DO US soldiers know what they sign up for? Horror? Mass murder? Burn pits? PTSD. Disability. Homelessness. Viagra.

It was a crass thing for Trump to say to a recent war widow, but of course it’s also fundamentally said in praise of brave men. They knew what they signed up for. But do American soldiers know what they sign up for? Not just the risk, but the horror and culpability? Did Trump voters know what they signed up for? I’ll put it to you they did not.

Denver judge rules BEING HOMELESS IS IRRELEVANT to defendants charged with violating city’s urban camping ban

DHOL defendants with attorney Jason Flores-Williams
DENVER, COLORADO- A hearing was held today to review motions submitted before the criminal trial of three homeless activists arrested last November for violating Denver’s Urban Camping Ban. Terese Howard, Jerry Burton, and Randy Russel featured in the infamous 2016 video that showed Denver police officers confiscating their sleeping bags and blankets on the snowy steps of city hall. Through attorney Jason Flores-Williams, fellow Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) activists have filed a civil lawsuit to halt the city’s homeless sweeps. In municipal court DHOL hopes to challenge the ordinance being used to harass, displace and imprison the downtown homeless. Already the city’s case appears to be derailing based on developments at the motions hearing. Denver municipal court judge Kerri Lombardi approved all the city’s motions and none for the defense. Lombardi approved the use of 404B evidence for the city, but simultaneously restricted Res Gestae evidence for the defense. In particular, she refused to qualify two experts on homelessness, precluding the accused from arguing a “necessity defense”. Judge Lombardi stated that being homeless was irrelevant to whether they were violating the urban camping ban. When asked to recuse herself, the judge declined, so attorney Flores-Williams declared his intent to file an interlocutory appeal to bump the case to district court. Meanwhile speedy trial was waived and a new court date was set for April 5th.

DHOL’s 2/17 press release:

Yesterday there was a dispositive motions hearing in the Camping Ban criminal cases where homeless and poor people are being charged with crimes for sleeping on the streets with blankets and shelter in Winter. The hearing was noteworthy for the bias and prejudice shown toward Defendants by the Court.

1) At the start of the hearing, prior to any argument, the Judge looked at Defense counsel and said: “The one thing I don’t want is any drama from you, Mr. Flores-Williams.” Defense counsel had never practiced in this court.

2) Without allowing any substantive legal argument, the Court ruled that it was permissible for theProsecution to file a 34-person witness list eight days after the court’s deadline and only two weeks prior to trial.

3) The Court then Excluded all of Defense’s expert witnesses without hearing or testimony, saying that “Homelessness has nothing to do with this case.”

4) The Court then ordered Defense counsel to limit all arguments so that no argument or line of questioning could be construed at trial as an attempt to persuade the jury that the Camping Ban ordinance is itself unjust.

5) At this juncture, defense counsel cited to Fed R. 37(c)and its CO equivalent concerning the prejudice resulting from late disclosure of witnesses. No court response. Defense counsel then quoted from sections from Chambers v. Mississippi, a landmark 1973 civil rights case concerned with due process in which the overall prejudice to defendants becomes so cumulative and egregious that defendants fair trial rights are eviscerated. No response.

6) The Court then took up a Motion from the prosecution that does not exist. A “Res Gestae/404(b) Motion” that wrongfully conflates two different types of evidentiary concepts and underlying analyses. Res Gestae is concerned with the natural narrative of a case. Example: someone robs a liquor store, the fact that they stopped at two bars and to pick up their weapon on the way to the robbery. 404(b)has to do with a very specific set of factors that a defendant leaves at various crime scenes as identifiers. Not to be rude, but the classic example is when serial killer leaves identifiers at numerous crime scenes showing his m.o. The court conflated these two very different legal concepts and construed the “Res Gestae/404b” motion as allowing the prosecution to offer proof of Defendants’ mental states, but not the fact that defendants were homeless. (If this seems like 2+2=5, Wintston, they are….)(The court also disregarded that the motion was filed late and that it was amended without leave of court.)

7) Defense counsel then objected to the fact that the court had asked the prosecution for their jury instructions without asking defense for their jury instructions, and now was reverse injuring the court’s ruling from the prosecutions jury instructions. Objection overruled.

8) Defense counsel made oral motion for the judge to recuse, i.e. that he Judge take herself off the case for bias against defendants. Denied.

9) Defense counsel cited to several cases concerning due process rights, wrongful exclusion of defense witnesses, and the right to fairly address criminal accusations. No response.

10) Defense requested findings of law and fact – none given.

11) Defense counsel asked for a stay of the proceeding to file an interlocutory appeal regarding the court’s rulings.

12) Court stated that interlocutory orders cannot be appealed from municipal court so that none of the court’s decisions are reviewable.

13) Court ruled that the prosecution’s disclosure of 95 police body cameras three days prior to the hearing was permissible, then scolded defense for not reviewing the 95 videos prior to hearing. Defense counsel, concerned that the court would issue sanctions if he responded, had no comment.

We are now seeking an interlocutory appeal of the Court’s rulings.

The trial is scheduled for April 5th, 2017. Mark your calendar.

Modern Nat Turner insures Dallas cops cannot assail Black lives with impunity

Chris DornerWas ANYBODY going to stop the unfettered lynching of people of color in America? Did President Obama ever deliver anything more than a eulogy? Few police officers are being convicted or even indicted. Videotaped killings of black men by lawmen have become so common, those disseminating the videos are being accused of harboring fetishes. People expressing offense online are being shamed for being clicktivists, though clearly the only fuels firing public outrage are the videos. Meanwhile Black Lives Matter spokespeople have become so jaded they ridicule the efficacy of street protests. And now everyone is condemning the lone direct action taker.

The killing of any human being is terrible, but the retaliatory killings of police in Dallas could have been prevented. Not by expecting minority communities to stomach further and unending extrajudicial assassinations, but by having police curb their racism and use of lethal force. Or of course by disbanding militarized police departments. Public officials can’t even broach that conversation. Do we expect the police state to dismantle itself?

Self-styled black revolutionary Micah Xavier Johnson, a typical PTSD-hardened Afghan vet, put “suicide by cop” to the service of his embattled community and avenged the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. He didn’t shoot their actual killers, but he didn’t hit innocents either. Johnson targeted America’s systemic enforcers of inequity, hitting twelve police officers, five of whom have now died.

Let’s note those cops weren’t “protecting the first amendment rights” of a spontaneous protest of the Sterling and Castile murders, but were harassing and detering demonstrations. The officers could have chosen not to, and hopefully, their comrades in other cities, molesting other legal assemblies, may now choose to stand down, because now authoritarian bullying has come in the line of fire.

There is poetic justice for those who would decry “Blue Lives Matter”. If they’re going to pretend it, let them feel the oppressive threat of violence which black lives bear. For one evening, in a small corner of Dallas, Texas, police brutality faced a comeuppance.

For now Johnson’s act is being condemned as an atrocity, as a massacre even, though obviously his victims 1) met every standard of belligerent adversary, 2) were armed, and 3) outnumbered him. Let’s concede that Johnson is a credit to his military training. He confirms how our soldiers could so murderously rapage through our war zones against lesser equipped combatants. Johnson’s motive echoes that which provoked US atrocities overseas, seeking revenge against civilians, exacting collective punishment for deadly IEDs.

If we acknowledge the violence with which African Americans are oppressed, and the mendacity of its apologists and enablers, can we condemn violent resistance? International law accords oppressed peoples the human right to resist.

Slave rebellion leader Nat Turner is recognized today as a hero, but was exhaustively vilified in his day because he killed slave owners, indescriminate of old or young. Whites retaliated and killed many more blacks. More violence follwed from abolitionsists and Jayhawkers, all of it lamentable. But slavery didn’t end because we willed it.

Because this era’s history is written with erasers, our victors’ primary tool, Micah Johnson will probably never be praised for heroism.

Johnson will join fellow effaced cop-killer Christopher Dorner. A previous African American reservist vet who was immolated alive, killed instead of being apprehended, lest an investigation benefit from his testimony about why he could no longer bear LAPD corruption in 2013.

From Dorner’s “manifesto”, before Michael Brown, Ferguson and Baltimore:

“Those Caucasian officers who join South Bureau divisions (77th,SW,SE, an Harbor) with the sole intent to victimize minorities who are uneducated, and unaware of criminal law, civil law, and civil rights. You prefer the South bureau because a use of force/deadly force is likely and the individual you use UOF on will likely not report it. You are a high value target.

“Those Black officers in supervisory ranks and pay grades who stay in south bureau (even though you live in the valley or OC) for the sole intent of getting retribution toward subordinate caucasian officers for the pain and hostile work environment their elders inflicted on you as probationers (P-1?s) and novice P-2’s. You are a high value target.

You perpetuated the cycle of racism in the department as well. You breed a new generation of bigoted caucasian officer when you belittle them and treat them unfairly.

Mikah Johnson’s last words we only know through the spin of Dallas police, the same people who decided not to wait him out, nor to smoke him or gas him out from hiding in a public parking garage, but instead to send a robot with a bomb and M.O.V.E. his ass like every other black nationalist revolutionary.

No, you murdurous assholes, Johnson didn’t “want to kill all white people.” He wanted to kill white cops. Just like Dorner, he wasn’t a threat to the public, he was a threat to the police state. You cops ensured Mikah Johnson didn’t live to dictate “confessions” and you even obliterated his body like Osama bin Laden. Drawn and quartered essentially, to preclude memorializers being able to center on an idol to build a resistance.

You and I may grapple with what to think of Johnson’s personal rampage, but the state knew immediately his was the selfless heroism they fear most. As with bin Laden, they knew his apprehension must be terminal.

Lest I be misunderstood, I do not promote armed insurrection, sedition or murder. I cannot. But I will not condemn Micah Johnson.

I need not agrandize him either. Taken without his revolutionary ideology, Johnson was an ordinary mentally wounded veteran like many others. Homicidal vets with PTSD are at the core of our epidemic of police brutality. Our law enforcement teams are full of OIF and OEF soldiers who got their start shooting up cars at checkpoints and acting out racist genocide to their heart’s content.

It’s not a new problem, the US has always had active warzones feeding veterans into homelessness for those who couldn’t cope and filling government jobs for those who thrived. Beside policemanship, a very common job for discharged soldiers has always been the post office. Rembember the rampaging gunman problem we used to call “going postal?”

America’s racism problem may be transcended by a succession of church services, but class struggle is not a hearts and minds operation. Fascist rule and its army of the rich are not going to be wished away by militant nonviolence. That’s as likely as counting on the tooth fairy.

Worrying that acts like Johnson’s will provoke increased authoritarian repression is an expression of privilege provided by someone aclimated to a tolerable status quo, clearly a white perspective for whom black lives matter not enough.

Until all of us share the plight of the average Syrian refugee, trapped in our capitalist frontier war zones, none of us are shouldering an equitable burden of the police state.

That’s why it is more than black lives that matter. The middle class greivances of Occupy Wall Street are only a class removed from Black America’s suffering. We’re still talking about privileged Americans who support a grander racism that drives our global exploitation of all peoples.

I don’t have any faith that an arc of history bends toward justice in this corporate dark age. For my own sense of what’s right, it’s important to recognize Micah Johnson and Christopher Dorner for who they were, flawed, maybe very minor, aspiring Nat Turners, who wanted to strike against today’s slave masters and their brutal blue foremen.

Denver Homeless Out Loudest Ray Lyall


Here’s a better picture of Denver Homeless Out Loud activist Ray Lyall and colleague, with the usual Denver protest entourage. Ray Lyall was found guilty of trespass last week, like his cohort DJ Razee before him. The two were among nine DHOL members arrested defending Tiny Houses on October 25, ten if you include a follow-up action, but Ray and DJ are the only cases to come to trial. Four more are scheduled soon: April 20, May 9 & 10, and June 1.

You might well ask, what of the remaining four? They PLED GUILTY.

It is customary not to condemn another’s self-preservation needs, but let’s be honest, taking the plea deal does hurt everybody. Pleading guilty implicates your co-defendants, validates the police probable cause, and sacrifices the opportunity for which arrest and detainment were the ante.

Ray Lyall took his case to trial, compelled five police officers and a Denver Housing Authority to take the stand, opportuned an eloquent lawyer to speak about homelessness and the bigger picture, tied up a municipal courtroom profit center for two days, and was sentenced to peanuts: one year probation plus community service. Probation is essentially what’s been on offer for plea deals, so Ray risked only being found not guilty.

DJ’s sentence admittedly was not peanuts, it included jail time. The judge declared she would rather have imposed probation, but DJ knew probation would hinder his options as a street activist. DJ stipulated jail so that afterward he’d be free to protest without the spector of a deferred sentence weighing upon him.

Plea deals have shaped a lamentable pattern for Denver activists. Owing to inadequate legal representation or financial hardship, many political arrestees have been tempted by offers of deferred prosecution or deferred sentencing which have necessitated their abstention from further protest. Some who have continued to participate in demonstrations have been in the awkward position of encouraging others to do what they could no longer risk, perpetuating the cycle of arrests and plea deal emasculation.

The Denver activist community has some serial plea dealers, who always take pleas and ensnare newbies with them every cycle. As a result, fresh activists become burned out and regular police oppression is emboldened.

The irony of course is that the vast majority of Denver protest arrests have been violations of civil liberties. It will only stop when the police are challenged and sued. Obstruction, interference, failure to obey, resisting, trespass, disturbing the peace etc, are the habitual pretexts which Denver police have been using to curb street protest. Even the felony charge of assault of a police officer has been succesfully used to scare activists into taking pleas. Usually such “assaults” were simply collisions or confrontations where police officers were the actual assailants.

