Originally posted to It’s Going Down
Several years ago, the idea of ‘Men’s Rights Activism’ (MRAs) seemed ludicrous, bizarre, completely fringe, and safely confined to the bowels of the internet. But now in the wake of shooting sprees, continued attacks on Planned Parenthood, and a recent call for global rallies, this passivity seems misguided in the face of our present reality. Currently, MRAs are part of a growing ‘Dark Enlightenment,’ which hosts an increasing variety of writers, blogs, podcasts, and presentations at conferences across the US. This current is also connected to and working in tandem with the growing Alternative Right and White Nationalist movements, which are finding new adherents and audiences within the space opened up by Trump’s campaign. This weekend, MRAs under the leadership of Roosh V and through the website, Return of Kings, a website that attacks feminism and bolsters ‘neo-masculinity,’ attempted to leave the internet and carry out rallies across the US to promote their pro-rape, pro-patriarchy, and anti-woman agenda.
The rallies themselves were failures in the sense that they were cancelled as public events. Groups across the country were mobilized and counter-demonstrations were held and cracks also began to show within far-Right formations themselves. While Roosh V got a massive amount of publicity and surely more people with reactionary politics will be drawn to him, at this point, his group was still not able to muster the forces needed to hold demonstrations in the street. But while the rallies themselves were not successful, the important thing for revolutionaries and autonomous anti-capitalists to understand is that these events are attempts by our enemies to muster strength and act within society in a real way. From Men’s Rights Activists to the Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN) marching in a Christmas parade, to fascists and racists working within the Trump campaign, all of these forces are trying to leave the confines of the internet and make their way towards the streets.
Moments from an anti-Roosh V protest in Albuquerque, NM on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Check out my story for more. pic.twitter.com/QlL4Zu234E
— David Lynch (@RealDavidLynch) February 7, 2016
Another example can be seen in the lead up to the Malheur occupation, a variety of online and paramilitary formations argued and attempted to organize themselves in order to pull off the physical action; and in many ways they succeeded. While across the internet people laughed while posting hashtags of #YallQada and #YeeHad and watched militia members become furious over a bag of plastic dicks, the point was still that the militia members were able to leave the internet and produce something real. Despite the mountains of online bile mounted against them, they remained unchallenged by other autonomous forces until they were smashed by the State.
On the side of the Left, Bernie Sanders supporters recently in the build up to the Iowa Caucus, held demonstrations and marches and in New York, and even marched to the site of the birth place of Occupy Wall Street, drawing connections between an autonomous movement and their chosen electoral candidate. As anarchists, we find these connections to be unwanted and foolish. Occupy broke out of the mold of Left politics as usual: reform, demands, political hierarchy, working within the system, etc. But regardless, the reality is still there, as millions of young people, students, low-wage workers, and others fed up with politics as usual flock to the Sanders campaign in the hopes that their lives will materially change. If we want the social terrain to be different, if we want to expand the capacity to create autonomy and also push back against the forces that immiserate our lives, we are going to have to organize ourselves, act, and make connections with those around us. This work isn’t easy, it isn’t fun, and it is not without consequence.
To do so, we have to use the online infrastructure that we have in front of us towards this goal while pushing out beyond the internet at the same time. We hope that IGD is part of a push in this direction. Regardless of what we decide to do, our enemies are and are going to continue to do so. It’s also important for us to take a step back and remember, that in many ways, this is what anarchist projects in the last several decades have already done. From the massive mobilizations against”free-trade” summits to the current Black Lives Matter rebellions, we have pushed for protest to expand into open revolt and bring in social actors and antagonists that exist outside of and against the stale ghettos of activism, the Left, and “social justice.” Even the day to day projects that many anarchists have been involved in throughout the years, from feeding poor and homeless people in public parks with groups like Food Not Bombs to running infoshops, bookstores, and community centers, to doing the hard and meticulous work of operating solidarity networks and housing defense groups, all point to a trajectory that has the potential to reach out side of a set milieu of people.
