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EARTH FIRST – DEFEND THE PLANET – On Sabotage and Arson Attacks in Europe

24 Jul

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by Paris sous Tension n°10 (juillet/août 2017) / Attaque translated by Earth First! Journal

If silence is frightening, it is perhaps because the absence of familiar sounds tends to reject us on ourselves. When we advance in the silent darkness, it is not uncommon for us to speak to ourselves, to whistle a little refrain, to think out loud not to find ourselves a prey to the anguish. This is not easy and may even require some exercise, as our brains have been conditioned to identify silence with danger, darkness with risk. It is the anguish that the emptiness provokes, the feeling of being on the edge of the abyss and not being able to turn our eyes away from the abyss that opens before us. Yet it is also at such times that one tends to be closer to oneself, without an intermediary, with a presence of mind and emotion much more assertive.

It is difficult to find silence or obscurity in the modern world. Industrial noises always accompany us, the devices emit their electronic sounds permanently, and if not, there is almost always one to fill the void with gossip as impenetrable as superficial. Today, the fear of the void, the anguish of silence is sublimated by permanent connectivity. Never alone, never in silence, never before the abyss. And so, never face to face with ourselves. Calls and voices from the “inside,” the whole universe of imagination, consciousness, sensitivity, reflection, are rendered mute, ignored, flattened and replaced by the continuous bombardment of information, E-mails, appointments, consumer warnings, and reminders. Thus, the modern world is completing the inner universe of the individual. With the annihilated interior, the human being will find himself in ideal conditions to accept slavery, even to embrace slavery without even having the ability to understand the state in which he is: Caught in the web.

All this is certainly not new. The history of oppression did not start with the smartphone. Not so long ago, the conditioning of the human spirit was done mainly through a galaxy of camps. The factory camp, the education camp that is the school, the control camp that is the family authority and the places of worship. Nevertheless, despite the threads woven between all these structures of domination, there was still, relatively speaking, a lot of emptiness. And this void was going to fuel the revolt in the camps, and vice versa. The prisoner who is mutinous has, nevertheless, his eyes riveted on the horizon beyond the walls, it does not matter if his imagination of this horizon can please us or not. Although the camps of all types have certainly not disappeared, the ongoing capitalist and state restructuring, notably through the increasingly widespread introduction of technology, is aimed, beyond increased exploitation and control, more totalitarian, to the elimination of all emptiness. The adage of permanent connectivity is at the heart of this deadly symphony. Connected, we are always a bit at work, a little in family, a little in the supermarket, a little at the concert. Connected, one is always exposed to the injunctions of power, to the summons to consume, to the eyes of the control. We are entirely at the disposal of capital, we are the slaves who wear invisible collars.

Someone said that if the society is an open-air prison, the modern cells must be these antennas and communications relays that contrast everywhere with the blue sky, and the barbed wire optic fibers and electrical cables. Indeed, for those who dream of stopping the reproduction of domination, it seems to be paramount that they can look elsewhere and otherwise. It is not that the local police station should no longer attract the attention of the enemy of authority, or that the window of the bank would not deserve to be smashed, or that the court should not receive [what it deserves], but it is also true that domination has spread over the territory a vast number of relatively small and unprotected structures, of which more and more, if not almost everything, depend. It is in these little things that the invisible web which encloses us and which allows the restructuring of capital and of the State materializes. It is there that the arteries of domination which irrigate the exploitation and oppression can be attacked; this is where technological prostheses and their enslaved chatter can be silenced.

This is what happened when a fire destroyed the technical installations and cables of France 3, on April 21, 2017 in Vanves (Hauts-Seines), disrupting emissions. This is what happened when anonymous hands cut an Orange telephone cable in Morbihan on May 4, fifteen minutes before the presidential debate, depriving thousands of viewers and hundreds of companies of their connectivity. This is what happened on Monte Finonchio in Trentino, Italy, when in solidarity with imprisoned anarchists, several relays and cabins for radio, television, mobile telephony and military communication Were destroyed by fire on 7 June, the day after the conviction of an anarchist companion for a bank robbery by the court of Aachen in Germany. This happened on 12 June in Hamburg, where a subway station was set on fire. This is what happened a few days later when night owls burned a television transmitter and a mobile phone antenna in Piégros-la-Clastre in the Drôme on 15 June, and later stated that “the pylons Which grow everywhere are sensitive and vulnerable points because they are points of concentration of flow and because it suffices a few liters of gasoline to seriously damage them. “And on June 23, it is in Vilvoorde in Belgium that a relay antenna is destroyed by a voluntary fire.