Not everyone is in a position to fight their charges to the bitter end, but asserting the illegitimacy of political arrests is critical to bringing Denver police to heel.

If you are going to plead guilty because you don’t think you have the right to march in the street or to ignore unconstitutional orders or to defy unjust laws, DON’T DO IT. Spare the rest of us the bad example of capitulating to wrongful authority.

The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs, in a Nutshell.

JesusGET THIS. I heard a reverend-person yesterday lecturing newish activists about their need for nonviolence training, which she was volunteering to lead. She was also offering rubber wristbands for her graduates to wear at demonstrations, so that police could differentiate between protesters. She told us she’d ask officers to scrutinize those not wearing bands as being the potential troublemakers. This, she assured everyone, would make it more difficult for outside groups to waylay the action. I kid you not. And she’s a church leader praised locally as something of an activist! HA! That’s a RAT!

I recognized the Springs “outsider” buggaboo so I thought I’d relate where it came from in a little piece I’ll call The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs. Ready? It won’t take long.

So what violence have I seen in my fairly full-time participation over a dozen years, multiple wars and as many elections? ZERO. That’s right. I’ve seen a lot of brutal handling by police, but by the hands of protesters? Nothing.

Yep. The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs. The End.

For as much as local church leaders harp on nonviolence training, which includes, by the way, nonviolence bounderies that forbid even confrontational speech, you’d think they’d seen a need for it. They haven’t. For EVERY preacher and or disciple regurgitating nonviolence edicts, I’ve never seen ONE counterpart advocate for, nor commit, violence. It’s almost a laugh, if the practice wasn’t so damaging to public demonstrations. Colorado Springs street protests have been defanged to nothing, police needn’t bother to show up and they don’t. As a result, neither do protesters.

And it isn’t just that nonviolence dogma declaws the public beast. Religifying activism alienates intellectuals and atheists who woud prefer not to suffer the foolish god-justified claptrap. Monotheism is the engine which has always perpetuated privilege, enslavement, colonization and capitalism. Wtf.

Not satisfied to deputize citizens with the equivalent of TSA pre-boarding approval, clergy want to deprive their charges of the element of surprise. The Springs antiwar community keeps direct contact with law enforcement. I’m guessing protestations, if any, are now simply phoned in.

I JUST WANT TO PUNCH these nonviolence religion freaks for mutilating the impetus of budding activists. A newcomer’s anger is what drew them to protest in the first place. Of course as ministers that is their function. Social injustice is job security to church employees. They are about as likely to remedy inequity as the Pope. Sermons aim to temper their sheep’s natural anger at injustice. But enough about those assholes.

No matter the issue, antiwar, the environment, racism, homelessness, in Colorado Springs I’ve seen absolutely no public demonstration escalate to violence. Why then the ready queue of spiritual nuts so eager to innoculate every next wave of concerned citizen before they can even take to the street? It goes back to something that happened at an antiwar demonstration in 2003, although the lesson being drawn is not based on what really happened. That’s the bugaboo.

Palmer Park, 2003
In 2003 George W. Bush was about to initiate an illegal war against Iraq and public demonstrations were coordinated across the globe. In Colorado Springs nearly 2,000 people assembled in Palmer Park along Academy Boulevard. The Springs rally looked to eclipse the antiwar events planned in Denver, so some people came from Denver, or so it’s believed. In reality, the Springs antiwar community had an average age of 75 and hadn’t seen new faces for decades. The sight of younger participants led many to believe they were from elsewhere. Plus some of the younger protesters wore black, so word spread they were Anarchists. Scary.

For the usual reasons, the CSPD decided to close Academy Boulevard. When rally-goers realized their protest wasn’t being seen because motorists were no longer driving by, some decided to lead the crowds southward toward an intersection where traffic was still passing. Being that Academy Boulevard was cleared of cars, the most obvious route was on the street. There was no sidewalk and the park was congested with the parked cars of the attendees. No matter. The police formed a line and ordered the marchers back.

The police began to spray tear gas as the protesters retreated. Clouds of gas enveloped the crowds as they dispersed and struggled to get in their cars. The cars were gased with families and small children inside them, unable to drive away.

Across the globe that day, only two cities used tear gas against their antiwar protests: Athens and Colorado Springs. That’s how old timers like to tell the story. They’ll add that the police crackdown was prompted by unruly outsiders being violent with police. By which they mean, refusing to get off the street. Being assertive of one’s rights somehow became translated to mean impermissively violent.

Had these Emily Posts ever seen the footage of Selma?! These nonviolence sticklers are MLK idolators, yet just like Selma’s whites, they blame the victim.


Palmer Park, 2003

Protests in Colorado Springs immediately diminished in popularity and never again drew large numbers. Apparently when organizers called their members the apprehension was always “will it be safe?”

And so from that day, nuns and other clergy met regularly with Colorado Springs police to talk to them about protest plans, lest CSPD be surprised and overreact. That hasn’t stopped police from dragging us across streets or assaulting us in parking lots or on sidewalks. Oh to have merited it even once!

NOTE: I have omitted a couple of insider details about the 2003 rally because I wanted to relate the experience of the average participant. Yes, the event was advertized statewide and drew opponents of Bush’s war from along the Front Range. And yes, there was a strategy among frontline protesters to try to block an intersection. Most attendees didn’t know either of these facts. The local peace community was so insular that all new faces were looked upon as interlopers. But my point remains, there was no violence. Our freedom to assemble, wherever two thousand people need to go, is not abriged by congress nor by traffic laws. Rebuffing law enforcement’s attempt to disrespect civil liberties by standing, walking, sitting, or shouting, is not violence.

St Patricks Day, 2007

Nonviolently submitting to state violence is supposed to move onlookers to empathy. In 2007, was the Colorado Springs public moved by the police brutalization of nonviolent 70-yr-old Elizabeth Fineron, who later died of complications of her injuries? No, they cheered the police.

Sacrificing yourself may work in democracies with an empowered populace, but against fascism, as against the Mongols or Manifest Destiny, it’s abrogation of responsibility and suicide.

Nonviolence
Incorporating the dogma of “nonviolence” into what would otherwise be straightforward protest becomes problematic when nonviolence folks want to differentiate themselves. Those who are “othered” are then presumed to be planning violence. That’s a very serious charge. Inciting a riot is a crime. Plotting to overthrow a democracy is sedition.

Non-nonviolence does not equal intending-violence. For example, I do not advocate violence, I advocate solidarity.

I do not oppose people asking for NV training, or undertaking it, though I would prefer that nonviolence wasn’t marketed to newcomers who wouldn’t have thought to have needed it.

Why should “nonviolence” even have to come up, for example, at a discussion about a SIT-IN? Agreeing to sit is already a gesture which has capitulated the option to resist. A crowd can’t charge from the seated position. You can’t even defend yourself. The nonviolence is inherent.

Religious NV training is really about nonviolent communication, a whole other can of rotten worms. There is no evidence that Gandhi, MLK or the Flint factory sit-ins practiced that aberration.

If the challenge is to show public opposition to the sit-lie ordinance because it further oppresses the homeless, public energies need not be exhausted by habitually passive religious leaders and their idea of what direct action needs to be.

Yes, the anticipation of the supremacy of nonviolence over state violence is a religious expectation. Against fascism you’re asking for a miracle.

If preachers were activists they would lead their flocks into the street. Circulating among activists, those church leaders are opportunistic missionaries, looking for recruits among the disenchanted.

To be earnestly inclusive of faiths and non-faiths, leave you diety at home. Show respect for the “others” who don’t need the voodoo rationalizations you require to muster moral courage.

Denver jury convicts homeless man of trespassing on their yuppy lifestyle. DJ Razee’s tiny house idea was too big.

Delbert J. Razee
DENVER, COLORADO- In the witness stand Delbert “DJ” Razee spoke eloquently about the Tiny House movement and Resurrection Village, a local experiment sponsored by advocates Denver Homeless Out Loud to suggest one remedy for the house-less of Colorado. Razee’s lawyer Frank Ingham made fools of the Denver Housing Authority stooge and four police officers who testified against the chronically homeless English Lit grad. Razee was charged with trespass on public land, on an empty city block which was supposed to have been used for affordable housing. Razee was among ten homeless activists arrested one night in November for refusing to vacate several very small structures they’d erected on property which the DHA was converting from a community garden to gentrified condos. After two days of trial, a jury of well-housed peers found Razee guilty, lest others of his untouchable caste darken their doorsteps or the vacant lots near them. On Thursday March 3rd at 8:30am DJ Razee reports to Judge Beth Faragher for sentencing.

It was an amazing trial. While his compatriots sought continuances or plea deals, DJ held his ground and never waived speedy trial. DJ was impatient to put the Denver Housing Authority on the stand. Their representative Ryan Tobin blew off a February 3rd subpoena, but when DJ’s lawyer Frank Ingham cross-examined Tobin on the 22nd, Tobin incriminated himself more than Razee. Ryan Tobin was the DHA goon who pressed charges against the activists for trespassing on the public lot opposite his $650K home. Tobin also sought a protection order against one of the activists, which restrained that person from approaching not just Tobin but the entire public lot. Can one do that? The protection order didn’t come up at DJ’s trial.

DHA
The DHA is a quasi-municipal entity which handles city property meant to accomodate lower income residents. The DHA is Denver’s second largest property owner. The city blocks at 26th and Lawrence used to be low income housing but have been razed for years. More recently a portion was used for a community garden but the DHA was evicting the urban farmers to sell the block to a high rise developer.

The logic offered was that DHA could use the proceeds of land speculation to build more affordable housing elsewhere. That strategy might impress business people but it’s clearly absurd. Instead of being a counterbalance to gentrification, this housing authority thinks its role is to be a tool for displacement.

Tobin’s testimony will benefit all the Tiny House defendants, depending on their juries. DJ is only the first of the arrestees to be brought to trial. Tobin admitted he had never clearly expressed who had the authority to issue a trespass order. Tobin also couldn’t say who precisely was present when he made his initial announcement to the group, although he claimed it was “everyone”. This was a chief contention of the city attorneys.

How about an sidebar for activists, as a sort of debrief:

On Tobin’s first visit, someone among the activists called EVERYONE together to listen to his announcement, austensibly to have a dialog. As a matter of practice this was regretable. First, because the action was already underway and there was no expectation that dialog could or should redirect the action. Second, it presented exactly what an authority issuing a formal notice needed: everyone in one place to BE GIVEN NOTICE.

Two, the city prosecutors used a video recording of the event, made by the activists themselves, to prove that the trespassers had received notice. While the taped discussion was not so clear, and the many subsequent announcements over police bullhorns were garbled, it didn’t help that the videographer offered narration to make what was being said explicit to viewers and bystanders. Offering, for example: “so basically we’ve been given notice that if we don’t leave the cops will come to arrest us.” Which alas is the confirmation prosecutors need that lawful orders were understood.

Although the city sought to incriminate Razee with the video, the footage provided wonderful context for the larger issue, the paradox faced by the homeless, had the jury been receptive. It also captured Ryan Tobin’s cavalier attitude about housing inequities. When he was asked by the group “Move along to where?” Tobin made this thoughtless suggestion: “Where did you come from?” Boos from his audience at the scene were echoed by the viewers in the courtroom.

Ryan Tobin couldn’t identify DJ at all, neither that he’d given DJ notice to leave, nor that he’d ever seen DJ before in his life. DJ described Tobin’s failure to recognize him in a FB post:

For six weeks, from October 23rd until December 9th, I shoveled the walks, carted away the trash, and resided at Resurrection Village at the same location as Sustainability Park, and Ryan Tobin who lives directly across the street from the property, testified that he has never seen my face. Of course, he hadn’t- I am one of the invisible people who is a criminal in the eyes of the housed, and the law.

DPD
The testimony of four DPD officers was also self-damning. Neither commander, nor lieutenants, nor arresting officer could fully justify why they deployed in combat gear. Even the jurors were set back by the militarized atmosphere, the helicopter overhead, and the overabundance of cops for a TRESPASS INFRACTION. About the helicopter, a lieutenant claimed she called in a mere “fly-by” but police video proved it hovered for nearly an hour.

One amusing aspect for many of us in the audience, was how the DPD witnesses would always refer to the offending activists as “Occupiers”. Denver Homeless Out Loud, in its need to gain cooperation with civic and law enforcement entities, takes great pains to distance itself from its roots in Occupy Denver. At any demonstration in Denver, an “Occupy” presence, usually merely the familiar OD faces, always means an escalated police escort and unseen armored-up reserves. While it may have been inaccurate to label the Tiny House trespassers as occupiers, it’s true that when protesters are holding their ground in Denver, refusing police orders, they are occupying. Like the Black Bloc, it’s not a who, it’s a tactic.

Attending the trials of activists is worth it if only to hear the testimony of the police. You learn what they’re trained to do, what their objectives are, and what they think you’re doing. Most officers, even commanders, think we need a permit to demonstrate. HA!

The first four witnesses could not place DJ at the scene, but the arresting officer finally fingered the accused. Asked if he could identify DJ, he pointed to the defendant’s table and described DJ’s courtroom attire for the record. You have to wonder if police witnesses look to the defendant’s chair by default, without regard to what they remember. How could they remember so many arrestees, months after the incident? I’m guessing that anyone sitting in DJ’s seat would have been ID’d as DJ.

