By William D. Cohan
Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- You’ve got to love the French. The best-selling book on Amazon.com’s French site is “Indignez- vous!,” an exceedingly slim, elegant rumination on the state of the world by Stephane Hessel, a 94-year-old former United Nations diplomat, concentration-camp survivor and hero of the French Resistance.
The 32-page book, with about 4 million copies in print in 30 languages-- including a just-published English version titled “Time for Outrage” -- is clearly meant to serve as a timely blueprint for non-violent protest. It could come in handy for the growing Occupy Wall Street movement as it continues to search for its voice and its raison d’etre (as the French would say.)
Drawing on his profound experience in the Resistance, Hessel exhorts his readers to remember -- and continue to fight for -- the Four Freedoms outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
“We are told, shamelessly, that the state cannot bear the costs of certain civil measures any longer,” Hessel writes. “But how can we lack the funds to maintain these programs when our nations enjoy greater wealth than at any time since the Liberation, when Europe lay in ruins? How else to explain this but by the corrupting power of money, which the Resistance fought so fiercely against, and which is now greater, more insolent, and more selfish than ever?
“The wealthy have installed their slaves in the highest spheres of the state. The banks are privately owned. They are concerned solely with profits. They have no interest in the common good. The gap between rich and poor is the widest it’s ever been; the pursuit of riches and the spirit of competition are encouraged and celebrated.”
He reminds us of the importance of indignation and encourages “our younger generations” to rekindle the spirit of the Resistance in a non-violent battle against injustice.
“It’s time to take over! It’s time to get angry!” he says. “Politicians, economists, intellectuals, do not surrender! The true fabric of our society remains strong. Let us not be defeated by the tyranny of the world financial markets that threaten peace and democracy everywhere. I wish all of you to find your reason for indignation. This is a precious thing.”
For “the men and women who will make the twenty-first century,” he writes emphatically, “to create is to resist[;] to resist is to create.”
In an interview with his U.S. publisher, Twelve, a division of Hachette Book Group Inc. (full disclosure: my wife works at another publishing division of Hachette SA), Hessel reflects upon the unlikely success of his tome.
“It hit a moment where so many people in so many countries are unhappy about the way they are being led and therefore they have the will to be indignant about the values that are not being supported,” he says.
He calls upon like-minded people to “look around you, look at what you consider unacceptable and get together with others who feel like you that this is unacceptable, and then put pressure on your government through the normal ways [such as] the electoral system, which is there to allow citizens to have influence on their government.
“For instance, if you feel democracy is not being run the way it should be run, [then] we have to have an inventive” and “creative, new form of democracy.”
Advice for Protesters
The Occupy Wall Street protesters are halfway following Hessel’s sage advice. In cities across the U.S. and Europe, the movement has managed during the past six weeks to pull together like-minded people who aren’t pleased with the way things are being run in their democracies. In New York, the group has proved resilient enough to stay in and around Zuccotti Park -- even though it is privately owned -- and has managed to continue to attract the attention of politicians, the mainstream media and an army of followers through social networking.
Occupy Wall Street now needs to transform its numbers and its like-minded frustration into political action, as Hessel suggests. A year before the 2012 elections, Occupy Wall Street should take a page from the Tea Party’s playbook and find people from within its ranks -- or from outside them -- who share their views of what needs to change and how (although, it must be said, that remains a bit of a mystery) to serve as candidates for local and national political offices.
The movement may have to find office space to allow a genuine political force to organize a serious and effective campaign.
The candidates clearly exist: To understand the political potential of Occupy Wall Street, one need only look to neighboring Massachusetts, where Elizabeth Warren’s anti- establishment message seems to have caught fire.
This is the moment. Failure to seize the day will make for a long, cold winter in Zuccotti Park.
(William D. Cohan, a former investment banker and the author of “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World,” is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
--Editors: Max Berley, David Henry.
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Software developers sympathetic to Occupy Wall Street are creating mobile apps and websites to help protesters communicate. Some developers work alone, while others joined forces at hackathons in New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. in mid-October.
I’m Getting Arrested
By Jason Van Anden
After Van Anden’s friend was arrested at a protest, he came up with an alternative to a phone call to spread the news. With one tap, his app blasts custom text messages to an unlimited number of contacts. After sending the messages, the phone vibrates and shows a screen that says: “Be Polite.”
By Digital Democracy
The OWS open-meeting process is egalitarian yet slow, says Mark Belinsky, co-founder of the nonprofit Digital Democracy. OccupyVotes users submit ideas into a digital pool, which are then randomly paired against each other. Users choose between the two, and the best ideas float to the top.
By Cameron Cundiff
With OWS spreading around the country, Cundiff wants to create a central feed of information pouring out of the protests. Occupyist aggregates the social media content created at each Occupy event, grabbing info posted on Facebook, Twitter, and other places.
By Nathan Hamblen
Since OWS protestors can’t use microphones during meetings without a permit, Hamblen developed an Android app called Shouty. When someone speaks into their phone, the app broadcasts the audio as a radio station and beams it to other phones over ad-hoc local networks.
Weise is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek.
The Government's newly-appointed chair of the NHS Commissioning Board has risked incurring the wrath of critics by admitting he does not use the NHS.Related articles
The admission from Professor Malcolm Grant came during a grilling he received at the hands of the House of Commons Health Committee last week.
When asked to demonstrate his ‘passion' for the NHS, the University College London provost, appointed to the role earlier this month, was forced onto the defensive by MPs.
‘Come on, what do you want me to say?' he asked. ‘I find it difficult to demonstrate because I am not a patient of the NHS.'
Professor Grant - a barrister, and former environmental lawyer, was personally endorsed by health secretary Andrew Lansley as his preferred candidate to chair the NHS Commissioning Board.
But the appointment has proved controversial, with GP leaders calling for the post to be filled by a GP, and some MPs unconvinced of his suitability for the role.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the situation was ‘as unthinkable as Man Utd handing control of their transfer kitty to [Manchester City manager] Roberto Mancini.'
Writing in the Sunday Mirror in response to the admission, Mr Burnham said: ‘It really does say it all. The first choice to control your NHS doesn't believe in it enough to use it himself.'
In the mid 19th and early 20th centuries For many generations of Hop Pickers, from all walks of life the Heart of Kent, the garden of England, had been for two months every year another source of income. Hop Picking season was here many family’s from London mainly women and children would descend apon Kent countryside. With the coming of the railway through Tonbridge in 1842 this made travelling to Kent very easy and special trains were provided for pickers. On arrival farmers with carts would meet many Family’s and provide travel and accommodation on their land. Accommodation could be as simple tent or old wooden Huts, Many other travelling family’s Gypsies who were use to the hard labour and conditions would also return to farms for the hopping season.
This is the story of the Hartlake Bridge Disaster October 20th 1853 when
30 Hop-pickers lost their lives,
The below is extracts from London illustrated news London times 1853.
