- The legacy of radical resistance
- The real meaning of Genoa
- The solidarity statement to Anti-WEF Protests
- Every generation newborn
THE LEGACY OF RADICAL RESISTANCE
For many of us, especially those of us who are younger, who grew
up in the last few decades or so, the world is a dizzying place,
and one looks at it always with a touch of wonderment, as a puzzle
not quite finished. For such a one, it is easy to ask questions
about why the world is, as it is, and not to receive any sufficient
It is easier still to shrug one's shoulders, and to say to oneself,
'Hey, that's the way things have always been. No biggie.'
But that reassuring echo is never quite what one really wants.
It reassures, but only until the next question, the next inquiry,
the next incongruity, or the next puzzle.
We think the way we do because there are things all around us,
that fairly shout to us, asking 'Why is this like this?' After a
while, we learn to ignore such things.
But there are answers.
It's just that the answers are not easy to find, or are generally
obscured by those who govern the social order.
The answers sometimes lie in what may be called Hidden History.
It is a fact that most of the people in what is now called the
United States hail from some part of Europe. This is true for perhaps
75% of the national population. (This is also not an accident, but
due to early, post-Revolutionary War statutes that specifically
excluded nonwhite persons from citizenship, but that is another
story...). That Europe that we see in most history books, that tells
of the great deeds of kings or princes, is not the Europe that most
Americans came from. They came from a Europe that was place of soul-stifling
repression, where hunger, want, and fear were daily presences. They
come from people who fought or fled from the greed of the princes.
They come from long and really extraordinary legacies of resistance
to the monied people on the hill.
For, if not for the deep impulse to escape from that which is intolerable,
why would so many come here? Let's look AT this logically. Who really
leaves their hearth and home for a new strange land, except for
those who find life almost intolerable?
The usual, accepted history was written by the rulers, or taught
by people who wanted to be sponsored by the rulers. There was ample
evidence of the "crazy priest" of Kent County, old England,
or at least, that's how the historians of the day described him.
Listen to John Ball's speech to the masses one Sunday:
"My good friends, things cannot go on well in England, nor
ever will until everything shall be in common; when the lords shall
be no more masters than ourselves. How ill have they used us ? and
for what reason do they thus hold us in bondage ? Are we not all
descended from the same parents, Adam and Eve ? and what can they
show, or what reasons give, why they should be more the masters
than ourselves ? except, perhaps, in making us labor and work for
them to spend."
The "crazy priest" of Kent County made the grievances
of his poor parish well known, saying:
"They are clothed in velvets and rich stuffs, ornamented with
ermine and other furs, while we are forced to wear poor cloth. They
have wines, spices and fine bread, when we have only rye and the
refuse of the straw; and if we drink, it must be water. They have
handsome seats and manors, when we must brave the wind and rain
in our labors in the fields; but it is from our labor they have
wherewith to support their pomp. We are called slaves; and, if we
do not perform our services, we are beaten, and we have not any
sovereign to whom we can complain, or who wishes to hear us and
do us justice.... " [C.H. George, 500 Years of Revolution (Kerr,
John Ball, Jack Straw and Wat Tyler led tens of thousands of the
disenchanted poor to London to ask the young king [Edward III] for
help. Tyler was murdered during his meeting with the king, the poor
were lied to by the king, and the rebellion was crushed. But read
John Ball's "harangue" again, please. He was preaching
to the poor in June, 1381 --- over 600 years ago! He was many things,
I'm sure, but "crazy" wasn't one of them. The craziest
thing he did was to trust the king.
Such acts of class rebellion and popular resistance happened hundreds
and hundreds of times by the poor and oppressed of Europe. But when
the history of Europe is written, more likely than not, it's the
sagas of kings, not that of rebels, that is recorded. John Ball,
and many like him, is part of the hidden history of the poor, rather
than the privileged.
From examples like this, we learn of a long and rich legacy of
resistance. It is something for us all to learn and build on.
- March 2001 -
THE REAL MEANING OF GENOA
When one mentions the very name of Genoa these days, the historical
significance of its Columbian roots mixes with its new-found renown
as the site of the G-8 Meeting, and the state killing of a young,
anti-globalist demonstrator, Carlo Guiliani.
It is now an historical marker of another kind -- one of the state's
brutality.The images from the tear-gas streaked streets of the ancient
Italian city mark a transformation in the growing anti-globalist
movement. It marks a new low in the violent savagery of police,
who will go to any lengths to protect those they are sworn to really
protect: the rich, the wealthy and the established.
Much less is known or reported about the vicious, unprovoked attacks
on young people who were working out of the Independent Media Center
in Genoa.Squads of hooded Genoan cops unjustly raided, beat, brutalized
and terrorized independent journalists covering the massive protests.Some
bystanders reported hearing screams emitting from the building for
Others on the scene reported that activists were taken to a room,
shown a picture of the late Italian Fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini,
and ordered to shout, "Viva Il Duce!", at a nearby police
station ('Il Duce' was a term of respect accorded Mussolini during
Italy's Fascist, World War II period, similar to the Nazi honorific,
"Der Feuhrer' for Hitler; 'Viva' means 'Long Live').
This is a scene that reflects the hidden, fascist heart of Genoa.
Where were the millionaire star reporters, who love to gather in
5-star, ritzy hotels to lament what happens to their brother journalists
in the Third World, or Bosnia?When have you heard a peep out of
the corporate punditocracy about the assaults on poor, independent
or radical journalists who were at the front lines of Genoa?
When young activists who were peacefully assembled to write, to
interview, to report, to prepare and to broadcast what they witnessed
at the Wealthfest (G-8 Summit), their persons were attacked, their
freedoms were shattered, and their terrorization at the hands of
a repressive state was all but ignored.Their shocking treatment
at the hands of neo-fascist, hooded cops for capital was simply
"So sorry," the gentle corporate press sniffs, "We
don't see a story here."
