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Tag: riots

50 Jahre Watts-Riots & Das Aufbegehren einer Generation

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Heute (11.08.2015) vor 50 Jahren haben die so genannten “Watts-Riots” die USA tagelang in Atmen gehalten. Nach einer Routine-Verkehrskontrolle kommt es zu einem Massenaufstand von jugendlichen Schwarzen.

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Watts ist ein Stadtteil im Süden von Los Angeles. Auf den ersten Blick kann man Parallelen zu den Rodney King Riots von ´92 oder der heutigen Protestwelle gegen rassistische Polizeigewalt nach den Ereignissen in Ferguson und Baltimore ziehen. Aber der große Unterschied – 1965 befindet sich eine ganze Generation in den USA im Aufbegehren: Anti-Vietnamproteste, Hippie-Kultur, Frauen- und Bürgerrechtsbewegung sorgen in den USA für gesellschaftlichen Sprengstoff. Den Soundtrack dazu liefern Bob Dylan, die Beatles, Nina Simone und James Brown.

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Arson with demands – on the Swedish riots

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Arson with demands – on the Swedish riots

(sicjournal.org)

“30-40 years ago, the state could afford to BUILD 1 million flats in 10 years, now it’s too poor to even RENOVATE them.”

– Megafonen – ‘Alby is not for sale!'(( Megafonen, Alby är inte till Salu! [Alby is not for sale!], our translation.))

This exclamation is highly representative of the activism that has flourished in the suburbs of Stockholm these past years. In this case, it comes from Megafonen (‘The Megaphone’), a grass-roots activist group founded by young people in the Stockholm suburb Husby in 2008, around the principles of democracy, welfare, community, work and education. The state, says Megafonen here, no longer lives up to its proper function, which would be to ensure the material well-being of people through housing policies. The ambivalence of this perspective is already clear in the nostalgic reference to the heyday of Swedish social-democratic welfare, represented by the state housing policy which led to the construction of ‘1 million flats’ between 1965 and 1974. On the one hand, it recognises cuts, privatisations, closures, etc. as symptoms of an already existing capitalist restructuring. On the other hand, its actions emerge as the affirmation of what is left of the infrastructure and political institutions that formed the Swedish workers’ identity, e.g. public housing.

This ambivalence can be made coherent: by fighting the advancement of the restructuring, one is at the same time defending that which it has not yet reshaped. But then, one leaves aside an essential product of the destruction of workers’ identity: the end of the political existence of the proletariat in Sweden which, in the most pauperised areas, has been acompanied by the development of inarticulate riots between 2008 and today. If we take the practices of these riots into account, the ambivalence of Megafonen’s type of activism – the fact that it operates within that which incarnates the end of workers’ identity, and at the same time tries to organise upon the remnants of that identity –, appears as a contradiction between the conditions in which it exists and its perspectives. In a time in which the proletariat, in the obligation to sell its labour power which defines it, is structurally excluded from the table of collective bargaining, this activism still does, through its denunciations of ‘the state’ and its various institutions, affirm the possibility of a dialogue and a future within this society. In a word, it defends a welfare state which no longer exists.

It would be tempting to analyse this contradiction along a revolt-reform axis, in which the riots would incarnate the destructive language of ruptures, whereas the activists would incarnate the constructive language of politics. The riots would be a mere symptom of the destruction of workers’ identity, whereas the activists would be trying to find a remedy to it. But if one takes a closer look at the events in the long run, this political-theoretical construct does not fit. Of course, the riots are not harmoniously united with this activism. The practices of burning cars and setting fire to the head-quarters of various institutions, or fighting the police and the fire brigade, are qualitatively different from practices such as demanding specific political transformations and explicitly stating what institutions’ function should be. But with regard both to the subjects that carry out these practices, and to the practices themselves, the relation between riots and activism is not that of two clearly distinct camps. What is at stake is to reveal this contemporary relation between rioting and activism in Sweden, to see what this says about the current period more broadly.

