Tuesday 31 March 2009

Her first anarchist

The ever so superficial - it is meant to be that way - One Show at the BBC-TV had an item about a female member of the Salvation Army, taking part in the demonstration of March 28th in London: Put People First/Jobs, Justice, Climate. She seemingly went to the demo alone and there "met her first anarchist". She met several of them, but only one was willing to exchange some words with her in front of the state television's camera.

Her first anarchist? She thought it interesting. Well, it was more sympathetic than this piece (which certainly is not the stupidest around these days...).

For the past ten, fifteen years I have been involved in actions in which Franciscans, Augustinians, several ministers of the Reformed Church, Remonstrants, Mennonites fully participated. More consistently than student-like people calling themselves anarchists (which frequently only lasts as long as it lasts, if you see what I mean).
My second lecture on Christian anarchism I gave to Carmelite sisters on Mt. Carmel itself. They were not afraid. They were behind bars, but that is a different story - they always are. (The first lecture was on Mt. Carmel too, at the University of Haifa).
I frequently retreat and study Christian anarchism in a Benedictine convent, a few times I did the same in a Syrian Orthodox monastery, in Syria itself, amongst others.
Was I "their first anarchist"? Who would care?

Would it have been a - sadly missed - missed opportunity to tell about Christian anarchism? Including that one Dutch Christian anarchist from the Salvation Army, author of so many edifying children's books? About the English tradition of Christian anarchism, about Garden cities, the journal New Order, Jesus Radicals, not mentioning 360 years ago, the Diggers...
No, don't think so.
After all, it was the One Show. Still more sympathetic than the printed mainstream press, though.

Shake and tremble, ye masters of the earth, for April 1st hahaaaaaaaaa.....

Saturday 28 March 2009

Anti-capitalist vanguard in the USA?

Check out this story, h/t Young Anabaptist Radicals.

It is sad to notice that a US citizen from Anabaptist background does not know that the main German Protestant Church, generally called "lutheran", is called Evangelische Kirche - "evangelical" has not been invented by North American reborn people calling themselves Christians.

And then I will not go into the awkward matter of the problems about calling yourself "Christian".

Friday 27 March 2009

Why are you watching this camera?

Just having finished a restyled re-publication of this magnificent piece on how to make surplus population into cops [it pays to learn the languages of your neighbours!] and then I stumble upon this. Synchronicity - or signs of the times.

Let's work indeed - against the surveillance state, against the policing simulation of work, against the paranoia propagated by the regime.

Thursday 26 March 2009

From our own correspondent near the Bible belt

Yeah, grrreat. Always good to be in the news, especially for reasons like this. And as it is the twentieth anniversary of my personal discovery of what the Dutch Reformed Church is all about (they have abolished the entire Church meanwhile, btw) which also showed me the way to Christian anarchism, grant me the liberty of an in-depth comment to this piece of news from everloving Auntie:

Christian influence on everyday life is one thing, but in the Dutch Bible belt it also matters what kind of Christianity it is.

A group of traditionalist Protestants has objected to the use of the European Union emblem on car registration plates in the Netherlands, on the grounds that the circle of 12 golden stars on a blue background symbolises the Roman Catholic veneration of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Well, I never... I always want to fall asleep very tightly, whenever the subject of the European Union or any of its symbols comes up. The best I can think of is a very long yaaaaawwwwn. Never thought of Jesus' mother when looking at that blue starry rag. Silly me.

The National Foundation for the Preservation of the Political Reformed Principles is concerned that the symbol is too close to the 12-star halo surrounding Mary's head in Roman Catholic art.
According to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the designer of the emblem, Arsene Heitz, said he got the idea from 19th Century reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Paris.
Other politicians say that the symbol dates back to Greek mythology, long before Christianity.

So, it is true? The European flag is inspired by apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Paris? Or is this referring to the halo, and is this a palaeolithic tradition, invented in the 19th century? Writing a comprehensible story is not everyone's job. But let's proceed.

The foundation works to promote Calvinist principles within the Netherlands' oldest party, the Political Reformed Party, which draws much of its support from Christians living in the country's Bible belt.

