An Interview with 'Agency'
Separate from one another, Jen Angel and I each had an idea to create "an anarchist PR project." When we came together and started talking about what it could look like, we had a lot of the same ideas and so we came up with the concept and elements for Agency. This felt very organic because both my and Jen's activism and paid work has been around the intersections of media, publicity, and social movements and social justice struggles. Personally, I'm interested in how the media captivates and compels the public around spectacles and sensationalism. Right after the WTO protests in Seattle, I was involved in organizing many of the mass-actions that followed in DC and other places - and was involved in efforts that tried to give a more honest perspective to the media on anarchists participation in those actions. There's a history of media bastardizing anarchists, and a history of anarchists either shying away from or outright rejecting the media, and also of watering down our politics in fear the media will misrepresent us. I want to explore what it looks like to challenge false perceptions of anarchism, and also to challenge the tactics and approaches anarchists may take out of habit rather than what might actually be best for advancing our ideas and cause.
"The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China"
A Book Review
The Monthly Review, since its inception, has been carrying on some of the best works in radical political economy. Economists Paul Baran, Paul Sweezy, and Harry Magdoff set out the analytical foundations of what has come to be called the Monthly Review School. Karl Marx, having written in the nineteenth century, wrote about a particular phase of capitalism, which was predicated less on oligopolies than today, although it was moving in that direction. In the best tradition of a historical-materialist approach, which seeks to understand the world as dynamic, rather than static, Monthly Review writers have realized that the organization of capitalism has changed. While the general driving force, the structural imperatives of increased expansion and accumulation of capitalism remains, the way it goes about doing so is inherently different. Competition, as we commonly think of it, has ended with the rise of monopoly capitalism-a system in which competition is between only handfuls of large firms. This is not the result of greedy individuals, but, rather, part of a larger systemic feature of capitalism. What sets the Monthly Review School apart is not just the commitment to keen intellect, but the ability..
Kind of Blue
Contextualizing the Ebola Crisis, Humanitarian Imperatives, and Structural Deficits
Miles Davis's 1959 record release describes my passport perfectly. It's Kind of Blue. It's a bit faded from passing between fingers, under plastic windows, held in teeth as I've adjusted backpack straps, or tipped ungracefully into the Nile. It is so well traveled that it has begun to pale but definitely distinctly navy enough to be considered "blue". To be specific, this blue passport is not Mercosur. It is not Brazilian, Argentinian, Paraguayan or Uruguayan. Nor is it Libyan, Botswanan, or Yemeni. I wasn't born in Canada or Australia, nor Kenya, or Belarus. It's that impervious kind of blue of "vigilance and justice" that comes with the red and white stripes connoting U.S. citizenship. I would argue, that along with a few of its Western European counterparts, this is possibly one of the most benefit bearing items in the world. With a going rate of anywhere from 300 to 10,000 USD, this blue passport allows me to enter 174 countries unannounced, to jump on a plane and go…no interviews, no green card lotteries, police clearance certificates, medical examinations, long queues, impossible evidence of financial support, a friend in the Embassy, or exorbitant fees. As symbolic of U.S. citizenship, freedom of movement, opportunity, stability, and most of all, privilege, it is in many ways invaluable. A recent observation of the beneficial nature of having this little biometric tracking device in my back pocket is that it also serves as a "get out of jail free" card, more precisely, a "get out of Ebola Land" card. In other words, in case of emergency, this blue passport affords you the opportunity to get evacuated, while everyone else stays behind.
Conversing with Rattlesnakes
An Introduction to Deep Ecology
My first experience with the theory of Deep Ecology happened many years before I ever knew about the philosophy or any of its particulars. I had just begun working for a wilderness therapy outfit deep in the blood-red, sandstone heart of Southern Utah, and part of the training for the job required me to read the book "The Anatomy of Peace" by the Arbinger Institute in preparation for a several-day seminar based on the concepts of the book. The book, a staple in the mental health industry, presented a very simple thesis: there are two distinct ways that we see other people, as objects or as people. When we see others as objects, as either a tool to get something we want or as an obstacle in the way of something we want, we essentially dehumanize them and make them "other." When we see others as humans like ourselves, with similar dreams, goals, insecurities, and fears, it becomes impossible to see them as tools or obstacles, and we must fully recognize the humanity in each party. The Arbinger institute uses some specific language to help us understand and implement this theory: when we are seeing others as humans like ourselves, with hopes, dreams, desires, and fears like us, we have a 'heart at peace,' and when we see others as less than ourselves we have a 'heart at war.' We all objectify others everyday in large or small ways. It can be as simple as insulting someone who inconveniences you while driving or stereotyping someone you see walking down the sidewalk. It is so common and normalized that it's terrifying. This objectification is the first step in creating systems that allow for the terrible realities of slavery, genocide, racism, sexism...