Sunday, January 29, 2017

Trump vs. the People: Round 2, Saturday, January 28, 2017

Comrades, the resistance mounted today against Muslim bans should definitely be applauded. Without question the mass resistance resulted in a favorable judicial outcome this evening. As is said, direct action gets the goods. But, folks should not be fooled and over swayed by the actions of the court, and should definitely not get stuck in a logic of believing that the courts, or the law in and of itself, is going to save us. It won't. Our enemies are too determined, and yes, too smart for that.

We have to understand that most of what Trump has advanced was designed to consolidate his base and cement his power more than anything. His bold actions this past week demonstrated to his base that he is a "man of his word", not a typical politician, but something more. Trump and his team know that most of his "executive orders" will be struck down by the (present) court. In fact, it is more than likely that they are counting on them being struck down, which for them in many respects is a good thing. It is good cause it will prove a political point about liberalism, fortify their arguments that they are going to have to resort to more extreme measures to "protect" the country, and compel their base to take more militant action. Like judo masters, the initial counter moves of the courts will enable Trump and the Neo-Confederates to advance the more critical parts of their agenda, their economic program in particular, with little fuss from their right flank. In many respects Trump and Bannon are taking a page in power building from their friend Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant who has made it known that he doesn't support various policies to help him govern, he advances critical reactionary policies that he knows will be struct down and fail because they help advance his rule.

So, let's not get overconfident and start placing our faith and trust in the system. It's not what is going to save us. We have to save ourselves and the actions of the day oriented in that direction.

Friday, January 27, 2017

There are no shortcuts

By By Alexis Stephens

As grassroots groups and community advocates across the country brace for increasingly anti-democratic and authoritarian opposition, organizers in the South bring a wealth of wisdom and experience dealing with such challenges.

America's Tomorrow spoke to Kali Akuno, co-director of Cooperation Jackson, founded in 2013 to promote economic democracy and worker-owned cooperatives in Jackson, Mississippi. Akuno talked about the organization's work and how it has dealt with a series of setbacks and trials, including the passing of Jackson's mayor — longtime activist and organizer Chokwe Lumumba — in 2014, ongoing state threats to local control of land and infrastructure, and the uncertainty of the new presidential administration. He also shared his analysis of the local context in Jackson and offered some advice to grassroots organizations around the country about how to both survive short-term threats and lay the foundation of long-term sustainability.

In the wake of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba's passing and his legacy of Black organizing, what has the landscape looked like for Cooperation Jackson?

The first six months of the [Yarber] administration were somewhat difficult for us. Cooperation Jackson had been tied to and identified with the legacy of Mayor Lumumba and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and I think Mayor Yarber was initially very wary about any engagement with us. But over time we found some ways to collaborate on things that we all saw as mutually beneficial for us and the city.

There have been a number of issues this year where there has been a high level of agreement between our organization and the mayoral administration — primarily the threats that have been coming down from the Republican supermajority at the state level and some very targeted threats against the City of Jackson. One example is the state legislation that is allowing a governor-appointed regional board to take over operational control of the airports in Jackson. A broad, united front came together [to fight that], which included the Coalition of Economic Justice, city council, and our county legislative delegation. I would say the overall legacy of the plans that brought Lumumba into office is very much alive.

In which programs and initiatives are you seeing the most success?

We're seeing success in the development of our three co-ops: Freedom Farms Urban Farming Cooperative, Nubia's Place Café and Catering Cooperative, and Mississippi Waste Alternative, a recycling and composting cooperative. The core membership of each is under the age of 25. There's a youthful willingness to try something new and a healthy optimistic attitude when they encounter people or dynamics that tell them that they can't do something. Our own analysis of why these co-ops are moving faster than others has revealed that youth leadership is a factor. To outside observers, the most concrete measure of success is the actual operation of a co-op — if the farm is able to increase its productive yield, for example. And that's grown each quarter. But young people are also acquiring skills and certifications, and putting in hours. Those are all things we're looking at objectively as measures of our success: how many people we're able to train, recruit, and bring into the process.

Cooperation Jackson is still very much a baby as an organization. In a short period of time, we've been able to build several functioning and emerging cooperatives and to acquire a community center and 20 parcels of land in West Jackson. We have three houses that are the core basis of our housing co-op and emerging eco-village. When Chokwe passed away so suddenly, many of us were in doubt in the first couple of months about where we were going and what might be possible. From that dark place to where we are now, I would argue that we've done fairly well.

What advice would you give to other grassroots economic development organizations that might be facing preemption at the state level over the next two to five years?
Your basic organizing principles don't fundamentally change. In fact, they become even more important than ever before. The first thing is you have to build your own base; and, if you are trying to build a transformative business like the co-ops that we're trying to build, you have to work to communicate your own values to your network very clearly. Outside of building your own base, you have to make connections and links and build allies with other folks who share similar interests. I don't think everything has to be in complete alignment, but I think there's a critical synergy where you have to agree on some things. But don't compromise your mission or settle for short-term, expedient gains. That's a critical piece.

