Culture of Resistance

When the world’s two great propaganda systems agree on some doctrine, it requires some intellectual effort to escape its shackles. One such doctrine is that the society created by Lenin and Trotsky and molded further by Stalin and his successors has some relation to socialism in some meaningful or historically accurate sense of this concept. In fact, if there is a relation, it is the relation of contradiction.

It is clear enough why both major propaganda systems insist upon this fantasy. Since its origins, the Soviet State has attempted to harness the energies of its own population and oppressed people elsewhere in the service of the men who took advantage of the popular ferment in Russia in 1917 to seize State power. One major ideological weapon employed to this end has been the claim that the State managers are leading their own society and the world towards the socialist ideal; an impossibility, as any socialist — surely any serious Marxist — should have understood at once (many did), and a lie of mammoth proportions as history has revealed since the earliest days of the Bolshevik regime. The taskmasters have attempted to gain legitimacy and support by exploiting the aura of socialist ideals and the respect that is rightly accorded them, to conceal their own ritual practice as they destroyed every vestige of socialism.

As for the world’s second major propaganda system, association of socialism with the Soviet Union and its clients serves as a powerful ideological weapon to enforce conformity and obedience to the State capitalist institutions, to ensure that the necessity to rent oneself to the owners and managers of these institutions will be regarded as virtually a natural law, the only alternative to the ‘socialist’ dungeon.

The Soviet leadership thus portrays itself as socialist to protect its right to wield the club, and Western ideologists adopt the same pretense in order to forestall the threat of a more free and just society. This joint attack on socialism has been highly effective in undermining it in the modern period.

Noam Chomsky, The Soviet Union versus Socialism, 1986

(via america-wakiewakie)

(via america-wakiewakie)

Fight to free all Saudi Arabian political prisoners heats up

After staying up pretty late last night to write the part on the wikipedia page about new protests in Saudi Arabia, I found that a new movement is forming. This centers around the idea of freeing all political prisoners as Anti-Flag put in their song titled “Mumia’s Song.” However, there is much more potential to this movement than one would originally realize.

It’s good to give some background first. First off, the “Arab Spring” DID affect Saudi Arabia, contrary to what the media says about this. Just like in Tunisia, one person lit themselves on fire, starting the protesting in the country. Demands throughout have included changes in political and economic conditions, suffrage for women, giving women the right to drive, the release of all political prisoners, taking the Saudi forces out of Bahrain which are participating in crushing the uprising, equality for Shias in the country along with a Constitution and independent legislature in the country’s Eastern Province. So far there have been some concessions, the government gave $130 billion in handouts to citizens, municipal elections were held in September 2011, women were allowed to participate in municipal elections for 2015, some prisoners who had not got a trial were allowed one and the president of King Khalid University was fired in July. Even with these concessions people continued on.

All of these protests are despite Article 12 of the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia which states that “the State shall forbid all activities that may lead to division, disorder and partition.” Interestingly if there is a crackdown on this current movement, then the government will violated article 26 of the Basic Law, which says they will protect human rights. The background of the struggle since February 25th, which wrote on the wikipedia page is the following:

Starting on February 25th, there was a good amount of protest action in Buraydah related to the demand to free political prisoners. Mostly people participating in such action were women, protesting on a roadsides in a “morning picket,” in a grassy field likely near a government building, and other actions including a march down a street. These protests also included young boys and girls holding signs as well in numerous places across the town. It was reported that at one point, there were over 100 people in front of Alhabeb hospital in Buraydah. A mix of feelings took place between the protesters, some burning a picture of the Minister of the Interior and stepping on it while another held up a sign to dismiss him. There’s even a short video on Youtube asking a young girl who the daughter of the prisoner why she’s there at the protest. In terms of police presence, at one point it was reported that Saudi Investigation Units were in plain clothing especially after Saudi military forces withdrew. There was also a sit-in in the city itself which ended up being surrounded by security officers which some felt was unfair and unjust. People were there so long that they even became “hungry, dehydrated & freezing.” This could be because it was reported that police closed down all roads to the sit-in site. Specific numbers of this sit-in were confirmed by several tweets of Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN’s international correspondent, who noted that 28 women were participating. Also in the first day no arrests were made. Later, as twitter user, e3teqal_eng noted, women & children spent the whole night at the site what was being called the “Burayadh sit-in” and they even held their ground. Some helpful others even gave them firewood for the night, so they could stay warm. This fire’s embers could even be seen the next morning. The next morning, people brought them breakfast including some sort of bread and covered food. Even with the all the trouble the day before, women in the morning began to come and join the protest.

