Organizing can’t pay into won’t pay. Come May, millions of tenants in the United States will not pay their rent. This is inevitable. By the first week of April, one-third of renters nationwide — approximately 13.4 million people — had not paid rent; since then, 26 million workers have joined the ranks of the unemployed. Stimulus checks are late,
From survival organizing to disaster confederalism. We are in month two of the coronavirus crisis in New York City, and must reassess how we are organizing ourselves. More than ten thousand have died, and we have seen mass burials in a public park, without names or ceremonies. The medical emergency quickly morphed into a crisis of social reproduction, with
Don’t say rest in peace, say fuck the police. Sean Bonney died this November in Berlin at the age of fifty. He would likely reject the reduction to national tags, but he was a great poet of political militancy in a particularly British vein. No one captured the banal agony of Thatcherism and its aftermath with the same punk fury; no one was more repulsed by
Communism is for moms or it’s nothing. 2020 began just how so many of us thought it would: in flames. By January the bushfires that had grown for six months in Australia felt unstoppable. The scorched Amazon rainforest seemed like old news, as did the very notion of an Arctic fire. By the end of 2019, there were something like 7,860 recorded fires in California,
After US withdrawal, how to prevent more bloody games in Afghanistan? In the opening chapter of Moby Dick, Ishmael laments that the “Fates” have sent him on a “shabby” whaling voyage, while other men of his epoch are sent on “magnificent” ventures instead. One such “high tragedy” was the “Bloody Battle in Afghanistan,” which Ishmael describes as among the “more
More hot air won’t stop the planet from warming. On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein Simon & Schuster | $27 | 309 pages After a distinguished career criticizing global capitalism, Naomi Klein pivoted in 2014 to the climate change arena, where she has mostly stayed (because where else is there for her, or anyone, to go). This Changes
Rough music against austerity. A handful of people walk down a central street of Concepción, Chile’s third-largest city, in a coolheaded manner. A person draped in the yellow, blue, red, green, and white Wenufoye — the flag of the Mapuche nation — plays the violin. He’s accompanied by a guitarist, a person in a Palestinian keffiyeh, and another wearing the construction
From Radical America to Commune, a letter. Created in 1967 to educate members of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) through the new Radical Education Project, Radical America came into being by connecting to broader insurgent movements, past and present. In discovering what it meant to be “on the left,” its editors, contributors, and readers found
Nikola Garcia is originally from the Bay Area, in California. They now live between Santiago de Chile and Atlanta. The post Nikola Garcia appeared first on Commune.
In a few months, Covid-19 has remade our political horizons entirely. History moves slowly, then all at once. The coronavirus crisis has catapulted us into the latter rhythm. The pace of events has accelerated sharply; the course of events has become impossible to predict. In retrospect, 2020 may end up being a 1968 or a 1917: a year of leaps and ruptures, and
New solidarities on the Pan-American Highway. On Sundays, Tapachula is the world’s city. In this town on the southeastern edge of Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state, migrants from nearly every continent, each uniquely desperate to flee the border town circumstances have built around them, keep out of the afternoon rain by huddling under the shallow awnings
Who will build the commune? And why? That’s overkill—that’s cutting butter with a chainsaw,” Diana Leafe Christian says. She’s sitting on a foldout chair under a giant, octagonal yurt. She wears a large Marigold-print dress and glasses that dwarf her face. She is often looking either above or below these glasses, and together with her southern twang and impressive
All of them means all of them. It is a strange time to be an English speaker, and particularly the sort that peers out from the United Kingdom or the United States. Each has been a global colonizer both military and economic, delivering accumulation at a global scale. But it is not just that the UK and US have been lords of their own long centuries; they are not two of
It’s time to seize the means of care. Euskal Herria is a small nation, situated in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, divided by the Spanish–French border. One part is ruled by the French state, and the other, ruled by the Spanish state, is divided into two autonomous communities: Navarre and the Autonomous Basque Community. Here, in one week of enforced
What the COVID-19 relief bill offers is a little survival, as a treat. It’s time for a counterproposal. When I read about the temporary hospitals Chinese localities were setting up to house coronavirus patients with mild and moderate symptoms, my first thought was that America can’t follow their lead because too many people would want to go. That’s not