Sometimes we become too fixated on immediate victories and results, and this doesn't really lead us to building strategic allies and strategic relationships in the way that is most helpful. There are not really any shortcuts. A lot of people are counting on — or have built a lot of their strategies and programming around — new technology, particularly social media as a way of reaching people. That's good for mobilizing people, but it's not a tool for organizing people. We have to make that distinction. In order to organize people, you have to build relationships. You have to make sure that you're creating the context and bringing people into situations where they can see each other face to face, to engage in dialogue and exchange about their issues, about their concerns, about their aspirations.

We have to be very intent on rebuilding social solidarity. I think a lot of the angst that is there now — particularly in light of Trump's victory — is based upon a deepening sense of social isolation. Folks feeling that they're more alone, and more exposed, now and more siloed than ever before. But our counter is not to retreat further into small and local. I think our counter is to go deeper, build more connections, reach out more. I think we're over-emphasizing and stressing too much about what's going to happen this first year. That could lead us into a number of traps, as opposed to us digging deep and building the relationships that are necessary, coming up through that process of organizing people, and then developing a program and a vision that will enable us to build, to push back, and to create a whole different set of policies to complement our vision down the road.

Could you say more about your vision for deepening relationships?
At present, our state politics break down fairly consistently along racial lines. But we know that we can make some inroads, particularly with younger, college-educated White folks — and there are about 250,000 to 500,000 of them in the state. We feel that we can and must do a good job recruiting, organizing, and reorienting them in a more left and progressive direction. And if we can just move the bottom end of that number, we change the politics of this state profoundly and we can end the Republican domination of the state. This is something that's practically doable, but you have to be willing to stand back a little bit, look at the long-term view, assess what's really needed, and then develop the strategy to go out and reach those communities and build a relationship with them. And not see everything as lost or totally out of our reach, when it's really not.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How to prepare for the Trumpocalypse

From teleSur. Originally published on Thursday, January 19th, 2016. 
1. What are your thoughts on the multiple counter-inaugural events being planned? What might that organizing process tell us about how resistance might be organized going forward?

The fact that there are multiple counter-inaugural events being planned all throughout the United States, and not just in D.C., on the 20th and 21st is a good thing. This motion represents the broad diversity contained within the United States and the depth of outrage and concern that exists in regards to the ultra right-wing shift that is about to occur at all levels of the Federal government, and in most of the state governments, and the clear threat to the human rights of numerous communities that the Trump regime clearly threatens and poses.

In the immediate future, we can definitely expect that the ongoing resistance will have a broad, diverse, and autonomous character. This in itself is not a bad thing. But, I would note that it not necessarily a good thing either, as without a higher degree of political and strategic alignment and coordination between the various social movements and political forces mounting the resistance, we won't be able to withstand the onslaught that the Trump regime and the reactionary neo-Confederate forces are planning to unleash. So, we have to overcome the fragmentation that has plagued the left in the United States for decades, and be clear that we cannot rely upon the liberals and the Democrats to be consistent and principled allies in the struggle against the resurgence of white nationalism.
2. What would be the ideal outcome of the counter-inaugural actions? What do you expect to happen?

Being realistic, the most critical thing the counter-inaugural actions can do are serve notice to Trump and the reactionary forces aligned with him, that the majority of the peoples contained within the United States will not comply, will not consent, will not surrender, and will not be subjectively governed. This will serve to weaken their confidence and give pause to some of their initiatives. But, we need to be clear that given their ideological commitment, these reactionary forces might stall and shift a bit, but they aren't going to stop. So, we need to be prepared to engage in sustained struggle. And to this end, if the counter-inauguration is indeed massive, as in engaging tens if not hundreds of millions of people throughout the United States, it will bolster the confidence of the forces of resistance, which is critical, given how shocked, saddened, and alone the majority of people in the United States felt after Trump won the election. Confidence emboldens individuals and movements will to resist, preserver and ultimately march to victory. So, the counter-inauguration initiatives are and must be viewed as a critical first step in the resistance to the Trumpocalypse, and the launch of the transformative movement the country and the world needs to avoid world war and a climate catastrophe.
3. What role do groups organizing for Black empowerment play in speaking out against "white identity politics?" in challenging Trump rhetoric and policy?

The Black Liberation Movement has been calling out and challenging the ills of white nationalism and settler-colonialism since the inception of the English settler-colonial project, which became the United States. So, long before Trump emerged on the scene. The centrality of the Black Liberation Movements role in challenging this reactionary ideology and social force has never wavered and will never waiver. The world should expect Black people and the Black Liberation Movement to play a leading role in the resistance to Trump and the advancing neo-Confederacy at every level.