And, in truth, there is no story, simply because it is not in the
interests of their bosses to do such a story.That way, they can
continue to engage in useless prattle about 'freedom of the press,'
or the 'right to peaceful assembly,' or even the 'right to dissent'
and the like.For, aren't the G-7 (plus Russia) 'industrial democracies'?
They cannot afford to report what happened in Genoa, for it tells
us too much about what really happens in democracies.
The terror, the torture, the brutality, that lies at the heart
of all 'industrial democracies.'
"Viva Il Duce!", indeed, for great dictatorships have
ever been great bedfellows of capital.
The Nazi state worked with a cruel efficiency that used Jewish,
Romani, and other untermenshen (German for subhumans) as slave labor
that earned healthy profits for the wealthy ruling, industrial class.
Genoa, which sent forth the greed of Columbus to pilfer and colonize
and enslave, unleashes her corporate army upon those who now look
unkindly upon the neo-colonialization, and exploitation hidden under
the rubric of a New World (Economic) Order.
The anti-globalist movement, so young, so precious, spawned just
a few moments ago in Seattle, must now come of age.
That is the gift of Genoa.
- Aug. 2001 -
SOLIDARITY STATEMENT TO ANTI-WEF PROTESTS
Who Benefits From War?
When George II (or is it III?) was enthroned in the White House
by the Gang of Five of the Supreme Court, as a kind of American
Emperor, a thought came to mind, chillingly: There will be a war.
It came with such a clarity that it was surprising.
Why? A couple of reasons. First, because George II was a man who
was a darling of big corporate interests, and such interests are
always able to profit from war. For if there are armed conflicts
in Sierra Leone, or in Kashmir, or in Colombia, you can bet your
bottom dollar that 70 percent of the weapons used in these struggles
are American-manufactured. How could it be otherwise, when the U.S.
is the world's largest arms merchant?
Second, because George II learned an important lesson from his
father: that nothing spurs a president's popularity like war. Now,
one wonders, what's this got to do with the World Economic Forum,
the World Trade Organization, or the growing specter of globalism?
The globalist economic structure is undergirded by the globalist,
capitalist, military structure. They are interconnected. Indeed,
one cannot exist without the other.
Consider the words of New York Times writer Thomas Friedman, who
wrote back in early 1999: "The hidden hand of the market will
never work without a hidden fist-McDonald's cannot flourish without
McDonnell-Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist
that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called
the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps." (New York Times Magazine, March 28, 1999)
And what could be more secret, more hidden than the WTO, a powerful,
undemocratic international multi-state, corporate entity that sets
the rules governing the lives of billions? How about the World Economic
Forum, the body that claims it brought the WTO into existence, and
one of the world's engines of the corporate globalist movement?
These are the forces behind the war, the vicious attacks on anti-globalists
in Genoa, and the equally vicious slurs in the corporate media against
the anti-globalist movement.
War, ultimately, is fought for the wealthy, the well-to-do, the
established, with the working class and poor doing the lion's share
of the fighting and dying. It has nothing to do with patriotism,
for the rich and super-rich know no nationality higher than capital.
Think of these things when you hear the siren's song of globalism;
it is but a call for more war, more poverty, more exploitation and
more death. I urge you to resist it.
Ona Move, Long Live John Africa! Down with corporate globalism!
Mumia Abu-Jamal (Jan 2002)
EVERY GENERATION NEWBORN
"We are almost a nation of dancers, musicians, and poets." - Equiano (1745-1797) (African captured by British; later free writer
of his life in Kingdom of Benin)
A 21-year old man, newly arrived on Death Row, turns to an older
man, and asks, "Hey, Oldhead, what's up with the U.S. and Saddam
Hussein? Why they buggin'?"
His question, spawned by events reported on the morning news, became,
in quick succession, ten questions, each built upon the other. Ayatullah?
Khomeini? Iran-Iraq War? The U.S. armed Iraq? Whaaat? F'real?
When the Iran-Iraq War began, he was barely a year old, and seven
when it came to a gritty, exhausted end. The Ayatullah Khomeini
rose to power in a revolutionary Iran before he was born.
He grew up in an age when the state waged a low-intensity war against
the poor, and especially African-American youth. He grew up in a
time when his preferred form of communication and information was
a rap tape, not a newspaper, a book, or some lame on a TV screen.
For someone so young, thirty years ago seems like ancient history.
Each generation that comes into being enters a world that is a puzzle
of complexity. The history they are taught (if any) is the laundered
history of the rich. This is particularly so for young people of
The remarkable Ethiopian filmmaker, Haile Gerima, telling of his
early years in the U.S., wondered who were the dark people he saw
on the streets of America. He had a traditional Ethiopian schooling
and upbringing, but he had no idea that the black people who he
saw in America were the descendants of 300 years of the African
slave trade. It wasn't taught. He didn't know. Imagine! As a young
college student in the U.S. during the Black Liberation Movement,
he came to learn of the African origins of American "Negroes."
Steve Bantu Biko, the Black Consciousness leader who was assassinated
by the apartheid police in 1977, once wrote that the racist government
intentionally sought to destroy African history, thereby "emptying
the Native's brain of all form and content." The result of
this distorted, warped non-history left many Africans immersed in
No wonder the African child learns to hate his heritage in
his days at school. So negative is the image presented to him that
he tends to find solace only in close identification with the white
society. [Biko, S. "I Write What I Like," 29]
History is far more than the glory of kings, and the numbing monotony
of dates. It provides a light on the present. It explains why things
are as they are. It begins to solve life's perplexing puzzles, or
it does nothing.
History must answer the questions of a 21-year old man on Death