Emptying the detention centers is more important now than ever. On a late March weekend, dozens of cars approached the Hudson County Correctional Facility complex in New Jersey, which doubles as an immigrant detention center. Bumper to bumper, hazard lights flashing, the vehicles slowly circled the jail as drivers chanted from their windows and blasted
No more turnstiles, and no more borders. Last November, on my way to a demonstration, I received an audio message from my friend Seba, in Santiago, Chile: “Good luck, and don’t forget to send pictures—we need to make memes.” At this point, “pics or it didn’t happen” applies more to the demonstration than it ever did to the afterparty. In New York City, where I live,
We’ve never seen anything like this. Valerio and his comrades knew they could not treat COVID-19 like any other struggle or mutual aid campaign. They had been part of flood relief efforts and mutual aid work in areas in Northern Italy struck by fire, movements against police and for workers, but a virus is different. It’s not visible. You can’t confront
Everything is on the table. I wake up and turn on the radio to hear the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. Iran has released 85,000 prisoners, I hear. Next, a businessman is desperate. He is rejecting the unprecedented loan package announced by the UK government yesterday. Asked what he wants the government to do for his staff, he replies, “Pay their wages, just pay
Where we avoid each other, we can find our power, too. “We are pressed, pressed on each other / We will be told at once / Of anything that happens.” In this short stanza written in 1968, the poet George Oppen spoke to our current condition, now thrown into sharp relief by a pandemic. When rushed, if not forced, into so-called “social distancing,” we should reflect
Strike against absent future. In recent weeks, the graduate student wildcat strike for a cost-of-living adjustment at the University of California, Santa Cruz has entered a new phase. On Friday, February 28, the UCSC administration sent termination letters to about eighty graduate students, dismissing them from their teaching positions for the spring
Tear down the platforms. The debate around permitting far-right speakers to lecture on university campuses is by now well worn. We all know how it plays out. Preachers from the right are invited onto campuses, resulting in mini Nuremberg rallies. Or else if they disinvite these speakers, they are pilloried for failing to uphold free speech absolutely and therefore
For wildcat strikers at the University of California in Santa Cruz, there’s no turning back. The following collects viewpoints from the COLA movement, COLA4ALL, and the People’s Coalition at University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). These groups are fighting for a graduate student cost-of-living adjustment at UCSC. The COLA movement grew out
The alt right is irrelevant now, because its ideas are entirely mainstream. “Some women are simply aroused by the image of a penis.” These were the words uttered by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer in a now-deleted video from his YouTube show. In The Richard Spencer Show, the Alt-Right celebrity talks into his webcam for two hours while a single anonymous cohost using
Beside the deep mines of working-class history, blocking the tracks unlocks the future. Just past the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College, the railroad to the Cloverlick Mine runs parallel to the road. Before last summer, this was a quiet place, a sleepy community called Cumberland, in Harlan County, residing in the shadow of Pine Mountain:
At forefront of radical antiracism and libertarian Marxism in the seventies and eighties, Race Today provides crucial lessons and insights for twenty-first century antiracists. Here to Stay, Here to Fight: A Race Today AnthologyEdited by Paul Field, Robin Bunce, Leila Hassan, Margaret PeacockPluto Press, 2019304 pp | $25.00
In Haiti, after decades of legal banditry, a new revolutionary project arises to ask where all the money has gone. On February 7, 2019, thousands of Haitians took to the streets of Port-au-Prince and the cities of Cap-Haitien, Gonaives, and Jacmel to demand the prosecution of government officials and business elites who had embezzled two billion dollars from
In Australia, and elsewhere, the future is unsettling. Back in sixth grade, I wrote a story from the point of view of a kangaroo caught in a bushfire, leaping and dodging flames as she tries to save the joey in her pouch. Fire is such a regular part of the landscape across much of Australia. Aboriginal people used it actively to hunt for game, among other things. The
Direct action might stop the war. Released in fall of 2000, “Bombs over Baghdad” was, depending on how you measure, the last great song of the last century or the first of this one. Like everything else about the song, this ambiguity is perfect. It is always on time. If there has been a constant in my political life as an adult, it is the bombing of Baghdad by the United
For a life of the mind worth living. According to the Council of Graduate Schools, nearly 2.2 million people applied for admission to US graduate programs in 2018. Many of those students will enroll in large public research universities, where they must form critical relationships with the faculty members who, in addition to acting as mentors, will exercise
