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Popular- Front Antifa (Part 1): Towards a Broad-Based Struggle

From Radical Education Department

The resurgence of Antifa has placed the problem of fascism front and center for radical politics today.  It also raises a key strategic question: if we are to disrupt, dismantle, and transform fascism–to ensure “no platform for fascists”–what is it that makes the Trump regime fascist, and what are its sources and mechanisms?  Discussions on the left surrounding these issues have often been limited.  They tend to focus on governmental or state fascism, endlessly comparing and contrasting past fascist governments and the current, American one.  In doing so they miss a broader socio-political fascism: the Trump regime is one expression of a diffuse fascistic desire for violent domination as well as of the fascistic social structures in which that desire is generated and cultivated.

The task of Antifa must be to challenge not only narrower, governmental fascism but also its broader social roots.  This project entails standing in radical, active solidarity with struggles against white supremacy, misogyny, anti-worker class warfare, transphobia, xenophobia, and beyond, as one node in a broad-based, radical left struggle.  In this post, we sketch the need for such a popular-front Antifa.

Some Limits to How We Are Talking about Fascism

Discussions about the term “fascism” raging on the left since the Trump campaign have often been deeply limiting.  They tend to be obsessed with a fairly narrow understanding of fascism as a phenomenon of state, which they explore by comparing and contrasting 21st century America and 20th century fascist governments.  Such analysis certainly has value, particularly in raising the alarm, but leaves us with a seemingly endless debate. Many argue that we can and should unequivocally call the administration fascist given its white supremacist and nationalist policies, cultivation of white supremacist violence, demonization of immigrants, attacks on the media, and so on.  But as others point out, certain hallmarks of past fascist states are missing, like a wholesale attack on individualism.  Others chart a middle path: “No, but …”  Across the debate we find a dizzying array of new terms: Trump is a “proto-fascist,” “neo-fascist,”  or maybe an “ur-fascist.”

This endless battle misses history.  It presents “fascism” as though it were a fixed set of characteristics, failing to ask: how might fascism, like a virus, become “resistant,” taking on new forms and strategies that allow it to survive in changed contexts?  Moreover, when we assume that fascism is solely a function of who is in charge of a country’s political machinery, we come to see Antifa, in turn, as a highly specialized struggle, implicitly rejecting any deep connection between Antifa and the vast array of other social struggles with which it might create a mass radical project.  We thereby also ignore the much wider, fascistic base on which Trump builds. To combat the limits of this discussion, we must shift our gaze.

Fascistic Desire and a Popular-Front Antifa

Beyond the left’s endless debates, we should recognize that the Trump regime’s ambiguous state fascism embodies a much broader desire to violently dominate humans and nature that is diffused throughout American society.  State fascists cannot rise to power without mobilizing and constantly reproducing this desire, but the latter can and does assume both explicit and implicit forms, within and outside the machinery of state. The desire for domination is generated in structures that have always organized life in American society: imperialism; militarization; local and state police; misogyny; the construction of masculinity as authoritarian violence; white supremacy; American nationalism’s constant refrains of exceptionalism; and many more.  The capitalist order, inherently authoritarian, provides the framework in which all these develop: it seeks to capture every part of society and every moment of life for a brutal competition in which a few heroes will rise to rule over the unwashed masses.

o-REVOLUTION-FIST-facebook

Such structures organize the violent domination and eradication of human and non-human life, constituting socio-political fascism.  When we call them, and the desire for domination that they nurture, “fascistic,” we point out that they make state fascism possible. At the same time, the term highlights the fact that state fascism is a symptom of a much broader problem that must not be reduced to an issue of who runs the government.  A fascist state is the reflex of an obscene social order trying to defend itself against the threat posed by a dominated populace.

From this shifted perspective, we do not need to endlessly debate just how fully Trump fits into a fixed definition of fascism derived from the past.  Instead, if we recognize the Trump regime as emerging out of the convergence of particular fascistic tendencies at a given time and in a given place, we can see that its ambiguously fascist form is tailored to the American context and sensibilities, accommodating itself, for instance, to American individualism by forgoing appeals to mass unity.  Whether Trump is a “proper” fascist–whether he fits into a rigid definition taken from the past–matters much less than that he is opposed as the governmental voice of a pervasive fascistic violence.

