"the freedom of all is essential to my freedom"

human and animal liberation

Posts Tagged ‘globalization

Reformist revolution?

leave a comment »

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.

null

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

with one comment

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?

leave a comment »

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.

Films & activism

with 2 comments

In recent months I run a quite intensive educational campaign by organizing a series of screenings of films involved politically and socially. They’re connected with lectures and discussions held after the screenings. Some of the movies I watched for the first time, and I think it is worth to mention a few titles, and post a short review. Perhaps it will be useful to other activists in their work.

Let me start by Bold Native, which to me is a big favorite. For me it’s the best film of 2010. The film tells the story of a member of Animal Liberation Front, wanted by the FBI, and his father (the CEO of one of the corporations) who is desperately trying to make contact with him. We find here a range of difficult questions and tough answers; we also find here the truth about the so-called. organic milk and organic eggs, vivisection, farming, etc. The film unobtrusively prompts to think over our choices, our commitment to the conformism based on suffering of thousands of animals. At the same it presents a number of controversial topics such as the use of violence against those involved in animal cruelty, the absurdity of vegetarianism, or double standards. All this is wrapped in a gripping story, excellent camera work, music and directing. I showed the movie twice already, and soon I will show it once again. Each time the reactions were very positive, people were touched, some even shocked, and most inspired by what they saw. A must-see-before-die for everyone!

The Economics Of Happiness is a documentary about globalization and its alternative, namely building a society based on the local economy, ecology and equity. The first part sets out the key features of globalization and its tragic impact on people’s lives in different parts of the world. We are talking about climate change, the environmental devastation, exploitation, drastic Western consumerism and the destruction of local cultures. The second part deals with aspects of local social life. The film presents a pretty interesting alternative, while explaining the mechanisms that can improve the lives of us all. The advantage of the film is a positive message, hope for change that moves between different sequences. The downside is a utopian belief or omission of fact which is familiar to most activists. Building egalitarian alternatives and opposing status quo is always connected with the reaction of corporate and political elites who seek to block any possibility of rejection of capitalism, corporatism, or the monetary system. Just to mention the Zapatistas struggle or Shell To Sea campaign in Ireland, which has been well documented in The Pipe movie and the book Once Upon A Time In The West. The lack of a theme for me is a big omission on the part of the filmmakers.

At the end, well-promoted another part of the Venus Project Zeitgeist: Moving Forward. Unfortunately, despite much promotion of it, this production is a disaster. We are dealing here with nearly three hours long document, which consists mainly interviews with people from diverse fields. Although quite interesting issues rose in the film, such as genetics, the monetary system and a more anti-capitalist expression of this (third) part, the film is simply boring. It’s more a propaganda tool of the Venus project. Futuristic solutions proposed by the authors do not convince viewers, often seem unreal and far from the expectations of people. In the discussion after the film it turned out that nobody liked it. It is worth noting that at least half of these people would have seen the previous parts. The only good aspect of the film is a thorough critique of neo-liberalism, the banking and monetary system. But I’m afraid it is all what it can offer.

Battle In Seattle in Greystones!

leave a comment »

We’ll be showing another great movie this Saturday! This time we’ll be screening Battle In Seattle. The film depicts the historic protest in 1999, as thousands of activists arrive in Seattle, Washington in masses to protest the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999. The World Trade Organization is considered by protesters to contribute to widening the socioeconomic gap between the rich and the poor while it claims to be fixing it and increasing world hunger, disease and death.

The movie takes an in-depth look at several fictional …characters during those five days in 1999 as demonstrators protested the meeting of the WTO in Seattle’s streets. The movie portrays conflicts between the peaceful protesters and a minority committing property destruction whose actions were widely covered by the media. Although the protest began peacefully with a goal of stopping the WTO talks, police began teargassing the crowd and the situation escalated into a full-scale riot and a State of Emergency that pitted protesters against the Seattle Police Department and the National Guard.

15th January 2011 (Saturday)
8pm
The Happy Pear
Church Road
Greystones

This is free screening and everyone is welcome! If you happen to be nearby, please come!

Capitalism by Michael Moore

leave a comment »

Yesterday I had a chance to watch Michael Moore’s latest Capitalism: A Love Story. This document should become a must for all those who entrust politicians, banks and financial institutions, living in the belief that the current system of democracy is the result of natural or social order. There were dozens capitalism critics written or filmed by different people. I’m myself the author of at least a few. Why, then, Moore’s film is so special? Well, because it shows what capitalism is in practice, he exposes it and shows as it is without shining lies of economists. At same time he’s not focused on the statistics, slogans or scientific names which can be found in many studies. In return, Moore shows the individual stories of victims of the system: evicted families, laid-off people, dying towns and overall degeneration. The movie fully exposes the corruption of politicians, corporate greed and large-scale corruption. The director shows it simply as it is, trying to even talk with some of the capitalists.

Howver it’s not the end, the movie is not only extensive criticism. The film in fact shows what is most important – an alternative to capitalism. Moore shows the self-organization: several thriving businesses, whose owners are the workers. In these companies there is a direct democracy, collectivism and egalitarian management. You may use several names here, but it’s always the same. As it looks among Argentine workers or Greek anarchists once again we can see broken myths of capitalism like the hierarchy, the need for the boss, or the sacred principle of making a profit in the first place. Now things can look different, the workers-owners of these companies concentrate on the common good, and all decisions are to serve the common welfare, not the President and shareholder interests. Here we come therefore to what the anarchists propose and what they fight for. For example WSM, FAU or IP. We do not need government and bosses in order to develop and perform our work well. Current system can not be adjusted, it needs a radically change and return to the sources, ie the value of sharing and mutual aid which are the force of society.

The film emerges, therefore, revolutionary (and, moreover, true) conclusion. Capitalism is evil and should be eliminated as soon as possible. It is the negation of all true values of life. Its effect on a global scale is the only progressive poverty, exploitation and destruction. We can’t modify it, improve or get rid of some shortcomings, because the system is built to exploit and destroy, its purpose is not to serve people but provide huge income to small groups of bourgeois crooks and rich criminals. So revolution is inevitable, is a natural consequence of enormous harm suffered by ordinary people and thousands animals each day, not only in America but around the world. Our task, however, is to make sure the revolution has not turned into another period of transition. Power to the People!

Written by Kruk

September 23, 2010 at 9:16 pm