From the Introduction of Issue 10
Five years isn’t a long time. In the history of struggle, it’s barely a blip. Radicals learn early that, if we’re not in it for the long haul, we’re not really in it at all. But for a radical grassroots publication like ours with no external funding, a volunteer editorial team, and an ambitious mandate of rigorous analysis and broad coverage, five years is quite an accomplishment. Although other radical publishing projects have recently fallen by the wayside, we’ve managed – incontrovertibly – to thrive. For this reason, we’re pleased to bring you Issue 10 of Upping the Anti.
When we started UTA in 2005, we could only guess at the resonance that a forum such as ours would have. We envisioned it as a space to critically assess the interwoven tendencies that define the politics of today’s radical left: anti-capitalism, anti-oppression, and anti-imperialism. We believed that, although they were inexact in their proclamations, these “antis” pointed toward a radical politics outside of the party-building exercises of the sectarian left and the dead end of social democracy. Judging from our growing subscription base and the increasing number of pitches and international inquiries we receive (not to mention the fruitfulness of our interactions with authors and readers), it seems that many others agree.
Because the current political period is fraught with difficulties, many radicals seem to recognize that it’s increasingly necessary to scrutinize our prevailing assumptions. And, while it’s never easy to step away from day-to-day activist work to engage in analysis, UTA has managed to become a dynamic space where organizers converge to discuss, debate, and devise movement strategies.
In Issue 10, contributors once again examine the vicissitudes of the current political moment. We begin with a series of letters submitted in response to the content of Issue 9. As always, these responses reveal gaps in analysis and illuminate the challenges of inter-movement dialogue. As editors, we have always conceived of this section of the journal as a unique space in which to develop habits of activist correspondence and analytic exchange, so please feel free to join the conversation!
In our Editorial, we highlight the opportunity for anti-capitalist mobilization that arose with the financial crisis of 2008 and ask the urgent question: did we miss it? As we watch capitalism reinvent itself, we’re forced to come to terms with the fact that the left has lost the initiative and, for the most part, has adopted defensive postures. For radicals who want more than the preservation of past gains, this conjuncture demands that we carefully consider both our priorities and our strategies. In order to orient to this question, we refer to the lessons of BC’s Solidarity movement in the 1980s and the Days of Action against the Ontario Tories in the mid-90s.
Kicking off our interviews section, Sharmeen Khan, David Hugill, and Tyler McCreary engage with well-known feminist activist and scholar Andrea Smith as she highlights the importance of “unlikely alliances” to movement building. Next, Chandra Kumar speaks with Patrick Bond about the challenges and possibilities confronting the climate justice movement. We conclude with Robyn Maynard’s discussion with Jessica Yee and Nandita Sharma as they consider sex work, migration, anti-trafficking, and Indigenous struggles.
In our articles section, AK Thompson assesses activist responses to Avatar and proposes that, rather than dismissing the film, our political objectives are better realized by highlighting the promise that mainstream audiences identified in it. Next, Tom Keefer critiques Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard’s claims in Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry and shows how Marxism and indigenism can mutually inform common struggles against capitalism. In our final article for this issue, Antonis Vradis and Dimitrios Dalakoglou explore the aftermath of the Greek revolt of 2008 and assess its impact and significance for ongoing struggles around the right to the city.
Our roundtables begin with Nicole Cohen’s discussion of the challenges of radical publishing with participants from Left Turn, Canadian Dimension, The Dominion, Briarpatch, and Z Communications. Next, Samir Shaheen-Hussain brings together a group of former police trainees and officers who have quit the force and are now engaged in working against police repression. Our final roundtable, convened by Kelly Fritsch, considers the new wave of student occupations on US campuses and their implications for how we understand social change.
In our reviews section, Jerome Klassen examines the relationship between imperialism and Canadian foreign policy in Yves Engler’s Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy. Next, Pat Harewood tackles David Austin’s important collection You Don’t Play With Revolution: The Montreal lectures of C.L.R. James and Noaman Ali considers John Saul’s Revolutionary Traveler. In our final review, Sara Falconer discusses Safiya Bukhari’s The War Before.
On the housekeeping front, we would like to extend our thanks to Christopher Dobbie, who helped to redesign our website at http://www.uppingtheanti.org. PDF versions of all our articles are online and available to all subscribers. The site has been re-organized so as to provide a better and more accessible archive of our content.
We would also like to welcome Thomas Nail, Shelley Tremain, and David Shulman to our advisory board, and thank Gary Kinsman and Danielle O’Hearn for their contributions to the project.
Enjoy the issue! We look forward to your letters, submissions, and support.
In solidarity and struggle,
Aidan Conway, Kelly Fritsch, David Hugill,
Tom Keefer, Chandra Kumar,
Clare O’Connor, AK Thompson
Toronto, May 2010