Nor do we have to see Antifa as a specialized, narrow struggle against a particular regime.  Antifa can see its work as inseparable from all those that struggle against fascistic desire in the diverse, irreducible forms that make an obscenity like Trump possible: against white supremacy, misogyny, transphobia, anti-worker class warfare, and beyond.

Pursuing its task–”no platform for fascists”–Antifa would then attack socio-political fascism in all its many forms.  It would stand in radical solidarity with, and constantly learn from, a vast array of left social struggles–and so aim to be one part of an intersectional, popular-front Antifa.

INFILTRATOR ALERT at Camp White Pine

from Facebook

PLEASE SHARE, INFILTRATOR ALERT

Back in June 2017, Camp White Pine experienced an uptick in attempted infiltration. SOME entity sent no less than three infiltrators to the Huntingdon area who used various tactics to try to scheme their way into the movement.

One of them called herself “Aly Patrick.” She made contact with a local person who had been prominently in support of the Gerharts’ efforts to #StopETP since last year while that local was working in a public place. She befriended them, claiming she had moved to the area because of the lake, and because her online job allowed her freedoms. She asked a lot of questions, but couldn’t even answer the question of who her specific “online” employer was. She came to public rallies and was incredibly enthusiastic. However, she strategically avoided cameras at those events.

“Aly” claimed not to use any social media platforms. We found a picture of her anyway, taken at one of the rallies she attended. She was last seen driving a white sedan with Virgina plates and gave a phone number with a Tennessee area code. Please share with your networks, and help make sure “Aly” never succeeds in infiltrating any water protector movements.

For more insight into dirty disruption tactics read the section “Social Engagement Plan” of this article from The Intercept: https://theintercept.com/…/leaked-documents-reveal-securit…/

And this follow-up article under the section “Use as many locals as we can”: https://theintercept.com/…/dapl-security-firm-tigerswan-re…/


Anathema Volume 3 Issue 7

from Anathema

Volume 3 Issue 7 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)

Volume 3 Issue 7 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)

In this issue:

  • From Anarchy to Antifa
  • Mural Arts Reinforces Racism
  • Thoughts on Organization
  • What Went Down
  • New Groups in Philly
  • Prisons Escapes
  • Police Blotter
  • Nearby Resistance to Police
  • Power by Audre Lourde
  • Confront the IACP

Antifa: the Anti-Fascist Handbook

from Facebook

Discussion with author Mark Bray

As long as there has been fascism, there has been anti-fascism — also known as “antifa.” Born out of resistance to Mussolini and Hitler in Europe during the 1920s and ’30s, the antifa movement has suddenly burst into the headlines amidst opposition to the Trump administration and the alt-right. They could be seen in news reports, clad all in black with balaclavas covering their faces, fighting police at the presidential inauguration, and on California college campuses protesting right-wing speakers …

Simply, antifa aims to deny fascists the opportunity to promote their oppressive politics — by any means necessary. Critics say shutting down political adversaries is anti-democratic; antifa adherents argue that the horrors of fascism must never be allowed the slightest chance to triumph again.

In a smart and gripping investigation, historian and former Occupy Wall Street organizer Mark Bray provides a one-of-a-kind look inside the movement, including a detailed survey of its history from its origins to the present day — the first transnational history of postwar anti-fascism in English. Based on interviews with anti-fascists from around the world, Antifa details the tactics of the movement and the philosophy behind it, offering insight into the growing but little understood resistance fighting back against the alt-right.
[September 16th from 7PM to 9PM at Wooden Shoe Books 704 South St]

PA Alt-Knights Provided Security for Holocaust Denier and Fascist Augustus Invictus at Unite the Right

from Philly Antifa

PA Alt-Knights At Unite the Right providing security for Augustus Invictus (center with tie)
PA Alt Knights 2nd in Command Jeff Thomas discussing providing security for eugenics promoting, holocaust denying, fascist politician Augustus Invictus. Apparently participating in a Nazi rally that ended in a murder was “a pleasure.”

As our readers are no doubt aware, this “Unite the Right Rally” was a disaster for the Alt-Right and led to the death of Anti-Racist demonstrator Heather Heyer as well as multiple hate crimes and assaults by Neo-Nazi and Far Right rally participants. In the fallout, many of the rallies participants and organizers have turned on each other and/or distanced themselves from the Alt-Right.

