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Will revolution start on the Internet?

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I guess many people recalls cyberpunk books written by writers such as William Gibson these days. The conflicts between hackers and corporations, post-industrial world, dirty businesses and corrupted politicians. The struggle against them. A few decades ago it all looked like an intriguing fiction or great ideas for a movie.

Today, it’s not a fiction anymore. We witness a growing conflict between organized (but leadership free) groups of hackers such as Anonomyous and corporations or governments. In many places of the world we face an environmental disaster caused by big businesses or tragic effects of globalization such as mass exploitation and degeneration. We’re monitored by thousands CCTV cameras and surveillance tools, we’re forced to eat GMO foods, we’re influenced by corporate propaganda and threatened by economic compulsion. Mortgages, unemployment, crisis… we face a number of issues like these every day. It’s not something new though. The political movements opposing capitalism are trying to cope with it from many years. We had massive Seattle protests in 1999, anti-capitalist Genoa in 2001, direct actions led by groups like ELF, ALF or urban guerillas from Greece, Italy, Argentine or Chile. Zapatistas, Argentinian workers and their cooperatives, social centres. Revolts in France and Greece. And many many more. Those actions caused a lot of confusion and fear among politicians and shareholders. But the system remains strong. At the end of day you may see a black block with molotov cocktails but the other side have tanks and guns.

The system remains strong because it’s hard to fight the enemy who’s way more powerful on the streets. It’s hard to win with an opponent who’s so violent and depraved. However as we learned in a last few years it looks different when it comes to the Internet. Internet gives people the tools they wouldn’t find in reality. Internet allows people to organize themselves anonymously and democratically. It gives them freedom of expression and creation. At the same time it is a way to exchange unlimited information on any subject. On the Internet it doesn’t really matter whether you’re white, black, gay, Russian or Canadian, queer, Christian or Jew.

So when you see such a bastion of freedom in the enslaved world of capitalism it’s not surprising that it becomes a threat to the system. In fact, it was the work of Internet activists that shook its foundations. Wikileaks leaks such as CableGate or Iraq War Logs were and are the cause of the crises of several governments. Their impact is really huge and in consequences it means their activity seriously affects the reality we all live in. And when the US administration and fellow corporations tried to shut Wikileaks down they received a quick response from Anonymous. It’s quite fascinating that the web attacks were more serious for all the companies and governments than thousands of protests and boycotts. It brings us to the question, what does it mean?

Perhaps we’re looking for a change in the wrong place? We expect that the Occupy Movement or Arab Spring will inspire a revolution. But most people are not on the streets. Most people are on the web though. That’s why you got so big resistance re PIPA, SOPA and ACTA bills. That’s why sites like PirateBay are so popular and Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world. People want to share their knowledge, information, music, films, ideas. People want to live together and organize themselves freely. They want to join projects, they want to leave projects, they want privacy, they want freedom. On the Internet they realize they don’t need governments or big businesses to rule their lives. The progress of civilization is amazing on the web. The current system with all those copyrights, profit-based think tanks and neoliberal perspective can’t follow it, can’t understand what’s actually going on. They’re still looking for money when people are building a new kind of social and political relations. No borders, skills sharing, open source, free speech, free culture. Anonymous group even released A Declaration of the Independence of CyberSpace where they state:

In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

In other words, maybe this is the place where the revolution starts?

Written by Kruk

March 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm

The Corporation

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I bet you met at least one person who kept saying that corporations are bad. Almost pure evil! We all heard that so many times that it became a slogan. So we all know they’re bad but it really means nothing now. At the end of day we keep buying from them and we even keep working for them. Some of us don’t give a damn about it, some of us have no choice and some of us like it. There are even people who think Tesco is great because they sell cheap veggies! Well, cheap prices have its price. If you ever wondered what the hell is all about here’s a thing for you. A must-see documentary, a classic you’d say.

