New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Archive for the ‘Joel Olson’

Diversity Is Strength

April 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Joel Olson, Politics

Whiteness and the 99 Percent

by Joel Olson

{Editor’s note: This is one of the last pieces written by NCV Contributor Joel Olson, who recently passed away and left us far too early. This essay, written in October 2011, indicates both Joel’s deep-seated radicalism and his abundant kindness of spirit. As Joel always reminded us with his words and deeds alike, “The only thing that can stop us is us.”}

Occupy Wall Street and the hundreds of occupations it has sparked nationwide are among the most inspiring events in the U.S. in the 21st century. The occupations have brought together people to talk, occupy, and organize in new and exciting ways. The convergence of so many people with so many concerns has naturally created tensions within the occupation movement. One of the most significant tensions has been over race. This is not unusual, given the racial history of the United States. But this tension is particularly dangerous, for unless it is confronted, we cannot build the 99%. The key obstacle to building the 99% is left colorblindness, and the key to overcoming it is to put the struggles of communities of color at the center of this movement. It is the difference between a free world and the continued dominance of the 1%. (more…)

Joel Olson, 1967-2012

March 30, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Joel Olson, Politics

Mourning the Loss of a Colleague, Comrade, and Friend

We are deeply saddened by the loss of esteemed activist, writer, scholar, and NCV Contributor Joel Olson, who passed away while on sabbatical in Europe.

Joel was Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he specialized in political theory. A noted expert on racial politics and extremist ideologies, he was the author of The Abolition of White Democracy (University of Minnesota Press, 2004) as well as numerous articles and reviews. Joel was working on a second book, entitled American Zealot: Fanaticism and Democracy in the United States, at the time of his death.

During the 1990s Joel was involved with the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation and later went on to form Bring the Ruckus! He was a well-known figure in the anti-racist and pro-immigrant movements in Arizona, working with grassroots groups including Copwatch and the Repeal Coalition. (more…)

Arizona’s Two Futures

March 21, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Joel Olson, Politics

Youth Movements Confront Legislated Intolerance

by Joel Olson

As spring heats into summer in the desert, two Arizonas fight for supremacy.  One, lodged in power in the Arizona State Capitol, drafts anti-immigrant and “fiscally responsible” bills with glee. It is old, it is white, it is dour and narrow.  The other protests these bills from outside the capitol walls.  It is young, it is largely brown, it is hopeful but angry, and it aims to clash with the old Arizona.  And last Thursday it earned its first victory.

The day before that, a hundred youth from six weeks old to drinking age marched on the Capitol to protest a rash of anti-immigrant bills that, if passed, would have made Arizona’s notorious SB 1070 look like an act of charity.  These five bills challenged the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship and would have required every member of official society — from nurses to teachers to school secretaries to doctors to employers — to check a person’s immigration status before healing or educating or hiring them. (more…)

Corruption and Class Struggle

January 13, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Economy, Joel Olson, Politics

What It’s Really Like to Live in Arizona

by Joel Olson

With the passage of the notorious anti-immigrant bill SB 1070 last spring, the outlawing of ethnic studies as of January 1st, the gutting of the school and university systems, the collapsed housing market, the high unemployment rates, and now the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, you might be wondering what it’s like to actually live in Arizona right about now.

In short: it ain’t easy. But it helps to put Giffords’s shooting in historical perspective, which is defined by two things in Arizona: corruption and class struggle.  And ironically, this perspective gives me hope about the radically democratic future of my home state.

Arizona’s economy was founded on the Five Cs: copper, cotton, cattle, citrus, and climate (tourism). These Cs were controlled by big mining and agricultural interests and real estate developers. Corruption was commonplace as they manipulated the political system for their benefit. A group of these capitalists, called the Phoenix 40, controlled state politics until the 1970s, when the political establishment opened up some. But even after their rule, the state capitol has always been a place to lie, bribe, and scam your way to what you want. If the names Don Bowles, Evan Mecham, AZscam, Fife Symington, or the Keating 5 (which included Senator John McCain) mean anything to you, then you know that corruption is as plentiful as the parking here. And I haven’t even mentioned Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio or State Senator Russell Pearce, the tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum of racist nativism. (more…)