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The State

CAFA and the “Edu-Factory”

Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis

For about twenty years our relation to the edu-factory has been shaped primarily by the experience we made first as teachers in African universities (George at the University of Calabar from 1983 through 1987, Silvia at the University of Port Harcourt from 1984 through 1986) and later as members of CAFA (Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa), an organization we helped to found after returning to the U.S.

Teaching in Nigeria was a life-changing experience at many levels. These were years in which the country’s social and political life was undergoing a historic change, under the impact of the “debt crisis,” of prolonged negotiations with the IMF and, along with them, the introduction of the first austerity plans. The universities were at the center of this process and the resistance to it, both because of the intense debate and anti-IMF mobilization they generated and because, from an early start, they were one of the main targets of the cuts in public funds that were introduced in the name of paying the debt.

Already by 1984, on many campuses, student protests --against the cuts of student allowances and the repression of student activism--were the order of the day. By 1986, when the government implemented the first structural adjustment program (publicized however as a “homegrown” measure), the confrontation between students and government had become open and the student movement was more and more repressed by force. At least 30 students were massacred on May 5, 1986 in response to a peaceful demonstration on the campus of Ahmadu Bello University (Zaria). By the time we left Nigeria, the universities, when not shut down, were battlefields, as the students, soon in collaboration with teachers’ unions, became one of the main opposition forces to structural adjustment and the dismantling of public education demanded by the World Bank.

Having seen our students beaten, tear-gassed, expelled, it was inevitable that on returning to the US we would organize around education in Africa. We founded CAFA, in 1991, together with other colleagues, who, like us, had left the country because they found it difficult to continue to work there under the new SAP regime. Our objective was both to mobilize students and teachers in North America in support of the student/teachers struggles on the African campuses, and to denounce the World Bank’s program for education in Africa. It was clear, in fact, that the attack on the schooling system carried out through World Bank-designed SAPs, was part of a broader attack on African workers, and what many in Africa defined as a re-colonization project.

Politicizing Sadness

Colectivo Situaciones

More than five years after the insurrection of that Argentine December
of 2001 we bear witness to the changing interpretations and moods around
that event. For many of us sadness was the feeling that accompanied a
phase of this winding becoming. This text rescues a moment in the
elaboration of "that sadness" in order to go beyond the notions of
"victory and defeat" that belong to that earlier cycle of politicization
which centered on taking state power, and, at the same time, in order to
share a procedure that has allowed us to "make public" an intimate
feeling of people and groups.

Sadness arrived after the event: the political fiesta — of languages,
images, and movements — was followed by a reactive, dispersive dynamic.
And, along with it, there arrived what was later experienced as a
reduction of the capacities of openness and innovation that the event
brought into play. The experience of social invention (which always also
implies the invention of time) was followed by a moment of normalization
and the declaration of "end of the fiesta." According to Spinoza,
sadness consists in being separated from our powers (potencias). Among
us political sadness often took the form of impotence and melancholy in
the face of the growing distance between that social experiment and the
political imagination capable of carrying it out.

A vote for anarchy

Julian Baggini

The political philosopher Jacques Rancière would like to encourage the disruption of the normal order that is real democracy. Julian Baggini hears his campaign

If you rage against the growth of consumerist individualism, the dumbing down of education in the name of widening participation or the shallow hedonism of modern life, you're probably just expressing a deep-rooted hatred of democracy. That's the provocative thesis of Jacques Rancière, one of France's leading political philosophers, who challenges head on the tendency of leftist intellectuals to combine a professed concern for the masses with a haughty dismissal of virtually everything the masses actually think or do.

You'd be in good company, though. Rancière claims that hatred of democracy - a phrase he uses as the title of his latest book - is as old as politics itself. "I got my idea of democracy from Plato, from the greatest critic of democracy," he says in his staccato, effervescent English. "Plato would say democracy is the drawing of lots, the government of chance."

But what Plato saw as the horror of democracy was really its great virtue. Democracy is, says Rancière, the denial that there is any natural social order or hierarchy that determines who should rule over whom. In this way, it is close to anarchy.

J.D. Suss writes:

Underdog Reaction to Attacks on America
Jonathan D. Suss

Underdogs across America, those less enamored of the conventional American dream, must surely have seen the September 11 attacks differently than those tough-talking, flag-waving patriots popularly portrayed in the media. Not that the outrage was any less. But to underdogs the events and reactions since that day have conveyed deeper meanings.