I pose this question because of how DJ’s arresting officer was allowed to identify DJ on the crime scene video. Instead of letting the video play through and asking the officer if DJ appeared on the video and where, DJ’s prosecutors froze the video when the camera lingered on DJ and then asked the officer to ID him. The defense counsel objected vehemently and when overruled he motioned for a mistrial. So the judge reconsidered and granted Ingham’s motion. She then asked the jury to disregard the officer’s response and she made the prosecutor play the video again without prompting the officer, even though of course now he knew at which frame DJ appeared.

The jury
The entire trial was so farcical and so mercenary considering the inconsequence of the charge, that audience members were certain the jury was empathic to DJ and the victimization of Denver’s homeless. Nope. We knew from Voir Dire that the jury included an entrepreneur, a trader, and an inheritance consultant. All but one of the NPR listeners had been eliminated but we hoped she’d be a holdout. It was not to be. When the jury emerged with its verdict, the foreman carrying the written decision was the fratboy day trader.

Fratboy had been the juror submitting written questions to supplement what neither attorney had asked. We knew from the bent of his inquiries that he was playing a role that defense attorneys fear, a self-deputized investigator for the prosecutor, filling in the gaps of the testimony, seeking, if even unconsciously, to eliminate the “reasonable doubt” which is supposed to remain as a reason to aquit. That’s why defense attorneys generally object to Colorado’s rule allowing jurors to interject with their own questions to witnesses. On the plus side, such questions do offer both sides a hint of where those jurors are leaning.

As Denver gentrifies, it should be no surprise that juries will represent the affluent more than the demographics being displaced. DJ’s jury had absolutely zero concern for punishing a homeless man for his elegant protest gesture or for his unresolved circumstance. They laughed and made no eye contact with the audience as they turned their backs to return to their homes and leave a homeless man in greater jeopardy with the penal system.

DJ was not tried by a jury of his peers. Can the homeless get justice in the US court system? American juries are racist and classist, but you’re unlikely to find someone more untouchable to jurors than someone who is dispossessed.

As activists, we’ve got to do something about these Denver juries. Advocating for jury nullification is not enough. Denver’s urban social climbers need a welcome-to-the-community brochure, or swift kicks in the ass until they acknowledge there’s a brotherhood of man.

The Poor Peoples Potty Project

Pause You Who Read This. In Great Expectations, Dickens writes, “Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link of one memorable day.”
 
Again; I ask the reader to pause and think for a moment; think of our human species, that has come so far in many of our improvements under the conditions we inherited here on planet earth; improvements in our sanitation, shelters and food. These improvements were not some idle whimsy idea, they were made because we needed and wanted to survive as a species, we come to understand that shelter, food and sanitation were the ingredients for longevity. We most often take these normal functions of the human body for granted without thinking as we live our daily lives in suburbia, moving with the speed of light from our jobs to our homes. Should you doubt, you have only to try a small experiment; For a few days camp in your back yard, without the use of your kitchen to cook your meals for nourishment, the shelter that provides warmth and a bed to rest after the toil of a long weary day, the toilet that allows you to clean and relieve your natural body functions. These are the basics of every human on planet earth, there are no exceptions to these rules.

So now I’m thinking of the human mind that figured out how to fly a machine to a comet and land there, wow! What an incredible feat, what an incredible cost of money to accomplish this project. It clearly demonstrates the power of the human mind and our ability to solve a problem.

And then I read the second story of humans who have no shelter here on planet earth, no food for nourishment, no toilet to relieve their normal body functions. So I ask myself; When that space ship left planet earth to land on some distant comet, did it leave behind a human race who have lost their way; on compassion and empathy for our fellow travelers of planet earth? Are we moving so fast through this vast wilderness of space that we cannot see with compassion those in need of the most simple function of all humans.

Is there a solution to the problem? I believe there is.

We have a chance to tell our fellow humans, homeless travelers that they are not alone, we need only look into our hearts and rekindle our compassion that was given each of us as a gift.

A simple solution might look like this; we identify where the homeless congregate, we find solutions to zoning for portable toilets, set up in discreet places, arrange for the portable potty to be serviced and maintained.

It is an effort to reclaim our humanity, our compassion, and say that we care about all as we travel this amazing journey called life.

It only takes one person with an idea to change the world, a person who has compassion and empathy; are you one of those humans? All across America I believe there are such people.

I’am asking only, that you look into your heart and ask yourself; as one person, what can I do to help?

If together we can find a solution to one small problem; a place for the homeless to use a toilet; then think of what we might do next. Anything is possible, homeless and hunger.

Is it not time that we pause in our busy life and think of the long chain that tells us, this is the moment we formed a new link and as members of the human species we then can look back at planet earth with pride of what we carry to those distant stars.

Ayn Rand SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me first begin with how I was exposed to Ayn Rand. I am in high school and awhile back my teacher was doing a course on homelessness. In a ‘prompt’ that she gave me as to what are the causes of homelessness, I answered CAPITALISM. A week later I was astonished to get back my paper with a Zero. I showed this to many people all of whom agreed that it was in no way deserving of a zero. My dad and I took this question as to why I had gotten a zero on  my paper to the teacher. I wasn’t expecting much but even after one hour of asking my English teacher why I had gotten a zero on my paper she had no reasonable answer other than that I had not followed the ‘format’ correctly, even though I had a previous organizational sheet on which I based my writing on following her format. she ended by saying I was a horrible writer;  we gave up trying to get to through to such a numbskull.

I didn’t quite understand why she had given me a zero until a couple months later, and so began my experience with Ayn Rand. My teacher took us to get the book. As I read the summary I knew it would be some sort of method for her and d-11 to push their politics on students;  however I had no previous knowledge of who Ayn Rand was.  The next day in class she gave us a powerpoint on the background of Ayn Rand and what the book Anthem was about. It was filled with negative comments on communism including that communism supposedly takes away knowledge, individuality and free expression.   As I was assigned to read more and more of Ayn Rand I realized how horrible of a writer she was. I started to listen to Ayn Rand’s interviews. I then understood that  they were forcing me to read a writer who didn’t believe in helping anyone, because she was a racist, a nationalist and a pure evil witch. These interviews can be found on <youtube> and <bluecorncomics> among many other articles revealing Ayn Rand to be a racist.

The more and more I read into the book the more i was infuriated at the pure ridiculousness and hypocrisy of it.  In the ending chapters it is written by Ayn Rand that

“The word WE is the lime poured over me, which sets and hardens to stone, crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages. What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and the impotent, are my masters? What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree and to obey?”

As i read this I wasn’t sure whether to laugh, throw up, or rip the book apart . I was sickened by how when I had expressed my “free speech” I was given a ZERO; by how I had to read an author who believes being selfish is  a virtue. And by how every day, whenever I went to class instead of being taught English literature I got the teachers Right Wing, anti-communist politics thrown into my face. Each time a question on the book was asked I didn’t hear an opinion on whether the book was good or bad i only heard questions on how communism takes away individuality and how  Ayn Rand is right on what her idea of what communism is? I said the teacher was expressing personal opinion and the whole class started to yell at me to shut up. I got so alienated and depressed after they  said that communism makes robots, and brain dead people  even though I couldn’t find more brain dead robots as hard as I looked than the ones that were sitting right next to me.

I couldn’t take the class anymore as it was an insult to who I was, what I believed in, and all the people I respected were continually insulted and lied about. I started skipping the class after my dad not only talked at a school board meeting but also to my assistant principal, in both cases we were given the cold shoulder and treated horribly rude. I decided to go to the class again and deal with it. As I read the quote given above in that class and as I looked around i became terrified of being like them. I was torn between staying and swallowing my believes and to be JUST LIKE THOSE SHEEP or to get up and leave. The overwhelming fear of being lost into them made me get up and walk out of the class. Later that day the assistant principal took me out of a class and made me feel like an outsider, like a weird person that needed to be put in a psychiatric hospital. I complained that I was being pushed politics in a public school and his response was that no other students felt like I did. When I told him that the teacher had given me a zero and was now failing me out of the course, who had said I was a horrible writer; he said He didn’t believe me and that I was wrong. He told me that if I was to walk out again I would have to deal with the consequences even though he wouldn’t deal with a teacher pushing politics.   He smiled as I cried for being  looked at as being an idiot and a weirdo kid ; it took me about two hours to get with it. We continued to try to get me switched out of the class, which finally we did only to find that Ayn Rand was being taught in that course too and  in all English classes for that matter.

I realize I will probably never get them to change, to respect students, parents and INDIVIDUALITY. But this  continuing fight which is probably the hardest I’ve ever had to fight proved to me that I would stand up for myself against a herd of flesh eating zombies, that I would NEVER BE LIKE THEM . And I felt pride in knowing I stood up to being brainwashed by  anti communist right wingers.

#Occupy Colo. Springs Municipal Court

Occupy Colorado Springs arrestees
OCCUPIED COLORADO SPRINGS- Attention local media, if you’re looking for authentic spokespeople for Occupy Colorado Springs, you need look no further than today’s front row. Holding the big sign is first arrestee Steve Bass, to his right: three times arrestee Iraq vet Jack Semple, arrestee Amber Hagen, arrestee Raven Martinez, and arrestee Thomas G.

Also pictured, former Colorado Congressman Dennis Apuan, Occupy founding member Jon Martinez and Socialist activist Patrick Jay. Not pictured, Joel Aigner and Hossein Forouzandeh who were speaking at a UCCS occupy teach-in.


Here’s a video of the Saturday arrests of veteran of Fallujah Timothy “Jack” Semple and Amber Hagen of the 7-11 incident. Worth the watch. ROCKSTARS!

Mark your calendars, upcoming arraignments are scheduled November 21, 29 and 30.

Raven addressed the Colorado Springs City Council today on the unconstitutionality of the no-camping ordinance being enforced to curb the Occupy protest. Here’s what she said:

As a citizen of the United States, one has a given right to life, liberty, & property. These rights are protected by both the 5th & 14th Amendments to the Constitution.

In Bolling v Sharpe, The Supreme Court interpreted the 5th Amendment’s due process clause to include an equal protection element.

The 14th Amendment states:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of LIFE, LIBERTY, or PROPERTY, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Knowing that sleep is a necessity of Life, every American citizen has a right to sleep, regardless of status.

“HOMELESSNESS” is considered a status.

The camping ordinance ultimately denies one the right to sleep, therefore the right to live, based on their status. How many people have been arrested for setting up a canopy, with blankets & food, to take a nap or have a picnic on public property.

Now if a homeless person sets up a canopy, has blankets and food with them, will they be told to take down their canopy under the current camping ordinance? If so, then the ordinance is based on status, therefore unconstitutional.

If not, then it leaves too much discretion in the hands of the individual law enforcement officer, making the ordinance over-broad and unconstitutionally vague.

When one is homeless, where can that person sleep? If they set up to sleep on Public property they would be violating the current city ordinance, they will be told to leave and told of a shelter to go to, being their only alternative. This amounts to incarceration in the shelter without a violation of law having been committed. This also violates ones right to due process in that it allows for arbitrary enforcement.

When you criminalize a non-criminal act of necessity, you greatly increase the possibility of that person committing other crimes, as well as decrease that persons ability to obtain employment.

State v Folks, No. 96-19569 MM found that a city ordinance which punished innocent conduct, such as sleeping/camping on public property, violated the defendant’s right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, which is protected under the 8th Amendment.

I ask you to look at the constitutionality as well as the long term effects of such an ordinance, it starts a domino effect that negatively impacts an already hurting economy.

How much does it cost in tax payers money to pursue such a case?

We have to have change! If we want a better economy and overall society, then the government, Federal, State, & Local, must change the way they conduct business. Criminalizing acts of necessity is business, not a way to protect our American citizens.

“Definition of Insanity: Doing the same thing over & over again and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein

Pass a new ordinance to repeal the current one.

Report from the Right Front

I will be the first to point out, right now here in this forum, that I have a Texas-sized ego. I think I’m a reasonably smart guy, and not unlike any writer, that I have some things to say that are so danged important that I’m gonna say them. I’ll also point out that some others in the conversation, possibly including you, gentle reader, have the same handicap. The entire discussion ought to be undertaken with a salt shaker within easy reach ’cause everything anyone has to say ought to be taken with a liberal helping.
 
This post is an attempt to unravel a bit of a Gordian knot that has tied itself around the politics of “Occupy” movements around the world, and particularly here in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.A. without hacking at it with f-bombs directed at the many possessors of equally large egos as mine, while openly acknowledging strong disagreements between some of us. Believe me, this is a difficult bit of unraveling and though I mean to avoid ad hominem attacks, I’ll not promise to eschew strong language. It’s also a bit of a news update, straight from the horse’s ass, so to speak. Sorry if it runs long or gets complicated; it’s a big hairy knot.

I am the guy that picked up the first no-camping ordinance violation in the city of Colorado Springs. I did this while participating in protests falling under the ill-defined aegis of a group called “Occupy Colorado Springs,” in solidarity with another ill-defined group called “Occupy Wall Street,” and other Occupiers all over the world. In case it’s unclear: there’s no such thing as Occupy Colorado Springs, (OCS). What happened is a few guys, boldly named at the top of the eponymous Facebook page like John Hancock at the bottom of that one famous page, finally got bent enough out of shape to do something about it so they set up a page, and a small camp down at Bijou and Tejon–Acacia Park. They were behind the Wall Street guys and liking what they were about, I came behind them.