One group that seems to have very few regrets is the PA Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK). Their members were observed by Anti-Fascists on the ground in Charlottesville, and confirmed through social media, providing security for Augustus Invictus (real name Austin Gillespie), Florida Senate Candidate,  and total fucking cretin. Invictus was formerly a member of the Libertarian party, but even a party comprised almost entirely of Fedoras could not stomach Invictus’ Holocaust denial, advocacy of Eugenics, use of Fascist and White Nationalist talking points and imagery, and participation in animal sacrifice.  This led to several conflicts within the party that ended with Invictus switching his affiliation to The GOP.

Most of these “Kekistanis” were spotted a few months ago trolling the Refuse Fascism rally at Dilworth Plaza.  While these jerkoffs might seem like harmless fools, the murder of Heather Heyer goes to show just how dangerous and unstable the pathetic types attracted to the Alt-Right can be, and those that protect and enable them will not be spared their share of the blame.

We’re sure that the FOAK will describe this as “guilt by association,” a legal term appropriated by Nazi sympathizers to deflect and distract from criticisms.  Guilt by association is supposed to be in reference to criminal charge having no evidence other than “this guy knew that guy.” It’s not intended to excuse actual behavior, like attending rallies or defending Fascists, nor to insulate someone from the social consequences of doing so. Why exactly shouldn’t someone feel guilty or be judged by others for rallying and defending Neo-Nazis and Klansmen? That’s rhetorical, FOAK.

Spotted at the Unite the Right Rally:

Ellsworth George Lewis III

Ellsworth George Lewis III,, head of PA Alt-Knights, at Unite the Right
Ellsworth George Lewis III at Trump’s Inauguration

Despite claiming on social media that he would not be attending at one point, Ellsworth George Lewis was indeed present at UTR.

In a video posted by Youtube user “Khaos Kekmander Khrone” Ellsworth can be seen milling around nervously in a Bloodsport T-shirt. I guess because he’s a tough underground martial artist (lol)?

Ellsworth works at Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park, PA. Taylor (part of the Crozer Keystone Health System) continues to employ Ellsworth despite his continued association with White Nationalist, Far Right and Neo-Nazi individuals and groups.  Contact their public relations department (link above) and let them know how the public feels about that decision.  He lives in Prospect Park, PA on Lincoln Ave.

Jeff Thomas

Jeff Thomas at Unite the Right

Present with Ellsworth was his “second in command” Jeff Thomas.

Jeff Thomas

Jeff Thomas, was last seen in Philly repeating “I’m not a nazi” over and over while hanging with “Illegal Aryan” and American Vanguard member Daniel Reardon, who was also in Charlottesville.

Apparently hanging with Nazis suited Jeff Thomas fine because he was up to his neck in them at UTR.

In this video (at around 16 min) you can see he even has a brief moment of clarity and weakly comments that the guy carrying a swastika flag is “making them look bad.” No shit, Jeff. Racism and Fascism is a bad look.

Despite this comment, Jeff seemed to have no desire to exercise his first amendment rights to take a vocal stand against Nazism while surrounded by Nazis. How strange, since they love free debate and expression. Was he fearing for his safety should he object to open Nazism being the face of the rally he was attending?  Certainly his associates are not violent individuals like the “evil Antifa” he’s so scared of, so one can only assume his only issue with Nazis was that they were making him “look bad,” and it wasn’t worth it to him to argue.

So this guy will plan and recruit to troll Communists, but can’t be bothered to loudly state opposition to Nazism when it’s right in front of him, despite his claims that he views them both as “collectivism.” Cowardliness, thy name is Jeff Thomas.

After UTR, Thomas took to social media for damage control, again denying any wrongdoing and reaffirming his belief that the greatest fight he could be undertaking at this historical moment is to protect the Free Speech rights of Neo-Nazis.

In a rather hilarious thread on his FB page, Thomas makes the following claim:

What came out in the thread was ample evidence of his ties and sympathies for Nazism/Racism/Bigotry.

