[Marxism] Fwd: Here's How We Prepare to Be Ungovernable in 2017

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 5 07:08:17 MST 2017

What I like about the approach of Kali and leaders of other movements he's
working with, is that they have a plan for resistance to Trump based in
real grassroots movements with intelligent - and therefore in the end more
militant because more real - tactics, as opposed to the base-less "shut it
down" calls of the childish tankie groups.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Portside moderator <moderator at portside.org>
Date: Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 8:31 PM
Subject: Here's How We Prepare to Be Ungovernable in 2017
To: PORTSIDE at lists.portside.org


Here's How We Prepare to Be Ungovernable in 2017

Sarah Lazare
January 1, 2017

*A conversation with Kali Akuno, organizer with Cooperation Jackson and the
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.*

, Cooperation Jackson <http://www.cooperationjackson.org/>,

“We cannot and should not legitimize the transfer of authority to a
right-wing populist who has neo-fascist orientations,” Kali Akuno told
AlterNet over the phone. “We shouldn’t legitimize that rule in any form or
fashion. We need to build a program of being ungovernable.”

As the co-director of the Mississippi-based group Cooperation Jackson
<http://www.cooperationjackson.org/>and an organizer with the
nationwide Malcolm
X Grassroots Movement <https://mxgm.org/>, Akuno is one of countless people
across the country working diligently to build a platform sturdy enough to
confront Trump’s America.

Movimiento Cosecha, led by undocumented people and immigrants, is planning
to go on the offensive to organize a migrant boycott and general strike
demanding “permanent protection, dignity, and respect of immigrants.”
Groups including Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) are already striking
preemptive blows against a potential Muslim registry under Trump by
successfully demanding that the Obama administration eliminate the
regulatory framework for a Bush-era registry. The New Sanctuary Movement,
meanwhile, is getting ready to mobilize large numbers of people to
intervene against a potential escalation of raids targeting immigrants.

For Akuno, whose organizations strive for self-determination for people of
African descent and the eco-socialist transformation of society as a whole,
now is an important time for movements to be talking to each other and
strategizing how to unfold a program of noncompliance and noncooperation on
both the federal and state levels. “We are not going to legitimize this
regime, and we are going to try to draw a deeper level of criticism to the
entire system,” he emphasized. “If Trump and Clinton were the best the
system could offer, there is something wrong with the system. There always
has been. We need to start envisioning what kind of future we want and

*A call for civil servants to resist*

“A core component of resistance is to get the class of civil servants,
particularly on the federal but also the state level, to not comply with
arbitrary laws and policies that are going to be created,” said Akuno. “To
not recognize the laws we know are coming that will discriminate against
Black people, Latinos, immigrants and queer people. There is no need for
anyone to comply. Let’s not give it legitimacy just because it’s the law.
We need to be prepared to disobey and engage in civil disobedience. We need
to get ready for that now.”

Akuno said there are already encouraging signs that such resistance is
building among civil servants. Concerned that critical climate data will
vanish under a climate-change denying Trump administration, scientists and
meteorologists are working to copy and safely store public data using
independent servers. Earlier this month, the University of Toronto held a
“Guerrilla Archiving” event inviting volunteers to “join in a full day of
hackathon activities in preparation for the Trump presidency.” The website
“Climate Mirror” was erected as part of an effort to “mirror public climate
datasets before the Trump Administration takes office to make sure these
datasets remain freely and broadly accessible.”

Meanwhile, media reports are emerging that some Department of Energy
officials are refusing to comply with a Trump administration demand to hand
over the names of all of the agency’s contractors and employers who have
worked on key climate policies under President Barack Obama. The request
elicited concerns of a witch hunt and purge orchestrated by the incoming
administration. But The Independent reported earlier this month, “The US
Department of Energy (DOE) has refused to answer questions issued to them
by Donald Trump’s transition team.”

In a letter dated December 28, attorney general offices from 13 states
threatened litigation against Trump if he discards the Clean Power Plan, as
he has vowed to do.

