To go beyond the capitalist state

by Steve Fraser “All that is solid melts into air” is even truer about the hyper-flux of everyday life today than it was when those words first appeared in the Communist Manifesto more than a century and half ago. Truer, that is, with one major exception.  In our political life we are fixated on the past, forever looking backward. Arguably, national politics over the last half century has polarized between efforts to defend and restore the New Deal Order and relentless attempts to repeal it and replace it with something even older.  The liberal left has fought to extend or … Continue reading To go beyond the capitalist state

Criminalizing dissent and punishing Occupy protesters

by Henry A. Giroux Military-style command and control systems are now be­ing established to support “zero tolerance” policing and urban surveillance practices designed to exclude failed consumers or undesirable persons from the new enclaves of urban consumption and leisure. — Stephen Graham Young people are demonstrating all over the world against a variety of issues ranging from economic injustice and massive inequality to drastic cuts in education and public services.1 In the fall of 2011, on the tenth anniversary of September 11, as the United States revisited the tragic loss and celebrated the courage displayed on that torturous day, another … Continue reading Criminalizing dissent and punishing Occupy protesters

Taking notes 12: On the state of movements

by Antonio Negri Some American and European comrades have asked me, Why didn’t you have an Occupy movement in Italy? Why is the No TAV movement the only expression of social struggle? The No TAV, despite their strong success, despite their original expression of post-modernity class war, lacks the characteristics of the Occupy movements: an extension of social change, the power to remove old hierarchies, and, above all, a shared and “common” political dynamic open to radical political upheavals. But here’s another paradox: what sense does this question have now? The Occupy movements seem already dead. The Arab springs have … Continue reading Taking notes 12: On the state of movements

Protest and power: The radical imagination

by Henry A. Giroux “This isn’t a student strike, it’s the awakening of society.” — Quebec protest banner In many countries throughout the world, young people are speaking out.[1]  They are using their voices and bodies to redefine the boundaries of the possible and to protest the crushing currents of neoliberal regimes that ruthlessly assert their power and policies through appeals to destiny, political theology, and the unabashed certainty bred of fundamentalist faith. From Paris, Athens, and London to Montreal and New York City, young people are challenging the current repressive historical conjuncture by rejecting its dominant premises and practices. … Continue reading Protest and power: The radical imagination

Anarchism, protest and utopianism

by Ruth Kinna The recent explosion of popular energy made manifest in the Occupy movement was described by Adbusters as a shift in global revolutionary tactics, for democracy and against corporatocracy, inspired by a desire to fuse ‘Tahrir with the acampadas of Spain’.[1]  Like the movements for social justice that preceded it, it brought defiant protest together with an openly utopian politics but it captured public attention in ways that the earlier, more conventional protests had not. As the former canon chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral (the site of the London camp), Giles Fraser was well positioned to monitor the … Continue reading Anarchism, protest and utopianism

Anarchy and autonomy: Contemporary social movements, theory, and practice

By Jeff Shantz In an earlier article (Shantz 1998), written almost three years before the dramatic anarchist interventions during the Seattle WTO meetings of 1999, I suggested that theories of social movements were ill-suited either for understanding or even appreciating the innovative practices and ideas then being undertaken by anarchists in North America.  That article, and a series of follow-up articles, predicted the return of anarchist movements to a place of great importance within anti-capitalist struggles and offered the view that sociological movement analysis would largely be taken by surprise by the development (Shantz, 1999a; 1999b). Unfortunately, in the years … Continue reading Anarchy and autonomy: Contemporary social movements, theory, and practice

Insurgent democracy

by John Schwarzmantel This article has three aims: in the first place it seeks to offer some reflection on the role of political theory, and its relationship to what could simplistically be called events in the real world. Should political theory in the broadest sense be concerned with analysing and interpreting these events, or is it an exercise of a different kind, primarily concerned with the analysis of texts and with developing a specialised language of inquiry into such texts, whether historical or contemporary, that offer generalised reflection on concepts like power and authority, freedom and justice, to name only … Continue reading Insurgent democracy

Beyond May Day: From ritual to resistance

by Jeff Shantz Perhaps few recurring events show the great disparity that exists between activist subcultures and broader working class and poor communities in North America than the May Day celebrations that happen each year (with a few exceptions). Despite its proud origins in working class movements of resistance, and its resonance in the mass struggles of the 1930s, May Day in Canada and the US has become little more than a historical commemoration among certain subcultures, an opportunity to (once again) unfurl black flags and distribute pamphlets (largely to one another). For the most part May Day events are … Continue reading Beyond May Day: From ritual to resistance

Protesting youth: A new political language

by Henry A. Giroux Young people are demonstrating all over the world against a variety of issues ranging from economic injustice and massive inequality to drastic cuts in education and public services. At the moment, these demonstrations are being met with state sanctioned violence and insults in the mainstream media rather than with informed dialogue, critical engagement and reformed policies. In the United States the state monopoly on the use ofviolence has intensified since the 1980s and in the process has been increasingly directed against young people, poor minorities, immigrants, and increasingly women. As the welfare state is hollowed out, … Continue reading Protesting youth: A new political language