Category Archives: disobedience

Tithi Bhattacharya: “Women are leading the wave of strikes in America”

“These strikes are for wages and benefits, but they arise from a social landscape scoured by gender and racial inequalities.”

“At Columbia, Revisiting the Revolutionary Students of 1968”

‘“Things” is an understatement for what began at Columbia around noon on April 23, 1968, when students, united by opposition to plans to build a university gym in a nearby public park and by Columbia’s involvement in weapons research, converged on that spot. A week later, nearly a thousand activists had occupied five buildings (including the president’s office), taken the dean hostage and shut down the campus, before being removed by the police in a violent melee that ended with one of the largest mass arrests in New York City history.’

Mohammad Ali Kadivar & Neil Ketchley: “Sticks, Stones and Molotov Cocktails: Unarmed Collective Violence and Democratization”

“The literature on civil resistance finds that nonviolent campaigns are more likely to succeed than violent insurgencies. A parallel literature on democratization poses mass mobilization as exogenous to political liberalization. Contributing to both literatures, we propose the category of unarmed collective violence to capture an empirically recurring form of unruly collective action.”

“What to Wear to Smash the State”

‘Min is an artist. For her, this is one of the most unappreciated aspects of black bloc as a style. It’s tactical, and practical, and it’s also an art form with the effect of building solidarity long after the boots go into the closet. The experience of being enveloped in anonymity helps retain the movement’s ideology, after the balaclavas get folded up and stacked in the drawer.  “In spheres where we don’t have uniforms, we really embrace individuality,” Min said. “But black bloc creates a feeling of ‘Who you are is who I am.’ Of ‘It doesn’t matter who I am when we’re fighting together.’”’

Mark Kazanski, Bernard Sampson, Gloria Rubac, Gus Breslauer: “Anti-fascism in the age of Trump”

“Since the Nazi seizure of power eighty years ago, anti-fascism has been a component of left-wing politics. In response to the Trump presidency, the politics of anti-fascism, reminiscent of the Popular Front of the 1930s or the Black Bloc politics of the 1990s, have—once again—been resurrected by the Left. How is anti-fascism the same or different today? Why anti-fascism now?”

Nick Mirzoeff: “The Historical Failure and Revolutionary Potential of Taking a Knee”

‘When Colin Kaepernick and his allies “take a knee,” they adopt a pose drawn from the lexicon of 18th– and 19th-century abolitionism. … Taking a knee cuts the white emancipator from the frame and thereby creates something new: an abolition image.’

Lluc Salellas interviewed on “Catalonia: From Referendum to Republic?”

“The next step is the declaration by the Catalan parliament. We still don’t know exactly what it will entail but we hope it will be a proclamation of a republic.”

Nathan Heller: “Is there any point to protesting?”

“Still, what has protest done for us lately? Smartphones and social media are supposed to have made organizing easier, and activists today speak more about numbers and reach than about lasting results. Is protest a productive use of our political attention? Or is it just a bit of social theatre we perform to make ourselves feel virtuous, useful, and in the right?”

Richard Youngs: ” What are the meanings behind the worldwide rise in protest?”

“The results of the current cluster of protests have been mixed. Some have succeeded in pushing presidents or corrupt ministers from power, or in getting governments to unblock political, social or economic reforms – like the protests against incumbent presidents in Burkina Faso, Gambia and Senegal, and in Guatemala and Korea. Conversely, some have failed more or less completely in meeting their declared aims and have simply invited harsher repression from governments and a restriction of the right to assembly – like in Bahrain and Cambodia. Probably the most common outcome is for protests to elicit some concessions from governments, but without bringing about profound, underlying change – either to governance patterns, economic relations of power imbalances. Recent revolts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Iceland, Jordan, Moldova and Morocco all won some positive responses from governments but far short of protestors’ demands and without any systemic breakthroughs in political or economic governance.”

Boaventura de Sousa Santos: “The Left and Catalonia”

“First, the relationship between law and democracy is dialectical and
not mechanical. Much of what we consider democratic legality in a given
historical moment started as illegality, as an aspiration to a better and broader
democracy. It is therefore imperative to evaluate the political processes in
terms of their overall historical dynamics. In no case can they be reduced to
conformity with the laws of the day.”