Monday, June 26, 2006

Italian Coop Movement

Frances Moore Lappe visited the coop movement in Emilia Romagna recently. For her interesting article on the extent of this movement see:


http://alternet.org/story/37920/

Sunday, June 25, 2006

More Nanaimo Info

Yesterday I went to Miners Heritage Day in my local park. Must have been several hundred people there, lots of young and old, both Euro-Canadians and and Native People. This event is put on by the South End Neighborhood Association, which I am going to join at their next meeting. As well as putting on the Miners Day, they are also a watch-dog group when it comes to development of the neighborhood. Exactly the sort of local, decentralized, grass roots group an anarchist should be involved with, methinks. Part of the celebration involved a walk around the neighborhood led by a women born here and whose grandfather had been a coal miner. She pointed out individual houses and buildings and gave their history and function. During here childhood in the 1940's and extending well past the 1950's South Nanaimo was a strong community. During this period this neighborhood, comprising an area roughly six blocks long and four block wide had:

a dry goods shop

green grocer

convenience store

grocery

butcher shop

garage

laundry

2 general stores

ice cream parlor

fish and chips joint

bakery

2 hotels

3 bars

school


All the businesses on this list were owned and run by local people.


What's left in South Nanaimo in this glorious era of suburban shopping centers and multinational corporations ? Two convenience stores, one sleazy hotel, two bars. But we do have several crack houses and a Hells Angels Club House, so not all is lost...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nanaimo 1892 and Today

Nanaimo 1892 - Population less than 5000, Had a shoe factory, tannery, cigar factory, 5 breweries, 2 soda water bottlers, a foundry, carriage builder, a steam carriage works, door and window factory, and 2 bakeries. All of these were local industries owned by Nanaimo residents. The 1892 foundry, which operated in one guise or another until the 1980's was by the early 1900's, building locomotives for logging railways!

Nanaimo 2006 - population 76,000. Has no shoe factory, no tannery, no cigar factory, no breweries, no soda water bottlers, no foundry, but it does have half a dozen bakeries. All the missing industries products are imported from afar and/or are produced by foreign multinational corporations.

Twenty Thousand Anarchists

The CGT- (Spain) just held a demo with 20,000 of its supporters. If you want to know what 20,000 anarchists look like and get an insight into anarchism as a peoples movement check out the following:


Photos of the demo:
http://www.rojoynegro.info/2004/10j-reforma-laboral-3
http://www.rojoynegro.info/2004/10j-reforma-laboral-7
http://www.rojoynegro.info/2004/100606-reforma-laboral-concierto
http://www.rojoynegro.info/2004/100606-reforma-laboral-zaragoza
http://www.rojoynegro.info/2004/100606-reforma-laboral-varios


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Chinese Rocks *

According to an article in the latest Monthly Review, there is a resurgence of the Chinese left. The Chinese Communist Party has sought to impose a vicious and barbaric capitalism upon a people who up till then were steeped in egalitarian and class struggle ideology. Justifying the destruction of social services, the lack of trade unions, lousy wages and working conditions, environmental degradation and a level of economic inequality that makes the USA look anarcho-communist by comparison, has become an ever more difficult problem for the Chinese ruling class. Millions of Chinese compare the official ideology – which is still Maoism – with the actual daily practice. In the same way that American radicals compare the decentralist and anti-imperialist American Revolution with the present hyper-imperialist corporate state, so too the Chinese with their Revolution. Millions went through the Cultural Revolution, and while much was xenophobic and anti-cultural, some students and workers took Maoist rhetoric as a reality and tried to introduce self-management. 1. (Maoism had a rhetoric borrowed from populism and anarchism, which is why so many Western New Leftists were attracted to it ) Thus, a re-birth of Maoism is occurring, both inside the CPC and outside it. The horrors of present capitalist development should make these neo-Maoists intransigent about equality and class struggle


However, neo-Maoism is not the only ball game. There is also a middle class liberal left and a Chinese new left influenced by currents other than Marxist-Leninism. 2 For any successful anti-capitalist revolution the three groups will have to work together in some manner, even if not officially. Hard-line “Gang of Four” type Maoism will simply not do. For the Chinese left to be successful it will have to move in the same direction the rest of the worlds social movements are going, toward a non-sectarian, populist and decentralist politics.