He refuses to answer this person’s question outright:

Good question, Jeff

He then goes on to claim that Augustus Invictus is a “great friend” who is “not afraid to debate”

Invictus is then tagged in on the thread by a friend of Thomas’ and shows off his excellent debating skills when one of the commentators literally quotes his own Holocaust denial.

See, at this point in a conversation where someone is accusing you of denying the Holocaust most people would probably just affirm that the Holocaust happened. But Austin Gillespie is too great a debater for such an easy route. Instead, he invokes the supreme debate strategy of “people who think different things than me, their opinions don’t matter.”

But if a regular old racist, sexist, holocaust-denying capitalist isn’t proof positive enough, leave it to New Jersey Neo- Nazi Frank Marlowe (check out the public content for plenty of evidence of Marlow’s nazi views) to bomb into the thread to recommend to Jeff that he just lean into it and become a Fascist:

But how do we even know Marlow is a Fasc-

Nvm

It really is a hilarious thread we recommend reading for as long as he keeps it public.  Just keep in mind Thomas is friends with many far right and White Nationalist figures who may be monitoring the thread so use good security should you decide to comment.

Thomas launches the same old “who, me?” routine while well-meaning friends try and talk sense into him about what it means to participate in a movement regardless of your alleged actual principles.  We get it Jeff: you don’t think people should have to share. What we don’t understand is why you think that is a greater principle than human equality or freedom.

Seems as though Thomas is too much of a narcissist to really self-examine his role in helping create the circumstances in which Heather Heyer died. Even if he did nothing else, had attended no rallies earlier, had not helped organize and recruit for FOAK, insulated Nazis like Daniel Reardon from Anti-Fascists, etc. and ONLY provided security for Invictus, consider this Jeff: what if the speakers had been unable to get security and been forced to cancel UTR before it began? Heather Heyer would be alive today.

Movements are the sum of individuals. Everyone that participates, whoever minor, shares some portion of the credit/blame. Throwing up your hands, pointing fingers, or hiding behind the constitution will not wash the blood off your hands.

Deborah Nemeth

Deb Nemeth at Unite the Right

Another “not Nazi” attending the largest Nazi rally in the U.S. on decades was Deborah Nemeth.

Nemeth arrived with the Kekistanis but was seperated and can be seen in this picture leaving Emancipation Park in between the Traditionalist Worker’s Party and Hammerskins contingents, both open Neo-Nazi groups, and shortly before the group of Klansmen that included Richard Preston, who was arrested for firing a gun towards protesters.

Nemeth has shown no remorse or signs of leaving the movement since UTR. She’s all over the thread on Jeff Thomas’ page mentioned above “liking” all the right wing and apologist posts and arguing with anyone expressing disgust at their involvement in the largest Neo-Nazi rally in this country in decades.

Deborah Nemeth lives in center city. She works as a paralegal and business manager for Piscitello Law as well as Project Manager for Diamond Contractors.

We would like to encourage our readers to contact Nemeth’s employers and let them know that their employee is a willing participant in White Nationalist and Neo-Nazi movements and to ask them to fire her immediately.

Justin and Colin Emerle

Justin Emerle at Unite the Right
Colin Emerle at UTR
Justin Emerle trying to blend into the Refuse Fascism rally but after Antifa started filming him he bounced.

Justin Emerle, aka “Hipster Douche Fascist” briefly attempted to infiltrate the Refuse Fascism crowd a few months back at their rally but dipped out as soon as Antifa began shadowing him around Dilworth. At the time he claimed to be “wasn’t with them” (meaning the Alt-Knights) and was just “checking things out.”

The Emerle brothers sometimes perform as the band Echo Orbiter in the Philly area, though have been on various periods of inactivity the past few years.

Justin and Colin Emerle in an older pic. Note the matching skull tattoo on Justin’s left wrist. Also the fact that these guys are aging hipster douchebags.
Emerele and Lewis discussing Charlottesville. Guess Lewis decided to go after all.

Justin Emerele is even less remorseful than Jeff Thomas, preferring to argue online about semantics or his being offended at being called racist than address the fact that he was rallying with Nazis and Klan, which btw is a pretty fucking racist thing to do.  He is repping Augustus Invictus’ website The Revolutionary Conservative as his FB profile photo.

Eh… no thanks.

