Sunday, October 29, 2006

To The Mexican Consulate!

(This is taken from A-infos -

Yesterday, as many who are reading this probably already know, an amazing
companero, journalist, anarchist, freedom fighter, earth firster, musician, and
human being was shot down and killed in cold blood, along with three other
companeros, by officials employed by the Mexican Government. His name was
Bradley Will, and he was shot at the barricades of Santa Lucia, in Oaxaca,
Mexico, as an indymedia reporter telling the story of the amazing resistance
of people of Oaxaca. For over five months residents have occupied the streets
in an attempt to oust the corrupt, brutal governor Ruiz, and achieve the
dignity, freedom, and autonomy initially sought after by the teacher’s
strike which was so brutally repressed by that same governor.

While it is not yet clear which segment of the Mexican government is responsible, it is clear from the many photos taken during the shooting
that the chief of police, another policeman, and important members of PRI
party which supports Ruiz were involved.

To add insult to injury, President Fox is now using the tragedy of
these deaths as an excuse to bring in federal forces, to restore
“lawfulness.” We can only assume, given the student massacre of ’68,
the history of repression of the Zapatistas by Fox’s military, his
recent threats to invade Oaxaca, and the fact that his own government
is instigated in the murders, that Fox means to repress the rebellion.

Days before we US residents may have been watching Oaxaca, waiting
to “see what happens.” No longer shall we wait. We are now a part of
this unfolding history. If the Mexican Army invades Oaxaca, it will
be with the financial and military support of the US government. We
can not let this happen.

On Monday morning, October 30th, Mexican consulates around the US will
attempt to open their doors, to continue business as usual. But they
will not succeed in doing so, because we will be there to stop them.
At every embassy, at every consulate, we will be there, to remember
Brad, to support the teacher’s strike, to fight alongside Oaxacans
in their struggle for self-determination and autonomy from the corrupt
Mexican government. This call to action against consulates is in line
with what companeros from the APPO have already called for earlier this
week before this shooting.

We already know of many groups who are planning for Monday, and every
day following if necessary. Please spread this call to action as wide
as possible. Spread the word: to activists, teachers, students, earth
firsters, latino social services centers, places where day laborers
gather, anti-racist action groups, food not bombs chapters, peace and
justice organizations, Zapatista solidarity groups, anarchist people of
color chapters, people you work with, your neighbors. Copy and paste this
the whole world wide, and do so quickly. And please translate a version of
this to Spanish as well, and spread it around!

A directory of all the locations of all the Mexican consulates in the US
and Canada can be found at:

In memory of my friend, who I know will be with us in spirit,

a friend and companero of Brad, who is sad, angry, and organizing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Black Cat Is Awake

This is my translation of "Le reveil des chats noirs" which appeared in the French journal, Politis, 7 avril 2005


The Confédération nationale du Travail(CNT- F) (1) is undergoing a revival, due in particular to disaffection with the larger union federations. Meet the members of this trade union which stands for self-management and direct action.

A black cat with hair standing on end, back arched as a sign of anger... In the March demonstrations, one saw the famous black and red CNT flag waving. One could also notice the significant number demonstrators in its ranks, in particular young people. A significant revival, which delights the old militants and gives weight to their arguments.

"If nobody works in your place, nobody decides in your place" This slogan summarizes the operation of the CNT-F for Étienne Dechamps, militant since 1968 of the revolutionary trade union. No hierarchy, "each member has the same authority". Self-management and direct democracy are the precepts. The general assembly is sovereign. "It is a form of control of each one for each one, we won't work for the bosses as individuals", stated Fabrice Christmas, regional secretary of d’Île-de-France. "All is open to debate, including subjects which, perhaps, do not deserve it", analyzes Étienne. Each decision is made by consensus, "And that makes for real militancy! But what can kill the CNT-F, would be to become monolithic "

To adhere to the CNT-F is not to sit around relaxing. Meetings, brain storming sessions, actions, many activities go on outside the work hours. The CNT-F rejects permanent officials, refuses to professionnalize trade unionism and to allow itself to be cut off from the base. Each member adds his contribution. The union helps create militants out of those who are not accustomed to be militant. The CNT-F also helped "to make each individual more autonomous", adds Paco Munoz, pensioner and member for four decades, after a childhood raised in Spanish anarcho-syndicalism: his parents were opponents of Franco. "In the end, it is the improvement of material conditions and ethics, but also to create areas of emancipation"

