Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Social movements, critique, and organizing mobilization

Laurence Cox on social movements and the case of Ireland (excerpt):

Movement organisations, for their part, now face substantial challenges. Is there a way back from dependence on funding? The much-discussed US book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded suggests that if there is, it lies in a shift from service delivery to advocacy and campaigning, linked to a principled decision for financial independence and self-funding. My own sense from talking to organisers over recent years is that this is now widely seen as common sense, but that it requires the development of skills which have not been in much demand in the years of funding proposals and policy submissions; and the willingness to endure an upheaval in internal relations as members, rather than professionals, come to take the lead in practice and not simply rhetorically.

[…]What critical political economy has lost, in its long engagement with the politics of ‘opinion’, is a willingness to reflect on agency – how a critique can come to acquire social and economic force – and to find ways of translating technical expertise into straightforward, strategic demands; key issues which can be widely understood and widely supported by those who do not have postgraduate degrees but nevertheless perceive themselves as losing out from the bailout and the cuts.

The key battle in this last respect, for several years now, has been the struggle in Rossport in the west of Ireland. At its simplest, we have a government minister, since imprisoned for corruption, handing over the keys to €540 billion of gas reserves to Shell and Statoil; the state under various governments backing this up with the deployment of the military and a police occupation whose overall conduct the police Ombudsman has been instructed not to investigate; and a right-wing hate campaign in the media against leading campaigners. We also have a remarkable alliance of social movements doing its very best under immense pressure to resist and transform this situation. Most recently, a recording of police discussing raping and deporting activists has highlighted realities which many people have preferred to ignore.

Rossport is not only the place where the actual economic choices made by the mainstream parties are most clearly visible, it is also a place which brings together local communities in struggle, key union issues, ecological concerns, an experience of police violence shared by many poor people on this island, majority world solidarity and, most recently, core feminist concerns. In the late 1970s, an alliance of mass movements stopped plans for nuclear power in Ireland at Carnsore Point in Wexford. If anywhere has the capacity to be the Carnsore Point of the 2010s – a place where the machinery of destruction and impoverishment can be stopped in its tracks, and where social movements can rally around the development of alternatives for Irish development – it is Rossport.

In order for this to happen, of course, movements and intellectuals have to throw off the ‘muck of ages’, or rather the office suits donned for the years of partnership. The desire to be on the inside, in line for funding and a seat at the table, dies hard – as does the intellectual desire to be a respectable dissenter. A respectable dissenter, in our contemporary usage, of course, is in the last analysis a member of the elite – one calling for a different direction, but making this call to other members of the elite. An effective organiser, by contrast, is one whose primary concern is to find issues around which ordinary people are willing to mobilise, around which effective alliances can be made, and which can offer the possibility of disrupting the polite and respectable world of meetings and policy papers.


Dignity, justice: direct democracy

Zodwa Nsibande, from a post on South Africa’s Abahlali baseMjondolo, a shack dwellers movement:

In our days being involved in the struggle for change is no longer as popular as it was before simply because many people believe that because we had got rid of the oppressive government everything is now ok. But freedom was never just a case of replacing a white government with a black government. It was a case of building a different kind of society – a society that put human beings at the centre, a society in which there would be decent homes, decent work, decent schools and decent health care for everyone. It was a case of building a participatory democracy in which everyone’s voice and life would count the same irregardless of whether they were a woman or a man, black or white, gay or straight or poor or rich. In fact it was a case of building a society where poverty would be ended.

Those who think that the time of struggle is over are forgetting that we are still living under a kind of apartheid but that in this apartheid the difference is the people are divided by class. The gap between those who have and those who don’t have is huge and it is getting worse. Those who say that we must be patient are forgetting that things are getting worse for the poor and not better.

And here is a look at Spain’s days of protests in May of 2011.

By Siân Ruddick:

Mass demonstrations and protest camps have mushroomed across Spain as the young and the unemployed say “enough”. As many as 40 percent of Spain’s 4.5 million unemployed are under 25.

The economic crisis has brought further austerity and attacks on workers and the poor. But now the people are fighting back.

Unemployment runs at 21% in the country, 45% for those who are 18 to 25 years old.

Sokari Ekine writes about Uganda and Africa:

Uprisings continue across the continent, with Uganda being the latest country where citizens have taken to the streets in protest against rising food and energy prices.

[…]The protests have met with a violent response from the government of Yoweri Museveni, with police firing live bullets at crowds, beatings and mass arrests.