Imagine the annual migration of Londoners, travellers mainly women and children, to the hop fields of Kent for the September hop picking season. Whole families worked for up to 4 weeks, staying in wooden huts provided by local farmers. Mr Cox was a farmer whose hop gardens grew both sides of the river Medway near the Hartlake Bridge at Golden Green, a little village on the outskirts of Tonbridge. Mr Cox generally a well-respected farmer who many pickers returned to each year supplied accommodation for his pickers on the Caple, Tudely side of the River Medway. On Thursday October 20th 1853 just as day meets night between 18:00 – 19:00 the hop pickers had been picking all day on the Golden Green side of the river, so the pickers would have to cross the Hartlake bridge on there journey home.
It was reported that there had been heavy rain downpours over the last few days, and the riverbanks were swollen and the surrounding areas were flooded. That evening it was still heavily raining and Mr Cox sent a wagon out to the picker to provide some shelter on the journey back. Because of the number of pickers this was made in two journeys the first journey was made although a struggle through the flooded waters it was without incident. When the wagon returned for the second journey 30- 40 people climbed aboard to make the ill fated journey. The approaches to the Hartlake bridge were flooded by 2to 3 feet this meant that the wagoner a Mr John Waghorn could not walk the horses over the bridge. The wagons was pulled by two horses one in front of each other John Waghorn mounted the lead horse to steady and guide it across the bridge, as the wagon was full a lone picker rode the shaft horse. When the wagon reached the crown of the bridge the horses swerved towards the near side of the bridge and the large wheels touched the low board skirting on the bridge. The boarding was very old and rotten and gave way, Mr Waghorn tried desperately to correct the wagon and drive to safety, but it was too late.
More of the boarding gave way and the wagon horses and 40 pickers were overturned into freezing waters of the swollen river. The horse broke free and tried to escape clambering over women and children who where also being pulled under by the raging current and wagon debris. For a few moments the scene must have been so horrific with people shouting screaming as people were being swept below the water. Some pickers managed to climb to safety and tried to help the many cries for help, from there loved ones that they were with only seconds ago. The first silence after the frightful struggle must have been really awful, of the eleven that survived out of such a large party each apart from the waggoner, had lost Father, Mother, child, brother or sister in this truly horrid tragedy. The cry for help was so load that it was herd by Mr Eldon the landlord of the Bell Inn Golden green gathering helpers they hurried but were unable to reach the poor pickers due to the flooding. Mr Cox soon received news about the accident and a party of his labourers soon arrived at the scene but flooding made it very difficult and dangerous to move around.
There was no organised rescue and no attempt was made to recover any bodies, An eyewitness report stated that groups of the bereaved friends and relatives were standing about in mute despair some with lanterns and long hop poles probing the waters for the bodies of those who were lost. A little fairheaded shoeless girl who had lost her mother, father and infant brother. Another man threw pieces of wood to direct the men with poles to the spot where he last caught glimpse of his drowning wife.
The extent of the flood made the search for the bodies of the victims very difficult and by Saturday 22 October, two days after only six had been recovered from their watery graves. In fact there appears to have been no real effort to recover the bodies, no boats had been obtained and neither had any plan for dragging the river area been put into operation. The only help available were friends and relatives with long poles.
The six poor unfortunate hop-pickers whose bodies had so far been recovered were taken on Saturday 22 October 1853, to the Bell Inn at Golden Green were the inquest was to be held. . The Inquest was presided over by Mr J N Dudlow, the Coroner from West Malling, and a jury of 13 local men under Foreman Thomas Kibble Esq. were sworn-in to consider a verdict. The Medway Navigation Company, who were responsible for Hartlake Bridge were represented by Mr Gorham, Solicitor, and Mr Hallowes, one of the managers of the Company.
After hearing evidence from the survivor's the Coroner summed-up the evidence as follows- "It was shown in evidence that although many persons had complained of the insecure state of the bridge, yet they had kept their complaints to themselves, and had not communicated with the company, or any of its officers; but no doubt that now, when a most appalling accident had occurred, there were many complaints, and they could all see what was actually wanted. One of the witnesses was particularly asked whether he had considered the bridge to be in a dangerous state, said, that he had not so considered it. Now the fence was broken they could easily see how rotten it had become, but previously there can be little doubt but that to a superficial eye the bridge would appear to be in a perfectly safe condition. It must be considered that there was a weight exceeding two tons resting against the fence, and it was from the pressure of so great a weight that the fence gave way. Now that the fence was down it was easy to perceive that it was not safe. Evidently, the result had shown that the bridge was not safe, or in a proper state; it had wanted attending to before".The jury returned the following verdict - "That the deceased were accidentally drowned, and in the opinion of the jury the accident arose entirely from the defective state of the road and the wooden bridge, and their dangerous construction, which ought to have been before remedied, and they recommended that the bridge be forthwith replaced by a substantial construction either of brick or stone". The Inquest was then formally closed.
To assist with the recovery of the remaining bodies the Medway Company ordered that the water should be dammed up above the bridge and the lock gates left open for some distance. This enabled more bodies to be recovered these were taken to the Bell Inn at Golden Green until their funeral .
On Monday the 24th October arrangements were made for the funeral of the deceased. Mr Cox provided a wagon in which the bodies were placed each covered in white cloth and attended by men from his farm. They started at 10:30 followed by relatives and friends and a large body of the country people to Hadlow churchyard just over as mile from the Bell Inn. A large square grave had been dug in the corner of the churchyard for the bodies to be laid to rest.
The cost of the funeral had to be borne by the parish of Hadlow, The Medway Company refusing to make any contribution to the costs. The same bridge also claimed the lives of two others about twenty years previous a Mr and Mrs Gower from Pembury. They both drowned when their wagon went over the side this was before the bridge had guide rails to stop the wheels going over the edge.
The stone bridge that replaced the former bridge had very high sides and was very narrow; this was demolished in 2004 and replaced with a wider bridge. A plaque is placed above and below the bridge to remind us of the poor families that lost their lives.
The Monument still lies in the corner of Hadlow churchyard with the details of the Hop-pickers who died on that sad day. The name of one poor little Girl still remains unknown, she was only 2 her mother sister and farther also died and nobody who knew her name survived.
The Memorial stone is shaped like An oast kiln for drying hops.
Below is a list of the 30 Hop Pickers who died on that day some local Gypsy families and some from Ireland.
Samuel Leatherland 59 Sarah Tayor 55 Catherine Donehue 42 Charlotte Leatherland 56 Thomas Taylor 38 Elien Collins 40 Comfort Leatherland 24 Thomas Taylor 4 Norah Donovan 31 Selina Leatherland 22 William Elsley 22 Catherine Clare 28 Alice Leatherland 18 Selinda Elsley 25 Catherine Preswell 24 Lunia Herne 26 Selina Maria Knight 6 Mary Quinn 22 John Herne 28 Margaret Mahoney 18 Catherine Roach 21 Centine Herne 4 Jeremiah Murphy 50 Margaret King 20 ? Herne 2 Ann Howard 49 Bridget Flinn 20 James Manser 18 Richard Read 30 Ellen Devine 19
For many years after hop-pickers would drop a wreath made from hops vines and wild berries over the bridge as a sign of respect .