There is no club membership, no charter, no bylaws, no nothing to define the Colorado Springs group that might in any way be construed to suggest the thing we are doing at Acacia Park is anything other than a gathering of a bunch of fully leaderless sovereign individuals that happen to share a common distaste at the state of human affairs extant in the world today. Anyone who has known me for any length of time, or has read any of the pages preceding this post will know that this is nothing new for me. I was and remain ecstatic at the development of public expression, both here and globally. I am a free actor in the business of protesting in general, and that involving the city’s no-camping ordinance in particular. I act as a sovereign, as a member of OCS whatever that means, as a citizen of the U.S.A., as a citizen of the World–a member of the human race, possessor of certain unalienable rights, whether those derive from God or not.

I decided to deliberately violate the city ordinance because I believe it exemplifies an aspect of the overall erosion of human rights here and across the globe that has precipitated such widespread uproar. I believe it directly attacks individuals’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that it is both superfluous and fully unnecessary. It’s just a mean-spirited dig at the weakest among us, a tactic akin to schoolyard bullying, which I maintain is motivated by the same spirit that allows the holders of power at the Federal Reserve and other powerful international and national bodies to gleefully grind the majority of the world’s citizenry to dust for no more than sport. I meant all along from well before the advent of any Occupations to have this conversation at a level previously unattainable to me, and now we will–that is, I and whomever cares to jump in during the proceedings. I control only my own actions and expressions.

There are some protesters at Acacia Park that have strenuously objected to my camping as I did. They are pleased to maintain the fine relationship with CSPD and with the Mayor’s office that has developed, and happy to have avoided the head-bashing, tear-gassing removals that have troubled some other Occupy outposts. Fearing a narrowing of focus from the general Occupy platforms, they asked me, and truly in some instances pleaded with me to abandon my course. Some attempted to tell me. They are happy to compromise, capitulate, appease, to utilize terms previously utilized by those members opposed to my individual action. I am not. I promise, I love every one of the crazy fools involved with the action at our little street corner whether we agree on this matter or not. I’ll mention this one more time: I am just one dude. Anyone that agrees with me here is also behaving of his or her own accord.

Our Mayor Bach is an asshole. I promised to avoid ad hominem here, and I’ll point out that this is not an attack but an observation, and only my opinion. Publicly, falsely and slanderously maligning the very civilized protesters of OCS for urinating on sidewalks while simultaneously locking park rest rooms which had previously been available to all manner of dope-shooting freaks, and possibly authorizing the operation of park sprinkler systems to douse protesters in below freezing temperatures are asshole moves. In my opinion. Mayor Bach is in error, but he’s only acting as seems best to him in each moment, now also capitulating, and allowing protesters a right to their freedom of speech.

We already have a freedom to speak in our country. My violation of the camping ordinance addresses a deeper, more fundamental set of freedoms mentioned so briefly in Mr. Jefferson’s Declaration, and to be found in all the keening of literature throughout all of history–blowin’ in the wind, one might say. This is not a narrowing of focus, but rather a telescopic lens by which I hope we can examine questions of such grand scale and difficulty that centuries after a bunch of homeless guys floated across the Atlantic to Plymouth, we still haven’t grasped them. failing to address the camping ordinance presenting itself so conveniently will flippantly sidestep the most essential key to all of this whole set of global protesting. We’ve all seen protesters on the street corner a million times. We’ve always compromised. It’s never worked.

Anecdotally speaking, it appears the major objection raised by detractors of the Occupy movement is that there has been no firm expression of goals, manifestos, or demands. It seems to me that this is the natural outcome of the complexity of the problems at hand. Although there are certainly individuals involved in skulduggery at, say, the FED, my view is that we face the necessity to alter a fundamental flaw in our very basis for human interaction. I’ll leave you to read my thoughts on that elsewhere in this blog, if you desire, both previous to this post and to come. Right now the Occupy movement is just an acknowledgement of discomfort with the extraordinarily stubborn status quo across all political and national lines, and a frame work within which discussion may take place. Planning and legal definitions will have to wait for some 7 billion Occupiers to chime in. The difficulty of hashing out the minor disagreements among players here in Colorado Springs may be an indication of how much work is involved with the big picture. Be patient. Unless you like the status quo. Most of us don’t.

For anyone out of the loop, including friends across the U.S. and abroad, here’s a bit of fact: I was arrested 18 October, around 2am MST for deliberately violating a city no-camping ordinance. The arrest was executed by my friends, the extra-fine members of the “HOTT” team of the CSPD, as we had previously discussed, (those guys are just as much in jeopardy from “Wall Street” as any of us; they are our brothers). I was simply driven, sans violence of any kind, or even cuffs or hard feelings, to the Gold Hills police station. We did a little paperwork and the fellas drove me to a friend’s place where I claimed a bit of much-needed rest. The HOTT team and I were completely cooperative with one another, and remain so. They did their jobs, I did mine. I had to wrestle with the question until some family matters came up, but I will not be camping under that no-camping sign again until at least my court date, 8 Nov at 1:30p MST. I can not, nor will I attempt to speak to the actions of any other sovereign actors who may follow my example, other than to toss out my opinion should it seem germane to me.

I hope we can all have this conversation in a civilized manner. I hope the whole world shows up at the courthouse that day. I hope all my friends known and unknown that can’t make it will pray, or chant, or beam love on fairy wings–whatever their fancy. I’m gonna need it. I think we all need it, that day and every other.

Reprinted from Hipgnosis

Should homeless camping ban apply to Occupy Colorado Springs protest? Homelessness is often also protest.

COLORADO SPRINGS- Activist Steve Bass was arrested last night for overstaying his welcome in the city’s Acacia Park, violating the ordinance against pitching a tent in a public park. While the city is asserting that the anti-homeless no-camping ordinance ban applies to overnight free speech and assembly, and the OCCUPY COLORADO SPRINGS protesters argue that protest should be differentiated from the homeless issue, Steve reminds us that for many on the street, homelessness is their protest.

Bass has longtime experience administrating the Sunday morning soup kitchen at CC’s Shove Chapel. According to Bass, it’s not a matter of “To be or not to be” but the unalienable right to be or be somewhere else. Here’s an excerpt from his statement:

A point is advanced during the meeting [Occupy Colorado Springs negotiations with City officials] that separates homeless campers from active political occupiers. As a matter of personal opinion, though there are some real differences in context, the camping ordinance is bad law as yet untested in courts. However, having been involved with the free food biz in Colorado Springs for decades I am confident in stating that many homeless campers are in their position by choice, having opted out of a political system found onerous. I see no legitimate difference between this lifestyle of protest and the pointed expressions of protest embraced by Occupy Colorado Springs.

Other homeless campers are thus because of uncontrolled habits, some of which fall under the label of “diseased” behavior by authoritative bodies in the U.S. or because of circumstances external to their control. There are only two varieties of property in the entirety of the U.S.–public or private. If the continuously burgeoning population of homeless campers is barred from sleeping on public property, and have no means by which to acquire access to private property, they have no option at all. Others are then required by default to put them up, thus far manifest here in conditions both unsanitary and unsavory as demonstrable by the bed-bug ridden Express Inn or the Aztec Motel, or else the Salvation Army–court ordered church. Otherwise, our only other option is to incarcerate them. I maintain that an unmentioned and “unalienable” right of all human beings is simply to be, wherever that being may take place.

To be or to be somewhere else

An attempt to address a few issues presented here in as brief a fashion possible: Re: “Occupy Colorado Springs hits legal wall.” Regardless of the opinions of any observer or participant in any protests currently under way here or across the country, police are likely to follow the direction of their superiors, apart from unauthorized behavior on the part of mavericks or rogues. Jason points out that the Bill of Rights “trumps” city ordinances and statutes, and if that is not true then I am personally inclined to object strenuously and if necessary physically, in the sense that I will camp “illegally” with the occupiers during the course of the current protestations.

A point is advanced during the meeting that separates homeless campers from active political occupiers. As a matter of personal opinion, though there are some real differences in context, the camping ordinance is bad law as yet untested in courts. However, having been involved with the free food biz in Colorado Springs for decades I am confident in stating that many homeless campers are in their position by choice, having opted out of a political system found onerous. I see no legitimate difference between this lifestyle of protest and the pointed expressions of protest embraced by Occupy Colorado Springs. Other homeless campers are thus because of uncontrolled habits, some of which fall under the label of “diseased” behavior by authoritative bodies in the U.S. or because of circumstances external to their control. There are only two varieties of property in the entirety of the U.S.–public or private. If the continuously burgeoning population of homeless campers is barred from sleeping on public property, and have no means by which to acquire access to private property, they have no option at all. Others are then required by default to put them up, thus far manifest here in conditions both unsanitary and unsavory as demonstrable by the bed-bug ridden Express Inn or the Aztec Motel, or else the Salvation Army–court ordered church. Otherwise, our only other option is to incarcerate them. I maintain that an unmentioned and “unalienable” right of all human beings is simply to be, wherever that being may take place.

Jason points out the tenuous Constitutional position of the camping ordinances in a reasonably clear manner. The position of the police is clear and understandable, though I believe they are mistaken about the issues with city statutes; they will do as directed by others. Some of us affiliated with with the Occupiers, including I, believe arrest followed by courtroom examination of these and other questions may be seen as a good thing, and would result in the elimination of obviously untenable, ill-conceived statutes that are currently being enforced only in the most visible and problematic cases anyway.

This describes some of the entanglement of the only somewhat separate matters of Occupiers in Colorado Springs, and campers in Colorado Springs. Without more than this brief mention, it also demonstrates the erosion of liberty in this country that precipitates the protests in the first place.

Finally, to nip a little at Bryce’s bait, his “dismissive” attitude is unnecessary and dishonorable. I would personally love to see the unconstitutional camping ordinances put to the test in court. The U.S. Constitution is NOT an especially arcane piece of work, in spite of generations of lawyers’ efforts to make it seem so. Here’s a copy for you to examine: http://constitutionus.com/ . Have one of these, too: ushistory.org/declaration/document/

As an individual, merely affiliated with the fine and diverse members of Occupy Colorado Springs, I can speak only for my own motivation and opinion.

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Under cover of night Boston PD raided protest, arrested 50 and razed camp

Under cover of darkness, Boston and Massachusetts State Police raided Camp 2 of the OCCUPY BOSTON protest. A reported fifty activists were arrested, the police brutalized mostly elderly Veterans For Peace members trying to protect the campsite. Even as the paddy wagons were being filled, sanitation department garbage trucks were being filled with all the camp materials, tents, sleeping bags, signs and all. The pretext for the raid was that camping was in violation of city ordinances, the excuse being used on Wall Street and here in Colorado Springs. Constitutionally the enforcement of such laws are violating the protesters’ first amendment right to assemble, a right guaranteed night or day, sunny weather or inclement. The right to shelter is guaranteed by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Laws targeted at homelessness are being used exactly as opponents feared, to squelch political dissent. Notable about tonight’s raid, the Boston camp was an expansion camp relative to the original encampment, demonstrating that authorities will tolerate protest so long as it is nominal. They definitely do not want to see it growing.

Holmes Sweet Holmes

For NMania1: Thanks for the Voice
And for Bob Holmes: I love you Bob, I swear. But you deserve this.
Don’t feel too sad–I deserve much worse.

Way back in May of this year, I promised this to a guy who “sold” me a free newspaper in Denver for a $1 suggested donation. He said he was a writer for the same paper, which addresses issues surrounding homelessness in the same city. He was interested in the state of those affairs in Colorado Springs, where I live, and, given that I’ve been in the free food biz for 26 years, and that I have, in fact been homeless myself, I had to think I was in a unique position to afford some perspective. I also posted an, (untitled ), bit on the same topic clear back on 12 April of 2010, wherein I promised a follow-up. Things have worked around to a moment where changes have taken place in both the homeless community of our town and in my schedule that render ripe the moment. A year and a half ago, I described a little of the circus-like scene in our town surrounding the homeless campers. Here’ a bit more flesh, spiced with perhaps a bit more vinegar. Don’t get all touchy, now.

Colorado Springs has always been pretty friendly to street-runners, at least since 1984 when I got here. I got to know my way around when I hit town as a 20 year old apprentice electician and found work for the–ahem–generous wage of $6.00 an hour. Within a year, I had fallen in with some folks at Calvary Chapel downtown in the same building occupied by our town’s token “liberal” free paper now. We gave away sandwiches and such, among some other, more ideologically driven activities. I’ve been in on this little pastime of mine in one capacity or another ever since, from various angles, and with variable motivation. (Spiritual vagaries aside, nothing is ever about just one thing). What I mean to point out is that I have been around long enough to have a little feel for the pulse of the thing, nothing more.

When I’d written about all this earlier in the orphaned posting noted above I mentioned some stuff I’ll not mention again, since you can go to that one to see, easily enough: http://hipgnosis21.blogspot.com/2010/04/so-colorado-springs-is-unusual-place-it.html . This follow up addresses the biggie. That’s right IT HASN’T WORKED.

I’m no prophet. God has yet to send me any memos. All I did earlier was interpret the writing on the wall that was there for anyone to see, in big scrawling, blocky letters. I think anyone looking could read them clearly enough, including Bob Holmes, if he hadn’t been in his customary, red-faced, squinty-eyed, self-imposed insensate condition. That doesn’t count for an honest mistake, Bob!

Now, here’s a little secret–sshhh! The camps are back. I can’t speak for the general level of brain power amongst drunken, whacked out homeless guys, but even the blankest screen among my favorite crowd has developed an ingrained self-preservatory wiliness. So you won’t see them sprawled along the highway like a middle class Somali neighborhood, like before. And I’m not gonna tell you where they are. The cops simply must know already, and my friends don’t need another three-ring fiasco. But, truckloads of enabling aside–I freakin’ told you, Bob!