[…]Ndumba Jonnah Kamwanyah in the Southern Africa FBP likens Museveni to Egypt’s Mubarak with the same mindset and the same relationship with the West:

‘Typical of a mindset of a dictator, President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 25 years, does not see the connection between the uprisings and his governing style. Instead his delusional mentality makes him see how indispensable he is to Uganda. Narcissistic is what he is, just like all dictators and autocratic leaders, and he does not care about what the Ugandan citizens think or want.’

Protest in Uganda

In Egypt, here’s a peek at May 20, Tahrir Square:

Hossam el-Hamalway in an interview:

The revolution was against the Mubarak regime but all we’ve managed to do so far is remove Mubarak himself. The ones running the country right now are Mubarak’s generals, who were the backbone of his dictatorship from day one.

[…]Attempts are already under way by middle-class activists to place limits on this revolution and ensure it remains only within the realm of formal political institutions.

[…]But the main part of any revolution has to be socio-economic emancipation for the citizens of a country; if you want to eliminate corruption or stop vote-buying then you have to give people decent salaries, make them aware of their rights and not leave them in dire economic need. A middle-class activist can return to his executive job after they think the revolution is over, but a public transport worker who has spent 20 years in service and is getting paid only 189 Egyptian pounds a month – you can’t ask this guy to go back to work and tell his starving kids at home that everything will be sorted out once we have a civilian government in the future.So this is phase two of the revolution, the phase of socio-economic change. What we need to do now is take Tahrir to the factories, the universities, the workplaces. In every single institution in this country there is a mini-Mubarak who needs to be overthrown. In every institution there are figures from the old state security regime who need to be overthrown. These guys are the counter-revolution.

And in Greece, according to Matthaois Tsimitakis:

The village of Keratea is a conservative and peaceful place, about an hour’s drive from Athens. When, a few months ago, the central government decided without consultation to create a garbage landfill destroying antiquities, polluting the environment and defying the European Commission’s rejection of the plan as unsustainable, Keratea erupted into violent confrontation with the police.

[…]The Keratea resistance is part of a series of low or higher intensity confrontations with the government, its preferred contractors and the repressive apparatus of state brought in to protect the corporations. Such local movements have spread all over the country for some time, defending public spaces against privatization (this has happened repeatedly in Athens where the last remaining green spots are consistently given over to construction companies), natural resources (the Canadian gold mining corporation TVX is facing a strong resistance movement in the North of the country), or protesting against the repeated corruption scandals.

Palestinian refugees marched to commemorate Nakba on May 15, the expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homes in today’s occupied Palestine and Israel.

Karma Nabulsi has this to say:

It was the moment for which we had all been holding our breath for decades – for 63 years to be precise. Palestinians everywhere watched the unfolding scene transfixed and awed. The camera followed the movements of a small group of people advancing from the mass of protesters. They were carefully making their way down a hill towards the high fence that closed off the mined field separating Syria from its own occupied territory of the Golan that borders historic Palestine, now Israel.

They were mostly young Palestinians, drawn from the 470,000-plus refugee community in Syria: from Yarmouk refugee camp inside Damascus, from Khan el-Sheikh camp outside it, from Deraa and Homs refugee camps in the south, from Palestinian gatherings all over the country.

Slowly, and in spite of the shouted warnings from the villagers from Majdal Shams about the lethal landmines installed by the Israeli military right up to the fence, these remarkable ordinary young people – Palestinian refugees – began to both climb and push at the fence. We were going home.

It was a profoundly revolutionary moment, for these hundreds of young people entering Majdal Shams last Sunday made public the private heart of every Palestinian citizen, who has lived each day since 1948 in the emergency crisis of a catastrophe. Waiting, and struggling, and organising for only two things: liberation and return.

[…]On Sunday, this moment of return was enacted simultaneously in Haifa and among Palestinians displaced inside Israel, on the borders of Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Gaza, in the West Bank near the Qalandia refugee camp – wherever the more than 7 million stateless Palestinian refugees now live, very near their original villages and towns. Just out of sight, over the hill, across the border.

Moe Ali Nayel writes:

things will not be the same as before 15 May. Just like after Muhammad Bouazizi, things are not the same as before he shook the Arab world. The Arab people, us, the Arab youth, we are not going to let the status quocontinue, we are not going to be humiliated by our own people anymore. We are not going to let Palestine and the Palestinian people be humiliated and tortured every time they breathe.

