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Showing posts from June, 2011

Union Domestication

The other day I attended, along with a small group of comrades, the local Canadian Union of Postal Workers [CUPW] solidarity rally in Toronto.  Due to my previous post, which was an analysis of my own union local's 2008-2009 strike, this rally possessed a synchronistic appropriateness, especially since some of the speakers mentioned that strike in their address to the CUPW workers.  The very same speeches performed by the union bureaucrats at this rally were presented, with marginal difference, at those solidarity rallies my local held in the strike days before we were ordered back to work.

(For those who are unaware of Canadian politics, I should briefly mention that the workers of CUPW are on strike across Canada.  The employer wants to gut their Collective Agreement [this is a strike against concessions] and there is collusion between the employer and the Conservative federal government.)

As I have discussed elsewhere on this blog, trade unions in the centres of capitalism are …

Demanding the Impossible and Being Realistic: analysis of the 2008-2009 CUPE 3903 strike [conclusion]

This is the fourth and final instalment of my analysis of the 2008-2009 Canadian Union of Public Employees [CUPE], local 3903's strike.  (The first part can be found here, the second here, and the third here.)  Again, I have posted this essay because the local (which is also my local) is in its next round of bargaining and hopefully this analysis will remind those involved (some of whom still read my blog) of the problems that disrupted the last round of bargaining.  Since history repeats itself sometimes as farce, this essay series is especially relevant due to the last GMM I attended: the usual suspects, many of whom openly embraced the "right-opportunist" political line of the last strike, attempted to disrupt the bargaining process (again with the same left-sounding language) by arguing for a dubious split in the executive body.

I have delayed posting this final part because (surprise, surprise) most of my readers don't know or care about the labour struggle of a …

The Lack of Complexity in Edel's "Baader-Meinhof Complex"

Recently I've been reading J. Smith and André Moncourt's The Red Army Faction: A Documentary History (Volume 1: Projectiles for the People), which is probably the best book on the RAF ever produced.  [You can purchase it here, at the excellent Kerspelebedeb site that puts out many great lefty books.]  Not only do the authors provide a leftist gloss and breakdown of the history surrounding the RAF, but the book is truly the promised "documentary history"––it contains communiques, pictures, debates, and a host of material never before available in one book and in english.  Since I used to be obsessed with the RAF, especially in my MA years of graduate school, I had been meaning to read this book since it was released.  As much as I understood that the RAF made serious strategic and tactical errors––as much as I now understand the focoist problem of their approach––I could not help but respect the conviction of their anti-imperialist politics, the willingness to die for…

This Ain't Your Grandpa's Communism: Presentation 2

This is the second presentation in a recent event I helped organize.  The first presentation by Baolinh Dang was posted earlier, and the third presentation by Rachel Gorman, as I mentioned in the previous post, is unfortunately unavailable to post since it was delivered creatively and succinctly from the presenter's notes.

After all three presentations there was a lively period of discussion, which branched out into a few fruitful areas, and the event was generally successful.  One significant critique made about the event, however, was concerned with the lack of practical focus: "okay, so all of this makes sense but now what?"; or, what practical and revolutionary suggestions should this analysis lead us to make?; or, how can we connect all of this concretely to our visceral experience of organizing in or social context?  

This critique should be kept in mind when you read the following presentation (which I wrote and delivered) because, theoretical insights aside, it doe…

This Ain't Your Grandpa's Communism: Presentation 1 - "Bombard Stereotyped Politics" [guest post by BD]

In a previous post I promoted an event that I was involved in organizing, the first instalment of a reading series we've called "This Ain't Your Grandpa's Communism."  This first instalment concentrated on how to understand a communist class politics in the context of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other oppressions.  We chose this as our launch topic because we felt it was important, due to the people with whom we are engaged, to define ourselves against the eurocentric communism that is normative where we live and work––a communism that produces crude theory that cannot really, aside from a few token nods, account for the material grounds of other sites of oppression.  (Enaemaehkiw Túpac Keshena, on his blog Speed of Dreams, recently touched on the problems with these stereotypical communist approaches in his discussion of "the white left"––definitely worth a read.)
Since there was definite interest over what was presented at the event, I thought it…

Kanehsatake: The Invasion Continues

The excellent blog Speed of Dreams just posted a news article pertaining to the most recent colonial intervention in Kanehsatake.  For those readers who are unaware of the history of Canadian anticolonial struggles, Kanehsatake has been a site of radical resistance for a very long time.  Most significantly it was the site of the 1990 Oka Crisis (Oka being the name of the nearby settler town), a stand-off between Mohawk revolutionaries and the Canadian state that forced the issue of indigenous liberation into the national consciousness.  The Oka Crisis was an event that threw the colonizer-colonized contradiction into stark relief and forced politically aware Canadians to choose sides: either you supported the Mohawks on the barricades and opposed colonialism, or you supported the armed forces of the Canadian state and thus colonialism.  Whatever side one chose, at that moment in time no one could claim that a significant divide between settler and native did not exist.