I have an absolutely gigantic boatload of my own, patented bool-shyte to sling about all this, (imagine that), but here’s a little teaser before I have to go actually do something this morning. At this moment of extreme sensitivity to initial conditions, (watch Wall street, now, y’all), we really ought to notice the shit we’ve been up to all these, say 10,000 years, isn’t working. Let’s switch to a genuinely loving thing.

Buon compleanno ad una nuova Rivoluzione. Viva l’Esercito dell’Amore!

Rep. Doug Lamborn wants to squeeze more lives and limbs from Colo. Springs

More helicopters, more soldiers, more domestic violence, more social ills, more crime, more rape, more injuries, death, PTSD, birth defects, cancer, medical ailment “syndromes,” suicide, homelessness, all conclusively linked to war. You don’t even have to have the IQ to admit Global Warming to make the connections about the cost of war. Colorado Springs is already bankrupt from war business “prosperity” but Representative Lamborn thinks we should pay a higher price.

Leaving house price fantasy land

depressingYou can see them sprouting up all over like toadstools, these FOR SALE and FOR RENT signs. What happened? Take a look at this graph and you can easily determine there was a fantasy land growth Housing Bubble of real estate ‘value’ from about 2000- 2006, otherwise known as The Bush Era minus the last 2 years. The triumphalism is now gone. Bulletin From the Hindenburg- A Housing Crash Update

Why were prices going up anyway when it was mainly junk that was being built, since there is no real quality in the housing built over the last couple of decades and most of it is now solidly and rapidly becoming slum? In fact the item that is most missing from these new neighborhoods is neighborhood.

The housing market was actually overly invested in creating new housing and allowed the old housing to slop into increased disrepair. How many extra ‘habitations’ are there now out actually? Count the signs… There’s just simply not enough money to buy and rent all this overpriced junk. Meanwhile the homeless population will begun to shoot upward!

Colorado Springs city government once again says it will end police raids on Homeless camps

colorado springs homelessCOLORADO SPRINGS- Yesterday the CS municipal government, under the threat of an ongoing lawsuit, once again declared that it would end police raids on the Homeless. KKTV reports the following- ‘The Colorado Springs City Council voted in favor Tuesday on a plan to help the city’s homeless. The plan is being called the 10-Year Blueprint To Serve Every Homeless Citizen in the Pikes Peak Region. Tuesday’s vote follows the Council’s approval on Monday to adopt a new plan that includes giving homeless residents advanced warning of cleanups and using mental health workers to communicate with them during the sweeps. City officials placed a moratorium on homeless camp cleanups this fall after homeless advocates threatened to sue the city.’

Yes, well this 10 year city plan follows a previous 5 year city plan to supposedly end homelessness in the city, and that certainly did not occur. Actually, it is mandated that the city file a ‘plan’ such as this to be able to receive certain Federal monies, and the rhetoric is totally empty of any real meaning other than to latch onto those funds.

Many Homeless in the city say that the city has not actually ended these raids, but has merely made them more clandestine. Further, they say their biggest fear is not even these police raids, but the fact that there have been multiple sever beatings of the Homeless within city limits. The Homeless fear not only violent crime directed against them, but they also fear the lack of any significant police protection against these crimes. So the issues for the Homeless in the community is more than just one of police raids.

Further, the Homeless continue to complain of any lack of access to most social programs set up. This complaint is entirely in line with previous media reports of waits of over one month to get food stamps in the city area, and the inability to get through on the state’s initial line to file for Unemployment Benefits, which we wrote about just last week on this blog.

Luckily, the weather has been rather mild this Winter so that is the one silver lining these days for the local area Homeless population. The city does seem insistent on trying to harass the Homeless in this city to the max, but to just do it undercover. One note about the city government… was that the only city councilman to step out and meet with the people gathered outside the city meeting in protest against these city police raids was Councilman Jerry Heimlicher. Good for him! The mayor, Lionel Rivera tried to walk on by unnoticed. Si, Senor! Good thing the lawsuit remains on file at this point. These are slick people.

Global economic rapists are at it again

G8 protest
Why protest the G8 Summit July 7-9? Those hoodlums always look so determined. Here’s the rationale by the Emergency Exit Collective:

The 2008 G8 on Hokkaido, a Strategic Assessment
Emergency Exit Collective
Bristol, Mayday, 2008

The authors of this document are a collection of activists, scholars, and writers currently based in the United States and Western Europe who have gotten to know and work with each other in the movement against capitalist globalization. We’re writing this at the request of some members of No! G8 Action Japan, who asked us for a broad strategic analysis of the state of struggle as we see it, and particularly, of the role of the G8, what it represents, the dangers and opportunities that may lie hidden in the moment. It is in no sense programmatic. Mainly, it is an attempt to develop tools that we hope will be helpful for organizers, or for anyone engaged in the struggle against global capital.

I
It is our condition as human beings that we produce our lives in common.

II
Let us then try to see the world from the perspective of the planet’s commoners, taking the word in that sense: those whose most essential tradition is cooperation in the making and maintenance of human social life, yet who have had to do so under conditions of suffering and separation; deprived, ignored, devalued, divided into hierarchies, pitted against each other for our very physical survival. In one sense we are all commoners. But it’s equally true that just about everyone, at least in some ways, at some points, plays the role of the rulers—of those who expropriate, devalue and divide—or at the very least benefits from such divisions.

Obviously some do more than others. It is at the peak of this pyramid that we encounter groups like the G8.

III
The G8’s perspective is that of the aristocrats, the rulers: those who command and maintain that global machinery of violence that defends existing borders and lines of separation: whether national borders with their detention camps for migrants, or property regimes, with their prisons for the poor. They live by constantly claiming title to the products of others collective creativity and labour, and in thus doing they create the poor; they create scarcity in the midst of plenty, and divide us on a daily basis; they create financial districts that loot resources from across the world, and in thus doing they turn the spirit of human creativity into a spiritual desert; close or privatize parks, public water taps and libraries, hospitals, youth centers, universities, schools, public swimming pools, and instead endlessly build shopping malls that channels convivial life into a means of commodity circulation; work toward turning global ecological catastrophe into business opportunities.

These are the people who presume to speak in the name of the “international community” even as they hide in their gated communities or meet protected by phalanxes of riot cops. It is critical to bear in mind that the ultimate aim of their policies is never to create community but to introduce and maintain divisions that set common people at each other’s throats. The neoliberal project, which has been their main instrument for doing so for the last three decades, is premised on a constant effort either to uproot or destroy any communal or democratic system whereby ordinary people govern their own affairs or maintain common resources for the common good, or, to reorganize each tiny remaining commons as an isolated node in a market system in which livelihood is never guaranteed, where the gain of one community must necessarily be at the expense of others. Insofar as they are willing to appeal to high-minded principles of common humanity, and encourage global cooperation, only and exactly to the extent that is required to maintain this system of universal competition.

IV
At the present time, the G8—the annual summit of the leaders of “industrial democracies”—is the key coordinative institution charged with the task of maintaining this neoliberal project, or of reforming it, revising it, adapting it to the changing condition of planetary class relations. The role of the G8 has always been to define the broad strategic horizons through which the next wave of planetary capital accumulation can occur. This means that its main task is to answer the question of how 3?4 in the present conditions of multiple crises and struggles 3?4 to subordinate social relations among the producing commoners of the planet to capital’s supreme value: profit.

V
Originally founded as the G7 in 1975 as a means of coordinating financial strategies for dealing with the ‘70s energy crisis, then expanded after the end of the Cold War to include Russia, its currently face a moment of profound impasse in the governance of planetary class relations: the greatest since the ‘70s energy crisis itself.

VI
The ‘70s energy crisis represented the final death-pangs of what might be termed the Cold War settlement, shattered by a quarter century of popular struggle. It’s worth returning briefly to this history.

The geopolitical arrangements put in place after World War II were above all designed to forestall the threat of revolution. In the immediate wake of the war, not only did much of the world lie in ruins, most of world’s population had abandoned any assumption about the inevitability of existing social arrangements. The advent of the Cold War had the effect of boxing movements for social change into a bipolar straightjacket. On the one hand, the former Allied and Axis powers that were later to unite in the G7 (the US, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Japan)—the “industrialized democracies”, as they like to call themselves—engaged in a massive project of co-optation. Their governments continued the process, begun in the ‘30s, of taking over social welfare institutions that had originally been created by popular movements (from insurance schemes to public libraries), even to expand them, on condition that they now be managed by state-appointed bureaucracies rather than by those who used them, buying off unions and the working classes more generally with policies meant to guarantee high wages, job security and the promise of educational advance—all in exchange for political loyalty, productivity increases and wage divisions within national and planetary working class itself. The Sino-Soviet bloc—which effectively became a kind of junior partner within the overall power structure, and its allies remained to trap revolutionary energies into the task of reproducing similar bureaucracies elsewhere. Both the US and USSR secured their dominance after the war by refusing to demobilize, instead locking the planet in a permanent threat of nuclear annihilation, a terrible vision of absolute cosmic power.

VII
Almost immediately, though, this arrangement was challenged by a series of revolts from those whose work was required to maintain the system, but who were, effectively, left outside the deal: first, peasants and the urban poor in the colonies and former colonies of the Global South, next, disenfranchised minorities in the home countries (in the US, the Civil Rights movement, then Black Power), and finally and most significantly, by the explosion of the women’s movement of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s—the revolt of that majority of humanity whose largely unremunerated labor made the very existence “the economy” possible. This appears to have been the tipping point.

VIII
The problem was that the Cold War settlement was never meant to include everyone. It by definition couldn’t. Once matters reached tipping point, then, the rulers scotched the settlement. All deals were off. The oil shock was first edge of the counter-offensive, breaking the back of existing working class organizations, driving home the message that there was nothing guaranteed about prosperity. Under the aegis of the newly hatched G7, this counter-offensive involved a series of interwoven strategies that were later to give rise to what is known as neoliberalism.

IX
These strategies resulted in what came to be known as “Structural Adjustment” both in the North and in the South, accompanied by trade and financial liberalization. This, in turn, made possible crucial structural changes in our planetary production in common extending the role of the market to discipline our lives and divide us into more and more polarized wage hierarchy. This involved:

· In the immediate wake of ‘70s oil shock, petrodollars were recycled from OPEC into Northern banks that then lent them, at extortionate rates of interest, to developing countries of the Global South. This was the origin of the famous “Third World Debt Crisis.” The existence of this debt allowed institutions like the IMF to impose its monetarist orthodoxy on most of the planet for roughly twenty years, in the process, stripping away most of even those modest social protections that had been won by the world’s poor—large numbers of whom were plunged into a situation of absolute desperation.

· It also opened a period of new enclosures through the capitalist imposition of structural adjustment policies, manipulation of environmental and social catastrophes like war, or for that matter through the authoritarian dictates of “socialist” regimes. Through such means, large sections of the world’s population have over the past thirty years been dispossessed from resources previously held in common, either by dint of long traditions, or as the fruits of past struggles and past settlements.

· Through financial deregulation and trade liberalization, neoliberal capital, which emerged from the G7 strategies to deal with the 1970s crisis aimed thus at turning the “class war” in communities, factories, offices, streets and fields against the engine of competition, into a planetary “civil war”, pitting each community of commoners against every other community of commoners.

· Neoliberal capital has done this by imposing an ethos of “efficiency” and rhetoric of “lowering the costs of production” applied so broadly that mechanisms of competition have come to pervade every sphere of life. In fact these terms are euphemisms, for a more fundamental demand: that capital be exempt from taking any reduction in profit to finance the costs of reproduction of human bodies and their social and natural environments (which it does not count as costs) and which are, effectively, “exernalized” onto communities and nature.

· The enclosure of resources and entitlements won in previous generations of struggles both in the North and the South, in turn, created the conditions for increasing the wage hierarchies (both global and local), by which commoners work for capital—wage hierarchies reproduced economically through pervasive competition, but culturally, through male dominance, xenophobia and racism. These wage gaps, in turn, made it possible to reduce the value of Northern workers’ labour power, by introducing commodities that enter in their wage basket at a fraction of what their cost might otherwise have been. The planetary expansion of sweatshops means that American workers (for example) can buy cargo pants or lawn-mowers made in Cambodia at Walmart, or buy tomatoes grown by undocumented Mexican workers in California, or even, in many cases, hire Jamaican or Filipina nurses to take care of children and aged grandparents at such low prices, that their employers have been able to lower real wages without pushing most of them into penury. In the South, meanwhile, this situation has made it possible to discipline new masses of workers into factories and assembly lines, fields and offices, thus extending enormously capital’s reach in defining the terms—the what, the how, the how much—of social production.

· These different forms of enclosures, both North and South, mean that commoners have become increasingly dependent on the market to reproduce their livelihoods, with less power to resist the violence and arrogance of those whose priorities is only to seek profit, less power to set a limit to the market discipline running their lives, more prone to turn against one another in wars with other commoners who share the same pressures of having to run the same competitive race, but not the same rights and the same access to the wage. All this has meant a generalized state of precarity, where nothing can be taken for granted.

X
In turn, this manipulation of currency and commodity flows constituting neoliberal globalization became the basis for the creation of the planet’s first genuine global bureaucracy.

· This was multi-tiered, with finance capital at the peak, then the ever-expanding trade bureaucracies (IMF, WTO, EU, World Bank, etc), then transnational corporations, and finally, the endless varieties of NGOs that proliferated throughout the period—almost all of which shared the same neoliberal orthodoxy, even as they substituted themselves for social welfare functions once reserved for states.

