Sunday, March 21, 2010

Marching for the lives of teachers

 Photo of students with banner, “It’s in your hands to respect and value life.  I love it, do you?”

Dear friends,

More than 2,000 students and teachers marched through the streets of Puerto Berrio on March 17 to protest the killing of a teacher and his wife. Duvian Rojo and Veronica Cadavid were killed by two gunmen in the center of town on the evening of March 13. Puerto Berrio is controlled by paramilitary death squads that have relations with the police and military, and the killing occurred just two blocks from the police station. Duvian and Veronica were the parents of twins that are less than a year old.

The paramilitaries have been extorting more than 20 teachers in the town – demanding that they pay protection money in order to avoid being killed. Duvian filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office that led to the arrest of two men, although none of the paramilitary leaders were arrested. His colleagues believe that he was killed in retaliation for speaking out about the extortions.

I felt a lot of tension at the beginning of the march, more so than at any other activity I’ve accompanied here in Colombia. I asked the parish priest, who had invited us to the march, if I could take some photos. He responded that it would be better if I did not. One of my teammates, who had been married by the priest, talked to him later and he agreed to let me get some shots. I was introduced to a man who then walked with me to the front of the march. The march stretched out for several blocks and it was very inspiring to see so many students in the streets of Puerto Berrio.

We met with a group of teachers after the march in the church, Our Lady of Sorrows. One man was wearing a t-shirt with a photo of Duvian that read, “Friend Duvian, you will always be in our hearts.” The teachers were very concerned about their safety and asked us to not mention their names. “You wonder if you’ll be the next victim,” one of them told us.

They described the relationship of the paramilitaries with the police and military. “These groups are mixed together with the authorities.” They also talked about the location of the killing – two policemen are usually stationed there and it’s near the station. “They (the killers) exited to the left and the police came in from the right.”

Puerto Berrio is a town of 50,000 inhabitants, located two hours south of Barrancabermeja. Two paramilitary groups are fighting for control of the cocaine trade in the region, and one of those groups has apparently entered into an alliance with the National Army of Liberation (ELN) guerrillas. The priest told us that three to four people were killed each week in Puerto Berrio during February. In the midst of all this, the teachers are determined to continue forward and to denounce the abuses that occur in their town.

Sister Miriam accompanies workers in the palm oil plantations near Barrancabermeja. During the meeting with the teachers, she said “Peace can appear to be a distant dream. However, there are new sprouts and signs of hope. We’re weaving together networks of people.”

In love and solidarity,


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Class Treason

Here is the latest from the Pinky Show: Re: Structure, Power, & Privilege

It is brilliant and captures so much of what I've been thinking and feeling lately.


What about committing Class Treason? Can this be done?

What about us pushing students towards university?

What about being a teacher inside institutionalized education? Is there nothing I can do to subvert it?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Law and Order

The "loss" of law and order that Barry Goldwater complained of when running for president in 1964, iterated (on behalf of Capitalism) an up-dated effort to save the legitimacy of the social and economic system in crisis. The true voice behind that iteration was Capitalism itself. As the only true subject of modern history, Capitalism was frantically seeking dry land. Needing a pretext to stave off the structural crisis it faced in the 1960’s and 1970’s, capitalism began a string of wars on strawmen: drugs, poverty, illegal immigration and terror. The mask it would choose would be the “rule of law.” Over the past 44 years, trillions of dollars have gone towards the control of the class structure and social revolution. Whether it is the Military Industrial Complex or the Prison Industrial Complex or the Surveillance Industrial Complex, our world must come to terms with the nasty reality that the "ideology of the rule of law masks, or is meant to mask, the fact of class rule" (John Gibler, Mexico Unconquered, 2009). As a result of these complexes of control serving to maintain the “rule of law,” we have an extremely paralyzed society unable to muster a serious fight against the enormity of it all.

Goldwater—and each subsequent president—would have to make a center piece of their campaign platform the return of law and order. However, there was never a “loss” of law and order, but a sudden realization that the rule of law (read: authoritarian control) had been weakened by massive social upheaval. Normally, when people get feed up enough with the crappy reality of their lives, they rise up. Capitalism needs to contend with this, so control of unhappy people is necessary.

