Sunday, 26 October 2014
Monday, 6 October 2014
While IS continue to gain ground in the Middle East it is vital that we all get our heads around who the Kurds are, where they came from, and what they aspire to. Humanity's future is tied up in theirs and they map possibilities we can learn from.
Political maps have a horrid habit of dividing people for the sake of governing over them. Or as a flat-mate of mine used to say "Borders are imaginary lines separating one group of people's imaginary rights from those of another".
The Kurdish ethnic communities, Indo-European in descent and speaking various languages; Iranian, by and large but represented in bordering Iraq, Syria and Turkey are a classic example of the top-down statist nastiness that is 'border control'. And by 'border control' I mean the control of peoples using borders.
A Brief Dystory* of the Kurdish People
As an ethnic group the Kurdish people are a huge melting pot, forming as a people in a place that is such an important geographical axis in world history. It makes them rich in legend, culture, language and diversity. but also disparate and subject to oppression by their many neighbours and - not having a state to represent them - ignored, by and large, by world powers.
Kurdistan, as an entity, came into its own in the medieval period as a series of related but autonomous emirates organised under a shah. In the sixteenth century the Ottoman empire put and end to this with their occupation and centralisation of power, leading to the first organised Kurdish resistance and fight for self-rule, leading to a fully-formed Kurdish nationalism after World War 1 as the western powers carved up the map for their own greedy gain. So a conspiracy of Turkish, Iraqi, British and other European agencies have all but put an end to Kurdish hopes of a nation state to call home - free from persecution; safe from within their borders: their own 'Holy Land' as it were.
Iraq and the KRG
There is, today (since 2006) a Kurdish regional government in Iraq (KRG) with its own Prime Minister, flag, and so on. But the majority of Kurds are resident of Turkey.
Syria and the YPG
The "People's Protection Units" (YPG) are a stateless militia operating in Syria to protect Syrian Kurds from attack with the city of Kobane (a.k.a Ayn al-Arab) in norther Syria being a particular flashpoint and strategic area in the concept of a Kurdish Syria.
Turkey and the PKK
The "Kurdish Workers Party" (PKK) founded way back in 1978, is another armed struggle of resistance against state repression of Kurds: this time in Turkey. The PKK was founded by Abdullah Öcalan "Apo" and is, according to NATO, a terrorist organisation. However, since the PKK are not known to attack unarmed civilians and are busy resisting IS, international politicos may change their mind on this.
Apo was a Leninist organisation at first but has abandoned this agenda for a fluid and contextual form of anarchism, influenced greatly by Mikhail Bakunin and by Murray Bookchin: "Democratic Confederalism".
Today, amidst the chaos of the middle east conflict, aided and abetted by a confused and avaricious Saudi-Western oil pact, the PKK are on the move and on the grow, These are, of course, precarious and unstable times.
Roarmag puts it like this: "The Kurdish struggle, however, is anything but narrowly nationalistic. In the mountains above Erbil, in the ancient heartland of Kurdistan winding across the borders of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, a social revolution has been born."
The PKK have taken to this Democratic Confederalism and their ecologically-minded and feminist egalitarianism is capturing the imaginations of Kurdish people in Turkey.
Like any organisation there is a shadowy side and many unanswered questions. The PKK is committed to violence as a means to a just end and inevitably this leads to internal contradictions between liberty and authoritarianism.
But what they demonstrate - and this is the exciting bit - is that people can have and do want stateless autonomy. We saw it in Spain in the 1930s and in Korea in the early 20th Century. In both cases it wasn't the unworkability of anarchism that destroyed it but the insatiability of the state from without, imposing its "protection" on otherwise self-organising people.
You won't read much about the PKK, or the YPG in the mainstream press - the revolution will be relativised rather than televised - but keep your radical ear to the ground because change and resistance doesn't mean rockets from drones or 'boots on the ground' it means power from the people building a new world in the shell of the old.
HT: @RevdRay and @AnotherGreen
*Dystory - A History of how it all went wrong!