But the question then becomes: why does it not often do so? Why do our projects often remain locked with a subculture as opposed to spilling out across the social terrain? How is context important, based not only on material conditions, but what feels possible around us and the realities that people are dealing with? Why do radicals often segment themselves off into small pockets working around different projects, growing weaker apart instead of attempting to find common ground? There are no easy answers, but in asking the hard questions, we can begin to move forward.
In that spirit, let’s get to the news.
Anti-Patriarchy and Anti-Fascist
MRAs were no-show to their own meetup. The counter rally occupied the space and took turns with a RooshV piñata! pic.twitter.com/vuASYBAYqO
— ANTIFA Philadelphia (@PhillyANTIFA) February 7, 2016
Counter demonstrations against Roosh V and the Return of Kings website were held across the world, and took place in the US, Canada, New Zealand and in the UK. It appears that Roosh did give a talk in Toronto, Canada. If you have a report from a counter-action or pictures, please send them to us! A question that arises out of these counter-mobilizations becomes: what do we do when they don’t show up? Seems some groups used the opportunity to hold rallies and conduct outreach of their own.
On the 6th of February, a “men’s rights” meetup organized by Daryush “Roosh” Valizdeh was planned for the Cross Street Market in Baltimore, MD as one of 165 similar meetups on an “International Meetup Day.” Roosh is infamous for calling for the legalization of rape as well as for preaching hatred against women in general and GLBT people in particular. The Baltimore Bloc organized a counterprotest against these pro-rape men, and not a single one of them could be found at their Baltimore meetup location.
Participants in the Baltimore meetup were supposed to show up at Cross Street Market and ask for directions to the nearest pet shop as a signal to oneanother. The only reference to that found at the Cross Street Market was a sign in the hands of protesters. Meanwhile, some of the women speaking in front of the Cross Street Market recounted their own experiences as rape survivors. They had the courage to show up, Roosh’s “Return of Kings” crew did not.
Three days before the event, Roush’s “Return of Kings” website and Twitter posts claimed the event was cancelled but activists suspected a ruse. Another protest in New York City against another of these meetups surrounded a hotel where one of these “men’s rights” meetups was suspected of having shown up. In Baltimore protesters took no chances. At one point a black SUV with a bunch of men inside was spotted leaving the area, but they turned out to be cops, not Roosh’s thugs.
The Malheur occupation near Burns, Oregon continues to drag on, as FBI have stationed roadblocks outside of the wildlife refuge and the four militia members holed up inside continue to post videos and rants to social media.
AntiFascistNews has a new article worth reading about using splits within far-Right organizations to our benefit. They write:
By highlighting their own infighting we can continue to show their weak points, disable their ability to create compelling narrative or fronts, and maintain their position on the fringes. Part of this is allowing them to walk themselves into corners, which they often do through their own bizarre political ideas and their ability to attract those with political egos. In the case of Heimbach, we can continue to highlight his homophobia in an effort to not only alert the public to his disgusting ideas, but also to call the attention his fellow fascists. The more they clash internally, the weaker they will be. For anti-fascist organizing, this is always going to weaken the opposition and make those white nationalists that do creep up even easier to marginalize.
Marketed to techies and yuppies who work so much they don’t even has time to eat, Soylent 2.0 is being mass produced and branded as an ‘alternative to food,’ and meant to be consumed in place of every meal. What’s interesting is that the logic for its existence grows out of the increasingly long hours that those in the tech industry are working. In a similar vein, Vice News also recently ran a story about how living out of a car or van while working remotely is the new ‘American Dream.’
But this reality for millions of Americans is just as out of reach as winning the lotto or playing in the Super Bowl. Millions of homeless, poor, working-class, and increasingly middle-class people are being pushed out of big cities and are being forced to commute farther and farther to their place of employment. This helps to break up communities and keep workers from being concentrated in one area. Unable to find the time to meet, plan, and organize, much less suck down a bottle of Soylent, people’s lives more and more are based around working and recovering from work – except in the case of the monied classes and uber rich. No wonder we are seeing the growth of Soylent and dreams of living in a van or buying a tiny home. It’s important that we understand the system is recuperating our desires for any semblance of a decent life, and offer nothing but passionate revolt instead.