Six years after the riots in Malmö, five years after the riots in Göteborg, and more than a year after the week of riots in Stockholm and other Swedish cities, the scarcity of writings about these events prevents us from even picturing what happened during the riots. Therefore, what is needed first and foremost is a description of the emergence of both riots and activism in the suburbs of these cities between 2008 and last year. The focus on the practices which compose the riots on the one hand, and the activism on the other, must be followed by an exposé both of their historical production and of that which structures the so-called suburbs today. This will lead us to look at the inner relation between the riots and the activism in these suburbs, and to formulate a question which exceeds the Swedish context: that of social and political integration.

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From Baltimore

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(via sicjournal.org)

Im heading home in two days.

There is something very important happening not only in Baltimore, but across black America. As of now there have been no reported deaths at the hands of protesters in a city where 250 people are killed a year, nearly all of those homicide victims being black. In spite of the fires and the looting, the young people of Baltimore are still showing a greater restraint in their conflicts with police and store-owners than they have shown in their conflicts amongst each other. I say this because for years it has been my family too that has done some of the killing and much of the dying.

Why is it that the current uprising has, in spite of its violence, not tilted toward a shooting war between whites and blacks, cops and kids, landlords and tenants, bosses and workers, given the fact that the shooting war between young black men across the region is invariant? Because young black people still value the lives of their structural enemies more than they value their own. The engineering of what is possibly the most efficient self-cannibalizing social organism in history – the nightly shootouts, the stabbings, the overdoses – is a project that has been centuries in the making.

The black youth of Baltimore have been conditioned to view themselves as the problem. Every socio-economic issue that arises is somehow the result of their behavior. They hear this not only from the white cops, the filipina teachers, the korean liquor store owners, but also from too many of the blacks who attended Coppin or Morgan and secured decent jobs and decided that the reason the police still profile them, or their home values dont rise, or they didnt get that pay raise, is because “the niggas” moved out the county, or they are still robbing each other, or they make “the rest of us” look bad.

The structure of America has shifted to ensure that there is no place for these young people. The movements of today will not echo the struggles of the sixties. Today there is no protracted post-war economic boom, no high paying jobs for low skilled workers, no attempt to further integrate impoverished blacks into the productive process. Decades of deindustrialization halted the economys attempt to integrate low-income blacks into the workforce, and the exponential expansion of the prison system over the past four decades signals a return to the slave system as a means of managing black America. What we are witnessing in Ferguson, Baltimore, and soon in black neighborhoods across America, is a present-day slave rebellion.

Today, there is no legitimate black leadership. If anything the ascension of a handful of blacks into positions of power has demonstrated the structural impossibility of finding a place for the majority of blacks in America. A black mayor, a black police chief, a black president, and Baltimore still burns.

This is not a hopeful situation. It is fully possible that there can be no resolution to these problems. I can only hope that the people who designed this architecture of black misery, this meat-grinder of black flesh, will soon feel the weight of the teeth and nails on the backs of their own necks.

April 29, 2015

The Purge: Baltimore

Streets in Baltimore looked like a war zone early Tuesday after a night of riots

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The incident stemmed from a flier that circulated widely among city school students via social media about a “purge” to take place at 3 p.m., starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending downtown. Such memes have been known to circulate regularly among city school students, based on the film “The Purge,” about what would happen if all laws were suspended. The flier included an image of protesters smashing the windshield of a police car Saturday during a march spurred by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who suffered a spinal cord injury earlier this month after being arrested by city police.

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Hours later, on the city’s bitter streets, looting erupted at an East Baltimore shopping center called Church Square. Throngs of looters, mostly teenagers and young men, dashed into stores with an air of celebration and emerged with boxes of sneakers and armfuls of clothing. “We are going to riot until we die,” one shouted. LA Times

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“When a pair of police cruisers tried to enter the area, young men threw bottles. Several of the men wore surgical masks. Some carried baseball bats, others carried pipes. While several people held signs that said “Stop the war,” protesting peacefully, the rising chaos surrounded them: a broken-down BMW sat empty in the middle of the street, shards of glass from convenience store windows lay on the pavement and a young man carrying bolt cutters walked by.” NYT

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“The result is that for the first time in long time, Americans have reason to worry about what used to be called a “long, hot summer” — with violence of the kind seen in west Baltimore begetting more violence.” FT

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When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves. The Atlantic

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Fire to the Prisons

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This is for the world’s exploited and dominated groups or classes. It is for the uncomfortable, the miserable, the disempowered, or the lost. It is also for the uncontrollable, empowered, fed up, and criminalized. It is a reminder for those living in conflict every day with the social order that reigns upon the earth, that they are not alone.