The Corporation explores the nature and spectacular rise of the dominant institution of our time. Part film and part movement. The Corporation is transforming audiences and dazzling critics with its insightful and compelling analysis. Taking its status as a legal “person” to the logical conclusion, the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist’s couch to ask “What kind of person is it?” The Corporation includes interviews with 40 corporate insiders and critics – including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Milton Friedman, Howard Zinn, Vandana Shiva and Michael Moore – plus true confessions, case studies and strategies for change. The film looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.

We’re showing The Corporation on 18th of February (8pm) in The Happy Pear in Greystones.

Free entry! See you there!

Written by Kruk

January 15, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Riots and capitalism in England

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Recent massive riots in England have confounded all living in the belief that everything is okay. Especially that they occurred in the center of the Western world, which should be a wonderful example of democracy to poorer countries. So suddenly, main stream media, politicians and only Bakunin knows who else, began to ask the magic questions: why? Why these young people have so much anger? Who is guilty? And where were the police?

But the riots did not surprise most people who suffer on a daily basis from “the magnificence” of the western democracies. They only showed what is obvious. Capitalist society is in decay and only a small spark is enough to ignite it. There are tremendous anger and frustration out there. The anger that waits for any reason to explode. And if you’re living in this world trying to feed your family and pay all the bills you know this feeling is growing and growing. And you know it may soon come true in the form of uncontrolled aggression and plunder. Just like it happened in the UK. But hey, if you drive posh SUVs, your children go to private schools and clinics, and you travel first class, then yes it might be surprising. So the politicians are shocked now. Why this happened? These people have no reason to act like this! However, the truth is, they have lots of reasons and things won’t get better.

Unfortunately, these riots did not take a political character, but to be honest this is also a symbol of ubiquitous consumerism. Even during the explosion of anger the society is not fighting the cause of its misery, but steals televisions and iPhones. So Very Imporant David Cameron threaths: “You will pay for what you have done!” he said. It’s a shame he only refers to greedy kids but not greedy bankers. And he tries to hide the real reasons of such events, talking about criminals and looting. But who fed these people with the propaganda of consumption? Who persuaded them that they need all these fashionable clothes and big LCDs? Who made ​​them believe that to be someone you have to have things? God? Che Guevara? Jim Morrison? Well, no. Politicians, corporations, neo-liberals, they all worked very hard to to convince people that they must consume to be happy. They call it economy growth. At times when people can not consume – because the government takes away their benefits, impose additional taxes and gives money to the fellow bankers – people start freaking out. So that kind of unrest has become a natural consequence of capitalism, which is based on social inequalities and consumerism. Politicians may talk about criminals, but they didn’t come from nowhere. The system has produced them, selling them hundreds of lies for decades.

Of course, the government already started a campaign of threats and exhortations to tighten penalties and law. They even began to evict the families, whose members participated in the riots. They began to talk about social networks blockade, although it is highly criticized if other countries do it. So we have collective responsibility now. But hey, what else can they do? These big brains are not able to get it: preventing crime is better than punishing crime!. And by the way the prison system does not work. After several years of incarceration you have guys with better knowledge and contacts to commit crimes. It is better to make sure that something will not happen than threatening menacingly after someone has already suffered.

Also, who needs the police when people have to defend their own neighborhoods? Suddenly it became clear that British cops are very peaceful and do not want to attack citizens. I wonder why they are not so peaceful during anti-government or anti-capitalist protests? For example, the famous G20 and violence caused by the police.

To conclude this brief commentary, riots were predatory in nature, it is obvious that most people who took part in them are not fighting for any cause. However, the reasons of these events go back deep into the heart of neoliberal ideas, which produce injustice and inequality. The riots were not political, but their causes, yes. These problems will not be solved by putting people in jail, and censorship on Facebook. You need to see the real reasons and start changing them. Also these riots proved once again how useless is the State and the police. At the end of the day the people had to defend themselves, and they set up a grassroots cleaning up of their neighborhoods. It shows where the strength and hope are.

Written by Kruk

August 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Posted in anticapitalism

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Yes we can…be fooled again!