Nixon said while campaigning in 1967: "America has become among the most lawless and violent [nations] in the history of free people." Depending on whom one takes to be the "criminal" (i.e. the capitalists, or union organizer, or Black Panther, or the dope-smoker) Nixon could be understood as extremely honest or dishonest when he blamed liberal decisions for "weakening the peace forces against the criminal forces." Ronald Reagan "aspired to nothing less than readjusting the balance between the forces of law and the forces of lawlessness." George Bush Sr. concentrated on five areas of crime, three of which dealt with illicit drugs, and as he infamously said: “Take my word for it. This scourge will stop!” Bill Clinton was perhaps the toughest on "crime" with his unprecedented Crime Bill, because he believed the "first responsibility of government is law and order." George W. Bush meant what he said when he warned “if you break the law, there will be a consequence.”

Slavoj Zizek recounts an old parable that helps us understand how the subjective manifestations of violence like a homicide, or a rape, or an assault, or a drug bust, or a bank robbery, or an international conflict, or terror, or civil unrest do not happen against a background of zero violence. In fact, it is the background which is the most insidious, egregious and violent of all. Violence in the objective forms of systemic and symbolic violence is ever-present and constant. The resulting pathologies, anger, abuse, and violence are all a result of a cosmic dissonance of violence already done to us.

In the parable, Zizek tells of the “worker who is suspected of stealing. Every evening, as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he rolls in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards can find nothing. It is always empty. Finally, the penny drops: what the worker is stealing are the wheelbarrows themselves…”

As the guardians of our own society, “we need to learn to step back, and disentangle ourselves from the fascinating lure of this directly visible “subjective” violence, violence performed by a clearly identifiable agent. We need to perceive the contours of the background which generates such outbursts. A step back enables us to identify a violence that sustains our very efforts to fight violence.”

The Prison Industrial Complex is a multi-billion dollar industry. After killing the black leadership of the 60's, they next thing to do was to put millions in prison. Of the 2.3 million American prisoners (roughly seven times the amount in 1971), over half are black.

Building a Prison Industrial Complex has served many purposes:

  1. Class control
  2. Billions of dollars of profit
  3. Deal with civil discontent
  4. Deal with the ugliest aspects of capitalism’s objective violence: i.e. vagrants, welfare mothers, the mentally ill, etc.
  5. Deal with the effects of neoliberal globalization: “illegal” immigrants

Being “tough on crime,” the “War on Drugs,” the “War on Poverty,” and—the most Orwellian of wars—the “War on Terror,” have all served a simple ideological purpose of perpetual wars on strawmen/scapegoats. When violent reaction reaches the absurd levels of today's world it can no longer be called an aberration, but an inherent reality of an inhumane, anti-democratic, and anti-environmental system that prefigures it. The one true crime boss is the system itself. It has successfully pitted us against ourselves and the system’s spectacular marketing has masked the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Docile and scared like sheep, we huddle together and tremble, until the master’s of mankind divide us further and further so that we can be easily picked off one-by-one.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Local Neutrality

Che Bob is busy so I'll (Troutsky) jump in briefly with a tale about a down home storm brewing over this issue of neutrality or perceived bias or "balance" in pubic school teaching. A lovely colleague of Che Bobs (who I had the pleasure of a long conversation with last night) was confronted by her school board and an irate parent when one of her students reported home that she had watched an "anti-capitalist" film in her science class and that it was part of the liberal teachers "agenda".

I actually got to see the film last night (The Story of Stuff) and it does provide a critique of current market fundamentalism but does not call for the workers to own the means of production or for an end to the profit-wage system. Which is beside the point. The point of course being academic freedom, the ability of teachers to present challenging material to high school students. After a long, detailed power-point presentation by the conservative Dad ( who has a more favorable view of "stuff" and "the invisible hand"), the teacher was censored not due to the showing of inappropriate material, but because "she had not provided the proper context" ie , had used her position of power in a way that reflected her bias.

Her "bias" is that she believes in ( she told me she actually loves) science. Her "bias" is she believes the ecosystem is in trouble and we need to start paying attention. To the ideological Right (and religious) this is an attack on their belief system, including the "free market" (I think they are correct) and they are caught between pedagogy and what is more and more obviously a bankrupt ideology. Pedagogically speaking, (almost) every teacher starts from a pro-capitalist bias in whatever discipline they teach, history, English, social studies, etc. Yet theirs is unquestionably considered the normatively "neutral" position. Conservatives scream for "balance" because their basic paranoid delusion entails a "liberal education establishment". (anti-God, anti-capitalist, anti-white)

Well I want "balance" too, if that's how they want to play it. Every white supremacist, communist, pagan, hermaphrodite, fascist, holocaust denying believer in aliens should demand "equal time " from their school boards and we'll see what "neutrality" really looks like! Troutsky

Friday, December 26, 2008

Neutrality...yeah right!