We also should point to the real class dynamics at work here. For yuppies and those with access to money, they can appear to buy their way out of grief. For the rest of us, we have only servitude. Fuck, it’ll probably be us making the Soylent or driving the trucks to Whole Foods. This system is great at promising that the fix to the latest nightmare is just around the corner. But in this civilization, its only the latest act in an ongoing horror show.
Mexico on Fire
In a recent interview by James Tracey with Hilary Klein, the author discusses her new book on Zapatista women, entitled, Compañeras: Zapatista Women’s Stories, she states:
Definitely. In this country, women’s issues are often framed as a very individual problem. With campus violence, for example, for a long time, cases of sexual assault were treated as isolated incidents. In Zapatista territory, women addressed the problem of domestic violence by working to change an institutionalized culture of violence. They included women’s right to live free of violence in the Women’s Revolutionary Law, they fought for a ban on alcohol in Zapatista communities, and they have carried out ongoing political education and consciousness-raising about violence against women. There might be some interesting lessons here for the women fighting to change the culture of violence on college campuses.
As far as Hillary Clinton’s run for president, I think the main lesson there is that Zapatista women provide an example of what women’s leadership can look like without emulating traditional masculine leadership or the exploitative power dynamics inherent in capitalism.
The Zapatista project of indigenous autonomy still provides a model of local and regional alternatives to global capitalism. The Zapatistas still play an important role supporting and inspiring other social movements.
In Mexico, for example, after 43 students from a rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa were kidnapped and presumed killed in September 2014, a protest movement erupted against the government’s corrupt and violent involvement in the drug war. The EZLN held a series of public events with family members of the 43 disappeared students and other students from Ayotzinapa, many of whom refer to the Zapatista movement as an important reference point for them. And Zapatista women—and their stories of courage and dignity—remind us that revolutionary struggles cannot achieve collective liberation for all people without addressing patriarchy
Speaking of fighting for autonomy, Dorset Chiapas Solidarity has a new around up of news from the Chiapas region that is worth checking out for news about recent rebellions, revolt, and land defense.
Earth and Animal Liberation
The No New Animal Lab campaign continues to face legal trouble for this attempts at stopping the construction of a animal testing facility in the Pacific Northwest. According to their website:
On January 29th, No New Animal Lab, with representation from the Civil Liberties Defense Center, filed an anti-SLAPP Special Motion to Strike against injunctions filed on behalf of two executives of Skanska USA. Skanska and its key decision makers have been the subject of a year-long protest campaign, organized under the banner of No New Animal Lab, for their $90 million contract to build a large, underground animal research lab for the University of Washington (UW).
The executives who filed these lawsuits complain of residential picketing and chalking in their neighborhoods, but public streets–even those that run through neighborhoods–are traditional public forums that are long established as protected arenas for public advocacy, which includes speech and conduct that some may find offensive. Residential picketing has been upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and is a tactic with a history of use in a variety of social movements, such as labor, forest defense, climate justice, anti-gentrification, and LGBTQ .
The activists and No New Animal Lab (NNAL) are represented by the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), which has represented other activists against corporate lawsuits, including people organizing with the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas. NNAL and the CLDC filed a Special Motion to Strike under Oregon’s anti-SLAPP statute, effectively challenging Skanska’s attempts to quell dissent and direct attention away from their involvement in animal research. The hearing on the motion and preliminary injunctions is set for February 23 – 25 at the Washington County Courthouse in Hillsboro, OR.
— Dragonfly Collective (@Dragonfly_CC) February 2, 2016
Resistance to fracking, natural gas, and pipelines continues across North America. In Conneticut, the group Capitalism vs the Climate took part in a disruption of a city council meeting that sought to pass through (with the support of some environmental groups) a new fracked gas plant. According to the report:
The corporate polluters must have been disappointed, then, when a group of Bridgeport residents and teachers, some of them members of Capitalism vs. the Climate, flooded a short public hearing preceding the city council session with a barrage of comments opposing the proposed fracked gas plant. As 10 year-old Jaysa Mellers spoke out against the proposal, with the words “no coal, no gas, go green!”, a Bridgeport-based member of Capitalism vs. the Climate released a banner tied to a bundle of balloons. The banner floated to the high ceiling, and city councillors and residents read its message: “Fracked gas is environmental racism! No coal, no gas!”