Gary McKinnon | The Great Exhibition 2012 - Sign up to be kept updated about the Great Exhibition 2012 - and please vote for Gary
DescriptionGary McKinnon (born 10 February 1966) is a Scottish systems
administrator and hacker who suffers from an autism spectrum
disorder compounded by clinical depression. In 2001, he was
accused of what one U.S. prosecutor claimed was the "biggest
military computer hack of all time", although Gary McKinnon
himself states that he was merely looking for evidence of
free energy suppression and a cover-up of UFO activity and
other technologies potentially useful to the public. After a
series of legal proceedings in
Gary McKinnon (born 10 February 1966) is a Scottish systems administrator and hacker who suffers from an autism spectrum disorder compounded by clinical depression.
In 2001, he was accused of what one U.S. prosecutor claimed was the "biggest military computer hack of all time", although Gary McKinnon himself states that he was merely looking for evidence of free energy suppression and a cover-up of UFO activity and other technologies potentially useful to the public. After a series of legal proceedings in England, Gary McKinnon is currently fighting extradition to the United States.
In January 2010, Gary McKinnon was granted a judicial review of the then Home Secretary's decision to extradite him. In May 2010, following the General Election, the new Home Secretary, Theresa May said that she would re-examine the medical evidence concerning Gary McKinnon.
Gary McKinnon awaits the answer - over nine years since he was first questioned.
Gary McKinnon has suffered for almost decade and his case highlights the one-sided nature of the UK's extradition treaty with the United States.
One of our great myths about men is that lust invariably cancels out empathy.
There are few more famous snippets of film dialogue than this exchange from the 1989 Blly Crystal and Meg Ryan classic, When Harry Met Sally:
Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally: Why not?
Harry: What I’m saying is — and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form — is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry: No you don’t.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: No you don’t.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: You only think you do.
Sally: You say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry: No, what I’m saying is they all want to have sex with you.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: How do you know?
Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally: So you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry: No, you pretty much want to nail ‘em too.
I was a 22-year-old graduate student when the film came out, and I’ve long since lost count of how many heated discussions I’ve had about platonic friendships in which those unforgettable lines were quoted. Most of the arguments (I’ll bet you’ve had a few of these debates yourself) center around the question of whether “Harry” is right that straight men always want to have sex with their female friends.
What gets missed in all this is that Harry and Sally (and most of us) implicitly agree on something: sexual desire makes platonic friendship impossible. Sally denies her male friends all want to have sex with her; Harry insists that they do. But in the film—and, unfortunately, all too often in real life—no one asks the most important question of all: why can’t you be friends with someone to whom you’re attracted?
In the modern world we expect men and women who are in long-term romantic relationships to be friends. Husbands and wives will often say affectionately of their spouses, “We’re not just married to each other, but we’re good friends.” That’s part of our contemporary ideal of companionate marriage. It’s evident to all that men can be friends with the women with whom they are currently sleeping.
But what about a heterosexual man and woman who’ve never been sexual with each other? Conventional wisdom claims their friendship will only work when neither lusts after (or has a crush upon) the other. Since, as Harry says, men “pretty much want to nail” every woman they know, this makes friendship impossible.
We assume that male sexual desire is so powerful that it overrides everything else, including friendship. One of our great myths about men is that lust invariably cancels out empathy. Call it the sexual equivalent of being unable to walk and chew gum at the same time: Harry, Sally, and too many of the rest of us were raised to believe that men can’t experience lust and practice non-sexual friendship simultaneously.
The truth is that men and women alike are capable of being platonic friends with someone to whom they are powerfully attracted. That’s true regardless of the reasons why someone can’t act on his or her desires. Perhaps it’s because the attraction is one-sided, or perhaps it’s because one or both of the friends are in monogamous relationships with other people. Sometimes the attraction is openly acknowledged, more often it’s something of which both are aware but about which there isn’t necessarily much need to speak.
There are a couple of keys to making a platonic friendship work despite the presence of sexual attraction. First off, it helps to demythologize sexual desire. Too many of us speak about attraction as if it were an irresistible and destructive force, like a tornado or a tsunami. If you’ve genuinely fallen in love with a buddy who considers you “just” a friend, that’s one thing. But if all that’s happened is that you find yourself sexually attracted to someone who isn’t attracted to you (or isn’t your significant other), it’s worth saying so what? We’re hardwired to be sexual creatures. But we’re also equipped with the ability to “override” those desires for a host of other reasons—including preserving friendship.
Second of all, we need to remember that most of us are taught to sexualize emotional intimacy. We get close to someone of the opposite sex (assuming we’re straight or bi), and we find ourselves fantasizing about them. But while some of what we’re experiencing may be a natural physical reaction, some of it is the result of our cultural programming that tells us that intimacy must always be sexualized or romanticized. What often happens is that an initial “flare” of sexual interest quickly diminishes—if we give the relationship time to grow.
I know that my life would be infinitely poorer if I’d limited myself to being friends only with those people to whom I was not in any way attracted and whom I was certain were not the slightest bit sexually drawn to me. This is a particularly important issue for me because I’ve known I was bisexual since my teens, something I wrote about here. One of the things about experiencing sexual desire for both men and women is that I learned early on that if I were only going to be friends with folks to whom I couldn’t possibly be attracted I’d need to limit myself to hanging out with close blood relatives. That doesn’t mean I was attracted to all my friends of either sex, not by a long shot; it did mean that when I was younger, sexual desire was enough of a constant that I learned it really didn’t need to (and I couldn’t afford to let it) get in the way. In time, I realized I could even have a sexual daydream about a platonic friend—and still empathize with them and hear what they were saying to me. Attraction might linger, but I found that if I gave the relationship time, it would often drop to the level of background noise, like the sound of a radio playing at a volume low enough for a conversation to happen.
I saw When Harry Met Sally when it first came out 22 years ago. I remember debating Harry’s words, sure that he was both right in one sense (in my early 20s, I did want to sleep with a lot of my friends) and wrong in another (I was just starting to know that unrequited lust, however real and powerful, did not invariably poison friendship). 1989 was half my lifetime ago, and as the years have passed, I’ve become more and more certain that while Harry wasn’t necessarily wrong about what men want, he was utterly wrong about those wants meant for friendships between men and women.
Interested in a different view from another man? Read Damon Young’s “Platonic Schmetonic”-->
Put on a pair of pink Crocs, Steven Axelrod writes, and people will treat you differently.
I wear pink Crocs.
My son got them originally, as part of a publicity give-away at party early June three years ago. They were too big for him. He didn’t like the color. I tried them on, just for fun—and scarcely wore any other shoes until the next winter. The Crocs were supernaturally comfortable, easy to slip on and off (excellent for those early morning dog walks); best of all, they were free.