I am really glad the editor for religious affairs made his own translation of the Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij. I would not translate it like that, only the Party-bit is right as far as I can see. The other elements in the name of this party take a historical lecture no foreign correspondent would like to hear. Neither would most of the atheist or agnostic or non-Christian Reformed compatriots for that matter.

The "Bijbelgordel" runs from the south west to the north east across the central portion of the Netherlands and contains communities in which the Reformed Christian Church plays a central role, one hostile to the liberal attitudes of mainstream Dutch society towards such issues as euthanasia, abortion and homosexuality.
The belt is a relic of the conquest by Catholic Spain of Flanders and North Brabant, when Protestants were told to leave or convert to Catholicism.
Many moved just across the border, and their successors helped found conservative churches such as the Reformed Congregations, known locally as the "black stockings churches".

Ah, you are giving a historical lecture after all? But this Bible belt runs from the annexed parts of Flanders right up to the Waddenzee in the North. And let me tell you a secret: there are lots of people living in this belt who are not Biblethumpers. Some remained Roman Catholic, like the average person in NL did - contrary to the National Legend, invented in the 19th century, of a Calvinist nation. And there are even atheists, modernist Protestants, Mennonites, and even Muslims living in this belt. Why there are not any Jewish communities left would take another lecture. Perhaps correspondent Robert Pigott can think of that himself. Perhaps not.

I will explain the black stockings part, though. Biblethumping folks do not like secularisation, for which they blame the French Revolution. That is why their political current was generally known as the Anti-Revolutionaries.

One of the revolutionary things of the French Revolution is that men got rid of the culotte, knee-breeches under which you were supposed to wear black stockings.
To show how much they opposed this revolution ministers in the Bible belt kept wearing culottes, with black stockings. One of these reverends made it to the twentieth century, wearing a culotte, in the good old annexed Flemish town of Aardenburg - in the church even where the illustration is coming from.

Somehow these Biblebelters are obsessed with trousers. Women are not supposed to wear them, because the Bible tells us you should wear the clothes of your own gender. After long and careful consideration they decided that leggings are trousers, and cannot be allowed. Of course, Jesus Himself would have been refused as a cross-dresser, make that: transvestite, by these folks.

Among the belt's towns and villages is Staphorst, where Christian parties including the Political Reformed Party dominate the local council.
Christian observance has been sufficiently strict for swearing to be banned and cash machines not to dispense money on Sundays.
There have also been warnings about potential outbreaks of measles in the Bible belt, because of parents' suspicions about state vaccination programmes.

Staphorst somehow is proverbial for the Bible belt, and I do take offense to that, since part of my ancestry is coming from that area. And they were pious Protestants, no doubt about that, but they were not polio-seeking halfwits.

And actually, the Biblethumping people from this belt are not either. Dutch Labour Party-members, in the name of Feminism, decided that the oldest party of NL, the organisation of Christian Reformed folks (not Reformed Christian, mr. Piggot), should be prohibited because they are discriminating against women. For this they borrowed the name of religious anarchist Clara Meijer-Wichmann, of course reducing her name to Wichmann. Prohibiting a political party in the name of a foundation named after a religious anarchist is going too far for me, so I wrote to the Christian Reformed Party that I, as christianarchy.org, opposed this strongly and - oddly enough - support the right to exist of the Christian Reformed Party, which allegedly refused female members.

I got a lovely reply that they would put this Christian anarchist token of support into their dossier against looming persecution. Of course, the reply had been written by a woman. Without the female vote the party probably would not be represented in parliament at all. Our Good Lord has got many and strange boarders, to quote a Dutch phrase which sadly cannot be adequately translated.

But the Dutch government seems unwilling to compromise in the question of regulations applying to number-plates.
Undaunted, the foundation's chairman, Op 't Hof, is selling stickers bearing the country's lion symbol for motorists to place on top of the EU emblem.
So far this act of defiance has prompted no official response.

There we go! Prove yourselves good Christian anarchists by showing the national colours, my beloved Black Stockings Folks.

P.S. Looking for culottes on the www I am reminded that knee-breeches nowadays are generally considered to be women's clothes - though not by Biblebelt folks, I trust. Another illustration...