Brittany Groat, a member of Capitalism vs. the Climate, moved to Bridgeport’s Lafayette Boulevard last year, a few blocks away from PSEG’s coal plant. “I had asthma as a child, but it has not acted up for years, until I moved to Lafayette Boulevard. Now, I’m having trouble breathing all the time,” said Ms. Groat. “PSEG’s coal plant is dangerous, but so is the fracked gas plant they want to build. A gas plant exploded in Middletown in 2010, killing six workers. My family, who lived nearby, said they felt the ground shake and things fell off of their shelves. Now, a gas leak is causing thousands of people to evacuate their homes in Los Angeles. Fracking can never be safe.”
Also, a new video has been released about the ongoing resistance at the Unist’ot’en Camp. Check it out below along with these other collected tweets:
— Jorge Barrera (@JorgeBarrera) February 8, 2016
— Native Lives Matter (@NLMcoalition) January 27, 2016
— VICE Canada (@vicecanada) January 26, 2016
In Chicago, people are fighting to save a majority black university from closing due to budget cuts. Check out the tweets below:
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) February 8, 2016
— Chicago Rising (@ChicagoRising) February 8, 2016
— BaburBalos (@BaburRealer) February 8, 2016
— Nancy Osborne (@NancyOsborne180) February 6, 2016
Teachers in Detroit and Chicago also are continuing to fight against attacks by Democrats and Republicans on public education. According to Jerry White:
After decades of relentless budget cutting, teacher layoffs and school closings—accelerated in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash—teachers in Detroit and Chicago have begun a battle that is of immense importance for the entire working class…teachers have been thrust into a conflict with every section of the political establishment, from the two big business parties and the capitalist courts to the corporate-controlled media and the teachers’ unions that falsely claim to defend their interests.
Last month, thousands of Detroit teachers conducted a series of “sick-out” protests that culminated in the shutdown of virtually the entire school system on January 20, the day of President Obama’s visit to the city. The actions were initiated by rank-and-file teachers using social media and carried out independently of and in defiance of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) and its parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
The efforts of the media and the state-appointed emergency manager of the school system to slander the teachers as greedy and indifferent to the needs of their students backfired. Parents vocally supported the sickouts and hundreds of students walked out of their high schools to oppose a witch-hunt against their teachers for “illegal strikes.”
In Chicago, the third largest school district in the US, tens of thousands of teachers and other school employees are battling the demands of Mayor Rahm Emanuel—a former investment banker who served as Obama’s White House chief of staff—to starve the public schools, slash wages and benefits, and funnel even more money to big bondholders and for-profit education firms.
More than three years after the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) betrayed the 2012 strike, leading to the closure of 50 schools and the layoff of more than 1,000 teachers, rank-and-file teachers rebelled against the union and its so-called left leaders, who sought to push through an agreement on behalf of Emanuel to shift pension and health care costs onto the backs of teachers and give school authorities a free hand to expand privately run charter schools.
Last Monday, the CTU’s bargaining committee unanimously rejected the deal after rank-and-file teachers began circulating on social media the details of the sellout, which the CTU had hoped to keep secret.
— M1 (@1stOfMayAA) February 4, 2016
Meanwhile, the situation in Michigan continues to worsen as more cities beyond Flint report unsafe drinking water. According to one report in the NY Times:
But in the next mandated test, three years later, it found that 16 of 34 homes exceeded the limit — one of them by a dozen times. The growing use of road salt in recent winters, it turned out, had raised chloride levels in the river from which Brick drew its water. Undetected, the chloride corroded aged lead pipes running to older homes, leaching lead into tap water.
The town has since added an anti-corrosion agent to its water, but some residents remain wary.