But I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It turns out that a man wearing pink Crocs transforms himself into a kind of cultural touchstone, a walking sociological laboratory for the study of gender politics and iconography. No one was neutral about my footwear that summer. Everyone weighed in: women, for the most part, thought they were sexy. I was “secure enough in my sexuality” to flaunt such a provocative wardrobe item. I had clearly “embraced” my “feminine side” and showed a refreshing indifference to ridicule. In fact, there was quite a bit of ridicule. Friends remarked, lightly, “You know how gay you look, right?” Troglodytes jeered “Faggot!” at me as I walked past.
This instinctive twitch of homophobia, this Tourette’s syndrome shout-out of socially approved bigotry reared up everywhere, like anthills on a suburban lawn. A tenured professor at a major university accosted me one morning and said “Cute Crocs,” in a cringe-worthy “gay” voice. “Oh yeah,” I said, deflecting the obvious intent of the remark, “They’re chick magnets. Women love them.”
“Boys, too, I bet,” he said with a little smirk.
I guess he’d figured out my dirty little secret. Good thing I’m not his teaching assistant.
The whole business is especially strange because I live on Nantucket, where localized fashion embraces wearing pink pants—or “Nantucket Reds,” as they’re called. The pants, dyed red at the factory, soon fade to a color not unlike the tint of my Crocs. This coincidence counts for nothing. Pink means gay. The blush brands anyone who wears it, and the disruptive controversy follows you like a poodle on a leash. I suppose if you actually were gay it would be a convenient marker, like the little pink triangles some lesbians sport on their pick-up trucks. So maybe people are just annoyed when you send out a confusing signal. And I soon realized that there’s no social stigma about gay-bashing; it’s a safe way to vent hostility and feel superior. A broad spectrum of society, from academics to day laborers, from Ecuadorian immigrants to New England matrons, from every race and religion, from every region and upbringing, seem to take gays as a suitable target. It’s politically correct; it’s Biblically approved. It’s fun for the whole family. Canny political operatives can leverage the specter of gay marriage to defeat an otherwise unassailable opponent. I knew intellectually that this prejudice was ubiquitous.
But I never felt it, until I wore the pink Crocs. No gay man had ever said to me, “Walk a mile in my pink Crocs … ” I did it, though, however inadvertently.
But now my situation is changing.
The first pair of Crocs are wearing out. I’m going to have to buy new ones soon. Do I buy pink Crocs and confirm my political position? Or do I buy ordinary gray ones and bow out? I decided to buy more pink Crocs because I realized that I actually enjoy these new encounters. I relish the instant snap-shot I get when people respond in this visceral, unguarded way to the color of my sandals. It tells me more about them than they’d probably like me to know.
A tough-as-nails New York businesswoman can be startled into a moment of flirtation (“Now that’s a real man.”); the Professor with the AIDS ribbon on his car can turn out to be a creep.
And the tattooed carpenter in a New York Giants sweatshirt can glance down with an admiring grin and say “Bold move, dude.”
The world is full of surprises when you wear pink Crocs.
And that’s the best reason I can think of to keep on wearing them.
Originally appeared at Open Salon.
—Photo Nieve44/La Luz/Flickr-->
Black Looks — Statement of African social justice activists on the decision of the British government to “cut aid” to African countries that violate the rights of LGBTI people in Africa
Statement of African social justice activists on the decision of the British government to “cut aid” to African countries that violate the rights of LGBTI people in Africa
by Sokari on October 28, 2011
British Prime Minister, David Cameron has warned his country would cut aid to countries in the global south that persecute LGBTI persons. Many of us believe this is an inappropriate response as stated in the statement below. ……
We, the undersigned African social justice activists, working to advance societies that affirm peoples’ differences, choice and agency throughout Africa, express the following concerns about the use of aid conditionality as an incentive for increasing the protection of the rights of LGBTI people on the continent.
It was widely reported, earlier this month, that the British Government has threatened to cut aid to governments of “countries that persecute homosexuals” unless they stop punishing people in same-sex relationships. These threats follow similar decisions that have been taken by a number of other donor countries against countries such as Uganda and Malawi. While the intention may well be to protect the rights of LGBTI people on the continent, the decision to cut aid disregards the role of the LGBTI and broader social justice movement on the continent and creates the real risk of a serious backlash against LGBTI people.
A vibrant social justice movement within African civil society is working to ensure the visibility of – and enjoyment of rights by – LGBTI people. This movement is made up of people from all walks of life, both identifying and non-identifying as part of the LGBTI community. It has been working through a number of strategies to entrench LGBTI issues into broader civil society issues, to shift the same-sex sexuality discourse from the morality debate to a human rights debate, and to build relationships with governments for greater protection of LGBTI people. These objectives cannot be met when donor countries threaten to withhold aid.
The imposition of donor sanctions may be one way of seeking to improve the human rights situation in a country but does not, in and of itself, result in the improved protection of the rights of LGBTI people. Donor sanctions are by their nature coercive and reinforce the disproportionate power dynamics between donor countries and recipients. They are often based on assumptions about African sexualities and the needs of African LGBTI people. They disregard the agency of African civil society movements and political leadership. They also tend, as has been evidenced in Malawi, to exacerbate the environment of intolerance in which political leadership scapegoat LGBTI people for donor sanctions in an attempt to retain and reinforce national state sovereignty.
Further, the sanctions sustain the divide between the LGBTI and the broader civil society movement. In a context of general human rights violations, where heterosexual women are almost as vulnerable as LGBTI people, or where health and food security are not guaranteed for anyone, singling out LGBTI issues emphasizes the idea that LGBTI rights are special rights and hierarchically more important than other rights. It also supports the commonly held notion that homosexuality is ‘unAfrican’ and a western-sponsored ‘idea’ and that countries like the UK will only act when ‘their interests’ have been threatened.
An effective response to the violations of the rights of LBGTI people has to be more nuanced than the mere imposition of donor sanctions. The history of colonialism and sexuality cannot be overlooked when seeking solutions to this issue. The colonial legacy of the British Empire in the form of laws that criminalize same-sex sex continues to serve as the legal foundation for the persecution of LGBTI people throughout the Commonwealth. In seeking solutions to the multi-faceted violations facing LGBTI people across Africa, old approaches and ways of engaging our continent have to be stopped. New ways of engaging that have the protection of human rights at their core have to recognize the importance of consulting the affected.
Furthermore, aid cuts also affect LGBTI people. Aid received from donor countries is often used to fund education, health and broader development. LGBTI people are part of the social fabric, and thus part of the population that benefit from the funding. A cut in aid will have an impact on everyone, and more so on the populations that are already vulnerable and whose access to health and other services are already limited, such as LGBTI people.,
To adequately address the human rights of LGBTI people in Africa, the undersigned social justice activists call on the British government to:
· Review its decision to cut aid to countries that do not protect LGBTI rights
· Expand its aid to community based and lead LGBTI programmes aimed at fostering dialogue and tolerance.
