Archive for January, 2008

FUNK THE WAR

Posted in anti-war, dc sds, resistance with tags , , on January 31, 2008 by Jasper Conner

So here is a reportback from our recent DC sds Dance Party Against the War, written by a Fairfax highschool student Rassah Ostad. The action was a part of Iraq Moratorium, coordinated actions against the war on the third friday of every month. Click the link to check out the new DC sds website with lots of footage and info about our next Dance Party Against the War on February 15th.

Funk the War! Drop Beats not Bombs!

Dupont circle renedz vous.

The emails went in and the people came out ready to dance. Last minute news filled inboxes around the city, and on Friday night, January 18, our music filled the streets.

We started at five and ended accomplished and ready for more and awesome three hours later.

Starting in the well-to-do Dupont circle and dancing our rout to the recruitment center about five blocks away. Stopping only briefly in front, we onward danced to the close by atrocity operating under the name Lockheed Martin. After a boot-out from the lobby, we overtook the entrance and soon after the street, adding to our ranks a few passer-bys, including one of the security guards in the lobby. Once we got it going in the street, showing both traffic and the police we were a force not to be reckoned with, we headed back to Dupont circle where we triumphantly and musically ended our party, and Funked the war.

Check out the video!!

sds in the press again

Posted in sds press with tags on January 22, 2008 by Jasper Conner

So before we get to the actual content, I just want to let folks know that I am one view away from crossing the 100 views threshold. Thats right, the big time.

This article was written by a member of the French Press (not the coffee sort, the
news sort),
Karin Zeitvogel about the youth movement and young voters. An
sdser, who shall remain nameless, said that this was “maybe one of our best pieces of media ever.” She will remain nameless because it makes her comment more intriguing, and intrigue is the key to successful blogging, so I hear.

Although I’m not sure I agree that this is our best media coverage yet, it definitely shows us looking smart and on top of things. Word to Samantha Miller (DC sds) , Lindsay (Tuscarura High School sds, Frederick MD), and everyone else who did solid press work and made us look so awesome.

Candidates take note as young Americans re-embrace politics

WASHINGTON (AFP) – America’s youth are undergoing a political rebirth, and politicians have noticed.

People under 30 are flocking to the polls and leaving their mark on the 2008 White House race. Long moribund activist groups are being revived. Nickelodeon, a television station geared to teens, is holding mock primaries.

“We’ve been hearing for years, ‘Where is the youth movement?’ Well, it’s been growing slowly and now it’s here,” said Samantha Miller, 22, who helped to revive Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a left-wing group that has lain dormant since the late 1960s.

A report issued late last year by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and the Charles F. Kettering Foundation showed that university students in the United States today are “hungry for political conversation” that is “free of ‘spin’.”

That contrasts sharply with the attitudes of students surveyed by a parallel study in 1993, who said politics were “irrelevant to their lives”, the report said.

Paul Buhle, a lecturer at Brown University in Rhode Island, confirmed what the report said.

“The view from my students in the 1990s was that everything was going to hell in a handbasket but they couldn’t do anything about it and ‘I’m going to have a great career’,” the 63-year-old told AFP.

“Jump up to now and you have the war, the US doing stupid things in the world and global warming on the front page as opposed to banished to page 78.

“It reminds me of watching the Cuban missile crisis unfold in 1963,” said Buhle, who was an activist in the left-wing SDS the first time around.

“A lot of young people said to themselves then and are saying now: ‘We can’t wait around because adults are going to blow up the planet and we’d better do something.'”

Sixteen-year-old Lindsay was drawn to politics by her concern over global warming.

“It got me mad that people were denying it or doing nothing about it,” she said during a weekly meeting of her high school’s SDS chapter, which was attended by half a dozen members aged 14 to 18.

“It’s definitely worth my time to be politically active because if I’m not paying attention to these kinds of things, how can I change them?” Lindsay said.

Karlo Marcelo, a researcher at CIRCLE, said that, for the first time since 1972, candidates for the White House are paying more than lip-service to the youth vote.

“They’ve mentioned young people and young issues in debates and their speeches,” he said.

“They are actually speaking seriously to young people about their issues, and that engagement between young people and politicians is something that hasn’t happened since 1972.

“Several of the Democratic candidates have full-time youth directors, and among the Republicans, John McCain has a part time youth director and has his daughter blogging. Everyone’s realizing they need to focus on this generation,” Marcelo said.

