From Kobane to Paris, the global struggles for justice, democracy and freedom made headlines across the world. Here are some of the highlights of 2015.
Toni Negri: from the refusal of labor to the seizure of power
We have understood the question of power for too long in an excessively negative manner. Now we can reinterpret the question of power in terms of multitudes, in terms of absolute democracy — that is to say, in terms of a democracy that goes beyond canonical institutional forms such as monarchy, aristocracy and “democracy.” I believe that today the problem of democracy is best formulated and addressed in terms of the multitude.
The nobodies have lost their best chronicler
Eduardo was a simple man, committed to the common people, to the nobodies, to the oppressed. His loyalty lay with the people of flesh and bones, with the men and women who live and suffer. It was a loyalty much deeper than ideological attachment, which can always change depending on the interests of the moment. The pains from below, he taught us, cannot be negotiated, nor can they be represented. They cannot even be explained even by the best writer. And the same goes for their hopes.
David Harvey: reclaiming the city from Kobane to Baltimore
One of the things that often happens with disasters is that new things come out of them. These new things can be very, very significant. I think the reason why disaster produces something new is because the typical bourgeois power structure disappears, and the ruling classes are unable to govern. That creates a situation where people can start to govern themselves outside of those traditional power structures.
Murray Bookchin and the Kurdish resistance
By merely placing instances of radical organization on a pedestal, as a beacon of hope to be revered when times get rough, our support for these struggles is often not very different from the support we display when we cheer on our favorite football team on TV. The Zapatistas in the jungles of Chiapas and the Kurds on the Mesopotamian plains have come a long way by relying on nothing but their own strength and determination. Their relative isolation has allowed for the development of their radical alternatives, but for these experiments to survive in the long run they need more than supporters and sympathizers. They need partners.
Greece needs a Plan C: for the commons and communal solidarity
Deal or no deal, euro or no euro, one thing is clear: a long fight still lies ahead. As the creditors’ assault intensifies, only a reinvigoration of the struggle from below can save beleaguered Greece — and turn it, once again, into a proud beacon of democracy and solidarity for the rest of the world.
US Empire: drone strikes, torture and prison industries
In essence, torture and abuse need to be understood in the broader context of systemic violence sanctioned by an imperialist state. Torture as an instrument of empire amalgamates the images of the “other” with institutionalized racial violence as an extension of wars for neoliberal expansion. Such violence is not an exceptional or isolated instance, it is a systemic tool deeply embedded in hegemonic structures and the cultural psyche that manufacture discourses on terrorism and just war.
Don’t make refugees pay for the terror they’re fleeing
The vast majority of refugees who have been arriving on Europe’s shores these past months are people fleeing from exactly the type of murderous violence that has now struck at the heart of the continent, and that already struck countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Russia before. Instead of setting us apart with ever higher walls and fences, Friday’s attacks should bring us closer to the victims of terror everywhere; Islamist terror as much as state and imperialist terror.
A politics of fear: the EU’s desperate bid to stop refugees
Millions of destroyed lives are being used as leverage in a political ploy that only serves to keep the status quo intact. An aspiring dictator is being groomed as savior while European leaders keep their eyes shut to the daily human rights violations, their ears closed to the cries for justice from a people in distress, and their lips sealed to prevent anyone from speaking up, in case the wrong word or a misplaced sentence rouses the Sultan’s anger.
From Chiapas to Rojava: seas divide us, autonomy binds us
A world without capitalism, hierarchy, domination and environmental destruction — or as the Zapatistas would say, a world in which many worlds are possible — has often been depicted as “utopian” and “unrealistic.” Yet this world is not some future mirage that comes to us from the books: it is already being constructed by the Zapatistas and the Kurds, allowing us to re-imagine what radical social change looks like and providing a possible model for our own struggles back home.
The poor fetish: the commodification of working class culture
The ‘street food revolution’ was not a revolution but a middle-class realization that they could abandon their faux bourgeois restaurants and reach down the socioeconomic ladder instead of up. Markets that once sold fruit and vegetables for a pound a bowl to working class and immigrant communities became venues that commodified and sold the culture of their former clientèle.
Precarity in Paradise: the Barcelona model
The city elite have an aggressive, ambitious vision for Barcelona that would spell increasing precarity and the death of all that many inhabitants love. If people only react with a simple affirmation or negation of this plan, there is no hope for anything but slowing down the inevitable. But radical social movements have their own models for resistance and transformation. Barcelona can offer the rich example of experiences with plaza occupations, neighborhood assemblies, general strikes, and battles with police that have halted evictions or gentrification projects.
Source URL — https://roarmag.org/2015/12/31/roar-2015-must-read-selection/