A great many terrible, inspiring, and momentous things have happened since the last issue of Upping the Anti. The articles in this issue were written both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the reader will surely notice the shadow of this global event in all of the work. However, we hope that there is some hope to be found in these pieces, and also in the events of the last 14-plus months since we spoke, dear reader.
It seems as though with every issue released, we list off the advances of imperialism and fascism in the prior months, peppering in small victories where we can find them. The events of 2020 have so often been described as “unprecedented” that it feels, at a minimum, trite to do so here, and perhaps even misleading. Reflecting on the events outlined in the introduction of previous issues, it becomes not only impossible to separate the course of 2020 from other years but politically untenable to do so. While many of us could not have anticipated the emergence of this virus, we can trace its horrific and unequal effects in the events of past years, both on Turtle Island and across the globe.
Rising inequality brought on by the privatization and destruction of health care, and the assault on unions and tenants’ movements have brought the full weight of the pandemic down upon workers who cannot afford even a single sick day without losing income, facing eviction, and falling into the cracks of a crumbling, underfunded healthcare system. The worsening refugee crises in Syria and Yemen and the continuing sale of arms from Canada have kept the government and arms industry afloat, while citizens have been cut loose to fend for themselves. The proliferation of violent right-wing nationalisms all over the world has fomented coup attempts, led to attacks on anti-racist protesters in the streets, and created an atmosphere of abject terror. This is, of course, a small list of the many acute and chronic atrocities we watched unfold at the same time as a global plague.
Still, the past 12 months have been full of revolutionary anger too. The year 2020 began in Canada with nationwide rail blockades in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, and Indigenous struggles from coast to coast. During the early months of the pandemic, we co-presented a webinar with Briarpatch Magazine titled “Policing, Direct Action, and Infiltration: Ten Years since the G20,” featuring Aruna Boodram, Mandy Hiscocks, Syed Hussan, and Irina Ceric. Our aim was to share our stories from this momentous protest and to connect the lessons from 2010 to today. As the pandemic spread into our neighbourhoods, communities sprung up around newly-formed mutual-aid networks, and many for the first time imagined a caring future outside of the state. In the summer months, we saw enormous rallies nearly every week, condemning police violence and anti-Black racism. The idea of abolition became a real political possibility.
While it is sometimes difficult to imagine a different future when we are so firmly in a bleak present, this last year has shown us that the spirit of the people will not be broken.
This issue focuses on the forms of organizing, uprising, and solidarity that, we hope, will get us to a future free from global and local class inequalities, land theft and imperialism, climate crisis, and the violence of racism. We are especially proud of the international scope of this content.
Lesley Wood begins our letters section with a response to our roundtable on the 20th anniversary of the anti-WTO protests in Seattle. Lesley admits that there is a loss of certainty and strategy compared to the movements of 20 years ago, but urges us not to despair, and reminds us how generations of movement leaders emerge in cycles. Renée Nadeau reflects on our Issue 21 article “The Ground Beneath Our Feet,” taking well-warranted issue with movements that aim to “reclaim the commons,” but without an explicit anti-racist and decolonial lens. Lastly, Samantha Ponting responds to “Mining Makes This World Possible,” discussing experiences in Nicaragua, and how it is possible to ban mining.
In our editorial, we take up the notion of mutual aid in relation to both revolutionary and emancipatory projects, as well as the neoliberal state that is all too happy to abrogate its responsibilities to people and communities.
In “Chile’s Social Explosion,” Pamela Arancibia interviews Emilio Dabed and Pablo Vivanco about the recent Chilean uprisings. This discussion offers a historical context for the uprisings by tracing Chile’s labour history, social movements, and political economy to shed light on how this South American country continues to shake the world in its struggle against neoliberalism and state violence. We recently co-hosted a follow-up event with the interview participants titled “Palestine Through Chilean Eyes,” for Israeli Apartheid Week 2021, organized by Students Against Israeli Apartheid at the University of Toronto. In “Fighting to Teach,” Ryan Hayes and Mariful Alam interview Sarah Vance, co-chair of the Toronto District Communications and Political Action Committee, rank-and-file member of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and teacher with the Toronto District School Board. Vance discusses Ontario Education Workers United, the fraught atmosphere in OSSTF concerning recent (and not so recent) strikes, and the importance of pushing union leadership to engage in more radical anti-racist work. Lastly, Alejandro Franco Briones interviews Yásnaya Elena A. Gil, an Ayuujk researcher who carries out her activism in defence of the ancestral territory and her community of origin San Pedro y San Pablo Ayutla, located in the state of Oaxaca in southwestern Mexico.