These few examples, probably far from exhaustive and all drawn from the last few weeks, show that everywhere, the cut is possible. It must also be said that, unlike the authoritarian who can only conceive of the world’s upheaval through the taking of the temples of power and the management of large masses, a sort of impossible symmetry with a much better equipped enemy, We anarchists emphasize the agility of small groups, the capacity of the individual, the spread of hostilities rather than their centralization, inter-individual relations of reciprocity, trust and knowledge. Such a way of organizing seems to us much more interesting to attack the ever more tentacular enemy, dependent on the interconnection between all its structures. Faced with the spread of a vast number of small transmission structures on the territory, nothing is more appropriate than a myriad of small groups, acting autonomously, able to co-ordinate with each other when this makes sense, practicing the old art of sabotage against the arteries of power. In the silence they impose on machines, in the perturbation they inflict on the “real time” of domination, we will find ourselves face to face with ourselves. And this is an unavoidable condition for a practice of freedom.

***FRENCH***

Si le silence fait peur, c’est peut-être parce que l’absence de bruits familiers tend à nous rejeter sur nous-mêmes. Quand on avance dans l’obscurité silencieuse, il n’est pas rare qu’on se parle à nous-mêmes, qu’on siffle un petit refrain, qu’on réfléchisse à haute voix pour ne pas se retrouver en proie à l’angoisse. Cela n’est pas facile et peut même exiger un peu d’exercice, car nos cerveaux ont été conditionnés pour identifier silence avec danger, obscurité avec risque. C’est l’angoisse que provoque le vide, le sentiment de se trouver au bord de l’abîme et de ne pas être capable de détourner les yeux du gouffre qui s’ouvre devant nous. Pourtant, ce sont aussi à ces moments-là qu’on a tendance à se trouver au plus près de soi-même, sans intermédiaire, avec une présence de l’esprit et de l’émotion bien plus affirmée.

Difficile de trouver encore du silence ou de l’obscurité dans le monde moderne. Les bruits industriels nous accompagnent toujours, les appareils émettent en permanence leurs sons électroniques, et sinon il y en a presque toujours un pour remplir le vide avec des bavardages aussi imbuvables que superficiels. Aujourd’hui, la peur du vide, l’angoisse du silence est entre autres sublimée par la connectivité permanente. Jamais seul, jamais en silence, jamais devant l’abîme. Et donc, jamais face à face avec nous-mêmes. Les appels et les voix de « l’intérieur », tout cet univers que constituent l’imagination, la conscience, la sensibilité, la réflexion, sont rendus muets, ignorés, aplatis et remplacés par le bombardement continu d’informations, de bruits, de messages électroniques, de rendez-vous, de sommations à la consommation, de rappels à l’ordre. Ainsi, le monde moderne est en train d’achever l’univers intérieur de l’individu. Avec l’intérieur anéanti, l’être humain va se retrouver dans des conditions idéales pour accepter l’esclavage, voire pour embrasser l’esclavage sans même disposer de capacités de compréhension de l’état dans lequel il se trouve. Pris dans la toile.

Tout cela n’est certes pas nouveau. L’histoire de l’oppression n’a pas commencé avec le smartphone. Il n’y a pas si longtemps, le conditionnement de l’esprit humain se faisait surtout à travers une galaxie de camps. Le camp de travail qu’est l’usine, le camp d’éducation qu’est l’école, le camp de contrôle que sont l’autorité familiale et les lieux de culte. N’empêche que malgré les fils tissés entre toutes ces structures de la domination, il restait encore, relativement parlant, beaucoup de vide. Et ce vide allait alimenter la révolte dans les camps, et inversement. Le prisonnier qui se mutine a, malgré tout, les yeux rivés sur l’horizon au-delà des murs, peu importe si son imaginaire de cet horizon peut nous plaire ou pas. Si les camps de tout type n’ont certes pas disparu, la restructuration capitaliste et étatique en cours, notamment à travers l’implantation toujours plus vaste de technologies, vise, au-delà d’une exploitation plus accrue et d’un contrôle encore plus totalitaire, à l’élimination de tout vide. L’adage de la connectivité permanente est au cœur de cette symphonie mortifère. Connecté, on est toujours un peu au boulot, un peu en famille, un peu au supermarché, un peu au concert. Relié, on est toujours exposé aux injonctions du pouvoir, aux sommations de consommer, aux yeux du contrôle. Nous sommes entièrement à disposition du capital, nous sommes les esclaves qui portent des colliers invisibles.