· The existence of this overarching apparatus, in turn, allowed poorer countries previously under the control of authoritarian regimes beholden to one or another side in the Cold War to adopt “democratic” forms of government. This did allow a restoration of formal civil liberties, but very little that could really merit the name of democracy (the rule of the “demos”, i.e., of the commoners). They were in fact constitutional republics, and the overwhelming trend during the period was to strip legislatures, that branch of government most open to popular pressure, of most of their powers, which were increasingly shifted to the executive and judicial branches, even as these latter, in turn, largely ended up enacting policies developed overseas, by global bureaucrats.

· This entire bureaucratic arrangement was justified, paradoxically enough, by an ideology of extreme individualism. On the level of ideas, neoliberalism relied on a systematic cooptation of the themes of popular struggle of the ‘60s: autonomy, pleasure, personal liberation, the rejection of all forms of bureaucratic control and authority. All these were repackaged as the very essence of capitalism, and the market reframed as a revolutionary force of liberation.

· The entire arrangement, in turn, was made possible by a preemptive attitude towards popular struggle. The breaking of unions and retreat of mass social movements from the late ‘70s onwards was only made possible by a massive shift of state resources into the machinery of violence: armies, prisons and police (secret and otherwise) and an endless variety of private “security services”, all with their attendant propaganda machines, which tended to increase even as other forms of social spending were cut back, among other things absorbing increasing portions of the former proletariat, making the security apparatus an increasingly large proportion of total social spending. This approach has been very successful in holding back mass opposition to capital in much of the world (especially West Europe and North America), and above all, in making it possible to argue there are no viable alternatives. But in doing so, has created strains on the system so profound it threatens to undermine it entirely.

XI
The latter point deserves elaboration. The element of force is, on any number of levels, the weak point of the system. This is not only on the constitutional level, where the question of how to integrate the emerging global bureaucratic apparatus, and existing military arrangements, has never been resolved. It is above all an economic problem. It is quite clear that the maintenance of elaborate security machinery is an absolute imperative of neoliberalism. One need only observe what happened with the collapse of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe: where one might have expected the Cold War victors to demand the dismantling of the army, secret police and secret prisons, and to maintain and develop the existing industrial base, in fact, what they did was absolutely the opposite: in fact, the only part of the industrial base that has managed fully to maintain itself has been the parts required to maintained the security apparatus itself! Critical too is the element of preemption: the governing classes in North America, for example, are willing to go to almost unimaginable lengths to ensure social movements never feel they are accomplishing anything. The current Gulf War is an excellent example: US military operations appear to be organized first and foremost to be protest-proof, to ensure that what happened in Vietnam (mass mobilization at home, widespread revolt within the army overseas) could never be repeated. This means above all that US casualties must always be kept to a minimum. The result are rules of engagement, and practices like the use of air power within cities ostensibly already controlled by occupation forces, so obviously guaranteed to maximize the killing of innocents and galvanizing hatred against the occupiers that they ensure the war itself cannot be won. Yet this approach can be taken as the very paradigm for neoliberal security regimes. Consider security arrangements around trade summits, where police are so determined prevent protestors from achieving tactical victories that they are often willing to effectively shut down the summits themselves. So too in overall strategy. In North America, such enormous resources are poured into the apparatus of repression, militarization, and propaganda that class struggle, labor action, mass movements seem to disappear entirely. It is thus possible to claim we have entered a new age where old conflicts are irrelevant. This is tremendously demoralizing of course for opponents of the system; but those running the system seem to find that demoralization so essential they don’t seem to care that the resultant apparatus (police, prisons, military, etc) is, effectively, sinking the entire US economy under its dead weight.

XII
The current crisis is not primarily geopolitical in nature. It is a crisis of neoliberalism itself. But it takes place against the backdrop of profound geopolitical realignments. The decline of North American power, both economic and geopolitical has been accompanied by the rise of Northeast Asia (and to a increasing extent, South Asia as well). While the Northeast Asian region is still divided by painful Cold War cleavages—the fortified lines across the Taiwan straits and at the 38th parallel in Korea…—the sheer realities of economic entanglement can be expected to lead to a gradual easing of tensions and a rise to global hegemony, as the region becomes the new center of gravity of the global economy, of the creation of new science and technology, ultimately, of political and military power. This may, quite likely, be a gradual and lengthy process. But in the meantime, very old patterns are rapidly reemerging: China reestablishing relations with ancient tributary states from Korea to Vietnam, radical Islamists attempting to reestablish their ancient role as the guardians of finance and piety at the in the Central Asian caravan routes and across Indian Ocean, every sort of Medieval trade diaspora reemerging… In the process, old political models remerge as well: the Chinese principle of the state transcending law, the Islamic principle of a legal order transcending any state. Everywhere, we see the revival too of ancient forms of exploitation—feudalism, slavery, debt peonage—often entangled in the newest forms of technology, but still echoing all the worst abuses of the Middle Ages. A scramble for resources has begun, with US occupation of Iraq and saber-rattling throughout the surrounding region clearly meant (at least in part) to place a potential stranglehold the energy supply of China; Chinese attempts to outflank with its own scramble for Africa, with increasing forays into South America and even Eastern Europe. The Chinese invasion into Africa (not as of yet at least a military invasion, but already involving the movement of hundreds of thousands of people), is changing the world in ways that will probably be felt for centuries. Meanwhile, the nations of South America, the first victims of the “Washington consensus” have managed to largely wriggle free from the US colonial orbit, while the US, its forces tied down in the Middle East, has for the moment at least abandoned it, is desperately struggling to keep its grip Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean—its own “near abroad”.

XIII
In another age all this might have led to war—that is, not just colonial occupations, police actions, or proxy wars (which are obviously already taking place), but direct military confrontations between the armies of major powers. It still could; accidents happen; but there is reason to believe that, when it comes to moments of critical decision, the loyalties of the global elites are increasingly to each other, and not to the national entities for whom they claim to speak. There is some compelling evidence for this.

Take for example when the US elites panicked at the prospect of the massive budget surpluses of the late 1990s. As Alan Greenspan, head of the Federal Reserve at the time warned, if these were allowed to stand they would have flooded government coffers with so many trillions of dollars that it could only have lead to some form of creeping socialism, even, he predicted, to the government acquiring “equity stakes” in key US corporations. The more excitable of capitalism’s managers actually began contemplating scenarios where the capitalist system itself would be imperiled. The only possible solution was massive tax cuts; these were duly enacted, and did indeed manage to turn surpluses into enormous deficits, financed by the sale of treasury bonds to Japan and China. Conditions have thus now reached a point where it is beginning to look as if the most likely long term outcome for the US (its technological and industrial base decaying, sinking under the burden of its enormous security spending) will be to end up serve as junior partner and military enforcer for East Asia capital. Its rulers, or at least a significant proportion of them, would prefer to hand global hegemony to the rulers of China (provided the latter abandon Communism) than to return to any sort of New Deal compromise with their “own” working classes.

A second example lies in the origins of what has been called the current “Bretton Woods II” system of currency arrangements, which underline a close working together of some “surplus” and “deficit” countries within global circuits. The macroeconomic manifestation of the planetary restructuring outlined in XIX underlines both the huge US trade deficit that so much seem to worry many commentators, and the possibility to continually generate new debt instruments like the one that has recently resulted in the sub-prime crisis. The ongoing recycling of accumulated surplus of countries exporting to the USA such as China and oil producing countries is what has allowed financiers to create new credit instruments in the USA. Hence, the “deal” offered by the masters in the United States to its commoners has been this: ‘you, give us a relative social peace and accept capitalist markets as the main means through which you reproduce your own livelihoods, and we will give you access to cheaper consumption goods, access to credit for buying cars and homes, and access to education, health, pensions and social security through the speculative means of stock markets and housing prices.’ Similar compromises were reached in all the G8 countries.

Meanwhile, there is the problem of maintaining any sort of social peace with the hundreds of millions of unemployed, underemployed, dispossessed commoners currently swelling the shanty-towns of Asia, Africa, and Latin America as a result of ongoing enclosures (which have speeded up within China and India in particular, even as “structural adjustment policies” in Africa and Latin America have been derailed). Any prospect of maintaining peace in these circumstances would ordinarily require either extremely high rates of economic growth—which globally have not been forthcoming, since outside of China, growth rates in the developing world have been much lower than they were in the ‘50s, ‘60s, or even ‘70s—or extremely high levels of repression, lest matters descend into rebellion or generalized civil war. The latter has of course occurred in many parts of the world currently neglected by capital, but in favored regions, such as the coastal provinces of China, or “free trade” zones of India, Egypt, or Mexico, commoners are being offered a different sort of deal: industrial employment at wages that, while very low by international standards, are still substantially higher than anything currently obtainable in the impoverished countryside; and above all the promise, through the intervention of Western markets and (privatized) knowledge, of gradually improving conditions of living. While over the least few years wages in many such areas seem to be growing, thanks to the intensification of popular struggles, such gains are inherently vulnerable: the effect of recent food inflation has been to cut real wages back dramatically—and threaten millions with starvation.

What we really want to stress here, though, is that the long-term promise being offered to the South is just as untenable as the idea that US or European consumers can indefinitely expand their conditions of life through the use of mortgages and credit cards.

What’s being offered the new dispossessed is a transposition of the American dream. The idea is that the lifestyle and consumption patterns of existing Chinese, Indian, or Brazilian or Zambian urban middle classes (already modeled on Northern ones) will eventually become available to the children of today’s miners, maquila or plantation laborers, until, ultimately, everyone on earth is brought up to roughly the same level of consumption. Put in these terms, the argument is absurd. The idea that all six billion of us can become “middle class” is obviously impossible. First of all there is a simple problem of resources. It doesn’t matter how many bottles we recycle or how energy efficient are the light bulbs we use, there’s just no way the earth’s ecosystem can accommodate six billion people driving in private cars to work in air-conditioned cubicles before periodically flying off to vacation in Acapulco or Tahiti. To maintain the style of living and producing in common we now identify with “middle classness” on a planetary scale would require several additional planets.

This much has been pointed out repeatedly. But the second point is no less important. What this vision of betterment ultimately proposes is that it would be possible to build universal prosperity and human dignity on a system of wage labor. This is fantasy. Historically, wages are always the contractual face for system of command and degradation, and a means of disguising exploitation: expressing value for work only on condition of stealing value without work— and there is no reason to believe they could ever be anything else. This is why, as history has also shown, human beings will always avoid working for wages if they have any other viable option. For a system based on wage labor to come into being, such options must therefore be made unavailable. This in turn means that such systems are always premised on structures of exclusion: on the prior existence of borders and property regimes maintained by violence. Finally, historically, it has always proved impossible to maintain any sizeable class of wage-earners in relative prosperity without basing that prosperity, directly or indirectly, on the unwaged labor of others—on slave-labor, women’s domestic labor, the forced labor of colonial subjects, the work of women and men in peasant communities halfway around the world—by people who are even more systematically exploited, degraded, and immiserated. For that reason, such systems have always depended not only on setting wage-earners against each other by inciting bigotry, prejudice, hostility, resentment, violence, but also by inciting the same between men and women, between the people of different continents (“race”), between the generations.

From the perspective of the whole, then, the dream of universal middle class “betterment” must necessarily be an illusion constructed in between the Scylla of ecological disaster, and the Charybdis of poverty, detritus, and hatred: precisely, the two pillars of today’s strategic impasse faced by the G8.

XIV
How then do we describe the current impasse of capitalist governance?

To a large degree, it is the effect of a sudden and extremely effective upswing of popular resistance—one all the more extraordinary considering the huge resources that had been invested in preventing such movements from breaking out.

On the one hand, the turn of the millennium saw a vast and sudden flowering of new anti-capitalist movements, a veritable planetary uprising against neoliberalism by commoners in Latin America, India, Africa, Asia, across the North Atlantic world’s former colonies and ultimately, within the cities of the former colonial powers themselves. As a result, the neoliberal project lies shattered. What came to be called the “anti-globalization” movement took aim at the trade bureaucracies—the obvious weak link in the emerging institutions of global administration—but it was merely the most visible aspect of this uprising. It was however an extraordinarily successful one. Not only was the WTO halted in its tracks, but all major trade initiatives (MAI, FTAA…) scuttled. The World Bank was hobbled and the power of the IMF over most of the world’s population, effectively, destroyed. The latter, once the terror of the Global South, is now a shattered remnant of its former self, reduced to selling off its gold reserves and desperately searching for a new global mission.

In many ways though spectacular street actions were merely the most visible aspects of much broader changes: the resurgence of labor unions, in certain parts of the world, the flowering of economic and social alternatives on the grassroots levels in every part of the world, from new forms of direct democracy of indigenous communities like El Alto in Bolivia or self-managed factories in Paraguay, to township movements in South Africa, farming cooperatives in India, squatters’ movements in Korea, experiments in permaculture in Europe or “Islamic economics” among the urban poor in the Middle East. We have seen the development of thousands of forms of mutual aid association, most of which have not even made it onto the radar of the global media, often have almost no ideological unity and which may not even be aware of each other’s existence, but nonetheless share a common desire to mark a practical break with capitalism, and which, most importantly, hold out the prospect of creating new forms of planetary commons that can—and in some cases are—beginning to knit together to provide the outlines of genuine alternative vision of what a non-capitalist future might look like.