Such resistance, of course, contrasts with the narrative of a “peaceful
transition of power” at times embraced by the Obama administration and much
of the Democratic party. But among lower-level workers, opportunities for
resistance are manifold. According to Akuno, “it is impressive to see a
certain level of resistance that members of civil society are already
engaging in. I don’t think this should be taken lightly. A broad alliance
can be made, with a clear articulation of a call for resistance.”

Akuno emphasized that such resistance is just one prong of a broader
strategy that he says entails “not going to work, not participating in your
run-of-the-mill economic activities, with the hope and aim that we can
build prolonged acts of civil disobedience that lead to a general strike.”
While such plans are not fully fleshed out, he noted organizations across
the country are actively discussing such a possibility.

*‘Build and fight’*

Strategies for large-scale disobedience should be buttressed by local plans
that simultaneously prepare us for survival and orient us towards social
transformation, he argued. “Cooperation Jackson is in the midst of a pivot
that we’re calling, ‘Build and Fight,’” said Akuno, explaining that the
initiative is premised on the assumption that “the left’s infrastructure
domestically and internationally is profoundly weak. There needs to be a
building piece in our view. This has to be a primary focus, and we want to
build something that leans in an anti-capitalist orientation, like
community-production based, cooperatively-owned digital fabrication.”

For inspiration, Cooperation Jackson looks to Black freedom organizers like
Fannie Lou Hamer, who, in 1969, helped found the Freedom Farm Cooperative
in Sunflower County, Mississippi, which was aimed at boosting food security
and independence for Black community members who faced systematic
dispossession. The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, meanwhile, has
played a critical role in protecting those communities on the frontlines of
Black freedom and civil rights movements.

According to Akuno, now is a time to fortify infrastructure for autonomy
and resistance. “That’s where co-ops, land trusts, time banking, mutual
exchange, community production and other new social relationships come in,”
he said. “We want to build society in a prefigurative way. We want a
guaranteed level of food security and energy security. We need bottom-up
solutions to sustain ourselves and transform the world.”

Towards this end, Cooperation Jackson is building three green cooperatives,
as well as an eco-village aimed, protected by a community land trust. These
bottom-up alternatives are coupled with a push for policies aimed at a
“just transition” away from policies that worsen climate change and
environmental racism.

In materials emailed to AlterNet, the organization explained that its
approach is “premised on ending our systemic dependence on the hydro-carbon
industry and the capitalist driven need for endless growth on a planet with
limited resources, while creating a new, democratic economy that is
centered around sustainable methods of production and distribution that are
more localized and cooperatively owned and controlled.”

“We need to be building participatory democratic structures from below,”
Akuno emphasized. “We should be building people’s assemblies, not as a
substitute of the state, but to deal with areas where the neoliberal state
is failing to provide basic social services.”

*Learning from history*

“This moment calls us to really look at our collective history critically,”
said Akuno. “In reality, this is not a democratic society, never has been.
But, it’s based on democratic myths, not the concrete practice of
democracy. We can look at the struggles of indigenous, Black, Xican@,
Puerto Rican communities and draw new lessons. We can win genuine
multiracial class unity that can benefit us during this time of struggle."

Akuno emphasized that there are plenty of lessons to be learned from
struggles around the world. “In the 1950s through 80s, movements fought the
right-wing neo-fascist dictatorships of Argentina and Chile,” he said. “It
took decades to turn the tide, people were organizing on an underground
basis after most of the left was liquidated. How folks organized and
delegitimized the regime—I think there’s a lot to be learned from that.”

>From South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement to Spain’s civil war to
1930s-era Germany, Akuno emphasized that we need to “use history as a
guide.” But he also underscored that we have to recognize what is unique
about this moment, which he says emerges from a uniquely American legacy of
“white supremacy in its segregationist apartheid form.”

“The orientation we’re taking is not just about surviving Trump, but
drawing attention to the fact that the system was already heading towards
more severe types of repression, surveillance and austerity,” he said.
“We’re also looking at the global dynamics as to why right-wing populism
and fascism is spreading internationally.” What is clear, says Akuno, is
that the right-wing populism of the Trump administration will not be
defeated by civil discourse and liberal democracy. He emphasized, “If we
are serious and steadfast, we can create a clear and comprehensive message
around being ungovernable.”

*Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for
Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn
Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.*

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