P.S. 2: I made a reservation for a weblog named after Clara Meijer - check it out, most of it is in English.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Anarchist Movement Conference 2009

June 6th/7th 2009, Queen Mary & Westfield College , Mile End, London

As the world economy heads deeper into an unprecedented recession, the spectre of social unrest is again spreading across Europe and the World. In the UK we have experienced an extended holiday from wide-spread class struggle as social democracy and capitalism worked hand in hand to maintain social peace. But as the guarantees of the banks have gone, so too have the guarantees that the state can manage the emerging social conflict, which could potentially turn into social rebellion unseen in the UK for decades.

So, where does that leave the Anarchist Movement? Are we relevant? Do we exist in a form coherent enough to actually be called a movement? Are we progressing? The Anarchist Movement Conference is a chance to put our ideas on the table and rebuild ourselves. The barriers that exist need to be broken down, the experiences and ideas of those involved in anarchist politics need to be shared, discussed, critiqued and debated. The task is urgent, practical and necessary - are we as a movement mature enough to face the challenge?

How and where should we organise? Who are we are speaking to? How do we relate to the wider world as anarchists? These are some of the discussions that might happen during the course of the weekend. We want this conference to be a historical turning point, a point where we manage collectively to come together to look at the problems and work towards the solutions. Anarchists from every federation, network and local group, those involved in diverse struggles from environmental direct-action to community work, trade unionism to DIY projects - we invite you and encourage you: Claim your place at the table and help make a movement!

If we truly aim to be part of making history we need to remake ourselves as an organised, pragmatic movement to become an effective part of revolutionary change. If we do not learn from the mistakes of the past we are doomed to repeat them. The anarchist ideals of mutual aid, solidarity and the desire to live as equals have been echoed throughout our history, in every country, by women and men, regardless of race or ethnicity. We have a proud history, this conference is both about recognizing where we have come from and organizing where we want to go. Be a part of it!

Anarchist Movement Conference 2009 will happen at Queen Mary & Westfield College on Saturday June 6th and Sunday June 7th, 2009. The space will include 20 rooms and a large hall as well as a creche for both days. People will need to register before hand to ensure that the conference runs as smoothly as possible. More information will be made public every month as the conference takes shape.

Image: infoshop.org

Monday 23 March 2009

Rowntree Trust calls denounces illegal government databases

BBC News online report today that the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust claims a third of New Labour databases to be illegal and a new source of discrimination against minorities and a waste of money.

But the Tony and Gordon show wasn't the first to go all technological and snoopy by a long way. There are two versions (2 Samuel and 2 Chronicles) of an intriguing OT story of David counting the "fighting men" and God getting all wrathful as a result (in one version the devil makes him do it, in the other it is God, hmmm - you never see them in a room together, do you?). There seems to be a desire in unjust rulers to control by counting, the enlightenment brought about a new enthusiasm for domination by label and pigeon hole and we haven't stopped since.

Jesus was born at a time when Herod, a hugely unpopular and unjust king, was making huge records of citizens to tax and control them too. It was a world he was born to resist.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Aaargh - my aching finger...

Alright, I have much better things to do today.
Writing about the late dean of Dutch Christian anarchism for example, the hydrographer Felix Ortt, who opened up the secrets of the tide on the Dutch coast. I still owe him his biography, and he may have started fingertapping in the World Beyond by now...
His knowledge did not prevent the flood of 1953, of which England got its share too. You cannot force nature. That's what the whole story of the effects of global warming, formerly known as the greenhouse effect, formerly known as air pollution, and actually now generally called climate change, is all about. You can change nature, but it will never be obedient.

I have been told about the rising seas all my life, so I am a bit surprised to hear this phenomenon mentioned as part of the dangers of global warming. No, I by no means am a sceptic. I have noticed daffodils flowering a full two months earlier than they used to do - and that happened only in my lifetime. Something is Upon Us. And the daffodils only tell their story. The peat bogs in Siberia are less spectacular - hardly any human living there anyway - but much more threatening perhaps than even the melting ice in the Arctic Ocean.

I live in a part of NL which will not stay dry if sea levels start rising impressively. There is reason to worry, as Auntie told us, a few days ago.

But I do not even have to study the life and times of a wrongfully forgotten hydrographer to know that there are no holes in dykes in which you can put your finger, unless it be a nest of mousies or wasps - and in the latter case you have got quite another problem at hand (no pun intended) than the danger of drowning.