To underdogs, the red, white and blue now symbolize a National Security State. Thus, the patriotic fervor stirred up by the attacks represents a misguided emotionalism built upon myths of American liberty and democracy – myths that are perhaps more telling of an earlier age. For America has long since lost its innocence. And in a complacency born of plenty, the character of the nation has been steadily eroding into self-indulgence. Self-righteous beliefs in our superior way of life, our super-power government, and our supposed role as world guardian of democracy, persist in the face of an irresponsible form of freedom at home, fueled by the trance-like influence of a corporate military-industrial/info-entertainment complex. And so patriotic sloganeering that seeks to resurrect past glories falls on increasingly dubious ears. Most of it sounds to me like ignorance parading in its own delusion. Monied interests now rule here in a bureaucratic government headed up mostly by the same weak-of-character, carbon-copy elitists that can now be found everywhere – in business, the media, the academy, science and the arts.

I am less a citizen of the United States of America than I am an inhabitant of the North American continent Native Americans call Turtle Island. The outrage of the attacks is found in the violence it has done to our sense of this place as our collective home. It upsets the cultural ecology of our belongingness in this space, a space not welcome to yet more invaders. All oppressed people have experienced this invasion displacement. For example, the Native Americans, Palestinians, Zulu, Vietnamese, Jews, Roma – all must have felt this frustrated rage at being deprived of the integrity of place. Americans, just now experiencing this same disabling sense of helplessness, act as if they are the first to ever suffer such an indignity, or they project an overly indignant air that such a calamity should befall a people of such privilege. It sickens one to witness the misplaced, over-inflated pride that feeds public discourse on TV talk shows, the Internet, and in call-in radio programs. One only hopes that having now been bruised, the wakened U.S. giant might start empathizing more with the real world. But, for now, underdogs can only howl.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"Decline of the American Empire"

John Chuckman

The rise now of China, Japan, Europe, and others – India, Korea, and to some extent Russia and Brazil – means the United States must be relatively diminished on the world stage, much as an only child whose mother just gave birth to quintuplets.

The United States is loosing its capacity as supplier of many useful things to the world. This role is being seized by China and others. The American working class, which briefly achieved the status of world's working-class aristocracy after World War II — industrial workers who enjoyed homes, cars, long vacations, and even boats — has seen real wages declining for many years. It works against rising competitors who can now deliver the benefits of their much lower costs to the world owing to the phenomenon of globalization. American manufacturing jobs are moving to the lower-cost places, replaced at home if at all by relatively low-wage service jobs.

"All Quiet on the Eastern Front"


Victims of the Israeli bombing of Qana, Lebanon, July 24, 2006 (Photo: Tyler Ricks)


for the ghostly bodies showing through the plastic wrap. No words for the faces of despair and elation bubbling
from the TV screen, faces of hatred and madness and dedication to death, faces that have had the truth of
“collateral damage” played out to them over the cell-phone videos even before the sound of the drone has faded.


No one who witnessed the moral bankruptcy of the media during the Iraq campaign can be left with the least
illusion about the world the networks show us. But something is shifting in the pattern of image dissemination.
The reality of “statecraft” and “deterrence” is more and more on view. And it is a reality that lies at the heart of
modernity. For more than a century, modernity and state terror from the air – modernity and mass civilian
death – have been mutually constitutive terms. But never before so instantly, so vividly, so ubiquitously.


“Our federal government,” says Donald Rumsfeld, “is really only beginning to adapt its operations to the 21st
century. Today we're engaged in the first war in history – unconventional and irregular as it may be – in an era of
e-mails, blogs, cell phones, Blackberrys, Instant Messaging, digital cameras, a global Internet with no inhibitions,
hand-held videocameras, talk radio, 24-hour news broadcasts, satellite television. There's never been a war
fought in this environment before.” (Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, 17 February 2006)
It is all so unfair, sighs the Torturer-in-Chief. It makes our Terror indistinguishable from theirs.

Bani writes

A letter from Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner from Iran.
Saturday, August 05, 2006

There is a very important matter I would like to discuss with you. I conduct my human rights activities through the Defender of Human Rights Center (DHRC). I am the president of this center and we have three important responsibilities:

a. We report the violations of human rights that take place in Iran.

b. We defend political prisoners pro bono -- about 70% of the political prisoners in Iran are clients of our center and we do not charge them for our services.

c. We support the families of these prisoners both financially --if they require financial aid -- and spiritually.