The question of who and how the white working class is going to be organized and turned into a force for revolutionary transformation, instead of a bulwark of settler-colonialism and imperialism is a fundamental question. A question that has plagued the left for centuries. There have been some promising signs over the past 2 and half years that a younger generation of white's, from working and petite bourgeois class backgrounds, are willing and trying to break from the hegemony of white supremacy. This has meant engaging in solidarity, and at times in joint struggle with the Movement for Black Lives and Indigenous Sovereignty. But, more, much more has to be done. Trump might be a catalyst for further change. Effective organizing and time will tell.

4. What risks could anti-Trump movements run? What pitfalls would you warn organizers and the newly-politicized against?

As we see in Indiana with Senate Bill 285, which aims to criminalize protest, the reactionary forces that are now coming into power, fully intend to utilize all of the repressive tools at the disposal of the United States government to quell resistance, and ensure the longevity of their rule. So, all of us, the veterans and rookies of struggle must get prepared for the worse - massive surveillance, repression, imprisonment, isolation, and assassination. We would be fools to take the new situation likely. We must learn, really learn, from the failures of societies and movements in the past that failed to fully challenge white nationalism and fascism as they emerge, and even moreso when they get a grasp of power. We have entered a period where sacrifice, self-sacrifice of the highest order, is imperative. If we don't view the situation this way, and resist as if our lives depended upon it (which they in fact due), we will find ourselves either back in the 16th century or extinct. So, people should expect intense repression and get prepared to make tremendous sacrifices.

5. Why fight?

We must fight because Trump and the reactionary forces that are now poised to run the United States government are a threat, a real threat to humanity. The course that they are on will only exasperate national and global inequality, hasten civil and world war, and drive the climate and the biosphere to the brink. These forces must be defeated at all costs without question. But, we must not return to the capitalist status quo of the world-system, either in its liberal, social democratic or neo-liberal forms. The liberal center cannot hold and must be viewed as just as problematic as the emergent fascist form of that order as is the neo-liberal order. We have to fight for more. We have to fight for the future, fight for social emancipation on a global scale based on a liberatory program based on the decolonization of land and knowledge systems, the democratization of the productive forces, the full automation of the productive forces, the decarbonization of the economy, the full democratization of markets and the processes of value exchange, and a regenerative social order based on zero-waste and the restoration of the biosphere.

The Pledge to BE #UnGovernable

Radio interview with Dennis Trainor, Jr. on the Trump Show. Published Tuesday, January 24th, 2016. For more information about the Trump Show see

Monday, January 23, 2017

Build and Fight: Beyond Trump and the Limitations of the United Front

Kali Akuno and Doug Norberg

 On Inauguration Day, we note the considerable range of the opposition to Trump, from traditional activists to very mainstream folks. In many respects the opposition mounted was unprecedented, on a day where patriotic and jingoistic hyperbole is typically concentrated and loudly broadcast more than at any other time, and when, traditionally, new Presidents make appeals to the heart and to democratic unity while all who know how false the claims are, bite their lips, party, and hope for the best. The opposition struggling to find expression is broad and deep. But, nearly all expressions of opposition are resorting to traditional methods of reformist oriented protest while millions of people throughout the United States and the world are discussing and debating how they are going to survive and resist the emerging Presidential regime of Donald Trump and the rise of right-wing populism and a resurgent “America first” white nationalism.

Given the nature of Trump’s politics and how he came to power, comparisons abound between him and Hitler. Some of these comparisons are compelling; several are strategically and tactically instructive for our present predicament. But, while most activists focus on how and why Trump captured the Presidency, or the nature of an ascending neo-Confederacy, most do not address the crisis itself. Nor what the crisis practically implies, and when, where, and how the Left and the people’s movements can and must intervene to produce desired outcomes.

The crisis in question is the crisis of the capitalist world-system, which has entered a profound state of economic and ecological imbalance, social instability, inter-imperialist infighting, mass displacement, increased suffering and rampant carnage not experienced on this scale at a global level since the 1930’s. The crisis is rooted in the inherent contradictions of the capitalist system, such as the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, the need for constant expansion, uneven development within and between socio-political units, and ecological externalization, to name a few. The “Great Depression” of the 1930’s led to the second great inter-imperialist war, more commonly known as World War II, which lasted from1936 through 1945. The process of “creative destruction”, which war under capitalism facilities, ended the depression and ushered in a new era in the imperialist system, the era U.S. hegemony. 