We are also excited to publish a comic in this issue. “Iconoclasm”—a collaboration between Seth Tobocman and Maxine Allison Vande Vaarst—is the first of a series of comic strips that lay out struggles to topple racist Confederate monuments in the American South.
In the article “Activism in Dark Times,” Adrien Beauduin and Sara Swerdlyk discuss organizing in Hungary against Orbán’s fascist crack-down on trade unions and migrant rights, as well as on universities that take up these issues. Adrien and Sara address these struggles in a discussion with five activists from Budapest active in Hungarian student movements’ anti-fascist organizing, and also discuss electoral coalition tactics that can only be described as “Faustian.” In “Socialism from the Grassroots,” author Ian Liujia Tian outlines how a new critical socialism is developing in China. Tian re-appropriates “socialism” from the hegemonic and centralized state back to the everyday struggles of workers and communities. We are also proud to include an in-depth article by S. Awâsis on Indigenous anarchism. In this piece, Awâsis explores the existence and possibilities of anarchism within Indigenous political thought and practice, and also offers a rich overview of Indigenous resistance and uprisings in Canada and all over the world.
In our first of three roundtables, “British Columbia Fights Back,” Melissa Moroz, Gene McGuckin, Shane Calder, and Bob Wilson sit down with Sharmeen Khan to discuss their reflections on organizing toward a provincial-wide general strike in the early 2000s. In “Global Uprisings and The Left’s Response,” Edward Hon-Sing Wong, Sardar Saadi, and Niloofar Golkar discuss social movements in Hong Kong, Kurdistan, and Iran. They explore the ongoing and urgent need for leftists in the West to accept the challenge of cross-border anti-imperialist solidarity and to align themselves with left struggles outside of the West. Finally, we feature a roundtable with youth organizers from Climate Justice Toronto. Interviewed by Kate Atkinson, this roundtable documents the struggles, politics, and tactics of younger activists including their perspectives on solidarity and their personal journeys as new movement builders.
As always, we end our issue with a reviews section. Stuart Schussler reviews Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism and discusses how the book documents the reach of big tech companies, but stops short of a further critique of the capitalist engine that drives monetization in tech. Adam Rudder reviews Until We Are Free, edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, and Syrus Marcus Ware. Rudder discusses how the collection of writings serves to “complicate Black identity itself,” and other personal reflections on reading the work. Finally, Neil Braganza reviews David McNally’s Blood and Money. Placing Blood and Money in the context of George Floyd’s recent murder, Braganza helps us understand the contemporary consequences of money’s bloody history, which McNally traces from ancient Greece through to the twentieth century.
We hope that in these dark and confusing times, there is some hope to be gained from the insightful pieces we have published here. Our deep gratitude goes out to all our contributors and participants for their revolutionary insights into our joint struggles and their theorization and analyses of movement history and organizing. This issue, like all issues of Upping the Anti, would not have been possible without the advisory board, whose direction guided the diverse range of work in this journal. The editorial board is excited to welcome Nisha Eswaran and Andrew Peters as new members. We would also like to thank those who have helped us copy-edit, this time remotely! Thank you to: Annelies Cooper, Shelagh Pizey-Allen, Suzanne Mulvale, Amelia Spedaliere, Virgilio Partida Peñalva, and Manuel Marques-Bonilla for his help in translation. And, perhaps most importantly, we thank you, our dear readers and subscribers for your continued support, without which Upping the Anti would not have survived over 15 years.
If you value the work that goes into the production of our journal, we ask you to continue supporting us through subscriptions and donations. Like most independent media, the burden of production and distribution falls on a small collective with limited resources available. Every subscription and sustainer makes a real difference in keeping this work alive. Please send us a pitch or ask us how to get involved at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find our submission guidelines, past issues, store, and blog section at uppingtheanti.org. We hope you enjoy Issue 22.
In struggle and solidarity,
Jasmine, Mariful Alam, Devin Clancy, Nisha Eswaran,
Karl Gardner, Niloofar Golkar, Kieran Hart, Sharmeen Khan, Andrew Peters, and Temóc Thania Vega