Tuesday, 9 April 2019

The Evolution of Struggle

Dear Colleagues,

Just a quick post to advertise the forthcoming series off events which will explore the legacy of the British anti-apartheid movement historically and today. I have posted before at length of my interest here, and also of the relationship between Ruskin College and the anti-apartheid movement.

Follow this link for details of events:

https://www.evolutionofstruggle.com/

The site describes itself thus:

Evolution of Struggle is a series of events bringing together campaigners, researchers and policymakers to discuss the legacy of the British anti-apartheid movement today.
Each session will provide an open forum where participants can discuss the contemporary relevance of the global struggle against apartheid. Focusing in on the work of activists based in Britain, sessions are designed to encourage a cross-generational dialogue between social justice campaigners, while also offering important historical insights into how political coalitions are forged and maintained across national borders.
In Solidarity
Ian

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Free at Last!

Dear Colleagues,

For several months now I have been unable to access my blog, and it appeared that Google were uninterested in helping myself and the many others who were posting to the main Help Forum.

So, on checking today I am really pleased to see that I can access the post and continue to post!

My main news is that I have now submitted my doctoral thesis, and am awaiting the viva/exam on 20th May. Here is a pic of the title page.

And, I shall post more items from hereonin.


In Solidarity

Ian

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Activists and the Surveillance State: Learning from represession

Dear Colleagues,

Apologies for an absence since my last post. I have needed to concentrate on getting the first full thesis draft submitted This is now book and am working on editing and then (all being well) submitting the final version.

Also, the dreaded widget server problem has re-surfaced. Apologies if this makes viewing this blog difficult. I'll try and figure out how to resolved this - today is a temporary fix, and I'm not sure what I have done to access the blog.

I just wanted to write a brief blog post to give a plus for the latest book by Aziz Choudry. I have written of his research/writing on many occasions in this blog, and his work is a primary influence upon my own research thesis.

Aziz mentioned this book when I saw him last, when he was in the UK to talk about his last book at an Ella Baker School seminar.


Read more about that book here, and download the first chapter: http://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/historys-schools-past-struggles-and-present-realities-aziz-choudry-and-salim-vally

His latest book focuses on the state surveillance and repression of progressive and social movements. I am particularly fascinated by its concentration of how movements can learn and grow from  such analysis, as a means to subvert suppression.

The book's marketing blurb is below and you can buy a copy here:

https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745337807/activists-and-the-surveillance-state/

In this age of unchecked emphasis on national security, even liberal democracies seem prone to forgetting the histories of political policing and surveillance undergirding what we think of as our safety. Challenging this social amnesia, Aziz Choudry asks: What can we learn about the power of the state from the very people targeted by its security operations?

Drawing on the knowledge of activists and academics from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Chile, Activists and the Surveillance State delves into the harassment, infiltration, and disruption that has colored state responses to those deemed threats to national security. The book shows that, ultimately, movements can learn from their own repression, developing a critical and complex understanding of the nature of states and capital today that can crucially inform the struggles of tomorrow.


In Solidarity

Ian

Sunday, 16 September 2018

To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice

Dear Colleagues,

I just swiftly read an article by Colin Grant in Prospect magazine which reviews three new books on Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. The overall thrust of the article is suggestive of a re-radicalisation of King's legacy, and not least his political analysis of the failures of capitalist economic life. You can read the article here:

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/how-america-erased-the-radicalism-of-martin-luther-king-jr

The article includes a new book by Michael Honey, To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice. And this book reminded me of the final book by Martin Luther King. The one he didn't complete prior to his murder, and instead was finalised by Coretta Scott King.

This book, Where do we go from here: Chaos or community? is one of the most profound I have ever read. It rests on King's fundamental commitment to non-violence, yet proposes an almost violent assault on an economic and political system that structured the brutalisation and exploitation of black people as part of the day-to-day existence.

Although King never proclaimed a political allegiance, and was on record as denying socialist or communist inspiration, it is clear that the book's call for equality and fair treatment rested on a radical imagination.

I think of this book a lot as has many lessons for organised labour in recognising how best to attract the most marginalised in society into active social and political activity. In fact, one of my other favourite books, Poor Workers' Unions by Vanessa Tait, includes a section on King and the Civil Rights Movement in calling for the active engagement of the poor in political struggle for economic change.