Work is the graveyard of dreams. I was hired when a line cook committed suicide. Hilarie told me this during my job interview. Immediately after my interview, Hilarie and the other owner, her husband Mark, warned me about Jean, the specials chef. “She is miserable and self-pitying and will trap you in her sob stories,” they explained. Then their son told me this
The family is a lifeboat for those abandoned by capital, but fails and thwarts far too many. We need other ways to organize care and organize ourselves. 1. Set up a protest kitchen. The best starting point to abolish the family is a massive insurrection. Come together with others at protest camps, street barricades, square occupations, seized factories, building
Like the singularity, but socialist. Fully Automated Luxury CommunismAaron BastaniVerso | $24.95 | 288 pages In September of 2013, as capitalism struggled to hoist itself from the Great Recession on the misery and truncated futures of its subjects, two Oxford professors published a paper titled “The Future of Employment.” Michael Osborne, a machine-learning
Taking the balance of the passing decade, the Communist Caucus of the DSA lays out some basics for the coming one. Our generation of revolutionaries has the great fortune (or misfortune) of living in interesting times. We bear witness not only to the death of the liberal-democratic political consensus, but to the attempted birth of whatever comes next. Some
Mario Tronti illuminated the rifts in postwar Italy, inspiring a generation. Then he returned to the party. The English translation of Mario Tronti’s Workers and Capital—the 1966 “bible” of Italian operaismo, according to the cliché — was announced in the May–June 1972 number of Radical America for “late 1972,” to be brought out by an obscure Saint Louis–based
Nick Estes tells us why the past and present of Indigenous resistance means there must be no future for the United States. JC: Your book, Our History Is the Future, begins from one of the signal social movements of our present, the Indigenous encampment at Standing Rock, comprising a number of separate camps. It is at once the coming together of the Oceti Sakowin
Elizabeth Warren and the magical thinking of the political class. It’s 2004. George W. Bush is still the president. Elizabeth Warren is on Dr. Phil. On March 10, the psychologist-turned-self-help-guru launched by Oprah Winfrey invites Warren, then a Harvard Law professor, to provide financial tips for his live studio audience. It is a defining moment for
Capitalism must resign On Tuesday, July 23, Puerto Rico was two weeks into a hot summer full of drums, dancing, hand-painted signs, and flags. Crowds chanted viva Puerto Rico libré all day and all night. City streets were occupied and government buildings covered with graffiti. Y no es vandalismo (“no it’s not vandalism”) rang out against the streets, a line
Self-organization in the sagebrush, a romance. Today in Sarsaparilla, Nevada, there would be a duel. The church bells were ringing. The skies had thundered the night before, soaking the ground with rain, so that Randy’s boots made wet suckling sounds in the soft mud as he strutted into place for the duel. Randy Steel rested his thumb on the buckle of his brand
For all its guilty memorials, Germany has never fully acknowledged its African genocide. Bones aren’t always political. For vertebrate animals they lie unseen, supporting the muscle, holding the cartilage, and serving as a vessel for marrow. Bones also supply us with metaphors: “in one’s bones” alludes to one’s innermost feelings, while “to the bone” evokes
Beyond the bobbleheads of our tottering world. Always the places of statecraft, which is to say the places of death, borders have at times swallowed almost all political concerns before them. They now appear poised to do so with terrifying force. In Europe, once and present site of borders gone bonkers, this is clearest in the policy positions of its contending
What the We Company offers is commune as commodity. Telemarketing is at the center of Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You but perhaps the film’s most prescient treatment of contemporary labor is its incorporation of the burgeoning co-living industry. As protagonist Cassius “Cash” Green, newly employed as a telemarketer, drives his rust bucket through a hard-up
The shadow of 1917 stretches across the century. Forty years ago, the Iranian Revolution overthrew the monarchy of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, paving the way for the establishment of the Islamic Republic. While the 1979 revolution united an array of social groups in a revolt against despotism and foreign domination, it didn’t take long for the conflicts hidden
Where jobs vanish, the drug war follows. In the early hours of March 28, 2018, Mexican Marines broke the lock on the door of the house where Jéssica Molina Rodríguez was sleeping together with her husband, José Daniel Trejo Garcia. The Marines forcibly detained Trejo Garcia along with a friend of the couple who had traveled from Oaxaca and was resting with them
We find the way together. A huge scar ran from the middle of his forehead to the bottom of his chin — a gift from La Bestia, the treacherous migrant train that runs from south to north in Mexico, used by migrants who can’t afford the assistance of coyotes or polleros. He had fallen off while he was asleep and the wheels cut his face open. This was in 2012, on Obama’s watch.
