Saturday, April 08, 2023

Main Blog Moved to Kersplebedeb.com!

Since March 2013, the main Kersplebedeb website has been migrated to a primarily wordpress format.

What this means in practical terms is that everything you are used to seeing on Sketchy Thoughts is now being posted straight to Kersplebedeb and simply being automatically mirrored here. So in general, you will probably have a better reading/viewing experience if you head over to Kersplebedeb.

For those who prefer the Sketchy Thoughts blogger layout for whatever reason, this page will continue to be automatically updated whenever something is posted to Kersplebedeb, for at least the short-term future. However, as additional functionality is added to the Kersplebedeb site via wordpress, the Sketchy Thoughts page will probably begin to show its age more and more.



Friday, May 15, 2015

A New Beginning or the Beginning of the End: A Question to the Leadership

It is said that history repeats itself. There is some truth to be found within this statement. All existing matter, be it organic or inorganic, and social phenomenon alike, have a history of endless development, a process of becoming, being, and passing away and into something qualitatively new altogether.

But development does not, nor should it be misunderstood, as proceeding along a straight line. Linearism is a product of the human mind, a human construct, that fails to correspond with the external material world and the laws inherent within it that govern the direction and development of its endless transformation.

History, like every other existing thing in this world, develops not in a straight line, like a recording on a reel that repeats itself continually, but in a cyclical like ascendancy, with each cycle repeating itself qualitatively distinct from the previous one, or as V.I. Lenin described: “A development that repeats, as it were, stages that have already been passed, but repeats them in a different way, on a higher basis (negation of negation), a development, so to speak, that proceeds in spirals, not in a straight line.”

At this particular stage in our struggle, we are coming full circle as history is once again repeating itself. This is a critical moment, and the life or death of our struggle is being decided by our response to the Security Threat Group and Step Down Program [S.T.G. and S.D.P. respectively] that we have allowed the state to impose upon us.

The fact that we are assisting the state to perpetuate its policy of social extermination under a new label directly reflects the deterioration of our collective unity and the resurgence of the vile individualism that has come to characterize the prison population of the last two decades.

If we are to take a correct measurement of our current situation and the trajectory we are now on, we must place the S.T.G. and S.D.P within its proper historical context, and this requires that we once again revisit the Castillo case with an understanding of the 602 process and the function it serves. The 602 process serves two main simultaneous functions: First, by seeking relief on an individual basis, it distracts and divides us from the issues that impact us as a group. Secondly, the administrative process is dragged out for so long and the petitioner is required to jump through so many hoops that eventually most petitioners grow exhausted and abandons all attempts at seeking relief from the violations committed by the state.

Embodied with this statement is the age-old strategy of “divide and conquer”, which the CDC has learned to employ against us with great efficiency. And everytime we utilize the 602 process individually as the only means of achieving transformation, like a ju-jitsu fi ghter we allow the state to turn our own individualism against ourselves as a means to deprive us of the unity and momentum necessary for waging a successful struggle. More important, this strategy is not limited to the 602 process alone, but is a common feature that permeates all interactions between the state and ourselves. This is inevitable being that the state’s apparatus of repression in all of its various forms—the judicial system, police, military, intelligence, etc., especially the prison system—is an inherently oppressive institution by design.

As most of us can recall, the Castillo case was a long, arduous legal battle that raged in the judiciary arena for some ten years in a noble effort to eliminate the state’s inhumane practice of “social extermination”, i.e., keeping us alive as living and breathing empty vessels without the social intercourse necessary for one to develop identity (emphasis added by Ed). For reasons left unexamined we failed to complement this legal battle with any other forms of direct resistance, while IGI fascists and the CDC bureaucracy remained adamantly consistent throughout in its own efforts to keep us divided. Despite the absence of subjective conditions (a politically conscious mass of prisoners), the state recognized that nonetheless the objective conditions were conducive for large-scale resistance. And once again, remaining true to form, we allowed them to exploit our own self-interests in a successful effort to prevent this potential from materializing. When, as Anthony Artiaga pointed out in his recent article: The six year “active/inactive gang status review” was created and implemented. A policy requiring a validated inmate to remain free of any and all gang related activity and association “for no period less than six years in order to reconsider (but rarely granted) general population release….

