October 2020


  1. It’s time for a migrant rights movement
  2. Uprise Online: Professor discusses social movements in the digital age
  3. The Problem of Surplus White Men
  4. What lies ahead for Fridays for Future and the youth climate movement

It’s time for a migrant rights movement


“ This lurch to the right, towards escalated attacks and rhetoric, will not end on its own.”

On October 12, 2010, Jimmy Mubenga was bundled onto a British Airways charter flight by G4S security guards. He was 46 years old. A father to a young family, Jimmy had been fighting for the right to remain in Britain with his wife and children.

After speaking with his wife over the phone, he became emotional, telling her that he didn’t know what he was going to do if separated from her. Returning to his seat he was handcuffed into his chair and forcibly held down by G4S security guards. Passengers on the flight report that Jimmy said to them “‘All you people are watching them kill me. I can’t breathe. They are going to kill me.’”

Despite Jimmy’s death being ruled an unlawful killing, nobody has ever been held responsible. The G4S guards were cleared of manslaughter charges: at their trial, evidence from their phones which were littered with obscene racist ‘jokes’, was deemed inadmissible.

There has never been justice for Jimmy, but this weekend a nationwide mobilisation will seek to mark the tenth anniversary of his death and call for justice for him and all those killed by the brutality of British immigration policies.

Jimmy’s killing is but one in a string of deaths associated with Britain’s cruel border regime. This includes those whose lives were cut short in obvious ways – killed by the police, immigration officers or private contractors – as well as many thousands of others drowned at sea, suffocated in trucks, denied healthcare or forced to eke out an existence at the margins of society unable to work, rent, study or live freely.

And it is sobering to think how drastically worse things are today than they were in 2010. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, with capitalism in crisis, migrants became the target for governments looking to divide working class communities and force through their austerity programme. Migrants were the scapegoat for failing and underfunded public services, with asylum seekers blamed for everything from inadequate social housing, to robbing ‘native’ Britons of their jobs, hospital beds and school places.


Two Immigration Acts in 2012 and 2014 made things considerably worse by embedding the insidious ‘Hostile Environment’ policies across society.

Two Immigration Acts in 2012 and 2014 made things considerably worse by embedding the insidious ‘Hostile Environment’ policies across society, turning public servants, teachers, doctors, and landlords into border guards, all against the backdrop of an escalated fear-mongering in the media. Hostile Environment policies have reinforced racism and facilitated the exclusion of those racialised as ‘migrants’ from public services.

Fast forward to today, and the levels of barbarism have only increased. The small number of migrants arriving by boat on England’s south coast are being relocated to old military barracks without access to basic healthcare and legal advice, or the ability to contact loved ones. And they aren’t done yet. Leaked documents from the Home Office reveal discussions about placing newly arrived migrants on oil rigs, empty ferries, or isolated islands in the South Atlantic.

Make no mistake, Britain is well on its way to fascism.


The migrant justice movement we need

This lurch to the right, towards escalated attacks and rhetoric, will not end on its own. Neither can it be stopped by fragmented campaigns or initiatives. Instead, as organisations and as communities, we have to work together to build a movement that can challenge and reverse this dangerous trajectory.

Where do we begin? Elsewhere, comrades have written about the causes of our current predicament and how the radicalism of migrant communities and groups has been undermined by a combination of state capture and suppression, NGO-isation and bureaucracy. This has forced many migrant organisations to rely on models of advocacy and lobbying which can occasionally be successful but are increasingly ineffective in the face of Government intransigence and authoritarianism. This is attested to by the hundreds of open letters, private letters, or petitions that migrant groups have signed and sent, which the Government rarely acknowledges, and to which they even less frequently reply.

To overcome this political dead-end we need to build more substantial roots in our communities, creating powerful institutions linked together in the form of a dynamic and inclusive movement that can unite us in the fight for justice. We need radical solidarity where we fight for each other in the face of increasing far-right attacks and attempts to divide us.


To overcome this political dead-end we need to build more substantial roots in our communities.

