors state compliance with the treaty, any derogation of rights during a public emergency must be of an exceptional and temporary nature, and must be “limited to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.” Certain fundamental rights – such as the right to life and the right to be secure from torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment – must always be respected, even during a public emergency.

“To the best of our knowledge Bahraini authorities have not made public any rules or regulations under the so-called national safety law,” Stork said. “The authorities apparently think they can do as they wish, but they are wrong.”

Source: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/18/bahrain-protest-leaders-arbitrarily-detained

(c4ss.org) Libertarians and market-anarchists often cite the non-aggression principle (no force, no fraud) when summarizing their philosophy, so I am always perplexed when I hear support for sweatshops in conversations with individuals who self-identify as libertarians or market anarchists. In fact, sweatshops, those citadels of cheap labor associated with laissez-faire capitalism and industrialization, perpetuate both force and fraud against the people employed there, and so they are incompatible with a free or libertarian society. By supporting this form of economic exploitation, many libertarians and market anarchists both undermine their philosophy and alienate potential supporters among the working class.

Sweatshops are generally considered to be factories or workshops in which employees, often children, work over nine to ten hours a day for wages that barely allow for the purchase of basic necessities. Furthermore, the working conditions at these factories or workshops are often considered to be hazardous or unsafe. Sweatshops do not provide their employees any benefits, such as health insurance or worker’s compensation, and employees do not enjoy any form of job security. Today, sweatshops can be found all over the world, but they are most common in developing nations, such as India, China, and Mexico.

Most arguments in favor of sweatshops, which are common to every socioeconomic theory (libertarian or otherwise), consist of two general propositions: “workers are better off in the sweatshop than they would have been otherwise,” and “no one forces them to work there.” Neo-liberal economist Paul Krugman (in)famously made those arguments in his 1997 article in Slate Magazine, “In Praise of Cheap Labor.” Responding to “self-righteous” critics, Krugman pointed out that working in a sweatshop in Manila for $20 a week is preferable to scrounging around a garbage dump for scrap metal or scratching out a living on a subsistence farm. “A policy of good jobs in principle, but no jobs in practice, might assuage our consciences, but it is no favor to its alleged beneficiaries,” he concluded.

These arguments are fallacious for two reasons: 1) They depend on a narrow definition of “force” and a generous interpretation of “choice,” and 2) They wrongly presuppose that sweatshops are the only alternative to bare subsistence in those economies.

If, borrowing a scenario posed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in The Social Contract, a thief were to hold you up at the edge of the woods and demand your purse, that would be an example of naked force and aggression. The thief offers you a choice: surrender your property or face injury or death. No reasonable person would argue that this is a fair choice, but as Rousseau pointed out, there is an element of choice—you could attempt to hide your purse, in which case you would no longer be compelled to hand it over. You could also simply refuse to surrender your purse, thus risking your life. The fact that you have these choices, however, certainly does not make the thief’s actions moral or legitimate.

Therefore, hopefully, we can agree that the practical application of the non-aggression principle means having freedom of action in the absence of force, which applies neither to the thief nor the sweatshop. A sweatshop does not arise as the result of men and women who agree to sell their labor in a mutually beneficial arrangement. Although no one holds a gun to the worker’s head, he or she is given a false choice between skeletal wages and dangerous working conditions and exposure and starvation. This arrangement and the thief in the woods are equivalent agents of aggression. Yes, you can choose not to work at the sweatshop, just like you could choose not to surrender your wallet to the thief, but this is not a fair and free choice because of the perception of self-preservation.

Perhaps the most revealing question to ask is this: If, with access to all the information about their industry, workers employed at sweatshops were able to decide the conditions of their labor, would they choose to continue to perpetuate their current condition? If the answer is “no,” then the exploitation of these workers is obvious. No human being, given a free and informed choice, would work under sweatshop conditions. Sweatshops can only exist under a lopsided arrangement, perpetuated by force and fraud, in which one party (the company) exploits ignorance and desperation to reap 90 percent of the benefits.

Any agreement between libertarians, market-anarchists, and neo-liberals like Paul Krugman on economics should be followed by some serious self-reflection, especially if that agreement relies on a false dichotomy and a distorted notion of choice. Even if sweatshops take advantage of and promote the notion that they are the only alternative to starvation, that is not the case. In a free market, workers – should they choose to enter into the field of manufacturing – have a wide variety of options, whether those factories are simply unionized, cooperatively owned, or based on individual agreements between a worker and the factory owner. In all of these situations, if all parties adhered to the non-aggression principle, the conditions that give rise to sweatshops would not exist.

by Michael Kleen

Source: http://c4ss.org/content/6454

(Democracy Now!) The Japanese nuclear crisis worsens as Japanese authorities race to cool the overheating reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Earlier today, Japan raised the nuclear alert level at the crippled plant from a four to a five, on par with Three Mile Island. This decision has shocked many nuclear experts. “Our experts think that it’s a level 6.5 already, and it’s on the way to a seven, which was Chernobyl,” says Philip White of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo. We also speak with Dr. Ira Helfand of Physicians for Social Responsibility about the long-termhealth effects from radiation exposure from Fukushima.

Watch Video here [includes rush transcript] : http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/18/underestimating_the_seriousness_of_the_problem

(truth-out.org) It’s a great thing that the Obama administration has resisted calls for unilateral US military action in Libya, and instead is working through the United Nations Security Council, as it is required to do by the United Nations Charter.

Now, the administration needs to follow through on this commitment to international law by ensuring that foreign military intervention remains within the four corners of what the UN Security Council has approved. If it does not, and instead Western powers take the view that we now have a blank check to do whatever we want, the certain consequence will be that it will be much more difficult to achieve Security Council action in a similar situation in the future, and those who complain that the Security Council is too cautious will have only themselves to blame.

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Some of the reporting on the Security Council resolution has been misleading. The Security Council has not authorized military action for any purpose. The Security Council has authorized military action necessary to protect civilians. It has not authorized military action to overthrow the Libyan government. Clearly, some people do want foreign military action to assist in the overthrow of the Libyan government, but such action has not been approved by the Security Council.

The text of the UN Security Council resolution can be found here.

Here is the first action item:

1. Demands the immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians;

The Libyan government has announced a cease-fire. It is certainly true, as Western leaders have noted, that announcing a cease-fire is not at all the same thing as implementing one. But before Western military forces start bombing Libya, efforts to achieve a cease-fire must be exhausted. To do otherwise would be to make a mockery of the Security Council.

It is crucial that the goal of protecting civilians, which the Security Council has endorsed, and the goal of overthrowing the Libyan government, which it has most certainly not endorsed, be kept distinct. There is a clear effort by some actors – especially the French government – to conflate these goals:

Earlier François Baroin, a French government spokesman, told RTL radio that action would come “rapidly,” perhaps within hours, after the United Nations resolution authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

But he insisted the military action was “not an occupation of Libyan territory.” Rather, he said, it was intended to protect the Libyan people and “allow them to go all the way in their drive, which means bringing down the Qaddafi regime.” [Emphasis added.]

There is no doubt that some actors want a foreign military intervention to assist in the overthrow of the Libyan government. But there should also be no doubt that this goal has never been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. Any foreign military action beyond what is necessary to protect civilians would be a military action that was not approved by the Security Council, and therefore, would be a military action that violates the United Nations Charter. Any foreign military action outside the framework of the UN resolution – in particular, any action that kills civilians – will be prosecutable as a war crime.

by Robert Naiman

Source: http://www.truth-out.org/the-un-security-council-has-not-authorized-regime-change-libya68587

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