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Edward Snowden: A Healing Voice
Jacques Depelchin

Like many people, I was surprised to hear of Edward Snowden’s decision to leave his job and move toward Hong Kong in search of a place where he could reconcile his conscience with his understanding of humanity and the US Constitution. Ever since, I have been trying to understand how he had come to a decision that, one may be certain, others contemplated, but then did not pursue for reasons that are not important, at this point, to figure out.

As days, weeks, months passed, most citizens of the US had difficulties in assessing Edward Snowden’s act: was he a hero or a traitor? In the midst of these hesitations, his father embraced him tightly. [His mother may have done the same, but more discretely, so discretely in fact, that no one but herself and Edward and his father know about it]. It was a very encouraging and courageous act even if it had to be handled, as too many things have to, in these days, with the help of a lawyer.

Is this lawyerly mediation of father-son love a sign of the times we are living in?

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Fred Ho, Saxophonist, Composer and Radical Activist, Dies at 56
Ben Ratliff

The baritone saxophonist Fred Ho died on April 12th after a years-long battle with cancer. Mr. Ho’s music is known for straddling the line between classical and jazz.

Fred Ho, a composer, saxophonist, writer and radical activist who wrote politically charged operas, suites, oratorios and ballets that mixed jazz with popular and traditional elements of what he called Afro-Asian culture, died on Saturday at his home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He was 56.

The cause was complications of colorectal cancer, his student and friend Benjamin Barson said. In books, essays, speeches and interviews, Mr. Ho said he had been at war with the disease, his preferred metaphor, since 2006.

Mr. Ho, who was of Chinese descent, called himself a “popular avant-gardist.” He was inspired by the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and by the ambitious, powerful music of African-American bandleaders, including Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and especially Charles Mingus. But he rejected the word jazz, which he considered a pejorative term imposed by Europeans.

Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies
New York City, April 11–13, 2014

NYU Dept. of Performance Studies
721 Broadway, 6th Floor
Keynotes by Fred Moten and Sianne Ngai

To live labor is to negotiate the extended processes of reproducing ourselves and others. To live labor is to engage the material conditions that traverse personhood and thinghood. To live labor is to attend to the forces, resonances, and energies that intertwine in the affects and objects of everyday life. "Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies" is a three day interdisciplinary symposium that convenes around these themes, exploring intersections of performance studies and Marxist philosophies.

This event is free and open to the public.

Check back for updates or visit livinglaborconference.tumblr.com

"Capital's Greek Cage" Book Party
Sherry Millner, Ernie Larsen, George Caffentzis
Bluestockings, 172 Allen Street, New York 7PM, April 6, 2014

Join us to discuss essays from four contributors to this new Autonomedia book on the financial crisis in Greece.

“If we are to understand molecular biopolitics then we must see it working in the participatory mechanism of fascism and today’s fascism from below… Führers and inspired leaders do not seem to be important anymore — the small fascist icons can be as many and as interchangeable as sitcom actors and second-rate soccer champions. Participation is virtual — but killing can be real; you can order a gun with the click of a mouse, but the bullet can blow you to pieces.’’ — Clandestina

A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis
Christian Parenti

Several strands of green thinking maintain that capitalism is incapable of a sustainable relationship with non-human nature because, as an economic system, capitalism has a growth imperative while the earth is finite. One finds versions of this argument in the literature of eco-socialism, deep ecology, eco-anarchism, and even among many mainstream greens who, though typically declining to actually name the economic system, are fixated on the dangers of "growth."

All this may be true. Capitalism, a system in which privately owned firms must continuously out-produce and out-sell their competitors, may be incapable of accommodating itself to the limits of the natural world. However, that is not the same question as whether capitalism can solve the more immediate climate crisis.

Because of its magnitude, the climate crisis can appear as the sum total of all environmental problems -- deforestation, over-fishing, freshwater depletion, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, chemical contamination. But halting greenhouse gas emissions is a much more specific problem, the most pressing subset of the larger apocalyptic panorama.

And the very bad news is, time has run out. As I write this, news arrives of an ice-free arctic summer by 2050. Scientists once assumed that would not happen for hundreds of years.