The first 20 years of U.S. global domination was perhaps the greatest period of sustained capital realization in the 400 plus year history of the inhumane capitalist system. This exceptional period, from the mid-1940’s through the mid-1960’s, was the product of successfully implementing world-system regulating instruments crafted by U.S. imperialism to structure the process of capital accumulation on a global scale, mediate inter-imperialist rivalry, suppress and corrupt the national liberation and communist movements, and contain the Socialist countries within the Cold War framework. The primary instruments crafted by U.S. imperialism on the economic side were the Bretton Woods institutions, consisting of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the General Agreement on Tariff’s and Trade (GATT), and its successor the World Trade Organization (WTO).  And grand recapitalization initiatives like the Marshall Plan (which rebuilt the economies of Western Europe after second Inter-Imperialist War).  On the political side the primary instruments crafted by U.S. imperialism were the United Nations (UN), the European Union, and a host of regional instruments like the Organization of American States (OAS), and all enforced by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Beginning in the 1970’s in the effort to restore profitability, capital slowly rejected the Keynesian strategy of capital accumulation adopted in the 1930’s, and gradually adopted a cannibalistic strategy that focused on privatizing public assets, destroying workers organizations and social solidarity, commodifying as many social processes, interactions and exchanges as could be monetized, and the evisceration of the symbolic and false trappings of western bourgeois democracy. This new strategy of capital accumulation is typically called “neo-liberalism”. Neo-liberalism was first adopted wholesale by the murderous Pinochet regime in Chile in the 1970’s. It was forced wholesale upon the world once it became the official strategy, ideological framework, and statecraft of the Reagan regime in the 1980’s. It was instituted domestically through the Volcker Shock at the Federal Reserve and the policies of Reaganomics. And internationally, it was primarily instituted through the IMF and World Bank that imposed neo-liberal “structural adjustment programs” on all the nations that suffered through the debt crisis of the 1980’s.

As we know from history, nothing remains static. The neo-liberal strategy of capital accumulation and class restoration began to lose both economic momentum and political coherence in the late 1990’s. The fragmentation started with the Asian Financial Crisis and the bubble implosion of the late 1990’s. Despite the enormous amount of profit the neo-liberal corrective was rendering to the trans-national capitalist class, all it was delivering to the working class on a universal basis was shock, awe, and misery. From the late 1990’s on, fewer and fewer of the social and political promises advanced by the prophets of neo-liberalism could be met as the costs of maintaining the Bretton Woods/UN/NATO system increasingly became a hindrance to capital accumulation. Working class populations the world over were becoming poorer and poorer as the race to the bottom being pursued by the trans-national capitalist class kept tightening the screws trying desperately to realize a profit and maximum rates of return on investment. This stimulated the development of several breakaway political movements, like the anti-globalization movement, and state reform efforts in Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Nicaragua to name a few.

And then there was U.S. imperial overstretch to tip the scales. The invasions and subsequent occupations of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) strained the resources of the U.S. government, weakened its military capacity, and soured the credibility of the U.S. It also weakened financial markets around the world, which resorted to ever larger and deeper extortion measures, like the financial runs on Argentina, Uruguay, and Myanmar, and the eventual cannibalization of international financial institutions during the collapse of the housing bubble in 2007 – 2008, like Countrywide Financial, Northern Rock, Bear Sterns, Wachovia and many others. The housing bubble burst caught the U.S. government and the forces of trans-national capital flatfooted, resulting in the so-called “Great Recession” and the fictitious recovery we are living through now.

By every measure the world-system is set for another major global calamity, but with even higher stakes, given the depth of the climate and ecological crisis produced by the exploit and plunder, expand-or-die capitalist mode of production. The result?  Given the present balance of forces throughout the world, we are either facing another great inter-imperialist war that will result in massive destruction and the likely creation of a new “pecking order” of the capitalist world system as occurred in the 1940’s. Or the global war will produce no imperialist winners, but only result in dystopian barbarism, the collapse of “civilization”, and the likely fulfillment of the 6th great extinction event that many are coming to see as virtually inevitable.

 We have to ask ourselves, are there other options? Other possibilities? And if there are, what must we do to bring these into being?

We have to start with a clear understanding that the “liberal” center of the world-system is exhausted, bankrupt, and cannot hold. Resistance is growing and is just beginning to develop a revolutionary imagination, and address the imperative need for revolutionary organization and strategic focus. The relatively spontaneous, reactive, and largely reform-minded movements we see in North America and Europe, from the center-left (liberals and social democrats) and the right, against the predominant neo-liberal order reveals that there is tremendous potential for change. However, the change will only be substantive and beneficial to humanity if what replaces our present unethical and inequitable world is truly emancipatory. Spontaneity will not get us there, nor will the liberals, centrists, or the resurgent forces of the right. A revolutionary force is needed, one that is not yet born.

We argue, that the salvation of the human family is up to us – the revolutionary left and the people’s movements. We must find a way to align and unite our fragmented forces, and form a revolutionary, counter-hegemonic force.

Some of the fundamental questions confronting emergent revolutionary forces are how will the developing anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle be unified? How will the revolutionary political forces develop and struggle? And where should and will they aim their strategic focus? As these forces develop and struggle for political and strategic clarity, they will have to confront and overcome the demons that have weakened revolutionary forces over the last several hundred years – internal democracy, hierarchy, sexism, patriarchy, heterosexism, Eurocentrism and settler-colonialism, white supremacy, xenophobia, the mental/manual division of labor, electoral fixations, economism, revisionism, and reformism. While all of these issues are of equal weight, the last three issues are of particular short-term concern in the U.S. context, because if the struggle against them mishandled, it will result in the emerging resistance movement being subject to the forces and agenda of liberal faction of U.S. imperialism, the Democratic Party.