Sunday, 24 August 2014
Enlightened Anarchism: An International Conference at Lapland University
Sept 11-14, 2014, Lapin Yliopisto, LS 10
Ms. Ali Jones, CIMO Fellow, Cambridge University
Dr. Mika Luoma-aho, Lapland University
Anarchism has recently become a topic of scholarly focus, as social and political movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring emerge throughout the world. While traditional public opinion tends to view anarchism as juvenile force of negation, violence or gleeful destruction, it is nonetheless possible to examine a far more nuanced discourse, as espoused by the social actors involved. In fact, many such groups are particularly focused upon combatting fascism, perceived state corruption, the effects of neoliberalism or globalization, or to dedicating themselves to fighting for environmental protection, immigrant and refugee rights, or in other arena of social justice. Many of these aims could be interpreted as not only in the public interest, but also to constitute some of the cornerstones of democracy itself. In fact, in 2007 Saul Newman wrote that "the ideological terrain appears to have shifted to such an extent that to be radical these days is precisely to insist on things like the rule of law and protection of civil liberties and human rights." Indeed, despite the traditional perceptions of anarchy predominant in Finnish academia, it is in fact possible to view these social movements as composed of highly engaged, and even faithful, public citizens, which begs the question of why they are ostracized and considered to be so politically threatening. It further causes one to re-examine democracy and Anarchism categorically and philosophically.
The upcoming Enlightened Anarchism conference seeks to initiate this important conversation within the Finnish Academy. It is organized in organized in cooperation with Cambridge University, with financial support from the Lapland Faculty of Social Sciences. This major international event will host 25 speakers from around the world, including two outstanding keynotes: Dr. George Katsiaficas, Wentworth Institute of Technology and Dr. Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, Loughborough University, in addition to Special Guest Speaker Dimitrios Roussopoulous. Biographies of each speaker can be found online, along with the schedule of talks, at http://enlightenedanarchism.wordpress.com/.
All events are free and open to the public, and we encourage students to attend and participate. Auditors should contact Ms. Ali Jones at email@example.com for registration details. Students seeking credit for participation should contact Dr. Mika Luoma-aho at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 11-14, 2014
Lapland University, in cooperation with Cambridge University
Location: Lapin Yliopisto, Room LS10, Rovaniemi Finland
Special Guest Speaker:
Friday September 12th
8:30-9:15 Registration, Coffee, warm snacks and pastries
9:15-9:30 Welcoming Remarks, Ali Jones
9:30- 11:00 Non-Western Anarchisms
Chair: Dimitri Roussopoulos
Tiina Seppälä, University of Lapland - Anarchism, Resistance & Social Movements: Critical Perspectives from South Asia
Enrique Galvan-Alvarez, International University of La Rioja - Revolutionary Mercy? The Western Buddhist Anarchist Tradition
James Jackson, Unaffiliated – Rebel Music
11:15 - 13:15 Capitalism and the State
Chair: Julian Reid
Blair Taylor, New School for Social Research- New Spirit of Capitalism, New Spirit of the Left: Neoanarchism from the Alterglobalization Movement to Occupy Wall Street
Nina Rismal, Cambridge University - Critical Theory and the Question of Violence: The 1968 Students Protests
Brandon Wallace, New School for Social Research - Anarchism and the Legitimation of Authority
Joshua Anderson, Saint Louis University – Against the Nation-State: On the normative poverty of statism
13:15-14:00 Lunch (University Cafeteria)
14:00- 15:30 Anarchism and International Relations
Chair: Mika Luoma-aho
Michael Kilburn, Endicott College – Anarchism and Human Rights
Jan Hanska, Finnish Defense Research Institute – SERIOUSLY LUDICROUS:
The “ridico-anarchic” nature of the politics of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army
Guido Verstraeten, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences- Eco-Regionalism, an Alternative for Democratic Anarchistic Refuges.
15:30-16:00 Break (Coffee and warm snacks provided)
16:00– 18:00 George Katsiaficas Keynote, The Grammar of Insurgency
18:15 Board Bus at University to Forest Cookout.
(Food will be provided. Please bring drinks, warm clothes, and rain coats as appropriate)
Saturday September 13th
9:00-9:30 Coffee, warm snacks and pastries
9:30- 11:00 Anarchisms in German Thought and Praxis
Chair: George Katsiaficas
Anatole Lucet, École normale supérieure de Lyon - Spirit and community: Gustav Landauer’s criticisms of materialism and violence.
Katharina Karcher, University of Warwick and Cambridge University – The Red Zora: Anarchist Feminist Counter-violence in the Federal Republic of Germany
Ali Jones, Cambridge University – Henri Lefebvre and German Autonomie
11:15-13:15 Freedom, Ethics and the Spirit of Rebellion
Chair: Suvi Alt
Aylon Assael Cohen, Oxford University - The Insurrection of Feelings and the Feelings for Insurrection
Mari Kuukkanen, University of Helsinki - Prefigurative politics or counter-conduct?