The false god of neutrality is yet another effect of modern capitalism! Neutrality represents an attack on classical liberalism and the idea that each of us is a searching, self-perfecting being. Capitalism would like us to believe that in some Hegelian way we've reached the ideal state (economically, politically, and ideologically). Even if Fukuyama thought that the capitalist state wasn't perfect and that plenty about capitalism isn't fair (think CB and Sonia), he did believe it is the best system available to humans. So if we teach neutrality it must be based on the idea that we cannot transcend the current economic system. Neutrality can now be centered on a capitalistic system. All value follows from there.

So neutrality is therefore neither possible nor desirable. If we teach neutrality we teach moral apathy and this is something capitalism demands of its teachers. It is parallel to the intolerance taught by religions. So to me, the best place to start getting rid of our world's three-headed monster (hierarchy, capitalism and religion) is none other than school themselves.

I remind my colleagues on a daily basis that schools are supposed to be those places where nothing is sacred...that place is church. I remind them that inside the halls of education everything must be treated in revolutionary terms. We must seek to transcend our current understanding. We must seek to move beyond what we treat as common sense. We must assume we are unfinished. We must look, prod, pull, smash, tear and deconstruct everything. This includes our language, our ideas, our ethics, our science, etc.

We cannot allow the moral police to enter our sphere (though they are ever prevalent and vigilant) anymore than they already have, unless they are willing to be adult about their positions and subject them to ruthless critique. If they continue to isolate themselves from analysis, they must be ignored. School boards are chalk full of the conservative religious types and they need to go away...and since this isn't happening, they must be ignored!!! Their values have place in churches, not schools. Leave the sacred (superstition) to the church or private religious schools! They have nothing to offer schools but a case study in superstition, intolerance and imposed ignorance. More importantly, teachers must be willing to be fired defending the cause of critical, revolutionary education.

Neutrality is even a claim of our media. Everywhere neutrality is claimed despite the self-deception that it is impossible and assumes certain values. These values are themselves debatable in how they are applied versus how they are abstractly discussed. That is why any knucklehead can go to their local high school and watch a couple of young debaters in a Lincoln-Douglas debate use the same exact value to dispute each others positions on complicated social, political and economic issue.

So a teacher naively hoping to be neutral could say: "using the value of 'justice' one of you defend the death penalty and the other oppose it." We now see that defining 'justice' then becomes the location of the debate. What is the neutral position in this highly debated issue like the death penalty or abortion? Does one exist? One could perhaps offer nuance to one of these issues, but it doesn't make them neutral. So how can a neutral position exist in the academic realm on issues concerning social or political relations?

Is the social studies teacher capable of neutrally recapitulating history? Not if he or she is ethical they aren't.

Can the English teacher be neutral when discussing Anne Frank's Diary or To Kill a Mockingbird?

Is the Spanish teacher neutral who takes students to Nicaragua and chooses not to ignore that the U.S. was condemned by the International Court for terrorism?

How can an ecology teacher be neutral or value-free when teaching about the environment today?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It Has Been Way Too Long

I was blown away to realize I haven't posted since July! It's been an absolute whirlwind getting into this school year, organizing with the Two Rivers Branch of the IWW and CAJA (Community Action for Justice in the Americas). So I thought I'd maybe give a quick update of the things that have been going on lately.

I took 10 students and three parents to Nicaragua with Global Exchange at the beginning of November. The organization that led our tour in Nicaragua was called Matagalpa Tours. I was very impressed with their work.

Some of the highlights of this tour were a two-night homestay in a Fair Trade coffee community called El Roblar; a baseball game with that community's youth; a soccer game with one of the only women's soccer teams in the entire country; visits with Nicaragua's "Civil Coordinator" (equivalent to a human rights expert), unions, women's radio station (La Vos), water and electricity defender; a visit to a "free-trade zone" with sweatshops; a jungle canopy tour; and most powerfully a visit to the municipal dump called La Chureca.

This fall, I was also occuppied with a student retreat to the mountains outside Helena, MT to create a student group called Students for Social Economic and Environmental Justice (SSEEJ). During this retreat the students decided on campaigns to affect change within their own school, including an effort have the school's coffee kiosk become 100% fair trade coffee; an effort to have the school's apparel to become 100% sweatfree; an effort to reduce the amount of the overall energy consumption; and finally, an effort to improve recycling efforts within the school.

