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.
Take Back the Land:
Land, Gentrification and the Umoja Village Shantytown
by Max Rameau
Nia Press, 2008
Review by Alex Knight, endofcapitalism.com
I first heard about a group called Take Back the Land, which was illegally moving homeless families into empty homes in Miami, in a study group about the Civil Rights movement and the grassroots organizing that made it so powerful. The reference was highly appropriate. In many ways, Take Back the Land is a direct heir of that bottom-up, Black self-empowerment, civil disobedient, movement-building tradition, and is one of the most inspiring examples of a group renewing and developing that tradition today.
A review of Defying The Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin “Rashid” Johnson Featuring Exchanges with an Outlaw
“Like the scene at my emergence from the womb, I fought like hell, defying the tomb.”
This work collects correspondence and articles by two politicized inmates incarcerated at the time in the Virginia state system, one of whom (Kevin “Rashid” Johnson), remains in Red Onion State Prison under extremely repressive conditions.
Uses of a Whirlwind is not your father's book on social movements, harping back to another time and another world, as so many works on radicalism are inclined to do. This essay collection offers valuable accounts and analyses of how contemporary movements are responding to the dizzying era of neoliberalism so many of us are continually trying to understand better. The Team Colors Collective declare up front that “our personal radicalizations came about through participation in strands of the alter-globalization movement at the tail end of the twentieth century.” Accordingly, the struggles and ideas in these writings reference such world-changing touchstones as the Zapatista rebellions in Mexico in 1994, the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999, the anti-war movement, and the recovery efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans. This is very much a book about the here and now.
by Kari Lydersen
Revolt on Goose Island is a blow by blow account of the occupation at the Republic Windows & Doors factory in December 2008, when the US economy rapidly collapsed and workers were being thrown out of their jobs by the hundreds of thousands. When the workers at the factory were told that they were being left without jobs suddenly and without any notice, they said, “Enough is enough” and fought for at least some severance money.
Lydersen does a pretty good job of bringing the story down to the real with emphasis on the people involved and with background on the situation, the company, Bank of America (who had cut the company off of financial credit shortly after taking billions of dollars in emergency taxpayer money through TARP), and the union. Lyderson does a great job emphasizing that the only reason the workers were able to pull off an occupation was because they had a strong, democratic, member-driven union in the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, a small progressive union of about 35,000 with a rich history of militant action.
(Anarchist Interventions) (Paperback) by Cindy Milstein
Review by James Generic
By Hans Bennett
By Hans Bennett
"When I was 15, my friends started going to jail," says Victoria Law, a native New Yorker. "Chinatown's gangs were recruiting in the high schools in Queens and, faced with the choice of stultifying days learning nothing in overcrowded classrooms or easy money, many of my friends had dropped out to join a gang."
"One by one," Law recalls, "they landed in Rikers Island, an entire island in New York City devoted to pretrial detainment for those who can not afford bail."
Law shares this and other recollections in her new book, Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press). At 16, she herself decided to join a gang, but was arrested for the armed robbery that she committed for her initiation into the gang. "Because it was my first arrest -- and probably because 16-year-old Chinese girls who get straight As in school did not seem particularly menacing -- I was eventually let off with probation," she writes.
--A Review of Forty Years in the Struggle; The Memoirs of a Jewish Anarchist, by Chaim Leib Weinberg; English Translation by Naomi Cohen; Edited by Robert Helms; Litwin Books, 2008.
The “Old City” neighborhood of Philadelphia is renowned for its many historic sites related to the “founding fathers” and the US colonial era. Yet, very few know about this same neighborhood’s significant anarchist history. Since 1997, local historian Robert Helms has led an “Anarchist Historical Walking Tour” that presents this history of resistance from the poor and working classes, who viewed the rhetoric about “American Democracy” as a fraud, and organized themselves to challenge the power of the ruling class. Helms is the editor of the just-released English translation of Chaim Leib Weinberg’s (1869-1939) autobiography: Forty Years in the Struggle; The Memoirs of a Jewish Anarchist.