Our guide for how to do this can be found all around us. It can be found first and foremost in migrant communities today, in the strength and capacities of our organisers. It can be found in our history, where the ‘migrant justice movement’ – as part of a much more broadly conceived racial justice organising – posed a serious threat to Britain’s capitalist-driven colonial structures. It can be seen all around the world, from the US to France, where vibrant, broad movements fighting to overturn racist migration policies have organised themselves and won in the face of overwhelming odds.

These are more than merely inspiring stories, they provide ideas and blueprints for how we need to take forward our own work. Most importantly, their examples show us precisely what the structure of a movement can bring in terms of force and ability to achieve principled wins and structural change. The collective question that migrant organisations, communities and campaigners must now tackle together is how we create such a movement in Britain today.

As a tentative answer, Migrants Organise has facilitated the creation of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) Charter, a collectively conceived document that sets out the demands and movement principles articulated by migrant communities. In the document, ‘migration’ is not a distinct phenomenon from racism and colonial injustice, but rather, appears as the most visible expression of these oppressive structures and ideologies. The FIRM Charter calls attention to the serious societal changes needed to establish a fair, just and rights-based migration policy. However it is not definitive, but rather the start of a conversation about how we go forward. This urgent conversation requires collective input from the entirety of those to whose work and lives it is relevant.


This urgent conversation requires collective input from the entirety of those to whose work and lives it is relevant.

The first, tentative steps of this movement-building initiative will take place over the next few days, as part of a weekend of action against the brutality of the British immigration system. Despite the complications created by Covid-19, organisers have prepared public actions – some in person and some online – that are the first mobilisation directed at creating this wider movement. All are invited to join.

From Liverpool to Coventry, Folkestone to Sheffield, London to Hastings, migrant-led groups, together with community associations, anti-racist oganisations, renters’ unions, climate groups, healthcare workers, and many more, are joining together to stand up to the increasingly authoritarian forces that seek to divide us, to demand justice for Jimmy Mubenga and all those whose lives have been destroyed, and to ensure that it never happens again.


By : Aliya Yule

Date : October 8, 2020

Source : Open Democracy


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Uprise Online: Professor discusses social movements in the digital age


Professor David Love discusses the Black Lives Matter movement and the revolution’s worldwide presence in real-life and online spaces.

Political commentator, freelance journalist and adjunct professor at the Klein College of Media and Communication, David Love has been a guest on CNN, MSNBC and SiriusXM. At Temple, he’s taught #ourmedia: Community, Activist, Citizens’ and Radical Media and, right now, his teachings feel as relevant as ever. The class centers on social movements that transpire online, as well as the mobilization of grassroots organizations around the globe.

The Black Lives Matter movement has gained unprecedented momentum. Temple Now spoke with Love about why that is and the unique advantages of uprising online.


Temple Now: How does your work relate to the protests against racial injustice that are going on right now?

David Love: I am now writing almost exclusively on what’s going on in terms of the Black Lives Matter movement and on COVID-19-adjacent issues. I’m looking at all of it: the protests and all of the issues surrounding the protests. I’m looking at the fallout from the pandemic and the implications in terms of the economy. We have millions of people who are unemployed, what are they going to do? Currently, our environment is one where people struggle on a daily basis just to live.

We have no choice but to proceed in this movement’s direction because it is all so dire right now. And I get the sense that people in positions of power don’t really understand how bad things are. Sometimes I’m astounded that I’m actually writing about these issues. It’s very alarming, but also sort of cathartic to be able to be a part of the process and to help people think through these ideas in the moment that we’re now present for.


TN: How do the courses you instruct inform students on the injustices faced by Black and Indigneous individuals and people of color today?

DL: I teach about social justice movements and about their intersection with the media. And I think that work is just as important, probably even more important now. One way to really understand racial oppression in this country is to come to terms with what has been done to marginalized groups. And you cannot look at the history of this country without understanding the basis for the U.S. economy: This country was built on the genocide of native people and the enslavement of Africans.

Unfortunately, when we examine the plight of disenfranchised marginalized groups and historically dispossessed people, it’s often viewed as a side issue. It’s maybe something we’ll learn about for extra credit—not often is it centerfield. And we’re paying the price of that right now. Within public schools and in colleges, students really don’t learn that history.