Justin Emerle is listed as living on New Street in Westville, NJ.

This is our first time spotting Colin at a far right event, but that’s likely because we didn’t know to look for them, or they were hiding out, possibly as a scout.

This Nazi Kid

Nazi kid at UTR

This Nazi Kid was also trolling at the Refuse Fascism rally.   Despite adamantly pointing out that he “wasn’t white” (his mother, who appeared to be South Asian, was waiting for him nearby) this little guy claimed to support the Traditionalist Worker’s Party and claimed “Hitler did nothing wrong.”

Despite his not-so-aryan heritage, This Nazi Kid was welcomed into the Neo-Nazi contingent of UTR, marching along in a white polo shirt along with Vanguard America, the Neo-Nazi group that the murderer of Heather Heyer was also marching with.

Commando Barbie Alt-Knight

This guy was with the PA Alt-Knights contingent and seemingly very eager to fight Antifa from behind police barricades but demurred from actually backing any of it up. Anyone with information regarding this winner or any of the scum who went to UTR should send it our way.

Let’s pretend for a second we believe that PA FOAK really believe that they are not racists or fascists.  Excuse the unappetizing metaphor, but essentially what Ellsworth Lewis, Jeff Thomas and the rest of PA FOAK are doing is smearing shit on themselves, and then when someone complains about the smell, saying “But we don’t have any body odor! It’s not US, it’s the SHIT that smells!”

It’s not any less disgusting and doesn’t mean you’re entitled to keep your jobs, friends, be served by local businesses, or be free of people pointing out that you smell like shit. Free association cuts both ways you fake-ass “libertarians.”

We have every intention to hold PA FOAK and every other group/individual who attended UTR on the Fascist side accountable.

Some more pics of the PA FOAK crew at UTR:

 

  

 

Love and Solidarity to all Anti-Racists injured in Charlottesville, the family and friends of Heather Heyer, and all those taking a stand against the Fascists and their allies. Rage to our enemies.

Eternal War on the Hitler Youth,

9/9/17: First Philly ABC Letter-writing event on Anniversary of Prison Strike

from Philly ABC

When: Saturday, September 9th, 2017 . 2-5PM
Where
: LAVA, 4134 Lancaster Avenue

Join the newly formed Philly ABC for the first of what will soon be monthly prisoner letter-writing events!  Letter-writing supplies, stamps, and light refreshments will be provided — just bring yourself, friends and comrades.

We will be listening to a podcast featuring two of the prison strike organizers, Siddique Abdullah Hasan and Kinetic Justice.  Hasan is a prison Imam, a skilled writer, and a compassionate mentor and friend to fellow inmates. He was placed on death-row for his alleged leadership role in the 1993 Lucasville rebellion, which occurred shortly before his scheduled release, but he maintains innocence. Kinetic of the Free Alabama Movement has been locked up in solitary confinement for years for organizing, in his words, non-violence protests against the prison system in Alabama.  We will also be signing birthday cards for political prisoners who have birthdays this month: Brian Vaillancourt (Sept 5th), Leonard Peltier (Sept 12th), and Abdul Maumin Khabir (Sept 15th).

For reports and analysis of the 2016 prison strike see The Fire Inside.

If you can’t make it to the event but would like to write on your own:

Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos A. Sanders) #R130559
Ohio State Penitentiary
P.O. Box 1436
Youngstown, OH 44505

Kinetik Justice (In letter, use chosen name Kinetik Justice but address envelope to:)
Robert Earl Council, 181418
Limestone CF D69
28779 Nick Davis Rd.
Harvest, AL 35749

Brian Vaillancourt #M42889
Robinson Correctional Institution
13423 East 1150th Ave.
Robinson, IL 62454

Leonard Peltier #89637-132
USP Coleman I
P.O. Box 1033
Coleman, FL 33521

Abdul Maumin Khabir (aka Melvin Mayes) #09891-000
Federal Medical Center Rochester
P.O. Box 4000
Rochester, MN 55903

Fuck Frank Rizzo Banner

from Instagram

Fuck Frank Rizzo🐷 banner hanging in Center City.