Finally, back in October I was very busy helping to organize a speaking tour from Mexico Solidarity Network to Missoula, MT. Carlos Euceda, a community organizer, and Willy Barreno, a film-maker, came through Montana to talk about the recent passage into law of the Merida Initiative that will guarantee nearly $1.4 billion in military aid to Mexico over the next several years. Their tour was very successful and their message reached many Montanans.

All in all, this has been a very busy beginning to another school year, but I hope to be able to give more attention to my blog now.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trying Not To Think Of "Worker" As Negative

Stemming from the discussion of my last post, I thought further discussion was necessary to talk about the "working class"...or whatever that means anymore, and our efforts to get our society organized along revolutionary lines. I think it prudent to look in as many directions as possible for lessons, ideas, and theory. I recently found Murray Bookchin's short essays about the anarchosyndicalist revolution of 1936 instructive.

Please forgive the wholesale use of Bookchin to elucidate what I was trying to say in my last post, not too mention what I think John Holloway is also trying to say in Change the World Without Taking Power, but here you go:

The limitations of the trade union movement, even in its anarchosyndicalist form, have become manifestly clear. To see in trade unions (whether syndicalist or not) an inherent potentiality for revolutionary struggle is to assume that the interests of workers and capitalists, merely as classes, are intrinsically incompatible. This is demonstrably untrue if one is willing to acknowledge the obvious capacity of the system to remake or to literally create the worker in the image of a repressive industrial culture and rationality. From the family, through the school and religious institutions, the mass media, to the factory and finally trade union and "revolutionary" party, capitalist society conspires to foster obedience, hierarchy, the work ethic, and authoritarian discipline in the working class as a whole; indeed, in many of its "emancipatory" movements as well.

The factory and the class organizations that spring from it play the most compelling role in promoting a well-regulated, almost unconscious docility in mature workers--a docility that manifests itself not so much in characterless passivity as in a pragmatic commitment to hierarchical organizations and authoritarian leaders. Workers can be very militant and exhibit strong, even powerful character traits in the most demanding social situations; but these traits can be brought as much , if not more readily, to the service of a reformist labor bureaucracy as to a libertarian revolutionary movement. They must break with the hold of bourgeois culture on their sensibilities--specifically, with the hold of the factory, the locus of the workers' very class existence--before they can move into that supreme form of direct action called "revolution," and further, construct a society they will directly control in their workshops and communities.

This amounts to saying that workers must see themselves as human beings, not as class beings; as creative personalities, not as "proletarians"; as self-affirming individuals, not as "masses.' And the destiny of a liberated society must be the free commune, not the confederation of factories, however self-administered; for such a confederation takes a part of society--its economic component--and reifies it into the totality of society. Indeed, even that economic component must be humanized precisely by our bringing an "affinity of friendship" to the work process, by diminishing the role of onerous work in the lives of producers, indeed, by a total "transvaluation of values" (to use Nietzsche's phrase) as it applies to production and consumption as well as social and personal life.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Get Organized in the Workplace Now!

It is interesting that while many of us involved in social and economic justice expend a great deal of energy and effort struggling for justice around the globe, we fail to see ourselves as workers. And why should we want to? Be “workers” that is. US Americans are taught a highly contradictory message about our labor, which is: we must admire the blue-collar sector for its hard work and invaluable contributions to our society, but we mustn’t aspire to be them. So most of us go to college in order to avoid becoming “them.” I know I did!

“We do not struggle as working class, we struggle against being working class, against being classified… There is nothing good about being members of the working class, about being ordered, commanded, separated from our product and our process of production. Struggle arises not from the fact that we are working class but from the fact that we-are-and-are-not working class, that we exist against-and-beyond being working class, that they try to order and command us but we do not want to be ordered and commanded, that they try to separate us from our product and our producing and our humanity and our selves and we do not want to be separated from all that. In this sense, working-class identity is not something “good” to be treasured, but something “bad,” something to be fought against, something that is fought against, something that is constantly at issue.

The working class cannot emancipate itself in so far as it is working class. It is only is so far as we are not working class that the question of emancipation can ever be posed… The working class does not stand outside capital: on the contrary it is capital that defines it (us) as working class. Labor stands opposed to capital, but it is an internal opposition. It is only as far as labor is something more than labor; the worker more than a seller of labor power, that the issue of revolution can even be posed.” -John Holloway, Change the World Without Taking Power

Many of us already hold jobs, yet I imagine most of us have put little thought into organizing our own workplaces. There are many, many reasons for this, but the fact remains that US American labor remains largely unorganized (also for a number of reasons) and as a result we reinforce the market forces which continue to divide us. Sacrificing our time, energy and labor for the cause of economic and social justice while helping to reproduce the social order seems counter-productive and highly contradictory. Don’t we reinforce the capitalist way of life (with all its vicious divisions, exploitation, thoughtless consumption, concentration of power, etc.) and undermine our own good intentions and social initiatives to create a better world if all we do is change shopping habits? The collaboration between state and capital is incomparably more powerful than the combined efforts of protest, boycotts, and rallies. Fifteen million people took to the streets to stop the invasion in Iraq and yet our memory of that day has faded away.