We are a revolutionary publication that hopes to report on struggles that will otherwise be mentioned inappropriately or not at all. We report on struggles that stem from a frustration with different forms of domination, and intend to achieve freedom from them, without compromise.

firetotheprisons.org

To All Those Who Can’t Breathe

Beauty is in the street

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Ferguson, MO – Nov 25, 2014

What is going on here is real simple,” said D.R.A, 18, who was with his two younger sisters. “We told them no justice, no peace. We didn’t get our justice, so they don’t get their peace. We’re fucking shit up over here. Plain and simple.

Nothing Short of Apocalyptic – Fiery Rebellion Ensues After Grand Jury Announcement

“20 photos that show exactly what happened last night in ferguson”

Video of Oakland from Global Uprisings

Video from New York Times

Freeways blocked in Oakland

Why we won’t wait

In defense of Looting

In defense of the Ferguson Riots

Article in “Time” Magazine (!) defending the riots –  “The violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., are part of the American experience. Peaceful protesting is a luxury only available to those safely in mainstream culture”

Inextinguishable Fire: Ferguson and Beyond

By R.L., metamute.org17 November 2014

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Image: Ferguson rebel holds up sign: ‘Nice Night 4 a Revolution’

The cop murder of Mike Brown and the subsequent eruption in Ferguson and around the US have raised questions about the value of racialised life and the forms of struggle against race emerging in the face of displacement, immiseration and militarised policing. R.L. traces the coordinates of a militant younger generation that has a different relation to race and class belonging

 We are ready to die tonight

Posted on twitter by Anon

We still live in the shadows of the global financial crisis. Now seemingly a distant memory – along with the wave of struggles that trailed in its tracks – the full ramifications of the crisis are still unfolding today. Sluggish worldwide GDP growth rates, high unemployment levels, diffuse immiseration amongst the population…all the while governments bear a purely negative function, engaging in a hodgepodge of ineffective half-measures intended to prevent further social dissolution. In this regard, we very much agree with Endnotes’ analysis of the present as caught in a holding pattern, in which the global crisis of capital has for the moment stalled and the forces of disintegration are kept at bay.[1]

Within the constraints of these circumstances, a growing mass of humanity are being left behind as the economy falters ahead. In order for capitalist society to continue its course, the growing mass of surplus humanity must somehow be ‘integrated’ into class society even despite being socially ‘unnecessary’ to its reproduction. In the absence of any wider social resolution to growing immiseration, the predicament is for now resolved ideologically through criminalisation and practically through punishment. Increasing immiseration, and subsequently exclusion, must therefore be justified and normalised. Rising social inequality becomes framed as a problem of containment and the solution one of increasing control.

The police shooting of Michael Brown resonates all too familiarly within this interim period. However, in contrast to other similar incidences, Ferguson has led to an especially explosive and protracted reaction. Its impact has gone far beyond the small suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, attracting not only those in the immediate vicinity of the town itself, but reverberating all throughout the United States. What factors have made the rebellion in Ferguson particularly extensive? Does the eruption indicate any evolutionary development in the problem of coordination amongst proletarians in light of past struggles? And what does this eruption tell us about our place within the ongoing crisis of the capitalist class relation?

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Another Day, Another Riot

Hamburg, Dec 21st, 2013. Rota Flora, Esso, Lampedusa.