A Third Revolution in China 3 would have devastating effects upon corporatism, perhaps even heralding the end of this modern form of feudalism. The Chinese hold a huge part of US debt and by cashing in their US dollars they could devastate the US economy. Nationalization, or better yet, socialization, of foreign corporate assets would be a terrible blow to the corporate capital which saw China as a safe place to invest. A Chinese Revolution that wasn't stridently old-fashioned Maoist would be a major ally of, and impetus for, the European social movements and the similar movements and revolutionary governments of Latin America


For more information see: http://www.monthlyreview.org/0606weil.htm


* A song by the New York Dolls. “Chinese rocks” referring to smack - a good metaphor for US dependence upon Chinese cheap labor made goods.


1. At this point, Mao shut down the Cultural Revolution.

2 Including anarchism. According to Wikipedia, “Libertarian socialist and Anarchist communist currents have been particularly strong in the anti-dictatorship movement and in China's underground Labor Movement. The best known of these in the Western world is the Autonomous Beijing group, one of several groups responsible for organizing the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. More recently, the Associated press has reported the emergence of a distinctly anarchist labor movement in China's old industrial rust-belt...” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_anarchism

3. The first revolution that of 1911, when the Manchu Dynasty was overthrown, the second was the Maoist Revolution of 1949.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Green Hell Revisited.

A couple of days after posting “Green Hell” I got a newsletter in the mail called “Zero Waste” from the Regional District of Nanaimo. To my pleasant surprise, the entire newsletter is devoted to eliminating lawns and creating what they call “zero waste landscaping”. They include statistics. It turns out that Canadians spend $1.4 BILLION on lawns, which is double what they spent in the year 2000. (So the madness is spreading...) 50 MILLION KILOS of pesticides are used every year on these same lawns and mowing an average size lawn with a gas mower creates as much pollution as driving a car 200 miles. They list native spreading plants to use in place of grass and web sites about the subject. Their web site is www.rdn.bc.ca

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Too Convenient?

Ah, the NeoConNazis are salivating over this one. The secret po-lice done found a buncha Ay-rab El Kay-dees makin a great big fertilizer bomb. Gonna blow up a MacDonalds and threaten the Amurrican, er the Canajun waya life!

What an interesting coincidence. The alleged bomb plot appears just when the Harpocrits need it. Makes one think of that other remarkable coincidence called 9-11. The secret police claim they spent two years setting up, oops, INVESTIGATING, the plot. Now I am not ABSOLUTELY sure this is a false flag op., but given the nature of secret police mentality my natural impulse is suspicion. “Intelligence” and what used to be called “the Red Squad” tends to attract nut cases, the sort who will go to any length to impose their right-wing paranoid viewpoint upon the world. As a case in point, the old RCMP Red Squad used to be full of look-out -for -the -commies-under-the-bed types. In the USA, James Jesus Angleton, head honcho of the CIA was such a loon that in 1966 he was claiming that the Sino-Soviet split was only an act to confuse gullible Westerners. There is no crime too vicious for our ruling classes in their psychopathic lust for power and wealth. As such we must take any pronouncements coming from their apparatus of repression with a few bags of salt.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

No Particular Place To Go

The Nanaimo press has its shorts in a knot over the number of pan handlers, homeless, druggies, winos and hookers in the downtown area. True, it is a problem, there have been a number of break-ins in small businesses and more than a few people Joe and Jane Tourist might find scary are hanging around on street corners. The suggested solution, that of driving the underclass out of downtown, is no real solution. All it will do is push them into someone else's neighborhood, creating the situation anew. Nor will harsher laws help, as drug addiction is a social-medical problem and the legal approach does not and cannot succeed. I am pleased to see a fair number of Letters to the Editor, have pointed this out.