Dealing with climate change by first achieving radical social transformation -- be it a socialist or anarchist or deep-ecological/neo-primitive revolution, or a nostalgia-based localista conversion back to a mythical small-town capitalism -- would be a very long and drawn-out, maybe even multigenerational, struggle. It would be marked by years of mass education and organizing of a scale and intensity not seen in most core capitalist states since the 1960s or even the 1930s.

Nor is there any guarantee that the new system would not also degrade the soil, lay waste to the forests, despoil bodies of water, and find itself still addicted to coal and oil. Look at the history of "actually existing socialism" before its collapse in 1991. To put it mildly, the economy was not at peace with nature. Or consider the vexing complexities facing the left social democracies of Latin America. Bolivia, and Ecuador, states run by socialists who are beholden to very powerful, autonomous grassroots movements, are still very dependent on petroleum revenue.

A more radical approach to the crisis of climate change begins not with a long-term vision of an alternate society but with an honest engagement with the very compressed timeframe that current climate science implies. In the age of climate change, these are the real parameters of politics.

Hard Facts

The scientific consensus, expressed in peer-reviewed and professionally vetted and published scientific literature, runs as follows: For the last 650,000 years atmospheric levels of CO2 -- the primary heat-trapping gas -- have hovered at around 280 parts per million (ppm). At no point in the preindustrial era did CO2 concentrations go above 300 ppm. By 1959, they had reached 316 ppm and are now over 400 ppm. And the rate of emissions is accelerating. Since 2000, the world has pumped almost 100 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere -- about a quarter of all CO2 emissions since 1750. At current rates, CO2 levels will double by mid-century.

Climate scientists believe that any increase in average global temperatures beyond 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels will lead to dangerous climate change, causing large-scale desertification, crop failure, inundation of coastal cities, mass migration to higher and cooler ground, widespread extinctions of flora and fauna, proliferating disease, and possible social collapse. Furthermore, scientists now understand that the earth's climate system has not evolved in a smooth linear fashion. Paleoclimatology has uncovered evidence of sudden shifts in the earth's climate regimes. Ice ages have stopped and started not in a matter of centuries, but decades. Sea levels (which are actually uneven across the globe) have risen and fallen more rapidly than was once believed.

Throughout the climate system, there exist dangerous positive-feedback loops and tipping points. A positive-feedback loop is a dynamic in which effects compound, accelerate, or amplify the original cause. Tipping points in the climate system reflect the fact that causes can build up while effects lag. Then, when the effects kick in, they do so all at once, causing the relatively sudden shift from one climate regime to another.

Thus, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says rich countries like the United States must cut emissions 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 -- only seven years away -- and thereafter make precipitous cuts to 90 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This would require global targets of 10 percent reductions in emissions per annum, starting now. Those sorts of emissions reductions have only occurred during economic depressions. Russia's near total economic collapse in the early 1990s saw a 37 percent decrease in CO2 emissions from 1990 to 1995, under conditions that nobody wants to experience.

The political implications of all this are mind-bending. As daunting as it may sound, it means that it is this society and these institutions that must cut emissions. That means, in the short-term, realistic climate politics are reformist politics, even if they are conceived of as part of a longer-term anti-capitalist project of totally economic re-organization.

Bonny Finberg, "Kali’s Day," and Jill Rapaport, "Duchamp et Moi," Reading
Bluestockings, 172 Allen Street, New York City, 7 PM, March 28, 2014

New Fiction from NYC Downtown Voices
With Bonny Finberg and Jill S. Rapaport

Join Bluestockings for an evening of fiction traversing the literary stomping grounds from New York City to Paris, Kathmandu, and beyond, with two of New York’s sharpest, funniest, and most evocative downtown writers, Bonny Finberg and Jill S. Rapaport, each reading from their new books. In Kali’s Day, a dysfunctional Manhattan family–cross-dressing father, pot-dealing stepmother, and thrill-seeking, graffiti-artist daughter–go on a trip to Nepal, where they take different spiritual paths, some leading to insanity and prison, others to sainthood. Jill S. Rapaport’s debut collection, Duchamp et Moi and Other Stories, a tour-de-force of short fiction, dealing with subjects from jobs (held and hated as well as sought and fantasized about) to the varieties of affection, figuring among them the complexities of the family and those of relationships with men.