As a result of that vacuum, people are able to come in and present their own narrative. An example is the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who have been responsible for erecting confederate statues. But they didn’t stop there. They’ve also had an influence on school curriculum. The Daughters have influenced textbooks, notably in southern states where they advocate and lobby for a particular point of view. This view that white supremacy and the Confederacy were somehow noble ideas—noble causes that had nothing to do with slavery.

That’s sort of a microcosm of the problem that’s going on in society. There is an opportunity for us to shift gears and start to tell the stories of people who have been left out of history, and one of the objectives of my academic work is to achieve this.


TN: What is unique about this movement that differs from past uprisings?

DL: We never know what conditions will create a rebellion or revolution. I was an activist in New York City in the mid to late 90s working on police violence and the internet was relatively new, so there wasn’t online organizing. Though now, most of us own cell phones. When we see acts of police violence, we can record and stream them in real time. And I believe that’s a very potent tool.

There was something in particular about George Floyd’s murder. The fact that all of it was captured. All of it was recorded and from different perspectives. There wasn’t just one account, we saw several different videos. It’s important for people to not entirely look away and to really come to terms with it.

Digital media has the potential to keep this movement going, but I don’t think it’s a substitute for the in-person organizing. I’ve attended some of the rallies here in Philadelphia with my family, with masks and physical distancing, of course. It builds community, particularly when people have been isolated for all these months. Ultimately, it’s going to have to be a combination of the virtual movement building alongside the traditional in-person work.


TN: In what ways has the internet allowed us to take matters into our own hands? How are we redefining the way we consume media?

DL: The gatekeepers of the media are losing their grip. The Black community sought alternatives. Those who traditionally have not been invited to speak on news channels are having these conversations about COVID-19 and police violence on their own terms.

There are livestreams, podcasts, Zoom conferences—forms of alternative media. It shows how the mainstream corporate media have not properly addressed these issues and fail to reflect the views and concerns of a wide variety of groups in society.

So now we ask, “Why not just seize control of the means of media production and create our own show? We’ll have our own guests on and talk about what’s important to us.” Alternative media has the potential to step in and take over the spaces where traditional media outlets haven’t been serving the public.


TN: What are the best ways that white people can engage in activism?

DL: People should educate themselves. There are many resources out there to help people understand the full scope of these issues and the historical context of where we are now. James Baldwin is one example that comes to mind when considering reading material.

We need to also engage other white people. Black people will be on the front lines of this struggle. But I think ultimately white people are going to have to do the heavy lifting. They need to reach other white people.

Join an organization that is working toward racial and economic justice. It’s an opportunity for white folks to get engaged and to really take a look at systems of power and privilege in this country. We are looking at the wholeness of inequality.

A lot of mistakes are made when you find yourself in new territory. You’re always going to make mistakes. White people who get involved need to understand it’s not about them. It’s about creating a society where Black people and people of color feel safe and have justice, and dismantling the systems that got us here. And I believe that the system of racial exploitation and violence enslaves everyone—including those who are not necessarily the victims, but who benefit from being locked into an inescapable system of oppression.


TN: What advice would you give to those who want to get involved in their communities?

DL: If there isn’t a student organization that is working on issues that concern you, consider forming one. Stay engaged with the administration and voice your opinions. Hold their feet to the fire, ensure that they are instituting the policies that you would like to see realized. It’s vital to be in a learning environment and community where your values are reflected and respected.

Recognize that you are living in a moment of history right now, and we are writing this history. The leadership of young people and students is something to pay attention to. They are not sitting back and watching things happen and hoping things turn out a certain way, young people are making the moves.


By : Nick Eiser

Date : September 16, 2020

Source : Temple University 


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The Problem of Surplus White Men


The problem of America today is the problem of white men.

Who lies at the intersection of guns, right-wing fanaticism, pandemic and climate change denialism? Who ensures that racism continues to course through the lifeblood of the country? Who stands in the way of gender equality? Who supports foreign wars and the military-industrial complex? Who is getting hit hard by the erosion of the manufacturing base in the heartland?

White men.

