By Leila Shrooms for Tahrir-ICN
Omar Aziz (fondly known by friends as Abu Kamal) was born in Damascus. He returned to Syria from exile in Saudi Arabia and the United States in the early days of the Syrian revolution. An intellectual, economist, anarchist, husband and father, at the age of 63, he committed himself to the revolutionary struggle. He worked together with local activists to collect humanitarian aid and distribute it to suburbs of Damascus that were under attack by the regime. Through his writing and activity he promoted local self-governance, horizontal organization, cooperation, solidarity and mutual aid as the means by which people could emancipate themselves from the tyranny of the state. Together with comrades, Aziz founded the first local committee in Barzeh, Damascus.The example spread across Syria and with it some of the most promising and lasting examples of non-hierarchical self organization to have emerged from the countries of the Arab Spring.
In her tribute to Omar Aziz, Budour Hassan says, he “did not wear a Vendetta mask, nor did he form black blocs. He was not obsessed with giving interviews to the press …[Yet] at a time when most anti-imperialists were wailing over the collapse of the Syrian state and the “hijacking” of a revolution they never supported in the first place, Aziz and his comrades were tirelessly striving for unconditional freedom from all forms of despotism and state hegemony.”
(motherjones.com) JOSEPH BONICIOLI mostly uses the same internet you and I do. He pays a service provider a monthly fee to get him online. But to talk to his friends and neighbors in Athens, Greece, he’s also got something much weirder and more interesting: a private, parallel internet.
He and his fellow Athenians built it. They did so by linking up a set of rooftop wifi antennas to create a “mesh,” a sort of bucket brigade that can pass along data and signals. It’s actually faster than the Net we pay for: Data travels through the mesh at no less than 14 megabits a second, and up to 150 Mbs a second, about 30 times faster than the commercial pipeline I get at home. Bonicioli and the others can send messages, video chat, and trade huge files without ever appearing on the regular internet. And it’s a pretty big group of people: Their Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network has more than 1,000 members, from Athens proper to nearby islands. Anyone can join for free by installing some equipment. “It’s like a whole other web,” Bonicioli told me recently. “It’s our network, but it’s also a playground.”
Indeed, the mesh has become a major social hub. There are blogs, discussion forums, a Craigslist knockoff; they’ve held movie nights where one member streams a flick and hundreds tune in to watch. There’s so much local culture that they even programmed their own mini-Google to help meshers find stuff. “It changes attitudes,” Bonicioli says. “People start sharing a lot. They start getting to know someone next door—they find the same interests; they find someone to go out and talk with.” People have fallen in love after meeting on the mesh.
(darkernet) Charlie Chaplin gained great wealth during his Hollywood years, was knighted and may well be the last person many would think of as being an anarchist. He neither wrote about anarchism, nor took part in organised strikes or demonstrations. But he did annoy one of the greatest dictators that ever lived. And the American government feared him and his politics so much they banished him from US shores. So, perhaps he really was a ‘secret anarchist’….
Charlie Chaplin was born on 16 April 1889 in an inner London borough and lived for most of his childhood in abject poverty. Before he was age nine he was twice sent to a workhouse as his mother (his father was absent) was not able to look after him. He also attended a pauper’s school. Eventually Charlie’s mother was committed to a mental asylum having developed a psychosis brought on by syphilis (common in those days amongst the poor) and malnutrition. The authorities then arranged for Charlie to live with his father, who was an alcoholic and who would beat Charlie violently. After his father’s early death (age 38) Charlie, then age 14, slept rough on the streets, scavenging food from bins.
At a very young age Chaplin learnt how to survive by performing in music halls (both his parents had worked similarly) and, later, working as a stage actor and comedian. At 19 he was signed to the Fred Karno company, which took him to America. Chaplin was then scouted by the film industry, and he made his first appearances in 1914 with Keystone Studios. He soon developed the Tramp persona and formed a large fan base. By 1918, not yet thirty years old, he had become one of the most famous men in the world.
2. Early politics
Chaplin was not just an actor, film director and screenwriter, but throughout his life concerned himself with the social and economic problems of the times. In 1931 and 1932 he went to tour Europe, but was deeply disturbed to see the rise of nationalism as well as the widespread poverty resulting from the Depression. He was particularly shocked by the high levels of unemployment, but also the kind of automaton work that people were expected to do. He devised his Economic Solution, an exercise in mutual aid, based on an equitable distribution not just of wealth but of work. In the film, ‘Modern Times’, Chaplin was determined to transform his observations about life and poverty and the drudgery of the working class through the vehicle of comedy.
Chaplin hated fascism and all it stood for. He also knew he had to do something to help the fight against fascism – but what? He then had an idea. And that idea grew into another film. The ‘Great Dictator’ was begun in 1938. Chaplin not only starred in the film, but scripted it, directed it and financed it. Once news of the film leaked out, German and British diplomats in the United States were enraged (at that point, appeasement was the name of the game). It was not long after Chaplin began making the ‘Great Dictator’ before the then fledgling House of Un-American Activities began to query Chaplin himself.