Pilar Maschi tells us what it’s like to win. Liberal reformers in New York City are pushing for skyscraper jails to replace the notorious penal colony on Rikers Island. Supporters of the plan claim these facilities will be humane and rehabilitative, functioning as “justice hubs” and “sites of civic unity” tying communities together. Meanwhile, abolitionists
Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity. Noel Ignatiev, who died on November 9 at the age of seventy-eight, believed that emancipation from the misery and stupidity of capitalist society was not only possible but present in germinal form within the daily struggles of everyday working people. These beliefs guided his life’s work, and led him to place a particular
For every empire a Spartacus. Two months after the storied Attica uprising, on Thanksgiving Day, 1971, hundreds of prisoners in New Jersey’s Rahway State Prison staged their own takeover. For twenty-four hours, five hundred inmates held six employees, including the superintendent, hostage after the guards cracked down on an illegal wine-making operation.
Utopian pessimism for the twenty-first century. This year marks fifty years since Theodor Adorno’s death, providing an opportunity to reflect on his relevance to a radically altered cultural landscape, in which the objects of his criticism have changed or disappeared. The German philosopher has proved controversial for his disdain of jazz music and his
Corporations and states drive the climate crisis, not individuals. How often have we heard that the climate crisis is caused by our insatiable consumerism, our lack of environmental concern, rampant population growth, or the inherent selfishness of human nature? At the current rate of consumption, we would need 1.7 planets to sustain our way of life. So to
In the great writer’s novels, style is the consciousness of a revolutionary class in formation. Nanni Balestrini, novelist, poet, visual artist, and revolutionary, died this past May at age 83. An hours-long celebration was held at Rome’s Teatro Argentina to honor Nanni, who hated funerals. The event was called “The greatest Nannis of our lives.” I could
Behind the spectacle of protests at the Whitney Biennial, the coordinated effort that ousted Warren Kanders. On July 19, 2019, following the publication in Artforum of “The Tear Gas Biennial,” four artists announced in an open letter their intention to have their work removed from the Whitney Biennial—considered the country’s most important showcase of
An on-the-ground report from the DSA National Convention. In Atlanta the first weekend of August, over one thousand delegates representing nearly sixty thousand members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) convened over the course of three days to set priorities and allocate resources for the largest socialist organization this country has seen
Reports from the rogue British state. It is almost eighty years to the day since W.H. Auden wrote his most famous poem, “September 1, 1939,” about the onset of the Second World War. It is also almost exactly two months until October 31, the date Brexit negotiations will close and — barring dramatic action — the United Kingdom, or most of it, will depart the European
In Hereditary and now Midsommar, horror is family. Tolstoy famously opened Anna Karenina with the truthy formula “All happy families are alike; unhappy families are each unhappy in their own way.” It took well over a century for someone to call bullshit on this properly, and it was not only a communist feminist who did it, but one who uncritically revered Tolstoy
There’s no going back. “What’s an abortion?” The question rang out from the backseat of my car, from my seven-year-old, as we drove to school one morning. The word had appeared several times on the news, but it would be a difficult one for a young child to track. Its definition seems to depend largely on political identity. For liberals, abortion is a rite