· Support national and regional human rights mechanisms to ensure the inclusiveness of LGBTI issues in their protective and promotional mandates
· Support the entrenchment of LGBTI issues into broader social justice issues through the financing of community lead and nationally owned projects
Joel Gustave Nana, +27735045420, firstname.lastname@example.org
African Men for Sexual Health and Rights – AMSHeR (Regional)
AIDS Legal Network (South Africa)
ARC EN CIEL + (Cote d’Ivoire)
Arc en Ciel d’Afrique (Canada)
Centre for Popular Education and human Rights – CEPEHRG (Ghana)
Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (Ghana)
Coalition of African Lesbians- CAL (Regional)
Engender (South Africa)
Face AIDS Ghana (Ghana)
Freedom and Roam Uganda (Uganda)
Gay and Lesbian of Zimbabwe – GALZ (Zimbabwe)
Horizons Community Association (Rwanda)
House of Rainbow Fellowship – (Nigeria)
ICHANGE CI (Cote d’Ivoire)
Identity Magazine (Kenya)
IGLHRC Africa (Regional)
Ishtar MSM (Kenya)
Justice for Gay Africans (Diaspora)
Let Good Be Told In us (LGBTI) Nyanza and Western coalition of Kenya (Kenya)
Most at Risk Populations’ Society In Uganda (UGANDA)
Mouvement pour les Libertes Individuelles – MOLI (Burundi)
My Rights (Rwanda)
Network against violence, abuse, discrimination and stigma-Africa (Regional)
Nyanza and Western LGBTI Coalition of Kenya (Kenya)
Other Sheep Afrika (Kenya)
Pan Africa ILGA (Regional)
Queer African Youth Center Network QAYN – (Sub-regional – West Africa)
Rainbow Candle Light (Burundi)
Reseau Camerounais des Personnes Vivant avec le VIH – Recap+ (Cameroon)
Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme (Kenya)
Sexual Minorities Uganda (Uganda)
Si Jeunesse Savait (Democratic Republic of Congo)
South African National AIDS Council – LGBT sector
Spectrum Uganda Initiatives – (Uganda)
Stay Alive Self Help Group (Kenya)
Stop Aids In Liberia
The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER) – Nigeria
The International Center for Advocacy on the Rights to Health -ICARH (Nigeria)
The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (South Africa)
Together for Women’s Rights ASBL (Burundi)
Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)
Triangle Project (South Africa)
UHAI-the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (Sub-regional -East Africa)
Vision Spring Initiatives
West African Treatment Action Group (Sub-regional – West Africa)
Women Working with Women (Kenya)
Youth Focus (Uganda)
Angus Parkinson (British Citizen, Kenyan Resident)
Anne Baraza (Kenya
Anthony Adero (Kenya)
Ayesha Imam (Nigeria)
Barbra Muruga (Kenya)
Bernedette Muthien (South Africa)
Blessed B Rwomushana(Uganda)
Blessol gathoni (Kenya)
Brian Kanyemba (Zimbabwe)
Carine Geoffrion (Ghana)
Carlos Idibouo (Cote d’Ivoire)
Charles Gueboguo (Cameroon)
Chesterfield Samba (Zimbabwe)
Christian Rumu – (Burundi)
Cynthia Ndikumana (Burundi)
Cyriaque Ako (Cote d’Ivoire)
Daniel Peter Onyango (Kenya)
Daniel Peter Onyango (Kenya)
Danilo da Silva (Mozambique)
Denis Nzioka (Kenya)
Desire Kavutse (Rwanda)
Douglas Masinde (Kenya)
Francoise Mukuku (DRC)
Frank Mugisha (Uganda)
Friedel Dausab (Namibia)
Gathoni Blessol (Kenya)
Geogina Adhiambi (Kenya)
Hakima Abbas (UK/Egypt)
Hameeda Deedat (South Africa)
Happy Kinyili (Kenya)
Ifeany Orazulike (Nigeria)
Jacqueline N Mulucha (Uganda)
Jane Bennett (Cape Town)
Jayne Annot (South Africa)
Jessica Horn (Uganda/UK)
Joel Gustave Nana – (Cameroon)
Johanna Kehler (South Africa)
Joseph Sewedo Akoro (Nigeria)
Julius Kaggwa (Uganda)
Julius Kyaruzi (Tanzania)
Kamariza Sandrine (Burundi)
Kasha Jacqueline (Uganda)
Keguro Macharia (Kenya)
Kene Esom (Nigeria)
Korto Williams – Liberia
Lillian Kwagala (Uganda)
Linda Baumann (Namibia)
Lourence Misedah (Kenya)
Mariam Armisen (Burkina Faso)
Marieme Helie-Lucas (Algeria)
Mia Nikasimo (African Diaspora)
Mmapaseka Steve Letsike (South Africa)
Mombo Ngua (Kenya)
Mwangi Forsyth-Githahu (Kenya)
Ndifuna Ukwazi (South Africa)
Ndikumana Pierre Celestin (Rwanda)
Ngozi Nwosu – Juba (Nigeria)
Nguru Karugu (Kenya)
Nicholas Mutisya Muema (Kenya)
Nicole Khanali (Kenya)
Olivier Irogo (Cameroon)
Paden Edmund (Tanzania)
Peter Wanyama (Kenya)
Phumi Mtetwa (South Africa)
Pouline kimani,Udada kenya
Prof J Oloka-Onyango (Uganda)
Prof Sylvia Tamale (Uganda)
Rena Otieno (Kenya)
Rowland Jide Macaulay (Nigeria)
Samuel Ganafa (Uganda)
Samuel Matsikure (Zimbabwe)
Sandrine Kamariza (Burundi)
Sibongile Ndashe (South Africa)
Sokari Ekine (Nigeria)
Sserwanga James (Uganda)
Stanley Muiga Wangari (Kenya)
Steave Nemande (Cameroon)
Stephen McGill (Liberia)
Thomas Mukasa (Uganda)
Tony Gatore (Burundi)
Wanja Muguongo (Kenya)
Wendy Isaack (South Africa)
Zawadi Nyong’o (Kenya)
Zeitun Mohamed Haret
Four weeks ago, Nigerian blogger Linda Ikeji reported the gang rape of a young woman by Abia State University students. The blog post was met with outrage on Nigerian Twitter and blog spaces. Over the course of 24 hours, three of the alleged rapists were named on Twitter. Within hours at least one of the names proved to be an error. Thus began retractions, calls for people to be calm and not to commit any more acts of violence and repeated apologies to the misnamed person.
A few weeks later the Vanguard newspaper reported the Abia State police had suspended investigations into the gang rape. The police commissioner had decided that the young woman ‘had consented to the rape’ because on watching the video he did ‘not see the young woman resisting’. He went on to justify the rape:
‘Gang rape is often videoed as a tool by under-graduate boys to rubbish the self esteem of snobbish girls.’
He said even if the lady had not consented, he figured that she was a girlfriend of a ‘cultist’ and probably cheated on him. He went on to say that she may have ‘insulted’ the boy hence he probably assembled a gang to teach her the lesson of her life.