I have to apologise for my compatriotes in Frisian Harns (Harlingen), Spaarndam and even Madurodam in The Hague. There they have put up statues for the hero who does not exist. Hans Brinker is not even a credible Dutch name, and even less a Frisian one. But the BBC thought it were real folklore instead of a stupid story by a US author.
And now I have to take another look at the dyke. Winds are rising unexpectedly.

Saturday 21 March 2009

In times when war was called humanitarian intervention...

There are lots of people hugely surprised about news that torture is being practiced in US prisons. This can only be a surprise for those who are not involved with one of every 31 adults in the US.

And then there is the news about Israeli soldiers deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza in what the media still like to call "a war". A war of retaliation for those trembling people in Sderot who got all these rockets raining on them and - incredible news item - "you could not even do rectal research" as a television news item from a children's hospital in Sderot mentioned in NL (I have not read any comments on this item, seems like I am the only one shocked by the sheer idiocy of this all).

Since I have seen this picture from a hill near Sderot, where these trembling fearful people are watching the slaughter below, I cannot be surprised any more.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Gateway for peace or criminal damage? Court decides against Catholic Workers

Two Catholic Workers, Susan Clarkson and Martin Newell cp, were convicted of "criminal damage" at Watford Magistrates Court this morning (Thursday April 19th) following an act of witness to mark the Catholic 'Feast of the Holy Innocents' in December 2008 at Northwood Military Headquarters in north west London. Clarkson and Newell pled "not guilty" and defended themselves on legal, moral and religious grounds. Despite the prosecution admitting that no-one saw the pair entering the base, they agreed that they had cut through the perimeter fence to make the gateway and entered the base to pray for peace. They were found guilty of 'criminal damage' and ordered to pay fines and costs of £920 each. They will be refuse to pay, risking prison sentences.

In court, they stated that they had cut open the fence to make a “gateway for peace”, "to prepare a way for the Lord" and to open up public access to this highly secretive, mostly underground, base where a billion pound building project is going on.

The pair were arrested on December 29th 2008 after being inside the base for over half an hour. They had spent another half hour cutting the gateway into the base, leaving signs showing victims of aerial bombing in Afghanistan which Northwood would have been involved in through military planning, co-ordination and relaying communications. They also hung signs saying “Stop Bombing Afghanistan”, "Bring the Troops Home", “Gateway for Peace” and “Make a Way for the Lord”. On being stopped by military personnel, they handed in a 'Statement of Faith'. (see below)

Other members of Catholic Worker communities held vigil at the front entrance reading the names of British and Afghani war dead. During the arrests, sirens and public address messages from within the base could be heard announcing "Operation Round Up" and a return of all staff to buildings as the base's security response was put in place.

Northwood Military Headquarters (official name: Northwood JSU - 'Joint Support Unit') is the command centre for all British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a 43 acre site in suburban London accommodating over 2,000 military and civilian personnel. Just before Christmas two British soldiers had committed suicide in Basra while the 136th British soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed on Christmas Eve. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission estimates over 750 Afghani civilians have been killed by Western forces in 2008.

During cross examination, Newell's arresting officer agreed that the legality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had been questioned in the courts, and that to his knowledge to police had not investigated activities at Northwood HQ. In addition, the main prosecution witness, a member of NATO staff from the base, denied knowing about NATO involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

Susan Clarkson lives and works at the Oxford Catholic Worker house at St Francis House, Cowley Road OX4.

Martin Newell is a Catholic priest and a member of the Passionist Order. He lives and works with the London Catholic Worker at Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House, 16 De Beauvior Road, Hackney, London N1 5SU

Both live and work with refugees from areas of the world affected by violent conflict, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

CPT activists given four months

Ekklesia reports that the Swedish state has given to activists four months for although it dismissed SAABs claim for huge damages.

How many of us are ready to lose this much freedom to turn swords into ploughs? The courtroom gave the pair an opportunity to give their views on the importance of their actions.

We have at least two New Testament models for response to the courtroom.
  1. Don't plan ahead, the spirit will lead you (Luke 12:11)
  2. Keep silent and let the holy spirit defend you that way (Matt: 26:63)
Whatever we do in the courtroom, or upon arrest, we are generating stories - like the prophets - that go beyond the actions we perform and take on a life of their own.