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Recent struggles reflect the two basic aspects of the process that produces the revolution of the current period: first, the delegitimization of demands, i.e. demanding is converted into a component of the reproduction of classes, which tends to be marginalized and suppressed, and second, the internal distance produced between proletarian practices in the evolution of class struggle. These two aspects of class struggle are produced in every zone of capital despite all their differences, and is imposed by the objectivity of capital, the economy. We may risk the prediction that we are entering into an era of riots, which will be transitional and extremely violent.  It will define the reproduction crisis of the proletariat, and thus of capitalism, as an important structural element of the following period. By ‘riots’ we mean struggles for demands or struggles without demands that will take violent forms and will transform the urban environments into areas of unrest; the riots are not revolution, even the insurgency is not revolution, although it may be the beginning of a revolution. The internal distance between proletarian practices aggravates all social contradictions and creates a self-reinforcing process of growing conflicts that includes more and more categories of the working class and the intensification of State repression. The particularity of this ‘era’ is that the dynamics of the struggle cannot produce stable results. In any case, the struggles of the proletarians will inevitably reproduce the opponent class and their own class existence as a class of proletarians. The limit of these struggles, now, is the fact that they are class struggles. The only guarantee to overcome this limit is a practical attack against capital, which is identical with the attack on the very existence of the proletarian class.

The Transitional Phase of the Crisis: the era of riots, Blaumachen 2011

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One can today be a railway worker, yesterday unemployed, tomorrow a precarious worker, and the day after that a squatter or undocumented immigrant. Activism is the permanent ‘What is to be done?’ in an era where everything that constituted workers’ identity has vanished. It is a permanent ‘What is to be done?’ which no longer has the mediation between the particular struggles and the general existence of the class, that is to say, the workers’ identity and/or the (existing or to be built) Party, nor the maturation of the class. In all these definitions, there was, generally speaking, a ‘being’ of the proletariat to be revealed, whether this ‘being’ was explicit in its political, trade union, or institutional mediations or impeded by them. This generality of the proletariat implies that all particularities are nothing more than contingencies, accidents.

Caught without mediation in between the general and the particular, activism is a set of tactics that is always unsatisfied with both itself and anyone else (until the next action). As essentially tactics, activism functions like a tool box: generalisation of the action, overcoming of the categorial demands, self-organisation of the struggle, refusal of mediations, autonomy, etc. Consequently, if it is not definitive, it is a strong tendency: activism is normative. Action is then constructed as a question, i.e. as an intervention. The construction of this question makes an abstraction of the diversity of activities: Practice as an abstraction. The question of intervention transforms what is done (or what cannot be done) in this or that struggle—practices which are always particular—into an abstraction of practice. It justifies itself by fabricating a dilemma: intervention or waitism.

The Movement Against the French Pension Reform, R.S., Sic 2 (forthcoming)

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The era of riots is at the same time the dynamic and the limit of class struggle in the current conjuncture, namely the production of class belonging as an external constraint in the face of the inability of class struggle to conclude its class dynamic and produce a renewed position of proletarian power. It is only a transitory phase in the development of this contradiction (the contradiction between classes in the current cycle of struggles) that seeks a resolution. As the crisis progresses, the proletariat struggles for its reproduction as a class and at the same time is confronted with its own reproduction (class belonging) externalised as a constraint in capital, i.e. it struggles at the same time for and against its own reproduction. The generalisation of the struggle is not posed today as class unity (under the wings of a central figure), because for the proletariat being and acting as a class only means being a part of capital and reproducing itself as such (together with the opponent class). There is no ground for a revolutionary affirmation of class belonging, no workers’ identity or proletarian community, and there is nothing to be liberated, no craftsmanship or human nature. In an environment that produces surplus populations and violently attacks the historically defined value of labour power, anchoring on the wage relation is lost together with the ability to demand better living standards.

The much-anticipated Subject loses the ground beneath its feet. The ephemeral ‘us’ of the rioters, this transient subject of destructive practices that appears momentarily only to rapidly dissolve, is the impossibility of a permanence of the Subject (the impossibility to imagine the revolution as the result of an ‘accumulation’ or overgrowth of riots). In the differentiated character of the crisis of proletarian reproduction, the crisis of the stratification of the proletariat, each part is struggling to defend its respective level of reproduction (its position on the social ladder) while they are all pushed downwards. This makes the issue of the generalisation of the struggle an issue of conflictual encounter between different practices. This is revealed in all the cases of riots invading movements.

The Feral Underclass Hits the Streets, Rocamadur/Blaumachen, Sic 2 (forthcoming)