Victor Castro, Universidad de Granada – Paradox of Ends and Means
Iwona Janicka, Cambridge University – Is There an Anarchist in this Closet? Understanding Contemporary Anarchism with Judith Butler and Peter Sloterdijk
13:15- 14:00 Lunch (University Cafeteria)
14:00- 15:30 Space and the Spatial Turn
Chair: Ali Jones
Mika Luoma-aho, Lapland University - Metaethics of Scale
Rui Coelho, University of Lisbon - Anarcho-Monks: Is Neomonasticism part of the “New Anarchist” wave?
Christian Pfenninger, University of Westminster – Porous Sovereignties
15:45- 17:15 Anarchism and Christian Theology
Chair: Alexandre Christoyannopoulos
Anthony Fiscella, Lund University - Two Christianities: “Communal” and “Imperial” Variations - Responsibilities and Relevancies for Researchers
Lara Apps, University of Alberta, No Gods, No Masters? Anarchic Optimism in Eighteenth-Century French Atheism
Justin Meggitt, Cambridge University - Anarchism and Apocalypse: The historical Jesus and the problem of violence deferred
17:15-18:00 Break (coffee and warm snacks provided)
18:00- 20:00 Alexandre Christoyannopoulos Keynote, Leo Tolstoy’s Anticlericalism
20:00 University Sauna.
(Drinks and snacks will be provided. Meals can be ordered).
Sunday September 14th
Location: University Sauna Meeting Room
10:00-11:00 Roundtable Discussion (Coffee, snacks, pastries provided)
Dennis Fox, Emeritus, University of Illinois at Springfield - Anarchist Morality and Personal Change
11:00-13:00 Dimitrios Roussopoulos Special Guest Speaker,
Constructive Anarchism – Social Ecology and Democracy
13:00 Conference Conclusion.
Monday, 16 June 2014
I'm writing this blog post in response to a tweet that reads, "I've been thinking about Christian anarchism what would you suggest I read? Something theological with good praxis". Sometimes the answer is longer than a tweet allows! @NormalSteve
If it's reading about Christian anarchism you're after, I'd recommend starting somewhere else. Start by reading about anarchism and then do your theological thinking from there. Then do some reading on Christian anarchism.
Start with the classics: Colin Ward's "Anarchy in Action" (which I can't find on hive.co.uk but his more up to date "Talking Anarchy" is likely to be great. But you can get even more classic than that with Emma Goldman's "Anarchy and other Essays" and the essential Peter Kropotkin's "Mutual Aid". Oh yes: and William Morris!
The original Christian anarchist writer would be Leo Tolstoi; his acerbic "What I Believe" and "The Kingdom of God is Within You" are the foundations of much Christian anarchist thought.
Online much of the foundational stuff for Christian anarchism is available form Jacques Ellul and Vernard Eller.
If you want something that gives you an incredibly in depth overview of Christian anarchist thought you can't go wrong with Alexandre Christoyannopoulos's "Christian Anarchism" and if you want something that's both practical and accessible you've got Dave Andrews' "Christi-anarchy" or "Not Religion, But Love".
And, of course, anything by Dorothy Day but I would warmly recommend her inspiring biography, "The Long Loneliness" which tells the story of a pioneering Catholic Anarchist with honesty that leaves you utterly humbled.
If you've read this far, I'm sure you won't mind me recommending my own "Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus" which takes principles of Christian anarchist theory, without the language of anarchism, and translates them into genuine experiments in radical compassion.
Monday, 19 May 2014
Saturday, 17 May 2014
I'll be co-hosting, with London Catholic Worker Farm, a European Gathering on Christian Anarchism from 18 to 20 July this year (2014).
There's space for camping and if you get in touch with the farmhouse folk directly there are a few beds going too.
The event will include Open Space for theory, practice and reflection so bring your ideas and get stuck in. It's been a few years since the last one of these and eight years (really?!) since our first gathering in Leeds so it will be fascinating to tell stories of the journey in between.
Whether you're new to the ideas of Christian anarchism or you've been around the anarchist block, we're all in it together and figuring it out as we go along.
Watch this space for more details but meanwhile: save the date!
Tuesday, 29 April 2014
An inter-disciplinary event organized by Lapland University, in cooperation with Cambridge University.
George Katsiaficas, Wentworth Institute of Technology
Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, Loughborough University
With Special Guest Speaker:
Lapland University, Rovaniemi Finland
Sept 12-14, 2014
Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words, including email address and institutional affiliation, to conference organizers Ali Jones at email@example.com and Mika Luoma-aho at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1, 2014.
