During the height of the movement against neoliberal globalization in the U.S., numerous chants and sayings emerged or were resuscitated, such as, “This is what democracy looks like” or “The whole world is watching.” Fortunately, along with the phenomenon of summit-hopping itself, these utterances have largely fallen into disuse. A particularly nonsensical saying from that moment was “Speaking truth to power.” First coined by Bayard Rustin for a pamphlet he co-wrote in 1955, called Speaking Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence, the notion has been rightfully critiqued by the likes of Noam Chomsky, who stated, “power knows the truth already, and is busy concealing it.” Yet even this does not go far enough, as it maintains the presumption latent in the slogan that there exists a binary between those with power and those without it, or that power as such is a thing one can speak to.
Theorists from Spinoza to Gramsci to Foucault have attempted to wrestle with the question of what power is, arriving at no agreement aside from the fact that power is no one thing. In this sense, power can be understood as being “overdetermined,” a Freudian concept appropriated by Marxist theorists which, as explained by Stuart Hall, allows that “an idea, a symptom, or a dream symbol can itself be the condensation of a set of different chains of meaning, which are not manifest in the way in which the symbol is given.…One has to conceive of it as overdetermined; that is, the same symbol can be determined at different levels, by different kinds of discourses.” The exploration of this discursive malleability of power, as well as the capacity of power to reify certain discourses, is at the heart of the most recent edition of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, volume number 32, published in May of this year by the Institute for Anarchist Studies and oriented around the theme of “Power.”
The following is the manifesto of the recently launched #FuturosIndígenas initiative being organized in so-called Mexico and beyond. Translated by Scott Campbell.
In the midst of this electoral drought, a network of narratives of resistance is born. Facing a climate crisis that threatens our future on the planet, that puts our lives and territories at risk, representatives from more than 20 Indigenous peoples are organizing to confront this emergency. To reforest minds, to indigenize hearts.
We are defending territory, our way of being and existing; we are uniting efforts and hearts through communicative actions and the creation of narratives in defense of life. We name ourselves Kiliwa, Cucapá, Nahua, Acolhua, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ñu Savi, Hñatho, Amuzga, Purépecha, Ayuuk, Afro-descendant, Zapoteca, Popoluca, Maya, K’iche’, Wayuu, Zoque and germinate as #FuturosIndígenas [#IndigenousFutures].
Today, May 31, in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, students from the Mactumactzá Rural Normal School took over at least 11 commercial trucks and set up a blockade to the protest the May 18 state attack against them as they were protesting against changes to the school admissions process. During that previous attack, 95 people were arrested, women were subjected to sexual assault, and many were injured by police beatings. All 95 face serious charges, with 19 still being held in the high-security El Amate prison. Joining the students in protest both today and on May 18 were displaced Indigenous Tzotzil residents from Chenalhó, forced to flee their homes due to paramilitary violence.
The following piece by Erika Lozano, published by Desinformémonos and translated by Scott Campbell, discusses the hunger strike started by women from Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca, demanding the release of seven political prisoners from the community.
Mazatec women encamped in front of the Federal Judiciary Council in Mexico City to demand the release of their relatives after seven years in prison. Argelia Betanzos, Bertha Reynosa and Carmela Bonfil, from Eloxochitlán, Oaxaca, demanded a meeting with the president of the council, Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea.
“What brings us here is desperation, since the innocence of our family members has been proven by legal evidence, as has the fabrication of the crimes of which they are accused,” explained Betanzos during an interview. She is the daughter of prisoner Jaime Betanzos Fuentes, and she started a hunger strike on Tuesday, May 25, stating she will not leave until she has an answer. She also denounced that “using the pandemic as a pretext,” there has been no progress in the case on the part of Oaxacan authorities.
On Tuesday, May 18, around 120 students from the Mactumactzá Rural Normal School blockaded the Chiapa de Corzo-San Cristóbal highway in Chiapas, Mexico. The students were protesting changes to the admissions process to the school that would disadvantage working class, rural and Indigenous students. Seen as an attempt to change the makeup of the student body or as a step towards closing the school (which has already been closed four times by the Mexican state), students took to the streets, along with others who joined in solidarity.
In response, Chiapas State Police brutally attacked the blockade, firing tear gas and beating students with batons. In total, 95 people were arrested, 74 women and 19 men, all but two of them students. All 95 were moved to the high-security prison of El Amate. During the course of the arrests and transfer, the women students were forced to strip naked and were sexually assaulted by police. All those arrested are facing charges of rioting with a gang enhancement, violent robbery, damages, and attacks on the public peace and the bodily and cultural integrity of the state.
Above is an interview/conversation I had with Daniel for his D Report podcast. We discussed the case of Yaqui political prisoner Fidencio Aldama, the history of Yaqui resistance in defense of their territory, settler colonialism, and racialized neoliberal extractivist capitalism. For more details on the podcast, please see Daniel’s post here.
Content Warning: Includes discussion of self harm and suicide.
For T, J, T, R, and E
I have the annoying habit of smiling all the time. It’s a defense mechanism. It is meant to make someone like me, to appear friendly, amiable and amenable, and to wordlessly deflect any inquiry into my mood or state-of-being. It’s designed to pacify, to make one not worry about me. It began in childhood and is now reflexive. It takes conscious effort, active thought, and muscle manipulation to not smile. For decades I have heard about my “beautiful smile” and how “Scott is always smiling.”
As related to me by my parents, once I was able to crawl, when I had to cry, I would crawl into an empty room to do it, so as not to bother anyone. Though I can now walk, I still do that today. Smile all the way into the empty room, or car, or bathroom floor, until I can weep freely. Though even that’s not true: I try to avoid making too much noise so as not to attract attention.
A message from Yaqui political prisoner and land defender Fidencio Aldama from prison in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, Mexico. Fidencio has been locked up since October 27, 2016 and is serving 15+ years for a crime he did not commit.
The following article, translated partially by me from the Spanish version on Pie de Página, looks at the women-led struggle against the passing of a U.S. company’s gas pipeline through Yaqui territory in so-called Mexico. It also touches on the case of Yaqui political prisoner Fidencio Aldama, serving a 15+ year sentence related to resistance to the pipeline. For more information on Fidencio, visit fidencioaldama.org.
Text: Daliri Oropeza and Reyna Haydee Ramirez Photos: Daliri Oropeza
The gas pipeline was already a foregone conclusion, at least that’s what the company, the subsidiary, and the government of Sonora thought. They were wrong. Yaqui women narrate how they have stopped this project.
Loma de Bácum, Sonora: A gigantic metal pipe can be seen at the bottom of a hole in the earth. The family of Carmen García look into the hole which was dug by the people of Loma de Bácum to remove the gas pipeline.
The people used an excavator they seized from the company IEnova, affiliate of the United States transnational, Sempra Energy. The company was building the gas pipeline without the approval of those who live there. A consultation was never carried out. So, after an assembly, the entire community went to where the pipeline was being laid. There, they excavated and cut out with a blowtorch nearly ten kilometers of pipeline, which they then took to Ciudad Obregón to sell as scrap metal.
On the most recent episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with Clay Colmon, who teaches in the Cultural Studies Department at Claremont Graduate University and is the Associate Director of Instructional Design at UPenn’s School of Arts and Sciences. A shorter version also aired on KPFA (Bay Area, Santa Cruz, and Fresno) on April 30. That version can be heard here.
We discussed the potential and meaning of change, the growing capaciousness of Afrofuturism, the power of Black speculative futures, the significance of vision and story in social struggle, the construction of the human, the possibilities of Black transhumanism and posthumanism, and the implications of all of the above.