US, Virginia: protesters against deportations blocking access road to detention centre arrested “The annual average of deportations increased to near 400,000 since President Barack Obama took power in 2009.”
US, Bloomington: angry demo publicising death of homeless guy in sub-zero temperatures “Participants in the march disabled several dozen parking meters, wrote graffiti, paint-bombed banks, popped tires, and distributed hundreds of fliers about Ian’s death, homelessness, and policing in Bloomington. Participants also took the opportunity to run into several yuppie restaurants and rain fliers on the passive diners…. the city has recently announced that the revenue from new parking meters will fund downtown police foot-patrols and new surveillance cameras.”
US, California: $1m. worth of stuff looted from posh house party “More than 100 people were estimated to have attended the party, held at a vacant, fully furnished La Habra Heights mansion that had been put on the market by the owner. The damage and thievery amount to at least $1 million”…San Jose: prisoners go on hunger strike over visitation misery (lasts a week)
storm the skybox
Crowds cheer as a bottle deflates TV screen after defeat of St Louis’ Cardinals
US, California: another insufficient protest against another cop murder of yet another teenager……Verizon workers on wildcat sympathy strike……Florida: pro-immigration sit-down protest blocks traffic…..Rhode Island: students force abandonment of New York Police Commissioner’s speech
US, New York: Wanksy “graffiti” graffitied again – “We don’t need more rats”…New Hampshire: Christians graffiti Republican Party
USA, New York: Wanksy gets out-graffitied …taking the piss out of the piss artist…also, see some of the comments after this article – in particular, this: “3 weeks ago a 29 year old got over 3 months in prison for graffiti. (see this: http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2013/09/08/Jailed-for-graffiti-mischief-29yearold-man-sentenced-to-more-than-three-years-in-jail.aspx? ) but this is nothing compared with what happened about a month ago – in Florida, I think – when a teenage graffiti tagger got tasered to death by the cops. This stupid sick society knows how to co-opt aesthetic graffiti and take out what was a little subversive in it by turning it all into Art, with Banksy laughing his way to the bank. One law for the rich, another for the poor – surpise surprise. One law for the artist another for those who don’t want to pretend to be “creative” in socially acceptable ways.”
Many of these so-called strikes are merely workers being instructed to picket a place, walk into it for 10 minutes or so, then walk out again, get transported to another site and repeat the same palava all over again. There are loads of stewards in orange jackets marshalling them and in many places when it rains, the whole of the picket put on the same jackets. The banners are official banners and usually any hastily scrawled banner is disallowed. Many of them are paid to demonstrate (though whether they’re paid above the pitiful minimum wage is doubtful). Usually whenever some minor independent initiative is suggested – like saying they go into a fast food joint immediately – this is put off until the officials ratify it – or not.
This is essentially a show. The manipulations of the union hierarchy are there to promote its agenda, using the genuine needs of the workers as pawns in their game. The SEIU (Service Employees International Union) is NOT building a movement to organize workers and fight bosses. Its aim is to boost its own negotiating power, to boost the Union not the struggle – to supersize its coffers.
Instead of a ‘march on the boss’ directed towards the corporations robbing workers daily, rather this is a ‘march on the media’ where the strikes serve as the visuals in a narrative of worker protest crafted by professional media consultants. Actions are scripted and run by the staff (themselves young, overworked, underpaid and working to meet difficult mobilization quotas) and the ultimate shots are called by officials in Washington, DC, not spontaneously by workers from below like the picture painted would lead you to believe.
When important shifts in the public direction of the campaign were made workers involved were instructed to state publicly “the workers made this decision.” A national conference was held in Detroit August 15-16 by the campaign with 7-800 attendees from the core cities of the campaign, a large number being campaign staff as well. Here workers were guided through a rapid fire pep rally, where they were handed a pre-written agenda and presented with the pre-packaged plan of the August 29 strike as the only decision of the meeting. No further discussion of the direction of the campaign was had. As one worker who was involved the past strikes and who attended the conference as a member of the staff selected steering committee said, that this is when they realized “maybe this isn’t our movement, but this is really their [SEIU’s] movement.”