Please also see our website at: http://enlightenedanarchism.wordpress.com/
Anarchism has recently become a topic of scholarly focus, as social and political movements have become increasingly active across Europe and North America. While traditional public opinion tends to view anarchism as juvenile force of negation, violence or gleeful destruction, it is nonetheless possible to examine a far more nuanced discourse, as espoused by the social actors involved. In fact, many such groups are particularly focused upon combatting fascism, perceived state corruption, the effects of neoliberalism or globalization, or to dedicating themselves to fighting for environmental protection, immigrant and refugee rights, or in other arena of social justice. Many of these aims could be interpreted as not only in the public interest, but also to constitute some of the cornerstones of democracy itself. Indeed, despite the traditionally discussed perceptions of anarchy, it is in fact possible to view these social movements as highly engaged public citizens, which begs the question of why they are ostracized and considered to be so politically threatening. It further causes one to re-examine democracy and anarchy categorically and philosophically.
This reconsideration further raises the debate surrounding the use of political violence for achieving democratic goals. This conference particularly wishes to open dialogue on these discourses, especially the moral, and one could even say spiritual aims of such movements.
Furthermore, analysis and recent scholarship also asks whether anarchism must be “justified” by such moral categories, or if it should attempt to remove itself from such dominating discourses. As such, both moral and anti-moral interpretations are welcome, as well as those papers interrogating this process of moral justification itself.
Focusing upon this notion of enlightened anarchism, the conference presents a forum for discussing the moral, anti-moral, religious, anti-religious, social justice, democratic and anti-democratic, or purely revolutionary discourses of modern anarchists and social movements.
The conference organizers are particularly interested in placing these contrasting perspectives into fruitful and exciting conversation. Some potential areas of focus include:
-Political theology and social movements
-The use of anarchism to achieve the goals of democracy
-The use of anarchy to combat perceived corruption
-The justification of destruction for purposes of social justice
-Discussions of anarchist violence
-The justification of violence for achieving democratic or moral goals
-A re-examination of democracy and anarchism
-Explicitly religious anarchism
-Explicitly anti-religious anarchism
-Anarchism as a non-religious morality
-Anarchism rejecting the category of morality
-Other types of anarchism
- While papers on Marxism will of course be considered, the conference organizers hope that they will relate to anarchism in some way.
Selected papers from the conference will then be compiled into an edited volume, and submitted to Cambridge University Press or another international publisher by the end of 2014.
While travel funding is unfortunately not possible, limited subsidized accommodations are available. Presenters are encouraged to contact conference organizers Ali Jones at email@example.com and Mika Luoma-aho at firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries.
Keynote Speaker Biographies
George Katsiaficas has been active in social movements since 1969. A target of the FBI's COINTELPRO program, he was classified "Priority 1 ADEX" (meaning in the event of a national emergency, people like him were to be immediately arrested). For 11 years, he worked in Ocean Beach, California as part of a radical countercultural community (described in Andre Gorz's book, Ecology as Politics). He moved to Berlin, after which he wrote two books: one on the global imagination of 1968 and another on European social movements. In these books, he developed the concept of the “eros effect” to name the sudden and synchronous eruption of insurgencies. For years, he was active in the cause of Palestinian rights. Together with Kathleen Cleaver, he co-edited Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party. A graduate of MIT and UCSD (where he studied with Herbert Marcuse), he is currently based at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and also in Gwangju, South Korea, where he finished a 2-volume book, Asia’s Unknown Uprisings. His web site is: http://www.eroseffect.com
Alexandre Christoyannopoulos is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Loughborough University, which he joined in 2010.He is the author of Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel, a seminal book which brings together the writings of disparate Christian anarchists, Tolstoy in particular, and presents a comprehensive exegesis arguing that Jesus’ teaching implies anarchism. He has also published a number of articles, chapters and other publications on Tolstoy and on Christian anarchism, and edited Religious Anarchism: New Perspectives. He is currently working on a monograph on Tolstoy’s political thought, and co-editing a new collection of essays on anarchism and religion.A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, he also acts as Treasurer of the Anarchist Studies Network and officer of the International Political Science Association’s research committee on Politics and Religion.His website, which includes a full list of publications (many of which are openly accessible online) and a more extensive biography, can be accessed via http://www.christoyannopoulos.com.
Sunday, 20 April 2014
‘Living in the Cosmos:
Ethical and Ascetic Reflections on Patristic and ContemporaryTheology’
Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Andrew Louth, Dr Krastu Banev
Monday 9th June 2014, Durham University
9.30am – 5:30 pm
PG20, The Palace Green, Durham University, DH1 3EP
We invite the submission of abstracts for 20-minute long papers from all interested academics including a quota of one third postgraduate students for the day conference ‘Living in the Cosmos’, to take place at Durham University on Monday 9th June, 2014.
