Introduction

Nicole Cohen, Aidan Conway, Caitlin Hewitt-White, Tom Keefer, Sharmeen Khan, AK Thompson

It’s been a busy seven months for us at Upping The Anti. Not only have we been preparing content for this, our sixth issue, we’ve also participated in a number of events and meetings that have inspired us to think things through in new ways. Some of us attended the Academic Freedom Conference at the University of Toronto to discuss ways of bringing activism into the classroom. Others traveled to the Left Forum in New York City, where we were excited to meet other activists holding study groups on questions of organization and revolutionary politics.

A few months ago, some of us participated in a panel discussion on the legacy of May 1968, where important questions were raised about the relationship between theory and action and the seemingly unbridgeable chasm between those active in struggles and those engaged in sustained intellectual work. These experiences have been important to us and we’ve tried to grapple with them in the editorial for this issue. We would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, and we welcome you to email us at uppingtheanti@gmail.com.

Putting out this issue has been easier than in the past since we increased the size of our editorial committee. Two new comrades, Nicole Cohen and Caitlin Hewitt-White, have joined us and brought much-needed skills and experiences to the project. We would also like to welcome a half dozen new advisory board members from across the US and Canada. We are excited to see Upping the Anti continue to grow and build new connections between activists.

With respect to content for this issue, our letters section builds on the debates regarding the Three Way Fight argument in the last issue. We kick off our interviews section with a lively conversation with Mutula Olugbala (otherwise known as M-1) from the revolutionary hip hop duo Dead Prez. Olugbala speaks about working-class organizing in Florida, his connections to the African revolutionary tradition, and what it means to be an artist and an organizer today.

For more on the organizing front, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz shares insights gained from her years of activity in socialist, feminist, and indigenous movements. She offers her perspective on the land claim struggles in Six Nations, the ways that white working-class communities are being pitted against native communities, and what it would take to affect a meaningful political transformation in the context of colonialism.

It’s been 40 years since the 1968 rebellion in Paris, and while it may be difficult for many of us to imagine living in such a time of global resistance, May ’68 remains an important political reference point with lessons for today. In our third interview, George Katsiaficas tackles the question of remembrance by considering the legacy of May ’68 and the importance of “the Eros effect” for global social movements.

In our articles section, we shift our attention from Parisian student organizing in 1968 to the state of student movements in North America today. Here, we find conflicting perspectives on how best to organize. Our first piece traces the history of the new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which formed on US campuses over the past two years. As organizers Joshua Kahn Russell and Brian Kelly explain, many radical youth envisioned SDS as a space for uniting activists across the country and an organizational vehicle to mobilize a mass movement. While SDS has had some notable successes, they have also faced challenges and made some mistakes along the way. Russell and Kelly assess the journey and offer their suggestions for building a mass revolutionary movement.

In our previous issue, Caelie Frampton argued that radical students in Canada needed a new organizing model. She suggested that the bureaucratic structures of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) limited the ability of activists to organize for meaningful change from below, and that a return to grassroots activism was needed. In this issue, Eric Newstadt responds to Frampton, taking her article to task for what he believes are misrepresentations of the CFS. Rather than critique the organization, he argues, student activists must harness the group’s organizational power, connect it to broader movement struggles, and push for real change in students’ lives. We also publish a brief rejoinder from Frampton to Newstadt, and hope that – as with other exchanges that we have published – other writers will enter the debate in subsequent issues.

In “The Green Scare is Everywhere,” Jeff Monaghan and Kevin Walby assess the seriousness of the crackdown against eco-activists in Canada and the US. Using the example of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, they argue that the harmonization of anti-terrorism policies between the United States and Canada has integrated and intensified surveillance and policing practices. This intensification has implications for activists globally. Solidarity between social movements, they contend, is critical if social justice activists are going up against global capital in the current political climate.

Our roundtables in this issue provide a glimpse into the dynamics of on-the-ground organizing in interconnected local and global contexts. In the first, Kriss Sol speaks to activists Hanne Jobst from Germany, Sabu and Go from Japan, Miranda from Italy, and Jaggi Singh from Montreal about their experiences organizing against the G8. Together, they offer a range of compelling perspectives on tactics and approaches, as well as an important assessment of anti-globalization struggles since September 11, 2001. In the second roundtable, we go to Canada’s east coast, where Alex Khasnabish brings together activists from the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty (HCAP). HCAP organizers Jill Ratcliffe, Capp Larsen, Angela Weal, Susan Lefort, and Cole Webber, and HCAP advocate James Babbitt discuss the challenges and opportunities they face as they engage in anti-poverty organizing in a Maritime city with a unique history of racial and class formation.

We conclude this issue with a packed reviews section. First, David Calnitsky critically assesses Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which has been getting much attention in both the left and mainstream press. We then turn to two important anthologies produced by radical feminist of colour organization INCITE!. Alexis Shotwell engages the intersectional politics and practices explored in Color of Violence and Chris Keefer examines The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex in order to consider the limitations of non-profit organizations in the Canadian context. Finally, Scott Neigh looks to some of the anti-racist and anti-capitalist uses to which Grace-Edward Galabuzi’s Canada’s Economic Apartheid: The Social Exclusion of Racialized Groups in the New Century might be put.

This would not be a proper introduction to the journal if we did not remind you, dear reader, to send us money. For while it is the richness of debate and analysis on these pages that keeps us inspired, it is money that enables us to send these pages to the printer. Please visit us online at www.uppingtheanti.org, where you can take out a lifetime subscription or simply make a donation to ensure that we can keep having these conversations.

In solidarity and struggle,
Nicole Cohen, Aidan Conway, Caitlin Hewitt-White, Tom Keefer, Sharmeen Khan, AK Thompson
Toronto, April 2008