All hope for a unified resistance dissipated and “everyman-for-himself” was now consolidated and set in stone, with the initial release of a relatively insignificant number of validated SHU prisoners back into general population, we cultivated and insured our own further atomization from each other as we pursued our search for escape on an individual basis by way of the six year inactive review policy. Despite the fact that group oppression necessitates group resistance, the state has learned long ago that we are easily defeated when we are tossed a bone that appeals to our self-interest. The state accomplishes this with little effort, sadly, when it sold us on a false hope that we could all obtain inactive status as individuals.

To reiterate, Joseph Dzhucashvili stated that dialectical and historical materialism teaches us that: “…the process of development should not be understood as a movement in a circle, not as a simple repetition of what has already occurred, but as an onward and upward movement, as a transition from … the simple to the complex.”

It has been roughly fifteen years since the Castillo case settled, and the empty promise of the six year inactive review policy was implemented—and here we are coming full circle. Like in the Castillo case, the state has initiated its imposition of the S.T.G. and S.D.P., pacifying potential resistance with the release of SHU prisoners back into the general population, although this time around the numbers have been significantly greater and have included elements from amongst the “leadership” thus creating an externally superficial illusion of victory.

Throughout the hunger strikes we paid an extraordinary amount of lip service to the necessity of collective unity, and yet when the state employed its own counter-tactics to create fissures and divisions amongst us once again, we assisted them in their endeavor. Without any consideration for long term consequences, or the immediate obvious fact that our current circumstances, or the immediately obvious fact that our current circumstances are far more dire now that when we first initiated our strikes, we could not trip over each other fast enough to sign release forms acknowledging guilt of past association, or membership, “post facto” in our scramble to get out. This fidelity to philosophic pragmatism and its application will come back to bite us. Within the last twelve months the state claims to have released seventy percent of those previously held within the tombs of the Security Housing Unit (SHU), and yet the number of those in isolation have remained consistently steady. Philosophically, idealism is a still a poisonous weed that continues to distort the mind of many. In spite of those who are proclaiming victory, reality is not determined by wishful thinking.

The demand to eliminate collective punishment was not only not achieved, but true to its fascist inclinations the CDC retaliated by making it policy and thus giving pseudolegitimization to its practice, via the new STG with the SDP, the IGI has extended its reach even further. Anyone having belonged to any group, or street gang (past or present), or possessing any political opinions reflecting a class position other than their own, can be isolated indefinitely without any connection to a particular prison gang. Our vulnerability has increased in direct proportion to the increase of state power.

Like the six year inactive review policy, the number of those now being released under the S.T.G. and S.D.P. will decrease dramatically and ultimately taper off to a trickle in correlation to our own struggle losing steam with the waning of outside support. If we are to inject life back into our struggle, we must absolutely understand the S.T.G. and S.D.P. for what it is, i.e., another means to perpetuate indefinite isolation under a new label. We have not achieved our goal of ending social-extermination. This is not a spiteful, nor rhetorical question, but we must sincerely ask ourselves—“is this truly a victory, or a failure being sold as a victory by those reactionary elements amongst us?

With each state in the historical development of our struggle, changes in policy alone have only amounted to a change in label, allowing the state to maintain it trajectory without interruption. If we are to eliminate social-extermination, “abstract” changes in policy must be facilitated with “concrete” transformations. We must transform the various Ad Seg and SHU facilities from within, otherwise indefi nite isolation will continue unabated and the state will manufacture a new label whenever circumstances necessitate, be in “program failure”, “validation”, or the latest gem from the CDC’s book of labels “S.T.G. and S.D.P.”, etc.

If we are to greatly reduce, or eliminate, their ability to permanently isolate us, we must struggle for the installation of two 4-man tables in each pod, phones, exercise bars (dip, pull up, push up combo) designed and fabricated by prisoners, cellies, Day Room time for social development and preservation of the individual’s identity. Social intercourse is a “human right” that needs to be established to facilitate these changes—both in policy and practice. To accomplish this, “limited association” must be our primary demand, and if collective unity is to be more than empty rhetoric, then we must likewise adjust our demands (which can be done without compromising the original five) and address the interests of those in G.P., such as weights, family visits, the question of prison labor and wages, etc. These are issues that concern all prisoners, S.N.Y.1 and solid alike, and therefore we should be appealing and accepting support from all corners of the prison system.

