In the Streets

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The Rebellion of the Poor Comes to Grahamstown

The rebellion of the poor has been spreading from town to town, from squatter camp to squatter camp, since 2004. Last week it arrived in Grahamstown.

There is no third force, political party or communist academic behind our struggle. It is oppression at the hands of the African National Congress that has driven us into the rebellion of the poor. We are in rebellion because we are being forced to live without dignity, safety or hope.

Bright Sky over North Africa
by Christopher Z. Hobson

The sky is bright over northern Africa, not only because of the burning government buildings and police stations, but because of the new dawn of mass struggle and potential liberation. Since Jan. 14, less than three weeks ago, the Ben Ali dictatorship in Tunisia has fallen and its successor regime has been shaken up several times, the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt has suffered a mighty blow from ever-growing protests seeking the president’s downfall, and more restrained demonstrations have started against the Saleh dictatorship in Yemen. The situation changes hour by hour and people all over the world hope for the protesters’ success. Here are a few notes in summary form.

1. It Can Be Done. No one would have said in December that the people would rise up, destroy one dictatorship, and threaten a second. The Tunisian overturn started with the protest by suicide of a single street vendor. Tens of thousands of ordinary people—workers, students and graduates, neighborhood residents, caravans from provincial cities—brought the government down within a month. Ordinary working and poor people, invisible and despised in “normal” times, are in fact the decisive force in history. Without their actions all reforms turn out empty. When they act, they can shake heaven. And they can win.

The Tunisian Revolution: Initial Reflections Mohammed A. Bamyeh At the moment it is abundantly easy to sense everywhere in the Arab World elation at what appears to be one of greatest events in modern Arab history. A genuine popular revolution, spontaneous and apparently leaderless, yet sustained and remarkably determined, overthrew a system that by all accounts had been the most entrenched and secure in the whole region. The wider implications beyond Tunisia are hard to miss. Just as in the case of the Iranian revolution more than three decades ago, what is now happening in Tunisia is watched by all in the Arab world--as either a likely model of the transformation to come in their respective countries, or at least as a badly needed source of revolutionary inspiration. The Iranian revolution, too, had unexpectedly toppled what then seemed to be the most entrenched and secure regime in the region. Now the Tunisian revolution appears to be part of a more immediate pattern; mass demonstrations had been taking place in Algeria and Jordan, and virtually all commentators are drawing parallels to their own countries. Since the popular uprising in Sudan that toppled Jafar Numeiry in 1985, there has been no genuine (and equally peaceful) popular revolt against an Arab regime. And the outcome, thus far, of the Tunisian revolution of 2011 seems more promising than that of Sudan in 1985, where the military took over and diffused the revolutionary moment. In the case of Tunisia, the army has remained on the sidelines, and the transition is thus far perfectly constitutional—although more radical voices of the revolution are calling for immediately drafting a completely new constitution. Time and future research will of course tell us more about the exact dynamics of this historic moment, which is continuing to unfold, as well as its regional ramifications. At this point, only some preliminary reflections are possible.
New York City's CAP Your Landlords or Bosses Cooperative Action Project Happy New Year! Hot on the heels of a successful Noise Demo, New York City is back at it. We'd rather live in a world with no bosses or landlords, but until then we're ready to CAP 'em. The Cooperative Action Project (CAP) is working in the five boroughs, organized using a model popularized by the folks in the Seattle Solidarity Network. CAP is a network of volunteers in New York City that use collective action to win battles against bosses and landlords. It was founded by a group of New York City anarchists, but is open to all who are interested in our core principles:
Almost Telegraphic Franco "Bifo" Berardi Many things to say and little time to say them. 1. A look at the scene late in the first decade. The hope Obama is dissolved and the European crisis erupts. A new logic is installed in the heart of European life from the Greek financial crisis: Merkel, Sarkozy and Trichet have decided that European society must sacrifice their current living standards, the public education system, its civilization, to pay the debts accumulated by the financial elite. A kind of directory has been taken over the Union, reaffirming the bankrupt dogmas of neoliberal monetarism: reduced labor costs, cuts in social spending, privatization of education, impoverishment of everyday life. Projecting the shadow of a long-term recession on the future of the last generation it has become blackmail. While the horizon looks dark in the European theater events are also produced unpredictable, disturbing and exciting at the same time. I see the horsemen of the apocalypse and I like the sound of galloping horses.
"Hope Against Hope: A Necessary Betrayal" Nicolas What has been taken from them to make them so angry? Hope, that's what. Hope, and the fragile bubble of social aspiration that sustained us through decades of mounting inequality; hope and the belief that if we worked hard and did as we were told and bought the right things, some of us at least would get the good jobs and safe places to live that we'd been promised. - Laurie Penny, New Statesman A single image from a day of movement marks out competing visions of hope. A boot through a Millbank window fed the dreams of resistance that many in the Left have been craving since talk of austerity started. The same boot posed a question that plays out in the university occupations that preceded it and have since blossomed in its wake: what is it exactly that we are hoping for? The question of how students have inspired people to act, engage and organize to combat the Government’s austerity plans is an important one. It is one that also potentially contrasts with some of the views of students themselves. For let’s be clear – it is not necessarily (or even principally) the University or its defence that mobilizes people’s desires and dreams outside the student movement. Defending the ‘right to education’ may be what sparked student revolts, but those of us who are not students have been drawn in because we want, more than anything, to resist and fight. And to resist and fight you need to know that resistance is possible, that you will not be alone, and that you can win. For the most part the resistance so far to the regime of austerity has been rote and uninspiring – a betrayed strike here, a sacked workforce there.
"Abandoning Illusions, Preparing to Fight" Franco Berardi What is happening in Rome and in many other Italian cities, what happened in London only few days ago, marks the beginning of the new decade. It’s going to be a decade of conflict, of the self-defense of society against a ruling class that is violent and corrupt, against financial capitalism that is literally starving the social sphere, against the mafia, that is using power to embezzle social resources.
Europe Calling: This Is Just the Beginning! Uniriot Roma …You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows: occupation of universities everywhere in Europe, blockage of the cities, manif sauvage, rage. This is the answer of a generation to whom they want to cut the future with debts for studying, cuts of welfare state and increasing of tuition fees. The determination of thousand of students in London, the rage of those who assault the Italian Senate house against the austerity and the education cuts, has opened the present time: this is because the future is something to gain that starts when you decide collectively to take risk and to struggle.

Riots Break Out in Rome as Berlusconi Wins Vote of Confidence

The center of Rome is under siege. As the House was voting the confidence to a moribund Berlusconi government (which he won with a 2 votes margin, which means that his agony is just extended) thousands of demonstrators of the "Movements United Against the Crises" tried to reach the Parliament. As a result riots broke out in the most central streets of the city (Via del Corso, Via del Babbuino, Piazza del Popolo, etc.) which are usually one of the favorite mainlands of the global tourist industry.

The Return of King Mob Armin Medosch The student demonstrations against the rise of tuition fees, the fourth of which took place yesterday, 9 December 2010, signals the return of King Mob to the streets of London. King Mob was the name of a British Situationist splinter group formed in the early 1970s which took its name from the Gordon Riots of June 1780, in which rioters daubed the slogan "His Majesty King Mob"' on the walls of Newgate prison, after gutting the building, Wikipedia informs us.
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