Quelqu’un disait que si la société est une prison à ciel ouvert, les guérites modernes doivent bien être ces antennes et relais de communication qui contrastent partout avec le ciel bleu, et les barbelés les fibres optiques et les câbles électriques. En effet, pour celles et ceux qui rêvent d’enrayer la reproduction de la domination, il semble être primordial qu’ils et elles arrivent à regarder ailleurs et autrement. Ce n’est pas que le commissariat du coin ne devrait plus attirer l’attention de l’ennemi de l’autorité, ou que la vitrine de la banque ne mériterait pas d’être fracassée, ou que le tribunal ne devrait pas recevoir des visites enragées, mais c’est aussi vrai que la domination a diffusé sur le territoire une vaste quantité de structures relativement petites et peu protégées dont toujours plus de choses, pour ne pas dire presque tout, dépendent. C’est dans ces petites choses que la toile invisible qui nous enferme et qui permet la restructuration du capital et de l’État se matérialisent. C’est là que peuvent être attaquées les artères de la domination qui irriguent les chmps de l’exploitation et de l’oppression ; c’est là que peuvent être réduites au silence les prothèses technologiques et leurs bavardages asservissants.

C’est ce qui s’est passé quand un feu a détruit les installations techniques et les câbles de France 3, le 21 avril 2017 à Vanves (Hauts-les-Seines), perturbant les émissions. C’est ce qui s’est passé quand des mains anonymes ont coupé un câble téléphonique Orange dans le Morbihan, le 4 mai, quinze minutes avant le débat présidentiel, privant des milliers de téléspectateurs et des centaines d’entreprises de leur connectivité. C’est ce qui s’est passé sur le Monte Finonchio dans le Trentin en Italie quand en solidarité avec des anarchistes emprisonnés, plusieurs relais et cabines de gestion de la radio, de la télévision, de la téléphonie mobile et de la communication militaire ont été détruits par le feu le 7 juin, le lendemain de la condamnation d’une compagnonne anarchiste pour un braquage de banque par le tribunal d’Aix-la-Chapelle en Allemagne. C’est ce qui s’est passé le 12 juin à Hambourg où une antenne-relais du métro a été incendiée. C’est ce qui s’est encore passé quelques jours plus tard quand des noctambules ont brûlé un émetteur de télévision et une antenne de téléphonie mobile à Piégros-la-Clastre dans la Drôme le 15 juin, précisant par la suite que « les pylônes qui poussent un peu partout sont des points névralgiques et vulnérables parce que ce sont des points de concentration des flux et parce qu’il suffit de quelques litres d’essence pour les endommager gravement. » Et, le 23 juin, c’est à Vilvorde en Belgique qu’une antenne-relais est détruite par un incendie volontaire.

Ces quelques exemples, sans doute loin d’être exhaustifs et tous tirés des dernières semaines, montrent qu’un peu partout, la coupure est possible. Il faut dire aussi qu’à l’inverse des autoritaires qui ne peuvent concevoir le bouleversement du monde qu’à travers la prise des temples du pouvoir et la gestion de masses importantes, en une sorte de symétrie impossible avec un ennemi bien mieux équipé, nous, anarchistes, mettons en avant l’agilité de petits groupes, les capacités de l’individu, la diffusion des hostilités plutôt que leur centralisation, des rapports interindividuels de réciprocité, de confiance et de connaissance. Une telle manière de s’organiser nous paraît bien plus intéressante pour attaquer l’ennemi toujours plus tentaculaire et dépendant de l’interconnexion entre toutes ses structures. Face à la dissémination sur le territoire d’une vaste quantité de petites structures de transmission, rien n’est plus adapté qu’une myriade de petits groupes, agissant en autonomie, capables de se coordonner entre eux quand cela fait sens, pratiquant de façon diffuse le vieil art du sabotage contre les artères du pouvoir. Dans le silence qu’ils imposent aux machines, dans la perturbation qu’ils infligent au « temps réel » de la domination, on se retrouvera face à face avec nous-mêmes. Et cela est une condition incontournable pour une pratique de la liberté.

 

 

 

 

Earth First – Serve the People – Defend the Planet and all its life forms at all costs and by any means necessary! Rise Up and Defend your Mother!

 

The real History; Juana Azurduy de Padilla; Bolivian guerrilla fighter who fought against the Spanish rule in South America. International day of women’s rights

5 Mar

 

Juana Azurduy de Padilla was a Bolivian guerilla fighter who fought against the Spanish rule in South America. It was this day in 1816 that she along with 200 Indian women on horseback, defeated the Spanish troops in Bolivia.