Akin’s Blog responded by saying that ‘all gloves had to come off’ and raised a number of questions around rape and sexual violence in Nigeria. The blogger concluded that, since the police were incompetent misogynists, it was up to Nigerian users of social media to bring about justice for the young woman. In doing so he criticized those (including myself) who had condemned social media activism as ‘tabloid blogging and online vigilantism’, accusing us of ‘carping from the sidelines with feigned righteous indignation’:
‘It would appear the Situation Room for this crime returns once again to social media where injustices might well be compounded but everything and I dare say anything must be done to apprehend those cockroaches – this #ABSURape must not go unpunished and, by God, let it be those five men and none else.’
The gang rape became the center of Nigieran Twittersphere and blogs which mainly consisted of ‘righteous indignation’ rants and outrage over the despicable act of violence and a lack of meaningful, responsible response from anyone in authority.
However, there were a number of glaring omissions in the online discussion such as the relationship between everyday sexual harassment, sexual abuse and extreme forms of sexual violence such as rape and gang rape; in other words, crimes which are aimed at proving supremacy and power.
And the discussion failed to move beyond that of ‘boys behaving badly’. For example, the question as to who was watching the video including repeated requests on Twitter and Facebook for links to the video [which up till two weeks ago had been viewed on a Nigerian website 7000+ times] were never addressed. Nor was the fact that watching the video was in itself arguably an extension of the rape and as such represented an act of sexual violence.
Everyday a huge number of women are victims of sexual harassment and the distinctions which dominate popular chat between the ‘good wife’ and the ‘loose woman’ or ashawo reflect this.
There is a blurring of realities when women and girls, fearful of bringing attention to themselves or being singled out as ‘trouble makers’ do not report the touch, the squeeze, the coercive remarks and actions which leave them feeling soiled and hurt. Defining harassment requires us as women to speak out and for men to urgently reflect on their own patterns of behaviour, whenever women and girls are left feeling this way, and understand that crimes of supremacy and actions of patriarchy come in many different forms and levels.
Sexual harassment of women or being silent in its presence is so normalized within Nigerian society to the point when it is happening publicly and privately on a day-to-day basis online and offline in actions and words and body language.
Women are constantly being degraded and verbally abused or demeaned on social media sites. Homophobia is horrifically expressed and applauded.
These are all continuums of sexual abuse which take place without question. It is this normalization of sexual abuse and institutionalized misogyny that allows the police and others in authority to feel comfortable in making statements such as ‘she wanted to be raped’ and to be wholly negligent in their investigations. It is what allows the government of Abia State and the university to sit quietly on the sidelines and do nothing.
By UDUMA KALU, With agency report
The Abia State Police command has explained why it suspended investigations into the gang rape that happened in its Abia State University. The state police command said the girl-victim consented to the rape.
An online website monitoring the case yesterday reported that commenting on a DVD tape sent to his CP to expedite investigations into the activities of the criminal gang, J.G. Micloth, the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Abia State Police command Criminal Investigation Department said the lady had consented to the gang crime.
He was quoted as saying that after watching the DVD, he said he did not see the young lady resist the rape.
On Thursday, 300 women from Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo, were stopped by the Abia State police command from protesting in Umuahia, the state capital, against the controversial gang-rape alleged to have taken place at the state university, Uturu.
In Umuahia, the women, who said they came under the umbrella of civil society groups in the South-East and Igbo Women Organizations, urged the government and police to conduct deeper investigation into the ugly incident.
The police stoppage of the Abia walk happened on a day Abia State police command announced N500, 000 reward to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators or identification of the rape victim.
A statement by the command’s spokesman, ASP Geoffrey Ogbonna, said: “The command in its usual manner of protecting informants’ identity, assures utmost secrecy in this regard while a handsome reward of N500,000 awaits any one with useful information.”
The women, who came into Umuahia with two big buses, were stopped close to Government House by the Divisional Police Officer of Umuahia and diverted to the Central Police Station. However, last week the Assistant Commissioner of Police head said the Police cannot go on with the investigation because ”they cannot tell who the suspects are ‘from the legs’ in the video, amongst 70 million males in Nigeria”.
Mr Micloth yesterday said gang rape is often videoed as a tool by under-graduate boys to rubbish the self esteem of snobbish girls. He said even if the lady had not consented, he figured that she was a girlfriend to one of the cultists and must have probably cheated on him and when queried ‘insulted’ the boy hence he probably assembled a gang to teach her the lesson of her life, the website said.
It would be recalled that some students who are now known in the media circle as Uchenna, Wisdom, Zaki, Chisom and Ifeanyi — all believed to be students of Abia State University gang raped a young lady sometime in August this year, recorded it on video and circulated the dastardly act on youtube three weeks ago.
Mr Micloth who claimed to be heading the Police investigating team said ‘Several visits have been made to ABSU. Police have consulted the VC and checked the University records. Searches have been conducted and still on going in students Lodges.
Maranatha Lodge and Duperville Lodges have been checked room to room. Unfortunately no such names cited in the internet and press live there.
None also in the University records’ the website, elombah.com had “revealed the gang rape assailants as Ifeanyi Justin Ogu, Jonah Uche, Zaki and Winston Okoye Chinonso.”
In the rape video, which lasted well over an hour, the girl could be seen trying to fight off the men. When her efforts proved abortive amidst beatings, she resorted to pleading with them to spare her; but her pleas fell on deaf ears. And when she could not take the excruciating pain any longer, she begged them to kill her, instead of letting her live with the stigma our society would pile on top of her already horrendous trauma. As she pleaded with them, the boys laughed and mocked her, asking her to ‘co-operate’ or face two more days of torture by rape.
The incident, which is believed to have occured in Abia State sparked outrage nationwide.
Comments are moderated. Please keep them clean and brief.
Since Occupy Wall Street began, a lot of people I know have expressed interest in my involvement. I’ve been making suggestions about how people can get involved on their own terms, and I thought it seemed time for a public overview.
This list includes actions large and small that just about anyone, anywhere, can do to support the movement.
I consider this list to be alive, and wide open and available for edits, additions and suggestions. So comment below, on Facebook, mention @Averse2Ennui on Twitter, or get in touch if you have ideas for the list.
1. Understand the Movement
Chances are, you’ll find yourself in a conversation about Occupy-something sometime soon. One of the most important things you can do, short of sleeping in a park, is be able to intelligently defend and support the movement in conversation.
To begin, make some time to do a bit of preliminary reading. Here are some articles and videos I recommend in the short term to get yourself hip to the overal messages. Bookmark it, if you like. I’ll be adding to the list over time.
Don’t parrot the mainstream media’s take on Occupy Wall Street. They mostly get it wrong.2. Don’t Be Afraid to Say You Support Occupy Wall Street
I know people who absolutely support the ideology of OWS, but who remain silent as church mice on the topic. I also know people who kinda like the idea, but aren’t really sure they want to align themselves just yet.
Here’s a little tough love for you: If you’re not helping, you’re hindering. That’s the truth of it. We all have our lives, our work, the pressing needs of our unique realities to deal with. But out there are hundreds of people taking a break from their own demanding realities to sleep on the ground, in the rain, making themselves vulnerable to police aggression and whatever other intrusions come with sleeping night after night in a public place under scrutiny.