Let's keep Martin Smedjeback and Anna Andersson in our thoughts / prayers.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Justice Not Crisis Squat houses near Edgbaston Cricket Ground

There are over 70,000 empty properties in the UK: so why is there homelessness?

Justice Not Crisis have recently occupied properties owned by the famous Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Pershore Road and are ready to turn one of them into a Social Centre. They are in the middle of a legal wrangle with the WCCC at the moment over temporary tenancy and are willing to negotiate if only the WCCC would follow suit.

Social Centre's are a popular way of collectivising social action in continental Europe (especially Italy) but not so much in the UK.

Examples include The Square (now evicted from a £4m property in Russel Square); The Rampart; Common Place.

The Rampart is squatted and still faces challenges from absentee landordism but the Common Place in Leeds is a rented property so faces a whole other set of challenges.

Is there an empty property near you? Perhaps a social centre that you can support? It's usually possible to find out about these through Critical Mass or Indymedia.

Image: the rampart, East London.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Open for Offers

Hot on the heels of the very tardy Issue 18 I hope we'll see an Issue 19 by July 2009.

So how about it?

Artwork; poetry; articles; experiences; skill sharing; comment. This is your magazine if you make it so.*

*Subject to editorial discretion. ;-)

Friday 13 March 2009

The need to be alert

There is a good chance you missed it - I missed it as a news item in this country, but the BBC World Service which is standard for my alarm radio mentioned NL - as a last news item, to be sure, but still. Terror threat at the Children's Paradise of a certain Swedish build-it-yourself-(and-it-falls-apart-after-a-year-anyway) megastore. Dear oh dear, seven people with dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality arrested.
The Scotsman has it. I cannot find the news that it was a hoax on their site, and that's the way it works. Arrest some Moroccans - some of whom, we are told, had "suspicious sympathies" (sounds like a good reason for arrest, does not it?) and spread the word about the terror threat.
Only the local rag of Amsterdam had the opener that all arrested had already been released. Auntie quotes the beerdrinking girlpinching Christian of Christians of NL:
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said the warning showed "that we must remain alert for threats to our security".

Yes of course, these people with suspicious sympathies will not have left jail very sympathetic towards his regime, will they?

It is the daily nonsense of the war on terror which is supposed to keep the public trembling and, although We Are Very Much A Multicultural Society, we again are shown that there are folks who are just too multicultural, ya know. Bearded men in long grey woollen dresses, girls hiding their face. They, I am told, even refuse to eat pork.

And there will be the crowd that yells that left wing idiots at the department of justice let highly dangerous jihadis loose after treating them to a night at Her Majesty's five star hotels. Which brings me to the man at the illustration.
I am not going to desecrate this wonderful site with his name, so I hope you recognize him with his yarmulke and his ever blondied hair. He is the Führer of a party which is the biggest in NL - according to polls these days - a party with just one member, the Führer himself. It prevents the party-that-is-not from falling apart in vicious fighting, which happened to all extreme right parties in NL, pre- and post-WWII. Apparently the other representatives of his party-which-is-not-one are very carefully handpicked and are not making a fuss.
The still makes him warn against muslims: those who want to stay in NL must be prepared to tear out half of the Qur'an and throw it away.

Some time ago the intelligence agency which also knew about the suspicious sympathies of the terrorists-who-were-not leaked that the man has been visiting the Israeli embassy for about three or four times a week for the past several years. They
leaked this news to the most unlikely newspaper that probably politically is closest to him (at the time they still supported the christian democrats, but it is not such a big change). Why this news in this paper? It did not make very much difference, because all other (real) parties treated the news very demurely - oh well, this racist is receiving orders from the Jewish State in the everlasting war against the muslims? Well you are not even supposed to call the man a racist. The Anne Frank Foundation had the courage to call him that. Quickly Those In The Know said they are of course a bunch of ultraleftist terrorist sympathizers.

(In case you are wondering: the Führer is not a Jew; ironically, he would not get this far in extreme right politics if he were).