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So, Barack Obama is on tour in Europe. Wow! Politicians go mad to gain in some publicity, people cheer at rallies and the governments close the streets and spend taxpayer’s millions on security. Then nobody cares about taxpayers who are unable to get to work, are searched like criminals or spend hours in traffic jams. But hey, it doesn’t matter, Obama is in town!

I must admit that I watched Obama’s visit in Ireland with some sadness. The guy came like a rock star, streets were closed and the society which faces massive cutbacks paid the bill for elites’ fun. There was no resistance. Then, tens of thousands of people took part in the sectarian rally, in which Mr. Obama praised Ireland and spoke of great hope. The saddest thing is that these thousands of people, oppressed by the state every day, were crying while shaking Obama’s hand (as if he was Jesus), when in fact his presidency comes down to the slogan “Yes, we can fool you again and again!”. I mean the guy did not keep any of his key promises. Famous Health care reform is a piece of private market-based approach, which is a contradiction of pre-election promises. Cruel Guantanamo prison not only still operates, but its activity has been extended by Obama. What’s next? Obama’s NAFTA promise: we will pull the US out of the NAFTA agreement. Guess what? It never happened. There’s much more broken promises. It’s not surprising if we look at the list of sponsors of his campaign!

Despite these overwhelming facts, people are still blinded, and believe in some fictional change that Obama can bring. I mean, if your sponsor are J & P Morgan, Google, Goldman Sachs what kind of change can you bring? Tax relief for the rich? Patriot Act extension? And it really doesn’t matter if it’s Obama or any other politician. It might be Cameron or Sarkozy. A system based on the belief that some rich men in armored limousines represent our interests is a bullshit. They don’t and they never will. We need to represent ourselves. Nobody will do it for us. How many broken promises people need to realize that? So the next time there is no one at Obama’s rally.

Written by Kruk

May 27, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Reformist revolution?

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Reformists clash with the revolutionaries for years on the methods of struggle against capitalism. The first group is criticized for its strategy of building a new society step by step. Revolutionaries say that it will never happen because real liberation requires radical action and confrontation with the enemy. But reformists say that revolutionary methods are based on short-term changes that lead to violence and it is never possible to predict the outcome of the revolution.

So the conflict about the strategies already takes many years and we see no improvement here. Last week I attended a lecture on these two issues at the Anarchist Bookfair and I spotted that the movement is still in the stagnation in this field. I mean we all know the history: conflicts between Marxists and anarchists, reformism promoted by Edward Bernstein, Spanish revolution or insurrectionary campaigns run by urban guerillas in Germany, Chile or Greece and other countries. There’s more stuff here. It gives a framework for the analysis, but we are at a point in which global capitalism is very strong and dreadful, and all sorts of leftists are considered to be commies and fans of Stalin. This means that there is no time for further doubts and disagreements. We can share our analysis on blogs and Indymedia sites, but it only gives us a little. Mr. Th0rin said to me recently that one of the biggest victories of the current system may be the fact that we are able to write and publish wise essays and books, but we are unable to operate.

Thus, back to our conflicted reformists and revolutionaries, I think we get to the point where both groups are correct.

What’s good in reformism?

Well, if we want to be honest we have to recognize that the movement is weak. Although we have hundreds of organizations, social centres, campaigns, websites and activists involved in every field of struggle, as a WHOLE we are weak. We do not have strong foundations, we do not have a close international cooperation, we do not exist in the mass media (unless there are some riots), we lack the people and money. Capitalism has it all and this is why it is so strong.

If we think about real change we must have SOMETHING. We must have a base to support the change, something that will act as financial and logistical support. We need a global and local solutions, which allow us to organize, gain experience and get involve other people. For example, local activists have some great ideas, they want to meet and start working, but what if they do not have access to any place where they can actually do it? What if they need money, but do not have access to funds which will help them? What if there’s a threat of repression, but there is no one who will protect them? What if they lack skills and do not know anyone who could provide training?