If you like the idea of OWS, and feel excited about the sorts of changes we might begin to see in our society, say so. Out loud. To friends, family and partners. On the internet. In line at the grocery store. Talk to people. Talk about the movement. Apathy’s not cool any more.3. Follow the Movement on Social Media
This is a short for-starters list. Start liking and following these folks and you’ll probably be inspired (by posts and retweets) to follow others. Don’t forget to retweet and repost messages that move you.Groups / Pages to follow on Facebook
- Occupy Wall St.
- Occupy Together
- I Acknowledge Class Warfare ExistsPeople / Groups to Follow on Twitter
- @ExiledSurfer <– I don’t really know who this guy is, but his tweets are informative
4. Move Your Money
One of the central concerns of the Occupy movement is the banking system. Even if you never repost a single OWS article, or visit a single encampment, moving your money is an action you can take that will align you with the principles of the movement. It’s something you can do privately, and quietly, on your own.
From the Move Your Money site:
“The Move Your Money project is a nonprofit campaign that encourages individuals and institutions to divest from the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and move to local financial institutions. Little has changed to prevent another financial crisis or to end ‘Too Big To Fail,’ and with Congress unwilling to act, we are encouraging individuals to take power into their own hands by voting with their dollars and no longer contributing to a financial system that has led our country astray. We are a campaign that gives people real, concrete actions they can take to create a more sane, stable and localized banking system.”
5. Send Some Grub
Find out where your local occupiers are and do a google search for nearby restaurants who deliver. Send pizza, chinese food, snacks and baked goods. Ask your local diner to send burgers and fries. Liberato’s Pizza in downtown Manhattan even has an OccuPie Pizza special for demonstrators. Pay a visit to Restaurant Depot or another wholesaler and bring boxes of fruit, extra large loaves of bread, jars of peanut butter, bins of veggies. Whatever you can afford is great. It’s true that one pizza won’t feed everyone, but let the demonstrators sort that out. One pizza can go a long way in a democratic resistance movement that opposes greed.
6. Make a Collection & Donate
Put a flyer up in your building asking other tenants to donate any of the items on the list below. If you live in a private home, consider posting a flyer on the community message board at your local library, coffee shop or grocery. Ask people to leave donations on your porch, or in front of your house, and put a bin or box out to collect the donations. Coordinate with your PTA or another community group to support your local occupiers through donations.
When you’ve amassed some items, bring the donations to your local occupiers. Just pull up and unload. Ask any occupier where your stuff should go, and someone will help.
If you live in NY, I’ll personally volunteer to come collect whatever you’re able to gather to deliver to Liberty Square (leave a note in the comments and we’ll set up the pickup). NYC is well stocked, and they’ve been sending surplus to other encampments around the country, so don’t worry about overdoing it.
- basic medical supplies: bandaids, gauze, over the counter medicines, antibacterial ointment, etc
- rain gear, umbrellas, tarps, tent covers
- clothing: men’s, women’s, especially warmer clothing and socks
- food: perishable and non-perishable
- added per reader CurlyHairGirl’s suggestion: blankets, subzero sleeping bags and other warm bedding
Have a look at my pictures to see how I’m handling the request in my building.
7. Donate Money
Visit your local Occupy hub and find yourself a donation box. There are several in Liberty Square. If you’re not close enough or don’t want to go, you can donate online.
You’re also welcome to send me money personally through PayPal, and I’ll drop it in a Liberty Square donation box for you. (Thanks, Xtine, for the awesome idear.)
8. Visit a Local Occupy Encampment & Say Thanks
I am not sleeping in any parks. No, sir. Not yet, anyway. To quote a friend, “I’m too old for this shit.” But I still consider myself an occupier! If there’s an encampment near you, head down before or after work one day. Go over on your lunch break. Bring your kids with you, if you’re visiting on a weekend.
Talk to people. Ask why they’re there. Thank them for their commitment to the movement, and let them know that OWS wouldn’t be much without them.
I can just about guarantee taking action on number 6 will inspire you with numbers 1, 2 and 3.
If you have time, stick around for General Assembly (GA), which occurs nightly, usually around 7p. There, the group discusses all sorts of issues like what the following day’s schedule will be, how to spend donations, pressing needs and upcoming actions.
Be sure to take photos while you’re there and post them to Facebook and Twitter to let your friends and family know you support the movement. Just be sure, when you’re visiting, not to be just a voyeur. Be a participant. Make a sign and bring it along. If you’re not into that, make a point to learn something while you’re there.
9. Show Up When You’re Needed
Sometimes, what’s really needed, are people. Lots and lots of people. Without the support of armchair occupiers who got up out of their armchairs at 4am, the flagship hub of our movement could have been ousted on October 14th for a bogus “cleaning”. Thousands of people showed up at Liberty Square to stand in solidarity, and our base persevered. So keep tabs on when the movement needs you most, and be there.
10. Taking a Roadtrip? Transport Supplies or Demonstrators.
If you’re going from one city to another anyway, offer to bring supplies. Better yet, offer someone a ride. Lots of protesters demonstrate on the weekends, or on their off days from work or school, but need to head home now and again. Helping demonstrators get back and forth is doing something huge for the movement.
If you’re leaving New York City (in a car) to head to another city with an Occupy presence, head down to your city’s Occupy center and find the information desk. Tell them where you’re headed, and what you’re offering, and they can help hook you up with the right people. Likewise, if you’re headed to New York, try to find people in your community who’d like to make the trip. You can also post to the occupy website forum or chat.
11. Allow People to Shower and/or Do Laundry in Your Home
Sleeping on the street is dirty business. In many cities, the 24/7 demonstrators only have fast food restaurant bathrooms to use for washing up. If you’re comfortable with the idea, and live near an encampment, offer your shower or laundering facilities. You can set your own limits. For example, you can say you’re open to inviting women only, two or three at a time, on a certain day during a certain time. Your requests will be respected.
Visit the General Assembly website’s comfort forum to offer your space.
*** Updated on 10.29.11 to add #s 12 & 13 ***
12. Mail Credit Card Offers Back!
Watch this 5 minute video for a terrific, easy, free, nonviolent way to not only piss off major creditors, but to make an impact on the way they inappropriately target consumers to buy into the credit/debt system.
Use the pre-paid business mailer envelopes, but don’t send back what they’re expecting (which would be a credit card application)!
- send it empty
- put other junk mail into the envelope, and send it back full
- print a note with a clear, rational message like: “hello bank clerk, join a union” or “occupy wall street!” so the banks know your junk-filled envelope wasn’t an accident, but a dialog.
- add something heavy like a wood shim (with a message on it) to add weight and cost
From the video: “The real effect of this is to force banks to react to us…Every hour banks spend reacting to us is an hour banks don’t spend lobbying congress on how to screw us, is an hour banks don’t spend foreclosing on our houses. Go to your mailbox, spend 5 seconds…If you can’t occupy Wall Street, you can at least keep Wall Street occupied.”
Great job, man! We love your idea.