On the day the regime decided we had to be ever alert about terrorism - yesterday, that is - I read this article about Israeli spying in the US. Why be surprised?
I was, however, a bit surprised that it says the most pro-Israeli broadcasting society in NL had the news that Israeli intelligence agencies are tapping the Dutch intelligence agency, probably completely.
What a murky story. But it made me understand why the Dutch intelligence agency leaked the news about the Israeli connection of the Blondied One.
Without any political consequence, since all real parties are supporting the Jewish State in what is probably its most dangerous time, which is now, of course.

And people in NL are hardly ever reminded of the historical fact, and perhaps for others it must be mentioned as well: the Kingdom of the Netherlands was the state with the largest muslim population of the world until after World War II. It is not something to boast about, and most muslims involved did not enjoy it, but yet it is true.

Good night and good luck.

Thursday 12 March 2009

A monkey sandwich

Since I mentioned it in a previous posting, a note on the ideological content of Andrew Marr's programme on Darwin's dangerous idea. There it was again - Samuel Wilberforce asking Thomas Huxley whether his grandmother or his grandfather was a monkey, and the oh so dignified answer from Huxley which made him win the argument.
It would have been an illogical question anyway, since Huxley should have had two grandmothers and two grandfathers, should he not?
And as Alastair McGrath writes in his Twilight of atheism, there was not such a brainless enmity of Wilberforce against either Darwin or Huxley.

A stroke of luck gave the Dutch the US-born author Ethel Portnoy, who invented the very appropriate word monkey sandwich for such an urban myth, which was presented as a true story backed by a real professor, in Marr's programme.

The celebration of Darwin's double anniversary is highly ideological, because it stresses the Lone Genius, whereas science is a social process. And evolution is an idea with its own evolution, which was already gaining ground before Darwin - in comparative linguistics, and even in biology (Lamarck, Linnaeus' classification). Presenting the idea of evolution without its own evolution is indeed a celebration of the Führerprinzip - I will not settle for less strong words.

War for the sake of war

A few days ago, in his unbearably simplified song of praise of Charles Darwin, Andrew Marr stumbled upon the European question of the barbarism of World War I. The barbarism - how could we think otherwise - was started by the Germans, the programme said. (In the story it was suggested there was some connection to evolution theory).

This barbarism could then, and can now only be a surprise if you discard the story of European expansion. The genocide on the original peoples of the Americas and Australia, using hunger as a tool of submission in nearby Ireland and at a larger scale in India, slaughter in Indonesia, Southern Africa and above all, the Congo, and the list is far from complete.
The slaughter in Congo is still going on, but now as then it is easy to look away.

The deadliest war in the world today is the Congo War, a.k.a., the African holocaust or the African World War, a covert U.S. war waged by African proxy armies to secure Congo’s unparalleled natural resources. To secure, above all, the “geostrategic” cobalt reserves in the Katanga Copper Belt, which runs through DR Congo’s southeastern Katanga Province and into its southeastern neighbor, Zambia.

Cobalt is essential to our military industries’ ability to manufacture the modern weapons of war. So, the Congo War, a.k.a. the African holocaust, is a war for the sake of war itself.

Even the complicit United Nations reports that the Congo War is the most lethal war in the world today, with the highest death toll since World War II, though the U.N. does so primarily to fundraise for ineffective mega-U.N. charities like UNESCO, UNICEF and the UNHCR. It has never censured the United States or any other imperial power for arming, advising and ultimately controlling myriad armies and militias in DR Congo.

Many Americans who supported Barack Obama had hoped for a de-escalation of the war, the perpetual, post-09/11 War on Terror, in Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan and Pakistan and even the covert U.S. war in DR Congo, the war for the sake of war itself.

And many are now shocked by Obama’s decision to leave 50,000 troops in Iraq, to send 17,000 more to Afghanistan, to bomb Pakistani insurgents and to stand behind Israel, no matter how mercilessly it bombs Gaza. And, to hike the U.S. military budget by 4 percent in 2010, startling even Robert Gates, Bush’s former defense secretary, who is now Barack Obama’s.

The war in the Congo for minerals essential to warmaking all over the world uproots and kills Congolese in cities, towns and even remote villages.
The Congo War continues, with little protest visible beyond the Internet. It moved into a new phase on Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009, when new, wholly illogical military alliances emerged. The official story advanced then and since by the U.S. State Department, the Rwandan, Ugandan and Congolese governments, and the U.N., then regurgitated by obedient corporate news outlets, is that the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF), instructed by U.S. military advisers, crossed into southeastern DR Congo to join the Congolese Army (FARDC), the U.N. peacekeepers (MONUC) and the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP) in hunting down rebel Gen. Laurent Nkunda, the former commander of the CNDP, one of the groups now allied to hunt down both him and his career enemies, the Forces Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR).