So, the question, how do we play a leading role in facilitating and directing the current motion of resistance and transform it into a revolutionary movement is paramount. The orthodox left urging in times and conditions similar to these are to organize “popular”, “united”, or “national” fronts to unite all who can be united in the struggle against fascism. But these calls rarely take into account the inequality or lack of political parity of the “uniting” forces, and have usually blurred or ignored the difference between the fundamental unity required in strategic alliances, and the temporary or limited unity of tactical alliances. United fronts (in which all parties agree to subordinate or postpone their “secondary issues”) are necessary to mount massive campaigns of resistance against right-wing dictatorships and/or fascist regimes; but they have proven woefully inadequate as vehicles of revolutionary social transformation. They are therefore necessary tactically for defense, but insufficient for the purposes of strategically advancing a revolutionary program.

At best, “united fronts” are instruments for restoring the status quo ante, which in our case is the neo-liberal capitalist-imperialist order that has dominated U.S. political economy since the 1980’s. The failure of this order created the political vacuum that produced Trump and the resurgence of white nationalism and neo-fascism. Restoring the failed neo-liberal order is no solution. Nor is the attempt to campaign for the restoration of the welfare or social democratic state a solution, as it to was (and is) a strategy to maximize profits and pacify and disempower the working class, not social liberation.

Many of the current liberal, progressive, and left-leaning discussions about how to resist Trump and the neo-Confederates reflect the limitations of this “united front” approach. Some, like Sanders and Nader, project a combination left-right unity for economic collaboration with the emerging neo-fascist regime.  Others, like Nancy Pelosi, says “the country can withstand the election of Donald Trump,” why it's important to take a breath and why she says Democrats are doing the Lord's work.

Other democratic pundits strike a laissez-faire “populist” tone, exemplified by the “Wait for the Government to Collapse and then your in Power” article in Politico, saying “the most likely outcome of this Republican government is probably failure, which is a horrible thing for the country but actually a very convenient one for the Democratic Party. So follow that strategy, disassociate yourself from the outcomes, wait for the government to collapse and then you’re in power again.”  It’s the old mad illusion of democratic pendulum swings, but with a caveat:  “this is bad for the country and the way things go badly might result in horrific tragedies, so that’s a grim prospect, but if you’re simply analyzing the political calculation, that’s available to the Democrats…. at times they’re going to have to balance their political interests against policy outcomes. So if you have a chance to bargain with the Trump regime, in a way that averts humanitarian catastrophe, you could trade away some of your political leverage to do so, to negotiate minor details on Obamacare so that you can avoid subjecting millions of people to hardship, then that’s probably worth doing. Climate would be another area where that kind of bargain is worth doing—giving them bipartisan cover in order to mitigate the damage of the policy agenda. But otherwise, if you’re just analyzing what’s in the political best interest, it’s almost never to cooperate.”

Such arguments are promoted by liberal Democratic figures and echoed by reform-careerists, in order to hold more privileged “middle-class” folks to a loyalist agenda, and in order to silence more radical and demanding activists and critics.  In other words, Democrats should ride the discontent and direct it toward non-involvement with Trump initiatives, so the pendulum will swing back mechanically to the Democratic Party retaking power.  Many will, (unfortunately in this view) be thrown under the bus -- "for the common good."

This argument appeals to the reform left who, long accustomed to playing the single-issue reformist game a la “NGOism”, who will fit right in and help throw radicals and all manner of anti-system activists – like those struggling against the police, prisons, poor education, inadequate health and childcare, substandard and unaffordable housing, gentrification, domestic violence, anti-surveillance, whistleblower, animal rights, transphobia, climate justice, Islamophobia, BDS, anti-fascism, etc. – under the bus for "the greater good", so as not to spoil the "strategic deal” of a projected pendulum reversal.

 But the views of the millions "thrown under the bus" historically and today are not unknown, though routinely denied, dismissed, deemed divisive, and often outright criminalized. Many activists are easily swayed by such arguments, in part because of decades of single-issue reformism, and also the utility of commonplace appeals to “united fronts” historically, which have not been critically examined. In times of great capitalist crisis, severe systemic repressions combined with age-old oppressions throw many people on the defensive, and often move many to be dismissive of attempts at revolutionary challenges to the system. In such a time it’s crucial to examine these illusory “pragmatic” maneuvers (surrenders) against the reality, from the perspective of those who have been, and will be, thrown under the bus – the unmentionables and untouchables throughout the US political arenas.