White men are twice as likely as non-white men and white women to own guns. Although white women espouse racist right-wing views as much or even more than white men, it is the latter that overwhelmingly show up to vote, to gather with guns on the street, and to intimidate non-whites in person and on social media.

Conservative white men have been at the forefront of climate denialism, according to a fascinating sociological study from 2011, and it’s not just Donald Trump who hates to wear masks during a pandemic but men more generally. A significant gender gap exists on the use of force, with women considerably less likely to support military intervention.

Take the example of Brad Pascale, Trump’s former campaign manager. He was detained in Florida this week after allegedly hurting his wife, waving around guns, and talking about suicide. After his demotion to a digital consultant position on the campaign in July, he no doubt was worried about losing work altogether after the November election.

There it is in a nutshell: white male violence, right-wing politics, and anxiety over economic security. And residual white privilege. If Pascale were African-American, an encounter with the police like that might not have ended peacefully.

Of course, I’m not talking about all white men. Plenty of white women have jumped on the alt-right bandwagon. And American conservatives can always point to a few people like Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, and Diamond and Silk to allege that their ideology is color-blind.

But white men who are all revved up with no place to go pose the greatest challenge to American democracy. They are the core of Donald Trump’s support. They are showing up on the streets in militia formations and with Proud Boy banners. The “manosphere” of online anti-feminism is the gateway for many right-wing activists who worry about being “replaced” by minorities and immigrants. And white men have been struggling with a long period of enormous economic dislocation that has turned them into a surplus labor force.

If Donald Trump loses in November, these white men will remain a problem. After all, unlike liberals who threaten to decamp to New Zealand if Biden loses, disgruntled Trump bros are not going to just up and leave the United States.

Yet that’s precisely how countries long dealt with the problem of surplus white men.


Go West, Surplus White Man

In the bad old days, countries handled surplus men by sending them off to populate far-off lands.

The political and religious misfits of the incipient British empire sailed off to settle the land that hugged the eastern seaboard of North America. Later, the British exported its unruliest men to the prison colony of Botany Bay in Australia. The imperial nations of France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Portugal similarly redirected male energy into meeting, enslaving, and killing the locals of distant places. Those white men who didn’t have imperial realms to colonize —  Germans, Italians, Scandinavians, Irish — ended up founding America’s early immigrant communities.

Men with little prospect of improvement have always been a potential source of trouble. They turn to drink, to crime, to revolution — and sometimes all three — if left to their own devices. The law of primogeniture, whereby the oldest son inherited all and left the other male heirs penniless, only compounded the problem by producing a seemingly endless supply of dispossessed men.

For its first 100 years of existence, the United States had a convenient safety valve for such male restlessness: the Western frontier. In the Midwest, the Southwest, and the Far West, the industrious built family farms, the greedy sought gold, and the opportunistic robbed banks. Along the way, they did what white men often did in those days: kicked the locals off the land and killed them when they refused to leave.

When the frontier closed at the end of the 19th century, white men enlisted to expand a new American empire in the Spanish-American War and through expeditionary interventions in Latin America. World War I and the flu epidemic of 1918 “solved” the problem of the surplus with a ruthless cull of more than 100,000 men. Later, World War II removed four times that many from the equation.

Since that time, America has continued to go to war. But the U.S. government also made an effort to deal with its white male population by creating well-paying jobs in an expanding manufacturing sector and offering returning soldiers a leg up through programs like the GI bill.

This golden age of American economic growth, however, was primarily a golden age for the white American male. White women, if they broke with tradition to enter the workforce, earned considerably less than their male counterparts. And Black Americans, especially prior to the successes of the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, were relegated to second-class citizenship.

In 1960, a mere 2 percent of women and Black men worked in high-wage jobs like engineering and law. Virtually all doctors in the United States were white men. Racism and sexism permeated the immediate post-war government programs.