In 1940 the ‘Great Dictator’ was finally released. By then, of course, Britain was at war with Germany, though America was yet to join the conflict. Historians believe that the release of the film was one of several influences that would eventually encourage the USA to join in the fight against the Nazis. It is also understood that Hitler ordered a copy of the film and on seeing it was so incensed he immediately put Chaplin on his death list. The ‘Great Dictator’ was nominated for five Academy Awards.
In 1952, the American Legion, a right-wing organisation linked to the McCarthyites, organised pickets of Chaplin’s latest film, ‘Limelight’, even though it had no noticeable political content. The FBI, meanwhile, had begun an investigation into Chaplin. Chaplin then made another trip to Europe, where ‘Limelight’ would be premiered in London. This time, however, his departure from the USA was used as an excuse for the House of Un-American Activities, then at its height, to issue a notice disallowing Chaplin from re-entering the USA. In essence he was exiled, banned, deported. In contrast, in Europe, Chaplin was greeted like a returning hero, feted and dined wherever he went. He eventually decided to live in Switzerland.
4. Latter years
In 1972, when the political climate in the USA was much different, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offered Chaplin an Honorary Award, “to make amends”. Chaplin was initially hesitant about accepting, but decided to return to the US for the first time in 20 years. At the Academy Awards gala, Chaplin was given a twelve-minute standing ovation, the longest in the Academy’s history. Chaplin was also knighted.
Chaplin never forgot his impoverished roots and this was reflected in every one of his films. In later years, when he was asked about his politics, Chaplin stated unequivocally that he was an anarchist.
Chaplin died on Christmas Day, 1977. Decades later, the incredibly moving final six minutes of the ‘Great Dictator’ – when Chaplin, pretending to be Hitler, addresses the massed troops at the Nuremberg Rally not with an exhortation to war but to peace – has been turned (see below) by those in the Occupy movement into another rallying call – for equality throughout the world and an end to all conflicts and tyranny.
If Chaplin were alive today be would undoubtedly be part of Occupy, or of Anonymous, or publishing a dissident blog, admonishing the USA for its present day adoption of totalitarian technologies and its protection of the 1% while millions still suffer in poverty. For Chaplin may well have been a secret anarchist.
The events of the past couple of days are the latest step in a sequence of events by which the military can consolidate its hold on power, aim towards the death of the revolution and a return to a military/police state.
The authoritarian regime of the Muslim Brotherhood had to go. But what has replaced it is the true face of the military in Egypt – no less authoritarian, no less fascist and for sure more difficult to depose.
The massacre carried out by the army against pro-Morsi supporters in Nadha Square and Raba’a has left around 500 killed and up to 3000 injured (Ministry of Health figures- the reality is likely much higher). It was a pre-orchestrated act of state terrorism. It’s aim is to divide the people and push the Muslim Brotherhood to create more militia’s to revenge and protect themselves. This in turn will enable the army to label all Islamists as terrorists and produce an “internal enemy” in the country which will allow the army to keep the military regime in an ongoing state of emergency.
They go after the Muslim Brotherhood today, but they will come after anyone who dares to criticize them tomorrow. Already the army has declared a state of emergency for one month, giving the police and military exceptional powers, and a curfew has been declared in many provinces for the same amount of time from 7pm to 6am. This gives the army a free hand to crack down on dissent. It is a return to the days before the revolution, where emergency law had been in place since 1967 and it provided the framework for wide-spread repression and denial of freedoms.
The character of the new regime is clear. Just a few days ago 18 new governors were appointed, the majority of which hail from the ranks of the army/police or even remnants of the Mubarak regime. There has also been an ongoing attack on workers who continue to strike for their rights (such as the recent army attack and arrest of steel workers on strike in Suez). The military regime is also hunting for revolutionary activists, journalists have been beaten and arrested, foreigners have been threatened against being witness to events. Both local and global media has told half truths and built narratives supportive of a political agenda. The counter-revolution is in full flow and it knows how to break the unity of the people in its effort to divide and conquer.
In the past two days there has been a rise in sectarian reprisals, with up to 50 churches and christian institutions attacked. The army and police were not seen protecting these buildings of the Christian community. It is in the interest of both army and the Muslim Brotherhood to stoke tensions and create fear and hatred in the people. They will fight for their control of the State as people’s blood fills the streets.
We condemn the massacres at Raba’a and Nadha Square, the attacks on workers, activists and journalists, the manipulation of the people by those who vie to power, and sectarian attacks. For the revolution to continue the people must remain united in their opposition to the abuses and tyranny of power, against whoever it is directed.
Down with the military and Al-Sissi!
Down with the remnants of the Mubarak regime and business elite!
Down with the State and all power to autonomous communities!
Long live the Egyptian revolution!