Confront the IACP in Philadelphia this October

From Disrupt IACP Philly

This October, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) will hold their annual conference in Philadelphia. This is a call for an ambitious mobilization to directly disrupt the conference, to publicly spread an explicitly anti-police position, and to attempt to open up space that is hostile to state control. We hope to do so using both coordinated and decentralized, autonomous actions in the area immediately surrounding the conference in Center City and throughout Philly.

The IACP brings together law enforcement agencies from throughout the world to “advance the science and art of police services” through international coordination, training, and policy work. Their 2017 conference will take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, with four days of workshops, an exhibition hall with corporate vendors, and a number of secondary events at other locations. Also, a “general assembly.”

This call for opposition comes from the perspective that policing is inherently a colonial, white supremacist project. From their inception, the police have had as their primary function the maintenance of a social order based on violent domination along lines of race, gender, class & ability; from slave patrols to strike-breakers and from vice squads to gang units. Opposition to the IACP presents a unique opportunity to advance a position that is absolutely against all policing, as a large part of the organization’s agenda mirrors that of those who would reform the institution. Body cameras, diversity in hiring, “trust and accountability,” and above all, “community policing” are all central themes of the conference and to recommendations for “21st Century Policing.”

As the Trump administration (universally endorsed by law enforcement unions during the election) bombastically seeks to reinvigorate the militarization of police, it is a crucial time to aggressively put forward an analysis that recognizes militarization and community policing not as divergent, but as complementary parts of a coherent strategy of domination.

Meanwhile, the hundreds of participating agencies and workshops starkly demonstrate the severe intersectionality of the violence the police have always carried out. Interlocking movements for black liberation, indigenous struggle against colonization, sex workers’ self-determination, resistance to ableist police violence, radical political movements resisting repression, queer rebellion, global anti-imperialism, migrant and refugee justice and no borders movements, housing justice, environmental struggles, and more, all have a stake in opposing the strategies and tactics that will be promoted at this conference.

The IACP conference puts on display what we know from our daily participation in diverse forms of resistance: that every struggle is a struggle against the police.

While all the departments involved have histories of (and foundations in) violence, many have also seen fierce resistance to that violence in the recent past. Participating departments from Albuquerque, Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle, the Bay Area, and more have seen rebellions against them in the last several years. We hope to use this opportunity to build connections with those who carry these memories of antagonism towards the police and contribute to lived experiences of uncontrollable revolt.

A complete list of presenters, vendors, and workshops is available on the conference website, www.theiacpconference.org, but here is a small sampling of some notable participants:

• Peter Newsham, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (who gave orders to kettle protestors on J20)

• Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (speaking on their experience sending officers to repress resistance at Standing Rock)

• Robert Metzger, Chief of Pasco (WA) Police Dept. (presenting “Public Trust After a Police Use of Deadly Force Incident,” based on lessons on maintaining stability after the police murder of Antonio Zambrano-Montes)

• Local departments from Philadelphia, New York, Albuquerque, Seattle, New Orleans, Edmonton, Chicago, Las Vegas, El Salvador, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Tempe, AZ, Tucson, AZ, Dubai, Portland, OR, San Diego, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Vancouver, Australia, Raleigh, NC, Dallas, and many more.

• Federal agencies, including FBI, Border Patrol, ATF and USCIS.

Expect more information and specific calls soon. In the meantime, save the date, make plans, study some maps, learn the terrain and spread the word throughout the region and beyond. Here are some more detailed resources to get started:

Outreach Zine for Reading // Outreach Zine for Printing

Workshop Descriptions and Schedule // Conference Hotel Map // Special Event Schedule

Against White Supremacy // Against the Police

For a world without cops, prisons, or borders.

FTP//1312

Assembly: A discussion with Micheal Hardt

from Facebook

Drawing on ideas developed through their well-known Empire trilogy, Hardt and Negri have produced, in ASSEMBLY, a timely proposal for how current large-scale horizontal movements can develop the capacities for political strategy and decision-making to effect lasting and democratic change.

In recent years “leaderless” social movements have proliferated around the globe, from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe, the Americas, and East Asia. Some of these movements have led to impressive gains: the toppling of authoritarian leaders, the furthering of progressive policy, and checks on repressive state forces. They have also been, at times, disorganized and ineffectual, or suppressed by disoriented and perplexed police forces and governments who fail to effectively engage them.