No lone wolf truly acts alone. The Walmart in El Paso was crowded with back to school shoppers when a shooter opened fire and murdered twenty people, including a five-month old infant. Just moments before, a twisted manifesto, titled “An Inconvenient Truth,” was posted online. “I am against race mixing because it destroys genetic diversity and creates identity
Canada Wants New Migrant Prisons but is Facing Resistance Over the past year, the struggle to stop the construction of a new migrant prison in Laval, Quebec has received an increase in mainstream media coverage and growing buzz around movement spaces in Montreal. While this has helped spread the word about the proposed new construction, little has been written
Willem Van Spronsen’s actions are part of a history of collective struggle against detention centers and their world. On July 13th, 69-year-old Willem Van Spronsen used incendiary devices to attack a number of vehicles belonging to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. The attack came
Milkshakes aren’t terrorism. “Andy Ngo is an independent journalist in the Pacific Northwest… He was at an antifa rally over the weekend, minding his own business, covering the news—he’s a journalist—when he was beaten almost to death by antifa… Andy, I’m glad you’re capable of doing this interview. Tell us what happened?!” Tucker Carlson offered
The only cure is to change the world. For more than three decades, I took part in a variety of one-on-one therapies and group therapies. The aim was for me to share what was on my mind or in my life with a therapist who would respond with suggestions or critiques that would help fix me. Struggling with anorexia and anorexic thinking, I would, for instance, say I was
It will take more than a new category on our passports. Those born intersex are rendered unspeakable by the treatment we receive from our society. I do not just mean the daily grind of interphobia: abuse on the street, ignorance as ingrained as it is pervasive, the endless frustrations and indignities of bureaucracy. I also mean “treatment” in the medical sense.
Willem Van Spronsen couldn’t stand by any longer. What will the rest of us do? An imprecise description can be as misleading as a false one. It is, for example, imprecise to say that Willem Van Spronsen was killed by police while attacking an immigration detention center in Tacoma, Washington. This was the standard account of the 69-year-old antifascist’s death
A poem for the commune. Please put all of your flags on this uptown sidewalkAnd allow anyone their revenge There is three of me in america It is only raining one thing: non-white cops Prison guard shadows                                                                               Remind me of                                                                                     
You can’t do politics alone. 1. First of all, there is no housing crisis. 2. Housing is not in crisis. 3. Housing needs no trauma counselors. 4. Housing needs no lawyers. Housing needs no comrades or friends. Housing needs no representatives. Housing needs no organizers. 5. When we call this crisis a housing crisis, it benefits the people who design housing,
To the barricades, through the looking glass. Once upon a time, way back in 2010, having just read his brilliant book Capitalist Realism, I went to see Mark Fisher speak. I walked in late and he was in the midst of denouncing the one-day strike as a pantomime, a meaningless echo of uprising. (He was right, as he was about so many things.) He moved through the financial
No one is disposable. In November of 1970, the Young Lords and the Black Panther Party seized a section of Lincoln Hospital, establishing the first drug detox program in the South Bronx, the center of the city’s heroin epidemic. The “People’s Detox” operated out of the old nurses’ residence under a coalition of Black and Puerto Rican left nationalists, socialists,
The real problem with prisons is prisons, not profit. American Prison Shane Bauer Penguin Press | $28.00 | 368 pages Publishing interest in prisons has followed increased political activity both inside the walls and out. In the early 1970s, it was unremarkable to find bookstores displaying copies of Soledad Brother alongside Kind and Usual Punishment.