It’s happening now, that’s why so many brilliant projects die before they even get started. Often it happens also that the campaigns which last a long time are simply harmless for the elites. It’s convenient for them. So it’s easy to set up a gardening group but try to reduce dependence on oil for your region. Or try to change the law so that animals were not defined as property. You’ll see how quickly you become a terrorist and public enemy. Therefore, before making big challenges we have to be prepared and have adequate resources (funds, community properties, legal teams, food suppliers, plans, skills, etc.). I know it takes a lot of time and it sounds really reformist but let’s be honest : this has to be built first. Otherwise, how can we even think about the revolution? That would be disaster. A small group of people against the tanks of NATO and the mercenaries from Blackwater? We can actually see a part of it in Greece currently. There are several urban guerillas groups operating in Greece which try to confront the government and wake up the people. However, they do not have the necessary capacity and despite the many actions Greece remains in a big trouble. So after a few years of fight instead of mass support of the population they get lessons of a state terror in prisons.

Anyway at this point the reformist approach is useful. To think about the revolution you must have a social and logistic background to make this possible. But I think that here the role of reformist thinking ends as well. Faith in the parallel construction of an alternative society with no reaction of rulers is simply naive. As soon as they see the threat they will try to fix this. So the entire reformist path leads to a confrontation anyway. At least I don’t see any other way.

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Revolution time

Politicians, capitalists, bankers, elites – or whatever you call them – will not go away just like that. Their wealth is based on power and control. I mean they have invested millions in corporations and they hold shares in businesses exploiting workers, destroying communities or causing the environment pollution. They own dozens of properties and banks, they support the wars, they kill millions of animals every year, they profit from unjust globalization in Third World. At same time they drive big SUVs, fly private jets, staying overnight in hotels $ 3000 per day. Does anyone really think that seeing a threat to their status, they will just give the power to the people in the name of freedom? No way!

Don’t get me wrong here, it doesn’t mean Let’s kill them all. I’m far from that and I’m far from saying that each of them is responsible for terrible crimes. But the fact is that these groups do control the economy and politics. And they do it wrong what affects everyone. Another fact is they do control police and military and in the face of threats to their power they will try to eliminate opposition. It means they will use the police and army if required. And alternative institutions, alternative economics, and finally an alternative society are such a threat. I mean we saw it in so many cases that it is hard to count (Argentine, Mexico, Peru, Greece, Italy, Libya) So if we have a base (tools) ready it will probably get tough now. Never mind whether you’re a hippie or black block member. As soon as the growth of independent projects (e.g. community financial institutions) reaches a certain level the authorities will feel threatened. Then they will react.

Anyway this is where revolutionary thought comes to place. I would like to believe that radical changes can be done peacefully, but it is difficult to imagine it when we are dealing with the violent opponent. The confrontation at some point is inevitable. The problem is, however, that the wrongly run revolution can bring more harm than good. Riots, violence on the streets are no fun, even if it is a part of the struggle for a better life. The revolutionary attitude demands great discipline too, because it is easy to cross the line of morality. I mean the revolution’s aim is to overthrow an unjust system and not to enjoy violence itself. However, we can be sure there would be people who just want to shoot other people. Also because of that the reformist part is important because building alternative places educates society at same time. You get educated earlier through doing things, not during insurection. Otherwise, instead of putting power into the hands of people we may have an explosion of mass killing, robbing, etc. I do not think that violence can be avoided. I mean if you look at history, large social movements always came through the fight to achieve what they wanted. So this is really bad news, but on the other hand is it so better to be oppressed by capitalism? And I know there are a lot of people that don’t feel oppressed. They usually split into two groups, the rich and the unconscious. The last ones need to switch off their TV first. Then they will see we don’t need to take 30 years mortgage to own a house if we don’t want to. And then many other things will get clear (Honey, how could we feed our kids with junk food for over 10 years???)

Redefine strategy

So finally reformists must realize that their method leads to a response of state anyway. It’s better to know that earlier than be surprised and then shocked by brutal response. And revolutionaries need to understand that the struggle is something more than just open and armed resistance. The revolution itself is the moment of climax but to defeat the system you need a broad perspective. Pre-revolution and post-revolution times are just as important. So these two views should be combined not separated.