Juana Azurduy Llanos (July 12, 1780 or 1781 – May 25, 1862) was a South American guerrilla military leader.

She was born on July 12, 1780 or 1781 in the town of Chuquisaca, Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (now Sucre, Bolivia). She was Mestizo by ethnicity, meaning she was half Spanish and half indigenous. “Her mother married into a family of property” meaning she married into a more wealthy family. Her father, however, was killed by Spaniards, and the killer apparently got away without any repercussions. She grew up in Chuquisaca and at the age of 12 joined a convent to become a nun. She was then expelled at the age of 17 because she rebelled too often. She married Manuel Ascencio Padilla in 1805, a man who shared her love of the indigenous populations in Bolivia. She spoke Spanish and two South American languages: Quechua and Aymara. Juana Azurduy was born in Toroca, a town located in the Municipality of Potosí in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (present-day town of Ravelo, Potosí Department, Bolivia) on July 12, 1780. Her parents were Don Matías Azurduy, a rich white owner of many properties and Doña Eulalia Bermudes, a chola from Chuquisaca.

Upon their return they raised an army and joined in the fighting in the area. She fought a guerrilla style war against the Spanish from 1809 to 1825. On March 8, 1816, her forces temporarily captured the Cerro Rico of Potosí, the main source of Spanish silver, also leading a cavalry charge that resulted in the capture of the enemy standard. For these actions she was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on August 16, 1816, by Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, the Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata at Buenos Aires. However, Shortly after Juana, who was expecting her fifth child, during a battle in November 1816, she was injured and her husband was killed while trying to save her, The body of her husband was hanged by the realists in the village of Laguna, and Juana found herself in a desperate situation: single, pregnant and with realistic armies effectively controlling the territory. After giving birth to a girl, she joined the guerrillas Martin Miguel de Guemes , which operated in northern Alto Peru. On the death of this leader guerrillas north dissolved, and Juana she was forced to malvivir in the region of Salta. at which she led a counterattack to recover the body of her husband. When the Spanish eventually counter-attacked in 1818, she fled with some of her soldiers to Northern Argentina where she continued to fight under the command of the Argentinean governor/guerrilla leader, General Martín Miguel de Güemes. She was appointed to the position of commander of patriotic Northern Army of the Revolutionary Government of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. With this army she was able to establish an insurrection zone, until the Spanish forces withdrew from the area. She was so determined to the cause that she actually fought while she was pregnant, at one point, giving birth to her daughter, then returned to the fight soon after. At the highest point of her control, she commanded an army with an estimated strength of 6,000 men. After her military career was over she returned to Sucre (Chuquisaca), where she died on May 25, 1862. Throughout all the conflicts she lost her four sons and her husband, yet she continued to perform her duties until she retired and later died.

 

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At the time of her death, she was forgotten and in poverty, but was remembered as a hero only a century later. She was awarded the rank of general of the Argentine Army in 2009. She also has “The National Programme for Women’s Rights and Participation” of Argentina is also named after her.

A 25-ton, 52-foot-high statue of Azurduy was created in Buenos Aires and unveiled July 15, 2015. It was commissioned by Bolivian president Evo Morales, and placed in the space where a statue of Columbus has stood. As of December 2015, months after its inauguration, it shows weathering damage.

A bas relief sculpture of Juana Azurduy was on display as part of an outdoor exhibition of famous Latin Americans on the grounds of the Pan American Union Building in Washington, DC in Spring 2014. Juana Azurduy is also the subject of a children’s cartoon designed to promote knowledge of Argentine history.

 

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It’s not just racial tension; It’s White Supremacist Capitalist Imperialist Patriarchy! #BecomeUngovernable.

Paul Robeson’s songs and deeds light the way for the fight against Trump;  #BecomeUngovernable

24 Feb

The great American radical showed how ordinary people mattered more than stars – a lesson today’s celebrities could do with learning.

These are strange times for popular music and politics. On the one hand, the opposition to Donald Trump now extends so deeply into the entertainment industry that the president struggled to find any real talent willing to play his inauguration.

On the other hand, it’s by no means clear what difference most anti-Trump interventions by musicians actually make. After all, during the election, the galaxy of A-listers backing Hillary Clinton spectacularly failed to generate either turnout or votes, with some pundits even suggesting the campaign’s reliance on celebrity power legitimised Trump’s claim to fighting “liberal elites”.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of music and the uses of fame over the last few years, as I’ve worked on my book No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson.