We have to counter the narrowness of the standard “united front” approach and build a political force and a social movement that aims for social and economic emancipation, and not just a restoration of the “good ole bad days” of the Obama era or the 1950’s and 60’s. This force must be built by the broad totality of the working class in all of its (ethnic, racial, national, spiritual, and gender) diversity, serve its broad interests, and be self-organized and self-directed. By working class, we do not mean a narrow, monolithic subject of the AFL-CIO trade union ideal--the old, idealized, white, heterosexual, male-bodied, industrial worker. The working class encompasses all those who are structurally dispossessed from owning and controlling the means of production, and whom are dependent upon selling their labor, labor power, or their bodies and reproductive capacity in order to survive. This includes everyone from computer programmers to sex workers, from teachers and waged-slaved doctors (both traditional and alternative) to farm workers, from prisoners to the structurally unemployed, and to the vast numbers of unrecognized “gray market” workers in household, caregiving, home and auto maintenance, food preparers, and others. Given the increasing automation of production, this force must call for and organize a liberatory program based on the decolonization of land and knowledge systems, the democratization of the productive forces, the full automation of the productive forces, the decarbonization of the economy, the full democratization of markets and the processes value exchange, and a regenerative social order based on zero-waste the restoration of the biosphere.

This is not a vision and a program that can be led and advanced by a narrowly focused “united” or “popular” front and the convoluted class-interests that such unequal alliances represent. Given the urgency of the situation, particularly from an ecological perspective, the universal interests of the working class cannot be entrusted to and constricted by liberal bourgeois forces of privilege, whom historically tend to dominate popular and united fronts with their positionality and resources, and who often intentionally work to dilute and obscure the politics of struggle for social (class, national, racial, sexual, and gender) liberation in order to sustain their position and preserve the bourgeois order.

The key to understanding and acting in a revolutionary manner in a period of profound social instability and upheaval is to recognize and rally forces to the strategic emancipatory opportunity, even while uniting broadly for defense against the serious threats and attacks. The fragmentation of power, of social hegemony, means that there is space for revolutionary interjection, intervention, and innovation from subaltern class forces. What we lack is the organization, resources, and initiative to intervene in sustained and determined manner. But, these are not normal times, and the opportunities to create the means of seizing the initiative can be found and created. Capitalism is driving humanity and all complex life on earth to the brink of extinction. Trump, the Tea-Party neo-Confederates, and the rising neo-Fascist forces throughout the world are just a reflection of this dynamic of collapse. The situation demands that we, the Left and the People’s Movements, rise to the occasion. Although profoundly difficult, history says we can. Let us make this era the most luminous period in human history.

We can.
We must.
We will.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Time to Build and Fight to Become Ungovernable

Communities around the country are meeting and preparing for the continued onslaught of neo-liberalism that has exploded the wealth divide and has undermined education, health care, wages and more and the additional threats of an administration and Congress that are openly hostile towards immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ, women and blacks. We speak with Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson and the Malcolm X Grassroots Organizing Movement about the new project Ungovernable 2017 and the ongoing work to build economic alternatives to capitalism.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Preparing to Be Ungovernable in 2017

This article is an interview with Sarah Lazare on Alternet at

A conversation with Kali Akuno, organizer with Cooperation Jackson and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

“We cannot and should not legitimize the transfer of authority to a right-wing populist who has neo-fascist orientations,” Kali Akuno told AlterNet over the phone. “We shouldn’t legitimize that rule in any form or fashion. We need to build a program of being ungovernable.”

As the co-director of the Mississippi-based group Cooperation Jackson and an organizer with the nationwide Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Akuno is one of countless organizers across the country working diligently to build a platform sturdy enough to confront Trump’s America.

Movimiento Cosecha, led by undocumented people and immigrants, is planning to go on the offensive to organize a a migrant boycott and general strike demanding “permanent protection, dignity, and respect of immigrants.” Groups including Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) are already striking preemptive blows against a potential Muslim registry under Trump by successfully demanding that the Obama administration eliminate the regulatory framework for a Bush-era registry. The New Sanctuary Movement, meanwhile, is getting ready to mobilize large numbers of people to intervene against a potential escalation of raids targeting immigrants.

For Akuno, whose organizations are led by people of African descent and strive for self-determination for people of African descent and the eco-socialist transformation of society as a whole, now is an important time for movements to be talking to each other and strategizing how to unfold a program of noncompliance and noncooperation on both the federal and state levels. “We are not going to legitimize this regime, and we are going to try to draw a deeper level of criticism to the entire system,” he emphasized. “If Trump and Clinton were the best the system could offer, there is something wrong with the system. There always has been. We need to start envisioning what kind of future we want and need.”

A call for civil servants to resist

“A core component of resistance is to get the class of civil servants, particularly on the federal but also the state level, to not comply with arbitrary laws and policies that are going to be created,” said Akuno. “To not recognize the laws we know are coming that will discriminate against Black people, Latinos, immigrants and queer people. There is no need for anyone to comply. Let’s not give it legitimacy just because it’s the law. We need to be prepared to disobey and engage in civil disobedience. We need to get ready for that now.”

Akuno said there are already encouraging signs that such resistance is building among civil servants. Concerned that critical climate data will vanish under a climate-change denying Trump administration, scientists and meteorologists are working to copy and safely store public data using independent servers. Earlier this month, the University of Toronto held a “Guerrilla Archiving” event inviting volunteers to “join in a full day of hackathon activities in preparation for the Trump presidency.” The website “Climate Mirror” was erected as part of an effort to “mirror public climate datasets before the Trump Administration takes office to make sure these datasets remain freely and broadly accessible.”