This center is a member of the International Federation for Human Rights(FIDH) and has been registered there. It has also been awarded a human rights prize by the Human Rights National Commission in France. This center is very well known and credible in Iran. Two days ago the government of Iran announced that this center is illegal and provided we continue our activities, they shall arrest us. Of course me and the other members of the center do not intend to shut down the center and we shall continue our activities. However, there is a high possibility that that they will arrest us. The government's action in this regard is illegal.

Therefore, I kindly request that you broadcast this message by all mean and gather spiritual support for our center. This center has been established and working for more than four years now. I believe this decision of the government has been triggered by my memoir being published. In any case, I am happy that my memoir has been published, for the truth must be told.

Many thanks,

Shirin Ebadi

kolya abramsky writes: "This is a call by Paul Gipe,
a leading expert in community controlled wind energy (see http://www.wind-works.org/ ."

"Impeach, Convict, Arrest, & Imprison George W. Bush"

Paul Gipe

It’s imperative that we, the American people, stop George W. Bush from starting another war. This time he has his sights set on Iran and, as in Iraq, the intelligence is being fixed around the policy. Worse, Bush is threatening use of nuclear weapons. Has he gone mad? Will he plunge us into a worldwide nuclear war?

Our course is clear. The House must impeach George W. Bush, and the Senate must convict him for a long list of criminal acts that fall under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution for “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

Police Raid Collective Farm Novy Put

by Krog, Autonomous Action

From Anarkismo

The collective farm "Novy Put'" ("New Way") is located in
village Bochevo, 270 km far from Saint Petersburg in
Boksitogorsk District of Leningrad region near the border of
Novgorod region, 30 km away from the district center that is
Boksitogorsk. The nearest store is situated 10 km far from
the farm. The nearby road is not asphalted. The collective
farm is an anarchist commune and an ecological settlement.

On April 17th, 2006 at 17 PM approximately the collective
farm was visited by three local policemen led by
detective-in-chief Petrov. The policemen were looking for
two anarchists who had come to the collective farm to take
part in the agricultural works. However, there was only one
anarchist in the collective farm at the time, because the
other one had left two days before. The policemen informed
the anarchist in a straight manner that their visit is
connected with the future G8 summit in Saint Petersburg.

They demanded from anarchist to take a black flag off the
roof of the building, proclaiming that "Some locals may
understand it wrong way and burn down the house". It's
necessary to note, that communarians have good relationship
with local citizens. Thus the anarchist understood that as a
threat from the cops and agreed to take off the flag in
order not to let down the farm's owners (note: the
conversation between the anarchist and the cops passed
without any witnesses). Then the cops demanded if anarchists
had any of their literature or periodicals on the farm.

After the anarchist refused to answer this question, cops,
without any warrant or sanction from public prosecutor,
broke into the house and confiscated the collection of
anarchist periodicals dating from 1992 to 2006. After that,
the periodicals were taken to the side of the road on the
eyes of the communarians. Then the periodicals were burned
along with the flag. The communarians tried to prevent this
act of despotism, but the policemen demonstrated their guns
and threatened to gun down the farm dogs. The cops also told
that if anarchists would erect the black flag again, they
will get imprisoned for 15 days. After an objection about
illegality of their actions, one of policemen declared, that
"no law is written for them". It is also important to note,
that along with burned documents there was some part of
private correspondence of one of the communarians with Dutch
comrade Bas Morel. Part of the obliterated documentation had
nothing to do with anarchism and politics in a whole.
After making sure that the documents were fully obliterated,
the cops left. Immediately one of communarians sent writs to
local court, office of public prosecutor and to the head of
local police.

Bill Templer writes:

"Al-Nakba Day"

Bill Templer

Monday May 15 is al-Nakba Day, the day commemorating the Palestinian ‘catastrophe’ of the loss of their land and expulsion in May 1948. This is the most emotional day in the Palestinian calendar. And there will be demonstrations by Jews and Palestinians together, to mark that commemoration of destruction. Like the Israeli activists at zochrot (Remembering), protesting against the crimes of their country at its birth: here.

A strong article by Eitan Bronstein on the Nakba and Israeli reception of it is timely reading today: here.

The site Palestine Remembered has many excellent materials about the Palestine-Israel conflict and especially the war and its ‘ethnic cleansing’ in 1948.


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