At the end of day it’s all still theory. Nobody knows what will happen. It is certain that the movement must unite to join together different trends and work out an overall strategy. Resistance must be global as capitalism is global. Of course, these are just words like many others, but without the unification of the various groups we will continue to use corporate laptops to write anti-corporate notes. Without a new strategy, we will never progress. The evolution of the movement is very slow especially if you compare it with the flexibility of politicians and financiers.

And people still do not recognize the environmental pollution, surveillance, junk food, labor relations, economic system and many other issues as something that is destructive to themselves. And if even they do they do nothing about that . They simply lack faith, because no one can propose to them a credible plan for change. So they choose to believe in Obama instead of themselves.

Building Alternatives

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As residents of the western world we often complain about working conditions and low salaries. However, in comparison with the residents of developing countries, and especially China, our situation is a whole lot better. Don’t get me wrong here, we are also slaves of global capitalism, the slaves of our employers, banks and we are fine as long as we play to their rules. Every day we meet with negative issues such as abuse of power, consumerism, or unemployment, crimes and corruption too. And obviously in the Western world, there are many things that should be changed as soon as possible.

But in many ways the face of globalization with whom we deal is milder than the one which face workers from other countries. Mass production is operating for us – the West. And they produce because we consume and we never have enough. So in many cases, we make use of other people’s murderous work for our conformity. A new iPad for example. Last (and next), corporate affair perfectly illustrates what mass production is based on, and in what way corporations earn their millions. That’s not all, we may blame those awful corporations once again, we can blame the Chinese politicians. Together we can admit, it’s terrible that the desperate workers are not allowed to commit suicide! Or that they are forced to massive overtime and are banned from talking and are made to stand up for their 12-Hour Shifts. The problem is that soon after we will express our indignation we log on to Facebook using our iPhone. Guess where your iPhone was produced? This does not mean that we are evil people though. We were taught we need more stuff that we really need. But look where it led us.

BOYCOTT

So people say, Ok, let’s boycott Apple products straight away! But I partly agree here with Noam Chomsky who said: “If only a few people do it, it isn’t going to have any effect – it just means that some guy picking bananas in East Costa Rica isn’t going to have money to feed his children tomorrow” and also “So there might be particular moment when a boycott of something would be helpful. But as general matter, I don’t think they really make a lot of sense frankly. I mean, suppose we got millions of people to stop buying: what would happen? The economic system barely functions as it is – I mean, the contemporary economic system is a complete catastrophe (…) So you know they maybe worthwhile as a tactic at some point, but what’s really required is just a complete of rethinking of the entire nature of economic interactions and structures – there really is no other way to overcome this massive failure of the economy”. Another thing is how many products we use every day were not made in China? Two? So yes, boycott sounds good, quick response to injustice. But the results do not meet expectations. We need to change the entire system, not one company. The problem is not just Apple and Foxconn. The problem is the whole globalization, based on exploitation and false premises. So we need to start to build new solutions, rather than focus all attention on the politics of protest. Protest is important, but it rarely brings a radical change.

BUILDING ALTERNATIVES

Fortunately after years of struggle with globalization, it seems, that many of the activists comes to the point where you realize, that the only way to end exploitation, poverty and abuse is to build a self-governing society, based on the local economy. But what does it really mean? Well, for example, that rather than to import apples from China, you better grow them in a village 10 km from your city. Why do you buy apples from China, since you can have it locally? Without pesticides and transport issue which pollutes the environment. I mean if we pollute the environment we also pollute ourselves. People must finally understand that. And I think that in this direction we must go. Want an iPhone? Produce it locally. Just follow the principles. Don’t destroy the environment and don’t hurt others for your own interests. You are not able to produce it locally? Ask if you really need it. And if so, then buy elsewhere and make sure that its manufacturers were well rewarded. Sure, I know it’s easy to say and I do realize this requires a redefinition of the whole system of thinking. But at the end of day what’s left? 12 hours shifts for €5.20 or 30 year mortgages to own a house?