We are freedom-loving people and we won’t live anymore on empty promises from our corrupt governments who use Palestine as a pretext to repress us while they enjoy stealing from our pockets. We won’t let them continue to make sure Israel is safe and sound, enjoying the beautiful land of Palestine, while hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees live in inhumane conditions in the camps.

In Portugal, on March 12 ” Upwards of 300,000 people took to the streets in Lisbon and other Portuguese cities on Saturday to protest job insecurity…”

In the UK, there have been cuts to education, health care and social spending after providing massive ‘bailouts’ to financial institutions that continue to pull in enormous profits. This has resulted in direct action, protests, and occupations of universities.

From We are the Third Force by S’bu Zikode of Abahlali baseMjondolo:

The community has realised that voting for parties has not brought any change to us.

[…]For us time has been a very good teacher. People have realised so many things. We have learnt from the past – we have suffered alone. That pain and suffering has taught us a lot. We have begun to realise that we are not supposed to be living under these conditions.

And here’s a little song courtesy of Nina Simone:

Putt putt

As has become obvious, my writing here is currently sporadic compared with the nearly daily updates I used to have. I’ve been preparing for a trip for a month of intensive study in philosophy. It’s now nearly time for me to enter into this month-long immersion, so, my apologies that the old pace of writing will not resume until September. Though I hope that at least what I do put up in the meantime can be quality.

Categories: Uncategorized

Iran’s post-election political activity

I have not had any posts here for a few days. This is because of events in Iran, I’m writing several updates an hour on political events in Iran at My apologies for the momentary pause here. You can follow my writing on Iran here:

Categories: Uncategorized

News in Brief: 15 September 2008

September 15, 2008 Leave a comment

A brief list of news for the day:

Banking crisis: Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy protection. Heralding a tumultuous day in the financial markets, Lehman announced at around 5.30am BST that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, making it the biggest victim so far of the credit crunch and sub-prime crisis. (Guardian)

Bank of America agrees to buy Merrill Lynch. On a day that saw Wall Street chieftains and U.S. officials scrambling to shore up the financial system, Bank of America Corp. on Sunday swooped in to buy brokerage and investment banking giant Merrill Lynch, only hours after officially dropping out of the race to buy battered Lehman Brothers. (McClatchy)

Afghanistan Is in Its Worst Shape Since 2001, European Diplomat Says. One of the most experienced Western envoys in Afghanistan said Sunday that conditions there had become the worst since 2001. (New York Times)

Pakistani tribes vow reprisal for U.S. missile attacks. Leaders in tribal borderland threaten to send fighters to battle U.S. in Afghanistan if strikes don’t stop. (Globe and Mail)

Taliban suicide bomber kills two Afghan UN doctors. KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: A suicide car bomb claimed by the Taliban killed two Afghan doctors and a driver working for the United Nations on Sunday, the UN said, a day after a provincial governor was assassination by a remote-controlled bomb. (The Daily Star)

NATO Envoys Will Offer Their Support in Georgia. Defying strong opposition from Russia, NATO’s 26 ambassadors will begin a two-day visit to Georgia on Monday in a move by the American-led military alliance aimed at showing support for the Georgian government. (New York Times)

Abbas aims to stay in office until 2010. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview published on Sunday he will remain in office until 2010, a decision likely to stoke tensions with Hamas rivals who oppose his peace talks with Israel. (Today’s Zaman)

Categories: Uncategorized


August 30, 2007 Leave a comment

Thursday’s posts and news briefs will likely be delayed until after 15:00 Eastern Standard Time.

I’ve been up until morning researching and writing a piece on the modernization of India’s military and strategic partnership with the U.S., and I have to go to a series of work meetings during the day.

This is the price of socialising the night before!

Why not browse through the 599 existing posts?

Categories: Uncategorized

The Science of Team Success

Below is an excerpt from Steve W. J. Kozlowski and Daniel R. Ilgen’s article in the Scientific American Mind:

A growing body of research shows that groups can systematically enhance their performance.

Human history is largely the story of people working together in groups to explore, achieve and conquer—and in our modern world the role of teams is only growing, spurred by globalization and the enabling factor of communications technology.

… We recently reviewed the past 50 years of research literature on teams and identified factors that characterize the best collaborations. It turns out that what team members think, feel and do provide strong predictors of team success—and these factors also suggest ways to design, train and lead teams to help them work even better.

Read the complete text >>

Categories: Uncategorized
%d bloggers like this: