January-February 2012 issue of News & Letters now available on the web

January 29, 2012


Protests began in September in Wukan, a village of 20,000 people in Guangdong province on the South China Sea, against seizure of more than 100 acres of Wukan’s common land to be sold to those with insider ties to the village Communist Party leadership. Village authorities escalated the conflict by identifying protest leaders and hauling them to jail, where one of the protest leaders, Xue Jinbo, was killed in custody.

From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya

Dialectics of revolution in Africa, Asia

The upsurge of freedom struggles from Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street makes it imperative to learn from the revolutions of a half-century ago in Africa, Asia and Latin America, not alone as the excitement of masses in motion but as illuminating the role of theory and organization, and the dangers of a void in the philosophy of revolution. The piece excerpted here, written in 1984 as the introduction to a new edition of Nationalism, Communism, Marxist-Humanism, and the Afro-Asian Revolutions, was a new essay in the philosophical comprehension of history and in the dialectics of organization and philosophy.

Woman as Reason

Frantz Fanon and women’s liberation

Blogger L Boogie’s “Fanon, Alienation and Sexual Harassment” explores Frantz Fanon’s 1952 Black Skin White Masks in an exciting way for feminism, by relating his thought to street harassment.
She begins by relating several incidents of harassment, noting that recollecting them reminded her of “how violent street harassment of female-bodied people can be….” It is the fact that she is “made to not feel safe in my own body,” and that she is “alienated from my own physical self” that made her turn to Fanon.


Absolute Negativity, Occupy and Situationists

The Situationist International (SI) existed from 1957 to 1972. Its central theoretical work, Guy Debord’s 1967 Society of the Spectacle, attracted many who participated in the May 1968 revolt in France. Ken Knabb edited and translated Situationist International Anthology, which young participants raised in discussions at Occupy Oakland.
Anarchist youth helped orient the occupy movement toward SI’s anti-statist, non-elitist Marxism, rejecting prevailing politics and economics in favor of asserting their own democratic relations and everyday practice.


Occupy defies attacks

As 2012 opened, governments from federal to local grabbed more powers of repression, reflecting the failure of their attempts to crush the Occupy Movement with brute force, despite their success in clearing many occupations. The National Defense Authorization Act, signed on New Year’s Eve by President Obama, allows indefinite military detention of citizens and non-citizens without trial. The epitome of local moves is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed ordinance to make it much easier for police to harass, fine and jail demonstrators.

Dockers, Occupy close Western ports

Haiti two years after the earthquake

More than half a million Haitians live in displacement camps, primarily in tents and plastic tarps. Vast numbers, particularly women, live in great insecurity. Only a little over 10,000 new homes have been constructed; barely several thousand old homes restored. … At the same time, within the misery of the last two years, Haitian activists and masses have once again sought to determine their own lives.

Durban climate summit: sellout, revolt

“2020 is too late to wait!” rang out the words of Abigail Borah, a 21-year-old college student/activist from Vermont. She was interrupting U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern’s speech at the latest yearly UN climate summit, held this time in Durban, South Africa, Nov. 28 to Dec. 11…. The Durban summit was as devoid of real accomplishments as the previous ones.

Workshop Talks

Making teachers redundant

Last year, the Idaho state legislature overwhelmingly passed a new law that requires all high school students to take some online classes to graduate, and requires students and their teachers be given laptops or tablets, after heavy lobbying from Apple and Intel. How will this program be paid for? By cutting tens of millions of dollars from the teachers’ budget.

Blaming P.O. workers

For nearly 200 years the U.S. Post Office Department functioned as a public service agency. The delivery of the mail relied almost exclusively on manual labor. … Angered over unsafe working conditions and low wages, postal workers took matters into their own hands in 1970 with a nationwide strike–the only government workers to strike during the Vietnam War. Afterwards the government treated them like “the enemy.”

World in View

Syria and revolution

Nothing has posed the old truth that “the opposite of revolution is war” more starkly than the ongoing struggle for freedom by the people of Syria. In bringing the mass mobilizations that have become known as the Arab Spring, or al-Thawra (the Revolution), up against the imperialist maneuverings of all major state powers, an unprecedented situation has been created. …
After a year of revolutionary upheaval, the failure by much of the Left to think through this situation is abysmal, as some have fallen into a hopeless, retrogressive defense of the Syrian Ba’athist regime simply because the U.S. or European powers have paid lip service to its removal.


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