Why have the movements, which address the needs and desires of so many, not been able to achieve lasting change and create a new, more democratic and just society? If these new social movements are to achieve meaningful revolution, they must invent effective modes of assembly and decision-making structures that rely on the broadest democratic base. We have not yet seen what is possible when the multitude assembles.
[September 7 from 7PM to 9PM at Wooden Shoe Books 704 South St]

Bosses, Workers, and Race in Philadelphia, Part 1

from Tubman-Brown Organization

Philadelphia and the surrounding areas are well known for their poverty, drug addiction, and violence. It is hard to get a straight answer about why this is, and when the answer is given it’s often blatantly racist or racist just under the surface. One of the more common answers, especially among White Philadelphians, is that Black and Latin people are inclined towards crime and violence — whether or not they actually claim people of color are naturally or culturally inferior only depends on if they’re comfortable being an obvious racist or not.

Of course, this explanation is ridiculous. The various Black and Latino/indigenous cultures of Philadelphia are unique in their traditions, their music, their literature, and their history — they are not unique in their inclination towards crime and violence. White Irish and Italian neighborhoods in Philadelphia have always had their share of gang violence, and currently there are majority White neighborhoods, most notably Kensington, that are notorious for drug addiction and drug trade. The Near Northeast and South Philadelphia also provide examples of White poverty easily comparable to the poverty of Black and Brown people throughout the city. Often it seems that the distinction made by White Philadelphians between the White poor and the Brown poor is based on their level of personal comfort instead of any social reality.

It is, however, true that Black and Brown people in Philadelphia are poor at a greater rate than White people in the city. Why is this? The basic answer is that racism has always been used as a tool by politicians and by bosses to divide the poor and working class people. The history of Philadelphia is a history of competition between bosses and workers, hidden by a staged conflict between races and ethnic groups for jobs and living space — both of which would be available to all peoples if not for the artificial scarcity created by bosses and politicians. Working class unity, across racial and ethnic lines, means that workers have leverage over their bosses, something a boss clearly does not want. To maintain control over their workers, an easy and successful strategy is for bosses to, first of all, hire mostly White people if possible. When required to hire Brown workers, they will treat White workers better (and as anyone who has worked for a living knows, a slight difference in the quality of employment goes a long way) so that White workers are loyal to their bosses and will side with the boss against their fellow Black and Brown workers. This produces a self-fulfilling prophecy in which Black and Brown workers will usually be poorer, and as a result are unwilling to put in as much work when they’re treated worse and are considered disposable.

In a country filled with mostly White workers, mostly White politicians, and mostly White bosses, and with a set of laws created to favor White businessmen, it is no mystery why bosses and politicians strategically choose to give White people preference over Black and Brown people. Another successful strategy to bait White people into betraying their class interests is the White police force, and this White police also goes a long way in explaining the larger amount of poverty present in Black and Brown communities.

When Whites were forced to compete both among themselves and against Black workers, they were offered a job not initially offered to people of color — that of the policeman, a new job that came around with the growth of cities in the mid 1800s. When many White immigrants, especially the Irish, took this job of the policeman, it gave their own ethnic community power to enforce their interests, a power that other communities did not have. It is often mentioned that the Irish were once discriminated against — this is true. It is also often claimed by racists that the Irish pulled themselves out of discrimination and that Black and Brown people could do the same if they really wanted to. This is simply wrong. The Irish were not discriminated against as White people — rather, they were discriminated against until they became White, and they became White by serving White interests. Also this was clearly made easier through having a physical appearance compatible with Whiteness. But consider the Russians and Ukrainians who now have their distinct communities in Philadelphia. They may be light skinned and white by a wide definition, but there is certainly a distinction made between a White person and a person from Russia. And further, a Puerto Rican person with light skin is not considered White the moment their accent reveals them as Puerto Rican. These categories we have been placed into are not inevitable.

When many police were Irish, the Irish community was able to “lift themselves up” by choosing not to arrest other Irish, and choosing to arrest those Black and Brown people they believed were competition for their own people. When many able bodied Black workers, the economic pillar of the Black community, were arrested for the same things able bodied White workers were allowed to go free for, this created a situation in which the Irish were able to improve their economic situation through undermining Blacks.