In December 2008, reports were that on the Ugandan border of Eastern Congo, U.S. military advisers had helped organize the Ugandan army (UPDF) to cross into northeastern DR Congo to join the Congolese army and the U.N. peacekeepers (MONUC) in hunting down the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). In March, the Congolese government agreed to let them stay, indefinitely.

In Kigali, Rwanda, on Jan. 7, 2009, soldiers with the Rwanda Defense Forces are trained by U.S. soldiers as part of U.S. Africa Command’s (Africom’s) African Deployment Assistance Phase Training (ADAPT) program. – Photo: www.Army.mil
These alliances and these accounts of them are so riddled with contradiction that deconstructing them would only play into the hands of those so carefully obscuring the fundamental reality of the Congo War. How many Americans would be anything but dizzy and confused by this list of acronyms for just the best known militias and armies fighting in DR Congo: CNDP, FDLR, UPDF, RDF, FARDC, MONUC?

So, let’s forget the acronyms; forget all the African militias and armies fighting proxy wars for the imperial interests of the U.S. and other imperial powers. Americans should understand instead why the U.S. is fighting a covert war in DR Congo.
High stakes

The stakes in the Congo War are enormously high. They include:

1) War itself, because, again, the Congo war is, above all, a war for cobalt, the mineral most essential to the manufacture of modern weapons of war. Cobalt is required to build jet fighter bomber engines, missiles, including nuclear missiles, battleships, including our nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, and virtually all modern industrially manufactured weapons of war, except perhaps biological and chemical weapons.

Cobalt is essential to the manufacture of anything requiring high grade steel.

Shocks in cobalt’s supply and price during the 1970s and early ‘80s led to a 1982 Congressional Budget Office document warning that the U.S. would have to be prepared to go to war to secure cobalt reserves so as to secure the power to manufacture for war, especially in time of war.

The war for control of Congo’s wealth has killed 6 million and displaced many millions more.
2) An ongoing African holocaust, the systematic destruction of the Congolese people. Six million have died, according to widely acknowledged sources including the International Relief Commission and the U.N. Forty-five thousand Congolese continue to die every month, with no end in sight; many die in refugee camps of starvation and easily curable disease, and one third of these are children.

3) Barack Obama’s legacy, and our legacy, as the Americans who elected him. Will our legacy be an ongoing African holocaust, another 6 million African Congolese lives? Will it be the expansion of Africom, the U.S. Africa Command, throughout Africa and the further plundering of Africa’s resources?

Some, including Black Agenda Report editor Glen Ford, say that Barack Obama is “U.S. corporate empire in Black face” or that corporate America desperately needed a Black face now. This is arguable, especially given that, in 2007, Africa surpassed the U.S. wartorn Middle East as a source of U.S. oil imports.

However, though huge corporations generously filled Obama’s campaign coffers, so did many everyday Americans, who also organized and rallied for Obama with high hopes of peace and change. Many now at least seem to have a place at the table that they didn’t have before.

Can they use it to call for an end to the covert war in DR Congo? First, more Americans will have to find DR Congo on the map, even amidst the toughest times since the Depression.

To read further.

This story incidentally makes clear the real reason why former Belgian colony Rwanda - supposed to be francophone - adopted English as first European language, ending education in French altogether.

Saturday 7 March 2009

So immensely bored with identity politics

Probably I had read the name before, but I first consciously heard about Edward Carpenter when I was trying to organise a symposium Christian anarchism - paradox or paradigm?, some ten years ago. It did not happen, I will not go into that now. Who knows, maybe the time is right, now.

Edward Carpenter perfectly fits the description of a Christian anarchist of about a hundred years ago. Here you can read his Pagan and Christian creeds: their origin and meaning, online. Tolstoy refers to him as being one of the noblest of souls.

And he was gay, in the sense this word is now being used. (At the time there were other words).