In the 1960s, as a result of powerful social movements, women and minorities began to rise professionally. They continued to make gains in the ensuing decades, but the U.S. economy as a whole hit a brick wall in the early 1970s. Real wages peaked in 1973. Imports began to appear more frequently on supermarket shelves and in car showrooms. Unions began to shed members in the 1970s and 1980s. And by the 1990s, the manufacturing jobs began to shift overseas — first with a massive expansion of the maquiladora program in Mexico after the passage of NAFTA and then to low-wage locations in Asia. Between 2000 and 2014, the United States lost 5 million manufacturing jobs.

These economic transformations left behind many male blue-collar workers. They could still get jobs, but those jobs didn’t pay as well as the manufacturing positions of the golden age. In response, this proletariat didn’t organize against the ruling capital class. Increasingly, these workers listened to sexist, racist, and xenophobic slogans that blamed women, minorities, and immigrants for taking away their jobs. The financial crisis of 2008-2009 swelled the ranks of the new right with many angry white men from the middle class as well.

This is not a purely American problem. Angry white men have been a fixture in European right-wing politics, in Australia, in Israel. Machismo has long played a role in Latin American politics and, despite the rise of feminism across the continent, continues to influence electoral outcomes from Colombia to Brazil. Even China, where men can get jobs but not necessarily wives, has to deal with a problem of surplus men, given the population’s preference for male babies. India, too, faces an excess of 37 million men.

But the United States must address a particularly toxic version of this problem because of the country’s endemic racism, polarized politics, and Rust Belt economics. Angry white men contributed to the Reagan revolution of the 1980s, the Gingrich backlash of the 1990s, and the rise of the Tea Party in 2009.

But it wasn’t until 2016 that they found a leader just like them.

Enter Trump, stage right.


The Future of Surplus White Men

Donald Trump would seem an unlikely spokesperson for white workers left behind by the deindustrialization of the United States. With his business empire, Trump has invested overseas in more than 30 countries, outsourced the production of his own brand-named items to foreign companies, and hired undocumented workers for his U.S. facilities. As his recently leaked tax returns reveal, he has also been spectacularly unsuccessful with his ventures even as he has cheated the government out of what he owes in income tax.

Trump knows that playing to Wall Street is not a winning political strategy. Rather, as I point out in a piece in TomDispatch this week, the president has put himself at the front of a white male mob, channeling the violent vigilantism that has erupted periodically throughout American history. In this way, Trump lucked out by appealing to just enough white voters in economically distressed states to eke out an Electoral College victory in 2016.

One month before the 2020 election, the polls suggest that Trump may not be so lucky this time.

The white mob still supports him for all his efforts at closing borders, suppressing minority votes, and celebrating the racist history of the United States. And he still supports the white mob, this week refusing to denounce white supremacy in the first presidential debate. But the president hasn’t delivered on the economy, and the pandemic has claimed too many victims to be easily swept under the rug.

Whoever wins in November, the problem of surplus white men won’t go away. The Democrats, entranced by “third ways” and “post-industrial” economics, have ignored white male workers at their electoral peril. Joe Biden has courted this vote by appealing to his working-class roots in Scranton. But he’ll have to pay more than lip service if he gains the White House.

The past option of sending surplus white men off to other lands is no longer on the table. In taking the problem of surplus white men seriously, it’s not necessary to jettison identity politics or pander to sexism and racism.

Rather, the answer is to create well-paying jobs for all through Green New Deal policies. The bulk of these jobs — retrofitting buildings, creating new energy infrastructure, building a fleet of new electric cars — need to be open to those without college education. As automation advances, new educational opportunities have to be made available as well or else technology will just add to the problem of surplus labor.

Racism and sexism won’t magically disappear with a Green New Deal. Nor are jobs alone the answer. They need to be jobs that promise a future and a sense of belonging to something greater. The Trump campaign has provided its followers with this sense of belonging. So, for that matter, have the Proud Boys. Together they have turned surplus white males into an urgent political problem for this country.

A personnel change in the White House will not solve this problem. But putting into place a dramatic new economic program that relies on working-class Americans to save this country? That puts white men shoulder to shoulder with workers from all backgrounds on behalf of a common purpose? And that links up with Green New Deals in other countries?

That might do the trick of turning a surplus into an asset.