Paradoxically, a danger for the future of the CNT-F would be to develop too fast. That would complicate its democratic operation. With 4 000 militants, the confederation remains a number of small groups. (2) But it is it less and less so. "The more one is numerous, the more consensus is difficult to reach, the more it is difficult to be democratic, because the number of intermediaries increases", deplores Étienne. However, the CNT-F could attract more and more militants, divorced from the traditional trade-union centrals. "In the ten years to come, there will be a rebirth of class struggle unionism of which the CNT-F could play a part", predicted Emmanuel Coral, 46, ex- CFDT.(3) There are many, like Emmanuel, who criticize "these conglomerates of corrupted notables". The apparatchiks have professionnalised the trade unions and care more about their own situation than their members. When Emmanuel was laid off, he felt abandoned by his union. "I did not interest them anymore because I was no longer working, I was unemployed. The CFDT has little involvement in in the struggles of the unemployed "

The confederal secretary of the CNT-F, Jean-François Grez, felt the same thing in 1988 at the time of the strikes of the postal and telecommunications authorities. Edmond Mayor, secretary-general of CFDT, had treated the members of the CNT-F as a bunch of "black sheep".

Éric Derennes has been with the CNT-F since January 2002. Political militant for a long time, he was close for a while to the CFTC. (4) But, when it came time to join, he felt a hostile environment, little open to new comers: "I had the impression I was disturbing them." All have found with the CNT-F a space of freedom, openness, where militants often meet (because of absence of hierarchy), an antiautoritian sense especially independent of the political parties. The Anarchist Federation tries hard to gather up members from time to time, but the CNT-F is not defined as anarchist. Only revolutionary, but welcome to the libertarians. "They do not constitute a majority", specifies Jean-François Grez, to counter this stereotype of anarchistic trade union which has stuck to the CNT-F for years.

There is much confusion about the history of the CNT-F. Heir of the revolutionary French CGT and the anarcho- syndicalism of the Spanish CNT-FAI at the beginning of the XXe century, the confederation shelters the two tendencies since its creation in 1946. The CNT-F "was used as legal cover for the Spanish organization", explains Étienne Dechamps. (5) However, on the Spanish side, the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) exerted political control of the trade-union organization, and "the Spanish trade unionism thus maintained itself by developing the project of a libertarian communist society", explains the Internet site of the CNT-F. By its radical positions (refusal to be involved in the work's councils, union delegates and coadministration) at the end of the war, the CNT-F fed this anarchistic image.

Late in the 1960s, in spite of some small growth in 1968, the CNT-F came very close to disappearing in 1974. Its existence of little more than groupusculaire also nourishes the stereotype. Its reappearance at the end of 1970 will not put an end to it. More especially another stereotype is associated with anarchistic trade unionism: the CNT-F is seen as violent. The militants, like Étienne Dechamps, are revolted by this generally accepted idea "Where is the violence when 2 000 to 3 000 people die each year at work? "For Éric Derennes," the CNT-F is not violent, it is accused of generating violence because it has other ideas than the large trade-union centrals. The distribution of leaflets, postering can be perceived as violent activities by the other trade unions because it disturbs their inactivity. But that is not a physical violence "It recognizes however, that, during demonstrations, the forces of law and order are fearful. Certain militants play at it in their relationship with the bosses. "In six years with the CNT-F, I never fought anyone, states Fabrice Christmas. But certain employers think that it is necessary to be on guard against us because we are the violent ones. We let them keep this idea ", he continues mischievously. The principle of direct action (occupation of buildings, mass leafletting etc.) asserted by the CNT-F does not embellish this portrait. Work place action is decided by the employees themselves, in a general assembly. The trade union does not impose a policy on them. It ensures only coherence between the actions, without prejudging the form of action "We assert the use of sabotage", Étienne Dechamps, tosses off... (6)

The revival of the confederation has much to do with youth. Since the first university battles in 1986, but especially in 1995 and in the year 2000, many students joined the CNT-F. This encouraged the creation of university sections, the high schools less so. "The existence of a free space, radicalism, its formative role": are possible explanations to these adhesions, according to Étienne Dechamps.