I get a feeling of annoyance, of boredom, of utter disrepect of all kinds of identity politics academics, especially of the trotskyite brand. I read about a biography, Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love, written by Sheila Rowbotham, and I fear.
I have read one book of this author. The first chapter had a title with this word in it: tobagganing. The question she asked: do I like that?
I don't know, and frankly I don't want to know. I am still not willing to pick up a dictionary to see what this may be all about. Spare me words I don't know in your language which as far as I can see are in no way relevant to the subject.

I have doubts and fear about this biography.
You see: Edward Carpenter was gay.
Do you really feel the depth and the importance of this communication?
He was GAY.
So he was not Straight.
He was GAY.
Amaaaazing, innit. He was GAY.
He apparently did not practise, perfectly along the tolstoyan lines, but woman! he was GAY!
How utterly interesting. A GAY man, a hundred years ago.

If anyone knows this book and is willing to chase away my doubts and fear, please let me know.

A few years ago someone took the immense trouble to write a book about Dutch religious anarchist/socialist Clara Meijer-Wichmann. Actually, she was not all that Dutch, but she lived and worked in the Netherlands, and nationality or background do not matter, do they?
Perhaps they do for identity politics types.
She was married to a conscientious objector, Jo Meijer, whose name she proudly wore.
That cannot be right! She is supposed to be a feminist! (Just like Emma Goldman she was not keen about feminism. Does not matter for the identity crowd).
And so the identity crowd robs her of this name, leaving the hateful Wichmann - her brother was the founder of Dutch fascism but she did not live to see that - serves her right.
She died giving birth to a child, as a Dutch Mary Wollstonecraft.
She was a brilliant jurist and sociologist. And a religious anarchist, as I said, founder of the Abolitionist Movement in NL, and so much more.

But for the identity crowd only one thing turned out to be interesting or important.
She was a WOMAN.
Incredible, heh - a WOMAN.
A lawyer and a sociologist - would you believe: a WOMAN.
Do you realise?
A W-O-M-A-N! Woman!

With friends like the identity crowd nobody needs an enemy.

By the way - have you heard that Special Detail about the President of the United States of America?
Is not it just as lovely as that Prime Minister of the eighties?

Talking about the Gulag

A complete - and of course damning - analysis of Capital(ism) Today can be given to accompany this piece. No need even to look at world hunger, warmongering, financial crises, surplus exploitation, unemployment and all the other wrongs you can mention.

One in 31 adult US citizens is behind bars.
Is there really a way to fathom such a situation?

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Plane Crazy

Plane stupid show what can be done with just a few committed people that can be done far better than with a mass of protestors. Or as The Cunningham Ammendment puts it, "One act of imagination equals 1,240 marchers." (Or something like that).

It appears that all but one of the group pleaded guilty to charges and are planning to pay the fines handed out by the state.

Anyway here's the link to an article and a well briefed interview.

Dissident discipleship

If you want a good read as an introduction to what we like to call Christian anarchism David Augsburger's Dissident discipleship may be your best start these days. He does not mention Christian anarchism at all, but he writes all the right things about follwing Christ in these times. The author is Anabaptist (Mennonite, I warmly refer to a name derived from a great man from NL) and he simply follows the tradition of this denomination. Which happens to be closer to mine than Dave Andrews' evangelicalism, so I state I like Augsburger's book better as a contemporary introduction.
Augsburger gives many small stories about the Very Great Story and many insightful quotations, many of these are from probably the biggest name in Christian anarchism, Tolstoy. (But puhleeease - why Bono? [1 mention in the link].)

He introduces songs or verses for what he calls peditation, etymologically fitting word for walking medtitation. The walking rhythm is supported by five- or three-syllable verses (which works well in increasingly monosyllabic English, for other European languages this might prove more difficult).
An example:

Good Samaritan
Lone man mugged,
beat and fleeced,
scorned by saint,
passed by priest.

Good men look
other way.
Much to do!
Seize the day!

Alien stops,
sees his hurt,
gives first aid
in the dirt.

Cares, although
not his class,
lifts him on
his own ass.

Picks up check
at the inn,
on return,
checks again.

Jesus asks
critics dim,
"Which of these
neighbored him?"

David Augsburger, Dissident discipleship - a spirituality of self-surrender, love of God, and love of neighbor. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006.