If we are to resuscitate life back into our struggle, we must adjust our tactics to meet the changing conditions. If there are any amongst the leadership or anyone politically conscious, who are still dedicated to our original goals, I believe we can achieve this with a small group of strikers consisting of 10, 15, maybe 20 “volunteers” willing to fast consecutively one at a time (or in pairs?) to the end. Each striker could initiate his fast with a new striker on standby joining in at 20-day intervals. And with leadership guidance and blessing, this could be complemented with a state with a statewide prisoner work-stoppage and halt of all movement.

Pre-written and recorded statements, interviews, photo, etc., of each “volunteer” could be provided to various media outlets, TV, radio, newspapers, internet, etc., prior to each striker initiating his fast, preventing the CDC from denying or sweeping deaths under the rug with minimal publicity. This may seem drastic but have we not already lost life with each strike, while not accomplishing anything substantial?

Nonetheless, I know this is a controversial issue with many sides and aspects to it and a proposal of this magnitude needs to be put on the table and discussed. And although the Comrade Ed and I are probably in more or less agreement with my analysis, we have gone back and forth on the issue of a smaller strike of dedicated “volunteers.” I believe that we have both made valid points, but we would encourage both the leadership and other potential volunteers for their contribution to this discussion.


This article first appeared in Prison Focus #44, Fall 2014

 

  1. Ed’s Note: The so called “convict code” is dead. Prisoners killed it. All any of us remember of the code is that we don’t rat. Yes, SNY has rats, get over it. They are prisoners fi rst, rats second. You leaders created the SNY, now you need to eliminate the need for such facilities. We need a new code, an “all of us or none” code.


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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Autonomedia Books via Leftwingbooks.NET



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Monday, May 11, 2015

Interesting (online) Things i have read recently



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Monday, May 04, 2015

Looking for Information about Tear Gassed Children on May 1st in Montreal

After witnessing various incomprehensible scenes last Friday (May 1st), some member of the “Parents United Against Austerity” committee would like to get into contact with people whose children were teargassed, in order to collect statements about what happened. Please contact us at comite.parents.unis@gmail.com

Please forward widely

Après avoir assisté à des scènes hors de l’entendement hier, (1er mai 2015), certains membres du comité de ”Parents unis contre l’austérité” cherchent à entrer en contact avec des gens dont les enfants ont été gazés afin de récolter des témoignages. Veuillez nous contacter au comite.parents.unis@gmail.com

Svp Diffusez largement



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The History and Present Reality of Workers Struggles in the South of China

Where/Lieu: 5323 rue Brébeuf (Montréal)
When/Quand: 6:30pm Friday May 8th/Vendredi le 8 mai

**français ci-dessous**

A new wave of labour strikes has been developing in the south of China since the beginning of 2015.

Workers at Yuyuan, a Taiwan shoe factory which produces international brands like Nike, Adidas, and PUMA, are once again on strike. Last year, 100,000 workers went on strike for their retirement system.

Mei Leung, an activist from Hong Kong, will give us a brief history of different workers struggles in the south of China.

The workshop will be in English, with whisper translation.

**************************************

La lutte des travailleur-es dans le sud de la Chine – Histoire et présent

Une nouvelle vague de grève des travailleur-es se développe au sud de la Chine depuis le début de 2015.
Les travailleur-es de Yuyuan, usine de chaussures à Taiwan qui produit pour des marques internationales comme Nike, Adidas, et PUMA, sont de nouveau en grève. L’année dernière, 100 000 travailleur-es ont fait grève pour leurs système de retraite.

Mei Leung, militante de Hong Kong, nous présentera une brève histoire des différentes luttes des travailleur-es en Chine du sud

L’atelier sera donné en Anglais, traduction chuchotée disponible.



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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement

eurocentrism_cover_0Robert Biel’s Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement traces the history of Eurocentric — and anti-Eurocentric — currents in the Marxist-Leninist tradition, arguing that this distortion was key to the development and spread of revisionism, and ultimately to the failures of the communist project, in the 20th century.

A work of intellectual history, Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement explores the relationship between Eurocentrism, alienation, and racism, while tracing the different ideas about imperialism, colonialism, “progress”, and non-European peoples as they were grappled with by revolutionaries in both the colonized and colonizing nations. Teasing out racist errors and anti-racist insights within this history, Biel reveals a century-long struggle to assert the centrality of the most exploited within the struggle against capitalism.

The roles of key figures in the Marxist-Leninist canon — Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao — within this struggle are explored, as are those of others whose work may be less familiar to some readers, such as Sultan Galiev, Lamine Senghor, Lin Biao, R.P. Dutt, Samir Amin, and others.

Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement was written in the context of the declining British Maoist movement of the late 1980s. As Robert Biel explains in his preface to this new edition,

“The work responded to a strong sense that the important task was to construct a Marxist theory of political economy which could reflect the real relationships in the contemporary world system. That was the constructive task but, before we could attempt it, we also had to conduct a negative task — one of demolition: to identify and remove the blockage that stood in our way. This blockage was the thing we identified as Eurocentrism, a trend which imprisoned theory in an economistic and mechanical framework, denying the real dynamics of history in which the world outside the major European powers has always played such a major role, and does so still in the form of the liberation movements against all forms of oppression and neo-colonialism.

“On the basis of the research conducted in the current book, I felt I was in a position to begin the constructive task, reflected in my book The New Imperialism (2000). In this book, I sought to show that the superficial consolidation of world capitalism (then still in a somewhat triumphalist phase) was premised on an intensification of capitalism’s fundamental contradictions — on the destruction of human resources and the physical environment—and that the different forms of alienation highlighted by Marx are still fully present, and more specifically, that the global order remains profoundly racist. In my most recent book, The Entropy of Capitalism (2012), I have described a system now beginning to unravel under the force of these contradictions. In this sense, Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement forms the beginning of a trilogy, the more destructive and explicitly polemical part, aiming to clear the terrain.”

In pursuit of this “destructive”, anti-racist and anti-colonial goal, Biel has made an important contribution to understanding the development of Marxist thought in the 19th and 20th centuries, with strategic implications for our current revolutionary project:

“Declining capitalism seems locked in a death-embrace with the symptoms of its own decay. While going to its own grave, it is determined to drag humanity down with it. To reverse this tendency is the task now facing the left. … Where the system marginalises the periphery, the excluded, we must place them in the centre of the picture. … It is not certain that the radical forces will be able to seize this chance and rescue humanity. But, if armed with a historical understanding which identifies the most intensely oppressed and the most creative forces, it will indeed be equipped to rise to the challenge.”

 

What People Are Saying

“Robert Biel’s Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement is a conscientious and well-researched effort to present Eurocentrism as a colonial, racist and social-chauvinist mentality and phenomenon. It decries this problem as having overvalued European developments and influence under the rubric of ‘progress’, depreciated the history and dynamic of the oppressed peoples and nations, subordinated their revolutionary role and aspirations to the European states and industrial proletariat and in effect favoured colonialism and the slave trade and the entire train of consequences up to neocolonialism and neoliberalism.” — Professor José María Sison, chairperson of the International Coordinating Committee, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

“Biel challenges not only Eurocentrism but the corresponding economic determinism that has frequently limited the scope and reach of radical Left social movements. I found myself thinking about the famous phrase, attributed to Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, to the effect that ‘…the truth is always revolutionary.’ To which I would add, no matter how challenging it may be to address it.” — Bill Fletcher, Jr., co-author of Solidarity Divided; syndicated columnist

“A long overdue second appearance as it was singularly the most outstanding contribution in the checkered history of the anti-revisionist movement in Britain … an exciting, fertile exploration to developing the need to make concrete and relevant the general theses adopted in the 1960s.” — Sam Richards, Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism Online

 

About the Author

Robert Biel teaches political ecology at University College London and is the author of The New Imperialism and The Entropy of Capitalism. He researches systems theory and conducts a wide-ranging practical programme on urban agriculture.

 

Product Details

Author: Robert Biel
Format: Paperback
Size: 215 pages
ISBN: 978-1-894946-71-1
Publisher: Kersplebedeb Publishing
2015
Price:$17.95 (USD)

Available from leftwingbooks.net



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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gender and Capitalism in China Today, a Discussion in Montreal

7985659685_942d48656a_zOn May 7th, join us for a discussion of the role gender plays in workers’ exploitation and resistance in contemporary China, looking specifically at changes in the appearance of the oppression of female workers between the socialist period and the capitalist restoration, as well as issues facing migrant female workers under the triple oppression of Patriarchy, Capitalism, and the State.

This presentation is by Mei Leung, a labor activist from Hong Kong who has also been active around workers’ struggles in Mainland China for the past nine years. The talk is being co-sponsored by Kersplebedeb Publishing and No One Is Illegal Montreal, and is a part of the Festival of Anarchy.