Perhaps also the search for a revolutionary ideal. If the union refuses the adjectives "anarchist" and "violent", the CNT-F asserts that of "revolutionary". Without awaiting the Great Event, the militants speak rather of "transforming the workplace so that everyone can take part, that everyone one is an actor in his-her own life", specifies Fabrice Christmas "the revolution, is not to impose another system, it is to work with all the elements of the group and to make decisions together", theorizes Éric Derennes.

The idea is to make decisions together, but without collaborating with the employers. The CNT-F rejects coadministration and refused for a long time to take part in the union delegate elections. The work's councils are too compromised an institution. Except in exceptional cases, it prefer to remain outside this institution. The debate over works council elections created a scission with the CNT-AIT , an organization much smaller than the CNTF (known as CNT F Vignolles after # 33 rue Vignolles in Paris). (7)

Compromising with employers is the reproach the CNT-F has for the other trade unions, which reject this criticism. No relation is possible with the hierarchies of the large union centers. If there is inter-union activity sometimes, it is with the rank and file. "That happens often with some people", explains Éric Derennes. "But that occurs in the field of action." Except when it is the action of union functionaries. Because the CNT is not recognized by the State in negotiations, like "the great" CFDT, CGT, FO and others. Thus the disputes are permanent. The CNT-F "is very often excluded from the organizing of trade union processions", indicates Étienne Dechamps. In 2001, it had even been prohibited to march on May 1.

1. I write the name as "CNT-F" to distinguish it from the Spanish CNT.

2. There is some question of the actual number. Wikipedia says 1200. I find it very unlikely that this union would lose three quarters of its membership in a year. Revolutionary unions tend to be much looser than regular ones, and there is no automatic dues check-off, so this figure could refer to paid up dues, but not the actual people who are involved in CNT-F activities

3. CFTD is the Socialist Party trade union central

4. CFTC is the Catholic trade union central

5. The Spanish CNT was in exile after Franco's counter-revolution. Several hundred thousand CNT members were murdered by the Francoist fascists.

6. "Sabotage" has an ominous tone in English, being linked to arson, bombing and machine-wrecking. All it means it reality is working slowly or doing poor work, stopping a machine etc, a way of hitting the boss in the pocket book while still on the job. It does not mean violence or destruction.

7. Actually, what happened is a tiny group split off from the CNT-F and also called itself the CNT, but this group probably has no more than 100 members and is just a propaganda group.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Emma Goldman on YouTube

Thanks to Prestos Ramblings Blog you can hear and see Emma Goldman in an old newsreel. See 

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Country in Steep Decline

Twenty-five years of authoritarian right wing “free lunch” policies have taken their toll. The US is now the world's most powerful Third World Country.

USA infant mortality is #36 just ahead of Croatia

Life expectancy # 37

Literacy, #62

Aids/HIV infection 65th highest out of 166 countries (1)

On the Gini index of inequality the USA is # 92, just above Guinea Bissau (2)

Prison Population - per 100,000

USA - 686

Canada 102

Venezuela 68

Denmark 59
Norway 59

Sweden 68

France 85

Holland 93 (3)

Over 40 percent of US inmates are jailed on nonviolent drug related crimes. (4)

Homicide Rate, per 100,000, (year 2000)

USA 6.1

Sweden 1.97

France 1.79

Canada 1.76

Holland 1.42

Japan 1.10

Norway, 1.09

Denmark 1.09

Austria 0.96

Persons killed on the job

USA = 14,000 (5)

Canada – 900 (6)

France 780 (7)





5. ibid



Friday, October 06, 2006

Latin American Populism

Here is a brief overview of Latin American movements I wrote for a discussion group.

First off, Mexico. In the state of Chiapas, the Zapatista Movement has created a web of autonomous, direct democratically governed villages as well as coops and land reform. The State of Oaxaca has seen a similar movement among indigenous villages as well as the openly anarchist CIPO-RFM. (also a village federation) As I write there is a situation of dual power in Oaxaca with the different movements coming together to non-violently remove the corrupt PRI government. The CIPO-RFM and the Zapatistas have very close relations with the Spanish and French anarcho-syndicalists (more on them later)

In Costa Rica there is a very strong anti-globalist movement that has influenced one of the main parties, coming within a hair's breadth of being elected in the last election.

