New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Like Bees to Nectar

November 15, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Chellis Glendinning, Ecology, Politics

On the Value of Our Social Movements

by Chellis Glendinning 

(To Elizabeth Hallett, who has devoted her life to social change and caring for the wounded.)

It’s yet another bloqueo, paro y huelga in Bolivia, nary a week passes without one or two or three somewhere in the country. The syndicates, collectives, and communities are in the streets marching, striking, blocking traffic with boulders and tires, hurling rocks at the police, shooting firecrackers, martyring themselves in hunger strikes — causing havoc, threatening the national economy, pushing the blind eye of government to see their demands. All the while, activists, protestors, and anti-globalization visionaries in “advanced” societies are stunned, inspired, awed. And green with envy.

The campesinos and city folk in Cochabamba’s 2000 Water War, after all, put a stop to an already-signed contract with mega-corporation Bechtel to privatize water sources and delivery, while those in the 2003 Gas War in El Alto brought down a government.

Yes, green with envy. (more…)

Lifting the Tent Flap

September 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: John L. Murphy, Politics

Exploring the Impact and Legacy of the Occupy Movement

by John L. Murphy

At the outset, I asked myself: “Why a subtitled ‘apocalypse’?” It derives from “the lifting of a veil,” so when a fresh revelation appears it transforms the past as well as the present; then there’s no going back, only forward. Fresh from finishing a study of attempts to verify the divine presence, God in Proof (2012), Nathan Schneider, jittery and curious, reports “notes” from the revelations emanating from Occupy Wall Street in the late summer of 2011. Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse (University of California Press, 2013) investigates an energy more tangible than most theology — yet sharing the spirited, mass appeal of what may elude those less fervent.

Idealistic enough to cheer on the Occupy protests, realistic enough to catalogue their failures, Schneider brings the same alert witness and affable analysis that his book on belief featured. As with any cabal of devotees, Occupy began with commitment by a spellbound few. Zuccotti Park, rechristened by the encampment with its pre-corporate name as Liberty Square, “was a place especially conducive to those of us with obsessive tendencies, who like to be consumed in a given interest or project to the exclusion of all else. There, the god of ordinary life was dead, resurrected in the business of self-reliance.” (more…)

The Impossible Community

June 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Guest Author, John Clark, Politics

An Interview with John Clark on Communitarian Anarchism

by Alyce Santoro

To social ecologists, environmental issues are, at their core, socio-economic issues. The same sense of separateness that justifies our exploitation and domination of one another makes possible similar acts of violence against nature. As long as we remain oblivious to underlying flaws in our collective logic (i.e., that it is reasonable to endlessly consume non-renewable resources on a finite planet; that peaceful, just societies can emerge out of competitive, hierarchical frameworks) any responses we could devise will be insufficient to significantly alter our current course. A social ecological approach to “saving the environment” would require balancing relationships between humans and other humans, and between humans and all other phenomena. It sounds like a tall order…and it is. In light of the obvious destructive effects of systems within which we are obliged to strive for quantity of goods for one over quality of life for all, we are now faced with two choices: pull off the impossible, or perish. (more…)

The Color Maroon

April 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Guest Author, Politics

Lessons on Life, Liberation from Imprisoned Activist Russell Shoatz

Russell Maroon Shoatz is a former leader of the Black Panthers and the Black freedom movement, born in Philadelphia in 1943 and originally imprisoned in January 1972 for actions relating to his political involvement. With an extraordinary thirty-plus years spent in solitary confinement — including the past twenty-three years continuously — Maroon’s case is one of the most shocking examples of U.S. torture of political prisoners, and one of the most egregious examples of human rights violations regarding prison conditions anywhere in the world. His “Maroon” nickname is, in part, due to his continued resistance — which twice led him to escape confinement; it is also based on his continued political analysis, including recent writings on ecology and matriarchy that are found in his recently published book: Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz.

This interview was conducted via correspondence by Lisa Guenther, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. (more…)

Martyrs for Justice

April 27, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

The Haymarket Affair and the Origins of May Day

by Jerry Elmer 

May 1st is May Day, the international workers’ holiday honoring the labor movement. May Day is celebrated in at least 80 countries worldwide, from Argentina to Vietnam, but not in the United States. Here, our “Labor Day” was carefully put into September – by President Grover Cleveland in 1894 – specifically so that we would not observe May Day, with all of its radical roots in syndicalist labor history. This is deeply ironic, for the event that gave rise to May Day observances the world over occurred right here in the United States: the bombing at Haymarket Square, Chicago, on May 4, 1886, during a labor rally.

The context for the Haymarket riot in 1886 was the movement for the eight-hour work day. The movement had started at least as early as 1877, when the Workingmen’s Party in Chicago called a general strike beginning July 25 in support of the eight-hour movement. The next day, on July 26, 1877, thousands of strikers were attacked and beaten into submission by police and U.S. Army infantrymen with fixed bayonets. Thirty strikers, including a number of children, were murdered by the police and federal troops. During that strike, typesetter Albert Parsons, later one of the Haymarket martyrs, was fired from his job because of a speech he had given during the strike. The bloody suppression of the 1877 strike caused another of the Haymarket martyrs, upholsterer August Spies, to join an armed worker’s self-defense organization. (more…)

The Hope of Occupy

December 09, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Economy, Jan Lundberg, Politics

Bank and Land Occupations — It’s Not Over Yet, by a Long Shot

by Jan Lundberg

Occupy Santa Cruz has had in three days three major setbacks. Perhaps they were fruitless attempts to set back the movement.  The last one in the series, that the police moved to pull off on Dec. 7, is the eviction and dismantling of the tent city of Occupiers (and previously homeless folk) downtown at San Lorenzo Park by the river.  [Update: the tent city was partly abandoned by dark on the 7th, and the police came in after 7 AM the next day, arresting five people.] The police and their backers might think they are on a roll. This report shows this thinking would be flawed. (more…)

From Planton to Occupy

December 07, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Bacon, Economy, Politics

Unions, Immigrants, and the Occupy Movement

by David Bacon

When Occupy Seattle called its tent camp “Planton Seattle,” camp organizers were laying a local claim to a set of tactics used for decades by social movements in Mexico, Central America and the Philippines.  And when immigrant janitors marched down to the detention center in San Diego and called their effort Occupy ICE (the initials of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency responsible for mass deportations), people from countries with that planton tradition were connecting it to the Occupy movement here.

This shared culture and history offer new possibilities to the Occupy movement for survival and growth at a time when the Federal law enforcement establishment, in cooperation with local police departments and municipal governments, has uprooted many tent encampments. (more…)