13. Occupy Your Community. Occupy Everywhere.
Have a look at these videos to see what regular people are doing in their own communities to reclaim the people’s power in local democratic infrastructure.
Occupation of the Department of Education. In this video parents, teachers, staff and students got together to occupy the PEP, or Panel for Education Policy, which replaced the Board of Education in NYC when Bloomberg took office. Community members felt that while the forum claimed to be a place where people were invited to voice concerns, the PEP truly makes decisions about their children’s education autonomously, despite community concerns. So they peacefully assembled to stop the panel’s vote on educational policy until their concerns could really be heard.
The human mic might not be for you. Or, it may be too hard to convince your community to get on board. Here’s a gentler option:
Occupy Foreclosure Auctions. “Calling on the judicial system to institute an immediate moratorium on all foreclosures until a fair system of home loans is put into place, a group of New York City housing justice advocates disrupted the auction of several foreclosed Brooklyn properties in Civil Court on Thursday afternoon through music and song. The group, called Organizing for Occupation (O4O), was protesting what it views as a system designed to benefit financial lending institutions at the expense of homeowners and low-income communities.”
It should be noted that nine of the demonstrators in the video were arrested.
It’s not necessary to take actions that will necessarily get you arrested. The choices you make about your participation in a real democracy are your own. Let these two examples serve as a reminder of what’s possible for average, regular citizens. Sometimes all a community will need is a little push, or someone to make the suggestion, and you can be that person.
*** Updated on 10.30.11 to add #14 ***
14. Opt Out of Black Friday & Cyber Sunday, For Starters
Turn November 25th (the day after Thanksgiving), long known as Black Friday, into Buy Nothing Day. Promote Buy Nothing Day in your community by posting flyers wherever Black Friday sales are advertised, and include OWS-friendly messaging like “We are the 99%” or “The 99% is Boycotting Black Friday”. On those days, buy nothing at all.
Go a step further and make it a Buy Nothing Holiday Season! Encourage your extended family to join in. Instead of exchanging gifts, collect old toys and clothing and go together to donate to a shelter or church. If you want to give gifts, consider handmade toys, homemade salad dressings gifted in lovely glass bottles, baked goods in clever packaging, or one of these ideas. Think of how much money you’ll save!
If you feel you can’t go that far, gift from privately owned retailers. Patronize websites and shops who support handmade or vintage products like Etsy.com or these other handmade goods websites.
Worried about the kids’ disappointment? We know the kids want the new toys, the new gadgets, the knew kicks, whatever the current rage is. Think about what a valuable gift you’ll be giving if, instead of giving in, you encourage your kids to see the value in something handmade, or better yet, the value of doing without the stuff that’s really unnecessary.
Share the informative video The Story of Stuff with your children, and discuss it as a family. Together, brainstorm ways to be better to the world. Decide as a family to kick stores like WalMart, Kmart, Old Navy and other socially irresponsible, environment-hating, local-economy-destroying chains out of your lives for good.
Thanks to one reader for the suggestion!
POST DAMTP ANNOUNCEMENT: ON DALE FARM AND OCCUPATION MOVEMENTS
Written by DAMTP
Today the activists and residents have been removed by riot police and bailiffs at Dale Farm – the largest travellers site in Europe. This year has seen mass deportations and arrests of travellers across Europe and it is no surprise that the 10 year dispute over Dale Farm was to be resolved by the use of illegal weapons by the police yesterday on the first day of the attack. While the fight over the last 2 days was futile we feel the activists and of course the travellers themselves who have resisted their eviction and oppression by the state have made a heroic stand for workers everywhere.
At the same time, Occupation protests continue across Europe, USA and Australia. These began at the weekend in solidarity to the Tahrir Square occupation and Spanish camps earlier this year as well as the ongoing Wall Street occupation – and we welcome this. However it is useful to identify some of the differences between these two protests: One is the organisation and solidarity shown to a section of the underclass with a very specific aim – to defend people’s homes at the site of those homes. The other is a protest by an ambiguous and “anonymous” “99%” done at the site of power, but with no specific or declared aims. The responses by the state have been heavier against the underclass, despite both the Travellers and the Occupations both having no consensus on the use of NVDA. Another difference is the amount of media coverage given to Dale Farm – which has been international and in the form of live video and written reports in newspapers and websites – and that given to the occupations, which has been very minimal, if not nothing at all.
While some have commented that the states suppression of resistance (either by the police or by the media) is a return of Fascism, we must stress here that the Society of the Spectacle is a more directly developed form of Fascism. It is not just individual spectacles that create the image of reality but more importantly, the physical and psychic projection of the images through space, time and meaning that create this society. In this society protest is never fully supressed but is encouraged in some trimension – be it seen and not heard or felt and tasted but not seen – in order to create the image of participation in bourgeois democracy. Protest is commodified and its elements consumed as part of the choices available under a free market. As such, it is protest too that must be resisted.
Like the IWW, who we split with after they proved incapable of supporting a psychic workers industrial union, the Global Day of Occupation were and are concentrated on certain areas around the globe – namely, those where capital has concentrated power – not just the centres of the cities but also the nations, namely the EU and USA, ie NATO countries. So despite the claim that the occupations are global and the claim to represent the 99% of workers, the activists involved have clearly been unable to go fully from letter, name, nation or industry and towards class consciousness, despite their efforts to do so. At the same time we must criticise the anonymity of the occupation actions and the idea that those issuing the call are “us”. We see it imperative to organise on a working class basis that begins with our situation: to consciously organise to overthrow our own industrial and national situation and work towards creating international class consciousness. In rejecting both activism and artism, we seek to unite with the mass of workers who are separated from us through nation and industry.
The social centres, really free schools, occupied, autonomous and self organised universities all show how these problems have manifest in continuous projects. The control of resources has rarely left the hands of a privileged few and instead there has been the spectacle of participation fuelled by the declared aims of freedom and false universalism. This naturally precludes a specific class consciousness of the psychic workers, their situation in space time and class as psychic workers – therefore going beyond their individual name, nation and industry – and avoiding the triple pitfall of sexism, racism and bourgeois bias.
This is how these important struggles will continue – as both the land (both where capital lives and where labour lives) and capital (both the machinery of power and the psychic capital of money and media) are overcome by a new form of society which is under the control of the living labour of the workers of the world. Recent events such as the attacking of police stations in London and around England and Scotland this summer in response to another extra judicial killing in Tottenham – as well as both Dale Farm and the Occupations prepare the ground for the world wide general strike in 2012. It is telling that the General Strike which has started in Greece this week has not spread into Europe – it is due to the institutional racism and anti-working class bias of activists in Europe. The national and international trade and industrial unions and syndicates have also proved incapable of extending the General Strike which has started in Greece this week. It is only by developing our own organised forms as workers, that we can do so – extending solidarity across all human time, space and meaning. We call on all artists and activists to unionise as psychic workers – involved in the production of meaning – to join us or to create their own – 1 person – or more person – unions.
Psychic Occupation Strike 2012 Taskforce - DAta Miners Travailleurs Psychique (POST DAMTP), 20 October 2011