“Why didn’t somebody in the water company realize with all the snow we’ve had in those years that something was going to affect the water?” asked Jeff Brown, 73, whose 1960s-era ranch home was built when lead was allowed in water lines and plumbing. “I hope they’ve learned a lesson.”
The authorities in Brick say the water now meets federal standards. But that is cold comfort to Mr. Brown. “I’m never reassured when they tell you what’s in federal guidelines,” he said. “Who sets the standards?”
Brick is but one example of how lead contamination can elude rules and authorities, potentially for years.
“We need an aggressive program to get rid of lead service lines, starting with an inventory so we know where they are,” said Lynn Thorp, the national campaigns director for Clean Water Action, an advocacy group. “Water systems need to up their game and take this problem more seriously.”
Both scientists and advocates say the rules governing contamination from lead pipes are ridden with loopholes. For example, the E.P.A.’s lead rule requires water systems to test in only a small number of homes with lead pipes — 50 to 100 for large systems — and intervals between testing can stretch to three years.
While Democrats and Republicans alike have been quick to point fingers at each other, as Shannon Jones in a recent article pointed out, the fault lies in the political and business class as a whole:
While the Republican administration of Governor Rick Snyder and Democrats attempt to shift blame for the crisis, Flint residents continue to confront elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. To date, not a single lead pipe in the working class city of 100,000 has been replaced in the aftermath of the crisis.
The response of the Obama administration to the Flint crisis recalls the notorious indifference shown by the George Bush administration in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of the storm that killed 1,800, Bush, abetted by the Democrats, rejected any serious efforts to rebuild devastated New Orleans and Gulf Coast cities, leaving the area to rot.
Now, in the wake of Flint, a man-made disaster, the response of all levels of government is essentially the same. The message of Clinton was unmistakable: residents of Flint are on their own.
This was expressed in Clinton’s praise of inmates at the Ionia state prison who volunteered to donate one-third of their meager $10 monthly stipend to aid the citizens of Flint. Instead of a multibillion federal public works effort to rebuild Flint’s infrastructure, Clinton touts donations from prisoners.
Her only other concrete proposal to help Flint was to send AmeriCorps volunteers to the city. This is a slap in the face to Flint parents, whose children will need, not untrained volunteers, but rather highly qualified professionals to deal with the debilitating effects of lead poisoning.
Clinton absurdly attempted to portray Michigan Democrats as champions of the people of Flint. She declared, “I thank the elected officials who are here and I appreciate greatly the work they are doing at the city, the county and the federal level. I had the opportunity to be with your friend [Senator] Debbie Stabenow who is working hard with your friends Senator Gary Peters and the Congressmen Kildee, Levin and others who are trying to get support and help from the federal government.” She recited the names of the Michigan Democratic Congressional delegation in the same breath as that of professor Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech, who was one of the first to expose lead in the water of Flint, and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who raised the alarm about the lead poisoning of Flint children.
While Edwards and Hanna-Attisha showed genuine perseverance and courage, Michigan Democrats can make no such claim. The emergency manager of Flint, Darnell Earley, who oversaw the switch of the water supply of Flint from Detroit to the polluted Flint river, was a Democrat, as was the mayor of Flint at the time. Indeed, the Flint mayor and Democratic city council toasted the criminal decision to send highly corrosive Flint River water into the homes of the city’s residents.
— Mark Pritchard (@MarkPritchard) January 29, 2016
The Guardian has unleashed a new website that counts, records, and documents information regarding people killed by police in the year of 2016. So far, 92 people have been killed by police this year already in the United States, or close to 2.5 people per day. Check out the site here.
It’s Going Down!
Our crowd funding campaign is winding down. We’ve got a little over a week left on it and we’re still hoping that we can hit over $1,000 dollars in order to print up to 1,000 magazines and send them across the US and beyond. If you haven’t kicked in yet, please do so. We’ll be letting loose the PDF soon as well as taking the loot and turning it into actual magazines. Until then, try and stay up with us here. Special thanks this week to everyone that sent us a kind email thanking us for all the work that we do as well as everyone that submitted a story, piece of analysis, and action report. Keep them coming!