In Venezuela the democratically elected Chavez government has enacted land reform, built cooperatives, instituted a certain level of self-management and decentralization at the village and neighborhood level. Venezuela is working on a Bolivarian concept, by which the individual nations of Latin America ought to come together for mutual benefit.

In Argentina, while the neighborhood assembly movement has largely faded, due to the meddling of political parties, at least 10,000 workers remain in the worker-managed factories.

In Bolivia, the indigenous majority is, for the first time being empowered. They have rejected statist nationalization of the water, preferring a form of community control. The wealth of the natural resources, chiefly natural gas, will be used to improve the lives of the majority, instead of fattening the profits of some multinational.

In Chile, the social movements are reborn. Evidence of this was the massive (1million) student strike recently. Populism and indigenism are very strong in Peru and Ecuador, populist movements could take power there in the future.
In Columbia, in spite of heavy attacks and death squads the FARC guerrilla army remains undefeated and has at least 18,000 soldiers. It has adopted the concept of Bolivarian Revolution and thus has seemingly moved away from orthodox Marxist Leninism.

Left-wing governments are also found in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Brazil. The Sandinistas are poised to return in Nicaragua. Anarchist groups are now found in most Latin American countries, the largest of which are in Brazil.
The general tendency is away from either the Fabian or Marxist Leninist concepts (heavy statism) and towards the populist emphasis upon empowerment of the people and cooperatives.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Defend Oaxaca!

The Mexican government seems poised to attack the Oaxacan movement which has occupied the city of Oaxaca in order to get rid of the corrupt state government. We must not let a massacre occur.

The below is from Nancy Davies, who is based in Oaxaca and writes frequently on the situation there for Narco News. (1)

While the threat of a mass attack has seemed to always be in the air, the situation in recent days has really escalated. Now an attack seems imminent.


The word I have now is that there are about 5,000 men wearing army uniforms who are not army, but police, culled from other states like Vercruz and Morelia, that is to say, this is a PRI operation, not the federal troops, altho I don’t know how our source explains the "naval" helicopters (maybe not?). The "police" are heavily armed, and the attack is supposed to happen around 10:00 PM Oaxaca time. The attack, code name cicloncinco, was revealed by the same person who informed our friend that there would be a drive-by shooting last night, which came true.

Our friend says there are already a lot of PRD people gathered in the zocalo, thousands have gathered, apparently including some foreigners including Univision and CNN.

Aid is asked for food, water, telephone lines. Only one radio station is still operating

Our friend told us to stay off the streets. Good friend. The one still operating radio station says, stay calm, not respond to acts of aggression which are provocations. Our friend says the city is "surrounded", not sure what that means.

Anybody who can email should do so, to any addresses you have, phone calls, faxes, etc. ( the message is "no a la repression, si a la destitucion de Ulises Ruiz." La Jornada has a live feed running on their site. Please disseminate news however you can.There is still a chance that this is psychological warfare, very tiring. Doesn’t look good right now.

Here is a list of Mexican consulates in the US and Canada:

Here are people to email or fax:


FAX. + 55 52 77 23 76,


FAX + 55 50 93 34 14,


FAX + 55 56 81 71 99,


FAX: +55 53460908,


Fax: + 951 5020530,


5 Things Feminism Has Done For Me

I just got nailed by Eugene, for the feminist list I guess I was always a kind of proto-feminist. Being an “outsider”, I thought the way women were supposed to be in 1950's society as one more aspect of the general insanity. So when the Women's Liberation Movement developed in 1968, it seemed natural to me. I guess that is number one, boiled down to “It is an extension and development of my being.” Secondly, feminism has made me aware of the great riches that lie in women's writing, poetry, art and music. What an immense gift that is! Thirdly feminism has given me a broader understanding of the need for action when seeking human liberation. It is not enough for us to aim for economic democracy and political liberty. To be free we must struggle for social liberty as well, gender must not oppress and exploit gender and anyone who thinks they can be free in a misogynist world is living a sordid fantasy. Fourthly, feminist archeology and anthropology has given me a deeper understanding of the origins of authoritarianism and provides hope with the evidence that complex civilizations existed without brutal patriarchy. Fifthly, Feminist psychology and spirituality has given me a greater understanding of the authoritarian personality and how to deal with it, as well as bolstering my long-held view of the inter-connectedness and sacredness of all existence.

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