Homelessness really didn't exist 35 years ago – other than the real end-of-the-road winos – and the reason it didn't was the existence of many cheap rooming houses called “flop houses”. Anyone could panhandle the price of a room in one of these. Gentrification, by-laws and an insane rise in the price of real estate, wiped out the flops. Homeless people don't want to live in some rule-infested, or religion spouting shelter. Their last shred of dignity and humanity is that they live by their own rules. The flops had only two rules – don't start a fire and no serious fighting. The way to end homelessness is to create a contemporary version of the flop house. But I find that hard to imagine. The do-gooder types will want a great list of regulations, and there goes Mr. Homeless back to his park bench. Property-value obsessed middle class types won't want a flop in their neighborhood and the “small government for the poor, big government for the rich” pseudo-libertarians will howl about the tax-payer expense, if these should be built by the civic government.


Many of the people on the street in the past were institutionalized as mental patients. Right-wing governments closed mental hospital wards and dumped these unfortunates upon us. ( A legitimate response would be to close right-wing governments and dump THEIR occupants on the street.) I also find a certain irony that some folks demanding a “get tough” approach with the underclass, are the very ones who made the down town an ideal place for them. By imposing an “American model” on the city – gutting the downtown business district and moving everything to distant shopping malls – they took the life out of the place, and the losers naturally moved in. Now that an Arts District and an Old Town have been created to revitalize the downtown, the crackheads and crazies are underfoot.


Another problem is that all real solutions are long term. This doesn't help the book shop that just had its front window smashed by drunks. There should be a zone where the rejects are allowed to congregate, rather than pushing them about from neighborhood to neighborhood. We need a Red Light District or Tenderloin, at least until the long term solutions kick in. Creating this zone will of course, be a problem, as anyone residing there or with a business nearby will loudly object – all one needs to do is watch re-runs of DaVinci's City Hall to see the problems a government might encounter trying to set up a Red Light District. The old fashioned pay-off, long a feature of our politics, is in order here. Yes, paying-off the objectors is sleazy, but is probably the simplest method.


The most important of the long-term solutions, treating addiction as a medical, not a criminal problem, faces the most severe difficulty of all. Far too many powerful people benefit from the present barbarism. First off, those who benefit directly from drug illegality - the drug gangs, their “legitimate capitalist” investors and money launderers, corrupt right-wing politicians, and cops on the take. Then there are the even greater number who benefit indirectly. Treat addiction as a medical problem and put the addicts on support and they will no longer do B 'n E's and rob convenience stores. There goes maybe 50% of the crime rate. Many cops, prison guards and Just-Us officials will be left left pulling unemployment insurance. They, like all folks threatened with job loss, will fight to the bitter end, even though their jobs entail a kind of cannibalism. (1) And while our governments have gleefully tossed hospital employees and social service workers into the street, don't expect them to be so eager to try 'reforms' out on their forces of repression.


While the obstacles are enormous, this doesn't mean that humane and rational solutions cannot eventually triumph. Europeans have already moved in that direction and in time Canada will as well, (in spite of the Harpocrits) but only if we put the maximum pressure on our Rulers to make these changes. And one way to do this is to de-legitimize the forces of the drug and poverty status quo. No more polite arguments, no more Mr. and Ms. Nice Guy – expose these people for what they are – corrupt or stupid.


1. The drug laws and the resulting police-prison industrial complex works exactly like the old Soviet Gulag system. People are persecuted, arrested and imprisoned, all suffer and many lives are shortened in the process, all for irrational reasons. Meanwhile, thousands of people make a living off this suffering and work hard to make sure the system remains in place. There ought to be Nuremberg-type trials for the fiends responsible for this situation.


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