Even the most radical and revolutionary non-profits (and especially NGO’s) often reproduce undemocratic corporate business models that disempower employees/associates (workers) by separating them from the very decisions that affect their lives. Everywhere we look we are reproducing the world against which we as activists for peace and justice struggle. We are not slowing thoughtless consumption and the production of destructive weapons; we are upholding it by refusing to seize power in the workplace where it is all created.

Many of you are fellow workers, so I am going to be a little pushy and ask that you give these ideas some serious thought. I know that all of us are very passionate about what we do and to which causes we give our efforts and energy, so I completely appreciate the way in which our time is limited. However, I did not arrive to this point by accident or haphazardly. I too spent—and continue to spend—a good deal of my creative energy and passion struggling for the goals and objectives of three groups: Community Action for Justice in the Americas (I'm a board member), Witness for Peace and Students for Economic and Social Justice (University of Montana). I love, with all my heart, these organizations. And they are an integral part of the struggle for a better world. However, I feel there are self-evident limits to the kind of effects that that work alone can have in changing the system. At the same time, I am not in the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) because I expect to see a revolution or to smash capitalism while I am alive (although I love to say these things and it would be nice! J). I do, however, expect to see and experience a drastic increase in democratic and direct discussions and actions that will lead to very tangible and material benefits. Above all, I expect to see drastic changes in power relationships. And we all agree that it is power who decides (i.e. bosses and their politicians).

Our social factory (including the Spectacular Society) has done such a thorough job of inoculating us against viral thinking such as the rights we should have to determine what work should be done and by whom, how it should be organized, or to what end. Also, we have not been encouraged to participate with power in how society as a whole might shape its own role in democratically organizing our material lives. No, we have been limited to negotiating the price of labor (a “negotiation” that has led to little more that a savage wage slave system).

I would hope that we think about the possibilities of directly participating in the class war through our workplaces and of all the potential that has for genuinely struggling alongside the faceless multitude of sweatshop workers for whom we fight. Beyond the inherent contradiction of fighting for social and economic justice without our selves being engaged in workplace democracy, we have a chance to address the complexity of globalization, off-shoring, immigration, and exploitative labor practices right where we work. How can we relate to workplace struggles if we are not engaged in them? We shouldn’t want better wages here and there, we should expect the world! Even in non-profits, we should be telling our board of directors: “one worker, one vote.” Without us there is no non-profit. “Labor has to become more than labor, the worker more than a seller of labor power.” Let’s open the books and let’s look at the numbers together. Clearly, non-profits are not a primary target for IWW labor organizing (though the IWW has already organized a couple of non-profits and is developing a model for non-profit workplace democracy right here in Missoula), but I expect many of us will end up working in this industry, so we shouldn’t forget the contradictions that exist even in the more ostensibly benign workplaces.

So let’s start telling the boss that we are going to make some changes in the workplace. We are going to start making decisions democratically. When we can do these things here and now, we are going to be much more credible as a force for justice over "there"! There is no war but class war!

Friday, March 28, 2008


“I like to be human because in my unfinishedness I know that I am conditioned. Yet conscious of such conditioning, I know that I can go beyond it, which is the essential difference between conditioned and determined existence…In other words, my presence in the world is not so much of someone who is merely adapting to something “external,” but of someone who is inserted as if belonging essentially to it. It’s the position of one who struggles to become the subject and maker of history and not simply a passive, disconnected object.” Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

I am so thankful that we don’t have pre-determined existences, and that we have socio-historical vocations to determine ourselves ontologically. Call it free will, call it an ontological vocation, or call it choice. Needless to say, we have a choice and we can become active agents actively pursuing our being in this world, instead of passive receptacles of a life pre-determined by the conditioning of external forces. In the modern context, these forces stem from the market-system which conditions us, and prefers us to be and to feel as we do (reticent, tired, overwhelmed, hopeless, helpless, crazy, irrational, isolated, etc.). The perceived divinity of market forces conditions us to believe our roles as workers, students, parents, consumers, citizens, spouses, children, elderly, etc. are both predetermined and limited by the “invisible hand” of the market.