The son of an escaped slave, Paul Robeson graduated Phi Beta Kappa on a scholarship from Rutgers before studying law at Columbia university. He was arguably the greatest footballer of his generation (some say of all time); he played basketball professionally and was seriously tipped as a heavyweight contender to fight Jack Dempsey. He was handsome and impossibly charismatic, spellbinding, prize-winning orator, who could sing in over 20 languages, including Russian, Chinese, Yiddish and a number of African tongues.

Robeson launched his vocal career in the mid-1920s with reinterpretations of spirituals, the “sorrow songs” of the American plantations. The spirituals expressed the misery of slavery through biblical themes but their innate ambiguity also allowed Robeson to voice the preoccupations of the Harlem Renaissance.

For instance, Go Down, Moses celebrated the release of the Israelites from bondage. But when Robeson sang “let my people go”, his audience understood the challenge to all present-day pharaohs.

Likewise, the exquisite Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child emerged out of the familial separations of slavery. Robeson’s rendition, however, also spoke to the experience of the Great Migration, the process in which African Americans left their homes to flee north for jobs and an escape from racist violence.

 

 

In 1930, Robeson played Othello in London. At that time, the part was always given to a white actor in dark makeup on the more-or-less explicit basis that a black man could not convey the deep humanity of Elizabethan tragedy.

Robeson’s critical and popular triumph not only reshaped Shakespearean theatre, it also struck a blow against the assumptions underpinning Jim Crow America.

You can hear Robeson explaining and performing the final monologue from Othello in this concert recording:

Though Robeson became a huge Hollywood star (in films such as Show Boat, Sanders of the River, The Proud Valley and so on), he consistently struggled to find parts worthy of his talents.

As a musician, he enjoyed more freedom. Critics urged him to embrace a traditional operatic or classical repertoire, but his deepening political commitments led him to identify as a folk singer, assiduously learning languages to perform the songs of different cultures in their original form.

“The artist must take sides,” he announced. “He must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative.”

That declaration was made in the context of the Spanish civil war, a conflict that Robeson, like many others, recognised as the last opportunity to prevent the advance of fascism. He travelled to the Spanish front line in support of the International Brigades, a multiracial, anti-fascist army based on volunteers drawn from almost every country in the world.

In besieged Madrid, the desperate Republicans quite literally deployed Robeson’s music as a weapon, rigging up loudspeakers so that his bass baritone carried to the fascist trenches.

But it was probably in America in the 1940s that Robeson used his celebrity most effectively, in a prolonged campaign against segregation that predated the more famous boycotts of the civil rights era.

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For instance, in a concert in Kansas City, Robeson stopped singing when he realised that, contrary to what he’d been promised, his audience was divided along racial lines. When the booking agent apologized, the victory spurred a broader campaign against discrimination in the state. As the historian Gerald Horne says, “Robeson was a kind of Pied Piper of anti-Jim Crow, journeying from city to city inspiring fellow crusaders.”

In the 1930s, Robeson had visited Moscow and the apparent absence of anti-black feeling amazed him. For the rest of his life, he remained an enthusiastic supporter of the Soviet dictatorship, backing the regime even as news of Stalinist atrocities spread.

Not surprisingly, during the cold war, red baiters in the US increasingly targeted him.

By 1952, Robeson had become, in Pete Seeger’s words, “the most blacklisted performer in America”. The FBI intimidated promoters to deny him venues while radio stations refused to play his records, which were no longer available in the shops. He couldn’t sing at a commercial hall, no producer would put him on stage, and his movie career had long since come to an end. Worse still, the state department denied him a passport, trapping him inside the US.

The destruction of Robeson’s reputation dates from that period, a time when attending a Robeson concert became a suspicious act and sporting records were surreptitiously revised to disguise his past achievements.

Many other figures smeared during McCarthyism – Albert Einstein, Langston Hughes, Charlie Chaplin, WEB Du Bois, etc – have been subsequently rehabilitated. Robeson’s ongoing obscurity stems from his obstinate refusal to recant or back down.

“I am a radical,” he insisted, “and I am going to stay one until my people get free to walk the Earth.”

Called before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956, he was asked why, given his beliefs, he remained in the United States.

“Because my father was a slave,” he replied. “And my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay here, and have a part of it just like you. And no fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear”’

When he won his passport back in 1958, he embarked on a worldwide tour. You can glimpse something of Robeson’s effectiveness as a political singer in the film that survives from his visit to Australia.