 

Where: QPIRG Concordia, 1500 de Maisonneuve O. suite 204 (Guy-Concordia metro)
When: Thursday May 7th, 7pm

Facebook event: http://ift.tt/1KapmB3

For more information, contact info@kersplebedeb.com



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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Daring to Struggle, @ UQAM

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RESPECT to the strike defenders at UQAM and their allies. It was a full-day battle today (April 8), from early morning till late night. I only observed first-hand the crescendo tonite, after the intervention of what was clearly over 100+ riot police, backed up by bike cops, at the Da Sève Building occupation. The resilience of UQAM resisters is inspiring.


For a sense of what happened earlier today at UQAM, and the solidarity and support shown by students when the cops got called in, check out this video:


There were 21 arrests (some reports of 22) with at least 11 women-identified protesters among the group. There would have undoubtedly been more arrests if not for the fight-back by students. People arrested are facing criminal charges (mischief, illegal assembly). Many of those arrested weren’t released until just a few hours ago.


A student strike is messy, especially with a repressive administration, scab-enabling mainstream media, and certain moderate sectors of the movement that has second-guessed a strike that “this time” is too radical in scope and not firmly controllable. Student strikes are at their heart the grassroots students and their support networks actually enforcing and defending the strike (a much fewer number of dedicated activists, disproportionately the so-called masked radicals, and definitely not mainstream-media friendly).


Because of the police intervention in the afternoon, and the arrests of dear comrades, students and supporters had a spontaneous assembly in the Da Sève Building (near Ste-Catherine & St-Denis) that turned into an open-ended occupation.


I got there after 9:30pm tonite, and the atmosphere at the occupation was festive and rambunctious. Music, dancing, food, conversation, and a lot of debriefing of what’s been happening in the past few days and week, particularly the heavy-handed approach of UQAM administration. There were several hundred people present.


[A musical highlight was George Moustaki’s “Sans la nommer”]


I didn’t see anything directly myself, but I eventually saw the aftermath of the systematic removal of UQAM’s pervasive surveillance cameras. Kudos to whoever was involved with that! Amazing work.


Eventually, it was obvious that the police would intervene, after getting a request from the UQAM administration. The SPVM (Montreal police) even tweeted about it:


spvm_uqam_tweet


It was also clear what the police had in mind via their communications on police radio (which I only heard about second and third-hand: it was journalists who were listening to the scanner most intently). The cops were claiming: “we want arrests, not a dispersion” and they made sure to talk about the ambulances that were on-call to deal with anticipated injuries.


I was part of the outside support group, while inside the building was fully barricaded. All available furniture and material – chairs, desks, couches, shelves, recycling boxes, garbage bins – became barricades to keep the cops out. A huge oversize banner – with the expression: Oser lutter, c’est oser vaincre [Daring to struggle is to dare to win] – was used to cover the metro level approach to the main occupation area. Here’s a photo of the banner from a demo:


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Around 12am, the occupation divided into the people barricading inside, and the outside supporters (I was in the latter group). I personally observed at least 100 police officers mobilized to take over the street and break into the occupation. Here’s a video of the cops breaking the doors to get in: http://ift.tt/1DnH033


Meanwhile, outside, the group I was part of (on Ste-Catherine, moving east) was attacked with tear gas and pepper spray, while being pushed back by bike cops and riot cops in succession.


Eventually, I headed back to the QPIRG Concordia mothership, but not before trying to get reports of possible arrests inside. The early reports are of upwards of five or more arrests, which are minimal compared to the numbers who were actually barricaded inside. But, it’s a big building, with lots of spaces to avoid cops, and lots of ways to get out (so, a big fuck you to the SPVM and UQAM administration).


Solidarity with all who kept up the fight inside Da Sève, and of course with everyone who was arrested and now facing criminal charges, and their support people.


[If you’re facing criminal charges and want some support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Contempt of Court: A Legal Clinic by and for Social Movements / Outrage au tribunal: clinique juridique par et pour les militantes et militants: http://ift.tt/1OdpAtB]


Already, there are multiple responses planned today (Thursday, April 9), with at least three demos, starting at 8:45am (rendez-vous: J-M770), another in the afternoon, and yet another night demo slated for 8pm (rendez-vous: Place Émlilie-Gamelin / métro Berri-UQAM).


With the unabashed entry of police, including armed riot police, into the heart of a university campus seen as a linchpin of the social strike against austerity, the ever-evolving Spring 2015 has decisively escalated.


– Jaggi Singh, member of No One Is Illegal-Montreal.

twitter: @JaggiMontreal


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