This month’s primaries in New Hampshire and caucuses in Iowa saw a sharp rise in the under-30 turnout compared with four years ago, with the youth vote credited for helping Democrat Barack Obama prevail in Iowa.

In Iowa, 13 percent of voters under 30 turned out for the caucus, against four percent in 2004, while youth turnout in New Hampshire surged ahead from 18 percent four years ago to 43 percent, according to CIRCLE.

No comparative figures were published for the Michigan primary, which was not contested by the Democrats.

“This generation, for pretty much all of their political lives, has known only one president, and for a lot of young people, the reaction to that president hasn’t been good,” said Michael Dimock of Pew Research Center.

“The idea of participating in this election — in which no matter which way you vote, it’s going to be for a new president– is particularly engaging to younger voters.”

The rising tide of youth activism is benefiting the more liberal Democrats and groups that are further to the left, such as the SDS.

A report issued this month by Pew Research called today’s youth the “least Republican generation,” with only one-third of young voters identifying with the Republicans and nearly half with the Democrats.

Charlie Smith, the 23-year-old head of College Republicans, a broad grouping of conservative students, tried to put a positive spin on young people jumping the Republican ship.

“It’s in the nature of our demographic — we’re more idealistic.

“But they’ll have time to turn away from their chemistry books or work-study jobs to study the key issues like Iraq or government-funded healthcare, and make a decision by election day.

“I think they’ll come back to our side,” he said.

      An Article by Jonathan Barry on collective liberation(Boston sds)

      Posted in collective liberation with tags on January 15, 2008 by Jasper Conner

      So the following is an article by Jonathan Barry (Boston sds) discussing how our work toward collective liberation needs to be informed by an understanding of our own personal histories and experience with identity.

      Here is a link to Jonathan’s blog, and below is his article.

      Interrogating White Patriarchy- Constructing Personal Histories

      Often, as a white male activist, I find myself wondering where my energy comes from. Maybe I should rephrase that… when I have the time I often find myself wondering where the root of my tireless commitment to “the movement” comes from. This is never something I have allowed myself to explore because the answers are pessimistic and discouraging, not to mention difficult to come by. For me, when I sit alone, there is an omnipresent pain and anxiety at the core of my being. I believe activism, as with most endeavors in my life, is a way to channel my fear of confronting the terrifying realities of my past into another space. Just as somebody would self-anesthetize with drugs or booze; I self-anesthetize with organizing, among other things.

      Organizing is in and of itself is not a destructive activity, however, coming from a place of anxiety and urgency, rather than love and conscious intentionality, I believe it can do more harm than good. I could also add guilt into the equation for most white folks. I believe, correctly or incorrectly, that fear and anxiety and the urgency to be rid of them lie at the heart of what drives most men in our society. I must be conscious of this or my life becomes a means of displacing these emotions on others. This urgency, often combined with white guilt, can become a primary vehicle for re-enacting oppressive modes of thought and being, particularly in progressive circles. The tendency to look at other people as objects of oppressive systems rather than people with agency can lock interpersonal relationships into the framework of white supremacy or sexism (or any oppressive system for that matter).

      It has also been my experience that over-intellectualization of anti-oppression work further distances my analytical perceptions from actual lived experience. By just “keeping me busy,” organizing work can be a tool to challenge white supremacy and patriarchy on an institutional level while also maintaining the distance between my conscious (often intellectual) worldview and the core of my being (for me, my emotional being) that is most handicapped by patriarchy and white supremacy. I believe binary thinking like this is a product of our society and forces many institutionally privileged people who study or think about systems of oppression to separate lived experience from ideological framework instead of one informing the other. For example, many white people or men who think about white supremacy or patriarchy frame sexism as a “women’s issue” or racism as “something that I don’t live through”. While men and whites are by no means the targets of such systems of oppression, the personal and psychological wounds for people who are “privileged” are real and by connecting personal experience to theoretical framework, I believe it is possible to gain a much more real understanding that can inform actions and activism. Unfortunately, the drive for consumption and immediate gratification that is instilled in us by a capitalist system works to placate deep pain and drive a deep wedge between what we think of ourselves and who we are. In my opinion, unless there is a conscious effort to bridge the gap, I believe the divide deepens over time, fed by a drug that draws from the exploitation of others to ease the pain of those in power.