 

 

Famously, Robeson gave the first ever recital at the Sydney Opera House – a concert delivered to the trade unionists constructing the building.

In that performance, Robeson sang Ol’ Man River, his best-known track.

The song – from the musical Show Boat – was composed with Robeson in mind by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern, as a conscious imitation of the spirituals. Robeson initially thought the role of Joe in Show Boat to be demeaning – before changing his mind and then utterly dominating both the stage show and the subsequent movie.

In their original form, the lyrics spoke of phlegmatic African American resignation to misery and oppression.

Ah gits weary

An’ sick of tryin’

Ah’m tired of livin’

An’ skeered of dyin’,

But ol’ man river,

He jes’ keeps rolling’ along.

In Sydney, Robeson sang instead:

But I keeps laffin’

Instead of cryin’

I must keep fightin’

Until I’m dyin’

When he mouthed the word “laffin’’’, his lip curled in scorn; at “fightin’”, he punched his fist in the air, making clear to the listening unionists that he had in mind their shared enemies: the employers and politicians for whom an uneducated labourer in Sydney was no better than a black man in Tennessee.

The song now suggested that what was inescapable was not resignation but human dignity – the desire for freedom that persisted, and would prevail, like the mighty river itself.

In 1960, construction workers were not respectable. Concert halls did not cater to labourers, whom few considered deserving of fine music or sophisticated entertainments.

So, with the gesture at Bennelong Point, by transforming – if only for a lunch hour – their worksite into the musical venue it would eventually become, Robeson made a statement characteristic of his life and career.

You aren’t, he said to them, simply tools for others; you’re not beasts, suitable only for hoisting and carrying, even if that’s the role you’ve been allotted. You’re entitled to culture, to music and art and all of life’s good things – and one day you shall have them.

According to some accounts, by the end of the performance, men in the crowd were silently weeping.

What made Robeson’s interventions so powerful?

First, and most obviously, he was an extraordinarily gifted artist, over and above his politics. When the critic Peter Deier described Robeson as “the most talented person of the 20th century”, he wasn’t exaggerating.

Second, though Robeson had no compunction about using his fame, he was committed to a politics of social change from below. He didn’t simply urge his fans to donate to a charity or check their personal privilege. On the contrary, he assured them that they themselves had power – and they should use it.

Thus, in 1938, he explained to a journalist how ordinary people mattered more than stars:

During one of my films I was struck by this very forcibly. There was everybody on the set, lights burning, director waiting, head of the company had just come on to the set with some big financial backer to see how things were going – and what happened? Everything stopped. Why? Because the electricians had decided it was time to go and eat, they just put out the lights and went and ate. That’s my moral to your readers.

Third, Robeson persistently sought to connect disparate issues and link varied oppressions, in a manner that’s rare today.

For instance, his film The Proud Valley is based on a comparison that Robeson often made between Welsh mining towns and African American communities.

Likewise, on his Sydney trip, he insisted on meeting with Indigenous activists – and then, in his public appearances (such as in the clip below), raised Australia’s brutal history in the context of the anti-colonial struggles taking place everywhere at that time.

 

 

 

 

Fourth, when Robeson urged his audience to become active, he could often direct them to groups and campaigns through which that activism might be made meaningful. The Opera House concert, for instance, was arranged by trade unionists – and, as a result, Robeson’s performance gave a direct spur to workplace organisation.

That’s an obvious difference between Robeson’s era and the context in which artists are speaking out against Trump in 2017.

In the United States, as in Australia, the trade unions and the radical movements to which Robeson oriented during the latter half of his career have either declined or disappeared, leaving something of an organisational void for grassroots activism.

Under those circumstances, it’s easy for musicians and other celebrities to see themselves as the sole agents for change – and then engage in the sort of self-congratulatory posturing that helps Trump more than it hurts him.

At the same time, significant campaigns do exist, and they’ve been given new impetus by Trump’s victory. The Black Lives Matter movement, in particular, was both reflected in, and reinforced by, hip-hop music in particular – and it’s not surprising that rappers have so far produced some of the best musical responses to the Trump presidency.

As many people have noted, in 2017, we’re entering uncharted political waters. But that doesn’t mean we can’t draw on the resources of the past. As the cultural resistance grows, it’s worth looking back on the giant legacy of Paul Robeson. No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson by Jeff Sparrow is published in Australia by Scribe

Source: Paul Robeson’s songs and deeds light the way for the fight against Trump | Jeff Sparrow | Music | The Guardian

 

 

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