By : John Feffer

Date : September 30, 2020

Source : Foreign Policy in Focus


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What lies ahead for Fridays for Future and the youth climate movement


Students around the world returned to the streets in late September for a global day of climate action for the first time since these Fridays for Future protests had been interrupted in early 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fridays for Future — also known as the climate strike and Youth for Climate — began in 2018 when Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, frustrated by the government’s lack of climate action, staged a series of protests outside the Swedish parliament. Over time, others joined in and the protests became a regular phenomenon with some marches garnering hundreds of thousands of people.

But with physical distancing measures in place across much of the world, the protests stopped and temporarily lost momentum. Given this break, does Fridays for Future have a future? As a researcher of social movements, and a teacher and parent, I have a number of reasons to think the youth climate movement is resilient, and will bounce back after COVID-19.


Motivation, commitment, networks, technology

People get involved in social movements for a variety of reasons. But one common starting point is concern about a particular issue. This is also true of youth climate activists, but their concern registers at an entirely different magnitude.

Many youth have an existential dread of what the climate crisis means for their future. Some question whether they have a future at all. Their commitment to change is significantly greater than it might be for other social movements.

Sociologists also look for the extent to which participants in social movements are connected through social networks. Because youth climate activism is often embedded within school based clubs and organizations, frequent interpersonal interaction tends to reinforce such ties, and in turn, commitment to participate.

The recent Global Day of Climate Action on Sept. 25 did not draw the same crowds as the previous year. But youth did participate with many activities, such as discussion panels, which took place online.

Some groups focused on responding to the Canadian government’s speech from the throne. Others organized groups online to phone local Members of Parliament. In Vancouver, where I live, small groups of youth wearing protective gear and observing physical distancing protocols staged protests outside the the offices of elected politicians.

The tech savviness of youth climate activists is another factor that enhances the prospects of the future of the movement. Youth use social media to stay connected, and to recruit new people. They attract attention from traditional media or bypass traditional media altogether, communicating directly to the public, often through images and videos.


The cycle of protest

A further reason why youth activism is likely to persist is that it is connected to what social movement scholar Sidney Tarrow has called a “cycle of protest.”

Tarrow and other researchers have been interested in how social movement protests diffuse throughout societies. They argue that there are periods characterized by heightened mobilization, protest and communication that flow from one sector to another.

Some examples of cycles of protest include the 1960s movements in the U.S. such as the civil rights, student and anti-war movements; the protests in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s that preceded the fall of the Iron Curtain; and the Arab Spring that occurred in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere in the early 2010s.

In North America, as my American colleague Dana Fisher has documented in her book American Resistance: From the Women’s March to the Blue Wave, a cycle of protest has been occurring since shortly after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in 2017, and this is not likely to end immediately after the presidential election on Nov. 3.

Recent climate strikes fed off this energy. It may also be one of the reasons why Black Lives Matter protests reached the scale they did after the killing of George Floyd. Some youth have been simultaneously involved in multiple social movements (dealing with the environment and also with racial injustices), and these synergies will likely continue to give fuel to future climate strikes.


Climate justice

While youth climate action seems destined to resume after COVID-19 subsides, it will probably take different forms in the future. It is difficult to anticipate the new tactics that youth activists will devise, but future youth climate action will likely link climate concerns to social justice, and take an intersectional approach.

Climate justice refers to the idea that there is a disjuncture between who has contributed to and benefited from producing the climate crisis by burning fossil fuels, and those who will be disproportionately negatively affected by it — and that that gap should be fixed. In the context of youth, this is an intergenerational inequity where older generations have contributed more to the problem, but youth will disproportionately face the consequences.

Because of this insight, youth are often more sensitive to other forms of climate injustice; they have been very active in connecting with Indigenous communities and groups, and Indigenous representatives have played key roles at past in-person climate events. Moving forward, justice issues are likely to become more central to climate protests.


David Tindall receives research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This is an agency that provides funding for academic research. The funding is for research expenses, not the salary of the author. David Tindall has a volunteer affiliation with the Climate Reality Project Canada, for whom he periodically gives educational presentations to public audiences on climate change.


By : David Tindall (Professor of Sociology, University of British Columbia)

Date : October 6, 2020

Source : The Conversation 


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