      In this way, I disagree with those who stress the critical importance of strategic planning of organizing in liberation work but do not acknowledge the centrality of the healing process in the life of an activist like myself. Combining theory, action and reflection in a cycle of praxis, as is outlined by Paolo Friere in his famous book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, is essential to a process of developing critical consciousness. We must embody the change we hope to make. I believe in this statement wholeheartedly. As men and white people, or anyone who benefits from institutionalized privilege, we must come into touch with the fears, anxieties and guilt of what it means to be ourselves in a white patriarchal capitalist society. The process of interrogating who we are and critically evaluating past experiences can be a tool for developing fuller understandings of what we are fighting against, just as research into social constructions of whiteness can illuminate the shadows of its historical specificity.

      My own conception of colonization stems from my experience growing up with a father who handcuffed my own development as a person by (sometimes) violently enforcing his vision for my own growth and imposing his own boundaries on what I could think or how I could act. I now see his desire to “help” me become a man is couched in his own inability to be his own man in the most tender and loving send of what it means to be a man. He needs to deal with his own anger, fear of loss and pain before he can ever think about helping me or before we can ever again have a functional relationship. His need to help is a prison cell for my own growth. This experience has shed light on what my own presence may mean in non-white and feminist activist circles.

      In addition, my experience and reflections on traveling home this fall to see my parents (mom and step dad) have helped me to more fully understand the pain of what it means to be tokenized. Going home is painful for me. It is not a friendly place. My parents are friendly to me but it is not a place where I can feel at ease with who I am. It is hostile, for whatever reason. Yet still, my parents want me to come home. When I am home, they do not take the time to sit and see how I am or how I have changed. Though they lament that I do not seem happy. When I attempt to articulate my feelings, I only offend them and then am left feeling guilty. At a deep level, my parents are not interested in who I am as a person, only the spectacle of my happy presence in their home, just as most straights enjoy and crave the spectacle of a queer presence to subsidize their own sexual emptiness.

      These connections are real for me although they may not make sense for the outsider. In sharing these stories, I hope to lay groundwork for other white people and men to delve into their own histories- either personal or collective- to better understand the context in which our identities are born and the privileges they carry.

      I find that the only way I can bring something new and valuable to the discussion on race, gender, sexuality (and capitalism) is to come in touch with my own emotions and how I was formed in this society. While the archive of work on these subjects is extensive, I believe it is essential for all white people, men and straight folks to make the connections personal so as to embody the discourse we espouse. In this way, I (we) can bring can bring something real to the conversation, articulate on my (our) own terms that which I (we) consume as part of organizing for power and the liberation of all peoples everywhere. For me then, counseling, quiet reflection, and scary messy conversations with others about common past experiences is also the work of revolution. This is not to say it can take the place of real struggle against oppressive institutions to build power and win concrete objectives, but it is work that must be done.

      Apache Land Owners Resist Militarization of Mexico/US Boarder

      Posted in resistance on January 11, 2008 by Jasper Conner

      I promise this blog will shortly be more than news clippings, but organizing takes lots of time, so the blogging is still just news.

      Apache folks living on the Texas/Mexico boarder are being threatened with eminent domain by the Department of Homeland Security which has plans to build a wall through their land. This is just a piece of the wall planned by the US government to keep folks from Central America from migrating to the US.

      So while the US continues to coerce countries around the world into accepting the neoliberal structural adjustments of the IMF, they refuse to accept that this will destroy local economies and force local folks to migrate to find better jobs. The United States seems to want to drop all boarders when it comes to capital, but build walls when it comes to people.

      The US boarder wall is just one more example of militarization as a means to protecting the interests of global capital at the expense of whomever doesn’t have the power to resist.

      Its interesting to read this article because it focuses on how folks north of the proposed wall are having their lives disrupted and destroyed which is not frequently a part of the current discourse. So having said its interesting, you should feel compelled to read it.

      “Ya Basta! Enough is enough!” Blount said, repeating the phrase that became the battle cry of the Zapatistas in Mexico struggling for Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

      NYC sds featured in the New York Times

      Posted in sds press with tags on January 7, 2008 by Jasper Conner

      The New York Times just wrote a rather lengthy article about sds, focusing largely on internal dynamics and our ideas about how change is made. The article quotes Pat Korte (New School, NYC) extensively but also includes lots of insight from Raychel Haut (Queens College, NYC) and Jessica Rapchik (Antioch College, Yellow Springs OH) as well as an interesting anecdote from Aaron Petcoff (Wayne State University, Detroit MI).

      Check out the article here.