It has been ove…

The Freedom of Security: new book by Colleen Bell

My good friend and comrade, Colleen Bell, has just released her first book.  The Freedom of Security: Governing Canada in the Age of Counter-Terrorism, is a theoretical engagement with the security measures implemented post-9/11 that examines how these measures shape our ideas and practices about freedom.  And since Colleen [or, rather, Dr. Bell] is a long time political activist, the theoretical engagement emerges from her own practices and experiences in the real world.

Although The Freedom of Security examines counter-terrorist measures implemented in Canada, because it is always important to link theory to one's own concrete context, her analysis clearly has broader implications.  So those readers who live south of the Canada-US border (as well as in Europe) should also find Bell's arguments salient and applicable to their own situations.  And those of you who are still under the impression that Canada is some socialist wonderland, this book should dispel that myth by demon…

Blogroll Purging

Although I am more than happy to support and advertise numerous blogs that vary in shades of red and black from my own political position––and have had more than one fruitful exchange with fellow travellers who differ from my specific radical commitments––I draw the line when blogs that are left in form turn out to be reactionary in essence.  Twice this week I have been forced to purge my blogroll due to the fact that two blogs, that I was quite happy to support in the past (and one of which was originally a very creative and incisive blog), published entries that, if they were comments on my blog, would be in violation of my comments policy.  And if these guidelines apply to my commenters, then they sure as hell apply to the blogs I support: I will not, for example, support a blog that claims to be left and then publish some homage to colonialism.

The two blogs in question both published flagrant anti-trans posts (that were also badly argued, ahistorical, and completely asinine, but …

Communism and Expression

Perhaps the most "damning" charge levelled against those of us who define as "communist" is the charge that every existing socialism has censored free thought.  State censorship, the war against intellectuals and artists, is used as an example of why communism is opposed to freedom.  For how can it claim to be liberate humanity when there is evidence that the failed socialisms of the past have censored free expression?  And we cannot simply pretend that this question is a false question, even if some ask it for dubious political reasons, because we cannot blind ourselves to the fact that numerous intellectuals and artists, some of whom were rather brilliant, were silenced under actually existing socialism.

The knee-jerk reaction is to point out the hypocrisy of this complaint, arguing that the centres of capitalism have engaged in their own methods of censorship.  As I argued in a much older post, it is clear that Americans are pretty good at censoring what they fi…

Upcoming Event: this ain't your grandpa's communism! (episode 1)

The following event, taking place this Saturday in Toronto, is one that I helped organize.  I'm also going to be speaking briefly on the three person panel––though most of the panel time will go to the brilliant Rachel Gorman.  I know that some of those who read this blog don't live in Toronto, but I know that many of these readers would attend if they could.

The Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee will be launching the 1st Episode of our 3-Part Summer Workshop Series. These workshops are OPEN and FREE to the public. The aim of this educational series is to develop, through lively collective discussion and debates, our understanding of Communist theory and politics in the contemporary era. Ultimately, these will help us understand and shape the struggle against a system that puts profits before the well-being of all peoples!
Please join us for Episode 1: “This Ain’t Your Grandpa’s Communism! Connecting Race, Gender and Sexuality to Class Politics”
Presentation by Professor…

Demanding the Impossible and Being Realistic: analysis of 2008-2009 CUPE 3903 strike [part 3]

This is the next part of an analysis of the Canadian Union of Public Employees [CUPE] local 3903 strike in 2008-2009.  The first part can be found here and the second part can be found here.  Although I am mainly posting this because CUPE 3903 is about to enter its next round of bargaining, and I know that my readership outside of Toronto (and maybe some within Toronto) may not be interested in the strike of a single local, as I noted before, I think the analysis is important because it examines how political line struggle manifests within unions, the limits of trade union consciousness, how to understand right and left lines in these contexts.

Anyhow, after the following section there will be only one more concluding post in this series and I can get back to ranting about other things that my readership as a whole will find more interesting.

(Again: apologies for the format.  In the first post of this series I tried to fix the formatting to resemble my usual posts and it took hours and…