Greek State and Anarchists Clash

There is an excellent write up in  Occupy London which is closely following events as they unfold in Athens. It appears that there has been enormous tension following attempts by activists to re-occupy the Villa Amalias, which until Decemmber 2oth  had served as a local resource and community centre for young Greeks. An occupation that had lasted 23 years!!

It seems, however, that Greek austerity coalition government, which includes the so-called Democratic Left Party (they too had their headquarters squatted) have decided to crackdown on the young activists. So far there have been over 150 arrests and this could increase as protests continue into the night and beyond.

Victory to those who resist the austerity government and their far-right shadow army.

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Where did all the love go?

Here is a video of Franco Berardi (Bifo) explaining the changing nature of our relationship to language and time, suggesting that mental exhaustion (not just the exhaustion of the planet´s resources) could save us from capitalism.

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January 8, 2013 · 9:30 pm

The Revolution Begins, Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron

Basically we don´t need an excuse but, all the same, we will use the occasion of the release of a brilliant new box set of Gil Scott-Heron recordings, as a pretext to post a video documentary about the great man:

When America and its puppet regimes turned to B movies, it seems GSH, like so many others, turned to crack cocaine. Rediscovering GSH is like rediscovering a lost optimism and faith in humanity. Now the B movie world of neo-liberalism is falling to pieces it’s time to reconnect with this musical genius. The world is ready to start listening and the revolution will definitely not be televised

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Flying Cars, Harry Hooton and Free English Classes for Engineers and Architects

In Spain, Greece and Italy, young highly qualified people are leaving their countries in search of work. Not that there is much work for them to find, but so desperate is the situation in their own countries that they would prefer to chance their arm in another country or perhaps continent. What this obviously suggests is that there is no urgent work required in their countries, or other countries, to help make a sustained and valuable contribution to humanity and to the planet. Of course, this is complete nonsense given the enormous challenges facing the developed and developing world, the skills that these young people possess (whether they be chemists, biologists, civil engineers or architects) are so desperately needed.

The point, however, is that capitalism does not need them (at least not in the short-term) and is content to waste this pool resources as it is content to waste the resources of the planet. If there is no immediate profit to be made from this talent pool then it can rot.

Now the situation of capitalism is increasingly resembling that which Marx described, as a fetter on the means of developing the capacity of society. Vast skyscrapers packed with useless people doing useless things are eating up the planet’s resources. Everywhere there is waste and inefficiency. As David Graeber marvellously describes in his article here, the dreams of the nineteen sixties and nineteen seventies have come to nothing. Capitalism, with its great moderation (low-interest rates, low wages, low growth) has run out of steam.

This is not to say that after some large-scale destruction and immense suffering on the part of the masses, it could not recover its dynamism (the golden era of Capitalism was built on the back of two devastating world wars) but it is to say that in its current form it is just a zombie sucking the life out of the living until it kills its host and collapses of its own accord.

In the nineteen fifties the Australian bank robber, poet and anarchotechnocrat Harry Hooton, talked about a brilliant new class of engineers and scientists who would liberate the human race from the power and domination that the few exercise over the many, because society would turn into the domination of things rather than the domination of people. Maybe his view was a little simplistic but we admire his optimism and we admire his respect for the skills these people have; a respect which capitalism lacks.

It is incumbent on language teachers to give free advice to such skilled people on how to improve language skills, interview skills and job application requests in the target language, in order to help these people use their skills in another country. Of course, it would be better if they could employ them locally, but capitalism is a rotten degenerate system which will not allow them to do so.

Teachers can offer this advice through professional associations, local libraries or any community centre (squatted or not). People like the UK prime minister might just find out how threatening a Big Society might become, where people establish alternatives to the marketplace in order to solve society’s on-going problems.

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British Council could be embarrassed again.

The question is a simple one: If a state and its leader stand accused of war crimes, as does the Sri Kankan army and its leader, Mahinida Rajapakese , should a state funded body like the British Council invest so heavily in that country? Here is a picture of the wonderful new British Council development in Colombo

and here is Channel 4’s follow-up to their awarding winning documentary which details those crimes

For us to see the bodies of so many women raped and murdered by this army, to see blindfolded prisoners shot with their hands tied behind their backs and hospitals and their staff targetted by bombs, the answer is clearly no!! The British Council is clearly disgusting in progressing with such high investment projects in the absence of a proper independent enquiry into the atrocities.

But the situation appears to be taking a different direction and in response to increasing links between Sri Lanka and the Chinese, the US appears keen to progress with calls for the president to face justice (or at least stop offering the Chinese a naval base). In view of this prime minister Cameroon, despite the UK’s attempts to secure increasing relations and trade with Sri Lanka, has apparently raised the issue of an independent enquiry direct with Rajapakese. He is no doubt being pressured by the US to get tough with the Sri Lankan Leader.

Oh dear, poor British Council. There it is happily snuggling up to dictators and psychopaths only for British foreign policy to take a rapid turn of direction under the orders of its bosses in the US

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2013, The Year of Mumia Abu-Jamal?

This year, after successful campaigning on his behalf, activist, journalist and broadcaster Mumia Abu-Jamal was released from death row. He has now been transferred to an ordinary prison, a new prison (he calls it a bigger dog cage) where the authorities expect him to reside until his death. Mumia Abu-Jamal had spent over 30 years on death row. A new documentary out in February, called “Long Distance Revolutionary” will hopefully bring Mumia Abu-Jamal to a much wider audience.

The documentary does not deal with the dubious circumstances leading to his incarceration but instead looks at the Works of one of America´s greatest actvists. It contains interviews with prominent writers and intellectuals who discuss the relevance of Mumia Abu-Jamal for today´s America, an empire in decline with spiralling poverty and increasing racism.

Here is an introduction to the movie, with director Stephen Vittoria talking to Democracy Now´s Amy Goodman:

Here is a website containing podcasts of many of Abu-Jamal’s radioessays

Here is a YouTube video where Abul-Jamal explains the concept of the prison-industrial complex

Activists should note that the use of the term “prison-industrial complex” has been challenged, most notably by Christian Parenti (see here). What is difficult to argue against is this alarming graph showing the rise of incarcerations in the US:

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Two Davids against Goliath

David Graeber  is someone you will no doubt hear more of at FFG and David Harvey was an old favourite of the Marxist TEFL Group. Here they discuss the changing nature of the city and the possibilities of rebellion.

 

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