In the poems of Eisen-Martin, the violent truth of the racialized city, and an address to the forms of collective life that might survive it. Heaven Is All GoodbyesTongo Eisen-MartinCity Lights | $15.95 | 136 pages Tongo Eisen-Martin is the principal author, in conjunction with comrades in the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, of a curriculum — “We Charge
Acid against austerity. When cultural theorist, author, and blogger Mark Fisher passed away in 2017, he left behind an unfinished book manuscript. Acid Communism: On Post-Capitalist Desire was to continue the project of his 2009 book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? In Capitalist Realism, Fisher wrote that decades of deregulation had all but
The fireworks of the Fourth of July commemorate a slave republic that still deserves to burn. Forty-one of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence owned slaves. In the rare instances where US history acknowledges this fact, slave ownership by the Founding Fathers is presented as hypocrisy, an embarrassing inconsistency in the American
Soldiers of Pole is laying bare the tyranny of the club. Strip clubs, like casinos and theme parks, are a labyrinthine economy, designed to disorient patrons and extract money from them at every turn: entry fees, marked-up drinks, sky-high card minimums, and ATMs fees that can reach up to forty dollars. But dancers know that the exploitative maze of a club isn’t
Against the landlords and the police, in cities poisoned by wealth. It is not easy to convey the wretchedness of everyday life in the San Francisco Bay Area right now. A recent poll gives some hints, however: 44 percent of those surveyed are considering moving out of the area due to the high cost of housing. When people lose housing in the Bay Area, it’s a crisis on
For a life worth living. In 1932, right before the Nazis came to power, Brecht penned a brooding screenplay for a film, Kuhle Wampe, subtitled in English as Who Owns the World? The film follows a young pair of siblings, Franz and Anni, as they ride bicycles around Depression-era Berlin in search of work. Returning to his family’s apartment one day with no prospects,
“Memphis is a dry field and all it needs is a spark.” On June 12, officers with the US Marshals Service shot and killed Brandon Webber in Frayser, Tennessee, a predominantly black, working class suburb north of Memphis. After the shooting, people gathered at the scene and clashed with police officers and sheriff’s deputies, using stones and bottles to
Inside Stonewall 50, a struggle for the next half-century of queer history. This June 28 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The story of Stonewall is familiar to many: following a routine police raid on a mafia-controlled gay bar in the West Village, queers fought back, with thousands rioting over the next four nights. The riots were initiated
In Netflix’s new series on the falsely convicted Central Park Five, the world that whiteness wants is on full display. I binged the Netflix miniseries When They See Us, which details the case of the Central Park Five, fully intending to take it slow, one episode at a time. It is well done in ways I didn’t expect and totally devastating as a whole. + Social media tells
In Jordan Peele’s Us, the real Santa Cruz ascends from its hidden places. Santa Cruz, the beachside hippie town where the first of Ken Kesey’s acid tests took place, imagines itself the frontier of creativity and freedom. With its mélange of alternative lifestyles and intellectual freedoms, today’s Santa Cruz, the “City on a Hill,” never ceases to display
Between race and class, the tether. UsDirected by Jordan PeeleMonkeypaw Productions  | 116 minutes A consistent preoccupation of black filmmakers and television creators in recent years is the precarity that continues to characterize black life in the US, whether through threats of violence from the police, or from economic exploitation and marginalization.
Lasting only a few weeks, the Bavarian Council Republic was one one of the highest peaks of the revolutionary wave that ended World War I. By the Autumn of 1918, it had become clear that Germany was losing the World War. In a last ditch effort, the German High Command prepared a final offensive. Unwilling to continue risking their lives for a losing cause, sailors
It’s time for journalists to really make the news. The current state of digital media in the US is, in a word, tumultuous. It’s never been what anyone would call stable, really, and has always been as exploitative as one might expect from an industry beholden to both capitalism and the whims of billionaires—but for a while there, it looked as though the Vices and
We cannot legislate and spend our way out of catastrophic global warming. From space, the Bayan Obo mine in China, where 70 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals are extracted and refined, almost looks like a painting. The paisleys of the radioactive tailings ponds, miles long, concentrate the hidden colors of the earth: mineral aquamarines and ochres
Hip-hop on horseback, against Billboard apartheid Country and hip-hop are the last two indigenously American genres standing. No cultural tradition is purely indigenous, and elements of each can be traced back to Africa, to Scotland, to the Caribbean, and so on, but the claim is clear enough. The syntheses happened in the United States, and both genres in