The reaction of the world’s rulers was predictable. The planetary uprising had occurred during a time when the global security apparatus was beginning to look like it lacked a purpose, when the world threatened to return to a state of peace. The response—aided of course, by the intervention of some of the US’ former Cold War allies, reorganized now under the name of Al Qaeda—was a return to global warfare. But this too failed. The “war on terror”—as an attempt to impose US military power as the ultimate enforcer of the neoliberal model—has collapsed as well in the face of almost universal popular resistance. This is the nature of their “impasse”.

At the same time, the top-heavy, inefficient US model of military capitalism—a model created in large part to prevent the dangers of social movements, but which the US has also sought to export to some degree simply because of its profligacy and inefficiency, to prevent the rest of the world from too rapidly overtaking them—has proved so wasteful of resources that it threatens to plunge the entire planet into ecological and social crisis. Drought, disaster, famines, combine with endless campaigns of enclosure, foreclosure, to cast the very means of survival—food, water, shelter—into question for the bulk of the world’s population.

XV
In the rulers’ language the crisis understood, first and foremost, as a problem of regulating cash flows, of reestablishing, as they like to put it, a new “financial architecture”. Obviously they are aware of the broader problems. Their promotional literature has always been full of it. From the earliest days of the G7, through to the days after the Cold War, when Russia was added as a reward for embracing capitalism, they have always claimed that their chief concerns include

· the reduction of global poverty

· sustainable environmental policies

· sustainable global energy policies

· stable financial institutions governing global trade and currency transactions

If one were to take such claims seriously, it’s hard to see their overall performance as anything but a catastrophic failure. At the present moment, all of these are in crisis mode: there are food riots, global warming, peak oil, and the threat of financial meltdown, bursting of credit bubbles, currency crises, a global credit crunch. [**Failure on this scale however, opens opportunities for the G8 themselves, as summit of the global bureaucracy, to reconfigure the strategic horizon. Therefore, it’s always with the last of these that they are especially concerned. ]The real problem, from the perspective of the G8, is one of reinvestment: particularly, of the profits of the energy sector, but also, now, of emerging industrial powers outside the circle of the G8 itself. The neoliberal solution in the ‘70s had been to recycle OPEC’s petrodollars into banks that would use it much of the world into debt bondage, imposing regimes of fiscal austerity that, for the most part, stopped development (and hence, the emergence potential rivals) in its tracks. By the ‘90s, however, much East Asia in particular had broken free of this regime. Attempts to reimpose IMF-style discipline during the Asian financial crisis of 1997 largely backfired. So a new compromise was found, the so-called Bretton Woods II: to recycle the profits from the rapidly expanding industrial economies of East Asia into US treasury debt, artificially supporting the value of the dollar and allowing a continual stream of cheap exports that, aided by the US housing bubble, kept North Atlantic economies afloat and buy off workers there with cheap oil and even cheaper consumer goods even as real wages shrank. This solution however soon proved a temporary expedient. Bush regime’s attempt to lock it in by the invasion of Iraq, which was meant to lead to the forced privatization of Iraqi oil fields, and, ultimately, of the global oil industry as a whole, collapsed in the face of massive popular resistance (just as Saddam Hussein’s attempt to introduce neoliberal reforms in Iraq had failed when he was still acting as American deputy in the ‘90s). Instead, the simultaneous demand for petroleum for both Chinese manufacturers and American consumers caused a dramatic spike in the price of oil. What’s more, rents from oil and gas production are now being used to pay off the old debts from the ‘80s (especially in Asia and Latin America, which have by now paid back their IMF debts entirely), and—increasingly—to create state-managed Sovereign Wealth Funds that have largely replaced institutions like the IMF as the institutions capable of making long-term strategic investments. The IMF, purposeless, tottering on the brink of insolvency, has been reduced to trying to come up with “best practices” guidelines for fund managers working for governments in Singapore, Seoul, and Abu Dhabi.

There can be no question this time around of freezing out countries like China, India, or even Brazil. The question for capital’s planners, rather, is how to channel these new concentrations of capital in such a way that they reinforce the logic of the system instead of undermining it.

XVI
How can this be done? This is where appeals to universal human values, to common membership in an “international community” come in to play. “We all must pull together for the good of the planet,” we will be told. The money must be reinvested “to save the earth.”

To some degree this was always the G8 line: this is a group has been making an issue of climate change since 1983. Doing so was in one sense a response to the environmental movements of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The resultant emphasis on biofuels and “green energy” was from their point of view, the perfect strategy, seizing on an issue that seemed to transcend class, appropriating ideas and issues that emerged from social movements (and hence coopting and undermining especially their radical wings), and finally, ensuring such initiatives are pursued not through any form of democratic self-organization but “market mechanisms”—to effective make the sense of public interest productive for capitalism.

What we can expect now is a two-pronged attack. On the one hand, they will use the crisis to attempt to reverse the gains of past social movements: to put nuclear energy back on the table to deal with the energy crisis and global warming, or genetically modified foods to deal with the food crisis. Prime Minister Fukuda, the host of the current summit, for example, is already proposing the nuclear power is the “solution” to the global warming crisis, even as the German delegation resists. On the other, and even more insidiously, they will try once again to co-opt the ideas and solutions that have emerged from our struggles as a way of ultimately undermining them. Appropriating such ideas is simply what rulers do: the bosses brain is always under the workers’ hat. But the ultimate aim is to answer the intensification of class struggle, of the danger of new forms of democracy, with another wave of enclosures, to restore a situation where commoners’ attempts to create broader regimes of cooperation are stymied, and people are plunged back into mutual competition.

We can already see the outlines of how this might be done. There are already suggestions that Sovereign Wealth Funds put aside a certain (miniscule) proportion of their money for food aid, but only as tied to a larger project of global financial restructuring. The World Bank, largely bereft of its earlier role organizing dams and pipe-lines across the world, has been funding development in China’s poorer provinces, freeing the Chinese government to carry out similar projects in Southeast Asia, Africa, and even Latin America (where, of course, they cannot effectively be held to any sort of labor or environmental standards). There is the possibility of a new class deal in China itself, whose workers can be allowed higher standards of living if new low wage zones are created elsewhere—for instance, Africa (the continent where struggles over maintaining the commons have been most intense in current decades)—with the help of Chinese infrastructural projects. Above of all, money will be channeled into addressing climate change, into the development of alternative energy, which will require enormous investments, in such a way as to ensure that whatever energy resources do become important in this millennium, they can never be democratized—that the emerging notion of a petroleum commons, that energy resources are to some degree a common patrimony meant primarily to serve the community as a whole, that is beginning to develop in parts of the Middle East and South America—not be reproduced in whatever comes next.

Since this will ultimately have to be backed up by the threat of violence, the G8 will inevitably have to struggle with how to (yet again) rethink enforcement mechanisms. The latest move , now that the US “war on terror” paradigm has obviously failed, would appear to be a return to NATO, part of a reinvention of the “European security architecture” being proposed at the upcoming G8 meetings in Italy in 2009 on the 60th anniversary of NATO’s foundation—but part of a much broader movement of the militarization of social conflict, projecting potential resource wars, demographic upheavals resulting from climate change, and radical social movements as potential military problems to be resolved by military means. Opposition to this new project is already shaping up as the major new European mobilization for the year following the current G-8.

XVII
While the G-8 sit at the pinnacle of a system of violence, their preferred idiom is monetary. Their impulse whenever possible is to translate all problems into money, financial structures, currency flows—a substance whose movements they carefully monitor and control.

Money, on might say, is their poetry—a poetry whose letters are written in our blood. It is their highest and most abstract form of expression, their way of making statements about the ultimate truth of the world, even if it operates in large part by making things disappear. How else could it be possible to argue—no, to assume as a matter of common sense—that the love, care, and concern of a person who tends to the needs of children, teaching, minding, helping them to become decent , thoughtful, human beings, or who grows and prepares food, is worth ten thousand times less than someone who spends the same time designing a brand logo, moving abstract blips across a globe, or denying others health care.

The role of money however has changed profoundly since 1971 when the dollar was delinked from gold. This has created a profound realignment of temporal horizons. Once money could be said to be primarily congealed results of past profit and exploitation. As capital, it was dead labor. Millions of indigenous Americans and Africans had their lives pillaged and destroyed in the gold mines in order to be rendered into value. The logic of finance capital, of credit structures, certainly always existed as well (it is at least as old as industrial capital; possibly older), but in recent decades these logic of financial capital has come to echo and re-echo on every level of our lives. In the UK 97% of money in circulation is debt, in the US, 98%. Governments run on deficit financing, wealthy economies on consumer debt, the poor are enticed with microcredit schemes, debts are packaged and repackaged in complex financial derivatives and traded back and forth. Debt however is simply a promise, the expectation of future profit; capital thus increasingly brings the future into the present—a future that, it insists, must always be the same in nature, even if must also be greater in magnitude, since of course the entire system is premised on continual growth. Where once financiers calculated and traded in the precise measure of our degradation, having taken everything from us and turned it into money, now money has flipped, to become the measure of our future degradation—at the same time as it binds us to endlessly working in the present.

The result is a strange moral paradox. Love, loyalty, honor, commitment—to our families, for example, which means to our shared homes, which means to the payment of monthly mortgage debts—becomes a matter of maintaining loyalty to a system which ultimately tells us that such commitments are not a value in themselves. This organization of imaginative horizons, which ultimately come down to a colonization of the very principle of hope, has come to supplement the traditional evocation of fear (of penury, homelessness, joblessness, disease and death). This colonization paralyzes any thought of opposition to a system that almost everyone ultimately knows is not only an insult to everything they really cherish, but a travesty of genuine hope, since, because no system can really expand forever on a finite planet, everyone is aware on some level that in the final analysis they are dealing with a kind of global pyramid scheme, what we are ultimately buying and selling is the real promise of global social and environmental apocalypse.

XVIII
Finally then we come to the really difficult, strategic questions. Where are the vulnerabilities? Where is hope? Obviously we have no certain answers here. No one could. But perhaps the proceeding analysis opens up some possibilities that anti-capitalist organizers might find useful to explore.

One thing that might be helpful is to rethink our initial terms. Consider communism. We are used to thinking of it as a total system that perhaps existed long ago, and to the desire to bring about an analogous system at some point in the future—usually, at whatever cost. It seems to us that dreams of communist futures were never purely fantasies; they were simply projections of existing forms of cooperation, of commoning, by which we already make the world in the present. Communism in this sense is already the basis of almost everything, what brings people and societies into being, what maintains them, the elemental ground of all human thought and action. There is absolutely nothing utopian here. What is utopian, really, is the notion that any form of social organization, especially capitalism, could ever exist that was not entirely premised on the prior existence of communism. If this is true, the most pressing question is simply how to make that power visible, to burst forth, to become the basis for strategic visions, in the face of a tremendous and antagonistic power committed to destroying it—but at the same time, ensuring that despite the challenge they face, they never again become entangled with forms of violence of their own that make them the basis for yet another tawdry elite. After all, the solidarity we extend to one another, is it not itself a form of communism? And is it not so above because it is not coerced?

Another thing that might be helpful is to rethink our notion of crisis. There was a time when simply describing the fact that capitalism was in a state of crisis, driven by irreconcilable contradictions, was taken to suggest that it was heading for a cliff. By now, it seems abundantly clear that this is not the case. Capitalism is always in a crisis. The crisis never goes away. Financial markets are always producing bubbles of one sort or another; those bubbles always burst, sometimes catastrophically; often entire national economies collapse, sometimes the global markets system itself begins to come apart. But every time the structure is reassembled. Slowly, painfully, dutifully, the pieces always end up being put back together once again.

Perhaps we should be asking: why?

In searching for an answer, it seems to us, we might also do well to put aside another familiar habit of radical thought: the tendency to sort the world into separate levels—material realities, the domain of ideas or “consciousness”, the level of technologies and organizations of violence—treating these as if these were separate domains that each work according to separate logics, and then arguing which “determines” which. In fact they cannot be disentangled. A factory may be a physical thing, but the ownership of a factory is a social relation, a legal fantasy that is based partly on the belief that law exists, and partly on the existence of armies and police. Armies and police on the other hand exist partly because of factories providing them with guns, vehicles, and equipment, but also, because those carrying the guns and riding in the vehicles believe they are working for an abstract entity they call “the government”, which they love, fear, and ultimately, whose existence they take for granted by a kind of faith, since historically, those armed organizations tend to melt away immediately the moment they lose faith that the government actually exists. Obviously exactly the same can be said of money. It’s value is constantly being produced by eminently material practices involving time clocks, bank machines, mints, and transatlantic computer cables, not to mention love, greed, and fear, but at the same time, all this too rests on a kind of faith that all these things will continue to interact in more or less the same way. It is all very material, but it also reflects a certain assumption of eternity: the reason that the machine can always be placed back together is, simply, because everyone assumes it must. This is because they cannot realistically imagine plausible alternatives; they cannot imagine plausible alternatives because of the extraordinarily sophisticated machinery of preemptive violence that ensure any such alternatives are uprooted or contained (even if that violence is itself organized around a fear that itself rests on a similar form of faith.) One cannot even say it’s circular. It’s more a kind of endless, unstable spiral. To subvert the system is then, to intervene in such a way that the whole apparatus begins to spin apart.