Their aim is to move towards a range of legislative efforts including state ballot initiatives allowing cities and counties to set their own minimum wage. Another potential direction might be a combination of both employer agreements and legislation such as previous efforts of unions to raise wages through legislation but which exempted workers covered by union agreements. Another factor is that Obama recently announced plans to introduce a bill to increase the federal minimum wage. I think it’s hard to believe it coincidental that SEIU, one of the largest contributors to Obama’s 2012 reelection, unfolded the campaign just in time to deliver the legislative effort a ready-made support base.
Only when struggle is self-directed does it not lead to demoralisation: the lessons learnt, the mistakes made, are “owned” by those struggling themselves and so can be corrected. But when it’s all just a ploy to bolster the Democrat Party and the Union bureaucracy, it can only lead nowhere.
See also this.
USA, Alaska: cells flooded as prisoners smash toilets etc….Oklahoma: vandals critique miseducation system ok…Oakland: solidarity demo with Californian prisoners’ hunger strike blocks state building (more here) … Utah: tar sands project subverted by environmentalists…Berkeley: tent camp protest at Post Office
USA, California: 1 million dollars worth of sabotage of phone and radio mast…USA: fast food workers on wildcat strike (it should be pointed out that some of these strikes – at least in St.Louis – have been organised by rank and file members of the Democrat Party and much of the autonomy has been undermined by them)…California: surfin’ ‘n’ riotin’ USA
USA, Los Angeles: 3rd night of protests against Zimmerman verdict, traffic stopped, windows broken, Wal-Mart raided; freeway blocked in SF Bay Area…most official organisers plea for peace at same time as chanting “no justice – no peace”….
Oakland, this morning
USA, San Francisco: 7 arrested in pro-Gezi land occupation (more detailed information here)
US, New Orleans: gentrifiers trashed…Seattle: mayday protest takes on cops (more here) … same in Washington DC (demonstrators take the piss out of US nazis)… New York: arbitrary arrests near Tompkins Square Park (more here)
Other texts on this site about aspects of the USA
ferguson… This is linked to in the chronology as well
some musical notes (2005/2008) Although this is not exclusively about US music, it emphasises the back American roots of much music, and includes a brief history of the blues, of gospel, something on soul and especially James Brown, stuff about Rap, and about Muzak, etc.
moore is less (2004) A text about Michael Moore´s “Fahrenheit 9/11”
kamikaze kapitalism (2003) Written just at the start of the US bombing of Iraq
science: the myths of DNA…(1991) This is a reproduction of pages 58 – 104 of R.C.Lewontin’s “Biology as Ideology”, published in 1991. R.C.Lewontin is an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist, academic and social commentator. Its central focus is a critique of the Human Genome Project which was funded primarily by the US state and completed in 2003.
the montgomery bus boycott -1955-6 (1978) An excellent account of this taken from Chapter 17 of Charles Denby’s “Indignant Heart – A Black Worker’s Journal” (1978), which shows, amongst other insights, how the boycott was fairly spontaneous and independently-organised at the beginning and how the NAACP (despite their current re-written falsified history of these events) was very reluctant to get involved.
news of disalienation (1973) This text, mainly about the social movements in the USA at the beginning of the 1970s, was written by Jon Horelick, a former member of the Situationist International (American section).
For the latest information about events and actions in the USA, “It’s Going Down” is a good source, despite its typical American eclecticism and often a confusion which, in part, comes from a resistance to theoretical development and the need to consider that your point of view should result in decisions about what genuinely contributes to a social movement and what is an obstacle to its development.
The Wolf Report has some interesting takes on the US – like this “light-hearted” suggestion that Trump might encourage a coup à la Erdogan
Significant texts about the USA on other sites
January 21st, 2017, note: this is a “work in progress” and very much incomplete
Political repression beyond the baton – on the interaction between hard and soft repression during the Occupy Oakland movement of 2011, including the element of self-sabotage played within the occupation movement itself.