When the editors of Punk Planet recently became the latest in a long line of ruffians to close the doors on their radical publishing venture, they tried to soothe us by saying: “the fight is now yours.” Agreed. But it’s getting kind of lonely around here. It’s not that people all over the world have failed to express their support or encourage us to keep on doing what we do. And on a gut level we know that – even though we sometimes don’t hear from you for a long time – you still want us. You’re not fickle. You want to read us, argue with us, photocopy us, and throw us at your landlord. And all of this is good. But none of it means we’ll be able to continue publishing. For that we need money.
You’ve heard it before. But it’s become increasingly difficult to operate without the funds owed to us by distributors who have yet to pay up for previous issues. Rest assured, it’s not like we want to break up or anything. We just want to make sure the relationship is equal. So here’s our promise: we’ll keep putting out UT A if you pay what you owe. It’s a leap of faith. And it’s what keeps us going.
In the meantime, it’s important to not lose sight of the reason we do this in the first place. And so, like in every issue, UT A 5 begins with a lively letters section. Here, our readers sound off on themes raised in the previous edition and provide additional insights into our ever-evolving political world. Immediately following the letters section is our editorial, in which we try to deal with the historic difficulties that radicals have had in dealing with social democracy.
In the context of looming federal election we discuss the conundrum facing anti-capitalist actists: “while social democracy is organizationally and politically weaker than ever, it remains strong enough to subvert attempts by radical activists to build the alternatives we need.” We examine three different perspectives developed by contemporary anti-capitalists to respond to the challenges posed by social democracy before making some suggestions of our own.
In our interviews section, we’re pleased to present a discussion with Sunera Thobani in which she recounts her experiences in the Canadian women’s movement and provides an assessment of feminist organizing today. In a frank discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary indigenous struggles, our next interview features Gord Hill taking the Assembly of First Nations to task for their opportunistic handling of the June 29th Indigenous Day of Action. Hill also explores the resources that activists can draw from anti-colonial theorists like Frantz Fanon. Our final interview is with Michael Hardt, who presents an argument that movement theorizing must begin from the standpoint of resistance.
Our articles section begins with Macdonald Stainsby’s investigation into the ecological devastation caused by the “development” of the Alberta tar sands. In his contribution, Stainsby draws the connections between this massive oil and energy project and the new round of trade agreements currently aiming to reshape capital and labour flows throughout North America. Pointing to the ominous implications of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, Stainsby concludes with an assessment of the forces that could stage an effective resistance to the new global energy order and the tar sands mega-projects.
In our next article, activist and student organizer Caelie Frampton puts forward a critical assessment of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and highlights the need for a new model of organizing on campuses. After cataloguing the ways in which the CFS has stifled militant initiatives from below, Frampton draws on the experience of mobilizations at Simon Fraser University and elsewhere to propose a new way forward.
Our articles section concludes with an important debate between Michael Staudenmaier and Rami El-Amine on the orientation of the North American anti-war movement. In his contribution, which was originally presented as a talk at the 2007 National Conference on Organized Resistance in Washington DC, Staudenmaier argues that activists need to recognize the essentially right-wing and authoritarian dimensions of groups like Hezbollah in order to devise a meaningful orientation to the struggle. Drawing on the paradigm of the “three way fight,” Staudenmaier proposes that supporting opposition to US imperialism must not be confused with supporting the resistance as it is currently constituted. Arguing against Staudenmaier’s position, El-Amine points to the difficulty of characterizing groups like Hezbollah as fascist or proto-fascist. Refuting the premises of the three way fight perspective, El-Amine encourages us to recognize the nuances within the Islamic resistance and argues that the left’s narrow understanding of globalization and imperialism inhibits effective organizing.
Although we have reservations about both perspectives, the editors felt it was important to present these pieces as an example of the kind of debate we’d like to see become a more regular feature of our movement. We are especially pleased by the engaged and provocative tone of the contributions and hope they will inspire ongoing dialogue in our letters section and elsewhere.
In our roundtable section, we interview political prisoner Robert ‘Seth’ Hayes and former political prisoner Ashanti Alston – as well as defense lawyer Susan Tipograph and solidarity activist Sara Falconer – in order to discuss the situation of political prisoners in North America. Important topics addressed in the roundtable include: the possibilities of building connections between political prisoners from the late ‘60s and those recently arrested under the auspices of the green scare, the need to connect political prisoners with communities on the outside from whom they can draw support, and the continuity of struggle for those moving from outside to inside the prison system.
Our reviews section begins with Chris Harris exploring the history of the Black Power movement. In his assessment of John BraceyandMuhammadAhmad’sWeWillReturnintheWhirlwind, Harris considers how the lessons of the 1960s and ’70s can guide Black liberation movements in Canada today.
Anna Feigenbaum continues our reviews section by engaging with the newly re-released editions of Ward Churchill’s and Peter Gelderloos’ texts on the limitations of activist pacifism. Revisiting some of the key arguments in Pacifism as Pathology and H ow N onviolence Protects the S tate, Feigenbaum proposes that recent developments in activist practice suggest that militants are beginning to move beyond the violence/non-violence dichotomy in which they have been trapped for so long.
Our reviews section concludes with Matthew Lyons assessing the strengths and weaknesses of April Rosenblum’s essay addressing anti-Semitismontheleft.AcknowledgingthatThePastDidn’tGo Anywhere offers important insights into the uses to which anti- Semitism has been put in the maintenance of exploitative relations, Lyons points out Rosenblum’s failure to take into account the differences between ethnic hierarchies in Europe and North America.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Upping the Anti and find it provocative and engaging. We look forward to your letters and subscription requests. We are pleased that many of you have decided to become lifetime subscribers and we encourage more of you to do so in the future. If you are not yet a subscriber but are interested in becoming one, please consult our subscription ad at the front of this issue or check our website where you can buy subscriptions or make donations online.
We are also pleased to announce some new developments in our project, including our new URL: http://uppingtheanti.org. Not only is this new address a response to the difficulty we have sometimes had when trying to explain how to find our cumbersome previous location (http://auto_sol.tao.ca), it also reflects an organizational transformation.
Once upon a time, Upping the Anti was a working group of the now defunct Autonomy and Solidarity network. Although we’ve not given up on the possibility of rebuilding such a network in the future, we had to acknowledge that the relationship between the two projects had become inverted. So rather than continuing to be the tail that wagged the dog, we thought it was important to formalize the autonomy of Upping the Anti.
While the new website will honour the legacy of Autonomy & Solidarity and continue to feature activist news, radical takes on current events, and “resource pages” that closely follow contemporary struggles, it will foreground UT A content and information. One of our goals is to put articles previously published in the journal on the site in downloadable PDF templates that can be easily copied for local distribution by activist groups and individuals. We hope this will increase our ability to engage with a broader audience.
So here’s to autonomy, solidarity, and five more issues of Upping the Anti. Here’s to lifetime subscribers and reasons to keep on fighting. Send us money to keep us going. And we promise to send you blueprints, manifestos, and words of encouragement.
In Solidarity and Struggle,
Aidan Conway,Tom K eefer, Sharmeen Khan,AK Thompson
Toronto, October, 2007