Meanwhile, media reports are emerging that some Department of Energy officials are refusing to comply with a Trump administration demand to hand over the names of all of the agency’s contractors and employers who have worked on key climate policies under President Barack Obama. The request elicited concerns of a witch hunt and purge orchestrated by the incoming administration. But The Independent reported earlier this month, “The US Department of Energy (DOE) has refused to answer questions issued to them by Donald Trump’s transition team.”

In a letter dated December 28, attorney general offices from 13 states threatened litigation against Trump if he discards the Clean Power Plan, as he has vowed to do.

Such resistance, of course, contrasts with the narrative of a “peaceful transition of power” at times embraced by the Obama administration and much of the Democratic party. But among lower-level workers, opportunities for resistance are manifold. According to Akuno, “it is impressive to see a certain level of resistance that members of civil society are already engaging in. I don’t think this should be taken lightly. A broad alliance can be made, with a clear articulation of a call for resistance.”

Akuno emphasized that such resistance is just one prong of a broader strategy that he says entails “not going to work, not participating in your run-of-the-mill economic activities, with the hope and aim that we can build prolonged acts of civil disobedience that lead to a general strike.” While such plans are not fully fleshed out, he noted organizations across the country are actively discussing such a possibility.

‘Build and fight’

Strategies for large-scale disobedience should be buttressed by local plans that simultaneously prepare us for survival and orient us towards social transformation, he argued. “Cooperation Jackson is in the midst of a pivot that we’re calling, ‘Build and Fight,’” said Akuno, explaining that the initiative is premised on the assumption that “the left’s infrastructure domestically and internationally is profoundly weak. There needs to be a building piece in our view. This has to be a primary focus, and we want to build something that leans in an anti-capitalist orientation, like community production based cooperatively owned digital fabrication.”

For inspiration, Cooperation Jackson looks to black freedom organizers like Fannie Lou Hamer, who, in 1969, helped found the Freedom Farm Cooperative in Sunflower County, Mississippi, which was aimed at boosting food security and independence for Black community members who faced systematic dispossession. The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, meanwhile, has played a critical role in protecting those communities on the frontlines of black freedom and civil rights movements.

According to Akuno, now is a time to fortify infrastructure for autonomy and resistance. “That’s where co-ops, land trusts, time banking, mutual exchange, community production and other new social relationships come in,” he said. “We want to build society in a prefigurative way. We want a guaranteed level of food security and energy security. We need bottom-up solutions to sustain ourselves and transform the world.”

Towards this end, Cooperation Jackson is building three green cooperatives, as well as an eco-village aimed, protected by a community land trust. These bottom-up alternatives are coupled with a push for policies aimed at a “just transition” away from policies that worsen climate change and environmental racism.

In materials emailed to AlterNet, the organization explained that its approach is “premised on ending our systemic dependence on the hydro-carbon industry and the capitalist driven need for endless growth on a planet with limited resources, while creating a new, democratic economy that is centered around sustainable methods of production and distribution that are more localized and cooperatively owned and controlled.”

“We need to be building participatory democratic structures from below,” Akuno emphasized. “We should be building people’s assemblies, not as a substitute of the state, but to deal with areas where the neoliberal state is failing to provide basic social services.”

Learning from history

“This moment calls us to really look at our collective history critically,” said Akuno. “In reality, this is not a democratic society, never has been. But, it’s based on democratic myths, not the concrete practice of democracy. We can look at the struggles of indigenous, Black, Xican@, Puerto Rican communities and draw new lessons. We can win genuine multiracial class unity that can benefit us during this time of struggle.”

Akuno emphasized that there are plenty of lessons to be learned from struggles around the world. “In the 1950s through 80s, movements fought the right-wing neo-fascist dictatorships of Argentina and Chile,” he said. “It took decades to turn the tide, people were organizing on an underground basis after most of the left was liquidated. How folks organized and delegitimized the regime—I think there’s a lot to be learned from that.”

From South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement to Spain’s civil war to 1930s-era Germany, Akuno emphasized that we need to “use history as a guide.” But he also underscored that we have to recognize what is unique about this moment, which he says emerges from a uniquely American legacy of “white supremacy in its segregationist apartheid form.”

“The orientation we’re taking is not just about surviving Trump, but drawing attention to the fact that the system was already heading towards more severe types of repression, surveillance and austerity,” he said. “We’re also looking at the global dynamics as to why right-wing populism and fascism is spreading internationally.”

What is clear, says Akuno, is that the right-wing populism of the Trump administration will not be defeated by civil discourse and liberal democracy. He emphasized, “If we are serious and steadfast, we can create a clear and uncomprehensive message around being ungovernable.”

Be #UnGovernable 2017


We resist because we refuse to allow Trump and his views on climate change and his deep investment in the oil industry lead us to the brink of human destruction with his “drill baby drill” and “burn baby burn” orientation. We will not allow the 6th great extinction to advance on our watch.