Localization can result in reducing power of multinational capital while increasing the strength of local societies. Local communities very rarely want to hurt themselves. Therefore, the proposed solutions are based on ethics. Nobody wants to drink contaminated water, no one wants to be poor and exploited. So we have a whole package of ideas: community banks, local economy, green energy, self-organized businesses, support groups, etc. For big business it has no meaning. They just want profit. For the community it is the basis of sustainability. For the community it does matter are people happy.

Finally there’s an old saying: if you want to get something done, do it yourself. This works not only in the micro level but also in the macro scale. Do you want a better life? Start to build it with others. No one can do this for you. No government or company. And you won’t be able to do it on your own. But there’s a great group of others who look for change, who seek values in their lives and communities. Whether you’re in Canada or in Chile start building alternatives. This is the best way to oppose the policies of inequality and lack of ethics.

Written by Kruk

May 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Healthy but not ethical?

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Recently, I noticed the growing number of people switching to a vegan diet or interested in that diet. Though I’m unable to say whether it’s just my experience or if it’s a general trend. But surely we are dealing with the growing amounts of local green businesses, mainly focused on the sale of natural food. And these new stores enhance interest in organic food and healthy life style.

Apparently it would seem that everything is heading in the right direction. We see the growing awareness of people who are looking for new healthy options, we see some signs of a return to the support of local producers and local community values (localization instead of globalization)​​. Thanks to the work of many activists mass production and the supermarkets lose customers who learned more about them. So where’s the problem? The thing lies in the fact that we need something more, we need a change of attitude, which is still highly conformist or consumer. In large part this is seen in the example of animals, which continue to be defined objectively.

Business comes first

On one hand, health food stores appeal to the values ​​such as Fair Trade, while advocating for compassion, on the other hand it doesn’t bother them to sell products based on suffering. It is true that meat, dairy and eggs they sell are organic, but the researches revealed the word “organic” often means nothing. So it often happens that buying free range eggs or organic milk we buy organic feel, but for animals it doesn’t change the thing. It is difficult to expect that the people leading such shops don’t know about it, when at the same time they’re giving an animal-friendly impression through the range of vegan products which they offer.

Why is there such inconsistency? Well, in a capitalist system animals are defined as “property”. This leads to a situation in which many people conducting the so-called ethical and green businesses remain opposed to the interests of animals for their own interests. I suppose that, apart from economic factors, many of them simply don’t care about animal welfare and treat animals as inferior species, which we have the right to kill. Of course, only if we’re talking about killing a cow or a pig, not their beloved home pets.

So at the end of day there’s a moral problem. While we wishing to support local economy to make social change, at the same time we are forced to support the holocaust of animals.

Also aside from the issue of animal rights it is worth noting that frequently we can see Fair Trade products and those imported from China or other countries where workers rights are violated on the same shelves. Therefore, the question of ethics is extremely important here.

Wanna be healthy not ethical

On the other side we have the phenomenon which perfectly illustrates the conformist attitude among many people using vegan diet. It always surprises how many people are focused only on food, the nutrition, the flavors and their own well-being. Their experiments with plant-based diet are addressed primarily to let them feel happy and healthy. So they focus on nutrition benefits while animal rights are in addition. This way we can meet vegans (and loads of vegetarians) wearing leather shoes, or those who don’t know what vivisection is.

This attitude seems to be a derivative of the capitalist system (or, more broadly neo-liberal), which is based on selfish considerations. From an early age we are taught to care only about our own interests and conformity. The system creates an extreme individualism. So why vegan diet would not be a part of these processes? And why the hell should we care about animals?

Let’s be healthy and ethical!

Therefore, we need to build a cruelty-free projects and truly ethical businesses that care both about human animals and non-human animals. We need egalitarian solutions, cruelty-free jobs, we need to learn how to change our ego-based attitudes through experience of self-organization.

We can’t say that we promote the compassionate life style and at the same time selling e.g. dairy products, or that corporations’ corruption makes us sick, while we accepting unethical compromises. Obviously the world isn’t black and white, but let’s just follow the principle of “do not hurt, do not kill”and all decisions become much easier.

At the end of day there’s no such thing as unethical veganism. Veganism means caring for every human or non-human being.