We would like proposed papers to address or engage with the title topic of the conference: ‘Living in the Cosmos: Ethical and Ascetic Reflections on Patristic and Contemporary Theology’. We welcome varied interpretations of this topic, including, but not restricted to approaches through Patristic and Byzantine theology, Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, discussing such topics as:
asceticism and ascetic practice
politics and ethical conduct
ethics of economics
Christian living in the world today
This is a new conference and arises in response to a growing interest in the relevance of Patristic theology for contemporary living. Keynote papers will be 40 minutes and will open and close the conference. There will be of three sessions of four 20 minute papers over the course of the day. We are looking to accept twelve papers, four of which will be from postgraduate students. If interest is large enough and abstract contributions greatly exceed this number, we will consider putting on multiple sessions at a time.
Please email abstracts of approximately 200 words for 20-minute long papers to LivingInTheCosmos(at)ogdoad.org
When doing so, please indicate your name and institution in the subject of the email and nowhere else on the abstract submission.
Deadline for abstract submission is Friday 16th May 2014.
Further notification will be issued when registration opens.
A registration fee of £10 for students and £15 for non-students will apply, which includes lunch and afternoon refreshments. A limited amount of overnight accommodation will be available to book in advance in St Johns College and other University colleges. Please contact us as soon as possible if you wish to book a room. We will also be going out for a meal together in the evening and we will be asking registering attendees to indicate if they would like to attend this also so that we may know the numbers for table booking.
It is unlikely that we will be able to give financial assistance towards travel or accommodation expenses, but those whose abstracts are accepted are asked to keep their receipts in the event that this changes.
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Saturday, 1 March 2014
Building on the success of its predecessor, the 3rd International Conference of the Anarchist Studies Network will showcase the best new thinking in the study of anarchism as a political theory and practice – past, present and future. The conference aims to breach new frontiers in anarchist scholarship, and encourage cross-pollination between disciplines and contributions from both within and outside the official academic sphere. Proposals are welcome for sessions and individual papers from any scholarly discipline(s), on any topic relevant to the study of anarchism. Also welcome are proposals for practical workshops, experiential sessions, and other activities.
As at the earlier conferences in 2008 and 2012 there will be a special stream on religious anarchism / the relation anarchism - religion or spirituality.
Hosts will be Paul Cudenec and the undersigned, André de Raaij, independent researchers and writers on relevant subjects.
Hosts will be Paul Cudenec and the undersigned, André de Raaij, independent researchers and writers on relevant subjects.
As the crisis of late capitalism deepens, nominal democracies are increasingly showing their hand: freedom of speech is the freedom to be ignored. Every demand of the last wave of social mobilization has been rejected or side-lined. Instead, governments pursue business-as-usual with obstinacy. The fallout from the global financial crisis has become the pretext for even harsher strategies of inequality management. Devastating storms and a changing climate do nothing to stop the dash for gas. Even dramatic revelations about generalised surveillance and the infiltration of protest movements have done more to normalize these phenomena than to halt or reverse them. Governments will change the story on the move if they have to, or just plug their ears - perhaps unsurprisingly, since the last credible alternative does not include them.
For anarchists, new-found public disillusionment is as much of a challenge as a cause for celebration. Loss of trust in the democratic state can result in despair or reactionary retrenchment as much as it can lead to radicalization. Indeed, anarchists have been the first to offer solidarity to many marginalized groups in their struggles, and their organizational strategies – if not their actual aims – have inspired mass movements the world round. But the mere celebration of anarchist resurgence is no longer sufficient. What is now needed is a redoubled effort towards practical and theoretical innovation, and engagement with mass struggles in content as well as form.
Building on the success of its predecessor, the 3rd International Conference of the Anarchist Studies Network will showcase the best new thinking in the study of anarchism as a political theory and practice – past, present and future. The conference aims to breach new frontiers in anarchist scholarship, and encourage cross-pollination between disciplines and contributions from both within and outside the official academic sphere.
The conference will be held at Loughborough University during the first week of September 2014.
Proposals are welcome for individual papers, sessions, and streams of sessions. We especially encourage proposals for sessions, to include 3-4 papers drawn together around a common theme, although individual paper proposals are of course also welcome, as are proposals for practical workshops, experiential sessions, and other activities.
Contributions can come from any scholarly discipline(s), on any topic relevant to the study of anarchism.
Anarchist Studies Network: http://anarchist-studies-network.org.uk/