Book Review: Vincent Lyon-Callo, Inequality, Poverty, and Neoliberal Governance: Activist Ethnography in the Homeless Sheltering Industry. Broadview Press, 2004.
In recent years there has been increased discussion of the role that the non-profit structure has had on building radical struggles. INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence's edited volume The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, which focused on the role of foundation funding on movement building, was a watershed on this issue. Lyon-Callo's book, published as an academic monograph three years earlier, functions as an important, but largely overlooked, companion work.
The focus in this volume, based in the author's experience in the 1990s working as a shelter staff member, is the way structural factors that create poverty become normalized and reinforced in day to day thought and action, and the difficulties particular actors encounter in challenging that normalization. Lyon-Callo's narrative is based on the small city of Northampton, Massachusetts, which experienced a significant loss of manufacturing jobs in the 1980s, accompanied by a decrease in affordable housing and the consequential appearance of homelessness. Since the 1970s there was also a major shift in wealth, and an increase in low-wage and low-hour jobs that made accessing enough wealth to obtain basic stability all the harder.
Following the election of Obama, many folks involved with a spectrum of different anti-racist work were left dumbfounded by the rise of the aggressive and often explicitly racist white Tea Party movement. Though the Tea Party Movement had been funded in the millions, enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of Fox News and was being manipulated by powerful forces on the right, it was also clear that the right was comfortably engaging with a sector of the North American working class largely abandoned by the broader left. In the throes of economic crisis many formerly enfranchised whites were looking at serious setbacks. In response the left for the most part smugly responded by dismissing the crazy tea baggers while white supremacists and conservatives moved into largely uncontested territory. In looking for exceptions, I decided to check out the John Brown Gun Club, a group of white working class anarchists who before the emergence of the Tea Party movement, had been sowing class struggle and anti-racist solidarity amongst mostly white gun enthusiasts in Kansas. Here Dave Onion interviews long time anti-racist gun slinger Dave Strano.
Translation of an article by Helen Álvarez Virreira about the Bolivian anarchist feminists, Mujeres Creando (from thecommune.co.uk)
To walk the streets of La Paz is also to walk through the story of Mujeres Creando (Women Creating) an anarchist and feminist movement which has used graffiti and creativity as its forms of struggle and has made the streets its canvas. “Women who get organised don’t have to iron shirts any more”, ”I don’t want to be the woman of your dreams, I want to be the woman of my dreams” and “Because Evo Morales doesn’t know how to be a father (he tried to disown his daughter), he doesn’t know what it means to be a mother” are among its graffiti.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's Anti-Union Bill, was signed into law on March 1, despite the objections and actions of the masses who took over Madison, staging the largest continual protest in Wisconsin history. Starting in mid-February, teaching assistants, teachers, nurses, other public sector workers and their supporters flooded the city, took over the capitol building, and rallied around the clock, in a resistance that grew and grew, garnering support in solidarity demos across the country. A report in The Guardian “US left finds its voice over Wisconsin attacks on union rights”(3) described “the atmosphere [as] part Glastonbury, part commune, part polite midwest. Drummers beat out rhythms all day long to chants of Union Power...there are sleeping bags piled in corners for the hundreds staying overnight, and piles of pizza cartons and water bottles donated by local businesses or paid for by supporters round the US and the world.”
"l have slain Pharaoh" were the words of the Egyptian military officer who led rebel army commandos that assassinated former Egyptian dictator Anwar Sadat while he was reviewing a military parade in 1981 for selling his country out to the West and abandoning the Palestinian people's struggle for independence. On February 11, 2011 Egypt's latest dictator, Hosni Mubarak, who replaced Sadat in 1982 and ruled for 30 years as a modern Egyptian Pharaoh, was pushed out of power by a people's revolt inspired by the January people's revolt in Tunisia that ended the dictatorship of Zine Ben Ali who ruled Tunisia for over 20 years. Mubarak ruled Egypt unchallenged for 30 years and was considered America’s Man in the Middle East. He was also America's partner in terror, allowing his country to be used in the C.l.A.'s rendition program the United States used to transfer so-called terrorist suspects to be tortured for information useful to the U.S. war on terror. Mubarak‘s regime relentlessly tortured and imprisoned members of the opposition in Egypt, and according to a classified U.S. diplomatic cable revealed by Wikileaks, torture was reported to be so widespread and epidemic that it affected every layer of Egyptian society. Under Mubarak Egypt also received over 2 billion dollars in U.S. aid. 70% of it is allotted to the Egyptian military which the U.S. used to prop up Mubarak's corrupt regime and the military equipment was aimed not at external enemies but rather at its own people.