David Ranney on “The New World Disorder”
An Insurgent Notes Presentation

DATE: Sunday, April 6, 2014
TIME: 4:00 PM
PLACE: Room 5414, CUNY Graduate Center, Fifth Avenue & 34th Street, New York City

David Ranney has just published his latest book New World Disorder: The Decline of U.S. Power (2014). Ranney, author of Global Decisions, Local Collisions: Urban Life in the New World Order (2003) argues that the global system that President George H. W. Bush first called the New World Order is now in a deep systemic crisis and has become a new world disorder.

The political and economic instability that rages around the world, Ranney contends, cannot be attributed to simply a great recession. The global crisis that we face today is inherent in capitalism itself and has appeared historically again and again. Ranney lays out the source of today’s new world disorder and explains its historical precedents. He then raises critical questions about the future.

As the crisis deepens, players around the world are lining up to knock the U.S. out of its self-proclaimed position as the most powerful nation on earth. What are some possible outcomes? Are we doomed to live through a long period of narrow political bickering, a deteriorating environment, declining living standards, permanent war, and government surveillance? Will super global corporations enforce a new and possibly brutal form of capitalism that is removed from the reach of any particular government? Will we see the frightening emergence of 21st Century fascism? Or will we find a way toward a global system based on liberty, equality and environmental sustainability that aims to meet the needs of humanity and the planet?

David Ranney has been a faculty member of the College of Urban Planning and
Public Affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago. Ranney has also been a factory worker, a labor and community organizer and an activist academic. He is the author of four books and numerous articles and monographs on issues of employment, labor and community organizing and U.S. trade policy. In addition to his writing, he gives lectures on economic policy and politics and also finds time to be an actor and director in a small community theatre.

He will be speaking about the major themes of his new book and answering questions from those in attendance.

For more information, email editors@insurgentnotes.com.

COINTELPRO and Divisive Hate
Bill Weinberg, World War 4 Report

The very point of the FBI's COINTELPRO strategy of the 1960s was paranoia, divisive hatred, and ultimately cannibalization of radical opposition movements in the United States. And it was grimly successful. Now that there are signs that US police agencies are reviving such tactics, it is imperative that activists learn from the mistakes of their counterparts two generations ago, and find rational, principled, humane and above all tactically astute ways to respond.

The FBI's own webpage on COINTELPRO (from a section entitled "FBI Records: The Vault") states that the agency launched "COINTELPRO—short for Counterintelligence Program—in 1956 to disrupt the activities of the Communist Party of the United States. In the 1960s, it was expanded to include a number of other domestic groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Black Panther Party. All COINTELPRO operations were ended in 1971. Although limited in scope (about two-tenths of one percent of the FBI's workload over a 15-year period), COINTELPRO was later rightfully criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging first amendment rights and for other reasons."

The ABC's of Squatting In NYC
7:00 PM Thursday, February 27, 2014

Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space
155 Avenue C, Lower East Side

Beyond the ideologies associated with the urban lore of squatting are practical knowledge and hands-on skills necessary to reclaim abandoned public space. Activists Frank Morales and Bill Timesup will lead a discussion about occupying neglected buildings and vacant lots to restore them to usefulness and vitality.

Morales, a Lower East Side native and political activist whose work with squatters dates back to the 1970's when he served as an Episcopal priest in the Bronx, and Bill Timesup, founder of the environmental action group Time’s Up! and co-founder of MoRUS, will share the vast resources gleaned from their combined experiences.

Presentation will include slide show and Q&A on tools, building systems, and nuts and bolts of squatting in New York City in 2014.

$5 suggested donation at the door

More information on Facebook.

Second New York City Feminist Zine Festival,
Barnard College, March 1, 2014

The NYC Feminist Zine Fest is back! In 2012, Elvis Bakaitis and Kate Angell launched the first Feminist Zine Fest - an event that packed the Brooklyn Commons to the gills. An expanded organizing team has worked hard to bring it back this year!

More than 30 amazing zine makers will come together at Barnard College to share their work. There will be zine readings, workshops, and of course oodles of fun and colorful zines.

WHEN: Saturday, March 1st, 2014 ~ 1pm to 6pm

WHERE: Barnard College (116th St and Broadway), James Room

It's free and open to the public.

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