We resist because the United States has always been a problematic project and we refuse to go backwards on the limited political, economic, and social gains that have been won by Indigenous and oppressed peoples, women, religious minorities, LGBTQI communities and individuals, workers, children, and in the protection of our life-giving environment. We refuse to accept the wanton reintroduction of white supremacy, right wing populism and fascism, state sanctioned patriarchy, and the expansion and consolidation of a neo-Confederacy.

We resist because we will not allow US imperialism to go unchallenged. We refuse to allow the Trump regime to allow for the ethnocide of the Palestinian people, to start a war of aggression with Iran, to legitimize a puppet regime in Haiti, to escalate tensions with China, to support a coup d’état in Venezuela, to intensify AFRICOM’s acts of aggression on the African continent, to threaten and sanction the progressive governments of Bolivia and Ecuador, and the list goes on. We cannot and will not sit idly by and allow US imperialist expansion and aggression to advance either within the territories it currently controls or on the peoples, nations, and states outside of its jurisdiction.
We resist because we must. We resist knowing that one day of action will not stop any of the destructive plans of the Trump regime and the neo-Confederates that now control ¾ of the state governments. This day of action is a beginning. A way for us to come together, resist together, and to start the hard work of building a new political force and program that will help us co-construct a liberated future.

Join us! 


We cannot afford to “wait and see” what the Trump regime is going to do, or “give them a chance”. His cabinet appointments clearly indicate that we have to take him for his word, and that he clearly meant all of the racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, China bashing, queer hating and misogynist rhetoric that he espoused and he fully intends on implementing all of the promises and policies he proposed to target these subjects on the mission to make the United States a white republic once again.

Therefore, we should expect the Trump regime and the Tea Party dominated neo-Confederate state governments to further demonize any and all opposition, to ramp up surveillance to even greater levels, to unleash massive amounts of repression and terror (from both government and reactionary white supremacist forces) on progressive social movements and non-compliant populations, and use various types of economic threats to subject people to their will. Hoping and praying for things to work themselves out for the better won’t work. Efforts at trying to isolate yourself, your family, and your community and shield it from the repression that is coming won’t work. Trump and the reactionary forces that he embodies and represents must be defeated, politically, socially, and economically. Solidarity and joint struggle are our greatest forms of both offensive and defensive resistance. But, the solidarity must be practical, programmatic, and visionary.

To defeat Trump and the neo-Confederates we have to develop a strategic “Build and Fight; Fight and Build” program. This program must address the imperative need to build economic and political power from the ground up – amongst workers, the underemployed, unemployed and structurally unemployable on the community, county, state and national levels.

Both dimensions of our Build and Fight program we believe must have offensive and defensive dimensions to them. What follows are some preliminary thoughts on what we believe must be built and/or strengthened going forward, to not only survive the Trumpocalype, but to build the world we and our children and great grandchildren need.
The Build
  1. Build Community Farms and Food Distribution Centers to address basic subsistence needs of the people in our communities.
  2. Build Production or Supply Chain Networks and Alliances to ensure food security and sovereignty on municipal and larger scales.
  3. Build Community Energy Networks and Centers to address basic energy needs in our communities and municipalities.
  4. Build and Reclaim Common Spaces to ensure that communities have space for various types of production, community engagement, and the practice participatory democracy and community governance.
  5. Build Cooperatives (Worker, Consumer, and Community) to address the basic material and service needs of the people in our community.
  6. Build People’s Assemblies and/or other types Vehicles for the Practice of Participatory Democracy to continue the struggle for equality and equity.
The Fight Back
  1. Build Self-Defense Committee’s and Educational Campaigns to protect our communities from state and reactionary militia repression and terror.
  2. Build Sanctuary Networks to Defend Immigrants, Muslims, Organizers and the Persecuted.
  3. Build Autonomous Communication and Information Sharing Institutions and Networks to ensure safe and direct connection amongst the people in our communities and networks.
  4. Build Broad Civil Action Units to engage in Massive Civil Disobedience, Occupation and General Strike Actions to stop the advance of political and economic reaction.
None of these initiatives can be built overnight and they cannot be done individually. They require organization on various different scales and scopes.

Starting with your endorsement, we propose initiating a process of ongoing engagement and organizing to build a national network that can and will grow into a radical force of political resistance, power, and vision to move us out of the forest of gloom that is presently surrounding us.
We propose the following organizing process after January 20th:
  1. That there be a national evaluation call immediately after the day of resistance on January 20th.
  2. That we host municipal forums and/or assemblies to discuss the program presented above and how it can be applied and/or expanded in our municipalities.
  3. That we host regional organizing and resistance networking gatherings in April or May.
  4. That we host a national networking and resistance coordination meeting in the summer of 2017.

On the Farm Radio - Interview on Local Electoral Politics

This interview was conducted by Ras Kofi Kwayana in August 2016 and is hosted on