Joel Beinin's analysis of the contribution of workers to the anti-Mubarak uprising and the possible consequences for both the social movement generally and the Egyptian working class specifically.
“Egyptian Workers Join the Revolution,” proclaimed the headline of Al-Ahram, the government-owned daily, the day before ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. Tens of thousands of workers—in textiles, military production, transportation, petroleum, cement, iron and steel, hospitals, universities, telecommunications and the Suez Canal—participated in strikes or protests in the three days before Mubarak’s departure. Although it is too soon to render a definitive judgment, the demographic and economic weight of workers in the popular uprising was likely one of the factors that persuaded Egypt’s military chiefs to ask Mubarak to step aside.
Since last year, the state governments of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, along with Del Monte, a fruit and vegetable company, have tried to break the International Longshoremen's Association. In a move of blatant union busting, Fresh Del Monte Produce, which is owned by business tycoon Leo Holt, moved their business of unloading fruit from the port of Philadelphia to the “less costly” LLC Gloucester port downriver in Gloucester, N.J., which is privately owned by the Holt Family with a low-wage company union Dockworkers Local 1 (this fake union has its offices in a building owned by the Holt family). The workers receive less pay than they do at the plant in Philadelphia, which is publicly owned and unionized with the ILA. Before the company moved, Del Monte demanded that ILA Local 1291 take a 25%+ wage and benefit cut and that the State of New Jersey give it $25 million to improve its Camden, N.J. pier or else they would move operations. Del Monte gave the state and the union four days to make a decision. Apparently, both the state and the union agreed to the cuts. Despite this agreement Del Monte moved anyway, resulting in the loss of 200+ ILA jobs.
Among the numerous policies implemented by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, one requires Security Level 5 Inmates to move to a new cell every 90 days. This is one rule peaceful Old Heads on Death Row dread, having to move next to some idiot always running his mouth, trying to act tough, cursing, blasting his television and radio.
On March 2, 2011, The Army announced it had filed 22 additional charges against Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, the soldier suspected of providing classified government documents published by the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group. The counts against him involve the leaking of the Afghan and Iraq war logs as well as the quarter million State Department cables disseminated last year.
I left Ireland in 2007 at the height of the economic boom there, the unemployment rate was under 5%1, house prices had gone through the ceiling and the head of state had suggested that anyone who thought there might be an end to the boom should go and kill themselves. I passed through Philly in March 2008 and the news from back home was not so good as the international banking collapse was having its impact. That June I moved back to Ireland, and from then on the economy went into free fall, pushed over the edge by property speculation, which had grown exponentially in the previous decade.
A global crash was always going to hit the Irish economy hard. Government policy was to rely on global corporations moving to set up factories, headquarters and tax shelters in Ireland to create wealth and employment. At the start of the Celtic Tiger Ireland had low wages and a skilled workforce by European standards, and this on top of a criminally low corporate tax base meant international investment poured in. For much of the 1990’s Ireland was attracting ten times more Foreign Direct Investment per capita than the next nearest European country, Spain. During this long boom the Irish unions had become bloated and lazy, there were almost no protests or strikes as everything was sorted out by the trade union leadership in national deals negotiated every three years, and without struggle there was no rank and file organizating. Worse still, these national deals (called social partnership) negotiated tax cuts instead of decent pay increases inevitably storing up trouble for when the boom ended.