XIX
It appears to us that one key element here—one often neglected in revolutionary strategy—is the role of the global middle classes. This is a class that, much though it varies from country (in places like the US and Japan, overwhelming majorities consider themselves middle class; in, say, Cambodia or Zambia, only very small percentages), almost everywhere provides the key constituency of the G8 outside of the ruling elite themselves. It has become a truism, an article of faith in itself in global policy circles, that national middle class is everywhere the necessary basis for democracy. In fact, middle classes are rarely much interested in democracy in any meaningful sense of that word (that is, of the self-organization or self-governance of communities). They tend to be quite suspicious of it. Historically, middle classes have tended to encourage the establishment of constitutional republics with only limited democratic elements (sometimes, none at all). This is because their real passion is for a “betterment”, for the prosperity and advance of conditions of life for their children—and this betterment, since it is as noted above entirely premised on structures of exclusion, requires “security”. Actually the middle classes depend on security on every level: personal security, social security (various forms of government support, which even when it is withdrawn from the poor tends to be maintained for the middle classes), security against any sudden or dramatic changes in the nature of existing institutions. Thus, politically, the middle classes are attached not to democracy (which, especially in its radical forms, might disrupt all this), but to the rule of law. In the political sense, then, being “middle class” means existing outside the notorious “state of exception” to which the majority of the world’s people are relegated. It means being able to see a policeman and feel safer, not even more insecure. This would help explain why within the richest countries, the overwhelming majority of the population will claim to be “middle class” when speaking in the abstract, even if most will also instantly switch back to calling themselves “working class” when talking about their relation to their boss.

That rule of law, in turn, allows them to live in that temporal horizon where the market and other existing institutions (schools, governments, law firms, real estate brokerages…) can be imagined as lasting forever in more or less the same form. The middle classes can thus be defined as those who live in the eternity of capitalism. (The elites don’t; they live in history, they don’t assume things will always be the same. The disenfranchized don’t; they don’t have the luxury; they live in a state of precarity where little or nothing can safely be assumed.) Their entire lives are based on assuming that the institutional forms they are accustomed to will always be the same, for themselves and their grandchildren, and their “betterment” will be proportional to the increase in the level of monetary wealth and consumption. This is why every time global capital enters one of its periodic crises, every time banks collapse, factories close, and markets prove unworkable, or even, when the world collapses in war, the managers and dentists will tend to support any program that guarantees the fragments will be dutifully pieced back together in roughly the same form—even if all are, at the same time, burdened by at least a vague sense that the whole system is unfair and probably heading for catastrophe.

XIX
The strategic question then is, how to shatter this sense of inevitability? History provides one obvious suggestion. The last time the system really neared self-destruction was in the 1930s, when what might have otherwise been an ordinary turn of the boom-bust cycle turned into a depression so profound that it took a world war to pull out of it. What was different? The existence of an alternative: a Soviet economy that, whatever its obvious brutalities, was expanding at breakneck pace at the very moment market systems were undergoing collapse. Alternatives shatter the sense of inevitability, that the system must, necessarily, be patched together in the same form; this is why it becomes an absolute imperative of global governance that even small viable experiments in other ways of organizing communities be wiped out, or, if that is not possible, that no one knows about them.

If nothing else, this explains the extraordinary importance attached to the security services and preemption of popular struggle. Commoning, where it already exists, must be made invisible. Alternatives— Zapatistas in Chiapas, APPO in Oaxaca, worker-managed factories in Argentina or Paraguay, community-run water systems in South Africa or Bolivia, living alternatives of farming or fishing communities in India or Indonesia, or a thousand other examples—must be made to disappear, if not squelched or destroyed, then marginalized to the point they seem irrelevant, ridiculous. If the managers of the global system are so determined to do this they are willing to invest such enormous resources into security apparatus that it threatens to sink the system entirely, it is because they are aware that they are working with a house of cards. That the principle of hope and expectation on which capitalism rests would evaporate instantly if almost any other principle of hope or expectation seemed viable.

The knowledge of alternatives, then, is itself a material force.

Without them, of course, the shattering of any sense of certainty has exactly the opposite effect. It becomes pure precarity, an insecurity so profound that it becomes impossible to project oneself in history in any form, so that the one-time certainties of middle class life itself becomes a kind of utopian horizon, a desperate dream, the only possible principle of hope beyond which one cannot really imagine anything. At the moment, this seems the favorite weapon of neoliberalism: whether promulgated through economic violence, or the more direct, traditional kind.

One form of resistance that might prove quite useful here – and is already being discussed in some quarters – are campaigns against debt itself. Not demands for debt forgiveness, but campaigns of debt resistance.

XX
In this sense the great slogan of the global justice movement, “another world is possible”, represents the ultimate threat to existing power structures. But in another sense we can even say we have already begun to move beyond that. Another world is not merely possible. It is inevitable. On the one hand, as we have pointed out, such a world is already in existence in the innumerable circuits of social cooperation and production in common based on different values than those of profit and accumulation through which we already create our lives, and without which capitalism itself would be impossible. On the other, a different world is inevitable because capitalism—a system based on infinite material expansion—simply cannot continue forever on a finite world. At some point, if humanity is to survive at all, we will be living in a system that is not based on infinite material expansion. That is, something other than capitalism.

The problem is there is no absolute guarantee that ‘something’ will be any better. It’s pretty easy to imagine “other worlds” that would be even worse. We really don’t have any idea what might happen. To what extent will the new world still organized around commoditization of life, profit, and pervasive competition? Or a reemergence of even older forms of hierarchy and degradation? How, if we do overcome capitalism directly, by the building and interweaving of new forms of global commons, do we protect ourselves against the reemergence of new forms of hierarchy and division that we might not now even be able to imagine?

It seems to us that the decisive battles that will decide the contours of this new world will necessarily be battles around values. First and foremost are values of solidarity among commoners. Since after all, every rape of a woman by a man or the racist murder of an African immigrant by a European worker is worth a division in capital’s army.

Similarly, imagining our struggles as value struggles might allow us to see current struggles over global energy policies and over the role of money and finance today as just an opening salvo of an even larger social conflict to come. For instance, there’s no need to demonize petroleum, for example, as a thing in itself. Energy products have always tended to play the role of a “basic good”, in the sense that their production and distribution becomes the physical basis for all other forms of human cooperation, at the same time as its control tends to organize social and even international relations. Forests and wood played such a role from the time of the Magna Carta to the American Revolution, sugar did so during the rise of European colonial empires in the 17th and 18th centuries, fossil fuels do so today. There is nothing intrinsically good or bad about fossil fuel. Oil is simply solar radiation, once processed by living beings, now stored in fossil form. The question is of control and distribution. This is the real flaw in the rhetoric over “peak oil”: the entire argument is premised on the assumption that, for the next century at least, global markets will be the only means of distribution. Otherwise the use of oil would depend on needs, which would be impossible to predict precisely because they depend on the form of production in common we adopt. The question thus should be: how does the anti-capitalist movement peak the oil? How does it become the crisis for a system of unlimited expansion?

It is the view of the authors of this text that the most radical planetary movements that have emerged to challenge the G8 are those that direct us towards exactly these kind of questions. Those which go beyond merely asking how to explode the role money plays in framing our horizons, or even challenging the assumption of the endless expansion of “the economy”, to ask why we assume something called “the economy” even exists, and what other ways we can begin imagining our material relations with one another. The planetary women’s movement, in its many manifestations, has and continues to play perhaps the most important role of all here, in calling for us to reimagine our most basic assumptions about work, to remember that the basic business of human life is not actually the production of communities but the production, the mutual shaping of human beings. The most inspiring of these movements are those that call for us to move beyond a mere challenge to the role of money to reimagine value: to ask ourselves how can we best create a situation where everyone is secure enough in their basic needs to be able to pursue those forms of value they decide are ultimately important to them. To move beyond a mere challenge to the tyranny of debt to ask ourselves what we ultimately owe to one another and to our environment. That recognize that none this needs to invented from whole cloth. It’s all already there, immanent in the way everyone, as commoners, create the world together on a daily basis. And that asking these questions is never, and can never be, an abstract exercise, but is necessarily part of a process by which we are already beginning to knit these forms of commons together into new forms of global commons that will allow entirely new conceptions of our place in history.

It is to those already engaged in such a project that we offer these initial thoughts on our current strategic situation.

Waldo Canyon, Colorado


Sometimes the only thing standing between me and complete despondency is the mountain.
 
My fellow bloggers have endless energy to tackle important issues — homelessness, hunger, war, politics, environment, media, government, healthcare, torture, death. The list is depressing and endless. I admire them, but I am not made of steel like they are. I am more a fragile flower and, when buried under humanity’s toxic waste and cut off from nature’s largesse, I wither very quickly.

For me, the correlation between physical and mental energy is 1:1. So, rather than blog or read the Sunday paper today, I hiked Waldo Canyon!

A bit about the hike:
Heading west on Highway 24, you’ll find the trailhead on the right side just past the Manitou Springs exit. The Waldo Canyon loop is seven miles of easy trekking and amazing views. The scenery, especially the view of Pikes Peak, is the best reason to do this hike. In my opinion, seven miles of easy hiking is about four miles too many. I like to earn my relaxation with a couple miles of sheer hellish exertion.

I suppose if I were a runner — and there were quite a few of them beginning to train for the Pikes Peak Ascent — I might feel differently. Nonetheless, the cool weather, beautiful vistas, and proximity to the serious runner crowd made for an excellent Sunday morning!

Please don’t tell me what world news I’ve missed. Let me just enjoy my tired muscles and slightly sunburned shoulders until I’ve finished sorting my photos. The horrid world can wait for me today.



Support Our Homeless Troops

COLORADO SPRINGS- I watched yesterday as a group of homeless men disbanded beneath an underpass. I remarked how their yet unbent frames and close-shaved heads made them appear more menacing than usual. Then I noticed one had a graphite prosthetic calf, and I thought about our vets who disappear themselves into being vagabonds. Homelessness is elective you could say, like despondency or suicide. If one in four of America’s homeless are veterans, why not tell us what that fraction amounts to? They must know.

Americans were just leaked the number of suicides among our soldiers and veterans. It’s more even than have died in the Iraq war. We hear about the seemingly haphazard suicides, self-destructive acts and reckless endangerments, but who puts it together? Did you imagine the tally as a result of the war would be so high?

Probably the incidence of PTSD, they say now 30%, is equally under-documented. Who will contravene with the VA, the DoD and the State Department to give us the real totals?

Americans recently honored the 4,000th US casualty in Iraq. What was THAT milestone for? The American Friends Service Committee had been circulating a collection of army boots –Eyes Wide Open, before the number became unmanageable– to correspond to the official US losses. It didn’t occur to me how some military families might feel left out by that count. What about the non-combat deaths, or the wounded who expire stateside? What about the suicides, or the brain-dead? What about the broken bodies who would be over-represented by a pair of boots, who would need a single boot, or none at all?

What is the real figure so far, of US lives sacrificed to the war? What fraction of a Vietnam wall memorial are they setting aside for the true casualty count? Enough for ten thousand? Is our tally of wasted-lives several times that?

I want to know where are the yokels who make a big deal about supporting the troops? Where are they while homeless vets look for heat and food? Where is the support for young men haunted to the point of committing suicide? Is that yellow sticker on your car the furthest extent to which you support the troops? Do you hope your sticker remains obscured in the garage until the homeless vets pass?

I hope the yellow ribbon Support the Troops sticker comes to mean you’re good for a meal, a ride, a place to sleep, or spare change for a drink. I didn’t support the troops, what they did and still do, or the trouble they find themselves in now that their killing duty is served. You encouraged them, you’re still welcoming them home and cheering their continued deployment. You broke these young men, now support them.

The minimum wage and Colo Spgs establishment.

You know those signs all over downtown and every park in the city, that say not to give money to panhandlers? Written by people who are supposedly Experts in the area of homelessness.
 
I personally have had people approach me and hand me money. I couldn’t work out a mechanism within my psyche to go up to strangers and ask for any kind of help. But the money came in handy. I bought food with it mostly, fuel for my camp stove, feed the machines at the laundromat to have clean clothes and bedding. I believe that even for the most addicted amongst the homeless, at least some of the money actually goes on their needs and not just cigarettes, whiskey and wild wild women.

So here’s my theory, to have posted around downtown, and maybe even use their fonts and printing style, (not to deliberately mislead them, you understand) but since these posters they have put up are subsidized by the City meaning everybody who has bought non-food items anywhere in the confines of the City, they are legitimately as much our property as the Fascists, right?

Just don’t put anywhere in there that these suggestions, to quickly follow, don’t actually physically originate in their tiny little brains.

Bring their logic forward a few steps, and expose it for what it is.

If somebody is homeless, the consensus is that it is because of mental, emotional or substance problems. The only solution for these problems are for the “outpatients” to seek professional help and counseling. Giving them money or feeding them outside of that sphere of treatment would only enable them to continue in poverty.

So giving them a job, for instance, would give them more money to waste on their habits. So employers who hire them, and don’t insist that they have a permanent address, and don’t insist on screening any and all of their employees for personality disorders, substance abuse and so forth, are harming them rather than helping them.

So the logical conclusion: Hire the homeless, but don’t pay them anything until they get help. That last would seem to be in contradiction of Jesus and Moses said about “If you owe your worker his wages, and you have the pay in hand, you should not let the sun set without paying him” and “a workman is worthy of his hire”.

Which you might think would cause a problem in the “Faith Based Initiative” crowd, but apparently hasn’t made any trouble in their souls yet.

The Marion House soup kitchen is remarkably, in light of the recent condemnation for the Catholic church, one of the least restrictive aid agencies in the city.

Also by publishing my intent to do this before starting, I have a legitimate defense if they come with their “conservative” legalistic whining that it is deceptive and a violation of their intellectual property.