Saturday, July 28, 2012

Speak out against FBI raids & Grand Jury repression in Oregon and Washington

We are reposting the follow solidarity appeal from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. For a discussion that puts these raids in the context of recent state repression against leftists, see Grand Juries & the FBI’s Targeting of Anarchists in the Occupy Movement by Kevin Gosztola at Firedoglake.com. See also Ken Lawrence’s classic The New State Repression (1985, republished 2006), which analyzes the modern state’s strategic shift from reactive, intermittent repression to pre-emptive, permanent counterinsurgency.

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Please sign the Solidarity Statement: Speak out against FBI raids & Grand Jury repression in Oregon and Washington

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is circulating the following statement on FBI raids and grand jury repression in Portland, Oregon and in Olympia & Seattle in Washington. We urge all progressive organizations to sign on to this statement. To add your group’s name to the solidarity statement, please send an email to: nopoliticalrepression@gmail.com.

On Wednesday July 25th, the FBI conducted a series of coordinated raids against activists in Portland, Olympia, and Seattle. They subpoenaed several people to a special federal grand jury, and seized computers, black clothing and anarchist literature. This comes after similar raids in Seattle in July and earlier raids of squats in Portland.

Though the FBI has said that the raids are part of a violent crime investigation, the truth is that the federal authorities are conducting a political witch-hunt against anarchists and others working toward a more just, free, and equal society. The warrants served specifically listed anarchist literature as evidence to be seized, pointing to the fact that the FBI and police are targeting this group of people because of their political ideas. Pure and simple, these raids and the grand jury hearings are being used to intimidate people whose politics oppose the state’s agenda. During a time of growing economic and ecological crises that are broadly affecting people across the world, it is an attempt to push back any movement towards creating a world that is humane, one that meets every person’s needs rather than serving only the interests of the rich.

This attack does not occur in a vacuum. Around the country and around the world, people have been rising up and resisting an economic system that puts the endless pursuit of profit ahead of the basic needs of humanity and the Earth. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement to now Anaheim, people are taking to the streets. In each of these cases, the state has responded with brutal political repression. This is not a coincidence. It is a long-term strategy by state agencies to stop legitimate political challenges to a status quo that exploits most of the world’s people.

We, the undersigned, condemn this and all other political repression. While we may have differences in ideology or chose to use different tactics, we understand that we are in a shared struggle to create a just, free, and liberated world, and that we can only do this if we stand together. We will not let scare tactics or smear campaigns divide us, intimidate us, or stop us from organizing and working for a better world.

No more witch-hunts! An injury to one is an injury to all.

See the Committee to Stop FBI Repression website for the original statement and current list of signers.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Book notes: Michael Staudenmaier on the Sojourner Truth Organization

I am in the middle of reading Michael Staudenmaier's Truth and Revolution: A History of the Sojourner Truth Organization, 1969-1986. This is a detailed, thoughtful account of one of the most interesting radical groups to emerge from the 1960s left. STO was one of very few Marxist groups in the U.S. that promoted both revolutionary politics and open debate and discussion. They had important things to say about racial oppression in the U.S., the working class as complex political actors, and how dialectics can be a useful, practical tool -- not just dogma or dead theory.

STO's approach to the threat of fascism also helped lay the groundwork for this blog, Three Way Fight. STO rejected two ideas common on the left -- on one side, that fascism is simply a tool of the capitalist state or ruling class; on the other, that the way to defeat far rightists is to rely on the state and its liberal allies. Instead, STO argued that fascism represents an autonomous current with the potential to gain a mass following, and that it "contains an anti-capitalist 'revolutionary' side that is not reducible to simple demagogy" (p. 294). And within the framework of building a broad United Front against fascism, STO helped promote a militant, direct-action approach to antifa work that was later taken up by groups such as Anti-Racist Action.

Staudenmaier's book is the first in-depth study of STO, and it has a lot to say about how STO's story speaks to current political struggles. The book is published by AK Press and is available through major distributors. You can check out online reviews by Ian Scott Horst on the Kasama website and by Nate Hawthorne at Ideas and Action. Also check out Hawthorne's longer essay "Truth and Revolution and Parenting," on the Black Orchid Collective site, which takes Staudenmaier's book as a starting point to explore the issue of parenting in STO and in current left groups.

Many of STO's writings and publications can be found at the Sojourner Truth Organization Digital Archive. For STO's distinctive approach to fascism, see in particular the group's "Theses on Fascism" (1981), Noel Ignatin, "Fascism: Some Common Misconceptions" (1978), and Ken Lawrence, "The Ku Klux Klan and Fascism" (1982).