So what is one of the most radical things we can do? Become aware of our conditioning and sharpen our edge for perceiving all of the socio-cultural, historical and even genetic factors that have conditioned our construction. Recognize that “it would be ironic if the awareness of my presence in the world did not at the same time imply a recognition that I could not be absent from the construction of my own presence.” If we fail to recognize our role in determining who we are and how we’ll live our every moment, we renounce our “historical, ethical, social, and political responsibility for [our] own evolution.” So in that sense, according to Freire, we are renouncing our ontological vocation to intervene in the world.

Once we recognize that we are alive and free to pursue our ontological vocation of becoming, we must remain vigilant to external conditioning. Instead of thinking of it as burdensome “work,” we should celebrate the freedom of determining for ourselves who we want to be, and think of it as our duty to ourselves. And with the choice to become a constructive presence in our own worlds, comes necessary training, education, self-reflection, and yes, dutiful “work.” There is a two-steps-forward-one-step-back pace to life.

Here is where our vigilance and constant recognition of the conditioning is all important. Externally, market forces recognize and capitalize on our unfinishedness and lead us to believe that without the market we cannot resolve our anxieties about being unfinished. Indeed, market forces wish us to see our “unfinishedness” as simply a phase in a pre-determined life. Market forces further strap a relatively benign idea of unfinishedness with notions that the “vocation of becoming” is more burdensome than one can manage alone or with the limited time one has to pursue such frivolousness. “Oh, if one only had more energy, money and time!”

And, frankly, we have lost our time. We have lost our energy. And so we have lost our roles in our own lives. We are not actually making history anymore, though the mediated images of the spectacle delude this perception so that we see ourselves as choosing. All we are doing is surviving. We are managing pre-determined lives from debt to debt, from holiday to holiday, from grocery visit to grocery visit, or from out-dated laptop to out-date laptop. In between, we might go through a phase of cleaning house and “taking control” over our lives. We suddenly become determined to turn our lives around and get into shape only to lose track of that fleeting emotional “choice” to the burdens of economics and diminishing time. Trapped in a tide of ceaseless pounding by market forces, we are clinging to rocks like barnacles: inert, inactive and eating whatever the waves bring us.

The difference between a market-driven plan to “take control” of one’s life and the kind of conscientization called for by Freire is fundamental. Rather than a Dr. Phil “Relationship Rescue” plan that ignores the cosmic conditioning of our lives and pretends to end our problems after a pre-determined program of study, Freire asks us to recognize our incompletedness as fundamental to the human condition. Our lives require a constant cycle of research, reflection and then action. From each action will undoubtedly evoke new challenges that will require more education, reflection and subsequent action. This kind of ontological—and radical—action on our parts both individually and collectively subverts market determinism and increasingly liberates the human experience.

In order to undermine the monoliths of inevitability, and pre-determination which was historically influenced by fear, superstition, and cosmological anxiety and then institutionalized by neoliberal philosophy and religion, we must insist on the necessity of conscientization. Becoming aware of our conditioning and our unfinishedness lends itself to an honesty and curiosity that rarely manifests in our world.

Can you imagine a world of conscientious, curious and honest people?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Missoula's Labor Film Festival and the Bay Area's Anarchist Book Fair

Damn! I'm jealous! Another year, another Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair, and I'm not there. My friend in Oakland tells me about this every year and I still haven't had the fortune of being there.

Check out the link and see for yourself what makes this event so amazing. There are many video posts and descriptions of the kinds of books and vendors that are present.
Last night, Missoula hosted the first night of their 3rd annual Labor Film Festival in the Roxy Theater. I'm proud to say it, but there were more Wobblies in attendance than any other single union! (Way to go Wobs)! There were three great films, including Morristown (which I borrowed from the organizers to show to my class!), all about the devastating effects of trade liberalization on Mexico and the U.S. The film is an excellent discussion with U.S. workers whose lives have been ruined by NAFTA and corporate off-shoring.

Tonight there are two more films, including a film by Ken Loach called Bread and Roses. We will also be raffling off some prizes, including a $200 gas card, a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle (I hope a Wobbly doesn't win it, then people will think we are arming ourselves!), and many other things.

Montanans continue to express interest in the IWW as our numbers and community support grows. Our presence is increasingly noticeable; we are seeing our decals, buttons and t-shirts around on the streets. Fights are brewing, so bosses beware!