Two great books - and well worth reading!

In Solidarity

Ian




Saturday, 8 September 2018

Striking to Survive: Workers’ Resistance to Factory Relocations in China

Dear Colleagues,

Apologies for the delay between the last post and this; there was an odd global occurrence, whereby Blogger blogs had been taken over by some unknown source, and it took Google some time to resolve this.

Anyway, all is back to normal, and just a quick plug for a new book by Fan Shigang, worker-activist-scholar and contributor to the periodical Factory Stories:

https://www.gongchao.org/en/factory-stories/

I've written previously on independent workers' movements in China, and their relevance to labour movement resurgence globally, and this book helps move this analysis further. As the book's marketing blurb states:

The struggles of these workers in China’s industrial centers are shaping the future of labor and democracy not only in China but throughout the world. These vivid stories of workers at factories that supply multinational corporations Walmart and Uniqlo, compiled by worker-activists and circulated underground, provide a unique, on-the-ground perspective on the most recent wave of militancy among China’s enormous working class.

As a dimension of labour studies the central importance of Shigang's book is an appreciation of how autonomous workers' movements occur despite systematic state repression. Additionally, they offer fresh insight to the relevance of labour geography as a feature of organising strategy.


At a more basic, political level the book helps reject the common notion of Chinese workers stealing the jobs of workers globally, and helps those workers outside China appreciate their common degrees of vulnerability under global capitalism.

Further book details are here:

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1159-striking-to-survive

In Solidarity

Ian


Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Pedagogy of Primo Levi

Dear Colleagues,

As I enter the final stages of writing up my thesis, I am wistfully dreaming of how best to use my free time once I have (all being well) completed the examination and completed the DProff programme.

One particular daydream is to spend time thinking through what a pedagogy of Primo Levi looks and feels like. For a number of years I have taken time to slowly read through a portion of Levi's writing, and have began Carol Angier's magisterial biography. I have re-read the few books I started, and re-read also the first 10-15 pages of biography, because everything I encounter is so profound I am not sure I have understood or comprehended it.

As my thesis has touched upon issues of ontology and epistemology drawing upon literature of freedom and liberation, I feel the need to look at Levi anew, in terms of asking how and whether it is possible to devise a philosophy of his knowledge to inform educational methodology and practice.

I will happily spend the rest of my days on this project :)

Whilst doing the student thing of doing anything other than what you are supposed to, I have come across a revelatory book, Approaches to Teaching the Works of Primo Levi:
https://tinyurl.com/ycmfn4n8
Whilst this books sits more under the heading of literary studies it looks like the perfect place to start my exploration.

There are other books also that look valuable as part of this endeavour, and I hope to link this new focus in my on-going contribution to activist education.



If anyone has ideas for reading on Levi and pedagogy please post it here.

In Solidarity

Ian

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements

Dear Colleagues,

Just came across an amazing new book that I wanted to plug, and it comes at a pertinent point in writing thesis findings. The new book, The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements, is the kind of analysis we need where movements are nothing more than a group of decent people, with good intentions, few resources, no money, but a powerful, aggressive enemy.

Thus the book draws on the experience of the US civil rights movement to ask how repression was a a force for solidarity and galvanisation. There is a lengthy outline by the books editors here on the Waging Non-Violence blog: 
https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/how-repression-can-fuel-a-movement/ 


The relevance to my thesis is asking how the movement came to learn generically to generate strategy, and how it came to turn the practice of repression into a theory of resistance. Here is the first paragraph from the book review:

From Bull Connor’s dogs and fire hoses attacking U.S. civil rights demonstrators to the massacre at Amritsar in colonial India, the use of coercive force against dissidents often backfires, becoming a transformative event that can change the course of a conflict. Rather than demobilizing a movement, repression often ironically fuels resistance and undercuts the legitimacy of a power elite. Although a long scholarly tradition explores the unintended consequences of martyrdom and other acts of violence, more attention could be paid to what we call the paradox of repression — that is, when repression creates unanticipated consequences that authorities do not desire. Efforts by power elites to oppress movements often backfire, mobilizing popular support for the movements and undermining authorities, potentially leading to significant reforms or even a regime’s overthrow.


Please read the entire article and post thoughts/views.

In Solidarity

Ian