Now, that’s just a quick synoposis of what happened but it doesn’t provide any specifics. That’s why I scoured all of the twitter feeds to see what I could find. On a youtube account pushing to free all political prisoners, just today there was a march in the capital city of Riyadh in a march in solidarity with the sit-in the day before (and still continuing) in the city of Buraidah:

Looking online I first found a statement detailing the protests they have already engaged in over the past days and their determination to continue and achieve their goal. But this wasn’t all. There was also an “open letter from families of detainees" (signed by over 935 people right now) detailing their demands that were aimed at ending human rights violations and violations of the principles of Islam. These demands include:

  1. Immediate dismissal of the Interior minister
  2. The creation of a “higher committee for truth” that will look at human rights violations in prison including torture, sexual assault and insult in general
  3. The sacking of the chief of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution
  4. The canceling of all judgments of secret trials that took place for those that were in prison
  5. Bad feelings and affects of those being imprisoned on the lives of  toward children is why there will still be popular resentment and that there must be the “demise of oppression and tyranny of government,” an institution which must fix its errors 
  6. Allowing in Saudi Arabia “freedom of opinion…expression and assembly in accordance with Shariah”
  7. Calling all judges who have oppressed people with Sharia to be brought to a public trial
  8. Demanding that all detainees in prison and in detention camps be released
  9. Demanding that the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) be eliminated as its mission is "contrary to Islamic law"
  10. Demanding that Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution and the Ministry of the Interior be separated but still be connected to e judiciary.
  11. Calls for separate prisons run by the Ministry of the Interior but related to the Ministry of Justice
  12. Demanding that there are separate political detectives from the Ministry of the Interior who are related to the judiciary
  13. Demanding that those who have looted the budget of the Ministry of Interior be held accountable as basically stole money from people  

They also had a set of more specific demands from the “the sons of detainees…[and] scholars and preachers” which included releasing political prisoners, the formation of a “higher committee to hold accountable those involved in the falsification and fabrication to them and to others,” in order to heal past wounds and establishing a “conciliation commission and frankness in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah.” Those participating say that in order to  push these demands they will engage in a “peaceful process through two methods…peaceful demonstrations…monthly protests…[and] a hunger strike, in places of assembly…or [in] public.” In the end, they urge the Saudi general public and those “concerned about the state of the nation” to do the following:

  1. "condemn the policy of the State based on oppression and tyranny and restrictions on reformers"
  2. "denounce the arrogance [of]…the Interior Ministry"
  3. "communicate with media channels and human rights organizations to prosecute those involved in torture and arbitrary detention and…torture…of women"
  4. "seek to lift the injustice [the] legitimate way [and] call [for] the soldiers and officers to refuse orders [to] torture…and prosecute protesters and demonstrators"
  5. call for all segments of society to cooperate together under the banner of “support[ing] your brother right or wrong” through demonstrations and sit-ins and the like in order to demand reform

Notice that there is no demand to end the absolute monarchy, rather its targeted against certain officials. This is not like the short-lived Umma Islamic Party in 2011 which demanded “representation and an end to absolute monarchy in the country”, the "Day of Rage" in March 2011, a prayer leader Nimr Al-Nimr and protesters calling for the abolishing of the monarchy in February 2012, or the statement of the founder of ACPRA saying it would be a matter of time before the monarchy dissolved. So this is not necessarily a radical movement in the sense of overthrowing systems but some of the demands including the pushing of free expression would definitely open the floodgates to protest. Rather this is a reform movement which is still important and could if demands or not met possibly become more radical.

The fact that people are protesting in light of the fact that officially protests are banned is amazing. As one twitter user put it, 
"it’s when women are encouraged &permitted in parliament yet prohibited from a protest requesting basic rights”

The second day of the

"History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place."

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socialismartnature:

Around the world, consciousness of the threat to our environment is growing. The majority of solutions on offer, from using efficient light bulbs to biking to work, focus on individual lifestyle changes, yet the scale of the crisis requires far deeper adjustments. Ecology and Socialism argues that time still remains to save humanity and the planet, but only by building social movements for environmental justice that can demand qualitative changes in our economy, workplaces, and infrastructure.

socialismartnature:

Around the world, consciousness of the threat to our environment is growing. The majority of solutions on offer, from using efficient light bulbs to biking to work, focus on individual lifestyle changes, yet the scale of the crisis requires far deeper adjustments. Ecology and Socialism argues that time still remains to save humanity and the planet, but only by building social movements for environmental justice that can demand qualitative changes in our economy, workplaces, and infrastructure.